The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 11, Number 13, March 30, 2008:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2008, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Christopher Bolton and Shawn
Hewitt.  We now have 1,141 subscribers.

This week we open with NBS annual meeting news, an update on
the ANS duplicate book sale, and upcoming Chicago convention
events.  Next up are announcements of new books on the numismatics
of Mexico, Canada and Jersey, and a new archive of online
numismatic books.

In follow-ups to topics from prior issues we discuss coin
rebasing, protecting libraries from fire, coin-inspired
architecture, arras tokens and the dumbing-down of stage money.
Web site visitors this week bring word of a 94-year-old Better
Baby medal winner and a curious note without serial numbers.

In the news, the ANS has been hit with a lawsuit, a group of
companies proposes a new system for electronic payments, and
Iraqi citizens return coins to a museum in a Baghdad ceremony.
As if that's not enough, for fun we introduce a new game for
bibliophiles.  To learn about Swedish Rounding and  the Peek
Frean's Teddy Bear Biscuits token die, read on. Have a great
week, everyone.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


The American Numismatic Association's World's Fair of Money
will be held in Baltimore, MD July 30 - August 3, 2008.  The
Numismatic Bibliomania Society holds its annual meeting at
the convention and often hosts a numismatic literature
symposium as well.

NBS President John Adams writes: "Syd Martin and David Lange
have agreed to speak at our symposium on Thursday, July 31st
at 11:30.  Both showed great creativity in architecting their
books.  Anne Bentley will speak at our meeting on the following
day, describing the many numismatic items to be found in the
publications of the Massachusetts Historical Society."

[The convention dates will be here before you know it, and I
encourage all numismatic bibliophiles to make plans to attend
the convention and NBS events.  -Editor]


Joanne Isaac of the American Numismatic Society in New York
writes: "We have had great success with the duplicate book
sale, but there are still many duplicates available for sale
on our premises at 140 William Street.  Prices have now been
reduced by 50% or more.  The sale hours are:

Mon, March 31, 10:00am - 4:00pm
Tue, April 1,  10:00am - 4:00pm
Wed, April 2,  10:00am - 4:00pm
Thu, April 3,  10:00am - 4:00pm
Fri, April 4,  10:00am - 4:00pm

"Also, the sale of the duplicate journals and auction catalogues
listed on our website has also been incredible. Thousands of
items were requested. We want to thank all those who have placed
orders and are waiting patiently to hear about the fulfillment
of their order requests.  We are working hard to fill requests
in the order in which they were received. It is taking some time
but if you have not yet heard back from us, please know that
you will."

For more information on the ANS duplicate book sale, see:
ANS duplicate book sale


Orville Grady writes: "I will have a table at the Central
States Numismatic Society show in Chicago. CSNS is at the
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center (Hall G) 5555 North River
Road, Rosemont, IL, not too far from O'Hare International
airport. The dates for the show are April 16-19th."

Julian M. Leidman adds: "E-Sylum readers and their guests
are invited to attend PNG Day, April 16, 2008, 10AM-5PM in
Hall G of the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center preceding
the Central States Numismatic Society convention."


[Dennis Tucker of Whitman publishing forwarded the following
press release relating to an upcoming publication.  -Editor]

Harlan J. Berk, one of the nation's premiere coin dealers
and author of Whitman Publishing's new 100 Greatest Ancient
Coins, will give two presentations in Chicago on Saturday,
April 26, 2008.

Berk will talk about his new book, which covers numismatic
antiquities from Greece, Rome, the Byzantine Empire, and
other parts of the ancient world.

His first presentation will be at 11:00 a.m. at the 33rd
annual Chicago International Coin Fair, at the Crowne Plaza
Hotel (River Road, Rosemont, Illinois), for the meeting of
the Chicago Ancient Coin Club.

His second presentation is an "Antique Show Booth Talk" at
the Artropolis International Antiques Fair at the Merchandise
Mart in downtown Chicago, at 3:00 p.m.

In 100 Greatest Ancient Coins, Berk tells the stories behind
100 coins ranked by collectors, dealers, historians, and
researchers as the most significant. He also describes how
to collect and enjoy ancient coins, aspects of the marketplace,
grading, conservation, and smart buying. The book is coffee-
table-size, 144 pages, with enlarged full-color photographs.
Retail price is $29.95. 100 Greatest Ancient Coins is available
for pre-order at, and will be sold at
hobby shops and bookstores nationwide starting in late April.


Christopher Bolton writes: "Recently I self published a small
bibliography of Mexican numismatics. The publication is soft
cover, digitally printed and has 915 references to Mexican
numismatics (with some Latin American crossover). The
bibliography is divided into Mexican numismatic eras, with
an author index at the end.  It is by no means complete,
however, I do believe it to be a good first step. The
commentary and notes are in Spanish although the references
themselves are easy enough to understand. If demand warrants
I will publish a bilingual edition sometime later this year."

[The author is willing to supply a review copy - would any
of our readers like one?  If you're willing to write a review
for The E-Sylum, just send me your mailing address and I'll
forward it. -Editor]


Serge Pelletier writes: We are starting to take advance
orders for my Canadian Dictionary of Numismatics.  AmEx,
MasterCard, VISA and PayPal are accepted.  I've attached a
review by World Coin News columnist Doug Andrews. Please
note that the hardbound copies will be numbered and signed
by the author.  Orders can be placed by email to:, by fax at: 1.613.599.7630, or by mail at:

 Box 11447, Station H
 Nepean, ON  K2H 7V1

[The full text of Doug Andrews' review follows. Prices are
in U.S. dollars. -Editor]

Dictionaries tend to be dull recitations of definitions
peppered with a few facts and examples. "Enjoyment" is not
a word that often comes to mind when thinking about reference
books. Until now. Readers will be surprised as to how they
refer to The Canadian Dictionary of Numismatics, the latest
book by world-renowned coin writer, Serge Pelletier. The
result of about a decade of research, this work is as
meticulously documented as it is entertaining to read.
Entries are crisp, informative, and provide revealing
insights into the collection and study of coins, tokens,
and paper money.

The book is completely bilingual (with French and English
entries cross-referenced) and ably fills a void that has
always existed in Canadian numismatic publishing. This
all-new volume is 6" x 9" in size with 320 pages, 40 of
which are colour plates.

It is available in three formats : hardbound @ $90 post-paid
(ISBN 978-0-9808944-1-7) with an initial run of 25 copies;
perfect bound @ $45 post-paid (ISBN 978-0-9808944-0-0) with
an initial run of 500 copies; and perfect bound with CD-ROM
@ $60 post-paid (ISBN 978-0-9808944-2-4). The CD-ROM contains
a PDF copy of the dictionary.

Although the focus is on Canadian coin collecting, there is
extensive coverage of American, British, and French coinage.
The book is authoritative and thought provoking, and is sure
to become an eagerly sought after reference for both beginning
and advanced collectors, or those with everyday questions
about Canadian currency and its fascinating history.

Pelletier is the award-winning author of several books including
A Compendium of Canadian Municipal Trade Tokens and the six-volume
Standard Catalogue of Canadian Municipal Trade Tokens. He has
served as President of the Association des numismates francophones
du Canada and as Vice President of the Canadian Numismatic
Association. He was a contributor to the Canadian Numismatic
Correspondence Course, Parts One and Two, and has been published
throughout the world in most of the major numismatic periodicals.


Harold Fears writes: "I just published my book, "Some Notes
and Observations Concerning the pre-decimal Coins and Tokens
from the Island of Jersey." It contains 325 pages total with
many images. It is on 8x11 paper and is coil bound with full
color printing.  The price is $69.99 plus shipping from the web site.  The URL is 
Pre-Decimal Coins and Tokens from the Islands of Jersey ."

[Harold will make an electronic review copy available - would
anyone like to write a review for The E-Sylum?

Self-publishing via Lulu and other print-on-demand sites is
gaining some ground in the numismatic world.  Harold Fears'
book is the latest; Harold Levi's book on the Confederate
Cent and Eric Leighton's NUmiS Worthy were among the first.

