Volume 13, Number 12, March 21, 2010
Among our new subscribers this week are Zack Kaleky, courtesy of (and nephew of) Mark Lighterman, Ray Bows, courtesy of John and Nancy Wilson, Steve Acre, courtesy of Warner Talso, and Richard A. Grossmann. Welcome aboard! We now have 1,327 subscribers.
This week we open with an update from literature dealer Fred Lake, and a review of Atom Damali's new book on Ottoman coinage. New query topics this week include the RARCOA J.F. Bell sale and recommended reading for Red Book readers.
Other topics run the gamut from a numismatic-themed exhibit at the Harvard Art Museum, coin cabinets, and an artist's ceramic "coins". To learn about Rubens and numismatics, the paper siege money of Alhama de Granada, owls on U.S. coins, and North Korea's firing squad, read on.
Fred Lake forwarded this announcement about his upcoming numismatic literature sale. -Editor
Lake Books announces the publication of its One-Hundred Second mail-bid sale of numismatic literature. The catalog features selections from the library of Nick Boccuzzi and among the 514 lots is an extensive listing of "Redbooks" and "Bluebooks" plus reference material on United States coinage, World and Ancient coinage, Tokens and Exonumia, Paper Money and an interesting assortment of miscellaneous topics. You can view the catalog at http://www.lakebooks.com/current.html
The sale closes on April 20, 2010 at 5:00 PM (EDT) and bids may be placed via email, telephone, fax or conventional mail. Remember to bid early as tie bids are won by the earliest bid received.
Len Augsburger writes:
The manuscript for "Pictures of the First Mint: The Numismatic Legacy of Frank H. Stewart" has been submitted to the publisher. Joel Orosz and I will be giving a preview at the EAC convention next month, April 23, at the Friday night speaker's forum. They've scheduled us after Dave Bowers, which is sort of like scheduling Curious George to speak after George Washington, but we will do our best!
I'm attaching the last known picture of Frank Stewart's Old Mint Building, which he erected on the first Mint site. This shows the wrecking ball at the facade, from a newsclipping dated March 23, 1965.
Dick Doty of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution submitted this review of Atom Damali's new book on Ottoman coinage. Thanks! -Editor
Many scholars and collectors are aware of a recent, and very welcome, improvement in the physical appearance of numismatic publications coming from Russia. The new studies are fairly expensive, but the quality and mode of presentation of their content more than justifies their cost. Now I'm pleased to report that Turkey has joined this trend: a case in point is a superb new volume by Dr. Atom Damali, Osmanli Sikkeleri Tarihi/History of Ottoman Coins, I, five years in the making
This is the first in a projected series that will eventually comprise eight volumes, taking the story from the very beginning of Ottoman coinage under Osman Gazi (ruled AH699-724, 1299-1324CE) all the way down to the early twentieth century, and the end of the Turkish Empire itself. Dr. Damali's first volume covers almost exactly two centuries, from Osman Gazi down to Selim I (ruled AH918-926, 1512-1520CE).
The catalog portion of the work is prefaced by a general historical sketch; a detailed account of manufacturing techniques used in Ottoman coinage (of particular interest to me); valuable explanations concerning symbols and motifs appearing on the coinage across time; history of the various denominations introduced and superseded across the centuries; metrology of all sorts, lucidly presented; and useful information about the plethora of mints striking coinage for the Empire, scattered from western Africa all the way to the Persian Gulf.
The catalog itself is simply superb. Anyone dealing with early Ottoman coinage knows that it largely consists of small, poorly-struck pieces in silver of varying fineness. It's very difficult to decipher, unless you're an expert – or have an expert to assist. This book gives that kind of expertise: the coins are clearly photographed in color, depicted on average 2.5 times their actual size. Weights are given. Inscriptions and other data, including mint marks, are clearly laid out. Armed with this catalog, it will be virtually impossible not to find one's way through the centuries-broad maze of Ottoman coinage. This book will represent the standard text for the early period of the Ottoman Empire; and I have every expectation that Dr. Damali's upcoming volumes will do the same for all subsequent issues.
As with the new publications coming from Russia, this one is fairly expensive. It costs $160, post-paid. But in my judgment, the clarity of text and images, the sheer amount of information and the concise, easy-to-follow way it is presented – all make this book worth the price, if not more. And prospective purchasers may be interested to learn that a goodly percentage of the proceedings will be used by the Nilufer Damali Education Foundation for several worthwhile projects, including the purchase of books for primary schools and the provision of scholarships to sight-impaired students at no fewer than eight universities around the country. There, they can study anything they choose – including Numismatics.
I give this book my highest recommendation.
(Dr. Atom Damali, Osmanli Sikkeleri Tarihi/History of Ottoman Coins, I [Istanbul 2010], pp. v + 439, ill. ISBN 978-975-93279-3-4.) For ordering information, go to www.niluferdamalivakfi.org, or contact Dr. Demali directly: email@example.com.
To read the complete article, see: NEW BOOK: HISTORY OF OTTOMAN COINS BY DAMALI (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v12n51a06.html)
Richard A. Grossmann, Keeper of Coins and Medals, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston submitted the following announcement. -Editor
"Rubens and the Baroque Festival"
Rubens's oil on wood sketch of Neptune Calming the Tempest in the Fogg collection is a preparatory study for the left wing of the Stage of Welcome, a temporary stage built in honor of the triumphal entry of the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand into Antwerp in 1635. This small installation juxtaposes the sketch with an engraving of the final stage and with Renaissance prints, drawings, and ancient coins (from the Harvard and MFA Boston collections) that informed Rubens's design. Organized by Anna Knaap, Theodore Rousseau Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Paintings, Sculpture and Decorative Arts in collaboration with Carmen Arnold-Biucchi, Damarete Curator of Ancient Coins.
