The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

PREV        NEXT        V19  2016  INDEX         E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

About Us

The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization devoted to the study and enjoyment of numismatic literature. For more information please see our web site at


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


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

To join, print the application and return it with your check to the address printed on the application. Membership is only $20 to addresses in the U.S., $25 for First Class mail, and $30 elsewhere. For those without web access, write to:

Terry White, Treasurer
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
P. O. Box 39 Hilliard, OH 43026-1278s


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


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

NNP pagecount 140,418


Volume 19, Number 08, February 21, 2016


Wayne Homren

New subscribers this week include: Michael Hicks, Angel Antonio Vidal, John Agre, Brian Morgan, Antonio Henares, Dario Calomino, John Brush, and Nico Ribbens. Welcome aboard! We now have 1,948 subscribers.

This week we open with a new issue of The Asylum, a Kolbe & Fanning fixed price list, a couple new books, and another numismatic journal available on the Newman Numismatic Portal.

Other topics include how to build a numismatic library, new members of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, a 'Jefferson Cent', a Columbia Shield, Chinese coin dies, Japanese Invasion Money, 'Hell Money', and a first-hand account of the Trial of the Pyx.

To learn more about, Augustin Dupré's role in French coinage, recoining uncurrent coins, dealer Charles Enders, Jr., foreign coins circulating in New York, damnatio memoriae, the gunpowder note, bookbinder recommendations, the 'wrong-way' Buffalo nickel and the burning of $1M in rare U.S. banknotes, read on. Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Editor, The E-Sylum


The editor of our print journal, David Yoon, sends this report on the latest issue. Thanks! -Editor

Asylum v33n4 Another issue of The Asylum is at the printers. Here are the contents:

  • Editor’s Introduction
  • David Yoon, “The First ‘Catalogue’ of the ANS Library”
  • Ray Williams, “My First Experience Writing for The Numismatist"
  • Joel J. Orosz, “A Modest Exoneration of B. Max Mehl’s ‘Hazeltine Type Table’"
  • David F. Fanning, "Off the Shelf: Huttich’s 1537 Work on the Roman Republic"

While The E-Sylum is free to all, only paid members of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society receive our print journal, The Asylum. Membership is only $20 to addresses in the U.S., $25 for First Class mail, and $30 elsewhere. -Editor

To join NBS or renew your annual membership, see:

NBS Do You Love Coin Book card ad


David Fanning forwarded this note about the new fixed price catalogue from Kolbe & Fanning. Thanks. -Editor

Kolbe-Fanning February 2016 catalog Kolbe & Fanning are pleased to announce the availability of their latest catalogue, a fixed-price offering of rare and out-of-print numismatic books from around the world. Featuring works on ancient, medieval and modern topics, the short-but-sweet catalogue (36 lots) aims to include a wide variety of material. To download the catalogue, vista our website at

The catalogue is being published only in PDF form. No printed catalogue will be issued. It is being distributed first to those customers of ours who have signed up for our email list. You can sign up for our mailing list on our website at Kolbe & Fanning hope to issue similar fixed-price PDF catalogues throughout the upcoming year, so make sure you are among the first to know of them: most items offered are one of a kind.

A few highlights from this initial offering include:

--A rare early American article by John Allan on coins and medals, unlisted by Attinelli

--An extraordinary volume of pamphlets by Augustin Dupré regarding his role in French coinage, from the library of the author

--The 1896 Montagu sale in original wraps, with exceptional plates.

John Allan article 1839 1896 Montagu sale
John Allan article; 1896 Montagu sale

Augustin Dupre bound volume Augustin Dupre article Observations
Volume of pamphlets by Augustin Dupré

Download the catalogue at this direct link:

Please email David Fanning at or call our office at (614) 414-0855 to purchase lots. We look forward to hearing from you.


Georges Depeyrot submitted this notice of a special promotional offer for twelve volumes of his publications of International Monetary Conferences. Thanks. -Editor

Special Promotion on 12 reports of International Monetary Conference published from 1867 to 1893. These volumes, in English or French, analyse the economic, monetary and political situation of the world, publish the most important testimonies from bankers, politicians and industrialists of the time. These are condensed Economic and Monetary excellent time. This is the excellence of the economic and monetary analysis of the moment.

12 volumes (3.228 pages) at 680 euros (instead of 970 euros)

1867 Report of the International Conference on Weights, Measures, and Coins and Report of the Master of the Mint and Mr. Rivers Wilson on the International Monetary Conference held in Paris, June 1867 (London, 1868), G. Depeyrot, Collection Moneta, 117, Wetteren, 2011, IV + 80 + 2* p. ISBN 978-90-77297-85-8 (euros 40)

1868 Report of the Royal Commission on International Coinage together with the Minutes of Evidence and Appendix (London, 1868), G. Depeyrot, ed., Collection Moneta, 118, Wetteren, 2011, IV + 396 + 6* p. ISBN 978-90-77297-86-5 (euros 75)

1874 Conférence monétaire entre la Belgique, la France, l'Italie et la Suisse (Paris, 1874), Conférence monétaire entre la Belgique, la France, l'Italie et la Suisse (Paris, 1875), G. Depeyrot ed., Collection Moneta, 146, Wetteren, 2012, IV + 206 + 3* p. ISBN 978-94-91384-14-1 (euros 70)

1878 Conférence monétaire internationale de 1878, Procès-verbaux (Paris, 1878), G. Depeyrot ed., Collection Moneta, 147, Wetteren, 2012, IV + 238 + 3* p. ISBN 978-94-91384-15-8 (euros 80)

1878 Conférence monétaire entre la Belgique, la France, la Grèce, l'Italie et la Suisse de 1878, Convention et Procès-verbaux (Paris, 1878), G. Depeyrot ed., Collection Moneta, 148, Wetteren, 2012, VI + 198 + 12 + 3* p. ISBN 978-94-91384-16-5 (euros 75)

1881 Ministère des Affaires Étrangères, Conférence monétaire internationale, avril – mai 1881, Procès-verbaux (Paris, 1881), G. Depeyrot ed., Collection Moneta, 158, Wetteren, 2013, VI + 354 + 3* p. ISBN 978-94-91384-26-6 (euros 90)

1881 Ministère des Affaires Étrangères, Conférence monétaire internationale, juin – juillet 1881, Procès-verbaux (Paris, 1881), G. Depeyrot ed., Collection Moneta, 159, Wetteren, 2013, VII + 238 + 3* p. ISBN 978-94-91384-27-1 (euros 75)

1881 Translation of the Procès-verbaux of the Paris International Monetary Conference of 1881 (London, 1881), Correspondence with the India Office on the subject of the Conference (London, 1881), G. Depeyrot ed., Collection Moneta, 160, Wetteren, 2013, X + 236 + 6* p. ISBN 978-94-91384-28-8 (euros 85)

1885 Ministère des Affaires Étrangères, Conférence monétaire entre la Belgique, la France, la Grèce, l'Italie et la Suisse en 1885, Convention et Procès-verbaux (Paris, 1885), G. Depeyrot ed., Collection Moneta, 163, Wetteren, 2013, VI + 324 + 4* p. ISBN 978-94-91384-31-8 (euros 100)

1892 Conférence monétaire internationale, Procès-verbaux (Bruxelles, 1892), G. Depeyrot ed., Collection Moneta, 164, Wetteren, 2013, X + 440 + 4* p. ISBN 978-94-91384-32-5 (euros 125)

1892 International Monetary Conference, Brussels, 1892, Instructions to the Delegates of Great Britain and their report together with the Proceedings of the Conference (London, 1893), G. Depeyrot ed., Collection Moneta, 165, Wetteren, 2013, X + 236 + 4* p. ISBN 978-94-91384-33-2 (euros 85)

1893 Conférence monétaire entre la Belgique, la France, la Grèce l'Italie et la Suisse en 1893, Arrangement et procès-verbaux (Paris, 1894), G. Depeyrot ed., Collection Moneta, 166, Wetteren, 2013, VI + 148 + 4* p. ISBN 978-94-91384-34-9 (euros 70)

For more information, or to order, see:
14 Days Promotion (

Fred Weinberg ad01.png


Darren Burgess, President of the Numismatic Association of Victoria submitted this note about a new book on the coinage of Australia. Thanks! -Editor

Inside the Vault_HR_Cover The mention of Valentines Day in the editorial of the latest E-Sylum prompted me to drop you a line regarding a new coffee table book that's just been released here in Australia. "Why Valentines Day?" you may ask, well 50 years ago, on February 14th 1966, Australia finally went decimal.

There has been lots of press coverage in relation to the anniversary including an article in The Melbourne Age on the design process, highlighting the work of Australian artist Stuart Devlin; an article in the Canberra Times regarding the possible alternative names of the currency; and an article in the Sydney Morning Herald proclaiming the (not so) imminent demise of the 5 cent piece.

All of the articles make reference to Peter Ree's new book, Inside the Vault: The History and Art of Australian Coinage , the release of which is covered in more detail in the Press Release from the Royal Australian Mint.

I've ordered my copy and will look to provide a review once it lands with a resounding thump on my desk.

Here's an excerpt from the press release. -Editor

“As we commemorate 50 years of decimal currency, it is important to recognise all who worked so hard to make this anniversary a reality. This book, Inside the Vault, is bursting with insights and stories about Australian coins and the characters behind them. I congratulate Peter on a read that brings our coins and their role in our nation’s development to life,” said the Governor-General.

The Assistant Minister to the Treasurer the Hon Alex Hawke MP said the book was the story of an important historic milestone and complimented the Royal Australian Mint for its commitment to the production of Inside the Vault in 2016, aligning its publication with the 50th anniversary of decimal currency celebrations.

“This history of modern Australian currency has never been told in such detail. Peter Rees has ensured that all of the key developments over more than 200 years are told to unify the story,” said Mr Hawke.

“The history and art of currency is fascinating, yet it has never before been captured in a detailed chronological story, making Inside the Vault such an enjoyable and worthwhile project.”

Peter Rees said Inside the Vault tells not just the story of Australian currency, but also celebrates its unique role in the nation’s past.

“Through interviews with numismatists and wider research, including contact with national institutions, I was able to trace the symbolic journey that coins in Australia have taken.” said Mr Rees.

Inside the Vault follows Australia’s coinage story from the First Fleet, the Rum Rebellion, the role that a convicted forger played in developing Australia’s first dollar currency, the gold rushes, Federation, the story of the elusive 1930 penny, the opening of the Royal Australian Mint, and the behind-the scenes conflict in the move to decimal currency in the 1960s.”

“The book also tells us the story of recent circulating and collectible products in the Mint’s collection and looks at the future of coins.”

Officially launched at the Royal Australian Mint on 11 February 2016 with readings by Mr Rees, Inside the Vault, produced by NewSouth Publishing, is available for purchase for $59.99 via the Mint's eShop.

For more information, or to order, see:

To read the complete press release, see:
Governor-General revisits 50 years of decimal currency at launch of new book (

To read the complete articles, see:
Coin designer Stuart Devlin reflects on decimal currency's 50th anniversary (
50 years of dollars and cents - The Royal Australian Mint celebrates the 50th anniversary of the change to decimal currency (
Not making cents: five cent coin doomed after 50 years of decimal currency (


With the first three sales of the legendary Pogue collection of U.S. coins behind us, author Q. David Bowers reflected on the collection in his Stacks-Bowers blog this week, where he also announced plans for a new book, a sylloge of the collection. -Editor

Pogue Collection First Three Sale Catalogs

Every now and again an event happens in numismatics that is pivotal, that captures the attention and imagination of the whole nation, sometimes the whole world, and is not likely to be ever repeated. As I reflect on the excitement generated by our recent D. Brent Pogue Collection Part III sale at Sotheby’s, I can count my long-time association with Brent Pogue and our recent showcasing of the collections as such an event -- added to such memories as the 1962 Treasury release of rare silver dollars, our sale of the Louis E. Eliasberg Collection (the only complete collection American coins ever formed), the Norweb family and their collection, Harry W. Bass, Jr. and his coins, and the incredible distribution of treasure coins from the S.S. Central America. This, of course, is a short list -- I could add many more people, places, and things.

I first met Brent Pogue and his father in the 1970s when they were just starting to collect coins. Fast forward through the years, and they were familiar figures at auctions and other events as well as being fine friends. It was a unique honor in 2014 when Stack’s Bowers Galleries was selected to showcase the Pogue Collection at auction. As we have done before when an occasion merits it, I and the entire SBG staff set about creating not a series of auction sales, but a worldwide program to include the auctions, but also to include reference books (two in print so far, with the third in progress as you read these words), educational forums, displays of selected Pogue coins far beyond the borders of the United States, media interviews, and more.

Many examples come to mind -- such as the British Broadcasting Corporation featuring the Pogue coins, Forbes magazine publishing a multi-page color spread on Brent Pogue and the collection, exhibitions and sales at the international headquarters of Sotheby’s and more. It was a team effort. I have had the easy part, in a way, from the comfort of my desk doing a lot of research, writing, and editing. Others have traveled widely—such as Larry Stack and Melissa Karstedt in Europe, Brian Kendrella making countless arrangements, program manager (as I like to call her) Chris Karstedt traveling here, there, and everywhere, constantly interfacing with the Pogue family, bidders and buyers, and more. John Kraljevich as the main cataloger has created dynamic paragraphs of useful information, whereas some others might have thought a quick sentence would have sufficed.

