The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 11, Number 19, May 11, 2008:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2008, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Peyton Smith, Emily Sewell and
Amanda DeWees of Whitman Publications, Robert Ronus, Dave Welsh,
Dick Dunn, Robert Kanterman and Larry Schuffman. Welcome aboard!
We now have 1,140 subscribers.

This week we open with news of what I hope will be a welcome change
in the format of The E-Sylum newsletter.  In other NBS news, ballots
for the greatest American numismatic literature survey have been
distributed.  Book announcements and reviews this week include
Canadian municipal trade tokens, a guidebook of Mexican Numismatic
Literature and the Guide to Vintage Coin Folders and Albums.
[And speaking of coin folders, the June issue of COINage has a
nice article about David Lange and the collecting of coin boards,
folders and albums, written by Dom Yanchunas.]

In responses from last week's issue, Daniel Carr and Dick Johnson
review computer sculpting programs for coin and medal designers,
Tim Shuck discusses platinum coins, and Larry Gaye discusses
Byzantine coins used for tossing at soccer matches.

In the news, an editorial writer blasts the design choices for
Washington D.C's quarter, under-banked inhabitances of the Alaskan
bush resort to cash substitutes, and counterfeit-fueled inflation
in Somalia sparks rioting.

To learn how many people it takes to create a one-hundred dollar
bill, read on. Have a great week, everyone.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Four months away from our tenth anniversary, The E-Sylum is
getting a facelift.  It's not Botox but HTML.  Hypertext markup
language (or HTML) is the stuff behind the scenes that tells
your computer how to display web pages.  Beginning this week
The E-Sylum will be published in both plain-text format and HTML,
which allows for a much more appealing design incorporating links,
color, images, and other formatting features.

This week only you will receive TWO separate copies of your
E-Sylum: the first one in the text format you're used to, and
the second one in the new HTML format.  It may appear in your
Junk folder; if so, add us to your "safe senders" list.  You may
also have to tell your mail reader to download the images in the
message. But these should be one-time configuration changes on
your part, and barring any major problems, you'll receive The
E-Sylum in glorious color from now on.  Users of Blackberries
and other small devices which don’t display HTML should continue
to see a plain text version.

Many thanks to the Numismatic Bibliomania Society board for their
financial support in hiring a design firm (Grove Marketing, Inc.)
which has been working with us on a redesign of our web site as
well as The E-Sylum.  NBS also purchased some new services from
Capalon Internet Solutions, the folks who run which
hosts our mailing list.  We're excited about the improvements and
hope you find the new format both useful and enjoyable.


Len Augsburger writes: "The ballots for the Numismatic Bibliomania
Society survey of the greatest American numismatic literature
(announced in the Fall 2007 issue of The Asylum) have been mailed
to the membership.  President John Adams has taken the lead by
completing and returning the first ballot.  I'll issue updates in
this space over the next few weeks as ballots are submitted."

Alan Weinberg writes: "The list neglects to list Joe Levine's
Presidential Coin and Antique Company's auction catalogs from
approximately 1970 to date (which I'd rate in the top 25),
DeWitt/Sullivan American Political Badges and Medalets which lists
and pictures many hundreds of tokens and medals (which I'd rate
in the top 30) and Frent/Schlesinger which pictures its share of
tokens and medals (which I'd rate in the top 75).

"The Frent/Schlesinger reference is a massive two-volume set that
is titled 'Running for President'. And yes, the co-author
Schlesinger is THE Arthur Schlesinger, Harvard Professor and
noted advisor to JFK.

"These are expensive books - Sullivan ($200) and F/S ($200 or so)
- and are more widely known among political ephemera collectors-
- but have considerable plates and listings of tokens and medals
- in the case of Sullivan (DeWitt is an earlier less complete
version of Sullivan) literally multi-hundreds of rare tokens
and medals are pictured, described in detail, etc.

"But Joe Levine's PCAC catalogues, which go back to the early
70's, have had extensive sales of great tokens and medals with
plates and historical descriptions. How his auction sales
catalogues escaped the list sent out is a mystery. The PCAC
catalogues have a prominent place in my library. They are much
more prominent in the numismatic hobby than perhaps 1/3rd of
the references listed."

["Top 100" projects such as this always stir controversy,
but that's part of the appeal and fun of them.  I'm sure
many worthy publications didn't make the first cut, but let
us have your thoughts.  I'm a bit perplexed myself on how
I'll cast my votes for despite my long association with
American Numismatic Literature, there are quite a number
of items on the list (particularly auction catalogs) that
I do not have in my library and would have a difficult
time evaluating. -Editor]


Ian Stevens of the David Brown Book Company writes: "E-Sylum
readers may be interested in a number of numismatic titles
we're currently offering at a discount."

A number of titles on Greek, Roman, British, Scottish, and
U.S. numismatics are included. Two examples are: 'Sylloge
of Coins in the British Isles 55: Hermitage Museum, St
Petersburg Part IV. English, Irish and Scottish Coins,
1066-1485' (list price $108.00, now $29.98, and 'Imprimatur:
The Art of the Bank Note' (list price $90, now $39.98).
For more information, see the firm's web site:

To read the complete article, see:


[Author Serge Pelletier forwarded this following press
release about his newest book. -Editor]

The fifth edition of “A Compendium of Canadian Municipal
Trade Tokens” by Serge Pelletier, is now available from
the publisher.

“For the most part, prices are strong with some rather
spectacular increases in the collector pieces with low
mintage.  There is also a renewed interest in varieties
and silver pieces” said Ray Desjardins, the editor, whose
work concentrates mainly on determining the market values.

“We have also noticed an increase in popularity of Canadian
municipal trade tokens with overseas collectors.  Initially
attracted by the bimetallic pieces, more and more of them
now collect all circulating issues.  All this bodes well
for the hobby” concluded Desjardins.

The 160-page publication is half-letter size, spiral bound,
with a card cover and a transparent plastic protector.  It
list the more than 1,700 Canadian municipal trade tokens
know to date, in all metal (except pure gold and platinum)
and provides reference number, denomination, year, succinct
description of obverse and reverse, metal, mintage and
value for each.

The tokens are presented by province and territory, the
municipalities in alphabetical order within, and the tokens
are listed chronologically.

