The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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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. Print/Digital membership is $40 to addresses in the U.S., and $60 elsewhere. A digital-only membership is available for $25. 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:

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Content presented in The E-Sylum is not necessarily researched or independently fact-checked, and views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


As noted earlier, we're publishing a day late because of the New Year's holiday. Happy New Year!

New subscribers this week include: Harry Salyards and "David". Welcome aboard! We now have 2,045 subscribers.

This week we open with an auction reminder from Kolbe & Fanning, an offer from Dave Lange's Pennyboard Press, three new books, a new web site, two reviews, and word of the loss of two numismatic personalities.

Other topics this week include literature dealer Fred Lake, sculptor Mico Kaufman, Medallic Art Company history, 1794 Large Cents, the National Numismatic Collection, bridges on ancient coins, early U.S. labor exchange currency, special banknote serial numbers, and hairstyles on ancient coins.

To learn more about pop out repousse coins, 1881-O Morgan dollar varieties, the Virgil Brand ledgers, cameographs, Pennsylvania dealer and collector J. G. Laidacker, Napoleon and Marie-Louise, counterfeit detector notes and sheets, and counterfeit countermarks on counterfeit coins, read on. Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Editor, The E-Sylum


Here's a reminder for bidders in the upcoming Kolbe & Fanning New York Auction. -Editor

Kolbe & Fanning NY Book Auction Bidding Instructions

KF144NYCover copy_1 Kolbe & Fanning are looking forward to our 2017 New York Book Auction, which will take place on Saturday, January 14, 2016, beginning at 12:30 p.m. eastern time, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan in conjunction with the 2017 New York International Numismatic Convention. The sale features selections from the libraries of Italo Vecchi and Tom Cederlind, and includes rare and desirable works from around the world.

The sale will take place in the Norse Suite on the 18th Floor of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, the location of our past several New York Book Auctions. While we love to see our customers attend in person, there are several different methods available for bidding.

Bids may be submitted by post to the Kolbe & Fanning office in Gahanna, Ohio, but must be received by Monday, January 9 at the latest, as staff will be traveling to New York after that date. Similarly, bids may be faxed to the Gahanna office at (614) 414-0860, but must also be received by that date.

Bids may also be sent directly to David Fanning by email at or by mobile at (614) 256-8915. Phone and email bids cannot be accepted on the day of the sale, however, so these must be received by Friday, January 13.

Live online bidding will be available during the sale through our custom auction platform at Absentee bids may also be placed at any time on this site. Registration is required, and we recommend registering before the day of the sale in order to avoid delays. All lots are illustrated on this site, and the privacy of your identity and maximum bids is maintained.

Printed catalogues have been mailed to established clients and a PDF of the printed catalogue has been posted to the main website.

As always, viewing of selected lots will be held in the Library Suite on the 18th Floor of the Waldorf-Astoria. Lot viewing will take place on Thursday, January 12 from 9:00 to 5:00, Friday, January 13 from 9:00 to 6:00 and before the sale on Saturday, January 14 from 9:00 to 12:00. Given the bulk involved with book sales, we will only be bringing unusual and rare items to the lot viewing. If you wish us to bring a particular lot, please contact us immediately, as we will be sending these lots in a couple days.

Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers LLC is a licensed auction firm in the State of Ohio and is conducting the sale in conjunction with Marissa Russell, auctioneer. For more information, please see the Kolbe & Fanning website at or email David Fanning at We look forward to your participation.

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David Lange has a new offer on his PennyBoard Press titles. He will have his books on hand at the F.U.N show this week. -Editor

Lange, Coin Collecting Boards

Time flies, and there are now three titles now published under the PennyBoard Press imprint:

  • Coin Collecting Boards of the 1930s & 1940s: A Complete History, Catalog and Value Guide
  • Coin Collecting Albums: A Complete History & Catalog, Volume One - The National Coin Album & Related Products
  • Coin Collecting Albums: A Complete History & Catalog, Volume Two - Library of Coins and Treasury of Coins

National Coin Album Coin Albums Volume Two

In celebration, I'm now making a special offer to all customers: Purchase the two coin album books at their regular retail price of $49.95 each and get the coin board book for free! Just add $10.10 for priority mail shipping, for a total of $110.

All three books are richly illustrated with extensive color and b&w images. The two coin album books are deluxe, hard cover volumes with fully sewn bindings to make them last through decades of use. The coin board book is a softcover edition with coil binding to lie flat for easy, hands-free use. Each book comes with a 2017 update sheet listing new discoveries and corrections, and the board book also includes a 2017 value guide.

Payment may be made by check to David W. Lange at the address below or through PayPal to .

David W. Lange
POB 110022
Lakewood Ranch, FL 34211

To read earlier E-Sylum articles, see:


BdNonline_Materiali_35_2015 Arianna D’Ottone Rambach has published a new book on Islamic coins in the collection of Vittorio Emanuele III in the National Museum of Rome. -Editor

Arianna D’Ottone Rambach, “Roma, Museo Nazionale Romano. La Collezione di Vittorio Emanuele III. Monete Arabe”, Bollettino di Numismatica Online. Materiali – Numero 35, Rome 2015, ISSN: 0392-971X

Abbasidi coin

Fatimidi coin

To read the complete book, see:
LA COLLEZIONE DI VITTORIO EMANUELE III Numero 35 - 2015 MONETE ARABE (;jsessionid=2DEAB4A95ED3C8A6623B55794C2749FC.sgc2-prd-apps)

For other books and monographs in the series, see:

Newman Numismatic Portal Partner of the Week

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David Stump writes:

Pop Out Repousse Barber half My father Robert Stump wrote the only known book about Pop-Out coins: Pop Out Repousse Coins: A Numismatic Mystery. I'm looking for a small amount of funds to research new information, domain name and web space, and to print a limited run. A $20 dollar donation will include a copy of the book if goal is met.

Authors can use all the help they can get, and using donations to prefund a project is a fine option. This is a book I'd love to read, and I'm willing to risk twenty bucks to help make it happen. Readers with an interest in the topic should consider donating as well.

Below are text and images from the site. I've been fascinated by these items ever since I first saw one. Many of these designs and undertypes are new to me (one is on a double eagle)! -Editor

Who makes them? Where are they made? When did they first appear? When it comes to these intriguing coins there are far more questions then answers. ​

This book was written in the hopes of shedding some light on this mysterious, interesting and little known part of numismatics and introducing it to new collectors and fans.

Donate to help us publish the book. Any $20 donation gets a copy of the finished book when goal is reached!

To visit the web site and donate, see:

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:


Not exactly "new", but new to us - recent E-Sylum subcriber Martin Bertelsen and searched our archive for his interest area, Arizona tokens. He writes:

I found lots of references to Hal Birt who wrote the original books on the subject. However, I found no references at all to the new book on Arizona tokens by Peter Spooner. He was quoted in the article on Hal but only in passing about how Hal Birt was a mentor. He was indeed, I knew him also and Peter has picked up where Hal left off and has published a book "Arizona Tokens - 2010". He is now working on another revision but the 2010 book is still available.

At my suggestion Martin asked Peter to forward the following information about the book. Thanks, everyone. -Editor

The Standard Reference work on Arizona Trade Tokens.

Arizona Trade Tokens 2010 Built upon the foundations of “Arizona Trade Tokens” by the pioneer in the field, Hal Birt Jr. This new 294 page book has quickly become the Standard Reference in the field. The number of listings has been greatly expanded from Hal Birt's book and now contains 3,460 separate listings from 260 Towns, many of them long gone. This reference is also the first time that Arizona Tokens have been given catalog numbers.

The basic reference, since it was published in 2010. There are no other references specifically on Arizona Tokens out there. It is spiral bound, and has listings on the Tokens of Arizona going all the way back to Territorial days. Some of the towns listed here, where tokens were issued, and the town abandoned or destroyed, may be remembered nowhere else. It has rarity and value estimates. If you collect Arizona Tokens, this book is a must.

Price $50.00 + $7.95 S&H

Peter can be reached at: . -Editor
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Robert C. Whitehead submitted this note about his new web site on varieties of the 1881-O Morgan Dollar. Thanks. Morgan varieties are attributed by the Van Allen-Mallis (VAM) numbers published in the book, Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of Morgan & Peace Dollars by Leroy C. Van Allen and A. George Mallis. -Editor

The 1881-O Morgan Dollar logo

Several years ago I dipped my toe into Morgan Dollar VAMing and decided I was too old to try to understand the totality of the subject. So instead I decided to do something different and focus on just one date/mint combination.

The web site for the project is and it has now grown into a major effort in a quest to find an example of all known VAMs for just this one issue. The result has been a number of discovery VAMs and a completion of about 88% of known VAMs for this issue. This is a one person effort but with a lot of help from experts.

I use the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and the Variety Slabbing Service (VSS) run by John Baumgart as control points to eliminate any problems with grading service bias and VAM attribution, respectively. John is the President of the Society for Silver Dollar Collectors (SSDC).

81ov28_3-9508-obv-500 81ov28_3-9508-rev-500

The site is now up to just over 600 coins cross-referenced by grade, VAM, and die. Every coin has high resolution images to study or compare (almost 6,000 now).

Additionally I get off into a study of a specific VAM or interesting topic each month to further explore history or just things of interest. Plugging VAMing is one of my objectives, and in particular trying to build in some younger fans.

The 1881-O Morgan Dollar page

It's a very nicely done site. Check it out. -Editor

To visit the 1881-O web site, see:

U.S. Rare Coin Investments


An article by Joel Orosz published in Coin World December 30, 2016 reviews R.W. Julian’s classic book, Medals of the United States Mint: The First Century, 1792-1892 . -Editor


Most numismatic authors outlive their books. Roger Cohen wrote United States Half Cents: The Little Half Sisters in 1971, and was still alive (and very dismayed), in 1983 to see Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States Half Cents become the go-to volume. A select few numismatic authors, however, produce books that outlive them. The shining example is Sylvester Sage Crosby’s Early Coins of America, still considered — 141 years after its publication — as the standard reference on Colonial coins!

R.W. Julian’s Medals of the United States Mint: The First Century, 1792-1892 provides a modern example of the evergreen numismatic reference. Happily, it has not yet outlived its author, but its four decades as the definitive catalog safely places Julian in Crosby’s company.

The secret to the book’s long­evity is quality research; Julian practically lived in the National Archives for weeks, literally finding reams of previously unknown information.

He divides all the medals produced by the U.S. Mint in its first century into 14 classes, starting with those made for the members of the annual Assay Commission, ending with Religious and Fraternal Medals, and covering topics such as Indian Peace Medals and Life Saving Medals in between.

Julian illustrates and describes each medal, obverse and reverse; gives each a discrete catalog number; identifies its engraver; lists its size and composition (gold, silver, bronze); provides a brief history; and reveals if the original dies still repose at the Mint (making restrikes a possibility). All of this is invaluable to the researcher and collector, but the most fascinating parts of the book occur when Julian exposes the ample dirty laundry that always accumulated at the 19th century Mint.

