The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 5, Number 20, May 12, 2002:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2002, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


  We have two new anonymous subscribers this week
  Welcome aboard!   We'll also lost a few due to email
  address changes.  Our subscriber count is now 465.

  Can anyone help locate Benny Bolin, Rick Day, Mike
  Ellis, Chuck Hakes, or F.J. Wagner?


  Contestants are being sought for the World Series
  of  Numismatics to be held on  August 2nd, 2002
  in New York City at the American Numismatic
  Association convention.   These events have always
  been fun and a highlight of any convention.  For more
  information, contact Gail Baker, ANA Director of
  Education at this address:


  David Cassel writes: "Your teaser was quite fine with
  the exception of two glaring errors:

  In the title, "KOULTZ' ALLOY UNMASKED?", you
  misspelled  KOULZ'S ALLOY.  There is no "T" and
  an apostrophe S would be accurate.

  You also wrote: "A German chemist named Koulz was
  said to be the inspiration  for both the reverse design...
  pieces. "   This is only one of two designs.  You missed
  the most important design which included SIL(ver) NIC(kel)

  Here is the quote that you should have used:  'SIL.9' over
  'NIC.1' above a line which is over the date '1869' and
  second reverse design elements, 'SIL.' over 'NIC.' over
  'COP.' above a line which is over the slightly curved date
  '1869.' "

  [My apologies for the mistakes.   Some things are safe to
  do at midnight, but editing a newsletter isn't one of them.
  In my zeal to condense David's summary, I snipped a
  little too much.  -Editor]


  Regarding last week's mention of the U.S. Mint's timetable
  of events in the life of the soon-to-be-auctioned 1933
  Double Eagle (see, Tom DeLorey

  "I had already noted this interesting document, which seems
  to indicate that the 1933 Double Eagles did not leave the
  Mint until 1937. If this is so, it would tend to support the
  Mint's often stated (but never, ever explained) claim that
  these coins were in some way "stolen" from the U.S. Mint.

  The next logical question is, if these coins were indeed stolen
  from the Mint  in 1937, who dunnit?  Was it an inside job?
  Was the Mint's indefatigable 50+  year campaign to seek
  these coins out and destroy them, reminiscent of the mindless
  pursuit of "Les Miserable," an attempt to cover up a theft
  by a Mint employee? If so, why bother?

  I do not understand the Timeline's reference to the Assay
  Commission coins.  Were the stolen coins taken from the
  regular coins, or the Assay coins? How  do others interpret

  David Gladfelter adds: "I just received my copy of the
  "1933" catalogue.  What a change from Sotheby's (1954)
  to Sotheby's/Stack's (2002)!   In the former, the 1933
  double eagle appeared in a group lot of 17 pieces with no
  illustration; in the latter it is the sole piece in the entire
  auction and there are multiple full-color illustrations, with
  no "eclipses" (you know, where the obverse photo is
  tiddlywinked over the reverse photo).

  How many catalogued single-lot auction sales can you
  think of?  Only one comes immediately to my mind,
  Paul Cunningham's sale #56 (mail bid) of a previously
  unlisted Civil War merchant token.  Although I will
  definitely not be the new owner of "1933" it's nice to
  know that the piece will have a legal owner and not be
  forever lost, as are the 1964 silver dollars produced
  and then destroyed by our Mint.

  The tale of the "1933" is a very interesting one, not
  only to numismatic specialists. Wonder if the cataloguers
  could be persuaded to issue a hardcover edition?"

  [The photography isn't flattering to the coin.  It has
  apparently been knocked around a bit since it left the
  Mint.  Good thing for the owners that it's one of a kind.


  Allan Davisson writes: "Regarding the Astarte catalog
  estimates and estimating in general:

  I looked more carefully at the Astarte catalog after
  someone raised a question about the estimate being the
  opening bid.  It seemed to me that the opening bid prices,
  in general, were reasonable and conservative.  It is
  refreshing, in a sense, to know the exact reserve price.

  Estimates can be all over the place, a comment I frequently
  make in my own catalogs.  I try to estimate at what I
  believe to be the current market value.  Like anyone, I misfire.
  But I see catalogs that have very low estimates, typically
  European, and no one expects the coins to sell at that level.
  Other catalogs, particularly buy-or-bid sales use high
  estimates--they know that the maximum they will get for a
  coin is the estimate.

