The Summer 2017 issue of The C4 Newsletter (C4N) (published by the Colonial Coin Collectors Club) has an important article by Stuart Hanebuth on the provenance of many
colonial-era notes from the Eric P. Newman collection. With permission, we are republishing it here. Thanks to editor Will Nipper for providing the text and images. -Editor
An Important Newman Portal Document for
Colonial Paper Money Collectors
Inventory Includes Provenances Back to Chapman
In December 2015 the Newman Portal unceremoniously posted a document entitled, Colonial & Continental Currency Inventory and Data Sheets: Supplemented with Additions and Corrections of
Eric P. Newman. The 560-page document may be one of the most important documents in colonial currency. The file contains a comprehensive inventory of colonial and Continental paper money that was
compiled in the middle of the last century by Harley Freeman; and contains details about the rarest pieces in the hobby along with hand written notes covering the legislation authorizing the bills
and their signers. Freeman intended to write a book on colonial currency using this research but never did. Undoubtedly Newman used much of the research in The Freeman Journal to create the first
edition of The Early Paper Money of America.
Figure 1 - A Page from the Harley L. Freeman Inventory of Colonial and Continental Currency
Harley Freeman was a collector who lived from 1895 to 1976. Mr. Freeman lived in Cleveland, Ohio until 1947 when he retired to Florida. Freeman began collecting coins as a child and was active in
the ANA where he was chairman of the board in 1933 and was a charter member of the Western Reserve Numismatic Society. Mr. Freeman was also founder and president of the Daytona Beach Numismatic Club.
He assembled a collection of Colonial and Continental paper money in a class with legendary collections like Henry Chapman, Joshua Cohen, F.C.C. Boyd and John Ford. The Freeman collection was
acquired Eric Newman in the 1960’s.
The inventory in the Freeman Journal tracks many colonial and Continental bills in the Freeman Collection back to the great collections of Henry Chapman, Joshua Cohen, T. James Clarke, Wayte
Raymond and many others. It also contains a comprehensive listing, by emission and denomination, of bills that are housed in over a dozen museum collections. Some of Freeman’s purchase prices are
coded using the letters: A,C,H,J,N,O, R, S, T,U and Y.
Analysis of the inventory suggests that the code, in part, was as follows:
R – 1; S – 2; T – 3; U – 4; Y – 5, ? – 6; A – 7; 8 – ?; 9 – ?
C, H, J and O are Unassigned/Unknown
Given the data, it is difficult to speculate as to the assignment of C,H,J and O. While somewhat trivial, understanding the cost basis for Freeman’s acquisitions provides insights into the history
of collecting colonial bills.
Newman acquired the Freeman Collection and many of the bills which have appeared in the recent Newman Auctions are listed in Freeman’s inventory. Bills in Freeman’s collection contain information
on the purchase price, date acquired and the source of the acquisition.
One of the bills that was recently sold as a part of the Newman auctions was a 6 Pence Massachusetts bill from the June 18, 1776 Bill. The bill, serial number 5586, had a due date of June
1779. The exact bill appears in Freeman’s inventory, which shows that he purchased the bill from Henry Chapman in July of 1936 for $0.75, a fraction of its most recent $200 sale price. This is just
one of many examples of provenance data in the inventory.
Figure 2 – (Right) A Six Pence bill form the Massachusetts June 18 , 1776 emission. This bill, recently sold in the Newman Auctions, was purchased from Chapman by Freeman for $0.75. (Below) A
Page from the Harley L. Freeman Inventory recording its seller and purchase price.
PCGS Currency has confirmed that they will recognize the provenances in the Freeman Journal when grading colonial bills, allowing this bill to appear in a holder that includes the Chapman
The Freeman Inventory is one of the most important works in colonial paper money. It provides valuable population data, as well as insights into the history of the vast Newman collection currently
at auction. Understanding how the pieces in our collections have traveled through time is as important as understanding their contemporaneous importance. Thanks to the work of the Newman Foundation
collectors can appreciate that history now, and for time to come.
For more information on the Colonial Coin Collectors Club, see:
Wayne Homren, Editor
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