Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 7, Number 43, October 24, 2004:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2004, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
LEO MILDENBERG: "IT SINGS TO ME"
Last week I asked, "Do any of our readers have recollections
about Mr. Mildenberg?" In response, Dave Kellogg writes:
"I only met him once but knew immediately that he was a
person deserving respect and admiration. The occasion was
a small numismatic convention in Boston several years ago.
He gave a presentation about ancient coinage in which he
showed many photographs. Two in particular made an
impression on me. They were photos of two ancient coins,
both from the same issue, but different strikes or examples.
One coin had no visible sign of wear; the other had obviously
seen many hands in its lifetime but was still in noteworthy
condition and had a sense of "character". He mentioned that
a collector might immediately opt for the coin in better
condition (the sterile one), but then made a persuasive case
for the other coin. It has no defects, he said, has nothing
missing, and "it sings to me". That simple advice has helped
me immensely in appreciating ancient coins."
ANS BUILDING NAMES QUIZ CONCLUDES
Time to wrap up our quiz about the names of famous
numismatists inscribed on the walls of the former American
Numismatic Society building in New York.
Bruce Burton of Round Rock, Texas writes: "I believe that
the Russian numismatist's name you've been seeking is Ivan
Not correct. Dave Lange writes: "I'm puzzled by the lack of
replies to the contest regarding names on the ANS building,
since the entire roster is given in the most recent issue of the
ANS magazine. I received this perhaps three weeks ago.
Doesn't anyone read it? The Russian numismatist is
Christian Martin Fraehn (1782-1851)."
[Actually, since I'm using the ANS article as my source for
the quiz, our readers weren't supposed to peek. But no one
came up with the answer, so it's time to go back to the article
and publish the complete list. The honorees are:
Joseph Hilarius Eckhel (1737-1798)
Vincent Barclay head (1844-1914)
Aloiss Heiss (1820-1893)
Joachim Lelewel (1786-1861)
Christian Martin Fraehn (1782-1851)
Sylvester Crosby (1831-1914)
Thanks for your participation - this has been an interesting
and enlightening exercise. -Editor]
NEW BOOK ON CAST FORGERIES OF ANCIENT COINS
Excerpts from the press release:
"CAST FORGERIES OF CLASSICAL COINS FROM
BULGARIA" by Ilya Prokopov and Eugeni Paunov.
(='Coin Collections and Coin Hoards from Bulgaria' no. 3),
wholly in English, format 16°, 88 pp., glossy black paperback,
112 coins in bronze, silver and gold, 27 casts, 14 pages in
full color. Sofia, SP&P Publishing, October 2004.
ISBN 954-91396-4-6. Publisher's Price: US $24.00."
"This is the third book on the counterfeits of ancient coins
from present-day Bulgaria. In 1997, a team of three co-authors
lead by Dr Prokopov prepared and edited a first small book
of fake coins, which was subsequently published in Sofia. The
present catalogue is a result of that continuing initiative and
In this format (22.5x14.5 cm) a large group of modern and
ancient cast forgeries of Greek and Roman coins coming from
Bulgaria is published. 112 coins in gold, silver, copper and
bronze are catalogued and illustrated with nice black & white
photos in chronological and geographic principle. For the
first time a group of 15 coins and details are presented in full
color. In the beginning, authors show 11 Roman contemporary
cast coins from Moesia - 5 asses and 11 denarii. Next a
pseudo-hoard of fake and genuine Roman Imperial coins -
consisting of 2 aurei and 74 denarii, is shown. The Bulgarian
police authorities at the customs deprived it in the fall of 2003.
From the total number of coins, 6 specimens are Greek and
Macedonian (4 in silver, 2 in bronze); 83 Roman (Republican
- 1 denarius; Imperial: - 82 (3 in gold, 80 in silver, 11 in bronze,
1 in lead). A special section of the catalogue is devoted to a
modern rubber/plastic negative matrix for making imprints of
cast models of Roman Imperial denarii. All are illustrated in
detail and commented."
For contacts and direct orders:
SP & P Publications Ltd.
Mr Stoyan POPOV
SP & P Publications Ltd.
