The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 10, Number 8, February 25, 2007:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2007, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Robert Christensen and
J. Armannsson. Welcome aboard!  We now have 1,072 subscribers.

This week's issue opens with information about the latest edition
of the hobby standard, 'A Guide Book of United States Coins'.  Two
other books nearing completion include 'Silent Witness — World War II
Civilian Camp Money' by Ray and Steve Feller, and a catalogue of
clearing house scrip by Tom Sheehan, Neil Shafer and Douglass Corrigan.

Research requests this week involve the Raleigh Plantation Token and
the Panama Canal medal.  In the news is the Stolen Valor Act, which
will have a chilling effect on the market for medals of the U.S. armed

Researchers old and new have information in this issue.  Eric Newman
writes about the origin of the U.S. dollar sign, his progress in
researching the Albany Church penny, and a rare book recently added
to his library.  Patrick Feaster, a graduate student in Folklore at
Indiana University shares what he's learned about the Josh Tatum
story and the 1883 "Racketeer" nickel.

On our numismatic tour of the world we touch on the Capitoline Coin
and Medal Collection in Rome.  Other topics include SEM-EDX analysis
and the discovery of a roman denarius in Great Britain which is
believed to establish early commerce with the continent.

Responding to a request last week, Tom Caldwell, Matt Francis and Mike
Paradis all stepped forward to send Dave Perkins a copy of an article
from the 1966 Numismatist.  Mike was the quickest on the draw, and
mailed Dave a copy.  Many thanks to all for responding to the call.
Have a great week, everyone.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


The 2007 edition of the standard "Red Book" will go on sale next
month.  Publisher Dennis Tucker forwarded the books' press release;
excerpts are published below:

"An active coin market is reflected in the 61st edition of the Guide
Book of United States Coins, by R.S. Yeoman (edited by Kenneth Bressett).
Popularly known among collectors as the 'Red Book,' it is the world’s
best-selling annual retail price guide for U.S. coins, tokens, and
other numismatic items... For the 61st edition, more than 120
professional dealers, scholars, and other numismatic experts
contributed their knowledge under the direction of editor Kenneth
Bressett, valuations editor Jeff Garrett, and research editor Q.
David Bowers.

"With the U.S. Mint continuing to innovate and produce new coins and
designs, the 61st edition devotes four extra pages to regular federal
issues, one extra page to commemoratives, and three extra pages to
bullion (including the new American Buffalo and First Spouse gold
coins). The latest State quarters, as well as the Mint’s new
Presidential dollars, are also featured.

"Other updates to the newest Red Book include additional grades in
the colonial/pre-federal section, a feature on the Libertas Americana
medal, recent auction records from 2006 and 2007, and new content
in the 'Significant U.S. Patterns' section.

"Hundreds of full-color photographs illustrate more than 6,000 coins
priced in the Red Book. For the 61st edition, newly upgraded highlights
include Liberty Seated coinage, classic silver commemoratives of 1892
to 1954, and early half dollars and silver dollars.

"The Red Book continues to update each edition as research brings new
data to light. In the 61st edition, noted numismatist Roger Burdette’s
careful study of government records has led to new Proof mintages for
early Lincoln cents. Also, the United States Mint has provided some
dramatically updated commemorative coin mintage data, in some cases
bringing its records up-to-date from many years past.

"For the first time ever, the Red Book is available in a new spiralbound
hardcover format. “On the outside, it’s an attractive and durable
hardcover Red Book,” said Tucker. “On the inside, a hidden spiral
binding lets you lay the open book flat while you examine your coins.”
Collectors have responded favorably to this popular new format, which
has been featured in other Whitman books including Hugh Shull’s Guide
Book of Southern States Currency and the Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare
Die Varieties. Traditional hardcover and spiralbound books are also
available, and an autographed leather-bound Limited Edition (3,000
copies) will be available in the spring.

"The 61st edition Red Book will debut at the ANA National Money Show
in Charlotte, North Carolina, March 16. After that the book will be
available online, and at bookstores and hobby shops nationwide. In
addition to the regular edition, Whitman Publishing is also taking
pre-orders for the leather-bound Limited Edition of this year’s Red
Book, to be released later in the spring.

"416 pages
Full color
By R.S. Yeoman; edited by Kenneth Bressett
$14.95 spiralbound
$16.95 hardcover
$19.95 spiralbound hardcover (new format)
$69.95 leather-bound Limited Edition "


Fred Schwan of BNR Press announced a new publication this week:
"Silent Witness — World War II Civilian Camp Money" by Ray and Steve
Feller is at the printers.   We'll look forward to publishing ordering
information and other background on the book as it becomes available.

