The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 3, Number 8, February 20, 2000: 
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society. 
Copyright (c) 2000, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society. 


   We have three new subscribers this week: Paul Totoritis, 
   Vicken Yegparian and longtime NBS member George Fitzgerald. 
   Welcome aboard!  This brings our subscriber count to 281. 


   Numismatic literature dealer Fred Lake reports that 
   Function Associates is holding its 51st sale of 
   numismatic literature with a closing date of March 
   21, 2000.  For more information contact Fred at 


   Well bibliophiles, the day we've long anticipated 
   has finally arrived. 

   Sebastian Heath and Francis D. Campbell report: "The 
   American Numismatic Society is pleased to announce that 
   its library catalog can now be searched on-line at  While this is a 
   preliminary version of a developing tool, we hope that 
   it proves useful to researchers and collectors alike. 

   To date the ANS has put its object database, a growing 
   number of images, and now the library catalog on the 
   world wide web. The next step is to re-implement the 
   on-line search of Numismatic Literature.  It will be 
   interesting to see how these four tools will complement 
   each other as part of a single resource for numismatic 
   research and learning. 

   All suggestions or corrections will be appreciated." 
   Mr. Campbell can be reached at: 


   Speaking of search features, several people in recent 
   months have commented on how useful it would be to have 
   a search feature on the NBS web site.   Well, now we 
   do.  A full text search feature is now available from 
   the home page.  Click on "Search", then enter your query 
   in the box and click on the button. 

   Including the Bibliography and E-Sylum archive, all 181 
   pages of the web site are indexed.  Be sure to read the 
   "Help on Searching" to learn how to form your queries 
   for best results.   The NBS web site is located at: 


   In a note to ANA webmaster Susan Nulty, Andy Lustig  
   wrote: "Hate to be the  bearer of bad news, but the 
   Clark Gruber $20 on your home page is fake. Experts 
   differ on these, but some other photo should be used." 

   At this writing the photo is at this address: 

   As a follow-on, he posed the following to readers of 
   The E-Sylum: "There are two distinct types of 1861 
   Clark Gruber twenties. The ones that are semi-prooflike 
   and have somewhat concave fields (most apparent at the 
   peripheries) are, in my opinion, fake. Can anyone 
   locate a plated "fake" prior to 1950? I doubt it! 

   The Clark Gruber overstrikes, such as the piece struck 
   over a 57-S twenty, are from the suspect dies, and have 
   the same PL tendencies. How 'bout dat???" 


   In response to the call for comments on Walter Breen's 
   Encyclopedia, Researcher and author D. Wayne Johnson 
   writes: "Most of my comments are about the illustrations: 

   (1) Placing illustrations beneath the descriptions was a 
   terrible mistake.  Visually the stronger element should 
   be above with the descriptions below; as "art and 

   (2) The illustrations are not lined up, they bounce all 
   over the column; I would have preferred obverse and 
   reverse brought together in the exact center of the 
   column almost, but not quite touching. 

   (3) Breen gathered his photographs from many sources. 
   While he had to use what he got, the density of the 
   photos are more annoying than their haphazard placement 
   in the column width. Perhaps it was not possible to make 
   the photos more uniform density at the time of 
   publication. Now it is possible to do this via computer. 

   (4) The enlargements of the Patterns of 1792 (pages 
   156-157) was a great idea but could have been more 
   artistically treated. The if-it-won't-fit-in-a-column- 
   school of layout makes a very unattractive unbalanced 

   (5) "The Bibliography, Abbreviations, Typographic 
   Conventions" in the appendix was a real catchall. I 
   would have preferred separate charts. The use of the 
   equal sign in this section is somewhat disconcerting. 

   Good Points: 

   (6) I greatly admire Walter's numbering system: serial 
   numbers from 1 up [7,343 items in numbers up to 8035, 
   with just enough open numbers for future issues].  It 
   was sheer genius to organize everything in one system 
   that is simple but very effective.  Future additions 
   are possible without disturbing the existing numbers. 

