The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. For more information please see our web site at coinbooks.org

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There is a membership application available on the web site Membership Application

To join, print the application and return it with your check to the address printed on the application. Membership is only $15 to addresses in the U.S., $20 for First Class mail, and $25 elsewhere. For those without web access, write to:

David M. Sundman, Secretary/TreasurerNumismatic Bibliomania Society
P. O. Box 82 Littleton, NH 03561

Asylum

For Asylum mailing address changes and other membership questions, contact David at this email address: dsundman@LittletonCoin.com

Submissions

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, just Reply to this message, or write to the Editor at this address: whomren@coinlibrary.com

BUY THE BOOK BEFORE THE COIN


You won't regret it!

Click here to read this issue on the web

WAYNE'S WORDS: THE E-SYLUM NOVEMBER 21, 2010

Wayne Homren

Among our new subscribers this week are Andy Ungerleider, Paul H. Wheeler, and Cary Calgary. Welcome aboard! We now have 1,392 email subscribers, plus 97 followers on Facebook, including George Fuld, Benjamin Keele, Evgeni Paunov and Eko Santozo.

This week we open with a brief update on the recently closed Kolbe & Fanning numismatic literature sale, and information on two new titles from Whitman Publishing. Other topics include institutional libraries, image copyrights, Spence's metal, and the tokens and medals produced by the Lovett family.

To learn about the making of coin images for Eckfeldt and DuBois' A Manual of Gold and Silver Coins, another coin Eliasberg was missing, Wayne's walk-by at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the Philadelphia Mint's toilet paper shortage and the diesinker who died in the outhouse, read on. Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society

KOLBE & FANNING'S 119TH MAIL BID AUCTION SALE RESULTS

David Fanning forwarded this report on the results of this week's numismatic literature auction. -Editor

Kolbe & Fanning sale #119 Kolbe & Fanning's latest mail-bid sale closed on Thursday, November 18. Consisting of 588 lots, the sale managed to include a bit of everything, including important works in a number of different areas of numismatics. Some highlights included:

--Special combined deluxe editions of the Garrett and Norweb sales held by Bowers and Ruddy/Merena, issued in limited editions of 40 and 20 copies respectively, sold for $1600 each.
--A copy of a 1787 issue of the New-Haven Gazette, featuring a contemporary description of Fugio coppers, sold for $900.
--A copy of John H. Hickcox's "Historical Account of American Coinage" sold for $660.
--A 1788 newspaper account of the Massachusetts state mint sold for $650.
--A lot of 19 issues of George Dillingham's rare Coin Circular sold for $625.

The firm's next sale will be their public sale at the Waldorf Astoria, held in conjunction with the New York International Numismatic Convention, on January 8, which features 500 lots of outstanding material from around the world. For more information, see the firm's website at www.numislit.com.

NUMISMATIC CONTENT IN WHITMAN’S PALIN “COLLECTOR’S VAULT” BOOK

Dennis Tucker forwarded announcement focusing on the numismatic content in their latest decidedly non-numismatic book. More interesting I think, is how the "Collector's Vault" format used in the recent Whitman book on gold is translating to the non-numismatic market. -Editor

Palin and Alaska Quarter Designs

Whitman Publishing has released a new VAULT book devoted to Sarah Palin, Tea Party favorite and former Alaska governor. Sarah Palin, An American Story: A Collector’s Vault retails for $49.95. The oversized slipcase-bound book is available online, including at WhitmanBooks.com, and in bookstores nationwide.

In this richly illustrated scrapbook, author Dave Lifton tells the uniquely American story of Sarah Palin—from small-town Idaho to the governor’s mansion in Alaska, to center stage on the national political scene.

The special Collector’s Vault includes behind-the-scenes photos and insightful text. Tucked into pockets and envelopes are more than 40 replicas of Palin-related memorabilia: campaign bumper stickers; famous speeches; old postcards; newspaper clippings; a Boston Tea Party poster; personally autographed “thank-you” cards; official proclamations as governor; and more.

Palin-Treasury Warrant01 Whitman Publishing has created numismatic products since 1934, and is best known to hobbyists for its annual Guide Book of United States Coins, popularly called the “Red Book.” While the Sarah Palin Vault is not a hobby title, it does include numismatic content, including several pull-out replicas. One such facsimile is of the Treasury warrant the United States wrote to purchase Alaska from Russia in 1867, for the sum of $7.2 million—less than 2 cents per acre.

The warrant is made out to Edouard de Stoeckl, Russian minister and envoy extraordinary to the United States, who negotiated on behalf of the empire. It was signed by Francis E. Spinner in his capacity as treasurer of the United States. (Spinner is famous among currency collectors for his elaborate signature.) Accompanying the Treasury warrant is a reproduction of the Treaty of Cession signed by Czar Alexander III, formally concluding the purchase agreement.

Another numismatic pullout is a three-inch sticker of the 2008 Alaska state quarter—the 49th coin issued in the U.S. Mint’s 50 State Quarters® Program—featuring a grizzly bear and a freshly caught salmon.

“The Sarah Palin Vault book is available nationwide in stores like Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Books-A-Million,” said Whitman publisher Dennis Tucker. “Tens of thousands of copies will be sold. We see it as an opportunity to boost the numismatic hobby with mainstream visibility.”

Other coins are used to illustrate Alaska’s history and Sarah Palin’s life story. The obverse and reverse of the 1990 Eisenhower Centennial commemorative silver dollar (designed by John Mercanti and Marcel Jovine) are shown alongside the 34th president’s official White House portrait. “Ike” signed the Alaska Statehood Act in 1958, and the following year Alaska became the 49th state admitted into the Union.

A two-page sidebar called “Majestic Alaska: Mount McKinley” includes enlargements of the obverse and reverse of the 1916 McKinley Memorial gold dollar designed by Charles Barber and George T. Morgan. This section also observes that the martyred president was featured on the Series of 1934 $500 Federal Reserve Notes.

The two-page opening spread for chapter 2 shows Governor Palin talking about the process she went through to choose Alaska’s state quarter design. The coin was unveiled in Anchorage on April 23, 2007, and the U.S. Mint released it into circulation in August 2008. Palin is shown standing alongside blowups of four potential Alaska quarter motifs.

Sarah Palin, An American Story is a 10 x 12–inch hardcover coffee-table book in a library-quality slipcase. It retails for $49.95 and is available online and in bookstores nationwide.

Hardcover in slipcase
144 pages, plus inserted replicas
Author: Dave Lifton (author of Barack H. Obama, President of the United States: Limited Edition Collector’s Vault)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0794832768
ISBN-13: 978-0794832766
Retail: $49.95

I think the "Collector's Vault" format is a masterful marketing move for a print publisher threatened by the growth of Internet competition. It focuses on the physical format of the object for sale, the hardcopy book, and embellishes it with features that distinguish it from both "ordinary books" and online content. I can almost hear the product manager say, "Hey, Google - scan THIS!" -Editor

SNEAK PEEK: THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE FIRST U.S. MINT

And here's a teaser about another Whitman book, planned for release early next year. -Editor

Len Augsburger writes:

Our publisher has posted the tear sheet on the PCGS US coin forum.

