Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 11, Number 16, April 20, 2008:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2008, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
WAYNE'S WORDS: THE E-SYLUM APRIL 20, 2008
Among our recent subscribers is Mack Martin, courtesy of John
Eshbach. We now have 1,125 subscribers.
Tony Hine of Toronto writes: "Please wish your daughter a happy
4th birthday from all the book nuts!" Tony's note was a pleasant
surprise and I did pass his greeting on to Hannah. She turned
four on Monday but managed to stretch the event into a four-day
birthday festival: Chuck E. Cheese's for lunch Sunday, cake and
presents at home Monday, a party at her preschool Tuesday and a
party at our house with seven of her preschool friends on
Wednesday. It was a Princess-themed party (no surprise there!)
This week we open with a press release and review of David Ganz'
new book. In other literature news, the Canadian Numismatic
Association holds a numismatic book show, Dick Johnson comments
on the inclusion of medal listings in the Red Book, and Jim
Halperin comments on Heritage Auction Galleries exonumia sale
Dick Johnson's other submissions this week cover the death of
a sculptor and collector of Renaissance medals, and a new article
on Paul Manship's medallic ashtrays. Comments on previous articles
cover topics such as eliminating smoke odors in books, Yoachum
dollars, and digitizing numismatic literature.
In the news, there is word of an internal spat at the Philippine
Numismatic and Antiquarian Society. To learn who a German coin
collection thief ran into when he took his loot to a bank, read on.
Have a great week, everyone.
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
NEW BOOK: SMITHSONIAN GUIDE TO COIN COLLECTING BY DAVID GANZ
[Publisher HarperCollins issued a press release for David
Ganz' new book, Guide to Coin Collecting. -Editor]
>From the change in your pocket to the history of famous silver
dollars, from understanding mintmarks and pedigree to assessing
condition and grade, this GUIDE TO COIN COLLECTING gives you
the historical background, practical knowledge, and expert
advice you need to begin your coin collection today.
America’s ultimate collector, the Smithsonian Institution,
brings you the new GUIDE TO COIN COLLECTING. Written by David
L. Ganz, the “father of the state quarter program,” this is the
perfect tool for taking up coin collecting. With great historical
context, step-by-step explanations, and expert advice from a
noted numismatics authority, this book guides you through the
process of starting a collection that no novice or intermediate
collector should be without.
The book begins with the history of coin collecting and continues
with an explanation of how coins are made, the elements of coin
design, famous coin collectors, and more. Updated for the digital
age, this guide also features tips on how to make the most of
current internet resources and auction sites. This is a fantastic
collecting resource from a true collecting expert.
Features advice on:
Starting a collection
Researching your coins
Getting essential tools and supplies
Finding and caring for coins
Assessing authenticity and value
Managing and exhibiting your collection
...and much more.
David L. Ganz, is a nationally-known numismatics expert. He
is a life fellow of the American Numismatic Society and was
the 48th president of the American Numismatic Association.
Ganz also authored World of Coins & Coin Collecting, The
Official Guide to America’s State Quarters, and The Official
Guide to Commemorative Coins.
To view an image of the book's cover, see:
Image of Books Cover
BOOK REVIEW: SMITHSONIAN GUIDE TO COIN COLLECTING BY DAVID GANZ
Publisher HarperCollins sent me a review copy of David Ganz'
new book, the "Smithsonian Guide to Coin Collecting." See
the previous article for details from the press release.
Here are my first impressions.
The book is a quick and easy read, with just ten chapters in
154 pages. This feels about right for a book intended as an
introduction to the hobby for newcomers. Most of its glossy
pages hold one or more color photos of coins. Most of the
photos are of high-grade specimens, and seem well-chosen to
augment the nearby text. Topics include "The History of Coinage",
"Tools of the Collecting Trade", "Finding Coins for Your
Collection" and "Coins of Distinction," a selection of the
rarest U.S. coins.
Chapter five, "Tools of the Collecting Trade" provides a
short overview of storage methods such as holders and albums,
lighting and magnification tools, scales, etc. The chapter
also discusses other useful resources such as coin clubs,
coin shows, numismatic libraries and museums. The chapter
includes a photo of the wonderful Harry W. Bass gallery at
the American Numismatic Association's Edward Rochette
One error I noticed was the inclusion of Pittsburgh's Carnegie
Museum on a list of "selected museums with extensive numismatic
displays." While The Carnegie does have a numismatic collection,
to my knowledge very little if any of it is displayed.
