The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 7, Number 40, October 3, 2004:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2004, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


  Among recent new subscribers is Ian Milne.  Welcome
  aboard!  We now have 691 subscribers.


  Fred Lake writes: "Hurricane Jeanne did not spare us here in
  St. Petersburg, Florida. Our power has finally been restored
  after more than three days without lights, air, computer and
  everything else that we rely on electricity for.

  As a result, we have set a new closing date for our sale #76.
  It will close on Tuesday, October 5, 2004 at 5:00 PM (EDT).
  The sale is available on our web site at
  Current Sale
  Bids will be accepted until that time.

  All bids that have been received via US Mail, email, and/or fax
  have been entered and you may wish to email us to see if we
  missed anyone. Your patience and kind thoughts for us during
  this troubling summer have been most appreciated."


  Dick Johnson writes: "We are glad Dan Gosling is back from
  his five-week dream vacation enumerated in last week's
  E-Sylum and is now asking questions. To answer his inquiry
  on Taylor & Challen coin presses, he need go to only one
  source: Chapter 14 of Denis R. Cooper's book "The Art and
  Craft of Coinmaking; A History of Minting Technology." Dan
  will find there a picture of a Taylor and Challen press on page
  153 and the reason they were so popular at mints around the
  world ? they employed the knuckle-joint action to efficiently
  strike coins and could do this at a rapid rate (at the same
  time inserting the blank and ejecting the struck piece). All
  coining presses today that are not hydraulic employ this
  knuckle-joint action.

  Perhaps a capsule history of the coining press would be
  useful for Dan (and perhaps all E-Sylum readers!).The first
  diestruck coins were made by hammer and anvil - no press.
  Similar hammered techniques continued for more than a
  thousand years. Leonardo da Vinci drew a press for striking
  coins, medals and seals in his notebooks in 1500. Da Vinci
  recognized you need a blank to strike so he put two presses
  back-to-back - one to blank, one to strike the design (with
  the same blow!). But da Vinci?s press was never built (until
  20th century - IBM had one build from da Vinci's drawings,
  it is now in the Smithsonian Institution).

  In 1506 an Italian, Donato Bramante (inspired by a fruit press)
  built a screw press but only did blanking on it. In 1550 Max
  Schwab of Augusburg built a workable screw press which
  could both blank and strike, and made other equipment (as
  rolling mills to roll metal strips for blanking). He tried but failed

  to sell this equipment to mints in Germany and Italy. He
  succeeded, however, with the French who imported his
  equipment but met with resistance from French moneyers
  (who still made hammered coins).

  By 1641 the screw press was finally in use at the Paris Mint
  but the same thing happened in England, where the first screw
  press arrived but was prevented to strike coins. England
  overruled the moneyers and had a screw press in use at the
  Royal Mint by 1652.  [America obtained its first screw
  press for the 1652 Pine Tree Coinage]. The screw press
  was in universal use (and remained so until 1892 when it was
  entirely replaced by hydraulic presses).

  It was a German mechanic, however, who revolutionized
  coining. Diedrich Uhlhorn (1764-1837) invented the
  knuckle-joint action press in 1812. He patented his invention
  (1817) and built a factory to sell his presses to national mints.
  He called his invention a "lever press" and sold 57 such
  presses to nine European mints by 1847.

  In 1835 a Paris machinist, last name Thonnelier, also perfects
  a knuckle-joint press (similar to Uhlhorn's technology). He
  does not build these presses, instead he sells drawings and
  plans to build his style presses. The U.S. Mint bought
  Thonnelier's plans in 1833, and their first such press was built
  by Merrick, Agnew and  Tyler; in1840 Franklin Peale
  rebuilds it.  In each case the mints either had to build their
  own or hire "constructors." In 1858 an engineer at the U.S.
  Mint, David Gilbert, rebuilds their Thonnelier press for greater
  strength.  Morgan & Orr was one of these constructors at the
  Philadelphia Mint. Joshua Morgan and Arthur Orr built these
  over three decades including a heavy duty coining press in
  1874 (to accommodate a new steam engine installed at the

  The Paris Mint?s Thonnelier press was built by J.F. Caili et
  Cie, who act as agents and build these for European mints.
  Thus every Thonnelier press has a different nameplate,
  the name of the constructor (never "Thonnelier").

