The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 10, Number 17, April 29, 2007: 
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society. 
Copyright (c) 2007, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers is Giulia Clark. Welcome aboard! 
We now have 1,106 subscribers.

This week's issue opens with sad news of the death of a prominent 
numismatist and former ANA employee. On a brighter note, collectors 
are clambering to visit the new money museum opened in St. Louis by 
nonagenarian numismatist Eric Newman.

Among new research queries is a request for a named 1886 Henkels Sale 
of the Dr. Edward Maris Collection. On a prior topic Ron Abler writes: 
"Once again, the E-Sylum community came through with knowledgeable 
expert information. Please thank Anne Bentley for her spot-on advice 
and assure her that I have not, nor will I ever, treat my wooden medals 
with anything but TLC and as stable an environment as I can manage."

In the news, some buildings of the former Birmingham Mint are being 
demolished, the Eliasberg 1913 Liberty Nickel traded hands for a record 
$5 million, and President George Bush was rebuffed by a soldier when he 
tried to present a soldier's Medal of Honor.

In other newspaper articles this week are great feature interviews with 
experts on Australian trade tokens and U.S. Civil War tokens. Also, a 
Texas pizza chain's experiment with accepting pesos has been a success. 
But that's not all - there are also two great articles on current U.S. 
and former Canadian banknote artists.

Which state found $2.9 million in half cents? And what do grave-robbing, 
venereal disease and "Ua mau ke ea o ka 'aina e ka pono" have to do with 
numismatics? Read on to find out! Have a great week, everyone.

Wayne Homren 
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Former American Numismatic Association Museum Collection Manager 
Christopher T. Connell passed away Monday, peacefully in his sleep, 
according to Gail Baker of the ANA. An Episcopalian priest, Chris 
was also a passionate byzantine historian and numismatist. He taught 
a Byzantine Coins class at the ANA's summer seminars, and both he and 
his wife Susan (also an Episcopalian priest) were Summer Seminar 
chaperones and very active with Young Numismatists. Originally from 
New Jersey, Chris was an officer of the Ocean County Coin Club (OCCC) 
and the Garden State Numismatic Association (GSNA).

The service is April 30, 2007 at All Saints' Episcopal Church, Miami, OK 
74354. The service is at 11:00AM and a reception will follow in the 
parish hall.

His wife Susan adds: "Please ask people who wish to send a memorial 
to send them to All Saints' Church, 225 B Street NW, Miami, OK 74354 
marked for the memorial fund in memory of Chris Connell. The committee 
and I will purchase something depending on the funds (stained glass 
window to altar linens, extra chalice and paten) depending upon the 
amounts gathered."

The ANA published the following press release when he took an early 
retirement from the ANA to return to the church:

"Connell, whose numismatic expertise is centered on ancient coinage, 
has been teaching courses on Byzantine numismatics at the ANA Summer 
Seminar for several years and is a frequent exhibitor of Byzantine 
coins, often placing first at local, regional and national conventions.

"A member of the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG), Connell has written 
articles for The Numismatist, The Celator and COINage magazines, as well 
as scripts for ANA's former radio program, Money Talks.

"Connell is a past president of the New Jersey Numismatic Society, Ocean 
County Coin Club and Watchung Hills Coin Club, and has served on the 
board of the Garden State Numismatic Association. He was ANA Regional 
Coordinator for Region 2 (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Washington, 
D.C.) and served as master of ceremonies for the 1997 ANA convention 
banquet in New York. In 2000, Connell was named the ANA's Young Numismatist 
(YN) Adult Advisor and last August was appointed chairman of the ANA's YN 

"His 1995 Glenn Smedley Memorial Award citation stated, 'Chris Connell's 
contagious enthusiasm for Byzantine coins extends beyond this collecting 
specialty to his sharing of knowledge and delight with other collectors. 
He spreads the joy of collecting throughout the numismatic hobby, 
introducing many new collectors to this otherwise formidable subject.'"

"A collector for many years, Connell is Episcopal priest. He is taking 
an early retirement as rector of All Saints Church in Great Neck, New York."

Gar Travis forwarded a link to Connell's obituary in the Miami (Oklahoma) 
News Record.

"Connell was born July 25, 1946, in New York, N.Y., to Martin and 
Vivienne Connell. He lived in New York, New Jersey and Colorado before 
moving to Miami in August. He was briefly enlisted in the Air Force.

