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NNP Blog

Oct 22 2020

Friends in High Places

While the National Archives remains inaccessible to researchers, Newman Portal continues creating transcriptions of previously scanned material. Recently processed is an 1893 letter from the Superintendent of the U.S. Assay Office in New York City, Andrew Mason, requesting that Philadelphia Mint Superintendent Oliver C. Bosbyshell supply a medal of the Assay Commission for that year. The “ask” was made on behalf of collector Harlan P. Smith of New York City, whose cabinet was featured by the Chapman’s in a 1906 sale. The Assay Commission medals were struck in low quantities (not all mintages are recorded, but 40-50 pieces is typical) and do not appear on U.S. Mint fixed price lists of the era. Did Smith get his medal? Quite likely so. His 1906 auction sale catalog  included an extensive run of Assay Commission medals, including an 1893 silver example (lot 1664, AC-37) housed in a “morocco case.” Smith’s Assay Commission medals turned out to be a tough sell, with the Chapman’s buying-in most of the pieces, including the 1893 example at $2.60.

Link to U.S. Mint General Correspondence on Newman Portal:
Link to Chapman auction sale catalogs on Newman Portal:
Link to U.S. Mint fixed price lists on Newman Portal:
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