I received word of this event too late to include it in last week's E-Sylum, but the Society of Private and Pioneer Numismatics (SPPN) sponsored an event at their annual meeting at the Baltimore ANA convention reminiscent of the "Great Debate" over the authenticity of western gold assay bars. The Summer 2008 issue of SPPN's Brasher Bulletin announced that...
PIONEER GOLD FORUM TO DISCUSS CONTROVERSIAL U.S. ASSAY OFFICE 1853 $20S AT ANA'S WORLD'S FAIR OF MONEY
This year's annual meeting at the ANA will consist of a special gathering of the Pioneer Gold Forum, to discuss the controversial proof and prooflike 1853 $20 U.S. Assay Office of Gold Pieces. These pieces were the subject of an inconclusive 1968 PNG (Professional Numismatists Guild - Editor) arbitration.
The Pioneer Gold Forum is an elite group of numismatic experts in the field of pioneer gold and have been carefully chosen for their abilities, willingness and impartiality toward analyzing controversial pioneer numismatic issues. Earlier this year, the Forum analyzed and concluded that the "Prooflike" 1861 Clark, Gruber & Co. $20s were 20th century fantasies, leading to PCGS' subsequent repurchase - and relabeling as fantasies - of erroneously certified overstruck specimens. This years' meeting takes place Saturday August 2, 2008 in Room #320 at the Baltimore Convention Center.
The above illustrations are from CoinFacts.com (not a contested piece). Prior to the meeting the topic was discussed in the Colonial Newsletter Foundation Google groups, where George Fuld revealed:
I had the privilege of examining the USAO $20 gold specimen in about MS-64 which is the EXACT prototype of the "proof" USAO $20 pieces. There are at least 20 exact points on the "proofs" that match the prototype $20 (it only takes seven to establish a finger print). It is obvious to the most novice observer, there is no question that the "proof" dies were made from a transfer process directly from the prototype regular issue $20. Forget the reed differences, X-ray back scatter or other mesures--the coins are strictly concoctions as there is no way genuine proofs can be produced from an original prototype regular issue!!
Of course all the so-called die trials of the USAO pieces came under the same "BAD" category
I started this coin study of the so-called proofs in early 1964 with a group Made up of Dr. James O. Sloss, Abe Kosoff, Eric Newman and myself. As a public service, the Metallurgy Research Laboratory of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. did x-ray studies and photomicrographs and back scatter x-rays. All data was transmitted to Eric about six months later and he carried the ball up to the 1967-8 PNG hearing. One proof was sent to the Secret Service--but they declined to study it as they claimed that the USAO was not a government Mint until 1854 although the USAO was a U S government agency.
Except for some crocodile tears from the present owners of the "proof" twenties and associated trials, the 11:00 AM meeting at ANA on Saturday should put this whole subject to rest.
Of course the last big question is where the coins were made--they certainly weren't manufactured in Paul Franklin's garage!!
I have in my library a copy of the rare John J. Ford report to the 1967 PNG panel. I could not be at the convention that day and did not attend the gathering. Who did? Would someone like to submit a report for next week's E-Sylum? -Editor
Wayne Homren, Editor
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