The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 5, Number 46, November 17, 2002:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2002, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


  New subscribers include Robert "Bob" Doyle, of
  Clearwater, Florida,  B. Max Mehl collector Gary
  Andrews of Texas and Patrick McBride of McKeesport,
  PA.  Welcome aboard!   We now have 502 subscribers.


  Bob Metzger writes: "For years, I have listened to National
  Public Radio.  It's always been a sort of refuge for me, a
  familiar place no matter where my physical location happens
  to be.  Thus, wherever I have lived, I have supported my
  local NPR station by both becoming a member, and serving
  as a volunteer when possible.   I can, of course, listen to the
  radio whether or not I make a financial contribution, but I
  do get some tangible membership benefits, like a newsletter,
  merchant discounts, and advance invitations to certain events.
  And it may seem corny, but I also feel a certain satisfaction
  of being part of an organization that improves the quality
  of  life.

  I've been a Numismatic Bibliomania Society member for
  probably 15 years, and have enjoyed the E-Sylum for as
  long as it has been in existence.  I could, of course, receive
  the E-Sylum without ever having joined NBS, but I have
  always found the quarterly print journal packed with
  interesting articles and fascinating facts that are beyond
  the scope of the weekly electronic newsletter. And once
  again, I also feel a certain satisfaction of being part of an
  organization that improves the quality of  life.

  Do you also enjoy the E-Sylum?  Would you like to be a
  part of the organization that makes it possible?  Please
  join us today!"

  Bill Murray writes: "Congratulations to editors Tom Fort
  and David Fanning on the first-rate Fall issue of The Asylum.
  All you readers of this email newsletter, The E-Sylum, who
  are not members of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society
  are missing a good thing.  The latest issue of The Asylum
  offers you news of NBS in President Pete Smith's message;
  a fine article, "Seven Steps to Protect Your Library" by
  Doug Andrews; "Genealogical Methods in Numismatic
  Research," by Leonard Augsburger; a story of a neat
  (should I say, "cool") acquisition, "What People Put on
  eBay," by Stephen B. Pradier; a fun piece by David
  Fanning, "Hidden Treasures in Old Literature"; and an
  annual index of The Asylum which proves what you've
  missed by not joining NBS.  Join up!"

  [As described at the end of each E-Sylum issue, 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.   For those
  without web access,  write to David Sklow, NBS
  Secretary-Treasurer,  P.O. Box 76192, Ocala, FL  34481.
  Dues are $15/year to North American addresses, $20
  elsewhere.   Thank you.  -Editor]


  George Kolbe writes: "Our November 14th auction produced
  results considerably above expectations.  The market for good
  books on ancient coins - or for key works in all fields for that
  matter - continues to be strong, and American rarities in the
  sale often brought record prices. 350 bidders participated in
  the sale; nearly 200 bid sheets arrived between the 12th and
  the 14th, via fax, email and telephone. This is not to say that
  earlier bidders did not fare well - many were quite successful
  - it merely reflects the age in which we live, and pitfalls to be
  avoided. A "short" in our fax/DSL internet modem line
  discovered Wednesday morning the 13th nearly necessitated
  postponing the sale closing date. Thankfully, repeatedly
  jiggling the wires got things going until the telephone repairman
  arrived. There is a lesson here.  We always confirm email bids,
  and fax bid sheets on request. If bidders do not receive a
  response to their email messages, THERE IS A PROBLEM!

  American rarities were the stars of the sale. A few hammer
  prices follow.  A paper-covered set of The Asylum brought
  $375, with several bids at or above the $300 estimate; T.
  James Clarke's copy of Clapp-Newcomb on 1795, 1796,
  1797 and 1800 large cents sold for $650 on a $250 estimate;
  plated Chapman sales were in strong demand, including two
  Stickney sales, one  at  $1200, and a choice example  at 
  $3200; a superb Sargent catalogue  at  $3300; a Bement
  U. S.  at  $1400; etc. Other plated catalogues bringing
  strong prices included a presentation Parmelee  at  $1800;
  and a Granberg  at  $2400.  Two sets of Akers gold books
  brought $750 and $475; a superb set of The Elder Monthly
  sold for $1600; and a similar set of Mehl's Numismatic
  Monthly brought $2750, both eclipsing their previous auction
  results. More to follow.  The prices realized list should be
  available on our web site ( on
  Monday or Tuesday."


