Volume 12, Number 26, June 28, 2009
This week we open with updates from three numismatic literature dealers on two continents. Next, it's Ben and Ben (Keele and Weiss) on digital numismatic literature and a new medal exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Other topics include a profiles of Victor David Brenner and our newest subscriber, more on vocabulary words, U.S. coin denominations and Teutenberg medals. Still other topics cover the Wizard of Oz parable, S. M. Clark's collection of fractional currency specimens, and creative uses for Zimbabwe banknotes. Please don't flush them down the toilet!
To learn about the numismatic work of artists Ilze Libiete and Viktoras Barnauskas, read on. Have a great week, everyone!
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
Numismatic literature dealer Douglas Saville has expanded his stock with a new library purchase. He submitted the following update together with a nice photo of a portion of his stock shelves. I was fortune to visit with Douglas at his office a few times during my stint in London - his office is a bibliophile's delight! -EditorI recently purchased a large numismatic library from an old client of mine. I have yet to list much of it on my website although a few new items have been listed in the past week or so. I now have around 1000 books listed for sale at fixed prices on my website.
The latest acquisition will take some time for me to put up onto my site - meanwhile if any reader has any specific "want" I would ask them to email me "desiderata". I regret to say that there are no items relating to American numismatics.
In the main the library includes books relating to many aspects of Ancients, European, British, and world coinages. I have many individual volumes of the Numismatic Chronicle from 1877 to date, but there are few complete runs of the Series.
My website: www.douglassaville.com Email address: email@example.com
Fred Lake forwarded the following update on his latest auction. -EditorThe 99th mail-bid sale of numismatic literature from Lake Books is now available for viewing on our web site at www.lakebooks.com/current.html .
The sale is Part Two of selections from the library of Valerie Renee Nickles and features many books that appear in Len Augsburger's compilation of "The 100 Greatest Numismatic Books". The sale contains 403 lots and closes on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 5:00 PM (EDT). Bids may be placed via email, fax, telephone or US Mail until that time.
6822 22nd Ave N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33710
(727) 343-8055 FAX:(727) 345-3750
David Sklow forwarded the following press release. -EditorWe are excited to announce the consignment by renowned author and numismatist, "The Master of Wolfeboro" Q. David Bowers, of his extensive libraries of source material: to include, limited edition works; The California Gold rush 1848-1850's; Comprehensive library of Civil War history; library of American Maritime history, Pirates, Treasure hunting, the era of Sailing and Steam Ships; vast runs and individual copies of historical reference materials, studies, dictionaries, encyclopedias, collected papers and much more; in addition, many works on numismatics, including limited editions, papers, periodicals, journals.
The sale of this vast collection (numbering in the thousands of volumes) will take place in multiple parts; Part I-February 2010; Part II-June 2010 and Part III-October 2010; all volumes will bear the special small format bookplate of the Q. David Bowers research Library.
Imagine, the library used by the most prolific numismatic writer of the past fifty years! Be sure not to miss this opportunity to own a piece of numismatic history from the library of a numismatic legend! Catalogs are sent upon request.
The Q. David Bowers library sales will occupy approximately 50% of each catalog.
Contact: David Sklow-Fine Numismatic Books
P.O. Box 6321
Colorado Springs, CO 80934
FAX (719) 302-4933
THE BOOK BAZARRE
Partly due to the discussion about digital numismatic works in The E-Sylum, I have written up an essay discussing digital preservation issues for The Asylum. However, since the deadline for the next issue is a couple months off, I have decided to post my draft online. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions, comments or questions.
Toward Digital Numismatic Literature
Despite numerous prognostications, the book is not dead. However, the range of forms numismatic literature can take has certainly expanded. Knowledge that once could only be easily transmitted in paper books or journals is now embodied (to use the term loosely) in digital texts, datasets, and audio and video recordings. The increasing volume of numismatic information produced, both hardcopy and digital, raises important questions about how we can preservation this material and pass it on to future generations of enthusiasts and scholars.
