Volume 12, Number 04, January 25, 2009
This week we open with a reminder about Charlie Davis's upcoming numismatic literature sale, and notes on recent sales by Fred Lake and George Kolbe.
Next, we have several announcements and reviews of new numismatic books, and items on topics including inaugural medals and souvenirs, the Society of Bearded Numismatists and the ANA. One important announcement for researches is the Oral History of Medallic Art project sponsored by MCA.
To help clear up some possible confusion, please note that the SSNYFREE code mentioned last week is for free SHIPPING of the S.S. New York book, not a free book. Sorry!
To learn about the dead rabbit medal, read on. Have a great week, everyone!
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
For more information on the sale, see our earlier E-Sylum article: CHARLES DAVIS JANUARY 31, 2009 NUMISMATIC LITERATURE MAIL BID SALE (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v12n01a03.html)
Fred Lake of Lake Books submitted this update on his recent literature sale. -EditorThe prices realized in our 96th mail-bid sale of numismatic literature have been posted to our web site at: http://www.lakebooks.com/current.html The sale featured selections from the library of Charles Hoskins and bidding was very active. Our next sale will be held in late March. We invite your participation at that time.
Douglas Saville submitted the following report on George Kolbe's recent numismatic literature sales in New York. Thanks! -EditorThe Bassoli library was formed over many years, by a knowledgeable Italian collector. George Kolbe was commissioned to sell the library at auction and the sale was held at the NYINC on January 10.
I travelled to New York from London on January 8, and viewed the books on Friday. The lots were neatly arranged on tables in the rather aptly-named Carnegie Suite of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. More than 95% of the lots had been shipped from California. Considering the viewing was located just yards from the main Bourse areas, I was surprised, perhaps even relieved, that relatively few dealers and collectors turned up to view the books.
The US library - the “Twinleaf” sale - was considerably less interesting to me, having always been “confused” by US numismatic literature. Having said that, I was the disappointed under-bidder on the outstanding Jonathan Swift “Defence of the People of Ireland” a rare work on Wood’s coinage (Lot 94), that realized $12,000 on a $5000 estimate. I really felt it should have returned to the UK…….. The Twinleaf library seemed to sell reasonably well, with few lots remaining unsold. It did not auger well for my chances of buying many lots in the Bassoli library, to be sold shortly after.
After a short interval, the Bassoli library sale started with lot 101. I would say there were some 30 people in the room, with perhaps a further 7 or 8 telephone bidders- some no doubt from Europe.
In general, prices hovered around estimate, with, perhaps 15% of the lots remaining unsold. I suspect the owner may have insisted on too-high reserves on some of those lots.
Unquestionably, the outstanding lot of the sale, the Du Choul (Lot 150) in a superb contemporary full morocco gilt binding, sold for $12,000 on an estimate of 10,000, whilst Lot 193 a very fine and un-mutilated Le Pois, also in a contemporary (Eve) disappointed at $6750, a bargain, I would say, and with a less-than-excessive estimate of $7500.
Overall, there appeared to be no real surprises. However, lot 114, Barbarigo’s beautifully printed, and rather rare work, appeared a bargain at $3750, whilst Duby’s foundation work on Obsidional coins, even with Louis XVI’s Arms, would seem less of a bargain at $4000 on an estimate of $1750. Lot 162, a really charming, and rare, Fulvio, did poorly, I thought, at $4000, and the estimate appeared to be more than reasonable at $4500. The diminutive volume had been acquired from a Drury catalogue in 1983, where it had been listed for sale at £1000, yes, pounds! And I remember having tried to buy it at the time, only to be told it had already been sold “to Italy”.
A really beautiful two-volume set of Gaetani’s magnificent Museum Mazzuchellianum, the catalogue of a magnificent collection of medals, in a contemporary pasteboard binding, sold surprisingly slightly under estimate at $3000.
I would suspect many of these books “went home”, as it were, to Europe, some to Italy, but many, I know, will stay in the US, and a few, I am pleased to say, will go back to the UK, via me.
No doubt, the current economic conditions worldwide affected the prices realized for these beautiful books, the relatively low attendance by floor bidders at the sale of such a major library must have been disappointing for the owner, and the auctioneer. I have no doubt also that had the sale been held a year earlier, the owner might have been somewhat more satisfied. I am sure many collectors will look back at this sale and regret they were not more aggressive in their bids, and I am sure that I will not be an exception.
Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing forwarded a copy of the latest Whitman Review, which features a number of upcoming books. Perhaps the most anticipated title is The Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins by Q. David Bowers. -Editor
George Fuld, numismatic author and researcher:
I think we finally have something that will replace Sylvester S. Crosby’s Early American Coins—in spades!
The coins and tokens of colonial America and the early United States present a unique chronicle of the birth of the United States. They bear witness to Paul Revere, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin. . . to distant European tyrants bent on empire, and cash-strapped merchants trying to make a living. If these historic coins could speak, they would tell of generations of hardworking, independent, and innovative Americans, both famous and obscure.
Collectors of these fascinating coins have never had a single, authoritative reference for guidance—until now. Q. David Bowers, the “Dean of American Numismatics”—drawing on the expertise of dozens of specialists from around the country—has written a book so comprehensive and authoritative that it redefines the genre. The Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins explores:
Bowers’s engaging text is supported by nearly 2,000 full-color photographs, “Easy Find Guides” for identifying varieties, extensive auction data, market values and commentary, historical price trends, rarities, a selected bibliography, and a comprehensive index with more than 700 entries.