"He earned a bachelor of arts degree in theatre from Kenyon College in 
Gambier, Ohio, and a master of arts degree in theatre arts from the 
University of Michigan. He continued his education at the Episcopal 
Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., receiving a master's of divinity 

"'After retiring from full-time parish ministry, he served as collections 
manager for the Museum of the American Numismatic Association in Colorado 
Springs, Colo. Since moving to Miami, he has served as supply priest to 
St. Martin of Tours in Pryor and St. Basil's in Tahlequah.

"'He became a member of the Miami Little Theatre, appearing in 'Fiddler 
on the Roof' and was most recently cast in 'You're A Good Man Charlie 
Brown.' He was a member of the Rotary Club.'

To read the complete obituary, see:  Full Story


Dave Wnuck writes: "I just returned from the Early American Coppers 
convention going on this weekend in St. Louis. I thought your readers 
might be amused to hear about the rock concert-like demand for the 200 
tickets for the tour of the Eric P. Newman Money Museum. Quoting from 
the report of the event we just uploaded to the website:

"To give you an idea of the demand for that museum tour, I called the 
volunteer EAC host to get my name on the list to attend. I figured 
calling him a month in advance would be plenty of time to secure a seat. 
After all, this was a field trip to a coin museum, not a Rolling Stones 

"Boy, was I wrong. All two hundred slots for this tour were spoken for, 
and I was #20 on the waiting list. Needless to say, I was not able to 
get a seat on the one of the 4 busses that transported folks to the 
museum. I heard (unconfirmed) rumors that there was a dealer making a 
buy/sell market in these "free" tickets. 

"After all, Mr. Newman, who once owned all five 1913 Liberty nickels 
simultaneously (one of which sold just this month for $5 million), has 
a collection that is said to surpass even John Ford's holdings [now 
being sold in a series of 20+ auctions spread over 5 years]. It was the 
hottest ticket in town."

To read Dave's complete EAC blog entry, see:  Dave's complete EAC blog


Fred Lake of Lake Books writes: "The prices realized list for our sale 
#88 which closed on Tuesday, April 24, 2007 is now available for viewing 
on our web site at: Lake Books Prices Realized

Our next sale will be held in late June, 2007."


NBS President Pete Smith writes: "I'm attempting to limit the clutter 
in my life and reduce the numismatic literature in my library. I'm 
offering numismatic literature free to any NBS member who wants it 
and will pay for shipping. Items include auction catalogs, fixed price 
lists and dealer newsletters. You may request a list by writing to 
me at"

[NOTE: Pete specified Numismatic Bibliomania Society members only. 
Subscribers to free E-Sylum newsletters are not eligible unless they 
are also paid-up members of the society. -Editor]


What does a book about grave-robbing have to do with numismatics? 
In this case, the link is counterfeiting. A new book details the 
actions of a band of counterfeiters who hatched a scheme to steal 
and ransom the body of slain President Abraham Lincoln. The Washington 
Post published a review on April 24 of "Stealing Lincoln's Body" by 
Thomas Craughwell (Belknap/Harvard Univ. 250 pp. $24.95):

"Grave-robbing is rather a lost art. It is hard to recall a single 
well-publicized instance since thieves snatched Charlie Chaplin's 
remains in Switzerland 30 years ago."

"But Abraham Lincoln, the object of one kidnapping plot in life 
(Thomas J. Craughwell doesn't mention it, but John Wilkes Booth 
resorted to assassination only after abandoning his original plan 
to capture and ransom the president for imprisoned Confederate 
soldiers), proved an irresistible candidate for kidnapping in death."

"Body snatchers finally violated Lincoln's tomb on election night 
1876 -- But politics played no role. The grave robbers were low-life 
counterfeiters who hoped only to make quick cash -- of the authentic 
kind -- by holding Lincoln's corpse for a $200,000 payoff. In the 
bargain, they would demand that a notoriously skillful bank-note forger 
be sprung from the penitentiary so he could rejoin their once-prosperous 

"In the end, their caper turned into black comedy. The conspirators 
managed to disturb the tomb but lacked the strength to pull Lincoln's 
heavy casket from its sarcophagus. Caught in the act, they fled the 
scene so quickly that pursuers nearly shot each other in a vain attempt 
to capture them. Only later were the failed grave robbers arrested, 
tried and sent off to prison, serving brief sentences before 
disappearing from history."

[The review notes that the book includes a chapter on the history of 
counterfeiting, and summarizes it as follows: "Summoning the raw spirit 
of crime novels and horror stories, as well as the forensic detail of 
a coroner's inquest, Thomas J. Craughwell has turned the eerie final 
chapter of the Lincoln story into a guilty pleasure." -Editor]

To read the complete review, see: Full Story


I couldn't help but notice an eBay lot description for "The Secret 
Book that Coin Dealers Don't Want You to Read" (item #170104398239). 
It's a great marketing gimmick for the “Coin Preservation Handbook” 
by Charles Frank. The seller states that "This Out Of Print Book is 
rarely available and sells on ebay between $100-$150."