Unlike paper books, storing digital files on sturdy shelves in a cool, dark room is not going to do the trick. My aim here is to continue and expand upon the numismatic community’s conversation about the implications of digital publishing for the hobby, particularly those relating to how the community can responsibly maintain long-term and sustainable access to numismatic literature. Some aspects of this question are quite technical, such as archival file format standards, digital media degradation, and file authentication. These are important, to be sure, but I think solutions will be devised once we clarify and reach some agreement on social and policy questions, two of which I will discuss: why is digital preservation important and who should be responsible for it?
The point is that if we do not take sufficient precautions, numismatists twenty, fifty, or one hundred years from now will have significant problems accessing the digital materials we are now producing. While it is true that not every file must be preserved forever, surely some material is worth keeping. Copies of electronic newsletters, like the E-Sylum and other club publications, could be used to show how the hobby adapted to the emergence of the Internet, not to mention contents that were not published elsewhere.
Digital copies of printed books would prevent tomes with small print runs from falling into obscurity. With digital versions of catalogs like the Redbook and Standard Catalog of World Coins, scholars could use computers to trace market patterns and combine information into every more complete and accurate databases. If one wants to research the activities of famous dealers of the early twentieth-century, one looks to print advertisements, price lists, and paper correspondence. Researchers of the future will want to look at websites and email. The potential benefit digital research can offer to numismatists is great, but we limit that potential if we do not keep the basic resources.
These are only a couple excerpts - to read the complete draft see the link below. -Editor
To read the complete draft, see: Toward Digital Numismatic Scholarship Preprint (http://www.scribd.com/doc/16729272/Toward-Digital
Ben Weiss of the Medal Collectors of America has loaned a number of medals from his collection to a Philadelphia museum. Congrataulations. He forwarded the following information and images. -EditorA group of medals from the Collection of Benjamin Weiss has been put on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The display consists of 16th and 17th century medals from Italy, France, Germany and The Netherlands. The medals may be found in the Gallery of Early European Art.
The display is a part of Ben's larger collection of Historical and Commemorative Medals.
For more information on Ben's collection, see: HISTORICAL AND COMMEMORATIVE MEDALS (www.historicalartmedals.com)
The Explorator newsletter published a link to a wonderful BBC audio slideshow highlighting a new British Museum exhibit on satirical medals titled Medals of Dishonour. Check it out! -Editor
Not all medals are cast to celebrate glory and heroism. There is a darker tradition of creating medals for moments of dishonour.
The British Museum is hosting an exhibition that looks at how this less well-known tradition has developed over the past 400 years - and also features special commissions from current artists.
Evan Davis was shown around by the co-curators, Philip Attwood and Felicity Powell.
To view the slide show, see: Audio slideshow: Medals of Dishonour (news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8117000/8117408.stm)
A New England newspaper published an article this week profiling Lincoln Cent designer Victor David Brenner. Brenner once had a studio in Ogunquit, ME. The article mentions Brenner's first sculptural work in the round, the Song to Nature fountain in Pittsburgh.The obstacles sculptor and medalist, Victor David Brenner, had to overcome to see his design for the Lincoln penny — finally minted in 1909 — were minor compared to challenges he faced in his native Lithuania before emigrating to America.
Coincidentally, just before discovering this article I was corresponding with Dick Johnson about Brenner works in Pittsburgh and dug out images for him. Included below is an image of the fountain, a magnificent sculpture. -Editor
Near the end of his career, Clara Whiteside, wife of well known artist Frank Reed Whiteside, interviewed Victor Brenner at his Ogunquit studio overlooking Perkins Cove.
He had been born Viktoras Barnauskas in Shavli, Lithuania, in 1871. At the age of 13 he began an apprenticeship in his father's metal shop and quickly displayed a precocious gift for engraving. At the tender age of 16 he went into business for himself.
Victor arrived in New York in 1890 with no knowledge of the English language, but his superior engraving skills quickly earned him a comfortable living. After eight years, he felt creatively unsatisfied by the work. "I gave in to the discontent that was troubling me — threw up my work and sailed for Paris," he told Clara. There he studied with accomplished medalist, Louis Oscar Roty, and entered Academie Julian. Upon his return to New York, his artistic talents were recognized by well-placed numismatists who encouraged his concentration on commemorative medals.
