The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 4, Number 46, November 11, 2001:
 an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
 Copyright (c) 2001, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


  We have no new subscribers this week. 
  Our subscriber count holds at 426.  


  Fred Lake writes: "Our 61st mail-bid sale of numismatic   
  literature is now available for viewing at the following web 

  There are 670 lots in the "Lake Placid" sale and they cover   
  all facets of the numismatic collecting experience.  I hope   
  you find some items of interest."   


  From an Associated Press article filed the evening of   
  November 8th:    

  NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP)-- The largest known gold   
  bar from the California Gold Rush -- a bread loaf-sized brick   
  named Eureka -- has been sold for a record $8 million, officials   
  said Thursday.    

  The ingot was bought by a collector described only as a "Forbes   
  400 business executive,'' said Michael Carabini, president of   
  Monaco Financial, the Orange County-based rare coin company   
  that handled the sale.    

  The sale nearly doubled the record set previously for the sale   
  of collectible money. In 1999, a single silver dollar sold for   
  more than $4 million, said Donn Pearlman of the Professional   
  Numismatists Guild.    

  "They sold the artifact that was THE piece of numismatic   
  history of the California Gold Rush,'' he said.    

  The bar was handmade in 1857 by California assayers John   
  Kellogg and Augustus Humbert.  Weighing nearly 80 pounds   
  troy, the bar was stamped with its 1857 value -- $17,433.57.    

  On Sept. 3, 1857, the bar was loaded onto the SS Central   
  America in San Francisco.  The "Ship of Gold'' was bound 
  for New York where the gold was to be turned into coins.    

  Eight days later, the ship was damaged in a hurricane and   
  sank Sept. 12 more than 140 miles east of Cape Hatteras,   
  N.C., in 8,000 feet of water. More than 400 people died.    

  The lost riches helped spark an economic depression that   
  lasted three years."    

  [You'd be depressed too, if you lost that much gold.   
  Actually, the bar was loaded onto a different ship for the   
  Pacific leg of the trip from San Francisco.  It traveled   
  across the ithsmus of Panama by train before being loaded   
  onto the S.S. Central America on the Atlantic side.  And if   
  the gold were destined to be turned into coins, that would   
  have happened in Philadelphia, not New York, which had   
  no mint.  The popular press could use a numismatic    
  fact-checker.    -Editor]    

