The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 4, Number 25, June 17, 2001: 
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society. 
Copyright (c) 2001, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society. 


   We have no new subscribers this week. Our subscriber count 
   holds at 400.   Happy Father's  Day, Dads! 


   The Spring 2001 (Vol XIX, No. 2) issue of The Asylum was 
   to be mailed to paid-up members of NBS on Thursday, June 
   14th.  Contents of the issue include: 

   The Roman Imperial Coinage: History of a Remarkable 
   Series, by Douglas Saville (reprinted from The Celator, 1993) 

   The Printer's Devil: Frederick S. W. Mayers'  The Literature 
   of American Numismatics: The First Such Article Published 
   in the U.S., by Joel J. Orosz 

   News From the Net (an E-Sylum summary) by Pete Smith 


   The balance of the Spring 2001 issue contains statements 
   by candidates for Numismatic Bibliomania Society offices. 
   Inserted with each issue is an election ballot, which must be 
   returned by July 10th.  This time David Lange takes on the 
   role of official vote counter, traditionally held by the late John 

   We have an abundance of fine candidates in this election, a 
   testament to our Society's good health.  Best of luck to all 
   the candidates, especially the first-timers.   New blood brings 
   new ideas and a fresh energy and perspective.  Thanks to all 
   for their willingness to step up and serve our Society. 


   Spink and Son Ltd. issued the following announcement about 
   their web site:  "We are phasing out the 'Search'  section that 
   used to be on the site.  Books will now be listed in the same 
   way as other stock and the first batch is available here: 

   There will be further additions to stock (and we also promise that 
   we will improve on the quality of the images!)" 


   Dick Johnson writes: "To add one more item on numismatic 
   themes in syndicated cartoons in last couple E-Sylums: 

   While I was in the service I was stationed at one of the 
   National Security Agency's spy locations near Washington 
   DC (in1955).  Civilians worked alongside military personnel. 
   In my department was a deaf-mute civilian woman in about 
   her forties. She had a friend's daughter (early twenties) visit 
   her one week to see Washington.  The sightseeing exhausted 
   my coworker by Thursday.   So she wanted me to take out 
   her visitor Friday and Saturday for a couple nights on the 
   town before returning  to New York City Sunday.  Since 
   she knew I only made about a $100 a month serviceman's 
   pay she offered to underwrite the entire cost of the weekend's 

   I did.  The visitor didn't return to New York until the following 
   Monday. However my coworker paid up. Later we exchanged 
   letters and I guess I had told her I was a coin collector.  One 
   day, unexpectedly, I received a large flat package. She worked 
   for King Features Syndicate in midtown Manhattan and had 
   dug out of their archives the original art work of a Walt Disney 
   Donald Duck 13-panel Sunday cartoon strip. 

   It shows Donald wanting a hobby and he choose numismatics. 
   The last panel shows Donald with a tin cup soliciting coins from 
   pedestrians under a sign "I am a Numismatist, Please Help Me." 
   It had run nationwide Sunday August 8, 1954. 

   I was delighted, and exhibited it at an ANA convention in 
   Chicago 1956.  I had framed the art work and it has hung on 
   my wall ever since.  But that's not the end of the story.  I know 
   original cartoon art has become highly collectible, so I wanted 
   it appraised.  Before the Museum of Cartoon Art moved to 
   Florida it was originally here in Connecticut.   I called one day 
   to ask a curator for a verbal estimate of its value.  Later, my 
   wife wanted to go to the Antiques Roadshow when it came to 
   nearby Hartford. 

   I took that Disney cartoon strip. She took a commemorative 
   spoon (issued by Farran Zerbe for the 1904 St. Louis World's 
   Fair with a Thomas Jefferson one dollar gold coin inset in the 
   bowl).  The Antiques Roadshow appraisers undervalued both: 
   they appraised the Disney cartoon a tenth of the curator's 
   estimate.  But the commemorative spoon with inset with a 
   gold dollar they appraised at $35 where the coin alone is 
   worth ... 

   Well, draw your own conclusions about Antiques Roadshow 


   Paul DiMarzio writes: "Your E-Sylums have finally tempted 
   me into joining the NBS.  I sent in my application last week. 

   I have a simple question.  I have a nice book from the 1850's 
   on British coinage that needs repair.   The binding and spine 
   have separated, leaving the pages loose.  I'd like to have the 
   book re-bound to make it useful,  keeping the original cover. 
   Do you have any contacts for this kind of work?  This is not 
   a rare book and it only cost me $40 so I'm not looking for a 
   full-blown conservation effort, just want to make the book 
   useful as a reference (in other words, I need a relatively 
   inexpensive repair job!).  I have one estimate of $60+ 
   (minimum charge, pending a look at the book).  Thanks in 
   advance for any information you might have." 

   [Doesn't anyone have a book conservator to recommend? 
   Last week Dick Hanscom asked a similar question, but 
   we've had no response.  I've never known our E-Sylum 
   readers to be stumped for long...] 


   Gregg Silvis writes: "I am doing some research and find myself 
   in need of some information that may be included in the 
   "Catalogue of Colonial, United States Coins from the Cabinet 
   of Dr. Edward Maris" (6/21/1886) cataloged by Harlan P. 
   Smith.  I've already checked the OCLC WorldCat database 
   and this catalogue is not included among the 41 million items in 
   that database, nor is the catalogue held by the American 
   Numismatic Society library. 

