Inspired by last week's mention of Robert Hewitt, Jim Neiswinter submitted these notes about Hewitt's curious 1793 AMERI. chain cent.
Probably the worst numismatic mistake Sylvester Crosby ever made was on a 1793 chain cent owned by Robert Hewitt. In his 1896-7 AJN monograph - The Cents of 1793, Crosby describes the "B" reverse: "I have found only one impression of this die and cannot now trace that, but describe and illustrate it from a copy taken some years ago."
This copy was an electro of Hewitt's AMERI. cent that was made by Crosby. On page 34 of J. N. T. Levick's Book of Rubbings Levick writes: "The Hewitt AMERI. cent I have concluded since the observation made by Crosby that the piece is tooled and altered to an AMERI. from AMERICA. which can be seen by examination with a strong glass."
The Book of Rubbings was a journal kept by Levick on the 1793 cents that were sent to him for his photographic plate that appeared in the April 1869 AJN. Levick realized this cent had been altered and it did not make it onto the plate. Evidently, Crosby disagreed because he included it in his monograph 27 years later. I wonder if this disagreement with Levick is the reason Crosby never mentioned Levick in his monograph and subsequent 1897 book - The United States Coinage of 1793. This "AMERI." is now in the ANS collection.
Hewitt and Levick were neighbors. Hewitt lived on 21st St. just west of Broadway, and Levick lived at the corner of 20th St. and Broadway. Both were instrumental in revitalizing the American Numismatic & Archeological Society in 1865.
(One of the neighborhood kids grew up to be president in 1901 - Teddy Roosevelt.)
Speaking of Presidents, doesn't this guy look a little like Barack Obama? Jim writes:
Here is a picture of Hewitt, probably taken in 1865/1866. This is in Adelson's book on the American Numismatic Society 1858-1958.
In an article by George Clapp in the Coin Collector's Journal in 1942, he explains how he thinks this reverse was altered.
Thanks for the great story and images. Thanks are also due to ANS librarian Elizabeth Hahn for quickly responding to my late request for images of Levick's Book of Rubbings. What treasures await numismatic researchers at the ANS library!
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
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