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NNP Blog

Sep 26 2021

Vernon Sheldon on the 1913 Liberty Nickel

Few collectors have time during a busy coin convention to take notes on the recollections of the day. Dealers have even less, and most are just happy to keep their accounting and inventory records up to date with the day’s trading. Eric Newman was an exception, recording his recollections of a discussion with Vernon Sheldon at the 1961 ANA convention in Atlanta. To set the scene, this memo was written the evening before Newman delivered one of the most anticipated speeches in ANA convention history, on a completely unrelated subject – the 1804 dollar. Newman and Ken Bressett’s work was groundbreaking, and much of what is considered common knowledge today was first revealed during this presentation. But Newman was ever in information collecting mode, as demonstrated by his notes from the Sheldon conversation.

Vernon Sheldon (1901-1982) served as general secretary of the ANA form 1938-1944, and as president from 1949-1951. The first Farran Zerbe award, in 1951, went to Sheldon. His wife, Marcella Beck, had been a secretary to ANA president (1945-1947)  V. Leon Belt. Newman spoke with Sheldon on August 16, 1961 and later wrote the following, in part:

“Sheldon saw case with 1913 Liberty Head nickels in 1920 at A.N.A. Convention in Chicago. Says Samuel Brown was not ANA member and was a mint employee – a janitor, this Vernon learned from Zerbe…[Alden Scott] Boyer [Chicago Coin Club founder and ANA general secretary] kept 1913 nickels in his safe deposit for over a year after the Chicago ANA convention & the ads [soliciting 1913 Liberty nickels] were to find out if there were any more outstanding…Vernon heard Brown say that showing of 1913 nickels in Chicago was off the record. Brown teased Boyer about buying them but would never offer them for sale.” 

Newman’s memoranda on the 1913 Liberty nickels include other tidbits, such as Newman’s discussion with Samuel Brown’s daughter in 1962. While Newman never uncovered the precise details surrounding their origins, his records add additional color to this most famous of American numismatic issues.

Link to Eric Newman memoranda on the 1913 Liberty nickel: https://archive.org/details/epn8921-rf61-1913nickelmemoranda/page/n7/mode/2up 
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