The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 6, Number 22, June 1, 2003:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2003, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


  Among recent new subscribers is Margaret LaCugna.
 Welcome aboard!  We now have 560 subscribers.


  Tom Fort, editor of our print journal, The Asylum, writes:
  "Good News/Bad News.  First the good news. The Spring
  2003 issue of The Asylum should be in the post and some
  people may even be receiving it as they read this. The
  contents are as follows:

  "'Guard this one with your life':  W. Elliot Woodward's
  Ninety-Second Sale," by David Fanning

  "A Union of Three Numismatic Scholars,"
  by  E. Tomlinson Fort

  Candidate Bios for the 2003 Election of Officers for
  the Numismatic Bibliomania Society

  "Letters to the Editor"

  David Fanning's lengthy article is an in-depth look at a rare
  sale (only 12 copies are known today) by one of the late
  19th century's leading coin dealers.

  Now the bad news. As usual, we need material for future
  issues.  If anyone out there has been thinking about sending
  us material I urge you to please do so.  If you have questions
  about submissions please do not hesitate to contact me.

  I have heard through a couple of sources that I have not
  printed or acknowledged material that people have sent me.
  This may be because I have not received it.  I changed post
  boxes some months ago and my old post office is not always
  good about forwarding mail.  If you send something to me
  and do not hear back please contact me via e-mail.  My
  address is Etfort at

  Also, I shall be breaking a perfect record of nonattendance
  of ANA conventions this summer at Baltimore. I should
  be there Friday and most of Saturday.  Please feel free to
  come up and give me stuff there or ask questions."


  George Kolbe writes: "The remarkable American numismatic
  library formed by John J. Ford, Jr. will be offered for sale by
  Stacks' and George Frederick Kolbe, starting with a major
  public auction in Southern California in early June, 2004, and
  in one or more sales thereafter.  The June 2004 sale will
  feature the most outstanding works in the Ford library,
  including famous American coin auction catalogues with
  photographic plates, classic books and periodicals, unique
  coin inventories, photographic records, etc.

  In many respects, the Ford library promises to eclipse the
  landmark Harry W. Bass, Jr. and Armand Champa library
  sales. Though perhaps not as complete in some respects,
  the overall condition of the library is essentially unimprovable,
  and the importance of the many annotated works in the library
  and their famous provenances will combine to make the Ford
  library sales a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. More details
  will follow when available."

  [Have any of our readers visited Ford's library over the
  years?   We'd love to hear your stories.  George's comment
  about completeness probably results from Ford's devotion
  to numismatic content.  In building his library, if a particular
  sale didn't have any significant numismatic content, he was
  happy to be without it.  He did not pursue complete runs
  for completeness' sake.  He was also a fanatical stickler for
  condition, and often he would ask for second or even third
  copies of every new catalogue until he found one he was
  satisfied with.  -Editor]


  Charles Davis writes: "Alan Grace is still very much working.
  I had an email from him in early April saying that he was going
  to be in Devon for 6 weeks at a family reunion (must be one
  Hell of a family if it takes 6 weeks).  He should be back by
  now and may be reached at gbindings at"

  When I confirmed with him that it was OK to publish his
  email address, Alan replied: "Yes, we are still bookbinding
  and still doing numismatic books. We have been bookbinding
  here in Jacksonville, Florida.  We were in St. Simon's Island
  before that.  We are still busy and getting older."


  W. David Perkins writes: "B. Max Mehl's offer just got
  topped, from $50 to $1 Million for a 1913 Liberty Head
  Nickel (Five Cent Piece):

  [David sent a copy of an article from USA Today dated
  May 27, 2003, titled "Liberty Head or tail, you win
  $1 million" -Editor]

  "A New Hampshire coin dealer is offering $1 million for
  a 1913 Liberty Head nickel that has been missing for at
  least 40 years.  In 1913, the Buffalo or Indian nickel
  replaced the Liberty Head, but five illegally minted 1913
  Liberty Heads surfaced in the 1920s.  Two are in private
  collections and two are in museums, but the fifth is
  unaccounted for.

   "It's all about trying to find the coin," says Paul
  Montgomery, president of Bowers & Merena Galleries
  of Wolfeboro, N.H., which is offering the reward."

  [It was only a matter of time before someone resurrected
  Mehl's publicity gambit, but the missing 5th nickel is a
  new twist.    And as with all widely-published accounts of
  rare coins, they draw a lot of crazy stories out of the
  woodwork.   An Associated Press story out of Bend,
  Oregon recounts the story of a man who claims to have
  had the missing nickel at one time.

  "If John Finney is right, no one will ever claim the million-
  dollar bounty offered by a New Hampshire coin dealer
  for a rare 1913 Liberty Head nickel.

  The Bend, Oregon man believes the coin vanished under
  tons of concrete when his mother's girlhood home in Sparks,
  Nevada was razed in the early 1960s to make way for a
  freeway overpass.

  Finney says his uncle, Geno Questa, began collecting coins
  as a youngster and obtained the nickel in the 1920s. He says
  Questa hid the coin in the home from his seven brothers and
  sisters. But when he went to get it, it was gone.

  Finney's mother, Evelyn, says she remembers finding it as a
  little girl. She thinks she may have splurged on ice cream."