This effort has paid off. While the world changes and swirls around us, buyers and bidders worldwide have tapped into the excitement and dynamism of the Pogue Collection sales. Strong, often record prices and wide participation have put the first three auctions in the record books. Added to this, those who have been a part of the program, including the Stack’s Bowers Galleries staff as well as bidders, buyers, and interested observers, have had once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

The above said, now I go back to working on the third of the Pogue Collection books: the Sylloge or definitive text listing and describing each of the coins, to be published after the final sale. The first part of the book will tell of numismatics and life in America, with emphasis on the years from 1792 to the mid-19th century, the era of specialty for most of the Pogue coins.

To read the complete article, see:
Reflections on the First Three Pogue Collection Sales (

CDN Publishing ad01 Pricing Tools


Dick Johnson submitted this note about an upcoming change to "Mega Red", the deluxe plus-sized version of the classic Redbook, A Guide Book of United States Coins. Thanks. -Editor

2016_Cover_RedBook_Deluxe It’s one tiny step for medal collectors, one giant step for So-Called Dollars. I learned this week that a select group of these silver-dollar size medals will be listed in the next edition of the Mega Red Book, the deluxe version of the standard classic of American coins, published by Whitman and edited by good friend Ken Bressett.

Makes sense. The original concept for these coin-like medals was to be as close to a silver dollar as possible without, of course, a denomination and the intent to circulate as money.

Some of these medals were actually struck at the Philadelphia Mint, others on Mint equipment hauled off to an exposition, fair grounds, or even a parade. They were extremely popular at the 1876 American Centennial Expo, the 1893 Chicago World‘s Fair, the 1904 St. Louis Exposition and the 1915 San Francisco Pan-Pacific. International Expo.

Medal maven Jeff Shevlin, recognized as the top specialist in this medallic specialty, was chosen to compile the 18-page section for the 2017 Deluxe Red Book. Jeff had the daunting task of selecting 60 so-called dollars to be listed from a population of more than 1,100 medals.

“Since the Red Book covers U.S. coins,” Jeff tells me of his selection process, “I focused on so-called dollars that had a relationship with the U.S. Mint, either designed or engraved by a U.S. Mint employee, such as Barber, Morgan or St. Gaudens, or struck by the Mint at one of the dozens of expositions it set up at.

“I selected about 45 that fall in that category, and could have selected more, but I also wanted a good cross section of other so-called dollars,” he relates.

That decision included the Erie Canal Completion Medal of 1826, the earliest in this medallic series and of historical importance. This medal is HK 1 in the standard catalog, compiled by Harold Hibler and Charles Kappen and published in 1963. These medals will forever be known by their Hibler-Kappen “HK” catalog numbers.

While the term was first used by numismatists early in the twentieth century -- for Bryan Money and Lesher Dollars – so-called dollars weren’t cataloged until 1953 when Wayte Raymond published a list of 181 compiled by one-time ANS curator Richard Kenney.

The HK book listed 1,098 varieties. However, it should be noted the criteria for inclusion in the definition of so-called dollars has shifted over the years. Shevlin estimates there could be more than 500 varieties which could be “unlisted” through 1964.

We welcome the new sampling of these medals in the Deluxe Red Book to be available in April. The introduction of medals to coin collectors will, perhaps, discover an entirely new collecting field, crossing the bridge between coins and medals. The world of medal collecting awaits your interest!

This is good news for the medal collecting segment of our population; this will give more visibility to the series among dealers and advanced collectors. I'll look forward to seeing the next edition. -Editor


The latest addition to the Newman Numismatic Portal is the journal of the Missouri Numismatic Society. Project Coordinator Len Augsburger provided the following report. Thanks! -Editor

Missouri Journal of Numismatics July 2007 The Newman Portal has scanned the Missouri Journal of Numismatics, the journal of the Missouri Numismatic Society (MNS). Formed in 1938, Eric P. Newman was a charter member and an officer, in the earliest days, of the Society. His membership number, #4, was drawn out of a hat at the inaugural meeting. The current Journal has been issued annually since 1976.

The early issues served to promote the MNS Annual Coin Festival, held each summer, and also featured serial installments on Missouri tokens and medals. This is a recurrent theme in the Journal, with the 2007 edition noting “the editor encourages reader assistance in locating, attributing, and documenting the historical significance of numismatic items relating to Missouri.” The Newman Portal wishes to thank Chris Sutter and Kathy Skelton of the MNS for their assistance.

To view the Missouri Journal of Numismatics on Internet Archive:, see:


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


In a blog article published February 12, 2016, Scott Hopkins of Ottawa, Canada writes about building a numismatic library. -Editor

Scott Hopkins What makes a great numismatic library? How many books do you need to learn about coins and be a great numismatist? My numismatic library contains hundreds of titles. Some collectors have thousands of books, magazines, auction catalogs, and price lists in their libraries. Most casual coin collectors just have a handful of basic books.

Whether you are casual coin collector or seeking to be an expert, this is your guide to building a proper numismatic library. The goal is to tailor it for your needs as well as your expected needs as your collection grows.

We all started somewhere, with that one book. For many of us it was the Redbook or one of the many thick and heavy books produced by Krause Publications to teach us about coins and banknotes of the world. These books were enough to whet our palate, but sure enough there came a day in which we began to specialize on a topic, or even branch into a topic not covered in the typical books such as: tokens, medals, or exonumia. Some of us were just so fascinated by numismatics that we began amassing everything on the topic. Bibliomania meets numismatics.

Is one book really enough? If you are just a casual collector then one book might be enough. However, if you are going to be investing a lot of time and money in coins, developing a particular fascination with a country, series, or theme you would be best to add much more to your library.

One reason that one book is not enough is that it is written to a particular reader from a particular source(s). The desired reading audience may not match your reading style; too broad or too in depth versus too casual or too academic. So too the authors voice may not fit your particular style.

Another important reason relates to the information available to that author at that time. Two authors writing on the exact same topic at the exact same time will have different references as a result of their access to the information they’re writing about.

One example I can think of from my own experience in writing a catalog on food stamp change tokens is the ability to have access to major collections. Most collectors have been appreciative and contributing to the project. Still, a fair number would prefer not to contribute their research or share photos of examples in their collections. Some of the collectors I have secured permission from may not allow permission to a different author and vice versa.

Numismatic books are constantly updated with new information that was previously unavailable to the previous generation. Thus books in their second and third editions are often dramatically different than that first edition. Does that make the first edition obsolete?

Historic numismatic books (and those who have been significantly updated) are important because they frame the history of the hobby and where we’ve come, with a glimpse at where we are going. Serious numismatists use them to make discoveries on long hidden or misunderstood topics like the fascinating topic of die engravers. Many investors use them to track the value of a particular coin and seek to chart where it might be heading. Personally, I use certain early editions to track the understanding of rarity for a given variety.

Is one book really enough? Is 100? Or 1,000? Be sure to read the complete version online. Scott goes on to recommend some essential books and gives a nice shout-out for The E-Sylum. Thanks! -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
How to Build a Numismatic Library that Provides Joy for a Lifetime (


E-Sylum contributors Steve Roach and Dennis Tucker have been appointed to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC). Congratulations! This is a big job with an important position of influence on U.S. coinage. Good luck! Here's an article about their appointments from Coin World, published February 16, 2016. -Editor

Steve Roach and Dennis Tucker
Left: Steve Roach; Right: Dennis B. Tucker

Steve Roach and Dennis B. Tucker are the newest members of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.

Roach, editor-at-large-for Coin World, and Tucker, publisher for Whitman Publishing Company, participated in their first meeting Feb. 16 reviewing designs for the 2017 Ellis Island National Monument and Effigy Mounds National Monument quarter dollars.

Both Roach and Tucker were nominated by U.S. Mint Principal Deputy Director Matthew Rhett Jeppson. Their appointments to four-year terms were approved Feb. 3 by Deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin.

Roach, representing the general public, fills the vacancy created by the departure of Gary Marks, whose second four-year term expired in October 2015. Tucker, appointed as a member specially qualified in numismatics, fills the vacancy created by the expiration of the term of Dr. Michael Bugeja.

Steve Roach
Roach holds a bachelor of arts degree in history of art and in organizational studies from the University of Michigan and a law degree from The Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law.

Roach joined the staff of Coin World in 2009 as associate editor and was elevated to editor-in-chief in 2012. Roach moved to editor-at-large in 2015. Roach also operates appraisal and advisory services.

Before joining Coin World, Roach served as a specialist in 19th century European paintings at Christie's; director of the trusts and estates department at Heritage Auctions; a rare coin grader at ANACS; and a rare coin specialist at Heritage.

Roach has been a featured speaker on and instructor in a variety of numismatic specialties.

Roach holds life memberships in the American Numismatic Association, Central States Numismatic Society, and Michigan State Numismatic Society, and is a member of Florida United Numismatists, Numismatic Literary Guild and Society of Professional Journalists.

Dennis B. Tucker
Tucker holds bachelors degrees in humanities and social sciences and political science from the University of Rochester.

Tucker has been publisher at Whitman since 2004. Prior to joining Whitman, Tucker held a number of journalistic and communications positions in New York and Georgia.

Tucker has an extensive numismatic publication profile, both in writing and editing. Tucker has also presented an extensive list of numismatic programs.

A life member of the ANA, NLG and Original Hobo Nickel Society, Tucker also holds memberships in the Barber Coin Collectors Society, Colonial Coin Collectors Club, Numismatic Bibliomania Society, Society of Paper Money Collectors, and Liberty Seated Collectors Club, and is an honorary member of The Rittenhouse Society.

Dennis Tucker adds this clarification:

Actually, my degree is in Political Science with a concentration in organizational theory and behavior, from the University of Rochester's College of Arts, Sciences & Engineering.

Good luck to both new members and the entire committee - this is an important job and I'm glad the numismatic community has a chance to play a part. -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee welcomes Roach, Tucker to ranks (

Kraljevich esylum9


Bob Julian writes:

In going through the documents that I am having copied at the National Archives I do come across interesting letters from time to time, such as the Stickney order for proofs in 1867. I attach another such document, this time concerning a 1795 “Jefferson” cent offered in trade by Alfred Robinson in February 1872.

1872 Alfred Robinson letter re 1795 Jefferson Cent trade

Thanks! The letter from Mint Director James Pollock is fairly legible, but here's my transcription. -Editor

Feby 23 72


Your of the 22nd inst., in relation to the exchange of a "Jefferson Cent" 1795 for any Pattern pieces struck by the Mint, has been rec'd, and in reply I have to say that in consideration of the fact of our having a very good Jefferson cent in the Mint Cabinet, and   not having any pattern pieces to dispose of, we do not feel inclined to make the exchange you propose.

Yours Respectfully

(signed) Jas. Pollack

Alfred H. Robinson Esq.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

Levine Ad 2016-02-21 Inimica Tyrannis


The Czech Republic
Regarding my intro to the article about the 1794 Dollar travelling to Prague, Bill Rosenblum writes:

I just wanted to point out to you that Czechoslovakia ceased to exist on December 31, 1992 and the next day two new countries were formed: Slovakia and the Czech Republic which consists of both Bohemia and Moravia. Our daughter-in-law was born what was then Czechoslovakia (Moravia) and met my son in the mid-1990s in Prague. The split between Czech, which is how Eva refers to it, and Slovakia was a great deal more civil than our Civil War.

Of course, Bill's right. We'll update our archive to refer to the Czech Republic. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

More on Recoining Shield Nickels and Other Uncurrent Coins
Keith Scott writes:

After reading the response to Dave Wnuck's question I broke out my Reports to the Director of the Mint and found some fascinating data.

For FY 1964 Nearly 90 short tons of US coins were exchanged in Federal Reserve banks and branches. Coins are termed uncurrent and may be worn, damaged or other.

For FY 1958 over 2.1 million dollars of US coins were "turned in" as uncurrent. Also as of this year (other reason) is that almost 146 million steel cents had been turned in since 1945. This is the only type, denomination and year that could be easily traceable.

Lots of answers are in these reports and I look forward to people who have the questions.

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:

Bookbinder Recommendations
In response to Jan Monroe's request, Allan Davisson ( writes:

Campbell-Logan ( in Minneapolis is an exceptional bindery. Major collectors have had them conserve and bind their books. I have used them many times for repairing historic volumes, binding periodicals, rebinding important references. George Kolbe has used them and Bill McKivor has used them for special editions of his new publication of Dalton and Hamer. I have used them for decades and have always been satisfied and I can recommend them without reservation. It is a simple matter to deal with them via UPS. I am willing, on a limited basis, to confer with anyone who may be a bit uncertain about how to proceed.

Joe Esposito writes:

I can recommend Cat Tail Run Hand Bookbinding outside of Winchester, Virginia. That’s about 75 miles west of Washington, D.C. They also offer short courses in book restoration and related subjects. Here’s the website:

Thanks, folks! -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: FEBRUARY 14, 2016 : Query: Bookbinder Sought (

More on the Unknown Half Dime Token


Regarding Aaron Packard's unattributed "Half Dime" token Paul Bosco writes:

Such a request should have given the size and metal. It is suggestive of some Latin American coins, particularly Colombian.

