The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 11, Number 10, March 9, 2008:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2008, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are David Deep, courtesy of Sam
Deep, and Kate Pennington of the Maine Antique Digest.  Welcome
aboard!  We now have 1,123 subscribers.

This week we open with a reminder about the current Lake Books
sale and communications from numismatists in Croatia and Argentina.
Next, we have an important query from the Acting Executive Director
of the ANA, and word that a new Executive Director has been chosen.

Responses to earlier articles include discussions of Federal
Reserve Notes autographed by the Treasurer or Secretary of the
Treasury, and a great account from George Fuld on the
deaccessioning of U.S. colonial coins from the Garrett collection.
Queries this week include topics such as California numismatist
Charles M. Johnson.

Other numismatic personalities discussed this week include
Joe Fitzgerald and Nikola Tesla. In the news we have word of
a major international acquisition in the numismatic field,
and medals, medals, medals: suspects in the New Zealand meal
theft, Prince Harry's new medal, and a controversy over
Germany's Iron Cross.

To learn what a polar bear devouring a man on a raft has
to do with numismatics, read on. Have a great week, everyone.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Fred Lake or Lake Books writes: "This is a reminder that
Lake Books 92nd mail-bid sale of numismatic literature closes
on Tuesday, March 11, 2008 at 5:00 PM (EST). The sale features
selections from the John M. Griffee library plus several
other consignors.  You may view the sale at

"Your bids are welcome via email, fax, or telephone until
the closing time. If you would like to check on bids already
made, I suggest a telephone call to us as it is a bit easier
to discuss bidding on the telephone rather than trying to
email back and forth."


[Publisher Zlatko Viscevic forwarded a release about a
new edition of  'Croatian Coins 1849-2008'.  -Editor]

The new issue of the Croatian coin catalog is in preparation
and will be available soon. Besides current Croatian coins,
this issue will include coins of Triune Kingdom of Croatia,
Slavonia and Dalmatia (famous "križar" coin), coins of
Independent State of Croatia (regular issue(s) and large
number of trial-strikes). Current coins section (Republic
of Croatia) will be expanded with information about new
issues and trial-strikes, newly discovered varieties and
errors.  The catalog is written in Croatian, English and

Technical data:
soft cover in color,
200 pages
size: A5
grayscale images
Price: 14,00 EUR (20,00 US$) + shipping

Contacts for reservations and orders; e-mail:; mobile: +385 (0)91 727 5837

More information you can find here: More Info



Cecily Horowitz, an Argentine student of history and
numismatics writes: "I represent a group of students who
are completing the secondary cycle in public colleges. It's
our purpose to create a society for the study of the
numismatics, and to exchange information with students
in other countries and to promote these disciplines in
younger students.

"We believe that science and culture are relatively
expensive, but that ignorance is very expensive.  Given
Argentina's difficult economic situation, funds for the
acquisition of any books are extremely limited and
practically null.  To develop this work programme I would
like to ask for donations of reference material on Greek
and Roman Imperial coinage.  Damaged or second hand copies
are acceptable - the conservation state of material is
not relevant for us.  Any donations may be shipped to:

"Dr. M. ISABEL GARGEVCICH, liaison officer
948 / 950  ACOYTE  AV.  -  OFFICE  837


Ken Hallenbeck, Acting Executive Director of the American
Numismatic Association writes: "In scrolling through the
latest E-Sylum I realized what a tremendous resource exists,
and perhaps some of the subscribers might help me with a
problem.  I'm about to retire again and leave the ANA's
executive director's job I've enjoyed for the past six
months, but I've got a project to complete.

"A short while back I studied our rare book room, and lo
and behold observed two sprinkler heads in the ceiling.
I was shocked.  What to do? What if one or both of those
things let go? - one or two million dollars worth of rare
books could be ruined.

"In thinking about the ramifications of removing them versus
a fire, I made the decision that it was more likely one of
those could break loose and ruin books than it was that a
fire could occur.  So I had them removed.  Now, I want to
protect the rare books with something that would stop a fire
and not ruin the books, and yet not be fabulously expensive.
ANA has severe budget problems that are well known.

"I'm hoping there might be something somewhat portable
and reasonable in price.  We had a halon system for our
computer room at one point in the past, but I understand
halon is no longer permitted.

"The rare book room has extremely limited access and
visitors are not permitted in, so fire is less of a threat
than a bad sprinkler head. But I don't want to go too far
without protection of some kind.  Thoughtful suggestions
will be seriously considered."

[On a related note, responding to a comment in Anne E.
Bentley's discussion of deacidification sprays for preserving
documents, Leon A. Saryan, Ph.D. (Toxicology Director for
Aurora Health Care) writes: "Neither toluene nor methanol
are, to the best of my knowledge, known to be carcinogenic,
but both are flammable.  Toluene can be toxic if large
amounts are inhaled, or if it is used in a poorly ventilated
area."  -Editor]



[The long search for a nontoxic Executive Director for
the American Numismatic Association is over.  The ANA
published a press release on Friday - here are some
excerpts.  -Editor]

Former banking and investment executive and life-long
coin collector Larry Shepherd has been named the new
executive director of the American Numismatic Association,
President Barry Stuppler announced today.

"We are very pleased that Larry has accepted our offer
to become the next executive director of the ANA," Stuppler
said. "He brings with him extraordinary business experience,
and has had an exemplary record of success throughout his
career. He is well-respected in the numismatic community
with a well-earned reputation for integrity. We look
forward to his leadership at this critical time in the
ANA's history."

