The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 10, Number 21, May 27, 2007:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2007, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Eric Anderson, Tony Lopez,
David Powell and Dick Grinolds.  Welcome aboard!  We now have
1,118 subscribers.

This week we open with an interesting theory proposed by Jim Hirtle
on a publishing connection between B. Max Mehl and Boston dealer
William Von Bergen.  Next, Dick Johnson reviews the new Amos Press
numismatic book catalog and Dan Freidus tells us about his new
literature exhibit at Amherst Collage.  In the news, much of the
talk is about Odyssey Marine's massive shipwreck haul.  In response
to earlier E-Sylum items, Bob Leonard discusses the infamous
'Brother Jonathan' bars, and Kerry Rodgers inquires about banknotes
featuring Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter.

Next is "Wayne's London Diary", an account of my numismatic adventures
of the past week.  After that we return to some news items and other
submissions, many on a military theme.  Next up are two items on the
topic of coins as an advertising medium.  Along the way we also cover
the launch of the new John Adams dollar coin and hear about the
ceremony direct from the coin's designer, Joel Iskowitz.

Among the remaining topics are David Powell's Leaden Token Telegraph
newsletters on early British lead tokens, and some speculation on
whether coins were used to provide silver for the Manhattan Project.

This is a lengthy issue.  Next week's will likely be shorter and
published early due to my travel schedule.  Please send any
submissions early in the week.  To learn where misplaced U.S. Mint
orders end up, read on. Have a great week, everyone.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Jim Hirtle writes: "It has been my belief for a number of years
that the "Star Rare Coin Encyclopedia" did not spring full-blown
from the head of B. Max [Benjamin Maximilian], Mehl the famous
Fort Worth coin dealer.  Now, I have discovered evidence that
supports my theory and I am proposing this hypothesis.

"William Von Bergen -- a Boston coin dealer in the period of the
1880s to the early 1900s was the author of two widely-read coin
books which succeeded each other in the marketplace: first came

"The early book went through about nine editions beginning in
the 1880s (the earliest that I have been able to locate is dated
1889), only to be replaced by the THE RARE COIN ENCYCLOPEDIA which
went through about seven editions, the last being published in 1907.

"Since every copy of the Von Bergen book that I own has a different
colored cover, it is obvious to me that -- in the tradition of many
such books of the period -- the buyer got a paperback copy which
he then contracted with a bookbinder to put into hardback form. Thus,
I have red, blue and maroon-covered copies of Von Bergen's works.

"The interesting thing about Von Bergen's works is that they disappear
from the numismatic scene at almost exactly the same time that Mehl's
works begin to appear.  Now, any student of numismatic literature will
tell you that works of B. Max Mehl prior to about 1920 are very seldom
met with if at all.

"In the 1920s, Mehl's Star Coin Book is a very prolific work but, prior
to that decade, few Mehl works are available.  An Internet search of
"Mehl," "B. Max Mehl," or "Max Mehl" will quickly confirm this fact.
However, after many years of searching, I finally located the earliest
copy of Mehl's "Star Coin Book" which I have been able to acquire.  It
is dated 1910 and is described as the "Fourth Edition" which would mean
that Mehl began producing it about the year 1907.  Interestingly enough,
1907 is the last year that I can trace any Von Bergen book to (1906-1907
Edition published in 1907).  This would seem to me to indicate that
the two publishers' careers meshed neatly, with Von Bergen leaving
the stage just as Max Mehl appeared.

"As further evidence of the business relationship of the two men, a
study of Von Bergen's format and content would indicate that his and
Mehl's works were very similar both in content, size, and scope with
each containing much the same material about grading, how to mail coins
to the company, and other general information. Even more interesting,
Von Bergen referred to his business as the "Numismatic Bank," a name
that Mehl used into the early 1920s for his coin operation. Note, in
addition, that Mehl always carefully referred to himself as a "compiler"
of his book, in effect saying that at least some of its content was
not original with him.

"Based on the timing and similarity of the two men's books, it is my
belief that Max Mehl and Von Bergen had some sort of business relationship
in which the Texas dealer bought the rights to the Boston dealer's
publication and business name and began producing the "encyclopedia"
of the "Numismatic Bank" under his own name. This would certainly
explain the fact that Von Bergen's book ceased publication at about
the same time that Mehl's appeared, probably in the same year -- 1907."

[I don't have my library handy, but I think Jim's theory has a lot going
for it.  I believe the earliest copy of the Mehl book that I own is the
1910 fourth edition.  I had noticed the "Numismatic Bank" connection and
other similarities, but like many of us I assumed Mehl had just copied
the earlier book.  I had also assumed that the early editions that no
one has ever been able to locate were made up by Mehl to make his book
sound more established.  But the dovetailing dates make a Von Bergen -
Mehl connection a possibility.  What are our readers' thoughts?


Dick Johnson writes: "I was critical of the Amos Product catalog in
the past. To be fair and balanced I must compliment the firm for the
latest edition that arrived in my mail box this week.

"It carries twelve pages of numismatic books -- 107 books and CDs --
all on specialized aspects of our favorite subject, numismatics.
You would be hard pressed not to find something offered herein to
whet your interest, expand your knowledge, or perhaps, reveal some
fascinating collectors' lore. Great reading all!

"Each book is illustrated in color. Brief description, retail price
and Amos discount price. I had to search, however for authors' names
(they are buried in each description). Oh, please, allow me one
suggestion: put the authors' names in bold face type. Most of these
books are labors of love with little chance of paying off the house
mortgage with the book royalties. How about a little satisfaction
of seeing the author's name in big black print? (Okay, tiny black

To read the nasty things I wrote last time, see:
And to read Beth Deisher's flagellation with a wet noodle, see:
esylum_v07n38a09.html  "


Dan Freidus writes: "I've got an exhibit in the library at Amherst
College that will be there from this Wednesday through Sunday.  When
I was an undergrad there I won a book collecting contest and I've
stayed in touch with the college's librarians. They'll be hosting
an exhibit on how the contest has affected my collecting over the
past 25 years.

"In actuality, that exhibit would have taken much more space than
they had so what you'll see if you happen to be in the area is a
slice of my collection.  The judges 25 years ago encouraged me to
be more focused in my collecting.  Now my collection is mainly on
U.S. coins and paper money of the colonial and Confederation eras,
with an emphasis on financial and economic history rather than
pure numismatics.

"The exhibit is comprised of 18th century paper money and financial
documents, contemporary newspapers, 19th century books on these
topics from either historical or numismatic perspectives, and a
few auction catalogs.

"If you can find Amherst, Massachusetts, you can find Amherst College.
The Special Collections room will have longer hours than normal this
week because of reunions.  The hours will be 9-noon & 1-4 on Wednesday,
Thursday, and Friday; 8-5 on Saturday; and 9-1 on Sunday.   If anyone
will try to make it to the exhibit, they can email me beforehand at  It's always nice to get together with another
numismatic bibliophile."