  From an American Numismatic Society press release:
  "Beginning November 20, 2002 the 1933 Double Eagle,
  The World's Most Valuable Coin, will be on view at the
  Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

  The only existing 1933 Double Eagle twenty dollar gold
  coin to be made legal tender will be on long-term loan
  beginning November 20, to the American Numismatic
  Society's Exhibit, "Drachmas, Doubloons and Dollars:
  The History of Money," at the Federal Reserve Bank
  of New York, 33 Liberty Street.

  The exhibition highlights the significance of money as political
  propaganda, artwork, and a reflection of social climate and
  economy.  In addition to the 1933 Double Eagle, four of the
  Society's most valuable coins are also on exhibit; the Brasher
  doubloon, the 1804 dollar, a Confederate States half-dollar
  and the famous ultra high relief 20-dollar gold piece designed
  by Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

  Exhibition hours are 10:00am to 4:00pm Monday through
  Friday. For further information call the ANS at

  [I'll be in New York tomorrow on business, but alas, this trip
  is only for a day, so I'll miss the '33 double eagle.  Perhaps
  our paths will cross another time.  -Editor]


  Alan Luedeking writes: "Sometime in the near future, hopefully
  by the end of December, there will be published in Santiago
  four important new works on Chilean numismatics.  Three of
  these are by the great numismatist Carlos Jara, son of the late
  collector Dr. Carlos Jara. They are:

  1) "Chile's Coquimbo Mint: a Documented History", 130 pp.,
   on "couché" paper, bound in sewn (not glued) hardcovers,
   extensively illustrated (in black & white). This is a fleshed-out
   English translation of Carlos Jara's original groundbreaking
   article on the mint of Coquimbo in Spanish, with appendices
   of the original documents. This one I have personally studied,
   and I can assure all that it is a fascinating work which is worth
   every bit of the time it took to research.  Yes, there were
   Coquimbo minors!!

  2) "Las Emisiones Provinciales de Valdivia: 1822-1844", 230
    pp., likewise hardbound and very extensively illustrated. This
   will detail the various emissions of the provincial coins and
   "vales" (heretofore unknown except for the last emission) of
   Vadivia and explains the meaning and significance of the
   famous but misunderstood APDEVA counterstamp. How to
   distinguish genuine from fake examples is also covered.  This
   work will so far only be available in Spanish.

  3) "Las Primeras Acuñaciones de la Casa de Moneda de
   Santiago: 1749-1772", 100 pages, in English and Spanish,
   likewise hardbound.  This work is of inestimable value: for
   the first time a complete and true picture of the early coinage
   of Santiago emerges, revealing the mintage figures for the
   silver pillars & waves issues as well as the gold coinage.
   Documentary evidence and historical background is provided.
   This work expands on the paper Mr. Jara presented at the
   first international Central American numismatic congress held
   in San José, Costa Rica in September of this year.  (He also
   presented there an excellent paper exposing the recent
   counterfeits of the 1894 Guatemala half real counterstamp
   on Chilean host coins.)

  4) Exact title unknown.  This work, by noted collector Alvaro
   Orellana, will be the most comprehensive catalogue of the
   nitrate mine and other tokens of Chile ever published (over
   400 pp.), greatly expanding the body of known pieces since
   the publication of the work by Espinoza. This will also be in
   English and Spanish

  What makes these works so special, in my opinion, is the
  great depth of research, attention to detail and historical fact
  that went into their creation.  Mr. Jara has carefully examined
  countless original documents and contemporary
  correspondence archived in the Sala Medina of the national
  library of Chile and in the mint of Santiago.  Much of the
  information here is new and provides greater understanding
  not only of the coins themselves, but of the entire historical
  context. Several unintentional errors originally committed
  by Medina are corrected.

  Having personally met Mr. Jara and studied his earlier
  works on counterstamps on Chilean gold coins and the
  controversial cast issues of Chiloé, I can attest to his
  unwavering commitment to historical accuracy.  In the
  process, I have come to respect him as one of the great
  Latin American numismatists, right up there with Fosalba,
  Medina, Prober, Mitchell, Burzio and a few others. What
  is astounding is the fact that he is still only in his twenties!
  Whoever wishes to contact Mr. Jara is welcome to do so
  at  clejara at"


  Ed Krivoniak found an interesting article on the FBI's
  web site, about the famous spy case involving a hollow
  nickel.  Here are a few excerpts.  Follow the link for the
  complete article.

