The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 6, Number 14, April 6, 2003:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2003, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


  Among recent new subscribers are Bill D'Atri, courtesy of
  Dick Hanscom of Fairbanks, Alaska.   Welcome aboard!
  We now have 541 subscribers.


  NBS Board member P. Scott Rubin writes: "This is good news
  and bad news.  The good news is that starting as early as later
  this year the entire collection of John J. Ford, Jr. is coming up
  for sale by Stack's and yes the library will be sold by Stack's
  and George Kolbe.  While it will take some time before the full
  impact of what is in this collection to be announced, it is my
  understanding that if you collect colonial coins or paper, U.S.
  Paper, numismatic literature, medals, or pioneer gold you will
  not want to miss this sale.  This may well be the Bushnell or
  Parmelee sale of the 21st century.  The bad news is that this
  looks like the end of the John Ford era in U.S. numismatics.
  John has been a good friend to NBS and we hope he will be
  around for some time.  But just the thought that he is parting
  with his collection is hard to take, even though I will look
  forward to the catalogues and the chance to own an item or
  two from John's library or collection.  Look for more
  information on the sales in the numismatic press."


  George Tremmel writes: "Thanks for the mention of my new
  CSA counterfeit currency book. (Actually, its length is 198
  pages, rather than 144.)

  [I ordered the book from Hugh Shull on Monday, and
  by the end of the week it was in my hands.   After only a
  short review I'm convinced it was the best $35 I've spent
  in some time.  The book is very well illustrated, with two or
  more good quality black & white illustrations on nearly every
  page of the catalog section.  The 70-page Part I "Historical
  Narrative" makes excellent reading, and the book has
  endnotes for every chapter as well as a bibliography.

  Concerning the late Doug Ball's CSA currency manuscript, it
  was a joint effort with Hugh Shull.  I believe that Hugh plans
  to complete the book and bring it to publication - certainly
  good news."

  [It's a relief and a pleasure to learn that Ball's manuscript
   may yet be published - very good news indeed.  -Editor]


  An email making the rounds of the Internet on April Fool's
  Day stated:

  "In 1977, the British newspaper "The Guardian" published a
  seven-page supplement to honor the 10th anniversary of
  San Serriffe, a republic in the Indian Ocean consisting of
  several semi-colon-shaped islands.

  Its two main islands were Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse;
  its capital was Bodoni, and its leader was General Pica.

  Few "Guardian" readers, who rang up the offices all day
  asking about the idyllic spot, noted the use of printer's

  Your Editor's first introduction to the Republic of San Seriffe
  spoof came with the publication of "The First Fine Silver
  Coinage of the Republic of  San Seriffe" by Henry Morris of
  Bird & Bull Press.  350 copies were produced, each containing
  a one-ounce serially-numbered silver proof commemorative
  coin and certificate of authenticity.  This is one book I don't
  yet have in my library, as it's pricey and not exactly in my line
  of interest.  But it sounds fun.  If any of our readers have a
  copy, could you tell us if Morris acknowledges the 1977
  Guardian article?  Is the reference to the 1977 article correct,
  or yet another Internet spoof?   Gawd, I'm confused.

  Morris also published "The Booksellers of San Seriffe" in 2001,
  which, if I'm not mistaken, includes a token of George Frederick
  Kolbe, Bookseller.

  The April Fool email seems to have been cribbed from the
  "Museum of Hoaxes" web site, which notes:

  "At the Guardian itself the island of San Serriffe became a
  running gag in the years to follow. The island reappeared on
  April Fool's Day in 1978, 1980 and 1999. Moreover, each
  time it reappeared the island had changed location. It began
  in the Indian Ocean, moved to the South China Sea, and
  ended up in the North Atlantic. "

  For amusement, read the site's list of the "Top 100" Hoaxes.
  Be sure to check out  #10, "The Predictions of Isaac Bickerstaff,"
  which was perpetrated by Jonathan Swift.

