The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

PREV        NEXT        V10 2007 INDEX        E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 10, Number 3, January 21, 2007:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2007, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Sam Pennington, courtesy of Dave
Bowers, Owen Linzmayer, Charlie Rohrer, Masashi Kishi, Guy Coffee,
Carroll G. Hughes, John Parker, Donald L. Smith, John Mutch and
Sydney F. Martin.  Welcome aboard!  We now have 1,051 subscribers.

A number of our recent subscribers have come to us as a result of an
article in the ANA's Numismatist magazine.  Others have come from
recommendations by readers in the Colonial Coin Collectors Club Yahoo
eGroup.  Still others have found us via web searches.  It's always
nice to welcome new subscribers.  For those reading The E-Sylum for
the first time, refer to my comments in this space in our previous
issue for more background on what we're about:

This issue opens with discussions of literature on emergency paper
money of the Franco-Prussian War, numismatics in fiction, essential
books on U.S. medals, and a contemplated reprint of the Wurtzbach
booklet on Massachusetts silver coinage.  In a bit of a diversion we
also discuss numismatics and the early Internet, including a boost
to Google's massive library book digitization project.

Doug Andrews' earlier request for information for a museum professional
becoming a numismatic curator bears more fruit this week, with
contributions from Bob Leonard, Douglas Mudd and Larry Lee.  In other
follow-up submissions, Bob Evans responds to our recent speculation
on the sinking of the S.S. Central America, and Eric Newman chimes in
with a research question relating to the Albany Church Penny.

The spy coin article featured last week has been repudiated by the
U.S. government, but the item did prompt Dick Johnson to review his
earlier proposal for adding serial numbers and microchips to certain
U.S. coins.  Finally, Alan Weinberg discusses a theory on the rash
of robberies of coin dealers traveling from the FUN show.

Is your wife giving you a hard time about the time and money you spend
on your numismatic hobby?  Trade her away (for a couple weeks) via ABC's
'Wife Swap' program.  To learn how, read on.  Have a great week, everyone.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Last week Dick Doty asked if there already existed a good reference on
the emergency paper money of the Franco-Prussian War.   Bob Leonard
writes: "In 1976 the Societe Francaise de Numismatique [sorry about
the missing accent marks], Paris, published 'Monnaies de Necessite,
Emissions locales Francaises 1870 - 1872, 1914 - 1918 - 1924, 1940'
by Raymond Habrekorn.

"This is a tape-bound photocopied typescript of 196+ pages, with a table
of contents, map, and 15 plates.  Emergency paper money of the Franco-
Prussian War is covered on pp. 3-47 and plates I and II.  The treatment
appears to be quite thorough."


Peter Gaspar writes: "In the recent E-Sylum review of Jamie Clifford's
"Double Daggers" sparked a note from Ginger Rapsus about novels with
numismatic themes.  Let me blow my own horn by reminding readers about
the annotated bibliography: P. P. Gaspar and C. M. Carlisle,
'Numismatics in Fiction', The Asylum  XV, 20-43 (1997).

"There were about 150 entries then, and we shall soon publish a
supplement with 50 more, including, of course, "Double Daggers,"
which I greatly enjoyed.

"Over the years E-Sylum subscribers have helped in our quest for
additional material for the bibliography, and we continue to welcome
new suggestions."


Dave Bowers writes: "I enjoyed the recent items about Loubat. When
anyone asks how to learn about medals, I always recommend the “big
three” for a core group: Betts, Loubat, and Julian.

"There are some highly important medals not listed, as Betts covers
pre-federal medals, Julian covers U.S. Mint medals 1792-1892, and
Loubat is mainly about congressional medals. The 1787 Columbia and
Washington medal and the 1858 S.S. Central America medal (Captain
Herndon, and the 1857 disaster) are two of them. And, of course,
the field of 20th century medals is another great subject not
presently covered by even a handy introductory guide, let alone
an in-depth treatment."

[The Stack's Ford Sale catalogs will be a great interim reference
on the topic until new references are published.  Is anyone at
work on manuscripts to fill the gaps Dave mentions?  -Editor]


An exchange this week on the Yahoo Colonial Coin newsgroup concerned
a scarce booklet on Massachusetts silver coinage.  With permission
I've complied and edited parts of the discussion for The E-Sylum.

Roger Sibioni writes: "Back in 1937, Carl Wurtzbach, a fairly
well-heeled collector, put together a set of photographic plates
on Massachusetts Silver coins based on Crosby numbers. He purchased
most of his coins from Charles E. Clapp. At the time he thought it
to be one of the most comprehensive collections ever assembled
(and it still is)."

Mike Packard writes: "Carl A. Wurtzbach was a fellow Massachusetts
resident from the western part of the state who was president of the
Lee National Bank. He was a cousin of Virgil Brand, collected large
cents and colonials and perhaps other series. He donated his
Massachusetts coppers to the American Numismatic Society. He died
in 1947 and many of his coins, including the large cents, were sold
in the Barney Bluestone sale of 1948. Wurtzbach was president of the
ANA from 1917 to 1919. In 1937 he published a pamphlet "Massachusetts
Colonial Silver Money" that is available to American Numismatic
Association members from the ANA Library."

Dan Freidus writes: "I'd be a bit surprised if the ANA library lets
Wurtzbach on Massachusetts silver circulate. I sold my copy back when
I was raising money to buy my first house. But I made copies of the
plates (4x5 negatives) and text for a reprint edition that Ken Lowe
and I were going to publish. The project has been sitting on the
shelf since Ken died but the sale of the Wurtzbach/Ford collection
probably makes this a good time for me to see about printing up new
plates and working with my binder so I can put them out."