Here’s what the experts are saying:
“Dave Bowers’s encyclopedic knowledge and devotion to American colonial and Confederation coinage are now transferred into a published encyclopedia for everyone to enjoy—so he can continue to write on even more topics.” —Eric P. Newman, numismatic researcher and author
“The Whitman Encyclopedia is a wonderful, and much needed, platform for encouraging the historical research of our colonial time period.” —Ray Williams, president, Colonial Coin Collectors Club
“Finally, after 200 years, those interested in early American coins have an up-to-date book on all known die varieties. Q. David Bowers has once again given the numismatic world a great gift.” —Richard August, state and Fugio die-variety specialist
“The Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins is very easy to read, while presenting a great deal of useful information. I especially like the finding guides included for the major series. Bowers’s discussion of the Massachusetts coppers is one of the best I have read.” —Louis E. Jordan III, Head of Special Collections and Medieval Institute Library, University of Notre Dame
“A reference such as this has been needed for a long time. None of the standard references of the past are satisfactory. The Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins is a welcome addition to the libraries of colonial specialists as well as the more general collector of American coins—and I can’t think of anyone better qualified than Q. David Bowers to accomplish this effort.” —Sydney Martin, Connecticut copper specialist, editor, Colonial Coin Collectors Club Newsletter
“Dave Bowers has written the book that collectors of colonial and early American coinage have waited 150 years to read—covering expert information with authority, yet written with such marvelous clarity that even novice collectors will find it indispensable.” —Joel J. Orosz, numismatic researcher and author
“What an incredible, immensely useful, and important book Dave Bowers has put together!” —Roger Siboni, president, American Numismatic Society
The 352-page ; 8.5 x 11 hardcover book is illustrated in Full color and retails for $49.95.
With permission from author Fred Holabird, the following excerpts are from his upcoming book, Collecting Guide to the Pioneer Minor Coinage of American Saloons -EditorThe idea for this collecting guide was born of the Holabird Americana pioneer minor coinage auctions that were so successful over the past two decades. Collectors constantly asked questions about rarity, availability and stories. The Collecting Guide is the result of these questions. It is intended to introduce saloon token collecting to all audiences, and make it fun in the process.
The text in this guide is markedly different from other works. Our goal was fun stories from each state. Along the way we realized that different states had different alcohol laws that directly relate to token rarity. We spent the better part of two and a half years acquiring and researching these wonderful coins. This book is the compilation of a massive effort on the part of the entire Holabird-Kagin Americana staff.
Saloons are as much a fixture of the American West as cowboys, Indians and six-shooters. Saloon tokens are some of the most sought-after tokens or coins by collectors today. They have existed for a millennia and once included many types of businesses such as coffee houses, restaurants, ice cream parlors, road houses, bars, taverns, billiard halls, and brothels.
This book primarily deals with the pioneer minor coinage associated with the pre-Prohibition saloon. Merchants used “tokens,” a form of money or pioneer minor coinage as both change and advertising. The majority of American saloon tokens got their start during the Civil War, primarily from coffee house-type saloons. In the west, the use of the saloon token took off in the 1870s and was in wide usage by the late 1890s.
From Roughing It! By Mark Twain:
In Nevada, for a time, the lawyer, the editor, the banker, the chief desperado, the chief gambler, and the saloon keeper occupied the same level of society, and it was the highest. The cheapest and easiest way to become an influential man and be looked up to by the community at large was to stand behind a bar, wear a cluster-diamond pin, and sell whiskey. I am not sure but that the saloonkeeper held a higher rank than any other member in society. His opinion had weight. It was a privilege to say how the elections should go. No great movement could succeed without the countenance and direction of the saloonkeeper.
One popular category for saloon token collecting is the pre-1900 group, though these are harder to find (and verify). Many pre-1900 saloons advertised their saloons through the use of billiard manufacturers, who provided tokens with the merchant names on the obverse and the billiard manufacturer on the reverse, usually with a picture or vignette of a pool table. Most of the pool and billiard tables were manufactured in Chicago. Die sinkers there made tokens for many of the table manufacturers, and some of these are thought to have had an office in San Francisco to help facilitate the western saloon and pool table/billiard business.
Web site visitor Errol Rojas writes:
I have been a coin collector all my life. In early 2002 I started collecting tokens. I wrote a book on Costa Rican coffee tokens.
Errol has a nice web site on the tokens. Here on some excerpts from the site and more information about his book. -EditorThis site is dedicated to the documentation of coffee tokens used throughout Costa Rica . Authors in Costa Rica and abroad have taken the time to document tokens in a small scale. Documentation was in the form of pictures or just textual descriptions. From these books and pamphlets we learn to appreciate and expand our knowledge of the hobby called exonumia, the collecting of tokens.
The hobby has grown so much that Costa Rican tokens are now being sold and traded almost daily throughout the world. There are auction houses in the United States selling Costa Rican tokens and these tokens are even being sold on eBay. There is a coin show in San Jose , Costa Rica once a month where registered members display their items for sale; a large part of that includes tokens.
The first of three token books will be dedicated solely to Café de Costa Rica tokens and their varieties. The second book will be about a particular Costa Rican farm and the tokens used and their individual meanings. The third book will be what I call a master catalog. In that catalog I will list as many tokens from Costa Rica as possible.
I will include tokens from Amusement Parks, Casinos, Shooting ranges, Parking Meters, counters, foreign currency used as tokens, lead tokens, brass tokens, copper tokens, plastic tokens, bakelite tokens, aluminum tokens and alloy tokens. Included will be paper chits used as tokens. Costa Rica offers many exiting areas for token collectors to focus their attention.
To visit Errol Rojas' Costa Rica tokens web site, see: www.costaricatokens.com
Uriah Cho of Zyrus Press forwarded the following release about the latest edition of Doug Winter's book on Charlotte Mint gold coins. -EditorDouglas Winter’s Gold Coins of the Charlotte Mint is a one-of-a-kind numismatic reference that is devoted solely and exclusively to Charlotte Mint gold coins struck from 1838 to 1861. Winter, who is regarded today as one of the leading industry experts in U.S. branch mint gold coins, has completely updated his book, implementing significant changes, additions and corrections to reflect shifting conditions in the market and newly discovered information.
