The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Wayne Homren

No new subscribers this week. We have 1,430 email subscribers, plus 148 followers on Facebook, including Samsul Hadi and Demény Dániel György.

On Friday several of our email subscribers reported that they received a copy of the June 5th issue of The E-Sylum. I was just as mystified, as I hadn't published anything since the previous Sunday's issue. I checked with Binhost support, and they confirmed it was their error:

We released a bunch of "caught" messages that were stuck in the system in an effort to free two erroneously-caught emails. Normally this "trap" only catches spam and postings that have bad content. We had no idea that you had a newsletter stuck in there, and we apologize for the extra copy going out when you didn't expect it.

Sorry for the confusion!

This week we open with a note from David Sklow, word of two new numismatic book editions, and the story of a chance encounter with a numismatic author. Other topics include an Ute Indian Lifesaving medal, holed coins, Chinese practice notes, the new September 11 medal, and a 1797 book once believed to be the first printed use of the dollar sign ($).

To learn more about where Aristotle was wrong, witchcraft and money multiplication, "currency erotica", Kung Fu Money and the New York State Numismatic Agency, read on. Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


David Sklow forwarded this list of highlights of his next sale of numismatic literature - note the date change (now October 15th). -Editor

Sklow logo

  • The Paper Money works from the Library of Myron Xenos
  • Long run of the works of John Muscalus
  • Early Convention Programs of the American Numismatic Association
  • A very nice [high quality] run of History of the U. S. Mint by Evans
  • Early Red Books by Yeoman Run of early 20th Century auction catalogs
  • Long run of New Netherlands Sales
  • Letters from Ten Different U. S. Senators [signed on official letterheads] concerning the 1965 Silver Coinage Act.
  • A plated Chapman of the Boerum Sale
  • Original 1865 Articles of Incorporation of the American Numismatic and Archaeological Society [ANS]
  • Epochs in American Banking numbers 1-14 by Noble Foster Hoggson, 1927-28
  • A few Medallic ANA pieces from M. Remy Bourne
  • The Art of Coin Making by Cooper
  • The Philadelphia Mint by James Rankin Young, 1903
  • Super Deluxe Bowers and Merena Edition of the Norweb Sales, # 2 Raymond Merena's Copy
  • Super Deluxe Bowers and Merena Edition of the Garrett Sales, # 2 Raymond Merena's Copy
  • Part VI of the Q. David Bowers Research and Source Library with several hundred lots on Numismatics
  • A large run of Bank Histories, over 50 different banks!
  • A long run of the Niles' Weekly from 1811 on
  • The Bancroft Histories of the American West
  • The Standard Reference Library of Marlin Kravitz
  • The Private Gold reference catalogs from Donald & Art Kagin
  • Early Coin Boards and Folders from a serious collector
  • Much, Much, More!


Krause Publications has announced the newest edition of their Standard Catalog of World Coins 2001-Date. -Editor

SCWC 2001-Date 2011 Edition The sixth edition of the Standard Catalog of World Coins 2001-Date is now available from Krause Publications.

Insightful data for each featured coin, collected and reviewed by a panel of more than 200 respected coin experts worldwide, fill the pages of this latest edition. Nearly 150 pages of new entries, featuring more than 2,000 new types and issues, ensure that collectors will have the largest source of information available on coins from all across the world.

Recent increases in the price of precious metals worldwide have drastically affected coin prices.

"Almost every coin struck with silver or gold content experienced significant change in value for this year's new sixth edition of the Standard Catalog of World Coins 2001-Date," said numismatic market analyst Tom Michael, who was assisted on the book by editor George Cuhaj.

This latest edition will present collectors with the most up-to-date information on coin prices, allowing for well-informed decisions to enhance any modern-issue collection.

New mint issues from across the world, including the ever-growing array of bullion coins, are present. Complete with key coin specifications, the Standard Catalog also provides background about each country's monetary history and an incredible 10,000 actual-size coin illustrations. Both new entries and past updates are presented in the familiar, authoritative Standard Catalog style. The reference work includes coverage of collector coins, sets, trial strikes, pieforts and patterns.

The 2012 Standard Catalog of World Coins 2001-Date is available at bookstores, and online at


Dick Hanscom forwarded this announcement of a new edition of his book on striking gold tokens. -Editor

Striking Gold in Alaska 3rd Ed Alaska Rare Coins is pleased to announce the publication of the 3rd edition of Dick Hanscom's book "Striking Gold in Alaska, Making Tokens From Placer Gold."

This 91 page paper bound book (8Ľ by 5 3/8 inches) is fully illustrated in black and white with color covers. It follows the process from purchasing placer gold, preparing the gold for striking, engraving the dies and striking. Formulas are given for fluxes, specific gravity and determining the size of the tokens. Sources of supplies and equipment are listed.

Information is included for the drop hammer and screw press. Also included are sections on A Little Physics, X-Ray Fluorescence and current mintages. There is also additional information on striking silver.

The price is $14 postpaid from Alaska Rare Coins, P.O. Box 72832, Fairbanks, AK 99707.

Dick adds:

This edition is rearranged into what I believe is a more appropriate order than the 2nd edition. Items that have been rearranged can be found in "Further Adventures in Minting." Silver is a cheap (until recently!) substitute for gold. I have been playing with silver since 2007. More information on minting silver is included in this edition. While formulas for specific gravity were included in previous editions, how to do a specific gravity test was not. It is now included, along with instructions on how to turn your digital scale into a specific gravity scale.

The regular price is $14 postpaid. For purchasers of a previous edition, your price is $10 postpaid.

BTW, I purchased some gold from Slate Creek in the Rampart district yesterday (the same miner as the placer silver). I made the die, melted the gold, made the blanks and struck the tokens all in 4 hours! A record for me. He is supposed to bring in more placer silver this week. Then the fun really begins!

