The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 5, Number 39, September 29, 2002:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2002, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


  This week's new subscribers are Robert Christie, Joe Wolfe,
  John Shagren Jr.,  Marco Fiumani of Italy, courtesy of Jose
  Luis Rubio, and Gawain O'Connor, courtesy of Martin Purdy
  Welcome aboard!  This brings our subscriber count to 491.


  In response to Richard Crosby's note entitled "Plain Brown
  Wrappers,"  Greg Heim writes: "I could not agree more.
  When I  moved last year, I was talking to one of the postal
  employees when she started asking me questions about
  those "neat" coin magazines I was getting.

  I got the same response from Coin World as you did, and
  I could not agree with them less.  Just because you have a
  P.O. box does not mean that other people can't see you
  with the magazine in the vestibule.  I would gladly play an
  extra $10.00 a year for the security.  BTW, I believe that
  Numismatic News ships in a plain brown wrapper for their
  first class mail option.


  William T. Gibbs, News Editor of Coin World writes:
  "Regarding the note from Mr. Richard Crosby published
  last week:   It is true that Amos Hobby Publishing, publishers
  of "Coin World," "Linn's Stamp News" and other hobby
  publications, lacks the necessary equipment to place their
  publications into a "plain brown wrapper" of the sort used
  by the publishers of the other magazines mentioned.

  Because we lack the necessary equipment, our circulation
  department cannot provide that service to our subscribers.
  Up to now, the best they could do is suggest subscribers
  have their issues sent to a post office box.   Placing the
  issues in an unprinted wrap of the kind sold several times a
  year by the advertising department would require additional
  postal and paper costs, which would be passed on to
  advertisers and subscribers.  However, an alternative will
  be available soon, when "Coin World" follows in the
  electronic footsteps of "Linn's" and begins offering the
  complete weekly issue in print and online versions (same
  publication, one print and one electronic).  Linn's recently
  began offering each complete weekly issue online (all
  contents, editorial and advertising) as a subscription-based
  publication in addition to the standard print edition.  We'll
  announce details about the online issue of "Coin World"
  as they become available, both at our main Web site and
  in the print edition of "Coin World."

  The subscribers to this e-mail publication generally love
  traditional literature in all of its printed glory even as they
  embrace the immediacy of  "The E-Sylum."  My own
  bookshelves at home (not to mention boxes upon boxes)
  are filled with books on many topics.  Electronic publishing,
  however, is a wave of the future, and "Coin World" is
  poised to take its next step into that future.

  The online edition will offer several advantages: It will get to
  subscribers' homes faster than the USPS can get the print
  edition to them (moving at the speed of light vs. snail mail).
  Subscribers who chose the online-only option will have no
  worries about security.  Most interesting, I think, to the
  subscribers of this journal, we'll gradually build an online,
  searchable archive of every article and every advertisement
  we publish each week."

  [A searchable online archive would be nirvana for researchers.
    Bring it on!  -Editor]


  Robert Christie writes: "In The Money Tree's 23rd sale of
  numismatic literature on June 24th, 1995 I won Del Bland's
  auction room copy of George Kolbe's sale of Selections
  From The John W. Adams library held in June, 1990.  Inside
  the front cover is a list of all the bidders and their bidder
  numbers.    Alongside each lot in the public part of the auction
  is the number of the bidder who won the lot and what they paid.
  Del Bland was bidding on lots for Dennis Mendelson.  I have
  both of their invoices.  I could give Del a hug for keeping such
  meticulous records of a great auction.  The following people
  attended this auction with their bid numbers following.

  R.E. Naftzger Jr. bidding for ANS   15
  Dan Hamelberg   1
  Del Bland   14
  Dennis Mendelson   16
  Alan Meghrig   17
  John Bergman   4
  Armand Champa   7
  Jess Patrick   6
  Dick Punchard   342
  Dr. Phillip W. Ralls   12
  Tom Reynolds   3
  Dan Demeo   19
  Jan Valentine   11
  Chris Victor-McCauley   25
  Ray Bisordi   5
  Jeff Rock   50
  Stuart Levine   23
  Denis W. Loring   281

  I know that several of the above people are no longer with
  us, but I would very much like to hear from the rest and have
  them share their memories of that auction with me.  Del Bland
  made me feel as though I was there.  Maybe George Kolbe
  has some memories of that auction to share.  My address is
  Robert Christie, 233 Fair Street, Carmel, N.Y. 10512
  I look forward to hearing from you."