Fred Lake reports that in his numismatic literature sales, copies 
of the book generally sell in the $15-$25 range. I don't follow 
eBay much, so I don't know what price levels there are. Anyway, 
it's interesting to see how certain numismatic books are portrayed 


Gary Trudgen, editor of The Colonial Newsletter writes: "I read with 
interest the report by John and Nancy Wilson concerning the reprinted 
article by Joseph Williamson on the web site of the Wilson Museum of 
Castine, Maine. CNL recently published an authoritative paper on 
this hoard authored by Thomas Kays. His paper, titled 'Second Thoughts 
on a First Rate Coin Hoard: Castine Revisited' appeared in the August 
2005 issue and is found on sequential pages 2837 through 2868. It is 
a 'must read' for anyone interested in this hoard."



Ray Williams writes: "I'm hoping an E-Sylum subscriber can help me 
with this question. I'm wondering if a priced and named June 21st, 
1886 Henkels Sale of the Dr. Edward Maris Collection exists that also 
has the names and bid amounts for the individual New Jersey Copper 
lots. These coins consisted of lots 350 through 500. 

"The method that was used to auction the NJ Coppers was for each lot 
to be bid upon and recorded. Once the final NJ lot was auctioned, 
then the bids for all the NJ lots would be added up and bidding starting 
at that amount for the entire NJ Collection intact. The collection was 
purchased intact at the auction by Harold P. Newlin acting as an agent 
for T. Harrison Garrett.

"I'm wondering if anyone has seen a catalog where the individual bidders 
and their bids were recorded for the NJ lots. The listing of names of 
the active NJ Collectors in the 1880s would be of importance, and we 
might find a few important collectors whose names have been lost to time."


Regarding Dave Bowers' search for a Magnetophone, Dan Freidus was able 
to locate an outfit that handles the transfer of recordings from old 
wire recorders to new media. But Dave Baldwin has a friend who has a 
real live Magnetophone, and Dave writes: "I will send the two recordings 
off to them. I hope that after 45+ years they are not demagnetized!"

[Thanks, everyone. Let's hope those old numismatic recordings can 
be retrieved and converted to a modern format. -Editor]

Magnetophone transfer service
Magnetophone transfer service



Larry Dziubek asked about 1960s-era coin dealer Ray Wheeler, in order 
to assign the location of a maverick trade token. We haven't quite 
nailed down the location, but much more is known thanks to Mark Borckardt 
of Heritage, who writes: 

"There is no doubt that Ray Wheeler can be found in the roster of 
American Numismatic Association members. He was an unsuccessful 
candidate for ANA governor in 1965. Although this doesn't help with 
a location, he should be accessible. Dave Bowers' ANA History even 
includes a picture of Mr. Wheeler on page 1038 in Volume II of his 
reference, an invaluable source of information."

[Many thanks. I do have the Bowers ANA History volume, but didn't 
think to look there for (what I thought was) an "ordinary" member. 
As a candidate for governor he had a high profile in his day, and 
there will likely be ads and other information on him in the page 
of The Numismatist. 

Amber Thompson at the ANA Library confirmed for us that Wheeler was 
a candidate in 1965, age 47. His town? Avon, Missouri. He was the 
only ANA member from that town, using a P.O. Box as an address in 
both 1965 and 1964. 

Still unanswered is whether THIS Ray Wheeler is THE Ray Wheeler who 
issued the token which started this line of inquiry. But knowing a 
town, the next step is to check local telephone directories, 
newspapers, etc. for listings or advertisements linking Wheeler, 
his coin shop, and token. Are any of our readers in or near Avon, 
Missuori? -Editor]



Harold Levi writes: "Several issues back, there was some discussion 
about the word “gaol” and its meaning and usage. I wanted to jump in 
at the time but could not remember where I had recently read the proper 
use of the word. 

"The book was “I Rode With Stonewall,” a memoir written by Henry Kyd 
Douglas using a diary he kept during the war and other period documents. 
He was the youngest staff officer in Gen. Thomas J. Jackson’s command. 
My copy of the book is a paperback published by Fawcett Publications, 
Inc in 1965.

