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    Oct 14 2018

    Seaby’s Coin and Medal Bulletin on Newman Portal

    With the kind permission of Michael Gasvoda and Victor England of the Classical Numismatic Group (CNG), Seaby’s Coin and Medal Bulletin has been added to Newman Portal. A house organ of the first rank, Seaby’s contained useful articles on British and ancient numismatics, news updates, society announcements, and, naturally, a monthly list of items for sale. Published in London (readers were advised to use the Oxford Circus underground station), Seaby’s was focused on English collectors, but occasionally featured important American content. R. W. Julian’s articles in the October and November 1962 issues, for example, established the English (Birmingham) origin of the 1791 Washington cents. Seaby’s was acquired by the Classical Numismatic Group in 1991, which continues operations today, specializing in Greek, Roman, and British coins.

    Link to Seaby’s Coin and Medal Bulletin on Newman Portal:
    Link to Classical Numismatic Group:
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    Oct 07 2018

    Newman Portal User Survey

    Newman Portal invites responses to its first user survey. This survey consists of a few multiple choice questions and allows freeform comment input at the conclusion. Survey results will help guide the future direction of Newman Portal. Feel free to comment on the good, the bad, and the ugly – all input will be carefully considered.

    Link to Newman Portal User Survey:
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    Oct 05 2018

    Heritage Auctions Predecessor Firms on NNP

    Newman Portal has recently added the auction sale catalogs of the Heritage Auctions predecessor firms, New England Rare Coin Auctions and Steve Ivy Numismatic Auctions. Martin Gengerke’s American Numismatic Auctions lists 29 sales for New England between 1975 and 1982, and 53 for Steve Ivy between 1972 and 1983. The earlier New England catalogs evoke the classic Stack’s catalog layout, and include numerous closeups demonstrating variety features, a distinctive feature at this time. Later catalogs begin to feature color plates that are still useful for pedigree purposes. The Steve Ivy catalogs are virtually identical to the (later) Heritage catalogs and clearly were prepared by the same team. These include color plates from the beginning (1976), not an inexpensive proposition at the time, and the very first catalog notes the use of “full color transparencies and four color printing.” Newman Portal acknowledges Jim Halperin and Steve Ivy for extending permission to scan these sale catalogs.

    Link to New England Rare Coin Auctions:
    Link to Steve Ivy Numismatic Auctions:
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    Sep 13 2018

    American Numismatic Society (ANS) Slide Series

    Coincident with the Coinage of the Americas Conference (COAC) events held at the ANS in the 1980s and 1990s, the ANS produced a number of boxed sets that contained color slides along with pamphlets incorporating introductory material and slide descriptions. The material illustrated a number of United States coin series and, in the era of the slide projector, was ideal for meeting presentation purposes.  Each set of slides and accompanying pamphlet illustrate and describe the major types and design evolution within an American series. Newman Portal has digitized the slides and pamphlets for four of these, including America’s Copper Coinage 1783-1857 (1984), Massachusetts Silver Coinage (1994), Die Varieties of the 1794 Large Cent (1984), and America’s Federal Gold Coinage 1795-1933 (1989).  Newman Portal acknowledges the ANS for permission to digitize this material.  Can E-Sylum readers report the existence of any other sets?

    Link to Massachusetts Silver Coinage on Newman Portal:
    Link to Die Varieties of the 1794 Large Cent:
    Link to America’s Copper Coinage:
    Link to America’s Federal Gold Coinage:

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    Sep 13 2018

    Inde Et Lib Fixed Price Lists on Newman Portal

    Kevin Vinton, dealer in colonial and early U.S. coins, has contributed a number of fixed price lists to Newman Portal. The Sun Rays Collection, Part 1 is one recent offering, featuring a notable collection of Fugio cents. Archived on Newman Portal, specialists in the series now have an additional resource for pedigree and price research. Included in this list was a plate coin from Eric P. Newman’s “Varieties of the Fugio Cent,” published in Wayte Raymond’s Coin Collector’s Journal (January-February 1949). Newman’s work identified 25 obverse dies (dated 1787) and 32 reverse dies and represented the first comprehensive die variety analysis of the series. This plate example, Newman 9-P, comes with a rich pedigree including Elder, Ryder, Boyd, and Ford. F.C.C. Boyd loaned many Fugio cents to Newman for study and it is virtually certain this coin was among them.