High quality full color photos beautifully illustrate every coin and the newly improved die variety section now has outstanding close-up images of many important varieties. To bring the book up-to-date, similar layout designs to his previously released New Orleans and Dahlonega Mint books used in this current edition of the Charlotte Mint book make it easy to follow and more enjoyable to read.
All figures on population, rarity rankings, total values by grade and significant examples have been updated to reflect the latest market information available today, including a complete rarity summary chart at the end of each chapter.
For the historian, two chapters written about the history of the Charlotte Mint are included, and finally, Winter’s personal tips and strategies on how to collect C-mint gold coins guide the reader. Whether the collector is looking to buy one or two pieces or to complete a set, Winter’s suggestions offer an invaluable resource no matter what the budget or goal of the collector.
Jeff Ambio, author of the Strategy Guide series and a recognized numismatic expert, comments:
The Third Edition of Doug Winter's book Gold Coins of the Charlotte Mint is a masterpiece from an author who has already demonstrated his expertise on 19th century United States gold coinage on numerous occasions. This new edition is a much-needed improvement to Winter's earlier works on Charlotte Mint gold, with revised population data, rarity estimates, Condition Census information and die variety diagnostics. A definitive study that belongs in the library of all serious numismatic researchers and Southern gold experts.
Order this book today from bookstores nationwide, Amazon.com or your local coin shop. Also available from Zyrus Press: PO Box 17810, Irvine, CA 92623. Phone: (888) 622-7823. Web: Stay up-to-date! Visit www.zyruspress.com. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE BOOK BAZARRE
Ben Weiss of the Medal Collectors of America (MCA) forwarded this announcement of an exciting project the club is undertaking. -EditorThe Medal Collectors of America has posted on its website a new feature, Oral History of Medallic Art, based on interviews of prominent medal collectors, dealers, curators and other historians of medallic art. The interviews will be available for listening on our website at: www.medalcollectors.org
The ORAL HISTORY feature will be set up in a similar way as that which links to MEMBERS' CORNER currently on the site. By clicking on the ORAL HISTORY link, the viewer will get a new page with introductory remarks, a list of the interviewers, the medallic historian being interviewed and brief descriptions of the content of the interviews. If the interview is very long, it would likely be broken up into sections so the download time is reasonable. The link to these oral histories will be available on every page of the website. As of this date, two oral histories have been posted. Many more are forthcoming.
The Oral History of Medallic Art project is the result of a close collaboration between the MCA webmaster Ben Weiss and several other members of the MCA, notably, John Adams, John Sallay, and Bob Fritsch. Special thanks go to Mark Schlepphorst, who did most of the initial work in setting up the technical aspects of the project and who has so generously offered to do the very large job of editing the interviews before they are posted, and to Dick Johnson, who not only provided several useful suggestions concerning the interviews but who also serves as one of the interviewers for this project.
This novel project will constitute an important new addition to our body of knowledge of the History of Medallic Art. The Internet is uniquely suited for this venture for it allows rapid and readily accessible dissemination of this information. By posting the interviews on our website it will place the MCA at the forefront of documenting the early history of the field of Medallic Art and making it readily available for all to hear and view.
The MCA's John Sallay submitted the following background on the project. -EditorThe MCA Board has recently been meeting monthly via conference call, with much discussion focused on expanding our organization’s range of activities and more deeply involving a larger number of members. One idea that generated immediate support – and then took on new urgency with the recent passing of a few very prominent long-time collectors and medalists – was the MCA Oral History Project.
The idea is to interview “old-timers” in order to capture the knowledge they’ve never had time to write down and record their recollections of the people and events that got us collectively where we are today. The concept is as old as written history itself, but taking oral histories has become a much more widely used tool with the advent of tape recorders, film, and videotape.
Since the MCA is a geographically dispersed organization, however, there were some challenges. First, we wrestled with how to get one or more enthusiastic members to meet with interesting subjects on a more than one-off basis. We’re rarely together and when we are, like at the ANA Convention or an auction, there are always other things going on. We also discussed how best to capture and share the interviews, since we didn’t want to have either one person responsible for a single recording device or have to deal with multiple recording formats. Finally, we talked about what to do with all of these recordings, since the MCA doesn’t have a central library.
Dick Johnson, who is an expert in taking oral histories, introduced me to Mark Schlepphorst, a relatively newer MCA member whose professional activity has overlapped with our various technical challenges. Mark initially suggested buying a device similar to what police departments use to record 911 calls. We could conduct the interviews over the phone, record them in a digital format rather than on tape, edit the recordings, and then post them on our MCA website. That way, anyone could listen to them on his or her computer or even download them onto an iPod or similar device. At this point, MCA webmaster Ben Weiss got more deeply involved in the project, and we discussed how exactly the process would work from beginning to end, both technically and practically.
At the recent MCA meeting held during the Baltimore ANA, we outlined the project and mentioned the concept of buying the phone-recording gizmo, perhaps sending it around by mail to members who wanted to conduct interviews. Bob Fritsch raised a key idea that he had raised previously on one of the board calls, only this time it registered. Why not use just a web-based conference calling service that offers recording capability? While there would be per-minute toll charges to the MCA, we would save all of the up-front cost and wouldn’t need to hassle with any physical machinery. Any member with a phone, computer and the necessary dial-in code could simply conduct an interview and arrange with Ben to post the recording on the MCA website.
Mark explored a number of conference calling services and found one that seems like it will best suit our needs. Mark Schlepphorst has agreed to coordinate the project from here, with Mark and Ben Weiss involved in editing and Ben in posting the interviews. Dick Johnson has volunteered to summarize his experience in conducting these sorts of interviews and outline a standard approach for all of us to follow. He has also volunteered to conduct the first few interviews, to show us how it’s done.
