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


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David M. Sundman, Secretary/TreasurerNumismatic Bibliomania Society
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You won't regret it!


Wayne Homren Among our recent subscribers is Dwight R McGhee. Welcome aboard! We now have 1,204 subscribers.

This week we open with updates from three numismatic booksellers, David Sklow, David Fanning and Fred Lake. Next, book reviews and updates cover several topics including early U.S. currency, Confederate paper money and Russian Civil War banknotes.

On topics opened in previous issues we discuss the 1795 reeded edge large cent, JFK's lucky gold coin and the Lewes Pound. In the news are coin and medal designers Dora de Pidery-Hunt and Richard Masters.

To learn of a modern day execution for counterfeiting (and an accused witch being forced to pluck a silver coin from boiling oil), read on. Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


David Sklow writes:
Sale #5 was a great success and I would like to thank every person that participated. Invoices are in the mail, and packages are shipping! Just a highlight or two: lot 250, the First Mint Photograph realized $2337.00 in spirited bidding! Lot 133, the "101" Elder Sales brought $5511.00, lot 244 (surprise) the Youth's Companion realized $240.00 on a $25.00 estimate! Lot 819, Volume 5 of The Numismatist realized $825.00. Of note is all these mentioned were reduced bids! Check my web site for the complete PRL.

Sale #6 is set for February 2009. We are accepting consignments for all future sales. PH: (719) 302-5686, FAX: (719) 302-4933. Visit our web site


David F. Fanning writes:
The catalogue for our October 28 auction is in the mail. A serious printer delay has caused the catalogue to mail late. Bidders should keep in mind that the sale closes at 8 p.m. eastern time on October 28 and should plan their bids accordingly. The catalogue is also available (albeit in unillustrated form) on our Web site at . To receive a copy of the catalogue, please write us at , or call (614) 754-1069. Thanks to those of you who have already placed bids. We look forward to an exciting sale.


Fred Lake of Lake Books writes:
Our sale #95 has now been posted to the Lake Books web site and can be viewed at: The sale has a closing date of Tuesday, November 11, 2008 at 5:00 PM (EST). Bids may be sent via email, fax, telephone or regular mail. The sale features selections from the library of John T. Hamilton III. John is a well-known collector of medals and tokens in addition to having an interest in the full range of numismatics. He also had a number of his books specially bound thus condition is generally quite fine.


Author Will Nipper reported that several E-Sylum readers took him up on his discount offer to purchase copies of his new book, which was profiled in last week's issue. One of the buyers was Tom Kays, who submitted this review. -Editor
Nipper Yankee Doodle's Pocket In Yankee Doodle.s Pocket . The Myth, Magic and Politics of Money in Early America by Will Nipper and available from Bowmanstone Press is a lavish new work of love encompassing the American colonial coin series that celebrates the history of colonial coins, tokens, and currency both within the traditional series and to the outermost fringes of the incidentals that Yankee Doodles sweated for, saved and spent.

Fully illustrated on most every one of the 568 pages with coins from the author.s vast collection, Will painstakingly extends his pictures with line drawings of uncollectable rarities to complete the series. Drawing from current sources of numismatic inquiry

Will includes exotics such as the Ferryland DK lead token, extensive types of contemporary counterfeit English copper, and ties coin and currency devices to colonial iconography to bring alive their context. This is not a price guide and I applaud Will for publishing such a labor of love.

From forms of barter, to jetons, coin weights, and through the complex Latin American series down to macaroni pieces in Yankee doodles pocket, it is all here. Will spans money of North America during the first three hundred years before the first Federal coin, and includes those too, down to 1840 when mass production began to limit the quirks of die cutters and cookie cutter coins began to require magnifying glasses to discern their variety.

Great attention to the distinctive varieties of States coppers and distinguishing characteristics of a wide range of other series are provided in attribution guides in the appendices that make this work a must for the serious numismatist.

A long list of references and endnotes complete the work as a scholarly tome, yet it is eminently readable and enjoyable in sound bites for each extended coin type where the juicy historical relevance and human interest lay. If you are a member of the Colonial Coin Collectors Club (C4) this is quite up your alley. Imagine all of your C4 newsletters organized and bound, edited into a snappy narrative and profusely illustrated. Will Nipper has spent four decades collecting and studying the coins of early America and it shows. Buy it - you.ll like it.

