It was a busy numismatic week for me, starting with the Tuesday night dinner of Nummis Nova, my
Northern Virginia numismatic social group. Tom Kays was our host, and we had what may have been a
record attendance at El Paso, a Mexican restaurant in Springfield. VA.
I was about the sixth to arrive, and plopped down next to Ron Abler, who had been unable to join us
for several months. When not dealing with family matters he's been steadily working on research
for his book on U.S. centennial medals, and told me about his recent visit to the American
Numismatic Society in New York. Curator Bob Hoge was very patient and helpful while Ron reviewed
tray after tray of medals.
Ron's “shrunken die variety”
I have attached photos of the “shrunken die variety” (aka electrotype copy) of the 57.7 mm National
Commemorative Centennial medal (Julian CM 11) that I brought for show and tell to the Nummis Nova
comida de Mexico Tuesday evening. It is 36.2 mm in diameter, 2.62 mm thick, and weighs 22.4 g.
There is an obvious seam around the edge where it was assembled from two halves. The consensus
opinion of the dinner guests was that it appeared to be a copper plated lead electrotype copy of
the larger Mint medal. There was no similarly dominant theory as to a reason for the copy.
Anxious as always to be the discoverer of a true rarity, I floated the theory that it was struck
from actual Mint dies that had shrunk a mere 37% through some as yet unexplained phenomenon. For
some reason, no one took my hypothesis seriously, and I Dave Schenkman told me later that were it
not for his intercession I would have been ridden out of town on a rail for being a crackpot
exonumist wannabe. And yes, the art work and the condition of the medal are every bit as bad as
they appear in the photos.
For a minute I almost fell for Ron's "shrunken die variety” claim. And I wasn't even drinking Dos
Also on hand after a long absence was Howard Daniel, who returned recently from a six-month trip to
Across from me were Gene Brandenburg and Dave Schenkman, who couldn't resist commenting on the
restaurant's boast of winning a vote for "Virginia's Largest Burrito". He said "How come I didn’t
get a ballot for this vote?" Eric Schena reminded Dave that he doesn't even live in Virginia
(he treks down from Maryland).
Well, I couldn't refrain from ordering the super burrito, and it was indeed quite large. But
nothing I couldn't handle. I ate chips hand over fist (my favorite snack food) and nearly
everyone had a beer. The dishes looked good, and Gene declared the place a "keeper".
In the meeting invitation Tom declared:
If we must have a theme, then bring something from "South of the Border." I don't care which border,
so this should be easy. Whether you have "centavos" from South Carolina, “pesos duro” from southern
Manitoba, "escudos" from South Africa, or hacienda coinage from way down under, South Australia
way, bring ‘em. Show me money from the antipodes, from the “deep south.” Vaya con queso, Amigos.
Tom himself passed around a nice display box of Mexican coins.
David Schenkman bought a number of goodies including these great Mansion House counterstamps,
attributed to Alexandria VA, and a rare 1626 coronation medal of Charles I. It was the last one
he needed to complete his set. Wow!
My Virginia token catalog notes that "James Green opened the Mansion House Hotel in 1849. He died
in 1880, and shortly thereafter the hotel's name was changed to Braddock House."
Dave also brought a guest, Aaron Packard (no relation to Mike Packard).
Turns out I'd met Aaron at the last Annandale Coin Show. He maintains a great web site with
original articles on tokens, and he'd been corresponding with Dave.
Aaron is now an E-Sylum subscriber, and an excerpt from one of his articles appears
elsewhere in this issue.
I had to leave early to pick up my son Christopher from basketball practice (so no beer for me).
I missed part of the event, but it was a fun evening for all.
Friday afternoon brought an opportunity to duck out of work a little early and go to the Whitman
show in Baltimore. When I walked into the bourse floor I saw Julian Leidman at his table. He'd
been unable to come Tuesday night, but he was busy with customers and I walked on.
I spotted bookshelves in the far corner and walked down to John Burns' table, where I found another
fellow member of the Western Pennsylvania Numismatic Society, Paul Schultz. Soon we were joined
by Dave and Emi Hirt, who I hadn't seen in a long time either. We had a good time catching up.
