The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. For more information please see our web site at


Those wishing to become new E-Sylum subscribers (or wishing to Unsubscribe) can go to the following web page link


There is a membership application available on the web site Membership Application

To join, print the application and return it with your check to the address printed on the application. Membership is only $15 to addresses in the U.S., $20 for First Class mail, and $25 elsewhere. For those without web access, write to:

David M. Sundman, Secretary/TreasurerNumismatic Bibliomania Society
P. O. Box 82 Littleton, NH 03561


For Asylum mailing address changes and other membership questions, contact David at this email address:


To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, just Reply to this message, or write to the Editor at this address:


You won't regret it!


Wayne Homren Among our recent subscribers is Owen Bussey. Welcome aboard! We now have 1,136 subscribers.

This week we open with more discussion on the new E-Sylum format and other NBS business, including events at the upcoming ANA convention and the Greatest American Numismatic Literature survey.

Also this week, several E-Sylum readers honor a prolific numismatic researcher and author on his 97th birthday. In numismatic literature news, a major U.S. numismatic periodical goes online, and Whitman Publishing seeks ephemera relating to its flagship Redbook.

In general news, a judge rules U.S. currency must be altered to better accommodate the blind, the U.S. Mint rations silver bullion coins, and a Vietnam-era military medal brings a staggering sum at auction.

Responses to earlier discussions include the Wikipedia Numismatic portal, and Salmon P. Chase's image on U.S. paper money. An interesting topic in numismatic research will be discussed by R.V. Dewey this week in Long Beach - did James Longacre place hidden signatures on his U.S. coin designs?

To learn how to extract a medal embedded in a block of Lucite, read on. Have a great week, everyone.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Comments continue to pour in on our new format. Last week's issue was the first official HTML version, and it had a few improvements over the initial test the week before.

  • John P Andrew: "Congratulations on the new format. It is superb."
  • Chick Ambrass: "The new format is tremendous ... very impressive."
  • George Kolbe: "It arrived this week in all its colorific glory."
  • Sam Deep: "Your nice new format loses little when read on my BlackBerry. It looks great on AOL. Well done!"

Many thanks to Paul DiMarzio, who back on May 12th wrote: "It would be nice to have “back to top” links at the end of each piece to make navigation easier. This is the way Yahoo Group digests come and I find it much more efficient to zero in on the stuff I want."

Based on Paul's suggestion we were able to have our programmer insert the "Back to top" links for us, and I agree that it's a nice feature.

Fred Lake writes: "The table of contents is a big help and the pictures (even yours) are a bonus. By the way, your picture must have been taken years look as young as when we got together at the 1992 ANA convention in Orlando."

Well, it wasn't taken yesterday, but it's only a couple years out of date - I was too lazy to get a new one taken. The grey is starting to creep in, so I'm in no hurry to say cheese. Here's a more up-to-date photo. I don't want to end up like one of those Coin World advertisers who've been using the same photo of themselves for the last twenty years. What are they waiting for, their tie, collar size and facial hair to come back in style?
Ronald Thompson writes: "Is there any way to make the new format wider? I usually don't get a chance to read the E-Sylum at my computer so I print out a copy and read it later. The narrow columns create lots of blank space. This week's edition is 38 pages!"

Well, we're working on it. It's the number one suggestion and the designers at Grove have given me a new set of templates that should provide more flexibility on column width. Bear with us. -Editor
On the topic of an error of a different type, Pete Smith writes: "You had me going for a while. I thought I was supposed to figure out some new brain teaser about the "cascabels of cannons". Then I realized that was part of another story about the Victoria Cross. Now I believe I have found something even more difficult than the answer to a brain teaser. I caught Wayne in an error in the E-Sylum. Those are as rare as 1804 dollars."

Sorry 'bout the misplaced text, folks - that one was all my fault. -Editor


Pete Smith writes: "Have you made reservations to attend the 2008 American Numismatic Association Convention in Baltimore? Be sure you show up at the right ANA convention.

I discovered this while surfing the web: the Association of Nepalis in America (ANA) will hold a convention in Baltimore over the weekend of the 4th of July. I did not see any reference to tokens or medals produced for this event."
Pete's note is tongue in cheek, of course, but it does serve to remind all of us that the convention is on the way and that all of us should be making preparations.

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

Don't forget to get your applications in on time for your numismatic literature exhibits! Applications must be received by the American Numismatic Association NO LATER THAN June 4, 2008. It only takes a few minutes to fill one out, so do it now! See the ANA web site at -Editor.


Regarding the Numismatic Bibliomania Society's survey on the greatest works of American numismatic literature, Katie Jaeger writes: "I propose to write in Agnes Baldwin's Catalogue of the International Exhibition of Contemporary Medals (1910). What a treasure that book is!