On April 17, there will be a symposium "Art, Music, and Spectacle in the Age of Rubens". The event is free and open to the public (for details, http://www.harvardartmuseum.org/calendar/detail.dot?id=27895). The program will examine the art, architecture, music, theater, and festival books associated with the entry. List of speakers: Jonathan Israel (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton); Peter Miller (Bard Graduate Center); Bart Ramakers (University of Groningen); Anne Woollett (J. Paul Getty Museum); Michael Putnam (Brown University); Carmen Arnold-Biuchhi (Harvard Art Museum); Frank Fehrenbach (Harvard University); Caroline van Eck (Leiden University); Louis Grijp (Meertens Institute, Utrecht University).
The exhibition's organizers, Drs. Knaap and Arnold-Biucchi, are greatly interested in information on Rubens as a collector and student of ancient coins and would welcome information about the contents of his collection and its eventual disposition (and whether any coins known to have been in Rubens' collection are extant today). Dr. Knaap can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE BOOK BAZARRE
Elizabeth Hahn, Librarian of the American Numismatic Society writes:
Many thanks to everyone who submitted an entry for the ANS Library catalog naming contest! We received over 70 entries and are currently reviewing all the suggestions. It is proving to be difficult to pick a winner from all of the clever possibilities. The winner will be announced and notified by April 15, 2010. Details about the contest can be found at www.numismatics.org/Library/ANSLibraryNamingContest .
I don't envy those charged with picking a winner from the pool of entries - that should indeed prove to be a difficult task. But with that many choices there should be many good ones in the final round. -Editor
We've had a number of responses to last week's quiz about the photo of the November 12, 1909 meeting of the New York Numismatic Club. -Editor
QUICK QUIZ: Who can name the numismatists in this
photo of the November 12, 1909 meeting?
Pete Smith writes:
There is a familiar face in the center of the back row in the NYNC picture. I have been trying to figure out if that is Frey, Wood or Zerbe when he had dark hair.
Jim Duncan of New Zealand writes:
As a Kiwi I don't know many great American numismatists, but is A R Frey the one on the left of the man in the light suit at the rear? (That's to his right, viewer's left).
Dave Hirt writes:
Left row: Wayte Raymond, Victor D Brenner, Elmer Sears, Stephen K Nagy, Bauman Belden,
Right row: George H Blake, William Woodin, John H Clapp,
Back row: not sure (may be John W Scott), Uncle Joe Mitchelson, Elliott Smith, Daniel Kennedy (Tom Elder's auctioneer), Albert Frey, Frank Higgins, Edger H Adams, Malcon Webster, Tom Elder.
The era from 1870-1920 is of great interest to me, so I know them by face. Many pictured in the NYNC meeting were also in the picture of Tom Elder's banquet in 1908 before his James Wilson sale. That helped. Also there were a few that I could not have named, except for help from a picture of the same meeting in the book The American Numismatic Society 1858-1958 on page 157.where some, but not all are named. John H. Clapp and Stephen K. Nagy, I believe would have the most difficult to name because they were probably guests, and not regular members.
Our readers are a sharp-eyed bunch. Here's the official key to the photo. -Editor
Head table, left to right: Unidentified bearded man at extreme left, possibly Charles Leopold Podhaiski or J. A. Clarke; Joseph C. Mitchelson, Elliott Smith (goatee), Daniel R. Kennedy, Albert R. Frey (mustache), Frank C. Higgins (mustache), Edgar H. Adams (mustache), D. Macon Webster (goatee), Thomas L. Elder.
Seated at the left of the front table, left to right: Wayte Raymond (glasses and cigar), Victor D. Brenner (bearded), Elmer Sears, Stephen K. Nagy, Bauman L. Belden (bearded, appears to have a water jug on his head)
Seated at the right of the front table, right to left: George H. Blake, William H. Woodin (mustache, holding cigar), John H. Clapp, and on the extreme right, partly cropped off, William R. Weeks.
George Cuhaj adds:
Great review on the NYNC Centennial Book. Attached is a photo of the NYNC Past Presidents who were in attendance at the 1000th meeting, which was also held at Keen's Chop House. It was far more reasonably priced and better attended than the 100th Anniversary (1200th meeting) as it did not occur during the Christmas Holiday party peak space period.
They are Zaloom, Armet, Wilfred, Brady, Martin, Galst, Zimmerman, Grunthal, Janis, Stahl and Kinker It was the last time that Zimmerman and Kinker were at a meeting.
Dick Johnson adds:
A single black cube would not prevent a candidate from entry to membership in NYNC in the ballot box voting. It required three black "balls" to block membership to an unsuitable person (at least during my tenure as member in the 1970s and 80s). It was so confidential that when the box was carried around for each member to vote, you could not see the color of the ball or cube the person sitting next to you chose. I wonder if this proviso of three "blackballs" still exists?
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: BOOK REVIEW: CENTENNIAL HISTORY OF THE NEW YORK NUMISMATIC CLUB (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n11a03.html)
Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing forwarded this request for E-Sylum readers. -Editor
We're preparing the second edition of the Professional Edition Red Book, and I'd like to put a call out to the E-Sylum's readers.
Each of the book's denomination introductions has a list of "Recommended Reading" --- standard references for the collector, investor, and researcher interested in that particular denomination.
If anyone has any updates or additions to recommend, they can email me at email@example.com
We're still having difficulty displaying certain characters. We don't have a separate test email list, so I'm conducting a live test with this issue. Below are examples of some of the characters several readers are having trouble seeing in their E-Sylum email. You know who you are - please let me know if these characters render properly for you this week. Thanks.
