Baker, James

Letter
Date:
March 28, 1944
To:
Mom and Dad
From:
Jim
March 29, 1944

Dear Mom and Dad,

I arrived here this morning to find that I am practically alone on the station.... all my pals were posted Overseas in my absence and I am all alone. I guess I would be over now too if I hadn't gone home, but I don't think I would have refused to go if I had known in advance that by doing so, I was going to miss a draft. I needed that leave to get some things straight in my own mind and now that they are straight, I feel much better. Nothing much happened to me coming back. I stopped off a day in Winnipeg to say ‘Goodbye' to everyone there and Em packed me a lovely box which lasted me all the way down to Montreal. So my trip home cost me only about $2.00 instead of twenty or so. I arrived here yesterday and spent the day down at the McGill University Library in trying to find out exactly what this gold coin is, and I have found out. We really have something! It is a Panticapaeum gold slater of the Satyr-Griffen type minted in about the fourth century BC. at Panticapaeum: a Scythian city on the north shores of the Black Sea between the Carpathians and the Don. I will read you the exact description as contained in Charles Seltmans's "Greek Coins Plate" XXXIX no. 13 (Plate 39) pg. 180 in the text: in case you want to look it up. "Minted in the 4th century BC. in Scythia - a kingdom in the Baltic Sea between the Carpathians and the Don. Gold was cheap in Panticapaeum, as may be gathered from the masses of it that have been unearthed from the graves near Kertch and in the Kuban and accordingly, gold slaters of unusually heavy weight (up to 9.2 grammes) were minted, the first of them apparently shortly before the middle of the 4th Century. On the obverse of these slaters are heads of bearded satyrs - with pointed ears, snub nose and tousled hair, and later vine-wreathed. The closest parallel to these splendid heads are to be found on the contemporary Scythian objects of Panticapaeum work like the electurn vase from Kuh Oba on the golden comb from Solakha: from the comparison of which it is evident that the satyr had the face of a typical Scyth. The Griffin upon the reverse of the coin has likewise his counterpart on other Scythian objects: for he is the Iranian horned and lion-headed griffin. At Panticapaeum, he is biting the shaft of a spear and beneath him is an ear of corn reminiscent of the rich corn fields of the region."

From that you can see that my coin corresponds exactly to the plate of the one in the volume, even to having exactly the same shape, flaws and the same indentations around the edge which almost leads me to believe it was cast from the same mold! Whether it has any marked value or not I have yet to discover, as there is no Numismatic Society in Montreal and I can find no one who has an expert knowledge of such things. But it will help me enormously now that I have identified it when I get to England and can see someone there. I can now speak as though I knew a little bit about what I am talking about: which is always an advantage. I am sure someone over there must be interested in such things.

Apart from that, there doesn't seem to be much of importance to write you about. I have had two letters from Sadie; understand she sent me a telegram. Could you post it to me?

I hope everyone at home is feeling as well as I am. Is Burt working yet? Em and Blake saw Stan just after I left Winnipeg and he is very happy at being back in Shilo. He says it is just like being home again. I must close now.

All my love as always,

Jim


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