Mike Marotta submitted the following thoughts on A Guide Book of Peace Dollars. -EditorAllow me to offer another view of A Guide Book of Peace Dollars by Roger Burdette. Wayne Homren’s comments (E-Sylum Volume 12, Number 02, January 11, 2009) suggested that “the book's title should be A Guide Book of United States Peace Dollars.” Generally, “The Official Red Book” series from Whitman does not include a national term unless it truly differentiates the subject: The Official Red Book®—A Guide Book of United States Coins and A Guide Book of US Type Coins are two examples. Peace Dollars, Gold Dollars, Shield & Liberty Nickels, Lincoln Cents, and many others stand on their own. In support of that, I would like to know if there is any other coin ever made that is also known as a “Peace Dollar.” (I would accept a vredensdaalder if you have one.)
I must confess and apologize to being happy to find my own article for The Numismatist cited in the bibliography of this book (“The Beautiful, Yet Affordable Peace Dollar,” Volume 111, Number 6, June 1995). My piece cited 18 works, many of them articles from The Numismatist from 1921 and 1922. Burdette chose different details for his history. In his, George Morgan masterfully recut the reverse hub. I followed Breen who accused Morgan of whacking the galvano with a board to lower the relief. My research found that both Zerbe and di Francisci were disappointed with the final product. That said, I enjoyed reading Burdette’s book more than re-reading my own feature. That leads to another confession and apology. I have read but a fraction of the book.
That fact underscores a deeper concern with reviews. Back in the mid-1980s, reading and writing product reviews for computer periodicals, it was obvious to me that time is the true test of quality. We rushed into print, scribblers in a 100-meter race, leaving the buyers to be the lonely, long-distance runners, discovering the bugs, traps and incompatibilities that we never found. So, too, with books. Academic journals occasionally publish reviews of classic works as they take on new meaning or display new faults decades and generations after their initial appearance. I believe that Burdette’s work will continue to be important. Therefore, like Wayne Homren, I look forward to the optional hardcover binding on the inevitable second edition.
Last week I got confused between the official Barack Obama Presidential Inaugural Medal and one of the nonselected designs. Joe Levine and Ron Thompson set me straight. Sorry! -Editor
Ron Thompson writes:
The article in January 19th E-Sylum on Obama Inaugural Medal Designer Daniel Altshuler said a team of sculptors was selected to design the Obama medal. A check of the official web site for inaugural memorabilia shows that it gives credit only to Mark Mellon.
I don't know of any issued inaugural medal that Daniel Altshuler designed. Perhaps the title should have been "Article Interviews Medal Designer Daniel Altshuler."
Indeed - Ron is correct. I should have known better, having published a piece about Mellon's design the previous week. Below are images of the two designers and their medals - Marc Mellon is on the left, Altshuler is on the right.
That was only one of my mistakes in the last issue - I noticed some typos yesterday. I'll blame the Pittsburgh Steelers for winning a great playoff game Sunday night, leaving me less time than usual to finalize and publish the issue. Go Steelers!
Also, my apologies to readers who don't get a timely reply to their submissions - lately these seem to be piling up in my inbox until late in the week. -Editor
Joe Levine adds:
The reverse of the official medal is by Thomas Rogers (not Marc Mellon) in spite of the inaugural committee website not giving Tom (designer of the Sacagawea dollar) credit for his design.
The Wikipedia entry for Paul Felix Armand-Delille, a French professor who accidentally killed 98% of the rabbits in Europe during the 1950s, says "Armand-Delille found himself both condemned by rabbit hunters and showered with praise by farmers and foresters. Prosecuted, in January 1955 he was convicted and fined 5000 francs; and honored, in June 1956 he was awarded a gold medal to commemorate his achievement by Bernard Dufay, honorary director-general of the French Department of Rivers and Forests. The medal depicts Armand-Delille on one side, and a dead rabbit on the other."
I was wondering if anyone has a picture of the medal - I couldn't locate one. Thanks.
To read the Wikipedia entry, see: Paul Felix Armand-Delille (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Armand_Delille)
Whitman Publishing is creating a "Vault" book similar in format to this one - Obama Vault Book - but focusing specifically on President Obama's inauguration. A Whitman "Vault" book includes replicas of tickets, programs, bumper stickers, posters, and other ephemera and memorabilia, tucked into its pages. If any E-Sylum readers have numismatic or exonumic souvenirs of the inauguration that they'd like to share for possible publication, please contact publisher Dennis Tucker at email@example.com or 404-235-5348.
Examples might include medals, tokens, scrip, or even commemorative Metro passes, phone cards, or similar --- I'll let the reader define "numismatic" and "exonumia"! Souvenirs from the days leading up to the inauguration (e.g., from the Inaugural Train trip) or following (e.g., from the inaugural balls and celebrations) are also welcome.
I like the concept of a "Vault" book, as long as the replicas are clearly identified as such, with markings difficult to remove without damage to the item. Today's replicas can be tomorrow's dealer and collector headaches.This month Whitman Publishing published an unforgettable portrait of Barack Obama's historic national campaign and his election as the 44th president of the United States. The Barack Obama Collector's Vault combines an engaging narrative with hundreds of photographs and --- tucked among its pages --- a treasure trove of memorabilia: souvenir replicas such as bumper stickers, posters, tickets, staff passes, and more. You can see the book here: Obama Vault Book
Here's the description of Whitman's first Vault book. -Editor
I am emailing you on behalf of a friend to determine what this item is. What he has is a carved, etched reverse of a Morgan Silver dollar on some sort of plaster or clay stone and it is considerably larger than the original coin. It appears to be a period piece and has damage to the image (it looks like someone was trying to destroy it by putting a slash through it.)
It is original and has the sculptors’ original measurement markings. It appears to be an galvano. Is there are market for items like these? Any assistance is greatly appreciated!
I wasn't quite sure what this item is, but it I told Steve it did not look anything like a galvano to me. I guessed the stone was once used in printing an image of the coin. I forwarded the images to Dick Johnson and he agree that it certainly isn't a galvano. But what is it?