Its built-in checklist makes it a must for any Canadian
municipal trade token collector.

It is available for $14.95 from the publisher, Eligi
Consultants Inc., which can reached at: Box 11447, Station
H, Nepean, ON  K2H 7V1 CANADA, tel: +1-613-823-3844, fax:
+1-613-825-3092, Email:  S&H is extra.
Canadian resident must add the applicable taxes.

Formerly known as “Canadian Trade Dollars”, Canadian municipal
trade tokens are community “coins” sponsored by a local
non-profit organization and given legal monetary value in
a specific area, for a limited time, by the appropriate
local authority.  They are used as money in normal commercial
transaction during the period of validity.  These tokens
have been issued, however, for commemorative and fund
raising purposes since 1958.


[David Lange submitted this review of the print-on-demand
book "Guide to Vintage Coin Folders and Albums" by Thomas
Moll. -Editor]

I learned of this book by sheer chance, with Dennis Tucker
of Whitman announcing his discovery of it on a popular coin
message forum. Perhaps it is meaningful that the only response
to this posting was my own, but I was determined to get a
copy of the book nonetheless. Certainly the reason that this
book, published last year, went unnoticed until now is that
it comes from the print-on-demand service, A person
has to be looking for a particular title to find it there,
and it never occurred to me that anyone else was studying
this subject besides me.

I’ve never heard of Thomas Mall, which is unusual, given my
many writings about coin albums, folders and boards; we folks
have a way of finding one another. I suspect that Mr. Moll
does not follow mainstream numismatics or our paths would
have crossed at some point. A search of his other Lulu titles
reveals that his main interest seems to be German-American
genealogy in Pennsylvania, as he has written a four-volume
series on this subject. There is no biographical information
to be found within this particular book.

Now that I have a copy of his coin album book in hand,
here’s the scoop: This is a perfect-bound volume measuring
6” x 9” and including 117 pages in all. It has a number of
black-and-white illustrations of so-so quality, but these
have been selected and placed quite usefully. Following a
brief overview of the subject, including Moll’s introduction
to coin collecting as a child, Part I features a listing of
available brands and titles. These are arranged not by
publishers, but rather alphabetically by country. For example,
under the heading of Australia Moll briefly describes the
four companies that produced coin folders and albums for
this nation and includes a roster of the titles each one
offered. A price range is given for whichever entries he
has acquired for his own collection, while the ones that
have eluded him are marked simply as “not seen.”

There are several omissions of both brands and titles
(prominent among the USA publishers not mentioned at all
are Harris, Shore Line and Hobbies Unlimited). On the other
hand, I learned from this book of several Whitman titles
never even suspected by me. These include the eight folders
Whitman produced for Ireland having green covers in place
of the usual blue (Moll confirmed six of these in his own
collection) and a line of Whitman folders for Jersey and
Guernsey that the company announced but neither Moll nor
I have seen.

Part II is quite unusual in its theme: The author lists
all the options for storing coins in folders and albums
not made for those specific issues. For example, if one
wants to house of collection of Luxembourg one-franc pieces
from the years 1952-87, the author advises using Whitman
folder No. 9042, which is titled simply NICKELS. This almost
borders on the surreal for me, as my interest in coin folders
and albums is solely in their appeal as collectable items,
whereas Moll’s focus seems to be on their utility in storing
and displaying coins. This section occupies 20 pages by
itself and includes some very obscure country references
(Zambian collectors—never fear! There are folder options
for you).

Part III brings Moll’s book to a conclusion with a complete
roster of Dansco folders by catalog number and Whitman
folders and albums by catalog number. This can be quite
useful as a checklist of available titles. Though I published
most of this information in a series of articles in The Asylum
some years ago, it is not generally available at this time
with the exception of Moll’s book.

Per the author’s own mission statement, this book does not
address folders produced before the 1950s nor after the
mid-1980s, his focus being on what he considers to be (and
I concur) the heyday of folder and album production—the 1950s
and ‘60s. One weakness of this book is that it does not address
the various editions of each publisher’s coin folders and
albums (to date there are ten distinctive editions of the
Whitman blue folders alone), nor does it provide any specific
chronology. For example, a nearly complete listing is given
of the Whitman line, yet there is no way to know when a
particular title was introduced and, in many cases, discontinued.
It is implied that most of the world and obsolete USA titles
date from decades ago, but there is nothing here to help the
serious collector. Given that the author’s focus seems to be
more on the usefulness of folders and albums in housing coins
than on their rarity and value as collectable objects, this
is perhaps excusable.

While this book will be a helpful reference to anyone not
already familiar with the subject, it will have no impact
on my plans to push ahead with a comprehensive history and
catalog of coin folders and albums in two separate volumes.
This is an area of numismatics that deserves a fuller treatment,
but Moll’s book fills a useful void in the interim. Priced
at just $14.95 plus shipping, the curious reader is risking
little to add this fun title to his library.


[Two E-Sylum readers have submitted reviews of the new book
"Numismática Mexicana – Una Guía de su Literatura" (Mexican
Numismatics – A Guidebook of its Literature) by Christopher
Martin Bolton Morgan.  First up: Adrián González Salinas.

Numismática Mexicana – Una Guía de su Literatura
(Mexican Numismatics – A Guidebook of its Literature)
Author: Christopher Martin Bolton Morgan

First Edition, Mexico, D.F. 2008
Black Card Cover with Gold Stamped Titles
(1), 108 pages, no illustrations.
Language: Spanish
Length: 23.1 cms
Width: 18.8 cms
Thickness: 0.7 cms
Weight: 234 grams

After reading the book “Mexican Numismatics – A Guidebook
of its Literature” cover to cover and I consider that this
book fills a great hollow within Mexican Numismatics.

The content of the book follows a strict classification by
epoch or period in Mexican History since Aztecs (Pre-Columbian),
Spanish Kings through Republic, Empires and Modern Coins
(including the Revolutionary Period).

