The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 5, Number 11, March 10, 2002:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2002, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


  We have no new subscribers this week.  Our subscriber
  count holds at 442.


  The February 2002 price list of American Numismatic
  Literature is now available from Karl Moulton, P.O.
  Box 1073, Congress, AZ 85332.  His email address
  is  The 44-page list covers 20th
  century auction catalogs from 1960 to date, plus
  reference books & periodicals.


  Tony Tumonis reports: "I just returned from Europe on March
  5th, and would like to say that my  exchange of German Mark
  coins and currency to the new Euro went smoothly.  To cash
  in old currency, you need to go to the Central Bank, however,
  I was informed that on April 1st, 2002, the Central Bank will
  start charging a 10% fee to count coins being exchanged.
  Airport security seemed to be very effective as well."


  Bob Lyall writes: "Headlines in British "quality" newspapers
  suggested there were 1,000,000 coins on the wreck of HMS
  Sussex, wrecked off Gibraltar, and the value of  the find
  would be £2,900,000,000 (yes, £2.9 billion or $4 billion).
  Now it doesn't take a great brain to work out the average
  coin "value" is suggested at £2,900 ($4,000) which just goes
  to show how ridiculous the reporting of this wreck has been
  so far!"


  One interesting collectible item are tokens of leper
  colonies.  Tokens were used by the population instead of
  local currency because of the fear of spreading the disease.
  One of the most prominent of these colonies was the
  Culion Leper Colony in the Philippines.  A web search
  turned up the following account of a visit to the Culion
  colony from the autobiography of surveyor Captain
  Thomas J. Maher, entitled, "Around the World in Forty

  "Getting back to the Colony, our principal triangulation
  station was in the center of the town.  The lepers gathered
  around the instrument; they were curious but made no
  attempt to touch anything. We were instructed by the
  Medico-in-Charge not to touch them nor permit them to
  touch us. I understand that at this time there was an
  American, an excellent machinist and an inmate, and that
  some Americans had shaken hands with him.  I never
  inquired as to details.

  The Colony was most unusual, a credit to the officials
  who governed it and to those who provided the funds for
  its operation.  It was clean and sanitary. The patients did
  not have to work and if they did, they received payment.
  There was a special coinage which never left the Colony.
  However, an inmate could send funds to friends or relatives
  outside by depositing his earnings in the Colony bank
  where a draft would be drawn on the Bank of the Philippine
  Islands, Manila, for payment to the party designated.

  The lepers who were in bad shape were hospitalized. An
  invitation to visit the hospital was not accepted.  The
  appearance of such human misery would not be pleasant
  and I believe could only be considered by the patients as
  satisfying morbid curiosity.  If we were medical officers,
  such a visit would be professional.  The lepers had
  considerable freedom. They fished in adjacent waters from
  bamboo rafts. Attempts at escape were infrequent."


  David Gladfelter writes: "Found: 6th signature or gathering
  (pages 121-144) of Sumner's History of American Currency,
  1st ed. (1874). Came in a bulk lot. Useless by itself, but not
  something one would throw away. Owner may claim by

  The item came from R. M. Smythe's 187th sale, lot 5023,
  therein described as "[p]art of a book, 'History of American
  Currency.'"   This lot was part of a large collection of good
  literature from "numismatic libraries and related material of
  two well known numismatists."  I believe one of them was
  George W. Wait, who I am told had gone into a nursing
  home and had pretty well withdrawn from numismatic
  pursuits at the end of his life.  Most of the material was
  grouped into bulk lots of which I got a choice few. With
  hindsight, wish I had been a more aggressive bidder at this


  Dick Johnson writes: "A report from London warms the heart
  of every busy bookman.  The National Trust [of England] runs
  the estates of 156 homes throughout the British Isles. They are
  currently engaged in a test to determine the optimum length of
  time between dustings.

  The Associated Press quotes one of the home's managers,
  Graham Crane: "Dust can corrode the books, but cleaning
  can also damage them; their spines are particularly fragile."
  There are an estimated half million antiquarian books among
  the libraries in these homes.

  The test consists of inserting tiny sticky sheets (3M Post-Its?)
  between books randomly throughout the library. The sheets
  are removed every three months and examined for the amount
  of dust collected.