Steve forwarded the following scan which shows more detail. Click here to view a larger version on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/coinbooks/3224454992/sizes/o/ . -Editor
Since the attached image was scanned and not photographed, you can explode to very close magnification to see the fine detail in the engraving relief and the ink/ paint work that was applied. The ink lines had to be applied by hand as the ink would have filled the small cracks of the relief if it had been put on by a brush.
When you look closely at the talon, head and wing areas of the eagle, you can see the great attention someone took to detail to even the smallest points of the engraving and to the design. I would think that this was not done by someone just wanting to use it as a picture of sorts, but someone who was trying to show what the conceptual design would look like down to the finest detail.
The engravers layout marks in the corners for size. The design is exactly 6 inches in diameter measured from the outer most ink circle. An actual Morgan dollar is 1.5 inches across so this would make the design exactly a 4:1 ratio of the coin.
The entire piece measures approximately 6 and 3/8 inches wide by approx. over 8 1/2 inches tall. It is over 2 inches thick and weighs approximately 3-5 lbs (or more as it has never been weighed yet)
The indentation mark at the south right corner is a thumbprint in the medium. There are finger impressions (not shown) all along the top edge of the piece. It is if someone pressed (or poured?) in into a mold then pulled it out of the mold then applying the ink medium over the engraving.
Steve also forwarded images to other numismatists, including Julian Leidman. Julian writes:
My feeling is that it is part of the mint process. I forwarded the image to Michael Fey, and he thought that it looked OK as well. One of the reasons that I think it is OK is because it is an 8 tail feather reverse. Michael said almost the same thing, except he referred to the parallel arrows. The only way to get an accurate value is to auction it and I told him that I would be happy to represent the owner in getting it properly placed.
If Julian and Morgan Dollar expert Michael Fey think this item could have a connection to Morgan's dollar design, then Steve's friend may have something of value. If not, it's just an interesting door stop or boat anchor. But I agree with Julian that a public auction is the only way to determine the true value of an unusual item such as this.
So - are any of our readers familiar with the tools and processes used by coin designers in the 1870s? Is such a design on stone a typical part of the process? For more information about this piece, Steve can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org . -Editor
I saw your article about my 2008 Hard Times Tokens. Thanks, I enjoyed reading it.
I just wanted to point out that it also has edge lettering which can be hard to see. At the top on the edge it says "Don't Borrow Money". At the bottom on the edge it says "Don't Pay Interest".
Dick Johnson submitted this follow-up to his item last week about a Reader's Digest article on Abraham Lincoln and the Lincoln cent -Editor
Last week I mentioned the Lincoln article in the Reader's Digest. I just learned you can read this article on the web, complete with the 5-question quiz (but without the illustration of Abe and the two Lincoln cents balancing on a tight rope -- for that you will have to buy the magazine). Read it free at: Abraham Lincoln Turns 200 (www.rd.com/your-america-inspiring-people-and-stories/
So who can supply a short history of the Society of Bearded Numismatists? I remember attending their "meetings" at the ANA conventions in the early 80's. At each meeting, someone was selected (I think by Jack Veffer and Grover Criswell) to be the new SOB of the year and received one of Dora's beautiful medals.
In general they were deserving individuals and I remember thinking I would love to have one of the medals, even at the cost of being selected to be "SOB of the Year". (Of course I was never close to being in the running.) The parties were generally in good fun and with a surfeit of liquid libation.
Denis Loring writes:
I was and still am an S.O.B. numismatist, holding the rank of stochastic actuary (I'm an actuary, "stochastic" refers to a random process, and I'm as random as the next guy). I was never named S.O.B. of the year, though, and thus never was awarded the medal.
Tom DeLorey writes:
I have the high honor and privilege to have received the "S.O.B. Of The Year" award in 1981, and wore it to every ANA convention that I attended after that. My good friend David T. Alexander has one, and my former fellow authenticator at ANACS, Ingrid Smith, has one of the very limited number (two?) made in silver!
Royal Canadian Numismatic Association life member Richard Becker writes:
I was so pleased to see your recognition of the RCNA article about Dora DePedery-Hunt. I was especially interested in the illustration and commentary about the S.O.B. medal. Yes, I am a proud member of the SOB fraternity.
Jack, I and our wives had been friends for some years since I had served under him as a CNA executive representing the Eastern USA. Although the SOB's were originally to be all bearded, I came on board just because Jack and my wife both agreed that I was a true S O B, and thus eligible. Although clean shaved, I became a member when, unknown to me, my wife gave Jack a generous donation (called bribery) and had me initiated as a full time, medal wearing member at an annual CNA convention. Those were fun years. I still proudly wear my medal whenever I am fortunate enough to be able to attend the annual RCNA conventions.
Joe Boling writes:
Non-bearded numismatists could join the Society of Bearded Numismatists by paying a surcharge on the entrance fee. As I recall, dues were $100 one time, payable to the C Douglas Ferguson Foundation in Canada. I don't remember what the surcharge was.
I joined (beardless, per Army policy) about 1980 or 81. Each member took a title- Mine was Shogun. I remember Denis Loring was Stochastic Actuary and Ingrid Smith was Beard Inspector. Veffer and Criswell were each Half-President for Life (and may have had other titles as well).
The society's uniform was a yellow t-shirt decorated with one's title. The de Pedery-Hunt badge was not obtained by joining. One badge was given each year to whomever the current holders thought deserved to receive it. I believe I received the last one awarded, at Atlanta in 1987. Most are bronze, as illustrated in The E-Sylum. At least three were silver - Grover's, Jacks' and Yasha Beresiner's. The society faded away about the time the last badge was presented.
How can you not love an organization with a sense of humor? Long live the S.O.B.s! Maybe we could organize our own little club for E-Sylum readers. What would the name and logo be? Dick Johnson once suggested e-luminaries. How about the Society of Readers of the E-Sylum (SOREheads)? -Editor
Regarding Pisanello's impresa, I think that here are much better analogs to trademarks, and they predate imprese: such are the merchants marks of Northern Europe, and of course coats of arms everywhere in Western Europe. Since the 14th c. goldsmiths and silversmiths were required by the statutes of their guilds to put their makers' marks on their works.
