The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 8, Number 4, January 23, 2005:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2004, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Dennis Tucker and Mary
Counts of Whitman Publishing, courtesy of Dave Bowers,
Michael Luck, Jerome Platt, and Luis Manzano. Welcome
aboard! We now have 714 subscribers.


Fred Lake writes: "The catalog of our sale #78 featuring
selections from the library of Jack Haymond is now
available for viewing on our web site at: Current Sale

The sale has a closing date of Feb. 15, 2005 and contains
material on a wide area of interests. Bids may be made
by Email, Fax, telephone, and US Mail.

Lake Books
6822 22nd Ave N
St. Petersburg, FL 33710
(727) 343-8055 FAX: (727) 345-3750"


Fred Lake filed the following report: "A meeting of the
Numismatic Bibliomania Society was held on Saturday,
January 15, 2005 at the Florida United Numismatists
50th Anniversary Convention held in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

The featured speaker was Howard A. Daniel III, who
discussed his new book, "Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Coins & Currency". Handouts of pages from the book were
distributed to the attendees.

NBS President, Pete Smith, made a few welcoming remarks
and FUN Board of Directors member, Fred Lake introduced
the speaker.

NBS member and Whitman Publishing Representative,
David Crenshaw presented a copy of the new leather-bound
edition of the 2005 "Redbook" to be auctioned to the audience.
Carl Feldman was the lucky winner of the raffle.

Bill Swoger gave a short presentation on his two new emissions
and then "trapped" the audience by asking if anyone knew how
to pronounce Mr. Zerbe's first name??? You are tricky, Bill.

Those in attendance were Mark Clark, Carl Feldman, Howard
A. Daniel III, William Swoger, David Crenshaw, Bob Fritsch,
Clifford Mishler, George Fitzgerald, Pete Smith, Fred Lake,
Jeff Reichenberger, and Chuck Armstrong.

A meeting will be held next year at the FUN convention in
Orlando, Florida. The show will be held Jan. 5-8, 2006. Do
the NBS members have any preference for the time of the
meeting, or is the Saturday at 11:30 AM time a good one?
Please let me know at fredlake at if you
have a suggestion. "


Dave Kellogg asked about last week's annual dinner
gala honoring George Kolbe at the American
Numismatic Society.

He writes: "We all know George from his fine numismatic
literature sales and auctions as well as his contributions to
The E-sylum. Perhaps known to only those people
interested in ancient coins and books about them is
George's monthly contribution to the Celator, a journal of
ancient and medieval coinage. For many years George
has written an article entitled "Profiles in Numismatics"
which describes past scholars whose contributions to
the subject have formed the body of knowledge from
which we all benefit today. George has also been an
active supporter of the ANS Library. It is probably
due to his achievements in the latter activity that
prompted his deserving honor last week.

(The ANS offered a suggestion for those unable to attend
the dinner but nevertheless wishing to support George;
a tax-deductible contribution could be made to the ANS
in honor of Mr. George F. Kolbe. Their address is 96
Fulton Street, New York, NY 10038.)"

[Congratulations, George. Take a bow. Were I
located closer to New York I may have been able to
attend. Can any of our readers report on the event?


>From the press release:
"New York on Steel, a new exhibition of stock certificates
and bonds with bank note-engraved scenes of New York
City and its buildings, 1840-1980s, presented by the
American Numismatic Society, will open to the public on
February 8, 2005. The exhibition contains over 70 stocks,
bonds, engraving proofs, and other production material
illustrating both the wonderful engraved views of New
York from the mid-19th century to the late 20th century,
as well as the beautiful art and process of bank note
engraving. The exhibit is from the collection of and curated
by Mark D. Tomasko, an engraving historian and collector.