"It would be a deluxe edition (25 or 50 copies) with real photo
plates (not halftones, but I haven't decided if they'd be digital
prints or classic silver prints on real photographic paper. Which
one I choose probably depends on pricing since with real photos, book
would probably have to cost $250-300, while with digital prints I
might be able to hold the cost down to $150-200. Either way, these
would be high quality prints, text on acid-free paper, all bound in
a handmade cloth binding."

[The original Wurtzbach is scarce; I believe I paid over $500 for my
copy in a long-ago Money Tree literature sale.   Ken Lowe catalogued
the Money Tree numismatic literature sales until his death, when David
Sklow took over for a time.  The U.S. numismatic literature scene just
hasn't been the same without Ken.  His enthusiasm for the topic was
profuse and infectious. The E-Sylum came along after he was gone.  If
you think the issues are big now, imagine how much bigger they would
be with Ken as a regular contributor!  -Editor]


Roger Sibioni writes: "We are all fans of The E-Sylum in the colonial
crowd. Almost every serious Colonial Collector is a bibliophile to
some degree or you simply can't collect.

"I have been in the technology business almost my whole life dating
back to blue box phones and as I was reading your column the other
day about pioneering blogging, I must say that you are right. The
E-Sylum is one of the first non-pure technical sharing postings I
can recall - congratulations. By the way, the predecessor to the
Colonial Coins Yahoo Groups was the CompuServe Coins Message Board
which also hosted one of the first regular live chat rooms circa
mid 1980s. I guess Numismatists have an interesting blend of desire
to share, a technical aptitude, and patience to work through new
technology that makes them early adopters."

[My first experience with marrying technology and numismatics came
in the early 1980s when I worked as a consultant on the COINS system.
Partly backed by Michigan dealer Joe Lepcyzk, it was a very early
numismatic chat and buying/selling venue.  It was dial-up computer
application in the days before the World Wide Web.  Fine idea, but
it was too far ahead of its time.  Only a handful of geeks like
myself had access to remote terminals and modems, and what could
have been an early "eBay" system fizzled.

But the software had a second life.  CEO Larry Brilliant packed up
for the west coast where he hooked up with Steward Brand (of "The
Whole Earth Catalog" fame) and started The Well, the first successful
computer chat system.  Larry went on to run a number of other
technology ventures, and now he's with Google as their director of
corporate philanthropy.  So numismatics had more of a role in
technology development than some might presume.

My own career in technology led me to Lycos, one of the first Internet
search engines, where I was a product manager for new search features.
One feature we rolled out was a index of frequently-updated news web
sites, created several times a day to help keep our search results
current.  When the Columbine school massacre occurred, Lycos was the
only search engine to have information on the event.  But company
management, in their infinite wisdom, decided that search technology
was maturing and becoming a commodity - so they decided to stop
development and outsource search to a third party.  Duh!  One of the
canned projects we had underway was a cluster of inexpensive PCs to
replace the million-dollar DEC machines used at the time.  Later Google
came along with a similar architecture (and a far better business model),
and the rest is history.

Coincidentally, on Friday night I had a very pleasant dinner conversation
with Vint Cerf and his wife.  Vint is widely regarded as the 'father of
the Internet' - he led the team which developed the early cold-war
defense communications network which became the Internet we know today.
It was great fun swapping war stories.  Oh yeah - he works for Google
now, too.

This trip down memory lane does swerve back to numismatics.  Just
recently we discussed the Presidential Medal of Freedom in The E-Sylum,
noting those honored in this year's recent White House ceremony.  Who
was among the previous awardees?  Vint Cerf (in 2005).

It is a well-deserved honor.  I was delighted to have a chance to meet
him.  How often does one meet a man whose work changed history?  The
Internet has brought about incredible changes in communication,
efficiency, and wealth.  It's given me a career and has given all of
us the opportunity to share our knowledge about our hobby in ways
undreamed of in the past.  Thanks, Vint.  -Editor]

To read Google's bio of Larry Brilliant, see:
Brilliant Bio

To read Google's bio of Vint Cerf, see:
bio of Vint Cerf


Speaking of Google, Dick Johnson forwarded the following article
noting that the company has added another University library to
its massive book digitization project.

"The more than one million written works at the University of Texas
library in Austin will be converted to digital format and added to
Google Books Library Project, according to the Internet search

"The university's collection includes rare books and manuscripts
from early Latin American history, Google said.

"The Google Book Search project was initiated in 2004 with the aim
of scanning every literary work into digital format and making them
available online.

"Google has partnerships with the New York Public Library and
major universities such as Harvard, Oxford, Complutense of Madrid
and the University of California to add their collections to its
virtual book shelves.

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[Have any of our readers been tracking the numismatic titles in
the Google project archive?  -Editor]


In response to Doug Andrews' request for information for a museum
professional becoming a numismatic curator, Bob Leonard writes:
"For conservation and registrarial issues I highly recommend David
William MacDowall's 'Coin Collections - Their Preservation,
Classification and Presentation' (UNESCO, Paris, 1978).  From the
Preface:  "This publication, the first of its kind, is intended
to accompany a video-cassette and kit for practical training of
middle-level professionals responsible for the preservation,
classification and presentation of coin collections."

"I have never seen the video, but my copy (purchased from Frank
W. Joel Ltd., Norfolk, in 1984) came with a transcript of it.  It
has the best advice on cleaning [ancient hoard and sunken treasure
coins] and when NOT to clean that I have ever seen.  Also included
are illustrations of coin envelopes, coin cabinets, trays, tickets,
and coin exhibits at the British Museum.  There is a chapter on
registration of accessions; this book was of course published before
the invention of the personal computer, but its advice on what
information to record still applies."