Brenner's proposed design for the Panama Canal service medal was selected by President Theodore Roosevelt, whose flattering likeness was to be depicted thereon. While the President posed for the artist, the two men developed a comfortable rapport, so much so that Victor felt within the bounds of propriety to suggest that the Indian head on the United States penny be replaced by his sculpture of President Abraham Lincoln.
Roosevelt was persuaded, much to the chagrin of the Chief Engraver at the U.S. Mint, Charles E. Barber, who tried every unctuous trick in the book to discredit Brenner and the quality of his work. Nonetheless, a Victor David Brenner design for the new coin was finally approved by the President and the Secretary of the Treasury.
Victor David Brenner's initials were re-introduced on the front of the Lincoln penny in 1918 just after Charles E. Barber retired from the U.S. Mint.
During the same year what could arguably be described as Brenner's masterwork — the Mary Schenley Memorial Fountain, also known as A Song to Nature — was unveiled at the entrance to Schenley Park in Pittsburgh, Pa. The magnificent 30-foot public sculpture in bronze and granite portrays a reclining Pan being serenaded by a graceful female companion. Carla Whiteside's enlightening article was widely published in 1920, but it did not reveal the circumstances that led to Brenner's departure from the motherland. Numismatic expert, David W. Lange, uncovered the particulars in his 2005 book, "The Complete Guide to Lincoln Cents."
Victoras Barnauskas' work so exceeded that of his rival engravers in Lithuania that they resented the number of commissions the teenager took from them. He was accused of counterfeiting. The police, frustrated in trying to obtain evidence of the crime that had never occurred, came into his shop and asked him to duplicate an official seal. Unaware that it was illegal to do so, young Viktor made a perfect copy and was thrown into jail. With the help of some friends he managed to escape and fled to the United States.
To read the complete article, see: The Lincoln penny designed by Ogunquit artist (www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20090625-LIFE-906250372)
No, not Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery, but our newest subscriber may already be known to many of you for posts on various forums with images and information on new coin issues from around the world, a niche known as "ultra modern numismatics".
One of the coins posted recently is the Falkland Islands Crown commemorating the Charles Darwin bicentenary (pictured below).
P K Saha writes:
I am an amateur numismatist with an interest in ultra modern numismatics. This is a branch which deals with coins before they are issued to the moment they get cataloged (or assigned KM# by the Krause Standard Catalog of World Coins).
Since I collect this information, I find it little more work to help my friends with similar interests, so I give this information to the COINS list and some others too, like www.worldcoinnews.blogspot.com etc.
I am approved contributor to SCWC 2001- till date. And despite my .uk email address, I do not live in the UK - I live in India.
Welcome to The E-Sylum, and many thanks for your efforts. The modern numismatist's work is never done - new issues appear almost daily from all corners of the globe. It's a great challenge to keep track of them all. -Editor
Another interesting coin the P K Saha discovered this week is the new 1-lat coin from Latvia. -EditorA new 1-lat coin depicting the traditional Namejs ring (Nameja gredzens), often viewed as a symbol of one’s ethnicty, has been put into circulation by the Bank of Latvia.
The coin, made of a copper-nickel alloy, is part of a series of 1-lat coins that have depicted various signs, images and events important to Latvian culture.
The braided ring depicted on the reverse of the new coin is a design that goes back centuries, according to a June 8 press release from the Bank of Latvia.
“This type of ring was named after the Semigallian chieftain Namejs only in the 1930s when two such rings were found in the Daugmale castle mound and they became favorites for replication and wearing,” according to the press release.
Today, the ring “has come to signify that the wearer has some relationship to Latvia: even if he or she belongs to a different nation, it is evidence that they have some connection with the Latvian land or culture,” according to the press release.
The obverse of the coin displays the coat of arms of Latvia.
