The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 5, Number 36, September 8, 2002:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2002, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


We have two new subscribers this week:  Emil Eusanio of the
San Fernando Book Co., and Rusty Goe of Southgate Coins,
Reno, NV.   Welcome aboard!   Our subscriber count is now


An article by Luigi Pedalino in the September 2002 issue
of The Numismatist describes how Peter Cooper's social
mission influenced the artistic quality of U.S. coinage.

A successful businessman in the early 1800's, Peter Cooper
founded New York's Cooper Union for the Advancement
of Science and Art in 1859. "The following famous designers
were students at the Cooper Institute (as it was known during
the 19th century): Augustus Saint-Gaudens, John Flanigan,
Adolph Weinman, Victor David Brenner, and Anthony De
Francisci.  Each of these artists produced beautiful and
enduring coin designs, and each owed his professional
career to the school and especially to its founder, a true
Horatio Alger hero -- Peter Cooper." (p1017)


A modern counterpart of Cooper's legacy is taking form
in Philadelphia.  A Numismatic News "Viewpoint" article
(August 27, 2002 issue) by Don Carlucci outlines efforts
establishing the Frank Gasparro Memorial Fellowship Fund
at The Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial, the nation's oldest
tuition-free art school.  Chief Engraver Gasparro "continued
to work, teach and sculpt at the Fleisher school long after he
had retired from his duties at the Mint."   The Pennsylvania
Association of Numismatists (PAN) donated $5,000 to
kick off the fund drive.   A fund raising banquet will be
held in Philadelphia November 1st, where many current
and former Mint engravers are expected to be in attendance.
A number of numismatic works by several Mint engravers
may be auctioned at the banquet.

Those wishing for more information on the fund or banquet
may contact me at , and I'll
put them in touch with the organizers.  To contribute to the
fund, checks may be sent to:

Frank Gasparro Memorial Fund (FGMF)
c/o The Madison Bank
8000 Veree Road
Philadelphia, PA 19111


Lot 1297 in the September 13-14, 2002 Smythe auction
caught your Editor's eye.   At first I thought there
was a glaring typo in the lot description, but that's
not the case.  The auction contains twelve lots from
the Smillie family archive - six members of the family
were involved in engraving and painting.  G.F.C. "Fred"
Smillie worked at both the American Bank Note Company
and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

The lot description begins "Large Albumen of James
Simillie and his wife..."  "Albumen" is not a misspelling
of "Album" - it is the name of a type of photographic
process invented in the 1840's.  For more information,
see this web page:

The sale includes some lots related to previous
E-Sylum discussions, including:

Lot 2121 - an 1879 fifty cent Emperor Norton I note
Lot 2744 - "1933 Executive Order to Turn In Gold Coins,
Gold Bullion, and Gold Certificates."

Lot 2746 - "List of Ransom Notes in a Kidnapping Case,
October 8, 1937."


In response to last week's query about the Castenholz U.S.
coins wall chart (advertised in their Numismatic Messenger
publication), Eric Newman writes: "Coin Wall Charts were
used for instruction in schools, particularly in rural schools
with only one teacher who let certain grades which were not
being instructed at that specific time read books or study
wall charts.

I do not have the specific wall chart being sought but I have
one which is about 30" wide and 40" long copyrighted in
1896 by F.M.Woods, entitled "Money and Fraction Drill."
It contains several examples of all current gold, silver, nickel
and copper coins of the US (Except 3 cent and 20 cent)
including a $50 slug and each denomination of paper money.
It shows what fraction each coin is of each larger coin.  It is
#23 of a group of charts on various subjects.  It is in full
color and has a few animals and objects scattered around."

Howard A. Daniel III writes that he was a subscriber to "The
Numismatic Messenger" and, many years ago, donated his
set to the ANA Library.  It has been a long time, but he thinks
he might have sent the chart with it and/or the library may have
a copy from another source.


Howard adds: "I am still in Ho Chi Minh City and looking in
many new and used bookstores for anything covering my areas,
but I have found only one book for myself and two for a friend.

Today, I ran into a high school history teacher from Seattle
who teaches Southeast Asia.  I think I have convinced him to
use some numismatic and exonumia material as part of his
teaching materials. We shall see.

I have had one response to my query about token-operated
telephones from a possible collector who knows something
about the telephones.  The E-Sylum comes through again!"


In response to Darryl Atchison's query about Canadian
material in two Bowers & Merena sale catalogs, Mark
Borckardt of Bowers & Merena Galleries writes:

"Actually, the 1989 ANA Sale did not have ANY Canadian
material that I can find.   The immediately following sale, the
Kissel & Victory sale, which was held in association with
Bank Leu, Ltd.,  September 11-13, 1989 in New York City,
had over 400 lots of Canadian material with considerable
significance.  This catalogue should be easier to locate.

