The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 5, Number 37, September 15, 2002:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2002, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


We have one new subscriber this week: Lisa Herrington of Littleton Coin Co. Welcome aboard! Our subscriber count is now 488. Announcement: Soon the E-Sylum will be switching to an automated email server, freeing your editor from a number of administrative tasks. The only noticeable change is that people will subscribe and unsubscribe to the mailing list automatically by sending an email request. Instructions will be published when the switchover is effective. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...


Dick Johnson writes: "For a research project on the patinas of art medals, the former foreman of the finishing department at Medallic Art Company for nearly two decades has agreed to be interviewed. He was the one who created the many patinas to be put on selected art medals, including The Society of Medalists issues, for art medals made by this firm in the 1950s thru 1970s. He is going to reveal how these patinas, and previous Society issues, were created. We have a complete set to show him to ascertain these patinas. In addition, he created all the patinas for the Presidential Art Medal series, The Great Religions of the World, issued 1971-1973 all by sculptor Ralph J. Menconi and struck by Medallic Art Company. Each of the 25 medals in the series had a different color patina. But it appears most people ordered only their own religion; we have been unable to locate a complete 25-medal set. We need to borrow (or purchase, if necessary) a complete set of these 25 medals. Or if the owner would like to bring these to the interview (in southern Connecticut) they would never be out of sight (and he or she could learn of this important information). The interview is scheduled to take place Friday afternoon, October 25, 2002. E-Sylum readers often perform miracles in locating unusual numismatic items. I hope someone can help in this very important research project. Please contact me at: or call (860) 567-0431 day or night."


Darryl Atchison writes: "Recently while reading Hoare Auction sale no. 72 (Jan. 2002), I noticed that they had a notation referring to nine auction appearances of this exceptionally rare token. I have accounted for six of these, as follows: 1) Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge - Murdoch collection - July 1903 2) Lyman Low - Frank Benson Sherman collection - July 1904 3) Wayte Raymond - W.W.C. Wilson collection - Nov. 1925 4) Max Mehl - William Forrester Dunham collection - June 1941 5) New Netherlands et al - A.N.A. sale -Aug. 1952 6) Jeffrey Hoare Auctions - sale no. 72 - Jan. 2002 The cataloguer of the Hoare sale states that other appearances in the Nov. 1926 and Nov. 1927 W.W.C. Wilson sales also by Wayte Raymond. Also they refer to a [P.M.] Wickham collection sold in 1947 but they do not mention the auction house which ran the sale. Could our readers please check their copies of the Raymond sales for Nov. 26, Nov. 27, and also May 1928 to verify if specimens of this token were indeed in those sales? It seems incredible that Wilson could have had as many as 50% of the suspected population of these tokens. Also, if anyone has information on the Wickham sale I would be pleased to hear from them. Just to be absolutely sure of ourselves, I am talking about Breton 956 which is the McAuslane token from Newfoundland and not the McAusland token which is from Prince Edward Island. Thank you, once again for your assistance."


I've spent some more time with Dave Bowers' new book, "More Adventures With Rare Coins". It is one of the few numismatic books that is much more than a reference - it is a book for reading from cover to cover. As a collection of chapters on disparate topics, it lends itself well to the furtive, piecemeal reading habits of many of us living in today's time-sliced, cellphone world. It's hard to pick just one favorite "Adventure", as the chapters are labeled. There are many reasons to like each. As a longtime collector of U.S. encased postage stamps, I enjoyed #41, "Drake's Plantation Bitters." As a collector of counterstamped U.S. coins I also greatly enjoyed #39, "Little Billboard of a Bygone Era" and #27, "The Numismatic Legacy of Yankee Robinson" Number 42, "The 'Too Classic' 1915-S Panama-Pacific $50" is another gem. I was delighted to see the photo of Farran Zerbe's "Money of the World" exhibit booth. Similarly, I was fascinated to see the photo of the Philadelphia Mint exhibit at the Columbian Exposition of 1893 in #28, 'The Story of the 1892 Columbian Half Dollar Dave's done it yet again - the book is a gem and a true service to numismatics. May he have the longevity of Florida numismatist Bob Hendershott (104 and going strong). I suspect that no matter how many years Dave continues to research and write about numismatics, he'll never run out of interesting topics. -Editor


Steve Pellegrini writes: "In Luigi Pedalino's 'Numismatist' article about philanthropist Peter Cooper, he includes a large group photo taken in front of the Cooper Union. The occasion is the 1907 dedication of Saint-Gaudens' memorial statue of Cooper. The author states in the photo's caption that sculptor Saint-Gaudens is present somewhere in that large crowd. Of course I was immediately curious to see if I could find the artist's exact location. Naked eye, magnifying glass and 17x loupe were all of little help although I did think the aspect and stance of a slight figure standing at the left of the monument's pediment seemed eerily familiar. The figure is attired in a European cut suit and hat far more stylish than his rather dowdy academic neighbors. Remembering the digital kiddy-cam microscope I'd recently bought on an E-Sylum tip, I decided to use it for a (much) closer look. Sure enough, there stood the dapper Saint-Gaudens standing directly at the west corner of the monument with his arm raised in a "here I am" wave -- at least it appears that way to me. Did anyone else with too much time on his or her hands bother to search for Saint-Gaudens in this photo?"


