The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 11, Number 04, January 27, 2008:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2008, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Colin E. Pitchfork, courtesy of
John and Nancy Wilson, Tom Harrison and Brad Weaver.  Welcome
aboard!  We now have 1,116 subscribers.

Following brief notices about NBS dues and show tables, this week
we open with a discussion on the most valuable numismatic books,
triggered by the recent sale of a book on U.S. MPC for over $100,000.
Next we have a brief notice on a new book by Eric Newman, and an
appreciation of numismatic editors by Ray Williams.

Questions this week involve the Brown and Dunn grading guide,
and a coin dealer named "Brownie".   Follow-ups from last week
include items on the Castorland medal, Diane Wolf, and the
rarity of the Adams Academy medal.

From the science desk we have articles on counterfeit coin
detection by sound, and a study about germs on paper money.
In the news we have reports on numismatic museum exhibits in
Romainia, and profiles of U.S. Mint artist Susan Gamble and
Rep. Jose Serrano.   Also, happy twentieth anniversary to the
polymer banknote!

To learn where the coin tossed by referees in the Super Bowl
comes from, read on. Have a great week, everyone.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


[A recurring problem relating to NBS dues has appeared once
again.  It stems from the separation of annual collating
ballot duties from the ongoing duties of the NBS Secretary-
Treasurer.  As a trusted longtime member David Lange has
taken on the task of collecting and collating ballots each
year for the election of officers and voting for best Asylum
article.   Last year these were mailed to members together
with dues reminders, and many members replied to the wrong
address.  -Editor]

Dave Lange writes: "About six weeks ago I received yet
another dues payment for NBS that should have gone to
David Sundman as treasurer. I passed this on to a Littleton
employee at the FUN show, and luckily it did find its way
to David.

"I can't repeat enough how important it is that the dues
notices and ballots not be sent to members at the same time,
when they are supposed to be returned to different persons.
People just don't read the instructions. I believe the dues
notices should be sent out at the beginning of the calendar
year, separate from the election and article ballots."

[If you sent in a dues check that hasn't been processed
by your bank, you may have sent it to the wrong address.
Please contact our Secretary-Treasurer David Sundman.
His contact information is at the end of every E-Sylum
and on our web site at  -Editor]


In an effort to prove that he's not dead yet, Howard A. Daniel
III plans to man a club table at the upcoming American Numismatic
Association National Money Show in Phoenix, AZ March 7-9.  He
will represent the Numismatic Bibliomania Society, Numismatics
International.  Howard requests that NBS members bring any
surplus numismatic publications with them so he can give them
to new and young collectors along with an NBS application form.


Fred Schwan writes: "Perhaps there were other books somewhere
in the Heritage paper money sale at FUN, but there was only
one important book. It probably went unnoticed by most
numibibliophiles.  The title of the book was 'Composite,
Progressive, and Specimens Military Payment Certificates
Series 692'.  [My thanks to David Klinger for helping me
locate the lot on the Heritage web site. -Editor]

To view the lot description on the Heritage web site, see:
Heritage web site

"The book included 72 pages of the subject material. No
similar book has been previously been reported in private
hands. The book realized a record price for any MPC item --
$115,000 including juice. I wrote up the full story for the
current issue of the Bank Note Reporter. Where does $115,000
stack up in records for numismatic books?"

[Although this item is indeed a book, the value of the
book derives primarily from the fact that it houses a
collection of numismatic items – it’s part book, but part
album.   I would put the Raphael P. Thian album of Confederate
Currency in this category as well.  It sold in the 1994 Armand
Champa library sale for $25,300. Like the MPC "book", the
lion's share of the value was in the notes mounted within.
These "books" are collections in the form of books.  I wasn't
sure of any U.S. numismatic book (or album) exceeding the
Thian record, but George Kolbe set me straight.  -Editor]

George Kolbe writes: "In the John J. Ford library sale, lot
518, the single volume Colonel Green inventory, brought
$37,000 hammer; Vols. 1-6 of The Numismatist, bound in one
volume, sold for $35,000; the 1851 Hart pamphlet brought
$30,000 hammer (this fully conforms with your main criterion).
I found these by making a quick scan of the prices realized
list. There may be others, in Ford, and earlier. Another Hart,
for example, sold in the Bass library, though I believe it
brought less.

Recently, an early numismatic book from the library of Jean
Grolier sold at auction in Europe for around $75,000-$80,000.
One or two other numismatic books in Grolier bindings have
sold at auction for over $25,000, I believe. Several years
ago, Douglas Saville and I bought together at auction a 1517
first edition of Fulvio's "Illustrium Imagines" (for well
over your threshold figure) and I placed it privately at
over $50,000. It was one of only a few printed on vellum.
I do not know if other numismatic books in this league have
reached six figures but I would not be particularly surprised."

"The above items derive their value intrinsically, though
a Grolier binding makes a bit of a difference (the book noted
above, in a nice 'anonymous' contemporary binding, would bring
several thousand dollars at most, and vellum vs. rag stock
enhances Fulvio's value by a factor of ten)."

[A list of the "Top Ten Most Valuable Works of Numismatic
Literature" would make for interesting reading.  Has anyone
been keeping track of recent sale records in this regard?


Eric Newman has written a new book on the Fugio coppers.
An advertisement by Charles Davis in the January issue of
Penny Wise offers Eric's work 'The United States Fugio
Coppers of 1787'.  Charlie reports that the book is currently
at the binders and will be available shortly.  We'll publish
the full press release once it's issued, and would welcome
a review from any of our readers once their copy is in hand.
I'll be ordering one myself.


