The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

PREV        NEXT        V8 2005 INDEX        E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 8, Number 15, April 10, 2005:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2005, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Fred Lake writes: "Our mail-bid sale #79 is now available
for viewing on our web site at: sale #79 

The sale features selections from the library of Terris "Terry"
C. Howard. Terry spent many years in Spain and is Life
Member #71 of Asociacion Numismatica Espanola (ANE)
and wrote many articles for "Gaceta Numismatica". You will
find some excellent reference books on Spanish, Portugese,
and Latin American coinage.

In addition, we have material listed for those interested in
Tokens and Medals, Paper Money, Guide Books, and other
areas. Of note is the first offering of the FUN 50th Anniversary
edition of the "Official Red Book."


Don Cleveland writes: "If you look at the date of the British
article about the Bush sisters joining the U.S. military, I think
you may have been had -- April Fool! I'm also not so sure
about New Zealand dropping the five cent coin."

Well, the New Zealand item is real and the item on Iraq
military payment certificates really was reprinted from the
MPC Gram, but it was editor Fred Schwan's April Fool's
joke. I added a fake URL for the nonexistent images, and
couldn't resist throwing in the Bush sisters April Fool item
as well. Now back to numismatics...


Regarding my question about transitional papal coinage,
Martin Purdy writes: I would recommend you have a look
through catalogues with detailed listings of Papal coinage,
e.g. SCWC, Craig, Reinfeld & Hobson ("Catalogue of the
World's Most Popular Coins" - the 1960s catalogue that
I did most of my learning from) - it would appear that at least
one coin issue is made for each interregnum ("Sede Vacante"
or "Vacant See"), most recently in 1978. My copy of R&H
lists Sede Vacante coins from 1605, and there were doubtless
earlier issues.

I would assume that they had their origin in the need to
maintain coinage in the absence of a reigning authority and
subsequently became commemorative or medallic issues.
The two Sede Vacante issues of 1978 would have filled no
need in terms of circulating coinage but maintain a continuity
with historic issues, and the 2005 Sede Vacante coin or
coins (my bet is on a whole set rather than a single coin type,
given the modern market, but let's wait and see) will be the

The term "Sede Vacante" is a key to finding information

Wikipedia (the free online encyclopedia) has an entry on
Sede Vacante, but no information on the coins.
Sede Vacante

This paragraph appears on a page about medieval papal
states coins:

"As far back as 1370 there were coins struck during the
vacancies of the Holy See, by authority of the cardinal
camerlengo, who, after the fifteenth century at least, caused
his name and his coat of arms to be stamped on the reverse
of the coin, the obverse bearing the words "SEDE VACANTE"
and the date, surrounding the crossed keys surmounted by
the pavilion."
Sede Vacante

Some Sede Vacante coins and medals of 1958, 1963, and
1978 were being offered for sale on eBay this week.

John Kleeberg writes: "You might try this website -
Sede Vacante

It's maintained by a Professor of Classics at CalState
Northridge, who has put together a large collection of
medals of the popes, including Sede Vacante coins
(issued in between popes)."

[The page is nicely illustrated. -Editor]

Hal Dunn writes: "For transitional coinage (and stamps) of
Vatican City, the “The International Encyclopedic Dictionary
of Numismatics” by R. Scott Carlton provides some information.
The Standard Catalog of World Coins lists pieces from the
old Papal States and from Vatican City, and provides the
dates of each sede vacante. Vatican City memorializes this
period with non-portrait coins and stamps bearing the coat of
arms of the Camerlengo. His name is Eduardo Cardinal
Martinez Somalo."

Stefano Quagliere of Rome writes: "The Vatican city must
be regarded as an independent country, with its boundaries,
laws, internal and foreign politics (although all these characteristics
are sometimes hidden behind the religious aspects). In a
country as such, when a pope (who is also Chief of State) is
dead, all this affairs must be carried out by a cardinal (named
"Camerlengo") that will handle all the aspects in the meantime
until a new pope is elected. Referring to coinage the "Sede
vacante coins" will show the usual euro value on one side and
the Camerlengo's coat of arms on the other side."

[One numismatic sideline is the study of official seals, and
this interesting description from the Wikipedia discusses the
role of the Camerlengo and the fate of the Pope's seal:

"Chief among the present responsibilities of the
is the formal determination of the death of the reigning Pope;
the traditional procedure for this was to strike gently the
Pope's head three times with a silver hammer and to call his
name. After the Pope is declared to be dead, the Camerlengo
removes the Ring of the Fisherman from his finger and cuts it
with shears in the presence of the Cardinals, and also destroys
the face of the Pope's seal with the silver hammer. These acts
symbolize the end of the late Pope's authority."