For more information on the publisher's web site, see: In Yankee Doodle.s Pocket (


In an email newsletter published yesterday, author Pierre Fricke included information about his Confederate paper money books. Here are some excerpts. -Editor
Fricke Confederate Field Guide The new Confederate Paper Money Book . Collecting Confederate Paper Money . Field Edition 2008 by Pierre Fricke may be purchased at .

It is selling at about twice the rate of the 2005 book in its first months and is more than half way sold out at the wholesale level! I do not know if we will print a second run of the 2008 version. Some have told me they believe it will be a $60 book in the future .maybe or maybe not, we.ll see.

The 2010 Historical Edition of Collecting Confederate Paper Money is well underway with major updates to the Confederate Paper Money condition census from the 2005 book. This is a complementary volume to the 2008 book. More than 150 people have submitted information and had an uptick in activity since the new book became available. There also will be a significant expansion of the history of finance and collecting in this edition, effectively expanding and publishing the remaining parts of the 2005 book.


Istomin Russian Banknotes Volume II Mikhail Istomin of Kharkov, Ukraine writes:

Hard-bound, size appr. A4, 416 pages, many illustrations. Parallel texts Russian/English. Cost 50 US dollars + shipment. Prices in US dollars. Additional information at


DAVID F. FANNING NUMISMATIC LITERATURE offers auctions and fixed price lists on our Web site at Our October 28th mail-bid auction includes a wide variety of material including A plated copy of the Malcolm N. Jackson sale (US Coin Co., 1913).


An E-Sylum reader provided some background on the Dauer books on currency that Howard Daniel inquired about. -Editor
Dauer American History In the latest E-Sylum, you published an item about two books by Dr. Ed Dauer. I was surprised that anyone in the numismatic book community had not at least been aware of Dauer's U.S. Currency book, which currency collectors like myself have known about for several years. I was unaware that Dr. Dauer had published a similar book on Australian currency.

It's a 'coffee table book', with many illustrations that showcase the Dauer currency collection. The text deals mostly with well known historical events that took place at approximately the same time that a given note was issued. For example, the sinking of the Titanic is discussed in the text that accompanies illustrations of a note that was issued around 1912.

Shortly after the book was printed, I noticed that Heritage was advertising it with 2' x 3' posters mounted on easels outside their auction viewing room at shows such as FUN. I should have suspected that Heritage was in the process of obtaining the Dauer's U.S. Currency collection for consignment. Heritage/CAA has sold several parts of the collection during the last few years.

Actually, we did discuss the Dauer book once before, on July 2, 2006. An article in the Miami Herald profiled the Dauers and their collection. -Editor



Grant Powers 1936 World Series Program Last week Jeff Reichenberger wrote:
My favorite baseball / numismatic ephemera combination comes in published form. The 1936 World Series featured cross town rivals, the New York Giants against the New York Yankees.

But the real star of the series (at least in my eyes) was the 1936 World Series Official Program, which featured cover art prominently displaying the reverse of the buffalo nickel.

Bill Malkmus writes:
Jeff Reichenberger's comments on the 1936 World Series program made me perk up. I suspect other elderly expatriate New Yorkers will comment, but just in case (since Mr. Reichenberger wondered "what may have inspired his choice of the buffalo nickel"):

The 1936 Series (N. Y. Giants vs N. Y. Yankees) was one of the so-called "subway series" (since New Yorkers could attend all games via the subway, for the then-current five-cent fare, represented by a Buffalo nickel in 1936).

Not too earth-shaking, but 70-plus years later, some subtleties can get lost.

David Lange also had the correct answer. He writes:
It was a "subway series" between two New York teams. In those days the subway fare was still five cents, hence the nickel.

A reader asked where we could read Jeff's full article on baseball and numismatics, but he writes:
It hasn't been published yet. But I'll be happy to send anyone the full article for review.

So if you're interested in the full article, let me know and I'll put you in touch with Jeff. -Editor

Ginger Rapsus adds:
I am a baseball fan, too (go, White Sox!) and I enjoyed the piece on the 1936 World Series program. Back on July 1, 1980, the 70th anniversary of Comiskey Park, there were a few items of interest to collectors. Fans could enter the park and pay old-time prices.

