The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 10, Number 50, December 9, 2007:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2007, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Joe Cribb of the British
Museum and Marc Stackler.  Welcome aboard!  We now have 1,094

This week we have announcements and reviews of numismatic
books, catalogues and periodicals including new books on
the coinage of William Wood and the Panic of 1907, Sotheby's
Washington Cincinnati Badge catalog, and the 100th issue of
the Liberty Seated Collectors Club's official journal.  In
addition, author Karl Moulton responds to last week's review
of his new book on 'Henry Voigt and Others....' and Joe Cribb
writes about his 'Money' book.

In the news we have updates on the ANS' recent sale of their
building and planned move, the ANA's search for a new Executive
Director, and Liberty Dollar founder Bernard von NotHaus'
latest coining initiative.

In follow-ups from last week we have more information on
dealer Robert E. Hecht, additional background information
from George Fuld on the MicMac medal, a note from Katie Jaeger
on the Erie Canal Completion medal in gold and biographical
information on collector William H. Woodin.

To learn about the 'whakapapa' of the New Zealand military,
read on.  Need a hint?  It's a 'national taonga'.  Have a
great week, everyone.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Fred Lake of Lake Books writes: "This is a reminder that
our 91st mail-bid sale of numismatic literature closes on
Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2007 at 5:00 PM (EST). You may view the
sale on our web site at:
Your bids may be placed via email, fax or telephone until
the closing time. Good luck with your bidding."


Numismatic literature dealer George Frederick Kolbe writes:
"I have been experiencing problems sending and receiving
email messages over the past few weeks. The problems appear
to have been solved, but an unknown number of incoming
messages may never have arrived. If any E-sylum readers
have not received timely email replies, please resend any
relevant messages to Thank you."


Regarding eBay shipping and handling charges in relation
to selling numismatic literature, Greg Heim of South Plainfield,
NJ writes: "Earlier this year I sold my own personal Red Book
collection via eBay - it included the first 10 editions, plus
many of the Special Editions (including the Milwaukee). My
eBay ID is "gynandroidhead."  More recently I've listed bulk
lots on consignment - two different 100+ lots of Bowers &
Merena Rare Coin Reviews, some auction catalogs (1980s to
date with a lot of Stack's Ford Sales), etc.

"In my town, I have an APC, or Automated Postal Center in
my lobby which is available 24/7.  However, you cannot use
it to ship Media Mail packages.  To complicate matters, the
Post Office lobby does not open until 10AM.  There is a very
legitimate component to 'handling' which must be incurred
by the buyer.  There is the time in processing the lot,
which includes the packaging, packaging materials, and time
to and from the post office (especially at this time of the
year if one chooses to do business).

"Now please do not get me wrong, I am not an advocate of
running up your handling charges to offset a chunk of the
seller's eBay fees.  However, time and materials cost money
and too many uninformed buyers only look at the postage.
I take pride in my customer service and my feedback, and
I try to be as fair as possible by combining shipping for
multiple lots, etc.  The only thing that I ask a buyer to
do is evaluate shipping & handling carefully when leaving
opinion on the feedback.  Thanks for your time and have a
wonderful holiday season."


Ray Williams writes: "I just wanted to let everyone know
that Syd Martin's new book 'The Hibernia Coinage of William
Wood (1722-1724)' was released this past weekend at the C4
Convention in Boston.  It is truly an all encompassing work
on the topic, well thought out with respect to content and
structure, and obviously this was a labor of love by the
author.  I feel this book should be used as an example of
how a numismatic book should be written on a specialty topic.
Syd's book will serve as the standard reference on the topic
for many generations - a brief glance through the pages will
tell why.

"As an aside, I'm very proud to be associated with a specialty
club (Colonial Coin Collectors Club) that has published four
significant numismatic books and added so much to the knowledge
base of colonial numismatics.  We have a fifth manuscript being
reviewed at the moment and another ready to review, with several
others that I hope will be ready for publication in the next
two to three years.  Thanks for the great job with the E-Sylum!"

[The book's table of contents is quite thorough, organizing
nearly 500 pages of information into four major chapters and
five appendices.  Michael Hodder wrote the book's introduction.
The book is available from numismatic literature dealer Charles
Davis ( at $85 plus $5 shipping to the Continental
USA (Canada $15, Europe $27).   I'm looking forward to reading
the book and would encourage our colonial-collecting readers
to provide their thoughts on it for The E-Sylum.  -Editor]

To view the Table of Contents and learn how to order, see:
More Info


At their recent convention the Colonial Coin Collectors Club
presented author Robert Vlack with a nicely inscribed and
signed copy of his classic 1965 work, 'Early American Coins'.

Ray Williams writes: "At the beginning of our Educational
Forum, I was honored to be able to present Bob Vlack with
a C4 Lifetime Achievement Award. Bob is in Florida and was
unable to travel to the convention to receive it in person.
In his place, Bob's daughter Cheryl accepted the award and
read a message that Bob wrote for the C4 Membership. Several
members shared their experiences with Bob and it was a moving
experience for Cheryl, and for me too. Instead of making a
plaque for Bob that would probably collect dust, C4 obtained
a copy of Bob's 1965 book and had all the members present
sign it. This was something much more personal and I'm sure
Bob will pull it out often and read through all the names
and notes."


Alan V. Weinberg writes: "This week I received via DHL a
complimentary hardbound 8 x 11 auction catalogue/book from
Sotheby's New York City offering as a single lot the George
Washington / Marquis de Lafayette Order of the Society of
the Cincinnati gold and enamel ribboned decoration to be
auctioned Dec 11, 2007. The book/catalogue, which has 75
pages, is dedicated exclusively to "A Sacred Relic" which
is the title of the book/auction catalogue.

"The Order or Badge, as Sotheby's calls it, is accompanied
by its rather inexpensive-looking contemporary case. Somewhat
like the 1850 San Francisco Alderman's gold medal case of
issue (Stack's Ford XX sale on Oct 16, 2007), an extraordinarily
fine piece of expensive workmanship ($150 in 1850) in a rather
ordinary-looking, inexpensive case. The Cincinnati decoration
box is inscribed simply "Washington's Cincinnati Badge" in
gilt lettering. I've seen much lesser medals, even bronze,
in much plusher boxes.

"The photography in the hardbound Sotheby "catalogue" is
close-up and magnificent and perhaps a dozen different views
of the ribboned badge and case are throughout the book.
Numerous pertinent documents are also pictured giving the
casual reader the impression that the documents accompany
the medal. That is not true and one must carefully read the
footnotes to these documents' pictures to see the documents
are housed in historical societies and don't accompany the
Cincinnati badge.

"The catalogue suggests an auction value of $4 to $10 million
for this decoration (gasp!). As a serious collector of American
historical medals for several decades, I'm doubtful this decoration
or badge qualifies as a 'numismatic medal' or that numismatists
will be pursuing this historic relic. Knowing the authors'
guidelines, it certainly would not have been included in the
Bowers/Jaeger book "100 Greatest American Medals and Tokens" just
published. It is more in line with what appeals to members of
OMSA (Orders and Medals Society of America) and collectors/investors
in historical artifacts, colonial furniture or early American
weapons. Whether or not it will realize the expected $4-10 million
goal, the chances are greater now with this quality catalogue
offering the single piece. I wonder what the reserve is?

"Oh, the badge is hardly unique, with others being housed in
museums (just not with the GW/Lafayette connection). And it is
the first style of a long line of slightly modified gold/enamel
Society of the Cincinnati badges which are only moderately rare.
But the book or catalogue itself - a feast for the eyes and a
nice addition to one's numismatic library. I wonder how many
were printed?"

