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Wayne Homren

Among our new subscribers this week is Keith Greenham. Welcome aboard! We have 1,478 email subscribers, plus 167 followers on Facebook.

This week we open with a note from George Kolbe about the upcoming Kolbe-Fanning numismatic literature sale, followed by word of two new numismatic books, and the loss of another hobby stalwart.

Other topics include Labor Exchange notes, new and innovative Dutch and British coin designs, and an unsearched hoard of Eisenhower dollars.

To learn more about The Jolly Green Giant's girlfriend, the Oracle of Abonuteichos, irradiated Dimes, and the Queen Anne Shilling in Ray Williams' soup ladle, read on. Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


George Kolbe forwarded this note about the upcoming Kolbe & Fanning numismatic literature sale. -Editor

Kolbe-Fanning Sale 123 cover I received a call from Frank Campbell who kindly pointed out a possible source of confusion in the Kolbe & Fanning catalogue of The 2012 New York Book Sale, to be held on Saturday January 7th, 2012 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel during the New York International Numismatic Convention.

Namely, the catalogue states that lot viewing is "at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, Eighteenth Floor Meeting Room Level: The Library..." While this is correct, Frank pointed out that some potential lot viewers might reasonably think that the location is at the American Numismatic Society Library building, since lot viewing has indeed been held there for the past two years. While Kolbe & Fanning will miss interacting with the wonderful ANS staff this January, we do look forward to seeing and visiting a larger contingent of numismatic researchers and bibliophiles, given the enticing nexus that NYINC provides.

So, to all the usual suspects, and we hope some new ones, we implore : come see us in THE LIBRARY (yes there is such a room in the hotel) at the Waldorf.

For more information on the sale, see:


Mike Thorne recently published a review of a new book in Coins Magazine. The review is now available on Here's an excerpt - be sure to read the full article for the complete review. Thanks to Paul Hollis for providing the cover image. -Editor

American Numismatist In this column, I'm going to review American Numismatist, a new book penned by Paul Hollis, a coin dealer in the small town of Mandeville, La., which is close to New Orleans.

I happened upon American Numismatist in my many tours of the bourse at the recent ANA convention in Chicago and was told that Hollis was giving the book free-of-charge to all the ANA's Young Numismatists at the convention. That, and the fact that the book appears to be self-published (PBH Publishing in Mandeville), suggests to me that this is a labor of love, not a work designed to enrich the author.

In my experience, self-published books are often works with obvious flaws, suggesting that they are self-published because no reputable commercial publisher would touch them. I'm happy to say that that is not the case with Hollis's book.

According to the Foreword by John Albanese, "Over the years, there have been books that dealt with the history of the U.S. Mint and the development of the nation's coins and currency. And some of them have sought to link their numismatic narratives to what was going on in the wider world at the time. But I can think of no other book that weaves the numismatic history of America so skillfully...into the total tapestry of our nation from Colonial days through the start of the new millennium."

American Numismatist begins its look at coins used in America with Colonial coins and ends with the National Park quarter series and the changed reverse on Lincoln cents. In between, of course, Hollis examines momentous changes in our coinage, all within the context of major events in American history.

In Chapter Two, for example, there's a section devoted to the major expansion of territory by the Louisiana Purchase. This leads into a discussion of the Lewis and Clark expedition, with its famous Native American guide, Sacagawea. As you would expect, the numismatic tie-ins are numerous, including the 1903 commemorative gold dollar recognizing the 100th anniversary of the land acquisition, the special Jefferson nickel reverses in 2004 and 2005, and the Sacagawea dollar.

The list price is $19.95, and it's available from PBH Publishing, Box 1862, Mandeville LA 70470, or call 1-800-994-0689.

QUICK QUIZ: What other work of numismatic literature has the title American Numismatist ? -Editor

To read the complete article, see: Hollis's New Work Weaves Coins and History (


John Mutch writes:

The latest E-Sylum article on the Kentucky Coal scrip just reminded me that the Third Edition, Volume 2 (WV) of Edkins' Coal Company Scrip is now back in print and available from:

Thanks! Below is the information from the web site. -Editor

Edkins Catalogue of United States Coal Company Scrip Volume 2, Third Edition

This 370 page hardcover book lists over 7,400 pieces of West Virginia coal mine scrip. Information includes the company that issued the piece, denominations issued in the series, material the piece is composed of, diameter, shape, visual representation of any cut-out in the piece, and a rarity rating that gives a suggested value. The definitive guide to West Virginia scrip.

Issued by the NSCA, this is the latest edition. Volume 2 lists scrip from West Virginia. This is the current edition and includes a wealth of information about the history and use of scrip, as well as the actual listings of individual pieces.

MEMBER COST: $40 / NONMEMBER COST: $45 Available & Back in Print!

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JOHN R. ESHBACH: 1921-2011

John Eshbach, Dee and Wayne Homren I was saddened to learn this week of the death of John Eshbach of Lancaster, PA. John was one of my numismatic mentors, a guiding force in the creation of the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists, and a leader nationally in numismatic exhibiting. He will be greatly missed. Below is an online obituary forwarded by Richard Jewell of PAN. While not an avid numismatic bibliophile, John built an extensive collection of the publications of the early coin dealer John Steigerwalt of Lancaster.

