The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 26, Number 8, February 19, 2023, Article 31


Here are some additional items in the media this week that may be of interest. -Editor

Adelaide Assay Office Gold Ingot

Jeff Starck of Coin World wrote an article on the rare Adelaide Assay Office gold ingots. -Editor

  Adelaide Assay Office Gold Ingot

Adelaide Assay Office gold ingots are among the earliest of Australian numismatic items.

While the Government Assay Office of South Australia filled the need to process an influx of gold, this treatment proved impractical due to the varying weight and fineness of these ingots, coupled with a general lack of circulating standard currency.

Many challenges accompanied the Australian Gold Rush of the 1850s for both miners and the communities they would return to. After months away, droves of individuals would return to their respective towns, Adelaide included, with ample gold in tow.

A necessity to process this gold was immediately apparent, and, under the Bullion Act of the Province, the Government Assay Office of South Australia was authorized.

The Assay Office issued gold ingots, which were to be used to back bank notes circulated by local banks.

To read the complete article, see:
Adelaide Assay Office gold ingot sells for $540,000 (

Sicily Naxos Coin Repatriated to Italy

An E-Sylum reader passed along this report from the Manhattan District Attorney about the repatriation of antiquities to Italy; some coins were included. -Editor

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr., today announced the repatriation of 14 antiquities collectively valued at nearly $2.5 million to Italy. Recovered during multiple on-going criminal investigations, the antiquities had been stolen by several high-profile antiquities traffickers and smugglers that are being investigated by this Office. The objects mark Italy's latest ceremony with the District Attorney's Office, which has returned 214 stolen Italian antiquities, collectively valued at approximately $35 million, in the past seven months alone.

Among the pieces being returned today include:

The Sicily Naxos Coin. Minted circa 430 B.C.E in the Greek colony of Naxos, on Sicily, this silver coin features the bearded Dionysus on one side and his squatting drinking partner, Silenus, on the reverse. The Sicily Naxos Coin first surfaced on the international art market in 2013, when a known trafficker offered the coin for sale with no provenance whatsoever. Prior to its appearance at a London-based auction house, a co-conspirator of the trafficker supplied false provenance for the coin. The Sicily Naxos Coin is currently valued at $500,000 and was among a group of coins seized at JFK airport as it was being smuggled into New York pursuant to an ongoing joint investigation between this Office, HSI, and Italy. At least one individual has been arrested in the course of this investigation with more to follow.

To read the complete article, see:
D.A. Bragg Returns 14 Stolen Antiquities to Italy (

The Codex Sassoon

For bibliophiles, Len Augsburger passed along this New York Times story about a rare Hebrew Bible bible with an estimated value of $30 million or more. Thanks. -Editor

  The Codex Sassoon

One day, about 1,100 years ago, a scribe in present-day Israel or Syria sat down to begin work on a book. Copied out on roughly 400 large parchment sheets, it contained the complete text of the Hebrew Bible, written in square letters similar to those of the Torah scrolls in any synagogue today.

After changing hands a few times, it ended up in a synagogue in northeast Syria, which was destroyed around the 13th or 14th century. Then it disappeared for nearly 600 years.

Since resurfacing in 1929, the Bible has been in private collections. But one afternoon last week, there it was sitting in a cradle at Sotheby's in Manhattan, where Sharon Liberman Mintz, the auction house's senior Judaica consultant, was turning its rippled pages with a mixture of familiarity and awe.

The Codex Sassoon, as it's known, is being billed by Sotheby's as the earliest example of a nearly complete codex containing all 24 books of the Hebrew Bible. (It is missing about five leaves, including the first 10 chapters of Genesis.) Set to be auctioned in May, the book carries an estimate of $30 million to $50 million, which could make it the most expensive book or historical document ever sold.

To read the complete article, see:
Oldest Nearly Complete Hebrew Bible Heads to Auction (

To read the Sotheby's description, see:
The Remarkable History of Codex Sassoon (

128 Victoria Cross Hero Signatures

For medal collectors, here's another book of interest - one with autographs of 128 Victoria Cross medal winners. It sold for for £4,500. -Editor

  128 Victoria Cross war hero signatures

A Northamptonshire man is selling an autograph book complete with 128 Victoria Cross war hero signatures. The 67-year-old autograph book belonged to Jack Masters, who was toastmaster at the Victoria Cross Centenary Celebrations in Hyde Park, London, in June 1956.

The event was attended by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip - and Jack was granted special permission by Her Majesty to obtain the veteran's signatures. When the attendees came down to dinner, they were asked to sign a book for The Queen and Jack placed his autograph book next to hers.

He then cheekily stood by the table and asked all 128 Victoria Cross war heroes to sign his book too to obtain his own private Royal Collection. Jack's collection of signatures has now been described as one of the "most extraordinary militaria finds" ever uncovered by auction experts.

To read the complete articles, see:
Incredible book with 128 Victoria Cross war heroes' signatures sat in Northamptonshire drawer for 30 years (
Victoria Cross autograph book sells for £4,500 at auction (

FBI Sued Over Civil War Gold Hunt

Leon Saryan passed along this story of a Civil War gold "find". Thanks. -Editor

The court-ordered release of a trove of government photos, videos, maps and other documents involving the FBI's secretive search for Civil War-era gold has a treasure hunter more convinced than ever of a coverup — and just as determined to prove it.

Dennis Parada waged a legal battle to force the FBI to turn over records of its excavation in Dents Run, Pennsylvania, where local lore says an 1863 shipment of Union gold disappeared on its way to the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. The FBI, which went to Dents Run after sophisticated testing suggested tons of gold might be buried there, has long insisted the dig came up empty.

Parada and his advisers, who have spent countless hours poring over the newly released government records, believe otherwise. They accuse the FBI of distorting key evidence and improperly withholding records in an apparent effort to conceal the recovery of a historic, extremely valuable gold cache. The FBI defends its handling of the materials.

To read the complete article, see:
A metal detectorist is suing the FBI, claiming he alerted them to 7 tons of Civil War-era gold and they took it away in a secret overnight dig (

Wayne Homren, Editor

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