  U.S. catalogs provide no estimates (usually). My
  understanding is that this is because the market is in constant
  fluctuation. It seems to me somewhat unlikely that the
  changes are going to be that rapid that some estimate guides
  could not be provided.  I would be interested in the typical
  "scatter" of bids that a major U.S. sale gets. Estimates seem
  to me useful guides and I wonder if the explanation I
  suggested above is the whole story.  (Estimates are a
  substantial amount of work involving catalog and market
  research after the full effort at attribution.)

  One last note: my catalogs have a pretty good United
  Kingdom distribution (I estimate in both dollars and pounds.)
  I have noticed, and have confirmed it with others who serve
  both the US and British market, that Americans seem more
  dependent on estimates than British collectors.  This is most
  evident by the willingness of bidders to go well beyond the
  estimate when they particularly want a coin."


  In response to Dick Johnson's discussion of the market for
  new numismatic books, Denis Loring writes:

  "153,200 -- Unduplicated number of collectors who
         subscribe to the four largest numismatic publications.

    5,000 -- Estimated number of serious numismatists in
         America,  the core segment of numismatics.

  I find this disparity hard to believe.  I don't know the
  definition of  "serious" being used here, but I'll bet that
  with any reasonable definition of the word this number
  would be much higher."


  The April 1910 issue of Mehl's Numismatic Monthly
  provides some sales figures for B. Max Mehl's Star
  Coin Book.  These numbers should probably be
  taken with a grain of salt, but here goes:

  "When nearly 50,000 copies of a coin book issued
  by a coin dealer are sold within less than four years
  it is indeed evident that the book earned its success.

  The first issue of the Star Coin Book appeared in
  1906 and retailed at 10c a copy.  This issue of 10,000
  copies was sold out in less than a year; then followed
  the second edition, a larger and more elaborate book
  at 25c, which met with greater success than the first.
  This prompted the publisher to publish a trial issue of
  a 50c book, the success of which was even greater
  than the preceding issues.  A more elaborate and
  complete book was then prepared and issued in last
  December as the fourth edition.  And in less than
  four months, over eight thousand copies have been
  sold, both at wholesale and retail."


  The following is an excerpt from "Ephemera Collecting -
  A Growing Field, Hard to Define"  by John C. Dann.  The
  excerpt first appeared in AB Bookman's Weekly, Clifton,
  New Jersey, U.S.A., in the issue of March 16, 1998.

  "It was just 18 years ago, in 1980, that the Ephemera Society
  of America came into existence and the first Ephemera Show
  was held. The organization has prospered and the show has
  become a widely anticipated fixture of the collecting world.
  Even the phrase "ephemera," a somewhat equivocal term used
  to describe "a thing" essentially indescribable with a single
  word, has come to be widely understood and accepted by
  collectors, dealers, and librarians.

  The Ephemera Society of America borrowed the term from the
  British Ephemera Society, which was formed in 1975. As
  understood by enthusiasts, the essential elements of
  ephemera seem to be:

  1. "the stuff" of which the field is made was originally
     produced for some immediate, practical purpose, with
     no thought that it would be saved or preserved (having
     an ephemeral existence);

  2. it tends to fall between the cracks of traditional
      collecting fields and librarianship (not books, not "art"
      in the formal sense, not manuscripts, not antiques);

  3. in its vast and fascinating diversity, it documents
      everyday life, particularly that of average men and
      women in the past, perhaps more effectively than
      traditional collectibles."


  Dick Johnson writes: "As I look around my library shelves
  there are three kinds of books I see: those with dust jackets,
  those without, and those with lithograph book covers (those
  integral covers in color designs). I like the last category best.
  Notable: Bowers' recent "American Numismatics Before the
  Civil War" and Rulau's latest edition of "Medallic Portraits of
  Washington." The dust jacket is kinda built into the covers.

  The need for a dust jacket is to entice you into the book.
  Commercial book publishers go to a lot of expense in
  designing dust jackets to make their product more appealing,
  particularly in the book store.  Of all my reference books,
  however, only one or two have a dust jacket. So here's
  my last word on dust jackets:

  A book with a dust jacket is a book to read.  A book
  without a dust jacket is a book to buy."


