The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 11, Number 12, March 23, 2008:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2008, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers is Richard Burdick, courtesy of
Alan Weinberg. Welcome aboard!  We now have 1,134 subscribers.

This week we open with information on several Whitman Publishing
products, including new features appearing in the next edition
of the classic Redbook, and a report on upcoming books on tokens
and medals, U.S. gold, American coinage and ancient coins. Next,
Ray Williams reports on the recent sale of duplicate books at
the ANS.

Several items provide follow-ups to earlier discussions,
including courtesy signatures, deaccessioning of coins from
the Garrett collection at Johns Hopkins, and the filming of
'Public Enemies' at banks around the country.  My numismatic
diary this week covers a brief visit to Brookgreen Gardens
and other semi-numismatic sights.

In the news, Queen Elizabeth distributes Maundy Coinage in a
venue passed over for 700 years, a rare 1878 London medal turns
up in a New Zealand backyard, and a Czech bank note designer's
artwork is displayed in New York.  To learn who the Devil leads
into hell on a medal, read on. Have a great week, everyone.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


[Dennis Tucker forwarded the press release for the newest
edition of the classic Red Book, "A Guide Book of United
States Coins" by R.S. Yeoman and edited by Kenneth Bressett.
Whitman Publishing is accepting preorders for the book.  Here
are some excerpts from the press release highlighting some
new and recently added features.  -Editor]

For the 62nd edition, more than 130 professional coin dealers,
scholars, and other numismatic experts contributed their
knowledge under the direction of editor Kenneth Bressett,
valuations editor Jeff Garrett, and research editor Q. David

The 62nd edition includes 16 more pages than last year’s,
with no increase in retail price. New sections cover Puerto
Rican coins, American Arts gold medals, California souvenir
fractional gold pieces, the 2009 Lincoln cent redesign, the
upcoming Native American dollars, and the Blue Book as a
collectible. The book also features expanded coverage of
pre-federal / colonial coins, California gold, Hawaiian
plantation tokens, Special Mint Sets, pattern coins, and
the Libertas Americana medal.

In addition to nearly 30,000 individual coin prices in up
to nine grades per series, the 62nd-edition Red Book showcases
the Top 250 Auction Prices for U.S. coins. "We’ve tracked
auctions up through the March 2008 Baltimore Coin and Currency
Convention," said Whitman publisher Dennis Tucker. He noted
an increase of $34,000 compared to the 61st-edition list.
"Last year’s 250-ranked coin sold for $276,000," Tucker said.
"To make it onto this year’s list, the 250-ranked coin, an
1873-CC No Arrows quarter, sold for $310,000."

Continuing a popular format introduced last year, the Red Book
is available in a spiralbound hardcover format. "Sitting on
your bookshelf, it’s an attractive and durable hardcover Red
Book," said Whitman president Mary Counts. "With the hidden-
spiral binding, you can lay the open book flat while you study
your collection." Traditional hardcover and spiralbound books
are also available, and a leather-bound Limited Edition (3,000
copies) will be available later in the spring.

The 62nd edition of the Red Book will debut April 8, 2008. It
will be available online and at bookstores and hobby shops
nationwide. In addition to the regular edition, Whitman Publishing
is also taking pre-orders for the leather-bound Limited Edition
of this year’s Red Book, to be released later in the spring.

$14.95 spiralbound
$16.95 hardcover
$19.95 spiralbound hardcover
$69.95 leather-bound Limited Edition

[For more information, see the Whitman web site.  Below is
a link to the page for the spiralbound hardcover version,
a new feature introduced last year.  -Editor]

Red Book 62nd Edition


Martin Purdy of New Zealand writes: "I've just spotted an
error in Appendix C to the 14th edition of the Yeoman/Friedberg
catalogue of Modern World Coins ("Mints, Central Banks and

"Under New Zealand they have listed the 'New Zealand Mint'
which, as has previously been discussed on the E-Sylum, is
a private entity and not this country's national mint, although
one could easily be misled by the name.  The correct issuing
authority for current New Zealand collector issues is:

New Zealand Post
Collectables and Solutions Centre
Private Bag 3001
Wanganui 4540

"I hope they are able to correct this for the 15th edition."

