Facts About Coin Collecting

Wondering what the name is for an individual that collects coins? That would be a Numismatist. (Pronounced new-miss-ma-tist.) It means “someone who studies and collects things that are used as money, including coins, tokens, paper bills, and medals.”

Interested in the art of coin collecting? This type of collection was once called “The Hobby of Kings”. Today, numismatics is a hobby available to anyone. With coins flooding the internet, anyone with access and a desire to hold history their hand is able to join in on this passion. Believe it or not, the origins of this captivating hobby are quite unusual. Until the 20th century, coin collecting was exclusively a pastime of royalty and wealthy.

The first recorded person to have a coin collection was Augustus Caesar, the first emperor of Rome. He lived from 63 B.C. to A.D. 14, and the eighth month of our year is named after him.

Not only did Augustus keep adding coins to his collection, but he also gave them as gifts. Starting this trend, many of the Roman emperors who ruled after Augustus also had large coin collections. The hobby became even more popular during the Middle Ages, when wealthy individuals and royal families built awesome collections.

This question may have crossed your mind from time to time, how long do coins last? And what happens to them once worn out? Most coins can circulate for about 25 years before they become too worn to be used anymore. That’s a long time when you consider that the average dollar lasts for only 18 months.

The United States Mint recycles worn-out coins it receives from a Federal Reserve Bank. The Mint then sends any usable metal that’s recovered to a fabricator, then repurposes for new coinage.

At first glance, many coins may look almost identical, but when you see the difference in the price tag you may think twice about how similar they really are. The things that affect the value of the coin most are age, rarity, condition, and precious metal. The value of any one coin can be surprising. For example, you can buy some Roman coins that are more than 1600 years old for less than $10.  But then there are some worn 1909 wheat pennies that sell for hundreds of dollars, or more!

Usually, the harder a coin is to find and the more people who want it, the more it’s worth. This is known as the law of supply and demand. It holds true no matter what the collectible.

The motto IN GOD WE TRUST first appeared on a U.S. coin in 1864, during the Civil War. In particular, the two-cent piece; first minted in that year, was the first coin with the slogan.

Since gaining independence, the U.S. has minted coins in denominations that today may seem odd. For example, the U.S. has minted half cents (1793-1857), two-cent pieces (1864-1873), three-cent pieces (1851-1889), twenty-cent pieces (1875-1878), $2.50 gold pieces (1796-1929), $3.00 gold piece (1854-1889), $4.00 gold pieces (1879-1880), $5.00 gold pieces or half eagles (1795-1929), $10.00 gold pieces or eagles (1795-1933), and $20.00 gold pieces (“double eagles”) (1849-1933). Currently, the only coin denominations for circulation being minted are the penny, nickel, dime, quarter, half dollar, and dollar.

Coin collecting is a pastime that has been around for thousands of years. It can grow with you as you find interest in different time periods in history, art-work of a particular coin and culture. There are as many avenues in coin collecting as you wish to travel, and with coins you can venture virtually anywhere around the world and to any period of time back to early human civilization right from the comfort of your home. Coin collecting can be a journey into history that lasts a lifetime – and the first coin to strike your interest may be sitting in your pocket or local coin shop right now.

Enjoy your journey in this very exciting hobby!

What is the difference between silver and white gold?

White gold is a mixture of pure yellow gold and other white metals, to give it a white presence very much like silver. White gold is often coated with a metal called Rhodium to strengthen and give it an extra shine and long lasting quality. On the other hand, Sterling Silver is pure silver that is mixed with copper to make jewelry, and has a shiny white look like white gold. This is an affordable alternative to white gold, although it does need polishing more often.

The determination between white gold and silver isn’t as easy of a choice as it once was. Many people today are choosing the exquisite look of silver even when they can afford gold, and others who thought they couldn’t afford gold are choosing the pure, shiny gloss that only white gold can offer.

A lot of people actually question what the difference is between the two. Due to their similar looks, it’s obviously tough to tell the difference between silver and white gold at first glance. They’re so comparable, it’s possible to think they are the same thing, or made of similar materials, when this could not be further from the truth! But, before you make a decision it’s important to weigh out the pros and cons of white gold vs. silver before deciding on one or the other.

Silver is a shiny, white precious metal that’s often mixed with copper when making jewelry, also known as sterling silver. Mixing pure silver with other materials gives it the strength to ensure it won’t be too soft to create beautiful jewelry pieces. Sterling Silver is the least expensive of the white metals. It’s usually stamped “925,” which means 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals.

White gold is created by combining pure gold and a white metal such as nickel or palladium, which gives the unique shiny white look to the regular gold. Many people have concerns about whether white gold or silver products contain nickel, since it’s such a common source of sensitivity. Nickel is the main metal people are allergic to, and jewelry that contains this can be very irritating to the skin and cause itchy and painful reactions. It’s important to ensure that if you have sensitivities to nickel, that any piece of jewelry you buy will be nickel-free.

There is a material called Rhodium, which is a precious metal often used for plating white gold jewelry, because of its alluring finish and how it gorgeously sets off the white gold. The Rhodium plating is perfect to include with the white gold; however this finish does wear off over time and require re-plating occasionally.

