The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 8, Number 29, July 10, 2005:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2005, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Mr Chellappa Chandra and
Michael Rae. Welcome aboard! We now have 769 subscribers.

At the suggestion of Nick Graver, I will now publish our subscriber
count with each issue. I'll also take this opportunity to expand
the section to include occasional comments about the issue or
general topics of interest. Thus, the "Subscriber Update" is now
the "Editor's Corner." Sorry I couldn't think of a more original
title, but I'm open to suggestions.

World events sometimes intrude on numismatics. Following
the September 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S., we published
a number of items of how numismatists in New York were
affected. How have this week's bomb attacks in London
affected our friends there? Please write to let us know -
we hope all is well.

As an editor I relish the ability of e-mail to quickly get the
word out on important events. We rarely stray from the
weekly E-Sylum publishing schedule, but occasionally we
publish an interim issue. This week brought an interim issue
with news of the death of John J. Ford, Jr., bibliophile and
numismatist extraordinaire who was a longtime friend of NBS.
As Dave Bowers notes, Ford was not an uncontroversial
figure, but as the catalogues of his library attest, his love for
numismatic literature was both immense and contagious.
One of the true greats of our hobby is gone, but hopefully
some of his passion lives on in all of us.


NBS President Pete Smith writes: "I look forward to seeing
many of our NBS members at the upcoming ANA convention
in San Francisco. Most of the time I will be stuck behind a
dealer's table (Tables 622/721) but I will be happy to have
the chance to talk to members.

The NBS Symposium is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on Thursday,
July 28, in room 3003 of the Moscone [West] Center. Our
speakers will be Nancy Oliver and Rich Kelly. They wrote
"A Mighty Fortress" about the San Francisco Mint and a more
recent book on coiner Joseph Harmstead.

Our NBS General Meeting will be on Friday, July 29, in room
2012. We will announce the results of our election and hear
reports from officers. Our guest speaker will be Nancy Green,
talking about recent developments at the ANA Library. We
will announce the winners of the annual contest for best article
in The Asylum.

Part of our program each year is a benefit auction of items
donated by members. You may drop off items before the
auction or send them to one of our officers to bring to the sale.
Proceeds of donated items are used to keep NBS membership
fees low."


Fred Lake writes: ""Lake Books reminds everyone that their
mail-bid sale #80 of numismatic literature closes on Tuesday,
July 12, 2005 at 5:00 PM (EDT). The sale may be viewed at:
Current Sale

Selections from the library of J. H. Cline and other consignors
are featured with of fine assortment of reference books on
United States numismatics and Paper Money.

Bids may be placed by email, telephone or FAX prior to
the closing."


Nick Graver writes: "I forwarded last week's E-Sylum
issue to: A golfer who might enjoy the Nicklaus on currency
story, another who is expert in French photo history, for the
BN library irregularities, and another friend who is a graduate
of Lafayette and will enjoy the last story. That might be the
most forwarded E-S for a while. I often forward them to

[This is a great way for us to pick up new subscribers.
Please forward The E-Sylum to friends you feel may enjoy
it and encourage them to sign up. There's always room
for one more at the party. -Editor]


Dick Johnson writes: "Paper money is the main product of the
U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing now, since it stopped
printing postage stamps June 10, 2005. Private printers will
now supply all stamps for the United States Postal System
and the BEP will "concentrate on printing currency."

After 111 years of producing postage stamps as "security certificates"
BEP does not consider them on the same level now as currency
requiring the tight security in the federal plants. U.S. Postal Service
officials say will save tens of millions of dollars a year.

"The Postal Service actually began to chip away at the government
printing with a contract that gave some commemorative stamps to
private printers in 1978. The private printers' share of stamp production
grew steadily and accelerated when the agency turned to self-adhesive
stamps in the early 1990s."

[The following are excerpts from a June 13 Washington Post
article Dick forwarded. -Editor]

"The federal government printed its last postage stamps Friday."

"Workers pulled a final roll of 37-cent flag stamps from an aging,
four-color Andreotti press on the fourth floor. That simple act
terminated a once-thriving business that the Treasury Department
agency had monopolized for decades."

