Jerry Fochtman is the Stephen Ambrose of the Fractional Currency field, researching the area whenever he can. He has the following question for E-Sylum readers.
One of the little known contributors to the early production of currency by the National Currency Bureau was a gentlemen named Stuart Gwynn. He worked with Spencer M Clark, under contract to the Department of Treasury, in the development of printing and specifically, the paper used for postage and fractional currency. Not a lot is known of Stuart Gwynn before or after his work with Clark. And following the scandal surrounding Spencer Clark, Gwynn returned to New York and there is little additional information.
In the Kolbe sale of Part 1 of the John J. Ford Jr. library, there was a lot which contained a bound set of copies of a large number of letters between Spencer Clark and Salmon P. Chase, Treasury Secretary. The item was lot 368, described as follows:
Lot 368 - Clark, Spencer M. LETTER RECORD OF NATIONAL CURRENCY BUREAU, FIRST DIVISION, U. S. TREASURY DEPT. S. M. CLARK. JUNE 10, 1863 TO MARCH 2, 1864. Spine title cited. (32), 208 pages. Quarto: 29 x 23 cm. Handsomely bound in 1986 in maroon polished half calf, sides ruled in gilt, black morocco spine label, gilt, marbled endsheets. Very fine.
The letters may shed light on Stuart Gwynn, and also shed some light on the production of the 1st issue of postage and fractional currency. However, I've not been unable to find where the book is currently, or anything more about its contents. I suspect it's in the library of a collector. If any of the E-sylum readers happen to know its whereabouts please ask its current caretaker if they would consider communicating with me. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I will of course keep the ownership information strictly confidential. As always, thanks to all the E-Sylum readers for their help and ideas!
Can anyone help? This is a great research lead, and the information could be quite useful to the field. For readers unfamiliar with Spencer Clark, Jerry recommends Benny Bolin's article in Paper Money: Vol: 27 No. 3, Whole 135, pg 77-80.
In checking a number of other accounts on the internet, many leave out enough of the actual details that they don't properly represent what actually did occur. He actually resigned due to a perceived problem with how the bureau was accounting for the currency it produced so they could investigate without employees feeling they could be subject to reprisal. It actually had nothing to do with his portrait on the 3rd issue 5c Fractional Currency note!
I find it odd that Congress forced him to resign on that point. Clark presented a thorough accounting of the process done at the bureau in the handling, and multi-step accounting of what was produced.
To read Clark's complete report, see:
Report to the Secretary of the Treasury from the First Division National Currency Bureau
Wayne Homren, Editor
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