The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. For more information please see our web site at


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David M. Sundman, Treasurer
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
P. O. Box 82 Littleton, NH 03561


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Wayne Homren

Dave Ginsburg was the winner of the review copy of the book From the Silver Czech Tolar to a Worldwide Dollar. Thanks also for offers from Les Citrome and Mark Fox.

New subscribers this week include Chriss Hoffman, James Toogood, and John Mercanti. Welcome aboard! We have 1,709 email subscribers.

This week we open with word of a new price list from Bryce Brown, two new numismatic books and two reviews. Other topics include the next auction instalments of the Eric P. Newman collection, Al Wick's collecting and publishing juggernaut, and the Saddle Ridge gold coin hoard.

To learn more about Dave Bowers' latest book, the 1786 Landscape Vermont Copper, Magdeleine Mocquot's bicentennial medal, the 1870 French Anti-Napoleon III satirical issues, translating Latin coin terms, Walter Dimmick's San Francisco Mint heist, and the new Wookey Hole Mill watermark, read on. Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Editor, The E-Sylum


Numismatic literature dealer Bryce Brown forwarded this announcement of his upcoming fixed price list. -Editor

I will soon be distributing a private price list of outstanding numismatic literature. The list will be made available to anyone who forwards me their email address, and will be distributed in advance of being publicly posted.

The literature that will be available consists of an unusually comprehensive run of auction catalogs and periodicals from the early 20th century through the late 1930’s. I’ve always found this material to be tough to find, and I’m thrilled to make it available.

Highlights include:

  • Thomas Elder (115 sales)
  • United States Coin Co. (auctions & periodicals nearly complete)
  • Wayte Raymond, all other sales (nearly complete)
  • A nice run of rare Guttag Coin Bulletins
  • Nearly all early ANA Convention sales Chapman brothers (50+ sales, some plated)
  • “First” auction sales of James Kelly, Stack’s, French, Bluestone, Chapman, etc.
  • Cogan’s 1874 Sanford sale, plated
  • A handful of Gengerke-unlisted items

Contact me at or through my website:


Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing forwarded this release about the new edition of Dave Bowers' classic book, Coins and Collectors. Thanks! -Editor

Whitman Publishing announces the release of Coins and Collectors: Golden Anniversary Edition, marking the 50th year since the best-selling original was published. The 416-page hardcover book is illustrated in full color and retails for $29.95. It will debut at the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo, March 30, 2014, and then will be available from hobby shops and bookstores nationwide, as well as online (including at

“This volume comes from a very distinguished family,” writes historian Joel J. Orosz in the foreword. “Its father was More Adventures With Rare Coins (2002); its grandfather was Adventures With Rare Coins (1979); and its great-granddaddy was the original Coins and Collectors, from way back in 1964. Many of today’s collectors owe their enthusiasm for coins to cracking open one of these volumes, and getting hooked on their fascinating stories.”

In more than 50 illustrated chapters, Bowers—the “Dean of American Numismatics”—tells of famous coins, obscure and mysterious tokens and medals, beautiful paper money, and legendary hoards and collections. A “Collector’s Appendix” gives the market values of the items discussed. Bowers shares the stories behind popular favorites and modern-day classics. He introduces the reader to personalities including famous coin designers, unscrupulous Treasury officials, brilliant scholars, Confederate raiders, burlesque dancers, globe-trotting magicians, and dueling numismatists. Coins and Collectors includes interviews, stories, and images never before seen in print.

“Nearly all of the Golden Anniversary Edition’s stories are new,” Bowers notes, “spiced with a few reprises of favorites from articles and books I’ve written.”

Coins and Collectors brings to life many different coins, tokens, medals, and bank notes,” says Whitman publisher Dennis Tucker, “from the readily available and easily affordable to expensive rarities. Their stories are told with Bowers’s unique personal touch, and he shares insider information not available anywhere else. Like many of his best-sellers, Coins and Collectors is an addictive read! We feel it will capture the imaginations of a whole new generation of collectors.”

Coins and Collectors: Golden Anniversary Edition
By Q. David Bowers; foreword by Joel J. Orosz
ISBN 0794842720
Hardcover, 8.5 x 11 inches
416 pages
Full color
Retail $29.95 U.S.

For more information, or to order, see:

I can't say I was actively collecting coins in 1964, but Coins and Collectors was one of the first numismatic books I read and I found it fascinating. I'm looking forward to the new one! -Editor


The Coin & Currency Institute has published a new book on the history of gold coins and gold currencies. Here's the press release. -Editor

MoneyThatChangedTheWorld Money that Changed the World – A History of Gold Coins and Gold Currencies
By Svein H. Gullbekk, Professor of Numismatics, Oslo University

Professor Svein H. Gullbekk is an internationally renowned numismatist who gives enthusiastic lectures about coins and medals across Europe. Dr. Gullbekk brings the enthusiasm and knowledge from his lectures into a just-published hard cover book, which is the first ever to detail the history of gold coins and gold currencies in one volume. “I noticed when I was preparing for my lectures and speeches that it was difficult to find a single book which covered the whole history of gold coins and gold currencies. There were many books about a single country´s or region´s coins and coinage, but not one which in a readable, factual and simple way covered a more general perspective for gold coins and currencies,” Gullbekk explains.

Gold coinages and gold currencies constitute one of the building blocks of human societies, intrinsic to urbanization, state formation, the development of commerce, and the prosecution of war. Few artifacts follow the history of mankind more closely than the coins that for 2,500 years have been used by kingdoms, states and ecclesiastical magnates.

Money that Changed the World – A History of Gold Coins and Gold Currencies traces the history of these gold coins from the year 625 BC all the way to Hitler´s hunt for gold during the Second World War. This book is the result of many years of studies into gold coins and currencies. It is richly illustrated and intended not only for experts, but for any reader who is interested in history, culture and gold currencies. The hardback 9 x 6 inch book's 234 pages include 196 color illustrations. It was published in Oslo by Scribendarius (2014). The ISBN is 978-82-999453-0-1

Sample pages from the book’s website, may be seen at by clicking on the image of the book.

It is available in North America from the Coin & Currency Institute, P.O. Box 399, Williston, Vermont 05495 for US$69.50. $5.75 should be added to each order for shipping and handling. Secure on-line ordering is available at www:// Major credit cards are accepted. Call toll-free 1-800-421-1866. Fax (802) 536-4787. E-mail: Delivery is expected by the end of March.


About the author:

Svein H. Gullbekk is Professor of Numismatics at the Museum of Cultural History, Oslo University. He has published several books and articles on numismatics, and the history of money as well as a series of books for the general public. He is currently leading an international research project on “Religion and Money: Economy of Salvation in the Middle Ages”, funded by the Norwegian Research Council.

For more information, or to order, see:


John and Nancy Wilson submitted this review of the new edition of Collecting Confederate Paper Money, Field Edition 2014, by Pierre Fricke. Thanks! -Editor

Collecting Confederate Paper Money 2014 Collecting Confederate Paper Money, Field Edition 2014, The Standard Guide to Confederate Money, By Pierre Fricke, Reviewed by John and Nancy Wilson

This new reference on Collecting Confederate Paper Money, Field Edition released in January, 2014 by Pierre Fricke updates his Field Edition published in 2008. This 2014 edition is hardback (6X9), in full color with 576 pages. It has new updated prices, which include slabbed pieces from PMG and PCGS and includes an excellent blueprint for each type. It also includes pricing for the Trans-Mississippi reissued notes along with the easy to use, “type picture ID appendix for beginners,” with updated commentary on the market, and an improved photo grade section. Pierre Fricke explains the different updates in this book from the 2008 reference.

He discusses his purchases using the old Grover Criswell reference and learning from Dr. Douglas Ball and others.

The Market in 2003-2013. Pierre Fricke takes you through the ups and downs of the market during these years. He said he sold his CSA type collection in 2004 and that the market was weak in 2005. When his reference “Collecting Confederate Paper Money” was released in 2005 it changed the market. His market analysis comes from coin shows, auctions, price lists and interaction with other collectors and dealers.

The “Story of Collecting Confederate Paper Money,” by Stephen Goldsmith, is a repeat of the information that was contained in the 2005 Pierre Fricke reference. Mr. Goldsmith reminisces about his close friendship and working alongside Dr. Douglas Ball and others. After Dr. Ball passed away, Goldsmith brought in Pierre Fricke to help catalog the Gene Mintz collection of Confederate notes.

The author covers several ways of collecting such as a Type Set which would consist of one example of each of the 70 officially-issued major types. He feels that before you buy your first note you should have certain references and he covers them. He also thinks you should consider your goals, join paper money organizations and most importantly learn about modern fakes and bogus notes and others.

Mr. Fricke covers the catalog systems that were used in the 19th Century and discusses the numbering systems of Chase, Criswell, Bradbeer and how this reference is needed if you are going to collect CSA notes.

The issue series explains the Acts which approved the seven different Series of CSA notes that were issued. Notes of a particular type all share a single major design, date of issue and denomination combination, and is indicated by a “T,” followed by the number. This is the Criswell type numbering system. The few possible types that are unknown are mentioned along with the comment that there have been no new type discoveries in many decades.

Fricke defines varieties as a unique combination of differentiated obverse plate and paper types. He says that, literally thousands of minor differences will be found within the types and varieties of CSA money. This reference focuses on significant historical and new varieties. Minor variations are beyond the scope of this work. The author summarizes the “major new varieties” such as the new Wookey Hole Mill watermark, Whatman wartermark, and inverted back discoveries.

Printing and Man-Made Errors explains what these interesting errors are. The few different types of paper employed by Confederate printers are also listed. Watermarks are words, numbers or symbols embedded into paper to help deter counterfeiting. Nine enlarged figures show you what the watermarks will look like when held up to a light. Information on the companies that produced the notes along with the firm's biographies is given. The three methods that printers used to print notes are lithography, typography and intaglio which are covered under plate layouts.

Collecting Sheets of Confederate Notes explains how sheets were made and how they are graded. He discusses how counterfeit notes were produced as souvenirs or to be placed in circulation as the real thing to disrupt the CSA finances. The types of dangerous counterfeits are listed along with their creators.

Some backs are printed on genuine Confederate notes that are believed not to be contemporary to the period. The author then explains that these (backs) were added by various third parties after the war for purposes mostly unknown.

Modern Facsimiles and Bogus Issues, Advertising Notes and Confederate Bonds close out this section. Facsimiles were created during the War and are known as contemporary counterfeits. The “Confederate Treasury” publishes a type set of CSA notes that the author says has a remarkable likeness to real money and will help you compare your notes to the examples on their pages. The site is located at:

After the war, many merchants printed advertising on the back of the uniface notes. The author says that around 1900, facsimiles of Confederate paper money with advertising began to appear and are readily discernible from real Confederate paper money. Confederate bonds mentions that Dr. Douglas Ball published the landmark Comprehensive Catalog and History of Confederate Bonds in 1998. Pierre Fricke includes an updated rarity and price guide for Confederate bonds in Appendix A.

