Peter Huntoon submitted this marvelous response to my question last week, where I wondered if the whaling ship Charles W. Morgan could have a connection to the family of legendary coin collector Col. E..H.R. Green. Did it ever! Many thanks for this great write-up, to which I appended the amazing story of how Eric P. Newman met Green and ended up buying his collection.
Colonel Green rescued the last full masted whaling ship, the Charles W. Morgan, had it totally restored, and berthed it in a specially built enclosed pier on his Round Hill Estate facing Buzzard’s Bay at South Dartmouth, Massachusetts. A small whaling village was recreated alongside it.
The 105 foot long ship built in 1841, had at one time been owned by the Colonel’s grandfather, “Blackhawk” Robinson, Hetty Green’s father. The Colonel opened the ship to the public free of charge, and it drew about 100,000 visitors annually from1926 until he died in 1936. The ship eventually was put on display at Mystic, Connecticut, after his death, where it remains to this day. By the time the boat was towed to Mystic in December 1941, it was once again in serious need of repair.
The Charles W. Morgan in its berth at Round Hill, South Dartmouth, Massachusetts.
Brochure from the dedication of the opening of the
Charles W. Morgan on July 21, 1926
ABOVE: A weekend crowd enjoys the beach at Col. Green’s Round Hill Estate facing Buzzard’s Bay. The Charles W. Morgan is at the far right next to the airplane hangar. Look for the tall mast and you will see the ship below it. The Colonel generously opened the beach to the public on summer weekends and hired a crew to clean up their litter during the week. His Round Hill Estate home is at the center on the horizon. The towers and other buildings were facilities built by him to facilitate research he sponsored through MIT on radio, radar and radioactivity, as well as a radio station he owned on the site. His airport was state of the art for the times, reportedly the best in New England.
ABOVE: Front lawn of the Colonel’s Round Hill Estate on September 23, 1931, a photo taken by my uncle, John Klemann Jr., son of John A. Klemann of the Nassau Stamp Company in New York. The latter was in negotiation with the Colonel on the purchase of coins and stamps. The Colonel would set up huge speakers on the lawn, than invite everyone from New Bedford and surrounding communities to bring their families out, park their cars and spread out blankets on the ground to listen to big events such as sportscasts that were being broadcast from his on-site radio station.
See and read more at:
Bedell, Barbara Fortin, 2003, Colonel Edward Howland Robinson Green and the world he created at Round Hill: Privately printed, 150 pages. (terrific collection of photos).
Huntoon, Peter, and Barbara Bedell, Jan-Feb 2009, Colonel Edward H. R. Green, collector extraordinaire and the story of the number 1 Series of 1929 sheets: Paper Money, v. 48, p. 34-56.
Thanks for the great submission.
A reader asked about the date on the coin found under the ship's mast, wondering if "1941" was a typo. If it was, it wasn't my typo - that's what the original article said. And based on Peter Huntoon's information that the ship was restored in 1941, that seems to fit the facts.
Reader Ken Berger asks a great question: "I wonder what coin they found under the original mast when they removed it to replace it?"
Here's more on the numismatic connection, and how the young Eric P. Newman met Col. Green and bested better-heeled competitors to purchase the Green collection. Be sure to read the complete article online.
The story began when Newman was a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the late 1920s, where Eric and other students were following Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd's first Antarctic expedition (1928-1930).
Eric put aside the newspaper headlines, and opted to use a crystal shortwave radio set that he and other students built to listen to the historic event... But there was so much static in the transmissions, that it required frequent resending of messages, because only a portion would be heard at any one time.
To help relay the transmissions better, Colonel Green offered the services of his private radio station in Roundtree, Massachusetts, to follow Byrd's historic Antarctic expedition. [Peter Huntoon points out that this should be "at his Round Hill Estate in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts" - Editor]
That offer, and the interest of the MIT students came in very handy during that first expedition, when a member of Byrd’s crew was diagnosed with appendicitis and immediately required surgery.
Newman and other students volunteered to contact doctors all over the world, especially Norway and Sweden, via shortwave radio, to see how to do the surgery at temperatures of 40 degrees below zero. They found a solution, transferred the information to Byrd's team, and the patient lived.
Colonel Green came to MIT to thank these young volunteers, who helped transmit the information to Admiral Byrd, and Eric Newman was in absolute awe for this personal visit.
By the time Colonel Green died in 1936, Newman had graduated from MIT and was practicing law... and he knew that Colonel Green had a gigantic numismatic collection.
Newman decided he wanted a $5 Demand Note of 1861 for St. Louis, that Green had in his collection, but the Chase National Bank was executor of Green’s estate... so Eric wrote a letter to the bank and asked to buy the note.
To read the complete Eric P. Newman story, see:
THE ERIC P. NEWMAN STORY
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
STEPPING THE MAST OF THE WHALING SHIP CHARLES W. MORGAN
THE BOOK BAZARRE
OVER 500 NUMISMATIC TITLES
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