The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 7, Number 11, March 14, 2004:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2004, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


  Among recent new subscribers are Fred Maples, courtesy
  of Howard Daniel, and Dr. Robert Neale, courtesy of Gar
  Travis.  Welcome aboard!   We now  have 636  subscribers.


  Howard A. Daniel III writes: "I will be manning a club table
  at the American Numismatic Association National Money
  Show in Portland, Oregon from March 26th through the 28th.
  The table will be for the Numismatic Bibliomania Society
  (NBS), Numismatics International (NI) and the International
  Bank Note Society (IBNS), where I will be handing out free
  coins and notes to school children, promoting the societies,
  and encouraging adults to join them.

  There is no NBS meeting scheduled at the show but all
  members are invited to the Numismatics International (NI)
  meeting and educational forum on March 27th (Saturday)
  at 12 Noon where dealer and researcher of Asian monies,
  Scott Semans, will give a talk titled "Successful Formats for
  Numismatic Books."  There will also be a show and tell part
  to the meeting where you can show and describe a favorite
  book (or numismatic piece), or something you just bought at
  the show.  You can find the meeting room number in the
  show schedule.

  I will also be moderating a meeting and educational forum
  for the International Bank Note Society (IBNS) on the same
  day at 11AM in the same room as for NI.  I will be the
  speaker at this meeting where I will describe and show North
  Vietnamese Army (NVA) military coupons (much like U.S.
  Military Payment Certificates) used on the Ho Chi Minh Trail
  during the Vietnam War.  There will also be a show and tell
  at this meeting for all attendees.

  NBS members are invited to both meetings, but especially
  the NI meeting because Scott Semans will be speaking about
  his recommendations for creating numismatic catalogs.  A
  special invitation has also been made for the Chopmarked
  Coin Collectors Club and Philippines Collectors Forum to
  also attend both meetings.

  NBS members and all others are also invited to visit the club
  table and use it for leaving messages for other NBS members,
  meeting others there, or just to take a break and rest.  If an
  NBS member finds a prospective member at the show, please
  send them to the booth and I will convince them to join us, or
  at least to sign up for The E-Sylum.  If you have any questions,
  please contact me at Howard at"


  George Kolbe writes: "The last installment of Ford Library
  highlights follows. Basic cataloguing is done.  The catalogue
  should be accessible online at our web site (
  around the end of March; printed catalogues should be
  available around the end of April. Lots will be available for
  viewing by appointment here in Crestline during the April 15-18
  Early American Coppers Convention in San Diego (2 hours
  away by car). Those planning to attend the sale are advised to
  make room reservations at The Mission Inn in Riverside soon
  to secure the special room rate (see our web site for further
  details).    Sale highlights include:

  A large, outstanding selection of Western directories dating
  from the 1850s

  Other important early directories

  Important Banking Directories

  A set of The Numismatist, 1894-1974

  A fine run of 78 Mint Reports, 1878-1983

  The Battle of the Ironclads: a remarkable Civil War Memento
  from the Commander of the Monitor, Rear Admiral John
  Lorimer Worden, comprising a Leather-Bound Presentation
  volume to his cousin containing works and papers concerning
  the engagement of the Monitor and the Merrimac

  A fine collection of John J. Ford, Jr.s earliest numismatic
  publications, issued while he was a teenager.

  A file of 21 most interesting letters from Eric Newman to
  F. C. C. Boyd on various numismatic topics

  John Ford's Hardbound set of New Netherlands Sales,

  A Very Special Run of New Netherlands Sales, 1951-1976,
  featuring many of the auctioneers' and other annotated copies

  A 1945 letter from Assistant Mint Engraver Adam Pietz to
  Wayte Raymond

  Interesting correspondence concerning the 1804 dollar,
  including a 1905 letter from John Nexsen to Lyman Low, and
  an 1884 letter, 1804 dollar photograph, and ink manuscript
  sent by Ivan Michels to Lyman Low.