The Two Dimensions of Grading and Technical Grading. Taken together, the author explains the technical part of grading which is the state of a note due to circulation and the other is eye appeal such as, folds, tears, badly trimmed, ink burns through notes, stains, repairs, alterations or other impairments.

Collector-Oriented Grading and Market-Oriented Grading is explained. The collector-oriented grading is designed to differentiate notes, especially at the high end, so that collectors get a clear picture of the note. The market-oriented grading will tend to push notes up the grading scale anywhere from half, to one and a half grades, though it also may yield the same grade as collector oriented grading in some cases.

PCGS, PMG and other grading services are covered with illustrations (face and back) of notes from gem uncirculated new 66 to Very Good 8 and what to look for in determining the grade of the note. Condition Qualifiers describe the eye appeal and overall appearance of a note.

Cancelled Notes are illustrated along with the kinds of cancellations.

Condition Census – The “Top Guns” covers a listing of the finest known examples by type and variety in a ranked order. A rarity table from R-1 100,000+ known – very common right up to R-16 (None Seen and None seen in living memory) is given. Rare varieties would be represented in Rarity 10 to 16 and Non Collectibles designation is something all of us wish we would find.

A price guide for PCGS and PMG graded notes is included in this reference. The fascinating venue of Ebay for purchasing and selling, and their policies including grading are talked about.

Collecting Confederate Paper Money Today – A Closer Look covers the different ways people are collecting CSA paper money and costs associated with putting together a 70-note type set. Some collectors assemble an 1864, 1863 or 1862 Type Collection(s) or a 64 Major Type Note Collection. The “Great Rarity” Collection is also mentioned and the author states nobody has yet completed this set.

Trans-Mississippi Re-Issues is a well done section that gives you all the available information on them. Several enlarged illustrations will also help you to determine if any of your notes have the Re-Issued stamp and or if you want to collect them what to look for. Mysterious Date Stamps and the Trans-Mississippi explains the red date stamp which will be found on these notes. The Trans-Mississippi Catalog and Values for the known types is given.

The Summary of Ways to Collect CSA Paper Money gives the reader the approximate number of people who completed their sets. One way is a type set of Dec. 1862, April 1863, or Feb. 1864 series.

THE CATALOG contains the 70 different regular issue types along with the two mysterious “fantasy” notes and is the “nuts and bolts” of this reference. It contains the most comprehensive list of Confederate currency. For all 72 Types you will find, authorization dates, excellent illustrations, known serial numbers, collector and market prices, rarities, dates, grades, tips, survival rates, and grading service prices (from VG to Unc).

Appendix A – Confederate Bonds contains Grading CSA Bonds and Trans-Mississippi Bonds. The only other reference that lists Confederate bonds is the Dr. Douglas Ball reference which was published by BNR Press in 1998. Mr. Fricke updates that reference with current values in conditions from good and very good up to extra fine. The Ball and Criswell numbering system have the prices given along with a Fricke Rarity guide.

Appendix B – Pages from Dr. Ball’s Original Manuscript. These four pages out of the 300-page manuscript represent some of Dr. Ball’s research on Confederate paper money.

Appendix C – A comparison of grading styles. The columns have the grade presented and style of grading.

Appendix D – A variety number cross-reference. All the Criswell and Fricke Type numbers are listed along with the number’s which have been delisted.

Appendix E - Quick Finder The face of all the types are illustrated in color, including the fantasy female riding reindeer.

About the Author – Pierre Fricke After 35 years as a collector and dealer is considered an expert in the field of Confederate paper money. He also has collected in other fields including Fugio cents by Newman number, 1796 cents by Sheldon variety, Civil War-era US large type notes, and others.

The reference is well laid out in an easy to read and understand manner. We know that our small type collection of CSA paper money will now have new numbers and current prices placed on the holders. The price postpaid is $40, and you can ask for a personalized and signed copy. For information on purchasing this reference, you can contact the author: Pierre Fricke, P. O. Box 1094, Sudbury, MA 01776 or visit or Email –

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With permission, below is a republication of Len Augsburger's review of the new Kevin Flynn seated Dollar book, from the March 2014 issue of the E-Gobrecht, an electronic publication of the Liberty Seated Collector's Club (LSCC). Thanks! -Editor

The Curious Collector
by Len Augsburger, LSCC #1271
Dollar Book Review

Flynn Liberty Seated Dollars This month we look at Kevin Flynn's latest book, The Authoritative Reference on Liberty Seated Dollars. Liberty Seated dollars in general are not as well covered in the current literature as other denominations of seated coinage. The reason is obvious - they are scarce, expensive, and variety collecting is not for the faint of wallet. It's not quite as severe as collecting double eagles by die variety, but you get the idea.

By coincidence, I note that the current Heritage sale, the Spring ANA in Atlanta, features well over a hundred Liberty Seated dollars, many of them damaged. I haven't seen the coins, or know who consigned them (perhaps one of our eagle-eyed E-Gobrecht readers can tell us), but this has the hallmarks of a die variety study. Problem coins are, of course, cheaper, and in many cases the researcher has no choice - new varieties don't come in grading sets where you get to pick and choose. This is sometimes referred to as "taking one for the team," i.e., you buy a coin you don't necessarily want because of the compulsion to complete the research.

Flynn's book does not go down that path. This is not an a detailed guide to Liberty Seated dollar die varieties. The grapevine indicates that Dick Osburn and Brian Cushing are busily engaged on that front, and we eagerly await the fruits of their labors. What we have here is rather a mixture of topics. The most valuable contribution, and the reason I bought the book, is the reproduction of U.S. Mint correspondence related to Liberty Seated coinage. This section (Appendix A) is fully one-third of the book, and with an 8.5x11 format using small font, you get a lot of bang for your buck. This presents the background on the origin and evolution of seated coinage, and to have all this material gathered together in one place is worth the price of admission.

Flynn has included an analysis of doubled obverse and reverse dies, as well as misplaced and repunched dates. The photography in this section of the book is well done and the features described are readily visible. This is not like one of the math textbooks where the writer says things like "it is clear that...," when it is not clear at all, and especially not to the mathematically impaired like me. Flynn worked with institutional collections - the Smithsonian and the American Numismatic Society - to help put this material together.

There are also specialized essays here from other experts - John Dannreuther tackles the issue of 1853 proof restrikes, while Ron Guth has written up the so-called "1851-O" Liberty Seated dollar. To these "hot topics" Flynn adds additional sections on the 1851 and 1852 restrikes, the 1866 no motto dollar, and the San Francisco issues of 1870 and 1873.

The weakest section of the book is the date-by- date analysis, which does not include much information that is not available elsewhere. If you are actively putting together a date and mintmark set of Liberty Seated dollars, your best tools will be the Heritage auction prices archives, the PCGS and NGC population reports, and a good relationship with a dealer specializing in this area. On the other hand, if you are interested in learning more of the background of Liberty Seated coinage, and in getting a look at the original documents, this book belongs in your library.

To order your copy, contact Kevin Flynn at


Saul Teichman forwarded a link to the gallery of images of the Eric P. Newman colonial coins at the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) web site. Thanks. I've selected a few coins below. -Editor

1616 Large Porthole Sommer Islands Sixpence

Newman 1616 Large Porthole s Sommer Islands Sixpence obverse Newman 1616 Large Porthole s Sommer Islands Sixpence reverse

1722 Hibernia Farthing

Newman 1722 Hibernia Farthing obverse Newman 1722 Hibernia Farthing reverse

1786 Landscape Vermont Copper

Newman 1786 Landscape Vermont Copper obverse Newman 1786 Landscape Vermont Copper reverse

(1785) 'USA' Bar Copper

Newman (1785) 'USA' Bar Copper obverse Newman (1785) 'USA' Bar Copper reverse

To view the NGC Newman image gallery, see: The Eric P. Newman Collection (


Meanwhile, Heritage Auctions has announced a series of Internet sales for more of the Eric P. Newman world coins. Here are a few selections. -Editor

Lot 15009: Austria Franz II 7 Kreuzer 1802

Lot 15009 Austria Franz II 7 Kreuzer 1802 obverse Lot 15009 Austria Franz II 7 Kreuzer 1802 reverse

Lot 15096 Alsace. Leopold V Taler 1624

Lot 15096 Alsace. Leopold V Taler 1624 obverse Lot 15096 Alsace. Leopold V Taler 1624 reverse

Lot 15302 Sweden Carl XII copper Daler 1718

Lot 15302 Sweden Carl XII copper Daler 1718 obverse Lot 15302 Sweden Carl XII copper Daler 1718 reverse

To view the next Heritage Newman Internet sale, see: Monthly World and Ancient Coin Auction - Selections from the Eric P. Newman Collection #241410 (


Dick Johnson submitted this information on the nice medal I illustrated last week. Bob Neale chimed in as well. Thanks! -Editor

Presidents medal obverse Presidents medal reverse

Howard Daniel's medal illustrated in last week's E-Sylum was struck at the Paris Mint. I'll wager you will receive half a dozen or more correct statements of that fact by savvy E-Sylum readers. But there is so much more of interest about this medal.

It was created by French sculptor medallist Magdeleine Henriette Mocquot (1910-?). Ironically a similar medal of the same name -- United States Proclamation of Independence Medal -- struck in the same year by the Paris Mint, 1976, was the work of Francois Anger. Madeleine Mocquet had been modelling medals for the Paris Mint since the end of World War II (three dozen of hers are listed in the Paris Mint Catalog); Anger's first Paris Mint medal was in 1971.

Magdeleine Mocquot's medal was struck in bronze and silver (Paris Mint Catalog M4460). It is marked with the cornucopia mintmark and 1976 date. The silver is edgemarked ARGENT. In addition to its 80mm size for sale to the general public, it was also offered in a larger 92mm size in the Paris Mint's Edution de francois de la Medaille with 100 in silver and 400 in bronze.

America's Bicentennial was the subject of six medals produced by the Paris Mint that centennial year. In addition they restruck the Libertas Amricana Medal from Augustin Dupre's 1782 original design with a 1976 edgemark. [In contrast that same year, the U.S. Mint struck it in pewter in miniature size.]

These medals were accepted by Paris Mint Director Pierre DeHaye who can be acclaimed as the most enthusiastic supporter of the Modern Art Medal. During his heyday at the Mint he was accepting and placing into production one new art medal a day! -- more than 250 a year! He encouraged world medallists to submit models. This progressed and attracted such famous artists -- like Dali -- to create medals which today are classed by the art world as Medallic Objects.

As for Magdeleine Mocquot's tribute medal to America's Bicentennial, it is in the collections of the American Numismatic Society (accessible by the number 1981.42.22). The other five are in their collections as well: Rene Merelle (1981.42.2); William Schiffer(1941.42.3) ; Daniel Ponce (1981.42.4); Frederique Maillart (1981.42.11) and Francois Anger's medal (1981.42.13).