[I forwarded Martin's note to Dennis Tucker of Whitman
Publishing, who writes: "Thanks to Martin Purdy for catching
the wrong listing of the 'New Zealand Mint' in the appendix
of MWC. This will be corrected in the 15th edition." -Editor]




Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing writes: "Here's a quick
update on some of the books we're currently working on:

"Katherine Jaeger's Guide Book of United States Tokens and
Medals is in the final stages of production and scheduled to
go to press in a couple weeks. This book has been a lot of fun
to work on. Its scope is amazing --- Jaeger has pulled together
resources on exonumic Americana spanning four centuries: colonial
tokens, die-struck merchant good-fors, art medals, presidential
commemoratives, Civil War tokens, fair and exposition souvenirs,
space-flown medals, transportation tokens, prison chits, arras
tokens, etc., etc.! (If ever a numismatic book deserved TWO et
ceteras, it's this one.) She also covers engraved, tooled, and
otherwise altered coins (hobo nickels, love tokens, capped coins,
and others). Most of the book's photographs, numbering in the
thousands, came from a special arrangement with the American
Numismatic Society. It will debut later this spring. 304 pages,
6 x 9, full color, softcover; foreword by Q. David Bowers;
valuations editors Steven Tanenbaum and Steve Hayden, with
assistance from Anthony Terranova, Paul Cunningham, and others.

[So what are "Arras Tokens"?  That's a term I'm wholly unfamiliar
with.  Can someone fill us in?  -Editor]

"The second edition of the Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins,
1795-1933 (by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth), produced in conjunction
with the Smithsonian Institution, will be out in about ten weeks.
The second edition is being updated with recent auction results,
new third-party grading population reports, valuations, and
recent research. The first edition won the 2006 'Best Specialized
Book, U.S. Coins' award from the Numismatic Literary Guild, and
has been a best-seller. With gold making headlines in the
mainstream press, and gold coins seeing strong market activity,
I anticipate the new edition will be another popular hit.

"Another volume on U.S. gold coinage is Q. David Bowers' Guide
Book of United States Gold Dollars, the latest in the Bowers
Series. Readers can expect a hearty dish of everything they love
about Dave's writing: colorful history, carefully researched data,
and a detailed date-by-date study of every coin in the series.
304 pages, 6 x 9, full color, softcover; foreword by David Akers;
valuations editors Larry Stack.

"We're working on an updated second edition of Dr. Richard
Doty's America's Money, America's Story. Doty explores the
USA's national identity as seen through the coins, tokens,
paper, and other money we've developed and used through the
centuries, going back to colonial times. This is a grand book
--- the perfect volume for everyone who wonders, "Is there a
book that covers the whole scope of American money?" Many of
the illustrations come from the Smithsonian's National
Numismatic Collection (where Doty is curator).

"Most E-Sylum readers are familiar with Doty's work, and know
of his expertise in Latin American and world history, in addition
to that of the United States. That expertise guarantees his
readers a solid education in our money's connections to Spanish
America, Europe, and other regions outside our boundaries. Our
money didn't magically start in 1792 with a little half disme!
This has been another wonderful book to work on. It will come
out in advance of the Smithsonian's unveiling of the newly
restored Fort McHenry "Stars and Stripes" this summer. 256
pages, 8.5 x 11, full color; hardcover; foreword by Q. David

"This is just a quick sampling of some of the books we have
scheduled for a busy spring and summer season.

"In other news, I just received in our Atlanta office an
advance copy of Harlan J. Berk's 100 Greatest Ancient Coins.
It's always a pleasure to finally get the finished book in
hand, after months of manuscript development, editorial work,
image gathering, layout design, typesetting, proofing, etc.
It's a double pleasure when the book is as beautiful as this
one---another fine addition to the "100 Greatest" library.
(This advance copy is one of about a dozen currently in our
possession; the rest are sales samples and one reserved for
author Berk. The main shipment from the printer will be
rriving shortly, and the book will be on shelves nationwide
next month.)"

[Many thanks to Dennis for the preview of books in the
Whitman pipeline.  Wow!  So many books, so little time.
But keep 'em coming!  -Editor]


Last week we published some photos taken by Mike Paradis in
New York at the American Numismatic Society's duplicate
literature sale. Ray Williams writes: "I had the pleasure of
attending the Groves Forum at the ANS last week.  These have
always been educational and fun events - this one was also!
Making the trek to NYC by train, I decided to go in early and
check out what books the ANS was offering in their Book Sale.
I'm sure that many bargains were had on the previous Saturday,
but there was much still available on Wednesday.

"I needed to be selective about how much I bought - everything
would need to be carried to the PATH Train to accompany me
home.  Looking through the shelves, I was kicking myself for
not driving my car!  Here's what I purchased:

"Krause Standard Catalog of World Coins 1701-1800 ($5),
Krause Standard Catalog of World Coins for a 7 year old
friend ($5), Circulating Counterfeits of the Americas (1998
COAC)($10), Copper Coinage of the State of NJ (Trudgen) ($10),
AJN vol 13, 14 & 15 ($5 each), ANS Museum Notes 33 (5 copies)
and 1, ($5 each).  There were stacks of postcards and I
spotted an attractive card with a Noe 1 Pine Tree on it.
These were free, but I made a donation because I took about
30, which I plan to use.

