Tom Caldwell and Chris Clements run Northeast Numismatics in Concord, MA. I found a couple great pieces on their web site while working on this issue and added them to my
Numismatic Nuggets article. Here's another great item - Chris submitted this write-up about a super Civil War piece. -Editor
Our in-house variety specialist and intern, Ben Simpson, recently discovered an interesting item.
Benjamin found a perpetual calendar ferrotype located at the bottom of a grimy old box in Tom’s office. While it may not look very attractive or special, the medallion is a
rare relic of Civil War era America, and highly collectible.
The silver plated brass medallion was manufactured by Ellis and Read of Springfield, Mass during the Civil War. It features an inlaid ferrotype of Major Gen. Benjamin Butler on
the obverse, and a perpetual calendar on the reverse. The calendar can be used to determine what days of the week correspond to any date, past, present, or future.
Benjamin Butler, whose photograph is encased in this brass medallion, was a famous general, politician, and businessman of the 19th century. Born in 1818, Butler was a native
of Lowell, Massachusetts. He studied to be a lawyer at Colby College and began a career in politics as a democrat after graduating. He entered the Lowell militia in 1840 and rose
to the rank of colonel by the beginning of the Civil War. Butler was promoted to major general in 1861. He oversaw the 1862 Union occupation of New Orleans while simultaneously
making himself a fortune by manufacturing war supplies in Lowell (Butler used his position in New Orleans to ensure that his textile factories got a steady supply of cotton).
After the war, Butler was elected Governor of Massachusetts, and he unsuccessfully ran for president in 1884. Butler died in 1893.
Little is known about Ellis and Read of Springfield, who manufactured these political medallions during the civil war.
Several varieties of the Ellis and Read perpetual calendars are known to exist, including variants that feature ferrotypes of Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, George
McClellan, and other prominent political figures of the time. They are all highly sought after by collectors and can sell for thousands at auction. There are no Benjamin Butler
medallions known to exist, nor have they been listed in any catalog of American political exonumia. Therefore, we believe we have a unique discovery piece for the series of
perpetual calendars. You never know what you will find by doing a little digging through Tom’s cluttered office!
To visit the Northeast Numismatics web site, see:
Wayne Homren, Editor
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