The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 6, Number 9, March 2, 2003:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2003, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


The following auction results are from the Press Release for
the 90th sale of George Frederick Kolbe/Fine Numismatic
Books, which closed on February 20, 2003:

"Over 300 bidders participated and 90% of the 1200 lots in
Kolbe Sale 90 sold, bringing a total of nearly $135,000. Some
highlights follow (all include the 15% buyer premium).

A very fine set of Yeoman's Guide Book of United States,
popularly known as the Red Book, complete from 1947 to
2000, brought $2817; an even nicer set of Yeoman Blue
Books, from 1947 to 2000 complete, sold for $1322; a
hardbound edition of Dr. Maris' 1869 work, the first separate
work devoted to United States large cents, experienced active
bidding and brought $1840 on a $1250 estimate; a 1950
edition of M. H. Bolender's work on early silver dollars,
annotated by Walter Breen while he worked for New
Netherlands Coin Co., was estimated to bring $500 and sold
for $690; a metal box, once holding American colonial coins
from the Virgil Brand collection, sold for $230; two original
letters from Sylvester Crosby to Henry Chapman, both
dealing with colonial numismatics, brought $1,006 and $517
respectively; an original, annotated set of Dalton & Hamer's
classic The Provincial Token-Coinage of the 18th Century
sold for $1265; an original set of Corpus Nummorum
Italicorum (minus the extremely rare volume 20), though
conservatively estimated at $5,500, failed to sell; an unusually
fine example of the original 1925 edition of A. W. Browning's
Early Quarter Dollars of the United States, was estimated at
$3,000 and ended up bringing $4312; a nice example of the
famous 1890 Parmelee sale catalogue, with 13 fine plates,
sold for $1150; Burachkov's rare 1884 work on ancient Greek
coins of the Black Sea went for $1035; a nice example of Q.
David Bowers' first numismatic publication, issued in 1955,
was estimated to bring $300 but was hotly contested for and
ended up selling for $632; a nice selection of antiquarian
numismatic works generally brought strong prices. A few
catalogues are still available and may be acquired by sending
$15.00 to Kolbe. The firmĀ¹s next sale is scheduled for June
19, 2003."


Barbara Gregory, Editor of NUMISMATIST writes:
"Thank you for your comments regarding the February 2003
issue of NUMISMATIST. The American Numismatic
Association has received hundreds of favorable responses from
readers regarding the redesign. Many members have noted
that, for the first time, they read the magazine from cover to

If you think the February NUMISMATIST was good, wait
until you see March! Greg Lambousy of the Louisiana State
Museum offers a history of the New Orleans Mint in a beautifully
illustrated retrospective, and Arthur M. Fitts III returns with a
quarterly column about medieval numismatics. The April issue
will feature two new columnists: John J. Kraljevich Jr. will
discuss Early American money in his quarterly contribution
and Mitch Sanders will focus on basics in a monthly column
entitled "Getting Started."

Stay tuned . . . the best is yet to come!"


Clem Schettino writes: "The Second Edition of my CD is
virtually completed and should be ready for shipping in about
one week.

[The CD covers British & Irish 18th century contemporary
colonial counterfeits. Excellent images. -Editor]

I have already sent a private email to the present three dozen
or so subscribers, but as a reminder it?ll be $12 to them. That
should cover my costs of supplies, postage and labor for my

For new subscribers the cost is $45 pp. The CD will be sent
post paid to US addresses. Shipping outside of the US will be
$5 and will be sent Global Priority.

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about
please visit this page at my website.

If you then back up a couple of pages you will find a few sample


John W. Adams writes: "Sheldon-bashing has become a popular
sport. The Yalie quoted by David Fanning refers to WHS as a
"megalomaniac, pseudo-scientist". Whatever Sheldon's faults
(and I don't dispute that there were many), he held an M.D.
and a Ph.D.; his views on classification of personalities via body
types were widely enough accepted to earn him his own room at
the Smithsonian, not to mention free access to the crown jewels
(so to speak) of a long list of Ivy League colleges. Let's not be
glib with the truth just because our alma mater was, in retrospect,
embarrassingly gullible."


NBS Board member Col. Bill Murray has penned his annual
numismatic book review article for the 2003 Collector's
Yearbook, published by COINage magazine. The article
leads off with a review of Q. David Bowers' "A California
Gold Rush History." Bill notes that the book is "large-format,
small print, with many quotes in smaller print, which Bowers
says "... can be easily skipped by anyone desiring to do so."
You would be advised not to do so. The book is a history,
a numismatic reference, a catalog of California Gold and a
story that reads like fiction. It's a must read for historians,
numismatists and gold bugs alike."

Other reviews include Bowers' "More Adventure with Rare
Coins", Ron Guth's "Coin Collecting for Dummies", Byron
Kanzinger's "Civil War Token Collectors Guide", Robert
Vlack's "An Illustrated Catalogue of Early American
Advertising Notes."

Bill's thoughtful comments are a useful guide to the literature
of 2002, some of which were touched on here in The E-Sylum
as they were published. The breadth of subject matter illustrates
the variety of fascinating topics to be found under the umbrella
of numismatics. His notes on the year's general guidebooks
are very useful, since I've always felt that EVERY book has
something to offer, even ones which may seem at first blush to
cover topics already touched on elsewhere. Every author has
a unique perspective, and each brings a fresh eye to "old" topics.
Sometimes a single chapter, index, or appendix makes a book
indispensable. So if you think a new book has nothing new to
offer, think again. Look between the covers and you may be
pleasantly surprised.


