Bruce W. Smith submitted this query relating to Henry Chapman, George Morgan and a medal of a Chinese general produced at the Philadelphia Mint. Can anyone help?
In the February 20 issue of Coin World, there was an article by Ron Gillio, beginning on page 62, concerning some documents from the Philadelphia Mint in his possession. The invoices, on Philadelphia Mint stationery, record that in 1921 the mint made a pair of dies for Philadelphia coin dealer, Henry Chapman, and struck 25 gold and 50 silver medals for him from those dies.
The dies were apparently engraved by George Morgan, as his name appears on one of the documents. The medal is described only as "1-1/2 inches [38mm] in diameter portrait of Chinese general -- reverse dragon with inscription." Mr. Gillio claims that the medal Chapman had made was the well known Yuan Shih Kai Flying Dragon Dollar of 1916 (Yeoman 332; Kann 663).
It is well known to collectors of Chinese coins, that the Italian, Luigi Giorgi, then Chief Engraver at the Tientsin Central Mint of China, engraved the dies for the obverse and designed the reverse (in smaller size, for a gold coin) of this coin. In my opinion, the assertion that the Philadelphia Mint would copy the dies for and strike what are essentially counterfeit coins of China, is a slander on the mint and its engraver, George Morgan.
I have looked through the U.S. Mint Reports (online) for 1920, 1921 and 1922 and find that the report simply lumps together in one total all the various dies made for medals each year, without even naming the subjects.
I have looked through The Numismatist, page by page, from 1918 through 1923, and find no mention (even in the club reports) of the actual Chinese coin or the imitation by Chapman. There is no mention of it in Chapman's advertisements in The Numismatist. I do not have access to Chapman auctions for the 1921-1925 period, when he should have been selling whatever Chinese medals he had made, so I do not know if they were distributed in that way.
Does anyone have any insight into this matter? Do records exist of individual medals made at the U.S. mint in the 1920's? Are Chapman's papers or perhaps a diary preserved somewhere? Would the Philadelphia Mint really make copies of foreign coins or medals? Since he paid for the dies, would Chapman have taken possession of them after the medals were struck, and if so, where would those dies be today?
To read the complete Coin World article, see:
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