"The main room on the first floor had book shelves around the
perimeter, all categorized by topic, country or time period.
On the floor were stacks by year of the numismatist and other
periodicals.  At the time I was shopping, there was a young
man handling sales who was fascinating to talk to...  although
he is not a numismatist, he is an underwater archeologist - a
profession that seems exciting and adventurous.

"A friend asked me why I still add to my library - there are
so many books I have already and I won't read them all...  I
replied that although I surely won't read them all, it's
comforting to know they are there to refer to at a moment's

 Full Story


Roger Siboni writes: "It was a busy week and I am a little
late in getting through last week's E-Sylum which I am now
doing with a leisurely cup of coffee. But I enjoyed reading
the follow-up on the Washington Born Virginia piece from Alan
Weinberg's previous post about the Baltimore Show. It struck
me in reading the description how much fun it is to be a
bibliophile as you can watch certain numismatic treasures be
discovered and re-discovered again and again over time. When
the same item is received with the same amazement and awe over
decades and sometimes centuries, you really do appreciate what
a special treasure it is.

"So while I am not sure that the catalogers of the October 24,
1984 Stack's Picker sale (which contained many of the pieces
that George Fuld talked about in the previous week's issue of
the E-Sylum regarding Picker's private acquisition from Johns
Hopkins University) viewed the piece as a special presentation
proof, they did choose to feature it on the cover of the
catalog along with a New Jersey Copper Date Under Plow Beam,
a Higley Copper, a New England Shilling, and an extremely
scarce Continental Dollar....august company. It was further
described in the catalog as a coin with out equal, needle-
sharp strike, flawless surfaces and the most important Washington
piece in the sale. It was previously owned by Newcomer and Green.

"Anyway, one of the great enjoyments of having a library is
to see how particular coins stand the test of time. This one
did quite well."




Alan V. Weinberg writes: "George Fuld's account of Dick Picker's
Garrett/Johns Hopkins University private acquisitions at "Redbook
price" (Gad!) was fascinating - certainly the first time this
has been in print. It goes to show how one person's story in
print can trigger the memory of another who, in turn, can write
an absolutely entrancing account.

"It is my understanding that significant early large cents -
mostly 1794's - were also acquired privately by Dick Picker
out of Garrett/JHU on behalf of another serious early copper

"I may well have ended up with a few Garrett/JHU colonials in
the early 70's via Dick Picker. In one instance, I recall
distinctly that I had a superb Maris 73aa overstruck New Jersey
cent that Dick wanted badly for his collection. I told him I
wanted a superb Massachusetts Pine Tree shilling in partial
trade. Dick promptly mailed me a Gem Uncirculated shilling.
But the Noe 8 shilling was slightly irregular on the rim and
I returned it. 'I want something better'. Right back in the
mail came a superb Uncirculated Noe 6 Pine Tree shilling,
full planchet. Yup, this'll do - you bet!

"At the time I wondered where in the world was Dick getting
such magnificent shillings? Later I guessed the source and now
I know. The Maris 73aa Jersey overstrike appeared in Picker's
collection auctioned by Stack's in 1984. I still have the
Pine Tree shilling."

[The E-Sylum is like a weekly cocktail party of some of the
greatest numismatic researchers and collectors in the world.
One overheard mention (such as Alan's original question about
the Garrett collection) often triggers some wonderful accounts
from others.  This exchange is a fine example.  Although I'd
like to think that by now I have a sixth sense about what
topics will generate a response, I'm right at best only half
the time.  Some topics I think would be sure-fire turn out to
be duds, and other thoughts mentioned almost in passing turn
out to yield fascinating follow-up discussions.  But that's
all part of the fun of numismatics.

So, at the risk of firing another dud I'd like to ask if anyone
can fill us in on other early deacquisitions from the famed
Garrett collection.  Do any of our readers have or know of 1794
cents or other Federal coins coming from the Garrett collection
through Richard Picker or other dealers prior to the landmark
Bowers sales? -Editor]



Jeff Kelley writes: "George Cuhaj provided an excellent
explanation of autopen signatures as they might appear on
notes sent to the Secretary of the Treasury or the Treasurer
for autographing.  His assessment of the likelihood of a
signature’s authenticity was as follows:

"My general thoughts are that if you have a Secretary of
the Treasury signature, and it was not signed in person,
then it is very probably autopen. If you have a Treasurer
of the U.S. and it was not signed in person, it could be

"I would agree with his assessment, but only as it relates
to sitting Treasury officials.  If collectors are writing
to former officials, the chances of getting a genuine signature
increase dramatically.  While a few business leaders employ
the autopen, it is very likely that if a note comes back in
the mail signed by a former Treasury official it would be a
genuine signature."



