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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 15, April 9, 2006, Article 15

PORTION OF SCOVILL ARCHIVES SAVED FROM DESTRUCTION

Dick Johnson writes: "I too, share friend George Fuldís
appraisal of the shortcoming of material at the Baker Business
Library at Harvard. A researcher must be pleased however, with
the material he does find in any archives. Pleased with what you
have to work with, but not satisfied to stop looking for more Ė
keep digging!)

Case in point: The Philadelphia Mint could not meet the demands
of the Columbian Exposition officials who wanted raised lettering
on all the Expo Award Medals after the1892-93 Expo. This is a
large chore to make an "insert die" for every medal. The Philadelphia
Mint contracted this to private industry, Scovill Manufacturing with
whom they had a long relationship. (The technology is simple, but very
labor intensive. A cavity must be created in one side of the award
medal dies. A large quantity of steel "inserts" must be made to EXACTLY
fit that cavity. Then each one of the inserts must be engraved with
the lettering to appear as raised lettering on the medal.)

The Baker Library has the journal in the Scovill archives which
recorded the exact inscription on every Columbian Expo award medal.
The trouble is that they have only one journal. The order of 23,757
medals required TWO journals to record all those names. One journal
is missing. The existing journal is gargantuan! It must be 4 feet tall,
with numbers down the left hand side of each page and a nice hand
script entry of the insert die lettering. Does the other journal
still exist? It may. Keep digging.

In all, it took Scovill two years to complete this striking order
even with a small team of workers. Several engravers creating those
insert dies. A pressman or two for striking. A finisher to patina
the medals. And several clerks to keep the records straight and to
enter those names in that journal. Oh! I do hope the other journal
exists.

What should be saved for the archives? Another case in point: When
the old Scovill headquarters building was demolished in Waterbury
in 1995 to make room for a shopping mall (Brass Center Mall) the
demolition crew came across one room that was sealed. No one could
get the door open to enter. A worker climbed down from the roof,
broke open a window and entered the sealed room.

They discovered it was the office of the press officer. It was
filled with material. Filing cabinets and shelving filled with
reports, pamphlets, books, magazines, clippings, company publications,
on and on.

One of the demolition crew saved the material, instead of hauling
it to the dump (bless him!). From four filing cabinets and lots of
shelving he filled 46 boxes. He contacted a friend of mine, who
knew of my interest in Scovill history. He had his company driver
drop off two sample boxes at my home for me to examine and return.

It is exactly what a press officer would save. (I know; I was one
once!) Gist for some future article or report. This is the corporate
intelligence that senior management often needs to make enlightened
decisions (and often needs in a hurry). Perhaps we should be grateful
the room was sealed, and that the material hadnít been discarded
before.

My suggestion was this material should go to the Baker Library to
join the rest of the Scovill archives. I contacted the curator I
had worked with when I researched in their library. He, in turn,
went to his administration. The reply came back, in essence, they
would accept it for donation but would not for purchase.

My friend has the 46 boxes stored at his Waterbury company
storeroom. The material is for sale. The purchaser can be a
Scovill buff, or someone who can make the purchase and donate
it to the Baker Library. (Or it could be a lifetime of very dry r
eading!)"

[Itís tragic what gets thrown away sometimes.  We owe a lot to
the people who take the initiative to save this sort of material,
and it's only right that they should be compensated for their
effort.  Several years ago, someone walking past the Pittsburgh
City Courthouse discovered a large number of boxes of documents
on the sidewalk awaiting trash pickup.  A crew had cleaned out
the attic and documents decades or even a century old were being
thrown out.  A number of boxes were salvaged but a lot went to
a dump.

I've gotten a few items for my numismatic library by being in
the right place at the right time with a catcher's mitt as things
were being thrown in the trash, including a few complete years of
Mehl's Numismatic Monthly and some numismatic correspondence of
Howard Gibbs.   Do any of our readers have a "saved from the trash"
story to tell?  -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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