The eSylum - Volume 9 (2006)

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 9, Number 20, May 14, 2006:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


WAYNE'S WORDS

Among our recent subscribers are Jon Amatp of Heritage Auctions,
Carl Matthews, Dwight Manley, Thomas Steward, John Murphy, Tim Webb
and Michael Roschel. Welcome aboard!  We now have 895 subscribers.
Many thanks for Bill Murray who mentioned The E-Sylum in a recent
Coin World article - this may be where some of our new subscribers
Are coming from.

We lead off this week with good wishes for Nancy Green, who
recently retired as Librarian of the American Numismatic Association.
One book it will be the duty of someone else to catalog and place
on the shelf is Roger Burdette's "Renaissance of American Coinage
1905-1908", which became available over the weekend - I've written
a review.  Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing provides an update
on the upcoming Cherrypickers' Guide, and in response to a query
Nancy Oliver & Rich Kelly remind us of how to order their book
'A Mighty Fortress: The Stories Behind the 2nd San Francisco Mint'.

Research queries this week include requests for information on
the Feversham Hoard and Georges Bataille of the Bibliothèque
Nationale.  Karl Moulton and Dave Bowers provide peeks into their
upcoming books as they answer the previous query about the Jacob
Perkins building in Newburyport:  Did Perkins really make coins or
paper money there?

Dick Johnson chimes in with three great articles this week, all
related to rising commodity prices and their affect on coinage.

Finally, reports from Spain note that several employees of the
worldwide collectibles firm Escala have been arrested following
a police raid on the company’s headquarters related to charges
of fraud involving stamp investments.  The firm has a number of
unrelated numismatic divisions, including Bowers and Merena
Auctions, Spectrum Numismatics and Teletrade in the U.S.  Have
a great week, everyone.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


LAKE SALE #84 PRICES REALIZED AVALIABLE

Fred Lake writes: "The prices realized list for our sale #84
which closed on Tuesday, May 9, 2006 is now posted on our web
site at: lakebooks.com
Scroll down to sale #84 (or press the "2006" link) and you will see 
the two choices for downloading the list.

The sale was quite active with "Redbooks" and special edition
catalogs being sought after. Our next sale will be held on
August 8, 2006 and will feature selections from the library
of Joseph E. Dinardo."


NANCY GREEN'S RETIREMENT

Howard Daniel writes: "No, I do not want to read about Nancy
Green retiring as Librarian at the ANA!  She had not gotten my
approval on her retirement papers before submitting them!  I am
sure she has trained an excellent staff, but I was just getting
used to Nancy after years of me training her!  Only kidding -
she is a great lady and friend and I will miss her on the ANA
circuit, but I will get to Colorado Springs to bother her every
once in awhile so she does not get much rest in her retirement.
Good luck Nancy in your retirement!"

NBS President Pete Smith writes: "I want to extend my best
wishes to Nancy Green on her second retirement from the ANA.
I recall meeting her when the ANA convention was in Denver in
1996. I hope she can return to greet her friends in NBS when
the convention returns to Denver next August.

Nancy collects library medals. Perhaps now she will have time
to exhibit them or write an article about them for The Asylum.
Those are selfish wishes based on what I want. Of course what
is important is for Nancy now to do what she wants.

In my role as NBS President and her role as ANA Librarian,
we had a professional relationship dealing with fundraising,
support of the ANA Library and recruiting speakers for NBS
meetings. I recall challenging her with a research question
I had been working on without success for a few years. She
found the answer for me.

More that a professional associate, I consider her a friend.
We had lunch or dinner at a couple of the ANA conventions.
While we talked about literature and ANA politics, we also
talked about our families, putting kids through college and
the challenges dealing with aging parents. I hope Nancy will
keep in touch with her friends and continue her association
with the NBS."


BURDETTE'S RENAISSANCE OF AMERICAN COINAGE 1905-1908

The latest volume of Roger Burdette's planned trilogy covers
the early period of America's coinage renaissance, the key years
when President Theodore Roosevelt embarked on a mission to
revitalize the nation's coin designs with the help of Augustus
Saint-Gaudens and other top sculptors of the day.

The book is illustrated with hundreds of black and white images
of coins, patterns, models, drawings and sketches.  Absent are
portraits of some of the coin designers themselves, but Roger
adds: "There is a bust of Saint-Gaudens on p4 and a photo of Henry
Hering on p55.  There's a photo of Lodge on p.5 and Bigelow on p323.
Available photos of Pratt are so awful that I decided not to use
one. Roosevelt is represented by multiple images on medals and
plaques. Frank Leach will appear in the 1909-1915 book as will
George Roberts during his second stint as Mint Director."

