The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 5, Number 49, December 8, 2002:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2002, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


  Among recent new subscribers is Sig. Franco Rapposelli,
  sponsored by Jose-Luis Rubio.   Welcome aboard!  One
  person dropped out.  We now have 508 subscribers.


  The November/December issue of Bowers & Merena's
  Rare Coin Review is the 150th number of the publication,
  launched in the late 1960's by Q. David Bowers.
  Congratulations on a fine and continuing run of a great
  publication.  Many interesting and well-researched
  numismatic articles have appeared within its covers over
  the years.

  This issue features Dave's article "Enjoying Numismatic
  Research: My Love Affair with History," which was
  based on his presentation to the Numismatic Bibliomania
  Society at our annual meeting at the Atlanta, GA
  convention of the American Numismatic Association in
  2001.  The article is a transcription of Dave's remarks
  edited by NBS President Pete Smith, with some updates
  by Dave.  Don't miss it!


  Also in the issue is one of those articles I no longer
  feel compelled to write, for someone has beaten me to
  it.  Leonard Augsberger writes about "The 1934 Baltimore
  Gold Hoard."   I have a copy of the May 1935 Perry
  Fuller sale catalog of the hoard discovered by two
  Baltimore teenagers on August 31st, 1934, and always
  wanted to learn more about the incident.  Augsberger
  has done a masterful job, unearthing court documents,
  newspaper articles, Thomas Elder correspondence and
  other sources, then neatly telling the story in nine pages.


  The same issue of Rare Coin Review notes that
  Dave's book, "A California Gold Rush History,"
  printed in an edition of about 5,000 copies earlier
  this year, is nearly sold out.  Only a few hundred
  copies remain.


  Jose-Luis Rubio writes: "I have the pleasure of reporting
  the fine catalogue, titled "IL GETTONE TELEFONICO
  ITALIANO" written by Franco and Vincenzo Rapposelli,
  125 pages plus Index, with excellent photography and line
  drawings. Edited by : Centro Programmazione Editoriale,
  Via Canaletto, 20/abcd 41030 San Prospero, MODENA
  ITALIA. FAX : 059 90 630 29

  This book will answer the questions about the use of the
  Italian Phone Tokens as coins.  I can recommend the book
  to anyone interested in this subject."


  Howard A. Daniel III (Howard at
  writes: "I am looking for the latest edition of the Schon or
  Shoen world coins catalogue with Viet Nam in it and a 20
  Viet gold coin catalogued as A4.  If you know a source of
  this reference, please send it to me their mailing and/or email
  address.  I will be glad to know of an overseas source but
  would prefer one in the U.S.  Thanks in advance for any


  Regarding the existence of the Castenholz coin chart we
  discussed a few issues ago, Alan Meghrig writes: "Somewhere
  I have a few copies rolled up.  It's about 2' x 3'.  I also cut one
  up to fit in a notebook.  It is basically a checklist of the various
  issues... or at least that's what I recall .....last time I saw the
  tube was 22 years ago... when I put it in a safe place."


  The popular press it starting to cover the next next change
  in U.S. paper money.  Jeannine Aversa of the Associated
  Press recently interviewed portrait engraver Thomas

  "Color is coming, and government money makers are hoping
  for a warmer reception for the changes.  The new $20, with
  its public unveiling set for the spring, is supposed to be in
  circulation as early as next fall.

  Jackson is first in line for a makeover. And after the new $20
  makes its debut, the new $50 (Ulysses Grant) and the $100
  Benjamin Franklin) will follow within 18 months."

  "Portrait engraver Thomas Hipschen is working on the current

  He remembers spending countless hours during the last
  makeover meticulously cutting into steel by hand the portraits
  of Jackson, Franklin and Grant for the new bills."

 "You worry about what the press is going to do," he said. "I
  have an old clipping file about all the horrible things they said
  about the portraits that I engraved.  Some fun things, too."

  "With the makeover, color tints will be added in the neutral
  areas of the note...  "

  "Money makers want the new notes to have an American look
  and feel, and not be confused with, for instance, the colorful
  euro, the paper currency of the European Union."


  To follow up on Larry Lee's discussion of the state of the
  Byron Reed collection, Bob Leonard writes: "In response, I
  would only state that a catalog of the pioneer fractional gold
  pieces in the Byron Reed Collection, if it still exists, will not
  be supplied by the Western Heritage Museum to numismatic
  researchers--so the data about them is less than if they had
  been sold at public auction.  Certainly no such catalog was
  ever published anywhere, and cannot be published now.

  Larry Lee advised me when I was frantically searching for
  this information that the Breen-Gillio catalog numbers are not
  noted in the Museum's copy of Breen-Gillio, nor written on
  the coin envelopes, nor anywhere else, apparently.  All that
  remains is a single, incomplete sheet lacking the essential
  Breen-Gillio numbers and corresponding weights.