By the way, the March/April 2008 issue of Paper Money (the
official journal of the Society of Paper Money Collectors)
has a great article by Michael McNeil of "The Pros and Cons
of Self-Publication".  McNeil authored a great book on The
Signers of the Confederate Treasury Note 1861-1865.  His
article includes a step-by-step how-to guide for using to prepare and publish a book. -Editor]




Katie Jaeger writes: "Last week, Dennis Tucker announced my
upcoming Guide Book of United States Tokens and Medals and said,
'valuations editors [were] Steve Tanenbaum and Steve Hayden,
with assistance from Anthony Terranova, Paul Cunningham, and
others.'  I really wanted to make sure that Alan Weinberg's
assistance as valuations editor was also mentioned.  He did a
ton of work on this project.

"Come to think of it, probably half the members of this group
have helped me, one way or another, in the writing of this book!
It seemed OK that a beginner to exonumia (me) would write a book
for beginners to exonumia, but it meant I had a million questions
and had to seek expert advice countless times.  I did formal
telephone interviews with Joe Levine, David Gladfelter, and Cindy
Wibker. I called Dick Johnson probably 20 times, and we went on
a research trip together, to the Tiffany Archive in Parsippany,
New Jersey.  Dave Bowers, Russ Rulau, John Adams, Anne Bentley,
George Fuld and John Coffee were always a phone call or email away,
and always responded promptly to my queries -- what authors do this?
I hung out at Charlie McSorley’s table at the Allentown (PA) shows
for hours at a time, to catch earfuls of lore. Ditto John Burns,
at his table in Baltimore.

"The above-mentioned valuations editors, and many others, answered
countless questions across their show tables.  A dozen people read
the manuscript, or sections of it (among them Ken Bressett, Cliff
Mishler, Dave Bowers, Bob Julian, and Bob Leonard) and sat down to
write me point-by-point critiques.  Dozens more furnished medals,
tokens, and altered coins for photography.  Through Dave Bowers and
Vicken Yegparian at Stack’s, I was able to get my hands on those
fabulous images from the Ford sales, and the ANS allowed Tom Mulvaney
and me to come for three days last October, so Tom could shoot over
500 items from their collections. He shot hundreds more besides those,
and perfected each photo in his studio at home in Kentucky.
Thanks Tom!

"This has been a team effort all the way, and such a tremendous
learning experience for me.  Above all, I discovered that numismatists
are good, generous-hearted people who show patience and tolerance to
the newbie, and are willing share their own hard work and research,
asking nothing in return. (This is a far cry from the mainstream
historical research community.)  As I sit today reading the page
proofs, I realize I owe a huge debt of thanks to all of you, and to
everyone else named in the credits of the book.  I hope you all
know how much I value your help, and how much I enjoyed working
with you."


In last week's E-Sylum Martin Purdy stated, "The correct
issuing authority for current New Zealand collector issues
is: New Zealand Post".

Kerry Rogers writes: "In point of fact The Reserve Bank of
New Zealand has the sole authority to approve any issue of
New Zealand currency. Currently, the Bank has a commercial
contract with New Zealand Post. This contract allows New
Zealand Post to design, procure and sell collectors coins
and coin sets that may also include circulating currency.
However, all proposals by New Zealand Post for any New Zealand
legal tender circulating or non circulating coins require
the approval of the Reserve Bank in whom the ultimate
authority is vested by law. This same condition would apply
if the contract were to be held by any other commercial
entity in the future - such as the private New Zealand Mint.
And I gather the contract is up for grabs later this year!"

[Thanks to both Martin and Kerry (who contacted the Bank
on Tuesday) for their assistance in finding and correcting
the error.  I forwarded the clarification to Dennis Tucker
at Whitman Publishing.  -Editor]



J.C. Spilman of the Colonial Newsletter Foundation (CNLF)
has been experimenting with posting large book files on the
Internet to ease access to source materials for researchers.
To date at least eight books have been posted; I've listed
them here in order of file size.

  A History of the Bank of New York 1784-1884 (Domett, 1884)
  History of the Bills of Credit or Paper Money Issued by New York
  The American Numismatic Manual (M. W. Dickeson, 1865)
  History of the U.S. Mint (Evans, 1890)
  Coins Medals & Seals. (W. C. Prime, 1860)
  History of the United States (E. Benjamin Andrews, 1894)
  Dye's Coin Encyclopedia
  Life & Times of John H. Hickcox (Stimson, 1995)

Some of the files are from Project Gutenberg.  Others are
from Google's library digitization project.  Others are
from various university libraries, each of which has its
own eBook system. These can sometimes be located directly
on various sites, but the CNLF experiment provides a
convenient single location for finding specific items of
numismatic interest.

The 367-page .pdf file of Dickeson's American Numismatic
Manual was scanned from a copy in the University of Michigan
library.  It had been donated to the University by H.S.
Jewett of Dayton, OH.

Spilman adds: "I also plan to include a wish list for members
to indicate worthwhile eBooks that they would like to see
included in our 'Library'.  We must then locate them, if
they exist, and that is where members can really help --
in searching.  These eBooks are scattered all over the
country -- especially in university libraries that do not
particularly advertise the fact that they have them available.
Donations of eBooks to CNLF will also certainly be appreciated."

To access the book archive, become a member of the CNLF Google BLOG here:
CNLF Google BLOG "

John Nebel notes that "A Kirtas book scanner for $150,000
can scan 1,000 pages per hour.  Let's install a scanner at
the ANA library and put on-line everything that is out of

[If I were the Executive Director of a numismatic association,
I'd definitely consider proposals for doing just that.
Digitization is an unstoppable force - better to get ahead of
the curve than behind it.  There are also lower-cost (but more
labor-intensive) solutions, and these would probably be
preferable for the rarest books.   John graciously hosts the
NBS web site on his servers, and he tells me he'd be willing
to host a digitized numismatic library.

What do other bibliophiles think of digitization?  Godsend
or Gomorrah?  How will it affect the value of our research
libraries? While I realize there's a big downside I think
there's also a possible upside.  Greater access to and
awareness of rare numismatic literature could help increase
demand by bringing more potential book collectors into the
market.  After all, reprints of many important numismatic
works have been available for years yet the originals are
still very much in demand.  -Editor]

To view a video of the Kirtas machine in action, see:
Video of the Kirtas machine


[By complete coincidence, few hours after writing the above
item about digitized numismatic books I received a copy of
an email from Benjamin Keele to the chairs of ANA Committees
on Publications & Communications, Technology & Website, and
Library regarding an Online Numismatic Repository.  Ben
offered his letter for publication in The E-Sylum for comment.]

I am semi-dormant numismatist attending law school in Indiana.
I have been an ANA member since I was twelve. Through my
experiences publishing my undergraduate thesis and serving
as an editor on a law journal, I have seen the great benefits
of electronic archiving of scholarly materials. This led me
to think that an online archive of open-access numismatic
scholarship would be an immense resource. Many of these online
repositories are being established at universities. I think
it would outstanding if the ANA could make a repository of
archives in ANA publications, especially the Numismatist.
Perhaps other journals could offer their content for preservation
in the repository as well.

Of course, these sorts of projects require resources that
the ANA may not have at the moment. However, I think such
a project would greatly further the ANA's educational and
scholarly goals. Free, open-source software for institutional
repositories called DSpace is also available. DSpace was
developed by MIT for its repository.

I also know that copyright over the articles may be an issue.
While it would perhaps be too ambitious to convince every
author to consent to his or her work being archived and
published online, I am sure many authors would be willing
and future authors could be asked to agree as part of being
published in the Numismatist. I, for one, would be delighted
to sign a consent form for the two articles I have published
in the Numismatist (or any other numismatic publication,
for that matter).

Such a project would take a long time, but I thought I would
offer it up for your consideration. Perhaps the ANA is
already doing something similar that I was not aware of.  I
do know that a few articles from each Numismatist are published
in PDF on the ANA website. I think this is great, but a more
comprehensive and searchable archive would be an even greater


[Jerry Fochtman published a nice article recently on Thomas
Cunningham's landmark Postal and Fractional Currency article
in the American Journal of Numismatics.  It appeared in the
2008 Winter Newsletter of the Fractional Currency Collector's
Board (FCCB).  The article's title is "Thomas Cunningham –
First Fractional Collector/Author."