A silver dime bought a hot dog and a small soft drink. A silver quarter bought a general admission ticket. A silver half dollar paid for a box seat. A special commemorative medal was given out to the first 15,000 fans entering the park that night. I attended the game, and the Angels beat the Sox...but it was a fun night!


Regarding last week's discussion of the discovery of a rare 1795 reeded edge large cent, Alan V. Weinberg writes:
The S-79 reeded edge 1795 large cent was published in Bowers & Merena Coin World ads. They have the coin, now slabbed as G-4, on consignment and it will be auctioned in November at the Baltimore coin show. The slab is clear and reveals the all-important reeded edge. Word is among collectors that the coin will hammer for more between $200 and $300K.


Inspired by The E-Sylum, Rich Mantia submitted these comments on the very first coin struck for the United States on behalf of the Congress of the Confederation. -Editor
The last issue of the E-Sylum from October 5th with your comment to, "buy the book before the coin." motivated me to send you this note. Nothing could be more true. I wanted to write this to you and all the readers of the E-Sylum because this is the place knowledgeable people go to be informed about numismatics. This open forum brings people together and enhances our hobby and passion through shared information.

I would like to share this with the readers. I believe that this bold statement is worth stating and all comments and criticism are welcome. I am able to show with clear evidence, facts, and deductions that the coin known as the 1783 Nova Constellatio 500 Unit (type 2) Quint is the very first coin struck for the United States on behalf of the Congress of the Confederation.

It became known with Robert Morris' diary annotation on April 2, 1783 where he stated "I sent for Mr. Dudley who delivered me a piece of silver coin being the first that has been struck as an American coin".

This coin is also misdescribed, because it is not the type 2, it is the prototype for the remaining 1783 Pattern pieces and it should properly be called the "Libertas Justitia" coins not "Nova Constellatio". Nova Constellatio was a revised version of this design that balanced the obverse and reverse by completing the thought for the "Eye of Providence", the "Glory", and the circular constellation of new stars. The coin has also been repeatedly shown with the "Eye of Providence" facing the left, which is incorrect giving the coin a medal turn appearance. The "Eye" should face right for the correct coin turn image.

Lastly, Walter Breen was wrong with his 1986 statement in his Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. Coins that it is pin scratched having a date of "2 Dec" in 18th century script. It is pin scratched and it is 18th century script, but it has 4 letters on it. They are as follows: F DeO. Many may think this is for the Latin phrase of "Fecit Deo", but that too is wrong. It is for the Latin phrase of "Favente Deo", meaning the Favor, Support, or Aid of God! This was a possible inscription for the finished coinage and/or it may have been a plea for God's help to have this coin be accepted by Congress.

This is the 225th Anniversary of its striking at what could be called the actual First U.S. Mint in Philadelphia assembled by Benjamin Dudley in 1783. I have been working on this research for some time and I hope to be able to present a paper to the Coinage of the America's Conference at the A.N.S. I have much more information to substantiate my statements here, but none of this would have been possible for me if were not for books and the knowledge that they contain. While this country is in a financial turmoil, it is still far better than when this coin was first created and the "Eye of Providence" was watching then as it is now.


In response to my query about a gold good luck coin given to John F. Kennedy by Clare Boothe Luce, Don Valenziano writes:
I contacted the Kennedy Library to see if the coin was in their collection. It is not. However, Mara Vostral found reference to it in an old exhibit. It was connected to JFK's dog tags, which are in the possession of his brother, Senator Edward Kennedy.
Thanks for the detective work! -Editor


I thought I'd get an avalanche of email about R.V. Dewey's image, but readers have been unusually silent. I queried Dennis Tucker who wrote: "I think I might need new spectacles."

Author Harold Levi of Blairsville, GA writes:
The image is out of focus and expanded well beyond any usefulness. If the elements are truly on the coin's surface, then they should be identifiable by using a microscope to take pictures that are in focus.

I remain skeptical, but R.V claims he has many other examples of what he believes to be hidden images in coin designs. Until I see them, or others duplicate his results, the jury's out. In this particular photo, I do see what could be the face of a mustachioed man with curly black hair on the right, and what might be a jack-o'-lantern at the left (appropriate for this Halloween season). I suppose I can sort of see a letter "J", but can't make out a JBL.