Because Magdeleine Mocquot's medal bears a portrait of Benjamin Franklin it is cataloged in Phil Greenslet's 1993 Franklin book as GM-256.

But most amazing of all, because it bears a portrait of George Washington, it is listed in Russ Rulau and George Fuld's revised edition of Baker's Washington medals -- not once, but TWICE! It is listed first as B421 on page 189, and as B435 on page 193. (Same for Anger's medal,A421 and A435.)

This was the result of both author's insistence to follow Baker's original topical scheme of cataloging. A number of medal enthusiasts, myself included, pleaded with the authors to abandon Baker's topical arrangement and list all Washington medals chronologically in one long list. This would have caught and eliminated such pesky duplications..

Bob Neale writes:

I was struck by the stunning medal "Declaration of Independence," pictured as obtained on eBay, because of the depiction of Mr. Jefferson. Most numismatic images of TJ do not portray him as the lean faced, sharp featured man with flowing hair one sees on the medal. But a portrait from life by Charles Wilson Peale (1791) of TJ at age 48 as Sec of State is quite similar to that on the medal and has always struck me as probably more realistic than the much more frequently encountered depictions by Rembrandt Peale (1800) and Gilbert Stuart (1805; on the $2 bill). I once thought about writing up my wish to see TJ on a new $2 bill (for Paper Money), but using one of several other portrait possibilities; I never got around to it.

By the way, why not consider a special recognition to E-Sylum new member No.1776, perhaps a copy of the Declaration of Independence - also signed by yourself? Won't be long now if you continue your superb job of publishing perhaps the most interesting and timely literary adventure in numismatics.

I dunno - sounds like more work to me. Besides, I try not to be U.S.-centric, despite our high percentage of U.S. readers. It's not an anniversary celebrated by our British friends (I know, having spent a July 4th in London one year). The 1,000 mark was a huge milestone, but now I'm shooting for 2,000. Many thanks to everyone who's referred a friend to become a reader - we get many of our subscribers by personal referral. -Editor

Ron Ward writes:

By now you have probably received comments about the large French medal mentioned on Sunday. It is listed by Rulau and Fuld in their "Medallic Portraits of Washington" on page 189 as Baker 421, "French Bicentennial". A full description is provided, but no illustration. So your illustration will be quite useful. I purchased one in a Williamsburg bookshop about 10 years ago for my Washingtonia collection.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE MEDAL (


Regarding the 1870 French Anti-Napoleon III satirical issues, Paul Bosco writes:

With the loss of a war to Prussia, Napoleon III's political fortunes were overturned faster than you could say "Chris Christie." Circulating coins, all of which bore his portrait, were satirically re-engraved in great numbers. After a time, pieces were struck, imitating the engraved ones.

The authors van Peteghem and Brichaut published a catalog, I think in 1872, of all the French medals and tokens related to the disastrous war. The authors, from Belgium, were the manufacturers and marketers of many of the pieces.

Michel Prieur kindly forwarded a link to some 125 examples from his web site. Thanks! -Editor

Anti-Napoleon III satirical issues from

To view the complete set of results, see:,EB24D125833FC433.html

To read the earlier E-Syum article, see: NAPOLEON VAMPIRE TOKENS (


Inside The E-Sylum Subscriber Count
Fred Michaelson writes:

According to "Wayne's Words," in the 2/2 issue there were 1,691 members. In the 2/9 issue we added 5 members for a total of 1,697. In the 2/16 issue we added 7 members for a total of 1,704. In the 2/23 issue we added 1 member for a total of 1,706. Is something wrong here?

Well, it's not as simple as you might think. Fred's adding apples to oranges and getting pears. The only meaningful number is the member count, which comes from our mailing list administration page. That tells us how many active email addresses are on the mailing list as of our publication date. But the difference between these numbers is the NET change in subscribers for the week, and that includes addresses ADDED and REMOVED from the list.

I publish names of new subscribers when I can, but all I see is their email address. If that includes their full name, then I've got something to publish. If their address is I've got nothing to publish. So those lists of new subscribers are rarely all-inclusive. Also, I don't publish anything when an email address drops off the list. Usually that's because someone moves to a new email address and issues sent to the old one start bouncing. The system purges these bad addresses periodically. -Editor

The 3rd Printing Softbound Taxay
In a follow-up to our earlier discussion of George Kolbe's article about the dust jacket sticker on Taxay's Counterfeit, Mis-Struck, and Unofficial U.S. Coins, Fred Michaelson writes:

Taxay 3rd printing The Taxay book came. No Pittman. No sticker. It's the third printing (paperback---1975). I think I mis-understood what George Kolbe said. He referred to the first two hard cover issues and the last two soft cover printings. My elementary-school brain took this to mean that there were more than two hardbound issues and more than two softbound issues. Now I guess he meant there are only the two hardbounds and only the two softbounds. Is that right?

I put the question to George, who succinctly answered "Yes". -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: FEBRUARY 16, 2014 : The Sticky Sticker Situation (

On Reading Arabic numbers
$20 bill with Arabic stamp In The E-Sylum of 2/23/2014, Chip Howell wrote:

"While Arabic reads right-to-left, their numbers read left-to-right, like ours. Not sure why!"

Yossi Dotan has an answer! See below. -Editor

I found the answer to Chip's comment in Richard Plant's Arabic Coins and How to Read Them (London: Seaby, 1980), p .7:

All Arabic is written from right to left, but in the case of numbers this is cancelled out by the fact that Arabs speak of them the opposite way round from the way we do. 754 is to them "Four and fifty and seven hundred", ٤ and ٥٠ and ٧٠٠, which is put together and written in their usual way from right to left as ٧٥٤. This means that for practical purposes Arabic numerals are "the right way round" as far as we are concerned.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: MORE CHOPMARKS ON MODERN U.S. PAPER MONEY (

Translating Latin Coin Terms
Paul Cunningham writes:

The article on numismatics terms made me think of an interesting book from my library: Alexander Wenzel's Auflosungen lateinischer Legended auf Munzen und Medaillen (1974, Klinkhardt & Biermann, Braunsch Weig). What it does for the reader is translate the Latin on your old coins and medals to German and English. I've had to turn down several offers for the book!

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: FORUM ANCIENT COINS TRANSLATION PAGES (

Wass, Molitor $20 Photo Found
Dave Stone writes:

Thanks for running my question about the Wass, Molitor Large Head twenty. Dan Hamelberg got in touch with me and gave me the information I needed. Thanks for everything!

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: FEBRUARY 16, 2014 : Photo Of Yale Specimen of Wass, Molitor $20 Sought (

Dave Alexander on Slabbing Medals
Dave Alexander writes:

Slabbing of medals proved to be even more of a mixed "blessing" than it has been for coins. The first wave a few years ago saw slabbing of innumerable So-Called Dollars, including World's Columbian Exposition material in White Metal and Aluminum going, however briefly, for amazing amounts. This wave soon reached the beach and evaporated among more widely experienced numismatists.

The massive slabs for large diameter medals (60 to 100mm) soon were dubbed "slabs on steroids" and were fascinating even if the presented a challenge for storage. I believe we may say the jury is still out on medal slabbing!

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: DICK JOHNSON ON SLABBING HISTORICAL MEDALS (

More on Brad Troemel's eBay Project
Regarding Brad Troemel's eBay art project, Ralf Böpple writes:

I think the confusion comes from the different approach to the deed that the coin artist has from that of your everyday eBay con artist (nice word play, by the way - might it be more than just coincidence?)

A con artist does it to trick people out of their money. The coin artist sees the whole process as an art performance that is not done with the purpose of earning money. Some might call it art, others a criminal act; I would settle for utterly naive...

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: EDWIN JOHNSTON ON BRAD TROEMEL'S EBAY ART PROJECT (

Aruba's 2014 Carnaval Coin
Pabitra Saha writes:

The Centrale Bank van Aruba have announced a new coin which marks the 60th year of Carnival in this Caribbean island country. It has been said by carnival aficionados that you have not lived until you have experienced the spirit of Carnival as it is celebrated in Aruba.

Aruba Carnival coin

I don't often care for colorized coins, but this explosion of color seems to work well in the context of Carnaval. Bon Ton Roulet! -Editor

Query: Tonan Maru Medal Edge Inscription Translation Sought

Tonan Maru medal obverse Tonan Maru medal reverse

Dick Hanscom writes:

I bought a medal on eBay and could use some help from E-Sylum readers in translating the edge description. The Tonan Maru was originally a Whaling Factory Ship but was pressed into service by the Imperial Japanese Navy as an oil tanker. It was torpedoed 4 times during WWII, and finally sunk on the 4th time.

A local guy (an American Japanese with no knowledge of Japanese characters) got the obverse and reverse translated for me. He is a local historian who I see maybe once a year, but he stopped in the other day. Unfortunately, I forgot to have him look at the edge.

I am pretty sure that it is a makers mark.

tonan edge2

To view a web page of Japanese Ship Launching Medals, see: Japan Ship Launching Commemorative Medals (

Franklin-Monthyon Medal
Howard Daniel forwarded another interesting Franklin medal found on eBay. Thanks! The seller describes it as a "Benjamin Franklin & Monthyon - Medal - 1833 by Barre".

1833 Barre Benjamin Franklin medal obverse 1833 Barre Benjamin Franklin medal reverse

To view the eBay lot description, see: United States - Benjamin Franklin & Monthyon - Medal - 1833 by Barre (

Pricing the Kew Gardens 50 Pence
David Pickup writes:

Kew Gardens coin Just how much is a Kew 50 pence piece worth? There has been a lot of media interest this week. I remembered seeing one of these in my local dealer’s stock so I had a look to see if he still had it.

He still had one and I asked what he wanted. It was not for sale, he said. He had been offered one by a member of the public for £50.00 pounds last week. Another customer who overheard the conversation who I think must work in a bank had got their trainees to search through bags of 50 pence coins and had not found one.

What are worth? Time will tell. The last one the dealer sold was £7.00. My guess is the price will settle back to less than ten pounds. Media interest or hype?

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: BRITONS SEARCH FOR RARE KEW GARDENS 50P COIN (

Archives International logo

Archives International Auctions, Part XVII

Rare U.S. & Worldwide Banknotes, Scripophily, Security Printing Ephemera, Further Selections From the Hamtramck Collection & Part 1 of the Scarsdale Collection of Modern African Banknotes

March 11th 2014 at our offices in Fort Lee, NJ

Highlights include:

  • Lot 102 Banco de Quito. 5 Pesos. 1880. Pick #S242 Unlisted as issued note
  • Lot 704 Essay Proof of Merchants National Bank of Chicago - a rare essay proof of original issue national banknote
  • Lot 394 Central African Republic, 5000 Francs, P-11
  • Lot 837 Crescent Mutual Insurance Co., ca.1850's Specimen Stock Certificate

Lot 56 Shanghai, China $10

1580 Lemoine Avenue, Suite #7
Fort Lee, NJ 07024
Phone: 201-944-4800


The big numismatic story this week was of course, the announced find of buried gold coins in California. I first saw an Associated Press story on Tuesday afternoon:

A Northern California couple out walking their dog on their Gold Country property stumbled across a modern-day bonanza: $10 million in rare, mint-condition gold coins buried in the shadow of an old tree.