Douglas Mudd, Curator of Exhibitions at the American Numismatic
Association writes: "The ANA offers a week-long course at our Summer
Seminar designed to introduce museum and library professionals to
numismatics - 'Numismatics for Museum Professionals.'  The course
will be traveling in an abbreviated format to ANA conventions,
beginning with the upcoming spring show in Charlotte.  There are
scholarships available for qualified museum and library

"To Dick Doty's excellent list of books, I would add 'Money: A
History' edited by Jonathan Williams (a second edition sometime
within the next year) - it is based on the British Museum's collection
with chapters written by their curators.  There is also Elvira Clain-
Stefanelli's 'Beauty and Lore of Money' (if you can find it) based
on the Smithsonian collection.

"For those interested, we have an 'Eid Mar' denarius on display
in our 'Money of the Ancient World' exhibit..."


Also in response to the call for suggestions on coins and museums,
former American Numismatic Association museum director Dr. Larry
Lee submitted the following:

"I would first caution Doug Andrews’ friend that the numismatic world
uses two words differently than they are used in the museum world:
“conservation” and “curate” both have different meanings for the
museum professional than the do for coin collectors. Most of the
“conservation” methods used by both amateur and professionals in
the numismatic world would curl the hair (literally?) of the
professional metal conservator, who may be aghast at some of the
methods and chemicals used by the coin doctors in “curating” their
coins. The professional museum conservator, who publish their methods
in scientific journals, would also not condone the fact that  many
of the coin conservators consider their methods to be private or
proprietary and will not actually reveal what they have done in
curating the coin.

"That caution aside, Mr. Andrews’ museum friend may already be familiar
with the CCI Notes series published by the Canadian Conservation Institute.
Each Note is a technical bulletin that contain practical advice about
the care, handling, and storage of various materials, including metal
and other numismatically-related materials such as leather, ivory,
feathers, and shells. Series N9 deals with metal objects in general,
with 9/7, for instance, covering the removal of “tarnish” from silver.
Series 11 covers the conservation of paper. CCI also carries the book
“Metals and Corrosion: A Handbook for the Conservation Professional”
by Lyndsie Selwyn. As good as these resources are, none of them mention
or treat coins, medals, tokens or paper money in depth.

"Filling that void is another Canadian product, Coin World columnist
Susan Maltby. Her monthly article is a great resource on numismatic
conservation issues from a museum perspective. In past columns Susan
has treated light, mold, temperature and humidity, handling, oxidation
and many other conservation aspects of coins.

"Finally, while I was at the ANA, Doug Mudd and I developed a week-long
Summer Seminar class on “Numismatics for the Museum Professional” which
was just what the name suggested: a class covering handling, housing,
cataloging, displaying and deaccessioning numismatic collections. A
condensed version of this class is being offered by the ANA at Charlotte
on Mar 14-15 and Mr. Andrews’ friend may also want to consider that

"Regarding an introduction to numismatics, Dr. Doty’s recommendation of
Philip Grierson’s “Numismatics” is, unfortunately, indeed as good as it
gets. I say unfortunately because despite its obvious depth and
Grierson’s brilliance, the book was written thirty-two years ago by
an English don who spent his entire life living on campus at Oxford,
it deals primarily with ancient coins and it was published before most
of the current eddies in American numismatics (grading, assay bar
fraud, manufactured rarities) were even swirling.

"Further, Greierson wrote from the perspective of European scholar
who operated in a world where numismatics was accepted as an academic
discipline and he thus took for granted his reader’s familiarity with
research methodologies, standardized techniques and the rigorous
testing behind scientific investigation. The book thus loses something
in the translation to an American audience where numismatics is
considered a hobby with a healthy overlay of commercialism and little
or no scholarly recognition at the university level.

"The cold truth, which should be self-evident to this bibliophilic group,
is that there is no single “Principles of Numismatics” textbook in our
field to recommend to this outside professional! Imagine geology or
archeology, two observational sciences that grew alongside numismatics
during the mid-1800s without a textbook called “Principles of Geology”
or “Principles of Archeology”. Impossible! Yet not for numismatics,
which lost stature as an academic discipline when it failed to develop
the corresponding methodologies as did the other two sciences.

"As noted previously in The E-Sylum, in my doctoral dissertation on
numismatic education in the United States, I compiled information
from 141 different American museums with numismatic collections large
enough to be noted in from the numismatic literature. I then looked
at how those institutions used their collections as both formal and
informal teaching tools in an academic environment: classes, exhibits,
exhibit catalogs, publications, etc. That study was a necessary
prelude to developing an educational textbook on numismatics: you
can’t figure out where you are going if you don’t know where you’ve

"I have now written a textbook and curricula for numismatic education
at the post-secondary level. This past semester, I taught an 8-week
course on “Advanced Numismatics” at a local college based upon this
textbook. The course is designed to be presented over two full
semesters at the graduate level, so the nine students who took the
class got one year of graduate study crammed into 24-hours. From
the “Review of the Literature” lesson of that curriculum, I would
point the curator to the following primary sources regarding museums
and numismatics:

"“Curators and Culture: the Museum Movement in America 1740-1870” by
our own Joel Orosz gives an excellent overview of the uniqueness of
the American museum and its evolution in a democratic society. While
it does not address numismatic collections in depth, another book by
Dr. Orosz “The Eagle that is Forgotten: Pierre Eugene Du Simitier,
founding father of American numismatics” (1988)” does tell of the
development of the early American museum numismatic collections
primarily that of du Simitier and Charles Willson Peale and the
three Peale museums.

"“Collecting in a Consumer Society” by Russell Belk (1995) is a
great book that treats the psychological aspects of collecting.
Belk recognizes that coins represent an important artifact to be
found in virtually all early museum collections and insights and
anecdotes about coins in museums are spread throughout his vastly
intriguing book.