Martin Purdy writes: "E-Sylum subscribers may be interested
to know that the Royal Numismatic Society of New Zealand has
just published a 24-page Index of NZNJ issues 71-85 (1993-2006);
copies are available for USD 5.00 post-paid. Cash in the mail
(buyer's risk) c/o the RNSNZ, PO Box 2023, Wellington 6140,
New Zealand, or USD 5.50 via Paypal to"


[Ray Williams of the Colonial Coin Collectors Club posted
the following note this week on the Yahoo colonial coins
group, following a discussion of new books on U.S. Colonial
numismatics.  I'd like to second his motion - this group of
editors has done an absolutely marvelous job of publishing
top-notch research on this area.  -Editor]

The quality of our reference material is due both to the
authors AND the editors. Although we approach authors,
congratulate them, get them to autograph our books... we
need to appreciate the contribution of the editors. These
are not guys that just sit down and check for spelling and
punctuation mistakes - they review content and all aspects
of publications. So I would like to thank some editors

Mike Hodder, Angel Pietri and Dan Freidus, for being past
editors of the C4 Newsletter which brought a small group
of colonial enthusiasts into the organization we have today.
The C4N has gradually grown to what it is today, under
your direction!

Syd Martin and Roger Siboni, current editor and associate
editor of the C4 Newsletter. I don't have the words to
describe the product that we've all been receiving in our
mail boxes - you all receive it and I'll just let it speak
for itself. Thank them when you see them!

Al Hoch, Jim Spilman and Phil Mossman, for being past editors
of the Colonial Newsletter (CNL). CNL has been the platform
for colonial numismatic information since the 1960s. A
complete set of CNL, either in paper or on CD, is a prerequisite
for any colonial numismatic library, placed right next to
your Crosby.

Gary Trudgen is the current editor of CNL, which is being
published three times a year by the American Numismatic Society.
I have had the pleasure to work with Gary (and many on this page)
and I can say that he puts 100% inhis work. Gary's enthusiasm
and dedication are evident in every issue!

Lastly, we have Lou Jordan, Phil Mossman, Jim Rosen and Gary
Trudgen - the editors who worked on C4 publications, including
Syd's Wood's Hibernia book. They are currently editing another
work in progress. These guys make it happen! I could go through
several pages about what they do, but the quality of the books
C4 publishes would not be what it is without these guys.

Now there are other people in the hobby that deserve recognition,
such as Dave Bowers, Ken Bressett and many others, but I just
wanted to address the people involved with C4 and CNL today.
I'm always scared that I missed someone, so if I have, please
forgive me. The next time you're at a C4 Convention and get
a book autographed, look around, find the editors and ask
them to autograph it too.

My personal thank you to all the editors, past and present,
that work so hard! You guys make it happen!!! You guys ROCK!!!


A reader writes: "In the August 13, 2006 E-Sylum, Bob Gilbert
wrote that he wondered about the delay in releasing Volumes
2 and 3 of the Canadian Historical Medals by Charlton Press.
I reviewed all issues of E-Sylum since that date, but did
not find the answer.  I am still waiting on my own order."

[I'm not sure if we ever got an answer to this query.  Is
anyone familiar with this publication or have a contact at
Charlton Press?  -Editor]



E-Sylum reader Charles R. Hosch of Marietta, GA writes:
"I've created an Internet site which provides descriptions
of coin designs plus complete specifications for various
series of world coins and bank notes, plus many other items
of numismatic interest.

"The address is and contains many topics
including: ANA Convention Badges & Medals; World Coin
Designers, Modelers and Engravers; Commemorative World Bank
Notes; World Gold Proof Sets (1901-); Scandinavian Commemorative
Coins; Austria and Germany Commemorative Coins (1945-); Israel
Gold Commemorative Coins; Switzerland Commemorative Coins
(Including Shooting Festival Commemoratives, 1842-);

"Great Britain Gold Coins (1901-); Great Britain Maundy
Coins (1822-); Great Britain One Pound Coins (1983-);
Sovereign Military Order of Malta Modern Coins (1961-);
Coats of Arms on Coins of the World (1701-); National
Coats of Arms on World Bank Notes (c.1800-); Numismatic
Theme Commemorative Coins [Tabular Listing]; Olympic Games
Commemorative Coins and other Perennial Games [Tablular

"Reigning Monarch Portraits on World Paper Money (1961-);
World Commemorative Banknotes; Canada $100 Gold Coins;
Canada Commemorative Dollars; New Zealand Silver One Dollar
Coins; Austria Maria Theresa Thaler; Netherlands 50 Gulden
Commemorative Coins (1982-1998); Netherlands Proof Gold
and Silver Ducats (1985-); Royal Visit Commemorative Coins
[Tabular Listing]; Ibero-American Coin Series; Coins
Commemorating the States and Provinces of North America;
World Commemorative Coins (Selected Countries); and many
other topics.  NOTE: There are no coins for sale on this site."

To visit the Hosch web site, see:


Ed Snible writes: "Did the coin description copyright
lawsuit between Heritage and Superior ever get resolved?
As reported last year (e-Sylum v. 10 #7) Superior cataloger
James Jones was accused of describing coins using flowery
language he had previously composed when cataloging for
Heritage.  What kind of flowery language did the judge use
when composing his verdict upon this squabble?


[Good question - I haven't heard any more about this.
Can any E-Sylum readers fill us in?  -Editor]


NBS Life member #4 Joseph D. McCarthy writes: "One of
the books that I pick up copies of whenever they are offered
is the U.S. Coin Grading Guide by Brown and Dunn.  I have
noticed in the early editions, which seem to have many
printings, that the books came in different widths, different
heights, and different numbers of pages.  Is there any
reference work that has been compiled on the book?  Does
anyone know about the different versions?"

On a separate topic Joe adds: "Years ago I stopped in New
Jersey along the Delaware River and talked for a while with
an ex-coin dealer named "Brownie" - does anyone know him and
what became of him?  He told me he had hired a fellow to be
his shop manager while he was away at shows.  Once after
returning from an extended show trip he learned that the
fellow had taken everything he had and fled.

"Brownie" told me about the time a collector he knew stopped
in on the way back from a convention in Philadelphia and
proudly showed off the 1856 Flying eagle cent he had acquired.
The collector asked if "Brownie" had ever seen one.  Brownie
turned to another gentleman who was in the store at the time
and with a wink asked what he thought of it.  Reaching into
his coat pocket the other gentleman said, "Gee, it looks
just like these three I have".  He then told me that the
gentleman was a representative for a very well known collector
from Baltimore (if I remember right)."