I checked with Aaron, who writes:

It's 16mm in diameter. It is in shiny white metal. I don't think it's German Silver or lead because either are usually duller. It's possibly silver.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: FEBRUARY 14, 2016 : Query: Half Dime Token Attribution Sought (

Sherlock Holmes Dinner March 3, 2016 at ANA Show
Greg Ruby writes:

On Thursday of the Dallas Money Show, we are holding the Numismatic Friends of Sherlock Holmes dinner.

Investigate it, people - sounds like fun. Here's more from Greg's November 23, 2015 Fourth Garrideb blog. -Editor

The Fourth Garrideb will be in Dallas, Texas for the American Numismatic Association’ National Money Show being held March 3-5, 2016 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

Green Door Public House Dallas The Numismatic Friends of Sherlock Holmes Dinner will be held on Thursday, March 3, 2016. Drinks at 7P, dinner at 7:45P at the Green Door Public House, just a few blocks from the Convention Center. Both Sherlockians and Numismatists are invited to attend. Individuals will order off the restaurant’s menu and be responsible for their own tabs.

The dinner is purely social – no scholarly papers, no slideshows, no quizzes . . . just toasts.

The Green Door Public House is the only free­standing restaurant in the Farmer’s Market area, conveniently located a few short blocks from the heart of downtown.

For more information, or to RSVP, see:
Save The Date: TFG Dinner Meeting in Dallas – March 3, 2016 (

Definition: Crapload
Last week I wrote (regarding the History Channel series on the wreck of the R.M.S. Republic):

To watch the series online (in between a crapload of commercials), see...

Pablo Hoffman writes:


Immersed as I am in the culture of exactitude, scrupulosity, and punctiliousness induced by the profound scholarly erudition of the accumulative E-Sylum intelligentsia, and earnestly wishing to eschew adulterated usage, I urgently seek clarification: does the term “crapload” denote a unit of weight, volume, or some other metric of quantification, such as degree of malodorousness ?

Awaiting your elucidation, and in everlasting gratitude, I remain

Yr. Hmbl. Srvnt,
Pablo Hoffman

I told him, "I'll consult the Oxford English Dictionary and get back to you..." -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:


High quality coin supplies & other numismatic accessories. Use coupon "coinbooks10" for an instant 10% OFF discount!


John Lupia submitted the following information from his Encyclopedic Dictionary of Numismatic Biographies for this week's installment of his series. Thanks! As always, this is an excerpt with the full article and bibliography available online. This week's subject is dealer Charles Enders, Jr. of New York. -Editor

Charles (Anders) Enders, Jr. (1865-), Coin Dealer since 1882. He dealt in U. S. and foreign coins. He was a frequent advertiser in the American Journal of Numismatics, and frequent correspondent with the Chapman Brothers.

He was born in 1865 the son of a Bavarian fruit dealer Charles Anders (1842-) and his wife Catherine (1844-). The family name was spelled Enders during the 1880's, especially by Charles, Jr.

His earliest known coin activity was bidding at the age of seventeen at the Chapman Brothers' Bushnell Sale in March 1882. At that sale he paid the Chapman Brothers in advance for a copy of the priced catalogue. In July 1882 he mailed them a postal card complaining he had not as yet received his copy reminding them he had paid them in advance.

He worked as a clerk at the Louis Stoiber Men's Woolen Clothing Company, 132 Essex Street, New York, and had a coin business as a sideline.

ENDERS July 11, 1882

ENDERS ad Agassiz V.1, June 1885
Advertisement in the June 1885 issue of Agassiz Journal for Curiosity Collectors.

Note he sells items typical of the classic curiosity cabinet including natural and artificial history items such as insects, birds, shells, fossils, stamps, coins, Indian relics, etc. The exact replica of the Widow's Mite is an electrotype. Enders sold many electrotype copies of various U. S. and Colonial coins in the 1880's.

ENDERS AJN 1890 ad
Advertisement in the American Journal of Numismatics, 1890

To read the complete article, see:


The Atlas Obscura blog is informative and entertaining. On February 16, 2016 one of their articles touched on a numismatic topic - an episode many collectors may not be aware of. Gotta love the headline: "THINK KANYE’S BAD WITH MONEY? THIS FAMILY LITERALLY BURNED $1 MILLION" -Editor

Green currency burned article In 1937, one of the wealthiest families in America delivered a suitcase filled with cash to the Treasury Department of the United States, who paid $198,176 to one of the richest families in America, for a pile of money worth as much as $1 million. They didn't go on a shopping spree, though.

In fact, after the Treasury took possession, the Associated Press reported, that cash was “hacked to pieces and burned.” The Treasury did keep one bill—a $500 note that the Treasury had issued in the mid-19th century. It was in better condition than the one in the official Treasury collection.

Far from an example of government overreach, this strange incident of money-burning was a canny strategy to make the estate of one Colonel E.H.R. Green even more valuable. It was also a preamble to the demise of one of the greatest currency collections ever assembled.

This collection was begun by Hetty Green, the only female tycoon of the Gilded Age. Green was famously tight-fisted with her money—she lived in Brooklyn and Hoboken to avoid paying Manhattan taxes—but found physical bills fascinating (and valuable) enough that she started amassing rare currency, along with regular old money.

Although coin collecting had been in vogue for centuries, until the 1940s, collecting paper money was rare. Even then, coin collecting was more prestigious. “Until recently, the derisive term used by coin collectors to characterize those of paper money was ‘ragpickers,’” says Art Friedberg, co-author of Paper Money of the U.S.

Colonel Green, Hetty’s son, inherited half of her fortune and was himself a famous coin collector. After he died in 1936, though, neither his sister nor widow, fighting over his estate, seemed interested in the family hobby.

At the time, the Green currency collection contained two of almost every banknote ever issued by the U.S. government, the AP reported. This was one of the two “greatest collections of paper money ever formed,” Freidberg notes in his book. The other belonged to Albert A. Grinnell, and when it was broken up, beginning in 1944, it took seven auctions to sell it all off.

Before selling the Green collection, though, the estate’s advisor, James Wade of Chase National Bank, convinced the family to prune back the collection, so that it contained only one of every bill. Treasury policy was to destroy currency no longer in circulation, and by turning over those rare bills, the Green estate had a chance to increase the value of the remaining bills even further. (The Treasury still will destroy bills that are damaged or otherwise unusable.)

It was good advice, since the Green estate did have money to burn. According an appraisal, Friedberg says, the collection had 61,664 pieces of paper money at the time. “Whatever was ostensibly burned was a drop in the bucket and, indeed, would have made what was left more valuable,” he says.

A few years later, in 1942, the collection was sold privately. While auctions mean auction catalogues, private sales leave no public records, so it’s impossible to know what exactly what was in that collection—or what rare bills the Treasury burned. Since then, currency collecting has become popular (and competitive) enough that no new suitcase filled with money has ever rivaled the Greens'.

I don't ordinarily publish the entire text of articles from other publications, but it's short and I want to discuss a few things about it. First, I congratulate the author for unearthing this event and especially for citing the source - the article links to an Associated Press article in the May 29, 1937 Chicago Tribune, which I've included here.

Second, I've read two biographies of Hetty Green plus multiple articles and I've never seen her characterized as a coin or paper money collector. The term most often associated with her is "miser", which is not inconsistent with accumulating piles of paper money, but doesn't conjure the methodical nature of a true numismatist. While her son Col. Green may have inherited some rare notes, there is no evidence that he inherited an organized collection - what ended up in his estate was largely assembled or purchased by him following his mother's death.

Third, while the 1937 article correctly states the Treasury's "usual policy" of burning obsolete notes, it does not provide direct evidence of this. Often the reality is more nuanced.

So I reached out to some smart E-Sylum contributors including Roger Burdette, co-author of Truth Seeker: The Life of Eric P. Newman. His response is below. Newman knew Col. Green and purchased the bulk of his numismatic collections in partnership with dealer B. G. Johnson. Thanks also to Roger's fellow authors Joel Orosz and Len Augsburger.


Roger Burdette writes:

An unfortunate incident involving the Col. Green Estate occurred in 1937 when paper currency worth approximately $1,000,000 to collectors was redeemed for face value of $198,176 and burned. The money was turned over by assistant cashier James M. Wade of the Chase National Bank, which was holding the Col. Green estate for safekeeping.

According to a bank spokesman at the time, Wade suggested that wherever the collection contained more than two of any type of note, the extras should be redeemed. This was supposed to have had the effect of making the remaining Green collection more valuable by reducing the number of rare notes outstanding.

Curiously, Wade was an active collector of U.S. paper currency, and in 1956 his outstanding collection of rare notes was sold to Aubrey Bebee. From there, some of the notes were donated by Bebee to the American Numismatic Association Museum. One wonders if a certain degree of self-interest motivated Wade’s recommendation. It is also curious that no one at the bank or the legal trustees for Green’s estate appears to have objected.

This was in addition to the Treasury Department’s requirement that all Gold Certificates in the collection be redeemed for face value.

James M. Wade was a coin collector and assistant cashier of Chase National Bank, was also executor of the estate of Annie Woodin, widow of William Woodin, and sold off Woodin’s patterns to F.C.C. Boyd in 1941 at bargain prices.

Regarding Hetty Green as a collector, Joel Orosz adds writes:

I completely agree with Roger. Hetty Green saved items like old sleighs from her childhood, but I've never run across any evidence that she was in any way a collector of coins or paper money.

To read the complete article, see:

DWN E-Sylum ad01


Julia Purdy writes:

I was doing some research and came across this article from the New York Daily Tribune, Wednesday, August 12, 1857. I don't know if this has already been found / published somewhere by another researcher but wanted to pass it along because I thought perhaps the readers of The E-Sylum would enjoy it.

Thanks! Julia kindly transcribed the article for us. -Editor

NewYork1857Coins5 The amount of foreign copper coins circulating in this city must be very large; and one great argument in favor of the new cent which appears to stand in need of argument in its favor is that it would drive these bogus pennies out of circulation. The copper is the poor man’s coin, by which, no doubt he is cheated, but by virtue of which he is able to purchase even at the expense of being cheated. There is an inevitable swindle in buying by the cent’s worth, to which, perhaps, the seller is compelled, and to which the buyer is obliged to submit. But neither party should be obliged to submit to swindles, which, small as they may seem, have a relative magnitude compared even with greater transactions. A poor woman, buying her family food for the next day, may feel the deficit of a spurious coin passed upon her more keenly than a Wall street broker, sometimes losing a thousand a day, would be able to comprehend. Now, let us see what sort of copper coin is in circulation in NewYork. The following is a list of the foreign copper coins taken by a person in this city in two weeks, and in the course of his regular trading with shopmen:

1. Bank Token (Halfpenny) of the Bank of Montreal, in the Province of Canada. This is a very fresh and handsome coin, and is worth about a third less than the United States copper cent.

2. Bank Token (Un Sou) of Lower Canada a handsome coin worth about a third less than our copper cent.

3. Bank Token (Un Sou, or half penny) of Lower Canada, of the coinage of 1837 a little more worn than the preceding, and worth about a third less than our copper cent.

4. Irish Halfpenny, of the coinage of George III with the figure of Britannia upon one side and the effigy of his Majesty upon the other. This coin bears date of 1805, and is worth about one half less than an unworn United States copper cent.

5. Irish Halfpenny, of the coinage of George III, with the monarch upon the one side and the harp upon the other. The date of this coin cannot be distinguished, but is hardly worth more than one half of our copper cent.

6. Large penny, either Irish or English, but worn smooth. It is probably worth, as metal, a little more than our copper cent.

7. The wellknown coin, “Ein Kreutzer,” worth a little less than half our copper cent. These are of various descriptions. German swindlers are in the habit of importing them in large quantities, and of paying them out at the value of one United States cent. They are small, and in copper does not appear to be of very good quality.

8. The Danish “Skilling.” This is not very common. It is generally very much worn, and is worth less by a half than our copper cent.

There may be other foreign copper coins in circulation. These we have now before us. They are either brought here by emigrants, or are imported for the express purpose of circulating them at a profit. We have reason to believe that a large business is done in the latter sort of enterprise.

It is a remarkable fact, that though one often received these coins over a counter, there is always a great and decided difficulty in paying them back again. These coins before us were all taken in respectable shops, and have all been refused in the same sites of traffic. Why not take from the emigrant all the copper coins in his possession, paying him their full metal value? Why not prosecute, with the utmost rigor of the law, those who make a business of importing this spurious currency?


Web site visitor Paul Benner of Savannah, GA writes:

I ran across an article regarding a Columbian shield (The E-Sylum: Volume 15, Number 36, August 26, 2012, Article 10).

I have one hanging by my front door. It was created by my great great grandfather Frederick Mayer, a noted Pittsburgh artist and sculptor. The shield was indeed sold by Heeren Brothers of Pittsburgh. The shield was cast by Mayer's brothers who had a foundry in Stuttgart Germany. I know of one other located in Fairbanks Alaska.

