The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 4, Number 17, April 22, 2001: 
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society. 
Copyright (c) 2001, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society. 


   We have one new subscriber this week:  numismatic 
   researcher and author Neil Shafer. Welcome aboard! 
   Our subscriber count is now 372. 


   Bill Rosenblum writes: "I've been so busy writing my own 
   auction catalog the past few months that I haven't had a 
   chance to look at my E-Sylums.  Hopefully I can catch up on 
   my reading in the next week or so.  However, I glanced at 
   this week's issue and wanted to add a little more about Dan 

   In addition to all that you wrote about him, he is also an all 
   around good guy and an example of what good people so 
   many numismatists and no doubt NBS'ers truly are.  I 
   personally met Dan for the first time at the ANA early spring 
   (or midwinter?) convention in Cleveland in 1997. We spoke 
   for a few minutes and I mentioned to him that my son was 
   hoping to move to Ann Arbor to go to grad school there. 
   Dan said, well have him call me when he gets there or if he 
   needs some information etc. Well, he did a lot more than that. 

   When my son was ready to move to Ann Arbor, Dan put 
   him up for two weeks until Brian was able to locate an 
   apartment for himself and his wife and than 5 month old son." 


   John and Nancy Wilson report: "Dear E-Sylum readers: We 
   receive updates on new search engines and it appears that the 
   translation site babelfish has been updated.  It is great for 
   translating languages." 


   The "Great Debate" over the authenticity of a number of 
   Western gold assay bars, discussed in depth in earlier 
   E-Sylum issues, lives on in legal proceedings.  As 
   reported in The April 1, 2001 issue (v4#14), a libel 
   suit filed in New York against Prof. Theodore V. Buttrey 
   by Stack's LLC and John Jay Ford, Jr. was dismissed by 
   the court in December 2000 for lack of jurisdiction. 

   In the latest development, reported by David L. Ganz in 
   his "Under the Glass" column in the April 24, 2001 issue 
   of Numismatic News (p28-29), the plaintiffs have refiled 
   their complaint in the Northern District of Illinois, where 
   the remarks in question were made at a forum at the 
   American Numismatic Association convention in August 

   Ganz reported: "Reached in England, Buttrey remarked 
   on the dismissal and refiling: "The plaintiffs have now 
   reopened their case in Illinois, where I spoke on the bars 
   at the 1999 ANA meeting.  While that is proceeding I 
   continue to work on this material and am preparing a 
   set of essays on various aspects of the Western gold 
   bars, which I believe to be fraudulent." 


   Michael E. Marotta writes: "I bought the catalog for the 
   Bowers & Ruddy sale of the collection of James A. 
   Doolittle.  Not only was he not the aviator, he was not even 
   Eliza's dad. 

   Nice collection, though, and nice snapshots of Carol 
   Burnett and Henry Fonda. My experience is that aviating 
   and collecting are two different mindsets.  In my case, 
   they overlap. I have met other numismatists who fly. 
   I have never met any fliers who also collect.  Do any 
   E-Sylum readers know of auctions the numismatic (or 
   philatelic) collections of aviators?" 


   Paul Hybert reports that a web page containing the results 
   of Louis Jordan's research on John Hull (as discussed in his 
   recent Chicago Coin Club talk) is now available.  The title of 
   the work is "Studies on John Hull, the Mint and the Economics 
   of Massachusetts Coinage"  From the page summary: 

   "The following studies are grouped by topics into four parts. 
   Part one focuses on the Hull and Sanderson homesteads and 
   the exact location of the mint. It begins with a discussion 
   of the Hull family and homestead and continues with an 
   investigation of Hull's shop and its relationship to the mint, 
   followed by a brief study on the Sanderson homestead. The 
   section continues with a discussion, transcription and 
   commentary on the mint and goldsmith shop entries in the 
   surviving portion of John Hull's personal ledger and then 
   concludes with a brief notice on the various Massachusetts 
   Bay colonists named John Hull. 

   Part two concerns production related issues at the mint. 
   The length of time taken to process mint orders is 
   addressed in an examination of turn around time at the mint 
   as reflected in the orders found in the Hull ledger.  This is 
   followed by a discussion of the role Hull and Sanderson 
   may have played in coinage production and continued 
   with an investigation of other individuals that have been 
   mentioned in connection with the mint. 

   Part three deals with the economics of the mint beginning 
   with an analysis of coin weight and minting fees as 
   calculated from the information in Hull's ledger and 
   continues with an explanation of the relationship between 
   the value of British and Massachusetts silver. 

   Part four deals with the history and importance of the eight 
   reales cob coinage.  This section begins with the significance 
   of eight reales in Massachusetts Bay followed by a 
   discussion of the origin and intrinsic value of the eight reales. 
    There is also a history of the value and use of Spanish silver 
   coinage in England and a related study on Spanish silver 
   coinage in Massachusetts Bay." 


   Stephen Pradier, Tom Fort, and others all pointed out the 
   release of a new book that is a call to arms for bibliophiles, 
   researchers, and historians.  "Double Fold : Libraries and the 
   Assault on Paper"  by Nicholson Baker is "an outraged, bitterly 
   funny indictment of how our country's most august libraries have 
   systematically trashed older books and newspapers.  With a 
   few notable exceptions, the librarians we meet in the book aren't 
   the prudent, book-nuzzling custodians we'd expect to find at the 
   National Archives and major university libraries; instead, they're 
   efficiency-minded technophiles who wantonly destroyed original 
   texts and replaced them with badly filmed, unreliable facsimiles. 