Dave told me he'd just stopped by Pierre Fricke's table to tell him how much he enjoyed the book he
coauthored with Fred Reed on the history of collecting Confederate currency. Dave showed me a
recent acquisition, George Massamore's 1889 Descriptive Catalogue of Confederate Currency.
It is completely annotated with each No. given a price, and many sub varieties listed. As such it
Dave and I moved on to Charlie Davis' nearby table. Charlie told us a story about a bookbinder and
the Franklin Mint that he'll share with us in The E-Sylum sometime. At Charlie's table we
saw Neil Musante, author of the book on John Adams Bolen. We talked about numismatic literature
and Neil asked us what our "Holy Grail" would be.
I was having trouble deciding, but I think mine would be a subscription copy of Crosby's
Early Coins of America. For Charlie, it would be a copy of the book inscribed by Crosby - apparently none are known to exist. Neil would want to have a copy inscribed to a famous early numismatist like Isaac Wood. I suggested William Sumner Appleton. Then I thought it would be great to have a snarky inscription from Crosby to one of the colonial book committee members who abandoned the task and left Crosby to complete it on his own.
Dave and I moved on to John Kraljevich's table, where we found - guess who - Paul Schultz! In time Len Augsburger, Dave Perkins and Brad Karoleff wandered by. John showed us a medal made, of all things, milk. Len found it a little creepy. No creepier than Bois Durci, I said - that's a mixture of sawdust and blood.
Next to John's table was Tony Terranova. The show was very busy and crowded, but John managed to snap a photo of Tony appearing to snooze in a quiet moment.
After getting something to drink I headed back to John Burns' table and sat down for a while. As we chatted someone came by asking for a copy of the Lusitania medal book. "Someone told me they read about it in The E-Sylum", he said. John didn't have one, but promised to get one in stock.
I'd come to the show partly to discuss some NBS business with our Treasurer David Sundman. We'd never really had a chance to get acquainted. We sat down at a table in the lobby for a while. Next we sat in on the John Reich Collectors Society meeting upstairs. Dave Perkins was giving a presentation on numismatic ephemera and its use in research.
Afterwards Dave Perkins, David Sundman, Len Augsburger and Brad Karoleff stuck around while I discussed some web site ideas of mine. Later John Kraljevich, me, Len and the two Daves had a nice dinner at Sullivan's Steakhouse. It was a great evening. One of the topics was my earlier "Holy Grail" discussion with Neil and Charlie.
Len Augsburger (author of Treasure in the Cellar on the Baltimore gold hoard of 1934) said:
My holy grail was the bid book for the Perry Fuller May, 1935 auction sale of the Baltimore gold hoard. I think I missed it by about one year. It was most likely in an attorney's papers which had been discarded after he passed way. The family supplied as much as they could, but I think the "good stuff" had all escaped to the recyclers.
Dave Perkins (W. David Perkins as many of you know him), said:
John W. Haseltine noted in his the introduction to his November 1881 Catalogue of John W. Haseltine’s Type Table of U.S. Dollars, Half Dollars & Quarter Dollars, “At a future time, if I should decide to issue a work upon this subject, each variety will be given a name to more easily distinguish it, and plates be given of those pieces that have but slight differences, in order that collectors could more readily determine them.”
My holy grail for numismatic literature would be to find the notes and / or manuscript for this work along with the photos of the early silver dollars in the 1881 Haseltine Type Table. Without photos it is impossible to link the pedigree of any early silver dollar die marriages to Haseltine’s 1881 Type Table Collection.
That would be a Rosetta Stone as well!
After saying our goodbyes I made my way back to the parking garage and headed home to Virginia. What a fun week! Of course, I'd only barely started working on The E-Sylum and had a ton of email filling my inbox. That would be my numismatic fun for the weekend when my kids didn’t have me outside playing basketball. As you can see, I managed to pull it all together somehow.
That's all 'til next time. Thanks for riding along on my numismatic adventure.
THE BOOK BAZARRE
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