The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 5, Number 22, May 27, 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 468.    This newsletter was sent a day late,
  partly due to the Memorial Day holiday.  "Sorry, I have
  to work on my newsletter" isn't the correct response to
  the question "Do you want to play baseball with me,


  Dick Johnson writes: "On May 22nd I spent a day
  researching at the American Numismatic Society and
  must compliment Librarian Francis Campbell.  He
  couldn't do enough for me.  I called ahead, then emailed
  what I wanted to look at.  Tough Assignment:   all
  F.I.D.E.M. exhibition catalogs back to 1949, everything
  on A.M.S.A., a couple articles on diesinkers and some
  Franklin Mint catalogs to start with.  I was tying down a
  lot of loose ends for my directory on American Artists of
  Coins and Medals.

  When I arrived the books were on a work table waiting for
  us  (I had brought along my wife to operate the photocopy
  machine). I also had a handful of printouts on individual
  references from the library's on-line catalog to search if we
  had time.  So while Frank pulled books off the shelves, I
  searched the content of each and stuck in bookmarks --
  start here, stop here -- my wife did the photocopying. The
  early F.I.D.E.M. exhibition data proved a problem, it was
  buried in other works.  Frank found them!

  At the end of the day there was a five-foot stack of books,
  catalogs, periodicals, and Shirley had 800 pages of
  photocopies! If you do any research in numismatics -- or
  you want to read any subject within the broadest connection
  of our field -- you have got to get on a first name basis with
  Frank Campbell and visit the ANS library. Frank has an
  encyclopedic mind, knows his domain intimately, and can
  pull out of his computer (miraculously at times, it seems!),
  any numismatic reference whatsoever.  Thanks Frank!"


  For the past two weeks I've had the pleasure of reviewing
  a copy of Q. David Bowers' new book, "A California Gold
  Rush History."  The subtitle is quite appropriate: "featuring
  the Treasure from the S.S. Central America -- A source
  book for the Gold Rush historian and numismatist."

  From a physical standpoint alone, the book is stunning.
  Weighing in at eleven pounds, the full-color 1,051 page
  book is not to be taken lightly - literally or figuratively.  In
  heft it is comparable to Jacques Loubat's 1878 classic,
  "The Medallic History of the United States 1776-1876."
  One can only hope that the spine of Bowers' massive book
  will stand up over the years better than Loubat's.  Loubat's
  publication was bound in two volumes, and a multivolume
  treatment may have been a better choice here.

  The color illustrations are impressive.   Today we are
  blessed with technologies that allow such illustrations to be
  printed cheaply.   How different classic American numismatic
  literature would look had color printing been half as advanced
  a hundred years ago.

  If you'd ever wondered what an already prolific scholar like
  Q. David Bowers could produce given a healthy budget of
  time and money, this is the answer.  Dwight Manley and the
  California Gold Marketing Group are to be commended for
  funding the effort to the tune of $500,000.  Only someone
  who hadn't seen the book could dismiss it as a simple
  marketing tool.  With the first printing under 5,000 copies,
  the subsidy works out to over $100 a copy.   Given the harsh
  realities of numismatic publishing today, it is obvious that such
  a feat could never have been accomplished without deep
  pockets.  Numismatists, historians and scholars everywhere
  owe the project's backers a hearty thank-you.

  As discussed earlier in The E-Sylum, mainstream historians,
  for numerous reasons, tend to give numismatics short shrift.
  Likewise, many American numismatic authors tend to give
  primary historical sources short shrift.   Bowers' next book
  is an example of authorship which sacrifices neither.   Perhaps
  mainstream historians will now take note of the rich vein of
  material to be found in numismatic sources.  If that occurs,
  Bowers' book could have a legacy far beyond the study of
  the Gold Rush.

  As a bibliophile, my secret vice is reading books topsy-turvy.
  First, I look to the back of the book hoping to find a
  comprehensive index.  Next, I search for a bibliography, and
  then, for detailed footnotes.   With those chores behind me,
  I'll review the table of contents and begin reading the chapters
  of interest.

  The index was a disappointment.  At just five pages, it doesn't
  seem to do the book justice -- it has the feel of a computer-
  generated index rather than one compiled by human editors.
  A thousand-page book deserves a more comprehensive index.
  How could a reader ever locate a topic if it doesn't appear in
  the index?   The index listings appear heavily weighted toward
  person and place names, although to be fair many other topics
  are found - the infamous Committee of Vigilance, for example.

  The seventeen-page bibliography was much more satisfying.
  But the real treasure of the book is its footnotes.  Virtually
  every page carries a section of notes highlighted in red ink.
  This is where many real gems may be found.  One such set
  of notes are found on p664, describing improprieties of Mint
  Superintendent L.A. Birdsall.