   As a result, the original copies of many newspaper runs and 
   books are gapped or gone, while their microfilm replacements, 
   imperfect to begin with, are melting and yellowing.  Newer, 
   more sophisticated duplication efforts, such as digital scanning, 
   are stymied before they even start:  The microfilms are too poor 
   to copy from, and the originals have already been destroyed. 

   This is because, in the library biz, what's called "preservation" 
   is actually destructive. (If you want to talk about the literal 
   repair of books, the term is "conservation.")  To microfilm a 
   text is to ruin it: The volume is gutted like a fish so that its 
   sheaves may be easily fed into the camera, and the 
   disemboweled result is usually sold or dumped."  [from 
   commentary in the online magazine Slate:, 
   forwarded by Stephen Pradier. 

   From the Publisher: "Since the 1950s, our country’s greatest 
   libraries have, as a matter of common practice, dismantled their 
   collections of original bound newspapers and so-called brittle 
   books, replacing them with microfilmed copies.  The marketing 
   of the brittle-paper crisis and the real motives behind it are the 
   subject of this passionately argued book, in which Nicholson 
   Baker pleads the case for saving our recorded heritage in its 
   original form while telling the story of how and why our greatest 
   research libraries betrayed the public trust by auctioning off or 
   pulping irreplaceable collections.  The players include the 
   Library of Congress, the CIA, NASA, microfilm lobbyists, 
   newspaper dealers, and a colorful array of librarians and digital 
   futurists, as well as Baker himself — who eventually discovers 
   that the only way to save one important newspaper is to buy it. 
   Double Fold is an intense, brilliantly worded narrative that is 
   sure to provoke discussion and controversy." 

   Book Excerpt: "The British Library's newspaper collection 
   occupies several buildings in Colindale, north of London, near 
   a former Royal Air Force base that is now a museum of aviation. 
   On October 20, 1940, a German airplane — possibly 
   mistaking the library complex for an aircraft-manufacturing plant 
   — dropped a bomb on it.  Ten thousand volumes of Irish and 
   English papers were destroyed; fifteen thousand more were 
   damaged. Unscathed, however, was a very large foreign- 
   newspaper collection, including many American titles: thousands 
   of fifteen-pound brick-thick folios bound in marbled boards, 
   their pages stamped in red with the British Museum's crown-and- 
   lion symbol of curatorial responsibility. 

   Bombs spared the American papers, but recent managerial 
   policy has not — most were sold off in a blind auction in the fall 
   of 1999.  One of the library's treasures was a seventy-year run, 
   in about eight hundred volumes, of Joseph Pulitzer's exuberantly 
   polychromatic newspaper, the New York World.  Pulitzer 
   discovered that illustrations sold the news; in the 1890s, he 
   began printing four-color Sunday supplements and splash-panel 
   cartoons. The more maps, murder-scene diagrams, ultra-wide 
   front-page political cartoons, fashion sketches, needlepoint 
   patterns, children's puzzles, and comics that Pulitzer published, 
   the higher the World's sales climbed; by the mid-nineties, its 
   circulation was the largest of any paper in the country. William 
   Randolph Hearst moved to New York in 1895 and copied 
   Pulitzer's innovations and poached his staff, and the war 
   between the two men created modern privacy-probing, 
   muckraking, glamour-smitten journalism. A million people a 
   day once read Pulitzer's World; now an original set is a good 
   deal rarer than a Shakespeare First Folio or the Gutenberg Bible. 

   Besides the World, the British Library also possessed one of 
   the last sweeping runs of the sumptuous Chicago Tribune — 
   about 1,300 volumes,  reaching from 1888 to 1958, complete 
   with bonus four-color art supplements on heavy stock from 
   the 1890s ("This Paper is Not Complete Without the Color 
   Illustration" says the box on the masthead); extravagant layouts 
   of illustrated fiction; elaborately hand-lettered ornamental 
   headlines; and decades of page-one political cartoons by John 
   T. McCutcheon. The British Library owned, as well, an 
   enormous set of the San Francisco Chronicle (one of perhaps 
   two that are left..)." 

   [Editor's note:  This gutting of our libraries has been in full 
   swing for many years.   My interest in contemporary accounts 
   of coinage in America led me, over time,  to purchase a large 
   number of old newspapers containing such content.   I published 
   many of these in a book draft and on my web site 
   (  I naturally asked myself the 
   question, "Where are these dealers getting all this stuff?", and the 
   answer was that libraries had been deaccessioning newspapers 
   for some time, boosting a cottage industry of paper and 
   ephemera dealers who buy and remarket the papers to 

   One dealer who contacted me was remarketing a partial set 
   of London-based Gentleman's Mazagine, vol 1 (1731) to vol 71 
   (1801).   I purchased from him a set of virtually all numismatically- 

   related articles published in the magazine during those years, 
   which included several items related to American numismatics. 
   I shudder at the thought of someone dismembering a set of this 
   important journal, but a number of personal libraries were 
   enriched as a result (as was the seller, no doubt).] 


   Fortunately, some important periodicals have been preserved 
   to some extent online.  This week's featured web site is The 
   Internet Library of Early Journals, a digital library of 18th and 
   19th Century journals "An eLib (Electronic Libraries 
   Programme) Project by the Universities of Birmingham, Leeds, 
   Manchester and Oxford"  Online journals include: 

       Annual Register 
       Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine 
       Gentleman's Magazine 
       Notes and Queries 
       Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 
       The Builder 

  Wayne Homren 
  Numismatic Bibliomania Society 

Content presented in The E-Sylum is not necessarily researched or independently fact-checked, and views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the 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.  Visit the Membership page. Those wishing to become new E-Sylum subscribers (or wishing to Unsubscribe) can go to the following web page link.

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