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Wayne Homren

New subscribers this week include Donald Haynes, Ludwig Redling and William Watson, Welcome aboard! We have 1,593 email subscribers, plus 190 followers on Facebook.

This week we open with a note from Fred Lake, and an announcement of just one new numismatic book. But still, tonight's issue is a whopper. Other topics include photo plates in numismatic literature, the Albany Church Penny, coins of Pope John Paul II and SpongeBob SquarePants,

To learn more about goat tags, the Martha Washington Nonsense patterns, Peter the U.S. Mint eagle, wild parties with Swedish models and how curved "scyphate" coins were made, read on. Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Editor, The E-Sylum


Fred Lake sends this reminder of the closing date for his upcoming numismatic literature sale. -Editor

A reminder that Lake Books' 112th mail-bid sale of numismatic literature closes on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012 at 5:00 PM (EDT). The 470-lot catalog features selections from the libraries of David E. Litrenta and George J. Fuld and may be viewed at Bids may be placed via email, telephone or fax (note our new fax number) until the closing time.

Lake Books
6822 22nd Ave. N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33710
727-343-8055 Fax 727-381-6822


Krause Publications has issued a new edition of their Standard Catalog of United States Paper Money. -Editor

Standard Catalog of US Paper Money 31st ed The Standard Catalog of United States Paper Money is the only annual guide that provides complete coverage of U.S. Currency with today's market prices and presented in full color.

Users will find complete and accurate listings for: Large and Small size currency; Fractional Currency; National Bank Notes; a unique selection of intriguing Error Notes presented by Dr. Frederick J. Bart; Rare Postage Stamp Envelopes featuring selections from the Chester Krause collection; Military Payment Certificates and much more.

Anyone who is a collector, investor or estate planner will find exactly what they need to evaluate material in a market that continues to show strength despite the economic downturn. This is the essential guide for U.S. paper money collectors, researchers, estate planners, investors and historians.


- The only price guide that includes all of this data and the only one in color

- Accurate and up-to-date prices for a rapidly growing market

- Pricing analyst Bill Brandimore is a passionate collector and well connected with the U.S. paper money market

Editor George Cuhaj is an experienced and accomplished numismatist and researcher. George is an avid collector with a passion for this hobby. George is closely aligned with leaders in the field. George is also chief pricing analyst and editor for The Standard Catalog of World Paper Money series.

Market analyst William Brandimore has been collecting coins and paper money since childhood. A penchant for coins turned to an interest in paper money in 1984 when he fell in love with large-size type and fractionals. He is a paper money pricing analyst for Krause Publications, drawing from his own activity in the market combined with the input of leading dealers and collectors nationwide.

Author: George S. Cuhaj, William Brandimore
SRN: V6711
Price: $31.99 (CAN $33.50)
ISBN: 9781440230875

For more information visit .


Wayne Schroll writes:

Medieval European Coinage Does anyone know anything about the status of the Medieval European Coinage publishing project? MEC 1 was published in 1986 and MEC 14 was 1998. Their website hasn't changed in years. At this rate I will be nearly 200 years old when the last volume (17) is published. It would be a shame if the project was discontinued.

From the web site:

Medieval European Coinage is a major international work of reference for medieval numismatists, archaeologists and historians. The series of some 17 volumes, published by Cambridge University Press, will cover the coinage of Europe c. 450 to c. 1500, region by region. The MEC Project will produce the first comprehensive survey of European medieval coinages since the Traité de numismatique du moyen âge of Engel and Serrure (3 vols, 1891-1905).

Each volume of MEC provides an authoritative, up-to-date account of the coinage of an area, written by experts in the field. The text is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue of the coins in the unrivalled collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, largely formed by Professor Philip Grierson.

MEC Editor Mark Blackburn passed away in 2011. I wrote to Alan M. Stahl, who is listed as one of the contributors to the series. -Editor

Alan M. Stahl writes:

MEC certainly suffered a set-back from the extended illness and death of Mark Blackburn. Elina Screen of St. Andrews University, Scotland, has taken on the general editorship and we are hoping that things can get back on schedule. My understanding is that the following volumes are in press and well on their war to appearing in print:

6. The Iberian Peninsula, edited by A. Balaguer and M. Crusafont

7 (i) The Low Countries I: The Early Coinage and the Pre-Burgundian South, edited by P. Grierson and S. Boffa.

7 (ii) The Low Countries II: The North and the Burgundian Period, edited by P. Grierson and S. Boffa.

12. Italy I: Northern Italy, edited by W. R. Day Jr., M. Matzke and A. Saccocci.

My volume, 13, Central Italy, is still very much in the research stage.

That's great news! We'll look forward to the publication of these volumes. -Editor

To visit the Medieval European Coinage web page, see:


OVER 500 NUMISMATIC TITLES: Wizard Coin Supply has over 300 numismatic titles in stock, competitively discounted, and available for immediate shipment. See our selection at .


David Fanning forwarded this announcement of a recent find of interest to collectors of American numismatic literature: a previously unseen Geoffrey Charlton Adams auction catalogue with photographic plates. -Editor

Adams 1906 catalog cover Adams 1906 catalog plate

Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers have announced the discovery of a rumored, but never reported, Geoffrey Charlton Adams auction catalogue from 1906 with two photographic plates. The sale, of “The Dixie Land Collection of Coins and Medals,” was Adams’s thirtieth and final sale, held on Nov. 13–14, 1906. While a printed announcement of the sale mentioning a plated version of the catalogue has been known for many years, an actual example of the plated catalogue has never been offered publicly or reported to the numismatic community.

The plates are high-quality photographic plates, and are well-executed. The first depicts a variety of U.S. and colonial coins, including 1796 and 1797 half dollars, an 1879 Flowing Hair Stella, a Pine Tree shilling, a Rosa Americana twopence, a Chalmers shilling, rare Seated Liberty dollars and a Confederate cent. The second plate mostly depicts US. half cents and large cents, including key dates (1796 half cent with pole, two 1793 chain cents) and well-preserved early dates; a few early U.S. silver coins (1804 dime, etc.) are also included.

The catalogue itself resembles an ordinary G.C. Adams sale, with the usual pink paper covers stapled at the spine.

