Notes on The Beverly Roman Coins
By Richard Flavin

     A week and a half before Columbus Day 2005 I was approached by the new editor and main writer for North Shore Sunday (a free, weekly Northeastern Massachusetts newspaper) for ideas and background information on claims of Pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact between the Old and New worlds, specifically (if possible) concerning theories and evidence which involve Massachusetts’ towns and sites north of Boston.

     The published story, “Goodbye Columbus,” contains many inaccuracies and typos, but new information about the infamous Beverly Roman Coins is introduced (though much more was suppressed from publication). (Taormina 2005)  The NSS writer expressed a fleeting interest in the coins and on Oct. 3, 2005, Monday morning, I telephoned the Beverly Historical Society and Museum for information.

     The Fates regarded me favorably by having the Museum’s director, Stephen P. Hall, answer the telephone while checking the mail, though the Society itself is closed on Mondays.  He somewhat recalled the coins, balked at tracking them down between three Society owned buildings, but seemed sufficiently intrigued by potential publicity to promise that he’d assign a 70 year volunteer to track down clippings, files, photographs and the like the first thing the next day.  Tuesday, by noon, I was promised to know what they knew.

     A local colleague had a vague recollection of the claim, online newsgroup and forum mentions were without background information, and I became profoundly grieved by the perverse usage of the Beverly Roman Coins by the British neo-Nazi Christian Identity movement and American radical Baptist churches to support their individual revisions of history by citing a controversial claim not entirely investigated or understood.  Gosh, I thought nearly everyone understood Roman coins and the like up and down the coasts of both North and South America to be from ballast dumping before taking on cargo.  Better stop using “Gosh.”  BTW, there appeared to be several dozen claims by local treasure hobbyists using metal detectors for finds of other Roman coins up and down the New England coast, including some, I believe, being offered on E-Bay.  Also, there was couple of odd online mentions that New England farmers went through a brief early 20th century period when a small hoard (cache) of Roman coins were claimed to have been dug up on their farms (paralleling, after a fashion, Williams’ undocumented statement in his textbook, Fantastic Archaeology, that in the late 19th century every farmer in the Midwest was claiming to have discovered inscribed stones on their farms). (Williams 1991; “Tales the Rude Monuments Tell”)

     I called Steve Hall at the Beverly Historical Society and Museum, a little after noon, and he informed me that he’d personally looked into the claim.  He began by saying that he’d Googled both the principal person involved with the claim (Jim Whittall) and myself and we’d appeared together in my online “Falling Into Burrows' Cave” piece (which I apologized for).  He gathered from what he read that I was a skeptic and we continued.

     First, he shared an incident from his boyhood he believed had direct bearing on the claim and to his best understanding as to how those particular four Roman coins came to Beverly.  Steve said: "While attending grade school in the early 1950s, (the Hardie Grammar School was located on Beverly Common) I took part of my Dad's coin collection to school for 'show & tell.'  This consisted of two folders of 19th century Indian Head pennies.  On the way home later that day the paper bag I was carrying them in had a hole in the bottom and coins that were in blue folders came loose in the bag and a few (less than 5) fell out.  Although I retraced my steps I could not find these missing Indian Head pennies whose dates ranged from 1869 - 1890."

     Second, he said he’d found the actual four Roman Coins earlier that morning, they were encased in plastic and that photo publication rights would cost fifty bucks.  As I wasn’t actually writing the North Shore Sunday story, I begged off (though I did admit to getting back at some future point with cash from my own pocket for a photo for my personal collection or usage).  Photographs of coins similar to the four Beverly Roman Coins are reproduced below (the photographers are unknown to me and are used without permission).  THESE ARE NOT THE ACTUAL COINS!

