The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 5, Number 47, November 24, 2002:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2002, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


  Recent subscribers include Roger Siboni, courtesy of
  John Adams, and NBS member Tom Turissini. Welcome
  aboard!   We now have 506 subscribers.


  Today is the anniversary of hijacker D.B. Cooper's 1971
  parachute jump into oblivion.  The banknotes comprising
  his $200,000 ransom take have never been reported found.
  The topic was discussed last year in The E-Sylum (volume 4,
  nos. 48 & 49).  Today is also the 40th anniversary of Jack
  Ruby's gunning down of President Kennedy's accused
  assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.    No numismatic connection
  there, unless you count the hasty legislation replacing the
  Franklin half dollar with the Kennedy half.


  Picking up where we left off last week, George Kolbe writes:
  "A "mint" copy of Frank Andrew's classic 1883 work on large
  cents brought $715 on a $450 estimate. Haxby's four volume
  work on obsolete bank notes went for $605.

  Some results achieved on works on ancient, medieval and
  modern coins and medals follow: Banti & Simonetti's 18
  volume work on Roman Imperial coins sold for $605; the
  1975 reprint of the Weber collection of ancient Greek coins
  brought $495 on a $325 estimate; a complete set of Burnett's
  "Roman Provincial Coinage" received several strong bids and
  realized $$797; the reprint of Mionnet's 19th century classic
  multi-volume work on ancient coins exceeded its $750
  estimate, bringing $1017; a photographic archive compiled by
  Ray Byrne on West Indies and other coins sold for $935; two
  leather-bound Mexican numismatic periodicals, the "Boletin"
  and "Monedas," brought over double the pre-sale estimates,
  $825 and $ 550 respectively; an original set of Svoronos'
  work on Ptolemaic coins realized $1265; a rare 1897 work
  on Russian numismatics, estimated to bring $350, was avidly
  pursued by bidders in both America and in Russia, finally
  selling for $1210.

  A few copies of the sale catalogue are still available and
  may be obtained, along with a prices realized list, by sending
  $15.00 to Kolbe (for a short  period, it may also be viewed
  at the firm's web site: The firm's next sale
  is scheduled for February 20, 2003 and important
  consignments are currently being accepted. The firm may
  be contacted at P.O. Drawer 3100, Crestline, CA 92325;
  by telephone at 909-338-6527; or by email at
  GFK at"


  As promised earlier by Paper Money editor Fred Reed,
  George B. Tremmel's article on "The Raphael P. Thian
  Confederate Currency Collection" has been published in the
  November/December issue of Paper Money, the official
  publication of the Society of Paper Money Collectors, Inc.
  The article provides background information on Thian,
  his books, and collections of Confederate currency, gleaned
  from the 490 boxes and barrels of captured Confederate
  documents shipped to Washington D.C. in 1865.


  Kerry K. Wetterstrom, Editor/Publisher of The Celator
  writes: "In the spirit of "better late than never", I am finally
  sending the results of my informal and not so scientific
  poll of E-Sylum readers of whether the name of "The
  Numismatist" should be modified by dropping the word
  "The".  I received 15 responses to my question, 13 of which
  agreed with me that there should not be any change. The
  other two responses were of the "wait and see" variety.

  I was hoping for a larger "voter" turnout, but perhaps
  mid-term apathy is an excuse or maybe the balance of
  E-Sylum subscribers are not bothered by the name change
  or simply don't care!

  Joe Boling and Ben Keele both commented that there
  could be problems with bibliographic  references and
  how libraries treat the publication (especially the Library
  of Congress) and . Joe also commented that "It seems to
  me that, even if the name on the cover drops the definite
  article, the formal name of the journal should not change."
  I would agree with Joe."

  [I tend to agree as well.  I was initially in the "no opinion"
  camp, but it would be a shame if libraries end up cataloging
  the pre-2003 issues separately from the 2003 and later
  issues.   The format has changed a number of times over
  the past century or so, but it always remained the same
  publication (and will continue to be the same publication
  after the changeover).  -Editor]


  Dick Johnson writes: "The keeper of Queen Elizabeth's Royal
  Philatelic Collection let slip (on purpose?) that her royal stamp
  collection will be sent to Washington DC in 2004 for exhibition
  at the Old Post Office near D.C.'s Union Station.

