The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 10, Number 43, October 24, 2007:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2007, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


This special issue is a report on how some of our California
brethren are weathering the wildfires buffeting the region.
I've checked in with some of our regular readers and contributors,
and so far NBS co-founder George Kolbe, PCGS President Ron Guth
and Alan Weinberg are safe.  Our thoughts are with our numismatic
friends and all residents of the state affected by the blazes.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Early in the week I noticed news coverage of the latest
California wildfires.   Thinking of numismatic literature
dealer George Kolbe and his wife Linda, I checked the published
fire maps and stories for references to their area, Lake
Arrowhead.  Not finding any, I breathed a sign of relief.
California's a big place.

But on Tuesday afternoon I got a call from another literature
dealer, John Burns.  He'd just spoken to George and learned
that the fires were getting close to their new home.  George's
104th numismatic literature mail bid sale featuring items from
the John J. Pittman library is scheduled to close next Thursday,
November 1, 2007.  That evening I got another reassuring call
from John that the Kolbes were still OK.

By Wednesday the New York Times was reporting that "Throughout
Southern California, the sky was illuminated with a pink, hazy
glow, and smoke rose like a marine layer of fog. Angry red embers
jumped from yards to roads. Ash fell onto parked cars miles
from fires.

"The typically bustling Lake Arrowhead resembled a ghost town,
with abandoned shops and homes. A choking haze of smoke and ash
covered the mountain, creating dusk at noon. At 6,000 feet,
the smoke blacked out the sun above and the valley below."

To read the complete article, see:  Full Story

The Los Angeles Times reported that California Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger visited fire-ravaged neighborhoods in the Lake
Arrowhead region, where hundreds of homes had been obliterated
by the fires.  "'It's really sad and heartbreaking,' the governor
said of the destruction around Lake Arrowhead. 'People have
worked hard and saved all of their money for years, and in one
hour to the next, their homes are destroyed.'"

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

Further south in San Diego County, more than a half million
people were ordered from their homes.  President Bush is
preparing to visit the area.  Fire evacuees huddled at
Qualcomm Stadium.

Alan Weinberg writes: "Apparently I live in a safe "pocket" in
Woodland Hills, Ca. There are fierce fires all around me - in
adjacent Malibu and slightly more distant Santa Clarita but other
than the skies being grey with smoke and the smell of smoke in
the air, I can see nothing. In the past Malibu fires, I could
see the fire glow and even flames on the Malibu mountain ridge
facing Woodland Hills but not this time - the fire is apparently
closer to the Pacific Ocean.

The hot dry Santa Ana winds have been ferocious - gale force.
I've not seen anything like it since moving here in 1970. This
alone explains why the several thousand firemen deployed have
been unable to contain the fire. Last night and today is the
first time the winds have subsided and been quiet.  As I type,
the skies are clearing, so many of the fires must be contained
and dying.

I do think of Dana Linett of Early American History Auctions who
lives and works in a beautiful home in Rancho Santa Fe as this
exclusive community has been surrounded by the massive 'San Diego
area' fire. All the other coin dealers like Ron Guth and Martin
Paul living south of Los Angeles are also in harm's way. I would
think PCGS' operations have been impeded in some fashion."

[A call to Dana Linett was met by an answering machine. -Editor]

Ron Guth, President of Professional Coin Grading Service writes:
"We just purchased a new home in Pacific Beach (completed the move
last night), but we're safe here by the sea.  The fires are raging
to the southeast and northeast of us, but I've been unable to get
to work because of mandatory evacuation zones, disrupted train
service, and closed highways.  Our biggest sufferings have been
due to boredom, a light covering of ash over everything outside,
but this is nothing compared to the tremendous loss of homes and
properties in other areas of the city.  We have numerous friends
who have evacuated their homes, but fortunately, none have lost
anything yet.  One couple who barely made it through the Cedar
Fires of 2003 is going through a repeat this year.  Their home
was one of the few in their neighborhood that did not burn in
2003...they're hoping for the same luck this time around.

"We have wildfires around the county all year round.  Normally,
they are contained easily by our firefighters.  However, the Santa
Ana winds, which reverse the direction of the normal airflows,
act as 50 mph bellows.  There is nothing you can do to stop the
flying embers and intense flames.  The firefighters are simply
overwhelmed until the winds die down.  Hopefully, that will
happen today."

Alan Weinberg adds: "The most peculiar thing about this whole
massive fire,  particularly the Malibu fire, is that several
communities are 'spitting distance' from the Pacific Ocean -
indeed, some Malibu homes that were burnt to the ground, are
literally right on the sand! All that water so close and yet,
oddly, the fires rage."

Earlier today George Kolbe wrotes: "Our Internet access has just
been restored. Things are OK here at present.  Sale 104 will
probably proceed as scheduled but I will send you an update for
Sunday's E-Sylum."

[I just got off the phone myself with George, and thankfully
things are fine.  Their phone service had been erratic over the
last couple of days so some calls may not have gotten through.
Their biggest problem now may be that they're temporarily stranded
atop the mountain - if they were to leave the area they wouldn't be
allowed back in until officials decide it's safe enough.

Again, our thoughts are with everyone affected by this disaster.
I hope to publish a follow-up in Sunday's issue or sooner, if
news arrives.  Below are links to E-Sylum reports from the time
of the 2003 fires.  -Editor]



  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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