The most technically impressive photo may be the computer-generated
"rollout" image of the entire edge of an extremely high relief
1907 double eagle, created by the author based on photo provided
by NGC (p367).  Similar edge photos appear elsewhere in the book.
Historically, the most impressive photos are the one showing the
original low-relief model and the one with "E Pluribus Unum" on
the rock. Roger adds: "The first was thought to not exist and the
second had never been imagined by numismatists."

"President Roosevelt was justifiably proud of the new eagle and
double eagle. He and the members of his cabinet purchased coins
as personal mementoes, as well as semi-official awards of respect
and admiration for friends and government employees." (p152)

A fact noted in Alison Frankel's new book about the 1933
Double Eagle, Augustus Saint-Gaudens "treated the experimental
coins he was sent as mechanical models, nothing more."  It was
his wife Augusta who recognized not only their beauty, but their
investment potential.  "She felt that beyond their artistic
qualities, they would be worth at least $5,000 in the future
and she has determined to get as many as possible..." (p153)

But the book isn't all about Saint-Gaudens - the fight over the
"In God We Trust" motto and the groundbreaking incuse designs of
Bela Lyon Pratt are addressed in depth as well.  It turns out
that "In all respects Bela Pratt was treated shabbily by the
president, the mint and his collaborator", Dr. William S. Bigelow.
Pratt designed the coin; Roosevelt's friend Dr. Bigelow provided
"technical and political influence" (p342).

Through his research, Roger identified two previously unrecognized
$10 gold pattern coins, and he notes at least four other patterns
that remain to be discovered - Mint records indicate that they
were struck, yet none are known today (p368-369).  Interestingly,
the book also identifies cardboard trial pieces (actually thick
paperboard) which "were supposed to be kept by the director's office
as part of the official record of acceptance", but which cannot now
be located in the archives.  "The rectangular stock was dampened,
struck with the dies at sufficient pressure to show the full design,
then allowed to dry." (p271-272).

Roger is to be commended not only for his diligent research and
clear writing, but for his openness in indicating where facts leave
off and speculation begins - such divisions are difficult if not
impossible to discern in the writings of earlier researchers.

For example, Mint records indicate that on December 2, 1907 the
president requested twenty additional individually-packaged
high-relief double eagles.  Twelve days later, Roosevelt observed
the highly-publicized ceremonial departure of the U.S. Atlantic
Fleet from Norfolk, VA. The total of twenty commanding officers
might have been a coincidence, but it would not be a far stretch
of logic to infer a connection.  The book includes a few pages on
"The Great White Fleet", but the section is prefaced with an
italicized paragraph noting that the connection is highly
speculative. "Naval archives contain nothing that confirms this
connection. The author admits to standing very far out on a thin
limb." (p154)

David Tripp, author of "Illegal Tender: Gold, Greed and the
Mystery of the 1933 Double Eagle" contributed the book's foreword.
I wholeheartedly agree with Tripp's conclusion that "future authors
of articles and books concerning these episodes will owe an
incalculable debt to Roger Burdette's book, for his work will become
the handbook to which future researchers will look first before
heading off on their own journeys of discovery." (page xv)

Tripp also accurately notes that despite "some frightfully
distressing destruction of United States Mint records in the 1970s,
there is still a treasure trove of vital, essential material that
is readily available, and there is more yet to be discovered."
(page xvi)

In short, this book is a must for any serious U.S. numismatist's
library, and is a must-read for any collector of the coinage spawned
in this era.  We bibliophiles are indebted to Roger both for his
painstaking research and for underwriting the publishing of the book.
The relatively small market will likely make this a break-even effort
at best, which is a shame.

Collectors, dealers, auctioneers and others will also be able to
leverage the book's information to identify, market and trade coins
worth sums thousands (or tens of thousands) of times the book's retail
price, but none of the profits are likely to find their way back to
the author.  If I were the Emperor Norton of Numismatics, I would
decree that for the period of five years from first publication, any
commercial coin description based on a book's original research be
taxed the sum of $25, with the proceeds going to the book's author.
That's impossible to implement, of course, but if Walter Breen got
paid by dealers of his day for his research efforts, maybe today's
authors should be remunerated as well.