  Actually I was advised to appeal to the city attorney, not the
  City Council, but any museum that requires an ordinance to
  be passed in order to find out what it has certainly proves
  my point.  As a nonresident of Omaha I did not expect that I
  would receive prompt action."


  David Klinger submitted a lengthy item taken from The Avalon
  Project at the Yale Law School.  It is a copy of a 1588 speech
  titled "A Discourse Upon Coins"  by Bernardo Davanzati,
  translated out of Italian by John Toland of London, and
  printed by J.D. for Awnsham and John Churchil, at the Black
  Swan in Pater-Noster-Row, 1696.

  The full text is on the web at this address:
  Here are some excerpts:

  "The first Money that the Antients wrought was Copper, and
  was by common Consent preferr'd to this high Office. So
  whatever superabounded to any Person, he gave it for as much
  Copper as was compar'd with, or judg'd equal to it; this
  Copper he afterwards gave for other things wanting to him, or
  otherwise he kept it by him in his Coffer, as a Security for the
  Supply of his future Necessities. And this was the Original of
  selling and buying...  Afterwards the greater Excellency of
  Gold and Silver did set them off, and occasion'd them to be
  made Money. They were at the beginning us'd in unwrought
  Pieces as they came to hand; but, as Additions are easily
  mde to Inventions, they were next weigh'd, then stamp'd,
  and so became Money."

  "When, where, and by whom Money was first coin'd is not
  agreed upon by Writers. Herodotus says in Lydia, others
  in Naxos, Strabo in AEgina; some in Lycia by King
  Erichthonius; Lucan says in Thessaly by King Ionus. I
  cannot learn that there was any Money in use before the
  Flood: but the Scriptures speak plainly of it afterwards.
  Abraham purchas'd a Field from Ephron the Hittite for four
  hundred Shekals of Silver, currant Money with the Merchant.
  Joseph was sold by his Brethren for twenty pieces of Silver.
  And Moses laid upon the Israelites by Poll hald a Sheckel,
  that is, four Drachms of Silver. Theseus, who reign'd in
  Attica abou the time of the Judges in Isreal, coin'd Silver-
  Money with the Stamp of an Ox upon it, to invite those to
  manure and till the Ground, who till then liv'd at random in
  the Woods. When Janus King of Latium receiv'd Saturn
  fled by Sea from his Son Jupiter, who drove him from his
  Throne, (that was in the so well govern'd, and so much
  celebrated Golden Age) Janus, I say, did in the Memory
  of this Favour coin Copper Money, which had stamp'd
  upon it the Prow of a Ship.  The first Money among the
  Romans was a piece of Copper, without any coining, or a
  Pound Weight, call'd by them AEs gravis..."


  A new book by Rab Hatfield titled "The Wealth of
  Michelangelo" mentions a hoard of coins owned by the
  legendary artist.  Estelle Shirbon of Reuters interviewed
  Hatfield in a December 3, 2002 article.

  "Michelangelo, who painted the ceiling of the Vatican's
  Sistine Chapel and designed the dome of St Peter's
  Basilica, passed himself off as poor but was actually too
  miserly to show his huge wealth, a U.S. art historian says."

  "He was a funny sort of man, somewhat paranoid and
  somewhat dishonest, who didn't want it to be known he
  was fabulously rich," Rab Hatfield, a professor at the
   Florence branch of Syracuse University, told Reuters

  "Hatfield has unearthed two of Michelangelo's bank
  accounts and numerous deeds of purchase that show the
  prolific painter, sculptor and architect was worth about
  50,000 gold ducats when he died in 1564, more than
  many princes and dukes of his time."

  "It was an enormous, truly enormous amount of money,"
  said Hatfield..."

  "He liked to keep large amounts of money in a wooden box
  by his bed. When he died, 8,400 ducats were found in the
  box," Hatfield said.


  Inspired by my recent mention of Delaware numismatist Jules
  Reiver, Henry Bergos writes: "When he got his men on the bluff
  over Omaha beach a general came and told him to bivouac his
  men on a nearby field.  He thought a moment and told one of his
  officers to use another field.  His men complained about the
  cattle in that field -- and what cattle usually leave as souvenirs.
  He told the men to clean it up and use that field.

  The next day the general returned and blew a gasket. Jules told
  him that the Frenchman who owned the animals was probably
  there when the Germans were and thus knew where the land
  mines were.  As the cattle were important to the farmer he
  wouldn't put his animals where there were mines.

  The general yelled at him, but later sent word down the line to
  always use the fields that the animals were in.