Jerry kindly forwarded the text and images for reprinting here
in The E-Sylum.  I posted two of the images on the E-Sylum
photo gallery - see the links below.  Thanks! -Editor]

By all accounts, the first real collection of Postage and
Fractional Currency was probably formed by Thomas Cunningham.
He owned a dry goods store in Mohawk, N.Y., where he spent
his entire life.  He also happened to be a neighbor and a
close friend of Francis E. Spinner, who is called the Father
of Postage and Fractional Currency.  Even after Spinner left
office and retired, they corresponded for many years, with
Spinner even giving many of the proto-types and other materials
to Thomas Cunningham.  It is the Cunningham collection that
became part of the Herman Crofoot collection, which was
donated to and now resides in the Smithsonian.

By 1893 very little postage and fractional currency remained
in circulation.  In April, 1893 Thomas Cunningham wrote what
is thought to be the first paper on this part of our numismatic
history, published in the April, 1893 issue of the "American
Journal of Numismatics", which was a periodical published by
the American Numismatic Society.

I had been searching for a copy of this article to include
in my library for some time.  One day I happened to stumble
onto an auction which offered several old black leather books
on numismatics.  What caught my eye was one listed as a reprint
by author Thomas Cunningham.  Fortunately I was successful in
my bidding.  In arranging shipment of the material I learned
that the books came from the library of William A. Philpott, Jr,
who was a well-known Texas banker and numismatist.  His
collection of early Texas documents resides in the Special
Collections at the University of Texas Library.

Cover of William Philpott's Cunningham AJN Offprint
Cover of William Philpott's Cunningham AJN Offprint

Title page of William Philpott's Cunningham AJN Offprint
Title page of William Philpott's Cunningham AJN Offprint



<************************** BOOK BAZARRE **************************>

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the Economics of Massachusetts Coinage, by Lou Jordan. 4to., hardcover.
xx, 348 pages. An important and well-done work. New. $43 postpaid.



On February 12, 2008 the Hispanic Society of America filed a
suit against the American Numismatic Society over control of a
collection of some 37,000 Spanish coins formed by Archer Huntington,
who was a major benefactor of both the Hispanic Society and ANS.
It was Huntington's largesse that enabled the construction of
Audubon Terrance at 155th and Broadway in New York, where the
two societies resided for decades until the ANS's recent move
to lower Manhattan.

I checked the ANS web site description of its Latin American
coin cabinet, which it says numbers only 20,000 pieces in
total.  In addition to acquisitions from the Greenwood,
Guttag, Echenique and Herz collections made possible by
Henry Grunthal, Harry Bass and other donors, the site says
that "In the 1950s, the Hispanic Society of America agreed
to place on permanent loan its unsurpassed collection of
coins of Spain and all Spanish dominions."

I was aware that the ANS had the Hispanic Society collection
but am not aware of the loan conditions.  These cases can be
complicated to settle – since half a century has passed, the
original parties to the transaction are gone and the contracts
and paperwork may be missing or incomplete, enabling both
sides to plausibly interpret the situation in their favor.
The HSA's argument will likely be "what part of the word LOAN
don't you understand?"  The ANS's likely response will be,
"What part of PERMANENT don't YOU understand?"

Having been down this road before when the Carnegie Museum
of Pittsburgh decided to deaccession its extensive collection
in the late 1970s, I can guess what this is really about:
raising money.  The Hispanic Society will make all sorts of
public noise about how the coins don't fit with their core
mission, but suggestions that the coins be donated to a more
appropriate venue will fall on deaf ears.  In Pittsburgh the
Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania came forward with
a plan to take over the collection and display significant
parts of it, but in the end, of course, the Carnegie sold the
collection in a series of sales in London, New York and Zurich.
Instead of handing clear title to the ANS and walking away,
the HSA is trying to regain control of the collection so it
can sell it.  Auctioneers worldwide have likely already been

I can also guess what the reaction of the collecting community
will be - "Stop the sale!  Protect the collection!"   Editorials
will be written and petitions may be circulated.  But petitions
unaccompanied by a passing of a big hat to raise funds are often
a lesson in futility.  I learned that, too, having gone door to
door collecting hundreds of signatures on a petition to stop the
Carnegie sale.  Oh, to be young and idealistic again.  But still,
I hope and pray for the sake of numismatic scholarship that the
collection will somehow remain with the ANS.

So what are the facts?  First, I consulted the best information
source I know - the "The American Numismatic Society 1858-1958"
(Edited by Howard Adelson, 1958).  The book, scheduled for an
updated edition this year, is a very detailed history of the
organization, its collections, and benefactors.  The Hispanic
Society collection is discussed on p278-279.

 By far the most outstanding collection to come to the Society
 was that of the Hispanic Society of America, brought together
 originally by Archer M. Huntington.  It consisted of 30,355
 pieces when first placed into the custody of the American
 Numismatic Society but has since been materially increased by
 about 7,000 pieces.  The actual ownership remained in the hands
 of the Hispanic Society but the study and publication was to be
 carried out under joint auspices.

 Dr. Herbert E. Ives, President of the American Numismatic
 Society in 1946, had carried on the negotiations with Mr.
 Huntington regarding the deposit of these coins and the provision
 for their publication... Once all these arrangements had been
 reduced to writing by Mr. Huntington they were sent in the form
 of a letter to President Ives, and all the members of the council
 signed a copy of that letter at the meeting of June 21, 1946, as
 a token of acceptance.

The ANS has taken on a considerable amount of expense over
the years caring for, studying and documenting the collection.
Would those expenses have to be reimbursed by the Hispanic
Society?   Do the documents specifically state that the
transfer was a PERMANENT loan?  Does the Hispanic Society
have a case?

Next, I naturally checked with ANS Executive Director Ute
Wartenberg Kagan.  Here's what the ANS is able to say at
this point:

"The Huntington collection is probably the most comprehensive
collection of Iberian and Iberian-related coinage outside
Spain. In some areas, such as the Visigothic gold, it may
be the finest anywhere.  The ANS is committed to trying to
trying to preserve this collection in so far as it can.  It
is a highly important scholarly tool and educational resource,
of obvious relevance to many Americans.

It is clear to us from his correspondence that Archer Huntington,
the most generous benefactor in the history of the ANS, intended
this collection to remain whole and in the hands of the ANS.
He regarded the formation of the collection and its deposit
alongside the foremost numismatic collection in the US as a
service he had performed for his country.

For the past 60 years the ANS has been cataloguing and
researching the collection itself, and has been facilitating
the work of others on the collection. Like other parts of our
collection, Huntington’s coins are an important resource in
our educational program, including the annual Summer Seminar.
While the ANS may not have clear title to the coins, we are
negotiating as strenuously as we can with the HSA to try to
preserve the most important areas of the collection for future
generations of students and scholars."

Regarding the web site's Latin American item count, Ute
writes: "The 20,000 figure on the ANS site doesn't refer
to the HSA collection, which is primarily ancient, medieval,
Islamic, with some Latin American pieces."

Andrew Meadows of the ANS adds: "On the question of the date,
although the portion that Huntington personally transferred
to us came in the 1940s, after his death in 1955 a further
portion of his collection was discovered in the basement at
HSA and transferred to us under the same conditions as the
first batch.  So technically it is only since 1957 that we
have had the whole collection.  I believe that’s what the
website text refers to."

An article about the suit appeared in a Spanish publication.
I used's Babelfish translator to get a crude
English version.  One excerpt reads:

 The Hispanic Society has indicated that 'we want to recover
 the pieces because the American Numismatic failed to fulfill
 the loan agreement'. And it is that the Hispanic knew that
 the Numismatic was going to change its location a year ago
 without to have requested the pertinent permission

I read this to mean that the Hispanic society is using the
ANS' move from Audubon Terrace as a reason to nullify the
permanent loan agreement.