"Douglas was admitted to the Virginia Bar in 1860 about the time he 
turned twenty-one. In 1865, after the war, he was arrested and taken 
to the Old Capital Prison in Washington City to testify in the trial 
of Mary Surratt and others. They somehow thought that Gen. Jackson 
had been involved with the Lincoln assassination. On page 329, Douglas 
makes the following statement, “The life of a prisoner in such a 
mysterious gaol was more or less exciting and interesting after it 
was over, an experience one was glad to have had but not anxious to 



Dan Gosling forwarded a note from a relative in England with news 
about the demolition of some buildings of the former Birmingham Mint. 
She writes: "I spoke to one of the builders who said that the site 
has been sold to developers to build 'luxury' and 'affordable living' 
apartments. All of the factory units at the back of the site have 
been removed and they are in the process of removing the blasting 
furnace. The admin buildings are still intact and the builder thinks 
that the developers are hoping to keep these and convert these into 
apartments. I don't know if you remember the wall that had the plaque 
on it? Well this is earmarked to come down but they hope to move 
the plaque onto the front of the admin buildings."

To view Dan's before and after images of the Birmingham Mint, see: 
Full Story


Speaking of Eric Newman's onetime 1913 Liberty Nickel hoard, as Dave 
Wnuck notes, the Eliasberg specimen traded hands this week at $5 million. 
A number of newspapers picked up the story. Here are excerpts from 
The Asbury Park Press (of New Jersey):

"A township-based coin shop has sold a rare 1913 'Liberty Head' nickel 
to a Southern California collector in a lucrative transaction that marks 
the most ever paid for a nickel — and the second-highest price ever paid 
for any coin, according to the coin dealer who arranged the sale.

"'Now we can say we've conquered the 1913 nickels as good as we can,' 
said Laura Sperber, co-president of Legend Numismatics, which sold 
the coin.

"Sperber said the coin was well-traveled, visiting many states and coin 
conventions. It never went anywhere without 'heavy security.'

"The $5 million paid Wednesday was second only to the $7.59 million 
paid in July 2002 for a $20 Double Eagle gold coin from 1933.

"'We bought the coin because we have a fascination with the 1913 
nickel,' said Sperber, who bought the coin with Bruce Morelan, a 
partner in Legend."

To read the complete article, see:  Full Story

[Interestingly, at least one paper covering the sale made the same 
mistake we've seen before over the spelling of the word "dies", in 
its retelling of the "story" of how Samuel Brown came into possession 
of the coins.

"As the story goes, Samuel Brown was working at the Philadelphia Mint 
when orders came down in December 1912 not to mint anymore “Miss Liberty” 
nickels in favor of a new design featuring a bison on the back and a 
Native American Indian on the front. The dyes had already been made, 
however, and Brown somehow ended up with five 1913 nickels with “Miss 
Liberty” on the front and a Roman number V on the back. It’s not clear 
if the coins were made before or after the design switch, or who made 
them, but Brown eventually left the Mint." -Editor]

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


The Post and Courier of Charleston, SC published an article Thursday 
about another stepping the mast ceremony, this time involving an 1879 
silver coin and South Carolina state quarter.

"At the River Styx, the ferryman waits at the gates of the underworld, 
making sure those who pass have silver coins to pay their toll to 
Hades' kingdom.

"The Greek legend dates back to the days of Homer and Odysseus, but 
modern-day sailors know better than to mess with ancient maritime 
tradition or superstition.

"Before the Spirit of South Carolina's crew erected a 97-foot-long 
main mast into the ship's 150-ton frame Wednesday, the daughter of 
the ship's director placed a silver coin under the mast to protect 
sailors for generations to come."

"When the mast reached its hole, a crew of about 15 men circled it, 
shifting it in place to be locked down below.

To read the complete article, see: Full Story




The News-Tribune of Tacoma, Washington published a story this week 
about a wounded soldier who rebuffed President George Bush when he 
came by to present his Medal of Honor, wishing instead to receive 
it from his commanding officer in Iraq.

"After Staff Sgt. Chess Johnson was wounded in Iraq, he was flown to 
Germany and then to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He spent about 
a month recovering from a gunshot wound to the head before being 
shipped home to Fort Lewis. His departure was probably a relief to 
Walter Reed nurses. He admits he was not a model patient.

"Despite devastating injuries – a bullet tore through the right side 
of his face, destroying his eye and his cheekbone – Johnson was a 
handful. He removed those little sticky monitors, and one time he took 
out a catheter because he insisted on standing up and going to the 
bathroom. He’d sneak himself up and into the shower."

"His wife, Amanda, says her 26-year-old husband has a stubborn streak.