Above is a photo of John (left) with me and my wife Dee at the 2008 ANA Banquet in Baltimore. In 2011 Dick Duncan, John Eshbach and Gerry Kochel received Lifetime Achievement awards at the PAN banquet at the LeMont, Mount Washington, Pittsburgh, PA. Over ninety friends and guests paid tribute to the longtime PAN/ANA members. -Editor

John Eshbach John R. Eshbach, 90, of Lancaster, entered into rest on Sunday, December 4, 2011 at his residence with his family by his side. Born July 13, 1921 in Lancaster, he was the son of the late John H. and Ethel Ellen (Charles) Eshbach. He was preceded in death by his wife of almost 50 years, Evelyn E. (Henry) Eshbach, on February 7, 1994.

Mr. Eshbach proudly served our country as a Technical Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II in the South Pacific Theatre, finishing his tour of duty in a school battalion at Camp Pendleton. He retired after 36 years of service at RCA as an electrical engineer, where he supervised the construction of high-powered radar and television equipment. John graduated from the Hershey Industrial School.

John was an accomplished numismatist, or coin collector, for over 50 years. He was a member of the Red Rose Coin Club, the American Numismatist Association, and the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists. Mr. Eshbach had received numerous awards for his achievements in this field. He was often involved in conventions, where he enjoyed judging exhibits and teaching new collectors about his favorite hobby.

Mr. Eshbach is survived by his son: John R., Jr., wife of Jean Eshbach of Marietta; four grandchildren: Jessica Miller, Eric Eshbach, Heather Eshbach, and Jason Eshbach; and six great grandchildren. In addition to his wife, John was preceded in death by his daughter, Kay L. Schrawder, and his sisters, Anna Mary Dings and Frances Field.

To read the complete obituary, see: Obituary of John R. Eshbach (

John kindly served as Exhibit Chairman for me when I was the General Chairman of the 2004 ANA convention in Pittsburgh, and did a marvelous job. Do the math - he was 83! Below are remembrances of John from E-Sylum readers. -Editor

Joe Boling, Chief Judge of the American Numismatic Association writes:

I worked with John for many years as an ANA exhibitor and exhibit judge. He assisted me in certifying about half of the ANA judges now serving. He was the first recipient of the Joseph E Boling award for Excellence in Numismatic Judging. He was also a recipient of the highest honor the ANA bestows, the Farran Zerbe Award for Distinguished Service. The ANA community joins you in grieving his loss. We will miss him.

ANA Exhibit and Awards Committee Chair Steve D'Ippolito writes:

My first reaction was great dismay at the loss, keenly felt here on the high plains of Colorado. I found myself last night rambling about it to friends who came over to visit, showing them my autographed Red Book from the PAN banquet, and stopping myself when I realized they had never been to a convention and therefore had no idea who he was, which was their loss.

My second reaction was relief that he had lived long enough to attend that banquet, to receive the accolades he so richly deserved.

I am new enough to exhibiting ("only" since 1998) to have missed out on most of his exhibiting career, but I have personally witnessed a lot of outstanding work with his name on it. (Or rather not on it, doing so being prohibited by the rules.) I can speak a lot less knowledgeably about his work as a judge, but those in the know in that area gave him the highest praise they could.

Joe Boling said it first, he was a stalwart in the exhibiting field. I cannot think of a better word.

John Eshbach & Gerry Kochel
Photo by Barbara Gregory of John Eshbach (left) and Jerry Kochel at the 2011 PAN Banquet in Pittsburgh.

Sam Deep writes:

We in Pittsburgh are honored to have had John as a numismatic colleague and as a friend. My memories of John mounting his final exhibit at the National Money Show in Pittsburgh and attending the PAN Banquet there to receive his Lifetime Achievement Award are cherished.

My most indelible memory of John Eshbach occurred during the October 2008 PAN Show as he fulfilled his perennial role as PAN Chief Judge of exhibits. My grandson Josh had just that summer been certified by Joe Boling at the tender age of 14 as an ANA Exhibit Judge. To witness a man whose judging expertise and experience I so much admired be willing to approach Josh at the beginning of that show and request that he serve as a PAN judge gave me even more respect for the man.

Richard Jewell writes:

John was a great human being, quiet, sincere, honest, a great hobbyist, a good friend and he'll be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Don Carlucci writes:

With the passing of another numismatic giant, I can best remember not only what he did on the local and national level, but what he did on the state level. Without John's influence, the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists would never have stretched from the Ohio line to the Delaware River.


On the Yahoo Colonial Coins email group Friday, Ray Williams posted a short account of his visit this week to the American Numismatic Society in New York. -Editor

I lost a day of work yesterday, but I'm happy to say it was for numismatic reasons! Last night, Robert Hoge at the ANS gave a presentation on the Massachusetts Silver in the ANS Collection. It was a PowerPoint presentation and very well done. The ANS holdings of Massachusetts Silver are extensive. After his presentation, the floor was open for questions and observations... I guess this is why these events are called "Conversations". Then Megan passed around trays of all the Massachusetts Silver for observation in the coin! Some coins were missing as they were on loan to exhibits elsewhere, but it was still an impressive sight to see. I had fun!

Ray also spent some time to research a soup ladle in his collection that was made from coins. -Editor

Colonial-Era ladle with Coin The event started at 5:30, so I left work earlier so I could have some fun in the library and researching my ladle. It is obvious that there is a Queen Anne Shilling in the base of the bowl on my soup ladle, but it's not so obvious that the bowl was made from a British crown as both the obverse and reverse are completely gone from the hammering to give it its shape. But the rim and edge lettering are intact, giving the regnal year of the monarch.

