The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

PREV        NEXT        V7 2004 INDEX        E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 7, Number 16, April 18, 2004:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2004, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


  Among recent new subscribers are Doug Taylor of California,
  courtesy of Gar Travis, and Cindy Grellman, courtesy of Fred
  Lake.  Welcome aboard!  We now have 655 subscribers.


  Asylum Editor-in-Chief David Fanning and his wife, Maria,
  are happy to report the birth of their son, Samuel James, on
  Tuesday morning, April 13.  He's their first. All are doing well
  and are very, very tired. Those ordering from David's recently-
  published numismatic literature list are asked to understand if
  their order takes a couple extra days in reaching them.

  The following evening, April 14th, E-Sylum editor Wayne
  Homren and his wife Dee welcomed their new daughter,
  Hannah Grace.  She joins her big brothers Christopher and
  Tyler.  All are also well, but tired.


  Numismatic Bibliomania Society President Pete Smith reminds
  us:  "There will be an NBS meeting during the Central States
  convention in Milwaukee, WI.  The meeting is scheduled for
  Saturday, May 8, at 1 PM in room 202E.

  Scheduled to appear is Neil Shafer who may talk about
  research he did in DC for the Philippine books."


  Numismatic literature dealer John H. Burns writes: "I will be
  setting up at the Warrensville, OH coin club show April 23-25
  and the Chicago International show April 29-May 2."


  NBS Secretary-Treasurer W. David Perkins writes: "I was
  in Colorado Springs this morning, Sunday, April 18th and
  stopped by the American Numismatic Association
  headquarters at noon.  They have a brand new exhibit now
  open on the lower level of the museum.  Thus I may have
  been the first person to "officially" see this exhibit.  I viewed
  the Amon Carter 1794 Dollar, two 1804 Silver Dollars, two
  1913 Liberty Nickels, three 1866 "No Motto" Patterns
  (quarter, half dollar and silver dollar) and a $100,000 bill to
  boot.  I also noted they have many more parking spaces
  marked "Visitor" these days, a welcome change."


  Geoffrey Bell writes: "I have been looking for an original copy
  of the exhibit listings for the Crystal Palace exhibition of 1851
  in London, England. I collect medals related to this exhibition
  related to Canada. Engraved on the edge of the exhibitor
  medals are "Canada # 29" for example. If I had the catalogue,
  I could match the medal to the exhibitor's name. Perhaps one
  of our readers could help me locate the book requested."


  Gar Travis and Dick Johnson forwarded an Associated Press
  article about the impending closure of the Smithsonian's
  Numismatics Hall at the Museum of American History in
  Washington, D.C.:

  "The world's largest collection of money and medals will be
  closed to the public this summer after 40 years, the National
  Museum of American History announced Friday.  Selections
  from the 1.6 million coins, medals and pieces of paper money
  are shown in the museum's Numismatics Hall. The collection
  will remain open to scholars and will make loans to other
  museums after the closing, set for August.

  The collection includes 700,000 pieces of money issued by
  the Confederacy during the Civil War, and feathers from the
  rare, gaudy quetzal bird, once used for money in Central

  "The decision to close the hall is part of a reorganization
  undertaken after an official panel criticized the museum's

  "The original design scheme of separate subject halls will be
  updated as the museum moves to thematic presentations,
  reinterpreting collections in a narrative format," the museum
  said in a statement announcing the closing.

  Spokesman Melinda Machado said that, for example, an
  exhibit on the American military will include a section on
  how the Revolutionary War was paid for."

  To read the full article, see: Full Article


  [Gar Travis sent the following Letter to the Editor of the
  Washington Post in response to the news of the closing
  of The Smithsonian's Numismatic Hall: -Editor]

  "The world's largest collection of money and medals will be
  closed to the public this summer after 40 years, the National
  Museum of American History announced Friday."