"Finally, an article by Brian Rosenblum (son of E-sylum contributor
William Rosenblum) in the Aug 2000 Celator on “The information needs
of academic numismatists” represents one of the few metacognitive
studies of numismatics as an academic discipline and would be of
interest to both museum professionals and other formal and informal
educators interested in this aspect of numismatics."


Bill Rosenblum writes: "The January issue of (the) Numismatist has
a nice article about the E-Sylum.  However, they mention that there
have been more than 6,000 issues of the E-Sylum. Is that a typo? Or
have you been publishing on line for more than 100 years?"

[It only seems that way - we're not THAT much of an online pioneer.
Our first issue was published September 4, 1998.  I haven't tracked
how many individual issues there have been, but that could be
determined easily from our archive site.  I haven't seen the January
Numismatist yet, but the 6,000 figure probably refers to the total
number of articles.  With about twenty items per week we publish at
the rate of about 1,000 items per year now.  -Editor]


The American Numismatic Association's January email newsletter noted
that the repeated winter storms in Colorado have taken their toll
on production of the organization's monthly journal:

"The weather in Colorado Springs is usually sunny and beautiful, but
this year the area is experiencing more than the usual snowy days,
frigid temperatures and icy roads.

"The winter weather, along with the holidays, has adversely impacted
staff workload, including magazine production.

"Members' patience in receiving the February Numismatist is greatly


The American Numismatic Association's January email newsletter also
announces the schedule of events at this year's Summer Seminar:

"The line-up for the annual two-week Summer Seminar in Colorado
Springs (June 24-29 and June 30-July 6) includes 38 week-long classes
on a wide variety of numismatic subjects, 11 evening mini-seminars,
tours and special events."

1. Introduction to Grading United States Coins
2. Advanced Grading of United States Coins
3. Intaglio Engraving
4. Adventures in Numismatics and the Sights
   of Colorado Springs
5. Introduction to Digital Numismatic Photography
6. Collecting Coins of the World, 1500 to present
7. Ancient Coins, 650 B.C. to A.D. 1453
8. Pioneer Gold Coins and Western Assay Ingots
9. Coins of the Roman Republic and Early Empire
10. Investing in Numismatics
11. Flying Eagle and Indian Head Cents
12. Advanced United States Silver Dollar Collecting
13. Attributing United States Coins
14. The Lincoln Cent Power Collector
15. Coins of the Middle Ages
16. Introduction to United States Paper Money
17. Numismatics for the Museum Professional
18. So You Want To Be a Coin Dealer?
19. Counterfeit Detection of World Paper Money

A. England before the Millennium – June 24-25
B. Women in Power – June 24-25
C. MPC Boot Camp – June 24-25
D. Coin Care, Conservation and Preservation Methods –
  June 25-26
E. Conder Tokens – June 25-26

20. Introduction to Grading United States Coins
21. Advanced United States Coin Grading and
   Problem Coins
22. Detection of Counterfeit and Altered Coins
23. Coins in the Classroom
24. Adventures in Numismatics and the Sights
   of Colorado Springs
25. Numismatic Literature and Research
26. Numismatics of the Holy Land and the Jewish People,
   from Ancient to Modern Times
27. So-Called Dollars
28. Preparing a Winning Competitive Exhibit
29. United States National Bank Notes
30. Military Numismatics since 1930 and Advanced
   Military Numismatics
31. Numismatics of the American Colonial Period
32. The Modern Minting Process, Errors and Varieties
33. United States Tokens
34. Introduction to Early American Copper Coinage
35. Byzantine 101
36. The Milled Coins of England, 1500-1900
37. Digital Photography
38. The Art of Engraving

F. Fundamentals of Grading Paper Money – June 30-July 1
G. The History of Mexico through Her Coinage,
  1860-1921 – June 30-July 1
H. Coin Care, Conservation and Preservation
  Methods – July 1-2
I. Organizing a Coin Show – July 2-3
J. Odd and Curious Money – July 2-3
K. Judges Certification Program – July 1 and 5

To view the complete 2007 Summer Seminar schedule, see:
ANA 2007 Summer Seminar schedule

[It's amazing to see the growth of this marvelous program.  It's the place
for serious numismatists to see and be seen.  -Editor]


Eric Newman writes: "In the Jan. 14, 2007 E-Sylum there was an
interesting item about the Albany Church Penny. I have been researching
this important subject for five years but never have completed writing
my article because I need a little more information. Perhaps our readers
can help.

"Some of the Albany Church tokens have had a letter 'D' added to the
die. I would like to know if there is any printed newspaper, book,
pamphlet, calculation table, price list, label or other printed item
prepared before 1800 which used a capital "D" rather than a small "d"
as an abbreviation for "pence". I am aware of instances where
Pennyweight was represented by D. Our readers have enough retrievable
knowledge to answer my inquiry. I would appreciate their input - what
a wonderful way to do research!"

[Eric's question is a touch one to answer, but perhaps some of the
colonial collectors among us will have knowledge of such a reference.


Arthur Shippee noticed the phrase "Lyme Regis goal" in last week's
publication of an excerpt from Eric Leighton's book "NUmiS WORTHY".
He writes: "Does the original perhaps read "Lyme Regis gaol", the
British spelling of jail?"

[At first I was afraid I'd made a mistake in publishing the excerpt.
When I checked Eric's original email and my copy of the book, I thought
perhaps he'd made a mistake in transcribing the original text.  However,
the spelling seems to have come from the original newspaper, the
Nova-Scotia Gazette & Weekly Chronicle of August 29, 1786.  -Editor]

Eric Leighton writes: "There is no doubt in my mind that it should
properly have been 'gaol'.  However, as noted in my book's Introduction,
if the original spelling, right or wrong, did not detract from the
meaning, it appears in my copy the same way. There are literally hundreds
of these, and it became obvious to me very early that if I corrected
them all, I would detract from the genuine-ness of the whole thing.