[I went to the Sotheby's web site earlier this week hoping to
order a copy of the catalogue - it was priced at a whopping $48.

Alan adds: "Sotheby's, to protect their image and credibility
will not sell anything for less than approx 60% (or more - perhaps
80%) of their low estimate. This is standard among the 'better'
auction houses. 60% of the low estimate of $4 million is still
$2.4 million. My guess is it won't sell."

Rev. William Spooner writes: "When I read their estimate, I
thought they were nucking futz."

To order a copy of the Sotheby Order of the Cincinnati catalogue, see


[In his Monday blog, Dave Harper mentioned a new book
that may be of interest to E-Sylum readers.  -Editor]

Dave writes: "I happened to read a book called, The Panic
of 1907: Lessons Learned from the Market's Perfect Storm.
It was written by Robert F. Bruner and Sean D. Carr. I
recommend it. I saw it in the airport and knew I had to
read it.

"One of the marks of good publishing is to have a book
on the rack that seems relevant to the headlines. For me,
this was it. I have been watching the holdings in my
retirement accounts drop dramatically, rise dramatically
and then repeat.

"It is a relatively brief book. It was not an economics
manual at least insofar as the history was concerned.
The economics got a little deeper in the lessons section
at the end.

"This book should be read by coin collectors and paper
money collectors because it sets the historical stage
for the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. A lot of collectors
wonder why the Federal Reserve was created. This will
tell you."

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

[I would be particularly interested to know how much the
book discusses 1907 Clearing House Certificates, which were
a widely used currency substitute during the panic.  Below
are quotes from the publisher and others on,
which also has a video featuring the book's authors. -Editor]

"The chronicle follows one speculator's attempt to corner
the copper market, which leads to panic, the failure of banks
and trusts and the impending bankruptcy of New York City. In
the midst of chaos, one man was able to halt the domino effect
with calm, character and capital: J. Pierpont Morgan. The
Panic, the authors note, hit America at a moment eerily
similar to our own: coming off 50 years of postwar economic
expansion with a Republican "moralist" in the White House,
an increasingly interventionist government, the formation
of enormous new corporate conglomerates and a muckraking
news media fueling resentment."

"A dull textbook it's not: Most chapters amount to six or
seven pages of storytelling with cliffhangers. entertaining
read..."--Bloomberg News

".the definitive guide to the stock market panic of '07"
--The Times


David Lange writes: "I just finished the new 100th issue of
The Gobrecht Journal. Not only is this specialized journal
still thriving after 30+ years, but its landmark 100th
issue is of particular interest to bibliophiles and numismatic

"Bill Bugert contributed a long and well researched biography
of Martin Luther Beistle, author of the pioneering 1929
reference on half dollars. It includes his life story, as
well as a history of The Beistle Company. Within this is an
excellent study of the development of Beistle's Unique brand
coin pages, better known today as the National brand, its
name after Wayte Raymond undertook the marketing of this first
coin album. Before reading Bill's article I didn't realize
that both the National albums and their low-budget companions,
the Popular brand, continued to be manufactured by The Beistle
Company for decades after Raymond took over. His death in 1956
saw the Faxons continuing their sales of these familiar items
through the 1960s. They were yet being produced by The Beistle
Company, which still exists today, though it no longer produces
coin hobby products. Should I ever get around to doing a book
about coin albums, which remains a goal of mine, I'll be
drawing heavily on Bill's research and reference sources.

"Of particular interest to numismatic bibliophiles is
Bill's study of M. L. Beistle's book on the half dollar
series. Included are specific facts about the printer of
this book, the number printed of each edition and their
ultimate dispostion, as well as Beistle's cost for the
press run and Aubrey Beebe's acquisition of the unsold
remainder from Beistle's estate. My own library lacks an
original Beistle, as I have only the reprint Beebe produced
after selling the last of the original copies.

"Also included in this outstanding issue is Len Augsburger's
biography of Kamal M. Ahwash, famed for his pioneering
specialization in Seated Liberty coinage and his authorship
in 1977 of the first detailed reference book on Seated Liberty
Dimes. I knew Kam only casually and cannot contribute any
more to what Len wrote, but Kam had a very interesting and
varied career that is well presented in this article.

"The balance of the issue is typical of the material usually
included in The Gobrecht Journal, consisting of detailed
studies of particular Seated Liberty coins and series. There
is, however, a brief tribute to Al Blythe, author of The
Complete Guide to Liberty Seated Half Dimes. I did know Al
quite well, and I can affirm Mark Sheldon's depiction of him
as a generous and good natured individual.

"I've been a member of the Liberty Seated Collectors Club
for 30 years, and in that time I can't recall an issue of
its journal that I enjoyed so thoroughly as this landmark
100th number. NBS members should definitely acquire this
issue for its unique material."


[John and Nancy Wilson of Ocala, FL submitted this review
of 'The 100 Greatest American Medals and Tokens' by Katherine
Jaeger and Q. David Bowers.  -Editor]

The 100 Greatest American Medals and Tokens written by
Katherine Jaeger and Q. David Bowers is a well-written
coffee table style book with superb photographs and
excellent printing.  A book like this normally sells in
the $75 to $100 range and therefore its price of only
$29.95 makes it a bargain.

<From the 1776 Libertas Americana medal, which we personally
feel is the most beautiful medal ever produced to the lowly
1944 O.P.A. token, which is certainly one of the poorest
tokens as far as looks and production, the authors endeavour
to show, not just the most beautiful medals and tokens, but
the most important pieces to the American public and numismatic
collectors.  In 1944 every American was aware of these O.P.A.
tokens and used them daily to purchase most of the commodities
in short supply due to the war needs.  In this sense they
were one of the most important tokens in American history.

Much additional information about each piece is given along
with the current estimated market value for the piece.  In
addition photographs and information is given for associated
pieces such as the three cent Feuchtwanger pieces to go along
with the one cent Feuchtwanger piece.

The book gives a good overview of the entire token and medal
series as the pieces are important to all Americans.  All
readers will not agree what "greatest" means and certainly
will not agree on what pieces should be included.  This is
part of the discussion by readers as to what they would
personally have on the list.

We enjoyed reading this useful reference and recommend it
highly to not only numismatists but non collectors as well.


Author Karl Moulton writes: "Thank you for presenting the
Bill Eckberg review of "Henry Voigt and Others Involved
With America's Early Coinage".

"This book was written as a story primarily to provide
new background information about the people and events
relative to the creation of America's early coinage.  It
was not written as a thesis, dissertation, or historical
novel  -  hence the lack of footnotes.  If every detail
included had to be validated, such as Rittenhouse nearly
fainting after the transit of Venus, the book would never
have been finished.  Williamson didn't say anything about
needing footnotes or a bibliography, and there are plenty
of verbatim quotes and letters used throughout the entire
book.  If one reads what is actually written - opinions,
conjectures, theories, and beliefs are properly defined
as such.

"As it is, the scope of the book covers a great deal of
previously unknown information, which is difficult to
uncover to begin with, let alone prove conclusively (ala
"smoking gun").  However, the assertions come not from
"unsupported guesswork", as was mentioned in the review,
but from extensive research into previously unrecognized
sources (contemporary newspapers, letters, etc.), which
most numismatists have never seen.  Just because no one
has ever heard of something before, doesn't mean it isn't
accurate.  To require documentation in order to be accepted
and believed, especially regarding the activities at the
first U.S. Mint, is totally unrealistic.  The surrounding
context of known situations to extrapolate from is all we
have.  Documentation simply doesn't exist in many cases,
so don't blame the author for the lack thereof.