Fred writes: "The book will be 8.5 x 11 inches, paper cover, 160 pages.
Ray and Steve prepared the book with color scans so that the book could
be produced in color. The question is should the book be in color or
black and white?  It boils down to this: would you rather have a book
in black and white at $20-25 or one in color at $45-50? Also, if you
would rather spend the extra money for the color, do you think that
collecting public shares your views/enthusiasm/extravagance?"

[Although setup costs are not insignificant, I wonder if it would be
possible to offer BOTH color and black and white versions for sale.
The multiple formats available for the Redbook have proven popular,
and what works for best-sellers can work for niche books as well.
For example, Harold Levi's on-demand book on the Confederate Cent is
available in both formats (I bought the hardbound color version).
Another option is to produce and sell the less-expensive black and
white version for the main market, but print color versions on demand,
or sell a CD with the color photos as a supplement.  -Editor]


Regarding the project to create a book about clearing house scrip,
Tom Sheehan writes: "The project is nearing completion.  We would be
happy to accept any additional listings or information on the scrip
of the panics of 1893, 1907 and 1914.  Copies of scrip that readers
have would be most appreciated."

Tom, Neil Shafer and Douglass Corrigan have been working on the project
for some time.  I lent them my own collection of 1907 clearing house
scrip for the project.  If you can help, please contact Tom at


On a related note, some time ago one of our readers asked me about
books I'd acquired that had some articles relating to the panic scrip
and other numismatic topics.  They are bound volumes of 'Sound Money',
a periodical produced by the Sound Currency Committee of the Reform
Club (Vol II/III, 1895/1896, Vols VI/VII, 1899/1900). The Reform Club
was an organization formed during the great "currency question"
debates of the William Jennings Bryan presidential candidacies.

I've reunited the volumes after one had been misplaced for a while.
So please contact me again if you still have a research need for the



Jim Jones of Cary, NC writes: "I’m researching the 'Raleigh Plantation
Token', designated as Betts-15 in C. Wyllys Betts' book, 'American
Colonial History Illustrated by Contemporary Medals', 1894.  I would
appreciate any information regarding:

- Knowledge / insights about the piece’s background, origin,
purpose, sponsor, date / location of striking

- Appearance of the piece in numismatic literature, beyond
Betts’ description and footnote

- Specimens appearing in pre-2000 public auctions

- Location / owners of specimens currently in institutional
and private collections

- Other numismatists interested in this piece, and who would
be interested in research collaboration

Thank you. Please write me at "

To read notes on the Raleigh Plantation Token at, see:
Raleigh Plantation Token at

To read a lot description from the November 2006 Bowers & Merena sale, see:
November 2006 Bowers & Merena sale


Roger Burdette writes: "Does anyone have a good photo of the Panama
Canal medal designed by Frank Millet and sculpted by Victor Brenner
in August 1908? I am looking for an image of obverse & reverse for
use in my 1909-1915 book. Thanks!"

[Some information found in the Internet: American artist and muralist
Francis Davis 'Frank' Millet painted murals at Trinity Church in Boston
with John LaFarge.  He was close with Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Mark
Twain, both of whom were at his 1879 marriage in Paris, France.
Impressionist artist John Singer Sargent often used Millet's daughters
as models.  Millet also served as Director of Art for the 1893
Columbian Exposition.  -Editor]

"On April 10, 1912, Francis Millet boarded RMS Titanic at Southampton
for New York. He was last seen helping women and children into lifeboats."

To view the Encyclopedia Titanica entry on Millet, see: 
Encyclopedia Titanica entry on Millet

To view the Wikipedia entry on Frank Millet, see:


Tom Sheehan writes: "You may want to draw attention the latest issue
of The Economist, February 17th-23rd, 2007.  The lead article is titled
"The end of the cash era".  It is a very interesting look at the way
we use money and what we collect."


Writing in the February 22, 2007 issue of the MPC Gram News Letter,
Joe Boling discusses the U.S. Stolen Valor Act and its impact on
medal collectors.  With permission, we're reprinting his article here:

"The Stolen Valor Act was signed into law in December. Its intent was
to prevent un-entitled persons from wearing or claiming eligibility
for military decorations. You will recall that two or three years ago
the restrictions on trading the Medal of Honor were tightened. The
Stolen Valor Act extends many of those restrictions to the three
crosses (DSC, Navy Cross, AF Cross), the Silver Star, and the Purple
Heart. But it goes much farther, prohibiting even legitimate holders
of these medals from mailing, trading, or buying them. (For instance,
a soldier awarded a Purple Heart in Afghanistan could not mail it home
to his wife.) No explicit provision was included to allow normal
collecting and dealing activities.