Nearly all of the 1,427 coins, dating from 1847 to 1894, are in uncirculated, mint condition, said David Hall, co-founder of Professional Coin Grading Service of Santa Ana, which recently authenticated them. Although the face value of the gold pieces only adds up to about $27,000, some of them are so rare that coin experts say they could fetch nearly $1 million apiece.

To read the complete article, see:
California couple finds $10 million in rare coins while out walking dog (

About 60 seconds later I got a copy of the press release from Donn Pearlman, on behalf of PCGS and Kagin's. It had less information than the AP article, but more could be found on the Kagin's web site:

Saddle Ridge buried_gold In California’s gold country, the legend of buried treasure has become one family’s reality. While taking their dog on his daily walk across their property, a couple noticed a partially buried can jutting out of the ground.

Using a stick, they were able to dislodge the can and decided to carry it back to their house. The can was unusually heavy, but nothing could have prepared them for what they would find when they pried the lid open: mixed in with dirt and stones, they could see the edges of numerous U.S. $20 gold pieces—a literal pot of gold!

They returned to the site and immediately located the remains of another can, buried a bit deeper and about a foot to the left of the first can. Rust had consumed about half of the can’s sides, exposing another cache of gold coins. Repeated trips to the site (and the help of a metal detector) eventually uncovered a total of eight cans filled with over 1,400 rare U.S. gold coins.

To read the complete articles, see:
The Saddle Ridge Treasure of U.S. Gold Coins (
California Family Discovers Buried Treasure – Hidden Cache of 19th Century U.S. Gold Coins May Be Most Valuable Hoard Unearthed in North America (

The articles were all dated Tuesday, February 25th. One was in the form of an interview with finders "John" and "Mary":

John: We knew better than to go to any local pawn broker with the coins to put them on the market, we knew better than that.

Mary: What we really appreciated was that from the outset, David [McCarthy of Kagin’s Inc.] very much wanted us to know everything we could about our coins. He didn’t ever try to say, “These really aren’t anything.” He let us know right away that they were special and told us various stories about the different dates. One thing that he said that stuck with us was the idea of honoring the whole group, instead of selling a little bit at a time over time, even though it is more risky for us personally. The history of the coins as a hoard is important.

To read the complete article, see:
Hoard Interview (

Bill Rosenblum in Colorado was the first to forward the story to me. Dick Hanscom in Alaska had gotten a mailing from Kagin's and forwarded a link to a London Daily Mail article:

John and Mary are a self-employed couple in their 40s. 'The family and the attorneys researched who might have put them there, and they came up with nothing,' Kagin said.

'The nearest we can guess is that whoever left the coins might have been involved in the mining industry.'

They also don't want to be treated any differently, said David McCarthy, chief numismatist for Kagin Inc. of Tiburon.

'Their concern was this would change the way everyone else would look at them, and they're pretty happy with the lifestyle they have today,' he said.

They plan to put most of the coins up for sale through Amazon while holding onto a few keepsakes. They'll use the money to pay off bills and quietly donate to local charities, Kagin said.

Before they sell them, they are loaning some to the American Numismatic Association for its National Money Show, which opens Thursday in Atlanta.

To read the complete article, see:
California couple strikes gold after finding $10million of 19th century coins buried on their property (

Choosing to remain anonymous, however noble the stated intention, is a form of deceit. And of course, "Oh what a tangled web we weave When first we practice to deceive." (Sir Walter Scott).

Questions of all sorts came to my mind immediately. Does the story hold water? I’ve seen far too many of these “found” hoard stories that later turn out to be a crock, like the Renoir “found at a flea market” that had been stolen from a museum and the Massachusetts paper money hoard “dug up in the backyard” that had been stolen by roofers working on a barn. I get suspicious when key details are left out and papered over with a story. In this case, the names of the finders aren’t even being released.

Is the condition of the coins consistent with having been underground for a hundred years? Do the canisters look authentic? I wondered if someone was trying to launder money or fence a stolen collection. I'm not questioning Kagin's, but the farther back you go in the chain of possession things get murkier and murkier. How did the hoard come to be?

And even if the find is legitimate, have the proper authorities been notified, legal procedures followed and taxes set to be paid? Journalists could file Freedom of Information Act requests to get certain information, even if identities have to be redacted due to privacy laws.

If the couple had found a stray puppy, they likely would have plastered posters all over their town seeking the owner. Find a wallet or bag of cash in a taxicab, you can and should report it and seek the owner. Are the laws different for items found on your own property? Of course, with the finders maintaining anonymity it can't be verified that they even OWN property, let alone found something there.

Here's where Britain's Treasure Trove laws are so great. As I understand it, find something anywhere and you have to report it. Archaeologists and scholars get to record, investigate and document the find, and the government gets an opportunity to purchase the material at market value for museums. Otherwise the finder is free to sell it, sharing half with the property owner; if you find it on your own property you keep it all, minus appropriate taxes. It's all above board and still a bonanza for the finder

Ralf W. Böpple of Germany saw the story in Der Spiegel. He writes:

What strikes me is the high state of conservation of the older coins. One would expect a hoard of coins buried in the 1890s to contain mint state coins from the 1890s, but circulated ones from earlier decades. Also, I couldn't find any complete listing of the coins found - they had them all restored, graded and slabbed, but can't (or don't want to) give details about just which dates were found in which quantity. One of the pictures shows many coins from 1892 and 1894 in mint state, I guess this should reflect negatively on the prices for these years, right?

The article in German describes the uncirculated coins as "unused". I remember it has been discussed several times in The E-Sylum how popular media tends to be rather imprecise with regard to numismatic terms and facts. But even in non-numismatic German the expression is plain wrong, because the coins have undoubtedly been used as storage of wealth, which is one of the purposes of money.

To read the complete article, see:
Kalifornien: Paar findet millionenschweren Goldschatz im Garten (

The topic came up in the Yahoo Colonial Coins group. Jeff Rock wrote:

Well, paper money was actually illegal in California for a long time, and gold was the medium of choice in the 1850's and 1860's, so it may have been someone's hoard that got buried and lost -- the cans they were buried in certainly showed some care in stacking the pieces.

Of course, could have been a bank heist or a Wells Fargo stagecoach robbery -- the coins were certainly mint state when they were put in the cans. The only thing that makes me think it wasn't a robbery was the wide range of dates and the systematic way they were stored -- it looks like someone just hoarded gold and every month or two got more coins fresh from the bank (or mint, since they are nearly all S mint coins), and just added them to the pile in a can, starting a new can when one was full.

The fact that they were pretty much in date order -- 1850's before 1860's before 1870's, etc -- isn't what you would expect if they were stolen in one robbery, since that would probably be all of the same date, or at most just a few different dates and not such a wide range.

Definitely interesting -- and I don't blame the people who found it for wanting anonymity. There would certainly be a new Gold Rush on their property.

One of the best things about The E-Sylum is access to top experts in the numismatic field. One E-Sylum regular is Bob Evans, Chief Scientist of the SS Central America Project which salvaged what has been called the greatest treasure find of all time, from the wreck of the Central America ship which sunk in 1857. Bob writes:

One of the joys and one of the burdens of being a treasure finder is that friends and acquaintances ask for opinions about other finds. So it has been an interesting few days for me with the announcement of the "Saddle Ridge Hoard" this past week. I regret that I could not shake free the time to attend the ANA National Money Show in Atlanta and see this wonder for myself. So I have had to rely on the press coverage, AP, newspapers and numismatic.

At least two of my correspondents have expressed concerns that this could be an attempt to fence a stolen numismatic collection, and I will admit that this was one of my initial reactions as well, particularly given the high grades of many of the coins. However, with what has been represented by established numismatic authorities, I think this find passes the smell test.

The problem is always that journalists write with deadlines, word counts and entertainment in mind. This is a great story, but people are correct to be cautious. This does not however mean that they need be overly suspicious. History teaches us time and again that folks have been squirreling away money for one reason or another for as long as there has been money.

Questions inevitably arise, and I always have a few. Some of these may have been answered, but as I indicated I didn't have a chance to go to Atlanta. Was a police/sheriff's report filed? Forensic examination of the find site would be interesting, and it would be optimal for authentication purposes. On the other hand, I do understand the couple's desire for secrecy.

This is a lot of money. The article reports that the family and attorneys researched who might have deposited the hoard. I would think so! $27,000 in the 1890s was huge. It could have used to build multiple houses or start a business. The numismatists involved are established sources, David Hall, Don Kagin and David McCarthy.

Suggestions that this was a "personal bank" are interesting, and the evidence that the coins were arranged roughly chronologically is certainly interesting, and possibly corroborative of this theory. David McCarthy makes the statement in the articles I read about the chronological arrangement, but what is his source for the information? Did Kagin's do the excavation, the unpacking of the canisters? Was the excavation videotaped? There is a photograph of one can, somewhat smashed, in the ground. Did this come from the couple? Was it "staged" afterward? Why would one photograph a rusty can in the ground? Maybe they had already examined a few, and this was another one. Maybe...

These are some of my questions. I want to make it clear that I am not judging. I am just curious, as we should all be. It is a great story!

Given a chance E-Sylum readers might have come up with the next clue, but "Jeff", commenting on a CoinUpdate article, noted a possible connection to a long-ago theft, He quoted text from the U.S. Mint site (without attribution):

Could it be that Chief Clerk Walter Dimmick had betrayed the trust placed in him? It certainly seemed that way when the San Francisco Mint discovered that six bags of gold coins were missing from one of the vaults, together worth $30,000!

Only someone who could open the vault and had free access to the building could have removed that many heavy coins without being detected.

The Chief Clerk, Walter Dimmick, was able to get into the vault at the time the money was stolen. He was also the last one to count the bags of coins every night before the vaults were closed. Yet he denied knowing where the money might be.

Since he had already been caught learning to sign the Superintendent's name (forgery), taking money from the pay envelopes of other Mint employees (theft), and stealing other government funds in his care, a jury eventually found him guilty of stealing the $30,000 in gold double eagles and of two other charges.

At 46 years old, Walter Dimmick began to serve his time (almost seven years of hard labor) at the San Quentin prison in California. The 1,500 gold coins were never found.

To read the complete article, see:
PCGS Certifies “Saddle Ridge Hoard” of Buried Treasure Gold Coins : In Sheep's Clothing (

To read the original article, see:
The United States Mint at San Francisco (

Apparently independently, the site Mashable was doing its own research. Thanks to Larry Dziubek for forwarding it. They started by speaking with Kagin's and the ANA's Doug Mudd. Here's an excerpt from their article:

As people look over the plastic-encased coins, each with a special gold-colored “Saddle Ridge Hoard” PCGS certification foil, they may wonder where such a hoard came from.

We may have found the answer.