I would like to publicly thank Roger for stopping by my office
personally on Monday to present to me a copy of the book, which he
took the time to inscribe to me.  I've savored it all week, and it
will become a treasured part of my numismatic library.   The book
debuted to the collecting public Saturday May 13 at the Pennsylvania
Association of Numismatists coin show in Monroeville, PA.

Roger graciously agreed to make a presentation to a crowd of young
numismatists at PAN's highly popular Coins4Kids program, and also
spent time meeting collectors and selling and signing copies of
his books.  He donated one copy of each of his two new books, and
these were awarded to two kids in a random drawing.  They were all
smiles and eagerly watched as Roger inscribed their copies.


FRANKEL'S 1933 DOUBLE EAGLE BOOK REVIEWED BY WALL STREET JOURNAL

The Wall Street Journal published a review by Jason Goodwin of
Alison Frankel's new book "Double Eagle" on Saturday, May 13:

"Ms. Frankel steers her reader through a world of coin fairs,
backroom deals, gossip and meticulous scholarship. The result is
a thriller-like narrative that tacks swiftly back and forth among
the principal players.

We meet dubious dealers -- "a squat, balding redhead who wore
thick-rimmed glasses, cheap suits, and a perpetual sneer" -- and
obsessive collectors. There is the flamboyant coin dealer Jay Parrino,
"a tough-guy contestant in coin-dealing's long-running pageant of
self-aggrandizement," and his would-be nemesis, Jack Moore, a former
truck driver who prods the Secret Service into a double-eagle sting
operation but then ends up mired in his own legal troubles."

"Above all, Ms. Frankel immerses her reader in the Florentine world
of dealers and collectors, the interplay of rivalry, passion and
mutual trust that animates the tiny handful of people -- almost all
of them men -- for whom a Brasher doubloon or an Indian head nickel
matters more than anything else in the world."

Ms. Frankel builds her story with a sure touch. At the end, we find
the double eagle still enveloped in a mist of legal doubts, trailing
the very image of slippery value that Teddy Roosevelt had been eager
to banish from U.S. currency when he commissioned it. The 1933 double
eagle still may not be legal to own. And what, you might ask, is it
really worth? Seven million dollars -- or 10 years in jail?"

To read the complete review (subscription required) see:
Full Story


CHERRYPICKER'S GUIDE, FOURTH EDITION, VOLUME TWO

Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing writes: "Here's an update
on the Cherrypickers' Guide, in reply to Steve Pellegrini's
query in last week's issue.  E-Sylum readers can go to "The
Whitman Review" (linked off www.whitmanbooks.com) to get to an
article about the book. From there they can download sample
pages, including the foreword by Q. David Bowers and a sample
of the coin-by-coin section."

To go directly to the Cherrypickers' Guide article:
Full Story

"Few books have taken the numismatic community by storm like
the Cherrypickers' Guide to Rare Die Varieties. The first edition
burst onto the scene in 1990, and since then thousands of coin
collectors have been bitten by the Die Varieties Bug."

"Since 1990, four editions of the Cherrypickers' Guide have come
out, to popular acclaim, with thousands of copies sold... By the
time you read this, Whitman Publishing will be in the final stages
of typesetting and proofreading the Fourth Edition, Volume Two,
of the Cherrypickers' Guide, covering U.S. coins from half dimes
through modern dollars, gold dollars to double eagles, and classic
commemoratives.

The book will debut at the American Numismatic Association's
World's Fair of Money in Denver this August."


PERKINS COIN WORLD ARTICLE ON THE 1795 B-19 DOLLAR

NBS President Pete Smith writes: "The lead article in the May 22,
2006, issue of Coin World is by our own W. David Perkins. He tells
of the acquisition of the 1795 B-19 Dollar by specialist Warren
Miller. In earlier correspondence, I mentioned running into Dave
in the security line at the Columbus, Ohio, airport. He was returning
home after brokering the sale of this dollar."


E-SYLUM SUBSCRIBER SAMUEL ERNST WINS CSNS JUNIOR LITERARY AWARD

Congratulations to Samuel Ernst for winning the Central States
Numismatic Society's Daniel Parker Junior Literary Award for his
article about the extra leaves Wisconsin quarters.  He writes:
"Mr. Finner at Central States said I am the youngest person to
ever get a article published, so I guess that means I'm the
youngest to ever win an award too."

To read Samuel's article, see: Full Story


WHERE TO BUY "A MIGHTY FORTRESS"

Jeff Reichenberger writes: "I've been trying to locate a copy
of the book 'A Mighty Fortress: The Stories Behind the 2nd San
Francisco Mint' by Kelly and Oliver. I can't find it from the
publisher, the ANA's Money Market, or other book outlets."