[Last week Jeff Reichenberger mentioned the new movie "Public
Enemies" which is currently filming at a number of locations
around the country.  The old First National Bank building in
Jeff's town of Oshkosh, WI will be one of those locations.
David Kranz of Numismatic News discussed the film in his blog
Tuesday.  Here are some excerpts. -Editor]

Big news in Wisconsin, home to the Bank Note Reporter offices,
is that the film Public Enemies is currently shooting at
locations all around the state. The film is about John Dillinger,
Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson and others who were part of
the crime wave of 1933-1934. The film is based on the book by
Bryan Burrough titled Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime
Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34.

Tomorrow filming reportedly continues in my old hometown of
Darlington, Wis.

How is this numismatic? Well, I've been known to acquire a
National Bank Note or two from Darlington...  And, like many
National Bank Note collectors, I've always hoped Mark Hotz
would swing through the town on one of his national bank tours
for his Bank Note Reporter columns. I may have to revamp my
1999 article on Darlington NBNs for use when the film comes out.

Maybe I see the root of a neat exhibit here: Nationals from
the towns where the film was shot.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

[Dave also asked about prop money.  There's certain to be a
need for stage money in filming; hopefully what the producers
come up with will closely resemble the circulating cash of the day.

Mark Hotz has been writing a long-running series of articles
in Bank Note Reporter featuring pictures and stories of national
Banks around the country.  I hope someone compiles them into a
book someday.  -Editor]


Last week Jeff Reichenberger told us about a bank building
in Oshkosh, WI which has interesting bas-relief medallions
depicting the obverse and reverse of the Standing Liberty
Quarter and Walking Liberty Half Dollar.

Dave Lange writes: "When my family visited the Crayola Factory
in Easton, PA a few years ago I spotted a bank building with a
bas relief Standing Liberty Quarter above the entryway. I
believe it was a 1917 Type 1, but I didn't have a camera with
me to record it, so that may be in error."

[I was able to document two examples of such numismatic
decorative elements on Pittsburgh, PA bank buildings.  I'm
aware of similar decorations on the former B. Max Mehl building
in Ft. Worth, TX, and recall a circa 1930 pamphlet somewhere
in my ephemera files about the Chase Architrave, the entrance
to the Chase Manhattan Bank building in New York.  If memory
serves, this was written by Stewart Mosher.  Can anyone confirm
this?  Can any of our New York readers confirm that the building
exists (or better yet, provide photos? -Editor]



[The March 2008 Stack's Coin Galleries sale catalog features
a number of interesting items - here are a few.  The sale
includes the Naval Historical Foundation Collection of Admiral
Vernon medals from the collection of cataloguer Leander
McCormick-Goodheart (Stack's Numismatic Review, 1945) as well
as a great collection of U.S. inaugural medals.  -Editor]

 INTO HELL Admiral Vernon Medal. McCormick-Goodhart 18. Vernon,
 Brown, Devil and Sir Robert Medal, n.d.

 37.5mm. About Uncirculated. Obv. Crown above standing figures
 of Admiral Vernon and Commodore Brown clasping hands. Rev.
 Devil leads Sir Robert Walpole into hell, NO EXCISE. Splendid
 strike, wealth of bold detail.

 To view the lot description, see:

Lot Descriptions

 / APPROVED BY ALL GOOD BUSINESS MEN; beaded border. Rv. Same
 center inscription; between outer circle and beaded border HERE
 OF THE WORLD; between outer and inner circles, eight links contain
 Sterling 4.2 Francs 5.2 Kronen 3.8 Gulden 2.8 Marken 4.16 Guilder
 2.5 Rouble 9.65 Yen 1.1; between inner circle and center,

 To view the lot description, see:

View Lots

 Académie Royale des Médailles et des Inscriptions. Médailles
 sur les Principaux Evénements do Regne de Louis le Grand avec
 des Explications Historiques.

 Paris, Imprimerie Royale, 1702. Octavo, 292 numbered pages.
 Very Fine. Each medal in the Histoire metallique receives a
 page to itself, topped by an engraving of each reverse, the
 opposite side being blank. This is a sumptuous presentation
 of the great medallic history of "Sun King" Louis XIV, whose
 meticulously organized Academy assured a remarkable uniformity
 of classically oriented designs. Octavo, 11¼ x8¼ inches. Spine
 and cover are elaborately gold-stamped with traces of book
 plate removal on the inside cover, a few calligraphic notes
 in minute script appear on several pages from an unknown
 early owner.

