The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 4, Number 49, December 2, 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 428.


  Well, it has come to pass that the @Home network has
  been shut down, cutting off your Editor and several subscribers
  from email and internet access.  But The E-Sylum continues
  on.  NBS Board member Bob Metzger will send the issues
  out in the interim and will relay submissions and inquiries
  in the interim.  Bob's email address is:


  George Kolbe writes: "Our newly revised Fixed Price List
  features over 1500 desirable numismatic publications currently
  for sale at our web site:


  A regional meeting of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society
  will be held at the Florida United Numismatists convention
  in Orlando, FL from 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM, Saturday, January
  12, Room 231C.   The speaker will be NBS Secretary-Treasurer
  David Sklow on "Using the ANA'S NUMISMATIST as a
  Research  Tool."   For more information on the show, see the
  FUN web site at


  Now Young Numismatists have an email newsletter of their
  own.  It's called "Your Newsletter" (YN for short), and it's
  published by the American Numismatic Association.
  See the ANA web site for more information.

  Begun on September 24th, 2001, the newsletter is geared
  toward new and young collectors, but contains interesting
  numismatic articles suitable for all ages.  (I signed up myself
  --  on the internet, no one knows you're older than the
  internet ... or Palm Pilots, or laptops, compact disks,
  ... or 8-track tapes for that matter....)

  Back issues are archived on the web.  The latest issue
  (November 28th) is number eleven, and even mentions
  NBS and The E-Sylum.   To subscribe, write to ANA
  Education Director (and E-Sylum subscriber) Gail Baker


  Editors love to steal (er, "borrow") material from one another.
  Here's an interesting piece from the November 7th YN
  newsletter (which in turn came from the Bureau of Engraving
  and Printing  (BEP) web site at

  "It is a little known fact that five African Americans have had
  their signatures on currency.  The four African American men
  whose signatures appeared on the currency were Blanche K.
  Bruce, Judson W. Lyons, William T. Vernon and James C.
  Napier.  These men served as Registers of the Treasury. Until
  the series 1923 currency, the two signatures on almost all
  currency (except Fractional Currency and Demand Notes)
  were of the Treasurer and the Register. During this period four
  of the 17 registers were African American.

  The fifth African American whose signature appeared on
  currency was Azie Taylor Morton.  Ms. Morton was the 36th
  Treasurer of the United States.  She served from September 12,
  1977, to January 20, 1981.  There are no images of African
  Americans printed on U.S. currency.  The records of the U.S.
  Mint, the agency responsible for manufacturing U.S. coins,
  show that two fifty cent commemorative silver coins were
  produced during the 1940s commemorating Black Americans:
  the Carver-Washington coin and the Booker T. Washington
  memorial coin. The coins are listed in the Official Red Book
  of United States Coins.   These coins are only available from
  collectors. The recently released Jackie Robinson coin can be
  purchased directly from the United States Mint."


  In response to last week's item about layoffs at the U.S.
  Mint, David Lange writes:

  "The U.S. Mint has had a number of layoff periods,
  typically following unnatural increases in production. I
  reported these as incidental notes in "The Complete Guide
  to Lincoln Cents".  Such information was taken from the
  Annual Report of the Director of the Mint.

  At the close of Fiscal Year 1918 (July 1, 1917 through
  June 30, 1918) the number of employees was up
  dramatically due to America's wartime economy:
  Philadelphia had 499 employees,  Denver 92 and San
  Francisco 178. (The Mint Bureau also had a number of
  employees at various assay offices and at its Washington
  DC headquarters, but the figures for the coining mints are
  usually more instructive.)  Compare these numbers to
  those of FY1912: Philadelphia, 356; Denver 100 and
  San Francisco, 138.