  "That way we hope to find out which parts need cleaning
  more regularly and which can be left for longer," Crane said.

  Instead of a three-week cleaning job of 2,000 books at
  Dunster Castle every year, they are hoping this can be done
  only once every three years.

  I can send them some book dust samples that are at least 20
  years old!  My custom is to pick up a dusty book, hold the
  spine close to my lips and blow the dust off the top edge."


  Carl Honore writes: "Of interest to Neil Shafer, Serge
  Koussevitsky conducted the premiere of George Gershwin's
  Second Rhapsody in Blue in Boston's Symphony Hall in

  Of interest to the numismatic community at large, George
  Gershwin and his brother Ira were honored with a gold
  medal a while back;  it was a congressional Gold Medal
  similar to that awarded to John Wayne."


  Tom Fort sent a link to an interesting article about a rare
  fifteenth-century book found recently in a Maine farmhouse.
  Printed in 1493, "The Nuremberg Chronicle" relates the
  history of the world starting with Genesis in Gothic text and
  a profusion of woodcut illustrations throughout nearly 600

  Compiled by physician Hartmann Schedel, it was produced
  by Anton Koberger, a Nuremberg publisher considered one
  of the era's most important in Europe.  The book features
  the woodcuts of Michael Wohlgemuth, his stepson Wilhelm
  Pleyenwurff and Albrecht Durer, a masterful artist who
  elevated the status of graphic arts.  The book contains more
  than 1,800 illustrations."


  So, readers - have you ever found an interesting or valuable
  item of numismatic literature in an unusual or out-of-the-way
  place?   If so, please share the story with us.

  One incident which comes to mind came after I contacted
  the bank handling the estate of local collector Emerson Smith.
  Smith worked at a Pittsburgh bank and often arranged
  appraisals of coin collections.  He also knew Howard Gibbs,
  the nationally prominent collector of world and odd & curious

  After Smith's death, I called to inquire about any
  numismatically-related items.  The banker handling the estate
  invited me to meet him at the house and look around.   When
  I arrived I learned that the family had already been through
  the house and removed or consigned for sale furniture and
  other items of interest.

  What remained was considered trash, and he invited me to
  take whatever I wanted.   As it happened, I ended up working
  one room ahead of two burly young men who were hauling
  the remaining contents of the house to a dumpster.

  Why I ever took a minute to look in the tool box under the
  workbench in the garage I'll never know, but it was there that
  I found a small stash of issues of Max Mehl's Numismatic
  Monthly, including several complete years.

  A search of a desk and filing cabinet yielded a number of
  papers relating to Howard Gibbs and his collection, letters
  and papers of dealer Hans Schulman, plus inventories and
  appraisals of the John Beck collection.  Beck was a
  Pittsburgh industrialist whose collection was auctioned by
  Abner Kreisberg in the mid-1970's.   His collection had
  been in bank vaults for fifty years after his death, until Smith
  arranged to sell it after the death of one of Beck's daughters.

  Beck was as much a hoarder and investor as he was a
  collector.  The inventory included several PAGES of listings
  of duplicate large-denomination pioneer gold coins, and
  another several PAGES listing 1856 Flying Eagle cents, the
  largest such hoard ever assembled.


  Hadrien Rambach of Paris sends this query about a book
  he is seeking: "Published in Geneva in 1865 by Anthony
  Durand, it is entitled  "Médailles et Jetons des Numismates".
  I would like to know whether it gives information on the
  French 17th century numismatist SAVOT ."  Can anyone
  answer his query?  His email address is


  Recent publications of the American Numismatic
  Association and American Numismatic Society include
  a number of items of interest to bibliophiles and researchers.

  The American Journal of Numismatics, Second Series,
  2000, from the ANS has twenty-two articles and book
  reviews.  Of interest to those who followed the discussions
  of "The Great Debate" over pioneer gold bars in The
  E-Sylum is John Kleeberg's "Three Notes on the Private
  Gold Coinage of the United States" (p215-237).  The
  notes discuss dies and hubs of US Private Gold Coinage
  in the collection of the ANS, the undervaluing of the
  gold price by minters Bechtler, Moffat, and Kohler, and
  the dies of Kellogg & Co.