"For Washington's 60 remaining stamp printers and many stamp
collectors, Friday marked a sad transition. Lawrence T. Graves,
one of BEP's senior stamp officials, called it "bittersweet . . .
a sad day."

"It's the end of an era that reflected some of finest workmanship
in government stamp design and security printing worldwide,"
said Rob Haeseler, an official of the American Philatelic Society,
the nation's largest organization for stamp collectors. Finances
and what BEP Director Thomas A. Ferguson said was a decision
to no longer treat stamps like currency led postal officials away
from the hand-engraved stamps that were the bureau's hallmark
and toward cheaper, lithographed stamps."

"When the end approached, the bureau arranged buyouts,
retirements and currency printing jobs for the stamp printers.
They decided against a final ceremony, fearing it might prove
"too maudlin," said Ferguson, who began his bureau career more
than 30 years ago as a stamp quality expert."

"Ironically, many of the stamps the bureau printed last week
may never be sold.

If the Postal Service wins its recent request for a two-cent hike
to a 39-cent stamp, to be effective early next year, Hudson said,
there will no need for the bureau's last stamp run."

To read the full story, see: Full Story


Dave Kellogg writes: "You compiled a wonderful tribute
(Vol. 8, # 28, July 8, 2005) to John J. Ford, Jr., a man I
had heard of but never met. I look forward to more
contributions from E-Sylum readers."

George Fuld writes: "Some of my recollections on John Ford
were published in the Stack's Part IV Ford sale. He was a friend
of many years standing as I was his first customer at New
Netherlands in 1950, the week before he was hired by Charles
Wormser. I only echo the thought that if he had put in writing
more of his vast knowledge, his written memory would be
unbelievable. Simply, an era has passed."

Fred Lake writes: "My favorite John J. Ford reminiscence is
the time at an NBS meeting when John showed the "slabbed"
catalog of the Herman Halpern Paper Money sale catalog
from Stack's.

John had received two copies with somewhat bent corners
or other problems. He had called Martin Gengerke (at Stack's)
and requested a perfect copy.

Martin put a fresh catalog between two sheets of Plexiglas,
duct-taped the edges and sent it to John.

Ford proudly showed this to the NBS attendees and I was
lucky enough to get a picture of a beaming John with his "prize".

More to the story....I carefully printed an 8x10 print of the
picture, carefully framed it, packed it in bubble wrap, put it
in a box and placed the mailing label on it. However, prior to
placing all the contents in the box, I ran it over with my trusty
Toyota truck so that the dirty tire tracks were quite evident.
I even cracked the glass in the frame so that John would have
something to bitch about.

John, ever kindly, sent me a copy of my picture in another
frame that is inscribed "To Fred Lake, a man who recognizes
a Pioneering Effort when he sees one."

John was a pioneer in his own right."

Dan Hamelberg writes: "I can recall a John Ford story
regarding my quest to complete all the plated Chapman catalogs.
At the Cincinnati ANA, John brought a plated Sleicher with
the 6 plates bound in at the end. As I recall, he was either
going to sell it or loan it to Del Bland for Del's ongoing research.
I got to John first. I convinced him that the plated Sleicher
would be just fine in my library, and that I would be happy to
loan it to Del for his research. As we negotiated a price, John
told me the "story about the Sleicher". It was about the time
he moved to Arizona, and the books in his library had be
shipped ahead of time. When he arrived at his new home, he
discovered that there had been a break in, and a few of the
boxes of books had been ripped open with a sharp object.
The Sleicher was near the top of one of the boxes ripped open.
The sharp object (probably a knife) had gone thru a few of the
pages with plates, but none of the coin images were affected.
So John prepared a paste-paper mixture, and carefully repaired
the small tears that were between the coin images on the plated
pages in the rear of the Sleicher. The work was completed in
typical John Ford fashion---perfect as usual. I could not tell
where the repairs were made. Later at the ANA, after I had
acquired the Sleicher from John, I saw Del. News travels fast
at major coin conventions, and Del asked me about the Sleicher.
We shared a good laugh on my "intercept purchase" and I gave
the Sleicher to Del for him to continue his research, and told
him to send it back to me whenever he was finished.