Longacre Face and Signature

Is R.V.'s thesis possible? Is it plausible? Is it likely? I rushed out last week's issue, but I've had a week to mull it over and here's what I think. First, I do think it's quite plausible that coin engravers would incorporate some small signature or trademark, and might sometimes conceal their handiwork within some design element. I'm sure our readers could come up with many examples of hidden (or at least non-obvious) traces of engraver whimsy on coins or banknotes. Some have gotten into trouble with their superiors for doing so. Can anyone give us a specific instance (ideally accompanied with an image)?

Is it possible? To be specific, is it really possible that a 19th century engraver could impart an image THAT SMALL on a coin's surface? RV said the photograph "represents an area less then one-quarter square inch on the coin's surface."

R.V.'s image is about four inches across on my screen, a magnification of 16x horizontally. Translating that to square inches is a magnification of 256x (16 x 16). So we're taking an area about a quarter inch on each side and blowing it up to over 250 times its original size.

Doing this on a computer is a digital zoom, not an optical zoom. With a digital zoom clarity is lost. Only an optical zoom (using good lenses) could blow up an image without loss of clarity. So like Harold I'd prefer to see images taken of the coin's surface through a microscope.

So I'm not convinced that there's anything real about what anyone "sees" in these images. Besides, people smarter and more detail-oriented than me have been peering at coins with high magnification for decades. If such tiny signatures exist, is it possible they have been completely unnoticed until now? Possible perhaps, but I don't think likely. Still, I'll look forward to seeing other images and learning what E-Sylum readers think.

Kolbe 2008 Jan 04


It's not numismatic, but it is a library. And what a library! The "Nerd Library to End All Libraries" is featured in the October issue of Wired magazine. Now this is my idea of bibliophile heaven. It's also nice to know that money isn't always wasted on the wrong people. Who needs yachts and seven homes when you can have the world's coolest library? -Editor
Nothing quite prepares you for the culture shock of Jay Walker's library. You exit the austere parlor of his New England home and pass through a hallway into the bibliographic equivalent of a Disney ride. Stuffed with landmark tomes and eye-grabbing historical objects.on the walls, on tables, standing on the floor.the room occupies about 3,600 square feet on three mazelike levels.


Is that a Sputnik? (Yes.) Hey, those books appear to be bound in rubies. (They are.) That edition of Chaucer ... is it a Kelmscott? (Natch.) Gee, that chandelier looks like the one in the James Bond flick Die Another Day. (Because it is.) No matter where you turn in this ziggurat, another treasure beckons you.a 1665 Bills of Mortality chronicle of London (you can track plague fatalities by week), the instruction manual for the Saturn V rocket (which launched the Apollo 11 capsule to the moon), a framed napkin from 1943 on which Franklin D. Roosevelt outlined his plan to win World War II. In no time, your mind is stretched like hot taffy.

Wearing a huge can-you-believe-it grin is the collection's impresario, the 52-year-old Internet entrepreneur and founder of Walker Digital . a think tank churning out ideas and patents, it's best-known for its lucrative "I started an R&D lab and have been an entrepreneur. So I have a big affinity for the human imagination," he says. "About a dozen years ago, my collection got so big that I said, 'It's time to build a room, a library, that would be about human imagination.'"

Walker's house was constructed specifically to accommodate his massive library.

Walker shuns the sort of bibliomania that covets first editions for their own sake.many of the volumes that decorate the library's walls are leather-bound Franklin Press reprints. What gets him excited are things that changed the way people think, like Robert Hooke's Micrographia. Published in 1665, it was the first book to contain illustrations made possible by the microscope. He's also drawn to objects that embody a revelatory (or just plain weird) train of thought. "I get offered things that collectors don't," he says. "Nobody else would want a book on dwarfs, with pages beautifully hand-painted in silver and gold, but for me that makes perfect sense."

What can one say, but WOW! -Editor


Responding to Fred Reed's comment that Wikipedia is "not known for its accuracy", Arthur Shippee writes:
Yet again I'll take up the Wikipedia cause. On the one hand, there are lots of errors in lots of printed "authoritative" sources (these can be hard to fix). On the other hand, if it's wrong and you can document it, you can fix Wikipedia right away.

