The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

PREV        NEXT        V 04 2001 INDEX        E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 4, Number 30, July 22, 2001: 
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society. 
Copyright (c) 2001, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society. 


   We have one  new subscriber this week: Nicholas M. Graver 
   of Rochester, NY.   Welcome aboard!  Our subscriber count 
    is now 408. 


   Pete Smith sends this research request: "The Elgin 
   Commemorative Half Dollar was a fund raiser for the Elgin 
   Pioneer Memorial, sculpted by Trygve Rovelstad.  His 
   unfinished model in plaster-of-paris was stored in his studio 
   until his death in 1990. 

   I read a report that the monument would be completed and 
   installed along the Fox River in Elgin as part of a $4.5 million 
   riverfront improvement project.  The work was to be done 
   this summer.  I need a progress report. 

      Has Rovelstad's sculpture been cast? 
      Has it been installed? 
      Has an installation or dedication date been announced? 

   A guide to more recent articles or any update is needed 
   quickly and will be appreciated. Please respond to me 
   directly at" 


   Pete also reports that "a preliminary list of exhibits at the 
   Atlanta ANA Convention was released by exhibit chairman 
   Radford Stearns.  Four exhibits will be shown in Class 22 - 
   Numismatic Literature. 

      1.  ANA Membership - The Printed Record 
      2.  Contemporary Illustrations of the Second Philadelphia Mint 
      3.  American Banknote Company 1869 
      4.  U.S. Commemorative Coin Advertisements of 1937 

   Those attending the convention should set aside time to view 
   these and the other exhibits.  The exhibit area is also a gathering 
   place for the exhibitors and judges.   These are some of the 
   most knowledgeable people in the hobby and most are happy 
   to discuss their areas of interest with convention visitors." 


   Dr. Ann M. Early writes:  "While searching for some 
   information I came across your numismatic website.  I am 
   the Arkansas State Archeologist, and I am trying to find an 
   auction catalog for a sale in February 1890.   The company 
   was Bangs and Co., and in your current e-publication there 
   is a note from a Charles Horning who said that he was a 
   collector of Bangs and Co. catalogs. 

   I am looking for the auction of a large book collection in 
   hopes of tracing the whereabouts of an 18th century journal 
   that was in the possession of James Carl Brevoort in the mid 
  19th century.  The title of the catalog is  "A Collection of rare 
   Americana, including the remainder of the notable library of 
   James Carson Brevoort of Brooklyn, NY."  Sale date was 
   Feb 25 through Feb 28, 1890.  Auctioneers are listed as 
   Bangs,  New York.  I would like to locate this catalog so 
   that I can see if the journal (and any accompanying documents 
   that I may not be aware of) was sold at this time.  Best of all 
   would be, if the journal was sold, if I could discover the 

   This journal, in French, describes an expedition by French 
   colonial forces and Indian allies against the Chickasaw Indians 
   in 1739 and 1740.  I am trying to locate an archeological site 
   in Arkansas that was one component of this expedition, and I 
   am searching for contemporary documents that might help me 
   re-locate the now lost site." 

   [Editor's note - my reply follows:  "Dear Dr. Early: 
   The 1890 sale you seek is not known to have numismatic 
   content; collectors of numismatic literature are not likely to 
   have a copy, but it is possible.  I have forwarded your note 
   as requested and will also publish a request in the next issue 
   of our publication.   Also, there are two known Brevoort 
   numismatic sales, both by dealer Thomas Elder: the 11/5/1925 
   sale of the J. Carleton Brevoort collection, and the 6/19/1934 
   sale of the Robert Brevoort collection."] 


   Darryl Atchison writes: "Here is a rather sketchy query 
   based upon some skimpy details sent to me by Bob Graham 
   (a paper money enthusiast) in Ontario. 

  There was apparently a text written sometimes in the 1890s 
  called "Memoirs of a Great Detective" which featured 
   numerous articles on counterfeiting operations including 
   illustrations of a number of defaced printing plates which 
   had been used to counterfeit notes issued by several 
   Canadian chartered banks (including the Dominion Bank, 
   Ontario Bank,  Canadian Bank of Commerce and the Bank 
   of British North America).  The Canadian banknotes are 
   discussed in Chapter 30,  entitled "Million Dollar Counterfeit 

   The first part of my question, is does anyone have more 
   details on this text?  I believe the author was J. Wilson 
   Murray from Bob's brief notes.  Does anyone know 
   where it was published, who published it, a more accurate 
   date, and the number of pages in the text. 

   The second part of my question is perhaps more interesting. 
   Apparently, this very text was the inspiration/basis for a 
   television series of the 1980s or 1990s.  Bob thinks that 
   the main actor was Douglas Campbell.   Does anyone know 
   the name of the series?  How many episodes were there - 
   over what time period?  And was Douglas Campbell the 
   leading actor?" 

   [Editor's notes:  from internet search engines and various 
   internet bookseller websites (primarily Alibris), I was able 
   to piece together the following information: 

   J. Wilson Murray (1840-1906)  immigrated from Scotland. 
   He became the Head of Detectives of the Canadian Southern 
   Railway and later appointed Detective of the Department of 
   Justice of the province of Ontario. His casebook was first 
   published in 1904 and has long been out of print. 

   The book is Murray's memoir of his career in law enforcement 
   in rural Ontario from 1870 to 1900, "during which time he was 
   effectively the only provincial policeman in the whole of Ontario, 
   aside from the police forces of the larger cities." 

   "During his lifetime Wilson was renowned for his innovative 
   methods of criminal investigation. He was one of the first to 
   realize the importance of footprints, to have clothing and 
   weapons chemically tested, to have autopsies routinely 
   performed on all murder victims." 

   The 1904 book was published by William Heinemann and 
   was titled "Memoirs of a Great Detective: Incidents in the 
   Life of John Wilson Murray" 

   The first Canadian Edition was published in Toronto in 1905 
   and has a fold-out of facsimile bank notes in rear. I assume 
   the 1904 edition has similar fold-out plates. 

   In 1979 Totem books published a paperback edition as a 
   tie-in to a CBS-TV Series starring Douglas Campbell.  I 
   couldn't locate any further information on the series. 

   In 1980 there was a Toronto reprint titled "Further Adventures 
   of the Great Detective. Incidents in the Life of John Wilson 
   Murray"  This is a selection from the original 1904 publication 
   with 40 additional stories. 

   As luck would have it, the text of several chapters of the 
   book, including chapter 30, is available online at the web 
   site for Gaslight, an "Internet discussion list which reviews 
   one story a week from the genres of mystery, adventure 
   and The Weird,  written between 1800 and 1919."  The site 
   is "a volunteer project under the auspices of the English 
   Department at Mount Royal College" of Calgary, Alberta, 
   Canada.  The web address and a couple excerpts follow. 

   "In the months of March, April and May in 1880," says 
   Murray, "Canada was flooded with the most dangerous 
   counterfeit bills ever put in circulation.  Banks took the 
   bogus banknotes over their own counters, and could not 
   tell they were not genuine.  Officials whose signatures were 
   forged could not tell the forged signature from the genuine. 
   Good and bad bills were laid side by side, an experts had 
   to resort to scientific methods to tell which were good and 
   which were bad.  The bills appeared all over Canada.  It is 
   known now that over $1,000,000 of them were sent out." 

   "One of the counterfeits was a United States $5 bill of the 
   Government issue of 1875. It was one of the first to be 
   discovered. It was detected in Washington by accident. 
   An expert in connection with the Treasury Department 
   happened to run across one of the new bills.  He remarked 
   that it was better work and a prettier bill than any he had 
   ever seen. The one fault was the bill was too perfect. The 
   expert took it to the Treasury Department to hunt up the 
   series of numbers, and he found the bill was a counterfeit. 
   Secret Service men were detailed at once. " 

   Ultimately Murray traced and arrested the perpetrator, 
   a man named Edwin Johnson.  "Johnson then told me the 
   whole story. He made the plates in the States.  His 
   daughters forged the signatures.  They had been trained in 
   forging or duplicating signatures since childhood.  They 
   would spend hours a day duplicating a single signature, 
   and would work at the one name for months, writing it 
   countless thousands of times.  Jessie was better on larger 
   handwriting, and Annie was better on smaller handwriting. 
   The boys were  learning to be engravers, and one or two 
   of them were so proficient that the old man spoke of them 
   with pride." ] 


   Steve Pellegrini writes: "In the immortal words of Otis Redding, 
   "You've become a habit to me, can't stop now, oh no, no no..." 
   Monday morning coffee & E-Sylum. 

   Like some of the other readers the mention of Evans book 
   about the Philadelphia Mint caught my eye as I have an 1888 
   edition of the book and have always liked this hodge-podge 
   paste up job of Evans'.  It is a very interesting little book with 
   enough choice little nuggets of contemporary Mint gossip to 
   make it worthwhile. 

   I made some very, very cursory notes about Evans which, 
   although very available, may be of interest.  [Editor's note: 
   Steve's notes covered, among other things, archives at the 
   University of Delaware which may or may not be of the 
   same George G. Evans.  We forwarded these to Pete 
   Smith and will make them available to others, but they're 
   too lengthy to publish here.] 


   Steve goes on to note: "The passing of John Davenport put 
   me in mind of  the time I asked a friend to blue-sky 
   his thoughts, opinions and memories of his many years as a 
   world-recognized authority in his numismatic specialty. 

   Knowing him well enough to know he'd never warm to 
   this idea in writing, I suggested sending along a small loaded 
   tape recorder which he just turn it on and talk to whenever 
   he felt like it. Nothing came of it. But it is an idea some 
   archivist-member could follow up on. Recording the 
   professional memoirs of some of our senior numismatist- 
   dealers who have not had the time or inclination to write 
   up their expertise. 

   So much specialized information - insight, observation and 
   experience, goes when they go. There always seems to be 
   a building project in need of building,  how about something 
   more immediate and more lasting; like the preservation of 
   at least some of the accumulated knowledge of these 
   numismatic lifetimes?" 


   The numismatic bibliography on the NBS web site, 
   edited by Larry Mitchell, has been revised.  See   The updated sections are: 

   (in Ancient Coinages) 
   24. Bactrian, Indo-Greek & Indo Scythian Kingdoms 
   28. Judaic & Biblical 
   39. Counterfeits 

   (in Medieval Coinages) 
   56. Italy 
   58. Southeastern Europe 

   (in Modern Coinages) 
   75. Israel, Turkey, Persia & The Middle East 
   88. South America 

   In addition, there are these new sections on Paper Money: 

   92. General 
   93: East Asia & Australasia 
   94: Central Asia, Eastern Europe, Baltic States & Scandinavia 
   95: England, Ireland, Scotland & The British Isles 


   John Kraljevich writes: "In line with what Ron Guth sent in 
   on humor, a coauthor of Early American Cents in 1949 was 
   "M.H. Sheldon," full name My Hands Sheldon.  In the last 
   line of the preface, Dr. Sheldon reports "Horatio and Hazard 
   Sheldon assisted with spirit" -- his two typewriters. Not sure 
   where I first heard this, but I think it was a late 80s Asylum 
   article. Funny stuff." 

   Bill Rosenblum report: "A very minor numismatic hoax... 
   Around 1980 at the height of the coin boom I needed to hire 
   someone and ended up hiring a good friend David Donald. 
   I decided to list all his numismatic memberships when I wrote 
   a press release about the hiring. 

   Among the organizations listed were all the usual suspects 
   along with PANDA. World Coin News printed the press 
   release just as I had written it. PANDA was Poker and 
   Numismatics in the Denver Area and was a loose group 
   of coin dealers and collectors who met every few weeks 
   to play poker." 

   Although no one picked up on it, the item Alan Meghrig 
   was referring to in the Breen Half book has to do with the 
   four Contributing Editors - page viii: 

      Jack 'Planchet Cutter' Collins - p16 
      Alan 'Rolling Mills' Meghrig - p16 
      Jon 'Draw Bench' Hanson - p16 
      Douglas 'Edge Marking' Winter - p18 


   In last weeks discussion of the Pennypacker sale of the Jess 
   Bauscher error coin collection we asked: "So what is (or was) 
   C.O.M.E.?  Collectors of Mint Errors, perhaps?" 

   The following answer came from Mike Bozovich, CONECA 
   Librarian.  (Combined Organizations of Numismatic Error 
   Collectors of America): 

   "C.O.M.E. was, indeed, "Collectors of Mint Errors" and was 
   the endeavor of Michael Kolman, Jr. of Federal Brand 
   Enterprises fame.  A "sometimes" journal was produced by 
   Mr. Kolman during the late 1950's - October 1956 being the 
   first number. 

   The "Mint Error Collector Bulletin" was published by 
   Kolman in one form or another until 1964.  One "issue" of 
   the Bulletin appeared as a single page in Federal Brand's 
   05/15/59 "Penn-Ohio" sale catalog.  Kolman often featured 
   long runs of mint error coins in his auctions and was an early 
   promoter of collecting such material. 

   C.O.M.E. was the first national organization devoted to 
   collecting mint errors and while it was run solely by one 
   person and lacked a board of directors, etc., it deserves its 
   place as "first". 

   The "Bulletin" is extremely difficult to find now and I despair 
   of ever completing a set.  I have seen a reference to a set 
   "bound in two volumes" that was produced by Kolman in 
   1966, although I doubt he sold very many copies. 

   It should be noted that using "Bausher/Dolan" as a reference 
   to collecting mint errors is generally a bad idea.  It is full of 
   impossible coins and basement-job fabrications.  The body 
   of knowledge in this area has greatly advanced over what it 
   was then." 


   Speaking of errors, Coin World reported this week that 
   a two-tailed U.S. quarter has been authenticated as 
   genuine.  Everything I've ever read about errors said this 
   was an impossibility, and just last week, in an emailed 
   response to a visitor to my web site, I stated flatly that any 
   such piece must be a manufactured fantasy, not a product 
   of the U.S. Mint. 

   On the COINS mailing list Tom DeLorey wrote: "The coin 
   has indeed been authenticated. The hub characteristics are 
   reportedly those of the earliest clad quarters, which places 
   it in the 1965-1974 ballpark. 

   During the so-called coin shortage of the mid-1960's, the 
   Mint pulled a lot of old coining equipment out of mothballs to 
   increase production. They even pulled an 1873 coin press out 
   of a museum to use. It is possible that some of this equipment 
   did not have standard modern die holders, and that it would 
   have been possible to place two obverse or two reverse dies 
   in one press. 
   Also, there were a lot of deliberately created errors made in 
   the San Francisco Assay Office in the 1970-1976 period, 
   that were snuck out of the Mint in the oil pans of fork lift 
   trucks.  See Appendix B of the 7th Edition of the Judd pattern 
   catalog for some of these deliberate errors.  Another one was 
   a 1970-S Proof quarter struck on a 1900 Barber quarter. I 
   am not aware that any two-tailed coins were made by the 
   same person who made the other errors, but it does seem 
   plausible that it could have been." 

   In a ripped-from-the-headlines E-Sylum exclusive, David 
   Lange of Numismatic Guaranty Corp, which certified the 
   coin, writes:  "When NGC's mint error specialist, Dave 
   Camire, showed me this coin raw,  I just glanced at it and 
   made a joke about it being another of the many magician's 
   pieces and other novelty coins we receive so frequently.  He 
   insisted I take a closer look, and that's when I realized the 
   damned thing looked real. Close inspection revealed no sign 
   of a seam, and both the coin's weight and ring were on the 
   money. Dave and I agreed that it is a genuine mint product. 

   Both reverse dies were taken from the first clad hub that was 
   used as late as 1974, but there are subtle indications that the 
   coin was made early in the clad series. The extent and manner 
   of die erosion is characteristic of quarters dated 1965-66 and 
   seen only rarely on later dates. 

   Dave Camire asked me if this could have been made at the 
   San Francisco Mint, since the other coins in the collection 
   that were identifiable by mint were all SF pieces.  SF ceased 
   coining at the end of March 1955.  Due to the nationwide coin 
   shortage of the early-mid 1960s, it was later reactivated. SF 
   started producing only planchets at first, shipping these to the 
   Denver Mint beginning in September of 1964.  SF began 
   striking dimes and quarters about a year later. It's likely that 
   both silver and clad pieces were made there simultaneously for 
   a short time. 

   Normally, the die shanks were machined in such a way that 
   they could not be mounted in the wrong position or paired to 
   make a two-headed or two-tailed coin.  My speculation is 
   that the urgency of the coin shortage prompted some short 
   cutting, among which was a neglect to build proper safeguards 
   into the die shanks.  So, while this dual-reverse quarter was 
   evidently possible from a technical standpoint, I believe that 
   the pairing of two, well-used reverse dies may have been 
   done intentionally to create an oddity.  Had the pairing 
   occurred by accident and resulted in mass production, there 
   would almost certainly more examples already known to the 


   The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is looking for volunteers 
   at the Atlanta ANA convention.  Please contact incoming NBS 
   President Pete Smith at if you are 
   willing to do any one or combination of these tasks. Thanks for 
   your help. 

   1.  Bring equipment and record the presentation by 
        Dave  Bowers at the NBS Symposium. 
   2.  Transcribe the talk by Bowers for publication in 
        The Asylum. 
   3.  Photograph the symposium and club meeting and 
        submit pictures for publication. 
   4.  Photograph the exhibits and submit photos for the 
        NBS website. 
   5.  Write an article about the convention, symposium and 
         club meeting. 
   6.  Write an article describing the exhibits and identifying 
         the winners. 
   7.   Distribute E-Sylum flyers and NBS membership forms. 


   From Dave Bowers' recent Coin World column:  "Books 
   and catalogues seem certain to endure.  For electronic media, 
   such as the Internet, the jury is out regarding permanence. 
   Often messages in electronic media are so disorganized and, 
   collectively, are so extensive that they are not saved. Witness 
   the millions of words that were exchanged among dealers on 
   the various Teletype and electronic trading media from about 
   1961 to present. I am not aware that any valuable research 
   information, or even market data, can be easily found from 
   such sources today, if indeed, they were ever archived. What 
   does survive is apt to be found in summary form in The Coin 
   Dealer Newsletter or in an article in a printed newspaper or 

   So it is with the Internet. It is too early know what, if anything, 
   will achieve permanent status from the flood of comments, 
   illustrations, coin listings, etc., that are generated hourly or even 

   by the second or minute.  In contrast, by way of illustration, I 
   imagine that the coins offered in the Bowers and Merena 
   Galleries catalogue of the Lucien LaRiviere Collection, or 
   Stack’s catalogue of the Marvin Taichert Collection, or Joe 
   Levine’s “Hard Times” Sale, or Ira and Larry Goldberg’s 
   Orlando Sale will be remembered a century hence by 
   numismatic scholars.  On the other hand, I suspect that 
   hardly any of the coins — including many rarities — offered 
   and/or sold on eBay during the entire year of 2000 will be 
   remembered at all." 

   [Editor's note:  many thanks to Dave for mentioning NBS 
   and The E-Sylum in his column; thanks also to the writers 
   and editors at Coin World and Numismatic News for their 
   regular mentions of E-Sylum issues in recent months.] 


   This week's featured web page is about the newly certified 
   two-tailed quarter, from the Numismatic Guaranty Corp. 
   web site. 

  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.

PREV        NEXT        V 04 2001 INDEX        E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

NBS Home Page    Back to top

NBS ( Web