"The Orders and Medals Society of America (OMSA) has prepared an
extensive analysis of the new law. In essence, all trade in the above
named medals, plus ALL medals of the Navy (Marines) and Air Force,
are suspended until implementing regulations are written by an
appropriate federal agency (probably the Office of Military History).
This has caused the indefinite suspension of a pending auction of
militaria (by Floyd, Johnson, and Paine).

"See the following url for the OMSA analysis: OMSA analysis

"There could hardly be a finer example of the Law of Unintended
Consequences. If you are friendly with a federal legislator, let
him/her know that this badly written law must be repaired."


An article in The Trentonian of New Jersey notes how the Stolen
Valor Act could affect collectors of military medals:

"Gary Hullfish, of Lawrence, has spent the last 40 years building
a unique collection of military memorabilia, but the Stolen Valor
Act is causing him to rethink the value of his work.

"Hullfish has been collecting military medals and other items since
he was about 12-years-old. The first medal he bought was a Bronze
Star Medal in its original box for $8 from a local dealer.

"I still have it," he says with a big grin. "I don’t part with much."

"Laid out around Hullfish’s office and home are various medal groups,
swords and other military items -- all with a story.

"On one wall in his office is the framed Purple Heart of Harold F.
Trapp, a U.S. Navy man who was killed on Dec. 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor
onboard the U.S.S. Oklahoma. The frame includes Trapp’s Purple Heart,
his Good Conduct medal, the casualty list from the ill-fated day that
includes Trapp’s brother Herman on the list, and several photos of
the Oklahoma, including one photo of the battleship belly-up in the
water. Incidentally, the USS Oklahoma was built in the shipyard in
Camden just before World War I.

"These items are going underground," Hullfish said. "Collectors are
putting them away." He doesn’t think that should be the case. In fact,
Hullfish and other collectors, believe their hobby allows history to
live on--long after the medal recipient has passed away.

"We’re buying a piece of American history, and we’re preserving it,"
said Hullfish. "It’s just like buying a piece of Abraham Lincoln’s
hat, the signature of somebody famous or a bayonet from a World War
II rifle. We’re not criminals."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


People who pushed for the Stolen Valor Act in the U.S. have another
view of the subject, which is shared by some Canadians, as shown in
this article:

"The surviving relatives of a Nova Scotia soldier whose First World
War medal is up for auction on eBay say the historic relic belongs
in a museum and shouldn't be sold off to the highest bidder.

"Percy Fenton, originally from Arcadia, N.S., was a member of the
No. 2 Construction Battalion, Canada's only black battalion in the
First World War.

"At the time, racism was so blatant within the military that when
the battalion was formed, Ontario's all-white No. 1 Construction
Battalion changed its name to avoid the association with black soldiers.

"The Black Cultural Centre in Dartmouth, which already has a Victory
Medal from the battalion, wants to display Percy Fenton's medal. But
curator Henry Bishop said the centre may not be able to afford it.

"Dave Thomson, an Ontario man who has helped purchase and return more
than 30 medals listed on eBay, is helping the Black Cultural Centre
with the bidding.

"Thomson, who also helped return an Order of Canada medal listed on
eBay last month to Rideau Hall, said responsible collectors often
agree to sell medals to family members or museums if asked.

"It's not illegal to buy or sell Canadian medals. However, the Defence
Department forbids members of the Canadian Forces from selling medals
while they are serving.

"Peter Stoffer, the NDP Veterans Affairs critic, said that needs to

"To profit for somebody else's valour, I think is incorrect," said
Stoffer, who introduced a private member's bill last year that
would restrict the sale of medals.

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Regarding the lawsuit over copyright infringement discussed in last
week's issue, longtime E-Sylum contributor Morten Eske Mortensen
writes: "You might know, that I am also a numismatic auction catalogue
writer. My writings are so popular that other 'writers' really like
to copy my works. On September 12, 2006 I sued another auction
catalogue 'writer' for plagiarism and copyright infringement (beating
the November 7, 2006 Heritage lawsuit by two full calendar months!).
This was widely published in Scandinavia in October in two issues of
the satirical 'Monthly Commentary for well-informed circles'.

"I have not translated the texts into English language.
The Danish word "Afskriver" means "Copyist / transcriber" in a
rather non-friendly way. "Stævnet" means "sued". "Ulovligt" means


"What the other writer copied were my painstakingly compiled,
researched and authored rarity statements on number of known
specimens and provenance histories.  For a single coin, researching
and writing such a catalogue entry can take around twenty hours of
working time to produce [and can end up in just a length of only a
few lines].

