The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 10, Number 16, April 22, 2007:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2007, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Don Kagin, James F. Driscoll,
Fred Weinberg, Jerri C. Raitz, Steven Schor and Rick Ormandy.
Welcome aboard!  We now have 1,103 subscribers.

This week's issue is top-heavy with our number one subject, numismatic
literature, opening with a brief update on the latest Lake Books sale
and the official publication announcement of the much-awaited new book
on 'Comitia Americana and Related Medals'.  Next up is more information
on 'Civilian Camp Money of World War II', a recommendation in favor
of a recent book on Chinese coinage, a review of 'The Moneybucks Handbook'
by Ray Balsbaugh and a review of a new Virtual Catalog online format
being used by Bowers and Merena auctions.  Periodicals are discussed
as well, including The Brasher Bulletin and the ANA Journal.

In the research query department we have more anecdotes on opening
the pages of uncut books and an emphatic response on conserving wooden
numismatic items from Anne Bentley of the Massachusetts Historical
Society.  Also, Ron Guth seeks new information on Waldo Newcomer.

Medals have been a popular topic of late, and this week brings news
of the sale of the second-awarded Victoria Cross and an article
mentioning the enigmatic "Rats of Tobruk" relic medal.  More modern
amateur medal-makers have Dick Johnson in a tizzy, but for me the
highlight of this issue is a follow-up piece on the curious
bullet-struck Lincoln Indian Peace medal in the collection of the ANS.

Rounding out the issue are topics as diverse as coin dominoes, Bill
Wyman's metal detector endorsement, making cents of steel, and the
1840 discovery of the famed 'Castine deposit' coin hoard.   And to
learn why Dave Bowers needs a Magnetophone player, read on.  Have a
great week, everyone.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Fred Lake of Lake Books writes: "Our mail-bid sale #88 of numismatic
literature closes on Tuesday, April 24, 2007 at 5:00 PM (EDT). You
may view the sale at

Bids may be made by email, telephone, or fax until the closing time.
We hope that you will find some items of interest in the 392-lot


George Kolbe forwarded the following release about the new book
by John Adams and Anne Bentley:

"George Frederick Kolbe/Fine Numismatic Books is proud to announce
publication of a major new reference work on early American
historical medals:

"Adams, John W. & Bentley, Anne E. 'Comitia Americana and Related
Medals: Underappreciated Monuments to Our Heritage.' Crestline,
California: George Frederick Kolbe Publications, 2007. 304 pages,
illustrated throughout in color. 9.75 x 6.75 inch format. Bound
in full linen with a leather spine label, lettered in gilt.

"Price per copy: $135.00 plus $10.00 shipping in the United States
and $25.00 elsewhere.

"Extremely well-written by two highly respected scholars, the work
covers in great detail the 'Comitia Americana' medals approved by
Congress to commemorate significant victories during the American
Revolutionary War and the officers who achieved them. Also covered
are the 'Diplomatic Medals' created by Thomas Jefferson and the
celebrated 'Libertas Americana' medal, the brainchild of Benjamin

"The volume is brim full of original research and documentary evidence,
and is written in an engaging manner. Following Acknowledgments and
an Introduction are chapters devoted to the various emissions of each
of these historic medals, accompanied by superb color illustrations
and useful footnotes.

"Also included is an exhaustive, most useful bibliography, along with
an index. The remarkable color illustrations of the medals themselves
were produced by Meridian Printing utilizing a technology called
stochastic screening. This costly process produces superbly-detailed
illustrations that allow for enlargement of detail under magnification,
producing much the same result as actual photographs. Beautifully
designed and finely printed, 'Comitia Americana and Related Medals'
is both a visual and an intellectual delight.

"Orders may be sent to George Frederick Kolbe, P. O. Box 3100,
Crestline, CA 92325-3100 USA.

"A few comments received from early recipients of the book follow:

"Alan M. Stahl, Curator of Numismatics, Princeton University Firestone
Library: 'a signal achievement in the bibliography of the American
medal, one that I hope will have the effect of establishing this series
as one of the most important in the field.'

"Michael J. Hodder, noted numismatic researcher and cataloguer: 'What
a marvelous book! You've outdone yourself this time…You've tackled a
daunting project and crafted a landmark that will be on our shelves
for a generation and more.'

"Richard Margolis, highly respected, longtime numismatic dealer and
collector: '…splendidly researched…I've spent much of the weekend
reading and learning from it.'"


Steve Feller forwarded a nice writeup of the new book written by he
and his daughter Ray on the Civilian Camp Money of World War II.
Here are some key excerpts:

"The book spans the time period 1933 to almost 1950 and includes German
concentration camps, ghettos, internment camps from all sides, and
displaced persons camps. Nearly a thousand illustrations are used and
they are in full color.

"Camp money from the Second World War is an enormously broad topic.
In the book the focus is on the civilian camps. This book is divided
first according to types of camps, and second, when appropriate,
according to the power behind the camp: Axis, Allied, or Neutral.

