The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 48, November 25, 2007, Article 20


On Monday afternoon I participated in a ritual many U.S.
coin collectors are familiar with - ordering coins from
the U.S. Mint.  At noon the new Dolley Madison commemorative
gold coins went on sale and I was eager to purchase one.  I
had met designer Joel Iskowitz at the PAN show in October
and been impressed with his design for the coin's reverse.
I was able to order an Uncirculated example and look forward
to receiving it.  I'll also be curious to learn the final
mintage of the piece.  The high price of gold may have
deterred some buyers.

Monday evening was the occasion of the second meeting of
the numismatic social group I started in Northern Virginia.
Last month's inaugural dinner was attended by just myself,
Roger Burdette and Wayne Herndon.  This month we added three
new faces:  Joseph Levine, David Schenkman and Thomas Kays.

Joe Levine of Clifton, VA has dealt in tokens, medals and
Political Americana for over 30 years as Presidential Coin
& Antique Company.  He is the author of the 'Collectors
Guide to Presidential Inaugural Medals and Memorabilia'
(1980), the standard reference on this subject, and he has
been a member of the Official Presidential Inaugural Medals
Committee for 1981, 1985, 1989, 1993,1997, 2001 & 2005.

Dave Schenkman is equally accomplished in U.S. exonomia circles.
Hailing from Byrantown in Southern Maryland, Dave edits the
TAMS Journal, official publication of the Token and Medal Society.
Dave has authored countless articles on tokens and a number of
books including, 'A Survey of American Trade Tokens', 'Bimetallic
Trade Tokens of the United States', 'Explosive Control Tokens',
'Civil War Sutler Tokens and Cardboard Scrip' and 'Merchant
tokens of Washington, D.C'.

Tom Kays is a longtime E-Sylum subscriber, as are Joe and
Dave.  Tom lives near Mount Vernon, VA and is working on a
book about coins that once circulated in colonial Virginia.
He researches treasure tales for numismatic value and collect
"grubby cobs, cut silver, coppers, counterfeits and the new
Federal coinage that went missing long before the Civil War."

We met at a restaurant in The Galleria Mall in Tyson's Corner,
VA.  Roger, Tom and Joe were already there when I arrived.
It was nice to meet Tom and finally put a face to the name.
Wayne and David Schenkman arrived shortly afterwards and we
made our way to a table and after getting through the decision
and chore of ordering our dinners we got down to talk of

Both Joe and Wayne had had tables at the recent show in
Baltimore and both reported having great shows.  Joe told me
he'd sold a silver Libertas Americana medal and a nice original
Washington Before Boston medal.  Coincidentally (or perhaps
not so coincidentally), these were the #1 and #2 items in the
recent Whitman '100 Greatest American Medals and Tokens' book.

Dave Schenkman brought along a few interesting tokens.  He
writes: "Two of the items I brought were what I consider to
be among the most unusual transportation tokens. They were
issued by Alexander McCully, who operated a livery, bus and
transfer business in Oswego, Kansas during the late 19th and
early 20th century. Both of his tokens were good for return
fare from the local hotel to the train depot. One of them is
an encased 1904 cent, and is the only known encased cent
transportation token. The other one is a silver dollar size
aluminum token which, on one side, gives a testimonial to
Rounds' Sprague, who was a champion racehorse owned by McCully.
Both tokens are rare; no more than four or five each probably

"The other piece was a 38mm bronze medalet issued by Eugene
P. Bachmann, a Philadelphia die sinker which, on the reverse,
wished the reader A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. It
arrived in the mail that day, so I brought it along. The
piece is quite rare; I've never seen another example."

Tom Kays brought along a couple of interesting old books
with descriptions of the day-to-day use of coins in colonial
times along with a very interesting display of cut coins and
other items unearthed in Virginia.  The cut coins offer proof
of how colonists made small change as well as what coins they
used to make change.  Tom explained some of the research he'd
been doing, and I'm certain his work will go a long way toward
revising our understanding of early coinage in America.

As our dinners arrived Dave took one look at my heaping plate
of spaghetti and asked, "That's a half order? - Half of what,
what they had back in the kitchen?"   The food and drink flowed
freely and we all had a marvelous time.  We made plans to
schedule most of our meetings on the second Tueaday of the
month.  We'll skip December because of the rushed holiday season
and resume in January.

Joe Levine brought along an interesting (and heavy!) show and
tell item.  It was a cast bronze plaque by Felix de Weldon that
Joe had purchased for himself in his last auction.  Made in 1945,
it is a tribute to the motion picture industry's contributions
to the World War II effort.  Shaped like a metal film reel, the
center has an image of the classic flag-raising on Iwo Jima.
Each of the seven "reel holes" contains scenes ranging from war
bond drives, recruitment drives, troops being entertained by
watching a film, etc.  It's a great work of metallic art that
I'd certainly never seen before, and neither had Joe in his 37
years in the business.

I went out into the drizzly and foggy evening for the drive
home, quite happy that the group is getting off to a great

Later in the week I noticed an article about how a $10,000
'finders award' would be given by the Professional Coin Grading
Service to someone who'd reported the first 2007 Sacagawea dollar
with an edge lettered like a Presidential dollar.   I dropped
a quick email to PCGS President Ron Guth, telling him he's kind
of like the "numismatic tooth fairy".  Thankfully, Ron was amused.
When it arrives I'll put my Dolley Madison coin under my pillow.

Not too much else to report numismatically this week, but I
did receive a package from Pam West in England with a copy of
the 1987 book, "As Good As Gold - 300 Years of British Bank
Note Design".  When we spoke at the coin fair my last day in
London I asked about books covering the topic and luckily she
had one of these for sale.

On Sunday I talked my wife into a family outing.  It was a cold
but sunny day and more or less on a whim we packed everyone in
our van and headed toward Charles Town, WV.  Not Charleston, but
Charles Town.  Charles Washington was the youngest full brother
of President George Washington, and he laid out the little town
in 1786.

At nearby Harper's Ferry John Brown staged an 1859 raid on the
U.S. Arsenal that set off a chain of events leading to the U.S.
Civil War.  Brown was tried and convicted at the Jefferson County
Courthouse in Charles Town and later hanged nearby.   The courthouse
still stands there today at the center of this quaint town of
under 4,000 people.

For more on the Jefferson County Courthouse in Charles Town, see:
Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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