  Any royal numismatic collection you would like to see visit
  the U.S.?"


  Now there's a headline you don't see in The E-Sylum very
  often.   Hopefully, your spam detection software didn't toss
  this issue in the garbage bin.

  From an American Numismatic Society press release
  regarding a lecture by Edward Cohen on Monday,
  December 9th at 6pm, 513 Fayerweather Hall
  Columbia University, New York:

  "Edward E. Cohen will present a talk entitled "Money and
  Sex: Ancient Athenian Banking Scandals."

  Co-sponsored by the American Numismatic Society and
  the Center for the Ancient Mediterranean at Columbia

  Cohen, who received a Ph.D. in Classics from Princeton
  University and currently serves as the CEO of Resource
  America, Inc., is the author of several books on ancient
  economic and social matters including The Athenian Nation,
  Athenian Economy and Society: A Banking Perspective,
  and Ancient Athenian Maritime Courts.

  For further information, please contact Peter van Alfen
  at the American Numismatic Society 212-234-3130,
  x216; e-mail: vanalfen at


   Tom Turissini writes: "I collect 1794 large cents by die
   variety and also am trying to duplicate the 12 piece pattern
  one cent sets sold by the mint. With regard to literature, I
  collect plated Chapman sales, plated Elders, and just about
  anything relating to early American Copper."


  Dick Johnson writes: "Are numismatic book collectors as
  fanatic as first edition collectors?  Perhaps so.  Sure, I have
  books in my library that are objects of veneration. But the
  more sophisticated I become in building my library, the
  more I want books for their CONTENT.  I have said
  before I consume books.  I read and re-read. I make notes
  in the margins. I talk back to the author. I dogear pages
  (not intentionally, of course). And bindings are vulnerable.
  I long ago lost the spine on my Julian U.S. Mint book. It
  is held together only by the head and foot bands (and my
  prayers), I believe.

  Anyway, E-Sylum readers might enjoy reading the essay by
  a kindred spirit (David Lovibond) who collects fiction in first

  "Like all junkies, my most important relationship is with my
  dealer. He must be cajoled and wheedled to remember me
  first, I must pay any price he asks and be grateful for the
  chance, and in no circumstances can there be the faintest
  whisper of complaint about the quality of the supply.

  To be sure, bibliomania is not a comfortable addiction. To
  feed my craving for modern first editions, including my
  beloved Williams and Jenningses, takes a fifth of my income
  ? more than I spend on food or my children.  I have lost
  entire weekends in a haze of book fairs and pilgrimages to
  remote bookshops (which typically prove to be closed).
  Friends and family have felt obliged to shun me lest I drag
  them down with my sordid behaviour; my burblings of
  cracked hinges, crushed spines and discoloured front-end
  papers. I am abandoned to the company of quiet men in

  "Harrington, who has a first in fine condition of J.K. Rowling's
  Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone for sale at £25,000,
  insists that books should not be thought of as 'investment
  vehicles', but dealers acknowledge that serious collectors will
  have an eye to the asset value of their books. In the case of
  modern firsts, condition is everything.  Books and their
  wrappers are graded from 'good', which in fact means bad,
  to 'mint', which is as new.  The aim should be to buy the best
  possible copy; eventual resale will depend on the original
  non-restored condition. Harrington, for example, who is an
  Ian Fleming expert, offered a restored copy of Casino Royale
  at £5,000 but wanted £20,000 for a fine unrestored version.

  The condition of the book itself is, though, only half the story.
  'With modern firsts the value of a book in a dust wrapper is
  ten times that of one without,' says Nigel Williams, a London-
  based specialist in children's books, who recently sold a copy
  of the notoriously difficult to find William the Lawless for
  £2,000.  Mr. Williams says that now that collectors can check
  prices on the Internet, a book should cost no more on the
  Charing Cross Road than in the unlettered provinces."§ion=current&issue=2002-11-16&id=2467


  A related sentiment comes from the rear cover of the volume
  1, number 1 issue of our print journal, The Asylum (Summer,
  1980).  It is a quote from bibliophile Norman H. Strouse:

  "Look upon books frankly as a vice, but one which leaves
  respectable evidence of its pleasures to show for it.  It's
  cheaper than a mistress, and far more amenable to your mood
  and convenience.  And if you pursue book collecting properly,
  chances are that you can't afford a mistress, and that alone will
  save you a peck of trouble!"