  The payroll rose again in FY1919, only to fall by a total
  of 117 employees for the entire bureau in FY1920.
  Director Raymond T. Baker noted that this was due in
  part to a drop-off in the demand for additional coins as
  the war ended.  However, he further added that the
  wartime inflation (just about 100%) had rendered Mint
  salaries and wages woefully inadequate and that such
  poor compensation made the retention of trained workers
  quite difficult:  "Your committee beg to suggest that the
  peculiar kind of service rendered by the employees of the
  mint commands a greater return for the skill demanded,
  and we recommend that the schedule of wages and salary,
  which in some instances has remained the same for a
  period of more than 37 years, be submitted to the proper
  authorities with a view of providing a basis of pay
  commensurate with the service rendered."

  After a sharp recession during 1921-23, demand for
  additional coins picked  up during FY1924 (July 1, 1923
  to June 30, 1924). Though the number of employees
  should have risen from the immediate postwar period,
  both congress and the president were very conservative
  in their budgeting during the 1920s, and all government
  offices were at bare minimum staffing. (This penny pinching
  is likely the cause of the poorly made coins from that period,
  since dies were obviously used beyond the point at which
  they should have been removed from the presses.) By
  FY1927, total staffing at the Mint Bureau was up to just
  652 persons.

  The onset of the Depression brought the Mint's payroll to
  its lowest levels of the 20th Century. At the close of FY1933,
  just 538 employees were on hand at all facilities combined.
  Activity rose in each of the successive years, with the number
  of employees rising to 783 in FY1936. World War II brought
  about an even greater increase: At the close of FY1946, there
  were a whopping 2547 employees!  These included many
  women and minorities, who had been largely excluded to that
  point, though women had formerly been used to adjust
  planchets during the 19th Century.

  Such growth was rapidly reversed as a post-war recession
  set in.  The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on November 16,
  1947 that "Approximately 200 employees of the Philadelphia
  Mint, 16th and Spring Garden streets, were laid off at the
  close of the work week yesterday. Edwin H. Dressel,
  superintendent, said the employees furloughed will be recalled
  'as soon as new orders for coins are received.' The Mint,
  which reached an all-time peak of about 2,600 employees
  during the war, has now about 600 employees, a normal
  figure, he said" Given that there were so many strikes during
  the inflationary postwar period, William Fehlinger, president
  of the American Federation of Government Employees, felt
  compelled to add that this reduction was normal and did
  not reflect any labor unrest.

  Beginning around 1950, the U.S. Mint began exploring ways
  to reduce the number of steps involved in producing coins and
  thus the number of employees, too.  This increased automation,
  however, came at a high cost regarding the quality of coinage
  struck during the 1950s.  While the number of employees was
  reduced significantly only with the cessation of coining at the
  San Francisco Mint on March 31, 1955, the appearance of
  the new coins being produced was reduced so obviously that
  collectors of the time commented on it in the numismatic press.
  Overuse of dies and inadequate heat treatment of the die steel
  were to blame, rather than the overall reduction of employees,
  but the cost-cutting mentality in Washington was the root
  cause of both phenomena.  The severe coin shortage of the
  early 1960s laid to rest the immediate concern of budget
  reduction, and the payroll rose once again.  True automation
  of the coining process didn't arrive until the Mint began
  outsourcing its supply of planchets and strip, a process that
  led to a reduction of new hires but few, if any, layoffs.

  The recent round of employees reductions was probably
  inevitable after the booming economy of the 90s ground to
  a near halt.  This fact, combined with the state quarters
  program and an overly optimistic projection for the
  Sacagawea dollar's success, had led to additional hirings, and
  things are just now getting back to more normal production."


  In response to last week's piece on missing hijacker
  "D. B. Cooper", Ed Price sends the following link to a
  story in a Florida newspaper about a woman who
  claimed her husband made a deathbed confession to
  the deed:

  "Jo Weber believes her late husband was skyjacker D.B.
  Cooper,  who vanished after parachuting from a jetliner with
  $200,000 in ransom money 29 years ago.  The 60-year-old
  Pace woman said her late husband Duane Weber told her he
  had a secret as he lay dying of kidney disease at age 70 in

  "I'm Dan Cooper," he whispered."