Consider the fiasco surrounding MI-19, the Military gold medal honoring Brig. Gen. Eleazer Ripley’s heroics during the War of 1812. Congress authorized the medal on Nov. 3, 1814. The Mint took almost 24 years to strike it! Julian recounts the entire comedy of errors, starting with the Mint’s foot-dragging (not until 1821 did engraver Moritz Furst prepare the reverse).

Medals of the United States Mint requires 424 large format pages to illuminate the first century of the Mint’s medallic output, and is supplemented by Rich Hartzog’s Price Guides for the medals, which were published in 1982 and 1986. Though Hartzog’s prices are obviously outdated, Julian’s medallic masterpiece is timeless; buy it from numismatic booksellers without fear it will ever become obsolete.

To read the complete article, see:
R.W. Julian’s book on U.S. Mint’s first century of medals remains a classic reference (


Dick Johnson submitted these remarks on Neil Musante’s new work Medallic Washington. Thanks. -Editor

Medallic Washington Cover Vol.1 Medallic Washington Cover Vol.2


I would like to nominate Neil Musante's book on Washington medals as the book of the year for 2016. No, that's not true. It should be by acclamation. No other book -- my own included -- can surpass the two volumes on this paramount medallic subject in American numismatics..

The book reigns supreme in every way. This is evident in its scholarship, in its text, it the collector lore it reveals, in the arrangement of the items, in its numbering system, in its color photographs, in its typography, and in its cover of significant medals illustrated in color.

Particularly in its photography. Author Musante traveled the country and photographed every major collection of Washington medals he was aware. The results are stunning, And what can be more important to readers and collectors than the numismatic documentation of our first president?

John Kraljevich wrote an excellent review on examining the manuscript, published in E-Sylum (October 16th, vol 19, no 42, art 3), John wrote of Neil's exhaustive research method, contacting every Washington specialists and considered every theory of a medal’s creation. John wrote he "flipped every stone and photographed every collection."

This intense pursuit and extraordinary curiosity on the subject, coupled with a rare numismatic scholarship acumen of the author is evident in this book. Neil Musante should be acknowledged for his contribution to American numismatics for creating such a worthwhile book. Kudos to Spinks in London which published the book and to Charles Davis who aided in its publication and is distributing it here in America.

While Medallic Washington can serve as a model for all numismatic authors for their own subjects, it will remain the Standard Work on Washington medals for a very long time.

Well-deserved praise. The two-volume work is for sale by Charles Davis. See the earlier articles linked below for ordering details. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:

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MICO KAUFMAN (1924-2016)

Dick Johnson submitted these thoughts on the recent passing of medallist and sculptor Mico Kaufman. Thanks. -Editor

Mico Kaufman The first sentence of his book review published in E-Sylum recently holds true today: Collectors of Presidential Inaugural Medals will recognize the name Mico Kaufman. The sculptor-medallist died December 10, 2016. He had written his autobiography which he self published 27 March 2016.

Mico Kaufman’s life parallels that of another artist, Marcel Jovine. Both had a difficult life before and after immigrating to America. Both were sculptors who took up creating medals late in life. Both rapidly rose to the top of this sculpture specialty of numismatic interest.

Much what I wrote on the life of Mico – in that book review April 17, 2016 (volume 19, number 16, article 3) -- could be repeated here. I will only say that Mico was a consummate professional medallist. I knew him will professionally.

I recall visiting him at his home in Tewkesbury, Mass. years ago in the company of my wife and Donald Scarinci. Our intent was to tape record him on his medallic endeavors. He was so excited it was difficult to guide the dialog, he kept jumping from one subject to the next. His book, A Chiseller’s Story, was similar following his biographical account.

What stands out in mind from our visit was the cabinets he had build in his basement where he displayed all his medals as well as those small sculptures and models of his creation. Fortunately, his local newspaper, the Lowell Sun, had previously filmed Mico showing these creations. I had not seen that when I wrote his book review but I strongly recommend readers view this article and slideshow at:

His last medal I am aware of was in 1983, as he turned to a new sculpture media, melted plastic. I wanted to commission him to do a medal after this but his fee he quoted had risen far above $5,000 for a pair of models. I don’t disagree his fee was worth it. However by then he had created 309 medals, 17 monuments, plus numerous other sculptures. His artistic interests had moved on.

I cherish the memories I had in my contact with Mico over the years. I will miss his quiet demeanor and viewing his magnificent medallic creations.

Do check out that slideshow mentioned above.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

Here's an excerpt from the Lowell Sun article. -Editor

Mico Kaufman two images
Mico Kaufman

Renowned bronze sculptor Mico Kaufman has died at age 92.

A prolific artist whose work ranged from statues as high as 20 feet tall to handheld pieces, Kaufman was recognized for his skilled crafting on numerous occasions. He was listed in "Who's Who in American Art?" from 1970 through this year, and received honors from the National Society of Literature and Art and the James McNeill Whistler House Distinguished Artist Award.

Kaufman was the only sculptor to receive commissions to design four inaugural medals: Gerald Ford's vice presidential and presidential medals; Ronald Reagan's presidential medal, which Reagan sat for with Kaufman; and George H.W. Bush's presidential medal.

His sculptures are included in public collections in the U.S., England and Greece, as well as many private collections across four continents.

Kaufman was born in 1924 in Buzau, Romania, and survived forced labor during World War II. He studied sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome and immigrated to the U.S. in 1951, becoming a citizen in 1956.

To read the complete article, see:
Sculptor Mico Kaufman passes away (SLIDESHOW) (

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GüNTER FRITZ (1934-2016)

Günter Fritz Marken, Zeichen und Notmünzen

Yosef Sa'ar writes:

It is with great sadness that I report the death, 19 December 2016, of veteran token collector and researcher Günter Fritz of Cologne, Germany. Herr Fritz was born 4 August 1934 in Kolberg (now Kołobrzeg, Poland). His 1979 work (with Uwe Frenzel) was the standard for many years on German transport tokens, "Marken, Zeichen und Notmünzen der Verkehrsunternehmen in Deutschland und Österreich-Ungarn". In recent years a completely revised work has been running bimonthly in the magazine "Wertmarkenforum".

Yosef sent in the above images as well. Thank you. We're sorry to hear this news. -Editor


I was on the road for the holiday when I learned of the passing of numismatic literature dealer Fred Lake. I published a special issue to get the word out. Here are some reader reactions.

Please also consider making a donation toward Fred Lake's Memorial Ad that will run in the February 6, 2017 issue of Coin World. See below for details. -Editor

Anthony Terranova writes:

Fred was a steady go-to guy for me throughout his entire business life. I will miss him and his professionalism

Ginger Rapsus writes:

So sorry to hear of Fred Lake's passing. I'd see his friendly face at the FUN show every year. He will be missed.

Orville Grady writes:

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Fred; he was a credit to the Numismatic community. Our business contacts over the years were not extensive - I only met him once or twice at various coin shows, but he was always knowledgeable, helpful, and a true gentleman.

When I first started selling Numismatic Literature in 1982 there were only a handful of dealers specializing in the field and by 1990 a handful plus a couple of fingers and only a very few earning enough at to make a living income. I recall Kolbe, Wilson, Bourne, Burns, Davis, Lake, Katen, Lowe & Xenos. John Burns used to chide me from time to time (to paraphrase): “To be a literature dealer only required one to have five letters in their name”, Wilson and Bourne being the exception. It required much more than that, it required passion and commitment beyond the concept of profit; Fred lake exhibited all of those qualities. From the old crew we are now down to two active in the business.

Larry Gaye writes:

I just opened my email and saw the news of Fred Lake's passing. I have many fond memories of Fred stemming back to an EAC Convention in Vegas many years ago. He and a number of other copper weenies were at the craps table. Fred had the dice and started a roll that was unbelievable, the gallery was cheering him along. I don't remember how many passes he had but it was like a tsunami. He was throwing naturals, little joe's and all sort of crazy rolls. When it was finally over he was sweating like mad and had an amazing, victorious, smiling face that was a joy to behold. A lot of folks made side bets on him and enjoyed the ride. Rob Retz and I stood with him as he came down from his unbelievable run.

Thanks Fred for this and so many other joys that I'm sure others will remember as well.

Dave Lange writes:

Wow, that was so fast. We knew it was coming, but it's still a surprise that he succumbed so quickly. I'll really miss Fred.

David Gladfelter writes:

The news of Fred's death came as a shock, even though he made it known that he had a progressive and incurable illness. In doing so, he showed courage and grace.

He put me on his mailing list from day one, and I saved all of his catalogs and PRLs, writing his name on the PRLs after he dropped it in the 1990s. When he put the catalogs on line I told him to save postage and just include the paper catalogs with lots that I won. That way I kept the set complete. His own set was not complete, and he once asked me to photocopy an early sale for a customer, which I was happy to do. He made me a special comb-bound copy of an early sale that included a consignment from me.I went 0 for 4 in his final sale, but he sent me that catalog anyway.

My parents retired to Sarasota in the 1960s, and when we visited them I brought along boxes of material for Fred, who met me at the Tampa airport. His house in nearby Saint Pete was chockablock full of numismatic literature, including the garage. I never heard a complaint from his wife Joan, in fact she was an important participant in the business. Joan had major surgery several years ago; according to Fred she has made a full recovery.

Fred was very active in Florida United Numismatists (FUN) whose annual convention is in January. The orange jacket he often wore is part of the FUN "uniform". There will be many stories told about him at the coming convention, and many glasses raised in his memory, as it should be.

Dave Bowers writes:

Fred would be delighted an honored that a SUPER RARE special edition of The E-Sylum was created to feature him and his accomplishments. Fred was a very nice person, a credit to numismatic bibliophila as well as to numismatics overall—setting a very high standard.

Thanks, everyone. Alan Workman and I will pass these kind thoughts on to Fred's widow Joan. Below is the information on contributing to the memorial ad for Fred. -Editor

Fred Lake Memorial Ad for Coin World

Please consider making a donation toward Fred Lake's Memorial Ad that will run in the February 6, 2017 issue of Coin World. This particular issue will be distributed at the Long Beach Expo & World Money Fair. To have your name included in the ad the deadline for submission is January 16, 2017. Any collected proceeds above the ad cost will be given as a gift to Fred's widow, Joan Lake, to help her with expenses. *** When making your donation please add a personal note for Joan ***

To donate, see:

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
FRED LAKE (1929-2016) (


HAPPY NEW YEAR from WHITMAN PUBLISHING. We hope you’re enjoying a warm and festive holiday season, and we look forward to seeing you in the new year—with an exciting selection of new hobby books on coins, medals, tokens, and paper money. Happy collecting!