The periods can be summarized as follows: Introduction,
Pre-Columbian Epoch (…-1535) : 13 | Charles & Johanna Kings
(1536-1556) :29 1 Cobs Coinage (1556-1732) : 54, Pillars &
Busts (1732-1810) : 35 | Insurgency/Independence/Counter-Stamps
(1810-1822) : 61 | First Empire (Iturbide, 1822-1823) : 8 |
Republican Period (1823-1864, 1867-1897) : 46 | Second Empire
(Maximilian, 1864-1867) : 24 | Modern Coinage (1905-To Date)
: 30 | Coins and Bills of Mexican Revolution (1913-1917) : 56
| Banknotes : 57 | Medals & Proclamations : 72 | Tokens of
Mexico and Copper Coinage : 60 | History of Mexican Mints &
Banks : 145 | Dictionaries/ Encyclopedias/References : 7 |
Economic/Monetary/Political Mexican History : 58 |  Books
and Catalogues for the Aficionado: 53 | Notable Auction
Catalogues : 49 | Numismatic Collections/Expositions/
Exhibitions : 17 | General Works : 41

In summary, the book contains 915 Mexican Numismatic references
mainly from books, magazines, numismatic societies & associations
publications from Mexico, USA, Canada among others. Examples
of these publications are: The Numismatist, The Numismatic
Scrapbook Magazine, The Centinel, Plus Ultra, Plus Ultra Newsletter,
El Boletín (Numismático), Monedas (Puebla), The Coin Collector’s
Journal, The Canadian Antiquarian & Numismatic Journal, The
American Journal of Numismatics, International Bank Note Society
Journal, ANS’ Museum Notes, Numisma (Spain), USMexNA’s Journal
of Mexican Numismatics, Calcoin News, Memorias de la Academia
Mexicana de Estudios Numismáticos, Philippine Numismatic
Monographs, Numismatic Circular, Journal of International
Numismatics, Numismatic International Bulletin, Gaceta Numismática
(Spain), Barrilla, The Whitman Numismatic Journal, World Coin
News, The Asylum, COINage, Money Trend, TNA News, Mexican
Revolution Reporter, Berliner Blätter, The British Numismatic
Journal, Acta Numismática, TAMS Journal, The Medal Collector,
Coin & Medals News, The Canadian Numismatic Journal, LANSA,
Numismatické Listy, Coins Magazine, Numismática (Peru), The
Hispanic American Historical Review.

This guidebook follows the format of Elvira Clain-Stefanelli’s
book “Select Numismatic Bibliography” (1965) which only contains
33 Mexican publications. The Index details an astounding 127
different authors!

In some cases, this guidebook contains biographical information
about some famous authors; this valuable information is not
easy to obtain. Also, the guidebook details the editions of
the books when applies and, personal comments about rarity,
availability and anecdotes of specific books. Again, this
information is very rich to the reader.

In the introduction, Mr. Bolton recognizes that he omitted
other publications but I think that he included the main core
of all Mexican numismatic references.  I am completely certain
that Mr. Bolton invested a lot of time to complete this

Finally, I'd like to congratulate Mr. Bolton for his
extraordinary effort to publish a great, great book
about books.

[Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publications also submitted a
review. -Editor]

Christopher Bolton’s Numismatica Mexicana: Una Guia de su
Literatura (“Mexican Numismatics: A Guide to its Literature”;
copyright 2008) is an impressive and very useful work of
scholarship. Bolton opens the book with Aaron Feldman’s
famous quote: “Compra el libro antes de la moneda”—good
advice for anyone interested in Mexico’s nearly 500 years
of coinage. A guide such as this one, which documents more
than 900 resources, is valuable for both newcomer and
seasoned numismatist.

Bolton admits in his introduction that, Feldman notwithstanding,
his passion for books started some 10 years after he bought
his first Mexican coins. Guide books and catalogs expanded
his outlook beyond coinage of the 20th century, to earlier
eras, as well as to paper money, tokens, and medals.

After being bitten by the bibliophile bug, Bolton’s passion
was “incurable”—his rule became to buy at least one book
for every five coins. He writes, “The 915 references cited
in this bibliography represent, in my opinion, a good start
to organizing the available written material [on Mexican

Numismatica Mexicana is perfectbound with an attractive
faux-leather softcover, with the title and author’s name
stamped in gold foil—reminiscent of Whitman’s line of “black
books” from the 1960s. Two versions are available: octavo
(7-1/2 x 9-1/8 inches) and quarto (8-3/8 x 10-3/4 inches).
The former is printed on both sides of each leaf, the latter
on recto only (“to allow collectors to make notes or add
any additional references I may have omitted,” says the

What Bolton has compiled is more than just an alphabetical
listing of books and articles. He categorizes the 900-plus
works by numismatic epoch from pre-Conquest to the modern
day, each book according to its main focus (or to the first
epoch it covers). Dictionaries, auction catalogs, political
histories, and similar references are categorized in their
own sections, by content.

Bolton does not simply list authors, titles, and places and
dates of publication — for many of the works, he provides a
summary and analysis of their substance. This kind of annotated
bibliography offers valuable information for the researcher.

For example, recently in The E-Sylum editor Wayne Homren posed
the question, “So what are ‘Arras Tokens’?” In Numismatica
Mexicana Bolton lists several articles on arras, and synopsizes
their contents (i.e., “A list of 12 arras, but without substantial
information about their origins”; “Five more arras, but only
one is illustrated”; “Interesting article about the ‘coins’
used in Mexican weddings, with a list of 13 arras”).

Other helpful notes include whether the work is illustrated,
if it has an English translation, and if it was republished
elsewhere in whole or in part. Also, most sections conclude
with an “Also see,” directing the reader to related works in
other sections. (For example, researchers in the “Carlos y
Juana, 1536–1556” section are also referred to the auction
catalog section, No. 828, The Paul Karon Collection of 8
Escudos and Other Classic Latin American Coinage.) The book
concludes with a five-page index of authors linked to their
works within the bibliography.

Sections include: pre-Columbian to the Conquest; Charles and
Joanna, 1536–1556; cob coinage, 1556–1732; Pillar and Bust
coinage, 1732–1810; insurgency, independence, and countermarks,
1810–1822; First Empire (Iturbide), 1822–1833; Republic, 1823–
1864 and 1867–1897; Second Empire (Maximilian), 1864–1867;
modern money, 1905 to date; coins and bills of the Revolution,
1913–1917; paper money; proclamation and oath medals; fichas,
tlacos, pilones, and monedas de cobra; history of the Casas
de Moneda and Banca Mexicana; dictionaries, encyclopedias,
and reference works; economic, monetary, and political
histories of Mexico; books and catalogs for the aficionado;
catalogs of significant auctions; numismatic collections,
expositions, and exhibitions; and general works.

