The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 3, Number 14, April 2, 2000: 
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society. 
Copyright (c) 2000, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society. 


   We have three new subscribers this week:  Ed Deane of the 
   Harry Bass Research Foundation,  Carlo Poggi of Italy, and 
   Larry Stack of Stack's, New York (courtesy of Michael 
   Hodder).  Welcome aboard!   This brings our subscriber 
   count to 294. 


   Allan Davisson writes: "I have a question:  I assume that some 
   19th century American cataloger started using the term "Conder 
   tokens" for what Dalton and Hamer call the Provincial Token 
   Coinage of the 19th Century.  The British find the title strange 
   or amusing or both.  Since Dalton and Hamer were not published 
   until 1910 and following and Atkins was published in 1892, a 
   19th century listing referencing Conder's catalogs seems a logical 
   starting point. But I wonder where the appellation began." 


   Asylum Editor E. Tomlinson Fort writes:  "American numismatists 
   and bibliophiles, tend to be more than a bit insular.   This was 
   especially brought home to me while I was looking through some 
   early volumes of the British Numismatic Journal.  There I found a 
   couple of articles on early colonial coinage [to be specific the 
   pieces were: P. Nelson, "The Coinage of William Wood for the 
   American Colonies, 1722-1733," BNJ 1 (1904), pp.265-86 
   and H.A. Parsons, "A Cut New-England Threepence Attributed 
   to the Leeward Islands," BNJ 15 (1918-20), pp.225-7]. 

   That the British should take an interest in the American colonial 
   series is not surprising. After all, until 1783 much of what is now 
   the eastern U.S. was British territory.  Likewise, the esteemed 
   editor of The E-Sylum possesses A. Vattemare, Collection de 
   monnaies et medailles de l'Amerique du Nord de 1652 a 1858 
   (Paris, 1861) which is a catalogue of the Bibliotheque Nationale's 
   collection of American coins. This is an obvious sign that by the 
   Civil War the French were taking an interest in the coins on the 
   other side of the Atlantic. 

   What I would like to do is put together a bibliography of works 
   on American coinage published outside of the U.S. and Canada, 
   especially those in languages other than English.  I would greatly 
   appreciate it if people could e-mail me the basic information: 
   author, title, place and year of publication as well as brief 
   summary of the contents (no more than two or three sentences). 
   I hope to publish this list in The Asylum as time and space permit." 
   Tom's email address is: 


   Due to the time, expense, and copyright issues involved, 
   relatively few numismatic texts are available in their entirety on 
   the internet.  Advertisements announcing the acquisition of the 
   numismatic firm of Bowers and Merena by Collectors Universe 
   promise that "all of the Bowers and Merena catalogs and many 
   of Dave Bowers' books will eventually be available online." 

   I doubt that this means any previous catalogs would be put 
   online, but certainly future catalogs will be.  Empire Numismatics 
   was probably the first major numismatic auctioneer to discontinue 
   printed catalogs in favor of online versions.  Several other firms 
   have very complete catalogs online, but continue to produce 
   printed versions.   What does this trend mean for numismatic 
   bibliophiles?   Is the printed word doomed?  Will libraries of 
   21st century numismatics consist largely of links to web pages? 

   Although newsgroups, bulletin boards, and chat rooms have 
   been around the internet for some time, The E-Sylum was 
   among the first, if not the first, completely edited electronic 
   periodical (the key word being "edited"). 

   The only printed copies are those made individually by 
   subscribers.  The only "volumes" are the archives on the NBS 
   web site.   So is that a good thing or not?     I'm sure some 
   of you have strong opinions on the subject - let us know what 
   you think. 


   A visitor to my personal web site wrote: "I have been looking 
   for an answer as to why all of the U.S. coins have the bust 
   direction on the coins head facing one direction while President 
   Lincoln faces the opposite direction.  I have been scouring the 
   internet looking for this but I cannot find anything.  Do you 
   know the answer or at least where I can go to find out?" 
   Here was my response: 

   "Interesting question, but not one which has a definitive answer. 
   There is no law which says which direction the busts should 
   face.  Each design was conceived individually at the time of first 
   issue - there is no master plan.  The orientation of the bust is up 
   to the designers.   It is a matter of happenstance that the busts 
   are facing the way they are. 

   The Lincoln cent was introduced in 1909, and it was the first 
   U.S. coin to depict a President.   Next came the Washington 
   Quarter in 1932, then the Jefferson nickel in 1938, then the 
   Roosevelt Dime in 1946.  The Franklin Half Dollar came along 
   in 1948 and was later replaced by the Kennedy half in 1964. 
   Only Lincoln and Franklin face right; all the others face left. 
   Several older U.S. coin designs depict a bust of Miss Liberty. 
   In most she faces left, but there are some right-facing designs. 

   An art student might argue that a left-facing bust is generally 
   more pleasing to the eye, and this might explain why most of 
   our coin designers have chosen that orientation." 


   From the February 4, 1801 issue of the Massachusetts Spy, 
   or Worcester Gazette:  "The building appropriated to the 
   Treasury Department at ... Washington was discovered to 
   be on fire the evening of the 20th ult... through the exertions 
   of the citizens, animated by the example of the President of 
   the United States, (who on this occasion fell into the ranks 
   and aided in passing the buckets) was at length subdued." 


   By coincidence I received in the mail this week lot #156 from 
   Charles Davis' recent sale.  Dated April 2, 1874, it is a 
   "Circular to Collectors"  from J. Colvin Randall and John W. 
   Haseltine describing their efforts to strike copies of Lovett's 
   1861 Confederate Cent from the original dies obtained from 
   the engraver.    Most of what is known today about these 
   restrikes can be traced to this interesting piece of 
   numismatic ephemera. 


   So who else has a new acquisition they'd like to share with 
   our readership?  A regular feature of The E-Sylum is a 
   forum for readers to discuss new additions to their libraries. 
   Please consider taking a moment to tell us if you've recently 
   acquired an interesting or useful item of numismatic literature. 


   From the caption on a photo accompanying a Michael 
   Marotta article on the Fort Lauderdale ANA Convention, 
   COIN World, March 27, 2000:  "Crowds visiting the 
   Mint's large four-booth installation asked about the State 
   quarters and Sacagawea dollars, while taking away 
   promotional items such as rubber lemons." 


   This week's featured web page is the ANS coin quiz. 
   American Numismatic Society web manager Sebastian Heath 
   has set up an interesting guessing game, which numismatists 
   should find both amusing and educational.  It draws on the 
   Society's archive of computerized images. 

   "This first version is pretty simple... Choose one or more 
   departments, click "Try me..." and a new window will appear 
   showing only the picture, material, weight, and measurements for 
   a particular coin. (Actually, that information will only appear if 
   known). Look at the coin (or medal, etc.), try and identify it, and 
   then click "Show Full Info" to see how you did. 

   I put this together as a small digression while thinking more 
   seriously about the structure and content of our database." 
   To reach the quiz, go to the "Collections" heading on the front 
   page of the ANS web site and choose the "Coin Quiz" link. 

  Wayne Homren 
  Numismatic Bibliomania Society 

  The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a 
  non-profit organization promoting numismatic 
  literature.   For more information please see 
  our web site at 
  There is a membership application available on 
  the web site.  To join, print the application and 
  return it with your check to the address printed 
  on the application.   For those without web access, 
  contact Dave Hirt, NBS Secretary-Treasurer, 
  5911 Quinn Orchard Road, Frederick, MD 21704 

  (To be removed from this mailing list 
   write to me at   

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