The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

PREV        NEXT        V6 2003 INDEX        E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 6, Number 2, January 12, 2003:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2003, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


  NBS Vice-President John W. Adams reports:
  "I have contacted Barry Tayman and George Fuld. Happily,
  they have agreed to join us at our annual meetings at the
  American Numismatic Association convention in Baltimore
  this summer.   Barry and George are working on a monograph
  covering the Blacksmith Tokens;  I have asked them to talk
  about their research methodology for this as well as for other
  projects they have executed.  Astute questioners from our club
  will no doubt want to learn George's secrets for building the
  fabulous library that he succeeded in assembling."

  NBS President Pete Smith adds: "Can anyone suggest a
  Baltimore resource for the NBS Symposium who is not part
  of the "normal" ANA crowd?  Does anyone have Baltimore
  contacts to recommend?"

  [I'm already looking forward to hearing Barry and George's
  talk.  Perhaps we can add a local historian, author, or
  archivist to the lineup who can add something interesting
  regarding numismatic research.   Aren't there Mint or B.E.P.
  archives in the Baltimore/D.C. area?  Perhaps an archivist
  or caretaker could be persuaded to join us and outline the
  extent and an availability of the collections for numismatic
  researchers.  -Editor]


  George Kolbe writes: "An overview of Sale 90 follows:
  Auction 90 features 1200 lots of works on a wide range
  of numismatic topics, among them a number of important
  16th and 17th century numismatic books.  American works
  in the sale include books and catalogues from the New
  Netherlands Coin Co. Library.  Among the many sale
  highlights are: an Exceptional 1925 Browning on Early
  Quarter Dollars of the United States; Very Fine Sets of
  Yeoman Red Books and Blue Books; Mazzini¹s
  Monumental 5 Volume Monete Imperiale Romane; two
  Original 1869 Maris Works on 1794 Cents; Walter
  Breen¹s Annotated 1950 Bolender Silver Dollar Book;
  Two Original Handwritten Letters by Sylvester Crosby;
  an Original 1923-1929 Set of the McClean Collection of
  Greek Coins; a Fine, Annotated Set of Dalton & Hamer
  on 18th Century Tokens; an Original Set of Corpus
  Nummorum Italicorum; and a Fine Selection of Numismatica
  Americana, Including Numismatic Correspondence from
  the Walter P. Nichols Files.  Printed catalogues may be
  obtained by sending $15.00."


  George Kolbe adds: "There are three new "items" posted
  on our web site (

  1) A revised 2003 List of Books for Sale featuring, for a
      limited time, savings of up to 20%

  2) Our February 20, 2003 Auction Sale Catalogue

  3) An Important New Acquisition: THE FIRST
      extremely rare example printed on vellum.


  Art Rubino writes: "Many of your subscribers know me
  from the many coin shows all over the United States where
  I put up my large numismatic bookshop.  I am doing
  something new that may interest some of your subscribers
  right now.  Here's my press release:

  Art Rubino & Co.
  Antiquarian Booksellers
  Numismatic Arts of Santa Fe

  Has opened a permanent revolving auction of fine numismatic
  books on eBay. There are 30 or more numismatic books on
  sale by auction at any given time.  The individual auctions run
  for ten days. New books are added to the sale daily, as old
  books are sold.

  Dealers & collectors are invited to visit the site regularly to
  view and bid for the lots on sale. This is done by going to and signing in, then going to the "Find
  Items" sector, selecting "By Seller"  and keying in my ebay
  user ID which is Art_Rubino."


  An intriguing item was published in the Winter 2002 issue
  of the American Numismatic Society magazine.  Librarian
  Francis D. Campbell notes in his column on p21 that
  "Through a generous donation from the Estate of Mrs.
  Henrietta Chapman Judson, the Library has received a
  substantial quantity of the correspondence and other papers
  of the coin auction firm run by Henry and Samuel Hudson
  Chapman, which began operations in 1879."

  The article goes on to describe the career of the firm, but
  does not elaborate on the contents of the correspondence
  archive.  Perhaps some E-Sylum reader will poke their
  nose in the archive sometime and let us know some of the


  Numismatic researchers and writers Richard Kelly & Nancy
  Oliver write: "On January 10th, 2003 we got a unique
  opportunity to receive a tour of the third San Francisco Mint
  while it was in the process of making the 2003 Proof Sets for
  sale to the public.

  The third SF Mint is not open to the public for tours so we
  jumped on the chance for a tour when it was offered to us.
  A gentleman we know arranged it for us and gave the tour
  personally. It was an enriching experience to say the least.