The case is before the Supreme Court of the State of New York
(case index number 600423-2008, Justice Charles E. Ramos).
The documents are public records, available on the court's
web site.  The ANS' move is relevant to the lawsuit, if only
as a pretext for the suit.  In their complaint, the Hispanic
Society states that when the ANS moved from Audubon Terrace
in 2004 a new one-year agreement was made with the ANS to
enable the transfer of the collection to the new location at
96 Fulton Street.  The agreement was to be renewable yearly.
When the ANS announced its latest move from Fulton Street to
Hudson Square, the Hispanic Society declined to renew its

On March 4th, the ANS was given 20 days to respond to the
suit.  As of today a response has not been posted to the
court's web site.

To read a newspaper article about the suit (in Spanish) see:
Full Story

To access the New York Supreme Court web site, see:
New York Supreme Court

For a description of the ANS Latin American collection, see:
ANS Latin American collection

For more information on the American Numismatic Society, see:
American Numismatic Society

For more information on the Hispanic Society of America, see:
Hispanic Society of America

[There is an informative article about the ANS in the April
2008 issue of COINage magazine.  "An Enduring Society" by Dom
Yaunchunas explores the organization's 150-year history and
plans for the future.  The article also notes the planned
publication later this year of a book titled "The 150 Greatest
Treasures of the ANS."


In response to our recent discussions of the U.S. Mint's
problem with high metals prices, Martin Purdy wrote: "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."

I put the question to François Velde of the Federal Reserve
Bank of Chicago.  Velde is an E-Sylum subscriber and he has
proposed rebasing our lowest denomination coins as a solution
to the situation.  He was not aware of any countries that had
actually done this, though.  It's an interesting and novel
solution nonetheless.




Responding to Acting American Numismatic Association Executive
Director Ken Hallenbeck's recent query about protecting the ANA's
rare book room from fire, Anne Bentley of the Massachusetts
Historical Society writes: "I admit, as a former paper conservator,
I still have nightmares about disaster recovery case studies
presented at professional meetings, where we were shown slides
of un-sprinklered libraries in complete disarray after the fire:
wooden furnishings and art splintered beyond recognition from
the force of the water hitting them and piles of waterlogged
books hurled from shelves, boards and papers ripped out, again
from the force of the water stream directed at the fire.

"We have a gas fire suppression system in our building, but
probably the water-based systems are the less expensive route
for smaller organizations.  I sound like an ad for fire
sprinkler systems but as a conservator, I could always deal
with wet items -- there's not a thing to be done with ashes
or objects that have been pulverized by fire hoses."

"I understand the anxiety about water near rare collections...
but even if the odds are greater that a sprinkler system would
accidentally discharge before they'd ever have a fire in their
library, I'd personally still prefer to have a sprinkler system
--especially given the relatively inexpensive water incursion
alarms and super-efficient micro-mist sprinkler heads now

"I'd also like to point out that, as far as water damage to
libraries is concerned and ignoring floods, you don't necessarily
need a sprinkler system to have a water incident in your building.
Water pipes running through walls and ceilings could leak at any
time. We had a weekend steam leak back in the late '70s that
resulted in drenched archives, which we dried out and reboxed
without adverse effects.

"From the Northeast Document Conservation Center, here is
Nick Artim's  Introduction to Fire Detection Systems  --
very useful to understand how the systems are designed to
work together
Full Story

"I'd recommend any librarian to lookup this National Park
Service site National Park Service
where they can download the following program:

Culture Shock: Fire Protection for Historic and Cultural
Property. Boston University, Preservation Studies Program,
1995. VHS video.

"A 23-minute color video that provides a persuasive argument
for the importance of fire detection and suppression systems
for cultural collections. Diagrams illustrating dry, wet pipe,
gaseous and water mist systems aid in understanding technical
and operational differences. The last few minutes focuses on
fire protection needs for historic structures and strategies
for concealing sprinkler heads to maintain the aesthetics of
a historic building

"For overall disaster planning, they might find the following

Brooks, Constance. Disaster Preparedness. Washington, DC:
Association for Research Libraries, 1993.    A Preservation
Planning Program resource guide that is a useful compilation
of hard-to-obtain resources to use as a starting point when
beginning the disaster planning process.
Full Story

"In addition, a simple internet search under such terms as
'disaster planning,'  'Library conservation,' and using the
Conservators On Line (CoOL) website at
Conservators On Line (CoOL)  will open an
endless array of material available online.  That should be
plenty to chew on for starters!"



Rich Mantia writes: "The 'Public Enemy #1' articles are
interesting and timely. The filming of the movie has made
the local news here in Chicago in 'snippets' because of the
celebrities involved and the location sites. Chicago is prime
for film locations when it comes to gangsters and vintage
period architecture.

"The unheralded connection to Chicago, beyond the many bank
robbery sites of the Midwest is that this year is the 75th
anniversary of the Century of Progress exposition held here
in the city from 1933 thru 1934, which is the exact same time
period with which the film centers. John Dillinger was the
recipient of the moniker of "Public Enemy #1" and he was shot
and killed while exiting the Biograph Theater here in Chicago
on July 22nd, 1934, but his death wasn't the only event of
the year!

"The Century of Progress expo opened on May 27, 1933 and closed
on October 31st, 1934 during the height of the Great Depression
and it made a profit! It was only scheduled to run for the year
1933, but because it was making unexpected profits it was kept
around for 1934. With violent crime being in the news, Chicagoans
came out in droves to spend their few dollars and cents on the
lakefront and the result is a plethora of numismatic material
and ephemera for us today.

"Century of Progress tokens, medals, exonumia, and ephemera
are catalogued in many books and sources, but the most common
ones known to numismatists are Martin and Dow 'Yesterday's
Elongateds' and Hibler and Kappen's 'So-Called Dollars'. Both
of these are the standard reference books for their specific
topics and cover the majority of the most easily collected
items. They are the first source for getting started, with a
long awaited new updated edition to the Hibler and Kappen book
available now. This book is a MUST HAVE for even the occasional

"There are other sources for ephemera that are little known.
The best source is the archives of the Century of Progress Expo
held at the University of Chicago which is fully catalogued and
digitized and the holdings at the Chicago Museum of Science and
Industry. Both collections come from archived material collected
during the Exposition itself. The Museum of Science and Industry
is unique and remarkable in that it is also the only temporary
building from the Columbian Expo of 1893, then called The Palace
of Fine Arts, that was made permanent and reopened and expanded
for The Century of Progress Exposition of 1933! Chicago is
truly a numismatic GEM of a city!

"The 75th anniversary World's Fair show is going to take place
on March 30th in Elk Grove Village here in Chicago. 1933, the
year Roosevelt took us off the gold standard, the 1933 St.
Gaudens became legend, and the Century of Progress opened.
John Dillinger and company are just a footnote, for our

To visit the University of Chicago's Century of Progress site, see:
University of Chicago's Century of Progress


Pete Smith writes: "Today (3-30-08) I attended a local bottle
show with related advertising items. This is something I did
regularly 15-20 years ago but haven’t done lately. Also at the
show was Robert (Bob) Smith, great-grandson of A. M. Smith. I
first met him years ago when Remy Bourne sold items from the
A. M. Smith library. Bob and I are the two most serious
collectors of A. M. Smith memorabilia that I know of.

As I was driving home I got to thinking about what I collect.
"It falls under the general category of "association items,"
that is, items associated with a numismatist. In the case of
A. M. Smith, these are advertising promotion items for his
other business, the California Wine Depot. Are there other
numismatists who also had advertising items for other businesses?
A great example is an advertising mirror I have for Grinnell
Brothers, associated with Albert Avery Grinnell.

"I have a box labeled, "I collect weird stuff." Among the
contents are a campaign button for William Woodin and a wooden
postcard from Farran Zerbe. I have tobacco scrip for the Lewisburg
Tobacco Company signed by Waldo Moore. I have a Civil War patriotic
envelope printed for A. S.  Robinson and addressed to W. Elliot
Woodward. I also have a piece of scrip for Woodward’s Mount
Pleasant Apothecary Store.

"Although I keep this in a box, I have trouble putting a "box"
around what I collect. I can’t describe what fits the collection
and what does not. I would be interested to hear from other E-Sylum
readers who collect association items. Can you define what it is
that you collect? How much of it is there? "


Howard A. Daniel III writes: "I recently finished reading the
book, 'Elephants for Mr. Lincoln, American Civil-War Era Diplomacy
in Southeast Asia'.  Co-author Dr. Anita Hibler is an old friend
and she has spent a lot of her adult life in Southeast Asia; she
loves the people who live and work in the region and is currently
living and teaching in Jakarta while her husband Will Tuchrello
heads the Library of Congress office for the region.

