The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 5, Number 25, June 16, 2002:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2002, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


  We have one new subscriber this week:  Joe Saldivar of
  Havelock, North Carolina, courtesy of Gar Travis. Welcome
  aboard!   Our subscriber count is now 470.


  Tom Fort, Editor of our print journal, The Asylum, notes
  that the Spring 2002 issue is at the printer's and should be
  published shortly.   The journal is sent to all members of
  NBS.  Contents of the issue include:

  "President's Message," by Pete Smith
  "Secretary/Treasurer's Message," by David Sklow
  "Plagiarism or Cooperation?: Two Identical Premium-Paid
      Lists of the Late Nineteenth Century," by David F. Fanning
  "Some Notes on Archives," by Q. David Bowers
  "A Misnomer Mystery Finally Solved," by David Cassel
  "Bibliomania through the Ages: Four Mini-Reviews,"
        by William Malkmus

  One of our readers asked, "Why is it called The Asylum?"
  Well, that's where you'll find all the committed maniacs, of
  course...  "Journal of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society"
  would use up too much ink, anyway...


  An article in the Friday, June 14, 2002 issue of The
  Philadelphia Inquirer describes the latest events in the
  saga of error coin shenanigans at the Philadelphia Mint:

  "It is one of the most sought-after mistakes in mint history:
  a golden "Sacagawea" dollar coin with the soaring eagle
  on one side and the head of George Washington from the
  quarter on the other.

  Ten of these coins, all made in 2000 at the U.S. Mint in
  Philadelphia, are known to exist, and one sold last month
  for $75,000.

  Yesterday, federal prosecutors said they knew how five
  of those coins got past mint inspectors and into circulation -
  they were smuggled out and resold by two mint machine

  The two - James Watkins, 41, of the 5400 block of North
  Fifth Street in Olney, and Raymond Jackson, 54, of the 1700
  block of North Stillman Street in North Philadelphia - were
  indicted individually on charges of conversion of government
  property and witness tampering.

  Watkins, the indictment alleges, took four of the defective
  coins - called "mules" by collectors because they combine
  the sides of two different coins on one planchet, or blank -
  between February and June 2000.  He then allegedly sold
  the coins to dealers and a "novice coin collector" for a total
  of $9,200, and the coins were subsequently resold for a
  total of $96,000.

  Jackson allegedly took one defective Sacagawea mule in
  June 2000 and sold it to a dealer-collector for $5,000. That
  dealer sold it on eBay for $41,395.

  The witness-tampering charges allege attempts made in
  early 2001 to persuade unnamed persons not to talk to
  federal agents investigating the coins.

  Neither man could be reached for comment."

  For the full text of the story, see


  Regarding the inquiry about Walter's Breen's biography,
  Andrew Pollock writes: "I was told years ago by Jack Collins
  that Walter Breen wrote an autobiography titled "A Minority of
  One."  My guess is that if this still exists, it might be in the
  possession of a parole or probation officer, for whom I believe
  it had been written."

  David Gladfelter adds: "Breen published a brief
  autobiographical sketch in Penny Wise, vol. 12, pp 23-27
  (1978).  He was a frequent contributor to that publication
  which he called a "fanzine".
  [Penny Wise is the official publication of Early American
  Coppers, Inc.  -Editor]


  David Fanning writes: "While Wayne was good enough to
  recommend Pete Smith's handy collection of biographies
  (which is available for loan from the ANA, incidentally),
  if Sr. González Salinas is looking for information on any
  specific aspect of Breen's life, he is welcome to contact me

  One of my pet projects has been the compilation of a
  bibliography of the numismatic works of Breen as well as
  a bio. As some readers no doubt are aware, the bio of
  Breen is at times quite confusing, and even the year of his
  birth is not known with certainty, with some sources giving
  1930 and some 1928. I hope to have a version of the
  bibliography online within the year for the suggestions of
  NBS members and other interested parties."


