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HAPPY BIRTHDAY #106, ERIC P. NEWMAN

The E-Sylum (5/21/2017)


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Eric P. Newman, America's numismatic elder statesman and benefactor of the Newman Numismatic Portal, turns 106 this Thursday, May 25, 2017. Happy Birthday!!! -Editor

Eric P. Newman

Maureen and Stu Levine
Maureen and Stu Levine write:

Best wishes for a very happy birthday to Eric, our dear friend and mentor.

George Kolbe
Numismatic literature dealer George Kolbe writes:

Happy Birthday, Eric!

Jeff Garrett
American Numismatic Association President Jeff Garrett writes:

Happy birthday Eric, you are an inspiration to us all! Thank you so much for your enduring contributions to the hobby we all love so much.

Joel Orosz
Joel Orosz writes:

As Eric's 106th birthday approaches, it occurs to me that it is a shame that the American Numismatic Society no longer has its own building, so that an oversight could be corrected, In the old ANS building at Audubon Terrace in New York City, the names of the world's most scholarly numismatists were carved into the frieze just under the roof line. The only American included in this roster was Sylvester Sage Crosby; This made sense early in the 20th century, but a century later, any such list of the immortals would have to include Eric P. Newman,

Jeff Reichenberger
Jeff Reichenberger writes:

It was only a blip in your Numismatic life. Back when you were merely 99. You welcomed me and helped me research and write a project in collaborative effort. A blip for you, but a major unforgettable experience for me. THANK YOU for that moment in my Numismatic life! Your generosity in sharing your fun, your hobby, your curiosity, your research, your passion - has made our hobby so much more fun and accessible to the entire Numismatic community. Godspeed dear man, live long-er and prosper.



Roger Siboni

Fugio cent obverse Fugio cent reverse
Courtesy Roger Siboni

Roger Siboni writes:

Happy 106th! 106, man o man!

I will never forget coming home from the EAC in St. Louis held in conjunction with Opening of the Newman Money Museum to host my daughter and her new freshman classmate Liberty from MIT. It took me (us) about a half an hour to finally realize her "coin collecting Uncle Eric" who made the "best root beer floats on Earth" each summer was the same Eric Newman I just returned from celebrating the opening of the Money Museum with. Such a small world. We were all stunned!

Eric, thank you so much for igniting my love affair with Numismatics, sending me on my quest to collect every variety of James II 1/24 Reals, Machin's Mills coppers, Swedish Plate Money and a library to immerse myself in the love!

Dave Bowers
Dave Bowers writes:

What to say about Eric P. Newman? Well, given the proverbial soapbox to stand on I could spend an hour telling of Eric, at which time I would have to invite listeners to come back for more later!

In the mid-1950s I first interfaced with Eric. He was the ultimate source for reliable material about colonial and early American coins, one of my favorite series. After reading what S.S. Crosby said in Early American Coins, 1875, about Vermont coins and the mysterious Machin’s Mills, I was captivated. In asking around I learned that there were three other people interested in this secret mint—Ken Bressett, Walter Breen, and Eric.

In time we became occasional correspondents. For one reason or another he tapped me, as a dealer, for a source on market information as well as to various dealers he read about. Eric was not a frequent attendee of conventions. Most of these contacts were via telephone. Among early conversations I remember that he became very interested in the 1955 Doubled Die cent and we discussed that. Eric was very sharp regarding market values, often reminding me, “I am not a dealer, you know.” However his awareness of the market was superb.

We also talked a lot about business. Edison Brothers Stores was the family business. Shoe stores were conducted under the names of Baker (lower end), Burt (also lower end if I remember correctly), Leeds (medium scale), and Chandler’s. The marketing often involved placing several of these brands on the same city block, thereby creating a “shoe district.”

Eric visited me in California when I lived there and also in New Hampshire. I remember that one evening our entire conversation was about shoe manufacturing and retailing, how Brazil was a major source, and more. Edison Brothers Stores also went into non-shoe stores later, and I was told about them as they were rolled out. These were not a success.