  Our tour began with the outside of the facility, with its thick
  walls of granite to the upper facade where large concrete
  representations of each commemorative coin made by the
  mint circle the roof.   Inside, we were shown where the
  blanks for the proof sets arrive, massive vault doors, the
  storage bins for the blanks for all denominations and then
  the mint operations.

  We were right there with our guide on the floor where all
  the planchet making operation is conducted. In fact, he
  reached his hand into the turning burnishing bin and showed
  us several newly polished dollar blanks. We saw the upset
  mills, and the storage of newly made planchets. But, what
  we saw next gave us a deep appreciation of the delicate and
  hard work involved in making every proof coin as perfect
  as possible.

  The SF mint receives all its dies from Philadelphia unpolished,
  so all the work of polishing and chrome plating has to be done
  in SF.  The work involved in this, not only includes the
  polishing and plating of each die, but the intricate microscopic
  work required to remove any excess metal or plating in the
  crevices of each and every die. The dozen or so workers in
  this room labor over the small detail of their work for 8 hours
  per day. Perfection was the key and these workers were very
  intent on their task.   With protective ear plugs, we entered the
  press room where we watched as the massive presses stamped
  out beautifully frosted, double struck coins.  Near each press
  operator was a bag of reject coins, but the ones we were
  shown had but smears and light scratches on them. Perfection
  was also the key here.

  Lastly, we saw the packaging process of each 2003 proof set
  as they made their way down several conveyor belts that made
  loops and stops as they inserted each individual denomination
  by machine. Then the filled sets arrived at the sealing operation
  to eventually be placed into their final packaging to all be sent
  out to Tennessee for final processing and shipping.

  All the people we met during our tour were friendly and were
  more than willing to answer any questions we might have
  concerning their department.  The tour was an eye-opening
  event for us both.  And we left with a deeper appreciation of
  the hard work involved in making proof coins for the public."


  Last week, Scott Semans mentioned a revised edition of
  a Frank Lapa book: "While in prison, he produced a
  revised version of his Kandy Kings of Ceylon, 1986, in
  8.5x11 spiral bind, though I'm not sure he ever marketed
  this edition."

  Kavan Ratnatunga reports: "I have a copy of original 1968
  edition as well as this 1986 spiral bind.  I did not know of its
  provenance til today.  The original book is clearly the best
  illustrated book on these copper massa coins.  I have not
  studied the details or tried to find all the 50 or so varieties
  he illustrates for each of the 6 more common Kings and

  The coins are from Kings in Lanka in Pollonnaruva and
  Dambadeniya in the era 1055-1295 AD.  The kingdom
  moved to Kandy many centuries later, and the colonial
  name Ceylon was not even invented."


  Kavan has a question for E-Sylum readers:  "Is there a
  Numismatic origin to the usage "Coin a Phrase"?


  In response to Paul Withers' mention of the term
  'paranumismatica,' Tom DeLorey writes:
  "I had never heard the term "paranumismatica" before, though
  I have not been  active in the field since editing the "TAMS
  Journal" for 1981, and I think I  prefer the shorter term
  "exonumia" coined by Russ Rulau and widely used in
  America. Which is more common in Europe?"

  [It seems like just yesterday, but it was two years ago
  when this term first came up in The E-Sylum.  See Volume 3,
  Number 54 (December 31, 2000).  Back issues are archived
  on our web site:   I was unfamiliar
  with the term myself when I first encountered it on Paul Withers'
  web site.  Here's what I wrote, under the title,  "Vocabulary
  Word: Paranumismatica"

  "We discussed numismatic word definitions several issues ago.
   Mr. Withers' web site uses a word your American-bred Editor
   hadn't seen before:  paranumismatica.  In context: "World
   Paranumismatica  -  Tokens, Countermarks and the like from
   around the globe."

   A web search turned up 25 pages using the term, one defining
   it as the "British term for exonumia"  I'm sure Paul would prefer
   a definition along the lines of "Exonomia: American term for

   A search today (January 6, 2003) turned up 84 references
   to "paranumismatica," more than triple the number found two
   years ago.  -Editor]


  Bob Knepper of Anaheim, Calif. ask, "Where, if anywhere,
  does there exist a list of numismatic libraries in Europe which
  are accessible either to walk-in public or by appointment?  I
  realize that all numismatic dealers have libraries.

  I would also like a similar list of coin and/or paper money
  museums.  I've visited a few but there must be more.  Thank

  [I believe we published this request once before, but we
  haven't gotten any responses and thought we've try again.