  Meantime in 1862, at the Second International Industrial
  Exposition in London, two coining press manufacturers
  exhibited - Uhlhorn's sons, then in charge of the Uhlhorn
  factory, and Ralph Heaton, flush from acquiring all the
  Soho Mint equipment, purchased at auction in 1850 (who
  then used the name "Birmingham Mint"). As often happens
  at trade expos, these two press makers met and formed a
  consortium. Heatons get permission to build presses using
  Uhlhorn's technology. Heatons build presses for the
  Mandalay Mint in Burma by 1865 but build 12 Uhlhorn-style
  presses for their own Birmingham Mint.

  Now Taylor and Challen were also coin press manufacturers,
  founded 1850 by Joseph Taylor, competitors to Ralph
  Heaton. They stepped up their activity and developed an
  improved coining press. This is what is shown in Cooper in
  chapter 14. They could supply complete press room
  equipment (as they did for the Sydney Mint, Australia).

  Early in the 20th century, another German firm, Schuler,
  enters the manufacture of coin presses. Schuler presses are
  now in use around the world. They developed a new
  technology - instead of the dies on a vertical axis going up
  and down with blanks fed horizontally, one style of Schuler
  press uses a horizontal axis with gravity fed blanks vertically.
  They also developed "indexing" and a method of double
  striking (as for proof coinage).

  In anticipation of tremendous need for new coins for the
  decimal conversion in the British Empire technicians at the
  Royal Mint in 1950 build 12 Uhlhorn-style presses in
  their workshop, still utilizing this 140-year old technology
  but with modern improvements.

  Today coining presses are made in Germany (by Schuler,
  Grabenel), in Austria (by Reinhard & Fernau), in England
  (by Heaton, Taylor & Challen and Horden Mason &
  Edwards, now a division of America's Cincinnati Milacron),
  in Belgium (by Raskin), and in Sweden (by Arboga). Both
  national mints and private mints buy these presses as
  coining technology expands universally."

  [Many thanks to Dick for his detailed submission.  Every
  numismatist should become familiar with the basic history
  of coin presses.   -Editor]


  Ron Guth writes: "Here's a question for your readers:
  The name Clint Hester shows up in pedigree chains for the
  1884 and 1885 Trade Dollars and I've seen the claim that
  he was the consignor of those coins to the Menjou sale,
  possibly with other rarities.  Does anyone know from
  whence that claim arose and whether or not it is true?"


  Dan Gosling writes: "In the ANA's Dwight N. Manley
  library there is a listing for: JB40.E5 RARE BOOKS
  English, Scotch, and Irish coins; a manual for collectors,
  being a history and description of the coinage of Great
  Britain, from the earliest ages to the present time.
  London, Gill, 1883. 160p. ill. 20cm. 1c.

  Does anyone know the name of the author? Is it James


  Regarding last week's item about donating numismatic
  literature to schools, Bruce Burton writes: "In Austin, Texas,
  The Capital City Coin Club (of which I'm currently president)
  has for many years now provided new "red books" to school
  libraries around the area.  I don't recall how many went out
  this year but suspect between 20 and 30 copies of the 2005


  Gregg A. Silvis has a great article in the September 2004
  issue of Penny-Wise, the official publication of Early
  American Coppers, Inc on three early numismatists,
  William Colgate Easton (1851-1936), Frederick Reed Alvord
  (1868-1923) and Dr. Wallace S. Bardeen (1866-1921).


  Dick Johnson writes: "In answer to Philip Mernick?s inquiry
  (from London) of the George Thomas Medal in last week?s
  E-Sylum: You didn?t give the artist?s first name of the medal
  you have ? it was Alfred Borrel (1836-1927) -- because
  after the U.S. Civil War Tiffany & Co in New York City had
  several medals made for them in Paris. Alfred?s father Valentin
  Maurice Borrel (1804-1882) engraved the more famous medal
  of Cyrus W. Field for Laying the Atlantic Telegraph Cable
  Medal of 1867.

