The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 10, Number 24, June 17, 2007:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2007, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Phil Mussell of Token Publishing,
Michael Reed, and Kwame Bandele. Welcome aboard!  We now have 1,131

Happy Father's Day, U.S. Dads!  This week we open with announcements of
NBS events planned for this summer's ANA convention and David Fanning's
sixth fixed price list of numismatic literature.  David Lange reports
that his new book on Coin Collecting Boards is complete and awaiting
printing.  In the research department, we continue our discussion on
microfilmed numismatic periodicals, and Dave Ginsburg gives us an
update on the numismatic periodicals available on the Internet.
Dick Johnson provides his tips for numismatists doing archival
research, and Ed Snible and Harry Waterson discuss the ins and outs
of publisher and writer-for-hire copyrights.

In the news, a rare and probably unique architect's painting of the
second U.S. Mint in Philadelphia has sold at auction, and the Jacob
Perkins mint building moves one step closer to becoming a museum.
Also, my London Diary resumes this week in two parts.

Other topics include a New York artist's elaborate "Dream Dollars",
a Hawaiian man's recreation of Hawaiian banknotes, chemistry-based
anti-counterfeiting solutions, and an article on African-American
connections to numismatics.  To learn about the rare and mystical
banknotes of the lost colony of Nadiria, read on. Have a great
week, everyone.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


NBS President Pete Smith reports that "The NBS Symposium will be
Thursday, August 9, 11:30 A.M. at the American Numismatic Association
convention in Milwaukee, WI. Our first speaker will be John Adams
with his topic, 'How Comitia Americana Came To Be - a New Way to
Make a Book.' This will be followed by Harold Welch speaking on
'British Token Literature - Putting Together the Pieces of the Puzzle.'
The NBS General Meeting will be on Friday, August 10, at 11:30.
Featured speakers will be Len Augsburger and Joel Orosz on Frank
Stewart and artwork of the First U.S. Mint. We will also have a
benefit auction at the meeting. NBS members and visitors are
invited to attend."

[What a great lineup!  The events at the ANA convention are the one
time a year that so many Numismatic Bibliomania Society members and
friends have a chance to meet and mingle.  I hope many of our members
and E-Sylum subscribers will be in attendance.  -Editor]


David F. Fanning has published his sixth Fixed Price List of numismatic
literature.  He writes: "The 40-page list includes a wide variety of
items of interest to numismatists, including books, auction catalogues
and periodicals, ranging from a few dollars to a few hundred and from
1815 to 2007. Illustrated in color, the list gives detailed information
on each item. Highlights include both binding variants of the original
1870 Vermont Historical Society publication of Slafter on the Vermont
coinage; manuscript documents from the 1830s and 1840s relating to Ohio
currency and banking history; a rare Lafayette medal issued by 19th-
century numismatist S.K. Harzfeld as part of "Harzfeld's Series";
Henry Bronson's 1865 "Historical Account of Connecticut Currency,
Continental Money, and the Finances of the Revolution"; Volumes 1 and
2 of The American Stamp Mercury and Numismatist (1867-1869); a
fascinating photograph taken in conjunction with a Tom Elder sale,
featuring many prominent numismatists; and many other publications
and historical items. The Fixed Price List can be downloaded in PDF
form from the Fanning Books Web site at 
or requested via e-mail from David Fanning at .

[David has a readable, informative cataloguing style, and his price
lists are valuable for numismatic bibliophiles.  I've purchased some
true rarities from earlier lists.  Below are excerpts from just a
couple of the entries. -Editor]

44. [Elder, Thomas]. Professional reprint photograph of a banquet
held by Elder following an early auction sale (probably 1911, see
comments)...  Among those present are: Dr. J.M. Henderson, Farran
Zerbe, Howard R. Newcomb, Mint Curator T. Louis Comparette, W.H.
Woodin, Howland Wood, Edgar H. Adams, H. Russell Browne, Joseph C.
Mitchelson, Henry Chapman, Elmer Sears, H.O. Granberg and others.

87. The Magazine Antiques. Vol. 39, No. 2 (February 1941). This
issue contains an important article on “The Frossard Collection of
Drawings Attributed to John Trumbull,” ... As discussed by John Adams
in his classic United States Numismatic Literature, Volume One, 19th-
century numismatist Ed. Frossard sold at auction and fixed price a
collection he owned of early drawings said to be the work of
Revolutionary-era artist John Trumbull in 1894 and 1896. Many, if
not all, of these have turned out to be fabrications, and the Morgan
article included in this issue of Antiques is an important article
on the subject. Whether or not Frossard knew the works were not
genuine has been the subject of some debate.

David F. Fanning web site: David F. Fanning

Fanning Fixed Price List No. 6: Fanning Fixed Price


David Lange writes: "My coin board book has been completed, and I've
updated my website to include sample pages (see link below). The actual
title is 'Coin Collecting Boards of the 1930s & 1940s: A Complete
History, Catalog and Value Guide.'

"I'm absolutely delighted with the completed work. The book's design
is by Mary Jo Meade, who did such a great job with my U.S. Mint history
book. This time, however, she got to work with color. In fact, there
are 62 color pages out of total of 220.

"I've thoroughly researched the companies and people who produced
these vintage coin boards, so there's a lot of meaty stuff for people
who like to read about the hobby's history. Most of the people in the
coin board business were not in the mainstream of numismatics, so there
will be a lot of new discoveries for readers, though with just enough
familiar names to put everything in context.

"I'm still shopping around for a printer, so I'm unable to announce
the book's selling price at this time. I hope to have that matter
resolved in a week or two. In the meantime, I'll have a working copy
of my book at next week's Baltimore show. Anyone who'd like to have
a preview is welcome to see me at the NGC table."

[This is great news.  Dave's book will fill a wide void in the literature
of the numismatic hobby in the U.S.  I'm another one of the children
who grew up pushing coins into holes in Whitman coin folders.  They hold
great memories for me, and I still have them in my collection.  -Editor]


David Ganz writes: "I recently did some online research to see if
microfilm or microfiche of Coin World and Numismatic News was available
and could no longer find University Microfilms which used to do it. Do
you have any addresses or web sites I can contact? I have sets going
back to the 1970s and it is frankly overwhelming. I have bound versions
of 1969 to 1975 or 76 (of Numismatic News, anyway) when I wrote more
actively. The rest is boxed."

[I asked Dan Freidus, who writes: "University Microfilms (UMI) became
Proquest, which spun off most of their microfilm business a few years
ago. The new company is National Archive Publishing.  They do sell
Coin World on microfilm and microfiche (as well as Coinage, Coins,
and Numismatic Scrapbook), but not Numismatic News.  Alas, the prices
seem to work out to around 8 cents per page, so even buying a single
year probably only makes sense for a library."

Dan adds: "I did a bit of searching in library and vendor databases.
It appears that Numismatic News has not been published on microfilm
but that the Library of Congress did microfilm their set.  I don’t
know if there is any way to get a copy of their film made."

John Meissner adds: "The American Numismatic Association could use a
complete set of Coin World microfilms, as well as a microfilm reader
- currently any microfilms available at the ANA have to be taken to
Colorado College or the Colorado Springs city library down the street
to be viewed."