Numismatic bibliophiles, researchers and collectors of all stripes
are invited to pen an article for The Asylum, the quarterly print
journal of our sponsor, the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.  Editor
David Yoon will be away doing field work from June 18 through August
4, and it would be good to get some additional drafts for the next
issue before he leaves.

E-Sylum submissions are often a great, easy starting point for a
more complete article, particularly if you're able to provide some
accompanying illustrations.  Please consider supporting the society
that supports The E-Sylum.  I can think of four or five in this issue
alone that could become great Asylum articles.  So give it a try!
David's email address is


In April we reported the death of Canadian banknote artist Lesley
Sawyer.  Additional information about Sawyer and his work are in
an article from The Globe and Mail of Toronto:

"Leslie Sawyer was a British commercial artist who set eyes on Canada
only during brief visits until after he retired in his 60s. But he
painted some famous Canadian scenes that appeared on the back of the
country's banknotes, from the RCMP Musical Ride on the $50 bill to
Moraine Lake in Alberta on the $20.

"The Canadian notes were made for Thomas de la Rue - which is still
a huge maker of banknotes and stamps today - as part of a contract
with the Bank of Canada. Mr. Sawyer spent almost his entire working
career at Thomas de la Rue, where the first Canadian note he worked
on was a new $5 bill in the 1950s.

"There have been six issues of Canadian currency since the Bank of
Canada took charge of all banknote production in 1934. Until then,
the government and the chartered banks both issued notes. Mr. Sawyer
had a part in the design of the fourth series, which was issued from
1969 to 1979 and nicknamed the multicoloured series by collectors.

"He was a fine artist, working on scenes on the back of the
banknotes," said Mark Crickett of Thomas de la Rue...

"Leslie Sawyer was born in Epsom, a suburb of London. His father
was a carpenter and the family grew up in nearby Sutton. Young Leslie
showed a talent for drawing. Like most British children of the time
who were not headed for university, he finished school at 14 and was
apprenticed to a commercial artist.

"The war interrupted his apprenticeship and he joined the Royal Air
Force, working as ground crew. He was stationed in North Africa for
a while and the RAF enlisted his artistic talents to paint
fierce-looking shark teeth on the noses of Kittyhawk fighter aircraft.

"Along with banknotes, he designed stamps for the United Nations and
many different countries, including New Zealand, Jamaica and Gibraltar.
His title was security artist, a job held by very few people - perhaps
only 40 around the world at the time. Because of the danger of
counterfeiting, the work of a printer such as Thomas de la Rue has
to be secret. His name never appeared on any of his work."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story



British newspapers are in an uproar over the treasure salvaged
recently by Odyssey Marine:

"The treasure hunters who recovered gold and silver worth an estimated
'250million from a shipwreck off Cornwall spirited their haul to the
United States in an apparent attempt to stop Britain staking a claim.

"In a highly secretive operation, American firm Odyssey Marine
Exploration worked on the wreck of an English ship, believed to
be the 17th Century Merchant Royal, less than 40 miles from the
British coast.

"But Odyssey carefully avoided landing their treasure on UK soil.

"If the 17 tons of coins, gold ornaments and tableware had been
brought ashore, Odyssey would have been obliged to inform the
Government's Receiver of Wreck, which would probably have impounded
the haul, triggering a potentially lengthy legal row about ownership

"Instead, the trove was secretly moved to the tax haven of Gibraltar.
Odyssey then chartered a jet to take hundreds of plastic containers
brimming with coins to the United States on Thursday, where they
have been analysed by Nick Bruyer, an expert in antique coinage.

"He said: 'The find is unprecedented. I don't know of anything
equal or comparable to it.'

"Odyssey, which used remote-control submarines - known as remote
operation vehicles (ROVs) - to dive on the wreck, has remained
silent about exactly where the treasure was found, or indeed which
ship it came from."

To read the complete story, see: Full Story

Odyssey Marine Exploration issued a press release on May 21 addressing
several of the key questions asked by reporters. Here are a couple of

"We have stated clearly that the recovery was conducted in conformity
with Salvage Law and the Law of the Sea Convention, beyond the territorial
waters or legal jurisdiction of any country. We do not believe that the
recovery is subject to sovereign immunity by any nation pursuant to the
Law of the Sea Convention.

"The coins were brought into the United States with a valid export
license granted by the country from which they were exported, and
imported legally pursuant to US Law."

"We can confirm that Odyssey and the Disney organization have recently
entered into a relationship on a number of projects, and that the two
companies are in discussions relative to some new partnership

"We have immense respect for Disney and believe that a combination
of Odyssey's authentic deep-ocean adventures coupled with Disney's
story-telling, film-making, television and marketing capabilities
will reap benefits for both companies, while providing the public
with an unprecedented opportunity to enjoy the thrill of deep-ocean

Regarding last week's report on the salvage effort, Lane Brunner of
the American Numismatic Association writes: "Thanks for noting that
the ANA was contacted regarding the recent Odyssey Marine discovery

"While I was indeed interviewed, I actually did not comment on the
location of the shipwreck. The comments regarding the possible location
were made by Mitch Stacy, Associated Press reporter in Tampa, FL, who
was also being interviewed. Somehow, the BBC got us mixed up."



In a column published Wednesday by The Street, Brett Arends writes:
"The question of the day: Just how much of the $500 million sunken
treasure found in the Atlantic last weekend belongs to Democratic
presidential candidate John Edwards? ... The populist one-term senator
will get an undisclosed piece of the action from the sunken
17th-century galleon.

"The ship, laden with gold and silver, was found at the bottom of
the Atlantic by a little-known exploration company, Florida-based
Odyssey Marine Research (OMR).

"Biggest shareholder: New York-based Fortress Investments, a private
equity and hedge fund manager. Senior adviser and major investor:
John Edwards.

"Edwards' personal financial disclosures show he's an investor in
the exclusive Drawbridge Global Macro Fund, which owns the 9.9%
stake in OMR.

"Ten percent of $500 million. After costs, of course."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


On the topic of another recovered shipwreck, the Brother Jonathan,
Bob Leonard responds to my earlier review of the book "Treasure Ship"
by Dennis Powers.  He writes: "I feel well qualified to comment on
the so-called 'Brother Jonathan' bars, as I have made a study of
Western gold bars and coins and I too was in the audience, as Dennis
Powers can verify by watching his videotape once more (both speakers,
I believe, acknowledged my presence there).

"Powers should have relied less on the numismatically uninformed
Supreme Court decision of 1998 and more on the irrefutable arguments
of Prof. Buttrey regarding the authenticity of these bars.  As Buttrey
pointed out, the inscription on them is anachronistic!  The faker
carelessly used a Mint designation that did not exist at the time.