  The medal you have was ordered by the State of Tennessee
  for award (in gold) to George Henry Thomas (1816-1870)
  American Army Commander. He was nicknamed "The Rock
  of Chickamuga" for his defense of his position in the September
  1863 Civil War battle. One tough general!

  A medal similar to what you have may have been exhibited in
  the Paris 1867 Expo, however Tiffany did not exhibit it later at
  the 1901 Buffalo Pan-American Expo in the Tiffany Pavilion
  in the Manufacturing and Liberal Arts Building. The Cyrus
  Field Medal, however, was exhibited among this most
  extensive medal exhibit Tiffany ever mounted.  Incidentally all
  the medals in this exhibit were goldplated. When I cataloged
  the firm?s medal collection in 1972, some of these goldplated
  medals were still intact. I even have some of the lesser ones
  in my Tiffany collection. The more famous ones had all since
  departed prior to my inspection.

  Dies for your Thomas medal were indeed made at the Paris
  Mint in the 77mm size. A diestruck reverse cliché was sold
  14 December 1991 by H. Joseph Levine in his 51st Presidential
  Coin & Antique auction (lot 553). The same dies COULD
  have, indeed, been used to make the bois durci wood medal
  you have.

  Your data on bois durci is essentially correct. It is a wood
  paste made of hardwood sawdust to which albumin was
  added that is pressed, dried and molded under heat (imagine
  a waffle iron with steam heat!). The source of the albumin
  was animal (or human!) blood, with most sources stating ox
  blood mostly employed. The original color was a rich
  blood-red, however with time the composition darkened,
  turning first to red mahogany, then brown, and finally to black.

  If your piece is solid ebony black it is now stable and believed
  to remain so in the future.  It is believed the originator of this
  process was a French artisan, Charles Lepage, in the 1850s
  (for whom LePage glue is named after). When these pieces
  are cataloged they are often mistakenly called gutta percha,
  vulcanite or even Bakelite. The term is French and means, of
  course, hardened wood. Other objects were made of bois
  durci in exotic detail, include buttons, brooches, combs, even
  snuff boxes and picture frames.

  You did spell Chickanauga correctly. It is in northwest Georgia
  here in the American colonies. It was the 1863 field of battle
  during the Civil War and is now the site of the Chickamauga
  and Chattanooga National Park.

  This internet article verifies and expands on my notes:
  Complete Article
  Here is a web site on bois durci: bois durci

  Scroll down and click on Plaques A - L and see two
  Lincoln plaques made of this material.  Or. click on
  Plaques M -Z and see two George Washington plaques.

  I auctioned several bois durci plaques in the past. They are
  similar to each other, with the same background and lettering
  all alike.   I much prefer cast bronze plaques, or galvano
  casts of copper (or silver!) from models by different talented
  bas-relief artists.  I consigned several dozen casts and
  galvanos in Joe Levine's Presidential Coin & Antique auction
  last December, and have more coming up in his next auction
  for those interested in displayable medallic art."


  The October 2, 2004 New York Times had an article about
  the National Collector's Mint, maker of the controversial
  "Ground Zero" relic items being marketed these days, and
  drawing the ire of the U.S. Mint.

  "The days of Avram C. Freedberg as a distributor of
  pornography are well behind him. No longer is he involved
  with such businesses as the exquisitely alliterative Dirty
  Dick's Dynamite Discount Den. No longer does he mail out
  videos and magazines in discreet packages.

  Fifteen years have passed since he struck a deal with the
  federal government to make a collection of obscenity
  charges go away. He paid $600,000 in fines, agreed to get
  out of the pornography business and set out to reinvent

  He moved on to other direct-mail opportunities, including
  National Collector's Mint, which sells "collectible" coins
  - anything from classic American silver dollars to
  numismatic schlock. Gradually, Freedberg the Dirty Dick's
  Den guy was replaced by Freedberg the civic-minded citizen
  of Stamford, Conn., chairman of this nonprofit board,
  member of that.