THE BOOK BAZARRE
At the dealership where I used to work, I would answer the phone only if one of three salespeople were unavailable. One day I answered to find Rynearson on the other end of the line. I became his contact person at the firm and we made a number of deals while I worked there.
I was pleased to meat Paul at a Long Beach show about five years ago. I expected him to be a "really old guy". I was surprised to discover that he is about my age. I guess that says something I don't want to admit about myself.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: BOOK REVIEW: COLLECTING ANCIENT GREEK COINS BY PAUL RYNEARSON (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n11a04.html)
Craig McDonald writes:
John Adams commented last week that "Storage in wood can be death to coins.". While it is true that certain types of wood should NEVER be used for storing coins (e.g., pine, oak, or cedar just to name a few), mahogany, because of its chemical stability, is recognized as one of the safest species to use for this purpose. For this reason, along with its aesthetic qualities, mahogany has been used for upwards of two centuries to house some of the finest collections of coins ever formed, especially among European collectors and museums. Hence the familiar phrase, ."...from the cabinet of....". Most if not all of us have seen coins advertised as having "cabinet toning".
The "death" Mr. Adams is referring to is possibly the result of coins having been stored in cabinets made of a wood other than mahogany. Even today, you see cabinets and/or trays advertised as "mahogany FINISH" (emphasis added). This means that the wood used is probably a less expensive species such as pine or maybe oak. Here we have two problems: first, the use of a wood that isn't suitable to begin with; and second, the use of a stain (probably oil based) to impart the mahogany color. The chemicals given off by either or both of these two substances can have detrimental effects on coins stored in them.
For this reason, I use only solid mahogany, and absolutely no stains or dyes of any kind on my cabinets. The sealer I apply is water based, and is used simply to seal the surface of the wood for protection from staining by oils on the skin when handling the trays.
And regarding a somewhat related post by Mr. Adams: I loved the image of the George Bullock medal cabinet, although it is orders of magnitude beyond my woodworking capabilities. I have started "collecting" images of antique coin/medal cabinets, so if anyone has any or ever comes across one, I would love to see it. I can be contacted at: CabinetsByCraig@aol.com
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
MORE ON COIN CABINETS BY CRAIG MCDONALD
Joe Boling writes:
Agreeing with Bruce Smith, I have read (and can't tell you where) that ANY amount of zinc in a copper alloy requires use of the term "brass" - no matter how dark the product might be. That always bugged me, because I want my brass to be yellow, but this unremembered source insisted that zinc yields brass. Only a copper-tin alloy could be called "bronze" by this author.
Philip Mernick writes:
I am rather confused by Bruce Smith's comments on brass. In saying that brass did not exist before 1400 he is ignoring low zinc brasses such as latten used for English jettons from about 1280 and Roman brasses used for many coins. Articles such as this kb.osu.edu/dspace/bitstream/1811/4252/1/V55N03_137.pdf show that the Romans had sources of zinc and only when these were exhausted did brass cease to be used for coinage. His comment that more than 1% of zinc indicates a fake is surely wrong. 10% zinc is common in medieval jettons and could easily be achieved using zinc containing ores without the need to refine them to pure metal.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: MORE ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COPPER, BRONZE AND BRASS (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n11a09.html)
Tracking down old or defunct copyright holders can be very challenging and has created what is now called the orphan works problem--a work is no longer easily available and is still under copyright, but the copyright holder cannot be found for obtaining permission. Congress has considered some changes to the law to help with this problem, but for now the best that can be done is checking records of copyright registrations.
Any registration since 1978 is online at http://cocatalog.loc.gov. Since the books Peter asked about were published before 1978, I doubted there would be any useful information, and I was correct, neither Shirjieh nor Chenby were found in my search of 1978 and later copyright registrations.
Pre-1978 copyright registrations are not yet online. The Copyright Office has some information on looking them up ( www.copyright.gov/circs/circ23.pdf ), but it is expensive to ask for the Copyright Office to look for you. Some federal depository libraries (check catalog.gpo.gov/fdlpdir/FDLPdir.jsp to find the nearest depository library) have old copyright records. Google has digitized the indices of the pre-1978 records ( books.google.com/googlebooks/copyrightsearch.html ). I searched for the two books and found that both had been registered shortly after publication.
All this means is that a registration record exists for these books, so the Copyright Office or depository library might have those records. The records might have an address for the publisher or author, which might be a lead. The records are kept as they were originally filed, so it does not necessarily mean you can get a current address or know if the publisher or authors are still around.
Fred Schwan writes:
Regarding the copyright of Chinese Banknotes (a great book), Shirjieh publishers certainly no longer exists. It may have been owned by Ward Smith and Brian Matravers. Smith is long dead, but Matravers likely is still alive.
I only met Matravers a few times. The last time was in an elevator at some major numismatic event, likely in California and quite a few years ago. I was surprised at how young he was. He was much younger than Smith (who had died by that time). As far as I know he (Matravers) is no longer involved in numismatics. Possibly some collectors in California know where to find him.
On the larger issue of copyrights, I have similar problems. I want to do a new edition of a 1985 book which was self published. The author is dead. I did quite a bit of work to find the widow. Got a phone number, but alas it had been disconnected when I called. I do not now know what to do. Any ideas?
Joe Boling writes:
Shirjieh Publishers was Ward D. Smith. I'm sure that if the copyright to Chinese Banknotes resided with him, that it was passed to his widow, Marian. Brian Matravers may still be alive in Hong Kong - Bruce Smith might know that - and he might have a piece of the copyright. As for Marian Smith's address, I don't know if she is still in the house in Menlo Park or not.