I should note that Numismatica Mexicana is written in Spanish,
and my citations in this review are translations of Bolton’s
text. English-language books and articles are listed by their
English titles, which in most cases offers sufficient guidance
to monolingual readers. On top of that, if you have a few years
of high-school or college Spanish, and a working knowledge of
“coin Spanish,” you’ll find the prose easy to follow.

With careful organization, thoughtful analysis, and considerable
scope, Christopher Bolton has done the numismatic community a
great service in this highly recommended book.

I would, however, offer several professional opinions on how
to improve the book for its next edition. One minor complaint
concerns the binding: the spine has no copy! When the book is
sitting spine-out on a shelf, you don’t know its title or
author’s name. It should be possible to fit at least the
title on both formats (definitely on the thicker-spined quarto).

Another observation: there are occasional stray marks, about
the size and shape of a hyphen, scattered about two or three
on every other page, sometimes within the text. This “chatter”
can be distracting. It’s hard to tell if the marks are from
the printing process (not likely, since the books were
published digitally), or perhaps artifacts from the Quark
(or other) software used for layout; either way, the glitches
are probably easily fixed.

On a nitpicky note, what Bolton calls an “introduction” is
technically a preface—its purpose is not to introduce the
subject matter of the book, but to explain the book’s mechanics
(why and how it was written), which it does engagingly and
very well.

>From a typographical perspective, the book exhibits the
occasional technical errors and inconsistencies often seen
in self-published (and sometimes in commercially published!)
works; in this case, they’re minor and don’t affect the
reader’s experience.

More serious (but not major flaws at all) are some
navigation-related weaknesses in the design: the layout
would benefit from navigational aids such as running heads
or feet that indicate the section (and possibly the book
numbers covered on that page); and the verso folios (page
numbers on left-hand pages) should be set flush outside,
not flush inside, so they’re easier to read while flipping
through the book. (The latter applies only to the octavo
format; in the quarto, the folios are centered at page

Again, these comments are meant to improve the first edition,
not condemn it. This is a book that deserves to be published
again and again in future editions, as its talented author
continues to add to it, to the benefit of numismatists

Author Christopher Bolton adds: "The cost of the book
(Quarto sized) is USD $45.00 plus USD $25.00 express
shipping (five days) to the US and Canada. However if
Asylum or E-Sylum members request the book I will ship
out copies at USD $55.00.

Orders in Mexico will cost USD $50.00 two day shipping
included. Other countries would have to be quoted on an
individual basis.

Copies may be ordered vía my E-mail:
and I can accept payment by international money order,
Paypal or cheque (US or Pound Sterling funds)."

[Many thanks to our reviewers for their efforts and to
the author for providing copies.  Congratulations on what
sounds like a very welcome work. -Editor]



[W. David Perkins of Centennial, CO submitted the following
item relating to the Jack Collins manuscript on 1794 dollars.

I enjoyed your review in last week's E-Sylum of the Jack
Collins and Walter Breen manuscript for "1794: The History
and Genealogy of the First United States Dollar."

At this time I cannot find the file with my correspondence
with Jack Collins (three moves will cause this problem…),
but as I recall I first contacted Jack in the late 1980s
or early 1990s.  I had acquired a "special" copy of the
September 18, 1968 Lester Merkin Public Auction Sale
catalog from the late Art Rubino, a numismatic (and other)
literature dealer from Santa Fe, NM.  Art had set up at a
Denver coin show, and in a box of catalogs (under a table
in his booth) was a copy of this sale with "Mr. Ostheimer"
at the top of the cover, and "My Estimate / Realized" in
the bottom right corner.

When I opened it I found a three page auction settlement
from Merkin to the Ostheimers laid in.   As it turns out
(from the auction settlement statement) the 1794 silver
dollar in this sale was not consigned by the Ostheimers.
All but two of the over 100 early dollars had been consigned
to this sale were the property of the Ostheimers.  [For more
information on this discovery and sale catalog, see The Asylum,
Volume 25, No. 2 Spring 2007, pages 16-19.  The cover page
of the Ostheimer's copy of the sale catalog is also illustrated
on the cover of this Spring 2007 issue.]

I was aware of the book on 1794 Dollars that Jack Collins
was working on, I believe from Q. David Bowers having mentioned
this off and on in the Bowers & Merena Rare Coin Review.  I
wrote Jack Collins to let him know the 1794 Dollar was not
the Ostheimers.  As it turns out, Jack already knew this (I
was impressed!).  Over the years we corresponded on occasion
about other 1794 Dollars.

I was able to meet Jack for the first time at the 1995
Anaheim ANA Convention.  This was the first chance I had
to see and study a copy of his manuscript.

I added notes of 1794 Dollar appearances sporadically to
my copy over the years.  One day J.P. Martin called me from
ICG and said he had a 1794 Dollar that he thought may have
been repaired on the obverse, and would I be able to stop by
and take a look at it and give him my opinion.  J.P. described
the specimen over the phone.  I told him I could stop by the
next day over the lunch hour (ICG was conveniently located
only a couple hundred yards from my office).

J.P. was not aware of the Collins manuscript nor that I had
a copy of it at the time of his call.  Nor did I tell him…
That night I did my homework and marked three pages as
possible matches based on the description J.P. had given
me.  When I arrived J.P. gave me the coin to look at.  I
had the Collins manuscript on my lap and under the table,
and sure enough it was the one of the specimens I had
thought it might be.

I told J.P. that I thought he was right, and described where
and what I thought had been done.  He was impressed, as was
Keith Love and the others in the room.  I then showed him
the "Before and After" pictures of this specimen in the
manuscript and we all had a good laugh!  In reality, it was
me who was impressed with J.P. in that he caught this repair
as it was done pretty well.