"To correct a blatant error in the Eckberg review, Wright
is attributed only as the designer of the obverse for the
Libertas Americana medal, not the entire thing.  The others
involved are properly credited.  To be specific (and this
is not meant to be argumentative, only informative), based
on contemporary letters, the Libertas Americana medal was
not designed by Augustin Dupre, even though his name is
found on Liberty's neck as well as on the reverse, which
he did not design either.

"Yes, Dupre did a wonderful job of engraving the dies, of
that there is no doubt.  However, in reviewing the letter
exchanges with Franklin (all are online at,
we find there is no direct communication whatsoever between
Franklin and Dupre regarding the design, engraving,
manufacturing, or distribution of the medal.  That in
itself is a noteworthy discovery.

"Ben Franklin first described the concept for this medal
to Robert Livingston in a May 1782 letter.  Parisian
Alexandre-Theodore Brongniart was a member of the Academie
des Belles - Lettres, a close friend of Jean A. Houdon, and
(at the time) the architect and controller-general of the
Ecole Militare School.  He was also the intermediary who
discussed the proposed designs with Franklin in September
of 1782.  His letter of the 22nd is revealing.  Brongniart
writes (paraphrased translation):  I finally met the sculptor
who had the honor to speak to you and he gave me two large
sketches for medals.  A painter who is an acquaintance will
draw the same subject.  What would be a good day to visit
with you in Passy to discuss these?

"There is no hint of any prior acquaintance of this
"sculpteur" as is mentioned for the painter (Gibelin).
It is presumed he already knew both Duvivier (the chief
engraver) and Dupre (the assistant engraver) at the Paris
Mint, and no such recognition to either one is implied.
The concept for this medal was already in the design stages
with, as we see, two sketches already having been submitted.

"Joseph Wright was known primarily as a sculptor at this
point (like his mother Patience), having been enrolled in
the Royal Academy of Arts in London for the previous six
years.  John Adams (the first to write about Brongniart's
involvement in his 2007 book "Comitia Americana") has argued
that the word sculptor could mean "carver" (engraver); however,
there are few, if any, confirmed works by Dupre known in wax,
plaster, stone, or terra cotta; yet several pieces are known
for Joseph Wright - the plaster mold of George Washington
done in 1783 and the bronze bust ordered by Congress in 1785
being prominent among them.

"Wright arrived in Paris in the spring of 1782 shortly
before his mother left there for England, and became a
frequent guest at the temporary Franklin residence at the
Hotel de Valentinois in Passy.  In an August 1782 letter,
when Joseph was preparing to leave France and return to
America, he writes to Ben Franklin's grandson William about
doing yet another painting of Franklin: ".I may be in some
measure troublesome, and he must be tired of seeing me so
constantly."  So, we find that Wright, the sculptor, painter,
and engraver was there at the time the designs were submitted,
and had extensive contact with Ben Franklin, the person who
was directly responsible for the Libertas Americana medal.

"There is nothing mentioned about the medal for the next
several months.  Presumably, this is when the dies were
being engraved by Dupre.  Then, on 1-23-1783, Brongniart
writes to Franklin stating that he was sending two new
impressions of the medal noting that the head is not yet
at the point of perfection, which will be corrected, and
that the serpents will be larger and more characterized.
He also reminded Franklin that he had promised to tell
him what should be written on both sides at the bottom
of the medal.

"A week later, on 1-31-1783, he writes again reminding
Franklin that he has not yet received the mottos for the
reverse and asking Franklin what he wants engraved at each
side around the head of freedom.  He also returns a sketch
of the head of freedom.  Brongniart mentions that this delay
keeps the engraver, who desires to finish this project, from
doing so.  That the engraving was not yet finished, and
Brongniart asking Franklin what he wants engraved points
strongly to Dupre not being the one who designed the LA medal.
If Dupre actually created this medal, as others (Vermeule, etc.)
have previously written, why would Brongniart be asking
Franklin what he wanted to be engraved on it?

"Interestingly, the January 23 letter reveals there were
two proofing impressions (die trials) sent to Ben Franklin;
one of which he sent to his long-time friend Sir William
Jones, an Englishman who was sympathetic to the American
cause and had suggested the reverse Latin motto ("Not without
the Gods is the infant courageous").  This is confirmed in a
March 17, 1783, letter by Franklin with which he sends the
reverse "Epreuves" (trial) to Jones and thanks him for the
suggestions, which he used.

"The other (obverse trial) was apparently kept by Franklin,
and its whereabouts is being researched at present.  There
is a strong possibility it resides in the New York State
Library collection in Albany (one of the earliest private
numismatic collections in the U.S.), as there is an 1856
description listed after a bronze LA medal that reads:
"Figure of Liberty: Libertas Americana, 1783 - A Figure
representing the American Union, with these words: Communi
consensu - Lead".  In my opinion, it's quite possible that
the reverse seen on this trial was the second image submitted
by the sculptor mentioned in Brongniart's September 1782
letter.  This may be the long lost Franklin piece with
the unfinished obverse and the unaccepted reverse design
from Wright.

"Did Franklin cross paths with Wright when he returned
to America?  I believe he did, even if it was briefly.
The bronze LA medal and lead trial piece in the NYSL
collection may have originally come from the Wright estate.
A perfect opportunity for the transfer from Franklin to
Wright could have been at Joseph's wedding in Philadelphia
in December of 1789.  These two small items would have made
perfect gifts, and afforded Franklin the opportunity to meet
the lady that Joseph had thought so much of.  Franklin had
given the first trial piece to his friend Jones, and wouldn't
have hesitated to give the other to its designer.

"But this was in the 1790's in Philadelphia.  How did it get
in Albany, NY by the 1850's?  In 1853, the NYSL commissioned
Richard Wistar Davids to catalogue their material.  Davids
was from Philadelphia and had a long time interest in collecting
numismatic items.  There are no auction catalogues that list
him as the consignor, so it's possible he either sold or donated
at least part of his collection to the NYSL.  Davids is listed
as the donor of an electrotype 1796 Washington Cent, and Mrs.
Davids even donated two pieces of California Fractional gold.
Unfortunately, the medal section doesn't list the donor/
acquisition information.

"To corroborate this theory, there are at least two other
items in the NY Historical Society Library collection (1600
pieces in 1850) that could have come from the Wright estate.
These would be the two 1792 quarter die trials in white metal.
These items could have been included in the acquisition by the
NYHS of William Dunlap's diary.  Dunlap was the next-door neighbor
of Joseph Wright's on Queen St in NYC during the 1780's and
visited Wright's daughters later in the 1830's when he reported
seeing a drawing of the 1792 quarter, which he believed to be
a "cent".

"Perhaps some future researcher will dig into this more
thoroughly to find out the real stories behind numismatic
items being where they are least expected.

"Also, in the March 1783 letter from Franklin to Jones he
mentions that none of the LA medals had been struck in hard
metal.  A lead trial was commonly used because it was quite
soft, and would be similar to other lead trial pieces seen
in proposed American coinage designs (ref. Gobrecht obverse
of 1836 Liberty Head half dollar in the National Numismatic
Collection, and Peale's obverse of 1837 Seated Liberty half
in the recent 2004 ANA sale by Heritage).

"As for Dupre designing the new French Republic Liberty
coinage in 1792-4, he could have easily utilized the concepts
from the LA medal, which would have been quite appropriate.
In Dupre's new designs, now that he had become the chief
engraver, we see the Phrygian Cap on the copper issues,
along with Hercules depicted on the silver 5 Franc coinage.