"And he should look also at p. 139 of his copy of Bowers' 'The Treasure
Ship S.S. Brother Jonathan', where an 1859 "gold brick" of the U.S.
Assay Office in New York is shown.  Another gold bar, correctly labeled
'US Branch Mint Denver 1865' is illustrated on p. 10 of The Pioneer
Western Bank: First of Denver 1860-1960 (Denver, 1984).

For that matter, ANY U.S. silver or gold bar made at any time at any
Mint or Assay Office will do, including the common San Francisco small
silver bars.  These bars all have one thing in common: an eagle is
depicted as part of the stamp.  This is because the dies for these bars
were all made in the die shop of the Philadelphia Mint.  The only
exception is the 1865-dated 'Brother Jonathan' bars, on which the
eagle is missing!

"Even more to the point is why should anyone want gold bars anyway on
a trip within the United States, or even to the west coast of Canada?
Gold bars were ordered by depositors intending to ship their dust to
Europe, where it would be reminted anyway, to minimize loss.  Within
the United States and Canada, U.S. coins were in circulation and
gigantic gold bars liable to be refused.  There was no mint in Portland
or Victoria where bars could be recoined.

"If Powers supposes that there is any chance that these 'Brother
Jonathan' bars are genuine, then he must think that everything is
what it purports to be, provided the accompanying story is sufficiently
entertaining.  I recommend that he select the subject of fakes --
documents, art, even coins -- for his next book."

[As I noted in my review, Powers did not profess to make a conclusion
on the authenticity of the disputed bars.  But the book does add to
the mix of facts and opinion on the topic, and proves that serious
numismatics can be anything but boring.  The book is a good read
for numismatists and laymen alike, and provides the best blow-by-blow
description of the "Great Debate" event short of viewing the
videotape itself.  -Editor]



Bob Knepper of Anaheim, Calif. Writes: "What, please, is the date,
publisher, and (if it exists) ISBN for the book "Deutsche
Wertpapierwasserzeichen" by Kurt Lehrke?

"I have a poor photocopy of the thirteen page appendix of pictures.
It was copied from the "W.P.C.C. Library" though I don't know that
library. The book is not listed in "Numismatic Bibliography" by


Dr Kerry Rodgers writes: "Thanks for the item in last issue of The
E-Sylum concerning the 17th century currency units mentioned in Pepys'
Diary.  Pepys is highly pertinent in 2007. This year the Dutch
celebrate the 400th anniversary the birth of Pepys' nemesis,
Lieutenant Admiral General Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter.

"Pepys worked for the English Admiralty and for over 20 years
de Ruyter would become one of the uppermost issues in Pepys' mind.
After all it was de Ruyter who kept Pepys in a job. De Ruyter's
repeated victories over the English fleet kept Pepys busy pushing
through supplies, planning reorganization of dockyards, and
urging drastic reforms of the entire English naval structure.

"When Pepys finally made to Secretary of the Admiralty he had the
temerity to recommend the promotion of long serving officers rather
than the cynical selling of commissions. And these reforms were
needed as de Ruyter, the son of a beer porter, repeatedly demonstrated.

"de Ruyter did not play a major role in the First Anglo-Dutch War
although he did best Vice Admiral George Ayscue at Plymouth. In the
Second Anglo-Dutch War he inflicted serious damage on the English
fleet at Carlisle Bay. His fleet did not escape unscathed, however,
and he was unable to go on attack New York, the former New Amsterdam,
as a prelude to liberating the New Netherlands.

"On return to the Netherlands in 1665, the Dutch Regent, Johan de Witt,
recognized de Ruyter's mettle and appointed him commander of the Dutch
fleet with the rank of Lieutenant Admiral.

"Admiral de Ruyter duly sailed forth to win probably his hardest-fought
victory over the English fleet, the Four Days Battle of June 1666.
Three months later he only narrowly escaped total rout at the St James's
Day Battle but the following year saw him make amends big time. He
seriously embarrassed the English by launching a direct attack on
England's main naval base at Chatham at the mouth to the Thames.

"Known as the Raid on the Medway it inflicted what is generally
acknowledged to be the worst English naval defeat in history.  Not
only did de Ruyter burn a large number of the English capital ships
but he towed away the fleet's flagship, HMS Royal Charles. Since 1066
only de Ruyter is the only battle commander to succeed in bearding
the English lion in its den.

"But there's more!

"When the first shots were fired in Third Anglo-Dutch War it was
De Ruyter who pulled the Dutch chestnuts out of the fire. He won
strategic victories over larger Anglo-French fleets at the Battles
of Solebay (1672), the Double Schooneveld (1673) and Texel (1673).
These actions directly averted the impending invasion of the
Netherlands. The new rank of Lieutenant Admiral General was created
especially for him by a grateful Dutch government in February 1673.

"Mind you, de Ruyter didn't play favorites. He happily bloodied the
noses of French, Swedish and Spanish admirals who came his way. He
failed to take Martinique from the French in 1675, being forced back
to Europe when disease spread throughout his ships. But in 1676 he
took command of a combined Dutch-Spanish fleet to suppress the Messina
Revolt. He fought the French at the Battle of Stromboli and again
at the Battle of Agosta but it was at the latter he was fatally
wounded with a cannonball scything off both legs.

"He had engendered considerable respect among some of his enemies.
When his body was brought back to the Netherlands, French king Louis
XIV ordered canon to be fired in salute as the Dutch fleet passed
along the French coast. A 2004 public poll for De Grootste Nederlander,
The All Time Greatest Dutchman, saw de Ruyter take seventh place.

"And for numismatics the Dutch have released two coins and half a
dozen municipal trade tokens to mark the anniversary - similar
issues to those for Rembrandt last year.

"Oddly enough, given de Ruyter's role as the savior of the United
Provinces, I can find him on only one Dutch banknote. Is this

[So... can any of our find readers locate references to Admiral
de Ruyter on Dutch banknotes?  How about coins or medals?


This week I found some time to follow numismatic pursuits.  After
work on Tuesday I met E-Sylum subscriber Hadrian Rambach in the lobby,
and we had a pleasant walk to the May meeting of the British Numismatic
Society.  Hadrian is a tall and handsomely dressed young man who was
raised in Paris, worked for three years at Spink in London, and now
represents clients buying rare gemstones and Roman coins.   An avid
numismatic bibliophile, we had corresponded often by email but had
never met.

Arriving right at the start of the meeting we signed in and quickly
grabbed chairs in the crowded and hot lecture room.  The speaker was
Donal Bateson on the topic of "William Hunter and Eighteenth-Century
Coin Collecting."  Dr. Hunter (1718-1783) was a wealthy London collector
who assembled a grand numismatic cabinet which he donated to the
University of Glasgow in Scotland.

