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Hobby greats at new museum opening

NN1205newman.jpgA Saturday visit to the just-opened Newman Money Museum in St. Louis chanced to find its namesake, Eric P. Newman, (at far right in picture) present, along with another fellow who recently had a money museum named after him, Edward C. Rochette (at left in picture).
Newman was pleased to show off the freshly completed, 3,000-square-foot museum, which was formally dedicated Oct. 25.
Seated at a table amid book-laden shelves in a wood-paneled, Victorian-style library complete with Wooten mail desk and rail-mounted rolling ladder to access upper levels, Newman beamed as he discussed the museum.
?They worked day and night? in the period leading up to the opening, Newman and his wife Evelyn said.
?They wisely kept me away for about three weeks before the opening. They knew that if I?d been here, I?d have been rearranging and organizing things.?
In particular he referred to the library, a separate room to the side of the main museum room, which houses about a third of Newman?s numismatic library. Works spotted range from the mid-1800s up to recent releases such as Fred L. Reed?s Show Me the Money, about prop paper money used in film productions. The shelves had been filled with books for the opening, but not in any useful order.
?There are a few things in the cases? that will require some attention as well, he said, referring to the material on exhibit.
For that, Newman will work with with curator Thomas Serfass.
The museum features 14 displays inset in the walls, and roughly the same number of exhibits within angle-topped counter display cabinets, all custom built for the museum.
Topics range from Ben Franklin and money to errors, odd denominations, counterfeits and fakes, Native Americans on money, the art of paper money, Hard Times tokens, money scales and counting machines, how coins are created and, of course, the money of Missouri, which includes what is called the first image of St. Louis ? and it appeared on a bank note.
?I?ve been so lucky that this material has fallen to me,? Newman commented. ?And I?ve been helped by many friends and by my family? over the years.
The Newman Money Museum is housed in the lower level of the also newly built Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, 1 Brookings Drive, near the intersections of Skinker and Forsythe Boulevards, on the campus of Washington University.
Admission is free.
The popular St. Louis Museum of Art is on a hill about a half mile away. If you go by cab, make sure your driver knows which art museum you seek. Or plan to visit both, with a nice walk between.
To make an appointment for research at the Newman museum, or to schedule a guided tour, contact Serfass by telephone, (314) 935-9595.

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