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    Mar 23 2023

    Pete Smith Writes U.S. Mint Coin Bag Guide

    While most of us have seen a U.S. Mint coin bag here or there, no one has attempted a wider treatment of the subject, until now. Pete Smith’s The Incomplete Guide to United States Mint Coin Bags (92 pp.) represents the first best attempt to restore order to the chaos of cloth banks utilized by the various Mints. Using online sources, as well as his own experience in the bullion trading business, Smith identifies the major categories of bags and creates a framework for collectors and future researchers. 

    Bags surely existed in massive quantities but are infrequently seen today. Smith notes that 56,470 bags would have been required for the 1940-S cent coinage and by extension asks, “where are they now?” Today, the most prized bags are those used to transport gold or Carson City coinage, and nearly all bags identified date to the 20th century.

    Newman Portal has digitized some of the late 19th century Mint correspondence relating to coin bags. P. J. Kornder of Brooklyn complained to the Mint Director in 1891: “I would like to call your attention to the enclosed bag which I got from the Mechanics Bank Brooklyn with $10 in Pennies, it is the poorest bag I ever saw and so small that they cannot be properly tied. I spilled them all over the street in carrying. I send you this merely to draw your attention to them, perhaps they are being furnished inferior to the required kind &c.”

    Link to The Incomplete Guide to United States Mint Coin Bags on Newman Portal:
    Link to Mint bag correspondence, 1879-1895:[]=creator%3A%22u.s.+mint%22
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    Mar 19 2023

    New Orleans Mint Restoration

    “An idle derelict” in 1975, the New Orleans Mint at 400 Esplanade Avenue was donated by the United States to the Louisiana State Museum in 1966. Reconstruction completed in 1979, and today the space serves the Louisiana State Museum with a variety of rotating exhibits, including a tribute to the numismatic history of the museum. Recently scanned from the Newman papers is a contemporary, well-illustrated eight-page brochure detailing the reconstruction.

    The New Orleans Mint was designed in Greek Revival style by William Strickland, who was also the architect of the (second) Philadelphia Mint that opened in 1833. The New Orleans Mint struck its first coin in 1838 and its last in 1909, and the building served a variety of purposes prior to its reconstruction, including use as a prison. 

    Link to “Old Mint Restoration Now Complete”:
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    Mar 06 2023

    New York International Numismatic Convention Video on Newman Portal

    The New York Numismatic International Convention is a fixture on the annual coin calendar, featuring a robust array of auction sales, a vibrant bourse, and an engaging program of meetings and presentations. The American Numismatic Society annual Gala, held the same week, is the perfect “go with” event and highlights academic and organizational advancements over the past year.  

    Video from presentations delivered at the recent January NYINC are now available on Newman Portal. Speakers include John Kraljeivch, Doug Davis, Ursula Kampmann, Doug Mudd, Peter Tompa, David Vagi, Joel Iskowitz, and Their Royal Majesties Alanus I - Rex Bermaniae and Barbara Regina of the Royal House of Ususvir. NNP acknowledges Paul Russell, NYINC Chairman, for his assistance with this content, and Lianna Spurrier of Numismatic Marketing for providing video services.

    Link to New York International Numismatic Convention video on Newman Portal:
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    Feb 28 2023

    Canadian Numismatic Resources Site Announced

    The J. Douglas Ferguson Historical Research Foundation is pleased to announce the launch of a new website, a digital repository of Canadian numismatic sources. The website is aptly named Canadian Numismatic Resources – Ressources numismatique Canada: The CNR website is the first of its kind in Canada and promises to be the most complete resource of Canadian numismatic documents. While content is constantly being added, the new website already contains the equivalent of over 10,000 pages of sources consisting of a variety of material, including numismatic periodicals, coin club journals, numismatists’ catalogues, dealer price lists and auction catalogues, and government and archival records relevant to Canadian currency and numismatics. Most documents are out-of-print and free of copyright protection. Otherwise, permission has been granted on protected documents.

    The website is intended to be fully bilingual, although documents added to the site will be available in their original language only. Most of the documents are fully searchable having been scanned with high-quality photography and scanning equipment and enhanced with the OCR [Optical Character Recognition] feature (in the case of printed documents). Content on the website will continue to grow with the expectation of adding at least 20,000 pages of scanned documents every year. But as the website gains traction and support from users and contributors, the output could significantly expand.

    The committee overseeing the digitization project is soliciting members of the numismatic community to contribute to the expansion of the website by providing access to their libraries. Contributors can contact the webmaster of the website at for further information.
    Although access to the website is completely free to Internet users, the Ferguson Foundation is asking that users contribute to the website either by submitting original high-resolution scanned documents free of any copyright protection or, even more importantly, by making a donation to The J. Douglas Ferguson Historical Research Foundation through the CNR website.

    The J. Douglas Ferguson Historical Research Foundation is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and financially support the active research of Canadian numismatics. For further information about the Foundation, readers can visit

    To visit the website, see:

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    Feb 28 2023

    Rare Dakota Award Medal Surfaces

    A Newman Portal user forwarded images of a medal awarded at the Deadwood Fair by the Black Hills Fair Association. The example was awarded to our correspondent’s gr-gr-grandfather, Elisa Pauli, in 1908. The award inscription is crude and not as finely done as usually seen on eastern medals. The Alan Weinberg collection contains an unawarded example, of which Alan writes “White metal. I usually do not put white metal items in my collection, preferring only silver or gold. But this is a territorial Dakota medal, made of Black Hills tin, is extremely rare (I've seen only two), Gem Proof and in an original case of issue - just too much for me to ignore.” We found nothing related to the Deadwood Fair or the Black Hills Fair Association in the usual places; this was likely an agricultural and mechanical fair similar to other such events at the time. Perhaps E-Sylum readers might have additional information?