Secret History of First US Mint tearsheet

Dennis Tucker writes:

The Secret History of the First U.S. Mint, by Joel Orosz and Len Augsburger, will answer all your questions --- and more. You'll be able to buy the book in January 2011.

What a great title! One edit I'd make in the blurbs, though. Orosz and Augsburger aren't like History Detectives; they are History Detectives. A great deal of work over a number of years has gone into the making of this book. I'm looking forward to it! -Editor

Joel Orosz adds:

The title came out Whitman's marketing department, but since it was evocative of Walter Breen's "Secret History of the Gobrecht Coinage," Len and I kinda liked it.

To read the complete Coin Forum post, see: forums.collectors.com/messageview.cfm?catid=26&threadid=795036

THE BOOK BAZARRE

“A Guide Book of Franklin and Kennedy Half Dollars.”


The latest entry (#15) in Whitman’s popular Bowers Series! Lavishly illustrated in full color, this book features high-resolution enlargements for important overdates and other varieties; mintages, specifications, and market values in multiple grades (including Full Bell Lines for Franklin halves); buying tips; and more. 304 pages. By Rick Tomaska; foreword by Q. David Bowers. Order your copy for $19.95 www.WhitmanBooks.com , or call 1-800-546-2995.

SEMINAR: COLLECTING BOOKS WITHOUT LOSING YOUR SANITY

Jared Camins-Esakov forwarded this invitation for readers of The E-Sylum. -Editor

Cozy Library In addition to being the Assistant Librarian at the American Numismatic Society, I am the founder of C & P Bibliography Services, a company devoted to helping collectors manage their book collections. On December 7th I will be co-hosting (with Ryan Payne, financial planner, and Burt Fendelman, attorney) a seminar on "Collecting Books Without Losing Your Sanity" in New York City.

We would like to extend an invitation to the readers of the The E-Sylum to attend the event. I think many of the E-Sylum readers might find the seminar interesting, and we would love to meet (or see again) some of the numismatic bibliophiles in New York City and surrounding areas.

The event is at 5:30 on Tuesday, December 7 in the American Numismatic Society's conference room. RSVP is required. The invitation is available online at www.cpbibliography.com/Seminar_invitation_Dec07.pdf .

To be a numismatic biblioMANIAC is to have already lost a portion of one's sanity to the collecting of books. But no matter - the seminar should be of interest regardless.

By the way, I was curious about the cozy library pictured in the event brochure. I asked Jared and learned the picture is of the Thomas Hughes Library in Rugby, Tennessee, a nineteenth-century utopian colony. There's a another, black and white image on the Wikipedia page about the colony: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rugby,_Tennessee . -Editor

THE BOOK BAZARRE

DAVID SKLOW - FINE NUMISMATIC BOOKS offers the Q. David Bowers Research Library Sale Part IV on February 12, 2011, including: Crosby's Cents of 1793 original 1897 edition with plates . www.finenumismaticbooks.com. PH: (719) 302-5686, FAX: (719) 302-4933. EMAIL: numismaticbooks@aol.com. USPS: Box 6321, Colorado Springs, CO. 80934. Contact me for your numismatic literature needs!

EXHIBIT: MONEY & MEDALS FROM THE COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG COLLECTION

Erik Goldstein, curator of Mechanical Arts and Numismatics at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation forwarded this press release about their new exhibit featuring the Cornell hoard of colonial currency discussed in earlier E-Sylum issues. -Editor

Colonial Williamsburg North Carolina currency hoard A new Colonial Williamsburg exhibition showcases the “Cornell Hoard” —more than 6,600 pieces of colonial currency squirreled away by a North Carolina loyalist prior to the American Revolution — and other fascinating examples of coins and paper money from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s extensive numismatics collection.

“Dollars, Farthings & Fables; Money & Medals From the Colonial Williamsburg Collection” opens Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 25 at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and explores facts and falsehoods, realities and rumors associated with money including the Founding Fathers and the origins of the dollar.

“Many people collect coins as tangible links to distant times and places,” said Erik Goldstein, curator of mechanical arts and numismatics. “Our collection spans 1,000 years, providing period images of a wide array of people, places and things. Within it, there are datable depictions of famous people, art, architecture, nature, industry, historical events, and even patriotic and moral symbols.”

1702 French Ecu 1726 Brazilian gold coin

The exhibition contains examples of the extremes in money circulating in colonial and Revolutionary America: the largest coin — an 18th-century French ecu nearly two inches in diameter — to the smallest — a 17th-century English halfpenny; from the largest denomination — an 18th-century Brazilian gold coin worth 20,000 reis — to the smallest denomination — an English farthing worth one-quarter penny; from the prettiest coin — a 17th-century Dutch ducaton — to the ugliest — a 17th-century Bolivian “cob” coin worth four reales.

Several firsts in American paper money populate the exhibition. The first “greenback” is a £6 note issued in 1757 by the New Jersey colony. It was the first bill to sport a back side printed in green ink. The first one dollar bill appears as a 1767 issue in the Maryland colony, and first $100 bill was issued in 1779 by the independent state of South Carolina.

The exhibition also lays to rest several popular myths about money including the real price the Dutch paid for the island of Manhattan in 1626, the real truth about George Washington’s famous coin toss and a popular myth about coins that protected the holder from witchcraft.

“Dollars, Farthings & Fables; Money & Medals From the Colonial Williamsburg Collection” is the fifth new exhibition opening during the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s silver anniversary year and will remain on view through December 2012. Admission is by Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket, Museums ticket or Good Neighbor Card.

Erik Goldstein adds:

The notes remained with the Cornell family until 1913 when they went to the New York Public Library. They were then sold to a dealer (I believe it was Dick Picker) in the 1970s. I believe all the other notes are now scattered to the far corners of the globe!

Kay O. Freeman adds:

Samuel Cornell silver basket Samuel Cornell (1731-1781) spent some of his money on silver made by Myer Myers (1723-1795), one of the best and most sought after silversmiths in America. This basket dates from the 1770s. It is currently in the collection of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Other silver pieces Myers made for Samuel Cornell are a pair of wine coasters, a dish ring (Yale Art Gallery), coffee pot (Museum of the City of New York), and a cann (Wadsworth Atheneum). "Cann" is an early term for drinking cup with handle and bulging lower body (mugs have straight sides; beakers no handle; tankards have lids). Specialized terminology - just like numismatics!

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: MORE ON THE NORTH CAROLINA COLONIAL CURRENCY HOARD (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n46a08.html)

INSTITUTIONAL LIBRARIES: THE SAVIORS OF RARE LITERATURE

WPNS 1878 Booklet cover As part of my research for an article on George Rode, a key player in the founding of the American Numismatic Association, I contacted Elizabeth Hahn, Librarian of the American Numismatic Society in New York. I was seeking color images of the 1878 Constitution and By-Laws of the Western Pennsylvania Numismatic Society (WPNS), of which Rode was a founding member.