Ian A. Marshall writes:
Regarding Patrick Ian Perez's question on Shirjieh Publishers, I believe it was solely owned and operated by Ward Smith. He lived in Menlo Park and was involved in publishing other works as well. One was the two volume Catalogue of World Paper Money by George Sten that was never completed beyond the 2 volumes published due to Sten's untimely death. This along with the German, Arnold Kellers works were the first attempts to catalogue World Paper Money.
I don't have the Sten catalogues at hand to see who the listed publisher was but Ward Smith definitely was the publisher of this and his own book. I remember sharing a motel room with Ward after driving with him from COIN to the ANA in San Diego in 1983. We talked at length about Sten and his publishing ventures. He died, I believe in the late 80's.
Regarding the book by Aldo Basso & Chenby Publishers, Ken Berger writes:
The book's title is "Coins, Medals and Tokens of the Philippines." It was published in 1968. The publisher is listed as Chenby Publishers, P.O. Box 259, Menlo Park, CA 94025. Basso's address is listed as 2309 S. El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA 94403.
In 1975, a second edition was published, entitled "Coins, Medals and Tokens of the Philippines 1728 1974." This time the copyright was held by Basso rather than Chenby Publishers. Basso's address was given as P.O. Box 935, San Mateo, CA 94403, USA. This edition was printed by Bookman Printing House, Quezon City.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: QUERY: SHIRJIEH PUBLISHERS (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n11a08.html)
Dr K.A. Rodgers submitted these thoughts on the background of the Sydney Cove medallion featured here last week. My choice of the medallion was inspired by the release of the new silver dollar, pictured below alongside the original. -Editor
Further, to the featured web page in the last E-Sylum, and leaving aside the recent release of a high-relief silver dollar by Perth Mint that recreates the Sydney Cove medallion design, a number of matters concerning that original are worthy of note.
1. Wedgwood commissioned his good friend Erasmus Darwin to compose some verse to celebrate the new medallion. The opening lines are inscribed on the new Wedgwood plate packaged with the new dollar by Perth Mint:
Visit of Hope to Sydney Cove, near Botany Bay
Where Sydney Cove her lucid bosom swells,
And with wide arms the indignant storm repels;
High on a rock amid the troubled air
Hope stood sublime, and waved her golden hair;
Calmed with her rosy smile the tossing deep,
And with sweet accents charmed the winds to sleep;
To each wild plain she stretched her snowy hand,
High-waving wood, and sea-encircled strand.
"Hear me," she cried, "ye rising realms! record
Time's opening scenes, and Truth's prophetic word.
There shall broad streets their stately walls extend,
The circus widen, and the crescent bend;
There, rayed from cities o'er the cultured land,
Shall bright canals, and solid roads expand.
There the proud arch, colossus-like, bestride
Yon glittering streams, and bound the chasing tide;
Embellished villas crown the landscape-scene,
Farms wave with gold, and orchards blush between.
There shall tall spires, and dome-capped towers ascend,
And piers and quays their massy structures blend;
While with each breeze approaching vessels glide,
And northern treasures dance on every tide!"
Then ceased the nymph - tumultuous echoes roar,
And Joy's loud voice was heard from shore to shore -
Her graceful steps descending pressed the plain,
And Peace, and Art, and Labour, joined her train.
2. Wedgwood and Darwin were both Lunaticks, members of Birmingham's Lunar Society that met in the homes of both Erasmus Darwin and Matthew Boulton of Soho Mint fame.
3. Wedgwood's son Robert married Darwin's daughter Emma. One of their children was Charles Darwin. Wedgwood's money helped bankroll Charles' studies of natural history.
4. Wedgwood did not make the medallions with his own hands. He simply ordered staff to. The design is by Henry Webber, Wedgwood's chief sculptor, with the final mould finishing done by William Hackwood, Wedgwood's principal modeler. The Wedgwood Museum site describes the medallions as having a caneware ceramic body with an ornamented and sprigged decoration.
5. Three different clay types were sent to Sir Joseph Banks from Sydney. All were passed to Wedgwood. The Mitchell library reports that the medallions were produced in three distinct colors: pale cream, brown and black depending on the clay used.
6. Replicas exist. The originals Sydney were impressed on the reverse with a backstamp "MADE BY IOSIAH WEDGWOOD OF CLAY FROM SYDNEY COVE." This stamp does not appear on later issues.
7. Measurements of surviving medallions vary. Three in the Mitchell collection are catalogued as 56 mm across and two as 67 mm. It is unclear if these measurements are of external diameters or of that of the internal bounding rim
8. While Wedgwood entitled the medallion, "Hope encouraging Art and Labour under the influence of Peace to pursue the employments necessary to give security and happiness to an infant settlement", his family referred to it simply as by the "The Botany Bay Medal", showing they were geographically-challenged.
9. Below the neo-classical figures is the legend ETRURIA 1789. Etruria was the name given by Josiah Wedgwood to his factory in 1769 in honour of the ancient Etruscans whose ceramic art had so inspired him. At the time polite society regarded the Etruscans as the ultimate Noble Savages.
10. Webber's design provided the inspiration for first Great Seal of New South Wales, as approved by King George III in 1790. The design can be seen today in the 1892 door panel in the Chief Secretary's Building in Sydney. A more recent used was for a commemorative plaque marking the opening of the Opera House in Sydney in 1986. And it has long been the symbol of The Wedgwood Society of New South Wales.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: FEATURED WEB PAGE: THE SYDNEY COVE MEDALLION (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n11a26.html)
A couple of links provided by Stephen Searle last week were edited out of the published version of his remarks. Here they are, since they may be of use to other researchers. -Editor
Bibliographic information about the original work: worldcat.org/wcpa/oclc/3783724 .