And how could Francis Prucha's Indian Peace Medals in American History (1994 editon) be omitted? That was one of my greatest numismatic reads. I second Alan Weinberg's motion that ALL of Joe Levine's catalogs should reach a high ranking."



Fred Lake of Lake Books writes: "This is a reminder that our 93rd mail-bid sale of numismatic literature featuring selections from the library of Dr. Garth R. Drewry will be closing on Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 5:00 PM (EDT). The 350-lot catalog is available for viewing at


Numismatic researcher and author Eric P. Newman turns 97 today - Happy Birthday! Eric is a longtime NBS member and E-Sylum subscriber. Below are some birthday wishes from some of our readers. -Editor.

Ken Bressett writes:
My life has been influenced by Eric Newman in many ways. He has been a mentor, a confidant, a source of information on numerous subjects far beyond numismatics, and most of all a good and loyal friend. We began corresponding more than 50 years ago and have continued ever since.

The trepidation of my first letter to him was quickly eased by his courteous reply. I was researching the colonial coins of my native state, and had boldly asked for information about the New Hampshire copper coin that I knew he owned. To my surprise, and utter amazement, he sent it to me in the next day's mail, saying that I could learn much more about it by actually seeing it. That spirit of enthusiasm and cooperation has never changed over the years, and I know that he has similarly helped thousands of other serious numismatists ever since.

Our hobby would be far different today if it were not for Eric's sense of dedication, encyclopedic knowledge, and contributions to numismatic literature. My admiration and respect for Eric Newman is boundless. I am fortunate to have benefited and learned so much from our association, and am looking forward to continuing it forever. Happy Birthday to the ever New Man.

George Fuld writes:
I first “met” Eric Newman in the late 1950’s via mail as I recall discussing some Washington material. My first visit to St. Louis was in May, 1960 where I was attending the Society of Bacteriology meetings. I had contacted Eric and arranged to meet him at his office at Edison Brothers. I do remember seeing mounted on his wall an early copy of the Bill of Rights. He then took me to ‘visit’ his bank vault where I was wide eyed to see some of his fabulous holdings. Of note, was a plush case for six five cent coins. It was the case for the five 1913 nickels from the Green estate with the sixth opening being a copper pattern of the Buffalo 1913 nickel five cent still remaining in place.

In early 1961, dealer Louis Karp came into possession of the 1796 Getz pattern in silver. This ‘medal” was holed and was the identical specimen first described in James Ross Snowden’s 1860 book on Washingtonia. The medal was on loan to the Mint from a collector named Drumholder mistakenly called the property of the Mint collection. At this point I contacted Eric and we decided to do a thorough investigation of the Getz piece. Karp loaned us the 1796 Getz ‘medal” for our study. I remember going over three or four drafts of the article—Eric was most particular that the article be as perfect as possible. Our joint article appeared in the April 1961 issue of the Colonial Newsletter and in the Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine.

I lived in Wakefield Massachusetts from 1957 to 1960 and Eric made a number of business visits to Boston. As I recall, he visited with me twice, spending some hours looking over references from my auction catalog collection for data on the 1804 dollars. When the book on the Fantastic 1804 Dollars was published in June 1961 authored by Eric and Ken Bressett, the splendid Siam set of 1834 was not known.

The book was printed by Whitman, but when David Spink gave the lecture on the rediscovery of the Siam set at the 1961 ANA Convention, Whitman scraped the entire first printing and rushed to press a corrected edition which included the Siamese 1834 set. I had received a copy of the first printed edition of the 1804 book which was one of about six or so remaining copies from the first printing of the book.

My contacts with Eric have persisted over the intervening years. Lately, Eric supplied me with photographs of four of his rarest colonials which are included in my soon to be published article on the Newcomer collection. Included were a silver Continental dollar and the unique 1783 silver 500 bit Nova Constellatio coin. Most recently, we discussed the Getz 1792 patterns and the unique gold 1792 Washington specimen which serves as the center piece at the Newman exhibit at Washington University.

While celebrating his 97th birthday, Eric achieved his 76th anniversary as an alumni of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I am a youngster alumni of MIT celebrating my 55th anniversary.

Dave Bowers writes:
My memories with Eric Newman go back quite a few years. I don’t recall when I first met him, but it was by the mid-1950s. Around 1956 or 1957, a number of youthful people, including myself, Walter Breen, Ken Rendell, Dick Johnson, Grover Criswell, and Ken Bressett, decided to form the Rittenhouse Society. At the time, main-line dealers were mainly what we called “old guard,” interested in selling coins, but not particularly interested in research. The same could be said for officers of the American Numismatic Association and other leading figures in the hobby.