Direct online orders: Direct online orders
BODE MUSEUM NUMISMATIC DISPLAY
Arthur Shippee forwarded a very short item from The New
York Times about a new numismatic display in Berlin:
"After six years and $6.9 million in renovations, the coin collection
of the Bode Museum will be redisplayed today on Berlin's historic
Museum Island. More than 500,000 coins, from Greece in 600
B.C. to the present, will be on view. The entire renovation of the
Bode Museum, with its sculpture collection, Byzantine art and
children's gallery, is scheduled for completion by 2006 at an
estimated cost of $131 million.
Bode Museum Article
Another note on the same subject came from Chris Hoelzle of
Laguna Niguel, CA. He writes: "My wife who is always looking
out for me on topics of coins and numismatic literature spotted the
following short article in the Los Angeles Times Travel section -
from the Associated Press:
"The coin collection of the Bodemuseum will reopen to the public
after a six-year, $6.9-million renovation, giving visitors a look at
"Germany's greatest treasure chest of old money," said city
museum director Peter Klaus Schuster. The collection includes
Greek Coins from 600 BC."
I found the following website which announces the opening (in
GREEN COLLECTION INVENTORY QUESTION
Gregg Silvis writes; "In a recent Penny-Wise article, I
proposed some possible purchasers of the William Colgate
Eaton Collection of Half Cents. Bob Yuell has proposed
"Colonel" Edward Howland Robinson Green as a possible
candidate. Bob writes, "He [Green] died of heart disease
in Lake Placid, NY on June 8, 1936. This means he was
alive in June 1928 to purchase the collection and owned a
home in Massachusetts -- close enough to receive the June
1928 Guttag's Coin Bulletin within 24 hours.
In the John Ford Reference Library Part I auction on
6/1/2004 by Kolbe, there is an inventory of the Green
Collection. That would be lot #518. It sold for $37,000.
In this lot it says 'His numismatic holdings were amassed
on a scale exceeded by few, and the truly remarkable
inventory present here confirms it.' It also says '..... which
are arranged by date of acquisition'."
Would the purchaser of this lot be willing to contact me
(gregg at udel.edu) to further pursue this idea?"
[Penny-Wise is the journal of the Early American Coppers
MORE ON CHITTY'S TREATISE ON BANK NOTE LAWS
Last week, I asked about a book by J. Chitty concerning bank
note laws. A little more digging turned up 49 different entries for
editions of the book as recent as 1983.
The full title is: "Treatise On The Law Of Bills Of Exchange
Checks On Bankers Promissory Notes Bankers Cash Notes
And Bank Notes", by Joseph Chitty
Three editions were published between 1803 and 1965 in
English. The initial edition was about British check and note
A later edition published between 1839 and 1880 adds
"... With References To The Law Of Scotland France And
America" to the title.
So where did I find these entries? See the next item about
RESEARCH LIBRARY CATALOG SEARCH ENGINE
"Founded as the Research Libraries Group in 1974, RLG is
a nonprofit membership corporation of universities, national
libraries, archives, and other memory institutions with
remarkable collections for research and learning. We
collaborate on projects that bring these collections online,
help deliver them around the world, and support their
preservation in digital form.
RedLightGreen is one of our newest projects. It is designed
specifically for undergraduates using the Web-and the
libraries that support them. RedLightGreen.com delivers
information from RLG members about more than 130 million
books for education and research; and it links students back
to their campus libraries for the books they select."
1957 DEALER DIRECTORY
Dave Bowers writes: "Concerning Dick Johnson, in 1957 his
numismatic dealer directory was very well done and well
received. It was easy to read, nice typography, and, now,
over 45 years later it provides a nice window on numismatic life,
dealer-wise, in 1957. That seems so long ago, but in other
ways it was like yesterday. The ANA convention that year was
in Philadelphia, and both Jim Ruddy and I had long LINES of
people at our bourse table waiting for turns to see us!"