Many thanks John and Dave for raising the topic, and to Dan for
his assistance.  This is good for researchers to know. -Editor]

National Archive Publishing Company web site:
National Archive Publishing Company

National Archive Publishing Company product catalog:
National Archive Publishing Company Catalog


Dave Ginsburg writes: "I happened to be searching for something else
on the Internet and found (isn't that always the way) that Google Book
Search has digitized copies of at least some of the US Serial Set and
Hunt's Merchants Magazine, Bankers' Magazine, etc. as well as some
great secondary sources (Hepburn's History of Currency, Dewey's
Financial History of the United States, Laughlin's History of
Bimetallism, etc.).

"While the books are easy to find (you can search by Author and Title),
finding the periodicals is pretty tough - they're in bound editions,
but I haven't yet figured out how to find quickly entire holdings of
particular periodicals.  As for the Serial Set documents - searching
for them is very hit-or-miss, so far.  At least the Library access I
have now lets me easily find the entire run of the periodicals and
lets me search the Serial Set in an organized way.  The books are
available in single PDF files, so one could print out copies, if
one wished to."


Earlier Bob Knepper asked about the book "Deutsche Wertpapierwasserzeichen"
by Kurt Lehrke."

Ralf W. Boepple of Stuttgart, Germany writes: "The booklet is authored
by Dr. Arnold Keller and Kurt Lehrke. Dr. Keller wrote the first part,
and Lehrke added the appendix, which seems to be the copy Bob Knepper
has. The booklet was self-published in Berlin in 1955, 71pp, and does
not have an ISIN."



Dick Johnson writes: "This October there will be a nationwide
celebration of American archives. Here in Connecticut the State
Archivist, Walter Woodward, is asking all organizations that have
archive files to send him a summary so he can post on his blogsite  State Archivist Mark Jones is asking these
organizations to contact him at to coordinate
these activities. Perhaps your state has similar plans.

"There is a wealth of numismatic material buried in archives around
America. It remains for numismatists with a curiosity, honesty (and
a lot of time!) to ferret out this information. Archivists want to
assist you but will not do the work for you. You must physically
visit the archives, museum, library, historical society or whatever
and be prepared to dig for yourself.

"I have learned a lot of tips in my years of document digging.
Perhaps it would be useful to list my Top Ten Tips with the hope
this will inspire fellow numismatists to research some topic of
great interest to them (and with the hope of article or book

(1) Do your homework ahead of time. Learn as much as possible about
the subject you will research. Review this shortly before your visit
so this information is fresh in your mind. This will save you time
so you won't have to search your notes instead of their documents
on site.

(2) Prepare a list of people, events and dates and keep this handy.
If any records are digital, prepare a list of all possible keywords.

(3) Plan ahead. Contact the archivist by letter, phone or email. Be
brief and specific in your request. In a follow-up letter list your
credentials -- they have every right to check you out. Give dates
you plan to visit (but don't be dissatisfied if you are not
accommodated right away -- it took me 18 months to get into the
Tiffany & Co archives).

(4) Often the material you want to see is stored offsite, or may
require some time to bring to the work area. Work with the archivist
to ask for only the amount of material that can be easily examined
in one day. Don't request so much material that you won't have time
to examine it all.

(5)  Ask for a 'finding aid.'  Most archives have these. Some are
even on the internet so you have access to these in advance. For
some (like for the National Archives), this is a bound book.

(6)  Bring a photo ID.  Most archives require these and will
photocopy it.

(7)  Team up with a fellow numismatist. Most archives will allow
two people to work together. Two heads are better than one and often
provide insight to a research problem at the time it comes up.  (I
teamed up with minting expert Craig Sholley to visit the Pennsylvania
state archives and author Katie Jaeger to visit Tiffany & Co

(8)  Abide by the archive's rules. Expect these. Most will require
you to wear those darn white gloves as you handle anything. (I have
one idiosyncrasy -- I wear a white condom glove on my left hand and
handle everything one-handed while I write notes with my right hand.
If I need both hands I have to turn on the tape recorder.)

(9)  Leave your pens at home. No ink pens or ballpoint pens allowed,
or anything else that might damage a piece of paper.

(10)  Don't wait to the last half hour before closing time to order
your photocopies if the staff does these. Expect some archives to do
these after you leave and will mail these to you, or pick up at your
next visit.

"Please, some of you other researchers -- like Roger Burdette --
what archive tips have you?"


An article in the July 2007 Maine Antique Digest describes highlights
of an auction sale held by Freeman’s, America’s oldest auction house,
in Philadelphia in April.  Included in the auction was a rare painting
of the second United States Mint building in Philadelphia by architect
William Strickland.

"This unsigned, unframed watercolor of the second United States Mint
at the corner of Chestnut and Juniper Streets in Philadelphia was
attributed to William Strickland. The Greek Revival second U.S. Mint,
designed by William Strickland, was opened in 1833 and demolished
in 1907. The design was so successful, Strickland was commissioned
to design mints in New Orleans and in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Estimated at $1000/2000, it sold for $8365 to a collector/dealer
in the salesroom."

To view an image of the painting, see:
Image of Painting

To read the complete Maine Antique Digest article, see:
Full Story


Stefano Poddi writes: "I am a new subscriber to The E-Sylum, and I
would be happy to communicate with other Italian collectors."

[We do not give out subscriber email addresses without permission,
but any of our subscribers living in Italy are welcome to email me
and I will forward their notes to Stefano.  My address is  -Editor]


Know a teacher?  Encourage them to attend the American Numismatic
Association's "Coins in the Classroom" program. The following is from
an ANA press release:

"Now, teachers can learn to incorporate coins and paper money into
lessons by taking the course June 30-July 6 during the American
Numismatic Association's Summer Seminar in Colorado Springs. If you
know a teacher, spread the word about this valuable learning tool.

"Math, social studies, language arts and economics teachers across
the country can attest to Coins in the Classroom's effectiveness.

"One is eighth-grade math teacher Margaret Reed, of Brazosport
Independent School District in Texas. After taking Coins in the
Classroom during last year's Summer Seminar, Reed began using coins
as a springboard for lessons on the history of mathematics,
percentages and more.

"Contact Rod Gillis at 719-482-9845 or e-mail"


In response to Larry Gaye's copyright question, Ed Snible writes:
"A publisher going out of business doesn't give you any extra legal
rights to reproduce works.  The publisher probably wasn't the
copyright holder.  Even if the publisher did own the copyright, it
would have transferred to a creditor during bankruptcy, not to the
public domain.

"Many of Argonaut's books were themselves reprints.  It is possible
the chart you wish to reproduce is already in the public domain, or
is substantially similar to an old chart.  If the book is an unchanged
reprint from a book before 1922, you can use it without getting

"Chris Hopkins' site reproduces some Greek letter tables from coin
books.  You might be able to contact the author for permission.  You might also be able to
use one of the charts Chris has made to show off his font.

"I am working on a chart.  Some of my links no longer
work. .

"If you want lower case, the site has many books on
learning Ancient greek, all free and freely reusable.  Most language
books start with a table of the Greek alphabet."

Harry Waterson writes: "Copyrights do not always stick to the writer.
There is also the 'Writer For Hire' who is given a writing assignment
by a producer/publisher and is paid a fee and maybe a royalty for his
services. Here the copyright sticks to the company and not the writer.
This is part of the puzzle that the Writers Guild of America is trying
to address in their upcoming negotiations.

