The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 5, Number 51, December 22, 2002:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2002, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among recent new subscribers is Randy Partin, courtesy
of Mark Lighterman. Welcome aboard! We now have
509 subscribers.


Dick Johnson writes: "Sorry, Alan Meghrig, a "buckled die"
and "die break" are not equivalent terms (re last week's
E-Sylum). Old-timers used the term buckled die, in modern
times we use the more correct term "sunken die," even
though "buckled" is a very apt description of the struck piece.

It is a situation where the die has deteriorated and this is
particularly evident in restrikes at a later time. The steel in
the center (usually in the center, but it can be in any part of
the striking surface) has receded due to sinking or
compacting. This is caused by any of three reasons:
(1) use of poor quality tool steel when the die was first made.
(2) improper heat treating, or
(3) overlong use in striking.

It is never known in advance when a die will sink, if it will
sink, or how severe the sinking will be. We do know it is
accelerated by intermittent periods of use over a long time.
The very best examples of sunken dies are in the medals in
the Papal Series. Some of these dies have been retained
and struck intermittently over hundreds of years. They
frequently exhibit the domed effect of sinking on pieces
struck years later.

We are indebted to Benjamin Huntsman (1704-1776) for
developing die steel and reducing the problem of sinking
dies. This English inventor and steel manufacturer invented
a method of making crucible steel (1756) for Matthew
Boulton to use for making dies for coins and medals.
Huntsman's firm supplied specialized steel for dies to mints
around the world for nearly 200 years (until 1950).

Early American medalmakers who did not import Huntsman's
die steel had to make their own. They did this by forging and
tempering (like tempering steel for swords). Companies like
Scovill in Waterbury, who used a lot of die steel, purchased
this from men who did this specialized forging, mostly in
Boston and the Connecticut valley.

Scovill required these men -- called DIE FORGERS -- to
sign their diestock so they could identify whose stock was
good and whose went bad (that is, sunk). I have observed
hundreds of Scovill dies; G. Grayson of Providence, and O.J.
Brown, were among the dozen or so die forgers who
supplied Scovill's die stock. These signatures appeared on
the sides of dies, of course, not in the image area (so they are
not obvious on struck pieces).

Most of these old 19th century dies, however, exhibit some
evidence of sinking (albeit small). The concept of sunken die,
of buckled die, is entirely separate from the concept of


Hadrien Rambach writes: "I bought an interesting item, one
week ago : [Louis JOBERT (1637-1719)], La Science des
médailles. Nouvelle édition avec des remarques historiques
& critiques [par Joseph BIMARD DE LA BASTIE (1703-
1742)], Paris (de Bure l'aïné) 1739, 2 volumes in-12. It is
the very best edition of this manual, the interesting book of
Jobert (1692) being completed by the numerous comments
of Bimard de la Bastie.

The copy I just found is bound in full contemporary calf, used
but sound and decorative. It has a manuscript ex-libris of L. H.
Bussenius (dated 1758), but I do know know who he is. But it
has also the printed 18th century ex-libris, on both volumes, of
Johann Christoph RASCHE (1733-1805). This numismatist is
well known for his Lexicon universae rei nummariae veterum et
praecipue Graecorum ac Romanorum (Leipzig, by Gleditsch,
1785-1805, 10 volumes). He also wrote Rarissima romanorum
a Iulio Caesare ad Heraclium Usque numismata quae ex omni
genere Metallorum (Nürnberg, by Hauff, in 1777, octavo),
Lexicon abruptionum quae in numismatibus romanorum
occurrunt (Nürnberg, by Hauff, in 1777, octavo), and Roms
vormalige Verfassung zu deutlicher Aufklärung alter Schrifsteller,
antiker Münzen, Gemmen, Inschriften und anderen römischer
Denkmale (Nürnberg, by Gabriel Nicolaus Raspe, in 1778, 2
volumes octavo). This important writer also published in 1778-
1779 his Kenntnis antiker Münzen nach den Grundsätzen des
Père L. Jobert und des Herrn de La Bastie (Nürnberg, by
George Peter Monath), a German adaptation of the book I
just bought!