"The book is not going to keep you up overnight to finish reading
it, but if you are interested in Southeast Asian history, economics
and American activities in the region just before, during, and
after the Civil War, you will find many different tidbits of
information and sources in it.

"There are also quite a few instances of the Confederate Navy
operating in the region and its affects on American shipping and
trade so researchers interested in this area will want to read
about them.  One of the war supplies needed from the region was
hemp so the competition to acquire it dramatically raised the
prices to purchase it.  There are a few items about the French
taking over Viet Nam and Cambodia in the late 1850s and early
1860s that are interesting to me and I will research those sources.

"This was a time when the King of Siam (Thailand) offered
elephants to President Lincoln to fight the Civil War.  A
previous president sent the infamous King of Siam Proof Set
to a Thai king, but coins are not mentioned in the return gifts.
A gold sword to the king and a silver sword to the second king
are mentioned.  I bet another proof set and other gifts are
itemized in the references listed in the extensive Notes and
the Selected Bibliography.

"I have found some interesting information in my research of
Catholic missionaries in the region but I did not think of the
Baptist missionaries from the United States, like these authors
did.  There are many, many currency transactions with the monies
received from the Baptist Churches in the United States and the
locals in Southeast Asia.  I am sure I will not live long enough
to go through the hundred or more missionary references listed!

"The other author is William Strobridge, and the ISBN 10 is
0-8108-5762-6.  The publisher is The Scarecrow Press in Lanham,
Maryland, and it is available through"

[The King of Siam proof set is believed to have been presented
to the King on April 6, 1836 by Edmund Roberts on behalf of
President Andrew Jackson.  -Editor]


Web site visitor Judith B. Martin writes: "I am in possession
of a two-inch bronze medal sculpted by Laura Gardin Fraser and
awarded to my father in a Better Babies contest that took place
in March of 1915 in Los Angeles, CA.  My father will be 95 years
old in November of this year. Inscribed on the back is my father's
name and that he was 100% perfect.  We tease him about this
'perfection' as often as we can.  I was very interested to read
about Mrs. Fraser and her many accomplishments.  Thank you for
posting the information about her."




Inspired by our articles on the late Milt Friedberg's collecting
obsessions with currency and Teddy Bears, Philip Mernick of
London writes: "There is a UK advertising disc (aluminium, 1930s?)
for Peek Frean's Teddy Bear biscuits showing, naturally, a Teddy
Bear.  Peek Frean is a very well known London biscuit maker.  I
just happen to have the actual reverse die, showing aforementioned
bear, picked up from a flea market years ago.  The maker is Wright
& Son of Edgware. The maker's name also appears on the die but its
alignment is slightly different to that on my 'coin' indicating
the use of several dies."

Peek Frean's Teddy Bear Biscuits token
Image of Teddy Bear Biscuits token

Peek Frean's Teddy Bear Biscuits token die
image of Teddy Bear Biscuits token die




Bob Merchant writes: "I read the E-Sylum article about coin
decorations in bank building architecture. About two months
ago I was in Reading, Pennsylvania when I noticed a bank building
that had some beautiful copper decorations around the front
windows, including a Walking Liberty Half Dollar (both sides).
I took some photos."

[Bob provided links to several photos - thanks! I've put four
of them on the E-Sylum photo archive - here are the links.  There
are other U.S. coin decorations on the building; look close and
you'll see a Buffalo Nickel, Standing Liberty Quarter and others.
Are any of our readers near Reading?  Some close-up photos of
these other decorations would be nice to see. -Editor]

Bank Decoration Images
Bank Decoration Images
Bank Decoration Images
Bank Decoration Images



Regarding the filming of "Public Enemy #1", last week I wrote:
"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."

Joe Boling writes: "I recently watched all three seasons of
'Deadwood.' In season one the notes were amazing. By freezing
the action and stepping through the money-handling scenes a
frame at a time, you could make out brown backs and original
series nationals (or series 1875, which used the same designs).
In the second season, the money got much more like what Fred
Reed has in his 'Show Me the Money' book - you could make out
the Sonora notes in one scene. By the third season, the money
did not resemble anything I am familiar with.

"I surmise that someone got in Dutch over the accurate reproductions
used in season one, and the accuracy went downhill fast after the
props-master was visited by some supercilious federal agent."

Fred Reed adds: "There's been a real tug and pull over on-screen
depictions of federal currency for more than a century now.  I
chronicle a wide variety of real currency used in films in my
book SHOW ME THE MONEY!  The Standard Catalog of Motion Picture,
Television, Stage and Advertising Prop Money (McFarland, 2005).

"In fact, the history of money in films predates the silver
screen and Hollywood.  Thomas Edison's c.1895 kinetoscope movie
of a cock fight clearly shows the two young men in the background
passing money, wagering on the result of the action.  Often
genuine U.S. notes are used as 'flash' for close-ups, while
the imitation prop notes are used more generally in mid- and

"The first use of 'flash' I noted in my book was a saloon scene
in the 1920 William S. Hart western 'The Toll Gate.'   In a scene
in which Hart's character Black Deering is down on his luck and
looking for a quick score, he spies a dish on the back bar filled
with change and some currency, the most prominent of which is a
Third Charter $10 National Bank Note.  Other real federal currency
is shown prominently in Harold Lloyd's 'Safety Last' (1923), and
Edward G. Robinson's 'Smart Money' (1931).

"Real German high-value notes are prominently shown in John
Barrymore's 'Grand Hotel' (1932).  In recent years very realistic
movie prop money has brought visits from the feds several times.
I show these notes in my book, but if you want details you'll
have to read about it there."


In last week's preview of upcoming Whitman numismatic books,
I asked about a term mentioned in Katie Jaeger's new Guide
Book of United States Tokens and Medals: Arras tokens. Pete
Smith writes: "Arras tokens are used in Mexican wedding ceremonies.
A group of 13 tokens is given by the groom to the bride as a symbol
of his ability to provide for her. They are also used in some
other countries. Sometimes they are called 'wedding souvenirs.' "

Ralf W. Boepple of Stuttgart, Germany writes: "Arras tokens are
part of a Spanish or Hispanic wedding tradition. The groom
presents 13 coins or tokens to his bride during the wedding
ceremony. The tokens are blessed by the priest. They are handed
over to the bride as a symbol of the groom's intention to provide
for her well-being and are accepted by her as a symbol of her
trust in his pledge. I assume the number 13 stands for Jesus Christ
and the 12 apostles, not for the bad luck usually associated with
this number.

"Arras are traditionally made of gold, which means most arras
are gilded. Out of pure curiosity, I once asked around among my
Mexican wife's friends (they found it quite funny that anybody
would actually be interested in these details. I guess, they
translated my explanation that I'm a 'numismatist' with 'crazy,
but harmless') .They described their arras to be tokens with
religious motives, depicting praying hands or the pope. In one
instance, they were gilded five centavo coins from Guatemala.
My mother-in-law's arras were lost in a robbery, but she
remembered them to have been the tiny 2 pesos gold coins the
country produced in the 1940s.
Must have been quite some dowry at that time."



Regarding coins deaccessioned from the Garrett collection at
Johns Hopkins, Dan Demeo writes: "In 1982, Bowers and Ruddy
Galleries issued a fixed price list of the Celebrated John W.
Adams Collection of 1794 U.S. Large Cents.  Similar to some
recent collections, John Adams assembled a collection traceable
to early collectors (Maris, Hays, Beckwith, et al).  Of the
coins, 17 were from the Garrett collection, most from the Stack's
(1976) and Bowers and Ruddy (1979) sales, but also a number
obtained by private treaty from the Johns Hopkins University
before the public sales.  No mention of Richard Picker or other
dealers was made in connection with these coins;  Adams, Bowers,
and Bagg were all involved with the catalogue and could comment
further.  The coins obtained by private treaty were:

5.  S18b, the finest known, graded in the catalogue as MS65, $55,000.

6.  S19b, " 1973".  Choice VF35, $7,500.
Incidentally, the photo of the reverse of this coin was
inadvertently switched with the S20 in the catalogue.

