The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 7, Number 21, May 23, 2004:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2004, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


  Among recent new subscribers are NBS member Jeff
  Reichenberger, Bob Hawes, courtesy of Ron Benice,
  and Ed Reiter.  Welcome aboard!  We now have 664


  On Tuesday, Larry Gaye wrote: "Rob Retz passed away last
  evening at about 6:30 pm.  He was with his wife Margaret,
  daughters Nikki and Angela and other members of his family
  at home where he passed away in his sleep.  I know you will
  all share in the loss and be joyful of his time with us.  I have
  known Rob since 1982 and my life is much richer because of
  him, I will miss him and he will be missed by a lot of folks."

  Later, Rob submitted the following bio: "Rob Retz of Portland,
  Oregon was an avid numismatist and collector of numismatic
  material. He was a member of Early American Copper Society
  (EAC) and Colonial Coin Collectors Club (C4) together with
  other local and regional clubs.

  He sold by private treaty a complete Connecticut copper
  collection and was assembling a spectacular Fugio collection as
  the seed for a book he was writing, Fugios were his true love.
  The book will be completed by several folks. I always knew if
  I had a question on Colonial or Pre-Federal coinage he was the
  go-to guy.

  Rob knew colonial and pre-Federal coinage like the back of
  his hand.  He worked with many folks in the hobby to research
  these areas including but not limited to Eric Newman.  He was
  a collector of stories as well and could go on for hours about
  historical numismatic sales and personages. To listen to his
  stories about Walter Breen and others was a joy.

  Most of all, he was a friend to a lot of folks inside and out of
  the numismatic community. His knowledge and wit will be

  Rob will be buried on May 26, the service will be held at
  St. Charles Boromeo Church in Portland at 7:00 pm .


  The latest issue of our print journal, The Asylum has
  been hitting member mailboxes.  Bill Murray writes: "As
  usual The Asylum makes for wonderful reading.  My faulty
  memory does recall some of what I read in Out on a Limb
  some years ago, and appreciate the updating provided.
  Speaking of Out on a Limb, for those of you unfortunate
  enough not to have ever seen that House Organ published
  by Ken Lowe and Myron Xenos, it was interesting and
  always fun to read."


  Fred Lake writes: "This is a reminder that our sale #74
  closes in one week on Tuesday, May 25, 2004 at 5:00

  You may view the sale at Lake Books

  Bids may be submitted by email, fax, or telephone in
  addition to regular mail."


  David F. Fanning writes: "Here's another question for The
  E-Sylum:  Does anyone know when Walter Breen served as
  editor of MANA News? That's the journal of the Middle
  Atlantic Numismatic Association. Thanks!"


  [Last week's email glitch prevented the following submission
  from begin published until today.  This is a first of a two-
  part article.  -Editor]

  Dick Johnson writes: "On the occasion of the COAC
  Conference Saturday, May 15, 2004, at the American
  Numismatic Society's new building I asked for, and received,
  permission to view the Library.  I found librarian Francis
  Campbell -- ?Frank? to everyone! -- surrounded by hundreds
  of boxes of books, perhaps five or six hundred still to be
  opened and contents placed on shelves.

  Yet there were thousands of books already on shelves.
  ?How many boxes did it take to move all these books??
   I asked. ?Approximately four thousand? Frank said. Any
   part of the library still at the old building?  No.

  The library occupies two floors, five and six, of the Society's
  building at 140 William Street in deep lower Manhattan. The
  library is named for its most consistent supporter, it is now
  known as the Harry Bass Jr. Library, and the bronze plaque
  with relief portrait is already installed, visible immediately as
  you step off the elevator.

  Harry Bass was honored for his more than $4,000,000
  generosity to the library, while he was on the Society's council,
  as president, and until his death in April 1998. His influence will
  be felt well into future years, particularly for funding the library
  database (like he funded the periodical NIP database). Access
  to this began in 1997, where the online catalog contains the
  library's full holdings. See: NIP database

  As I stepped into library on the fifth floor I have entered the
  John J. Ford Jr. Reading Room.  This thanks to the generosity
  of the Ford family.  The dedication ceremony of this Ford
  Reading Room was held two days earlier, May 13th. After
  weeks of work the first books brought into this room had filled
  many of the shelves in time for the ceremony.

  The shelving is the first thing you notice as you enter this room.
  The lighting is the second. Both are brand new, and both more
  than adequate. Good choices by the planners. The library
  retains the use of movable shelving, like in the old building up
  at Audubon Terrace. Movable shelving can accommodate
  about one-third more shelf space than fixed shelving,
  according to Frank.

