The E-Sylum:  Volume 8, Number 12, March 21, 2005, Article 29


Dick Johnson writes: "The April 2005 Reader's Digest has two
articles of interest. The first (page 27) has a full page illustrated
with elongated cents, a paragraph of text with quotes by Bob
Fritsch, pres of Elongated Collectors.

The second (pp 120-125) is a full-fledged article "The Great
Coin Heist" on the theft of the Willis DuPont coin collection in
1967, subtitled "How a bunch of small-time thieves stumbled
into the haul of their lives." Some of the major items, like the
Brasher Doubloon, 1804 dollar and the 1866 No Motto dollar,
have been recovered but none of the Mikailovich gold medals.
Numismatist Alan Luedeking was quoted in a conversation
with Mr. DuPont.

I remember when this theft occurred and covered it in Coin
World. My contact with the DuPonts was through a colorful
Cincinnati coin dealer, Sol Kaplan. Sol was the one who
sold the Mikhailovich material to the DuPonts and perhaps a
lot of the other numismatic material as well. Sol had learned
a lesson from Hans M.F. Schulman -- befriend wealthy
collectors and you can sell them high-price material. Hans'
biggest customer was King Farouk, Sol's was Willis DuPont.

Read the article for the inside story on the coin theft and
return of most -- but not all -- of the coins taken and how
many years it took to recover them."

[Readers may recall that in the v7n15 issue of The E-Sylum
(April 11, 2004), Alan Luedeking shared with us the story
of his chance meeting with Willis H. DuPont. Not having
the Reader's Digest handy, I wrote to Alan to confirm the
connection. His response follows. -Editor]

Alan Luedeking writes: "As a result of my E-Sylum piece,
months later the author of the Reader's Digest article
contacted me out of the blue to interview me for this article
on the basis of my piece for the E-Sylum; I was rather
uncomfortable doing it, assuring him that there were far better
numismatists better informed on the DuPont collection than I
was, but he insisted on proceeding; I felt like I was walking
a tight wire between confirming what I had written yet trying
to protect Mr. DuPont's privacy. I suggested to him that he
contact attorney Harold Gray and the ANA, and he confirmed
that he had already spoken extensively with Mr. Gray. The
editor at Reader's Digest later called me to confirm details,
and I had to correct quite a few; they promised me an advance
copy of the article for proofing, but never sent it. They also
promised me a copy of the published magazine, but that also
has not come (I'm not a subscriber.) They told me the article
was originally slated for publication in December 2004 or
January 2005, but I was later told it had been pushed back.

Now that I've finally seen it, I can confirm that the gist of the
article is accurate, but most definitely not my "quotes". The
author has greatly embellished my conversation with Mr.
and Mrs. DuPont, right down to my dry throat. After
initiating my conversation with them by congratulating them
on their recovery of the 1866 dollar, and importuning Mr.
DuPont with a few more questions, it became apparent to
me that this was the last theme he wished to dwell on. In
essence, our memorable (only for me, of course) encounter
is exactly as I recounted it in my earlier E-Sylum piece.
Nevertheless, while the Reader's Digest article presents
absolutely nothing new in the way of numismatic information,
or concerning the heist, it is worthwhile if only to keep
publicity for the DuPont coins alive, as this can only help
in recovering those still missing."

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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