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MUSEUM/COLLECTOR DEBATE: FRANK STEWART'S FIRST U.S. MINT COLLECTIONRon Guth writes:
Regarding the Museum/Collector debate, I'm torn. On the one hand, I've been involved as a friend of the National Numismatic Collection in support of their museum and collection. On the other hand, when I went to see Frank Stewart's collection at Congress Hall in Philadelphia, I was sorely disappointed to find that his coins and artifacts from the first US Mint had been mothballed.
Stewart, as I recall, donated the collection to the city of Philadelphia after obtaining assurances that the collection would be on permanent display. Apparently, someone in the city forgot or ignored that promise after he died. I doubt that Stewart would have made the donation had he known that, decades down the road, his collection would disappear from public view.
Have any of our readers seen the Congress Hall collection, or know of its whereabouts today? Stewart was an avid historian. Through a web search I discovered that there is another collection donated by him, this one at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. According to the University's web site, the collection does cover the U.S. Mint.
Len Augsburger and Joel Orosz have already visited the collection. The illustration is a proto-sketch of "Ye Olde Mint" from the Stewart Collection at Rowan University, which the pair used to illustrate their March 12, 2008 Groves Forum Lecture at the American Numismatic Society titled “Frank H. Stewart, Master of the Mint”.
Stewart was a prolific writer of magazine and newspaper articles as well as booklets on South Jersey history, Native Americans, genealogies, and personalities. The most important work by Stewart was The History of the First United States Mint. Mr. Stewart spent over twenty years researching the materials that resulted in this volume, published in the 1920's. His inspiration came from the purchase of "Ye Olde Mint Building" in Philadelphia as the site of the Stewart Electric Company Building. Among other books he wrote are Notes on Old Gloucester County, History of the Battle of Red Bank, and Major John Fenwick.
The collection contains over 15,000 books and pamphlets, 5,000 documents and manuscripts, photocopies, 500 West Jersey deeds, maps, newspapers, and periodicals. Emphases are South Jersey history, the Revolutionary War period, Quaker history, the Old United States Mint, and Native American lore. Significant source materials include: letters, diaries, deeds, slavery documents, legal papers, business records, handwritten archives, and military records.
For more information, see: The Frank H. Stewart Room at Rowan University (http://www.rowan.edu/library/policies_services/
Wayne Homren, Editor
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