I have written up the story of the Sleicher as above, and tipped
it into the actual catalog for future bibliophiles. John was the
ultimate perfectionist, and the Sleicher repair was just one story
of many that highlighted "his way". We all owe a great debt
to John for "his way". He accumulated and preserved a great
collection of numismatic material as the recent Stacks and Kolbe
sales illustrate. We will all miss him."

Tom Fort, editor of our print journal, writes: "Naturally, the
Summer issue of The Asylum should contain tributes to Ford.
Thus, if anyone would like to publish one or know someone who
would like to publish one, I will need the completed text by
1 August."

[Tom's email address is etfort at -Editor]


With permission, below are a few excepts from Q. David
Bowers' essay on John Ford from the recent Kolbe catalog
of the Ford Library Part II sale:

"Briefly, JJF is one of the most important, most influential
figures in American numismatics. It is an irony that John has
not been inducted into the ANA Hall of Fame, nor did he
appear on the list of “Numismatists of the Century” compiled
by COINage magazine, from a survey conducted a few years
back. While the COINage survey is history, I herewith nominate
JJF to the ANA Board of Directors for inclusion in the Hall
of Fame. And yet, JJF has had his share of controversy. The
“situation” concerning certain Western ingots and assay bars is
still a matter of study and debate—and must be mentioned here,
lest readers overlook the main thrust of this article and wonder
why I didn’t mention it. So there! John might be but a footnote
in numismatics today, had he not miraculously walked away
from an airplane crash in the late 1940s.

Returning to the “most influential” part, JJF single-handedly
revolutionized the techniques of American coin catalogues—
introducing, with the help of Walter Breen, many comments
about history, mintage techniques, numismatic tradition, and
more. If you are in the slightest doubt of this, take a New
Netherlands catalogue from, say, 1955, and compare it with
the catalogues of anyone else. There is no comparison in
readability or the transmitting of information."

"In the 1950s, basic information about rare coins was difficult
to locate easily, apart from what might be found in the current
edition of the Guide Book. Building a library of old books
(there were not many new ones) was not an option, it was a
necessity for anyone interested in gaining knowledge and
expertise. Most dealers were not interested in such things,
which provided great advantages for those who were."

"John was a virtual walking encyclopedia of numismatic
knowledge. It would be very difficult to mention anything in
the American or Canadian series for which he did not have

"I made it a point to attend most of the New Netherlands sales
in New York City in the mid-1950s. At one particular event
there was a marvelous collection of Hard Times tokens,
anchored by multiple examples of the rare variety known as
Low-1, with the portrait of Andrew Jackson. John Ford was
after some of these for his own account, and so was Donald
Miller, the latter also being a fine friend of mine, and an attorney
from Indiana, Pennsylvania.

This particular sale was held high on the penthouse terrace of a
New York City hotel, in which there were meeting rooms and
also a bar, a setting ideal for a wedding reception or some other
event. Don had a few drinks too many, and while passing a
$500 bill around to the bar patrons to whet their interest and
curiosity, found to his consternation that it had disappeared—
nowhere in sight, no one knew where it was. To this day it is
probably still missing.

Miller was after one of the rarer sub-varieties of Low-1, as
was Ford. I don’t remember all the details, but whatever
happened, the two became involved in a vicious argument and
shouting match on the open terrace outside of the bar. Miller
grabbed Ford and pushed him against a low wall at the side
of the terrace, with the street visible many floors below. A
great struggle took place, and it seemed that Ford was about
to be thrown to eternity, when a bunch of bystanders, including
me, rushed to the scene and pulled Miller away, in effect saving
Ford. If Ford had nine lives and used one up in the airplane
accident, a second was used here! Luckily, calmness soon
prevailed and the auction continued as planned. "


John and Nancy Wilson, Ocala, FL write: "Over the past few
weeks our hobby has lost two tremendous numismatists,
Robert Kutcher and Leonard Saunders. Both of them were
close friends of ours and we are very saddened with their passing.