For us, we enjoyed the history behind the coin, token, medal, or piece of paper money. Youth was the key to our enthusiasm, or at least so we thought, and we determined that to be a member of the Rittenhouse Society one needed to be under 30 years of age. Ken Bressett was born in 1928, and thus he just got under the wire. Upon further contemplation , we quickly came to realize that one of the greatest research figures of all, Eric P. Newman, born in 1911, would be excluded. Having him a part of the Society was an absolute must, as we all admired him and his many accomplishments. Instantly, the age requirements were dropped!

Eric became one of the founders. The Society met for breakfast once each year at the annual ANA summer convention. Now and again he would pick up the tab, as others of us did from time to time, or we split it multiple ways. A good time was always had by all. The camaraderie continues, now with 20 or so members attending each year.

Today (actually it is TODAY, May 25th!), at age 97, Eric's lamp of enthusiasm and knowledge burns as brightly as ever. He is as sharp as a tack, is as generous as can be, and certainly is a foundation stone in numismatics and has been for a long time. I wrote a little article about him in a leading publication—I will not give away the information until it appears in print, probably this coming week—which furthers some of my thoughts.

Here’s a toast to Eric, and to many more years of numismatic excellence, and caring and sharing for the world around us, capably joined by his wife Evelyn.

Alan V. Weinberg writes:
I don't know Eric very well although I've seen him on occasion over the last 50 yrs at ANA shows. He was not a regular show attendee even decades ago, unlike the omnipresent John Pittman who even attended shows in his wheelchair in his last year or so. Although not knowing him, I mailed Eric, on good faith, a genuine New England shilling back in 1978-79 following the discovery of really deceptive colonial coin forgeries made by a mid-California counterfeiter. Spark Erosion Copies that were made in such limited quantity but were so superb that they fooled the best experts in the country, including Dave Bowers. In fact , that was precisely how they were discovered!

I owned this Ex Fine NE XII at the time (ex-Kreisberg/Cohen sale at $7,200 ! ) and opened Bowers & Ruddy's 1978 ANA auction catalogue to find my exact same shilling up for auction. Wait a minute! Did someone take mine out of the bank vault?

And an Ex Fine Washington Born Virginia in the same catalogue that had the same minute edge circulation irregularities as another piece that had recently sold. And a nice Bar cent. Subsequently, Dave withdrew maybe eight "rare" colonials, all consigned by the same source. Eric studied them and wrote what is today, 29 yrs later, still a masterful nine page article in the April 1979 Numismatist entitled "Superb Numismatic Forgeries Are Upon Us". At the time the article really shook up the colonial coin market. The forgeries were THAT good!

Interestingly, while I sat chatting at Tony Terranova's table at the last Long Beach coin show, a prominent dealer walked up to Tony seeking his opinion on an attractive ExFine Washington Born Virginia copper. Tony recognized it from those minute rim circulation marks as one of the fakes Eric wrote about. Yep, these same superb forgeries still are around and likely in a few collections. And these days, few "expert dealers" recall Eric's 1979 ANA masterpiece on Superb Colonial Forgeries.

Actually, given their continued presence on the market, it would be a good idea if the Numismatist reprinted the article. There are so many different collectors and dealers these days than in 1979. But Eric is still with us!

Fred Reed writes:
Eric Newman has been an inspiration to me in my numismatic research for more than 30 years. I was my decided pleasure to tell him so at his museum. He is truly a great numismatist and fine human being. Happy birthday, Eric!

I've had the pleasure of knowing Eric for many years myself. I don't recall when we first met, but it was probably at an ANA convention. My first opportunity to spend significant time with him came at an Early American Coppers convention in St. Louis. I've forgotten the year, but it was probably in the early 1990s.

Knowing that Eric had a great numismatic library I asked him at the show if there was any chance I could see it. Without any prior planning Eric graciously left the show and led myself, John Burns and Charlie Davis on a private tour of his museum and library. I was in numismatic heaven that day.

Another time John Burns and I travelled to Washington, D.C. to hear Eric speak about Joseph Nourse, the first Register of the Treasury. "America’s First Civil Servant" was highly respected and his career spanned forty years and six presidential administrations. Nourse played a key role in administering the finances of the new Republic. Eric's speech was at Dumbarton House in Georgetown, the headquarters of The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. Construction of the mansion was begun in 1799 by Samuel Jackson, and later completed by James Nourse.

We greatly enjoyed the talk and afterwards went out with Eric for his favorite treat, ice cream.

Another time, while en route solo to the ANA Convention in Portland, OR, my plane stopped in St. Louis to take on passengers. I shouldn't have been surprised (but I was anyway) when in walked none other than Eric Newman. The flight wasn't full and after takeoff I wandered back to Eric's row and he invited me to sit with him. We spent the rest of the flight discussing many topics, from our mutual friends in numismatics to his wife Evelyn and her prolific charity work.

Happy Birthday, Eric! -Editor.


Members of the American Numismatic Association will soon be able to access the organization's monthly publication, The Numismatist, online. Dave Perkins was the first to forward the announcement, which appeared in the ANA's May E-Newsletter.

