The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 2, January 14, 2007, Article 14


E-Sylum subscriber (and avid Half Dime collector) Stephen A. Crain
writes: "I own a copy of the Frank Stewart version of the Dunsmore
print, which I purchased at the 1999 ANA Summer Convention in Chicago.
Since that time there has been occasional interest within the hobby
concerning the original painting, the subsequent prints, and the
historic occasion it depicts.

"I wrote an article for the John Reich Journal (official quarterly
publication of the John Reich Collectors Society) which was published
in Volume 13, Issue 1, July 2000, just prior to the 2000 ANA Summer
Convention in Philadelphia. The article was published at the back of
the Journal in order that the accompanying black and white copy of
the Dunsmore print could be published contiguously with the article,
on the heavy card stock of the cover, so that interested readers
could remove the back cover and frame the picture.

"After many long years of searching, I inquired of numismatic book
dealer Charles Davis if he knew of any prints ever made of the John
Ward Dunsmore painting "Inspection of the First Coins of the First
United States Mint". Charlie informed me that he recalled, many years
previously, seeing a print of that famous painting on display at a
coin show, somewhat appropriately in Philadelphia, but that the dealer
who owned and displayed it was vehement that it was not for sale, and
would refuse any and all offers. Not deterred, I was actually encouraged
to learn that, in fact, prints evidently had been made, which might
increase my odds of ever acquiring one. I informed Charlie that should
he ever locate one, I was extremely interested in acquiring one.

"Many years passed with no success, until Charlie called me in my hotel
room at the 1999 ANA Summer Convention in Chicago to inform me that a
copy of the print had shown up on the bourse floor, and he had purchased
it for me. I honestly do not know how Charlie even recalled that I was
looking for the print, as several years had gone by since I mentioned
it to him. Nonetheless, I literally ran back to the bourse floor to claim
my prize. It remains one of my favorite numismatically related items,
and hangs in a place of honor in my den (coin room).

"What I purchased is a twelve month calendar for the year 1916, published
by the Frank H. Stewart Electric Co., in Philadelphia. Overall it is
approximately sixteen inches (16") wide by fourteen inches (14") high.
It has the twelve month calendar attached in the center at the bottom
(along the 16" wide dimension). The calendar has individual pages for
each month (still attached), which are five inches (5") wide by three
inches (3") high, and are attached by a lime green ribbon with bow.
There is another, slightly larger lime green ribbon at the top of the

"The Dunsmore print is a separate piece, appearing in a window in the
center, and is ten inches (10") wide by seven inches (7") high. The
print is in full and vivid color, and depicts President and Martha
Washington, Alexander and Mrs. Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, David
Rittenhouse, Tobias Lear, Adam Eckfeldt, Henry Voight and another
mint workman, all inspecting the 1792 half dismes, manufactured two
blocks away in the basement of John Harper's saw manufacturing operation.
The colors are extremely vivid, particularly in Martha Washington's
lavender dress and Thomas Jefferson's red vest.

"When I acquired the calendar, it was carefully rolled up and placed
in a tube to protect it from damaging light and other harmful damage.
I subsequently had it professionally matted and framed using archival
materials and UV resistant glass. Before doing so, I had two, and only
two, professional photocopies made, reasoning that such an opportunity
would not likely occur again, once framed.

"For the color copy, I wanted to show my sincere appreciation to good
friend Russell Logan for many years of mentorship, and for his continued
kindness and generosity toward me, so I spared no expense in selecting
a simple black frame from the offerings at my local Walmart store, and
shipped the color copy off to Russ with a cover letter mentioned. (I
was delighted to learn a couple of years ago that Brenda Logan had seen
fit to offer the color copy to David Davis after Russ' passing). The
black and white copy went to Brad Karoleff at the John Reich Journal
for inclusion with my article.

"One of the decisions I needed to make when having the print framed
involved the overleaf attached to the right hand side of the calendar.
The overleaf contained a detailed description of the print, an historical
account of the first Mint at Philadelphia, and a brief description of
Frank Stewart's involvement. I knew that if I detached the overleaf it
would destroy the original value of the calendar, but if I folded it
back behind the calendar (its normal position) it would be forever out
of view once framed. I elected to leave the overleaf intact, but to
make a color copy of the overleaf (both sides), have it laminated,
and placed into a pocket on the back of the framed print.

"I would be most willing, even eager, to share what information that
I have on this calendar and print. However, it would be nearly impossible
to make another color copy of it, as it is mounted in a large wood frame,
and the print is recessed more than an inch from the front surface of
the frame. Also, to protect the aforementioned ribbons, there are spacing
beads behind the glass, spacing the calendar away from the glass to avoid
compressing the ribbons. I would not like to remove it from its frame and
protective kraft paper backing, but it should be possible to make a
quality digital photo of the calendar and forward it to interested
parties, or perhaps I can arrange to bring it to a prearranged location
for others to see and study.

"I have been in email contact with Len Augsburger within the last week
regarding this very subject, and we each shared what information we had
about the number of prints made, who might have made them, and their
90+ year provenance. I related to Len my experience meeting Frank
Greenberg at the 2000 ANA Summer Convention in Philadelphia, where
he displayed an identical copy of this calendar. We talked for quite
a time, I gave him a copy of my article in the JR Journal, and he
related to me his recollection of the history of the prints, which I
carefully wrote down at the time. This is a fascinating subject, and
one that combines my love for American history, the early Federal
coinage, the 1792 half dismes, and Thomas Jefferson, making it
especially important to me.

[Many thanks to Stephen not only for his fascinating story but for
his careful conservation and stewardship of the Stewart calendar.
Thanks also to David Davis for alerting Stephen to Joel's research
question. -Editor]

To read a Collector's Universe Coin Collectors Forum discussion
of the painting, see: Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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