  See the San Francisco Chronicle article about the ingot: THIEVES TRY TO REACH GOLD UNDER RUBBLE Gold hasn't lost its allure to theives, either. From an article posted November 2nd, 2001 on the web site of Britain's Telegraph newspaper ( "EVIDENCE of a daring but failed heist from vaults beneath the collapsed World Trade Centre was revealed by police yesterday as workers removed gold and silver valued at £159 million. Scorch marks around the basement door to the vaults suggested thieves had tried to break in to steal the precious metals, belonging to the Bank of Nova Scotia. The bank denied there was any heist attempt, but police insisted that at some time during the past fortnight, a blowtorch and crowbar had been used on the vault's entrance. After the discovery, a video camera was set up to monitor the area. Given the difficulty of getting on to the site and down to the vault, it is suspected the attempt was an inside job. Hundreds of construction and relief workers are working on the World Trade Centre site." BRITISH SECURITY PRINTER INFO SOUGHT Gene Hessler writes: "Perhaps one of the astute E-Sylum researchers can help me. I cannot find any information on a few British security printers: Charles Skipper & East; McQuorquodale; Blades, East & Blades; and Knowles and Foster. I assume the latter is British also." MASON'S PHOTOGRAPHIC GALLERY PLATE There were several responses to Bill Malkmus' question about Mason's Photographic Gallery plate. Nick Graver asks: "I am assuming that the Mason's photo is an early "Composite", made up of many individual portraits, etc. and then recopied for distribution? Not a group photo at a convention, or such?" [Correct - the photo is a composite made of several individual portrait photos. -Editor] Cal Wilson writes: "With regard to the Mason's Photographic Gallery Plate, Remy Bourne reproduced it back in the mid-80's and sent me a supply which I added as an insert to an issue of The Repository. I may still have a few boxed up somewhere, but am not certain. In any event, it has been reprinted." Charlie Davis writes: "When I reprinted the run of Mason's Periodical in three volumes, the first 100 copies that I sold contained an actual photographic reprint of the Gallery pasted in place as did Mason in the 1860s. The negative was made on a top-of-the-line Haselblad and is the same size as the print but when I tried to make up some enlargements, the graininess kicked in and anything larger than about 11x14 was not good. No Gallery 2 was ever produced." QUERIES FROM ANDY LUSTIG Andy Lustig writes: "I received the following request over the Net. Can anyone help? - Do you know if J.A. Bailly also did a bust of Abraham Lincoln? Do you also know anything about the company Warner Miskey in Philadelphia?" LARGEST COLLECTION OF U.S. CITY DIRECTORIES? Inspired by last week's item on numismatic research by Dick Johnson, Ron Benice writes: "I'd like to nominate another candidate for the "largest collection of city directories." The Library of Congress in Washington D.C. has a huge collection. On one level of stacks that runs an entire city block they have original directories from what appears to be almost every place and every year. They also have telephone directories -- worldwide -- going back to the beginning of telephone number directories. They also have a complete year set of Dun and Bradstreet (initially separately and then together) business directories for the whole country on microfilm. I had access to roam the stacks freely when researching both editions of my book "Alaska Tokens". Unfortunately, they no longer permit outside researchers to access the stacks, but they'll bring out whatever you request, including many directories that are in the stacks but not in the catalog. Working from old-fashioned hard copy books is faster and easier on the eyes." FIRST COIN CHAT ROOM? On page B1 of the November 8th Wall Street Journal is an article about Dr. Larry Brilliant and his work against smallpox in India. The last paragraph mentions that "he had a role in founding several online and broadband companies". One of those companies had a numismatic connection. When I worked at Bell Labs in New Jersey during the early 80's, I moonlighted as a consultant for Dr. Brilliant's company, which was based in Ann Arbor, MI at the time. He had hooked up with a couple hackers who ran a bulletin board system on a server in one of their homes. They created an interactive conferencing system with many elements of today's chat rooms and newsgroups. I did testing and commented on user interface design. It was a plain scrolling text interface that you could dial in to via the GTE Telnet network. The company was initially called MarketNet, Inc., and later Network Technologies Inc., or NETI. Larry was a coin collector and knew dealer Joseph Lepczyk, whom I believe became an investor in the firm. Hoping to unseat the standard coin dealer teletype system, they created a system called CENTS for buying, selling, and discussing numismatic items online. CENTS stood for "Complete Electronic Numismatic Trading Systems." It was through the numismatic connection that I became involved. The company later had some sales to groups like AT&T's Legal Dept., which used it as groupware to discuss legal documents. But the system was way ahead of its time and failed, because in those days long before the popularization of the Internet, there were still only a handful of first adopters with PCs and modems having the capability to dial in. We geeks thought it was the bee's knees, but it went nowhere. Larry closed the company, but moved to San Francisco and ended up cofounding The Well with Stuart Brand (of Whole Earth Catalog fame), this time creating the first commercially successful online community. In my library I have copies of the user documentation for the system and a handful of scrolled paper printouts documenting some interactive sessions. In one, Larry Brilliant wrote: "It was a real treat to be able to sign on to the system via satellite from Kathmandu, Nepal. We are making world history with the longest distance coin deal ever ..... wonderful." (August 15th, 1983). WANT FRIES WITH THAT? One computer trading system readers may actually have heard of is eBay. Desiring to ease the pain of losing bidders, eBay now follows up each auction with an email message listing several (supposedly) similar items they still have a chance at. After ending up as the underbidder on a recent lot of three early Frank Katen sales, eBay followed up with "And here are some items from eBay whose titles are similar to the item you lost:" The first listed item? A video titled "The Best of Soupy Sales" WE CAN'T DO THAT; SOMEONE MIGHT BUY IT Asylum Editor E. Tomlinson Fort writes: "Recently I received a fine article from George Kolbe about the "Numismatics in the Age of Grolier" exhibit currently on display at the Grolier Club in New York. Both The Asylum and The E-Sylum have done their utmost to promote both the exhibit and the numismatic literature conference which was held at the club on October 27. In his article Mr. Kolbe notes that the Grolier Club has produced a 75-page unillustrated catalogue for the exhibit priced at $15. Wanting a copy for my own library I called the club and was bluntly, and somewhat rudely, told that they do not take phone or mail orders for the book. The only way to get a copy is to physically go to the club and purchase one for cash! I called Mr. Kolbe about this and he confirmed the truth of this stupid policy (there is no other way to describe it) and mentioned that when he was there another person who was buying it was asked if he had exact change. Likewise, the club does not seem to want to let booksellers, such as Mr. Kolbe, distribute the book. Who decided that? Homer Simpson? (Actually, that is an insult -- to Homer Simpson). At any rate, since I have no plans to be in New York for some months is there an E-Sylum reader there who could buy the work for me? I will gladly send you a cheque or money order for the book as well as postage and packing. Please contact me at" [Did we mention the retina scan and body cavity search? -Editor] CACHE OF EPIDEMIC LETTERS UNCOVERED Sound eerily familiar? "The nation's capital was struck by a plague so terrible that 10 percent of the population died in a matter of months. People panicked. Everyone who could fled the city. Politicians seized the moment to try to gain advantages over their opponents. An instant book appeared and became an international best seller, snapped up by some who wanted to read the gruesome details of the disease and its accompanying social disruption, and by others who wanted to pore over its list of the dead. The city was Philadelphia in 1793, and the disease was yellow fever. No one knew where the illness came from or how it was spreading. No one knew the best treatment or how to clean up the city. It was a hemorrhagic fever, Ebola-like in many symptoms. And it was, in a way, a natural form of bioterrorism. Now, researchers at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia have found a cache of letters and documents from that terrible time, written by historic figures like Alexander Hamilton and Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a professor at what is now the University of Pennsylvania. While the letters do not change the general picture of the epidemic, they offer new details and give the events immediacy." U.S. numismatists, particularly early copper mavens, have long sought copies of "Bring Out Your Dead : The Great Plague of Yellow Fever in Philadelphia in 1793" by J. H. Powell. The book details the calamity which forced the closing of the U.S. Mint. The mystery of the disease was solved by Benjamin Rush (1746-1813), who later became Treasurer of the Mint. Rush detailed his findings in "An Account of the Bilious Remitting Yellow Fever As It Appeared in the City of Philadelphia", published in 1794. The book was republished by Reprint Services Corp (Jan 1, 1999, ISBN: 0781288525) For more i nformation, see "Revolutionary Doctor" by Carl Binger, 1966, and these web pages: FEATURED WEB SITE This week's featured web site is "Physicists on the Money". Bill Rosenblum writes: "A teenage customer of mine let me know about this 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.

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