I tried to identify the monarch by comparing the edge lettering with different crowns in the ANS collection, to no avail. The silversmith work on the ladle had increased the diameter of the Crown's edge so that proportions are off. It might be possible to ID the monarch, but very difficult - so I gave up. It was fun to try though.

Colonial-Era ladle with Coin closeup Colonial-Era ladle with Coin closeup


Fred Schwan, in the December 9th, 2011 issue of the MPC GRAM, wrote about Irradiated Dimes, an interesting souvenir that turns up now and again at coin shows. I added some images found on Flickr. -Editor

Neutron Irradiated Dime from Mid-South Fair Atomic Energy Exhibit, Memphis, TN In the late 1940s (my best estimate). the American Museum of Atomic Energy created encased dimes advertising the museum. The most interesting thing is that the dimes were exposed to radiation before distribution. If you have a Geiger counter you can confirm this! Indeed, this was done at an early Fest. We have discussed these before. The one that I bought at the show has a 1941 dime.

The irradiated dimes had a little moment of sunshine at the ANA summer. Beth Deisher moderated a discussion group of legendary hall of fame members. The panel (Chet Krause, Ken Bresset, Ed Rochette, and Cliff Mishler) discussed many different things. To a question about what he collects Cliff Mishler mentioned irradiated dimes. This seemed to amaze most of the audience. To make the point, the question of who collects irradiated dimes was then passed to the audience. I believe that the assembled throng was then astonished again when two audience members raised their hands! Boling and Schwan of course.

I am not sure how many different dates were encased. Heck, I do not even know how many that I have.

Have these dimes been catalogued anywhere? How mny different dates and types of encasements are known? -Editor

A man takes home an irradiated dime - one of the less-sensible souvenir ideas of the 1940s - at the American Museum of Atomic Energy.


Web site visitor Lorne Bair asks about an interesting piece if Labor Exchange currency. -Editor

warren labor note

I'm an antiquarian bookseller in Winchester, Virginia, researching an item somewhat out of my field. I'm hoping you might help to point me in a useful direction for further research. I found your name through a series of brief blog-posts you wrote for the Numismatic Bibliomania website back in 2006, on the subject of labor exchange notes.

The item in question is a labor note issued by Josiah Warren's utopian community ("Modern Times") on Long Island, New York, in 1857. As you may know, Warren is generally considered the first American anarchist and, as a follower of Robert Owen, issued labor notes at various times in his career, beginning with his partnership with Owen at New Harmony, Indiana; later through his Labor Mercantile in Cincinnati; and finally for use within his utopian community at Modern Times [now Brentwood] New York.

As a bookseller, I specialize in American social history and in particular in the literature of American communal societies - so this currency is of particular interest to me (and, potentially, to my customers!). Notes like this are certainly well-known in the literature, but to my surprise, in fifteen years of specializing in this subject, I've never encountered another example - nor have any of my colleagues. But I'm also aware that the worlds of numismatics and bibliophily only occasionally intersect, and it's entirely possible that such notes are far less exotic in your world than they are in mine.

Lorne wondered if I'd encountered other examples of Warren's labor exchange currency, knew of any examples selling at auction in the past twenty or so years, or had any references to recommend.

I hadn't seen any of these before, and am not aware of any reference books. An NIP index search turned up an article by Waldo C. Moore in the August 1932 issue of The Numismatist titled "Labor Exchange Movement". It's a short article and doesn't list his note. There is also an article titled "Labor Exchange Notes" in the September 1959 issue of Numismatic Scrapbook magazine. I don't have this issue handy.

Looking through my own library I found a nice group of Labor Exchange notes offered in the Smythe sales of the Herb & Martha Schingoethe Obsolete Currency collection - Part 9, December 12-13, 2006. Warren's notes were not listed, however.

Knowing that if anyone has a good answer to Lorne's question it's probably an E-Sylum reader, I recommended publishing his questions here. Can anyone help? I'm curious to learn more myself. -Editor


Anil Bohora submitted the following item on some interesting coupons used by prisoners of war in India. Thanks! -Editor


I am a regular reader of The E-Sylum and enjoy every issue. I wanted to share below information with the group about Coupons used by PoWs in India:

It was during the Second World War that several POW camps were set up in India for German, Italian and Japanese POWs. These camps were first located in the inland and hilly tracks, but in towns which were sufficiently large to afford ease of communication. Such towns included Ahmednagar, Bangalore, Bhopal, Ramgarh (near Dehradun), Yol (in Garhwal), Delhi, Clemant town (in the Nilgiris). The central internment camp was situated at Ahmednagar. There is evidence to believe that coupons were issued by each "Wing" of the camp and were authorized by the Camp Commandment under the control of British Government.

POW_India_Bhopal_1A_ShortSnorter_Back To enable the prisoners of war to purchase daily necessities within the camp, it was necessary that they should be denied access to the circulating legal tender, lest they would save such money and use it for unwarranted activities. The best solution was to use coupons which carried value inside the camp but were useless outside.

As per as my understanding, International Red Cross was not involved in this at all.

