Skip to content

NNP Blog

322 records found.

    Page 1 of 33
    Jun 12 2021

    U.S. Mint Strikes Bolivian Coins

    An 1883 letter from Chief of the Secret Service, James J. Brooks, to Superintendent of the Mint, A. Loudon Snowden, mentions government “operatives” and “inquiries set afoot.” Even though it sounds like an excerpt from a Sherlock Holmes novel, this National Archives correspondence, recently transcribed by the Newman Portal, discusses the possibility of the U.S. Mint striking coins for the country of Bolivia. The Mint was authorized to produce coins for foreign countries as specified by an Act of Congress approved on January 29, 1874. However, the correspondence raises questions about the authenticity of Bolivia’s petition and Brooks requests of Snowden that “no action be taken…as to the preparation of dies for the coining of Bolivian money.”

    Sixty years later, the outcome was much different when Bolivia was one of more than 20 countries for which the United States produced coins during World War II. Due to the global economic challenges brought on by this War, many countries were unable to make their own coins and the United States helped them maintain their monetary systems. During the War, these foreign coins were produced at cost and did not yield any profit for the Mint. Between July 1, 1942 and June 30, 1944, they produced 30 million Bolivian coins, evenly divided among the denominations of 10, 20, and 50 centavos.

    Link to 3 pieces of correspondence regarding Bolivian coins:
    Link to the Mint Report for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 1943:
    Link to the Mint Report for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 1944:

    Read more
    Jun 05 2021

    Mel Wacks Updates Handbook of Biblical Numismatics

    Mel Wacks has updated his Handbook of Biblical Numismatics, which is now available on Newman Portal. Lianna Spurrier supplied graphics and layout work under sponsorship of Newman Portal. 

    Abraham Sofaer contributed an overview that is featured on the back cover: “This Handbook is just what it sets out to be, and what is needed in the field of Jewish Coinage. Mel Wacks has contributed mightily to this field. And this Handbook - replacing his first version with an entirely new revision - is among his most important gifts. Somehow, Mel has managed to provide a work that is succinct without being superficial; that summarizes all the important material rather than limiting coverage through exclusion; and that simplifies complicated issues without compromising their difficulties.

    In pulling off this achievement, Mel has provided a practical, take-along, guide. Every important period is covered, and every significant coin type illustrated. Rather than attempting to supersede other types of books, Mel gives us all - collectors, scholars, and intelligent observers alike - something to use anywhere to identify coin types and context, read inscriptions, and even have some idea of value. Even a novice will be able quickly to learn and appreciate this aspect of Jewish history, and the history of other cultures with whom the Jewish People have interacted. The Handbook is thus a must have for the tutored and beginner alike.”

    Link to Handbook of Biblical Numismatics on Newman Portal:
    Read more
    Jun 03 2021

    Defective Nickels Threaten Small Change

    Even though we’re moving towards a cashless society, there are times when we need to grab a few coins to complete a transaction.  However, this task was not always straightforward during the late 1800s.  According to correspondence from the National Archives, recently transcribed by the Newman Portal, brittle five-cent nickels (commonly referred to today as Liberty Head Nickels) were returned to the Mint from banks in various states, including Iowa, Florida, Kentucky, Texas, New Jersey and Massachusetts.  Their composition was 25% nickel and 75% copper and the main complaint was that these coins were chipping and breaking, even when very little pressure was applied, and could not be used in commerce.

    The institutions that returned these flawed five-cent nickels to the Mint were quite candid with their assessment of the coins in their correspondence.  For example, the Assistant Cashier of The Citizens Bank of Mount Ayr, Iowa told the Mint that he “would have considered them counterfeit if we had not gotten them directly from you.” Another recipient of the compromised nickels bluntly stated, “tis very evident that if the Nickel will not stand transportation from the Mint to this city [Jacksonville, FL], it will certainly not be equal to the rough usage it will receive from the general public.”  
    According to this contemporary correspondence, the issue was reported at various times from late 1887 until early 1896. A Mint investigation determined that they were not at fault for the brittle five-cent nickels, but rather that their suppliers provided them with blanks that had not been properly annealed. Even though they were not responsible for the subpar condition of these coins, the Mint promptly sent replacement pieces to those who returned them. 