The catalogue will be offered at Kolbe & Fanning’s January 12, 2013 public auction sale at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, in conjunction with the New York International Numismatic Convention.

To visit the Kolbe-Fanning web site, see:


Speaking of photographic plates, last week Dick Johnson discussed the tradition of having plates of coin images in numismatic books and catalogs. He argued that plates were no longer necessary. Some of you agree, but there are other considerations arguing for keeping the tradition alive. Here's what readers had to say. -Editor

Granvyl Hulse writes:

Plates in the back of a book are definitely out of fashion and frankly inconvenient to the reader. I have just had my 21st publication done on local Colebrook history. One of them was the identification and dating of every picture we could find of Colebrook taken before 1900. Every picture was accompanied by the related text. Modern printing methods will take your book any way you wish to present it.

Practically every computer program I have used in the last ten years allows for the combining of text and photographs and my publisher will print it on any type of paper I am willing to pay for. Years ago when I wrote the history of my local church I had to use plates. I am now in the process of of up-dating the history and will insert the photographs in their proper location.

Bob Leonard writes:

While I would agree with Dick that plates are an inconvenience for a catalog of medals, they are a valuable tool for identification of ancient and medieval coins, which are often anepigraphic or badly struck. The catalog of the Ratto sale of Byzantine coins has been reprinted and is useful today, because one can quickly scan the plates for a possible attribution. The MEC (Medieval European Coins) volumes also have plates, and the whole Sylloge concept is based upon them. On the other hand, Mitchiner's works on Oriental coins are difficult to use because you have to page through the whole massive volume hunting for a match, if you don't know where to start

David Lange writes:

Despite advances in book design and printing, I found that the prospect of integrating color photos within the text of my coin board book was cost-prohibitive. This was in 2007. It may have been less than it used to cost many years ago, but the printer still wanted more money than for simply arranging all the color images in plate signatures of eight or sixteen leaves. With a book selling thousands of copies, such as those printed by Whitman, the added expense could be absorbed, but this was not the case for a book having a limited market. I plan to arrange my next book on coin albums in the same manner, unless someone can suggest an affordable alternative.

Ray Williams of Trenton, NJ writes:

I agree with Dick Johnson that publishing a book with plates used to be much more economical than publishing a book with pictures throughout. But I disagree with plates no longer being necessary. With respect to collecting colonial coins, the use of plates makes attribution much easier. Rather than flipping pages to the one that matches your variety, you can scan a few dozen images on a plate very quickly, and sometimes more accurately too.

There's an aspect of books I really enjoy, from my comic book days... pictures. So if we are taking a census here, I would vote to have today's books include both plates and images illustrated throughout.

Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing writes:

Dick Johnson's comments on photographic plates were interesting. He's right --- modern photography and printing technology have largely made such plates a thing of the past. Speaking from personal experience: nearly all of Whitman Publishing's books are full-color now, and that includes smaller-format beginner guides as well as large, specialized encyclopediae. That transition was already under way when I came aboard in 2004. For a time, we did publish some books in black and white with a "color splash" --- a signature (32 pages) or partial signature (8 or 16 pages) printed in four-color process on glossy or semi-gloss paper stock. (See, for example, some early editions in the Bowers Series, such as the Guide Book of Double Eagle Gold Coins. Another example: the Expert's Guide to Collecting and Investing in Rare Coins, which is a 688-page book, of which 672 are black and white.)

Economies of scale allow larger commercial publishers like Whitman to print books even as big as Q. David Bowers's Whitman Encyclopedia of U.S. Paper Money --- a 900-page, 8.5 x 11-inch doorstop! --- in full color, while maintaining a reasonable retail price. That book, by the way, was printed in the United States. Printers in Canada, China, and Mexico often offer competitive printing with no loss in quality. The Guide Book of United States Coins (the "Red Book"), currently at 448 full-color pages, is also printed in the USA.

For a smaller publisher, black-and-white might still be the most affordable, and perhaps the only affordable, printing option, especially if printing in the USA. In those cases, photographic plates may be the only way to include color in the production. Dick is right, this constrains the publisher to an old-fashioned and less flexible book layout, one that forces the reader to flip back and forth between text and illustrations. At Whitman, our typesetters (book designers, if you will, or "compositors") abide by fairly strict rules of page layout, always striving first to set an image on the same page where it's discussed in the text; if that proves impossible, then on the same two-page spread where it's discussed; or, as a last resort (which rarely happens), on the following page --- but in no instance should an image appear before the illustrated item is discussed in the body copy. We have that flexibility because everything (text, charts, photos, captions, and all) is printed on the same glossy or semi-gloss paper. A layout that depends on color plates, separate from the black-and-white text, doesn't have that freedom.

From time to time I still hear collectors refer to "plate coins." This makes sense if you're talking about an older book that actually has separate signatures (or partial signatures) of photographic plates. Technically, it's not accurate to refer to a "plate coin" in, for example, a recent edition of the Red Book. But old publishing terms --- like old numismatic terms! --- can keep a tenacious grip on life long after their prime.

Bob Van Arsdell writes:

When I wrote Celtic Coinage of Britain in the 1980's (in Applewriter II on a Apple II plus), it was almost as easy as today to put plates throughout a book. True, totally-electronic prepress systems make it even easier now, but it's been easy for decades.

I saw the case for putting the images alongside the descriptions, but I also felt a set of plates at the end was equally useful. People often need to compare images, or look up a type by its appearance - plates facilitate this.

The answer is simple - put the images in both places. The additional cost is minimal.

Over the last twenty-odd years, you'd be surprised how many people have commented about the way the double plating made the book easier to use.

Well, there you have it - do both! Put images alongside the text, but also in plates, where readers can view multiple coins at a glance. But for color images, those may have to be on a plate only due to the expense. -Editor


John Mutch was among the E-Sylum readers who forwarded articles on this week's ruling on the ten 1933 double eagles seized from the family of Izzy Switt. One of the articles is from Good Morning America, and cites an August 2, 2009 from E-Sylum. So now I'm quoting an article that cites my article that quotes other articles. My head is starting to spin... -Editor

1933_double_eagle_obv A judge ruled that 10 rare gold coins worth $80 million belonged to the U.S. government, not a family that had sued the U.S. Treasury, saying it had illegally seized them.