  Carl Honore writes: "I'll bet you didn't know that Walter
  Breen wrote an article entitled "Sherlock Holmes's Horoscope"

  In Sybil Leek's Astrology Journal of January 1971 there
  appeared an interesting astrological chart for Sherlock Holmes
  written by Walter Breen.  This item was subsequently reprinted
  in  "A Sherlock Holmes Compendium"  edited by Peter Haining.

  Astrology was one of Walter's many varied hobbies and it was
  only natural to try to do a chart for one who was as mentally
  astute as Walter was.   It's both interesting and fun to read"

  Carl adds: "While we're on the subject, one peculiar Numismatic
  reference is to be found in "The Adventure of the Musgrave
  Ritual", wherein the story is told in the past tense by Holmes
  sitting in 221B Baker Street... "...some old rusty discs" which
  later turn out to be coins found in a box at the Musgrave estate
  in an underground vault next to Brunton the butler who had

  Other references to Numismatics include "the Red Headed
  League in which Jabez Wilson is paid in gold sovereigns. I
  just thought this was fun --  can any of you find others?"

  [Well, it turns out someone has already gone to the effort of
  compiling numismatic references in Shakespeare.  See
  "Coins in Shakespeare.  A Numismatic Guide."  67pp, illus.
  by Engstrom, J.E., Dartmouth College Museum Publications,
  New Hampshire,1964.   -Editor]


  John Adams' request for a translation of the Latin phrase
  AMAT AUREA CONDERE SAECLA brought several replies:

  Ken Berger writes: "My Latin is very rusty but I was a Latin
  scholar in high school many years ago.  I would say it means
  something like "He who loves gold, builds a generation".

  Gar Travis attached a picture of a Jeton bearing the
  Latin phrase in question, which he found on a web site listed
  as a "Royal token".

  Allan Davisson writes: "I think "He loves gold more than God"
  probably comes close to the meaning of the phrase. (My
  Latin goes back more years than I care to remember.)

  Ferdinando Bassoli writes: "The expression can be found
  in Lucretius, the great Latin poet of the first century B.C..
  (De rerum natura , III, 1088), and means: (he) who loves to
  live long golden centuries, i.e. a long time and well.   I would
  like to know whether this is the inscription of a medal and to
  what or whom is referred."

  Ron Haller-Williams writes:  "Here's my offering:

  AMAT     [he/she/it] likes/loves
  AUREA    (feminine singular or neuter plural form of AUREUS)
  AUREUS   gold/golden/gilded; *figuratively*: beautiful/splendid
  SAECULA  (plural form of SAECULUM)
  SAECULUM generation/lifetime/century/the_age/the_times
  CONDERE  [to] found/establish/build/make/pass/bring_to_a_close
  N.B. There is no need in Latin for an adjective to be adjacent
  to the noun which it describes.

  I think that, unfortunately, this is one of these cases where we
  need  to convey an idea, rather than simply trying to "translate"
  as such!

  So, for example, AUREA CONDET SAECULA, as on a
  Dutch medal of 1631 commemorating four important victories,
  including the conquest of Pernambuco (1630) and Piet Hein's
  capture of Spain's silver fleet (1627),  could translate roughly

  [Van Loon wrongly dates this medal to 1630, and the
  engraving used by him wrongly reverses the "2" in the date
  of the Hertogenbosch victory (1629).]

  He translates it into Dutch as HY ZAL DE GOUDE EEUW
  OPRECHTEN,  which may confuse people familiar with the
  more modern form OPRICHTEN.  Anybody know what the
  French edition gives?   (It would be in volume 2.)

  One could also offer an alternative of GOLD/EN [things]
  ESTABLISH THE ERA,  or the more modern-sounding
  "gold things are the keynote of the epoch".

  Brits with long memories might like to compare with Harold
  Macmillan's  alleged quote (while Prime Minister, 1957) of
  "You've never had it so good!".  Actually "Most of our
  people have never had it so good", whereas the headline
  version seems to have been lifted from The U.S. Democratic
  party slogan  during the 1952 election campaign.  These
  convey a similar idea.