A link to the online version of that work: www.archive.org/details/cometallismplanf00veedrich .
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: MORE ON NICHOLAS VEEDER'S 1885 COMETALLISM PAMPHLET (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n11a07.html)
François Velde if the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Research Department submitted this note on the earliest paper money issued during a siege. -Editor
I'm replying belatedly to the claim made in the February 21 issue:
The siege of the city of Leyden, in modern day Netherlands, is believed to be the first instance wherein paper money of necessity was used. Although Leyden boasts a wide variety of metallic siege coins from the 1570s, it was here that the first paper siege notes were issued. These "notes" are not notes at all but are, more properly, considered coins. [...] These cardboard "notes" became the first paper money to appear in the Western world. Prior to this only the Chinese used paper money.
There is at least one earlier instance of paper money issued during a siege, almost a century before the Leyden example.
The town of Alhama de Granada, in southern Spain, was taken by the Christians in 1482; sometime between 1483 and 1485 the Muslims besieged it, and the commander, the count of Tendilla, issued paper money in different denominations with a promise to redeem the notes after the siege, a promise he apparently kept. The story is told by a contemporary, Fernando del Pulgar who was secretary of the Catholic King Ferdinand.
This incident is referenced on 220 of The Big Problem of Small Change, the book François authored in 2002 with Thomas J. Sargent. -Editor
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: QUERY: TERM FOR PAPER PRESSED INTO COIN FORM SOUGHT (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n08a14.html)
Pete Smith writes:
I have an interest in the 1872 Proof Eagle $10 gold coin identified by Breen as J. F. Bell II: 384. I assume this is lot 384 in the RARCOA sale of 4/26/1963. Can anyone confirm this and send me a scan or photocopy of the lot description?
Warner Talso has written a series of articles on a rare and interesting numismatic periodical called The Emergency Money Collector. They are being published in the MPC GRAM, an electronic newsletter for collectors of Military Payment Certificates and other war-related numismatica. With permission I'm republishing them here for E-Sylum readers. This article appeared in the March 17th, 2010 issue (Series 11, No. 1909). Thanks, Warner! To subscribe to the MPC Gram, write to MPCGram@yahoo.com. -Editor
This issue increases the size of the publication from 8 to 10 pages. There are hopes to eventually increase to 24 pages. As a result, effective immediately, all future subscriptions will be entered at the rate of 25 cents per copy and $1.00 per year.
There is a long discussion regarding foreign subscribers and advertisers. I image transferring and converting currency was an issue at the time. Alrie again calls for the creation of an Emergency Money Collectors Club. He offers this publication as the official organ of the club. He offers to print membership application forms, membership cards, etc.
The Question Box: Has the United States Government ever issued emergency money? Answer: Yes. The Demand Notes and Fractional Currency of the Civil War were both emergency issues. More recent are the 1943 steel cents and the 1942-45 composition five cents piece. (One assumes the Boise Idaho cardboard one cent piece did not qualify since it was not an USG issue.)
There is an article on the "Emergency Wooden Money of Tenino , Wash. " by Emil Di Bella. The first issue of wooden money to make an appearance in the U.S. was during the "bank holiday" of 1931 (actually, the FDR-mandated bank holiday was March 6, 1933-Warrner.) Many bank depositors found their assets "frozen" and there was an acute shortage of currency to carry on normal daily business. The Chamber of Commerce in Tenino, Washington, devised a unique scrip plan. They issued scrip made from wood slices of the Sitka tree. A total of $11, 582.50 worth of scrip was issued in 1931, 32, and 33. The system is credited with keeping trade moving in Tenino.
The feature article is entitled "Russian Emergency Paper Money" by WladimirOushkoff. (This is the first installment of a series.) Paper money existed in Russia since 1769. A few local issues, printed on paper or leather appeared in the 19thCentury, but were considered too few to be discussed here. Emergency issues, as discussed here, did not appear until late 1917.
Coins, made of precious metals at the time, disappeared as a result WWI and the civil war which began in 1918. This catalog lists all the notes and local issues made in Russia from 1769 to 1948. Noteworthy were local issues in Alaska made of walrus hide, prior to the sale to the U.S. in 1867. A major advertiser appears to be Charles Klander of Cincinnati , Ohio . He advertises many kinds of obsolete paper money for sale.
Arlie notes that there was no Fall issue of 1948 nor Winter issue for 1949. He could not find a printer. His temporary solution is a local newspaper that lets him use their printers in off hours. A very resourceful man!
To read the previous E-Sylum article, see: THE EMERGENCY MONEY COLLECTOR, VOL. 1 NO. 2 (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n11a16.html)
Arthur Shippee forwarded this article from the New York Times. Has anyone encountered Mr Wall's ceramic "coins"? -Editor
For more than 30 years now, sharp-eyed New Yorkers have been finding them on ledges, windowsills and store counters - poker-chip-size coins that reveal themselves to be something far more mysterious than loose change.
The inch-wide ceramic discs, painted in iridescent colors, have the rough, weathered feel of ancient treasure. Each is embossed with a short, cryptic message, a year and two humble letters: "bw."
Those, it turns out, are the initials of Beriah Wall, a Brooklyn artist who estimates he has knocked out hundreds of thousands of these handmade tokens since the late 1970s, quietly dropping them in public places or the hands of bewildered strangers. His latest batch, minted over the last few months, carry the message "Stuck in Brkln."
They are anything but. Mr. Wall, 63, said his homemade currency had shown up all over the world. He has passed many of the pieces to friends and relatives, who have scattered them from California to Africa and from the Caribbean to Tibet.