Dave Ginsburg writes: "In reviewing the Mint Annual Reports
from the 1820s to 1861, I've noticed that while they contain
deposit and mintage information for the five US mints and the
New York Assay Office, there isn't any information regarding
the activities of the Assay Office in San Francisco, which
operated from 1851 to 1853.  However, Don Kagin, in his Private
Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States, states that the
Assay Office made monthly reports to the Secretary of the
Treasury and his book contains an illustration of a page of
a report from the National Archives.

"Does anyone know if any deposit or mintage information from
the Assay Office in San Francisco has been published?"


NBS Secretary-Treasurer David M. Sundman sent the following
note to Alan Weinberg in response to his submission in last
week's E-Sylum:

I really enjoyed your comments in regarding the FUN show and
your non-competitive exhibit in the January 20, 2008 E-Sylum.
I wasn’t able to make the FUN show, so I missed it.  I agree
with Wayne’s comments that collections should be shared, and
non-competitive exhibiting is a good option.  I am sure your
efforts and the nice mention in the E-Sylum will inspire
other collectors to follow your lead.



[On an unrelated matter I put dealer Wayne Herndon from
my northern Virginia numismatic group in touch with Alan
Weinberg this week.  Alan was curious (as was I) to learn
if Wayne was related to Captain Herndon of the S.S.
Central America.  Alan has an example of the Herndon medal
in his collection.  Below is Wayne's reply.  -Editor]

"All of the U.S. Herndons are believed to be related and
are descendants of emigrants from the early 1600s.  The
only exceptions are believed to be some former Herndon
slaves who took the Herndon name upon emancipation (as
was apparently quite common at the time).   One researcher
identified Thomas Herndon, 23, as having sailed on October
13, 1635 for St. Christopher's aboard the Amitie.  Other
researchers believe John and Rhodes Herndon were the original
emigrants having come in the early 17th century, one to
Virginia and the other initially to North Carolina before
also moving to Virginia.

As one can imagine, documentation from the 1600s is quite
scarce and difficult to establish reliable lineages.  The
first Herndon for which there is an authentic record is
William Herndon who patented lands in St. Stephen's parish,
New Kent County, Virginia in February 1674.  In 1677 he
married Catherine Diggs, the youngest daughter of Edward
Diggs, (Governor of Virginia in 1655).

Captain Herndon was a sixth generation descendant of William
Herndon.  I am an eleventh generation descendant of William
Herndon.  While we are both descendants of William, we are
from separate branches.  Beyond William, the only descendant
common to us both is William's son Edward.

Captain William Lewis Herndon had only one child, Ellen
Lewis Herndon.  Ellen married Chester A. Arthur but died
before he became president. Following the sinking of the
Central America and Captain Herndon's heroic death, there
was quite an outpouring in the D.C. area and a number of
things happened to memorialize him, including a the naming
of Herndon, VA.

The Arthur connection nearly provided the Herndon family
with another connection to numismatics.  Had Ellen lived
to become first lady during Arthur's tenure as president,
she would have been eligible for depiction on a first spouse
$10 gold coin.  However, the legislation provided that for
presidents who were unmarried or widowed, a contemporaneous
depiction of Liberty would appear on the coin.  Arthur alone
was subject to a second exception in the legislation.
Instead of Liberty, the act provides for suffragist Alice
Paul to grace the coin.  This is somewhat curious as Alice
Paul was not even born until the last few months of Arthur's

Here's a funny story. I visited the S. S. Central America
exhibit at the Atlanta ANA several years ago.  The exhibit
was part of a promotion to market the recovered gold and
it was heavily staffed with salespeople to speak to anyone
and everyone who visited the impressive exhibit.  As part
of the promotion surrounding the exhibit, they also had a
descendant of the first mate on hand to meet and greet.

I was predominately interested in the exhibit from a
numismatic standpoint being only a distant relative of
Captain Herndon at best.  So I wasn't thinking of Captain
Herndon when I walked up to see the exhibit.  As I approached,
one of the attendants greeted me with his name.  Out of habit,
I responded with my name. It seemed as if I had no more than
spoken my name than I was shoved up against the descendant
of the first mate and someone was yelling for a photographer.
The promotion-minded folks running the exhibit were all over
the opportunity to photograph the two 'relatives' together.


The title of the John W. Adams article in the next Asylum
"The Story Behind the Castorland Jeton" reminded Alan V.
Weinberg of the story of an old hoard.  He writes:
"Approximately 35 years ago Lester Merkin told me, at the
time confidentially, that the original French Family of
the Castorland medal  issue still had many hundreds of the
original in silver and was leaking onto the market several
pieces each year. Lester was handling them. So there may
be a hoard of hundreds of Castorland original silver strikings
out there in Europe."



David L. Ganz writes: "Here's a little known personal
story about Diane Wolf.  In the 1980's, at Long Beach,
I was at the Hyatt with my wife and then young son, Scott,
who must have been about five or six, and is now 26.  As
kids are wont to do, he was running around the lobby as I
registered, slipped on the tile, fell, and started crying.
Diane was also registering; she knelt with one knee on the
floor, leaned over Scott, and said things would be all right,
calming him.  I knew her only as Commissioner and a coinage
redesign advocate, finding out only later about her advanced
degree in education.  That day, she was Scott’s (and my) hero."

Dick Johnson writes: "I remember Diane Wolf. She often came
to New York City coin shows and she stopped by our booth a
time or two. She also came to my little office in Danbury
in the late 1980s. I don't know what influence she thought
I could have for her cause of redesigning American coins,
but perhaps she was trying to gain supporters one person
at a time.

"The opinion of her I created in my mind at that time is
confirmed by the biography recently published on her death.
I surmised she was a rich girl with lots of free time in
search of a cause. Self appointed, she chose changing the
design on circulating coins.  A harmless cause, perhaps
it was one she must have thought was obtainable.