  A large file of fascinating early correspondence between
  Wayte Raymond and Walter Breen, dating to when Breen
  was attending Johns Hopkins in 1951

  Three superb studio portrait photographs of Thomas Elder

  A series of apparently unknown Elder photographic plates
  depicting rare early merchant tokens and political medals

  A 1946 letter from George Clapp to Henry Hines, reading
  in part: 'When my collection reaches the A. N. S., it will be
  the most complete and largest collection of the Large Cents
  " about 1600 "which has ever been made, a collection that
  today cannot be duplicated"

  A loose set of Clapp 1798-1799 photographic plates

  A manuscript by Harry F. Williams entitled: "A Monograph
  Describing the Gold Coins of Latin America and Treating of
  Their Rarity . . . For the Personal Use of Waldo Newcomer."

  1952 correspondence and other materials pertaining to a 1785
  Confederatio cent sold by James Kelly to John Ford, which
  was expertly plugged by Kelly but apparently was not disclosed.

  1951 correspondence between John J. Ford, Jr. and Walter
  Breen in which an impecunious Breen is taken to task for his
  grooming: "It seems that you have ignored my repeated warnings
  about your personal appearance- everything from keeping the
  hair cut; daily shaving; clean nails; and last but not least, clean,
  pressed clothes. Walter, you are a product of a rough,
  unfortunate environment and you must rise above it."  Breen's
  response begins: "Since when do your associates-or whoever
  it is-employ stool pigeons?" Despite such fusillades, the
  correspondence makes it clear that, despite their frustration,
  both men respect each other.


  Archivist Joseph M. Ciccone of the American Numismatic
  Society writes (in an email notice): "I am happy to announce
  that the ANS Archives has launched a new website at:
  ANS Archives.  The site is designed to
  serve as visitors' portal to the Archives' collections.  A
  left-hand navigation bar contains links to resources and a
  "moment in ANS history" segment that will be updated
  monthly.  Our plans call for the addition of other resources,
  including an online catalog of the Archives' collections and a
  revamped history of the Society."


  Howard A. Daniel III writes: "About ten years ago, I met Fred
  Maples, one of my wife's staff.  His wife had told him something
  about me so Fred started his conversation about being a
  collector when he was a child and was thinking about collecting
  again.  I asked Fred where he was from and he answered,
  "Bowling Green, Kentucky."   Several years before meeting
  Fred,  I heard about Bowling Green being a great city to collect
  their national bank notes.    So I told Fred about national bank
  notes and suggested that he look into collecting, researching and
  writing about them, and attending the International Paper Money
  Show in Memphis to buy the notes and to meet the primary
  dealers and collectors knowledgeable of them.

  Fred followed my suggestions and his first of six articles about
  Bowling Green bank notes was published in the current issue of
  the "Bank Note Reporter."  Since Fred lives in Gaithersburg,
  Maryland, he is now considering writing a reference on Maryland
  national bank notes, and has already started a database of them.
  I told him about NBS and The E-Sylum as a society and
  newsletter that will assist him in his research, so he requested
  that I have him added to the mailing list with his email address
  of J.Fred.Maples at  And if any of you know
  about Maryland national bank notes or references and articles
  about them, please contact Fred."


  Gar Travis writes: "It is my pleasure to recommend Dr. Robert
  "Bob" S. Neale, a friend, to receive The E-Sylum newsletter.
  Bob is author of the 1999 book The Bank of Cape Fear of
  Wilmington, North Carolina - A History of North Carolina's
  First Antebellum Bank and it's Paper Money, Branches, Key
  Personnel, and Local Impact (ISBN-0-9673815-2-5). Bob,
  a retired university chemistry professor, is an ANA member
  and past president of the Lower Cape Fear Coin Club of
  Wilmington, North Carolina."


  David F. Fanning writes: "Those of us who are members of
  the Central States Numismatic Society recently received a
  ballot for the upcoming election. Along with that, we're
  being asked to vote on an amendment slightly changing the
  CSNS mission statement. One clause struck me:

  "to promote greater popular interest in the science of

  Tell me an NBS member didn't write that! I doubt anyone
  else would know that $50 word!"


  Bob Fritsch writes: "While researching some Swiss stuff, I
  ran across a reference in an 1880 work [Henseler, A.;
  "Antoine Bovy, Sa vie et ses principlaes oeuvres." 1880:
  Fribourg] cited minimally as "Frey, Munzbuch page 459."