Visitors can see period miniature engraved masterpieces
of well-known sights such as the Brooklyn Bridge, the
old Pennsylvania Station, Wall Street in 1900, the United
Nations, and the Prometheus Statue at the Rockefeller
Center skating rink, as well as less familiar locations such
as the old W & J. Sloane building at Broadway and 19th
Street, the former New York Clearing House on Cedar
Street, and the late Alexander's Department Store at 58th
Street and Lexington Avenue. Also on view will be
photographs of architects' drawings that enabled one of
the best bank note engravers in 1913 to depict Grand
Central Terminal for bonds of the New York Central and
Hudson River Rail Road; and a series of unique progressive
proofs of a 1950s engraving of the Empire State Building.

Known as the "fine art of finance," bank note engraving is
a beautiful art surviving today primarily on our nation's
currency. It is a truly American art, perfected and brought
to a high level in America around the time of the Civil War,
due to the demand created by the fact that prior to 1865
most every bank could issue its own bank notes. The
growing U.S. economy and financing needs of the late
19th century required an ever-increasing number of stock
and bond certificates, and more security for such securities,
causing even more development of the beautiful art of bank
note engraving in an effort to foil counterfeiters. New York
City was the financial and business center for America
from the 1850s to the 1960s, and had more buildings and
scenes appearing on fully-engraved securities than any
other location.

The Federal Reserve Bank New York, 33 Liberty St.,
New York, NY, open to the public Monday through
Friday, 10 am to 4 pm. For more information on visiting
the exhibition, please contact the Federal Reserve Bank
New York Public Information Division at (212) 720-6130."


Dick Johnson writes: "Houston Texas, which has never been
shy in displaying its collective wealth, has come out and just
built an exhibit in gold, of gold, and for gold. It touches
numismatics in many ways. "See hoards of gold bullion and
coins from around the world" to quote the pre-exhibition
publicity. You can also see a Nobel Medal in the noble metal,
as well as the "alluring splendor of the finest gold specimens
on earth."

Everything in the exhibit is precious metal, from a 25-pound
brick, like what’s in Fort Knox, to an Indian wedding dress!
You can touch the gold brick (unless you have aurophobia);
you can’t touch the wedding dress (even if you have
auromania). But the stars of the show are some of the largest
gold nuggets in existence. These wonders of nature’s cauldron
appear in their original formation, often in artistic shapes.

Perhaps the nuggets inspired the title of the exhibit "Gold!
Natural Treasure, Cultural Obsession." The exhibit in all its
golden glory is on display at the Houston Museum of Natural
Science. It opens February 18th and runs through August 7th.
(Can you imagine what security for that length of time will

Since gold bars are now listed in the Red Book, ANA
bourse cases are now filled with the yellow metal of every
kind at every convention, and Krause publications reports
more on gold, it seems, than on coins and medals, apparently
gold has now become integral rather than an adjunct to
numismatics. Well now that gold attraction you may harbor
can now be satisfied by viewing this exhibit, both the
numismatic items and the wedding dress.

Also attendees can view the 1999 IMAX film "Gold Fever!"
in the Museum’s Wortham IMAX Theater. The Canadian
film relates the adventures of a modern day prospector's
wilderness journey, contrasted with the historical Klondike
Gold Rush of 1897-98. Plus an exciting African Royal
Durba gold celebration. And something from India and
something else from Asia.

Apparently this gold obsession is universal and man has
made a lot of golden objects throughout recorded time.
"Dots a lota culture!"

The museum’s pre-publicity:


Last week, discussing the reopened exhibit of coins
from the American Numismatic Society vaults, I noted:
"I'm glad to see the exhibition has been remounted. I had
the pleasure of viewing it last year. By all means, be sure
to see it when visiting New York."

David Gladfelter writes: "Definitely see it, but be prepared
to feel a little bit musty if your experience was like ours.
You are part of a big crowd assembled and waiting to go
in. Almost all of the crowd goes to the vault to look at the
stored bullion. About a half dozen people go to see the
ANS exhibit."


Larry Dziubek forwarded the initial Volume 1, No. 1 issue
of the C.N.A. E-Bulletin. From the looks of it, I'll bet many
E-Sylum readers will want to subscribe.