To read an earlier E-Sylum review, see: NEW BOOK: STRIKING GOLD IN ALASKA BY DICK HANSCOM (


AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS: Are your books carried by Wizard Coin Supply? If not, contact us via with details.


Len Augsburger forwarded the following item written by Bob Hammond, which appeared this week in an email newsletter of the John Reich Collector's Society (JRCS). I added an image of the book from my library. -Editor

Bob Hammond wrote:

Early United States Dimes 1796-1837 My Bride and I attended a local antique show in down-town Oley, Pa. this afternoon. We were a bit late in arriving there, so we had to rush around the show in order to redeem our full eight dollars worth of admission fare, $16.00 for the two of us.

We were nearing the last booths of dealers when I stopped to view some old books.

The dealer asked how he may help me, and I replied that I already have such books as he has on display. He then showed me a book that I do not have in my library: an original Thomas Jefferson book on Weights and Measures for $15K! Apparently one of 10 or so in existence!

I guffawed and indicated that I expended all I had at yesterday's coin show.

He inquired as to what I collect? Early Half-Dimes, Dimes and Quarters and some Half-Dollars was my reply.

He says, "I am a co-author of a Dime book."

"You and Ahwash?" inquires I.

"No" says he.

"Davis, et al?" queries I

"Yes. Five of us. I am Bill Subjack."

My jaw drops to the ground in absolute disbelief! I never met the man, and assumed he is gone from this earthly presence!

We chatted about the early preparations of the book, the meetings, and the coins. The time spent was exhilarating for me.

I've known Dave Davis and John McCloskey, and exchanged letters with Russ Logan. I have Allen Lovejoy's splendid Dime catalog. As for Bill Subjack...Well, he was totally unknown to me.

I did purchase a letter from him dated 1835, and received his 'autograph' as signature of payment, as well as his address for future exchanges.

It was good to get out of the house and away from work to meet up with like-minded hobbyists.


In recent issues we discussed a medal belonging to an Ute Indian Chief. Alan V. Weinberg forwarded these images of another medal relating to Ute Indians. His commentary is below. Wow! What a great item. -Editor

Ute Indian Medal.Obverse Ute Indian Medal.Reverse

The images are of a ground -down 1866 Fenian Raid Canadian silver military award masterfully re-engraved by hand and awarded to a mixed-blood Indian Scout by Act of Congress in 1883 for saving the lives of two captives of the Ute Indians who ruled the plains of Colorado and Utah. Apparently, as I understand it, officially struck US lifesaving award medals were not awarded, even by Congress, to mixed blood Indian scouts, only to pure Caucasian scouts. It is 18 gr and 36 mm diameter rim to rim, exclusive of the swivel hanger.

There is at least one other Congressionally-awarded "unofficial" lifesaving medal awarded to another Indian scout for rescuing "two white children" from Ute Indians. The Ute Indians apparently specialized in capturing and retaining alive , possibly for barter, white captives. I pursued this medal for 20 years, finally acquiring it a few months ago at a small local Southern California historical bottle show- and not for a nominal sum either ! These images were taken at the recent Whitman Baltimore show by master coin photographer Tom Mulvaney.

Wow! What a great item. I've never seen anything like it before. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: MORE ON THE ANS' UTE CHIEF'S LIFE-SAVING LINCOLN PEACE MEDAL (


Last week we discussed an article from the Baltimore Sun mentioning a holed silver Spanish coin found in an archeological dig in Annapolis, MD. The purported reason for the hole is that it was worn to provide supernatural protection, and I asked if anyone could provide more information on the topic. -Editor

Gene Brandenburg writes:

Elvira Clain Stefanelli of the Smithsonian gave me a tour of their "holy of holies" one day and mentioned a forthcoming display she was planning - of "slave marriage coins" . Evidently small denomination silver coins (half dimes, dime or 1/2, 1 real coins) were holed and worn around the neck or on a wrist as an indication that the slave was married. I recall that when the Virginia side of the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge was being excavated, a 17th - 18th century slave burial ground was found near the river and a number of holed small silver coins were found. I believe that the burial ground was moved nearby,

Current head of the National Numismatic Collection Dick Doty writes:

We have some minor Spanish-American coins with holes, but I know of nothing Stefanelli was going to or ever did on the subject. It might have been before I came on board.

I asked Tom Kays, who studies coin finds. He writes:

Based on my study of old coins excavated in Virginia, on average about eight per cent of the older coins have holes. Almost all are holed near the rim. Coins holed at center are unusual to dig. I understand coins used in West African rituals to be holed at the center and buried at the corner of structures. The tradition served to help spirits who could recognize objects they possessed in life, to find their way back to visit their living relatives when taken away from familiar surroundings. Coins holed at the center also approximate the design of Chinese "cash." Later date coppers holed at center probably favor Chinese origins.

Holed coin-1

The holes in this enigmatic pair of dug large cents, "Braided Hair" obverse on left and the earlier style "Matron Head" reverse on right might have very different origins.

Certain coins do carry special significance. Love tokens were popular in England, circa 1770, and in America, circa 1880. Coins holed at the rims would be secure to carry looped on a wire or thread. Tiny coins especially were easy to lose. If worn as adornments small silver might be carefully holed at the rim allowing them to dangle and jingle. It would be nice to think such coins served the function of wedding bands, but we must find contemporary references to "jumping the broom" that mention pierced coins to know for sure. The excavated coin mentioned in the article, but not pictured, may have been a Spanish silver half real of 1789. A "crude" piercing would tend to have been done for commercial purposes.

