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NUMISMATIC AUTHOR FINGERED IN NATIONAL COLLECTION HEIST
Karl Moulton submitted this tongue-in-cheek reply to John Dannruether's inquiry about the robbery of the U.S. Mint coin cabinet. -EditorThe robbery at the U.S. Mint that occurred on August 16, 1858, was conducted by two undergraduate students from the University of Pennsylvania. They had been sent by Professor Montroville W. Dickeson to make the heist and transfer the material to him as soon as they got out of the Mint so he could take the loot over to I.N. Rosenthal, Lithographers who were a few blocks away.
In Dickeson's 1859 book The American Numismatical Manual he explains the reason he had to do this. "The fac-similies of this work - numerous and expensive - are of themselves such a collection for the general observer, and the young collector of coins, as has never before been produced".
He had to pay for these colorized lithographic plates in some manner! Apparently, the loot was kept by the Rosenthal lithogrpahers as payment and may eventually surface at anytime; probably through a family heir.
Not being snooty about the transaction, in the preface Dickeson presented his thanks to "Jacob R. Eckfeldt and William E. DuBois Assayers of the U. S. Mint; Hon. James Ross Snowden, Director of the Mint; other officers of that institution and to numerous private individuals". The two undergrads were not specifically mentioned by name.
The two items regarding Dannruether's inquiry were the Templeton Reid $25 gold coin, and the F.D. Kohler $40.07 gold bar. These were illustrated in Dickeson's 1859 encyclopedia on plates #18 and #19. After the lithographs were finished, Dickeson hurried over to J.B. Lippincott's print shop and got the books ready to be sold in the new and exciting 1859 coin collecting market. This was just in time for Ed Cogan's sale of J N T Levick's collection that December. They also made wonderful Christmas gifts that year.
Dickeson quickly sold out of this first run and ordered a second printing with an 1860 copyright date. In order to save ink, he shortened the name a bit to "Numismatic Manual" in the second edition. This word "numismatic" (describing the "crazies" who were buying proof sets and other weird items) took hold and today we even have an American coin collector's association by that name.
The $40.07 Kohler bar hasn't been seen since, but we do have a substitute one with a higher valuation of $47.71. John Ford acquired this in 1956 and quickly sold it to Mrs. Norweb. As for the Templeton Reid $25 coin, we now have a copper one that was owned by John Ford in the late 1950's. This too, was a "Franklin Hoard" item. Ford wanted to get it tested at the time, but had reservations about the outcome. Perhaps it is the long lost gold piece that was cleverly copper plated by Ford to conceal its real identity.
There's so much to uncover in the wide, wide, world of American numismatics!
Wayne Homren, Editor
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