The Numismatic Bibliomania Society


The E-Sylum: Volume 25, Number 19, May 8, 2022, Article 16


American Numismatic Biographies author Pete Smith submitted the second of his articles on Robert Bashlow, known in numismatics for, among other things, creating satirical medals and restrikes of the Confederate cent. Thanks! -Editor

When Robert Bashlow was born, his parents lived in West Patterson, New Jersey. He was probably born there on June 21, 1939.

He began collecting coins at age ten. At age fifteen in 1954, Bashlow placed an ad in Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine. In the Trades and Exchanges section he offered to trade his Hudson half dollar for a Hawaii half dollar.

Robert Bashlow was not yet twenty when he joined the ANA in May of 1959 as member 33362. In May of 1961, he sponsored David Laties as a new member. Bashlow and Laties were partners in various enterprises. Bashlow converted to life member 429 in January of 1962. Then he was expelled from the ANA in July of 1962 with no stated explanation.

In 1959 he placed an ad in Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine looking to buy 1955 double die cents. Bowers reported in Rare Coin Review 102, …in his day thought this was the neatest thing since sliced bread and borrowed money from a pawnbroker to buy as many as he could… He promoted the coin and made the market as prices rose. His business model was to acquire coins in quantities that could be promoted through frequent ads in coin publications.

The British farthing was demonetized in 1960 and Bashlow went to England to buy huge quantities for resale and promotional hype in the United States. He also bought a large quantity of British Conder Tokens from Seaby. These were offered with frequent ads in Coin World and Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine. Some were offered through Great Britain Coin Co, a subsidiary of Moore Bashlow Co. [Who was Moore?] In 1963 he offered British pennies in large lots through Coin World ads for Trans-Africa Development Company.

  Catholic States of America.01

Bashlow created a satirical token in 1961. The obverse legend was CATHOLIC STATES OF AMERICA / IN THE / POPE / WE HOPE / 1963 and reverse GOOD FOR 1 CONFESSION / BY THE / AUTHORITY OF / PRES. KENNEDY / AND / JOHN XXIII. The 42mm medal was struck in gold, silver and bronze by John Pinches Ltd. Co. in London. Bashlow was concerned that our Catholic president would be unduly influenced by the Pope.

Bashlow and Laties acquired dies from John J. Ford via Q. David Bowers, and started issuing a series of restrikes. Bashlow used transfer dies, made by August Frank and Company in Philadelphia, to strike 30,000 copies of the Confederate cent in various metals. These second restrikes were heavily promoted in Coin World.

In 1961, Bashlow restruck 7200 copies of the Continental Dollar for the Empire Coin Co. He used transfer dies to strike a commemorative item for the 1964 Boy Scout Jamboree.

Later in 1962 Bashlow created a fantasy restrike using a Henry Hudson Dollar obverse and Bermuda Shilling Reverse.

In 1962, he arranged with Kirkwood in Edinburgh to strike impressions from an 1814 dime die and a God Preserve Philadelphia reverse. When he returned from Scotland, he was arrested on February 4 and charged with bringing likenesses of U. S. coins into the country from England. He was fined $100. The die was destroyed in the belief that it was counterfeit and the struck impressions were destroyed. A few pieces may have survived in Scotland.

Bashlow also produced other copies from his supply of dies. Production of restrikes was controversial and not welcomed in some parts of the numismatic community. After 1963 his Coin World ads abruptly stopped when the publisher banned him from future advertising. Ads for Great Britain Coin Co. continued into 1965.

Bashlow then went dark after 1965 with no more ads and promotions. It was reported that he was evicted from his apartment for failing to pay his rent and fighting with his landlord. This was not the first time he defaulted on his financial obligations. August Frank and Company took his dies for failure to pay his bills with them.

By 1972, Bashlow was doing business with David Laties and the White Oak Trading Company. The sale of bulk lots of world coins continued. In 1982, after the death of Bashlow, Laties formed the Educational Coin Company which remains in business.

When I previously wrote the biography of Bashlow, I reported that he was affiliated with Williams Trading Company. However, Williams did not appear in Newman Numismatic Portal articles until 1980, after Bashlow was dead.

Next week, the story of Bashlow and Walter Breen.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

Early American E-Sylum ad 2022-05-01

Wayne Homren, Editor

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