Constantius II (r. 337-340)                                    Valentianus I (r. 364-375)

Valens (r. 364-378)                                              Gratian (r. 375-383)

     Hall told me on the telephone that in a 1991 letter from Whittall to the Society that Jim indicated "the coins were found on the Beverly Common," not a beach. (Whittall 1991)  In Hall's words, "The Beverly Common is some 50-60 feet above sea level, is located on one side of Dane Street, and is more than 300 yards inland and up a steep elevation from the (Dane Street) beach.  It's a beautiful green park complete with bandstand and flagpole and sits in front of the public library and to the side of Central Cemetery.  Dane Street Beach is located on Lothrop Street, not Dane Street.  Dane Street runs perpendicular to the beach, connects at Lothrop in front of Dane Street beach house, and thus the street and beach share the old Beverly surname.  The Beverly Common was a common grazing land area established in the early 1600s and was also the site of 'militia drilling' from 1640's onward, well into the 20th century.  This land was 'high and dry.'"

     With Whittall's letter, Hall insists it's "not possible that 'ship ballast dumping' could have landed on the Beverly Common unless some Noah-like biblical flood occurred between 380 AD and 1978 that we don't know about!"

     At some point, probably shortly after the discovery, John Doe took the coins to Pratt’s Hobby Shop in Georgetown.  Whittall was coincidently in the shop when John Doe was having the Roman coins appraised (trying to sell them?) and Jim overheard, intervened, and acquired the coins.  Whittall gave the four Roman coins to the Beverly Historical Society and Museum in 1991 (along with a letter of background information), though it's unclear if they were given encased in plastic or this was done by the Society.

     Steve, speaking on behalf of the Society, says in all likelihood the coins were lost by one collector and found by another.  As the four Roman coins show Constantine II 337-340, Valentinian I 364-375, Valens 364-378, and Gratian 375-383, they do seem to be grouped closely together.  The coins are brass and copper, the lowest of denominations and are available for chump change on the collectors market.  I may well own some myself.

     I have memories of several dismissals of this find as ballast dumping.  I also recall a couple of citations with the Beverly Roman Coins as the leading example of ballast dumping in North America.  My memory may be off in this, but I'll attempt support when I have more time.

     Immediately after ending my conversation with Hall, I tried to reach the owner of Pratt’s Hobby Shop.  An employee said that it was the owner’s day off, to try back after ten the next morning and wouldn’t be coaxed into slipping a home or cell number.

     I continued to disagree with the NSS writer on the direction of a potential Columbus Day article--an insistence that a mention be made of a hundred year old self-published book which claimed that Gloucester was Vinland and that Leif’s brother, Thorvald, was buried near the Gorton’s fish-stick plant, brought out the hyper-skeptic in me.  And, I knew my true influence on the story was deep background and even point-by-point factual corrections would be ignored.  I wasn’t the author of the story, my name would be tacked on to the end as a contributor, and I was again between rocks.  When I’d previously researched and updated the history and development of a local Common, I’d benefitted from a local library, still had an active card and account, and Tuesday evening checked out America B.C., an ex-PBS assistant science editor’s popular Columbus Was Last (which the NSS writer had read of online, mentioned, and didn’t flinch when informed it was pop-science with plagiarism), 1421 by Menzies, Holand’s Explorations In America Before Columbus, and a general book on controversies and claims surrounding Columbus and his personal history and background.  I put five books in the NSS writer’s hands.

     Wednesday morning, the NSS writer telephoned Peter Pratt, the owner of Pratt’s Hobby Shop, and spoke about the Beverly Roman Coins.  I didn’t make the call, heard one-sided silliness, coughed, spoke out loud a few times with corrections, and even vocally offered suggestions a couple of times.  It wasn't my conversation.  I gave the NSS writer a thin, pocket notebook to jot things down on.  The NSS writer ended the conversation with a promise to visit soon with a friend that would enjoy speaking with him.

     The NSS writer repeated to me (and I have the actual notes in my notebook), that it was Pratt’s opinion that the Beverly Roman Coins were actually found on Ipswich Bay’s Plum Island (the other side of Cape Ann from Beverly).  According to the NSS writer, Pratt said the “Beverly story” was to hide the “true” location from other treasure hobbyists (the NSS writer's notes uses the word "diversion").  From my one-sided hearing, Pratt liked pirates and supported desperate sea-thieves stashing their treasure before John Law got there.  Pirates; ...ARG!


