The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 5, Number 05, February 3, 2002:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2002, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


  We have one new subscriber this week: Don Bailey.
  Welcome aboard! Our subscriber count is now  428.


  More email problems cropped up with last week's issue.
  Over forty subscribers reported not receiving the issue.
  I'm working on the problem with my internet service
  provider, and we have a workaround we're trying in
  the interim.

  With luck. these problems will soon be behind us.
  It's nice to be missed, though - thanks for all your
  responses and kind words for The E-Sylum.  Many of
  this week's submissions came in only after the previous
  issue was sent to all subscribers.  -Editor]


  Charlie Davis writes: "The catalogue for my next auction is
  at the printers and should be in the mail in a week. With a
  closing date of March 9, it features the library of Arlie
  Slabaugh with highlights including his complete set of the
  American Journal of Numismatics (ex Charles Green and
  Lee Hewitt), a unique set of the First through the 29th
  editions of the Red Book inscribed by Yeoman to first
  edition contributor Malcolm Chell-Frost, periodicals
  including a complete set of Frossard's Numisma, Mason's
  Numismatic Visitor (first ever auction appearance), never
  before offered photographic plates of large cents from
  Thomas Elder catalogues, Graham Pollard's copy of Hill's
  Corpus of Italian Medals, a lovely set of the McLean
  Collection of Greek Coins, possibly unique Pembroke plates
  on large paper, and a complete Canadian Antiquarian Journal.

  Photos of some of the lots will be posted during the week at  As in the past we will post
  the catalogue on the Maine Antiques Journal web site. Those
  not on our mailing list may obtain a catalogue from us for

  [The web address is the same as the last sale:
   But if it doesn't work, try again later.  As Charlie said,
   the catalogue will be posted in the coming week.


  Dick Johnson writes: "An AP story by sports writer Eddie
  Pells stated:  NFL vice president of security Milt Ahlerich, and
  New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial were short on specifics,
  but full of reassurance.  Ahlerich said everyone would pass
  through MEDAL DETECTORS, [sic] but declined to divulge
  what the other inspections would involve."


  Steve Pellegrini writes: "Please, more 'Reports' from Brother
  Luedeking. His New York Trip Report in  v5#04 was three
  of the most refreshingly entertaining, and interesting  paragraphs
  I've read in quite a while. Are we finally (thank you, God)
  beginning to see the bottom of the pabulum bowl style of
  numismatic reporting?"


  Wendell Wolka writes: "A (very) belated report on a neat
  purchase in a recent auction.  One of the lots caught my eye
  because it contained "documents" from the American Bank
  Note Company.  Since I couldn't attend the auction in person,
  I had a friend bid for me with orders to "keep the paddle up
  until we were the only ones left standing."  For the documents
  were, in fact, the American Bank Note Company's original
  printing contracts with the State Bank of Ohio for 1851, 1856
  (Draper, Welsh & Co.) and 1861 (American Bank Note
  Company) along with the file envelope.  The only other copy
  known to me is the bank's copy of the 1861 document, safely
  stored in the state archives.  Before the appearance of this
  auction material, no surviving copy of either the 1851 or 1856
  contract was known to have survived.

  The details of the 1861 contract were researched with a
  resulting article written for Paper Money, the official Journal
  of the Society of Paper Money Collectors.  The 1851 and
  1856 contracts will be similarly researched and written up
  in future issues of the Journal."


  Bob Dunfield of Tradewind Numismatic Books writes: "I
  would like to request help from any of our members that
  may be able to provide any information on Howard D.
  Gibbs, and his books or other publications on the coins
  of Mexico and Latin America. Also, I am in need of
  catalogues published for Hans M. F. Schulman,
  specifically sale numbers 7,8,11,30,31,47 and most
  importantly, sale number 47a.:(May 20-21, 1966, 3001
  lots, Howard D. Gibbs joint sale with Kreisberg). These
  catalogs were published from 1951 through 1966. Any
  help will be most appreciated!

  If anyone should have books by Howard D. Gibbs on
  Mexican coins that they would offer to loan to me for a
  short study period, or perhaps for sale, I would be
  extremely grateful!

  Can anyone recommend any literature that has drawings
  or photos of Mexican republic mints, 1824 - 1905? I
  am also looking for publications by Dr. Duncan
  McConnell ,"TANS" and 'El Boletin'  publications for
  sale. Many thanks "


  Dan Freidus writes: "I know there was a 1969 Mexican
  reprint of J.L. Riddell's 1845 "Monograph of the Silver
  Dollar, Good and Bad"  I thought there was a more recent
  one, too.  Can anyone provide bibliographic info on the
  two reprints?  Thanks."