A Reuters news article this week noted that the Pope will
be buried with a group of medals.

"After the public viewing of John Paul's body ends on
Thursday, it will first be laid in a plain cypress wood coffin.

The Pope's long-time personal secretary and another Vatican
official will place a white silk veil on his face.

The Pope will wear liturgical vestments and his bishop's hat
will be placed on his chest.

A small bag of commemorative medals from his pontificate
and a brief summary of his life, sealed in a lead tube, will be
put in the coffin."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

Dick Johnson forwarded an article from the Times of
London with a slightly different description, this time
mentioning coins as well as medals.

The article notes: "Beside him will be placed a small bag of
silver coins and commemorative medals from his pontificate
as well as a brief summary of his life on a scroll sealed in a
lead tube."

As for the medals, Dick writes: "These may be the "anno"
medals -- one was issued each year of his reign."

To read the full article: Full Story


>From a CNN article: "Souvenir hunters are finally starting to
snap up memorabilia bearing the original date of Prince Charles's
wedding after its last-minute postponement because of the funeral
of Pope John Paul II.

Sales had been slow after the wedding was announced in
February, reflecting wide public apathy over the heir to the
British throne's marriage to his longtime lover Camilla Parker

But the decision to move back the wedding, originally due to
take place on Friday April 8, by a day to allow the Charles to
pay his respects at the Vatican has transformed the market."

"In a hundred years the story of this wedding will be in the date",
Hugh Gibson of china producers Royal Crown Derby told the
Times newspaper on Tuesday."

"The Royal Mint said the process of changing the date on the
thousands of coins earmarked for distribution was under way.

"There is no problem. We are making the date change", a
spokeswoman said."

To read the full story, see: Full Story

[We've had discussions in the past about date changes for
numismatic items (and auction sales). Perhaps some wrong-
dated coins or medals will find their way out of the Royal Mint.


"Much like the redesigned $20 and $50 notes issued over
the last two years, the $10 denomination will be the next
note slated for a make-over. The U.S. Federal Reserve
will begin issuing the new $10 note in early 2006, according
to a news release. The U.S. Department of Treasury’s
Bureau of Engraving and Printing will unveil the new note
in late 2005.

Similar to the new $20 and $50 notes’ designs, the updated
$10 note will feature enhanced security features, subtle
background colors and American symbols of freedom. BEP
is preparing cash-handling equipment — including vending
and ATM — manufacturers for needed technical equipment
adjustments before the note hits the street.

BEP will provide manufacturers with test notes and
specifications six months before the note’s circulation."

To read the full story, see: Full Story

[Perhaps some of these new test notes will appear in the
numismatic market. -Editor]


Jeff Reichenberger writes: "Another action movie with
numismatics weaved into the plot! Has anyone seen the
movie "Sahara"? I read something about Confederate
coinage being part of the plot. How about a review from
a numismatist?"

[I've not seen the film nor heard much about the plot, so
perhaps one of our readers can fill us in. The Internet Movie
Database has a plot summary which notes: "In the scorching
desert, Pitt finds a gold mine manned by slaves and uncovers
the truth behind two enduring mysteries -- the fate of a Civil
War ironclad and its secret connection with Lincoln's
Sahara Plot


>:From the April 2005 American Numismatic Society

"Since the start of the archival program in February 2004,
we have added to the ANS site biographical sketches of
numerous founders, curators, officers and other historical
figures. Now, all of these biographies can be easily
accessed through a new home page at: biographies.html  "

Biographies are now available for the following
numismatic personalities:

Charles E. Anthon
Agnes Baldwin Brett
Edward Groh
Archer M. Huntington
Herbert E. Ives
Joseph N.T. Levick
George C. Miles
Edward T. Newell
Sydney P. Noe
R. Henry Norweb, Jr.
Daniel Parish, Jr.
Stephen H.P. Pell
Augustus B. Sage
J. Sanford Saltus
Margaret Thompson
Howland Wood
Andrew C. Zabriskie


Also in the April 2005, Librarian Francis D. Campbell
writes that there are "two foreign journals that we would
like to complete. Thank you for helping.

"La Numismatica" (Monthly published in Brescia, Italy) -
Vol. 18, no. 9 (Sept., 1987) and any issues for the period
1994 - to date.

"Muenzen Review" - 1984 to date."