"Also, if for every minor mis-spelling I added that ugly distraction:
[sic] afterwards, there would have been several pages more of typing.
That lead me to explain my method of non-alteration as found in the
introduction. I did often see this particular word spelled this way.
It did not seem particularly important to those good folks which way
it came. I saw certain words spelled in different ways so often, and
in fact this one in particular, that I always made doubly sure. I
took great care to make my copies as exactly as I could, so if it
appears in the book as goal, then I will stand by it."


Dick Johnson writes: "On Tuesday night this week I spent an evening
with Andrew Carnegie. He gave an hour and a half presentation of his
life. Okay, it was an actor playing the part of Andrew Carnegie.  It
was a one-man show, or what he calls "solo performer."  The actor
was Richard Clarke, of Boylston, Massachusetts. He gave his
presentation at my local library.

"It was the same night as the Litchfield County Coin Club meeting,
my local club. But the program started an hour before the coin club
meeting so I asked if coin club members could attend. The library
program director learned of my interest in Andrew Carnegie and that
I was involved with the creation of the Carnegie Hero Fund Centennial
Medal. She asked if I could prepare an exhibit of the medal for
that night.

"Sure. And that could be good reason for the coin club members to
attend. The performance was phenomenal! Actor Clarke bore a grey
beard and was in custom and Scottish cap of Carnegie in later life.
All of us in attendance learned a great deal about Carnegie. He has
performed this on Broadway, but does it now for historical societies
and libraries. He has other celebrities in his repertoire, including
Mark Twain, John Barrymore, William Shakespeare and his favorite,
lawyer Clarence Darrow.

"Afterwards we had his picture taken with the centennial medal of
the Carnegie Hero Fund Foundation, bearing the portrait so close
to that of the character he had just played."


Roger dewardt Lane forwarded a query from Meghan McGinley, a Casting
Producer for the ABC Television reality show, Wife Swap.  She writes:
"In case you are not familiar with the show, the premise of Wife Swap
is simple: for two weeks, two wives from two different families
exchange husbands, children and lives (but not bedrooms) to discover
what it’s like to live a different woman’s life. The show airs on ABC
on Monday nights at 8pm – family hour! It offers a positive experience
for people not only to teach, but to learn about different family values.

We are casting for the remaining episodes of third season of our show,
and we are focusing on finding fun and outgoing families with interesting
hobbies for upcoming episodes. I thought it would be cool to feature
a family that is involved in the Hobby of Kings – coin collecting!

I was hoping to find a family of Numismatists, where everyone – Mom, Dad
and the kids – are all passionate about the hobby and participate together.
We often feature sports families on our show, but rarely have an
opportunity to focus on more academic ways to spend family time together.
I thought that this might be a step in the right direction, and was
hoping you would be willing to spread the word! We are casting for
February and March of 2007, so casting is happening NOW!"

[Roger wondered if this was legitimate or some crazy Internet spam.
To find out, I took a moment to review the email and its associated
web links.  The sites are real, and I took a moment to call Meghan and
had a nice chat with her.  It all sounds legit.  The family must live
in the continental USA, with no members in the military and at least
one child between the ages of 6-17 living full time in the home.
For more information, contact Meghan at this email address:  Tell her Roger and I sent you. -Editor]


Regarding the recent speculation about the reasons for the sinking
of the S.S. Central America, Bob Evans writes:

"I was the Chief Scientist and Historian of the S.S. Central America
Project, founded and led by Tommy Thompson. In that capacity I have
studied every aspect of the ship and its fascinating history for
twenty-three years. I’m traveling on business at the moment, and I
don’t have my references with me, but I want to respond before this
thread gets too far off track.

"Leon Worden (E-Sylum Jan. 7) raises some interesting issues, but,
as he himself admits, his knowledge about the operating and ballasting
of a mid-nineteenth century steamship is meager. So, let me fill in
some details and some perspective.

"The S.S. Central America was a wooden-hulled side-wheeler that measured
278 feet “between the perpendiculars,” that is between the deadwood at
the bow and the sternpost. As designed and built its displacement
(weight) was somewhere around 3000 tons. It now rests about a mile
and a half deep on the Atlantic seafloor, roughly 170 miles off the
Carolina coast. One can think of its current condition as that of a
four-story, mostly collapsed building about the length of a football
field.  In years of exploring the site and studying the images we
found no “smoking gun” indicating the physical reason for the sinking,
not that we expected to amidst the chaos of the shipwreck.

"The vessel was built at the William Webb Shipyard on the East River
in New York. This steamship, and others like it, was built hull first.
Think of the initial construction as a giant oaken canoe. Then it was
floated a short distance down the river to the foundry at the Morgan
Iron Works where the enormous engines were installed. The engines,
boilers and related equipment weighed 750 tons. This sequence allowed
placement of the ironworks so the hull could be balanced on an even
keel. Then the ship was floated back to the Webb Shipyard where the
interior decks, cabins and other elements were finished.

"Ocean-going steamships were a new technology in the mid-nineteenth
century. The fuel for such steamships was coal, and coal was also the
primary ballast during a voyage. They burned tremendous amounts of
fuel: around 70 tons each day. Typically, a steamship had to reach a
coaling station every couple weeks or less.

"In the case of the Panama Route, coal was available at the two terminals
in New York and Aspinwall (Colon,) Panama, as well as at an intermediate
coaling station in Havana, with an alternate station in Jamaica in case
cholera was rampant in Havana, as it sometimes was. It was important to
keep proper supplies of coal in the ships’ bunkers in order to maintain
both fuel supply and ballast. Too little and the paddlewheels would not
push enough water. Too much and the wheels would bog down, pushing too
much water up and down. (It is no wonder that side-wheel propulsion
systems were replaced by screw propellers after only a couple decades.)