  For the full story, see:


  The Real Dave Bowers forwarded a publication of the
  American Antiquarian Society, which included an item
  about the society's updated online catalogue of its
  extensive collection.   They call it ISAIAH, for
  Internet Sources for Access to Information on American
  History.  Over 350,000 records are included in the index.
  I would invite all researchers on American numismatic
  topics, especially colonial era numismatics, to submit their
  favorite search terms and see what turns up.  One never
  knows what treasures await.  For example, a talk at the
  recent American Numismatic Society Coinage of the
  Americas Conference (COAC) discussed two previously
  unreported specimens of 1792 quarter patterns among the
  collections of the New-York Historical Society, where
  they resided for decades generally unknown to
  numismatists.     One quick ISAIAH search uncovered a
  entry for a 1705 document by the governor of Massachusetts:
  "His Excellency, Joseph Dudley Esq. ... A proclamation. :
  Whereas Her Majesty by her royal proclamation, for
  settling and ascertaining the current rates of foreign coines,
  in Her Majesties colonies and plantations in America"

  The catalog resides at:


  David Sklow, ANA Historian and NBS Secretary-Treasurer
  writes: "I can shed some more light on George W. Bowers.
  He was a member of the ANA, having joined in September
  1926 from West Virginia as member # 3042, he then became
  a life member in February 1928 # LM 27. He died in 1944."


  George Fuld writes; "I noted the comment about the leather-
  bound Raymond book on gold--I had one in my library sale
  along with other Raymond rarities.  These came from C. J.
  Edgar of Long Island, who purchased them from John Ford
  from the Raymond estate.  These included bound interleaved
 copies of the Standard Catalog (about ten made of most years).
  All publications of Raymond were represented, including
  auctions.  You can glean some from the 1971 Katen sale of
  my library.    Oh for the good old days--most at $5 per


  Bill Swoger writes: "Regarding Joseph Mickley, I'd like
  to add another story:  In September of 1777, when the
  British under Lord Howe were moving on Philadelphia,
  John Jacob Mickley, grandfather of our Joseph, organized
  a wagon train and gathered therein the large bells that were
  to be found in Philadelphia.

  These were conveyed first to Allentown, and then to
  Bethlehem, where they arrived on September 23rd, thus
  saving for posterity the "Liberty Bell" that would be depicted
  on a half dollar less than a century and a half later.  John
  Jacob Mickley, Jr., Joseph's father, then a lad of 11 years,
  rode in the wagon with the "Liberty Bell" from Philadelphia
  to Allentown.  He died on April 1st, 1857, just 12 days shy
  of his 91st birthday."


  Dick Johnson writes: "It was announced Wednesday this
  week, May 28, that the Government of Australia has 2,500
  Centenary Medals from two years ago that have not been
  bestowed.  They ordered too many.

  More than 15,500 Australians got their medals, issued for
  the 100th anniversary of the first Parliament of the Australian
  Commonwealth, albeit two years late.   Officials cannot find
  300 others who were entitled to receive theirs -- but what is
  concerning officials at the Government House in Sydney are
  the 2,500 medals they have on hand.

  It cost the Australian Federal Government A$21 each, so
  these unbestowed medals cost A$52,458.  The news article,
  written by Fleur Anderson, stated "The Opposition said the
  award system was a fiasco." It termed these "wasted
  centenary medals."

  Well, this retired art medal dealer in America has a suggestion
  for the Australian Government:  Sell these medals worldwide!
  Save out the 300 for replacement or finding the lost awardees,
  but sell 2,200.

  Offer these to medal collectors, Australian history buffs, recent
  Australian tourists, and pure Australiaphiles, on the world
  market. I am certain there are that many potential buyers in
  America alone.

  Also -- and of far more importance! -- with that many medals
  overhanging the market, their value will never increase on the
  secondary market. Yes, your 2001 Centenary Medal must
  ultimately come on the collector market (present owners
  cannot keep them forever!) they will be sold whether it is this
  year or a hundred years from now.  Collectors and museums
  are the obvious custodians of these historically important art

  By completely dispersing the entire issue immediately makes
  everyone's medal worth more.  Particularly the 15,500 who
  received the medals officially.  At the instant all medals are
  completely dispersed, then market forces kick in and demand
  must confront supply. But don't keep that unsold supply on
  hand or nobody wins."

  [What to do with remaining supplies of medals has always
  been a quandary.  What were some of the more creative
  ways of disposing of an overage?   One tactic is to pretend
  it doesn't exist, or even lie about the issue being "sold out".
  After making a public offer to buy back the medals, the issuer
  then offers a new supply for sale at a higher price.  Classic
  price manipulation, but one way to coax more money out of
  collectors' pockets.  This is what happened with the Scott
  restrikes of the Confederate Half Dollar.  Does anyone
  happen to know who first revealed this story, and where it
  first appeared in print?  -Editor]


  Dave Bowers writes: "I am enclosing herewith a ?fun? item
  from the Portsmouth Journal, Saturday, October 18, 1879,
  sent to me by a research friend, Richard Winslow, III.  This
  is simply an out-of-town press release, and this instance from
  New York City, run as a filler in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
  Although I haven't done so, no doubt the sale would be
  quickly identifiable by checking a few of the prices:

  ?Collectors of coins in this city, will be interested in knowing
   that at an auction sale in New York last week a cent of 1799
  sold for $52; one of 1806, for $33; one of 1795, for $25;
  one of 1811, for $23.50; one of 1796, for $19.50; one of
  1823 and 1809 for $15.  A twenty-cent piece of 1874,
  brought $18; one of 1877 for $5.10, one of 1878 for $4.50"


  This week's featured web page is from the Coin Facts
  web site, on the subject of the New York Theatre penny.
  "The New York Theatre Penny was issued in London circa
  1796 by Skidmore as part of a series of Penny tokens
  depicting various buildings of architectural importance.
  Although the coin is more properly a part of  the British
  so-called "Conder" tokens, the New York Theatre Penny
  has become a "must-have" item for U.S. Colonial coin

  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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