If you can locate these issues, contact Mr. Campbell at:
Campbell at


Michael Sullivan writes: "The advent and expansion of our
electronic culture has been a contributor to work place
productivity, communication efficiency like our weekly
E-Sylum, and access to information. However, the same
technology may have a partial value erosion effect on mid-
priced numismatic collectibles in the $150 - $300 range.
For example, Elmer's History of the Early Settlement and
Progress of Cumberland County, New Jersey, and of the
Currency of this and the Adjoining Colonies, 1869
(Davis, 373) is now available on CD ROM for $16 vs. a
typical auction price of $200. Do E-Sylum readers have
any other similar examples?"

[I would also like to hear our readers' thoughts on the subject,
but for me, there will always be a place in the market for
original copies of literature. Yes, the availability of an
electronic version could affect the decision of many buyers,
but bibliophiles will still prefer an original. After all, there are
numerous outlets where one can find high-quality images of
coins and currency, yet that doesn't make having an original
less desirable. Nor does the existence of superb Gallery Mint
reproductions seem to hurt the market for say, original Chain
cents. To hold an original copy of Crosby's Early Coins of
America, or nicely bound price and named 19th century
auction catalog is to have a direct connection to those who
came before us in this wonderful hobby. A facsimile is nice,
but just not the same.

The following item is somewhat related to this discussion,
but in the case of print-on-demand, there are no "originals"


" has acquired a publishing company that prints
books when they're ordered rather than relying on warehouses
stocked with titles, the online retailer said Monday."

"BookSurge LLC, based in Charleston, S.C., offers an
inventory-free book fulfillment network to publishers and
authors, and has a wholesale service for retailers, wholesalers
and distributors.

Founded in 2000, BookSurge maintains a catalog with
thousands of titles that are printed on-demand and available
for sale on"

"Print-on-demand has changed the economics of small-quantity
printing, making it possible for books with low and uncertain
demand to be profitably produced,'' said Greg Greely, vice
president of media products for ``BookSurge
makes it possible to print books that appeal to targeted
audiences, whether it's one copy or 1,000.''

To read the full article, see: Full Story

This is the on-demand publisher's home page:

Print-on-demand could be an option for publishers of
numismatic literature, since the audience is very small
compared to the mainstream publishing world. Today, I
only have one such book in my library - an as-told-to
book about the life of coin dealer Edwards Gans of
Numismatic Fine Arts (the original firm, not the
incarnation Bruce McNall ran before being jailed).

Part of a university oral history project, Gans was
interviewed and the sessions were transcribed to text.
I ordered the book from the university. It's a very rare title
in the world of numismatic literature, yet anyone wanting
a copy could go to the publisher and order their own. -Editor.


While some groups work to ban the motto "In God We Trust"
from U.S. coins and paper money, other groups are working
to expand its use.

"The national statement of faith, "In God We Trust," has been
appearing on coins since 1864, and has been the country's
motto since 1956. But should it be appearing in each of
Pennsylvania's tens of thousands of public classrooms?

A proposed law, now awaiting action in the state House,
would require the motto to appear in every public school
classroom, auditorium and cafeteria in Pennsylvania."

"The "In God We Trust" campaign new to Pennsylvania,
but not to other states. Legislatures in South Carolina,
Virginia, Mississippi, Ohio, Utah and Louisiana, among
others, have either approved the display of the motto in
public classrooms, or have at least discussed such measures."

To read the full article, see: Full Story


Martin Purdy of New Zealand writes: "A few comments
on Dick Johnson's item last week, just to offer some
adjustments or personal views here and there. First, the
word "dime" isn't used in New Zealand, except when talking
about American coins, so our smallest coin after October
next year (when the old coins are demonetised) will be
called the 10c piece.

[NOTE: I borrowed the headline used in the National
Business Review article referenced by Dick, so I'll take the
blame for this. The full headline was "The dime is the new
penny: RBNZ changes coin structure." -Editor]

The $1 and $2 coins are in aluminum-bronze, not

I don't believe it's correct to say that all transactions MUST
be in multiples of 10c after July 2006; just as now, they don't
have to be in multiples of 5c. Goods may still be priced to 99c,
and if you pay your bill by credit card or direct debit (as about
90% of transactions are these days), you pay exactly that
amount. It's only if you tender cash that the bill will be rounded
up to $1 or whatever the nearest multiple is. Likewise if you
buy five items at 99c at the moment, you pay $4.95 (5 x 99c)
either by cash or credit at the moment, not $5 (5 x $1). After
next year the same principle will apply, though the rounding
will be different: ten items at 99c will still be $9.90 (10 x 99c),
not $10 (10 x $1).

