Featured Vesta McCurry's WW1 love token coin is going home!

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by lordmarcovan, Dec 22, 2018.

  1. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    (Edit: I originally titled this story "A Christmas Wedding", because that's when Vesta McCurry and her soldier sweetheart were married. But read on - the story developed some interesting twists after I originally posted this!)

    WW1 trench art engraved on 1918 France 2-franc coin: ("Souvenir [of] France") [for] "Miss Vesta McCurry, Hartwell, Ga"

    I've had this World War 1 trench art piece in my box for a year or two. Was just photographing it and getting it ready for listing on eBay when I decided to do a little sleuthing on its backstory, which, as often happens, proved to be interesting.

    This literally unique piece tells the story - a love story - which led to a Christmas wedding 99 years ago.




    Vesta Pearman (neé McCurry) was born November 7, 1892, and died at age 80 on September 15, 1973. This coin was obviously given to her by a soldier sweetheart or relative who served in France in 1918, during World War I.

    And that person was almost certainly the man who would become her husband: Howard Gloer Pearman (b. July 22, 1892, d. March 3, 1958), as his veteran's grave marker shows he served as a sergeant with Company F, 21st Infantry, 3rd Division in World War I.

    They were married on Christmas Day, 1919, in Hart County, Georgia, and were together for over 38 years until his death. Both were buried in Hartwell. They had one daughter, Vivian Pearman Lewis (b. January 8, 1922, d. December 27, 1999).

    Isn't that neat? I love it when these stories come to light. Sometimes they're tragic, sometimes heartwarming like this, and often both.

    This is not the first time a WW1 trench art piece on a French coin has revealed an interesting backstory to me.


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  3. asheland

    asheland The Silver Lion

    Very cool!
    Noah Finney likes this.
  4. willieboyd2

    willieboyd2 First Class Poster

    Nice coin.

    The engraving looks professional, possibly by a jeweler who created love token coins for people.

    lordmarcovan and Noah Finney like this.
  5. Noah Finney

    Noah Finney Morgan / Gold Indian Member

    I think that it is neat! Coin's always like to carry history with them! ;)
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  6. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    Most of these (including the one I linked to above, towards the end of the story) were carved on French 1-franc pieces, which were the size of a US quarter. This one was done on a larger 2-franc coin, which was closer to half-dollar size.
  7. toned_morgan

    toned_morgan Toning Lover

    People need to do this kind of research and story telling more often, otherwise these people would be totally forgotten. I saw a quote somewhere that said "Everyone can live on forever, even if they're dead." This kind of means that the story of these people can live on forever now because we have remembered this story. If you had sod the coin on eBay, it would have just changed hands to another person and then another, and the history might have never been uncovered. Thank you so much!
  8. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    Thanks. I'll still likely list it, but WITH the provenance. I've been able to profit pretty well by adding this kind of information.

    Edit: OK, no, I'm gonna hold on to it a little while longer to see if we can find a living descendant to give it to. (See subsequent posts.)

    But if I still collected love tokens and engraved pieces, I'd certainly keep this one.

    Engraved coins are a fascinating niche of exonumia, and these WW1 pieces could form a fascinating collection category in themselves. A lot of them were made as soldier ID badges, but some, like this and the other one I linked to above, were sweetheart gifts to girlfriends, wives, and mothers.

    In fact, I still keep an eye out for stuff like this despite no longer collecting it. (I might even collect this sort of thing again one day.)
  9. Trish

    Trish Active Member

    First off thank you for sharing this. :)
    Question: If you sell it, do you think the living relatives would like first chance at it? I bought a very old photo album and it had pics in it with full names and a pic of a town with town name. I'm looking into finding relatives and seeing if they are interested in the pictures. As a relative, I would be interested but who knows? Just curious if you would, or have ever done that.
  10. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    Ah, it was just a moment ago that I was thinking "wow, I wish I could post a response about how cool this is." And, here, I can. ;)

    Thanks for the post!
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  11. BoonTheGoon

