Volume 13, Number 36, September 5, 2010
We have no new subscribers this week. Our count holds at 1,369. Who can recruit a few new subscribers for us? Who do you know who might enjoy reading The E-Sylum?
This week we open with information about the next issue of our print journal, The Asylum, followed by a review of the new Whitman book on U.S. error coins. Other topics this week include source materials behind Karl Moulton's upcoming book, copper alloys, and alternative future coinages.
To learn about Lord Nelson's Breast Star of the Order of the Bath, the first Carnegie Hero Medal, Canadian Diefendollars, and how to remove leeches with Military Payment Certificates, read on. Have a great week, everyone!
David Yoon, Editor of our print journal The Asylum has sent the April-June 2010 issue to the printers. He forwarded the table of contents. It looks like a great lineup. Remember, while The E-Sylum is free to all, only paid members of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society receive The Asylum. -Editor
John and Nancy Wilson submitted this review of the latest title in the Whitman Publishing "100 Greatest" series. Thanks! I also have a copy of the book, and I've added my thoughts as well. -Editor
“100 Greatest U. S. Error Coins,” Authored by, Nicholas P. Brown, David J. Camire, and Fred Weinberg, Introduction by Q. David Bowers and Foreword by Douglas Mudd and Richard G. Doty, Whitman Publishing, LLC, 2010
Reviewed by, John and Nancy Wilson, NLG
The release of Whitman’s coffee-table book of 100 Greatest U.S. Error Coins, by Nicholas Brow, David Camire, and Fred Weinberg makes this the seventh book in this series of richly illustrated coffee-table references by Whitman Publishing, LLC. The Hardcover reference has 144 pages and more than 500 illustrations. The enlarged and high-resolution color pictures of the greatest errors starts with the 2000-dated Sacagawea dollar/ Washington Quarter “Mule” worth about $250,000.
Each error is listed with an enlarged photograph and information about the coin such as how it was made, how many are known and information about the known history of the piece. Historical values are listed with estimated prices for 1980, 2000 and 2010. Where appropriate, close-up photographs are shown to better identify the piece. In some cases more modern pieces are shown along with the historical pieces.
Number 38 is a 1918-D Buffalo nickel struck on a Mercury dime planchet. A 1959 Jefferson nickel is also shown struck on a silver dime planchet. These are just a few of the great error coins depicted in the reference.
The 14 pages of “Error Coins, Inside and Out,” in Appendix A, are done in an easy to read manner. It explains how coins in general are made along with a listing of most of the types of error coins and how these particular coins came into existence. Damaged, altered and counterfeit coins are also explained. Appendix B has information on the Sacagawea Dollar Errors. Appendix A and B, is worth the price of the reference by themselves.
This book is especially interesting to people like us who only have a casual interest in error coins. The information on the types of error as well as information on the 100 greatest errors tweaks our interest to look deeper into this fascinating series. We can see from our attendance at several coin shows over the past few years that error coins are becoming more popular as time goes by.
The authors, along with the contributors did a masterful job of piecing together a reference that will generate great interest in the numismatic, as well as non-numismatic community. We are certain it will bring many more collectors into the fascinating field of error coins.
The well done reference retails for $29.95 and is available from: Whitman Publishing, LLC, 3103 Clairmont Road, Suite B, Atlanta, GA 30329, (800) 546-2995 or visit their web page at: www.whitmanbooks.com
Here are my own thoughts on the book, and a discussion of how it compares to the other recent book on the topic. -Editor
Like the Wilsons, I have only a casual personal interest in collecting error coins, but I greatly appreciate their importance to numismatics and have deep respect for those who study them. By studying what can go wrong in the minting process one learns everything there is to know about that process, and that's where true numismatic expertise lies.
It was no coincidence that error coin expert and Whitman coauthor Fred Weinberg was called upon to be part of the panel of experts who authenticated the missing Walton 1913 Liberty Nickel in 2003. "Weinberg was arguably the most knowledgeable of the group in mint processes and how they affect the appearance of the coin. He declined to look at the Walton coin until he had inspected all the other four nickels." ("Million-Dollar Nickels" by Montgomery et al, 2005, p285)
Now for my thoughts on the book. Since I know some of you will ask, it failed my back-of-the-book test - there was no bibliography or index, only several pages of ads (not that there's anything wrong with that...). I looked within the text for footnotes or other text indicating the source of some of the coins or their background information, and found some, but was left wanting more.
What collections have some of the great old-time errors resided in? Where was their discovery first documented? There is a huge body of written material in various error publications and fixed price lists of the past 50 years, not to mention within the pages of publications like COIN World or Numismatic News. While the book does have descriptions of the pedigree of many of the pieces it does not reveal where to look for further information, and I found that disappointing.
My back-of-the-book test did reveal some useful information, however. Appendix A explained an important fact about the book:
While this book covers only the 100 greatest striking errors, we feel it necessary to briefly touch upon a few of the most common die-error types (referred to as varieties among coin collectors).
Which explains why you won't find the famed 1955 Doubled Die error in this book. Another fact explained in Appendix A is the amazingly low error rates at the U.S. Mint today, a result of greatly improved processes and equipment:
All the major striking errors that have been found in the past five years could probably fit in a person's two hands. Literally, less than a handful of major striking errors are produced and leave the Mint annually.
Which explains the high rarity (and enormous prices) that many errors, even very recent ones, bring in the marketplace today. I was astounded by the price estimates for many of these coins. (Maybe I wouldn't have been if I'd paid more attention to the articles in the numismatic press). For example, #99 on the list is a 1974 Jefferson Nickel struck on a 1973 Jefferson Nickel. 2010 price estimate? $15,000-$17,500! A 2000-P Sacagawea Dollar mule is estimated at $150,000-$250,000. Yes, those are the right number of zeros. Yikes!
Now for the inevitable comparisons to the other recent book on the topic. First, I should note that it's relatively rare for this situation to occur. The numismatic market is relatively small, and it's unusual for publishers to compete head-to-head, releasing books on the same topic within a short span of time. This happened recently when two books on the subject of National Commemorative Medals appeared. Now Whitman's publication of 100 Greatest U.S. Error Coins comes shortly after the Zyrus Press book, World's Greatest Mint Errors by Mike Byers (see my review from April of this year).
Although the Byers title indicates a broader subject area, as I pointed out in my review the vast majority of the error coins discussed and pictured in the book are U.S. coins. So the topic areas very much overlap.