A gentleman recently wrote to me: "I have recently come into
possession of a small, hard cover book titled "The Coins of the
Bible Illustrated" published by Scott & Company at 721
Broadway in New York. The book was entered into the
Library of Congress in 1884 and I believe this is also the
publishing date. It is 5-1/2 inches tall, 3-1/2 inches wide, and
has 38 pages. The most exciting thing about the book is that
within recessed cut-outs in its back cover is a set of 4 replica
coins discussed within the text of the book. The coins appear
to be composed of cheap pot metal but all four are intact and
in incredible condition."

[This book sounded somewhat familiar, but I didn't recall
any coin inserts. When I checked my library I discovered
that what I have is "Coins of the Bible" by James Ross Snowden,
1864 (enlarged edition, 1866). For more on this title, see
The E-Sylum, v3n41, October 8, 2000. But is anyone
familiar with the Scott work? -Editor]


Last week Gary Lewis mentioned Roger deWadt Lane's
new CD called "Modern Dime Size Silver Coins of the World"

Granvl Hulse adds: "The E-Sylum has discussed the demise
of books in favor of publications printed exclusively on
CD-ROM. For a closer look at of one of these you might
check Roger Lane's web-site
( for a sample
of his new book "Modern Dime Size Silver Coins of the World
with Footnotes to History." The Numismatics International
Library was given an advance copy. Six hundred pages reduced
to a quarter inch in thickness, and weighing only a few ounces.
Roger has posted Haiti on his web site as an example of what is
found in the pages of his work. E-Sylum readers might find it


Paul Withers writes: "The discussion of the origin and meaning
of the Anglo-Indian term "chit" is most interesting.

I can relate that the term chit is used is both senses in real (UK
as opposed to US) english. My mother might have said, for
example, of 'a chit of a girl who brought a chit for a pair of
shoes'. O.k., so the sentence is an unlikely construction, but
you see what I mean.

David Klinger writes: "In the discussion about "chits", one of
the more interesting uses of this word by the military hasn't been
mentioned - the Blood Chit. These pieces of fabric or paper
have been used by aviators almost from the beginning of military
aviation. They usually have an American flag as part of the chit,
along with a written message in several languages asking that
the pilot be returned safely to his country or a neutral location
in the event that the pilot was downed in unknown territory.
They were sometimes worn as a patch, or carried in the pilot's
flight suit. Many may remember the John Wayne movie Flying
Tigers, where all the pilots had them sewed to the back of their
leather flight jackets. They usually offered a monetary reward
for the airman's safe return. In this case, where money was
offered in return, the blood chit would be, in effect, a
promissory note - making it a numismatic item. The best book
on these items is "LAST HOPE: The Blood Chit Story, by
R.E. Baldwin."


While looking up other things your Editor came across
a Mark Twain story titled "The Million Pound Bank Note"
The Cornell University web site displays a copy of the
story as originally published in the pages of The Century
magazine in 1893. An excerpt follows

"Step in here, please."
"I was admitted by a gorgeous flunkey, and shown into a
sumptuous room where a couple of elderly gentlemen were
sitting. They sent away the servant, and made me sit down.

Those two old brothers had been having a pretty hot argument
a couple of days before, and had ended by agreeing to decide
it by a bet, which is the English way of settling everything.

You will remember that the Bank of England once issued two
notes of a million pounds each, to be used for a special purpose
connected with some public transaction with a foreign country.
For some reason or other only one of these had been used and
canceled; the other still lay in the vaults of the Bank.

Well, the brothers, chatting along, happened to get to wondering
what might be the fate of a perfectly honest and intelligent
stranger who should be turned adrift in London without a friend,
and with no money but that million-pound bank-note, and no
way to account for his being in possession of it. Brother A said
he would starve to death; Brother B said he wouldn't. Brother
A said he couldn't offer it at a bank or anywhere else, because
he would be arrested on the spot. So they went on disputing till
Brother B said he would bet twenty thousand pounds that the
man would live thirty days, any way, on that million, and keep
out of jail, too. Brother A took him up.

Brother B went down to the Bank and bought that note. Just
like an Englishman, you see; pluck to the backbone. Then he
dictated a letter, which one of his clerks wrote out in a beautiful
round hand, and then the two brothers sat at the window a
whole day watching for the right man to give it to.

They saw many honest faces go by that were not intelligent
enough; many that were intelligent, but not honest enough;
many that were both, but the possessors were not poor
enough, or, if poor enough, were not strangers. There was
always a defect, until I came along; but they agreed that I
filled the bill all around; so they elected me unanimously,
and there I was, now, waiting to know why I was called

[So, dear readers - is Twain's report of the existence of
a million-pound banknote pure literary hokum, or did such
notes actually exist? -Editor]


This week's featured web site is The Dumbarton Oaks
Research Library and Collection. The following description
is taken from the Washington Numismatic Society web site

"Housed in a nineteenth-century Federal-style house built on
the crest of a wooded valley in the Georgetown section of
Washington, DC. Their facility is of particular interest to DC
area coin lovers because their collection of about 12,000 coins,
which forms one of the greatest specialized collections of
Byzantine coins in the world. Their publications page offers an
illustrated 67 page publication of Byzantine Coinage by Philip
Grierson that you can view, print, and download using Adobe
Acrobat?s viewer."

  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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