After President Theodore Roosevelt had the U.S. abandon the gold standard, most of the 445,500 double eagles that the Philadelphia Mint had struck were melted into gold bars. However, a Philadelphia Mint cashier had managed to give or sell some of them to a local coin dealer, Israel Switt.

In 2003, Switt's family, Joan Langbord, and her two grandsons, drilled opened a safety deposit box that had belonged to him and found the 10 coins.

When the Langbords gave the coins to the Philadelphia Mint for authentification, the government seized them without compensating the family. The Langbords sued, saying the coins belonged to them.

In 2011, a jury decided that the coins belonged to the government, but the family appealed.

Last week, Judge Legrome Davis of the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania, affirmed that decision, saying "the coins in question were not lawfully removed from the United States Mint."

Barry Berke, an attorney for the Langbords, told, "This is a case that raises many novel legal questions, including the limits on the government's power to confiscate property. The Langbord family will be filing an appeal and looks forward to addressing these important issues before the 3rd Circuit."

The family said in its suit that in another seizure of the 1933 double eagle, the government split the proceeds with the owner after the coin sold for $7.59 million in 2002, according to

To read the complete article, see: Judge Says 10 Rare Gold Coins Worth $80 Million Belong to Uncle Sam (

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Legrome Davis Jr. held that, since no records showed coins being lawfully taken from the mint, they were almost certainly stolen.

"The Mint meticulously tracked the '33 Double Eagles, and the records show that no such transaction occurred," U.S. District Judge Legrome Davis Jr. wrote in his decision. "What's more, this absence of a paper trail speaks to criminal intent. If whoever took or exchanged the coins thought he was doing no wrong, we would expect to see some sort of documentation reflecting the transaction, especially considering how carefully and methodically the Mint accounted for the '33 Double Eagles."

Lawyers for the Langbords had argued that the coins could have left the Mint legitimately between March 15 and April 5, 1933, before Roosevelt's recall. The government's star expert, David Tripp, acknowledged gold coins could have left the Mint during that window, but he added that there were no records that 1933 Double Eagles did. "Nobody witnessed the disappearance of the 10 coins, but the jury "could - and did - properly infer criminal intent," Davis wrote.

To read the complete article, see: Judge upholds government's claim to $80M in rare gold coins found in safe deposit box (

John and Nancy Wilson forwarded this article and video from The Huffington Post, which quoted the other articles and even pictured the earlier E-Sylum article onscreen. -Editor

E-Sylum quoted in story

To read the complete article, see: Langbord Family Loses Lawsuit Over $80 Million Gold Coins; Currency Belongs To Uncle Sam, Judge Says (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: JUDGE ISSUES RULING ON CONFISCATED 1933 DOUBLE EAGLES (


Eric von Klinger writes:

goat Gene Brandenburg was undoubtedly right in identifying an item illustrated in the Sept. 2 issue as a goat tag. "Is there such a thing as a goat tag?" you ask. Of course. Ear tags on goats or sheep are nothing unusual. From the antique appearance of the one you illustrated, they are nothing new either. See the Web site , where the usefulness of such tags in proving ownership and tracking individual goats' production is explained.

The site is an odd bare-bones web page with a contact form. But livestock tags make perfect sense - I'd just never seen one before. And I'm still curious about this one. It looks like a one-of-a-kind handmade item. -Editor

Goat tag2

Tom Casper writes:

In your Sept. 2, 2012 E-Sylum article on goat tags, you asked if anyone had seen another. I have attached scans of a piece in my collection. Unfortunately, it is an unattributed maverick. The obverse pictures a goat and the date 1917. The reverse is stamped with the number 124. The piece is nickel, 25mm and holed as made. A second identical piece I have has a different number on the reverse. I would appreciate hearing from anyone if they know where these were used.

Goat Token obv Goat Token rev

Kay Olson Freeman dug up some info on Charles J. Grishkat. She sends these notes:

Charles J. Grishkat

Born: 1881, Eurbourg, Lithuania
Died: Dec. 18, 1947, Middletown, CT.

1912 – 1918 manager of saloon, 91 Court St., Middletown, CT. He is not married then. Grishkat will always be associated with saloon; but only those years at 91 Court St. Later address will be 97 Court St – possibly town re-numbered streets?

Charles Grishkat marries in 1920’s to Anna [Arasimowicz?] (b. 1903, New Briton, CT – dies 2005, Middletown, CT).

The question remains as to the meaning of “goat tag.” I do not see any heraldic significance of goat in Lithuanian town arms. Charles Grishkat may have been Capricorn astrological sign as one time he says he was born December.

Gene Brandenburg writes:

A saloon token ? This gets better & better.

Mike Packard found an obituary of Charles Grishkat's wife Anna, who remarried after his death. One of her granddaughters lived in Alexandria, VA: Anna Balascak (

Tom Kays writes:

In response to an enquiry from Gene Brandenburg regarding the origin and meaning of a “goat tag,” with “Charles Grishkat, 97 Court Street, Middleton Conn”, we note the awesome power of the E-Sylum readership.

Kay Olson Freeman responded with a biographical sketch of Charles J. Grishkat, born in Lithuania in 1881. He managed a saloon at 91 Court Street from 1912 – 1918. Mike Packard provided further information that Mr. Grishkat’s close relations survived to 2005.

Further speculation of the brass artifact found no heraldic significance to goat heads in Lithuanian town coats of arms. Whether Charles Grishkat was a Capricorn (December birth) remains unclear.

Now I have dog tags from persons and canines and brass cow tags from, not cows, but farmers who tag the poor cow’s ears, and this goat tag is of an intermediate size between canine and cow tag. Depicted is a critter with a shaggy lion’s mane and a zigzag to the bridge of its nose, seen in profile that no dog would own to. “Looks like a goat,” says I. A goat with a return address down the block from a saloon, operated by a fella’ from Lithuania way back before the Great War. We may know a biography of the Lithuanian bar keep, but what about his goat?