  Ah, but destiny was not finished with Avram C. Freedberg,
  and it beckoned after the collapse of the World Trade

  [The article goes on to discuss how the National Collectors
  Mint obtained some silver recovered from the World Trade
  Center vault of the Bank of Nova Scotia, and used it to
  create the "coins".   The article then asks, "BUT how do we
  know that this silver is Ground Zero Silver?"

  "To find the answer, a visit was paid to a dreary industrial
  park in the Westchester County village of Port Chester,
  where Mr. Freedberg runs his business in a warehouse-style
  building. The small lobby reeks of cigarette smoke.

  A receptionist's disembodied voice answered the doorbell's
  ring. A request to speak with Mr. Freedberg was answered
  with a written statement delivered to the lobby."

  Len Augsberger saw the same article.  He writes: "The
  New York Times business section on Saturday, October 2nd
  offered a numismatic two-fer.  An article on the front page
  delved into the dealings of one Avram Freedberg,
  ex-pornographer, currently doing business as the "National
  Collector's Mint", which sells WTC recovered and coined
  silver under the imprimatur of the Northern Mariana Islands
  (a commonwealth of the United States).  Well known
  numismatist David Ganz is serving as an attorney for Mr.
  Freedberg, and was quoted in the article.  Ganz responded
  to a reporter's question inquiring as to the authenticity of the
  "Ground Zero silver".  According to Ganz, "Mr. Freedberg
  has an opinion letter from a very respected law firm" vouching
  for the provenance of the silver.  "I'm not authorized to tell
  you" the firm's name, he added.

  Later on in the same section, a review is found of "Undertow",
  currently playing at the New York Film Festival.  The plot
  apparently revolves around a sackful of gold coins hidden in
  an auto junkyard in the deep South.  No word on the
  provenance of these pieces, whether they were U.S. gold, or
  perhaps NMI commemorative issues in the same vein as the
  above items."

  Full text available at Full Article (free registration


  Last week's quiz question regarding the numismatic
  luminaries whose names are chiseled in stone on the
  old American Numismatic Society building in New
  York is "a Polish historian and numismatist.  His works
  on Polish history ...  were published in twenty volumes.
  In addition, he wrote two  important works on numismatics:
  the two volume La Numismatique du mayen age (1835)
  and Etudes numismatiques (1840)."

  Ron Guth of writes: "Thank God (or is it Gore?)
  for the Internet.  The answer to your name quiz is Joachim
  Lelewel.  Ten years ago I never could have found the answer
  to your, all it takes is two minutes on Google!

  Here's a good bio of Lelewel:  Bio

  Keep up the good work!"

  On to the next name on the list for this week's quiz.  This person,
  a "Russian numismatist, is credited with the creation of the interest

  in oriental numismatics throughout Russia and is considered the
  founder of modern Islamic Science in Russia.  [He] wrote more
  that 143 publications and manuscripts .."


  This week the Houston Chronicle published an Associated Press
  story about the release of the new U.S. $50 bill.

  "A new $50 bill with touches of red, blue and yellow hit the
  streets today, and a new $10 bill is in the works. It would be
  the third greenback to get colorized to cut back on counterfeiting."

  "Government officials used one of the new $50s on Tuesday
   morning to buy a $45 U.S. flag, which came in a box, at a shop
  in Union Station. Old $50 bills will continue to be accepted and
  recirculated until they wear out.

  [OK, so who has that first $50 bill to be spent?   Was the
  serial number recorded and the transaction documented?  It
  would be a shame for that historic note to be lost to future
  generations of collectors. -Editor]

  As for plans for the new $10 bill, Alexander Hamilton, the
  nation's first treasury secretary, is expected to stay on the
  front, with the Treasury Department remaining on the back,
  Thomas Ferguson, director of the Bureau of Engraving and
  Printing, said in an interview."

