The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 16, Number 20, May 19, 2013, Article 15


The April 2013 issue of the John Reich Journal has a great article by Karl Lamson on a piece of glassware with a 1832 dime embedded inside. This is a rare and interesting item. With permission (and the help of editor Brad Karoleff and his printer), here's an excerpt. Thanks! -Editor

An 1832 JR-5 in Glass
by Karl Lamson

Goblet with 1832 Dime My father traveled a lot as a salesman and had a wide variety of interests. He stopped at many antique shops, museums, places of historical significance, and whatever interested him. On April 30, 1957 in upstate New York at “a little old lady’s antique shop,” as he put it, he discovered a glass goblet with a coin in the stem that intrigued him. He had never seen anything like this and bought it for the sum of $ 9.50. Presumably, the asking price was $ 10 and he negotiated the price down to $ 9.50. Dad rarely paid full price for anything! The coin was an 1832 United States bust dime, which is the subject of this article. For the next many years he searched for additional glassware containing coins and was able to purchase several more, but the goblet that he purchased in 1957 is the only one that has an American coin in it. I inherited his collection in 1987.

The goblet is exactly 6” tall, 3 7/8” rim diameter, and 3 ½” base diameter. The wall of the glass is 1/8” thick; it is a heavy, sturdy glass with a beautiful ring when it is tapped very lightly. I’ve been told that this is something that should not be done with such a valuable piece of glass, but my father very much enjoyed hearing that wonderful, clear tone when he tapped it. The glass is colorless and has no chips, dings, or scratches.

We know that glassware with an enclosed coin has been made for centuries and often is made as special, presentation pieces to commemorate an event. This is still practiced in England today; for example, goblets are made to commemorate British royal events.

In my research I discovered that the Corning Museum of Glass has a goblet that is identical to mine, except theirs is engraved. The material, form, and dimensions are identical, and the construction method is the same. The Corning example contains a U.S. 1821 bust dime in the knop and is engraved “JA 1838.”

At any rate, it is a remarkable goblet, and fortunately, it is possible to closely examine the coin that was encapsulated in the knop. It is a high grade 1832 JR-5 which exhibits numerous die cracks.

Goblet with 1832 Dime closeup

As for the grade, Russ Logan inspected this back in 2001 and said it’s not mint state but is very close. He also said that although the coin is immobile inside the knop of the goblet, he thought that originally it was free to move around inside and that at some point in history it became stuck in one position. However, I do not see any evidence of the coin making any marks on the inside of the glass, and due to the way this goblet was made, I think the coin has been gently held in the same position by the glass walls of the knop ever since the goblet was made some 180 or so years ago.

Remarkably, this really is a time capsule, and nothing has touched the surfaces of this coin except the tiny amount of air inside the knop. The surfaces are as original as we will ever see. I calculated the volume of air inside the knop as approximately one-half cubic inch. There was not much oxygen to react with the silver in this coin! Also, because the coin is immobile, the inside surface of the glass has remained scratch free, allowing clear visual inspection of the coin.

For years Dad had this goblet on display in our home, and we sometimes joked about how we should break it to get that coin out! Fortunately today it is still intact. A survey of museums shows that it is a rarity to find antique glassware containing a coin; most of them met the fate of being broken, either intentionally or accidentally. Today, this goblet is carefully stored. Even though it is not on display, I enjoy just knowing that I have it and that it’s been in my family for the last 55 years.

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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