The latest additions to the Newman Numismatic Portal are the Virgil Brand Ledgers at the ANS. Project Coordinator Len Augsburger provided the following report. -Editor

Virgil Brand coin ledger

One of the most frequently consulted references at the American Numismatic Society Library is the massive inventory record of the Virgil Brand collection. Brand, a Chicago beer magnate, was an active collector at the turn of the 20th century, and these ledgers detail over 100,000 items purchased between 1889 and 1925. Brand was clearly disciplined in maintaining these records – indeed, most collectors much prefer buying over bookkeeping. The 23 folio ledgers were Brand’s gift to future collectors, invaluable for pedigree research and containing information found nowhere else. Eleven of these are now posted on the Newman Portal and the remainder will be added in the near future. The Newman Portal acknowledges ANS Librarian David Hill coordinating logistics with Internet Archive, and Internet Archive Associate John Graffeo for working through scanning issues related to oversized material.

Link to Brand secondary ledgers on Newman Portal:

Link to ANS ARCHER catalog entry for the Brand ledgers:


The January 2017 issue of The E-Gobrecht, the electronic newsletter of the Liberty Seated Collectors Club has an article by Len Augsburger about "Coins We Don't Buy" lists. With permission, here's it is. -Editor

Dealers need to find coins to sell, and, in the pre- Internet era, a typical way to do this was to issue a “prices paid for” list. These pamphlets provided basic information for the public to sort good coins from bad, and included instructions for shipping the better pieces to the acquisitive dealer. Prices paid for lists might be distributed gratis to more promising leads, but were also sold through a variety of publications.

Some speculate that dealers made more from selling lists than from buying coins and there is likely some truth to this. I recall an overly excited childhood friend who paid $2 for such a list (about $10 in present terms) and was sure that instant riches could be picked out of pocket change after the secrets of the coin dealer were revealed. Such are the $2 lessons we learned in our youth.

One occasional feature of these lists was the “Coins We Don’t Buy” section. Yes, there is swill that even coin dealers refuse. I recall the first time I visited Stack’s in New York City. I was sure that only the sexiest, most glamorous coin business would be transacted in such a longstanding, esteemed establishment of rare coindom. Alas, while browsing the stock, I was treated to the Stack’s side of a barrage of phone calls from general public. “No, it’s not copper – put a magnet on it” (response to a caller who was certain their corroded 1943 Lincoln cent was copper and not steel). “It’s only worth face value – we do not buy them.” “No, a 1913 Buffalo nickel is not worth a million dollars, I’m sorry.” And on and on.

Later I learned that when working at Stack’s you *start* at the coin counter and eventually graduate to the back rooms, where many of the best coins go to private clients before any- one one else hears about them. In any case, coin dealers spend a good amount of time explaining why they have no interest in various items.

The “Coins We Don’t Buy” list played this role in former times. Thomas Elder, a New York dealer, mentioned two such coins in his c. 1920 prices paid for list – the 1853 Arrows & Rays quarter and half dollar. Both of these were struck in massive quantities, and must have been readily available in circulation well into the 20th century. These two coins regained popularity only much later, with the promotion of “type” collecting as a way to approach the U.S. series. William P. Brown, also of New York, issued a list in 1899 that similarly refused the Arrows & Rays coinage, and added the 1861 half dollar to the “don’t buy” list. This is another common date, and, while interest in Civil War-dated coinage has created some demand, it remains easy to locate. The Connecticut Coin Company, in a circa 1930 list, also eschewed the 1853 Arrows & Rays quarters and half dollars, as did Charles Windau of Red Wing, Minnesota in a 1911 list.

Illustrated below is Thomas Elder’s “don’t buy” list from his circa 1920 prices paid for list.

Thomas Elder Coins I Do Not Buy List

To more information on the Liberty Seated Collectors Club, see:

Kraljevich E-sylum ad13 Saint


Heritage 2015 Sales $860 Million
Regarding the Antiques and the Arts Weekly interview excerpted last week, Russ Sears writes:

One of the facts which I found to be interesting is that Heritage, based on a question asked to Jim Halperin, has annual sales of $860,000. I don't think that is correct. Perhaps 860 million?

Good catch. I confirmed with Jim, and Heritage’s sales were $860 million in 2015. Thanks. 2016 sales figures should be announced soon. -Editor

Jim adds:

I read The E-Sylum just about every week as part of my Sunday night ritual. Thanks for publishing it! Happy and healthy 2017!

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

Counterfeit Countermarks on Counterfeit Coins

8 Reales 1794 Mexico cs Thistle Bank

Jeff Rock writes:

I enjoyed the British countermarks on Spanish silver article -- and as Eric Hodge has the Manville book (which seems to be curiously unknown to American numismatists for some reason), it was noted there that some of the countermarked issues occur on counterfeit 8 Reales as well, some quite obvious like the attached one which was struck in a brassy copper alloy and if it was ever silvered, had that silvering long since worn away by the time the countermark was applied.

Of course, by the time these were produced, the Brits had gotten used to the idea of a token coinage (having used the "Conder" tokens extensively a few decades earlier) and whether the coin was silver or not was irrelevant -- what counted was the bank's promise to pay full value. But then we have counterfeit marks on counterfeit coins, which just adds to the fun!

Thanks! There's no end to the variety of items in the numismatic world. -Editor

Jeff adds:

We've entered an era that our predecessors would surely scratch their heads over! The circulating counterfeits are far more interesting -- and usually far more expensive -- than the things they were meant to copy! I think of all those merchants who were "stuck" with quantities of counterfeits -- had they put a bucket of them in the attic their descendants might well be very rich people today! Then again, the overall scarcity of those counterfeits is what helps give them their value, and a bucket or two more in the hobby might upset that delicate balance of supply and demand!

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

More Official U.S. War and Stamp Greeting Cards

Last week's article on greeting cards promoting the sale of defense and war savings stamps requested reports of more examples. -Editor

Ron Haller-Williams writes:

1942-greeting-card-mas-stamp-album There are quite a few. Go to and do a search on WAR SAVINGS CHRISTMAS, then click on the link "Try Searching by Title Only" to get rid of thousands of false hits. Repeat using the following variations:


... but ignore duplicates. Unfortunately only a few (such as 5WS303) show the reference numbers.

Thanks! This is a great source for images and information. You only have to pay for a subscription to see the prices realized. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

Cash In the Economy and the Coin Business
Patrick Perez of Coin Dealer Newsletter writes:

This may be a bit late, but in response to the ongoing discussion about the role of cash in the world, I wrote about the subject back in October for the cover article of the CDN Monthly Supplement.

Never to late to discuss a topic! Here's an excerpt. -Editor

Is Cash the new four-letter word.

While it is true that the overwhelming amount of daily transactions in this country are facilitated by credit or debit card, many small- and medium-sized business owners conduct their business in cash. By brushing this off with the oft-cited quote “no one carries cash anymore,” a whole segment of American business is marginalized. If a business owner does not want to subject themselves to fees imposed by credit card processing companies, why does their government force them to do it by limiting how much cash is available for their customers to spend? As it is, cash transactions already have many restrictions. To my mind, it comes down to personal freedom.

So what does this all mean for the rare coin business? There are negatives and positives. The obvious ones first: negatives. Anyone who has ever been to a coin show knows the ubiquitous sight of $100 bills being used to buy coins and bullion. At a large show, there may be more cash on the floor than a small bank has in its vault! It is unusual to see a vendor who accepts credit cards at their table. Furthermore, a collector who comes to sell coins at a show expects to walk out with cash, unless he is selling a large amount of material. If left to deal with nothing but $20s, $10s and $5s our business would be severely hampered. Would the industry find other ways? Probably so, but it would be a slow process.

Where are the positives to be found? Rare coins and bullion are a proven store of wealth which are tangible and cannot be manipulated by the decisions of policy makers. Policy can influence their value, but cannot change the fact they will never be worth zero. The item that is seemingly ignored by economists is the impact of negative interest rates on savers and retirement accounts. Pensioners – such as teachers, public workers, and those in the trades – rely on managers for their annuities, which can amount to billions of dollars under investment.

In face of all of this, rare coins and bullion become a very attractive asset to add a part of a savings portfolio, perhaps even better than cash.

To read the complete article, see:
Monthly Supplement: IS “CASH” THE NEW 4-LETTER WORD? ( )

Apollo 11 Moon Rock Bag Ruling

Court cases like the ones involving the 1933 Double Eagle revolve around definitions of ownership of items that were once in government hands but later found their way into the private sector. Kavan Ratnatunga forwarded this article about a recent ruling in a case regarding a moon rock pouch. Here's an excerpt. -Editor

apollo11-moon-rock-bag An Illinois woman is the legal owner of an Apollo 11 lunar sample storage bag that was mistakenly sold by the United States government at auction, a judge ruled on Wednesday (Dec. 14).

Judge J. Thomas Marten ruled in the U.S. District Court for Kansas that Nancy Carlson of Inverness, Illinois, obtained the title to the historic artifact as "a good faith purchaser, in a sale conducted according to law." The government had petitioned the court to reverse the sale and return the lunar sample bag to NASA.

The zippered cloth pouch, which was labeled in bold black letters "Lunar Sample Return," was used on July 20, 1969, as an "outer decontamination bag" to protect the first moon rocks retrieved from the surface of the moon as they were delivered to Earth by Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.

Carlson purchased the bag for $995 in February 2015, at a Texas auction held on behalf of the U.S. Marshals Service. The bag had been forfeited along with other artifacts found in the home of Max Ary, a former curator convicted in 2006 of stealing and selling space artifacts that belonged to the Cosmosphere space museum in Hutchinson, Kansas.

The bag's history was only discovered after Carlson sent the artifact to NASA to be tested for the presence of moon dust. After identifying remnants of lunar material from the Apollo 11 moon landing site, NASA retained custody of the bag and contacted the U.S. Justice Department.

Kavan adds:

A very bad precedent in a case of accidental sale of stolen property. I hope NASA appeals and wins.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
Apollo 11 Moon Rock Bag Belongs to Buyer, Not NASA, Judge Rules (

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Last week I published an auction lot description for a Medallic Art Company medal. Dick Johnson submitted this background on the medal, and the story of his employment at the company. Thanks! -Editor

Medallic Art Company 50th Anniversary Medal obverse Medallic Art Company 50th Anniversary Medal reverse
Medallic Art Company 50th Anniversary Medal

The Medallic Art Company 50th Anniversary Medal mentioned in last week’s E-Sylum requires comment. First, the machine on the obverse is not a “coin press,” but is the upper portion of the Janvier die-engraving pantograph, the machine on which the firm was founded and was instrumental in the production of most all their medals of the 20th century. Second, the history of the medal is just as fascinating as the design itself.

Clyde C. Trees owned Medallic Art Co. since 1927 when he had purchased it from the Weil brothers, who had operated it for two and a half decades before. He struggled to keep the firm alive during the depression of the 1930s when he kept the staff working only half days, and during the war years when he could not obtain bronze to strike medals because it was needed for war armaments.