 To view the lot description, see:

Lot Descriptions


This week I was on vacation with my family - we drove over
1,000 miles, visiting Wilmington, NC, Myrtle Beach and
Charleston SC and points in between.  Our overnight in
Wilmington was memorable.  We had decided to wing our first
night (last Saturday) without making reservations in advance.
We ended up having dinner near Wilmington and stopped at three
nearby hotels looking for rooms.  We settled on a place and
checked in just as a near-tornado-force rainstorm rolled
through.  I don't think I've ever seen so much rain coming
down so hard.  We kept our children away from the windows
until it passed.  Luckily, there was no major damage or
flooding nearby, but I'm sure glad we weren't still out on
the road.  Later I fired up my laptop computer and we viewed
photos of tornado damage the day before in Atlanta.

No numismatic activity to report from this trip, however.
The closest was when our horse-drawn carriage tour driver
in Charleston pointed out three firemarks on homes we passed.
I remembered first learning about firemarks from a presentation
given by Armor Murdoch at the Western Pennsylvania Numismatic
Society when I was a new member in the late 1980s.  Firemarks
are plaques placed on the outside of buildings to designate
that fire insurance had been purchased from a local fire
brigade.  They typically have the insignia or initials of
the fire company.  I have some books in my library on these,
but I've never collected them.  Armor passed around his copy
of Footprints of Assurance, one of the best works on firemarks.
Do any of our readers collect or research firemarks?

Another near-miss numismatically took place Monday morning.
We drove 15 miles south from Myrtle Beach to Brookgreen
Gardens, a place we've discussed before in The E-Sylum.
Created by Archer Huntington and his wife, Brookgreen is a
sculpture garden showcasing magnificent works by America's
top sculptors, including many who also designed coins.  But
after visiting the welcome center my wife decided that the
kids weren't going to like it.

Our oldest (9-year-old Christopher) wanted to stay.  My wife
offered (or was it threatened?) to leave the two of us there
for the day, but wishing to keep the family intact I gave in.
It was embarrassing, but I had to ask if they'd let us have
our money back and leave.  A supervisor came out to talk
with us.  He was quite gracious.  He spoke with my wife but
she still wanted to leave.  So we got our money and left.

The Most Tranquil Place on Earth was no match for my wife
and kids.  The phrase "pearls before swine" came to mind,
but to keep peace I bit my tongue.  In the end we had a fine
day of family fun together even though the finest piece of
sculpture we saw was the T-Rex in the Jurassic Golf miniature
golf course.  In my mind I quoted The Terminator: "I'll be
back".  Someday, I hope to get the chance.

While I was gone a package arrived from Stack's.  It contained
the final three hardbound volumes of the John J. Ford sale
catalogs.  It's a real treat to finally have the complete
21-volume hardbound set on my shelves.  I'm still disappointed
that Ford's unaccounted-for Nova Constellatio silver pattern
set wasn't documented in the sales (If anyone knows where it
is, they aren’t talking, at least not to me).  Still, it's a
magnificent set that I'll refer to often.  As I've said before,
an American numismatic library is incomplete without a set of
these landmark sales.  Does anyone know approximately how many
of each were bound by Stack's?  Were the same number of each
hardbound?  How many complete sets are out there now?

Over the holiday weekend my wife's sister's family visited us
from Pittsburgh.  Yesterday we went to the Smithsonian's National
Air and Space Museum center near Dulles Airport.  Only minutes
from our home, I hadn't been there yet.  I had been looking
forward to visiting there ever since seeing the Imperial War
Museum at the former Duxford air field near Cambridge while
on assignment in London last year.   Ensconced at the center
are an Air France Concorde and the Space Shuttle Enterprise.
What really stopped me in my tracks though, was the Enola Gay,
the B-29 bomber which dropped the atomic bomb that destroyed

Numismatically, I noted several displays of medals, including
groups of Apollo-11 medals and Soviet/Russian space medals.
These exhibits were not well lighted, however, and unfortunately
I didn't have time to linger and review the display text.
Another case displaying a pilot uniform also showcased a set
of four medals, but there was no accompanying text to explain
what the medals were.  Although medals were decidedly second
and third-class citizens in this museum, I was nevertheless
pleased to see them there and in the public eye.

The museum also featured a couple of elongated cent machines.
It cost a dollar (four quarters) plus a cent to make a "squished
penny" with one of several available designs.  Not having enough
pocket change between us, our kids had to go without.  Installing
a change machine nearby would probably lead to a tripling of
elongated cent sales.