    BoonTheGoon Grade A mad lad

    This is quite true, in fact I am trying to keep one story from being forgotten and that is the story of the texas navy, the last books on it are from the 1930s and most have forgotten about them. I love revealing history from artifacts, while I have no texas artifacts for what I am doing or any coin related stories I did uncover the story of 2 naval cutlasses I have.
  12. Gilbert

    Gilbert Part time collector Supporter

    I totally agree with @trish. If I were you @lordmarcovan I would spend some time looking for descendents or close relatives. And if found I would donate the coin. I can think of nothing better than the feeling one would get for doing this good deed.
  13. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    I did do a (very quick) look around for relatives. McCurry is a pretty big name in Hartwell. There is a McCurry Road and a McCurry house that's on the National Register. With their daughter dying in 1999, they probably have living grandchildren, but it's hard to say if I'd find them, or be able to contact them if I did, or if they'd be interested and not creeped out by being approached.

    It would be cool if someone found a descendant and we could contact them and give this to them around Vesta and Howard's 99th wedding anniversary.

    Kinda puts a crimp in my selling plans, though. I've given away a ton of stuff this year. Was kind of hoping to make a little money before the end of the year. *sigh*

    But y'all are right. It would be even more rewarding (spiritually, not monetarily) to reunite this with the family.
  14. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    According to the findagrave listing for their son-in-law, James Stanley Lewis, Jr (who had married their daughter Vivian), there seems to be a clue to the next generation (which would be their grandchildren):
    I am not a genealogical researcher and do not currently have memberships on a lot of these sites.

    I'll tell y'all what: I will hold off on my plans to sell this piece, at least until after the new year. If a properly documented descendant can be found and contacted, I will give this piece to them.

    But I'll need y'all to pitch in and help with the detective work. Who's up for the challenge? ;)

    PS- if such a living descendant should be found, please don't post their contact information in public on the forum. I would imagine names and genealogy are OK, but let's respect their privacy. Share any contact info with me via private message, please.
  15. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    Thanks to yosclimber on Collectors Universe, who found the obituary of Vivian Pearman Lewis, Howard and Vesta's daughter.
    So that gives us information about the next generation.

    Maybe we can track down:

    Nancy L. Ferazzuolo, Howard and Vesta's granddaughter, and
    Howard Stanley Lewis, their grandson.

    From there, the next generation would be Vivian's four grandchildren, who are Howard and Vesta's great-grandchildren.
  16. Trish

    Trish Active Member

    I'm on ancestry.com and like hunting around, so I will give it a go also. :)
    Stevearino, Gilbert and lordmarcovan like this.
  17. Trish

    Trish Active Member

    I found that Nancy and her husband (both late 60s) are retired in Vegas. I have the details on how to get ahold of her (phone, address) if you want them. They have one daughter that I could see and she's married and I believe in CA. I couldn't get much info on her brother Howard (age 67)-he's in Athens, GA still but don't know where exactly. I forgot Ancestry marks living people as 'private' and not searchable.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2018
  18. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    Thanks to @Trish, who gave me their contact info in a private message.

    I just left a voicemail on what is hopefully Nancy's number.
  19. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    I have had a pleasant phone conversation with Vesta and Howard's granddaughter, Nancy Ferrazzuolo, and her husband Richard, and will be sending the coin to them.

    They promised a photo of Nancy holding the coin, and Nancy said she would try to find some old pictures of her grandparents, though many of those have been distributed to other members of the family.

    They asked me to thank @Trish for helping with the legwork, and I would like to thank yosclimber on the Collectors Universe thread as well.

    Looks like this story will have a happy ending! Perhaps I'll do a writeup for The Numismatist when the dust settles.
    Stevearino, buckeye73, Obone and 17 others like this.
  20. Randy Abercrombie

    Randy Abercrombie Supporter! Supporter

    Lord M.... I came within a hairs breath of buying this when I saw it yesterday morning. If it wasn’t the season of spending too much money, I would have snatched it up when I saw it. Been avoiding this thread since because I really was drawn to this coin........ I am tickled to death the turn this story has taken due to your efforts. And I’ll say this with complete sincerity. If your efforts do manage to get this piece into an ancestors hands..... I’ll send you the $99.00 asking price anyways! This is the best feel good story ever.
  21. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    I can't wait to see the photo(s) they send. :)
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