Following the war, however, business changed dramatically, The U.S. government required military decorations, by the millions. In addition to campaign medals, medals of honor, it required medals of victory. It produced the “Ruptured Duck” – the eagle pins for veterans. It also produced the American Campaign Medal. When I was cataloging the firm’s medals I saw one purchase order from the Quartermaster Corps for a quarter million Victory Medals.

Trees made considerable profits from these government orders. He bought real estate with these profits, buying a home in White Plains and two tiny adjacent parcels of land on the east side of Manhattan. It was an industrial area at the time, the city’s meat packing plant was located a half block away. Later Rockefeller, who owned much of that land donated it for the headquarters buildings of the United Nations. The area became far more genteel after that.

The two tiny parcels of land were to be the plant for Medallic Art Company in midtown Manhattan. The existing buildings were not on the same level causing the first floor to have a slight ramp from one level to the other. He bought the land in 1948 and took two years to refurbish the buildings, install manufacturing equipment on the bi-level first floor, and build offices on the second floor.

To celebrate the opening of this plant he obviously wanted to issue a medal. To add more importance to the medal, Trees decided to call it a 50th Anniversary Medal. He stretched the truth a little. The company name was not chosen until 1910, the first medal was made in 1908, the Janvier pantograph was not imported from France until 1902.

The best event for a 50th anniversary he wanted to celebrate would have to be in 1900. As company historian the best I can imagine would have been the year Henri Weil, considered a founder of the firm, first went to work for a predecessor company, the Deitsch Brothers. That, however, cannot be documented.

So Trees took a little artistic license here with the firm’s founding date. That’s a bit of irony, as a large part of their business later was issuing anniversary medals for other businesses.

To make his anniversary medal even more important Trees launched a contest among sculptor-medallists to design the medal. He offered substantial cash prizes for the three best designs. He was inundated with 150 drawings and plaster models. A jury of sculptor peers chose not three, but four winning designs.

First place winner was the medal you see here. It’s creator was Bruno Mankowski, who was paid $1,500 for the top design

But that is not the end of the story; ten years later, in 1960, when William Trees Louth, Clyde Trees' nephew, president after Trees death, adopted the $250 fourth prize design, by Albert Wein, as the firm’s 60th Anniversary Medal.

But that is still not the end of the story. In 1967 Louth pulled the plaster models of the second and third place winning designs, which the firm owned, out of the archives and issued these as coin club award medals. This included Adolph Block’s Eagle Medal and Patrick Whitaker’s The Die is Struck Medal with a hammer and anvil design.

Dick JOhnson at door of Medallic Art Co By a tremendous instance of coincidence with the above article, this week – January 4 to be exact – is the 50th anniversary of the day I went to work for Medallic Art Company. I was hired by William Louth and that’s another story.

As a college student in St. Louis I was president of the Missouri Numismatic Society, the local coin club. Because of this I was named a director of Central States Numismatic Society. In this capacity I purposed the regional Society replace their ugly logo of a map of the states the Society employed with a more artistic design.

I wrote to Medallic Art asking if they could suggest such a logo change. I received a reply from president Louth along with a fantastic drawing of a paddle wheel river boat design – somewhat of a symbol of all the states covered. I met with Bill Louth on a trip to Kansas City, where he was visiting his wife’s parents.

Presenting this drawing at the next directors meeting proved fruitless. It was tabled, the drawing assigned to the depths of the Society’s archives, never to be seen again.

After college my employment progressed from a printing company in Dayton, a magazine editor in Houston, to the advertising department of my hometown newspaper in Kansas City, to Sidney, Ohio to create Coin World. Bill Louth followed my career along the way.

In 1966 he was chosen to be the banquet speaker at the ANA Chicago convention. He asked me for ideas for his speech. I submitted six, he chose three and asked if I would write his speech. I did. That was in August. In October he asked if I would like to work for Medallic Art to replace the researcher in their sales department who had died.

I was a coin collector with little knowledge of medals. “Didn’t matter,” he said they would train me, so I readily accepted.

Moved the family and a sizable library to White Plains. In a small company you must wear several hats. My chores included researching sales leads for four salesmen as well as for the upcoming American Bicentennial, writing speeches for Bill Louth, creating press releases for the firm’s products, creating the firm’s advertisements, others, plus a major one of Bill’s greatest desire -- catalog all the past issues the company had produced since its beginning.

I did get training in medallic art, from art director Julius Lauth. Everyone in the company answered my enquiring questions, it was better than a college course. I was with the firm for a decade. Did a lot of work for the Bicentennial and catalogued 6,127 medals.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
SOME INTERESTING MEDALS: DECEMBER 25, 2016 : Medallic Art Company 50th Anniversary Medal (


Dick Johnson submitted this entry from his Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Terminology. Thanks. -Editor

1924-034MACO DSC_0023 Distinguished Englishman

The lower right name on the oval medal (left) one might think would be the signature of the artist. It is not, it is the name of the actor shown on the medal in the role of Christ in the German passion play Oberammergan mentioned below. It is the only known medal made be the cameograph process in America. The New York studio had the 2-inch uniface medal struck by Medallic Art Company. The 4 5/8-inch medal on the right is one of several made in London for their studio established by the developer of the mechanical-photographic device. The Cameograph process was short lived because it could not equal that of live medallic artists.

Cameograph. Projecting an object with a grid or beams of light to reproduce it; often of a face to model a portrait in relief. The use of a Cameograph was thought by its developers to aid in making a portrait more lifelike. However, at its best it makes the subject appear more stiff or frozen, in effect accomplishing just the opposite. It falls short in perspective and animation by limiting the artist's ability to interpret and vivify his subject. The technique is called physiognotrace ("tracing the face").

The Cameograph was a photographic and mechanical refinement developed in 1921 by an Englishman, Henry M. Edmunds, and patented in 1921 and 1923. It was based on a 16th century device, the drawing frame, which employed a rectangular frame with wires creating a grid through which the artist viewed the subject. The Cameograph's feature was to photograph the subject illuminated by numerous vertical beams of light. Two photographs were taken, on each side of the subject (to be able to view any hidden line in a shadow to create the bas-relief image).

The photographs could be enlarged to any size. The operator traced the lines on the photos through a viewing microscope, controlling the milling of the cutter tool on the machine. It produced a relief of desired size in a media that could be easily cut (as plaster or wood). Today the use of the Cameograph would be considered unskillful (and perhaps amateurish). A medallist would prefer several photographic views from different angles instead, then interpret the subject or image.

Sporadic use of the Cameograph occurred with the establishment in London and New York of Cameograph studios for bas-relief and medallic productions. One of their creations in New York was a portrait of actor Anton Lang who portrayed Christ in the German passion play Oberammergau on a medal of 1924. The Cameograph did not succeed beyond these early productions.

CLASS 03.4

Px {1857} The Physiognotrace. The Crayon 4:10 (October 1857) p 307-308 (Rembrandt Peale's use).
Px {1923} Progress of Science: Making Medals by Photography, Harper’s Weekly (April 1923) p 653.
A31 {1970} Osborne (Harold) The Oxford Companion To Art. Oxford 331.
C29 {1966} Gilbert (K.R.) The Machine Tool Collection, Catalogue of Exhibits with Historical Introduction, pp 87-88.

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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 Pennsylvania dealer and collector J. G. Laidacker. -Editor

John Gideon Laidacker John Gideon Laidacker (1867-1927), was born the son of German-American parents : Daniel Laidacker (1844-1929), a third generation Pennsylvania farmer and miller, and Christiana Wertman Laidacker (1836-1890), on Christmas day, December 25, 1867 at Turbotville, Montour County, Pennsylvania. The Laidacker and Wertman families record their origins in America to the time of the Revolutionary War.

He worked as a station ticket agent for the Pennsylvania Railroad. There he was able to cherry-pick the best coins and paper money specimens replacing them in the cash box with his own money. From this daily exchange he was able to compile complete sets of coins and surplus stock sufficient to advertise as a coin dealer. This is clear since many coins and medals in collections both public and private have a Laidacker provenance. He was able to assemble several sets of U. S. Large Cents this way which he traded for antique weapons.

Curio Coll. Vol. 2, No. 1 p.36 Laidacker ad He is considered the greatest gun collector in American history. He was also an amateur archaeologist and excavated Indian relics. This was sparked by local farmers finding old coins, arms, and Indian relics while plowing. He then went to targeted sites to dig where Indian relics were know to be found. Some of his finds and their renderings were published in archaeological journals.

LAIDACKER 24 Nov 1897 postal cover to Chapman

Laidacker correspondence with the Chapman Brothers sent on his business stationery with corner card from his curio shop in Pottsville.

In 1898, he and his brother Nelson Elbert Laidacker enlisted in the United States Army in the Spanish-Cuban-American War. At the end of that war, on June 2, 1898, he married Katie Mae Deibler (1875-1957). They had six children.

On June 19, 1900, he stopped a train at the South Danville Station by signaling the train brakeman saving the life of George Hoffman who slipped and was about to be run over.

He is ANA member 728 and listed living at St. Clair, Pennsylvania in The Numismatist, October, 1905, page 300. While at St. Clair, he published a catalogue of the coins and curios in his shop and advertised it in the American Society of Curio Collectors Bulletin (1906).

LAIDACKER, JOHN GIDEON c. 1907 gun display

Laidacker at his store in front of his rifle mount display circa 1911. Published in Magazine of Antique Firearms, July 5, 1911

He ran a curio shop at Shickshinny that won fame and attracted important collectors including Henry Ford. Magazine of Antique Firearms, July 5, 1911, ran an article on Laidacker's curio shop which contained over 1,500 Kentucky rifles considered the largest and most complete collection in the country. He amassed over 13,000 firearms of all sizes and types.

He served in several public capacities including as representative of the Pennsylvania Good Road Train, and as board member and Secretary of the Shickshinny School District, and vice-president of the Shickshinny Hose Company. He was a Veteran of the Spanish-American War and a member of the Grand Old Army (G.A.R.) and served as toastmaster delivering his speech "The History of Our Country on the Field of Battle" at a reunion in Shickshinny on May 20, 1913.

LAIDACKER TOMB He died of a ruptured appendix on June 9, 1927 at the hospital at Nanticoke, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. His wake was at Shickshinny, Pennsylvania. He is buried at the Sweitzer's Memorial Cemetery, Berrysburg, Mifflin Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. The second known Estate Auction known of the Late J. G. Laidacker included the remaining coin collection was sold posthumously at public auction in Jake Borry's Auction House, June 20, 1959. Martin Gengerke notes "many coins in original Chapman envelopes".

To read the complete article, see:

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A December 31, 2016 Coin World article by Paul Gilkes interviews 1794 cent collector Chuck Heck. here's an excerpt. -Editor

Homer Downing 1794 cent

Collector Homer Downing pedigreed coins to his collection by using yellow paint to mark his initial HD from the first and last letters in HUNDRED on the edge device as shown on this 1794 Liberty Cap, Sheldon 47 cent.

