The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 7, Number 52, December 26, 2004: 
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society. 
Copyright (c) 2004, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


  By publishing a day late we are able to report that E-Sylum
  subscriber and contributor Kavan Ratnatunga and his family
  are safe following yesterday's devastating tsunami which hit
  Sri Lanka and other coastal nations.  In response to an email,
  he writes: "Thanks for you concern.  The Tsunami did do a lot
  of damage in Lanka as you would have read in the news, but 
  mostly in the south and east of the island, with death tolls 
  expected to be over 5000. All is well with my family.  I 
  live about 1/4 mile away from the sea and didn't know about
  it till we saw the News on TV."

  Kavan plans to go out in few days to the badly struck parts
  of the island to see what needs to be done to help.  Asked 
  how we can best contribute to relief efforts, he writes:
  "If you want to contribute, let me suggest LAcNet a US 
  non-profit organization which is coordination it's effort 

  I have been involved with it since it was founded in 1991 
  and will be its secretary in 2005"

  LAcNet is the Lanka Academic Network.   Donations are 
  accepted by credit card on the web site, or via a check 
  payable to "Lanka Academic Network" (and marked "Tidal Wave 
  Victims") sent to: Daya Weerakkody, LAcNet Treasurer, 9603 
  Avenel Road, Silver Spring, MD 20903-2311, USA. All donations 
  are tax-deductible in the USA. LAcNet US Tax Id: 411-69-1170. 


  Howard A. Daniel III writes that he was informed by the 
  American Numismatic Association that the bourse is sold out
  at the Kansas City ANA and no tables were reserved for 
  clubs. So he will not be manning an IBNS/NBS/NI club table
  and passing out world paper money for IBNS, world coins for
  NI, and numismatic catalogs for NBS. Howard usually passes
  out about 300 pieces of paper money, 3000 world coins and
  about 5-6 catalogs at each ANA, plus recruiting new members 
  and/or renewing memberships. With no club table, Howard is
  strongly considering not attending the show.  Are there 
  other IBNS, NBS and NI members out there who will moderate 
  the meetings?


  A software solution from Xerox labs, announced last month 
  at a conference in Xi'an, China, may hold a part of the 
  solution to Google's daunting book-scanning problems, and
  should delight librarians and researchers as well.  From
  a recent article:

  "If you've ever copied pages from a book, you're familiar
  with the problem -- dark, distorted words where the page 
  is bound into the book," said Xerox spokesperson Bill 
  McKee. "To correct it, most of us use the 'brute force' 
  method for getting readable copies -- pushing the book to
  flatten it against the glass scanning surface, called the

  Library science 101 at the elementary grade level   
  emphasizes one point above all else -- don't bend the book
  and damage the spine.  Xerox researchers Beilei Xu and 
  Robert Loce have proposed a simple solution that should 
  make librarians everywhere stand up and cheer -- a 
  mathematical formula incorporated in the software of 
  common scanners that eliminates the book-breaking problem. 

  "The programming of a mathematical algorithm to correct 
  for the book's warped appearance on a copy machine will 
  work," said City College of New York computer science 
  professor George Wolberg. "The challenge is to find the 
  spatial transformation that accurately models the distortion, 
  and this is precisely where the Xerox method excels." 

  "When a book page is not in uniform, intimate contact with 
  the scanning surface, there are actually two distinct 
  problems," Loce explained. "The variation in illumination 
  causes some portions of the copy to be darker than others, 
  and the variation in distance from the scanning surface 
  causes letters or objects farther from the surface to look

  "At one time, Xerox sold a copier with an angled edge and 
  articulated cover so people could copy pages without 
  cracking books all the way open," McKee told NewsFactor. 
  "Another solution is dedicated book scanners with height 
  sensors, so the book lies face up, and scanning takes 
  place from above it." 

  Instead of changing the hardware, Xu and Loce decided to 
  look at an easier solution. 

  They changed the software, inexpensively. 

  "Since the Xerox solution requires no special apparatus and
  all corrections are based solely on the digital image itself,
  this has huge implications on cost. It can be applied 
  directly on very low-cost scanners," Wolberg explained. 

