The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 14, Number 2, January 9, 2011, Article 17


Well, I guess I'm one of the handful of U.S. numismatists who WASN'T at either of the major shows this week - F.U.N. in Florida, or the New York International. I've just been ramping down from the holidays. I did find use at home for one of the new Union Shield cents. Although my kids now have the new Xbox 360 Kinect game we've spent a lot of time recently playing family bowling tournaments on the Wii.

Union Shield Cent Moneybags Dad got asked to foot some prize money. After rooting through my pockets I came up with these prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place: a dollar, fifty cents, and A SHINY NEW PENNY! They had a lot of fun with the concept of a shiny new penny as a prize. Maybe next time that'll be the FIRST place prize.

Wednesday morning I stopped at Walmart on the way to work and asked for some cash back at the register to save a trip to the ATM. I asked for $60, but instead of the three 20s the ATM would have given me, I got a $50 and a $10. It's not like I've never seen a $50 before, but I rarely have them since the ATM doesn't. I looked it over and immediately noticed the stamped chop on the back.

"R R" chop on $50 bill

It looked like two R's in a circle, stamped in the upper right corner of the back of the note. Below is a closeup of the chop, along with an image of one we discussed before, also on a $50 bill. In that article, Tom DeLorey wrote:

Here at Harlan Berk's coin store in downtown Chicago, it is not unusual to see $50 and $100 bills with small rubber stamps on them. They are presumably bankers' and money exchangers' marks from overseas, indicating that the bank or exchanger in question has examined the note and found it to be genuine. It is the equivalent of the Chinese chop mark on 19th century crown-sized coins such as Trade Dollars.

"R R" chop on $50 bill $50 with star stamp closeup

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: STAR STAMPS ON PAPER MONEY: MODERN CHOP MARKS (

On Wednesday evening I took my father-in-law to see the new movie True Grit. There were two scenes of numismatic interest. In one, $300 changes hands. It was all paper money, but did not look to me like typical stage money. The glimpse was fleeting, but these looked like "antiqued" paper repros of 1860s Demand Notes and large-size National Bank Notes. I believe the scene was set in about 1878.

The other numismatic scene involved what the characters called "a California gold piece." The scene was also set around 1878. When the piece was finally seen on screen it was a squarish ingot with stamped lettering. It went by so fast I was unable to make out what it said. The item appeared to have the bright brassy color of a repro rather than the dull yellow of real gold.

Has anyone else seen these scenes?

On Sunday I had a couple hours in the afternoon to work on The E-Sylum and managed to get most of it done so I could get to bed at a decent hour tonight. I went out to dinner with my family and while waiting for the check I got some new emails from Pete Smith and Dick Doty. I paid our bill with that chopped $50 note.

Once the kids were in bed I finished The E-Sylum and worked on plans for the next meeting of Nummis Nova, my Northern Virginia numismatic social group. The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, but there's a forecast of snow and I exchanged emails with a couple folks about possibly rescheduling. As a Yankee I tend not to worry too much about driving in snow, but it's a Big Deal down here. When everybody's skittish about snow it's not good for anyone.

I recalled fondly the two or three times I held my steering wheel tight and tensely watched my rear-view mirror while my car slid backwards down an ice-slicked hill. Never hit anything, thankfully. But those were quiet residential streets, not the Beltway at rush hour.

I wondered what folks not used to snow would think about driving in snow on Pittsburgh's hills. I've seen nothing in this part of Virginia that's close to a Pittsburgh hill. Visiting our old neighbors in Pittsburgh over the holiday, we parked our family van in their driveway. We were all leaning back in our seats like astronauts strapped in a space capsule ready for launch. Before we moved to Virginia, we wouldn’t have even noticed.

The only remaining numismatic item to report relates to literature. If only it weren't a dream. I came down with a bug and left work early Thursday. I went to bed at 5pm for a nap, but didn't get up until 6:30 Friday morning. I felt better and went to work, but had a relapse the next night. Not feeling well, I hit the sack again.

And early Saturday morning, the same day as the Kolbe & Fanning numismatic literature sale in New York, I dreamt that I'd purchased a 19th century numismatist's desk, complete with numismatic books, periodicals, catalogs and correspondence of the day. We're talking a big, highboy-style desk here, with lots of shelves and compartments.

Don't ask me how it got shipped here - in a giant box with a crapload of bubble wrap? Anyway, I'm opening book after book and exploring nook after cranny having great fun discovering neat numismatic literature. Then George Kolbe shows up, apparently having teleported himself straight in from New York. As we looked through everything together, George rarely looked up, saying little more than, "hmmmm".

Then I woke up. Hmmmm, indeed.

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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