"My belief at the time was that all five coins bore
portraits of famous Americans. People are interested
in people, ergo, I thought that the existing portrait
coin designs were satisfactory. I was certainly a candidate
for Diane Wolf to convert. But she never changed my mind
to her cause.

"At our office meeting she appeared overdressed, as always,
in designer clothes. Perfect makeup and coiffure, with
ample jewelry. Her band-box appearance tended to reinforce
her wealthy status. How out-of-place she was in our workroom
office of rolled up sleeves for medal cataloging. I was
polite, however, listened to her pitch and received her
literature. As a lobbyist, I thought, she was more show
and less substance.

"She was quite knowledgeable, though, about coin design
limitations, but not so about coin designers. I think we
chatted about Victor Brenner and what she would like to
see on the cent.

"After years of such activity, with Congress, the Treasury
Department and apparently anyone who would listen, I believe
she realized continued effort was futile. She seemed to drop
from the numismatic scene."



Alan V. Weinberg writes: "The Adams Academy medal bought
by jonathanb is .900 fine gold as are all gold medals
struck at the U.S. Mint. This fact was not mentioned in
the Coin World coverage of the eBay find and so most readers
may have assumed the medal was 14kt or less as are the vast
majority of gold school medals.

"As to the medal's rarity: In 50 yrs of collecting medals,
I've never seen another Adams Academy medal, and it is not
represented in the John Sallay  collection of American school
and academic awards. John Sallay (of Weston, Mass) has been
the #1 collector and researcher/author on American school
medals ever since he was a Harvard student many decades ago.
I've known him since then. John was not aware of the eBay
sale and was beside himself for missing it. I can say that
had John been aware of the medal's eBay sale, it would not
have gone to anyone else, plain and simple."



Alan V. Weinberg writes: "On the Sir Francis Drake's Voyage
world map medal: I had the pleasure of examining a near mint
prooflike white metal specimen in its original approx 2" x 2"
red plush case of issue at Dave Wnuck/John Agre's table at
FUN.  Its singular defect was slight rim oxidation.  Priced
at a mere $1500 it puts to shame 'rare' Morgan dollars and
double eagles that sell for 100 times as much.

"I'd seen and handled these medals before, but this was only
the 2nd or 3rd I've seen in its original case. This medal
has always been one of my favorites and fits well into either
an American or Foreign numismatic collection. I distinctly
recall that approximately 40-45 years ago in either an early
Numismatic News or Coin World there was an announcement of
an original silver hand-engraved Sir Francis Drake's map medal
(pictured in the article) selling in London at auction for
$50,000 US. I cannot recall if a  buyer was mentioned. Dave
Bowers and contributors to his and co-author Katie Jaeger's
"100 Greatest American Medals and Tokens" book recognize the
rarity/desirability of the original silver hand-engraved
Drake's map medal by listing it as #99 with no value - such
"low" ranking only because the medal is so rare and obscure
few know of its existence and so could not nominate it in
Bowers' survey.

"Whether the silver medal is unique or not, I don't know -
the Bowers/Jaeger book implies it is not.  At $50 grand some
40-45 yrs ago, one would think it is. I'd guess their book's
photograph came from the British Museum, as did a few others."

[The specimen offered by Wnuck/Agre is what initiated this
thread of discussion.  Bowers/Jaeger book states that there
are nine examples known in silver. -Editor]

Alan Weinberg adds: "I am aware of only that single $50 grand
specimen of the silver medal selling 40-45 yrs ago. For me,
this is one of the most desirable historical medals. Should
one appear at auction today in decent condition, I'd speculate
a price well north of $250K would be realized. I find it very
hard to believe there is anything approaching 9 extant, indeed
even 3 or 4."

Bill Malkmus writes: "A comment in the last E-Sylum (taken
from a web page) jolted me like chalk on a blackboard. In the
segment on the Drake voyage map medal, the quotation was made:
"In 1569, Mercator unveiled his famous projection, a new way
of making a map that was designed to show accurate distances
between various points."

"I have no doubt that you will get numerous comments on this,
but just in case everyone else thinks the same, and waits for
others to comment, let me state: The Mercator projection
shows accurate bearings between points, but famously distorts
distances increasingly (and indefinitely) towards the poles.
(The quote above was taken accurately from the website named,
but is unexpectedly in error.)

"Ironically, the Wikipedia site, which has been frequently
(and fairly) badmouthed, seems to have a very careful and
lucid description of the projection, at least on a quick glance."



[In a note published January 22, 2008, The Atlantic magazine
announced its move to free distribution of its back issue
archive.  I'm not sure how likely it would be to find numismatic
content there, but in a publication dating back to 1857, you
never know - there just might be a gem waiting to be discovered,
perhaps a story on famous sculptors of the day mentioning their
work at the U.S. Mint.  -Editor]

Beginning today, is dropping its subscriber
registration requirement and making the site free to all visitors.

Now, in addition to such offerings as blogs, author dispatches,
slideshows, interviews, and videos, readers can also browse
issues going back to 1995, along with hundreds of articles
dating as far back as 1857, the year The Atlantic was founded.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[An article on the History Museum in Sibiu, Romania was
published on the web Wednesday.  It includes a discussion
of the museum's numismatic collections.  Below are excerpts
from the article.  -Editor]

Part of the Brukenthal Museum, the History Museum in Sibiu
is hosted - how appropriate - inside the Old City Hall, a
magnificent building, which has proven to be the best choice
for the prestigious institution.

The History Museum has several large and rich collections,
divided into several chronological and thematical departments,
such as weapons and armours, medals, Romanian coins and bills,
archaeology and others. It is simply amazing to discover step
by step the history of the region, by means of tens of thousands
of exhibits, many of them presented in the permanent collection.