"Using Williamson's outline for the "suggested" Wright
attribution for many of America's first coins (not stated
as being fact, as Breen and Taxay did with Eckfeldt and
Voigt doing the engraving), it's easy to notice a strong
similarity to the LA medal theme - and why not?  Wright
was an American in London during the Revolutionary War;
and at the beginning of the peace process, he was in France.
His mother was a true patriot who acted as a spy by sending
notes of British plans to Franklin in small wax figurines.
Joseph was trying to convey this theme of Liberty in his
designs for America's new coinage.  Dupre was doing the
same thing at the same time in France.  It's obvious that
one copied the other, and in my opinion, based on the
evidence presented here, Wright should receive the credit
for the original designs.

"Wright had been inspired by his mother's actions and
1777 portrait "The Personification of Liberty", which I
did not discover as noted in the review.  It had been
printed in the 1965 book about Patience Wright by Sellers,
and reprinted in the 1985 book about Joseph Wright by Fabian
(both of which have been in my library for years).  It took
real courage for Patience to openly defy the British monarchy
while she was in London during the occupation of Philadelphia.

"The visual similarity, as seen in the Wright family portrait,
of Sarah being the model for the LA medal, dismes, half cents,
large cents, and quarters is the closest link we have for
validation of Wright's coin and medal creations.  Sarah
Vandervoort was never in Paris, so Dupre never met her; and
it's extremely doubtful Dupre knew about the sketch of Patience
Wright.  Only Joseph Wright knew both.

"The longstanding doubt about who engraved America's earliest
coinage comes from the lack of payment records from Rittenhouse
and Voigt, who probably referred the various coinage commissions
to Congress to be included in the 1792 governmental contingency
account mentioned in the Voigt book, page 57.  This had been
done by Jefferson in 1792 when he authorized Wright to engrave
the Henry Lee medal.  The fact that Bob Birch and Joseph Wright
were both in Philadelphia in 1792-3, and they were both engravers
and die sinkers who had worked on coinage and medal designs and
dies, makes them the only ones in the overall picture, other
than the brief visit by Jacob Perkins in the summer of 1792.

"Mention is also made in the review that Craig Sholley found
Voigt's 1793 daily ledger.  To be accurate, it was seen long
ago, and one page was reprinted in a 1962 Numismatic Scrapbook
article by R.W. Julian.

"It is hoped the reader of the "Henry Voigt and Others" book
will not easily discount what is presented based upon prior
accepted knowledge from "authoritative researchers" who didn't
check below the surface, but merely copied from previous
writings.  It is further hoped that readers will be inspired
to do their own research, eventually adding to the numismatic
pool of knowledge.

"What has been presented here and now about the Libertas
Americana medal is solid evidence of qualified research,
which has sought out the true background for this historic

"All numismatic knowledge is acquired, and I respect everyone's
opinions.  I also respect an open mind. In my opinion, Q. David
Bowers, who wrote the foreword, is one of the most knowledgeable,
positive, and open-minded researchers ever to appear in
American numismatics."

Karl adds that "The Brongniart letters definitely need to be
properly translated to English.  The Google language tools
translation is not simply precise enough to make a correct
interpretation one way or the other.    That's why I used the
'paraphrased translation' clause for the Brongniart letters
which are written in French."  Could one of our readers offer
assistance in translation?  -Editor]


Regarding my review of Jeff Reichenberger's pamphlet on William
Ashbrook, Dave Lange writes: "Some of these Ashbrook nuggets
are included in Roger Burdette's third and final volume in his
books. I posted a review of the new book on, and I'm
attaching it here. I don't believe Amazon copyrights such
reviews, so I imagine you can reproduce it."

[Jeff does mention Roger's book in his pamphlet. -Editor]

This third and final volume in Roger W. Burdette's trilogy
titled Renaissance of American Coinage is every bit as satisfying
as the other two volumes. Covering the years 1909-15, it includes
complete developmental histories of two favorite coin types,
the Lincoln Cent and the Buffalo Nickel. Also included are the
several commemorative coins that were issued for the Panama-Pacific
International Exposition in 1915. All of this is thoroughly
documented with correspondence between U. S. Mint officers,
the sculptors commissioned to create the coins and various
other public and private individuals who made their
not-always-welcome contributions to these coins' histories.

The book also features a look into some little known tales
regarding the U. S. Mint's own coin collection, which is now
held by the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History.
These include a profile of the important curator, T. Louis
Comparette, as well as some insider correspondence revealing
that the Mint retained numerous old coins that it used for
trading purposes and for soliciting favor with public
officials. Sidebar stories on the infamous 1913 Liberty
Head Nickel, as well as profiles of some important yet
little known Mint personnel complete this important reference.

As always with Roger's books, every statement and document
is fully cited, not only as to its general source but as to
its specific folder within the vast National Archives and
Records Administration bureaucracy. As someone who has done
a fair amount of research and writing myself on this period
of Mint history, I can attest to just how tedious yet
important this kind of documentation is to future research.

While pointing out its thorough citations may give readers
of this review the impression that this book is a dry and
ponderous exercise, such an idea is vastly removed from the
truth. Roger's writing skills and style are both eminently
relaxed and enjoyable, and this book will satisfy students
of U. S. Mint history and coinage at any level of
sophistication. The numerous, sharp photographs are alone
worth the price of the book.

Whether enjoyed as a thoroughly researched history or
simply as a beautiful coffee-table book, the 1909-15 volume
of Roger's Renaissance of American Coinage is a delight.
Package deals are being offered by at least one seller of
this title, so anyone not having the other books covering
1905-08 and 1916-21 should take advantage of such offers
by buying all three at once.



Regarding the review I wrote on his book 'Money', Joe Cribb
writes: "Thanks for your kind words on my book. The objects,
unless indicated are from the British Museum collection.
There have been loads of printings of this as it has been
translated into about 20 different languages, including
American English! There have only been two editions as such,
the original one in 1990 and an update to cover the Euro in
1999. All others are reprints or translated editions. The
2000 is probably the US version of the 1999 one. The UK
editions have an index.

"The reference to the etymology of piggy bank is not written
by me, but added by the US editor/translator. This is an
erroneous etymology. In medieval English pots were sometimes
called pigs because of their resemblance to pigs. The earliest
money pigs were in Indonesia in the 13-15th century kingdom
of Majapahit on Java. The earliest European money pigs seem
to have been in Germany."



I won a couple lots in George Kolbe's 104 numismatic literature
sale.  One is lot 623, a rare little pamphlet by Boston coin
dealer Henry Cook published in 1869.  COIN AND MEDAL CIRCULAR,
COLLECTOR.   The 12-page pamphlet is interleaved with lined
paper.  Kolbe describes it as "A scarce early introductory
guide with interesting tables of large cents and half cents,
giving degrees of rarity and selling prices at the time.  A
major early Boston coin dealer, Cook left little beyond
several auction sales and a similar pamphlet or two for us
to remember him."

Here is the opening passage, and it applies just as well
today as it did in 1869:

"It is quite unnecessary here to expatiate upon the pleasure
and information to be derived from the study of coins and
medals; the desire to obtain information concerning the
identity, value, etc., of such pieces as may fall into our
possession, being almost universal.

"Scarcely a day passes but calls are made upon me for a
list of prices that are paid for coins; and in a general
reply I would state that it is impossible for a coin dealer
or an experienced collector to determine upon the price of
coins without seeing each individual piece of which his
opinion is asked.  As this may appear strange to the
inexperienced in coin collecting, I will explain that
everything depends, regarding the price of a coin, upon
its rarity, and the good or bad condition in which the
piece in question may be."


