Volume 17, Number 26, June 22, 2014
Our new subscribers this week include Laura Edwards and GW Anderson. Welcome aboard! We have 1,737 email subscribers.
This week we open with a note on some rare U.S. Mint-related documents coming to the NBS annual meeting, the BCD Greek numismatic library sale, a new book and three book reviews.
Other topics include Hard Times Tokens, the Pogue collection, U.S. Mint Lifesaving medals, curved coins, San Francisco Mint ingots, and contemporaneous colonial counterfeit coins.
To learn more about the “Dean of American Numismatics,” Montevideo Cricket Club medals, the 1879 Adolf Weyl auction of an 1804 dollar, Swahili, the Junior Numismatic Correspondence Club of America, the five kopek Siberian copper and Dick Johnson's call to arms over the potential disappearance of coins, read on. Have a great week, everyone!
The schedule of Numismatic Bibliomania Society events at the 2014 Chicago World's Fair of Money is still being finalized. But President Marc Ricard informs me that the auction should contain some rarities and that Dan Hamelberg has some rare documents he'll bring for show and tell. Here's some information on Dan's documents. -Editor
Dan Hamelberg writes:
The primary document is the Congressional Act creating the Mint signed by Jefferson as Secretary of State. As you know, Jefferson had a major impact on the establishment of the first U.S. Mint, and had an important role in determining the structure of coinage. Additionally, I will bring to the meeting the cover page of the appointment of Henry Voigt as the first coiner to the U.S. Mint signed by Jefferson. I will also be bringing the 1790 copy of Jefferson's work on weights, measures, and coins.
To top it off, I will bring the first English version of Jefferson's Notes on Virginia with map. This is not a numismatic item, but it goes along well with the other items.
Here's some more background from the Swann Galleries April 8, 2014 sale, where the Mint Act document was sold as lot #144. -Editor
Sale 2344 Lot 144
THE DOLLAR BECOMES THE COIN OF THE LAND--SIGNED BY JEFFERSON JEFFERSON, THOMAS. An Act Establishing a Mint, and Regulating the Coins of the United States. Document Signed by Jefferson as Secretary of State. 5 printed pages on 3 disbound folio sheets, 15 x 9 3/4 inches; folds, minor dampstaining in upper right margin; uncut. [Philadelphia]: [Francis Childs and John Swaine], 2 April 1792
The ninth clause lists the denominations of coins which can be produced by the new mint. The most important was "Dollars or Units--each to be the value of a Spanish milled dollar as the same is now current, and to contain three hundred and seventy one grains and four sixteenths of a grain of pure, or four hundred and sixteen grains of standard silver." The other denominations, ranging from ten-dollar gold "Eagles" down through quarter dollars, "dismes," cents, and half cents, are all defined in relation to the dollar. The tenth clause dictates that each coin bear the word "Liberty," and that the gold and silver denominations read "United States of America" and bear an eagle on the reverse. The final clause dictates that "the money of account of the United States shall be expressed in dollars or units, dismes or tenths, cents or hundredths, and milles or thousandths." We have operated on a decimal system ever since, although the "mille" in the third decimal place fell by the wayside very quickly.
The act also authorizes the hiring of a director, assayer, chief coiner, engraver, and treasurer, and sets the salaries for each. Other provisions have been superseded by later acts. For example, we private citizens can no longer bring our own bullion to be minted into coins.
This printing is certified with the signature of Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson at the bottom of the final page. It is also signed in type by Jonathan Trumbull as Speaker of the House, John Adams as Vice President, and George Washington as President. The act is printed on paper made by Henry Schutz in Pennsylvania, with his "HS Sandy Run" watermark--the same paper favored by George Washington for his private correspondence (see Gravell, American Watermarks 164 and image 308).
Evans 24886. Copies traced at only two institutions in ESTC and OCLC, neither of them signed; no complete signed copies known at auction since at least 1917. This may be the only extant complete signed copy.
Eric Vanhove forwarded this reminder from Auctiones GmbH about their eAuction 28 featuring numismatic literature from the BCD-library. Thanks. -Editor
We are pleased to announce that eAuction #28: “Duplicates from the BCD-library” is taking place from June 16 to 29.
If there is anything in the world that puts the BCD collection of ancient Greek coins in the shade, it is the BCD-library, which is by far the largest privately owned library on Greek numismatics that ever existed. We are proud to announce that the collector, who has been documenting every written remark about Greek numismatics for several decades and who gladly makes this treasure of knowledge accessible to interested academics, has entrusted Auctiones with auctioning some intriguing duplicates in our eAuction #28.
As is to be expected of a bibliomaniac like BCD, among the duplicates the expert discovers any number of very interesting rarities, items highly useful and important, with publication dates as early as the 19th century until today. Not surprisingly, the focus is on the ancient period (Greeks, Celts, Romans, Byzantines) but nevertheless, there are some interesting publications available that deal with medieval and modern coins and medals.
The range covers a larger number of languages because BCD collected virtually everything published related to the topic. Hence, it contains many English publications but likewise German, Italian, French, Russian and Greek ones, not to forget such language exotics like Rumanian and Hungarian. The offer comprises die studies, monographs, collections of essays, coffee-table books, offprints, and auction sale catalogs, that all have one thing in common: there is something special connected with them.
Let us take, for example, lot 7, the Transactions of the International Numismatic Congress held in London in 1936. The copy available here was once owned by the famous numismatist Willy Schwabacher who, in the year of the congress, had just been barred from the DAI excavations in the Kerameikos in Athens because of his Jewish extraction. When the transactions of the congress were published in London in 1938, Schwabacher also happened to be at London where he had been able to flee to. He continued his career first in Copenhagen, then after another flight in Stockholm as friend of Gustav VI Adolph, King of Sweden, who not only had a great interest in archaeology but also collected coins.
Thus, these transactions tell us their own story in addition to the academic articles it contains. And that is something BCD, who – and everybody who owns the catalogs of his coin collection can vouch for the truth of that – never abstains from voicing his sincere opinion, describes the contents as follows: “Apart from Sir George Macdonald’s Presidential Address on what was then the last Fifty years of Greek Numismatics”, [contains this book] the kind of articles that can only produce a feeling of despair when one compares “then” with “now”; there are many more interesting and useful scholarly contributions on practically every branch of numismatics, including medals.”
Another impressive bibliophilic rarity is an edition of the sought-after monograph written by Friedrich Imhoof-Blumer on the coins of Acarnania from 1878, which the former owner made unique by its binding: there is an original stater from Acarnania depicting the bull-headed Acheloos on its obverse embedded into the leather-bound cover. Or think of the immense oeuvre of unforgotten Leo Mildenberg who is represented by a couple of very special testimonies of which the lion’s share has been widely unknown so far: cases in point are a magnificently written article on Greek fractions from 1964 or the catalog of an exhibition of the Zurich Museum of Arts and Crafts from 1949 behind which Leo Mildenberg was the driving force.
We – both the previous owner as well as the Auctiones team – hope that the broad range of numismatic research offered in this literature sale will make it easy for any collector to find treasured additions to his library.
To visit the Auctiones GmbH web site, see: www.auctiones.ch
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: GREEK NUMISMATIC LITERATURE SALE JUNE 2014 (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v17n19a05.html)
THE BOOK BAZARRE
Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing forwarded this press release about a new version of the company's popular Red Book of U.S. Coins. -Editor
A Guide Book of United States Coins, 2015 Essential Edition
The Guide Book of United States Coins, popularly known as the “Red Book,” is the hobby’s #1 best-selling annual price guide, with more than 23 million copies sold since 1946. Now, Whitman Publishing has released the over-sized 2015 “Essential Edition” of the Red Book, aimed at distribution to mass-market audiences.
“The Essential Edition Red Book focuses mainly on circulating federal U.S. coinage—the cents, nickels, dimes, silver dollars, and other coins most likely to be found in Grandpa’s proverbial cigar box or other collections,” said Whitman publisher Dennis Tucker. “As with the regular-edition Red Book, we promote the Essential Edition through mainstream bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million. Beyond that, it’s also carried in Sam’s Club—the eighth-largest retailer in the United States, serving 47 million members. We’re excited to be able to offer this version of the Red Book to such a large audience, and to introduce the hobby to a new generation of collectors.”
The Essential Edition Red Book is printed in full color at 8.5 x 11 inches, with enlarged photographs of the coins it covers: half cents through double eagles, commemoratives, Proof and Mint sets, and bullion coins; with an overview of colonial coins and territorial gold; and sections on Civil War, Hard Times, and other tokens.
About Whitman, and Our Publishing Philosophy
Our distribution of the 2015 Essential Edition Red Book follows the strategies we use to increase public interest in collecting coins and other antiques and collectibles.
Mass-market distribution and publicity
These mass and national channels offer a “gateway” through which non-collectors can become new collectors. From there they get involved in local hobby shops; shows and conventions; buying from dealers; expanding into storage, display, and exhibition of their growing collections; branching into new areas of collecting; and devoting more of their free time, intellectual energy, and discretionary income to their hobby/investment.
Whitman products are on the shelves of the two biggest American book retailers—Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million—as well as online. We have responded to the public’s love of new U.S. Mint issues (such as State quarters and American Silver Eagles) by offering folders, albums, maps, books, and other related products. As with our distribution and promotion in major retail stores, Whitman’s presence in popular bookstores that serve millions of customers yearly promotes collecting and brings the hobby to mass-market awareness.
Whitman also promotes the hobby among the general public by conducting a Coin and Collectibles Expo held thrice yearly in Baltimore. Each show draws thousands of dealers, collectors, and soon-to-be-collectors into a multiple-day marketplace and learning immersion. In addition to major auctions and the usual buying, selling, and trading, Whitman Expos feature educational presentations, exhibits of rare and unusual coins and paper money, and programs for Boy Scouts and young collectors.
Whitman supports the national efforts of the American Numismatic Association, a congressionally chartered educational group. We fund and help organize the ANA’s annual Young Numismatists Literary Award competition, which encourages the next generation of writers and researchers.