The Beverly Common; © 2005 RDF. Google Maps Image: available here

      The section of North Shore Sunday's feature article “Goodbye Columbus” which mentions the Beverly Roman Coins is:

Gladiators on Cabot Street

     Around the same time that Fell was spreading the word about the Irish, a scavenger combing Beverly's Dane Street Beach with a metal detector hit some historical paydirt.
     Just a few yards from the water, the treasure hunter allegedly found a set of ancient Roman coins minted between 337 A.D. and 383 A.D.
     "Because the coins were all found in one spot and because they all came from the same era, it's unlikely they were accidentally lost by a collector," says popular science writer Patrick Huyghe in his book, "Columbus Was Last."
     Fell is even more emphatic. "The only explanation is that these coins are coming from a money chest of a merchant ship carrying current coins in use around 375 A.D.," he writes.
     There are some compelling reasons to believe the Romans made voyages to the New World well before 1492. The Roman Empire had some big ships and some bad attitude. They owned the Mediterranean, but they were always on the lookout for more people, places and things to conquer.
     And coins aren't they only evidence Romans may have made the trip. The coastlines of Central and South America are littered with Roman pottery and scraps of Roman sculpture. One site in Brazil has several underwater shipwrecks that some speculate may be Roman.
     All things are possible and it's not entirely beyond belief that the Romans reached the finish line before Columbus. There is, however, a simpler explanation that may account for the Beverly coins. All ships dredge up water and silt into their holds as they travel through channels and ports. That sludge and whatever is mixed with it is pumped out when the boats reach their destination. The Beverly coins could have been picked up by any trade ship with a European-to-New England route and dumped on the Beverly coast.
     Peter Pratt, a coin dealer from Georgetown, has another explanation. Pratt, who found his own Roman coin on Plum Island in Newburyport, says his such [sic] finds were part of treasures plundered by pirates. As for the Romans landing before Columbus, "It's all heresy," says Pratt. (Taormina 2005; pp. 4 and 5)

     I won’t line-correct the above; what’s done  Some comment, however, is necessary.  Pratt insisted to the writer that the Beverly Roman Coins were actually found on Plum Island and the Beverly location was a cover-story to throw off other treasure hunters.  This information was not included in the North Shore Sunday story.

     The principals behind the Beverly Roman Coins are John Doe (an unnamed local treasure hunter), Peter Pratt (a hobby shop owner and old coin dealer), James P. Whittall, Jr. (who acquired the coins and first wrote about them), and Stephen P. Hall, director of the Museum, and the person responsible for the coins after Whittall gave the coins to the Society in 1991.  That Whittall and Hall aren’t mentioned is grossly irresponsible.  No mention of Pratt’s counter-claim as to the true location of the discovery is a missed opportunity.

     Such laziness and ambiguity feeds ignorance and worse.  One website that mentions the Beverly Roman Coins is that of Open-Bible Ministries.  “At Beverly, Massachusetts, Roman coins from the 4th century have been washed onto the beach from an off-shore shipwreck, bearing the images of Valentinianus I, Gratianus, Valens and Constantius II,” from:

     Also from the website: “Open-Bible Ministries is based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is the voice of Israel-Identity believers in Ulster. It's director, Alan Campbell, has authored over 40 Bible study booklets and has lectured extensively on Protestant and Prophetic platforms throughout the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and the United States. Open-Bible Ministries teaches the national historicist interpretation of Bible Prophecy and is dedicated to the proclamation of the full Gospel of the Kingdom setting forth the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, Healer, Baptiser in the Holy Spirit and soon coming King. It also seeks to declare the identity of the Celto-Anglo-Saxon peoples as the Israel of God and earnestly contend for the Reformation faith and heritage of these same peoples.”