  Numismatically, the most obvious contribution of the book is
  the cataloging and illustration of hundreds of gold assay ingots,
  organized by maker and mold.   Never before has such a
  quantity of ingots been illustrated in one place.   Other details
  of numismatic history are found throughout the book -- while
  a number are gleaned from previously published sources, many
  others are the result of original research.

  Any review of Bowers' book could go on and on with
  information about its contents, but I'll stop here.  Suffice it to
  say that my recommendation is to Buy This Book, although
  I recognize that by preference or necessity, many may
  prefer to borrow it from a library instead.

  Yes, it's expensive, but like any good book its purchase price
  is the merest fraction of the value of the research that went
  into making its publication a reality.  If you have any interest
  whatsoever in California gold coinage, Gold Rush history, or
  American history in general, make room for this book on
  your shelf.


  Gene Hessler sends this note about a new special edition
  of his book, The Engraver's Line:

  "One hundred numbered copies of The Engraver's Line have
  been prepared by the author. This original version of the
  NLG award-winning book, and a supplement, includes five
  insertions, four signed by the engravers. The engravers
  represented differ from those who signed their work in the
  sold-out special edition when this book was first published.

  In addition, and while supply lasts, those who purchase any
  edition, regular or special, will receive an additional sheet of
  engravings created at American Bank Note Company. These
  will be mailed separately  and can be sent only to an address
  in the U.S.

  The author will be at the BNR Press table at the Memphis
  International Paper Money Show to sign books.

  As line engraving is being replaced by mechanical and
  computer-imaging methods, The Engraver's Line pays homage
  to artists from an era that has all but disappeared.  This
  encyclopedia of paper money and postage stamp art and
  biographies was first released in 1993, including a special
  edition with signed engravings.  Recently, different engravers
  suggested that the author prepare a second special edition.
  The result, 100 copies of the original edition with signed
  engravings for those who appreciate the art of security

  Special edition with engravings $145; regular edition $85.
  For each book, add $5 for postage and insurance.  Send
  check or money order to: Gene Hessler, PO Box 31144,
  Cincinnati, OH 45231.  For a copy of the supplement only,
  send $5.  Outside the U.S. add $15 (check on a U.S. bank
  or instrument payable in U.S. funds) for postage and

  Requests for a specific numbered copy will be honored,
  if possible, but cannot be guaranteed.  Specify if you wish
  the book to be signed by the author and to whom."


  George Fuld writes:  "For those interested, there are
  currently two copies of Medina's "European Medals
  Relating to America" available for sale, both in Buenos
  Aires -- one at $200 (a bargain) and one at $320.  No
  telling what one finds  when looking for "old" books."

  [NOTE:  Although we don't typically publish individual
  items for sale in The E-Sylum, as a public service we'll
  occasionally pass on notices of important literature that
  comes on the market.  -Editor]


  Ron Haller-Williams writes: "A friend has a book which
  Clain-Stefanelli does not appear to list.  The author is
  Anonymous, but it has a pencil note which reads "by
  William Fleetwood   /   1st ed.   /   (1707)"  and an
  ex-libris plate of somebody named  F. B. Brook

  Preface + some 180 pages + index.     Title page reads:
  Chronicon Preciosum:  or, an Account of English Money,
  the price of Corn, and Other Commodities,  For the last
  600 Years.  In a Letter to a Student in the University of
  Oxford. LONDON, Printed for Charles Harper, at the
  Flower-de-luce, over-against St. Dunstan's Church, in
  Fleetstreet.   M DCC VII.  Any info on this would be
  greatly appreciated.

  If anybody is interested, the rather lengthy "letter" is a
  discourse on the validity of claiming to comply with a
  College statute established centuries earlier, when
  possessing an inheritance worth £6 per year, and
  wanting to be admitted as a Fellow of the College,
  even though the statute specified an upper limit of £5
  per year."


  Bob Schreiner writes: "I am the new librarian for the
  Society of Paper Money Collectors (SPMC).  Fred
  Reed  suggested your readers might be a resource for
  a question I have.

  I will be housing the library in my house, and I want
  to insure it for theft and fire -- usual household goods
  risks.  My homeowners company won't cover it.  Does
  anyone have any specific suggestions for companies
  that might insure a small library?"


  As a follow-on to last week's item about an article in the
  recent issue of SPMC's journal Paper Money, Editor
  Fred Reed writes: "If you and your readers enjoyed the
  Brent Hughes article on the Thian album in the May/June
  issue of Paper Money, you will be delighted by George
  Tremmel's fine article on Thian albums to be published
  in the upcoming Nov/Dec issue.