THICKEST NUMISMATIC BOOK
Bill Spengler of Colorado Springs writes: "Too bad that Pete
Smith narrowed his "quest to identify the thickest numismatic
book" with the parenthetical qualifier "by page count" for I
may have in my library literally the thickest numismatic tome
by linear measurement. However, if page count is the basic
criterion for "thickness", then my book falls well short of many
cited by others, especially the Krause SCWCs. But if Pete
should accept bound manuscripts as a category of numismatic
books separate from printed ones, mine would certainly rate
high in both thickness and page count.
Because my book is so unusual -- in fact unique by definition
-- I think it merits reporting to Numismatic Bibliomaniacs
anyway. It is a manuscript of 890 pages entitled simply
"ORIENTAL COINS" written in black ink in a very legible,
even elegant hand, on heavy paper measuring 8"x10"
watermarked variously "A Pirie & Sons/1905" (sometimes
1908) or "POLTON/AIR-DRIED/VELLUM". It is bound
in red leather and weighs seven pounds. Its thickness cover-
to-cover is 4 inches, the pages alone being 3 1/2 inches thick.
It contains 1683 coin types and sixteen amulets. In style it
comprises actual-size photographs of obverse and reverse
of each type pasted onto the even (lefthand) pages with full
attributions written on the odd (righthand) pages, from one
to as many as twenty coins per pair of pages. A few pages
are blank, apparently to allow insertion of additional coin types.
In content the manuscript covers, in a more or less West-to-
East geographical orientation, "Oriental" coins of the Umayyad
("Amawi" per Lane-Poole) and Abbasid Arabs, Samanids/
Ghaznavids/Seljuqs, various Turkish dynasties through the
Ottomans, Ilkhans ("Mongols of Persia"), ancient and Islamic
dynasties of India and Afghanistan, then Indo-Greeks, Indo-
Scythians, Sassanians, Ceylon, Siam, Burmah. Tibet and
Japan, ending with 230 pages on China. It manages to
present in passing quite a few unusual and well-preserved
Unfortunately, the author/scribe is not identified and the
manuscript offers little evidence as to whom he might have
been. It does bear an attractive bookplate of the FREDERICK
TOWNSEND WARD MEMORIAL FUND of the famous
ESSEX INSTITUTE of Massachusetts with a facing portrait,
presumably of Mr. Ward, above a Chinese-style building
flanked by five Chinese characters meaning "Ever Victorious
Army of China".. This bookplate also contains a minuscule
notation "S.L.S. Feb. 1910" which probably indicates the
book's acquisition and possibly even the donor. There is
also a letter from the Department of Coins and Medals,
British Museum, to Messrs. Spink & Son Ltd., dated 24/7/11,
signed by the famed British Museum keeper J(ohn) Allan,
attributing an Arabic coin in the book, bound into the
As for its provenance after the Essex Institute (which I believe
disposed of its numismatic holdings some years ago), it was
sold in Kolbe Auction No. 9 at the 1981 COIN convention in
California, bringing a reported $2,600; and again in the second
Kolbe-Spink USA sale at the NYINC in December 1983 --
where I acquired it surprisingly for a mere fraction of the
earlier PR. I loaned it to the ANA Library for study for a few
years after 1984.
Can anyone top this for a bound manuscript in thickness, weight
and rarity? And if anyone can shed further light on the possible
author of this manuscript, on "S.L.S." or on the manuscript itself,
I would be grateful."
THINNEST NUMISMATIC BOOK
As suggested by one of our readers, let's now consider
the topic of thinnest numismatic book.
Pete Smith, who kicked off this line of discussion in the first
place, writes: "Over the weekend I bought Weimer White's
book on coin chemistry. The book is hardbound but the
thickness of the covers appears to equal the thickness of the
pages. Perhaps not the thinnest numismatic book but still
Bruce Burton writes: "Regarding thinnest "books", I nominate
the Numismatist reprint of Copper Coins of Norway by O.P.
Eklund, which has only five printed pages and two of those
are "plates". It seems like one of the Frank Lapa books was
also quite thin, and another of his, on Vatican Coins is among
the thinnest I've seen that is hardbound. "
Mark Borchardt's nomination is: "Any single sheet broadside."