"For the book as a whole, money is known from: Australia, Austria,
Canada, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Hungary, India,
Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Netherlands
East Indies, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, South Africa,
Switzerland, Tanganyka, United Kingdom, and the United States.

"This volume is much more than a catalog as the camps are described
In much detail, much more than has ever appeared in the numismatic
press. The book is available from BNR Press for $35 + handling ($4 to
U.S., Canada and Mexico; $8 elsewhere; $15 airmail). A special
edition of the book is available, please enquire. Please contact
BNR press at: 132 East Second Street, Port Clinton, Ohio 43452-1105-04,
or by phone at 1-419-732-6683, or by email at:"


Nick Leshkow writes: "I am trying to do some research on about two
dozen ancient Japanese and Chinese coins.  I would like to both
attribute and price the coins.  I need for the books to contain
photographs or drawings; and of course be written in English.  I
was hoping you could recommend appropriate books and where I might
buy or borrow them."

[I asked one of our resident experts for advice, which appears
below. -Editor]

Scott Semens writes: "Books to identify and price Chinese and Japanese
cash?  Two years ago I would have given you three or four titles, with
a paragraph each on strengths and weaknesses, but today there's a
simpler answer:  CAST CHINESE COINS by David Hartill, list price $50
but often discounted.  It's in English, has a finding list for
attribution, and a good rubbing (arguably better than a photo for
this series) for each entry.  There is a rarity scale with a rather
imperfect "conversion" into money.

"As with modern foreign coins, you are going to get only an approximate
market value from ANY catalog; settle for a ballpark idea.  Hartill
lists the commonest Japanese types in the same format, but you can find
more detail about anything you are likely to have in the Standard Catalog
of World Coins (Krause & Mishler), century editions, which include
reasonably accurate market prices as well.  There are levels in both
the Chinese and Japanese series unplumbed by these Western works, to
the point where mint and approximate date CAN be determined for many
pieces if one delves into specialized works, which are usually not in
English.  But this rarely affects market value, especially on casual
finds.  Stick with Hartill, and Krause-Mishler, both accessible works."


Martin Purdy forwarded a link to the current edition of the Schön
World Coin Catalogues on the German Amazon web site (,
which we'd been having trouble locating.

To order the book from, see:



After meeting the author at the recent Charlotte ANA convention,
Howard Daniel suggested that I review 'The Moneybucks Handbook for
Minting Errors & Die Varieties' by Ray Balsbaugh for The E-Sylum.
I hadn't heard of the book before, but it's in its third printing and
according to the author "PCI, ANACS, and other grading companies are
now using the MB numbers in The MoneyBucks Handbook as a reference for
die varieties and minting errors. They are putting the MB numbers on
the upper right front of the coin slabs."  I asked Ron Guth, President
of Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), but he hadn't heard of
the book yet either, and neither had Dave Lange of NGC.

What one can't help but notice is the commercial nature of the book -
just after the table of contents is a page promoting MoneyBucks Coin
Auctions with instructions for finding the author's sales on Yahoo
Auctions.  There are also full pages scattered throughout the book
advertising the auctions. As the author notes in his introduction,
"some of the coins remain in my personal collection, while others
have been sold or are currently available for sale."

This explains the odd title - until I saw the book I was perplexed
about what "MoneyBucks" had to do with errors and varieties.  Of course,
the competing "Cherrypickers' Guide" is an equally oddly titled book
where only the subtitle reveals the true subject: "... Rare Die Varieties
of United States Coins".

The book's scope overlaps the Cherrypickers' Guide but is primarily a
subset.  On page xvii the author states: "The main theme of this book
is hub doubled varieties known as doubled dies."  Both books offer short
descriptions of each listed error alongside photos.  But it's the photos
that caught my eye in The Moneybucks Handbook, and not in a good way.
While many are indeed quite usable, others... not so much.

A review by Matthew High on the Amazon site is spot-on in my opinion.
He writes: "My biggest gripe is about the printing quality of the book.
One of the primary purposes of this book is to help identify die varieties
and errors. Some of the pictures are decent, but a majority of them are
too muddy, too pixellated, too small, or just plain too damn useless.

"For a book where the quality of the pictures is all-important, the
publisher did a very poor quality on the printing job itself... For
several of the pictures, the contrast is too low to make out the relevant
details (such as trying to see that D mintmark below the S). Many of the
pictures are completely unnecessary -- such as including a picture of the
coin inside a slab -- the coin itself being nothing more than a dark
circle. What's the point in showing the slab?"

The photo quality differences between the two books are evident right on
the covers.  The fourth edition Cherrypickers' Guide has six high-quality
close-up images of doubled letters, dates and mintmarks, clearly
illustrating the quality of images to be found within.  The cover of
the MoneyBucks Handbook has a number of poorly cropped and somewhat
washed-out images of complete coins.

Experienced variety collectors may well have use for both books in
their library, but as a casual collector, I'll stick with the Cherrypickers'

Guide.  See the link below for my earlier review of the latest edition.