"TV and Film writers do not own their copyrights so any compensation
for residual uses has to be negotiated. There is also a fairly
complicated Reversion clause or two in the WGA agreement that
returns ownership of a script to the writer after a period of time
and lack of production. If you know a Film Writer you might ask
him about the charms of having a script 'In Turnaround'.

"The best reversion story I know comes out of the Dramatist's Guild.
'Norman, Is That You?' was produced on Broadway by Saint Subber. It
ran for 19 performances. Had it run for 21 performances, all rights
to the play would have vested in the production company and the
investors. Since it only ran 19, the rights to the property reverted
back to the writers and they went on to see a movie made of the play
and to see the play become one of the most produced plays in the
Samuel French catalog. It is playing somewhere in the country every
day of the year. I believe the writers send the investors a Christmas
card every year.

"I once sought the stage rights to a book by Paul Gallico. I had a
search done and discovered that there was a German publisher who
maintained that Gallico had written the book as a Writer For Hire
and was just waiting in the wings for someone to do something with
the property. I could not get insurance with this impediment so the
impetus to my project languished.

"I recently heard that the Gallico Estate has sold the stage rights
of the book to be developed as a musical. I hope the German publisher
has gone out of business.  The book is 'The Man Who Was Magic'
published in 1966. Paramount had the rights for years. This musical
version will have book by Rupert Holmes, music by Michel Legrand
and lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman. I can't wait to see it.
And read the copyright info in the program."

[The copyright code does describe this situation but I didn't excerpt
it for The E-Sylum.  Thanks for the real-world background.  And
speaking of backgrounds, it never ceases to amaze me that our
E-Sylum readers come from such varied places and backgrounds.



Dan Hamelberg writes: "Just when I was going to find some time to do
some library duties, Patrick McMahon brought up some new Von Bergen
points, and my curiosity got the best of me.  My 1913 Von Bergen
"The Encyclopedia of Rare Coins, Stamps, Old Books, Paper Money"
has a 196 Chestnut Ave., Boston, Mass., address.  Also, the back
inside page lists a few other U.S. dealers as contacts, including
The Anderson Auction Co. in New York, and the Philadelphia Stamp Co.
There has been a shake up of the foreign dealers listed, with the
addition of contacts in Amsterdam, Holland, and Yokohoma, Japan.
The dealers in Leipzig and Hamburg have been deleted.

"I have a hardbound copy with C.N. Caspar Co., Milwaukee, Wis. on
the cover.  My copy is a navy blue with pink lettering.  Inside,
the blue covers are missing, but everything else is in intact and
matches up with the one described by Mr. McMahon.   The interior
title page that is headed 'The Rare Coin Encyclopedia.  Copyright
1901, By Wm. Von Bergen' has a sticker pasted in at the bottom of
the page.  It reads 'For Sale at and Trade Supplied by C.N. Caspar
Co., Book Emporium, 454 East Water St., One Door South of St.
Charles Hotel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.'

"It looks like C. N. Caspar was a book store operation that sold
the Von Bergen Rare Coin Encyclopedia. I would guess that Caspar
purchased the books in quantity unbound, and then had them bound
up (in different colors) with their logo.  Of course I would imagine
that it would be possible that Von Bergen had the books bound for
Caspar if it would have created a nice profit - another question
to be answered.

"I stand corrected regarding the fixed price lists for Von Bergen.
The lists were contained in the Encyclopedias.  Mr. McMahon references
a list starting on page 130 of his edition. If I had found the time
at the time to look closer, I would have probably discovered the list.
I need a 36 hour day.

"I also have a 5th, 7th and 8th edition of the 1901 copyright date.
The fixed price lists start on page 119 in the three editions.  The
dealer page is the same as the 9th edition.  The 8th edition FPL page
is undated (as the 9th edition), but the 5th and 7th editions have a
September 1, 1903 date printed above the sentence that states 'This
price list annuls all previous ones.'  The coins listed in all four
editions are the same.  The prices listed in the 9th edition are
higher.  So it would seem that the 9th edition would have been
released sometime after September 1, 1903.  The 5th, 7th and 8th
editions also carry the number 896 in the front and back as Mr.
McMahon pointed out for his 9th edition.

"I have another Encyclopedia with a copyright date of 1901.  No
edition number is present, but the back inside page makes a reference
to number 896.  The inside front cover states 'The Rare Coin Encyclopedia
is now published instead of The Rare Coins of America which book is
now out of print and all the Quotations cancelled.'  The FPL does not
contain as many choices as the other editions listed above, but the
prices for those coins listed are the same as the 5th, 7th and 8th
editions.  The dealers listed are the same as all 4 editions listed
above. This copy must be the transition edition between title changes.

"So now we have more questions about Von Bergen.  It appears that
his numbering system for his catalogs was a bit erratic - some with
dates, some not.  Thanks for your comments, Patrick.  Now back to
the library duties..."


Last week Ed Snible asked: "Perhaps E-Sylum readers can help me
locate the name and origin of a typographic symbol meaning 'coin
reverse'. The symbol usually looks like mismatched parenthesis: )("

[Well, we've not had a response from anyone as of yet.  It's not
often that E-Sylum readers are stumped by a question on numismatic
literature, but so far we're at a dead end.  Here's a follow-up Ed
wrote in his blog this week:

"This week's E-Sylum covered my quest to discover the name and
origin of the )( symbol. I'd hoped an E-Sylum reader would just
know, but none have contacted me yet.

"Catalogue of the Greek and Roman Coins in the Numismatic Collection
of Yale College, published in 1880 by Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor of
New Haven Connecticut, makes heavy use of the symbol. The
Abbreviations section says that )( is an abbreviation for 'reverse.'

"This is the only American usage that I know of. No explanation.

"The Abbreviations section includes three other symbols, the
ligatures for AV, AR, and AE. The AE ligature is well-supported
on computers. It has its own code in Unicode.

"There are no Unicode characters for the AV and AR ligatures. They
are considered typographic concepts, not letter concepts. For
numismatics, that might not be true. Authors might want to use the
AV and AR symbols to indicate coin metals, but wouldn't want a
font that joined 'AR' or 'AV' in the middle of capitalized word.

"The Medieval Unicode Font Initiative folks are proposing an AV
ligature character. No one is talking about an AR ligature character."

At George Kolbe's suggestion I contacted Kerry Wetterstrom, editor/
publisher of The Celator.  He writes: "I read Ed's original question
in The E-Sylum, and I have never seen )( as a symbol for 'coin reverse.'
I have seen just a forward slash used / to differentiate between the
obverse and reverse descriptions in a catalogue (usually dealer lists,
etc.), but the opposing parenthesis marks are new to me.

"Based on its usage in an 1880 catalogue, it may have been unique to
the catalogue and its author. Even today, we see authors introducing
all sorts of abbreviations, especially online.

"The most often used abbreviations for obverse and reverse are Obv.
and Rev., with variations such as Ob., Rv., etc. popping up.  The AV,
AR and Æ abbreviations are standard abbreviations for cataloging
ancient coinage, and universally used, both in academic and commercial

"The next time I speak with Bill Metcalf, the Curator of the Yale
Numismatic Collections, I'll try to remember and ask him about the
1880 catalogue and its usage of )( for coin reverse."

