The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 7, Number 51, December 19, 2004: 
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society. 
Copyright (c) 2004, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


  This E-Sylum issue is being distributed on Monday, 
  December 20, 2004.  We will adhere to a Monday publishing
  schedule for at least the next few weeks.  Thanks again for
  everyone's understanding and patience while we work 
  through our email problems.

  All current subscribers remain subscribed through the new
  system.   We currently have 702 registered subscribers.

  Those wishing to become new subscribers (or to
  Unsubscribe) can go to the following web page:

  The automated archives from September 2002 to date are
  now available at:  Archives
  The full, lovingly hand-edited archive remains at the
  NBS web site, NBS 

  To submit items for publication, continue to email them
  to me at whomren at  Keep those cards and
  letters coming, and happy holidays!


  Fred Lake writes: "The prices realized list for our sale
  #77 which closed on Tuesday, December 14, 2004 at 5:00 PM
  EST, is now available for viewing on the Lake Books web 
  Site at:  Lake Books Archive There you
  will find the PDF and MS Word links under that sale number.

  The sale was quite successful, with 90% of the lots being 
  sold and very strong prices realized for some of the 
  rarities offered from the estate of John M. Ward, Jr. 
  and the library of Robert Doyle.

  Our next sale will close on February 15, 2005 and the 
  catalog will be available for viewing in early January. 
  Selections from the library of Jack Haymond will be 

  Our best Seasons Greetings to all,    Fred"


  Dick Johnson writes: "The driver of the truck which ran 
  over and killed Michael Craven in a "road rage" incident 
  April 30, 2000 on LA's Ventura Freeway has been tracked 
  to Armenia. He was extradited to California late November 
  2004 and is now charged with three felony counts, 
  including the murder of the numismatic film maker. Craven
  died of injuries from that incident. (Reported here in 
  The E-Sylum vol 3, no 19, May 7, 2000.) 

  Craven had produced three numismatic videos and had been 
  working on a major film on the history of America's coins. 
  He had over seven hours of film - including interviews 
  with U.S. Treasury officials and prominent numismatists 
  -- he had nearly completed the filming before editing the
  material for a multi-part series. 

  Among the videos Craven had produced included "The Granite
  Lady" on the San Francisco Mint and "The Medal Maker," 
  narrated by former Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint Elizabeth
  Jones, on sculptor Laura Gardin Fraser. [In addition to 
  writing the filmscript for that later video, I was working
  with Mike on a history of the Philadelphia Mint's Third 
  Building at 16th and Spring Garden Streets -- America's 
  first truly modern mint -- for its 2001 centennial. His 
  death halted that project.]"


  From Forbes magazine:
  "Google just made the Internet significantly bigger 
  -- at least for the worlds of search and book 

  The Mountain View, Calif., search engine company has 
  reached agreements with Harvard University, The 
  University of Michigan, Stanford University, Oxford 
  University, and The New York Public Library to scan 
  their books and make the digitized contents searchable. 
  Up to 50 million titles are involved, including titles
  held in common by the libraries. 

  The project, which will probably take five or more 
  years to complete, will deliver a database of volumes
  that Google users can search. Users will be able to 
  download entire volumes in the database that are not 
  under copyright protection. Books under copyright 
  will be excerpted at varying lengths, depending on 
  whether Google has agreements with their publishers 
  to carry longer excerpts."

  To read the full article: Full Story

  From the New York Times:
  "It may be only a step on a long road toward the 
  long-predicted global virtual library. But the 
  collaboration of Google and research institutions ...
  is a major stride in an ambitious Internet effort by 
  various parties. The goal is to expand the Web 
  beyond its current valuable, if eclectic, body of 
  material and create a digital card catalog and 
  searchable library for the world's books, scholarly 
  papers and special collections."

  "Within two decades, most of the world's knowledge 
  will be digitized and available, one hopes for free
  reading on the Internet, just as there is free 
  reading in libraries today," said Michael A. Keller, 
  Stanford University's head librarian."