Shortly into the lecture I was pleasantly surprised to see a familiar
face in the crowd.  Sitting a few seats over in the row in front of
me was none other than NBS Governor John W. Adams of Boston!  I think
he was as surprised to see me as I was him.  Small world, eh?  John
had been doing research at the nearby British Museum.  Seated next
to him was medal dealer and E-Sylum subscriber Christopher Eimer.
Unfortunately, due to time constraints I was unable to chat with
John - he and Chris had to make an early exit to meet their wives
for dinner.

As the meeting ended Hadrian introduced me to numismatic literature
dealer Douglas Saville, also formerly of Spinks, who put the first
glass of wine in my hand at the Sherry Social following the meeting.
Douglas couldn't stay long either, having to get home and assist his
wife who is recovering from a hand injury.  But we exchanged cards
and made plans for a visit before I leave London.

At the Social I had the opportunity to meet and talk with a number of
great people, including E-Sylum subscriber Phil Mernick and his brother
Harry. Upon stating my interest in U.S. Civil War numismatics I was
quickly introduced to David Powell, who has given talks on the subject
to a number of English societies.  We had a nice chat; David is now
an E-Sylum subscriber and provided an item for this issue on his
research into early British lead tokens.  I also enjoyed a long
conversation with Frances Simmons, who with her husband runs the
London Coin Fair (coming up on 9 June).

As the gathering dwindled Hadrian and I made our exit for dinner,
walking to a nice Greek restaurant on Coptic Street near the British
Museum.  My friend Myron Xenos of The Money Tree, who finds Greek
restaurants like a ouzo-seeking missile at every American Numismatic
Association convention, would be pleased.  The meal was marvelous,
and Hadrian and I had a great conversation about numismatics,
numismatic literature, and dozens of other interesting topics.
The taxi dropped me off at my hotel about midnight.  Many thanks
again to Hadrian and the members of the BNS for their welcoming

Hoping to find time to meet with John Adams I emailed him and Chris
Eimer before finally calling it a night.  The next morning on the
way into the office my cell phone rang - it was Chris Eimer.
Unfortunately, John Adams had a return flight to the U.S. that
morning.  But Chris invited me for lunch at his club that afternoon,
and luckily I was appropriately dressed in a suit and tie and had
no meetings over the lunch hour.  I quickly accepted.

Meeting Chris for the first time at the fountain in Piccadilly
Circus just after noon, we walked together to The Reform Club on
Pall Mall.  Formed as a political organization in the 1830's, the
gentleman's club is housed in a magnificent 1840 building with
an immense marble central hall and skylight.  I was intrigued to
learn later that Jules Verne used The Reform Club as the setting
for the launch of Phileas Fogg's journey 'Around the World in 80 Days'.

Chris and I enjoyed a nice buffet lunch in a grand room lined with
portraits of past members, including William Thackeray.  The time
passed quickly and soon I had to rush back to the office.  But we
also made plans to get together another time during my visit.  Many
thanks to Chris for his time and generosity.   Just don't tell my
wife I've been frequenting "gentleman's clubs" in London...

The rest of the week my numismatic activity was restricted to working
on The E-Sylum in the evening and culling coins from pocket change.
But a few museum visits on Saturday have some tangential numismatic

Having seen many of the London tourist highlights with coworkers the
previous weekend, I was ready to strike out on my own for some
lesser-known sites.  I decided to follow the footsteps of an earlier
American in London, Benjamin Franklin.  The house where he resided
in London is the only surviving Franklin residence in the world.
It turns out I had walked (or stumbled) right past it on a pub outing
last week.  This time I went in for a visit.

The house at 36 Craven Street was Franklin's home and an unofficial
Ambassador's residence for nearly sixteen years from 1757 to 1775,
when Franklin beat a hasty retreat to Philadelphia on the eve of war.
The house opened to the public for the first time just last summer
after a five million pound restoration effort.  As an American history
buff I was delighted and humbled to walk the same floors that Franklin
paced in those uncertain pre-Revolution years.

As a numismatist I was pleased to hear the program acknowledge his
innovations in printing paper money.  The "Benjamin Franklin House
Historical Experience" may not be for everyone, though.  I'm sure my
wife and kids would have found it dreadfully boring.  I was the only
visitor at that time, if you don't count the elderly Chicago couple
who left one-third of the way through.  The museum has no artifacts,
but an actress dressed as Polly (Franklin's landlady's daughter) guides
you through the empty rooms accompanied by an audiovisual dramatization
of events.  I enjoyed it, and most E-Sylum readers should too -- but
leave non history buffs at your hotel.

The crowds who spurned the Ben Franklin house were to be found a few
blocks away at the National Gallery.  Although I had been through there
last week, I went back to proceed at a slower pace. I noted a couple
paintings with numismatic references.

"The Tribute Money", painted by Titian about 1506-8 (and purchased by
the Gallery in 1852) illustrates Christ in Matthew 22:17-22 - "Render
unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that
are God's"

Of interest to the collector in all of us may be Parmigianino's
"Portrait of a Man", painted before 1524.  "The sitter is probably
a collector of note.  He holds a Book of Hours, while valuable
antiquities and a sculpted relief of Venus, a bronze status of Ceres,
and coins surround him."

Next door at the National Portrait Gallery's Tutor Room was a display
of ten coins titled "Early Coinage Profile Portraits".  "The
earliest face of an identifiable English ruler shown upon a coin
represents King Offa of Mercia produced in the late 8th century."
The case included silver pennies, a groat of Henry VIII and gold
sovereigns of Edward VI and Elizabeth I.

A nearby exhibit featured "Tudor and Jacobean Miniatures and Medals",
including a silver medal "celebrating the marriage of Mary Queen of
Scots and Lord Darnley July 1565...  However the following year the
couple were estranged and in 1567 Darnley was murdered."  Too many
visits to gentleman's clubs, perhaps?

The last numismatic connection I'll mention is a portrait of George
Washington by Gilbert Stuart.  This view of Washington is the basis
for the portrait on the U.S. one dollar bill.  "One of Stuart's many
replicas of his best known portrait painted in 1796.  Assuring the
impact of this portrait type, Stuart produced over seventy replicas
and the resulting income led him to refer to it as "his hundred
dollar bill'"

Despite the rain that greeted me when I left the museum, I walked
about four miles back to my hotel in Notting Hill, down Oxford
Street to Oxford Circus, past the Marble Arch and Hyde Park.  I
was damp and tired, but it had been an enjoyable day.

To read the text of David Powell's U.S. Civil War Tokens talk, see:
David Powell's U.S. Civil War Tokens

The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery:

To view Titian's Tribute Money painting, see:
Titian's Tribute Money painting

To view the Parmigianino portrait, see:
Parmigianino portrait


Our many readers who enjoy military history and numismatics may
be interested to learn about the Eldred World War II Museum, which
opened in 1996 in that isolated northwestern Pennsylvania town
(population 850) whose biggest claim to fame is being the home
of the Zippo lighter.

"'I like to tell visitors we have a world-class museum in a town
of 850 people,' Tennies says. 'When people come here, they don't
come by accident. You just don't happen to get here. This museum
is a treasure off the beaten path.'