Mint marks for individual mint-masters, which appear roughly at the same time, are similar. Arguably their purpose was different. But the concept of trademark was more general, including its legal aspect.
The great jurist Bartolo, in his tract "de insignis et armis" (unfinished at his death in 1357), gives several examples of trademarks, such as the watermarks of paper-makers or marks of sword-makers, and explains why they ought to be considered as protected by law against counterfeiting, even discussing who owns the trademark when a partnership is dissolved. Going farther back, one finds trademarks imprinted on Roman bricks and amphorae by their producers.
Bob Leonard adds:
Dick Johnson says that the trademark symbol is a T in a small circle. In fact, it is a small TM, or -- for registered trademarks, an R in a small circle ®.
THE BOOK BAZARRE
Regarding Dick Johnson's call for the American Numismatic association to go back to the Lamp of Knowledge logo, I call the readers' attentions to the ANA press release on this subject, distributed 18 June 2008.
The American Numismatic Association Board of Governors has voted unanimously to acknowledge that the "Lamp of Knowledge" is and remains the official seal of the Association.
The vote, taken during a conference call on June 2, authorizes the use of the Lamp of Knowledge on certificates, awards, the ANA Federal Charter, Bylaws and Code of Ethics documents. The ANA will continue its use of the current ANA logo for marketing purposes until a new logo is selected by the membership and confirmed by the Board.
The current logo, created around the Peace Dollar, has been in use since 2003. ANA President Barry Stuppler, who has championed the creation of a new logo, announced plans last winter to ask five accomplished medallic artists to develop designs for a new logo. Those designs, which were submitted in April, were to be displayed on the ANA website and published in The Numismatist. Members would then vote on their favorite designs.
"We received some beautiful artwork," Stuppler said. "However, the designs we received would be difficult to use in a variety of ways as required for a logo. As a result, we have decided to seek additional input from artists from a variety of disciplines."
Stuppler said that once artists have been identified and additional submissions received, the membership would be asked to provide input.
"We want to be sure that we make the right decision in selecting a logo for this Association and that the voices of our membership are heard," Stuppler said.
Stuppler emphasized that no operating funds will be utilized to develop or implement a new logo. "We will need to raise about $62,000, and no new logo will be implemented until those funds are in hand." He added that the fundraising effort has been seeded with a $2,000 anonymous donation.
Stuppler said the decision to use the Lamp of Knowledge as the official seal recognizes the desire of many members to utilize the time-honored symbol. "It's an important icon to so many of our members," he said. "I think that placing the old logo on official medals, awards and documents is a vital step in responding to the wishes of the membership."
E-Sylum regular Mike Ellis submitted the following announcement of his intention to run for a seat on the American Numismatic Association Board of Governors. Many of the current board members are also E-Sylum regulars, and they've done a great job of getting the organization back on track. -EditorA year and a half ago the ANA membership resoundingly rejected the previous Board of Governors by voting in all new members of the Board. This new board has done a tremendous job of turning the ANA around, heading back in the right direction. Now here it is election time again and this election is every bit as crucial as the last one. Several of the current Board members will not be on the next Board for various reasons. That being said, we must elect a new board that will build upon what the current board has accomplished.
We need a Board that keeps the membership and numismatic community in the highest regard. Board members must be willing to work hard to get finances further under control. They must also keep the line of communication open with the membership while keeping the membership happy and excited about belonging to the ANA. In doing my part I am pleased to announce I am running for a position on the ANA Board of Governors.
Having become a collector in 1968, I come with over 20 years experience as a professional numismatist and numismatic educator in addition to 20 more years as a collector. I served 12 years as a board member and officer of CONECA; a total of six terms with the last eight years and 4 terms as President of the organization. I have been an instructor for ANA Summer Seminars since 1996 (teaching Beginning Grading during week two this year), have given several Numismatic Theater presentations at ANA Anniversary Conventions including one for the NBS in Orlando and have made many educational appearances at other shows and club meetings across the country. I have shared vital ANA information with E-sylum readers several times in the past, some of it revelations first published here that became huge news in the numismatic community.
Of special interest to the NBS members and E-Sylum readers, you will be happy to note that I am a very strong advocate of numismatic publications and have caused many numismatic references to get published and continue to do so today. I consider the program to afford would-be authors to get published while at CONECA to be one of my greatest numismatic accomplishments. Without it many excellent attribution guides would not have been published.
I have contributed in various ways to dozens of numismatic references; served as editor of Errorscope, the award winning, official publication of CONECA, Cherrypickers’ News, and The Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties: 4th Edition, Volume I for which I received an NLG award. I have also authored numerous articles in various numismatic publications and have been a columnist for several, including Numismatic News Errorscope and Cherrypickers’ News. I am a huge supporter of “getting it published for public consumption” and “sharing the knowledge.”
I first became a consultant to ICG in 1998 serving in that capacity until April of 2006 when I became a full time grader with ANACS moving to ICG in January of 2008 when ANACS was sold and am currently the Senior Grader and Variety Specialist for Dominion Grading Service (DGS) of Virginia Beach, Virginia where I continue to write numismatic articles.
For my efforts on behalf of collectors and dealers I have been awarded the ANA’s “Glenn Smedly Award” and CONECA’s highest honor, the “Dr. Lyndon King Award.”
If there are any questions I can answer, any actions I can take, or you want to assist in a greater way, do not hesitate to email me at email@example.com or call me at 512-944-4784. I very much appreciate your support, and together we can help further the mending and improving of the ANA.
I just read Jared Dawber’s comment on First Man in Rome in the latest E-Sylum – actually McCullough is right – the first appearance of the sestertius as a coin was in silver and it was quite small – valued at 2.5 asses or 1/2 a quinarius or 1/4 denarius. The coins were only issued from 211 – 206 BC.