  Bob adds: "I'm now planning, with my wife Sue, a trip
  around Europe in April - May to combine sightseeing, coin
  and book hunting, and visiting friends.  I'm still hoping to see
  or possibly buy the book about the coins of German state
  "Salm".  As my queries to several dealers have found only
  one copy of the book (not for sale and in an inconvenient
  location), I'll start trying various libraries."


  Bruce Perdue writes: "I haven't read all of the "new" format
  "Numismatist", but it seems to me that some of this change was
  done for the advertisers ... their ads seem more intrusive than
  they did in the old format.   I of course agree with Greg Heim
  that without David Bowers and Ken Bressett's columns it
  isn't as good as it was."

  Ken Bressett writes: "I must second what Greg Heim had to
  say about the new Numismatist.  One can only hope that the
  extra effort and cost that went into the renovation is on target
  and of benefit to the typical ANA member.  The decision to
  drop the columns by Dave Bowers and myself, as well as all
  the other changes, was strictly that of the ANA, and not ours."

  Regarding Greg's comment that "the articles were too
  specialized," Martin Purdy writes: "I find that rather odd, if I
  may say so.  Put alongside a really academic and quite turgid
  publication such as the Numismatic Chronicle, which I have
  never succeeded in reading from cover to cover, the
  "Numismatist" is decidedly populist and lowbrow.  Maybe
  that's not a good comparison, who knows.

  I enjoy receiving the "Numismatist" each month (I haven't
  got the January 03 issue yet, so I can't make an old/new
  comparison at this stage), but it's hardly a heavy read.  It
  also tends to let some fairly basic errors through the
  editing process, which I wouldn't expect of a more
  academic publication."

  Bill Malkmus writes: "I noted the comments about the "new"
  Numismatist in last week's E-Sylum.  I was compiling a list
  to send to the editor, and thought I'd offer a few of my

  The dropping of the article I agree is a non-issue. But some
  of the other changes for the sake of change are not so
  innocuous. I have tried to resist my usual septuagenarian's
  viewpoint that equates "change" with "bad" (however often
  that may be the case).

  I do credit them for placing the name, date, and page number
  on (almost) every page. (It's frustrating when a Xerox file
  copy is found to be lacking in ID.)

  The typography and proofreading seem good, although I am
  still checking my pocket change unsuccessfully for that
  Eisenhower quarter mentioned on p.12.

  I agree that the dropping of Bowers and Bressett is regrettable,
  but would add Sear, Fitts, and Hessler (at least) to the list.

  But I cannot accept the premise that the former journal was
  too "erudite" or highbrow -- I don't go along with the "lowest
  common denominator" theory. I can't believe that vast
  numbers of readers could not cope with what David Sear had
  to offer in 2 or 3 pages on ancient coins.  I do not collect dog
  tokens or beer tokens (and expect I never will), but I do not
  feel put upon for seeing articles about them; in fact, I feel my
  horizons are widened for having read them.

  In the "form overcoming content" category, I must remark on
  one of my pet peeves, that of overlapping photos of (usually)
  obverse and reverse images of a coin (the cute technical term
  being, I believe, "eclipsing") when, as is usually the case, there
  is no space constraint requiring it. I really get upset when what
  would be the best illustration I have of some particular coin is
  thus artsily mutilated, with partial obscuration of a reverse
  design or legend.

  The use of icons ("next page" and "end") is good, although the
  "end" icon should be at the very end of all text (after "learn
  more"). (I am not sure what the "end" icon represents, if it
  matters, and it is barely distinguishable from "next page.")

  Unfortunately, the introduction of the "learn more" caption
  seems to imply that there will never be any sufficiently
  important comment ever made which might require one of
  those untidy and intimidating footnotes or endnotes."


  Joel Orosz points out "an interesting article on a little-known
  museum with significant numismatic content."   The article by
  Ralph Blumenthal titled "Museum Explores Capitalism's Feats
  and Follies" was published January 6, 2003.  Here's an
  excerpt.  To access the full article, see the link below.

  "What would John D. Rockefeller say?

  In the basement of his Standard Oil Building, just steps from
  Wall Street, where the Museum of American Financial History
  celebrates the wonders of capitalism, an exhibit wall is papered
  with gaily colored stock certificates carrying names like Enron,
  WorldCom and ImClone Systems.

  It's the dark side of the American dream. But the dot-com
  debacles and infamous bankruptcies of the infant millennium
  are as much part of the nation's financial heritage as scandals
  of the past and the stock market crash of 1929, says the
  museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.