It is widely annotated, without many interesting remarks, I fear.
But I had not still the time to look at it very seriously ? I only
wonder if other interesting copies of the Jobert do survive (it
has been translated in many other languages). Should one of
you, readers, know that, please email me!
hadrien2000 at"


Howard A. Daniel III writes: "I am searching for references
and/or articles about any pre-Spanish "money" or barter pieces.
The only major reference in my library is the one written by
Dr. Angelita LeGarda. Please email me if you know of other
references and/or articles. I would also like to know if Dr.
LeGarda is still living in the U.S. or if she has returned to the
Philippines. My email address is Howard at


Granvyl Hulse, Numismatics International Librarian,
writes: "Frankly, it is the difference between fiction and
non-fiction. The former relies almost solely on your ability
to do creative writing (my only attempt earned me a pink
slip), and the latter on your determination to undertake
detailed research. This is where we will always lose out.
I can recall, when working on my booklet on the modern
coins of Ethiopia, receiving a bill of $125.00 for some print
ready photographs from the Austrian mint. That was not
my only cost, and if I recall correctly I have made the grand
sum of $2.50 by selling one of the booklets myself.

The only time I have ever made a profit were from the
short "Numystery" articles I sold for $10.00 each to the
old "Whitman Numismatic Journal." For the rest of my works
it has been a lost cause. The costs of photographs alone are
staggering. I have just finished a book on the inns, hotels and
restaurants from 1800 that existed in the village I am living in.
Happily, I have a deal with the publishers to have them printed
in lots of 20, but ninety-eight cents profit on each sale will in
no way reimburse me for even the cost of the photographs.
Anyone writing non-fiction has to be completely dedicated to
his or her subject, independently well off, and a trifle mad."

[Well, I guess that's why we'll the BiblioMANIA Society.
We're all a bit off-kilter. Sometimes I figure that if I worked
the late shift at McDonald's instead of compiling the E-Sylum
in my free time, I'd at least have some lunch money for my
efforts. But numismatics and fellowship are good for the
soul, so who needs money? -Editor]

From Italy, Ferdinando Bassoli adds: "Please remind your
gentle correspondent and associate Howard A.Daniel III that
(as the old Horace said) "carmina non dant panem" (poetry
doesn't bring bread). I wish only to remember my happy
experience with my book on European numismatic literature
which was published in the USA last year by an editor whom
I don't name simply because he doesn't need my humble praise.
The book was published in a very elegant and accurate
translation at the price of about $50, a not indifferent sum.
I wish the editor a good success, but I had to contribute for
half of the translation expenses, with the only reward of some
complimentary copies. This notwithstanding I am glad to have
my work distributed and spread, and this is all which I expect
should I write again a book."


Regarding Dalton and Hamer, publisher Allan Davisson writes:
"I sent a note to dealers who handle the book a couple of
months ago advising them that the end of the stock is in sight
and that I would honor limited wholesale requests for multiple
copies at that time and that would be the end. I have kept
about 20 copies for us to sell ourselves. In our latest mailing,
the price is listed at $185. But I will honor the $150 plus $8
shipping for orders from E-Sylum readers until the end of
December. (Stacks' latest book list offers the book at $130
--a bargain all things considered....)

Printing the book was a very expensive proposition. I spent
five weeks in London doing research for the update section
as well as making some trips and spending substantial time
in the U.S. (Our business income was significantly reduced
for the year I worked on the project.)

When we printed, we used two separate original sets of
D&H, selecting the cleanest plates for the printer to copy.
This was still in the days when printers used film. The photos
were shot and stripped separately from the text to maximize
quality. (Some of the distinctions require magnification --
something one can do fairly well with this edition.). It was
an expensive process.

It has taken 12 years to sell just over 1000 copies. Another
printing is highly unlikely -- I have no plans to do it.
Presumably the plates are still available but, as Douglas
Saville at Spink could tell you, old plates are an "iffy"

A final shameless plug: Dalton and Hamer has always
seemed to me one of the great books of the 20th century
in the field of numismatics, even if one is not particularly
interested in the series--it chronicles both a major social
transition (the Industrial Revolution) and a major change
in minting technology."


