The topics covered in my last three columns — The Fantastic
1804 Dollar; the rare bound proof edition of that great book;
and The Secret of the Good Samaritan Shilling — have one
common factor: they were written by Eric P. Newman, either by himself
or in partnership with others.
Eric is a living national treasure with a lifetime of jaw-dropping
hobby achievements. He once owned all five 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent
coins simultaneously, and he still owns the unique “George Washington
President” pattern in gold that was probably Washington’s “pocket piece.”
But Eric would qualify for living national treasure status solely
for his literary accomplishments. Any numismatist would be ecstatic to
win a single Heath Literary Award for best article published in The
Numismatist; Eric has won a whopping 15! Any numismatist would be
proud to build a strong research library; Eric’s is so comprehensive
that it resides at Washington University in St. Louis, along with his
superb coin collection, as part of the Newman Money Museum. Any
numismatist would be pleased to teach an American Numismatic Society
Summer Seminar; Eric has a Summer Seminar series named in his honor.
Any numismatist would be thrilled to write a single book; Eric has
written a dozen.
In my past three columns, I’ve discussed two of the books, only
the tip of his literary iceberg. If American Colonial paper money is
your passion, the fourth edition of Eric’s The Early Paper Money
of America is indispensable. If your Colonial collecting
interests center on coins, you will need to read his Coinage for
Colonial Virginia. If early federal issues are your focus, read
The United States Fugio Copper Coinage of 1787.
Perhaps your interest in paper money extends to counterfeiting; if
so, Eric’s monograph on Heath Counterfeit Detectors, published in
The American Numismatic Association Centennial Anthology,
is mandatory. If your interest in counterfeits includes coinage, his
collaboration with A. George Mallis, U.S. Coin Scales and Counterfeit
Detectors, is a must-read.
Writing these masterpieces has not left Eric too busy or arrogant
to help young scholars. In 1988, when another towering figure in
numismatic literature, Q. David Bowers, published my first numismatic
book, he asked Eric to write its foreword. The subject was Pierre
Eugene Du Simitiere, who immigrated to the American colonies in 1763,
eventually settling in Philadelphia, where he became one of the
nation’s pioneering coin collectors.
Eric had been the first to call the numismatic world’s attention
to Du Simitiere’s collecting activities, in The Early Paper Money of
America, but he nonetheless wrote a generous foreword for my book, and
also corrected some other errors before it was published.
Lately, I’ve noticed certain Internet sources that name Eric as
the author of The Eagle That is Forgotten. I haven’t tried to
correct them; after all, what could be more flattering than to have
people think that your book was written by a living numismatic treasure?
JOEL J. OROSZ is a charter member of the Numismatic Bibliomania
Society and co-author of The Secret History of the First U.S.
Mint. He can be reached at Joeljorosz@gmail.com.