  "After he collected for the newspaper, Jimmy left the
  apartment house jingling several coins in his left hand.
  One of the coins seemed to have a peculiar ring. The
  newsboy rested this coin, a nickel, on the middle finger
  of his hand. It felt lighter than an ordinary nickel.

  He dropped this coin to the floor. It fell apart! Inside
  was a tiny photograph -- apparently a picture of a series
  of numbers.

  Two days later (Wednesday, June 24, 1953) during a
  discussion of another  investigation, a detective of the New
  York City Police Department told a Federal Bureau of
  Investigation (FBI) Agent about the strange hollow nickel
  which, he had heard, was discovered by a Brooklyn youth.
  The detective had received his information from another
  police officer whose daughter was acquainted with the

  When the New York detective contacted him, Jimmy
  handed over the hollow nickel and the photograph it
  contained. The detective, in turn, gave the coin to the FBI.

  In examining the nickel, Agents of the FBI's New York
  Office noted that the microphotograph appeared to portray
  nothing more then ten columns of typewritten numbers.
  There was five digits in each number and 21 numbers in most
  columns. The Agents immediately suspected that they had
  found a coded espionage message. They carefully wrapped
  the nickel and microphotograph for shipment to the FBI

  Upon its receipt in Washington on June 26, 1953, the nickel
  was subjected to the thorough scrutiny of a team of FBI
  scientific experts. Hollow coins, though rarely seen by the
  ordinary citizen, are occasionally used in magic acts and
  come to the attention of Federal law enforcement agencies
  from time to time. This was the first time, however, that the
  FBI had ever encountered a nickel quite like this one.

  The face of the coin was a 1948 Jefferson nickel. In the "R"
  of the word "TRUST", there was a tiny hole -- obviously
  drilled there so that a fine needle or other small instrument
  could be inserted to force the nickel open.

  The reverse side had been made from another nickel --
  one minted sometime during the period of 1942 to 1945.
  It was composed of copper-silver alloy, there being a
  shortage of nickel during World War II."

  "An investigation which had started with a newsboy's hollow
  nickel ultimately resulted in the smashing of a Soviet spy ring.
  On February 10, 1962, Rudolf Ivanovich Abel was
  exchanged for the American U-2 pilot, Francis Gary Powers,
  who was a prisoner of the Soviet Union."


  In response to Gregg Silvis' question about a consignor to
  the May 7-8, 1929 Henry Chapman sale, George Kolbe
  writes:  "According to Martin Gengerke's "American
  Numismatic Auctions" a Dr. Wallace Bardeen was a
  consignor to the July 25, 1922 Chapman sale.


  Rusty Goe of Southgate Coins in Reno, NV writes:
  "Does anyone have a copy of the Coin World Almanac
  All Time Auction Prices Realized, 1980 and 1990
  editions?  If so, I would appreciate having some pages
  faxed to me at (775) 826-9684.

  The research is for a book I am writing about the coins
  of the Carson City Mint.   It will be titled, "An Enthusiast's
  Guide To A Complete Set Of Coins From The Carson
  City Mint".

  One of the chapters will provide data that shows how many
  of the scarcer CC coins are included in lists of record auction
  prices realized.

  The Coin World Almanac has featured a table with the
  RECORD PRICES REALIZED in each of its past editions.
  I have a copy of the year 2000 ed., but my previous editions
  of the Almanac have been lost.   I will eventually purchase
  the past editions.  I was just hoping that it might be quick and
  easy if a subscriber had the past editions and could photocopy
  the prices for me.  (I am at that point of the book, so it's
  currently relevant to the project.)

  I have a complete set of the Krause Auction Prices Realized,
  and have used them extensively in the research for the book.
  The Coin World Almanacs present already prepared concise
  compilations of the prices.

  If there were other concise lists providing the same
  information, I would use them too.  The goal is to show how
  prices for CC coins have risen during the past 40 years,
  allowing some of them to be included in these "Top 50"
  or "Top 100" lists.

  Of course, with the 1933 $20 Saint recently selling
  for $7.59 million, and the 1804 Silver $1 selling for
  $4.1 million, the bar for coin prices has been substantially
  raised.  The record for a Carson City coin is $637,000
  (1873 N/A Dime), which falls far short of those seven
  figure prices. However, beginning in 1975, with the sale of
  the James Stack collection, Carson City coins were well
  represented.  The 1873-CC N/A Quarter sold for
  $80,000, by far, the most expensive coin in the sale.