  David Fanning writes: "I need to know who ANA member
  5011 was. I have a hand-written letter with an illegible
  signature which I wish to identify. Clearly written under the
  signature is "ANA 5011."   Looking at the relevant appendix
  to Dave Bowers's Centennial History of the ANA, it seems
  this very number was the first assigned in 1936, so all I
  probably need someone to do is check the membership info
  for the January 1936 issue of The Numismatist.  Mine only
  go back to '39. The name and any address info given would
  be appreciated. Thanks. I can be reached at
  this address:

  [From the January 1936 issue of The Numismatist:  Member
  #5011 is "Albert N. Hantem, White Lake, So. Dak"  (p35)


  Dick Johnson writes; "Robert Heath was quoted in last week's
  E-Sylum.  I am a great admirer of Bob Heath and his lifetime
  work on the commemorative medals of New England cities
  and towns.

  He has developed one of the best numbering systems in the
  field of numismatics, honed by many year's experience.  It is
  universal, uniform for all states, expandable to accommodate
  new issues as well as new-found discoveries from the past.
  Referencing is fast and easy by his number system.

  He uses the two-letter state designation (from the Post Office)
  and then assigns a serial number for every town and city in that
  state arranged alphabetically.  Then a chronological serial
  number for each medal issue, then a letter suffix for varieties
  of composition or content where necessary.  Not all cities and
  towns have issued medals, but the number is there when they

  He has issued separate catalogs for each New England state
  and gone through a number of editions:  Connecticut (5),
  Maine (3), Massachusetts (8), New Hampshire (5), Rhode
  Island (4), Vermont (4).  He devotes a page to each medal.

  The shortcoming, however, is that his catalogs are looseleaf.
  The pages are half lettersize (8 1/2 x 5 1/2) and he punches
  them for your 3-ring binders.  Unfortunately I had only two
  binders that size, so all the other state catalogs are in boxes.

  He retired last August, so now he tells me he has the time to
  devote to this project, adding new items he discovers on
  eBay and elsewhere.  But he still continues to issue his
  catalogs only in looseleaf format. He states this is a dynamic
  area where changes can only be made by revising a single
  page at a time. (And prints only on demand.)

  Bob, we would like to see your total work in a book.
  Between covers.  The information you have gathered is that
  valuable to numismatics.  You can still keep YOUR records
  on looseleaf format to revise future editions.

  Please, won't some numismatic book publisher come forward
  and offer to publish Bob's work?  It deserves it."


  Hopefully Robert Heath's work will find a publisher.
  In the meantime, here are a couple tips on what NOT
  to do with your manuscripts, taken from "Delete, Baby,
  Delete" by Cullen Murphy in The Atlantic Monthly,
  May 2002:

  "In 1862 the poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti lost
  his wife, Elizabeth, to an overdose of laudanum; stricken
  with grief, he gathered up his unpublished poems and
  placed them in her coffin.  Rossetti came to regret this act.
  Seven years later he had Elizabeth's body exhumed, and
  retrieved the poetry.

  Historically, the most reliable means of destruction has
  been fire.... One of the grimmest episodes in the annals
  of combustion took place in 1835, when Thomas Carlyle
  asked John Stuart Mill to read a just-completed draft of
  the first volume of his monumental study 'The French
  Revolution'.  Mill took the handwritten manuscript away.
  Some while later he stood before Carlyle, ashen, explaining
  that his maid had accidentally destroyed it while lighting a
  fire.  Carlyle received the news stoically."

  [So - does anyone have any anecdotes about wayard
  numismatic manuscripts?   Or "lost" works that reappeared
  years later?  -Editor]


  This week's featured web site is the Money Museum of
  the Richmond, VA branch of the U.S. Federal Reserve
  Bank.  "The Money Museum is located at the Bank's
  headquarters in downtown Richmond.  The museum is open
  to the public from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through
  Friday. Requires advanced scheduling.

  Museum exhibits tell the story of money in Colonial America
  and the United States. Also on display are money related
  artifacts and exhibits devoted to primitive monies, medieval
  and ancient coins, and other special-interest items."

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.

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