  Using the same light that copy scanners shine and analyze, 
  "we use the sensed light to also determine the distance of
  the book from the platen for each pixel on the page," Xu 
  told NewsFactor. "Normally the light only provides 
  information on the reflectance of the original document." 

  The new copier software mathematically compensates for 
  variation in distance from the platen along a bound book 

  It eliminates the darker portion of the copy where the 
  page is bound into the book and "de-warps" the normally
  distorted words running along the center of the page."

  To read the full article, see: Full Story


  Jorg Lueke, creator of The Electronic Numismatist 
  profiled in previous issues writes: "I have three 
  comments on this issue.  Regarding Michael's Marotta's 
  review I am happy to report that the new version was 
  created and went out at the end of last week.  Anyone 
  who had ordered the first version has received an
  updated copy.  As stated in the note the main update 
  was to correct some blank pages as well as some header
  inconsistencies.  If anyone else notices any problems 
  I'd love to hear and correct them at 
  numismatist at

  On the Google effort of digitization I am very intrigued. 
  It obviously is an idea after my own heart and had I 
  the capital something I certainly would consider.  I do
  think the timetable is rather aggressive, not so much for 
  scanning, but for fixing all the little bugs.  Character 
  recognition software has issues even with the typefaces 
  used in the old volumes of the Numismatist, it is also 
  very sensitive to the contrast of type to paper.  The 
  latter characteristic can weaken rather quickly.  So I 
  think we'll see scanned books sonner.  But properly 
  indexed and error free ones a few years later.  Still, 
  as knowledge becomes digital it will become ever more 
  accessible, and as the delivery of digital works becomes 
  easier to read (paper books that display digital works)
  the amount of knowledge at each of our fingertips will
  increase exponentially.

  The only other drawback is today's copyright law.  
  Designed to protect the intellectual property of 
  corporations in perpetuity the law protects all works 
  without distinction from 1964 onward.  Maybe that's O.K.
  for Donald Duck but if an author wrote three numismatic 
  pamphlets in the early 1970s and then passed away it 
  can be almost impossible to track down the heirs and
  acquire the rights.  Requiring a renewal after 28 years 
  would protect all those who sought to extend their 
  copyright will allowing the flow of information into 
  the public domain to happen much more readily."


  On December 21, The Times published an obituary of Near 
  Eastern coinage expert Henry Hart: 

  "The Rev Henry Hart, divinity scholar and Dean of Queens' 
  College, Cambridge, was born on April 15, 1912. He died 
  on October 30, 2004, aged 92."

  "Hart also formed a notable collection of Greek and 
  Roman coins to illustrate his Semitic studies and the 
  history of the ancient Near East. It contained some major
  rarities and was remarkable for the complete series of 
  the coinage of the Seleucid kings of Syria, and in forming
  it he bought the finest specimens available. He presented
  his collections to the Fitzwilliam Museum in 1963 and 
  1969. He was an honorary fellow of the Royal Numismatic 

  "The office of dean at Queens' in that period involved 
  running the chapel and being head of discipline. In 
  those days of curfews and locked gates, Hart once caught
  an undergraduate climbing into college late at night. 
  Poised on the top of the railings, and seeing the dean 
  below, the student exclaimed, "O, God!" "No - just his 
  earthly representative," replied Hart, a quip that has 
  not only gone down in Cambridge folklore but also 
  serves as a typical example of Hart's ready wit."

  To read the full article, see: Full Story


  Regarding last week's word of the arrest of a suspect
  In the death of numismatic filmmaker Mike Craven, Fred
  Lake writes:  "I am very happy that we have some 
  dedicated law enforcement people in our country. Mike 
  Craven was a customer and friend some five years ago. 
  We spent much fine time on the telephone discussing 
  numismatic literature and its place in describing the 
  events that shaped numismatics in the early years of
  this country. 

  His was a senseless death and I hope that the perpetrator 
  will get some richly deserved "justice."


  On January 1st, residents of Turkey will have six fewer 
  zeros to deal with on their nation's currency, as the 
  country issues New Turkish Lira at the rate of one to a
  million of the current units.  From a Reuters news article:

  "One Turkish coffee, medium-sweet? That'll be two million
  lira, please.