Jeff Kelley writes: "I must respectfully disagree with some
aspects of Dick Johnson’s latest commentary about eliminating
the cent.  He asserted that the introduction of steel cents
would drive all existing copper and zinc cents out of circulation
(and into Chinese melting pots) and that the Treasury would
then have to replace the 100 billion cents that he estimates
are currently in circulation.

"While I agree with that it is possible that the Chinese or
another rapidly industrializing nation (perhaps India) might
be inclined to melt down our cents for their metal content,
there are a few things to think about. First, replacing copper
cents with zinc cents did not lead to a wholesale smelting
of the older copper cents – they both circulated side by side
quite seamlessly despite the fact that the copper cents were
worth more than one cent and more than their zinc successor.
Second, the current prohibition on melting one cent coins
includes a prohibition against a person exporting more than
a certain amount of cents (and the limits are quite low –
somewhere in the hundreds, if I recall correctly.).  Lastly,
if all one cent coins disappeared tomorrow, the Mint would
not have to replace all those currently "in circulation"
simply because most do not actually circulate.  The vast
majority of cents sit in jars, cups, trays, piggy banks,
etc.  For many people, cents are essentially a single use
coin – they are issued as change at the store, and it may
be years before they re-enter the retail or banking system.

"As for suggestions that rounding odd amounts at the register
would make the cent obsolete, we don’t need legislation to
implement that process. If people want, they can ask cashiers
right now to round up their bill to the nearest nickel and
say "keep the change", or they can simply refuse to take the
odd pennies in change.

"As to the advisability of eliminating the cent, I am not
so sure the theory that makes it appear innocuous would become
reality for the consumer.  Eliminating the cent would require
that some rounding be done, and I have some first hand
experience with that.  I was living in Germany when the euro
replaced the mark, if there was any rounding to be done (and
there always was), the price was ALWAYS rounded upward.  I
had friends who actually bought into the idea that it would
somehow all even out for the consumer, that some prices would
be rounded up and some down, but that was predictably not
what happened.  It was foolish, after all, to expect that the
butcher would round his prices down in order to compensate
for the fact that the baker next door rounded his prices up.
I experienced exactly one instance where the Euro price
reflected an amount that was lower than the equivalent of the
former price in marks; that was a newspaper that had raised
its price in the months before the conversion so that it
could round down afterward.

"There is one important thing to think about when comparing
the United States to other countries, and that regards pricing
methodology.  While retailers in many other countries may make
use of certain familiar price points (.99, 1.99, etc.), it is
probably not as prevalent as it is in the US.  There is also
the critical issue of taxation – many other countries impost
a "VAT" (Value Added Tax) which is included in the stated
price of an item, not a sales tax that is added at the register
on top of the total.  Therefore, most items are priced such
that the price is a round number of some kind.  Retailers and
restaurants in many foreign countries have done this for years
as a way to simplify the payment process and reduce the need
for handling minor coins.  This approach would be problematic,
however, in any US jurisdiction that imposes a sales tax at
the register.

"Whether or not the cent has outlived its usefulness is
certainly a subject for serious debate, but it is important
to consider all of the ramifications to eliminating it."

Jeff adds: "There is one reason I can think of why replacing
copper and zinc cents with steel cents would create havoc:
the problem of expanding the tolerances for accepting cents
and other coins in stamp vending machines at the Post office
and coin counting machines at banks.  Currently, these devices
can be set to automatically reject any coin that has the
magnetic properties of steel (at my bank, Canadian quarters
don’t even make it down into the counting mechanism area –
they stick to the magnets built into the coin tray).  Once
we introduce steel into our coinage, it will dramatically
complicate the automated validation process for coins.
(Of course, at current exchange rates, Canadian coins don’t
represent a loss!)."

Martin Purdy of New Zealand writes: "I've heard of lots of
countries that have abolished their lowest denomination but
never any that have actually revalued their one-cent coins
to circulate as fives - if any country has, I'd love to have
the details since it would make a great quiz question.

"It certainly didn't happen here or in Australia, which
simply set a deadline beyond which 1c and 2c coins would
no longer be accepted in trade or given out as change.  The
same was done with our 5c coins in 2006 - they were simply
called in, not revalued.

"Velde's notion of revaluing all existing 1-cent coins to 5
cents sounds crazy - does he really want $1 billion (or
thereabouts) worth of "pennies" suddenly given a face value
of $5 billion by fiat?"

[Dick wrote that Australia and New Zealand had eliminated
their lowest denominations, but did not mention any country
which had actually rebased their low denomination coins.
There are many examples in history where countries have
rebased circulating coins, usually by counterstamping them
with a higher value. -Editor]



Dick Johnson writes: "For the first time in 700 years
Maundy coins were distributed in Ireland instead of England
or Wales. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth handed out 82 pence
in special 1p, 2p, 3p and 4p sterling silver coins – a penny
for each year of her life – to 164 pensioners from across
the Province.

