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The E-Sylum: Volume 3, Number 6, February 6, 2000, Article 6


An article by Red Henry in the January 15, 2000 issue of "Penny Wise", the official publication of Early American Coppers, Inc, traces the life of Anne Willing Bingham, who is believed to be the model for the early U.S. "Draped Bust" coinage.

The article was inspired by his chance discovery of a book "in a West Virginia junk store." Written by Robert C. Alberts in 1969, and published by Houghton-Mifflin, the book's title is "The Golden Voyage: The Life and Times of William Bingham, 1752-1804." Here's an excerpt from Henry's article describing Bingham's wife Anne:

"Anne, nicknamed Nancy, grew up in an opulent household, and was given a thorough education in English, foreign languages, music, and other accomplishments considered suitable for young ladies of her day. She naturally became acquainted with many of the most remarkable people in town (many of whom were her relatives), and during the Revolution, George Washington made his headquarters for some time in the house next door, in which young Anne was a familiar visitor. By age 16, when she met William Bingham, she was "the most beautiful young woman in Philadelphia."

Just as the name of Bingham rang a bell in Mr. Henry's mind, the title seemed oddly familiar to me, too. I wheeled my desk chair a few feet away and plucked a copy of the very book from a shelf. It had been sitting there for years, but I hadn't made the connection to U.S. coinage.

The author, who passed away a few years ago, was a native of Pittsburgh, and I had the pleasure of meeting him once. I gradually accumulated copies of all his books. My favorite one is his first, "The Most Extraordinary Adventures of Major Robert Stobo", whom Alberts describes as "perhaps the least appreciated, most undervalued hero of our colonial period."

Thanks to Mr. Henry, U.S. numismatic researchers have another source of information, and the Bingham book, with its portraits of Anne Willing Bingham by Gilbert Stuart, will now migrate to my numismatic library.

Wayne Homren, Editor

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