  Another chapter of the book provides a 70-year price
  history of each of the date/denomination combinations
  from the Carson Mint.  Beginning in 1932, the tables in
  the book provide prices for uncirculated specimens of
  CC coins if possible, otherwise, the highest circulated
  grade available.  I have pricing data available for all the
  silver coins during that period, and all of the gold coins,
  except for 1932.   I need the pricing information for CC
  gold coins from 1932.  There are 19 of each denomination
  of gold coin -- the $5, $10 & $20 Liberties.   If someone
  has this information, I would be grateful to reference it.

  Also, there's another subject.  If anyone has
  copies of documents that undeniably prove that the Mint
  Director at Philadelphia gave orders to the Mint
  Superintendent at Carson City to limit the mintage of dimes
  and quarters from 1870-1874.  And, related to that, any
  documents that prove that the Mint Director gave orders
  to the Superintendent at Carson City to withhold the
  distribution of these dimes and quarters from 1870-1874,
  and then ultimately to have these coins melted.   If what I
  have just described is true, it will once and for all account
  for the extreme rarity of these CC dimes and quarters.
  Breen and other numismatic authors have suggested that
  this is what happened.  But there have never been any
  documents provided to substantiate it.

  I have been using the "Annual Report From the Director of
  the Mint", for the years 1873 and following for part of my
  research.  There are certain years that I haven't had access
  to, specifically 1874, 1878, 1879, 1881 and 1893.  The
  ANA Library doesn't have them either.  If any subscriber
  has copies that I can either borrow or purchase, I would
  be grateful."

  Rusty's email address is: rusgate at


  Martin Purdy writes: "my edition of the Petit Robert (1979)
  lists "numismate" with a first recorded usage in 1823, and
  does not record "numismatiste" at all.  Hatzefeld and
  Darmstetter (1926) still lists both, but refers "numismatiste"
  to the main entry under "numismate".  H&D states that
  "numismate" was formed by analogy with "diplomate", which
  Robert records as early as 1792."

  George Kolbe writes: "The terms "numismate" and
  "numismatiste" are extensively discussed in Ernest Babelon's
  introduction of the first volume of his famous "Traité" on
  ancient Greek coins. Kolbe & Spink are in the final phases of
  proofreading an English translation of this masterwork, which
  will become, we are convinced, indispensable to anyone
  seriously interested in numismatics and its literature."


  Gary Trudgen, editor of The Colonial Newsletter writes:
  "The December 2002 issue (CNL-121) of The Colonial
  Newsletter has been published.  It features an important
  paper by Dr. Brian Danforth on the St. Patrick coinage.
  For the first time, the questions concerning this coinage
  of who, when, where and why have been conclusively

  Next, an interesting report by David Gladfelter is presented
  on a recently discovered colonial paper money hoard.
  The notes in this hoard are primarily from the Colony of
  New Jersey and span an issue period of 24 years, 1757 to
  1781.   The report includes two appendices, one containing
  a partial list of the hoard and the other illustrating one of the

  Finally, this issue includes a Technical Note by Byron K.
  Weston concerning counterfeit halfpence whose dies were
  corrected when the counterfeiters realized the Royal Mint had
  not continued the production of regal halfpence into the year
  1776.  Several date area enlargements are provided of
  1775-dated halfpence where the last digit of the date clearly
  shows remnants of a 6 under the 5.

  The Colonial Newsletter (CNL) is published three times a
  year by The American Numismatic Society (ANS).  For
  inquiries concerning CNL, please contact Juliette Pelletier at
  ANS, Broadway at 155th St., New York, NY 10032 or
  e-mail at pelletier at   Also, visit the CNL web
  page at"


  There was a typo in the last E-Sylum, in the piece about
  Military "coins" --  the article and  letter were both printed
  in 2001.


  Dick Johnson writes: "The Supreme Court listened to
  arguments last month for and against the Sonny Bono Copyright
  Term Extension Act.   Currently a book copyright is for the life
  of the author plus fifty years.  The proposed extension would
  add 20 years to this making a typical copyright good for 70
  years after the author dies.  That is the law in Europe and some
  are trying to make American law the same.

  If your grandfather wrote a numismatic book sixty years ago
  and it continues to sell, should you still receive royalties?  At
  what point should a book pass into public domain?