I've always admired variety collectors for their deep knowledge and
attention to detail. I've never been one, so I'm not even close to being
an expert on the topic; I probably couldn't spot an obvious hub doubling
if you blew up an ultra-high-resolution image to the size of my eight-year
old son.  So I'll stop my review here; perhaps some of our more
knowledgeable readers can pick up where I've left off.

To view the MoneyBucks Handbook and reviews on eBay, see
MoneyBucks Handbook (eBay)

To view the MoneyBucks Handbook and reviews on Amazon, see:
MoneyBucks Handbook (Amazon)


Ray Balsbaugh writes: "As the author of The MoneyBucks Handbook, I
have attempted to add a book to the numismatic community that will add
to the enjoyment & education of old and new collectors of die varieties.
The book has increased in size from the 2nd Edition to the 3rd Edition
by doubling in size to 365 pages and over 900 pictures. The one Amazon
review quoted was for the old 2nd Edition, & many pictures have since
been updated. The book has been financially successful with all three
publications having sold over 3,000 copies including over 200 copies
sold at the recent Charlotte ANA to the public and wholesale to coin
shop owners nationwide. There are 12 pages set aside in each book to
sell to advertisers to offset costs and I make no apologies for this

"It is not a hardback book, there are no color pictures in the book, and
the pages are not photo paper slick so that the price stays low.  The
books have been sold for $22.00 on eBay & Yahoo for years with hundreds
sold and no negative feedback (searchword on eBay: moneybucks). The 60x
pictures have the same quality as the Breen's book and as the pictures
in the VAM book.

"This book features all the major varieties and many of the minor
varieties with large sections on Large Cents, Bust Halves, and there
are current accurate prices for variety coins up to and including 2006.

"And finally, this book has been reviewed in Numismatic News, Coin World,
Coins Magazine, and over a dozen newspapers. In the last 5 years, I have
personally attended hundreds of coin shows in a 10 state area in and
around Ohio to sell the book and do book signings that have been
advertised in advance in Coin World and Numismatic News.

"I appreciate the opportunity to have it reviewed. It is also available
for retail and wholesale from the Publisher at 1-888-280-7715."

[I'd like to thank Ray for providing the review copy and his followup
comments on my review.  I had already cut out parts of the Amazon review
that seemed overly critical about the photo quality - it makes more sense
now that I see that review was about the previous edition.  This is why
I provide drafts of my reviews to the publishers for comment.   I've cut
a few more lines from that quoted review, but let others stand.  I do
believe, for example, that the photos of slabs add little to the book.

As for the commercialism, The Cherrypickers' Guide also has several
pages of ads (as do many other recent numismatic books), but those ads
are largely from people other than the author; it was the self-promotion
aspect of this book that stood apart.  No, there's nothing wrong with
that, but it's worthy of note in a review.

As I stated, I am not terribly well qualified to review a book on
varieties, and have said nothing on the books appropriateness in that
regard.  As such I would welcome thoughts from our readers.  -Editor]


Tim L. Shuck of Ames, IA writes: "I received an email from Bowers and
Merena that might be of interest vis-à-vis the discussion of printed
versus digital numismatic catalogs. Their catalog for the just opened
May 2007 St. Louis Rarities Sale is available in a new Virtual Catalog
online format, and as a downloadable pdf file. It took me less than
five minutes to download and save the 96 page, 22.4 Mb catalog file,
using a broadband connection.

"Of course, most auctions are already now viewable online, often with
robust search tools, but this version has the look of a printed catalog,
with tools for page turning, page-by-page navigation, table of contents
navigation, zooming either by page or via an inset magnifier window,
and a link for bidding. Whether this online format is better than others
will be a matter of preference, or possibly functionality as the clarity
of zoomed images did not seem to be as good as others I’ve seen.

"Of more interest to me was the fact that I could download this catalog
as an Adobe .pdf file. Not only a less ‘shelf-intensive’ way to store
catalogs for those of us who keep them, but the .pdf format also allows
sophisticated searching via Adobe Acrobat, for me a faster and more
reliably consistent access method than using the Internet. Obviously a
downloaded .pdf is not a DVD, though more preferable I now think, and
likely won’t tempt those who want a printed version. But it is an
interesting development that I have not previously seen, and if nothing
else may indicate that formats other than the traditional printed
catalog are indeed being looked at."

To view the Bowers and Merena virtual catalog online, see:
Bowers and Merena virtual catalog

[The new virtual catalog format is pretty nice, despite the hokey fake
"page flipping" noise and graphic each time you go to the next page.
This is akin to the fake shutter sound a number of digital cameras make
to simulate the old style cameras most of us grew up with.  But the
sound does serve a purpose.

Flipping pages online was fairly fast for me, but not a fast as
physically flipping through the pages in a hardcopy.  After downloading
the complete catalog to my PC, page flipping was naturally much faster
and I found it a very acceptable way to browse. You can set the
magnification level, so I chose to pan out to see two complete pages
side-by-side for flipping, and when I stopped at lot of interest I
zoomed in.  Also, the page-flipping noise and visual feature did not
appear here, which for me, made viewing the downloaded copy a better
experience.  Nice!