It isn't unprecedented, either - what about countries like
Denmark, where small coins have progressively been phased
out to the point where the smallest denomination is 25 ore?
One of our numismatic colleagues, who may be on this list, told
me that when Denmark still had a 10-ore stamp (but no 10-ore
coins any more) he tried to buy a single one from the post office
and was thrown out for his trouble!

While I'm not completely happy having 10c NZ - about
USD 0.07 - as our smallest coin (it must be one of the
highest-value "smallest" coins in the world), it's probably quite
overdue in terms of spending power. As I understand it, the
50c coin these days has, at most, the spending power of about
5c in 1967, when decimal coinage was introduced here, so 10c
= 1c, which was our smallest coin at the time. By the same
token, however, our smallest banknote *should* henceforth be
$10 (= $1 in 1967), not $5 as at present, and we should also
have a $1000 note! Our largest paper denomination has in
theory never changed: given the two-for one changeover in
1967, the £50 note that was originally issued in 1934 is the
"same" as the $100 today, though our present note will
represent only a small fraction of the earlier note's
commercial value.

Here's a link to the TV News video from March 31 -
have fun with the NZ accents!
TV News video

The Reserve Bank of NZ announced its proposal late last year
and called for submissions from the public and other interested
parties; the changes announced on March 31 look exactly like
the original proposal as far as I can see, strangely enough!

Thanks for the title of the NBR article, which I've just looked
up. Dr Bollard's comments about spending power being under
a tenth of 1967 values confirm my understanding. As for the
words "dime" and "penny", I can only think that the writer was
aiming at a US audience (or is himself an American??), as
neither of those terms is ever used in this country for the ten
and one-cent pieces.

As an aside, there is quite some fuss about what will happen
to our postal charges, as the cost of sending a standard letter
is 45c. Will it go up or down? I wrote in one of our local
papers a few months ago that you just have to buy two
stamps and you can have them for the correct price! People
forget that back in 1967 we had 2½c stamps but no ½c coin,
and people managed somehow. "


Dick Johnson writes: "The Reserve Bank of India has
pleaded with the Indian government to please stop striking
small-denomination coins. India, which has a long history of
low value coins, has four mints striking the country’s coin of
the realm. The bank states it is "faced with a problem of
plenty ... small-denomination coins."

News article: Full Story

Website: Website


Henry Scott Goodman writes: "I have been a silent E-Sylum
partner for nearly a year now and thought I would write to ask
if you can include the following information in the next E-Sylum:

Gunter W. Kienast recently transferred to me the copyright title
of his two reference books, 'The Medals of Karl Goetz' and
'Goetz II: A Supplement to The Medals of Karl Goetz' I am
an avid Goetz collector and I intend to digitally recreate parts
of both books on my website,

Currently I only have a web gallery on the site to display some
of my collection but have plans to make it a full-fledged Karl
Goetz website in the near future. If anyone has any copyright
questions, suggestions for developing the website, or information
pertaining to unpublished Goetz material feel free to contact me
at this email address: archy2 at

[Scott's web site is already jam-packed with excellent images
of Goetz medals; I'd recommend taking a look, particularly
those who have a broadband connection to the web. -Editor]


Michael J Savinelli writes: "I recently heard a story on NPR
about "Noney currency". The concept seems interesting,
especially since our current currency is not backed by any
particular asset. Here is an excerpt from the Noney website:

"Noney is a new currency, with each note being a hand-drawn,
hand-printed and hand-signed piece of art. Each note can also
be traded for things. Like all money, Noney is for people to
circulate. The result is a combination of public art, performance
art and printmaking. Obadiah Eelcut draws prints and issues
Noney. In 2003, Noney entered worldwide circulation
through a series of release events in Providence, Rhode Island."

"While Noney notes have the same basic dimension, look and
feel of government-issued money, they don't resemble any
other currency. Noney is a new design. Ten different faces
show people of Rhode Island with their favorite bird and
favorite vegetable. These people entered a contest to appear
on Noney, and represent a variety of lives and professions.
Among them are a painter, a community advocate, a librarian,
a photographer, a waiter and musicians."

"Each Noney note has the same denomination: zero. This
doesn't mean each note has no value... just relative value.
There's no fixed exchange rate or location of operation.
Noney's worth as both art and currency is something to
negotiate through each individual transaction - anywhere."

More information on Noney can be found at: More INfo "


The "Noney" notes are reminiscent of the work of money
artist J.S.G. Boggs. I exhibited my collection of Boggs
works at the 2004 ANA World's Fair of Money in
Pittsburgh last summer. I called Boggs just before the
show. He had been scheduled to be in town that week
for an event at Carnegie-Mellon University, but was unable
to make it. He'd been involved in a car accident and
shattered his femur. He was in pain and undergoing
physical therapy.