  Bill Murray writes "to call attention to the publication of
  COINage's annual Coin Collector's Yearbook, of interest to
  bibliophiles, perhaps, since it contains my article reviewing
  all (that I could find) books on United States numismatic
  books published during the year 2001.  It is available at
  Barnes and Noble and Border Books, and I have been
  told, some Safeway Stores."


  Our volunteer webmaster, Bruce Perdue, has continued
  making some fine improvements to the navigation of the
  E-Sylum archive on the Numismatic Bibliomania Society
  web site.  In addition, his latest achievement is restoring
  a search feature to the site.  Click on the "Search" or "E-
  Sylum Archive" links from the home page:   A mechanical word search
  is no substitute for a good human-compiled index, but it
  can be extremely useful.  Be sure to take advantage of
  the feature when attempting to find a topic in back issues
  of The E-Sylum.


  Bob Lyall writes: "I may be being presumptuous, and would
  quite understand if I am, but I have a request.  There is a
  19th-century Central American trade directory in the Library
  of Congress in Washington, DC.   I am trying to trace an
  American company that issued tokens to see if the tokens
  were for use in British Honduras or in Honduras.  I have
  managed to check quite a few directories in England and
  America but have failed to find another copy of the one in
  the Library of Congress.

  I wrote them three months ago quoting the full reference and
  asking if someone might be able to check specific data for me
  but have had no reply.   My cheeky question is, "is there any
  resident of Washington, DC who uses the Library of Congress
  who would check a specific question in a specific directory if
  I supply them with its reference, please?  As a UK resident,
  there are some problems with going personally but will cover
  reasonable expenses if advised beforehand."


  The R. M. Smythe company is one of the leading dealers in
  obsolete banknotes and stocks.  From the company's web
  site (

  "In 1880, Roland M. Smythe established a unique company for
  the purpose of providing the financial community, and private
  individuals, with accurate information concerning obsolete
  securities and banknotes. Over the years, R. M. Smythe and
  Company has developed into one of the world's premier
  auction houses, specializing in Antique Stocks and Bonds,
  Banknotes, Coins, Autographs and Photographs. We also
  continue to research securities."

  Smythe's portrait is contained in his landmark 1929 book,
  "Valuable Extinct Securities".   The book is still of use
  today to collectors of stock and bond certificates in
  determining if the items have any value as financial instruments.
  Smythe used his knowledge of corporate history and
  extensive record-keeping to build a lucrative business
  in old financial certificates, which sometimes proved to be
  extremely valuable due to changes in company name and
  ownership over the years.

  His portrait carries the enigmatic description "NO TELEPHONE"
  beneath his name.   Smythe's obituary holds the answer.  I
  found it quite by accident when walking through my firm's
  library the other day.  I happened to notice a beat-up copy of
  the "Extinct Securities" book on a shelf and took a look.
  Tipped in was a yellowed newspaper clipping headlined:
  "Firm Without Telephone Forty Years Goes Modern"
  The story was filed in New York on July 15th, but the year
  or name of the newspaper was not shown on the clipping.

  "For more than 40 years the important statistical firm of R.
  Smythe, Inc., with offices at No. 2 Broadway, just off Wall
  Street, held out against that "new-fangled contraption," the

  But there's an inexorable march of progress, they say, and
  today the Smythe offices were equipped with a nice, new,
  shiny telephone.

  R. Smythe, founder of the company, tried the invention when
  it first came out, back in the closing days of the nineteenth
  century.  As a matter of fact, Smythe was the second person
  in Manhattan to subscribe to the service.

  But within a few weeks he reached different conclusions.
  The thing was of no earthly good.  Moreover, it was an
  infernal nuisance.  His only comment, down through the
  years, was:  I won't have my studies interrupted by people
  who want to talk about shoe laces."  Nobody has ever
  figured out just what he meant."  [Perhaps the identify
  of the FIRST person to subscribe in Manhattan would
  offer a clue...  -Editor]

  "A few years ago R. Smythe asked the telephone
  company to put his name in the directory, with the notation
  "no telephone."  He offered to pay for this service.  But
  the telephone company turned him down.  He sued the
  company, but to no avail.

  He died April 22.  And now his heirs and associates, after
  reorganizing the firm, have installed a telephone."


  Saul Teichman writes: "Some of the E-sylum folks may
  find these Martha Washington pieces interesting, especially
  those researching current mint practices regarding dies and


  Steve Pellegrini writes: "Over the last dozen years I have
  managed to accumulate a few large silver coins struck in
  various denominations of ECU's. These are not the old silver
  'shield' crowns of the Bourbon Kings but are modern,
  privately minted essai coins -- design proposals for what
  would eventually turn out to be the EURO.

