Alan V. Weinberg writes:
I noticed extensive coverage on the Stahl Princeton numismatic display and website in Sunday's E-Sylum and Monday's Coin World .
Naturally after reading The E-Sylum I immediately went to the website. There were no images at all, only an announcement of the March 3rd event. Coin World readers today would have experienced the same disappointment. None of those splendid images were available.
"Exhibition Website Coming Soon" was at the top of the page last week. I checked with Alan Stahl, who expected the site to go live by Saturday, the opening day of the exhibition. It was up and running as of early Friday morning. Here are some excerpts. -Editor
When the founders of the American Republic declared independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776, one of the major tasks they took on was the creation of a coinage for the new nation. Finding suitable bullion, setting a monetary system, and establishing sufficient minting capability were daunting issues, to be sure, but ones that governments had dealt with for millennia. On the other hand, the republican form of government chosen for the new nation placed the founders in the position of choosing specific images to represent their ideals with little in the way of precedent to guide them.
The leading figures in the process of selecting the numismatic imagery of the American Republic were Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington, and each man's contributions reflected his background, personality, and ideals. Following a rancorous dispute between the Senate and the House of Representatives, the ultimate choice for the main image for the new coinage was "an impression emblematic of Liberty," which took the form of the head of a beautiful woman adorned with a cap derived from classical attributes of the Roman goddess Libertas. Together with the complementary attributes of an eagle and a wreath, this symbol came to exemplify the United States of America.
Nova Constellatio copper, 1785
We're going to be improving the website (especially the brightness of the images) over the next week or two. The website is instead of a published catalog -- cheaper for us and the viewers; whether it's as permanent is an open question.
It would be a shame if the online catalog isn't permanent - that's the best reason for creating a hardcopy version. But I'm glad it's here now - this is an important story that deserves telling.
Alan Weinberg noticed the dark images, too. He's his review:
On March 2 I viewed the entire Princeton numismatic website presentation. Some remarkable coins mixed with super-disappointing condition coins. Among the most impressive coins was a choice Oak Tree shilling (my mouth watered as this is one of my specialties) , the 1792 half disme, the 1794 dollar and the 1794 half dollar which must be among the finest known (deeply toned but some traces of mint lustre) and far rarer choice than the overblown 1794 dollar.
Among the most disappointing items was a modern restrike of the Washington Before Boston (what, they didn't even have one of the chocolate brown 19th century restrikes?) and a terrible condition 1793 Wreath large cent - not even a 1793 Chain cent!
And the 1792 Getz pattern copper cent is a terrible low grade electrotype. Surprisingly low grade specimens given the time period over which this collection has been formed.
Perhaps, for me, the most impressive item was the choice Unc. 1801 Reich-designed Thom. Jefferson inaugural medal in white metal. In this mint condition it is actually rarer than the silver.
One problem permeated the entire visual presentation: photography lighting. I dunno who did the photography but clearly they paid little attention to proper item lighting. The vast majority of coins and medals are poorly lighted making visual examination, even under the website's available magnification, difficult.
But the site is definitely worthwhile viewing and perhaps some Princeton alumni will assist in upgrading the numismatic cabinet.
To visit the exhibition web site, see:
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
CAPPING LIBERTY: NUMISMATIC ICONOGRAPHY FOR THE NEW AMERICAN REPUBLIC
Wayne Homren, Editor
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