Andy Lustig writes: "I picked up a neat book this weekend, "Manuel Du Commerce" by Pierre Jeanrenaud, published in 1859. It's a bankers? guide to the coinage of the world, with illustrations, weights and fineness. I don't suppose it's much of a bibliomaniacal treasure, but it does have some pretty cool coin drawings, my favorite being an 1831 Capped Bust Dollar! It reminds me of another book I saw a while back that contained an illustration of a 1793 Flowing Hair Dollar. Naturally, this all leads me to wonder what other fictional coins are illustrated in similar works. Perhaps our gang would like to compile a list?" [Sounds like fun. The Evans' "History of the U.S. Mint" playfully included an illustration of an entire tray full of 1804 dollars. Although that many of them don't exist, it is a "real" coin. I also recall that some editions of the Heath Counterfeit Detectors illustrate specimen notes which never saw circulation. Other examples, anyone? -Editor]


In response to Kavan Ratnatunga's query, Howard A. Daniel III writes: "NCLT (Non Circulating Legal Tender) coins (and notes) are frequently produced in Southeast Asia in large to low numbers. For those NCLT made in very low numbers and often in other than "normal" metals or paper, the term "Presentation Pieces" is frequently used for them, and they were made going back a couple of hundred years in Southeast Asia. But then there are some very low numbers of pieces made by employees for their personal profit and they are called "Sports". I do not know when this name was developed, but they are often found in price lists and auction catalogs as "official" errors. But most of the modern Southeast Asian "errors" are really sports. I hope the above has not confused anyone." Steve Pellegrini adds: "on reading Kavan Ratnatunga's query about a more precise term for the Lankan restrikes he describes, the term 'Novodel' came immediately to mind. Novodels were special coins produced by the Russian Royal Mint in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. They were struck on demand for sale or presentation to favored collectors. These favored collectors were almost exclusively of the Russian aristocracy. As one would expect of a Russian Count or Duke with a hole in his Whitman Folder he would present the Mintmaster with an order for whatever date, denomination and composition of coin he desired. If the dies were extant, fine, if not, new ones were cut. If the coin in question were so rare that nobody remembered or ever knew how it looked, then an approximation was produced. Many Novodels were struck of rare dates in off metals, some were of dates which had never existed, but which the noble collector felt should have existed. The characteristic most Novodels shared (aside from rarity) is whimsy. It appears that in the area of manufactured rarities the Russian Mint put even the Philadelphia Mint in far the shade."


This week, Kavan Ratnatunga adds: "The non-english words "essais" and "provas" are used in Krause without definition. Do they have precise numismatic meaning, and are they the same or in some way different from these terms - ? Pattern - official design that did not go into production. Trial - coin with some Test mark identifying them as a Test piece. A uniface strike also indicates it obviously a Trial OMS - off-metal-strike of a regular coin in circulation with no other markings I could not figure why "essais" and "provas" are Trial or OMS, or different. Krause as usual does not seem to be consistent."