"Inside the museum is an exhibit of original artwork featuring
cartoons of Pulitzer Prize winner Bill Mauldin, who chronicled the
lives of ordinary GIs with the characters Willie and Joe. There
also are exhibits commemorating World War II battles, an 8,000-
volume library and rare artifacts.

"Eldred was the site of a munitions factory during the war...
Tennies says Eldred was selected as the site for the factory because
the National Powder Co. already was manufacturing explosives in
McKean for the oil industry. Because Eldred was off the beaten path
and near a railroad line, the town became the perfect spot to make
explosives for the military, Tennies says.

"Tennies gives tours of the museum and loves explaining the history
depicted in the exhibits. His favorite exhibit relates to Mitchell
Paige, a lanky kid from Charleroi who went on to win the Medal of
Honor on Guadalcanal. The museum has Paige's medal, his Marine dress
white uniform and other memorabilia Paige collected from Guadalcanal
after the battle was over."

[The Medal of Honor display is the only numismatic content in the
article, but I encourage readers to follow the link and read the
rest of Paige's remarkable story. -Editor]

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

[Another story, published Thursday by the Kansas City Kansan tells
the story of William Patrick Hogarty, who was awarded the Congressional
Medal of Honor for 'distinguished gallantry in actions' at both
Antietam and Fredericksburg.

"It was a rare accomplishment: only 1,527 soldiers received the medal
for fighting in the Civil War. Since that conflict, the medal has been
awarded even less frequently. Only about 3,400 medals total have been
awarded, including just 238 in the Vietnam War, which lasted much
longer than the Civil War."

The article doesn't seem to mention what became of Hogarty's medal,
but the story of his experience in the war is remarkable. -Editor]

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Regarding an item in last week's E-Sylum, Joe Boling writes:  "As
for the Congressional medal for organ donors, certainly it would be
a Congressional medal - just like the one for the Tuskeegee Airmen.
There would be multiple recipients, but it would still be a
Congressional medal."


[I'll blame it on jet lag - I forgot to note last week that Dick
Johnson was the author of the piece on the proposed medal for organ
donors.  We'll try to fix our online archive.  -Editor]


Philip Mernick writes: "A few months ago a friend showed me some notes.
They were military issues of 1944 for use in France and had been signed
and dated during the invasion of Normandy. Could these be classified
as "short snorters"?"

[I believe the answer is yes, although many short snorters have
signatures dated over a longer period of time, chronicling a soldier
or airman's journey through the war.  If the note is signed on only
one occasion is it a short snorter or just a souvenir?  Regardless,
these notes would be fun to research - it would be interesting to
learn to stories of the signers.  See the next item for a new tool
for military research.  -Editor]


Dick Johnson writes: "If you are researching famous numismatists or
perhaps engravers you can get their military records online. And
it's free until June 6, if you hurry.

" has placed 90 million military records online as of
Thursday (May 24, 2007). The period covered is 1607 until 1975. You
do have to sign up for a free account to view any documents you find.
At the moment, however, the web site is rather slow, probably due
to heavy traffic.

"', which is owned by Generations Network, spent $3 million
to digitize the military records. It took nearly a year, including some
1,500 handwriting specialists racking up 270,000 hours to review the
oldest records,' according to the announcement."

To view's announcement, see:


Philip Mernick writes: "The front cover picture (a hare) on the
latest Morton & Eden catalogue (Ancient, Islamic etc. to be held
on June 14) might promote some discussion by E-Sylum readers under
an enquiry like Cutest coin? (I am not sure if "cute' has exactly
the same meaning in English English & American English). The Morton
& Eden web site doesn't have the front cover but does show the image
I am thinking about under lot 210, page 23 of on line catalogue.
It doesn't have quite the same impact as the large image on the
printed cover but is still 'cute'."

[The 80-page catalogue takes a while to download. The description
of lot 210 is partially quoted below.  It sure is a cute bunny rabbit.
I don't recall ever seeing this coin pictured before. -Editor]

"Abbasid, al-Mu`tazz, donative dirham, obv., in centre, within border,
a stylized bird walking left, with bulbous body, short beak and long
crest; in margin, al-Mu`tazz billah / amir al-mu`minin / a`azzahu billah,
rev., in centre, within border, a hare crouching left with flower in its
mouth; in margin, sanat arba` / wa khamsin / wa mi`atain, 3.53g (Ilisch
-), remains of mount in margin on both sides, otherwise good very
fine, toned and of the highest rarity, apparently unpublished '15,000-
20,000 See also front cover illustration.

"This remarkable piece appears to be the only known donative for
al-Mu`tazz. While representations of living things on Islamic gold and
silver coins are exceptional, the depictions of both the bird and hare
are paralleled in other media, notably ceramics and metalwork. Similar
depictions of hares are also found on a series of undated donative
issues of al-Muqtadir (Ilisch B II 1-3)."

To view the complete catalogue, see: complete catalogue


In the 25 May edition of the C.N.A. E-Bulletin of the Canadian
Numismatic Association (v3n33), editor John Regitko discussed his
discovery and research on an advertising campaign involving coins.
Excerpts from the piece appear below:

I drove to my local Tim Hortons coffee shop on Saturday evening,
May 19, parked the car and got out. I noticed a shiny coin lying
on the ground, picked it up and looked at it. It was a 2006 nickel
with a red round sticker on the obverse with the wording in yellow:
'www./5centwings/.com' on 3 lines. What's the next thing you do when
you find a coin on the ground? You look for more, admit it! I found
another 6 pieces.

I went on the Internet to see what it was all about. It took me to
the Website of St. Louis Bar and Grill (whose corporate colors are
yellow and red, just like the sticker on the nickel). It asks you
to click on the coupon to download a printable copy. The coupon states:
'Get an order of six wing pieces for only 5 cents each with the purchase
of a beverage at any St. Louis Bar and Grill location. Print coupon;
attach sticker from found nickel; and present at the St. Louis Bar
and Grill near you! Valid between May 21 and July 21, 2007. Coupon
holds no cash value. One coupon per person.?

The coupon might hold no cash value, but the nickel the sticker was
attached to has a value of 5 cents. Actually, 35 cents for me because
I walked around the parking lot to pick up all 7. Anyway, I needed
the exercise.

In view of the Dr Pepper promotion for a $1 million token, the current
Volvo promotion for a sunken treasure chest with $50,000 in gold, and
the ANA promotion where they placed stickers onto quarters, I thought
I would check it out further. I contacted Barbara Wrona, Executive
Assistant for St. Louis Franchise Limited, who forwarded my questions
to Jordanna Shtal at their advertising agency, theadlibgroup Inc.
According to their website,, they also do work
for Purina, Delta and Holiday Inn, among others. Here are the answers
to my questions about the St. Louis Bar and Grill nickel campaign.