All of these efforts connect with and feed the curiosity of hundreds of thousands of people who are not yet coin collectors, but who have a spark of interest that can, if nurtured, grow into a lifelong pastime or investment.
Hobby-market distribution and promotion
Whitman promotes the educational side of the hobby by selling books at numismatic shows year-round, nationwide. We maintain relationships with hobby newspapers and other periodicals; for example, we share images, data, and other content for news articles and columns. Whitman numismatic books have also been mentioned or featured in mainstream media such as the Boston Globe and the Wall Street Journal.
Education as the key to both collecting and investing
My first thoughts on reading this were, "I thought the Red Book already WAS a mass-market publication", and "Boy, they're milking that cow dry". But improvements over time have greatly enlarged the book, and stripping it back down to the "essentials" for everyday pocket-change collectors is probably a good idea. I would be much more inclined to buy a copy of this version to give to my neighbors and relatives than I would the regular edition, which has a lot of information, but not of direct interest to them. Good luck! I think this is a good step in promoting the hobby to a wider audience. -Editor
Dennis Tucker adds:
Yes, our goal with this edition is to expand the already considerable ambassadorial reach of the Red Book, rather than preach to the choir. The "Essential Edition" is a way of putting coin collecting in front of a huge new audience of non-collectors who probably have never even heard of the Red Book, but who might be intrigued enough to look up those old Wheat cents and Morgan dollars that Granddad set aside. (And then, with a bit of encouragement, grow into active collectors themselves!)
For more information, or to order, see: www.whitman.com
Dennis Tucker also forwarded this report on Dave Bowers' visit to the Memphis International Paper Money Show to promote the new Whitman books on U.S. obsolete paper money. Thanks. -Editor
Q. David Bowers, the “Dean of American Numismatics,” was a featured speaker at the 38th annual Memphis International Paper Money Show on Friday, June 13, 2014. He presented an insider’s view of the rarity, pricing, and market for obsolete currency, and introduced the first two volumes of the new Whitman Encyclopedia of Obsolete Paper Money.
Obsolete notes are currency released from 1782 to 1866, before the modern era of National Banks and the Federal Reserve. Over the course of these decades more than 3,000 state-chartered banks issued their own paper money for day-to-day commerce, in thousands of colorful and ornate varieties.
Also presenting with Bowers were Whitman publisher Dennis Tucker (who talked about the Whitman Encyclopedia, which is expected to fill 14 volumes of 400 to 800 pages each) and senior associate editor Caitlyn Mitchell (who discussed her introduction to numismatics and immersion in the massive book project).
In the Whitman Encyclopedia of Obsolete Paper Money Bowers has compiled decades of research from 18th- and 19th-century bank reports, contemporary newspapers, and other primary sources. He gives the history of every state, every town and city, and every bank that issued this uniquely American currency. Each note is studied in detail, and thousands are pictured in full color, with information on grading, rarity, values in multiple grades, significant auction results, advice for collectors, and other valuable guidance.
In his Memphis presentation, Bowers talked about factors that make collecting obsoletes such a fascinating hobby: the nefarious activities of counterfeiters, the introduction of new print technologies, the development of security features, the artistry and design of the notes’ beautiful engraved vignettes, their close connection to so much American history. He explored popular vignettes (such as Santa Claus) that can dramatically increase demand for a note and thus its market value. And he explained why some notes are common in high grades but can still be collected very affordably, while others are rarely seen and can be expensive. “The field of obsoletes is laden with thousands of inexpensive rarities—good opportunities for collectors,” Bowers observed.
The presentation filled the room with an audience of 49 people, most of them active collectors of obsolete paper money.
Bowers, Tucker, and Mitchell encourage collectors and researchers to get involved with the multiple-volume project. Volumes 1 and 2 debuted at the Memphis Show, offering an introduction to the hobby and full coverage of Connecticut, Maine, and New Hampshire. Volumes 3 and 4, currently in development, finish up New England with coverage of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. After New England, future books will cover the Southern states, the Mid-Atlantic states, the Midwest, and territories.
Anyone interested in sharing images, historical research, or market analysis can contact Whitman Publishing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money (2 p.m., August 7, 2014), Bowers and Tucker will present “Obsolete Paper Money: History, Rarity, and Today’s Market,” including an opportunity for questions-and-answers with the audience.
The Memphis show, held at the Cook Convention Center, is the premier annual convention dedicated to collectors and dealers of paper money. Its free series of educational programs often includes the latest research and announcements of new findings from the hobby’s experts.
Whitman Publishing is a leading publisher in the Antiques and Collectibles field, online at Whitman.com.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NEW BOOK: WHITMAN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF OBSOLETE PAPER MONEY (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v17n21a03.html)
Horacio Morero, President of the Instituto Uruguayo de Numismática, submitted this summary of the contents of the latest issue of the club's publication El Sitio. Thanks! -Editor
The cover of “El Sitio” Nº 11 shows the picture of the obverse of a 20 centésimos Uruguayan coin minted in Montevideo in 1844. This beautiful coin was auctioned by Heritage in April 12th 2014 in $ 7,637.50.
The four published articles are the following:
1) The 1877 coins: ¿Does a Proof Set exist?, by Nicolás Santerini.
2) The Río Negro Runch “Las Lilas” and its tokens, by Horacio Morero.
3) Some medals from the oldest sports club in Uruguay: the Montevideo Cricket Club, by Daniel Padula.
4) Identifying shearing tokens (third part), by Horacio Morero and Mario Sánchez.
To read the complete issue online, see: www.monedasuruguay.com/bib/bib/sitio11.pdf
Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker published a review last week in CoinWeek of Phil Mossman's new book, From Crime to Punishment: Counterfeit and Debased Currencies In Colonial and Pre-Federal America . Here's an excerpt, but be sure to read the complete article online. -Editor
Mossman, better than anyone we’ve ever read, digs deep into the historical and economic context of early American money. Mossman’s previous masterpiece, the indispensable Money of the American Colonies and Confederation (American Numismatic Society, 1993), earned him the coveted Archer B. Huntington Award.
It is a compelling blow-by-blow account of a species of money not all that familiar to many modern-day numismatists. And while that book is essential reading, its his latest turn–From Crime to Punishment: Counterfeit and Debased Coinage in Colonial and Pre-Federal America (American Numismatic Society, 2013)–that truly brings it home.
The simple fact is this: that the Spanish Milled Dollar proved to be the Coin of Our Nation’s Founders, when our forefathers were subjects of the English (and later, British) crown, speaks to the wholesale intentional failure on the part of London to circulate money in its western colonies.
The problems with money, as detailed by Mossman, were pandemic and served as a breeding ground for contempt between the English speaking colonies and the crown. By necessity, ingenious and often illegal measures were introduced and adopted in an effort to keep money circulating, each colony competing with the next to maintain some sense of solvency. England’s responses to the crises (as there were many) served as a multi-generational reminder to Americans that the crown’s attitude towards them was intractable. Before the Stamp Act led the Sons of Liberty to pitch East India Tea into Boston harbor, real, contemptible actions and inactions were thrust upon the English-speaking colonies.
And while the focus of Mossman’s present work is the production and circulation of counterfeit coins and the subsequent punishment or lack thereof of those caught in the act, the takeaway is that revolution was inevitable. By detailing these issues in a chronological and methodical fashion, Mossman brings clarity to a seemingly impenetrable issue.
He also makes the case that contemporaneous counterfeits–that is, counterfeit coins and currency produced and circulated alongside the genuine money of its day–are money, too.
Mossman’s From Crime to Punishment does not set out to be the comprehensive reference manual for every known contemporaneous colonial counterfeit coin and note. It does feature side-by-side illustrations of illicit money and the real McCoy. Some readers will find it a challenge to determine which one is the genuine item. Considering that numismatists reading the book have a 50/50 chance of spotting the fake and have the benefit of knowing that one of the depicted items is spurious, you quickly realize that farmers in Lynchburg, Virginia or tradesmen in Carlisle, Pennsylvania often had no chance.
Over the course of 264 pages, Mossman lays out the relationship these early Americans had with real and fake money, the effect fakes had on the money supply, on individuals stuck with it, and how the government either combated its proliferation or created obstacles to fully condemn it.
In the end, and whether anyone liked it or not, enough fake money circulated that it became real money by necessity. So long as the coins weren’t too shoddily made – or obviously bogus – they tended to be acceptable, especially in areas that were especially starved for means of exchange.
Philip Mossman’s From Crime to Punishment is without a doubt the most accomplished numismatic book we’ve read this year. Although it deals with a rather esoteric subject on the surface, the core material has universal applications.
To read the complete article, see: First Read: From Crime to Punishment: Counterfeit and Debased Currencies In Colonial and Pre-Federal America (www.coinweek.com/featured-news/first-read-from-crime-to-punishment-counterfeit-debased-currencies-colonial-pre-federal-america/)
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NEW BOOK: FROM CRIME TO PUNISHMENT (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v16n34a04.html)
Bill Eckberg submitted this review of Mark Ferguson's new book on the Dexter 1804 Dollar. Thanks! -Editor
This book has an interesting story to tell, and it would have been better if the author had limited the book to that story and skipped the collateral information and the speculation. We first find speculation in the title, which describes “the US Mint’s hidden secret as revealed by the true story of the Dexter dollar.” Ferguson doesn’t make a convincing case about any “hidden secret” or how the Dexter dollar “reveals” it. Two whoppers on the front cover is never a good start.
The discovery of the Dexter specimen has been shrouded in mystery for 130 years. It likely appeared in a group lot in an 1879 auction by Adolf Weyl in Germany. The Chapmans bought it in 1884 from another Weyl auction with no pedigree and no guarantee of genuineness, though the book reveals that they had returned a coin to Weyl’s auction company previously for a refund, so they probably thought the risk was acceptable. They sold it in their own auction in 1885 to James V. Dexter, who proceeded to sue them in the belief, fostered by the Chapmans’ competitor Édouard Frossard, that it was a fake.