   Obviously the Smithsonian has failed to capitalize on the recent
  "boom" in the American coin market. Better management of its
  educational offerings would have apparently preserved its status
  among American museums, as it was quoted in a recent article
  that; "The decision to close the hall is part of a reorganization
  undertaken after an official panel criticized the museum's
  organization." Perhaps it is time for the United States Mint and
  The Bureau of Engraving and Printing to step up to the plate to
  preserve this most educational of American museums. Auction
  houses, coin shows and Internet auctions are active and drawing
  yet more collectors and numismatic enthusiasts into the hobby.
  What type of message will the closing of the National
  Numismatic Collection send to these who are eager and willing
  to learn?   With this closing, the youth of America will be limited
  in their hands on experience of learning about the great coins of
  the past which drove the economy, making our nation a global
  capitalist power. Barter items, ancient coins and world currencies,
  all of which are equally important to the numismatic community
  will also disappear from view. Those who have traveled far to
  see the museum's numismatic rarities will be limited to viewing
  similar pieces in smaller museums scattered all over the country.
  The only bright spot among coin museums however will be the
  American Numismatic Association Museum, though
  geographically it is far from the strongly populated eastern
  United States. Even were the Smithsonian to electronically
  catalog and make coins and currency viewable on the Internet,
  there would be the loss of experience to travel to our nation's
  capital to see other historical venues.   It was reported that some
  of the collection would be loaned to other museums, but likely
  the rarest coins will never again see the light of day or be
  admired by future generations of collectors.   Write your
  Congressmen, write your Senators - this closing must not be.


  [The following article by Katie Heinrich is reprinted with
  permission from the American Numismatic Association's
  "Your Newsletter," a weekly email magazine for young
  numismatists, edited by Education Director Gail Baker

  New Smithsonian Display of Medals
  by Katie Heinrich

  Some pieces of art in the Smithsonian Institution are
  admired by almost everyone and looked at by nearly each
  visitor that steps through the door. One of these such pieces
  is Thomas Moran?s painting titled ?Grand Canyon of the
  Yellowstone?. This huge landscape, one of the largest
  paintings on display, looks as if you might be able to simply
  walk out into the surrounding beauty. Though some works
  of art receive such high regard, others have never even been
  seen by the public eye, lost to the immense storage of the
  Smithsonian. One of these groups of hidden art is that of the
  commemorative medals. In bronze, copper, silver, or gold,
  many of these medals are utterly spectacular, full of
  eye-catching design that is the work of talented artists. Then
  again, some of these flat, circular hunks of metal are very plain,
  with no creative flair at all. Yet, because of a most generous
  donation of ten million dollars from the Luce Foundation
  (which was established by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder
  of Time Inc., in 1936), many of these medals will go on
  display for the first time. The majority of them have never
  been seen by the public. This fantastic exhibit will be on
  display when the Smithsonian American Art Museum
  reopens in 2006, after the renovation of the Patent Office

  Many medals feature important places or people, figures of
  mythology, or scenes of figurative meaning. One to be
  displayed, the fiftieth anniversary medal of the United Parcel
  Service, bears the portraits of the founders upon the obverse
  and a 1930s UPS delivery truck on the reverse. This UPS
  medal, along with the William Saunders mining achievement
  medal, is the work of sculptor Anthony de Francisci. Francisci
  not only produced a number of medals, but also designed the
  U.S. Peace Dollar (minted from 1921 to 1935). Many artists
  who produced commemorative medals did so for various
  organizations and societies. They sometimes had a difficult
  time constructing true works of art because of the strict
  regulations that the commissioning committees often set down.
  The majority of the time artists would be required to put a
  portrait of a specific person on the obverse of the medal but
  were given a little more freedom in designing the reverse.
  Because of this, the back of medals are often much more
  imaginative and symbolic.