Florida collector Chuck Heck has been a numismatic hobbyist for more than 50 years, dedicating his focus primarily on United States large cents.

For nearly two decades, Heck has concentrated his acquisition efforts on the die marriages of 1794 Liberty Cap cents.

Now, Heck says, its time for him to part with his cherished coins and see that they find homes with collectors who will enjoy owning them as much as he has.

Heck’s collection of 1794 Liberty Cap cent die marriages by die states, many with prominent pedigrees, will cross the auction block Feb. 12 in a sale conducted by Ira & Larry Goldberg Auctioneers. “This is not a sad time,” says Heck. “It is simply my time. I get to see my collection go to my close friends and it is being sold by close friends. I have had the pleasure to walk this journey with giants.”

Heck’s 1794 cent collection totals 103 coins, with at least one of each of the 58 numbered Sheldon die marriages as attributed in Early American Cents (later retitled Penny Whimsy) by William H. Sheldon. There’s also an example of the “semi-unique” noncollectible NC-4 variety.

Heck credits noted collector, researcher and author John W. Adams with introducing him to the nuances of 1794 large cents. A number of coins in Heck’s collect­ion were once among Adams’ holdings.

At the 2001 EAC convention, Heck teamed up with fellow EAC members Bim Gander, Dan Trollan and Jon Warshawsky to form the Boys of 94 — an assemblage of large cents collectors with an affinity for 1794 cent marriages.

It was then that die states and pedigrees began to hold special meaning for Heck.

“Purchase a nice-looking coin and you are likely also purchasing a piece of history that comes with an interesting pedigree,” he noted. Heck explains that nine coins in his 1794 large cent collection carry the Adams pedigree. Eight of the nine coins were included in the 1982 Adams fixed-price list prepared by Bowers and Ruddy Galleries.

Six coins in Heck’s collection were once in the famous William Wallace Hays Collection, and some of those are plated in Hays’ 1893 book on 1794 cents.

Three coins have yellow paint embedded in the H and D of HUNDRED in the lettered edge, indicating ownership by the famous Homer K. Downing (the letters, of course, representing his initials).

Seven coins have white paint markings around the edge that were used by W.W. Hays to indicate Dr. Edward Maris’ attributions for pieces in his collection.

One coin, the Sheldon 36 coin, described as “Very Good 10,” has the George H. Clapp pedigree, which is very difficult to obtain, according to Heck.

“It’s difficult because Clapp donated his first line collection to the American Numismatic Society in New York City and his second line collection to the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh,” Heck says. “The vast majority of Clapp-owned specimens are in museums. Very few are available to collectors.”

Heck also makes it very clear that the coins have brought more to him than the pleasure of ownership.

“I got lucky! I spoke to [professional numismatist] Tony Terranova and he gave me the best advice on how to focus my collecting interests,” Heck said. “Having coin dealer friends like Chris McCawley, Bob Grellman, Doug Bird, Steve Ellsworth, Greg Hannigan, Mark Borckardt, Vicken Yegparian, John Kraljevich and so many others certainly made collecting easier. And having collector friends like John Adams, Jack Robinson, Walt Husak, Al Boka, and Denis Loring — five really crazy 1794 collectors — well, that helps, too!

To read the complete article, see:
Collector prepares to ‘say goodbye’ to coins after decades of collecting (

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In a series of recent blog posts, Harvey Stack wrote about his family's role in helping form the Josiah K. Lilly Collection. Here are excerpts from the latest installments (#16 and #17). -Editor

The Josiah K. Lilly Collection

Lead Soldiers
The most outstanding collection he built (although not as valuable as some of his other accumulations) was his collection of lead soldiers.

Mr. Lilly traced American military units from the era of the Green Mountain Boys (pre-revolutionary) up to World War I. He was interested in the uniforms each company or regiment wore and researched their dress. He had small groupings of five to seven of each company, cast to order by the foremost artist of military dress who worked in Philadelphia and confirmed along with Mr. Lilly the actual uniforms for each grouping. Once they were cast, each was hand painted. A group would include a Captain, the officer under him, a foot soldier, a drummer, and a flag bearer. Sometimes they would add the bugler or major officer as appropriate. The total number of lead soldiers on display was approximately 5,000. Regiments from the different states varied from each other, especially during the Civil War. The North wore blue but the ornamentation varied, making the uniforms and decorations different yet similar. The South wore gray and their uniforms also differed from regiment to regiment, state to state. With several hundred different regiments coming to battle from both sides, each from the locality of town, city, and state, the uniforms, though the same basic color for each side, differed. Therefore, Mr. Lilly, being a true collector, wanted them all to be correct, so he studied the designs of each set and the caster of the lead soldiers followed through. He also had examples of the Navy and Marines of each period , with distinctive uniforms of their own. Hence, 5,000 soldiers, lead soldiers on display!

Visiting with Mr. Lilly at Eagle's Nest and seeing his collections confirmed to me how a dedicated collector approaches his hobbies. Mr. Lilly’s approach was simple: assemble the best you can, set your goals, get the knowledge you need and take advantage of the experience and expertise of others. The result is then a fine, well-built collection that can someday be passed on to family members, an institution of learning, or be sold at auction by a reputable auction house, perhaps a firm that assisted in building the collections.

To me, Mr. Josiah K. Lilly was a man with a purpose, who made himself remembered in numismatics, philately, and the collecting of rare book and documents, early colonial rifles, great pieces of art and statuary, and left a legacy for the future to study and enjoy. In my next article I will continue with the story of J.K. Lilly's amazing collection and how Stack’s continued to serve him.

Closing In On Completing the U.S. Gold
​In the fall of 1958 we had our customary visit from Mr. Lilly and we showed him some of our recent acquisitions for his growing collection. He had been studying other collections and what made each of them important and desirable. He wanted us to tell him more about the Louis E. Eliasberg Collection which the Stack family played an important role in building in the early 1940s when we were able to obtain the Clapp Collection for this important collector.

With Mr. Eliasberg we negotiated to acquire an almost complete collection of United States gold, silver and copper, along with a wonderful group of foreign gold coins. The combination of what Mr. Eliasberg already owned and the Clapp Collection resulted in a very important collection and the Stack family was pleased to be a supplier of new and upgrade coins as well as helping to set aside the duplicates for future trading and possible sale. Louis E. Eliasberg was collecting at the right time and he was able to get a great start on his unparalleled cabinet.

Mr. Lilly commented about this: "I guess this does not happen often. It was fortunate for me that I was able to purchase the U.S. gold coin collections you found for me in 1954 and 1955.” We once again marveled at how far he was able to get with his collecting because of these advantageous acquisitions from the Anderson Dupont, Weihman and Schermerhorn collections. “I guess I was in the right place at the right time,” he said.

He then noted that he still needed two U.S gold coins to complete the collection. One was the unique 1870-S $3 gold piece (which Louis Eliasberg owned). Mr. Lilly noted: “I guess I have to wait till he either sells his collection or until he passes on. Since we are close the same age, I will try to wait." All this was said with a warm smile on Mr. Lilly's face.

He continued: “But I do have a chance on getting the 1822 half eagle. You told me there are only three examples: the one in the Smithsonian, the Eliasberg specimen, and the one in the Carter Family Collection, which is vast, but not as complete as the one you built for me!"

Mr. Lilly mentioned that members of the Stack family had approached Amon, Jr., over the past four years but he hadn't wanted to sell it. He asked us to keep trying, as he was excited to be just one coin away from a complete collection of U.S. gold.

To read the complete articles, see:
Building a World Class Numismatic Gold Coin Collection: The Josiah K. Lilly Collection Part 16 (
Building a World Class Numismatic Gold Coin Collection: The Josiah K. Lilly Collection Part 17 (

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:

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In last week's article on the Newman engraving company proof sample sheets, one of the sheets (lot 91333) was described as having a "large cameo profile medallion of Napoleon and Josephine at the center..." and another (lot 91335) was described as having a "four Napoleon cameos surrounding the titled cameo of left-facing Josephine." Some sharp-eyed readers suggest a different attribution. -Editor

Herman Blanton writes:

The beautiful prints from Draper, Underwood, Bald & Spencer feature Napoleon and Marie-Louise, his second wife, who was an Austrian Princess. Here are some links.

Here's the first engraving followed by the medal as shown in a March 5, 2015 CoinsWeekly article. -Editor

Napoleon medallion

Bronze medal: Wedding of Napoleon with Marie Louise von Österreich, 1810.

To read the complete CoinsWeekly article, see:
The Napoleonic era as mirrored in its medals (

Here's another image with the conjoined busts medal from Ben Weiss's Historical Art Medals site. In this second medal the busts face left, a mirror image of the cameo on the proof sheet. I think this one more closely resembles the proof sheet image, just in reverse. -Editor


ANDRIEU, Bertrand: France, 1810, Lead-filled Bronze, 141 mm
Obv: High relief conjoined busts (l)
Rev: Uniface
Bronzed-lead uniface cliché, part of boxed set
Ref: Forrer I, p.54; Weiss BW376

The Emperor Napoleon married the Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria in 1810.

To read the complete web page, see:

Julia Purdy agrees with Herman. Citing the same CoinsWeekly article, she writes:

Marie Louise envraging reversed I do not think that Josephine is the cameo depicted on these proof sheets, but instead Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma, Napoleon's second wife. See this Bronze medal: Wedding of Napoleon with Marie Louise von Österreich, 1810. © Liechtenstein National Museum. which is a depiction of the couple upon their marriage which appears to closely resemble the cameos on the sheet.

I looked at the Heritage lot 91335 image with the full magnification and the central medallion actually says "MARIE LOUISE" in mirror image.

Marie Louise engraving Marie Louise engraving
LEFT: Proof sheet engraving. RIGHT: Image reversed

So - the Draper, Underwood, Bald & Spencer engraver likely directly copied the medals onto the engraving plate, resulting in the mirror image when printed. Now thanks to Julia, here's the matching medal with this image of Marie Louise alone, also from Ben Weiss's site.

Marie Louise medal Marie Louise engraving
Marie Louise medal and its mirror image engraving


ANDRIEU, Bertrand: France, 1810, Lead-filled Bronze, 68 mm
Obv: Bust of Marie Louise (l) MARIE LOUISE IMPERATRICE.
Rev: Uniface
Signed: ANDRIEU. F.
Lead-filled bronze cliché, part of boxed set
Ref: Forrer I, p54; Bramsen 1028; Julius 2360; TN. 41.6; Weiss BW389

Marie Louise (1791-1847), French Empress, the second wife of Napoleon I, was the daughter of Francis II, Emperor of Austria, and Theresa of Naples. The marriage took place by proxy in 1810, the year in which this medal was issued. Their son was to bear the empty titles of "King of Rome" and "Napoleon II". Marie Louise acted briefly as regent during Napoleon's absence on campaigns. Alienated from him in 1814, the time of Napoleon's first abdication, she was later made Duchess of Parma. During her rule in Parma she established the equality of women in heritage and ordered the compilation of a civil code.