There is a new book out about one of my favorite numismatic
neer-do-wells, Mark Hofmann. It was brought to my attention
in an article by Dick Duncan in the December 2002 (Vol 19,
No 3) issue of The Clarion, the official publication of the
Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists. The article, titled
"A Fantastic Forger" was based on a new book by Simon
Worrall, "The Poet and the Murderer: A True Story of Literary
Crime and the Art of Forgery". It was published in April 2002.

I am also grateful to Eric P. Newman, whose Numismatic
Theatre talk at an ANA convention several years ago first
introduced me to the exploits of Hofmann, who counterfeited
coins and paper money, in particular Mormon Notes.
Several items pictured in Alvin Rust's book ("Mormon and
Utah Coin and Currency", Salt Lake City, 1984) are
Hofmann forgeries. Mr. Rust gave a talk at a subsequent
ANA, describing how he had been taken in by Hofmann's
masterful work. He issued an addendum sheet listing the
known forgeries pictured in his book.

Coins were just a jumping-off point for Hofmann. He branched
out into forging documents of all kinds, and made a specialty
of "discovering" documents which tweaked officials of the
Mormon church. The new book centers around a copy of
an Emily Dickinson poem forged by Hofmann.

From the web site: "Even among master
forgers, Mark Hofmann possessed an unmatched audacity.
During his relatively brief career, he fabricated more than
1,000 historical documents, ranging from manuscript letters
of Daniel Boone and Mormon founder Joseph Smith to the
long-vanished 17th-century printed broadside "Oath of a
Freeman." He even penned an original poem supposedly by
Emily Dickinson, although he himself was only a mediocre
writer. Hypnotized by his own brazenness and by the ease
of his success, Hofmann created Ponzi schemes for financial

Finally, caught between anxious creditors and bank deadlines,
he scrambled for extreme solutions. Finally, he turned to
murder by means of homemade bombs."


Boston document dealer Kenneth Rendell is a key figure
in the Hofmann story. We haven't had an E-Sylum quiz
in some time, so here goes: What is Rendell's connection
to numismatics?

Here's his connection to Hofmann: As a nationally known
expert in autographs and rare documents, Rendell was one
of the experts asked to authenticate some documents which
turned out to be forgeries. Hoffmann had a number of
dealings directly with Rendell before the truth of his deception
was revealed.

Hoffmann enticed investors with stories of fabulous collections
he was negotiating to buy. [From Duncan's Article:]
"One collection Hofman was trying to acquire contained a
prized "piece of papyrus plucked from the bosom of an
Egyptian mummy." He phoned ... Rendell, asking if he had
any papyrus for sale. He did, and Rendell sold Hofmann a
piece measuring 9" by 24". Hofmann then cut this in two,
mounting one 4" by 9" piece between two sheets of plexiglass,
and gave it to Steve Christensen -- who expected to buy the
collection for the Church of Latter Day Saints for a price of

Christensen knew nothing of papyrus, so to check if it was
genuine, he sought the advice of an expert -- who turned out
to be Kenneth Rendell.

When Mark Hofmann learned that Rendell was flying from
Boston to Salt Lake City to meet Christensen, he realized
there was a very big chance of exposure -- and he saw only
one way out."

Hofmann decided to kill Christensen. He built and delivered
pipe bombs to Christensen and his business partner Gary
Sheets, in an attempt to make it look like the bombs were
related to a business transaction, and draw attention away
from Christensen's church dealings. The first bomb killed
Christensen, and the second bomb killed Sheets' wife. A
third bomb went off prematurely, severely injuring Hofmann
before he could deliver it. His schemes quickly unraveled.
Hofmann is still in jail, but some of his expert forgeries may
lie undetected today.

Another book on Hofman is online, and it has more on
Rendell and pictures the above-mentioned papyrus


Andy Lanier writes: "Does anyone know of any publications in
English that have articles about Chinese Szechuan Province
Horse and Orchid Tokens issued from 1921 to 1930? I am
a collector of coins and currency depicting orchids."