Dick Johnson writes: "Last week I wrote that the best way to glean numismatic information from city directory research is to create "strings" about a person or business -- to search a run of directories by year until you can identify when a listing starts and when it stops. This week let's talk about where to find city directories. If you live within commuting distance of seven American cities, you are, indeed, fortunate. For in each of these cities is a large collection of city directories. * In Washington DC are three such libraries: the Library of Congress, the DAR library, and the National Archives. * In Worcester Massachusetts, the American Antiquarian Society library has a collection that might even surpass all others. A bibliography was once compiled of all early American city directories, AAS had all those listed, save eight. Other cities with large collections: * Salt Lake City, the Family History Library. * Boston, the New England Historic & Genealogical Society library. * New York City, the New York Public Library. * Chicago, the Newberry Library. * Fort Wayne, Indiana, the Allen County Public Library. Almost every large city library has a run of their own city's directories, and perhaps a neighboring large city or two. State libraries usually have all for the cities in their state. Only rarely will you be able to use original bound volumes. Most all will furnish either microfiche or microfilm rolls. You will have to learn how to use the reader machines for each of these. Modern readers have a photocopy device attached. Find a page, center it on the screen, drop a coin in the device and seconds later you have a photocopy of the photographed image (other libraries have an honor system, they will accept your count and payment). Granted, you are two generations away from the original, and all the streaks from years of use of the film will be reproduced as well. But you do get an image, and that saves you from manual copying. I learned to carry a roll of quarters and a notebook to record exactly what I was looking for and note which entries I had checked (or photocopied). Learn to thread the microfilm into the machine yourself (generally the fiche and rolls are self-service). For rolls start the machine at slow speed even if you want something at the end of the roll. If you jam the film, ask for help from the attendant (don't try to fix it yourself). You never want to break the film (this requires a splice or to replace the roll). This is how a pair of researchers compiled the most useful book on early American Artists (up to the Civil War): George C. Groce and David H. Wallace. Their book, "The New-York Historical Society's Dictionary of Artists in America" published by Yale University Press, 1957. From learning the "strings" of artists in both city directories and business directories they next went to Census records, and then other sources. From all this they could glean dates of birth and death, then added as much biographical data they found or deemed useful for such an artist directory. What does that directory have to do with numismatics? Plenty. I have found 246 of the artists listed in G&W engraved coins or medals, or prepared their designs (and are included in my directory of American artists of coins and medals). All the early die engravers are included, all the mint engravers, all the engravers at private firms. It is very accurate information in G&W (I have found only one transposed date!). Here is what the authors say about city directories: "Probably no single source has provided more artists' names than the directories of towns, cities, counties, states, and regions, of which the first appeared in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia shortly before the end of the 18th century. In some cases directories provide the only information we have, while in others they provide a fairly reliable chronological and geographical framework on which to hang otherwise unrelated information from other sources." Next week I will discuss further numismatic use of data from city directory research."


Dick also pointed out an article from the September 10, 2002 issue of The New York Times. The article discusses collector attitudes toward new coin designs. Dick writes: "The thought that comes to me is: numismatics does not speak with a unified voice. Ask a dozen numismatists and you get a dozen different viewpoints. And I am not satisfied with any statement the American Numismatic Association states (which should be the voice for all of us in the field). Should not a study be made of the future of coins and what denominations are required before we start squabbling about whose portrait should appear on them? Personally, I see dropping both the cent and the nickel in a future economy. But I believe coins should be struck in one, five, ten and twenty dollar denominations with dime and half dollar fractional denominations. I suggest coins be created in the same denominations as paper money, and the portraits for these new coins should be the same person (not necessarily the same portrait -- it is a different kind of art -- that the notes bear! Quarters? Souvenirs of the future!" Here are a few excerpts from the article by Lynette Clemetson, headlined "Penny in Their Thoughts: Two Camps Debate New Look for Coins": "Change is good. But changing change, as the United States Mint is finding out, may prove to be tricky business. The mint wants to make over America's pocket change, replacing Thomas Jefferson's beloved Monticello from the nickel with an image of Lewis and Clark's expedition, and possibly retiring Abraham Lincoln from the penny and Franklin D. Roosevelt from the dime. Traditionalist's are reluctant. But coin collectors are cheering. After all, they are the ones who got the debate rolling, arguing that the United States' coins are boring." "Some coin collectors have advocated redesigns that eliminate presidents altogether, in favor of thematic depictions of liberty and history. "I'm not trying to put down dead dignitaries, but the public wants to see something new to stimulate pride and interest, not just in coins, but in history," said Fred Weinberg, former president of the Professional Numismatists Guild, which represents more than 300 coin dealers around the world. "In the coin fraternity, this is hot news." The idea has drawn a chilly response from presidential supporters. The redesign report was originally released a year ago, in August 2001, but became the focus of debate this summer when officials at the Treasury Department put forth preliminary plans for a new nickel that would replace Monticello with a Lewis and Clark design. The suggestion stirred the outrage of Virginians. Representative Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia, with support of other Virginia lawmakers and Monticello enthusiasts, introduced and pushed through legislation in the House that would allow for a temporary three-year commemorative redesign, provided that Monticello return to the coin in 2006."


