E-Sylum Feature Writer and
American Numismatic Biographies author Pete Smith submitted this
article on Penny-Wise editor Warren Lapp. Thank you! A great life.
I have never met a movie star who collects coins. I have met a couple of notable early copper
collectors who have been portrayed in movies. One of them was the creator and first editor of the
Early American Coppers journal, Penny-Wise. I know I am getting old when I realize he has now
been dead for thirty years.
Warren Anthony Lapp (1915-1993)
The Early American Coppers Club was founded in 1967 by Herbert A. Silberman (1916-2001).
He recruited Dr. Warren Lapp, EAC Charter Member 33, to edit a club newsletter, which Lapp
did from the issue of September 15, 1967, through March 15, 1986. A January 1986 heart attack
forced him into retirement after 113 issues and 5440 pages.
Penny-Wise grew from modest beginnings into a great resource for copper collectors. Doctor
Sheldon's book, Penny-Whimsy, was published in 1958 and through the popularization of variety
collecting, became quickly out of date. One of the missions of Penny-Wise was to gather
resources for the eventual update of Penny Whimsy.
Warren Anthony Lapp was born in Chicago Heights, Illinois, on April 5, 1915, and grew up in
Norwood, Ohio. His parents were Reuben Roy Lapp (1886-1952), a manager for Socony Oil
Company, and Gertrude Caroline Hacker (1888-1982).
Warren attended Ohio State University and received an M. D. in 1939, trained as an obstetrician
and gynecologist. He did an internship in Brooklyn 1939 to 1941. He married Emma Katherine
Beard (1916-1993) on January 25, 1941, then continued with his residency 1941 to 1944. He was
commissioned as a first lieutenant and army doctor and served in Europe during 1944 to 1946.
Dr. Lapp delivered the first child born to a military dependent in Europe after the war.
On December 9, 1945, the 1938 Cadillac in which General George S. Patton was riding collided
with an Army truck near Manheim, Germany. Patton received a paralyzing spinal cord injury and
died on December 21, 1945. One of the attending doctors was Warren Lapp. Lapp was a script
consultant for the 1986 television movie,
The Last Days of Patton. Lapp was portrayed by
actor Michel John Paliotti. Lapp received a Bronze Star in April 1945 and left the Army as a
After the war, Lapp returned to Brooklyn as attending physician at Kings County Hospital. After
that he was director for OB-GYN at St, Johns Episcopal Hospital in Brooklyn. Later he was an
Associate Clinical Professor at the State University of New York after 1955. He was president of
the Kings County Medical Society in 1959 and president of the Brooklyn Gynecological Society
in 1960. He was a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and Councilor of the New York
State Medical Society.
Lapp contributed an important article to The Numismatist.
The Yellow Fever Epidemics in
Philadelphia and Their Effect on the First U. S. Mint was published in the issue of April 1971. It won a 1972 Heath Literary Award for Lapp in 1972. His collection of items made from large
cents was the basis for an article,
Uses and Abuses of U. S. Large Cents published in The
Numismatist in August 1971.
Lapp joined Herbert Silberman to edit the anthology, United States Large Cents 1793-1857,
published by Quarterman in 1975. Among his collecting interest were oddities made from large
cents and things named Pennywise.
His interests outside numismatics included membership in the Long Island Historical Society and
Rotary International. He enjoyed fishing, swimming and boating on a private lake near his
vacation home in New Jersey.
In May of 1983, I met Dr. Lapp at the annual EAC convention in Queens, New York. I took his
photo in my role of EAC Historian. The quality is not good, but it is the only one I have.
After his 1981 retirement, he moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. Lapp was in poor health and
died at home there on May 20, 1993. He is buried at Oakwood Cemetery at Raleigh, North
Carolina. He was survived by his wife, two sons and five grandchildren. Katherine died seven
weeks later on July 8, 1993.
As I was doing research on Lapp this week, the most comprehensive source I could find for him
was the obituary I contributed to the July 15, 1993, issue of Penny-Wise. I would have trouble
doing as well today.
Getting back to characters in movies. Pennywise is a character in the Stephen King 1986 novel
It. This was made into a movie. Pennywise was portrayed by Tim Curry in the 1990 television
adaptation and by Bill Skarsgard in the 2017 film adaptation. The American punk-rock band,
Pennywise, is named after the character.
Numismatics isn't so scary. But enjoy the summer movie season and keep an eye open for fun numismatic connections.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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