Tuesday was the February meeting of my Northern Virginia numismatic social club, Nummis Nova. We gathered at the Max Fox Brewery in Falls Church. I arrived about 6:30 and we already had a nearly full table. I found an open spot across from Roger Burdette. Next to arrive were Wayne Herndon and Tom Kays, who sat across and beside me. On my right was Julian Leidman. Also present were Chris Neuzil, Joe Levine, Dave Schenkman, Eric Schena, Len Goldberg, Steve Bishop and Mike Packard.
I passed around a copy of the new Stevens-Weir book on The Uniform Coinage of India, which I reviewed elsewhere in this issue. I also passed around a copy of Whitman's new Almanac of United States Coins, which I'd just received in the mail the day before.
Since I'd missed the January meeting, I passed around some numismatic items I'd been saving to show Eric - all of my Labor Exchange notes, including two from the early London labor exchange. Our January topic was alternate currencies and fantasy notes. I also passed around my collection of NORFED "Liberty Dollar" paper notes, and a 1959 gold Celeston, from "The Nation of Celestial Space". Tom Kays took a photo of it.
Dinner conversation was all over the numismatic map, from the $10 million 1794 dollar to trashy-dressing coin dealer wives. Eric impressed me by knowing about "Sede Vacante" papal coinage. He also surprised me with a gift of a nicely inscribed copy of his new book on Ingle System tokens. There is more on both topics elsewhere in this issue. I also made sure to have Roger Burdette sign my copy of his new book on WWII Patterns. Wayne Herndon had a bundle of them in his car, and distributed some to attendees.
Chris Neuzil was our host for the evening, and he did a yeoman's job of handling the restaurant and waitstaff. Tom Kays endeared us to the waiter when he learned he had an interest in coins himself. Doing a quick market survey, he showed our waiter the Almanac and asked if he'd buy one. He looked it over and said he would. I didn't have a spare or I would have given one to him. The waiter told Tom he liked the dollar coins, and Tom paid his whole check with them.
I asked Chris if he had an new numismatic acquisitions. He had a great story to tell, and he wrote it up for The E-Sylum.
Chris Neuzil writes:
In 1999, two original War of 1812 silver medals came to the market (through Joe Levine) from a non-numismatic auction. They were for two of Constitution's victories - under Captains Isaac Hull and William Bainbridge and would have been given to officers involved in those battles. Most surviving examples are now anonymous. There seemed a possibility that the two were to a single officer who served in both battles, and there was only a 1950-dated estate document with them but the names I didn't recognize; the auction house wouldn't or couldn't put me in touch with the consignor.
Since I already owned a Bainbridge from the Middendorf collection, I bought the Hull medal. My friend Lenny Vaccaro bought the Bainbridge and years later sold it through Stack's at their 2009 Americana sale.
Last May provenance expert Kay Freeman kindly offered to try to link the names on the estate document with an officer on Constitution. By then I had rosters of officers and sent the list of possibles. Within about an hour (!) she emailed back that my Hull medal traced to Amos A. Evans, physician, student of Benjamin Rush, prolific diarist, and surgeon on Constitution.
Needless to say, I regretted passing up Evans' Bainbridge medal and started putting out feelers. Incredibly, it was offered later that year again by Stack's, but with a very high reserve and did not sell. More feelers, and things came together. Evans' two medals (photo) are back together. The Bainbridge is still in its original red morocco case, to my knowledge the only one surviving from the War of 1812 awards.
Evans' diary is one of the few written accounts of Constitution's early cruises. After Navy service, Evans practiced medicine in his hometown of Elkton, Maryland. His grave is in the Elkton Presbyterian Church cemetery.
As usual, it was a wonderful evening of numismatic fellowship.
I'm already looking forward to next month.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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