   (7) I liked the Metrology section and the Inscription 
   Index, both in the front, and the Glossary and the two 
   separate indexes in the back. But the worst problem of 

   (8) My pages have separated from the binding. The 
   sections I have used most -- almost every page in the 
   back -- are loose and sticking out from the pages 
   still fastened to the spine.  I have an autographed and 
   inscribed copy that I highly cherish (which now I 
   realize I should have set aside and used a second copy 
   for everyday use)." 

   A couple other subscribers had comments which we'll 
   save for next week.  


   D. Wayne Johnson went on to add: "Incidentally, has 
   anyone broken Walter's secret code?  What is the 
   meaning of the secret mark "297B" in the name index 
   following the name Robert Graham? 

   It is no secret Walter did not like the design of the 
   1984 Olympic Silver Dollar. His words are well chosen, 
   yet very unflattering in his description. But the "297B" 
   in the index does not refer to the page number (606), 
   nor the catalog number (7602) of this coin.  Could it be 
   Walter's secret word for what he really meant?  Can it 
   appear in print in this proper publication?  Was it his 
   way of sticking it to the artist? I'm curious to know." 


   Here are some items relating to numismatic literature 
   taken from the February 28, 2000 issue of COIN World: 


   On Saturday, March 4, 2000, at the ANA midyear convention 
   in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, "COIN World Editor Beth Deisher 
   will discuss "First the Book: Building a Core Numismatic 
   Library," a program that covers 10 essential books 
   needed to collect U.S. coins and how to build a library." 


   In the letters to the Editor section, Robert S. Williams 
   discusses the 1804 Silver Dollar "recovery" ads that  
   have been running in that publication (see The E-Sylum, 
   Vol 3, No. 4).  "It would be hoped that Mr. Brown had 
   his coin attributed by one of the grading services or 
   by an otherwise qualified numismatist ... meanwhile, I 
   would hope that knowledgeable members of the  
   numismatic community would comment to Coin World on 
   this unusual situation." (p11) 


   David T. Alexander of Stack's has an article titled: 
   "Numismatic Auctions: 20th Century Auction Catalogs 
   Collectible in their Own Right."   The article gets 
   our vote for best adjectival description of a coin 
   dealer:  "a bumptious young immigrant from Russian 
   Lithuania, B. Max Mehl." (no doubt sending nearly 
   everyone but George Kolbe to their dictionaries). 
   (p 20)  


   In his "The Joys of Collecting" column, Q. David  
   Bowers, describing his visits to the New Netherlands 
   Coin Company, writes: "Breen's numismatic focus  
   tended to be narrow, with frequent consultation of 
   selected numismatic reference books and a limited 
   number of auction catalogs.  This was a limitation, 
   as based on a very limited survey, Walter would 
   state ex cathedra that "only five are known" of a 
   certain coin, whereas if he had looked further, he 
   might have multiplied his estimates. 

   On the other hand, beyond numismatics, Breen could 
   discuss anything from the philosophy of Ayn Rand 
   (whom he had met) to the ancient plays of 
   Aristophanes to the tidal theory of planetary 
   formation..."  (p76) 


   This week's featured web site is the History of Japanese 
   Currencies hosted by the Bank of Japan.  The illustrations 
   and text are excellent.   If you're a collector of U.S. 
   currency, particularly National Bank Notes, be sure to 
   visit section 19, "National Banknotes":   "Banknotes were 
   issued by the 153 national banks. The forms and designs 
   of all the national banks' notes were the same except for 
   the banks' names."  The similarity to U.S. nationals is 

  Wayne Homren 
  Numismatic Bibliomania Society 

  The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a 
  non-profit organization promoting numismatic 
  literature.   For more information please see 
  our web site at 
  There is a membership application available on 
  the web site.  To join, print the application and 
  return it with your check to the address printed 
  on the application.   For those without web access, 
  contact Dave Hirt, NBS Secretary-Treasurer, 
  5911 Quinn Orchard Road, Frederick, MD 21704 

  (To be removed from this mailing list 
   write to me at   

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