Shepherd said he will begin traveling to ANA headquarters
in Colorado Springs within a couple of weeks to have meetings
with staff, and he expects to begin full-time duties by
mid-to-late spring.

"The ANA is an organization that is vital to the numismatic
community, but it's also an organization that has issues
and needs help," Shepherd said. "It will take hard work,
creative management and fresh ideas to get the ANA back on
the right track, and I'm motivated by those challenges."

[This is a welcome next step in the ANA's long road to
recovery.  Our best wishes to the new Executive Director,
and ANA staff and board.  -Editor]


Regarding last week's question about notes autographed by
the Treasurer or Secretary of the Treasury, John Mutch of
Boise, ID writes: "As part of the group representing the
Southern Idaho Coin Club at last summer's ceremony officially
introducing the Idaho state quarter, I knew Treasury Secretary
Henry Paulson would be on the program.  Alas, the coin club
was not on the program as we had hoped.  2007 was our 50th
anniversary as a club and we had obtained a slabbed PR-70
Idaho quarter to present to the People of the State of Idaho,
but we had to settle for a presentation to a Trustee of the
Idaho Historical Society after the main ceremony.

"Anyway, knowing Paulson would be there, I rounded up a
handful of brand new dollar bills with his signature printed
on them, just in case I would have a chance to get his
autograph on one.  At the end of the ceremony, he joined
Secretary of the Interior (and ex-Idaho Governor) Dirk
Kempthorne and Mint Director Edmund Moy as they passed out
quarters to the children in attendance.  I was able to get
his attention before he hustled out of the area and he did
sign three of the bills for me.

"So, in answer to your question, at least one of your
readers has gotten a signature in person, although I don't
really collect them."

Sam Deep writes: "At an ANA Convention in the 1990's -- I
don't remember which one -- I stood in front of Mary Ellen
Withrow as she signed a Series 1995 two-dollar bill for me.
Years later my grandson Josh received a printed (machine
signed?) version that's not too shabby. I gave mine to Josh
for his collection. It will appear in his exhibit on odd &
curious paper money at the Baltimore ANA."

David Ganz writes: "I do collect autographed notes of both
Treasury Secretary and the Treasurer.  But the one that is
most interesting to me is that dollar bill are received as
a gift from my younger sister, Dr. Sandy Ganz, a world-class
physical therapist.  A number of years ago, Sandy was given
Nicholas Brady, the Bush-I Treasury Secretary as a patient
at a New York hospital for special surgery, where she was
head PT. She gave him a copy of my book, "The World of Coins
and Coin Collecting", and he provided an autograph and a
letter of thanks to the older brother (me). Sandy has had
many other famous patients ranging from Pancho Gonzalez,
the tennis star, to Mrs. David Rockefeller, and many of
them received that book, but the unique signature only has
come from Secretary Brady."



[Responding to a topic broached earlier by Alan Weinberg,
George Fuld submitted the following account of his acquisition
of U.S. colonial coins from the Garrett collection
deaccessioned by Johns Hopkins University long before the
famed collection was liquidated at auction.  Many thanks
to George for sharing his recollections of this episode
in numismatic history. -Editor]

In the early 1960’s I became acquainted with Dr. Sara
Elizabeth Freeman, curator of the Garrett collections at
the Evergreen House on north Charles Street in Baltimore.
Evergreen House was the home of John Work Garrett and was
willed to the Johns Hopkins University on his death in 1942.
It is a beautiful mansion, still well preserved and used
for many events by the University.  Of course, the house
also housed the fabulous library of the Garretts and the
amazing numismatic collection started by T. Harrison Garrett
at the end of the nineteenth century.

In the early 1960’s I contacted Dr. Freeman and asked if I
could see some of the numismatic holdings at Evergreen.  I
made several visits there and at my request some of the
unusual Washington items were photographed.  Some of these
photos were included in the 1965 revision of William S.
Baker’s Medallic Portraits of Washington published by Krause
Publications.  Dr. Freeman gave me full access to look at
any of the Garrett coins, which I did on several occasions.
This was a mind blowing experience.

Dr. Freeman retired about 1970 after serving as curator at
the Evergreen House for over 20 years.  She was a bachelor
lady with a large standard poodle who spent his days in the
museum.  She maintained the catalog system of the contents
at Evergreen.  The only book published by her, to my knowledge,
is on medically related medals, mostly from the Foundation's

The next curator at Evergreen, starting in the early 70’s
was Carl W. A. Carlson.  I became acquainted with Carlson
but did not have much contact with him in his first years
at Evergreen.  Around 1973, I received a phone call from
Carl, asking if I would like to purchase some coins from
the Garrett holdings.

Frankly, I was incredulous!  At that time, my wife and I
were operating Dorge Approvals, but did not have the capital
to make a major purchase.  I contacted my good friend,
Richard Picker, to see if he was interested in pursuing
the purchase of some Garrett coins.  Of course, he was
delighted to have a chance to buy some Garrett colonials.
Before we made the pilgrimage to Evergreen, I contacted the
treasurer of the university to make sure that Carlson had
the authority to sell any Garrett coins.  If we purchased
coins, the payment was to be made payable to Carl Carlson —
a process that was okayed by the University treasurer.

Dick Picker was excited by this opportunity and agreed
that he would make the purchase, offering me a finder’s
fee on coins purchased.  Of course, Dick was most interested
in the colonial coin holdings.  Carlson’s ground rules were
that we could purchase any coin where there were two or more
of the type, not counting varieties.  Pricing was to be
based on the Redbook values, and basically we paid full
Redbook prices!

