Two weeks ago, we published part of an article from The New York Times about a satirical depiction of Confederate coinage.
The article stated that:
In early 1861, rebel agents commissioned a Philadelphia engraver named Robert Lovett to create for a one-cent piece.
Last week Bill Eckberg wrote:
I hate to see conjecture presented as fact. To the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever found any evidence in any records of the Confederacy that Lovett was commissioned by it to strike coins for it. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, my view is that the "Confederate Cents" have to be considered fantasy pieces. Otherwise, I LOVED the piece on the Harper's "proposal."
George Corell writes:
As an accomplished researcher on Confederate coinage issues, I cannot help but to reply to Bill Eckberg in the last issue of The E-Sylum. Conjecture presented as fact has been a big problem in the past and to this list you can add embellishment and literary license. That having been said, the simple fact of an absence of official Confederate documents linking Lovett directly to the Confederate Treasury is nothing more than a statement of what we do not know. Answers must be found and discovered outside of official documentation.
In our book: The Lovett Cent, a Confederate Story by Harold Levi and myself, we detail those discoveries by others as well as by ourselves, and evidence along with the reasoned logic and numismatic judgment necessary to analyze that data and reach our conclusions. Simple conjecture rarely carries with it anything more than a simple opinion based upon what someone does not know.
Labeling the Lovett Cent as a fantasy piece as all but a matter of fact based upon what is missing or unknown to him is the same kind of conjecture of which he admonishes. Others have unwittingly fallen into that intellectual trap before. Either Harold or I would be glad to loan him a copy of our book to read and introduce him to what is known and largely verified. Our research, reasoning, and conclusions are available to all to enlighten numismatists, not inadvertently mislead.
Bill Eckberg replies:
I purchased a copy of their book when it came out and have read it carefully and thoroughly from cover to cover. I enjoyed the book. There is a lot of interesting information in it, and I recommend it to others. However, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I stand behind what I wrote in last week's E-Sylum.
Harold Levi writes:
I agree with Bill Eckberg that technically the Confederate cent is a fantasy. At this time, there are no known Confederate records directly mentioning the Confederate cent made by Robert Lovett, Jr. This is not to say that none exist or never existed. A large volume of Confederate records were burned by officials when Richmond was evacuated in 1865 and Juda P. Benjamin (CSA Secretary of State) burned all of the records he had.
However, there are many records locked-up in private collections or as family heirlooms that have not seen the light of day since 1865. A bound volume of C.G. Memmingerís (CSA Secretary of the Treasury) copy of communications was sold at auction a few years ago. The auction description indicated that it contained several letters that would be very interesting, if not enlightening, to numismatists. There are, however, many pieces of circumstantial evidence that could get you convicted in a court.
I do wonder if Adam Goodheart actually has a copy of our book or even read it. He would have been more convincing if he had gotten the name correct in his list of sources. The name is The Lovett Cent; a Confederate Story NOT The Lovett Cent: An Untold Story.
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: JULY 3, 2011
HARPERíS WEEKLY "PROPOSAL" FOR A CONFEDERATE STATES COIN
Wayne Homren, Editor
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