"You can see an example in this link (click on the picture!):
Full Story

"In 2000 I won another lawsuit on copyright against a professional
coin dealer and auction house owner: Full Story

"Four editions of the "Monthly Commentary for well-informed circles"
have earlier been translated into English language:
unikummestdel17.htm "


A question from reader Nick Graver prompted me to search for Internet
references on the origin of the U.S. dollar sign ($).  I knew Eric
Newman had done a nice study on the topic, but didn't have a copy handy.
So afterwards I asked Eric about some of the information I found.  A
couple of the web pages referenced a 1929 book by Florian Cajori called
"A History of Mathematical Notations, Volume II: Notations Mainly in
Higher Mathematics."  I was curious to learn whether Eric was aware of
this work, secretly hoping I'd stumbled upon something of use.  But
I wasn't surprised to learn that Eric had already covered that ground.

He writes: "Cajori was a mathematical genius and without studying what
he wrote I would not have been able to write my origin of the dollar
sign article. What I found was new material he did not know about. I
also had to clarify or correct things other people had claimed, because
everyone seemed to want to be the so-called inventor of the dollar
sign. Thus I had to write a lengthy article. I had to study the
Portuguese language as well, as their $ had entirely different meanings.
I have never heard anything new on the subject since I wrote my piece.
Perhaps you or your readers have."

Eric's paper, "The Dollar $ign: Its Written and Printed Origins" was
published in the proceedings of the 1993 American Numismatic Society
Coinage of the America's Conference, "America's Silver Dollars".

The article's abstract is as follows: "British traders and merchants
moving into West Florida and Louisiana after the change of ownership
in 1764 are shown to have converted the Spanish symbol (pS) for the
coined peso into a convenient ligature form beginning about 1768,
thus creating the $ sign. The first conventional $ sign in type is
traced to 1799 rather than to a 1797 symbol of different makeup.
The early uses of the $ sign are illustrated and explained."

Some Internet references on the Origin of the Dollar sign:  (Scroll down)


On a related topic Eric Newman writes: "The E-Sylum has become more
exciting as time goes by. You have become an information clearing house.
You were nice enough to put my original inquiry about the use of "D" on
some of the Albany Church Pennies and my question as to whether the
capital form of "d" for penny was used in printing type anywhere prior
to 1800. No comment has as yet come so far as I know.

"I have done and continue to do research on the entire subject. However,
you added material about a recent sale of the coin and then a reproduction
die turned up on eBay.  You included an article from the Albany paper as
to the price the item brought. This article mentioned the older references
which you included.  The result is that I asked the Presbyterian Church
history archives in St. Louis something about Communion tokens. The new
pastor of the present Albany Presbyterian Church independently added his
opinion. Now I have asked the Philadelphia Presbyterian Archives for
other data and they agreed to look into the matter.

All I want to point out is that if you put an inquiry into The E-Sylum,
you never know what is going to develop."


Eric Newman adds: "I recently acquired a numismatic book for our
library after looking for a complete copy for 25 years. It was Thomas
Auburey, "Travels in the Interior of America" (London 1789). It has
all of the plates (most examples do not and no reprint has any), two
of which are the first published images of Continental Currency."


Patrick Feaster writes: "I'm a graduate student in Folklore at Indiana
University and just recently encountered your discussion of the story
of Josh Tatum and the "racketeer's nickel."  As I understand it, the
earliest version of the story you've yet been able to find appears in
the 1968 book "Counterfeiting in America" by Lynn Glaser, and I see
there's been some speculation that Glaser made the story up.  In fact,
the story had appeared in print before 1968 -- though not by very
much, as far as I can tell.

"I was able to turn up a good many references to the gilding of
nickels in sources from the 1880s, some quite interesting, and
some naming specific "racketeers," but none that match the details
of Tatum'sstory.  There was enough interest in the possibility of
using gilded nickels for fraudulent purposes in 1883-85 that the
Tatum story would certainly have circulated in the popular press if
it had been at all widely known.  LeRoy Burnette, "Comments on Coins,"
Lima News (Lima, Ohio), June 24, 1961, p. 31, contains a lengthy
discussion of the "racketeer's nickel" (a term that was already in
use in the 1950s, if not earlier), but Tatum's name doesn't yet
appear, nor do the really distinctive aspects of his story, so I
would assume that story wasn't yet familiar to collectors at that time.