To read the complete web page, see:

Julie adds:

It is in the boxed set too - That boxed set is awesome!

Perhaps the engraver or his employer owned a set of the Andrieu Napoleonic medals. What were the copyright laws of the day - is making a new engraving of someone else's medal design fair play?

Thanks everyone - great numismatic detective work! We've mentioned Ben's site before, but it's high time to revisit it. See this week's Featured Web Site article. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

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Maureen Levine and Bruce Hagen submitted this article highlighting counterfeit detectors in the upcoming internet-only Heritage sale of material from the Eric P. Newman collection. Thanks! -Editor

Rare Counterfeit Detectors in Newman Internet 2

Counterfeit detector notes and sheets were printed on special paper, usually blue. They provided comparison specimens with which to validate genuine notes and condemn suspected counterfeits. With one exception (North Carolina 1785), they were printed by Hall & Sellers in Philadelphia, who also printed the Pennsylvania and Continental Currency issues.

Four lots from the Newman Collection are highlighted below. Bidding for this internet- only auction will close on January 11, 2017. Full descriptions are available on the Heritage website at .

Lot 90207: Pennsylvania March 20, 1773 Uncut Pair of 14 Shillings-16 Shillings Blue Counterfeit Detectors.

Lot 90207 Pennsylvania March 20, 1773 Blue Counterfeit Detectors front

Lot 90207 Pennsylvania March 20, 1773 Blue Counterfeit Detectors back

This is an exceedingly rare uncut horizontal pair of Lighthouse Issue detector notes. They are unsigned, and each has the officially penned notation “to/ Detect/ Counter/ feits” in the signature block. The denominations in Roman numerals are in the bottom left corners on the lighthouse vignettes. The first we have cataloged and an important Pennsylvania colonial currency artifact. This pairing might be unique.

Lot 90313: Continental Currency May 10, 1775 $1 Pink Counterfeit Detector.

Lot 90313 Continental Currency May 10, 1775 $1 Pink Counterfeit Detector front Lot 90313 Continental Currency May 10, 1775 $1 Pink Counterfeit Detector back

This May 10, 1775 $1 pink paper counterfeit detector note is possibly unique. It is among the rarest of all Colonial detector notes including the issue’s $20 blue detector notes. These pink paper detector notes are a bit of a mystery because their great rarity has yielded few examples to study. The $1 through $8 denominations were printed on eight- subject panes. This $1 pink detector is the only lower denomination we have observed from this plate array. Any other pink detector lower denominations are not confirmed. Although this is a partial note, it is a significant Continental Currency note and the sole confirmed example.

Lot 90338: Continental Currency May 20, 1777 Uncut Single Pane Sheet of $30-$2-$3-$4/$8- $7-$6- $5 Blue Counterfeit Detector Notes.

Lot 90338 Continental Currency May 20, 1777 Uncut Single Pane Sheet Blue Counterfeit Detector Notes front Lot 90338 Continental Currency May 20, 1777 Uncut Single Pane Sheet Blue Counterfeit Detector Notes back

This is another rarity as a detector sheet and one of the few we have encountered. The denomination array is the same as the prior two resolutions, February 26, 1777 and July 22, 1776. This is the first issue where “United States” replaced “United Colonies.” The eye appeal is excellent, and this is a key blue detector sheet.

Lot 90341: Continental Currency April 11, 1778 Yorktown Issue Uncut Single Pane Sheet of $40-$30- $20-$4/$8- $7-$6- $5 Blue Counterfeit Detector Notes.

Lot 90341 Continental Currency April 11, 1778 Yorktown Issue Blue Counterfeit Detector Notes front Lot 90341 Continental Currency April 11, 1778 Yorktown Issue Blue Counterfeit Detector Notes back

This blue counterfeit detector sheet is rarely offered for sale. The denomination array is different than previous series as this issue adds a new $40 denomination. The lowest denomination is $4 on the issue date. Individual detector notes from the resolution are difficult to obtain, and a sheet is even more desirable. This important showpiece boasts pedigree.

These are great rarities and of interest to currency collectors, bibliophiles and researchers alike. Good luck with your bidding! -Editor


In this new CoinWeek video, Charles Morgan and American Numismatic Association President Jeff Garrett visit the National Numismatic Collection. -Editor

Numismatic mericana Jeff Garrett at NNC

In this 4K CoinWeek video, editor Charles Morgan joins ANA President Jeff Garrett for a rare behind the scenes tour of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.

Fifty Dollar gold at nNC Jeff and Charles discuss the 1804 dollar, George T. Morgan's sketchbook, a rare never-before-filmed 2008 Ultra High Relief gold pattern struck at the Perth Mint for the U.S. Mint, plus six important U.S. coins from deep inside the vault.

Here are some screen captures to whet your appetites. -Editor

Coin trays at NNC

Coin tray at NNC

Jeff Garrett and Charles Morgan at NNC
Jeff Garrett and Charles Morgan

Morgan design for $100 gold at NNC
$100 Gold Design Sketch from George Morgan's Sketchbook

To watch the complete video, see:
CoinWeek IQ: Numismatic America: Behind the Scenes at the National Numismatic Collection – 4K Video (

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On December 29, 2016 Mike Markowitz published a nice CoinWeek article about bridges on ancient coins. -Editor

ROMANS WERE PROUD of their bridges, some of the most spectacular feats of ancient engineering. The high priest of the Roman state religion was called the Pontifex Maximus--literally the “supreme bridge-builder”--a title later adopted by the Popes of the Roman Catholic Church.

A number of Roman coins depict bridges, but not always accurately; die engravers were not architectural draftsmen and they struggled to represent long, complex structures in the narrow circular confines of a coin.

aquamarciadenarius For most bridges, Romans relied on the same circular stone arch used to build the aqueducts that brought water into the city. Possibly the earliest coin showing such a structure is a silver denarius issued by a mint official named L. Marcius Philippus in 52 BCE. On the reverse, he commemorates his ancestor, Q. Marcius Rex, who constructed the aqueduct known as the Aqua Marcia in 144-140 BCE. What appears to be a man riding a horse across a bridge on the reverse is actually an equestrian statue of this builder atop the aqueduct. The coin is relatively common; different dies show different numbers of arches.

Trajan’s Bridge
By far the most famous Roman bridge to appear on a coin is the Danube River bridge built by Emperor Trajan in 103–105 CE for his conquest of Dacia, north of the river. Designed by the famed Apollodorus of Damascus, it was 1,135 meters (3,724 ft.) long. Twenty massive stone and concrete piers joined by timber arches carried the roadway 19 meters (62 feet) above the surface of the river.

trajansbridge The bridge appears on three different denominations struck c. 107-110: a sestertius, a dupondius and an as. The coins only show one arch of the bridge, and the engraver misunderstood the structure--it seems to be a two-storied covered bridge. Modern reconstructions assume the roadway was level and open–topped, supported by radially braced double wooden arches. The massive towers topped by statuary at each end are probably correct; such towers made it easier to defend the bridge against attackers.

Trajan’s bridge remained intact for only a few years. About 117, Hadrian ordered the timber arches dismantled to prevent Dacians from crossing to the south bank.

Some of the piers remain in place underwater (two were dynamited in 1906 to widen the navigation channel, others were swept away over the centuries). The ruins of the towers at either end are preserved as archaeological sites by Serbia and Romania, respectively.

Marcus Aurelius’ Pontoon Bridge
When a crossing was needed quickly, Roman military engineers constructed pontoon bridges, linking anchored boats with wooden planks and framing. A sestertius of Marcus Aurelius struck ca. 171-172 shows the emperor leading legionary troops across such a bridge over the Danube. There are only three boats, and they are tiny compared to the soldiers, but the engraver managed to fit the story onto the coin.

To read the complete article, see:
CoinWeek Ancient Coin Series: Bridges on Ancient Coins (


Arthur Shippee forwarded three stories found via The Explorator newsletter about a coin of Antiochus IV found recently in Jerusalem. Here's an excerpt from the Times of Israel. -Editor

Antiochus IV Penny obverse Antiochus IV Penny reverse

A bronze penny minted by the Greek tyrant from the Hanukkah story was recently stumbled upon by archaeologists amid the ruins of Jerusalem’s Tower of David during routine cleaning of the site, the museum said in a statement Tuesday ahead of the commencement of the eight-day festival on Saturday night.

Orna Cohen, chief conservation officer at the iconic Jerusalem landmark, found the small bronze coin a few weeks ago during routine conservation work after a section of the Hasmonean-era city wall that runs through the citadel’s courtyard suffered minor damage (from either recent stormy weather or schoolchildren, nobody’s really sure).

The head of Antiochus IV Epiphanes appears on the front of the bronze penny, and the reverse has a goddess holding something — perhaps a torch — in her hand.

Antiochus IV was a Seleucid monarch remembered in Jewish history for his promotion of Hellenization and suppression of religious observances. While he was battling the rival Ptolemaic kingdom in Egypt for control of the Levant, Jewish zealots rose in revolt against Antiochus and the Hellenized high priest installed in the Jerusalem temple.

The coin’s precise date wasn’t clear, but thousands of others of the same type were minted at the port of Acre, then called Antiochia Ptolemais, between 172 and 168 BCE, during Antiochus IV Epiphanes’s reign.

Its serrated edge helped pinpoint it to a 50-year window when that style was in vogue among Seleucid kings.

“Acre seemed to like the idea of serrated coins,” IAA Coin Department head Donald Ariel told The Times of Israel.

The coin may have been struck by the Seleucid army to pay troops used to quell the Maccabee revolt, he said. Such coins were used as small change by soldiers in the employ of the Greeks.

To read the complete article, see:
Coin struck by vilified king from Hanukkah story found in Jerusalem (

To read the other articles, see:
Rare coin from King Antiochus’s rule discovered in Jerusalem (
2,000-year-old coin from Maccabean revolt found in Jerusalem (

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The Telegraph published this piece January 1 2017 about the Royal Mint's coins for 2017. -Editor

Royal Mint 2017 coins

New 12-sided pound coin More than a billion brand new £1 coins are being struck in time for its launch in March, the Royal Mint said in its New Year’s Day announcement.

The new 12-sided coin - which is being billed as “the most secure coin in the world - will replace the traditional circular £1.

The old coin was considered too easily faked with just over three in every hundred in the public domain reckoned to be a forgery.

The introduction of the new coin will be phased in over six months, starting in March.

The new £1 consists of an outer ring which is gold coloured is made from nickel-brass and the silver inner ring from a nickel-played alloy.

It also includes a ‘latent image’ similar to a hologram that switches from a £ symbol to a number 1 depending on the angle from which it is viewed.