Effective with the June issue, members can access The Numismatist at The electronic edition replicates the printed version using a "flip-page" format. Readers can zoom in, perform keyword searches, or use the table of contents to go right to items of interest. Advertisers can link their ads to their websites, enabling collectors to fully explore their goods or services. Readers will continue to receive the printed magazine, unless they express a preference for the digital edition only.

Beginning today, you can view the online version of the June issue by clicking on the icon at the bottom of the homepage.

Click here to access the June issue of The Numismatist online.
This is a real milestone for the ANA's flagship publication. Just before reading the news I had read some articles in my hardcopy of the June issue, and was very impressed. See the next item for more on the contents of the issue.


Numismatist June 2008 contents page Thursday was a long day. After work I headed to a baseball field to join my family in watching our son Christopher's Little League game. He had a great game. As catcher he threw the ball to second in time for his teammates to catch the runner between bases and throw him out. Coming up to bat with two out in the bottom of the last inning, he hit a nice single to right field, then made it all the way to third before the play was over. Sad to say, his team still lost despite an impressive rally.

I heated up some leftovers for dinner while my wife put the kids to bed. I grabbed my new copy of the June Numismatist and began reading the cover article: The Art of Robert Aitken - Beauty in Thought & Execution. I enjoyed learning about this important artist, who was responsible for designing commemorative gold coins for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. The story was interesting and the choice of illustrations was superb.

Barbara Gregory In my haste (or was it hunger?) to get to the meat of the article, I hadn't noticed who the author was, and I wondered who it was. As it turns out, the article was penned by none other than Barbara Gregory, The Numismatist's longtime editor. Other great articles in the issue included:

Prebel Medal Mystery by Tony Lopez, is about a Congressional Gold Medal awarded to Commodore Edward Preble, the commanding officer of the U.S.S. Constitution in the Barbary Wars. The author acknowledged assistance from E-Sylumites John W. Adams and Dick Johnson.

Spanning the Ages by Max Speigel discusses numismatic souvenirs related to the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge 125 years ago.

Philadelphia's First "P" Mintmark concerns an interesting bit of U.S. numismatic trivia: What were the FIRST coins produced at the Philadelphia Mint to bear the "P" mintmark? The answer surprised me - it's NOT the 1942 Jefferson Nickel. Can anyone supply the answer without consulting the article?

Rounding out the issue are the contributions of regular columnists including David Lange, David Vagi, Wendell Wolka and others. It's a great issue - check it out!


Amanda DeWees of Whitman Publishing is seeking assistance from bibliophiles to complete the new “Guide Book of the Guide Book”. Can you help? -Editor
E-Sylum readers will probably recall the recent discussion of the upcoming Guide Book of the Official Red Book of United States Coins (the “Guide Book of the Guide Book,” or GBGB) by Frank Colletti. I’m in charge of shepherding it through the editorial process, and I’m happy to report that the book is jogging along nicely toward publication, but I’m hoping that E-Sylumists will be able to help me fill in a few gaps.

The GBGB will be illustrated with vintage Red Book advertisements from publications like the Numismatist, but I’ve been unable to find a print ad for some editions. Collectors who have back issues of numismatic periodicals could help me by checking for Red Book ads and allowing me to borrow them for scanning (or emailing me their own high-resolution scans).

At present I lack print ads for the following Red Book editions:
  • 31st through 34th (cover dates 1978 through 1981)
  • 36th through 41st (cover dates 1983 through 1988)
  • 45th and 46th (cover dates 1992 and 1993)
  • 50th (cover date 1997)
I’m also hoping to find book reviews of the Red Book from its 50th edition to the present. Anyone who finds these would earn my gratitude by faxing them to me or mailing me photocopies.

Finally, although I’ve already received some wonderful vintage photographs of Red Book personae, I’d welcome more! I’d just need to borrow these long enough to scan them; originals will be returned to the gracious lender.

I can be reached by email at or by fax at 678-891-4599. Thanks in advance!


DAVID F. FANNING NUMISMATIC LITERATURE offers fixed price lists on our Web site at In stock: A Catalogue of British Historical Medals, 1760-1960: Vol. I, The Accession of George III to the Death of William IV. By Laurence Brown. First edition. Near fine. $250 postpaid. e-mail

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


Andrew W. Pollock III and another reader forwarded this Associated Press story about this week's court ruling on the redesign of U.S. paper money to assist the blind. -Editor.
Close your eyes, reach into your wallet and try to distinguish between a $1 bill and a $5 bill. Impossible? It's also discriminatory, a federal appeals court says.

Since all paper money feels pretty much the same, the government is denying blind people meaningful access to the currency, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled Tuesday. The decision could force the Treasury Department to make bills of different sizes or print them with raised markings or other distinguishing features.