It will be interesting to see if other numismatic firms pick up on
this new format.  It does seem like a net improvement in the reading
experience.  If not THE answer to the problem of storing the plethora
of modern auction catalogs, this is at least a major step along the

Perhaps someday instead of asking a numismatic researcher "what's
in your library" we'll ask, "what's on your hard drive?"  -Editor]


Tony Tumonis of Tucson, AZ writes: "I think the idea of having a
National Coin Book Week is a great idea.  If we started a grass roots
movement proposing to work with all the Coin Clubs around the country,
I think it would be a wonderful success.  We could solicit support
from organizations like the ANA and ANS, as well as dealers and the
major hobby publications.  Coin Clubs could gather volunteers to spend
time at their local libraries during the week putting together displays
and exhibits and answering questions.  The ANA, ANS and hobby publications
could help in promoting and advertising the idea.  The dealers could
assist with advertising and perhaps contribute funds and/or books
towards their local libraries.  It's a great way to promote education
in numismatics."

[Tony is a candidate for the American Numismatic Association Board of
Governors.  Regarding Tom Denly's note about a current governor who
professed to not reading the major weekly hobby newspapers, Tony adds
"I agree with Tom Denly that anyone that desires to serve on the Board
of the ANA needs to know how the industry feels.  Our hobby publications
publish the news so their readers can make informed decisions."

"I'm sure everybody running for the Board is sincere in promoting
Education and assisting the ANA in moving forward.  For the last 100
years the ANA has fulfilled its charter in promoting education and
will continue to do so long into the future."

I've limited my excerpts of Tony's remarks to those dealing with
reading and education, key focus areas of The E-Sylum.  Issues of
ANA membership retention, volunteer participation and the ANA Club
Representative program are beyond our scope, but like Tony, I urge
everyone to read the candidates' platforms carefully and learn where
they stand on the key issues before voting.  -Editor]


One American Numismatic Association Governor who couldn't be accused
of not reading is our new subscriber Don Kagin, who edits the exceptional
Brasher Bulletin, the quarterly newsletter of the Society of Private and
Pioneer Numismatics (SPPN).  I've been a member of SPPN for many years,
and under Kagin's editorship the publication has gotten even better.
Each issue is filled with interesting original or reprinted articles
on the topic.  Contributors include top researchers in the field, such
as Dan Owens, Robert Chandler and Fred Holabird.  For more information
on SPPN, contact

The Fall / Winter 2006 issue includes an article by none other than
Mark Twain, a newspaper article he wrote for the San Francisco Call
on October 2, 1864. 'The Last Hitch at the Mint' describes bureaucratic
snafus that had caused workers at the Mint to miss many of their

[By the way, one of my many unfinished numismatic writing projects is
a paper on Twain's friend, famed American author and poet Bret Harte.
Harte worked by day in a position at the U.S. Mint in San Francisco,
and he was likely Twain's source of information for his article.


This spring marks the second year of the American Numismatic Association's
ANA Journal, a quarterly publication devoted to advanced studies in
numismatics.  Some articles were produced from the Maynard Sundman/
Littleton Coin Company Lecture Series presented at the ANA World's Fair
of Money® every summer.

The Winter 2007 issue is out.  In it, Carlos Jara explores "Costa Rican
Provisional Gold Issues of 1825." Jara has written a number of books on
Central American coinage and particularly enjoys the Chilean pre-decimal
series. Also featured are "Eisenhower Dollar 'Talon Heads' and Other Die-
Clash Artifacts" by Rob Ezerman, Brian Vaile, David Golan and Gary Hoop,
and "Dexter's 1804 Rara Avis," Mark A. Ferguson's overview of J.V.
Dexter's specimen of the 1804 dollar.

An annual subscription to the series is $65.95, with individual
copies regularly priced at $21.95.

ANA Journal currently is seeking articles displaying original
numismatic research. For submission guidelines or for more
information, call 719-482-9814 or email


Arthur Shippee writes: "By accident, I came across a catalogue of
Lame Duck Books, their #84, of manuscripts &c. (Boston, The following item may be of interest
to E-Sylum readers:

"#235.  Webster, Noah (1788 - 1843).  Holograph mss.  Holograph sketch
for an article on ancient coinage, unsigned.  These were brief notes
for inclusion in a reference work....  One-and-two-thirds sides of a
single 9x7...loss of a few letters.  $1250"

[Would anyone have any idea of what reference work the article
might have been published in?  -Editor]


David F. Fanning writes: "Regarding the question from Ray Williams
in the E-Sylum, George Kolbe is right about not using a razor or
other very sharp knife. What I would add, though, is that the knife
you use should not be serrated. Use a fairly dull, plain kitchen knife
with an unserrated edge (almost every knife we own has at least small
serrations--when I finally found an unserrated one in our kitchen,
I confiscated it for my library).