The shadowy discovery of the coin and other issues led many to suspect that the Chapmans got the coin in Philadelphia (from the Mint, Haseltine, Idler, or whom?) and planted it in the Weyl auction. Never mind that the 1804 dollars Haseltine was selling in those years were all Type IIIs, and the Dexter coin is a Type I. Lacking any evidence to the contrary, Newman and Bressett repeated this then-current notion in their 1962 book, The Fantastic 1804 Dollar. Ferguson, however, has uncovered enough evidence that the Chapmans did NOT plant the coin to convince most other than ardent grassy knoll/Area 51/birther conspiracy theorists.
Ferguson has also uncovered a lot of evidence that once Dexter was convinced that it was genuine, he really LOVED his coin, having commissioned two works of art commemorating it. Both are illustrated in color in the book, but alas, they are illustrated in a very tiny, and so illegible, format. I would love to have had a link to an enlarged version of these plates on the Internet, as both have lots of small text, and the artwork looks to be excellent. Ferguson also reveals that Dexter, a wealthy Colorado mine owner, had quite an extensive coin collection. This apparently was not previously known, because his collection passed to family members and was not sold under the Dexter name.
The above story is told in the first 10 chapters. Chapter 11 discusses the recent market value of the coin, chapter 12 describes the coin in more detail than anyone probably needs and gives the most current slab grade of every known specimen of the 1834-5 Type I “originals” and the later Type II and II “restrikes.”
Chapter 13 gives the discovery source for all 15 specimens of all three types. This information is probably useful to collectors planning on purchasing a specimen, but I found it distracted from the story of the Dexter specimen.
Chapter 14, “The US Mint’s Hidden Secret as Revealed by the True Story of the Dexter Dollar,” the main point of the book, if you take the title at face value, gums things up. He retells the story, well-known since 1962, of the proof sets struck for the King of Siam and the Sultan of Muscat and how the 1804 silver dollar and gold Eagle came to be included in these diplomatic presentation sets.
Unfortunately, the Dexter dollar had nothing to do with this important discovery, which tells us the coin was struck in 1834 or soon thereafter. At the end of the chapter, Ferguson, himself treads into grassy knoll/Area 51/birther territory by suggesting that the 19,570 dollars reported struck in 1804 were dated 1804 and that all were sent to Tripoli as part of a $60,000 ransom paid to free American sailors held hostage.
This notion has been thoroughly debunked over the years; first, because of the facts that the early Mint frequently struck coins that did not bear the date of the year in which they were coined; and second, because the U.S. government did not strike gold or silver coins for its own account in the early days, but strictly in payment to bullion depositors.
Specie that came to the federal government came in the form of tax receipts, so to believe Ferguson’s story requires you to believe that all 19,570 were paid out to the bullion depositors, paid back to the government in taxes, and then all were shipped overseas, without a single specimen surviving.
It isn’t possible to prove all this never happened, but to suggest that it did stretches all credulity. This chapter also contains a very cheap shot at Newman and Bressett by discussing and illustrating a chapter of their book containing erroneous information that was deleted before their book was published.
Two other criticisms I have are that there is a lot of unnecessary repetition and that none of the information is sourced. The book could have used a more rigorous editing job. There are no footnotes, endnotes or list of other references used. There are some very strong claims made, and they require evidence, but it isn’t presented.
That said, I enjoyed most of the book. The first two-thirds are a good and interesting read. The rest I found to be unnecessary, speculative and even unfairly critical of others. I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about the King of American Coins, as I was, but I strongly urge skepticism about the “fantastic” tale that all of the original 1804 dollars were paid as ransom to the Barbary pirates.
I haven't seen the book. Although it sounds like it would fail my back-of-the-book test, I look forward to reading about the Chapman-Frossard feud and the Weyl provenance. -Editor
In the June 19, 2014 issue of CoinsWeekly Ursula Kampmann reviews the festschrift in honour of Roberto Russo. Here's an excerpt. -Editor
He was one of the bigwigs of the international coin trade, Roberto Russo, the coin dealer that has died in 2012, of Neapolitan descent and famous for his impressive auction sales in Zurich, the heart of the numismatic world. He was not only the founder of Numismatica Ars Classica but a keen scholar as well who liked to occupy himself with the mysteries of Republican numismatics. That is why some of the most influential numismatists pay him homage by contributing to his festschrift entitled “Essays in Honour of Roberto Russo”.
The content is divided into three parts, Greek, Roman and Medieval numismatics, with the emphasis on the Republic while the Middle Ages are represented by a single article.
Keith Ruttner starts with his essay on the early coinage of Sicily, Cyprus and Crete. With the aid of a comparison of the coin series of these three islands that all lacked silver, he wants to take a step forward in regard to the question as to what end the very first coins were produced. Christof Boehringer honours the deceased by writing his article on the “Maestro dalla foglia”, who owes his nickname to his famous die for the city of Katane, in Italian.
Much more comprehensive is the second part of the book, dealing with Republican coins. An article written by David Vagi opens this second section, in which he proposes the date of 326/5 for the earliest minted Roman coins and connects the depiction on the reverse with the sacrifice of the October horse. Andrew Burnett, too, examines this first emission, or more specifically, some stylistically highly unusual specimens that might constitute something of a subtype of this group. At the end of the day, he cannot really provide an answer to the question if it is a new group or a counterfeit of either contemporary or modern times, because there are simply too few original pieces preserved. The lengthiest essay, comprising of more than 170 pages, is contributed by Andrew McCabe. The author puts forward a new chronology for all of the minted bronze coins of the Roman Republic and therewith covers the main collecting area of Roberto Russo.
Lucia Travaini contributes the only Medieval article that deals with a tari of Conrad IV.
The festschrift in honour of Roberto Russo is not only a memorial to the many academic friendships he managed to build over the years. First of all, it is a standard work of reference on the coinage of the Roman Republic. The contribution of Andrew McCabe in particular is likely to replace Crawford in catalogs with a scholarly focus as reference for the minted bronze coins of the Roman Republic.
The book can be ordered from the NAC branch in Milan as exclusive distributor at the price of 150 $
To read the complete article, see: Essays in Honour of Roberto Russo (www.coinsweekly.com/en/News/4?&id=2839)
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NEW BOOK: ESSAYS IN HONOUR OF ROBERTO RUSSO (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v17n21a08.html)
THE BOOK BAZARRE
Regarding Kerry Rodgers' question about the language seen on a German East Africa banknote, Pete Smith writes:
My guess is Bantu-Swahili. I tried using a Swahili to English translator but couldn't figure out the whole phrase. It has something to do with the value of the note in German East Africa.
Ron Guth writes:
I believe the language on the back of the German East Africa notes was Swahili, which the Germans used as the official local language in addition to their own.
David T. Alexander writes:
The language on the Deutsch Ostafrika paper money is Swahili, a language initially developed by Arab slave traders and their African allies to facilitate communication among varied tribes. The Germans then went to work codifying this language, a task completed later under British rule in Uganda, Tanganyika (the erstwhile German East Africa) and Kenya.
I had the honor of meeting one of the British fathers of modern Swahili 50 years ago as a graduate student in African Studies at the University of California at Los Angeles, the late Dr. Snoxall. A demand was heard decades ago in the U.S. by Black nationalists for the teaching of Swahili in American schools as an African language. Those making the demand were plainly ignorant of the massive slavery component in Swahili's birth!
Regarding the military saga of "German East" and the numismatics of the colony before and during World War I, check out ANS Magazine for last Summer, where there was a definitive article by a fellow named Alexander!
Chip Howell writes:
The DOA (German East Africa) note looks to bear a Latinised Swahili message: I recognize "sahihi" is probably derived of the Arabic for real/genuine.
Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck would be proud--he led their forces against the British in the Great War. There's a good account in "The Great War in Africa" by Byron Farwell.
Andy Singer writes:
I had time on my hands while watching the World Cup. My translation program identifies the language as Swahili. I thought it was going to be more complicated than that, although perhaps it is. Now, how do the 15 Rupees struck in Tabora relate to this note? Or Paul von Lettow, or Humphrey Bogart?
Thanks also to Howard Berlin, Larry Gaye, Ralf Böpple, Pablo Hoffman, and others. But by far my favorite response was from Jon Radel. -Editor
Jon Radel writes:
Jambo, Bwana Homren!
When I lived in Kenya for 3 years as a child, I learned a very small amount of Swahili, most of which I've soundly forgotten. However, the vowel-heavy cadences, with considerably more recognizable loan words than the average language, still sound somewhat familiar. Between that and the fact that Swahili is effectively a "lingua franca" anywhere along the eastern coast of Africa, particular in areas within reach of sea trade coming south from Arabia, that has long served as a trade language and was heavily used by the colonial powers, and I was pretty sure of the answer. What I didn't realize until I just looked it up, was that the Germans made Swahili an official administrative language in Deutsch-Ostafrika in the late 19th century, unlike the British, who used it in British East Africa, but didn't accord it the same official position.
Google Translate confirmed it. A useful note: If you're trying to pin down which language something is written in, so long as it's in one of the 75 or so most widely used languages, try using http://translate.google.com and pick "Detect language" as the source language.
Kadri ya noti hii imewekwa sahihi katika Kaiserliches Gouvernement von Deutsch-Ostafrika.
Of course, sometimes the Google translation is not all that it could be:
As of this bill is installed right in Kaiserliches Gouvernement von Deutsch-Ostafrika.
Alternate translations of "noti" include the English "note" or "banknote," and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to find that coming from the British introduction of banknotes to the region....
Yosef Sa'ar adds:
This is Swahili. If you feed the text into translate.google.com and use "Detect Language" you'll get it. What looks like Kalseritches on the note is apparently Kaiserlich (Imperial in German).
Eric Schena adds:
The coins and notes of Deutsch Ostafrika are really neat. And there's one coin that ties into the "Elephants on Coins" theme: the Tabora Mint 15 Rupien gold coin from 1916.