I also purchased a copy of the new Collins manuscript book
from George Kolbe at the NBS Meeting during the 2007 ANA


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

DAVID SKLOW – FINE NUMISMATIC BOOKS now accepting consignments
for our October 4th mail bid auction.
(719) 302-5686, visit our web site

DAVID F. FANNING NUMISMATIC LITERATURE offers fixed price lists on
our Web site at In stock: Stack’s Ford XV
Sale, hardcover. Near fine with PRL. Currency of the American
Revolution and early Confederation. $150 postpaid.



[Dick Johnson submitted the following item relating to today's
U.S. holiday, Mother's Day. Happy Mother's Day, Moms! -Editor]

Senator Rockefeller is way too late, since he just introduced
legislation to issue a Mother's Day Centennial coin.  The
centennial date was today (May 11, 2008). It would be like
trying to sell month-old newspapers.

Doesn't he realize it takes six months for the Mint to create
and strike such a coin?  Not to mention that the Mint is already
overwhelmed with new issues from a new-coin-and-medal happy
issuing Congress.

Heads up, private medal-issuing industry!  If Congress keeps
up this pace the U.S. Mint is going to have to sub-contract
some of the medal issues to private medal makers in America.

Here's the news story:
 Complete Story


[In response to Dick Johnson's article last week about
computers and sculpting, Daniel Carr submitted the following
comments on computer sculpting programs. -Editor]

In some ways I find it a bit odd that many mint's artists
are still called "Sculptors/Engravers" when, in this day and
age, most coins and medals are created by sculpting a model
(the "sculptor" part), but the engraving is no longer done
by hand, but by machine (a reducing lathe or similar).
And these engraving machines are often run by someone other
than the sculpting artist.

I agree that computerized engraving is the way things are
headed. I noted in particular one paragraph from the article:

 "The advantages of computer engraving, as noted by Jim
 Licaretz, are its speed and versatility. As such it is
 ideal for simple images, as graphic designs, most trademarks
 or logos, and images of buildings. Where it falls short
 are very complex or highly detailed designs, but most
 notably, with portraits!"

There are several reasons why many major mints have not
successfully utilized computerized engraving for portraits,
most notably:

1. Most of the programs were not written or constructed in
such a way that allows real-time sculpting to be performed
when a very large quantity of data is involved. It takes
less than one-one-thousandth of an inch (<0.001") to make
a huge difference in a facial portrait or facial expression.
And to have that kind of resolution covering the entire
medal surface requires several million data points.

2. Most artists are not yet accustomed to using this
type of tool.

As you may know, I wrote my own computer sculpting program
several years ago and I've been using it for all my design,
sculpting, and engraving work.   It is the only such program
in existence that was designed and programmed by a single
person - that person being an artist who uses the program

I believe that I have been able to achieve results with my
program that can equal the quality of work done using any
other techniques.   My program does provide sufficient
resolution to do quality life-like portraits.

A major benefit of computerized sculpting not mentioned
in your article is that designs can be reviewed by clients
in digital form and then approved before any patterns, molds,
or dies are cut.   At many mints around the world, designs
are reviewed and approved as pencil sketches.    But
subsequent to the approval, there can sometimes be undesirable
deviations between the original concept drawing and the final
product.   This is due to the inevitable changes that occur
when transforming a 2-D drawing into a 3-D clay model by hand.

But with the computerized method, there are no deviations
because the approved rendering and the mold/die engraving
are both generated by computer from the same source data !

Below is an example of a medal that I was recently
commissioned to do.

Here is the original rendering I made from my digital
sculpture:  This rendering was prepared and approved by
the client before any other work was done.

And here is a photo of an actual medal struck from the
dies I engraved:

The original photograph used as a guide for the design is here:

Last year I put together a side-by-side comparison of
the two different approaches to creating a coin/medal:

I have personally experienced a strong resistance to my
techniques and tools by some people in engraving and
sculpting fields.   If the discussion linked below is any
indication, it may take a while before these new tools
get any respect:

In the discussion above, I offered a challenge to any hand
engravers.   The challenge would be to have a hand
engraver/sculptor produce a portrait medal.   I would do
the same using my techniques.   The results would be posted
on the internet for everyone to view and comment on.
Nobody in that engraving forum accepted my challenge.

[Daniel adds: I am currently working on setting up a new
workshop.   When I get everything in order, I would be happy
to host visitors and show computerized sculpting and engraving
in action and in person.]



[Daniel Carr's response in the previous item prompted Dick
Johnson to follow up with a new set of comments on computer
sculpting programs. -Editor]

(1)  Calling mint artists "engravers" or even "sculptor-engravers"
does indeed seem out of place with modern technology. Perhaps
a new term should  be created to cover more accurately their
creative position, something better than my first thought:
"coin progenitor."

(2)  You mentioned engraving machines run by nonartists.
When the medal firm in Milan Italy, Stefano Johnson, first
placed their Janvier in production they had so much respect
for the technician that they placed his name on a medal for
the Columbian Exposition with the designer of the medal and
the artist that created the model.  Three names!  That is
the only recognition I know of that gave credit to the
reducing machine operator.

(3)  You are amazingly insightful to recognize why major
mints have not successfully utilized computer engraving for
portraits. I still observed recent examples similar to items
made by the old manual Gorton tracer-controlled technology
as "stiff, frozen, lifeless."

Your portrait of Aaron Russo, on the other hand, prepared
on your proprietary program, is exceedingly lifelike. There
is a real person staring back at the viewer. It is realistic
in how you treated the fullness of the cheeks and the
prominence of the jowls. I observe you opened the eyes slightly,
and reduced the prominence of the teeth -- both good choices.
(An open mouth is difficult to keep from having the teeth
dominate the portrait. Most medallic artists won't even
attempt such portraits for that reason.)

The texture of the subject's clothing is excellent for the
contrast with the smoothness of the skin and  background.
Your treatment of the hair is in good style. Can you do
texture easily on your program?

(4) The reverse of this medal exhibits excellent design.
Here again, the texture of the document is similar to the
clothing on the obverse. That is a mark of an excellent
designer to tie the two sides together with the artistic
device of repetition. The treatment of the globe is one
of the best I have seen with the relief for Alaska and
the United States.