I'd learned about Rode many years ago when I was researching the early history of WPNS. I'd written to Hahn's predecessor Frank Campbell, who furnished me with a black and white photocopy of the complete booklet, which I used to create a reprint. In all the years I've been collecting numismatic literature I've never encountered another copy of this pamphlet. To the best of my knowledge, the ANS copy is the only remaining original in the world.

Thank heaven for institutional libraries like those of the ANS and ANA. They're not perfect, but through their stewardship many ultrarare items such as this have been preserved for future generations of researchers and collectors. Thank you!

WPNS 1878 Booklet officers

COPYRIGHT OR COPY WRONG – AN APOLOGY

Ron Abler submitted these thoughts on image copyrights, a useful cautionary tale for numismatic authors. -Editor

I know that there have already been several discussions about copyright law in The E-Sylum, but recent events compel me to share an unpleasant personal experience with copyright that initially threw me for a loop but ultimately resulted in three positive outcomes:

1) I learned more about copyright law and its application in real life.
2) I learned a lesson the hard way.
3) I met a tactful and generous gentleman who almost made me glad that I had made the mistake in the first place. I offer this confession in sincere apology.

It all started innocently enough. In the October 17, 2010, issue of the E-Sylum, Dave Ginsburg asked readers if there were other refiners in California that might have received and then exported Nevada bullion, which therefore might have escaped the Mint records entirely.

In the following issue, I offered some information about the Nevada exhibit at the Centennial Exhibition held in Philadelphia in 1876, where ore from the Comstock Lode was crushed and smelted into bullion onsite. Our editor, Wayne, asked me if I had any images with which to illustrate the contribution. I followed up with three images and an accompanying auction citation.

Not long after the item was published, I received an email from Wayne informing me that one of his readers, Fred Holabird, had notified him that at least three of the images had been taken from his website. Wayne offered me an out by asking if I might perhaps have obtained them from another legitimate source.

No big deal, I thought. I checked my notes and discovered that I had received the images and the citation, along with permission to use them, from an eBay dealer. He had once offered similar material, and I asked him if he had anything that was related to the Nevada exhibit at the Centennial Exhibition for use in my book. He was very cooperative and emailed the subject items and told me to feel free to use them. The trap was baited with my own carelessness and lack of follow-through.

Wanting to be completely certain of my ground before I sprang to my own knee-jerk defense, I then went to Fred’s website where, much to my chagrin, I found one of the photos. It was obviously his because he had been the first to research and describe that particular bullion bar. Though I didn’t find the other images, it was moot to me, because, whether once or thrice, I had violated someone else’s right to his intellectual property.

After a truly sleepless night, I ‘fessed up to Wayne and asked his advice as to what I should do. He was, thankfully, very understanding and recommended that I call Fred and discuss it with him.

I did so, and almost immediately my dark horizons began to clear. Not only was I forgiven my trespass, but he gave me formal permission to use the images as long as I included appropriate acknowledgement, something which I vowed to myself then and there to do religiously from now on. I had learned that the convenience and accessibility of the Internet and email easily and quickly combine to obscure actual ownership of intellectual property.

Ignorance is no excuse. I now know that it is incumbent upon me to be both vigilant and diligent in researching and respecting the copyrights of others. I also learned that it must be a proactive undertaking, because the right to intellectual property is intrinsic to the property itself, and the onus is on me both to respect it and to make whatever effort may be necessary to secure permission to use. I have made that an early New Year’s resolution.

I was equally mortified to learn I'd also been guilty of publishing unattributed photos. While I certainly lean heavily on "Fair use" doctrine, I do try to attribute all images. All are stored on our Flickr archive and there the description points to the original web page where each was found, or credits the person who contributed the image. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: THE NEVADA EXHIBIT AT THE 1876 PHILADELPHIA CENTENNIAL EXHIBITION (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n42a07.html)

QUERY: FRENCH-ENGLISH NUMISMATIC TERMS TRANSLATION REVIEW SOUGHT

Mark Fox of Michigan submitted this request for assistance. Can any E-Sylum reader help? -Editor

Michel Taillard and several other French numismatists have been in the process of significantly revising some of the Gadoury French coin guides, which will be published soon. A few days ago, Monsieur Taillard asked me what are the English equivalents to several French numismatic terms.

Despite my limited knowledge of French, I offered to help him and made the remark that such a list might make a good article. He then put forward the enthusiastic suggestion of publishing the list in a couple of their books if I can finish it before the year is out. I responded a little uncertainly if I could accomplish such a task in time, with information worthy of publication.

Are there any readers of The E-Sylum that might be able to offer some guidance on this project and/or proofread my work once I reach that stage? My email address is via marktfox@gmail.com. Thanks.

QUERY: ELDER'S 87TH PUBLIC AUCTION SALE CATALOG SOUGHT

Katie Jaeger submitted the following research query. Can anyone help? -Editor

C.C. Wright San Francisco Rescuer's Medal I have an inquiry for your readers: Does anyone own Thomas L. Elder's 87th Public Auction Sale catalog (943 lots) from December 10, 1913? If so, I would love to see a scan or photocopy for research purposes (targeting a feature article in Smithsonian Magazine). Thanks!

It's a sale of items on behalf of the family of New York engraver C.C. Wright. I'm always collecting Wright information when I get the chance. I had known about the family's donations to the New York Public Library, and about the library's auction of the collection in the 1980s (Dave Bowers handled the sale) but I had not been aware of a prior Wright family sale. I happened on a listing of Elder sales in Google Books.

Pictured above with permission from Fred Holabird is an image of a C.C. Wright designed San Francisco Rescuer's medal, taken from the holabirdamericana.com web site. Thanks! -Editor

MORE ON THE CUTOUT ISABELLA QUARTER PIN

The November 7th, 2010 issue of The E-Sylum highlighted a neat eBay item, an 1893 Isabella Quarter that had been fashioned into a jewelry pin. Here's an update to the story. -Editor

Cutout Isabella Quarter Cutout Isabella Quarter reverse

David Cassel writes:

I found this item really interesting. So much so, that I bought it, thanks to your story. It arrived Friday. The devices are literally hanging to the rim by a metal thread. Yet, it doesn't appear to be flimsy. Imagine someone painstakingly cutting out the field with such accuracy. Imagine also someone cutting up an $800 coin to make this trinket. The coin had to have been remodeled in the 19th Century when the value of the labor was greater than the numismatic value of the coin. Thanks for including it in The E-Sylum.

I'm glad the pin has gone to a good home! Neat item. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: INTERESTING CUTOUT ISABELLA QUARTER PIN (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n45a20.html)

THE BOOK BAZARRE

AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS: Are your books carried by Wizard Coin Supply? If not, contact us via www.WizardCoinSupply.com with details. We are interested in further expanding our already exceptional selection of in print titles.

A MEDAL MADE FROM SPENCE'S METAL

Prince Louis Napoleon medal made from spences metal

Philip Mernick writes:

Further to your earlier articles about materials used for making medals I attach an image of a large medal (146mm) recently acquired. It is of Prince Louis Napoleon, better known as the Prince Imperial. I am still researching Spence's Metal but have determined that

1) It was invented by a Mr Spence of Manchester,

2) It was described as "new" in 1880 and

3) It was not a metal! It was, in fact, a mixture of metal sulphides dissolved in sulphur.