To list the colonials purchased at this time, consult Dave
Bowers' book on the Garrett collection.  In the listing of
colonials, there are asterisks indicating items sold before
the full collection was auctioned by Stack's and Bowers &
Ruddy.  The listing of purchased pieces follows:

[George attached a list of about fifty coins, which was
a bit long and repetitive for publication here - see the
Bowers book for details. Included were a NE Shilling.
Willow Tree Shilling, eight Oak Tree coins (sixpence and
shillings), six Pine Tree coin (sixpence and shillings),
a Maryland fourpence die trial and Maryland sixpence,
five Rosa Americana coins (halfpenny, penny, twopence),
a St. Patrick’s Silver Farthing, a Higley copper,
Virginia Penny, two Vermont coins, twenty-seven New
Jersey cents, and an Immunis Columbia.  -Editor]


Dick Johnson writes: "What a delight to open my Sunday
paper this morning to discover a feature article on the
Martin Waldseemuller Map. This map, created in Germany in
1507, is the first publication of the word "America."  It
is how we got our name for the Western Hemisphere. The map
is monstrous in size, four by eight feet, printed from
twelve blocks of carved wood and it was squired away in
a castle in southern Germany (in Waldburg-Wolfegg) for
over 400 years.

"The article brought back fond memories of the research
I did for a talk on Betts Medals at American Numismatic
Society's COAC conference May 15th, 2004. At the insistence
of ANS board member John Adams the theme of this conference
was Charles Wyllys Betts book 'American Colonial History
Illustrated by Contemporary Medals' and the vast series
of medals numismatists call Betts Medals. (Note to budding
authors -- write the definitive book on a medal series
and future numismatists might name the series after you!)

"Several Betts medals bore the name 'America.' So I reported
on how we got the name from that now 500-year old map. Martin
made up the word from the name of explorer Amerigo Vespucci.
Some say he thought  Vespucci discovered our continents, that
he was unaware or discounted Christopher Columbus discoveries.
Since Vespucci had sailed up and down the east coast of North
and South America he was given credit by Waldseemuller.

"Upon their return his crew communicated to the mapmaker the
details we see on the map. Later, it was said, he wanted to
change the name, but the name had caught on by then, to
remain forever, America.

"Well Martin's map was discovered in 1901. It is the only
surviving copy and it is in mint condition . It made news
all over America. So enterprising engraver-medallist Victor
David Brenner created a plaquette in honor of Vespucci and
displayed that map on the obverse. Somehow he got the ANS
to sponsor the issuance of that plaque and it was published
within months of that discovery (strike while the iron
is hot!).

"The Library of Congress wanted that map for their collections.
They call it America's birth certificate. Negotiations broke
down repeatedly. Germany even named it a national treasure
and prohibited its export. After overcoming seemingly impossible
obstacles, the current prince finally sold the map in 2003
to the LoC for $10 million. Today it is housed in a huge frame
filled with argon gas to preserve it, much like the cases for
the original Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

"The map is the centerpiece of the Library's exhibit
'Exploring the Early Americas.' It is kept in a shuttered
room with no sunlight permitted. It is on the second floor
of the Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington DC where it
may be viewed Monday to Saturday.

"Two internet sites detail more about the map and its
acquisition. That sliver of land on the left of the first
map is North and South America which Martin thought was
an island:
Full Story

"The history of the map and its purchase is at:
Full Story

"Here's a link to an image of the Vespucci Plaquette -
it is the sixth medal shown (scroll down) at this ANS
history chapter:
Full Story "


Alan V. Weinberg writes: "Regarding the late Milt Friedberg's
collecting obsession with coins, currency, and Teddy Bears,
Perhaps Milt didn't know of their existence but there are
approximately 17 different highly detailed (bear fur and
claws and all) Teddy Bear shaped encased cents produced
from 1907-1910 with mint red Uncirculated Indian and Lincoln
cents enclosed, advertising different merchants from the
East Coast to Indiana.

"I formed a collection of these which grew to eleven
different pieces which I sold intact to a well-known
Alton, IL collector a few years ago. They'd become too
rare and too expensive for me to collect any further,
due largely to eBay. Many are unique or near unique. The
rarest pieces now sell for upwards of $1,500.   I might
have inadvertently started the craze myself when some 15+
years earlier I started advertising in the Numismatic News
and Coin World classifieds to pay $100 each for any Teddy
Bear encased that I needed, thereby creating a
'Frankenstein monster'.



Alan V. Weinberg writes: "Although I have been long 'retired',
I enjoy traveling to the major shows as I always learn more
about numismatics and see things I'd never seen before or had
forgotten. Last week's Whitman Baltimore show was no exception.
I examined two startling pieces:

"The first was a mint state silver Bolen 'struck copy' of a
George Clinton NY colonial circa 1860 overstruck on a 1819
Bust quarter with much of the undertype, reeded edge  and
the 1819 date plainly visible. I believe it has now been
'placed' into a renowned New Hampshire cabinet. Its prior
pedigree was the Stack's John Ford XIV sale, May 2006.

"The second was a superb slabbed 'Specimen 67' fully prooflike
copper Washington Born Virginia which sold in the pre-Baltimore
show Stack's sale to Tony Terranova for $172,500 total with
John Agre of Wnuck/Agre the underbidder.  Tony was offering
it at a fair markup and, indeed, had been prepared to pay what
he is asking. Like a proud Poppa, he was allowing serious
numismatists to examine it and the universal reaction was

"Its prior pedigree had been Stack's 1984 Richard Picker
auction at $8,500 - to Tony at that time. I had attended
the Picker sale & had acquired his superb 1792 Washington
Getz copper pattern cent, underbidding the Born Virginia
in 1984. Such treasures are priceless and once in a generation
opportunities, as is the startling story of Picker's late
1970's acquisition of the 'proof' Born Virginia. But
that's another story..."


