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Sep 15 2021

Dick Doty and Eric Newman Dress Down for Numismatic Research

The renewal of the ANS Coinage of Americas Conference, with this week’s conference focusing on Victor D. Brenner, brings to mind the forerunner of the COAC series, the 1976 volume Studies on Money in Early America. This work, edited by Richard Doty and Eric Newman, gathered scholarly papers on American numismatics. At an ANS tribute dinner for Newman held in 1996, Doty contributed the following anecdote surrounding production of the 1976 volume:

“It took place over twenty years ago, in Los Angeles, during the summer of 1975. Eric and I were both at the convention of the American Numismatic Association, held that August. Eric was there to give several lectures and receive an award. I was there to set up and oversee an ANS exhibit, my first, and we were both there to work on the editing of the Society's upcoming publication for the American Bicentennial, Studies on Money in Early America. 

We agreed to assemble in Eric's hotel room one day about noon. Most of the articles gave us few difficulties, but there was one... It was by an elderly gentleman who knew an immense amount about his subject, but had no idea of how to render its telling into understandable prose. Eric and I worked on that article, and worked, and worked - and made absolutely no progress. Then the air-conditioning in Eric's room abruptly went on strike, and our workplace rapidly heated up; within an hour or so, it was ninety-five. 

I asked Eric whether we should simply give up, abandon the attempt to edit the recalcitrant article - or at least defer it until the air-conditioner was repaired. But Eric was a stubborn man: he knew that article was worth saving because of its scholarly value, because of the fact that the writer was a friend of many years' standing. He suggested that we make ourselves as comfortable as we could, and keep on working. And so an impartial observer would have seen two gentlemen in their underwear, fortified with luke-warm beer [this must have been Doty only, because Newman did not drink], taking apart an article and putting it back together again, word by word. I have never had a more arduous editing task, nor, I imagine, has Eric. But as I worked with him through the afternoon and into the evening, I gained an admiration of tonight's honoree which has never left me. This man would expose the best, would bring to light the work his friend wanted to write - and would do it in such a way that the latter would believe he had written it himself. 

And that act of scholarship and humanity sums up my friend, Eric P. Newman.”

Link to ANS Coinage of Americas Conference proceedings on Newman Portal: https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/publisherdetail/510766
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