To use or reject Wikipedia naively is no help. To exercise critical judgment and caution, and to help make it better, is the nature of scholarship. People are going to use Wikipedia; why not then work to improve it?

Since Wikipedia is dedicated to NPOV, a neutral point of view (a troublesome concept in some situations), it won't have the ilan and personal insight that a signed encyclopedia article can have. What one day seems a bias may turn out to be the direction forward. Still, Wikipedia is clear about its goals and methods, which are worthy, and it's a way of reaching a broad general audience.

So, are some E-Sylum readers going to work to improve and oversee Wikipedia articles and subjects?

I think we can all agree that every resource has its limitations. But Arthur's call is a reasonable one. If there are numismatic misstatements or missing facts out there on Wikipedia, take a crack at fixing them. It's been ages since I've looked anything up there, but for better or worse the general public gets a lot of its information there. -Editor


The Globe and Mail ran an obituary October 4th of Dora de Pidery-Hunt. The Canadian coin and medal artist died recently at the age of 94. -Editor
Dora de Pidery-Hunt QEII The name may elude you, but her work is as familiar as the change that jingles in your pocket. Dora de Pidery-Hunt was the Hungarian-born artist who sculpted the image of a "mature" Queen Elizabeth that appeared on all our coins minted between 1990 and 2003. It was the first time a Canadian artist had ever been given such a commission.

Ms. de Pidery-Hunt also designed and moulded hundreds of art medals, beginning with the Canada Council Medal in 1961. Our foremost medallic artist, she created commemorative pieces for Canada's Centennial in 1967, Expo 70 in Osaka, the Montreal Olympics in 1976, the CBC's Reach for the Top program, organizations such as the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Zoo, and symbolic events such as the 300th anniversary of the Hudson's Bay Co. and the portrait medallion of Dr. Norman Bethune that prime minister Pierre Trudeau presented to Mao Zedong in China in 1973.

A founding member of the Medallic Art Society of Canada (MASC), she was also the first (1963) - and for many years the only - Canadian delegate to the Fidiration Internationale de la Midaille d'Art (FIDEM), the International Art Medal Federation.

Medals are my favourite form of expression," Ms. de Pidery once said. "They are like short poems." She expanded on the idea by describing the lure of making a medal in a passage that appeared in Medals, a trilingual book about her work, with

"I have to accept the challenges of working inside the limits of a small disc and obeying the strict rules of the striking, casting and finishing processes. But the clay is soft and it yields pleasantly, almost too easily to the touch of my fingers. Maybe, after all, these limitations are necessary. I welcome these odds - my medals are the result of a good fight against them - and at the end at least I can look back on a bravely fought battle."
Besides being an artist, Ms. de Pidery-Hunt was also a passionate advocate for her art form. In this role, she described the "magic" of owning a medal.

"Clasp it in your fist, let your warmth enter the cold metal and then take it to the window. Watch it: The light hits some edges, hidden crevices appear, there are some mounds you had not even seen before. Feel the tension of the surface, There is life underneath. It is not a cold piece of metal any more: Trees grow here, bodies leap high, faces emerge. All of this is brought about by you, and only you can arrest this magic moment or change it at any time with a light flick of your fingers."

To read the complete article, see: Sculptor who loved making medals put the Queen on Canada's coinage (

The article reveals her fascinating life story, which includes leaving her native Hungary after the Nazi invasion and vacating Dresden just one day before the devastating Allied bombings.

Terry Murray of Toronto wrote about Dora ("the mother of Canadian medals") in her October 9th blog. -Editor

Dora Pedery-Hunt

That's Dora in the picture above in March 2003 when she was presented with the J. Sanford Saltus Award for Signal Achievement in the Art of the Medal by the American Numismatic Society (ANS). (She is flanked by Stephen Scher on the left, who endowed a lecture that is presented every year in conjunction with the Saltus Award presentation, and Robert Wilson Hoge on the right, the ANS's Curator of North American Coins and Currency.)

The Saltus Award citation called Dora "one of the foremost, and most prolific, medallic sculptors of the 20th and now of the 21st centuries," "a premier artist of Canada" and "Canada's grande dame of medallic sculpture."