  Visitors to Turkey are often perplexed by the plethora of
  zeros that confronts them at every financial turn. Even 
  Turks themselves get a little tired of being nominal 

  A new pair of shoes? One hundred million. A new washing 
  machine? One billion five hundred and thirty million."

  "But from January 1 all that will change when Turkey's 
  central bank lops six zeros off the currency, creating 
  the New Turkish Lira at the rate of one to a million of
  the current units."

  "Turkey boasts the world's highest denomination current 
  banknote, for 20 million lira -- worth about 8 pounds. 
  The smallest coin in routine use is 50,000 lira, or 
  nearly 2 pence."

  "Even quite routine sums need a wider than average 
  calculator screen. Bank cash machines have an extra 
  key for three zeros, saving customers the trouble of 
  multiple prodding."
  Full Story

  [Is Turkey's note truly the current record holder for
  highest denomination?  Is anyone aware of a higher-
  denominated note in circulation today?   What is the
  all-time record holder?  I'm guessing one from the 
  post-WWI German or Hungarian inflation eras, but I
  know one of our astute readers will have an answer for
  us.  -Editor]


  Reid Goldsborough writes: "I don't know if you've seen
  this yet, about the (often confusing) SNG books for 
  attributing ancient Greek coins."

  From the web page: "After Sear, the most commonly used
  attribution reference in the U.S. for ancient Greek 
  coins is SNG Cop. This stands for Sylloge Nummorum 
  Graecorum: The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, 
  Danish National Museum (in Copenhagen). SNG Cop. was 
  originally published as a 43-volume set from 1942 until
  1977 and has since been republished as an eight-volume 
  set. It's valued for its comprehensiveness -- among 
  other things, compared with Sear, it includes many more 
  Greek-era coin types and varieties of the same coin 
  type as well as Greek Imperial/Roman Provincial coin 
  types. What's more, compared with some other SNGs, it's
  in English, so it's nearly universally accessible.

  Many other SNGs exist as well and are used to attribute 
  coins, since far more coin types and varieties exist 
  than are documented even in SNG Cop."

  Full Story


  Last week we mentioned the U.S. paper money collection
  assembled by Malcolm Trask.  An anonymous subscriber 
  writes: " With reference to your article about the subway
  motorman who amassed a significant paper money collection, 
  I can contribute the following:  In a discussion with 
  Allen Mincho about two months ago, he told me that Trask 
  kept a very low profile.  He was not widely known.  
  Whatever research he did was probably for his own benefit. 
  Allen had met Trask at a NYC show in the late 60's.  By
  that time, Trask was no longer pursuing paper money."


  Saul Teichman writes: "You may want to note the in the 
  next E-Sylum Heritage's FUN sale offering of the 3 types 
  of Brasher Doubloons.  Pretty neat !!"

Lot #30015
Lot #30016 
Lot #30017


  Many apologies for the recent email glitches, particularly
  the garbage character problem with issue v7#49.  Some of
  you requested a clean copy which I'm unable to provide at 
  this time.  One reader has provided instructions for 

  Alan Luedeking writes: "For those of you who are anal 
  about archiving a hardcopy of every E-Sylum issue as 
  valuable numismatic literature, and are bothered by the 
  "garbage character" glitches in v7#49, here's a suggested

  1) Open the message containing the corrupted 
     E-Sylum v7#49.
  2) Make sure you select the option in your email 
     message to allow the message to be edited.
  3) Open Microsoft Word.
  4) Go to 
  5) Select ONLY the entire text of the newsletter, 
     right click, then Copy.
  6) Paste the text into a blank Word document. 
     It will paste as a single cell Table.
  7) Now select the entire text again, being careful
     to omit the cell character at the end.
  8) Select Left Justify in your Paragraph formatting
     options and Copy again.
  9) Select the entire text of your corrupted email 
     message and Paste over it.