  Darn few numismatic books remain popular and continue to
  sell past the first decade or so.  Forrer's "Biographical
  Dictionary of Medalists" comes to mind as the most dramatic
  exception. Originally published serially (in Spink's Numismatic
  Circular), then reprinted in book form beginning in 1902 --
  this year marks a century milestone for Leonard's handiwork
  in book form!

  Leonard kept compiling and Spink kept printing until 1930
  when the eighth volume appeared.  The set has been reprinted
  twice thereafter. And still continues to sell.

  Sure, we all buy out-of-print books.  But who can match
  Forrer's literary longevity with new sets selling steadily year
  in and year out now for a hundred years!  If you wrote a
  numismatic book that so thoroughly covers the subject that
  no one can improve on it for seventy years, should your
  children, grandchildren, great grandchildren receive the
  payments for your literary endeavor?

  I remember my college business law professor waving his
  arms saying "the hand of the dead should not control the
  lives of the living," but he wasn't talking about cashing the
  old man's royalty checks. I'm satisfied with fifty years
  royalties for my progeny (however many there may be
  fifty years from now).

  I chose to emulate Leonard Forrer. I chose to compile
  a directory of all American coins and medals by their
  creators -- the artists, diesinkers, engravers, medalists
  and sculptors who created them. (Forrer wrote 5,227
  pages;  I have half that ready to publish, for America

  Just buy my book while I'm still alive. Let someone else
  replace it fifty years after I'm gone. Meanwhile let Sonny
  Bono and Elvis Presley's heirs fight for their last protected

  If you want to read "Time To End The Copyright Race
  by Lawrence Lessig click on this link, then click on the
  article title:"


  We hit a nerve with our discussion on book
  inscriptions - opinions are all over the map:

  Ralf W. Böpple of Stuttgart, Germany writes: "I regard a
  decent bookplate or an author's inscription as an integral
  part of any specialized work, e.g., on a numismatic topic.
  This is not the defacing of a book, there surely is a
  difference between inscribing a book and converting the
  pictures of the Presidents in the history book into Looney
  Tunes characters!

  I do not use a bookplate (yet), but I ask for an autograph
  any time I buy a book or even a small pamphlet directly
  from the author. I would even go so far as to say that
  autographs or book plates do not keep a book from the
  possibility of being 'mint state'. Of course, for a book with
  inscription being in mint condition, this would mean that the
  owner actually never even read it..."

  Dave Lange writes: "When I first realized that I had enough
  books to start thinking of them as a library, I ordered a blind
  stamping tool with my name and initials.  My attempts to use
  this gadget produced often unsatisfying results:  Thick paper
  didn't displace well enough for the impression to be readable,
  while the cheaper newsprint resulted in what looked like a
  cut-cancellation on old bank notes. With some practice I
  became skilled enough to get the desired depth of impression,
  but I began to wonder what others would think of my
  actions when the time came to dispose of my library.

  After a couple years of blind stamping I switched to using
  a bookplate. I gave some thought to having one prepared
  that was unique, but the availability of a pre-printed, adhesive
  backed design that appealed to me soon retired that thought.
  I've been using this same design ever since, but I may have to
  abandon it soon. It seems that the publisher has stopped
  having these labels intaglio printed, and the new issue of that
  same design appears to be a rather crude lithograph.  It's
  much darker and has suffered a loss of detail.

  As for writing in books, I too used to think that this was
  sacrilege.  Things changed, however, when I entered
  numismatics as a career. I soon realized that the only way to
  keep up to date on everything was to maintain a scrapbook
  for magazine and newspaper articles of value and to mark
  up my reference books with my own notes and observations
  on coins. While most of my library remains in nice condition,
  my variety attribution books are filled with various quickfinder
  notes, as well as weights and other technical data on particular
  specimens. Since these books are likely to be updated and/or
  reprinted, I don't feel too bad about "ruining" my own copies."

  Denis Loring writes: "One collector's opinion:  I'd rather not
  see the BODY of a book defaced.  However, I think
  bookplates,  inscriptions, etc. are harmless at worst, and can
  be a welcome addition to a book.  They can give that
  particular copy context and make it unique among thousands
  of other copies.  If the inscription is from the author or a
  historically important figure in the book's domain, so much
  the better.  My copy of Penny Whimsy probably sits at the
  bottom of the condition spectrum, but is autographed by
  Sheldon and Paschal and has a full-page handwritten
  inscription by Breen.  I wouldn't trade it for the most  pristine
  copy around, even with a dust jacket."