An article in the New York Observer reported that "Kent Swig's
Swig Equities has dropped some cash for a coin museum, paying
$23.9 million for the American Numismatic Society's building
at 138 William Street. The society (numismatics are coin
collectors) is planning a move to a leased space nearby-
tentatively next summer-for financial reasons, according
to a spokeswoman."

The ANS published a news release November 28th on the sale
and its relocation to leased space in a newly renovated
building elsewhere in Manhattan.

[Here are excerpts from the press release, followed by a
note on the ANS Library.  -Editor]

The Society will be relocating in the second half of 2008
to a leased 20,000 square foot space on the eleventh floor
of One Hudson Square, a newly renovated 19 story building
in a popular neighborhood near SoHo and Tribeca.

One Hudson Square is situated on the corners of Varick,
Grand and Canal Streets, one of Manhattan's most vibrant
and easily accessible neighborhoods.  Other tenants in
the immediate area include the Jackie Robinson Museum,
The Art Institute of New York, and The Guggenheim Foundation
as well as others from the education, publishing, advertising
and financial sectors.

The new headquarters will house a gallery for exhibitions,
state-of-the-art lecture and conference rooms, and a library
filled with ambient light housing about 10,000 linear feet
of open shelving.

ANS Executive Director Ute Wartenberg adds: "The new Harry
Bass Jr. Library will have the same shelving and seating
capacity on a single floor, with views of the Hudson River.
There will be an elegant, glassed-enclosed Rare Book Room
and a Members' Lounge in addition to the John J. Ford Jr.
Conference and Reading Room.   All current library holdings
will be transferred to the new location.  Over the last few
years, we have been selling some of the extensive holdings
of duplicate auction catalogues and other similar items,
which are currently housed on our second floor.  If any
E-Sylum readers are interested in such materials, please
contact our Museum Administrator Joanne Isaac

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


The American Numismatic Association has formally opened
its search for its next Executive Director.  Below are
excerpts from the ANA's December 7th Press Release.

"The American Numismatic Association is accepting applications
for a new executive director to replace Acting Executive
Director Kenneth Hallenbeck, who will step down once a
replacement has been named.

"... the executive director must have extensive knowledge
of management skills with the ability to initiate, implement
and successfully complete programs and objectives; train and
motivate people, coordinate activities, speak publicly, and
deal effectively with the public, private groups and community

"Candidates must have considerable knowledge of and interest
in the subject matter dealt with by the ANA or a similar hobby
field. Applicants must be able to communicate effectively
with the membership, understand and implement the ANA mission
and objectives, and be able to convey that understanding and
implementation to the Board of Governors, staff members, the
members and others outside the numismatic field.

"The minimum criteria is five years experience in managing
a business, organization or nonprofit association, including
staff supervision, financial reporting and strategic planning.
The selected candidate must be willing to relocate to Colorado
Springs, and be able to work on weekends and evenings."


[A number of Internet publications picked up on the latest
wrinkle in the story of the Liberty Dollar currency substitute.
Here are excerpts from one such article on

"Liberty Dollar, the firm that got raided by the FBI before
Thanksgiving for trying to start a precious-metals-based
currency to compete with the greenback, now says it's back
in business.

"Well, sort of.

"The company's founder, Bernard von NotHaus, said in an email
Thursday that he's changed the firm's name to Liberty Dollar
Numismatics. And he's also trying to raise money by converting
any previously issued Liberty Dollar coins into an Arrest
Dollar marked with a special miniature handcuffs hallmark.

"Liberty came to prominence in July after it started minting
solid silver coins stamped with an image of Ron Paul, a
Republican presidential hopeful and an avid supporter of a
return to the gold-standard monetary system.

"But the operation seemed to come to an abrupt halt when
the Secret Service and the FBI raided the firm's Evansville
office in mid-November and confiscated all materials,
including the precious-metal Liberty Dollar coins and the
Ron Paul dollars.

"Von NotHaus says he'll take any previously issued Liberty
Dollar or Ron Paul dollar coin for a fee of $10 and put the
money toward his legal defense fund. He says he expects to
be arrested on a multitude of charges, including money
laundering and conspiracy, but he's not quite sure when."

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

To view "Arrest Dollar" images, see:
Full Story


[The Denver Post ran an article this week about the local
man who discovered a Sacagawea dollar lettered in error
on the edge.  -Editor]

Andrew Moores tossed a Sacagawea coin into a dish on his
desk and forgot about it - until a few weeks ago when he
realized he possessed a treasure.

Moores had a golden dollar with "In God We Trust" encircling
the edge of the coin, which was struck in 2007 at the Denver

Those words are the hallmark of the new presidential dollar
coins, not the Sacagawea. And so far, Moores' Sacagawea is
the only one of its kind.

"I kind of feel like I won the lottery. It's that much of
a rarity," said the 23-year-old data-entry technician
from Lakewood.

After examining the odd dollar, he sought the advice of
a friend who collects coins.

His friend found out that Professional Coin Grading Service
in Newport, Calif., had a $10,000 bounty on such a coin.
The PCGS authenticates rare coins and offers cash for new

After Moores spoke to the president of the company, he
packaged his prize in a FedEx box, insured it for $50,000,
and shipped it off for examination. The company verified
the coin's authenticity and sent Moores a $10,000 check. He
gets to keep the coin, too.

In 2000, some Sacagawea coins were struck so that there was
a "quarter die on one side and a Sacagawea die on the other,"
said Mike Faraone, an expert on error coins at the PCGS. "I
think about 10 came out, and one of those sold for $65,000."

Michael White, a spokesman for the U.S. Mint, said officials
are aware of the reported error and are looking into it.

The PCGS believes the next major error might be an overstrike
with both the Sacagawea and presidential designs on the same
coin. That will be worth a $10,000 finder's fee, too.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


Bill Malkmus writes: "Your comments on 'anthropodermic
bibliopegy' reminded me of a short contribution I had
published in The Asylum some five years ago (Vol. XX, No. 3,
pp. 59-61), entitled 'Bibliomania through the Ages: Four
Mini-Reviews.' In a three-page commentary (on four books),
there was little opportunity for lengthy discourse, but a
two-paragraph excerpt (from p. 60) might be relevant here:

 [Holbrook] Jackson, in The Anatomy of Bibliomania [1930;
 repr. 1950], tells us everything we wanted to know, and
 considerably more, about the nature of the disease,
 seeming to have overlooked no possible topic for discussion.
 The book is divided into 32 parts which are further
 subdivided into 199 sections. Among these subject headings
 one may find quite practical ones such as "Reading at the
 Toilet" and "Reading Many Books at Once" and the saddest
 -- "On Parting With Books" -- as well as esoterica such
 "Books Bound in Human Skin."

 This latter section is perhaps not as gruesome as it
 might sound. Camille Flammarion, the French astronomer,
 received a bequest of the tanned skin from the back and
 shoulders of a countess whose skin he had once complimented;
 he used a portion to bind one of his books, Ciel et Terre.
 But at least one donor was able to enjoy his contribution
 in his lifetime: a Russian poet, who had a book of sonnets
 bound in his own skin, taken from a leg which was amputated
 following a hunting accident. [1]

 [ Footnote 1]: For the do-it-yourselfers in our readership,
 optimal tanning instructions are provided.

"In regard to your opening question, I do not have the book
on hand to double-check, but I am sure that if there had been
any (even vaguely) numismatic references, I would have made
the most of it.