  Rows of shelves occupy both sides as you enter the room.
  One fixed shelf is on the left of a row of seven movable shelves.
  With an easy twist of the black-armed controls one entire shelf
  unit ? or the entire row of seven! ? can move easily and
  noiselessly along the tracks in the floor. In two seconds
  thousands of pounds of books are shifted for easy entrance to
  the desired shelf.  With adequate overhead lighting the titles of
  books, even on the bottom shelf, are easily seen.

  Unlike the old library, Frank pointed out, all pamphlets and
  auction catalogs are on open shelves.   These used to be in
  rows of black filing cabinets if you remember those. Now these
  unbound gems are still in the well-marked file folders but now
  reside in six-inch wide plastic trays on open shelves. This
  section of the library is in the far left corner.

  Frank's office is adjacent to this. He pointed with peevish pride
  to the window in his office that he can keep an eye on these
  pamphlet shelves. What used to be called by the library term
  ?vertical files? now occupy six shelf units each 40" wide (the
  end one is 36") with six shelves high. Perhaps 140 shelf feet of
  these pamphlet files with an equal number on the opposite side
  of that shelving row.

  The end results, after more than four years of planning, exhibit
  this effort was well worthwhile.  The floor layout of offices and
  shelving location are ideal. But the planning included even the
  box labeling. Each box was identified with codes as to the floor,
  the ?origination? ? where it came from ? and the destination,
  where to put it.  ?F5" was the code for the fifth floor.

  On this floor are all the numismatic books. The journals and
  nonnumismatic books are destined for the sixth floor. New
  technology is influencing some of shelf locations as well. A
  cabinet just outside Frank's office will contain audio-visual
  items, cassettes, CDs, videos and microfilm.    Readers for
  each of these are planned to be nearby.

  Overhead will be cameras for security, Frank noted.

  Perspiration was pouring off his brow as we talked.  He had
  been working six days a week to effect this move and
  restocking the shelves. The move had commenced in March.

  ?How many books does the library have?? I asked.  ?We are
  still using the figure 100,000,?   Frank said. And then with a big
  smile, ?Maybe in the future someday we will count every one!?

  Next week: The sixth floor and the Rare Book Room."


  Peter Koch writes: "I had the distinct pleasure of attending the
  John J. Ford, Jr. Reading Room Dedication the evening of
  May 13th at the American Numismatic Society's new home
  at 140 William Street located in New York City's historically
  rich Lower Manhattan.

  Everything about the balmy spring evening was a pleasure.

  A generous spread of food and beverage was laid out for all
  to enjoy-judging by the paltry remains, enjoy we did.

  Following welcoming and speaker remarks and a warm,
  eloquent presentation by Ford family members everyone was
  invited to ride to an upper-level floor. As elevator doors open
  you're greeted by a wall-mounted bronze plaque denoting
  the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Library. Large double doors open to
  an impressive space. Entering this handsome room, which
  essentially occupies the entire floor, the eye immediately
  catches straight ahead high on a far facing wall, the exquisitely
  executed dimensional serif letters in all caps on two lines:

  Everything's new. Oak tables down the wide center aisle are
  flanked by tall fixed bookcases to the left and matching
  "Spacesaver" bookcases that glide effortlessly on flush-mounted
  floor rails to the right. The fit and finish, right down to the
  architectural oak trim and molding is superb.

  I'm told this is the most finished floor in the building.
  Renovations to other floors continue apace.

  You are some five/six floors above the street and sidewalk
  din below. Within this environment, from the state-of-the-art
  ceiling lighting to the carpeting, you are secure, comfortable
  and inspired to research. John can be mightily proud.

  Visitors were well prepared to record the occasion. Caught
  by the moment, cameras seemed to pop-out from everywhere.
  ANS Board members and others demonstrated a saintly
  patience. In particular the Ford family could not have been
  more gracious in holding for "just one more" attractive group

  This is a grand building--with huge potential! The world
  famous Financial District of Lower Manhattan is a tireless,
  energetic hub of activity on any given day. The volume of
  pedestrian traffic is premium. New York City remains high
  on the priority list for international travelers. Consider the
  renewed initiatives to expose numismatics to a wider audience.
  Fully operational, 140 William Street will be a valuable
  world-class resource for members and visitors from

  ANS has positioned itself well for the future."


  Ed Reiter writes: "The new issue of the Numismatic Literary
  Guild Newsletter is just going in the mail, and members should
  receive it within the next few days. This issue will be of particular

  interest to many members because it contains complete rules
  for our 2004 Writers' Competition. Those rules are already
  posted on our Web site -- and it occurred to me that since
  there is considerable overlap between our membership and
  your subscriber list, it might be a good idea to post an item on
  The E-sylum alerting those members to the online availability
  of the rules. That might give them a little extra time to prepare
  their entries. All entries must be received by June 21, so time
  is obviously of the essence."