   Should any E-Sylum subscribers own a copy of the Maris 
   catalogue and be willing to look up something in it for me, 
   please contact me at  Thanks!" 


   In answer to last week's question on movie prop cash (also 
   known as stage money), Granvyl G. Hulse, Jr., (Librarian 
   Numismatics International) writes:  "I am sitting on a bundle 
   of raw data on movie prop money sent to the NI Library. 
   The person who donated it thinks that it might make a good 
   reference and will work with anyone who is interested enough 
   in the subject to want to write something for publication." 


   Dick Johnson writes: "Anyone who has experienced the 
   innate terror of the library shelves closing in on them at the 
   American Numismatic Society library would NEVER 
   recommend this for ANA.   I don't remember what I 
   screamed, but I made my presence known verbally. 
   What if I couldn't scream?" 


   At a recent local coin club meeting, the name of engraver 
   John Gregory Hancock came up.  Hancock engraved some 
   lovely tokens in the Conder series while as young as nine 
   years old.  A number of his tokens relating to George 
   Washington are listed in chapter fourteen of the Breen 

   "John Gregory Hancock, Sr. (1775-1815), was a 
   juvenile engraving prodigy, becoming one of the finest 
   artists in the history of 18th-century British diemaking. 
   While working for Birmingham token manufacturer 
   Obadiah Westwood, Hancock received the honorific 
   assignment for making dies for two types of cents 
   portraying George Washington, as samples for a 
   proposed federal contract coinage...  These are the 
   famous Large Eagle and Small Eagle cents.  Hancock's 
   portrait punch derived from an engraved copy of Pierre 
   Eugene DuSimitiere's drawing." (Breen, p137) 

   The portrait designs were rejected by Washington as 
   "too monarchical," and the Mint Act of April 2, 1792 
   specifically called for emblems of Liberty on America's 

   "When news of Washington's rejection reached 
   Birmingham, John Gregory Hancock (doubtless with 
   Westwood's gleeful consent, possibly even at his 
   instigation) undertook an extraordinary piece of 
   revenge.  As Washington's spokesman had compared 
   the idea of presidential portraits on coins to the practices 
   of Nero, Caligula, and Cromwell, so Hancock's (and/or 
   Westwood's) idea was to portray Washington on a coin 
   as a degenerate, effeminate Roman emperor.  Hancock's 
   satirical masterpieces, the "Roman Head" cents, manage 
   to convey this impression - with a subtle resemblance. 
   ... The dozen or so survivors were privately distributed 
   among Hancock's and Westwood's friends in Birmingham; 
   their existence was kept secret for over 40 years lest it 
   become an "international incident!"  Beginning as tokens 
   of incredible spite, these cents have become among the 
   most highly coveted of Washington items." (Breen, p140) 


   Time for an E-Sylum Quiz:  While employed as Secretary of 
   the United States Mint at San Francisco, this nineteenth century 
   author carried on his literary work outside mint hours, and 
   became a celebrated American literary figure who was popular 
   as a writer of fiction and humorous verse about the American 
   West, and was close with the likes of Mark Twain and Henry 

   In his own words he describes his first encounter with Twain: 
   "His eyebrows were very thick and bushy. His dress was 
   careless, and his general manner one of supreme indifference 
   to surroundings and circumstances.  Barnes introduced him as 
   Mr. Sam Clemens, and remarked that he had shown a very 
   unusual talent in a number of newspaper articles contributed 
   over the signature of  'Mark Twain.'  We talked on different 
   topics, and about a month afterwards Clemens dropped in 
   upon me again.  He had been away in the mining districts on 
   some newspaper assignment in the meantime.  In the course 
   of conversation he remarked that the unearthly laziness that 
   prevailed in the town he had been visiting was beyond 
   anything in his previous experience. He said the men did 
   nothing all day long but sit around the bar-room stove, spit, 
   and "swop lies."   He spoke in a slow, rather satirical drawl, 
   which was in itself irresistible.  He went on to tell one of those 
   extravagant stories, and half unconsciously dropped into the 
   lazy tone and manner of the original narrator. It was as graphic 
   as it was delicious.  I asked him to tell it again to a friend who 
   came in, and then asked him to write it out for "The Californian." 
   He did so, and when published it was an emphatic success. It 
   was the first work of his that attracted general attention, and it 
   crossed the Sierras for an Eastern reading.   The story was 
   "The Jumping Frog of Calaveras."   It is known and laughed 
   over,  I suppose, wherever the English language is spoken; 
   but it will never be as funny to anyone in print as it was to me, 
   told for the first time by the unknown Twain himself on that 
   morning in San Francisco Mint." 


   This week's featured web page contains the full text of the 
   Mark Twain yarn described above.  You can't help but 
   hear Twain's voice in the piece.  It can only approximate 
   the firsthand telling of the story that day in the San Francisco 
   Mint, but the humor is just as fresh over a century later. 

  Wayne Homren 
  Numismatic Bibliomania Society 

Content presented in The E-Sylum is not necessarily researched or independently fact-checked, and views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the 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.  Visit the Membership page. Those wishing to become new E-Sylum subscribers (or wishing to Unsubscribe) can go to the following web page link.

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