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The E-Sylum:  Volume 2, Number 5, February 1, 1999, Article 5

RIDDELL RIDES AGAIN  

    Questioner Brad Karoleff wrote to "thank all 
    the people that responded to my inquiry about 
    J.L. Riddell.  I had the information Pete Smith 
    wrote in his book on my shelf (and thank Pete 
    for the expanded information).  The attached 
    note was the last piece of information that I was 
    looking for in my research.  It all goes to show 
    that if you ask the right question in the right forum 
    you will get the right answer!"  

    Well Brad, we're not done yet.  A few more 
    folks chimed in, and I finally found a moment to 
    retrieve a key reference from my own library.  

    Subscriber John Tidwell writes: "The final piece 
    of information that I can add to Pete's answer is 
    that Riddell served as the postmaster of the city 
    of New Orleans from 1860 - 1863.  Prior to that 
    he had also served the city as a member of it's 
    Sanitary Commission during the study of the causes 
    of Yellow Fever."  

    William T. Gibbs,  Coin World News Editor, writes: 
    "It was nice to see  the reference to John Leonard 
    Riddell. I hope to write an article about him in an 
    upcoming issue of Coin World. I've not completed 
    my research just yet (a reprint of  his "Monograph of 
    the Silver Dollar" is on my desk even as I type this), 
    but hope that article appears by mid-year. I'd 
    appreciate any help anyone can give me." 
    Write to bgibbs@coinworld.com  

    A final note from your newsletter editor - the single 
    best source of information I've ever found on 
    Riddell is a monograph by Karlem Riess of Tulane 
    University, first published in the Tulane Studies in 
    Geology and Paleontology (Vol 13,  Nos 1-2, 
    September 1, 1977).   The 110-page study was 
    also produced as an offprint by the Louisiana 
    Heritage Press.  The study reveals Riddell as a 
    very colorful character, with achievements in the 
    fields of medicine, botany, chemistry, geology, 
    and physics.  While Director of the New Orleans 
    Mint, charges were brought against him by a 
    former mint workman, and Riddell was convicted 
    of assault and battery.  

    As an avid reader of footnotes, I discovered 
    two tantalizing gems for bibliophiles:   one is 
    a reference to a treatise that may never have 
    been published - "Short Historical Account of 
    the United States Branch Mint in New Orleans, 
    Louisiana, and its Operations, Together with the 
    Coining Process".  

    The other item is a note that Riddell's diaries 
    were used in researching the study, and that 
    they are on deposit at the Howard-Tilton 
    Memorial Library at Tulane University in 
    New Orleans.  Wow!  

    One last note - in the current issue of The Asylum, 
    Mike Hodder discusses the pedigrees of the 
    known original Confederate Half Dollars.  One of 
    these four coins was presented to a "Dr. Biddle". 
    Hodder, myself, and Mark Borchart (in his 1994 
    monograph on "Coinage of the Confederacy") 
    believe this actually refers to none other than 
    our hero Professor John Leonard Riddell. 

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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