Nancy Oliver & Rich Kelly write: "You can purchase a copy for
$14.95 plus $2.00 postage and handling (California residents,
please add 8% sales tax).  If you would like us, the co-authors,
to sign your copy, we would be happy to do so.  Please send
check or money order to:

O.K. Associates
26746 Contessa St.
Hayward, CA  94545-3150"


INFORMATION ON GEORGES BATAILLE SOUGHT

An item published in The Guardian May 11 discusses a new exhibit
about a short-lived magazine published by Georges Bataille.  It
caught my eye because of the mention of Bataille's "day job" in
numismatics:

"Documents' purported academicism was its disguise, just as its
editor, by day a numismatist at the Cabinet des Médailles in the
Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, was far more than a mere
cataloguer of coins and medals. If Bataille is known today to a
general audience, it is as a pornographer, the author of The Story
of the Eye, the novel he pseudonymously published in 1928."

"Bataille was a strange, difficult thinker, a dissident and a
transgressor. And Documents, the small magazine he edited in 1929
and 1930, which ran for only 15 issues, was stranger still.
Documents seems an unlikely subject for a major exhibition. But
if the magazine was influential at the time it was published, it
is perhaps even more so now."

Can anyone tell us more about Georges Bataille?  
Did he publish any numismatic works?

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

To read a related article, see: Full Story


FEVERSHAM HOARD INFORMATION SOUGHT

Philip Mernick of London writes: "I recently acquired a couple
of old copies of The Numismatist at a coin club auction (this
publication is rarely seen in England). Volume 102, Number 2
of February 1989 has a very interesting article by Joseph R.
Lasser titled "The Remarkable Feversham Hoard". Can any E-Sylum
reader give me details of where I might find a detailed write up
of the hoard contents?"


U.S. NICKEL AS VULNERABLE AS THE CENT

Dick Johnson writes: "You have been reading articles here in The
E-Sylum on the vulnerablity of the U.S. cent in recent issues.
That was the first shoe to drop. Now for the second: the U.S.
nickel is as vulnerable as well!

An article in an issue of USA Today last week quoted a U.S. Mint
spokesman with even worse news.  "The Mint estimates it will cost
1.23 cents per penny and 5.73 cents per nickel this fiscal year,
which ends Sept. 30. The cost of producing a penny has risen 27%
in the last year, while nickel manufacturing costs have risen 19%."

I had predicted there would be no cent struck in 2010. My thought
was that Congress would support the cent through 2009 because they
have already passed legislation for the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial
-- and the Lincoln Cent Centennial -- when the 2009 cent coin was
to be struck with four different reverses.

Now we have the problem with the nickel as well.  Get ready to round
up, folks. Ultimately the dime will be the smallest circulating coin i
n America.  It is only a matter of time.

If you wish to read that USA Today story, click on: Full Story


BRITISH ROYAL MINT WARNS AGAINST MELTING COPPER COINS

Dick Johnson writes: "Rising copper prices influenced the British
Royal Mint to issue a warning to British citizens not to hoard or
melt one and two-pence coins for their copper content. Prior to
1992 these coin denominations were 97 percent copper; after that
date it is copper plated steel.  The mint wants to keep their 6.33
billion two-pence coins in circulation.

To read the story click on: Full Story


WILL AMERICA FOLLOW NEW ZEALAND’S COINAGE LEAD?

Dick Johnson writes: "America is NOT the world leader - at
least not in revitalizing its coinage system. New Zealand is!

New Zealand is the first coin-issuing country in the world to
completely revamp its coinage system for modern economic times.
Not by new designs for old denominations, but by eliminating
obsolete denominations and "remodeling" existing denominations
by smaller and lighter-weight compositions in addition to new
designs.

No problems in New Zealand for rising coinage metal prices.
While other countries around the world face massive melting of
coins in circulation for their metal content, America included,
New Zealand is a step ahead of that! Already solved that problem
by planning ahead.

Sixteen years ago the country abolished one and two-cent coins.
They eliminated the 5-cent coin in spring 2005. The 10, 20 and
50-cent coins are being struck now in steel compositions in
smaller sizes and in modern designs. The $1 and $2 coins are
unaffected, they will continue to be struck in copper nickel
composition.