In the coins collection, for example, we find over 60.000
coins and medals, from all around the world. Samuel von Brukenthal
himself managed to amass about 17.000 coins and medals in his
life time, from ancient ones to then-contemporary. Over the
decades the collection has been enriched with other rare examples,
both discoverise from archaeological sites and donations from
other collector. Dacians, Roman Greek Austrian, German, you name
it, and it's here. Of great importance is the selection of
Transylvanian coins, especially those out of gold and silver,
as well as the Eastern European collection.

Also of interest is the collection of Romanian money bills,
put together in the interwar period and further completed after
1990, the oldest exhibits being some mortgage bills from 1877.
It is a history of the Romanian coins starting with the beginning
of the 20th century, and every type of coin and bill are presented
here, in great quality, that would make the envy of every collector.
The visit at the museum end with yet another interesting department,
the textile collection, with many pieces from the collection put
together by the Baron Samuel von Brukenthal, as well as several
donations made by local guilds and associations or collectors.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


Last week chess legend Bobby Fisher died, and that reminded
me that we had an unanswered E-Sylum question about the gold
coins Fisher received in payment for an important match against
Boris Spassky in 1992. Was Fisher paid in gold bullion?  Were
they ordinary gold coins or commemoratives related to the match?

To read the original article on Fisher's gold coins, see:
Full Story



Regarding last week's item from Paul Sherry about military
payment tokens used in Iraq, Joe Boling writes: "These are
pogs, the token coinage issued by AAFES (Army and Air Force
Exchange Service). They are not cardboard, but plastic. See for complete information about them. There
have been ten emissions so far. See also
Full Story
for a series of articles by Colonel (Doctor) Bill Myers about
them. Myers won the best of show exhibit award at FUN two
years ago with an exhibit of pogs, and gave a numismatic
theater program on them at this year's convention."

Tom Michael of Krause Publications writes: "I read in the
E-Sylum a report of new military chits, tokens, or what we
called in the Middle east Book, pogs.  We made a very
comprehensive list of all military pog style tokens up to
the date of publication for 'Coins & Currency of the Middle
East' and since then George Cuhaj has been keeping up with
new issues in the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money -
Modern Issues book.

"Eventually I think George intends to move them to the
Specialized Issues volume, but for now you can find full
listings of Military pogs in our SCWPM- Modern Issues."



Another female bald eagle might have her talons on his
heart, but rest assured, the love story between George and
Martha is not quite over.

The products of their union, their eaglets, are pictured on
a gold coin released this week by the U.S. Mint as part of
a three-coin set honoring the national bird.

When the coins went on sale last Tuesday, there was no mention
of George and Martha or of the construction workers on the
Woodrow Wilson Bridge project who named them. But follow the
artist's initials on the coins, S.G., to Arlington County
resident Susan Gamble, and her muse is clear.

"It just seemed they had to be immortalized, or at least I
had to try," said Gamble, who used photographs of the eaglets
to design the coins.

A master designer for the Mint and a self-described "bit
of a tree hugger," Gamble received the assignment for the
coins early last year and said her thoughts immediately
drifted to George and Martha.

The pair had lived on Rosalie Island, on the Maryland side
of the bridge, since the 1990s but made national headlines
two years ago when a younger female, making a move for
George, attacked Martha, seriously injuring her. Martha
recovered at a rescue center in Delaware and made her way
back to George but was euthanized months later after flying
into a tree or power line.

Gamble said that what struck her most about the birds'
story was the irony of their situation: that humans were
responsible for their dwindling numbers but were also trying
to help them. She remembered hearing that when Martha was
injured, bridge workers would leave fish for George.

Gamble's designs are on two of the three coins in the set,
and the eaglets appear on the $5 gold coin, which costs more
like $300. On the coin, a young bald eagle stretches its
wings as a sibling looks on from the same branch. Gamble
said the scene was modeled from two of Spears's photographs.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[In a recent article Numismatic News Editor Dave Harper
profiles Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., the most senior member
of Congress of Puerto Rican descent.  Serrano was instrumental
in passing the bill expanding the 50 states quarter program
to include the District of Columbia and the five insular
territories: American Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam,
Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands and the Commonwealth
of Puerto Rico.  Serrano also had a hand in the congressional
gold medal awarded to singer Frank Sinatra. The article is
available on the Numismaster web site - some excerpts are
below.  -Editor]

State quarters are now expanded from 50 states to include
the District of Columbia and the five insular territories:
American Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, Commonwealth
of Northern Marianas Islands and the Commonwealth of Puerto
Rico. The nine-year-old program (2008 makes what would have
been its 10th and final year) has a new lease on life.

Year 11 was signed into law by President George W. Bush on
Dec. 26, 2007, while aboard Air Force One en route to
Crawford, Texas. The measure was part of the omnibus spending
legislation that tied Congress up in knots since Thanksgiving.
The territorial quarter measure, though important to some
special interest groups, was incidental.

Section 622 of the 1,235-page bill is the operative one for
collectors. It contains a mere 756 words in the context of
a bill that contains some 279,154 words in all. But the words
are those that residents of Washington, D.C., have sought to
hear for 10 long years. Surprisingly, the leader to the
promised land was not Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.,
a longtime advocate - but a New York congressman, Rep. Jose
Serrano, D-N.Y.

How the coin provision remained in, together with the restoration
of "In God We Trust" to the obverse of the Presidential dollars
- removed from the rim of the coin - may have as much to do
with the resignation of Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., on Dec. 18
as anything else.

Some sources suggest that Lott has been the anonymous hold
behind the expansion of the state quarter program - to make
sure that the Marianas labor and immigration policies did not
change. There are almost a thousand Google references to Lott
and the Marianas, a 14-island chain in the Pacific.

This marked the sixth time the coin proposal had been before
Congress for a vote, but the first time that it passed both
houses. It has passed the House in each Congress, staring
with the 106th in 2000. It never made headway in the Senate.

