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The E-Sylum: Volume 24, Number 1, January 4, 2021, Article 19

A DICK JOHNSON E-SYLUM SAMPLER

Here are some examples of Dick Johnson's E-Sylum submissions over the years. -Editor

May 7, 2000: AMERICAN NUMISMATIC FILMMAKER KILLED IN ROAD RAGE
Michael Craven, who had built a reputation in the numismatic field as a promising filmmaker was killed Sunday April 30 at 1 AM on a Los Angeles Freeway. Following a confrontation with youths in a stolen Chevrolet Suburban he had pulled off the Ventura Freeway at Barham Boulevard exit. When he stepped out of his jeep the youths struck him and left the scene. He was dead on arrival at Cedars Sinai Hospital in West Hollywood.

Craven, 44, had produced a number of videos for the numismatic field. These included: "The Granite Lady" (on the San Francisco Mint), "Keys To The Treasury" (on the U.S. Treasury), ".900 Fine" (on the Carson City Mint) and "The Medal Maker" (written by D. Wayne Johnson and narrated by former chief mint engraver, Elizabeth Jones, on Laura Gardin Fraser).

He had interviewed and filmed more than forty numismatists and dozens of U.S. Mint and Engraving and Printing officials for a major film documentary on the history of American money. The project had occupied nearly three years of his time and had amassed over 20 hours of film. According to close friend Dick Johnson he had edited this to a six-hour documentary and had less than fifteen minutes to complete the final segment.

To read the complete article, see:
AMERICAN NUMISMATIC FILMMAKER KILLED IN ROAD RAGE (https://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v03n19a03.html)

June 18, 2006: TEN NUMISMATIC BOOKS I'D LOVE TO READ
Here is a list of ten numismatic books I would purchase and love to read if they existed:

10. Confessions of an Illicit Coin Slabber.
9. How To Design a Modern Coin.
8. The Western Gold Bar Controversy - The 24 Karat Truth.
7. Coin Grading By Ouija Board: A More Accurate System.
6. Coin Con Catalog - A Comprehensive List of Criminals in Numismatics.
5. The Secret History of Walter H. Breen.
4. The Red Book of Numismatic Literature.
3. ANA Politics, Scandal and Rumor - The Truth Revealed.
2. The Official History of the United States Mint.
1. Coin Engraving Through The Ages

To read the complete article, see:
DICK JOHNSON: TEN NUMISMATIC BOOKS I'D LOVE TO READ (https://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v09n25a09.html)

Sept. 10, 2007: DICK JOHNSON'S SCHULMAN-FAROUK ARCHIVE
The president of my local coin club, Mark Sartori, was helping me unpack some boxes that hadn't seen the light of day for a number of years. Mark was handy with a hammer and paint brush, and had just built a wall of shelving for me. We were unpacking boxes in no particular order to fill empty shelves.

I opened a box and found an envelope stuffed with documents. 'I'll bet you will recognize this name,' I said to Mark. He leaned over my shoulder and saw a Christmas card. I flipped it open. 'Read the name.'

'Farouk' he said. 'But note the 'R' under the name. R. Regina. King. That is a Christmas card from King Farouk to Hans Schulman.' Mark stared in disbelief.

With the Christmas card was 72 pages of invoices of all the coins Hans M. F. Schulman had purchased at the Palace auctions of King Farouk's coin collection sold by the government of Egypt in February 1954 after the forced abdication of Farouk as monarch in July 1952. And two of Hans' hand written notes conveying the material to me. He had originally included the catalogs of the sale, but had asked for their return, which I had dutifully done.

Also there are two color photographs taken while the auction was in progress at the Egyptian palace. I pointed out to Mark those I recognized. "That's Hans. That's David Spink. That was a dealer from Spain." Apparently the photos were taken by Gaston Di Bello of Buffalo, NY. There was an envelope enclosed addressed to me. I don't remember asking Di Bello to send me the photos but here they are.

Further down was a page of notes identifying most of the individuals in the photos. At some point I must have asked Hans to tell me who these people were. It included two Baldwin's, two Calicos, two Santa Mario's -- all European dealers, and four more individuals who were also named.

