The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

PREV        NEXT        V8 2005 INDEX        E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 8, Number 38, September 4, 2005:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2005, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Kathy Lawrence, John N.
Lupia and William Robins. Welcome aboard! We now have
781 subscribers.

Our lead story is one everyone in the world has been watching
this week, Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans flood. Our
numismatic connection is the fate of the old New Orleans Mint
building - standing on higher ground near the French Quarter,
the mint may have escaped the worst flooding, but winds tore
off part of its roof. Little else is known.

I've been to New Orleans a couple times, and like most tourists
I drove through the beautiful Garden District, had a great meal
at Antoine's, partied along Bourbon Street, and ate beignets at
Cafe du Monde. I'm sure many of our readers have traveled
there at one time or another. This week's unfolding events
seemed to me to have a surreal, simultaneous, history-in-the-
making and history-repeating-itself theme. Having read David
McCulloch's riviting account of the 1889 Johnstown Flood and
Erik Larsen's 1999 book, "Isaac's Storm : A Man, a Time, and
the Deadliest Hurricane in History" about the 1900 Galveston
flood, those historical events seem so much more real now.
Both have parallels with this weeks' events, in particular, the
Johnstown Flood which, like the failed levee system of New
Orleans, was a product of Man's failed attempt to control
Mother Nature. I highly recommend both books.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


The old U.S. Mint building in New Orleans suffered damage
from Hurricane Katrina this week, but news accounts were very
sketchy and it may be some time before the outside world learns
what has happened. If any of our readers learn some news,
please let us know. The city is inundated with flooding,
electricity may be out for months, and all residents have been
ordered to evacuate. Our thoughts are with the victims and
their families.

An August 29th Associated Press story reported that "In New
Orleans' historic French Quarter of Napoleonic-era buildings
with wrought-iron balconies, water pooled in the streets from
the driving rain, but the area appeared to have escaped the
catastrophic flooding that forecasters had predicted.

On Jackson Square, two massive oak trees outside the 278-
year-old St. Louis Cathedral came out by the roots, ripping
out a 30-foot section of ornamental iron fence and straddling
a marble statue of Jesus Christ, snapping off only the thumb
and forefinger of his outstretched hand."

The old New Orleans Mint building is near Jackson Square.
A National Historic Landmark, the building has served since
1981 as part of the the Louisiana State Museum system.
Since Monday, when Katrina touched land, web sites for the
Museum have been offline.

The Newhouse News Service reported:
"Remarkably, the French Quarter seemed largely untouched.

The neighborhood was among the last to lose power as the
storm strengthened shortly after dawn. After its passage,
pedestrians bought beer through walk-up windows and guests
loitered on second-floor balconies.

Among the only obvious signs of damage: a portion of a wall
collapsed exposing part of the third floor interior of Antoine's
Restaurant, and the U.S. Mint appeared to suffer heavy roof

To read the full story: Full Story

Damage to the Mint building was reported in different ways
by the various new agencies. Here are a couple reports:

"Winds wrested the cooper roof from the Old U.S. Mint on
the eastern edge of the French Quarter and tossed the twisted
metal across several nearby streets." Full Story

"The stately U.S. Mint in the French Quarter, once seized by
the Confederate army, is missing part of its roof. No one knows
what has become of the artifacts inside." Full Story

By Tuesday evening, however, the situation in New Orleans
had worsened considerably. The following quotes are from
Associated Press accounts:

"A full day after the Big Easy thought it had escaped Katrina's
full fury, two levees broke and spilled water into the streets
Tuesday, swamping an estimated 80 percent of the bowl-shaped,
below-sea-level city, inundating miles and miles of homes and
rendering much of New Orleans uninhabitable for weeks or

"On New Orleans' Canal Street, the main thoroughfare in the
central business district, looters sloshed through hip-deep water
and ripped open the steel gates on the front of several clothing
and jewelry stores.

"The looting is out of control. The French Quarter has been
attacked," said Jackie Clarkson, a New Orleans councilwoman.
"We're using exhausted, scarce police to control looting when they
should be used for search and rescue."