"He dug in his heels about one other thing: his Purple Heart, the medal 
that dates back to George Washington, given to service members wounded 
in combat.

"A commander from Fort Lewis went to see him at Walter Reed and told 
him the president himself was going to pin it on.

"Johnson, a native of Dove Creek, Colo., said no – not out of disrespect, 
but because he didn’t want it until he could get back to Iraq and receive 
it with his men. At this point it had been only a few weeks since the 
Dec. 3 shooting in Mosul.

"He declined again when Secret Service agents came by his room the 
next day.

"“A couple days later, President Bush walks into my room,” Johnson 
said. “We had a great conversation. I talked to him for about 20 minutes.”

"The commander in chief presented the soldier with a commemorative coin. 
But no medal.

"“I respect the president 100 percent, but he hasn’t gone to war with me, 
wasn’t in the conflict with me, doesn’t know me as an individual,” Johnson 
said. “That is something that my company commander should give me.”

"Four months later, Johnson finally has his Purple Heart – and a Bronze 
Star for valor to go with it."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[So, I wonder what "commemorative coin" it was that the President 
presented? -Editor]


According to a report this week in the Brisbane Times, "Queenslanders 
will have the opportunity to view two highly-prized Victoria Cross 
medals from next year, after a businessman loaned them to the Queensland 

"Mackay businessman Neil Jenman bought the medals at a Melbourne auction 
in 1999.

"Mr Jenman paid $185,000 and $100,000 respectively for the two medals, 
awarded to heroic young Australians who fought in France in World War 1.

"Major Blair Wark and Private Robert Beatham were both aged 24 when 
they were recognised for their brave deeds on the field of battle.

"Major Wark was awarded the VC in September 1918, after three days of 
heavy fighting attempting to break German defences along the Hindenburg 

"During the battle, Wark and two other men disabled a battery of 77mm 
guns, two heavy machine guns, and captured 60 Germans.

"Private Beatham received his VC in August 1918 when he destroyed five 
enemy machine posts and captured 10 enemy crew.

"The medals will form part of an extensive exhibition at the Queensland 
Museum, commemorating the 90th anniversary of the end of WWI.

"The first Victoria Cross medals were awarded after the Crimean War 
in 1857, with the medals struck from the bronze of captured Russian guns.

"In the past 150 years, 96 Australians have received the VC, with four 
Queenslanders being honoured with the distinction."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Dick Johnson writes: "A headline caught my eye this week, 'Token Economy,' 
but the article was even better than the headline. It was about Jim Noble, 
a Sydney Australia coin dealer, who is also president of the Australian 
Numismatic Dealers Association.

"An excellent written article tells how he became enamored with early 
tokens of his native country that were widely available and undervalued 
by today's standards. 

"He began to take his hobby seriously in 1960 when he placed advertisements 
in newspapers offering to buy tokens. These proved to be a good source 
because few others appreciated the significance of Australian tokens. 
He certainly did. He was studying economics at university at the time 
and realised these coins were important as 'a statement of social history,' 
as he puts it. His already considerable collection was greatly boosted 
when he bought another collection in 1966."

"All tokens have a story to tell. A collection from the mid- to late-1800s 
(they were produced in New Zealand until that time) represents a snapshot 
of the commerce of the day and which trades ruled the economy: grocers, 
general stores, drapers, haberdasheries and pawnbrokers."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Ephemera dealer Marty Weil published a nice, lengthy entry on his 
'ephemera' blog this week interviewing Alan Bleviss on the collecting 
of U.S. Civil War Tokens.

"Alan Bleviss, a voice-over actor based in Canada, is the President of 
the Civil War Token Society. Alan provided a wealth of information 
about Civil War tokens in the following interview.

"ephemera: How did you become interested in Civil War tokens?

"Bleviss: In late 1994, I bid and won a small collection of coins at 
the auction. Attempting to do some research, I discovered it was a Civil 
War Patriotic token. I began frequenting local coin shows and asking if 
they had Civil War tokens, but typical response was either 'no' or 'I 
used to have a very fine collection of white metal ones, but sold them 
long ago.' This peaked my interest. 

"Several years into my collecting of these tokens, I met a dealer who 
asked if I had anything for sale. Upon explaining that I did not wish 
to retain my coins, he purchased all the things I had lost interest in. 
Those funds became my base for acquiring my present collection, which 
numbers almost 4,000 different varieties.