Holed coin-2 Holed coin-3

Similar to the reported find, these holed, half real coins of Mexico, dated 1788 and 1785, are pictured side-by-side. These coins were pierced from the reverse, long ago with excess metal on the downward side worn smooth. Always look for this wear on one side of the hole's rim to help validate the age of the piercing. Modern twist drills don't produce similar results.

Another pair of well worn, one real coins of Mexico dated 1735 and 1740 with similar piercings. When describing piercings, consider a clock face oriented on the obverse such that the 1735 coin is holed at "4:00 o'clock" from the reverse while the 1740 is pierced at "12:00 o'clock" from the obverse.

Holed coin-4

One last pair of pierced, two bit coins are pictured. On left is an 1842 Republic of Mexico, Cap and Ray, two reales of San Luis Potosi, pierced at 2:00 o'clock and on right a 1795 Lima, Peru two reales with reverse slightly off-center, pierced at 12:00 o'clock.

Holed-coin-5 Holed coin-6

Thanks for the info, everyone! -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: ANNAPOLIS COIN FIND: SUPERNATURAL PROTECTION? (


Last week Dave Lanara asked about the Journal Examiner transcontinental Yellow Fellow medal. The medal pictured a bicycle race. -Editor

Alan Weinberg writes:

I've not seen the silver Trans-Continental Relay Race Yellow Fellow medal before but based on the design and similar bicycle race medals of the period, it is likely approximately half dollar to silver dollar size in diameter. The term "Yellow Fellow" for this 1896 medal is undoubtedly related to the exceedingly popular 1896 Sunday newspaper cartoon adventures of the Yellow Kid, a Chinese caricature of an Oriental boy in a yellow tunic. Bicycle relay race medals and badges of all sorts were very popular in the 1880-90's period.

Yellow Fellow medal obverse Kay Olson Freeman writes:

Yellow Fellow was a bicycle - not person. Manufactured by E.C. Stearns, Syracuse, NY. The auction link below shows the 1896 relay race medal with top bar and ribbon. It says the medal is silvered over white metal - not sterling silver. Made by Wallace Co. Wallingford, CT, which did manufacture sterling and plated silver flatware etc.

Alan Weinberg adds:

The bicycle was probably named after the popular comic strip.

Below is an excerpt from the lot description at Hake's Americana & Collectibles. The medal sold for $479.47 (including 15% buyer's premium). -Editor

Yellow Fellow medal with ribbon 2-7/8" tall silvered white metal by The Wallace Co. Ornate top bar reads "Examiner Journal Yellow Fellow." Displays spread-winged eagle on bicycle crossbar. Medallion below reads "Yellow Fellow" and shows sunburst with bicycle rider passing a baton to second rider. Reverse rim reads "Journal Examiner Trans-Continental Relay Rider." Center with hand-engraved name reads "Presented To L. Enderuck Trans-Continental Relay Rider By The Journal New York/The Examiner San Francisco 1896." Our research shows only 220 riders who rode 15 mile sectors averaging 11mph between S.F. and NYC in 13 days. First seen. Rare & NM.

To view the complete auction lot description, see:



Last week I published images of a "Practice Note" said to be used in China to train bank tellers and shopkeepers in handling U.S. paper money. Here are some reader comments. -Editor

50 Dollar Chinese training Note face

Bruce W. Smith writes:

Regarding the US $50 bill practice note. I have not seen this before. It may be just a flea market item, but many different kinds of practice notes are used in China. I have perhaps 20 different kinds in my collection, but they are all in Chinese, naming various Chinese banks, or no bank at all. It is possible a set of imitations of US notes are being used to train tellers who will handle U.S. currency. I hope they are aware that both old and new types of note are in circulation. The imitation note is very close to the real thing, but it lacks serial numbers.

By the way, also yesterday I received an email from a guy in Indonesia who wants to sell his U.S. $100,000 bill. He sent and image of both sides, and it does look like the genuine note, though the image is too poor to make any judgement. However, the note is heavily worn. These notes were only used to make transfers between Federal Reserve Banks, and as far as I know, all of them are accounted for. There should never have been any in circulation or private hands, and they certainly would not be heavily worn.

Joe Boling writes:

This is the first time I have seen a Chinese teller training note with a proper back. Most have the back covered by the name "Bank of China" repeating in a dense lattice in English and Chinese. Even when single faced, being life-sized, they are illegal, and double faced they are illegal regardless of size.

Loren Gatch writes:

I showed that image of a Chinese "practice note" to one of my Chinese students. She translates the characters thus:

Training Money
Only for Practice – Circulation Forbidden

Apparently (as my student tells me) the characters for "Training" are also those for "Kung Fu", so perhaps "Kung Fu Money" is another plausible rendering.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: QUERY: $50 CHINESE "PRACTICE NOTE" (


Byron Weston forwarded this query, which should be a snap for a reader with a good run of Whitman's A Guide Book of United States Coins. Who can help? I'm sorry to admit that my Redbooks were a casualty of a shelf-space purge several years ago. -Editor

1787CT M1.1-A

I've been doing some research on some coins I'll have on consignment and thought perhaps you or some of your fellow bibliophiles could help out - see the attached coin. I know this coin appeared as lot 860 in the April 10-12, 1986 Levine, Leidman, & Dreyfuss auctions by Bower's & Merena where it is described as being the Red Book plate coin in 1978.

However, I now know that it was the Red Book plate coin from at least 1964 - that's a 14 year stretch. I have not been able to locate a copy of the Red Book before 1964 to see if this coin's run in the Red Book actually ran longer than that. Any help or insights you or your fellow bibliophiles may be able to provide would be greatly appreciated.


