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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 38, September 18, 2006, Article 8

DICK JOHNSON AND DONALD TRITT, WOODEN MEDAL EXPERT

Dick Johnson writes about a shared numismatic interest which led
to a lifelong friendship: "When I was on the staff of Coin World
and found a rare free Sunday, my wife and I traveled from Sidney
to Granville, Ohio to visit a collector and his wife. That was in
1960. This week he returned the favor and visited me here in
Connecticut, 46 years later.

My guest was Donald G. Tritt. We had kept in touch over the years
and knew of each other’s numismatic interests. Don was an authority
on wood medals – not the kind that are imprinted for wooden nickels
– but those pressed from a wood blank. He had formed a collection
of these over the last 46 years. Occasionally I wrote him for details
when I had one or two consigned for my medal auctions.

The conversation was delightful. We reminisced and learned of each
other’s personal experiences. He had gone to college in Chicago for
his doctorate and became a professor of psychology at Denison
University back in Ohio. I learned we had other similar interests -
genealogy for one. He became so involved in that field he became
president and board member of the Swiss Center of North America,
wrote extensively on the subject, and conducted three family reunions
to Switzerland. My genealogical interests were on the lives of
American coin and medal artists.

We even turned on the tape recorder and saved some important facts.
He had known J. Henry Ripstra, an oldtime engraver in Chicago and
onetime ANA president, even purchased Ripstra’s library. He had
attended the country auction of Ripstra’s estate and had brought
a box of his purchases from this estate.

But our conversations kept going back to wood medals. For that I
had to have the tape recorder on. I learned he progressed from wood
medals to early American turned wood items. His collection of these
is so extensive that a group in Wisconsin wants to establish a museum
for these and acquire his collection to serve as the nucleus for
this museum.

It was difficult to stop talking after four hours, and we both avowed
to meet again and not wait another 46 years!

Every numismatist should look to the friends he has meet and shared
a common interest in the field. You could still be friends three,
four even five decades from now."

[These are two great subjects which I don't believe have been touched
on in The E-Sylum before.  I recall seeing some great wooden medals
made for the U.S. centennial in 1876, perhaps at a local club meeting.
These were interesting and very attractive pieces. Has anything been
written about them?   Also, can anyone provide us with more information
on Ripstra?

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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