"There are two main points to all this information. First, keeping the
ship on an even keel was tremendously important, and it was standard
operating procedure to selectively burn coal from the storage bunkers,
fore and aft, starboard and port, in order to maintain that balance.
Second, this was a really big ship for the age of wooden-hulled vessels;
about as big as could be made for any practical purpose. 3000 tons is a
big wooden boat!

"There are various figures bandied about for the amount of gold that
was aboard the S.S. Central America: three tons, six tons, fifteen
tons, etc. None of these amounts, or even a hundred tons for that
matter, would have made much difference to the operation of the
steamship.  The weight of gold aboard was insignificant compared to
the weight of the vessel and its fuel/ballast. Unscrupulous acts of
gold shifting and manipulation by bankers and others would have little
or no effect. The engineers and crew selecting coal from the bunkers
would have adjusted the balance.

"Author Gary Kinder uses the testimony of an individual or individuals,
recalling events after the sinking and for their own reasons, to create
a romantic picture of a steamship on the high seas, the bow riding high
over the waves. He then engages in his own speculation about how that
later impacted the flooding of the hull. His book is hardly a forensic
study, although it makes an excellent narrative.

"The loss of the Central America is probably due to the blind worship
of technology (sound familiar?), not by any means confined to that age.
When ocean-going steamships were “perfected” in the 1840s, it was
possible to schedule travel at sea for the first time in human history.
This apparent technological miracle was attended by a certain vanity.
“Man now has conquered the elements!” So, a huge ship built of wooden
planks with a heavy load of iron near the center steamed into the midst
of a Category 2 hurricane. The planks started to work loose in heavy
seas, and leaks developed. The coal got wet, reducing steam pressure,
and ultimately the engines stopped and the boilers went cold. Without
steam pressure there were no pumps either, so men set to work manually
bailing. This went on for thirty exhausting hours before the ship

"So much for conquering the elements.

"Questions about the SS Central America can be directed to me at Please include “SSCA” in the subject line,
since I get a fair amount of spam."


Late Thursday the 18th Bloomberg News posted a story about
Spink's upcoming sale of a rare 1858 Hong Kong banknote:

"The unissued $25 banknote by Chartered Mercantile Bank of India,
London & China may be the only one in private hands, according to
Spink. The black-and-white note with allegorical symbols of the
British colonial empire is one of about 600 items expected to fetch
up to a combined HK$6 million, said Barnaby Faull, a Spink director.
Chartered Mercantile changed its name to Mercantile Bank in 1892
and was bought by HSBC Group in 1959.

'There may be considerable interest from Hong Kong bidders,' said
Otto Lam, a banknote collector who wrote a doctoral thesis on Western
banking in 19th-century China. 'Chinese collectors aren't very
interested in Hong Kong notes.'

"The auction record for Chinese currency was set in 2003 by China
Guardian Auctions Co., a Beijing-based auctioneer headed by Wang
Yannan, daughter of former Prime Minister Zhao Ziyang, which sold
a complete collection of Chinese banknotes archived by the American
Banknote Company for 3.2 million yuan ($411,787). The auction record
for a Hong Kong banknote was set by Spink a decade ago when a HK$1
HSBC note, bearing serial number 1, was sold for HK$850,000,
according to Faull."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


"A rare medal awarded to First World War pilots for gallantry,
which was discovered in a dusty attic in Purbeck, has fetched
thousands at auction.

"Pensioner Ian Dickson, who was in his 80s, died at Christmas and
an auctioneer was invited to carry out a probate valuation of his
possessions at his home in Swanage.

"Around 680 Air Force Crosses were awarded to officers in the Great
War for courage or devotion to duty while flying, although not in
operations against the enemy.

"Incredibly the silver military decoration went under the hammer at
Cottees Auctions Ltd on Tuesday for a staggering £2,400."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Another rare early sports medal has surfaced, this time on eBay.
In a familiar pattern, local fans in Edinburgh, Scotland are
clamoring to bring it home for a sports museum:

"He was one of the star strikers of his era and helped the
then-fledgling Heart of Midlothian Football Club win their first
piece of silverware.

"Playing on a makeshift pitch at a farm at Powburn, James Whitson
was one of the 11 players who finally beat city rivals Hibernian
to give the maroon half of the Capital's football divide their first
taste of success in 1878.

"The epic Edinburgh Football Association cup final match was only
won at the fifth attempt and followed four intense games between
the two sides that all finished in a stalemate - capturing the
imagination of the 3000-strong crowds that watched the spectacle.

"Hearts' historian David Speed said that he was "amazed" to hear
that the medal had been found and put on sale, although he added
that its hefty price tag could put the club off buying it.

"He said: 'This is a hugely significant artefact for Hearts. I've
never seen one of the first cup-winners' medals before, so I would
be delighted to see it brought back to Edinburgh.'

"'Unfortunately, there's not much other information about him,
because the club didn't keep records until around 1888. He left
Hearts in 1880, so there may even be some of his descendants living
in the city who know more about his career than we do.'

"He said: 'Hearts are currently looking at building a museum within
Tynecastle stadium that will be dedicated to their history. This
medal would be an ideal addition to that plan.'

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Gar Travis forwarded a report published January 13th in the Toronto
Star that the U.S. government has retracted its earlier claim that
bugged Canadian coins had been used to spy on American contractors
working in that country.

"It seems there's no danger of your spare change spying on you after

"A U.S. government defence agency has suddenly retracted its claim
that Canadian coins containing tiny transmitters were planted on at
least three American contractors who visited Canada.

"In a statement posted late Friday on its website, the Defense
Security Service said the coin claims were based on a report provided
to the agency.