Granvyl Hulse writes: "Have been asked if I can identify the
following book. What what is it about? I can't help. Can
anyone on The E-Sylum assist? It is a loose portfolio, 16"
high 12" wide. The text on the cover is:

Munten en Penningen

uit het Koninklijk Kabinet van Munten,
Penningen en Gesneden Steenen
te 's-Gravenhage

's-Gravenhage - Martinus Nijhoff - 1910"


This being Christmas week, it seems like a jolly good time
to discuss references to obsolete notes featuring St. Nicholas.
Many thanks to John and Nancy Wilson, and Dave Harper
of Numismatic News for information about the Wilson's
article from the December 1997 issue of Bank Note reporter.

The article references the definitive catalog for the subject:
Roger Durand's "Interesting Notes About Christmas", 1993.

"About 21 different banks and eight different sates issued
Santa Claus notes."

"Durand's book lists about 62 different Santa Claus notes,
of which about 28 only differ by way of a red or green
protector overprinted on them or on tinted paper. The
Bank of Milwaukee has two notes that differ only because
of a different of capital printed."

Other references cited by the Wilsons include:

The 1990 Christie's sale catalog of the American Bank Note
Company Archives

"Diverse Numismatic Items Depict Santa" written by Paul
Gilkes for the Dec. 25, 1991 issue of Coin World

"Happy Holiday Notes from St. Nick" written by Gene
Hessler for the Dec. 21 1992 issue of Coin World.

"Christmas Currency: A Trial List" by Larry L. Ruehlen,

Several of the vignettes were done by famous book illustrator
Felix O. C. Darley. Gene Hessler writes that there is a web
site devoted to Darley site at

A web search turned up an article on Santa notes by
David W. Boitnott on the Raleigh, NC coin club site:
Here's an excerpt. See the web page for the full article.

"But don't fret Virginia, Santa Claus is coming to town and
he is riding on obsolete banknotes. Yes, there are five known
vignettes featuring jolly ol? St. Nick. The first depicts Santa
and six of his reindeer departing a rooftop from right to left.
This vignette can be found on a Pittsfield Bank, Massachusetts
$20 note; a $2 note from The Central Bank of Brooklyn, N.Y.;
a $3 note from The Central Bank of Troy, N.Y.; and on a
Bucksport Bank, Maine $50 note.

The second vignette again shows Santa and his reindeer
departing a rooftop; however, this time in the opposite
direction. This engraving appeared on several banknotes
including a $2 note from The White Mountain Bank,
Lancaster, New Hampshire. This particular note was the
subject of a souvenir card issued for the Memphis
International Paper Money Show in 1988 making easier
to locate an example at a reasonable price. Other known
issuers are The Central Bank of Troy, N.Y. on a $3 note;
The Saint Nicholas Bank of New York City on $2 and
$5 notes; The Mechanics and Manufacturers Bank,
Providence, Rhode Island on a $1 note; and The Waupun
Bank, Wisconsin on a $2 note."

The article credits Gene Hessler's 1992 Coin World article
as a source.


'Twas two days before Christmas,
And my gift list complete.
Save one so important,
It had to be neat.

The gift I was missing,
The one to be handy,
For the spirit of Christmas,
So good for the family.

For the jolly ol' man,
Who arrives Christmas night.
Himself good and generous.
Choose a gift that's just right!

He travels a great distance,
To bring everyone good cheer.
What kind of a present
Would Santa hold dear?

No gingerbread houses,
No frilly white blouses.
No Hansel, no Gretle.
Give Santa a medal.

No toys to construct,
No parts to assemble.
No bicycle to peddle.
Give Santa a medal.

No milk, and no cookies,
By the tree and the rest.
Give Santa a medal,
He deserves just the best.

His effort rewarded,
In a box with red bow.
Give Santa a medal.
He's our Christmas He-Ro!

M E R R Y C H R I S T M A S!

-D. Wayne Johnson


This week's featured web page is rom the Albion, Michigan
history site. It's an article by Frank Passic, Albion Historian,
titled "Trade Currency Circulated Here in 1933"

  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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