The coin was designed by Ilze Libiete and the plaster model was made by Baiba Sime, both of whom are marking their debut in coin design. The coin was minted by Staatliche Münze Berlin in Germany.
A total of 1 million of the new coins were minted, according to the Bank of Latvia.
To read the original article, see: New 1-lat coin features Namejs ring (http://latviansonline.com/news/article/5633/)
I, for one, would love to learn more about Foskett. I've been compiling biographical files for the ANS on all of its former officers and while I've had a good bit of success, Foskett has eluded me.
His contributions to the ANS Library are actually a good bit less than one might guess. Although he technically was Librarian from 1858 through 1864, after 1860 the ANS did not meet again until 1864. And when they did regroup early in 1864, Foskett was a no-show. The first person to make substantial contributions to the ANS Library really was Isaac Wood, who served as Librarian from 1869-1880. I've been able to collect some biographical information on him, but what I'm really dying for is a photo, if anyone has one.
Was Foskett a soldier in the Civil War? If so, was he injured or killed in battle? Some of our readers are genealogists - could someone please check military records for Foskett? Thanks. -Editor
That's a very good idea. I seem to recall that he was still alive post-Civil War but just not interested in continued participation - I'd need to double-check the correspondence files, of course, to confirm my recollection. Even if he wasn't killed, if he did serve there would be pension records, which are a terrific source of information.
THE BOOK BAZARRE
Dick Johnson submitted these thoughts on some important numismatic vocabulary words. So what DOES one properly call an artist who creates coins or medals? -EditorThat is not the first line of a joke, folks. This is deadly serious. The question came up this week, so here goes with an attempted answer.
The term has changed over the years. The dies to strike coins were hand engraved since 600 B.C. Prior to that the dies were crude punches. When images of animals, as a lion or goat, where shown on ancient coins it required an "engraver," a person to carve a negative image -- by hand -- in a piece of iron. He was a "hand engraver" but he was also called a "celator," a carver of glyptic objects.
Hand engraving of dies continued for the next 2000 years. It still exists. Simple dies can still be hand engraved today. So "hand engraver" was the answer for this long period.
Wood blocks were engraved in China and impressions were made of these, but it was Gutenberg's invention of printing with metal type in 1446 that engraving of metal plates for printing began. Such plates for printing maps, prints, illustrations, even paper money required engravers to prepare printers' plates. This form of "flat engraving" or "surface engraving" far surpassed the quantity of modulated engraving of dies, but they were all called "engravers."
To distinguish the engravers of dies, however, from the engravers of printing plates, they were called "diesinkers." I have researched American coin and medal engravers in 19th century directories and I had to search both categories and analyze which type of engraving the "engraver" did. I also learned there were "die forgers" -- these were craftsmen (somewhat like blacksmiths) that tempered the diestocks before the engraving occurred. Obviously these were not engravers (but their initials were occasionally found on the sides of dies).
Then along came the die-engraving pantograph, a machine that revolutionized coin and medal making. Mints and medal makers required oversize coin and medal patterns. These were created by "sculptors" creating bas-relief models in plaster. But for sixty years these sculptors would only create a relief model of the device only, not the entire side. By the end of the 19th century, literally 1899, Victor Janvier patented his die-engraving pantograph that was so exacting a sculptor could model the device, lettering, border elements, everything! - for each side of a coin or medal on one bas-relief plaster model.
So it was "sculptors" who became coin and medal artists. However, even at the mints around the world this person was still called an "engraver" and the person in charge of that department was called a "chief engraver." If you read the job description for a U.S. Mint engraver, however, it spells out the requirement of modeling the sculptural models.
So "sculptor" it is. But if it is a female do not call her a "sculptress." Long before political correctness occurred, with even such a famous person as Malvina Hoffman (she created models for medals and included a chapter on creating coin and medal models in her book Sculpture Inside and Out) she preferred equal billing with men. "Call me a sculptor" she insisted.
Now if you were expecting a joke after reading that headline here it is. What do you call a two hundred million-year-old Pig?
Answer: Jurassic pork!