"Welcome to the first complimentary News bulletin of the
Canadian Numismatic Association. It is being sent to well
over 1,000 people whose e-mail addresses we have on file
from all fields of numismatics: C.N.A. members and other
collectors, dealers, executives of clubs and associations,
addresses that were passed on to us by others, people that
provided us with their e-mail addresses when either joining,
renewing or ordering correspondence courses, etc.

The first thing we wish to point out is that this C.N.A.
E-Bulletin are not just for people who collect Canadian coins,
since we will cover a huge field of numismatics, including U.S.
and elsewhere."

"We expect to e-mail it on the 1st and 15th of each month
from now on."

In the newsletter's Congratulations section is this note:
"To the E-Sylum, the E-bulletin of the Numismatic
Bibliomania Society and their Editor, Wayne Homren, on
receiving the ANA’s Best Electronic Newsletter. We will
try to give them a real good run for their money in 2005!"

[Bring it on! It's a big world of numismatics out there,
and cyberspace never runs out of room. To subscribe,
contact the C.N.A. E-Bulletin Editor at this email address:
cnanews at -Editor]


>From the Volume 1, No 1 issue of the C.N.A. E-Bulletin:
"A recent episode of America’s Most Wanted with John
Walsh, featured Jordon Allgood, a Utah dealer that was
killed in his coin shop. The TV program showed the video
surveillance tape that had the robber walk into the store,
pull out a gun and shoot Allgood without any warning,
tied him up and then proceeded to take coins, including a
large quantity of U.S. gold coins, from the vault. Before
Allgood succumbed to his gunshot wound, he called 911
but the killer got away before police arrived.

The police figure the best way of apprehending the killer
is if he attempts to sell the coins. Standing out of the hoard,
other than the supply of gold coins, is a U.S. 1909 S VDB
cent and a set of 6 coins from 1960 from the Philippines.

The Website of America’s Most Wanted is America's Most Wanted


In business news from, the
venerable American Bank Note Corp. has filed
for Chapter 11 bankruptcy a second time:

"American Banknote Corp., which makes checks and
money orders, sought bankruptcy protection, the second
such filing for the company in the past five years, in the
face of bond payments due at month's end."

"American Banknote's chief financial officer, Patrick Gentile,
said in court papers that the company has been facing losses
in part due to reduced demand in the United States for paper
documents and "has been unable to generate sufficient cash
flow" to pay its bond debt.

The company filed an earlier Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition
in December 1999 in New York State, eventually wiping
out more than $100 million in debt in exchange for new
notes and stock. American Banknote completed its first
reorganization in October 2002."

"American Banknote says it traces its history to 1795 an
Paul Revere as an early printer of U.S. currency."

"Shares of the Englewood Cliffs-based company fell 5 cents
to 13 cents in over-the-counter trading today in New York."

To read the full article (registration required): Full Story


Len Augsberger writes: "Has anyone ever heard of a bar in
New York City where the floor was made out silver dollars?
The following passage is taken from Jacob Riis' "How the
Other Half Lives." Riis was a crusading journalist instrumental
in the reform of building codes in the New York city slums,
c. 1890:

"The very floor of one of the bar-rooms, in a neighborhood
that lately resounded with the cry for bread of starving
workmen, is paved with silver dollars!" (chapter 18) "


>From the Sidney Morning Herald:
"Germany's vending machine industry has suggested a
rethink on the design of euro coins after the European
Union said it found nearly 75,000 counterfeits in 2004,
three times the number found in 2003.

Olivier Louis, a technical expert from the EU anti-fraud
office, said 50-cent coins were even faked for use in
developing countries.

The number of fake coins is still minuscule compared
with the 55 billion genuine coins in circulation. But
Germany's vending machine industry said more than
twice as many counterfeit euro coins were being found
as fake deutschmarks previously, and the EU might
want to rethink its policy that allows national designs
on one side of the currency."

"He noted there were already 120 different euro coins in
the 12 euro-zone countries; this could climb to 300 over
the next decade as new EU member states joined the
currency area. And from 2008, euro-zone countries
could change their national designs.

"Vending machine technology can respond flexibly, but
many citizens will be overwhelmed," Mr Trenner said.