An E-Sylum reader forwarded this item with a video released by the Bank of Canada unveiling designs for the country's new polymer banknotes. -Editor

Canada's Polymer Banknotes

The Bank of Canada is rolling out new, plastic-based $100 bills, which will hit the country's wallets by November. In this frankly mesmerizing video, above, a narrator explains the bill's numerous security features, including a hidden circle of numbers that match the note's value. It can only be seen by holding up the "frosted maple leaf window" to a "single-point light source."

Gawker called it "currency erotica," joking that the "$100 bill bends seductively" in the video as the narrator's voice intones in the background.

But potential counterfeiters are presumably not laughing. The Globe and Mail says the bills "will be nearly impossible to fake." Between 2001 and 2004 a "rash of fraud" increased the number of counterfeit bills in Canada to 470 per million, causing some retailers to say they would not accept $100 bills. Half of all transactions in the country are still in cash, according the paper.

The Bank will be unveiling $50 and $20 polymer notes next year.

"The new bills will last at least two and a half times longer than cotton-based banknote paper, and after being removed from circulation, for the first time in Canada, they will be recycled into other products," the Bank's Governor mark Carney said, according to the Digital Journal. "Safer, cheaper, greener: these new banknotes are a 21st Century achievement in which all Canadians can take pride, and in which all Canadians can place their confidence."

To read the complete article, see: Canada unveils mesmerizing "polymer" money (

Just last week we quoted an article about Andrea Firth, the "Scientist of the Bank of Canada" who undoubtedly had a hand in designing some of the anticounterfeiting measures employed on the new notes. But "nearly impossible to fake"? Time will tell, but anything man can make can be made by others as well. Counterfeiting is said to be the second-oldest profession, and I'm sure that the minute the new notes hit the street some people will get to work making counterfeits. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: THE SCIENTIST OF THE BANK OF CANADA


The new official U.S. Mint medal commemorating the September 11, 2001 terror attacks has gone on sale. Some of the proceeds will be used to help fund the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum near the former World Trade Center site in New York. Kudos to the U.S. Mint's Donna Weaver and Phebe Hemphill. for an inspired obverse design. The flame of Lady Liberty's "Lamp of Remembrance" recalls the flames seen from the World Trade Center towers that fateful morning. This effect is more obvious in the image of the struck medal than the original artwork unveiled earlier. -Editor

September-11-Memorial_Obverse-Line-Art_download September 11 Memorial Medal

The only official medal commemorating the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks went on sale Monday. The medal's final design was unveiled by U.S. Treasurer Rosa Rios during a press conference at the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site near the World Trade Center site in New York.

"The medal we present to the American public today has been created by the United States Mint to commemorate September 11th, 2001," Ms. Rios said, "a day that changed our nation and our world forever."

The medal costs $56.95. Ten dollars from the sale of each one will go directly to the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum. If all two million medals sell out, that will generate $20 million dollars to help pay for the memorial and museum's day to day operations.

"Maintaining this place costs money. The landscaping, the maintenance, the security, the visitor's services," National 9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels lists some of the things the medal will help fund. "Everything you think in a large institution that's going to have 5 million visitors, it costs something to run it." The Memorial is set to open to the public on September 12th, 2011. The Museum is expected to open sometime in 2012.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., wants to make sure people who want keepsake coins are spending their money in the right place.

"If you waste your money on some bogus thing," Nadler says, "it goes to some fly-by-night operator, it doesn't go to the museum."

Earlier this year, Rep. Nadler and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., urged the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on "The National Collector's Mint," a company which sells commemorative coins with a television commercial that claims the coins are made with silver "actually recovered from beneath the ashes of Ground Zero."

"The FTC did investigate," says Nadler. "They issued a very strong warning as to what they had better not do or risk prosecution and we'll see what happens now."

In a statement, The National Collector's Mint stands by its claims.

While I don't like all the products of the National Collector's Mint, I have to agree with their statement that " there is a marketplace for both private and government-issued commemoratives." The firm has every right to make and sell the product, just as each of us has the right the decide for ourselves whether we wish to buy it. But the U.S. Mint was also right to criticize the firm's marketing practices, which danced in the grey area, implying but never quite exactly stating that the item they're selling is a legitimate U.S. Mint product.

I don't run out and buy most U.S. Mint products either, but this is one I wouldn't mind having. I visited the World Trade Center complex many times and watched helplessly with the rest of the world as the second plane hit its target, knowing instantly that the world had changed. At the time I was working on the 31st floor of another office tower in Pittsburgh. I learned later that another hijacked plane was in the air near Pittsburgh - this was the one destined for Washington D.C. The passengers of that flight knew they were goners, but they fought back and forced the plane to crash near Shanksville, PA.

Like the troops at Pearl Harbor who dropped whatever they were doing that Sunday morning to fight the surprise attack, they became instant heroes. Only these weren't soldiers or sailors - they were ordinary people going about their ordinary business on an ordinary day, just like the people caught in the attacks in New York and at the Pentagon. But they weren't entirely helpless, and their response was extraordinary. With no weapons but their fists and whatever objects they could find, they struck back, and what they started that day was finished nearly a decade later by the professionals of Navy Seal Team 6.

But the fight goes on, and the world is still a changed place. That's what history does - changes things, sometimes forever. My kids will never know a world without airport metal detectors and baggage checks, public buildings without a perimeter of concrete barriers, or where cars can drive freely down Pennsylvania Avenue in front of The White House.

History turns observers into old people who remember the Good Old Days. I remember touring D.C. and walking up the steps of the U.S. Capitol building and entering the Rotunda - no checkpoints, no guards, no metal detectors, no nothing - just freedom. Now all I can do is tell my children stories about how life was different back then. Not that they'll listen for long. -Editor

Joe Boling adds:

Maybe the Mint will bring the 9/11 medals to Chicago. I was most disappointed that they did not bring the Medal of Honor coins to Sacramento - ordering had opened, but they claimed that the ship date had not yet arrived - they did not even bring "not for sale" examples. Another bullet through the foot.