It had the useful properties of a low melting point (a little over 300 degrees Fahrenheit), expanding on cooling, and high resistance to acids (including aqua regia). It was primarily used for sealing joints in iron pipes and I haven't found any references to its use for making medals.

The Prince Imperial (son of exiled Napoleon III of France) was killed in 1879 while serving with the British army in South Africa, so this medal could commemorate that event or be advertising a new product - an International Inventions Exhibition was held in London in 1885.

Interesting item! I've never heard of Spence's metal, and certainly never saw a coin of medal made from it. Have any E-Sylum come across this? -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
FEATURED WEB SITE: METALS USED IN COINS AND MEDALS (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n43a29.html)
ON MATERIALS USED IN COINS AND MEDALS (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n44a11.html)

QUERY: VIETNAMESE NGOC HA GOLD WAFERS

Howard A. Daniel III submitted the following query. He showed me one of these items over a week ago over dinner, and I took the first picture you see below. I didn't have a chance to write it up for The E-Sylum, but Howard's taken care of that for me now, and he supplied the additional images below. Can anyone help? -Editor

Vietnamese Gold The roll of Vietnamese gold wafers I showed you at the November Nummis Novs dinner was likely made in 1975 before the Republic of Viet Nam (South) went down to Democratic Republic of Viet Nam (North) on April 30, 1975. They are almost double thick/weight than the "normal" gold wafers. I believe it was made not to the standard weight for people buying it to get some of their wealth out of South Viet Nam.

A. J. Jacobs, the owner of Carson Valley Currency & Coin in Gardnerville, Nevada, was contacted by the owner of the roll and asked if he wanted to buy it and several other "normal" Kim Thanh gold wafers. He contacted me because the roll had a previously unknown Ngoc Ha design on it. He wanted one of the Ngoc Ha wafers for his personal collection but not all of the gold. I needed one too, so I mailed him a check for everything and the box arrived a couple of days before I departed on my annual Southeast Asia trip so I only just recently looked at them.

A Vietnamese jeweler in Vienna, Virginia flattened the roll out for me and then cut it apart. The pieces are shown in the below image. After I sent the image to A. J., he asked me to have my jeweler cut one of the incomplete Ngoc Ha wafers to make a complete one by melting them together from the reverse without damaging the obverse so he can have it for his collection. I will see if my jeweler can do this.

If anyone knows more about the Ngoc Ha wafers, or other Vietnamese gold wafers, please contact me at HADaniel3@msn.com so I can include their images and/or information in the next edition of my Republic of Viet Nam Coins & Currency catalog.

Vietnamese gold wafers

QUERY: ANCIENT COIN REPLICA MAKER SOUGHT

Luke Griffin writes:

Coins of the Bible bookmark First, thanks to your loyal readers, I was able to fill in the holes in my collection and get pictures of coins to produce a bookmark of ancient coins of the Bible. Since so many of your readers are addicted to reading about coins, they might want to get some of those to mark their place. They come in packs of 10 for $3.50, or cheaper in bulk. See www.housetohouse.com/store/Product.aspx?pid=348 .

Also, I'm hoping to shoot for a DVD along this same topic. I was wondering if you or any of your readers happen to know someone that makes coin replicas the same way they were made in ancient Rome/Israel? I'd like to interview someone on this process, and also film the process as part of the DVD. If you know of anyone, or happen to be someone that does that, I'd love to talk to you. Contact me at Luke@housetohouse.com

D I Greenhalgh or Grunal, or Dave the Moneyer Good question. I don't know, but hopefully our readers can help. The defunct Gallery Mint used to demonstrate coin striking at coin shows in the U.S. Currently active, but working in the U.K. is Dave Greenhalgh a.k.a. Grunal, or Dave the Moneyer. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
SUBSCRIBER PROFILE: LUKE GRIFFIN (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n08a16.html)
NEW BOOK: THE GALATA GUIDE TO MEDIEVAL HALF GROATS (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n17a06.html)

QUIZ ANSWER: WHAT DID PHILADELPHIA MINT USE ELECTROLYTIC TANKS FOR?

We've had several responses to Dick Johnson's quiz question: "The Philadelphia Mint had electrolytic tanks from 1855 until recently. Yet, they never plated a coin or medal (to my knowledge, at least). What then, did they use these tanks for?" -Editor

David Ganz writes:

I believe they plated the dies to extend their life.

Joe Boling writes:

The mint's electrolysis tanks were for making galvanos - not unlike the BEP's use of them now to make printing plates. Siderography is a dead art.

Dick Johnson writes:

Readers who may have a long memory (or great knowledge of Mint activities) will have easily supplied an answer. It was given in my earlier E-Sylum article Electrotyping in America (August 1, 2010).

The answer: The tanks were used for electrolytic casting of dieshells, hubshells and galvanos.

So there's the answer Dick had in mind when he asked the question. Joe Boling was the closest. But were there additional uses? -Editor

Ron Abler writes:

I believe that electrolysis was used by the Philadelphia Mint first and then later at the Denver and San Francisco to refine metals for coinage.

Ken Bressett writes:

Elementary, my dear editor. They were used for making electrotype copies of rare coins for use in the production of an early form of printing plates, and occasionally for use in a display in the Mint exhibit. They even went as far as making electrotype copies of their famous 1804 dollar for some nefarious purpose.

I shared all the responses with Dick Johnson, who had this to say. -Editor

Hooray! Our readers are not moribund! In reply to Ken Bressett: Always authentic information from Ken. Correct on all counts.

In reply to Dave Ganz: Chromium plating first occurred at the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa in 1930 on the collars (but not the dies) to extend their life for striking the very hard high-nickel content five-cent pieces. By this technology the same mint chromium plated dies in 1942. Some pieces were struck only on one side with chromium plated dies. This gave a glossy surface to the struck piece. Can you find any of those one-sided glossy varieties on World War II Canadian coins? By 1945 the Ottawa Mint was chromium plating all dies, and this technology spread to other world mints. That glossy surface is sometimes described by collectors as "prooflike" but this is completely different from proof polishing of dies (which collectors call "full proof").

In reply to Ron Abler: The refining of metals by electrolysis is a different technology, even though both use the same word "electrolysis" (sorry, that's the shortcoming of the English language). Refining electrolysis breaks out the desired metal. Electroforming by electrolysis adds the desired metal to the pattern (which is called by many names: metalworkers call it a "core pattern" or "mandrel," mint workers call it a "dieshell" or "hubshell" depending upon whether it is negative or positive, in England it is even called a "former").

I also received this from Paul Lajoie:

"Didn't the US Mint electroplate the bronze and silver US Bicentennial medals? The ones that are silver dollar size? Also, did they not make many of the military medals, some of which are obviously electroplated?"

I am unaware of either of these. Does anyone have any documentation of this occurring?

