The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 5, Number 15, April 7, 2002:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2002, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


  We have six new subscribers this week: John Cadorini,
  Miles Simon, Chris Duffy, and, courtesy of Nick Graver,
  Scott Fybush, David Gottfried, and David Phillips.
  Welcome aboard!

  Rejoining us after an email address snafu is Neil Rothschild.
  Accounting for the loss of Russ Logan, our subscriber count
  is now 461.


  Fred Lake writes: "This is a reminder that our mail-bid sale
  of numismatic literature closes on Tuesday, April 9, 2002
  at 5:00 PM (EDT).  You may view the sale by going to our
  web site at:

  Email and telephone bids are acceptable methods of bidding
  in addition to regular US Mail.  If you have any questions
  regarding any of the lots, please email me at"

  Inspired by the question about composer Franz Joseph
  Haydn, Bob Johnson notes that the composer died on his
  77th birthday: March 31, 1809.

  Karl Moulton writes: "I recently finished a very comprehensive
  article about the 1827/3/2 Capped Bust Quarters for Bowers
  and Merena Galleries, Rare Coin Review, which should appear
  this month.  There's a great deal of original research which has
  never been seen or heard of before.  Their story is fascinating!"


  On Tuesday, April 2, Paul Podolsky reviewed a new book
  of numismatic interest in the Wall Street Journal.  The review
  is not available on their public web site, but I'll provide some
  excerpts here:

  "It may be a surprise to discover that fiat money is not a
  modern concept;  it goes back many centuries.  The idea
  resulted from a battle with a now forgotten foe -- the once
  chronic instability of small change.

  Before the 19th century, the relationship between, say, five
  pennies and a nickel (to speak in modern American terms),
  was anything but predictable.  Often the penny would lose
  value while the nickel gained. In "The Big Problem of Small
  Change"  (Princeton, 405 pages, $39.50), Thomas J. Sargent
  and Francois R. Velde reveal how disruptive such instability
  could be to economic activity and recount the often clumsy
  efforts of politicians and bankers to solve the problem.

  We have some difficulty, in our "fiat money" world, imagining
  why this problem arose in the first place, but it was real enough
  and truly vexing. Coins were once worth something in
  themselves, apart from their relation to other money: In particular,
  they were made from precious metals. Thus it happened that
  coins were clipped or shaved for the commodity value they
  would yield.

  Unfortunately, they would lose value whenever this happened.
  Thus it took more of such coins to come up to the value of the
  next coin in sequence -- more pennies to equal a nickel. Such
  "devaluing" decreased the penny coin supply, especially when
  its commodity value rose above its liquidity value (its exchange
  rate). As the metal was worth more, the coin was worth less.
  Forgery, a common problem for centuries, only added to the
  problem by insinuating worthless coins into an already
  compromised supply.

  The solution to this monetary conundrum is known as the
  "standard formula," mixing fiat rules and free markets. The
  government promises to exchange denominations indefinitely
  (five pennies for a nickel), to monopolize supply (no private
  mints) and to outlaw the physical manipulation of coin. The
  public's role is simply to act on its needs and impulses,
  determining for itself the quantity of pennies, nickels and
  quarters it chooses to hold.   All these elements must be
  present for the value of small change to be fixed -- though
  this took centuries to recognize.

  It can take a long time before a good idea is accepted.  The
  authors credit Sir Henry Slingsby -- master of the London
  Mint -- with arriving at the solution in 1661, but it wasn't
  put in place until 1816 in Britain and 1853 in the U.S"

  [Written by an economics professor and an officer with the
  Chicago Federal Reserve, it is primarily an economic book
  (as evidenced by the jarring use of the word "penny" in
  reference to the U.S. cent).   But it may offer some interesting
  insights on the evolution of coinage.   If anyone has a chance
  to read it, please let us know what you think.  -Editor]


  The catalog for the April 20, 2002 EAC Convention sale
  is out, with 764 lots of early copper and colonials, quite
  a few of which are illustrated.  I haven't been paying close
  attention to their sales in recent years, but one traditional
  fixture of the sales used to be that the first few lots in the
  sale consisted of large cent literature - always a good way
  to introduce copper collectors to the joys of numismatic

  Perhaps some of our literature dealer members would
  object, but if every coin sale included a few lots of the
  corresponding literature, it would be a good way to
  expose some potential literature collectors to our hobby.
  Of course, as Morten Eske Mortenson's research showed,
  you can lead a horse to books but can't make him read,
  so that may be one reason why coin dealers rarely do this


  An article by Michael Grogan in the Spring 2002 issue of
  the Conder Token Collector's Journal begins: "Do you
  collect album weeds?  Do you own a copy of "A Journey
  Through the Monkalokian Rain Forests in Search of the
  Spiney Fubbaduck"?   If so, then you must be a collector
  of Evasion tokens, a fascinating but neglected series of 18th
  century coppers."

  "In 1987 the first edition of a new reference on this neglected
  series was published by Mulhulland Ignatious Cobwright.
  The second edition is still available under the title "A Journey
  Through the Monkalokian Rain Forests in Search of the
  Spiney Fubbaduck" by Malachy Greensword. Do not be
  deceived by the unlikely title, this is a serious scholarly
  catalog, generically known as "Evasions 1993."  Reference
  the CTCC Journal Volume 1 #4 for more about this reference."

  [Hmmm.  Another April Fools joke?  Or a real book with
  a really weird name?   If it exists, can anyone fill us in on
  what the title means?

  Meanwhile, how about a quiz question - we haven't done
  one of these in a while.  Who can tell us about a strange-
  sounding book on an American numismatic topic titled
  "One Fatt Calfe"?     I looked for a copy for years before
  purchasing one from George Kolbe on a visit to his home
  several years ago, and haven't seen another one since.
  Hint: It's listed in Davis' "American Numismatic Literature",
  and 200 copies were printed.  -Editor]


  This week's featured web site is about "Commemorative
  Medals related to Napoleon.  This site contains pictures
  and writings based on a collection of the literature about
  Napoleon and the commemorative medals related to him.
  It contains three divisions, with sometimes overlapping
  subject matter."

  The divisions are Books, Medals, and 'Odds and Ends.'
  One page pictures Pistrucci's Waterloo Medal, with text
  written by David Block:

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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