  Christopher Rivituso's note about phone box tokens in Italy
  elicited a number of new responses:

  Neil Shafer writes: "With reference to Italian telephone
  tokens in circulation, I believe the years they were thus
  used were 1975-78 for sure, possibly also earlier and
  later.  Those were the years of the severe coin shortage
  in Italy that spawned the issuance of a large variety of
  Mini-assegni, small checks from a number of banks that
  circulated in place of the vanished coinage.  Along with
  those mini-checks were some private tokens and these
  telephone tokens.  As I recall, their value was pegged at
  50 lire.  Does anyone have more definitive information on
  this?  My interest was mainly the mini-assegni but I did
  get several examples of the hard money as well."

  Ted Buttrey writes:  "I go back and forth to Italy, and my
  aging brain will not now allow me to give exact dates; but
  you might know of a period some years ago when
  small-change coins of all values were simply unobtainable
  in Italy.  Telephone tokens were at least monetiform, and
  had the fixed value of 200 lire.  Otherwise people were
  using the smallest wrapped piece of candy, at 10 lire --
  I used them at toll stations on the highway -- and many
  banks issued small denomination paper.   When some of
  them got in trouble for printing notelets of 100, 500 or
  1000 lire they retaliated by issuing them in odd
  denominations like 150 lire.

  I can remember being in a shop in Sicily where the customer
  proffered such a small note, and it was refused -- not
  because it was paper, because that stuff circulated
  everywhere, but because the shopkeeper read it first, found
  that it came from a bank in northern Italy, and didn't know
  if he could get rid of it.  None of this stuff was legal tender,
  of course, but without it small transactions would have been
  impossible.  I seem to recall that this situation lasted well
  over a year.   The banks must have made a nice profit from
  the notes that were never redeemed.  Come to think of it, I
  wonder -- though I have no idea -- whether any of the notelets
  were produced purely to profit from collectors, who wouldn't
  ever redeem them, like much of the German Notgeld of the

  [Interesting experience.  You know, E-Sylum readers have
   great vocabularies.  Your editor hasn't seen the word
  "monetiform"  before - can someone provide a definition?]

  Bruce Purdue adds: "In 1973 I was stationed in Istanbul,
  Turkey with the U.S. Air Force and "getton" or "gettone" was
  the word used in Turkey for the phone tokens... perhaps this
  is a European term.   After some thought I realized that in
  Turkey it was a "Jeton", which is the french word for token ...
  older version was "jetton".

  I found the following information using "Google".  This is from

  "Our town recently started a jitney. My friends and I could
  not come to an agreement on the origin of the word.  Is it a
  word for a nickel or some pacific slang for an American jeep?

  Funnily enough, both guesses have an element of truth.  Such
  a vehicle was originally called a jitney bus because when it
  was introduced (around 1900) the standard fare was one
  nickel and the then current slang for a nickel was a jitney.
  But why was a nickel called a jitney?  One theory is that it
  comes from jetton (from the French jeton), "a gambling token",
  but this is not widely accepted.

  The Philippines has a kind of bus called a jeepney.  This is a
  portmanteau word formed from jeep + jitney."

  Kavan Ratnatunga adds that Ceylon has a telephone token
  from WWII.  "It's associated with a change in the 10-cent
  coin    from Silver to copper.   It was need to let the phone
  booths to continue to operate."
  For more information, see his web page:


  In response to the discussion about numismatic research
  in old city directories, George Fitzgerald writes: "I am a
  volunteer at the Allen County Public library in Fort Wayne,
  IN.  I work in the Genealogy section which has most of
  the City Directories in both books and microfilm.  This
  library is in downtown Fort Wayne, it is the second largest
  Genealogy library in the country.  It is open 7 days a week
  from Labor Day to Memorial Day.  It will be closed in Jan
  2003 because it is moving to temporary quarters for 2 years.
  The present library will be doubled in space.  We also have
  all of the U.S. census on microfilm."


  Dick Johnson writes: "For three weeks I have been writing
  about how numismatists can use City Directories in their
  numismatic research.  I received an email from Dave Bowers
  this week that reveals his use of these research tools. Here is
  what he said:

  "About 25 years or so ago a full set of all of the microfiche
  catalogues (directories to 1861) was available, and I bought
  [the set] for $5,000.  This was done, if I recall, by John J.
  Ford, Jr.  He called a number of interested people and
  rounded up five (I think) subscribers -- then simply made a
  deal with the compiler of the microfiches."

  Wow! What a fortunate purchase.  If you recall last week
  I mentioned the current cost of that set of microfiches was
  over $26,000. Five times what Dave and a handful of other
  farsighted researchers paid.  Name a coin that has increased
  five times since 1977!