The brass sestertius that Jared refers to and that most of us are familiar with was not introduced until the time of Augustus (around 18 BC). So for the time period which the First Man in Rome discusses, McCullough is perfectly correct – in fact I am very surprised and impressed that she caught a numismatic detail that most numismatists, even those who collect Roman coins, would miss. Yet another reason why the First Man in Rome series is one of my favorite historical novels!"
Rick Witschonke writes:
Mudd is correct that the Roman silver sestertius was first struck c. 211-206 BC. However, it was not "only" issued during that period. It was revived in 91-85 BC by 2 or possibly 3 moneyers. It then disappeared for another 40 years, but was again revived during the period 48-44 BC (the period of McCullough's book), and struck by 12 moneyers. All of these sestertii are scarce or rare, so they were probably not economically significant, but during the Republic and early Empire, the sestertius was widely used for designating sums of money. The sestertius finally became a bronze coin c.38 BC, as part of Antony's fleet coinage.
Bob Leonard adds:
Douglas Mudd is mistaken that silver sestertii were only issued from 211-206 B.C. See H. A. Seaby, Roman Silver Coins, Vol. I, The Republic to Augustus. Silver sestertii are listed on pp. 3, 7, 12 (44 B.C.), 15 (46 B.C.), 25 (90-89 B.C.), and many other pages.
Michael E. Marotta submitted the following concerns about evaluating money across time. -EditorLarge Hoard of Gold Staters Uncovered in Suffolk, England (The E-Sylum v12#03, January 18, 2009) included this line about the 824 gold “staters”:
“Ms Plouviez said their value when in circulation had been estimated at a modern equivalent of between £500,000 and £1m, but they were likely to be worth less than that now."
Such statements are meaningless without context. These 824 staters weighed 5 grams each, totaling 4120 grams or 132.5 ounces or about $125,000 at today's volatile range for gold. If gold has constant value over time, then that figure has some validity. However, no amount of Iron Age gold would have bought an Iron Age iPod, so we need another view.
We know that the Roman aureus of about this same time weighed 8 grams and was worth 25 denarii. So, these Britannic "staters" were worth about 15 1/2 denarii each. We know from ancient documents such as Biblical citations from the New Testament that a worker in the fields earned a denarius a day. As the average factory wage in America today is about $100 per day, this translates to $1,287,500.
However, we know from other records that a secretary earned 15 denarii per month and a legionary private 20. (See http://www.ancientcoins.biz/pages/economy based on their bibliography citing Duncan-Jones The Economy of the Roman Empire and Harl Coinage in the Roman Empire). So each stater would have bought 3 weeks for a soldier or 1 month for a secretary.
Assuming that a modern clerical worker earns more than an average laborer at $40,000 per year, the 824 coins represent about $2,750,000. However, unlike the Roman trooper who earned more, our US Army privates only start at less than half the pay of a secretary, at $16,000 per year. Again, however, the modern army is a different contract than the ancient.
Finally, most of this is moot because the folk of ancient Britain were not a wage economy. These coins were then what they are now: a treasure hoard; static wealth; not earned (or earnable) income; certainly not an investment with a discountable risk. As such, oddly enough, they actually had zero value back then.
Dick Johnson submitted the following thoughts on an article published this week in theIrish Times. The article is accompanied by an interesting photo of coin-inspired art - a portrait of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown made from pennies. -EditorA recent article in the Irish Times repeats a story originally published in the New York Times of one of Ireland's wealthiest landowners, Sean Dunne, stooping over to pick a penny off the floor in a pub.
“I am never, never too proud to pick a penny up from the floor,” Dunne is quoted as saying. “I know the value of money.”
But, really, what is the value of a penny? Andrew Parsons writes "An Irishman's Diary" for Reuters. In his recent column he comments on Europeans' low esteem of the penny:
"This view is shared by many around the world, and efforts to remove small-value coins from circulation are gathering momentum. Pennies are expensive and inconvenient, say their opponents, and aren’t worth the metal they are minted with."
He relates how Australia and New Zealand have dropped all coins less than 5 cents and that Finland opted out of having one and two-cent coins minted when they switched to the euro in 2002. [Two weeks ago I reported in The E-Sylum where Italian merchants are refusing to accept low value coins.]
"Anti-penny sentiment," states Parsons, "is on the rise among Europeans. A recent Eurobarometer poll showed a majority in favor of ditching 1 and 2 cent coins completely. Abolitionism was strongest in Belgium, where efforts have begun to have the coins withdrawn."
He gives further evidence for a nickel coin. (And relates how Joseph Wharton, who owned America's only nickel mine, talked U.S. Congress into converting to a nickel 5-cent coin in 1865. Wharton became wealthy and founded the Wharton School of Business.)
"Consider the benefits of abolition. The Government would save the cost of manufacturing and distribution. Since so many of them end up in vacuum cleaners or down the side of sofas and have to be replaced, 1, 2 and 5 cents account for 80 percent of the euro coins produced." This article is well worth reading: An Irishman's Diary (www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/0115/1231738223519.html)
Last week I wondered who is supplying security paper for printing Zimbabwe's banknotes. Last year a German firm was shamed into pulling out, but it was never revealed who the "Plan B" supplier was. E-Sylum reader Bob Leuver, former head of the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing (and Executive Director of the American Numisamtic Association) forwarded these thoughts. -EditorI have been intrigued about who might be printing the notes and how they are being paid for.
The latter question has a simple answer. If you are printing notes in the trillions, just slip one from the top of the stack and satisfy your debt. OK, even with the high inflation, Zimbabwe must have some assets abroad that only they know about. It could be gold stored in the Federal Reserve vault in New York, gold stored with an American smelter (Englehardt comes to mind), or with some foreign country such as Russia or Iran.
