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The E-Sylum:  Volume 4, Number 11, March 11, 2001, Article 13

NOBEL QUIZ ANSWER 

   Last week Asylum Editor E. Tomlinson Fort asked: 
   "Who is the only numismatic author ever to win 
   the Nobel Prize for Literature?" 

   The smartypants replies always get here first.  Tom DeLorey 
   answered: "John Steinbeck, who wrote "The Gripes of Wrath" 
   about the flame wars in the newsgroup rec.collecting.com?" 

   Andy Lustig was the first to supply a correct answer (but not 
   the only correct answer - there are two):   "In 1926 the 
   government of the newly founded Irish Free State formed a 
   coinage committee to plan for a new Irish coinage.  The 
   chairman of the committee was the Irish poet William Butler 
   Yeats.  Nobel Laureate Yeats wrote a book on the subject." 

   Scott Miller writes: "Shame on you.  I have attached the card 
   entry from the ANS which includes an essay by William Butler 
   Yeats, laureate for 1923." 

   [Shame indeed - I should have known.  I handled a copy of 
    that book once, and asked myself, is that THE Yeats? 
    I figured, nahhhh...  -Editor] 

   George Kolbe also knew about the Yeats book, as did 
   Henk Groenendijk and Peter Gaspar, who signed his note 
   "E-Sylum proud subscriber #1"   He wrote: "Just read the 
   latest E-Sylum, and enjoyed it, as always.  I haven't had 
   time to look at the web site mentioned, but I'll be surprised 
   if the answer isn't William Butler Yeats and the book the 
   description of the origin of the first coinage of the Irish Free 
   State in 1928.  It is among the handsomest of 20th 
   century coin books and has true historical importance 
   in recording the process by which designs were solicited 
   and the winning designs by Percy Metcalfe (sp?) selected." 

   Tom Fort originally posed his question to the NBS Board. 
   As E-Sylum editor, I shamelessly appropriated it for 
   publication. Actually, Tom had a different Nobel Laureate 
   in mind.   He offered to buy a lunch for board members 
   who answered correctly.   I'm proud to say the Board 
   does not consist entirely of dummies like myself.  Tom 
   writes: 

   "When I sent out my trivia question last week, my 
   intended answer was Theodor Mommsen, who won the 
   Nobel Prize for literature in 1902.  Mommsen published 
   a major monograph on Roman Republican coinage in the 
   1870's along with a number of articles.  Only Bob Metzger 
   got this answer correct, for which I owe him a couple of 
   strombolis next time he is in Pittsburgh. 

   However, Pete Smith then wrote me the following: "William 
   Butler Yeats won the Nobel prize for literature in 1923. He 
   was part of the committee on coinage design and co-author 
   of "Coinage of Saurstat aEireann" (Coinage of the Irish State) 
   with McElligott, McCauley, O'Brien, Dermod, Bodkin et al. 
   He also wrote articles for periodicals including Coin World. 
   Larry Mitchell also knew about Yeats' numismatic writings, 
   though I did not.  Therefore, I now owe Bob, Pete and Larry 
   lunch next time they are in Pittsburgh." 

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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