The dime is now the lowest coin in circulation. All prices are
now quoted in multiples of 10 cents while the cent remains a
"money of account." Contracts and quantity sales and purchases
can be quoted in the old cents – or even fractions parts of a
cent! – but the "transaction price," when the final check is
written, it is in a multiple of a dime.

I predicted last year that treasury departments around the world
will look to New Zealand as a case study of revamping and
modernizing coinage systems (E-Sylum, vol 8, no 14, article 3).
Here is what I said:

‘New Zealand will become a textbook case for Treasury departments
of all modern world nations to watch and study. These nations will
ultimately follow suit in eliminating coin denominations below the
fractional value of ten. The only question is when? More progressive
nations will take this action quicker than backward nations.’

Our own American cent and nickel will shortly be obsolete,
inefficient, unsuitable coins for active circulation in a vibrant
economic system. Rising metal costs for these coin compositions
are now forcing these changes on us faster than anticipated. We
can look to what New Zealand did for their coins to plan our
future coins.

Don't miss reading this latest article on New Zealand’s coins:
Full Story


ANA WEB SITE EXPANDED

Gail Baker, Manager of Market and Brand Development at the American
Numismatic Association writes: "I always enjoy my Monday morning
reading! Your readers might be interested in taking another look
at the ANA website. If they haven't been there lately, they need
to check it out - especially the virtual museum. We have added quite
a bit of content and continue to add even more every day.  I hope
to see many of your readers this summer in Denver."

[The ANA's web address is ANA   
First, as bibliophiles our readers should know that web visitors can
perform searches on the online catalog of the ANA's Dwight N.
Manley Numismatic Library, and review policies and procedures
for borrowing materials.  One relatively new addition is a list
of about 35 DVDs available for borrowing, from Lane Brunner's
"Coin Collecting Basics" to Wendell Wolka's "Dark Side of Antebellum:
Broken Bank Notes, "Nefarious Purveyors of 'The Queer'"  The library
page also has a convenient link to the Harry W. Bass Numismatic
Index of Periodicals (NIP).

The Virtual Museum includes the following exhibits:
 Bebee Paper Money Collection
 ANA Featured Coins
 Una and The Lion: British Gold Coins Exhibit
 Lesher Referendum Dollars
 State Quarter Information
 Money of the World Today
 Faces of Money: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

-Editor]


ANA MEMBERSHIP DAY: AUGUST 20, 2006

As in 1996 when the American Numismatic Association convention
was last in Denver, CO, the ANA is sponsoring a Member's Day.
I attended the 1996 affair and wholeheartedly recommend it to
E-Sylum readers.  The event is an ideal opportunity to get to
know the ANA staff, see the facilities first-hand, and visit the
museum and library together with fellow collectors and researchers
from around the world.

Gail Baker writes: "Information on Membership Day is also on the
web site -- on the "Numismatic Events" drop-down menu. You can
also register for the Denver Show AND Membership Appreciation
day online. The form is on the Denver Convention page (under
Numismatic Events)."

Here is the web site description of the event:

"The American Numismatic Association invites you to join us
at the Money Museum and  Library in Colorado Springs on Sunday,
August 20, 2006, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

For members who are attending the Denver World's Fair of Money®
August 16-19, ANA will provide transportation from Denver to
Colorado Springs and back as well as to both the Denver and
Colorado Springs airports.

A barbeque lunch in Colorado Springs will be provided for
everyone who pre-registers.

The staff of the ANA Money Museum and Library will be available
to give guided tours and answer any questions you might have
about the collections or exhibits."

Full Story


DWIGHT MANLEY ON FLORENCE SCHOOK

Dwight Manley writes: "Florence Schook opened the doors to an
incredible world of history, friendships and personal growth that
I will forever be thankful.  She was a tireless supporter of young
numismatists, the true future of our hobby.  Mrs. Schook would
stay in our dorms in Colorado Springs during summer seminars, eat
with us, oversee our poker games, sit and enjoy Dan Ratners' piano
skills, watch Mike Fuljenz and "us teenagers" take on the Colorado
College Woman's Basketball Team, and countless other experiences
that she created!

I remember our great appreciation for her YN program, when Cliff
Levy, Keith Love, Dan Ratner, Dan Pressburger, myself, Michael Kohler,
and many others took 10% of every "poker pot" and donated it to Mrs.
Shook's YN program.

Some 20-25 years later, I kept in regular contact with Mrs. Schook.
She'd call and give updates, and ask me to help out with her Senior
Center, which I gladly did.  Her passing really is a big loss for
all past and future young numismatists!