    Link to Sun Rays Collection fixed price list:
    Link to Inde Et Lib fixed price lists on Newman Portal:
    Link to Eric P. Newman’s “Varieties of the Fugio Cent”:

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    Sep 08 2018

    U.S. Mint General Correspondence Scanning Continues

    Several years ago, Bob Julian directed the scanning of the U.S Mint general correspondence files (record group 104, entry 1) at the National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) in Philadelphia. Operating under a grant from the Central States Numismatic Society (CSNS), Julian coordinated the delivery of the first 45 boxes of this series, covering the years 1792-1857. Comprising over 20,000 pages, this material allows researchers to go directly to the source rather than having to travel to remote locations to study these original working documents from the U.S. Mint. The Newman Portal is extending this work and has added volumes into the 1860s. John Graffeo, who previously worked in the library of the American Numismatic Society, is continuing the scanning effort in Philadelphia. 

    In randomly browsing one of the recently-scanned correspondence volumes, I chanced upon an 1860 letter from William Henry Trescot (Assistant Secretary of State) to U.S. Mint Director James Ross Snowden. The letter orders the striking of a gold model for Frederick S. Rose, a Royal Navy surgeon, acknowledging his efforts in treating an outbreak of yellow fever on the USS Susquehanna while in Jamaica. So, was the medal actually struck? Indeed it was, and a quick check of the Newman Portal finds the medal in the collection of Alan Weinberg. Weinberg notes that this was the first congressional gold medal awarded to a recipient outside the U.S. – a signal honor. The correspondence reads as follows:

    “Congress having noted a medal to be presented to Mr. Frederick S. Rose, Assistant Surgeon, Royal Navy, for kind and humane treatment of the officials of the U.S. Ship Susquehannah, at Kingston Ja[maica] I will thank you to have a gold medal struck for that purpose. The obverse may be struck from the die of the Indian Medal {Julian IP-36], which was sent to you to prepare the Japanese medals from. The reverse of the latter medal would answer, were it not for the lettering thereon. If they could be taken off that die might be used. Otherwise the selection of the reverse will be left to your discretion.”

    Link to U.S. Mint general correspondence group on Newman Portal:
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    Aug 31 2018

    Coin World Available on Newman Portal for Search-Only Access

    The weekly messenger of the numismatic trade since 1960, Coin World represents a substantial store of numismatic information that is often lost to today’s researchers, who have no way of searching or accessing old issues. Complete runs of the periodical are few and far between, as the space required to store over 3,000 issues is considerable. Over the last year, Newman Portal has been scanning Coin World at various locations, and now announces the completion of the project. 

    Although not available for full view, this content can be searched by Newman Portal users. To search Coin World on Newman Portal, use the advanced search page and enter “periodical” as the content type and “Coin World” as the title. An NNP user this week located an extensive article on a numismatic theft from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in the early 1970s, which was discoverable in no other way. Members of the American Numismatic Society (ANS) may acquire copies of specific articles through ANS librarian David Hill.

    Newman Portal acknowledges the ANS, which shared in the cost of digitization, and Beth Deisher and Ute Wartenberg Kagan for their support. Rick Amos at Amos Media provided the Coin World reference set from 1960-2005, while David Sundman of Littleton Coin loaned his run of Coin World from 2006-2017.

    Link to advanced search page on Newman Portal:
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    Aug 20 2018

    Early U.S. Mint Research Sponsored by Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society

    At the John Reich Collectors Society meeting held August 15 at the ANA convention in Philadelphia, researchers David Finkelstein and Chris Pilliod presented preliminary results on composition testing of United States 1794 and 1795 coinage. At issue was the question of whether David Rittenhouse, Mint Director, sanctioned the manufacture of silver coinage outside the legal standard. The Mint Act of 1792 mandated an 89.24% standard, but Albion Cox, the melter and refiner, recommended a 90% standard, as coinage with a higher proportion of copper tended to turn black. Interestingly, the annual assay tests of 1795 and 1796 (for coinage for 1794 and 1795, respectively) are unrecorded in the archives. 

    Finkelstein and Pilliod noted the shortcomings of XRF (X-ray fluorescence) testing, which supplies data that is only “skin deep” – about ten microns below the surface. Instead, they arranged for ICP-AES (inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy) testing of cut coinage samples. Quoting from Wikipedia, ICP-AES “is an analytical technique used for the detection of chemical elements. It is a type of emission spectroscopy that uses the inductively coupled plasma to produce excited atoms and ions that emit electromagnetic radiation at wavelengths characteristic of a particular element. It is a flame technique with a flame temperature in a range from 6000 to 10000 K. The intensity of this emission is indicative of the concentration of the element within the sample.”