  [The NLG is a separate organization from NBS, but as Ed
  notes, there is a lot of overlap in our organizations.  For more
  information on NLG and the Writer's contest, see their web
  site at: NLG.


  This week Reuters reported that: "A collection of long-lost
  papers giving a rare glimpse into the private life of Sherlock
  Holmes' creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was sold at auction
  in London for almost $1.7 million Wednesday.

  The sale took place against the against the backdrop of the
  bizarre death of a leading Holmes expert, who had opposed
  the sale and was found strangled two months ago."

  "Correspondence with Winston Churchill, Oscar Wilde and
  Theodore Roosevelt were also included in the sale.

  "Richard Lancelyn Green, a former chairman of the Sherlock
  Holmes Society and vociferous opponent of the sale, was
  found garroted with a shoelace in his London home two
  months ago.

  Lancelyn Green had become increasingly agitated and worried
  for his safety in the days before he died, an inquest into his
  death heard. The coroner in the case recorded an open verdict,
  meaning he did not conclude how the scholar died."

  To read the full story, see: Full Story

  [Several Sherlock Holmes stories have numismatic connections,
  which we're discussed before in The E-Sylum.  -Editor]


  In response to last week's mention of master counterfeiter
  Mark Hofmann, Ed Snible writes: "Hofmann was the subject
  of at least three books: "Salamander: The Story of the Mormon
  Forgery Murders";  "A Gathering of Saints: The True Story
  of Money, Murder, and Deceit"; and "The Mormon Murders"."


  Regarding the new book based on interviews with Hofmann,
  Becky Elizondo writes: "I read with interest the May 16, 2004
  issue regarding the soon to be published book by Chuck Larson.
  I don't know if he's written something new, but the following has
  been in the ANA library for some time. Mr. Larson used to have
  a website at and had the book for sale. I
  don't know if the site is still active. [It's not - Editor]

  Here is the ANA library listing.

  Larson, Charles Martin
  Numismatic forgery, an illustrated, annotated guide to the
  practical principles, methods, and techniques employed in the
  private manufacture of rare coins.

  N.p.,, 1995. 295p.

  [So it appears this manuscript has been floating around
  for a while.  This week I learned that copies of the Larson
  manuscript were viewed at one or more sessions of the
  American Numismatic Association's Summer Seminar
  Counterfeit Detection class.  This is apparently where the
  "already being used as a teaching aid for rare-coin collectors"
  blurb comes from.

  The book was advertised in a weekly coin publication
  last week, and I ordered and have already received my
  copy.  Rather than focusing on how to DETECT forgeries,
  the book appears to be a step-by-step instruction manual
  for MAKING forgeries, a very dangerous thing to put in
  the hands of the general public.  Although the ads for the
  book have already let the cat out of the bag, I won't
  publish any more details.  One person familiar with the
  manuscript called it "a how-to manual for every counterfeiter,
  forger and con artist out there who is lacking tools,
  techniques or tips in his quest to defraud the public. It is a
  complete course in coin (not paper) counterfeiting.
  Step-by-step, Counterfeiting for Dummies."

  My sources note that once ANA summer seminar
  staff realized how explicit and technical the book was in its
  descriptions, it was pulled from usage.  But if the ANA has
  decided to not promote the book, it's not doing a very good
  job - an ad for the book appears in the June issue of
  Numismatist, and as Becky pointed out, a manuscript (or at
  least an early draft of it) is listed in the library catalog and is
  presumably available to any member wishing to borrow it.

  Others will undoubtedly debate the merit of publishing and
  promoting this book, and good arguments can be made on
  either side of the issue.   The book itself is at once both
  fascinating and frightening.  As a bibliophile I just had to
  have a copy to read, but I hope it's no best-seller. -Editor]


  Regarding my question about the existence of the 1863 Yale
  coin collection catalogue, Bob Leonard writes: "A quick check
  of the ANS Library catalog revealed the following holding:

  Main Author:   Champion, Henry.
  Title:   Catalogue of the cabinet of coins belonging to Yale
  College, deposited in the college library.
  Publication Info:   New Haven, 1863.
  Extent:   47 p. ; 23 cm.
  Subject Info:
  Collections United States Connecticut New Haven Yale
  Year: 1863"

  William E. Metcalf, Curator of Coins and Medals, Yale
  University Art Gallery writes: "You asked about the
  bibliography concerning the Yale collection:

