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Jul 15 2023

A Pair of 1939 Radio Presentations

If someone talked about numismatics over the airwaves in 1939, what did they discuss? Remarkably, we can answer that question, at least in a couple cases. Recently located in the Eric P. Newman papers are scripts for two presentations delivered by Newman in 1939 over St. Louis radio station WIL (the call letters predated the standard K-format now used west of the Mississippi). The June 11, 1939 script provided an overview of colonial numismatics, while the August 13 presentation related to Newman’s recently acquired 1861 St. Louis $10 demand note. This note ultimately appeared in Newman VIII (Heritage Auctions, November 2017), lot 28315, where it sold for $168,000. 

The Newman biographical papers, now at the Missouri History Museum Library in St. Louis, fill in the gaps leading up to the August 13 presentation. Newman, almost certainly referring to this $10 demand note, wrote to his then fiancée Evelyn Edison on August 2, 1939, “Got 2 new Missouri banknotes which pleases me very much.” In further correspondence on August 4, Newman noted “I am going to make another radio talk on August 13 of the same kind I made before but shorter. So come home & help me write it.”

Link to Eric P. Newman 1939 radio presentations:
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