The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 5, Number 41, October 13, 2002:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2002, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


  As we approach the 500 subscriber mark, a change is
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  Dick Johnson writes: "One of my proudest possessions is a
  scrapbook of newspaper clippings.  It was compiled by John
  McAllister, Jr. of Philadelphia and it covered the period 1831
  to 1857. He hand inscribed a title on the cover: "Coinage /
  Mint Reports / &c."

  Inside are loose newspaper clippings in envelopes by year.
  The envelopes are so fat they have burst the spine of a book,
  whose contents are long since lost or discarded but whose
  covers were pressed into service to corral the envelopes.

  The clippings are just as bright today as in the mid 19th
  century (thank you, rag paper, but for some strange reason
  they don't photocopy well -- the white paper emerges gray on
  such copies).  Most of the articles are mundane --  exchange
  rates, mining production, shipment of ore to the mint, public
  comments on coins. Mostly economic, little numismatic.

  But among the chaff is a real gem!:  a three-part series of
  articles which ran in the weekly "Philadelphia Dispatch"
  January 23 and 30, 1853 and February 6, 1853, headlined
  "The Way Coins Are Made, A Rare Visit to The United
  States Mint."  It is outstanding for reporting the technology
  in use by the Mint at that time! (It predates and far surpasses
  Waldo Abbott's series in Harper's Weekly eight years later,

  I have transcribed all the text of this 3-part series. My
  computer tells me there are 12,426 words, 344 paragraphs
  and 480 sentences. The series is unsigned, and I have been
  to the National Archives in Philadelphia twice searching U.S.
  Mint visitor rosters and correspondence of the period for the
  possible identify of the unknown author. He may have been
  British, or trained in England.  Seven words are the British
  spellings, yet "color" is spelled without the "u" as in England.

  The author's scenario goes through the Mint a department
  at a time -- he calls these rooms -- and describes the
  technology in 14 such rooms.  As a mint technology historian
  I find this fascinating.  It relates data for the most part not
  reported anywhere else. I have affixed 76 notes to the author's
  comments adding data that I could from a perspective 149
  years later.

  I relate this as an example of the absolutely fantastic
  information that can be gleaned from local newspapers. My
  tip for the week is Do Not Overlook Scrapbooks.  (In fact,
  I will buy any scrapbook on the U.S. Mint or American
  medals of any period.)

  Next week: How to do newspaper research and some
  very useful tips and comments on numismatic research in
  newspapers from Dave Bowers."


  Last week's item about researching Panamanian currency
  inspired Jess Gaylor to do some digging in his own library.  He
  writes: "I own a signed copy of the reference book, "Coins and
  Currency of Panama" by Capt. Julius Grigore Jr. USNR. There
  I found the following information:

  Denomination   Number Printed
        1                 720,000
        5                 100,000
       10                100,000
       20                  25,000

  These were printed after the enactment of Article 156 under
  Presidente Arnulfo Arias.  The first issuance of the Arias
  Notes as they became known was made on Oct. 2, 1941.
  These were engraved and printed by the Hamilton Note
  Company of New York City.  Each bill is exactly the same
  size as US Paper Currency.  The reason these became
  known as the seven day notes was that President Aria was
  deposed after seven days in office.  Of the 945,000 notes
  issued as of 1959 there were 3,000 balboas total.  Numbers
  of each bill  unknown.  All are listed as extremely rare in the
  Encyclopedia of World Paper Money.  (All credit goes to
  Capt. Grigore as the author, I just read and rewrote)."


  Is anyone familiar with the 1926 book by Jesse P. Watson
  titled "The Bureau of the Mint: Its History, Activities and
  Organization" (The Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore, MD)?