Robert Kutcher was a CSNS Board Member, who I (John)
had the honor of serving with on that Board. He was a collector,
exhibitor, researcher, coin club officer and wrote numerous articles
on many different subjects. Besides serving in the military and
collecting some issues from that area, he was a tremendous
student of ancient coins. He brought them to CSNS shows
and shared his collection and knowledge with anyone who was
interested in that area of our hobby. Bob was also an expert at
exhibiting and won many major awards at coin shows around
the country.

Leonard Saunders was a coin dealer and one of the most
friendly and honest dealers in the industry. He was dedicated
to his family and the numismatic hobby. He always had a smile
on his face and a friendly greeting when you stopped by his table
at conventions around the country. His knowledge on coins
and other collectibles was amazing and he utilized it in an
honest and fair manner in making transactions with other dealers
or collectors. Though Leonard had cancer the past six years
and was in pain you would never know it by looking or talking
to him. He was always smiling, cheerful and friendly.

Our prayers and thoughts to both of their families, and your
memories will be with us forever."


Roger deWardt Lane writes "I am having a friend sell my
1,000-volume numismatic library on eBay, a dozen books at
a time. I did not know how to take care of my library, and
there seemed to be no one to tell me how to take care of
the books better.

To my great sadness - many of the books have some foxing
on them, even the rare ones, which I am sure cuts way down
on the value. Living in Florida did not help either, but I am
sure if anyone had discussed the "Care and Protection of
Numismatic Book" I would have done a better job. We
learn from experience - but need to pass on the information
to the next generation of collectors. This might be a great
subject for The E-Sylum."

Coincidentally, Ray Williams writes: "On a colonial study
group, the question arose as to how to get rid of the musty
smell that occurs in old books that might have been improperly
stored. I was wondering if anyone here had any suggestions
that I could share."

[We've covered the topic before, but it's high time we
revisited it. Thoughts and recommendations, anyone?


David Gladfelter caught an amusing typo in Roger deWardt Lane's
story from a long-ago F.U.N. show. Roger wrote: "One of the
tourists turned to the dealer and said, “What does ‘FUN’ stand
for?” The reply was – "Florida United Numismatists." Hearing
this, the visitor said, “What church domination is that?”

David wrote: "Is that Freudian? Some churches are pretty
domineering." I had to read Dave's note a few times before
I caught the spelling error - it should have read, "church
DENOMINATION." Oops - sorry my spell-checker and I
missed that one.


Regarding Katie Jaeger's question about Charles Cushing
Wright, Pete Smith writes: "I have a few comments about
Wright as the first American engraver to do a portrait on
a metal die.

Some of our colonial (pre-federal) coins had portraits
including images of George III, George Washington and
George Clinton. Diesinkers like James Atlee, Joseph
Callendar, William Coley, Benjamin Dudley, and Jacob
Perkins were producing dies for such coinage as early
as 1785.

Wright was probably not the first to do a portrait for a
medal. Peter Getz did a Washington medal (Baker 288)
as early as 1797.

These are examples of the Joel Orosz rule. Whenever a
writer goes "out-on-a-limb" to identify the first example of
something, it provides an opportunity for other writers to
mention earlier examples."

Katie Jaeger writes: "I also had a response from David
Gladfelter mentioning Trested (who was English-born),
Samuel Brooks, Jacob Perkins and Joseph Wright. I'm
beginning to think that CCW was likely the first American
to have his subject sit while he modeled a likeness, and
later engraved it on steel. All those mentioned by Smith
and Gladfelter would have been made from famous portraits
or drawings, while CCW did his from life. I don't think
CCW was the type to make extravagant claims about himself.
He didn't have to!"


Jeff Schwartz writes: "I ran across your article on the Freedom
Tower Silver Dollar. I work for a law firm that is planning to file
a class action lawsuit against the company. If you or any of your
readers purchased one of the coins, we can help. My email address
is: miller4law at "

We first discussed this topic in The E-Sylum v7n46 (November 14,
2004). Here's a link to the original press release from New York
Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office: Full Story

On July 5th, the South Jersey Courier-Post reported that a different
law firm has already filed a class action suit in the matter:

"A federal judge in the Southern District of New York has given
class action status to a lawsuit filed by a Burlington County man
who claims he was defrauded and tricked into the purchase of
"Freedom Tower Silver Dollar" coins."