     Hate-driven punks and wannabe Nazis.

     Another mention of the Beverly Roman Coins is by the British-Israel Church of God (6 Hawstead Cres Brooklin, Ontario Canada) website.  It’s stated that “Evidence of two other ancient shipwrecks exists, one off Beverly Massachusetts and another off the coast of Texas.”  See:

      They describe themselves online with: “Who Are We? *The British-Israel Church of God's loyalty is pledged to Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of Israel, the Savior of Men. *The Bible as the ever-living word of God *To the Throne of David as established within the British Commonwealth of Nations *Aims: To preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to all nations. *To follow Christ's commission to "go to the lost sheep of the House of Israel (Matthew 10:6). And to do the work of the Watchman to the House of Israel (Ezekiel 33). *To preach and teach the truth about the true identity of the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples, that we are God's covenant people.  *To prove all things to all people. *To teach other doctrines of the Christian faith, such as the Sabbath, Holy Days, and the very purpose of Human Life!  What We are Not!  *We are not associated with any identity movements. *We do not teach to excommunicate yourself from the rest of the world. We want our congregation to be a part of their community to share the Gospel with other people when asked first. *We do not teach to force our religion upon other people.  *We do not teach to follow any one man, but teach that Jesus Christ is the head of the church, and to be followers of him.  *We do not teach the end of the world. We believe that Christ BEFORE man destroys this world. comes and saves the world from utter destruction. *We are not associated with any white supremacist groups. Racism and anti-Semitism is wrong, and the Bible plainly says that its wrong. The Anglo-Saxon-Celtic people are God's chosen NOT favorite people. They are God's chosen nation, chosen for Service and responsibility to this world and the next world to come.”

     Nazis in denial...

     The Canadian hate-group probably plagiarized from Salim George Khalaf, a Lebanese-American from North Carolina, who maintains a pagan website about Phoenicians and accepts claims of Pre-Columbian voyages by the Phoenicians and Romans to the New World.  He writes that “Evidence of other ancient shipwrecks exists, in particular a Punic vessel located off the coast of Honduras as well as one found ‘deeply buried in sand’ in Mexico in the 19th century, another which is as yet unidentified off the coast of Texas as well as what was probably a Roman trading vessel off Beverly Massachusetts.”  See:

     Regarding the Texas claim, some believe that rather than through Norse and Native American trading or ballast dumping by post-Columbian ships, “drift voyages” are a possibility due to an analogy with evidence of unmanned Japanese junks crossing the Pacific. (New York Times 1978)

     No one can prevent the misuse of information, but many writers, researchers, historians and the like discipline themselves to get it as right as possible.  The North Shore Sunday Columbus Day story was pure fluff (read: crap).

     On Thursday afternoon, when consulted by the NSS writer for a caption description of a photograph of the Leif Erikson statue in Boston, I got upset at the suggestion Leif was “looking” at Fenway Park.  In my “Dolmen Doldrums” article, I wrote: “Prof. Eben Horsford (chemistry, Harvard), the inventor of baking powder, believed Leif Erikson sailed up the Charles River and that the ‘Norumbega’ of 16th century cartography is the area where Newton, Waltham, and Weston meet.  Horsford paid for a statue of Leif to be erected on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall at Charlesgate East in Boston in 1887, by famed sculptress, Anne Whitney, so his conception of ‘history’ would be honored and not forgotten.”  The published caption reads: “We don’t know where he landed or what he saw, but most people believe Viking explorer Leif Ericson reached the coast of North America hundreds of years before Columbus was born.  In Boston, Leif’s statue is on Comm. Ave just before Kenmore Square where he’s peering out in the direction of Fenway Park, maybe looking for a Red Sox win.”  Damn!

