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Apr 20 2019

U.S. Mint Coinage Die Records

One of the fundamental questions in American numismatic research relates to coinage die production and usage within the U.S. series. Since the 1850s, collectors have avidly pursued U.S. coins by die marriage, beginning with the early copper coins and today more extensively. Most of this work has been done by examining the coins directly, as the Mint has never centralized the related records.  Imagine if this information had been cleanly preserved by the Mint – the Red Book might have listed die counts along with mintage records from the beginning, and the hunt would be on to find the coins.  As it is, researchers must ferret out the information from multiple locations within the National Archives & Records Administration, and even then our knowledge is not complete. To the rescue comes Roger Burdette, who has gathered together the known archival data, consolidating research from Bob Julian and others to do so. This is now available on Newman Portal. Although not 100% comprehensive, as much of the data was probably never recorded to begin with, die variety researchers of 19th century coinage in particular will find useful information to complement to their investigation of the actual coins.

Link to U.S. Mint coinage die records on Newman Portal:

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Apr 08 2019

U.S. Mint Newsletters on Newman Portal

If the Mint had an employee newsletter, what would be in it?  Complete details of all Mint delicacies from dies to fantasy coins?  Catalogs of the work of every engraver? Production records of each piece of equipment within the Mint?  We can dream! But, apart from dreaming, we can actually answer this question, courtesy of John Graffeo, who scanned The Mint at Philadelphia, an internal Mint newsletter, for the period 1969-1971. These were located at the National Archives in Denver and scanned under the sponsorship of Newman Portal. 

Much of the content is typical for such a publication – appeals for employee safety, lists of new employees and service anniversaries, notes on Civil Service and benefits program changes, etc. But, amid the quotidian chaff, there are a few gems. In the September 1971 issue, Engraver Frank Gasparro comments on his appearance on “What’s My Line?,” which aired in late 1971 or early 1972. Gasparro notes “You certainly get coached on the show. You even have to sign a contract to verify the show is on the up and up. I thought the show would help in selling the Eisenhower dollar. The public is still not aware of the impact of the new silver dollar, nor are the people aware of the obverse and reverse design. When the panel and I discussed the reverse of our coins, like the penny, nickel, Kennedy-half and quarter, they were actually stumped as to what was on the reverses.”

Also useful are notices of employee awards, which in some cases detail process improvements within the Mint, and retirement notices that lend color to the careers of Mint employees. In 1969, there is coverage of the (fourth) Philadelphia Mint opening, along with sentimental observations on the closing of the third Mint. The publication as a whole provides insight into the Mint as a workplace, a different perspective from collectors who are only interested in the end products. Additional employee newsletters will be found in box 5 of the Denver Mint archives group, Miscellaneous Correspondence and Memos 1897-1994, on Newman Portal.

Link to The Mint at Philadelphia on Newman Portal:
Link to Denver Mint Miscellaneous Correspondence and Memos 1897-1994 on Newman Portal:
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Apr 04 2019

F.C.C. Boyd Colonial Paper Money Inventory

Recently scanned by Newman Portal is the inventory of colonial paper money from the F.C.C. Boyd estate. Michael Hodder wrote of the Boyd collection in the Ford III (Stack’s, 5/2004) catalog: “Despite not having many reference texts to assist him, he built the basis for what may be the most comprehensive private collection of Colonial American paper currency ever formed.” Eric P. Newman was able to personally inspect portions of the collection as they were sent to him for review, c. 1963, by New Netherlands (Charles Wormser and John J. Ford, Jr.), who handled the Boyd estate. The file includes correspondence related to possible acquisitions by Newman. This appears to have not occurred, and the Ford sale catalogs indicate that many pieces were acquired by Ford from the Boyd estate. Numerous examples from the Boyd/Ford collection were used for plate images in Newman’s Early Paper Money of America (first edition, 1967), and these likely trace to this period in the early-1960s when Newman had access to the material. The inventory includes notes by Walter Breen, who would have been enlisted by New Netherlands for the task.

Link to the F.C.C. Boyd Colonial paper money inventory:
Link to John J. Ford, Jr., sale catalogs:

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