  Quick Quiz:  Who can tell us Swift's connection to American


  Bob Julian writes: "Recently there was a query about the
  mintage figures for the 1871 quarter, presumably  Philadelphia.
  The material on mintages for the Philadelphia quarters of
  1853-1873, based on research in the original registers at the
  Archives, appeared in the June 1965 Numismatic Scrapbook
  Magazine. For those not having access to this issue, the
  entries were as follows:

  January 10    36,000
  May 11        45,000
  August 3      37,200
  Plus 960 proofs.

  Total: 119,160 pieces."


  Saul Tiechman writes:  "Here are some interesting die trials
  in the Smithsonian that many people have not seen. "


  P. Scott Rubin writes: As to coins with the same design,
  but not the same dies, Alaska Rural Rehabilitation Corporation
  Tokens of 1935, listed in the Red Book, were stuck this way.
  All eight tokens.  The one Cent was not round as like the
  others but had eight sides, for another odd piece of Americana.

  Dick Johnson writes: "You are correct in surmising there are
  tokens and medals with identical designs on both sides. I can't
  speak for coins with identical sides.

  There is even a word for describing such numismatic items:
  CONSIMILAR.  Meaning both sides alike. The dies can be
  made from the same hub, model, punch or master pattern.
  American copyist and medalist James Bolen did this a lot (and
  you should hear from Bolen authority Neil E. Musante about
  these). An example of Bolen's handiwork is Musante JAB-34,
  the Double Elephant Token.

  I know of only one instance of medals from my days of
  cataloging the work of Medallic Art Company. In 1962
  sculptor John Terken (1912-1993) made one model for a
  MONY Client Service Medal (MAco 62-108).  They
  wanted both sides alike.  We could have cut a hub from a
  positive of Terken's model, then had two dies made from that
  hub. But hubbing is specialized and requires a modern
  hubbing press. Instead of owning our own hubbing press we
  always subcontracted the hubbing to one of the tool and die
  shops we worked with. So instead of having a hub made, we
  just went ahead and cut two dies from a negative die shell of
  Terken's model. We did this in our own plant on one of the
  five Janvier die-engraving pantographs we had at the time.

  [A hubbing press is a dangerous machine.  If you don't know
  what you are doing, too much pressure can cause a die to
  shatter. It sends out shrapnel in all directions. We had 1,000-ton
  presses, the worst that could happen with these is to lose a
  finger. You can get killed from a hubbing press!]

  But why would anyone want the same design on both sides?
  (Do I need to answer?  Do you always want heads to come
  up?) In Bolen's and similar cases, they used dies of similar
  diameter to create yet another specimen for you variety-
  hungry numismatists!

  Kavan Ratnatunga sends these links to interesting images of
  coins with the same obverse and reverse.  Dutch Ceilon 1660-
  1720  Wreath Series Copper Dumps and 1785 Ceylan Bonk
  bar -  Colombo VOC 4 3/4 Stuiver

  A related discussion appears on this page:


  P. Scott Rubin writes: "About the Mickley sale differences.
  It should also be noted that while many copies are hand
  priced only those with the title page stating Priced
  Catalogue were hand priced after the sale by Woodward
  or more likely his sons or employees.  The others were
  either pre-sales copies priced at the sale or after the sale
  by copying the prices from someone else's copy."


  Over 50 million historical records at the National Archives
  are available online at

  "The Access to Archival Databases (AAD) System gives you
  online access to electronic records that are highly structured,
  such as in databases. The initial release of AAD contains
  material from more than 30 archival series of electronic
  records, which include over 350 data files totaling well over
  50 million unique records. The series selected for AAD
  identify specific persons, geographic areas, organizations, or
  dates. Some of these series serve as indexes to accessioned
  archival records in non-electronic formats."

  Who knows what nuggets await numismatic researchers in
  these newly available archives?  Gentlemen, start your
  search engines!


  David Lange writes: "I've never found anything of value inside
  a book, other than the information it contained, but I have had
  some interesting finds with the coin albums I collect.  I go
  through whatever stock of old albums a dealer may have for
  sale at a show or in his shop, and it's not unusual to find a few
  lingering coins within albums that the dealer was certain were
  empty. Since my interest is in the albums alone, I always
  inform him of the find and offer to remove the coins.