"When the District and the four insular areas were inadvertently
left out of the 50-State Commemoration Coin Program Act, we did
not see any reason to hold everyone else up. We thought that
the act should proceed so that the 10-year period for
incorporating states could go forward because we had the
assurance of the gentleman from Delaware (Mr. Castle) that
D.C. and the insular areas would indeed be included. I knew
he would keep his word. There was never any doubt about that."

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


Dick Johnson writes: "A scientist in Japan, Mototsugu Suzuki,
a researcher at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s
Criminal Investigation Laboratory, has developed a way of
examining coins based on the sound they make. In effect, he
is studying the veracity of the age-old 'ring test' employed
by regular citizens and numismatists alike to test genuineness
of coins.

He published his method of testing in 'Forensic Science
International' -- reported in the January British publication
'Nature.'  In Suzuki’s method, coins slide down a slope and
then fall onto a brass block. The sound they make on impact
is relayed via a microphone to a computer.

His study of this acoustic test of coins was brought on by
a large number of counterfeit 500-yen coins (worth just under
US$5 each) in circulation. So many were found in cash dispensers
in 2005 that the coin was temporarily removed from use.

Suzuki stated: although the human ear cannot usually tell the
difference between real and fake, a computer can. Genuine
500-yen coins showed four distinctive peaks of natural resonance
frequencies in the 5-20 kilohertz range. This was not the case
for fakes; some fakes produced only three peaks, while others
showed four but at different frequencies to genuine coins.

For my own comments on ring test for coins I would offer:
Any small metal object will ring due to its internal structure.
Thus its alloy, thickness and any gas pockets will affect its
tone. Both cast and struck coins will ring, but with notes of
different pitch. A ring test can detect different metal
compositions, but not minute differences of alloy.

The use of computer analysis of ring tone resonance for one
coin may be useful but it would not be the same for coins of
other size, composition or thickness. An extensive database
of these tone profiles would be required for such full scale

To read the report in Nature magazine by Daniel Cressey, click on:
Full Story

[Thanks also to George Fuld for forwarding a copy of this
article.  -Editor]


[In the past we've discussed the virtual currencies of online
worlds such as Second Life.   For students of financial history
the lastest news from the online world may seem like déjà vu -
the abuses and collapse of the Second Life financial system
clearly echo the abuses and collapse over a century ago in
the real U.S. financial system.  Too many unregulated banks
operating without scrutiny provide a ripe environment for
abuse, and users of the virtual banks have been liberated of
up to $750,000 in real money.  -Editor]

In the real world, banks are reeling from the subprime-mortgage
mess. In the online game Second Life, a shutdown of the make-
believe banking system is causing real-life havoc for thousands
of people.

Yesterday, the San Francisco company that runs the popular
fantasy game pulled the plug on about a dozen pretend financial
institutions that were funded with actual money from some of
the 12 million registered users of Second Life. Linden Lab
said the move was triggered by complaints that some of the
virtual banks had reneged on promises to pay high returns on
customer deposits.

Second Life is an elaborate online world where players
create new identities for themselves -- images called
avatars. These avatars can own land, run businesses and
build homes. And there's a link to the real economy: To
buy things, players use credit cards or eBay Inc.'s
alternative payment service PayPal to convert actual U.S.
currency into "Linden dollars," which can be deposited
using pretend ATMs into Second Life's virtual banks.

The banks of Second Life were operated by other players,
who enticed deposits by offering interest rates. While
some banks paid interest as promised, others used depositors'
money for unsuccessful Second Life land and gambling deals.
Under its new banking rules, Second Life says only chartered
banks will be allowed -- though it isn't clear any real
chartered banks will operate in the virtual play world.

The shutdown has caused a real-life bank run by Second
Life depositors. Though some players managed to get their
Linden dollars out, others are finding that they can no
longer make withdrawals from the make-believe ATMs. As a
result, they can't exchange their Linden-dollar deposits
back into real dollars. Linden officials won't say how
much money has been lost, but a run on another virtual
bank in August may have cost Second Life depositors an
estimated $750,000 in actual money.

"There is not a whole lot that is fake about this," says
Robert Bloomfield, a professor at Cornell University's
Johnson School of Management. Mr. Bloomfield's own Second
Life avatar, named Beyers Sellers, hosts a pretend television
show in the online game about virtual economics.

Linden announced plans for yesterday's shutdown two weeks
ago, and since then Second Life players have been streaming
into the fantasy banks to withdraw their deposits, which
are convertible into U.S. dollars at a floating rate.
Yesterday, one U.S. dollar was worth an average of 269
Linden dollars, its typical exchange rate.

The collapse led to an outcry from depositors at Second
Life banks. Linden responded on Jan. 8 by announcing the
broader shutdown, claiming it would "protect our residents
and the integrity of our economy."

Linden essentially acknowledges that the financial services
being offered in its virtual society have evolved to the
point that they need to be regulated in the real world.

From now on, "proof of an applicable government registration
statement or financial institution charter" will be required
of anyone collecting deposits in Second Life, according to
Linden. The company insists it "isn't, and can't start acting
as, a banking regulator."

"If this is real money, there is an argument that you need
to follow real law," says Benjamin Duranske, a lawyer who
runs the Second Life Bar Association and is writing a book
on virtual law.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[The January 24nd, 2008 issue (No. 1587) of the MPC Gram, an
email newsletter for collectors of Military Payment Certificates,
published a short article by Jim Downey on advertising slogans
stamped on MPC notes.  As recently as last week we discussed
these types of slogans on U.S. paper money, but this was the
first I'd learned of such stamps on MPCs. Jim's article is
reprinted here.  -Editor]

Using United States currency for advertising purposes is a
violation of federal anti-counterfeiting laws.

Title 18, Section 475 of the United States Code makes it
illegal to ". . . impress[es] upon or attach[es] to any [such]
instrument, obligation, or security, or any coin of the United
States, any business or professional card, notice, or advertisement,
or any notice or advertisement whatever . . ."

This provision is pretty routinely violated.  I have quite a
few pieces of US currency which advertise websites and other
businesses.  Political messages also frequently make their
way onto US currency particularly in an election year.