“It’s extremely unusual to find this many U.S. coins, especially gold, all together in one place. It’s a very special and unusual hoard,” said ANA Director Douglas Mudd, who also served as collection manager at the Smithsonian Institution National Numismatic Collection for over a decade.

Mudd told Mashable that while stockpiles of paper and even coin U.S. currency have been found before, the next largest discovery was worth $4,500 in face value (not the market value of the gold, but the denomination total). According to the PCGS, the majority of these coins are $20 denomination Liberty Double Eagles struck at the San Francisco Mint. With approximately 1,400 gold coins, that gives them a total face value of roughly $28,000 — remember that number.

The coins were found in badly decaying, unmarked tins buried — some up to 1 foot deep — somewhere in Northern California. Safe to say that someone didn’t want them to be found.

“Was there a major theft or did something happen where these coins went missing at some point?” pondered Mudd.

Considering that these coins had probably been buried for more than a century, we dug through microfiche files from old California newspapers, ones that were in print in the 19th century, like the San Jose Mercury News. Luckily, Google has been digitizing a tremendous amount of dead-tree media, including out-of-print books, magazines and newspapers.

A search on for “stole,” “1000,” “gold,” “coins,” “from” “San Francisco.” brings up a curious note from an the Bulletin of The American Iron and Steel Association, an industry newsletter published every two weeks by an organization now known as the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Tucked into the Aug. 10, 1901 issue, between political and financial notes and the latest obituaries was this little tidbit:

“The sum of $30,000 in gold coin has recently been stolen from the vault of the cashier of the San Francisco Mint. No trace has been found of the missing gold.”

Obviously, the report of the theft comes six years after the latest mint date on the Saddle Ridge Hoard coins. Still, if the coins were taken from the Mint cashier, they may have pulled them from a certain area where similar denominations and mintings were all gathered together. The news was big enough that it made an industry trade sheet, but owing to how news traveled back then, it did not become legendary.

Perhaps the thieves did as Mudd imagined. They had their hoard, but were being chased and simply buried all of it with a plan to return, dig it up and live a very happy life.

When we contacted the U.S. Mint to see if they have any records of such a theft, Adam Stump deputy director, Office of Corporate Communications quickly deflated our balloon, “We have no information linking those coins to any thefts at any United States Mint facility. Surviving agency records from the San Francisco Mint have been retired to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), under Record Group 104. Access to the records is under NARA’s jurisdiction:”

Apparently Stump forgot about Walter Dimmick. According to a post on the U.S. Mint’s own “H.I.P. Pocket Change” children’s website, Dimmick worked as a chief clerk at the San Francisco Mint between, according to AlteredDimensions, 1898 and 1901. In a post called “Thieves Among Us,” the U.S. Mint describes how the San Francisco Mint discovered that six bags of gold coins worth $30,000 had gone missing.

So Mashable arrived as the same possible suspect: Walter Dimmick. In a bit of a stretch, they headlined their story "The Crazy True History of the Saddle Ridge Gold Coins."

To read the complete article, see:
The Crazy True History of the Saddle Ridge Gold Coins (

For more from the site Altered Dimensions, see:
Saddle Ridge Hoard – couple discovers $10 million in old gold coins buried in backyard (

We'll wrap up with a short excerpt from the Daily Mail, which does a great job of tarting up their stories with photos. Be sure to check out the full version online.

The Northern Californian couple who found $10 million worth of gold coins on their land could have broken California Law for failing to report their stunning discovery to police, it emerged today.

They have so far managed to remain anonymous despite worldwide media attention and fascinated locals desperately searching to uncover their identity.

But, according to Californian Law, the couple should have declared their findings to the police within a ‘reasonable time’ of finding it.

The Californian Civil Code, sub-section 2080, also states that a notice must go in the local paper if the haul is worth more than $250.

It says: ‘If the reported value of the property is ($250) or more and no owner appears and proves his or her ownership of the property within 90 days, the police department or sheriff's department shall cause notice of the property to be published at least once in a newspaper of general circulation.’

The code goes onto say that if no one comes forward within seven days, then the property will be retained by the person who found it.

Usually, breaking the Civil Code isn’t an arrestable offense but punished with a fine. But, according to one Gold Country Sheriff’s Department, the matter is taken so seriously that the couple could be called in for questioning and ‘could face arrest’. The law is open to interpretation however. It only applies to 'lost' not 'abandoned' property.

In other developments, they could also face legal action from the US Government and the descendants of the original owner. Both the Treasury Department and the owner’s living relatives could stake a claim to the loot.

But the US Treasury could also demand a slice of any profits or even take the coins away. Treasure enthusiasts claim it could have been from a previously undiscovered bounty from an employee of the San Francisco Mint, who was convicted of stealing in 1901.

Walter Dimmick began working at the mint in 1898 and by 1901 was trusted with the keys to the vaults – until an audit revealed a $30,000 shortage in $20 Double Eagle coins, six bags in all.

The coins that Dimmick stole were never found, leaving some to now wonder if the Saddle Ridge Hoard is the very same set of lost coins.

Walter Dimmick

To read the complete article, see:
EXCLUSIVE: Couple who found $10m hoard of gold coins while walking dog could have broken law by not telling the police (

We've heard of client-lawyer privilege, but never coin dealer-client privilege. Can the law force Kagin's or PCGS to out the finders? Time will tell. And was it truly Walter Dimmick who stole and hid the coins? Perhaps, but we may never know for sure. Stay tuned - this story is far from over!

Thanks to Nick Graver, Arthur Shippee, Andy Singer, David Gladfelter, Pablo Hoffman, and others who also forwarded links to articles.

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:


OVER 500 NUMISMATIC TITLES: Wizard Coin Supply has over 500 numismatic titles in stock, competitively discounted, and available for immediate shipment. See our selection at .


Dusty Royer writes:

Interesting information on Al Wick. Since I'm from St. Louis, I had many joyous conversations and meetings with Al. He was quite a guy and somewhat of a philosopher. He was never at a loss for words, no matter what the subject. He lived in south St. Louis and I lived in the north part of the county, so I didn't get to visit him very often, but when I did he always had some interesting coins to look at and sometimes offered them for sale.

When I was president of the Missouri Numismatic Society, sometime in the 1960s I think (old people tend to forget exact dates), Al was on the Board of Directors. If he liked what was proposed, things went smoothly but if not, you had better be prepared to defend your position. Glad to see him get some recognition!

Mark Borckardt writes:

Wick American Colonial Coins and Tokens Part Three Mark Van Winkle has a set of Al Wick’s colonial books in his library, including all three parts.

Part One has red covers and includes pages 1 – 11
Part Two has blue covers and includes pages 12-24
Part Three has gray covers and includes pages 25-44, along with an index

The choice of blue covers for part two was unfortunate, with blue ink used on the blue cover.

Interesting! We weren't aware of the grey covered one, and this information clearly indicates that the three comprise a set. Mark provided an image of the index (below). Now the question is, who besides Mark Van Winkle has a complete set of all three parts? -Editor

Wick Index

Bruce W. Smith writes:

I was surprised to see the name of Al Wick in last week's E-Sylum. I first met Al in the early 1970's. He was a fixture at meetings of the Missouri Numismatic Society in St. Louis. He was already over 70 when I met him. I had just started building my numismatic library and Al wanted to get rid of his. I didn't really have any money but that didn't matter to him if I could trade him something easier to sell. Nobody collected numismatic books in those days and they sold cheaply. He gave me his address in south St. Louis and I drove down there one day to look over what he had. I couldn't find the address so I stopped at a warehouse in the otherwise residential neighborhood to ask directions. To my surprise, Al was there at the warehouse. In fact, he and his wife lived in the warehouse! As we talked, I found out why.

He was not just a coin collector, he collected many other things and had many hobbies. Among the things he collected were napkin rings, bar coasters, sugar sacks, postcards, old bank checks, old stocks and bonds, and many other items -- some of which I had never imagined anyone collected. He told me had had, in fact, 103 hobbies.

In the warehouse he had built row after row of wooden shelves to hold large boxes of a standard size. All of his collections were neatly filed away and organized in the boxes. This is why he lived in a warehouse -- an ordinary house would not hold all of his collections.

Not long afterward his wife passed away and he was even more anxious to trade. I went to see him again, and found he had moved to another warehouse nearby. He explained that his only close relative was his daughter who lived in California. He wanted to dispose of as much of his collections as he could to prevent his daughter having to deal with them in the event of his death.

On my second visit he showed me some of his check collection and I remember thinking how strange it was to collect checks. I didn't obtain any, but I wish I had. I later became a determined collector of Missouri checks as well as tokens, stocks and bonds, postcards and other items from Missouri. I am sure he had many items I would want for my collection.

On that second visit I learned that he had published around 1950 a booklet on investing in coins. I think I saw some other booklets he published about that time, but I don't remember what they were. He also had published for years a magazine called "Hobbies To Enjoy". In this he wrote about the many things he collected and about his other hobbies. He wrote all the articles (and some fiction), did all the artwork, took the photographs, laid out the pages, and may have even printed them himself.

I obtained a few issues of the magazine and only years later came to appreciate them. By that time he had died and I found out that when his warehouse was cleaned out, they found boxes and boxes of back issues of his magazines. Someone carried the boxes to several meetings of the Missouri Numismatic Society where they were offered to members for free. Even so, many boxes of the magazines ended up in a trash dumpster. I had already moved away from St. Louis and did not find out about the magazines till a couple years later. Since then I have looked in vain to find any back issues of the magazine. Last week I did find a couple issues for sale online, but it appears to be a rare item today.

A Google search under his name turned up the fact that he collected sales tax tokens and had also produced a catalog and album for US tax tokens in 1949. I suspect he published other now rare booklets on various subjects. I wish I had spent more time looking around his warehouse.

Wow - now THAT'S a collector. Thanks for the great information. Bob Leonard provides some information on Wick's Sales Tax token book in the next article. What other Wick books will turn up someday? -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: ALBERT WICK'S AMERICAN COLONIAL COINS & TOKENS (


Bob Leonard submitted the following about yet another rare publication by Al Wick. Thanks! -Editor

Wick State Sales Tax Part 1 Wick State Sales Tax Part 2

I wasn't aware of Al. Wick's books on Colonial coins, but I have State Sales Tax Tokens and State Sales Tax Tokens PART TWO by him. They look just like the Colonial coins book--mimeographed (in green ink) on mimeograph paper, with thick construction paper covers, two staples, and punched for a three-hole binder. Pages are unnumbered. For the first volume, the inside title is A Collection of Album Pages for Sales Tax Tokens. With Data and Comments on Sales Tax Tokens. Copyright 1949 Albert H. Wick. Published by Al. Wick, 5437 Nagel Ave., St. Louis, 9, Mo. No edition size is stated, but the mimeograph process would limit it to a few hundred, or perhaps the low thousands, before the stencil wore out.

