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Well worn Copper's Blog

24 May 2020

A Great Book on the Work of Augustus Saint-Gaudens

| Well worn Copper

I just finished reading John Dryfhout's classic book, The Work of Augustus Saint-Gaudens," which was originally issued in 1982. I had been looking for a good reference manual on Saint-Gauden's sculpture, and after much searching purchased a copy (the book was re-issued in 2008). Without a doubt this is the definitive guide to ASG's work. At 356 pages, it features backstories and photographs of 214 separate works of art by the artist. Numismatists will appreciate it for the seven pages pertaining to SG's 1907 models and sketches for U.S. coinage designs. (Included are the original plaster models of the cent, which later became the $10 gold piece.) Also featured is the Roosevelt Inaugural medal, as well as the 1893 Columbia medal, Washington Inaugural Centennial medal, and particularly the 1905 Women's Auxiliary of Civil Service medal, which was adapted for the 1986 Community Service Commemorative Silver Dollar. ASG also did numerous medallions on commissions, and going through his lifetime of work, makes one wonder how he ever found time to sleep! He also did several grand statues of Lincoln, and it is our loss that ASG never put on in medallic or coin form. He also had a sense of humor, and did medallic caricatures of friends, as well as a medal for his own family dog. Names and familiar faces appear as well. Davida Johnson Clark, who eventually became the basis for the model of the $10 gold, modeled several of his sculptures, and was his mistress as well. Model Hettie Anderson is featured as well, years before she appeared on the $20 gold piece. This is a volume that will now sit among my numismatic library. The 1982 edition was faithfully reprinted in 2008, and interested readers can easily find copies starting at about $5. This is the best book on Saint-Gaudens out there.

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22 May 2020

The 1963 "Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy" Notes

| Well worn Copper

I happened upon this story while reading an old 1967 Coins magazine. Apparently there was a wild rumor going around that certain 1963 bills foretold and commemorated the assassination of President Kennedy. These were series 1963 Dallas (K) notes. Here's what the notes supposedly foretold: The Federal Reserve Bank is divided into 12 districts. Each district has a number and letter. District 11, letter K , happened to be Dallas, Texas. The "K" was for Kennedy and "11" was for the November. Better yet, 11 plus 11 equals 22. So you now have (K) Kennedy, (11) November 22 1963 printed on the note. Also the serial numbers carried the prefix "K" and suffix "A" letters, supposedly for "Kennedy Assassination." The bill was worth even more if the serial number featured numbers such as 1122 or 112263. Also, the big black K surrounded by the Federal Reserve seal was "draped in black for presidential mourning." Apparently word on the street was these notes commemorated Kennedy's murder and were worth a premium. I don't recall hearing this story until reading about it a few days ago, but then again I don't really collect currency. I checked on eBay and sure enough someone was offering one of these complete with the urban legend. Yet another example of the power of coincidence.

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16 May 2020

1993 Vintage ANA $5 Amerivox Phone Card

| Well worn Copper

Sometimes when you travel down a different road you find something interesting. While passing an idle afternoon on eBay recently, I randomly entered "American Numismatic Association" just to see what came up. Among it's many offerings was this phone card. Issued by Amerivox in 1993, this $5 pre-paid phone card featured the ANA and a $3 gold piece. At the time Amerivox was one of the biggest phone card issuers, and got into the "collectors" market by issuing cards bearing the likeness' of Elvis Presley and JFK. Formed in 1991, Amerivox probably made millions before mobile phones became affordable and pay phone became obsolete. I had not seen one of these in years and was surprised to discover pre-paid phone cards are still out there (typically sold at convenience stores) but have no idea how to use them since you can't find a pay phone anywhere. This ANA card is unused (mint) and sold for less than $2 over face value, and many early 90's cards from Amerivox are just as affordable. Until then, it's the closest I'm going to get to having an ANA certified $3 gold piece in my collection. Chalk it up to exonumia.

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