  Has anyone heard of this work, and more to the point,
  does anyone have one for sale?  We can postulate that
  this "Munzbuch" ["Coin Book"] was a standard (common?)
  reference in Europe that was published sometime before
  1880, and that it was a large volume containing illustrations
  (gleaned from the text).  If Page 459 dealt with Switzerland
  the book was big.  But, since the reference was to an
  independent coinage of Geneva (again from the reference)
  then this book was huge.

  I would appreciate any help that my fellow inmates of the
  E-Sylum may offer."

  Bob also posted his query to the COINS mailing list, and
  Andrew Sound located this listing in an online bookseller's

  "Description: FREY, Xaver & BLASER, C. Munzbuch,
  oder Abbildung der Kursirenden Geldforten; mit genauer
  Angabe: ihres Gehalts in Franzosischer alter und neuer,
  und in Deutscher Bezeichnungsweise...Nebst einer Ubersicht
  der wichtigsten Rechnungsmunzen. 823pp. , profusely
  illustrated with 965 double-sided coins, 4 large folding tables
  (scattered foxing throughout).  Thick 8vo, neatly rebound in
  plain black leatherette with no lettering. Bern: Harald Blom,
  1856. text in German and French. Very scarce work which
  compares the values of coinage of the world."


  In prior E-Sylum issues, we have mentioned the Million Book
  Project at Carnegie Mellon University - see v6n10, March 9,
  2003.   Ed Snible writes: "Numismatic titles downloadable
  from the Million Book Project now include:

  Numismatic Chronicle (1872, 1897, 1902, 1907, 1909,
  and 1913)

  Catalogue Of The Coins In The Indian Museum Calcutta

  Catalogue Of Coins In The Provincial Museum Lucknow.
  Vol. I. (1914)

  Catalogue Of Coins In The Panjab Museum, Lahore
  Vols. I and II. (1920)

  Gold And Silver Coins Of Sultans Of Delhi (1974)

  Kakatiya Coins And Measures (1975)

  A Catalogue Of The Ikshvku Coins In The Ap Govt Museum

  Carnegie Mellon University's Million Book Project hopes to
  have one  million titles available for download by 2005.
  Fourteen scanning centers in India have scanned 50,000 titles
  as of January 2004.  The project hopes to reach its goal by
  expanding to 100 scanning centers, each operating two shifts a

  Million Book Project (
  Million Book Project (Carnegie Mellon)

  The Project plans to have eventually have OCR for every title.
  [OCR = Optical Character Recognition.  This takes an image
  and figures out what the letters and words are, so the document
  can be searched.  -Editor]

  The titles I tried did were not searchable.  Scanned quality of
  text was high, although sometimes tilted.  Unfortunately the
  photographic plates are low quality.

  (Thanks to Adam Philippidis for some information)."


  Dick Johnson writes: "First, Darryl Atchison should be
  thanked publicly for asking the questions he did about the
  Hill and Janvier reducing machines in last week's E-Sylum.
  This is so important to the technology of die making for all
  types of struck numismatic items. Numismatists should
  have a basic understanding of engraving, dies, die making
  and die striking. Most don't. Darryl, thank you for asking
  about something so important!

  I have been studying die-making equipment for 35 years,
  since I was hired by Medallic Art Company in 1966.  I
  stood in front of the three Janvier die-engraving pantographs
  in MAco's New York City plant for hours marveling at this
  ingenious mechanism. And when the plant moved to Danbury
  in 1972 and we had more room, the firm acquired four
  more reducing machines as these came on the market.

  I have tracked the history of this vital mint equipment to
  discover the ingenuity of one man - Victor Janvier (1851-
  1911).  Imagine inventing a piece of equipment that every
  mint in the world HAD to have. He developed, literally, a
  money-making machine. And the mints of the world beat a
  path to his Paris workshop after he patented it in 1899 to
  acquire his machines. He, of course, was not the first, but he
  developed the most advanced and successful die-engraving

  In all, there have been 22 people, firms and mints who had
  a part in developing this equipment throughout history.  It
  has gone through five stages. The first stage was little more
  than a rotating drill (with a string bow like a Boy Scout
  starting a fire). It was used for cameo cutting.

  The second stage applied peddle power to the fixed drill or
  cutter (peddled like an old sewing machine) for early die cutting.
  In the third stage water or steam was added as the power source
  and devices were cut in dies and lettering would, of course, have
  to be added later with punches.