To read the complete article, see: Dora de Pidery-Hunt, 1913-2008 (


The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Advance-Titan published an article this week profiling art professor Richard Masters, whose design was chosen for one of the commemorative 2009 Lincoln Cent reverses. Masters also designed the Nebraska state quarter reverse in 2006. -Editor
2009LincolnCentR1 Most Americans use coins every day, but they probably don.t think about the process of designing and minting the coins.

Richard Masters, an art professor at UW-Oshkosh, was the same way for a long time. He said, .You know, when we were kids collecting coins, you never thought about the artist behind the design on there. You thought the coin gods are doing this, or somebody you never heard of. And when you see your own work on something like that it just seems to make the world smaller..

Masters is a master designer for the U.S. Mint.s Artistic Infusion Program. Since 2004, he.s been designing art for the faces on U.S. coins, and next year his work will grace the iconic penny.

A large replica of the first design, symbolizing Lincoln.s birth, depicts a log cabin and the year 1809, along with the initials of the artist who designed it: .R M. for Richard Masters.

Since his childhood in Iowa, Masters has been doing two things: collecting coins and drawing.

.I seemed to have a special talent for drawing,. he said. .And it.s just something I continued with, all the way through grade school, middle school and high school..

As a kid he picked up the hobby of coin collecting, or numismatics, and it stayed with him through the years.

He submitted his design in early summer, and it went through various revisions. Masters pointed out that many people don.t know the complex process of creating a new coin design.

.It.s all mandated through Congress and signed into law by the president,. Masters said of the schedule for creating new coins and special editions.

Then the various designs go to different advisory committees for suggestions, and the designs selected have to be approved by the mint and the treasury secretary. Then the design is sent to the Mint.s sculptor-engravers to be made into a coin.

Masters. simple log cabin design went through all those steps before he got the call in May of this year confirming that his design would grace millions of pennies that will circulate throughout the U.S.

Masters. designs will be released into circulation Feb. 12, 2009. Masters said he plans to continue designing for the Mint .as long as I.m invited back..

While his art is carried in pockets and purses across America, he.ll be on campus teaching class and in his office, working on the next coin design. To read the complete article, see: Mastering the penny (


DAVID SKLOW - FINE NUMISMATIC BOOKS Sale #5 was a great success and I would like to thank every person that participated. Invoices are in the mail, packages are shipping! Just a highlight or two: lot 250 the First Mint Photograph realized $2337.00 in spirited bidding! Lot 133 the "101" Elder Sales brought $5511.00, lot 244 (surprise) the Youth's Companion realized $240.00 on a $25.00 est! Lot 819 Volume 5 of The Numismatist realized $825.00. Of note is all these mentioned were reduced bids! Check my web site for the complete PRL. Sale #6 is set for February 2009. We are accepting consignments for all future sales. PH: (719) 302-5686, FAX: (719) 302-4933. Visit our web site


Dick Johnson submitted this item about a group of English students protesting by placing stickers on circulating one pound coins. -Editor
Students in Worcestershire England have pasted nine thousand one pound coins with stickers protesting the cost of college tuition. The 9,000 figure is significant, a recent news item states, as this is the cost of a four-year degree. They placed the coins in circulation all over the UK.

There are no tuition fees in Scotland. Students in Northern England want the same. Youth Parliament is the student group advocating the change.

To read the complete article, see: Coin stickers will aid students' fight (


A recent Featured Web Site was about the Lewes Pound. An article published Wednesday reports that due to popular demand for the notes, 10,000 more examples of the alternate currency from Lewes, England have been produced. -Editor
A town has printed 10,000 more notes of its own currency after demand outstripped supply.

From last month, shoppers in Lewes have been able to exchange sterling for the special Lewes pound notes to spend in the town.

More than 100 traders have agreed to accept the Lewes pound, including the town.s branch of Barclays.

The currency.s promoters hope it will help businesses in Lewes by encouraging people to shop locally.

But within days, collectors began selling the notes on the internet and bids for one Lewes Pound on auction site eBay reached almost #30.

Now more than 10,000 extra notes have been printed.

Lewes Mayor Michael Chartier, who launched the notes last month, urged people to spend rather than keep the currency.

He said: .Two shops in Lewes have closed in the past fortnight and that is something we don.t want to see.

.It is difficult to say whether the Lewes pound can help support the local economy in these difficult times but it certainly cannot do any harm.