The auction was bittersweet for Hans. King Farouk was Hans' biggest customer. And he ended up owing Hans millions of dollars before the abdication. He tried to collect or to retrieve the coins not paid for prior to the auction. The only way he could recoup his money was to buy back as many of the coins as possible and settle with the government of Egypt. I don't remember the final outcome or the settlement details.

But I do remember Hans telling me when Farouk was alive and king of Egypt they would come to work every day in New York City, receive the coin orders from Farouk, ship the coins, and that was their day's work. It wasn't until the end when King Farouk's payments were slow in coming. It is not good for any business to have only one customer. What happens when you lose that one customer? That's what happened to Hans.

Hans was a dear friend to me. When I was in the medal auction business he guided consignments my way. He included me in a coin deal or two. At a coin show once he handed me a cased set of gold coins. 'Here, go sell that to so-and-so. Sell it for anything over X amount and make yourself a fat fee.' Hans was my first weekly columnist at Coin World. His text came in written on all kinds of paper as he traveled all over the world.

And here is a mini archive of Schulman documents. Perhaps I should have it appraised and offer it to some numismatic writer who wants to do research or an article on Schulman or Farouk as a coin collector.

To read the complete article, see:
DICK JOHNSON'S SCHULMAN-FAROUK ARCHIVE (https://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v10n36a06.html)

June 13, 2004: REAGAN'S MEDALLIC ART COMPANY VISIT
The year was 1969. Medallic Art Company, then on 45th Street in midtown Manhattan, was striking the California Bicentennial Medal. The call came midweek: the governor from California was in town on business, he has a free hour tomorrow at midday. "Could he come visit your plant to see their Bicentennial Medal being struck"?

"Could he"? W-e-l-l Y-e-s! We couldn't wait. My chore was to get publicity photographs taken. But by the end of the day, however, I hadn't lined up a photographer yet. My usual photographers were all busy. We were in the center of the photographic industry on the East Side of Manhattan, amid photo studios and film processing plants, but I couldn't find a last-minute photographer until an hour before the governor's intended arrival.

His entourage was not that large, four men as I recall. MAco President Bill Louth did the honors in the usual VIP tour, from a start in the showroom and oval gallery to his office and the firm's collection of fine art statues. We had a small statue of a bear. The Governor walked over to that statue and caressed it. The California bear was the symbol on the state's Bicentennial Medal.

Reagan passed the glass wall with all the office girls watching his every move. He smiled and waved at them. Was this the governor, the movie star, or the man? Either way he charmed the ladies.

In the plant he became fascinated with the die-engraving pantograph, standing in the crowded room watching the artist's original model being engraved into a die to strike the medals.

To read the complete article, see:
REAGAN'S MEDALLIC ART COMPANY VISIT (https://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v07n24a05.html)

June 22, 2014: DICK JOHNSON'S CALL TO ARMS: COINS COULD DISAPPEAR
I have sounded the call to arms before but no one in authority at the American Numismatic Association seems to be listening. An action is needed that overshadows perhaps 90% of the activities in which the ANA is currently involved. A monster is lurking in the future that would severely curtail the field of numismatics.

The ABC network issued a report this week on the declining use of circulating coins in America. We all know we are in a soft economy. This has led to fewer purchases and less need for use of coins in making payment for small value transactions. The report reveals the government office -- the Cash Product Office -- that tracks the amount of coins in circulation. It also determines where and what coins are needed to be obtained from the Federal Reserve Banks (which obtains newly minted coins from the Mint.)

The rumbling behind closed doors is that circulating coins may be abandoned altogether Such action would end entirely with the current trend of increased payments online by phone. This is, in effect, Electronic Transfer of Payments.. That is the monster in the closet.

If such an action would occur it would severely damage coin collecting, let alone the entire numismatic field. Numismatists would be forced to study existing coins like scientists and archeologists study clay tablets.

To read the complete article, see:
DICK JOHNSON'S CALL TO ARMS: COINS COULD DISAPPEAR (https://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v17n26a23.html)

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address: whomren@gmail.com

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