I like the three lines of lettering with uniform arc base
lines. The subsidiary device of the sun and rays may be a
tad too large, however, it is extremely effective. [The
obverse could have used a small subsidiary device as well
to add interest. What would you have done with the sun or
rays or such on the obverse for that concept of repetition
again to tie the two sides together?]  Sorry, I didn't
mean to do a critique, but your design is so exceptional
it was an inspiration!

(5)  Your proprietary computer sculpting program sounds
incredible. It should be marketed.  If the best software the
U.S. Mint has costs $30,000 you should price yours at $50,000.
[Government officials are only impressed by big numbers.] Then
have someone suggest the Mint needs your program. Stress the
medallic portrait feature of your software description.

(6)  There is often a discrepancy between drawing and the
ultimate model. In fact, some medallists are terrible
draftsmen whose drawings are horrible, but whose models are
outstanding. In one case Joseph Di Lorenzo was weak in
drawing. However he was one of the best modelers in the post
WWII era. He was frequently paired with Paul Calle, a top
artist whose designs and drawings were outstanding. The
combination of the two created some stunning medals!

(7)  I like your idea of a challenge for a hand engraver
to pit his handiwork up against your computer generated
portrait. That would certainly be enlightening!


[On Tuesday an article in Washington Post critiqued the
proposed designs for the Washington, D.C. quarter, noting
that none of the people chosen for depiction on the quarter
has really close ties to the city.  -Editor]

First, the U.S. Mint nixed "Taxation Without Representation"
as the slogan for the D.C. quarter. Now, the Mint has
narrowed the choices for the design of the coin's reverse
to three figures from the city's history: Benjamin Banneker,
Duke Ellington and Frederick Douglass.

Each has his merits, of course, but this is a weak field.
The problem is not any lack of achievement on the part of
the candidates. No, it's the tenuousness of their connections
to the District, which are important but way too brief
(Banneker); an accident of birth that had little meaning
in his ultimate accomplishments (Ellington); and almost
irrelevant to his greatness (Douglass).

Just as almost every state in the union decided that no
one person captured the essence of its history and identity,
the District should have chosen an inanimate symbol to put
on the coin, which so many people fought so hard to get
added to the Mint's state quarters program.

The District, in contrast, settled on three men who, despite
their good works, say little about Washington except that
it is more than its federal, monumental core. The D.C.
government's desire to avoid obvious choices such as the
Washington Monument or Lincoln Memorial is reasonable: This
is the chance to show that the District is not merely the
seat of government but a distinct community. The "Taxation
Without Representation" slogan would have made that gesture.
But the feds found that way too radical. So now the District
is trying to make a statement through the face of one man.

But here's the problem: Benjamin Banneker, an accomplished
mathematician and astronomer ... was born, lived most of his
life and died in the Baltimore area.

Duke Ellington ... was not merely a hugely popular performer,
but, far more important, a composer who turned the blues and
early jazz into America's classical music form. But while
Ellington grew up in Washington and got his early education
in the nightspots of the Black Broadway, as U Street was known
in the early 20th century, he left town at 23 and never lived
here again.

Which brings us to Frederick Douglass. Born on Maryland's
Eastern Shore, Douglass spent most of his career in Rochester,
N.Y., ... But his time in Washington came at the end of an
illustrious life.

To read the complete article, see:
 complete article


[Dick Johnson forwarded this article from the Columbus
(Ohio) Dispatch. -Editor]

Coins worth nearly $100,000 that had been stolen from a
Hilliard resident in December were recovered this week
with the help of a coin-shop owner in Pensacola, Fla.

Burglars stole a safe containing more than $1 million
in coins and other valuables from the home of Robert C.

"Usually when coins are stolen, recovery is never made,"
said Bob Bruce, owner of the All-American Coin & Jewelry Co.
in Pensacola. "I know what (Talbott's) going through. I had
coins stolen from the shop April 7."

Bruce doesn't expect to see those coins again.  But when
a man came into his shop Saturday with a 1903S Morgan
silver dollar, Bruce said, he recognized the coin -- which
he appraised at $20,000 -- as one stolen in the Talbott

"I keep a database of stolen coins," Bruce said. "I talked
to the individual on the phone three or four more times.
He presented us with seven more coins Saturday, and I told
him I'd make him an offer Monday."

Bruce then contacted Hilliard police.

Larry Shepherd, a Cincinnati coin dealer who had sold
Talbott most of the coins and is now executive director
of the American Numismatic Association, verified that the
coin was stolen, Bruce said.


Tim Shuck of Ames, IA writes: "You had a note in the April 27
E-Sylum about the proof platinum coin you viewed having surfaces
that were 'flat-out dull and ugly'. That hasn't been my
impression, at least based on the few platinum proofs I own.

"But, to look again and compare, I just put a platinum Statue
of Liberty (or Eagle as some label them) next to a Jefferson
nickel and a silver state-series quarter, all graded proof
69. The silver and platinum coins look very similar to me,
but both are fairly 'cold' in comparison to the nickel which
has more of a warm reflectivity; from the copper content I
presume. I think there might be more of a difference in
appearance between the metals in a non-proof coin but don't
own any of those in platinum to do a comparison.

"I've always assumed that the reason we don't see many
circulating platinum coins is the relative scarcity of the
metal, which would translate into a higher cost for coinage.
Silver and gold (and copper) adequately provided for the coins
needed for most commerce. A platinum coin probably would have
been pushed to a denomination higher than the double eagle,
which likely was not needed or wanted.

"Since I first started looking at bullion prices in 2004
platinum has always been about two times the price of gold
per once, more or less, even though the ratio of the two in
native state is much higher (meaning platinum should be even
more expensive). In any case that's a fairly steep price of
admission, so to speak. Given the storied political history
between gold and silver factions perhaps there's just never
been room for another noble metal advocacy."



Wayne Schroll writes: "Do our readers have any information
on the publication dates of any of remaining volumes of The
Fitzwilliam Museum's Medieval European Coinage Project?
The project web page lists the seventeen volumes (1 and 14
published so far), but nothing about estimated publication


[Steve Fellers, who authored with his daughter Ray a book
about concentration camp money, spoke on the topic recently.
Here are excerpts from an article about the event in the
Shreveport Times. -Editor]

A professor passionate about numismatics shared some of the
stories tattered pieces of paper tell about the Holocaust.

