The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 14, Number 11, March 13, 2011, Article 18


Tom Kays was our host for this month's meeting of my northern Virginia numismatic social group, Nummis Nova. He picked an interesting location - The Mount Vernon Inn. On the grounds of George Washington's home, the Inn is connected to a visitor's complex which includes a museum and the obligatory gift shop.

Replica Washington Houdon bust It was a pleasant, scenic drive down from the Beltway along the Potomac River. I arrived early, parked my car and decided to kill time in the gift shop. I ended up making a purchase - a small-scale "bronze" reproduction of Houdon's famous bust of Washington. A little under a foot tall, it's a faithful reproduction. I put "bronze" in quotes because even though it looks bronze I'm not really sure what it's made of. For a $55 souvenir made in China, I wasn't expecting much. But I like it. Even though it had already been wrapped and packed, when I got to the Inn I took it out and placed it on our table in front of me. Now it sits on a file cabinet in my home office and library.

The Inn was built in the 1930's in Colonial style. Although some of our members had been warned about the food, I think everyone came away pleased. Several of us started with the peanut and chestnut soup, which was very tasty. Gene shared a bottle of Mt. Vernon Merlot with me (thanks!). He thought it was too sweet for his taste, but I liked it.

When I arrived some folks were already there, including a gentleman I initially mistook for Gene Brandenburg. It was Ron Abler, a longtime E-Sylum subscriber and contributor. It's always great to meet email pen pals in person and finally put a face to the name. I sat next to him and we talked a good bit about his collection and research into Centennial Medals of the United States. Ron recounted his first meeting with Joe Levine, when Joe kindly took an hour to patiently answer his questions about medals after he'd gotten the collecting bug.

Next to Ron was our host Tom Kays, well prepared as always with a lighted magnifying glass stand and a show box of interesting coins. He also had a photo of a group of coins whose story blew everyone away. A hoard of early U.S. and colonial-era circulating coins from many countries, the group had been discovered just within the past week along the banks of a local river. The most recent coin was dated 1810. Tom had a plausible theory of when and by whom the hoard was deposited, and he's working on an article about it. The find was even more timely given the item in last week's E-Sylum about the "Mudlarks" who look for artifacts along the Thames River in London.

Other attendees were Gene Brandenburg, Dave Schenkman, Joe Levine, Howard Daniel, Mike Packard, Chris Neuzil, Jon Radel and Bill Eckberg.

I'd missed last month's meeting and Bill brought some things he'd been holding for me. They were chocolate coins and medals, another earlier E-Sylum topic. There were four chocolate U.S. coppers (large cent and half cents) molded from real coins. Bill had these made for an earlier Early American Coppers convention (these were described in an earlier E-Sylum).

Nobel Prize medal in chocolate The other item was a chocolate version of the Nobel Prize medal. Bill had purchased it in a museum gift shop in Stockholm. He visited Sweden while tracking his family history. I'm part Swedish myself, although I haven't traced our history that far back. My grandfather was Olof Gustave Homren.

There were plenty of numismatic books in addition to coins. I'd brought the Japanese version of Whitman's Modern World Coins and a copy of Moneymakers by Ben Tarnoff, the new book on U.S. counterfeiting.

Already being passed around the table when I arrived were two books brought by Mike Packard. The first was Chris Salmon's new book on Massachusetts Silver coins. It's a big, beautiful book and seems well worth the wait. Bill Eckberg brought one of these, too. I'm still waiting for mine. Apparently they are being shipped in batches from China, and my number hasn't come up yet. Would anyone care to write up a review for The E-Sylum?

The other book was created in an edition of just 22 copies by Ray Williams. It documents the exhibit of U.S. colonial coins displayed at the 2010 American Numismatic Association convention. The books were given to the contributors who loaned coins to the exhibit. The book was hardcovered and contained images of the coins and exhibit, along with the exhibit text and credits. But now I've got a hole in my colonial shelf I may never be able to fill. Still, what a great idea! Kudos to Ray and the Colonial Coin Collectors Club (C4) for a job well done.

Tom Kays passed around a copy of another great new book, the 2nd edition of Chris Eimer's British Commemorative Medals and their Values. Who will write a review of this one?

It was a memorable meeting, and I'd be more than happy to go back sometime. I overheard someone ask, "Did you see the Society of the Cincinnati medal in the museum?" My jaw dropped. Better get there REALLY early next time. We're lucky to have so much history right in our backyard, and all of us are fortunate to have such a great group of fellow numismatists to share an evening with on a monthly basis. If you don't have such a group in your town, consider starting one!

Wayne Homren, Editor

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