The VDAI says the number of fake €2 coins (the
highest denomination euro coin) discovered in Germany
alone has soared to 22,000 - 20 times the number just
two years ago."

Full Story


>From South African Reserve Bank:
The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) today launched
banknotes with improved security features which will go
into circulation from 1 February 2005.

In line with international best practice, the Bank regularly
revises the security features and design of banknotes
because the Bank is committed to ensuring the public has
reliable currency. The SARB last changed South Africa's
banknotes in 1992.

The upgraded banknotes will retain the Big Five animal
motif on the front and the economic sector themes on the
back. There will, however, be some design changes.
Celebrating South Africa's democracy, the upgraded
banknotes will be the first to show the South African Coat
of Arms and to use all eleven languages across the

The improved security features will make it easier for the
public to distinguish between good banknotes and counterfeit
banknotes and further give the upgraded banknotes a distinct
look. Examples of this are the shimmering gold band, visible
on the back of the banknote when it is tilted, as well as the
colour-changing ink on the number value on the front bottom
right of the R50, R100 and R200 banknotes."

To read the full text, see: Full Story

For more information, and images of the old and new
notes, see: More Info


Jørgen Sømod writes: "Last week Dick Johnson wrote of
"100-year-old books are still in active use". Yes, at least -
for the normal collector. But for me as a researcher and
numismatic author more than 400 year old books are still
in use. Just now I have in my hand a reprint of a valuation
by Wolff Stürmer original printed in Leipzig 1572. It is
only one month ago, I had to use it, when I wrote an article
regarding some of the coins illustrated in the old book.
And these days I am finishing an article about - and a reprint
of - a warning against bad coins, originally printed in Frankfurt
a/M 1503. For Danish numismatics this warning is not a
curiosity, but an important proof in understanding some of
our coin history. That is a 502 year old printing."

Also in response to Dick's query about copyrighted works,
Morten Eske Mortensen writes: "It is rather more appropriate
to ask:

A) How much money have the original authors and their
heirs actually been paid in royalties?

B) Have the original authors even been paid a royalty
amount that gives the author full salary for the work done?

C) Any copyright laws ought to include a paragraph
"No title can lose the copyrighted status before the author
has been paid the equivalent in royalties of a full salary
for his work. "


Connie Simmons writes: "Do you know of any ephemera or
books relating to exonumia with image of the Statue of
Liberty or Liberty Enlightening the World? I know of John
Gabriel's book. I have one of those but I was wondering
if any other works or updates have been done. Thanks
for any info."


The Sunken Treasure Literature Club had a meeting at the
recent F.U.N. show. Did any of our subscribers attend?
Can anyone fill us in on what the club is about?


Regarding the American Numismatic Association's microfiche
version of The Numismatist, Dave Lange writes: "I bought
this set when it came out around 1980, but I never did keep
up with whatever new volumes were offered. The quality
was poor, though the sheets were still usable with a good
quality viewer. I used this set when researching my earliest
books, but now I have access to a nice bound set of The
Numismatist in the NGC Library. There's really no substitute
for hardcopies when it comes to readability. I later sold my
microfiche set in one of Fred Lake's auctions. I don't even
remember what it brought, but it was probably less than
what I had paid."

Pete Smith writes: "The Northwest Coin Club has a copy
of The Numismatist on microfiche produced by the ANA
several years ago. I believe I am the only member to
check that out from the club library in the past 20 years
and most members aren't even aware that it is available.
I was researching the first article on Conder tokens
published in the journal. As I recall the quality of the film
was not great."


Dick Johnson cited Betts’ "American Colonial Medals"
(1894) as an example of a book still in active use after
100 years. Granvyl Hulse writes: "Speaking of Betts'
American Colonial Medals, I heard once that someone
was considering updating it. It was around the time I
first started doing research on medals awarded to British
soldiers during the American Revolution for the ANA's
publication, "The Numismatist". This would be about 30
years ago. Any truth to this?"


