The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 3, Number 38, September 17, 2000: 
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society. 
Copyright (c) 2000, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society. 


   We have three new subscribers this week:  George Dunn 
   of Canada,  Ken Hill, courtesy of NBS Vice President 
   Tom Sheehan, and Reid Goldsborough, who writes: "I've 
   been reading back issues at your Web site and am impressed." 
   Welcome aboard!    This brings our subscriber count to 339. 


   Nolan Mims writes: "I enjoyed reading the flashback to the 
   first E-Sylum in last weeks issue. Is it possible to obtain a disc 
   with the back issues of the E-Sylum?  I joined in March of 
   2000 and wish I had known about it sooner. It would be cool 
   to read all the issues if they are available." 

   As Mr. Goldsborough discovered, all back issues of The 
   E-Sylum are archived on the NBS web site.   Go to, then click on "E-Sylum Archive". 
   There is no index, but there is a search feature - just click on 
   "Search".   Enjoy! 


   One potential Asylum author wrote: "Please tell me 
   approximately how many words you want, and any other 
   guidelines you may have." 

   Our response:  "Guidelines?!?  We have no stinkin' 

   We'll publish as much or as little as you care to write. 
   Electronic format preferred (Mac is best, PC is fine), 
   but we'll take crayon on construction paper if it's about 
   numismatic literature...." 

   Seriously, we're very flexible about submissions for 
   both The E-Sylum and our print journal, The Asylum. 
   Length is a consideration, but we have no hard and 
   fast rules. Your submission may be edited for content 
   or to fit the available space.  While long submissions 
   are inappropriate for The E-Sylum, even short Letters 
   to the Editor or "filler" items are acceptable for The 
   Asylum.  See the next Asylum for more details. 


   The next numismatic literature auction by George Frederick 
   Kolbe will be a general interest sale scheduled to take place 
   on December 2, 2000. 

   In March 2001 the firm will conduct the final sale of works 
   from the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Numismatic Library, mostly 
   comprising duplicates.   For more information, contact 
   George at this address: 


   In response to Tom Fort's request for books which had 
   "published scorn ... poured on them within a year or two 
   after they were printed"  brought this response from Dave 

   "The first example that comes to mind with respect to American 
   numismatics is Robert P. Hilt's "Die Varieties of Early United 
   States Coins." I bought this book as soon as it was published 
   in 1980. Good books were few and far between back then, 
   and I was quite excited at this new development. While the 
   plates were impressive for the time, I was puzzled from the 
   outset by his radical "die group theory of coinage."   It seemed 
   downright wacky at the time, and it still does. 

   I don't remember seeing any contemporary reviews of this 
   book, though Walter Breen alternately quoted and contradicted 
   Hilt throughout his 1988 encyclopedia.  To my knowledge, no 
   other numismatic researcher/writer has even acknowledged 
   Hilt's work, and it's almost unknown to the current generation 
   of hobbyists. 

   This book was just the first in a planned series, but the 
   succeeding volumes never appeared.  I still keep this book on 
   my reference shelf here at NGC, but I simply never use it. 
   Hilt's book remains a curiosity, and I know nothing about the 
   man himself. Perhaps someone can fill in the blanks.  Hilt 
   seems to be the A. W. Browning of the 1980s. 

   I can think of half a dozen other recent books on United States 
   coins that were filled with erroneous and sometimes comical 
   conclusions, yet each received favorable reviews in the 
   numismatic press. Either these reviewers are loathe to write 
   negatively about the hobby or they simply don't know enough 
   to recognize nonsense when they see it." 

   Tom Fort adds: "First I would like to thank all of those who 
   have emailed me regarding the posting in the last E-sylum. 
   However, from some of the notes I should have made 
   something more clear.  The disasters I am looking for must 
   have published reviews which call them this.  There are 
   numerous works out there which I may personally feel to be 
   flawed or awful, but reviewer(s) in journals, magazines or 
   newspapers must say this in print. 

