Monday, March 31, 2014

George Washington medal from New York's 100th anniversary of his inauguration in 1889 .

There was a massive celebration in New York City to honor the 100th anniversary of Washington's inauguration there on April 30, 1789. This medal was cast as many others were at that time. What is interesting about this medal is it honors Washington on one side and shows the Brooklyn Bridge on the other as the eighth wonder of the world. A unique piece of history from 125 years ago.

John Brown..Written by James Redpath in 1859 and published in 1860. One of the first major writings on Brown.

This book was written from the direct conversation with John Brown in 1857 and in his last days. The book was endorsed by Brown's widow and son. The author James Redpath, was a fiery abolitionist and was involved with working to get support for John Brown in Boston. This was at the recommendation of John Brown himself. At the time this was a hotbed of the anti-slavery crowd. Most of the monies made from this book, which is very sympathetic to Brown went to his wife and family. I have added the first few pages of this rare book and let you read yourself some of the raw feelings that were afoot in 1860. This book of course was written before the Civil War. At the time of John Brown's raid in 1859, his actions set off a chain of events that shook the slave owning community to it's core. 

It is interesting that the fledgling Republican party and of course Lincoln stayed as far away from this as possible. Brown was passionate and misguided. But his actions and thoughts were in line and would be one of the factors that would lead to war. The military panel that judged him was lead by Robert E. Lee. Of course Redpath mentions nothing about Lee here as at the time he was not a major figure. What is interesting here is that Redpath mentions George Washington's actions a lot. Of course in the thought of his actions against the British during the revolution. Robert E. Lee, who would be in charge of the execution of Brown was Washington's step great grandson through marriage.  

Redpath would be the author and ghostwriter for many books. Oddly, he would be the ghost writer for Jefferson Davis's autobiography and history of the Confederacy.     

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Civil War Tokens 1863-1864

Here are a few examples of Civil War tokens. Mostly made between 1863-64. All of them by private groups. The Civil War Token was based on the size of the one cent piece, which was hard to find at the time. This is why they were made.. They would be valued at one or two cents. Although it was truly not legal tender, as it was not made by the government. These coins would be made illegal in 1864. But for a year or so they were used as currency. The coins were made in the size of the new styled one cent coin. The flying Eagle cent (1856-1858) and the Indian Head 1859-1909) which are pictured right below this. After this you will see a few tokens that deal with the war. On the coins are things we recognize, such as the USS. Monitor and Abraham Lincoln. Others have the flag, oaths, threats, and even a nice picture of  the bust of Liberty in 1863.  They are interesting to look at and see what was money in 1863-64...During the height of the Civil War..

Our first one cent coins were even larger than today's quarters. Not too easy to carry them around. But one cent was a lot of money then, and you would not have too many with you anyway. Look at these...

The first one cent coins made in the USA were huge. They contained near a cent's worth of copper. Also based on the Penny which comes from England. The nations early coins tried to look like other currencies. I thought I would put a few examples of one cents coins. The production of the large coin ended in 1857. These coins would be replaced by the smaller sized Flying Eagle, which were the size of the modern one cent piece. Here I have five different styles of one cent pieces. All of them were made in the Philadelphia mint.

Shown here are a 1798, 1803, 1818, 1841, 1856. All are different and unique. Today when our one cent piece is made of zinc and coated with copper. It brings back the memory of a time when not only were the one cent pieces almost totally copper, but three times the size of a modern penny.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

A most unusual Spanish Mill Dollar, otherwise known as 8 Reals or Pieces of Eight.

This most unusual coin from 1797 was made by the government of Spain in Mexico. Mexico was under the control of Spain and also the Spanish were using the Silver found in the areas around Mexico and other parts of Central America.

 This type of coin was made for hundreds of years and would become the world's currency. In fact, many of these coins were made in Central America and then loaded onto Spanish Galleons. These ships would bring the silver to Spain where it would be used for many things. Specially to fund many of the activities of Spain at the time.. Many of the ships did not make it and sank with their most valuable cargoes. This happened many times and ships are still being found with this most precious cargo.  For every ship that was lost, many more made it and brought over to Spain millions of these coins over the years.

 These coins became as I said the standard currency of the world. The United States used these type coins to fund the American Revolution. They would also be legal tender in the United States till 1856. The silver dollar was based on this coin. In fact many of the coins in the United States were based on the Spanish coins of the period.. The 8 Reals was the basis for the silver dollar. it is the same size. The 4 Reals was the model for the half dollar and was the same size. Lastly, the two Reals was the model for the quarter and was the same size.

What's more about these coins and specially this one. Is that these coins traveled the world. On many ships going all over. This very coin you can see was in use for a while in China. It has what are called "chop marks" on it. These marks are Chinese characters that would be stamped on the coin to show it was a true silver coin. Every merchant in China would mark them. That is why this coin is so marked. This coin was from Mexico, was brought to Spain, was put into circulation and found itself in China. Where else it has been is only a mystery. But this is the best way to demonstrate how this coin was the currency of the world. 