  To read the full article: Full Story

  From the Associated Press:
  "The Michigan and Stanford libraries are the only 
  two so far to agree to submit all their material to 
  Google's scanners.

  The New York library is allowing Google to include a
  small portion of its books no longer covered by 
  copyright while Harvard is confining its participation
  to 40,000 volumes so it can gauge how well the process 
  works. Oxford wants Google to scan all its books 
  originally published before 1901."

  "This is the day the world changes," said John Wilkin, 
  a University of Michigan librarian working with Google. 
  "It will be disruptive because some people will worry 
  that this is the beginning of the end of libraries. 
  But this is something we have to do to revitalize the 
  profession and make it more meaningful."

  To read the full article: Full Story

  From the Boston Globe:
  "Company spokeswoman Susan Wojcicki said the project
  is the fulfillment of a dream for founders Sergey Brin 
  and Larry Page. "This is something the founders wanted 
  to do before they even started Google," she said. "The 
  mission of the company, from the day it started, was 
  to organize the world's information and make it easily 

  But Google also hopes that its book search service will
  give it a major edge over rival search services, including
  an up-and-coming challenge from software titan Microsoft 
  Corp. "Google has constantly over time always been 
  increasing our search index," said Wojcicki. "Having a 
  more comprehensive search engine . . . leads to, we 
  believe, a better product." In turn, that means more 
  visitors to Google's search service, which makes money 
  by selling advertisements."

  To read the full article: Full Story

  How does this commercial effort affect nonprofit efforts
  to digitize some of the same material?  In earlier E-Sylums
  we discussed the "million book" plans.  From the San Jose
  Mercury News: 

  "Libraries from India, China, Egypt, Canada and the 
  Netherlands, for instance, are working with the San 
  Francisco-based non-profit Internet Archive on a plan to
  create a publicly available digital archive of one million 
  books on the Internet.

  "The public domain belongs to the public and should be 
  publicly accessible without running only into commercial 
  interests,'' said Brewster Kahle, founder and president of
  the Internet Archive. ``There's room for both, and I hope 
  that we do not evolve into an either-or situation."

  To read the full article: Full Story

  Bill  Rosenblum writes: "My son works for the University 
  of Michigan library as a digital librarian (whatever that
  is) and has been involved in the acquisition of scholarly 
  publications to be put on line.  He told me that he and 
  his colleagues were told of the Google plan about two 
  hours before the press release and were as surprised as 
  most everybody else."

  Dick Johnson adds: "It made news this week. Five major 
  libraries in U.S. and U.K. agreed to have their books of 
  greatest scholarly interest digitized and will be placed 
  on Google's website for anyone in the world to access. 
  This continued a plan announced earlier, and reported 
  in E-Sylum last week, that a group of libraries in the 
  U.S., Canada, Netherlands, Egypt and China plan to 
  digitize one million books, with 70,000 available by 
  April 2005. 

  The five major libraries who have agreed to open their 
  stacks are Harvard, University of Michigan, Stanford 
  and the New York Public Library in the U.S. and Oxford 
  University in England. The agreement with each library 
  differs. Harvard's agreement is limited to 40,000 volumes, 
  in contrast to the full collections at Stanford and 
  Michigan; NYPL agreed to "fragile material not under 

  This has come about at the present time because Google 
  became wealthy from its stock offering last summer. It
  is employing its newly gained wealth to stretch its 
  already humongous databank towards a long-predicted 
  global virtual library. The cost is estimated at $10 
  to digitize each book.