"One short note of importance, the shop keepers accepted each others 
tokens. When I began collecting, I thought to collect one of each variety, 
but that is a task never completed by anyone and is just impossible, 
when some are simply unique, one of a kind. Now, I attempt to obtain at 
least one of each merchant, and if a variety is available which I do not 
have at a reasonable price, I will attempt to obtain it as well. The 
fact that a token is unique means the price is as well. Some merchants 
had thousands of tokens struck and some just a few. There exists a 
merchant from Detroit, Dr. I.C. Rose whose token reads TREATS ALL CHRONIC 
FEMALE & VENEREAL DISEASES, DETROIT, it had to be advertising!" 

To read the complete blog entry, see:  Full Story


Numismatic News has published the full text of a compliant filed with 
the American Numismatic Association by Dwight Manley against ANA Board 
Member Don Kagin. The complaint deals with the unique Blake & Co. gold 
assay bar from the S.S. Central America that had been stolen by a 
workman from Manley's home. 

Manley is accusing Kagin of knowingly attempting to broker a bar he knew 
was stolen. Kagin denies this and it will be quite interesting to see 
how this all plays out. Of interest to bibliophiles is the complaint's 
reference to Kagin's auction catalog notes, which Manley says proves 
Kagin "knew" the unique bar belonged to him.

To read the full complaint filed by Manley, see: 
Full Complaint



An article in the May 2007 issue of Inc. Magazine follows up on the 
recent controversy trigged by a Dallas, TX pizza chain's decision to 
accept Mexican pesos in payment.

"If you've heard of Pizza Patrón, it's probably because of the brouhaha 
that erupted in January after the company announced plans to accept 
Mexican pesos in addition to dollars at its 63 locations. The franchised 
chain, which is based in Dallas and operates in five western states, 
received more than 3,000 protest e-mails and even a few death threats. 
But what may be more interesting than the controversy is the fact that 
the program was easy to implement and had some unexpected benefits.

"Founder Antonio Swad devised the pesos promotion in order to bump up 
sales during a traditionally slow period. Since 65 percent of his 
customers are Latino, Swad hoped the promotion would appeal to customers 
who returned from Christmas trips home to Mexico with a few leftover 
pesos in their wallets. "We're trying to extend a hand to our customers," 
he says.

"After local papers reported on the promotion, everyone from NPR to Fox 
News called to ask about it. Swad estimates that he agreed to 250 
interviews in all, many tying it to the issue of illegal immigration. 

"Swad says he never meant to get caught up in the immigration debate, but 
he enjoys Pizza Patrón's higher profile. Sales are up, too. Pesos now 
account for between 5 to 10 percent of sales... As a result, the company 
decided in March to accept pesos on a permanent basis."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Today The Capital of Annapolis, MD published a great interview with one 
of the BEP's key banknote designers:

"No one makes more money than Bill Krawczewicz.

"But the Severna Park resident won't ever give Bill Gates a run for 
his money because, sadly, the riches aren't his own. 

"Mr. Krawczewicz is a bank note designer, one of only three in the 
country, at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, D.C.

"If you'd like to get a look at his handiwork, just take out your wallet 
and examine the $10s, $20s, and $50s inside. He worked on the recent 
redesign of all three bills.

"He didn't draw the pictures of Hamilton, Jackson and Grant on the 
notes, but he did handle the currency's color and layout, as well as 
the design of the icons of freedom. Some friends call him "Dollar Bill."

"The 40-year-old came to the BEP from the design department of the 
Clinton White House. Prior to that, he worked at the U.S. Mint, a job 
he got shortly after graduating from the University of Maryland.

"Mr. Krawczewicz's professional projects often start with a drawing, 
but he does most of his work on a computer. Some of his handiwork can 
only be seen with the aid of a magnifier, and he can work in increments 
as small as a few microns.

"Mr. Krawczewicz keeps up on the world, money-wise, by collecting foreign 
bills. He likes to see how other countries incorporate design details in 
their bank notes. He doesn't collect coins, though. 'I've always liked 
money, he said with a chuckle. '(But) I see it differently now. I have 
more of an understanding of all the labor that goes into it.'"

"Besides bank notes, he's designed the Maryland quarter, President George 
W. Bush's official medal, a World Cup soccer coin, the James Madison silver 
dollar, and three Olympic coins for the summer games in Atlanta in 1996.

"Some of that joy and fervor is evident when Mr. Krawczewicz discusses 
his work at the BEP. "I just really enjoy my job," he said. "I want the 
notes to look as beautiful as possible. I just put my heart into it and 
I hope the public will feel the same way."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Also today The Gazette of Montreal published a nice obituary of Lesley 
Sawyer, an artist responsible for a number of Canadian currency designs.

"Leslie Sawyer had designs on a lot of money. But he never became rich.