  George, as you may know, has a book on Confederate
  Currency coming out soon (to be published by McFarland)
  and has done extensive research on this series.  George's
  article on the Thian albums was originally scheduled to
  appear in the special Confederate issue, but was one that
  had to be held when the issue over-filled with excellent,
  original material."

  [Your Editor was unfamiliar with Tremmel's forthcoming
   book.   We'll be looking forward to the book as well
   as the Thian article.]


  P. Scott Rubin writes: "Could you let me know who had a
  single catalogue for the King of Siam Set?"
  [Your Editor was thinking of the October 1987 Bowers
  King of Siam sale, but having only now checked the
  catalog, I see that item was NOT the only lot in the sale.]

  Stephen Searle writes: "What about the Bowers and Merena
  catalog of Hawaiian Commemorative Half Dollars.
  One coin --but several hundred lots of it.  :)"
  [Great choice - I hadn't thought of that one!]

  P. Scott Rubin provided a another example that hadn't been
  mentioned before: "Sheridan Downey had a single lot auction
  of the Alfred E. Burke 1817/4 Half Dollar on April 1, 1997
  (and I do not think this was an April Fools joke)."

  Scott Seamens writes: "I don't have the details - it was perhaps
  ten years ago, and it was a Swiss auction firm.  The coin was
  India, Mughal Empire, Emp. Shah Jahan gold 200 Rupees.
  An illustration of a cast of this coin, said to be the largest gold
  coin ever minted, was carried in the Friedberg GOLD COINS
  OF THE WORLD book for many years.  Reportedly, the coin
  did not sell in this auction."

  Andy Lustig provided the details, noting that it was actually a
  two-coin auction.  "I found the following description of the
  catalog at:

  I remember the sale as being reasonably well promoted in the
  numismatic press. Unfortunately, the coins had big reserves
 and neither lot sold. I always wondered what happened to the
 coins. Can any E-Sylum reader tell us if the coins ever found
  a home, or if they were offered elsewhere at a later date?"

  208. (HABSBURG, FELDMAN S.A.): Sale of two Giant
  Gold Mohur Coins, the largest Gold Coins in the World.
  Auction at the Hotel Noga Hilton, Monday, November 9,
  1987 (rescheduled from Nov 8th). Remarkable catalog of
  a sale with only two lots: a 1000 mohur of Shah Jahangir,
  minted in Agra in 1613 (210 mm, 11,935.8 grams) and a
  100 mohur of Shah Jahan, minted in Lahore in 1639
  (95-97mm, 1094.5 grams). Each coin is illustrated actual-size
  and in spectacular full-color, with the legends of each
  painstakingly drawn and translated on facing pages. Each
  coin is painstakingly researched and described in 16 pages,
  including a two-page introduction by ANS curator Michael
  Bates. Card-covers, a most unusual catalog with separate


  Terry Trantow writes: "While there may not be a lot of token
  collectors who are bibliophiles as Duane Feisel and I, your
  mention of an E-Sylum page is something I would like to
  display at my table for the Northwest Token & Medal
  Society (NWTAMS) annual show to be held in Vancouver,
  Washington on July 13-14th of this year.   I can print out a
  copy of the latest newsletter before the show.  One of our
  past members (who created NWTAMS) whom would
  certainly have enjoyed NBS was the late Byron Johnson,
  a TAMS past president, a U.S. Assay Commission Member
  and a tireless promoter of education within the ANA.  I
  would like to think a few of our current members or visitors
  would be interested."

  [Many thanks to Terry for offering to promote The E-Sylum
  and NBS.  Can anyone share memories of Byron Johnson
  with us?  -Editor]


  Ron Haller-Williams writes: "In E-Sylum v5n19, Bob Knepper
  is quoted:  "A recent E-Sylum mentioned a 1969 Leipzig
  reprint of van Loon's "Histoire metallique des XVII
  provinces des Pays-Bas".  Has anyone ever seen this reprint
  for sale?   I have not.  A nice original of Van Loon is about
  $1000.  Although I'm an NBS member, I'm interested in
  information, not rare books for themselves.  I would buy the
  reprint if available at some "reasonable" price and if the
  quality is OK."

  Since I'm the one who mentioned it, in the previous issue
 (v5#18), quoting from Clain-Stefanelli, I should point out that
  it's not clear to me whether this reprint is of the French or
  Dutch version."