  Here you have Matthew Boulton using these machines at his
  Soho Mint and when his partner, James Watt, retired, he made
  refinements to Boulton's machines.  The nationalities of the
  machinists who made improvements were French, British,
  Belgian and later, German. The U.S.Mint first had a French
  Contamin pantograph in 1836, which was replaced by a
  British Hill machine in 1867, and the French Janvier in 1906.

  By the third stage it was a 'controlled milling machine' to
  cut dies. The pattern had to rotate in sync (synchronization)
  with the diestock being cut, both revolving on separate axis.
  Both the tracing point and the cutting point start at the center.
  A problem existed, however, that as the tracing point widened
  its circular path, the cutting point revolved at the same speed.
  Janvier recognized that the tracing point should slow down
  and the cutting point should speed up because it also was
  cutting a greater path, it was doing more work.

  Janvier solved this problem mechanically with twin cone belt
  drives with the cones pointing in opposite directions. One belt
  controlled the rotating axes, the other belt carried the variable
  speed to the spindle controlling the cutting point -- as the
  tracing point tracked a wider circle Janvier's mechanism
  increased the speed of the cutting point. It worked!

  That mechanism in pantographs he manufactured made
  Janvier wealthy but not famous.  Today national and private
  mints know the name Janvier for their die-engraving
  machines, but few others outside mint historians even know
  his first name (Victor) and what he actually accomplished.

  Today we are in the fifth stage of this machine. Modern
  die-engraving pantographs are so sophisticated, they can raise
  or lower relief, they can flip a design in contraposition (a left
  facing portrait can be changed to face right), they can also
  alter the slope of the background - metalworkers call this
  'camber' - a basin background can be flattened, or a flat
  background can be given a slight basin shape. But most
  important - all the detail in the pattern can still be reduced
  and cut into the die in direct proportion to each other.

  There is a saying among medalmakers - "if it's in the model,
  it's in the medal!"  Thanks to the die-engraving pantograph,
  but thanks mostly to Victor Janvier.

  Will there be a sixth stage of this miraculous machine?  If so,
  the United States Mint will certainly put it to use.  U.S. Mint
  information officer Michael White told me this week the Mint
  has several milling machines in house they are studying. A
  feasibility study is also under way, he says, for the possibility
  of laser cutting of dies.

  Stay tuned. Die cutting science is not over yet!"

  [The March 16, 2004 issue of Numismatic News contains
  a Viewpoint article by Michael P. Lantz about a group of
  Janvier reduction machines built at the Denver Mint in 1969.


  George Kolbe writes: "A lot in the June 1, 2004 Ford Library
  auction sheds light on mint engravers and their activities.  It is a
  February 2, 1945 letter from Adam Pietz, Assistant Engraver
  at the Mint from 1927 to 1946, to Wayte Raymond. The early
  text responds to Wayte Raymond's inquiries concerning "dies
  made in 44," and "the metal all the recent issues were struck in."
  Pietz also expresses dissatisfaction with conditions there:
  "Strange as it may seem to you, under this present gang, we
  are not allowed to have a strike of any coin, we engrave or
  design, so I will look up my records to give you the various
  metals." Pietz thanks Raymond for a referral, and asks him to
  "please tell Dr. Driggs not to have a competition, as then some
  favorite will surely take the award.  As my time for retirement
  has been extended to 6 mo. after the war, I am naturally getting
  ready to conduct my own business again. During Nov & Dec.
  I received a great many calls to engrave coats of arms on signet
  rings, book plates etc. and it just about makes one break even.
  The disgraceful salary at the Mint would not keep me.  Art and
  years of experience does not mean a thing here."


  David F. Fanning, Editor-in-Chief of the NBS print journal
  The Asylum, writes: "I thought you might like to know that I
  have been accepted as a member of the Numismatic Literary
  Guild, largely due to my work on The Asylum. I know there
  are a number of NBS members who are also members of the
  NLG, and I'm pleased to be one of them now."


  Time has not allowed the opportunity to write at length
  about several great items published elsewhere in the
  hobby press, but I wanted to take a moment to note the

  Fred Reed is doing a prize-winning job as editor of
  Paper Money, the official journal of the Society of Paper
  Money Collectors.  Several special-topic issues,
  increased advertising, and membership growth have led
  to the publishing of ever-larger and always interesting
  issues.  If you have any interested in paper money,
  consider joining.  See the organization's web site at

  NBS Secretary-Treasurer W. David Perkins has a
  great article in the Spring 2004 issue of The Civil War
  Token Journal about an amazing collection of Civil War
  Store Card tokens assembled shortly after the war
  ended and kept intact for over 130 years.