  ----, Catalogue of the Cabinet of Coins belonging to Yale
  College deposited in the College Library. New Haven:
  Tuttle, Morehousse & Taylor Printers, 1863. 48pp.
  [2,402 coins]

  [Fisk P. Brewer], Catalogue of Ancient Coins Added to
  the Yale College Collection Aug. 1863-Feb. 1865,
  duplicates, indeterminates, and false coins excepted.
  n.d. n.p., 4pp. [122 coins]

  Jonathan Edwards, M.D. Catalogue of the Greek and
  Roman Coins in the Numismatic Collection of Yale
  College. New Haven: Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor Printers,
  1880. 23pp. [3,328 coins]."


  Karl Kabelac writes: "In the May 9th issue Saul Teichman
  forwarded a request from a Richard Frajola asking about a
  S. E. Coe of Mohawk NY in the 1860s.

  Through my local public library I have access to a genealogy
  database that has most of the censuses on it.  Here is a brief

  1860 census :Samuel E. Coe, 32, merchant, value of personal
           estate $10,000
  1870 census :Samuel E. Coe, 43, jewelry store, value of real
          estate $8,500; value of personal estate $6,000
  1880 census: not yet on this database
  1890 census: [records were destroyed in a fire decades ago]
  1900 census: S. E. Coe, 72 (born July 1827), insurance agent
  1910 census: Samuel E. Coe, 82, insurance agent
  1920 census: no longer found in Herkimer County census
           [assume has died]"


  Regarding our mention of the ?Haraszthy at the Mint?
  book, David Sundman writes that: "the publisher still has
  copies.  We ordered and received a copy  from
  Dawson?s Book Shop. The total cost was $33.00."


  The quote from eBay ("We're seeing today that kids are
 more educated about collecting,") inspired William Bishoff
 to write:

  "Too bad one can't say the same about the consortia that
  create blockbuster movies like TROY,  which I endured
  this weekend.  To stick only to the numismatic solecisms,
  dead heroes of ca. 1200 BC are repeatedly shown being
  prepared for cremation by the placement of high-relief
  silver coins on their eyelids--about 800 years too early.
   A.O. Scott said in his recent "New  York Times" review
  that the film "labors to respect the strangeness and
  grandeur of its classical sources."  The man doing this
  review doesn't know the classical sources or he wouldn't
  write such garbage.  To stray for a moment from the
  numismatic realm, the foolish inventions include the killing
  of Ajax by Hector; a fatuously uxorous Achilles (Patroclus
  is just a "cousin" he enjoys teaching swordplay to: no hint
  of homoerotic passion that might explain Achilles's later
  rage); a captive female Breisis who loves Achilles
  [first female besides his mother ever rumored  to love that
  particular killer] for giving her a chance to wash up and eat
  something (Achilles is even portrayed as entering Troy
  inside the Trojan Horse in order to rescue Breisis); and the
  killing of Agamenmon by the louche bowman Paris--leaving
  Clytemestra back home in Argos to enjoy the questionable
  charms of Aegisthus--and cheating her of the sanguine
  revengue described in Aescylus's "Agamemnon."

  But don't miss those coins on the eyelids.  They're even better
  than Classical coins (nice that the dead get tetradrachms, one
  for each eye, instead of a mere obol on the tongue, to pay
  Charon for the trip over the River Styx).  This is truly a "Styx"
  movie, its enormous cost included. Its popularity attests to the
  fact that education--as opposed to career training--hardly
  exists in this country."


  Last week's "News of the Weird" column featured a story
  about a fake U.S. treasury check:

  "In April, Luftee Abdul Waalee, 48, was sentenced to three
  years in prison for trying to pass a fake U.S. Treasury check
  for $25 million at a credit union in Pittsburgh. According to the
  prosecutor, Waalee is a member of the "Moors" black
  separatist group that supposedly believes that each American
  is endowed with a secret government account worth around
  $600,000, based on a theory that when the U.S. went off the
  gold standard in 1933, it began backing its currency not with a
  precious metal but with the prospective labor of its citizens.
  (Because the Moors are smarter than everyone else, only they
  know about these secret accounts and can thus buy and sell

  To read the full stories, see: News of the Weird or
  Post Gazette


  This week's featured web site is Tony Clayton's
  picture galley of the coin of the United Kingdom.
  "More pictures have been added, including those
  of the unique circulation issue 1952 halfcrown,
  and what is believed to be a unique 1953 penny
  with the reverse having a toothed border as for
  George VI pennies rather than the usual beaded

  Tony Clayton's English Pennies
  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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