In response to Michael Brockhouse's question,
Ira Rezak writes:
I used to collect Russian wire money as far back as 1960's but have in recent years sold the collection. In the early 70's at a New York show Frank Lapa had a table and had a hoard of silver wire coins. My now faint recollection is that they were of Aleksei Michailovich, but it's possible that they were of Feodor Mikhailovich.
At the time I had the pamphlet but was unaware of Lapa's later well-known bad reputation. His pitch was that the hoard had been brought to the show to be shown to an unnamed specific collector, but if I really wanted them he'd sell them to me. There were maybe 20 pieces, all of a single type but not identically struck, and on planchets that in retrospect were outrageously uniformly thick...ie not characteristic of genuine wire money. But I was young and innocent back then, so I fell for the deal.
Over the years I gave a few away to friends and fellow collectors such as Ran Zander and Gleb Budzilovich, but they sat in a box for many years and are now part of my remote past. Lapa, of course, proved to be a forger and murderer and has now passed away.
None of this answers Mr Brockhouse's question definitively, though it adds a bit to the Lapa tale.
I'd say one more thing though about gold wire coins. They were not circulating issues but were specially struck from regular coin dies to be used as military awards, early decorations as we'd now call them. Consequently many, probably most genuine gold wire coins were holed for wearing.
Joe Boling writes:
Has Brockhouse done a specific gravity test on his piece? If Lapa did not use gold, we'll know immediately whether it could be a Lapa piece.
Leon Saryan writes:
Several years ago I became interested in the 1920 fantasy coins allegedly issued by independent governments in Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. These were reported in The Numismatist as early as 1960. In an article I wrote in 1987, I believe that I was able to dissuade numismatists from the idea that the Armenian piece was an authentic 1920 issue.
The late George Beach informed me that these three coins were possibly or probably fantasies manufactured by Frank Lapa, who ended up in prison for murder. I was interested in contacting Lapa, but George cautioned me against this: "These guys play hardball; don't mess with them." He added that he thought there was a private collection of Lapa fantasy dies in existence. I'll be interested to see what others have to say.
Interesting topic. Thanks, everyone. Other reader comments and questions are welcome.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
QUERY: INFORMATION ON FRANK LAPA'S RUSSIAN WIRE MONEY REPLICAS SOUGHT
Wayne Homren, Editor
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization
promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.
To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor
at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
To subscribe go to: https://my.binhost.com/lists/listinfo/esylum
Copyright © 1998 - 2020 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.
NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster