The News of Cumberland County New Jersey published a neat article about an exhibit concerning a local firm's ties to minting technology and China. We've covered the topic before, but it's still quite interesting.
An article written by Todd Sciore was published in the June 2010 issue of The Numismatist.
On December 27, 1897, Ferracute Machine Company engineer Henry Janvier left Bridgeton to bring the technology to press coins to China, a completely foreign world to New Jerseyans at the time.
He successfully returned here 10 months later with international repute for Ferracute, quite literally putting Bridgeton on the globe.
On Saturday, June 25, this remarkable history will come to life at the opening reception for a long-awaited exhibit titled, "Ferracute Goes to China" at Frank Burton & Sons, 333 W. Broad St.
"The exhibit includes more than 30 photographs by Henry Janvier and (Janvier's friend) Sydney Bowen, many that have never been published before. Janvier and Bowen traveled from Philadelphia to San Francisco and across the Pacific, to Japan and to Shanghai, China together documenting the trip with their cameras," said Joan McAllister, one of several volunteers at Burton's showroom who have been researching, planning and uncovering old photographs through an across-country search for over six months.
Janvier's trip to, throughout and from China was well-documented through his photos, reports to Ferracute Machine Company, letters sent home over the 10-month expedition and articles in the Bridgeton Evening News.
"The Ferracute received an order through our agency, the American Trading Company, of New York, for a complete minting outfit for the city of Chentu (sic), in the province of Szechuan, China," Janvier recalled to the Bridgeton Evening News for a first-person account published on December 10, 1939.
"I was called upon to help with the design of this plant, which was to be a complete factory for the making of money, in reality a miniature of the great United States Mint in Philadelphia."
The Chinese government sought modern coining presses to replace the country's ancient system of pouring molten metal into molds for production of small-denomination brass coins known as tsen or "cash" to foreigners, as well as silver coins in denominations similar to American money.
In addition to the coin presses themselves, the extensive equipment necessary to operate a mint was prepared in the United States and shipped along with blueprints to arrive prior to the arrival of the Ferracute engineer.
Henry Janvier and his interpreter Henry Everall on a boat with their dog, Snooks.
Making his way to Szechuan, Janvier traveled through perilous weather by boat for weeks, picking up his interpreter, companion and assistant Henry Everall, an English employee of the American Trading Company, in Shanghai. The duo, without an already travel-weary Bowen, was transported by steamer up the Yangtze River from Ichang to Waushin.
Janvier, Everall and their dog, nicknamed "Snooks," were then carried by Chinese laborers in sedan chairs for 40 miles a day, all without seeing any wheeled vehicles. When they arrived in Chengdu, a city populated with 700,000 people and 10 words of English among them, they discovered the equipment shipped from Bridgeton had been unloaded at a low river stage and nearly ruined when the water rose.
By summer, the equipment was ready for operation, and despite the blemishes caused by the corroded components, Janvier reported the coins "were received by the Chinese officials with almost childish delight."
Janvier noted in his News account, "Everall told me the Mandarin passed his finger over one of the small blisters on the dragon's tail and observed how nicely those extra marks would prevent counterfeiting!"
More information on the "Ferracute Goes to China" exhibit and Ferracute Machine Company history is available online at www.oberlinsmith.org.
The website also features a chapter on Janvier's trip to China from Art Cox's book, "Ferracute: The History of an American Enterprise," which will be available for sale at the June 25 reception along with a newly printed set of souvenir photograph postcards commemorating one of Bridgeton's most unique tales.
Wow - a new book! Who will be the first E=Sylum reader to get a copy and write a review?
To read the complete article, see:
"Ferracute Goes to China" exhibit to show Bridgeton history, delivery of mint technology to Far East
Wayne Homren, Editor
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