Bob Knepper has two questions for our readers. He writes:

"What, if any, book or website covers Danish pattern coins
and includes pictures?  I have "Danske Provemonter" by Gert
Posselt but that covers only 1983 to 1989.  If there is such
a book, where can I buy or borrow it?

"Is there any book or website that brings "Numismatic
Bibliography" by E. E. Clain-Stefanelli more up to date?"

[Perhaps one of our readers can help identify a reference
on Danish patterns.  As for an update to the Clain-Stefanelli
numismatic bibliography, I'm not aware of anything outside
of the ongoing American Numismatic Society 'Numismatic
Literature' series.  The sheer size of the field (evidenced
by the tiny print and huge pagecount of the 1985
Clain-Stefanelli work) would lend itself to a web-based
publication in the future.  Has the ANS 'Numismatic
Literature' series already gone all-digital?  I recall
reading something about that.  -Editor]

Bob adds: "Here's another question related to numismatic
bibliography: How can I determine the latest editions,
in or out of print, of various numismatic books, particularly
the Whitman books?"

[Bob checked with Whitman and was told they had no such list
of their own in and out of print books.  While the editions
of their latest offerings could be determined by reading the
company's latest product catalog or web site, things get murky
when titles go out of print.  With none to sell the publisher
has little incentive to maintain a list.  -Editor]


Michael Knight writes: "I am a British collector of books
relating to British tokens, and I am keen to find out as
much as I can about previous owners of the books that I
add to my library.  One recent acquisition was previously
owned by a American active in the 1960's, so I'm hoping
that readers of the E-Sylum may be able to help me out
with some information.

"The book in question is James Atkins 1889 work on 'Tokens
of the Possessions and Colonies of the British Empire'.  It
has the book label and stamp of 'Charles M Johnson 3521 Vista
St Long Beach 3 Calif'.   I know that he was an American
Numismatic Association governor in the 1960's, and his books
were offered by George Kolbe in the early 1980's, but does
anyone have any biographical information on him such as the
year he was born and died, when he joined the ANA, and what
he did for a living?  Also, was this book featured in a Kolbe
sale?  Any information would be much appreciated."


Dave Bowers writes: "In connection with some research I am
doing on obsolete bank notes of the Massachusetts district
of Maine and, after March 15, 1820, the new state of Maine,
I would like to buy or borrow any copies anyone may have of
the Annual Report of the Bank Commissioners of the State of
Maine, through and including 1868. I would be happy to "rent"
these if desired. Dave Bowers, Box 539, Wolfeboro Falls, NH
02786. E-mail at "


Regarding Roger Siboni's note on the later Michael Weller,
David W. Lange writes: "Just a little correction: There is
no San Francisco Numismatic Club. The city has a San Francisco
Coin Club, the Pacific Coast Numismatic Society and the San
Francisco Ancient Numismatic Society. I believe it's the
latter group to which Mr. Weller belonged."

[Roger was quoting the San Francisco Chronicle, and he
sent them a correction.  Here's a link to a San Francisco
Chronicle obituary of Michael Weller. -Editor]

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[By the way, David has published the first issue of his
new newsletter, "Coin Board News", which was sent out last
week with his second price list of vintage coin boards.
He reports that nearly half of the listed boards sold within
a week.  It's good to know that there is serious interest
in this once-obscure area of the numismatic hobby. -Editor]


Wayne K. Schroll writes: "The 2009, six quarter-dollar coins
to be issued by the U.S. Mint (District of Columbia and the
five United States Territories) are not part of the 50 State
Quarters Program as stated in the Washington Post articles,
which they sometimes refer to as the "50 States coin program".
These six coins comprise 'The District of Columbia and United
States Territories Quarter Program', a new program from the
U.S. Mint.

The following links from the US Mint are clear:
Fifty States Quarters Program
DC and Teritories

"Philosophically speaking, I have to wonder about the choice
'Taxation Without Representation', when in fact the popular
colonial slogan coined by Boston's Jonathan Mayhew was
'No Taxation Without Representation'.  The difference seems

[These programs are closely linked in the public eye, but
it is surprising that the Washington Post would have gotten
it wrong.  I had to reread the article before I caught the
reference.  Earlier in the article the report called the coin
simply, the "soon-to-be-minted D.C. quarter".  I was careful
to put the word "state" in quotes in my introduction.  But I
have a feeling that correcting the public and the media on
the distinction is as fruitless as correcting use of the word
"penny" in reference to the U.S. cent.  We feel obligated to
do it, yet come away with a headache from repeatedly bashing
the same target again and again.

Thanks for pointing out the origin and nuance of the proposed
taxation slogan.  I guess one could argue that in D.C. today
residents are already IN a "state" of Taxation Without
Representation, and that the slogan is meant to call attention
to their plight.  "No Taxation Without Representation" would
be more of a call-to-action slogan than a situation description.



[The following press release was issued jointly by Spink
and Smythe on Friday March 7. -Editor]

Spink, the world's leading auctioneers of Coins, Stamps,
Medals and Banknotes, Bonds and Share Certificates, based
in London and established 1666, has acquired R.M. Smythe &
Company, specialists in Antique Stocks and Bonds, Banknotes,
Coins, and Autographs, based in New York City and established
in 1880. Both Spink and Smythe are known around the globe for
their illustrious histories, impeccable reputations and
unparalleled expertise. The merging of these two companies
is the next logical step in line with Spink's strategy for
the future and will create the first truly global, fully
integrated, collectables house.