  I'm sure the rationale behind these often lovely coins (in
  addition to the minter's bottom line) was to give the public
  an opportunity to own an unofficial 'pattern-prototype' of
  the proposed pan European coinage. My interest in these
  'odds & ends' essai coins was rekindled with the release of
  the first official EUROs.  A couple of weeks ago I was
  thrilled to spot an ECU Catalogue/Priceguide on EBay.
  I won it and have just received it in the mail. Turns out the
  book, although thorough and professional, was printed
  back in 1992 and is wholly in German, two facts which the
  seller thought not worth mentioning.   I've been hoping that
  someone in our membership has seen or knows of a more
  recent work on the ECU series of the '80s and '90s?
  Preferably one in English?  Any help on this would be
  greatly appreciated."


  Regarding Ron Guth's item on the Milwaukee's Museum
  Cleaning & Lacquering, Dick Johnson writes: "While cleaning
  coins is another story, lacquering coins has gotten a bad rap
  in the numismatic press for years. It is a coating placed on a
  metal numismatic item that prevents toning, tarnish and some
  abuse. Literally, it can preserve the original condition of a
  metal surface if it is applied properly and shortly after the item
  is struck. This was widely done by some real old-time
  numismatists for preservation, but this was before slabbing
  and air-tight plastic containers. (Did they know something
  that has been forgotten by modern numismatists?)

  There are numerous kinds and colors of lacquers but is
  basically a clear shellac. Most trouble comes from
  inexperienced application.  It should be applied as lightly as
  possible but must cover the surface completely.  Since the
  ideal lacquer used for coins is clear, you cannot see it when
  you apply it. Lacquers are widely used in the manufacture
  of better medals. These are often tinted.

  It is best applied with a spray gun (the finer the nozzle
  apertures the better). Since the spray disperses into the
  air, a mask for the operator and a spray booth must be
  used (required by OSHA!). In medal manufacturing the
  medals are baked (to remove all moisture), laid out on
  a wire tray about 12 by 24 inches, and this placed on a
  turntable inside the booth.  One pass of the spray gun
  west to east and back. The tray is rotated 90 degrees.
  Another pass and back. It dries immediately. A tray
  is placed over the medals and the entire ensemble held
  tightly and flipped over. Then sprayed again like before
  (on the opposite sides).

  Inexperienced collectors are tempted to use lacquer
  from a spray can (or worse, brushed, or dipped!).
  Inevitably, they apply too much lacquer and it builds up
  in crevices and goops at the sides of letters and relief.
  Instead of a few microns of lacquer covering the surface
  it is far, far thicker.  This can be seen -- and it's unsightly!
  Thus the reason for the bad rap.

  Incidentally, two petroleum products should be on hand if
  you have a large medal collection: TOLUENE (to clean
  lacquered surfaces) and ACETONE (to remove the lacquer).
  Both are highly inflammable -- you must know what you are
  doing! Caution: after removing the lacquer the surface is super
  sensitive to toning (called ACTIVATED SURFACE) and will
  begin toning within two week's time."


  Ardent numismatic bibliophiles search far and wide for
  important tidbits of information, and the range of sources
  referenced in The E-Sylum is a good indication of that
  range.  This week we can add the Weekly World News
  to the list.  The supermarket tabloid weighed in with two
  groundbreaking stories in the February 5th, 2002 issue.
  (The same issue featuring such articles as "Taking Your
  Dog's Temperature Can Be Fun",  "Beat Baldness With
  Chia Seeds", and my favorite, "Stinky Demons Terrorize

  "Oprah To Replace Lincoln on $5 Bill:
  ... According to a well-placed insider, a congressional
  subcommittee is debating a secret initiative to replace
  all the United States Presidents featured on currency
  with modern celebrities."   [Actually, the committee
  is hung up on the "thin Oprah / portly Oprah issue...

 "This Cursed Nickel May Be In Your Pocket!"
  "Frantic Treasury Department Officials are reportedly
  trying to track down a 'cursed' nickel and take it out
  of circulation - before it kills again!

  Experts say that since the unlucky five-cent coin was
  minted in 1978, it has been linked to at least 395 deaths
  in car crashes, plane wrecks, electrocutions, and other

  An Illinois coroner 'borrowed' the nickel from a train-
  wreck victim - an died the next day when he fell off his
  riding lawn mower and it ran over him.

  A West Virginia turkey hunter was killed when his
  bullet ricocheted and hit him in the groin.

  The cursed nickel looks ordinary except that Thomas
  Jefferson wears a scowl.   Also, on the tails side, one
  of the windows of Monticello is closed."

  [So beware of the "Scowling Tom" variety and forget
  about Full Steps - keep your eye on the windows.
  Elvis may be looking back  -Editor]


  This week's featured web site is "Scales and Weights, a
  collection of historical Scales and Weights from different
  periods of the past 3000 years ."  The site is maintained
  by Matthias Hass of Germany, and illustrates hundreds
  of scales, including counterfeit-detecting coin scales.
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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