"'The allegations, however, were found later to be unsubstantiated
following an investigation into the matter,' the statement said,
adding that 'the 2006 annual report should not have contained this

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

Scott Semans adds: "Well, it WAS too stupid to be true, but then
again the U.S. intelligence establishment has a very credible means
of disparaging leaks - just call it faulty intelligence!"

Full Story

Dave Kellogg writes: "On a minor note, I found difficulty opening
the link to the CIA dollar coin.  The CIA has changed the address
prefix from 'http:' to 'https:'"

[Those sneaky spies!  Here’s the updated URL. -Editor]


Dick Johnson writes: "This is in reply to Scott Semans in regards
to his comments on the Spy Coins article in last week’s E-Sylum.
Two years ago I wrote a draft on "Future Coins." One of the 44
suggestions I made in that draft was to include serial numbers on
high value coins. (Several other suggestions I made were to eliminate
the cent and nickel denomination and start striking coin denominations
for circulation all the way up to $50. I also included several
security suggestions.)

"Item #22 was to embed a microchip in every coin of $5 value and above.
A serial number would be encrypted on that microchip (in addition to
four items of fixed data, two of toggle data, and three of variable
data). That microchip could only be read by special readers (which
banks, major retail outlets, and other authorities would posses, in
addition to mint and Treasury officials.) The general public would
be unaware of the data on that microchip.

"Okay, I see numismatists owning those special readers as well.
Imagine being able to read the "secret" microchip and learn such
things as the date, press and die number in which the coin was struck!
Or the total number of transactions in which it was involved for its
entire lifetime. And the identity of the last ten transactions (that
last would be Variable Data as it would add each new transaction
and eliminate the tenth -- in a perpetual rotation).

"For numismatists reading such data would be ironclad documentation
that a coin was "uncirculated" if the microchip revealed NO
transactions! Pure MS-80. Wait! Perhaps Sheldon’s old condition
scale could become obsolete, replaced by MSN – Microchip Service
Number – with a top end of 100. An MSN-100 would be a true NO
transaction, NO wear and NO nicks or dents coin with a perfect

"I am not suggesting the coin could analyze itself, but Grading
Services work would become a lot less subjective if the coin carried
these factors in its embedded microchip. (Grading services would have
to posses those special readers as well). It would reveal the amount
of wear to which the coin has been subjected, in addition to the
number of transactions and other data.

"The reason for a unique serial number assigned to every coin is
the SAME reason serial numbers appear on paper money - primarily
for security. Perhaps our paper money collecting brethren can add
other reasons for the serial number. It has a long history and

"A byproduct of the information from embedded microchips in coins
would be to prove coins last longer in circulation than paper money.
U.S. Treasury officials have estimated coins circulate eight times
longer that bills of the same denomination before they need to be
replaced. Perhaps this embedded data would prove the coin ratio
could be much higher.

"Today coins are in competition with plastic cards and electronic
transfer of funds in addition to paper money and checks; this data
could also prove the necessity and usefulness of coins. into the
future. I prophesy coins will be around for a couple hundred years
more for small necessary transactions. However, they will be
different in several ways -- and they WILL include technological

"I am optimistic that American innovation and engineering can provide
these advances, only one of which is to solve the problems with the
manufacture and use of embedded microchips in coins.

"Your thoughts on Future Coins, anyone?"


The Great Falls Tribune outlined plans for tomorrow's launch
ceremony for the Montana state quarter:

"The public is invited to join United States Mint Director Ed Moy
and Gov. Brian Schweitzer at the launch of the Montana quarter at
the Helena Civic Center at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 29. Following the
ceremony, the crowd may exchange their paper currency for $10 rolls
of newly minted Montana quarters. Children 18 years old and younger
will receive a free Montana quarter.

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Today's New York Times featured a mockup illustration of a cent
featuring Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr.  When asked by
the Times about possible candidates for future commemoratives,
Mint Director Moy blurted out the names of Secretaries of the
Treasury Andrew W. Mellon and his current boss:

"With chief executives of the United States soon appearing on
new dollar coins, starting with Washington on Feb. 15, might
big-name chief executives from corporate America ever merit at
least a penny?

"Edmund C. Moy, director of the United States Mint, says notes
and coins traditionally commemorate “great Americans and great
events,” so it is not impossible. “I think it’s an interesting
thing to think about,” he said, though any decision would be
up to Congress."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[Congress would have to change the existing laws preventing living
persons from appearing on U.S. coins before Moy could suck up to
his boss with a new coin.  -Editor]


You thought 'Sacagawea' was hard to pronounce?  On Thursday
the Royal Canadian Mint unveiled its first collector coin of
the year, a commemorative silver dollar featuring Thayendanegea,
a Six Nations chief and British military captain.

"Thayendanegea, who fought alongside the British during the American
Revolutionary War, was given the English name Joseph Brant. He
negotiated a land settlement along the Grand River for the Six
Nations people in Ontario in 1783, and the city neigbouring the
Grand River reserve, Brantford, now bears his name.

"The coin, which has a limited mintage of 65,000, features a
portrait of Brant wearing a native headdress and a steel collar
bearing the British royal coat of arms.

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


One item we overlooked when compiling last week's E-Sylum was an
article in the Washington Post Friday the 12th about First Lady Laura
Bush's tour of the Treasury Building.  Located right next door to The
White House, the Pennsylvania Avenue government office building was
first occupied in 1839 and has recently undergone an extensive
renovation.  Numismatists know the façade from its image on the back
of the U.S. ten-dollar bill.

"According to Treasury officials, the old lady was downright feeble.
Her plumbing was falling apart, her heating system was inefficient,
her elevators stalled between floors, and her building and safety
codes were out of date.

"Nineteenth-century history buffs and fans of America's Gilded Age
will rejoice that in the process of remedying those deficiencies,
several rooms were returned to their luxurious past state.

