Because of my Laura Gardin Fraser collection an article in the June 2018 issue of The Numismatist entitled, “Fraser Finds”, aroused my interest. The author of that article went on to describe his pure joy at the Fraser finds comparable to that of discovering lost treasure. For my part I found this article fascinating. Never could I have imagined that Tom Rochovansky and his wife Nancy were preserving so much of the Fraser’s work as a legacy to them.
Normally for me this is where the story ends. Later I was to find out that this was in reality where the story began. A friend of mine who has been invaluable to me in both researching and acquiring many of the Laura Gardin Fraser medals in my collection contacted me about the article. He went on to say that he lives within driving distance of the Rochovanskys and made an appointment with them to inspect the finds for himself.
When my friend returned from inspecting the Fraser’s studio pieces he sent me a report of his findings. I was somewhat disappointed that there didn’t seem to be anything of interest to me in the report. Later my friend on a subsequent visit discovered two Items that he missed on the first visit that I was VERY interested in purchasing. Those pieces were a bronze 1912, 131mm cast medallion honoring John Cardinal Farley on his elevation to the cardinalate of New York. The second is a bronze 1915, 64mm Rosemary Hall 25th anniversary medal. I’ll have more to say about these medals later but for now, as Paul Harvey would say, “The rest of the story.”
This is where having a friend that knows something about medals is indispensable. After finding out about these two medals I told my friend that I was interested in purchasing both of them. The price for the Rosemary Hall was about what I could expect to pay and well within my budget. The asking price of the Cardinal Farley medallion on the other hand was a stretch for me and just outside what I wanted to pay. With that my friend was willing to negotiate a fair price on my behalf to the Rochovanskys based on his knowledge of the market and it was a sale! Two medals once owned by Laura Gardin Fraser are now in my personal collection! Indeed, both of these medals truly represent a “Most Excellent Provenance”!
I mailed a check directly to Tom Rochovansky with a hand written note thanking him and inviting him to peruse my set. After receiving my check, Tom gave me a call and I had a wonderful conversation with the curator of the Frasers studio artifacts. Tom went on to say that he personally knew Laura Fraser as a child and often referred to her as Aunt Laura. I asked him if I could conduct an interview with him about his experiences with the Frasers and he was very willing for me to call him at a future date. Now who could ask more than the prospect of acquiring first-hand information about the Frasers?
In a bit of numismatic history Tom Rochovansky went on to say that he loaned the plasters for the 1999 200th anniversary of the death of George Washington half-eagle to the mint. In return the mint sent him one of the half-eagles that he incidentally still owns. The mint also returned the plasters which are also still in his possession. Finally, Tom told me about some of the non-numismatic items he still has, one of which I may be interested in purchasing at a future date when I will likely make-up a display case of this collection.
Finally, I was not the only person to benefit from the “Fraser Finds” article in the Numismatist. Another of my friends introduced to me through the same person who contacted the Rochovanskys acquired several plasters, one of which is the obverse of the Oregon Trail commemorative half-dollar. He has also written of his purchases in the July 22 edition of “The E-Sylum” complete with pictures. Lest you think our common friend didn’t find something for his collection, think again. There are now three very happy collectors with their purchases and Tom Rochovansky glad to place a few of the Fraser artifacts into good homes.