I am not aware of any records of how many of these were issued. Also as you can see, they do not have SN also to deduce. But the total number of PoWs in India during WWII were about 100,000, so the number of coupons issued will be quite a small number. Also the coupons which are still available for collectors is very small in quantity and are quite rare.

I have also attached scans of a Short Snorter India PoW 1 Anna Bhopal Coupon from my collection.

On the back name "Bacchini Battista" and date of 21.10.1942 is written in pencil. The date may signify an entry or exit of this PoW from the Bhopal camp.

I think he must be from Italy. I have tried to identify him but without success. So, any help any group member can provide will be helpful.


Survey of Numismatic Research 2002-2007
Ralf W. Böpple of Stuttgart / Germany writes:

Following up on the link to the International Numismatic Congress 2003 Proceedings in this week's E-Sylum, here is the link to the complete Survey of Numismatic Research 2002-2007 published for the Congress in 2009 in Glasgow:

Palestinian Interpretation of Western Wall Coin Find
Arthur Shippee writes:

Of course, a political spin has been put on the Herod's Wall/coins story from the past couple of weeks.

Here's a short excerpt from the Palestinian Information center, datelined "OCCUPIED JERUSALEM". -Editor

Western Wall Palestinian archaeologist Jamal Amro declared he made a discovery of 17 ancient coins that vindicated further the false story and belief of Jews about their alleged temple in occupied Jerusalem.

The coins date back to 16 AD, which means they were minted 20 years after the death of Herod the Great whom the Jews allege he built the second temple, Amro added.

He demonstrated his finding on Monday in a news conference held by the Islamic-Christian commission for the support of Jerusalem and the popular national congress of Jerusalem in Ramallah city.

The archaeologist told the attendees that these coins were found under Al-Buraq wall (wailing wall) which is claimed to be the western wall of the alleged Jewish temple.

He added this discovery confirmed that the building of the wall happened after Herod in the era of Roman ruler Valerius Gratus.

He also stated this discovery left the Jewish archaeologists in a state of shock and frustration because it just proved further their false claims and beliefs about the legend of the temple.

The article referred to above is no longer available online.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: COIN FIND REWRITES HISTORY OF JERUSALEM'S WESTERN WALL (

Erasing a Polymer Banknote
Andrew Hurle writes:

Regarding fugitive ink on Canadian polymer currency, readers might be interested in the following video:

It hardly constitutes 'fair wear and tear' but does give some an indication of the ephemeral foundation of plastic currency. The solvent was common nail-polish remover, I believe.

I remember when the polymer notes were introduced in Australia, how such a big deal was made of the transparent 'window' as a security device - as if the window had been magically inserted into the note. Good to see that with a little effort, so much more can be revealed about this kind of technology.

Erasing a polymer banknote

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: INK RUBS OFF CANADA'S NEW POLYMER BANKNOTE (

On Small Banknotes
Joe Boling writes:

Regarding the Romanian miniature 10 bani note, and its claim to be the "smallest paper money," stamps have been used as circulating money as well, and small cardboard notes were issued in Morocco during WWII.

I don't have any at hand to compare with the dimensions of the Romanian piece, but I also have military scrip that is 1/2 the size of the Romanian note - so it depends on what you want to call paper money. I'd say the Romanian piece won't hold the title long.

Ian A. Marshall writes:

Regarding the claim of the Romania note being the world's smallest, there are a series of Russian stamp notes issued in the teens (eg. P17) which are smaller.

So Joe was right! That didn't take long. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: WORLD'S SMALLEST BANKNOTE? (

Stamps As Legal Tender Under $5
Speaking of stamps, Ken Berger writes:

Does anybody know if the law, allowing postage and other stamps (presumably meaning revenue stamps) to be received for dues to the US not exceeding $5, has ever been repealed?

Good question. My brother-in-law asked me just the other week if stamps were still legal tender, and I said no. But now I'm not so sure - can anyone help? Thanks. -Editor


More On Coin-Covered Cars
William Waychison of Timmins, Ontario, Canada writes:

The article about the Camero covered with UAE coins made me recall a similar, but I thought a more significant vehicle. My recall was that it was a Rolls Royce covered in large British pennies but I may be wrong. In any case, a quick Google search of choice words could not locate the Rolls, but did locate a 1976 Bicentennial Money Car. It is listed on Wikipedia ( and illustrated in the link "Historic Auto Attractions" (

Historic Auto Attractions is a museum located at Roscoe, Illinois, and where the vehicle currently resides along with other automobiles and memorabilia.

It appears the 1976 Cadillac Limousine is covered with 120,000 coins and is the largest bicentennial project ever undertaken by an individual, Hal Wood. A plaque on the vehicle indicates that it took four people two years to complete. The car is reported to weigh 3.5 tons - 1 ton in coins alone.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: CAMARO COVERED IN UAE COINS (

On Numismatic Ads in Mainstream Publications

Last Friday's New York Times (p. B-18) had a full-page ad from Bonhams promoting their Coins & Medals auction, 12/16, and their Meyer & Ebe ancient coin auction, 1/6. My particular question is 2-fold: does anyone have interest in the physical object of the ad? Does anyone have interest in the fact that they advertised that, in that medium?

The Green Giant Gets His Jollies
Tom DeLorey writes:

The "Spirit of Detroit" statue on the medal you showed is deliberately oxidized to a bright green, and when I lived there was sometimes referred to as the "Jolly Green Giant."