  Voilá, you know have a perfect E-Sylum vol 7 #49 sans 
  garbage characters, and formatted exactly the way Wayne 
  sends them all out. No doubt other much shorter and 
  simpler avenues exist, such as using the Replace command
  to delete unwanted characters, but this worked for me, 
  and my E-Sylum collection remains complete and (almost) 


  ... but the reasons are downright pedestrian compared
  to why Mark Switzer, editor of the Early American 
  Coppers, Inc. Region 8 was late publishing last week.
  in the #434 - December 19, 2004 issue, he writes about
  his neighbor's calamity:

  "I apologize for getting this newsletter out a day 
  late. My usual weekend routine was seriously interrupted.
  The neighbors, 3 doors down the street were having 5
  large trees removed from around the house on Saturday. 
  The tree company had contracted with a local crane 
  service to assist. While removing a large upper section
  from the third tree, the 85 ton 160' tall crane tipped 
  over and crushed the house. No one was hurt, not even 
  the pets. Both the crane ($800,000) and the house 
  ($200,000) are total losses."


  The following quote was brought to our attention by NewsScan 

  No harm's done to history by making it something someone 
  would want to read." (David McCollough)

  [Of course, it cold be argued that readable but inaccurate
  written history does more harm than good.  In numismatics,
  there are innumerable conjectures on the part of writers
  that have come to be accepted as fact by later generations
  until (and sometime long after) it has been demonstrated that
  no primary evidence exists to verify them.  -Editor]


  Last week we wrote that 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.

  Chris Fuccione and I both suggested the obvious starting
  point of the wheat-back Lincol Cent 1909-1959.  Rich Hartzog
  writes: "I can supply items and/or images of a number of 
  world tokens/medals with wheat.  Please pass on my email, 

  We'll forward Rich's offer to the folks at USBG.


  In response to a query, Dick Johnson wrote up the following
  discussion of white metal, always a confusing subject in
  numismatic attribution:

  "What you have is "white metal." This is a loose term that
  does not have an exact formulation, but whose major component
  is tin. It most often has lead mixed with the tin. It was 
  widely used in England, where a tinsmith industry flourished 
  because of the active production of the tin mines in Western 
  England. It was used to make utensils and plates for the 
  lower class who could not afford silver (or later, silverplate)  
  utensils. (But the lead leached into the food and the result
  was some lead poisoning.)

  But it was ideal for medals. It is softer than bronze, 
  silver and other medal compositions, but harder than pure 
  tin. Pure tin also has the shortcoming of being affected 
  by temperature (it changes at temperature below freezing) 
  but this is less so for white metal. Because of its 
  softness white metal is ideal for striking. I have never 
  seen a cast white metal object (perhaps this is 

  White metal does resemble aluminum. But aluminum did not
  become commercially available until electricity became 
  available (thank you, Thomas Edison who established the 
  first electric generation plant in Philadelphia). Since 
  aluminum requires a large amount of electricity to purify
  it, it becme available only after the development of 
  electric generation (about 1890). In America white metal 
  fell into disuse after aluminum became widely available.

  White metal is often called pewter, which it closely 
  resembles. In cataloging medals of light weight silver 
  color they are often called many things -- tin, lead, 
  pewter and others -- but it is best to call it white metal.

  Tin can be impressed with your fingernail, as can pure 
  lead. White metal is not dented this easily. "Pot metal" 
  can frequently be indented with your fingernail because 
  of the great use of these soft metals. It is not suitable 
  for medals. Like white metal, pewter also has no specific 
  formulation (but is a mixture of whatever was tossed into 
  the melting pot, hence the name)

  If your bronze and white metal medals were award medals, 
  the white metal ranked the very lowest, even below bronze 
  (with silver and gold above, of course)."


  A December 24, 2004 story in the London Times notes 
  that Britain's largest bank robbery could lead to 
  the withdrawal of an entire issue of Northern 
  Ireland currency.

  "The home of leading Belfast Republican Eddie Copeland 
  was being searched today by police in the hunt to recover 
  £22 million stolen in Britain's biggest bank raid."

  "The robbers held the families of two bank workers 
  hostage for 24 hours, forcing the two staff to help them
  carry out the heist at the headquarters of the Northern 
  Bank in Belfast on Monday night. £22 million was taken, 
  £12 million of it in distinctive Northern Ireland 

  Today the Northern Bank revealed that it is considering
  a plan to withdraw from circulation every single 
  banknote that it has issued. The move would make much 
  of the stolen money impossible to spend, although it 
  would also cause enormous problems for legitimate 

  "On Sunday night, some of the robbers posed as police 
  officers breaking news of the death of a relative to 
  gain entrance to the two bankers' houses.