  E-Sylum contributor John Kleeberg has an article
  in the March 1, 2004 issue of Coin World (p58)
  laying out his reasoning in concluding that F.G Hoard,
  Knight & Co., and Star Mining gold ingots are false.
  The article includes an extensive selected bibliography.

  The Numismatic Sun has risen, courtesy of American
  Numismatic rarities and Q. David Bowers.  Issue #1
  includes an article by Dave on U.S. Presidents and
  Numismatics, some fun quizzes, and oh yes, some
  great coins and books for sale as fixed prices. Way
  to go, Dave!


  It's still possible to visit U.S. Mint facilities, but it takes
  advance planning.  An article in a recent issue of The
  Denver Post notes that the "Denver Mint still producing
  cash, but not many visitors."

  "As recently as three years ago, the U.S. Mint in Denver
  was one of the city's biggest tourist attractions.   With
  colossal rolls of metal, whirring conveyors and stamping
  devices that spit out coins at a dizzying rate, it left a vivid
  impression on visitors -- most of whom waited their turn
  an hour or more in a line that often stretched around the
  block, rain or shine.

  "There's something [fascinating] about being in the Mint
  and actually hearing the noise, smelling the oil and feeling
  the vibration of the machinery," says tour guide Dick Igel.

  But since the 2001 terrorist attacks, security has trimmed
  the number of visitors to several hundred a month -- all of
  whom must receive clearance weeks in advance.

  Now it appears that the Mint never may be open to same-day
  visits, a prospect that dismays local officials who consider the
  century-old building a part of the nation's heritage and a hook
  that brings people downtown.

  The continuing restrictions also disappoint walk-up tourists
  who don't realize they must obtain reservations through a
  congressional office at least two to three weeks before a tour."

  "Ironically, while the Treasury Department limits visitation to the
  coin factory in Denver and the Mint in Philadelphia, its
  paper-money plant in Washington -- the Bureau of Engraving
  and Printing -- welcomes hundreds of walk-up visitors every

  Even the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument are
  open to  same-day visitors."

  To read the full article, see: Complete Article


  Ronald Thompson writes: "Regarding "Just Publish It Already"
  - most of us should follow the slogan or motto "Progress not
  Perfection" and we will accomplish so much more.  That of
  course doesn't mean what we should be slap-dash in our efforts.
  However, most of us are too concerned with others opinions
  of ourselves and our work to really accomplish much."


  Bob Fritsch writes: "In response to the STAMPS PICTURING
  MEDALS topic blurb, let us not forget the Vietnam Service
  Ribbon of 1979 (Scott 1802).  While not a medal, it is a
  military decoration and deserves recognition as such.

  Decorations can come as medals, which have an associated
  ribbon for the everyday uniforms; and ribbons, which are
  recognitions for service rendered, and are worn as "lesser" or
  lower rank awards on the "fruit salad" ribbon set.  In the Navy
  on formal occasions when medals are to be worn, the actual
  medals are worn on the left breast of the uniform, while the
  ribbons are worn on the right breast.  I do not know how the
  other services wear theirs."


  Ronald S. Thompson writes: "Regarding Pet Peeves - I agree
  that price guidelines are very useful for the bidder.  I think they
  are a great service by the cataloguer along with the lot
  descriptions since most bidders will not be able to personally
  view the  lots.  I assume that the dealers who don't include price
  guidelines hope the bidders will overbid without them or think
  it is the bidders obligation to know the value.  I know that
  catalogues without price guidelines are not my favorites and that
  I tend to bid more often when price guidelines are present."