Although Boggs hasn't been active in numismatic circles
in recent years, he has been busy. He spent a lot of time
living in Germany, and was commissioned to do a large
work at Babson College in Massachusetts.

>From a Babson press release: "JSG (just some guy) Boggs,
known as the “Money Artist”, will officially unveil his new
digital artwork entitled, All The World Is A Stage, at Babson
College Friday, March 26th, 2004.

The massive 12’ X 22’ archival panel weighs over 700 pounds
and took five people and a hydraulic lift to move into its final
resting place in Babson’s Richard W. Sorenson Center for the Arts.

Boggs made Babson’s student lounge area his home for three
years because he likes to take in the environment and culture of
the people that inhabit the space. His "office" was piles of empty
print cartridges, numerous computers, printers and scissors."

"The official unveiling of JSG Bogg’s All The World Is A Stage
is at Babson College, the Wellesley, Mass. business school that
commissioned the work. All The World Is A Stage perfectly
embodies a famous quote from Publius Syrus (42 B.C.), “Money
alone sets all the world in motion.”

"The work, purchased at a cost of $250,000 with private funding,
joins other prominent public collections that include the Museum
of Modern Art, NY, The British Museum, London, the Smithsonian,
Washington, D.C., The Chicago Art Institute, Chicago, IL, among
many others."



Roger Burdette writes: "The comments about Victor Brenner's
original cent design were most interesting and tie in with the "middle"
of my three research books on the 1907-1921 coinage designs.
(The other two, available in July and November respectively,
cover the silver coins of 1916 & 1921, and gold coins of 1907-08.)
Artistic dissatisfaction with Brenner's Lincoln design is evident in
original Mint and related correspondence as early as 1909 and
continues for at least the next 45 years. In 1910 Director Andrew
mentioned dissatisfaction by artists with the tiny portrait. Director
Roberts commented in 1911 about there being too much "bust
and not enough Lincoln". He also encouraged Jim Fraser to pursue
a new Lincoln portrait in 1911 (along with the Indian and Bison),
and felt there was sufficient interest in replacing Brenner's work
that Treasury Secretary MacVeagh was willing to support the
necessary legislation. The Buffalo nickel project side-tracked
this efforts. Director Ross disliked Brenner's "reduced medal" and
in 1952 had pattern cents struck using Fraser's revised Lincoln
portrait and and Oak Tree reverse. (See the Joseph Lepczyk
1982 sale catalog illustrating the models.) The proposed change
was abandoned with the Republican presidential victory since
Ross would soon be leaving office.

Reverting to Brenner's original would do little for the cent except
sharpen die work. Artistically, Brenner's design is the weakest
of all the new designs by outside artists from 1907-1921. All
Brenner did was to shrink his Lincoln centennial commemorative
desk medal set (made by Gorham - reverse legend "Preserve,
Protect, Defend") and replace the date "1809" with "Liberty."
The portrait resembles a dozen other medallic portraits of
Lincoln made for the commercial market, any one of which
could have been used on the cent.

Jim Fraser commented in early 1922: the purpose of the new
designs (Saint-Gaudens, and others that followed) was to raise
the art on America's coinage beyond the ordinary in its
suggestiveness and richness. That, I think, should still be the
goal - an American coinage that expresses the highest ideals
of artistry and creativity possible on these small, metal tokens
of value. Each coin conveys to our people and to the world
the meaning of America. If Abe Lincoln's portrait on the
one-cent coin conveys in some manner that meaning, then let
it be created by the best of our contemporary sculptors, not
by imitating the ordinary and mediocre, or copying the past."


Speaking of Lincoln cents, the following topic came up at
a dinner conversation Tuesday before a local coin club meeting.
The key to the series is the 1909-S V.D.B. cent, with the
initials of designer Victor David Brenner, which were removed
midyear following a controversy. I had been unaware of this,
but varieties exist of the 1910 cent with traces of the V.D.B.
initials. David Lange's "The Complete Guide To Lincoln Cents"
notes that on 1910 Philadelphia cents, "Vestigal traces of the
letters V.D.B. may yet turn up from leftover 1909 V.D.B.
reverse dies which were only partly effaced." As for the 1910-S
cents, Lange notes, "Specimens have been reported having
vestigal traces of the letters V.D.B. It's not clear whether these
letters remained on the working die or the working hub, but the
former is more likely."