Once Eric brought all of his spectacular early silver dollars to New Hampshire on a visit, for me to appraise. We were going out to dinner, and I said it was my policy never to have coins in the house, so let’s take them with us. He demurred and placed the National album pages under several sofa cushions!

When the Rittenhouse Society was formed in 1957 as a club for those interested in research, we decided to limit the age to 30. At our first formal breakfast meeting at the ANA Convention in Boston in 1960 we took stock of this, decided we could not possibly disqualify Eric, so that rule was dropped. Eric was in his 40s the time. At the next meeting we made him a member by unanimous acclamation.

Once when visiting Eric at his house in St. Louis he showed me his Wooton desk, a petite model. “I bet you can’t find the secret compartment,” he said. Forthwith I went to the desk and near the top front raised a secretly-hinged panel. “I have a Wooton desk, too,” I hastened to explain.

Eric was a purist—a rare species (but Emery May Holden Norweb and Harry W. Bass, Jr., were among others I have had the privilege to have as close friends). He could have written an essay on numismatic ethics, but never did.

In contrast, John J. Ford, Jr., also a fine friend of my from the 1950s onward, was a man of opportunity—for want of a better phrase. Eric viewed JJF as an opportunist and JJF viewed Eric as an expert with more credentials than he deserved.

The big break came in 1958 when F.C.C. Boyd died. Boyd and Eric were close on research matters, and a large part of his collection was on loan to Eric in St. Louis for study. JJF was also close to Boyd. At Boyd’s funeral cortege Eric rode with or near his widow Helen. Somehow, JJF persuaded Helen Boyd to sell him whatever he wanted from her late husband’s collection at the “generous offers” JJF said he would make. This involved the indignity of having Eric send back Boyd’s paper money so it could be added to Ford’s collection. Matters went from bad to worse.

I was close friends of both Eric and JJF but stayed away from rising to the challenge of making remarks when one talked about the other. Some years later I was with Eric at an ANA Convention (in later years he attended more shows), and JJF was giving a program. I suggested to Eric that it might be a good time to at least speak to JJF—for the first time in many years. He agreed. I then went to JJF and mentioned this. “Under no circumstances do I want him here,” or similar, was the comment.

Eric was highly and deservedly honored many ways—gaining the highest awards bestowed by the American Numismatic Society and the American Numismatic Association. Some years ago he was feted by the ANS at a dinner at the Explorers Club in New York City.

He and wife Evelyn traveled to just about every place imaginable. Once near Spitzbergen his crew had to be sure they would not be bothered by polar bears. On one trip he and Evelyn made overnight reservations in Mecca. Upon checking into the hotel he was informed that his wife, a non-Muslim woman, was not allowed. The Newmans packed up and left.

Eric was of great help to me in research over a long period of years and proofread and copy edited a number of my books, and wrote some forewords. He suggested the titles for my books on the 1804 dollar and the S.S. Central America treasure. I have 1,001 notes and anecdotes about Eric, all of them favorable. I’ll have to organize them someday. He is an American treasure.

In the meantime, Happy 106th!

Len Augsburger

Brand ledger WASHINGTON PRESIDENT 1792 gold pattern

Above: Brand secondary ledger #7 (1908-1909), the WASHINGTON PRESIDENT in gold is entry #46483.

Below: Newman’s handwritten inventory of half dollars in the Green collection. Included are many 1796 and 1797 pieces, the 1838-O, 1861 Confederate (four known), and 1792 WASHINGTON PRESIDENT in gold (unique).

Newman Numismatic Portal Project Coordinator Len Augsburger writes:

Newman inventory of Green half dollars I can’t say this was found in honor of Eric, but the timing with his birthday is fortuitous. Eric’s favorite coin in his collection is the WASHINGTON PRESIDENT 1792 pattern in gold (Baker 20-b), which he acquired out of the Col. E. H. R. Green estate in the early 1940s. While searching the Virgil Brand ledgers from the ANS (recently digitized in cooperation with the Newman Portal), Saul Teichman made an interesting discovery – this coin had passed through the Brand collection.