    Pilliod and Finkelstein tested eight silver pieces (one 1794 half dollar and seven 1795 half dollars). Due to the value of the coins, low grade and problem pieces were selected for destructive testing. The 1794 was particularly worn, what Sheldon would have called “basal state,” and was donated by the Terry Brand estate, which recently sold a large group of 1794 half dollars through Heritage Auctions. The Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society (EPNNES) sponsored the acquisition of other coins. Each piece was sliced into three sections and polished, resulting in small mirrorlike fragments that were then subjected to ICP-AES. Complete statistical analysis is not complete, but preliminary results suggest that, with a high degree of confidence, 1795 silver coinage was indeed struck to a higher standard than that required by law. Chris Pilliod and David Finkelstein will publish full results in due course, and we look forward to studying the complete findings. Mint Director David Rittenhouse was a careful, precise, and rigorous scientist, and, and David Finkelstein likes to say, “there are no coincidences” in numismatic research. 
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    Aug 11 2018

    19th Century Records of the National Numismatic Collection

    Newman Portal users Saul Teichman and Roger Burdette recently contributed a pair of documents to Newman Portal that provide information on the U.S. Mint Cabinet (today the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian) from the 19th century. Both originate from material in the National Archives & Records Administration (NARA). Thanks to the efforts of Bob Julian, John Graffeo, Roger Burdette, Craig Sholley, and others, the Newman Portal currently contains over 200,000 pages of material scanned at various NARA facilities, including Philadelphia, College Park (MD), and Denver.

    The document “Collection of United States and Foregin Coins in the Mint Cabinet at Philadelphia” (from NARA record group 104, entry 160) is a handwritten record, “prepared by the Curators of the Cabinet” in 1869.  Interestingly, the catalog provides numismatic valuations of each piece, stating “The…value is an average of two principal and recent sales – the Seavey and Liliendahl collections at auction; with occasional reference to the Haines and Mickley sales.” The curators were thus somewhat familiar with the commercial conditions of the day. Two 1804 dollars are listed (a third was added to the collection later), valued at $500 and $100. The entire collection of several thousand pieces is appraised at “near $20,000.” Needless to say today’s statistics are substantially increased, on the order of a million pieces and a valuation of a  billion dollars.

    A second document, from 1887, represents correspondence from Philadelphia Mint Superintendent Daniel M. Fox to U.S. Mint Director James P. Kimball (NARA record group 104, entry 229). Fox writes to Kimball, transmitting a list of U.S. pattern coins from 1794 to date. Although not explicitly stated, this likely represents an inventory of the Mint Cabinet at the time. Fox was clearly aware the list was not comprehensive, stating that he identified 341 pieces, while the Robert Coulton Davis list (published about the same time in Coin Collector’s Journal) listed 479 examples. Today, all of this information is available with a quick glance at Whitman’s United States Pattern Coins, ably championed by Q. David Bowers and Saul Teichman. Numismatics builds on itself, and today’s knowledge is built on these early sources, which represented the best information available at the time.

    Link to “Collection of United States and Foregin Coins in the Mint Cabinet at Philadeplhia” (1869) on Newman Portal:
    Link to 1887 listing of U.S. pattern coinage on Newman Portal:
    Link to NARA materials on Newman Portal:

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    Aug 02 2018

    American Numismatic Society announces gift from Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society

    ANS Press Release (July 30) For over sixty years the American Numismatic Society (ANS) has offered an intense eight week long summer course in numismatics to select graduate students. Always interested in numismatic education, Eric P. Newman’s generous lifetime endowment of the ANS’s Summer Seminar has allowed the ANS to continue to train new generations of numismatists. Following Mr. Newman’s passing in November 2017 at 106 years of age, the ANS received word that per his request the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society was donating an additional $50,000 to the Seminar’s endowment fund to be used to enhance the stipend of the Visiting Scholar, always a renowned numismatic scholar invited to assist in teaching the Seminar.

    To further acknowledge Mr. Newman’s contributions to the ANS’s premiere educational program, the ANS has renamed the Scholar’s title in his honor. The first Eric P. Newman Visiting Scholar is Prof. Mariangela Puglisi of the University of Messina in Sicily, who is also the first recipient of the Newman Visiting Scholar medal. The presentation of the medal to Prof. Puglisi took place during a special ceremony at the ANS on July 27, 2018.   Executive Director Ute Wartenberg remarked, “We are so grateful to Eric’s children, Andy Newman and Linda N. Schapiro, for their continued generosity for the Summer Seminar and numismatics in general.”   

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