Chapter seven, "What's It Worth" discusses supply-side
factors such as mintage, melting and hoards, as well as
demand-side factors including condition and grading. It
doesn't really address the number of collectors seeking
particular coins, and this feels like a big omission. This
is where I think another mention of the State Quarter program
would be appropriate, since it's responsible for bringing a
large number of new collectors to the hobby. One inclusion
I didn't care for was the table of grading services. Half
of these I've never heard of and wouldn't recommend to a
beginning collector. The text rightly points out that the
services can and do differ on the very subjective task of
As a reviewer I feel almost obligated to point out shortcomings
in a book. As a longtime collector (and certified smartypants
as E-Sylum Editor), I could point out many places where more
could be said on a topic, but that is not the purpose of a book
for beginners. While there is always room for more, Ganz' book
seems to represent a good balance of brevity, breadth and depth.
Any book that mentions Harry Bass, John Pittman and Ed Frossard
is OK by me.
There are some internal inconsistencies perhaps worth mentioning.
For one, coin supplies and storage and inventory programs are
discussed in both chapter five and chapter nine, "Managing Your
Collection." For another, the 1933 double eagle is described on
page 2 as "America's Rarest Coin" but later on page 130 the Switt
hoard of ten examples of the coin are mentioned. Eleven examples
outside the Smithsonian certainly makes a rare coin by any measure,
but not the rarest.
I was disappointed in a few of the photographs. The table of
contents shows five proof state quarters on each page, but parts
of the designs are cut off. This may have been the designer's
intention, but I found it distracting, particularly the top
coins on each page which have part of the state name obscured.
Finally, the cover photo seems dull and bland, particularly in
comparison to the photos inside. The cover stock isn't as glossy,
leaving the image looking flat. The assemblage of coins looks
decidedly unreal, and not in a good way - it seems Photoshopped.
It took me a few minutes to realize the strangest aspect of it -
the coin sizes are all out of proportion, with silver dollars,
buffalo nickels and Large Cents all about the same diameter.
Maybe this was intentional too, but it has a jarring effect.
While the book does discuss price appreciation and investing,
I give the author credit for correctly noting that coin prices
don't always go up. He uses the Hawaiian Quarter as an example,
noting that the coin which sold for as little as $19 in 1969
rose to over $2,000 in 1980 and later fell back to $500 or so.
Many authors have tried their hands at writing beginner
books, and each one has its own flavor. This is a perennial
genre, though - the hobby continues to grow and change over
time, and even beginner books quickly get outdated, leaving
room for updates. Ganz' book is a fine starting point for
the beginning collectors of the class of 2008. Its retail
price is $19.95 and it is available at Barnes & Noble and
Ganz adds: "The Bass exhibit photos that you refer to are,
in my opinion, the finest photos ever taken of a museum
display. The photographer is John Nebel (who is still as of
this writing is being sued by the American Numismatic
Association). It required permission from the Bass Foundation,
the ANA and a cast of characters... but is worth it."
[John Nebel is among the most talented and generous people
I know in this hobby, and E-Sylum readers owe him a great
debt whether they realize it or not. John graciously allows
the NBS web site and E-Sylum archive to be hosted gratis on
his computer server in Colorado, and volunteered his time
and programming ability to write the software which creates
the web pages for each individual E-Sylum article. He has
also been working with us to create a new and much improved
NBS web site.
The ANA's lawsuit against Nebel and a group of former ANA
employees is a travesty. It never should have been filed
in the first place, and once done, should have been quickly
settled or withdrawn. The former board deserved to be voted
out for allowing it to happen. It's a time and money sink
for all involved and I hope it finally comes to a resolution
Now back to numismatics - The book's cover and press release
refer to Ganz as "the father of the state quarter program,"
and the hobby owes a great deal to him and others such as
Rep. Michael Castle who made this wildly successful program
a reality. A newspaper article published this week illustrates
how the program has helped attract many newcomers to the hobby.
Here are some excerpts. -Editor]
Steven was five years old when he discovered a handful of coins
I had left on the kitchen counter when I emptied my pockets at
the end of the day -- a couple of quarters, a dime and a nickel
and half a dozen pennies.
But one of the quarters looked different than the others,
and it caught his eye.
"Dad, what's on the back of this one?" he asked, holding
it up for inspection.
Steven's quest to collect all the state quarters began that
day. And he's getting closer.
There's now a wooden frame in the shape of the United States
hanging on the wall of his bedroom. The frame has a place
for each of the fifty state quarters, and they're all filled
except for the five coins to be released in 2008.
Oklahoma has eluded him so far, but it's not for lack of
trying: Carla's coin purse and the coins I leave in the cup
holder in my car are fair game in the search for the elusive
Steven is already looking ahead to the release of the 50th
coin ... Hawaii ... later this year. He's asked if we can
celebrate once his collection is complete, and I was surprised
that he even KNEW the word "luau". I'm pushing for a pineapple
pizza and a Don Ho album.
But his interest in coins has grown beyond state quarters,
and his collection now includes a couple of Kennedy half dollars,
some bicentennial quarters, the Susan B. Anthony silver dollars
the Tooth Fairy left and an odd collection of foreign coins ...
Deutschmarks, Francs, pesos, pesetas, shillings and a couple
of Canadian pennies.