The new coin is thinner than its predecessor and lighter too.

By the autumn of 2017, the old coin will be taken permanently out of circulation and shopkeepers will not be obliged to accept it.

Jane AUsten two pound coin War in the Air coin
Jane Austen and War in the Air coins

To read the complete article, see:
New Year, new coins as Royal Mint strikes 2017 pound (


Jonathan Brecher submitted this question about the metal composition of 19th century U.S. Mint medals. Thanks. -Editor

Has anyone done studies on the metal composition of 19th century US Mint medals?

Conventional wisdom says that US Mint medals from the 19th century are almost all struck in pure gold or silver. Julian writes (p. XXXIII):

"All gold medals struck at the mint, with a few minor exceptions, were of pure gold. Alloyed gold was harder on the dies than pure metal. On rare occasion, and listed as such in the text, medals were struck of coin gold, or 900/1000 fine. … As with gold, only pure silver was ordinarily used for medals. Standard (900/1000 fine) silver was used occasionally; in one instance half dollar planchets were used to strike silver medals for the Mecklenburg Centennial."

The local coin dealer recently bought an electronic "precious metal verifier". It's not as detailed as a full-blown XRF analysis, but the equipment is much less expensive. You can also use it without removing medals from their holders (even stapled 2X2s are ok), and it reads past the plating to whatever is inside. It's also FAST — 2-3 seconds per piece if you're going slowly.

His model has modes for several purities, including .9999, .999, .925, .900, and .800 (Canadian) silver. It doesn't tell you what the purity is, but it does tell you relative to the selected mode. So for example, a Sterling piece would read "low" in .999 mode, "high" in .900 mode, and right on target in .925 mode. That means that there was really one more mode that could turn up, "still silver but less than .800 fine".

He let me use it for an hour or so on a slow afternoon (thanks, Eric!), and I was able to check out a whole bunch of US Mint medals. As expected, almost all of them tested as pure silver… except for the ones that didn't.

Much to my surprise, a group of the smaller medals tested as .800 or lower. Those low-silver pieces included PR-36, PR-40, PR-41, PR-42, and PR-43, as well as CM-2 and CM-43. On the other hand, the similar small-sized PR-26, PR-27, PR-28, PR-29, PR-30, PR-31, PR-32, PR-33, PR-38, and PR-39, and PR-44 all tested .999 as expected.

I always considered those small-sized medals to be a single series, all produced the same way. I'm at a loss to explain these results. Can anyone shine some light on what's going on?

U.S Mint medals PR-28 and PR-38 U.S Mint medals PR-36 and PR-41
Left: Obverses; Right: Reverses

PR-28 and PR-38 (top row) tested as pure silver (.999 fine).
PR-36 and PR-41 (bottom row) tested as low-grade silver (.800 fine or lower).
Actual size for these medals is 19 mm.

Interesting. Can anyone help? -Editor


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Here are some medallic items that caught my eye while web surfing this week. -Editor

1759 Demise of Princess Anna Medal

1759 Demise of Princess Anna Medal obverse 1759 Demise of Princess Anna Medal reverse

Front: Bust to the left.
Reverse: Mausoleum with attributes.
Weight: 20.89 g
Diameter: 40 mm
By J.G. Holtzhey (VvL.349).

To read the complete lot description, see:
120. the Netherlands - Medal 'Demise of princess Anna' 1759 - Silver (

1867 Spain Valentia Medal

1867 Spain Valentia Medal obverse 1867 Spain Valentia Medal reverse

1867 Spain Valebtia Medal.
Material: Silver.
Diameter: 47 mm.
Weight: 47.5 g.

To read the complete lot description, see:
55. Spain - Medal Valencia 1867 - silver (

1900 Mathias Gasteiger Plaquette

1900 Mathias Gasteiger Plaquette 1900 Mathias Gasteiger Plaquette closeup
Plaquette and close-up

Ca. 1900, Duitsland

Wandplaquette in reliëf naar ontwerp van Mathias Gasteiger. Afbeelding van een naakte jongen staande onder een waterspuwer.

Mathias Gasteiger heeft dit beeld (Brunnenbuberl) ca. 1894 ontworpen.

In Parijs heeft het beeld op de Wereld tentoonstelling van 1895 gestaan,

hier heeft het toen een gouden medaille opgeleverd. Er ontstond veel commotie in Duitsland en omstreken over het beeld, dit omdat de jongen naakt was, er zou toch een vijgenblad voor moeten...

To read the complete lot description, see:
103. Mathias Gasteiger - Brunnenbuberl - Plaquette met waterspuwer en naakte jongen (


KQE_reverse_cropped There have been some recent articles about Tommy Thompson, the jailed leader of the S.S. Central America shipwreck recovery. Most of the articles mangle the facts of the case, implying that some of the recovered artifacts are missing, which reader Bob Evans has debunked.

What are missing are some of the commemorative Kellogg $50 gold coin restrikes. Here's the best article of the lot, a Wall Street Journal piece published December 30, 2016, which includes a quote from Bob. -Editor

Tommy Thompson, a brilliant research scientist and treasure hunter, is spending the holidays in an Ohio jail cell for a second year as he continues to rack up fines of $1,000 a day.

All he has to do to stop the fines and begin working his way to freedom: Give up details that will help his former investors locate a cache of missing gold coins that were minted from Gold Rush-era ingots he found in a famous wreck at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean nearly three decades ago.

Judge Marbley then ordered Mr. Thompson to remain in prison and pay a daily fine until he agrees to provide information about 500 commemorative coins to lawyers for the investors who backed his 1988 discovery of the S.S. Central America.

At one time, Mr. Thompson worked for Battelle, a nonprofit R&D organization in Columbus, and he has said he designed missile systems for submarines. He became focused on locating the S.S. Central America, which sank off the coast of the Carolinas in a hurricane in 1857. In 1988, he led a team using a remote-operated vehicle and found the ship at an underwater depth of more than a mile.

The feat was hailed around the world, and the treasure—more than 7,500 gold coins, 532 gold ingots, jewelry, Derringer pistols—promised to enrich Mr. Thompson and others involved in the endeavor.

“I’m frustrated at how much attention is showered on him, when I think the real story is the treasure,” said Bob Evans, a scientist and historian who met Mr. Thompson in 1978 and was intimately involved in the salvage project and the restoration and sale of the treasure.

Mr. Evans said the artifacts provide a rare window onto the Gold Rush era, when steamships carried gold, mail and wealthy passengers from San Francisco to Panama, and, after a rail crossing over land, from Panama to New York.

The S.S. Central America was considered one of the greatest lost treasures in U.S. history, he said. The loss of so much currency helped spark a financial panic. Some 425 people lost their lives, while 153 passengers, mostly women and children, were rescued.

To read the complete article (subscriptionrequired), see:
A Treasure Hunter Sits in Jail as Investors Seek Whereabouts of Gold Coins (

To read an earlier E-Sylum article, see:

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As noted in the December 18, 2016 issue, dealer Julian Leidman has been issuing clues to the location of a hidden 1916 McKinley Gold Dollar. This Numismatic News Express article (from the issue dated January 10, 2017) showcases the winners. -Editor

mckinley-bonanza treasure hunt

Chris Sloan, a collector from Montgomery County, Md., and his twin 8-year-old sons, Justin and Ryan, went on the hunt “after being snubbed by my teenage daughter on my offer to go treasure hunting (she ‘had plans’).

“I headed to my car with my twin 8-year-olds who were more than game for the adventure,” Sloan wrote in his account. “During a stop for gas, I refreshed Julian’s Facebook page and noticed Clue #5 had posted 23 minutes earlier.

The race was on.

The fifth clue read, “A 1916 McKinley gold dollar is hidden Northwest of Washington, D.C., within an unincorporated area that is centered at: 38° 59’N 77° 7’W.

After false starts with data entry that pinpointed the location in China. A telephone call by Sloan to a friend with a laptop helped sort it all out.

“Little did I know at the time that if you paste the coordinates from the clue as written into Google, the same address shows up. Oof,” he noted

That address is 7447-7499 Radnor Rd, Bethesda, MD 20817.

This Sloan said was about 20 minutes from his gas station stop. “I entered the address into the map function on my phone and raced around the area with my index finger.

However, the first four clues helped the trio zero in on their hoped for gold find.

The first clue was “A hidden 1916 McKinley gold dollar is near a place named after the ruthless oil baron in the U.S. television series ‘Dallas.” J.R. Ewing is the answer.

Second clue: “A 1916 William McKinley gold dollar is hidden in the same state that once was called home to both The Bullets and the Colts.” Maryland is the answer.

Third clue: “Sometimes when things are not in plain sight, nothing left nor right, one might look to the sky but gold is often found underneath.” Look underneath is the answer.

Fourth clue: “A 1916 McKinley gold dollar is hidden in the county with the same name as this British ‘Spartan General.’” Montgomery County is the answer.

Armed with the information provided by the first four clues and being in the area specified by the coordinates, Sloan wrote, “Not seeing anything of interest, I entered ‘Ewing’ and ‘Bethesda’ and found Ewing Drive. There were a few bus stops on Ewing Drive.

“Was the coin in a bus shelter or under a trash can? Was it in a park? More virtual searching on Ewing Drive and then I saw it. There was a cross street on Ewing Drive: McKinley Street. We were looking for a McKinley gold commemorative coin! The coin was at the intersection of Ewing and McKinley in Bethesda, Md.

“We drove to the area and passed a small roundabout at the three-way intersection of Ewing and McKinley in a quiet residential section of Bethesda. We parked and walked over to the intersection. The grassy area of the roundabout had a few shrubs and a bench, I think.

Bonanza Coin hunt contest winners “Then, I saw a more obvious target: a United States Postal Service blue mail box, a structure in a public place. My boys ran over to the box and looked underneath it. Nothing. Then, Justin instinctively got on his hands and knees and reached underneath the mail box. He tore off a piece of cardboard and a plastic bag that was taped to the underside of the mailbox. Our Eureka Moment! We found the treasure.”

Off they went to Bonanza Coins. They were declared winners by Leidman that very afternoon.

What a great promotion! Treasure hunts like these are a much better idea than simply dropping scarce coins into circulation. They are rarely recovered and only result in wasted time of coin dealers around the area who get calls from the public. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

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There are several interesting articles in the January 2017 issue of The Numismatist, the offical publication of the American Numismatic Association, including one by Grant Shobar on p30-31 highlight the National Equitable Labour Exchange notes of Robert Owen, one collecting interest of mine. Here's an excerpt. -Editor

Robert Owen Robert Owen perhaps is best known for his contributions to the theory of utopian socialism. He was one of the select few to see his plans for utopia come to fruition, if only for a short time.