Previously published pedigrees can now be refined – the coin went from Parmelee to DeWitt Smith, then to Brand who purchased the Smith collection en bloc in 1908. Wayte Raymond acquired the piece for $2500 out the Brand estate, 6/27/1933, and in turn sold to Green. Thanks to Saul Teichman and Wayne Burt for furnishing the latest pedigree.

Heritage Auctions
The Gang at Heritage Auctions writes:

Happy 106th Birthday to you, Eric P. Newman

Thank you for all you have done for numismatics over these last eight decades. Thank you for your peerless research, relentless seeking and sharing of knowledge, and steadfast loyalty to the truth no matter the cost. Thank you for being a role model, mentor and friend to so many. Thank you for forming and preserving one of the most impressive numismatic cabinets of all time, and for making those treasures available to a new generation of collectors. And thank you for your generosity in establishing the Newman Numismatic Portal (nnp.wustl.edu), which will benefit our wonderful hobby for centuries to come.

From Mark Borckardt, Jim Halperin, Steve Ivy, and your many other friends and admirers at Heritage Auctions.

John Feigenbaum
John Feigenbaum writes:

Happy Birthday 106th Dear Eric,

Despite a lifetime spent in numismatics by both of us, I did not have the good fortune to meet you until 2014 – at our respective ages of 45 and 103! It was my good fortune because your generosity of knowledge, spirit and philanthropy have been the backbone of one of the most rewarding aspects of my numismatic career: the Newman Numismatic Portal. This amazing resource will empower future collectors and researchers.

On a personal note, our relationship has extended to my mother Lynn and son Benjamin (now a student at Washington University!), who both send their wishes for a happy and healthy 107th year on this planet. We are all much richer for time spent with you and your lovely wife Evelyn, of blessed memory.

Sincerely, John… with love from the entire Feigenbaum family

Evelyn and Eric Newman
Evelyn and Eric Newman, with Lynn Feigenbaum, center

John Feigenbaum and Eric Newman
John Feigenbaum and Eric Newman

Ray Williams
Ray Williams of Trenton, NJ writes:

Happy Birthday Eric!

Congratulations on 106 years! Thank you for many decades of sharing your hobby passion with the numismatic community. You have directly or indirectly made a positive influence on millions of collectors through your research and publications. I am just one of them. I look forward to your current research being published.

Kellen Hoard
Kellen Hoard writes:

Dear Mr. Newman,

You are one of my role models. There is no doubt about that. Your promotion of the scholarly field of numismatics really connects with me; as a kid in a gifted program at my school, I often focus on the intellectual side of things. When you responded to a letter of mine last year, this helped me regain my interest in the hobby as a whole, and made me somewhat of a celebrity within my coin club. I think we all have something to learn from you and your kind, intelligent, benevolent actions.

So, to thank you for everything you have done for me (whether you knew it or not), I am forming the "Thanks to Eric Newman Group". Many numismatists owe many things to you. So, if you are one of these collectors who has been influenced by Mr. Newman, contact me and we can have a conversation about numismatics. It can be anything related to numismatics, any piece of advice for me, etc. I want to learn about the hobby I love from other knowledgeable collectors, and I believe this continues the legacy of learning that Eric Newman has promoted for decades. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."

I'll be happy to connect readers to Kellen via email. I can always be reached via whomren@gmail.com -Editor

W. David Perkins

Green-Newman 1796 quarter obverse Green-Newman 1796 quarter reverse

This beautiful Mint State 1798 B-31, BB-115 Silver Dollar was not part of Heritage Auctions sale of the Eric P. Newman Collection. Photo courtesy of W. David Perkins and Rory Rea.

W. David Perkins of Centennial, CO writes:

I’d like to add my, “Happy 106th Birthday Eric!” to the others in tonight’s issue of The E-Sylum.

If I recall correctly, I first started corresponding with Eric Newman in the second half of 1995. One of my long term research projects for the Early U.S. Silver Dollars 1794-1804 has been the Col. E.H.R. Green Collection of early dollars. I had been keeping a spreadsheet of every early dollar die marriage and coin I came across with the Col. Green pedigree. I think I had over 125 different early dollars recorded at this time.