A very well traveled 8 Reals coin from the Kingdom of Spain and currency of the world till the 19th century. So often we read about such coins in history, but rarely get to see them.  This is truly history in the raw, the real thing.

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25, 1963

The world has changed a lot in the half century since I was sitting with my mother watching the funeral of JFK. I have said pretty much everything I remember of those days. But one more thing to mention. The world changed on those cold, frightening days of November of 1963.
 I had lost my hero, everything in the world seemed a little less secure. For the boy who I was, it would never be quite the same.

 I was interested in the press conferences. My grandfather would watch them and make comments to me. I watched several of the press conferences with him. It was such a rare thing to hear people laughing at a press conference.

The death of the President was one that shook much of the world to its foundation. I cannot to this day think of another President who had such a connection to the people. It was the last time that a President would talk about the ancient Romans and Greeks. It was the last President who used history as a backdrop.

I am not sure if many of our later Presidents know much of anything about ancient Rome or Greece. JFK wanted to be a history teacher, or college professor. He loved and lived history. I am convinced to this day that he influenced me as a boy to follow history.

I was able to teach for a few years and it was a warm full circle to have one of JFK's great nephews in my class. He and I talked of his great uncle. Neither of us had ever met him, but we and mainly he was engulfed in his legacy.

 I got to meet many who were around him, Senator Edward Kennedy, Caroline, his daughter, President Gerald R. Ford and several others. Ford told me that he and Kennedy shared an office in their early days in the congress. Sometimes they would take late night walks together. Little did either know that they would both be President and that both of them would be very much involved in terrible points in the countries history.

I sat for those dark days in November at home. I watched the first all day news programs that started at the time of this all. I can still hear in my mind the sounds of the muffled drums as it radiated from the speaker of the black and white TV we watched on. I was already starting my interest in history. I even had a book on JFK made while alive. But I started to study more after that. I am glad we had a historian and not an academic as President. Academics never make for good leaders, and end up leaving disasters in their wake.

But as I write this 50 years to the day I heard those muffled drums, and came to realize that my hero was no more. I closed up my little office in my room in which I used to pretend I was President Kennedy and write bills and sign papers. Bought all the newspapers I could. Then I followed a path to studying history.

I was at Arlington Cemetery in mid 2010.  I stopped several places as I walked that rather rainy day. There were few people there and I was surrounded by those who had influenced history. I finally worked my way to JFK's and Jackie's graves. I stood before his grave and said audibly, "Thank you". Little did you know how much you influenced the mind and career of a young boy.

Fifty years ago, the world and my life changed forever.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The John F. Kennedy assassination. The body, the brain and the casket.. My own theories on much of the confusion.

Now just when we have thought we had heard it all, there are new theories on the assassination. There was even a theory out not long ago saying Jackie did it with a pistol. Well, of course I think much of this is all poppycock. To be honest 99.9% is all nonsense. But there is truth to be found here and there.

 I have a theory on the assassination and why there is a so much confusion over everything.  While I do  have some issues over the shooting, I have large number of issues with what happened after in the autopsy. While the shooting may not have been done by just one person. This was the first part of the insistent push for the removal of the body. Secondly, Kennedy's body was a political landmine.  If any of his many medical problems were let out it would have tremendous consequences on the political system and how he was elected in the first place with all of his medical issues. The autopsy for several reasons needed to be in a controlled environment.

The Autopsy ..This is where much happens.

It is now common knowledge that Kennedy had "Addison's Disease". It is common knowledge today that he was on so many medications, some good and many very bad. Lastly it is common knowledge that he had a vast array of sexually contracted diseases. Due to his incessant sexual forays with call girls, prostitutes, and anyone else who he felt was needed for his pleasure.

He also had other problems that no one in power, or his family wanted anyone else to know.. So much of the confusion and the odd occurrences at the autopsy was to allow them to remove and change much of the medical evidence, and perhaps the wounds. This is where all the issues and problems arise.

Kennedy lived in a very frail eggshell of enclosure. Had much or for that matter any of this information been made public at the time it would have destroyed not only the faith in the election process, but also the legacy of who Kennedy was. His image was one of great vigor and health. While the true story was one of a man of uncertain health, and an array of potentially deathly problems.

So while the the medical team in Dallas was finishing the work on the body there was a frantic push by the Kennedy team to get the body back to Washington DC and not have a Pathologist in Dallas do the autopsy.

 Had they done it in Dallas a number of odd facts and medical abnormalities would have been found.

 This is where all the problems begin. Because now that JFK was dead, it became the sole objective of his family and staff to hide all of the evidence of his illnesses.

I have felt that many people are concerned with the shooting and think of that as the conspiracy. But I am thinking that much of the conspiracy stands with the US Government, Kennedy team, and family and friends to get the body out of the hands of anyone who could not be controlled.

