PREV ARTICLE       NEXT ARTICLE       FULL ISSUE       PREV FULL ISSUE      

V10 2007 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE




The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 40, October 7, 2007, Article 10

SO WHERE’S THE 1783 NOVA CONSTELLATIO PATTERN SET?

Last week my copies of parts 20 and 21 of the Stack's
John J. Ford collection catalogs arrived in the mail.
Part 20 (er, XX) consists of Western Territorial Americana,
and part 21 (XXI) consists of Western Assayer's Ingots.
The preface material to part XXI indicates that it is the
last of the series of sales.   The long-anticipated dispersal
of the Ford ingot collection will certainly be a topic of
discussion for many E-Sylum readers, and I welcome any
and all comments.  But I have a burning question of a
different sort this week:

Did I miss something when I was in London?  What happened
to Ford's 1783 Nova Constellatio pattern set?  Designed by
Benjamin Dudley for Gouveneur Morris to represent his
concept of a coinage system for the new nation, the silver
"Mark" (1,000 units), "Quint" (500 units), and "Bit" (100
units) and the copper "Five" (5 units) were patterns for
a decimal-based coinage system.  I know Stack's tried to
find a buyer for the set several years back, but I didn't
think it sold.  I sat mesmerized while I viewed his
historic set with Ford years ago in a meeting I wrote
about following his death:

 Bumping into him at subsequent ANA conventions was always a thrill.
 I recall sitting with him at the Stack's table at the Detroit ANA,
 where I had been viewing his Nova Constellatio silver pattern
 set, which he was offering for sale through them.  I was transfixed
 as I examined what I still feel is one of the most important sets
 of U.S. coinage ever made.   John had told me about how he
 bid on the pieces he bought from the Garrett sales while we
 spoke at Champa's.   I have an audio tape of his story of how
 he acquired the missing piece needed to reunite the set.

 JOHN J. FORD, JR.
 esylum_v08n28a01.html

Ford's reuniting of the long-lost unique copper "Five" with
the remainder of the set (which he purchased in the Bowers
and Ruddy Garrett Sale in 1979) was a singular achievement
in American numismatics.  To me, this set was the crowning
glory of the John J. Ford collection, eclipsing even the
King of Siam proof set of 1804 dollar fame, which I doubt
Ford would have even cared to bid on.

So where IS the 1783 Nova Constellatio pattern set?  Has
the Ford family decided to hold on to it?  Will they donate
it to the Nation?  Or has it been broken up and sold
privately?  In any event, with the set missing there is
a HUGE gaping hole in the Ford collection catalog series,
and this diminishes the value of the catalogs as the
official record of the core Ford holdings.

Regardless of the reason for not offering the set, why
not spare a few extra pages to document it?  There is
precedent in a number of catalogs for including descriptions
of relevant important pieces even when not actually in the
sale.  In fact, this is done in Ford XXI, where five ingots
Stack's says were stolen during transit are fully pictured
and described even though unavailable for sale (see lots
3509, 3515, 3521, 3527 and 3552).  Can anyone shed some
light on this mystery?

  Wayne Homren, Editor

Google
 
coinbooks.org Web
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization 
promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor 
at this address: whomren@coinlibrary.com

To subscribe go to: https://my.binhost.com/lists/listinfo/esylum
Copyright © 2005 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.

PREV ARTICLE       NEXT ARTICLE       FULL ISSUE       PREV FULL ISSUE      

V10 2007 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE


Copyright © 1998 - 2005 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.

NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster