The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

PREV        NEXT        V 04 2001 INDEX        E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 4, Number 35, August 26, 2001: 
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society. 
Copyright (c) 2001, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society. 


   We have two new subscribers this week: Richard Robinson, 
   and Mark Lighterman, President of Florida United Numismatists, 
   (thanks to John and Nancy Wilson).   Welcome aboard!   Our 
   subscriber count is now 418. 


   At the recently-concluded convention of the American 
   Numismatic Association in Atlanta, Georgia, the winning 
   exhibits in Class 22:  Numismatic Literature were: 

   First-Place - David Sklow, "ANA Membership: The Printed 

   Second-Place - David G. Provost, "US Commemorative 
         Coin Advertisements of 1937" 

   Third-Place - Pete Smith, "Contemporary Illustrations of 
         the Second Philadelphia Mint 


   Congratulations to NBS Historian and board member 
   Joel Orosz, who bagged not one, but TWO Heath Literary 
   Awards!  From the press release by the American 
   Numismatic Association: 

   "The Heath Literary Award, introduced in 1949 and named 
   for George Heath, ANA founder and the first editor of The 
   Numismatist, recognizes outstanding articles published in the 
   last year in the journal. 

   The first-place Heath Literary Award went to Joel J. Orosz 
   of Kalamazoo, Michigan, for "Gilmor and the 1804 Silver 
   Dollars," published in the June 2000 issue.  For this distinction, 
   he received an engraved silver medal, certificate and $250 
   cash prize. 

   Also presented to Orosz was the second-place award - an 
   engraved, bronze medal, a certificate and a $100 cash prize - 
   for "The Curious Case of the Collectors Kline" published in 
   the October 2000 issue." 

   In response to my congratulatory message, Orosz wrote: 
   "It really came as a shock to me, since I've never even placed 
   before--and to go 1-2 really was icing.   Now that you mention 
   it, I can't recall anyone ever winning two Heaths--although it 
   could have been done before mere kids like us were on the 

   By the way, the E-Sylum keeps getting more spectacular -- 
   but it must be eating more of your time as a result.  Hopefully, 
   you have a little more of that now that you've passed the torch 
   on to Pete." 

   [Not really, but time flies when you're having fun.  It's always 
   a pleasure to open my mailbox and find correspondence from 
   E-Sylum subscribers.  You're the stars of the show. -Editor] 


   Bob Leonard writes: "I don't think Dave Bowers is being 
   entirely fair in criticizing the "Numismatics in the Age of Grolier" 
   exhibit for ignoring American numismatic literature.  After all, 
   Jean Grolier died in 1565 -- 20 years before the first English 
   settlement in America was planted by Sir Walter Raleigh. 
   Even the Sommer Islands Hogge money was not issued until 
   over half a century after his death.  The scope of the exhibit is 
   numismatic books published during Grolier's lifetime, or very 
   shortly thereafter." 

   Asylum Editor Tom Fort agrees, noting, "The exhibit is NOT 
   ignoring American numismatic literature -- there WAS no 
   American numismatic literature during that period."   He goes 
   on to address Bowers' note about  the participation of the 
    "AMERICAN Numismatic Society."   He writes:  "The ANS 
   was not founded as the Society for the Study of American 
   Numismatics.  It is a society in the U.S. dedicated to 
   numismatics in general and its journals have accepted learned 
   works on all topics dealing with any branch of numismatics. 

   Also, I should point out that there are a number of numismatic 
   literature collectors, including myself, who are not as interested 
   in American numismatic literature as Mr. Bowers.  Frankly, 
   I would much rather see a display on the numismatic works 
   of Edward Gibbon, the Vicomte Ponton d'Amecourt or 
   Michael  Dolley than Sylvester Crosby, Ard Browning or 
   Walter Breen. Mr. Bowers would obviously disagree with me 
   since our tastes differ so much.  He is welcome to that 
   disagreement and I encourage it, variety is what makes the 
   NBS a great society. 

   A high level exhibit on American numismatic literature would 
   be a truly wonderful thing.  If those with power, money 
   (especially this) and influence in the numismatic, academic 
   and museum world can get some institution to mount one 
   you have my full support.'" 


   Richard Robinson of Melbourne, Australia writes: "I saw a 
   reference to The E-Sylum on the WINS mailing list and 
   have found reading some of the archived editions very 

   I am a collector of Ceylon (pre-independence) coins with 
   a general but real interest in all things pertaining to 


   David Fanning writes: "Well, the gang at the E-Sylum came 
   through for me with the info I needed. Please include the 
   following in next week's edition: 

   At the ANA this year, I discovered a previously unlisted 
   sale catalogued by Edouard Frossard.  The sale is numbered 
   88, but is a different sale than that listed in Adams as sale 88. 
   [United States Numismatic Literature Volume I: Nineteenth 
   Century Auction Catalogs",  John W. Adams, 1982, revised 
   2001 - Editor] 

   I have verified that the listing in Adams is not in error; thus, 
   as with Frossard's sale 103, we must come to the conclusion 
   that more than one sale was inadvertently given the same 
   number. The listing for this catalogue is as follows: 

   Sale 88 
   November 22-23, 1888 
   406 lots as listed in 404 (plus a 53a and 390*) 
   Catalogue of a Fine and Varied European Collection of 
   Genuine Antiquities, Curiosities, Etc., Comprising Old Silver 
   Jewelry, Amber Necklaces, Arms, Aquarelles, Bronzes, 
   Bohemian and Stained Glass, Beads, Costumes, Daggers, 
   Enamels, Embroideries,  Gems, Ivory Carvings, Jewelry, 
   Meerschaum Pipes, Old Delft Ware, Paper Cutters, Pistols, 
   Rugs, Reliquaries, Swords, Tapestries, etc., etc. 
   Sold at Leavitt & Co.'s rooms at 787-789 Broadway 

   As the sale is one of Frossard's non-numismatic sales, it 
   seems fitting that it would be graded C- for content. 
   Unfortunately, the sale was discovered after the publication 
   of Kolbe's revision to the Adams work and so is not 
   included in that listing. 

   Many thanks to those who answered my request for info, 
   especially the two who verified that they had the number 88 
   Adams lists." 


   In the August 13th E-Sylum (v4 #33), Granvyl G. Hulse, Jr. 
   wrote: "The International  Numismatic Commission briefly 
   tried to do something similar to what is presently being 
   considered by listing current numismatic research, but did not 
   follow through. 

   In response, Bob Leonard writes: "This is an oversight on 
   Granvyl's part, surely; perhaps he is thinking only of the volume 
   published by the ANS.  In fact, the International Numismatic 
   Commission has issued six editions of the Survey of Numismatic 
   Research,  covering 1960 through 1995 inclusive, the last update 
   being distributed at the International Numismatic Congress in 
   Berlin in 1997.  The next update is expected to be available at 
   the XIII Congresso Internacional de Numismatica in Madrid, 
   September 2003, covering research from 1996 through 2001 
   or 2002.   I have found these to be extremely useful in my 
   research in ancient and oriental coins." 


   David Yamamoto, a web site visitor, writes: "I am looking for 
   early publications, articles, auction results etc. on Hawaiian 
   coinage and patterns (official and unofficial). 

   Breen wrote a segment on Hawaiian coins and patterns in one 
   of his earlier volumes.  He mentioned a periodical that covered 
   patterns and so called "fantasy patterns".  The periodical's title 
   consisted of four letters, but off hand I don't recall what they 
   were nor what these letters represented.  Would you happen to 
   know? I think the first letter was a C." 

   [Your editor is stumped - can any of our E-Sylum readers 


   Last's week's discussion of the new Schornstein book on 
   Bryan Money raised a number of questions about the origin 
   of the theory regarding parallels to the 1890's gold and silver 
   question in L. Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz. 

   Bill Bischoff writes: "For what it's worth, I discussed with 
   Walter Breen by telephone in the early spring of 1989 the 
   possibility that he might be willing to talk at the forthcoming 
   COAC on gold, which I was then involved in organizing.  We 
   talked for at least an hour, and all the allegories you mention 
   were already part of his conceptual framework.  So, unless he 
   was in contact with Hugh Rockoff,  Breen's ideas go back to 
   "an article titled 'The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism' by 
   Henry M. Littlefield in American Quarterly 16 (Spring 1964), 
   pp. 47-58."  I don't know if Rockoff cites Breen, but it would 
   have been appropriate, since Breen's remarks were delivered 
   in the late fall of 1989, before the Rockoff book came out." 

   Mark Rabinowitz writes: "In this issue of the E-Sylum, my first 
   via regular distribution, you have a note about the Wizard of Oz 
   parallels which raises some interesting questions.  A book I just 
   finished, Peter L. Bernstein's "The Power of Gold: The History 
   of an Obsession" (which, by the way, I heartily recommend to 
   E-Sylum readers if they have not already read it), also notes the 
   parallels and cites the same Rockoff article.  In addition to the 
   Yellow Brick Road representing the Gold Standard and the 
   other parallels you mentioned, Bernstein also notes the following: 

   Land of Oz (ounce) = the east, "where gold is the favorite" 
   The cyclone which comes from the west = the movement for 
       unlimited coinage of silver 
   Dorothy = the plucky, kindhearted American who represents 
        the little people against the moguls of finance 
   Emerald City = Washington 
   The Wizard = the personification of humbug 

   Unfortunately I don't have the answers to the questions you 
   raised, but thinking about this some more, I have another 
   question: is it merely a coincidence that just a year or so after 
   the U.S. went off gold in 1971, freeing all currencies to float, 
   Elton John released the song, "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road?" 
   "Oh, I've finally decided my future lies / beyond the yellow 
   brick road." 


   Michael E. Marotta writes: "We all know that "pecu" for cow 
   is the root of "pecuniary." In fact, the German word "das Vieh" 
   (pronounced "fee") has the same entendre.  The words "yield" 
   and "gold" share a common root because gold is the color of 
   wheat when it is ripe. Merchant, meretricious, merit, marriage, 
   marine and many more share a common source concept 
   personified by Mercury.  A person of merit is often talented. 
   Before the Biblical parable of the talents, the word talent only 
   referred to a weight of metal.   In telling the story, Jesus 
   exhorted us to maximize the "talents" given to us by our Master 
   in heaven. 

   It is easy to equate "seal," "sheqel," and "siglos."  However, 
   "cash" in its two senses has two different origins.  The western 
   word for ready money is equivalent to "case."  The name of the 
   Chinese coin has a different origin entirely.  The ancient Chinese 
   use of the cowerie shell was most likely the first fiduciary 
   money. In the kanji ideograms of Japanese many "money" 
   words -- "boxing match" i.e., "prize fight" -- have this symbol 
   in their written forms, including "precious metal."   In other 
   words, the pre-existing idea of cowerie as money is a modifier 
   for metal that conveys the idea of metal as money." 


   Hadrien Rambach writes: "Jean-Baptiste GIARD wrote this in 
   an article : "La bibliothèque de Carcassonne possède un ouvrage 
   de l'abbé L. VERGUET, Photographie appliquée à la 
   numismatique.  Monnaies romaines. Monnaies consulaires et des 
   familles romaines..., Carcassonne, 1864, illustré de nombreuses 
   photographies. L'auteur [...] s'est contenté de coller directement 
   de simples photographies dans le texte." 