"The Chase Room, named for Salmon Chase, who was Treasury secretary
under Lincoln and later a Supreme Court chief justice, displays some
of the department's 5,000 art objects collected by Andrew Mellon
when he was Treasury secretary.

"The Cash Room and the West Dome, actually three small glass domes
modeled on the originals of 1867-69, are regarded as the department's
most important architectural spaces. The two-story Cash Room, called
that because in the early days, anyone could walk in and cash a
government check, is the most ornate of all the rooms, built of
seven kinds of marble and featuring a gilded ceiling."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


A while ago we profiled, a web site where readers
can catalog their personal libraries online.  LibraryThing is still
going strong and has been purchased by  Last fall a
competing site launched, called Shelfari.

"Users of the site also can categorize their books by various topics
-- say, economics, baseball or thrillers. They also can view titles
that reside on the bookshelves of their friends and locate those people
who have similar books in their collections.

"When I read a good book, I love to recommend it," said Hug, who
started tinkering with ways to create a social experience around
sharing book reviews."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

To visit the Shelfari web site, see: Shelfari web site


Alan V. Weinberg writes: "Regarding the robberies of coin dealers
traveling from the FUN Orlando show in the past three years (culminating
in the brazen Peabody Hotel robbery), it is no coincidence that the
robbery incidents have escalated since the show was moved to the
isolated North Concourse of the Orange County Convention Center.

"During the FUN show, well before the Peabody robbery occurred, the
robbery issue came up in more than one conversation with me - and I
didn't initiate them. People were speculating just how many post-show
robberies would occur this year (there were six last year). It was
agreed that the isolated North Concourse contributed significantly
to the robbery potential.

"The North Concourse location, first said to be a one-time show
relocation before moving back to the International Drive side, has
become permanent for FUN even though International Drive center
sites were unoccupied at the time.

"But the North Concourse is isolated, out of sight of the heavily-
trafficked and patrolled International Drive. It is a very long walk
for dealers or visitors unless they take the often 30 minute wait
buses FUN provides to nearby hotels.

"The North Concourse is surrounded by huge empty fields on three
sides from which organized thieves study the traffic of collectors
and dealers, using cell phones and binoculars. John Kraljevich reports
that police cruisers were parked in front of the North Concourse? Well,
the only police cruisers I saw were parked empty for hours and likely
belonged to the uniformed sheriffs walking the bourse floor for

"You think these empty cruisers fooled the organized robbers? I sat
out in front of the North Concourse for probably a total of 2 1/2 hours
over four days awaiting the hotel buses and airport shuttle. NOT ONCE
did I spot a passing police cruiser (or plainclothes car) and my eyes
are naturally drawn to them due to my background.

"I've attended FUN for decades and I distinctly recall restricted
public driving and numerous sheriffs' patrol cars traveling in the
areas directly in front of the International Drive convention center
entrances.  Not at all true for the North Concourse.

"If you think that the organized robbery in front of the Peabody
Hotel did not first originate by surveilling and targeting the
dealer's departure from the North Concourse convention hall from
the open fields surrounding the North Concourse, you are sadly
mistaken.  That's exactly where any competent, organized robber
after big stakes would start his operation. Pick your target,
watch him, follow him.

"These robberies will continue and escalate in severity until FUN
moves back to International Drive."

[The Dallas Morning News published an article on Friday the 12th
about the incident. -Editor]

"Experts say security's tight and robberies are rare inside big
coin shows like the one starting at the Grapevine Convention Center today,
but outside is a different story.

"Dealers and collectors carrying high-dollar coins in parking lots,
hotel lobbies and along highways can be easy marks for organized
coin thieves, and the losses aren't small change.

"Steven K. Ellsworth, a former Green Beret-turned-Virginia coin
dealer, said smart thieves know that coin dealers are better marks
than even banks, where security cameras, marked bills, dye packs
and armed security guards make robberies risky.

"And the FBI investigates bank holdups.

"Banks don't even keep that much cash around," said Mr. Ellsworth,
also a coin collector."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


"A US Casino mogul who put his elbow through a Picasso painting is
taking his insurers to court in Manhattan.

"Las Vegas magnate Steve Wynn says that he wiped $54m off the value
of Le Reve (The Dream) when the accident occurred in September last

"He had been showing it to screenwriter Nora Ephron, television
personality Barbara Walters and two art dealers when the accident

"He has since called it 'the world's clumsiest and goofiest thing
to do'.

"According to his legal papers, Mr Wynn believes the value of the
painting then dropped to $85m."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[So how much is a hole worth, anyway?  Just any hole?  Or a famous
hole?  A famous hole is one with a great story attached, and Picasso,
Nora Ephron and Barbara Walters make for a great story.   When a
woman walked into his studio and fired a shot at Andy Warhol, the
bullet pierced several Marilyn Monroe silkscreen portraits leaning
against the far wall.  Warhol later sold the damaged pictures at a
huge discount, but these days a "Shot Red Marilyn" brings millions.
In numismatic terms, how much is James V. Dexter's 'D' 1804 Dollar
counterstamp 'worth'?  -Editor]


This week's featured web site is suggested by Dave Bowers, who writes:
"Sam Pennington is the publisher of Maine Antique Digest, the most
in-depth of the monthly antique magazines--well written, filled with
news, etc., etc.  As can be seen from the link below, he has created
a new website called 'The Medals Collector'. I did not know this was
being spawned and just learned of it. I suggest that readers of The
E-Sylum would like to know about it, too!"

--- From the web site: "Welcome to the Medals Collector page of Maine
Antique Digest.  We intend it to be a forum for collectors of medals.
Have a question about a medal or series? Have some news of the medals
world? E-mail pictures and text to us at
and we'll take it from there."

  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.

PREV        NEXT        V10 2007 INDEX        E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

NBS Home Page    Back to top

NBS ( Web