To read the complete article, see: Rise of Freedom: The Mint Makes Change at Ground Zero (

To read the earlier E-Sylum item, see: U.S. MINT PRODUCES MEDALS FOR 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF SEPTEMBER 11 (


The June 2011 Enews from the American Numismatic Society mentioned the upcoming Medallic Sculpture Symposium at Brookgreen Gardens, the heaven-on-earth for fans of sculpture. Here's an excerpt from the announcement. Follow the link for schedule details. -Editor

Brookgreen Gardens statue Brookgreen Gardens, the American Medallic Sculpture Association and the National Sculpture Society invite you to an idyllic symposium setting. Join us for the first Art Medal Symposium ever assembled in the Brookgreen Gardens, to be experienced in this sculpturally splendid location.

This is a unique opportunity for artists and aficionados of the medal to meet and share information and technical knowledge of the art of the medal, through lectures, exhibits and demonstrations. An event not to be missed.

Presenters include Mark Benvenuto, Eugene Daub, Jim Licaretz, Mashiko, Donald Scarinci, Tony Ullman of Medalcraft Mint, and Heidi Wastweet.

Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
Shipping: 1931 Brookgreen Drive, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576
Mailing: PO Box 3368, Pawleys Island, SC 29585
(843) 235-6012



Ursula Kampmann writes in CoinsWeekly this week about a long-ago mistake in interpreting a coin inscription, a mistake still carried on in the present day. -Editor

Tarentum Stater

Aristotle, in his work on the structure of the Tarentine government, likewise described the coins of the city. He remarked that they depicted Taras, son of Poseidon, riding a dolphin.

As a matter of fact, on the South Italian coins we do find a young man who rides a dolphin and holds an object in his hand on most specimens. On this coin he holds a kantharos and a rudder, but there can be found spindles, jugs, wreaths, small dolphins and countless other things as well. To the figure's right the inscription TARAS is discernible, hence the nominative of the city of Tarentum which is quite unusual for a Greek coin. Ordinarily, the coins are designated with the genitive plural, therefore not Syracuse but (coin of the) Syracusans – to mention only one of countless examples. Aristotle concluded that the term Taras didn't denote the minting authority but the one represented, i.e. the name-giver of the city of Taras.

Unfortunately, Classical tradition doesn't know of a Taras riding a dolphin. It connected that wandering legend, which often appears as part in other local myths as well, with Phalanthos whom the Tarentines revered as their founder. The founding legend of the city of Tarentum had it that long ago the sons of Spartan women and Helotes, a kind of slaves in service of the state in Sparta, rebelled against the governing Spartiates. Their leader was Phalanthos. The rebellion failed, the rebels were forced to exile and established, led by that very Phalanthos, a new city, Tarentum, conveniently situated near a natural harbor.

It is safe to assume that the dolphin rider is Phalanthos for all contemporary legends refer to him as the one riding a dolphin. Aristotle simply misinterpreted the inscription on the coin. He didn't know that some Sicilian and South Italian cities didn't use the genitive plural on their coins – as was common in the mainland –, but the nominative singular. By the way, that was a mistake with consequences up to the present day. Many auction catalogs speak of Taras in their description of the dolphin rider.

To read the complete article, see: And this is where Aristotle was wrong… (


Aaron J. McKeon takes you on a guided tour of the national parks, forests, and other landmarks honored in the U.S. Mint's latest quarter-dollar program. The wonderfully illustrated handbook, America's Beautiful National Parks, is also an introduction to collecting the new coins. Foreword by Kenneth Bressett. Hardcover, full color, $19.95. Order at , or call 1-800-546-2995.


On The San Francisco Mint Gold Ledgers
Historical and Numismatic Researchers/Authors Richard Kelly & Nancy Oliver write:

"This is in response to the recently advertised sale of Old San Francisco Mint Ledgers. As the historians of both the 1st and 2nd San Francisco Mints, we feel that material of this type, as well as being Government issue, should remain in the National Archives, and not lost to the public domain."

Mint Gold Bullion ledger books

Spine I was quite surprised myself to see examples of these ledgers for sale on the open market. I would think it would be easy for the government to claim that these records would not have been officially discarded from the U.S. Mint or National Archives. As Ron Lerch pointed out, "The government is currently operating with a right of replevin (reclaiming ownership) of any previously owned document, ledger, etc., regardless of the manner in which it was disposed."

Maybe Archives officials haven't taken notice yet. Or maybe they did authorize deaccession - is that why some of these ledgers are coming out now? Is anyone familiar with their source? -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see: SAN FRANCISCO MINT GOLD DELIVERY BOOK OFFERED (



The Midas Coins Bid Board
Loren Gatch writes:

Dave Lange's piece on Midas Coins reminded me of another one of my 1970s haunts. There was a Midas shop in northern Virginia (Annandale, I think) that was great fun for its evening auction once a week. Sellers would hang their items on little cards in rows across the wall, and buyers would crowd around, scribbling their competing bids. A progenitor to eBay for which having sharp elbows sometimes helped!

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: COINAGE COIN SHOP ADS CIRCA 1965 (

Dutch Coin Hologram Video
Dutch Coin Hologram P. K. Saha forwarded a copy of a video showing a hologram feature on a new Dutch coin. We can't located the URL of the video on the web, but I placed a copy in our Flickr archive. Check it out - as the coin is viewed from different angle, it displays a message in a series of letters. Neat!