"Your concept of developing an archive from The E-Sylum fits
in nicely with your being able to write more extensively and
provide references which I was unable to do in the print medium.
Perhaps a reference to the Jackson book and section would expand
the archive references usefully. Unfortunately, the subject
index in The Asylum did not include a category "Books bound
in human skin," so that even a computer search of the index
would not have turned up this reference.

"I never fail to find The E-Sylum interesting."


Kerry Wetterstrom writes: "I read with interest the latest
edition of E-Sylum, and the story on Bob Hecht. While I can't
comment on his shadier side, I do know that he is a serious
numismatist, specializing in ancient coinage. In fact, he
even merits two citations in Elivra Clain-Stefanelli's 1984
Numismatic Bibliography:

2592 Hecht, Robert E. "Some coins of Asia Minor in Boston."
Reprint from Numismatic Chronicle, ser. 7, vol. 4, London,
1964, pp. 159-168, 4 pls.

4415 Hecht, R.E., "Some Greek imperial coins." Numismatic
Chronicle (1968), ser. 7, vol, 8, pp. 27-35, 5 pls.

"Also, if my memory is correct (and lately it's been fuzzy),
he owned a coin and antiquity business back in the 1950s
called Hesperia Arts, based in Philadelphia, that sold ancient
and medieval coins. Perhaps George Kolbe or Douglas Saville
could verify this as Hesperia did publish price lists.

"Finally, Classical Numismatics Group (CNG) is selling Robert
Hecht's collection of Byzantine Lead Seals in their upcoming
Triton XI auction at the New York International in January.

"There is an interesting biography for Hecht on page 284 of
the catalogue, but it doesn't mention his connection to
Hesperia Arts. He may have been just a silent partner, or
I may be totally wrong about his connection to the firm.

"The CNG bio reads in part: 'Robert E. ('Bob') Hecht Jr.,
now 88 years old, is the most prominent antiquity dealer
of his generation. A Baltimore native, his great-grandfather
Samuel Hecht founded the Hecht department store chain in
1857 that grew to 81 stores.'

"All in all, a fascinating fellow! One other interesting
tidbit about Bob Hecht - he is mentioned prominently in
Bruce McNall's autobiography 'Fun While It Lasted', as
Bruce considered him his mentor in the antiquity business.
(Bruce was the owner of Numismatic Fine Arts if his name
is not familiar.)"

[Considering that McNall wrote his book in a jail cell,
I doubt Hecht will be calling on Bruce as a character
witness in his own trial.  -Editor]


Darryl Atchison, editor of the Canadian Numismatic
Bibliography writes: "Further to the discussion recently
on the MicMac medal, Geoff Bell published articles on this
medal in the 1980s as follows:

1. <<Indian-Chief medals and New Brunswick - part 1>>. -
CNJ : Vol. 29, no. 4 (April 1984). - p. 150 - 158, ill.
and   part II Canadian Numismatic Journal : Vol. 29, no.
5 (May. 1984). -- p. 226 - 233

2  <<Indian-Chief medals and New Brunswick>>. - Atlantic
Provinces Numismatic Association Bulletin  : Vol. 23, no.
3 (May - June 1987). - p. 28 - 31, ill.

"Both articles are illustrated (including the medal
presented on behalf of George Washington) and full
citations for each of these articles are included in
the Canadian Numismatic Bibliography."

George Fuld writes: As the 'discoverer' of the Micmac
medal, I think some other facts should be stated.

"I spent several days at the British Museum in May of
1960 under the kind auspices of the late Dr. John Walker,
the chief curator.  One of the eye opening discoveries was
what we now call the Micmac medal.  At that time I assumed
that it was of the vintage 1792 to 1795.  Dr. Walker couldn't
make a photograph but did send several months later plaster
casts of the medal (the illustration of the medal in
Rulau-Fuld's Baker book on page 91 is from the plaster cast).

"I didn't publish any information until 1963.  It was
written up as 'New Indian Peace Medal' in Coin World 155
(April 15, 1963) page 52.  This was the first publication
of this medal but it was not yet attributed to the Micmac
tribe.  A full discussion on the medal was given in my
article in the American Journal of Numismatics, second
series Vol. 14, page 105 (2002).

"An error should be noted that in the 1999 2nd edition
of Baker - we stated that John Ford owned the second
known medal.  This was in error.  He examined the medal,
which is holed, but was unable to purchase the medal.
It still resides with the Micmac tribe.

"I hope that these facts will put the Micmac to rest!"



Regarding Leon Worden's query, Pete Smith writes: "William
H. Woodin ran for Congress in 1898 (11-8-98) representing
the seventeenth congressional district of Pennsylvania.
The Democratic candidate, Rufus K. Polk, won with 14,792
votes. Republican Woodin got 12,487 votes. A Prohibition
candidate, John M. Caldwell, received 1265 votes.

"The site was the Wilkes University Election Statistics
Project. My search gave me a page within a large number
of similar pages for Pennsylvania elections.
Full Story

"This is from the first item found with an Internet search.
Perhaps it would take a little longer to prove this is 'our'
Woodin but this is something I already knew. Woodin is one
of my pet projects.

"I have a campaign button for Woodin and have seen other
examples on eBay. Mine has the backpaper from Whitehead and
Hoag. I also have a campaign card about 5.4 x 3 inches with
his photo. This appears to be the same photo that appears
on the campaign button."

Thomas P. Van Zeyl writes: "I'm a Woodin fan from his
signature on my CU $1 Series 1928 Legal Tender note that
I occasionally visit at my bank.  Mr. Worden's query got
me doing some Internet research in my spare time; I believe
I have an answer (as well as a link) to Leon's query:

"In the November 8, 1898 Congressional elections, specifically
Pennsylvania, three candidates from the 17th District (serving
the counties of Columbia, Montour, and Northumberland; I'm
guessing about 120 miles west of Philadelphia) ran for a seat.
They were: Rufus K. Polk, Democrat; William H. Woodin, Republican;
and John M. Caldwell, Prohibition Party.

According to my source,
Full Story
which sources directly from Dubin, Congressional Elections,
pp.327, 329, apparently no incumbent ran from the 17th District;
thus, either the incumbent did not run for re-election, or,
perhaps, this may have been a newly-created district with
candidates running for the first time?  (Anyone else have
better information?)  Polk won election with 14,792 votes;
Woodin was "first loser" with 12,487 votes; the Prohibitionist,
Caldwell, "drank up" the spoils of a third place finish with
1,265 votes.  Winners joined the 56th Congress (1899-1901)
in Washington, D.C."

Marc Charles Ricard also found Woodin election information
He writes: "I found a source on the Internet that describes
the U.S. Congressional Election of the 56th Congress held
on November 8, 1898, whose Representatives served from
1899 to 1901.

"For those unfamiliar with William H. Woodin's achievements
later in life, (as I was!), the following is taken from a
biographical essay of his life:

William Hartman Woodin was born May 27, 1868, in Berwick,
Pennsylvania. He attended the School of Mines at Columbia
University but left before finishing a degree. Woodin spent
most of his career in the private sector, starting as president
of the American Car and Foundry Company in 1922 and serving
as chairman of the board of the American Locomotive Company,
the J. B. Brill Company, the Montreal Locomotive Works, and
the Railway Steel Spring Company. He would also become a
director of the Federal Reserve Bank in New York City.
Along the way, Woodin became an accomplished songwriter.

He was appointed secretary of the treasury in 1933 but
resigned after only one year because of illness and a
minor scandal: the Senate Banking Committee had found his
name on a list of J. P. Morgan's preferred customers and
discovered that he had been given preferred stock options.

