A local newspaper in New York's Hudson Valley profiles Charles Doyle, who is continuing the tradition of his uncle Peter Rosa in creating reproductions of coins.
Charles Doyle's garage is, like many others, a catch-all for the detritus of suburban life. A raft of Bounty paper towels sits on one shelf, a big box of Milk-Bone dog biscuits sits on another. Propped against a wall is a Miller Genuine Draft sign.
But within that garage, a visitor can hold a coin not far removed from ones that passed through the hands of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar or George Washington. For in one corner, Doyle continues an artistic and historical pursuit begun by his uncle but derailed by a spate of bad publicity some five decades ago. In doing so, he's resurrecting both world and personal history — and adding to the region's educational resources.
"To me, it's researching the history of the coins," Doyle, 59, said. "That's what I enjoy."
The coins are replicas of ancient Greek and Roman tender, as well as money that circulated during this nation's early days. A widower, Doyle returned to the craft of crafting rare coins several years ago when his engineering job at IBM then NXP Semiconductors in Dutchess County seemed in jeopardy. Since he was laid off in 2009, it's become a full-time endeavor.
He started casting coins as a teenager under the eye of his uncle, Peter Rosa, a World War II veteran and former Merchant Marine seaman. At its 1960s height, Becker Reproductions — named for a 19th-century German forger — was selling some 250,000 coins in 40 countries, according to Doyle's website. By then, Rosa had moved his operation from the Bronx to New Rochelle.
But Rosa became too good, according to Doyle's recounting. He refused to mar his coins' artistry by stamping "copy" on their faces. Trade magazines then rejected his advertisements. The dispute was credited in part for the passage of the federal Hobby Protection Act in 1969, which required the notation.
Doyle's pieces are marked. Plus their size and weight are giveaways the reproductions are just that — an assertion echoed by an expert.
Those who are "numismatically savvy " know they are not holding an original when they pick up a replica, Rod Gillis said. Gillis is an educator with the Colorado-based American Numismatic Association.
Doyle's work largely depends on the collection of plaster impressions amassed by his uncle. During stops in England with the Merchant Marine, Rosa often went to the British Museum in London. There, he ordered essentially souvenir impressions from the museum's extensive (and authentic) coin collection. From those he fashioned molds into which molten metal is poured.
Rosa died in 1990 from cancer. Faded cigarette boxes on a work bench in Doyle's garage, Winston and Newport among them, hold dies and models used to make the replicas. For Doyle, a Navy veteran and father of two, the 550-degree liquid pewter he pours into the molds is a link to his past, as well as an economic grip on his future.
"He was like a father and a good friend. When I was a kid, I dreamed about doing it," Doyle said. "I just couldn't have all his stuff thrown out."
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Putnam Valley artisan crafts replica ancient coins
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