The other difference in the books' titles is that the Whitman book limits itself to what the authors deem the "100 Greatest" errors. I didn't count, but the Byers book pictures and describes more errors. It's also a larger book. Although both are big, coffee-table size tomes, the Byers book has 232 pages to Whitman's 127. The Byers book actually stands a fraction of an inch taller and has a nice glossy dust jacket covering a black cloth cover. As a fussy bibliophile, I'll give the Byers book the edge.
Size is only important as a tie breaker, though - what matters most is the content. In the Byers book, most of the coins are accompanied only by a paragraph or two of text. While many of the coins get a similar treatment in the Whitman book, there are several entries with half a page or more of text.
How good is the text? Since I'm not a collector of errors, there could be many omissions or mistakes in the books and I'd be the last person to figure it out. But both books have a wealth of experience behind them. In fact (and not surprisingly), some of the same error coin experts are credited in both books. Whitman co-author Fred Weinberg is the first listed contributor to the Byers book, and Mike Byers is a contributor to the Whitman book.
So which book to buy? Easy - both! As a bibliophile I've only rarely met a book I didn't find something to love about. The photography is top-notch in both volumes, and there are numerous coins that appear only in one of them. In fact, if one were to perform a detailed comparison, I suspect one might find fewer coins in common to the two books than not.
That's the beauty of the error coin field - its depth and breadth is huge. First, all coins ever minted are fair game, which is of course a huge field in itself. Then on top of that, there are hundreds of different things that can go wrong in the minting process, creating an absolutely immense field of collecting possibilities. Enjoy!
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: BOOK REVIEW: WORLD'S GREATEST ERRORS BY MIKE BYERS (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v12n14a03.html)
THE BOOK BAZARRE
Jay Beeton, Marketing & Education Director of the American Numismatic Association writes:
Thanks so much for running Andy Lustig’s account of the ANA’s Destination Education program at the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site. So you’ll know, we’re already planning our next Destination Education program March 20-23 in Carson City, Nevada, immediately following the Sacramento Spring National Money Show. I’ve attached some information on the program, although we’re still working on some details (such as price and lodging). I also look forward to reading any suggestions for future sites from your readers.
Carson City sounds like a great destination for a numismatic seminar. Below are the details Jay forwarded. -Editor
Mark your calendars! March 20-23, 2011— Following the ANA National Money Show in Sacramento — Day one will be spent at the Nevada State Museum, formally the Carson City Mint. Lectures by authorities on all aspects of coining in Nevada will be presented.
If that isn’t enough to entice you, Fred Holabird will lead a mine tour the following day in Virginia City. He will talk about the Comstock load, and make the West come alive!
Questions? Contact us ... 719-482-9849 • email@example.com
Last week I suggested "a visit to the Philadelphia Mint, where Mercanti and his design team could show how the coin creation process works in the digital age.". Maybe I was on to something... -Editor
Joe Boling writes:
Somebody should push that idea of a post-convention seminar at the Mother Mint. Guess where the ANA convention is going to be in 2012?
I hadn’t checked the schedule, but it sounds like a match made in heaven.
The ANA isn't the only numismatic organization holding seminars, so those who can't make Carson City next year have other options. -Editor
Bruce Perdue adds:
After reading about the ANA Seminar which was held after the ANA Convention I would like to point out that Central States Numismatic Society has been holding seminars at least twice a year and sometime more often. CSNS has a seminar scheduled for October in Hutchinson, Kansas. For complete information see www.centralstates.info/fallseminar.html .
We are planning a seminar in Fort Wayne in April of 2011. The seminars are only $10 for members and $20 for non members (excluding any travel or lodging expense).
THE BOOK BAZARRE
Last week Karl Moulton submitted a portion of the manuscript for his upcoming book, John Ford and the Franklin Hoard. The segment dealt with the 1966 Professional Numismatists Guild arbitration hearing on the coins. -Editor
John W. Adams writes:
Karl makes a number of statements about what happened at the hearings - who is the source? This is a touchy subject and should be treated as such.
Karl Moulton writes:
The quotations at the beginning come from Eric Newman's unpublished 1966 16-page document. Other descriptions of activity at the hearing come from Mr. Newman via personal conversations with him when conducting background research on this subject several years ago.
There were two letters that were not part of the text submission for The E-Sylum and will be included in the book. Both are unpublished at this point in time. One was from PNG panel Chairman Ronnie Carr on December 6, 1966 and the other was from John Ford on December 12, 1966.
The final quote came from Ford's 113-page 1967 PNG document (which was the source of the "Franklin Hoard" title). It is also unpublished, but several copies exist in American numismatic literature circles, one of which is in my library.
I have a copy of this in my library, too. Here are images, published first in The E-Sylum on August 31, 2008. -Editor
One section regarding Lester Merkin is particularly sensitive, so I asked Karl for more background. -Editor
Shortly after this 1966 P.N.G. hearing, Lester Merkin resigned from the Professional Numismatists Guild. He had not allowed the panel to make a unanimous determination on the genuineness of the pieces. Of course, that was his role since he had been selected by the defense.
This was an insinuation presented by Walter Breen afterwards in his 60-page "Evidence to be Read at the Trial of the Knave of Hearts: Report on the Controversial USAOG $20 Coins (PF Hoard) to the Garland-Ryan Arbitration Panel, 1967". His report was an unpublished amicus brief in case the trial went to the courts. Since Merkin did not agree with the other panel members on the subject of genuineness, I added the presumption, "Of course, that was his role since he had been selected by the defense".
A copy of Breen's report is in my library, having come from the David Fanning II sale of June 4, 2009, lot 141.
Here's another excerpt from one of two versions of Don Taxay's sworn statements that he made upon his return to New York from California after the final arbitration determination had been announced in February 1968. It should be noted that Taxay's trip was funded by John Ford and Harvey Stack (as written in his sworn statement). These come from the June 2009, Fanning II sale, lot 175.
"...Mr. Merkin replied by saying that the Ryan-Garland coin did not compare favorably with the Kosoff specimen. I said to him, "But Lester, the Kosoff piece is a Philadelphia Mint restrike." This fact had not only been stated in reports submitted to the Panel, but was alluded to during my meeting with it. Mr. Merkin just smiled, and replied, "What kind of restrikes do you think these coins (the "Franklin Hoard" pieces) are?"
Because of the nature of the marketing of the Franklin Hoard material, there is no possibility that everything will be known and/or validated, but, there will be more in the forthcoming book that has not been seen or known previously. The book will include material that covers not only the PNG arbitration, but the entire scope of events surrounding the marketing of the "Franklin Hoard" items from 1952 onward. The material will be chronicled as well, with numerous images throughout.