Across the foot of Woodward Avenue, in front of the Michigan Consolidated Gas Building, was the tastefully nude statue of a female entitled "Spirit of the Dance."

One morning circa 1970, the city awoke to find a set of bright green footprints painted on the pavement from him to her. To the best of my knowledge, the perpetrator of the prank was never discovered.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: THE DETROIT MAYOR'S MEDAL (


DAVID SKLOW - FINE NUMISMATIC BOOKS offers Mail Bid Sale No. 15 on February 11, 2012, including: 1946 Davenport, Iowa Rare three piece convention medal set of the American Numismatic Association, Bronze, Silver & Gold medals in original box. PH: (719) 302-5686, FAX: (719) 302-4933. EMAIL: USPS: Box 6321, Colorado Springs, CO. 80934. Contact me for your numismatic literature needs!


Dick Johnson forwarded this note about Jeff Shevlin and his So-Called Dollar specialty. Thanks! -Editor

I received an email this week from Jeff Shevlin announcing an auction of 75 lots of so-called dollars to take place at the FUN convention next month. It led me to his excellent web site and I reviewed again what he says there about himself, his chosen interest-niche-passion of so-called dollars and his Discussion Page that encourages collectors to comment on a wide variety of subjects related to this numismatic medal topic-specialty.

I don't know anyone in numismatics who has more fun than Jeff Shevlin!

Jeff has chosen a very narrow specialty within the numismatic field: American So-Called Dollars. There are only about 950 of these. Jeff has studied these, collected these, and now makes a business of dealing in them. He has written articles about these, and now even written a book on just one of these little gold dollar issues with a co-author William D. Hyder.

He attends major conventions with a stock of his special medals. He has acquired world-renowned collections of so-called dollars. He has researched deeply into the history of selected issues and plans to expand this to, perhaps, a series of books similar to the one he just published on the Charbneau Dollar.

I arranged for a plant visit for Jeff and his sidekick, Bill Hyder, at Medallic Art Company's Dayton, Nevada, plant. There the pair saw how modern medals are made at every step of manufacture. This undoubtedly gives insight into Jeff's knowledge of the making of these items from the earliest 1826 Erie Canal Completion Medal to the present. It makes Jeff a better writer and a better dealer in this specialized collectible series.

Jeff and I have exchanged emails on a variety of so-called dollar subjects, including such subjects as a definition of so-called dollars and should certain medals be delisted from the standard work on the subject -- by Hibler and Kappen -- and not be classed as "so-called dollars" any longer. My definition entails the type of press on which these medals were struck. (I touched on this in an article in TAMS Journal, Sept-Oct 2011, page 140-142, defining "art medals.")

We also discussed should new issues be added to those that HK cataloged in their standard work. That's still open for more discussion.

So you can imagine the scope that Jeff has carved out for himself and the fun one person can have in the field of numismatics. Pick a narrow subject and learn everything about it you can. Become the expert like Jeff has become the expert on so-called dollars.

Here's the link to Jeff's web site: To read the complete article, see: www.So-Called

Jeff took this photo of him and Dick at the ANA convention in Boston this past August. -Editor

Jeff Shevlin and Dick Johnson at ANA Boston convention


Erik J. van Loon of the Royal Dutch Numismatic Society forwarded this note about a new coin. -Editor

€ 5 2011 mint vz € 5 2011 mint kz

The ‘100 years of the mint building € 5 - coin' has been designed by the Royal Dutch Mint by Juan José Sánchez Castaño. The coin sows a contrast between old and new; the beauty of the historical building and the new techniques of striking coins.

You can recognize unique elements from the building in the design of the coin. The portrait of the Queen Beatrix has been made in 3D. The side with an old mint press and a QR-code is very innovative. For the first time you can scan a coin with your mobile phone. Then you get contact with a site on the internet and you can read more about this coin.

Is this really the first coin with a QR code? Has this been tried on banknotes? -Editor


Stephen Pradier forwarded an article about a new coin honoring Charles Dickens. It's a novel artistic approach - what do readers think? -Editor

Britain Dickens Coin

The Royal Mint has come up with a novel way to wish Charles Dickens a happy 200th birthday - a new coin with a portrait of the author made up of the titles of some of his most famous fictional works.

The two-pound ($3.20) uncirculated collectible coin will be available via the Royal Mint's website for a price of 8.50 pounds ($13) starting this week, officials said.

Coins designed for circulation will be available early next year to mark Dickens' birthday. The celebrated Victorian novelist was born two centuries ago on Feb. 7, 1812.

The design released Tuesday shows a portrait by artist Matthew Dent that uses titles like "David Copperfield" and "A Christmas Carol" to form a silhouette of Dickens' face.

"I wanted the design of the coin to reference both the immense contribution Dickens has made to British literature and his iconic portrait," Dent said.

The portrait is based on a bust of the author on display at the Charles Dickens Museum in London.

The edge of the coin is inscribed with the quotation "Something will turn up," associated with the ever-optimistic Wilkins Micawber character in "David Copperfield."