Spink is pleased to announce that John Herzog, owner of
R.M. Smythe & Company since 1967, has become a shareholder
in Spink. Mr. Herzog will act as Chairman Emeritus of Spink
USA and will participate in the development of the combined
entity which is valued in excess of $100million by this deal.
Mr. Herzog stated, "I could not think of a better company to
acquire Smythe. My wife, Diana, and I have been at Smythe's
helm for 40 years, and have tremendously enjoyed building
the business and working with clients and collectors. I look
ahead with great excitement to the opportunities presented
by this joining of forces."

Since their founding in 1880, R.M. Smythe and Company has
developed into one of the world's premier auction houses,
specializing in Antique Stocks and Bonds, Banknotes, Coins,
Autographs and Photographs. In 2007 Smythe hosted six major
auctions setting record prices for historical autographs,
currency, coins, stocks, bonds and antiques.

To Spink this deal brings with it an even more prominent
position in the American market following the recent
acquisition of Shreves Philatelic Galleries. In America,
as is already the case in Europe, Spink will continue to
operate as a strong competitor in the world of collectables
with a boutique approach to the business. In 2007 Spink was
already number one globally for stamp auctions. In 2008,
Spink USA will strive for the same prestigious position in
all categories in which they deal and auction. The
acquisition of Smythe brings them closer to realizing
this goal.

Olivier D. Stocker, Chairman and CEO of Spink, stated
"This acquisition is really a powerful match. It instantly
creates a leadership position for Spink in Banknotes,
Bonds and Shares and Worldwide Coins. We believe it is
the perfect strategic move to better service our clients
and continue to obtain the best results for them."


I hear dead people.  No, I'm not crazy - I'm just a researcher.
And audio tapes are great tool for researchers.  Lately I've
been researching my family's history and this weekend I
listened to a cassette tape I'd made on an afternoon back
in January 1985.  I sat down that day with my grandmother
and her sister and asked them to tell me about their parents,
relatives, and their lives.   Both passed away years ago and
it was a bit eerie to hear their voices again.  But some of
the stories are priceless and I'm excited to be able to capture
them for the benefit of our children and future generations
of our family.

I also listened to a tape I'd made years ago of a phone call
with Abner Kreisberg.  I'd called to interview him for an
article I was writing for The Numismatist on John A. Beck
and the fabulous Beck collection which Kreisberg auctioned
in the 1970s.

So who will help capture numismatic history for future
generations?  NOW is always the best time to record memories
of our elders.  My family history tape bounced around with
me for years, together with a group of old family photographs.
I was too busy with my career, wife and kids and hobby to do
much on our family history.  But I kept the material safely
at hand, and a few months ago I finally started the project
in earnest.  I've been interviewing my 80-year-old mother,
a 91-year-old great aunt, other relatives and elderly family
friends.  It's coming together nicely.  But the project could
have been sunk before it got started if I haven't captured
key material when I had a chance.   NOW is the time to
interview our hobby elders and capture their knowledge and
experience before it's gone forever.

I made a quick trip to Pittsburgh this weekend to visit my
mom and work on the family history.  On my way back this
morning I stopped to see Tom Fort and his family.   Tom's
an old friend and neighbor of mine and a fellow member of
the Western Pennsylvania Numismatic Society and the Numismatic
Bibliomania Society.  For several years he was the Editor of
our print journal, The Asylum.  It was great to sit and chat
for a while and trade hobby news and gossip.

I had a pleasant drive back home to Virginia, but nothing
new to report in terms of numismatics.  Are there no numismatic
titles on Book on Tape?   I did spend a "Where's George" dollar
bill along the way, though.


[Police in New Zealand have identified suspects in the
infamous theft of rare Victoria Cross and other medals
from a military museum.  -Editor]

Two of the men believed to be key suspects in the Waiouru
war medals theft have appeared in court on unrelated fraud
and burglary charges.

Mary Kennedy, the lawyer for one of the accused, has been
replaced with Jesse Soondram who is acting on instructions
from Chris Comeskey, the lawyer who negotiated the return
of the stolen war medals and the $300,000 reward.

The two accused will be back in court in April.

The medals, worth several million dollars, were taken
from the Waiouru Army Museum in a daring smash and grab
raid early on Sunday, December 2.

Among the haul the thieves took nine Victoria Crosses -
including Charles Upham's Victoria Cross and bar for
extraordinary bravery in combat in World War II - two
George Cross medals and one Albert medal.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[Part of the reward for the return of the medals was
fronted by Lord Ashcroft, the leading collectors of Victoria
Crosses.  Part of Ashcroft's collection will be displayed
in London later this year. The following is taken from a
press release issued by Spink. -Editor]

Spink, in association with the Ashcroft V.C. Trust, is
proud to announce that they will be hosting an exhibition
of fifty Victoria Crosses from the most important collection
of these Awards ever formed.

Britain’s largest display of the world’s highest and most
prestigious Decoration for Gallantry for over half a century
will be open to the General Public in Spink’s Main Gallery,
16th-25th April 2008. The Exhibition features Crosses,
together with how they were won, from the Crimean War to
the Second World War, encompassing 15 different armed conflicts.

Lord Ashcroft stated, “I am delighted to be co-operating
with Spink, the world’s oldest medal dealers, by loaning
them a selection of Victoria Crosses for their forthcoming
exhibition in April. It is anticipated that the entire
collection will be available for permanent public display
in 2010 but, in the meantime, I hope that this Spink
exhibition will provide a worthy foretaste of my aim to
celebrate and commemorate ‘the bravest of the brave’
from our history.”