  D.B. Cooper ransom notes are not the only ones
  associated with famous crimes.   An internet search turned
  up a few other instances where authorities recorded the
  serial numbers of notes used as ransom payment.

  The most famous of these crimes is the Lindberg Baby
  kidnapping, which we discussed in The E-Sylum, Volume
  2, Number 47 (November 21, 1999).


  "Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., twenty-month-old  son of
  the famous aviator and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, was
  kidnapped about 9:00 p.m., on March 1, 1932, from the
  nursery on the second floor of the Lindbergh home near
  Hopewell, New Jersey.

  The President's Proclamation requiring the return to the
  Treasury of all gold and gold certificates was a valuable
  aid in the case, inasmuch as $40,000 of the ransom money
  had been paid in gold certificates and, at the time of the
  Proclamation, a large portion of this money was known to
  be outstanding. Therefore, this phase of the investigation
  was emphasized.

  On January 17, 1934, a circular letter was issued by the New
  York City Bureau Office to all banks and their branches in
  New York City, requesting an extremely close watch for the
  ransom certificates and, in February, 1934, all Bureau Offices
  were supplied with copies of the Bureau's revised pamphlet
  containing the serial numbers of ransom bills.  The New York
  City Bureau Office distributed copies of this pamphlet to
  each employee handling currency in banks, clearinghouses,
  grocery stores in certain selected communities, insurance
  companies, gasoline filling stations, airports, department stores,
  post offices, and telegraph companies.

  Following the distribution of these booklets containing the
  serial number of the ransom currency, there were also prepared
  and similarly distributed by the Bureau currency key cards
  which, in convenient form, set forth the inclusive serial numbers
  of all of the ransom notes which had been paid.  This was
  followed by frequent personal contacts with bank officials and
  with individual employees in an effort to keep alive their


  On July 22, 1933, Charles F. Urschel, "a millionaire oilman
  who had married the widow of legendary oil magnate Tom
  Slick" was kidnapped by Machine Gun Kelly and his gang:

  "... Harvey Bailey had shown up at the Shannon ranch. He
  borrowed Kelly's machine gun, used it to rob a bank in
  Kingfisher, Oklahoma on August 9, then returned to the ranch.
  After splitting the $200,000 ransom, Kelly and Bates each
  gave Bailey $500 of the ransom bills, in payment of Kelly's
  old debt, and advised him to "beat it" as the place was "hot."
  His two companions left, as did the Kellys and Bates, but
  Bailey, suffering from a leg wound sustained during his recent
  prison break, elected to remain a while.

  The Kellys and Bates headed for Minneapolis, where they
  split up, after selling part of the ransom. George and Kathryn
  left the Twin Cities on August 5.  The Urschel bills, whose
  serial numbers had been recorded, had drawn the FBI to
  the area.  On the same day, Isidore "Kid Cann" Blumenfeld,
  Minneapolis crime boss, and his men Sam Kronick, Sam
  Kozberg, Edward "Barney" Berman and Clifford Skelly
  were arrested for passing ransom money. Only Berman and
  Skelly would be convicted of this.

  On August 12, the Shannon ranch was raided. A party of
  FBI agents, Dallas and Fort Worth officers, including
  Weatherford and Swinney, and Charles Urschel himself,
  swooped in and arrested Robert and Ora Shannon, Armon
  and Oleta Shannon and Harvey Bailey.  Bailey was caught
  sleeping on a porch, with a .351 Winchester, a .45 automatic
  and Kelly's Thompson at his side, by Special Agent Gus Jones,
  who headed the investigations of both the Urschel kidnapping
  and the Kansas City Massacre.  Jones considered Bailey a
  prime suspect in both. $700 of the Urschel money was taken
  from Bailey."