  Steve Pellegrini writes:  "On the question of estimates, opening
  bids, reserves, etc., I have always thought Paul Bosco's
  'advice' in the Terms of Sale section of his catalogue of the
  Kallir Sale of  German Airship Medals was instructive.  Bosco
  used a high - low estimate system.  His admonition..... "Lot
  estimates tend to show a possible wholesale price as the low
  estimate and the TOP retail as the high. If you bid over the high
  estimate, either you should know something or you should be
  rich ... If you are consistently using the Minimum Bids as a
  bidding guide, you are either ignorant, which is curable, or a
  horrible customer, which usually is not..."


  In response to Harold Welch's inquiry, Gar Travis writes:
  "according to the book "The Young Collector  ENGLISH
  COINS AND TOKENS" by L.L. Jewitt, F.S.A. and
  Barclay V. Head, M.R.A.S.; Fourth Edition 1892, in a
  section referring to tokens (pages 64-93 on page 73 -
  quoted below- )...they are called: "Traders' Tokens"....

  So, perhaps we can assume that the term Conder was
  not in use in 1892, though the section primarily covers
  17th century tokens, later issues are mentioned and are
  likewise designated "Traders' Tokens."

  "In that year the Copper Companies and others again
  resorted to the issue of batches of tokens, and these
  continued to increase and to be issued in large numbers
  until 1817, when, by Act of Parliament passed on the
  27th of July, their manufacture was prohibited, and their
  issuers ordered, under penalties for disobedience, to take
  up all they had issued before 1st of January, 1818.  This
  came entirely to an end the issue of Traders' Tokens in
  this country."


  Bruno Colin writes: "Our new edition (the 3rd) of "LA COTE
  DES MONNAIES ET MEDAILLES" is now available in 2
  volumes : 1st : The Antique worlds (400 pages) and 2nd From
  middle ages to today (450 pages).  You will find in the auction
  prices realized by coins, medals, tokens and numismatic books
  in french auctions during 2 years. Available at 45 Euro each
  (port free). Order to B.COLLIN 1 rue d'Alençon 75015
  PARIS - FRANCE (E.mail :

  Some samples of my thesis "L'atelier monétaire royal de
  Montpellier et la circulation monétaire en Languedoc de Louis
  XIII à la Révolution" Editions de balancier, 1986 are yet
  available. Price is 50 Euro (port free)."


  Mike Billings writes: "I found the estimate of the number of
  serious coin collectors in America to be a bit conservative
  to say the least.   One only has to visit the Heritage website
  to see that they have over 50,000 registered bidders.

  I feel that using circulation numbers for numismatic periodicals
  to be akin to using general newspaper circulations to
  determine how many people pay attention to or know about
  current events in the news. My thinking is that the circulation
  numbers of numismatic periodicals should be a starting place
  to project up from not down."


  Eric Newman writes: "You asked in your May 19, 2002
  E-Sylum for major mistakes in publications and my favorite
  HISTORY AND VALUE (New York 1976). Errors on
  a cover as in this case are rare but this "itsy bitsy" insertion
  of an apostrophe is a gem."

  John Kraljevich writes: "I'm sure others will submit the rare
  edition of Penny Whimsy which the noted mathematician
  Blaise _Pascal_ worked on.  Dorothy _Paschal_ apparently
  did not assist with the Durst reprint.

  Another favorite [also noted by Mark Borchardt -Editor]:
  The 2002 Early American Coppers sale, where principal
  Chris  McCawley's name was spelled incorrectly on the
  front cover.  And Chris doesn't even have a silent J in his
  last name!   (Chris -- if you read this, remind me to buy
  you a beer for the embarrassment)"

  Christopher Eimer writes: "Your request for typos, in the
  19 May issue of the Asylum, reminds me of one such error
  at a particularly crucial place. The excellent 1984 reprint
  by the Italian publishers S.P.E.S.of G.F. Hill's Italian Medals
  of the Renaissance, which was first published in 1930, invites
  readers, in the penultimate paragraph of the Foreword, 'to
  reflect on what a remarkable achievement of scholaspih' Hill's
  work represents.

  If there is one word above all else that one would not wish to
  see with a typo, it must surely be 'scholarship', particularly in
  the context in which it here finds itself being used.

  But as an author myself, I am the first to confess the
  shortcomings of my own work, and the various errors that
  can slip into published work."


  This week's featured web site is Mike Grogan's Early
  British tokens web site. "Early British tokens are a fascinating
  corner of  numismatics.  Issued at four distinct times over three
  centuries, they answered a desperate need for small change
  among the working classes and rural population as the
  Industrial Revolution developed.   The tokens illustrate life in
  these times, as lived by the vast majority of people in Great

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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