Responding to the question about coins used by officials
at U.S. football games, Brad Karoleff writes:

"I do not know the actual rules for officials at NFL games,
other than the SuperBowl. There they have an "official"
flipping coin as mentioned in previous years telecasts. As
is tradition in most other sporting events the individual
official has their own individual flipping coin for their use.

I personally referee soccer games in the Greater Cincinnati
area and use a variety of different flippers during the season.
I have a silver round with a large Indian on the obverse as
well as (surprise) a couple of Bust Half Dollars. Next year
I plan on using Buffalo Nickels and awarding the flipping
coin to the winner of the toss. Maybe we will get some
new collectors out of the practice.

Any other officials out there with alternatives? I have
observed other local officials that use the old coin coasters,
Ike dollars, "official" flipping coins of the associations. One
even uses a Lincoln cent and then throws it off the field after
use then magically makes another appear in his hand. It
may make them wonder if he will "magically" be in position
to call all the fouls!"


"In honor of the 70th anniversary of the Matanuska Colony
Project, a special commemorative print is being released
that features art from the great-grandson of Don L. Irwin,
who helped establish the project.

Norman Odsather's print depicts the Colonists at the trading
post. The framed print also has open slots where people can
put "bingles," the currency issued to Colonists at the time.
Another version of the print has the bingles printed on it."

"Each Colonist was issued $30 in bingles, and $5 for each
child, so that there would be no open charge accounts at
the co-op trading post. In 1985, in conjunction with the
50th anniversary of the Matanuska Colonist Project,
reproduction coins were restruck from the original dies,
which were found in Washington by James Tapscott."

"The tokens came in eight denominations. The one-, five-,
10-, 25- and 50-cent pieces and $1 tokens were aluminum,
and the $5 and $10 tokens were brass.

Today, a complete set of original ARRC bingles would go
for about $675 if in good condition, Roy Brown of Roy's
Coins said a couple years ago. Brown said there were
various other tokens produced in Alaska, some which
have become collector's items. But the ARRC token is
the most famous and rated in most coin books because
of the Matanuska Colony's prominent place in the history
of the New Deal era."

To see the full article: Full Story


Regarding last week's discussion of colorized coins, David
Lange writes: "I believe the U. S. Mint's discomfort with this
practice by private marketers stems from its own desire to
include such items in its sales catalog. Canada has been
selling colorized coins for some years now, and the U. S.
Mint is likely getting envious. While these gimmicky items
seem to appeal to the new generation of collectors, I
imagine they make E-Sylum readers all the more grateful
for vintage coins that possess real art and history.


Regarding our earlier request for information on Max
von Bahrfeldt, John Kleeberg writes: "I looked in
Degener's Wer Ist's ("Unsere Zeitgenossen") for 1935,
and it states that von Bahrfeldt was sentenced to death
in absentia by a Belgian court for the atrocities of
Charleroi; he was also put on trial by the Reichsgericht
at Leipzig, but he walked. The post World War I war
criminal trials by the Reichsgericht at Leipzig were widely
regarded as far too lax, which is why an International
Military Tribunal was set up after World War II. Von
Bahrfeldt was very right wing in his political sympathies -
he was a member of the Vaterlandspartei, the DNVP,
the Stahlhelm, and then became part of the SA Reserve
(the brown shirts) after the Stahlhelm was merged into
the SA during the Nazi period. His father was the
owner of a knight's estate, but Degener says that the
family is by origin a bourgeois one, so von Bahrfeldt is
not, technically, a Prussian junker, although he did opt
for the military career - the cadet institution in
Berlin-Lichterfelde, and then a gradual rise through
the ranks, peaking out at Generalleutnant. It is
interesting that the Army retired him in 1916,
suggesting that he might have blotted his copybook in
some way. I've been looking for photographs of von
Bahrfeldt in his spiked helmet or in his SA uniform,
but the only photographs I've seen show him in
civilian attire: see Photo