In the run-up to the election of 1948, the use of MPC for
political advertising was so pervasive in Japan that the Army
issued an order recalling MPC carrying political slogans.  An
article in the March 28, 1948 New York Times indicates that SCAP
Headquarters issued an order calling in MPC containing political
slogans supporting and criticizing the candidacy of General
MacArthur for president.  The article states that most of the
slogans were supportive of MacArthur and identified that defacing
MPC in this manner was a violation of federal law



[It's not a pleasant thought, but according to a Reuters
article the banknotes we use and collect can host flu viruses.

Bank cashiers and others working with large quantities of
paper currency are vulnerable to catching various types of
flu from the germs living on notes, a Swiss researcher said
on Wednesday.

Yves Thomas, head of the National Influenza Research Centre
at Geneva University Hospital, said that flu viruses could
survive on banknotes from 24 hours up to 17 days.

"Our studies have convinced us that it is possible to catch
flu from banknotes, but the chances are very, very slim and
there is no cause for concern among the general population,"
he told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"All the same, bank employees and others who have to handle
large quantities of notes daily could be at risk," Thomas
said. "This could be reduced if they wear gloves, or even a
mask for those who have to examine currency closely."

Scientists have long known that various types of germs and
bacteria can survive on paper currency, but until now medical
experts have thought that flu only spread through small
droplets in airborne transmission.

But Thomas said his team found that some types of flu virus
could also survive and spread on everyday objects, like
doorhandles as well as banknotes.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[According to a news reports, today is the twentieth birthday
of the polymer banknote.  Happy Birthday!  -Editor]

The polymer banknote turns 20 on Sunday, with manufacturer
Securency International celebrating the release of the $10
note, which was released to commemorate Australia’s bicentenary
in 1988. Following the success of the $10 note, the Reserve Bank
released a full series—from $5 to $100 notes—between 1992 and

"Polymer banknotes were developed after high quality
counterfeits of the 1966 Australian decimal paper series
were detected in circulation.

The Reserve Bank worked with the Commonwealth Scientific
and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to develop
new banknote material with higher security and improved

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[George Fuld forwarded this item from The Times of London
about recently discovered gold coins of Carausius.  -Editor]

Two “extremely important” gold coins that shed light on a
little-known rebel Roman emperor from the 3rd century AD
have been unearthed by a farmer in the Nottinghamshire and
Derbyshire area. They relate to the Roman commander Carausius,
who declared himself Emperor of Britain around 286 or 287
after the Emperor in Rome ordered his execution. He was
overthrown in a coup d’état by his finance minister,
Allectus, in 293.

The coins were handed in to the Portable Antiquities Scheme
and moved to the British Museum. The scheme is facing a
freeze in funding, despite recording more than 314,000
discoveries that have revealed many new archaeological sites.
The farmer’s identity is not being revealed because
archaeologists are to explore the site.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[An article published this week notes that a museum was
able to reunite a group of important medals with their
accompanying paperwork thanks to an eBay auction. -Editor]

Eagle-eyed curators at the Royal Marines Museum in Southsea,
Hampshire, have reunited parts of a medal group belonging to
a Royal Marine killed in World War One, thanks to the
wonders of eBay.

The medal group’s original recipient, Private Robert Cosstick,
of the Royal Marines Light Infantry, was 32 when he died on
February 3, 1915. His ship HMS Clan McNaughton and all 277
people on board were lost in storms off the coast of Northern
Ireland, although the exact cause of the sinking was never

Private Cosstick’s medal documents had already been donated
to the museum by his granddaughter in 1995 and finding further
parts of Private Cossticks' medal group had almost been ruled
out before the lucky find on Ebay.

“The museum has always realised it needs to embrace all the
benefits of the Internet and reuniting this medal group
against all odds really does highlight this fact,” said
curator Ian Maine.

The complete set of Private Cosstick’s medals will now be
proudly placed on show in the museum’s medal room, which
already houses an impressive collection of over 8,000 medals,
including all ten Victoria Crosses earned by Royal Marines.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[In December we discussed coin and antiquity dealer Robert
Hecht.  Ted Buttrey wrote: "Robert E. Hecht was -- and still
is, in his 90's -- one of the most important con-men in the
smuggling of classical antiquities, including coins.  It was
he who conned the Metropolitan Museum into paying
$1,000,000 for the famous Euphronius vase, "found in Lebanon".
It was in fact from an Italian grave, and the Museum has now
agreed to return it to Italy.   According to news reports the
vase has now been returned.  -Editor]

The krater will now go on display in the "Nostoi: Recovered
Masterpieces" exhibition inaugurated last month in Rome,
where nearly 70 ancient artifacts -- most of them returned
by the J. Paul Getty Museum after a similar deal -- are
already on show.

"It's a wonderful day for us also. It's a victory for culture
and art," Mark Smith, cultural attache at the U.S. embassy in
Rome, told Reuters at the presentation.

"I think that as a result of these agreements that have
brought these wonderful works back to Italy, American and
Italian museums are going to be able to cooperate more and
more closely in the future. So it really is a victory for

The Met had bought the krater from Robert Hecht, an antiquities
dealer who is now on trial in Rome on charges of conspiring to
traffic in looted artifacts. The ex-curator of the Getty museum
is also a defendant in the trial. Both deny any wrongdoing.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story



In the January 6th issue I mentioned a lot in the recent
Heritage auction (Sale 454, Lot 3430), an "Archive of
Elizabeth Jones Appointment Documents and Production Artwork".
I was actually curious about the ownership of some of the
items, but was hoping one of our readers would comment so I
wouldn't have to be the lone killjoy.  I was particularly
unsure that the Mint would have let title pass to a production
plaster for a U.S. coin.  Apparently there have been questions.
According to an article by Cindy Brake in the January 28th
issue of Coin World, the lot has been pulled from the sale
"pending determination of ownership of several of the items
in the lot."