  The economic situation in Argentina has led to a
  situation not unlike that of the U.S. during the Great
  Depression of the 1930s.  Municipal governments,
  strapped for cash amid falling tax revenues, have
  stooped to issuing bonds to pay their employees.
  These emergency notes are called "patacones",
  and sound very similar to what U.S. collectors call
  "Depression Scrip"

  From an article in the BBC News dated August 21,

  "From this week 150,000 people who work for the state
  of Buenos Aires won't get all of their salary paid in cash.

  Some of it will now be paid in one-year bonds, called
  "patacones", nicknamed after a long defunct currency.

  Already McDonalds in Buenos Aires is planning to accept
  the currency and is launching a special meal deal called the

  Cash machines at the provincial bank in Buenos Aires are
  being loaded up with $90bn worth of  the freshly minted
  Patacones bills, named after a currency which was last
  around 120 years ago.

  These will pay the wages of local state employees earning
  more than $740 a month.  This state, like many others, is in
  dire need of cash.

  It has been hit by falling tax receipts, customers have been
  withdrawing their savings from the banks, and credit is drying

  A web search found this photo of patacones:

  Can any of our E-Sylum readers provide more information
  on the use of patacones?  Are similar currencies appearing
  elsewhere?   Any what were the original patacones?


  George Kolbe writes: "I can't resist making a few observations
  on the book inscription responses.  I largely agree with Ralf
  Böpple's points, though a book, carefully read, might still
  properly be described as being in "mint state,"  it seems to me.
  Years ago, I disagreed with a "Letter to the Editor" in a coin
  publication which stated that a coin received in commerce
  could not be "uncirculated." Technically, that may be so, but
  in practice is a coin that displays no signs of wear not likely
  to be deemed "mint state"?   Ditto a book.

  In my opinion, circular blindstamps are an abomination. I
  like Bookplates (generally the smaller the better) but
  adhesive-backed bookplates often contaminate the paper to
  which they are attached (much like "scotch tape").  Ideally,
  bookplates are unique - I find ones with typed-in owner's
  names offputting but maybe I'm a snob.  Annotations are
  great if the writer knows his subject.  Ditto inscriptions
  (not "Happy Holidays from Aunt Bess" however estimable
  Aunt Bess might be).

  If you love your books and wish to identify them with an
  ex libris, I'd suggest that you spend a few bucks and
  commission your own bookplate.  I've done two over the
  years and will probably one day do another. There are lots
  of good bookplate designers out there - or do it yourself
  if you have an artistic eye."


  Bob Leonard writes: " I would make a couple of points:

  1.  Contra Larry Lee, it is unfortunately NOT true that "most
  objects in museums, including coins, are in fact very well
  organized, even if they may not be numismatically attributed."
  When researching small California gold for the second edition
  of Breen-Gillio, California Pioneer Fractional Gold (now
  being laid out by the publisher), I attempted to find out what
  small California gold pieces--by BG number and weight --
  were in the Byron Reed collection, "curated" by the Durham
  Western Heritage Museum in Omaha.  Despite repeated
  e-mails and calls, the curator positively refused even to
  reveal the SHAPE of the coins they had (with a single,
  useless, exception), preventing this important early source
  from being properly published.  Their excuse was that they
  knew nothing about them  (I of course offered to attribute
  them over the phone) and did not have a competent curator.
  Local collectors advised me to complain to the Omaha city
  council, but I gave up instead.   A second museum, the
  Sanford Museum and Planetarium of Cherokee, Iowa, had
  at one time some jewelry made of small California gold
  pieces that had been acquired in the mid-1870s.  When I
  asked for a description, it could not be located.