19.  S26, third finest, and plated in the Frossard and Chapman texts,

30.  S40, finest known, MS-63, not bad for a coin considered
R6 at the time, $22,500.

35.  S43, tied third finest.  AU50, $3,750.

45.  S50, AU50.  "Acquired by John Adams in a transaction
with The Johns Hopkins University nearly a decade ago."  $10,000.

67.  S66, only F12, but still tied for 6th finest.  Obtained
in 1973, traded back and forth with Denis W. Loring.  $1,500.
(Why didn't I buy any of these?)

74.  S71, 3rd finest.  AU55, from the Frossard collection.  $8,000.

"Surprisingly, despite the large format and one coin per page
in the catalogue, previous owners are only mentioned, and
detailed pedigrees (or provenances), with dates and venues,
are lacking, though there is a short biographical sketch on
many past collectors and dealers in an appendix.  In looking
at a short catalogue (there are 75 coins in the collection),
it is certainly impressive how many had been owned by the
giants of large cent history, from Dr. Maris to Dr. Sheldon."



Drew Nyman of Florida furnished a partially obscured image
of his curious $100 bill lacking serial numbers.  Obtained
from the Bank of Palm Beach several years ago, it has been
examined by some knowledgeable people at a FUN show who believed
it to be authentic, but there are still questions about how
this error occurred.

Drew found us by reading an earlier E-Sylum item on our web
site (see link below).  In that article I wrote: "I was naturally
curious when I noticed an ad which showed a U.S. dollar bill
that did NOT have any serial numbers.  Even more curious was
the fact that the Treasury Seal WAS present, an impossibility
since both the seal and the serial numbers are printed together
in the overprinting process."

The image in the ad turned out to have been altered deliberately
to avoid Secret Service scrutiny.  I don't recall seeing a real
note with such an error.  As the article states, such an error
is thought to be impossible.  Although I have a small collection
of error notes, I've not studied the area in detail.  Was I
correct in saying that the serial numbers and Treasury Seal
are printed simultaneously?  If so, how might have this error

To view an image of Drew's note, see:
image of Drew's note



It hasn't hit the mainstream papers yet, but a group of
technology companies is circulating a proposal that could
solve a number of sticky problems relating to electronic
payments and revolutionize the way money and even coinage
is used.  Working groups from such diverse organizations
as Apple, eBay, Google, Linden Labs, MIT's Lincoln Laboratory,
Mastercard, Bank of America, the Federal Reserve Bank of New
York and the U.S. Treasury spent months working out the
details of a highly secure, privacy-protected national
(and someday international) electronic payment mechanism.

Why eBay? Because eBay owns PayPal, the most successful
online payment company.  PayPal technology links credit
card accounts to email, allowing shoppers to pay for online
purchases (such as eBay auctions) with the click of a mouse.

Why Linden Labs?  Because Linden owns and operates Second
Life, the most successful "virtual world", a kind of game
where players mimic real life - buying and selling virtual
real estate, holding down virtual jobs, and creating online
businesses.  Second Life residents use "Linden Dollars", a
virtual currency that is actually convertible to and from
real U.S. dollars.

Why Lincoln Laboratory?  For over half a century Lincoln Labs
has been at the forefront of computing and defense technology.
Lincoln built the DEW Line (Distant Early Warning), a radar
surveillance system protecting the U.S. borders from missile

Working with other key partners worldwide, the core group of
researchers, computer scientists, engineers, bankers and
economists and have designed a new system to cleanly integrate
all manner of electronic payments and accounting systems.  The
interesting part of this for numismatists is how the system
would integrate banknotes and even coins.  The quotes to follow
are extracted from a .pdf copy of the proposal my boss received
last week.

"We reached an epiphany early in our brainstorming sessions
when we realized just how much people distrust electronic
money.  Although we use it all the time, we never feel completely
comfortable.  There's just something about the feel of a physical
object," said Marissa Mayer, Google's Product Manager and
spokesperson for the group.

"So what we came up with is a bit of a throwback, but one with
a complete update for the 21st century," she continued.  Instead
of carrying a walletfull of credit/debit cards and having to
remember dozens of different passwords or PIN codes for our
accounts, we would carry a pocketful of special new coins which
(using a highly secure data protocol) would know who we are and
link seamlessly to our accounts.  Developed by Lincoln Labs
scientists, these new universal coins will be called UbiquiCoins
(or Quoins for short).

The obverse of the Quoins would carry the standard official
Federal emblems and insignia, but in another throwback will
also include the name of an issuing institution, such as your
local bank or credit card company - not unlike the old National
Bank notes.  This private-issue connection made me think
immediately of Liberty Dollar proponent Bernard von NotHaus.
I reached him on his cell phone, and he's intrigued with the
idea.  We both had a laugh at the thought, though - it's not
likely that the Fed would allow it, but Bernie's going to talk
to his bank about issuing a Liberty-dollar affinity Visa card.

The reverse side of many Quoins would carry Federal emblems,
but commercial and personal images would be permitted, as long
as they fall within FCC decency standards.  The commercial part
is where Google comes in.  Like John Gault, who sold advertising
on the back of his encased postage stamps in the Civil War,
Google will sell ads on the back of Quoins, splitting revenue
with both the government and individuals.

"It's a win-win-win for all parties," said Marissa Mayer.
"Individuals basically get a small rebate for every coin they
use, and the government gets funds to help support the
infrastructure.  And course, business is helped by getting
their message out to the right people at the right time."
I can see it now - you're about to drop a coin in a vending
machine and an ad appears: "Buy Coke!  Here's a 10-cent-off

Individuals could opt out of the program and in fact, could
program their Quoins to display personalized images or photos
on the reverse.  Check-printing companies will get into the
game with web sites that allow bank customers to choose from
galleries of standard designs or create their own.  A member
of one of the focus groups testing the product already had
an idea: "My Quoins will show Mt. Rushmore, only the faces
will be me, my wife and our two kids."

Ubiquicoins could be used anywhere, for anything.  They
display a nominal denomination just like coins today, but
they're more versatile.  Suppose you want to buy a 50-cent
can of Pepsi from a vending machine.  Drop in a $1.00 Ubiquicoin,
and watch it slide down a clear chute.  It comes right back to
you in the coin return, only now it's a half dollar.  The design
and value change before your eyes.

"We liked this feature so much we installed vending machines
in one building at our Mountain View campus.  It's weird - food
and soft drinks are free for Google employees, but so many people
used the machines instead that we made over $2,500 in a week."

Environmentalists like the feature too, reckoning that by
immediately recycling coins over 35 million tons of carbon
emissions would be saved annually because vending machine
operators and banks no longer have to transport and count
coins.  Al Gore claims to have invented the feature.

They also have a sort of overdraft feature, so you never have
to run out of coins as long as you have money in the bank.
Need to pay a toll?  Just drop in one of your coins.  If there's
any leftover money on the coin it will be deposited in your
account.  If you're short, your account would be debited for
the difference.  What could be easier?

All manner of electronic devices would be outfitted with
"Quoin slots" to accept payments.  Buying on eBay?  Just
pump your coins thru a slot on the side of your computer.
Daughter running low on her wireless minutes?  A friendly
voice chimes in saying "Deposit 50 cents for the next three
minutes.  Please deposit 50 cents."   She would have to stick
a coin in the slot on the side of her cell phone, just like
it were an old-fashioned pay phone.

"This back-to-the-future stuff is so retro it's cool," said
another member of a focus group testing the product.  "And
they've thought of everything - they're even waterproof so
you can toss them in a fountain."  The coins actually shimmer
MORE underwater.

U.S. Mint Director Ed Moy practically beams at the prospect.
"I'm so sick of talking about the high cost of metal.  We're
hoping to shut down all our facilities and outsource
manufacturing to my cousin's semiconductor fabrication plant
in Taiwan."

But the Mint isn't going out of business. The creative work
would go on.  The Mint's coin designers would have their hands
full dreaming up commemorative and custom designs for all these
new coins.  "We don't get our hands dirty with engraving tools
anymore anyhow," said Sculptor-Engraver John Mercanti.  "All
my folks use computers now, so I thought, what the heck."
Mercanti's team would relocate to rented office space elsewhere
in Philadelphia.  I understand negotiations are underway to
sell the building to an electrical supply company.

