The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 3, Number 31, July 30, 2000: 
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society. 
Copyright (c) 2000, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society. 


   We have two new subscribers this week: Peter Mosiondz, Jr., 
   and Serge Pelletier of Silver Spring, MD.  Serge writes: "Doug 
   Andrews forwarded to me E-Sylum Vol. 3, No. 30,  great info, 
   please sign me up!" 

   Welcome aboard!  This brings our subscriber count to 304. 
   Next week we'll have a burst of new subscribers as a result 
   of the sign-up section on the new NBS dues envelopes. 
   Secretary Dave Hirt forwarded a hefty stack which will take 
   some time to process. 


   The 2000 No. 2 issue of The Asylum was mailed last week 
   to all current NBS members, and has begun appearing in 
   mailboxes.  Included with each issue is a ballot for voting on 
   the Best Asylum Article of 1999.   John Bergman will tally the 
   votes;  ballots should be postmarked by August 2, 2000. 
   The winner will be announced at the annual meeting at the 
   ANA Convention in Philadelphia August 11, 2000. 

   We recognize that the vagaries of the postal system coupled 
   with the late mailing of the issue may make this a very tight 
   deadline for some members.  As a result, we will also accept 
   emailed votes received by midnight August 2nd, PDT. 
   (Pacific Daylight Time). 

   Vote for no more than three articles.  Send your votes to 
   me at this address:  Please 
   include "Asylum Vote" in the subject line, and include your 
   NBS mailing address in the body of the message.  I will 
   confirm your NBS membership status and forward your votes 
   to John Bergman.   Remember - email your vote ONLY if 
   you don''t receive your ballot by August 2nd. 


   In response to my question about Walter Breen's "Cynic's 
   Dictionary, David Fanning writes: "I don't know the answer to 
   this question, though I've wondered about the Dictionary fairly 
   often.  I was a good friend of Walter's and stayed with him for 
   three weeks ten years ago, during which time I read much of 
   the manuscript/typescript. 

   I have copies of a number of entries, mostly included by him 
   in letters to me.  I got out of the coin business in 1990 and so 
   don't know if he published any of the definitions in numismatic 
   publications around that time (except in the Legacy interview). 

   In a letter to me written on Sept. 28, 1989, he wrote "I have 
   been working on this project since 1982; it is complete but in 
   process of updating.  My agent is enthusiastically showing it to 
   various NY publishers, almost certain that one or another will 
   buy it.  The latest news is that Oxford Univ. Press wanted it 
   but that someone upstairs (outranking their editor in chief) was 
   scared off by its extremely controversial political positions and 
   its use of four-letter words.  It exposes every sacred cow I can 
   find as baloney in drag." 

   One of the definitions I have is for "Coin Dealer," which reads 
   as follows: 

      coin dealers n. phr.  Apt to believe themselves prey of 
      cherrypickers.  Nevertheless, many brag to their peers 
      about the rarities they just cherrypicked from some walk-in 
      yokel.  Prov. 20:14; Isaiah 24:16. 

        Even some of the least educated display the title 
        "Professional Numismatis," like Eeyore's tail pinned to 
        his rump.  Their pitfalls are greed, dishonesty, and stupidity. 
        God bless the rare exceptions. 

   I lost touch with his family after he died and so don't know 
   what became of this book.  I'd very much like to read it." 


   John W. Adams writes: "In the last issue, Mr. Leonard 
   expresses his doubts about a specific Blake & Agnell gold 
   bar. Be it said that there are rebuttals to all the points he 
   makes - i.e. other Western gold bars contain misspellings 
   (e.g. Parsons, e.g.Schultz), other gold bars/coins of the period 
   are 6% or more light (see Eckfeldt & Dubois) and other 
   known bars presumed to be good do not look like some of 
   those found in the wreck of the Central America (e.g. Moffat). 

   These points made, Mr. Leonard could still be right in his 
   contention. What we learned from this extended controversy 
   is that the most reliable means of testing any given piece is a 
   non-destructive assay; there is a fingerprint to the composition 
   of these items that appears to be definitive. 

   Blake & Agnell aside, I would like to urge E-Sylum readers to 
   take a few hours to decipher the whole argument.  All that is 
   required (other than the time) is the last two issues of the AJN 
   (obtainable from the A.N.S.) and the tape of the Great Debate 
   (obtainable from the A.N.A.). The points to be learned from 
   Mr.Buttrey's and Mr. Hodder's presentations, along with 
   comparisons thereof, are so many as to amount to a graduate 
   course in numismatics. Note that there may be one more 
   chapter to be written: Mr.Buttrey is being sued for libel by 
   Stack's and John Ford;  Mr. B's most obvious defense will be 
   to prove that his various allegations are the truth." 


   NBS Board member Larry Mitchell sends this interesting 
   note:  "In 1999, James Weber of Calgary, Alberta, paid his 
   tax bill (equivalent to about $75,000 U.S.) dollar-for-dollar 
   with Colombian pesos (worth about $50 U.S.), arguing that 
   the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency failed to print its 
   dollar signs with two bars through the "S." 

