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The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 13, March 30, 2008, Article 13

THOMAS CUNNINGHAM: PIONEER RESEARCHER ON POSTAL AND FRACTIONAL CURRENCY

[Jerry Fochtman published a nice article recently on Thomas
Cunningham's landmark Postal and Fractional Currency article
in the American Journal of Numismatics.  It appeared in the
2008 Winter Newsletter of the Fractional Currency Collector's
Board (FCCB).  The article's title is "Thomas Cunningham 
First Fractional Collector/Author."

Jerry kindly forwarded the text and images for reprinting here
in The E-Sylum.  I posted two of the images on the E-Sylum
photo gallery - see the links below.  Thanks! -Editor]

By all accounts, the first real collection of Postage and
Fractional Currency was probably formed by Thomas Cunningham.
He owned a dry goods store in Mohawk, N.Y., where he spent
his entire life.  He also happened to be a neighbor and a
close friend of Francis E. Spinner, who is called the Father
of Postage and Fractional Currency.  Even after Spinner left
office and retired, they corresponded for many years, with
Spinner even giving many of the proto-types and other materials
to Thomas Cunningham.  It is the Cunningham collection that
became part of the Herman Crofoot collection, which was
donated to and now resides in the Smithsonian.

By 1893 very little postage and fractional currency remained
in circulation.  In April, 1893 Thomas Cunningham wrote what
is thought to be the first paper on this part of our numismatic
history, published in the April, 1893 issue of the "American
Journal of Numismatics", which was a periodical published by
the American Numismatic Society.

I had been searching for a copy of this article to include
in my library for some time.  One day I happened to stumble
onto an auction which offered several old black leather books
on numismatics.  What caught my eye was one listed as a reprint
by author Thomas Cunningham.  Fortunately I was successful in
my bidding.  In arranging shipment of the material I learned
that the books came from the library of William A. Philpott, Jr,
who was a well-known Texas banker and numismatist.  His
collection of early Texas documents resides in the Special
Collections at the University of Texas Library.

Cover of William Philpott's Cunningham AJN Offprint
Cover of William Philpott's Cunningham AJN Offprint

Title page of William Philpott's Cunningham AJN Offprint
Title page of William Philpott's Cunningham AJN Offprint

 BOLIN ON FRACTIONAL CURRENCY LITERATURE
 esylum_v09n08a30.html

 QUERY: THOMAS CUNNINGHAM ARTICLE SOUGHT
 esylum_v10n51a10.html

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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