    Link to Mount Ayr, IA return letter:

    Link to Jacksonville, FL return letter:

    Link to correspondence regarding brittle five-cent Nickels:
    Read more
    Jun 02 2021

    Garrett Ziss Joins Newman Portal as Summer Intern

    Garrett Ziss, American Numismatic Association Young Numismatist of the Year for 2020, will be working for the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society (EPNNES) as a summer intern for 2021. Ziss is well-known in numismatic circles and has contributed original research to the John Reich Journal and other publications. Garrett has conducted oral history interviews for the John Reich Collectors Society and Liberty Seated Collectors Club, and has delivered presentations at many events including the recent Newman Numismatic Portal Symposium. Ziss will be involved in a number of Newman Portal tasks, including transcriptions of numismatic content drawn from the National Archives and historic newspaper articles.

    Link to Garrett Ziss presentation, “From the War of 1812 to the Civil War: A Chronology of a Numismatic Marriage,” from the March 2021 Newman Numismatic Portal Symposium:
    Read more
    May 18 2021

    Collector Seeks 1887 $3 Proof Gold

    Set completion is a timeless urge among collectors, as demonstrated by an 1888 letter to the U.S. Mint, recently digitized and transcribed by Newman Portal. The 1888 inquiry to Daniel Fox, Superintendent of the Philadelphia Mint, asks if the 1887 $3 proof gold piece is available, the collection “being one short for ’87.” The 1887 $3 proof is one of the more curious pieces in the U.S. proof gold series. John Dannreuther’s recently published work on U.S. proof gold describes no less than four variants, all struck from the same dies: (1) normal die alignment, (2) medal alignment, (3) normal die alignment struck over medal alignment, and (4) dies rotated with 160 degrees clockwise rotation. An example of (3), vividly depicting the overstrike, is illustrated here courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

    Link to request for 1887 $3 proof gold piece:

    Read more
    May 14 2021

    John Frost Speaks on 20-Cent Pieces

    Recently added to Newman Portal is a video of the Liberty Seated Collectors Club (LSCC) Zoom meeting held May 11. Most clubs are seeing increased meeting attendance with virtual formats, and the LSCC is no exception, drawing over fifty attendees to this meeting. With one-click recording, the preservation of this content is simple, and LSCC has elected to share meeting videos externally. This event featured John Frost speaking on 20-cent pieces, all the way from the related legislation to the cataloging and collectability of interesting varieties. Frost, and Lane Brunner, are the authors of the standard work on the series, Double Dimes: The United States Twenty-cent Piece. Their research is freely available on their website, and hardcopies are also offered for sale.

    Link to Liberty Seated Collectors Club video content on Newman Portal:
    Link to John Frost and Lane Brunner's Double Dimes website:
    Read more
    May 06 2021

    John S. Dye and His Counterfeit Detectors

    Recently published on Newman Portal is Patrick Parkinson’s work John S. Dye and His Counterfeit Detectors. This study documents the history of John S. Dye’s counterfeit detectors, a task made difficult by the ephemeral nature of such publications. Because new counterfeits and new genuine bank notes were constantly being circulated, counterfeit detectors quickly became outdated and were discarded, leaving very few surviving copies. This book fills in the gaps, largely through advertisements and articles in digital databases of contemporary newspapers. Parkinson’s work is meticulous and will be welcome by anyone interested in 19th century counterfeit detectors. 

    Lianna Spurrier performed book design, graphics, and layout of Parkinson’s work under sponsorship of Newman Portal. The result is an elegant presentation, with the visual appeal matched only by the content. Newman Portal welcomes inquiries by prospective authors in need of the same services, and currently has similar projects in production, which will be announced in due course.

    Link to John S. Dye and His Counterfeit Detectors on Newman Portal:
    Read more
    Apr 29 2021

    Early Paper Money of America on Newman Portal

    We continue to update the NNP Edition of Eric Newman’s Early Paper Money of America. This online version incorporates additional images from the Newman paper money sales, in addition to edits contributed by collectors and researchers. Ray Williams, David Gladfelter, and others have contributed to this ongoing effort.