Silver – Has a very shiny and lustrous finish, Is an affordable and beautiful budget-friendly alternative, Substantially lower price than white gold, Tends to be much softer than white gold and can change shape over time, Silver also shines brightly when new; however this will need to be cleaned more frequently to maintain its lustrous look, because it often tarnishes.

White Gold –Has a beautiful mirror-like white shine, from its Rhodium plating, Is a great choice if you have a higher budget and want a fine quality material, Considered an investment, since it’s a very high quality and damage-resistant material, Has a more durable, hard finish that’s able to hold more intricate details, Stays shiny for a long time, needs re-plating with Rhodium every couple years or so.

One of the biggest differences, when you’re weighing white gold or silver, is clearly the price. Silver is a much cheaper material, and is quite beautiful if you are on a budget and looking for quality elegant sterling silver jewelry. White gold costs $23.86 per gram, while sterling silver costs only $0.59 per gram. So when you’re making the difficult decision between white gold vs. silver, cost is definitely a major deciding factor for most people. But you might be surprised by a beautiful piece of white gold jewelry you absolutely adore. And while it might be a stretch to afford gold, it’s definitely worth the higher price tag for white gold to invest in a lasting, beautiful quality piece.

At the end of the day, whether you choose white gold or silver, knowing and considering these different characteristics of these two metals will help you decide which option is going to give you the gorgeous piece of jewelry you’ll be proud to wear and enjoy for a lifetime.

Dirty Money

Have you ever wondered where your money has been? Well, I can tell you that it is probably dirtier then you think.

The anatomy of our banknotes is concerning, more so than that of our copper coinage, which appears to be less hospitable to bacteria. U.S. notes, made from a blend of 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen, may be more attractive to bacteria than other countries’ currency. Polymer-based banknotes used in Australia and Canada have been found to be “cleaner,” meaning more resistant to dirt and bacteria, than cotton-based ones. There are no plans to change the composition of American money, however, the Federal Reserve wrote in an e-mail responding to queries. The Fed, which oversees the nation’s monetary policy and sets interest rates, said U.S. currency is not a very effective transmission agent for germs. It cited a 1982 study about survival of influenza viruses on environmental surfaces. 

Microbes, or microscopic organisms, are found on many surfaces – from restrooms, airplanes and buses. They are transferred through human contact. And money could serve as a mode of transportation for bacteria – posing a threat to human health.

Last year alone, there were 23,000 deaths caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With the studies that have been taken, finding that flu viruses can persist on banknotes. Swiss researchers found in one 2008 study that flu viruses, which typically survive for a couple days on Swiss francs, can survive up to 17 days if accompanied by mucus, possibly spelling trouble for folks who handle cash after someone else with a runny nose has handled it as well. Still other studies of cash from around the world specifically point to high bacterial counts on money handled by food workers or on hospital grounds.

The dollar bill is home to thousands of microbes — bacteria, fungi and pathogens that can cause such illnesses as skin infections, stomach ulcers and food poisoning, according to scientists. Researchers at New York University have identified as many as 3,000 kinds of bacteria living on $1 bills in a new comprehensive study examining DNA on paper currency. Researchers at New York University have identified as many as 3,000 kinds of bacteria living on $1 bills in a new comprehensive study.

Money has a large role in daily life. Although we often touch a variety of objects that could be capable of absorbing, harboring and transmitting infectious organisms, money seems to be present often and it is often close to food. “It is more probable to handle money and then food than to touch a subway pole or a commonly used doorknob and then food,” notes Manolis Angelakis, an infectious diseases researcher at Aix–Marseille University, who has studied dirty money. There is no definitive research that connects enough dots to 100% prove that dirty money actually makes people sick, but we do have strong circumstantial evidence: influenza, norovirus, rhinovirus and others have all been transmitted via hand-to-hand or surface-to-hand contact in studies, suggesting pathogens could readily travel a hand-money-hand route. In one study 10 subjects handled a coffee cup contaminated with rhinovirus—and half subsequently developed an infection, so next time you are counting through your money, maybe wash your hands before you decide to eat.

The History of St. Patrick’s Day

Saint Patrick’s Day is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland.

Patrick was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. What is known about Saint Patrick comes from the Declaration, which was allegedly written by Patrick himself. It is believed that he was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century, into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the Christian church. According to the Declaration Patrick was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland when he was sixteen years old. It says that he spent a total of six years working as a shepherd and that during this time he found God. The Declaration says that God spoke to Patrick, and told him to flee to the coast, where a ship would take him home. After making his way home, Patrick went on to become a priest.

Irish Government Ministers travel abroad on official visits to various countries around the globe to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and promote Ireland. The most prominent of these is the visit of the Irish Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) with the U.S. President which happens on or around St. Patrick’s Day.

Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century and is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Lutheran Church. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, and celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general. Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, céilís, and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. Christians who belong to liturgical denominations also attend church services and historically the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol were lifted for the day, which has encouraged and propagated the holiday’s tradition of alcohol consumption.

Saint Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat. It is also widely celebrated by the Irish diaspora around the world, especially in the United Kingdom, Canada, United States, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival.

