Jim Neiswinter has been studying the famous 1869 Levick plate for some time. Some of you may recall his great ANA convention exhibit on the topic. He published an article in the Summer 2008 issue of ANS Magazine, titled Levick, Crosby, and the Plate. Great articles like this are reason alone for numismatic bibliophiles and researchers to belong to the American Numismatic Society (as well as, of course, NBS!) Jim shared his manuscript with me and here are a few excerpts. -EditorThe first, and most famous photographic plate of coins in American Numismatics, was published in the Volume III, April 1869 issue of the American Journal of Numismatics. This plate of 1793 cents with the descriptions of the varieties provided by Sylvester Sage Crosby remains a landmark in numismatic history. The idea for the plate, and the man responsible for putting it all together, was Joseph N. T. Levick.
In the October 1868 AJN issue, editor Levick wrote:
In our next number we intend to furnish Photographic Plates of a number of Types and Varieties of the Cents of 1793, to be accompanied by detailed descriptions; and in the meantime we earnestly solicit our subscribers and friends to send us good rubbings or copper-foil impressions of any specimens which they may chance to possess or, if possible, the cents themselves for a short time. Communications on this subject to be sent to J. N. T. Levick, P.O. Box 4318.
It seems that Levick was overly optimistic to think he could get all this together for the November AJN, since he received only three responses to his request for cents. Consequently, he had to write individually to every well known collector and anyone else he had heard of who possessed 1793 cents. Some collectors didnt think their pieces were fine enough, but Levick wanted to see all their 93s because he wanted to know of every existing variety. He wanted to make the photographs as complete as possible by showing every variety in the best possible condition.
Many years ago, Eric Newman found these obverse and reverse test photographs loosely laid in his same AJN issue as the regular Levick plate. The writing on the photographs is Levicks. It matches the writing in his journal of the project, The Book of Rubbings, which is in the ANS Library. The first eleven pages of this journal contain pencil rubbings of cents, followed by hand-written text that includes owners names and comments on the coins.
The story of the creation of the plates is a delightful account of the state of nineteenth century numismatics in America, with appearances of many of the top collectors and dealers of the time, including Ebenezer Mason, Mortimer Mackenzie, Edward Cogan, and Sylvester Crosby, who later published The United States Coinage of 1793 Cents and Half Cents in 1897.
Neiswinter also details different varieties of the plate, and has gone to great lengths to create a modern version (available for $100 through the ANS) with new photographs of top condition 1793 Cents. Congratulations to Jim on the success of his long term project to decipher the history of this landmark in numismatic publishing. -Editor
THE BOOK BAZARRE
Wayne Homren, Editor
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