"In advertising, the $1 coin was described as made of pure silver
recovered from ground zero at the World Trade Center. It also
was described as "a legally authorized government issue silver
dollar" that was legal tender in the U.S."

"The lawsuit describes the advertising campaign as "a shameless
attempt to profit from a national tragedy."

"Instead of being made of pure silver, Spitzer said in court
documents, the medallion is an inexpensive metal alloy plated
with one ten-thousandth of an inch of silver. Its value is about
1.4 cents, Spitzer said."

Full Story


Larry Dziubek writes: "Perhaps my memory needs
"defragged", but you have been talking about the lack
of a Zeb Pike medal. This may or may not be an issue
of concern any longer,but I have had one and still may
have it somewhere. Check out the Hibler-Kappen
book of So-Called Dollars for Numbers 335 thru 339.
This should serve the need for items of historic personalities.


[The following is a note written by David Slocum to Q. David
Bowers. Dave forwarded it to me for The E-Sylum; perhaps
one of our readers can shed light on the two subjects. -Editor]

David Slocum writes: "Recently I acquired about 25 issues of
a curious publication. It is entitled "Philatelic West and Collectors
World". It was published at Superior, Nebraska. My issues
seem to be in the years 1915 and 1916, and November 1915
indicates that it is in Volume sixty-seven. It professes to be for
collectors of stamps, coins, curios and postcards. I notice that
the back cover has the standard ad of B. Max Mehl. The center
sheet, making four pages, consists of photos of curiosities,
collectibles and people.

My small collection of the magazine commences in Oct. 1913.
For that month and the next it is entitled "The West and Collectors
World" and the cover proclaims Numismatics, Stamps, Medals,
Relics, Coins, Curios, Post Cards. It and it's successor title are
published at Superior, Neb. The content is mainly stamps. In
Dec. 1913 it is the "Philatelic West and Collector's World. My
copies carry through until May 1916. I can't say how many
issues there are a year. The volume numbers do not correspond
with the calendar year. They are priced at 10 cents, or 75
cents per year.

I also have a softback version of the Red Book. I say that only
because the cover is red. It is the "New HUB Coin Book of
American & Foreign Coins, 30th Edition". It was published
by I. & M. Ottenheimer of Baltimore. It was entered by Act of
Congress, 1912. I don't know if that was the year of publication
or if you add 30 years to that date.

Any information you might have would be much appreciated."

Dave Bowers writes: "The Philatelic West and Collectors World
may have been widely circulated in its time, but it certainly is
elusive today! It would be interesting to see a copy of one of
the issues.

The “Hub Coin Book,” so called, takes its name from Boston,
the “Hub City,” where at least two people distributed it in the
late 19th and early 20th centuries. Apparently, this could be
ordered with various imprints, and even B. Max Mehl, who
soon had his own Star Rare Encyclopedia, had a “Hub”
catalogue early in his career."

[So - can any of our readers shed further light on these two
publications? I have a few copies of the Hub books in my
library, but never attempted to assemble a set of the various
editions. I was unaware that Mehl had distributed one.


Regarding last week's story on the stolen stamp collection
recovered after 20 years, Nick Graver writes: "A good friend
had part of his stolen coin collection retrieved due to the
inclusion of his specialized Half Dollar varieties. It seems
specialist collectors know about most top collections, and
when certain rare Die-Break and variety combinations appear
on the market, there is only one home in the world that those
exact coins could have come from!"

[That was certainly the case with Jules Reiver and U.S. silver
varieties. I'm sure the same is true of early copper and other
coin varieties. Tracing paper money can be even easier if the
owners record serial numbers. I don't have many U.S. notes
in my collections, but every serial number is dutifully recorded
in a safe place. -Editor]


Hobby publications like Coin World are very much on top of
unfolding events in the Ohio "CoinGate" affair. The Toledo
Blade, whose investigative reports put the spotlight on the
state's coin investments, has been playing catch-up. In a new
article this week, they discuss various clues surrounding the
missing coins, which were once thought to be part of the
stolen duPont collection.