Steve Fellers, a physics professor at Coe College in Cedar
Rapids, spoke at the Shreveport-Bossier City Holocaust
Memorial Commemoration on Sunday about the money circulated
through ghettos and concentration camps before and during
World War II.

Sunday's commemoration in Shreveport marked the 25th year
community members have put on the interfaith event. Rose Van
Thyn, who survived the concentration camp at Auschwitz,
spoke briefly about the legacy of the Holocaust, in which 6
million Jews and 5 million other people died.

Fellers visited Shreveport's Holocaust commemoration Sunday
because of his friendship with the late Charlton E. Meyer Jr.
and Meyer's wife, Gloria Meyer, of Shreveport. Charlton Meyer
assembled an extensive collection of concentration camp
currency that he donated to the Holocaust Museum Houston
in 2002.

"Even at Auschwitz, there was money," Fellers said. "We know
of money from over 50 camps."

Read the complete article
Full Story




[A U.K. news account mentions a medal given by the Pope.
According to one web article, "the Benemerenti Medal, meaning
“good merit” medal, was created in 1791 by Pope Pius VI".
I've not been able to locate a definitive description of the
history of the medal on the web.  Apparently there have been
are many different designs over the years. -Editor]

A rare medal awarded by the Pope has been bestowed on two
Colchester women.

Olive Hewitt and Peggy Wilding both received the Benemerenti
Medal during the Sunday service at St Theodore's Roman Catholic
Church in Monkwick from the parish priest, Father Joseph

Church committee member Christine Brown said the medals were
rare and she had only heard of one other being given out in
recent memory in the Colchester area.

The Benemerenti Medal is a papal honour given in recognition
of Christian work carried out over a number of years.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

Read a 2006 article on the medal
Full Story

To view Benemerenti medal images from the OMSA photo database, see:


[An E-Sylum reader forwarded a link to an article written
by a high school junior about a recent class trip to Carson
City, where the group viewed the striking of a medal at the
Nevada State Museum.  Here are some excerpts. -Editor]

Early last Friday morning my senior government class at
Lahontan Valley High School and I set off for Carson City.
Our agenda was to go to the State Legislature, the Supreme
Court building and then on to the Fallon Centennial coin
minting at the Nevada State Museum.

When we arrived at the museum, there were 18 students, Mayor
Ken Tedford, City Councilmen John Tewell and Willis Swan,
Anne Pershing, Nancy Balash, Michon Mackdon, Valerie Serpa,
Capt. Mike Glaser, photographers and many more who came to
see the pressing of Fallon's 100th anniversary coin. We all
waited patiently as all of us inched our way closer to the
six-ton machine to get a good look.

Once we all quieted down, Ken Hopple, who does the minting,
began to explain the mint and its history. He said the mint
weighed six tons and had been moved 10 times throughout its
existence and that it had been re-purchased for $225.

Following the brief lesson about this wonderful machine, he
finally began to do what we all were waiting for.

He turned the machine on and we all watched in awe as it
pressed a design into the nickel that he had been holding.
After about five coins had been minted followed by multiple
questions about the process, a ceremony was held commemorating
the new Fallon Centennial coin.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[Inspired by last week's report on dolphin teeth money in
the Solomon Islands, NBS Member & Alaska collector Richard
Jozefiak writes: "This is an interesting story about currency
use today in the Alaska bush."  Below are excerpts from the
article in the Anchorage Daily News. -Editor]

At the general store in Noorvik, an Inupiaq village on the
banks of the Kobuk River, Pauline Morris and her customers
are on a constant quest for dollars and coins.

It's not unusual for a local customer to walk into the Morris
Trading Post with a $500 or $1,000 paycheck and use it to buy
$20 in groceries, she says.

Typically, Morris hands them whatever cash she can spare and
writes them a check for the balance. A stamp on the check
identifies it as change -- it becomes a sort of "faux currency"
that some will use as cash elsewhere in town.

Like most remote villages, Noorvik has no bank and no ATM.
And when the trading post runs out of dollars and coins, "I
have to go out and get them," Morris says.

That means a bank run to Kotzebue -- 37 miles away by plane
at a cost of $170 or more round trip -- to get stacks of
bills and hundreds of dollars' worth of pennies and quarters.

"I get the cash wherever I travel," Morris says.

This Bush banking method has kept small village stores running
for decades. Despite communication advances like high-speed
Internet that have begun to penetrate remote villages, plenty
of people still lack bank accounts, Morris said.

While the cash economy has crept into most of Alaska's most
remote places, its foundation -- cash, itself -- is often

"In communities so small that there aren't ways to send
funds electronically, the merchants and the post offices
are the ones making the economy go," said Jennifer Imus,
a senior manager for Wells Fargo Bank in Fairbanks.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[Medals are great for commemorating interesting events
of all sorts.  This newspaper article describes one medal
and recounts the tale behind it - the cross-country
adventures of two young boys a hundred years ago.

The other Sunday, Harry Abernathy came up to me before
church. “Here’s a little souvenir for you,” he said,
and handed me a gold-colored commemorative coin.

The coin was from the Frederick, Okla., Chamber of Commerce.
It featured the figure of two horses with riders on the
front, and an old-timey car on the back.

 “If your eyes are good enough, look at the small line
under the horses,” Harry said. Well, the type was pretty
small, but I squinted and made out “The Abernathy Boys.”
I asked him if they were any relation or if the name was
just coincidence. “No, no relation - except that we’re
all God’s children,” Harry replied.

Harry then told the basics of the story of the Abernathy
Boys and the adventure that earned their remembrance on
a commemorative coin. I was intrigued and have fleshed
out those details a little bit with some supplemental

The year was 1910, and Frederick, Okla., was still frontier
“Wild West.” Louis “Bud” Abernathy was 10, and his brother
Temple was 6. Their father was a rancher and a U.S. marshal
nicknamed “Catch-em-alive Jack,” a nickname bestowed on him
by his friend President Theodore Roosevelt after Roosevelt
saw him catch a wolf with his bare hands.

At this point, I need to mention that Jack Abernathy was a
widower. His wife - the boys’ mother - had died some time
before their adventures. I daresay if she had been alive,
there likely wouldn’t have been any commemorative coin today.

But, back to the story.