  Exhibits about that Black October Friday that ushered in the
  Great Depression, and accouterments like the plunging ticker
  tape record, have long been the biggest draw of this low-profile
  and literally underground museum, in its 15th year at 28
  Broadway, where Rockefeller first moved into a smaller
  building in 1883, on same the site where Alexander Hamilton's
  law office once stood."

  "The stock certificates are on display until Feb. 28. Other ]
  exhibits now at the museum include one of the four remaining
  largest bills ever issued by the United States: a $100,000 gold
  note issued in 1934 and depicting Woodrow Wilson.  It was
  used for monetary transfers between Federal Reserve banks."

  "Another exhibit displays an exquisite palette of high-
  denomination bills issued by other countries during periods
  of runaway inflation, including, from Germany between the
  world wars, a trillion-mark note."


  One standout exhibit at last year's ANA convention in
  New York included a silver ingot made for a special dinner
  in San Francisco in 1876 in honor of William Sharon,
  a Nevada Senator and bank baron.  Dealer Fred Holabird
  published an article on newly discovered example of the
  ingot in the Winter 2002 issue of The Brasher Bulletin,
  newsletter of the Society of Private and Pioneer Numismatics.

  The article contains a reference to Panamint Balls of silver,
  which were discussed in the E-Sylum last November
  (v4n47 and n48).  From the article (and Holabird's web

  "Senator Wm. Morris Stewart ... headed a bunch of investors
  along with John P. Jones in the mines at Panamint, California.
  In 1875 they pulled out a million in silver, but were acutely
  aware of highwaymen just waiting for the bullion-laden wagons
  to come down the treacherous canyons out of the Panamints.
  The mountains are so rugged, that there is about 6000 feet
  of relief in just over a mile of horizontal distance. Even the
  mighty Wells Fargo & Co. would not dare to establish an
  express office there for fear the risk of robbery was too high.

  "They said they wouldn't run any risks at Panamint, not with
  that bunch of highwaymen lying around just waiting to swoop
  down and gobble up every dollar in sight."  Stewart needed
  a plan. "Finally I hit on a scheme.  I had some moulds made
  in which a ball of solid silver could be run weighing 750 pounds.
  Then I began smelting the ore, and I ran out enormous cannon
  balls of the precious stuff that could have bombarded a
  battleship. When the road agents saw what I was doing, their
  eyes stuck out of their heads" "they acted as though I had
  cheated them out of property."


  Small world:  In response to last week's item about numismatic
  items found in the wreckage of the Confederate Submarine
  H. L. Hunley,  David Fanning writes: "Nondestructive Testing
  is the somewhat arcane area of science in which I work as an
  editor.  It's basically industrial science--physics and engineering
  -- involving evaluating components, structures and materials in
  ways which do not affect the future utility of the thing being
  tested. Hence, ultrasound, radiography, eddy current, infrared
  and electromagnetic testing are all forms of nondestructive
  testing (so is alloy analysis like X-ray diffraction, useful in

  The journal I edit is "Materials Evaluation" and in a recent
  issue I published an article on the nondestructive testing of
  the structure of the Hunley wreckage:  "The Confederate
  Submarine H.L. Hunley and Nondestructive Testing," Vol. 60,
  No. 3, March 2002, pp. 409-419  (published by The
  American Society for Nondestructive Testing,"


  As part of my duties as Chairman of the local committee
  for the 2004 Pittsburgh ANA Convention, I visited the
  headquarters of the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission
  this week to plan a possible exhibit of hero fund medals at
  the show, in cooperation with the Carnegie Museums of
  Pittsburgh.  2004 will be the 100th anniversary of the fund.

  Officials of the fund have preliminary sketches for a
  redesign of the medal for the centennial year.  It will
  bear a 1904-2004 inscription, and the die will be retired
  at year end.  Some other small changes are being
  incorporated into the design, and these will continue in
  2005 and beyond.

  For more information on the fund and its medals, see


  While we're on the subject of shipwreck coins, at
  a local club meeting this week, Kavan Ratnatunga
  brought along a copy of a nonfiction book written by
  science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, with Mike
  Wilson.  "The Treasure of the Great Reef" was
  published by Harper & Row, New York in 1964.