In 1993, Q. David Bowers published his Silver Dollars and Trade Dollars of the United States A Complete Encyclopedia. The early dollars 1794 to 1804 were in Volume I of this large two volume set. As only a researcher might do, I went about “plate matching” all of the plate coins and what Bowers called “Notable Specimens” in this book to auction catalogs and other appearances of these coins to develop the pedigrees and learn more about the relative rarity of each die marriage. This amounted to over 1,000 coins that I had to plate match. Luckily the ANA Library was only an hour away... As of mid-1995, I was down to only 13 plate coins that I could not identify.

I then wrote Eric Newman asking questions about the Col. Green Collection, and also asked him if any of the plate coins in the Bowers book might be in his collection. His answer was something to the effect, “you’re the expert, you tell me!” I guess that I was being “screened (?).” I replied with a detailed one page summary of the coins I thought were his, might be his, etc. I also sent him my listing of the Col. Green Collection to date. I was “in.”

When I think of Eric Newman, one overriding memory is the two visits I had to St. Louis and the Newman museum to view and study the early dollars from his collection, and later the early dollars again along with his collection of the early U.S. Quarter Dollars 1796-1838 (around 2007).

When I first saw the Newman early dollar collection, the collection was stored in three brown Wayte Raymond coin boards and had likely not seen the light of day in decades. Each of the early dollars in his collection had been hand-picked from multiple examples of each date (including his 1794 Dollar) back in the 1940s! This was a “Wow” moment for me, for sure and I have never forgotten this experience.

I was able to view and study these dollars again in December 2007, along with Newman’s early quarters. I had set up a three day visit to photograph all of Newman’s early dollars and quarters. Rory Rea was doing research for his book on early quarters and wanted to study and photograph the Newman Collection quarters. I wanted to get photographs of the Newman-Col. Green Dollars, which Rory agreed to take.

Green-Newman 1796 quarter
A stunningly beautiful 1796 quarter from the Eric Newman-Col. Green Collection, photographed by Rory Rea (top left standing at the camera and with Eric Newman on his right (left facing), and me in the top right, feeding coins to Rory and making notes.

On our visit, we carefully took out each coin from the holder, photographed it, and put it back in the holder. This was done over two days. A highlight of the quarter collection is that many of the Newman-Col. Green quarters turned out to be from the “long lost” A.W. Browning Collection, and were plate coins in the Browning book on early quarters! Rory and I made this discovery the first night when back in the hotel, comparing digital photos taken that day on Rory’s camera with plates from a special edition of the Browning book. This pleased Eric to learn, but did not surprise him. There is a special edition of the Early Quarter Dollars of the United States Mint 1796-1838 (by Rory Rea, Brad Karoleff, Glenn Peterson, and John Kovach Jr.) with photographic plates taken by Rory on our visit. This special edition, leather bound book sold out quickly. Eric Newman was presented a complimentary copy of this special edition for his library.

Eric, thanks for the memories, Happy Birthday again, and thanks for the new Newman Numismatic Portal and its contents.

The Rittenhouse Society
The Rittenhouse Society writes:

Congratulations on your 106th Birthday from all your friends in the Rittenhouse Society. You’ve been aboard for 56 years now!

Thanks, everyone. For my part I will add my thanks to Eric for his heartfelt generosity over the years. One instance I'll never forget is when I asked Eric at an Early American Coppers convention in St. Louis if there was any chance I could see his numismatic library. Not only did he assent to my bold request, he gave me, John Burns and Charlie Davis a personal tour and took us for ice cream afterwards.

Eric has also been a longtime fan of The E-Sylum and I'm grateful today to be a part of the team helping to build the Newman Numismatic Portal, a magnificent gift to the numismatic community. Thanks, Eric, and Happy 106th!

Birthday greetings may also be sent to ericnumis@aol.com or

Eric P. Newman
P.O. Box 50376
St Louis, MO 63105

-Editor

Eric P. Newman 100 years medal
Medal for Eric P. Newman at 100
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