In a way this action also controlled the Warren Commission.  There were large holes of information carefully kept from them, much through a really badly run and monitored autopsy. Even the head medical pathologist at JFK's autopsy said he burned all of his notes. Lastly no information about the autopsy was given to them in the way of photos or medical information. They relied on drawings and written testimonies. Hence the drawings were flawed and this started a hornets nest of activity about it being faked. There were too many problems to hide.

The main reason that they did not see the info on the autopsy was that Robert Kennedy did not let them see it. I can once again see him protecting his brothers legacy, but this was going much too far. Also Robert was aware that the assassination was larger than stated and was far more involved than what they needed the Warren Commission to speculate on.  The Warren Commission was designed to just put a lid on this boiling cauldron.

The adrenal glands were removed from the body. Also while doing the study of the body the various and apparent signs of venereal disease were stripped from the record. No information on what was in the blood as that would list a frightening array of mind altering compounds.

This is what causes the many things that have haunted this event ever since. He was protecting the image of the President, but these actions backfired!

That is why the autopsy was done in a strange way, that is why the adrenal glands were removed, that is why the sexual infections of the President were recorded and observed and the notes destroyed. Much like the FDR's doctor did on his death. His personal physician burned all of FDR's medical notes, as it would show what was really wrong and how sick he was.

Much the same could be said of Kennedy, and you can just imagine the horror that was felt by those in control in Washington that the body may end up somewhere and for that fact, not in a controlled environment. So once the body comes to Washington the autopsy sanitizes everything.
His brain was removed as were many slides of tissue samples. They were kept in a locker at the National Archives. Two people were known to have keys for it. Evelyn Lincoln (JFK's personal secretary) and Robert Kennedy.

By 1966 the locker was emptied of all things dealing with the autopsy. Also the casket that JFK was returned to Washington in was also kept at the National Archives. It was removed by the actions of Robert Kennedy, and in a special action by the US government was holed and sunk in the North Atlantic in 1966.

What was in it, who knows?  No one ever will..

 But that would be a perfect place and action to get rid of evidence. I have heard that RFK buried the brain when his brothers casket was moved in 1967, then why not move the brain out of the locker in 1967, why 1966?

 In my mind and imagination the rest of JFK's body was buried in 10 thousand feet of water in the North Atlantic. That makes a hell of a lot of sense to me.

Everyone was looking at the shooting, not what going on in keeping the many problems the president had, a secret. So was it a conspiracy? A conspiracy to hide information, fake facts, and change the history and story around so much that no one knew what was true or not.

I would think that Robert Kennedy was much involved in protecting his brothers legacy, and destroying and hiding evidence of anything that would harm his late brothers image. That was his job when his brother was alive to hide, destroy, and clean up the picture so his brother looked good.

 So much was tampered with, much was deliberately destroyed and of course this worked hand in hand with the assassination theorists, who were more focused on the shooting than what was being destroyed and covered up at the autopsy. It was done badly, so it left a lot of questions which worked well in the hands of conspiratorial theorists. Because if there is one question that cannot be answered clearly, you have the routes of conspiracy.

I can understand to a degree what can happen if information is passed onto the public dealing with a popular President and a past that was not as what was thought. Warren G. Harding was very much like JFK in that regard.
What finished Harding off was that he had no protectors. He did not have a brother who was Attorney General. His history and his past was cast to the wolfs and his legacy was destroyed. Not that he was a bad president, but one who was not protected after death.

So now as we come closer to the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination.  I expect to hear lots about the assassination.

 But, little about what was frantically done in a Bethesda Medical Centers operating room to protect and preserve a legacy.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Victor Talking Machine Companies 1902 Plaid label. Put out in late 1902 and never repeated as it was very hard to read.

There is very scant information on this record label. I can say it is very rare and was issued not for a long time.  It's existence is not known by many in the record collecting world. The recording was made on July 16, 1902. It was titled Scotland's Pride and was performed by the Kilties Band of Canada. The band was under the direction of William F. Robinson. This band made a series of recordings in 1902 and their labels in their first issue looked like this.

As to where the recording was made I would guess it was made in Philadelphia. But that is a guess as I cannot find anything as to where this record was made. However, I have found information that the Kilties Band of Canada was doing concerts at Willow Grove Park in Pennsylvania on July 12, 1902.  Since this recording was made on July 16, 1902. It makes sense that it was Philadelphia.  The record was first issued in 1902 with the fancy, hard to read plaid label. It was afterwards put out with a black label that was readable. This early and quite rare recording is one of the more unique labels put out by the Victor Company. I moved it around as best as I could to make a scan of it.

Here you will see an example of a Victor record and also a Berliner Gramophone record in Canada. Both wearing the same type of plaid label. In the case of the Canadian record, it is far easier to read as everything is printed in black. For the Victor company, they used the same gold lettering and picture as they did on the black and red labels. However in that case they are readable. This record for Victor is very unreadable and would soon disappear.