"Lay the book on a table in front of you. Insert the knife between
the pages from the bottom, with the blade facing the uncut pages.
Starting at the bottom of the uncut pages, draw the knife lightly up
against the uncut pages, going just a bit at a time. You'll get the
hang of it, but don't be surprised if you goof up a page during the
learning process. You might want to practice on a folded piece of
paper first."

Allan Davisson writes: "Greg Campbell of Campbell-Logan Binding
gave me a knife designed for the sole purpose of cutting uncut pages.
It is very sharp with a rounded dull tip. The cut is clean (which
has not always been the case when I used a dull edge in the past)
and the blunt tip meant that I did not make any errant cuts."


Anne E. Bentley writes: "To answer Ron Abler's query regarding how
to handle the wooden objects in his collection, oiling would be the
worst possible thing he could do to them!  In 25 years as conservator
at the Massachusetts Historical Society, believe me, I saw the horrible
results that ensue from such treatment on wooden objects.  These ranged
from the discoloration (usually splotchy, thanks to difference in
grain) to major splits (from introduction of a liquid, forcing open
the grain), to mold (the combination of oil and humidity on wood
creates spectacular colonies under "proper" conditions) to warping.

"Most importantly, once introduced, oils and waxes on wood can never
be reversed.  We have always just dusted the pieces and tried to keep
them in stable relative humidity, to avoid extreme changes in moisture
within the wood.  This has been very effective in maintaining our
wooden pieces.  If you have to contend with a humid climate, you can
create a drier micro-climate by storing your wooden pieces in container
with silica gel packs to regulate the relative humidity.  I hope this
helps Mr. Abler to decide on the course he plans to take with his


Ron Guth writes: "I drooled when reading George Fuld's description of
Waldo Newcomer's coin cabinet.  I've been a big fan of all things Waldo
for quite some time.  In my humble opinion, he is one of the great,
unsung heroes of American numismatics.

"The article prompted a couple of questions for Dr. Fuld concerning

1. Is there confirmation that Waldo actually committed suicide?
2. Where was he buried?
3. Is a copy of his will available?
4. Is it possible to obtain an image of the coin cabinet?
5. I'll join Milton Lynn's chorus: Is Waldo's coin cabinet for sale?

"Finally, I'd like to recommend that Dr. Fuld put his reminiscences
to paper.  He has so much unique information (names, places, coins,
collections, events) up in his head and it would be exciting to hear
and read them."


Dave Bowers writes: "I recently came across two Magnetophone (wire
recorder) type recordings, on small spools, dating some years ago;
one of John J. Ford, Jr., discussing the 1861 CSA cent dies circa
late 1950s the other of a Professional Numismatists Guild meeting
held in 1963. Question: does anyone have a unit that could play
these and put them onto a CD?"

To view a picture of a Magnetophone, see: Magnetophone (Image)

[Undoubtedly someday these E-Sylum e-mails and web pages will be
equally as obsolete at Dave's Magnetophone recordings.  By then I'm
sure we'll all have electronic copies of every photo and word ever
written about numismatics on a quantum nanochip conveniently
implanted in our posteriors. -Editor]


According to a Reuters news report, "An early Victoria Cross
awarded for a daring raid on Russian enemy couriers during the
Crimean War was sold for 155,350 pounds at auction in London on

"'The fact that this is the second Cross ever awarded is quite
important, particularly as it's such a rare decoration. The soldier
had an amazing life and the story of how he won it was spectacular,'
a spokeswoman for auctioneers Spink said."

"The medal sold on Thursday was awarded to Lieutenant John Bythesea
who volunteered with William Johnstone in 1854 to intercept a crucial
dispatch from the Tsar to the Baltic fortress Bomarsund, which was a
Russian military stronghold."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


The Sydney Morning Herald this week published a story about a reporter's
visit to the Libyan city of Tobruk, which was a focal point for Australian
servicemen in World War II.  The article mentions a medal created by the

"A pilgrimage to the bustling Libyan city turns up poignant reminders
of Australian soldiers in the siege of Tobruk, Anthony Ham writes.

"Few names resonate through Australian history like Tobruk. It is a
place that has become central to our understanding of who we are as
Australians. Like Gallipoli, it is a battlefield where the legend of
the Anzacs was forged. And like the Somme it is a place where thousands
of Australians lie buried."

"... with the soldiers hunkered down in trenches and in caves such as
these, a Radio Berlin announcer dismissed the Australians as the "rats
of Tobruk", drawing a parallel with rodents burrowing underground.
Designed to bolster German propaganda and destroy Australian morale,
the name was instead quickly adopted by the Australians as a badge of
honour. One of the most famous photos of the siege shows a Bren gun
carrier adorned with the words "Rats to you". The Australians also
amused themselves by designing an unofficial medal from the metal
of a downed German plane with a rat as its centrepiece."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[Has anyone seen or heard of the unofficial medal the article
speaks of? Not the modern commemoratives as seen in the following links,
but an original, made-by-a-soldier-from-a-captured-plane medal?
-Editor] (tobruk)


Dick Johnson writes: "San Antonio, Texas has a Fiesta every Spring.
This year it runs for ten days, April 20-29. Over 100 events are
scheduled in a city-wide party that is family friendly. Lots of Fiesta
merchandise is created, posters, T-shirts, hats, pins and medals that
are sold in a special street-front store. Great so far.