  Dave went on to suggest a consortium of researchers might
  do the same today.  Frankly, I would rather put that kind of
  money in numismatic book purchases.  The reason?: the ease
  of obtaining these microfiches --  and Dave mentioned this --
  on Inter-Library Loan.

  "One thing," he wrote, "that is essential to anyone is this:
  Nearly  all microfilms can be obtained by inter-library loan,
  obviating the necessity to buy them.  All you have to do is
  establish a rapport with a friendly local public or university
  library and have them order the microfilms on loan.  I have
  done this for many years with hundreds of microfilms, and
  the system is efficient and superb!"

  I would like to add another tip here if you are researching
  people. City Directory microfilms (and a vast library of
  information) can also be obtained at your local Mormon
  Church.  I like researching at these just as much as the
  university libraries Dave mentioned.

  Call your local Mormon Church (Church of Later Day Saints).
  Ask if they have a Family History Center, and learn of the
  hours they are open.  Often these include an evening or two
  and a full day session, sometimes on Saturday.  They welcome
  people of all faiths to search people of the past.  They can
  borrow microfilm from Salt Lake City and you can use it in
  this Church Center. Sometimes it is crowded, but the staff can
  often answer questions that would stump public or university

  Dave's additional comments are pertinent: "Concerning
  available microfilms of later directories, these have been
  compiled on a catch as catch can basis, and for a given city,
  say Cincinnati, it is difficult to get a FULL set of anything.
  Newspapers are even worse, as often a particular "popular"
  newspaper (such as, for San Francisco, the Alta California)
  has been chosen for microfilming, and a dozen or more other
  newspapers have never been filmed (in the meantime, as with
  SF newspapers, existing archives of originals continue to be

  After you have exhausted your City Directory search, then
  what?  The next step is Census Records, or as Dave suggests,
  newspapers.  Next week I'll discuss researching in these
  historical newspapers.  Doesn't all this research talk make you
  want to start digging about some numismatic item of interest
  to you?"


  In with the new, out with the old.  It's a common situation
  when a new coinage system is put into place.  It's happening
  again with the introduction of the Euro. Kavan Ratnatunga
  sends this link to an article from BILBAO, Madrid, Spain:

  "A little bit of Europe's history is disappearing into the
  melting pots of a small firm in the Basque country of
  northern Spain.  The firm, Elmet, in Bilbao's industrial
  suburbs, is making a handsome profit out of melting down
  millions of Irish pennies delivered in denominations of one,
  two, 10 and 20 pence.  So far more than a million coins
  have been shipped here for recycling."


  New subscriber Joe Wolfe writes: "I have a slightly different
  interest than most of your members I am sure.  I have a hobby
  I am very serious about and do research on coin caches.  I am
  what people like to call a treasure hunter. I have a metal
  detector and go out and search for dropped or lost coins
  hoping to find a few valuable ones.

  First I research to find a good location and then go look.  I
  enjoy the research more.  Presently I am researching turnpikes
  here in Loudoun County, Virginia.  They started collecting tolls
  about 1795 and did so up to about 1925.   I hope the tolltakers
  dropped a few coins at the tollgates and that I can find where
  the tollgates sat.   I've searched about 10 sites already and
  found only a few coins:  a 1807 large cent, 1773 reale, and
  another large cent I could not see a date on.

  As it turns out roads were widened drastically from 1800 and
  most tollgate locations were destroyed unless the road was
  moved or a historical building existed at the tollgate and it
  was preserved.  Even with a building, surrounding ground was
  sometimes graded and dirt added to yards to make them

  The research is an education. Some of these tollgates operated
  for 50 years or more.  So there must be dropped coins in large
  numbers. Just to give you an idea,  the Little River Turnpike here
  in Virginia started around 1824 and in their best year collected
  about $20,000.00 at 6 tollgates. A lot of it was in pennies so
  many coins changed hands.  I also noted with enthusiasm that
  the tolls were often collected quarterly by the treasurer. My
  question now is where were the tolls kept until the treasurer
  took charge of them?

  Think of it as Active Numismatic Research - I research and
  then perform actions.    A magazine called Lost Treasure just
  published my first article.   I want to write my next article on
  tollgates. True, the articles are about treasure hunting but the
  research is often about coins and coin caches."

  [Joe may be reached at cachenut at -Editor]


  Gawain O'Connor writes: "In response to Martin Purdy's
  comment about euro allergy hogwash -

  The article about euros in the Sept. 14 issue of "Science
  News" shows a photo comparison to the nickel Swiss
  franc coin.  The pure nickel coin stays intact in their
  solution. So it appears that the bi-metallic aspect is what
  causes the problem, not the amount of nickel.

