ANA Museum Showcase in Philadelphia Features Stellar Rarities

Many examples of early American money come home to Philadelphia

The American Numismatic Association's signature Museum Showcase will feature spectacular examples of some of America's first coins and paper money, along with many other rare and historically significant numismatic treasures, at the 2012 World's Fair of MoneySM, Aug. 7-11 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

The showcase includes rarities from the ANA Edward C. Rochette Money Museum, Banco de México and numerous private collections.

"Philadelphia was the home to the first U.S. capital, the first U.S. Mint, and was really the birthplace of U.S. money," ANA Money Museum Curator Douglas Mudd said. "That's why the Museum Showcase will feature many firsts for American money."

These informative, museum-quality exhibits will be accompanied by Money Talks audio tours, which feature some of the nation's top numismatic experts discussing items on display. A full slate of audio tours will be announced in the coming weeks.

Following is a list of showcase exhibits to be displayed in Philadelphia:

The 1792 Half Disme

The first coin authorized by President George Washington under the Mint Act of 1792 will make its homecoming in Philadelphia during the World's Fair of Money.

An estimated 1,500 half disme silver coins were struck in the basement of a saw-maker's shop in Philadelphia in 1792 because the U.S. Mint was not yet operational. The coins are slightly smaller than a modern dime and weigh half as much. Thomas Jefferson, then serving as Secretary of State, personally received the coins on Washington's behalf.

Modern researchers estimate that about 275 of the 1,500 originally struck survive today. The coin on display in the showcase was donated to the Money Museum in December by Steven L. Contursi, president of Rare Coin Wholesalers of Irvine, Calif.

Early U.S. Medals
This exhibit features six medals significant to the early history of the United States. Visitors will see silver and copper versions of the Libertas Americana medal, three Sansom medals from the "Medallic History of the American Revolution" series, and a diplomatic medal conceived by Thomas Jefferson.

"All the medals are extraordinary. These medals are all influenced by or about our founding fathers," Mudd said. "For example, the Sansom medals celebrate George Washington, Ben Franklin and end of the revolution."

As Secretary of State, Jefferson played a role in the development of the diplomatic medal, which features the Seal of the United States along with allegorical figures representing an Indian Queen and Commerce. The medals were presented to retiring ambassadors.

Conceived by Benjamin Franklin, the Libertas American medal celebrates France's role in the American Revolution. In its allegorical reverse design, America is depicted as an infant Hercules, strangling two serpents representing the armies of Burgoyne and Cornwallis. He is defended by France, represented as the warrior-goddess Minerva, clad in breastplate and plumed helmet, holding a shield to fend off the British lion. The Latin inscription translates as ''the courageous child was aided by the gods.''

Colonial U.S. Paper Money
This overview gives visitors a look at early American money through the Revolutionary War, and the role it played in shaping the burgeoning United States.

The exhibit will feature the earliest example of Colonial paper money, a 1690 Massachusetts Bay Colony 20-shilling note. Following a failed invasion of Canada during King William's War, the colony desperately needed to settle its debts and spur the flow of commerce. Paper money did the trick. Most of the 1690 bills were redeemed for coinage, tax payments or future notes, leading to the rarity of these first North American bills.

The exhibit features notes from the ANA collection and from the private collections of Don Kagin, John Kraljevich and Kenneth E. Bressett.

First coins of the U.S. Mint
This exhibit presents examples of the first coins created by the U.S. Mint from 1792-1796, with high-quality examples of each denomination from the American Numismatic Society Collection. A highlight: A 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar, a design created by Robert Scot that was only used until 1795. The exhibit appears courtesy of the American Numismatic Society and an ANS member.

Presidential Appointments of Mint Directors
The historic documents presented in this display sealed the history of U.S. coinage. Each one is signed by a U.S. president to officially appoint a U.S. Mint Director. Courtesy of Brian Hendelson.

The Simpson Complete $4 Stella Set
The only known complete set of Stellas features 16 of these $4 pieces in all types, dates and metals. The collection is valued at $5 million.

The stella pattern coins are remnants of an unsuccessful move to participate in the Latin Monetary Union, an alliance of member nations that agreed to create an international standard for gold coinage. While the U.S. never formally joined, efforts were made to align U.S. coinage to standards used abroad.

The U.S. Mint struck pattern $4 pieces in 1879 and 1880. The coins were named "stellas," which is Latin for star. The pattern coins had a unique design, and were made with two obverses, one with Flowing Hair engraved by Charles Barber and another with Coiled Hair by George Morgan. The authorizing legislation for the Stella ultimately failed in Congress, and these coins serve as a reminder of efforts to create a universal coinage system.

Courtesy of Bob R. Simpson.


Rare notes from Banco de México
This display will showcase 19th century high-denomination notes from Mexican private banks, which are part of Banco de México's expansive numismatic collections.

The Idler/Bebee Class III Specimen 1804 Dollar

Known as "The King of U.S. Coins," the 1804 dollar is extremely rare, with only 15 known examples. No U.S. dollars dated 1804 actually were struck in that year; Class I specimens were struck in 1834-5 as diplomatic gifts (8 known), while Class II (unique) and III specimens (6 known) were struck during the 1850s for collectors.
The Idler/Bebee specimen was donated to the ANA by Aubrey and Adeline Bebee in 1991.


The Walton Specimen 1913 Liberty Head "V" Nickel
Five Liberty Head nickels were made in 1913 under mysterious circumstances. The existence of the nickels was unknown until 1919, when an advertisement in The Numismatist offered to purchase any example for $500. The ad was placed by Samuel W. Brown, a former Mint employee. In 1920 Brown exhibited all five nickels at the ANA convention in Chicago. The Walton Specimen, which "disappeared" for 40 years, is on loan to the ANA from the Walton family.

For high resolution images of items in the Museum Showcase, email pr@money.org.

The World's Fair of Money is the nation's premier money show. The event features more than 1,000 numismatic dealers with the best inventory anywhere; the ANA Museum Showcase, exhibiting some of the world's most valuable and beautiful coins and paper money; a Mint Promenade with mints from around the world; the Collector Exhibits area; a major auction by Stack's Bowers Galleries; educational presentations and seminars; and special events including the ANA's annual awards banquet.

Show hours are 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Aug. 7-10 and 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Aug. 11. Admission is $6 for adults, and free for ANA members and children 12 and under. Save $2 on admission by downloading a coupon at www.worldsfairofmoney.com. For more information, call 719-482-9849.

The American Numismatic Association is a congressionally chartered, nonprofit educational organization dedicated to encouraging people to study and collect money and related items. The ANA helps its 27,000 members and the public discover and explore the world of money through its vast array of education and outreach programs, as well as its museum, library, publications, conventions and seminars. For more information, call 719-632-2646 or go to www.money.org.