[Can't get much thinner than that, can we? I have a November
9th, 1866 broadside of a sale of "Coins, Book, &C." in a
frame on the wall above my desk. QUICK QUIZ: Can anyone
tell us the name of the consignor or auctioneer? How about the
description of lot number 1? (I didn't say it would be an easy
quiz, but we'll find out if anyone else out there has this one...
Mike Marotta writes: "The presentations on coining technology
are always interesting. On the matter of roller presses, I
happen to have several coins from the Malcontents Revolt.
(My maternal grandparents were Hungarian.) The smaller
coins and the larger seem to be struck in the usual way. The
ten poltura, however, is obviously the result of being rolled.
As noted, it does have flash from being cut after striking.
Now, I have a question about what this says about "reverse"
and "obverse." The cut is clearly from the side with the shield
and date, and toward the side with the crest and legend."
Mike Marotta writes: "On the question of software, editing the
Michigan State Numismatic Society Mich-Matist, I chose
Microsoft Publisher because that is what is on this machine.
Having been with Word since 2.0, I should have chosen that,
but I thought I would learn something new. Publisher is not
half bad and having completed two issues with it, I am more
satisfied than I expected to be. One problem with Publisher,
very basic for what we do, is that there is no such thing as a
"round box." So, pictures of coins always have square
I used QuarkXpress for a year at Coin World. I learned
PageMaker in a community college class. Both are more
powerful than Publisher, and QuarkXpress would be my
preference. However, that would be overkill for most club
newsletters, even the 30-page MichMatist. Now, I am
getting ready for a project with Adobe InDesign, the new
SHERLOCK HOLMES TURNS EYE TO PRINTERS
Earlier, we published items about how governments have
worked with makers of copiers and scanners to embed
anti-counterfeiting mechanisms in their products. The
BBC published an article this week about how scientists
are learning how to match up documents with the particular
printer that produced them.
"That staple of crime novels - solving a case by identifying the
typewriter used to write a ransom note - is being updated for
the modern day.
US scientists have discovered that every desktop printer has
a signature style that it invisibly leaves on all the documents
They have now found a way to use this to identify individual
laser printers. The work will help track down printers used to
make bogus bank notes, fake passports and other important
"In 11 out of 12 tests, the team's methods identified which
model of desktop laser printer was used to print particular
"We also believe that we will be able to identify not only
which model of printer was used but specifically which printer
was used," Professor Delp said."
"For a company to make printers all behave exactly the same
way would require tightening the manufacturing tolerances to
the point where each printer would be too expensive for
consumers," he said.
"We extract mathematical features, or measurements, from
printed letters, then we use image analysis and pattern-
recognition techniques to identify the printer," said Professor
The team is also working on ways to manipulate printers so
they lay down ink with more easily identifiable signatures."
To read the full article, see: Full Article
DID ?PASSION? WIN THE PRIZE?
Dick Johnson writes: "Seldom do I criticize the design of a
foreign coin. One of the strangest coin designs was announced
recently, October 4, 2004. It is an eight-Euro coin from
Portugal. I understand people in Europe love soccer. Pardon
me, football! They issued a new coin, struck by the
Portuguese Mint, they call it "The Passion for Football."
The obverse looks like Lawrence Welk?s bubble machine
gone wild below an inverted pyramid.
The reverse is, well, half a hundred hearts and flowers --
without the flowers ? and with the hearts in as many misshapen
ways to bend a heart as the designer could make.
Pray tell me where is the symbolism for football? I get the
symbols for passion, if bubbles and rubber hearts idealize
The coin was exhibited at the "Vicenza Numismatica" coin
show in Italy this week. The "Passion for Football" eight-Euro
coin design was up for a prize to have been awarded October
16th. The vice president of the Portuguese Football
Federation was ecstatic about the coin. "We feel this is another
proof of the dimension of the success of EURO 2004 beyond
the football pitch," said Angelo Brou. "This coin represents
exactly the love and passion of this country about football."