  It's a recent acquisition for my library, and I'm curious as
  to why I haven't come across a copy until recently.  The
  book isn't listed in Charles Davis' "American Numismatic
  Literature".   The book is part of a series of "Service
  Monographs of the United States Government"  published
  by an organization called The Institute for Government
  Research (Washington, D.C.).  The Mint book is No. 37
  in the series, covering branches from The Geological Survey
  to the Tariff Commission, Patent Service, and the Bureau
  of Lighthouses.

  Since the book was written and published outside of
  numismatic circles, perhaps it's not unusual that it doesn't
  appear in any of the usual places.  I actually have two
  copies now, and both are library discards.  Was the
  book ever actively marketed to the general public, or did
  it go straight to libraries and government offices?

  The History section is brief, but to me the more interesting
  sections are on the Activities and Organization of the mint
  in the 1920's.  The Outline of Organization chapter lists
  every single position at the mint as of July 1, 1925, along
  with the salary rate for the position.  The Director was
  paid $5,600 annually;  a Machinist made $6.96 per diem;
  Foreman of Coin Counters, $6.56 per diem;  there were
  eight "Sewing Women" who earned $4.40 per diem.  At
  the San Francisco mint, the "Foreman, Whitening Room"
  made $6.77 per diem.


  As long as I'm clearing off my desk, I'll mention some
  other interesting finds.   A month or so ago I had taken
  a box of low value duplicates to a local club meeting as
  giveaways.  When the feeding frenzy was over only a
  few lonely items remained.  I couldn't bear to throw
  them out, so I took a second look.  One was a Federal
  Coin Exchange catalog for the North East Ohio Coin
  Club convention in Cleveland, OH in July, 1961.  Lot
  1321 was "a complete collection of World War II forms,
  ration books, application forms, decals, deposit certificates,
  tokens, etc.  All forms that were ever issued over a period
  of approximately five years."  The one and a half page
  description outlines a museum-quality collection including
  a number of items printed by the government but never
  released to the public.   I wonder who the buyer was,
  and where this collection is today.

  Another item is the Federal Brand Eagle, a fixed price
  list published by Federal Brand Enterprises of Cleveland.
  (Vol 2. No 1, January 1965).  It includes a nice little article
  by Robert Obojski, PhD titled "The Story of Encased Postage
  Stamps and Their Use as Money"   The pricelist offered a
  rare one cent Dougan the Hatter for $600, along with several
  of the more common encased stamps.


  ANA's videographer David Lisot provides free streaming
  videos and information about numismatics on his new web
  site. Videos of ANA's Numismatic Theatre presentations
  from recent conventions are featured as well as live news
  broadcasts and archived film clips of interviews with hobby
  luminaries.  Using a high-speed broadband internet
  connection is advisable - a dialup connection would be too
  slow.  The address is:

  The program schedule includes:
  "Good as Gold" by David Sundman
  "Rare US Half" by  David W. Lange
  "English Hammered Coins" by Arthur M. Fitts
  "Ed Trompeter Collection" by David Lisot
  "PNG Living History"  David Lisot and Ed Rochette
  "Abner Kreisberg" interview
  "Jerry Cohen" interview
  "William Steinberg" interview

  For full descriptions, see


  Rich Hartzog notes that an earlier E-Sylum discussion on
  the Director and Engraver Edge Marks of the Paris Mint
  led him to update his web site with a page of information
  on the topic.   See


  To sum up what is known about the Italian Telephone tokens
  we've been discussing, Marco Fiumani writes: "The first official
  Italian telephone tokens appeared on the first half of the 20th
  century and in Italy the STIPEL (Società Telefonica Interregionale
  Piemontese e Lombarda) introduced the first telephone tokens
  to the Fair of Milan in 1927.  The experimentation with little
  public phones for city telephone calls that worked with tokens
  with three grooves, of the cost of 60 cts of lira.  The success of
  the experiment meant that the public phones multiplied and in
  the succeeding year also the TIMO (Società Telefoni Medio
  Orientale) and the TELVE (Società Telefonica delle Venezie)
  imitated the STIPEL.