And what about the Bureau of Engraving and Printing?  They'll
shut down production, too.  High-denomination Quoins eliminate
the need for paper.  This could to save another 48.3 million
tons of carbon emissions annually.

Director Larry R. Felix emphasized that the security and
anti-counterfeiting goals of the Treasury Department would
remain the same - "Our engineers are the best in the world at
what they do, and have always adapted to changing technologies.
Being one step ahead of the counterfeiters is our only mission.
With these innovations, we figure we'll be at least one and
three-eighths steps ahead."


Dr. Sheldon, in the final chapter of his book "Early American
Cents" describes the game of "Old Cent Whist" invented by
collector George French (p338-339).  In the game, collectors
compare their sets of large cents one by one, scoring points
for ownership of varieties and the best condition specimens.
The game foreshadowed today's Registry Set craze, and could
be adapted to virtually any collecting field, even numismatic
literature.  But our field is so broad that I doubt any two
libraries would have a common basis for comparison.  But if
bibliophiles were to have their own game, what might it be?

I've mulled the idea over off and on for a couple years.
Finally something occurred to me that might be an interesting
feature for The E-Sylum. Remember the game "Battleship" from
when you were a kid?  You'd set up your ships in a hidden grid
and call out positions to your opponent.  "B9" - Miss!  "G4" -
HIT! Etc.  The game goes on until all of someone's fleet is
sunk.  Well, in Biblio-Battleship, players call out random
coordinates that lead to an item in another player's library.
That player tells us something interesting about the item,
then has the chance to fire a shot at the next player's library.
Nobody's boats get sunk, but we all get treated to some
discoveries, which could well generate some interesting
threads of discussion.

To kick things off, I asked a bewildered Peter Gaspar (our
first official E-Sylum subscriber) to think of three random
numbers between 1 and 12.  His response led me to a couple
of interesting items described in the next articles.


[This item is the first in what I hope will be a series
of articles submitted by our readers as part of the
Biblio-Battleship game discussed above.  Peter Gaspar's
number sequence {2,5,7} led me to bookcase 2, shelf number
5 in my numismatic library.  A little past the halfway
point on the shelf (7 out of 12) I found a set of Numismatic
Gallery Monthly, complete from Volume 1, No, 1 through
volume 5, no. 8).  The house organ was published by Numismatic
Gallery (dealers Abe Kosoff and Abner Kreisberg) beginning
in May, 1948.  The set came from dealer John Bergman and
was given to me by NBS member Bob Wester when he stayed at
my house in Pittsburgh during the 1989 ANA convention.

I plucked an issue from the middle of the pack - September
1950.  On page 10 I found a short article contributed to
the publication by reader Edward C. Briggs titled "An
Unusual Device" -Editor]

 On the majority of all coins, we see images of great leaders,
 devices representing our ideals or the scenes of some great
 historic event.  The coin which I write about, however, is
 none such.  The engraving which it bears is no great leader,
 no place where much history was made, and I hope it is not
 a symbol of our ideals!  The main design is devoted to ...
 a coffin.  This unusual item is one of the series of hard-times
 tokens issued by individual merchants during the Civil War
 period.  This piece was issued by J. J. Diehl, an undertaker,
 of 133 Essex Street, New York City.  It is dated 1863 and
 made from copper.  It is truly one of my most interesting

[It's interesting that the article refers to the civil war
as a "hard-times" era. That's an apt description of the
economic climate of the time, but today U.S. collectors
think of only the 1830s/1840s tokens as "Hard Times Tokens."

John Bergman passed away and I lost touch with Bob Wester
some years ago.  I met him at the legendary Invasion of
Louisville trip to Armand Champa's home.  It was Bob's visit
during the 1989 ANA that spurred me into action to build my
numismatic library.  The phone rang one morning before the
show. Larry Dziubek of the Western Pennsylvania Numismatic
Society knew that Bob was a big coin book collector and told
me about a rare book he'd seen at dealer Hank Spangenberger's
table the day before.  I had a good numismatic library but
was not a big spender on rare books yet, so (like an idiot!)
I passed the word to Bob.

When we arrived at the show, Bob went to Spangenberger's
table and bought the book for about $300.  It was a copy of
the Newlin work on half dimes.  Within an hour or so Bob
turned around and sold it to George Kolbe for $1,000.  To
this day my library still lacks an original Newlin, but I
vowed that my library shelves wouldn't remain bare for lack
of trying.  Right after the convention I put out my shingle
as a numismatic book dealer.

I remember showing John Burns my new business cards and he said,
"Since when are you a book dealer?"  I said, "Since I printed
these cards."  I placed ads in various publications and began
purchasing numismatic literature from book and ephemera dealers
across the country.  I also purchased several complete libraries
which I incorporated into my own, consigning the duplicates to
various sales.

So - does anyone know what became of Bob Wester?  George Kolbe
writes: "I knew Bob from seeing him at a few ANA's and his
participation in my sales for a short period. I lost touch years
ago. His enthusiasm, though brief, was certainly infectious and
I expect he spurred others on to expand their numismatic libraries."

And who was Edward C. Briggs?  Isn't this fun?  Another
Biblio-Battleship item from the same Numismatic Gallery
Monthly issue follows. -Editor]


[This item is the second part of this week's Biblio-Battleship
game discussed above.  It's an excerpt from Numismatic
Gallery Monthly, September 1950, p10). -Editor]

 Over 100 friends of B. Max Mehl greeted "Mr. Coins" at a
 Testimonial Dinner in his honor on August 26th at the
 Schroeder in Milwaukee.  Col. Joseph Moss was a grand
 toastmaster and old-timer George Bauer and William Philpott
 spoke briefly about B. Max and their experiences with him.

 President Sheldon announced that the ANA had awarded our
 honored guest an Honorary Life Membership in the Association.
 The Max was presented with a beautiful plaque to commemorate
 the occasion.

 A swell fillet mignon dinner accompanied by the strains
 of popular and classical tunes was followed by songs by
 the Hi-Lo Barbershop Quartette.  All in all a grand time
 for a grand guy.

[It's interesting that this random library selection would
bring us back to Dr. Sheldon, whose account of Old Cent Whist
inspired this game.  And William Philpott shows up for the
second time in this issue.  Can anyone tell us more about
him?  -Editor]


[An E-Sylum reader forwarded this article from the Charlotte
Observer about the anniversary of the first coins struck at
the old U.S. Mint building in Charlotte, NC.  The Mint's
first gold coin was struck 170 years ago, on March 28, 1838.

It was a beautiful coin, with a profile of a crowned Lady
Liberty on its face surrounded by 13 stars, one each for
the original colonies.

And it shone brightly, made of pure gold, gold likely taken
from the ground under Charlotte.

On March 28, 1838, the first gold coin -- a $5 Half Eagle --
was struck at the U.S. Mint branch. It was on West Trade
Street where the federal building now stands. The old mint,
moved in the 1930s, now houses the Mint Museum on Randolph

"This was a small courthouse town around a trading crossroads,"
said Tom Hanchett, historian at the Levine Museum of the New
South. "Having the mint here drew people from literally around
the world."

The 1849 discovery of gold in California eclipsed Charlotte.
In 1861 the Confederacy took control of Charlotte's mint
branch and it ceased production.

One of four statues at the Square is a miner holding a pan
and spilling gold onto the head of a banker modeled on
former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan.

Fated to be torn down, the U.S. Mint was salvaged by a
devoted group who scraped together $950 to buy the building.
Its stones were numbered so it could be reassembled, and
dumped on donated land near Briar Creek.

Through a federal program, the building was re-erected and
opened as the state's first art museum in 1936.

The Mint has an exhibit of gold coins made in Charlotte,
Half Eagles ($5), Quarter Eagles ($2.50) and One Dollar
($1) coins with the tiny "C" mint mark.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

For more information on the Mint Museum and exhibit, see:
Mint Museum


[Dick Johnson submitted the following notes on a Boston Herald
article by a team reporting from the recent Bay State show.

