The E-Sylum:  Volume 8, Number 32, July 24, 2005, Article 8


Neil Shafer writes: "Sorry to say I'll miss seeing everyone at
the ANA convention because of hospital complications. I am
better now and home but can't travel yet. The main reason I'm
writing is to help memorialize two true luminaries, of course
John J. Ford, Jr. and Art Kagin.

Art sold my Philippine Islands (PI) coin collection in 1975, and it
did very well considering it was that long ago. I could always talk
to him about a number of things, and he was ready and eager to
share many insights into various subjects we discussed over the
years. I will certainly miss him greatly as will we all.

About JJF, there's another story. I first bumped into him quite by
accident when I visited the New Netherlands (NN) shop in 1960.
I was fresh from having done extensive research on PI coins and
paper at the Bureau of Engraving and National Archives, and had
all the facts and figures in place for publication which happened in
1961 (coins) and 1964 (paper). I was actively seeking examples
of both kinds, and in due course simply came to visit NN to see
if they happened to have anything of interest to me. Well, John
heard what I was asking about, came over to me and we started
talking PI. He knew more about the paper currency than anyone
else I had ever met, especially considering the fact that the material
I had researched appeared to have been totally fresh - in other words,
how could anyone have known such things if they had not done
this very research? Except for one thing- he was close when he said
something as fact, but just not quite right- he would say, for example,
that the PI series started out in 1903 and consisted of values from
2 to 500 pesos. Almost correct- it did start in 1903 but was for only
2, 5 and 10 pesos, and payable only in silver. The higher values
were approved in 1905 but never were issued until after the law of
June 23, 1906 allowed them to be backed by gold as well as silver.
I had seen the overprint to that effect. Well, it went on pretty much
that way for a good while- John would say something, and I would
agree in part, or point out that what he really meant was.... well, you
get the picture. Finally he said, "you know what? You are the first
person I ever met who knew what he was talking about when it
came to these notes. Tell you what I have..." At which time he
pulled out a fantastic frame of face-back pairs of the 1903 2-5-10
pesos, and I knew this had to be one of only 4 sets made since I
had seen reference to them! He let me buy it for the princely sum of
$200, and I promptly carted it away, went back to Washington, DC
by Greyhound where I lived then- I stuck that wrapped frame on top
in the carrying spaces and went to sleep!

Was the frame a deal? I certainly thought so, even though at the
time I was a music teacher in Montgomery County, MD making a
total of $3.500 per year, so think again about the percentage of my
yearly salary that went towards that frame. It adorned my office
for years. One other of those 4 frames came up some years ago,
this time cut apart but still with all six note sides together- owned
by J. Roy Pennell, I think it brought around $3000 or so when
sold, Mine subsequently left me, and years later on the market it
brought $18,000 I believe. I do not know where it is now.

Over the years I did get to know JJF quite well, and of course
had tremendous respect for him both personally and as a
fantastic numismatist. Late in 1985 I took over the position of
Editor-in-Chief of what we called the New England Journal of
Numismatics, sponsored by the New England Rare Coin
Galleries out of Boston. The first issue was Summer 1986 and
had articles by Breen, Julian, Doty, Slabaugh, Ball, Liza
Clain-Stefanelli, Zander and others. The second (and last) issue
came out as Autumn, 1986 and continued along similar lines.

In the Letters-to-Editor section JJF wrote: Discussion on the
$50 Gold Pieces "You are to be congratulated on the quality
of the first issue, as is your publisher, Dana Willis. You are
almost in the same league as the prestigious New England
Journal of Medicine (a worthy publication to emulate!). Ever
since the sad demise of the American Journal of Numismatics,
collectors have needed a learned journal of opinion, one free
from stale reporting of unimportant news and ridiculous 'get
rich quick' oriented, advertising. I only hope that you will
receive the help and cooperation that you will need to stay

"The article by my long time friend, Doug Ball, on the Unique,
hand drawn CSA essay note, was of particular interest to me,
as I sold it and the rest of the group to him back in 1963. I
well remember his excitement at the time. Items of this
caliber couldn't find a better home than with D.B.B.

(regarding)..."Mrs. Stefanelli's story of the two 1877 Barber
designed U.S. $50 gold pieces, in her well written article...I'll
add to it some day. Someplace, I have the original bill-of-sale
for the two fifties, Haseltine to Woodin, the letter of seizure
from the Treasury Department, and the Woodin effort to get
his $20,000 back from Haseltine, Nagy, et al, the latter
consisting of memos and correspondence, It is all quite
interesting. (He then goes into a critique of her article
pointing out a couple of errors).

"Nit-picking aside, I found the first issue of your journal all
it was advertised to be and more. Keep up the good work!
John J. Ford, Jr. Rockville Centre, L.I."

On another subject, the purchase of my 1834 Proclamation
2R Philippine from HMF Schulman, it was absolutely not
purchased from Friedberg as Dick Johnson suggested - it
was sold to me at that Gimbels in NYC by HMF who at least
worked there if he didn't run the place. Actually, I may have
met Robert Friedberg once...or not, I am not sure at this point,
so I know for a fact that it was not he who sold that coin to me."

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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