The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 3, Number 29, July 16, 2000: 
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society. 
Copyright (c) 2000, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society. 


   We have two new subscribers this week: Leslie Zeller, and 
   longtime NBS member Patrick Turner.  Welcome aboard! 
   This brings our subscriber count to 301. 

   Pat Turner writes: "I have been reviewing the last couple years 
   of The Asylum while recuperating from a minor operation and I 
   find it a thoroughly enjoyable magazine. 

   Joel Orosz is always a good read and I have been having a 
   wonderful time with Randolph Zander's Reminiscences.  I 
   guess I could be called an "old-timer" in numismatic terms as 
   I was active in the sixties and seventies and was fortunate to 
   count among my friends people such as John Pittman and 
   George Hatie and in Canada Doug Ferguson, Fred Bowman 
   and Sheldon Carroll." 


   NBS Secretary-Treasurer Dave Hirt brought back a very 
   special souvenir from his recent trip to Hungary.   He and his 
   new bride Emilia were married in Budapest on May 27th. 

   Dave has his work cut out for him as NBS dues payments 
   and membership applications piled up while he was away. 
   Please be patient and we'll soon have things straightened out. 
   Dave asked me to remind members that dues envelopes were 
   included with every copy of the 2000 No. 1 issue;  if you 
   haven't sent in your dues, please do so to ensure your 
   continued membership. 


   The Spring 2000 issue of The Asylum (volume 17, no. 2) 
   should be sent to the printer tomorrow.  The issue features an 
   interesting article by Lord Stewartby on Edward Burns, author 
   of the classic 1887 reference, "The Coinage of Scotland". 
   Joel Orosz' Printer's Devil column examines "Samuel Breck 
   and his Historical Sketch of Continental Paper Money". 
   (By the way, the July 24, 2000 issue of COIN WORLD 
   has a nice review of the previous issue of The Asylum on p78). 


   The Numismatic Indexes Project of the Harry Bass Research 
   Foundation (HBRF) is back online at: 


   Jim Spilman reports: "The NEW NIP is a very high speed search 
   and reporting database containing over 75,000 index entries.  We 
   believe that the NEW NIP represents the most complete & 
   in-depth database available for American numismatic publications." 
   The indexed publications include: 

   American Journal of Numismatics, 1st Series 1866-1924 
   ANS Proceedings 1878-1914 
   Museum Notes 1945-1988 
   American Journal of Numismatics, 2nd Series 1989-Current 
   Coinage of the Americas Conference 1984-Current 
   Numismatic Notes and Monographs 1921-1968 
   Numismatic Studies 1938-1993 
   The Colonial Newsletter 
   The Numismatist (ANA), 1888-Current 
   Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine, 1935-1975 
   Numismatic Review, 1943-1947 
   Coin Collector's Journal, 1875-1888 
   Coin Collector's Journal - New Series, 1934-1954 
   The Celator 1987-Current 
   The Asylum 1980-1997 


   Numismatic bookseller Karl Moulton has published his 
   July 2000 fixed price list of American Numismatic 
   Literature.  For more information, contact him at 

   On p34 of the list is the following statement, worthy 
   of repeating here:  "Information is cheaper than coins, 
   but has a much greater value!  Why not consider 
   joining the Numismatic Bibliomania Society?" 

   Why not, indeed!  If you subscribe to The E-Sylum, 
   but haven't yet joined NBS, please consider doing so. 
   Membership details (as always) are available on our 
   website and at the end of this message. 


   Karl writes in the introduction to his list: "...another significant 
   evolutionary event has come to pass.  The numismatic 
   catalogue compact disc has now become a reality.  Heritage 
   released the first American CD for the May 2000 Central 
   States sale.  Several years ago I wrote that there will be a 
   time coming in the near future when no more auction 
   catalogues will be printed.  Now I predict it will take less 
   than 10 years before this form of catalogue CD becomes the 
   accepted norm in the entire marketplace.  Anyone care to 
   make some friendly wagers payable at the 2010 ANA 

   Establishing a 'first' requires a solid definition as well as 
   a good bit of investigation.  The Heritage CD probably is 
   a first among the major U.S. numismatic auction houses; 
   have any other firms around the world issued one?   Should 
   the definition exclude web-based catalogs?  For example, 
   Dennis Kroh's Empire Numismatics dropped print catalogs 
   in favor of online sales a year or two ago. 

   What about a CD which duplicates web site listings? 
   One firm, Cybercoins, offers a CD of their web site to people 
   who want faster access to pictures and other content than they 
   can get via modems;  Will numismatic CD's become obsolete 
   as fast internet connections become more prevalent? 

   Your editor's guess is that the numismatic CD is an interim step, 
   but one which will continue to have a place as a fixed long-term 
   record of electronic information, which changes and disappears 
   quickly on the web.  Case in point:  Empire Coins ceased 
   operations January 1, 2000;  Dennis now focusses on another 
   business, Empire Arms.   Empire Coins catalogs are still 
   available on the web, but for how long? 


   Dave Cleaves writes: I saw your note in the last edition of The 
   E-Sylum. I have two copies of the 1930 edition, one with the 
   original dust jacket (missing a 1" X 2" piece from the rear 
   cover) and one copy without the dust jacket. 


   Carl Honore writes: "The sewer story on last week's Featured 
   Web Site reminded me of Sherlock Holmes and "The Red 
   Headed League", where the villain tunnels under the street to 
   emerge from a sewer into the storage room of the bank." 