In the realm of the coin, Mr. Wall is a sovereign, producing anonymous art that is encountered in random, intimate moments. The phrases he stamps on the front and back include wordplay like Flee/Flea and Real/Good and political statements like Bush/Gush and Palestine/Israel.
"My work has been in millions of hands," he said. "It's a little free object that sort of floats around. It's about small endeavors, the edge of meaning or significance. If you'd like some to take wherever, I got a carload for you."
Mr. Wall was a potter in Vermont when he conceived the idea of giving away small chunks of ceramics. He was manning the parking lot at a crafts fair, charging $2 per car. The fee did not go over well with customers, who wondered why they had to pay anything to park in a field.
"I sliced out little pieces of clay squares and gave them to people," he said. "And they all liked it. They smiled. It was immediate. So, bada-bing, I ran with it."
Now semiretired from plastering, Mr. Wall continues to strike his coins - he can make 2,000 in a week - in the basement studio of his Red Hook home. Little clay blanks rest in a bucket on the table, where a plank is splattered with green and yellow streaks of paint. A kiln that looks like a coffee maker on steroids is off to the side. When he has something new to say, he carves his message into a cup-shaped plaster mold, then stamps each clay disc by hand.
Upstairs, coins are piled into buckets and bowls, all the easier to grab on the way out the door. Words peek out from the pile: Bling, Made, Good, Real, Pro, To Have, To Hold. Somehow, he said, they add up to one big statement.
To read the complete article, see: Statements by an Artist, for the Palms of Strangers (www.nytimes.com/2010/03/17/nyregion/17coins.html)
Dave Lange writes:
Mention in this week's issue of the Audubon elephant folio prompted an amusing thought: I wonder whether anyone has ever examined an elephant folio and been disappointed to not find the elephant?
Dave Bowers writes:
Radio programs, TV programs, and e-books (mentioned by you) are ephemeral-but the printed word seems to live forever. No one knows the script of B. Max Mehl's countless radio programs (he had his own) in the late 1920s and early 1930s, but the slimmest Mehl printed pamphlet endures and is collectible. Sort of interesting to contemplate. Congratulations on the excellent work you do.
Rich Mantia writes:
Regarding ANOTHER coin with an owl on it, one can look to the U.S. "slugs" from 1915. The 1915 Panama-Pacific commemorative coinage has a large prominent owl on the reverse of both the round and the octagonal $50 gold pieces. The coins have a Greco-classical revival theme to them reminiscent of ancient Corinthian and Athenian coinage.
Additionally, the remainder of the denominations from the Pan-Pac series also have some unique animals depicted on the coins. The 50 cent has the obligatory Eagle on the reverse, but the $1 gold has two dolphins in a circular "swimming" style paying homage to ancient Sicilian Dekadrachms of Syracuse and the $2 1/2 gold has a Hippocampus or "Sea-Horse" depicted from Greek mythology combined with a Caduceus displaying 2 snakes. This commemorative themed coinage is quite different from the traditional symbols that had been shown previously on U.S. coinage.
John Salyer also correctly identified "the gorgeous 1915 Pan-Pac $50 gold commemorative" as another coin featuring an owl. -Editor
David Fanning writes:
The latest E-Sylum includes the following: "As a side topic I met a fellow at the well attended Alexandria Coin Show who asserts he can find no books that were printed in New Amsterdam, (Dutch) New York. The question posed is whether none were printed, or did none survive? Dutch printing press technology was later discouraged from export to the English, circa 1680, but does any E-Sylum reader know of any book published in New Amsterdam?"
The first printer in what is now New York was William Bradford, and while the identity of the first book printed in New York is somewhat debatable, it was one of a few books printed in 1693, nearly 20 years after the 1674 British takeover of what had been New Amsterdam.
Rich Mantia also responded to my query on the Snowden Coins of the Bible book. -Editor
Last week you asked as to whether any readers have a copy of James Ross Snowden's The Coins of the Bible and Its Money Terms book. In our family library we have a copy. It too is the second "enlarged" edition from 1866, however our copy has a red-brown binding whereas the one depicted in the E-sylum page is green.
Also, the image of the green copy appears that the center oval is void of words or decorations. The copy that we have is embossed in the oval like the field surrounding it with "PRESBYTERIAN" at the upper edge from 10 to 2 o'clock, "BOARD OF PUBLICATION" from 9 to 3 o'clock at the lower edge and both lines read left to right. In the center on an unrolled scroll it states "SERIES FOR YOUTH". This is the same decoration on both the front and back covers.
Our particular copy was a gift and is signed from Snowden to his daughter Louise on July 22, 1871 with a personal inscription for her. It is a great little book that is a short read with well done line drawings. It was a nice choice for you to bring with for the discussion.
You can only find this pleasure by turning the pages of an open vintage book and seeing a personal note from the author who held it in their hand. You'll never have that from an E-Book!
Below are side-by-side images of the covers of my green cloth copy and Rich's red-brown cloth copy. Interesting! Thanks for sharing this with us, Rich. Does anyone out there have a third binding variant? -Editor
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: WAYNE'S NUMISMATIC DIARY: MARCH 9, 2010 (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n11a20.html)
THE BOOK BAZARRE
A Philadelphia area newspaper published an obituary this week for a former member of the U.S. Assay Commission. Here are some excerpts. -Editor
Mr. Vottima graduated from South Philadelphia High School, and served in the Army during World War II. He saw action in the Pacific and rose from private to captain, his daughter Joyce Jeuell said.
He was a talented cartoonist and an enthusiastic gardener, and had an eye for color and design, Jeuell said. He often accompanied his two daughters when they shopped for clothes, including their wedding gowns.