PS: To learn more about the term "Celator" click on: Celator, Caelator, or Signator: What was a Roman Die-Engraver Called? (http://coinarchaeology.blogspot.com/2009/01/
We love words here at The E-Sylum, even non-numismatic ones. Last week we had a discussion about the word "refute", inspired by a quote from a Colorado Springs Gazette article about the former Executive Director of the American Numismatic Association. -Editor
The online Merriam-Webster dictionary has these definitions for refute:
1 : to prove wrong by argument or evidence : show to be false or erroneous
2 : to deny the truth or accuracy of refuted the allegations
I then wrote:
So, I guess the reporter was technically correct, although I'm still on the side of George and Arthur in preferring the more narrow primary definition of the word. -Editor
Arthur Shippee delved further into matter for us this week - his comments are below. -EditorAfter your note, I felt compelled to check print dictionaries with evidence.
1) Dictionaries, esp. modern, are descriptive, not proscriptive. So, poor usage will be reported. That does not make it "technically correct," whatever you may mean by that.
2) The simple gloss you give doesn't show any change of usage, or show what level of speech is reflected. Is this a traditional use, found in good authors? Or is it some corrupt form? We don't know from that citation.
3) OED and Merriam-Webster's 2nd: neither knows the refute = deny usage. Refute traditionally means very strongly to disprove or overthrow by argument. Given its etymology and its past, "refute" entails presentation of compelling evidence.
4) OED supplement (the 4-vol published supplement) has a new meaning, #5 vb transitive: "Sometimes used erroneously to mean 'deny, repudiate'." The earliest use is 1964, where it says that its use on the BBC shocks strict users, i.e., it's known, but clearly as inferior. Perhaps post-war? Other citations are from '78, '79, '80 (about as late as OEDS would get). "Erroneously," it says, i.e., clearly used by people not thinking clearly about what they needed to say, and just wanting the stronger-sounding word, regardless of its meaning.
So, while "refute = deny" may have some currency, it is clearly substandard usage, to be avoided and corrected. Just because it may be "English" doesn't mean it's good English. There are good reasons why it's bad English.
I'm glad Arthur set us straight on this; just as he, George and I thought, the reporter (and the editor who let it slip) were being shoddy with the English language; so far, no one has refuted anything.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: VOCABULARY WORD: REFUTE (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v12n25a13.html)
Of course, the United States' earliest “real coins” (silver and gold) did not carry a denomination either. The first half dime to do so was in 1829, first dime was in 1809, first quarter in 1815, first half dollar in 1807 (unless you count the 1/2 on the 1796 – half what?), first silver dollar in 1836, first quarter eagle in 1808, first half eagle in 1813 and first eagle in 1838. But our copper coins did carry denominations, in words and in fractions, from day one.
Steve M. Tompkins submitted the following comments. -EditorI hate to be a stickler or anything, however several of the statements made by Mr. Gladfelter are just plain wrong. I think that whenever statements are made, we should try to be as clear and accurate as possible.
For the sake of accuracy, please find a list of the United States coins and the correct dates of appearance of a listed denomination on each type that follows:
Half cent – 1793 – 1797, Denomination stated on the edge of the coin (TWO HUNDRED FOR A DOLLAR), also on the reverse from 1793 – 1857 (HALF CENT), and on the reverse as a fraction from 1793 – 1808 (1/200).
Large cent – 1793 – 1795, Denomination stated on the edge of the coin (ONE HUNDRED FOR A DOLLAR), also on the reverse from 1793 – 1857 (ONE CENT), and on the reverse as a fraction from 1793 – 1807 (1/100).
Half Dime – Denomination stated on the reverse of the 1792 pattern only (Half Disme). Denomination stated on the reverse starting in 1829 (5 C. ).
Dime – Denomination stated on the reverse of the 1792 patterns only (Disme), denomination stated on the reverse starting in 1809 (10 C. ).
Quarter Dollar – First struck in 1796, denomination added to the reverse in 1804 (25 C. ).