  The aggravating thing is, that if the Byron Reed collection
  had been sold at auction in its entirety, I would not have
  to guess the BG numbers of its small California gold.  I
  probably wouldn't know the weights, but then I don't have
  them now.  And the California gold jewelry in Cherokee,
  Iowa, has probably been stolen and robbed of its important
  early pedigree.

  2.  Which brings me to Dave Bowers' remarks about a
  state university collection that was looted except for a single
  coin.  When I attended (another?) state university, the
  University of Illinois, they had a fine collection of ancient coins
  on exhibit in Lincoln Hall, which later became the Museum of
  World Cultures.  Being interested in coins, I was given
  permission to examine some pieces not on display.  In an
  envelope supposedly containing a Roman gold coin, I found
  a Lincoln cent!

  In my opinion, coin collections should not be donated to
  anything but real numismatic museums, with professional
  numismatist curators, secure vaults, closed-circuit TV,
  sign-in sheets for visitors, etc., etc., such as the ANS,
  ANA, or British Museum.  Even the ANS has had thefts,
  but losses at institutions run by amateurs are just about
  guaranteed--and the material is less accessible to scholars
  than if it had been sold."


  A recent issue of NewsScan Daily included an interesting item
  about a remarkable engraver, Andrew Bell, who engraved
  banknotes of the Royal Bank of Scotland as well as the
  illustrations for the early editions of the Encyclopaedia

  "Creating the Encyclopædia Britannica was the joint idea of
  Bell and Macfarquhar, who drew their inspiration for the
  publication from the success of Diderot's Encyclopédie,
  which in turn had been inspired by the impressive
  Cyclopaedia brought out in 1728 by the London globe-maker
  Ephraim Chambers. Obtaining subscribers and seeing to the
  printing and other publishing details became the responsibility
  of Bell and Macfarquhar, while Smellie, an Edinburgh
  intellectual of proven scholarship, looked after the editing,
  writing and arrangement of articles."

  "Bell's business consisted of engraving letters, names, and
  crests on gentlemen's plate, dog's collars and so forth. He
  was never greatly admired as an engraver, and many of his
  plates for the first, second, and third editions of the Britannica
  are more highly regarded today than in his own time. How
  the arrangement between Bell and Macfarquhar to produce
  an encyclopaedia was made is not known; but it was Bell
  who engaged Smellie as compiler of the first edition, and his
  interest in the publication never flagged. He shared
  proprietorship with Macfarquhar, and in 1793, after
  Macfarquhar's death, he became sole proprietor."

  Does anyone have access to information on Andrews Bell's
  banknote engraving activities?

  To subscribe or unsubscribe to NewsScan Daily, send the
  appropriate subscribe or unsubscribe messages (i.e., with
  the word 'subscribe' or 'unsubscribe' in the subject line) to
  the addresses shown below:
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  From Arlyn Sieber's book on Krause Publishing, "Pioneer
  Publisher," comes this anecdote about early efforts of Cliff
  Mischler and Chet Krause to compile listings for the first
  Standard Catalog of World Coins:

  "Chet and Cliff gathered the listings they had accumulated
  so far and took inventory.  While Cliff concentrated on
  Numismatic News and Coins Magazine, Chet set out to
  fill in the gaps in the world-coin listings.  He started working
  the phones.  Who collects Belgian coins?  Who's an
  authority on Japan?  Who knows something about Middle
  East?  Among those his networking drummed up was Colin
  Bruce in upstate New York.  By day, Colin worked on
  rehabilitating heavy construction equipment.  By night and
  on weekends, he worked on his world-coin collection and
  dabbled as a dealer at local coin shows.

  He was also an expert on coins of India and agreed to
  review the listings for this fledgling Red Book of world

  "Send me everything you have so far," Colin told Cliff on
  the phone one day.

  Cliff responded by shipping a ream of blank paper."


  This week's featured web site is Jean Philippe Fontanille's
  Menorah Coin Project, online since November 15, 2002.
  "The MENORAH COIN PROJECT is a vast project
  consisting of a die by die indexing, classification and
  representation of Biblical coins. Each die is identified by a
  reference number beginning by an "R" for regular dies or a
  "V" for those presenting a variation to the norm.  The
  reference number used is the same as in David Hendin's
  Guide to Biblical Coins."

  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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