At the risk of being found self serving (Gene Brandenburg’s assertion) I submit, said goat, might have roamed, prone to widely wander Middleton, prompting the need for said “goat tag.” I was surprised this got into the E-Sylum, in fact, and should give a little history behind the “flim-flam” issue, Gene raises. In the past month Gene sold me a piece of wood said to have sheltered none other than George Washington, after he famously crossed the Delaware on Christmas, 1776, and an old French coin found by Gene’s grandson, five years ago in the foundation of an old building in “Olde Towne” Alexandria, perhaps left by a banker who couldn’t read French?

So when this odd brass tag appeared, I looked forward to the story that might account for it. For once, Gene’s well had run dry and he appealed to The E-Sylum readership to craft one. So far I haven’t been disappointed. Might we name the goat and determine why it got tagged? I collect numismatic objects with stories to them, and have given my good friend Gene a blank check for providing such things in the past. The better the story, the more digits he gets to write in. The real question is how many digits should this goat tag’s price command?

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: QUERY: WHO'S EVER SEEN A GOAT TAG? (


Harvey Stack sent in an image of an interesting old invitation to the opening of the Stack's "new" Coin Shop in 1942. Neat piece of numismatic ephemera! Harvey wrote about it in his blog this week - here's an excerpt. -Editor

1942 Invitation to the Opening of Stacks

Recently I published the story of the re-opening of the Stack's Coin Shop on West 57th Street in New York City, which had just completed a full refurbishing. Shortly afterward I received the invitation pictured here. It was sent to me from the son-in-law of a dear friend, colleague and super numismatist, who found it among the family's heirlooms.

It invited the recipient -- collector, dealer, numismatist -- to visit the opening of our new home at 12 West 46th Street, about 60 feet west of 5th Avenue. Joseph and Morton Stack bought the building so they could re-locate their shop from 32 West 46th Street to a somewhat larger facility that was also very close to Fifth Avenue. This invitation was dated December 1942.

To read the complete article, see: Remember When: An Invitation From 70 Years Ago! (


Here's another item that caught my eye in Joe Levine's email Token and Medal Mini sale List #38 (September 2012). Joe can be reached at -Editor

Mechanical dollar

MECHANICAL DOLLAR, 1900. Schornstein 909; Zerbe 135. 37mm. Brass. Bright AU. This piece is composed of a sheet metal shell with openings, and encloses a movable disc which is operated by a ring at the top. Part of the inscription is on the case and part on the movable disc. When the ring is moved, the inscription changes.

When the ring is at the 12:00 position, the obverse inscription reads I’M ALL RIGHT above a displayed eagle, and at bottom, PAT. JULY. 27-1897. When the ring is moved, the eagle’s head and right wing droops to the right and the inscription changes to, WHERE AM I AT?

When the ring is at the 12:00 position, the reverse inscription reads: GOLD STANDARD/ MEANS/ A DOLLAR WORTH/ 100 CENTS/ MACK, TEDDY/ AND PROSPERITY. When the ring is moved to the left, the inscription reads: FREE SILVER/ MEANS/ A DOLLAR/ WORTH/ 50 CENTS/ BRYANARCHY/ AND STEVENSON. In working order. $125.00


The Endangered Specie List
In last week's issue we excepted an article on the Death of Cash which included this statement:

Yet once these issues are sorted out -- and with so many billions at stake, they will be -- cash will find itself on the endangered-species list.

Bill Eckberg writes:

Wouldn't that be the "endangered specie" list?

How Curved "Scyphate" Coins Were Made
Bob Leonard writes:

Manuel I Comnenus - Billon-Aspron trachy - Constantinople - Christ - Virgin - Emperor Sear 1966 During the Comnenan and Paleologan dynasties, "scyphate" coins were often struck from four dies, as has been convincingly demonstrated (can provide references, but do not have them at hand). Used were curved left and right obverses and curved left and right reverses, and the coins were struck at an angle to provide a better curve. There are occasional mixups (I have one with two left obverse impressions, one rotated 180 degrees--and it is not unique) and nonmatching left and right dies.

But earlier they seem to have been struck either from two fully-curved dies, or struck flat, then annealed and dished the way coin spoons are made. Personally, I think that all three techniques were used in the Middle Ages, if not by the Byzantines, then by the Hungarians and others who also issued "scyphate" coins.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: MORE ON CURVED COINS (

Neil Utberg Obituary
COIN World news Editor Bill Gibbs writes;

Regarding the request for information about Neil S. Utberg, Coin World published an obituary in its May 11, 1983, issue. The obituary is short and focuses mostly on a list of publications. Our index lists about 20 articles related to Utberg, with most about the release of a new book or an updated edition of an existing work (though one story is about a fishing trip).

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: QUERY: INFORMATION ON AUTHOR NEIL S. UTBERG SOUGHT (

Unknown Bearded Numismatist Mystery Continues

Alan Stahl writes:

The unknown bearded numismatist in the Alones photo looks to me like Peter Lampinen, numismatist for the Caesarea excavations in Israel; compare:

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: SEPTEMBER 2, 2012: The Un-Named Bearded Wonder (

Kolbe-Fanning website ad2new


Web site visitor Richard C. Gascoyne, an elder of the First Presbyterian Church, Albany, submitted these questions about the famous Albany Church Penny. He did not have an image of the church's coin handy, so I've used a Heritage lot for illustration. -Editor

Albany Church Penny First Presbyterian Church, Albany, NY has for many years had one "Church Penny" (1790) stored in the safe. We have recently given it to the Albany Institute of History and Art in anticipation of the celebration of the 250th Anniversary of our founding (1763). We know precious little about the coin but have seen a great deal of speculation on its use and noticed that the last one to be sold at auction was in Jan. 2012 for $115,000 -- a pretty penny!

We have seen discussion of the coin sometimes describing it as a "communion token," a common practice in the Scots-Presbyterian tradition, but we feel confident that this coin is not for that purpose. Although communion tokens were used in the early history of our Albany church, there is also this reference, quoted from even earlier records of the church as follows: "It was resolved that one thousand coppers be stamped church penny, and placed in the hands of the treasurer, for the purpose of exchanging with the congregation at the rate of twelve for one shilling, in order to add respect to the weekly collections." (J. McClusky Blayney, History of the First Presbyterian Church of Albany, NY.; Lists of its Officers, and a Complete Catalogue of its Members From its Organization, Albany: Jenkins and Johnston, 1877). You mention this in one of your comments on the coin but from a source that is apparently quoting the Blayney source.