If the video doesn't appear above, try this:


Tom Kays took some great images of a neat coin owned by Mike Packard. It has a counterstamp of what appears to be a native American in traditional dress. Below are the images and Tom's commentary. -Editor

1803 Half Cent with Indian counterstamp obverse 1803 Half Cent with Indian counterstamp reverse

Pictured above is an 1803 Half Cent stamped with Native American / Bow / Arrow peacefully pointed downward with vestiges of a belted shirt, similar in style to the Algonquian Native American pictured on Massachusetts coppers, minus the white star, and looking right instead of left. Mike Packard knows of several others with this stamp and wishes to poll E-Sylum readers as to the origin and significance of the stamp.

1803 Half Cent with Indian counterstamp closeup Here's a close up – Has anyone seen this fellow before?

Note: In 1780 Paul Revere engraved the Seal of Massachusetts according to these instructions:

An Indian dressed in his shirt, moggosins, belted proper -- in his right hand a bow -- in his left, an arrow, its point toward the base . . . on the dexter side of Indian's head, a star for one of the United States of America -- on the wreath a dexter arm clothed and ruffled proper, grasping a broad sword, the pommel and hilt with this motto: "Ense petit placidam sub Libertate quietem." And around the seal: "Sigillum republicae Massachusetts."


Tom Fort and Arthur Shippee forwarded this article from The New York Times about a satirical depiction of Confederate coinage from 1861. -Editor

Tom writes:

This is what 'real' Confederate coins should have looked like...

Harpers Weekly Confederate Coin Design

It was a wicked and ingenious little cartoon. At a moment when the rebel government was busily inventing its national emblems, flags, postage stamps and currency, Harper's Weekly — the most widely read magazine in the North — presented its own modest proposal: a mockup of a new coin for the Confederate States of America. The illustration, deceptively simple at first glance, is one of those pictures that becomes more complex and meaningful the more that you look. It even offers some prophecies that were to come true during the next four years of civil war.

The anonymous artist yields not an inch to the pretensions of the new Southern republic — or, as his coin's obverse inscription calls it, the "Centrifugal States of North America." Beneath this is a classical temple, already showing cracks in its façade, and with an owl (harbinger of death and disaster) perched atop its pediment, wearing a dunce cap. The bird holds a torn and tattered American flag in its claws, while streaming from its beak is a ribbon with the Latin motto "Ex Uno Plurima" — "Out of one, many." Flanking the temple on either side are weapons that Northerners considered typical of Southern ruffians: a revolver and a bowie knife.

But most significant of all are the twin foundations on which the temple of the Confederacy stands: a bale of cotton and a kneeling black slave.

On the reverse of the coin, a stereotypical Southern planter — stringy hair, wispy goatee, broad-brimmed hat — thumbs his nose and points his six-shooter at a stout Yankee banker who is trying to present him with a bill. (The motto above them drives the point home: "Owe Ever, Pay Never.") In the background, slaves toil beneath the gaze of a lash-wielding overseer. Even the coin's denomination — half a dollar — is freighted with irony.

The cartoon in Harper's suggests yet a further irony: the Confederate government would never actually succeed in issuing its own coinage. In early 1861, rebel agents commissioned a Philadelphia engraver named Robert Lovett to create for a one-cent piece. He had barely managed to create the dies and strike a dozen or so prototypes before war began. Lovett prudently broke his contract and stashed away the evidence.

A few prototypes of a Confederate half dollar were also struck that year at the New Orleans mint after its seizure by rebel forces. But production there and at the other two federal mints in the slave states — Charlotte, N.C., and Dahlonega, Ga. — soon ceased.

To read the complete article, see: The Color of Money (


E-Sylum reader Adrián González forwarded a link to an interesting item for sale on eBay.

Perusing old books at eBay I found the following old book. I know it isn't a numismatic book but it contains a 1795 eagle gold coin including other British coins.

1797 American Accomptant

As described in the seller's listing (IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS!!!!), the book is:


Other descriptions include:



The contemporary illustrations of circulating coins are important clues for numismatic researchers, but what most caught my eye was the claim that the book contains the first printed representation of the U.S. dollar sign ($). Is that true? The seller didn't list his source for the claim, but knowing that our friend Eric Newman researched the topic, I reached for a copy of his paper, which was published in the proceedings of the 1993 Coinage of the Americas conference at the American Numismatic Society in New York.

Newman does cite and illustrate the 1797 Lee book. Newman writes:

Lee's symbol for the dollar was called to the attention of the numismatic public in The Numismatist for September 1899 and was generally accepted as the first printed use of the conventional dollar sign until 1925 when Professor Florian Cajori challenged it.

An examination of Lee's , particularly his dollar symbol, shows that they were original with him and that he was not familiar with the existing conventional $ sign...

Granted he was the first to develop a symbol for the dollar in type form rather than spelling out "dollar" or employing an abbreviation, but it appears to be an isolated concept, unrelated to the prior handwritten $ sign.

Sorry, eBay seller - your description isn't accurate. Still, it's a neat item worth of inclusion in a numismatic library. Readers, check out Newman's monograph. It's meticulously researched and very well written, illustrated and annotated.

Joel Orosz adds:

I was fortunate several years ago to pick up a pristine copy of Chauncey Lee's "American Accomptant", which I have enjoyed very much. It looks like this one is a pretty nice copy as well. Definitely worth having in a bibliophile's library!

To view the complete eBay fixed-price listing, see: 1797 AMERICAN ACCOMPTANT FEDERAL MATH 1ST USE OF $ SIGN (


OCTOBER 15, 2011 - MAIL BID SALE NO. 14 PH: (719) 302-5686, FAX: (719) 302-4933. EMAIL: USPS: Box 6321, Colorado Springs, CO. 80934. Contact me for your numismatic literature needs!