To read the complete ANS museum description, see: Gold 15 rupie, Tabora (Tanzania), 1888 - 1918 (numismatics.org/collection/1960.166.343)
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
Correction: Colonel Green Ron Guth writes:
Harvey Stack meant Colonel Green, but Colonial Green sounds like a great name for a coin business.
Good catch. I missed the typo in Harvey's blog article which called him "Colonial Green"! Perhaps another case of autocorrect gone bad. Thanks also to Bill Eckberg. -Editor
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: THE AMON G. CARTER, JR. FAMILY COLLECTION, PART 1 (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v17n25a20.html)
Walter Breen's Degree Back in December 2009, Michael E. Marotta asked:
Was Breen's master's degree in music or in sociology or something else?
Walter Breen's daughter Moira writes:
His Master’s degree was in sociology. He failed his Ph.D orals.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: MORE ON WALTER BREEN'S EDUCATION (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v12n50a13.html)
More on the Arches Quarter Design Chip Howell writes:
BTW, am I the only one who sees the "Arches" quarter & is reminded of Robert Crumb's "Keep on Truckin'" cartoon? It probably says something deeply disturbing about me...
Now I'm seeing it, too. That IS disturbing... -Editor
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: ARCHES NATIONAL PARK QUARTER LAUNCH CEREMONY (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v17n25a24.html)
1947 Stack's Lee Sale Postcard Last week Fred Michaelson attended a dinner meeting of my numismatic social group, Nummis Nova. He brought along some numismatic ephemera, and I didn't have time to mention this item last week. It's a 1947 postcard from Stack's promoting the Lee sale of October 2-4, 1947. Thanks for the images.
I've never seen this item before. Neat piece of ephemera, illustrating an 1894-S dime and other rarities.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: WAYNE'S NUMISMATIC DIARY: JUNE 15, 2014 (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v17n25a09.html)
The City of Taipei, Taiwan Ken Berger writes:
I read the Stack's Bowers Formosa Ration Dollar article in The E-Sylum and it mentions the City of Taiwan. I lived in Taiwan for 5 years, and there is no city named Taiwan. There is Taipei (the capital), Taichung, Tainan & Taitung. Taiwan is the name of the island (i.e. the Province). I believe the article should have said the city of Taipei.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: 1853 FORMOSA RATION DOLLAR (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v17n25a13.html)
Dave Bowers submitted this call for assistance; images are needed for a new book on the U.S. Hard Times token series. Can anyone help? Dave can be contacted at: qdbarchive@metrocast net . -Editor
It was many years ago when I started research on the series of Hard Times tokens of the era from 1832 to 1844—the time period selected by pioneer author Lyman H. Low for his 1899 Hard Times Tokens book. In actuality the hard financial times began in 1834 and extended to the spring of 1843 when recovery was underway.
I am now scheduled to deliver the manuscript for A Guide Book of Hard Times Tokens, subtitled Political Tokens and Store Cards 1832-1844, A History and Price Guide to Types and Varieties. The due date is July 7. Publication is expected by the end of the year. Many specialists and dealers have helped, including Steve Hayden, Joe Levine, and Dr. Robert A. Schuman. The book will be several hundred pages in length and will be illustrated in color with about 800 images.
I attach my “want list” of token images I still need. I will be very grateful to anyone who can help. The reward will be a credit in the book.
Regarding the Vail medal, Scott Miller writes:
In case it is of any interest to anyone, the medal to Mrs. Josephine L. August was listed with a brief description of the events that led to the award on page 51 of For Noteworthy Public Service, Theodore N. Vail National Awards, no author listed, published 1950. The book lists all awards to 1948, with many accounts of the meritorious acts by the recipients.
Thanks for letting us know about the book. What a great resource! -Editor
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: 1925 THEODORE N. VAIL MEMORIAL MEDAL (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v17n25a10.html)
Last week, Dave Schenkman and I asked, "Who's sharp enough to tell us who issued these odd denomination tokens?" -Editor
Pete Smith writes:
Why am I still up at 2:00 in the morning? Because I have been looking through my token collection for pieces that match your pictures in The E-Sylum. Here is what I found:
There is the possibility that any of these dies may have been matched with more than one obverse.
Great token collection! Duane Feisel was quicker on the trigger and first to respond. -Editor
Almost too easy!
Dave Schenkman sent in the images of the token obverses. Here are the full attributions. -Editor
(1.5 cents) John W. Taylor, Hallwood, VA.
(7 cents) Huffman Auto Store Inc. 518 W. Broad (Richmond, VA)
(12 cents) Brunswick Balke Collender Company, W.F.M. (William F McLaughlin) (Fort Wingate, NM).
(65 cents) House Marefos 411 Sansome (San Francisco CA)
Pete and Duane were right on the money, although each had some misspellings. Rich Hartzog got three of four, attributing the 7 cent token to The Midway S.T. Moss, Lowell, AZ. But as Pete noted, the die may have been matched with more than one obverse.
But first, Dave has one more QUICK QUIZ: who issued this 1 2/3 cent token? Remember, Dave will give a talk titled “Collecting by the Numbers; A Look at Trade Token Denominations” on Friday, June 27, at 1 PM in room 301 at the Whitman Baltimore Coin Expo. -Editor
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: WAYNE'S NUMISMATIC DIARY: JUNE 15, 2014 (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v17n25a09.html)
This week Stack's Bowers announced that it will be auctioning the legendary Pogue collection of U.S. coins. Put me down for a hardcover set of catalogs! -Editor
Stack's Bowers Galleries is honored to announce that the firm has been chosen to market the most valuable collection of federal American coins ever formed. Assembled over several decades by the Pogue family of Dallas, Texas and built under the connoisseurship of D. Brent Pogue, the collection focuses on copper, silver, and gold coins from the early 1790s to the late 1830s. Many of these extraordinary examples are the finest known today. It is anticipated that the collection will be sold over a series of auctions in New York City over the next several years.
"For over 30 years, under Brent's guidance, we participated in the most famous 'name' auction sales, many of which were presented by Stack's Bowers Galleries. Our goal was to develop a cabinet without precedent as to quality and value and I believe that we have accomplished that goal. It is only fitting that the legendary Q. David Bowers and the company's exceptional staff of numismatic professionals — specifically Harvey and Larry Stack, Christine Karstedt, and Greg Roberts — which we have had the pleasure of working with to build our collection, present it to a new generation of enthusiasts who will enjoy these coins as much as we have. Each is quite special, and most are well documented as to their history and pedigree," said a Pogue family representative.
"Working with the Pogue family and Brent Pogue on this project is a tremendous honor for me. Sharing the amazing accomplishments of the collectors and the fascinating stories behind the important rarities in definitive reference books and auction catalogs, will be one of the most memorable accomplishments in my career," stated Q. David Bowers, chairman emeritus.
Christine Karstedt, who has worked with the family for many years, will coordinate the educational displays, auction schedules, and marketing for this amazing collection. She stated, "We are now planning the grand suite of events to present the Pogue Collection, the most significant offering of finest known early coins ever formed. As a look behind the curtain, the cabinet includes two Class I 1804 dollars, including the finest known Imam of Muscat/Childs specimen, the only 1854-S half eagle to come on the market since 1982 when the family acquired this specimen during the Eliasberg sale, and the 1822 half eagle also an Eliasberg rarity and the only one in public hands, to mention just a tiny handful of legendary coins."
Additional announcements will be made as appropriate in coming months. Stay tuned at StacksBowers.com.
Doug Winter had some comments on this development in his June 19, 2014 blog, titled "Your Blogger Swoons at an Auction Announcement." I added an image of the Eliasberg 1822 Half Eagle from PCGSCoinFacts.com. -Editor
The last few years have been fertile, to say the least, for auction sales involving all-time great collections. We’ve seen the sales of the Newman collection, are seeing the current selling off of the Gene Gardner sets, and have also witnessed the not-as-splashy sales of a number of important general and specialized sets. But none of these sales affected me as much as the announcement of the upcoming sale(s) of the legendary Mac and Brent Pogue collection.
Around a week ago I read a press release stating that the Pogue collection would be sold by Stacks Bowers in a series of auctions “over the next several years.” My reaction? Unprintable in this blog (hint, starts with: Holy) but understandable, given that it is well-known within the dealer community that this is quite probably the greatest collection of American coins ever formed, and that there were no rumors floating around that it might be sold.
After pondering the Pogue Situation for a few hours, I’ve reached a few initial reactions which I’d like to share with you.
1. This Collection is Even Greater than You’ve Heard
Other than a handful of people, there are not many numismatists that are aware of the complete inventory of this collection, and I am not one of the lucky few. Over the years, I’ve been shown little date runs from the collection (I can remember looking at a phenomenal group of early quarters at Dave Akers’ table at an ANA convention 10-15 years ago that belonged to the Pogues and, at another ANA show maybe 15 years ago a group of Fat Head half eagles which were mind-blowing) and have received tidbits of information from Brent about what he has. But this is truly a once-in-a-generation collection and it is certainly the only collection that I would actually pay to see in person.
2. This Collection is More Valuable than You’ve Heard
It is nearly impossible to know the value of a collection which you haven’t seen in person and don’t even know for sure what it includes. If I had to give a good guesstimate, I’d say the collection is easily worth $150 million, and it could ultimately be worth $200 million or even more.
It contains a coin which is likely to set a record for most valuable United States issue ever sold at auction (the Childs/Pogue PCGS PR68 Original 1804 Dollar) and it contains at least two other coins (the 1822 half eagle and the 1854-S half eagle) that could break the $5 million dollar barrier. There are scads of mid to high six-figure coins in the Pogue collection, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a number of other coins which will break the $1 million dollar mark when they are sold at auction.
The Eliasberg 1822 Half Eagle
To read the complete article, see: Your Blogger Swoons at an Auction Announcement (raregoldcoins.com/market-blog/your-blogger-swoons-at-an-auction-announcement)
An article by Paul Gilkes in the June 17, 2014 Coin World notes that Dave Bowers will be writing not one, but TWO books on the Pogue collection. -Editor
Prolific numismatic author Q. David Bowers is researching and developing two books to be written chronicling the Pogue family collection of United States coins.