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Arthur Shippee writes: "Coins dating to Queen Victoria and
Napoleon have been found in a trench in Lebanon. Good
luck reading this article noted in The Explorator newsletter -
the article is in Arabic:

Full Story


Arthur Shippee also writes: "Here is an interesting feature on
coins of the Severans (not the 'Septimius family'):

"One of my customers told me that she was trying to interest
her daughter of 25 years in coin collecting. The customer said,
“I told her collecting is all about the story behind the coins.
My daughter told me, ‘It had better be a pretty darn good
story to interest me.’ So that’s why I’m calling you. I need
a coin collection with a great story.”

“What kind of a story do you want?” I asked.

“I’m afraid it’ll have to be a soap opera,” she replied.

Almost immediately the story of the ancient Roman Septimius
family came to mind. I knew part of the story because I had
collected some of the coins, but little did I know just how
convoluted this clan was. The more I researched it, the more
intrigued I became."

To read the full article, see: Full Story


Neil Shafer writes: "Concerning Hans Schulman, I really did
not get to know him very well, but a couple of things may
perhaps be of interest. I do recall visiting his counters at
Gimbels in New York and purchasing a wonderful uncirculated
Proclamation 2R Philippine piece of 1834 for the princely sum
of $35.00. I also had in my collection a crude-looking 8R
piece, rather squarish, with a palm tree on it! It had come from
a Schulman auction, and I was told that sometimes he put such
"items" in his auctions without a word about their authenticity
or provenance. But the most telling part of my story has to do
with one time when I was attending a speech he gave (some
numismatic gathering) and he was questioned about his
sponsorship and manipulation of the Andorra crown of 1960.
During his reply, he indicated surprise that he would be
questioned about it, since he owned only about 75% of the
total issue!"

Henry Bergos writes: "Hans was also related to Moshe Pragger,
who had a table at one of the NY shows in the 1970s. He had
a BU large cent that I was busy drooling on. I asked out of
curiosity how much it was. He told me and I replied that I hadn't
the money. He told me that he would take my check. I called him
a fool. He also had a very sharp sense of humor.

Hans was sitting in a shadow and chimed in. I recognized him and
he said that he would ask 71 people before taking my check; the
size of the ancient Sanhedrin. [the council of seventy-one Jewish
sages who constituted the supreme court and legislative body in
Judea during the Roman period, according to the Wikipedia

I said that they would say not to take my check. My word, yes;
my check, no. We enjoyed a good laugh together; typical of
any time we got together.

His shop in NYC was sold through a non-numismatic auction
house. I knew the company and the auctioneer through my fabric
business. Mike knew/knows nothing about coins. I stood in the
back of the crowd moving my head up or down telling him how
much the stuff should sell for. I didn't get any thing at the sale
and told him to remember my help the next time he sold fabric
to my dad. He did."


Dave Kellogg writes: "I have many books on coins, but my
collection may not qualify as a numismatic library. How do
serious collectors describe a true library? Should books be
contained within a single room, a single bookcase or set of
cases? (Mine tend to move around the house as I peruse
or study them according to current interests.) Should there
be a catalog listing the library's contents? And what form
should a catalog take - just a bibliography or a brief outline
of each book's contents? Perhaps I am like many numismatists,
probably purchasing books as my interest in specific coin
types broadens. After years, a nice series of references builds
up, but does that make it a "library"? Then there are the fringe
topics, each important within its own classification, such as the
classics, historical novels, biographies, etc. Are they legitimate
portions of a numismatic library? Of course the answer is a
library is what the owner makes it, but what is the general
consensus, habit or convention of serious numismatic collectors?

[I would say that to be called a library, a collection of literature
must be organized in some fashion so that reference material
can quickly be found. A catalog is nice, but optional, and so
is having the library all in one room. I suppose there is some
sort of minimum number of books required before you could
call a collection of books a "library," but I have no idea where
to draw the line. I have about 3,000 volumes shelved in and on
about ten bookcases. But at one point I had just a shelf or two
of numismatic books. At what point did it become a "library"?