  The TETI (Telefonica Tirrena) instead began from 1930 to
  introduce public phones working with coins of 50 cts.  In 1935
  also the TETI pass to coin tokens made of aluminum and
  subsequently of zinc of the dimensions of the currency coins
  and without grooves; only during the 1945 the TETI unified
  with the other societies with a token with three grooves.

  The fifth company that coined telephone tokens in Italy was
  the SET (Società Esercizi Telefonici) in the south of Italy.
  The token issued in this period belong to the ?first period?
  of Italian telephone tokens.  After a telephonic reform, when
  the monopoly incumbent SIP joined all the previous telephone
  companies, the public phone were standardized and the ESM
  company (Emilio Senesi Medaglie, Milan), began to coin
  regular telephone tokens for all of Italy.

  In August of 1959 the ESM began dating the tokens by
  year and month.  Four figures indicate the year and the month
  of coinage. As an example 5909 indicates that the token it was
  coined in September 1959. This kind of token was coined till
  March 1972 with 122 different dates.  Those token belong to
  the ?second period?.

  Subsequently, increasing the number of the public phones, also
  the IPM (Industria Politecnica Meridionale in Arzano, Naples),
  CMM (Costruzioni Minuterie Metalliche, Santagata Catania)
  and the UT (Urmet Costruzioni Elettrotelefoniche Turin) began
  to coin the tokens until November 1980, last one coin known
  (IPM 8011). They coined the tokens with the manufacturers'
  logo in addition to the year/month group.

  In the 1970s telephone tokens ended up substituting for
  standard coins of the same 200 lire denomination. In 1972
  one token was manufactured for each Italian; by 1978 there
  were seven tokens produced per head of population.
  Between 1927 and 1980, the year when tokens ceased to
  be manufactured and the first dual-function phonecard/token
  telephones were introduced, a total of around 600 million
  tokens were issued in Italy.  On 31 December 2001 the
  telephone token was finally, definitively taken out of circulation.
  It remains a collector's-item for coin collectors and enthusiasts


  Granvyl G. Hulse, Jr. writes:   "The Numismatics International
  Library received the following query.  Can any of the E-Sylum
  readers help?

  "I'm writing an article on the Hotel Dieu in Beaune, France.
  The hospital was endowed with an annuity of 1,000 Touraine
  Pounds in 1453.  I'm trying to find out how much that would
  be in today's funds and don't know where to research.  Any
  help would be appreciated."


  Granvyl also received this query, and perhaps someone can
  help here, too.  Your editor is certainly stumped.

  "I am writing from Indian Prairie Public Library in Darien,
  IL (near Chicago). We have a patron who is interested in
  an explanation of the symbolism on a 200 Franc coin from
  Morocco.  It is entry Y#53 on page 1541 of the "2003
  Standard Catalog of World Coins."  The coin has a five
  pointed star within a six pointed star.  We have identified
  from an article at
  that the six pointed star, according to some Moroccans
  "indicates the past role of Jewish metal workers as
  concessionaries of the royal mint."  From "Flags of the World"
  we have identified that the five pointed star is on the Moroccan
  flag and represents the Seal of Solomon, an ancient symbol of
  life and good health.

  We have relayed the above information to the patron, but he
  wants to know if there is any way to tell the meaning of "both
  stars together."  I am not sure how to proceed, short of
  contacting the Treasury Department of Morocco or asking
  the designer of the coin himself.  Do you know of any experts,
  reference sources, contacts that could help us with this


  Joe Wolfe writes: "I am searching for the names of books or
  journal articles on what numismatists are concerned with when
  a cache of coins is found. Is there some sort of science for
  analysis of caches and what is it's name?  I am close to the
  Library of Congress and can slip down there easily for a
  day's research and reading. I can search, read, and eventually
  find the best resources but it is so much easier just to ask the
  experts. My reason for reading up on this topic is I want to
  do the right thing by numismatics and also archeologists when
  I find a cache of coins.