"The British-born graphic artist responsible for the Scenes of Canada 
series of Canadian banknotes that were issued in the 1970s, died April 
15 of congestive heart failure in the Lakeshore General Hospital. He was 86.

"As a child, he displayed a natural talent for drawing and at 14 dropped 
out of school to apprentice as a commercial artist.

"At 19, he joined the Royal Air Force and during the Second World War 
served with 112 Squadron as ground crew in the North African Campaign 
painting the shark's faces on Tomahawk aircraft.

"When the war ended, he went to work in London as a designer for the 
De La Rue Company Ltd., described as the world's largest security 
printer, which began printing currency for the British Treasury in 1914.

"As a house artist, he was responsible for the design on the back of the 
$5 bill in the 1954 series of Canadian currency that introduced the 
queen's portrait on Canadian money for the first time.

"In the 1970s, he designed the series of Canadian banknotes that 
featured multicoloured security tints to the basic hues of the bank 

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


David Sundman, Philip Mernick and Dick Johnson all forwarded an article 
from the BBC News Magazine about the growing obsolescence of the one 
pence coin. Below are Dick Johnson's comments and a few excerpts from 
the article.

Dick Johnson writes: "A report published in Great Britain this week 
reveals where six and a half billion lost coins end up. And that's just 
the new pence issued since 1971. How the imaginative Brits studied that 
I don't know but here are some of their results: 2.6 billion of the 
small coins are lying in gutters and on the street -- and the percentage 
of people willing to pick them up is dwindling -- 1.1 billion in lady's 
handbags, 780 million in cars, 590 million under cushions of settees. 

"The Royal Mint is quoted as saying "the lost pennies account for 38 
per cent of all those issued." This suggests that Britons no longer 
believe in the saying: 'Look after the pennies and the pounds will 
look after themselves.' 

"Since September 1992 England -- like Canada -- has stuck pennies in 
copper plated steel. Had they continued striking them in copper, the 
copper alone today would cost 1.65 pence each.

"The report recounts that the half pence coin came into general 
circulation after the February 1971 decimalization. But the tiny 1/2p 
was withdrawn at the end of 1984 because shopkeepers could not be 
bothered with it any more. They had lost their economic usefulness.

"The rising cost of minting such low value coins is reflecting a 
world-wide trend. Low valued coins are destined to be abolished because 
of the rising world economy and the utter uselessness of a coin of 
such small value. It's no wonder that people don't bother to pick them 
off the street anymore.

"The news article on this report ran in several British newspapers. 
This one from the BBC News magazine had the best pictures, quotes 
Jeremy Cheek on the staff of Spinks, London's famed coin dealers, 
and has some interesting readers comments"

Here are some excerpts from the article: 

"'I bought something yesterday and it came to £3.99 and I said to 
the trader you can keep the penny. I've seen people years ago throwing 
the old half pence piece away and I think the penny is now viewed the 
same way. 

"'Personally speaking I can't see it being around much longer - maybe 
two or three years. I don't think you can buy things for a penny 
anymore. It's a sign of the times.' 

"The Royal Mint disagrees the coins days are numbered - as its re-design 
plans demonstrate. 

"Even the coin collectors have little time for the new penny. one 
expert describing it as 'very boring,' compared to the coin it replaced 
on D-day or decimalisation day back in February 1971. 

"'There was some sort of romanticism about the old penny with coins 
dating back to the time of Victoria still in circulation,' says 
Jeremy Cheek, Numismatist with coin dealers, Spink. 

"Since its introduction 36 years ago, it has changed remarkably little. 
The prefix 'new' was dropped from the coin's tail-side in 1982 and the 
head has seen three different pictures of the Queen as she has aged 
alongside the design. 

"But perhaps the biggest change will have passed most of us by with 
the switch in 1992 from an alloy of bronze, copper and zinc, to a steel 
disc coated in copper, when the price of the original raw materials 
outstripped the penny's face value. 

"The existing design won't vanish overnight when the re-vamped penny 
is introduced with what the mint promises will be a design reflecting 
'modern Britain.'"

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

To read a related article on, see: Full Story


One currency-related topic we've neglected to cover is the upcoming 
currency revaluation in Venezuela, which will bring about the adoption 
of a new currency name and banknote issue. Arthur Shippee forwarded 
a New York Times article which unfortunately isn't available on the 
firm's web site anymore for free. Another article we found is an 
opinion piece criticizing the government for addressing only the 
current issues and not the underlying economy.

"After so much insistence on a supposed monetary reform, the government 
suddenly decided to adopt only a reconversion. In this case, it will 
divide all prices and salaries by 1,000 starting Oct.