"Also every year the local newspaper, the San Antonio Express-News,
conducts a contest for citizens to design a Fiesta Medal. The 2007
winners were announced this week (April 19), illustrated in the paper
and all contest entries are shown on the Internet. It exemplifies the
complete lack of knowledge of what the public (at least in Southwest
Texas) thinks is a medal.

"This year's winner was a three-part fabrication that would be better
called a jewelry item than a medal. For the most part "medal" entries
are more like "decorations," to be worn. Most have a header, and a
cloth drape attached to a pendant (the actual "medal" part).

"The accompanying news story accurately described this year's medal
creations: 'Once again, readers rallied the glue guns, glitter and
so many more crafty ingredients to create an army of homemade medals
that overwhelmed the senses. From shoe fetishes to sticky tongues,
this year's pin-on platoon proved that, as always, imaginative
medal-makers seize the day.'

"'Glue guns?' 'Glitter?' 'Crafty ingredients?'  Saint-Gaudens is
rolling over in his grave! Traditional medal makers please stop
flinching. It's all just good clean fun. (And maybe someday a real
medal designer could emerge from this sand box kindergarten activity?)

"If you would like to see these imaginative "medal" creations go to
this URL and click on 'Slide Show:'"

Slide Show


While there are plenty of very interesting and important coins and
medals in the upcoming Stack's sale of the John J. Ford collection,
one of my favorites is the 1787 Excelsior copper, which the catalog
entry calls "One of the very finest known specimens of this rare
and evocative issue, finer than all but a few of the dozen or so known."

"There are few more evocative series than the New York Excelsior coppers,
struck in small numbers at the same time New York was considering a
contract copper coinage like other states in the region. No contract
was granted, but several different varieties exist, types that were
probably conceived as patterns but then struck in somewhat larger numbers
just to exact some profit. The New York Arms die is interesting, relating
these to the Brasher doubloons that were likely authored by the same
engraver. The Indian die, however, has received extensive comment over
the years, particularly since it is rare in every form and every marriage
known. The legend LIBER NATUS LIBERTATEM DEFENDO is translated as "born
free, I defend freedom," a slogan that befits its era even if the Indian
it depicts was nearly completely removed from the urban East by that point."

"From Thomas Elder's sale of the Peter Gschwend Collection (purchased
intact by William H. Woodin, then consigned to Elder), June 1908, Lot 87;
F.C.C. Boyd Collection; Boyd Estate to New Netherlands Coin Company on
April 25, 1958; John L. Roper Collection; our sale of the Roper
Collection, December 1983, Lot 275."

To view the complete lot listing, see: Full Story

[I asked Stack's cataloguer John Kraljevich about his favorites in
the sale.  He writes: "I have many favorites in this sale -- the two
Sommers Island pieces both have awesome pedigrees; the two pence is
Parsons-Norweb and I discovered that the shilling is ex. Murdoch,
which is an extremely rare U.S. pedigree. I also rather like the
UNIQUE and newly discovered Broad Axe Higley too!"  Below are links
to the lot descriptions. -Editor]

ca. 1616 Sommer Islands shilling - Large sails variety
1616 Sommer Islands shilling - Large sails variety

ca. 1616 Sommer Islands shilling - Small star variety
1616 Sommer Islands shilling - Small star variety

1739 Higley Copper - Broad Axe variety
1739 Higley Copper - Broad Axe variety


Web site visitor Dave Lanara writes: "Yesterday I discovered the
E-Sylum story on the American Numismatic Society's Lincoln peace medal
with the Indian/bullet and was stunned beyond belief.  The reason is
that I have been searching for this medal for over twenty years. It
was part of a huge number of artifacts that belonged to a Denver
businessman who wrote an account of his acquisition of the medal
in the 1870s.  Are you interested in the details that seem to be
lacking in the ANS records?"


[I said yes in a heartbeat.  Here's the story,
copyright 2007 David A. Lanara.  -Editor]

"There is an Indian Peace medal in the ANS collection that is
very special.  One of the original Lincoln peace medals, it bears
the scar of a bullet strike at two o'clock on its reverse, with a
major portion of the bullet still imbedded.  According to the ANS
site, this medal was obtained from an Ute Indian who said it was
"bad medicine."

"J. Sanford Saltus purchased the medal in 1917 and donated it to
the ANS, where it has resided ever since.  A note with the history
was supposedly attached to a box in which it was received, but that
note has been misplaced, rendering the complete history of the
medal unknown.