Woodin also presided over the Roosevelt Administration's
withdrawal from the international monetary conference in
London and decision to take the United States off the
international gold standard.

While he was Secretary of the Treasury, the Administration
also began the decision-making process that eventually led
to the Administration's decision to buy all the gold in
private hands in the United States (other than that used
by dentists and jewelers) and to devalue the dollar. Under
Secretary Acheson was so opposed to the latter two decisions
that he resigned in protest.

Woodin was also an avid coin collector, and when gold was
withdrawn from private hands, he made certain an exception
was put in place for "rare or unusual" coin types.

William Woodin died on May 3, 1934, in New York City. He
is buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, in Berwick, Pennsylvania,
the town where he was born.




Regarding Rich Jewell's question about the 1826 Erie Canal
Completion medal in gold, Katie Jaeger wrote to supply more
of the information she had gathered for her essay in the
'100 Greatest American Medals and Tokens' book.  She quotes
the report of Archibald Robertson, the celebration committee
chairman and medal designer:

"The Medal was engraved by Mr. Charles C. Wright, of the firm
of A. B. and C. Durand, Wright and Co.The lettering was by
Mr. Richard Trested, Engraver and Die Sinker, upon dies made
by Mr. William Williams, Worker in Iron and Steel. The
Medals themselves were most elegantly impressed by Mr.
Maltby Pelletreau of the firm of Pelletreau, Bennett, and
Cooke at their Gold and Silver Manufactory, by means of
his very powerful and exquisitely adjusted screw Press.
Curious woods, such as birdseye, curled maple, red cedar,
&c., the produce of the western forests, for making Boxes
to inclose the Medal, were procured and deposited in a canoe
made by the aboriginal red men, on the shores of Lake Superior;
and embarked on board the first Canal boat from the Lakes...
On the inside of the lid is the crest of the City Arms; with
the inscription 'Presented by the City of New York;' and on
the innerside of the bottom 'This Box was made from a piece
of Wood, brought from Erie in the first Canal-boat, the Seneca
Chief.' The gold Medals are inclosed in elegant square red
morocco leather cases. The makers of the curious wood boxes
were Mr. Daniel Karr, turner, and Mr. Duncan Phyfe. The
maker of the morocco cases was Mr. Robert Tanner"

Katie has seen the gold medal presented to Andrew Jackson,
along with its red morocco leather case, at the New York
Historical Society. Readers can access a photo at:



[In an item last week about counterfeit-detecting pens, I
wrote: "As noted in one of the earlier E-Sylum articles,
the counterfeit pens come with a warning which says they
don't work on money older than 1959."

Tom DeLorey writes: "The paper was indeed changed circa
1960, and the chemical properties of the older paper are
such that the ruinous marking pens do not work on them."

Dave Lange writes: "This is about the time that the BEP
transitioned from the wet printing process to the dry
printing process. It was phased in with the new series
notes, while older series were still being printed
simultaneously using the soon-to-be-obsolete technology.
It's very likely that all wet-printed notes will fail
the pen test."

[Last week I wrote that "... the pens are designed to
detect certain properties in genuine U.S. currency paper,
but they only work with relatively recent notes."

Joe Boling writes: "The counterfeit detection pens don't
look for characteristics of US currency - they look for
characteristics of paper that is NOT used for US currency.
Crane's product is sized with animal fat and glycerine.
Commercial bond paper is sized with starch. The pen is
an iodine solution. Iodine and starch combine as black.
If the pen detects starch on the note, it will react.
Older notes have been in circulation a long time - they
have had many opportunities to get contaminated with
something that will react to the pen.

"The date 1959 is not significant. I have a stack of
well-circulated notes that I loan to theater companies
as props for live performances. I just marked two 1928A
$1 silver certificates and a 1928F $5 US note - they did
not react. A 1928 $5 US note reacted mildly. A 1934A $10
Federal Reserve Note did not react; neither did a 1934A
$20 FRN or a 1934 $50 FRN. Nor did five different well-
circulated 1923 $1 silver certificates.

"I have found that after a few weeks, the yellow marking
of the pen will disappear from a genuine note, so your
readers who are offended by the markings just need to put
the notes away for a while."

[So that explains why you don't see far more bills in
circulation showing marks from the counterfeit-detecting
pens.  -Editor]

Joe adds: "Three days after having marked the notes
previously listed, the marks are invisible on most and
barely visible on the others, except under ultraviolet
light - under UV they are still prominent."



[This week the Cincinnati Post published a profile on
Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee member John Alexander.

"Alexander is a member of the 11-person Citizens Coinage
Advisory Committee that makes recommendations about the
design of coins to the U.S. Mint and the secretary of the
U.S. Treasury.

"'I applied for the position, and it's even better than
I expected,' he said. 'This committee does what a good
committee ought to do. The members listen to each other.

"'There's give and take, and people will change their minds
based on what other people have to say. Even when we disagree,
we understand and respect each other. Members say they look
forward to coming to meetings.'

"The committee meets every two months at the U.S. Mint in
Washington except for once a year when the group gathers
at whatever city the American Numismatics Association of
coin collectors is staging its annual convention.

"'One position is mandated for a person trained in U.S.
history, and when it became available, I applied for it,'
said Alexander, who was appointed to a four-year term that
began in the autumn of 2005.

"'I applied because I collected coins briefly as a child
and have always had some interest in coins. But I also
thought that here is a place where one can do some real
service based on my expertise in history.

"The committee is reviewing new designs for the back of
the Abraham Lincoln penny because the Mint will issue
pennies with four different backs in 2009 to honor the
200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth.

"While the familiar Lincoln portrait on the front will
remain the same, the new backs will represent four stages
of Lincoln's life: birth, youth, career and president.

"Alexander said designs the committee reviewed for the
first three stages were similar and not controversial:
a log cabin to represent the place of Lincoln's birth,
a young Lincoln reading by candlelight to depict his
self-education and Lincoln making a legislative speech.

"However, some of the designs to signify Lincoln's
presidency depicted a half-built dome of the U.S.
Capitol, which Lincoln helped get completed.

"'That became a real problem for the committee,' said
Alexander. 'Occasionally, we can get passionate, and
the committee overwhelmingly decided that we don't
believe that will work.

"'We want something that will depict Lincoln in the
Civil War era, maybe Lincoln with generals in a tent
or making the Gettysburg Address or signing the
Emancipation Proclamation. Something that reminds
people there was a thing called the Civil War.'

"Because of the committee's unhappiness with a half-built
dome, additional designs have been ordered and the committee
will review them at its next meeting in January."

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[A article published this week about the recent theft of
rare medals from a New Zealand museum mentions the collector
who's been buying a number of them recently - Lord Ashcroft
of England.  Here are excerpts from that article, followed
by information on Ashcroft and his collection.  -Editor]

"The stolen military medals are worth millions and include
9 Victoria Crosses among which is the museum's pride and joy
- Charles Upham's VC and bar.

"But there are suspicions that because of the swift nature
of the raid, inside knowledge may have been a factor. It
appeared to be timed to miss a security guard on his rounds.

"Customs is on the lookout for the stolen medals should the
thieves attempt to take them from the country.  Medal expert
John Mowbray has no doubt that the medals are bound for

"'I don't know of anyone in New Zealand who is collecting
medals at that level, that would want to do such a despicable
thing,' says Mowbray. 'After all we're talking about our
heritage here.'

"Mowbray says that there are very few people who buy such
rare and valuable medals.