  Appearing in the March 2002 issue of the ANA's
  Numismatist are pieces by Q. David Bowers on
  early U.S. numismatists John Allan and Phillip Hone of
  New York City, and Pete Smith's piece on Wells,
  Fargo & Co.   The ANA Library's "Bookmarks"
  column discusses recent donations to the library
  which will be added to the online library catalog
  on the ANA web site (

  Also, NBS Secretary-Treasurer (and ANA Historian)
  David Sklow pictures a rare 1915 ANA medal
  related to the Panama-Pacific Exposition and seeks
  its current whereabouts.  The medal "is not to be
  found in the collection of the ANA Money Museum.
  Its whereabouts were unknown from 1915 to 1991,
  when it surfaced as lot 297 in a June 29 sale conducted
  by Presidential Coin & Antique Company."  Anyone
  with knowledge about the medal is asked to contact
  Dave at


  Dick Johnson writes: "A Washington D.C. book author
  has perhaps overstepped his bounds in promoting a new
  book. He has purchased as many as 18,000 copies from then returning many of them under
  their policy of full refund within 30 days.

  In addition to appearing on as many talk shows as he
  could get on, David A. Vise, a reporter on the staff of
  Washington Post, has attempted to inflate the demand for
  his book, "The Bureau and the Mole: the Unmasking
  of Robert Philip Hanssen."  Was he attempting to push it
  into bestsellerdom?   He was selling these copies himself
  online -- both with and without his autograph -- taking a
  50-cent loss or a $5 profit.  The full story is at:


  Johnson continues: "This does bring up the issue between
  good taste and promoting your own book in the numismatic
  field.  I am facing this shortly with the publication of my new
  book, "American Artists, Diesinkers, Engravers, Medalists
  and Sculptors of Coins and Medals, 1652 to date."

  Aside from the obvious -- advertising in all numismatic
  publications and attending as many coin shows as possible --
  what can a numismatic author do?   My last conversation
  with my publisher included a long discourse on numismatic
  mailing lists and possible tie-ins with dealers.  He likes the
  idea of such with auction house mailings since this was most
  successful for his $299 threee-volume set on all American

  I would welcome suggestions from E-Sylum readers (both
  what, and what not to do).  Contact:


  This week's featured web site is a actually a collection of
  pages discussing the "Short Snorter".  Popular throughout
  World War II, these pieces of paper money (often U.S.
  one dollar bills) signed by a number of people as
  souvenirs.   Here is an excerpt from one of the pages -
  an interview with Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Edward

  "During World War II, a short snorter was a little less than a
  full drink at a bar. But an aircrew member's short snorter
  was a chain of paper currency, taped together, end-to-end,
  from various countries they had visited. The longer your short
  snorter, the more countries you had visited.  Long short-snorters
  also meant free drinks at the bar, since the person with the
  shortest one had to buy the round, says retired Lt. Col. Edward
  J. Komyati, an aviation historian and former WW II pilot.

  "You knew you always had your taxi fare home," Komyati
  explains. "You could also use the short snorter to collect
  phone numbers, keep track of crews, or get signatures of
  famous people."

  According to Komyati, he ran across former first lady Eleanor
  Roosevelt in the Pacific in early 1943. He happened to have
  his short snorter with him and got her to autograph it. Komyati's
  short snorter is also signed by "walk outs": men whose planes
  went down in the Himalayas, but who managed to walk out

  Today, Komyati's short snorter is more than 6 feet long and
  held together with yellowing, crumbling Scotch tape.  It begins
  with a dark green U.S. "Silver Certificate" dollar and moves
  on to blue Congo francs, deep red Chinese yuan, light green
  Ceylon rupees, and yellow, brown and purple currencies
  ranging from 500 Palestine mils to 10 Tripotania (modern day
  Libya) lire.

  Komyati's short snorter includes script issued to soldiers in
  Italy after World War II, and images of everything from a
  palm tree to the countenances of Chinese leaders and a
  pharoah. A few of the languages on his short snorter are
  Arabic, Portuguese, Burmese, French, Chinese and English.
  Though the autographs are now faded on the paper, the
  memories of the people Komyati knew and admired are
  still alive in his mind.

 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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