Thanks to Karl for providing these notes on his sources. What he originally wrote about Merkin could be interpreted in a way that questions his integrity, but this background material indicates the contrary. Merkin's comments to Taxay indicated that by the end of the arbitration proceedings he believed the coins were restrikes (not genuine). He didn't force the panel to vote one way or the other - his own vote simply dissented with the majority opinion, which prevented a unanimous determination.
We'll look forward to the publication of his book and its accompanying source materials. Thanks for sharing this preview with E-Sylum readers. -Editor
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: THE 1966 ANA PNG ARBITRATION HEARING AND ROOSEVELT UNIVERSITY (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n35a17.html)
Following up on earlier discussions of coin alloys, Dick Hanscom forwarded this table of copper alloys from “Inorganic Chemistry”, part of the International Library of Technology, 1902/1898. -Editor
THE BOOK BAZARRE
Bill Rosenblum submitted this nomination in our discussion of "worst numismatic books." -Editor
To my way of thinking the worst numismatic book ever printed is The History of Coins and Symbols in Ancient Israel by Wolf Wirgin and Siegfreid Mandel (New York: Exposition Press, 1958). Dennis Kroh in his Ancient Coin Reference Reviews gave it a minus 3 stars and said that both the text and plates were horrible. He said "if you have it already, throw it away".
Paul Federbush in a review of it in The Shekel (XII, 1, p.34) says that "the book seems to have been written with the primary objective to shock the reader" and "In this it succeeds." Among the theories put out by Wirgin and Mandel are: 1) the bronze coins of Alexander Jannadus are really coins of Alexander the Great, 2) the years on Jewish War Shekels do not refer to the Revolt but to the seven year Shmita cycle, (according to the Torah every seven years agricultural land is left to fallow), 3) Bar Kochba coins are from Herod the Great and 4) symbols such as the palm tree, anchor, cornucopia, pomegranate etc., are actually sexual symbols, 5) the silver shekel is a natural progression of an Aes Graves, 6) The undated Bar Kochba coins were struck in year one and the ones that say "year one" are from year two. And so on.
I do have the book but I didn't buy it. It came from Dad who was (still is) a numismatist but did not know ancient coins. So I can't throw it away, but today is the first day I've looked at it in 15 or 20 years. I actually met one of the authors at a Denver, Colorado show in the 1970's. At the time I was just learning about ancient Jewish coins and that 15 minute conversation set my learning process back quite a number of years.
I think all other books are vying for 2nd place.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NOMINATIONS FOR THE WORST NUMISMATIC BOOK (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n35a06.html)
I rarely have time to review current numismatic periodicals, but I did want to mention a few items this week. -Editor
The current issue of the American Numismatic Association's journal The Numismatist has a number of good articles, including two by Arlyn Sieber (see www.money.org ).
The cover article is about the new Grand Canyon Quarter. It's an interesting design that I think works well, but I'll withhold judgment until seeing one of the coins "in the flesh". It would take a big coin (or medal) to truly do justice to the scale of the canyon, but the chosen design just might work on the quarter.
Sieber notes that Fine Arts Commission member Witold Rybczynski "thought the whole program was a bad idea because of the difficult of depicting the subjects in this small format."
The article focuses on the Canyon and its history, but I was disappointed to come to the end and realize that the article actually said very little about the coin itself. That seemed odd for a numismatic publication. Just because a coin is new is no reason to gloss over the numismatic facts. Who designed the coin? What was their artistic inspiration? What did their preliminary sketches look like? When did minting start, and where there any production problems?
Sieber's other article expands on a topic covered in April here in The E-Sylum - the rare and interesting medal honoring football coach Vince Lombardi. The medal's design clearly shows the influence of the "stacks of reference material on Greek and Roman coins" reviewed by the designer. There was more numismatic content to this article, although I'm not sure I learned anything that wasn't already published in the newspaper articles quoted in The E-Sylum.
I think it's a great choice of topic for a broad-based publication like The Numismatist. I would encourage the ANA to seek out sport publications and web sites to reprint or reference the article - perhaps it could lure some new blood to the hobby. Those of you who aren't members should consider joining - information is available on the ANA's web site (see link above).
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: MEDALLION DEPICTS VINCE LOMBARDI AS LAUREL-CROWNED HERO (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n16a27.html)
Naturally, I wasn't disappointed with the numismatic content in Dave Bowers' Historian's Diary column. Titled "A Very Rare Bank Note from China" the article discusses the history behind an interesting obsolete banknote from "The China Bank" of Maine. Basically, "the whole thing was a sham, and state examiners found the bank had very little in the way of real assets..."
Paper Money, September/October 2010
The cover article by Joseph J. Gaines is "The Indian Princess Vignette Used on Obsolete Currency". The stories behind the images used on obsolete banknotes are often very interesting - the tale of James Audubon's famous grouse is only the tip of the iceberg. Roger Durand authored several books on the topic, and think we'll see more and more research in this area. For one, it's a ripe and never-ending field of new research, and for another, today's scanning and computer imaging technology brings these miniature artworks to life like never before.
The cover image is a great example - here, big as life, is the famous "Indian Princess" that graces one of the rarest pieces of Confederate paper money. As Gaines describes in the article, the vignette had appeared earlier on notes for the Bank of Charleston South Carolina produced by the firm of Hoyer and Ludwig. All in all, the author identifies nine different entities which used the vignette, beginning as early as 1837.
Other articles in the issue cover topics such as National Currency, Canada's "Diefendollars", the local currency of Central City, CO, and the banknotes of Panama. Bibliophiles would appreciate the account of the 7th annual SPMC author's forum, held in Memphis in June.
SPMC will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2011, and will be offering $100 New Author Awards for the five best short articles (1,200 words or less). I asked Paper Money Editor Fred Reed about the program, and he writes:
The new author awards are the result of a very generous and anonymous SPMC member who is now a prolific author, but had to begin as a "new" author years ago. He remembers the excitement of seeing his work finally "in print," and wanted to share that joy with others who haven't yet taken that first step. The benefactor figured a little incentive like cash might launch some promising writing careers by turning wannabees into the next group of dedicated researcher-writers who will share their findings with the rest of the paper money hobby through SPMC's journal. I think it's a great idea. We set the standard at entry-level (1,200 words or less) so we're not looking for ginormous articles. But all the famous writers in the hobby that are names we all know, like Bowers, and Hessler and Huntoon, started out with that first tentative effort. I applaud the generosity and insight of our donor.