This is a very nice and useful book. Wick primarily covered the state sales tax issues only, with no data on the Illinois (and other) provisional issues. On the first page after the Preface is a fine map of the United States dated July 1, 1945 showing which states had sales and use taxes. At that time 25 states had no sales tax! Following is a page of data on sales and use tax collections as related to population and income in 1940, then pages for each region or individual state that did not use tax tokens. But the last page puts this effort firmly in the hobby category:

"PART TWO, which follows will hold the pages for mounting your Sales Tax Tokens, from the States which have or do issue them.

Better start getting these together, so that you can mount them, and complete your Album for State Sales Tax Tokens. This would make an excellent talk for your Club Program.

Numismatically yours,

Al. Wick."

Part Two, as mentioned, is an album with one or two pages per state, printed on thick construction paper, with identical inside title. Tokens were to be mounted by placing them in a cellophane envelope and stapling them to the page; a sample Missouri token is so mounted on the Instructions page. Wick warned, "Never use scotch tape. The adhesive gets soft and will run, and will give you plenty of trouble later." When the stapler would not reach, Wick advised opening it up and tacking, then bending the staple over by hand. Only major types were included. The regular Illinois tokens were covered on one page, with a second mostly blank page for the provisional tokens.

This is a pioneering effort in the field of sales tax token literature, published when Missouri and a few other states were still using them. Before Wick, only dealers' price lists and Gaston Di Bella's listing in the March 15, 1944 issue of Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine were available.

I don't know how many of these were actually used as intended, as a token album. My copy, which is new (has a water stain on one back cover), came from a small hoard discovered many years ago.

And here I thought I'd already seen every book on American numismatics. But I've never seen these before. Anyone else have a set? -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: ALBERT WICK'S AMERICAN COLONIAL COINS & TOKENS (



Regarding the Palestine banknote image purloined from Howard Berlin, Kavan Ratnatunga writes:

With respect to Wikipedia, it can be edited by anyone so one can add proper attribution without any problem. Because of serial number, a currency note is easy, if one still owns it. After it is sold shouldn't it pass to the new owner? Common coins are more difficult, but I once claimed copyright to Wikipedia and it was granted, since reflection off the coin surface in scan, showed it was my image.

I have been uploading images to my website since 1998, and I have found those images used to sell coins on eBay, illustrate book covers, and even in publication of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, without any attribution. Once when a local newspaper published over 100 of my images without any attribution I claimed and they paid me about US$150 without any fuss. If they had asked I would have allowed free use.

I recently found a large online collector website to which someone had uploaded large number of my images. To add insult to injury they had rewarded that member with a star recognition for his contribution of Sri Lankan coin images! When I complained they sent back a lot of legal paper work which they rightly predicted I will not have the motivation to waste my time on.

To fight back I am almost inclined to make an online web page on the plagiarism and provide the citations. In a way it is recognition that the information I put online is useful even though, citation by the user would have been better. Google image search does allow you to locate usage of your images online.

Tough problem to fight. We reuse images constantly here in The E-Sylum, but credit is always given. Of the 9,000-some images we've published, we've only ever been asked once to take one down. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: FEBRUARY 23, 2014 : Palestinian £100 Banknote Image Copyright (


Ernie Nagy submitted this write-up of an April 13, 1861 Charles Dickens article, Election Time In America, which includes a description the use of campaign medals during the election of 1860. The image of Lincoln campaign medals in the box is of medals in Ernie's collection. Thanks! -Editor

Box of 1860 campaign medals John M. Kleeberg’s excellent article in the December 2013 edition of The Numismatist, Charles Dickens’ Numismatic References in A Christmas Carol, brought to mind another Dickens numismatic reference. Harold Holzer’s Lincoln at Cooper Union, The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln Famous, relays a report from Dickens of his visit to New York prior to the election of 1860: Dickens writes that “Barefooted boys” and “lean fried up men” could be found hawking campaign medals from cigar boxes in “the luxurious marble paved smoking rooms of the great hotels” and “through the long avenues of the rail-road cars”.

The source of these quotes is a weekly journal published by Dickens, All the Year Round. His detailed description of the atmosphere in America prior to an election was the subject of an article titled Election Time in America. Additional Dickens campaign medal context in that article includes:

"Now, when I go to the store of Barnewitz, and buy these election badges, which are about the size of a five-dollar gold piece, I find they bear on one side the likeness of the nominee for President, on the other the Vice-President, and are to be worn at the button-hole. I have seen thousands wearing them; and since I have been in America, and indeed a week ago on the Alabama river, I met a well-known duel-list with a little silver bell on his watch-chain: signifying thereby his changeless attachment to Bell, one of the candidates for the presidentship. These election medals follow me everywhere … the shops have trays of them in their windows; you can almost tell in different cities how the voting is likely to go, by the majority of medals you meet, being either 'Lincoln' or 'Douglas'.”

Below find an image from Google Books containing a portion Dickens’s journal article, and below that a hyperlink to the full article containing descriptions of a candidate event held at a “grog-shop” where endless glasses of “lager beer”, “brandy cocktail” and “Jersey Lightening” are drunk; unflattering “political portraits” of legislative candidates; and a detailed description of a Douglas ox roast.

The appeal of a political campaign medal, as compared to a memorial medal, is that the campaign pieces were instruments of a contest when the result was still to be determined. Accounts written during a campaign of the use of political medals evidence this distinction, and when penned by a prominent author of great literature make for a good read. 

Election Time in America

The complete text of which can be found at:

What a great slice of numismatic history, straight from the pen of someone who was there! And not just anyone, but one of the greatest writers in English literature. Thanks! -Editor


Last week Dennis Tucker posed the question, “If you had a choice of receiving one or the other of these, which would you choose, and why?” The choices were:

a) a ten-pound bag of mixed, completely unsearched 19th-century silver dollars (types unspecified), or

b) a ten-pound bag of mixed, completely unsearched 19th-century U.S. medals and tokens.

Here’s what some E-Sylum readers decided.

Chris Fuccione writes:

In my younger days I would have said that I would take the bag of dollar coins but as I got older my interests have changed where I am now more interested in the history of coinage than I am in the coins themselves. Besides Civil War Tokens I don’t know that much about medals and tokens. I do know if I got that bag it would take me years to learn about each item.

Fred Michaelson writes:

I'd go with the exonumia, hands down. The dollar bag could have a lot of monetary value, but it would be as exciting to me as a Home Depot gift card. The exonumia bag could have a much higher excitement value, not to mention a lot more items in it because the average weight of a piece of exonumia is probably quite a bit lower than a dollar's one ounce. Just think of an AU NY and Harlaem RR token or a nice Bolen piece, or a thousand other possibilities. A no-brainer.

Ginger Rapsus writes:

I would practice what I preach...try collecting something new, and I would take the bag of medals & tokens. Perhaps an unknown variety would turn up. Maybe something scarce. But every item would be interesting, and different from the usual. Hoping for a great bunch of Civil War tokens!

Ralf Böpple of Stuttgart, Germany writes:

Would I choose a bag of silver dollars or a bag of medals and tokens? I didn't have to think for a second to decide on the exonumia. Need a reason? Counting tailfeathers on Morgan dollars is utterly boring, and the draped bust dollar is the only really attractive design anyway (I hope I don't get banned from US numismatic circles for lifetime for this...)

I can see I'm outnumbered, but I'll go contrarian on this one. As much as I love tokens and medals, I think I’d be too tempted by potential value of the silver dollar bag. Morgan dollars didn’t appear until 1878, so 3/4ths of the bag could be earlier and fairly valuable compared to the average token or medal. But like one of Dennis' respondents, I would probably sell the dollars and buy medals and tokens of my choice with the proceeds (if my wife’s credit card company weren’t already first in line). -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: IF GIVEN A CHOICE, WHICH WOULD YOU CHOOSE? (


Looking for a great gift for a fellow coin collector? Consider a $50 coin supplies gift card. Click here to learn more.


I hadn't had a chance to write about this before, but there was an interesting medal in a November 21, 2013 Spink sale, and I'm curious if E-Sylum readers can tell us any more about it. As a former 'American in London' myself, the 'Americans in London' Tribute Medallion caught my eye. I'd never seen this item before.

Below is an excerpt from the sale press release which described the "group of honours and awards bestowed upon Surgeon-Major T.H. Parke, who saved the life of Henry Morton Stanley, the most famous African explorer of the age". -Editor

Americans in London Tribute Medallion

Included in the group of awards and honours is the massive 'Americans in London' Tribute Medallion, engraved with the personal dedication from Stanley:

'From Americans in London to Surgeon T.H. Parke, A.M.D. (Bwana Doctari) 30th. May 1891. "Skilled as a Physician, Tender as a Nurse, Gifted with Remarkable Consideration and Sweet Patience"- Stanley.'

To read the complete press release, see: The Man Who Saved Stanley: Spink to Sell Awards Bestowed Upon Doctor on Stanley’s Last African Expedition (

Below is more information, excerpted from the online lot description. -Editor

The Massive 'Americans in London' Tribute Medallion, by Elkington, London, 115mm x 105mm, silver (1.12kg, Hallmarks for London 1890), Stanley facing right on obverse, 'From Americans in London to Surgeon T.H. Parke, A.M.D. (Bwana Doctari) 30th. May 1891. "Skilled as a Physician, Tender as a Nurse, Gifted with Remarkable Consideration and Sweet Patience"- Stanley.' engraved below, reverse featuring portraits of Stanley's four principal Officers, Lieutenant W.G. Stairs, Surgeon T.H. Parke, Captain R.H. Nelson, and Mr. A.J. Mounteney Jephson in centre, Map of Africa above, with the Union and American Flags either side, forest and mountain scenes in background, '"Never while Human Nature remains as we know it will there be found four Gentlemen so matchless for their constancy, devotion to their work, earnest purpose and unflinching obedience to Honour and Duty"- Stanley.' engraved below, in fitted case of issue, the lid depicting a scene where 'Parke sucks the arrow poison from Stairs' wound', and embossed 'Surgeon T.H. Parke, A.M.D. (Bwana Doctari- Master Doctor)'

I wonder how many of these were made, and who they were given to. Where were they struck? Are any in private or public collections in America today? -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see: Auction: 13003 - Orders, Decorations, Campaign Medals and Militaria: Lot 29 (


Live and Work in Southern California

Stack’s Bowers Galleries offers an important employment opportunity for the right person. We are seeking an experienced numismatist in the American series—coins, tokens, medals, and paper money—to work with our “dream team” of catalogers, building on the tradition of the Ford, Eliasberg, Bass, Cardinal, Norweb, Battle Born and other great collections.

If you can write in an authoritative and compelling manner with a high degree of accuracy, this may be just right for you! You will be working in Irvine, a modern community in dynamic Orange County, California—one of the finest areas to live. We offer generous benefits including medical and dental coverage, 401K plan, and more. Our offices are in our own modern, state-of-the art building with all amenities.