  The museum's officials hope to attract new visitors with the
  new exhibit of medals. They would also like it to invite frequent
  visitors to come to the Smithsonian with a new interest in mind.
  But some officials truly anticipate that the display will draw
  numismatists and art historians that have never been to the
  museum before. Medals produced before the 1940s are much
  more appealing to the eye than the ones created after World
  War II. Still, artists were able to create beautiful works of art
  on many medals."


  Dick Johnson writes: "Princeton University Library is looking
  for a curator of coins in their library. The position is half-time.
  The present curator, Dr. Brooks Levy, is retiring at the end of
  June. She may be contacted at Special Collections, Princeton
  University Library, 1 Washington Road, Princeton, NJ 08544
  -2098 or "Brooks E. Levy" "


  J. Moens of Dilbeek, Belgium, writes: "In the last E-Sylum,
  one of your readers asked where he could find a picture
  of the medal struck for the construction of the Smolny
  Cathedral completed in 1835."
  [An image of the medal was included. -Editor]

  "It is taken from a bronze medal, offered in an auction by
  World Wide Coins of California.  Please note that this medal
  is also known in platinum, but it is almost certain that this
  off-metal strike was made in Paris in 1859, by French
  scientists who were able to melt platinum, provided by the
  Russian government.  It is proven that the Paris Mint struck
  38 medals in platinum in that year, using dies from the Saint
  Petersbourg Mint.  Melting platinum had been impossible up
  to then, and was certainly so in 1835.  Readers who are
  interested in a numismatic history of platinum, may request a
  copy of an article I published on the topic last year (only
  available in Dutch)."


  "Early Paper Money: History and the Marketplace" by Q.
  David Bowers and David M. Sundman was published in the
  April 2004 issue of M.A.D. magazine - the Maine Antique
  Digest, that is. The article discusses U.S. Colonial notes,
  Continental Currency, Bank Notes, Collecting Paper Currency.
  The article concludes with a segment on "The New Hampshire

  "Focusing on the interest of the authors of this article, the New
  Hampshire Currency Study Project, being conducted by Q.
  David Bowers and David M. Sundman, has been gathering not
  only examples of New Hampshire bills themselves for study or
  purchase but also old correspondence, historical data, ledgers,
  and more. The New Hampshire State Historical Society has
  been an important contributor to the research, as have state
  and local societies and libraries and many individual collectors.
  The Smithsonian Institution and the National Archives have
  made available their data.

  It is anticipated that the work will be published in a few years
  under the imprint of the Society of Paper Money Collectors
  and will include just about everything anyone ever wanted to
  know on obsolete paper money and National Bank bills of
  New Hampshire, plus a lot of esoterica no one ever dreamed

  To read the full article: Full Article


  [John M. Kleeberg forwarded the following press
  release about a new website.  I've eliminated
  biographical sketches for brevity, and, not wanting
  to fan the flames of the "Great Debate" controversy
  any further, I've also edited out a section "naming
  names" of the alleged forgers.  Readers are referred
  to the web site for more detailed information. -Editor]

  "Dr. John M. Kleeberg and Professor T. V. Buttrey have
  established a website, entitled "How the West was
  Faked."  Its web address is: "How the West Was Faked"

  The website comprises a large essay by Dr. Kleeberg
  (also entitled, "How the West was Faked") and the
  first of several shorter essays by Professor Buttrey.
  Professor Buttrey's essays discuss the bars ostensibly
  from the "Brother Jonathan" shipwreck, the bar
  supposedly made by the "Duke of Carlisle," and the
  false Mexican gold bars.  Dr. Kleeberg's lengthy essay
  may be conveniently downloaded as a PDF file.  Dr.
  Kleeberg and Professor Buttrey intend to add to the
  website as their research progresses."

  "In a preface introducing the website and the essays,
  Dr. Kleeberg and Professor Buttrey write:

  Over half a century and more a variety of false gold
  ingots purporting to derive from the 19th century
  West, as well as from 18th century Mexico and Arizona,
  have appeared on the market.