   [Urschel was released unharmed. -Editor]


  In 1953, six-year-old Bobby Greenlease was kidnapped from
  his school by Carl Austin Hall and Bonnie Brown Heady for
  a $600,000 ransom.  "Bobby was the son of Robert C. and
  Virginia Greenlease.   His 71-year-old father was one of the
  largest Cadillac dealers in the nation. The Greenleases lived
  in Mission Hills, Kan., the most elite suburb in the Kansas
  City area.

  "In the late morning of Sept. 28, 1953, the 41-year-old
  Heady walked into the school and told a nun she was Bobby?s
  aunt ? that she and Virginia Greenlease had been shopping on
  the County Club Plaza when Virginia had a heart attack. She
  said she was there to take Bobby to the hospital.

  The Greenlease family got its first inkling of the disaster when
  the nun who had allowed Bobby to leave school with Heady
  called the Greenlease home in mid-afternoon to inquire after
  the health of Mrs.Greenlease.

  Hall began his contact with the Greenlease family by sending
  them a pin that Bobby had been wearing when abducted, and
  demanding a ransom of $600,000 in $10 and $20 bills.  Hall
  had calculated that this amount of money would weigh 80
  pounds, and that a million dollars would weigh too much for
  him to carry.  Hall specified that the ransom money would
  have to be collected from all 12 of the Federal Reserve banks
  ? 20,000 $20 bills and 20,000 $10 bills.

  Robert Greenlease called in several of his closest friends and
  undertook to comply with Hall?s demands. He contacted the
  head of a local bank, Arthur Eisenhower, brother of the
  incumbent president of the United States, Dwight D.
  Eisenhower. Arthur Eisenhower saw to it that the serial number
  on every bill was recorded (the list of serial numbers was later
  printed in a number of newspapers)."

  [The child was killed within thirty minutes of his abduction.
   Only half of the ransom money was recovered - Editor]

  It would be an interesting project to locate and republish
  lists of the serial numbers of bills from these and other
  famous crimes.  Perhaps some survivors lie anonymously
  today in dresser drawers, private collections, or even
  dealer stock.  It would be a great "cherry-pick" to find one
  of the notes in any condition.


  While we're on the subject of tracking notes by their
  serial numbers, the "Where's George" site, which allows
  users to record the serial numbers of U.S. bills passing
  through their hands (
  now has a Japanese counterpart:


  An article published on the Reuters newswire November 26th
  notes that two of the new euro coins may be prone to cause
  skin disease.

  "STOCKHOLM - Two of the eight euro coins due to come
  into circulation in January release so much nickel that people
  allergic to the metal could develop hand eczema, according to
  a study obtained by Reuters on Friday.

  Just five minutes of contact with one-euro (88 cents) and
  two-euro coins containing nickel alloy could trigger
  symptoms, including skin inflammation or itching, the study
  by a Swedish dermatologist and British laboratory scientist said.

  Earlier studies of French, British and Swedish coins containing
  nickel found that those coins also have the potential to cause
  nickel allergies, it said.

  Fifteen percent of all women and 2% to 5% of men in the
  industrialized world are prone to nickel allergy.

  In the study, two-euro coins were bathed for a week in a
  solution resembling human sweat to imitate the effects of
  people handling coins."


  J.S.G. Boggs isn't the only artist using money as a theme.
  The following story comes from ABC News:

  "ASPEN, Colo. - When Police Officer Rick Magnuson created
  a work of art titled, "I Dare You to Steal This $100," he knew
  he was asking for trouble.

  The conceptual artwork consisted of a small canvas with a
  $100 bill tacked to it and was displayed at the Aspen Art
  Museum.   "It was up for about a month before somebody had
  the guts to try to take it," Magnuson remarked. But eventually
  a clever museum-goer swiped it last Wednesday - and replaced
  it with five $20 bills.

  At first Magnuson wasn't amused, saying the piece had been
  defaced and its meaning altered.

  "I thought of my options. I think we determined at the [Police
  Department] that it was potentially criminal mischief - defacing
  somebody's art."


  This week's featured web site is the Bank of Japan's online
  currency museum.

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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