The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 14, Number 13, March 27, 2011, Article 10


Joel Orosz submitted this report on a scary recent experience with numismatic literature shipped via the U.S. Post Office. -Editor

I need to begin this truly turgid tale by telling you that, for the past 25 years, I have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with the Kalamazoo office of the United States Postal Service. My "mailbox" consists of a slot in my garage wall, and anything too large to fit into that slot has invariably been left under a small covered entryway that is literally one step to the left of the mail slot. For a quarter of a century, my numismatic literature purchases have arrived under that entryway, safely sheltered from Kalamazoo's sometimes tempestuous weather.

In the early days of March, I received a slip from my mail carrier, informing me that a much-anticipated package from Colorado Springs—my lots from David Sklow's recently-closed 12th Mail Bid Sale—was being held pending my signature to accept delivery. As I have dozens of times before, I signed the slip and left it for my carrier to pick up the next day, secure in the knowledge that in two days' time, the package would be waiting for me when I came home.

The day appointed for delivery dawned rainy, but what did I care? Twenty-five years of experience told me that when I pulled into my driveway that evening, the package would be snug under the covered entryway. Imagine my surprise when I arrived that evening to find the entryway package-less, and a sodden cardboard box sitting instead on the completely uncovered front stoop, some 20 feet away from the entryway.

With a celerity surprising for a middle-aged acolyte of Robert Maynard Hutchins ("Whenever I feel like exercise, I lie down until the feeling passes"), I reached the box, and when I lifted it, discovered several dismaying facts. First, water ran off the top in rivulets. Second, the sides of the box sagged with the weight of the contents. Third, the bottom was so saturated that it left a wet trail across the house. Grim visions of the contents filled my mind, including a particular 18th century volume that would surely be fit for nothing but a decent burial, most likely at sea.

My sense of foreboding intensified as the soggy cardboard gave way into puddles of pulp. The packing peanuts inside were literally awash in rainwater. Then, a sliver of hope: I discovered that all four of the lots I won were encased in a cocoon of bubble wrap, with seams well-taped. The outside of the bubble wrapped bundle was drenched, just as were the packing peanuts, but when I carefully prized apart the seams, I discovered that very little moisture had penetrated within. Then, extracting each of the four individually-wrapped lots in turn, I found, to my immense relief, that the tight plastic sleeves around them, again, well-sealed, had repelled what water had made it through the bubble wrapped barrier. Incredibly, David Sklow's thorough packing had completely protected all four of the lots from what otherwise would have been diluvian disaster.

All kudos to David Sklow, who proved to me that his rueful jest "Tape is my Life!" was not just idle blather. Old-time bibliomaniacs will recall that the late John Bergman literally wrote the book on how to properly pack numismatic books for shipment. David has proven to be a worthy successor to John as the Panjandrum of Packaging, for which he has earned my eternal gratitude.

But how did it come to pass that David's heroics became necessary? At first, I was absolutely gobsmacked as to how the postman on that fateful day—a substitute for my normal professional carrier, obviously—had come to leave David's shipment out in the rain. Instead of taking one small step to the left, and leaving the package under cover, he had turned completely around, walked ten paces down my driveway, then turned right and walked another twenty paces to leave the box on the unprotected front stoop. How could such a thing have happened?

Finally, however, I deduced the identity of the postal substitute on that rainy Kalamazoo afternoon: it must have been none other than the long-time proprietor of The Money Tree, Myron Xenos. It all made perfect sense. Myron is always found around numismatic literature, and anyone who knows his political persuasion understands that he would do absolutely anything to avoid taking even one tiny step to the left. Case closed! But I forgive Myron this small indiscretion, for David Sklow's nonpareil packing saved the day. And never again will I grumble at the difficulty of opening another package from David, for when it comes to numismatic books, tight and dry beats wet and wild any day!

Whew! That was a close one! -Editor

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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