The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 18, Number 11, March 15, 2015, Article 12


Nick Graver forwarded the following item, taken from the March-April 2015 issue of RNA News, the journal of the Rochester Numismatic Association -Editor

William Sunday bookplate numismatology An interesting piece of numismatic memorabilia recently surfaced. It is an artist’s proof for a bookplate. It was created in 1924 for William Sunday, 13th President of Rochester Numismatic Association.

In those ‘pre-computer daze’ it was considered very important to have a home numismatic library - at least for your collecting specialty. On the bookplate Sunday uses the word, “Numismatology.” Is that a study of one who studies numismatics?

'Numismatology' is just a synonym for numismatics. Neat item. I haven't seen this bookplate before. Does it appear in a numismatic book in anyone's library?

By the way, the “Billy Sunday” who has so many Google pages is a different person. That man was a prominent athlete and evangelist, not the RNA president.

Nick put me in touch with RNA News Assoc. Editor Ted Vaccarella, who kindly forwarded an article by Gerry Muhl on William Sunday from the March-April 2014 issue. Here's an excerpt. Thanks, guys! -Editor

William Sunday, the thirteenth RNA President, was born in 1889 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. As a young man he came to Rochester to seek work in the booming clothing industry. On December 4, 1917 he joined the coin club. Like so many other young men at the time he was soon swept up by the call of World War I. On May 2, 1918 he entered the army as a private. Applying for Officer Candidate School, he was sent to Camp Dix, New Jersey. Because of severe manpower demands he was sent overseas before finishing training and on June 20, 1918 he was promoted to sergeant.

Sunday saw action in the St. Mihiel Offensive. In the confusion of battle he was reported missing in action for over a month. Later he fought in the Limey Sector of France until May 13, 1919 when he left to return to the States. On June 5, 1919 he received his honorable discharge.

It is interesting to note how the number 13 played a role in the 13th RNA President's early life. He was13 days crossing the Atlantic; sent to the front on Friday the 13th; stayed on the front for 13 days; had "13" on rifle, bayonet, pistol and identification tags, and he started for the US on May 13. He was in the Army for 13 months.

The year 1921 was momentous for Sunday. First, he was elected RNA Secretary. More important, he married Gladys, who remained his wife for 46 years. The coin club gave him a wedding gift of a 65-piece set of sterling silver tableware. The $51 cost came from a collection taken up by the membership. In 1922 Sunday was Secretary, in 1923 Vice President, and in 1924 he was elected President.

William "Billy" Sunday was a noted collector, building a collection of early silver dollars, half dollars and cents. He often showed coins at meetings and gave presentations. One presentation in 1924 focused on the life and work of Victor David Brenner of Lincoln Cent fame.

RNA Sunday medal 1924 When it came to making his past president medal the club members persuaded him to wear his army uniform. New member Alphonse Kolb cut his dies. It now is one of the most sought-after club medals. Known as the "Liberty Cap" medal, it shows Sunday wearing his military cap. Although of the same design, the club commissioned a new reverse die in 1924 for Sunday's medal. Sunday shared his numismatic knowledge by speaking at club meetings but also through writing. He contributed articles to the Municipal Museum newsletter. He also wrote a weekly column in the Sunday Democrat and Chronicle newspaper. It continued through the 1930's and went under the title, "Numismatic News."

When not collecting coins, Sunday worked for Hickey Freeman as a trimmer and a tailor. In the 1920's he lived at 49 Rialto Street in the city, then moved to 151 Malling Drive until 1955.

At 66 he retired and moved to St. Petersburg, Florida. He died in April 1967 It is interesting to stare into the face of William F. Sunday on the RNA's 1924 presidential medal and to remember the life of this man who did much to advance the hobby.

For more information about the Rochester Numismatic Association, see:

Wayne Homren, Editor

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