Q. How many nickels are you scattering around?
A. On May 21st, the St. Louis Bar and Grill launched its 8-week long
nickel campaign. 100,000 nickels branded with the website were scattered randomly near each of the 21
restaurant locations across Southern Ontario.

Q. Did you place a special order directly on the Royal Canadian Mint,
or did you work through your local bank?
A. The bank branch obtained them for us.

[Regitko secured a donation of 300 stickered nickels, which will be
included in the 2007 C.N.A. Convention's Main and Coin Kids
registration kits, mounted on an explanatory card. -Editor]

"'It is not everyday that you see a web site address on a nickel.
People are going to be curious who's behind this and will visit that
site to solve the mystery,? Brent Poulton, President of St. Louis
Bar and Grill, says. Yes, it worked for me. 'Keep your eyes peeled
for nickels with red stickers at your local parks, bus stops,
community centres, and high traffic locations,' he adds."

[The ad agency may have thought it was coming up with a novel
method of generating buzz, but stickering, overprinting and
counterstamping currency for advertising purposes has a long
history.  E-Sylum subscriber Cliff Mishler has an extensive
collection of "stickered dollars" which advertised U.S. businesses
and political causes.  The removable stickers were likely a means
of following the letter of the law outlawing the counterstamping
or other alteration of U.S. coins for advertising or any other
purpose other than use in the channels of commerce.   Coincidentally,
the U.S. Mint has just come down on another promoter which violated
the law in altering U.S. coins and returning them to circulation -
see the next item.  -Editor]


This week the Associated Press reported that "A Marvel Comics hero
is giving George Washington some company on the quarter, but the
U.S. Mint doesn't think the stunt is so super.

"To promote the upcoming film 'Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver
Surfer,' 20th Century Fox and The Franklin Mint altered 40,000 U.S.
quarters to feature the character.

"The U.S. Mint said in a news release Friday that it learned of the
promotional quarter this week and advised the studio and The Franklin
Mint they were breaking the law. It is illegal to turn a coin into
an advertising vehicle, and violators can face a fine.

"The altered coins are quarters honoring the state of California that
entered circulation in 2005. They feature George Washington on the
front, as usual, but a colorized version of the character on the back.
All 40,000 are slated to be in circulation throughout the country by
the end of Memorial Day weekend, and about 800 were released in each

"Fans who find the customized quarters can enter a contest online to
win prizes and a private screening of the movie."

To read the complete Associated Press article, see:
Associated Press article

[So, has anyone found one of the altered quarters in circulation?
The article includes a picture of one.   Although the promoter professes
to be operating in the bounds of the law, there is a clear delineation
between altering coins permanently removed from circulation and
altering coins to be returned to circulation.

Stickered coins may be a grey area, but they are not permanently
altered.  And if I alter a coin and either give it or sell it as a
commemorative without returning it to commerce, that's OK.  But I
would agree with the Mint that the Silver Surfer promoters crossed
the line by returning the coins to circulation, where naturally they
would be seen by a much larger audience as they pass from hand to
hand.  -Editor]


Andrew Pollock forwarded an interesting article about a proposal
for a common North American currency modeled after the Euro:

"On Monday, Bank of Canada Gov. David Dodge told the Chicago
Council on Global Affairs that North America could one day move
toward a euro-style currency.

"Dodge's comments add to a growing list of comments from Canadian
economists, academics and government officials supporting the
idea of creating the amero as a North American common currency.

"Dodge argued a common North American currency would help buffer
the adverse effects of exchange rate fluctuations between the
Canadian dollar and the U.S. dollar.

"In October 2006, El Universal, a Mexican newspaper published in
Spanish, reported in a little-noticed article the then-president-elect
of Mexico and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in their first
meeting together shared a vision of a future North America united
under a common currency.

[The article notes that the initial concept paper on the amero was
written by economist Herbert Grubel of Canada's Frasier Institute.
Other long-time supporters of the concept are the C. D. Howe Institute
in Canada, which has published several papers co-authored by Thomas J.
Courchene of Queen's University and Richard G. Harris of Simon
Fraser University calling on Canada to pursue a North American
currency union.  -Editor]

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[The concept of a North American economic union has been around for
a while.  A web search on 'Amero' and related terms returns a number
of articles and web pages.  The upshot for numismatists, of course,
should anything of the sort come to pass in the future, is what North
American coins and banknotes would look like.  The Euro coins and
notes provide a model, with individual designs honoring the countries
making up the union, all under the common Euro currency system.  In
a sense, we have this today in the U.S. with the state quarters now
in circulation.  The states have input into the designs, but their
striking and issuance is handled by the U.S. Treasury department.

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


The second in the series of Presidential dollar coins was launched
on Tuesday in Quincy, Mass.

"Shoppers, business owners and MBTA commuters got their first up-close
look at the new John Adams dollar coin today. One Adams fan, Carlos
Caso, 21, of Randolph, had been waiting since 5 a.m.

"'It's the first coin he's ever been on. He's never gotten recognition
like this. I wanted to be the first to get one.

"Colonial Federal Savings Bank had sold more than 4,000 coins in the
first 90 minutes.

"Joe Rainville, an accountant from Quincy who collects coins, bought
225 coins.

"Barbara Gilliland, 82, a retired nurses aide, of North Quincy bought
50 coins to send to friends in other Quincy namesakes across the
country, in Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and California.

"She said she started visiting the cities after Quincy, Mass., sent
flood assistance to Quincy, Ill., in 1993.

"Five days after the U.S. Mint officially released the new coin -
the first ever to bear the second president's image - Mint director
Edmund C. Moy and descendant Peter Boylston Adams joined city officials
to give the coin a full, ceremonial launch in Adams' hometown, with
exchanges for paper dollars and other activities."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[History buffs might like to know that the life of John Adams will
be the subject of a new HBO miniseries based on David McCullough's
recent book:

"David McCullough knows better than almost anyone what John and
Abigail Adams' 18th century world looked like.

"Having spent seven years researching and writing his Pulitzer
Prize-winning biography of the second president, he says an upcoming
HBO miniseries will be as close as it gets to the real thing.

"People who watch this are going to see the 18th century as it
was in more ways than they've seen it before,'? said McCullough, a
consultant to the seven-part, $100 million production. '?They're
going to see people with bad teeth. It's not a costume pageant.'?

"Based on McCullough's 2001 book and created by actor Tom Hanks?
Playtone Productions, the series stars Academy Award and Golden
Globe Award nominees Paul Giamatti as the nation's second president
and Laura Linney as Abigail. It is scheduled to air a year from now."

"The HBO miniseries is being shot mostly in Colonial Williamsburg
and other Virginia sites. Giamatti is known for roles in 'The
Illusionist, "Cinderella Man"? and the critically acclaimed
"Sideways," among many others. Linney earned nominations for
"Kinsey" and "The Squid and the Whale."