Kick this one into the net. Click on: Kick
ITINERANT BUYERS INVADING MAINSTREAM RETAILERS
On a different topic, Dick Johnson writes: "We have all seen
their ads. Full pages wanting to buy gems, jewelry, gold, silver
and coins! My mouth popped open this Sunday morning at
who is sponsoring the latest buying action ? J.C. Penny!
"We are buying; 3 days only!" screamed the headlines. The
desiderata was illustrated. Diamonds, jewelry, silver, watches
all had small pictures. Coins were pictured twice the size of all
others. Silver dollars, gold, even subsidiary silver were shown.
"We want U.S. gold & silver coins & currency" reads the
The pitch is aimed at senior citizens. "Quit insuring it, dusting it,
hiding it or worrying how your kids will dispose of it." Another:
"I certainly couldn't expect to wear this to the mall or take it
to the nursing home!" Easy targets!
Formerly these itinerant buyers would set up in a suite of
motel rooms for a couple days, then move on. If mainstream
retailers are now involved ? they are undoubtedly receiving a
piece of the buying action. But don?t expect to buy the
acquired silver dollars and gold coins at the jewelry counter
of your nearest J.C. Penny store."
[When I was a wee lad just starting to collect coins, the major
downtown Pittsburgh department stores (Gimbel's, Kaufmann's)
had coin departments. At the time, many major department
stores had such departments. So maybe it's time to revive the
concept, but just why did the practice die out in the first place?
People still shop in department stores and malls, but few coin
stores are seen. It is just that the rent became too expensive
to allow a coin business to thrive? Were the stories worried
about liability issues? Also, does anyone have recollections
of the Golden Age of department store coin shops? -Editor]
EURO SIGNATURE CHANGE CONSTERNATION
The BBC News also reported on confusion caused by a
signature change on the new Euro notes:
"Berlin police have reassured citizens worried about an
unfamiliar signature on their new euro notes that the money
is genuine, news agencies report.
The police issued a statement pointing out that the signature
is that of European Central Bank president Jean-Claude
Mr Trichet's name has replaced that of his predecessor,
Wim Duisenberg, on recently-issued Euro notes.
Many Berliners had approached police believing the money
to be counterfeit."
[People do look at their money, I guess. We don't seem to
have this problem in the U.S - perhaps it's because signature
changes here are a frequent occurrence. How often have the
signatures on Euro currency changed? Is this the first time?
COINS FOR HALLOWEEN
Nick Graver writes: "I just heard that a librarian friend is
giving coins to children on Halloween!
Nickels to the smaller children, and a plastic bag of five
foreign coins to those old enough to read and possibly take
an interest in history, geography, and coinage!
Now isn't that a neat way to avoid problems with candy,
and to start children as coin collectors, with no dental or
dietary concerns! He bought foreign coins in bulk and
leftovers will keep till next year.
Even though this great history buff seeks no recognition for
his idea, here is A Big Thanks to "Mr. S." who is not even
a coin collector!"
MORE INCOMPETENT THIEVES
There seems no end to the stories of incompetent bank robbers
and counterfeiters. This week, Reuters published an article
about how "Two clumsy German thieves bungled their bank
robbery after one dropped his gun which fell apart when it hit
the floor and a customer shouted "it's a fake," prompting them
to flee the scene empty handed."
"On their way out of the bank they dropped another gun," the
police spokesman said. The gun left behind was real enough
but did not function and could not be fired."
To read the full story: Full Story
Reuters also published the following story datelined Zagreb:
"A Croatian armed robber abandoned a bank hold up after
the cashier laughed at his order to stick 'em up, state news
agency Hina reported on Thursday."
"Knowing she was behind a bulletproof glass, the clerk
laughed heartily, rang her boss to say she was being robbed
and asked him to call the police," Zagreb police spokeswoman
Gordana Vulama told the agency.
The humiliated robber turned and took to his heels, she added."
To read the full story: Full Story
FEATURED WEB SITE
This week's featured web site is recommended by Kavan
Ratnatunga, who writes:
"Looking for information on US coins I found an interesting
online resource which I had not seen any reference to,
although the US Mint Freedom of Information Act
Electronic Reading Room seems to have been online
since Sept 2001."
Electronic Reading Room
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
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