The Newsletter of Medal Collectors of America Volume 11 Number 8 September 2008 Board Members




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Letters to the Editor
Mr. Adams,

I am a professional numismatist and exonumia enthusiast. In reading your book Comitia Americana, I noticed that you and Anne Bentley dedicated a page to the "corded border" versions of the Libertas Americana medals (Betts-615). I have the same piece described in your book (image attached). This example also measures 49.3 mm and weighs 871 grains. It appears to be cast in silver and is certainly antique. Beyond that, I have no other information, hence this email to you.

You, and previously Michael Hodder, have put forth the possibility that the corded border medals were some sort of prototype employed to hide the die break at 7 o'clock on the obverse. Others have suggested that the corded border medals were cast from a genuine piece in a bezel. Do you have any additional insight into these pieces?
Thank you for your time.

 

Sincerely,


Dennis M. Tarrant

Mr. T,


Congratulations on your ownership of a fabulous piece! I doubt not that it is contemporary but I would be skeptical of the "bezel" theory because why then an uncorded reverse? In any event, the more important question, in my opinion, remains who did this work and why was it not adopted? Do you have any theories?

I will put your letter in The Advisory hoping to attract further comments. More on this subject in the next issue.


Best,
John Adams







Massachusetts Historical Society Numismatic Bibliography
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Here are my bibliographic lists from the ANA conference last week. I forgot to bring in the business cards I was given, but I'll catch up with those folks tonight.

Feel free to contact me with any questions and please pass this along to anyone you think might be interested.

Thanks again to the Numismatic Bibliomania Society for the warm reception--I enjoyed myself immensely! My JFK medal has pride of place on my coffee table.


Anne E. Bentley

Curator of Art

Massachusetts Historical Society

Anne - This is fabulous. If you are OK with it, I will publish availability in The Asylum.


Best,
John Adams

Dear John,

I am delighted to hear from you.  It is my understanding that the renovation of the LA County Museum’s medal galleries and installation will be ready in time for the August 09 date; it would be fascinating to be a “fly on the wall” as selected convention attendees stroll through.

I am aware of the MCA newsletter, thanks to Kahlil. As you may be aware from conversation with Jean Gibran, he was my oldest and closest friend, and is terribly missed.  In his memory and in honor of your visit, I invite you to a dinner party at our home at a convenient time during your visit.  I believe Jean Gibran is coming, and of course Mary Levkoff. We can accommodate comfortably 8-10 people (including ourselves).

As the date approaches, I am sure Mary will be in touch and will make all appropriate arrangements with you regarding the visit.  Let us stay in touch on the proceedings!
With all best wishes,
Stuart Denenberg

Hello All,

Please forgive me for e-mailing all of you but I was not sure of the appropriate one to email.

Back in the early 1980's I purchased a gold space coin from a dealer in Texas near my home in Austin. I have always been fascinated with the space program after watching some of the last Saturn 5 launches on TV in the classroom of my grade school.

A few years ago I came across several silver alloy medallions and one looked just like my Gold one. After the coins arrived I went and dug out my old coin and found it. Sure enough they are exactly a like with the exception of the material they are made of and the hallmark/mint marking. I deal in Military collectibles such as Distinguished Insignias of the AAF and I am familiar with this mint mark, it is for Balfour.  This particular marking of LGB started showing up on pins toward the end of WWII when they discontinued the use of the "Balfour" marking. This being said I am only familiar with and comment on the Military pins and there markings.

At the time I bought this medal the dealer had two of them but of different mission numbers so I bought the one I knew was the most famous, Apollo 11. For the last couple of years, off and on, I have been trying to find information on this medal. I found your web site and another discussing the making of these coins in "Pewter" and "Silver" only. My coin set seem to be made of an alloy more like as aluminum than pewter and I have never seen one made of silver.

Do any of you have any knowledge of this Gold version? I expect since it is not listed that they must have been for someone special? It is NOT for sale. I am just curious, sorry. I have attached photos of the front, back, and the marking (LGB10K). You are welcome to use these photos as you see fit. I look forward to hearing from any of you.
Regards,

Mark Dutton

Albuquerque, New Mexico

John:


The space medal by Balfour this gentleman has is one of a series of 13. They were not dies truck like typical medals are made. Instead they were die cast.