The American Council of the Blind sued for such changes, but the government has been fighting the case for about six years.

Courts don't decide how to design currency. That's up to the Treasury Department, and the ruling forces the department to address what the court called a discriminatory problem.

That could still take years. But since blindness becomes more common with age, people in their 30s and 40s should know that, when they get older, "they will be able to identify their $1 bills from their fives, tens and twenties," said Pomerantz, of the Council of the Blind.

Redesigned bills could also mean more job opportunities, since employers often hesitate to hire blind workers for jobs handling money, said Charlson, of the Perkins School for the Blind.

The government could ask for a rehearing by the full appeals court or challenge the decision to the Supreme Court.

Treasury Department spokeswoman Brookly McLaughlin said the department was reviewing the opinion. She noted that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which prints the nation's currency, recently hired a contractor to consider ways to help the blind. The results will be available early next year, she said.

To read the complete article, see: Court: Paper money discriminates against the blind
The online publication The Spoof has already satirized the bill. -Editor.
Henry Paulson, Jr., a practical joker, wants each bill to have a three-dimensional aspect related to the portrait, thus giving the blind person an immediate tactile answer to the bill he or she is holding.

For example, for the one-dollar bill, a silver dollar in President Washington's mouth for supposedly throwing one across the Potomac River. For President Lincoln, on the five-dollar bill, a projection of the mole on his face, for the ten-dollar bill, a bullet about to strike Alexander Hamilton in his duel with Aaron Burr, for the President Jackson twenty, a projecting hairdo, for the President U.S. Grant fifty-dollar bill, a cannon for this Civil War hero, and for the hundred, Benjamin Franklin with his kite.

To read the complete article, see: U.S. Treasury Must Redesign All Paper Currency for Equal Protection of the Blind


Dick Johnson submitted the following thoughts on changes to U.S. currency. -Editor.
The discussion this week was of possible changes in American currency to facilitate the blind. Embossing the denomination in Braille makes sense and we wonder why it has not already been implemented. Making each paper money denomination a different size does not make a lot of sense.

I read several stories, like the one from Cleveland where they interviewed blind workers at city newsstands, who stated changing the size of our currency was unnecessary. They relied on the honesty of their customers and this has worked very well, thank you.

However, the blind are far more attuned to the diameter and edge surfaces of coins. Their fingers are sensitive enough to discriminate cents from dimes, and nickels from quarters -- because of the edge reeding on high denominations -- but also rely on diameter to tell coin differences apart.

The United States should consider issuing circulating coins in one, five and ten dollar denominations, each with succeeding larger size whether or not the same paper denominations are eliminated. This would facilitate a large percentage of the cash transactions of the blind. To read the complete article, see: Cleveland blind aren't clamoring for new currency


E-Sylum reader R.V. Dewey invites interested researchers to an event at the Long Beach Coin Expo this week: J. B. L. - One 19th Century “Mint Tagger” Exposed! The "Farouk Flyer" is a Flying Eagle Cent pattern R.V. discussed here in The E-Sylum.

For more information, contact R. V. Dewey: (714) 997-7777 or -Editor.
Please join us for an evening with the Farouk Flyer™ on Thursday, May 29th, 2008 in Southern California as we rewrite numismatic history together! View first hand the signatures of James Barton Longacre as they emerge from the surface of the Farouk Flyer™. See for yourself as a second and even a third eagle appear from the J.B.L. die. Images never intended to be seen by “outsiders” will astound and amaze even the most seasoned numismatist.

Mark your calendar because the way you look at coins will change forever on May 29th, 2008. Be our guest and experience the discovery specimen of the Longacre signature, on the Flying Eagle Cent, up-close and personal.

On display will be rare, unusual and unique coins including an 1851 Type I Gold Dollar in “Orichalchum” (Roman brass – 80% copper, 20% zinc). No trace elements present. Is it the only known Type I Gold Dollar pattern?

A $3 Gold coin 95% Gold (22.9 Kt.) and 5% copper (no trace elements present) Could this also be a JBL pattern? The first $3 Gold pattern is recorded in 1864, is this correct? Were there really no patterns for 10 years?

An 1855 Flying Eagle Judd 171A with a trace element of Silver in a copper nickel zinc coin.

A Judd 171 and 171A will be on display side by side. Can you visually tell the difference between these rare patterns, or is elemental analysis mandatory? You decide.

To read an earlier E-Sylum article on the "Farouk Flyer", see: FAROUK SALE LOT 1751 BUYER SOUGHT


I met Douglas Chambers of the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission in 2004 when I was General Chairman of the Pittsburgh ANA convention. We set up an exhibit of Carnegie Hero medals. He did a web search recently which led him to an earlier E-Sylum article I'd edited. -Editor
Doug Chambers writes:
Imagine my surprise when I Googled some words looking for advice on extracting a medal from Lucite and finding an article written by you!! An awardee has just returned to us his medal, which is embedded in Lucite, and was recently involved in a fire. He wants our help in freeing it. I've attached two photos to show you the condition. The medal was awarded for an act in 1968. At that time, and for a period before and after, the medals were embedded in Lucite when awarded.