I hope to work with the ANA to create a permanent tribute to her
incredible legacy."


DID PERKINS MINT OR PRINT IN NEWBURYPORT BUILDING?  MAYBE NOT

Karl Moulton writes: "Here's what research I uncovered about
the Perkins building on Fruit Street in Newburyport.  This
information, along with other early U.S. Mint engravers, is
included in my forthcoming book about Henry Voigt.

Jacob Perkins operated a large, multi-story engraving facility
at Market Square in Newburyport prior to 1792.  He had the skills
and equipment to engrave small metallic objects.  Perkins was
called to the Philadelphia Mint in June of 1792 by his friend,
Tristram Dalton, now the new Mint Treasurer, who was also from
Newburyport.  Perkins brought with him some of his own machines
for edge lettering and planchet cutting, which could have even
been adapted for steam use.  That's why we see such things as
the vine and bars Large Cents and lettered edges on some of
the coins beginning in 1793

As for the building on Fruit Street that is being considered
for restoration as a minting facility, from what I have gathered,
it was the merely Perkins family residence and was not used in
connection to his business.  The Perkins family was large, with
nine children.  Whether this situation changed later when Jacob
later moved to Philadelphia, I can't say with certainty.

However, it is quite possible he took small pocket size items
home to work on, such as the 1800 Washington funeral die
(illustration in The Numismatist, August 1959, p.938), the
portrait being copied from his earlier rendition of President
Washington as seen on the rejected pattern for the 1793 dollar.
As far as can be determined, there was no equipment at his
residence to strike any coins or medals."

Dave Bowers writes: "As to Jacob Perkins, in my new book (Paper
Money Issued by Banks in the United States 1782-1866) there will
be a chapter on him.  There will probably be 100 pages on Perkins,
90% numismatic.

The building on Fruit Street, now extant, has nothing to do with
his making Washington funeral medals or any other coins; it was
never a mint. Earlier, he was at another address in town. Jacob
headed off for England after spending some time in Philadelphia
in the mid-1810s, after which time the factory remained in operation.
Then in the early 1830s the business was moved to Boston and melded
into the New England Bank Note Co., recently formed."


THE SO-CALLED DOLLAR MARKET FROTHY

Alan V. Weinberg writes: "With respect to Steve Pellegrini's
anticipation of the publication of the new so-called dollar book:
Jeff Shevlin, the prospective author and a founder of the so-called
dollar collecting society, has more than once said publicly that
the book is yet several years away.

Anticipation of the book and the slabbing of many so-called
dollars, often with MS-65++ grades, has resulted in a tremendous
speculative bubble in prices. For decades, the so-called dollar
market was severely depressed. Perhaps one of the most depressed
and least collected segments of the exonumia market, at least
partially due to the imaginatively high prices in the 1963
Hibler-Kappen so-called dollar  book. Then, perhaps 3 years ago,
so-called dollar slabbing started and you found coin dealers
offering highly graded so-called dollars at enormous, even
laughable prices. It is not unusual on eBay to see a starting
price exceeding $1,500 for a slabbed MS-67 common so-called dollar
which a few years ago you couldn't sell for $50.

"Something new" in the slab market attracted speculators and
some serious collectors who previously didn't know what a so-called
dollar was. Paul Cunningham, a prominent Michigan-based dealer in
so-called dollars, has said the so-called dollar market may well
turn out to be like baseball cards, a  speculative craze.  I
heartily agree. The inclusion of so many pieces in the series not
nearly approximating a dollar size and the arbitrary exclusion of
several times as many so-called dollars from the series as are
listed in the series - resulting in enormous claimed values for
"unlisted" so-called dollars -  makes the entire field completely
disorganized.

Until the book comes out (years away), and it is said the book
will exclude many now-listed pieces which should never have been
listed in the first place, look for a big breather in the so-called
dollar market. Too many pieces, too many high grades, outlandish
prices, no good basic reference, and too many speculative dealers
and investors."


MORE ON THE GREAT BIG SILVER MELT OF 1980

A subscriber writes: "I think one important element of the disposal
of 90% silver coins has been omitted.  I was involved in the metals
game during the later part of the 'Rush' of the early 1980's.  As I
remember, the savvy people in the metals business at that time
bought 'physical silver' in almost any recognizable form and
concurrently sold contracts for an equivalent number of .999 Fine
ounces for delivery at some time in the future.