Dent has produced some groundbreaking designs for the Royal Mint before, and here's another tradition-breaker. I'd like to see one in person to capture the full effect. Does it work? I'm not so sure, but I appreciate the novelty. -Editor

To read the complete article, see: Charles Dickens' 200th birthday celebrated with coin made up of portrait with author's titles (

Kolbe-Fanning Sale 123 ad 2011-12-11


Ursula Kampmann published a fascinating article in CoinsWeekly on Thursday. Illustrated with images of coins featuring a bizarre snake with a human-like head, it tells of long ago events in the tiny Roman provincial city of Abonuteichos. -Editor

Glycon on reverse
Amaseia (Pontos), Antoninus Pius, AE, 158. Rev. Snake with human head (Glycon) on base

There, something wonderful had happened: a stately itinerant preacher appeared on the scene and told the city's inhabitants that Asclepius had decided to settle down, in a new guise, in Abonuteichos, of all. And indeed, some days later, the prophet - naked, in deep trance and accompanied by crowds of curious people - walked to the foundations of the temple which those who were thrilled by the news of Asclepius arriving in the very near future had already begun to build, just in case. There, he found an egg with a snake hatching, newborn Asclepius.

Some days later, the believers witnessed an impressive spectacle. In a cave, Alexander sat enthroned, wearing lavish clothes. His hair floated beautifully, his garment was loose and embroidered with magic signs. He had the snake wrapped around him that had grown enormously in that short period of time. Not only the unusual quick growth but the appearance of the animal as well betrayed its divine origin. The snake had a head like a human with long hair. Its tongue moved without interruption. The biggest miracle of all: it talked and stated its name and descent: "I am Glycon, descendant of Zeus in the third generation (Zeus was father of Apollo, Apollo father of Asclepius.), light and illumination for mankind."

The oracle fee was inexpensive. One drachm and two oboloi - even the poor could afford that, and the oracle business flourished. From far and wide came those looking for answers, not only peasants in a long time, but wealthy merchants from the big cities, even a senator from Rome, who was so enthralled by Glycon that he married his daughter off to its prophet, Alexander, at once.

The inhabitants of the city felt happy. Their revenues had multiplied thanks to their god. Hence, they changed the name of their city Abonuteichos, after the bringer of their prosperity, Glycon or Ion, as he called himself, into Ionopolis. Of course, they put the image of their new deity on their coins which is why we today can still marvel at its beauty.

Oh, I see, you are not one of those people who believe in miracles? Well, then you surely like the continuation of the story. In the course of his voyages, the writer Lucian had come to Abonuteichos and wrathfully revealed the true backgrounds of this new oracle. The self-appointed prophet was a tatterdemalion sideshow actor who had acquired one of these tame pet snakes as prop during a trip throughout Macedon. It had given him the idea to exploit the gullibility of these people to ensure him a safe maintenance in his old age - presumably he had become tired of the constant wandering about. And so he moved to his native town, Abonuteichos, located in the middle of nowhere, where he fueled the atmosphere of expectancy with his mysterious prophecies.

The birth of his god was impressively staged: at the near-by Asclepius temple, currently under construction, Alexander hid a goose egg which he had prepared before in a special way. In the egg, that had been carefully sewed in two halves, he put a small snake and closed the visible gap with wax again so that the egg appeared untouched. Great events often come from little causes.

The highly famous god Glycon, we see on this coin, was a virtuous pet snake that had got a new head, home-made from scrap of cloth. Thus, the oracle was necessarily dark to prevent any of the "clients" to find out the secret. The prophet himself made the tongue in the false mouth dart, with the aid of a horse hair. And the voice - well, that was achieved by a tube of goose throats leading to a curtain with a servant behind it who was clever enough to give a fitting, facile answer to any question posed.

Glycon upright
Nicomedeia (Bithynia), Caracalla, 197-217. AE. Rev. Snake with human head Glycon in an upright position, in several windings, to the right.

To read the complete article, see: Alexander of Abonuteichos - a lesson from Asia Minor about gullibility in the 2nd cent. A. D. (


Kavan Ratnatunga has published an article about a new Sri Lankan coin that honors a U.S. citizen. -Editor

This is the First Lankan commemorative coin with portrait of an US citizen - Colonel Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907).

The following news item appeared in Today's Sunday Times which has been edited from longer version submitted.

Below is a biographical excerpt from WikiPedia, an image of the coin, and a portrait of Col Olcott. The coin features left to right portraits of Hikkaduwa Sri Sumangala Thera (1827-1911), Migettuwatte Gunananda Thera (1823-1890), and Colonel Henry Steele Olcott (1832-1907). -Editor

Ananda-College-coin-1 H.S._Olcott-portrait

Colonel Henry Steel Olcott (August 2, 1832 - February 17, 1907) was an American military officer, journalist, lawyer and the co-founder and first President of the Theosophical Society.

Olcott was the first well-known American of European ancestry to make a formal conversion to Buddhism. His subsequent actions as president of the Theosophical Society helped create a renaissance in the study of Buddhism. Olcott is considered a Buddhist modernist for his efforts in interpreting Buddhism through a Westernized lens.

Olcott was a major revivalist of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and he is still honored in Sri Lanka for these efforts. Olcott has been called by Sri Lankans "one of the heroes in the struggle of our independence and a pioneer of the present religious, national and cultural revival". More ardent admirers have claimed that Olcott was a Bodhisattva.

