The latest addition to the Newman Numismatic Portal is a home-page linked video on the the Nova Constellatios. Its creator is a new E-Sylum
subscriber. Meet Lianna Spurrier, a college student with a taste for numismatic history and a talent for creating documentary-style videos.
I’ve called myself a coin collector for most of my life. As a kid, I got foreign coins from the Tooth Fairy instead of money, so I
kept them in a little ceramic bank. That was my collection.
Fast forward a little. My grandmother’s brother was a hoarder, and when I was 11, she convinced him to move out of his house and my parents
and I played a big part in cleaning it out. We found a little glass jar with probably about 50 wheat pennies in it, and I asked to keep it – after
all, I already called myself a collector.
When I got it home I had to find out if any of them were valuable, so I started learning about mint marks and key dates, and pretty soon I had
them all lined up by date. I got a Dansco album for them soon after and took off.
Through somewhere around 15 I collected avidly, but eventually school got in the way and I had to let it go. I hadn’t paid it much attention
since then, but over this last summer (I’m now 21) I decided to catalog my collection and that got me back into it.
I discovered that there was actually a big community of collectors on Instagram, of all places – people buy, sell, and host giveaways, as well as
just share their own collections and knowledge. I thought it seemed like fun, so I joined in.
A couple months ago, I entered a giveaway hosted by David McCarthy of Kagin's, for which the grand prize was a 2018/7 dated gold replica of
the Plain Obverse Quint; only two were made, and were both struck over 18th century British guineas on an authentic screw press. It was all over
Instagram for a month or so, and the winner was announced in the middle of September. Much to my shock, I won the gold replica!
At that point I had to know precisely what I had won, because I’d never heard of the Nova Constellatios before. I started doing some
research, and found that there weren’t really any sources that answered all of my questions in one place. It was actually very surprising how
poorly documented some aspects of the series were.
I’m a convergent media major at Morehead State University, which includes graphic design, journalism, and video production. In mid-October,
I had to make a short documentary for a class, and I decided to cover the Nova Constellatios. We didn’t have very long to work on the project,
so it absolutely consumed my life for a little under two weeks.
What most surprised me while working on it was how undocumented the third bit is. It took quite awhile to even confirm that it existed, much less
find a picture of it – if you pay close attention, there’s only one photograph of it in the entire project. That’s the only one I could
find! Many sources even incorrectly said that all three bits were found before 1900, which isn’t the case.
Overall, I really enjoyed working on this video, and have been astounded by the response – multiple numismatic news outlets have reached out, and
David McCarthy himself saw it! It’s been really great to be able to share it with so many other collectors and spread the knowledge.
I graduate in May and intend to return to Louisville, KY, where I grew up. The plan was to go into graphic design, but the response from this
project has made me start to consider some other options. Numismatic journalism, perhaps? Video production? Only time will tell.
Welcome aboard, and good luck in your career!
Lianna's video is a great debut for a new talent. At just over five and a half minutes long, the video is captivating and skillfully tells the
story of what is arguably the most important set of coins in all of American numismatics. She's right that the available information on the set
is scattered (and some of it is wrong); perhaps someone will publish a book or monograph someday. But I was glad to learn that the extensive holdings
of the Newman Numismatic Portal figured heavily in her research. I think Eric P. Newman would be quite pleased at how his legacy project enabled a
budding researcher to quickly assemble relevant facts and images. Now the video can help a whole new generation of collectors learn about the Nova
Constellatio patterns. -Editor
To watch the complete video, see:
Lost And Found: The Nova Constellatio Set (https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/book/557666) or
Lost & Found: The Nova Constellatio Set (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bVMPYc17rc)
To visit Lianna's web site, see:
For still more information about the Nova Constellatios, see Lianna's article on CoinWeek. Great banner image. I am informed that no
coins were harmed in its production. -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
The Puzzle of the Nova Constellatios
Wayne Homren, Editor
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