I have heard it said that the reason the British do
not classify their Roman coins not according to von
Bahrfeldt, but according to Sydenham, is because von
Bahrfeldt had Dame Edith Cavell executed. So far as I
can tell, although von Bahrfeldt is accused of some
sort of atrocity in Charleroi, he did not have Nurse
Cavell executed, for her activities were in Brussels,
and von Bahrfeldt was posted elsewhere. The rumor "He
had Edith Cavell executed" is probably just shorthand
for "He was involved in some atrocity in Belgium," and
in Britain, the execution of Edith Cavell is the best
known atrocity. Crawford attacked the British cult of
Sydenham several years ago, saying, "There were three
people who really understood Roman Republican coins,
and Sydenham was not one of them." Crawford was
clearly referring to von Bahrfeldt among the three;
the second is probably Theodor Mommsen, always a good
guess when discussing the Roman Republic; we haven't
figured out yet who was Crawford's number three."


Dick Johnson writes: "In last week’s news story on Mint
Director Fore’s attack on colorized coins, I mentioned
that this practice started with the goldplating of the John
Wayne Congressional Medal in 1979. American coins
have been plated, perhaps, since William Rogers
Company brought the silverplating process to New
England in 1847. This was done capriciously of course,
by workers in the silverplating industry perhaps, but
never with any commercial intent.

I cannot recall any coin the U.S. Mint has ever plated.
The U.S. Mint, to my knowledge, never had plating tanks
on their premises until they started making galvano patterns
of coin designs beginning in 1921. Tanks for making
galvanos can also be used for electroplating and galvanos
were first made at the Mint for Anthony de Francisci’s
silver dollar model in that year. Even medals, which can
easily be plated for award classes of gold and silver made
from bronze by plating, was never done by the Mint.

The occasion arose in 1979 when the U.S. Congress
authorized a Congressional Medal for actor John Wayne.
Chief Engraver Frank Gasparro prepared the obverse
portrait and the 3-inch medal was struck. At that time,
the public could purchase bronze medals struck from the
same dies as the gold medal bestowed to John Wayne
for the princely sum of $3.

Two entrepeneurs in Connecticut recognized the appeal
this medal could have by the public. But how could they
commercialize on it? Their solution was to goldplate the
3-inch medal. While gold was hundreds of dollars an
ounce at the time, the amount of the precious metal on
each medal was minimal – gold can be deposited in such
a thin coating that a few microns changes the entire surface
the gold color.

They first offered the John Wayne Medal in gold at $10
each. Their hunch was correct, orders poured in. They
purchased the medals from the Mint by the thousands.
Frank Gasparro was proud his design of this medal --
#666 in the Mint’s List Medal series -- which sold more
than any other 20th century medal. The medal’s popularity
was noted in an article in The Numismatist (vol 94, no 3,
March 1981, pp 638-40).

I once hired a paste-up artist who had worked in the
advertising department for these two Connecticut
businessmen. She told me a little of their story. As best
as I can remember, they made tons of profit, but couldn’t
continue working together and broke up somewhat

My records show I sold two John Wayne medals when
I was a medal dealer. But I have never seen one goldplated.
They must all still be in the hands of the public."


Mike Marotta writes: "Thanks to Dick Johnson for stepping
up and speaking out in The E-Sylum v8#3 (January 16, 2005)
on the question of colorized coins. I followed the link to the
story. Mint Director Henrietta Holsman Fore said: "Congress
is the only group that can authorize a commemorative coin
and the United States Mint is the only entity that can strike

Back in the 1970s, when silver art bars were becoming popular,
the US Mint attempted to legally seize the word "Mint" making
it unavailable to private entities. They did not succeed.
However, the Federal Trade Commission did win exclusive
use of the word "coin" for the government by taking action
against Hutt River Principality Province.

In "Numismatic News" for July 5, 1994, Alan Herbert
claimed that the US Mint holds legal title to the word "coin."
He said: "The term 'coin' has been legally and professionally
banned for used in the hobby to prevent applying it to
medals, tokens and other similar pieces. A coin is defined
as a piece that has been issued and is assigned a specific
value by a legal body entitled to issue money."