To read the complete article, see: Peter F. Vottima, 91, banker and numismatist (www.philly.com/philly/obituaries/87745222.html)
Bibliophiles ought to appreciate the Abigail Fillmore First Spouse gold coin, which features the first lady shelving books in the first White House Library. -Editor
The Abigail Fillmore coin features the First Lady's portrait on the obverse designed by Phebe Hemphill. The reverse, designed by Susan Gamble, features an image of her shelving books at in the White House Library that she established. Abigail Fillmore was the First Lady during the Presidency of her husband Millard Fillmore.
To read the complete article, see:
Abigail Fillmore First Spouse Gold Coins
As the saying goes, Beware the Ides of March (Eid Mar). A rare and famous coin commemorating the assassination of Julius Caesar is now on display at the British Museum. -Editor
A unique gold coin celebrating the assassination of Julius Caesar, which may have been worn as a boastful talisman by one of the emperor's killers, will go on display at the British Museum tomorrow – the Ides of March, marking the 2,054th anniversary of his death.
The British Museum was first shown the coin in 1932 but couldn't afford to buy it. Many private owners later, it has now been loaned to the museum, and will be displayed for the first time.
Caesar was struck down at the Senate, stabbed 23 times, in 44BC. The coin was among those issued by Caesar's former friend and ally, Brutus, leader of the conspirators, after they fled to Greece.
Although 60 surviving examples of the silver version are known, including several in the museum's coins and medals collection, there were only believed to be two in gold. Experts now believe one of those is a fake, making the newly displayed treasure unique.
The coin shows the head of Brutus on one side and, on the other, two daggers and the date, Eid Mar, the Ides of March, which would forever after be regarded as unlucky. The daggers flank a pileus, a freeman's hat, symbolising the conspirators' insistance that in killing Caesar they were toppling a tyrant who threatened the future of the Roman republic.
The coin was punched with a hole shortly after it was minted, probably so it could be worn – certainly by a supporter, conceivably by one of the conspirators.
The swaggering imagery displayed on the coin was already famous in antiquity. In the second century AD, the Roman historian Cassius Dio wrote: "Brutus stamped upon the coins which were being minted in his own likeness and a cap and two daggers, indicating by this and by the inscription that he and Cassius had liberated the fatherland."
To read the complete article, see: Beware the Ides of March: 'Medal' for killing Caesar shows at British Museum (www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2010/mar/14/julius-caesar-coin-british-museum)
This week I received an E-Sylum submission in an unusual manner - it came in a letter through the U.S. Postal Service. How last-century. Still it was a nice surprise to get a note from Stack's. Inside was a page from the March 9, 2010 issue of USA Today, folded to an article with the headline, "Stolen valor is offensive, but is it a crime?" It's an opinion piece about the Stolen Valor Act, which criminalizes the display of unearned military award medals. I found the online version of the article, and here are some excerpts. Thanks to Dave Bowers for the submission. -Editor
Across the country, police are rounding up a growing class of felons: valor thieves. With two wars, valor has become a valuable commodity for individuals who want to skip enlistment and combat and go directly to the hero adoration stage. Under the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, it is a federal crime to claim unearned military decorations or medals. While widely popular, these prosecutions raise constitutional questions of free speech. From judges to admirals to bank employees, citizens are facing accusations of felonious bravado.
When President Bush signed the act into law, he was probably thinking of people such as Steve Burton. Burton, of Palm Springs, Calif., appeared at his high school reunion in 2009 in the uniform of a Marine lieutenant colonel supporting enough medals to make a Soviet general blush. Unfortunately for him, he ran into a former classmate who is a real Navy commander, and she reported the possible fraudulent medals, including a Purple Heart, Bronze Star and the Navy Cross. His claim to have fought in Afghanistan and Iraq also drew suspicion.
Burton actually works in a bank. He is one of many people who struggle to reinvent themselves in a more heroic image with the help of Internet sites selling uniforms, medals and ribbons. They are the modern-day Walter Mittys - bank tellers and office workers who want to snatch notoriety from the jaws of mediocracy.
From 2005 to 2009, federal prosecutors charged 48 people under the Stolen Valor Act.
While most people, no doubt, share the anger and disgust with people claiming such honors, the question is where to draw the line between free speech and criminal conduct. Citizens have a right to burn an American flag as a form of protected speech. However, if they do so while wearing a single falsely claimed medal, they can be prosecuted. If Congress can criminalize such claims, it could make half of the pick-up lines used in bars across the country crimes. It could theoretically criminalize other false claims from architects to accountants to anthropologists.
To read the complete article, see: Stolen valor is offensive (www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/2010-03-09-column09_ST_N.htm)
One of my favorite museums is the Bank of England museum in London, which I had the pleasure of visiting in 2007. A new exhibit there features the portraits of Queen Elizabeth II. -Editor
Although monarchs' heads have long adorned our coinage, it wasn't until 1960 that a youthful Elizabeth II's portrait was printed on the £1 note. This operated both as jolly royalist decoration, given the Bank of England had just been nationalised, and to foil forgers who weren't as adept at portraiture as the first designer, Robert Austin.
There have been 5 banknote portraits used to date. Austin (1960), Reynolds Stone (1963), two from Harry Ecclestone (1970 & 1971) and the latest by Roger Withington (1990). The new display features a combination of previously unseen sketches and artwork from the Bank's collections, including pencil drawings and rejected designs, printing plates and engraved woodblocks, beautifully detailed examples of lettering by successive designers and early unissued banknotes as well as letters and material relating to the five portraits of The Queen.
Twenty years on, is it high time for a new and gracefully aged representation of her Maj? Or is the Bank holding out for younger, sexier subjects?
"A Decoration and a Safeguard - The Portrait of the Monarch on Bank of England Notes" is at the Bank of England Museum, Bartholomew Lane EC2R until 4 June. Admission: Free of charge to all visitors. Open 10am-5pm, Monday to Friday.