.Hopefully now the initial fervour has calmed down we won.t see people selling them online. I appreciate people may want to keep a note but I urge them to get spending..

But collector Steve Hughes, owner of the Brighton Coin Company, said: .The supply of the note is limited so if it does catch on as a unique collector.s item it will be a scarce item..

I found some photos of the Lewes Pound ceremonies online. -Editor

Lewes Pound Launch

Lewes Pound team

To read the complete article, see: Big boost for Lewes Pound (


One of my favorite authors, historian John Steele Gordon penned an article in Friday's Wall Street Journal titled A Short Banking History of the United States - Why our system is prone to panics. It's a great overview of how we got to where we are today, and provides not only a view of private banknotes but a lesson in what's wrong with today's system and how it might best be fixed. -Editor
We are now in the midst of a major financial panic. This is not a unique occurrence in American history. Indeed, we've had one roughly every 20 years: in 1819, 1836, 1857, 1873, 1893, 1907, 1929, 1987 and now 2008. Many of these marked the beginning of an extended period of economic depression.

How could the richest and most productive economy the world has ever known have a financial system so prone to periodic and catastrophic break down? One answer is the baleful influence of Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson, to be sure, was a genius and fully deserves his place on Mt. Rushmore. But he was also a quintessential intellectual who was often insulated from the real world. He hated commerce, he hated speculators, he hated the grubby business of getting and spending (except his own spending, of course, which eventually bankrupted him). Most of all, he hated banks, the symbol for him of concentrated economic power. Because he was the founder of an enduring political movement, his influence has been strongly felt to the present day.

Jefferson's chief political rival, Alexander Hamilton, had grown up almost literally in a counting house, in the West Indian island of St. Croix, managing the place by the time he was in his middle teens. He had a profound and practical understanding of markets and how they work, an understanding that Jefferson, born a landed aristocrat who lived off the labor of slaves, utterly lacked.

Hamilton wanted to establish a central bank modeled on the Bank of England. The government would own 20% of the stock, have two seats on the board, and the right to inspect the books at any time. But, like the Bank of England then, it would otherwise be owned by its stockholders.

To Jefferson, who may not have understood the concept of central banking, Hamilton's idea was what today might be called "a giveaway to the rich."

Jackson Destroying Bank of US

While it will be painful, the present crisis will at least provide another opportunity to give this country, finally, a unified banking system of large, diversified, well-capitalized banking institutions that are under the control of a unified and coherent regulatory system free of undue political influence.

To read the complete article, see: A Short Banking History of the United States (


Howard A. Daniel III submitted the following based on a Dow Jones article of October 3, 2008. -Editor
The State Bank of Viet Nam introduced "polymer" bank notes in 2003 to replace the "paper" bank notes because of their lower overall cost and the anti-counterfeiting devices in them. And the "paper" would circulate and be withdrawn after they are worn or damaged so much to be no longer useful.

But an operation headed by a Chinese woman, who was arrested in June 2007 and sentenced on October 2, 2008, had pushed so many counterfeit "paper" 50,000 and 100,000 Dong bank notes in circulation, the State Bank of Viet Nam had to finally demonetize all of them as of August 31, 2007. This was a complete shock to the people of Viet Nam but they were given a chance to change their authentic "paper" into "polymer" bank notes. This conversion process gave much prestige to the Vietnamese government.

Counterfeit Vietnamese Dong

The top bank note illustrated is authentic, and the bottom is counterfeit and counterstamped by the State Bank of Viet Nam in Hanoi. All "paper" counterfeits shown to date in the numismatic and financial industry news outlets are not counterstamped so it is shown here for the record. Tien (Money) Gia (Fake) is in the counterstamp.

The counterfeit "paper" was expertly done at a large printing operation in Southeast China, which also now prints excellent "polymer" bank notes of Viet Nam, and of several other countries of East Asia. The Vietnamese had one or more of their agents get themselves into the printing operation to prove its existence, and then with the proof asked the Chinese to stop printing their money. The Chinese refused.

So the Vietnamese have kept one or more agents in place in China and 95+% of the suitcases and other containers bringing in counterfeit Vietnamese banknotes are caught as they crossing the northern border. Each catch involves tens of millions of dong! But the arrested Chinese lady had an operation in Tien Giang province in the Mekong Delta that somehow smuggled billions of dong into Southern Viet Nam.