A father-son team -- both named Ted Ancher -- attended the Bay
State Coin Show this weekend.  The father is the narrator/
photographer, the son is the writer/producer.

They interviewed and photographed Harry Miller of Miller's
Mint of Patchogue, NY at his bourse table who said: "collectors
feel confident they have assets of real value and appreciation"
in the coins they own and purchase.

"It was not so long ago that we had the first million-dollar
coin," he said. "Now it is almost a common event."

Miller cautions anyone eager to launch into coin collecting
to study up on the field and become familiar with possible
pitfalls, such as overpriced coins and even fakes. "Go, look,
ask - speak to reputable people and look into areas you need
to know about," he said.

Both Beth Deisher of Coin World, and Doug Mudd, ANA curator,
were also quoted in the article, recounting recent events in
the field leading to the popularity of collecting coins, both
in new coins from the Mint and current economic factors.

As a sidebar article they wrote on the Lincoln cent, with a
photo of an S VDB. They told of early events of the cent and
the anticipated four new reverses in 2009. I was impressed with
the accuracy of the information in both articles.

Main article on the show:
Full Story

Sidebar article on the Lincoln cents:
Full Story


Yossi Dotan writes: "In The E-Sylum of March 23 I liked
the item on the distribution of Maundy money in Ireland.
I have printed the article and added it to my copy of Dr.
Brian Robinson's book 'The Royal Maundy' (London: Kaye &
Ward, 1977). Maundy money is a fascinating, typically
English, subject."

[I have a copy of the Robinson book as well.  Wondering
if a book or monograph on the topic had been published
more recently than 1977, I did a search and found a 1992
Spink publication, also by Brian Robinson, titled "Silver
Pennies and Linen Towels: Story of the Royal Maundy" -Editor]

Yossi adds: "I have also a monograph on the topic written
by Charles R. Hosch in 2005: Great Britain Maundy Coinage
Since 1822: A Guide to the History, Ceremony and Coinage
of the Royal Maundy. Now updated to 2008, the monograph
can be found at
Full Story .

[Yossi reminded me that we discussed Hosch's web site in
The E-Sylum on January 27, 2008.  -Editor]




Last week we published a story about a rare British medal
discovered by a New Zealand man named Kevin Homan.  Martin
Purdy writes: "Upper Hutt is a pretty small town by world
standards (30,000 or so), though it counts as a city here in
New Zealand.  As it happens Kevin Homan and his wife are
friends of my in-laws, so I popped round for a visit after
the story made the front page of our national newspaper
during the week.  I took some photos of both sides of the
medal and posted them here, along with the text of the
newspaper article:
Full Story

Here's an older story on the find on the Temple Bar research website:
Full Story "



Kerry Rodgers forwarded an article about the elimination
of the lowest denomination coin in Malaysia beginning April 1.
He notes "However, the report perpetuates misinformation in
its reports of the rounding system practised in a number of
countries that have ditched their lower denomination coins.
I have noted this same misinformation appearing in North
America the debate over whether the US and/or Canada should
dispense with their one cent coins.

"Australia and New Zealand use 'Swedish rounding'. This is
not the rounding up to the nearest 5 cents stated in the
article. If a cash sale is involved, places such as supermarkets,
gas stations and even corner shops have a sign saying something
along the following lines:

 all sales ending in 1c, 2c, 6c, 7c are rounded down
 to the nearest 5 cents;

 all sales ending in 3c, 4c, 8c, 9c are rounded up
 to the nearest 5 cents"

"Of course sales ending in 0c or 5c remain unchanged.
Essentially what we gain on the swings we lose on the
roundabouts. No one is aggrieved.  It works very well.
And if you want to pay the exact $19.99, then use plastic.

"Someone else may have stated all this but I continue
to see a confused version of the situation, whether the
on is deliberate or not I can't tell but have become highly
suspicious! "

Kerry adds: "I was in a supermarket last evening and now
that we have dumped the 5 cent coins the notice simply said:

 all sales ending in 1c, 2c, 3c, 4c and 5c are rounded
 down  to 0 cents;

 all sales ending in 6c, 7c, 8c, 9c are rounded
 up to 10 cents"


Ordinary people have surrendered 2050 artifacts to antiquities
officials in southern Iraq, according to a senior Antiquities
Department archaeologist.

The pieces were handed over to the Ministry of Tourism and
Antiquities in a ceremony in Baghdad, said Ali Kadhem.

Kadhem heads the Antiquities Department’s branch in the
southern Province of Nasiriya, home to some of the most
fascinating remains of the Sumerian civilization, including
their fabulous capital city of Ur.

He said 1100 pieces were metal coins belonging to various
Mesopotamian epochs.

"The collection is bound to enrich the magnificent
possessions of Iraq Museum’s numismatics gallery," he said.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[An article published this week by the Russian news agency
Novosti implies (but doesn't seem to specifically state)
that Russia will cease production of its smallest coin, the
kopeck.  Here are some excerpts from the article, which
focuses more on economics and inflation than coinage.

The ten-year history of the Russian kopeck has come to an
end. Arkady Tkachuk, Director of Goznak Association in charge
of printing banknotes, said, "Kopecks cost more than their
nominal value and do not return to banks. This is why there
is no point in minting them."

This verdict and the start of the mass minting of ten ruble
coins, which was also announced by Tkachuk, mean that the
government has acknowledged its defeat in curbing inflation.

The kopeck returned into circulation after the 1997 denomination.
But the new Russian coin was different from its Soviet predecessor.
A Soviet kopeck could buy a glass of soda water or a box of
matches. A Russian kopeck is worth nothing and can buy nothing,
but it was not supposed to buy anything. In bringing it back,
the then Russian leaders merely wanted it to symbolize the
strength of the national currency and the advent of stability
in the Russian economy.

The appearance of new zeroes on banknotes is not far off -
a 5,000-ruble banknote was put into circulation in 2006.
Now the printing of a 10,000-ruble banknote is under
discussion. In the meantime, the 1997 symbol of stability
has become a real burden in the wallets of Russians. People
have long stopped taking kopeck change, or bending to pick
up a dropped coin. Now, ten years after, Tkachuk said,
"Kopecks are mostly used in payments for utilities. If we
round these sums, we will save on getting rid from small

Withdrawal of kopecks from circulation and replacement of
ten-ruble banknotes with coins are justified economically,
but they make it abundantly clear that inflation is out
of control.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[The Cincinnati Inquirer published an article this week
on the strange case of a man held in jail on a million-dollar
bond as a result of a 18-year old incident where he was accused
of spending rolls of dimes that turned out to have dimes only
on the end and nothing but cents in between.  The unusual size
of the bond is a result of a quirk in the laws - because of
an unrelated felony conviction, this incident was also treated
as a felony. -Editor]

Gary Weaver had no idea his criminal past would catch up to
him in the oddest way when was arrested Wednesday...

Weaver pleaded guilty to that charge today and Hamilton County
Municipal Court Judge Richard Bernat sentenced Weaver to the
one night he’d already spent in jail.

But court officials also noted Weaver had a warrant for his
arrest on an old theft case – from 1990.

Assistant Prosecutor Betsy Sundermann said the allegations
in that case are that Weaver, on Jan. 12, 1990, walked into
a store and bought items valued at $21.64, paying the bill,
at least in part, with rolls of dimes.

Later, though, store employees discovered the rolls of dimes
actually were rolls of pennies with dimes on each end.

The case, despite a loss of less than $25 if the allegations
are true, was charged as a felony.

Bernat then imposed the original bond on the case.

"How much is that?" Guinan asked because he didn’t have the
bond paperwork on the 18-year-old case.

The answer was $1 million.

That means Weaver is in the jail – that officials say is
overcrowded and in need of replacement – on a bond that is
$999,978.36 higher than the amount he is accused of stealing
18 years ago.

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


This week's featured web site was mentioned by Ed Snible
in his February 26 blog entry.  He writes: "If, like me,
you are interested in the catalogs for their research value
I'd like to remind you of Warren Esty's ancient coin auction
catalog site. This site tells how many ancient coins are in
each catalog, how good the coins are, and breaks the counts
down into Greek, Roman, Byzantine, etc.
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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