To read the complete article, see: Bank Of England Museum: A Decoration And A Safeguard (londonist.com/2010/03/bank_of_england_museum_a_decoration.php)
A newspaper in Abu Dhabi published a profile of an artist whose work is seen on many Arabic banknotes. -Editor
Not many artists can say their work is owned by millions. Mohammed al Mandi, however, is among those select few.
He is one of the only master calligraphers in the Middle East. His angular designs can be found on every banknote in the UAE and Bahrain, as well as the passports of the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.
Whether it is through banknotes, passports or live shows, becoming a publicly accessible artist is the realization of a dream for the father of four.
"I never wanted to be an artist who only worked on commission for clients," he said. "I wanted as many people as possible to see my work. Now every person has my art in his pocket."
Al Mandi, 50, is known for his distinct style of overlapping words on canvas. He also teaches calligraphy at the National Theatre as part of a project run by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage.
But his proudest achievement was his art that was ingrained into public life, he said. He started designing money in 1999 with a Dh50 silver coin, released to mark the 30th anniversary of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
In 2005, he was approached on behalf of the Central Bank to design the Arabic script for the new Dh200 note. Soon after, he would add his mark to the rest of the country's paper money, and was commissioned to do the same for Bahrain's currency, as well as the 200 and 1,000 Syrian pound notes.
Al Mandi was drawn to the art form as a teenager. "I remember seeing [it] for the first time in a textbook when I was 15 years old. It was like looking at a picture, not letters or words. I was fascinated by its beauty."
He began reading stories about famous ancient calligraphers and buying books on the art.
"I began to absorb as much information as I could about calligraphy," he said. "I studied the proportion of the letters, which is the most important thing because you have to follow measurements for the writing to turn out correctly." Following in the footsteps of the living masters of the art at the time, al Mandi left the UAE after high school and enrolled in the Arabic Calligraphy Improvement School in Cairo.
To read the complete article, see: The artist in everyone's wallets (www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100320/NATIONAL/703199794/1041)
Dick Johnson forwarded this item from Sweden. -Editor
Sweden's small but vocal Republican Association said Tuesday it wants to see the profiles of kings disappear from on new Swedish coins and banknotes. "The portraits of kings are not in step with the times," the association said on the eve of a meeting of the central bank's General Council to review the designs of future banknotes and coins.
The Republican Association suggested that current banknotes such as the 500-kronor (71 dollars) one featuring King Charles XI (1655- 1697) should be replaced, citing that he hailed from an era of autocratic monarchy.
The association in 2007 made a similar call suggesting that the late author Astrid Lindgren or Lindgren's well-liked fictional character Pippi Longstocking should feature on the 1-krona coin instead of current King Carl XVI Gustaf.
The 20-kronor banknote depicts author Selma Lagerlof (1858-1940) who won the Nobel Literature prize 1909, the 50-kronor banknote features 19th century singer Jenny Lind while the 100-kronor bill features Swedish natural scientist Carl Linnaeus.
Read more: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/314371,swedens-republicans-want-to-abolish-royal-images-on-coins-notes.html#ixzz0irXQhBPq
To read the complete article, see:
Sweden's republicans want to abolish royal images on coins, notes
Loren Gatch writes:
Last December 6 you ran a little piece about North Korea's quixotic and self-defeating attempt to punish black-market 'speculators' by lopping two zeros off its currency. The effect of this policy instead was to throw into turmoil an already-impoverished economy.
The finance official responsible for this policy, Pak Nam-gi, was executed by firing squad last week for being "a son of a bourgeois conspiring to infiltrate the ranks of revolutionaries to destroy the national economy". Who knew?
While I don't advocate such flagrant abuses of due process, a little part of me has a sneaking admiration for such draconian standards of accountability. I can only imagine what the North Koreans would have done with, say, a central banker who had presided over a massive and destructive asset bubble in the housing market!
North Korea has executed a senior official blamed for currency reforms that damaged the already ailing economy and potentially affected the succession, a news agency in South Korea reported today.
Pak Nam-gi was killed by firing squad last week, said Yonhap, citing multiple sources. The Workers party chief for planning and the economy had not been seen in public since January.
The 77-year-old was put to death as "a son of a bourgeois conspiring to infiltrate the ranks of revolutionaries to destroy the national economy", the agency said.
But it reported that many North Koreans did not believe the explanation, citing one source who said: "The mood is the leadership has made Pak Nam-gi a scapegoat."
The International Crisis Group (ICG) described the currency revaluation as "disastrous" in a report released this week.
The reform appeared to be aimed at reasserting state control over the economy, curbing inflation and tackling corruption.
Although people were allowed to exchange currency – at a rate of 100 to one – only a small amount could be changed. That wiped out the savings of slightly better off North Koreans who had managed to put aside money through trading.
Food prices soared as uncertainty over contradictory policies led to hoarding, the ICG said. By mid-January there were reports of rising deaths from starvation, thought to have prompted the release of emergency food supplies.
To read the complete article, see: North Korean finance chief executed for botched currency reform (www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/18/north-korean-executed-currency-reform)
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: ANGRY NORTH KOREANS BURN BANKNOTES IN PROTEST (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v12n49a16.html)
This week's Featured Web page is recommended by John and Nancy Wilson of Ocala, FL. They write: "We found it looking for information on Joseph Mickley." Part of Jon Alan Boka's Provenance Gallery of the Year 1794 site, the page features "390 biographical sketches of large cent personalities."
Though not by any means complete, this collection of names comprises many collectors and dealers, both past and present, who have demonstrated varying degrees of interest in early coppers.