Carnegie Hero Medal in Lucite (obverse) Carnegie Hero Medal in Lucite (reverse)

The article was on extracting coins embedded in blocks of Lucite. I recalled Joe Levine's story of how he extracted a nice set of Confederate cents from a block of Lucite. I put Doug in touch with Joe, who provided some advice on two methods:

  • Soaking the Lucite block in acetone
  • Freezing the block and shattering it with a hammer
Doug Chambers writes:
We froze the Lucite block and took a hammer to it. It took several hard blows, and with each strike more of the Lucite came free. It worked pretty well. There is some Lucite remaining and rather than risk damaging the medal with more strikes, we're going to do the acetone step.

To read an earlier E-Sylum article on the topic, see: EXTRACTING COINS EMBEDDED IN LUCITE

To read another E-Sylum article on the topic, see: MORE ON EXTRACTING COINS EMBEDDED IN LUCITE

For more information on the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission see:


HERITAGE AUCTION GALLERIES, one of the world’s largest Coin and Currency Auction Houses, currently has an opening for a Coin Catalog Writer. Must be knowledgeable about coins and have an impeccable writing ability. Please send writing samples and resume to Carolyn Hall at


Scott Semans writes: "Regarding the Wikipedia Numismatic portal, a few weeks ago I revised a very skeletal article on the Standard Catalog of World Coins, not through this portal but simply by registering and clicking on a REVISE link at the article itself. It is my first (and so far, only) Wikipedia entry, and basically a slight expansion of the mini-review at my website. I just skimmed the tutorial for new editors and did not include links or other advanced features. It was quite easy and I would encourage others who have not anointed themselves editors to pitch in.

To read the related E-Sylum article, see: THE WIKIPEDIA NUMISMATICS PORTAL


Fred Reed submitted the following item on the topic of politicians and portraits on U.S. paper money. -Editor.
In working on my Abraham Lincoln book for Whitman, I came across a note in a folder, that I took more than four years ago. In 2004 Stefan Herpel of Ann Arbor, MI had inquired in The E-Sylum about Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase's motives in positioning himself on $1 Legal Tender Notes, and Lincoln on $10 bills.

The gist of Mr. Herpel's inquiry was whether Chase thought having his face on the more plentiful lower denomination notes vis a vis his political rival Lincoln's mug on the tenspots would be good salesmanship for his presumptive campaign for the 1864 Republican nomination.

Chase's mania for higher office is well known. It was described by one intimate as a "mad hunt after the Presidency," and has been characterized in Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals" as "Chases's implacable yearning for the Presidency."

So such duplicity would not be beyond Chase's machinations. Mr. Herpel was looking for confirmation of this thesis, and I hope he remains a subscriber, or this might be forwarded to him (I would also like to correspond with him!)

Ms. Goodwin is a careful historian and excellent narrator. In her book's chapter "Fire in the Rear" about intramural squabbles in Washington she writes: "He [Chase] was also pleased by the fact that his own handsome face would appear in the left-hand corner of every dollar bill. He had deliberately chosen to place his picture on the ubiquitous one-dollar bill rather than a bill of a higher denomination, knowing that his image would thus reach the greatest number of people." (page 510)

Ms. Goodwin cites: Salmon P. Chase, "'Going Home to Vote,'" Authentic Speeches of S.P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury, During His Visit to Ohio, with His Speeches at Indianapolis, and at the Mass Meeting in Baltimore, October, 1863" (Washington, D.C.: W.H. Moore, 1863), p. 25; and a secondary source from newspaper correspondent Noah Brooks' "Mr. Lincoln's Washington," p. 176.

While I certainly have no desire to pick a fight with an eminent historian, I have real questions about this thesis, although it's certainly a pat notion.

Chase abhorred the fiat paper greenbacks, even as he used them advantageously to pay federal invoices. Furthermore, he led the Supreme Court majority in 1870 when he was Chief Justice of the United States in declaring the greenbacks unconstitutional in Hepburn v. Griswold (75 U.S. 603); and Chase dissented when this opinion was subsequently overturned after Grant had packed the Supreme Court.

This alone raises red flags. That would be equivalent to Honus Wagner permitting his picture to appear on tobacco cards, when he was a vigorous opponent of smoking and conscious of being a role model.

Also, Lincoln had already appeared on the $10 Demand Notes, issued the year before Legal Tenders were authorized. Chase had been very solicitous of having a good and correct likeness of Lincoln appear on this paper currency so these notes would do their part in sustaining the war effort.