"The first appearance of Tatum's name I can find is in Maurice M.
Gould's column, "Coin Roundup," entitled "$5 for Nickels," as it
appeared in the Independent Press-Telegram of Long Beach, California,
on Sept. 5, 1965: "PROBABLY the most famous coin counterfeiter of all
times was Josh Tatum, who, with the aid of a jeweler friend,
gold-plated the 1883 Liberty Nickels and was able to pass them off as
$5 gold pieces, since the original had the same appearance and size of
this piece.  His scheme was to buy a five-cent item in a store, hand
the merchant the 'gold piece,' and then accept the $4.95 in change
which the merchant invariably gave him.  When Tatum was taken into
court for fraud, the charges against him were dismissed because he had
never asked for change....  Tatum made approximately $15,000 through
his scheme -- equivalent to quite a fortune during this period."

"The story next surfaces in Dan Tuttle's column, "Coin Fare," as it
appeared in the Jan. 28, 1967 issue of the Post-Standard of Syracuse,
New York, with the new (?) detail that Tatum was a deaf mute: "One of
the most celebrated cases involving the racketeer nickel was the trial
of one Josh Tatum.  It seems that Tatum distributed a large number of
the golden nickels throughout New England.  He would go into store
after store, buy a 5-cent cigar and silently accept the $4.95 change
from the proffered bogus $5 gold piece.  At the trial there was no
shortage of complaining witnesses and no problem of identification.
And yet he was acquitted.  It turned out that Josh was a deaf mute and
since he didn't ask for it, each $4.95 he received was considered a

"The allegation that the Josh Tatum episode gave rise to the expression
"to josh" comes up in a newspaper article, "Coin Show at Acres," Times
Standard, Eureka, California, Apr. 17, 1970, p. 6: "Many people
attribute the saying, 'I was only Joshing' to the Josh Tatum incident."
 I don't have Glaser’s book and so don't know whether this claim was
also made there in 1968.  The expression is, in fact, considerably
older than 1883, as has often been pointed out, so this would seem to
be a folk etymology rather than a true explanation.

"Josh Tatum was clearly not a "famous" counterfeiter prior to the
mid-1960s, but could he still have existed?  Well, maybe.  But there
were only four Joshua Tatums in the 1880 U. S. federal census, and none
of them was a deaf mute!  I suspect his story most likely originated in
the 1960s in reaction to the Secret Service's recently adopted policy
of confiscating "racketeer nickels" from irate coin collectors, since
I guess plated coins were technically illegal to own at the time.  No
doubt this policy led to a lot of speculation into possible loopholes
in the law, and the invention of Josh Tatum would have been a natural
outgrowth of this.  But can anyone trace the story back beyond Gould's
1965 column?"








I asked Patrick Feaster if could provide us some of the 1880s
references he found to gilded 1883 Liberty Head nickels (or
"racketeer nickels").  He quickly provided several.  Here are
a few examples:

"New Orleans, La., March 14.--[Special.]--This morning the police at
Morgan City arrested a man named G. F. McCord, alias Mack, charged
with having passed as $5 gold-pieces a number of gilded new nickels.
On being arrested and searched several of these nickels, gilded so
as to resemble gold-pieces, were found upon his person, and the
United States Marshal at New Orleans was immediately notified of
the arrest at noon, when an affidavit was made before Commissioner
Hunt charging McCord with having passed counterfeit money.  A telegram
was then sent to Morgan City to the police authorities to hold the
prisoner until he could be turned over to a Deputy United States
Marshal" ("Criminal Record," Chicago Tribune, Mar. 15, 1883, p. 2).

"Nashville, Tenn., March 27.--At a late hour last night W. C. Woodward
was arrested on a telegram received from Chief of Police Campbell, of
St. Louis, saying that Woodward was wanted by the Federal authorities
on a charge of passing gilded nickels for five dollar gold pieces.
While being conveyed to jail Woodward knocked two policemen down and
ran away.  He was fired at by one of the policemen and was caught at
the end of the block by two other policemen, who were attracted by the
firing.  The St. Louis authorities were notified of the arrest and
replied that they would send a requisition.  Woodward is a newspaper
reporter and was formerly employed on St. Louis papers, and a few
weeks ago was engaged in a similar capacity in this city" ("A Reporter
in a Bad Scrape," Washington Post, Mar. 28, 1883, p. 1).

"Boston, Mass., Feb. 27.--[Special.]--Maj. Mellrath, Chief of the
Secret Service for New England, has made a timely discovery of the
gilding of the new five-cent nickel by manufacturers of cheap jewelry,
which, if allowed to continue, would have proved a fruitful source of
defrauding the public in the purchase of pinchbeck jewelry.  The nickel
on one side looks very much like the die of a $5 gold piece, and the
manufacturers, by gilding it and placing this side to view on crosses,
pins, and other designs of jewelry, made them look as though ornamented
with the $5 gold piece, and they could have been readily sold to the
general public for this purpose.  Several Attleboro jewelers have been
engaged in this business, and have sent samples of jewelry so
manufactured to different parts of the West, a considerable quantity
being found in Cincinnati and other Western cities.  The manufacturers
allege ignorance of the law bearing on counterfeiting, and have freely
given up all treated coins in their possession.  It is not likely
prosecutions will follow at present" ("Gilded Nickels," Chicago
Tribune, Feb. 28, 1884, p. 2).