To read the full story, see: Full Story

The American Association of Museums web site is a resource
for information about damage to museums in the areas affected
by Katrina:

"(as of 9-2). Kacey Hill, Public Information Director, states that
early reports indicate that the Louisiana State Museum's 9 historic
French Quarter properties have sustained varying degrees of
modest to severe damage as a result of Hurricane Katrina.
Curatorial staff has conducted a preliminary survey of both
facilities and collections for immediate stabilization purposes.
Continuing assessment of conditions is underway, but it is too
soon to fully realize the extent of the site repairs and collection
treatment needed. Museum officials have received numerous
calls from other institutions offering assistance, and look forward
to accepting these generous offers in the weeks and months ahead. "

To read all museum reports, see: Full Story

The above report is vague enough to drive a truck through, but
it's the only official communication I've seen so far about the state
of the old Mint building. Again, if any of you have additional
information, please share it with us. Also, please share with us
any recollections you have of visits to the building. -Editor


Roger deWardt Lane writes: "We in south Florida were the first
to experience the storm. I've lived in Florida for 55 years and
went through my first Hurricane the first week I arrived. Never
had much damage. This time, we had winds and a little rain and
lost our lights for three days (lost everything in the Freezer, etc.).
So we ate out for four days, and was my wife happy.

The reason we survive as nicely as we do over the years, is the
type of construction of our homes and businesses (block and
poured concrete reinforced with steel, roofs tied down). My
house is 44 years old now. All this is because of the experience
the South has been through over the years.

The Gulf coast should copy our Florida building codes when
they start to rebuild. New Orleans, which is a great city, will
have a major problem with the water. They should take a look
at Ft.Lauderdale with its canals which were created to raise the
elevation of the swamp land when the beach city was created.

Our hearts go out to the brave people of New Orleans and
the rest of the Gulf coast."


Dick Johnson writes: "How many millions of coins were
abandoned in New Orleans as the city was evacuated? Did
collectors have to abandon their numismatic collections?
Were New Orleans coin dealers able to remove their inventory
in time? How about the coins that were left in stores, cash
registers and bank vaults?

While we have so many unanswered questions at this time,
the entire city may become a tomb for collectible treasures for
the future. Treasure hunters in a few years' (decades'?) time may
dive into crumbling buildings of the city like they dive into buried
sunken wrecks on the ocean floor in the past.

Meanwhile, coin stories are occurring all over America. School
children are holding "penny drives" to raise money for the relief
of the displaced persons. The best of these stories on the web
this week comes from Florida where they are familiar with hurricane
disasters. Peek at: Full Story

[One report seen on the Colonial Coins mailing list said that a
prominent coin shop in the French Quarter had been looted.


Miles H. Simon writes: "I think The E-Sylum is a terrific
publication. I am amazed that given most of our extremely
busy schedules that the Editor finds the time to issue each
an edition each week.

It is thanks to The E-Sylum that I first became aware of
NBS and membership therein. In my case it was because
of E-Sylum that I joined NBS for what I consider to be very
nominal dues."


A new book of interest to collectors of medals in available,
the first-ever published study of the topic. The book is titled
"The Southern Cross of Honor: Historical Notes and Trial
List of Varieties"

The following is from the author's press release:
60 pgs: 5 ½ x 8 ½: soft covers: 175+ B&W images

- detailed, illustrated history of the Crosses
- 14 varieties cataloged with enlarged illustrations
- 7 reproduction Crosses illustrated and discussed
- Certificates of Eligibility: the 4 types illustrated
- Auction Report
- Over 500 recipients of the 1st Crosses in Athens
and Atlanta; and More

$20.00 + $1.50 Postage
(Dealer Inquiries Invited)

Peter Bertram : PO Box 451421
Atlanta, GA 31145-1421"


The following is from the U.S. Patterns web site: "In October
Whitman Publishing, LLC, will release the ninth edition of Dr. J.
Hewitt Judd's classic United States Pattern Coins, updated with
new research, market prices, and expanded text by Q. David

At 352 pages, the fully illustrated ninth edition is 16 pages longer
than the eighth (published in 2003). Q. David Bowers, the "dean
of American numismatics," with the aid of preeminent experts in
the field, builds upon the strong foundation originally laid by Dr.
Judd in 1959.