Thanks! This is great information. Paul kindly forwarded a photo of his shield. -Editor

Columbia Shield owned by Paul Brenner

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:


SELECTIONS FROM THE JOHN HUFFMAN LIBRARY: Browse and Shop Approximately 3,000 Numismatic Books from the Respected Library of John Huffman—All Books Recently Discounted 40%. Click here or go to click on “All Subjects” and select “John Huffman Collection”


Parker Obv Bagshaw Obv

Agreeing with Mark Borckardt about the attribution of the T. Parker and Bagshaw Norwich tokens, David Powell writes:

The Token Book 2 The Norwich tokens of George Bagshaw and Thomas Parker are indeed English, and have long been recognised as such on this side of the Atlantic in such publications as Token Book 2 {Paul & Bente Withers, 2013}, and Bell's Unofficial Farthings {Bell, Whitmore & Sweeny, 1994}. The latter is itself an evolution of R.C. Bell's original work of 1975. Both pieces are quite common, and part of a group of about 15-20 similarly dated pieces from Norwich. Token Book 2 contains quite a bit of background information about both issuers, including a newspaper advert for Parker.

Paul Withers writes:

I have to say that I didn't know that there was a town called Norwich in the USA. I attach a page from our publication of 2013 The Token Book 2 of which a few copies are left, which is a comparatively well-researched account of the so-called unofficial farthings and small advertising tokens of the UK issued 1820-1901. Perhaps Mr Rulau might like to order a copy to discover what other errors may be lurking undetected in his volume ?

Thomas Parker section The TOken Book 2

Thanks for the confirmation, folks! -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:


WANTED: BONNEVILLE, Alphonse. Nouvelle encyclopedie monetaire ou traite des monnaies d’or et d’argent des divers peuples du monde. (Nouvelle edition du precedent ouvrage.) Paris, 1882, 1 vol. in-fol. De XVI et 220 pages, 200 planches.

I need a copy of this Bonneville work. I have the earlier edition but need the 1882 edition to check a few items. The book is very scarce although there is little demand for it so hard to say what the price should be. If anyone has a copy please offer it to me. If you don’t want to sell I would ask the favor of having the few pages devoted to Ecuador photocopied for me. I would pay quite liberally for these photocopies. Dale Seppa ( 103 N 6th Avenue, Virginia, MN 55792


Dario Calomino, Curator of Roman Provincial Coins at the British Museum writes:

I work at the British Museum with Andrew Burnett on RPC 6 and I am currently developing a small exhibition on the damnatio memoriae of Roman emperors accompanied by a book. I should explain that I am writing a booklet, not a corpus of all known specimens that show signs of damnatio. The definition of damnatio is also controversial, I am considering examples of defacement of coins for political reasons, mainly to attack the memory deposed emperors, but not exclusively; some nice examples also from different periods (even defaced banknotes for my general introduction) could be considered if relevant.

Can anyone help? Dario can be reached at .

We covered the topic of damnatio memoriae once before, in a Featured Web Page suggested by the late numismatic literature dealer John Burns. Here's that article from April 7, 2013, taken from Wikipedia. -Editor

Damnatio memoriae is the Latin phrase literally meaning "condemnation of memory" in the sense of a judgment that a person must not be remembered. It was a form of dishonor that could be passed by the Roman Senate upon traitors or others who brought discredit to the Roman State. The intent was to erase someone from history, a task somewhat easier in ancient times, when documentation was much sparser.

The sense of the expression damnatio memoriae and of the sanction is to cancel every trace of the person from the life of Rome, as if he had never existed, in order to preserve the honour of the city; in a city that stressed the social appearance, respectability and the pride of being a true Roman as a fundamental requirement of the citizen, it was perhaps the most severe punishment.

Lucius Aelius Sejanus suffered damnatio memoriae

Lucius Aelius Sejanus suffered damnatio memoriae following a failed conspiracy to overthrow emperor Tiberius in 31. His statues were destroyed and his name obliterated from all public records. The above coin from Augusta Bilbilis, originally struck to mark the consulship of Sejanus, has the words L. Aelio Seiano obliterated.

To read the complete article, see:


As noted earlier, The Fourth Garrideb (the coin club focusing on numismatics related to Sherlock Holmes) is trying to trace the coin collection of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Here's an update and request for assistance from the group's blog, published February 16, 2016 by editor Greg Ruby. -Editor

We had earlier posted about Manfra, Tordella and Brooks offering ancient coins from Arthur Conan Doyle’s collection in 1968 (and we have some updates on that topic in the very near future!). While scrolling through the massive New York Times database, we came across the following article from May 1, 1913:

Arthur Conan Doyle Christie's sale NYT May 1, 1913

So, on May 9, 1913, the London auction house of Sotheby’s sold a portion of Arthur Conan Doyle’s coin collection. This raises the following questions:

  • What was sold? Were these ancient coins, like the 1968 sale, or something different?
  • Was there a catalog produced?

Can anyone help? It will be interesting to trace where some of these coins may be today. -Editor

To read the complete Fourth Garrideb articles, see:
HolmeWork Assignment: Christie’s Auctioned A Portion of A. Conan Doyle’s Coin Collection (
HolmeWork Assignment: Arthur Conan Doyle’s Coin Collection (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: OCTOBER 12, 2014 : Query: Coins Pedigreed to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Sought (

Advocates Ad 2016-02-07 Sell


The Fourth Garrideb blog has also been publishing excerpts from The Diogenes Club, originally published in 2016. Here's an excerpt-of-an-excerpt from the February 6, 2016 issue which mentions some interesting British coins and coin phrases. Be sure to read the complete article online. -Editor

There is also a reference in this story to “taking the Queen’s shilling,” a phrase which meant to join the army. It was customary for British Army recruiting officers to present a shilling to each new recruit.

Testoon. Henry VII

The shilling, a silver coin often called a “testoon” (from the Italian testa for head) at the time of its origin, was introduced by Henry VII. Henry was the first of the Tudor line (late fifteenth century), an able ruler who succeeded in the task of repairing the damage caused by the Wars of the Roses. He took great interest in the nation’s coinage, also introducing the sovereign, a magnificent new gold coin with Biblical texts around the edge to discourage clipping. Henry VII also went back to the profile view of the monarch on the obverse of the coins, after 300 years of full-face depictions. As the Greeks and Romans had understood a millennium and a half before, the profile portrait looks and wears better on a coin than does the full-face portrait.

In Silver Blaze, we learn that Straker had five sovereigns in gold in his pockets when he was found dead on the moor, and in The Greek Interpreter, five sovereigns were paid to Mr. Melas for interpreting. After her wedding to Godfrey Norton, Irene Adler gives a disguised Holmes a sovereign for being a witness, and there are similar references in at least three other stories.

Sovereign. Henry VII. 1485-1509

During the reign of George III, coins became extremely scarce due to the wars (American Revolution and Napoleonic War), and due to a scarcity of gold, silver, and, later, copper. At the same time, more coins were needed due to the industrial revolution. In the country, people made do with the barter system and had little need for money, but increasing industrialization caused migration to cities, where money was required to pay wages and purchase goods.

Spanish-8-reale-countermarked-with-head-of-George-III By 1797, the shortage of silver was desperate, and the Bank of England had to buy large quantities of Spanish pieces of eight. These coins, bearing the portrait of Charles III or Charles IV of Spain, were countermarked by the British mint with a tiny image of George III, leading to the following rhyme:

“The bank, to make their Spanish dollar pass Stamped the head of a fool on the head of an ass.”

To read the complete article, see:
Watson Coins A Phrase (2001) (


“MEGA RED” is coming! PRE-ORDER YOUR SECOND EDITION TODAY. The massive 1,504-page Deluxe Edition of the hobby’s best-selling Red Book includes an in-depth expanded feature on Flying Eagle, Indian Head, and Lincoln cents. New essays, updated pricing and data, thousands of coin photos, new die varieties, and more. Pre-order your copy (shipping April 4, 2016) for $49.95 at , or call 1-800-546-2995.


David Powell writes:

In 2012 I had the honour of being one of the only 70 or so members of the general public allowed to attend the Trial of the Pyx, and afterwards I wrote the experience up and presented it as a short talk for the London Numismatic Society.

What a great opportunity! David kindly forwarded the text of his article, and most of it is republished here. Thanks! His visit took place on Tuesday, February 7, 2012. -Editor

It is well known that the Trial of the Pyx has been conducted since mediaeval times as a method of testing the quality of the coinage; in modern parlance, ensuring quality control. What is less generally appreciated is that, many years after our coinage has ceased direct dependence on the bullion value of its constituent metals, and taken on more of a token value, this ceremony still goes on today. Even less well known is that ordinary mortals like you and I can apply to attend it, and have some chance, albeit small, of getting in.

The Trial is actually conducted these days in three parts:

  • Part 1, at the Goldsmith’s Hall in early February, when the contents of the Mint’s trial bags are sampled and counted.
  • Part 2, lasting for some eight weeks thereafter, when the samples are subjected to detailed scientific analysis.
  • Part 3, at the Goldsmiths Hall again in early May, when the results are announced.

The event which the general public can attend, albeit only by securing prior invitation, is Part 1.

In 2012, two members of the London Numismatic Society, myself included, actually went. OK, what is the point of it in the modern day, you may ask? and yes, it is now just tradition and ceremony. However, a fascinating, interesting and most enjoyable experience.


2016 Trial of the Pyx We arrived at Goldsmith’s Hall, situated in the back streets between the Museum of London and St. Pauls, at about 09:30. Being a little bit early, we browsed around looking at the fine quality silverware on display, of various dates from 17th cent to current. We were invited upstairs into the Great Hall at about 10:00.

The spectator area was relatively small: six rows of eighteen seats, nine each side of the aisle, at the very back of the hall. The rest of it was devoted to the action, and we were separated off, as if by an altar rail, beyond which we were not allowed to pass. There were presumably some privileged guests amongst our number, as the number of places advertised for the general public {about seventy} was clearly short of the 108 available.

Immediately beyond the barrier and to the right-hand side, away from the door, was a Royal Mint display stand advertising its usual commercial wares; the intention being that the public could admire these before and after, although I am not sure whether orders were taken.

For those less enamoured with modern Royal Mint commercialism, there was plenty to enjoy in the architecture and ornamentation of the hall itself: four or five pillars down each side of the room, eighteen sumptuously decorated roof panels, five massive chandeliers, several full-length paintings of Georgian royalty to our left and some fine stained-glass windows to our right. Plus, of course, the minutiae of the Pyx arrangements themselves, straight ahead of us.

As to the latter:

  • In the centre, a long oak table running away from us, with perhaps eighteen to twenty seats arranged around it; one for the judge at the far end, and the others for the jurors and wardens.
  • To the left, an area largely left clear as an assembly area for the 19 mint officials who had travelled up from South Wales the day before.
  • At back right, the pile of crates in which the Pyx samples had been transported, and in which they still waited in readiness.
  • In front of that, a small individual counting area for the precious metal and proof pieces.
  • In front of that again, along the side of the room, an area for the press. BBC “Money Matters” correspondent Paul Lewis was particularly in evidence, wandering around with a camera.

Although billed to start at 10:00, there was little action until about 10:20 or 10:25; but that was to the good, as there was a lot to take in before the process got under away. At about that time the Master of Ceremonies came and addressed the audience, to explain what we were about to witness, and did it very well. He also reminded us that, even though it may not seem it, we were actually in a court of law; therefore, no photographs please. The atmosphere was thoroughly congenial; we were made at home, and one got the feeling that, despite the serious nature of the ceremony, we were meant to enjoy ourselves. A little like going to the palace for an awards ceremony, as I once did when my father got his MBE.

The jurors walked in at 10:35, followed by the Queen’s Remembrancer, the judge, at 10:45; whereupon, all stand. The number of jurors is not necessarily twelve, as in an ordinary court of law; it is of that order, but is chosen according to the size of the sample. The latter being greater this year than some, we had several more, perhaps about 15 or 16. We discovered afterwards that one had gone sick on the day; no matter, they just shared out the work and it took a few minutes longer.

Also sat with the jury, and entering with them, were three red-liveried wardens of the Goldsmith’s Company. These, and the jurors, were named in order at the start of the proceedings by the Master of Ceremonies, to which summons each replied “Present”. The list included one or two ladies, honourables and well-known surnames, but not excessively so; clearly, the parties, selected by the Goldsmith’s Company, were mostly quite well connected. Their ceremonial task to come, however, was quite mundane.

The next item on the agenda, after the introductions had been dispensed with and before the main activity commenced, was a homily by the Queen’s Remembrancer. He was an excellent speaker; whether a numismatist by natural inclination or just well-researched, I do not know, but he demonstrated a fine knowledge both of early hammered minting techniques and of the economic principle that bad money drives out good. I suggested to my companion, our club secretary, that he would be a superb choice should the club be short of speakers for our programme.

Alas, we did not hear the end of this excellent homily, which chronologically ended at the Great Recoinage of 1697; for the present event was but Part 1 of the annual Pyx, and the second half of the address is traditionally withheld for Part 3 in May. After delivering his speech, which took perhaps quarter of an hour, the Queen’s Remembrancer departed the court and left everyone else to the practicalities. This struck me as rather odd, but no doubt he had better things to do.