  It seems this three-word version originates in Virgil's Aeneid,
  Book VI, lines 792-793:
  ... Augustus Caesar, divi genus, aurea condet
      saecula qui rursus Latio regnata per arua ...

  I would try this, but I don't guarantee it!:
  "Exalted Caesar, of divine descent/birth, creates the golden
   age/s which again have prevailed through the plains in Latium"

  John - might I suggest that you double-check whether AMAT
  is actually part of the same motto/legend as the other three
  words, and also that it indeed reads CONDERE not CONDET ?
  If it is exactly as you stated, then I am not happy with "S/HE
  or even the idea of some royal love-match towards such an
  end, because I reckon the Latin for this would read somewhat


  Denis Loring writes: "Does anyone have a named copy of the
  1954 King Farouk sale by Sotheby's?  In particular, I'd like to
  know the buyer of lot 355.  Thanks.


  Andrew Pollock writes:  "I stumbled across this today while
  updating my Numismalink website:

  [This nice site has been mentioned a few times before in The
  E-Sylum (June 11, 2000, May 6 2001 and  September 9,
  2001.   But it's always worth another look - there is a lot
  of great information here.  -Editor]


  David Perkins writes: "I corresponded with Jack Collins (both
  in writing, and in person) and forwarded information on certain
  1794 dollars prior to his passing away.  The manuscript exists,
  probably in different stages depending  upon whose copy  is
  being viewed.   I saw the original manuscript once, at the
  Anaheim ANA convention, and as I recall the photo quality
  was uneven.   My understanding was some were good (taken
  by Jack or negatives secured), some were shot from old
  catalogs, some  photocopied,  etc.  This may have been one
  reason Jack did not publish the book.

  I pushed getting the 1794 Dollar book published a few years
  ago at the New York City ANA Convention.  I had a number
  of people, myself included, willing to fund bringing the research
  up to date and publishing the book.  If I recall correctly, the
  conversation was with Hodder, Martin, myself and maybe
  one other party.

  The research was most likely current up to when Jack passed
  away, thus someone would have to bring the book up to date.
  The copy I have is titled something like "The History and
  Genealogy of the 1794 Dollar."


  Joel Orosz sends us this item from the New York Times
  (June 10, 2002).  He notes:  "This guy sounds like the
  Dan Hamelberg of bible collecting!"

  PRINCETON, N.J. - In a bibliographic convergence that
  has not occurred in more than 150 years, copies of the first
  four printed editions of the Bible have come under the
  ownership of a single person - a little-known, cantankerous
  and very wealthy 88-year-old collector named William Hurd
  Scheide, who keeps them in his private jewel-box of a
  library at Princeton University.

  Mr. Scheide completed the rare-book grand slam late last
  year with his quiet, seven-figure purchase of a Mentelin
  Bible, printed by Johann Mentelin in 1460 in Strasbourg.
  While word of the acquisition has been coursing through the
  antiquarian book world ever since, a public presentation of
  the Bibles at the library May 31 during Princeton's Reunion
  Weekend has spread the news to a larger audience.

  "It's phenomenal," said Peter E. Hanff, deputy director of
  the Bancroft Library at the University of California at
  Berkeley. "To bring together those four monumental records
  of Western culture in a single place, and in the New World,
  is of international significance."

  Indeed, the sight of all four books, some of their pages
  illuminated with burnished gold and delicate illustrations
  of animals and flowers, is for some a transcendent

  Only two other individuals, King George III of England and
  the second Earl Spencer, great-great-great-grandfather of
  Diana, Princess of Wales, have ever owned copies of all
  four of the Bibles, which, because they were printed in
  roughly the same period in Germany, constitute a distinct
  group for scholars. All the books in the Scheide Library
  are available for study by scholars."


  Regarding the IBNS Library, ANA Librarian Nancy Green
  writes: "The ANA received the IBNS library several years
  ago on the condition it be maintained for members of both
  organizations and that the ANA library be available to IBNS
  members. The arrangement works very well.