  The ingots have been sold directly to collectors, or
  offered at auction by various dealers. The largest
  single collection of this material was assembled
  privately by Josiah Lilly, who believed them to be
  genuine. These are now owned by the nation, as part of
  the numismatic collection of the National Museum of
  American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington.

  This series of essays clarifies the origin and history
  of the false bars as a phenomenon, and more
  particularly of certain types of the bars whose
  fraudulence can be demonstrated in detail. There is
  also a discussion of the false prooflike $20s,
  allegedly made by the United States Assay Office of
  Gold in 1853, from the "Franklin Hoard"; these are
  traced to the same two forgers.

  The essays will also consider the unhappy effect that
  this false material has had not only on collecting but
  on serious study and scholarship."


  Richard G. Kelly & Nancy Y. Oliver  write: "It is always great
  to have feedback concerning articles submitted to numismatic
  forums, and we appreciate the time Mr. Luedeking took to do
  just that in the recent E-Sylum concerning our article on the
  cornerstone coinage of the Second San Francisco Mint.  We
  feel it necessary to respond to his comments on the existence
  of the 1870-S quarter dollar mentioned in the warrant.  We
  would like to say that we believe very strongly that the quarter
  placed in that cornerstone is indeed dated 1870.  The reasons
  for this include the following evidence:

  First, the newspaper details, describing the contents of the
  cornerstone, were originally sent from the Superintendent of
  Construction, William P.C. Stebbins, to the newspaper offices
  specifically to be placed into each newspaper.  We have a
  copy of a letter, sent to the Supervising Architect, A.B. Mullett,
  from Superintendent Stebbins, letting Mullett know exactly what
  was to be put into the newspapers concerning the cornerstone
  contents.  In addition, during the cornerstone ceremonies, this
  information from Supt. Stebbins was repeated in detail by
  Masonic tradition.  In the letter, Supt. Stebbins specifically
  states that "I have sent several of the daily newspapers, giving
  the full account of the ceremonies in detail, to which I desire
  to call your attention."  What was stated in the newspapers
  concerning the cornerstone coinage (sent from Supt. Stebbins)
  was, "One of each denomination of the several coins of the
  United States of America, all struck off at the San Francisco
  Branch Mint in the year 1870."

  Secondly, there is documented evidence, as stated in our
  article in Coin World, that quarter dollar dies dated 1870
  were available to be used to make a quarter for the
  cornerstone, so why use any other year's quarter dollar die?
  Besides, by May of 1870, the previous years dies would have
  already been defaced.

  Thirdly, any cornerstone or time capsule would traditionally
  contain artifacts of the year of placement if at all possible,
  and in the case of coins, the exact year of same.

  Lastly, why would the San Francisco Mint go to the trouble
  to make sure that a $3 gold piece, with the 1870 date on the
  reverse,  was properly stamped with the mintmark "S" (the
  die had arrived in San Francisco without one).

  In conclusion, of course we do not have absolute 100%
  proof of the date of the coinage in the cornerstone without
  seeing it for ourselves, but government documents give us
  plenty of reason to believe that all coinage within that
  cornerstone is dated 1870.  The federal government has
  always been very meticulous in justifying it's expenses and
  detailing its expenses and that is exactly what was done in
  1870 in San Francisco.  We agree with Mr. Luedeking that
  the "exhumation of the bronze (copper) casket and its
  delightful contents" would be the only way to have absolute
  proof of the dates on the coinage, but until that time comes,
  all known records very strongly suggest they are all dated
  1870. "


  Last week's quiz question about numismatics and riots
  brought some responses this time.  John Burns writes:
  "Off the top of my head I seem to recall a medal struck for
  the Haymarket riot in 1893.  Also, I recall  that it was a
  relic medal in having a piece of shrapnel from a bomb
  embedded in it."