  Philip J. Carrigan writes: "As to auction catalogs and their
  inclusion of a bibliography and estimates:  I see more catalogs
  with the biblio and very few with estimates.  The point of
  helping someone learn about attribution systems or bidding
  values is noble.  My view is either or both of these elements
  are nice to include in a sale catalog but a collector is best
  advised to avoid learning either varieties or prices from a
  catalog or via the bidding route.  If one doesn't recognize the
  meaning of an 'O-101' with a listing of US Bust halves or
  know what to bid, one needs to read (only) more sale
  catalogs, find a good agent and sit in the auction room with
  catalog but without a bidder number.  This and other means
  will prepare the collector to ultimately BID.  Also, estimates
  are not needed when popular and well-chronicled series are

  Darryl writes: "Your points are well taken, Phil.  However, your
  advice would seem to have a novice collector watch and learn
  and wait until he is a more experienced (i.e. knowledgeable)
  collector before actually buying anything.

  Recently, I was reading a catalogue on American paper currency
  - not U.S.  Federal issues.  Every state seemed to have its own
  attribution system but no where in the catalogue could I find any
  reference actually telling me who catalogued the notes of Missouri
  (for example).  How helpful is this to the novice???"

  Anyhow, thanks for your comments.  Hopefully there will be


  Dick Johnson notes: "There is a brief article in Up Front section
  of Business Week (March 15, 2004, p14) which quotes Mint
  Director Henrietta Holsman Fore that lower demand for
  circulating coins has reduced the Mint's vigorish (read
  seignorage).  To replace this lost income, she is courting coin
  collectors to sell more numismatic items.  How about more
  significant themes  - the Thomas Edison silver dollar is an
  excellent example - and more beautiful coins like the Dolley
  Madison silver dollar?"


  Michael Bates, Curator of Islamic Coins at the American
  Numismatic Society writes: "A new Yahoo! group has just
  been formed to discuss coin photography.  To join, go to
  Yahoo Coin Photo Group"


  Ronald S. Thompson writes: "The USA Today article on
  counterfeits and the article on exploding twenties may be
  related.  If there really is an RFID tracking device in the new
  twenties it should make them easier to separate from the
  fakes and therefore result in more counterfeits being found.
  However, I microwaved one new twenty for 60 seconds
  without any burning."

  OK, so who else tried microwaving some cash after last
  week's story?  Fess up...

  Joe Boling writes: "Regarding the web article on RFID tracers
  in banknotes, you will note when examining the illustrations with
  the article that they did NOT have the new notes - most of the
  notes are the 1996-2003 series, with only three or four being
  the 2004 series (and one of those did not react). Not wanting to
  find a conspirator in every wallet, I propose that it is the metallic

  components in the ink that are reacting to the microwaves.  It
  has long been known that US notes include magnetic (or
  magnetizable) inks. Based on the pre-1996 $20 I have that
  shows starvation of one of the ink fountains, I don't believe the
  portrait includes the magnetic ink, but it surely comprises the
  most concentrated deposit of black ink on the entire note, and
  if there are metallic ingredients in it, the reaction to microwaves
  could be predicted to match that experienced by "Dave and

  As for the euro notes, I can't find the E50 note that I have lying
  around here someplace, so I can't examine it for an RFID in the
  security thread, but I'd rather expect to find that there is a joint
  in the thread, or some other feature of its visual and electronic
  properties that would react with microwaves, rather than an
  RFID device (which I suspect has not been miniaturized to that
  level yet - for instance, where is the battery?). "

  [Actually, I don't believe RFID tags require a power source
  of their own - they pick up energy from the radio waves
  emitted by the RFID reader. -Editor]


  On the heels of last week's item comes another tale of money
  in a microwave - perhaps there is a real trend happening
  out there.  An article in the March 11, 2004 issue of the
  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette begins:

  "These kinds of counterfeiters aren't likely to keep U.S.
  Secret Service investigators up late.

  First, one of them accidentally torched $400 worth of fake
  $20 bills in his microwave oven trying to improve their

  Then, when he and his buddy tried to pay for food at a
  restaurant drive-through at The Waterfront with two fake
  $20s, the cashier became suspicious and called police.

  To read the full article, see: Full Article


  Kavan Ratnatunga writes: "There is a 9-page article in the
  April 2004 issue of Playboy magazine about the famous
  1933 double eagle, with  very interesting details of the sting
  operation which netted the coin for the government.  I'm not
  sure if it has been published before.  Anyway it's a legit reason
  to buy the issue to read the article :-)

  It begins: "Curse of the Double Eagle : It's the world's most
  desired coin: Millionaires, crooks and kings have all loved
  and lost an ultra-rare 1933 gold piece known as the
  Saint-Gaudens double eagle. Stolen from the U.S. Mint nearly
  70 years ago, it flipped from one rich man's pocket into
  another's until the Secret Service finally nabbed it in an
  undercover sting operation.  But could our government resist
  the chance to profit from this $7.5 million anomaly?"

