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    Jun 02 2023

    Newman Portal add Catholic Commemorative Medal Society Newsletter

    Loaned by Ken Berger, Newman Portal recently scanned a 7-year run (1967-1973) of the Catholic Commemorative Medal Society Newlsetter. The precise organization of the Society is not clear; it may have been affiliated with the Franklin Mint. In any case, the first issue of the newsletter noted 1,800 charter members, who received series medals as a membership benefit. The strength of the newsletter is the engraver biographies that appear throughout the series. The first issue includes a piece on Gilroy Roberts and includes a list of his principal works.

    Link to Catholic Commemorative Medal Society Newsletter on Newman Portal:
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    May 26 2023

    Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society Announces Newman Grants

    The Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society (EPNNES) today announces its fourth set of Newman Grants, created to financially assist numismatic authors and organizations pursuing original research in American numismatics. Newman Grants are awarded annually on the late Eric P. Newman’s birthday and assist with direct costs of numismatic research such as travel, photography, and graphic arts services. 

    Five awards are being made this year, touching on varied aspects of numismatics including United States federal coinage, medals, and Spanish-American paper money. The 2023 Newman Grant awardees are:

    Benjamin Gastfriend will research elongated pieces produced at the Panama-California and Panama-Pacific International Expositions in the early 20th century, with a focus on archival materials held by the San Diego History Center.

    Scott Miller will conduct research on the Lord and Lady Baltimore medal (Betts 34) with the objectives of documenting technical characteristics and creating a definitive census.

    Ángel O. Navarro-Zayas has previously published within the field of Spanish-American numismatics and will research the use of 18th century paper money in Puerto Rico, with the goal of uncovering fractional issues possibly issued in the same period.

    Shawn Tew will work with U.S. Mint documentation in the National Archives, with the objective of explaining observed anomalies in Lincoln cent production at the beginning of that series.

    Winston Zack is well known as a researcher of contemporary counterfeits of early American coinage and will continue that study, concentrating on counterfeit half dollars and silver dollars.

    It is the hope of EPNNES that this program will continue the legacy of Eric P. Newman in a way that would reflect his high standards for numismatic research.

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    May 23 2023

    Homer Saint-Gaudens Speaks on the Franklin Commemorative Medal

    Scanning of the American Numismatic Society member correspondence through the 1930s continue apace, with correspondents through the letter S now posted.  In a communication of April 22, 1927, Homer Saint-Gaudens (son of Augustus) clarifies the creation of the Tiffany medal commemorating the bicentennial of the birth of Benjamin Franklin. Saint-Gaudens writes in part “I do not approve of your showing the medal as being done merely by ‘Saint-Gaudens,’ because that is equivalent to saying ‘Augustus Saint-Gaudens,’ as far as the general public is concerned.” Homer clarified that the work was done by his uncle Louis, and that “my father always considered it the work of his brother.” 

    The Medallic Art Company consulted with the engraver James E. Fraser, who has assisted Augustus Saint-Gaudens with the medal. Fraser credited the reverse to Louis but felt that Augustus had reworked the obverse to the extent that “beyond question the portrait was his work.” The whole thread is reminiscent of the authorship of the Beatles’ catalog. John and Paul sometimes provided differing stories as to who composed what. The Saint-Gaudens clan was likely not operating under same level of mind-altering substances, but the salient point is that in a commercial operation with many moving parts, the details of exactly who did what are sometimes lost to history.

    Link to Homer Saint-Gaudens correspondence with ANS:
    Link to ANS member correspondence:
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    May 19 2023

    Newman Portal Adds Pollock’s United States Gold Coinage Die Varieties 1795-1834

    With the kind permission of Andrew W. Pollock III, Newman Portal has scanned and posted his volume United States Gold Coinage Die Varieties 1795-1834 (privately published, 1995). While the standard reference for die variety attributions is now the 2006 work Early U.S. Gold Coin Varieties, 1795-1834, by John Dannreuther and Harry W. Bass, Jr., specialists will find the Pollock work useful for the condition censes that are provided on a per variety basis. Pollock notes a “1,000+ catalogue survey,” not surprising given the extensive listings. 

    Link to United States Gold Coinage Die Varieties 1795-1834 on Newman Portal:
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    May 13 2023

    Newman Portal Symposium Video Available

    Video from the recent Newman Portal Symposium, held November April 27-29, 2023 is now available. The Newman Portal Symposium brings together speakers on a wide variety of numismatic topics, including U.S., world, and ancient numismatics. Our feature presentation examined crypto currencies and featured a Q&A with Rob Rodriguez and James Passin.

    Videos from all Newman Portal Symposium sessions are posted at
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    May 06 2023

    Newman Notes on the Bar Coppers

    A recent addition to the Newman Portal is the Newman research file on Bar Coppers. Of unknown origin, these pieces were first noticed in 1785 and reported in the New-Jersey Gazette. Included in this file is a paper presented by Harry W. Colborn to the Western Pennsylvania Numismatic Society in 1993, a lengthy list of differences between authentic pieces and 19th century Bolen copies, and detailed notes on forged examples. Newman further collected photographs of false pieces and compiled early auction appearances of Bar Coppers.