[Thanks to Dick for pointing out this interesting fact.
Maundy coins are an interesting topic.   I have a 1910 Maundy
set that once belonged to my step-grandfather.  Below are
excerpts from the news article Dick forwarded.  It's worth
reading for its interesting detail of the pagenantry of the
event, as well as photos taken at the ceremony. -Editor]

The leaders of the four main Churches joined together in St
Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh for the
event - the first time it has been held outside England and
Wales in 700 years.

Her gifts, in red and white purses with ribbons, were
carried on a silver platter by the Queen's yeomen, who
bore ceremonial swords and wore red uniforms, hats with
ribbons and traditional oversized white collars.

Pensioners who were being recognised for community work
were selected to be handed the specially minted Maundy
money during a cross-community service in St Patrick's
Cathedral in Armagh.

The term "Maundy" comes from the Latin word mandatum,
which means commandment, and is derived from the new
commandment Jesus gave his disciples before his crucifixion,
that they they were to love one another as he had loved

There are records of the Royal tradition on Maundy
Thursday in Holy Week dating back to the 12th century.

During the service the Queen handed out coins to 82 men
and 82 women, all retired, who had been selected by the
four main denominations in Northern Ireland for service
to the community.

She also presented them with a separate bag containing a
50 pence piece and a £5 coin to commemorate Prince Charles's

Four children, one each from Church of Ireland, controlled,
Roman Catholic and integrated schools in Armagh, were
selected to play a symbolic part in the service, wearing
linen towels in remembrance of times when the monarch washed
the feet of the congregation.

The massive dimensions of the cathedral inside combined
with elegant choreography, traditional costumes and majestic
choirs and musicians blended in a grandeur worthy of a monarch.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


A rare English medal uncovered in the backyard of an Upper
Hutt house will soon be on its way to the Museum of London.

Kevin Homan discovered the dirt-encrusted Temple Bar Medal
while working with his father on foundations for the family's

"At first I thought it was an old jar lid, then I washed it
off with a hose. Around the edges it said that in 1672 the
Temple Bar was erected and then removed in 1878."

The one-kilogram medal was made in 1878 from the lead roof
of Temple Bar, which historically marked the western boundary
of the City of London.

The gateway, made of Portland stone and dating from 1672,
was reputedly designed by Sir Christopher Wren, architect
of nearby St Paul's Cathedral.

Only one other of the historic medals is known to exist, a
mint example with an original glass-covered face valued at
500 (NZ$1247).

It is unknown how the buried treasure ended up in Upper Hutt,
but Kevin Homan's father, Stewart, has a theory.

"My father bought this house [in 1952] after receiving an
inheritance from two quite wealthy aunts who lived in London.
He might have been given it and then buried it with other

The Temple Bar Medal is from a collection called the City
of London Medals, struck by the Corporation of the City of London.

Most in the series had runs of up to 450, but a notable
exception is the Temple Bar Medal, considered extremely
rare by experts.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[The Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle design is getting another
workout.  The Union Leader of Cornish, NH published an
article interviewing Henry Duffy, curator at the Saint-Gaudens
National Historic Site, about the new version of the artists'
coin design being prepared by the U.S. Mint.  -Editor]

The United States Mint has announced it will recreate a $20
gold coin designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in 1907, and a
curator hopes the new version of the coin will attract more
visitors to the famed American sculptor's former estate in

Considered by many to be the most beautiful coin ever made
in the United States, the high-relief Liberty Gold Piece,
also known as the Double Eagle, bear the image of a woman
holding a branch and a torch on one side.

"Liberty's torch represents knowledge, and the branch
represents victory," said Henry Duffy, curator at the Saint-
Gaudens National Historic Site on Route 12A in Cornish. "Of
course, the knowledge she's spreading is democracy. She's
spreading democracy to the world." The back of the coin
features an eagle flying under the sun. On the re-issued
coin, the inscription "In God We Trust" will appear above
the sun, as it did on a 1908 version of the same coin.

The design will be featured on a collectible 24-karat
coin intended for sale to the public in 2009. Duffy said
the mint originally planned to release the coin in 2007,
its 100th anniversary, but original molds had been
destroyed, which delayed the process.

Duffy said visitors to the historic site often ask how
they can acquire one of Saint-Gaudens' coins.

"They're usually disappointed when they found out how much
they are," he said. "This will be helpful to us to be able
to recommend this to people, so I'm sure people are going
to like that." Duffy said he thinks the new coins will be
a hit among seasoned and new coin collectors and may even
draw more visitors to the historic site in Cornish.