   A dollar sign with only one bar through the S, he said, is used 
   only by several South American currencies, and thus he is now 
   paid in full. (In March 2000, an appeals court ruled against him, 
   despite his having produced several favorable historical banking 
   documents from as far back as 1910.)" 


   David Cassel writes: "I have been getting every consecutively 
   numbered catalog of Swiss Bank (UBS) since  1996, Catalog 
   number 41.  No CD was included in any mailings to me before 
   the catalog #48, December 1999.  Unless I somehow missed 
   a prior CD, I would assume that #48 was the first for UBS. 

   If you would like to contact UBS, their e-Mail address is" 

   Michael Marotta writes: "On the subject of CD Catalogs, as 
   international editor at Coin World, I received a CD of Product 
   Photography from the Perth Mint. This was Volume 5 in a series. 
   It came across my desk on June 28, 1999. (The disk was quickly 
   declared "in error" and was superseded by a replacement.) The 
   Perth Mint is a commercial enterprise and this disk included 
   images of their work for other nations.  I consider it a catalog. 
   Perhaps my predecessor, Richard Giedroyc, can shed some light." 


   Our topic of numismatic terms has generated quite a bit 
   of interest. 

   Serge Pelletier writes: "Doug forwarded your e-mail because he 
   knows I am working on a "Canadian Dictionary of Numismatics" 
   and that the question from Bob Knepper would definitely interest 
   me.  Here is the light I can shed on the subject: 

      MEDAL:  CoinNews (UK) define the term in their 2000 
      Yearbook as "A piece of metal bearing devices or given as 
      an award. Military medals date generally from the 16th and 
      17th centuries, but were not generally awarded to all ranks 
      until the 19th century.  Commemorative medals can trace their 
      origin back to Roman times, but in their present form they date 
      from the Italian Renaissance when there was a fashion for 
      large-diameter cast portrait medals."   They further state that a 
      "medalet" is a small medal of 25mm or less and a "medallion" 
      is a large medal of 50mm or more.  I must add some caveats 
      in that "Military medals" are commonly referred to in North 
      America as "decorations" to avoid confusion.  Furthermore, 
      even though "medal" is the more generic term, the tendancy in 
      North America is to use "medallion" as the generic with "medal" 
      being the larger size one. 

      JETON:  CoinNews "Alternative term for "counter", and used 
      originally on the chequerboard employed by medieval 
      accountants.  Nuremberg was the most important centre for 
      the production of medieval jetons, often issued in lengthy 
      portrait series.  Carlton in his "International Encyclopaedic 
      Dictionary of Numismatics" simply states that it is the French 
      translation of "token".  Carlton is quite right to say so, 
      particularly in North America.  However, Gallléazzi in his 
      "Lexique numismatique" clarifies that for the French there are 
      three types of jetons: jetons de compte (usually refered to as 
      jetons or counters in English), jetons de circonstance ou à 
      thème (would more appropriately be translated as a medal) 
      and jetons-valeurs (appropriately translated tokens). 

      TOKEN:  CoinNews "Any piece of money whose nominal 
      value is greater than its intrinsic value is, strictly speaking, a 

      token or promise.  Thus most of the coins issued since 1964 
      can be regarded in this light, but numismatist reserve the term 
      for a piece of limited validity and circulation, produced by 
      tradesmen, chambers of commerce and other organisations 
      during times of a shortage of government coinage. (...) Tokens 
      with a nominal value may be produced for security reasons to 
      lessen the possibility of theft from milk bottles, vending 
      machines, telephones, parking meters... 

   My simplified and simplistic approach to it is as follows: I only 
   use "jeton" in English to describe medieval counters; any piece 
   with a denomination or a "good for" value on it is a "token", and 
   everything else that is not a coin is a "medal"! 

   So, I hope this will help Mr. Knepper.  I don't know what he 
   collects but he should definitely consider Municipal Trade Tokens 
   for his thematic collection." 

   Bill Malkmus writes: "In the microtrivia category: You may have 
   gotten other responses, but will comment since I just happened 
   to be reading a Spanish paper about a countermark on a jeton. 
   The (Spanish) author distinguishes between the two terms as in 
   your comment, and uses "contramarca" for countermark as you 
   defined, but uses "resello" for your definition of "counterstamp." 
   The paper I'm referring to was published by Juan Jose Moreno y 
   Casanova, "Contramarca privada sobre un jeton frances," 
   Gaceta numismatica 126, 49-56 (1997).   (I'm not touching the 
   "jeton" part of the definitions!}" 

   Robert A. Levinson writes:  "I will take a stab at the differences 
   between medals, tokens and jetons.  Medals are items which 
   commemorate things, events and people. Tokens are items 
   used for exchange or goods. Jetons are counting tokens used 
   originally to calculate mathematics and later, with the advent of 
   modern math spreading throughout Europe by the early 1600s, 
   found other purposes as presentation pieces, propaganda 
   devices and small medals." 