Half Dollar – Denomination stated on the edge of the coin from 1794 – 1807 (FIFTY CENTS OR HALF A DOLLAR), also on the reverse in 1796 & 1797 (1/2). Dollar – Denomination stated on the edge of the coin from 1794 – 1803 (ONE HUNDRED CENTS ONE DOLLAR OR UNIT).
Quarter Eagle – Denomination stated on the reverse starting in 1808 (2 ½ D. ).
Half Eagle - Denomination stated on the reverse starting in 1807 (5 D. ).
Eagle - Denomination stated on the reverse starting in 1838 (TEN D. ).
In my opinion, the new larger silver coins (half dollar & dollar) had a denomination stated to establish their value, where as, it was felt that the smaller denominations would be easily identifiable due to their size in relationship to the larger coins.
It was also thought that the value of the gold pieces were easily determined by comparison to the sizes of other foreign coins in circulation at the time, as well as the ability by most merchants to check their weights. Most likely due to the fact that these ideas did not work that well, easily seen and understood denominations were eventually stated on every circulating coin type.
Reader Michael E. Marotta is working on an article taking issue with the thesis put forth by several numismatists that The Wizard of Oz, with its yellow brick road and originally silver (not ruby) slippers was meant as a parable on the Gold and Silver Question of 1896. He submitted a preview (excerpted here) together with a bibliography too lengthy for publication here. Contact me or Michael for a copy if interested. -EditorThe theory that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a “parable about populism” originated with Henry M. Littlefield. “The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism.” American Quarterly, Vol. 16, No. 1 (Spring, 1964, pp. 47-58. Johns Hopkins University Press).
Littlefield was the first to explicitly identify the Scarecrow as the Farmer, the Tinman as the Industrial Worker, the Cowardly Lion as William Jennings Bryan, the Wizard “might be any President from Grant to McKinley.” In the original story, Dorothy is given silver, not ruby slippers. The Yellow Brick Road is the gold standard.
In retelling the theory 25 years later, political science professor Michael A. Genovese wrote: “The allegory begins with the title. Oz is the abbreviation for ounce, the standard measure used for gold.” In 1989, economics professors Michael Watts and Robert F. Smith pointed out that oz stands for an ounce of both silver and gold.
According to economics professor Hugh Rockoff: “The cyclone is the free silver movement itself. It came roaring out of the West in 1896, shaking the political establishment to its foundations.” In 1991, Mitchell Sanders found meaning in the magical golden cap. “The existence of the magical cap thus represents a twisted version of the Golden Rule: whoever owns the gold makes the rules.” Similar emendations and amendments are in many of the retellings.
Littlefield himself actually published something of a retraction, in the opinion pages of the New York Times for February 7, 1992: “…there is no basis in fact to consider Baum a supporter of turn-of-the-century Populist ideology. … Baum's story may be taken as a parable on Populism, not a Populist parable. …
We will never know if Baum had any conscious allegory in mind. I still think of the possibility of political allusions in “The Wizard of Oz” as a kind of undercurrent, a context. My original point in the article was not to label Baum, or to lessen any of his magic, but rather, as a history teacher at Mount Vernon High School, to invest turn-of-the-century America with the imagery and wonder I have always found in his stories.”
Despite that, the theory has taken on a life of its own. Speculations continue, in part, because the circumstantial evidence is strong. The salient point for numismatists is that the idea did not begin with Walter Breen. In fact, none of the 26 works I have found on this subject cites Breen. Some cite no one, the author taking full credit for the ideas of others.
Fact or fantasy? We've discussed the topic in prior E-Sylums, and we'll look forward to the publication of Michael's article. -Editor
Sometimes it pays to take a second or third look at something in one's collection. At Jerry Fochtman's request I scanned an Ed. Frossard Fixed Price List and emailed him a copy. Jerry's researching U.S. postal and fractional currency, and in my ephemera files I had this fixed price list of fractional currency issued by Ed. Frossard (his Special List No8).
Until I scanned it I'd forgotten how special this price list is. Frossard is offering the collection of specimen notes that had been the property of S. M. Clark, head of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing during the period when the currency was issued.