We are assuming that members of the congregation bought these pennies to put in the collection plate weekly, and that the purpose was to get money from congregants up-front whether or not they came to church and put them in the plate, and to recycle and resell the coins that were returned and put in the collection plate.

I have several questions about the coin:

1. Is the above assumption correct?
2. Are there other examples of church coins minted for a similar purpose either in the US or England/Scotland or anywhere?
3. Can you lead us to a full and definitive discussion of the Albany Church Penny?

An early attendee of our church was Alexander Hamilton, and it was our pastor, Eliphalet Nott, who delivered the funeral oration after his duel with Aaron Burr, who also attended the church, as did John Jay. That speech, many feel, was a deciding factor in the outlawing of dueling in the US. At the time of the issuing of this coin (1790) Alexander Hamilton was deeply involved, as you know, in getting the US Mint going. We feel that the value of this coin is in its continuing historical connection; it shows the wear of time, as it should.

I'm sure our readers may have additional information, but here's what I know. First, I agree that the Albany penny is not a communion token. The evidence points to these being made in response to a shortage of small change, allowing parishioners to donate affordable amounts and the church to collect funds they wouldn't otherwise.

The two most recent books on the topic of U.S. colonial coins seem to agree on that much. I consulted In Yankee Doodle's Pocket by Will Nipper (2008, p152) and the Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins by Q. David Bowers (2009, p240)

It may be a matter of speculation whether parishioners would explicitly exchange silver for coppers in advance, or simply take some change in pennies when dropping a silver coin in the collection plate.

Chapter 13 of Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins (1988) is titled "Church and Communion Tokens". It lists the two major types of Albany Church pennies as numbers 1169 and 1170. Numbers 1170 through 1183 are unfortunately unillustrated and although some are clearly communion tokens it is unclear if any served the same change-making purpose as the Albany pennies. The tokens are from New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Vermont. There may be more to be found about these tokens in numismatic periodicals such as The Colonial Newsletter.

In checking our E-Sylum archive I saw some inquiries in 2010 about the Albany Church Penny from (who else!) Eric P. Newman. So I forwarded Richard's inquiry to him. -Editor

Eric Newman writes:

About three or four years ago I was writing an article on the Albany Church Penny after finding something new and fascinating. I am fully familiar with the various varieties of paper Church money as detailed in my Early Paper Money of America book. The Albany Church Penny has a comical twist as well and also has a contribution to the history of printing.

Eric's book pictures a number of New York notes issued by churches in the 1790s, including a One Penny note of the German Reformed Church of Schohary and a Two Pence note of the Presbyterian Congregation in Troy. The New York chapter's bibliography lists these articles: Schenectady Church Money by George Korb (The Numismatist November 1939) and (most apropos) The Albany Committee of Correspondence Paper Money by Joseph Lasser (American Numismatic Society Museum Notes 31, 1986).

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: ALBANY CHURCH PENNY RESEARCH FOLLOWUP (


Richard Doty writes:

1817 Jola I thought of something regarding the 1817 Jola from San Antonio - the two straight breaks along the edge suggest that the flan might have been one of a number, cast in a line, then broken off for coining. Ancient Jewish bronzes were often manufactured in the same way. There's a French term, en chapelet, for this kind of process; the word 'chapelet' refers to something in a series, but it can also mean a rosary or a string on onions!

Interesting idea. What do readers think? Has anyone studied these coins extensively? Any theories on how they were made? ! I haven't seen many images of these, and have never seen a REAL one in person. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: RARE 1817 JOLAS SOLD BY SAN ANTONIO FINDER (


Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing submitted this question for E-Sylum readers. Can anyone help? -Editor

1878_7TF_1879_rev_morgan_dollar_obv Here at Whitman we’re working on an exciting new book with Karen Lee (curator of the National Numismatic Collection), about George T. Morgan. It’s a combination biography, art-history analysis, and page-by-page recreation of Morgan’s personal sketchbook, which naturally includes many coinage and medal designs. Previously unpublished designs, I might add (to titillate your readers)!

I want to include in the narrative a portrait of Charles William Fremantle, who was deputy master of the British Royal Mint when Henry Linderman was arranging to bring Morgan over to the States to work in Philadelphia. Fremantle was very important in nurturing the connection between Morgan and Linderman. (Of course, that’s just one part of the deputy master’s very important numismatic legacy.)

I’m wondering if any E-Sylum readers have a portrait of Fremantle, preferably from the 1870s, that they might share for inclusion in the book. Any help would be gratefully credited in the acknowledgments.

The National Portrait Gallery in London has a dry-plate glass negative by Alexander Bassano in its collection; unfortunately, Fremantle sat for the portrait in 1898, which is about 20 years past the timeframe I’m looking for (not to mention their imaging and licensing fees are prohibitively expensive). I have a call in to the historians at the British Royal Mint. But I know that American E-Sylum subscribers are a font of homegrown resources, and might have something in their voluminous personal archives.


George Cuhaj forwarded a note announcing upcoming exhibits of medals at New York's Medialia Gallery. Thanks! The web site doesn’t provide a lot of information about the exhibits or artists, but here's' what I could find. There was an opening reception for these exhibits last night (September 8th). Can anyone provide a report? -Editor

First, something about the gallery:

The gallery was established in 1992. Specializing in small, affordable works by international artists, including : book art, medallic sculpture, small sculpture, transformable sculpture, wearable sculpture, wall hangings. Work of gallery artists is exhibited on a continual basis, along with special one-person and group exhibitions by international artists.

Now here are the exhibits: -Editor

Medialia gallery Lettering exhibit

Medialia gallery Recent Medallic Sculpture exhibit

Medialia gallery The Medal in America II exhibit.PNG

To visit the Medialia Gallery web site, see:


Pete Smith writes:

The September 10 issue of Coin World had an article on pattern coins with a Martha Washington design. There is another form of such patterns that has not gotten much attention in the numismatic press.