I followed up with Ken Bressett for more information on how the process was used to create coins images for books. -Editor

Ken Bressett writes:

The electrotype process was used (although not invented) at the Philadelphia Mint around 1841 in order to make copies of coins that could be traced with a ruling machine and not harm the original specimens. The printing plates that were produced by this technique were used in the 1842 A Manual of Gold and Silver Coins by Eckfeldt and DuBois. The prints were described as “engravings of coins executed by the metal-ruling machine under the supervision of Joseph Saxton”.

A description of the process in the book states that this is a unique process developed at the Mint using the latest technology of electroplating, metal ruling and images taken from actual coins. The results are surprisingly good, but the process was soon abandoned by use of photographic images and other techniques.

Electrotype copies of printing type have been used even before that time (especially in Europe) and continued on up until very recent times, to save wear on the precious original metal type, and extend the life of printing forms especially on long press runs.

Thanks, everyone, for your great responses. Excellent topic! -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see: A PRIMER ON PLATING FOR ALL COLLECTORS (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n46a05.html)
DICK JOHNSON ON ELECTROTYPING IN AMERICA (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n31a16.html)

MORE ON THE COMPLETENESS OF LOUIS ELIASBERG'S U.S. COIN COLLECTION

David Ganz forwarded this excerpt from his new book "Rare Coin Investing" (Krause):

Bowers & Ruddy, Eliasberg sale "Eliasberg’s collection was magnificent, of that there is no doubt. But those who follow stories like this closely know that Eliasberg did not quite succeed in his task; one of them, evidently escaped. My notes say that when the family turned the collection over for auction by Bowers & Merena in the early eighties, he was one coin down: an 1866 no motto $20 gold piece.

The king of coins was by then deceased, his estate, or heir, offering the gold coin collection anonymously through Bowers & Merena, and from my perspective, there was a mystery to be solved of who was selling the Eliasberg coins without calling them such. The solution: first, Neil S. Berman sold the deficient coin to the estate. But this did not come out until years later.

One good thing about being a collector; you collect. I keep the old auction catalogues, cross-reference them with future (and past) catalogues. Well, five years after Eliasberg, Bowers & Merena is selling “The King of Siam” sale in New York on October 14, 1987.

I am reading the catalogue for lot 2043 for an 1866-S No motto $20 gold piece in EF-40 which is described as “finer” than the Eliasberg coin. There is a paragraph added in small type (it looks like six point type, but at the time, I could read it easily.

“When the cataloguer studied the Eliasberg Collection prior to presenting it at auction in 1982,” Bowers wrote, “it was discovered that the collection had no 1866- No Motto double eagle. Whether Louis Eliasberg overlooked the variety or whether he considered his collection complete because he had an 1866-S with motto is not known. However, in the interest of completeness the Eliasberg family purchased one through us, and we acquired it from dealer Neil Berman. So as a footnote to numismatic history, the Eliasberg Collection was “completed” in 1982 with Neil Berman furnishing the missing piece!”

Eliasberg was born in 1896 in Selma, Alabama and lived a full life into the bicentennial year of 1976. He moved to Baltimore around 1907 and according to his son, Richard, in 1925 he began to collect “methodically”, and starting the following year, began to buy systematically from the leading dealers of the day. He recorded his purchases in Ben Green’s “The Numismatists’ Reference and Checkbook”, where many familiar names (or initials) appear: “BB” for Barney Bluestone, “Gut” for the Guttag brothers, “HC” for Henry Chapman, “MM” for B. Max ...

Dick Doty adds:

Louis Eliasberg, in my opinion, was an anal retentive, and I doubt he knew squat about any given coin, except whether he had or didn't have it.

Harvey Stack writes:

I enjoyed reading about Louis E. Eliasberg and his collection. As you know Stack's, when under the management of the two Stack Seniors, Morton Stack (my father), and Joseph B. Stack (my uncle), acquired the John H. Clapp collection in late 1940 and sold it intact to Louis E. Eliasberg in 1941. Clapp was a banker in Washington, D.C.

The collection was virtually complete at the time, but ended in 1940. The goal set by Eliasberg was to complete it (in as much that the Clapp Collection lacked certain coins) and for many years he sought after the missing pieces and finally got the 1873-CC Without Arrows Dime to complete U.S. Mint the date and mint series.

It is true Eliasberg liked to try to find the later dates of U.S. Coins in change, but did acquire some of those late issues in Mint State from Stacks.

In 1949 Eliasberg decided to dispose of his duplicates - some from his original collection, as well as the duplicates from the Clapp Collection. He made some of the selections himself with the help of Doris Everding, his secretary. We always believed he was not always careful in his selection. When Stack's sold the duplicates in 1949, the collection was sold at auction under the name of H.R.LEE COLLECTION.

The name had a special meaning to him, H.R.(the maiden initials of his wife Hortense) and the LEE (was for his initials Louis E. Eliasberg) This was his way of not making it evident that HE was selling anything !

Many of the missing issues (not rarities, as he already had virtually all of them ) were supplied by Stack's, at his request. In addition, as Harry Forman, of Philadelphia, dealt in late issues, singles and rolls, Harry supplied a portion of these, to keep the collection up to date.

Thanks for your comments, everyone. Who else but Harvey Stack could provide some of these details for us? I never knew that about the H.R. Lee consignment. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: MORE ON THE LOUIS ELIASBERG COLLECTION (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n46a11.html)

NOTES FROM E-SYLUM SUBSCRIBERS: NOVEMBER 21, 2010

Pete Mosiondz, Jr. writes:

I must tell you that your work every week on The E-Sylum is much enjoyed and greatly appreciated. It is truly yeoman work. Should we call you Wayne Yeoman?

Well his publisher added "man" to Richard Yeo's real name, making him "Yeoman". I guess I could be "Homren-man", superhero editor, squashing typos and rambling side comments in a single bound. -Editor

Relating to last week's Numismatic Diary, Bill Eckberg wrote the following in the Early American Coppers Region 8 newsletter tonight:

R8 member and Numismatic Bibliomania Society guru Wayne Homren organizes a monthly dinner for a group of us in Northern Virginia. This week, we had as a guest, Ed Moy, Director of the Mint. He was very engaging and enjoyable to talk with. He had many interesting stories to tell about the inner workings of the Mint. Wayne bought a copy of the original Mint establishment bill to show him, and one of the other guys brought Gallery Mint replicas of the earliest silver coins. I gave him a spreadsheet showing the weekly wages of all the Mint employees in 1793, which was part of my research for a story that will be in the November P-W. He said he was going to share it with his senior staff, who think they are underpaid.

Philip Mernick writes:

Regarding Taylor & Challen, Roy Hawkins' book on Medallet & Check makers has a section about them.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: QUERY: TAYLOR & CHALLEN MEDAL INFORMATION SOUGHT (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n45a14.html)

Regarding penalties imposed by the Hobby Protection Act, last week I wrote:

Any damages an individual could claim would be based on their actual dollar outlay, and as sold by the maker these repros are cheap and plainly marketed as copies. Only if a third party passes one of these off as genuine and at a high price would there be any substantial outlay. But then the case would be against the third-party seller, not the maker.