[The Rockport Pilot of Rockport, TX reported on the finding
of a mysterious coin at an archeological site.  -Editor]

Dr. Jim Bruseth, director of the archeology division at the
Texas Historical Commission, and deputy state historic
preservation officer, was the keynote speaker Friday at the
Texas Maritime Museum speaking about “Mysteries of LaBelle.”

Bruseth's knowledge about La Belle and her artifacts is vast.
He served as project director of the excavation and recovery
of La Salle's ship, in Matagorda Bay, in 1996-97.

More than one million artifacts were recovered.

He said there were 2,000 gold coins on the ship when sunk,
but there were none on La Belle when excavated.

There was, however, a Roman silver coin dated AD 69.

"How a Roman coin ended up on a French ship on the coast
of Texas is a mystery I'll never solve,” said Bruseth."

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[An article published this week in the Manila Standard
discusses Philippine banknotes and currency laws.  -Editor]

Numismatists (people who collect currency and bank notes)
are agog over an announcement that in commemoration of the
centennial of the University of the Philippines, our P100
banknotes will soon carry an image of the Oblation. The
Oblation, which is a sculpture of a man with face up and
arms stretched-wide symbolizing selfless offering of one’s
self in the service of the country, will be overprinted
on the P100 banknote.

Exactly where in the banknote the Oblation will appear is
still a well-kept secret, but it is something to look
forward to as it’s been quite sometime since our country
commemorated a national event through our banknotes.

Also recently, my friends and I got into a little tiff
with certain establishments over banknotes. Because we
work with a bank, we are familiar with certain policy
guidelines related to banknotes. It is disappointing to
note that even major establishments, such as those in SM
malls, don’t teach their cashiers basic information on
handling Philippine banknotes.

Our first tiff happened with a cashier of a restaurant who
gave us old and worn-out banknotes as change when she had
new notes in her register. This practice of keeping in
circulation old, worn-out, smelly notes is something that
truly does not make sense because the central bank is obligated
to do it. In fact, it encourages people to return old banknotes
so that these can be replaced with new, cleaner, crisper notes.

The standard protocol in major establishments should be to
collect and keep old notes, rather than circulate these, so
that these can be deposited at their bank at the end of the
day. Their bank, in turn, is expected to deposit these old
notes at the Bangko Sentral. The central bank then keeps
these for disposal. The standard procedure should be this:
Use old and worn-out notes to pay for purchases and receive
new notes as change. Cashiers should keep old notes and not
circulate these anymore. Those who don’t are simply lazy
or ignorant.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[The Telegraph of Calcutta, India published a story about
a local boy's quest for a museum to house his collection of
40,000 coin collection.  -Editor]

Thirteen-year-old Debi Prasad Mangaraj was happy to learn
that he was closer to his dream of setting up a children’s
coin museum, but less than what he expected to be.

The enthusiast coin collector with his heart set on a Guinness
record would have preferred his own state making the same offer
to him, especially since he made several attempts to convince
the Naveen government to help him out.

But, it was Narendra Modi from the far-flung Gujarat who
offered him a plot of land (to be identified by him) to set
up the unique museum.

The young numismatist has a collection of 40,000-and-odd
coins, as well as notes of some 130 countries and hopes to
enter the Guinness record books.

His collection includes coins from Australia, the UK, France,
Japan and the US, along with coins issued by the East India
Company in a period between 1800 AD and 1810 AD.

He also owns pennies belonging to the late 18th and early
19th centuries and a Peso from the mid-19th century.

His collection also includes pressed coins of both stone,
gold and earth with gods and animals, stated to be over
800 years old.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[A central Florida television station profiled the Highland
Mint, a local firm responsible for making the ceremonial
"coin" tossed to decide the opening kickoff of the Super Bowl,
American football's championship game. -Editor]

The Super Bowl was set Sunday night, with the wild-card New
York Giants meeting the 18-0 New England Patriots in the big
game in Arizona Feb. 3, but the Super Bowl cannot even start
without a company in Central Florida.

Highland Mint, based in Indian Harbour Beach, makes the coin
that referees toss to start the game.

It is the 18th year the Space Coast business has made the
super coin.

The process was more than a month long, and included making
four possible Super Bowl coins -- one for every scenario that
could come out of the AFC and NFC championship games.

With the Patriots and Giants in, the official coin was ready
to be sent to the NFL.

The three alternate Super Bowl coins would be destroyed to
prevent them from ending up on the collector's market.

After the big game, the coin toss coin will be sent to the
NFL Hall of Fame, where it will be on display with the 17
others made here in Central Florida.

Replica coins are already being sold by Highland Mint.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

To visit the Highland Mint web site, see:
Highland Mint web site


[A news report from Guyana notes the recent discovery of
an old barrel filled with counterfeit Guyanese banknotes.

Customs officers yesterday unearthed $14M in counterfeit
Guyana currency hidden among some items in a barrel which
had been sitting at the John Fernandes Wharf for almost
two years now.

The stunning discovery was made late yesterday morning
after a decision was taken to open up the barrel which
was shipped from London through the Harrison Shipping
Company in May, 2006 to an Essequibo Coast resident.

According to a Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) statement,
the counterfeit money and other articles which were sent
two years ago were discovered during routine duties at
the city wharf.

Sources said that the money was in numerous piles hidden
among items in the barrel which included pens, towels and
tools. As the customs officers removed the items from the
barrel, they discovered the money piles.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


While unrelated, the previous story about a barrel of
counterfeit Guyanese notes reminds me of something I
read this week in an article by the late Brent Hughes
in the January/February 2008 issue of Paper Money, the
official journal of the Society of Paper Money Collectors.
In "Collecting Confederate Currency Began Early" Hughes
writes: "I know of one barrel half full of Confederate
notes which survived until 1960 when one lucky collector
happened to discover it in an old grocery store building
in Petersburg, VA.  Because the barrel was relatively
light, the store owners over the years had assumed the
barrel was empty and it sat there for almost a century."


This week's featured web site is David S. Plowman's Coins
of Panama, suggested by NBS president John W. Adams.

  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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