  Even then, metal discs may be lurking unseen.  I once dropped
  a National brand album page for two-cent and three-cent
  pieces that I'd acquired a few years earlier. After reassuring
  myself that the corners had not been bent, I was surprised to
  discover three silver trimes projecting partway into their
  respective holes. So thin were these worn coins that they had
  slipped between the cardboard and the paper covering,
  escaping notice until the sudden jolt of hitting the floor
  dislodged them from their seclusion."

  George Kolbe writes: "Another great issue.  Over the years I
  have found a number of unusual things in books, though it is
  not a common occurrence. Thin coins, including gold ones,
  currency from many countries and eras,  and pressed plants
  and flowers are among the objects discovered. When items
  of value have been found in books sent for auction, they have
  been promptly returned to the consignor. When encountered
  in books purchased outright, disposition has varied with the
  circumstances.  Once, the seller of a very large library called
  to inquire if a very rare postage stamp had been found in one
  of his volumes. I did not find it but would have felt duty bound
  to return it if I had.  If indeed it was present in one of the
  volumes, there was a very lucky buyer.

  Perhaps the most memorable item ever found was in a nice
  library purchased years ago from a collector living alone in a
  remote town in the California desert.  It was a letter to his then
  wife complaining about the paucity of their love life. It took
  little time to determine that it was not going to be returned,
  and it quickly found its way to the circular file.

  A story about John Selden, the seventeenth century British
  scholar and numismatic author, also touches on the topic.
  Selden  used his spectacles as bookmarks, and apparently
  often forgot that he had done so.  His library was left to the
  Bodleian Library at Oxford, and when the books were
  examined by the library staff, dozens of pairs of his spectacles
  were found therein."

  Our discussion of numismatic literature deals led into a
  discussion of the larger area of numismatic transactions.  Dick
  Johnson wrote:  "When someone offers you an item in your
  specialty and it is mispriced, what do you do? Does it matter
  if this person is a professional dealer or a lay person?"

  In response, Denis Loring writes: "My personal rules are as

  Seller a professional dealer simply offering me material:
  caveat vendor.  If I can cherrypick a rare variety or an
  undergraded coin, good for me. Exception: if it's someone
  I've done extensive business with over time, I'll tell him what
  he's got, confident we'll work something out.

  Seller a lay person who has priced material or asks me for
  an offer, not knowing my specialty:  try to find a middle
  ground between ripping the person off and paying full price.

  ANYONE, whether a novice or a pro, who asks me:
  "Denis, you're a large cent specialist, are there any rare
  varieties here?":  My offer is this: I provide attribution and fair
  value gratis, and I get first refusal at a fair price for any good
  ones I find.  Especially to a lay person, I bend over backwards
  to explain to him exactly what he has and how it's valued."


  Joe Wolfe writes: "This is an article I wrote for a metal
  detecting club's monthly newsletter and thought you might
  want it for The E-Sylum also. It would demonstrate some
  of the research successful coin shooters do to find coins or
  caches and provide a little background on where those
  dropped coins come from."

  [I've edited the article a bit to cut down its size, but
  the main points remain.  -Editor]

  "One source of sites to search for old coins are tollgates on
  pre-1900s turnpikes.  The word turnpike by definition contains
  tollgates which were the collection points of tolls on the early
  Virginia roads. ... I believe people dropped coins around the
  tollgates, in the road, at the tollgate, and on the way to the
  tollkeeper's house. Remember the tolls were collected all year
  long, even during storms, snow, sunrise, and sunset. So a coin
  dropped in the mud, snow, or dark could be easily lost.

  In my research I concentrated on Fairfax and Loudoun Counties
  but turnpikes exist all over Virginia and in other states. I found
  15 different turnpikes.