    One of the most iconic notes in this series is the marbled edge $20 from the Continental currency issue of May 10, 1775. This anti-counterfeiting measure is visually stunning, so much so that it was selected for the front cover of the fifth edition of Early Paper Money of America. The legislation for the May 10 issue, a resolution of the Continental Congress on June 22, 1775, contains an allusion to slavery: “That the propotion or quota of each colony be determined according to the number of inhabitants of all ages, including negroes and mulattos, in each colony.” This stands in opposition to the first article of the Constitution as ratified in 1788, which counted slaves at a rate of 3/5 for the purposes of determining the makeup of the House of Representatives. A broadside of the June 22, 1775 resolution is known (Evans Early American Imprints 42963) and is represented in a number of institutional collections. Owners of the $20 marbled edge notes may wish to keep an eye out for this compelling “go with” item.

    Link to Early Paper Money of America on Newman Portal:

    Read more
    Apr 26 2021

    Condition Census Pitt Farthing Discovered in UK

    A Newman Numismatic Portal ( user from the UK recently reported the discovery of a high-grade Pitt farthing, which researcher Chris McDowell ranks as the fourth finest known. Listed among colonial issues in the Guide Book of United States Coins, the Pitt tokens commemorate William Pitt’s efforts to repeal the 1765 Stamp Tax. The obverse legends read THE RESTORER OF COMMERCE 1766 / NO STAMPS and AMERICA, while on the reverse THANKS TO THE FRIENDS OF LIBERTY AND TRADE encircles the border. Little is known of their origin, which was more likely in Europe than America. 

    This piece was discovered by a UK dealer, Martin Kent, who operates a coin store in Lincolnshire. Kent located McDowell’s Pitt farthing census, published on Newman Portal, and in turn was connected by Len Augsburger, Newman Portal Project Coordinator, to McDowell. McDowell tells the story of the discovery in his updated census. 

    “Mr. Kent owns a small coin shop in Alford Lincolnshire, England. His store was closed because of COVID-19 for many months, and he reports that the first week his business was back open in April 2021, a ‘young chap’ brought this spectacular specimen into the store along with a grouping of modern British coins left to him by his grandfather. The hair detail is only matched or surpassed by the three Pitt farthings ahead of it on this census. All ten portholes are visible and it is well-struck with hard surfaces. There is an area above the foremast of the ship on the reverse that needs closer examination as it could be post-strike damage, but it is just as likely to have been present on the flan pre-strike as it has an appearance not unlike that seen on many other Pitt farthings. This specimen could not be observed in-hand because of Covid-19 and other restrictions; however, based on the weight, diameter and known details that have only been observed on authentic specimens , this Pitt farthing is authentic. It is a stunning addition to this census. The fact that it was discovered in England like so many other Pitt farthings, may put the final nail in the coffin of the belief that they were originally produced in America.” 

    Link to McDowell's Condition Census of all Known Pitt Farthings:

    Read more
    Apr 18 2021

    Glendining Auction Sale Catalogs on Newman Portal

    Important American numismatic material frequently shows up in European sales, as demonstrated by a 1935 Glendining’s auction sale catalog. This sale included 262 lots of American items including a good variety of federal and colonial pieces. Four plates will support pedigree research of the frontline examples. Newman Portal previously scanned the Glendining’s catalog run from 1901-1923 and is now proceeding with the remainder of these UK sales.

    Thanks to John Millensted of Bonham’s (successor to Glendining) for granting permission to scan these catalogs, NNP supporter Eric Hodge for working with Glendining, ANS Librarian David Hill for coordination with Internet Archive, and Lara Jacobs of Internet Archive who performs scanning activities at the ANS library. 

    Link to Glendining’s 1935 Catalogue of Early American Coins:
    Link to Glendining’s auction sale catalogs on Newman Portal:
    Read more
      Page 1 of 33
      NNP is 100% non-profit and independent // Your feedback is essential and welcome. // Your feedback is essential and welcome.