The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 5, Number 21, May 19, 2002:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2002, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


  We have three new subscribers this week: Trevor Munson,
  Eric Holcomb, courtesy of John & Nancy Wilson, and
  Thomas Kostek, courtesy of Brad Karoleff.  Welcome
  aboard!   Our subscriber count is now 468.


  Charlie Davis writes: "Neil Musante's "The Medallic Work
  of John Adams Bolen" is now in stock and copies ordered by
  E-Sylum readers will be in Monday's mail.   For those who
  have not yet ordered, the book is 326 pages, with hundreds
  of halftones of tokens and ephemera throughout the text, 8
  color plates,  hardbound in blue cloth with a dust jacket,
  available at $69 postpaid.  An edition of 25 is being bound
  by Alan Grace in half calf and is available at $205.00 postpaid.
  For more information, write to me at


  Dan Freidus writes: "I've been asked to write the
  bibliographical essay on the US and Canada for the next
  International Congress of Numismatics (Madrid, Spain, next
  summer).  It covers 1996-2001.  While I do read outside my
  own special interest areas, I know it's hard to cover it all.
  So I invite E-Sylum readers (or others) to email me with info
  about important books or periodical articles  (or new
  periodicals that have been started for that matter) published
  during this time period.  I'll also consider web sites, though I
  still haven't resolved how to deal with them even though I'll
  be finishing  up in about a month.   So please let me know
  about what's been published in your field of  North
  American numismatics.  Thank you.   My email address is


  Sebastian Heath of the American Numismatic Society
  announced:  "I have put together a page that lists the
  Society's current work on building a system for on-line
  publication of numismatic catalogs, exhibitions, articles,
  and other materials. You can access it at:

  It currently points to the on-line version of Numismatic
  Literature edited by Oliver Hoover, to a preliminary
  catalog of the Roman provincial coins for which there
  are digital photographs available, and to an on-line
  version of the pamphlet that was sent out with the Roman
  slide set. The last two are very much "under construction."

   I am also working on getting the Greek slide set pamphlet
  on-line as well as a document entitled "Introduction to
  Numismatic Terms and Methods" that has been given to
  students at the summer seminar. These should be available
  soon.  I hope these materials prove useful and welcome
  your comments."

  David F. Fanning, Editor-in-Chief of our print journal,
  The Asylum, adds  "I just wanted to let people know that
  I spoke to Sebastian Heath the other day--he runs the ANS
  Web site--and the ANS site now has a link to the NBS
  home page. It's under their "Numsimatic Web Sites" section
  and we're listed under "Numismatic Books."   We already
  link to the ANS."


  Howard A. Daniel III writes: "I am on a trip at this time to
  Singapore and Viet Nam, and am in Ho Chi Minh City
  now until May 22.  I am visiting friends and relatives over
  here but I am also doing some numismatic and philatelic
  research. In Singapore, I attended the Numismatic Society
  (Asia) monthly meeting.

  Of the about fifteen people there all but two collect
  Singapore and the issues of closely surrounding countries.
  The other two collect cash-style coins of East Asia, and
  one of them gave me a draft copy of his book describing
  and illustrating 100 coins of King Canh Hung of 1740-1787.

  He asked me to bring it to Viet Nam and work with a couple
  of collectors here to identify all of the Chinese-style
  Vietnamese characters in the current Vietnamese language.
  I just finished this work and I will mail it to him from the post
  office in the Changi International Airport in Singapore.
  King Canh Hung issued more different coins that any other
  ruler of Viet Nam.  This book shows only about half of them,
  but it is an excellent start and will definitely be a valuable
  addition to the library of a collector of Vietnamese and/or
  East Asian cash-style coins.  It should be published within the
  next six months and I will order many copies of them for myself
  and to donate to several numismatic libraries in the U.S.,
  France and Viet Nam.

  I can be reached here in Viet Nam at my regular email
  address of, if you want to
  contact me."


  Harold Welch, Editor of the Conder Token Collector's Club
  Journal  writes: "I am working on a biography of James Conder,
  the author of 'An Arrangement of Provincial Coins, Tokens,
  and Medalets, Issued in Great Britain, Ireland, and the Colonies,
  Within the Last Twenty Years: From the Farthing, to the Penny
  Size',  Ipswich, 1798.   In the field of British Tradesmen's Tokens,
  Conder was something of a triple threat.  He was an issuer of
  tokens and a collector who formed a very fine cabinet.  Most
  importantly, he was a contemporary author whose work was the
  standard reference for the series until superseded by James Atkins'
  work nearly 100 years later.

  It's not surprising that these tokens would be identified with this
  man and at some point along the way they came to be known
  as "Conder" tokens (especially in the USA).  But who hung this
  name on the series and when?  I see In the Numismatic Index of
  Periodicals that an article called Study of Conder Tokens by
  Chas. E. Fraser appeared in the Numismatist Vol. 9 \ 1896 \
  pg. 14 (although I haven't seen the actual article).   I suspect
  that that was far from the first use of the term.   Can anyone cite
  an earlier usage?  Also, is anyone aware of any portraits of
  Conder other than the pen and ink sketch from the Wm.
  Norman collection which has occasionally appeared?"