TAMS Journal, May-June 2010
The lead article is "A Remembrance of TAMS' Beginning" by George Fuld. It's an interesting and concise account of the formative years of the Token and Medal Society. It had its beginning in 1952 with a notice in the American Numismatic Association's Numismatist magazine. About ten people responded, including George and his father Melvin.
Informal discussions were held at the Middle Atlantic Numismatic Association (MANA) show in September 1960, and a month later an organizational meeting was held at the Michigan State Numismatic Convention in Detroit, and TAMS was officially born. George notes that today, "50 years later, only four of these organizational members are still alive - [Dave]Bowers, [Thomas] Fruit, [Clifford] Mishler and [Hank] Spangenberger."
Of interest to bibliophiles is this note: "In 1964, Joel Segel, founder of The Franklin Mint, contributed $100,000 to TAMS, allowing the society to begin publishing books on tokens and medals. Foremost among the major works was R. W. Julian's 1971 book on Unites States Mint Medals."
Nice article, and a nice issue, which includes "San Francisco Exonumia and 1898 Golden Jubilee" by William D. Hyder and Looking for Answers about a "CC" Maverick" by Robert D. Leonard, Jr. For more information on TAMS, see tokenandmedal.org .
Loren Gatch provided this summary and images from his article in the September/October 2010 issue of Paper Money. Thanks! -Editor
My article recounts the political and economic circumstances in which the “Diefendollar” became a campaign prop during the Canadian elections of 1962. A speculative attack on the Canadian dollar occurred during the election fight between the ruling Progressive Conservatives under John Diefenbaker and the Liberals under Lester Pearson.
Although pressure on the Canadian dollar was long in building, Diefenbaker and the Conservatives took the blame for the result, which was a 7.5 cent devaluation to 92.5 cents U.S. (hence the ‘detachable’ feature of the note). The Conservatives suffered considerable losses in the election, and left power the following year.
Two of the images are “Diefendollar” varieties, and the third is a rather less imaginative pro-Diefenbaker riposte. Although the “loonie” has had a floating exchange rate since 1970, its value against the U.S. dollar has been a recurrent theme of Canada’s politics, and political scrip a staple of its elections.
By the way, that 1962 idea of a detacheable segment of the note subsequently became a sort of "meme" of political propaganda currency. I've come across other examples, most recently from Australia.
Christopher Eimer writes:
Following the review in the 23 August E-Sylum of the Adams - Chao work on the medals of Admiral Vernon, in which it was rightly acclaimed by Dick Johnson, Dick Doty expressed the wish that the book 'had included information on manufacturers of Vernon medals'.
In point of fact, amongst the myriad of detail that the book covers is a section dealing with Metals and Engravers (pp. 201-10), in which the makers of these medals are discussed; and while it does not provide all the answers, the questions that it does ask raises our awareness of the issues and takes us one step nearer in being able to deal with them.
What a great forum and service to numismatics The E-Sylum has become.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: BOOK REVIEW: MEDALLIC PORTRAITS OF ADMIRAL VERNON (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n34a08.html)
Len Augsburger writes:
Ancestry.com is opening its entire website for "free" this weekend. It requires a 14-day "free" trial. So the content is free, but you have to remember to cancel before the free trial period expires. Still a good deal for anyone who wants to try it out.
Great opportunity for numismatic researchers to poke around for new information! Thanks for the heads-up. -Editor
Bill Snyder writes:
Congratulations to Joe Boling for expressing what many of us have felt regarding international registered mail - "In my opinion, it's better to use regular mail than to call attention to the potential value of a mailpiece by registering it".
While on the subject of the U.S. Postal Service, I should mention trouble Fred Lake and I had recently. I had a small consignment in his recent sale. He mailed me a settlement check, but it didn't arrive. So he sent me another one. That one did get here, and I deposited it and let him know. Then the other day his first check arrived, with a postmark date of August 2. I'd have been happy to deposit this as well, but I tore it up and notified Fred, who writes, "One month for delivery !!! Not too bad if you are Pony Express." He adds however, "I think that they do a pretty darn good job overall." -Editor
Yossi Dotan writes:
You may wish to tell Sheldon Banoff that Yom Kippur in 1965 was on Wednesday Oct. 6, starting on Tuesday evening Oct. 5. (Sheldon wrote "If the exact date the course started was September 29, then I'm pretty certain that Yom Kippur started on September 28 that year, as the class began on the Evening that completed the day of Yom Kippur of 1965.")
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: MORE ON THE ROOSEVELT UNIVERSITY COURSE IN NUMISMATICS (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n35a16.html)
The Royal Mint is biting the bullet and making a change in the composition of two coins. -Editor
Britain's 5p and 10p coins are to be substantially changed next year, causing potential chaos for the millions of people using vending machines and parking meters.
The changes, which involves the coins being made from a different metal and becoming thicker, have never been officially announced by either the Royal Mint or the Treasury. Some experts have told The Daily Telegraph the change is a "disaster" and they are becoming increasingly alarmed the new coins will fail to work in hundreds of thousands of machines, and that the costs of implementing changes will run to as much as £100 million.
The "silver" 5p and 10p coins have always been made from a metal known as cupronickel, an alloy made of 75 per cent copper, 25 per cent nickel. Indeed, all shillings, which preceded the 5p coin, were made from cupronickel following the end of World War II.
However, from January 1 next year they will be made from steel, with a nickel coating. In most respects they will look identical and weigh the same, but sharp-eye observers will notice they will become 11 per cent thicker, moving from 1.7mm in depth to 1.9mm.
They will also become magnetic for the first time.
The change, proposed by the former Labour government, is designed to save the Royal Mint between £7 million and £8 million a year, allowing it to use steel rather than copper, which has surged in price over recent years. Making the cupronickel alloy is also a relatively expensive process.
However, while most shoppers and schoolchildren receiving their pocket money might not notice the difference, nearly all vending machine and parking meters will. Office workers buying a cup of coffee or someone in a rush to park their car could suddenly find their money – perfectly legal tender – is not accepted.
All machines will have to have their software updated, and in most instances, need to be recalibrated to recognise both the new coins and the old ones, which will continue to be in circulation for at least a decade.
While the Royal Mint has given the industry with a few samples of the new coins, they have not provided final production versions, making it impossible to start changing the machines. The industry said it does not have enough engineers to undertake the overhaul in less than four months.
A similar change to the 1p and 2p coins was made in 1992, with those made before that date non-magnetic bronze, while those made afterwards a magnetic copper-plated steel. The vending machine industry said that this change did not cause any problems because most machine never accepted coppers.