If you would like to be considered for this position please contact Q. David Bowers by mail or by email with your resumé, samples of your past writing (on numismatics or other subjects), and salary requirements: Mail to the attention of Q. David Bowers, PO Box 1804, Wolfeboro, NH 03894. Email to:


Ursula Kampmann submitted this review of Künker's eLive Auction 26. Thanks! -Editor

Künker eLive Auction 26 from 11 to 13 February 2014

Shortly after the Berlin sale of auction house Künker, the company’s 26th eLive Auction was conducted from 11 to 13 February 2014.

The about 1,000 items were sold at a hammer price of € 270,000.- on a pre-sale estimate of € 100.000.- There was not a single lot left unsold, and contrary to the expected two hours that are usually required to sell the coins, this eLive Auction took four to five hours due to high demand.

Particularly noteworthy were the series of coins from Brandenburg-Prussia and Brunswick-Lüneburg as well as a number of so-called Goetz medals, i.e. medals created by well-known Munich medalist Karl Goetz. In addition, eLive auction no. 26 included roughly 200 coins of the German Empire that likewise achieved remarkable results.

Highlights of Künker eLive Auction 26

Lot 2430: Frederick William III Silver medal 1822

02430a00 Kopie 02430r00 Kopie

Kingdom of Prussia.
Frederick William III.
Silver medal 1822.
First strike. FDC.
Estimate: € 250.-
Hammer price: € 1,600.-

Lot 2079: Peter I the Great Roubel 1725

02079a00 Kopie 02079r00 Kopie

Russian Empire.
Peter I the Great.
Roubel 1725, St. Petersburg.
Estimate: € 750.-
Hammer price: € 1,500.-

Lot 2042: Italy. Pisa. Republic

02042a00 Kopie 02042r00 Kopie

Italy. Pisa. Republic.
½ grosso n. y.
Estimate: € 100.-
Hammer price: € 2,300.-

To view the complete auction, see: /


Caroline Newton forwarded this press release about the firm's upcoming April 2014 Hong Kong sale. Thanks! -Editor

As dredgers scour the seabeds of Tangasseri harbour in Kollam city, Kerala, India, in the hunt to discover more Chinese coins’ London based auctioneers, A. H. Baldwin & Sons Ltd, give buyers an easier way to buy a piece of Chinese monetary history at their 56th Hong Kong Coin Auction of Far Eastern and World Coins, Medals and Banknotes, in association with Ma Tak Wo Numismatic Co Ltd, Hong Kong.

Chekiang Province Brass Pattern Cash A very rare Chekiang Province Brass Pattern Cash, an example of the first Chinese-style specimen round-hole Cash, similar to the contemporary Hong Kong issues, offers collectors an opportunity to own one of the most interesting pieces of Chinese currency history.

In Richard Wright’s book, The Modern Coinage of China 1866-1949, The Evidence in Western Archives, he writes: “The Imperial Chinese authorities showed little interest in the machine minting of coins until the 1880s. Therefore the fact that the Paris Mint struck a pattern Chekiang Province cash coin as early as 1866 is somewhat of an enigma, particularly as the mint officials there have no evidence or knowledge of any further French involvement with the Chinese coinage. “

The Paris Mint catalogue states that only three of the coins were struck but Wright argues that there may have been more, and the specimens could have been created solely for the purpose of an official Mandarin dignitary’s visit to Paris. It is estimated to sell for US$20,000 – 25,000. [Lot 292]

1907 Kuang Hsu Ku’ping Gold Pattern 1-Tael From the collection of Swedish born numismatist, Åke Linden, two very special coins are estimated to sell for US$80,000 – 100,000. The first of the two, a 1907 Kuang Hsu Ku’ping Gold Pattern 1-Tael, was created as a prototype coin in the 33rd year of the reign of the eleventh Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, Kuang Hsu.

Emperor Kuang Hsu was put under house arrest after his Hundred Days' Reform, aimed at changing political, legal, and social proceedings failed in 1898. The reforms proved too sudden for the Chinese populace and conflicted with the views of Empress Dowager Tsu Hsi, Kuang Hsu’s Regent. With military support she staged a coup and Hsu stayed under house arrest until his death in November 1908, a day before the death of Tsu Hsi. [Lot 285]

The second of the two coins is an extremely rare 1907 Chihli (Peiyang) Province Silver Pattern 1-Tael, also from the 33rd year of the reign of Emperor Kuang Hsu. The coin has exceptional provenance having been bought by Linden from the collection of Dr Norman Jacobs, also sold by Baldwin’s in 2008 for a total of US$3,371,800. [Lot 309]

Elsewhere in the sale a selection of Asian banknotes includes an original stapled bundle of 100 consecutive 100-Rupee banknotes, serial nos.B19 683201-683300. Circa 1914, the notes issued by the Reserve Bank of India, Calcutta, are signed by C. D. Deshmukh and depict King George VI in profile at the right. They are estimated to sell for US$120,000 – 150,000. [Lot 187]

Vietnamese Zinc Tong Bao An extremely well preserved and very rare Vietnamese Zinc Tong Bao from the reigh of Kien Phuc (1883-84) is estimated to sell for US$13,000 – 18,000. [Lot 799]

Nguyen Gian Tong was placed on the throne at the age of fifteen on 30 November 1883, and ruled under the reign of Kien Phuc for only seven months before he was poisoned on 31 July 1884. The Kien Phuc Thong Bao is one of the major rarities from the reign title coins of the Nguyen dynasty. The specimen on offer in this sale is one of six known, once owned by Jules Silvestre, author of “Notes Pour Servir à la Recherche et au Classement des Monnaies et Médailles de l'Annam et de la Cochinchine Française”, 1883, Saigon.

The auction will be held in the Crystal Conference Centre at the Holiday Inn Golden Mile in Kowloon Hong Kong on Thursday 3rd April. The catalogue will be available to view online at and online biding with no additional premium is available through the services of

Caroline also attached the except from Richard Wright’s book, to which they refer in the release. Thanks - here it is. -Editor

Richard Wright’s The Modern Coinage of China 1866-1949, The Evidence in Western Archives (ISBN 978 1 907427-20-6), p.168 tells the story:

China - The Machine-Minted T'ung Chih Cash Coin of 1866
The Imperial Chinese authorities showed little interest in the machine minting of coins until the 1880s. Therefore the fact that the Paris Mint struck a pattern Chekiang Province cash coin as early as 1866 is somewhat of an enigma, particularly as the mint officials there have no evidence or knowledge of any further French involvement with the Chinese coinage. The coin, which is illustrated by a tracing taken from the sample in the recently published catalogue of the collection of the Paris Mint, is described thereon as a Sapèque Chine, a round hole pattern produced by M. Barre in 1866, struck in brass, weight 1.42g and diameter 20mm. Only three pieces are known to exist. ... In the Paris Mint catalogue the dies are also shown, for some reason marked 1870, which was possibly the date of acquisition. ...

Which leaves the question: why were the dies prepared and three coins struck? Or were there more coins?

The answer probably lies with the Pin Mission, a mini-saga written up and described a couple of decades ago (Charles Drage, Servants of the Dragon Throne: being the lives of Edward and Cecil Bowra, UK, 1966: Chapter XI, 'The Mission of the Third Class Mandarin'.), but which has been seemingly ignored in a possible numismatic context. Up until the nineteenth century the Imperial Chinese government, content with its lot and deeming the remainder of the world to be barbarians, had done its best to keep the western world at arms's length. Official missions from Britain in 1793 and 1816 failed to break the ice; the Russians and the Dutch fared no better; yet trade continued and provoked the China Wars of the forties and fifties which effectively opened up China to trade on western terms. It was not until 1876 that the first Chinese legation was established in London, and a further twenty years before a major Chinese statesman, Li Hung-chang, made an official tour of Europe and the United States, incidentally generating some interesting numismatic and medallic items.

Prior to 1876 any visits by Chinese officials or mandarins to the western world were limited and low key. Language was a problem. The enigmatic Hesing, a mandarin of the fifth class, is a case in point. In his forties and a native of Canton, he made the passage from China in the Keying apparently in the role of a tourist. He spoke little English, but succeeded in joining the official procession marking the opening of the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, and is still remembered today by his portrait on one of the Keying medallions. It was Mr (later Sir) Robert Hart, the Inspector-General of the Chinese Customs, who in 1866 prompted the first semi-official visit of a mandarin to Europe. He was returning to his native Ireland on leave, was concerned that the Chinese government had been doing nothing to bring itself up to date with the western world, and proposed that a mandarin should accompany him to Europe and report all he saw.

Hart's proposal was adopted, but he was only partially successful as the mandarin selected for the task, Pin Ch`un or Pin-tu-jen, the Chinese Secretary of the Imperial Maritime Customs, was of low rang (albeit hastily promoted up to the third grade), elderly, bigoted, and, even worse, was given no official status. However, Pin was accompanied by his son and three language students, and it was probably the young generation, from their experience who provided the greatest benefit to China in the long run. Pin was ably escorted by Edward Bowra and M. de Longchamps; the party landed in Marseilles, and thereafter these mentors arranged the intensive programmes of tours of factories and institutes; only to discover in Paris that their mandarin had quickly developed a preferance for the theatre and the circus. Thus it was that Pin Ch‘un declared himself indisposed on 12th May 1866, and refused to carry out the plan for that day - although his entourage did - which included visits to the Library, the Post Office, the Telegraph Office and the Paris mint.

Now, this projected visit does provide a very good reason for the existence of the machine minted Chekiang province cash coin in the Paris Mint in 1866: eg. it was only a specimen coin, produced solely for the mandarin's visit. Why would Chekiang have been selected for this example? It is pure conjecture, but the mandarin may have been a native of that province, and M. de Longchamps could have conveyed that information to the Mint when making arrangements for the visit. It is possible, of course, that a few specimens were handed out to the entourage, and may have found their way back to China.


Last week we had an article describing the currency confusion and small change shortage had consumers and merchants resorting to trading condoms as change. A coin shortage of a different cause (but same effect) is happening in Gaza. Thanks to Ed Snible for sharing this article on Goggle+. -Editor

Spare change - Gaza style Gazans have been running low on Israeli coin currency for a while, partly due to an Israeli-imposed ban on copper imports. The creative solution engineered by Gazans was to melt down change to create copper wire. But no one could have expected the result – half-shekel and 10 agorot coins have become a rare commodity.

The coins' absence did not impact the day-to-day life of the average Gazan, as most prices were in full shekels. However, gas prices rose last month, after the tunnels used to bring fuel in from Egypt were sealed off, and as a result the price of public transport also went up.

Abed, a resident of Gaza City, tells Ynet that taxi and bus drivers had been forced to raise prices by half a shekel, but no one had the half-shekel coin to give change to their passengers. So, he says, the drivers improvised. They began to carry small items to make up the change - chewing gum, candles, pens, cookies and candies. The passengers pay the driver in full shekels, and get half a shekel's worth of products in change.

Abed noted that the locals have become accustomed to the unusual arrangement. Nowadays, nearly every taxi in the Strip is equipped with an assortment of low-cost items to make up for the missing change.