Also, last week I commented that we might hear counterclaims
of other coins minted consistently for 100 years, and gave the
Maria Teresa thalers as one example. Ray Flanigan writes:
"Two thoughts about the Maria Teresa
a) I'm not sure it was produced EVERY year
b) Over 350 Billion copies of Brenner's work have been
produced so far - making it the most reproduced piece of art
the world has ever known."


Dick Johnson writes: "The article in the Lithuanian numismatic
group’s newsletter, "The Knight," the April 11th Coin World,
and last week’s E-Sylum all indicated that Victor D. Brenner’s
gravesite was lost. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We must give credit, however, to this author for photographing a
nd publishing the photo of the headstone and for his energy in
tracking this down.

The gravesite location was known to a small group of Brenner
aficionados, including Michael Turoff, a noted VDB collector.
Most recently it was also known to a contributing editor of
Vanity Fair, David Margolick, who has written a rather lengthy
article (even longer than typical Vanity Fair length, as yet
unpublished) on the American coin sculptor. When queried,
Dave emailed me: "It seems to me there was no mystery about
where it was; the stories at the time [of Brenner’s death]
described where he was to be or was actually buried. So while
this fellow may be the first person to visit the gravesite recently,
I don't think it ever 'disappeared.' "

This illustrates an important point for numismatic authors – to
fully research your subject. Learn everything about your subject.
Be careful about making statements that can be easily disproved.
Ask around. Find out who in the field is really knowledgeable
about the subject. Learn what you can from them. Dig deep.
Do your best numismatic scholarship.

I have learned in 40 years in the numismatic literary field that
numismatists are proud of the information they have gleaned
about their specialty. They are often glad to tell you what you
want to know, often anxious that a writer is finally going to
put this in print. (The only holdouts, I learned, where those
who were planning to write their own article or book.)

But who to ask to learn more information you might ask?

(1) Start with the librarians at the two major coin organizations,
American Numismatic Society and American Numismatic
Association. Sorry, Frank and Nancy, for sending more work
your way. These two overworked professional individuals
often know who has been researching what subject recently,
but more important who has written on the subject in the past.
But you must ask them, they are not going to volunteer the
information unless you ask first.

(2) National coin dealers. They often know who is active in
a selected subject. Not the local coin dealer, but one who is
savvy about the entire field, goes to all the conventions,
knows everybody in the field, who perhaps is a writer himself.
(Gad, I just described Dave Bowers.) But others may know
the information as well. Ask around. Network.

(3) Editors of the numismatic publications. They often know
who is working in what garden in the vast numismatic field.
Include E-Sylum’s own Wayne Homren in this group.

(4) Officers of the NLG, the Numismatic Literary Guild.
They know who is writing, but not always on what subject.
(Many are staff writers on coin publications who write, of
course, on a variety of subjects.)

(5) Me. I have a databank of over 3,300 American coin
and medal engravers, diesinkers, medalists and sculptors.
Email me. Convince me you are researching or writing for
a legitimate purpose. I will furnish a brief biography, list of
work and bibliographical references. My rules are this: I
will email back only if less than six lines; over six lines I
photocopy and send to a mailable address. You cannot
give the photocopy to anyone else; it must be for your own
use. More than five pages I charge a small fee (mostly for
postage). Some artists are embargoed because of file size;
Brenner, for example, is 40 pages long. dick.johnson at "


The April 13th Coin Galleries sale features a pair of obverse/
reverse bronze foundry casts of a proposed Washington quarter
design from the 1932 design competition. The designer isn't listed,
but it's a beautiful coin design. Can anyone shed more light on
who might have designed it? Was a list of the contest entrants
ever published? My guess is that this piece was designed by Laura
Gardin Fraser. I asked Roger Burdette about the competition, and
he responded:

"Parts of the 1931-32 quarter competition files exist in NARA
holdings in College Park, MD. I have only gone through the files
briefly, but did note that Treasury did not want to consider a
commemorative because President Hoover said he would veto
any commemorative coin legislation. However, the president also
said he would support replacing the Standing Liberty quarter,
which was unpopular with Treasury officials due to poor wearing

It may be possible to identify the "Foundry Quarter" artist by
checking the competition correspondence. Many of the letters
have drawings on them or attached, and some include long
descriptions. The casts would have cost about $25 each, so I
suspect the artist was someone in the mainstream of active
sculptors. The eagle seems a little "odd" to me - almost a
hybrid of Art Deco and classical, especially in the feather work."