  I also found this article, which is about how his lawyer got the
  U.K. dealer off the hook.  UK Article


  Last week we mentioned the money stash left behind by
  President Aristide on his hasty exit from Haiti.   David
  Lange writes: "I have my own numismatic tale relating to
  the recently ousted President Aristide.

  In 1994 I was living near San Francisco and serving as
  president of the California State Numismatic Association.
  I was also serving with Don Kagin as the numismatic
  representatives on the M.I.N.T. Committee (Maintain and
  Improve a Numismatic Treasure).  This committee was
  formed by San Francisco's mayor and California's senators
  to reopen and revitalize the recently closed Old San
  Francisco Mint Museum.

  For one meeting at city hall I arrived about a half hour early
  and was asked to have a seat in the mayor's outer office
  waiting room. I was alone there, but just a few moments
  later two black men arrived and sat down nearby. They
  conversed briefly in French, which suggested to me they
  were probably from one of France's former colonies. One
  of the men, who was carrying a two-way radio and various
  other gadgets, was soon motioned inside the mayor's office,
  leaving me alone with the other fellow.

  It was at that moment I recognized my companion in the
  waiting room as President Aristide, who at that time was
  beseeching the USA to restore him to the presidency to which
  he'd been elected a few years earlier but from which he had
  been recently forced to flee for his safety. There were
  countless death threats against him at the time, as well as
  demonstrators both pro and con in the streets of San
  Francisco and other American cities.

  We spoke briefly, just the sort of polite conversation one has
  with strangers in such awkward moments. A few minutes later
  he was gestured to come inside the mayor's office, while I was
  asked to be patient during this slight delay.  Just as he
  disappeared, some of my fellow committee members began
  arriving, and I got caught up in our M.I.N.T. discussions.

  It was only after I left the meeting a few hours later that I
  realized I'd had a brief brush with history.  No one had frisked
  me or sought proof of my identity.  I was not asked to wait
  outside in the hallway. I was simply left alone with this seemingly
  marked man.  Had I been an assassin I would have had no
  trouble completing my mission.

  In this age of terrorism I imagine things would go differently
  today.  There would be security all around him to keep
  strangers like me away, but such was not the case ten years

  [Well, you just never know where an E-Sylum item will
  take us.  We have a well-travelled group of readers.


  Herb Friedman writes: "I just got around to putting some
  propaganda banknotes from my collection on the Internet:

  World War II Allied notes: Allied Notes

  World War II German notes: German Notes"


  Bob VanRyzin writes: "The following may be of some interest
  to your readers, as I've noticed past discussions in The
  E-Sylum concerning Panamint.   Below is from the March 8
  online version of the "Nevada Appeal" concerning a plan to
  sell the Ponderosa Ranch, Incline Village, Nevada.

  According to the article, the original idea of a name for the
  Cartwright ranch on the old "Bonanza" TV series was

  [See The E-Sylum v4n47,48,53 (2001) and v6n2,31 (2003)
  Panamint Balls were conceived in the days of the old West:
  "When mines shipped bars of silver from the West coast
  they were frequently stolen enroute. Their solution was
  brilliant: Cast the silver into balls large enough no one
  person could lift."   -Dick Johnson, E-Sylum v4n47,
  November 18, 2001.   -Editor]

  "The impending deal to sell the 548-acre Ponderosa Ranch
  to a consortium of government agencies has generated shock
  and surprise from people all across the country.

  The ranch, which was built by longtime Incline Village resident
  Bill Anderson in 1968, is based on the setting of the popular
  TV Western "Bonanza," which ran from 1959 to 1973.

  While few scenes from the show were shot at the ranch itself,
  the producers made good use of the surrounding property,
  featuring Lake Tahoe as its centerpiece.

  David Dortort, the man who created ''Bonanza' in 1959, said
  that the idea to shoot locations in the North Shore area was
  essential to his vision."

  "Joan Markowitz worked for Dortort when he was developing
  the pilot for 'Bonanza,' and was instrumental in a key component
  of the show.