     Statue: 1887.  The Boston Red Sox were incorporated into the American League in 1901 (the team was bought as the Buffalo Bisons from Washington state in 1900).  Fenway Park began construction in September 1911 and the first game was played on 4-20-1912.  The North Shore Sunday with the Columbus Day article was released Oct. 7, 2005 with a cover date of Oct. 9, 2005.  On Oct. 8th the Red Sox ended their season by losing to the Chicago White Sox.  I’m sure during the week after Oct. 9th, 2005 that many sad Red Sox fans didn't feel good about the caption reference.

     And, besides, Leif is looking at Vinland, as shown in a base-relieve sculpture on the base of the statue.  Fluff or purposeful inaccuracy?

     What follows is my best reconstruction of the history of the Beverly Roman Coins.  Updates and changes will be made as needed.

The Beverly Roman Coins by Malcolm Pearson.  Used without permission. (Fell 1980; pp. 31 and 124)

  Sometime after Whittall acquired the Beverly Roman Coins, he published an article, which was listed in the bibliography of Fell’s second diffusionist book, Saga America, as  “Whittall, James: Naufragrium Romanum, AVC M, Ipswich, Bulletin, vol. 7, no. 2, Early Sites Research Society (1979).” (Fell 1980; p. 408)   Fell provided a somewhat inaccurate reference to Whittall’s article, as the actual citation should be: Whittall, James P. II.  “NAVFRAGIUM ROMANUM AVC 1000.” Early Sites Research Society Bulletin 7, no. 2 (1979): 2-6. (Whittall 1979)  “Ipswich” is not in the title of Whittall’s article and is the first of several serious inconsistencies surrounding the discovery of the Beverly Roman Coins.  And, with a tad of chagrin, I must point out that putting a second “r” in Whittall’s “NAVFRAGIUM” is an example of poor transcription.

      The four Roman coins immediately became a linchpin to Fell’s diffusionist argument and Williams later wrote: "The Fell inscriptions are everywhere, from Maine to California; the hard data range from Roman coins washed up on a beach in Massachusetts to a nautical map of the continent scratched on a slab of rock in Nevada, dated to A.D. 800." (Williams 1991; p. 284)  Fell later withdrew his claim concerning the Nevada "map" based on a proper examination of the petroglyph. (Tipton and McGlone 1982)

     Fell wrote in a photograph caption of the back of the coins: "Roman coins of the era 337-383 A.D., all found in 1977 by metal detection apparatus within an area of beach of about one square yard, at Beverly, Massachusetts.  It is typical of beach finds that coins of similar dates occur in association in very limited pockets.  Similar associations occur with Spanish coins of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and these are known to come from offshore wrecked ships.  Mounting evidence now shows that Roman wrecks also lie offshore the east American coast." (Fell 1980; p. 31)

     Another inconsistency regarding the discovery of the Beverly Roman Coins would be where they were discovered.  In Whittall’s article, he wrote: “South of Essex and Cape Ann in Beverly, Massachusetts near the beach, another treasure hunter, with a metal detector, located four Roman coins of the fourth century A.D. in a tight cluster beneath the soil. W [sic] these perhaps dropped in small dittybag by some seamen?  (See SAGA AMERICA, Barry Fell, 1979).”  Mistakes aside, “near” the beach is not Fell’s “an area of beach.” (Whittall 1979; p. 6)

Graphic from Saga America by B. Fell; used without permission. (Fell 1980; p. 32)

     Beneath a drawing which shows speculation of the presence of a sunken Roman ship off the coast of Beverly, reproduced above, Fell wrote: “Coins of the Beverly Roman wreck include examples only of late-fourth-century issues and prove to belong to the reigns of four consecutive emperors: Constantius II (337-361 A.D.), Valentinianus I (364-375 A.D.), his younger brother Valens (364-378 A.D.), and Valen’s nephew Gratianus (367-383 A.D.).  The 58 emperors of Rome issued numerous coins, of which about 3,000 kinds are commonly found in Europe.  If coin finds are due to random losses, then the chances of any one emperor’s coin turning up are on the average roughly one chance in 60.  But for a single find-site to yield a run of coins of closely consecutive rulers, spanning only four decades, the chances can be estimated as less than one in 100,000.  Thus, the coins are not being found as a consequence of accidental losses (as archaeologists have always assumed), but are strongly correlated with some factor linked to the short time span from 337 to 383 A.D.  The only reasonable explanation is that the money chest of a merchant ship carrying current coin in use around the year 375 A.D. is the real source of the Beverly coin supply.  For the past 1600 years onshore currents have drifted the coins toward the beach, where they were thrown up by the waves in heavy weather.” (Fell 1980; p. 32)