Among the coins in the collection are two Class I, original 1804 Draped Bust dollars; the finest known regular strike 1795 Flowing Hair, Three Leaves dollar; and an 1822 Capped Head $5 gold half eagle and 1854-S Coronet half eagle, both of which have been off the market since 1982.
The two gold coins were last sold at auction in the Bowers and Ruddy Galleries Inc. sale Oct. 27 to 29, 1982, of The United States Gold Coin Collection, the anonymous name given to the holdings of renowned Baltimore numismatist Louis E. Eliasburg Sr.
To read the complete article, see: Q. David Bowers to write two books about Pogue family collection in conjunction with auctions (www.coinworld.com/insights/pogue-family-to-auction-extensive-collection-of-united-states-co.html)
THE BOOK BAZARRE
George Cuhaj submitted this response to Bob Fritsch's question about the Junior Numismatic Correspondence Club of America. Thanks! -Editor
I joined the American Numismatic Association in the Fall of 1973, and soon thereafter joined the JNCCA. I even served as Librarian for a time in 1976, and by 1978 the organization was folded as the ANA was finally getting their act together and major coin shows were starting to have YN programs (Started in NY by Vinnie and Aggie Alones and Florence Schook in Michigan nearly at the same time in the early 1970s, and then eventually co-opted by Schook on a national level, and finally morphed into the programs by Larry Gentile, but that story is for another day).
At that 1976 ANA NY Convention, I got to meet Lorry Kiessling, (who at the time lived in North Hills, PA) and another fellow... that other fellow, I re-met on eBay about three years ago when I sold him a medal. (he is the one hugging Lorry). At that show I also meet Larry Jackson, and Larry Hample of Georgia (Hample is flipping me off in the photo).
At that NY ANA, they paired up YNs and other presenters, I got to work with Tom DeLorey and Kurt Kreuger explaining the Sheldon 70 point grading system, which was just breaking out from the copper group into the mainstream. I also got to meet for the first time, David R. Cervin who started the YN Roman coin project. He treated me to both a Yankee and Mets game during the week. So, this color slide is from 1976 ANA.
Michael Davidson, David R. Cervin (standing), Tom DeLorey
This B/W photo is from a YN meeting at the 1977 Grand Central Show (the fall Long Island Coin Club's event). Margo Russell at the podium and Florence Schook at left. On at least one occasion, Schook brought Lee Minshull to a NY show. Others involved were Evan Bloom, Douglas Winter and Scott Travers.
Florence Shook (far left), Margo Russell at podium, Evan Bloom, Michael Davidson
The outcome of those events was that by the London Convention of the CNA, a group of YNs had formed a new group called COYN - Confederation of Young Numismatists. Which included me as newsletter editor, and members Ted Banning of Toronto and others. Photo of Mrs. Pittman with COYN newsletter! (She was very encouraging).
So, involved, well at least three became professionals - Jackson, Minshull and Travers, I went into the scholarship/publishing end with jobs at the American Numismatic Society and Krause Publications, and after a career in the private sector Paul Johnson has become the CNA executive director.
Thanks for the great information and photos! -Editor
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: QUERY: THE JUNIOR NUMISMATIC CORRESPONDENCE CLUB (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v17n25a17.html)
Steve D'Ippolito submitted these thoughts on the Fort Ross souvenir pieces discussed last week. Thanks! -Editor
I've been asked about the Fort Ross "coins" on a couple of occasions as well. The story you quoted is correct.
The original 5 kopek Siberian piece is very thick, compared to the token. Even without the Ft. Ross add-on, it would be an obvious fake. Well, obvious to anyone who had ever owned an original, anyway. When I actually visited Fort Ross and saw the things for sale, they looked wrong from three feet away. Probably further away than that, but that's how close I was when I spotted them.
Whoever brought the original coin to Fort Ross was carrying a much older and technically demonetized piece, so I've always wondered how that coin got there in the first place. The Siberian series was minted near present day Barnaul (not too far from where Kazakhstan, Russia, China, and Mongolia almost form a Four Corners, in the Altai region) in a town called Suzun (Сузун) from 1764-81 in part because it was difficult to send other money there. The copper used was a byproduct of a silver mine in Kolyvan (Колыван), and because of the less-advanced processing of the day, still contained some silver in it.
Russia decided to make coins out of the copper, solving two problems at once. Because of the silver impurity, the coins were minted to a lower weight standard than other coppers of the time, and had a distinctive (and much more interesting) design as a consequence. You've all seen those large copper five kopek pieces of Catherine the Great; the Fort Ross token was based on a coin that is also a five kopek piece made contemporaneously, but is somewhat smaller. The letters KM seen on the post 1766 pieces below the script E are not a mint mark; they stand for Kolyvanski Med' (Kolyvan Copper). (That phrase is edge lettered on the early, rarer dates).
When I sold the vast majority of my Russian Imperial holdings, I hung on to a ten kopek Siberian piece.
Eventually the mine got better at extracting all of the silver and the mint that had been built there started producing standard design/standard weight copper pieces in 1782, with the Suzun mintmark, СМ. (So if you find one of those big five kopek pieces with that mintmark, it's the same place that previously produced the Siberian pieces. It will also be worth more than the much more common ЕМ mintmark, which must be about R minus sixteen.)
The Siberian pieces were officially demonetized. And someone carried one the rest of the way across Siberia and brought it to Fort Ross, only to lose it. Perhaps the coins still circulated in Siberia (they were never legal tender anywhere else in Russia) even after they were demonetized. After all, probably no one within a thousand miles cared.
The diameter of the five kopek Siberian copper (shown above) is about 35 mm (not struck in collar so it varies), weight 33 grams. Note that the weight and diameter are very similar to those of a US double eagle, but this is only copper, which gives you an idea of the thickness. Denominations for the series ranged from polushka (1/4 kopek) to ten kopeks. The ten kopek piece is about 44-45mm, and weighed about 65 grams. It's noticeably larger than those ubiquitous regular issue five kopek coppers, which were 50 grams, diameter approximately 41mm. (I occasionally exhibit my ten kopek Siberian as part of "Russian Coins of Conquest.")
The inscription encircling the sables reads "Siberian Coin," the lettering on the shield reads "Five Kopeks". The script E II on the other side is for Ekaterina II, Catherine the Great. The edge is a slant reed /////// (except in the early years of the larger denominations where an edge inscription reads "Kolyvan Copper" and the KM letters do not appear).
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: THE FT. ROSS, CALIFORNIA SOUVENIR TOKEN (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v17n25a16.html)
Alan V. Weinberg submitted these thoughts inspired by a piece of ephemera pictured in last week's issue. Thanks! -Editor
I found that Tom Elder correspondence addressing the first gold US Mint-struck lifesaving medal in his auction to be fascinating. I own the only two gold LS-1's (ref. Robt. W. Julian's US Mint Medals 1792-1892) known and a possibly unique silver awarded specimen too. Unawarded Bronze LS-1 specimens struck for collectors are quite scarce.
The first gold originally-cased specimen I acquired came directly from Jacques Schulman in Amsterdam (older brother of American coin dealer Hans Schulman) and is engraved in the Dutch language. Jacques informed me the recipient was actually a Dutch Pirate Captain and it was awarded to him during Lincoln's administration.
The 2nd gold specimen originated with dealer Fred Werner who first offered it to me and then, when I passed as I already had one, sold it to John J. Ford. I acquired it out of Stack's Ford auction.
The silver, which is apparently rarer than the gold, is in an original ornate presentation case and was acquired privately along with a pristine LS-2 silver in its original case after I chased the pair for over a decade.
Julian indicated the LS-1 medals were awarded to foreign recipients who aided American seamen in distress while the more primitively designed (although curiously more charming) LS-2 was struck for award to American lifesavers. Interestingly, there are no known gold LS-2's but there are at least 6-8 known silvers, several holed or battered.
I wonder where that Elder gold medal is today, as he specifically states the edge is impressed "The First Life Saving Medal Ever Awarded by U.S. " No known U.S. gold lifesaving medal has such an obverse or reverse die-struck or edge-impressed inscription. I'm thinking now that Elder gold medal is an electrotype or cast, like a museum exhibit specimen. I wonder if in fact Elder ever did place it in his May 15, 1909 auction?
Good question - does anyone have a copy of the May 15, 1909 Elder sale? -Editor
To view the complete descriptions of Alan's medals on NeoCollect, see:
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: WAYNE'S NUMISMATIC DIARY: JUNE 15, 2014 (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v17n25a09.html)
With commemorative coin issues getting out of control, I've long thought that it was only a matter of time before governments got into the business of commemorative banknotes. China and a few others have already done this in a small way. This article discusses Scotland's new commemorative note. -Editor
THE NEW special design for the Ryder Cup 2014 edition £5 bank-note has been unveiled. The prestigious golf competition between teams from Europe and the United States will take place at Gleneagles in Perthshire in September and the Royal Bank of Scotland have decided to commemorate it with the new special edition bank note.
The note will be sold online as part of an official 2014 Ryder Cup commemorative package which will cost £20. To mark the occasion the Royal Mint will also be producing a special commemorative set of coins.
Though the notes will be considered legal tender, they will not officially be added to the general circulation.
The special £5 note is unique in that it will be printed on hybrid paper — a first in Europe — and will feature a transparent window in the shape of the famous Ryder Cup.
The Ryder Cup, which is held by Europe after their momentous 14½–13½ win two years ago in Medinah, Illinois, has become one of the world’s most famous sporting events and attracts a global audience.
Richard Hills, Europe’s Ryder Cup director, said: “Bank notes are part of a stable of collectible items that people love to buy, or give as a gift, to commemorate major events.
The banknote will also be the first to contain the signature of new RBS chief executive Ross McEwan.