To read Ed Snible's original blog entry, see:
Full Story



Now where was I?  Last week I had to cut my diary short following
my long-winded account of my visit to the London Coin Fair on 9 June.
After leaving the show I traipsed over to the British Museum.  Since
Real Men don't ask for directions I declined to purchase a map (but
did drop a quid in the donation box).  Off I went to explore the

I was quite pleased with what I found.  The exhibits were marvelous,
and not just for the quality of the items displayed, but for the
layout, arrangement, description, lighting, floorplan - everything.
It's what one would expect of the British Museum, and I wasn't
disappointed.  I guess they've learned a few things about running
a museum since their founding in 1753.

Knowing that any museum's public exhibit represents only the tip of
their holdings iceberg, I couldn't help but wonder about all the
treasures I WASN'T seeing.  A stroll thru the galleries was a walk
through the eons of human existence; an Easter Island statue, Egyptian
mummies galore, ancient carvings, mosaics and statues, and coins, too.

The inclusion of coins in many of the exhibits warmed my numismatist's
heart.  One of the first coin exhibits I encountered was a group from
ancient Sri Lanka, reminding me of E-Sylum contributor Kavan Ratnatunga.
I didn't take many notes on the coins I saw that day, for if I did I'd
have ended up writing a book.  Actually, I had that book in my backpack,
the 1922 Guide to the Department of Coins and Medals in the British
Museum that I'd bought earlier at the coin fair.  To my coin-centric
eye, it was almost as if the coin department had been greatly expanded
with cultural artifacts brought in to augment the coins.

Eventually I stumbled into the actual coin department and greatly
enjoyed reviewing the displays.  Again, I took few notes because like
a kid in a candy store, I couldn't decide where to start.  A couple
items that drew my eye weren't coins themselves, but were nevertheless
very interesting.

One was an actual reducing machine made in France.  "The Royal Mint
acquired this reducing machine from Panisset of Paris in 1824 for the
use of Mint Engraver William Wyon."  The exhibit case also included a
plaster, rubber mould, and electrotype masters for the 1983 one-pound
coin by Eric Sewell, and a plaster of Mary Gillick's 1952 portrait
of Elizabeth II.

Another unusual item stood almost unnoticed near the door to the
gallery.  Inscribed before 120 BC, the tall stone slab was an honorific
decree allowing the town of Sestos to be able to issue its own coinage.

Wandering through the galleries I turned a corner and was stunned to
come face-to-face with another stone slab I'd forgotten the British
Museum had - The Rosetta Stone.  We all read about the Rosetta Stone
in school (at least I did), but it's only now as an adult that I can
really understand its significance.  As a numismatic bibliophile,
imagine if all the books in your library were printed in some strange
language you didn't understand.  You could see the pictures, but the
captions and text were incomprehensible.  Then suddenly, after years
of frustration a dictionary appears.  Now you can really begin to read
and understand what's been under your nose for so long.  That's the
Rosetta Stone - the key that unlocked ancient mysteries of
hieroglyphic writing.

A visit to the British Museum wouldn't be complete without seeing the
Elgin Marbles, so soon I was in an immense gallery replicating the
size and shape of the interior of the Parthenon on the Acropolis in
Athens.  Around the walls was an eye-level remounting of the famous
carvings from the ancient landmark damaged by time and a terrible
explosion in 1687.

The numismatic connection here?  For me it was ancient art as an
inspiration for both ancient and modern coinage.  The great sculptors
like Augustus Saint-Gaudens all studied ancient art and architecture.
A look at the figure of Iris from the west pediment of the Parthenon
with all her flowing robes immediately brought to mind Saint-Gaudens'
numismatic masterpiece, the obverse of the U.S. twenty dollar gold
piece which debuted in 1907 (see the link below).

Having been on my feet all day I was ready for a break, but not before
I visited the library exhibit Hadrien Rambach had told me about.
Still mapless, I wandered around the ground floor sniffing for books
like a biblio-bloodhound.  I was looking for the King's Library.

Formed by King George III (1760-1820) and originally housed at
Buckingham Palace, it was given to the nation in 1823 by his son
King George IV.  The breathtaking room for the King’s Library was
built between 1823 and 1827, and was the first part constructed for
the current British Museum building.   In 1998 the books were transferred
to a new home in the new British Library building, and the library
room was restored in time to celebrate the British Museum’s 250th

Currently the room hosts an impressive permanent exhibit on The
Enlightenment, a story of the museum and its early collections.
The bookshelves are now filled with artifacts collected early in
the museum's history, but there's still room for books -
leather-bound volumes from the House of Commons Library reside
here, too.

One freestanding exhibit case naturally caught my eye.  From the text:
"The books from the King's Library shown here are devoted to numismatics
- the study of coins and medals.  During the eighteenth century, one
of the signs of a gentleman was his library, which often included
ancient artefacts such as the coins and medals in this case.  They
were considered essential tools of historical research and were
interpreted mostly in the light of knowledge from ancient texts.
Books and coins were therefore intimately linked."

I couldn't agree more, and I'm sure most of our readers would, too.
It was quite pleasing to see all of the exhibits and know that
numismatics and numismatic literature are being exposed to visitors
to The British Museum.  I headed outside to rest on a bench and
call my family before heading back to my hotel.

For more information on The Rosetta Stone, see: The Rosetta Stone

To view an image of the figure of Iris from the Parthenon, see: 
Image pf Iris from the Parthenon

For more information on The King's Library, see:
More Info

For more information on Apsley House, see: Apsley House


So what did I do numismatically this week?  Not a lot, unfortunately.
I'm still working to schedule visits with John Andrew and Ted Buttrey,
and work demands have made it tough to visit other dealers and places
like The Bank of England museum which are only open weekdays.

On Friday morning though, I received a nice email from Caroline Holmes
of Baldwin's - we had been corresponding about an ad for her firm on
the NBS web site.  A regular E-Sylum reader, Caroline added "I hope
you enjoyed your trip to London."    I replied that I did enjoy my trip,
and was already back again.  I took a minute to look up Baldwin's
address and saw that it was in walking distance of my office.  So I
rang her up and arranged to visit over the lunch hour.

Using my handy pocket map to navigate the crooked streets of London,
I wended my way along in search of 11 Adelphi Terrace.  I found a
street sign but was unclear where no. 11 was.  After walking down a
set of steps and returning empty handed, I took a closer look and
realized that the street sign I'd seen was right next to Baldwin's
door.  So I walked in and went down a flight of stairs to a lobby
with a locked door and buzzer.  Through a glass window I could see
the Baldwin showroom and offices.  I rang the bell and asked for
Caroline.  Soon we met and I was whisked inside.

Knowing my love of books she showed me a couple of storage areas
filled with numismatic literature.  The firm plans to renew their
efforts to sell their long-neglected stock of numismatic books, and
has enlisted the assistance of Douglas Saville.  I welcomed Caroline
to keep us posted with announcements of price lists and auctions in
The E-Sylum.   I couldn't stay long, but we made plans to talk
further at lunch next week.  It was great to finally put a face to
another name from the E-Sylum mailing list.