  The digitizing task is labor intensive. It requires 
  several people to operate sophisticated scanners whose 
  high-resolution cameras capture one page at a time. At 
  Stanford Google hopes to scan 50,000 pages a day within 
  a month, doubling this amount with more people and 

  When this story first broke, December 14th, 629 
  newspapers ran the story or commented on it before Google 
  took the story down. One of the best was by George Kerevan 
  editorializing in "I can't wait," he wrote, 
  "for Google to get on-line with the Bodleian Library's one
  million books. Yet here's one other thing I learned from
  a physical library space: the daunting scale of human 
  knowledge and our inability to truly comprehend only a
  fraction of it."

  How soon until a large number of numismatic works will 
  be digitized, perhaps among those millions of books in 
  five or more libraries, is yet to be seen. Existing 
  numismatic libraries, however, still have a major 
  function to perform in gathering bound books and 
  documents for present and future numismatic scholars
  to use."

  Kerevan's comments: Kerevan's comments

  [There are a lot of caveats in Google's ambitious plan;
  for example, Harvard is hedging, wanting proof that the
  process will not damage its holdings.  But it's another
  important step in the march toward digitization.  I
  question the $10/book estimate, for despite all the high-
  tech trappings, the drudgery of scanning and correcting
  text is still a slow process, and time equals money;
  see the following item by Mike Marotta's about the effort
  going into making The Electronic Numismatist.  If Google
  uses gentle but efficient book-scanning robots (which I'm
  not sure exist yet), then perhaps the $10/volume estimate
  is correct, but human editors with subject matter knowledge
  are still likely to do a better job of digitization,
  albeit at a higher price.

  Collectively, how many out-of-copyright numismatic works
  are in those libraries?  More importantly for writers
  and researchers, how many tidbits of numismatic knowledge
  are locked in those pages, currently unseen and unknown?
  As more works become accessible through indexing, more and
  more new numismatic information is likely to become 
  available to researchers.  It could indeed be a whole new
  world.  -Editor]


  Regarding Jorg Lueke's "The Electronic Numismatist,"
  Michael E. Marotta writes:

  "Bringing these classic volumes to collectors is a great 
  service to the hobby.  In Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451",
  the fireman, Montag, explains his fascination with books: 
  "Inside each one is a man."  To read the words of Dr. 
  George Heath is to share with him the creation of the ANA. 
  Even more, these old magazines reveal the world of 
  collecting in the early days of our hobby. Of course, 
  being able to search text is an incomparable joy.  The
  range and breadth of Heath's interests illuminate many 
  aspects of collecting, and serve as a benchmark for the 
  most modern research.  Jorg deserves the highest praise 
  for this effort.  

  In an email to me, Jorg said that the few glitches will
  be fixed in Rev 1.02.  Blank pages fill some spaces, for
  instance. Jorg attributes these to "the relationship 
  between the index, bookmarks, and links.  Once all that 
  is created they keep the document page numbers correct 
  whenever the document is edited.  It will take me probably
  till this weekend to create version 1.02 with consistent
  titleing, no blanks, and a new index."

  In real life Jorg is an IBM mainframe programmer.  He was
  able to draw on standard project management skills when
  creating "The Electronic Numismatist." He said, "I hired 
  someone to do the inital scanning and basic editing. They 
  could scan some things but not everything due to the type
  style and weakness [of the printing], so they did hand 
  key 40-50% of the text.  I then did the next few rounds of
  editing, formatting, indexing etc. ...  the cost benefit 
  of my time versus money pointed towards spending the money
  for that portion."  Best of all, from the bibliophile's 
  perspective, Jorg worked to keep the original formating 
  of Dr. Heath's 19th century typography.

  No doubt, each of us will find our own rewards in owning
  this.  The work is loaded with gems.  At first, Dr. Heath
  accepted no advertising.  Then he relented.  "Thanks to 
  the liberality of our advertisers," Heath wrote, "... we
  can see our way reasonably clear to continue THE NUMISMATIST
  at the old subscription price of FIFTY CENTS a year (outside
  the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, two shillings six pence)."