   Contrary to what may be popular opinion, bad reviews are 
   not always easy to write since they can bring lots of trouble 
   upon the reviewer.  I will give a case in point.  A former 
   university colleague of mine (whom I shall refer to as 'Ed' to 
   protect the innocent), who specialized in the history of Central 
   America,  but who had minored in medieval studies, told me 
   the story of one book which he reviewed on the religious 
   history of Honduras. 

   The book was originally a Ph.D. thesis.  In the work, the 
   author found numerous references in his research to a 
   St. Dominic and spent a whole chapter discussing who 
   this person might be.  Eventually he decided these references 
   were to a very obscure saint who was active as a missionary 
   in Guatemala in the 16th century. Because of the obscurity of 
   this man, the author could not understand why there were so 
   many dedications and references to him. 

   Of course, as Ed noted in his review the author was completely 
   wrong.  The St. Dominic was the great monastic reformer and 
   writer of the 13th century - one of the most important figures in 
   the Middle Ages and this Ph.D. had obviously never heard of 
   him.  How, Ed asked, could this man's supervisor, history 
   department, external reviewer,  Ph.D. committee, and the 
   publisher's editor(s) approve this work? 

   The editor of the journal where the review was to appear wrote 
   Ed and asked was he sure that he wanted the review to run. 
   Ed thought about it and realized that this lengthy bad review was 
   bound to offend a lot of people and that they, and their friends, 
   would probably be gunning for him when his next book came out. 
   Thus, he changed his lengthy passage about the St. Dominic error 
   to a quick sentence. 

   The truth behind this story can easily be seen in the acrimony 
   over the Andrews work on Henry I's coinage.  Most of his friends 
   broke with the Royal Numismatic Society and formed the British 
   Numismatic Society, made Andrews the editor of the British 
   Numismatic Journal and later he became president of the Society. 

   (As a footnote it should be pointed out that Andrews' scholarship 
   did not improve.  The BNJ serialized a work by him on the 
   coinage of King Stephen that is almost as bad as his work on 
   Henry I). 

   But there can be serious consequences to both the reviewer who 
   pans a major work and to the publisher of that review.  At times 
   such bad reviews can mean that the reviewer knows that he is 
   making enemies who may try to take literary or professional 


   Terry Trantow writes: "I have been a collector of Australian/ 
   New Zealand coins and tokens since 1962, and just obtained 
   a copy of the year 2000 (19th edition) of 'RENNIKS Australian 
   Coin & Banknote Values'. While it is unfortunate the catalog 
   does not include New Zealand and Tasmanian tokens (as it did 
   in the past), it also does not include Andrews Numbers (used 
   since c.1921 or so) in this new edition.  [Editor's note: 
   Trantow refers to a different Andrews than the subject of the 
   "Devastating Reviews" piece.] 

   A fellow Australian collector relates to me the reason that 
   Andrews numbers were not included was due to restrictions 
   by an American holder of  their copyrighted use, about which I 
   know nothing.  The unfortunate outcome of this situation is that 
   there are now four different catalog numbers (Andrews,Heyde, 
   Renniks, and the NEW Renniks numbers issued for the 
   Australian trade tokens.  The Australian Numismatic Society 
   (ANS) has published a listing of the various old/new catalog 
   numbers of each variety, but there remain some problems when 
   an individual piece is given an incorrect catalog number. Any 
   information a reader or member can offer as to the rights for the 
   Andrews numbers will be welcomed." 


   David Fanning writes: "I'm trying to gather together some info 
   on Ed. Frossard, the nineteenth-century American coin dealer. 
   George Kolbe gave me some info, but I don't have access to 
   the necessary volumes and I was wondering if someone out 
   there can help. 

   I need to find his obituary.  It ran in the April 1899 issue of the 
   AJN and, I believe, the issue of The Numismatist of the same 
   month.  If anyone would have a copy of either and would be 
   willing to look up the info I need, I'd appreciate it greatly if 
   they would respond to me.  Thanks." 

