The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 21, Number 19, May 13, 2018, Article 18


It's been some time since I published an E-Sylum Subcriber Profile. At my request Christopher McDowell provided this great overview of his numismatic career and interests. -Editor

Christopher McDowell I became interested in coins as a boy looking at my father's Lincoln cent collection. As a paperboy, my dad collected pennies and put them in a book and I would look at the book and the holes in it. A few years ago my dad gave me the book and I filled in all the holes with similar low-grade small cents and put my son's name on it to give to him one day.

At Marshall University I majored in history and political science. I always wanted to obtain a Ph.D. in history, but went to law school instead as that choice provided the promise of a more lucrative future. When I got back to the United States after serving in the Army mostly overseas, I settled in Cincinnati because that is where my wife is from. I got into coin collecting coins once more because I was buying gold coins as an investment – that was when gold was under $350 an oz.

I purchased the gold coins at a coin store here in Cincinnati operated by Brad Karoleff and his partners. Brad is a true numismatist and proved to be a great early mentor. My interest turned to American Colonial Coinage for several reasons: first, I figured I could never gain an edge over coin dealers when it came to U.S. Mint products and if I was ever going to find bargains, I needed to find a niche in which I could know more than the man across the table; second, I soon realized that it presented a wonderful opportunity to research and write about American history – perhaps even more so than had I pursued that Ph.D. in 1994; finally, I wanted to collect something that I could work on for the rest of my life and not complete and not know all there was to know. The fact of the matter is that I can put together a collection of Roosevelt dimes in a day with enough money just sitting at my computer and learn all there is to know in a few hours.

I primarily collect Connecticut coppers and although I have over 300 different varieties, I will never have them all and I will never know all that there is to know about the mint or people who made the coins. These mysteries keep me going. Early American history has always been my favorite and bringing the stories of the people who created our great government to life is a passion. I would be remiss if I did not mention the great people I have met in the Colonial Coin community over the years. I genuinely enjoy everyone's company and many people have helped me in my research and collecting over the years.

A few years ago, I was provided the opportunity to become the editor of The Colonial Newsletter. As editor, I am now able to assist others in uncovering the mysteries and correcting the record of our numismatic past. During my short period as editor, the most significant contribution we have made at CNL has been the transcription and publication of the Connecticut Mint ledger books. These books help answer many of the questions we have had concerning the Connecticut Mint for over 150 years and will serve as a primary source of information to researchers for generations.

Out of my many articles, my favorite is titled “Slavery and Child Labor at the Connecticut Mint,” CNL, April 2017. In that article, I was able to show how a slave named Aaron worked at the Connecticut Mint stamping Fugio cents and compare his wages (when he worked extra hours, the mint paid him directly) to the rates paid a freedman, children, apprentices, and skilled laborers. I feel this is an article that transcends numismatics and provides insight into the lives of regular everyday workers at the mint. So often history is focused on great leaders and the stories of regular people are overlooked. It has brought me great joy to unearth the stories of these men and publish them in the pages of CNL.

Wayne Homren, Editor

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