Another creative solution pioneered by the change-less cabbies – changing the fare price depending on the direction. Abed explained the new system: "The ride from Gaza City to Deir al-Balah costs, for example, four and a half shekels, but the drivers only charge four for this direction. The return ride cost rises to five shekels, and that way the passengers four and a half shekels each way."

To read the complete article, see: Short of currency, Gazans turn to bartering (,7340,L-4490647,00.html)

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: ZIMBABWE’S MULTI-CURRENCY CONFUSION (

Kolbe-Fanning website ad4


Casino chips are a branch of exonumia (or paranumismatics, for our British friends). Just as with coins and tokens, they have a monetary value and there is an incentive for counterfeiters to make and pass fakes. The Washington Post published a story this week about counterfeit chips discovered at a Maryland casino. -Editor

Fake casino chips A married couple that tried to bluff Maryland’s largest casino with counterfeit $100 chips was caught and charged, and charges are being sought against two others for a similar fake-chip scheme, Maryland State Police announced Tuesday.

Rosa A. Nguyen, 36, and her husband, Vuong Q. Truong, 37 — both of Annandale in Northern Virginia — were charged with one count of theft and two counts of conspiracy to commit theft, after allegedly putting doctored chips into circulation at Maryland Live Casino. Additionally, Truong was charged with two other theft-related counts, according to a news release.

The Maryland State Police investigation began after officials at Maryland Live reported that they’d identified dozens of counterfeit $100 chips in circulation at the Arundel Mills casino. According a Virginia court document, fake black chips were used throughout the casino on multiple occasions by four individuals, beginning in November.

Using surveillance footage as well as driver’s license data and Nguyen’s Maryland Live player rewards card, investigators identified the four suspects and cataloged their crimes, which were committed in table-game pits and at cashier cages throughout the casino. The court document calls them “poker chips” but indicates that the fakes were used at roulette, blackjack and mini-baccarat tables, not in the Maryland Live poker room.

According to the document, Truong admitted to Maryland State Police that he purchased the counterfeit casino chips on the Internet — paying $12,000 for $150,000 worth, authorities said. The chips were altered to appear similar to Maryland Live’s black $100 chips. Approximately $4,000 in fakes were recovered from the casino, the court document said.

To read the complete article, see: Two charged, two others sought for passing fake chips at Maryland casino (


Wow - what a haul of coins and equipment! Check out the images from this story about a Western Han Dynasty coin casting workshop discovered by archaeologists in Inner Mongolia. The article comes to us via The Explorator newsletter 16.46, published today (March 2, 2014). -Editor

Inner Mongolia coin casting shop1 Archaeologists in Inner Mongolia autonomous region have discovered a coin casting workshop and more than 1.4 million ancient coins dating back to the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24) in an ancient city in Ordos, according to Inner Mongolia Institute of Archaeology. Photo shows part of the ancient coins.

Inner Mongolia coin casting shop3
Fragment of a coin casting mold

Inner Mongolia coin casting shop4
Thousands of cash coins on a long string

Inner Mongolia coin casting shop7
and still more coins!

To read the complete article, see: Large numbers of ancient coins excavated in Inner Mongolia (


“Buffalo Coins: America’s Favorite.” Learn all about the American bison in coins, tokens, medals, paper money, and pop culture, in this delightful new book by Q. David Bowers. Softcover, 160 pages. Order online for $14.95 Order at or call 1-800-546-2995.


Last week we discussed the Sochi Olympic medals. On February 24, 2014 Charles Morgan published a nice article in CoinWeek on The Sochi 100 Ruble Note and Other Circulating Russian Banknotes. Here's an excerpt. -Editor

Sochi 2014 100 Ruble Note In this piece, we look at contemporary Russian currency; specifically, large denomination banknotes starting at the 100 Ruble note and going up to 5,000 Rubles. Despite the seemingly large values, all but the 5,000 note can be had in uncirculated condition for under $100. Each of the notes has been beautifully re-designed in recent years and features state-of-the-art anti-counterfeiting measures.

Sochi 2014 100 Ruble Note (Со́чи 2014 Cто Pублей) – 2013
The Bank of Russia first issued the Sochi Commemorative 100 Ruble note in October 2013. Printed on white cotton paper, the note measures 160 x 65 mm and features ornamental, vertically oriented designs in the style of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Both sides boast attractive and colorful artwork, printed using a complex 10 screen process. The bills also utilize anti-counterfeiting measures such as watermarks and raised ink.

The front features a snowboarder taking to the air against the backdrop of Mount Fisht and the Sochi coastal cluster. An oval-shaped watermark is located beneath the building complex.

5,000 Ruble Note (Пять Tысяч Pублей) – 2010

5,000 Ruble Note 2010

Like the 500 and 1,000 Ruble notes, the circulating 5,000 Ruble note is based on a design first printed in 1997 and revised in 2010. The current issue was released into circulation in June 2011. The note is horizontally oriented, measures 157 x 69 mm, and is predominantly orange with coordinating purples, yellows, maroons, reds and greens.

On the note’s front is a likeness of the bronze statue of Nikolay Nikolayevich Muravyov-Amursky (Никола́й Никола́евич Муравьёв-Аму́рский), a Russian Imperial statesman. His most notable achievement was the signing of the Treaty of Aigun in 1858, which established a border between Russia and Manchuria in present-day Northeast China at the Amur River.

The back of the note features the Khabarovsk Bridge (Хабаровский Mост), which wasn’t completed until 1999. The 3,890 meter bridge crosses the Amur (Тамур) River and connects Khabarovsk with Imeni Telmana (имени Тельмана), a special zone created by Joseph Stalin in 1934 to give Russian Jews a region of self governance within the Soviet Union.

To read the complete article, see: The Sochi 100 Ruble Note and Other Circulating Russian Banknotes: A Brief Primer (


This article from the European Jewish Press describes an interesting Napoleon medal. -Editor

Napoleon sanhedrin medal An antique rare medal which was up for auction Wednesday evening at Kedem Auction House in Jerusalem, provides a rare peek into the relationship between Napoleon Bonaparte and the Jewish community in France and throughout the world at the peak of his success. This medal was issued more than 200 years ago in honor of the "Grand Sanhedrin" convened by Napoleon.

A portrait of Napoleon appears on one side of the medal surrounded by the inscription "Napoleon, King and Emperor". On the other side, Napoleon is portrayed in imperial dress, granting a bearded kneeling Jew the Two Tablets of Law. Inscribed under the figures are, "The Grand Sanhedrin" and the date Napoleon announced its convention: "May 30, 1806".

The "Grand Sanhedrin of Paris" is one of Napoleon's less known initiatives. According to historians, this body was established by Napoleon to supervise the Jews on the one hand and to gain their support and goodwill on the other hand.

During the years of Napoleon's rule, he aspired to change the Jewish population to citizens with equal rights and obligations. This opportunity arose in 1806, when grievances against the Jews began to surface in the Alsace Region claiming that the Jews deal in lending with interest "exploiting the non-Jewish population". The public debate surrounding these complaints brought Napoleon, in July 1806, to convene Jewish leaders from all over France to constitute Jewish legal principles which would enable them to adhere to their beliefs while living as faithful French citizens as well.

Napoleon wished to grant the decisions of this assembly greater power and impact so he called for the convention of 71 rabbis and Jewish leaders which he called "The Grand Sanhedrin", in imitation of the historical Sanhedrin whose task was to approve the assembly's decisions.

Meron Eren, one of the owners of Kedem Auction House, one of the largest auction houses in the area of Judaica in the world, which offered the medal in their auction this week, explains that "besides Napoleon's clear political incentives, historians believe that he thought that by this procedure which would be interpreted as renewal of the Jewish Sanhedrin, the Jews would uphold him as a kind of Messiah".

This forgotten historical chapter provides also a peek into the relationship between the Jews and Napoleon. Although "The Grand Sanhedrin" reached the decisions desired by Napoleon which balance the Jews' religious obligations and their obligations as French citizens, prohibited lending money with interest to non-Jews and even called Napoleon "the man who does wonders, is compassionate and good, pursues loving-kindness, who removed our shame", they prevented harm to Jewish basic law. According to historians, to maneuver between Napoleon's wishes and Jewish law, at times the members of the Sanhedrin chose ambiguous wording in French.

"The Grand Sanhedrin" became the basis of the establishment of the French Consistoire, which constituted and still is a central element in the lives of the French Jewish population. "The medal is distinct for two main reasons: It relates a fascinating tale which sometimes seems to be the fruit of someone's imagination and it depicts the manner in which an event which took place hundreds of years ago, continues to impact us until this very day", concludes Eren.

To read the complete article, see: Did Napoleon attempted to be the Jewish Messiah? (


The myth-debunking site tackled the question of whether wrapping bills in tinfoil keeps them from being detected by scanning devices. -Editor

Origins: In December 2013, swindlers insisted their Madison, Wisconsin, victim wrap 150 $20 bills in tinfoil, place them in a magazine, put the magazine in a FedEx envelope, and send it to them at an address in Los Angeles. They did so secure in the belief that encasing the money in foil would prevent its detection by law enforcement as it made its way to them.

This story has a happy ending, in that the money was not sent directly to the swindlers but rather to a woman they had duped into being their intermediary via the reshipper scam. When contacted by the person defrauded, that other victim promised to return the cash, minus a hundred dollars. Which she did.

What brings this tale of fraud averted into the realm of contemporary lore is the swindlers' belief that enrobing the large number of bills in aluminum foil would shield the cash from detection by any scanning device the package was passed through on its trip. In this, they engineered a mishmash composed of a pair of false beliefs already present in the canon of urban folklore plus a bit of actual truth from the realm of technology.

First is the widespread belief that U.S. currency contains a hidden feature that makes it detectable by the government. That secret element is present, supposedly, to help the Feds pick up on large sums of American cash being moved in and out of the country, plus serves as a way for law enforcement to pinpoint those carrying large amounts of cash on their persons who are therefore likely to be engaged in illicit activities. While it is true U.S. currency contains a number of security features, including an embedded polyester strip within each larger denomination bill, those components serve to thwart counterfeiters and nothing more. Nothing about any of those anti-counterfeiting details works any sort of magic that would allow Uncle Sam to count the money in your pocket.

To read the complete article, see: Claim: Wrapping bills in tinfoil keeps them from being detected by scanning devices. (


This week's Featured Web Site is suggested by BJ Neff who writes:

We (The Error - Variety Education Consortium) have opened a new site concerning cuds and other types of die breaks. This is a continuation of Margolis' and Thurman's work. The site is called and is a free informational site with color images.

From the site:

Cuds-on-coins is designed to be a comprehensive visual database encompassing a wide range of die errors caused by brittle failure. However, its primary focus is “cuds”. A cud is a marginal die break; an error produced when a piece breaks off the edge of a die. Previous attempts to classify cuds managed to capture only a fraction of the thousands of cuds represented in the marketplace. This site will attempt to extend coverage beyond the two existing catalogs, The Cud Book and The Cud Book Supplement.

Three cent nickel cud error

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