  From the treasure hunter's point of view I suspect an intact
  cache would be worth more to many potential buyers since
  he or she could do the analysis, publish material on what
  was found, and perhaps even name the find."

  [In numismatics the term "coin hoard" seems to be most
  often used.  There is quite a body of work on coin hoards
  of the ancient world, but far less has been written on hoards
  found in the United States.  Dave Bowers' book, "American
  Coin Treasures and Hoards" is the best single source of
  information on known hoards.  But none of the books I've
  seen discussed hoards from the archeological view. -Editor]


  A promotional cash giveaway went awry last Saturday in
  Sharon, Pennsylvania, a small town short drive from
  Pittsburgh.   As reported in the October 8th issue of
  the Pittsburgh, Post-Gazette, Sharon businessman James
  Winner's stunt idea wasn't so hot.

  "Winner, a savvy businessman and marketer known best
  for his automobile anti-theft device "The Club," hit upon a
  plan: Every Saturday in October, an air cannon perched atop
  The Winner, his four-story women's apparel store, would fire
  into the air $1,000 in cash -- 500 $2 bills -- and 2,000
  coupons worth up to $2 off at any of the myriad Winner

  Surely, he thought, that would create some excitement.
  Did it ever."

  "...  as soon as the air cannon became visible on top of the
  building and fired its first blast, the tone immediately changed.
  The cannon fired in one direction and the crowd surged that
  way. And then it pointed in a different direction and the crowd
  changed directions. Over and over again it fired throughout the
  20-minute promotion."

  "A crowd estimated at upwards of 2,000 -- some who began
  congregating as early as 5:30 a.m. Saturday for the 10 a.m.
  event -- jammed blocked-off West State Street and pushed
  and shoved and even knocked down children and the elderly
  in a mad, greedy scramble for the wind-blown loot.

  At least three people were injured, most seriously a 16-year-old
  girl who broke her foot when she fell while trying to get onto
  the roof of a diner where some money had landed.  A
  73-year-old woman who recently had hip surgery was knocked
  to the ground and treated at a hospital. A newspaper reporter
  was treated after she was hit in the back of the head.

  Disdaining civility or safety, people jumped and shoved and
  grabbed for the cash. The crowd shook the awnings of The
  Winner, a dozen or more people climbed onto the adjacent
  roof of Donna's Diner -- another Winner property, named for
  his wife -- and others dove into the nearby, chilly Shenango
  River, all in their quest for $2 bills."

  "I wish none of it had happened. I wish it would have been
  perfectly quiet. But when you try to do something exciting,
  sometimes it comes with collateral damage."

  "Winner said he'll continue his month-long Saturday
  promotions but from now on will hand out envelopes to
  people wearing red, white and blue or carrying an American
  flag.  The envelopes will contain money -- $1,500 this week
  in denominations ranging as high as $100 -- as well as gift
  certificates and money-off coupons for his businesses."

  [I am not making this up - here's a link to the original story:

  Other reports noted that some in the crowd were carrying
  fishing nets, which could have done double duty if the
  carrier ended up in the river...

  The incident brings to mind the classic episode of the TV
  sitcom "WKRP in Cincinnati," which featured clueless
  anchorman Les Nessman (tagline: "If It Happens in Cincinnati,
  It's News To Les!").   In the episode, the station manager had
  arranged a promotion for a local grocery store that featured
  turkeys dropped from a helicopter.  Nessman described the
  event live as the turkeys plummeted toward the hapless
  crowd.  "The turkeys are hitting the ground like sacks of wet
  cement!"   "Oh, the humanity!"

  The last line of the show?  Station manager:  "God as my
  witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

  A web search turned up a claim that the incident was based
  on an actual event over I-81 near Atlanta, GA.  -Editor]


  This week's featured web site is the British Conder Token
  Collector's Club, which has some nice images and online
  exhibits of 18th century British tradesmen's tokens.

  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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