Monday, February 29, 2016

Numismatic Truthseekers

Joel J. Orosz is currently the Distinguished Professor of Philanthropic Studies at Johnson Center for Philanthropy of Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I know Joel through the Numismatic Bibliomania Society. His most recent effort in our hobby is his co-authoring Truthseeker: The Life of Eric P. Newman (Dallas: Ivy Press, 2015). Working with Leonard Augsburger and Roger W. Burdette, he outlined the lifetime achievements of one of the greatest names in numismatics, and certainly one of the most productive and innovative numismatists in our time.  

Eric P. Newman came to numismatics as most collectors do: a grandfather gave him a coin. Soon, he was saving his allowances and going downtown to a coin dealer's shop. Newman continued his hobby after he graduated from MIT and completed a law degree at Washington University in St. Louis. After the death of  "Colonel" Edward Howland Robinson Green, that estate's lawyers were challenged to dispose properly of a monstrous assortment of uncatalogued rarities. Working through them, and partnered with his old friend, coin dealer Burdette Johnson, Newman came to know the leaders of numismatics in the early middle of the 20th century. It was a wilderness, a no-man's-land of fables, rumors, and blue sky sales. Encouraged by Wayte Raymond, Newman began to dig in the available records.

Among his many achievements were the uncloaking of the 1804 Dollars, the discovery of the true origin of the U.S. Dollar Sign, and the organization and presentation of colonial and Revolutionary paper money in The Early Paper Money of America

But that is Newman. As for Joel, for all of his memberships, even though he graduated from Kalamazoo College (1975-1979), and works in Grand Rapids, Joel never joined the Michigan State Numismatic Society. When I edited the MSNS Mich-Matist 2004-2007, I ran a "Wanted" poster like this, but no  one took me up on it.  So, I asked the current editor, Mike Strub, to run this one.

This week, I will be in Dallas for the ANA "World's Fair of Money" national convention.  On Thursday and Friday, I will be judging exhibits. On Saturday, I am delivering a presentation, "From Texas to the Moon with John Leonard Riddell."  You can read the primary points on this blog, here. I expanded that work for the ANA Numismatist. They published it as "The Riddle of J. L. Riddell" in April 2014. My talk in Dallas will include material not presented elsewhere from his narrative of "Orrin Lindsay's Plan of Aerial Navigation" (1847).  Riddell was apparently the first working scientist to publish a science fiction story.

My review of the Newman biography is an ANA Website Blog article here. 

William Sheldon: Psychologist, Numismatist, Thief
John F. Jord: Forgery and Fraud in Numismatics
Numismatics: The Standard of Proof in Economics
Numismatics: History as Market

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