To read the complete article, see:
New steel 5p and 10p coins a 'disaster'
Dick Johnson saw the article, too. Here are his thoughts on another way to handle the situation. -Editor
Changing the metal composition of any coin should only be accomplished with great care. The British Royal Mint is learning this the hard way.
A news story in today's Sunday Telegraph points to the proposed composition of a nickel coated steel where steel is replacing the price increasing copper in the nation's 5 and 10 pence coins. The new composition is magnetic and, it is rightly expected, to play havoc with the country's half million vending machines.
Like it or not, coins must be compatible with vending machines. In England 42 million pounds -- that's the amount of money, not weight -- of coins pass through this industry's machines every year. Such small cash transactions are vital to this industry, and, to take a futuristic view, to the very existence of coins themselves. If it were not for vending machines, all transactions would soon become entirely electronic.
Wake up collectors and numismatists! Support the vending machine industry and their desire to continue the use of coins, or future collectors won't have coins to collect from circulation!
The British proposal of replacing any coin metal with a steel substitute should be strongly considered by the U.S. Treasury Department. Don't use steel at all. Don't do it. England's problems would be multiplied five-fold here in America.
Instead, consider the far more intelligent solution of eliminating low denomination coins. For two reasons, it completely eliminates now and forever, the rising cost of any metal used in the manufacture of low denomination coins. Second, in an ever increasing economy, the purchasing power of low denomination coins are such their value becomes uselessly smaller in time.
The solution, which I have mentioned many times here in E-Sylum: abolish low denomination coins, replace with rounding transactions to a convenient value (as 10 cents), and strike higher value coins. Ideally the U.S. Treasury should stop striking the cent and nickel, and start striking $5 and $10 coins for circulation.
By press time there were 81 public comments to the Sunday Telegraph story. Some were political, some nostalgic about bygone coins and purchasing power, some about the unintended consequences of government actions, but some endorsed the elimination of the coins and adopting rounding. Bully for them!
Historically, the U.S. Treasury Department has made intelligent decisions about changing coin compositions. I have applauded the Treasury for such actions in the past as not endorsing the proposed Feuchtwanger composition for cents in 1837, to the copper coated zinc cent change of 1982. The former would have been a scrap metal nightmare when coins would have to be scrapped and melted. The 1982 decision is brilliant for the present scrap technology in that the melted copper-zinc composition could easily be transformed to brass.
Let us hope present Treasury officials are just as intelligent with the problems they face today with low denomination coins.
Read the Sunday Telegraph story. It is an eye opener!
To read the complete article, see:
New steel 5p and 10p coins a 'disaster'
My son Tyler likes $2 bills, so a couple weeks ago I stopped in my bank and asked for some. One of them had stamps for the Where's George web site. We've mentioned this site before - it's where users can enter the serial numbers of dollar bills and other currency to track where they've been and where they go again after they leave your hands. It's a harmless pastime. I've entered a few bills myself over the years, although I've gotten only a couple subsequent "hits" on "my" notes.
The other morning I stopped for a bagel on the way to work and got another Where's George note in change. No stamps on this one - everything was written out in neat letters using different color pens. I was amazed that someone would take that much time out of a day for such a trivial pursuit. But everyone has their hobby. So to help out I entered both notes on the site and I'll spend them somewhere this coming week. We'll see if they turn up again somewhere.
According to Where's George, The $1 note "has traveled 584 Miles in 174 Days, 5 Hrs, 21 Mins at an average of 3.4 Miles per day. It is now 584 Miles from its starting location." The spender wrote: "This is bill #12,600 I've entered. It was entered during a trip to Alabama for a friend's wedding and spent at Vienna Exxon on 04/03/10."
Whew! 12,600 Where's George bills? That's more bills than I have books in my library. As for the $2 note, "This bill has traveled 26 Miles in 2 Yrs, 17 Days, 11 Hrs, 11 Mins at an average of 0.03 Miles per day. It is now 26 Miles from its starting location." It was spent in Washington, DC, and probably spent most of that time in a bank teller's drawer.
To visit the Where's George web site, see: www.wheresgeorge.com
THE BOOK BAZARRE
THE AUCTION SALE OF THE ANDERS FRÖSELL LIBRARY
CLOSES ON SEPTEMBER 12, 2010
CLOSES ON SEPTEMBER 16, 2010
(614) 414-0855 • firstname.lastname@example.org • GFK@numislit.com
imPULSE, a publication of the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, published an article in a recent issue about the 1st person to be awarded the prestigious medal. With permission from Editor Walter Rutkowski, here are some excerpts. The fund was established by Andrew Carnegie in 1904. -Editor
One hundred and six years — to the day — that the first awardee of the Carnegie Medal performed his heroic act, on July 17, 1904, members of his extended family gathered at his gravesite to place a bronze marker signifying his distinction as a medal awardee. The markers, made in the likeness of the medal, are made available to the families of the deceased awardees by the Hero Fund.
The Hero Fund’s attention was called to the lifesaving actions of Louis A. Baumann, Jr., by his father, Louis A., Sr., in a handwritten letter of Sept. 15, 1904, that included signatures of six witnesses to the rescue. The nomination was the 201st to be received by the Hero Fund since its founding the previous April 15. To date, more than 83,000 nominations for the award have been made.
The penciled note survives in the Commission’s files, as does the case investigator’s typewritten report, which details the heroic act. According to the report, Baumann was one of 10 young men who on “an ideal summer day” in July 1904 set out for a farm pond near his home “for an afternoon’s sport in the water.”
One of the youths, Charles Stevick, 16, dived into the pond from a springboard, but he shouted for help when he surfaced and then sank. Twice Baumann entered the water for him but each time had to break away from him and return to the bank to catch his breath. On his third attempt, Baumann grabbed Stevick by the hand and dragged him along the bottom of the pond until the other boys, forming a chain, helped remove him from the water. Stevick was unconscious when taken from the pond but was revived on the bank.
“I first remember seeing the medal as a teenager,” Bauman said. “The inscription on the back of it impressed me, even at that age.” He was referring to the Bible verse from the New Testament, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13), that rims each medal.
Proving Carnegie’s prescience, members of Baumann’s family had his medal on display, propping it against his headstone for the ceremony. The grave marker, cast in bronze, had been set in a sunken granite post atop the grave. The Hero Fund began distributing grave markers, at no charge to the awardees’ families, in 2007 and to date has issued 200 of them
For more information about the Hero Fund and its medals, see: Carnegie Hero Fund Commission (www.carnegiehero.org)
Here's a nice article about the ‘Money on Paper’ exhibit at Princeton University. Great poster art. -Editor
"Money on Paper," at the Firestone library graphic arts exhibition hall through January 2, makes the case that bank notes, even in America, "have constituted one of the dominant forms of visual communication for the past two centuries."