Ken Barclay, RBS Chairman in Scotland, said: “RBS has a long history of issuing commemorative bank notes and supporting golf in Scotland and it means a lot to be able to mark The Ryder Cup’s arrival here for the first time in over 40 years.”
The commemorative bank note, which can be used as normal currency anywhere in the UK, will be available to ticket-holders at the event.
To read the complete article, see: New Ryder Cup 2014 bank note design unveiled (www.scotsman.com/sport/golf/new-ryder-cup-2014-bank-note-design-unveiled-1-3445356)
It's non-numismatic, but readers may be interested to learn about a new price record in our sister field of Philately. Thanks to Arthur Shippee and Eric Schena for passing along the story. -Editor
It took only two minutes for the British Guiana one-cent magenta stamp to be sold to an anonymous bidder,
The stamp had been sold three times before, each time setting the auction record for a single stamp.
It measures just 1in by 1in (2.5cm by 2.5cm), and had not been publicly exhibited since 1986.
Sotheby's auction house said that apart from setting a new world record price for a stamp, it was also the most expensive item by weight and size ever sold.
"Every collecting area has its Holy Grail. For stamps it is The British Guiana," Sotheby's wrote on its website, adding the stamp is often described as the "most famous" and "most valuable" in the world.
The stamp, printed on magenta paper, bears a three-masted ship and the colony's motto, "We give and expect in return".
It initially went into circulation when a shipment of stamps was delayed from London and the colony's postmaster asked printers to make three stamps until the shipment arrived.
A one-cent magenta, four-cent magenta and four-cent blue were created, but only the one-cent stamp is believed to still exist.
The last owner of the famous stamp was John du Pont, heir to the du Pont chemical empire, who was convicted in 1997 of murdering an Olympic champion wrestler and died in prison in 2010.
To read the complete article, see: Rare British Guiana stamp sets record at New York auction (www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-27890106)
To read the Sotheby's lot description, see: THE BRITISH GUIANA ONE-CENT BLACK ON MAGENTA (www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/2014/magenta-n09154.html)
Michele Orzano authored a nice article in the June 15, 2014 Coin World about an interesting New Orleans note with a connection to yellow fever. Here's an excerpt. -Editor
An unissued 50-cent relief ticket for the Howard Association of New Orleans, is offered in the June 26 to 27 Stack’s Bowers Galleries auction during the Whitman Baltimore Summer Expo at the Baltimore Convention Center.
The face has intricate engraving around the edges along with both text and numerals indicating the denomination. American Bank Note Co. in New York printed the piece.
The back has the inscription RELIEF TO with a blank space, apparently to fill in the name of the individual who received aid. Another blank space for the name of the member supplying aid is followed by the words MEMBER HOWARD ASSOCIATION. The bottom line, NEW ORLEANS, is followed by a blank space that was possibly intended for writing the date of the service rendered.
In New Orleans in 1837, Farquhar Mathewson, aged around 22 or 23, organized a group of young men to provide relief to the victims of the epidemic. They were the first members of the Howard Association of New Orleans.
According to records kept by the association, during the epidemic of 1853 it disbursed more than $150,000 to 11,000 sick and destitute individuals.
The association takes its name from John Howard, a British philanthropist and prison reformer. The first Howard Association in the United States was established in 1812 in Boston as a way to supply medicine, food and burial for victims of yellow fever epidemics there. Other Howard Associations were established in many cities along the East Coast. These organizations provided local emergency relief long before the formation of the American Red Cross in 1881.
Interesting precursor item relating to the Red Cross. On June 1, 2014 we published an article about a new book on American Red Cross WWII collectibles. -Editor
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NEW BOOK: AMERICAN RED CROSS WWII COLLECTOR'S GUIDE (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v17n23a07.html)
To read the complete article, see: Howard Association of New Orleans 50-cent relief ticket reminds charity begins at home (/www.coinworld.com/insights/50_cent-relief-ticket-reminds-charity-begins-at-home.html)
Is the Department of Justice trying to shut down the coin business? A June 20, 2014 article on CoinWeek by Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker tries to sort thru the facts. The issue is non-numismatic and politically charged, but worth reviewing. See the complete article online for details. -Editor
PNG Executive Director Robert Brueggeman claims that the “Choke Point” program has the potential to “shut down every coin dealer” and kill the rare coin industry.
Details concerning the initiative have emerged in recent months, drawing concern from government watchdog groups and some in the media who feel that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is using extralegal means to browbeat banks and keep them from funding certain businesses in order to make them go away.
A May 7 blog post highlights the biggest success story of the anti-fraud campaign, which led to a $1.2 million settlement by North Carolina-based Fair Oaks Bank, a company that knowingly processed fraudulent transactions through a third-party payment processor.
The Department of Justice did not claim that coin dealers are “high-risk” merchants. The “high-risk” label was used in relation to “coin dealers” in an article published by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in the Summer of 2011—two years before Operation Choke Point was first disclosed.
In any event, the Industry Council for Tangible Assets, an organization that lobbies state and federal legislators on behalf of the rare coin and precious metal industry, are sending out a press release today saying that it’s legislative consultant, Jimmy Hayes, attended the House hearings on Operation Choke Point and….. “Based on these hearings, Hayes does not believe that coin dealers will be a target of this overreaching initiative by the Department of Justice.“
As of now, it would appear that there is no evidence that the coin industry is in peril. However, we will continue to follow the issue and keep you informed when and if the facts on the ground change.
To read the complete article, see: Numismatic Quick Hits: PNG Warning Premature + Decline in Future Prices for Baseball HOF Coins (www.coinweek.com/featured-news/numismatic-quick-hits-png-warning-debunked-decline-future-prices-baseball-hof-coins/)
Dick Johnson is making his own call to arms over the potential disappearance of coins from circulation altogether. -Editor
I have sounded the call to arms before but no one in authority at the American Numismatic Association seems to be listening. An action is needed that overshadows perhaps 90% of the activities in which the ANA is currently involved. A monster is lurking in the future that would severely curtail the field of numismatics.
The ABC network issued a report this week on the declining use of circulating coins in America. We all know we are in a soft economy. This has led to fewer purchases and less need for use of coins in making payment for small value transactions. The report reveals the government office -- the Cash Product Office -- that tracks the amount of coins in circulation. It also determines where and what coins are needed to be obtained from the Federal Reserve Banks (which obtains newly minted coins from the Mint.)
The rumbling behind closed doors is that circulating coins may be abandoned altogether Such action would end entirely with the current trend of increased payments online by phone. This is, in effect, Electronic Transfer of Payments.. That is the monster in the closet.
If such an action would occur it would severely damage coin collecting, let alone the entire numismatic field. Numismatists would be forced to study existing coins like scientists and archeologists study clay tablets.
The U.S. Mints would cease striking coins for circulation. Instead they would manufacture an even greater number of commemorative "coins" for sale to a gullible public. If they bore a demonetization it would be meaningless because they could not be spent -- they would not be a medium of exchange.
The ANA should lead the way to curtail the Electronic Transfer of Payment Monster. As a Congressional Chartered Institution the ANA should do everything possible to keep coins viable and useful for small value payments. Inaction would lead to the Monster becoming dominant and the possible death knell for circulating coins.
Here are my recommendations:
1. The ANA should join forces with the vending machine industry to determine best use of coins. Thus the organization with the greatest love of coins with the industry of the greatest use of coins could speak with one unified, specific, forceful voice.
2. Demand the U.S. Treasury issue coins of higher denomination -- five dollar, and ten dollar -- as circulating coins.
3. Prove to the Treasury the folly of continue striking coins of minor value -- the cent and the nickel -- plus eliminate the quarter.
4. Retain the dime, half dollar and dollar coin. Round off all transactions to the nearer 10 cents. Prices can still be quoted in cents as prices have been quoted in mills since the demise of the half cent coin in 1857. Its the final transaction price -- what the Canadians call the "tally price" that payment be made in a multiple of 10 cents.
5. These three denominations -- dime, half dollar and dollar -- combined with the two new coin denominations of five dollar, ten dollar -- could satisfy every possible small value transaction. This has been the prerogative of coins for 2600 years. The five denominations would occupy the five compartments in every cash register in the country.
6. Vending machines would eliminate all paper money transactions in their machines as the five denominations could accommodate every possible purchase. This would be to the delight of the vending machine industry as use of paper money is their greatest problem.
7. Aid the Treasury Department in a public relations campaign for the rounding off all transactions to 10 cents. The economic value of the cent and nickel are so small -- and become increasingly smaller -- as our economy returns and grows in the future.
Can you imagine 50 years in the future when, say, the minimum wage is $100 per hour, the economic value of one cent. It would be less than what we value a mill today. The sooner we effect the savings of eliminating the costly striking of cents and nickels the better. A coinage system based on 10 -- 10 cents -- would be efficient in a modern, advanced society.
The Treasury is wasting its time conducting studies and holding public hearings on what composition to make cent coins in the future.. Such inevitable result is going to be -- like the checkout clerk at the grocery store "paper or plastic/?"
The answer should be to eliminate the cent (and the nickel).
And the ANA should mount a project immediately to keep circulating coins viable or the Cookie Monster will take away all our cookies in the future!
Here is the ABC report:
Coin Use Decline Could Cost Fed a Pretty Penny
Also this week is a report that graphically illustrates the cent-nickel folly as revealed in a House Subcommittee meeting last week:
The penny debate: Should U.S. stop making pennies, nickels?
A topic I've been watching for a while is the appearance of cup-shaped commemorative coins. Lucky for all of us, Louis Golino has already written a great article about them. It appeared in CoinWeek June 17, 2014. Here's an excerpt, but be sure to read the whole thing online. -Editor
What is it about curved, or cup-shaped coins, that appeals so much to collectors? Various world mints have increasingly explored issuing coins in unusual shapes such as cylinders, cubes, squares, and so forth, but none of those shapes have been as successful as the convex/concave combination.