David Ganz writes:

Its not often that you miss the mark, but you did this time you're wide of it. The "damages" are never the issue in a statute like this. They are small. That's why Congress made it an attorney's fee statute (one of only about 100 in all U.S. law).

It is similar to anti-trust law. When Trump's USFL won its antitrust suit against the NFL, the jury awarded nominal damages of $1 which were trebled to $3. His lawyer then presented a bill of $12 million, which he duly passed on to the defendants. They said that given the recovery, it was never what Congress intended. The Supreme Court disagreed. And so it is with the Hobby Protection Act. A small violation could result in a lot of attorney's fees. Yeah team!

Thanks for the clarification. The key action here is "His lawyer then presented a bill of $12 million, which he duly passed on to the defendants." Assuming it's legal, if the lawyers indeed kick back a large chunk of the award to the defendants, then it could indeed be worthwhile for an individual to be party to a suit. Otherwise the plaintiff would get next to nothing while the lawyers collect everything. -Editor

David Ganz adds:

The quintessence of a statute like this is that it is very costly to the defendant to defend it (i.e., his own attorney's fees). Also that the legal profession should be attracted to handle a case where the damages are nominal.

Congress did not intend that lawyers, already a relatively well off professional class, receive excess compensation or incentives beyond the amount necessary to cause competent legal work to be performed in these fields. Legislative history speaks of "fees which are adequate to attract competent counsel, but which do not produce windfalls,"

The statutes use the words "reasonable" fees, not "liberal" fees.

Regarding the picture of the Reparations Commission, Tom DeLorey writes:

Where I said "The 1926 conference," that should have been "The 1929 conference."

THE E-SYLUM'S UNSOLVED MYSTERIES

Although we often get lightning-fast responses to all sorts of obscure numismatic queries, there are always some which go unanswered. This could be a fun task for anyone poking around The E-Sylum archives. But here are a couple recent ones - let's give them a second look.

A couple weeks ago, Chick Ambrass asked if anyone had any information about these dollar bills somehow embedded in a sidewalk outside Ashbury Park. If there had been any signage nearby Chick would have noticed it. Do any of our readers live near the area, or have friends who do? I've love to have someone ask around to see what we can find out. I also wondered, "How are the dollars anchored and protected from the elements?"

Ashbury Park Sidewalk dollars

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: QUERY: ASHBURY PARK SIDEWALK DOLLARS (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n45a21.html)

Here's another one. Regarding my question on how many books by U.S. Numismatic authors have been translated into German, Pete Smith writes:

Although I may try to give the impression that I know everything about numismatics, I don't know the answer to this one.

Well, I do have the answer. I own a copy of the book, or at least I did at one time - I just can't put my finger on it in my library. It was a copy of High Profits from Rare Coin Investing" by Q. David Bowers translated into German. I confirmed this with Dave Bowers. The book had completely different cover art. Does anyone have an image of the book to share with us?

Dave adds:

Not that they are numismatic, but my "Put Another Nickel In" (1958) has been translated into Italian, and "The Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments" (1971) has been translated into Japanese.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: MORE ON MASAMICHI OKA AND JAPANESE EDITIONS OF WHITMAN COIN BOOKS (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n44a08.html)

WAYNE'S NUMISMATIC DIARY: NOVEMBER 21, 2010

Not much to report numismatically this week, but opening my email has been a delight. Lots of E-Sylum issues are excellent ones, but I was especially pleased with how this one came together. The bulk of it is comprised of responses from our readers with detailed information on multiple interesting topics.

Help the Homeless Walk 2010 I have one numismatic side note to report. On Saturday morning I arose early and made my way down to the National Mall to participate in the annual Help the Homeless walkathon. My family was unable to join me because of a conflict with our sons' basketball schedule. In my wallet were two "Where's George" dollar bills I'd gotten in change at the 7-11 that morning. Anyone getting up at 6am on a Saturday morning deserves a donut, I figure.

I arrived early to hear the singing of the National Anthem and speeches by a local newscaster and Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who has walked in the event for 23 years running.

Since I was on my own and had some flexibility, I decided that if I'm going to be in a parade, I might as well be in front. I'm told that's the sign of a true leader (in politics, anyway) - find a parade and get in front of it. So while the rest of the crowd was watching the Washington Redskins cheerleaders, I walked up to the starting line. When the walk began, I was right behind the marching band. Soon I was right next to the 73-year-old Norton. She smiled and shook my hand, and we talked for a few minutes.

Along the walk I took several pictures, and here's the numismatic part. At one point the route passed the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The front was festooned with a huge banner promoting the upcoming new design of the $100 bill. I made sure to get the shot. To me this is real numismatic history - this banner will exist here in this place for only a short period of time, and there may never be another chance to capture the moment.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing 2010-11-20

After the walk I'd hoped to pay my respects to the original Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States at the National Archives. The building was just opening for the day, but there was already a long line of tourists waiting to get in. Since I'd seen them before I opted to head home, and was able to see all but the first few minutes of Christopher and Tyler's basketball scrimmage.

Via email I learned of the results of my consignment in the Kolbe & Fanning sale. The cash will come in handy. I used to joke "baby needs a new pair of shoes", but now it's no joke - Christopher's braces need to be paid for, Tyler and I are each scheduled for some minor oral surgery, and Christmas bills will find their way to my desk before long. Ouch!

I got up early Sunday to work on The E-Sylum a bit. Then my daughter Hannah got up and it was time to play instead. So like usual, I stayed up to finish Sunday evening. Luckily I was able to finish before it got too late. It was fun to work on, and I hope everyone enjoys it.

WHAT'S A QUARTER TON OF WHEATIES WORTH?

Dick Johnson submitted these thoughts on the price of copper and the problem of minor U.S. coins. -Editor

The closing price of copper as of Friday, November 24 was $3.8417 per pound. coinflation.com calculates the melt value of U.S. coins every day. We learn from this web site that U.S. cents minted before 1982 -- including the so-called pre-1959 "wheaties" -- are worth 2.53616 cents each when the 5% zinc value is added to the 95% copper value.

Billions of these cents are in the public's hands. Tons and tons of the tiny 3.11 grain discs. Mighty Bargain Hunter did a study of the cent situation this week for their blog.

They learned there are hundreds of offerings of wheaties on eBay every week. They calculated what would 500 pounds -- a quarter ton -- of wheaties would be worth. The price is going to increase as we face an inevitable inflation caused by the current economic and political atmosphere in America.

Congress, in its blatant ineptitude has ordered the U.S. Treasury to study coinage metals to substitute for the cent, and, surely, other coin denominations. There are greater problems in any choice of lower value metals. Perhaps that is why bronze, silver and gold have been used for coins for 2,400 years, and nickel since the 1860s.

The answer to the cent situation is to neither to raise the bridge nor to lower the river. The solution is to rebase the cent in value to 5 cents -- as Chicago Federal Reserve Bank economist Francois Velde has recommended. Or to rebase both cent and nickel to 10 cents as I have mentioned multiple times before here in The E-Sylum.