The literal poster child for this argument comes from 1920s Czechoslovakia, in the form of a bill designed by a popular artist.
"We have chosen as the poster image for the exhibit a drawing from a Czech banknote by the art nouveau artist Alfons Mucha, which shows how creative paper money design can be," said Alan Stahl, curator of the collection.
Princeton's assemblage is the oldest coin and paper money collection in the United States, built primarily with gifts from collectors.
The idea for the current show came from one, alumnus Vsevolod Onyshkevych, who has his own extensive collection of international paper money, Stahl said. The show was also able to borrow works by engravers of bank notes from the university's art museum, he said.
During the same period as Mucha, major artists such as Emile Vloors of Belgium and Eliel Saarinen of Finland helped design their currencies. The Netherlands later turned to R.D.E. Oxenaar and J.T.G. Drupsteen for its distinctive notes.
The Princeton show features a large selection of Ben Franklin's nature-print notes, as well as issues from Paul Revere and Thomas Coram, who applied classical images to bank notes from colonial South Carolina.
One of the exhibition's featured works comes from celebrated wildlife artist John James Audubon. A banknote engraving of a grouse, it was the Audubon's first published work, and is grouped with other items from him, including an original watercolor.
After a side trip into the Confederacy, the American portion of the show goes on to an 1896 series of notes from noted artists, considered a high point of the nation's currency.
As an accompaniment to the show, Stahl has prepared a publication that includes the full catalogue of the exhibit as well as essays from other contributors.
During the run, on Oct. 17 at 3 p.m., Mark D. Tomasko will offer a free lecture in McCormick Hall on "The Art of Bank Note Engraving," followed by a reception and curatorial tour of the exhibit. Other tours are scheduled for 3 p.m. on November 22 and December 12.
To read the complete article, see:
Princeton exhibit examines ‘Money on Paper’
This week we have information on numismatic sales from around the world. First up is this item on the Warburton collection of world paper money, offered by Spink. -Editor
Mr Warburton’s collection contains about 1,000 banknotes, mostly produced during and between the First and Second World Wars, and is expected to sell for between £320,000 and £420,000 at Spink in Bloomsbury, London, on October 3.
One note in the collection — which was also Mr Warburton’s favourite banknote—is set to fetch up to £6,000 at the auction.
It is an emergency issue 50 cents note, produced by the Seychelles government shortly after the First World War on November 10, 1919, and the Warburton example was the first one produced — serial number 0001.
Auctioneers Spink say it is “of the highest rarity and importance”.
Two Bank of England notes — one for five shillings and the other for two shillings and sixpence, both emergency issues from 1941 during the Second World War — are likely to sell for between £5,000 and £6,000.
“His collection was patiently assembled over 40 years and is truly a life’s work. While age robbed him of his physical ability to carry on with his other hobbies, his banknote collecting sustained him into his later years, providing an outlet for his unstoppable curiosity and common ground for the many friendships he made around the world.”
To read the complete article, see:
Bakery chief’s collection of notes to go on sale
Is it just me, or do extremely rare British banknotes seem dirt cheap? Here are a couple images of other lots in the sale. -Editor
Lot 30: Banque du Congo-Belge, 5 francs, Kinshasa, 3 June 1920, black and pale blue, allegorical maiden, cherub and beehive (Industry) at left, reverse blue, elephant and hippopotamus at centre
Lot 293: British Armed Forces, Special Vouchers, 3rd series De La Rue specimen set ND (1946),
Caroline Newton of Baldwin's in London forwarded a press release on the results of their recent Hong Kong auction. Here's an excerpt. The sale also included a large selection of Chinese Sycees; we recently had a Featured Web Site on sycees. -Editor
There was an undeniable air of excitement surrounding the 49th Hong Kong Coin auction with, among other rarities, the inclusion of an extraordinary 1897 Chekiang Province Year 23 Silver Pattern Dollar. Lot 517 of the 1130 lot auction was one of only two pieces known to Baldwin’s, the other being the Goodman Coin, sold at auction by Superior Galleries of California in June 1991.
It was also unknown to Eduard Kann when he wrote his standard catalogue work on Chinese coins in 1954. The present specimen was brought in to Baldwin’s by the great grand nephew of one Vice-Admiral Alois von Accurti (1869-1919), to whom the coin originally belonged. The Vice-Admiral was active in the naval operations off Crete in 1897 but retired from the Imperial Austro-Hungarian Navy soon after.
Accurti served as naval attaché at several embassies of the Austro-Hungarian Empire around the World. We know he was in London in 1914, and according to family tradition he also served in the Far East, where he acquired, among other souvenirs, Japanese swords and oriental porcelain some of which are still owned by the family. Accurti was not a coin collector, but was presumably presented with this coin in his official capacity.
The lot carried an impressive estimate of US$150,000 – 200,000 and realised an even more impressive US$368,000. Both Baldwin’s and the vendor are absolutely delighted with the result.
The results from the sale reflect just how much interest was generated pre-sale by such a large number good quality, rare items. As in previous years lots were selling for up to 10 times their estimates with sensational bidding on the Chinese coins proving that there has been no decline in the strength of the Chinese artefact market.
Although bidders flew in from all over the world the strongest prices were attained from Chinese bidders both in the room and on the internet. The pre-sale estimate of US$1,156,150 was smashed with lots achieving a staggering US$2,005,709.
For more information, see: baldwin.co.uk/
One of the most famous military medals of all has resurfaced and will soon be offered for sale. -Editor
Britain’s great naval hero could have been an easy target for a sniper because he insisted on wearing an array of medals into battle, said auctioneer James Morton.
Now one, the Breast Star of the Order of the Bath, is up for auction in London and is forecast to fetch up to £500,000.
Experts hailed it as the most important piece of Nelson memorabilia to go under the hammer more than 100 years. Mr Morton said: “Nelson was intensely proud of all of his medals and ordered cloth and wire versions to be sewn on to his uniforms so he could wear them even in battle.
“Nelson liked his bling. At the beginning of his career he only had the Breast Star medal but by the time of Trafalgar he had gained several more gold medals which he wore on his jacket.
“He was warned that they could make him an easy target in combat. If he had not liked his gold so much, maybe he would not have been shot at Trafalgar, who knows?”