Patrick Feaster adds: "Incidentally, I'm intrigued with the topic
of folklore about coins in general -- any recommended readings, or
is this sort of information pretty scattered?  I turned up a bunch
of other neat stuff while looking for information on Tatum, but I
suspect much of it would be 'old news' to those in the know."

[The best reference on folklore in the field of U.S. coinage is the
1995 book by Robert R. Van Ryzin, "Twisted Tails: Sifted Fact Fantasy
and Fiction from U.S. Coin History' (Krause Publications, Iola, WI,
ISBN: 0873413938 240 pages; 200+ photos).

Part of the folklore problem is that so many numismatic writers over
the years were primarily hobbyists, not historians or journalists,
and much of their writing was based on what other numismatists had
written before them.  Few went beyond that to search primary sources
in other fields.  I've put Patrick in touch with Bob.  This field
is ripe for further reaearch, and it's great to learn that a
university scholar is taking an interest in the topic.  -Editor]


Larry Mitchell writes: "Many important numismatic articles don't
appear in 'numismatic' periodicals."   He included links to two
journal sites as examples.  Try your favorite numismatic search terms!

Oxford Journals (of the Oxford University Press):
Full Story

Cambridge Journals (of the Cambridge University Press):
Full Story

In a similar vein Dick Hanscom of Alaska Rare Coins writes: "On
the BBC website is a search box (upper right). Type in coin, and
you get, I think, 500 pages with 10 items on a page!"

BBC News: Full Story


Ken Berger writes: "I checked out the Williamsburg website regarding
coins used in Colonial America. Unfortunately, I find it a bit lacking.
May I suggest that the readers examine the University of Notre Dame
website run by Louis Jordan. In many aspects it is better. In fact,
I have even contributed to it.

"For example, the Williamsburg website makes no mention of the coins
which would have been used in New Sweden. This Swedish colony was
much closer to Williamsburg than the Dutch colonies, so we can assume
that Swedish coins (e.g. Riksdaler) circulated in Williamsburg.

"Likewise, the website discusses the Lion Dollar but makes no mention
of the Rijksdaalder (aka Rix Dollar). Numerous authors/numismatists
(myself included) have argued that the Rijksdaalder and not the Spanish
8 Reales was America's first dollar coin. In fact, a Massachusetts court
in 1642 wrote that "... the rix dollar being 2 1/2 gilders (sic) shall
be likewise current at 5 shillings, ...".  If the rijksdaalder was
being encountered as far north as Massachusetts, it most certainly
had to be encountered in Williamsburg. Definitely, the Dutch
rijksdaalder needs to be included.

"Finally, I would argue that wampum should also be included since
it was used as a form of currency.

"I examined the website for an email address so I could voice my
concerns. Unfortunately, none was listed."

Ken adds: "Here's just a little more info justifying the statements in my
previous email. (I have a ton of research material on the coins used
in the U.S. colonies. I keep saying I'm going to write a book but
never have the time).

"On the Rijksdaalder & Riksdaler: In the south, New Netherland took
all of New Jersey & established Fort Nassau in 1626 near the southern
end of NJ & a whaling colony at what is now Lewes, DE. They also
constructed Fort Beversrede in 1648 (at Philadelphia). In 1655,
they defeated New Sweden (Wilmington, DE) and occupied it. In 1664,
the colony was seized by the English & briefly returned to the Dutch
in 1673

"Thus we see the extensive holdings of the Dutch (& therefore their
coinage) and the closeness of New Sweden to Williamsburg.

"Wampum: On 18 April 1641, New Netherland passed a law stating that
when taxes were due the treasury would only accept the poor beads
(of wampum) if they were strung and then at a rate of 5 per stuiver.
During 1637-1641, MA & CT were also passing their first legislation
to regulate wampum. In MA, wampum was only legal tender for sums
under 12 pence. On 27 October 1648, the General Court of Charleston
voted to officially accept wampum."

 Coins & Currency in Colonial America (Colonial Williamsburg)

 The Coins of Colonial and Early America (University of Notre Dame)


A press release issued by the ANA this week highlights a special
exhibit of pioneer gold coins at the upcoming convention:

"'Bechtler's Gold,' featuring the story of the famous North Carolina
mint that produced the first gold dollars in U.S. history, is one of
several outstanding exhibits at the American Numismatic Association’s
2007 National Money Show.  Visitors to the event, held March 16-18
in Charlotte, N.C., will be treated to a wide range of exhibits that
appeal to everyone from experienced collectors to numismatic newcomers.