All three parts of the LaRiviere sales are extremely
scarce due to the Betts Medal reference material as part
of these sales. I believe that we are completely out of
these catalogues."


In response to my query about the symbolism of the shield
in U.S. coinage,  Michael Schmidt writes: "The 13 vertical
stripes do represent the original thirteen colonies.  The
vertical lines in seven of the stripes are the heraldic way of
representing the color red (gules).  The "chief" at the top of
the shield is made up of horizontal lines which indicate the
color blue (azure).  The chief represents the Congress or the
federal government so the shield can be interpreted as
meaning  "The states support the Congress (or Federal
government) which in turn unites and holds the states

[Wow - E-Sylum readers sure are a knowledgeable bunch.
I've always felt that an E-Sylum subscription is not unlike
an advanced study course in numismatics.  I find myself
learning something new nearly every week.  -Editor]


Kavan Ratnatunga writes: "NCLT (Non Circulating Legal
Tender) is a well defined class of coins  which are made by
Mints to profit from sale to collectors.

Beyond NCLT,  there are some Lankan low denomination
coins minted in gold and silver with very very low mintage
not even publicly made available - some even way back to
Victoria although then anyone could order them.  See

Is there a standard name like NCLT for this class of coin?
They are not legal tender.  They may be off-metal strikes,
but that itself does not convey the full meaning.

Often I have seen these referred to as presentation pieces -
or pieces made for presentation purposes - quite a few
modern such pieces in the Oman section of 20th Century
Standard Catalog of World Coins.

"Presentation" seems to me the key appropriate term.
How about "Presentation Off Metal Strike"?   I would
like to know if other E-Sylum subscribers agree."


Dick Johnson writes: "Dave Bowers included a segment on
City Directories in his talk before the NBS annual meeting at
the ANA Convention in Atlanta last year.  When this was
reprinted in the latest issue of The Asylum, it occupied nearly
three columns.  He emphasizes the usefulness of city directory
research in American numismatics.

City directories can provide useful data, plus it is one of the
easiest to use for anyone even without extensive research or
library experience.  It is much like using a telephone book.
You CAN locate desired information in these reference works.
However, they are limited in what facts they can reveal.

For the most part, if you locate a listing by name, it gives
address, occupation, where employed, and sometimes
additional family information. I made an extensive search of
Waterbury city directories looking for engravers (occupation)
and learned they worked for Scovill and other metal
manufacturers in the area. From the first directory for this city,
1868, up to 1930 I found 70 names who could have been die 
engravers of numismatic items.

From this information I matched up tokens and medals made
by eight of these engravers. Obviously, I included these eight
in my upcoming directory of American Artists (and the others
I put in a suspense file; maybe someone in the future can match
one of these to some numismatic item).

I learned a tremendous amount of information from this effort:

* A pre Civil War era engraver, Darwin Ellis, got a job at
Scovill, ultimately got his son, Jarvis, employed at Scovill
as well.

* Jarvis Ellis was to work for Scovill for over 66 years! --
a company record.

* Hiram Washington Hayden was a teenage die chaser and
engraver for Scovill who went on to learn the metal
manufacturing business, joined with partners who built their
own metalworking plants,  and became 19th century

* Charles E. Pretat was born in France, came to America to
manage a New York jewelry store, worked for Tiffany &
Co, relocated to  Waterbury in 1874.

* Charles Reinsch bought out the engraving business of
Daniel Kiefer at age 26, but died two years later in 1894.

I dutifully record every factoid for all these engravers in every
city directory listing I find.  Much of it will not give any useful
numismatic intelligence alone but is useful when combined with
other sources -- home addresses for example.  In only one
instance in all my research did I find home addresses added
any numismatic knowledge.

In Philadelphia in the 1850s two mechanical engineers had a
firm that built coining presses for the Philadelphia Mint:
Morgan and Orr.  I found they lived next door to each other!
(Then I fantasized of their walks to and from work together,
talking shop all the way.)

But what of those other 62 engravers listed in Waterbury city
directories?   Some even advertised to engrave medal dies.
But most must have created dies for other coining in the city's
metalworking factories. Button dies, for example (required by
the thousands!).  Other small metal parts can be COINED in
presses with dies much like mints strike coins.  These can
include, gears, cog wheels, clock parts, lamp parts, washers,
small hardware items, the list might be lengthy.

The key to searching city directories is to form "strings" of
people or businesses. You must search every directory over
a period of years until you locate the first entry and the last
entry for this person or business.  This gives useful information,
which when applied with data from other sources can add
knowledge to the numismatic world.

If you wish to search city directories in your numismatic
research do some homework first.  Dozens of articles have
been written for those who wish to do city directory research.
Much of this is for genealogical searches, but it is on the
Internet and useful for any beginner.

The best list is at:

Next week I will write about where to find city directories
and how to use them. Email me your city directory research
experiences at .    I would delight in
learning of these (and maybe learn something new as well!)."


