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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 13, March 26, 2006, Article 2

DAVE BOWERS COMMENTS ON THE RECENT E-SYLUM MENTION OF PAUL FRANKLIN

Regarding John Kleeberg's item last week Dave Bowers writes:
"Interesting stuff on Paul Franklin. According to John J. Ford
a bunch of marvelous new discoveries were found by Franklin in
the "Blake estate," in Boston, descended from the Blake of Gold
Rush fame.

I was suspicious of these and did not rise to the opportunity
to publish Ford-supplied research about certain new coins.
However, another writer on territorial gold coins did so, and
a bunch of this was published in a book intended to be a
standard reference.

The Franklin technique seems to have been to find something
in historical records bearing the name of a person or firm
associated with the Gold Rush. A "new discovery" was then
presented, an item needing research. A writer, dealer, cataloguer,
or someone else was then guided toward contemporary directories,
history, etc., of the Gold Rush and was able to find that John
Doe did indeed go to San Francisco, or that John Smith was listed
as a jeweler or something else in a San Francisco directory or
newspaper or other account. This "proved" that the new item was,
in fact, made in San Francisco, etc. Then, a scenario was
constructed by the writer about John Doe going to San Francisco,
making gold coins or ingots, but "today little is known about
him" etc.

Some efforts were made to have certain pieces listed in the
Guide Book of United States Coins, but editor Ken Bressett
fended most off.

My fine friend John Adams takes the view that Ford had no idea
that these were fake, but swallowed Paul Franklin's stories
whole.

I am not aware that Ford ever manufactured anything, or had
"new" dies for old-looking things in his possession, or new
punches, etc. He openly credited Franklin for his amazing finds
and on occasion financed Franklin's forays into the Southwest,
seeking out new types of ingots, coins, etc.

I knew both Ford (well) and Franklin (in passing). Ford and
Franklin collaborated to create "Republic of Texas doubloons,"
with Walter Breen sworn to secrecy. However, Walter told me, I
discussed the project with Ford, he was upset to know that I
was aware (at the time Breen and Ford were in one of their
estranged periods), and promised me a souvenir doubloon.

According to Ford, this was but a caper to fool the know-it-all
experts in numismatics and, in particular, to sell one to John
Murrell, a Texan who bought a lot of gold coins.  After being
duly amazed, etc., etc., Murrell was to be told the real story,
a refund made, and a good laugh was to be enjoyed by all. Or,
that is how the story was told to me. New Netherlands had been
advertising to buy South American doubloons in The Numismatist.
The scenario was to have been that, surprise!, some incoming
doubloons were of a marvelous and hitherto unknown Republic of
Texas style, counterstamped on real doubloons.

I was told that Breen researched the type of lettering, etc.,
that was to be used, and that the die was to be made in Milan.
There is a somewhat related scenario in which Ford had Franklin
arrange to have made close copies of the Libertas Americana medal,
to be sold and described as copies, by First CoinVestors.  These
were made overseas and became a reality.

I never did see a Republic of Texas doubloon in the flesh, but
there is an illustration of one in Dr. Gregory Brunk's counterstamp
book."

Ken Bressett adds: "I quite agree with all that Dave says, and
have independent confirmation of most of his observations. Over
the years a few questionable Territorial Gold pieces have found
their way into the Guide Book, but were quickly removed. Only one
piece now remains to be proven false, and that will someday be taken
out. In the mean time, it is a relatively harmless novelty that is
rare enough to be of little interest to the average collector, and
has been only the plaything of a couple of dealers."

John Adams adds: "Dave states my views on JJF/PGF accurately. As
an avid medal collector, I should add a comment regarding the
reproduction of the Libertas Americana. Ford's discovery of the
original dies in the Musee des Monnaies, where they had lain
uncatalogued for 200 years, was quite a coup.

The French had disavowed all knowledge of this American treasure
and only someone with JJF's knowledge and intensity would have
tracked down the prize. The dies were too rusty to be used but
transfer dies were made, with the resulting product aesthetically
pleasing on the one hand and in no danger of being confused with
an original on the other."

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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