Of course, that definition is circular. It also fails on historical
grounds. Many ancient generals in the field never became
emperors and many rebel juntos in the mountains never
became parliaments. What is a "government"? What is a
"legal body"? Who creates such an entity? For many
years, the United Nations refused to admit the two
Germanies on the grounds that they were not "separate"
countries but different occupied areas of the same country.
What, then of the "tokens" and "medals" issued for 40 years
by the DDR and BRD? How about the coins of Spain in
1871? They were tariffed in GRAMMOS, not pesetas
because Spain had an administration but no executive and
a parliament but no legislature. What of Pine Tree Shillings
and the gold coins of Templeton Reid or the Mormons?
By this definition, the British gold sovereign is not a coin.
It has no specific value. Its weight and fineness are not
stated on the coin. The same applies to early US Federal
gold. Are they not coins?

In the September 1994 issue of "The Numismatist," Antonio
Trigueros, Director of the Portuguese State Mint, wrote a
"Heads or Tails" commentary. According to Trigueros, to
be a "coin" the object must circulate as money. Trigueros
cited rulings of the International Association of Professional
Numismatists that condemned as "pseudo-coins" the issues
of Hutt River Principality Province, the ANA's Turks and
Caicos Lunar Crown and all modern US Commemoratives.

It is a fact of epistemology going back to Aristotle that a
definition integrates and differentiates by stating the class
in which something belongs and showing how this item is
unlike all other elements of the same set. A numismatically
correct definition of "coin" would run about a paragraph.
(Common dictionary one-liners are obviously inadequate.)
The important attributes are independent of who makes
the object. The definition of "coin" must be taxonomic."

Max Spiegel writes: "This is just a short response to Dick
Johnson's follow-up to the AP story about the U.S. Mint
attempting to curtail these "fake commemorate coins." The
AP article does not just talk about "colorized" coins, but
basically all privately-produced commemoratives. Now I
don't particularly see anything wrong with people "colorizing"
officially minted coins and marketing them as commemoratives,
but I think that the production and marketing of new, privately-
minted commemoratives can be very deceptive. The article
wrote about the September 11th "commemorative" that was
marketed as an official commemorative just because it had
been minted within a United States territory. I had seen many
commercials advertising it and they were definitely trying to
trick unsuspecting consumers into believing that these were
in some way sanctioned by the United States mint. As it says
in the article, Spitzer took legal action and the court issued
an injunction against the company (I believe it was the National
Collector's Mint). What made this "commemorative" particularly
bad was that it was denominated, making it seem that one
could use it as legal tender when in fact they could not.

I think that it is incorrect to assume that because these people
are unfamiliar with numismatics, that they can be deceptive
accidentally. While consumers do purchase many items "buyer
beware," it is another story when it appears that the item being
offered to them appears to be legal tender and officially
sanctioned, even though it is not. I agree that the Mint may be
overly concerned about painted coins, but I think that their fines
are more important in that they will help stop deceptive advertising
of commemoratives that are, in many ways, "fake." Lastly, I am
not quite convinced that the coins in your pocket are your property.
Yes, the government cannot really snatch them from you, but
they may still remain property of the government for use as a
substitute for trade. I'm no lawyer either, but I remember someone
telling me that the U.S. Treasury fined the"Where's George"
website for stamping their web address on bills. They had said
that, even though the paper currency was obtained legally by
the company, it could not legally be defaced. An example that
comes to mind is a passport, which can be taken away from
you by the proper federal authorities even though it's "yours."
Had this law that the mint is asking Congress to pass only
dealt with "colorized" coins, I would agree with you: it is a
waste of time. Since, however, it can help end the practice of
privately minting commemorative coins that are deceptively
marketed to unsuspecting consumers as official, I think it's
worth it."


Regarding Nick Graver's question, Steve D'Ippolito writes:
"One might be tempted to regard "every coin listed in the
Red Book" as a list of coins that would be complete.
However, I would not. I think it includes a bunch of what
are essentially mistake die varieties. Either those should
ALL be included, or NONE should be included. If you
include ALL, you probably have to multiply the size of the
list by at least ten. Not just die varieties down to the VAMS
level, but such other mistakes as the 1943 copper cent, etc.
If you chose to include NONE of the die varieties and
mistakes, you can delete the three legged buffalo, the
1955 DD (and other double dies), all those overdates, and
so forth--the Red Book only lists the more spectacular such
screwups. Plus the annoying mint mark varieties, large "S"
small "S" micro "S", etc.