And I'm pretty sure he's the only kid in his class who brought
a handful of Euros for show-and-tell, then explained to the
other first graders how much they're worth and where they're used.
To read the complete article, see:
BOOK PREVIEW: BOWERS' ENCYCLOPEDIA ON COLONIAL AND EARLY AMERICAN COINS
Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing writes: "In other news:
Q. David Bowers has submitted to Whitman his manuscript for a
monumental new encyclopedia on colonial and early American coins
and tokens. This is a massive and detailed work that was started
from scratch (not building on previous works). It gathers Bowers'
own vast knowledge of the subject as well as all the latest
research and insight from colonial-coin experts around the
"The book will be illustrated in full color with thousands of
images, and is projected to land around the 500-page mark. Many
E-Sylum subscribers have contributed their time and talent to
the manuscript, sharing their collections for study and photography,
offering feedback and opinions, etc. This is going to be the
magnum opus of the colonial field."
[Move over, Sylvester, there's a new kid in town! -Editor]
MEDALS FIND THEIR WAY INTO THE RED BOOK
Discussing the latest edition of the classic reference, A
Guide Book of United States Coins, Dick Johnson writes: "The
American Arts Medals, gold bullion medals issued by the U.S.
Mint in the early 1980s, were priced and illustrated for the
first time in the new 62nd 2009 edition of the Red Book just
published. Also the Libertas Americana Medal, débuted in last
year's edition, appears this year as well in a beautiful
"Medals in the Baedeker of United States coins!
"These are not the first medals to be so recorded in the
vastly popular rubric-covered Guide Book. Previously a handful
of medals of Colonial issue were listed. They bore no
denomination but some actually circulated in the coin-starved
"Could this be a trend for the future? If the criteria for
the Red Book is objects created by the United States Mints,
what's next? Bronze Congressional Medals? The gold versions
are bestowed to the recipients where bronze specimens from
the same dies are sold to the public - a very democratic move
by the U.S. Mint. The custom goes back all the way to George
"Then how about the official U.S. Presidential Inaugural
Medals? A gray area? Some were struck by the Philadelphia
Mint, but more often than not these are produced by private
medal firms for two reasons: expediency and flexibility.
Elections are held in November, medals are needed for the
Inaugural ceremony in January. The Mint cannot move that fast,
nor can it provide the many varieties, sizes and packaging
options that private mints can.
"I inquired of Red Book editor Ken Bressett. He replied:
'Adding medals to the Guide Book is not a coming trend.
[However] we are still pondering over what to do with the
'First Spouse' medals, now that their bullion coin counterparts
are listed in the book. All such pieces are there to guide
and educate the public.'
"For decades collectors have asked me to compile a 'Red Book
of Medals.' It can't be done for several reasons. Award medals
are often inscribed to recipients, in effect creating a unique
medal. Some award programs are half a century old. Do you list
fifty unique medals, some of which may never come on the market?
Second, medals don't circulate, so no need for multiple condition
prices. Third, the quantities issued are nowhere near those of
coins. Thus they are held by fewer collectors, don't come on the
market as often, thus less need for a price listing.
"Frankly a 'Red Book of Medals' would only help antique dealers
who occasionally discover a medal or two in an estate. I like
watching them squirm when they realize they sold a medal to a
collector at a fraction of its worth. Or they sit on a medal
they can't sell for decades because they overpriced it. They
just don't know how to price medals correctly. These dealers
should get an appraisal from a medal dealer who knows the current
market and the potential for any given medal."
CANADIAN NUMISMATIC ASSOCIATION CONVENTION BOOK SHOW
Serge Pelletier writes: "A Numismatic Book Show will be held
at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ottawa, Ontario on July 17, 2008
from 1:00 to 4:00 PM. A Canadian first, it is part of the
activities of the 2008 Canadian Numismatic Association
Convention held there July 17-20, 2008.
"Confirmed participants so far include: the Bank of Canada,
who has published four books in the recent years; Canadian
Coin News; Eligi Consultants, publisher of 'The Canadian
Dictionary of Numismatics' and 'The Standard Catalogue of
Canadian Municipal Trade Tokens'; Greg Ingram, author of
several book of Canadian colonial tokens; Harry N. James,
author of several book of Ontario merchants tokens; Yvon
Marquis, author of several French language book; and
Jean-Pierre Paré, author of 'Les banques au Québec'.
For more information, please contact me at serge(at)eligi.ca."
JAMES HALPERIN ON HERITAGE AUCTION GALLERIES EXONOMIA SALES
Responding to Alan Weinberg's earlier comments, E-Sylum
subscriber Jim Halperin (co-chairman of Heritage Auction
Galleries) writes: "For the record, Harvey Gamer is a talented
and honest expert. We like, trust, and admire Harvey and all
of us at Heritage have great respect for his knowledge.