The Heritage Auctions Coin News e-newsletter for June 25, 2011 highlighted a very interesting coin under the "Seldom Seen Selections" portion - a counterpunched 1814 half dollar pattern in platinum. -Editor

1814 Platina Pattern obverse 1814 Platina Pattern reverse

Our upcoming 2011 August Chicago Signature US Coin & Platinum Night Auction, to be held August 11-12, will feature the unique "Platina" or "P-Punched" Judd-44 1814 half dollar, struck in platinum. This coin was struck from the same dies as the O-107 variety, but in platinum with a lettered edge. After striking, 33 backward letters "P" were punched into the obverse, and the reverse has "Platina" engraved in script in the space under the scroll. Of the three 1814 half dollars in platinum reported by Judd, only this specimen has the punched letters and engraving, making it unique in that regard.

The holder describes this piece as the "Judd Plate Coin," and it was pictured in earlier editions of Judd (who also previously owned the coin), though more recent editions substitute images of the test-cut Smithsonian specimen. The existence of the third specimen is more speculative and sourced to a Walter Breen catalog write-up for a 1974 Pine Tree auction.

It is almost certain that the 1814 platinum half dollar, unlike most of the other Judd-listed patterns for the pre-steampower U.S. Mint era, was struck in the same year as its date. A summation of the evidence is that the die state and edge lettering are consistent with an 1814 origin, and that the die state is less advanced than what is seen on a number of silver O-107 1814 half dollars. A more complete listing of the die state evidence can be found in Bowers and Merena's Logan/Steinberg catalog from November 2002.

Beyond the die state evidence, the newness and relatively low value of platinum in 1814 would have made it a legitimate metallurgical test for the U.S. Mint at the time; the metal was not extremely valuable until the late 1800s, when it became established as precious. (When the United States made its first official platinum coinage in 1997, it consisted of the bullion series of platinum American Eagles.)

Great coin! Not for the high-condition collector, but a delight for numismatic researchers. -Editor

To read the complete article, see: 1814 E50C Half Dollar, Judd-44, Pollock-48 (


Here's the latest news on Google's drive to digitize the world's libraries. How many numismatic books will come online as a result? Only time will tell, but this is good news for researchers everywhere. -Editor

Britain Google Library A treatise on a stuffed hippopotamus, an 18th-century English primer for Danish sailors and a description of the first engine-driven submarine are among 250,000 books to be made available online in a deal between Google and the British Library.

The agreement, announced Monday, will let Internet users read, search, download and copy thousands of texts published between 1700 and 1870.

It is a small step toward the library's goal of making the bulk of its 14 million books and 1 million periodicals available in digital form by 2020.

"So far we have only been able to digitize quite a small fraction of the global collection," said the library's chief executive, Lynne Brindley. "There is a long way to go."

The deal marks another step in Google's effort to make digital copies of the world's estimated 130 million books. The company, based in Mountain View, Calif., touts the ambitious project as a way to enable anyone with an Internet connection to tap in a vast reservoir of knowledge. Google, though, stands to make more money if it can build the world's biggest digital library.

By stockpiling millions of books that can't be easily found elsewhere, Google gives people another reason to use its search engine, which already processes about two out of every three queries on the Web.

Last year, the British Library announced plans to digitize up to 40 million pages of newspapers dating back three-and-a-half centuries, and it recently made thousands of 19th-century books digitized in a deal with Microsoft available as an app for iPhone and iPad devices.

To read the complete article, see: British Library, Google in Deal to Digitize Books Published between 1700 and 1870 (

Elsewhere on the web Hugh Pickens writes:

"Books are on their way to extinction, writes Kevin Kelly, adding that we are in a special moment when paper books are plentiful and cheap that will not last beyond the end of this century. 'It seems hard to believe now, but within a few generations, seeing an actual paper book will be as rare for most people as seeing an actual lion.' But a prudent society keeps at least one specimen of all it makes, so Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive, has decided that we should keep a copy of every book that Google and Amazon scan so that somewhere in the world there was at least one physical copy to represent the millions of digital copies. That way, if anyone ever wondered if the digital book's text had become corrupted or altered, they could refer back to the physical book that was archived somewhere safe.

The books are being stored in cardboard boxes, stacked five high on a pallet wrapped in plastic, stored 40,000 strong in a shipping container, inside a metal warehouse on a dead-end industrial street near the railroad tracks in Richmond California. In this nondescript and 'nothing valuable here' building, Kahle hopes to house 10 million books — about the contents of a world-class university library.

'It still amazes me that after 20 years the only publicly available back up of the internet is the privately funded Internet Archive. The only broad archive of television and radio broadcasts is the same organization,' writes Kelly. 'They are now backing up the backups of books. Someday we'll realize the precocious wisdom of it all and Brewster Kahle will be seen as a hero.'"

To read the complete article with reader comments, see: The End of Paper Books (


Arthur Shippee forwarded a link to this article from The Chronicle of Higher Education about an author's experience with pirated electronic versions of his books. It looks at the issue from both sides, examining whether the existence of free copes helps or hurts. -Editor

When a collection of new essays I edited for an established university press finally came into print, four years ago, I assumed that my responsibilities for it had ended. As I recounted in an earlier column, I had navigated through numerous problems in preparing the book for the press, so imagine my surprise when I recently discovered a new difficulty.

A popular file-sharing Web site was offering pirated electronic copies of the book. Someone had stolen a copy of the e-book version and uploaded it to the file-sharing site. Now it could be downloaded free by anyone.

I was startled for several reasons. First, the retail price of a print copy of the book is $90, and the official e-book version is $74, so its free availability online seemed an obvious disincentive for anyone to buy it. Second, as I described in another column, I have mixed feelings about open-access scholarship. Several years earlier, an open-access project of mine had been plagiarized and printed in a commercial "closed access" book, and now my commercial closed-access book was in some sense made open-access to everybody—again without my consent. Third, even I—the editor—didn't possess a copy of the official e-book version, yet there it was for everyone else.