  Another perspective comes from Robert Christie: "Personally I
  don't give a hoot about who the previous owner was no matter
  how well known they may be.  Autographs don't interest me.
  What I do think is cool is to own a book some previous owner
  has scribbled their own thoughts in.  Such a book adds
  personality to it.  It's been thoroughly used and enjoyed.

  I own "American Half Cents - The Little Half Sisters" by Roger
  S. Cohen Jr., which purchased at a Kolbe auction some years
  ago.  I don't know the names of any of the previous owners,
  but obviously that one of them had a fascination and enjoyment
  of the series because it has many notes in blue and red ink
  concerning rarity, pedigree and so forth.  Of course it would be
  nice to own this book in mint condition also."

  Martin Purdy writes: "I used to write or stamp my name in all
  of my books, or affix an adhesive bookplate, together with
  the date and place of purchase.  I've lost the habit, mainly
  because I've been acquiring books at a faster pace than I can
  keep up with, but I do find when I pull an earlier acquisition
  off the shelf and see where I was when I bought it, or when
  it was bought, it adds to my appreciation of the book, or
  makes me think, "goodness, have I had it that long and still
  not read it?"

  I enjoy the bookplates of earlier owners, or their signatures
  and dates, regardless of whether they were well known or
  not - you can see where your book has been, how far it's
  traveled, etc.  I would think twice about writing in the body
  text of a book (except, perhaps, to mark some egregious
  error!), but inside the cover or on the flyleaf is another
  matter altogether.

  My 1815 edition of Lempriere's Classical Dictionary has
  an Indian ink signature of "John W Marshall, 65th Regt.",
  a printed bookplate, presumably of the same owner, a
  rubber stamp and handwritten label of other members of
  the Marshall family, and one other signature.  I'm rather
  reluctant to add mine after what seems such a long interval
  since the last entry, so there is no evidence of my
  ownership yet!"


  The following message can to me thought my web site,
  and I'm sure it's a familiar query to the coin dealers among
  us:  "Can you tell me anything about a  1840 Bank of the
  United States note for one million in gold?"   My answer:
  If the serial number is 711, it's a fake - no such thing ever
  existed, but there are fantasy replicas that have been
  made over the years and sold as souvenirs.

  Coincidentally, Michael Orzano's "Beginner's Workshop"
  article in the November 18, 2002 issue of Coin World
  address the very issue of the replica and fantasy notes
  that blanket the land.  The article is a useful desk reference
  to for those who regularly field such queries.  A very similar
  article by Orzano was published previously in the November
  22, 1999 issue.


  So much for "last words".   The museum/collector
  discussion continues, this time with several jabs at
  curators who misappropriate artifacts (or allow
  misappropriation to happen through indifference or
  incompetence).   Present company excepted, naturally.
  While the instances cited are unfortunate, I believe
  they are intended as examples of what can happen,
  and certainly do not apply to all museums.

  Ed Krivoniak writes: "It's about time that someone spoke
  out against museums and archaeologists.  I have very little
  respect left for either.  It has become a practice over the last
  few years for museums, libraries and historical societies to
  sell off their coin collections to pay for other acquisitions. The
  Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh is a case in point.  Not only
  did they sell the collection but they did it poorly. Look back
  through your auction catalogs to find many other culprits.

  As far as the archeologists are concerned, I know of 2
  accumulations that have been sold in Pittsburgh in the last
  10 years where the items came from archaeologists. The first
  was a collection of Egyptian relics including a mummified
  cat and the second was a collection of late medieval to early
  modern Islamic coins. One group came from a retiring
  archaeologist and the other from the estate of an

  Personally I once sold a book about General Sherman's march
  written by his aide decamp. Where did I find it?  In the garbage
  in front of the Monessen Public Library!

  At least the relic or coin hunter is honest in trying to locate
  these items for a profit and not like the museums and
  archaeologists who betray the public's trust."

  [Although Ed's implication is that the items in the
   archaeologists' collections were misappropriated property,
   there is of course no way to know that.  The items could
   have been acquired quite legitimately.