The silver, gold and enamel medal was awarded in 1797 following his victory at the Battle of Cape St Vincent in the Caribbean. When he died at Trafalgar in 1805 it was inherited by his brother who sent it to the hero’s friend, Admiral Sir Richard Goodwin Keats. It has stayed in the Keats family until an anonymous descendant of Sir Richard decided to get it valued.
To read the complete article, see:
LORD NELSON'S MEDALS MADE HIM A TARGET AT TRAFALGAR
The articles I saw described the medal as being sold by Sotheby's, but Christopher Eimer set me straight - "The medal is to be sold by Morton and Eden on 22 October 2010". For more information, see their site at www.mortonandeden.com/ . Below are images and text from the Morton and Eden press release. -Editor
Following the Admiral’s death in 1805 his orders and titles were inherited by his brother, the Rev William Nelson. In 1814, William Nelson sent the original Bath Star to Nelson’s great friend and confidant Admiral Sir Richard Goodwin Keats. Depicted in numerous paintings and sculptures including the statue on Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square, the Star is now being offered for sale anonymously by a direct descendant of Admiral Keats and has been consigned to auction from overseas.
Never before publicly displayed, the Star is to be offered for sale by specialist London auctioneers Morton & Eden on Friday October 22, fittingly the day after Trafalgar Day. It is estimated to fetch £300,000-500,000 but with competition, the eventual selling price could well be higher.
Said auctioneer James Morton: “This is an exceptionally important piece of Nelson memorabilia which is even more remarkable having been rediscovered more than 200 years after the Admiral’s death at the Battle of Trafalgar. We are privileged to have been entrusted with the task of offering it.”
The majority of Nelson’s decorations were famously purchased for the Nation through Christie’s in 1895 for £2,500. They were subsequently put on public display in the Painted Hall at Greenwich Hospital but on the night of Saturday December 8 1900 they were stolen by a thief who hid himself until he was alone in the building. He left with the treasures via an upstairs window. A £200 reward was offered for his apprehension but the man was not caught until 1904, when he was sentenced to seven years’ penal servitude. Apart from Nelson’s watch and seal, which can be seen today at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, no traces of the stolen gold medals and other relics have ever been found.
To read the complete press release, see: MORTON & EDEN TO SELL LONG LOST NELSON INSIGNIA (www.mortonandeden.com/nelsonimages/nelsonpr.pdf)
This extensive article from Coin Update interviews Dr. Alessandro Sassoli, founder of the United Future World Currency movement. -Editor
Few people had heard of the United Future World Currency movement until Russian President Dimitri Medvyedev held up one of the prototype coins in support of the concept of an alternative world currency to the US Dollar. He was heard to comment, “Here it is, you can see it and touch it. This is a symbol of our unity and our desire to settle such issues jointly.”
With this statement from Medvedev, the world’s media glare focused on the idea of a worldwide single currency alternative to replace the US dollar as a potential and feasible alternative. Dr. Alessandro Sassoli has been behind the idea of this project for more than 14 years.
Michael Alexander: It’s a pleasure speaking with you today, but first, I have to ask, the UFWC came to the forefront of international media attention only after the Russian President held up one of your coins in support of your movement at the last G-8 meeting in Italy, why has it taken so long for the world to find out about this extraordinary project that you’ve organized?
Dr. Alessandro Sassoli: The idea of a super-continental currency began in 1996 during a meeting I had with professor Arthur Shlessinger Jr, who was an advisor to President Kennedy. But the time to go ahead with a detailed plan of action wasn’t right. The new European single currency was on the minds of almost all Europeans and the world, and there were still a lot of problems to solve. The thought of an international currency had to be put on hold.
In 2000 and with just two years before the introduction of EURO banknotes and coins, I registered the trademark “Eurodollar”. The thought behind this was looking for a way of linking in a monetary capacity, the USA and Europe. We finally launched the project at the G8 summit in Italy, July 2009. The Cabinet of the Italian Prime Minister hosting the G-8 gave me their approval to present model coins to all the World Leaders attending.
It could have been the end of the subject there and then and all I might have hoped for was a “thank you” letter from their secretaries or personal assistants. It wasn’t until Russian President Medvedev held up the coin with such enthusiasm during his press conference for all of the world’s media to see and I was astonished! “That’s our coin!” and the project of the United Future World Currency (UFWC) was really launched in a big way.
Michael Alexander: We’re going to discuss the coins now, the ones which were presented to the heads of State and governments last year in L’Aquila. Can you tell me a little about their design and if they have any specific meaning?
Dr. Alessandro Sassoli: I’m glad you asked about this! Yes, the designs do have some symbolism. On the obverse of the one unit coins which we presented, the coin has the numeral “1” repeated five times in subtle layers which represent our five inhabited continents and the year of “2009” beside it.
The coin includes five stars and carries the inscription “UNITY IN DIVERSITY” which is of course the basic idea behind our concept and project. This was the side of the coin which was designed by Luc Luycx (who is the designer of the common reverse of the EURO-zone coins) and very well I must say.
The reverse of the coin shows a beautiful “Tree of Life” which also has five different kinds of leaves, each leaf can be found growing on all five continents. The inscription reads “UNITED FUTURE WORLD CURRENCY”.
The designer for this side was Laura Cretara who was the former Chief engraver at the Italian State Mint who also designed the Italian 1 Euro coin. I’m very proud of the high levels of craftsmanship which resulted!
To read the complete article, see:
Interview with United Future World Currency Project Coordinator
And speaking of alternatives to popular currencies, Loren Gatch forwarded this Wall Street Journal article on new Malaysian silver and gold coins. He writes: "Practically, they are not much more than bullion pieces, but the personalities involved are interesting--in particular Ian Dallas, aka Abdalqadir al-Sufi." -Editor
Umar Vadillo bounds into a hotel room here in northern Malaysia with several stacks of gold and silver coins in his hands and slaps them down on a coffee table. "This," Mr. Vadillo says, "is what it means to be free."
A quarter century ago, this Spanish-born Muslim convert set to work with other European Muslims to find a substitute for the U.S. dollar and other paper currencies.
Pricing goods in greenbacks, they argued, was unfair. Many countries earn their income from finite resources like oil and other minerals, they said, while the U.S. and other countries can crank up their printing presses to pay for them—especially after Richard Nixon helped break the Western world's historical dependence on gold as a measure of value by taking America off the gold standard in 1971.
Last month, Mr. Vadillo's solution took shape when the local Muslim-led government in Malaysia's Kelantan state joined forces with Mr. Vadillo to introduce Islamic-style gold dinar coins as alternative currency.