The companion medal restrike takes a Teutenberg die from an 1897 Jubilee medal originally issued to winners of a military athletic tournament. Using the master die held by NSA, the commemorative restrike produced 45 silver, 45 copper and 7 gold medals each bearing the reverse legend: Numismatic Society of Auckland (Inc.) 1959-2009.
Martin Purdy writes:
While these are the published mintage figures for the anniversary medals, I understand an extra 10 copper were made at the last moment, making the final mintage 7 gold, 45 silver and 55 copper, just to keep the record straight.
Thanks for the update! -Editor
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: BOOK REVIEW: TEUTENBERG: A MASTER ENGRAVER AND HIS WORK (http://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v12n23a07.html)
It's non-numismatic, but since we discuss new technologies, here's a curious old one - the Optical Telegraph. I thought I'd seen and heard it all, but this was a new one on me. -EditorBefore the telegraph, there was the optical telegraph, a chain of towers topped by large pivoting cross members, and spaced as far apart as the eye could see. Developed by the Frenchman Claude Chappe at the end of the 18th century, optical telegraph lines once stretched from Paris out to Dunkirk and Strasbourg, and were in service for more than half a century:
Chappe created a language of 9,999 words, each represented by a different position of the swinging arms. When operated by well-trained optical telegraphers, the system was extraordinarily quick. Messages could be transmitted up to 150 miles in two minutes.
Several optical telegraph relay stations are still around, including one in Saverne, France that was renovated in 1998.
To read the complete article, see: The Chappe Optical Telegraph (www.boingboing.net/2009/06/20/the-chappe-optical-t.html)
The "bonds" being smuggled into Switzerland are fantasies. They have been coming out of the Philippines, India, and China for several years. No such real bonds exist.
The website on distinguishing counterfeit money fails to note that $5 bills no longer have a portrait in the watermark - they have a large numeral 5 in the watermark window and the words FIVE FIVE FIVE on the other end of the note. This is to force note bleachers to spend more money (at least $10 now) to obtain substrate for their ink-jet $100s.
The linked article on the How Things Work website fails to note that modern image-processing software recognizes security patterns in the designs and shuts down rather than print pictures of notes.
This blog post is not about coins, but eBay & archaeology are both ancillary concerns, so this may have some bearing.
Today’s idea: EBay — rather than encourage the looting of antiquities as you might expect — discourages it by fueling a huge global market for cheap fakes, an archeaologist says.
Despite fears that the Internet would democratize antiquities trafficking and lead to widespread plunder, “it appears that electronic buying and selling has actually hurt the antiquities trade,” writes Charles Stanish, a U.C.L.A. professor, in the journal Archaeology.
“People who used to make a few dollars selling a looted artifact to a middleman in their village can now produce their own ‘almost-as-good-as-old’ objects and go directly to a person in a nearby town who has an eBay vendor account,” he explains, speaking from personal field experience. “They will receive the same amount or even more than they could have received for actual antiquities.”
Not only that, since the best forgeries now “can fool even supposed experts like me,” even the high-end market for the real, pillaged McCoy is suffering.
It’s a situation that P.T. Barnum along with preservationists could appreciate. “I suppose if people stopped believing that they can buy a pill that will help them lose weight without dieting or exercise, then it is possible that people will stop buying fakes online, and we will return to old-fashioned looting,” Stanish sighs in conclusion.
To read the complete article, see: How Fakes on eBay Save Antiquities (ideas.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/24/how-fakes
So - what do you think, readers? Does the writer have a point? -Editor
The Press and Journal of Aberdeen Scotland published an article about a couple selling a family heirloom medal to raise money for a charity. The images below are from an earlier E-Sylum story on the Waterloo medal. I never tire of taking opportunities to illustrate this masterwork. -EditorA rare artefact from one of the most famous battles in European history will be sold by a Perth couple this weekend for charity.
The rare Waterloo medal has been in George Draffen’s family for more than 180 years.
It was presented to his ancestor Sergeant James Draffen, of the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards, after the battle in 1815.