But was the piracy my problem? And was it really a problem?

According to the file-sharing Web site, the book had been downloaded 123 times in the past month. I was impressed that there could be so much interest in the text, which covers a relatively minor figure in philosophy. Could the pirated copy of my book be generating interest in an obscure corner of my field? If so, maybe this piracy wasn't such a bad thing.

I would like to believe that my edited volume has made a real contribution to the world of scholarship, and here it was circulating more rapidly that I had imagined. Maybe there would be some professional benefits from an expanded audience for the book, as more scholars might become aware of my work and cite it in their publications.

On the other hand, financially, the piracy seemed to be harming both the publisher and me.

To read the complete article, see: My Battle With E-Pirates (


Can anyone explain this one to me? It appears to be a report from Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe (of recent hyperinflation fame). It tells of a rush to buy old circulating coins and banknotes in Masvingo, a province in the southeastern part of the country. -Editor

A craze for "ancient" coins and old $2 and $5 dollar notes that were in circulation at the time of independence has hit Masvingo.

Buyers have converged on Masvingo from as far as South Africa, offering up to $1 500 for a coin.

A survey by NewsDay revealed that a 1953 penny with a hole in the middle is fetching around $70 with a tickey (two-and-half pence) fetching around $1 500.

A smaller penny with King George's portrait is fetching in the region of $100.

The coins are believed to be fetching much as collectors' items in South Africa.

Fortune-seeking teachers who had come to collect their salaries from banks in Masvingo had handfuls of coins, asking for interested middlemen.

One South African website, ( is advertising the auctioning of such coins.

At the latest auction, according to the website, one coin was bought at $25 000.

"I heard of the rush last week after some people had come to the villages asking for these coins and offering villagers amounts like $10 for a coin, yet they re-sell them at a higher price. I have got a collection of the coins after getting them from villagers," said a teacher from a rural school near Masvingo town, clutching a bagful of coins.

Another "currency trader" told NewsDay the old $2 note with birds facing each other fetches $200 while the old $5 note with two women pounding, gets $800.

The rush for the Rhodesian currency comes barely three months after another recent hunt for old cast iron pressing irons and three-legged pots.

To read the complete article, see: A craze for "ancient"coins and old $2 and $5 dollar notes that were in circulation at the time of independence has hit Masvingo (


Here's another head-scratcher with a numismatic connection, this time from Dubai. -Editor

Carbon Paper Banknotes Siezed in Dubai Dubai Customs inspectors at Dubai International Airport managed to foil a bid to smuggle fake banknotes of US dollars with a total value of $ 56.5 thousand (AED 206 thousand). The currencies were possessed by a female passenger coming from an Asian country who was trying to smuggle them into the UAE.

Mr. Ali Al Mugahwi, Director of Airport Operations at Dubai Customs said that a customs inspector working at Dubai Int'l Airport Terminal 1 suspected a female passenger while she was on her way to the customs inspection area as she looked shaken and reluctant and behaved strangely.

He added:" At first, when her luggage was examined through the electronic checkup machine, nothing suspicious was detected. However, when a female Dubai Customs inspector manually and meticulously searched the luggage, she found black carbon papers bearing the picture of 100 banknote American dollars in an almost invisible way. The papers which were wrapped and spread in different parts of the luggage and in between the suspect's clothes were a total of 565 papers. These papers are believed to be used in witchcraft and money multiplication crimes".

During interrogation, she said she was going to buy a chemical substance used forging money and apply them to these papers to make them look as if they were original.

To read the complete article, see: Dubai Customs foils bid to smuggle fake currency using carbon paper (


The New York Daily News published an article about counterfeiting with an unusual numismatic twist - an invented state numismatic agency. -Editor

The Daily News has discovered the greatest parking deal in the city - day-long free spots on some of the Big Apple's busiest streets.

All it takes is Photoshop, a color printer and a bit of poster board to crank out a real-looking government placard to place in your dashboard - and nary a ticket will come your way.

The News proved it yesterday while working with the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, which made a bogus placard from the fictional "New York State Numismatic Agency" - aka the agency of coin collection.

The placard was slapped with the seal of the Republic of Bulgaria and laminated to give it extra gravitas.

Then we popped it on the dashboard of a rented 2011 Dodge Caliber and took it on a tour of some of the city's most parking-starved neighborhoods, pulling in for more than seven hours in illegal spaces near City Hall, Brooklyn's Borough Hall and in the heart of Times Square.

We put no money in meters, circled no blocks in search of elusive legal spaces - and drove off without a ticket.

A study the group released in April estimated that as many as 25,000 fraudulent permits are on the streets - but the total could be higher, Budnick said.

Hmmm. What would an agent of the New York State Numismatic Agency do, anyway? Empty your pockets, sir. We're on the lookout for for Wisconsin state quarters with extra corn leaves." Or, "We're on the trail of a gentleman reported to be spending 1914-D cents at bodegas across Manhattan. Here's a picture. Seen 'im? Name's Scott Travers. -Editor

To read the complete article, see: Bogus parking placard allows advocacy group to park all over New York City without a single ticket (


This week's Featured Web Page is Owen W. Linzmayer's Banknote News, suggested by Martin Kaplan. Thanks!

I started to provide a forum for presenting breaking news about international paper & polymer money because I couldn't find anything like it on the Internet. While it is a lot of work to maintain, I have the pleasure of collaborating with avid collectors, dealers, and central bankers the world over to help spread current, correct, and comprehensive news and images about the very latest developments in this entertaining and educational hobby.


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