Lincoln's appearance on the $10 U.S. Notes (the very same likeness by the way) was merely an encore. When these U.S. Notes were authorized in Feb. 1862, no small notes (under $5) were authorized nor even anticipated. Small notes were anathema.

As late as June, 1862, Lincoln vetoed legislation that would have allowed federally-chartered banks in the District of Columbia to issue small bank notes. Federal government policy was long established as hostile to small notes because they competed with federal seigniorage revenues.

When greenback inflation drove federal coinage underground, the issue of small ($1 and $2) greenbacks, as well as federal Postage Currency was an economic necessity, not a political choice. When Chase's image did eventually appear on $1 greenbacks in summer 1862, it may have been perceived by him as politically expedient in furthering his aspirations to be President. He may have even joked about this with his daughter Kate, who was her father's panzer corps. I don't have access to the 1863 pamphlet that Ms. Goodwin references, but I would be most surprised if Chase announced publicly that he had done such a subversive act, while he was still serving in Lincoln's cabinet in the middle year of the Civil War! I'll check to see what Noah Brooks says when I get home from my trip, but Brooks is hardly an objective source. He was a confidante and often a flak for Lincoln.

Lincoln could well have planted this notion with Brooks as he was warily eying his political foe, Chase.

Even saying that Chase and his daughter thought it (Chase's appearance on the dollar) was a coup, is NOT equivalent to saying Chase put Lincoln on the tenspot because that disadvantaged his political rival.

To read the original E-Sylum article, see: SALMON P. CHASE INFO SOUGHT


Friday's Wall Street Journal ran a page-one column about the Mint's rationing of order for silver bullion coins. -Editor.
The government rationed food during World War II and gasoline in the 1970s. Now, it's imposing quotas on another precious commodity: 2008 dollar coins known as silver eagles.

The coins, each containing about an ounce of silver, have become so popular among investors seeking alternatives to stocks and real estate that the U.S. Mint can't make them fast enough. In March, the mint stopped taking orders for the bullion coins. Late last month, it began limiting how many coins its 13 authorized buyers world-wide are allowed to purchase.

"This came out of nowhere," says Mark Oliari, owner of Coins 'N Things Inc. in Bridgewater, Mass., one of the biggest buyers of silver eagles. With customers demanding twice as many as they did last year, Mr. Oliari would like to buy 500,000 a week. But the mint will sell him only around 100,000.

For Coins 'N Things alone, the shortage is costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost sales of silver eagles. The firm sells about $1 billion worth of precious metal every year, including silver, gold and platinum coins. Mr. Oliari, a 50-year-old numismatist who has been in the business since 1973, sniffs: "You can't print what I want to say about the mint."

The mint, a bureau of the U.S. Treasury, has offered little explanation beyond a memo last month to its dealers. "The unprecedented demand for American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins necessitates our allocating these coins on a weekly basis until we are able to meet demand," the mint wrote. A spokesman declined to elaborate.

Each Monday morning now, the mint divides its silver coins into two pools. It divvies up the first equally among authorized purchasers. The second is allocated proportionately, based on the buyer's past purchases. The mint limited purchases once before -- in the late 1990s, when investors loaded up on silver, wrongly anticipating that a failure by the world's computers to adjust to the new millennium would cripple the economy.

To read the complete article, see: Losing a Mint: Curb on Coin Sales Angers Collectors


A television news program in Indiana featured a story on the SilverTowne Mint. -Editor.
SilverTowne minting facility in Winchester boasts being one of only a handful of custom mint facilities in the country.

Hidden within the city, the mint creates custom coins for clients from across the globe, said sales associate Marcia Neeley. The coins are more like medallions, she said, because they hold no monetary value.

About 25 people work in the factory that has been in the area for more than 20 years.

The mint has created coins for the military, ground-breaking ceremonies and they’ve even been commissioned to create a coin as a business card, Neeley said.

Marveling at the capacity of reporters to misstate even the simplest numismatic concepts, the reader who forwarded the story remarked, Of course, the private "coins" are not sort of LIKE medallions, they ARE medallions (and medals, and tokens). ARRGHHH!!! They can't even get the simple things correct!
To create the complete article (and view the video) see: SilverTowne mint creates custom coins for clients


OK, I am getting old. The Vietnam War seems like recent history to me, but it's been forty years. That's still a short time by history standards, which makes it interesting to see the values being fetched by certain Vietnam medals. The Victoria Cross craze goes on, as this article from an Australian newspaper shows. -Editor.
A Victoria Cross medal from the Vietnam War has sold for $488,000 at auction in Sydney while another similar medal awarded after World War 1 will go under the hammer next week.

Peter Badcoe's  Victoria Cross The sales have reignited the debate over whether such decorations should be sold off and whether private collectors should be able to buy them.