As for non-numismatic books, I shelf these alongside the
numismatic books they relate to - a book on the Gold Rush
would be shelved next to my books on private and pioneer gold,
for example. I certainly consider these tangential works to be
part of my library, but I recognize that others may not feel the
same. If I were to sell my library I would catalog these right
alongside the "proper" numismatic books, but they might be
a tough sell in the numismatic literature market. As you say,
to each their own.

What do our readers think? -Editor]


Dick Johnson writes: "We have all been exposed last week to
the tenth anniversary hoopla of eBay in every media possible.
EBay’s officials have acknowledged that coins, tokens, medals
were sold in the early days of eBay’s existence. Numismatic
items helped establish it and sustained it all along.

But what started out as a means of people wanting to buy and
sell collectibles has turned into a giant worldwide monster
machine to market merchandise. Something manufactured
yesterday could be listed today. Somehow, the heritage of
collectible items of the past have been overshadowed by items
no different from what’s at Wal-Mart or any department store.

Now eBay claims 300,000 numismatic items are offered at
any time. It has become a mixed blessing. Not all eBay
phenomena has been beneficial. The losers and winners are

Here is an analysis by your writer (who has only 88 recognized
purchases -- but actually closer to 400 because I refuse to play
eBay’s game to report on sellers – thus they don’t tattle on me).


1) UPS and FedEx for moving this stuff around (and FedEx is
now hauling all the U.S. Post Office’s packages).

2) Dealers who can easily locate the one buyer in the world
who will pay the highest price.

3) Antique dealers who are clearing out a lot of stuff
unsold for years.

4) Crooks who have mastered the way to cheat eBay
buyers in many ways from not delivering the goods to
proffering fake items.

5) IRS as this material is sold, often sold again, as
material is churned.

6) Meg Whitman, who knows little about collecting,
but makes $2.9 million a year at the helm of eBay.


1) Unknowledgeable sellers whose material is listed too
high (and get no bids) or too low (and lose potential profits),
often lacking accurate descriptions with little concept of
what they are actually selling.

2) Collectors who are buying unguaranteed or even
fake collectibles.

3) Both eBay sellers and buyers subjected to eBay’s
dictatorial policies and heightened fees.

4) Heirs, inherited stuff often sold at way below its value.

5) Flea market operators as dealers drift away to sell on
eBay in preference to selling person-to-person.

6) Storefront renters as dealers close up shop to operate
out of their homes or less expensive digs.

7) Sellers who cannot type, write grammatically accurate text
–or in all caps–who infuriate literate buyers; or post out-of-focus
pictures which do not reveal detail, or those who charge high
"handling fees" for wrapping and shipping.

After ten years what’s your opinion of eBay?
Good or bad for numismatics?"

[I tend to believe the good outweighs the bad on eBay,
but must admit it's been years since I bothered to browse
the listings - the amount of stuff offered is overwhelming.
I've not bothered to set up automatic searches, but that's
the way to go, if you can narrow down your wants to a
manageable set of keywords. Frauds are rampant, but
buyer beware. Because eBay is such an open environment,
it empowers the do-gooders as much as it does the thieves.
There are regular discussions on other numismatic email
groups about the authenticity and attribution of items offered
on eBay, and last week's story about the recovered stolen
stamp collection shows that material can only stay out of
the limelight for so long - inevitably someone will offer it
up for sale where it can be found. Other thoughts, anyone?


Timothy Grat of The Gallery Mint writes: "I could not resist
the silliness of the Bison Nickel comments, and cannot help
but add my own! If there were to be a die crack that
appeared at the back and below the bison, collectors would
perhaps refer to these as the elusive "5-legged" buffalo!
Anyhow, thanks for your work and keep up the fine job!"


This week's featured web site is recommended by Roger
deWardt Lane, who writes: "I was surfing the web looking
for information on a book on the popes, when I found this
page - John Paul Adams' "Portraits of the Popes on
Their Medals."

Featured Web Site

  Wayne Homren

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  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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