The E-Sylum:  Volume 7, Number 5, February 1, 2004, Article 14


  John M. Kleeberg writes: "Dick Johnson wrote me and
  asked that I post more information on Peter Rosa (1926-1990).
  Much information about Rosa can be found in Wayne Sayles'
  book, Classical Deception, which catalogues Rosa's copies of
  ancient coins.  In the Colonial Newsletter for April 2002  I
  published what information I could gather about Rosa's copies
  of colonial and territorial coins.  Les Elam, Bill Metcalf, Eric
  Newman, Ken Bressett and Wayne Sayles made many helpful
  suggestions that went into that article.

  Rosa worked for the stamping and casting firm of
  Taylor Industries, with offices at 250 West Broadway
  and a manufactory on Staten Island; he resided in the
  Bronx.  His firm, the "Becker Manufacturing Company,"
  was called that because he saw himself as the heir to
  the German diesinker (and friend of Goethe) Carl
  Wilhelm Becker, whose copies of ancient coins (and
  early thalers and siege pieces) can be so deceptive.
  The name may have also been chosen for a second
  reference to ancient coins: its initials are "BMC,"
  which in numismatic literature refers to the British
  Museum Catalogue.

  People who prepare copies often do not use traditional
  minting technology, but adapt the technology they know
  best.   This makes it difficult to unravel how the
  copies were made.  What I think Rosa did was to make
  a cast of the original coin using dental alginate.  He
  then used the dental alginate to make a metal positive
  copy.  The positive copy was used to make one to one
  transfer dies.  He would touch up the die by hand.
  One method he used was to strike each side of the coin
  individually, out of sheets of lead; he would trim off
  the scissel and solder together the two remaining
  pieces.  The lead would then be covered over with a
  metallic paint.  Later he would cover the lead with a
  thin sheet of silver, so the obverse would appear to
  be a silver coin, but one would see it was lead when
  one turned it over.  Note that Rosa's method results
  in coins that have elements of both a cast and a
  struck copy; one of those instances where the old
  joke, "the obverse is cast but the reverse is struck,"
  is true.  It is possible, however, that the Rosa
  pieces that show this treatment date from the 1980s,
  when he sold uniface pieces because the numismatic
  press would no longer accept his advertisements for
  two sided copies; the uniface pieces were then
  soldered together by subsequent owners.  An odd thing
  about the Rosa dies is that they are much larger than
  the coins they struck; the coin is a small incuse
  portion in the center of the die. Rosa had access to a
  Janvier lathe that allowed him to blow up and reduce
  designs: thus he could create multiples and fractions
  of coins where only one denomination was known.  He
  also had some method of creating a collar die, because
  the reeding I have seen on his territorial gold coins
  (notably a Kellogg $20) is excellent.  Wayne Sayles
  told me of another example of Rosa's ability to apply
  designs to the edge: he has seen Rosa copies of
  British Museum coins where Rosa provided a lettered
  edge giving the BMC number of the original.

  For the World of Coins Exhibit that was installed in
  1983, the American Numismatic Society for security
  purposes had Rosa make copies of gold coins and
  displayed the copies (properly labeled as such).  The
  Rosa copies were easily recognizable by their bright
  orange color.

  Although his California private gold pieces are not
  deceptive in their appearance; they are made out of
  base metal, and have that bright orange color; he
  also struck territorial gold pieces in copper.  An
  example is a Kellogg & Co. double eagle of 1854.  The
  copper variety can be ascribed to Rosa because of
  certain defects that also appear on the goldine
  versions: pimples along the cheekbone and a straight,
  horizontal raised cut in the middle of the neck.  A
  researcher who is not careful might think the Rosa
  copper fake was an unreported Kellogg pattern.

  The 1804 large cent is an interesting discovery.  I
  had not hitherto known that Rosa made copies of
  federal coins.  Since it is uniface, it may be one of
  his 1980s products.

  A lot of Rosa copies are being sold on the Internet at
  present; many are second and third generation casts
  made from Rosa's first generation copies.  Rosa is one
  of the leading sources of the New Hampshire 1776 WM
  copy, which causes so much trouble.  Just the other
  week I saw one posted as genuine where the consignor
  observed that the white metal base was visible below
  the copper patination: this, of course, is not an
  eighteenth century technique, but is one of the
  techniques used by Rosa.

  Eric Newman found a Rosa price list in his files that
  listed colonial copies, numbered from 2 through 189;
  copies of an 8 reales and 8 escudos; and two
  territorial gold copies (including a Parsons bar).
  Many numbers were missing, since those pieces had
  already sold out.  I published this in my Colonial
  Newsletter article.  I hope that people will dig up
  more price lists and Rosa advertisements so that we
  can produce a complete listing of Rosa?s colonial and
  territorial (and federal) copies.   I know that the Colonial
  Coin Collectors Club at one point was photographing
  copies to compile a database.  Richard D. Kenney?s
  pamphlet on the classic struck colonial copies is helpful,
  but there are many additional copies that need to be listed.
  The ANS has tray after tray of colonial copies.

  Does anyone know who made the copies for the Copley
  Coin Company in Boston in the early 1960s?  They
  resemble Rosa's work, but could have been made by
  someone else."

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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