   Your editor had technical difficulties reaching his AJN shelf. 
   There are currently boxes of books piled six high in front of it, 
   and technically, that's a problem.   But balancing on one leg 
   was enough to retrieve the 1899 volume of The Numismatist. 
   A photocopy will be forwarded to Mr. Fanning. 
   If you have the desired AJN issue, or other information on 
   Ed Frossard, please contact him at this email address: 


   Henry Bergos writes: "If we are gong to list non-numismatic 
   book stores, Strand cannot be left out.  Many of my books 
   are from there and when I dealt, some of my merchandise 
   was from there.  I used to get Breens there for $45 each. 
   It is on 4 Ave and 12 St. and on the net. When you come 
   UPSTAIRS.  The only word of caution: come AFTER my 
   next visit...." 

   [Editor's note: Brooklyn-based Bergos is referring to Strand 
   Books, 828 Broadway at 12th.  One review from the web: 
   "With over two million new and used books and eight miles 
   of shelves, the Strand is the institution New York bibliophiles 
   love to hate and hate to love. 

   Visiting the Strand for the first -- or the thousandth -- time is 
   overwhelming. The towering stacks of nebulously organized 
   books hold treasures you never knew you desired. The 
   narrow, labyrinthine aisles are crowded with piles of not-yet- 
   shelved volumes and fellow booklovers to stumble over.  In 
   the summer, the lack of air conditioning makes you so delirious 
   that you will actually buy that completely unaffordable first 
   edition."  (from] 


   Andrew Pollock reported the following on the C4 (Colonial 
   Coin Collector's Club mailing list: "I stumbled across the 
   following paragraph in Sibley's Harvard Graduates, Volume 
   X, under the biographical sketch of Andrew Eliot (Class of 

   "Eliot [third minister of the New North Church of Boston] 
   was sincerely interested in history.  He rescued old coins 
   from silversmiths and sent them to the collectors among his 
   English friends. He remarked that pine-tree shillings of several 
   dies were still common, but that he had only seen one New 
   England sixpence in his life." 

   The date of his numismatic interest is not mentioned but his 
   death is said to have occurred in 1778. 

   Shipton, Clifford K. "Biographical Sketches of Those Who 
   Attended Harvard College in the Classes 1736-1740, with 
   Bibliographical and Other Notes." Volume X. Boston, Mass. 
   Massachusetts Historical Society. 1958." 

   Your Editor's web search for Andrew Eliot turned up a 
   reference to the E-Sylum archive, where Eliot was mentioned 
   in the Vol 1, No 5. issue (October 14, 1998).  Joel Orosz 
   had mentioned Eliot at a talk to the Chicago Coin Club. 

   After forwarding Pollack's information to Joel, he replied: 
   "I've never written anything about Elliot, only spoke about him, 
   as you note, to the Chicago Coin Club.  It was Eric Newman 
   who first discovered that Elliot was a coin collector.  He wrote 
   about Rev. Elliot in "The Secret of the Good Samaritan Shilling", 
   if memory serves.  This is a great find on Pollock's part - it adds 
   an important fact to our knowledge about 18th century U.S. 
   numismatics- that the NE Sixpence was exceedingly rare even 
   then.  Elliot did die in 1778.   Thanks for sending Andy my way 
   - this is great stuff!" 


   Dan Friedus, in his September 25, 2000 Coin World column, 
   (p70) discusses nature printing on colonial American currency. 
   A quick search on the topic at the Library of Congress 
   ( turned up two books related to nature 

      Bradbury, Henry [Riley], 1831-1860. 
      Nature-printing: its origin and objects. 
      London, Bradbury and Evans, 1856. 
      28 p. 28 x 22 cm. 

      Bethmann, Laura Donnelly, Nature printing 
      with herbs, fruits & flowers /  Laura Donnelly 
      Bethmann. Pownal, Vt. : Storey Pub., 
      c1996. v, 90 p. : col. ill. ; 27 cm. 

   Your editor seems to recall at least one other book on 
   the topic, titled "Typographica Naturalis"  But recent 
   searches have come up empty.  Can any of our readers 
   provide information on this book - does it exist? 


   This week's featured web site highlights a private collection 
   of coins, medals, paper money, and books relating to the 
   Napoleonic wars.  The site has some great illustrations, and 
   the homepage has a neat "slide show" feature for viewing 
   all the illustrations in sequence. 

  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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