  The book describes a March 1961 discovery by the
  authors of a shipwreck at the Great Basses reef off the
  south east coast of Lanka, where Clarke has lived since
  1956.   The numismatic connection is a fabulous hoard
  of silver rupees dated 1701-1702 found in the wreck,
  which are pictured in the book.  Kavan illustrates one
  of the hoard coins on his web site.  See

  From Kavan's web page: "The coins appeared to have
  been packed in coir sacks with about 1000 coins each
  and perhaps packed several sacks to a wood chest. The
  coir bags held together long enough for the silver coins
  to have been concreted solidly together, so that when
  the sacks rotted away, the coins remained in twenty five
  pound lumps in the shape of the sack.  The coins in the
  middle of the lumps were in perfect mint condition. The
  inner side of the outer coins were similarly protected as
  was the reverse of the coin shown above.

  The Smithsonian institute was donated a 1,000 rupee
  lump soon after the discovery of the unrecorded wreck
  on the Great Basses Reef - off the south east coast of
  Lanka.  Accession record 239761 dated December 7,
  1961 describes a gift made to the Smithsonian by Arthur C.
  Clarke. as 1 cluster of approx. 1000 silver rupees dated
  1702, found off Great Basses Reef, Ceylon by Mr. Mike

  Kavan's book was signed by Clarke, whom Kavan has
  known since the 1960's, and visits on his trips home.


  We've profiled the "Where's George" web site before.
  The site allows people to register the serial numbers of
  U.S. currency passing thru their hands.  This week, I
  received in change a note that had been overstamped
  with the Where's George URL and other slogans.  So
  I registered the note and shoved it back in my wallet.
  For those who care, it's a 1999 series $1 note, serial
  number K40586052D.   I wonder where it'll turn up
  next?    See for more


  Last week, Bob Leonard shared some information about
  numismatic author Lynn Glaser.  Glaser was one of the
  collaborators on The Fantastic 1804 Dollar book, along
  with Walter Breen, Eric Newman and Ken Bressett.
  Ken writes: "I was shocked to read Bob Leonard's
  comments on Lynn Glaser.  I had never heard any of that
  story. Lynn just sort of dropped out of sight at one point
  and I never heard from him again."

  "As far as I can recall, Lynn never did autograph any
  books along with the rest of us.  I do not even have such
  a copy. He did very little to assist with the writing of the
  book other than to offer some background notes that he
  had accumulated as part of his research on other projects.
  He showed promise as a budding numismatist and we
  were happy to offer him encouragement, but he quickly
  drifted away into other fields."

  [Through Walter, I contacted Lynn Glaser about ten years
  ago.  I was hoping to have him sign my copy of the 1804
  book - the other three authors already had.  Walter told
  me the town he was living in, and through directory information
  I managed to locate him.  He seemed quite surprised to hear
  from someone in the numismatic field and said he'd nearly
  forgotten about his work on the book.  He said he didn't
  normally sign books, but since I'd gone to the trouble of
  contacting him, he agreed to do it.  I sent him the book by
  mail, and a couple weeks later it came back with a signature.
  I've never met him in person.   With Walter dead I wonder
   if my copy is the only one signed by the "Gang of Four".

  I should also note that I believe we had typos in earlier
  E-Sylum issues (v3n35 and v3n40), where Currency
  Auctions of America principal LEN Glaser was listed
  incorrectly as LYNN Glaser.   -Editor]


  Here's a science-fiction turned fact item for you:  a
  school in western England has turned to the use of retinal
  scans to determine payment for cafeteria food.  From a
  January 8, 2003 USA Today story:

  "... students will be charged for their lunches with a retina
  scanning device to prevent poor children who eat for free
  from being ridiculed in the cafeteria.

  "... the school is concerned that if students are forced to
  pay for their lunches in cash the poor ones who receive
  food for free could be stigmatized.  So officials have
  decided to make the entire school "cashless."

  The retina scanning device also will be used in the library
  when students take out and return books..."

  "But this is not a James Bond school for spies. ... This is not
  science fiction. This is technology that exists."


  This week's featured web site is the Hellenic Numismatic
  Society of Athens, Greece.  "The Hellenic Numismatic
  Society was founded in 1970 to serve the interest of Greek
  and foreign numismatists and collectors concerned with
  every aspect of Greek numismatics from earliest times to
  present day."

  "The journal of the society, Nomismatika Khronika
  (NomKhron), has been appearing since 1972. It contains
  articles by Greek and foreign numismatists, covering the
  whole range of the history of coins in the Greek world,
  as well as related subjects (paper money, medals and
 decorations, tokens etc.). It is now completely bilingual:
  all articles are printed in the original language (usually
 Greek or English) with a full translation or detailed
  summary in Greek or English as required."

  [The web site was last updated in 2000;  does anyone
  know if the society is still active?  -Editor]

  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        V6 2003 INDEX        E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

NBS Home Page    Back to top

NBS ( Web