The E-Sylum:  Volume 6, Number 54, December 21, 2003, Article 6


  David Gladfelter wrote: "The deluxe Franklin Pierce copy of
  Ormsby is in the Heritage/Currency Auctions of America FUN
  sale next month. It has a realistic $15K-up estimate.  There is
  also a nice run of Heath detectors.  These are all listed in the
  back of the catalog under "miscellaneous". Go to

  [See lot 16959.  I've taken the liberty of publishing the
  lot description below.  If memory serves, this copy was
  discovered in New England by Bob Wester.  Can anyone
  confirm that?   Where has it been in the meantime?  The
  book's pedigree is alluded to in the catalog description, but
  not published.  The description begins with the text of a
  letter which accompanies the book.  -Editor]

  New York Jan 31 1853
  Dear Sir:
  Allow me to present you with a copy of my late work on
  Bank Note Engraving which will explain the cause of the
  vast amount of counterfeiting in this country. This is the first
  publication on this subject, and it is daily growing more and
  more important to every person in the community.  I beg
  permission to call on you, at some future time, when my
  plans for constructing bank notes to prevent forgery are
  mature, that I may have an opportunity of convincing you
  of the utter insecurity of our  present paper money, and the
  necessity of Legislative action on the subject.  At present I
  will only ask your attention to the important requisites of a
  Bank Note which    constitute its value - there are but two -
  first that the Bank be good - second that the note be genuine.
  The people loose (sic) more by counterfeiting money than
  by broken banks. It is therefore of as much importance to the
  poor people to have the note genuine as it is to have the Bank
  good. It is my object and aim to instruct the people in the art
  of Bank Note Engraving to the end that our General Banking
  Laws may be amended, so that they should define no less
  particularly the manner in which a note must be engraved than
  the manner in which the bank must be organized.   Many of the
  counterfeit bills in circulation are absolutely the work of the
  original engravers. Counterfeiters obtained their work in spite
  of their utmost efforts to prevent it. This is all owing to the patch
  work system of constructing the note and the use of dies in the
  engraving of plates.   My plan is to have a Bank Note one
  design or picture, with all the lettering interwoven in it. The
  whole to be engraved on the plate by the hand of the artist with
  out the use of dies. A counterfeiter then would be obliged to do
  the work himself in stead of employing others who do not know
  for what purpose their work is to be used. On turning to page
  52 you will learn how a counterfeit plate of a five hundred dollar
  Treasury note was engraved for a counterfeiter by the very
  engraver who executed the original plates! Such things have
  frequently occurred - the matter is seriously alarming to every
  business man.   Any encouragement which I may receive from
  you will be gracefully received by

  Your most obedient humble Sevt,
  W. L. Ormsby

  The book itself is inscribed on the blank flyleaf, "Presented
  to Gen. Frank. Pierce by his humble Sevt. The author W.L.

  Elaborately gold leafed on both front and back covers, the
  100+  page master work measures thirteen-and-a-half inches
  by ten-and-a-half inches and contains a large number of
  beautifully detailed, superbly engraved plates, including a
  tri-color red, blue and brown frontispiece. The book is in
  flawless, as-issued condition, fully tight in its binding with
  only a few, very minor scuffs at the edges of the cover.
  Included with the book are some items of correspondence
  between previous owners, one of which discusses a possible
  $16,000 valuation in 1991 and another which presents a
  history of the ownership of the book since 1853. We
  auctioned this book in May of 1998 and at that time it
  realized just over $9,000. This book would be the crowing
  glory in any numismatic library or the ultimate association
  item in a collection of Obsolete Bank Notes. Est.15,000-up.

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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