No sooner had His Lordship departed the scene, than the mint officials came to life, buzzing around like blue-arsed flies as they starting unpacked plastic crates and delivering a constant supply of their contents, in the form of small bags, to the waiting jurors. The latter each had in front of them two bowls, one of copper and one of wood, plus some paperwork.

The pieces in the Mint bags are, in one sense, already a sample; they contain one coin from each batch made. The juror, after opening the bag with scissors and counting the coins within, further samples from it by placing one coin in the copper bowl, which will go forward for analysis, and the rest in the wooden bowl, which will be returned to the general heap. They record the count in a booklet. We saw one of these afterwards, courtesy of one of the officials who came across to talk to us and showed us his master copy; they consist of a list of bag numbers, against which those falling to the responsibility of any particular juror are marked, in his or her copy, in red felt-tipped pen.

The jurors proceeded most industriously, and in no time threatened to fill up their wooden bowls; but the Royal Mint minions were equally efficient, and ensured that a regular bowl-emptying service {into a sack} was always to hand. The latter clearly knew who was meant to receive what, and had delivery down to a fine art; they had had a trial run, apparently, albeit without the jurors, the previous day.


The number of coins taken to the Pyx varies from year to year according to the vagaries of mintage, and in some years also includes, on request, the coinage of New Zealand {but for some reason not any other of the Commonwealth countries}. This year New Zealand was included, and the total number of coins submitted was 81,000, which was apparently rather more than the norm; Jubilee and Olympic specials, we were told, also boosted the numbers. The proportion of pieces taken to the Pyx is 1 in 10 for precious-metal and other special issue pieces, but much lower for the everyday material; 1 in 50 or 100, or even 1 in 500 or 1000. The lower the face value, the lower the percentage sampled.

The process on the small table to the right was less obvious, but I presume that it was much of the same with lesser quantities of the precious metal material. There were only two officials examining, but they were getting plenty of attention; indeed, Mint officials were almost queueing up to give them things. As someone who likes ordinary coinage which is meant to be used, rather than glitzy special issues, I naturally took an aversion to the latter getting such disproportionate attention.

81,000 coins is, of course, a massive number for 15 to 18 people to count, and I wondered how long we were going to be there; but I should not have worried, for the supply of unopened plastic crates was starting to diminish rapidly, and by around 11:30 some of the jurors were starting to run out of work. That, however, was only phase 1; only quids and higher had gone to the table, plus a very limited percentage of the smaller denominations. The rest of the latter had gone next door, to the counting machines of Phase 2; which, as the room had a very wide doorway at our end, we were able to freely go across and view.

There was no proper end to the formal proceedings in the main hall; it just fizzled out. People drifted across, the jurors at the back of the room behind the main stairwell and the spectators, or such of them as decided to remain, across the landing. If any of you go in the future, I would recommend this hanging around afterwards; there are still things to see and, even more interestingly, the occasional willing official to talk to.

Across in the counting room there were six machines, a line of three on each side, each designated for a specific denomination or pair of denominations. For example, machine 3, near left as we looked through the doorway was allocated to 5p pieces, whereas machines 5 and 6, on our right, were earmarked for 50p and 20p respectively. Each machine had two seats behind it for jurors, and their ladyships or whoever, attended constantly by money-bearing mint-officials, dutifully tipped bag after bag of small change down the chute.

We were privileged, whilst this was going on, to have the senior member of the trio of Goldsmiths’ liveried wardens come across and talk to us, and it was pleasing that he should be willing to do so. Before departing we went back into the now nearly empty main hall to see the remnant of the clearing up, and got involved in another similar conversation, this time with a member of the Royal Mint. He and his colleagues had, no doubt, been packing up; starting, I am sure, with the collecting up of all those pieces in the copper bowls which were going off to assay.

It was all over by about 12:00 or shortly after, I guess; or so we thought, but on descending the stairs from the main hall we found, just as were about to exit, a set of scales in a side room attended by yet another constant scurry of mint officials. Bag bearers were running around everywhere, carrying no doubt the output of the counting machines, and weighing each as they arrived. After a few minutes watching we left them to it, and returned outside to that strange world called normality!

For historical background on the Trial of the Pyx, see:
The Trial of the Pyx (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

Charles Davis ad01


Mike Marotta submitted this article to correct an error in biographies of U.S. mint personality John Leonard Riddell. Thanks! -Editor

Preparing my presentation, “From Texas to the Moon with John Leonard Riddell” for the Money Talks forum at the ANA National Money Show in Dallas March 1-5, I found a significant error in the accepted biographies.

Riddell served as the melter at the New Orleans Mint 1837-1849. He was a popular lecturer on science, as well as a respected botanist. He also was apparently the first working science to publish a science fiction story.

Riddell taught chemistry at the Louisiana Medical College before it became Tulane University. It was there that he invented the binocular microscope. Other people in America and Europe were working on the problem, as well. Riddell’s model, built in 1853 by J. & W. Grunow of New Haven, Connecticut, is apparently the earliest known survivor of that time.

Billings 257 B The most detailed biography of John L. Riddell was written by Karlem Riess, and published by the Earth Sciences Department at Tulane University, in 1977. Riess incorrectly identified Riddell’s microscope. Figure 10 in the Riess monograph is credited to the United States Army Medical Museum. However, I found online the Billings Microscope Collection of the Medical Museum, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, 2nd Edition, 1974, Washington, DC 20306. The microscope shown in the Riess monograph was actually built in 1867 by J. & W. Grunow of New York for Gen. George H. Thomas. In the Billings catalog, it is number 259. The microscope built in 1853 for Riddell is number 257.

Not Riddell Microscope Breeden The misidentification was carried forward in Long Ride in Texas: The Explorations of John Leonard Riddell by James O. Breeden, College Station, Texas: Texas A & M University Press, 1994. Breeden edited Riddell’s journals from that three-month trek (September to November 1839) into Comanche country seeking the lost San Saba silver mine associated with Jim Bowie. Breeden wrote a Preface and Introduction to the journal. The Introduction chronicled the highlights of Riddell’s life. There, Breeden showed the same microscope as Riess, attributed to the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

AAAS Microscope When I submitted my manuscript to The Numismatist (published April 2014, and titled “The Riddle of J. L. Riddell” by the editor), I also repeated the misidentification. Having found it in two books, I never questioned it. Only as I revisited the materials and extended my research did the error become apparent. In point of fact, Riess also included technical drawings by Riddell for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Riddell presented his design at an AAAS conference in Cleveland, Ohio, the week of July 28, 1853. His plans were published in the Proceedings. From those drawings, it is clear to me now that the finished device shown by Riess and Breeden is not the one described by the technical illustrations.


Here are a few items that caught my eye in the upcoming March 11, 2016 sale of Early American History Auctions. -Editor

Lot 338: 1776 Georgia Orange Seal “Rattlesnake” 20 Dollars

1776 Georgia Orange Seal “Rattlesnake” 20 Dollars

Georgia. 1776 Orange Seal. Twenty Dollars. “Rattlesnake” vignette. PCGS graded Very Fine-25.

Fr. GA-77c. This “1776” Revolutionary War Georgia note is quite pleasing in that its popular Orange “Rattlesnake” vignette adds color and eye appeal. It has excellent centering with all border designs within its four outer margins. A rare Orange Seal Twenty Dollars denomination.

To read the complete lot description, see:
Rare 1776 Georgia Orange Seal “Rattlesnake” 20 Dollars (

Lot 341: Provincial Convention of Maryland. July 26, 1775. One Dollar

Provincial Convention of Maryland. July 26, 1775 Face and Back

Provincial Convention of Maryland. July 26, 1775. One Dollar. “Allegorical - Gunpowder” Propaganda and Political Revolutionary War Issue. Very Fine.

Fr. MD-72. This 1775 Revolutionary War Maryland paper money rarity is a true historical American Political issue. It is a classic, extremely historic, American Patriotic Propaganda note. This type is shown in the Newman plate note for this issue, illustrated on page 174 of the 5th edition of THE EARLY PAPER MONEY OF AMERICA.

The Allegorical vignettes displayed are unique in their design on Colonial Currency. The vignette at the upper half on its face side displays a hand-engraved woodblock vignette which has a “Folk Art” style appearance. It shows King George III setting fire to an American city with a torch, while symbolically trampling upon the Magna Charta. The border cut includes the text, "An appeal to HEAVEN" while the left cut reads, "Pro Aris et Focis," which translates "for altars and the hearth." The back is entirely given over to a vignette of Peace and Liberty. The face side is particularly clean, sharp and well printed. The designs being properly centered upon the handmade cotton laid period paper. There are some deft trivial sealed fold splits, pinholes at right edge and light conservation. The paper is circulated yet clean with a pleasing even appearance. It is nicely signed in brown ink by Thomas B Hodgkin at bottom. The reverse side inking is a bit nicer than average, with all details and designs well centered within four full margins.

The face displays a propaganda-filled woodcut, engraved by Thomas Sparrow, which depicts Britannia receiving a petition of the Continental Congress, “CONG PETI” from a female figure representing America.

America is trampling on a scroll marked SLAVERY and is holding a Liberty Cap in front of American troops carrying the flag of Liberty, LIB; and on the left, George III is trampling on the M(agna) CHARTA and applying a fire brand to an American city which is under attack by a British fleet.

The side border cuts carry AN APPEAL TO HEAVEN and PRO ARIS ET FOCIS (For altar and hearth). On the back side, the figures of America and Britannia are shown achieving peace, PAX TRIUMPHIS POTIOR (Peace is preferable to victory), LIBERTY, T. SPARROW and FG (Frederick Green, the printer).

To read the complete lot description, see:
1775 “Allegorical-Gunpowder” Political Propaganda Issue Political Woodblock Vignette Note By Thomas Sparrow (

Lot 342: June 18, 1776 Massachusetts Seven Dollars Note

June 18, 1776 Massachusetts Seven Dollars Note

Colony of Massachusetts Bay. June 18, 1776. Seven Dollars. Genuine & Original. “Small Sword in Hand” Design. Due Date of June 18, 1778. Choice Fine.

Fr. MA-212. This rare 1776 Revolutionary War date “Small Sword in Hand” note has perfect centering on its face side with four full large margins on each border. There is some expert conservation to seal small centerfold edge splits and remove some non-issue surface notations allowing for a clean, evenly circulated appearance. The simple reverse design is sharply printed in bold black, very crisp and clear having the eye appeal of Very Fine. Signed by W. Palfrey and S. Carlton (the same signers as on the Newman Plate example illustrated on page 210). Only 8,000 notes were issued, all due to be turned back into the Treasury for redemption by either 1778 or 1779.

This issue has a small vignette at mid-left showing a Colonial Soldier holding a sword in one hand and a copy of the Magna Charta “MCA” in his other, in a smaller version of Paul Revere’s famous engraved design. Genuine issued examples remain very rare and are prized by serious collectors.

To read the complete lot description, see:
Genuine June 18, 1776 Massachusetts Seven Dollars Note (

Lot 357: One Cent “Weir & Larminie” Montreal Encased Postage Stamp

One Cent Weir & Larminie Encased Postage Stamp obverse One Cent Weir & Larminie Encased Postage Stamp reverse

EP-29, HB-230, S-174, Reed-WL01. One Cent. WEIR & LARMINIE. Montreal, Canada. Choice Extremely Fine+.

Rarity-8+ (About 6 known) according to Fred Reed. This rarity is only the fourth One Cent, Weir & Larminie EP we have offered in some forty years of specialization in the field of Encased Postage Stamps. This current example has light even overall circulation with clean fully intact clear mica. The perfectly centered bright blue Benjamin Franklin postage stamp has excellent sharpness and quality of eye appeal with just signs of light circulation. The case is a rich chestnut in color which is defect-free but for a trivial faint line at center left and it has sharp text highlighted with significant traces of lovely bright original Silvering which remains about the reverse legends.

To read the complete lot description, see:
One Cent “Weir & Larminie” Montreal - Exceedingly Rare! (

Lot 363: Three Cent John Norris Encased Postage Stamp

Three Cent John Norris Encased Postage Stamp obverse Three Cent John Norris Encased Postage Stamp reverse

EP-52a, HB-185, S-137, Reed-NO03. Three Cents. JOHN W. NORRIS, NEWS - BOOKS & STATIONARY, Chicago. Traces of Original Silvering. Choice Extremely Fine.

Rated as Rarity-9 (2 to 4 known) according to Fred Reed. In “The Standard Catalogue of Encased Postage Stamps” Michael Hodder suggests that this 3¢ denomination is the rarest for this merchant, with less than three examples known. Nearly two decades later, the consensus stands that there is perhaps a total universe of four. Two examples were sold as part of the historic Stack’s sale of the John J. Ford, Jr. Collection of June 2004. We sold one in our EAHA Auction of June 10, 2007, Lot 5265, graded Extremely Fine with some mica problems which sold for $5,074, plus one other graded Extremely Fine plus in our October 15, 2011 Auction, selling for $7,080.