  The online version can be seen at

  The original article in Nature:

  [The Nature site requires a free registration.  -Editor]

  But it certainly could be that the study was prompted by
  bias against the new euro coins, as Mr. Purdy suggests."


  Chris Hopkins, Morten Eske Mortensen, Granvyl G.
  Hulse, Jr. and Mike Metras all wrote to add to our list of
  bibliography links.   Bruce Perdue offered to add them to
  the internet Open Directory to make them more accessible
  to a wider audience.

  On a related note, Granvyl G. Hulse, Jr. writes: "We have
  talked on and off of a master listing of books and articles on
  coins, etc. If Elvira Clain-Stefanelli's "Numismatic Bibliography"
  could be transferred to disk, it would be a perfect place to
  start from in compiling a master listing of numismatic material.
  Do you have any idea if this has been done?   I went surfing
  some of the listings you gave and it struck me first that if we
  pulled down all of the library indexes, compiled them into
  one master index we would have an excellent reference.
  Then I thought of Elivra's book and realized that if it was
  placed on a disk, two-thirds of our work would already be
  done, and we could build from there.   What I would like to
  know is who holds the copyright to her book.  It was
  published in the era of computers so it is possible that it is
  already on disk. I think that it is worth checking."


  From the New Scientist comes an article about a new kind
  of token that cannot be counterfeited and could one day be
  used in credit cards and other secure identification applications.
  A team at the MIT Media Lab's Center for Bits and Atoms
  has discovered that "a transparent token the size of a postage
  stamp and costing just a penny to make can be used to
  generate an immensely powerful cryptographic key."

  "The team created tokens containing hundreds of glass beads,
  each a few hundred micrometres in diameter, set in a block of
  epoxy one centimetre square and 2.5 mm thick. These are
  "read" by shining a laser beam of a particular wavelength
  through the token."

  "The token could not be duplicated using any manufacturing
  technology in existence or planned....  One future use of the
  tokens could see them being embedded into credit cards."

  "... the first products using the tokens could be developed in
  as little as six months."


  Interesting quote, attributed to Margaret Meade, that could
  apply to our subscribers:   "Never doubt that a small group of
  thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed,
  it is the only thing that ever has."

  On a related note, Kavan Ratnatunga writes: "The collecting
  addiction is recognized and discussed here:
  There is a also a diagnostic test and some help on one
  aspect of numismatic addiction:"


  Coin designers' artistic inspirations are a popular topic
  among numismatic researchers.  In a newspaper
  advertisement (of all places) I recently saw a reference to
  Gobrecht's inspiration for one of his Liberty head designs.
  It was an ad peddling $10 gold coins.   A search of the net
  found a couple thirdhand references, but no original source
  material.  I was hoping to find an image of the painting
  in question.  In any event, perhaps one of our E-Sylum
  readers can shed some more light on the issue.

  The best account I found was on a dealer web page
  which credited Numismatic Guarantee Corp. (NGC)
  for the story and photos.  I was unable to find the same
  text on the NGC web site.

  "Director Robert M. Patterson was instructed to produce
  eagles, and Acting Engraver Christian Gobrecht, replacing
  the ailing William Kneass, prepared dies for a new design.

  Gobrecht's design, inspired by the portrait of Venus in
  Benjamin West's Painting Omnia Vincit Amor  (Love
  Conquers All), also became the prototype for the half-eagle
  and large cent of 1839."   From

  This page has links to several images of West's paintings:


  One of my favorite sources for contemporary accounts
  of 18th century numismatics is The Gentleman's Magazine.
  Stan Stephens, writing in the Yahoo Colonial Coins news
  group transcribed this interesting item from vol 44 (1774):

  "31 March: 'Information having been given to Sir John
  Fielding, that a company of coiners made a business of
  coining halfpence in a house on Fish-street-hill, that
  magistrate applied to the Lord Mayor for his warrant to
  apprehend them, which he obtained, and sent five of his
  people, well-armed, to take them by surprize.  There were
  no less than eight of them at work, who, when they found
  themselves discovered, endeavoured to make resistance,
  and one of them received a ball in his head before he

  The night before, they had sent a child for some beer, with
  new halfpence to pay for it; and the landlord observing to
  the child that they were warm, she innocently replied, that
  her daddy had just made them.  A cart-load of Implements
  were found In the house, and carried to Bow-street."

  To subscribe to the Colonial Coins group, send an email to:
  colonial-coins-subscribe at


  This week's featured web site was suggested by Larry
  Mitchell, who writes: "I can't remember if you've covered
  this site or not - The British Museum's World of Money.
  In any event, it's an especially good site for the younger set:

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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