   Jørgen Sømod writes:  "A jeton is a little medal.  A token can be 
   used for some kind of payment.  An advertising piece is a jeton 
   and a communion token is still a token, even the admission is free." 


   Jørgen Sømod continues on the subject of countermark and 
   counterstamp:  "Both terms should be used on official pieces, 
   but to a goldsmith's or engraver's test, I would use the term 

   Ralf W. Bopple of Stuttgart, Germany writes: "I am on the 
   E-Sylum mailing list for almost a year now, and will finally be 
   able to contribute to your fine journal! 

   As a coin collector with much interest in counterstamped coins, 
   I have come in touch with the 'counterstamp vs. countermark' 
   discussion quite often. Yes, it is true that the words are mostly 
   used interchangeably by cataloguers.  I go along with Alan 
   Luedeking's definition, that is, defining a counterstamp as having 
   an 'official' background. This is also backed by Burzio's 
   'Diccionario de la Moneda Hispanoamericana', in which a 
   clear distinction is made between a 'resello' (indeed the Spanish 
   equivalent to counterstamp) applied by a governmental entity and 
   containing some official coat of arms or state symbol, and a 
   'contramarca', which is more generally defined as any kind of 
   number, symbol, letter, or monogram, applied by individuals or 
   political factions for various reasons. 

   Given the colorful history behind most counterstamps and 
   countermarks, one can easily imagine that it is not always possible 
   to make a clear distinction there. 

   The definite work on counterstamps in German (Ehrend/Schreier: 
   Gegenstempel auf Muenzen, Speyer, 1975) does not differentiate 
   between counterstamps and countermarks. In German, the word is 
   'Gegenstempel' (old-fashioned: Kontermarke), where 'Stempel' 
   signifies both 'stamp' and 'die'. Ehrend/Schreier explicitly exclude 
   'Punzungen' (punch marks) from the vast field of counterstamps, 
   that is, they don't count test or validation marks, like the Chinese 
   chops, or assay marks like the ones found on Japanese obans or 
   Brasilean 'Sampex' bars. 

   Thus, the countermark vs. counterstamp discussion does not exist 
   in Germany, simply because there is only one term!  I hope this 
   has been helpful, and I am looking forward to the replies by other 


   On July 19, 1832,  The Boston Weekly Messenger published 
   the following article, which in turn was copied from the 
   Hampshire Gazette: 

   "NEW SPECULATION! -- Within a few days there have been 
   runners in most of the towns in this vicinity, gathering up cents 
   coined in 1814.  They find but few and buy them as they can, 
   giving 2, 4, 6, 10, 12 or 17 cents each; and we have heard of 
   75 cents being given for a single cent. 12 1-2 cents have been 
   offered in this town. The story is that in 1814 some gold was 
   accidentally mixed with the copper at the United States Mint, 
   and that the cents of that year contain gold. We verily believe 
   that the whole affair is a humbug, and that the cents of 1814 are 
   of no more intrinsic value than those of any other year. It has been 
   suggested that the speculation originated in the following manner. 
   Copper was very scarce in 1814, on account of the war, and but 
   few cents were coined at the mint during that year. Some virtuosi, 
   who were desirous of laying up in their cabinets specimens of the 
   coinage of every year, could not find any cents coined in 1814, 
   and offered certain toll-gatherers a dollar or two to collect for 
   them a few cents of that year. This offer led others to suppose 
   that the cents of 1814 contained gold. -- We know not whether 
   this be a true explanation of the mystery. " 

   The March 27, 1997 issue of The Coin Collector, published 
   by Bowers and Merena Galleries printed this interesting 

   "During the last century there was a persistent rumor to the 
   effect that at the Mint in 1814 a pot of molten gold was emptied 
   by mistake into a pot of copper from which planchets for cents 
   were made.  Thus, cents of this date were of great value for 
   their gold content.  Every so often someone would offer a cent 
   of 1814 to the Mint, seeking a strong premium for it. 
   Unfortunately for the possessors of such cents, the rumor was 

   However, it is likely that 1814 cents did contain at least a 
   little bit of gold, as did other large copper cents of that era. 
   William Ewing Dubois, assistant assayer at the Philadelphia 
   Mint, presented a paper, "On the Natural Dissemination of 
   Gold," to the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, 
   in June 1861.  He noted that a cent of 1822, made on a 
   planchet imported from England, proved to have gold to the 
   extent of 1 part in 14,500, which, because of the value of 
   the gold, meant that every 20 cents of that date contained, 
   in the aggregate, one cent's worth of gold.  An 1843 cent, 
   made of copper obtained from a New England source, was 
   found to have a higher content; 14 of those cents contained 
   one cent of the precious metal.  Gold was found to exist as 
   an "impurity" in most batches of copper." 


   This week's featured web page is a very useful reference 
   listing serial numbers of known reproductions of  U.S. 
   banknotes.   Anyone who answers numismatic questions 
   from the general public should bookmark this page. 

   Amaze people with your psychic ability, like the time I 
   told a caller that the serial number of the $1,000 Bank of 
   the U.S. note he was describing to me over the phone 
   was "8894". 

  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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