For my work with the Newman Numismatic Portal I attended a conference by the Internet Archive at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library in Washington D.C. on Wednesday. It was a sweltering hot day and I had an hour to kill before the event began at Noon. Across the intersection was the National Portrait Gallery, housed in the old Patent Office building. Unfortunately it didn't open until 11:30, but I hung around and took a whirlwind tour of some first-floor exhibits.
Here are some of the great exhibits I saw, several with connections to numismatics or my hometown of Pittsburgh, location of the upcoming ANA convention.
The Daguerre Monument
Outside the Old Patent Office Building is a monument to photography pioneer Daguerre. Numismatic bibliophiles, researchers and collectors would all be hamstrung in their efforts without photographs of coins and paper money.
Men of Progress
The first painting to catch my eye was this 1862 group portrait. Outside of numismatics my interests include the history of science, technology and business, and the works of the men pictured are remarkable achievements, even though few names would be recognized readily today.
Fifth from the left is the connection to numismatics (and daguerrean photography in the U.S. - Joseph Saxton (1799-1873)). QUICK QUIZ: what can you tell us about Saxton?
In 1857, the inventor of a coal-burning stove, Jordan Mott, commissioned Christian Schussele to paint this group portrait of nineteen scientists and inventors of the United States who
had altered the course of contemporary civilization. Schussele represents the group gathered around a table discussing Samuel F. B. Morse's telegraph device, with other inventions and diagrams scattered about the room. The portrait did not commemorate an actual occasion but was meant to honor national achievement. Schussele began by sketching each figure individually before designing the group composition. In the background, he included a painting of the men's famed eighteenth-century predecessor, Benjamin Franklin.
Men of Progress pays tribute to the remarkable growth of the U.S. economy by the 1850s.
For more information, see:
Men of Progress
Henry and Helen Frick, Mary Cassatt
Here are three Pittsburgh figures. At left is a 1910 dual portrait of industrialist Henry Clay Frick and his daughter Helen. Helen lived in the family's Pittsburgh mansion until her death in 1984. The wife of a fellow Western Pennsylvania Numismatic Society member was one of her nurses. Helen kept the mansion as it was when she was a child growing up there, and it is now a museum well worth visiting while in Pittsbirgh.
The portrait on the right is Impressionist artist Mary Casssat, painted by Edgar Degas. Cassatt was born in Pittsburgh.
The museum had more to offer than just portraits. Here's Thomas Edison and one of his inventions, the tin foil phonograph.
Back to numismatics, here's the first Director of the U.S. Mint, scientist and astronomer David Rittenhouse.
Robert Tait MacKenzie Plaque
The artwork wasn't only in oil - here's a portrait plaque of Violet Oakley by Robert Tait MacKenzie.
U.S. Mint Coin Store
On my way home from the conference I passed the U.S. Mint Coin Store.
New Coin Books
Well, not so new, but new to my library. These two titles from the American Numismatic Society book sale arrived this week.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
ANS SUMMER BOOK SALE!
Miami Rare Coin Co. Money Pouch
Later in the week this arrived in the mail from
Bob Steinberg - a Miami Rare Coin Co. money pouch made by his father.
"I believe my late father William "Foxy" Steinberg had these made sometime between 1955-1965 (as the company who made them became a corporation in
1965 and changed their name slightly), so it had to be made prior to 1965. I don't know how many my dad ordered but I would guess maybe 100 or so to give out to customers and dealers. Check out the old telephone number with the two letter prefix!"
Most of our readers are too young to remember those prefixes, so here's a lesson from Wikipedia. The image is an old rotary dial showing the telephone number LA-2697, which includes the first two letters of Lakewood, New Jersey. To call the number people would dial 5-2-2-6-9-7
A telephone exchange name or central office name was a distinguishing and memorable name assigned to a central office. It identified the switching system to which a telephone was connected, and facilitated the connection of telephone calls between switching systems in different localities.
Central offices were usually identified by names that were locally significant. The leading letters of a central office name were used as the leading components of the telephone number representation, so that each telephone number in the area was unique. These letters were mapped to the digits of the dial, which was indicated visibly on the dial's numbering plate.
On the number card of the telephone instrument, the name was typically shown in full, but only the significant letters to be dialed were capitalized, while the rest of the name was shown in lower case.
For more background on telephone exchange names, see:
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
HIGGINS MUSEUM COIN AND BANK BAGS
Wayne Homren, Editor
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