  The single and best source for tollgate locations are old maps.
  Not only do they list tollgates but they show the exact location,
  the path of the turnpike, place a date on the tollgate, and often
  provide the name of the tollkeeper. All these can help to
  pinpoint the tollgate. Other sources include books, articles, and
  archives for the old turnpike companies. Archives exist in several
  local libraries and the State Library in Richmond. The State
  Library also has an unpublished manuscript on Virginia Turnpikes.
  But maps are the best and this is where I would direct you.

  Tollgates were usually authorized every five miles and were
  often located near bridges and crossroads. I assume this was
  to prevent travelers from bypassing the tollgates.  The bridge
  created a bottleneck in the road and the crossroads allowed
  tolls to be collected from everyone passing by.  Tollgates
  often changed locations as new roads opened and when the
  tolltaker changed. Often a person already living in the area
  was selected to be the tolltaker and the tollgate moved to his
  house. So the tollgate near Difficult Run might have four
  different locations, both sides of the road and both sides of
  the stream. Of course a map only shows a snapshot of the
  tollgates on a turnpike on a certain date. If an old house
  exists next to a substantial stream it may be an undocumented
  tollgate. I should mention I found the modern reproduction
  maps from various sources of data to be worse than useless.
  They seemed to place the word "tollgate" on the map where
  it was most convenient to write it.

  I have visited many of these tollgates and I am sorry to say
  many are covered by asphalt. As our use of roads developed
  the roads were widened and the tollgate covered. The
  collection point was often located right next to the road. The
  grading of the shoulders of roads also took care of many.
  The best to detect are the ones where the tollhouse still
  stands or its ruins can be found.

  One final point is there are still many tollgates around. I found
  over 50 locations in Loudoun and Fairfax alone and according
  to its annual report the Little River Turnpike, circa 1830,
  made over $100,000 in its busiest year.

  I am still searching for an untouched tollgate and have found
  only a few coins so far. The oldest was a 1773 pillar dollar
  that was paper-thin."


  Granvyl G. Hulse, Jr. writes: "I saw this joke today and just
  couldn't resist sending it on.

  A collector of rare books ran into an acquaintance who told
  him he had just thrown away an old Bible that he found in a
  dusty, old box.  He happened to mention that
  Guten-somebody-or-other had printed it.

  "Not Gutenberg?" gasped the collector.

  "Yes, that was it!"

  "You idiot! You've thrown away one of the first books ever
  printed. A copy recently sold at auction for half a million dollars!"

  "Oh, I don't think this book would have been worth anything
  close to that much," replied the man. "It was scribbled all over
  in the margins by some guy named Luther."


  Numismatic literature dealer John Burns had a table at the
  Baltimore coin show a few weeks ago.   Leaving the hall to
  meet John Kraljevich and fellow dealer Charles Davis, he
  was stopped by a panhandler who asked, "Can you spare
  something, sir?"   Well, John's not exactly the last of the big
  spenders, and sales at the show up to that point had been at
  best so-so.   So John said to the woman, "Why don't you
  get a job like everyone else?"

 "But I don't got no skills!" came her reply, and John blurted
  out, "I don't have any damn skills, either - why do you think
  I'm a BOOKDEALER!?"    Charlie nearly spewed his beer
  laughing when he heard the tale, but according to John, they
  both stopped suddenly, thinking, what are we laughing about?

  [The above was related over the phone by John Burns,
   who doesn't have an email account, but agreed to share the
  story with our readers.   -Editor]


  This week's featured web page is about the Barnstaple Shilling
  of  Barnstaple, North Devon,  "the oldest Borough Town in

  "The tradition whereby the Mayor of Barnstaple presents coins
  to the inhabitants of the almshouses and residential homes in
  the town soon after he has been elected to office probably has
  its origins in the will of Henry Gardner Tippett who died in

  "... the tradition of presenting coins to the almshouse residents
  has continued, albeit in a different form, to the present day.
  Now it is the Mayor who distributes the coins.  A sixpence
  used to be given but following the introduction of decimalisation
  and the later withdrawal of that coin a five-pence piece was

  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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