According to the tale, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. The Declaration says that he spent many years in the northern half of Ireland and redesigned the religious beliefs of thousands. Patrick’s efforts against the religious leaders were eventually turned into a legend in which he drove “snakes” out of Ireland.

Tradition holds that he died on 17 March and was buried at Downpatrick. Over the following centuries, many legends grew up around Patrick and he became Ireland’s most memorable saint.

Conventionally, the Taoiseach presents the U.S. President a Waterford Crystal bowl filled with shamrocks. This ritual began when Irish Ambassador to the U.S. John Hearne sent a box of shamrocks to President Harry S. Truman in 1952. From that moment, it became an annual tradition for the Irish ambassador to present the St Patrick’s Day shamrock to an official in the U.S. President’s administration. However, it was only after the meeting between Taoiseach Albert Reynolds and President Bill Clinton in 1994 that the presenting of the shamrock ceremony became an annual event for the leaders of both countries for St Patrick’s Day.

Needless to say, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in many countries and one of the longest-running and largest St. Patrick’s Day parades occurs each year in Montreal, Canada, whose city flag includes a shamrock in lower right corner. The yearly celebration has been organised by the United Irish Societies of Montreal since 1929. The parade has been held yearly without interruption since 1824. St Patrick’s Day itself, however, has been celebrated in Montreal since as far back as 1759 by Irish soldiers in the Montreal Garrison following the British conquest of New France.


In present day, celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, Irish traditional music sessions, and wearing green clothing, accessories and/or shamrocks. There are also formal gatherings such as banquets and dances, although these were more common in the past. St Patrick’s Day parades began in North America in the 18th century, but did not spread to Ireland until the 20th century. The events have participants from all walks of life, they generally include marching bands, the military, fire brigades, cultural organizations, charitable organizations, voluntary associations, youth groups, fraternities, and so on.

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have been criticised, particularly for their association with public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. Some argue that the festivities have become too commercialized and have become somewhat cut-rate and have strayed from their original purpose of honouring St Patrick and Irish heritage. Journalist Niall O’Dowd has criticised attempts to recast St Patrick’s Day as a celebration of multiculturalism rather than a celebration of Irishness.

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have also been criticized for fostering offensive stereotypes of Ireland and the Irish people themselves. An very well known example is the people who partake in dressing in ‘leprechaun outfits’, which are based on derogatory 19th century caricatures of the Irish. On St. Patrick’s Day in 2014, the Ancient Order of Hibernians successfully campaigned to stop major American retailers from selling novelty merchandise that promoted negative Irish stereotypes. This year consider your celebrations and the way you can honor Ireland and Ireland’s beloved Saint Patrick.

Deliberation of Art or Fraud

James Stephen George Boggs was born in Woodbury, New Jersey on January 16, 1955.

James Boggs began drawing currency in 1984, sitting in a Chicago diner the artist began drawing on a paper napkin as he consumed his breakfast. He began with sketching the number 1, easily recognized on the $1 denomination. Boggs then transformed the image into a piece of art similar to the dollar bill. Eagerly, his waitress offered to buy it. Mr. Boggs refused, but instead payed for his 90 cent tab with the drawing and the waitress gratefully handed him 10 cents in change. Needless to say, at that very moment an idea sparked that would change the path of his life. His drawings of currency, illustrating only one side of the note, came to be known as “Boggs notes”. James Boggs notes were considered to be art. He would tell a collector where he spent the note and the details of the transaction, but he would never sell the notes directly. The buyer would then hunt down the person in possession of the note in order to purchase it. Boggs noted that after the initial transaction the notes would be resold for much more than their face value, it is said that one Boggs notes resold for $420,000.

One of his well known pieces are a series of bills done for the Florida United Numismatists’ annual convention. Denominations from $1 to $50 (and perhaps higher) feature designs taken from the reverse sides of U.S. currency, making minor changes to captions such as: “The United States of America” is changed to “Florida United Numismatists” and the denomination wording is occasionally replaced by the acronym “FUN”. Also changes to the imagery; the mirroring of Monticello on the $2, the Supreme Court building, as opposed to the U.S. Treasury, on the $10 and an alternate angle for the White House on the $20 bill. They were printed in bright orange on one side and featured Boggs’s autograph and thumbprint on the other.

 Boggs viewed his “transactions” as a type of art, but the authorities often viewed him and his work with speculation. Boggs wanted his audience to question and investigate just what it is that makes “money” valuable in the first place. 

“I create images that say things and ask things,” Mr. Boggs said in the 2013 Discovery Channel documentary “Secret Life of Money.” “I take them out into the real world and try to spend them, not as counterfeits, but as works of art that ask us about the nature of money.”

He firmly denied that he was a counterfeiter or forger, but rather maintained that a good business model between informed parties that this performance was certainly not fraud, even if the item transacted happens to resemble currency. Boggs was first arrested for counterfeiting in England in 1986, and was successfully defended by the human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC & Mark Stephens and acquitted. As detailed in Geoffrey Robertson’s book The Justice Game, all Bank of England notes now carry a copyright message on the face as a direct result of Boggs’s activities, the idea being that if they cannot secure a counterfeiting charge, then they can at least secure a copyright violation. He was arrested for a second time in Australia in 1989, acquitted and awarded the equivalent of US$20,000 in damages by the presiding judge. Boggs home was raided three times between 1990 and 1992 by the United States Secret Service on suspicion of counterfeiting. Resulting in the raids, 1300 items were confiscated, although no legal case was brought against him. In September 2006, Boggs was arrested in Florida and charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and carrying a concealed weapon. He failed to appear in court a few months later.