On the way back to the office I saw a sign on Bedford Street for a
shop selling coin and stamp supplies.  I had seen the sign before
but this time I walked in.  Down a set of stairs was a large basement
shop filled with storage racks.  I asked for coin albums and was shown
to an aisle.  "Someone will be with you shortly."  What I saw were
binders of plastic pages for holding coins, but what I was hoping to
buy were "Whitman-style" folders for collecting British coins.  I've
been saving a lot of British coins during my visit and was hoping to
give my kids albums to put them in.

When the clerk returned I explained what I was looking for, only to
be told that no one manufactures Whitman-style folders for the U.K.
The types of pages I saw were the only coin albums to be had.   This
was a real disappointment, but it won't stop me from collecting the coins.

The shop was started in 1969 by Vera Trinder (now Mrs. Vera Webster)
as a dealer in philatelic supplies "in the heart of London's stamp
quarter."  The shop bills itself as "London's Oldest Stamp Supply
Dealer."  Today it deals in banknote and coin supplies as well as
stamp supplies from its shop and web site ( ).

Resuming my journey back to the office I was distracted yet again by
the sight of St. Paul's Church.  I wandered into the churchyard, where
dozens of people enjoyed their lunches on benches lining the walk.  I
stepped inside to view the beautiful interior of the church.  Built
in 1633, the graveyard holds the remains of many victims of the Great
Plague of 1665.

The name of the Church caught my eye because of something I had seen
at the London Coin Fair last week.  It was a framed broadside at the
table of Alan Cherry of Dorset (phone 0 120 241 7064).  Although not
numismatic, its content was fascinatingly gruesome.  Titled "An Account
of the Digging Up of the Quarters of William Stayley Lately Executed
for High Treason for that His Relations Abused the Kings Mercy", the
"quarters" weren't pocket change.  Think "quarters" as in "drawn and

"On Thursday the 21 day of November 1678 received then his sentence
to be drawn on a Sledge to the place of execution, then to be hanged
by the Neck, cut down alive, his Quarters to be severed and disposed
of as the King should think fit, and his bowels burnt and his quarters
were brought back and left at Newgate in order to their being set up
on the Gates of the City of London and his head on London Bridge."

Stayley's family had begged the King to be given his remains, and
the King granted this wish.  However...

"there was made a great and pompous funeral. Many people following
the corps (sic) to the Church of Saint Paul's Covent Garden where
his Majesty hearing of was justly displeased"

So the King had Stayley's remains dug up and displayed publicly as
originally planned.  Somehow I managed to still crave lunch, so I
grabbed a sandwich from a nearby shop and headed back to the office.
On Saturday I rested, numismatically speaking.

This afternoon (Sunday) I took another long walk in Hyde Park and
encountered a temporary structure next to the Albert Memorial housing
the 2007 Royal Collage of Art Summer Show.  Admission was free, and I
went in for a browse.  Some of the works were quite impressive,
encompassing several genres and media.  One artist displayed (among
many other items) some wearable money art.  See the link below to
view Mette Klarskiv Larsen's "Money Knickers" (my term).

Next I took the helpful advice of Patrick McMahon of the Museum of
Fine Arts who wrote: "You should add the Apsley House to your itinerary
if you get the time. It is the house of the Duke of Wellington and
the museum portion of it is really wonderful. It is filled with
amazing things that were given to him by grateful monarchs all over
Europe when he defeated Napoleon.

"If you go don't miss Correggio's 'Agony in the Garden'. It is as
beautiful and moving as it is cracked up to be and supposedly it
was Wellington's favorite, kept in a locked frame and dusted only
by himself. The Portuguese Egyptian-style silver table setting and
garniture in the dining room is mind boggling--so much silver.

"There are also a handful of numismatic pieces in the basement--some
medals of Pistrucci & Wyon production relating to Wellington and
Napoleon. They are in a pretty dark case so a pocket flashlight
would be your friend here. I wish I had had one when I was there--
but I don't know if the guards would scold you for using one or not.
I have been to London many times and for whatever reason long-ignored
this place. Now that I have finally gone I really don't know why I
didn't visit it sooner. It is easily overlooked with all that
London has to offer!"

[I did find and view Correggio's 'Agony in the Garden', and many,
many other paintings.  As luck would have it, this was "Waterloo
Weekend", the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.  To celebrate,
admission to Apsley House was free and costumed actors performed for
tour groups.  We were treated to a lively one-man re-creation of the
Battle of Waterloo with vegetables on the carpet of the grand ballroom.
Yes, vegetables - a cucumber, a stalk of broccoli, onions, radishes
etc. represented Wellington, Napoleon, their soldiers, artillery, cavalry
and allies.  It was a bizarre yet surprisingly entertaining and
informative presentation that one couldn't help but smile at.

I did find my way to the basement gallery to view a Pistrucci Waterloo
medal and many other medals and decorations.  But as Patrick warned,
it was quite dim and difficult to see the objects.   That was the end
of this week's numismatic activity unless you count putting the final
touches on tonight's E-Sylum back in my hotel room.

I've received a number of nice compliments on my London diaries, so I
hope you've found this week's installments of interest as well.  All
this writing is keeping me from my own reading, but it's been quite
fun to pen these accounts.  -Editor]

To view Mette Klarskiv Larsen's Money Knickers, see: Money Knickers (closeup) 
Money Knickers (complete view)


Back on November 13, 2005 I quoted a newspaper article discussing a
coin controversy in India.  Web site visitor Gurprit Gurjal writes:
"The above article has been covered by a person who does not know
anything about Sikh numismatics. The item referred in the article
is not a coin but a common Sikh temple token. For more information
on Sikh numismatics, please visit "Sikh Coins" Group on Yahoo Groups.
There are several photos of tokens in the photo section of the group."

To visit the Yahoo Sikh Coins group, see:



Ralf W. Boepple of Stuttgart, Germany writes: "I remember E-Sylum
discussions of U.S. currency being defaced by rubber stamps, so I
thought this might be an interesting link.

"From the comments posted, I take that there have been quite a few of
these bills circulating. It would be interesting to know if there are
paper money collectors who actively monitor the money in circulation
for such 'products'."

[The stamp, shown on the back of a U.S. one dollar bill reads "FRANCE
NO GOOD / FRENCH GO HOME / U.S.A. #1"   I've not seen the stamp before
and I'm stumped.  Any ideas on what the slogan is about?  The Found
Magazine site pictures other some U.S. bills with amusing notes written
on them, as well as other stamps such as "I AM NOT TERRORIZED". -Editor]

To view the 'FRANCE NO GOOD' note, see: 'FRANCE NO GOOD' Image

To view the 'I AM NOT TERRORIZED' note, see:


Found while looking for other things: Stephen Barnwell's "Dream Dollars".
New York artist Barnwell is the inventor of Nadiria - the lost colony
of Antarctica.

"The banknotes of this dreamed Antarctica, which may be better described
as a colony of American pioneers or members of a sect, feature many
peculiarities. One of them ... is the existence of four variations of
each banknote of a specific value. To be more precise, there are four
editions: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter."

"...  the value of these utopian-oneiric-fictional Antarctica-Atlantis
dollars does not illustrate an orderly succession, but one that is
equally irrational and mathematical-metaphysical. Ignoring the rigid
rules of socio-economic efficiency, the figures follow some "natural"
rules here, producing banknotes with values of 1, 4, 7 , 13, 28, 52,
91 and 365 dollars."