[Britain's Prince Harry made the news last week for NOT
making the news.  A rare press embargo had suppressed
stories of the royal's deployment to Afghanistan.  When a
blogger broke his cover the government pulled him back home.
Now he and his fellow soldiers will get a rare treat -
they'll receive their service medals from the Queen herself.

In an extremely rare move, The Queen has agreed to present
Prince Harry and his fellow soldiers with campaign medals
for service in Afghanistan. According to reports in the Sun
newspaper the 81-year-old monarch will do the honours at
an hour-long awards ceremony at the Prince's barracks in
Windsor Castle.

She will officiate as hundreds of soldiers in the Household
Cavalry regiment mark their return from the front line with
a procession through the Berkshire town.

"She knows how much her grandson wanted to come out to
Afghanistan and the job he signed up for," said an Army
source. "It will be a proud moment for them both."

Since September 11, 2001, all soldiers serving in Afghanistan
on Operation Veritas have been given the medal bearing the
Queen's head.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[In quick order this week, Germany announced that it
was reviving the classic Iron Cross medal under a new
name, then in face of a storm of protest revoked the
decision. -Editor]

Germany is to reintroduce the Iron Cross for bravery
which Hitler was awarded during WW1 - but it won't
call it that.

The Fatherland's answer to the Victoria Cross of Britain
- awarded for gallantry in the field - dated back to 1813
when Prussia was at war with Napoleon.

In recent years, thousands of German graves in the former
Soviet Union have been desecrated by looters digging up
the corpses of the fallen to rob them of their medals to
sell on the black market.

They were the last warriors to get them; with defeat in
1945 and the collapse of Nazism, the Iron Cross went
into history.

Now Secretary of Defence Franz Josef Jung said Germany
will bring back a medal for "unusually courageous acts."

Nato allies of Germany may be bemused by this: the country
refuses to fight in Afghanistan because of political and
voter opposition at home and hasn't fired a shot in anger
since the Red Army stormed Berlin 63 years ago.

Just how the new medal will look hasn't been decided. Nor
has the name for the award, as any mention of Iron Cross
would be deemed far too emotive.

A defence ministry source said: "Hitler won the Iron Cross
first class in WW1 and we cannot have accusations that we
are bringing back something that was revered by him. He
regarded his medal as the high mark of his life before he
gained power as dictator of Nazi Germany."

German president Horst Koehler had to agree to the new
medal which will be struck later this year after a debate
that has dragged on for nearly a decade of a way to honour
brave servicemen and women.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

The German government was yesterday forced to scrap plans
to re-introduce the Iron Cross, after opponents said the
military medal still carried the "burden" of association
with Nazi atrocities.

The medal, the equivalent of the Victoria Cross in Britain,
was established during the Napoleonic Wars to reward bravery
and valour of officers and enlisted men alike.

But its reputation was tarnished by the Nazis, who added
a swastika to the design, linking it to atrocities in the
Second World War. It was abolished in post-Nazi Germany.
On Tuesday the Defence Minister, Franz Josef Jung, backed
a campaign to re-introduce the cross for valour in combat
in flashpoints such as Afghanistan. Currently, there are
only medals for service.

But within 24 hours the ministry reversed its support after
the move led to a public outcry, with critics claiming the
Iron Cross was too reminiscent of the Nazi era. "We are not
thinking of bringing it back, though we do want to introduce
a medal to honour soldiers who show courage," a spokesman said.

A source from the ministry suggested a compromise solution
could create a new medal, which would, however, resemble
the Iron Cross.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[Sebastian Heath of the American Numismatic Society posted
a note about his in-process research on numismatic images
of dining in the Roman Empire.  It's lengthy, but here's an
excerpt from the introduction.  -Editor]

Dining is defined very broadly and the objects listed below
may well have been used in religious activities as opposed
to daily meals. There is no need, however, to draw a very
strong line between religion and daily life so that the
objects collected below do all bear upon the issue of dining
when the group is taken as whole.

The importance of empire extends beyond merely the definition
of the chronological bounds of the study, which at the current
time focusses on the second and third centuries. Roman imperial
coins, as well as most provincial issues, usually bore images
of the current emperor and/or his family so that they are
inherently "imperial" objects. Coins also have reverses whose
legends and imagery can be understood to communicate themes
of imperial propaganda, though the efficacy of this communication
is a hotly debated topic in the field of ancient numismatics.

Accordingly, when possible the list below will make clear
which image, imperial portrait or reverse message, is
displayed or reproduced. Doing so can make a small
contribution to the problem of the extent to which numismatic
imagery was actively examined and responded to by ancient
viewers. Preliminary conclusions along these lines are made
during the course of presenting the relevant objects.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[An alert reader forwarded this interesting account of
an incident on the Arkansas River near Little Rock, AR
in 1840.  The steamboat Cherokee was carrying $100,000
in cash when an explosion sank the boat and spilled the
cash ashore.  -Editor]

In December 1840, the Cherokee carried as a passenger
Capt. William Armstrong, the superintendent of Indian
Affairs for the western tribes. Armstrong had traveled
to New Orleans to secure a payment for the Cherokees in
accordance with their treaty with the federal government.
The payment of more than $100,000 was to be made at
Fort Gibson.

The paper money making up the bulk of the payment was
sealed in watertight kegs. An additional amount in gold
and silver coins was locked in two strongboxes and kept
in the clerk’s office.