Police bust Boggs at the Young Unknowns Gallery, London, 1986

“They said I was a counterfeiter,” an indignant Mr. Boggs told The Associated Press in 1992, when agents in the counterfeiting division of the Secret Service raided his apartment near Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he was an artist in residence, and took possession of more than 100 of his artworks. “They don’t understand the difference between art and crime.”

With the immense talent he held, it is no wonder prestigious museums sought after this work. Some of the artwork can be found in numerous places, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Smithsonian Institution, Babson College, Wellesley, Massachusetts, Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, Florida Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence Kansas and the British Museum in London, England. Boggs died on January 22, 2017 in Tampa at the age of 62, but his story will live on forever through his work and his legacy.

New Year’s Good Luck Cake

Vasilopita is a New Year’s Day bread or cake in Greece and many other areas in eastern Europe, which contains a hidden coin that is believed to bring luck to the one who obtains the coin. It is associated with Sainr Basil’s day. (Saint Basil’s Feast Day is observed on January 1, the beginning of the New Year and the Epiphany season known as the Vasilopita Observance) January 1, in most of Greece, but in some regions, the traditions surrounding a cake with a hidden coin are associated with Epiphany or Christmas The dough in which the coin is placed varies immensely depending on personal preference and location/region. In some families, instead of dough, it is made from a custard base. The pie is known as Chronópita, meaning New Year’s Pie.

On New Year’s Day families cut the vasilopita to bless the house and bring good luck for the new year. This is usually done at the midnight of New Year’s Eve. A coin is hidden in the bread by slipping it into the dough before baking. At midnight the sign of the cross is etched with a knife across the cake. A piece of cake is sliced for each member of the family and any visitors present at the time, by order of age from eldest to youngest. 

In older times, the coin often was a valuable one, such as a gold sovereign. As time went on, the tradition of a costly coin (in most cases) changed. In more modern times, a gift, money or prize is given to the coin recipient. Many private or public institutions, such as societies, clubs, workplaces, companies, etc., cut their vasilopita on New Year’s Day and the beginning of the Great Lent, in celebrations that range from impromptu potluck gatherings to formal receptions or balls.

How did this tradition start you may ask? In popular belief, vasilopita is associated with a legend of Basil of Caesarea. According to one story, Basil called on the Roman citizens of Caesarea to raise a ransom payment to stop the enemy forces from surrounding the city, cutting off essential supplies with the aim of compelling the surrender of those inside. Each individual of the city gave what they had in gold and jewelry. When the ransom was raised, the  adversary was so embarrassed by the people’s cooperation that he called off the siege without taking a thing. Basil was then tasked with returning the unpaid ransom, but had no way of knowing which items belonged to which family, so he baked all of the jewelry into loaves of bread and distributed the loaves around the city, and by a miracle each citizen received their exact share.

World’s Columbian Exposition

The World’s Columbian Exposition was a world’s fair held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival to the New World in 1492. The fair was open for 6 months from May 1, 1893 to October 30, 1893 and boasted a total of 27,300,000 visitors.

The layout of the Chicago Columbian Exposition was, in large part, designed by John Wellborn Root, Daniel Burnham, Frederick Law Olmsted and Charles B. Atwood. It was the prototype of what Burnham and his colleagues thought a perfect city should be. It was designed to follow Beaux Arts principles of design, namely French neoclassical architecture principles based on symmetry, balance, and splendor. The color of the material generally used to cover the buildings façades gave the fairgrounds its nickname, the White City. Many prominent architects designed its 14 “great buildings”. Artists and musicians were featured in exhibits and many also made depictions and works of art inspired by the exposition.

The exposition covered 690 acres and featured nearly 200 new (but deliberately temporary) buildings of predominantly neoclassical architecture, canals and lagoons, and people and cultures from 46 countries. The World’s Columbian Exposition’s scale and grandeur far exceeded the other world’s fairs.

Exposition entry tickets

The fair was planned in the early 1890s during the Gilded Age of rapid industrial growth, immigration, and class tension. World’s fairs, such as London’s 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition, had been successful in Europe as a way to bring together societies fragmented along class lines.

The first American attempt at a world’s fair in Philadelphia in 1876, drew crowds but was a financial failure. Nonetheless, ideas about distinguishing the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ landing started in the late 1880s. The exposition corporation and national exposition commission settled on Jackson Park and an area around it as the fair site in Chicago.

The fair opened in May and ran through October 30, 1893. Forty-six nations participated in the fair, constructing exhibits and pavilions and naming national “delegates”. The fair was originally meant to be closed on Sundays, but the Chicago Woman’s Club petitioned that it stay open. The club felt that if the exposition was closed on Sunday, it would restrict those who could not take off work during the work-week from seeing it.

