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FLEA MARKET BOX YIELDS CHARLES SCHWAB'S BESSEMER GOLD MEDAL
Dick Johnson forwarded the following article with this note:Penny McKim is an antiques hobbyist who considers herself a skilled treasure hunter. So when she came across a shoebox full of coins and medals at a church flea market in Montgomery County, she had an idea she'd struck gold.
Perhaps we can all relate our flea market finds, but when one hears of such a spectacular find as this we tend to think "Why couldn't it have been me!"
Indeed - a great story of a great find. David Alexander of Stack's is quoted in the article. -Editor
Turns out that $5 box contained three ounces of gold in the form of a distinctive medal presented in 1928 to Charles M. Schwab, the man who built Bethlehem Steel into a world titan.
Exactly what that treasure is worth remains in question and probably won't be known until the day McKim sells her find. She's already heard from gold dealers offering her $1,300 for the right to simply melt down the 14-karat-gold medal and mine it for its gold value.
''Oh, good heavens, I hope she doesn't allow that,'' said David Alexander, a medals expert with Stack's, a New York auction house that specializes in rare coins and medals. ''I'm quite sure this is a one-of-a-kind piece. It should not be destroyed.''
The piece, a Bessemer Gold Medal, was awarded to Schwab by the Iron and Steel Institute of London. Now the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, the trade group has been giving the medal since 1874 to one person each year for outstanding services in the steel industry, said Hilda Kaune, library coordinator at the London institute.
The medal has also been presented to the likes of Queen Victoria and King Edward VII.
On one side, the medal features a raised profile of Sir Henry Bessemer, the British inventor who developed an innovative process for making steel. The other side of the piece, which resembles a large, thick coin and is more than 2 inches in diameter, has Schwab's name and the year 1928.
Schwab's gold medal got into McKim's hands when she bought the shoebox full of coins and medals three weeks ago at a flea market at her church, the Cornerstone Family Church in Limerick Township. It was part of a bunch of relatively worthless stuff donated by church members who had probably cleaned out their garages or attics.
McKim plans to meet with Alexander, who has thus far examined only photos of the medal, to discuss an auction. And if she turns that $5 investment into thousands of dollars?
''I'll make a large donation to my church,'' McKim said. ''I like to sleep good at night.''
To read the complete article, see: Flea market box yields Charles Schwab treasure (http://www.mcall.com/news/local/all-a1_4treasure.6463464jun19,0,1910960.story)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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