"The HBO version of 'John Adams' traces the first 50 years of
the United States, from the Revolutionary War through Adams'
death, with John and Abigail's love story as part of the drama."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


I asked Joel Iskowitz, designer of the John Adams dollar obverse,
to share his thoughts on the John Adams dollar ceremony.  He writes:

"As an artist, illustrator and designer, being present at the John
Adams dollar coin launch ceremony was literally a dream come true
for many reasons. First and foremost, I consider myself to be a
narrative artist, meaning that I interpret my task to be 'Tell the
story'. To my mind, art is about more than just the inner recesses
of the artist's imagination or personal esthetic statement.  For
me, artwork that adds something to understanding or edification of
the viewer is most worthwhile. Art that speaks to the public and
fulfills its mission to educate or heighten awareness and
appreciation is what it's all about for me.

"Having the great honor of my interpretation of Adams' likeness
(based on John Trumbull's painting in the National Portrait Gallery
and masterfully sculpted by Charles Vickers of the U.S. Mint) selected
to be the rekindled image of our second president becomes for me, a
chance to add my voice to a dialogue that was begun in this nation's

"Moreover, although I take great satisfaction and pride in knowing
my role in this, I fully understand that with the issuance of the
coin itself, it now truly belongs to everyone.

"So to witness its launch into general circulation was to step back
and witness the team effort soar off to it's own destiny.  Among many
memorable experiences that day, there are three that stand out and
I will cherish forever.

"The first was seeing the enthusiasm of the school children and their
eager embrace of this little piece of history, knowing that it will
open many portals of learning for them as the Presidential series

"The second was listening to the poetic and stirring comments of
Peter Boylston Adams (a seventh generation descendant of John and
Abigail), both in his public remarks and the conversation I had with
him after the ceremony.  We share a profound admiration of this
'Titan of Independence' (as Jefferson named him).  Adams was an
erudite man of deep principle, with the courage of his convictions.

"To hear once again how this ambitious lawyer risked his career to
defend the British soldiers of the 'Boston Massacre' further enhanced
the joy of seeing President Adams finally receive his place of honor
on our coinage.

"Another aspect of Adam's character that seemed to reveal itself more
clearly in Quincy was that he set the archetype for the Presidents who
were not aristocrats or war heroes such as George Washington. His was
another type of greatness, born of hard work, study, scholarship and

"Third was the trolley tour of the Adams National park, where my wife
and I were treated to a very informative guided journey through the
generations of this great family's history in what is now named Quincy.
This served to bring the man, his strivings, his character and place
in history to life, much the way David McCullough's biography had done,
but with tangible immediacy and intimacy.

"All in all, for an artist who wishes to tell an important story and
for his art to be part of the permanent public record, this day will
be cherished as long as I live.

"One last impression - John Adams spoke of how he wished that our
Independence Day celebrations should be filled with music and parades
and sports and fireworks etc. This sunny day had everything to make
President Adams smile with delight."

[Many thanks to Joel for sharing his thoughts with us.   The Bank
of England stubbornly refuses to release any of the Adams dollars,
so I'll have to wait for my visit back to the states next weekend
to look for one of the new coins.  -Editor]


British television has its own special flavour, and this week I
happened to catch a BBC "reality show" with a special appeal for
bibliophiles.  Following the typical forced-suspense format of a
nervous moment of judgment before a panel of stern experts, new
candidates for the earliest documented use of an English word or
phrase are vetted before the editors of the venerable Oxford English
Dictionary.  The Balderdash & Piffle show's web site invites readers
to scour archives looking for evidence predating that cited in the

To attract a larger audience, the chosen words or phrases are rather
common and often very recent.  One segment covered the use of "domestic"
by police in reference to a violent family spat.  Another covered the
euphemisms of war such as "collateral damage" and "regime change".
And in the spirit of the lowest common denominator of humanity,
another segment covered euphemisms for urination and defecation.

For example, the earliest known printed use of "Loo" in reference to
the place where one goes to take care of such matters, was found in a
1940 novel.

"The story Sir Steven Runciman recounts places the origin of loo in
the 1860s; yet despite the best efforts of Wordhunters and the OED,
we still cannot be sure that anyone ever actually used the word until
the beginning of the Second World War, more than 80 years later.
Granted, what we are dealing with is a colloquial euphemism on a
sensitive subject which is unlikely to have made it into the Times,
Victorian sensibilities being what they were. Still, it is a leap
of faith we cannot make to take it on trust that any word existed
in English for the best part of a century on the basis of no
evidence at all."

To learn more about the Balderdash & Piffle show, see:
Balderdash & Piffle show


Speaking of phrase origins and meaning, here's a numismatic quiz.
When used in euphemistic terms, what does the phrase "Spend a Penny"
mean, and how did it first arise?  Hint: it's primarily a British
term, so extra credit for any yank who can tell us the answer.  I
hadn't heard it before.


Following up on an earlier E-Sylum item, here is an update on
commemorative coins being struck on an old Carson City Mint coin

"'Awesome' is the first word City Manager Dan Newell thinks of
when reflecting on last Saturday's Main Street City of Yerington
centennial celebration,

"The long-planned event, from last Friday's dinner and silent
auction to Saturday night's firework finale, the City of Yerington
could not have been privy to a finer 100th birthday.

"The City sold all but about 12 of the available gold Centennial
coins, of which there will only be 250 minted overall. Of the silver,
all but about 10 of an available 550 were sold while all available
copper coins were sold. Newell said the Carson City Mint will soon
produce the remaining 50 gold count, the remaining 450 silver count
and will produce the copper coin indefinitely. He said hopes are
these will be available within the next month."

To read the complete story, see: Full Story



Coins can kill.  Doctors in India saved the life of a child by
removing 11 coins from her throat.  But did the child swallow
them willingly?

"According Dr. Darad, the procedure was difficult and risky.
'The throat has the windpipe and food pipe close by. The food pipe
was already long chocked with coins which seemed to have been forcibly
inserted in the child's throat right from her birth till she was two
and half months. We could successfully remove 10 coins, had to abandon
the procedure as the child was no longer in a position to bear it.
Luckily, the eleventh coin came out on its own when the baby coughed,'?
Darad said, adding that since this was a rare case possibly in the
world, they were preparing a full report to be published in a medical

"The presence of 11 coins in the throat of the child continues to be
a mystery for the treating team of doctors as well as the police.
'The victim's mother, Jillubai, pleaded total ignorance in the matter."

"But on further probe, a panchayat functionary of Suthari village,
pleading anonymity, said that the innocent, poor and illiterate Jilubai
had already lost her seven children in a mysterious way. The killer is
in the family and reason for this is that someone in the family did not
want any child of Jilubai to survive to inherit the family property,
he said. 'There are illicit relations among the conspirators in the
family. This is a well-known fact in the village. The police could
easily nab the culprit if they seriously investigate the case,'? the
source said.