The 13 medals consisted of one Freedom, one Friendship, three Gemini, one Apollo 8, and seven, Apollo 11 thru 17. Balfour did not market the medals; instead they were sold by Neil Cooper, of International Numismatic Agency, New York City, who sold them in sets and singly beginning in 1972.

Die Casting is a very cheap way of making medals in a quick time. Molten metal is shot into a die cavity and rapidly cooled. The metal must have a low melting point. Zinc alloys have this low melting point and are widely used in die casting. This alloy is usually called white metal because of its color of the surface, and is this color after diecasting.

If you have medals in this series whose surface tests (or look) gold or silver they were plated. If your gold medal is marked "10kt" that is the composition of the gold plating. It still has a base metal of the zinc alloy. Since Balfour is a jewelry manufacturer it had the equipment on hand, including plating tanks for gold and silver plating, to do all this.

If you still believe your medal is solid gold, have a specific gravity test made. Solid 10kt gold would have to have a specific gravity of 11.7 or higher. Anything below that would indicate gold plating on a base metal.

If you purchased this medal as solid gold, and the seller guaranteed it you may ask for your money back. You will have to have the invoice or receipt. If not, this may be an expensive lesson to know what you are buying and who you are buying it from (are they a reputable dealer, not some eBay type seller, for example?).

Neil Cooper learned a similar lesson from that experience with these die cast space medals. He never again marketed a die cast medal. In addition to being cheaply and quickly made, they also do not increase in value with time in comparison with comparable die struck medals which are far more coveted by collectors.
Dick Johnson

[Thank you, Dick!!—ed.]








To MCA Officers and Oral History Committee
With the Committee's permission, I would like the first interview to be with Alan Stahl. I have given a lot of thought as to who should be the first interviewee. Frankly I choose an easy subject. Alan was present at so many medal events and was involved in so medal activities. He was even present at the Creation!

I remember sitting in the Colorado Springs Airport with Alan waiting for our respective flights after the FIDEM convention was over. We had chatted often during the previous four days. But that was all business. Here we were relaxed and the conversation was absolutely fabulous. I wish it had been recorded.

I would like to replicate some of that conversation in this interview and recognize that is what should be saved and placed on the internet for others to hear. For long-term permanence, perhaps like medals themselves.

I have agreed to do a "How To" article for other interviewers, should they wish to see this, and to publish my list of questions I would have on hand in advance of Alan's interview. As with all interviews there is no guarantee every one of those questions will be asked -- they are guidelines not marching orders.

You go with the flow in an interview so it is smooth from beginning to end.

However, you do want to have a theme of the interview -- you are gathering facts -- but it should be interesting throughout. You loose a listener if it becomes tedious or boring.

It is like a radio broadcast. That is somewhat out of my element, since I am a print writer. But I will do my best.

I hope this interviewing of medallic people catches on. In addition to the obvious of medallic artists, collectors and dealers, I see the possibility of interviewing people from the U.S. Mint, from private firms, and others.

Even those who issued medals. I got dibs on interviewing Jim Harper, who issued all those medals 40 years ago under the Presidential Art Medal banner. If someone else can track down Neil Cooper of International Numismatic Agency I will turn over my files on Neil to them. Neil was living in New York City when last I heard from him, he was then in the music business. Neil did "one shots" where Jim Harper liked issuing medals in series.

So many people who should have been interviewed are now dead. I interviewed Bill Louth of Medallic Art on September 25, 2006. Six weeks later he died.

That tape is priceless to me. Bill's mind was sharp at the end, great memory. He was "up" for it and seemed to recognize the importance of the interview. A last great "Hurrah!"

Think of some senior citizen who has some special medallic knowledge or experience. Why don't you contact him (or her) and set up an interview. We now have the mechanics to do this (thanks, Mark). It’s as easy as talking on the telephone. Now the ball is in your court.


Dick Johnson

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1 Lawrence E. Babits, A Devil of a Whipping, The Battle of Cowpens (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1998) 150-152. According to Babits, Tarleton claimed Morgan had 2,000 men; Morgan claimed to have only 800 men. Morgan estimated the American Militia at 200; Tarleton claimed their numbers were 1,000. Based upon known unit sizes, and pension records, Babits agrees Morgan underestimated the Militia numbers and estimates there were 1800-2400 American combatants, with “at least 1,600 men.”