"There's a lot of interesting intrigue and mystery around
these coins right now," he said.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

[Numismatic News commented on the planned pieforts, basically
a revival of the ultra-high-relief Saint-Gaudens $20 design.
I've never been a fan of dusting off old designs for new coins,
but in this case it sounds like a winning concept, assuming
the Mint indeed remains faithful to the artist's original
conception. -Editor]

The dream of President Theodore Roosevelt and artist Augustus
Saint-Gaudens to restore the artistry of ancient Greece to
American coinage may be realized in 2009 when the Mint plans
to strike ultra-high-relief Saint-Gaudens $20 gold pieces for

Now without the constraints of commerce, the Mint will attempt
a 27mm coin with a thick planchet... The French have a term
for a double thickness planchet. It is called piefort and
collectors in Europe and elsewhere find coins struck on these
planchets appealing.

The new pieces will be 24 karat, or .999 fine, eliminating
some of the hardness of a gold coin, which in 1907 was struck
with a .900 fine gold alloyed with copper. They will also
contain an even troy ounce of gold, making them conform to
the demands of 21st century collectors and bullion coin buyers.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[An E-Sylum reader forwarded this article about a New York
art exhibit featuring the work of a Czech bank note designer.

Works by renowned Czech graphic artist Oldrich Kulhanek,
author of Czech banknotes' design, are displayed in the
Czech Centre in New York until April 7, the organisers
have told CTK.

The exhibition shows Kulhanek's works inspired by biblical
motives from the past ten years.

His display in Chicago within the Prague Days cultural
festival, where his drafts of the current Czech banknotes
were presented, scored a great success last year.

Kulhanek has also designed postage stamps, among others,
with a portrait of Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who was
re-elected for another five-year term in February.

Kulhanek's works are included in the collections of the
Library of Congress in Washington, Chicago's Art Institute,
the Arts Museum in Cincinnati and Houston University, as
well as in galleries in Prague, Paris, Vienna and other
European cities.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


In Japan, cash is truly king. Credit cards are regarded with
suspicion; fat wallets are the norm. Banknotes are used even
for big transactions. Yet even the Japanese were taken aback
by this week's announcement of a massive bust by the tax
authorities. Investigators arrested two sisters in the city
of Osaka on charges of evading taxes by hoarding the equivalent
of $56.4 million in cash.

Hatsue Shimizu, 64, and Yoshiko Ishii, 55, were said to have
hidden the money away in Shimizu's garage. Last fall, when
tax inspectors first raided the property, they were stunned
to find stacks of cardboard boxes (50 in all) stuffed with
yen banknotes. The stash is said to have weighed in at around
1,300 pounds. Many of the wads of bills still had the original
bank bands around them; some were moldy with age. It took
the tax bureau days to count out all of the money.

Prohibitive inheritance-tax rates are certainly the main reason,
but other factors might be at fault as well. In the late 1990s,
widespread fears about bank stability thanks to a nationwide
financial crisis triggered a rush to convert assets to tansu
yokin ("drawer deposits").

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


Dick Johnson writes: "Be glad you collect coins instead of
comic books. For one thing, you can't pick up a copy on
newsprint without damaging the corners and bending the pages
forever.  For another, your mother may have cleaned out your
room and threw out all your old copies (now worth four and
five figures).

"A recently published book, 'The Ten-Cent Plaque: The Great
Comic-Book Scare and How it Changed America' by David Hajdu,
was reviewed this week on the blog HOUstone. It documents all
the travails of comic books. It seems a self-appointed do-gooder,
Dr. Frederic Wertham, a sort of Dr. Phil of his day who, as a
physician and not a social scientist, firmly saw a clear and
unbreakable link between comic books and juvenile delinquency.

"Wertham’s treatise, 'Seduction of the Innocent,' quickly
stoked an existing fire that had parent and civic groups in
arms, leading to mass burnings of comics (which would be worth
a fortune today), banning, and most memorably, Congressional

"Thank goodness Congressional hearings of numismatic interest
these days are aimed at what more coins can the U.S. Mint produce
for the burgeoning coin market. Thank goodness your mother wouldn't
think of throwing out your old coin collection -- after all it
was money!  Pity the poor comic book enthusiast."

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


This week's featured web site is suggested by John and Nancy
Wilson of Ocala, FL, who write: "While researching the American
Bank Note Company we came across this excellent site that has
a history of Engraving and Banknote Companies that would be
invaluable to collectors, dealers and of course researchers.
The site is owned by Terry Cox.  We think it is informative
and helpful.

Featured Web Site

  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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