Mr Draffen and his wife Lesley are auctioning the heirloom to raise money for forces charity Help for Heroes.
The award was the first true campaign medal and was issued to all ranks who fought in the battles of Waterloo, Ligny and Quatre Bras.
It is expected to sell for between £2,500 and £3,500 when it goes under the hammer at McTear’s Auctioneers in Glasgow on Saturday.
To read the complete article, see: Rare Waterloo medal to be sold for charity (www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1276149)
The downward slide of Zimbabwe currency continues. In the latest sign (pun intended) an advertising firm has created a billboard using the worthless notes. Where else would a neighboring country post signs asking people not to flush money down the toilet? -EditorAn advertising campaign of billboards made of worthless Zimbabwean banknotes has won an international advertising award, reports in the country said Wednesday. The Zimbabwean, a bi-weekly newspaper published in London but sold in Zimbabwe, pasted together hundreds of banknotes with denominations of up to trillions of the now defunct Zimbabwe dollar to make up the billboards, the newspaper said.
Over the bills were pasted messages that said, "Thanks to (President Robert) Mugabe this money is wallpaper," "It's cheaper to print on this money than on paper," and "Fight the regime that has crippled a country."
Knocking 25 zeroes off the currency in 18 months failed to stem the slide. The highest-denomination banknote issued in February of 100 trillion Zimbabwe dollars was just enough for a few loaves of bread.
Shoppers had to carry bags full of cash for groceries and signs in public toilets at the border control post with neighbouring South Africa instructed users not to flush Zimbabwe dollars down the toilet.
To read the complete article, see: Billboards made of Zimbabwe dollars bag top advertising prize (www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/274663,billboards
Meanwhile, other countries are introducing larger notes of their own. -EditorThe 50,000-won ($38.91) bill, now Korea’s largest-denominated banknote, entered circulation yesterday amid curiosity and concerns.
Analysts said the new bill would improve the efficiency of financial transactions while neither boosting the economy nor accelerating inflation significantly.
The Bank of Korea released 1.65 trillion won in the bills yesterday through commercial banks and post offices. Dozens of people stood in line at the BOK’s headquarters in central Seoul before teller windows opened at 9 a.m. yesterday to get their hands on one.
Large branches of major banks such as Kookmin and Shinhan in Myeong-dong and Yeouido, Seoul’s financial centers, were also crowded in the morning with people after the new bill, staff members said.
On the other hand, bank branches in other parts of Seoul were relatively calm. “As people know that the notes of the earliest serial numbers will be put up for auction, they don’t seem to be hurrying to get one,” said a staff member at Hana Bank’s Seocho branch.
“The 50,000-won bill is prettier than I expected,” said Min Ji-hyeon, a 38-year-old housewife, as she emerged from the branch after exchanging her 10,000-won bills for 50,000-won bills. She said she came not just because the new bills were more convenient but also out of curiosity.
“The new bill will make my wallet flatter and lighter and I like it,” she continued. “But I am concerned that due to the existence of the 50,000-won bill, I will feel pressed to pay at least 50,000 won as congratulatory money when I am invited to a wedding.”
To read the complete article, see: Lines form at banks for new 50,000-won bill (http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.asp?aid=2906511)
The Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum is a British Academy Research Project, the purpose of which is to publish illustrated catalogues of Greek coins in public and private collections in the British Isles. SNG has retained the traditional, very broad, definition of 'Greek' to include the coins produced by all ancient civilisations of the Mediterranean and neighbouring regions except Rome, though it does include the Roman Provincial series often known as 'Greek Imperials'.
The project was inaugurated in 1931 with the publication of the collection of Capt. E.G. Spencer-Churchill. A new and distinctive format was used, with text and illustrations on facing pages. This meant that only limited text was included, with the illustrations having greater prominence than in earlier types of catalogues, and to some extent replacing textual descriptions. This is because the primary purpose of SNG was to make much more material available for study. This format has been retained ever since and has been adopted, along with the title Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, for similar projects in many other countries, including Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.