Unfortunately, as Harvey himself said, there were communication
issues. Fortunately for us, Harvey has agreed to continue to
help us with our exonumia consignments.
"I would like to assure all of our clients and friends that
any exonumia consignments we receive will be expertly cataloged,
in our next sale as well as succeeding ones. Harvey was
instrumental in our entry into that field, but the success
of Heritage’s Exonumia Department goes far beyond any one
employee. Numerous people were involved, and happily, Harvey
will continue to be one of them, as our exonumia consultant."
ALAN WEINBERG ON HARVEY GAMER AND HERITAGE EXONOMIA SALES
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SCULPTOR AND MEDAL COLLECTOR KAHLIL GIBRAN DIES
[Dick Johnson submitted the following note about sculptor
and medal collector Kahlil Gibran. -Editor]
Kahlil Gibran, a painter, sculptor, and collector of Renaissance
medals died last Sunday (April 13, 2008). If his name sounds
familiar you may be thinking of his cousin, the Syrian poet,
author and mystic (1883-1931) for whom the current artist was
named. His cousin wrote 'The Prophet' which sold a million
copies early in the 20th century when such a feat was notable.
Kahlil (born 1922) lived his entire life in South End of Boston
and infrequently attended Boston coin shows. That is where I
last met him. We conversed over the years and he often invited
me to come see his collection. Since he had nothing he wanted
to sell I politely declined. Now I wish I had, even if I had
not been able to purchase anything from him.
Like his cousin, he was a painter early in his career, but
unlike his cousin he abandoned it for sculpture. 'Painting
didn't demand enough of me,' he often claimed. As a sculptor
he won dozens of awards and many accolades for his works. His
'Tripod' is at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Also as a sculptor he turned to collecting Renaissance medals
for their patinas, sculptural and tactile charm. He would often
apply sculpture techniques for preserving the patina on these
early medals. One method was a turpentine application. I wouldn't
recommend this but he swore by it. In 1977 he created his
medallic self-portrait, and earlier, in 1969, he created a
half dozen medallic reliefs.
He and his wife, Jean English Gibran, wrote a biography of the
elder Kahlil Gibran. It was published in 1974.
[Below are excerpts from a Boston Globe obituary of Kahlil
Sculptor and painter, inventor and writer, Kahlil Gibran
nourished creativity since he was old enough to mold clay
with his hands, sometimes selling for pennies the tiny
animals he fashioned while sitting on a curb in the South
End when he was only 4.
"I believe talent is a grace," he told the Globe in 1967.
"You don't deny it, you don't affirm it. But if you don't
work at it, you can lose it. The only sin is in squandering
Internationally honored for his work, Mr. Gibran was at
home in many disciplines. From Copley Square to the South
End and Jamaica Plain, his outdoor sculptures trace a map
of Boston's neighborhoods. A tripod he designed is part of
the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New
York City. His paintings, drawings, and sculptures are in
galleries, museums, and private collections across the country.
To read the complete article, see:
SCULPTURE REVIEW ARTICLE ON PAUL MANSHIP'S MEDALLIC ASHTRAYS
[Dick Johnson submitted the following item on a topic
we've discussed earlier - the unusual medallic ashtrays
created by Paul Manship. -Editor]
In 1915 famed American sculptor Paul Manship created the
first of an unusual adaptation of medallic art -- the
medallic ashtray. He created a series of 12 of zodiac theme
among other such ashtrays.
Robert Mueller, a scholar who has studied the work of Manship
for decades (and is curator at New York's Salamagundi Club),
has written a fantastic article on these medallic items in
the Spring 2008 issue of 'Sculpture Review.' Illustrated in
color, with two displayed oversize, Mueller documents these
rare issues, a combination of sculpture and medallic art in
Manship was a cigar smoker in an age when smoking was widely
accepted. His medallic ashtrays were popular as gifts. Manship
turned to Medallic Art Company to replicate his medallic
creations. I once commented we tried to keep at least one of
these in the company's New York City's showroom at all times,
but these were the most stolen item at the firm.
Recently, before he died, Sam Pennington ran an article on
these medallic ashtrays in his Maine Antique Digest (June
2007, the first of a monthly column on medals). He had a rare
opportunity as publisher of an antique publication to observe
-- and collect -- just about anything that turned him on. He
collected aviation memorabilia and medals. Once he discovered
medallic ashtrays he was committed.
Sam was impressed by the fact he could acquire an object created
by Paul Manship, whose sculptural works often sold for hundreds
of thousands of dollars. Yet he could purchase a Manship medallic
ashtray for only a few hundred dollars- which he did as often
as they came on the market.
For his M.A.D. article Sam contacted Bob Mueller who furnished
him with background information on this series. He contacted me
for the Medallic Art connection and I put him in touch with Hugo
Greco, the only living employee who remembered casting and giving
these art objects their impressive patinas. Never produced in
quantity, they were only made one or two at a time, according
to Greco. The zodiac were most requested, obviously clients
wanted their own zodiac symbol. So the number in public hands
is uneven; it is a major feat that Bob Mueller acquired a full
set, illustrated in his 'Sculpture Review' article.
