The latest addition to the Newman Numismatic Portal is correspondence between Eric Newman and John J. Ford, Jr. Project Coordinator Len
Augsburger provided the following report. Coin World also published this on their web site earlier this week, adding the below
image with Ford (left, in hat) and Newman (right). -Editor
Between 1949 and 1966, St. Louis collector Eric P. Newman and New York dealer John J. Ford, Jr. carried on an active and lively
correspondence covering the gamut of American numismatics, from little known colonial coins to politics of the national organizations.
Their introduction was made by Wayte Raymond, best known today for the Standard Catalogue of United States Coins published in
multiple editions from 1934 to 1958. Following Raymond’s suggestion, Ford wrote to Newman on September 7, 1949, requesting information on
the 1785 Inimica Tyrannis America Confederatio cent, for a proposed article in The Numismatist. Newman responded quickly, noting he
was “very interested” in Ford’s inquiry and offering to exchange coins in other colonial series. Newman concluded by saying “you may count
on me” for assistance with Ford’s proposal.
The two correspondents quickly hit it off, sharing an intense passion for early American issues and an equal disdain for the speculation
in current American coins that was taking root in the 1950s. Their common interest in colonial coinage led to the first substantial test in
the relationship, as the brash New Yorker and the patrician Newman competed for the F. C. C. Boyd estate that was broken up following
Boyd’s passing in 1958. Ford succeeded in placing the Boyd collection of Massachusetts silver (previously from T. James Clarke) with Emery
Mae Norweb of Cleveland, much to Newman’s dismay, as he had had a gentlemen’s agreement with Boyd for first right of refusal if Boyd
decided to sell.
The final rupture in the relationship came in 1966 as Newman believed Ford was knowingly selling forged copies of the 1853 United States
Assay Office of Gold (USAOG) twenty-dollar gold pieces. Ford began selling these in the late 1950s, but it was not until the Professional
Numismatist’s Guild (PNG) inquiry in 1966 that the situation came to a head. The PNG took the middle road, ruling that a buyer of one of
the pieces was entitled to a refund, but stopping short of describing the pieces as forgeries. Newman disagreed, and the break between
himself and Ford was complete. Further details, including the David McCarthy discovery of the host coin for the OSAOG forgeries, may be in
found in Truth Seeker: The Life of Eric P. Newman, recently published by Ivy Press.
The Newman files contain both incoming and outgoing correspondence, the latter generally represented by carbon copies. In some cases,
Newman’s original handwritten drafts survive and are accompanied by the typed versions. In between, the personalities of Newman and Ford
are on full display in this 700-page archive. Newman measures words carefully, following his training as an attorney. Ford speaks
informally and is clearly no stranger to colorful language. Both are intensely curious and determined to solve numismatic mysteries. The
contrast and camaraderie make for compelling reading and completely detail an important chapter in the history of American numismatics.
The Newman-Ford correspondence is available on the Newman Numismatic Portal at https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/archivedetail/513417. The Newman Portal,
administered through Washington University in St. Louis, is sponsored by the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society with the goal of
delivering information on American numismatics on a free and forever basis to the collecting and research community. The Newman Portal
currently contains over 7500 documents including books, periodicals, auction catalogs, and archival material.
Here are a couple examples. On the left below is the 1949 Ford letter written from Hicksville, Long Island. One the right is the last in
the collection, from 1966. Clicking on the images will take you to the original on the Newman Portal's Internet Archive collection.
These two photos are courtesy of Dave Bowers. They show Eric Newman (left) and John Ford (right) checking out the SS Central America gold
bars exhibit at the ANA convention in 2000. -Editor
To read the complete Coin World article, see:
Newman Numismatic Portal
adds Eric P. Newman, John J. Ford Jr. correspondence
To view the Eric P. Newman Correspondence with John J. Ford, Jr., see:
For more information on the Newman Truth Seeker biography, see:
NEW BOOK: TRUTH SEEKER: THE LIFE OF ERIC P. NEWMAN
Wayne Homren, Editor
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