The World’s Columbian Exposition was the first world’s fair with an area for amusements that was strictly separated from the exhibition halls. This area, developed by a young music promoter, Sol Bloom, concentrated on Midway Plaisance and introduced the term “midway” to American English to describe the area of a carnival or fair where sideshows are located. It included carnival rides, among them the original Ferris Wheel, built by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. This wheel was 264 feet tall and had 36 cars, each of which could accommodate 40 people.

Other attractions at the fair included:

  • Life-size reproductions of Christopher Columbus’ three ships, the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria
  • A series of lectures on the Science of Animal Locomotion in the Zoopraxographical Hall. A zoopraxiscope was used to show moving pictures to a paying public, the hall was the first commercial movie theater.
  • An Anthropology Building featured “The Cliff Dwellers” a rock and timber structure that was painted to recreate Battle Rock Mountain in Colorado, a stylized recreation of American Indian cliff dwelling with pottery, weapons and other relics on display.
  • The “Street in Cairo” included the popular dancer known as Little Egypt. She introduced America to the suggestive version of the belly dance known as the “hootchy-kootchy”.
  • The first moving walkway or travelator. It had two different divisions: one where passengers were seated, and one where riders could stand or walk. It ran in a loop down the length of a lakefront pier to a casino.
The Viking, a replica of the Gokstad ship
  • Norway participated by sending the Viking, a replica of the Gokstad ship. It was built in Norway and sailed across the Atlantic by 12 men, led by Captain Magnus Andersen.
  • Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, where historian Frederick Jackson Turner gave academic lectures reflecting on the end of the frontier which Buffalo Bill represented.
  • The electrotachyscope of Ottomar Anschütz was demonstrated, which used a Geissler tube to project the illusion of moving images.
  • The German firm Krupp had a pavilion of artillery, which apparently had cost one million dollars to stage, including a coastal gun and a breech-loaded gun.
The Krupp Pavilion
  • Architect Kirtland Cutter’s Idaho Building, a rustic log construction, was a popular favorite. The building’s design and interior furnishings were a major precursor of the Arts and Crafts movement.
  • Horticultural exhibits at the Horticultural Hall included cacti and orchids as well as other plants in a greenhouse.
John Bull Locomotive
  • The John Bull locomotive was displayed. It was only 62 years old, having been built in 1831. And a Baldwin 2-4-2 locomotive was showcased
  • Among the other attractions at the fair, several products that are well known today were introduced: Juicy Fruit Gum, Cream of Wheat, and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer

Architecture was also an incredible draw for the Exposition. Most of the buildings of the fair were designed in the neoclassical architecture style. The area at the Court of Honor was known as The White City. Façades were made not of stone, but of a mixture of plaster, cement, and jute fiber called staff, which was painted white, giving the buildings their “gleam”. Architecture critics derided the structures as “decorated sheds”. The buildings were clad in white stucco, which, in comparison to the tenements of Chicago, seemed illuminated. It was also called the White City because of the extensive use of street lights, which made the boulevards and buildings usable at night.

The White City

Other great architectural installments include:

  • The Administration Building, designed by Richard Morris Hunt
  • The Agricultural Building, designed by Charles McKim of McKim, Mead & White
  • The Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building, designed by George B. Post. If this building were standing today, it would rank second in volume and third in footprint on list of largest buildings (130,000m2, 8,500,000m3).
  • The Mines and Mining Building, designed by Solon Spencer Beman
  • The Electricity Building, designed by Henry Van Brunt and Frank Maynard Howe
  • The Machinery Hall, designed by Robert Swain Peabody of Peabody and Stearns
  • The Woman’s Building, designed by Sophia Hayden
Golden Arch at Louis Sullivan’s Transportation Building
  • The Transportation Building, designed by Adler & Sullivan
  • The Fisheries Building designed by Henry Ives Cobb
  • Forestry Building designed by Charles B. Atwood
  • Horticultural Building designed by Jenney and Mundie
  • Anthropology Building designed by Charles B. Atwood

Almost all of the fair’s structures were designed to be temporary; of the more than 200 buildings erected for the fair, the only two which still stand in place are the Palace of Fine Arts and the World’s Congress Auxiliary Building. Three other significant buildings survived the fair. The first is the Norway Building, a recreation of a traditional wooden stave church. After the Fair it was relocated to Lake Geneva, and in 1935 was moved to a museum called Little Norway in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin. In 2015 it was dismantled and shipped back to Norway, where it was restored and reassembled. The second is the Maine State Building, designed by Charles Sumner Frost, which was purchased by the Ricker family of Poland Spring, Maine. They moved the building to their resort to serve as a library and art gallery. The third is the Dutch House, which was moved to Brookline, Massachusetts.

The White City on Fire

Since many of the other buildings at the fair were intended to be temporary, they were removed after the fair. The White City so impressed visitors (at least before air pollution began to darken the façades) that plans were considered to refinish the exteriors in marble or some other material. These plans were abandoned in July 1894, when much of the fair grounds was destroyed in a fire.