On August 7 I toured the Philadelphia Mint while attending the ANA convention. The third floor gallery has examples of quarter size hubs, dies and struck coins. These had a Martha Washington "Nonsense" design. At a distance they look like normal "America the Beautiful" quarters. A closer look shows that they have Martha on the obverse rather than George. The reverse legends have jumbled lettering. According to my notes, the reverse design has the word "Nonsense" at the top.

I stood behind a Mother and son who were looking at the area that produced medals. The kid wanted to see the Olympic medals. I mentioned that the Olympic medals were not produced here and besides, the Olympics were in England. The kid went away muttering that he still wanted to see the Olympic medals.

I am one of those numismatists who thinks he knows more than the staff at the Mint. I picked out a number of errors. They had a Dickeson fantasy 1792 pattern in their exhibit with legitimate 1792 patterns. I believe this is one of the items on loan from the Frank Stewart collection. I talked with others who toured the Mint and found other errors.

Interesting! I'd be curious to see images of these "Nonsense" designs. Does anyone have any more information on these? Will they end up being listed in future editions of books on U.S pattern coins? -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: ARTICLE DISCUSSES U.S. MINT'S TEST DIES (


Paul Gilkes published great front-page article in the 2012-09-17 issue of Coin World about the new tour areas of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. Accompanying the article are some equally great photos. Here are a few that caught my eye. -Editor

US Mint Mosaic

The lobby of the Fourth Philadelphia Mint has mounted on its walls seven glass mosaic panels — two oblong and five round — executed under the direction of Louis B. Tiffany for display at the Third Philadelphia Mint on Spring Garden Street upon its opening in 1901.

The Favrile glass panels, made by designs from William B. Van Ingen, illustrate the ancient Roman methods and processes of coinage and were originally commissioned by the U.S. Mint at a cost of $40,000.

US Mint Peter the Eagle

Mezzanine displays include the stuffed American bald eagle, Peter, who lived at the Philadelphia Mint circa 1830 to 1836 and was let out each night to fly around the city of Philadelphia. Peter died when one of his wings was irreparably damaged after being caught in the flywheel of a coinage press on which he had perched.

Peter is said to have been Engraver Christian Gobrecht’s model for the silver dollars from 1836 through 1839.

US Mint Janvier machine This is the original Janvier reducing lathe introduced at the Philadelphia Mint in 1907 to cut the master dies from galvano models for the Saint-Gaudens gold coinage.

To read the complete article, see: Philadelphia Mint tours get new appearance (


Howard Berlin (a.k.a. The Numismatourist) submitted this report on his latest travels to the British Museum and the State Coin Collection in Munich, Germany. Thanks! -Editor

With the Summer season over, the Numismatourist is back on the road again. First stop (as is almost always the case) was London, at least when flying British Airways. But I had another reason – to finally see the new Citi Money Gallery at the British Museum. I’ve been in Londinium in the early Spring and even in late May trying to get Dr. Catherine Eagleton to let me sneak a quick peak at Room 68 during the renovation but to no avail.

British Museum Money Gallery hands-on table
The “Hands On” table manned by a museum docent at the Citi Money Gallery.

There have been several reports about the new gallery in Coin World, MünzenWoche, even in The E-Sylum, so I won’t repeat most of the details. In addition to the six display cases against both side walls, six floor mounted display cases, plus there was also a “Hands On” table manned by a museum docent. I was there on a Sunday and this table attracted a good amount of attention, especially by the young visitors curious about the various types of money they were able to actually handle instead of just seeing them behind the glass.

British Museum offering to Buddha
This vase and the 66 coins were part of an offering to Buddha

While Room 68 gets all the headlines, past and present, what does not seem to get a proper airing is that there are other rooms in the museum that have coins on display if you know where to look as they are integrated among the artifacts of the various sections as follows (with the exception of Room 69a):

Level -1: Room 34, The Islamic World
Level 1: Room 33, China, India, Asia and Southeast Asia
Level 2: Room 67, Korea
Level 3: Room 69, Greek and Roman Life
Level 3: Room 69a, Exhibitions and Changing Displays
Level 3: Room 70, Roman Empire
Level 3: Room 71, Etruscan World
Level 3: Room 73, Greeks in Italy

After leaving London, it was on to Munich, where I’ve been to several times before. I stopped by to see an acquaintance, Dr. Hubert Lanz. He heads the auction house, Numismatik Lanz which holds two public auctions a year. We first met at the American Numismatic Association convention in Chicago and again at this year’s ANA show in Philadelphia. After renewing acquaintances, I walked a few blocks to what is the “Residenz.” This complex served as the seat of government and residence of the Bavarian dukes, electors and kings from 1508 to 1918. The complex has been transformed by the rulers from what had begun as a castle in 1385 in what was the northeastern corner of the city walls, the Neuveste or new citadel, into a magnificent palatial complex.

Outside State Coin Collection Munich Today, the palace complex is a collection of museums, one of which is the State Coin Collection Munich, Germany’s second largest. At most of the entrances from the street are a pair of lions. There is a quirky superstitious custom or ritual that many people do as they pass by these lions. They rub one spot, which is a small lion’s head, for good luck. This is the only spot on all of the statues that is shiny - the rest is blackened.

Gallery State Coin Collection Munich
Gallery room for the coins of the middle ages and the
modern era of the State Coin Collection Munich

The numismatic museum is on the first floor (2nd level for us Americans). Its director, Dr. Friedrich Klose, was on vacation and one of his assistants, Dr. Martin Hirsch, helped me in his place. The collection’s exhibition occupies four rooms – one room for a temporary exhibition, from which lead to the entrances to the other three rooms for the permanent exhibits: Room II - medals, plaques, and cut stones; Room III – ancient coins and cut stones; Room IV - coins of the middle ages and the modern era.