"My interest in the medal began in 1980, when I was researching
the man who obtained it from the Ute Indian.  John P. Lower was
a Denver gun dealer from 1876 through to his death in 1917. He
wrote an article for the Denver Republican in 1913 that described
the circumstance surrounding the acquisition of the medal and
several others.  Here is the actual text of that portion of the

"...I was [the Ute Indians'] trader for many, many years.  I was as
fair and honest with them as with their white brothers.  For this
kindness they brought me their rare and beautiful furs, and many curios.
It was in this manner that I was given the information that Washington,
Ute chief, was the possessor of one of the original Washington medals.
This rarity had come out here in the far West through the channels of
Indian trading, warfare, and bloodshed.  Early in the 50s, Washington,
then a young buck, with another name, took this medal from the neck
of a dead Arapaho after a battle with a war party at Whisky Gap, Wyo.
After he had worn it for some time he was given the name of Washington
by Indians and whites alike.  He was a grand old chief.  I opened
negotiations for this medal in 1872 and did not secure the coveted
relic until 1876.

"I had it in the store and kept it locked carefully away.  Among
the men that were my regular visitors was Emil Grainier, a wealthy
mining man engaged in the business of mining at Atlantic City, Wyo.
He saw that medal and literally talked me out of it. I sold it to
him for $50, the price of the stuff that I had traded old Chief
Washington for the medallion.  Shortly afterward he left for Paris,
his home.  He advised me that he had stopped in Washington, called
upon the treasury department, and the Smithsonian institution and
had the authenticity of the piece proven.  The Smithsonian offered
him $1,000, which he refused.  Then, when he showed it to the
historical academy of France, they immediately offered him $2,500,
and kept on increasing their offer until the figures went into the
five thousands.  The last time that I heard from him, this piece
was his most treasured possession.  These medals were the most
valued of all things in the mind of the Indian.

"I have here in my safe four of the rarest Indian medals that are
in existence.  Two of Lincoln, one of Andrew Johnson and one of Grant.
The story of how I acquired them all would fill a volume in itself.
I doubt if there is a like collection anywhere else in the world.
Each one has its peculiar associations and history. (Authors note:
It is probable that J. Sanford Saltus obtained all of these medals
after Lower's death.)

"Of course, I consider the Honko, Ute chief medal of Lincoln, my
prize curio.  At 2 o'clock on the medal you see the greater part of
an ounce ball imbedded.  It is bent from the shock of the impact of
this bullet.  It was at the battle of Cheyenne Wells that the Utes
and Arapahoe-Cheyennes met in deadly conflict.  During the engagement
Honko was struck by a ball and after some weeks he came into the store
and said to me, after showing me the bent silver medallion:  "Heap bad
medicine.  Bullet him knock me dead.  Squaw poured heaps and heaps of
water over me.  No dead after two hours dead.  No want.  Much bad
medicine.  Trade!"

"After the usual dickering and argument I received the prized piece.
I consider this relic the most valuable of any in the entire world.
It is the most valuable to any collector on account of the unusual
circumstances that surround it.  There is no like medal in existence.
There never will be another.  In years to come its value will be greater
than the Washington relic.  The letter that accompanies the medal vouches
for the absolute worth and authenticity of the near death of a famous
Indian chief."  (The letter referred to was written by an Indian scout
named Clarke who witnessed the battle and the recovery of the chief.)"

Dave adds: "I hope you have enjoyed this lost piece of numismatic
history.  Mr. Lower's vision of the medal's future has come true."

To view the ANS museum catalog entry for the medal, see:
 ANS museum catalog entry


Ben Weiss writes: "The web site describing my collection of Historical
and Commemorative Medals has been recently modified to include high-
resolution images of all the medals. Those with high speed Internet
connections can readily download these images from the web site.
There are also lower resolution images for those who have slower
Internet connections, such as dial-up. The site is an attempt to put
the Medal into the broader context of Art and to briefly explain the
historical period associated with each medal. I hope this will allow
all those interested in Art and History to explore these topics
through the wonderful world of Medallic Art."

The site can be accessed from the following link:


Last week I asked, "Can anyone locate an August Frank advertisement
listing pop-out coins for sale?"  Dick Johnson writes: "Did you think
August Frank sold these items to the public?  Most medal manufacturing
firms prior to The Franklin Mint they manufactured these items for
their clients, who in turn sold to the public.

"Be that as it may, I would also love to see any August Frank
advertisement from 1892 (when August Frank himself came to America
and started his diesinking business) through 1973, when his sons sold
the business (incidentally, they kept the part of the business that
manufactured water sprinklers)!"


John and Nancy Wilson pointed out the following item published on the
web site of the Wilson Museum of Castine, Maine.  The Wilson Museum
Bulletin (vol 4, Nos 24-25) reprinted an article by Joseph Williamson
first printed for the Maine Historical Society in 1859 titled "Castine;
And the Old Coins Found There", about a coin hoard discovered in the
town in 1840.

"Upon finding the first coin, which proved to be a French crown, Capt.
Grindle and his son commenced digging away the earth around the rock,
and by the time it was dark, had possessed themselves of eighteen or
twenty additional pieces. They then abandoned the search, intending
to renew it on the following day. That night a severe snow storm
occurred, which covered the ground, and rendered further investigations
during the winter impracticable.