  Marilyn Reback, Senior Editor of NUMISMATIST,
  writes: "In reply to your question on numismatics and riots,
  the item that first came to mind was a medal issued by the
  Chicago Policemen's Benevolent Association to mark its
  centennial in 1968. The medal shows the police monument
  dedicated to officers killed in the Haymarket Square Riot of
  May 1886.  It is pictured and described in Ed Rochette's
  "Other Side of the Coin" column in the May 1998 issue of

  Searching online, I found another riot connection. In April
  2001, the Oklahoma Medal of Distinction was awarded
  (rather belatedly) to survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot."


  Dick Johnson writes: "Eric von Klinger?s article in April 13th
  Coin World, ?Qualifiers: A Guide to Lingo,? perpetrates one
  of the most erroneous terms in all of numismatics --

  Carbon is not involved in these surface finish anomalies and the
  process is not oxidation (so often described as the chemical
  process). The culprit is sulfur and the process is sulphatization.

  Carbon spots are found inside diamonds [inclusions from
  imperfect pressure during formation millions of years ago] ?
  not on the surface of coins and medals. The proper term in
  numismatics should be ? SULFUR SPOTS.

  These dark brown to black spots appear on both copper
  (including bronze) and silver coins (including silver clad).
  These are formed, not with contact with carbon, but contact
  with sulfur from the environment. The sulfur comes from any
  variety of sources. The curing of rubber, for example, includes
  sulfur by vulcanization (thank you, Charles Goodyear!). Thus
  rubber should never come in continuous contact with coins and

  Sulfur is also used in some manufacturing processes of paper.
  This is why coins tone in certain paper envelopes. Anti-tarnish
  tissue is made without any sulfur at all.

  Sulphatization is a greater problem for the field of frescos than
  coins and medals. Here a sulfur atom replaces a carbon atom,
  physically changing the plaster UNDER the pigments of the
  paint. In numismatics at least our sulfur problem is on the
  surface of the metal, where it can be treated.

  More evidence is color. When carbon reacts with copper ?
  as copper carbonate ? the resulting substance is blue-green!
  Not brown-black.

  Here is an experiment you can do yourself to prove the villain
  is sulfur, not carbon.  Take any uncirculated coin, bronze or
  silver. The commonest source of sulfur for most people in
  daily life are elastic rubber bands where sulfur was used in its
  manufacture. Place the coin on top of the rubber band so it
  stays in physical contact undisturbed for weeks at a time.
  After months you will see a black line where the continuous
  contact was made, the sulfur reacted with the copper or silver
  to form copper sulfate, or silver sulfate.

  Do something similar with carbon. Place in contact with an
  uncirculated coin any form of carbon ? diamond, coal, pencil
  lead ? and leave for the same time.  Nothing will happen!
  Try to speed up the chemical reaction by introducing oxygen,
  water, heat, pressure or whatever. It will still yield the same
  result, nothing.

  In the finishing of high relief medals, as applying a ?French
  finish,? sulfur is the good guy. An active chemical containing
  sulfur is used to purposefully apply a darkening to the surface
  of bronze or silver medals. With the use of ammonium sulfide
  this takes place in seconds!  Medals totally immersed in this
  chemical must be withdrawn within ten seconds and
  immediately washed with water to stop the chemical action!
  (Then the medals are relieved to produce a two-toned visual

  I am not a chemist or physicist. And if we have any of these
  scientists among our subscribers I would welcome your


  Lou Jordan of the University of Notre Dame writes: "The
  following e-mail question was sent to me today.  I do not
  know the answer but thought someone on this list may have
  some relevant information.  Can you please post this question
  to The E-Sylum and also post any replies?   The e-mail
  question follows:

  Dr. Jordan:
  In your research of American coinage, have you found any
  text that explains why the word "eagle" was selected to
  define specific gold coin denominations mentioned in Section
  9 of the Act of April 2, 1792?  Thank you for your time and


  An article in the Delaware Coast Press, which I assume is
  based on government records, recounts a 1688 court case
  involving false Spanish pieces of eight.