After the steamboat had passed Little Rock and was 60 miles
upriver of that town, the Cherokee’s boiler exploded.
Tragically, some 15 crew and passengers were killed and
several others were wounded. The boat was torn apart by
the explosion, and within an hour sank in the Arkansas River.

Capt. Armstrong reported to his supervisor that the box of
gold was blown onto shore, split open and the coins were
spilled about. Armstrong estimated about $90 worth of coins
were lost. The box of silver coin, dimes and “half-dimes,”
was blown onto the bow of the boat and virtually disintegrated.
Armstrong scrambled to retrieve all the change he could and
estimated he saved all but about $50.

The kegs holding the paper money fell to a lower deck of
the boat, but because they had been secured with iron hoops
they did not break apart. None of the paper money was lost.
Armstrong, however, was forced to wait several days at the
site of the explosion, guarding the money. It was a great
relief to him when another steamboat arrived to carry the
retrieved funds on to Fort Gibson where they were distributed
to the Cherokees gathered there.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[Students at Rider University were treated to a lecture
on the history of counterfeiting by author (and E-Sylum
subscriber) Stephen Mihm.  -Editor]

Counterfeiting was made easy and understandable for students
on Monday, when the History Department hosted the 16th
annual Emanuel Levine Lecture.  This year’s speaker, Dr.
Stephen Mihm of the University of Georgia, spoke on his
book A Nation of Counterfeiters: Capitalists, Con Men and
the Making of the United States.

“We don’t think about what’s on our money, because we don’t
look at our money,” Mihm said. “But there was a time when
money was the subject of intense scrutiny.”

He added that if a person was caught counterfeiting money
today, he or she would face significant jail time. Back
then that same person wouldn’t be “punished with the same

The problem with counterfeiting was that it didn’t usually
come from within the country. There was a famous spot just
above the Vermont border in Canada where the fake money
came into the country. The spot in question was popular
because it was the area that Canada and America argued over
where the border between the countries lay.

Since there were so many charter banks going bankrupt and
some that never intended to cash in the bank notes,
businessmen were suspicious of bank notes in general.
According to Mihm, some businessmen had admitted in court
that they would rather “receive a counterfeit bank note
from a good bank than a real bank note from a bad bank.”
They knew it would be easier for them to pass the
counterfeit to someone else.

The next step in the country’s effort to try and put a
stop to counterfeiting was a printed paper called the
Counterfeit Detector. When counterfeits were found,
descriptions of them were printed for people to be aware.

This did not stop the counterfeiters. For instance, once
they printed a dozen notes with a horse with three legs.
When the Counterfeit Detector published that, the
counterfeiters printed thousands with the fourth leg added.

Counterfeiters were so devious that they even printed
counterfeits of the Counterfeit Detector.

It wasn’t until the Civil War that counterfeiting came to
a “crashing, resounding halt” Mihm said. The government
printed money for the soldiers using a green back because
it was hard to counterfeit. Charter banks were given the
option of giving up their state charter for a federal charter
and issuing notes that looked the same across the country
with different bank names or losing their charter completely.

While the cover to Mihm’s book looks intriguing with its
copy of a bank note, the paperback will probably have a
different cover, he said.

A friend told Mihm that the bill on the front of his book
was too close to the actual size and “technically your book
is in violation of federal law.”

During all his research, he came across some unique designs
on bank notes, ranging from scantily clad women to one of
his favorites, a polar bear devouring a man on a raft.

With those designs, no wonder people looked at their
money more.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

[Of special interest to numismatic bibliophiles is the
discussion of Counterfeit Detectors.  So which Counterfeit
Detector was published by counterfeiters?  -Editor]


[Arthur Shippee forwarded this NPR story with the
latest on Spain vs. Odyssey Marine. -Editor]

Lawyers for the Kingdom of Spain and a treasure hunting
company based in Tampa, Fla., square off in federal court
over what may be the most valuable shipwreck ever found.

The company, Odyssey Marine, which recovered the treasure
last spring, is fighting to keep information about the
find secret — to preserve the site from unscrupulous
treasure hunters.

Spain believes the estimated half-billion dollars in silver
and gold coins may be its property and that Odyssey Marine
is withholding information that may show that to be the case.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


Most of our readers collect coins and other numismatic
items, but few get to actually design them.  One such
subscriber is Joe Fitzgerald, designer of the recent
Thomas Jefferson nickel portrait and Ocean in View reverse.
I got to know Joe a couple years ago when I arranged for
him to speak at a Coins4Kids session at a PAN show in
Pittsburgh, at which time I signed him up for an E-Sylum
subscription.  He writes: "I've been enjoying The E-Sylum
that ever since and will forever be grateful. As a certified
Anglophile and devotee of London theater, I especially
enjoyed reading about your London adventures."

Joe has both collected coins and done artwork for most of
his life. It was that combination which first drew him to
the U.S. Mint's Artistic Infusion Program. Upon retiring
from his full-time day job as Art Director for the National
Library of Medicine two years ago, he was thrilled to be
able to devote more time to both of those interests.

Over the years, his primary collecting interest has been
Roman coins, particularly those of Caracalla.  He writes:
"What particularly fascinates me is his that metamorphosis
from a sweet looking little boy to a cruel and vengeful
tyrant is so beautifully portrayed on his coinage."

"My retirement has also allowed more time for reading,
particularly about the French Revolution, another area
of interest. This has, perhaps predictably, gotten me
interested in related coinage. It's a shame that the
income narrows down as the interests widen.  Since doing
some genealogical research decades ago I have also been
in love with the west of Ireland and have made several
recent trips."