  The families of Chris Warde, 23, and his supervisor, 
  Kevin McMullan, 30, were held hostage as the pair 
  were ordered to report for work at midday on Monday, 
  where their jobs took them into the cash centre in 
  the basement of the bank in Donegall Square West.

  One of the bank workers was ordered to test the 
  security by walking out of the building with a holdall 
  containing £1 million. He was not spotted by security 
  staff, and passed the bag to one of the gangsters, 
  disguised in a hat and scarf, who was standing round
  the corner in Upper Queen Street.

  Over the next two hours, huge quantities of banknotes 
  were loaded into crates and boxes. On two occasions, 
  at around 7pm and around 8pm, the van, larger than a 
  Transit and with a distinctive tail-lift, called at 
  the bank's side entrance to collect them."

  To read the full story: Full Story


  On Sunday December 26, 2004, a story about the discovery
  of a common 18th century coin in Boonsboro, MD made the 
  local papers, with a guest appearance by NBS board member
  John Kraljevich:

  "Masonry contractor Clyde Barnhart didn't have to finish 
  his renovation to the historic Boone Hotel building in 
  Boonsboro before getting paid for his work. He dug up a 
  reward worth more to him than money soon after he started 
  the project this fall.

  The self-described "history nut" and relic hunter 
  discovered a 1775 British coin beneath the rotting 
  floorboards of the more than 200-year-old building. The 
  front side of the worn, copper half-penny includes a bust
  of King George III with the words "Georgius III Rex." 
  The back side of the coin reads "Brittania."

  Despite its age, the coin isn't worth much - to anyone 
  except Barnhart and Boone Hotel owner Mark Webb. The 
  229-year-old coin today is worth between $5 and $10, said
  John J. Kraljevich Jr. of Annapolis, director of numismatic 
  research for New Hampshire-based American Numismatic 
  Rarities. That half penny would be equivalent to about a 
  half dollar in today's economy, he said."

  "I don't care about the value; it's the historical 
  significance to me," said Barnhart, 55, of Hagerstown. 
  After finding the coin with his metal detector, he 
  cleaned it up with lemon juice and gave it to Webb to 
  frame and mount above the old brick fireplace near 
  where he uncovered his treasure."

  "The hotel was one of the first five buildings 
  constructed in Boonsboro after William and George 
  Boone founded the town in 1792..."

  To read the full story, see:
  Full Story


  Two years ago Dick Johnson sent us a Christmas poem 
  "Give Santa A Medal" (E-Sylum, vol 5, no 51 December 22, 
  2002). This year he sends us a follow up to that poem.


  'Two days after Christmas,
  And all through coin land,
  Collectors and coin buyers
  Check their collections at hand.

  Bullion coin buyers
  Return from bank vaults,
  Empty-handed from divesting,
  False coins without faults.

  Proof coin set collectors
  Both eyes with a glint
  Just received two packages
  From our American Mint.

  Lincoln diebreak collectors
  Adjust microscopes,
  A cent with mint flaws
  Increases their hopes!

  Those foreign coin collectors
  Prize items at hand
  World pleasure experienced
  From every coin's far-off land.

  Asylum book members
  Still high you can see,
  Received a rare tome
  He now reads with great glee!

  But this holiday Santa,
  A medal collector he,
  Got a new specimen
  For the family to see.

  He holds up his prize
  For his family's eyes.
  And claims with great mettle
  "Santa DID get his medal!"

  H A P P Y   N E W   Y E A R ! "


  This week's featured web site is devoted to Austrian
  Calendar Medals.  "The Calendar Medals (Kalendermedaille)
  produced by the Austrian Mint probably had their origin 
  in 1933.  They have been minted annually ever since and 
  are a fascinating series of medals with superb designs 
  which were executed by master engravers and minters.  
  They usually depict one of the seven planets known to 
  ancient astrologers (in astrology the Sun and Moon are 
  treated as planets) or by their manifestation as deities 
  generally Roman) or at least by a closely related theme. 
  The reverses usually have a calendar of all the Sundays 
  of the year as well as the dates of major holidays 
  surrounding the calendar design. For many of the 
  Calendar Medals, customized versions were created for
  the Mint's customers."

  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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