  "Thomas Kanes listened patiently as the words of the indictment
  echoed across the Lewes courtroom. In March, 1688, it
  was charged that Kanes did "...wickedly and feloniously spread
  and disperse abroad among the good and peaceable subjects of
  our Lord the King several pieces of coined money being not
  only false coin, but false metal, on purpose to deceive, cheat
  cozin and abuse the good and peaceable subjects of our said
  Lord the King." The charge having been read, Kanes rose,
  held up his hand, and confidently pled not guilty."

  "In a colonial town like Lewes, which contained a small number
  of merchants, the lack of a steady supply of currency was a
  problem. To supplement the English pounds and shillings, the
  people of Lewes used tobacco as a medium of exchange.
  Prices were sometimes reckoned in pounds of tobacco; and the
  courts figured fines in terms of tobacco."

  "In addition to tobacco and English currency, the Lewes
  colonists also used whatever foreign money that came their way.
  Among the foreign coins were numerous "pieces of eight."

  "The hand-made appearance of the coins also made them
  susceptible to counterfeiting; and in 1688, this brought Thomas
  Kanes to the Lewes court."

  The story of the trial and aftermath is detailed and interesting,
  and I won't spoil the ending by including it here.   To read the
  full story, see: Full Story


  An April 3rd article in the Reno Gazette-Journal reports
  "a new, limited edition silver medallion commemorating the
  100th anniversary of the Wahoe County Library System,
  Nevada's first public library, is scheduled to be minted April
  23 on the Nevada State Museum's historic Coin Press No. 1
  in Carson City."

  "In honor of the library's centennial year, the Nevada State
  Museum has created a limited edition commemorative collector
  medallion with the ?CC? mintmark.

  The one-ounce medallion features an image of the original
  Carnegie Library on the front and Coin Press #1 on the reverse."

  To read the full article (and learn how to order on of the
  medals, see: Full Article

  For more information on Coin Press No. 1, see: More Info

  "Manufactured by Morgan & Orr in Philadelphia, who
  created many of the steam-powered coining presses then
  in use throughout the world, the first six-ton press arrived
  at the Carson Mint in 1869. As was the custom of the day,
  it was painted with a large "1" to signify the first press
  located in the corner's department.

  On February 11, 1870, this press struck the first coin
  bearing the soon-to-be-famous CC mintmark, a Seated
  Liberty dollar.

  For nearly a quarter of a century it was used to strike
  most of the larger denomination pieces produced during the
  years the mint actually produced coins, from 1870 to 1885
  and again from 1889 to 1893."

  For information on touring the Carson City mint building,
  see: Carson City Mint Tours


  Arthur Shippee forwarded a link to the following story,
  which was noted in the Explorator newsletter.  It reports
  new research on the subject of the U.S. Sacagawea dollar.

  "Famed American Indian guide Sacagawea?s near-fatal
  illness during the Lewis and Clark expedition may have
  been the result of a miscarriage, two scholars believe.

  History professors Peter Kastor and Conevery Bolton
  Valencius of Washington University said the explorers'
  extensive journals from their 1804-06 westward
  expedition offer clues -  through euphemisms common
  at the time - indicating Sacagawea may have become
  ill while pregnant.

  'We can't tell for sure, we'll probably never really know,'
  Valencius said Friday."

  More Info


  This week's featured web site is that of  "Encased Collectors
  International, an on-line club, [which] exists for the purpose
  of advancing the knowledge and the field of encased coin
  collecting. ECI is dedicated to the promotion, discussion and
  dissemination of facts and ideas about encased coinage, both
  domestic and world-wide.  ECI exists as a vehicle to bring
  collectors of both foreign and domestic encased coinage
  together in a professional and relaxed atmosphere where they
  can exchange information, display photos and engage in lively
  debate about encased coinage."

  Encased Collectors International

  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        V7 2004 INDEX        E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

NBS Home Page    Back to top

NBS ( Web