Our current example stands as an extraordinary rarity by all numismatic and philatelic standards being at least the equal in quality to our 2011 specimen. One special added feature to this current example is the scattered traces of original Silvering present within the very sharp reverse legends. This current specimen has a very well centered, clean rich red George Washington stamp. The mica is clean, solid and intact, having a tiny area of the outer surface layer of mica crazed at the upper rim edge of the left moon. The case is beautiful, being fully original, having one trivial nick on its left moon, overall extremely well sealed and perfect. It is a nice natural golden-chestnut in color and has superb sharp, crisp detail to all of the legends. This is certainly the single rarest of all John W. Norris denominations and the Finest that we have ever offered. If you’ve been waiting for 30 years or so for your opportunity to acquire this rarity for your collection, now is your time. This current example has a notation of pedigree to Richard Wolffer stamp auction of April 26, 1985, the paper card with pedigree and attribution notation is included.

To read the complete lot description, see:
One of Four Known JOHN W. NORRIS Three Cents Rarity-9 (

Lot 371: 1786 Vermont Copper. Landscape Type.

1786 Vermont Copper Landscape Type obverse 1786 Vermont Copper Landscape Type reverse

1786 VT Copper. Landscape Type. “VERMONTENSIUM” Legend. Ryder-7. Bressett 5-E. Whitman W-2025. Choice Very Fine.

To read the complete lot description, see:
1786 VT Copper “VERMONTENSIUM” Legend Very Fine (

For more information, see:


Newspapers often mangle numismatic stories but an article in the Virginian-Pilot does a decent job describing the 1794 Dollar offered by David Lawrence Rare Coins. See their new ad elsewhere in this issue for more information. -Editor

1794 dollar slabbed John Brush has a dollar worth a million dollars.

Brush recently bought an American dollar coin from 1794. The American relic is as rare as it is old.

“It’s an honor to own this kind of coin,” said Brush, president of David Lawrence Rare Coins, which is based in Virginia Beach. “It’s a very historically significant coin. It’s clearly a million-dollar coin.”

Lady Liberty is on one side, and an early design of the U.S. eagle is on the other. Brush’s coin was likely in circulation for a short time, judging by the minimal wear, he said. The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation authenticated the 222-year-old piece of currency.

Brush has it listed for $975,000 online. Within a day, two buyers had expressed interest, he said.

The coin first came on Brush’s radar at a 2008 auction in Illinois. He spent eight years waiting for the former owner to be ready to sell it.

Because of a purchase agreement, Brush can’t disclose how much he paid. Another 1794 American dollar sold for $10 million in 2013, according to the Professional Coin Grading Service, which authenticates rare coins.

The $10 million coin spent some time at the Edward C. Rochette Money Museum in Colorado. Most 1794 dollars are worth six figures, said Doug Mudd, the museum’s director. Sometimes, if a coin has a special attribute or is in exceptionally good condition, it can top $1 million.

Regardless of condition, the 1794 dollar is valuable in tracing American history, Mudd said. Only about 1,700 dollar coins were made that year, all on the same day, he said.

The U.S. Mint had been operating for just two years, and the 1794 dollar was one marker of the United States’ newfound independence.

Before that, Americans relied on Spanish currency. Some parts of the United States used English currency, but Spain’s money was often used in international trade. Brush considers the dollar the beginning of American currency.

To read the complete article, see:
Virginia Beach coin shop says its American dollar is worth a million (

DWN E-Sylum ad03


Here’s another section of the Künker press release for their March 2016 sales - auction 276 includes an impressive collection of more modern German rarities. -Editor

For many the highlight will take place on the last day of auction: when Künker auctions off the Lorenz Collection, a special collection of minor denominations rarities and patters from post-1871 Germany. Not to forget silver and gold, this auction catalog offers all the great rarities of the German Empire in spectacular quality.

Auction 276: German post-1871 coins featuring the Lorenz Collection It is much harder to find minor denominations in an excellent condition, than silver high-denomination pieces or even gold coins. It’s in the nature of things. One doesn’t usually pay with a 500 euro note nowadays either. But that doesn’t mean the notes are rare – they are simply horded and treated with care, just as it was done with 20 mark coins of the German Empire.

The small pfennnigs though, changed hands continuously. For one pfennig you could get an egg in 1880. And that was real money when you keep in mind that a butcher’s assistant made 5 marks laboring for 72 hours a week.

All this, one should know in order to appreciate the quality of the Lorenz Collection. Considering, that there are about 50 preserved specimens of the Frederick the Wise silver coin, one can guess the level of rarity for an 1887 1 pfennig piece of which only 25 were minted. In the upcoming Künker sale, by the way, you will be able to bid on a Friedrich the Wise in proof, too. The piece is estimated at 60,000 euros. But back to the 1 pfennig piece. The item in question is literally the last pfennig of the Dresden mint, before it was moved to Muldenhütten (estimate: 10,000 euros). There is also an 1887 20 pfennig piece of the Muldenhütten mint, of which only 50 pieces were produced. In our auction it is appraised at 5,000 euros. Because the 1905 E pfennigs from Muldenhütten were only minted during Frederick Augustus III’s visit to the mint, only a handful still exist. Our specimen for sale is estimate at 10,000 euros. But not all pieces are priced quite so highly. For example, an 1910 E 25 pfennig piece in proof condition is appraised at 150 euros.

Also the silver and gold of the German Empire offers many rarities. We already mentioned the popular Frederick the Wise. And the rarest gold type of the German Empire is to be found either: an 1872 20 mark piece with the portrait of Ernst II of Saxony-Coburg-Gotha.

The Lorenz Collection of patterns contains more than 200 pieces. Among them are many rarities, some of them are neither mentioned in the Beckenbauer nor in the Schaaf Collection. As common with patterns, their preservation is consistently better than extremely fine. Let us take a closer look at two pieces: A 1947 A 10 reichspfennig pattern, displaying a Slavic 7 (with a slash) and a 2 mark piece from 1950 with a deepened legend and devaluated through a punching.

You can order the catalogs at Künker, Nobbenburgerstr. 4a, 49076 Osnabrück; Tel: + 49 541 96202 0; Fax: + 49 541 96202 22; or email: Please also find all pieces up for auction online at

05517a00 05517r00

Lot 5517: GERMAN EMPIRE. 20 pfennig 1887 E. Only 50 specimens struck. Nearly FDC. Estimate: 5,000,- euros

05538a00 05538r00

Lot 5538: GERMAN EMPIRE. 1 pfennig 1905 E. J. 10 (this specimen illustrated). Nearly FDC. Estimate: 10,000,- euros

05747a00 05747r00

Lot 5747: GERMAN EMPIRE. Saxony. Frederick August III, 1904-1918. 3 mark 1917 E. Frederick the Wise. Proof. Estimate: 60,000,- euros

06187a00 06187r00

Lot 6187: GERMAN EMPIRE. Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Ernest II, 1844-1893. 20 mark 1872. Very fine to extremely fine. Estimate: 60,000,- euros

06200a00 06200r00

Lot 6200: GERMAN EMPIRE. Saxe-Meiningen. George II, 1866-1914. 20 mark 1872. Very rare. Proof. Estimate: 35,000,- euros

06314a00 06314r00

Lot 6314: WEIMAR REPUBLIC. 50 reichspfennig 1924 F. Proof. Estimate: 7,500,- euros

06442a00 06442r00
Lot 6442: GDR. Pattern for 50 pfennig 1949 A. Extremely rare. Nearly FDC. Estimate: 5,000,- euros

06674a00 06674r00

Lot 6674: LORENZ COLLECTION. 10 reichspfennig 1947 A, plain edge. With Slavic number 7. Zinc. Extremely rare. Extremely fine to FDC. Estimate: 4,000,- euros

06695a00 06695r00

Lot 6695: LORENZ COLLECTION. 2 DM 1950 D with deepened edge lettering, in between deepened oak leaves with acorns, ears. Devalued by hole. Extremely rare. Nearly FDC. Estimate:

You can order the catalogs at Künker, Nobbenburgerstr. 4a, 49076 Osnabrück; Tel: + 49 541 96202 0; Fax: + 49 541 96202 22; or email: Please also find all pieces up for auction online at


Björn Schöpe writes:

In June of 2012 Künker Auction 211 offered Chinese dies and punches. They originated from the archives of the Otto Beh company from Esslingen and are witnesses to the beginning of modern Chinese numismatics. The patterns of these dies belong to the most sought after rarities of Chinese numismatics.

Aiming at the preservation of cultural property international trade, the owner of the objects, academics, and museums collaborated in order to integrate these objects into the permanent exhibit of the coin cabinet Moritzburg of Halle.

Björn provided this press release about the new exhibit. Thanks! -Editor

World Money Fair 2016

The delivery of the dies to the Foundation of Domes and Castles of Saxony-Anhalt was celebrated by many. From l. to r.: Ulrich Künker, Managing Director of Fritz Rudolf Künker GmbH & Co KG, Ulf Dräger, director of the state coin cabinet Moritzburg, Robert Mish, President of Mish International USA, Michael Chou, Owner of Champion Auction, Hong Kong-Taipei-Shanghai, Dr Christian Philipsen, president of the Foundation of Domes and Castles of Saxony-Anhalt.

This is a story about globalization, long before the word even existed. It’s a story about German technology, Chinese coinage and about the cooperation between the numismatic trade, collectors, academics, and museums.

But let’s start at the beginning: In June of 2012 lot no. 2528 of Künker Auction 211 offered Chinese dies and punches. They originated from the archives of the Otto Beh company from Esslingen. In a Festschrift, to commemorate the 125th anniversary of this company, they had been written about in German only - which might have been the reason they weren’t getting any international attention. The Künker Auction catalog 211 on the other hand, was also being read in China and what experts found, provoked a substantial discussion.

What one needs to know: the patterns of these dies belong to the most sought after rarities of Chinese numismatics. In auctions they reach results in the six digit region, partly because of the scholarly mystery which surrounded them in terms of where they had been produced. The find of the dies answered this question.

The patterns from the dies of the company of Otto Beh are witnesses to the beginning of modern Chinese numismatics, when, in the course of modernization of the country, western means of payments were introduced. In this context, coin presses from the best known companies were ordered: from Philadelphia, Birmingham and of course, Germany. The German company Schuler delivered its first friction presses to China in 1895. And the first dies for those machines were commissioned to the engraving company of Otto Beh, located in Esslingen. He produced over 40 dies for Schuler. In 1898 and 1899 Beh received a second order from a merchant of the city of Magdeburg. All in all the Otto Beh company produced more than 200 dies for Chinese mints, which partially - this is the time shortly before the Boxer rebellion - never opened.

On the one hand this made the dies offered by Künker a high-level document of Chinese-German numismatic and economic history. On the other hand, they could have potentially been misused by criminals to produce counterfeits. And this is the reason Michael Chou, owner of Champion auction house of Hong Kong, contacted Künker to not publicly auction these objects off. It did not take long to convince the owner to withdraw the lot and with the help of a micro engraving, the dies were rendered useless for producing exact copies of the in demand patterns.

For a long time, both Künker and Michael Chou were looking for a museum in China or Germany, who would make these precious pieces available for the public. On the condition to integrate the dies in a permanent exhibit, the coin cabinet Moritzburg of Halle was chosen to give a home to these valuable artifacts. And it certainly is the right place, already giving a home to the second largest collection of Chinese coins in Germany. Together with the early modern Stolberg mint, also cared for by the coin cabinet, the history of coin producing presents the main research focus of Ulf Dräger, director of the state coin cabinet at the Moritzburg gallery.

He himself and Dr Christian Philipsen, president of the Foundation of Domes and Castles of Saxony-Anhalt, came to Berlin to receive the precious donation during a celebratory ceremony at the World Money Fair. Auction house Künker was presented by Ulrich Künker and Dr Andreas Kaiser. Michael Chou embraced the chance to personally say a few words to all attendees.

But it was Ulrich Künker, who best summarized the core message of this event: “What we do here is lived protection of culture. We all carry the responsibility for the important documents of our past. This celebratory ceremony today at the World Money Fair was only possible because of the collaboration of the international trade, the owner of the objects, academics, and museums. And it happened in a pragmatic and friendly atmosphere, which was about finding a solution and making everybody a winner.”

Starting on September 17th, 2016, as part of a special exhibit about Chinese coinage, the dies will be presented to the public at Moritzburg.


Anne Bentley of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Dick Hanscom in Alaska and David Pickup in the U.K. all forwarded this BBC News article about a request for assistance from a museum in China. Thanks! -Editor

Arabic coin found in China A museum in eastern China is offering a reward to anyone who can decipher the inscriptions written on six gold coins in its collection.

The centuries-old coins were first unearthed on a farm in the southern Hunan province in the 1960s, where they had been kept inside a small glazed pot. They arrived at Jinshi City's museum in the 1980s, and archaeologists have been puzzling over their markings ever since, the Xinhua news agency reports. Now the museum says it'll hand out 10,000 yuan ($1,500; £1,100) to anyone who can help to shed light on the meaning of the coins' etchings.

The director of the city's Cultural Relics Bureau says they were manufactured in the Delhi Sultanate, the main Muslim sultanate in northern India, around the late 13th Century during China's Yuan dynasty. The front of the coins bears the name of a king, written in a rare form of Arabic, Peng Jia tells the China News Service. "But the information on the back is difficult to decode. I have consulted Chinese and foreign experts, but to no avail."

The coins have been designated as "first-grade national cultural relics", meaning they are officially considered national treasures in China.

Anne adds:

Someone, somewhere has to figure this out sometime!!

