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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 29, July 19, 2009, Article 15

QUIZ ANSWER: WHO STARRED THE S-48 IN A FILM?

Last week Pete Smith, author of The Story of the Starred Reverse Cent, a monograph about the rare Sheldon S-48 large cent variety wrote:
I recently found a reference to another numismatist filming the S-48 around 1922. Can any E-Sylum reader identify the numismatist or relate the story?


Mark Borckardt writes:
It seems that there were only about eight Starred Reverse cents known in 1922, owned by the following: Hines (2); Brand (2); R.D. Book; Garrett; Newcomb; and French. If we assume the producer of the film also owned the coin, my guess would be Dr. George French.


Great info, but Tricky Pete was fooling with us. He writes:
In 1986 I visited the Smithsonian Institution to study their Eagle-on-Globe pattern. After I finished, I wandered around some of the other exhibits. One that caught my attention was a large model of a submarine named the S-48. This was me first exposure to this S-48.

USS S48 Submarine


The S-48 was constructed between 1920 and 1921. On a trial run prior to commissioning, she sank in 60 feet of water. She was raised, repaired and commissioned on October 14, 1922. In January 1924, she was grounded in a storm near Little Harbor, New Hampshire. Damage was extensive and repairs would be costly. She was decommissioned July 7, 1925.

The S-48 was repaired, rebuilt and served a second term from 1929 to 1935. After another period of activity, she was recommissioned for service during World War II 1940 to 1945. In 1946 she was sold and scrapped.

Robert I. Nesmith filmed trials of the S-48 for Fox Newsreel in 1922. He was a numismatist and authority on treasure hunting. I found the reference to S-48 in his obituary from 1972.

I had a couple of other related experiences in the week after I read about Nesmith. I acquired a medal from my home town with partial legend "AVA" I knew this had nothing to do with bus tokens. With a little research I discovered that AVA stood for American Volkssport Association. Later I examined a medal with an open book and lamp of knowledge. This did not represent the American Numismatic Association but was issued by the American Legion.

We become comfortable with certain things in numismatics, like S-48 representing the starred reverse cent. We need to keep an open mind that sometimes these familiar symbols may represent something totally different.




Wayne Homren, Editor

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