During the interim (the time between the purchase and the contract
date of delivery), the silver would be sent to a refinery, melted,
refined, and poured into 'deliverable bars'.  These were bars
recognized as genuine by the COMEX.  They bore the stamp of one
of the major refiners, such as Handy & Harman, and were stored in
bonded COMEX warehouses.

As a rule, the more volatile the metals markets are, the more
useful the futures markets are in helping dealers to avoid price
risk.  Unfortunately, during the frenzied metals markets of early
1980, the refinery backlog may have temporarily exceeded some of
the contract periods.  That may have exposed some of the scrap
buyers to price risk."


NEW JAPANESE BANKNOTE MISPRINT LEADS TO VENDING MACHINE REJECTION

According to a Reuters account, "Japan's high-tech money-printing
bureau was left humbled on Tuesday when 39,500 bills were found to
be misprinted, an error that caused vending machines across the
country to reject them.

The 1,000-yen (5 pound) bills, redesigned along with other
denominations in 2004 with sophisticated security features to
fight counterfeiting, had been printed with a fault unrecognisable
to the eye but detectable by some machines, the Bank of Japan said."

"Japan beefed up its anti-counterfeiting drive in 2004 with new
designs featuring holograms, watermarks and latent images in its
first major overhaul in 20 years."

To read the complete article, see Full Story


QUIZ ANSWER: THE OTHER NICKELS IN THE 1913 LIBERTY NICKEL CASE

Howard Spindel writes: "My reference library tells me that the
three other coins originally present with the five 1913 Liberty
nickels were three Buffalo nickels - one Judd 1790 pattern, one
type 1, and one type 2.  1942 was the last time all eight coins
were together in one holder, owned by Eric P. Newman.

As to where all the Buffalos are now, my library doesn't say.
As of 1969, two of them were apparently still in Newman's hands."


UNIQUE, SEMI-UNIQUE, QUASI-UNIQUE, WANNABE-UNIQUE AND REALLY, REALLY U-NEEK

Regarding the improper use of the term "unique", Morten Eske
Mortensen writes: "It seems we have several degrees of "uniqueness,"
most unique, slightly unique, only a little bit unique.   Where
will it stop?"   In 1993 I began calling attention to this practice
with the  Danish language headline "Unikum - Unikummere
- unikummest ..." (in English,  "Unique - more unique - even more
unique ...").

The March 2006 issue of the "Monthly Commentary for Well-Informed
Circles" has been published in the English language and deals with
the false description of the 'number of known specimens' recently
claimed by a major European auction house.
Full Story
http://home.worldonline.dk/mem/info/abonnementMaanedensKommentar.htm )

[The article is titled "Unknown by Whom?"  The catalog entry being
critiqued describes a coin as "in Gold unbekannt", or "unknown in
gold".  -Editor]

At these links are exposed other previous examples of cheatings
with false statements of 'unique' in the auction and coin dealer
business:

Full Story
Full Story
Full Story
Full Story
Full Story
Full Story
Full Story


TWO ALMOND DELIGHT PROMOTIONS

Joe Boling writes: "I was one of the friends to whom Gene gave
a set of the unfolded reprinted notes (printed by American Bank
Note Company). So there were at least two Almond Delight numismatic
promotions, because my box, as reported earlier, was for world
notes, not the ABNC obsoletes."

[Thanks for the reminder about the world note promotion.  If there
were two promotions, then there would have been at least two types
of boxes. Mine is the ABNC edition. -Editor]


CANADA FIRST TO ISSUE A "FOREVER" STAMP?

John Regitko, Executive Secretary of the Canadian Numismatic
Association writes: "With reference to the article in the last
E-Sylum about the U.S. Postal Service's proposed "forever stamp,"
in Canada we already have such a stamp.

A couple of years ago, I purchased a quantity of sheets of stamps
that people usually order with their own designs to show of their
kids or dog, except I used the logo of the Canadian Numismatic
Association. We included a single and block of the stamp in a
Convention registration kit as well as using some for C.N.A.
correspondence.

Since Canada Post increased the price of stamps recently, I
called them and asked if the value is embedded in the stamp.
I was advised that no value is included digitally in the design
and it has the value of the "current" basic domestic rate. I
was also told that it cannot be used for foreign mail by simply
adding the additional amount."


ESCALA OFFICES RAIDED IN PYRAMID SCHEME INVESTIGATION

A couple subscribers forwarded reports from Spain of raids on
the company formerly known as Greg Manning Auctions.  Although
the current investigation focuses on the sale of stamps, some
news accounts claim other collectibles may be involved.  The
company has numismatic divisions in the U.S., including Bowers
and Merena Auctions Spectrum Numismatics and Teletrade.  The
bulk of the parent company's profits came from stamp sales.

