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.
BIBLIOPHILE BABY BOOMLET!!
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.
NBS MEETS MAY 8 AT CENTRAL STATES
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."
LITERATURE DEALER BURNS SHOW SCHEDULE
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."
PERKINS VISITS ANA MUSEUM
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."
1851 CRYSTAL PALACE EXHIBIT CATALOGUE SOUGHT
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."
SMITHSONIAN NUMISMATICS HALL CLOSING
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
"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
REACTION TO NUMISMATIC HALL CLOSING
[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.
SMITHSONIAN MEDAL EXHIBIT ARTICLE
[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."
PRINCETON LOOKING FOR COIN CURATOR
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" "
SMOLNY MEDAL AND PLATINUM IN NUMISMATICS
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)."
BOWERS AND SUNDMAN NEW HAMPSHIRE PROJECT
"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
FALSE WESTERN BARS SITE CREATED
[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."
1870 SAN FRANCISCO MINT CORNERSTONE COINS
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
NUMISMATICS AND RIOTS
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."
NUMISMATICS' GREATEST MISNOMER: CARBON SPOTS
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!
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
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
SO WHY ARE THEY CALLED EAGLES, ANYWAY?
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
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
DELAWARE COLONISTS FACED SPANISH COUNTERFEITS
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
MEDAL STRUCK ON CARSON CITY COIN PRESS NO. 1
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
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."
FEATURED WEB SITE
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
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
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