Section of Wooden Beam from
United States Mint at Philadelphia. Cross Section of Original
Beam from the First United States Mint at 7th and Filbert Streets,
Philadelphia. Wooden block measuring approximately 13 by 9 by 3
cm. With typewritten label from which our lot title is taken.
The First U.S. Mint Building
The destruction of the first United States Mint, beginning in 1907, provided an opportunity to create any number of collectibles, and the recovery of first Mint timber facilitated the manufacture of multiple relic pieces. Frank H. Stewart, who purchased the property in 1907, was the first to orchestrate the transformation of the timber into a variety of objects. In addition to two wooden chairs and a bench (which survives at the Gloucester County Historical Society in Woodbury, New Jersey), Stewart directed the creation of gavels and paperweights, the largest collection of which is today found in the Stewart archives at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. Sometime around 1960, a second wave of first Mint timber appeared in the Philadelphia area. The Numismatist of February 1961 notes the presentation of a gavel and sounding board from the workshop of George Cucore to Delaware County Coin Club president John Harrison, Jr. Cucore is quoted in Coin World, December 7, 1962, and noted that timber came from Stewart via the Philadelphia builder J.P. Hallahan, as well as from John Harris, a Philadelphia Coin Club member. Cucore produced a small number of gavels, one of which today is in the ANA collection in Colorado Springs. The present piece of first Mint timber, a thin cross-section of an oak beam, was given to Eric P. Newman by Alexander Kaptik, a Philadelphia Coin Club member, in 1966. Newman wrote to Kaptik on September 21, 1966,
"We are simply delighted with the cross-section of a beam from the original United States Mint at 7th and Filbert Streets, in Philadelphia. It is one of those strange replicas which brings a nostalgic feeling to everyone in numismatics. It must be a wish that they could have been there to witness the operations. This piece of timber saw some beautiful coinage and witnessed brutal toil which went into its production."
Newman counted "approximately 80 rings," indicating this was already fairly old by the time of the first Mint construction in 1792. The opportunity to acquire first Mint timber is rare--we are aware of only one other public appearance, in Craig Whitford's 1995 sale of Mint memorabilia, that being a small block of timber from George Cucore, accompanied by a letter of provenance from ANA past president Arthur Sipe.
Ex: Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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A powerful and intimidating dealer of the 1960s, backed by important colleagues, was accused of selling fraudulent gold coins and ingots to unsuspecting numismatists. Who would go up against a man like that and, over the course of decades, prove the fraud? Who would expose a widely respected scholar as a thief, then doggedly pursue recovery of coins that the scholar had stolen from an embarrassed numismatic organization, all over the objections of influential collectors who had bought coins with clouded titles? Eric P. Newman would - and did. Reserve your copy today.
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