The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 23, Number 4, January 26, 2020, Article 15


Elvira Clain-Stefanelli at the Smithsonian in 1957

Last week we published the above photo of National Numismatic Collection curator Elvira Clain-Stefanelli, and I asked for help identifying others in the photo. -Editor

Edward C. Rochette Money Museum Director Douglas Mudd (who worked at the NNC at one time) writes:

"The photo has Vladimir Clain-Stefanelli - Elvira's husband - standing in the background - the coins are from the Lilly collection - the boxes are what Josiah K. Lilly stored his collection in. The person seated across from Mrs. Stefanelli could be Abe Kosoff. The person to her right might be Carl Jaeschke who worked with the Stefanellis at SI for many years. Other than Vladimir, I am guessing based on who was working there at the time, and I never met Jaeschke."

Julian Leidman writes:

"Elvira's husband, Vladimir is standing. There is a possibility that the seated figure to the left is Hans Schulman, but it is just a guess. I seriously doubt that the other ID for Abe Kosoff is correct. I am pretty sure that Harvey Stack might be able to help."

OK - we have a consensus that the standing gentleman is Vladimir Clain-Stefanelli. We checked with Harvey Stack and he was unable to make other positive identifications. But he did provide the following remembrance. Thanks, Harvey! -Editor

I saw the feature about Elvira, It made me feel somewhat old, as they remind me of the Stefanellis back when they first worked for Stacks's in the early 1950's. How young both looked. After they went on to the Smithsonian we remained close friends, and we worked together when in the 1960's getting the Congress of the United States to expand the National Collection and acquire by acquisition the Josiah K. Lilly Collection for the National Collection.

Before and after the Lilly Collection we always worked together to get the National collection more donations and help provide funds for further acquisitions.

As you know the Stefanelli's had a small staff until they could finally get some assistance from the Museum. Most of the help they had was private collectors and members of the Stack Family giving their time and effort in developing the National Collection as the most important numismatic collections ever assembled.

Stack's introduced them to many collectors of the 1960 and 1970 period, and the staff was minimal at the time. Many prominent collectors gave their time freely to re-catalog the collection, work in displays and get the collection to grow. We were able to get the Dupont Family, The John L.Roper Family and many others to make contributions and give assistance to them.

I do not remember when you (Doug Mudd) joined the staff, but you and younger numismatists help make them make the National Numismatic Collection grow and gain the prominence they have had and now have as a major Numismatic Collection in the World.

Since I am now 91 years old, recognizing faces other than Elvira and Val is not easy but I believe all that are shown in the Esylum pictures are collectors who worked with them, and not staff. You surely know for all the years you were part of the staff how much work you all did together. It was monumental and a great result for both the Stefanell's and the meager staff with them during your years together.

I do not remember the faces of the others in the photos but I am certain that there has to be a record in the archives of the Museum of any of the staff that they had with them.

All I can say, the two Stefanelli's taught me a lot, when in our employ and all the years we worked together. They were so dedicated to the Museum. During their employment at Stack's in the 1950's, while I was growing up in the field, (having personally started in 1947 full time at Stack's) they both gave themselves of their skills that they made me grow faster and be more efficient in Numismatics.

A unrecorded bit of history: In 1987 the Museum dedicated their national collection as a feature of the history of 200 YEARS OF AMERICAN BANKING, and it was the ONLY TIME, because of the importance of the collection, that on the Opening day, I and my wife Harriet were honored guests, and helpers, and it was the ONLY TIME that the Secretary of Treasury and four previous Secretaries were present at a SINGLE EVENT. That memory will always be with me and my family as we were introduced to all of them, and they expressed their appreciation for the Stack family's dedication and work for the collection.

We have been close since we all first met, and to this day, I and my son Larry, are thankful for having Val and Elvira as teachers, and helpers in making us better Numismatists

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

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Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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