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The E-Sylum:  Volume 8, Number 31, July 17, 2005, Article 11

JOHN J. FORD, JR. - INFORMATION HOARDER?

Refering to the controversy surrounding John Ford which
Dave Bowers alluded to, Richard Doty writes, "..and how
'bout those Western Gold Bars, huh?"

As noted previously in The E-Sylum, Kleeberg and Prof.
T. V. Buttrey, Jr. maintain a website about western gold bars
and Mexican gold bars. On the site Kleeberg has published
his viewpoint on Ford and the gold bars. With permission
I've excerpted a couple sections from his most recent piece
mentioning the dearth of Ford's published writing on numismatics,
which Dick Johnson and others have lamented.

Kleeberg writes: "Yet his career resulted in him being
remembered not for the work he did, but for his notorious
habit of hoarding information and never publishing it;"

"From Olga Raymond he bought the rights to Wayte Raymondís
publications. Unfortunately, since Ford had a phobia about
publishing, this resulted in the deep sixing of many useful
numismatic series, such as the Standard Catalogue and the
Coin Collectorís Journal."

"Fordís coin collection and his library were auctioned
beginning in 2003. Collectors were astonished. Here were
coins, paper money, books, and research papers that they
had not seen for half a century. Many researchers were deeply
angered by Fordís dog in the manger attitude, which had hidden
away from them items that were vital for their research."
Full Story

[Aside from his auction cataloging, Ford published relatively
few articles and nothing of book length, with the exception
of his 1967 report to a committee of the Professional Numismatists
Guild investigating allegations of false USAOG coins; "The
Franklin Hoard of United States Assay Office of Gold Coins:
An Answer to Eric P. Newman." Ford tightly controlled the
distribution of these, making originals very rare today
(although photocopies have been made over the years).

I can't speak for other research efforts, but when I was
involved in the research that came together in Fred Reed's
book on U.S. Encased Postage Stamps, Ford made available
an inventory of his collection and contributed information on
how EPS could be altered or switched. Certainly, from other
accounts I've heard or read Ford was selective about what
information he would disclose and to whom. Just as certainly,
no one is ever obligated to share their information with others.

I'm sure our readers have thoughts on the subject. It must
be frustrating to work on a research project knowing that
information that would be useful is not being made available.

In some cases I'm sure, the lack of time to respond to information
requests is one factor. Karl Moulton's recent survey of
numismatic auction catalogs is one example, where he notes that
a number of collectors approached did not respond. I know that
I might have been in this category myself, but was able to
contribute at the last minute, with the urging of Tom Fort.
-Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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