[While confirming the spelling of Laura Fraser's middle name,
a web search located a page with several nice photos of
her and her husband James Earle Fraser, designer of the original
Buffalo nickel. The page is on the web site for the collection of
the James Earle Fraser & Laura Gardin Fraser Studio Papers
at the Donald C. & Elizabeth M. Dickinson Research Center,
which serves as the library and archives of the National Cowboy
& Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OK.

>From the web site: "The records, reflected in this guide, are those
that were included in the acquisition of items from the Frasers’
Westport, Connecticut studio in 1968. The studio collection
also included heroic-size plaster statues, plaster models of medals
and coins, studio furniture, filing cabinets, artist tools, and books.
The collection was acquired in order to re-create a studio as a
memorial to the Frasers with the statue End of the Trail as its
centerpiece. Other statuary includes Meriwether Lewis, William
Clark, Daniel Boone, John James Audubon, Abraham Lincoln,
General Robert E. Lee, and General Stonewall Jackson.

Library items were cataloged and incorporated into the Center’s
library holdings. The papers, though incomplete, do convey
important information about these artist's lives and careers."

"Among the added materials were photocopied documents from
the James Earle & Laura Gardin Fraser Papers, 1872 - 1967
held by Syracuse University. "

Follow these links to the images and the archive home page.
One image is of Laura Gardin Fraser working on the clay model
for the Better Babies medal, created for Woman's Home
Companion magazine, ca. 1913. I'd never heard of this medal
until now - does it turn up in the numismatic marketplace?


The archive consists of 17 cubic feet of material! -Editor]


Dick Hanscom of Fairbanks, AK writes: "Years ago, I had a token
made by, I think, Charles Arceneaux. Does anyone have an email
contact or mailing address for him? Thanks very much."


Geoffrey Bell writes: "A couple of newsletters back Jim Barry
asked about the Exhibitor medal issued at the 1851 Crystal
Palace Exhibition in London, England. He noted that he had
located one with "United States # ---"on the edge. All exhibitors
were given these medals as a thank you for exhibiting. If the
Exhibitor was American, the edge read, "United States # 40"
for example. This was true of exhibitors from all participating
countries. If one wishes to identify who the exhibitor was,
simply go to the official catalogue of the exhibition and the
number and exhibitor is listed. The trick is to find the catalogue
but some better quality libraries have the volume in their
antiquarian book section."


Daniel Kurt Ackermann writes: "My reason for e-mailing this
week is to ask E-Sylum subscribers if they know of any sources
that list ancient coins in the collections of prominent Renaissance
artists. I am working towards my MA in Architectural History
at UVa and am working on a paper linking depictions of
ancient monuments on coins to re-creations of those monuments
in drawings. Any help will be greatly appreciated. Feel free to
contact me either at my Heritage address
DanielA at or at UVa DKA5d at "


On April 5th, Reuters published an article headlined,
"China's Tomb-Sweeping Day Joins Internet Age"

"Chinese burned virtual candles and incense, sent digital
flowers and set fire to paper cell phones on Tuesday as
modern technology changes the way the ancient Qing Ming
Tomb-Sweeping Day is celebrated.

Tomb-Sweeping Day is a traditional holiday when people
honor their ancestors and flock to cemeteries, but many
young Chinese consider conventional ceremonies like setting
off firecrackers, burning real incense and paper and making
offerings of food and drink as passe, Xinhua news agency said.

"Internet mourning, such as on the 'online cemetery', where
virtual candles or joss-sticks are lit and virtual flowers are sent,
is in fashion, saving millions of people of Chinese origin the
trouble of traveling long distances in order to sweep tombs
for their ancestors," it said."

To read the full article, see: Full Story

Among the traditional items burned is what is known as
"Hell Money" There is a nice, illustrated web page on a
web site describing the "Adventures of a Big White Guy
living in Hong Kong"

"In China, the word Hell doesn't carry the same negative
connotation as western Hell. The popular story has it that
zealous Christian missionaries warned all non-Christian
Chinese they'd "go to Hell" upon death.

In a classic case of misinterpretation, the Chinese believed
Hell was the English term for the Afterlife. The word was
incorporated and printed on the traditional Chinese Afterlife
Monetary Offerings, otherwise known as Hell Bank Notes.
Some refer to the notes as Spirit Money.

I love the denominations. This first set shows the highest dollar
amount I've found yet: $8 billion."

"Hell Bank Notes come bundled in various numbers,
depending on the currency. The paper ranges from smooth
and thin to coarse and thick. The huge denomination notes
were printed on low-grade paper."