  I have also enjoyed spending time listening to this fantastic


  Dave Bowers and others have warned of the dangers of
  over-reliance on newfangled media as a way to preserve
  information for the future.   An article from the BBC News
  provides a fine example of why we're seeking to create
  a hardcopy version of the electronic E-Sylum.  Here's
  how the December 2, 2002 NewsScan Daily summarized
  the article, along with a link to the full text:

  "The BBC's computer-based, multimedia version of the
  famed Domesday Book has received a new lease on life,
  thanks to scientists at Leeds University and the University of
  Michigan, who have found a way to access the archive stored
  on 1980s-era interactive video discs. To unlock the
  now-obsolete technology, the Camileon project teams have
  developed software that emulates the Acorn Microcomputer
  system and the video disc player.

  "BBC Domesday has become a classic example of the
  dangers facing our digital heritage," says project manager
  Paul Wheatley. "But it must be remembered that time is of
  the essence. We must invest wisely in developing an
  infrastructure to preserve our digital records before it is too
  late. We must not make the mistake of thinking that recording
  on a long-lived medium gives us meaningful preservation."

  The information on the Domesday discs has been
  inaccessible for 16 years. By contrast, the original
  Domesday Book, an inventory of England compiled in
  1086 by Norman monks, is in fine condition in a London
  Public Record Office."


  Doug Andrews writes: "Last weekend, NBS member
  Paul Petch of Toronto sent me a copy of my article
  "Seven Steps to Protect Your Library Investment" that
  appeared in the fall issue of 'The Asylum.'

  If, by chance, any NBS members wish to contact me on
  this topic, my email address is storms at
  I will be applying for NBS membership in 2003!"


  The November 29, 2002 print edition of the Boston
  Business Journal has an article by by Matt Kelly about
  how the internet has changed the rules of the game for
  dealers in collectibles.

  "Collectors who once spent countless hours tracking down
  rare books and art are finding gems just a mouse click away

  The Internet is a mixed bag for dealers. They do have that
  same new access to a virtually endless supply of buyers and
  sellers across the globe, but because the web has raised a
  generation of well-informed buyers, prices for many items
  have fallen.

  "It has affected us both well and badly," said Forrest Proper,
  co-owner of Joslin Hall Books in Concord, who has about
  2,000 titles in current inventory.

  Proper said he now routinely does business with dealers in
  Europe and Australia, an impossible idea 10 years ago. At
  the same time, he says, has seen profit margins on his
  midrange books - those priced anywhere from $25 to $200
  - fall significantly.

  On the brighter side, Proper now stumbles across gems he
  otherwise might never have found.  He recently acquired a
   200-year-old French book about spontaneous human
  combustion - "there's not a whole lot on that subject," he
  notes - from a dealer in Switzerland. Proper now hopes to
  sell the book for $750. Were it not for the Internet, he never
  would have found the book unless the dealer had listed it in
  a catalog or he had paid a visit to Switzerland.

  [So if you think it's too hard to add numismatic books to
  your library, just be glad you aren't collecting literature on
  spontaneous human combustion. Hmmm, I wonder what
  the insurance premiums are like...  -Editor]


  Asylum Editor Tom Fort found an article on Salon
  about "sticker shock" over new book prices.  I know
  I have to blanche sometimes at the cost of new
  numismatic books these days.  Maybe I'm just getting
  old.  People who used to buy a Coke for a quarter don't
  much feel like paying $1.95 for the same thing today.
  Here are a couple excerpts - follow the link for the
  full article.

  "During his 10 years in the retail book business-- at B.
  Dalton and also at independent stores and selling college
  textbooks -- he's seen the same reaction time and again.
  "No matter what the prices are, they say it's too expensive,"
  he says. "The first thing they ask about is price, and the
  reactions range from a grunt to an outright whine."

  It's unlikely that Ritenbaugh will be hearing happier noises
  anytime soon: Book buyers now must shell out $20, $30
  or even $40 or more for hardcovers that decades ago
  used to cost less than $10. And the sticker shock is
  causing many customers not to buy as many books."

  "Why do books cost so much? Consumers are often
  baffled at the price tag attached to what appears to be little
  more than a mass of paper, cardboard and ink. A whole
  host of factors, including the size of the book, the quality of
  paper, the quantity of books printed, whether it contains
  illustrations, what sort of deal the publisher can make with
  the printer and the cost of warehouse space, all affect the
  production costs of a book.  But, roughly speaking, only
  about 20 percent of a publisher's budget for each book
  pays for paper, printing and binding, the trinity that
  determines the physical cost."


  This week's featured web page is suggested by
  Alan Meghrig.  "About the United States Mint" is on
  the mint's official web site.  On this page are links to
  the mint's annual reports for 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001

  Alan adds: "Does anyone have a 1987 Annual Report... they
  won't mind parting with?"  Alan's address is
  alanmeghrig at

  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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