From Munich I traveled to Nürnberg (Nuremberg, in English). There I visited Germany’s largest museum, the Germanisches Nationalmuseum. The director in charge of the numismatic collection, Dr. Matthias Nuding was away but arranged for me to be guided by one of his assistants. Although many museums have large numismatic collections, some choose not to exhibit their collection to any great extent if at all. Fortunately some of the National Museum’s collection is on display in three areas: Pre- and ancient history: mainly Roman coins; Art and culture form late antiquity to the 15th century: medieval coins (which was being renovated currently); and Art and culture form late antiquity to the 15th century, consisting of medals.

I decided ahead of the time while in Nürnberg to take a day trip to Dresden to visit Germany’s third largest coin cabinet at the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen (State Art Collections) Dresden, or SKD. It’s a 4-hour, 15-minute train ride each way. I met with Dr. Wilhem Hollstein, an assistant to Dr. Rainer Grund, the Münzkabinett director, who was away on a jury in medal art in Halle that day. The SKD has about 300,000 items in its collection and the 30,000 library is open to the public on Wednesday – advance appointments are recommended. I needed details about SKD’s Münzkabinett for my book which I couldn’t wait until November when the trip from Berlin would have been much shorter.


Michael Alexander published a nicely illustrated article on Coin Update this week on a new gallery of Danish coins on display at the National Bank of Denmark. Here are some excerpts. Be sure to read the whole article online for more. -Editor

As the Royal Danish Mint settles into their new home – occupying a section of the production floor previously and exclusively used for the printing of Danish banknotes – the National Bank of Denmark has launched a new gallery of Danish coins featuring all of the coinage produced under the auspices of the National Bank since 1818. Invited guests, including the interior designer of the National Bank’s lobby and the newly appointed Director of the Royal Mint were in attendance to a special reception for the launch event on the 21st August. The gallery, which is a permanent inclusion in the main lobby is a specially built, pressurized, and atmosphere-controlled cabinet which spans the length of the wall it is affixed to and includes all coins minted since the National Bank was made overseer of the Mint, taking over from the Treasury - also the year of the official establishment of the Danish National Bank.

To read the complete article, see: National Bank of Denmark Inaugurates New Permanent Coin Gallery (


DAVID SKLOW - FINE NUMISMATIC BOOKS offers Mail Bid Sale No. 17 on October 6, 2012, including: Rare 1913 Official Convention Photograph of the Detroit ANA PH: (719) 302-5686, FAX: (719) 302-4933. EMAIL: USPS: Box 6321, Colorado Springs, CO. 80934. Contact me for your numismatic literature needs!


Web site visitor Ronald Dicicco writes:

Can you tell me anything about this coin? I know it was given to guests at the Vatican for some special affair. The Lorioli silver mark is just under the 1980 at about nine o'clock. The case is original.

Pope John Paul II commemorative obverse Pope John Paul II commemorative reverse

From the lettering I can read, this looks like a commemorative about the foreign travels of Pope John Paul II. I know nothing else. Any experts in Papal coins out there? Any idea of the mintage? I also suggested checking the company web site, The site has an online database of Italian medal designers and another section lists for sale several books on Italian medals. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles on Lorioli, see: ITALIAN MAKER OF PAPAL AND RELIGIOUS MEDALS: LORIOLI FRATELLI (


Stephen Pradier and Dick Hanscom forwarded this Daily Mail article on UK bank note auction. -Editor

Stuckeys Somersetshire bank £5 note

The biggest collection of provincial British bank notes ever assembled is to be sold and could net its owner a whopping £1.5 million.

David Kirch, a multi-millionaire whose charitable giving is legendary, has decided to cash in his immense collection of 4,000 notes and give the proceeds to the elderly.

Between the late 18th century and 1921 provincial banks across the country produced their own notes.

All corners of Britain are represented in the collection that is so big it is having to be sold in a series of auctions.

The collection has taken about 30 years to assemble and is being sold along with Mr Kirch’s collection of 350 Bank of England notes, which is worth about £2million.

Many people are unaware that almost every town had its own bank that issued notes to be used in the locality.

'I used to get so excited when a note came up that I didn’t have that I had to go and get it. Some were bargains and others I paid too much for, but they evened out. I enjoy the fun of collecting and got carried away and when I wanted a note I just couldn’t let it go.

Barnaby Faull, from London auctioneers Spinks, said that the notes date approximately from the 1790s to the 1920s but most are from the 1820s and 1830s when many banks went bust.

The provincial notes will be sold in four sales starting with the south and south west region, with the first sale on October 10. All proceeds will be going to the David Kirch Charitable Trust.

To read the complete article, see: The Glastonbury and Shepton Mallet fiver: How provincial banks used to print their own notes and now they're worth millions (

It was just a couple weeks ago that we had an article about Barnaby Faull of Spink. The banknote expert has made another great catch. -Editor




Loren Gatch writes:

Time Banks tend not to produce paper currencies because they are ledger-based barter arrangements, rather like Local Exchange Trading Systems, or LETS. In the U.S. at least, there was a spate of labor hour-based paper currencies issued beginning in the late 1980s and into the 1990s. Ithaca (NY) HOURS is the most prominent example of these. Most of these are now defunct. More recent local currency schemes have simply adopted the U.S. dollar as their unit of account.

The panoply of "complementary currency" undertakings is documented quite closely by their practitioners. Anyone interested in them can go to to get a sense of the global variety. There's also an online journal, the International Journal of Community Currency Research ( that publishes on the theory, history, and practice of local monies.

I wasn't aware of these web sites. The site includes a gallery of over 300 images. Check it out via the link below. The images shown here were provided by Loren. Thanks! -Editor


Dillo Hour Burlington Bread

To visit the image gallery, see:



We missed the original story about these Swedish mystery coins in June, but now the mystery has been solved. Thanks to Coin Update for publishing the link. -Editor


An artist has come clean and admitted to being behind the fake one krona coins which defame Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf, claiming that it was all part of an art project.

"Yes, it is me behind the coins. I have done it myself and have sought expert help when I have needed it," the artist told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) daily.

The mystery of the unorthodox coins began to gather pace after they began to surface in the money system during the summer.

Instead of the usual “Carl XVI Gustaf Sveriges Konung” ('Carl XVI Gustaf Sweden’s King'), the text written around the image of the King's head on each coin read “Vår horkarl till Kung”, which translates roughly into English as “Our whorer of a King”.