In part it is the novelty of the concept, which so far has only been used by five world mints as far as I know, and three of them only issued their cup-shaped coins this year. It all began with the issuance in 2009 of two French coins that honored the International Year of Astronomy and the 40th anniversary of American moon landing, one in silver and another in gold. The French coins were big hits and are not easy to locate today, as very few dealers have them in stock.
Since then a number of curved coins have been issued by world mints, and of course there are the 2014 baseball commemoratives (half dollar, dollar, and $5 gold) that were popular from the time they were first announced in part because of their unusual shape, a first for modern American issues.
But the real reason the cup-shape is so popular with modern coin collectors is that it is a very effective concept when the subject matter lends itself so naturally to a convex/concave shape. The two most obvious topics that are well-suited to this approach are sports because the curved side resembles one half of a ball of whatever kind, and astronomy because the dome can also represent the surface of the earth, moon, etc., or of the sky. Geography is another area that comes to mind.
Because there are still relatively few curved coins some collectors are putting together sets of each of the ones issued so far, at least all the silver ones that is, since the gold coins are rather expensive. The 2014 American baseball coins are still $800 even after a recent dip. And even more prohibitively expensive is the French gold coin from 2009 which has a blue-colored insert and costs several thousand dollars.
It is not unusual for world mints to pick up on a design or shape used by one of their competitors and use it on their own coinage. There are countless examples of that such as our own mint issuing large, five ounce silver coins, which is something mints around the world have been doing for years.
It is important to remember how much our mint relied on the French and Australian coins when it was preparing the baseball coins for mintage, which Mint officials have explained was so difficult that they compare it to the moon landing in the words of Steve Antonucci of the U.S. Mint, quoted in a recent Wired magazine article.
According to coin media reports, one of the first things the team developing the baseball coins did was make reproductions of the French and Australian coins so they could study the specific minting requirements of a curved coin. And the legislation that created the coins specifically required that they be issued in a concave/convex shape similar to the 2009 French coin.
For now the concept remains popular with collectors and is likely to remain that way unless it is overdone. It works because it is a very effective way to visually represent certain themes, and it seems to strike the right balance between being different enough from other coins without being too unusual. But the question remains, to use an expression my father was fond of: How much is too much of a good thing?
To read the complete article, see: The Coin Analyst: The Growing Popularity of Cup-Shaped Coins (www.coinweek.com/featured-news/the-coin-analyst-the-growing-popularity-of-cup-shaped-coins/)
While reading the CoinWeek article on the current craze for cup-shaped coins. I noticed a link to an article by Mike Markowitz on why Byzantine coins are cup-shaped. It's an excellent article; be sure to read the full version. Here's an excerpt. -Editor
Deeply cupped Gold Histamenon Nomisma of Constantine IX 1059-1067
During the reign of emperor Michael IV (1034-1041), the gold coins became slightly concave. By the middle of the 12th century most of the coinage in all metals was deeply cupped. The reason for this bizarre transformation has baffled and intrigued generations of numismatists.
In this article we review some of the theories and discover an explanation that makes sense, based on what we know about metallurgy and structural engineering.
In the medieval world, rulers were strongly tempted to adulterate or “debase” the currency, to stretch a limited supply of precious metal to pay more soldiers, build another palace, or distribute more diplomatic bribes (oops, I meant “gifts!”) But debasing the coins undermined public confidence, contributed to inflation and created all sorts of technical problems for the mint.
Gold (specific gravity 19.32) is much more dense than silver (specific gravity 10.49), for example. So if you want to hold the weight of a coin constant, mixing a higher proportion of silver into the gold will give you a bigger coin. Either it will become thicker (making it harder to strike), or it will be greater in diameter (requiring bigger dies to strike.)
In the year 1000, the average diameter of the gold nomisma was about 23mm (0.9 inches). By 1085, the coin had the same thickness but measured about 31mm (1.22 inches) in diameter. All things being equal, a bigger coin is more impressive. The typical design bore a portrait of Christ on the convex (obverse) side, and the figure of the emperor on the concave (reverse) side.
A large, thin coin is easily bent, and because a gold-silver alloy is more brittle than soft, pure gold, it’s also more likely to crack.
It seems clear that the main reason for the emergence of the concave fabric, and its survival for almost three centuries, was to make thin coins strong enough to resist bending and breakage. When the fabric became too thin and the alloy was too brittle, edge cracks inevitably became a problem–something familiar to every collector of these difficult coins.
Medieval technology was rarely documented; everything technical was treated as a “trade secret.” But the basic principles of metallurgy and engineering don’t change. In the cup-shaped Imperial coinage, we see how the mint masters of Constantinople creatively applied these principles to solve a complex technical, economic and political challenge.
The article also includes a great illustrated description of how cup-shaped coins must have been struck. -Editor
To read the complete article, see: Why Did Byzantine Coins Become Cup-Shaped? (www.coinweek.com/featured-news/byzantine-coins-become-cup-shaped/)
THE BOOK BAZARRE
Dick Hanscom forwarded this article from the BBC. Thanks. -Editor
A rare gold coin bearing the image of Roman emperor Nero has been unearthed in Northumberland.
It is the first gold coin to be found at the Roman fort site of Vindolanda where archaeologists have been digging for more than 40 years.
Dr Andrew Birley, director of excavations, described it as a "special" find.
It is likely to be put on display at Vindolanda's museum once it has been fully researched and documented.
The coin was found by dig volunteer Marcel Albert, from Nantes in France.
He said: "I thought it can't be true. It was just sitting there as I scraped back the soil, shining, as if someone had just dropped it."
Archaeologists said the image of Nero dated it to AD 64-65 and added it would equate to more than half a year's salary for a serving soldier.
It was found in Vindolanda's 4th Century level and so would have been lost about 300 years after it was made.
To read the complete article, see: Vindolanda dig unearths rare Roman gold coin (www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-tyne-27917883)
David Pickup forwarded this item from the Royal Mint about the new coin for Prince George. Thanks. -Editor
As the nation prepares to celebrate His Royal Highness, Prince George of Cambridge’s first birthday, The Royal Mint announces that in honour of the future monarch they will be striking a commemorative sterling silver £5 coin bearing the heraldic Royal Arms design.
This is the first time that new United Kingdom coins have been produced to mark the first birthday of a member of the Royal family. The design of the coins has been approved by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Her Majesty the Queen and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and will be restricted to a limited mintage of just 7,500 coins.
The coin’s Royal Arms design was originally created for Prince George’s great-grandmother, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, when it was approved for use on £5 coins to be struck during her reign. The design echoes heraldic elements that have been seen on coinage for more than 300 years, but has only actually featured once on coinage since the Queen’s Coronation in 1953, on a £5 coin struck for the British Exhibition in New York in 1960.
For the birth of Prince George on 22 July 2013 The Royal Mint struck a limited number of 10,000 official UK sterling silver £5 coins to mark the occasion, which were so popular that they sold out within days. This heraldic-themed £5 coin minted in honour of his first birthday is expected to be equally sought-after.
Shane Bissett, Director of Commemorative Coin and Bullion at The Royal Mint said: “As Prince George of Cambridge reaches the significant milestone of turning one year old, we felt there could be no more fitting design to mark the first birthday of our future king than the Royal Arms - the arms of the monarch, minted in honour of the future heir to the throne.
The choice of the design, which was used in 1960, is an interesting one since it has little to do with babies or the Prince. I suppose it is difficult to successfully portray a baby on a coin. The Royal Mint seems to be re-using a number of old designs from the beginning of the reign, e.g. Ironside 50 pence, and first (Gillick) portrait of the queen.
To read the complete article, see: The Royal Mint Mints a First Birthday Coin for a Royal Baby (www.royalmint.com/aboutus/news/prince-george-first-birthday)
Gloucester's City Museum has made a loan to the Royal Mint Museum in Wales of a coin die that had somehow found its way out of the mint and was discovered in that city in the 1930s. Here's an article from the BBC News. -Editor
A rare coin die has been lent by Gloucester's City Museum to the Royal Mint Museum in south Wales for scientific research.
The metal punch turns blank discs into coins and was one of nine found hidden in a solicitors office in Brunswick Road, Gloucester in the 1930s.
The museum is one of the few places outside the Royal Mint to possess any.
The Royal Mint is studying the processes and materials used in coin making in the 18th and 19th Centuries.
A museum spokesman said it was not known how the dies came to be hidden in the solicitors office because "to avoid forgery they are not supposed to exist outside of the Royal Mint itself".
The metal punches date from the reign of George II and would have been used to make pennies, halfpennies and farthings.
They were donated to the museum after they were discovered.
To read the complete article, see: Rare coin die lent to Royal Mint by Gloucester City Museum (www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-27937762)
Ken Conaway has an interesting timeline of Mint Of The United States At San Francisco silver ingots in his Silver Ingot blog this week. I like the graphic, which can be seen in larger form by clicking on it on his site. Clicking on the copy below will take you to a larger one on our E-Sylum Flickr archive. -Editor
The timeline below represents a work in progress and as always, any additional information is welcomed. The years included represent those that I have solid information to present or photos of dated ingots.
1935: In the M.H. Bolender, Orangeville, Illinois, 100th Auction Sale Catalog dated November 30, 1935 there are two "San Francisco Mint Silver Bars" listed. There are no photos or plates but the listed fineness of 999.75 is unique to only one early series. The photo in the timeline is from my collection, #85, the lowest number that I have seen to date in this Type I oval, large font, curved stem nine series.
1939: On June 21, 1939, the American Numismatic Society records a donation from the collection of David Bullowa; Type I oval, large font, curved stem nines #1159.
1942: From my collection, Type I oval, small font, ingots #992 and #993 with associated Mint records as follows; United States Mint At San Francisco Bullion Deposit - Memo Report dated December 22, 1942 and U.S. Mint Service Form 716 - Bar Delivery Memorandum dated December 28, 1942.
1952: Type II oval, #1, 63.87 ozs, dated 1952 on obverse. (NOTE: this it the earliest date that we see the Type II oval hallmark)
1954: Type II oval, #477 26.32 ozs, dated 1954 on reverse.