President Roosevelt was returning to New York from an overseas
vacation. The boys convinced their father to let them ride
horseback from Frederick to New York to participate in the
parade welcoming Roosevelt back.

They had already had one adventure, riding from Frederick
to Santa Fe, N.M., to visit the home of Gov. George Curry.
They had carefully planned all the details of the trip and
when they showed Jack how thorough their plan was, he
allowed them to go.

That trip took two weeks, and the boys encountered no major
problems. At one point along the way, they met several men
who escorted them for many miles to make sure they were safe.
It turned out that the men were outlaws, who later wrote
Jack to tell him that although they didn’t think much of
him, they liked the stuff his boys were made of.

Having made that trip successfully, the boys were able, with
Roosevelt’s help, to convince their father to let them ride
to New York. With Roosevelt’s publicity, the boys were given
heroes’ welcomes along the way, and well-wishers’ donations
funded the trip.

After reaching New York and riding in the parade, the boys
used some of the money that they had been given along the
way to purchase an automobile. They then shipped their horses
back to Oklahoma and drove home.

Remember, they were only 10 and 6!

[There's more to the story, so check out the complete
article!  There have been complete books (both fiction
and nonfiction) written based on the brothers' exploits.
I ordered one to share with my sons: The Abernathy Boys
by L. J. Hunt. -Editor]

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


[Michael Sullivan writes: "This is an amazing news story
on the impact of counterfeiting in Somalia - people die
over counterfeits."  Here are excerpts from the BBC news
Michael forwarded. -Editor]

Somali troops killed at least two people in the capital,
Mogadishu, when they opened fire to halt riots over rising
costs and counterfeit money.

Thousands of people rioted, burning tyres and throwing
stones after traders refused to accept local notes and
demanded US dollars instead.

The recent printing of local shilling notes on illegal
presses has led to spiralling inflation, reporters say.

The demonstrators shouted slogans about the traders such
as "down with those refusing the old money and down with
the dollar-receivers".

Over the last three months, the value of Somali shilling
has fallen dramatically from 17,000 shillings for $1 (50
pence) to 30,000 shillings for $1.

This has been blamed on the printing of vast quantities
of the local currency on illegal presses.

Most people have limited access to US dollar notes,
the only currency shopkeepers will accept.

Our correspondent says both the transitional government
and the leaders of the insurgents have ordered traders
to accept both the old and new local notes.

But businesses argue that most of the old Somali shilling
notes are worn out - they date back to before 1991 - and
worth very little, and they blame the spiralling inflation
on the counterfeit ones.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


Len Augsburger writes: "I had to check a couple other
sources when I first saw this because I assumed it was some
sort of crank or Onion-type article.  Is nothing sacred
anymore?  Somehow sitting in that splendiferous reading
room at 42nd and 5th won't be the same.  Sigh..... "

Full Story


"A quincunx is the arrangement of five units in the pattern
corresponding to the five-spot on dice, playing cards, or
dominoes. The quincunx was originally the symbol of the Roman
coin of the same name, whose value was five twelfths (quinque
+ uncia) of an as. Typically, a quincunx consists of five
objects arranged in a square, with one object at each of
the square’s four corners and the fifth in the square’s

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


It's non-numismatic, but readers may wish to try their
hands on the following brain teaser Dave Bowers forwarded
to me this week:

"I am only sending this to my smart friends. I could not
figure it out and had to look at the answer. If you can
figure out what these words have in common, you are a lot
smarter than I am.


I managed to get it, and on Tuesday I put the question to
my wife and our two sons at breakfast.  Christopher figured
it out.  So ... are you smarter than a nine-year-old?


[Some businesses don't bother with cash registers, and do
just fine, thank you.  This bakery takes self-service to the
limit (and doesn't price in cent increments).  But don't
expect major retailers to follow. -Editor]

Here's an article about the City Café Bakery in Kitchener,
Ontario, which uses an honor payment system and almost
never gets cheated.

Customers add up how much they owe themselves and drop
their money into a fare box from an old bus.

“I liked the idea of simplifying things and ... the honour
system made a whole lot of sense,” [owner John] Bergen says.
“What irritated me about going into Tim Hortons, for example,
was waiting in line for something as simple as getting a
donut and a coffee. So the thought was, someone can pour
his own coffee, grab his own bagel, cut it himself, throw
the money in, and walk out. We don’t touch 60 per cent
of the transaction.”

Because it is up to the customers to total their purchases,
Bergen has simplified the cost structure.

“Everything is rounded off to the nearest quarter with
taxes included where applicable,” he says. “So every desert
is $1.50 (tarts, brownies, and date squares), every pizza
lunch is $5, every beverage is $1.25, every loaf of bread
is $2.75 (Italian sourdough, multi-grain, and raisin bread
on weekends), croissants are $1 each, and bagels are three
for $2 (plain, sesame, and multi-grain).”

The bakery conducts audits every six months and Bergen
says only once did things come up short.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


Last week I wrote:

 [According to the Waverly Leader of Melbourne, Australia, an
 ancient Roman coin was recently used in a coin toss before a
 sporting match.  Is that a first?  Has an ancient coin ever
 been used this way before? -Editor]

Larry Gaye writes: “I have a Byzantine coin client who
purchases Byzantine Anonymous folles (10th Century pieces)
to use for the coin toss in the soccer (football) games he
officiates.  He then gives them away to foster the hobby,
a very neat way to focus interest.”



This week's featured web site is suggested by Dick Johnson.
He writes: "Here's an interesting art project that may be of
interest to E-Sylum readers.  I came across it in Monica Noelle
Voigt's recent blog post."

Artists Aaron Koblin and Takashi Kawashima created a digital
image of the one hundred dollar bill. Comprising images of
drawings made by 10,000 people from Mechanical Turk which is
an online business site. They were asked to reproduce an
abstract piece and received one cent for their contribution.
The final product resembles a mosaic-like image of the one
hundred dollar bill.

These Artists are not the first to work with money in art.
However the way that they did it was a great trick, almost.
These people who they "hired" did not know why they were asked
to created a drawing they just knew that they were being paid
for it. I'm not sure if they knew how much they were going to
get paid for before they did it. Because I'm not sure that
one cent is worth much anymore.

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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