The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 21, Number 29, July 22, 2018, Article 25


Rich Jewell is the Editor of The Clarion, the official publication of the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists. He is also a collector of coins, medals and the plasters and galvanos used by artists in making coins and medals. Intrigued by an article in The Numismatist magazine from the American Numismatic Association, Rich added some new trophies to his already important collection. He provided this account for E-Sylum readers. Thanks! -Editor

plaster of the Oregon Trail commemorative 50c piece June’s Numismatist had an article by Western Pennsylvania writer Mitch Olszak, titled "Fraser Finds!" A very interesting article to say the least. It seems a couple in Shell Knob, Missouri, Tom and Nancy Rochovansky, had inherited a very large collection of James Earle Fraser and Laura Gardin Fraser’s plasters, bronzes and statues in various forms of completion. The article went on to say that some of the Fraser’s personal papers and several of their bronzes wound up at Syracuse University in upstate New York. Other items were obtained by the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. And even after these two institutions had their picks, hundreds of items remained available.

The article explains how the writer became involved and his story line developed through the years 2016-2018. Some of the photos in the article attracted my immediate attention and piqued my interest. But what could one do? Call or write the ANA, or the author?

plaster of Fraser’s Medal of Honor with Augustus Saint Gaudens While I was contemplating what to do I called an author friend of mine in Branson, MO to see if he was going to have an article ready for an earlier issue of The Clarion. During the conversation he mentioned “did I happen to see the article in The Numismatist regarding the Fraser’s?” I said I did and I was very interested in finding what all they had remaining. He said Shell Knob was only an hour away and he had already made contact with the Rochovanky’s and was heading there in a few days. What good fortune, dumb luck, whatever. I asked my friend if he’d put a list together of what he thought was interesting or unique for a possible purchase by yours truly. He said he’d be more than happy to.

By the end of the week I had an e-mail listing of over forty-five items of interest, mostly consisting of original plasters and bronzes by the Fraser’s. What a collector’s dilemma-how do you narrow it down to an affordable amount? And what were the prices for each item? My friend was in such a state of shock that he hadn’t asked for the prices of anything (I personally think it was an excuse to make a return visit, to be certain he had seen everything the Rochovansky’s had to offer)!

Society of Medalists Pony Expres medal obverse wax mold Society of Medalists Pony Expres medal reverse wax mold

Finally, prices were obtained and now the negotiations began. It wasn’t long before prices were reached and agreed upon and three boxes were packed by the Branson UPS Store and headed to Western PA.

plaster of Theodore Roosevelt Founders Medal Thursday, July 19th was an anxious day - how will these plasters arrive? Around 1:15 PM the UPS truck arrives. I see the driver stacking three boxes on top of one another in the truck's door way (oh no- he’s going to try to carry all three at once!) He drops the smallest one, oh crap, I’m now expecting the worst, smashed plasters or a least chipped pieces. But no, the UPS Store has done an awesome job of packaging as nothing is broken, chipped or smashed. One package was 24x 24x16,” the second box was 16x16x16,” and the smallest was 14x14x14.” I only mention this so you get an idea how big the containers were stacked.

Most of the plasters and bronzes have already found homes in Western PA. I just wanted to share these treasure trove pieces with the many collectors out there who think the numismatic market place is unexciting or dull and to thank Mitch Olszak for bringing this to our attention.


  • Top left- 21.5” positive plaster of the Oregon Trail commemorative 50c piece
  • Top right – 9” positive plaster of Fraser’s Medal of Honor, honoring Augustus Saint Gaudens
  • Middle- 4” wax molds of the obverse and reverse of the Society of Medalists Pony Express
  • Bottom left- 11” positive plaster of Theodore Roosevelt Founders Medal, in an early stage of production

    Amazing. I, too had seen the Numismatist article and was dumbstruck that such a hoard of material still existed. Congratulations to the institutions and indivuals who are now the caretakers of this wonderful numismatic legacy. -Editor

    Wayne Homren, Editor

    NBS ( Web

    The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at

    To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address:

    To subscribe go to:


    V21 2018 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

    Copyright © 1998 - 2012 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
    All Rights Reserved.

    NBS Home Page
    Contact the NBS webmaster