  Marc Melcher of  Houston, TX writes: "I'd like to know what
  software other readers use to catalogue their collections of
  books.  I have spoken with George Kolbe and several other
  collectors, and nobody seems to be able to recommend a
  good reference.  I'd love to find something that could pull info
  from the ANS database to fill in information, such as number
  of pages, plates, etc.

  Do any of the E-Sylum readers have a recommendation?"


  In response to the question about single-coin auction
  catalogs such as the upcoming 1933 Double Eagle sale,
  Marc Melcher adds: "I think there was a catalogue of a
  single Cimon Dekadrachm some time back."

  [There was a single catalog for one of the King of Siam
  set sales, but that's a set and not a single coin.  Can
  anyone come up with another single-coin auction?


  Dick Johnson writes: "What did early man use for money
  before coins were invented?  A new web site announced
  this week may reveal answers in the earliest written
  documents, cuneiform tablets. A California professor of
  Near Eastern languages and culture is building a library of
  cuneiform images and placing these on the internet for
  researchers to study.

  Cuneiform clay tablets were created by scribes in ancient
  Mesopotamia recorded in the first written language,
  Sumerian, four to five thousand years ago. While it was
  still moist they poked the clay to make wedge-shaped
  indentations, then baked it.

  Today it is estimated about 120,000 of these clay tablets
  have been preserved, housed in museums on three
  continents.  The clay can easily crumble, so handling must
  be a minimum.  Their scattered locations and fragile condition
  are why Robert Englund at the University of California,
   Angeles, created a file of their digital images, gathering
  these from seven museums around the world.

  "They are so incredibly dispersed," he said, announcing
  that he had recorded about half the total population,
  about 60,000 and placed their images on the internet.
  He established the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative
  and received one of the largest grants of the National
  Science Foundation, $650,000, for this purpose.

  Text of the cuneiform tablets record ledgers, deeds,
  recipes, inventories, much of the mundane life of the
  period. A web-based dictionary of Sumerian, complied
  by Steve Tinney of the University of Pennsylvania, aids
  the study.

  "Historians hope the library will prove a boon for
  economic historians," said Tinney. This may answer the
  first money question.

  Several science news services carried the announcement
  this week.  One of the best was by Associated Press
  science writer Andrew Bridges at
  with additional data from:


  In a press release Jean-Philippe Fontanille writes:
  "I am French citizen living in Canada.  I am a numismatist
  specialized on collecting and studying Pontius Pilate coins.
  Very recently, I published a book which is the first
  in-depth study ever published on this subject touching a
  very large potential audience  If you would like to have
  more information on this fascinating subject, please visit
  my website!  [ -Editor]

  Preface by David Hendin.
  Authors: Fontanille - Gosline
  Editor; Shangri-La Publications (Non profit association)
  Warren Center PA
  176 pages, 147 photographs including 4 color plates,
  paperback edition or cloth bound edition."


  At the suggestion of John Eshbach and Tom Fort,
  your Editor placed an exhibit highlighting The E-Sylum
  at the recent P.A.N. Show in Monroeville, PA.  The
  exhibit consisted of an introductory page describing
  the E-Sylum, followed by a nine-page printout of the
  April 28, 2002 issue.  As a result we signed up a
  couple of new subscribers.

  It's an easy task to set up such an exhibit, and if
  anyone is willing to set one up at another show, let
  me know and I'll send you a copy of the material.


  The May/June 2002 issue of Paper Money, The Official
  Journal of the Society of Paper Money Collectors
  features articles on Confederate currency.  An article by
  the late Brent Hughes, "The Night We Found Treasure"
  chronicles his discovery and purchase of a Thian
  Confederate note album containing a complete type set
  of Confederate currency.   The album belonged to the
  descendants of a man who had worked in the U.S. Treasury
  Department during and after the Civil War.  The family had
  once owned TWO such albums, but one had been stolen
  by a maid.  Hughes ultimately purchased the other album.

  "I opened the cover and read the first page: "Confederate
  Note Album for a Complete Collection of the Various
  Designs for Face and Back Selected by the Confederate
  Treasury Authorities for the Currency of the Confederate
  States of America, 1861-1865."

  I could hardly believe it.  Could this be a complete set of
  Confederate notes contained in this small book?  I turned
  the page and saw the copyright notice: "Entered, According
  to an Act of Congress, in the year 1876, by Raphael P. Thian,
  in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D.C."

  Then I flipped through pages 6 through 45 which had detailed
  descriptions of the design types.  Finally I came to the pages
  reserved for the notes, each of which held a note suspended by
  two vertical loops of sewing thread.  An ornate printed frame
  surrounded each note.

  The light in the attic was not bright, but it was good enough
  that note number one, the beautiful $1000 Montgomery
  Note fairly jumped off the page.  The green ink was vivid; the
  engraving exquisite.  It was the first Montgomery Note I had
  seen and I felt my stomach tighten.  The next page held a
  $500 Montgomery Note followed by a $500 "Stonewall
  Jackson" note of the February 17, 1864 issue.  Thian had
  chosen to arrange the notes by denomination rather than


  Duane H. Feisel writes: "I read with interest each issue of
  the E-Sylum, and really appreciate your efforts.  I commend
  you for your even-handed approach in dealing with matters
  that may have some controversy.