"Meanwhile, sources said that Saniya, after removal of coins from
her throat, lead a normal life."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


On May 22 The Paris News of Paris, Texas published a story about
a couple who made an interesting discovery along and old railroad

"It was a trip in the country to pick up firewood for a cook-out,
but it turned into much, much more.

"Russell and Rennie Herron stopped their pickup along the pathway
of an old railroad line just outside of Roxton to pick up some
loose limbs.

"'As I moved the limbs, I saw it,' Russell said. 'I yelled to my
wife to come over and look, and she said: 'Oh no, is it a body'?

[The couple discovered an unopened box containing 500 one-ounce
silver bullion pieces dated 1996.  They reported their find to
the local Sheriff's Office, which said they would forward the coins
to the Secret Service; I'm not sure why they chose the Secret Service
over the U.S. Postal Service. -Editor]

To read the complete article (registration required), see: Full Story


A newspaper in Kent, England reported the discovery of an old coin
with an interesting "love token" style engraving.

"A coin more than 100 old years contains possibly the smallest view
of Tunbridge Wells ever created.

"The coin was found during building work at a farm near Goudhurst
and is now with Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery.

"The Victorian silver sixpence is just three-quarters of inch across
and had been made into a pendant.

"One side has been ground smooth and engraved with a miniature view
of the Pantiles as seen from the square in front of the Bath House.

"Experts say the work is skilfully done, and looks like the work of
a professional engraver with a set of tools to create different
effects - like the texture of the foliage of the row of lime trees
along the edge of the Upper Walk.

"Although the coin's date would have been on the side that has been
erased, from the style of the Queen's head on the other side it can
be dated from between 1893 and 1901."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

"The pretty colonnaded walkway known as the Pantiles has become
probably the most well known view of Royal Tunbridge Wells. Once
the playground of the gentry and royalty, the Pantiles remains a
pleasant place to browse, shop, eat and drink and stroll.

"The Pantiles and Tunbridge Wells itself, owe their beginnings to
the discovery of the Chalybeate Spring in the early 17th century
and the popularity of the spa water amongst the gentry and royalty
of Georgian England. As Tunbridge Wells grew in popularity as a spa
resort, so did the area surrounding the Spring - eventually leading
to the building of the colonnaded walkway in the 18th century,
later known as The Pantiles."

For more information on the Pantiles and Tunbridge Wells, see:
Pantiles and Tunbridge Wells


David Powell has been organizing research efforts around a number
of obscure early lead British tokens.  As he discussed with me at
the May meeting of the British Numismatic Society, metal-detecting
hobbyists are discovering more and more of these in their digs.
Acting as a bridge between the worlds of metal detecting and
numismatics, David has been bringing the two groups together to
learn about and classify the often enigmatic issues.  To this end
he publishes the Leaden Token Telegraph newsletters highlighting
new finds and research.

He writes: "My newsletters are on; note that
the site also contains a bibliography and index.  I have a write-up
of an earlier version of my club talk on the subject, plus a further
article on Communion Tokens, which are an allied subject since so
many of them are lead.

"The Lead Token article, particularly Sect.8, describes the
classification system which I have been trying to develop, although
I need to update it in the light of recent developments and discoveries.
The articles on each of the 32 types in LTT {see index for details}
are more detailed; I need to bring them together and summarise.  If
anyone wants to email me on the subject (at the address mentioned at
the top of the newsletters), I shall be delighted to hear from them.

"The British Token Corresponding Society (TCS) has a website where
there are links to articles on these and other subjects.  These are
briefer, with the intention of establishing interest and making
ourselves known to the outside world.  In addition to the three
subjects already mentioned, I have also put something together for
the TCS site on lead tesserae."

Leaden Tokens Telegraph homepage:
Leaden Tokens Telegraph
David Powell's Lead Token article:
David Powell's Lead Token article

David Powell's Communion Token article:
David Powell's Communion Token article

British Token Corresponding Society:
British Token Corresponding Society


My chat with Harry Mernicks at the British Numismatic Society meeting
turned to the topic of the large quantity of silver used in The
Manhattan Project which created the first nuclear weapon.  Harry
had seen a reference to this and wondered if it were actually silver
coins that had been melted for the project.   As often happens, I
discovered that we had touched on the topic in an earlier E-Sylum.


But the E-Sylum item doesn't settle the issue of whether coins were
actually involved.  I checked the Internet for other sources and
learned a few more details.

"Huge amounts of material had to be obtained (38 million board feet
of lumber, for instance), and the magnets needed so much copper for
windings that the Army had to borrow almost 15,000 tons of silver
bullion from the United States Treasury to fabricate into strips and
wind on to coils as a substitute for copper.31 Treasury silver was
also used to manufacture the busbars that ran around the top of the
Full Story

"The first shipment of silver bullion was made from the West Point
Bullion Depository in October 1942 to the Defense Plant Corporation
at Carteret, N.J. There the silver bars were reformed as cylindrical
billets. Then came another secret trip, this time across New Jersey
to the Phelps Dodge copper plant at Bayway, where the billets were
rolled into strips 5/8 of an inch thick, 3 inches wide and 40 feet
long. A third stage to the journey sent the newly-rolled strips to
Milwaukee, where the Allis Chalmers Company wound them with wooden
insulation around giant steel spools and encased them in another
steel unit. The completed units, resembling 19-square-foot doughnuts,
were then shipped to the Y-12 Plant.
Full Story

[These documents give confirmation that large quantities of silver
from the U.S. Treasury were used in the Manhattan Project. They state
that the silver was shipped in bar form, but make no mention of coins.
Would coins have been melted to create the bars?  Well, I doubt it -
these bars probably came from strategic stockpiles.  Has anyone ever
comes across a reference to this silver transfer in government
records?   Any indication that coins were actually involved?

Found while looking for other things: a Manhattan Project silver lapel pin:
Manhattan Project silver lapel pin


Here's a recent jokes from the The Good, Clean Funnies mailing list:

"Mrs. Golden was shopping at a produce stand in her neighborhood.
She approached the vendor and asked, 'How much are these oranges?'

"'Two for a quarter,' answered the vendor.

"'How much is just one?' she asked.

"'Fifteen cents,' answered the vendor.

"'Then I'll take the other one,' said Mrs. Golden."

To print or email this funny to others, go to


This week's featured web site is about the awarding of the Franklin
Institute's Benjamin Franklin Medal to physicist Albert Einstein:

"On Wednesday, May 15, 1935 Albert Einstein received the Benjamin Franklin
Medal in a ceremony. It was awarded in recognition of his fundamental
contributions to theoretical physics; especially for his theories of
relativity and his work on the photoelectric effect.

"The Franklin Medal is one of the highest awards of the Franklin Institute.
It was and still is awarded for special performance in the field of science
and the arts."

Featured Web Site

  Wayne Homren
  Numismatic Bibliomania Society 

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

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