"Presented by the Rutherford County Heritage Council, 'Bechtler's
Gold' details the history of the Bechtler Mint and explores Carolina
gold mining in the 1830s and 1840s.  Founded by German immigrant
Christopher Bechtler in 1831, the mint's coins were so well accepted
that during the Civil War the Confederacy's monetary obligations
were specified as payable in Bechtler Gold, rather than in Union
or Confederate state currency."


While looking up other things I came across information about the
Capitoline Coin and Medal Collection in the Palazzo Clementino-Caffarelli
in Rome.  The museum traces its history to a gift of bronze statues by
Pope Sixtus IV in 1471.   From the museum's web site:

"The museum itinerary has been enriched by the addition of a section
dedicated to the Capitoline Coin and Medal Collection, to be situated
in Palazzo Clementino-Caffarelli, and featuring the exhibition of a
fine array of coins, medals and ancient gems which until now have not
been shown to the public.

"The Capitoline Coin Cabinet was established in 1872 following
Ludovico Stanzani's bequest of coins and precious gems and includes
collections of coins, medals, glyptics and jewellery belonging to
the Municipality.

"Augusto Castellani, a member of the famous Roman family of goldsmiths
who was appointed director of the Capitoline Museums since 1873,
generously donated many thousands of coins from the area around Rome
and proposed setting up a new sector of the museum to house the
Stanzani bequest and add to the numismatic collection the numerous
specimens of antique coins discovered underground in Rome.

"The Capitoline numismatic department was subsequently extended by
a collection of 456 Roman and Byzantine gold coins previously belonging
to the marquis Giampietro Campana, and by Giulio Bignami's important
collection of Roman Republican coins.

"Following the demolition of certain districts and excavations carried
out by the Governorship, the Capitoline Coin Cabinet was increased by
numerous minor donations, extremely representative of different
periods.  During demolition work for the building of the Via dei Fori
Imperiali in 1933, the fortuitous discovery of the so-called treasure
of Via Alessandrina, consisting of 17 kilos of gold in coins and
jewellery, aroused great interest."

To learn more about the Capitoline collection, see: 
Full Story


According to an article on today's Telegraph, "Experts are excited
about a rare coin unearthed by an amateur treasure hunter which could
change the accepted ancient history of Britain.

"The silver denarius which dates back to the Roman Republic — before
Julius Caesar made Rome an empire — was unearthed near Fowey in Cornwall.

"Dating from 146 BC, it shows how ancient Britons were trading with
the Romans well before the country was conquered in AD 43.

"It proves that there was a lot more going on between the continent
and ourselves," said Anna Tyacke, Finds Liaison Officer at the
Royal Cornwall Museum.

"The silver coin was minted in Rome and carries the likeness of
Roma wearing a winged helmet, plus the name of a Caius Antestius,
its maker.

"The reverse of the coin carries a picture on horseback of the
mythological twins Castor and Pollux, who were believed to have
helped the Romans in battle."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Last week I asked, “Who among our readers has actually been in the
Mehl Building?”

Dave Lange writes: “A few years ago I was invited by the Dallas Coin
Club to be the featured speaker at its 75th anniversary meeting and
dinner. One of the items on my agenda while visiting the area was to
see the Mehl Building in nearby Fort Worth. My host, Stewart Huckaby,
drove me out there on Saturday morning, and we both wandered around
the property for about a half hour. Most of the building was open
to the elements while under renovation, so we naturally disregarded
the "Keep Out" signs and stepped right in. With just bare walls,
there was little atmosphere reflective of Mehl, but it was still an
interesting experience. I wrote an article for Numismatic News that
was illustrated with the photos we took, and I believe you wrote a
brief mention of it for the E-Sylum.”




Radford Stearns writes: "I'm a happily retired dentist - retirement
is much better than anticipated!  I've collected since I was nine
years old. I'm currently focused on Russian copper coinage and
literature including unpublished Brekke notes and Ran Zander's
Mikhailovitch catalogues and other significant Russian sales
including the 1910 Klingert Sale.

I have an almost unhealthy obsession with Russian copper coins and
any literature that describes them.  If anyone has a copy of the
Peter the  Great volume by Grand Duke Mikhailovitch, I would be most
happy to buy you a  real nice alternative door stop in exchange.
I am also interested in  acquiring any original early Russian
catalogues or references I don't  already have in my own library.