"Early in the spring they resumed the examination. On the top of the
rock, embedded in the mass, one or two coins were found, and upon striking
a crowbar into the declivity, and grubbing up the alders, they came upon
a large deposit, numbering some four or five hundred pieces of the
currency of France, Spain, Spanish America, Portugal, Holland, England,
and Massachusetts. Mr. Grindle’s wife held her apron, which her husband
and son soon loaded with, as she afterwards remarked, “the best lapful
she had ever carried.”"

"Most of the coins were French crowns, half-crowns, and quarters, all
of the reigns of Louis XIII. And Louis XIV., and bore various dates,
from 1642 to 1682."

"A large part of the money, numerically considered, consisted of the
old Massachusetts or Pine Tree currency, of which there were fifty or
seventy-five shillings, and nearly as many sixpences."

"The next largest proportion consisted of the clumsy, shapeless
Spanish coinage, commonly called “cob money” or “cobs,” and sometimes
“cross money,” from the figure of a cross, which always characterizes

[Sydney P. Noe wrote about the hoard in the American Numismatic
Society's Numismatic Notes and Monographs, no. 100, "The Castine
Deposit: An American Hoard".   Dave Bowers also covered the subject
in his book, "American Coin Treasures and Hoards". -Editor]


Time-Warner unit AOL (the former America Online) offers video
entertainment on its web site.  One new show has a numismatic tie-in.
According to a Tuesday, April 17 press release, "AOL will introduce
five new programs that will launch on AOL in the fall of 2007 and early
2008 in partnership with leading production companies, including Mark
Burnett, DreamWorks Animation, Endemol, Madison Road Entertainment,
Stone & Co and Telepictures.

"“Million Dollar Bill” – You may already have a winning ticket in
your wallet! Contestants play daily online games to reveal serial
numbers of U.S. dollar bills in active circulation.  Top players
compete on TV, and viewers at home play along for a chance to win
a million dollars.  It launches Q1 '08."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Regarding the Alaska State Quarter designs, Dick Hanscom writes: "I
was on the commission to select designs. We looked through 800+ design
concepts, mixed, matched, etc. and forwarded five to the Mint.  We got
the five back, eliminated one completely, made changes and the results
are what you see.  Our role is pretty much over now and it is in the
governor's hands.

"The descriptions of the designs are not correct as we did not put
"Denali National Park" on any of the quarters, but we did put the
mountain "Denali" (known to you outsiders as Mt. McKinley). That was
how the mint described the designs; we corrected them, but they
apparently did not get the message."

[Dick also provided links to some web sites relating to the coin
designs.  -Editor]

This was the website for the commission: Alaska State Quarter

Commission members: Commission members

This is the governor's new website: governor's new website


Dick Johnson writes: "One proposed solution to the rising cost of
coinage compositions is for the U.S. Mint to do what Canada has done
- strike the cent in steel. But consider the disadvantages. Steel is
difficult to strike and they remain magnetic forever. Heaven forbid
you dropped one on a computer disc.

"This came to mind reading an article in a newspaper from Whistler
Canada this week. Reporter Paul Ruiterman reveals the Royal Canadian
Mint produces their cents at .7 of a cent each. That was new to me.

"But he also writes of his travails with the lowly cent. He doesn't
pick them up, he feels forcing the cents on the public is an unnecessary
government scam (even at a .3 cent seignorage), and he dumps them in a
donation jar when receiving them in change.

"His unstated solution is to abolish the cent. Yes, other countries
have already done this, he states, and he won't be the last to mention

"But if the U.S. began striking American cents in steel - or any other
substitute composition - it still doesn't alleviate the problem as
Ruiterman indicated in his article:  The cent has outlived its
usefulness and is destined to be eliminated."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


In 2005 we noted in The E-Sylum that Rolling Stone Bill Wyman had
developed an interest in old coins and artifacts.  He co-wrote a book,
'Bill Wyman’s Treasure Island' with his friend Richard Havers. Now we
learn, Wyman is promoting a metal detector model.

"Most rock stars normally put their names to normal things, endorsing
guitars, drums and keyboards. Like I said most rock stars - but not
ex-Rolling Stone Bill Wyman, for he has decided to put his name to
a metal detector.

"The Bill Wyman Signature Detector is, according to the press release,
a metal detector with one thing in mind - 'to make the experience of
metal detecting fun, easy and accurate.'"

To read the complete article, see: Full Story



Wanna watch 10,000 standing-on-edge coins go down like dominoes? See:
Coins Falling Video


This week's featured web page is "How Money Is Made," a video from
How Stuff Works about the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the
production of U.S. paper money.

How Money Is Made

  Wayne Homren
  Numismatic Bibliomania Society 

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

The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature.   For more information please see our web site at There is a membership application available on the web site.  To join, print the application and return it with your check to the address printed on the application.  Visit the Membership page. Those wishing to become new E-Sylum subscribers (or wishing to Unsubscribe) can go to the following web page link.

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