The fair garnered many famous visitors and performers such as:

  • Helen Keller, along with her mentor Anne Sullivan.
  • Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, visited the fair in summer of 1893.
  • A Wellesley College English teacher named Katharine Lee Bates visited the fair. The White City later inspired the reference to “alabaster cities” in her poem “America the Beautiful”.
  • The Exposition was extensively reported by Chicago publisher William D. Boyce‘s reporters and artists.
  • There is a very detailed and vivid description of all facets of this fair by the Persian traveler Mirza Mohammad Ali Mo’in ol-Saltaneh written in Persian. He departed from Persia on April 20, 1892, especially for the purpose of visiting the World’s Columbian Exposition.
  • Pierre de Coubertin visited the fair with his friends Paul Bourget and Samuel Jean de Pozzi. He devotes the first chapter of his book ” Souvenirs d’Amérique et de Grèce ” (1897) to the visit.
  • Scott Joplin, pianist, from Texarkana, Texas; became widely known for his piano playing at the fair.
  • Swami Vivekananda visited the fair to attend the Parliament of the World’s Religions and delivered his famous speech “Sisters and Brothers of America!”.
  • Sissieretta Jones, a soprano known as “the Black Patti” and an already-famous opera singer performed at the fair
  • Kubota Beisen was an official delegate of Japan. As an artist, he sketched hundreds of scenes, some of which were later used to make woodblock print books about the Exhibition.
  • Serial Killer Herman Mudgett (H. H. Holmes) attended the fair with two of his victims, Annie and Minnie Williams.
  • Joseph Douglass, classical violinist, who achieved wide recognition after his performance there and became the first African-American violinist to conduct a transcontinental tour and the first to tour as a concert violinist.

The fair also had hundreds of artists featured. From painters, sculptors, and a feature on women’s artists. To list or delve into those talents is beyond the scope of this post.

Mayor Carter Harrison

The fair ended with the city in shock, as popular mayor Carter Harrison, Sr. was assassinated by Patrick Eugene Prendergast two days before the fair’s closing. Closing ceremonies were canceled in favor of a public memorial service.

After the fair closed, J.C. Rogers, a banker from Wamego, Kansas, purchased several pieces of art that had hung in the rotunda of the U.S. Government Building. He also purchased architectural elements, artifacts and buildings from the fair. He shipped his purchases to Wamego. Many of the items, including the artwork, were used to decorate his theater, now known as the Columbian Theatre. Although not available for purchase, The George Washington University maintains a small collection of exposition tickets for viewing and research purposes. The collection is currently cared for by GWU’s Special Collections Research Center, located in the Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library.

Examples of exposition souvenirs can be found in various American museum collections as a way for everyone to remember the incredible World’s Columbian Exposition. One example, copyrighted in 1892 by John W. Green, is a folding hand fan with detailed illustrations of landscapes and architecture. Charles W Goldsmith produced a set of ten postcard designs, each in full colour, showing the buildings constructed for the exhibition. Columbian Exposition coins were also minted for the event. Similarly, the first pressed penny souvenir was a featured exhibit.

The Columbian Exposition has celebrated many anniversaries since the fair in 1893. The Chicago Historical Society held an exhibition to commemorate the fair. The Grand Illusions exhibition was centered around the idea that the Columbian Exposition was made up of a series of illusions. The commemorative exhibition contained partial reconstructions, a video detailing the fair, and a catalogue similar to the one sold at the World’s Fair of 1893.


For More Posts on the World’s Fairs:
The World’s Fair | A History
Seattle’s Architectural Icon: The Space Needle
A History of Pressed Pennies
The Columbian Exposition Coin that Challenged the Way a Nation Views Women
The First Commemorative Stamps
T
he 1933 Chicago World’s Fair Through Vintage Postcards
The 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair Exposition Seen Through Vintage Postcards


Traveling with Postcards: Atlantic City

Atlantic City Boardwalk

The Atlantic City Boardwalk opened on June 26, 1870, originally intended as a temporary structure erected for the summer season that was the first boardwalk in the United States. The Boardwalk starts at Absecon Inlet in the north and runs along the beach south-west to the city limit 4 miles away then continues 1 1⁄2 miles into Ventnor City. Casino/hotels front the boardwalk, as well as retail stores, restaurants, and amusements. Notable attractions include the Boardwalk Hall, House of Blues, and the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum.

The Boardwalk has been home to several piers over the years. The first pier, Ocean Pier, was built in 1882. It eventually fell into disrepair and was demolished. Another famous pier built during that time was Steel Pier, opened in 1898, which once billed itself as “The Showplace of the Nation”. It now operates as an amusement pier across from the Hard Rock. Captain John Lake Young opened “Young’s Million Dollar Pier” as an arcade hall in 1903, and on the seaward side “erected a marble mansion”, fronted by a formal garden, with lighting and landscaping designed by Young’s longtime friend Thomas Alva Edison. Young’s Million Dollar Pier, Atlantic City’s largest amusement pier during its time”, was transformed into a shopping mall in the 1980s, known as “Shops on Ocean One”. In 2006, the Ocean One mall was bought, renovated and re-branded as “The Pier Shops at Caesars” and in 2015, it was renamed “Playground Pier.” Garden Pier, located opposite Revel Atlantic City, once housed a movie theater, and is now home to the Atlantic City Historical Museum.