2 Ibid, 109-110. In an 1804 letter from JEH to John Marshall, Howard recalls Wallace’s retreat: “I can account for the retreat….This Company on my right were Virginians commanded by Capt. Wallace who some time previous had formed a connexion(sic) with a vile woman of the camp, and the infatuation was so great that on guard or on any other duty he had this woman with him and seemed miserable when she was absent. He seemed to have lost all sense of the character of an officer. He was in this state at the time of this action.”


3 Charles Stedman, The History of the Origins, Progress, and Termination of the American War (Self-published, London, 1794).


4 Ibid.


5 Babits, A Devil of a Whipping, The Battle of Cowpens. 115.


6 The American Continental Infantry were armed with 1766 Charleville French Muskets which fired a .69 caliber ball measuring approximately .62 inch in diameter.


7 Babits, A Devil of a Whipping, The Battle of Cowpens. 142, Table 6. Babits shows estimates between 839 and 957 British casualties.


8 See Benson L. Lossing, The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution, Volume II (Harper & Brothers, New York, 1852) 664. Lossing details Tarleton’s massacre of Col. Buford’s American Regiment after they attempted to surrender at Waxhaw Creek on May 29, 1780, the event which Tarleton’s “bloody” reputation and the “Tarleton’s Quarter’s” battle cry originated. Tarleton later defended his actions at Waxhaw claiming that he rightfully refused to accept quarter as some of the Continentals continued firing.


9 See John W. Adams & Anne Bentley, Comitia Americana and Related Medals, Underappreciated Moments of our Heritage (George Frederick Kolbe Publications, 2007) 79-80. In fact, Franklin also managed to have medals struck for both Stewart and Wayne, of the same design as the De Fleury medal. This was apparently accomplished by DuVivier simply removing the legends applying to De Fleury, and replacing them with ones for Wayne and Stewart. This was unsatisfactory, and ultimately Wayne and Stewart’s medals were redesigned by Gatteaux.


10 Ibid. 45. In addition to John Howard’s silver Comitia Americana medal, Jefferson carried gold medals for Generals George Washington, Anthony Wayne, and Daniel Morgan, and silver medals for Major John Stewart and Lt. Colonel William Washington.


11 Martha Jefferson Randolph, Reminiscences of Thomas Jefferson by Martha Randolph.


12 Letter from George Washington to John Eager Howard March 25, 1790, copy in Washington's diary, Library of Congress.


13 Estimated value from conversation with Earle Havens, Acting Keeper of Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library.


14 Adams & Bentley, Comitia Americana and Related Medals. 11-17. Adams-Bentley reveals an extensive history of the silver Washington-Webster set of medals.


15 Letter from George Washington to John Eager Howard March 25, 1790.


16 Howard's middle name Eager is misspelled Egar. This has been attributed to carelessness by DuVivier, but I have seen notes from Jefferson where he uses this same misspelling, thus Jefferson may be responsible for the error.


17 Howard was shot in the shoulder, with the ball passing entirely through him, exiting through his back under the shoulder blade. General Nathaniel Greene had Howard attended to by the best medical personnel available. Greene must have believed that Howard fared better from his injury than in actuality; in a November 14, 1781 letter, given to Howard by Greene to deliver to a friend in Maryland while Howard was sent on furlough for his wounds, Greene refers to Howard's injuries: “He has been wounded, but has happily recovered.


18 The official US Congress website indicates Howard declined the Brigadier General's commission, but other accounts indicate that Washington actually named Howard as one of his Brigadier Generals. Howard never served, as the war with France never took place. Howard did decline a commission as a Brigadier General in the Maryland Militia in 1794, and the US Congress website or its sources may be confusing these facts. In an April 22, 1782 letter from Nathaniel Greene to Howard, it seems Howard desires advancement in rank, and Greene addresses Howard's aspirations: "I am told Congress have again changed the plan of promotion. If so, I fear you will meet with difficulty in obtaining yours. However you must learn patience, justice moves slow."


19 Henry Lee, Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United States (Bradford & Inskeep, Philadelphia & New York, 1812. Republished: University Publishing Company, New York, 1869) 592. Lee's memoirs were written in 1809 while he was in debtor's prison.