    Images: Deadwood Fair award medal issued to Elisa Pauli in 1908.

    Links to Weinberg example on NNP:

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    Feb 24 2023

    Thomas Jefferson’s Comitia Americana List Available on NNP

    Courtesy of Roger Burdette, we have added a 1787 Jefferson memorandum that details the Comitia Americana medal set. Located in the Jefferson papers at the Library of Congress, the document appears new to this writer; although a sharp-eyed E-Sylum reader may likely note otherwise. In any case, Jefferson’s Memorandum summarizes congressional resolutions for individual medals and describes the designs and mottos. Two medals from the Adams-Bentley list are unnoted, namely the Henry Lee and Diplomatic medals. The description for the FRANKLIN NATUS BOSTON medal indicates that COMITIA AMERICANA resides in the reverse exergue; on known examples it does not. Jefferson refers to the Libertas Americana as the “Declaration of Independence” medal and does not identify “Libertas Americana” as the obverse legend. Other discrepancies likely exist, and this document is worthy of further study.

    Link to Memorandum on Medals for George Washington on NNP:
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    Feb 20 2023

    The Trillion-Dollar Platinum Coin Sneaks Through

    In 1996, the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 104-208, which states in part “The Secretary may mint and issue bullion and proof platinum coins in accordance with such specifications, designs, varieties, quantities, denominations, and inscriptions as the Secretary, in the Secretary's discretion, may prescribe from time to time.” The inclusion of the single word “denomination” has given rise to all manner of speculation as to whether the Treasury department can legally strike a trillion-dollar coin. Congressional coin legislation is usually quite specific about denominations to be struck, and one can go all the way back to the Mint Act of 1792 on this point. Whether or not intended, the language of the 1996 statute leaves this question open. 

    Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has called the trillion-dollar coin a “gimmick” and noted that the Federal Reserve Bank would likely refuse the coin, should the Treasury attempt to deposit such a piece. For its part, the Mint continues to annually strike one-ounce platinum American Eagles, denominated as hundred-dollar coins.

    In addition to Public Law 104-208, Newman Portal has built a collection of over 300 congressional documents related to numismatics. It’s worth remembering that the Mint, and Bureau of Engraving and Printing, can act only in accordance with public law, and the related paper trail forms a useful research archive. NNP acknowledges Dan Hamelberg and Paul Hybert, both of whom have made extensive contributions to this collection. 

    We also wish to acknowledge Barbara Hofmann, Library Technical Specialist (Federal Documents) at Washington University in St. Louis. Washington University’s Olin Library is designated as a Federal Depository Library, a program initiated by Congress in 1813 to ensure public access to government documents. As such, Olin Library holds an extensive collection of government publications, which Barbara has helped us navigate since Newman Portal was launched in 2014. Barbara has been with Olin Library since 1969 (not a typo!) and we wish her well on her upcoming retirement. 

    Link to Public Law 104-208 on Newman Portal:
    Link to U.S. Congressional documents on Newman Portal:
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    Feb 13 2023

    George Washington Tributes

    William S. Baker (1825-1897) was a believer in the American hero George Washington and wrote three works that cataloged Washington memorials in the forms of engravings, medallic tributes, and character sketches. In Character Portraits of Washington Baker wrote “The character of Washington is a national possession…All Americans should study and venerate it.” Among numismatists, Baker’s Medallic Portraits of Washington (1885) is the best known and served as the standard collector’s guide for nearly a century. In recent years, the Washington medal series has been thoroughly reworked in Neil Musante’s masterpiece Medallic Washington (Spink, 2016). 

    Link to William S. Baker works on Newman Portal:

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    Feb 10 2023

    Daniel W. Valentine

    In honor of Valentine’s Day, one might recall the New Jersey collector Daniel W. Valentine (1863-1932). Valentine was a two-time president of the New York Numismatic Club (1918, 1920) and is best remembered for his work on half dime varieties, The United States Half Dimes, published by the American Numismatic Society in 1931 in the Numismatic Notes and Monographs series, no. 48. He also published Fractional Currency of the United States in 1924.

    Link to works by Daniel Valentine on Newman Portal:
    ANA Money Talks presentation by Jerry Fochtman on Valentine:
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    Jan 28 2023

    Stories from World War II Exhibit Images on Newman Portal

    In June, 2022 we mounted a World War II exhibit at Washington University’s Olin Library, Stories from World War II, focusing on the letters of Walter M. Goldschmidt, a German-born American who served under the Allies. Included in the exhibit was a selection of World War II concentration and internment camp money, loaned by Steve & Ray Feller, and a number of war bonds from the collection of Joe Boling. This material is now imaged and viewable on Newman Portal. Newman Portal acknowledges Steve & Ray Feller and Joe Boling for their contributions to this exhibit. 

    Link to World War II: Internment and Concentration Camp Money image collection on Newman Portal:
    Link to World War II: War Bonds image collection on Newman Portal:
    Link to “Washington University Stories from WWII” (E-Sylum, June 26, 2022):
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