"Shares of New York auction house Escala Group Inc. lost more
than half their value Tuesday after Spanish police raided the
offices of Escala, its majority owner and another company in
a probe of alleged fraud involving collectible stamps.

Spanish police arrested eight people in connection with the
alleged fraud that could affect as many as 200,000 small
investors, authorities said Tuesday.

Escala's stock plummeted $19.77, or 62 percent, to close at
$12.23 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The stock has traded in a
52-week range of $9 to $35. Escala, which is based in New York,
was previously known as Greg Manning Auctions until it changed
its name last year."

"The raids were part of a joint investigation launched by Spain's
National Court, tax authorities, financial crime prosecutors and
the National Police over an alleged pyramid-type scheme based on
overpriced stamps and other collectibles."

"The raids came after Barron's investment magazine extensively
reported questionable practices at Afinsa, which operates a
"no-lose" stamp-sales program for investors in Spain and Portugal.
Many of the investors are retired individuals allocating an
average of 150 to 300 euros ($190-$380), according to court
officials."

To read the complete article on Yahoo News, see: Full Story

"In Spain, television broadcasts were full of images of Spanish
investors virtually besieging Escala's office, demanding more
information on the allegations of stamp-investing fraud."

"It's going to be one of the biggest financial scandals in Europe,"
says Charles Dupplin, chairman of the art and private client division
of Hiscox, a London specialty insurer that cut ties with Afinsa last
year amid media reports questioning its business practices. "It's
really awful."

According to Barron's and The Wall Street Journal, experts have
questioned Afinsa's valuation methods for rare stamps. The stamps
underpinned investment contracts that guaranteed a return of 6%
to 10% over a fixed period, with a money-back guarantee when the
contracts expire. Many of the estimated 350,000 investors, mostly
in Spain and Portugal, were retirees buying contracts worth a few
hundred dollars. Critics have dubbed the guaranteed-return program
a Ponzi scheme that depends on pulling in more participants to
continue funding the returns."

"Escala also counts among its business units a number of small
auction houses in the U.S. including Ivy & Manning Philatelic
Auctions, Greg Manning Galleries, Spectrum Numismatics, Teletrade,
Nutmeg Stamp Sales and Superior Sports Auctions. In Europe, the
group includes Spain's Auctentia Subastas (Afinsa Auctions),
Switzerland's Corinphila Auktionen, and the Koehler group of
auction companies in Germany. In Asia, its auctions operations
are conducted through John Bull Stamp Auctions, the oldest
philatelic auction house in Hong Kong."

"The investigation should have little effect on the broader
stamp market, says James Kloetzel, editor of Scott's, a Sidney,
Ohio, publisher of stamp catalogs.

"As far as I know those [auctions] are all on the up and up,"
he says. "They're selling real stamps to real buyers at real
prices.  Where the problem came in was the investment area.
They set values [for the stamps that guaranteed the investment
contracts] using catalog prices that don't reflect what a
collector will actually pay."

To read the complete article in Smart Money, see: Full Story

One reader sent a copy of an article from The Financial Times:

"According to one UK-based trader, Escala became a “giant hoover”
of stamps in international markets, and because it bought in bulk,
it was able to command huge discounts from smaller dealers.
Philatelic experts say little of what Escala bought on the market
could be considered investment grade.

“They bought damaged stamps, worth only 1 per cent of catalogue
value, or stamps that were not rare, and therefore had no
investment value,” one philatelic expert said.

Afinsa insists it only deals in investment grade stamps, and
this is reflected in the value of its transactions with Escala.
But OCU, a Spanish consumer lobby group which bought a set of
stamps from Afinsa for €600 last year, was only able to recover
5 per cent of the purchase price when it tried to sell the
stamps on the open market."


FEATURED WEB SITE: INFLUENCE AND CHANGE IN COINAGE

This week's featured web site is a virtual exhibit of the
Fitzwilliam Museum Department of Coins and Medals titled
"Between East and West: Influence and Change in Coinage."

"Coinages have long been influenced by the movement of peoples,
by cultural interchanges, and by trade. Innovations in coinages,
from Ancient Greece to twentieth-century India, reflect these
influences and exchanges. At times these have led to radical
changes in the monetary system, but in other cases newcomers
have seamlessly adopted the established local currency."

Featured Web Site

  Wayne Homren

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