Lucy the Elephant

Lucy the Elephant is a six-story elephant-shaped example of novelty architecture, constructed of wood and tin sheeting in 1881 by James V. Lafferty in Margate City, New Jersey, approximately five miles south of Atlantic City. Originally named Elephant Bazaar, Lucy was built to promote real estate sales and attract tourists. Today, Lucy is the oldest surviving roadside tourist attraction in America.

Through the first half of the 20th century, Lucy served as a restaurant, business office, cottage, and tavern (the last closed by Prohibition). The building was depicted on many souvenir postcards, often referred to as “The Elephant Hotel of Atlantic City.” (The actual hotel was in a nearby building, not inside the elephant.)

By the 1960s, Lucy had fallen into disrepair and was scheduled for demolition. In 1969, Edwin T. Carpenter and a group of Margate citizens formed the Margate Civic Association, which later became the Save Lucy Committee under Josephine Harron and Sylvia Carpenter. They were given a 30-day deadline to move the edifice or pay for its demolition. Various fundraising events, the most successful a door-to-door canvass by volunteers, raised money.

On July 20,1970 Lucy was moved about 100 yards to the west-southwest to a city owned lot and completely refurbished. The move took about seven hours. The building’s original wooden frame was buttressed new steel, and the deteriorated howdah was replaced with a replica. A plug of green glass set into the howdah platform refracts light into Lucy’s interior.

Knife and Fork Inn

The Knife and Fork Inn is a restaurant located at the confluence of Atlantic and Pacific Avenues in Atlantic City, NJ which was first opened in 1912 as a private club by “the Commodore” Louis Kuehnle and then in 1927 “on the eve of prohibition” became an exclusive dining room catering to the municipalities’ upper echelons founded by the New York City hotelier Milton Latz.

Among the celebrities and power brokers who wined and dined there during its original run were entertainers such as Rosemary Clooney, Vic Damone and Bob Hope, as well as the casino mogul Steve Wynn and two former Governors of New Jersey, James Florio and Christine Todd Whitman. However it would be one specific mover and shaker later to be fictionalized in the HBO megahit series Boardwalk Empire, the Atlantic City power boss and racketeer, Enoch Nucky Johnson who would hold forth in an era in which then when portrayed would bring the Kife and Fork Inn newfound fame.

Although Babette’s Supper Club was not around in the earliest days of Prohibition as depicted in the aforementioned series, the Knife & Fork would have been the closest establishment to mirror the scenes which take place in Babette’s on the show at that time and indeed it was chosen to portray the other legendary long gone establishment in the series. In a later season of Boardwalk Empire, the Knife & Fork itself was mentioned and a facsimile was recreated for a major scene in the show.

Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel

The Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel was a historic resort hotel property in Atlantic City, NJ, built in 1902-1906, and sadly, demolished in October 1978.

In 1900, Josiah White III bought a parcel of land between Ohio Avenue and Park Place on the Boardwalk, and built the Queen Anne style Marlborough House. The hotel was financially successful and, in 1905, he chose to expand. White hired Philadelphia architect Will Price of Price and McLanahan to design a new, separate tower to be called the Blenheim. “Blenheim” refers to Blenheim Palace in England, the ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill, a grandson of the Duke of Marlborough.
In 1977 Reese Palley and local attorney and businessman Martin Blatt bought the Marlborough-Blenheim and planned to preserve the Blenheim half of the hotel, along with adjacent Dennis Hotel for his Park Place Casino. Palley was successful in getting the Blenheim part of the hotel placed on the National Register of Historic Buildings, while planning to raze the Marlborough to make way for a new modern hotel. Ten days later, he stepped aside when Bally Manufacturing purchased a controlling interest in the project. After Bally took control, they announced plans to raze the Marlborough-Blenheim and the adjacent Dennis Hotel, despite protests, to make way for the new “Bally’s Park Place Casino and Hotel”. However, in an effort to offset costs and get the casino opened as fast as they could they chose to keep the Dennis Hotel, which would serve as the temporary hotel for Bally’s until a new tower was built.

Bally demolished the wood-framed Marlborough with the conventional wrecking ball. For the Blenheim the company hired Controlled Demolition, Inc. (CDI) and Winzinger Incorporated of Hainesport New Jersey, which had taken down the Traymore Hotel, to implode the structure. A preservation group which had sought historic status for the building won a stay of execution for the Blenheim’s rotunda portion on the Boardwalk. It was separated from the rest of the hotel, which was imploded in the fall of 1978. Several months later its historic status was denied, the stay was lifted, and CDI finished the demolition January 4, 1979. It is not known if they sold the name Marlborough-Blenheim as well.


Click here to check out our range of Atlantic City & New Jersey Postcards available on eBay

The 1909 Pennsylvania Train Robbery

It’s 1909 and the Philadelphia mint just produced a fresh batch of coins. East of Lewistown, PA on Route 322 there is an area called the “narrows”, a five to six mile stretch where the mountain sides on both sides of the Juniata river are extremely steep. The highway is on the northern side of the river, and the railroad tracks are on the southern side.

The Lewistown “Narrows”

A train traveling from the Philadelphia mint to Pittsburgh was in the middle of the “narrows” the train was said to be stopped by a single man who had dynamite on the tracks. The train was carrying three large safes containing an undisclosed amount of currency and five bags holding about $6,000 in gold and silver bars, and money was stacked in a corner.

