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Sep 12 2020

Newman Numismatic Portal Symposium Videos

Videos of the 2020 Newman Numismatic Portal Symposium presentations are now available at https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/multimediadetail/539070. This event was held via Zoom, August 28-30, and includes forty-one sessions.
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Feb 27 2021

Crispus Attucks in Nummis

Crispus Attucks (c. 1723-1770), per Wikipedia, is “widely regarded as the first person killed in the Boston Massacre and thus the first American killed in the American Revolution. Historians disagree on whether he was a free man or an escaped slave, but most agree that he was of Natick and African descent.”  Within numismatics, Attucks was most notably depicted on the U.S. Mint 1998 Black Revolutionary War Patriots Commemorative Silver Dollar, with the portrait of Attucks engraved by John Mercanti. The Eric P. Newman papers reveal two other examples. Attucks was featured in the American Negro Commemorative Society Series in August 1969, manufactured by the Franklin Mint in a 39mm silver proof format. Attucks also shows up in the American Patriots Series, these pieces were issued by the Beam Distilling Company and attached to Beam bottles. This piece is 32mm, in bronze, with Attucks included in July 1970. Again, these were produced by the Franklin Mint, along with many other Bicentennial-themed issues.


Link to Newman file on the American Revolutionary Bicentennial Commission, detailing Franklin Mint Bicentennial issues: 
https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/book/567391
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Feb 17 2021

Thomas Jefferson Coin Collection

Readers are likely familiar with the George Washington numismatic collection, which notably contained an 11-piece silver Comitia America medal set (now at the Massachusetts Historical Society), in addition to the massive gold example of the Washington Before Boston medal, today at the Boston Public Library. Thomas Jefferson also collected coins, and in 1994 Beth Deisher of Coin World investigated the situation. Later, she shared the material with Eric P. Newman, and today this is digitized on Newman Portal. Jefferson made a donation to the American Philosophical Society (APS) of “coins and medals,” c. 1806, apparently gathered from travels in Europe. The APS collection was loaned in the 19th century to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and returned much later, with pieces missing. APS ultimately sold its numismatic holdings in 1967. The historic record keeping and museum cataloging was not sufficient to specifically identify the Jefferson pieces, and today these are lost to the winds. 

While coin collectors would like to think that the Founding Fathers were dedicated numismatists who were intimately involved with the early U.S. Mint, Jefferson, who oversaw the formation of the Mint as the Secretary of State, summed up the situation in an 1825 letter to Mint Director Samuel Moore: “I do not remember a single circumstance respecting the devices on our coins except that someone having proposed to put Genl. Washington’s head on them it was entirely objected to.” In reality, the decisive vote in the House on this question was passed by a narrow margin, 26-22, in favor of a depiction of Liberty on the coinage. Even Jefferson’s single recollection was not quite right.

Link to Beth Deisher research on Jefferson coin collection on Newman Portal: https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/archivedetail/540804

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