Retirement has also allowed Joe to spend more time on
his primary interest, painting. Landscapes have always
been Joe's favorite subject since, as he puts it, "no
tree has ever bitched about its likeness."

Joe is having a one-man show of paintings of the west
of Ireland at a Washington, D.C. gallery (Foxhall Gallery,
near American University) from March 3 - 31.  For more
information, see:
Full Story




[In addition to our famed subscribers, we sometimes discuss
famous personalities in the numismatic hobby. We've profiled
actors and authors who collect, and this short item found
on the web mentions a famous inventor who was also a numismatist.
Can anyone tell us more about his collecting interests?

It is well known that many famous people - rulers, scientists,
artists... had been interested in numismatics. Starting with
Roman Emperors Augustus Octavian and Hadrian, up to Italian
king Victor Emanuel III and Egyptian King Farouk and up to
famous poets Petrarca and Goethe etc. Among them was also the
famous scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla, a Serb born in
Smiljan, Lika, in 1855, died in New York in 1943.

Tesla lived and worked for a long time in Colorado Springs,
now the seat of the headquarters of the American Numismatic
Association. In 1900, when Tesla moved to Long Island due to
the construction of the giant Power Plant for J.P. Morgan,
he had officially became the member of the American Numismatic
and Archaeological Society. Detailed articles about Nikola
Tesla as numismatist have been published by Edward C. Rochette
in his book The Other Side of the Coin, and in the Numismatist
Vol. 101, no. 1, under the title The Man Too Soon for His Time.
Nothing is known however about Tesla's numismatic collecting
interests, nor about the destiny of his collection.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[Just when you thought U.S. politics had reached a zenith of
absurdity, along comes something that has you mouthing "what
the ..." all over again.  A protest group is planning an "event"
with a numismatic connection during this summer's Democratic
National Convention in Denver, CO.  -Editor]

Showing unintended humor as well as a lack of understanding
of gravity, some leftwing protesters have come up with a novel
plan to redistribute wealth in the United States.

They plan to levitate the Denver Mint.

That may sound odd, but this won't be the first time that
activists have used levitation politics. During one of the
anti-Vietnam war protests in Washington D.C., a group of
passionate, if not particularly intelligent, leftists called
for colleagues to rally round the Pentagon and levitate it.
Most of those protesters were financially secure and college
educated, but apparently had overlooked any science classes
in their studies.

Flash forward 40 years. Despite the soaring rhetoric of Sen.
Barack Obama, some things never change.

Contemporary leftists are still protesting, but they have
changed their levitation targets. During the 2008 Democratic
Convention in Denver, some protesters say the Denver Mint
should be lifted off the ground.

Alas, for the protesters, the physics of levitation and the
laws of gravity haven't changed in 40 years. Despite all the
mental energy expended in 1967, the Pentagon stayed on the

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

[The event is planned by a group calling themselves "Re-create
68!".  It's scheduled for 5pm August 25, 2008. Here's how they
describe it on their web site. -Editor]

It's time to redistribute the wealth. Between security and
corporate pay-offs, the DNC will cost over 100 million dollars
for a party. We think the people deserve that money. Join us
as we encircle the Denver Mint (where U.S. currency is produced)
and use our collective power to raise the mint building in the
air and shake the money out of it for the people. Don't forget
a sack to put all of your loot in.

-Bring noise makers, energy, spells, magic, costumes anything
that gives you power, we will need it!

To visit the Re-create 68! "Shake Your Money Maker" event page, see:
Full Story

[Word has it that representatives from the American Numismatic
Association in nearby Colorado Springs will be deployed with
butterfly nets at strategic locations to catch those cornerstone
coins as they fall out. -Editor]


[Everyone is going green these days.  St. Patrick's Day is
around the corner, but I'm thinking of save-the-earth green.
In the spirit of environmentalism, I'm recycling an article
from a previous E-Sylum issue.  Here's a gem from April 6,
2003. -Editor]

  Numismatic literature dealer John Burns had a table at the
  Baltimore coin show a few weeks ago.   Leaving the hall to
  meet John Kraljevich and fellow dealer Charles Davis, he
  was stopped by a panhandler who asked, "Can you spare
  something, sir?"   Well, John's not exactly the last of the big
  spenders, and sales at the show up to that point had been at
  best so-so.   So John said to the woman, "Why don't you
  get a job like everyone else?"

  "But I don't got no skills!" came her reply, and John blurted
  out, "I don't have any damn skills, either - why do you think
  I'm a BOOKDEALER!?"    Charlie nearly spewed his beer
  laughing when he heard the tale, but according to John, they
  both stopped suddenly, thinking, what are we laughing about?



Leprechauns are [the] self-appointed guardians of ancient
treasure, left by Danes as they marauded through Ireland,
burying it in crocks or pots. Marauding Danes might be the
reason leprechauns try to avoid contact with mortals, whom
they regard as foolish, flighty, greedy creatures. The legend
goes that if caught by a mortal, a leprechaun will promise
great wealth if allowed to go free. Leprechauns supposedly
carry two leather pouches. In one there is a silver shilling,
a magical coin that returns to the purse each time it is
given away. In the other he carries a gold coin which he
uses to try and bribe his way out of difficult situations.
The gold coin usually turns to leaves or ashes once the
leprechaun has parted with it.

Remember, if you do catch a leprechaun, you must never
take your eye off him. He will vanish in an instant!

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


This week's featured web site is John Nebel's Ancient Money
site, which is packed with fabulous images of ancient coinage.

  Wayne Homren
  Numismatic Bibliomania Society 

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

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

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