   (Carcassonne's library owns a book by the abbot L. VERGUET, 
   photographie appliquée à la numismatique. Monnaies romaines. 
   Monnaies consulaires et des familles romaines..., Carcassonne, 
   1864, illustrated with many photographs.  The author [...]  simply 
   glued real photographs in the text.) 

   ("Critique de la science des monnaies antiques", in "Journal des 
   Savants", juillet-septembre 1980, pp. 225-245) 

   If it is not the very first one, it is undoubtedly one of the 

   The same topic prompted Karl Moulton to write: "Although not 
   directly related to numismatics, it may be of interest to our 
   readership to know that the earliest surviving photograph ever 
   taken in America was taken from the second floor of the second 
   United States Mint building by Mr. Joseph Saxton (Mint service 

   Saxton, one of the unsung mechanical engineers at the Mint, 
   had read about Frenchman Louis Daguerre's stunning 
   photographic results in the summer of 1839 and decided to 
   try his luck, especially since he had all of the necessary materials 
   and chemicals at his disposal.  In October of 1839, Saxton 
   pointed an unknown camera device from his workshop window 
   toward the original Central High School for Boys, and the 
   Pennsylvania State Arsenal, which were located across the 
   street in Center (now Penn) Square. 

   After developing, the image was rather small and fuzzy; but, 
   nonetheless, it was a recognizable one.  This Daguerreotype 
   is housed in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and is 
   plated in the very interesting 1976 book "OLD PHILADELPHIA 
   IN EARLY PHOTOGRAPHS 1839-1914", by Robert F. 

   This volume has been a valuable addition to my reference 
   library; and yes, it  does contain pictures of the first and second 
   U.S. Mint buildings.  I might add that it really brings home the 
   daily living conditions around Philadelphia during the 19th 
   century, and it makes the remarkable craftsmanship of the 
   workers at the Mint that much more amazing." 

   Moulton adds: "As to Mr. Graver, I believe he is on the 
   wrong subject.  He should be researching people like Robert 
   Scot, William Kneass, Christian Gobrecht, James Longacre, 
   etc.  He's a natural with a name like "N. Graver" 


   Rich Kelly & Nancy Oliver write: "We wanted to thank you 
   for putting a few tidbits about our book in your recent 
   e-newsletter -- it was a very pleasant surprise. 

   We also wanted to let you know that we learned that the 
   Mayor of San Francisco, Willie Brown, recently set up a 
   task force to study uses for the Old Mint.  They will spend 
   about a year going over ways to re-open the building to 
   accommodate both commercial and educational endeavors. 
   We are very excited at the prospect of the building being 
   re-opened to the public in the near future. Articles concerning 
   the mint task force can be found in the San Francisco 
   Chronicle on Tuesday, May 22, 2001 and Thursday, 
   August 2, 2001. 

   Also, we are progressing well with our new book on Mint 
   Worker J. B. Harmstead.  We think many people will be 
   very surprised at some of the revealing information in our 
   new book.  It will not be completed until sometime next 
   year but perhaps we will send a few tidbits to you along 
   the way if you like.  We would be happy to share them 
   with your readers too. 

   We have enjoyed receiving your newsletters and want to 
   thank you for inviting us to be a part of your community." 

   [Editor's note:  the San Francisco Chronicle articles 
   mentioned above are still available on the newspaper's 
   web site ( Go to "Archive", 
   enter a date range, an look for "Mint" in the headline. 
   From the May 22nd article: 

   "The federal government and the city hope to take a 
   major step forward this week toward reopening San 
   Francisco's venerable Old Mint, one of the city's 
   grandest landmarks, and its most neglected. 

   Once the most splendid government building in the 
   West, the Old Mint has turned into a battered relic 
   of what it once was, empty and abandoned, like a 
   ruin in the middle of the city."] 


   This week's featured web site is Bob Johnson's COINSHEET 
   Numismatic Directory.   We referenced this site in v2 no9 
   (March 1, 1999).  The URL is now as follows: 

  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