Surely these inscriptions could be easily transcribed by the right person. Can anyone help? The chore could probably be done remotely using images of the coins. -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
China museum offers reward to decode historic coins (

NNP ad04 Newmans Own


This article discusses an archeological site on a remote Swedish island, where a nasty massacre occurred some 1,500 years ago. -Editor

Roman coin at Öland Island massacre site On Öland, an island off the coast of Sweden, archaeologists have unearthed the remains of a 1,500-year-old fort whose inhabitants were brutalized in such an extreme way that legends about it persist to this day. As researchers piece together the fort's final days, it sounds like they're telling a horror story.

Possibly hundreds of people sheltering behind the fort's defenses were executed and abandoned, their bodies left to rot in place without burial. Their wounds were indicative of execution. And some of their mouths were stuffed with goat and sheep teeth, possibly a dark reference to the Roman tradition of burying warriors with coins in their mouths.

None of their considerable wealth was looted, which is highly unusual. Researchers have found barely hidden valuables in every house they've excavated. Even the livestock was left behind after the slaughter, locked up to die of starvation. This is even more bizarre than the lack of looting. On an island with scarce resources, it would have been considered a waste for victors (or neighbors) to leave healthy horses and sheep behind after battle.

It was a bizarre, kill-all-zombies-style attack.

The people of this fort were being shunned, consigned to a "humiliation worse than death," according to archaeologist Helena Victor, who is heading up the dig. We may never know what caused them to suffer such an unusual punishment, but their fate tells us a lot about what life was like on this island in the mid-400s CE.

Today known as Sandby Borg, it once enclosed more than 50 family homes. Some 36 percent of the Roman coins found on Öland come from Sandby Borg and surrounding areas.

We will probably never know why Sandby Borg was destroyed so thoroughly—and in such an ugly way. From the skeletons uncovered so far, Victor and her colleagues believe it was no pirate raid. This was a political act—another group on the island wanted to consolidate power. And it worked. The shunning was total. Even today, people in local villages say they were warned not to visit the ruins as children because of ghosts and curses.

For once, superstition has actually helped the progress of science. Because people were afraid to loot or touch Sandby Borg, the town has remained frozen in time, with all its artifacts intact. It offers archaeologists a perfect snapshot of life in the mid-400s, at a time of dramatic transition for Europe.

The researchers have only examined 2 percent of the site, and Victor is hoping the Swedish government will grant permission for them to excavate further.

To read the complete article, see:
Remains at a Swedish fort tell a story of bloody Iron Age warfare (

Stacks-Bowers E-Sylum ad 2016-02-14 Pogue


I almost missed this great CoinWeek article by Mike Markowitz on ancient counterfeiters. It was published February 1, 2016. Here's an excerpt - be sure to read the complete version online. -Editor

ancient_fakes AROUND 650 BCE, on the eastern shore of the Aegean Sea, coinage was invented. Very soon afterward, counterfeit coinage appeared, and it has been with us ever since. Counterfeiting has been called the world’s “second oldest profession”

There were two basic ways of counterfeiting ancient coins.

The first was to cover a base metal core with a thin layer of precious metal and then strike it between engraved dies. If the coating was seamless, the dies of good quality, and the weight of the finished piece close enough to the official standard, such coins might pass as genuine. They are known as fourées, from a French word meaning “stuffed.”

The second way was to make clay molds from an original coin, and then pour molten metal into the molds, usually leaded copper alloy. Ceramic molds could be mass-produced cheaply, so low-value copper coins could be counterfeited profitably. There was a chronic shortage of small change in ancient economies, so even poor quality fakes were accepted in markets for lack of anything better. Authorities tended to ignore such forgeries, even when they enforced savage penalties against counterfeiting precious metal coins.

The “owl” tetradrachms of Athens enjoyed a reputation as good silver and circulated widely in the ancient world. Imitations were so common that in 375 BCE the city enacted “Nikophon’s Law”, establishing official coin testers in the agora (public market):

The Tester would carefully inspect suspected coins, weigh them against the official standard (an “Attic” or Athenian tetradrachm was supposed to weigh 17.24 grams), and perhaps make test cuts on the edge with a small chisel to see if there was a plated core.

Many surviving owls bear such test cuts, which greatly reduce their value to collectors. Some counterfeit owls, even with noticeably deficient weight, managed to survive intact and be collectable today — a 12.44 gram example sold for $300 in a recent auction.


A handful of ancient counterfeiters’ dies used to strike denarii have survived to command high prices on the antiquities market; the example illustrated went for $4,000 in a 2014 auction[9]. There are even fake ancient counterfeiter’s dies (used to strike modern fakes of ancient Roman coins – a topic we will explore in a future article).

To read the complete article, see:
Bad Money: Ancient Counterfeiters and Their Coins (


Steve Bishop submitted this article on the 1797 recoining program of Czar Paul I of Russia. Thanks! -Editor

One of my collecting interests is the copper coinage of 18th century Russia, especially coins that are overstruck on previous coined pieces of a different design and/or denomination. The overstriking of Russian copper coinage in the 18th century was widespread. It started under Peter I (The Great) (1682-1725) and culminated spectacularly in 1797 under Paul I (1796-1801). The largest quantity of overstruck coins logically occurred under Catherine II (The Great) (1762-1796), as her reign was one of the longest at 35 years. Although many overstruck Russian copper coins of Catherine II are described as rare or very rare by many sellers on eBay, for example, most are actually fairly common. Indeed, many dates in the Catherine II 5 kopeck series are found mainly overstruck.

There are a few reasons why these overstrikings occurred. The lack of new planchets was one possible reason, although, considering the vast reserves of copper in Russia at the time, this was probably not significant. Another reason might have been royal jealousy. Many Catherine II 5 kopeck pieces were struck over 5 kopeck pieces of Elizabeth (1741-1761), which might have been Catherine’s way of eradicating the memory of her previously longest reigning predecessor other than Peter I.

The most predominant reason for overstriking is also the most logical: a change in the monetary standard. The first overstrikings under Anna Ivanovna started in 1730 when she changed the copper coin standard from 40 rubles to 1 pood of copper to the new standard of 10 robles to 1 pood of copper. (A pood is a unit of mass equal to 40 funt (фунт, Russian pound). Plural: pudi or pudy. It is approximately 16.38 kilograms (36.11 pounds)). Old Peter I kopecks, cruciform 1-kopecks, dengas (1/2 kopeck) and polushkas (1/4 kopeck) were redeemed and withdrawn from circulation. They were recoined into dengas and polushkas of the new standard according to their weight, or got melted at the Mints.

This practice continued under subsequent rulers as monetary standards fluctuated. The scarcity of the coins of Peter III (1762) derive not only from the shortness of his reign (a mere 6 months), but also from Catherine II changing the monetary standard back to the 16 rubles to the pood that had existed under Elizabeth, but had been changed to 32 rubles to the pood by Peter III. This change prompted Catherine to recoin most of the 10 kopeck and 4 kopeck pieces minted by Peter into 5 and 2 kopeck pieces, respectively.

Overstriking reached its extreme under Paul I. At the end of her reign in 1796, Catherine II changed the monetary standard to 32 rubles to the pood from the 16 rubles to the pood that had existed for most of her reign. The newly minted coins were of a new design: on the obverse, a simple monogram of a script “E” with a “II” superimposed on the middle loop of the “E” accompanied by a number of dots representing the denomination, and the reverse carrying the date and an inscription of the denomination. These are known as the “Cipher Series”, and are quite rare, because of the actions of Paul I in 1797.

Paul, as crown prince, had opposed the changing of the monetary standard in 1796, but had been overruled by his mother. With his ascension to Czar after Catherine’s death, he promptly reversed his mother’s decision and changed the monetary standard back to 16 rubles to the pood. The problem was that 2,378,400 rubles worth of the newly minted Cipher coins remained.

Paul’s solution was tried and true: he either melted the earlier coinage or restruck them back into denominations corresponding to the desired monetary standard. His decision was controversial, and, as B.F. Brekke states that “… in order to put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the ‘previous administration,’ the about 2 million rubles worth of lightweight coins was to be overstruck with Catherine’s design!” Three denominations were produced, ranging from scarce to unique. Only one 1 Kopeck piece is known, dated 1793 with the mintmark EM (Ekaterinberg), and is housed in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Three scarce to rare varieties of 2 Kopeck pieces were struck, dated 1793 EM, and one extremely rare, possibly unique, variety dated 1796 AM (Annensk).


The recoining program was carried out at a total of 5 mints, Ekaterinberg, Annensk, St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Moscow’s branch, Nizhny Novgorod. There are, however, only three mintmark varieties to be found: no mintmark, AM, and the most common, EM. Five different dates were produced of the most common denomination, 5 Kopecks, and they range from scarce to extremely rare.




It is usually not difficult to discern the coins from Paul’s recoining program from coins that were overstruck by Catherine or coins of the same date. Firstly, if the coin shows signs of overstriking, and is dated 1791, 1793, 1794, 1795, or 1796, it is a product of the 1797 recoining program, as no coins were originally overstruck in those years. Secondly, most of the recoined pieces, since they have been overstruck at least twice, are wide and thinner than the typical 5 Kopeck coin of Catherine II, and typically exhibit a lack of detail in the designs. In fact, it is theoretically possible that such a coin may have been struck a total of five times!

Here is the possible sequence: a 5 Kopeck piece of Elizabeth, restruck as a 10 Kopeck piece in 1762 by Peter III, restruck again as a 5 Kopeck piece by Catherine II ca. 1763-89, restruck a third time as a 10 Kopeck piece of the Cipher design in 1796, and restruck a fourth time as a 5 Kopeck piece of the usual Catherine II design in 1797 by Paul I. (Can you imagine how one of these coins would feel? “Oh, come on! Make up your mind, already!). Obviously, this would be difficult to confirm, as traces of earlier overstriking would have been obliterated by later ones, and thus the third way of discerning coins from the 1797 recoining program is by identifying traces of the 1796 Cipher design under the Catherine II 5 Kopeck design. The most telling clue is remnants of the distinctive dots of the Cipher design. Other prominent traces also found are remains of the large script “E”, the 1796 date, and the denomination inscription.

In conclusion, the coins resulting from the 1797 recoining program of Czar Paul I stand out among other overstruck Russian coins of the 18th century by virtue of their unique physical characteristics and their historical circumstances. It is this distinctiveness that drives my interest in them and compels me to acquire as many of these unusual coins as I can, if they are available at a reasonable price.

(NOTE: This article was derived extensively from material found in The Copper Coinage of Imperial Russia, 1700-1917, by B.F Brekke, and the article “XVIII Century Copper "Overstrikes": from Peter the Great Cruciform 5-Kopecks to 2-Kopecks of Paul’s Recoining with Ekaterina II Monogram Dies”, by Eugene Skobtchenko, first published in the “Petersburg Collector” (Питербургский Коллекционер) in 2014.)

DLRC ad 2016-02-21b


Fred Schwan forwarded this information about the keynote speaker at the upcoming MPCFest 17, a gathering of collectors of Military Payment Certificates and related numismatic items. Thanks. -Editor

Greg Hale portrait Gregory Hale is an Australian collector, author and researcher of military numismatics from World War II in the South West Pacific. He will be the keynote speaker at MPCFest 17. The theme for this year's Fest is the South West Pacific Area. Presentations at MPCFest are called staff briefings.

From an early age Greg was fascinated with military numismatics and is an avid collector of military notes, coins, stamps and ephemera. His main collecting focus is Japanese invasion money.

Greg enjoys uncovering the stories behind JIM notes; the counterfeiting; note design and use of imagery and propaganda. He is at-heart a collector and enjoys the challenge of building sets by collecting by prefix.

JIM Hale book cover Through his quest for knowledge and after many years of research, he has written and published The Collector’s Guide to Japanese Invasion Money. The book has been sold worldwide and is held by the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, State and National Libraries in Australia, Oxford University in the UK, the American Numismatic Society, and is used by collectors around the world.

Greg studied art and design at university. He holds a Masters Degree in design and currently runs his own advertising agency in Brisbane, Australia. Greg also studied defence force psychology at university, including research on soldiers with PTSD. His research has taken him all over the world – from Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima, the key bookends to World War II in the Pacific. His research has been ably assisted by archivists, museum staff and Australian War Memorial researchers.

As part of his numismatic research, Greg has scoured declassified documents from the Australian Government’s archives and uncovered fascinating stories, including MacArthur’s counterfeiting operations in Brisbane.

His keynote presentation will be at 1pm on April 2 where he will discuss his favorite topic--Japanese Invasion Money--and share some of his adventures in collecting. After the presentation, he will authograph copies of his book. Only a few copies will be available at the presentation. Collectors are encouraged to bring their copies for autographing.

MPCFest is the most unusual numismatic event of the year is held right here in Ohio approximately at the other end of I75 from Cincinnati. MPCFest is an event held in Port Clinton for collectors of military payment certificates and the many related (loosely) areas of numismatics. The Fest is a closed event from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon requiring registration and payment of a registration fee. Registration then not only allows participation in all events, but requires it! For the curious or less committed a Fest bourse is free and open to the public is Friday from 10am to 4pm.