1955: Type II oval, #1738 25.75 ozs, dated 1955 on reverse and accompanying packaging materials from Oliver James in San Francisco dated May 8, 1955.
1956: Type II oval, #1272 22.78 ozs, dated 1956 with round dated hallmark on reverse.
1958: Type II oval, #1032 24.65 ozs and round dated hallmark #1033 24.06 ozs on the very same U.S. Mint Service Bar Delivery receipt dated January 30, 1958.
1959: Round dated hallmark, 1959, #1272 24.12 ozs.
1960: Round dated hallmark, 1960, stamped LAST INGOT CAST on obverse.
To read the complete article, see: Mint Of The United States At San Francisco Ingots - Timeline (silveringot.blogspot.com/2014/06/mint-of-united-states-at-san-francisco.html)
Greg Ruby reports that an organizational meeting for a Sherlock Holmes numismatic group has been scheduled - see his note below for time and place. Jolly good - another mystery laid to rest. Good luck, Sherlockians! -Editor
We will have a meeting on Saturday, August 9 from 11A-12N in room 40 of the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont, Illinois. This meeting will take place during the American Numismatic Association’s World Fair of Money. ANA members can attend the convention for free and non-ANA members have a daily $6 rate. However, if you only wish to attend our meeting, please head directly to our meeting room and you do not have register for the show.
There is a CONECA general membership meeting in the room before us and is scheduled to end at 10:30A. Due to schedule demands on myself and a few of the other interested attendees, we really need to end our meeting by 12 noon.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: SHERLOCKIAN NUMISMATISTS CLUB PROPOSED (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v17n15a15.html)
The Western Pennsylvania Numismatic Society joined the American Numismatic Association in June 1914. WPNS will be honored for their 100 years of membership at the association's banquet at the ANA's World's Fair of Money in August.
Founded in 1878, the Pittsburgh-based organization was my first coin club, and it's still going strong. Member Pat McBride is assembling a non-competitive exhibit for the convention, and included are some of the society's medals. Pat provided the following images of a couple of them. -Editor
1879 WPNS medal, white metal
1928 WPNS medal, silver
QUICK QUIZ: Who were the medals' designers?
Presidential Coin & Antique Co., Inc.'s Auction Eighty-Four of Tokens, Medals and Political items closes June 30, 2014. Hardcopies $6 - contact Joe Levine at Jlevine968@aol.com or view the catalog online here .
Hard Times Tokens, 19th Century Storecard Tokens, Civil War Tokens, Military & Related, So-Called Dollars, Presidential & Political, World's Fairs & Expositions, U.S. Mint Medals, ANS Medals, Foreign Tokens and Medals, and MORE!
Dave Bowers forwarded this Economist article touching on the subject of how books just might survive after all in this age of electronic disruption. Thanks! Here's an excerpt. -Editor
KARL MARX’S adage about all that is solid melting into air has never seemed more apposite: even staid businesses such as law firms and universities are threatened by technology-cum-globalisation. But look at the air more closely and you can see some strange objects floating around: Swiss watches, Montblanc fountain pens, Harris Tweed jackets, Folio Society books and old-fashioned sailing boats. Management gurus may tell people to bow down before the great god of disruptive innovation. But some companies are cheerfully doing the opposite—preserving or resuscitating traditional technologies and business models.
Ryan Raffaelli, of Harvard Business School, has examined these examples of “re-emergent technologies” in detail. The most striking example is the Swiss mechanical-watch industry. In the 1970s it was almost washed away by a tide of cheaper and more accurate digital watches. Today the industry is more successful than ever, providing the country’s largest source of exports after pharmaceuticals and machinery, and the engine of its revival is the old-fashioned wind-up watch.
There are plenty of other examples of re-emergent technologies. Sales of fountain pens collapsed in the 1950s with the arrival of cheap ballpoints; since the mid-1970s they have enjoyed a steady revival. Trams looked destined to become nothing more than tourist attractions in proudly quaint cities such as San Francisco and New Orleans (where you can still take a Streetcar Named Desire). But 30 American cities have either installed new tram systems or have plans to do so. They are even coming to two cities which did their best to bury them in the early 20th century, Detroit and Los Angeles. Sales of vinyl LPs in the United States have increased from almost nothing in 1993 to more than 6m in 2013. The number of independent bookshops is rising for the first time in decades.
How do businesses go about reviving old technologies in the face of so much innovation? Mr Raffaelli argues that the key to success lies in redefining the product’s value and meaning. Swiss watchmakers redefined their products as status goods rather than a means of telling the time. That they are so much harder to make than digital watches added immeasurably to their desirability. Independent booksellers are redefining themselves as communities where people who care about books meet and socialise. Trams are re-emerging as a green solution to both pollution and urban sprawl: a striking number of the cities that are adopting them are formless sunbelt cities.
This redefinition demands a careful balance between tradition and change. Revival businesses often need to cultivate a close relationship with their craftsmen and customers, who may see themselves as guardians of a great tradition rather than mere employees or consumers. The Swiss watch industry arguably survived only because collectors kept paying record prices for watches at auctions and skilled craftsmen refused to abandon the old ways: when Zenith decided to throw away its mechanical watchmaking moulds at the height of what Swiss refer to as “the quartz crisis”, one old-timer decided to store them in a shed instead, wheeling them out once again when the luxury market took off.
People do not just buy something because it provides the most efficient solution to a problem. They buy it because it provides aesthetic satisfaction—a beautiful book, for example, or a perfectly made shirt—or because it makes them feel good about themselves. This suggests a paradox: the more that disruptive innovations like the internet boost the overall productivity of the economy, the more room there will be for old-fashioned industries that focus on quality rather than quantity and heritage rather than novelty. Sometimes the best way forward is backwards.
To read the complete article, see: Second wind: Some traditional businesses are thriving in an age of disruptive innovation (www.economist.com/news/business/21604156-some-traditional-businesses-are-thriving-age-disruptive-innovation-second-wind)
John Sallay forwarded this article from Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Technology Review magazine about the school foundry's casting of medals of the MIT seal, written by Materials Science professor Michael Tarkanian. -Editor
DMSE professor Krystyn Van Vliet came up with the idea of casting medallions for commencement when she was a graduate student in 2001. At first, grad students made all of them. Although I now lead and organize the process, it has evolved into a joint—and, I’d like to think, community-building—effort involving teaching staff and undergraduates as well.
During IAP, I start gathering students willing to donate their time and begin training them in the steps of what’s known as investment (or lost-wax) casting. First we produce and assemble wax copies of the MIT seal, made from a silicone rubber mold of an original medallion. Then we coat these assemblies with ceramic mold material, burn out the wax, and pour molten metal into the cavity left behind. Finally, the students finish the castings—cutting, grinding, polishing, and applying chemical patinas. The allure of molten metal is hard to resist, so the pouring is always the big draw.
We cast the medallions in silicon bronze (4 percent silicon, 1 percent manganese, and 95 percent copper by weight) and pour at about 1,100 °C. But while any metal pour is a spectacle, that’s the easy part. It’s the finishing work that really differentiates a great foundry from a good one. People new to metal casting are always surprised that there’s more work to be done after the metal has been poured than before. I estimate that each medallion requires more than one hour of work, all told.
To keep the free labor flowing, I try to make the medallion-making sessions fun—students come and go as they wish, we listen to the radio, and we try to keep things lighthearted. Sometimes I have more help than I know what to do with, and sometimes it’s just a student or two. That’s fine with me, because I am happy to be exposing students to the foundry and getting them some hands-on experience. Although each handmade medallion winds up having its own quirks and merits, teaching students the process is more important than the end product.
I believe all graduates of a materials science program should get to try metal casting. It is one of the foundational elements of our field and a critical technology in the history of human civilization. It makes so many fundamental principles of science and engineering clear, immediate, and tangible. And with materials science curricula and American industry evolving away from metallurgy, our medallion-making project might be many students’ only chance to see molten metal in person.
To read the complete article, see: A Labor of Love (www.technologyreview.com/article/526246/a-labor-of-love/)
In a publicity stunt designed to raise awareness of the firm's contribution to the local economy, a Nebraska firm has paid employee bonuses in $2 bills, encouraging them to spend them around town. Thanks to Len Augsburger for passing this along. -Editor
In a move intended to boost spending in the central Nebraska city of Grand Island, ammunition company Hornady Manufacturing has issued employee cash bonuses in the form of $2 bills, with a request from management to spend the money in town.
The company recently handed out $61,000 worth of $2 bills to its employees as part of the company's annual bonus pay, company vice president Jason Hornady told the Grand Island Independent.
Getting his hands on 30,500 $2 bills takes some doing, Hornady said. He orders the bills from a bank about a month in advance.
Hornady Manufacturing is one of Grand Island's leading employers with more than 300 people on its payroll.
Hornady said the pay envelope with the $2 bills is just part of employees' bonus pay.
"They also receive a nice check and a deposit into their 401(k)s," he said. "But we ask them with the $2 bills to go spend it around town and make sure people know that we, as a family — meaning the whole employer/employee base — support Grand Island, and we spend money here."
The $61,000 in cash bonuses is a 27 percent increase from last year's $48,000 in cash bonuses — also distributed in $2 bills.
To read the complete article, see: Nebraska ammunition company gives employees bonuses in $2 bills, tells them to spend in town (www.therepublic.com/view/story/9d14df9176dd463287be020f8ab80e75/NE--2-Bill-Bonuses)
While I don't condone harming books in any way, shape or form, this is an interesting way to recycle old books into artwork. -Editor
Sculptor Long-Bin Chen creates art out of recycled books and magazines; his current show, at Charleston's Halsey, features a series of pieces that appear to be solid sculptures, but which are actually carved stacks of books, painted and surfaced on one side. He has recently completed a set of enormous Buddha heads carved from stacks of phone books.
To read the complete article, see: Stone busts carved from stacked books (boingboing.net/2014/06/19/stone-busts-carved-from-stacke.html)
Images are still needed for a number of sales, including:
Who can help?