The artist told the newspaper that it had always been the intention to come forward but was awaiting the correct preparation.

The reactions to the coins were the crucial part of the art work, the artist explained. Interest and debate has been substantial, both in Sweden and abroad.

The flip side of the coins is indistinguishable from the real coins and experts recently concluded that the forgery seemed professionally done.

Specialist equipment has been used to hollow out one whole side of the coin all the way out to the edges, removing the image of the king’s face, SvD reported.

In the hollowed out space remaining, the forgers have inserted their own pre-cut image of the king together with the new defamatory text, soldered into place, and sharpened the grooves.

The coin's royal insult is an apparent reference to the King's rumoured infidelities detailed in a tell-all biography of the king published in late 2010.

The book, entitled “Carl XVI Gustaf - Den motvillige monarken” (‘Carl XVI Gustaf - The reluctant monarch’), included a rare and detailed look into the King’s private life, including details of love affairs, wild parties with Swedish models, and connections to the underworld.

A couple of samples of the coins are currently on display at the National Museum of Economy in Stockholm.

To read the complete article, see: Artist owns up to 'whorer' king coin mystery (

To read the earlier article, see: Fake krona coin mocks 'whorer' Swedish king (


We've written in the past about Dickin Medals, awarded to animals who exhibit bravery, often in the service with the police or military. This Daily Mail article discusses the latest award. -Editor

Dog awarded Dickin medal An Army sniffer dog has been posthumously awarded the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

Theo, a 22-month-old springer spaniel cross, will receive the PDSA Dickin Medal for life-saving bravery in conflict.

He suffered a fatal seizure just hours after his handler, Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, 26, was shot dead by the Taliban in March 2011.

The pair uncovered 14 bombs and hoards of weapons in five months on the front line - more than any other dog and handler in the conflict.

Military chiefs hailed them for saving the lives of countless British soldiers in Afghanistan. L/Cpl Tasker’s family were last night ‘delighted’ to hear that Theo has received the posthumous gallantry award, which are handed out sparingly by the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals

His mother Jane Duffy, 53, said her family were ‘ecstatic.’

‘We are so, so happy and really, really excited,’ she said. ‘Absolutely delighted.’ ‘It means so much because Liam put Theo forward for the medal when he was in Afghanistan, before he was killed, because he was so good.

She hopes to travel to London to receive the Dickin Medal with husband Jimmy, 48, son Ian, 30, and daughters Laura, 21, and Nicola, 15.

Dickin medal Here's an image of a Dicken Medal from an earlier E-Sylum article. -Editor

To read the complete article, see: A medal of courage for bomb dog Theo: Posthumous award for heroic animal who died hours after his master (


Listen to your mother - PLEASE don't throw away that ratty old painting with the "RENOIR" label... It’s non-numismatic, but still a collector's dream. -Editor

Renoir Flea Market Find An auction house can never anticipate what might come through the door. Elizabeth Haynie Wainstein, owner of The Potomack Company, announces that a Virginia woman's flea market find - a lost Renoir painting the auction house recently revealed - will be for sale at the gallery's September 29th catalogue auction. The Potomack Company's fine arts specialist, Anne Norton Craner, determined that the painting which had been purchased along with a box of random items in the Shenandoah Valley was actually a work by Pierre-Auguste Renoir worth many times more than its purchase price.

"When I removed the painting from the plastic bag it was stored in, I saw that its radiant plein air quality – the rapid brush strokes, the vibrant purple and pink colors, the Seine as subject matter and the luminous light reminded me immediately of Renoir's 1879 Landscape of Wargemont," said Craner. Her further investigation confirmed the painting as Paysage Bords de Seine, one of Renoir's many river scenes painted along the Seine River near the towns of Bougival and Chatou.

"A Shenandoah Valley woman was out enjoying a weekend day at a flea market and purchased a box of miscellaneous items," said Wainstein. "What had actually caught her eye in the box wasn't the valuable Renoir but a plastic cow and a Paul Bunyan doll. She stored the rest of the box's contents first in a white plastic bag in a shed, later in her car's trunk and eventually in her kitchen."

The painting's owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, told The Potomack Company, "I was more interested in the frame than the landscape and started taking it apart. I tore the brown paper off the back and threw it in the trash. When I asked my mom for help, she told me to get it looked at first before I threw it away. Low and behold, she was right! It does pay to listen to your mother."

A lot of these supposed flea market finds turn out to be scams, but stranger things have happened. It'll be interesting to see how the story turns out. -Editor

To read the complete article, see: Possible Renoir found: Virginia woman's flea market find for sale at Potomack Company (


Dave Bowers forwarded this Reuters articles from Chicago. I didn't even know there WERE Spongebob coins (don't tell my kids)! -Editor

SpongeBob-Coin When Peregrine Financial Group collapsed in July after revelations its chief executive allegedly stole client money for years, it was not just customer assets of the futures brokerage that went missing.

Some 76 sets of silver coins sporting the image of cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants were also unaccounted for, according to a note buried deep in a filing by Peregrine Financial's bankruptcy trustee late Thursday. Thirty-nine ounces of gold were also missing.

At Friday's prices, the gold would fetch about $66,000; the missing commemorative SpongeBob coin sets, minted in New Zealand, have a total retail value of about $20,000. Compared with the $215 million in customer money that regulators allege were wrongly siphoned from the firm by its CEO, Russell Wasendorf Sr., the value of the missing metals is marginal.

To read the complete article, see: Silver SpongeBob coins missing from defunct firm's assets (


This week's Featured Web Page is Medallic Art in the Great War by Scott Miller, from the Medialia Gallery web site.

MEDALLIC ART IN THE GREAT WAR, Curated by Scott Miller. Featuring selections from the collections of David Fleischmann, Dr. Jay Galst, Scott Miller, Dr. Ira Rezak, Donald Scarinci, David Simpson, and Frederic Withington

WWI medals

I asked Scott Miller about a catalog of the exhibit. He writes:

The printed catalogue is in the works. I submitted the corrected manuscript a few days ago and hope it will be sent to the printer in the near future. I will keep you informed regarding actual publication date and availability.

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