One U.S. Treasury dictum would immediately solve the problem of rising metal composition costs for both the cent and nickel, plus keep all the coins in circulation. No scrapping, no massive recoining required. But that is an intelligent decision. Expect the U.S Treasury and Congress to come up with a jerry-rigged solution. Cardboard cents anyone?

Read this for the answer to the worth of a quarter ton of copper cents: Pennies by the quarter-ton (www.mightybargainhunter.com/2010/11/15/
high-copper-content-cents/)

THE BOOK BAZARRE

Annual Assay Commission – United States Mint 1800-1943
4-DVD set, Roger W. Burdette, editor.


Astute collectors know the Assay Commission records are a gold mine of information about rare and mysterious coin issues. Yet, only a few privileged researchers have ever examined even small portions of these hand written volumes.

Annual Assay Commission – United States Mint 1800-1943 is available in a special first edition to readers of The E-Sylum for $25 postpaid until December 10, 2010. The regular retail price is $75. To order, send check or money order for $25 to: Seneca Mill Press LLC, PO Box 1423, Great Falls, VA 22066.

FALLEN MARINE DAVID SMITH HONORED WITH MEDAL IN HIS NAME

An E-Sylum reader writes:

Veterans Day Biden This story about a fallen Marine mentions, toward the end, the establishment of a scholarship and medal program by East Carolina University in the name of the Marine, who died in Afghanistan in January. Of course the article calls it a "coin" but we know it to be a medal. Interesting...

Marine Sgt. David Smith's parents and stepparents planned to spend Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery, sitting at the grave of their son, who was killed in Afghanistan in January.

What they didn't plan on was running into Vice President Joe Biden and having an extensive, emotional conversation with the man who knows all too well about losing a child.

The four took a picture with the vice president, with David's gravestone front and center in the photo. Smith also offered Biden one of the red bracelets the family designed as a fundraiser for a memorial scholarship. In yellow writing, the bracelet says "Sgt. David James Smith" and has sergeant stripes on either side of the name.

"A lot of people may have just put it in their pocket," Smith said. "I gave it to him, and it immediately went on his wrist."

Biden, in return, left a vice presidential coin on David's grave, which McWilliams took home with her to add to a growing collection.

The honor of having the vice president pay tribute to their son came on the heels of another big honor for David Smith's family.

East Carolina University invited the family onto the football field for the coin toss in last Saturday's game against Navy. McWilliams, her two other children, Kristen Forse and Daniel Brown, and David's girlfriend, Kimberly Mott, were welcomed on with a standing ovation from the crowd, while David's picture was shown on the screen.

They also attended ECU's military appreciation banquet the night before, where David was honored. And to top off the weekend, the university is setting up a scholarship fund for the David J. Smith Leadership Award, which the university said "is going to be considered the highest honor a student can receive," McWilliams said.

A former professor of Smith's is working on raising $25,000 to fund the award for years to come. One recipient a year will receive $500 and a coin with the award name on one side and three stars on the back that stand for leadership, integrity and service. McWilliams was presented the very first coin printed.

McWilliams said the coin now sits in David's old bedroom with coins from former President George W. Bush, Biden, Living Legacy for Smith being an organ donor, various Marine officers and others.

"But the coin that meant the most to me is the David J. Smith Leadership Award from ECU because it was specific to David," McWilliams said. "It let me know how much he was loved and how much he did."

I've included above the section discussing the medal, but the complete article is worth a read. It tells of the family's encounter with Vice President Joe Biden at Arlington National Cemetery, a very genuine and personal meeting with a fellow military parent who's lost a son. -Editor

To read the complete article, see: Biden honors Frederick Marine, family at Arlington (www.wtop.com/?nid=25&sid=2117096)

DONALD ARIEL, OVERSEER OF ISRAEL'S NATIONAL COIN COLLECTION

Arthur Shippee forwarded this article from The Brown Alumni Magazine about the overseer of Israel's national coin collection. -Editor

Donald Ariel When he was a senior at Brown, Donald Ariel took a graduate-level class in ancient coins in which the professor assigned cataloguing a coin collection at Wheaton College in nearby Norton, Massachusetts. The collection consisted of 250 coins, all of them minted during the time of ancient Greece or Rome.

"We were told to do the full Monty," Ariel says. "Learn how to organize the collection, how to identify the coins, how to find the relevant reference material, and how to write up a catalog describing each one and its significance." Ariel, who concentrated in ancient Mediterranean civilization, describes this as a watershed moment in his college education, his first chance at touching archaeological artifacts. Ariel now lives in Jerusalem, where he oversees Israel's national coin collection for the Antiquities Authority, a quasi-governmental agency that directs archaeological digs in the country and helps preserve the findings. The collection holds a million coins, some dating as far back as the sixth century B.C. Ariel is a U.S. citizen, but he moved to Israel in 1976 and earned a master's in archaeology from Hebrew University. (More recently, he earned a PhD in the subject from Tel Aviv University.)

Coins, Ariel says, are a rich repository of knowledge about the civilization that mints them. With an image of the current leader on their obverse side, they are easily datable and can even help date the structures where they're unearthed. Ariel says that Israel's collection of coins is remarkable not because of its size—collections in New York and Paris are larger—but because each is linked to a record of where and when it was discovered. Having such reliable records of how deep the coin lay buried or where it was in relation to other artifacts helps create a more detailed and richer understanding of the archaeological site.

In August, near the border with Lebanon, researchers found a 2,200-year-old gold coin from the Ptolemaic era, the most valuable coin ever found in Israel. It bears the image of Queen Arsinoe II Philadelphus, who ruled over Egypt in the early third century B.C. and who has the distinction of having married her brother. (Philadelphoi means brother-loving in Greek.)

Ariel himself does not keep a personal coin collection. But he does go on digs every summer and still enjoys keeping in physical touch with antiquity through the objects the Authority has in its collection. "I chose to come to Israel because I can directly connect to the objects I'm working on," he says. "I can go to the sites that I'm studying by getting in the car and visiting."

To read the complete article, see: Collecting History (www.brownalumnimagazine.com/content/view/2722/32/)

AN 1854 CRIMEAN WAR COMMEMORATIVE GOLD MEDAL

Crimean War commemorative medal Kay O. Freeman writes:

This is gold medal with a good story. It came to me via the All-Things Napoleonic newsletter from which I belive I sent an item before. Their site has links to a huge amount of French library material online.

Beautiful! Below is some text excerpted from the web page. -Editor

The medal celebrates above all the new union that now existed between these once bitter enemies. Symbolising the sincere friendship that united the two sovereigns, the obverse features the right-facing effigies of Emperor Napoleon III and Queen Victoria, crowned with laurel wreaths and depicted in profile. This friendship was strengthened by Napoleon III's first state visit to Britain in 1855, a gesture that was returned by Victoria later that year on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition in Paris.

Inscribed on the medal's reverse are the names and dates of the various victories with, at its centre, a trophy constructed from flags and oriental weapons, depicted in front of a mosque. The dedication A la gloire des armées allies (In honour of the allied armies) surmounts the image.