    Link to Newman file on Bar Coppers:
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    Apr 26 2023

    Mint Director Cannot Acquire the Mint Report

    During a recent tour of the Wayne Homren library, Wayne shared an original copy of a January 25, 1849 letter from Mint Director Robert M. Patterson to Representative Charles Brown (D-PA). Patterson wrote “I see that my Annual Mint Report for 1848 has been presented to Congress, and it will, no doubt, be printed, as heretofore. May I then ask a favor of you? It is that you will preserve for me as many copies as can be spared. I know that the number usually printed is small.” 

    Newman Portal previously scanned a draft of this letter in the National Archives. In this version, Patterson added a second request, which has been struck out: “Let me also ask you another favor, to send me any bills that may be printed.” This likely referred to bills related to the Mint, but Patterson apparently felt the second ask was too much.

    Patterson’s request is remarkable – even while leading a large, distributed operation producing millions of coins per year, he was not able to get a printed copy of his own report without working his personal contacts in Congress. Patterson’s connection to a Pennsylvania congressman is not surprising, as he was born in Philadelphia, earned his M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in 1808, and later joined the Penn faculty.

    Link to draft of Robert Patterson January 25, 1849 letter to Rep. Charles Brown on NNP:

    Link to U.S. Mint Reports on Newman Portal:

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    Apr 21 2023

    Don Taxay Correspondence on Newman Portal

    The Newman papers seem endless, and the latest addition to the Newman Portal is the Don Taxay correspondence file, running over 200 pages. The file opens in 1961 as Taxay is working on Counterfeit Mis-Struck and Unofficial U.S. Coins (published in 1963) and the two numismatists get into it quickly, discussing the origin of the Continental dollar and the “sixth” 1913 Liberty nickel. Newman must have liked Taxay’s work, as he wrote an enthusiastic review of the book that appeared in the November 1963 Numismatist.

    In 1964, Taxay moved from New Netherlands to the Curator position at the nearby Chase Manhattan Money Museum. The following year discussion turns toward Taxay’s magnum opus, The U.S. Mint and Coinage (1966) with Newman commenting on October 11, 1965 “What a pleasure it was to read….I enjoyed all the new material which you dug up.” Taxay delivered the work in sections to Newman, who clearly contributed edits to the project. It was no accident that Taxay dedicated the work to Newman. Attention then shifts to the Standard Catalogue (1970), and, although Newman reviewed the colonial portion of this work, his overall involvement with the project was less than for Taxay’s previous book.

    Taxay’s later disappearance is one of the great mysteries of modern numismatics, and the file here does not shed much light on the subject. Newman’s last letter, September 17, 1975, notes that the two had recently spoken on the phone, and that Newman had apparently consulted his records of the Brand collection as a result of the call. Three letters from 1962 refer to Taxay’s travel to India, where it is thought he eventually moved.

    Link to Newman/Taxay correspondence:
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    Apr 16 2023

    Old Bag Lovers Unite

    The inaugural issue of the Journal of the Old Bag Collectors Club was published by Pete Smith on April 15. According to the Journal, the club is focused on coin storage bags imprinted with the name of the U.S. Mint, Federal Reserve, commercial banks, and coin dealers. Included in this issue is a notice of a rare Carson City bag appearing in an upcoming Heritage auction. The study of coin bags is a natural evolution for similar collector groups that have pursued coin boards, sample slabs, and related items for some time.

    Link to Journal of the Old Bag Collectors Club on Newman Portal:
    Link to upcoming Heritage Auctions offering of a Carson City bag:
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    Mar 31 2023

    Newman Portal Reaches Five Million Page Milestone

    In March 2023, the Newman Numismatic Portal reached the five-million page threshold. Among auction sales, we host 12,888 catalogs, comprising 1,136,784 pages, or 23% of our collection by page count. The largest contributors are not hard to guess, with Heritage Auctions at 5.1% of our overall total and Stack’s Bowers at 2.1%.

    A large portion of the NNP collection is formed by periodicals, coming in at 35,419 items (2,329,172 pages), or 46% of the total size. High runners in the periodical group include Coin World (6.6% of our entire collection), The Numismatist (3.7%), Numismatic News (3.1%), and the Numismatic Scrapbook (1.5%).

    Among archival holdings, the National Archives U.S. Mint series comprises 9.1% of our entire page count, while the Eric P. Newman research papers come in at 1.7%.

    Our video collection, 3,854 items total, includes the David Lisot Video Library, which serves as an irreplaceable record of the hobby for the period covered and numbers 2,722 videos.

    One of our contributors this week wondered how often their material was consulted on NNP. One might think of NNP as an online library, containing thousands of works that are frequently an inch wide and a mile deep in terms of research scope. By aggregating the inches together, we build a bridge that spans an ever-growing field.

    In 1996, Bowers & Merena sold the Eliasberg 1913 nickel, the first U.S. coin to reach the million-dollar level, eventually hammering at $1.485 million. As the bidding reached the million-dollar mark, Dave Bowers briefly stopped to note the significance of the moment, and to add “We’re not stopping there!” We’re not stopping either, with current scanning projects including American Numismatic Society correspondence through the 1930s, U.S. Mint Director correspondence covering 1866-1900, and a series of comic books issued by the Federal Reserve Bank in the 1980s that presented topics in money and banking.

    Image: cover of The Story of Money, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 1984.

    Link to The Story of Money:
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