Olcott was born in 1832 in Orange, New Jersey, the oldest of the six children of Presbyterian businessman Henry Wyckoff Olcott and Emily Steel Olcott. As a child, Olcott lived on his father's New Jersey farm. During his teens he attended first the College of the City of New York and then Columbia University

To read the complete article, see:

For more details, see:


Thanks to Coin Update for pointing out this post by Doug Winter comparing U.S. coin shows to international Art Fairs - specifically, F.U.N. vs Art Basel in Miami. -Editor

I recently returned from a week long trip to Miami where I attended the Art Basel art fair. I went primarily to look at art and to purchase some pieces for my collection but I also went to closely observe what has become the most significant art fair(s) in the world. For a person like myself, who attends many coin shows each year and who had never been to Art Basel, I found the contrast to be both educational and totally fascinating. I thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast the annual Art Basel show with the upcoming FUN convention that will also be held in Florida.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Art Basel, I think a little background information is in order. This was the 11th annual edition of Art Basel in Miami and this show is a spin-off of the original fair that is held each year in Switzerland. The main Art Basel show was held in the Miami Beach convention center and it featured virtually all of the leading dealers in the world. I believe there were in the area of 400-500 dealers and I saw booths hailing not only the United States but from all over Europe, Latin America, South America and the Far East.

I could go on and on about comparing/contrasting Art Basel with the FUN show but I will keep the points to a manageable number and try to be as relevant as possible.

*Art Basel is a far more international fair than any coin show I have ever attended. The FUN show is not an especially international show and a better comparison is the NY International show which, ironically, is held at exactly the same time as FUN and which, therefore, is now impossible for me to attend. At various times at the fair, I felt like English was a second language. It was an interesting polyglot of Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian and more. The international scope of the attendees and the material at the fair was really, really exciting.

*A table at the FUN show for the average dealer costs around $1,500-2,500. At Art Basel, I was told that for most dealers, a table was upwards of $50,000 and that some of the prime tables were $250,000 and up. When you combine this along with the cost of attending the show, crating and uncrating the art, setting up and breaking down the booth and countless other expenses, the cost for a dealer to attend Art Basel is staggering. Thus, prices were reflective of this (more about this in a minute...)

*At Art Basel, if you weren't Puffy Combs, an A-list collector or introduced/escorted by a well-known dealer, forget it. I was ignored for three days at the main fair. At the FUN show, the average collector isn't ignored and if he is lucky, he can interact with such luminaries as Q. David Bowers, Mark Salzberg and David Hall. At Art Basel, dealers like Larry Gagosian or Edward Acquavella wouldn't have thrown water on my if I was ablaze (unless I was about to set one of their works on fire; then they would have sent an assistant to douse me).

*The iPad is clearly changing the way collectors and dealers buy and sell art. I noticed that most booths no longer had exhibit catalogs but now used an iPad to show collectors images of artists whose art wasn't on the walls or of paintings they might have had in stock but which they didn't bring. On at least two occasions, I searched for quick information about a specific artist I liked but wasn't familiar with on my iPad. You are starting to see iPads at coin shows but they seem to be more the province of dealers than collectors.

*I paid careful attention to which artists were common at the show and which were not; just like I do at a coin show. I noted an abundance of Leger, Miro, Dubuffet and Picasso. These are artists whose works typically sell for high six figures to well into seven figures. They are the art world's equivalent of High Reliefs or Stellas: expensive, beautiful and with a sexy back story but ultimately common and typically available except in the highest grades.

*Art Basel is a show that celebrates dealers and the relationship between the dealer and the collector. There are no auctions taking place during the show and it is not like FUN that sometimes seems like a huge Heritage auction with the bourse floor thrown-in as an afterthought. Art dealers have strange, conflicted relationships with auction houses and for good reasons. Sotheby's and Christie's are not only openly competing for clients but they also have retail departments, trust and estate planning services, consultation services and offer financing. This situation is a bit different in the coin markets where dealers tend to be able to co-exist, more or less, with the two major auction firms.

*I was surprised at how out-in-the-open deals were at Art Basel. I expected deals to be done in secret areas of each booth or, more likely over dinner but I saw collectors openly writing checks.

*One of the major differences between Art Basel and the FUN show was the level of enthusiasm exhibited by collectors at the former. At a coin show, buyers seem excited to be there but at Art Basel the adrenaline level was palpable. Maybe Picassos are just sexier than Dahlonega quarter eagles or maybe I've been to so many coin shows that it's become hard for me to be excited but the buzz at Basel, especially as the week wore on, was great.

In case you can't tell, I came away very impressed with Art Basel. It was well-attended, very entertaining (unbeatable people watching!), extremely well promoted and it seemed flawlessly run. The FUN show, in my opinion, is about as good as it gets in the numismatic world but it seemed like a bake sale compared to the fair!

To read the complete article, see: The Art Basel Fair Versus The FUN Show: An Analysis (


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A library janitor in Bavaria discovered a long-forgotten coin collection in a storeroom. -Editor

Janitor finds coin collection

Tanja Höls told The Local she was doing her normal rounds of storerooms in the Passau state library in Bavaria when she decided to open up the inlaid wooden box and see what was inside.

"The box itself was fairly unspectacular, it looked like a big jewellery box, with lots of little drawers inside," she said.

"So I pulled open one of the drawers and there were some coins in it. And I pulled a couple more open, and there were more coins - lots of different ones, different sizes and different metals."

Höls, whose duties include basics such as making sure the library's electricity supply works and the rubbish is collected regularly, was often in the store rooms to return books which had been loaned, to their storage places.