Of average 6-inch size, these objects were small sculptures,
but larger than a typical medal. It gave the artist a larger
canvas for their medallic creation. Mueller calls Manship's
ashtrays "deftly modeled... created for the sheer joy of modeling."
Pick up a copy of the Spring issue of 'Sculpture Review' at
better newsstands while they are still available, $7 U.S., $9
Canada, 8 Euros. You will surely experience a medallic thrill
with this article.
MANSHIP MEDALLIC ASHTRAYS MADE BY MEDALLIC ART COMPANY
ELIMINATING SMOKE ODOR IN BOOKS
Joe Boling writes: "On removing odor from books - do NOT put
them out in the sun. Just look at your daily newspaper after
it has sat in the sun for a few hours."
Robert Rhue writes: "Regarding smoke smell in books, I do
have a possible solution in response to your query. A couple
years ago my daughter broke a jar of pickles in her car, which
then reeked of garlic. I loaned her my portable, battery
powered wardrobe ionizer which I'd bought at Sharper Image
(recently bought out by Brookstone I think I heard). She
put it in her car for a week or two, and walla! Smell gone
forever. They also sell bigger units for rooms, which you
plug in the wall."
Peter Mosiondz, Jr. writes: "Kim Ghobrial laments the smoke
odor in the books she loaned out. I was at the car wash yesterday
and saw a neat product on display named 'Odor Out'. It's a mist
aerosol bottle available in 15 scents and claims to take the
smoke odor out of anything. While I would certainly not attempt
to spray this product directly on the pages of any book, I
thought that a simple test on a very cheap book could be in
"Perhaps spraying the product on a cotton t-shirt or towel and
then draping the unsprayed side of the cloth over the book might
work. Else laying the book (opened) on a shelf or work counter
and then spraying around (but not on) it might be helpful. I
did not notice a price on this product but can't imagine that
it would be much over $5 or so. I would imagine that most car
washes will carry this or a similar product.
"Another possibility is laying some moth flakes or moth balls
along side the book and then covering it with an aluminum
pan (easily obtainable at Dollar Stores).
"I haven't tried either of these methods since I do not have
this problem. If I ever loan a book out it is with the clear
understanding that the borrower or any other household member
does not smoke. Also, when I buy or bid on books it is with
the understanding that smoke odor books will not be accepted.
Hope this helps. Remember to try it first on a cheap book that
would not be missed."
QUERY: GETTING SMOKE SMELL OUT OF BOOKS
NOTES ON CARLING GRESHAM
Dave Bowers writes: "Carling Gresham once wrote me a long
diatribe about how I was trying to act unduly sophisticated
and elitist by referring to my firm's productions as catalogues
(with 'ue') rather than catalogs. I responded that he would
surely have a quarrel with Wayte Raymond, had Raymond still
lived, about his 'Standard Catalogue of U.S. Coins,' with New
Netherlands, which also used catalogue, etc., etc. I then and
still do think it is nice. However, it is Whitman style not to
use 'ue,' and who am I to quarrel with the 'Chicago Manual of
Style'? I also like theatre, not theater. But I do say
'to-may-to,' not 'to-mah-to.' "
QUERY: ASYLUM EDITOR CARLING GRESHAM
COMMENTS ON THE YOACHUM DOLLAR
Jeff Starck writes: "Am I correct in understanding that
modern replicas of whatever Yoachum dollar there was, real
or fake, were struck?
[The article I quoted last week seemed to state that there
were modern 'whatevers' made of the Yoachum dollar, struck
from dies. If one believes the Yoachum Dollars existed in
the first place and that the dies were real, then they’re
restrikes. Otherwise, I'd say they're fantasy pieces.
"Coincidentally, or oddly enough, I distinctly remember
buying the W.C. Jameson book during a 1991 trip to Branson
with my family. It was at a bookstore in Silver Dollar City.
It was our second such trip to Branson, and being from Missouri,
about four hours from Branson, that's where we went on most
"As a 12-year-old just beginning to read Coin World and
Western and Eastern Treasures (a metal detecting magazine),
the tales in Jameson's book were captivating. I just picked
the book up recently from my "library" and browsed through
it. The article about the Yoachum silver dollar will send
me looking there once again! "
Tom DeLorey writes: "I am the world's foremost authority on
Yoachum Dollars. They are modern-made fantasies. Period.
"Back in 1982 two of them came into ANACS. They had a
wonderful story that, according to Ozark legends, they
had been made in 1822 by a trader named Yoachum from native
silver ore mined locally by the Indians. The submittor claimed
that according to folklore they had circulated in the Ozarks
for many years, but he could provide no documentation of this
fact. Supposedly a hoard of eight had been found in a firepit
in a cave.