  The New York Times published an article December 12
  about Malcolm A. Trask, a New York subway motorman who
  built a remarkable collection of U.S. paper money in the
  1940s and 50s.  His collection languished unnoticed in a
  family closet for years after his death until it was
  discovered by his youngest son, now 75 years old.  The
  collection will be auctioned at the upcoming Florida 
  United Numismatists show.

  "One of the most intriguing among the 4,288 lots to be 
  sold at the convention, the year's biggest coin and 
  currency show, will be the remarkable collection that 
  put together during the 1940's and 50's at his small 
  apartment in south Yonkers.

  But the real story is not the collection. It's the 
  collector. Mr. Trask was a subway motorman with an 
  eighth-grade education who died in 1989 at the age of 
  88. While raising four children on a working man's 
  salary, he somehow amassed one of his era's greatest 
  currency collections, only to stash it in a closet 
  where it languished, forgotten, until his children 
  found it two years ago after his wife died."

  "Mr. Trask was born in Yonkers in 1901, dropped out 
  of school after the eighth grade, enlisted in the 
  Navy in 1917, and then went to work for 46 years as 
  a motorman on the old IRT line. 

  The subway was his job. The collection was his passion. 
  He began with coins, but by the late 1940's he had 
  sold them all to concentrate on paper money, at the 
  time an arcane satellite universe. Apparently using 
  $20, $40 or $80 he was able to squirrel away, he 
  bought at auctions, from dealers or at coin and 
  currency shows.

  Every night, his children recall, he would pore over
  ledgers, write in journals, type up notations, compile
  censuses of numismatic arcana. He was one of the 
  earliest serious researchers of national bank notes, 
  paper money that was issued by more than 11,000 banks 
  between 1865 and 1933 and was about 20 percent larger
  in size than current bills. 

  "The truly incredible thing about this collection is
  that a guy with no formal education, utterly limited 
  resources and almost no research material available 
  could pick so well and build a collection that would 
  be significant a half-century later," said Allen 
  Mincho, a director of Heritage-Currency Auctions of 
  America and a currency expert who researched and 
  catalogued the collection. "He clearly had the eye. 
  But how he knew just what to pick, I really don't 
  know. I've sold plenty of million-dollar collections, 
  but none where the initial investment was so low, 
  the returns so high, and the overall quality so 

  To read the full article, see: Full Story

  [A search of the Internet and the Numismatic Index 
  of Periodicals (NIP) turned up no references to Mr.
  Trask.  Did he leave any traces of his research in 
  the world of numismatics?  Had anyone heard of him 
  before his collection came to light?

  For those who may not be familiar with it, the NIP 
  index is online at this address: NIP Index


  On December 15, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel published a
  story revealing that the International Swimming Hall of 
  Fame's extensive Olympic collection had been looted of 
  over $500,000 worth of rare medals:

  "A man with a secret past who landed a temporary job as a
  janitor at the International Swimming Hall of Fame wasted 
  little time before stealing more than 100 Olympic medals 
  and other irreplaceable memorabilia, police said Wednesday.

  Paul Nichols Christow, 48, had unfettered access to the 
  museum's impressive Olympic collection when no one else 
  was around. He stole nearly $500,000 worth of gold, silver 
  and bronze, police said. Among the loot was Hollywood star 
  Johnny Weismuller's 1924 medals, a medal from the first 
  modern Olympic games and an ancient Greek medal.

  The Hall of Fame's collection was so large that he operated
  undetected for months.

  Early this month, a museum worker noticed some medals 
  missing from a display case. About the same time, an 
  Olympic memorabilia collector contacted the Hall of Fame 
  to say he had just purchased a group of medals on the 
  Internet. Police traced the theft to Christow, set up a 
  sting, caught him on tape trying to sell more Olympic 
  goods, and arrested him last week.

  Investigators recovered about half of what was stolen 
  and are hopeful they will find the rest."