"Regarding the colony's dollars, the writer tells us that they were
used as a form of "social engineering". The natural numbers system 1,
4, 7, 13, 28, 52, 91, 365 automatically introduces a different form
of thinking, and the founder of the colony, Samuel Brundt, believed
that his numerology and banknotes would raise the level of consciousness
and knowledge. This money would have an influence over the power of
the colonists' subconscious and their dreams.

"Stephen Barnwell's invented story continues even during the 20th
century. He fantasizes that in 1901 an attempt to discover Nadiria
is lead by the International Geographic Society and succeeded in
tracing the lost remains of the utopian Antarctic colony. The
"International Society of Nadiria" is founded in Paris in 1925,
followed by the "Nadiria Historical Society" in USA in 1932. Their
purpose is to recover and spread the knowledge acquired by the Nadirians.
In 1953 the oneiric dollars - or, to be more precise, naïve and
artisan reproductions of the originals- are surfacing on the night
club scene of Greenwich Village in New York. Starting with 1967 they
become popular within the hippie culture, being associated with its
drug, music and poetry culture."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

Rag & Bone Bindery blog with images of Dream Dollars: Full Story

To visit Stephen Barnwell's "Dream Dollars" web site, see:


Last week Julian Leidman wrote: "One tiny correction to Dick Johnson's
note about Jack Klausen --  I do not believe that Jack ever lived in
Reno after leaving Kansas City.  I do believe that he lived in
Southern California (Indio, I think) and may have lived in other
towns in that area."

Joe Boling adds: "The last address I had for Jack Klausen (deceased
March 2002) was in La Jolla, Calif."



Dick Hanscom of Alaska Rare Coins keeps us posted on numismatic
events in his hometown of Newburyport, MA.  E-Sylum readers have
been following the slow process that we hope will preserve the
building once used as a mint by Jacob Perkins.

"A historic Fruit Street building that once housed the first Mint
in Massachusetts will soon be restored and turned into a museum.

"The Mint building, set back from the street behind 18 Fruit St.,
has a long history, and a new chapter was opened this week when
the city cleared the way for its sale to the Historical Society
of Old Newbury.

"In the early 1800s, Newburyporter Jacob Perkins used it to house
his engraving and printing plant, the first such facility in

"Perkins printed money for Massachusetts and other parts of New
England. He also invented a new kind of high-pressure steam engine
and a steam-powered gun, as well as heating and refrigeration systems.

"The building has remained virtually unused for 30 or 40 years,
Mack said, last serving as an auto-body shop.

"But aside from some added garage doors, it remains almost unchanged.

"'This is really the last untouched industrial space in Newburyport,'
Mack said. 'It's all still there - the original pulleys and everything.
It's a real piece of the city's history.'"

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


A news report this week alleges that North Korea pawned counterfeit
notes off on aid agencies and diplomats visiting the country.

"Diplomatic sources tell NewsMax that the government of North Korea
may be involved in a U.S. currency counterfeiting operation far
more extensive than previously thought.

"How Pyongyang managed to circulate the currency has been a subject
of a coordinated investigation by both the U.S. and South Korean

"Sources with knowledge of the investigation tell NewsMax that
North Korea used aid agencies and diplomatic missions as a prime
way to move and launder money.

In one case, it is alleged that Pyongyang stole from various
international aid agencies, such as the U.N. Development Program.

"It is suspected that when diplomats went to local banks to withdraw
funds deposited by their governments, they unknowingly received
North Korean 'phony' greenbacks.

"That money would then be carried overseas and enter worldwide

"Among the embassies believed to have been 'scammed' by the North
Koreans are China, Russia and Switzerland.

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


We've discussed a number of new and proposed banknote anti-counterfeiting
features in The E-Sylum.  The June 11 issue of Chemical & Engineering
News notes that chemistry could play a major role in future deterrents
against currency fraud.  The lengthy article was derived from the same
recent National Research Council (NRC) report on counterfeiting, but
focuses on the chemistry involved in some of the anti-counterfeiting

"Advanced currency must include 'features that are based on the
molecular properties of the materials themselves,' says Alan H.
Goldstein, who was an Alfred University professor of biomaterials
when he helped produce the report. 'There's not a huge market for
the home materials fabrication facility, the way there is a market
for the home reprographic facility.'

"Small print Dip-pen nanolithography uses an atomic force microscope
tip to write with molecular 'inks.' The technique could be used to
inscribe banknotes with print that has dimensions in the nanometer

"Surprisingly, piling too many security features onto a note can
backfire. Some banknotes, such as the euro, are so loaded with
complex features that they confuse consumers, who can't remember
what to check for, Goldstein says. Japan has opted instead for a
pared-down approach that points consumers to one dominant
anticounterfeiting feature: In the center of each banknote is a
large, empty oval. It virtually begs the user to hold the bill up
to the light to verify that a watermark portrait appears.

"... the committee proposes that any new security feature should
engage in dynamic behavior only when directly stimulated by a user.
For instance, a cashier could squeeze a bill or hook it up to a
battery to induce a response that verifies the bill's authenticity.

"One such response could rely on piezoelectric materials. Voltage
provided by a battery can reversibly change the shape of these
materials, which are typically based on quartz or lead zirconate
titanate. Polymer-based piezoelectric elements are also under
development. If these materials were embedded in a section of a
banknote, their shape change could, for example, raise bumps that
alter the surface texture from smooth to rough and back.

"Alternatively, a consumer could squeeze a banknote containing a
piezoelectric material hooked up to an organic light-emitting
diode. The pressure would generate voltage that could cause the
eyes in a portrait on the note to twinkle. In addition to being
hard to counterfeit, Goldstein says, the feature 'would have a
certain cool factor.'

"Banknotes could conceivably incorporate superelastic and shape-memory
materials, which return to their original shape after being deformed.
Often based on NiTi (a nickel titanium alloy), these materials are
already used in products such as eyeglass frames. A banknote containing
a superelastic wire or thin-foil pattern would spring back to its
original shape after being folded. A note containing a temperature-
sensitive shape-memory feature could be induced to change shape by
the heat from a finger.

"Banknotes could also be printed with temperature-sensitive inks
made of compounds such as thermotropic liquid crystals, which are
used in mood rings. For instance, warming a bill with a finger could
change the color of a portrait of George Washington or cause it to

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


The Black Enterprise web site published a nice article on the "Black
Connection To Rare Coins" this week.  It would benefit from illustrations
of the items discussed, but gives a good overview black numismatica and
how to begin a collection.  Here are some excerpts:

"The 'slave token,' an English copper coin dating from 1793, was
struck to resemble the British penny and circulated as money by English
abolitionists as a call to end slavery. Today the coins are valued at
$300 each. 'There are only a handful of us collecting them,' notes
David Neita, director of sales for American Heritage Minting...

"'The only black folk on currency — [usually] southern obsolete and
Confederate money—are pictured working in fields,' says Neita.