  "I named the ranch," Markowitz said from her Apple Valley,
  Calif., home.

  "David was writing the script in long hand and I was typing it
  for him," Markowitz said. "One morning at about 3 a.m., David
  and some of the other people involved in the project starting
  arguing about the name of the Cartwright ranch. David was
  calling it 'Panamint' (an obscure mining term.)

  "Finally, I blurted out that the show was about this big, strong
  like-a-tree man who was surrounded by trees on his property.
  So I suggested, name the ranch after the trees. Call it
  Ponderosa,"   Markowitz said."

  To read the full article, see: Full Article


  On March 8, an Associated Press story outlined the plight
  of printed encyclopedias in the online media age:

  "These are lonely days for encyclopedias.

  At libraries, the volumes sit ignored for days on end as
  information-seeking patrons tap busily away at nearby

  "In the Internet age, encyclopedias are gathering dust, and
  most families with young children don't even consider buying
  the space-hogging printed sets anymore. Even digital versions
  struggle for attention.

  Michael Gray's home computer came pre-loaded with Microsoft
  Corp.'s reference software, Encarta, but the seventh-grader
  from Milpitas, Calif., has never used it. He prefers doing
  research online, where information from a vast array of sources
  comes quickly and, for the most part, for free.

  Like many students, his first Internet stop is Google.

  "I find information really fast," Gray says, smiling proudly.
  "Within five to 10 minutes, I find a good (Web) site to work

  "Students all want to use the Internet, librarians say, though
  younger ones sometimes get lost in the sea of information on
  the World Wide Web.

  "Half of them want to jump on the computer and are not even
  sure what they want to look up," said Sue Krumbein, a middle
  school librarian in Menlo Park, Calif. Krumbein's rule: Students
  first must complete book-based research to narrow their
  questions before surfing the Web."

  To read the full article, se: Full Article


  On March 11 the Associated Press published a story about
  a Georgia woman who claims she thought the $1 million bill
  she tried to pass  was real.

  "A woman who tried to use a fake $1 million bill to buy
  $1,675 worth of merchandise at Wal-Mart said it was all just
  a misunderstanding - she thought the bill was real.

  "You can't keep up with the U.S. Treasury," said Alice Pike,
  speaking from jail.

  Pike, 35, was arrested last week at the Wal-Mart. The bill
  was a novelty item that can be bought at gag shops. "

  "Pike told police she got it from her estranged husband, who
  is a coin collector."

  To read the fully story, complete with images of the bill
  (and the woman's mug shot), see: Story with Picture
  Len Augsberger was the first E-Sylum reader to report
  the story - here's another online version: Version 2


  Some genuine U.S. currency turned up in a strange place
  this week in Fairview Township, PA.

  "Friday, two men robbed a bank in Lower Allen Township,
  Cumberland County. Police caught up with suspects in a
  motel in Fairview Township, and it took one suspect hours
  before he surrendered to police.

  Wednesday, some of the stolen money was discovered in an
  unlikely location.

  The toilet in a room at the Keystone Inn, where Aaron Easton
  and Jonathan Penn had been staying, was clogged until recently.
  ...   The root of the toilet problem was unlike anything motel
  owner Nick Patel expected."

  "Patel estimated his crew discovered about $200 stuck in the
  toilet's pipes. Most of it was ripped $10 bills."

  "Police in Lower Allen Township said this is an on going

  To get the down-and-dirty on this breaking story, see: Full Story


  This week's featured web site is suggested by David Menchell.
  He writes: "Just wanted to make you aware of an interesting
  website.  The National Maritime Museum in London has a
  variety of items dealing with England's legacy as a naval, military
  and commercial power.  They have a range of material, including
  documents, artwork, and maritime artifacts.  Of particular interest
  to numismatists is a collection of roughly 3000 coins and medals.
  Each item has a web page devoted to it, with extensive
  descriptions, historical information, and excellent obverse and
  reverse images.  You can set up personal "galleries" to include
  only those items of particular interest.  Pictures of each coin or
  medal can be ordered online.  I was impressed with some of the
  Betts items listed, including some early and rare Dutch Caribbean
  medals, two (!) medals commemorating Sir Francis Drake's
  circumnavigation of the earth ca. 1589., and a large number of
  other victory and peace medals."
  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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