  As for the Carnegie coin sales, I can attest to how poorly
  the sales were handled.   The encased postage stamps,
  which may have come from the collection of local collector
  Earl Coatsworth, were auctioned in London.  It's hard
  enough to find collectors of these rare items here in the
  states, but retail bidders were nonexistent in London.
  Through a dealer who attended the sale, I purchased a
  rare Ellis McAlpin 5 cent for a mere 95 dollars. It's an R9
  worth in excess of $1,000.   I assume my dealer friend
  bought most or all of the rest of the encased pieces at
  similar bargain prices.   The museum is currently in
  financial straits and had to lay off three curators. -Editor]

  Dave Bowers writes: "Concerning public museums with
  coins, it has been my very long term experience and
  observation that if a museum has a NUMISMATICALLY
  KNOWLEDGEABLE curator who is also honest (which
  is usually the case), all is well, and the collection can flourish
  and be an asset to the public as well as to numismatists.

  However, if there is an interregnum in which there is not a
  then there may be a problem, as things tend to "walk."

  A number of years ago our company received a nice letter
  from a state university, enclosing an inventory of its coin
  collection compiled years earlier. On the list were many rare
  and important pieces. The collection was long sealed in a vault
  and had not been inspected in recent times.  A representative
  of my company hopped on a plane, met with the university
  official in charge, and together they went to the vault for an
  inspection. When the vault was opened there was JUST
  ONE COIN remaining, a 1922 Peace silver dollar!

  I could relate MANY more such stories.  In case it might be
  relevant, the same situation occurs with other "collectibles"
  that are kept by museums, if the curators are not
  knowledgeable in that particular area. I am interested in
  meteorites and a few years ago my wife and I donated a
  nice collection of these to Harvard University (their most
  important acquisition in this field since 1882), the minerals
  and meteorites being well curated by Dr. Carl Francis and
  Bill Metropolis, both prominent in their fields and both
  personal friends. They, too, have "stories" to share about
  minerals and meteorites ONCE (but no longer) in various
  museum collections without experts in this field--the meteorites
  and minerals "walked."

  Similarly, any member of the Manuscript Society (of which I
  have been a member since 1958) knows the many dozens of
  stories about autographs, signatures, etc., once in public
  libraries and museums, but not carefully curated, that have
  "walked." Indeed, almost every issue of the Manuscript
  Society Newsletter has a new story in this regard.

  Recently I visited a prominent public library and found in
  file folders over $100,000 in historical obsolete currency.
  I paid for Xerox copies of each note (to record the serial
  numbers) and suggested to the curator that these, if
  discovered by someone with less than honest motives, might
  "walk."  He said he would make his own set of Xerox copies
  and put the originals in the library's vault.

  In summary, for a museum to have a successful numismatic
  holding of great importance, and to hold it, this should take

  The coins should be attributed, photographed (easy enough
  to do electronically these days), and an inventory should be
  made of them.

  There should be sensible precautions regarding those who
  have access to the specimens.

  The curator in charge should have basic numismatic knowledge,
  or take steps to secure same, or should enlist the services of
  an independent consultant or friend of the museum in this


  Here is an excerpt from a recent Wall Street Journal
  review of a new book relating to Matthew Boulton.
  We numismatists know of him as a coiner, but his
  interests and accomplishments were far broader than
  just that.

  "The phrase "lunar men" sounds other-worldly, but it is far
  from that. It refers to a group of 18th-century British savants
  in and around Birmingham, England, a provincial city that
  by 1765 had become a center for the investigation of nature.
  Meeting at one another's houses on the Monday nearest the
  full moon -- to have light to ride home by -- they developed,
  among other things, the new technologies that helped
  transform England from an agricultural nation to an industrial
  power. Jenny Uglow's "The Lunar Men" (Farrar, Straus and
  Giroux, 588 pages, $30) gives us a compelling account of
  these extraordinary polymaths and of the world in which they

  The friends whose curiosity "changed the world" were the
  potter Josiah Wedgwood, the physician-poet Erasmus
  Darwin, the metalware manufacturer Matthew Boulton,
  the Scottish inventor James Watt and the minister Joseph
  Priestley. Men of business and affairs, they were at the
  same time engrossed by science. They operated as a sort
  of industrial research group, discovering methods of
  manufacture and facing soon-to-be-familiar problems
  of patent infringement, free trade and labor unrest."