"Millions of the Booker T. Washington commemorative half-dollar,
designed by African American sculptor Isaac Scott Hathaway and
inscribed with 'from slave cabin to hall of fame' were issued from
1946 to 1954. Individually they sell for $40 (for a 67-grade, 1950 D
coin) to $12,500. Hathaway also designed the Carver-Washington
commemorative half-dollar that pictures conjoined busts of Washington
and George Washington Carver.

"Neita says it’s impossible to be an expert on every coin and suggests
developing an area of specialization. He outlines here what every
numismatist, or student of the coin, should know...  Theme strengthens
a collection. Before spending a dime on a Buffalo Nickel or any other
coin, buy the book, advises Neita."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Texas newspapers are reporting that "Mediation may be ordered in a
case alleging that a local rare coin dealer ripped off elderly

"Judge Donald Floyd will entertain a Motion to Compel Mediation
in the case of Stephen Dinneen et al vs. United States Rare Coin &
Bullion Reserve, Inc. et al, at a hearing slated for Friday, June 15,
inside the 172nd Judicial District Court."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

"Michael Fuljenz, president of Universal Coin & Bullion, has filed a
defamation lawsuit against the Jason A. Gibson Law Firm, claiming
Gibson has been marketing him as a 'predator' to seniors in hopes
of gathering clients to sue him.

"'Plaintiffs have been the victim of an elaborate and orchestrated
campaign by defendants to disparage and destroy plaintiffs' reputation
and business,' the suit said. 'The Gibson Law Firm seeks financial
gain ... by seeking clients using false and defamatory representations,
even referring to UCB as a 'predator.''

"The suit also says the Gibson Law Firm has brought their defamatory
campaign to the Internet using Internet postings, linked sites, and
defamatory and disparaging 'headers', and Web site postings.

"'For example, if a potential customer performs a Google Internet
search on Universal Coin & Bullion, Ltd., a sponsored link appears
for 'Coin Fraud Attorney' at,' the suit said.
'This Web site is operated and maintained by defendants.'

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Dick Johnson writes: "An 1837 Half Cent token offered on eBay caught
my attention at the end of the week. It's a Rulau HT#73, which is
not mentioned in the description.  The auction closes on June 20 but
despite a one-day embargo on Thursday had 11 bids by the end of the
week.  This led me to the story of a corporate tiff.

"It seems eBay and Google are having a family spat. They do a billion
dollar's worth of business together in a year's time. A year ago
Google launched a new payment collection business, Checkout, in
competition to eBay's profitable Pal-Pal.

"Google tried this week to promote this service across the street
from an eBay convention in Boston. EBay was miffed and pulled its
ads in Google. In retaliation, Google suggested the ban on Thursday.
EBay normally receives 10.8 percent of its links through Google. On
Thursday this dropped to 9.6%. In this writer's opinion if there is
a wrong way and a right way to do something, eBay will choose the
wrong way. Decide for yourself. Here is the news story:

Full Story "


A press release from Arlington, VA reports that "The designer of the
Air Force Combat Action Medal said it was a challenge giving the medal
a World War I feel but at the same time modernizing it.

"Graphic designer Susan Gamble used artwork from photos of Brig. Gen.
William "Billy" Mitchell's aircraft to inspire the design of the medal,
which was presented for the first time to six Airmen during a ceremony
here June 12.  General Mitchell was one of the military's earliest
advocates of air power.

"The medal was created to recognize Airmen engaged in air or ground
combat 'outside the wire' in a combat zone. This includes members who
are under direct and hostile fire or who personally engaged hostile
forces with direct and lethal force.

"Mrs. Gamble, a professional artist and master designer for the U.S.
Mint, designed the medal in conjunction with the Army Institute of
Heraldry in Washington D.C.

"After Mrs. Gamble designed three prototypes, Air Force Chief of
Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley made the final selection.  He also
selected a ribbon made with diagonal stripes.

"The diagonal stripe is so rare the heraldry institute officials
had difficulty finding a ribbon-making company that could loom the
ribbon.  They finally found one in Pennsylvania.

"'My initial feedback on the medal has been very positive,' Mrs.
Gamble said. 'The diagonal stripe got a lot of attention. Everyone
I've shown the medal to has said it has a World War I feel to it,
which I'm thrilled about because I thought I would be the only one
who could see it. It's old fashioned, yet modern.'"

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


A reader writes: "I guess you saw this story about the man who
'recreates' Hawaiian paper money? What recreation does the money
partake in (or off)? And don't you just love the word 'numismatologist'?"

[Actually, I hadn't seen this one.  Here are some excerpts. -Editor]

"Quoth Voltaire, 'Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic
value -- zero.' Ouch! Which might explain why so few bills remain from
the Hawaiian Kingdom. During an amnesty period around the turn of the
century, local banks swapped fresh American paper money for the
rapidly devaluing Hawaiian Kingdom notes. Overnight, Kalakaua's
experiment in creating a Hawaiian paper-money system evaporated.

"But one Honolulu man is making sure we don't forget. Dennis Fitzgerald,
a Realtor who dabbles in art, has spent the last decade restoring the
details of the kingdom's paper money, pixel-by-pixel on a computer,
and researching the background of the now-vanished currency ...

"Wait a minute. There was Hawaiian money?

"'It started about 1879,' explained local numismatologist Don Medcalf
of Hawaiian Island Stamp and Coin. 'The American Bank Note Company out
of New York -- who designed everyone's money at the time -- was pretty
rushed to create it. They picked some scenes from South American
currency to put on the Hawaiian money. The only bill to actually have
a vignette of Kalakaua was the $500 bill, and only 200 of those were

Most have disappeared. 'There are only five known copies of the $100
bills and they're all in terrible condition,' Medcalf said. 'A $10
bank note from the estate of Samuel Mills Damon was auctioned last
year for $268,000.'

"Fitzgerald's reprints take it a step further. Not only has he lovingly
restored the engraved detail when possible, he's colorized the notes
as if they had been printed in a full range of hues. The result is
rather attractively Victorian and, as Fitzgerald is the first to admit,
turns the notes into artwork rather than collectibles.

"'Like many people, I had no idea that such bills existed,' said
Fitzgerald. 'The library had some pictures of the original notes,
but from the time the bills vanished in 1910, to the invention of
the Internet, no one had really seen them. I started with the highest-
quality photographs I could find, and from there started restoring
the engraving details using PhotoShop under high magnifications.'

"The original bills were printed with black and green or brown ink.
Pretty dull. 'An artist friend commented on how pretty they would
be if colored, so I added tints that weren't garish or neon, very
period in appearance.'  Fitzgerald reproduces the bills as artwork,
mounted in archival frames with period postcards or maps, with
provenance sheets attached to the back."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

His Majesty - the King of the Hawaiian Islands vignette
King of the Hawaiian Islands vignette

To view other ABNCO vignettes from Hawaiian bank notes, see:
ABNCO vignettes


By now most numismatists have heard of the S.S. Central America
and the S.S. 'Whatever' recently salvaged by the Odyssey group.
But what's the next numismatic haul from the briny deep?

The Peoria Journal-Star reported Thursday that "The focus of Scott
Heimdal's Peoria-based Pacific Ocean treasure hunting operation
has shifted to a second shipwrecked Spanish galleon off the coast
of Ecuador.