"I had X-ray tests done on them, and they came out almost
exactly 92.5% silver, 7.5% copper, with a variance of only+/-
.02% or so, with zero trace elements. In other words, precise
sterling silver, just as you might get by melting down sterling
silver spoons or forks. This is impossible in unrefined
"I spoke with the submittor, who changed his story to say
that maybe they were made from melted down British coins.
I returned the coins with an official 'No Decision' notice,
and said that unless he could come up with a contemporary
printed reference to them or a specimen found independently
of the others we could not certify them.
"About six months later, we received another submission
from a party in Indiana. There was just one, with the story
that it was an old family heirloom. I checked our photo records,
and the new specimen was one of the original two, now heavily
artificially toned. We returned it without certification.
"I have recently learned that aluminum copies of the Yoachum
dollars are being sold in the souvenir shop of the 'Silver
Dollar City' tourist attraction in Branson, Missouri. I might
speculate that the owners of Silver Dollar City may have been
connected with the original 'discovery' of them, since the
discovery and subsequent publicity of a genuine Ozarks silver
dollar might be expected to help a tourist attraction of that
name, but I have no proof of such a connection."
Jeff Starck adds: "It should be noted that the bookstore in
Silver Dollar City was littered with regional books. I would
give Jameson the benefit of the doubt that he was in on the
effort to promote a fake treasure."
QUERY: YOACHUM SILVER DOLLAR: APRIL FOOL?
QUERY: ORMSBY BANK-NOTE PRINTING METHOD
Arthur Tobias writes: "I hope one of your readers can help me.
I am continuing my published work to describe the working
methods of 19th century American bank-note engraver W. L.
Ormsby. I am currently working on the second in a series of
articles revealing the 20th century forgeries of his cylinder
scene engravings for Samuel Colt.
"Ormsby describes his method of engraving a bed piece in steel,
hardening it, rolling a cylindrical die over the bed piece with
the transfer press, hardening the die and making bank-note
plates. I assume the original intaglio bed piece is in reverse,
so that the intaglio plates are in reverse, so the bank-notes
themselves are in forward. Am I correct?
"The reason I ask is because Ormsby was able to engrave the
bed piece for the revolver cylinder scenes in forward, create
a roller die in reverse, which when hardened created the
cylinder impression in forward. The third step was the end
of the process.
"I will appreciate (and certainly credit) anyone illuminating
the mid-19th-century bank-note process further for me. I have
a background in fine art etching where the original plate is
engraved in reverse."
YAP STONE MONEY SEEN ON SURVIVOR EPISODE
Max Spiegel writes: "I don't know if any other E-Sylum
readers watch Survivor on CBS, but this past week's episode
featured a trip to the Micronesian island of Yap as the prize
for the winning team. After taking a quick plane ride, they
were wined and dined Yap-style. In a few of the scenes, they
showed several of the famed Yap stones, in varying sizes.
Although the stones now serve a decorative purpose, they used
to be one of the more unusual forms of currency. If anyone is
interested in watching that particular episode of Survivor,
I believe you can still access it online or on CBS On Demand."
NUMISMATIC DIARY COMMENTS AND CORRECTIONS
Canadian Ian A. Marshall writes: "An observation from north
of your border: the comments in your report on your recent
Northern Virginia numismatist meeting regarding the fatal
shooting of Col. Elmer Ellsworth by James Jackson show rather
clearly how the divisions that caused the American Civil War
have never fully healed."
[Well, the ribbing was all in good fun. I'm a transplanted
Yankee myself. Northern Virginia is a melting pot of people
from all over. One doesn't have to travel much farther south
to find Confederate flags flying, though.
Speaking of ribbing, I deserve some myself for the errors I
let slip. Bill Eckberg noticed that in one instance I referred
to the Marshall House as the Mansion House, and wrote "defense"
instead of "defence", which is how the word is spelled on the
plaque. The article Bill passed around was not the article
from the VA Numismatist, but a rewrite with a substantially
different ending. -Editor]
WAYNE'S NUMISMATIC DIARY APRIL 8, 2008
NON-CIRCULATING LEGAL TENDER COINS WITH MULTIPART DESIGNS
Regarding the Royal Mint coin designs, George Cuhaj of
Krause Publications writes: "What they should have explained
is that the multi-part design was a first among CIRCULATING
COINS. The examples on the Chinese pieces cited, are all
collector oriented commemoratives, or as they used to say,
non-circulating legal tender (NCLT) coins."
[Well, the Royal Mint wasn't quite so boastful. Their press
release said only that "This is the first time that a single
design has been used across a range of United Kingdom coins."
It was The Independent that said "The coins ... are believed
to be the first in the world designed to form a unified
picture when put together.' -Editor]
Yossi Dotan described the multipart designs on Chinese coins.