  "He posed as a paralegal looking to liquidate an anonymous
  family's estate. Marty Bookston, of Double Eagle Rare Coins
  in Hollywood, had never seen a real Olympic medal before, 
  but he gave the man $250 for two medals and posted them on
  eBay for an opening bid of $9.99 apiece."

  Those knowledgeable about the value of such medals can
  only gasp at the opening bid - later just one of a group of
  50 medals was sold to a California collector for $10,000.
  The article goes on to describe how alert eBay users notified
  the museum about medals it didn't know were missing.  Police
  enlisted the help of the Hollywood, FL coin dealer and a
  North Carolina collector to snare the thief in a sting

  "Christow was charged with two counts of dealing in stolen
  property and two counts of grand theft over $100,000.

  "I grew up with Johnny Weismuller on TV," said Gerry 
  Machurick, the burglary detective who worked the case, 
  "so to be a part of preserving history is pretty 

  Full Story


  The United States Botanic Gardens (USBG) in Washington D.C.
  is seeking images of North American and European currency 
  and coins showing images of wheat.  These are for inclusion 
  in a video under production.  Has a list of such items ever 
  been compiled?  A comprehensive list would include hundreds 
  of items, given that wheat and other grains were a common
  theme on many obsolete bank note vignettes. Can anyone 
  suggest a starting point for such a list?


  Responding to last week's items by Florence Prusmack's on 
  Isaac Newton, Bob Lyall writes: "Charles I was not beheaded 
  in 1630, it was January 1648/9 (1648 old style, 1649 by our


  On December 18, the Associated Press published an article
  about a rare breed of engraver - a modern-day Hobo Nickel
  carver, Bob Finlay: 

  "In the 1980s, Finlay took on the hobby of engraving. It 
  started with guns and later turned to knives.

  He said he spent 100 to 200 hours on one knife. Looking at
  the jewel-encrusted daggers with ornate carvings, it's easy
  to see why he has embraced nickels.

  The coins take him an average of 10 to 12 hours, and he has
  finished about 50 so far.

  On a recent evening, Finlay was taking background metal out
  of a nickel, one of 10 he was carving for a collector. A 
  hobo holding a pick ax along railroad tracks was already 

  Finlay's glasses were pressed up against a microscope 
  focused on the nickel, as his thick fingers finessed what 
  he called a miniature jackhammer, a small tool powered by 
  compressed air that delivers rapid strokes into the metal.

  Cake crumbs rested on the table below Finlay's mouth. 
  Working in the evenings and on weekends, it's not unusual 
  for him to skip a meal.

  "It's nothing if I work 10 hours straight, or 11, 12," he 

  The Original Hobo Nickel Society has nicknamed Finlay "The
  Excavator" for his propensity to dig deep into the nickel. 
  He does it to make the subject stand out. One of the things
  that makes him unique is his ability to make those small, 
  full-figure hobos. Nobody else has done that.

  "I like to make things more 3D than 2D," Finlay said. "Most
  people have never seen a nickel, one that's been carved, 
  and it's fun to carve something that they haven't seen."

  Full Story


  Regarding Dick Johnson's discussion of Bilinski's work
  on U.S. collector demographics, Bob Leonard writes:
  "I've got a copy of the second edition of Dr. Robert 
  Bilinski's A Guide To Coin Investment, copyright 1958.  
  The text is mimeographed (!) on two colors of paper.  
  To answer Dick's question, the collector demographics 
  material appears in Chapter IV, pp. 20-65.  Bilinski 
  was nothing if not precise [Dave Bowers would choke on 
  this claimed accuracy]:  "There are currently 2,118,250 
  coin collectors over 13 years of age in the United 
  States; this figure represents an increase of 178,250 
  over the 1957 total...There are 53,000 hard-core 
  collectors...individuals who collect coins with all 
  the interest and energy they can muster [not, thank 
  goodness, collectors of "hard core"]...882,000 active 
  collectors...210,000 fringe collectors...746,000 passive
  collectors...227,250 temporary collectors."  Taken as 
  rough ratios, these numbers may have some meaning.