20 November 14, 1781 letter of General Nathaniel Greene, the same listed earlier, given to Howard to deliver to a friend in Maryland while Howard was on furlough for his wounds at Eutaw. This well known quote followed the letters introduction, which began “This will be handed you by Colonel Howard, as good an officer. . .”


21 Verse III of Maryland, My Maryland, penned by James Ryder Randall in April 1861. Adopted as the Official Maryland State song on April 29, 1939. Set to the traditional tune of "Lauriger Horatius" ("O, Tannenbaum".)


22 Letter from John Howard to Colonel Pickering, January 29, 1827. According the Maryland Historical magazine, Volume IV, 1909, the letter is in the collection of the Harvard library.


23 Michel Hodder, John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, Part XIV - Betts Medals -Part 2 (Stacks Auction, May 23, 2006) Description of silver Germantown medal, lot # 162, realized $51,750.00.


24 On May 18, 1778, Andre courted Peggy Chew at the "Mischianza", described in the August 1975, Volume 25, Issue 5 of American Heritage Magazine: "At the gigantic farewell party of the British officers, the mischianza, he chose Peggy Chew to be his honored lady . . . And for Peggy Chew also he wrote and illustrated a souvenir booklet descriptive the mischianza, signing himself her most devoted Knight and Servant.’ The booklet is still in the Chew house, Cliveden, in Germantown."


25 The Andre medal was a silver repoussé, and not a struck medal.


26 George Adolphus Hanson, Old Kent: The Eastern Shore of Maryland; Notes Illustrative of the Most Ancient Records of Kent County, Maryland..., etc. (John P. Des Forges, Baltimore, 1876) 43-48.


27 William Leete Stone, Visits to the Saratoga Battle-grounds, 1780-1880: With an Introduction and Notes (Joel Munsell's Sons, Albany, New York, 1895) 123-125.


28 This is one of many versions of the encounter between Washington and Tarleton. From the different accounts, it is difficult to determine the specific factual details of the exchange. It is recorded that the two men crossed paths at social events after the war, and engaged in verbal repartee over the details.


29 The Magazine of American History with Notes and Queries (Historical Publication Company, New York, June 1883) 105. "When, after death, the body of Colonel Washington was being prepared for burial by his friends, they discovered the ghastly scar of a terrible wound extending almost across his broad chest. Sending for his son they inquired as to how it had been received, and where? The reply was he never knew of its existence before upon his father's body, as he never alluded to his warlike exploits or "hair-breadth 'scapes" either to his family or friends." The wound could be from the Battle of Eutaw Springs, where Wm. Washington was wounded and captured.


30 Adams & Bentley, Comitia Americana and Related Medals. 258.


31 Ibid. 27.


32 C. Wyllys Betts, American Colonial History Illustrated by Contemporary Medals (Quarterman Publications, Boston, 1972. Originally published 1894) 280-282. Betts names the engraved medal "Battle of Eutaw Springs" and conjectures the medal was awarded to Howard for the Eutaw Battle.


33 In addition to their collective knowledge, the MCA members also had an additional original silver John Howard Comitia Americana medal in their possession for direct comparison, authenticated and encapsulated by Numismatic Guarantee Corporation, graded NGC MS-61.


34 July 31, 2008 conversation with John Kraljevich at the ANA Baltimore show.


35 Hanson, Old Kent: The Eastern Shore of Maryland; Notes Illustrative of the Most Ancient Records of Kent County, Maryland..., etc. This extensive family tree was used to sort out this and all of the family relation references which follow in the article.


36 Adams & Bentley, Comitia Americana and Related Medals. 148. Census of silver Howard medals.


37 Beginning in 1830, the Monnaie du Paris began the use of punches to place symbols and the composition on the edge of their medals. These various punches, known as "privy marks" are used to determine the time frame in which medals were struck. Medals struck before 1830 do not have a privy mark.


38 Howard Family Papers, Maryland Historical Society.


39 Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Library of Congress.


40 Adams & Bentley, Comitia Americana and Related Medals. 148. Authors photos include: Massachusetts Historical Society (Washington-Webster); Maryland Historical Society; John J. Ford Collection (now in a western Collection); David Dreyfuss Collection (now in a New England collection); and the west coast collection example.


41 The Washington-Webster example appears to have been cleaned in the author's photographs of the medal provided by the MHS. This was confirmed in an e-mail by John W. Adams.


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