The regular night for my northern Virginia numismatic social group Nummis Nova turned out to be Valentine's Day this month, so to Ensure Domestic Tranquility we pushed our dinner back a week to Tuesday, February 21.
Steve Bishop was our host and he picked Coastal Flats in Fairfax Corner. They ended up seating us in a cluster of three separate booths, which we all thought inconvenient. But in the end I thought it was no worse than our usual arrangement of one long table where one can only converse with the few people in close proximity. A few of us booth-hopped as the night wore on. I thought the food was excellent, which was a plus.
I was the first to arrive but was soon joined in the lobby area by Howard Daniel and Joe Esposito. Others came soon after, including Wayne Herndon and his guest Rich Mahan. I ended up in a booth with Robert Hoppensteadt, Mike Packard and Joe Levine. We had great conversations on multiple numismatic topics.
Other attendees included Julian Leidman, Tom Kays, Gene Brandenburg, Roger Burdette and Dave Schenkman.
President's Day Show-and-Tell
I didn't get to speak for long with Dave Schenkman, but as always he brought some great material to show. He writes:
Our theme, for President’s Day, was Lincoln and Washington. I brought one token representing each.
Only three embossed shell cards from Vermont are listed by Dave Bowers in his Guide to U.S. Shell Cards 1867-1880 (published by, and available from, the Token and Medal Society). One of them is extremely common; the other two are quite rare. This one is from the Bowers’ collection and he notes “2 or 3 known.”
The tokens of James E. Wolff, a Petersburg, Virginia dealer in hats and furs, are well known to collectors. Depicting a running wolf on one side and a tall hat on the other, it was struck in copper, brass, German silver , silver, and white metal (tin) during the 1850s. There are numerous varieties and with the exception of the silver striking, which is possibly unique, most are not rare. Following the Civil War, rare varieties were struck for collectors utilizing one of the Wolff dies in combination with Civil War dies. Those with a bust of Lincoln are excessively rare. This one, from the Ford collection, is in an NGC slab marked "ar" (silver). In fact, it is struck in German silver.
More Washington, Lincoln, and All the Presidents
Later in the evening I slid over to Steve Bishop's table. I'm still agog at the number of cards in his wallet.
Joe Esposito was at that table as well.
He'd brought a number of great items.
Lincoln Ferrotype; President's Medal
Presidents Day represents a good opportunity to highlight numismatics, especially medals. There is, of course, an abundance of fascinating medals of George Washington, now impressively catalogued in Neil Musante’s recent two-volume work. Among the early pieces is the Sansom Medal, with dies by John Reich and issued by Joseph Sansom at the Philadelphia Mint in 1806. Its ornate reverse pays tribute to Washington’s great achievement of eschewing power: voluntarily giving up his military command and the presidency.
By Abraham Lincoln’s time, ferrotype campaign tokens had been introduced. In fact, there were many examples for all four candidates in the 1860 presidential contest. This 25-mm brass token represents a photograph of Lincoln taken at his famous Cooper Union speech by Mathew Brady. The reverse is a photograph of vice-presidential running mate Hannibal Hamlin.
Presidents as a group have been the source of many numismatic and quasi-numismatic items. Among the plethora of medals commemorating the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 was a 55-mm medal with a reverse of presidents up until that time, Washington in the center and ending with the incumbent, Grover Cleveland. The medal here is Eglit 35A.
As a boy I was enthralled by a game, “Meet the Presidents,” and I still have it. The game features an aluminum “coin” of each of the presidents through Harry Truman. The reverse has a brief biographical sketch. Answering questions from the wheel is the vehicle to success in this game, which provided me with hours of instruction in presidential history.
As always, it was a great night of numismatic fellowship, and we're already looking forward to March, when we'll have a bonus meeting at the Whitman Expo in Baltimore, where we can meet up with some of our out of town friends.
Breakfast with Jeff Garrett
American Numismatic Association President Jeff Garrett happened to be in town for meetings at the Smithsonian, and we arranged to meet for breakfast. His Uber dropped him off at my house and after taking him around for a neighborhood tour we slipped into the nearby IHOP and grabbed a table.
After a nice breakfast we stopped in the house to see my library, E-Sylum Central. Here are a couple snaps I took when I got up early to work a bit on this issue.
I like to stay hydrated. That's a half-finished E-Sylum on the top monitor. It was a short visit, as Jeff had to get back to his hotel and soon hopped into another Uber.
Off to St. Louis
Sunday morning February 26, 2017 I got up early, walked our dog and headed to Dulles airport, where I caught an 8:30 flight to St. Louis. My luggage held my clothes but mostly a large box of books and archival material being lent to the Newman Numismatic Portal for scanning. The NNP team was holding a planning meeting Monday at Olin Library at Washington University in St. Louis.
I had an early lunch at the St. Louis airport and took a cab to the Knight Center where a hotel room was waiting for me. I set up my laptop and worked on The E-Sylum most of the afternoon, using my phone to coordinate dinner with fellow NNP team members Len Augsburger and John Kraljevich.
At 6:45pm I met Len in the lobby to review the books I'd brought.
We sorted through them and he took the box to his room. By around 7:15 JK joined us and Len drove to a great local diner. I had a basic burger, a side of jambalaya and a chocolate milkshake. Not low calorie by any stretch, but it sure was good. It had been years since I'd had a shake.
At dinner we tossed around a number of ideas for how the Newman Portal could help not just the numismatic community, but the larger community of academics and amateurs who aren't numismatists, yet could find much of value in the portal if only they could be made aware of its existence.
Back at the hotel around 9pm I got to work wrapping up this issue of The E-Sylum. As always, it was fun to put togehter - I hope you're enjoying it!
THE BOOK BAZARRE
COUNTERFFEITING and TECHNOLOGY
—Bob McCabe’s richly illustrated new masterwork combines chemistry and artistry, inventions and escapades, tales of arrest and daring escapes. Collectors and historians of American money will love this engaging narrative about our nation’s paper currency. Counterfeiting and Technology: A History of the Long Struggle Between Counterfeiters and Security Printing
, 480 pages, hardcover, large-sized. $39.95 online
, or call 1-800-546-2995.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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