"'There have been 59 VC medals sold in the last ten years
world wide, and of those 59, 42 of them have been bought
by one person, that's Lord Ashcroft in England,' he explained... "

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

"Exactly twenty years ago Michael Ashcroft bought his
first Victoria Cross, that of Leading Seaman James Magennis,
believing it to be a one-off. Today the Michael Ashcroft Trust,
which was established to care for and protect the VC collection,
now owns 146 Victoria Cross groups, just over a tenth of the
1357 VCs that have been awarded to individuals since 1856. It
is by far the largest collection of Victoria Crosses in the
world. The trust has plans to open its collection to the public
when a suitable location can be found."

For more information on Lord Ashcroft's Victoria Cross collection, see:

For more information on the Victoria Cross, see:


[The New Zealand medal theft reported last week has spurred
commentary and concern from all areas of the country.  Below
are excerpts from a representative set of articles.  -Editor]

"Penetrating the hitherto-thought-impregnable fortress of
Waiouru's military museum, thieves have liberated more than
100 medals from under the noses of State-trained professional
killers. The gongs include Upham's Victoria Cross and Bar.

"He must be stirring in his grave, wondering: Is this the
same country I fought for, and almost died for?"

"The Minister of Defence deserves a month in solitary,
polishing dustbins and trimming lawns with a nail-clipper,
for gross dereliction of duty and absent-mindedness.

"The people responsible for the daring theft of what amounts
to New Zealand's equivalent of the Crown Jewels deserve a
medal for highlighting an appalling lack of protection for
artefacts that are beyond any valuation."

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

[The following article requires some translation of Maori
words, which I've place in brackets following the words.
And yes, I had some help... -Editor]

"War medals stolen from Waiouru [site of the national
army museum] are the 'whakapapa [ancestral history] of
our New Zealand military', says New Zealand First MP Ron Mark.

"'It's national taonga [treasure],' he said yesterday in
Palmerston North.

"Nine Victoria Crosses were among 100 medals stolen from
the army museum.

"Reports suggest the heist early on Sunday morning was
well-planned and executed.

"'If it was a professional hit, you have to consider the
possibility the medals may already be out of the country, '
Mr Mark said.

"Prime Minister Helen Clark has called the burglary a
crime against the nation."

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

"A Victoria Cross expert says he believes the stolen
medals are likely to be held for ransom.

"Michael Maxton is the curator for The Michael Ashcroft
Trust in England, which cares for a tenth of the 1357 VCs
awarded since 1856.

"He told Nine to Noon the fact that relatively few medals
were taken showed the thieves knew exactly what they were
looking for.

"Mr Maxton says those responsible would have known the
medals would not be able to be sold, meaning they would
likely be held for ransom.

"He says a theft of this scale from an historical
institution is unprecedented.

"Charley Hill, a former detective from Scotland Yard's
art and antiques unit who recovered The Scream by Edvard
Munch, says the most realistic way of getting the medals
back is for the police to offer a reward and wait for
someone to surface.

"Police have said it is unlikely a reward will be offered.

"The Army says the collection of medals would be valued
in the millions, but its importance to the country is

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

[Police are going all out to find the thieves - they are
using some 'high tech' tools as well as slogging through
a thorough process of interviewing people at every home
in town. -Editor]

"Police are turning to advanced technology in their bid
to catch the thieves who stole 100 medals, many rare,
from the Army Museum in Waiouru last Sunday.

"An Auckland-based expert has been at the museum today
assisting investigators to create a digital map of the

"Meanwhile, a forensic examination of the scene had been
completed and scientists had taken a number of items back
to Wellington for evaluation.

"About 20 military police officers, seconded to the case,
had an uncomfortable afternoon as they braved heavy rain
to door-knock Waiouru residents in a bid to interview all
of the town about their whereabouts on Saturday night.

"Inquiry head Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Bensemann
said police investigation of the museum's closed circuit
TV footage was now focusing on footage captured on Saturday
night and Sunday morning when the raid took place.

"Police were still asking for people who were in or had
travelled through Waiouru late Saturday night or early
Sunday morning to contact them by calling the hotline
number or emailing them."

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


Dick Johnson writes: "A newspaper in my hometown carried
an article on local couple who are tracking the movements
of dollar bills.  They have entered 30,000 bills by
denomination, series and serial number. This was done on
the Where's George web site.  Official title 'United States
Currency Tracing Project.'

"It seems like a harmless pastime. It doesn't provide much
numismatic content, but one benefit seems to be it is
getting people to actually look at the currency that passes
through their hands. Could any intelligence be gained from
the mountain of data?

"Some bills are stamped with a 'Where's George' statement
and his web site address with an appeal to enter the bill's
serial number and your zip code. When one of these bills
is registered on the website it is a 'hit.'  These are
eagerly tracked by the person who first placed it back in
circulation it after registering it.

"Some guy with the assumed name of Wattsburg Gary has
entered over 800,000 bills. I checked the activity by
city and Wattsburg, Pennsylvania ranked high. You can
assume that was the result of Gary's frantic typing.
His fingers must be raw!

"In considering the characteristics of future coins I
proposed embedding a microchip in all high-value coins
(like the serial numbers on paper money).  Recording
these numbers will require electronic readers (to be
located in banks and large retail stores, for example).
Manually typing will be unnecessary. Sure will save wear
and tear on Gary's fingers in the future!

"If you have nothing else to do check on:  "


Last week an article on the last of the original 50 states
quarter series noted "But the series may get an extra breath
of life. A bill to issue six more coins in 2009, honoring
the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa,
the United States Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana
Islands has been approved by the House of Representatives
and is now awaiting action in the Senate banking committee."

Dave Lange writes: "At the recent Baltimore coin show, Dawn
Burbank of Whitman Publishing, LLC showed me the company's
new folder for the still-pending 2009 "state" quarters. Being
a collector of all coin folders, albums, etc., I of course
bought one for my collection. This folder will become all
the more appealing if the bill fails to pass, though I suspect
that political considerations will prevail and the bill become

"Another interesting Whitman product appearing soon will be
its tributes to the vintage coin boards produced by Whitman's
predecessor company during the 1930s and early 40s. Reproduction
11" x 14" coin boards are set to debut this month for Lincoln
Wheat Cents and Buffalo Nickels. I've know of its plan for some
time, but Whitman did not announce these products until recently.
I haven't seen them yet, but they will make an interesting
addition to my collection and to any future edition of my book
on coin boards."



Alan Luedeking writes: "Whoever the numismatically unconscious
collector in Kansas is who solicits 1968 cents, he or she
would've done better to ask for 1969's-- they'd at least
have given themselves a sporting chance of turning up a
doubled 1969-S."



The November issue of the American Numismatic Association's
Numismatist magazine included a premature death notice for
Howard Daniel III. We are all happy the announcement was an
error. Now there is another curious death notice in the
December issue.

"According to Numismatist, Harry Butt of Virginia Beach
joined in July 2002. Other persons with that name have been
known through history. It is also a name that might be
chosen as a pseudonym. I did a little Internet searching
and could not find an obituary. With all due respect for
the deceased, I wonder if any E-Sylum reader ever knew a
Harry Butt?

[For what it's worth, Virginia Numismatic Association
President John Koebert did not know of any member by
that name. -Editor]


This week's featured web site is the Wikipedia coin
grading page, as suggested by Roger deWardt Lane.  He
writes: "One of the Internet clubs I subscribe to had
this link to the Wikipedia coin grading page.  They were
getting several inquiries from around the world, who did
not understand why the USA grading scale was from 1-70.
The British wondered why it is not a 12 scale, the EU
thought it should be decimal 1-100 and the old-timers
just described the Good to Uncirculated scale."

  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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