The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 5, Number 43, October 27, 2002:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2002, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


  Catherine Block Silas writes: "Regretfully I report the death
  of my dear brother David H. Block on October 16, 2002.
  He was editor of the Asylum from the summer of 1988
  until the summer of 1991. He enjoyed his tenure as editor
  and the interesting relationship with Carling Gresham."

  Joel Orosz writes: "David was the proverbial "gentleman
  of the old school," a courtly, gentle, scholarly man with a
  wide breadth of interests and learning.  He was slight of build
  and quiet of demeanor, but had a puckish sense of humor.
  He edited The Asylum with dignity and erudition.

  I wrote about the difficulties that David (and the rest of the
  club) had with Carling Gresham during the time when David
  was editor (see my history of the NBS published along with
  the Index to The Asylum) so I won't repeat them here.
  Suffice it to say that David behaved with class throughout
  the entire trying time, and relinquished his editorial duties
  with the same quiet dignity.

  David was a man of many parts, but they all added up to
  an admirable whole.  The hobby will miss him."

  [NBS Members and other E-Sylum readers who knew
  David Block are encouraged to write to me any
  remembrances they may have; we're compiling them
  for publication in a future Asylum.  -Editor]


  I'd like to welcome our many readers from the
  Rochester Numismatic Association, who were
  introduced to us by Nick Graver.  Nick writes:
  "At the last meeting of RNA I had folks thanking me
  for making them aware of your project.  They are
  printing The E-Sylum on paper for the benefit of
  leading members who are not online."


  Following some inquiries from E-Sylum readers, Adrián
  González Salinas writes: "The Sociedad Numismática de
  México, A.C.'s web-page is
  The price of 2002 Commemorative Boletín is $150 (US$15)
  for SNMx's members and $200 (US$20) for non-members,
  plus shipping and handling.  Any questions about Boletín's
  orders could be answered by Dr. Luis Gómez Wulschner
  (SNMx Treasurer) at lgwnumisma at
  Any other information, I'll be glad to answer at
  agonzalez at"

  [The listed web address is not currently functioning, as
  one E-Sylum reader learned.  But these email addresses
  should be all one needs to order a copy of the issue.

  Salinas respnded: "I contacted Dr. Luis Gómez W
  (SNMx-Treasurer) and he commented the following:
  "Regrettably, The Sociedad Numismática de México,
  A.C.'s web-page was canceled,  because it hasn't
  a web-master and also to cut costs."

  I promise to inform you when SNMx web-page
  appears again."


  Dick Johnson writes: "The ancient coin book mentioned in last
  week's E-Sylum "purchased from C. de Kay /1885 / Augustus
  St Gaudens (signed)" also reveals the interests of the seller as
  well as buyer St-Gaudens.  Charles de Kay is known to
  medal collectors as the co-founder of the Circle of Friends of
  the Medallion (1909-1915).

  Charles de Kay (who also wrote under the pseudonym Henry
  Eckford) was a newspaper writer who wrote the text for the
  12 books that contained medals inserted in thick diecut pages
  bound in. Devoid of facts, de Kay's text was all fluff (like he
  was being paid by the inch and was really padding it, perhaps
  like his newspaper columns).

  He was a longtime art critic for the New York Times and
  socialized in the New York artsy crowd (many of which were
  prominent or wealthy or both who he strong-armed into
  joining the Circle of Friends, 554 members by 1911!). He
  was colorful enough to deserve today a Pete Smith
  biography in The Numismatist, or an Ed Rochette expose

  The other co-founder of the Circle was Robert Hewitt Jr,
  also well-known to numismatists as a collector of Lincolniana
  and whose collection (which at one time occupied an entire
  room in his home) ended up at the Smithsonian."

  [A web search uncovered a couple examples of de Kay's
   writing. -Editor

  An article in Century Magazine Vol. VII, January 1887,
  under the name Henry Eckford: "Fencing and the New
  York Fencers"

  Charles de Kay's 1890 article on artist Albert Pinkham
  Ryder (also written under the pseudonym Henry Eckford)
  appears in the June issue of the Century Magazine:


  Kerry Wetterstrom writes: "After thinking about the news
  of a format change for The Numismatist, I have a question.
  I'm all for the format change, but I don't really like the idea
  of a name change.  Tradition can be a good thing and for
  100+ years The Numismatist has served the ANA well.
  Am I the only one that thinks this way?  Make all of the
  format changes that you want, but let's leave the name the
  same.   If E-Sylum readers have an opinion, they can write
  to me and I'll summarize the results next week.  My email
  address is: kerence at"

  Dave Lange writes: "I'm pleased to say that I'll now have
  more space to fill with my column. Until now, I've been
  restricted to about 670 words, which was scarcely enough
  to warm up.  The larger format will allow for more words
  per page. Starting with the January issue,  I'm being allotted
  875 words. This should reduce the pain of self editing that
  I go through every month."


  Saul Teichman writes: "Some of your pattern bibliomaniacs
  may find this interesting.  It is one of 2 blue lucite blocks,
  about 14 x 10 inches, made in 1965 which house 3 each
  of the Martha Washington cupro-nickel clad dimes - Pollock
  2081, cupro-nickel clad quarters - Pollock 2082 and silver
  clad half dollars - Pollock 2083."