  The latest E-Sylum has a section concerned with bidding
  estimates.  You probably have not seen the catalogs for the
  auctions I manage -- one per year each for the National
  Token Collectors Association (NATCA) and for the
  Western States Token Society (WESTS).  These catalogs
  are published in "Talkin' Tokens," the official monthly
  publication of NATCA.

  For each lot there is an Estimated Value code or, less
  frequently, a Minimum Bid provided.  I require consignors
  to assign those EVs although on occasions I might make
  suggestions.  However, the final listed EV is that of the
  consignor.  In each auction there are surprises both on the
  high side and low of the Estimated Value.

  The Estimated Value uses a code that I developed.  This
  EV table is "official" for NATCA and is used by the

  The valuations were derived from "powers of 2" up to a
  certain point, but rounded off after that for simplicity.
  And the Estimated Value is a range as follows:

  EV1 = up to $2
  EV2 = $2 to $4
  EV3 = $4 to $8
  EV4 = $8 to $16
  EV5 = $16 to $32
  EV6 = $32 to $64
  EV7 = $64 to $125
  EV8 = $125 to $250
  EV9 = $250 to $500
  EV10 = $500 to $1000
  EV11 = $1000 to $2000
  EV12 = $2000 to $4000

  (As a reminder for anyone who has forgotten their high
  school math, 2 to the first power is 2, 2 to the second
  power is 4, 2 to the third power is 8, two to the fourth
  power is 16, two to the fifth power is 32, etc.) and so on.
  The concept for this Estimated Value Scale was derived
  from the idea behind the Universal Rarity Scale (URS)
  conceived by Q. David Bowers several years ago that is
  based on "powers of 2."  I think it is unfortunate that
  Bowers' URS is not used more widely or more universally.

  I believe the inclusion of EV in my token auctions helps
  the less knowledgeable collector develop a bidding


  Granvyl Hulse writes: "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."

   Just to help everyone: In Colebrook, New Hampshire,
  5 miles from the Canadian border, with a population of
  2,500 there are ten very serious collectors, so the rest
  of the United States only has 4,990."


  Last week I asked for stories about misplaced numismatic
  manuscripts. Here's a story from Fred Schwan of BNR
  Press, about the 1993 Fifth Edition of Grover Criswell's
  "Confederate and Southern States Currency", taken from
  the foreword of Criswell's "Comprehensive Catalog of
  Confederate Paper Money", 1996, describing their final
  push to complete the book in time for release at the 1992
  American Numismatic Association convention in Orlando,

  "As the final day approached the intensitry increased. We
  pulled out all of the stops.  I worked the last 36 hours
  straight, but we had the pages ready at precisely the time
  necessary to go to the manufacturer.  I assembled the
  pages and drove to the printing plant.

  It was the very last and simplest thing that I bungled.  In
  assembling the final copies I took the wrong copies of the

  There were two piles on my desk.  One pile was a clean
  copy of the pages that had been corrected.  The other pile
  was of bad pages from which the corrections had been
  posted.  In my desperation and fatigue, I simply picked up
  the bad pages and left the good ones on my desk!  To
  make it worse, when I got home of course I went to bed,
  then cleaned my office by throwing out the piles of
  accumulated paper including the correct copies of the

  The most tragic of the errors was the misspelling of
  Confederate on the spine of the book.   Ironically, this
  dreadful mistake was not noticed  by many readers who
  saw what they expected to find on the cover.

  The mistakes caused Grover and me substantial
  embarrassment, as certainly they should have.  However,
  I must say that Grover was quite the gentleman about the
  whole thing and so were most readers."

  [The spine read "Confererate".  Can anyone provide
  examples of other such typos on numismatic books?
  - Editor]


  Every now and then we run a feature some OTHER
  goofy collecting specialty so bibliophiles can tell their
  spouses to be thankful the house isn't filled with
  something worse...

  A May 15, 2002 obituary in The New York Times
  describes Baltimore resident "Dr. Hugh Francis Hicks,
  a dentist whose fascination with light bulbs led to his
  owning 60,000 bulbs.."

  "Dr. Hicks showed off his collection in a museum in
  the basement under his periodontics office. He named
  it the Mount Vernon Museum of Incandescent Lighting,
  charged no admission and gave visitors, about 6,000 a
  year, cookies.

  Not infrequently, patients had to wait as he welcomed
  people interested in seeing what he identified as the
  biggest and smallest light bulbs in the world ? to say
  nothing of the floodlights used in an Elvis Presley movie
  or the headlamps from Hitler's Mercedes-Benz.

  "Sometimes he left a patient sitting in the chair with the
  peroxide bubbling up in his mouth," his daughter said."


  This week's featured web site is Beyond Face Value, an
  online exhibit of depictions of slavery in Confederate
  Currency, produced by the United States Civil War Center
  at Louisiana State University.

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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