An article in the September 16, 2002 issue of Forbes
magazine looks at Visa's hopes to ultimately replace cash
and checks for everyday transactions.  Here are a few

"Swipe your Visa card at a store in Sydney, Australia,
and you trigger a pretty amazing sequence of events.
The 16-digit account number stored in your card's
magnetic stripe zooms across a leased phone line to the
merchant's bank, zips under the Pacific to Visa's data
center outside Tokyo and rides the Visa network to the
data center of your issuing bank in Delaware. It authorizes
the transaction and sends bits whizzing back, a 24,000-mile
roundtrip journey that involves five stops plus a calculation
of how much to charge the merchant in fees and how to
divvy up those fees among the banks. Elapsed time: two

Few systems on Earth can do this. Visa can do it 4,000
times a second and did it 35 billion times last year, riffling
through more transactions in an hour than all of the world's
stock exchanges do in an entire day.  Last year Visa
pumped $2.3 trillion through its 9-million-mile matrix of
fiber lines, and in five years it has suffered only eight minutes
of downtime, better than most any other system on the planet.
So why is Visa overhauling the whole shebang, at a cost of
more than $200 million? Because technology is everything
in the battle for control of consumers' wallets.  Technology
explains how Visa has gained so rapidly on printed paper
money as a medium of exchange, and it will determine whether
Visa can hold its own against newer forms."

"In ten years Visa's dollar volume and transaction volume
has grown fivefold. Pascarella aims to boost Visa's transaction
volume tenfold by 2007.

At that rate, the credit card giant would eclipse the U.S.
Federal Reserve as the world's premier toll-taker in the
currency business.  The Fed turns an annual profit of $28
billion by printing dollars--that sum representing the value
of the interest-free loan the government gets by dint of the
fact that the public keeps cash on hand. There was a time
when commercial banks competed in the business of issuing
paper dollars."

"Visa is hell-bent on rendering paper money a relic. In the
past decade the use of cash and checks has steadily
declined, to 61% of consumer spending from 81% in 1990.
Visa claims to handle 12% of all consumer spending in the
U.S., double the share of its nearest rival, MasterCard, and
aims to accelerate cash's demise. Cash is dead, long live

"The idea is to put Visa not just "everywhere you want to
be," but also in some places where you never dreamed of
paying with plastic. Taxicabs, fast-food drive-up windows,
soda-pop vending machines--Pascarella is putting credit
card readers in all of them. He is persuading phone companies,
utilities, even apartment rental companies to take recurring
payments with Visa. His techies are testing out ways to store
Visa account information on Palm handhelds and cell phones,
so you can use them and not carry a card at all. The goal, says
Pascarella: "total ubiquity, total freedom. Using any device,
anytime, anyplace."  The best growth potential is in the U.S.,
where 83% of remote payments are made with checks. The
corresponding figure in Europe is only 10%, says Celent
Communications, a market researcher.

"Americans have this love affair with cash and checks,"
Pascarella says.  "We're trying to end that."

For years people have been talking about the imminent
demise of paper money. Cybercash, Cybercoin, Flooz, Beenz:
Dozens of dot-coms attempted to reinvent money, and most
died trying. Last year consumer payments in the U.S. totaled
$5.5 trillion, and $3.4 trillion of that was done with cash and
checks, according to the Nilson Report.

Whoever digitizes that $3.4 trillion is going to make a fortune.
Displacing the $1.2 trillion of check transactions made last
year by U.S. consumers could produce $8 billion a year in
fees, according to Celent.

Pascarella figures Visa is in a better position than anyone
else to get at that payday."

"Credit is boring. It's yesterday's news,"  says Carl Pascarella,
chief executive of Visa USA. "Our goal now is to displace
cash and checks. We're not a credit card company, we're an
electronic-payment company."


Visa isn't the only contender to displace currency, as
a Sept. 5, 2002 article on CBS

"Imagine paying for your groceries with a wave of your
hand, then driving to the gas station and flashing your
wristwatch at the gas pump to "beep" your purchase
right out of your bank account.

And if you don't like wearing a watch, there's always the
key-chain transponder, which works at the pump, the
convenience store, and even some McDonald's. A
burger and fries at the wave of your keys.

Welcome to a wallet-less world -- almost. Fingerprint
scanners are still in test-phase at grocery stores in Seattle
and Texas, and Exxon Mobil Corp. is piloting the
transponder-embedded watch."

[So, readers - any thoughts on the long-predicted demise
of coins and currency?    While I agree that electronic forms
of payment are gaining by leaps and bounds, they will always
have limitations.  While diminishing in relative importance,
cash still has a role to play.  Just as television never eliminated
radio, both types of payment can find a way to coexist.
Or is the disappearance of coin and currency inevitable?


This week's featured web site is "Currency in New
Zealand", an online exhibit from the Reserve Bank of
New Zealand.

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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