When the people are caught before circulating the counterfeits, they are usually given long prison sentences, and sometimes life sentences. Those are very harsh sentences because prison in Viet Nam is not anything like in Western countries and is a VERY unpleasant time. But when they are caught circulating the counterfeits, they usually face execution by firing squad. All heroin smugglers and dealers having a certain quantity in their possession will also face a firing squad. I strongly believe this is an excellent way to rid communities of drug dealers!

The Chinese woman, Guo Jin Hua, might be the first Chinese national sentenced in modern Vietnamese history to execution by firing squad. They also publicly identified the source of the counterfeits as China. This is a very significant event and could cause some problems in relations with Beijing but the Chinese have caused major economic problems for the Vietnamese so this might be the Vietnamese way of paying them back.

To read the complete article, see: Chinese counterfeit dong trafficker sentenced to death (


Here's another story most of us wouldn't expect to find reported in the 21st century. It comes from India, and involves a woman accused of witchcraft being forced to pluck a silver coin from boiling oil. -Editor
A 32-year-old tribal woman was severely beaten up and forced to pick a silver coin from a vessel filled with boiling oil after a village panchayat in Sirohi district accused her of practising witchcraft. The woman, who was later thrown out of her house by own family, is now undergoing treatment in a hospital for serious injuries.

The incident took place on Sunday but police was informed about it only on Wednesday, after which five of the 23 accused have been arrested.

According to police, two members of a Gharasiya (ST) family in Khara village of Sirohi had died in the past one month. The family accused Gujriya (32), a resident of same village, for the deaths. The matter was brought before the village panchayat, which directed the woman to undergo a 'pareeksha' (test).

A group of villagers, including the panchayat members (Patels), then took the woman to a deserted location and forced her to pick a silver coin from a vessel containing boiling oil. The woman suffered severe burns on both her hands and she fell unconscious.

A villager, speaking about the practice prevalent in some areas, said: "Women, whosoever, labelled as a 'witch' by the villagers has to pick a silver coin from a tank filled with boiling oil, with both her hands. If her hands are burnt, her witchhood is confirmed, otherwise she is declared innocent." Once 'proved' a witch, she is forced to free the 'victim family' from her 'curse' and leave the village forever, he said.

To read the complete article, see: Branded witch, tribal woman forced to dip hands in hot oil (


Where do old banknotes go to die? In Turkey, they go to the cement factory. -Editor
Turkey notes used in cement The Central Bank of Turkey will get rid of YTL banknotes, which will gradually disappear from circulation as new TL notes are introduced into the market at the beginning of next year, by delivering them to cement factories for fuel...

The bank used the same method to get rid of notes that were used prior to the launch of the YTL in 2005. According to the central bank's daily banknote emission volume records, cash in circulation carries a total value of YTL 29.4 billion and is estimated to weigh roughly 500 tons.

The bank has limited options to dispose of the old currency. Burying these notes is an option, but is not preferred because it is considered extremely hazardous to the environment. Using the notes as additives in asphalt was another idea, but municipalities were not interested, pointing out that this would only increase costs while not contributing to the quality of the asphalt. Giving old money to cement factories is, on the other hand, a much more feasible and less costly option to pursue and also benefits the manufacturing plants as well.

To read the complete article, see: Old banknotes to fuel manufacturing plants (


This week's featured web page is suggested by John and Nancy Wilson, who write:
While looking for autographs we found this great page that lists all the U. S. Mint Directors from 1773 to present - great for collectors, researchers and historians of the U. S. Mint.

From the web page:
Credit for the success of the Mint belongs in great part to David Rittenhouse. In Philadelphia today, his name graces the city.s most fashionable address . Rittenhouse Square, about a mile west of the Historic District. Like Benjamin Franklin and John Bartram, he was one of those extraordinary men of early Philadelphia with diverse interests who made manifold contributions: he was a clockmaker, philosopher, surveyor, mathematician, politician and astronomer;

He determined the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland long before Mason and Dixon; many credit him with having built the first telescope made in the United States; he constructed an orrery, a device familiar mostly to astronomers and crossword solvers . it.s a clocklike mechanism that describes the position of the planets as they orbit the sun; and, he was director of the Mint for its crucial first three years.

David Rittenhouse

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