   For those who didn't drill down to read the story on the 
   Bank of England web site, I'll excerpt it here: 

   "About 1836 the Directors of the Bank are said to have 
   received an anonymous letter stating that the writer had access 
   to the Bank's bullion.  Somewhat melodramatically he offered 
   to meet them in the bullion vault at any hour they chose. 

   Although disbelieving at first, the Directors were finally 
   persuaded to assemble one night in the vault. At the appointed 
   hour a noise was heard from beneath the floor and the 
   mysterious correspondent suddenly appeared from below 
   merely by displacing a few floor boards. 

   Apparently he was a sewerman who, during repair work to the 
   sewers, had discovered an old drain which ran immediately 
   under the bullion vault. He might have carried away enormous 
   sums but in fact nothing had been removed and for his honesty 
   the Bank is said to have rewarded him with a gift of £800." 


   Darryl Atchison writes: "The Breen debate goes on it seems. 
   I have personally convinced at least a dozen collectors on this 
   side of the Atlantic to purchase copies for their own libraries 
   because it does represent an important and as yet unsurpassed 
   benchmark in American numismatics, especially for the colonial 
   coins listed.  It may not be a flawless text but, who cares? 
   Anyone doing research would certainly use more than one 
   source anyhow, wouldn't they? 

   Thanks to the members who responded to my plea on reading 
   old books and catalogues.  I have taken their suggestions to 
   heart and hope to enjoy my 1870's text soon. 

   Finally, if anyone has a duplicate copy of the 1962 ANA/CNA 
   convention catalogue from Detroit, I would really like to get my 
   hands on one." 


   Subscriber Nolan Mims of Mobile, AL, writes: "I am spearheading 
   the effort to establish the Gulf Coast Numismatic Association. The 
   organizational meeting will be on August 7th, 7:00PM at Carpe 
   Diem Coffee & Tea Company, 4072 Old Shell Road, Mobile, AL. 
   We will offer a place for collectors to meet monthly and talk coins, 
   have educational programs, and perhaps do a little trading. There 
   will be a newsletter and an annual show.  We will welcome all 
   interested numismatists and bibliophiles. For further information, 
   contact Nolan Mims at: 


   Michael E. Marotta offers the following brief observation on 
   "Western American Gold and Unparted Bars: a Review of the 
   Evidence" by Michael Hodder, which appears in the American 
   Numismatic Society's AJN Second Series 11 (1999): 

   "Consistently observational and never theoretical in his method, 
   Hodder demonstrates that there is no general way to distinguish 
   genuine bars from fakes. For myself, as a fan of the "Columbo" 
   series of mysteries, I was most impressed with Hodder's 
   explanations of what one would have to do if one were motivated 
   to create simulation assay bars." 

   A reading of the article shows "what one would have to do" 
   discussions on p136-137 (for the Western bars) and  p145-146 
   (for the Mexican bars).  The paper's conclusion is that "The 
   Mexican bars remain in a sort of numismatic limbo, awaiting the 
   attention of serious study." but that "the question of the Western 
   bars should now be settled in their favor." 

   As a bibliophile, your editor naturally found the footnotes and 
   bibliography as interesting as the text, referring as they do to 
   rare manuscripts, such as Breen's "Evidence to be Read at the 
   Trial of the Knave of Hearts" and the report of the USAOG 
   Study Group.   Still to be published is Daniel Owens' upcoming 
   book, "California Coiners and Assayers, 1849-1863", 
   described as "in press". 


   Howard A. Daniel III writes: "I like your weekly missive very 
   much.  I do not collect or research United States numismatics 
   but I still enjoy reading your stuff.   There was an article in a 
   recent issue of Coin World about the definition of the word "coin". 
   It was an excellent article and something I think is very lacking 
   in numismatics, which is the proper use and definitions of words. 
   What is a coin?  What is a token?  What is a medal?  Can you 
   make a section of your weekly missive into an area where your 
   subscribers can discuss numismatic definitions?  I will definitely 
   comment and submit my two cents worth to it!" 

   Sounds like a fine idea.  It would be interesting to see which 
   published definitions of the terms our subscribers prefer, as well 
   as what definitions they'd offer of their own.  Since we're all 
   bibliophiles here, let's start with the question of published 
   definitions - which is the most authoritative reference for the 
   definition of numismatic terms? 

   For example, handy to my desk is a copy of the 6th edition 
   of the COIN WORLD Almanac.  The Numismatic Terms 
   chapter lists these definitions: 

   COIN - usually a piece of metal, marked with a device, issued 
   by a governing authority and intended to be used as money. 

   TOKEN - usually a piece of durable material appropriately 
   marked and unofficially issued for monetary, advertising, 
   services, or other purposes. 

   MEDAL - usually a piece of metal, marked with a design or 
   description, made to honor a person, place, or event; not 
   intended to pass as money. 

   While we're on the subject, can anyone tell us who authored 
   the COIN WORLD Almanac Numismatic Terms chapter? 
   And on which references it was based? 


   This week's featured web page from the Journal of Internet 
   Banking and Commerce describes the history of tally sticks, 
   the medieval precursor to the credit card. 

   "A woman in Atlanta, curious about a bunch of "twigs" that 
   had been passed down through several generations of her 
   family, contacted a Sotheby's representative about them. 
   They turned out to be a large collection of rare wooden tally 
   sticks, used in the 13th century to compute royal receipts, and 
   were sold at auction for $32,912.  The story of the wooden tally 
   stick provides a rich source of analogy and anecdote about the 
   evolution of money technologies." 

  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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