Bob Knepper writes: "Suggestions will be appreciated of where to borrow or buy a copy of this book: "Die Medaillen und Münzen der Wild- und Rheingrafen Fürsten zu Salm", by Paul Joseph. Original 1914, reprint 1975. This is #9534 in "Numismatic Bibliography" by Clain-Stefanelli. I recently discovered that a few of the coins of small German line Salm-Kyrburg in 1780 have the "wildmen" which I collect. Some other books list the coins but I hope this book will give more details. The coins are rare so I may or may not, be able to buy some, but I would like to give the details in "Wildmen of the World" which I hope to sometime publish. Neither the ANA nor NI have this book. I do not get to New York to use the ANS. I have not yet queried European dealers but it was not in some numismatic literature catalogs. Thank you." [Bob may be reached at: The organizations referenced are: American Numismatic Association (ANA), Numismatics International (NI), and American Numismatic Society (ANS). -Editor]


Howard A. Daniel III writes that a non-numismatist friend sent the following definition to him: "nummary (NUM-uh-ree) adjective. Pertaining to coins or money. [From Latin nummarius, from nummus (coin).] "`Originally the nummary Denomination of Silver,' observed William Douglass, a physician who commented on economic affairs, seems to have been the same as its Weight ...'" Elizabeth E Dunn, `Grasping at the Shadow': The Massachusetts Currency Debate, The New England Quarterly (Boston), Mar 1998." The definition came from the Word A Day email from which we've cited before in The E-Sylum. He notes that the web site also has a dictionary "which appears to be VERY extensive." Howard found this site to be very interesting and that it would be very useful to him and might be to other NBS members too. [Interesting word, but as a numismatic bibliophile, I'm even more interested in the mentioned citation. A web search found a number of references to the Dunn article, but unfortunately the text seems to be unavailable, even on the New England Quarterly web site (see Has anyone read the article, or have access to the journal? I'll see if offprints or back issues are available from the publisher. -Editor]


In response to last week's pieces about electronic money, Stephen Pradier writes: "I am a firm believer in going cashless and coinless. Back in 1987 debit cards were in wide use on the West Coast years before they made it over to the East Coast. I thought it amazing to be able to make a purchase from your personal bank account with plastic as opposed to using a credit card. In Arizona, the debit cards were different colors (from the same bank), allowing merchants to have some idea of the customers standing at the bank. Arizona is fairly transient with tourists and retirees (snowbirds) so a debit card was more widely accepted than a paper check. Ever since debit cards were made available on the East Coast, around 1996/1997, I have never had a red cent or a greenback on my person. Now I only collect coins and paper and never spend them. Plastic money is accepted everywhere -- Colonel Sanders, the grocery, pizza orders, taxi cabs, the US Post Office (they even give you cash back if you want it) and most of all the Internet merchants. Individuals can also accept plastic or electronic money via Bill Payment services like PayPal, C2IT, Billpoint, etc. You name it they take it. Plastic money comes in all kinds of colors and motifs. Cards produced with your favorite pastime, like Beer Drinkers, Shooters, NFL, Golf, Birds, Cats, Trees, and Spider Man to name a few. What's more, you are no longer limited to a plastic card. They come as Wands, Key Chains, and New Wave shapes. I have yet to see a card that had the appearance of money. It may yet take awhile for the U.S. to go cashless, much like trying to go paperless. Some people just love the look, feel and smell of real money." In the opposite court is David Davis, who writes: "I find the discussions about the demise of coins and currency interesting to read or listen to but can't get very excited. The past prognostications haven't been very reliable and, while it may be shortsighted, who cares? The coins and currency I collect was all made over 70 years ago. I am more concerned with the fact that more firms in many different fields are either going to or using CDs to replace catalogs. I like the printed forms and find it inconvenient to have to go to the computer to look something up. Is this just another go around on the elimination of paper? In business computers only added to the paperwork logjam."


According to a new study published in a letter to the journal Nature, Euro coin users may get blisters - their high nickel content is giving people with allergies rashes and blisters after contact. "There's another complaint against some euro coins -- they cause skin irritation in people who are sensitive to nickel. Scientists at the University of Zurich studied the phenomenon by taping one- and two-euro coins to the skin of patients with nickel allergies. After 48 to 72 hours, all the patients showed a strong allergic reaction, including redness and blisters. The researchers say these coins [the two-Euro] cause more irritation than other coins with similar levels of nickel, and they think they know why. The one- and two-euro coins are made with a ring of one metallic alloy surrounding a central "pill" of another alloy. Both alloys contain nickel. When the coins are exposed to sweaty hands, ions flow between the two compounds, which generates a tiny electrical charge, and makes both metals corrode faster than they would by themselves. The amount of nickel released can be more than 300 times the levels permitted under European Union regulations. The scientists confirmed the effect by soaking coins in artificial human sweat. The reaction also takes its toll on the coins: They changed color and showed signs of corrosion." See also the December 2, 2001 E-Sylum (v4n49) for an earlier item on this topic. -Editor]


This week's featured web site is the American Numismatic Association's online exhibit of the currencies of Imperial Russia. 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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