The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 36, September 5, 2010, Article 5


Last week Karl Moulton submitted a portion of the manuscript for his upcoming book, John Ford and the Franklin Hoard. The segment dealt with the 1966 Professional Numismatists Guild arbitration hearing on the coins. -Editor

John W. Adams writes:

Karl makes a number of statements about what happened at the hearings - who is the source? This is a touchy subject and should be treated as such.

Karl Moulton writes:

The quotations at the beginning come from Eric Newman's unpublished 1966 16-page document. Other descriptions of activity at the hearing come from Mr. Newman via personal conversations with him when conducting background research on this subject several years ago.

There were two letters that were not part of the text submission for The E-Sylum and will be included in the book. Both are unpublished at this point in time. One was from PNG panel Chairman Ronnie Carr on December 6, 1966 and the other was from John Ford on December 12, 1966.

The final quote came from Ford's 113-page 1967 PNG document (which was the source of the "Franklin Hoard" title). It is also unpublished, but several copies exist in American numismatic literature circles, one of which is in my library.

I have a copy of this in my library, too. Here are images, published first in The E-Sylum on August 31, 2008. -Editor

Ford Franklin Hoard Paper Ford Franklin Hoard Paper contents

One section regarding Lester Merkin is particularly sensitive, so I asked Karl for more background. -Editor

Shortly after this 1966 P.N.G. hearing, Lester Merkin resigned from the Professional Numismatists Guild. He had not allowed the panel to make a unanimous determination on the genuineness of the pieces. Of course, that was his role since he had been selected by the defense.

Karl writes:

This was an insinuation presented by Walter Breen afterwards in his 60-page "Evidence to be Read at the Trial of the Knave of Hearts: Report on the Controversial USAOG $20 Coins (PF Hoard) to the Garland-Ryan Arbitration Panel, 1967". His report was an unpublished amicus brief in case the trial went to the courts. Since Merkin did not agree with the other panel members on the subject of genuineness, I added the presumption, "Of course, that was his role since he had been selected by the defense".

A copy of Breen's report is in my library, having come from the David Fanning II sale of June 4, 2009, lot 141.

Here's another excerpt from one of two versions of Don Taxay's sworn statements that he made upon his return to New York from California after the final arbitration determination had been announced in February 1968. It should be noted that Taxay's trip was funded by John Ford and Harvey Stack (as written in his sworn statement). These come from the June 2009, Fanning II sale, lot 175.

"...Mr. Merkin replied by saying that the Ryan-Garland coin did not compare favorably with the Kosoff specimen. I said to him, "But Lester, the Kosoff piece is a Philadelphia Mint restrike." This fact had not only been stated in reports submitted to the Panel, but was alluded to during my meeting with it. Mr. Merkin just smiled, and replied, "What kind of restrikes do you think these coins (the "Franklin Hoard" pieces) are?"

Because of the nature of the marketing of the Franklin Hoard material, there is no possibility that everything will be known and/or validated, but, there will be more in the forthcoming book that has not been seen or known previously. The book will include material that covers not only the PNG arbitration, but the entire scope of events surrounding the marketing of the "Franklin Hoard" items from 1952 onward. The material will be chronicled as well, with numerous images throughout.

Thanks to Karl for providing these notes on his sources. What he originally wrote about Merkin could be interpreted in a way that questions his integrity, but this background material indicates the contrary. Merkin's comments to Taxay indicated that by the end of the arbitration proceedings he believed the coins were restrikes (not genuine). He didn't force the panel to vote one way or the other - his own vote simply dissented with the majority opinion, which prevented a unanimous determination.

We'll look forward to the publication of his book and its accompanying source materials. Thanks for sharing this preview with E-Sylum readers. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: THE 1966 ANA PNG ARBITRATION HEARING AND ROOSEVELT UNIVERSITY (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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