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The E-Sylum (5/19/2013)

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Tuesday evening was the May dinner meeting of my Northern Virginia numismatic social club Nummis Nova. Our host was Joe Levine and we met at an Italian restaurant named Piero's Corner. They had a nice separate area set aside for us. Most folks were already there when I arrived around 6:30. Seated around a big rectangular table were Tom Kays, Howard Daniel, Joe, Eric Schena, Gene Brandenberg, Dave Schenkman, Aaron Packard, Steve Bishop, Len Goldberg, Chris Neuzil, Roger Burdette. Only a couple seats were left. I sat next to Tom Kays and Wayne Herndon filled in between me and Roger. It was a full house.

I'd brought with me a few new copies of Fred Schwan's 2002 book on Military Payment Certificates and collected payment from Eric, Tom and Gene. Tom paid me with a stack of $2 bills which Gene promptly purchased from me. With that transaction out of the way I started reviewing the numismatic items being passed around the table.

Jon Radel had a work conflict and couldn't attend, but he'd given us a theme suggestion. He wrote:

We've not done "recycling", defined very broadly, in several years. I recall that resulting in a couple of very interesting items being shown around. If I were to be there, I could show everyone some of the odd things the Russians did to their 15 Kopek coins after they decided they were better used as telephone tokens.

Ford-b Ford-a


Tom Kays took photos of a few of the items being passed around. He writes:

Ford Motor Company World War I medal – National Foreign Trade Convention – Detroit, Made from (recycled bronze) of the USA Emergency Fleet, associated with the convention of 1927.

Bank of the Old Dominion at Rectortown, 1862 Five Dollar Note made from a recycled bank check. Neat!

Many more marvelous recycled coins were seen including coins with counterstamps (Mansion House, Vote the Land Free, Deanston Cotton Mill, Admit to the Model Artist’s, etc.), coins that were made into buttons and spoons, used as brine colorers, hallmark testers, admission tickets, and other forms of checks and money substitutes.

Chase Collection medal obverse Chase Collection medal reverse

Dave Schenkman had brought along a bag of tokens and medals for us to give to kids at the local coin shows. I spent some time looking through the bag after dinner and showed a few pieces to Tom Kays. There were some better pieces in here. One that caught my eye was a bronze medal picturing Salmon P. Chase. The reverse says the piece is "A TOKEN OF A VISIT TO THE CHASE NATIONAL BANK COLLECTION OF MONEYS OF THE WORLD". I hadn't seen this one before. I found an image of one on eBay.

Botee-a botee-b

Tom Kays adds:

In follow up to the topic of animals on coins, first goat tags and then “chickens” including the enigmatic Rooster counterstamps discussed in previous E-Sylums - Gene Brandenburg still asserts those rooster counterstamps are from pre-Civil War New York; here is a curious “medal with chicken hat” (No offense intended to Frenchmen):

Art-Nouveau Silvered-Bronze medal by Louis Botee, (1852 – 1941) Officer of the Legion of Honor in 1903 – Fecit: Circa 1905. Obverse: Bust of Gallia looking right to a shining sun, wearing a winged helmet crowned with laurel and rooster. Reverse: Engraved by Adolphe Rouet, a flying victory holding a crown above a cartouche with oak leaves. “Syndicat de la Boucherie de Rouen et de la Region” meaning “Trade Union of Rouen, France in Normandy and “Concours d’animaus gras du Dimanche de Rameaux” meaning “Contest of Fat Animals during the Sunday before Easter.” Edge: Triangle mark, 2” diameter. Do any E-Sylum readers know what this contest entails?

I hadn't gotten to my bank or I would have brought some of my counterstamped coins. Aaron Packard passed around a binder with several coins and his write-ups on their history. He kindly forwarded images of them, and here are some of my favorites.




Aaron writes:

As far as I'm aware, not much (if any at all) has been published in the past about the Model Artist Token. Rulau and Brunk merely allude to their origin and purpose.

Here's an excerpt from Aaron's great web page on the "Model Artist's" Theater.

Starting in the 1850s several entertainment ventures opened in New York which made tableaux vivants their primary bill. Tableaux vivants — the forerunner of burlesque — featured actors, mostly women, posing nude or semi-nude under the guise of replicating master artworks. Theatres such as the Temple of the Muses and The Wallhalla specialized in these types of “shows.” Given the predominantly conservative social-norms of the era, nary a better gimmick for enjoining eroticism with “culture” could have been invented.

Another name for tableaux vivants, ‘Model Artist’ shows put on the air of legitimacy by having “artists” re-enact semi-nude scenes found in classical paintings. Only but the most naive person couldn’t see through the contrivance. Marquee language often hinted to customers what to expect from the shows — and the customers certainly came. Indeed, the term “Model Artists” was simply code for voyeurism, while tableaux vivants was eroticism with a slightly tamer twist.

To read the complete article, see: The “Model Artist’s” Theatre and Its Token (

I didn't mingle as much as usual, but heard conversations about the Langbord 1933 Double eagles case and "what the heck is going on at ANA headquarters." Wayne Herndon reported on the Early American Coppers show in Ohio and attending his daughter's college graduation ceremony the same weekend. President Obama was the featured speaker at the Ohio State commencement. The "recycling" topic led to an unexpected discussion. I'll let Tom explain.

Tom Kays writes:

Several folks at my end of the table discussed recycling in a negative connotation whereby a lifetime collection of information, notes, and printed material obtained in numismatic research may be tossed out by heirs who don’t know or care what grandpa knew about his coin hobby. Some of us admitted that 40 years of images and databases were not properly backed-up and could be gone in a house fire.

That led to thinking about cloud storage and the need for offsite custodians of lifetime numismatic “e-collections” with orders to publish or make available to the public, any magnum opus that was near ready for release, if the author should lose it, one way or another. Some candidates for this service might include museum collections, image files of medals, tokens, Southeast Asian coins, dug coins, and who knows what all might be needing secure archiving and custodial direction someday.

As an example see Lou Jordan’s website where he shares colonial coin images and attributions from the Gore collection of Notre Dame. His is a grand example of a public service offered by numismatic academia of a collection that would otherwise be inaccessible to the casual inquirer.

Interesting topic. It's never too soon for researchers to find a home for their archives. This happens all too often in our hobby, and it would be a shame for a lifetime of work to be lost to future collectors. What do readers think?

Tom also brought a copy of a Hardy Boys book titled “The Melted Coins”. See an article later in this issue for more information. -Editor
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