On October 28, 1964 Al Overton wrote a scathing 3-page letter to Margo Russell, executive editor of Coin World. He labeled it Confidential no portion to be published. Overton feared that Coin World would publish or take sides in two disputes then brewing between Overton and numismatic luminaries John Ford, Walter Breen and Don Taxay. Overton pulled no punches in the opening paragraph of the letter:
First Ford, then Breen, now Taxay, surely you know this trio are all of the same voice and same caliber. They ignore facts, twist the truth and perpetuate falseness. In my opinion, they all are a discredit to justice and to Numismatics.
What was going on? Two things. First, Overton had a theory regarding the 1823 Broken 3. He proposed that the punch for the date was altered from an 1822 date punch. He spells out this idea in his description of the 1823 Broken 3 in his 1967 1st edition and 1970 2nd edition. Don Parlsey included it in the 1990 3rd revised edition but dropped it in the 4th and 5th editions. The “unholy trio” (Overton’s words in the letter) had different ideas which, in Overton’s view, did not deserve to be published. Overton’s second bone of contention was over the question, “Who is to be credited with discovery of the 1817/4 half-dollar?” Was it E.T. Wallis in 1930 or Al Overton in 1952? Overton takes the position that his efforts brought the coin to light while Wallis allowed the flame to die by not allowing it to be photographed or offering “unbiased” opinions of authenticity after posting an announcement in the October 1930 Numismatist.
Page 3 of the letter consists of a “PS” to Ms. Russell: You may know I withdrew my resignation from P.N.G. in view of four basic changes for which I was fighting, plus written request from the president and board that I withdraw it.
This lot consists of Overton’s carbon copy of the 3-page letter to Margo Russell, including handwritten additions and interlineations.
Sheridan Downey, Numismatist 4400 Keller Ave.,
Suite 140, PMB 398 Oakland, California 94605 firstname.lastname@example.org (510) 479-1585