"I thought my boss Dr Wennerhold might be interested to know what I had found in the box," she said.

He was more than interested - Markus Wennerhold, head of the library, told The Local he was delighted.

"There are coins there from ancient Rome and Greece, as well as from the Byzantine era, as well as medals from the baroque period and Napoleonic times."

The coins - silver, bronze and brass - were worth millions, he said. "We looked for similar ones online, and found that some which were the same but in much worse condition had been sold for considerable sums. Then there were coins that we have that are not recorded elsewhere."

He said the coins had simply been forgotten about. "No-one currently working at the museum knew they were there," he said.

"They were hidden in 1803 during the secularisation in Germany, when all books and coins were taken from the monasteries and cloisters and put in state hands. The most valuable things were supposed to be taken to Munich, according to the archives, but someone here in Passau decided to keep some of them here and hid some treasures - including these coins."

Wennerhold said they had been in the wooden box in the storeroom ever since, simply overseen for two centuries.

"Next year we have our 400th anniversary and plan a new exhibition to mark that date - these coins will go on display for the first time. It fits perfectly," he said.

To read the complete article, see: Nosey janitor discovers ancient coin hoard (


Here's an article about Littleton's recent purchase of a huge hoard of Eisenhower dollars. There are a number of minting varieties and errors known today, and that will make sorting through the hoard a fun challenge. It will be interesting to see what turns up, and in what quantities. Why didn't I think about putting a bunch of these away when I was a kid? Oh, yeah, I didn't have $223,000... -Editor

Littleton Ike Dollar hoard A local coin company has just struck a bonanza in the collecting world, acquiring more than 220,000 Eisenhower one-dollar coins that had been stashed away in a Montana bank's basement for more than three decades.

A Littleton Coin Co. senior buyer flew to Montana to make the purchase from a private owner who kept them stored at the bank. The 223 Denver Mint bags - sewn shut in the 1970s with the brand new, never-circulated Dwight D. Eisenhower coins packed inside - then traveled across country to Littleton in an armored truck. The coins weighed 5.6 tons.

In a special staging area of the coin company, as many as 10 employees have been examining and grading the coins in preparation for putting them up for sale on Jan. 9, according to John Hennessey, the company's vice president of marketing.

"This is exciting. We're being careful not to disturb them," said Hennessey, who said experienced personnel skilled at handling valuable coins are performing the work. He said Littleton Coin is one of the nation's go-to companies for such a large transaction, and its purchase, worth "well over $1 million" is one of "a couple of major hoards" the company has acquired and offered for sale during his five years on the job.

They were shipped from the Denver Mint during the '70s to a Federal Reserve bank, and were then purchased by the Helena, Mont., seller who does not want his identity or specific location disclosed, according to the company's buyer, Ken Westover, who completed the purchase in one day in Montana after opening several of the canvas bags and determining the value of what he called the "hoard purchase."

"We've had several Midwest mega-hoards, but this certainly is a remarkable find," said Westover, who has been a buyer for the Littleton company since 1995.

"It's safe to say there is not a large quantity of Eisenhower dollars available. I'm not sure it was thought that a group like this would exist out there."

Asked if he knew why the seller bought so many of the coins, or sat on them for so long, Westover said, "No, he made no comment about that, unfortunately. But fortunately they did (buy and preserve the coins.)"

To read the complete article, see: Eisenhowers by the tons in Littleton (


"Chopmarks", overstamps and other graffiti on banknotes are perennial topics here in The E-Sylum. Here's a new one with a topical theme - the "Occupy" demonstrations in several American cities. This item from The Detroit News describes a dollar bill overstamps with a message supporting the movement. -Editor

Occupy dollar bill

I received a rather special $1 bill in change last week. On top of the familiar banknote image is a diagram that purports to show the disparity of wealth in the United States. The bill is divided in half with red ink, with "Richest 400 Americans" on one side and "Bottom 150,000,000 Americans" on the other. The dollar had, evidently, been Occupied.

My first impulse was to roll my eyes at the politicization of our currency, and then to laugh the whole effort off. I have it on good authority that the average One Percenter never carries bills smaller than $100 - so in all likelihood, most Occupy-stamped bills wind up in the cash register at the local corporate coffeehouse.

Really, though, turning the supposed "root of all evil" into a tool of propaganda is a clever idea. As much as I disagree with the aims of the Occupy movement, they have been very effective at propagating their message (I'm talking about it right now, after all). Moreover, subversion can be fun, and this is perfectly legal - the overprints don't meet the criteria for currency defacement. There are several designs available for ready reproduction at Some are factual, others are just snarky ("Future property of the 1%").

This is a campaign that the greedy capitalists of the world can learn from. Imagine similar currency stamps highlighting how much top earners pay in income tax - or showing how much of every dollar is consumed by bloated government. Ten-dollar bills might note that 80 percent of the world's population exists on less than $10 per day, putting many of the Occupiers uncomfortably near the ranks of the global One Percent.

I haven't seen any of these where I live, but I do wish a numismatist would locate one and donate it to the numismatic museum of their choice. I press this issue again and again in The E-Sylum - NOW is the time to be collecting contemporary numismatic items. Today's novelty item is tomorrow's rare and important historical artifact. -Editor

To read the complete article, see: Kozak: Occupy Dollar Bil (


This week's Featured Web Site is the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists (PAN).


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