TOM KAYS' NUMISMATIC DIARY: MARCH 14, 2017
The E-Sylum (3/19/2017)
Despite plans for a dinner in Baltimore in conjunction with the Whitman - Baltimore Spring Expo in March, some Nummis Nova hardcore members met despite snow, ice, and high winds, at a charming and cozy restaurant near the Eisenhower Avenue Metro Station. Delia’s Mediterranean Grill and Brick Oven Pizza was a pleasant surprise for those new to this dining venue. In fact, and I quote: “This was the best choice of restaurant of any recent Nummis Nova dinner,” said Gene Brandenburg, who appreciates fine dining. Eight of us (Gene, Joe Esposito, Dave Schenkman, Steve Bishop, Jon Radel, Robert Hoppensteadt, me and Wayne H. (#1) - Herndon - who was wearing a company shirt with his name embroidered on it so we could tell him apart from the other Wayne H.) relaxed in splendid comfort, as odd coins and appetizers led the way into dinner and numismatic conversation.
Figure 1: 1773 Virginia Halfpennies found at Richmond (with slightly different diameters)
Figure 2: 1883 - 1933 Fiftieth Anniversary of Ed. Friedrich Refrigerators in San Antonio, Texas
Few followed our mid-March theme to bring something green, Irish, and/or lucky, instead bringing whatever objects lay at hand, found an hour before heading out the door for dinner. I know it works that way with me. Seen were a pair of “green” Virginia Halfpennies excavated at Richmond, (Figure 1) a “lucky” token commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Friedrich Refrigerator Company from a surprisingly early year (Figure 2), and more nondescript George II coppers, not all of which were Irish, but when you are heading out the door, coins from anywhere near the British Isles come as close to “Irish” as could be found in a pinch. Sorry for any with Britannia reverses. Erin go Bragh!
Figure 3a: Obverse Half Shekel (126 – 55 B.C.) [Ex: Clain-Stefanelli/Greenwald and Jackson Collection] and Full Shekel (138 – 129 B.C.) of Tyre in size comparison
Figure 3b: Full Shekel and Half Shekel of Tyre in size comparison
Talk turned to remembering the son of Vladimir and Elvira Clain-Stefanelli, their son Alex, who was born into one of the first families of numismatic researchers. Two coins that once belonged to Alex caught the attention of Robert, our ancient coin expert. (Figures 3a, 3b) Shekels of Tyre are well known coins with Biblical connection, possibly being among the “Thirty Pieces of Silver,” but it was a Half Shekel that was needed for Temple Tax. Full shekels had to be exchanged for Half Shekels by the money changers in the Temple whose tables were overturned in demonstration of their secular presence in a sacred space. Half shekels of Tyre are scarce in comparison to full shekels.
We noted the recent passing of Ivor Noel Hume, Archeologist, (re) discoverer of Martin’s Hundred, and author of In Search of This and That, which includes images and descriptions of interesting early coins, jetons, and tokens found in colonial context. Some of us at the table met him and we exchanged remembrances.
Figure 4: 1757 Lima, Peru, One Real with Jamaica, fancy “GR” Counter Stamp of 1767 (Ex: Mendel Peterson)
We also remembered Mendel Peterson, an expert in underwater archeology, who obtained interesting and significant treasure coins. A nice Lima one real of 1757 with Georgius Rex (GR) counterstamp of Jamaica from 1767 was seen at dinner, and attributed to Mendel Peterson. (Figure 4).
Figure 5: French 25 Centimes “Monnaie de Singe” token reminiscent of coinage of the French Revolution for Aux Glaces on the Rue Ste Apolline, Paris
Figure 6: Golden “Great Seal of the State of New Jersey” from an older collection
An odd case of coins and tokens circulated for show and tell, before the lamb chops and salmon tricolare, that had a Parisian “glaces” shop token reminiscent of coins of the French Revolution (Figure 5) and a uniface, golden, Great Seal of the State of New Jersey, acquired by an old time collector during WWII (Figure 6). It is not a proper seal since it would leave a reverse impression, but may rather be an official button, done in good style, and hopefully in solid gold!
We missed seeing Eric Schena who was inundated with snow out to the West earlier in the day, and should not have attempted the long slippery drive, and didn’t. I have a surprise for him. Gene gave me to hold for Eric, the original container for a hoard of Russian Wire Money assembled long ago that Eric studied in his youth.
Figure 7: Curious envelope that held an old hoard of Russian Wire Money
The 3 inch, hand folded envelope seems to be vellum rather than paper, with old quill and ink writing. The “paper” is without foxing and reads in accented English, “98 Old Russian Silver Monney’s of XVI & XVII Centuries.” Inside are smaller, folded envelope “tubes” of the same material reading: “25 Kopeika’s John’ I the Terrible,” “1 Denga & 15 Kopeika’s Bozys Hofunov,” in the fold, and “20 Kopeika’s of the ‘Zar Theodor.” It is a most curious old coin holder.
We will need to ask Eric what he found in the envelope when he attributed its contents years ago. Many other marvelous curios circulated that night, including rare tokens, medals, and coins from folks down the table from me, so that I didn’t hear or capture all their stories before the warmth, wine, good food, and good company on such a cold and windy night, plunged us into that “food coma” a really good meal can achieve. You just need be there, stay awake, and walk the restaurant instead of eating to get all the stories on paper.
Washington Funeral Urn Medal
Joe Esposito adds:
I brought along a Washington Funeral Urn medal which has endured many trials since 1800. Still, it has character and represents an iconic piece of Washingtoniana.