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NNP Blog

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: https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/archivedetail/515202
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