My other interests include colonial Georgia Paper Money (contributor
to Newman's 'Early Paper Money of America'), State of Georgia Paper
Money 1861-1865, Susan B. Anthony errors, Templeton Reid coinage,
Crusader coinage, and 28 centuries.

I'm an ANA Life Member and compulsive exhibitor (second only to
Vincent Alones in total awards), Howland Wood winner, two time
Presidential Award winner, Glenn Smedley Award, Numismatic
Ambassador, Goodfellow (1987). Oh, I'm a current candidate for
the ANA Board of Governors."


Dick Johnson writes: "Saskboy, a Canadian undoubtedly writing in
Saskatchewan, believes Americans will not dump the cent and nickel
coins even though it is costing more to make them than their face
value. He states the United States has not adopted the metric system,
so why should it dispose of two obsolete coin denominations?

"Are you implying we are a backward country, Sask Baby?  We'll show
you! We are going to stop minting 2-cent, 3-cent and 20-cent coins!
Oh! Wait a minute. We have done that already."

Read his humourous comments at: Full Story


David Fanning writes: "Kerry Rodgers commented on the "goal" versus
"gaol" question in the February 12 E-Sylum. What he posted, however,
doesn't address the comments I had previously posted.

"First, he seems to be confusing the OED (Oxford English Dictionary)
with the Oxford Dictionary of English (he says that "the OED does know"
the answer to this question, but then cites the Oxford Dictionary of
English). The latter is a single-volume reference, whereas the OED
runs to 20 volumes.

"Rodgers states that in the 13 definitions of "goal" he finds, none
suggests anything to do with incarceration. That's as may be, but
the OED does suggest a link. In the edition of the OED I am using,
there is an entry following the primary one for "goal" which says
to "see JAIL, JAILER." Upon doing so, one finds the discussion of
goal/gaol I had quoted, which states clearly that it is uncertain
whether "goal" was ever an acceptable substitute for "gaol" or
simply a misspelling.

"That this question isn't addressed in the later Oxford Dictionary
of English doesn't, to my mind, suggest that the question no longer
exists, but rather that it is too arcane a matter for a one-volume
dictionary to bother with. The OED specifically mentions "goal" as
forms 7-8 of "gaol." This is all a pretty minor point, but the
posting by Rodgers seems to imply that I am misreading my OED, so
I felt I had to make a defense."


Referring to Ron Kay's note on February 11, Ron Abler writes: "I
looked up SEM-EDX on the web and quickly submerged myself below the
drowning level in too much unfamiliar terminology to answer two
simple questions:  Is it non-destructive, and how much does it cost?
If it can be used non-destructively, and if I could afford it, there
are a lot of Centennial medals which pose questions that SEM-EDX
might be able to answer. For example, is a darkly toned medal actually
bronze, copper, brass, bronzed, or something in between?  Same with
white metal vs. pewter.

"Maybe Mr. Kay can shed some light into the dimly illumined
recesses of my inquiring mind?"



Archeologists working on Georgia's Ossabaw Island discovered an
1825 Half Cent in an old slave cabin.

"Made from humble material, Ossabaw Island's three tabby slave
cabins now represent a historical and archaeological treasure of
immeasurable value.

"One discovery was especially telling - a half-cent coin dated 1825.

"'This unworn coin was quite possibly placed intentionally at this
location by the builder to mark the completion date of the dwelling,'
 Elliott wrote in a report. 'Or, it may have simply gotten lost.'

"Either way, its presence was an element in Elliott's "estimated"
date of the cabin's completion - December 1825.

"The other two tabbies are believed to have been built in the 1840s.

"The African Americans who lived in those rough-sided cabins during
slavery, Reconstruction and the early 1900s form the third layer of
Ossabaw's unique interpretative opportunity. Efforts are being made
to include their descendants in the project.

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Dan Friedus writes: "I know the State Quarters program has increased
interest in that denomination but it appears to have had one
unexpected consequence: see the below article.  Will the
Presidential Dollars reverse this trend?

"After falling 6 percent in the past three weeks, the U.S. dollar hit
a 208-year low against the U.S. quarter, which had been valued at exactly
0.25 dollars since its introduction in 1796. "The dollar continues to
slide against most major currencies," Morgan Stanley analyst Richard
Jemison said."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[Dan saw this in a recent newspaper, but it was first posted on The
Onion's web site in April, 2004.  Still funny, though. -Editor]


This week's featured web page is a catalogue of a small collection
of coins from the ancient Greek city of Miletus, the birthplace of
the modern world, from the web site OF Dr. Robert J. O’Hara.

  Wayne Homren
  Numismatic Bibliomania Society 

Content presented in The E-Sylum is not necessarily researched or independently fact-checked, and views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.

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