  IBNS members do not make heavy demands on the ANA
  staff and often a photocopy from a named source answers
  any questions.  The obvious advantages are that the materials
  are preserved and maintained with a professional staff able
  to provide research help as needed.  As time goes by and
  other individual organization libraries expand beyond the
  resources of that organization, this may be a solution for
  other numismatic groups to make their collections available
  to everyone.


  In response to Paul Withers' note about periodical numbering
  scheme, David Gladfelter writes:  "Volume/Number should
  not be a problem if the periodical uses consecutive pagination
  within each volume.  Citations can then be simplified to volume,
  title, page and year, thus for the following: 12 Penny Wise
  23-27 (1978)."

  Stuart Segan writes: "Each time the discussion over numbering
  systems arises I am always motivated to respond.  However,
  after a few minutes of writing, the topic takes on more and
  more issues until a concise response about numbering systems
  becomes impossible.

  Rather than justify my statements I will simply assert some of
  the issues that make the "solution" to numbering systems a

  First and foremost, the driving motivation behind numbering
  schemes in numismatics of late, whether pertaining to coins,
  literature, die varieties or whatever, is driven by the ease
  with which non-experts are able to create a relational database.
  For the average enthusiast the database is usually Microsoft
  Access or variations thereof.

  Not meaning to take Mr. Wither's to task , let me respond
  to his cry "Why, oh why, volume 1, Number 1?" that frankly
  Volume 1, Number 1 is much more intuitively approachable
  for non-linear, non-binary thinking human beings.

  Sure, Volume 1, Number 1 takes up two fields at a minimum
  in a database but so what?  Of what utility is it that the
  hardcopy of the American Numismatic Society Magazine says
  39, or issue 39, or whatever without anything further.  As a
  mathematician type if I encountered 39 my "hunch" would be
  March of the third year of the periodicals run, however, if
  there were omissions this is a problem. Volume III, Number 3
  therefore is much more structured an approach.  The
  conversion to the so called unique identifiers necessary in
  the world of relational databases is easily accomplished.

  Taken to the extreme, presenting a numbering system in
  "straight through" fashion, numbering all the objects under
  consideration by 1,2,3, etc....presents severe limitations to
  the ordinary user of the numbering scheme.

  Interestingly, Breen numbered all entries in his encyclopedia
  straight through from Breen 1 to Breen 8035.  Care to guess
  what say Breen 4017 might be?   It's an 1858-S Large S
  quarter. Breen 8035 by the way is the 1883 Hawaiian half
  dollar and Breen 1 is an undated Sommer Islands piece.
  Though everything is given a unique ordinal number - precisely
  what is prescribed by a relational database - building queries
  and a user friendly electronic version of Breen's encyclopedia
  would necessitate some serious organization OTHER than by
  Breen numbers alone. Otherwise a programmer (or God forbid,
  the user) would have to memorize lovely tidbits like "Buffalo
  nickels are covered by Breen 2584 to 2656 with the caveat
  that Proofs are not separated from business strikes" and so on.

  What it comes down to for me is pretty simple. the interest in
  numbering systems today is motivated by different dynamics
  than were present 10 years ago, let alone 25, 50 and 100
  years ago.

  While I can appreciate Mr. Withers frustration with respect
  to the numbering of the American Numismatic Society
  Magazine, his desire for convenience actually forfeits much
  of the true strength of the essence of a unique identifier and
  the role that a unique identifier plays within a relational
  database. The statement "that numbers are (a) sequential
  and (b) unique, so only ONE number is necessary for
  identification" is based upon the very narrow reading that
  it makes life easier for the cataloger.  It does not make life
  easier for the researcher, the programmer, or the user of an
  application that queries a database in the hopes of finding
  out, for example, in what year issue 39 was produced and
  so forth."


  This week's featured web page is an interesting compilation
  of the origins of various money-related terms and phrases,
  such as  "pin money", "to shell out" and "to ring true":

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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