  "The new $10 bill is expected to be unveiled this spring and
  put into circulation in fall 2005. That last time the note got a
  new look was in 2000, when Hamilton's portrait became
  oversized and moved slightly off center.

  "As with the $50 and the $20, there will be subtle background
  tones and tints. They will be different from those used on the
  other two so each of the notes will start to be even more
  distinctive and easier for people to differentiate quickly,"
  Ferguson said. He wouldn't say what the colors on the new
  $10 would be."

  "The colorizing project is part of a broader effort to make
  the bills harder to counterfeit, especially against the backdrop
  of readily available digital technology.

  "We've been working closely in cooperation ... with the
  manufacturers of ink jet printers, editing software, computer
  software in order to make it more difficult for people to be
  able to use that kind of technology to counterfeit," Ferguson
  said. As part of that effort, certain technology also has been
  incorporated in the new $20s, $50s and eventually the new
  $10s, he said.

  To read the full story, see: Full Story


  From a September 28 Reuters article:  "An Indian gold coin
  which is nearly 1,900 years old and shows one of the earliest
  depictions of Buddha is to be sold at auction where it is
  expected to fetch up to $27,000.

  The coin, about the size of a finger nail, shows Buddha on one
  side and the Indian ruler Kanishka I on the other and dates
  from Kanisha's rule in the first quarter of the second century.

  It is one of only four such coins, and the first to go under the
  hammer since 1991."

  [The coin will be auctioned by Morton & Eden Ltd on
  November 23.  -Editor]

  To read the full article, see: Full Story


  Howard A. Daniel III writes: "I thought about looking in some
  of my old Asian references for something about the earliest
  money but I  saw "The Beauty and Lore of Coins, Currency
  and Medals" (Riverwood Publishers Ltd., Croton-On-Hudson,
  New York, 1974) by Elvira and Vladimir Clain-Stefanelli and
  thought they might have mentioned it.  On page 185 is "It is
  generally conceded that China preceded the West in the
  invention and use of money."


  Hal Dunn writes: "Perhaps this is a merely coincidence, but the
  Twenty Cent book was published in Fort Collins, Colorado,
  the ANA is in Colorado Springs, and there is a Robert O.
  Rupp living in the latter city."

  [Hal provided the man's full address and phone number,
  which I forwarded to Lane Brunner.   Stay tuned for more
  developments in the search.  -Editor]


  Larry Mitchell sent us this note about another web site that
  may be of interest to numismatic researchers.  It "...
  Contains a browsable and searchable list of birth records,
  marriages, obituaries, and death records 'transcribed from
  historic San Francisco [California] newspapers,' mainly before
  1906. Includes related articles and full-text books; research
  tips; a profile of San Francisco cemeteries; maps; and
  research tips and annotated links to libraries, archives,
  museums, and government agencies...."  A labor of love of
  local amateur genealogists:  Genealogy site


  Jeff Reichenberger writes: "In regard to Nancy Green's question
  of verdigris on literature, I have not seen it first hand but I do
  have some knowledge of printing inks.  Years ago, metallic ink
  colors such as copper, actually had microscopic flecks of the
  metal in them to give the appearance of a metallic sheen. So
  given the right atmosphere, verdigris surely could attack an
  old copper inked catalog."


  Christopher Rivituso writes: "I recently received a Canadian
  two dollar coin, dated 2000, which is bimetallic. The lighter
  metal was on the exterior, while the darker metal was in the
  centre with Queen Elizabeth II's portrait.  This has given rise
  to a couple of questions.

  I saw a Canadian two dollar coin in 1997. Maybe my mind is
  playing tricks, but I recall it slightly differently; The darker
  metal was on the exterior, while the lighter metal was in the
  centre. Was that indeed the case?

  Also, the year 2000 Canadian coins had a portrait of the
  Queen that was used in Great Britain between 1985 and
  1997. Why are they still using that? Would the Royal
  Canadian Mint not have already adopted the current portrait,
  seeing that Canada is in the Commonwealth?  I know that
  Australia has."