Mr. Vadillo and the Kelantan government have persuaded more than a thousand businesses here in the state capital, Kota Bharu, to paste stickers in store windows saying they accept the coins.
Ordinary people can also pay taxes and water bills in gold and silver instead of paper money.
"Our lands are being subjugated," says Mr. Vadillo, a powerfully built 46-year-old with a shiny suit, swept-back hair and a tidy goatee. "Today, in Kelantan, we're fighting back."
Plenty of people have their doubts about the dollar, as well as other currencies that aren't backed by gold or silver.
American libertarians such as Ron Paul frequently call for the reintroduction of a gold-backed currency, arguing that the Federal Reserve's ability to print money causes inflation and destroys savings.
Gold bulls have developed a cult following among investors who worry that precious metals are the only reliable store of value during rocky economic times.
An initial run of coins worth about $640,000 and ranging from one dirham—containing about $4 worth of silver at current prices—and one dinar—worth $189—to an eight-dinar coin worth $1,518 sold out quickly, prompting Malaysia's political leaders to say the paper-based ringgit, worth around 32 U.S. cents, is still the country's legal currency.
To read the complete article, see: Malaysian Muslims Go for Gold, But It's Hard to Make Change (online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703882304575465623070689934.html)
Dick Johnson submitted this non-numismatic-but-nevertheless-interesting item about an honest newsboy from 1910. The article was recounted in a blog post of "Yesterday's News" from Minnesota. -Editor
“Morris,” the energetic proprietor of the news stand at Fourth street and Nicollet avenue, spent an anxious two hours yesterday trying to locate the owner of $4.99 that had come into his possession. In the rush of early morning business someone gave the young news vendor a $5 gold piece for a penny in buying a Morning Tribune. In the first lull in business Morris looked over the morning receipts and was surprised to find the yellow coin in the collection of coppers.
“Some guy might need that,” Morris said to himself, and proceeded to go over in his mind the customers likely to have made such a mistake. Soon an inspiration came to the lad and he dashed a few doors down Fourth street and breathlessly entered a restaurant where a number of his patrons are in the habit of taking breakfast. Morris went direct to the man he suspected and soon ownership of the gold piece was proved to the newsboy’s satisfaction and the money turned over. Morris received a penny in exchange for the $5 coin.
Big tipper. You'd think he'd have been given more than the cost of the newspaper for all his trouble. The blog included the above image, which just might include our young hero Morris: "If you look closely, you can see a newsboy striding toward the camera in this 1910 photo of Fourth and Nicollet in downtown Minneapolis."
Great photo. And as a numismatist, I can't help but wonder what numismatic treasures passed through the hands of the people shown here. -Editor
To read the complete article, see: Sept. 3, 1910: An honest newsboy
Leon Saryan forwarded this article from the Philadelphia Daily News about a questionable choice of venue for passing counterfeit money. -Editor
Last week, Ronald T. White walked out of the Cinnaminson Police Department in Burlington County after using fake $20 bills to post bail.
It didn't take long for police there to realize they'd been duped. They immediately signed an arrest warrant for forgery for the 35-year-old Camden man.
"As soon as you looked at it you could tell it was counterfeit," said Det. Sgt. William K. Covert.
So police aren't sure if White was brazen, dumb, or just plain broke when he walked into the department on Monday, claiming he had paid too much for his bail and wanted a refund. Now he's in the Burlington County Jail.
"When the guy walks into the station, it doesn't get much easier," Covert said. "We thought he was gonna flip out but he was like 'No big deal' "
Police arrested White at a Route 130 bus stop on July 7 on shoplifting charges for allegedly stealing clothes from Burlington Coat Factory and items a Shop-Rite in the township. According to Covert, White had two outstanding arrest warrants from Camden on minor violations, with bail set at $400. White, who had $900 on him when arrested, posted bail the following day.
When White went to Camden, police there told him the bail was only $200, and he should return to Cinnaminson for a refund. Covert said White had two more counterfeit $20 bills on him when he was arrested.
Covert said White claims he won the money playing "three card monte" at the Susqehanna Bank Center in Camden. The Secret Service has been notified.
To read the complete article, see:
Suspect paid his bail with counterfeit money
The following article is republished with permission from the MPC Gram, the electronic newsletter for collectors of Military Payment Scrip and other military numismatic items. To subscribe, see: my.binhost.com/lists/listinfo/mpcgram -Editor
Editor's Note: This is the second article submitted by Jim Downey on behalf of Richard Roller.
I experienced one use for MPCs that will not be found in the instruction manual and that is for leach removal. In the flooded rice paddies, rivers, streams and canals of the Mekong Delta, there were always leaches. Leaches were anywhere and everywhere, and as a Grunt, you couldn't escape them. Your body heat served as a magnet and the slimy, little suckers [pun intended] always went for the warmest place on your body, your crotch.
We carefully tucked our fatigues trousers into our boots and used an extra pair of boot laces to wrap around our legs, just above the calf muscle and below the knee, to prevent leach entry to our upper body portions. But the suckers are small when hungry and slipped by our best defenses. At first, you just don't know they are there. Once attached, their saliva contains an anti-coagulant that allows them to keep feeding until they become gorged and fall off. The wound they create keeps seeping long after they are gone, then becomes itchy and when scratched with dirty fingernails, becomes infected.
Some guys, the newer arrivals, would use bug juice [insect repellent] to squirt on the feeding leaches. This caused the leach to react violently and it would regurgitate a putrid mixture of your own blood and its saliva into the wound as it retracted. A nasty, painful infection was certain.
Heat, slowly applied, was the best method for leach removal. When it became uncomfortable, the leach would simply release itself and fall away. To save their smokes for relaxed pleasure, the GIs would take a MPC note and fold it corner-to-corner lengthwise, rolled it tightly, give it a couple of twists and dip one end into a can of gun oil. Everyone carried a trusty Zippo, even the nonsmokers and those who chewed. When burned, the oil soaked MPC note acted like a smoky punk stick and lasted long enough to free yourself from being the host to those bloated, creepy bloodsuckers.
We never gave a thought about wasting a couple of dollars to get the leaches gone. If we had had them, we would have gladly used $100 bills for the same purpose. Anything to get rid of the leaches, anything!
This week's Featured Web Site is the Odessa numismatic museum, featuring a brief history of money circulation in Ukraine. Check out this "Scythain dolphin coin".
Money circulation in the Southern territory of modern Ukraine was born in epoch of Greek's movement here from Asia Minor and development of trade relationship between them and other Greek world, and also between aborigen Scythian tribes.