Even the bourse is unique. It is the only one-day bourse in the country that is held on Friday. You might find just about anything at the bourse, but you can expect to find military payment certificates, Allied military currency, war and defense bonds, HAWAII notes, Philippine notes of many types, Japanese Invasion Money and much, much more. The first MPCFest was held in 2000. Twelve collectors attended. This will be the 17th consecutive MPCFest. We would love to see you there!

MPCFest April 1-3. Holiday Inn Express, Port Clinton, OH. Friday bourse April 1 10am-4pm free to all. Friday evening through Sunday evening by pre registration only. Questions call Fred at 419 349 1872. Reservations Holiday Inn Express 50 NE Catawba Rd., Port Clinton, OH 43452 877-859-5095. Email: .


David Sundman shared this article from the Washington Post by former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers chiming in on the calls to eliminate high-denomination banknotes. Thanks. -Editor

Bundles of 100 dollar bills Harvard's Mossavar Rahmani Center for Business and Government, which I am privileged to direct, has just issued an important paper by senior fellow Peter Sands and a group of student collaborators. The paper makes a compelling case for stopping the issuance of high denomination notes like the 500 euro note and $100 bill or even withdrawing them from circulation.

I remember that when the euro was being designed in the late 1990s, I argued with my European G7 colleagues that skirmishing over seigniorage by issuing a 500 euro note was highly irresponsible and mostly would be a boon to corruption and crime. Since the crime and corruption in significant part would happen outside European borders, I suggested that, to paraphrase John Connally, it was their currency, but would be everyone’s problem. And I made clear that in the context of an international agreement, the U.S. would consider policy regarding the $100 bill. But because the Germans were committed to having a high denomination note, the issue was never seriously debated in international forums.

The fact that — as Sands points out — in certain circles the 500 euro note is known as the “Bin Laden” confirms the arguments against it. Sands’ extensive analysis is totally convincing on the linkage between high denomination notes and crime. He is surely right that illicit activities are facilitated when a million dollars weighs 2.2 pounds as with the 500 euro note rather than more than 50 pounds as would be the case if the $20 bill was the high denomination note. And he is equally correct in arguing that technology is obviating whatever need there may ever have been for high denomination notes in legal commerce.

What should happen next? I’d guess the idea of removing existing notes is a step too far. But a moratorium on printing new high denomination notes would make the world a better place.

To read the complete article, see:
It’s time to kill the $100 bill (/

Kolbe-Fanning website ad6


Occasionally we'll veer into a discussion of numismatics in the popular media such as books, movies and television shows. Gerald Tebben published an article February 19, 2016 in Coin World about a funny 1961 episode of The Andy Griffith Show. -Editor

A running gag involving a fictional mint error plays a major part in the “Mayberry on Record” episode (season 1, episode 19) of The Andy Griffith Show and caused perhaps a few of the more gullible among us to check our change for a certain supposedly misstruck Indian Head 5-cent piece in the early 1960s.

At the beginning of the episode, Deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts) says he’s looking for an investment “that zooms overnight.”

“It happens, you know,” he says, plopping himself down on top of a table. “Oil stocks and uranium.”

Sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) cautions, “You better watch this investing business. The woods are full of con men. You’d be just ripe for the plucking, too.”

Barney, calling himself “old eagle-eye,” says that’s not likely, providing an intro for the joke that falsely foreshadows the drama to come.

Andy, sitting at his desk, says, “Well now, I’ll tell you. If you’re really considering investing, why don’t you try coin collecting?”

“Coin collecting for investing?” Barney asks.

Andy replies, “Well sure, its a good hobby, and you can’t never tell when you’ll come across a rare old coin that might bring you a whole lot of money.”

“A coin? Cut it out,” Barney says.

Andy shows Barney wrong-way Buffalo nickel “Well sure. Look here. Look right here,” Andy says opening his desk drawer and taking out a coin. “See that nickel right there. Now I paid $10 for that nickel. A month later a fellow offered me 50 for it. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if I was to advertise I’d get, oh, a couple hundred dollars.”

“For a nickel. How come,” Barney asks.

Andy replies, “Well, they made a mistake at the mint. Look right here. See that buffalo right there?”

“Yeah,” Barney affirms.

“Facing the wrong way,” Andy explains.

“Facing the wrong way?” Barney questions as he tries to grab coin.

Andy pulls it away, saying, “And that makes it valuable. Yeah, I don’t suspect there’s more than two or three in the whole country.”

Andy tells Barney the coin keeps increasing in value because there are so few of them.

Hooked, Barney offers to buy it. “I couldn’t give you no 200, but might go 50 – 75.”

They agree on $75 and shake hands. Andy hands the coin to Barney.

No wrong-way Buffalo nickels are known, but Indian Head 5-cent piece errors are highly collectible. In 2010, a 1913 Bison on Plain 5-cent coin struck on a dime planchet sold for $46,000 at auction.

The episode can be viewed online.

To watch the episode on YouTube, see:
Andy Griffith S01E19 Mayberry on Record (

To read the complete article, see:
Coins star on television like an episode of 'The Andy Griffith Show' (


In earlier issues of The E-Sylum we addressed the legality (in the United States) of purchasing coins and paper money of Cuba. A Coin World article by Paul Gilkes published February 18, 2016 visits the issue, which is basically unchanged awaiting Congressional action. -Editor

1983 Cuba three pesos note As the United States begins to repair its relations with the island nation of Cuba, American collectors begin to wonder whether they will be able to freely collect the paper money Cuba has issued since the Revolution and dictatorship under Fidel Castro, and subsequently his brother, Raul.

It is still illegal for U.S. citizens to import numismatic collectibles from Cuba, including coins and paper money, but such material somehow manages to make its way to American soil.

Many notes can be obtained for a few dollars each, up to several hundred dollars each for rare notes or varieties.

Once here, the numismatic items are offered for sale at public auction, on coin show bourses and other venues. Except eBay, which imposes a ban on the sale of Cuban numismatic material.

Francis X Putrow, a past president of the Cuban Numismatic Association, said recently that just about everything between the U.S. and Cuba is status quo.

“My understanding is that there have been no changes regarding the Cuban embargo,” Putrow said. “It will take an act of Congress to officially lift the embargo. Until then, I would not expect eBay to officially change their policy of not listing Cuban coins, paper money, etc. However, a few listings can be found on eBay today.”

Another past CNA president, Emilio M. Ortiz, provided additional insights.

“Ebay has not relented in their improper and draconian blockade of Cuban numismatic material listings at their site, Ortiz said. “The material they are blocking includes currency printed by the U.S. [Bureau of Engraving and Printing] as well as banknotes printed by ABNCo [American Bank Note Company] and TdeLR [Thomas de la Rue].

“As far as the law is concerned, the embargo is still in effect and can only be revoked by an act of Congress, however legal experts have stated over and over that numismatic material is EXCLUDED, even from the Fidel Castro period (2nd. Republic) as long as it was not directly purchased from any Cuban Government entity.”

The total ban by eBay on the sale of Cuban numismatic material was imposed effective April 9, 2013.

Mark Flaa, eBay’s category manager for bullion, coins and currency, said Jan. 22, 2016, that the online auction site is still waiting to see what action, if any, Congress and the State Department will take that would allow eBay to lift its ban on Cuban numismatic items.

While the ban is imposed on the U.S. version of the eBay website, some versions — possibly hosted where no governmental bans are in place — from other countries still show listings of Cuban numismatic material. A recent check showed listings from sellers in Canada, Spain, Argentina, Croatia and the Czech Republic.

Be sure to read the complete article online and view the image gallery (you have to click on the main image first to get there). I like the Bay of Pigs counterfeit notes. -Editor


As part of the CIA’s plan to overthrow Fidel Castro’s regime during the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, counterfeit Series 1961 20-peso notes bearing F69 and F70 block designations were printed for invaders to have a medium of monetary exchange. The Paper Money Guaranty 63 Exceptional Paper Quality example shown sold for $305.50 on Jan. 12, 2015, in a Heritage Auctions sale.

To read the complete article, see:
Collecting the so-called ‘forbidden’ notes of the island nation of Cuba (

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:

Kolbe Personal Library buying ad 2016-02-14


This article from the Shanghai Daily describes an odd diversion for a shipment of banknotes on their way to South Africa. -Editor

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) said on Thursday it was working with Zimbabwean authorities for the release of millions of rand seized by Zimbabwe.

But the bank refused to divulge the exact amount of bank notes seized by Zimbabwe.

Also on Thursday, South Africa's ambassador to Zimbabwe, Vusi Mavimbela said he was negotiating with Zimbabwean authorities for the release of bank notes in a cargo plane which was impounded by Zimbabwe authorities at the Harare International Airport on Sunday.

The plane, carrying rand notes printed in Munich Germany, was seized in Zimbabwe after a dead body, believed to be a stowaway, was found on board. The plane was en-route to South Africa on Sunday when it lost signal and made an unscheduled landing at Harare International Airport.

During refuelling, blood was discovered in a crevice on the side of the plane belonging to the Western Global Airlines, a U.S.- based freight company. The SARB said it hired the plane to transport bank notes.

South Africa's bank notes are produced both locally and internationally to reduce any major disruption in domestic bank note operations, SARB group executive for the currency cluster Pradeep Maharaj said.

Zimbabwean police spokeswoman Charity Charamba told the state-run Herald newspaper that an investigation was still underway.

To read the complete article, see:
S. Africa negotiates with Zimbabwe for release of seized bank notes (


E-Sylum readers should be familiar with "hell money", fake banknotes made in Asia to be burned as a ritual offering for their dead. Here's an interesting twist - a Vietnamese couple was stopped at the Detroit airport with suitcases full of fake U.S. banknotes, which they claimed they planned to burn as "hell money". -Editor

A simple yes or no question led to the discovery of more than $4.6 million in what is referred to as “hell money” and the swift involvement of U.S. Homeland Security and the U.S. Secret Service at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

A Vietnamese couple flying in from Seoul Korea Friday with more than $4.6 million in counterfeit U.S. cash gave conflicting answers when asked if they were traveling with more than $10,000.

It is a routine question for international travelers on a questionnaire.

According to Ken Hammond, chief Customs and Border Protection officer, the couple explained the money is called “hell money” in their culture and it was planned to be used as burnt offerings to the deceased.

The ritual is an often practiced custom in certain Asian cultures.

It was packed in numerous luggage bags.

Hammond said after questioning it was the final determination of the Secret Service that the couple’s explanation was credible.

Although importing any amount of counterfeit currency is illegal, Hammond said there was no criminal intent associated with their travel.

The couple was not arrested, but the counterfeit money was seized by the Secret Service.

They were allowed to keep their legitimate Vietnamese Dong (Asian currency).

It is not clear who they were planning the burning ritual for or if their destination was actually Romulus or another destination.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, hell money is a form of joss paper printed to resemble legal tender bank notes.

The notes are not an officially recognized currency, nor are they legal tender.

If checked with our resident expert Howard Daniel, who writes:

There are currently about four or five varieties of hell notes with the US$100 design on both sides. It is printed on TISSUE PAPER and nothing like authentic notes. The block letters and serial numbers are also altered. There is NO WAY it could be considered counterfeit money but some younger customs agents need to be educated about them. Most of the older customs agents understand their use.

To read the complete article, see:
Couple tells Secret Service they planned to burn millions in counterfeit hell money (


Is nothing sacred? Even Monopoly Money is under the gun in our march to the cashless society. -Editor

Monopoly Ultimate Banking Edition The latest version of Monopoly adds a new spin to the debate over who gets to be the banker. The decades-old board game, a Hasbro Inc. brand, is getting a modern upgrade this fall with an “Ultimate Banking” version that does away with the game’s iconic paper money in favor of bank cards.

Transactions, including purchasing property and paying rent, will be handled as they are in modern-day real life, with the tap of a card on the “ultimate banking unit.”

And for the real-estate mogul in the making, the bank cards also track wealth and property values, which can rise and fall. Rents for properties on the board also fluctuate, according to Jonathan Berkowitz, senior vice president of the gaming division of Hasbro.

Other versions of the Monopoly game currently on sale include a “Here & Now” edition, which has players travel around the board, and around the world, to collect passport stamps; an edition based on Marvel’s “Avengers” that challenges players to save the day by choosing a character, from Iron Man to the Black Widow, to complete a series of missions; and Monopoly Junior, a version of the classic game for younger players.

To read the complete article, see:
Monopoly trades colorful currency for bank cards in its ‘Ultimate Banking’ game (


This week's Featured Web Page is the History of New Zealand Coinage from the site of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

In the 1840s and 1850s there was an extreme shortage of coins, especially copper coins. Traders tried the issue of low value paper notes to remedy this situation but this was soon abandoned. Instead, as this shortage intensified throughout the 1850s, businesses in Auckland and Dunedin decided to issue their first copper tokens in 1857. In all, 48 traders (mostly retailers) issued their own penny and half-penny tokens. This practice survived until 1881 with their use gradually declining in the 1880s.

In 1897, New Zealand's currency became subject to certain provisions stated in the Imperial Coinage Act, 1870 (UK). This meant that only British coin became the official legal tender coin of the colony. At that time, it was already one of the two ‘common' currencies, along with Australian minted gold sovereign and half sovereign coins.

PREV        NEXT        V19 2016 INDEX        E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

Back to top
NBS ( Web