"And starting Jan. 1, 2008, it will issue a new currency called the 
Bolivar Fuerte (Bs. F). But of measures needed to lower inflation 
and protect the value of this new currency, nothing is said. 

"Since 2001 the Hugo Chávez government had been insisting on the need 
for a monetary reform, which is much more complex, of greater range 
and more useful than any rudimentary currency reconversion.

"To the contrary, a reconversion simply means modifying the monetary 

"That is, dividing the current value of all bills and coins, as well 
as prices and wages, by 1,000. In other words, three zeros will be 
eliminated from all the bills and coins in circulation, to be substituted 
by others with three fewer zeros. This, moreover, will include, according 
to BCV President Gastón Parra Luzardo, designs alluding to nationality, 
Venezuelan ethnic origins and its women."

"The reconversion will come into force Oct. 1, when all prices and 
wages must be simultaneously expressed in Bs. and in Bs. F, but it 
will not be until Jan. 1, 2008 when new bills will circulate in 
denominations of Bs.F 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 2; and coins of Bs. 
1,00, 0.50, 0.25, 0.125, 0.10, 0.05 and 0.01. Current bills in bolivars 
will continue to be used during a transition period whose duration has 
yet to be stipulated, when both currencies may be used. After this 
transition period, only the Bolivar Fuerte (Bs.F.) will be valid."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


An April 24th article in the Honolulu Advertiser proclaims 'It's 

"'A 25-cent piece featuring the mighty profile of King Kamehameha, 
the eight main islands, our state motto (Ua mau ke ea o ka 'aina e ka 
pono), admission year and — in case anyone doesn't get it — the word 
'Hawaii' will be jingling in pockets and purses across the U.S.

"'Gov. Linda Lingle yesterday announced formal approval of the Hawai'i 
commemorative quarter, the last of 50 such quarters to be authorized 
and issued by the U.S. Mint. 

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[Bad choice, in my opinion. At least they didn't choose the surfer or 
Hula dancer, but the chosen design combining the statue of King Kamehameha 
and the outline of the state looks for all the world like someone tossing 
out scraps of trash. The "Diamond Head" design would have been much 
better. -Editor]


"The final design for the Alaska commemorative quarter was unveiled by 
Gov. Sarah Palin Monday. The governor's choice was the bear with a salmon 
and the North Star. Mark Vinsel, chair of the Alaska Commemorative Coin 
Commission, was with Palin for the unveiling ceremony in Anchorage. The 
design will be forwarded to the United States Mint, with the coin's 
release scheduled for fall 2008. 

"In the Homer News online poll about the quarter, the brown bear with 
a salmon also was the favorite quarter with 36 percent of those voting 
choosing that design. The Denali Park design with the musher, Big Dipper 
and North Star was a close second with 34 percent voting for it, followed 
by the polar bear with the midnight sun (25 percent). The least favorite 
design in the Homer News poll was the gold panner in Denali National Park, 
with only 5 percent of those voting saying that should be the state's 

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[Now this choice, I like. The brown bear with a salmon design is a 
great way to represent Alaska's great outdoors. It's uncluttered and 
should make a handsome coin.

With the decisions on the Hawaii and Alaska designs (scheduled for 2008 
release) the Fifty State Quarter series is coming to an end. I'm not 
looking forward to these references to the year 1959, when I was a year 
old. It means that when I was born, there weren't even fifty states in 
the Union, which makes me feel older than dirt. Don't tell my wife, who 
already teases me for being old(er). -Editor]


Dick Johnson writes: "You can place a bet for one half-cent at two of 
the casinos in Connecticut. But they are not using pre-1857 U.S. coins. 
And don't expect these 19th century rarities to come flying out when you 
hit a jackpot. It's all done with credits and a printed card.

"You can feed the machine a $10 bill and receive 2,000 half-cent credits. 
Or you can do the same at one-cent one-armed bandits. They have installed 
38 half-cent machines at the Mohegen Sun Casino., for example. The half- 
cent machines took in $2.9 million at the two casinos the first two months. 
But the machines keep 14%. That's a pretty high vigorish.

"I am at the opposite end of the state or I would visit one of these 
gambling meccas just to give you readers a first-hand report. (What I 
must do for E-Sylum subscribers!) But Americans are big-time spenders. 
In Australia you can bet one-quarter cent or less in some of their casinos 
according to a recent news story!"

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


This week's featured web site is the catalogue of currencies, maintained 
by Slovakian software firm APIS Ltd.

  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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