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NUMISMATICS AND PROPERTY NUMBERING SYSTEMS IN OMAHA
It is time to face the facts
In numismatics there are a multitude of areas in which to do research. Information, that most numismatists have little or no interest in until a light of inquiry is focused on them (or it), which has been relegated to the dustbin of history.
An area of my interest is the address that appears on various numismatic items: tokens, shell cards and various paper money items such as advertising notes, look-alikes, etc. I am not talking about the address of the manufacturers, but rather the address of the actual issuers of the items in question.
This is a broad area of interest, but my research is limited to my main area of interest which is the Nebraska Territory and State. My first article on this subject titled “The Mystery of 233” appeared in the June 2013 issue of “The Numismatist”. This was an article on Peter Iler’s 233 Farnham Street advertising notes. This 2013 article left me wanting more precise information as to the exact time today’s system of property (lot) numbering was implemented. The need to explain then led me back in time through several lot numbering systems, which ended up back in 1854 at the outset of Omaha. This research took me an additional three years, into 2016, to complete.
The complete article, “Omaha Matures”, can be read at www.money.org (the American Numismatic Association’s website). The article is not meant to be a hit (indictment) piece on Omaha, but rather a way of providing other historians, now and in the future, an explanation of the groping for a workable solution during Omaha’s frontier times. The City Council tried several times, unsuccessfully, to come up with a system that actually worked.
In reality, numismatics can lead your research into strange, but connected to, history and so much more. So since I have your attention – go to the ANA website and read the whole story of “Omaha Matures”.
A person could think that Omaha, an overwhelmingly Democratic-controlled city, intentionally buried the fact that a Republican Mayor could possibly have been so instrumental in getting a workable property numbering system implemented, thereby giving Omaha a large impetus for growth in the 1880’s and beyond.
The reality is, that no Omaha researcher of the past took the time or had the interest to pursue a complete understanding of the lot numbering system or systems that were in effect before 1878.
It took an immense interest in numismatics of Omaha to ferret out this mundane, but important, aspect of Omaha’s lot numbering systems, and numismatics was the key to unlock this mystery. Actually, the lot numbering systems impacted so much more in the development of Omaha.
Don’t think that this invention of John McCallister, Jr., applies only to Omaha. Cities and towns around the United States, as well as around the world, adopted this also. It is not complex, nor is the manuscript. It is easily understood – especially in today’s digital world.
Some cities and towns did not implement this digital system until as late as the 1920’s.
This story is about Omaha’s struggle to get to a system that was first implemented in 1856, only twenty-two years after it was first installed in Philadelphia. Omaha was really near the leading edge of this change as it spread around the world.