Owen established communities at New Lanark in Scotland and then in New Harmony, Indiana, that offered free education for men and women and a free public library. Both were unprecedented practices in the mid-19th century and were founded on the concept that human character is determined by environment, rather than genetics. Owen believed that by controlling circumstances and engineering conditions that allow people to thrive, a true utopia could be achieved. This grand idea was moderately successful at New Lanark, gaining the support of utilitarian Jeremy Bentham. Unfortunately, however, the community at New Harmony crumbled after only a few years.

Owen’s vision was not limited to his micro communities, and his ultimate goal was for all of Europe to understand and practice his ideals. He began in London, England, by establishing the National Equitable Labour Exchange (NELE). The financial institution and its branches operated on a unique principle: pay with time, rather than money.

Roert Owen LAbour Exchange note The NELE was based on a new interpretation of hourly wages. More specifi- cally, the Exchange paid for goods with a time-based currency. The longer an item took to make, the more “hours” it was worth.

While the NELE was open, currency of this intriguing monetary system was printed in very limited numbers. Values of bills ranged from one hour to as many as 80 hours.

The system initially was well received, and many local tradesmen and shops accepted these time-based notes as payment. Owen and his followers had built an economic system that was intended to replace the national currency— and its initial success made it appear as if that would be the case!

However, after its introduction near the end of 1832, the Exchange had crashed and was all but forgotten in only two short years.

By that time, the system’s weaknesses had become apparent. Many questions arose: How should the length of time required to make goods be measured? How should the work be quantified? How labor-intensive is it? At what rate should items be valued? No consensus could be reached. The Labour Exchange’s foundations began to fall apart, and it became clear that it was destined to fail. The National Equitable Labour Exchange officially disbanded in 1834.

Although the notes were issued in many different denominations and used successfully for almost three years, they are only occasionally seen at auction today. It is unknown whether this is because the bills reside in personal collections, were redeemed, or were lost or destroyed. Whatever the case, notes are quite rare and finding one is extremely difficult, regardless of condition.

See the next article in this issue for a look at labor exchange currency in Indiana. -Editor

For more information on the American Numismatic Association, see:


The previous article in this E-Sylum issue discusses the Labor Exchange currency of Robert Owen, who started utopian colonies on both sides of the Atlantic, including New Harmony, Indiana. I have an 1833 London One Hour note in my collection, but I've never seen any notes from the Indiana colony. I pulled off my shelf the Indiana Obsolete Notes and Scrip by Wolka, Vorhies and Schramm (1978). There are no labor exchange notes listed for New Harmony.

However, a Google search did uncover the book New Harmony Then and Now by Donald E. Pitzer and Darryl Jones (2012). Page 75 illustrates an 1843 One Hour note. -Editor

New Harmony Indiana One Hour note

Labor Note or Time Money. Robert Owen introduced labor-time currency at New Harmony in the 1820s. This note, endorsed by Josiah Warren, is from 1843, when New Harmony again briefly tried the system as adapted by Warren in his "Time Stores" in Cincinnati and in his Ohio and New York communities.

To read the book on Google Books, see:

If labor notes were issued in New Harmony in the 1820s, do any examples still exist? A further search turned up later note images, but none from the 1820s. -Editor

One Hours Labor note2

Two Hours Labor note

From The New Harmony Communities By George Browning Lockwood.

To read the book on Google Books, see:

Three Hours LAbor note

Cincinnati Time Store note. From Equitable Commerce (1846) by Josiah Warren via Wikipedia.

To read the complete article, see:
Labor notes (currency) (

I checked with author Wendell Wolka who writes:

I do have a different Indiana note. It's a 50 cent note from New Harmony good for two hours in medical attendance. Vignettes of a train and Justice and Liberty seated by a shield inscribed "Labor for Labor"; NEW HARMONY across end in panel. Only known example. Nothing I'm aware of from Ohio.

The "Ithica hours" alternative currency notes are a modern example of this concept. I'd be interested in learning what readers can tell us about these early examples of time-based currency in Indiana and Ohio. These are scarce and historically important notes. -Editor


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In November 2016 we discussed a Victoria Cross medal uncovered in the river Thames by a London mudlark. This article provides an update on efforts to identify the medal's recipient. -Editor

1854 Victoria Cross found in Thames River Research is continuing to try and link a Victoria Cross with one of the bravest Kilkenny men of all time.

This follows the recovery, from the mud on the banks of the River Thames in London, of one of the earliest medals ever awarded.

It was awarded to a hero of the Crimean War and worth at least £100,000 despite being badly weathered and it could belong to a Kilkenny man.

The medal was one of 16 Victoria Crosses awarded to British troops after a major battle on that date during the Crimean War.

But who won the medal and how it ended up in the River Thames remain a mystery.

Of those awarded for actions during the Battle of Inkerman, two are unaccounted for – those won by Castlecomer man, Private John Byrne of the 68th Durham Light Infantry, and a Scottish man, Private John McDermond.

The date of the battle was engraved on the reverse of the medal. But the recipient’s name was engraved on the suspender bar, which is missing. Pte Byrne won his VC for running across the battlefield to find a wounded colleague whom he carried to safety under heavy gunfire.

Then aged 22-years-old, he survived and fought in other campaigns – Pte Byrne won a Distinguished Conduct Medal for fighting Maoris during the Tauranga campaign in New Zealand in 1864 and this is held in the Durham Light Infantry museum.

He died at Crown Street, Newport, Monmouthshire and no one seems to know what happened the family. If you do you might contact Kilkenny People at sean.keane@kilkennypeople.

To read the complete article, see:
Recovered Victoria Cross may belong to Castlecomer man (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

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Dignitaries have received specially-selected serial number examples of the Bank of England's new five pound notes. Thanks to David Sundman for sharing this article from The Times. -Editor

Mark Carney with new Fiver Members of the Royal Family, government and civil service are used to having a keen sense of hierarchy. Now their place among the great and the good has been given added currency by serial numbers on the new £5 note.

The Bank of England has donated the lowest numbered new polymer fivers, worth thousands of pounds, to a select group of figures, as well as institutions linked to Sir Winston Churchill, who is pictured on the note’s back.

A list of 29 notes, about half with historically symbolic serial numbers, has been disclosed by the Bank under the Freedom of Information Act and shows that after the Queen and Prince Philip, Theresa May was given the note with the number AA01 000003, the number with the third lowest serial number, and Philip Hammond, the chancellor, the fourth.

The Bank is understood to have sent a description of the significance of the notes to the recipients, but declined to say why it had chosen certain numbers.

Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank, at whose discretion the recipients are chosen, received two: the note with the fifth-lowest number and one ending 1940, the year Churchill became prime minister.

Politicians and mandarins to have received a note include Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary and biographer of Churchill, and Tom Scholar, permanent secretary to the Treasury. Both have been held by their departments.

Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Commons Treasury select committee, which holds the Bank to account, has also received a note.

The only ambassador to receive one of the notes was Matthew Barzun, the US ambassador to London, who received one ending 1941, the year America entered the Second World War.

The Bank held a charity auction through Spink & Son of low-numbered notes, starting with AA01 000017, the lowest number available to the public, which sold for £4,150. The Bank raised £194,500 in total for three charities chosen by its staff, The Myotubular Trust, The Lily Foundation and Bliss.

David adds:

Watch for these on eBay!

To read the complete article, see:
Bank hands out high-value fivers to high flyers (


For a lucky few there could be a silver lining in India's recent move to discontinue certain banknote denominations. This article urges holders of the notes to check for fancy serial numbers. -Editor

Amid the rush among Indian expatriates scurrying home to exchange the demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes before the December 30 deadline, a Dubai-based numismatist who hails from India, has advised his compatriots to “hold onto their old currency notes”.

“Check the serial numbers of the currency notes. Special serial numbers, fancy and royal notes could fetch several times its face value in future,” the Khaleej Times quoted numismatist Ramkumar as saying on Wednesday. The collector will never make a loss, said the 36-year-old numismatist who is fond of rare notes and has been collecting them from last 15 years.

Ramkumar, who is from Chennai, said people should “treasure” currency notes of any country. “How much profit one can make on these notes, purely depends on demand and supply. There is worldwide demand for fancy notes,” Ramkumar told the newspaper. He said that rare notes have a beautiful history and from an investment point of view they give very high returns in long term.

Ramkumar has a collection of royal number 000001 from 10 different countries. He also has an old note of Rs 1,000 which was demonetised in 1978 in India under the High Denomination Bank Notes Act. Apart from the old Rs 1,000 bank note, he also has the recently-demonetised Rs 1,000 note, and both have same serial number 666666. According to him it is “the only known fancy number that survived”.

He also has the oldest surviving Indian banknote, dated September 1812.

To read the complete article, see:
Banned Indian notes with special numbers could fetch a fortune, Indian expats told (

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Last week's article about the coin exhibit at Grosvenor Museum prompted me to ask for images of coins which inspired one of the hairstyles displayed. No one has found a good match, but Ron Haller-Williams found a couple more online articles related to the exhibit. Thanks. -Editor

Volunteer Keith as the Roman Emperor Diocletian
Volunteer Keith as the Roman Emperor Diocletian

12 coins have been selected including images of Queen Mary, Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth II and others. Photographer Kat Hannon appealed via social media for models to be styled as the respective rulers. The models were then styled by hair and make up artist Louise O Callaghan.

Kat photographed the 12 portraits over 2 days, with models wearing grey and against a grey background “keeping all the tones nice and simple, so the features stand out. ” The portraits will then be printed onto circular board and displayed near the original coins so people can compare them.

Hair and make up artist Louise said that some of the portraits had been quite tricky due to the range of styles and periods. “I got Kat to show me the models and which coin was going with each particular coin. We had to work out what their hair texture was like … We have used a few hair pieces, and its worked quite well!”

Welsh student Harrison, who was spotted busking on the streets of Chester was styled as Anglo Saxon ruler Aethelred.

makeshift make up and photo studio
The museum lecture theatre as makeshift make up and photo studio

Harrison as Aethelred
Harrison as Aethelred

To read the complete article, see:
Recreating coin portraits at the Grosvenor museum (

Here are some more images from the photographer's web site. -Editor

coin hairstyle images

The specially chosen models were styled over two days, some more complex than others due to the wide range of styles and periods.

Now, thanks to the fantastic hair and make –up of Louise O’Callaghan and all the volunteers involved, these historic VIP’s are now on show in their full glory from 23rd July to the 16th October.

To read the complete article, see:
Minted: Making Money and Meaning (

We'll try to contact the museum for images of the coins. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

E-Sylum Leidman ad01new coin


This week's Featured Web Site is Historical and Commemorative Medals, the Collection of Benjamin Weiss.

Welcome to my collection of Historical and Commemorative Medals. At this site you will find images, descriptions and historical commentaries of over 500 medals, both European and American, dating from the 16th through the 19th centuries. I hope you enjoy the art as well as the history these medals represent.

Historical Art Medal 373 o

NNP ad17 Expanding Fine Art of Numismatics

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