The engine had passed over three sticks of dynamite, which blew off the cowcatcher and headlight. The man then, robbed the train of several sacks of coins and disappeared up the mountainside.The robber threatened the crew and fired several shots at the conductor, Isaac Poffenberger, wounding his hand. The robber then ordered the crew to carry several large bags of coins into the woods, had them re-board the train and fired several shots as the train pulled away.

Example of a VDB

When investigators arrived at the scene, they found the bags still in the woods. The robber had passed up the gold and silver bars and snatched bags containing newly minted pennies. After an inventory was taken, it was realized that the only thing that was missing were several sacks of one cent coins! This man was rumored to be ”Pennsylvania’s Jesse James”, Jesse james would never be reported found.

A week after the search for Jesse James was officially called off, another robbery took place in the area, but it got little notice in the papers. On the 29th of October, a 38-year old man in Philadelphia walked into a police station and confessed to being the robber, but his story was soon found to be false. As time passed, the robbery became famous both for its daring style and for the fact that the bandit got away with so little. Many people came to visit the site of the robbery. One of the most notable visitors was Theodore Roosevelt. While on his whistle-stop campaign tour in 1912, he had his special train stop at the scene for him to inspect it personally.

It was discovered in 1954 that apparently the investigators overlooked some bags that were left in the nearby forest. In 1954, a couple of men were hunting on the mountain, and the one guy stepped, slipped and fell on pennies and they recovered over 3,500 1909 cents that had been laying there in the dirt for 45 years. They were all badly corroded, but were sold by local dealers as the find from the infamous railroad heist.

It has never officially been concluded that all the coins were found. Do you think it’s possible that some of these treasures could still lie in the Lewistown forest?

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Coin and Currency Sites to Visit on Your Vacation: UK Edition

If you are heading out on vacation or planning one in the near future; there’s no reason not to celebrate your hobby on the road! Here’s a list of coin- and currency-related attractions and exhibits that you can visit while traversing across the United Kingdom! And don’t forget to check out our part one, with stops in all 50 states and part two for travels in Canada.

Llantrisant, South Wales: Tour The Royal Mint and learn about over 1,100 years of coin history. At the mint you can strike your own Britannia 50 new pence and learn more about the detailed processes involved in producing a coin, the work that goes into it and the history behind Britain’s coinage. Plus more; with weekly events and it’s own cafe, the Royal Mint truly is a desirable destination for any numismatist.

Blaenafon, Wales: Go underground to a real coal mine at the Big Pit National Coal Museum. Learn about old mining families and have the blacksmith experience. From minting coins to casting swords, this coal mine has supplied Wales with raw materials for hundreds of years.

Glasgow, Scotland: The University of Glasgow features The Hunterian museum, home to many fascinating exhibits and artifacts.The Hunterian is Scotland’s oldest public museum and home to over a million magnificent items ranging from meteorites to mummies and Mackintosh. Within this diverse collection you will find astounding artefacts, amazing art and an astonishing array of animal life. Including a huge variety of gold and base metal denominations produced by Byzantine mints in the exhibit: “Byzantium: A Golden Era of Coinage”. Admission is free!

Byzantine coins

Belfast, Northern Ireland: Visit the Ulster Museum to discover a unique human story of this part of Ireland and collections that will take you to all corners of the globe. Things to see include medals such as the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize and as a temporary exhibit discover buried treasure hoards from across the UK.

London, England: In the heart of London you can stop by The Bank of England Museum. Inside the museum you can pick up a gold bar and discover why the building is on top of one the world’s’ largest stores of gold. You’ll learn why people started to use paper money and how the Bank of England makes their notes difficult to copy.

Learn what the Bank of England does and how this affects the average citizen. Find out how they work to keep prices stable (the cost of things like food, televisions and train tickets). At the heart of our museum is the ‘Stock Office’ and this shows what the inside of the Bank of England would have looked like 200 hundred years ago.

Goldsmith’s Hall

London, England: Check in with the Goldsmith’s Hall to see if there are any open days where you can get a tour. Goldsmith’s Hall is where the Trial of Pyx is held every year.

The Trial of the Pyx (pronounced pIks) is a procedure in the United Kingdom for ensuring that newly minted coins conform to the required standards. These trials have been held from the thirteenth century to the present day, normally once per calendar year.

The Hall itself was erected in 1634-6 and restored after the Great Fire of 1666. It lasted for almost two centuries, but was eventually demolished in the late 1820s. The present Hall, by Philip Hardwick, remains much as he designed it, although there have been changes to the decorative schemes and the use of rooms.

The Hall narrowly escaped complete destruction when in 1941 a bomb exploded inside the south-west corner. Faithfully restored on the exterior after the War and internally modified, it retains much of the charm of an urban palazzo. A major refurbishment which was completed in 1990 has further adapted this great building for the 21st century.

Woburn, England: What’s a visit to England if you don’t have some afternoon tea? When going to the Woburn Abbey and Gardens you can view various numismatic exhibits  and sit down for tea the Duchess’ Tea Room. Explore over 22 rooms such as The Silver and Gold Vaults and the Holland Library. Numismatic materials are incorporated into several of the permanent displays.