George continues: "Thanks to Yossi for mentioning the
renumbering of the POC Section, a nice re-enforcement. A PDF
of the cross reference of old and new, and soon-to-be listed
issues is available for the asking (from me, at
"As to other China multi-part items, there is a six 20 yuan
piece set of Ancient Chinese Paintings, from 1998 (same
obverse) multi part reverse. The four silver and four gold
(same design) of the Guilin Scenery set of 50 and 20 yuan
of 1998 (individual obverses, multi-part reverse)."
ROYAL MINT UNVEILS NEW CIRCULATING COIN REVERSE DESIGNS
OTHER UNIFIED MULTI-COIN DESIGNS
COMMENTS ON THE ROYAL MINT'S NEW CIRCULATING COIN REVERSE DESIGNS
COMMENTS ON ELIMINATING THE UK PENNY
Kerry Rodgers writes: "Among the comments on the latest
Royal Mint's new reverse coin designs was one from Dave
Lange. He wrote 'There has been talk for years of eliminating
the UK penny, so where will its portion of the design go?'
"As far as I can establish the 'talk for years' has been
purely in the mainstream media. I would be happy to be
disabused if this has some basis in reality.
"I have copies of a number of articles predicting the demise
of the penny. They span a decade. The all come from British
newspapers. They are all purely speculative. The info in
each is exactly the same as are the arguments, only the by-lines
change from article to article. The story is one of many that
seems to be trotted out whenever there is a slow news day or
the silly season has arrived in the Britain.
On each occasion the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a
spokesperson for the Treasury and another from the Royal
Mint make statements that this is all news to them. On the
last occasion some twelve months back the Mint stated that
as far as they were concerned they had a new penny design
on the drawing boards - and so it has come to pass.
"I think as numismaniacs we need to be Very Careful in
citing media speculation as if it had some factual basis,
let alone quoting it at a once and future date, far removed
from its original silly season context. If and when the
penny goeth, let's report that. It will be an historic
occasion. Until then can we ignore the idle gossip from
COMMENTS ON THE ROYAL MINT'S NEW CIRCULATING COIN REVERSE DESIGNS
[The April 21, 2008 issue of Coin World has a number of nice
articles on the new coin designs. In one of them, John Andrew
interviews the designer, 26-year-old Matthew Dent and illustrates
Dent's original design sketch, which went through sixteen revisions
before final acceptance. Of note to bibliophiles, Andrew's
article concludes with this statement: "A book on the redesign
of the United Kingdom's coinage will be published in the autumn
and there will also be an exhibition on the design process at
the British Museum." -Editor]
TIM SHUCK ON DIGITIZING NUMISMATIC LITERATURE
Regarding our discussion on digitizing numismatic literature,
Tim Shuck writes: "The concern over whether current data
formats will survive into the future is legitimate but perhaps
a bit overwrought. Similar concerns were expressed in the early
phases of the transition from film to digital photography; that
is, until it occurred to people that those photo prints in many
situations weren't all that permanent either. Uncertainties
and debate on which digital format, sure, but on whether digital,
not so much. The benefits of digital, from manipulation to
storage to access, are simply too great.
"So what about the question of whether today's formats will be
usable in the future? In a word, maintenance. There seems to be
a sense that once in digital format those data never need to be
touched again, derived I suppose from the experience that once
we own a book we can take it down from the shelf years later in
basically the same condition. For digital data that perspective
is a sure path to data loss, as some have already discovered.
"Data need to be maintained just like a house or a car need
to be maintained. There are other issues but at a minimum if
you standardize on a data format for digital file storage you
also need to stay current with that software manufacturer's
upgrades; and if it happens that the format goes away, follow
the path recommended by the manufacturer or third-party vendors.
Periodically test your files, particularly after upgrades; and
do I need to mention backups?
"As for storage of physical documents, there is a practical
limit to the amount of space available both personally or
institutionally. Saving everything in physical format is,
I think, not reasonable (probably a heretical thing to say
on a numismatic bibliophile forum).
I know many numismatists have significant document libraries,
which of course is a legitimate personal choice. But life is
temporary. Will those responsible for your estate be as sanguine
toward those walls filled with books and literature?
"What's needed is discrimination, 'the quality or power of
finely distinguishing' as Webster states it. No reasonable
person would suggest that because the Gutenberg Bible is
available in digital format it's ok to throw away the original.
But surely that level of conservatorship is not needed for
every numismatic periodical, catalog, and book that's ever
been produced. Choices need to be made, based on experience
and perspective, on what should be kept as a physical object,
and what might be better kept (and maybe even be more usable)
as a digital object. I think the storage constraints will
force the decision that way.
"Personally, I'm in both worlds. I enjoy reading a book, the
ones in paper or cloth, because I find that format more
conducive to contemplative reading. For periodicals, either
current or past, for reference, and for research I'd rather
view digital files; and look forward to the day when digital
documents are more ubiquitous, better quality, and more easily
used. The cleverness of entrepreneurship will eventually make
the physical vs digital choice moot, but we're not there yet."