  [On a recent trip to Niagara Falls, Canada, I noticed that the
  cents had an updated portrait of the Queen, so the switch
  has finally been made, at least on that denomination.  Could
  our Canadian subscribers enlighten us on the changeover
  process?   Thanks. -Editor]


  Myron Xenos writes: "Dave's spin of the Loonie and the
  U.S. dollar coins was interesting.  However, I have a
  counter-theory, encompassing two thoughts:

  1.  Certain politicians and the Crane Co. of Massachusetts
       don't want to give up the lucrative paper business

  2.  Add up all the Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea
       dollars that were minted.  Where are they?  Sitting
       in drawers, boxes, bags, the Treasury, etc.  They cost
       around 3  to 5 cents each to coin, and go into the
       Treasury at $1 each.  I wish I could do that...."


  Regarding last week's item about the television show about
  a Nevada silver dollar hoard, an anonymous subscriber writes:
  "The CSI episode was based on the real-life murder of Ted
  Binion, son of the founder of Binion's Horseshoe Casino in
  Las Vegas.  He was killed by his fiancée and her boyfriend in
  order to secure the precious metals and coins he had buried
  in a vault in the Nevada desert.  The pair was tried and
  convicted several years ago."


  Raising the age-old question of whether rare coins (or any
  artifacts) are better off in museums or private hands, this recent
  article from India describes a collection of Sikh coins:

  "The first Sikh coin came into existence with the founding of a
  Sikh kingdom by Banda Bahadur, a few years after the last
  Sikh Guru Gobind Singh's passed away.

  Historians say that though all the rulers brought in their new
  coins as soon as they assumed power, the common factor in
  each of them is that all the kings released coins in honour of
  Sikh gurus."

  "Researcher and numismatist Surinder Singh, who based his
  work on empirical evidence, while citing several nuances in
  the design of the coins to reigns of the kings during the period,
  said that while most of the coins were shifted off by the British
  to Bombay and Calcutta, some however remain in the
  possession of collectors."

  "When the British occupied the Punjab, the Sikh coin was of
  pure silver and the British coin was 95 per cent silver. Where
  the British rupee was sold of 16 annas in the market, the Sikh
  coin was sold of 17 annas. The Britishers shifted almost 10 to
  20 crores of Sikh coins to Bombay and Calcutta and converted
  them into British rupees", said Surinder Singh.

  Some of these coins are in the hands of a collector. Numismatist
  Narinder Katwar of Mohali who has some 200 rare coins,
  related to Sikh history, has refused to hand them over to the
  museum. He says it is his life's passion, which he will always
  guard zealously."

  "... I personally feel that besides giving my collection to any
  museum, I can preserve them better. And as its my personal
  collection I want to keep it with me only".

  The Central Sikh Museum in the precincts of the Golden
  Temple in Amritsar, is home to a large number of the ancient
  Sikh coins, providing a rare glimpse of the rich Sikh culture to
  the people."

  To read the full story, see:  Full Story


  We had no takers on last week's quiz to name the first
  collector of Confederate Currency, according to the research
  of Fred L. Reed III.  Quoting from his article in the October
  2004 issue of Bank Note Reporter, in 1866 the gentleman
  "presented a collection of Confederate paper money and
  postage stamps to the Boston Numismatic Society, of which
  he was already a correspondent.  That collection was
  exhibited at the BNS meeting of April 12, and reported in the
  May issue of the American Journal of Numismatics."   The
  gentleman also "subsequently donated a collection of
  Confederate Currency and Confederate postage stamps, as
  well as Confederate and Virginia bonds ..." to the American
  Numismatic and Antiquarian Society.  He was born in 1839
  and lived to 1914.    Any guesses now?  No fair looking at
  the Bank Note Reporter article, but if your library includes
  the right issues of the AJN, your shelves are fair game.


  This week's featured web site is on Irish coinage, and was
  recommended by Ray Williams.

     Irish Coinage

  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.

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