  Your editor spent much of this weekend at the fall coin
  show sponsored by the Pennsylvania Association of
  Numismatists (PAN).  The show was held at the
  Pittsburgh Expo Mart in Monroeville, PA.  Many
  E-Sylum readers were there, although with all of my
  running around I didn't get to see or talk with everyone.
  It was a surprise and a pleasure to see two of our NBS
  Board members in attendance -- Dave Hirt and John

  I managed to snag a third-place prize for my exhibit on
  the numismatic literature of members of the Western
  Pennsylvania Numismatic Society. The competition was
  tough - there were a lot of top-notch exhibits.

  At the banquet Saturday evening, Cliff Mishler of
  Numismatic News surprised me with a Numismatic
  Ambassador award.   For once I was kind of speechless
  - it's a real honor to be included with such a great group of
  active hobbyists.


  David Fanning writes: "Two of Larry Lee's comments
  regarding American coin hoards are, I believe, deserving
  of comment:

  First, Lee wrote that "I personally feel that 'coin shooters' and
  pot-hunters usually destroy any archeological context that may
  be associated with a buried coin when they go treasure hunting
  and that in general, they do a great disservice to the history of
  our country by removing the artifacts from the ground. The fact
  it is illegal to use a metal detector in our National Parks
  indicates the government feels the same way about the issue."

  This is troublesome. Lee has a good point about the value of
  conserving archaeological context and is correct in saying that
  metal-detector enthusiasts tend to ignore this when pursuing a
  find. However, I would suggest that there is no generally
  workable alternative.  The vast majority of museum personnel
  across the country know little to nothing about numismatic
  objects and frankly aren't going to rush out to the scene if
  someone calls reporting a coin or two they found in the woods.
  On the off-chance the museum personnel do come to the scene
  and end up in possession of the find, the odds are good that the
  coins will end up unlabeled, unattributed and stuck in storage
  somewhere (particularly if the coins are not easily attributable).
  Most museums simply do not have the staff and resources
  available to provide this kind of service.  Speaking for myself,
  I'd rather the coins be known context-free than not at all.

  A brief look through past issues of the Colonial Newsletter
  turns up information on coin finds by amateurs which have then
  been described for the publication.  In most of these cases, if
  these coins were found and given to a local museum staff, I
  would be willing to bet just about anything that they would
  not have had their descriptions published in the proper
  journal and that their importance would have been ignored
  by curators unable to attribute the pieces and unwilling to
  learn.  While treasure hunters of all stripes need to be more
  careful about preserving context with their finds, to suggest
  that they "do a great disservice to the history of our country"
  is a tad extreme.  In addition, the ban against metal detectors
  on Federal lands has, I suspect, a lot more to do with
  questions of ownership which arise from objects found on or
  in public land than it does with archaeological context,
  something I doubt most government officials can spell, much
  less preserve.

  Second, Lee wrote that "Incidentally, under the Native
  American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)
  enacted in 1991, it is now illegal to own numismatic artifacts
  that demonstrably came from 'Indian' graves.  Though not yet
  tested in court, this ban possibly could include awarded Indian
  Peace medals and the so-called Oregon beaver token."  This is,
  to the best of my understanding, true, though I don't know that
  its applicability would be broad enough to include these
  numismatic objects unless their origin in a grave is
  "demonstrably" proven.  However, I would suggest that while
  it is important to respect the cultures of living groups, it is a
  very good thing for the study of history that most cultures do
  not disapprove of precisely this type of scientific examination.
  This is a touchy subject, and a bit off-topic for the E-Sylum,
  but as numismatists, people who study history through tangible
  relics from the past,  I would suggest caution against adopting
  a perspective of "once it's in the ground, it should stay there."


  Stephen Pradier writes: "Does anyone know when was the
  last time Ars Classica put out a hardbound catalogue with a
  dust jacket matching their regular card cover catalogues?

  I received one yesterday -- a  blue cloth hardbound with
  dustjacket for the upcoming Auction 24, December 5, 2002
  A Highly Important Collection of Roman and Byzantine Gold
  Coins, Property of an European Nobleman.

  All of the plates are in color on a heavy stock glossy paper.
  It is really quite nice.

  I did some searching on the internet and in a roundabout
  way found that they have a web site under construction at

  It is set up to handle bids and display all of the lots from the
  upcoming auction. Some of the other links are not working
  yet, however."


  Dick Johnson and Joel Orosz recommended a story
  published October 26th in The New York Times.
  Joel writes: "Here is a virtual halloween horror story for
  bibliophiles."   Some excerpts follow, with a link to the
  original article (free registration required):

  "At some point, even ardent bibliophiles begin to view
  their beloved books as a burden. Maybe it is when the
  cover finally falls off that college edition of Ezra Pound,
  or the paperbacks begin to warp as they are forced into
  shelves that once seemed spacious. But few in this
  particular fix can bring themselves to take effective
  remedial action.

  It might be comforting to know that professionals have
  similar problems. In the lexicon of library science,
  managing such unwieldy growth is known as weeding. It's
  the closest most New Yorkers will ever get to gardening.

  The city library system offers two opposing models to
  emulate: the research libraries, like the flagship on Fifth
  Avenue, which rarely discard anything, or the many branch
  libraries, where collections are tailored to patrons' tastes.
  Both approaches have committed advocates."

  "If just one person requests a particular book every 50
  years, we want to have it on hand," says Paul LeClerc, the
  president of the New York Public Library. He is speaking
  of the research facilities, particularly the system's
  magnificent humanities library. Its five million books are
  housed in 88 miles of shelves, extending underneath the
  whole of Bryant Park, between 40th and 42nd Streets.
  Lounging visitors thus relax directly above what the
  library calls the nation's memory."


  This week's featured web site is the American Society of
  Check Collectors:

  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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