THOUGHTS ON DIGITIZING NUMISMATIC LITERATURE
MOVIE REVIEW NOTES: THE COUNTERFEITERS
Joe Boling writes: "On the movie "The Counterfeiters",
Steve Feller, Fred Schwan, Danny Spungen and his wife, and
I went to see it one night during CPMX. I found the numismatic
content to be fairly sparse and subject to errors. It's really
a morality play about the inmates and their jailers."
Warner Talso writes: Let me pick a nit with Larry Gaye's review
of the movie 'The Counterfeiters'. The review states the
purpose of Operation Bernhard was to destabilize the British
Pound. This was the original idea, but was quickly dropped.
There is no way the Nazis could have produced enough notes to
accomplish this purpose. And many in the Nazi government
objected to the idea. Rather, the purpose became to create
hard currency to support the German war effort. Finished
notes were graded and sorted into three Classes (wahl).
Class I, and highest quality notes were used to pay spies in
neutral nations. Class II, and next highest quality notes,
were used to pay SS Units, partisans, and collaborators. Class
III notes were saved for a possible future plan to drop over
England. Class IV were rejects.
"As a sidelight, Cicero (Elyesa Bazna), a famous and valuable
Nazi spy in the British embassy in Ankara, Turkey was paid
in Operation Bernhard notes. Cicero was a valet to the
British ambassador. He photographed top Secret documents and
sold them to the Nazis. He was reportedly the highest paid
spy of the war. Cicero saved his money and after the war
tried to set up a business with the notes. The forgeries were
discovered and confiscated. Cicero died destitute."
MOVIE REVIEW BY LARRY GAYE: THE COUNTERFEITERS
ON BANKNOTES IN WALES
Regarding banknotes in Wales, Joe Boling writes: "There is
a long series of private circulating checks issued by the
Black Sheep Company, dating at least back into the 1960s.
Of interest is that each piece has an imprinted tax stamp,
not unlike the stamps printed on US checks of the 19th century.
The one I used to own was a 2d stamp on a 1969 ten shilling
WOULD WALES WELCOME A WELSH BANKNOTE?
LINCOLN MEDAL: THOU ART THE MAN
I've commented before on the clever ads of Coin Rarities
Online (Dave Wnuck and John Agre). The April 21, 2008 issue
of Coin World has another amusing one (p38). Pictured is in
1861 Abraham Lincoln medal with the inscription "Thou Art The
Man / President / 1861" The caption below states "It's a
tribute to President Lincoln, and a classy thing to yell at
a golf tournament."
I located a medal of this description in my copy of Zabriskie.
It's no. 27, "issued by Henning & Eymann. The illustrated
piece is signed "A I Henning NY." The firm's web site indicates
the piece is DeWitt AL 1860-8.
"Thou Art the Man" is a great phrase. An Internet search
turned up an 1844 story of that title by Edgar Allan Poe,
and a Bible reference: "And Nathan said to David, Thou art
To view images of the Lincoln medal, see:
PHILIPPINE NUMISMATIC AND ANTIQUARIAN SOCIETY FEUD REPORTED
[I came across this note on the Filipino Numismatist web
site this week. Are any of our readers familiar with the
goings-on at the Philippine Numismatic and Antiquarian
Recently, I was surprised to know that the Philippine
Numismatic and Antiquarian Society, the oldest numismatic
organization in the Philippines is bombarded with political
controversy. Two factions emerged, a newly set of elected
officers facilitated the establishment of a new governance
mostly composed of younger members while the other faction,
the incumbent officers, who declined to submit to the majority,
remained and decided to continue their own version of the
So now, there are two Philippine Numismatic and Antiquarian
Societies. Both are competing against each other and have
concluded their respective auctions both on same set of dates.
The incident started when last December, the organization
held its annual election. Majority of the officers who won
the election elected their pick for presidency. However, the
minority of the group did not accept the mandate. Thus, started
the creation of two organizations. The first one is headed by
Tomas De Guzman, Jr. or “Temboy” as he is known to fellow
numismatists. On the other hand, Atty. William Villareal
leads the other faction and installed himself as president
To read the complete article, see:
HAPLESS THIEF DEPOSITS STOLEN COINS WITH VICTIM
"Two days after stealing a rare coin collection, police said
Wednesday, an alleged thief in Germany took his loot to a
bank for safe-keeping -- and ended up handing the coins to
the very man he'd stolen them from.
"The stunned bank teller, an avid coin collector, recognized
the coins as being the same set that had been stolen from his
house and called police, said Saskia Schneider, a police
spokesman for the western German city of Dortmund."
To read the complete article, see:
FEATURED WEB SITE: THE CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL
This week's featured web site is the "Official Site of the
Congressional Gold Medal", suggested by John and Nancy Wilson.
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
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