A number of bronze and silver medals minted to commemorate the Crimean War exist,(1) but this particular example, made from gold, is exceptional. The medal comes to us via Jean Julien Sacaley (1800-1875), who was the right-hand man to Jean-François Mocquard, chief of staff to the Prince-President (and indeed emperor). Sacaley went on to become first attaché - a natural progression - after which, from 1864, he served as the emperor's deputy chief of staff. He remained a loyal and close associate to Napoleon III until the fall of the empire.

The medal was handed down through the family, and it currently sits on display at the Musée du Cabinet des Médailles et Antiques, at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. The circumstances in which it was minted are still to be fully explored, whilst the hypothesis that a second example, also in gold, was once in the possession of Queen Victoria remains to be verified.

To read the complete article, see: Crimean War commemorative medal: "In honour of the allied armies" (www.napoleon.org/en/collectors_corner/object/index.asp)

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ON THE TAJ MAHAL GOLD COIN

This week the Wall Street Journal published an article about the jumbo-sized Taj mahal gold coin being marketed in the U.S. by the Franklin Mint. -Editor

Taj Mahal gold coin Even though I stifled it, I have to admit I was slightly miffed when my photographer and I arrived at the Franklin Mint's Midtown offices only to discover that the coin we'd come to see—the 2.2-pound, solid gold Taj Mahal, with 60 Cartier diamonds—was in transit from the New York Stock Exchange, where Walter Kole, the Mint's chief numismatist, was showing it off on CNBC.

Which isn't to suggest that there wasn't more than enough visual stimuli to keep us occupied until the currency arrived. To be honest, I'm not sure what the Franklin Mint is, or does. I know it markets coins—I've seen the ads all over the place—but its Holiday Collection 2010 includes a Steuben pelican, Major League Baseball team Christmas tree ornaments (also Steuben) and a Michelle Obama doll, of which there happened to be one in a case for us to admire, right beside a couple of lifelike Jackie Kennedy dolls.

I'll say this for the Franklin Mint: It's got the doll-making thing down. If I was in the market for a Michelle Obama doll in a little black dress, I wouldn't even consider looking elsewhere. It really resembles the first lady, all the way down to her pearls and gold Rolex, though when the Taj Mahal's entourage finally arrived, Gwynne Gorr, the Franklin Mint's chief marketing officer, told me it's not a Rolex. It's a Cartier.

In any case, by the time we finished admiring all the great stuff in cases and on pedestals, the Taj Mahal coin was ready to be viewed, having been installed behind velvet ropes, with stern-looking security guards on either side. Mr. Kole invited me to slip behind the ropes; he even allowed me to handle it.

Manufactured in France by the Monnaie de Paris, the coin is lovely, but at the size of a tea saucer it probably wouldn't be convenient to carry in your pocket. And while crime in New York City has plummeted over the years, it would be a sad day if you got mugged the morning you decided to take your coin for a stroll in the park.

This scenario isn't altogether fantastical. Included in the price—€100,000 (approximately $140,000), even though it's got a face value of €5,000 to qualify as legal tender—is a lovely leather carrying case designed by Goyard. The case, boasting 24-carat hardware, contains a coin loop—a magnifying glass to look at your purchase up close—and there's also a little leather travel case if you want to take it away for the weekend, or if pro-democracy demonstrators are crashing the gates of the palace and you need spare change to tide you over at the Ritz in Paris while you negotiate the terms of your extradition.

By my calculations, 2.2 pounds of gold, even at today's hysterical prices, wouldn't cost more than $50,000. But apparently what you're paying for is the workmanship and the exclusivity. "It also contains 60 handset diamonds," Mr. Kole noted, "and there are only 29 in the world."

They hadn't sold many yet, but my understanding is that few U.S. customers had been given the opportunity to ogle it in person. "I expect after today," Mr. Kole said. "It just got here."

I was the first—if you didn't count the folks at CNBC and just about everybody else at the New York Stock Exchange. "It showed up nice on the screens of the metal detectors," somebody said.

To read the complete article, see: Mysteries of the Mint (online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704393604575614642826210272.html)

SO THAT'S WHERE GEORGE IS: FORT LAUDERDALE, FL

Where's George $1

In our September 5, 2010 issue (ten weeks ago), I wrote about a one dollar "Where's George" bill I'd gotten in change earlier in the week. I duly logged it on the Where's George web site which tracks dollar bills by serial number.

Well, on Wednesday Where's George notified me by email that the bill have been sighted again, this time in Fort Lauderdale, FL. It had traveled 902 miles in a little over 73 days (12 miles/day). I wish I'd followed along - it's warmer down there.

Below is an image of the report on the Where's George web site ( www.wheresgeorge.com ). So... who else has used Where's George lately? What's the longest journey one of your bills has taken?

Where's George 2010-11-17

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: BY GEORGE, WHERE'S GEORGE? AND THOMAS? (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n36a13.html)

GEORGE O. COLT: THE DIESINKER WHO DIED IN THE OUTHOUSE

Katie Jaeger writes:

I tripped on this macabre but amusing 1870 news item while doing a general search on the term "die sinker" in the New York Times archive. I thought your readers might enjoy it. Does anyone know of works by this George O. Colt?

Here are a few images I snipped from the article. Colt's death was ruled accidental. -Editor

Death of Die Sinker George Colt


Death of Die Sinker George Colt


Death of Die Sinker George Colt

Dick Johnson adds:

Amusing! George O. Colt is not in my databank of coin, medal and token engravers.

Reminds me when I was going through Philadelphia Mint correspondence with Walter Breen in January 1954 and we found a letter where they ran out of toilet paper at the Mint in Philadelphia. The Superintendent made a frantic appeal by letter to the Treasury Department in Washington, DC.

FEATURED WEB SITE: LOVETT TOKENS AND MEDALS

This week's Featured Web Site is a new work in progress by Dave Baldwin suggested by John Sallay, who writes:

Great start! The photography is really nice and this web site will be a terrific place for anyone interested in any of the tokens and medals produced by the Lovetts.

Robert Lovett Seal Engraver ad

Welcome to Lovett Tokens and Medals.com, a website devoted to the works of Robert Lovett Sr. and his sons Robert Jr., George H., and John D.. The purpose of this website is threefold – to share information on the numismatic works of this family, to provide a forum for others to do the same, and hopefully lead to the publication of a book/catalog on their works.

The Lovett's works span most of the 19th Century; from Robert Sr's early career in New York City with well-known engraver Thomas Brown to the last year of George H's life in 1894. A collection of their works will include medals and tokens in nearly every category of Exonumia with examples being very commonplace to extremely rare or unique. The craftsmanship ranges from the highest quality to what appear to be very hastily engraved and struck pieces. George H. was especially prolific and produced many pieces simply for sale to the public rather than on the orders of an institution or individual. And of course Robert Jr's Confederate Cent is one of their most famous, and controversial, works.

Many pages have yet to be fleshed out, but there is some good information here, as well as some nice images. -Editor

lovetttokensmedals.com

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