  Skipping over the distribution of collectors by state 
  ("South Dakota...4,236", etc.), we come to AGE DISTRIBUTION
  presented as a bar chart, so I can't quote any figures, 
  but the tallest bar is 46-55, with 36-45 second.  I 
  believe that Numismatic News just completed a readership 
  survey, and the average age of a NN reader was 59.  I 
  think this is borne out by recent surveys at the ANA and 
  Coin World, i.e., that the average ANA member/Coin World 
  reader is in his late 50s.  So there does seem to have 
  been some aging of collectors since Dr. Bilinski's 1958 
  survey, though his inclusion of "passive" and "temporary" 
  collectors may have skewed the results.

  Leafing through this book, one is struck by how utterly 
  useless it is as a guide to coin investment for our 
  time.  None of the things now considered important (MS 65
  or better condition, certified by a major grading service,
  rainbow toning, Deep Mirror Cameo, Registry Set Quality, 
  recovered from a famous shipwreck, etc.) is even 
  contemplated, let alone considered.  But it was right on 
  target for the late 50s - early 60s, with Bilinski's 
  forecasted prices for future years being quickly surpassed. 
  There is a lesson here for anyone presuming to advise 
  others on long-term investment in hard assets."


  Bill  Rosenblum writes: "The Denver Post of December 12th
  had an article titled "Unpopular Coin Now Golden. The 
  article, as usual for a mainstream publication by 
  someone who knows little about numismatics, contained 
  numerous half truths that will of course lead the public
  to believe that their Sacagawea dollars are worth "as 
  much as $500 among collectors". I can see people lining 
  up at coin stores trying to sell the coins for hundreds 
  of dollars and when told what they are really worth will,
  of course, be angry at the coin dealer.  Both James 
  Taylor of ICG and Doug Mudd, curator of the ANA museum 
  are quoted in the article or perhaps paraphrased."

  To read the article, see: Full Story


  Saul Teichman writes: "Here are seven splashers some of 
  whose existence was unconfirmed or not seen by modern 
  researchers until now:


   (2nd known example)

   (2nd known example)

   (4th known example)



  Morten Eske Mortensen writes; "At this weblink I have 
  translated a (satirical) text into English concerning
  book production:

  How to Produce a Book


  Tom Fort forwarded the following from the online magazine
  Slate.  Those who have placed book and other orders with and been perplexed trying to find human 
  assistance may find  the Amazon customer support phone 
  number useful,  particularly in this last week before the 
  Christmas holiday.  I've not tried the number, and for 
  all I know it may have already been changed to hide it 
  again.  But here goes:
  "A journalist, if he's lucky, gets at most one chance in
  life to leave a lasting legacy. Jacob Riis exposed the 
  horrors of tenement life. John Hersey limned the agonies
  that befell individual Japanese when the Enola Gay dropped 
  the first atom bomb. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein 
  exposed the dark crimes and vile corruption at the heart 
  of the Nixon administration.

  And me? If, after my journey is ended through this vale 
  of tears, I should be favored with remembrance, it will 
  likely be for the succor I provided holiday shoppers. 
  It was I who discovered the customer service number 


  In this season of celebration, I have received many 
  e-mails from readers prostrate with gratitude that, 
  like Stanley tramping through the African jungle in 
  search of Livingstone, I dug this number out from the 
  Web's darkest recesses and shared it with the world. 
  I offer it here again for those who didn't think to 
  Google the words "Amazon" and "phone number." 


  To read the full article, see: Full Story


  This week's featured web site is,
  featuring the medal collection of Benjamin Weiss.
  "Welcome to my collection of Historical and Commemorative 
  Medals. At this site you will find images and descriptions 
  of over 300 medals, both European and American, dating 
  from the 16th through the 19th centuries."

     Featured Web Site
  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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