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The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 11, March 16, 2008, Article 3

BOOK REVIEW: UNITED STATES FUGIO COPPER COINAGE OF 1787 BY ERIC NEWMAN

Eric Newman's 'United States Fugio Copper Coinage Of 1787'
is a long-awaited and welcome addition to the literature of
U.S. numismatics.  I'm no expert in the Fugio coinage, but
the color photographs and diagnostic text seem quite useful.
The text is well-written and eminently readable.  I'm glad
to have it in my library, and recommend it to all collectors
of U.S. coinage, colonial or Federal.  The Fugio coppers were
the first coinage officially authorized by the new nation,
and every collector should know about them.  The following
paragraph from Newman's text aptly sums up the series:

"From the awarding of the contract to Jarvis over the superior
proposal of Matthias Ogden, to the illegal distribution of
government copper stock, to Jarvis' failed European sojourn,
to his mumble-mouthed apologies to Congress, to Flint's rise
and fall, the Fugio coppers seemed a cursed coinage, a study
in failure, a comedy of repeated accidents and errors.  Has
the Fugio contract coinage experiment succeeded, American
numismatic history may have turned out far different - perhaps
contract coinages would have been the rule, precluding the
founding of a Federal mint.  The most powerful men in government
watched the after effects of the Fugio debacle, including
Alexander Hamilton, as a hard-charging attorney on behalf of
the government and Congressional inquisitor, and Thomas
Jefferson, as a commentator against speculators like Duer
and Flint. Both became powerful defenders of the Federal Mint
through many trials and inquiries during its first decade,
suggesting they learned from the embarrassing experiment that
was contract coinage."

I'd reference a page number for the above quote, but there's
a problem - the pages aren't numbered (it's page 16 by my count).
That's an unfortunate omission, although distributor Charles
Davis notes that "None of the Noyes books has page numbers.
The only people I have heard complain about that are book
cataloguers who want to put down the number of pages."  Well,
you can add book reviewers to that list, as well as any
researcher wishing to quote or otherwise reference the book's
excellent text.

But that's a minor point - the book is very well done.  The
glossy paper stock is great printing the 3x color photographs
of the obverses and reverses of the coins.   The images are
supplemented with diagnostic pointers and notes.

Everything I expect in a numismatic book is there in fine form
- footnotes, bibliography, supporting material, and complete
direct quotes from relevant source material.  I enjoyed the
sections on errors, 19th century copies, and numismatist
Horatio N. Rust and the Fugio dies.  Any bibliophile worth
his salt would love to have discovered Rust's handwritten
"Mem(oramdum) of Fugio cent" in Rust's personal copy of
Crosby's "Early Coins of America." (transcribed on p22 or
thereabouts).

There are one or more pages for each of the die varieties,
which are shown with rarity levels and commentary for each.
The varieties are assigned Newman numbers, such as "Newman
- 12 KK".

Repeating the full Newman name on every page seemed a waste
of ink to me, but Charlie Davis made a good case for reinforcing
the use of the complete attribution over an abbreviation. He
writes: "Ink is cheap, and that's the way the coins will be
attributed. How many New Jersey collectors say they have a
M35-J. rather than Maris 35-J. or an R-16 instead of Ryder 16?
The use of the full Newman will eliminate confusion with other
series. How many N's are there? Let's see, we have a Newcomb,
a Noe and now a Newman designation. It is less confusing to
use the full name."

Contributors to this fine volume include photographer Bill
Noyes, John Kraljevich and Ken Bressett.  It was published
by Jon Lusk and is distributed by Charles Davis, and has 176
unnumbered pages.

The book is available in two versions: blue cloth at $125.00
(plus $7.00 shipping to U.S. addresses), and half Morocco
with a signed bookplate at $550.00 (plus $15 shipping). Each
may be ordered from Charles Davis at Box 547, Wenham MA 01984."

Davis adds: "I sold the Rust copy of Crosby in my May 2005
mail bid sale where it was described as follows:

"287 Sylvester Crosby: The Early Coins of America and the Laws
Governing Their Issue ..., 1875, 381 pages, 10 heliotype plates,
2 folding manuscript plates, 110 wood engravings in the text,
contemporary half morocco lightly worn at the spine and corners
but binding tight, internally clean and fine, printed leaf from
Crosby dated October 1874 stating that an 11th part will be
necessary tipped to rear blank leaf, bookplate of Horatio Rust
on the front pastedown. (1,500.00)

"Horatio Rust’s copy with the story of the “New Haven” restrike
of the Fugio cent contained in a manuscript note “Mem of Fugio
Cent” in his hand tipped to page 296. “In 1859 I called in New
Haven and hunted the city all day trying to find the dies in
which the Fugio cent was struck ... I was at West Haven with a
coin collector who directed me to a store in Chapel Street which
had descended from Brown and Platt who did the coinage. I there
found the dies, bought two pairs and one odd die for $20.00. I
took them to Waterbury and had 500 coins struck in copper, 50
in silver and one in gold. I sold one pair and the odd die to a
coin dealer in New York I think it was Curtis. Later I sold the
remaining die to Randall of Penna. (Signed) Horatio N. Rust.”. "

 NEW BOOK: UNITED STATES FUGIO COPPER COINAGE OF 1787 BY ERIC NEWMAN
 esylum_v11n08a05.html

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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