Who is the printer? If I, or one of our savants of banknotes, could get hold of a note we could determine whether they are printed locally or by a security printer. If a security printer, then it will be more difficult to determine the source unless one is especially conversant with the style of noted engravers or the engraving style of government or private security printers.
Collectors (researchers and authors) such as Gene Hessler might be able to discern the engraving style.
However, with the correct incentive, there are many security printers that could print currency undetected and whose financial records are not open to scrutiny. Again, Iran comes to mind.
Granvyl Hulse adds:
I think that a $100 trillion Zimbabwe banknote would be quite a collector's item. Do you know of anyone selling them?
Well, I wouldn't be surprised to see these notes turn up in the numismatic market, but don't know of anyone selling them today. -Editor
This week the Hartford Advocate published a very nice article on money and money art. Here are some excerps, but be sure to read the whole piece at the newspaper's web site. -EditorIn 1936, Henry Miller published a pamphlet called "Money and How It Gets That Way." It is not one of the works for which he is best remembered, partly because it's written in an academic style that can only be dubbed "counterfeit Henry." But Miller did succeed in his goal, which was not to settle the problem of money but to "unsettle" it. At the time of the pamphlet's publication, the world was mired in the Great Depression.
The article discusses the nature of money and includes a segment about money artist J.S.G. Boggs, then focuses on another artist using a money theme. -Editor
Boggs' conceptual exercise might seem a bit esoteric to some, but the point he was making was the same one Miller made in his pamphlet: to unsettle people about their relationship to money. In short, the real world went through exactly the sort of existential dilemma that Boggs was positing in the fantasy world of his artistry. His ultimate goal was to force "collectors" to ask themselves: Is art worth bunches of little green pieces of paper, or does art have a value beyond that?
For the people who could afford Boggs' own artwork, the answer was clear: It's an investment and a status symbol. So, what is money? Or for that matter, what is art?
Closer to home we have Michael Theise, a prodigiously talented artist in Wallingford, who paints — among other things — currency, stock certificates, Wall Street Journals, and Monopoly boards. The graduate of Paier College of Art in Hamden has, at age 50, become one of America's foremost tromp l'oeil painters — his renderings of reality so precise and tantalizing they are said to "fool the eye." You really feel as if you can peel the dollar bills off of his canvases.
"Often after a showing of my work, I find little scratches on the surface of the painting where people have actually tried to peel the bills off," says Theise, whose work was until recently on display at the New Britain Museum of American Art's New/Now gallery, and is sold at the Cooley Gallery in Old Lyme and the Vose Gallery in Boston.
"I started doing the currency to make people stop in their tracks and look at the paintings. They were breezing past my other tromp l'oeil paintings, thinking they were collages, and only stopping at the pictures of money. Money is instantly recognizable and any viewer can tell if the likeness is right or wrong."
Rather than, like Boggs, making some esoteric statement about the value of art and money, Theise simply finds currency aesthetically pleasing. To him, in its way, a 5-dollar bill or a 10-pound note is a small work of art.
"Not only are the bills works of art, they are also a history lesson," says Theise. "You learn what cultures value by what they put on their bills."
Theise is also well aware of the trompe l'oeil tradition in America, dating back to 19th-century masters like William Harnett and John Haberle and including 20th-century painters like Boggs and Otis Kaye; the latter Theise considers one of the most underappreciated artists of his time.
"There's definitely an established history of painting money in America. Some artists got in trouble, some flaunted it. I'm not trying to fool anyone. I want people to realize that these are paintings of money."
To read the complete article, see: The Root of All Evil: Money and how it got that way (http://www.hartfordadvocate.com/article.cfm?aid=11397)
The editorial page from the UK's Coin News describes the finding of an undated mule 20 pence coin - created by matching an old style 2008 obverse with a new style 2008 reverse. In theory this should be the only possible undated mule as the 20 pence was the only coin in the redesigned set to have moved the date from one side to the other.
However, there is still the possibly of dated mules appearing as all "old style" coins had a beaded obverse and the new coins have an unbeaded obverse. It seems probable that all denominations have been struck in both old and new styles so it gives collectors a lot more to look out for.
Philip attached an image of the editorial page. Modern mint errors represent an interesting challenge for collectors, since important and valuable pieces can sometimes be found in circulation or over the counter at banks. The editorial rightfully states that the true value of these errors in the marketplace will only become clear over time. It's an interesting mistake regardless. -Editor
Dick Johnson submitted this item about the return of a stolen 1,000 year old penny. -EditorThe Malmesbury Abbey in England has an 1042 Edward The Confessor silver penny back in its possession. It was stolen last June but police learned of the man who stole it from an anonymous tip from someone who heard the thief bragging he took it. At the Abbey they learned the thief leaned on the case where it had been displayed creating a half-inch opening, enough to withdraw the coin.
The medals included in this article fall into different categories: some are obviously designed to propagandize their point, while others more subtly promote, and by inference denigrate, one religion over another, or indeed suggest the superiority of any religious practice over non-religious or secular practices.
The subtle ones sometimes are more effective, and therefore more dangerous, as the observer is not as likely to be aware of how he/she is being manipulated to support the views of the artist. Another category of medals shown here do not promote religious bigotry directly, if at all, but rather are included in this article to illustrate and amplify further the history of the period discussed, particularly as it involves conflicts and wars based on religious differences between the parties involved.
ANTI-SEMITIC MEDALS: While prejudice among the various religious groups exists among them all to varying degrees, over the ages bigoted acts against the Jews have been among the most prevalent, severe, and unrelenting. History has shown that Jews, while welcomed in times of need, often were maligned, periodically expelled from their native lands, and sometimes even subjected to mass murder. Some of this bigotry is reflected in the issuance of medals purposefully designed to vilify the Jewish community.
Anti-Semitic medals are probably the most common and most notorious medals for spreading religious hatred, a topic that has been considered in some detail by Daniel Friedenberg in his book Jewish Medals: From the Renaissance to the Fall of Napoleon (1503-1815).