Percy F. Lyons Park beach ("Dane Street Beach") and Beverly Harbor; ©2005 RDF.

  Under a photograph of the front of the Beverly Roman Coins, Fell wrote: “Coins of four Roman emperors of the fourth century A.D., from the Beverly wreck.  Upper left Valentinianus I (364-375 A.D.); upper right Gratianus (367-383 A.D.); lower left Valens (364-378 A.D.); lower right Constantius II (337-361 A.D.).  The coins were found together within a square yard of beach." (Fell 1980; p. 184)

     In Whittall’s letter to the Beverly Historical Society, he wrote: “The coins were found in 1978 by ‘John Doe’ with a metal detector off Dane Street about a hundred yards back from the beach at the common across from the cemetary [sic] in a tight cluster together.  He sold the coins to Peter Pratt, Pratt’s Coin Shop, Georgetown, Massachusetts.  I purchased the coins directly from Peter Pratt after he related the history of the find to me.  It might be added here that on three different occasions Roman coins have been found at Bar Head, Plum Island, Ipswich, Massachusetts (1960, 1980, 1987).” (Whittall 1991)

     This is not what Whittall wrote in his 1979 article and nothing like the account described by Fell in Saga AmericaWhen were the coins discovered?  In 1977 or 1978?  Where were the coins discovered?  The Beverly Common is some 1500 feet (over 500 yards) from the beach, well over the length of four football fields!  This lack of date and location exactitude is unconscionable in archaeology, even among amateurs.

     As I understand the history of the Beverly Roman Coins, four accounts of their discovery may be distinguished from one another:

1979 Whittall’s ESRS Bulletin article which mentions "near" the beach.
1980 Fell’s Saga America insistence of "an area of beach" in Beverly.
1991 Whittall’s letter to the Beverly Historical Society and Museum which indicates the coins were actually discovered on the Beverly Common.
2005 Hobby shop owner, Pratt, who has claimed the coins were discovered on Plum Island in Ipswich Bay and the Beverly beach story was a "diversion."

Whittall's map of alleged Roman finds; used without permission. (Whittall 1979; p. 5)

     With the passing of Fell (1994) and Whittall (1998), further investigation of the Beverly Roman Coins is possible only through Peter Pratt.  When questioned at his shop, Pratt denied Whittall’s account in the 1991 letter to the Beverly Historical Society, said he never owned the coins, never met a “John Doe,” never saw the coins and only heard of them from conversations with Whittall. (Pratt 2005)  Later, after swapped tales of adventure and fantastic archaeology, Pratt admitted that the events took place 25 years ago and his memory could be faulty.  He suggests a single Roman coin he discovered on Plum Island in 1979 to be the “1980" referenced in the letter (though this seems yet another example of poor memory, as Whittall's article mentions that Pratt discovered his Roman coin on Plum Island in 1974, but it was 1979 before they discussed it). (Whittall 1979; p. 4)  The 1960 date refers to a “Roman Setterii found by Mr. Sheldon Lane at Bar Head, Plum Island, Massachusetts, in September, 1960," as described and shown in Whittall’s 1979 article. (Whittall 1979; p. 3)  The 1987 date is too late to contribute to the claims surrounding the Beverly Roman Coins.

Roman coin said to have been found at Bar Head, Plum Island in 1960.
Photograph by Malcolm Pearson.

