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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 40, October 1, 2006, Article 7

GUTTAG RESEARCH CAN ANSWER MANY QUESTIONS

Dick Johnson writes: "Robert Rightmire is undertaking a very
worthwhile numismatic research project on Guttag Brothers as mentioned
in last week's E-Sylum. The first place to start a research project
on any numismatic personality is Pete Smith's "American Numismatic
Biographies" where Pete lists a half column on Julius Guttag.

(Please, Dennis Tucker, hire Pete to update this work and publish
it at Whitman. This work is so valuable and copies are so difficult
to obtain. I won't mention what I had to plead to Pete to lend me
the last copy he had available. And No, Pete, I won't give it back
- it is too useful in my writing! Send me an invoice for any amount
up to $500 so I can say its all mine!)

Julius Guttag (1884-1962) is noted in numismatics for two things --
coauthoring a book with George Hetrich on "Civil War Tokens and
Tradesmen's Store Cards" and inventing National Coin Week, both
events occurring in 1924 (although one of his tokens stated "Coin
Week Originated 1923"). Commercially he was a money dealer in lower
Manhattan, foreign exchange, bonds and stocks (but only bank stocks).
It was a natural for him to find an interest in coins.

As for Guttag Brothers, I believe Julius was the only principal
interested in numismatics at the firm (is anything known of any
brother?). Julius was active in numismatic organizations as well,
all located in New York City. He was an ANA board member in 1923.

It looks like he was interested in stamps as well. He came to
Medallic Art Company in 1926 and ordered an "International
Philatelic Exhibition Medal" (26-19). It bears portraits of
Lincoln and Washington face-to-face. I suspect he donated these.
He was so satisfied with these that later that same year he ordered
his own firm's storecard. My notes first stated that there were two
kinds. I scratched that out and wrote in "5 kinds." Medallic Art's
documents were sparse on this medal. I reserved the catalog number
26-37, and never finished cataloging these because I was unaware of
the total number of varieties. There is some evidence he reordered
more in 1927.

Guess what - you can enjoy the "thrill of the chase" in finding as
many varieties of Guttag storecards as possible. See how useful
this research can be!

Any way, these Guttag issues were created by Jonahan M. Swanson
(1888-1963). The two men knew each other and undoubtedly traveled
in the same circles and attended the same numismatic events in NYC.
Swanson is noted for his portrait medals of the presidents of the
New York Numismatic Club (he even had to create his own self-portrait
medal in 1925 for his own presidency!).

Julius liked Swanson's design so well he adopted it as the Guttag
Brothers logo. It portrayed a youthful male examining a medal. A
mature nude female holds open a book, and a scholar's lamp above.
"Rare Coins" is in the exergue below. Julius advertised in the back
of The Numismatist up to 1930 and included that logo, often printed
in red - the only color in The Numismatist until decades later!

I sold nine of those Guttag Brothers "tokens" in my medal auctions.
In lot 557 of my 8th auction (Sept 28, 1980) I sold 3 varieties in
one lot. I stated: "Here are the 3 die types; it is known these were
struck in many compositions. Won't some numismatist research and
publish these varieties?" A plea I could repeat today. Joe Levine
has sold at least three in his medal auctions.  Answer my old plea,
Bob Rightmire, but have some fun doing it!"

[I lent a handful of Guttag Coin Bulletin issues to Bob.  He
photocopied these for his research and promptly returned them -
in better shape than when I sent them!  (He put each in a nice
Mylar protective sleeve).  -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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