"It doesn't matter, as they're made to be burned. The Chinese
believe that when someone dies, his spirit goes to the afterlife,
where it lives on, doing much the same things it did in life.
Surviving relatives want to send gifts to make the afterlife as
comfortable as possible. Aside from intricate paper objects
such as houses, cars, clothing, watches, mobile phones,
appliances and even domestic helpers, Hell Bank Notes are
most popular. Burning sends them on their way."

To read the full article, see: Full Story

Another good discussion of the topic is found at this site:

"The Anthropology of Money in Southern California is an
exhibition of the uses of money and money-like objects in the
cultural, religious or ritual practices of various communities
of Los Angeles and Orange Counties. It was created from
original research conducted by the students in an undergraduate
class at the University of California at Irvine, on the anthropology
of money (Anthropology 125S) in the Fall of 2004."

"The use of spirit money (also known as hell money or heaven
money) in observing different rituals is deeply rooted in Asian
culture. Archaeological evidence of “fake/spirit money” can be
seen as far back as circa 1000 B.C. Imitations of money in the
form of stones and bones (along with cowrie shells) were
found in tombs. In the Spring and Autumn periods, archaeologists
have found evidence of imitation metal money. The imitation
metal money was thin and fragile, made of lead and bronze.
There were also imitations in clay of gold plaques. Initially,
archaeologists believed that imitations were for the poor;
however, that belief changed when they discovered imitation
money in the tombs of the wealthy."

"Spirit money itself has many different uses; however, it is used
generally as a symbol of transformation, increase in reproduction,
and payment of spiritual debts. The notes used as “money” are
transformed to spirit money when they are used as symbolic
offerings to ghosts, gods, and ancestors. The burning of spirit
money allows for it to be transferred to ghosts, gods, and
ancestors to be used as real currency in the other world."


Dick Johnson forwarded this article, published April 6, 2005
in the Toledo Blade:

"Columbus-based watchdog group called yesterday for Ohio
lawmakers to revamp campaign finance laws following the
news that a prominent Toledo Republican got $50 million in
state money to invest in rare coins.

Catherine Turcer, legislative director for Ohio Citizen Action,
said the investment with local coin dealer Tom Noe is another
reason why state law should require fund-raisers - not just
campaign contributors - to disclose their activities, including
who organized the event and who hosted it."

"Since 1990, campaign finance records kept by the state
show that Mr. Noe has contributed more than $110,000 to
candidates for state offices and to various state Republican
Party committees."

"The bureau said yesterday that in 2003 it received $2.98
million from the Capital Coin deals. The money represents
80 percent of the profit split between the state and the coin
dealers, who kept $744,000.

All told, the state has received profit of $13.2 million since
1998, while Mr. Noe and his partners have split $3.3 million.

The coin funds have generated profits of between 1.4 percent
and 11 percent to the state since its inception.

Most of the bureau's other investments - mainly in bonds and
stock funds - lost money in some years."

Full Story


[I am not making this up - it's from a recent press release. -Editor]

"Young Hollywood, chart-topping music artists and professional
athletes, who now show off with expensive cars, lavish homes,
and flashy jewelry, might want to take a look into investing into rare
coins as their next source of bling."

"There really is a 'cool' factor to investing in rare coins," says
Ken Smaltz, owner of K. Smaltz, Inc. one of the top coin
dealers and first African American-owned dealer in the
United States.

"Smaltz is hoping celebrity coin collectors like actor James
Earl Jones, comedian Bill Cosby, hockey icon Wayne Gretzky,
Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss and film director Penny
Marshall, catch the attention of the bling audience to kick this
investment trend into high gear."

"Bling doesn't have to mean purchasing massive amounts
of liabilities with limited value. Bling can be a new way high
earning individuals utilize their capital to purchase assets
with appreciating value that can be passed down from
generation to generation," says Smaltz."

The full press release can be found at: Full Story

[We've discussed celebrity coin collectors in previous E-Sylum
issues, but this is the first reference I've seen to Bill Cosby as a
collector. Has anyone else heard this? What does he collect?

And what about the claim of being the "first African American-
owned dealer in the United States"? Is this truly a first? Surely
there must have been another. Can anyone give us an example?


This week's featured web site is that of the Canadian
Association of Token Collectors. From the web site:

"The Canadian Association of Token Collectors was
founded in 1972 by Ken Palmer and 49 other collectors
to serve the purposes of all collectors of Canadian tokens.
Over 30 years later the original journal, "The Canadian
Token" is now known as "Numismatica Canada" but the
mandate of serving the collector has not changed.
Numismatica Canada is published four times a year."

  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.

PREV        NEXT        V8 2005 INDEX        E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

NBS Home Page    Back to top

NBS ( Web