The sold medal was awarded to Adelaide-born Major Peter Badcoe for a series of heroic actions during the Vietnam War in 1967.

The Victoria Cross, the commonwealth’s highest decoration for gallantry, was sold to an anonymous buyer, but will remain in Sydney, the auctioneer said.

Three bidders were in the race to buy the medals, with spirited bidding starting at $300,000 in Bonhams & Goodman’s auction house in Double Bay tonight.

Bonhams & Goodman chairman Tim Goodman said the medal would remain in Australia.

To read the complete article, see: Australian war history goes under the hammer


The authenticity of a painting depicted on a Bank of Korea note has been called into question. -Editor.
The authenticity of a painting by a famous artist of the Joseon era, used as a design on the reverse of the 1,000-won note, has been called into question by a painting appraiser.


The painting and calligraphy appraisal expert also claimed that many art works by other artists, listed as cultural properties, are actually forgeries.

Lee Dong-cheon said in his recent book that ``Gyesangjeonggeodo,'' a landscape by the renowned painter Jeong Seon during the late Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910), was a forgery. The painting was also part of the design for the 1,000-won note, which has been used since January last year.

``Jeong's works show similar qualities to one another. But the painting has low-quality brush strokes, although it was reportedly painted in 1746 when he was 70 years old and his ability had fully matured,'' Lee said.

He also claimed many paintings listed as treasures and kept at major museums such as the National Museum of Korea, Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, and Gansong Art Museum are also fakes.

Lee said that 19 paintings from a 25-page picture book by Joseon painter Kim Hong-do are fake, saying they had traces of Chinese ink which is believed to be used for forgeries. He also said another work of Kim, believed to have been painted in the 18th century, used a dye developed in the late 19th century.

Lee was the pupil of Yang Renkai, one of China's most renowned appraisers for ancient paintings and calligraphy.

Experts in art circles doubt Lee's claims. ``Gyesangjeonggeodo was designated as a cultural asset in 1973. We will examine the painting again, but most appraisal experts have agreed on its authenticity,'' a Cultural Heritage Administration official said.

Some art history professors raised the question whether Lee made the decision about forgery after directly examining the paintings, as it is difficult to see the old, precious works.

To read the original article, see: Authenticity of Painting on Reverse of 1,000-Won Banknote Questioned


Richard Giedroyc of World Coin News published a story about a new banknote-related technology being introduced by Mitsubishi corporation. -Editor.
In more recent times bank notes have seen such security devices as micro-printing, solid security threads, windowed or interrupted security threads, front-to-back printing registration, color-shifting inks, holograms and bar codes added to currency... Today bank notes aren't always composed of paper. Increasingly bank notes are now made of polymer plastic, a more durable substance that is also challenging to counterfeit.

It can be argued that until now the cutting edge of bank note technology has been led by Note Printing Australia and by Switzerland. Australia and Switzerland each export their technology, printing notes for other nations in addition to their own domestic needs. Mitsubishi Electric Corporation in Japan now wants to enter this inner circle.

Jiji Press announced March 25 that Mitsubishi is launching "contact image sensors in late May that enable automated teller machines and other financial terminals to detect a special luminous ink used in bank notes."

These new sensors, according to the press release, are capable of reading special ink on bank notes that reacts to ultraviolet rays. Until now there has been no optical sensor able to respond to luminous inks.

To read the complete article, see: Mitsubishi Introduces New Numismatic Technology


The Herald Tribune of Florida reported on a recent house sale where the buyer paid partly in gold coins. -Editor.
On Monday, Realtor Kim Ogilvie closed a deal with a very interesting twist.

A golden one to be exact.

The buyer of a downtown Sarasota residence that sold for more than $1 million brought a briefcase filled with $400,000 worth of South African Krugerrands to the closing -- that is about 444 of the gold coins. A foreign coin expert was at the closing and verified the coins' authenticity and weight.

"This was a first," Ogilvie acknowledged, adding in Realtor fashion: "It really shows you the depth to which buyers will go to use their resources to acquire properties they think are well-priced."

Despite the big push by Realtors regionwide for international buyers -- and, of course, the foreign-born Krugerrands -- both the buyer and the seller were Americans.


This week's featured web site is WWII Allied Propaganda Banknotes by Herbert A. Friedman.


The field of psychological operations (PSYOP) and aerial propaganda leaflets is vast. Billions of leaflets were dropped during WWII, with thousands of different themes. One of my favorite categories is the leaflet in the form of a banknote. It is a very strong psychological tool.

Few people will fail to pick up a banknote on the ground. For this reason they have always been popular as a medium of propaganda. In this article we will discuss and illustrate the banknote leaflets prepared by the Allies for use against the Axis powers and their collaborators. Portions of this article have appeared previously in the International Bank Note Society Journal, Volume 23, No. 3, 1984, 1985, and Volume 24 No. 3, 1985.

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