Used without permission. (Whittall 1979; p. 3)

     Perhaps significant is the lack of mention of the Beverly Roman Coins in McGlone’s extensively researched 1993 book, Ancient American Inscriptions, which featured Whittall as a co-author. (McGlone et al 1993AAI presented many diffusionist claims which did not concern epigraphy, yet the Beverly Roman Coins were not included.  Had something happened which removed the legitimacy of the discovery?

     Pratt, a warm and friendly businessman and hobbyist, told of a “diversion” to the NSS writer, but denied specific knowledge of the coins to me and qualified by appeal to poor memory after 25 years.  During our conversation many dates, events and artifacts were confused, which allows for poor memory, but doesn’t entirely rule out stonewalling and purposeful deception.  Though it’s a nasty charge, I suspect it’s neccesary to include the possibility that Pratt is protecting “John Doe” and wishes to put the claims and controversies of the Beverly Roman Coins behind him.  As a coin dealer, he commented that the points and general condition of the four Roman coins were unlike what one would expect to find from coins having been thrown about the surf and rocks for many years.  When asked further, as before he’d said he’d never actually seen the coins, he hedged with a guess that Whittall must have not only told him about the coins, but shown him the coins at one point.  And here it stops, at least for now.

     Whittall, Fell and Pratt have different accounts regarding the coins which could never be in agreement as they stand.  A friend of both Fell and Whittall has advised that if one had to choose between accounts, Whittall should be given priority, though Whittall’s two accounts are internally inconsistent.  From the many telephone conversations I had with both Fell and Whittall I would never suggest either would spread a bald-faced lie, but both often made mistakes.  I can’t understand how Whittall would allow Fell’s claims to go uncorrected, given their closeness, unless he was embarrassed by the extent of Fell’s extrapolation of Whittall and Pratt’s claim of a Roman shipwreck in Ipswich Bay and its transference to Beverly Harbor in Saga America.

Pratt's Hobby Shop, Georgetown, MA; © 2005 RDF.

     It began in a hobby shop, became the subject of ridicule by professionals and used as a talking point by agenda-driven amateur historians (as well as cults and hate-groups), and should end as a curiosity in the collections of the Beverly Historical Society and Museum.  Unless “John Doe” steps forth, the four Beverly Roman Coins appear destined for much dust collecting over the years to come.
     I'd like to thank Donal Buchanan, Mrs. James P. Whittall, Jr., and The Beverly Historical Society and Museum for help with these notes.


Fell, Barry.  Saga America.  New York, NY:  Times Books, 1980.
McGlone, William R. and Phillip M. Leonard, James L. Guthrie, Rollin W. Gillespie, James P. Whittall, Jr.  Ancient
  American Inscriptions: Plow Marks or History?
  Sutton, MA: Early Sites Research Society, 1993.
New York Times.  “An Expert Doubts Roman Coins Found in U.S. Are Sea-Link Clue.”  Special to The New York
New York Times (1857-Current file); Dec. 10, 1978; ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York
  Times (1851-2005): 105.

Pratt, George.  Personal conversation with the author.  Georgetown, MA: Pratt’s Hobby Shop, October 20, 2005.
Taormina, Barbara.  “Goodbye Columbus.”  North Shore Sunday (Oct. 9, 2005): 1, 4 & 5.
Tipton, Ruth and Bill McGlone.  "Map of North America Petroglyph."  Epigraphic Society Occasional
10, no. 1 (1982): 56.
Whittall, James P. II.  “NAVFRAGIUM ROMANUM AVC 1000.” Early Sites Research Society Bulletin 7, no. 2
1979): 2-6.
Whittall, James P. Jr.  Personal correspondence to the Beverly Historical Society.  Beverly, MA: The Beverly
  Historical Society and Museum Collections, dated December 14,
Williams, Stephen.  Fantastic Archaeology: The Wild Side of North American Prehistory. Philadelphia, PA:
  University of Pennsylvania Press,

Still remembering Barry Fell and Jim Whittall.

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