Once the Round Hill mansion was completed, more than 100 employees were required to maintain it and the grounds, and to tend to the needs of its owner and guests. Some of the female staff worked exclusively on his various collections. The Colonel treated Round Hill as his summer home, assiduously occupying it only between July 1 and December 31, in order to avoid, for tax purposes, the appearance of establishing residency in Massachusetts.
The January/February 2009 issue of Paper Money
, the official journal of the Society of Paper Money Collectors (SPMC) has a great original article by Peter Huntoon on legendary collector Col. Edward H. R. Green.
Heir to the fortune of his mother Hetty Green, the infamous "Witch of Wall Street", Green was a man of large stature, and was "by every account a very personable, affable fellow, loyal, generous to his friends, not one to hold a grudge, passionate in his interests, and possessor of a fine sense of humor... Hetty died when Ned was 47, and he immediately made life style changes that materially improved his comforts. His collecting interests, apparently already established, blossomed." He assembled world-class collections of coins and paper money, as well as stamps, jewelry and naughty magazines. After his death in 1936, it took a convoy of eight armored cars escorted by state police and private guards to transport his collections.Paper Money
editor Fred Reed kindly forwarded a copy of the article so I could provide these excerpts for E-Sylum readers. The paper money connection? Green's collection of the serial number one Series of 1929 National Bank Note sheets. It's a great article, worth a year's membership alone. -Editor
He was so impressed with radio, he established his own radio station at Round Hill, which was one of the first to syndicate programs to other stations. His underlying interest was the life-saving potential of radio for safe passage of lost sea and airmen.
What proved to be highly unusual is that once the Colonel took possession of his Round Hill estate, he opened the grounds to scientists, mostly from MIT, and built the facilities they required right in his own back yard to carry on their research. This included a radio station with call letters WMAF ..., and a state of the art airfield complete with moorings and a hanger for the Goodyear blimp that was leased by MIT for aerial experiments conducted at Round Hill. The Colonelís Round Hill Airport was a welcome gathering place for the elite pilots of the day, and he provided free fuel and services for those who landed there.
Obsolete research facilities were replaced with new as the needs of the research programs evolved. Much to the consternation of his neighbors, his estate looked more like a modern high tech industrial park built around an airport, than the manicured grounds of a member of the ultra rich.
A lawyer responsible for handling the Green estate is quoted as saying
This was an incredible experience, checking those stamps and coins from all over the world; counting out ten-thousand-dollar bills and small binfulls of loose diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, rubies, pearls, amethysts, etc. And the necklaces, rings, watches, pendants, earrings, bracelets, and other ornaments. It was like a scene from the Arabian Nights or the Count of Monte Cristo; didnít seem to belong to real life.
But itís strange, you know, how dull it all became after a few days. We welcomed a break like trying to identify an odd ornament - a diamond-studded chastity belt, for example.
It was Green's radio station that led a young Eric P. Newman to a fateful encounter with the Colonel. As an engineering student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Eric was invited to visit and work at the station. Remember, this was when radio was in its infancy, and the new medium was the Internet of its day. I asked the 97-year-old numismatist about it. -Editor
Eric Newman writes:
I was delighted with the article about Colonel E. H. R. Green. His radio station was at Round Hill Estate in South Dartmouth, MA. Most of the illustrations in the article come from a book written a couple of years ago and the author who wrote it sent me a copy.
It is Colonel Edward Howland Robinson Green and the World He Created at Round Hill by Barbara Bedell. It was published in 2003. It is a tribute to Col. Green's scientific research enthusiasm, his business acumen, his intellectual curiosity, his generosity, his friendships, problems with his mother and his inability to spend "the income on his income".
It was a revelation to me. It indicates that The Round Hill Estate, South Dartmouth, Massachusetts is now divided mostly into residential units. Unfortunately, nothing is said about his collections until after he died. I was so lucky to be able to acquire part of his numismatic holdings.
I would also like to know how to get the detailed report of the specific Byrd Antarctic Expedition during which the appendicitis operation was performed. Have you suggestion?
I remember Eric telling me the story of his work at the radio station, where Green's desire to save lives played out in dramatic fashion during the 1933-35 Expedition. There is an account of the story in the book Million Dollar Nickels (p125) by Paul Montgomery, Mark Borckardt and Ray Knight.
A member of Byrd's party came down with appendicitis. Eric and his fellow students manned the radio, sought out advice from doctors worldwide and relayed instructions that enabled a life-saving operation at 40 below zero.
A web search found a mention of the appendicitis operation on p110 of the book Footsteps on the Ice By Stuart D. L. Paine, M. L. Paine, published by University of Missouri Press, 2007. There are several mentions of the expedition radio operations in the book.
Now back to numismatics - after Green's death, young Eric managed to succeed where coin dealers across had failed miserably - he was able to purchase numismatic items from Green's estate. By partnering with dealer B.G. Johnson who fronted the money, Eric purchased a great deal of the collection including ALL FIVE of the legendary 1913 Liberty Head Nickels. -Editor
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