  Geoff Bell writes: "I was wondering if through our newsletter
  we might be able to help solve a problem.  The Canadian
  Numismatic Association Library had a flood two years ago
  and we have been unable to locate commentaries for two
  slide series purchased from the ANS several years ago. I
  have written them on several occasions but haven't received
  a response. The commentaries we lost were to the slide series
  entitled " Money in America" and "Coinage of the Americas".
  Can anybody out there get me a photocopy of these or know
  where we might locate them? As CNA Librarian, I would
  love to patch this hole in our slide program. If you can help,
  please e-mail me at:  gbel at"


  Monday was Veteran's Day, and I thought of my friend
  Julius "Jules" Reiver of Wilmington, DE.   I visited with
  Jules and his wife Iona on many an evening several years
  ago while traveling in Wilmington on business.   Jules is
  one of the finest numismatists in the country, and those
  evenings are among my most pleasurable hobby memories.

  So I gave him a call and spoke to both Jules and Iona
  for a while.  Those who don't know Jules well may not
  be aware of his WW II experiences.   As the commander
  of an anti-aircraft unit he trained British troops on
  the use of new American weapons, led his men onto
  Omaha Beach on D-Day, and his unit played a key role
  in turning the tide against the Germans in the Battle of the
  Bulge.  He was interviewed by war correspondent Ernie
  Pyle and after the war, the role of "Lieutenant Colonel
  Daniel Kiley", which was modeled after Reiver, was
  played by Henry Fonda in the 1965 film, "Battle of the
  Bulge."   The Hollywood version bore only a slight
  resemblance to reality, but 'That's Entertainment".

  According to Jules, real life being the mess it is, what really
  happened that day was a series of errors that would
  have turned the war movie into a comedy.  First, understand
  that when aimed horizontally, anti-aircraft guns make dandy
  anti-tank guns.  Dispatched to guard a key fuel depot,
  Reiver's unit came within yards of an advancing German
  tank unit.  One of his units' guns had become mired in the
  mud and they were using vehicles to pull it out.

  The roar of the enginess as they strained to pull the stuck
  vehicle apparently fooled the Germans (who weren't yet
  within sight)  into thinking there was a larger unit of
  Allied tanks awaiting  them.  So they turned away.  Had
  they advanced, Reiver's hamstrung unit could not have
  stopped them.  As it turned out, that one wrong turn was
  a key turning point in the battle, and thus a key turning
  point in the war for Europe.


  An article by Q. David Bowers titled "A Visit with B. Max
  has been published on the Bowers and Merena web site.
  Here are a couple excerpts.  Follow the link to view the
  complete article.

  "Unquestionably, B. Max Mehl, of Fort Worth, Texas, was
   America's most colorful dealer during the early part of the
   present century. Born in Lithuania in 1884, Mehl came to
   America at an early age. As a teenager he became a clerk
   in a shoe store, perhaps intending to make this his life's
   business. But an interest in numismatics intervened, as did
   a flair for advertising and public relations."

  "It wasn't long before Mehl was issuing his own monthly
   magazine, attending American Numismatic Association
   conventions with regularity, and conducting mail bid
   "auctions."  Many fine collections started coming his way,
   including the James Ten Eyck holdings in 1922, one of the
   finest American coin cabinets ever dispersed.

  "In 1931 Mehl announced that he had spent $18,500 for
  a single advertisement to sell his coin book, The Star Rare
  Coin Encyclopedia and Premium Catalogue, to readers of
  the American Weekly Sunday  magazine."


  Bob Fritsch writes: "Continuing the discussion of other terms
  for 'numismatist', I just ran across this little comment from the
  Swiss National Bank:  "The worthless 5- and 2-centime coins
  might possibly have collector's value.  Unlike numismaticians,
  antique shops or banks, the SNB does not deal in worthless

  [An item in the November 19, 2002 Numismatic News begins:
  "Self-proclaimed "artmatist" Tim Prusmack has compiled five
  of his Money Masterpieces into the Hi-Five Prestige Edition
  set..."   #Artmatist" is a new one on me, as was "numismatician".

  You've got to love The E-Sylum for expanding one's vocabulary.
  Where else but a dictionary or encyclopedia would you see
  these words or phrases in a single place?  -- microphotograph,
  interregnum, progeny, Sonny Bono, polymaths, doubloons,
  Looney Tunes, and mummified cat?


  This week's featured web site is recommended by Ed
  Krivoniak.  It is the story of Finnish currency from 1860
  to the Euro, from the Virtual Finland site.

  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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