"The newest target of Heimdal's interest is known as the Capitana,
a silver coin-laden ship wrecked in 1654 on Chanduy Reef, near the
mouth of Ecuador's Guayaquil River. It's now in pieces and mostly
submerged beneath four to eight feet of mud, sand and clay in
tantalizingly shallow waters less than 40 feet deep. Divers have
been able to salvage some coins in recent months, Heimdal said,
but the bulk of the booty remains inaccessibly buried.

"The amount of Capitana buried treasure hinted at on the company's
Web site is mind-boggling. The boat may have been carrying as many
as 10 million pesos when it sank, with between 10 percent and 20
percent remaining on the ocean floor today, according to the Web
site. The value of each piece could range from $100 to several
thousand dollars, Heimdal said, depending on its value to collectors.
He said he believed the entire bounty of coins would fill the back
of a pickup truck."

[The firm's web site has images of recently coins and some videos
of the exploration and recovery efforts.  -Editor]

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

To view the RS Operations, LLC web site, see: Full Story


Although non-numismatic, this item about an unusual time capsule
makes an interesting companion to Dick Johnson's piece on time
capsules last week.

"A good crowd gathered in front of the county courthouse that summer
day to witness the burial of an exceptionally large time capsule: a
new gold-and-white Plymouth Belvedere, containing a flag, a city
directory, a case of beer, an unpaid parking ticket and the contents
of a woman's purse, among other things.

"City dignitaries explained that exactly 50 years in the future, on
June 15, 2007, this fin-tailed hardtop would be unearthed to show
the world who we were and how we lived, in Tulsa, in 1957. Earle
Davenport of Memorial Park Cemetery had been kind enough to donate
a bronze marker to be set in the ground above the Plymouth, lest
we forget.

"The curious event, which twinned a commemoration of the 50th
anniversary of Oklahoma's statehood with a Plymouth promotion,
drew all sorts of people to Denver Avenue that day. Some thought
that burying a new car was dumb; others thought it sublime.

"If the Belvedere is in driving condition when it is unearthed on
Friday, its headlamps will flicker across a different Tulsa: a Tulsa
that can no longer claim to be the Oil Capital of the World, but a
Tulsa with a strong and diverse economy, and a population that has
grown by more than 100,000 over those 50 years, to about 390,000."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story



Timothy Cook writes: "I am not sure if I missed something or not on
the article on the Cnut penny of Thetford. I am a very poor collector
of English hammered coins and if I am able to afford five coins from
the mint, three of them from Cnut, then I am not sure how the one
they are exhibiting is rare. If it is some rare kind of variety it
sure would have been nice if the article mentioned that. I am even
of the opinion that the Thetford mint is one of the more common mints.
If you look at the new Seaby/Spink catalogue you will notice that
the Thetford mint is the one of the cheapest you can get.

[The popular press and even museums typically have little knowledge
of the relative rarity of numismatic items, often equating "very old"
with "very rare".  So it may be a common item.  They also tend to
overlook key numismatic facts because they don't understand their
significance.  If the penny's lender identified it as a particularly
rare variety that detail may have gotten overlooked in the translation
to the newspaper article.  So maybe it's a rare item after all, but
that article doesn’t reflect that. Unfortunately, there's no way
to tell from the newspaper article.  -Editor]

To see Timothy Cook's Thetford pennies, see"
Full Story



Dick Johnson writes: "The Good Housekeeping Institute issued a warning
this week about dogs swallowing U.S. cents. 'When a penny sits in your
pet's stomach, the zinc leaches out into the red blood cells, resulting
in severe anemia and kidney problems' according to the Institute's

"It noted that post 1982 cents are more caustic because of the higher
zinc content. It also named other household items to keep away from
pets: sugar substitutes, onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, macadamia
nuts, and pine-oil cleaners."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Speaking of cents, Dick Johnson adds: "There is a contest in Washington
DC for the funniest federal employee. Here is one entry. At the U.S.
Treasury where it costs a cent and a half to make a cent one employee
said: 'I work for a nonprofit organization, the U.S. Mint.'"

To read the news article, see: Full Story

Actually, the price of precious metals used in coins has been coming
down, if only a bit.

In his Friday blog Dave Harper of Numismatic News wrote: "It was just
weeks ago when the prices of copper and nickel combined to make it
appear that the metallic value of America’s five-cent piece would
soon hit 10 cents, or double its face value.

"Then a funny thing happened. The prices of the two metals, which
are in heavy demand in China, declined, taking the metallic value
of the coin to 8.4 cents.

"This halt could be temporary. Copper and nickel both jumped yesterday.
I make it a point to check a Web site that recalculates the metallic
values of coins on a daily basis to keep track of things. It is
called Take a look at it at

To read Dave Harper's original blog entry, see:
Full Story

Martin Purdy forwarded a related newspaper article on the 1970s
U.S. coin shortage.  He writes: "As a Brit I can't help a slight
smile whenever I see people being encouraged to "spend pennies" ..."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


The News Democrat Journal of Missouri published a very readable
and sometimes amusing profile of David Siebert, a coin dealer in
rural Festus near St. Louis.

"Siebert said a lot of times people have coins and have no idea
what they are worth.

"'A lady called and said she had some coins that she didn't think were
worth much,' he said. 'I went over there and she had a huge conglomeration
of stuff with about six or seven gold coins, but every one of them had
a hole in it or was damaged. I ended up giving her $4,000 or $5,000
for them and when I went to leave she made me take the paper that was
in the boxes they were in. 'You bought the trash, too,' she told me.'

"Siebert said when he got home, he discovered a beautiful, rare 1857
Dahlonega coin in the wadded up paper worth about $4,300.

"'I went back down there and knocked on the door,' he said. 'I held
up the coin and said, 'This was in the trash and I need to pay you
for it.' She told me I had paid them enough money, but I told her
I was going to give her $3,700 for the coin.

"In addition to buying and selling coins, Siebert has even been
somewhat of a detective.

"'I got a call from a guy who had some coins stolen, and he gave
me a detailed description,' he said. 'He told me there was a scratch
on Miss Liberty from her head to her thumb--and other details like

"The next day he received a phone call from a man, who claimed to
be a Katrina survivor who wanted to sell him some coins. Siebert
agreed to meet the man in a public place.

"'When I looked at the coins, I noticed the same scratch and other
details on them the guy who had called me told me about,' he said.
'I told the man I would buy the coins from him, but that I needed
to go to my bank to get the money first. I told him he needed to
ride with me.

"'Instead of going to the bank, I drove him straight to the
police station."

[Loopy spelling: The caption of the photo shows Siebert viewing
a coin through a magnifying loupe, but spells it as "loop".

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


This week's featured web site is The Numismatic Enquirer, a site
designed to help with the identification of counterfeit U.S. coins
and paper money.  It's a new site with many parts still under
construction, but it already has some very interesting content
(see links below). One page illustrates details of a contemporary
counterfeit of an 1862 two dollar note, and another shows the
operation of a device called the Spuriscope, designed to detect
counterfeit U.S. notes (1929—1935 Series D,$1 to $10,000 denominations)
by dialing their serial numbers on a dial like a rotary telephone.
Most curious!  Has anyone seen one of these devices?

Counterfeit 1862 Greenback $2 note: Full Story

 The Spuriscope: Full Story

  Wayne Homren
  Numismatic Bibliomania Society 

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

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

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