I took this attitude with my Russian imperial collection
(also throwing overboard novodels, proofs, and pattern
pieces) and it simplified the job tremendously. Now I
have a chance at completing my type (not even date and
mintmark!) collection without having to live to be 1000
years old or become as wealthy as Bill Gates."

Dick Johnson writes: "To answer Nick Graver’s question
in last week’s E-Sylum: Walter Breen counted all the
coins in a "complete" U.S. collection. All one must do is
check his "Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial
Coins." He numbered sequentially every coin for us giving
a separate number for every major variety (omitting, of
course, diebreaks and other subvarieties).

His numbering system for this major American work is
called "interrupted consecutive serial numbering." He left
open numbers at the end of each section for future
expansion. I have written on this previously in The E-Sylum
which gives the answer to Nick’s question -- "7,343 items
in numbers up to 8035" (vol 3, no 8; February 20, 2000).
That’s the number up to the time of the book’s 1977
publication, of course. (It was reprinted in 1988.)

I had expressed my admiration for this type of numbering
system, but received some critical comments from E-Sylum
readers in the following weeks. Whatever your opinion of
the utility or usefulness of his numbering system, I still find
Walter’s system adequate, even for a question like
"How many?""

David Gladfelter writes: "By Walter Breen's definition
(Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U. S. and
Colonial Coins, 1987) a complete set would consist of
8,035 pieces, including a few numbers reserved for post-
1986 issues. By that definition Eliasberg's set was "incomplet"
(Forrest W. Daniel's term) because it lacked Breen 3128,
the unique 1870S half dime, undiscovered during Eliasberg's
lifetime. The 1974 standard Lincoln cent is Breen 2272 and
the aluminum cent Breen 2273. Breen gives separate
numbers to the Barber quarter dollar die varieties of 1892,
but not to the similar die varieties of 1900."


My sons have been working to fill Whitman-style coin
folders with U.S. cents, nickels, dimes and quarters. To
restock our supply I stopped at a bank Friday and asked
the teller for "four rolls of nickels and four rolls of cents."
She said, "what?". I repeated my request and she said,
"OK, four rolls of nickels and ... WHAT?" "And ....
four ... rolls ... of ... CENTS..., please," I replied.
"Oh, you mean pennies?" she said. "I never heard anyone
ask for them like that before."


Speaking of filling coin folders, I received a rude awakening
while helping my sons sort through piles of Jefferson nickels.
With clad coins appearing in 1964 and the Lincoln Memorial
Cent reverse in 1959, earlier versions of those coins
disappeared from circulation. But with the exception of the
war years, the Jefferson design had been unchanged until
last year, and I was expecting to be able to find a number of
earlier dates in circulation, perhaps even as early as 1938,
the first year of the series. These were readily available in
circulation the last time I paid much attention, but now that
was at least ten years ago. Maybe I'm just showing my
age, but I was surprised that after searching hundreds of
coins, we had yet to find a single one before 1960.
Yesterday afternoon was the first time we put a nickel
into the first folder - a 1941.

Did I miss the memo that said everyone should begin
hoarding pre-1960 nickels? More likely, the production
of newer coins gradually overwhelmed the lower mintages
of the earlier coins. But at what point do older coins
become so unusual that the general public starts actively
putting them aside? When they are about 25% of the
mix? 10%? My theory is that there must be some sort
of tipping point where hoarding starts. Thoughts, anyone?


This week's featured web page features the medallic art
of Dana Krinsky of Israel. "... many of her medals were
shown at various exhibitions around the world and are
included in public and private collections. In 1998-2002
she was the Israeli delegate to the "Federation Internationale
de la Medaille" (FIDEM). Currently she works and teaches
in Israel."

Featured Web Page

  Wayne Homren

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 at this address:
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  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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