The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 25, Number 18, May 1, 2022, Article 15


American Numismatic Biographies author Pete Smith submitted this article on the enigmatic Robert Bashlow, known in numismatics for, among other things, creating satirical medals and restrikes of the Confederate cent. Thanks. This is a multipart series, and this first installment examines some unsavory family history likely unknown to Bashlow's friends and acquaintances in the hobby. -Editor

confederate cent restrike I have written more than 3500 biographical sketches in the past 33 years. Some of them are forgotten an hour after I finish and move on to something else. Some stick with me and curiosity brings me back to them for additional information. Such is the case with Robert Bashlow, mentioned last week in The E-Sylum.

David T. Alexander had an excellent article about Bashlow in CoinWeek for September 6, 2016. Alexander reported, Numismatists who knew Bashlow in his heyday, such as Q. David Bowers, recall that his parents were respectable and well-off, manufacturers of precision anti-dust laboratory equipment.

I have great respect for David T. Alexander and Q. David Bowers. I consider both of them as friends and fellow members of the Rittenhouse Society. However, in the case of Robert Bashlow's parents, I think they missed something.

Robert Bashlow was the son of Archibald Archie Bashlow and Rebecca Kush Bashlow. Archie was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on November 27, 1907. When I looked for him in the 1930 Census, I found something I had not previously seen in a Census listing. In 1930 he was a prisoner at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.

Archie was the youngest of five brothers. In 1926, he and his older brother George opened Store of Gifts in Hackensack, New Jersey. Neither of them had experience managing a retail store but the store was described as successful.

Bashlow Brothers clipping In 1928 Archie and his brother Charles were charged with white slavery and violation of the Mann Act. It was alleged that they brought 19-year-old Ethel Bowen from New York to Easton, Pennsylvania, with promises of good clothes, jewelry and a job in retail. She was taken to a house of ill-repute and offered to various disorderly house managers before she was sold for $1000. She escaped and reported to the authorities.

There were others involved. One newspaper article stated,

"Three men were immediately arrested, two of whom are said to be leaders of a gang of White Slavers running New York and New Jersey girls to gangs in other states. Another article said, A number of underworld characters were present in the court room, where police officers searched them for weapons."

Today such crimes fall under the larger umbrella of "human trafficking". The term "White slave" is typically defined as "a woman who is sold or forced into prostitution" or "a White person held in slavery." -Editor

While in jail awaiting trial, the Bashlow brothers and two others conspired to overpower guards, take their guns and keys and walk out of jail. A search of their cells turned up sections of copper pipe and a blackjack. The break was thwarted after another inmate ratted on the conspirators.

Archie and Charles were convicted and received sentences of four to eight years in the penitentiary. It turned out that the girl had provided a false identity. She was actually 16-year-old Sabine Berger of Passaic, New Jersey. I would not use the word respectable to describe the brother's business.

By 1933 the brothers were out of prison and opened Bashlow Brothers Coal Company in Hackensack. In 1939, George Bashlow, as weighmaster, and Archie Bashlow, as delivery driver, were charged with shorting the Teaneck High School on a load of coal. As Archie was driving the truck to a second weigh station to confirm the weight, he accidentally raised the truck box and dumped part of the load on the roadway. George was fined $100 and Archie was fined $50. In the 1940 census, Archie was listed as a coal truck driver.

Archie married Rebecca Kurk on December 23. 1935. She was a Brooklyn school teacher and graduate of New York State Normal School and Cornell University. Robert was their only child.

In 1964, Archie applied for a patent on a dust-proof cabinet. He went into business with Liverpool Industries in Brooklyn. In the December 1987 issue of The Numismatist, Q. David Bowers recalled Robert Bashlow. He reported that he bought several hundred shares of stock in Liverpool Industries from Robert at $2.50 per share and the price soon dropped to 25 cents a share.

A 1977 newspaper article featured senior citizens attending classes at Kent State University. Among those profiled were Archie and Rebecca Bashlow. Archie was described as former vice president of Liverpool Industries in Brooklyn. Archie may have achieved the appearance of respectability late in life.

Rebecca died on May 30. 1979, in Wadsworth, Ohio, a few months before her son Robert. Archie Bashlow died on February 14, 1989, in Miami. Or did he? There is a curious record that he was living in Wadsworth, Ohio, in 2001. Another website indicates he is living in Wadsworth, Ohio, at age 114. Biographers should learn to be skeptical of some records.

What values did respectable Archie pass on to his son, Robert? How far did the apple fall from the tree?

In the next installment, I will discuss the life of Robert in greater detail.

The newspaper clipping is courtesy Julia Casey. From the New York Daily News, August 31, 1928. Other citations include: Jersey Journal, Jersey City, NJ, August 30, 1928, The Morning Call of Patterson, NJ, September 22, 1928 and The Alliance Review, August 19, 1997. -Editor

To read dictionary definitions, see:

To read the complete CoinWeek article, see:
Robert Bashlow (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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