Saul Teichman, Robert Hughes, John Gervasoni, Julian Leidman,
and Andy Lustig are among the coin dealers and researchers
who have contributed to the new edition. Hundreds of crisp new
high-resolution photographs complement the text, with many images
provided by the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Foundation, the Smithsonian
Institution, Princeton University, and other premier institutions
that hold these rare coins.

The book includes new appendices that examine pieces struck
outside the Mint; pattern coinage metals; and a gallery of unusual
sets and curiosities. It includes new research on authenticity,
provenance, populations, rarity levels, recent auctions, and
retail values. "

"The book will premier at the Whitman Coin and Collectibles
Expo in Atlanta, October 6. It will be available at coin shops
and bookstores for $29.95."

New Judd Book


Fred Reed's column in the September Bank Note Reporter
devoted a good deal of space to our earlier discussion about
the curious lack of any known photograph of 19th-century
coin dealer W. Elliot Woodward of Boston. Still, no
photos have surfaced.


Darryl Atchison writes: "As we are doing the layout of the
Canadian Numismatic Bibliography, I have discovered we
are missing quite a few photographs.

Could you please ask our subscribers if anyone out there
can supply us with a good-quality photograph (or a scan
of at least 300 dpi) of a nice North West Company token?
Anyone who can be of help to us can contact me at
atchisondf at Thank you."


Aaron Allen of Scotland writes: "I read on your website about
obsidional coins. I'm an historian and am currently working on
a book on the impact of the Thirty Years War on towns. I was
particularly interested in the section on the 1629 groschen of
Magdeburg with a counterstamp. I have been trying to find more
info on the Magdeburg coin in the bibliography on the siege coin
page, but have only been able to find the Wormser article on
German siege coins. Could you tell me where to look for more
info and possibly a photograph of the Magdeburg siege coins?
Thank you for your time."

[Allen's email address is allen1745 at -Editor]


Regarding my question from last week, R. W. Julian
writes: "The story of the Longacre connection with Chile
is detailed in the May 31, 1988, issue of World Coin News.
The chief engraver and A.C. Paquet prepared new master
dies for the coinage of that country."

Roger deWardt Lane writes: "I only know about dime size
coins, but there are my notes:

My e-book – Modern Dime Size Silver Coins of the World,
lists three Chilean coin types designed by James Barton
Longacre and Anthony C. Paquget.

1867-1880 UN DECIMO 900 fine Y-15a Km-136.2
1879-1894 UN DECIMO .500 fine Y-15b Km-136.3
1981 one year type UN DECIMO Y-15c Km-136.3a

My footnotes mention the coinage change of 1879 and
at the same time War with Bolivia and Peru, over guano.

In Chile, under a nominal bimetallism, which before 1873
over valued gold, internal conditions led to a suspension of
specie payments in 1878. In the 1890’s it attempted to adopt
the gold standard. The subsidiary coinage was reduced in
1879 from the 15.5 to 1 ratio to 0.500 fineness to make the
coinage safe from the melting pot. The year 1880 un decimo
was struck in both standards; a mintage of 242,723 in .900
fine and a larger mintage of 704,848 marked 0.5 for .500
fineness. Silver Money, D.Leavens, Bloomington,Ind. 1939."


On September 1, the BBC reported that "Hundreds of rare
Indian gold coins and priceless artefacts have been recovered
from the residence of one of India's richest business families.

The discovery was made during an inventory of the personal
assets of the deceased widow of the family patriarch.

The move follows a bitter legal battle between the Birla family
and their former accountant, Rajendra Lodha."

"Some of the gold coins are said date back to the Maurya
and Gupta periods of ancient India.

Many of the coins also go back to the time of the Mughals
who ruled India between the sixteenth and nineteenth century.

The coins and artefacts were found when the officers broke
open Priyamvada Birla's cupboards.

"The valuables were locked in a strong room, hidden behind
a wooden panel in the study on the ground floor of the third
bungalow at Birla Park," one of the officers, who wished to
remain unidentified, said."

To read the full article, see: Full Story


In response to Dennis Gregg's query about "old" vs "new"
Hobo nickels (old U.S. Buffalo Nickels carved with fanciful
images), Ralph Winter writes: "I am an avid hobo nickel
collector. I collect and like best the old or classic hobo nickels.
But I also collect some of the modern ones. I am also a member
of the Original Hobo Nickel Society (OHNS) Just going to the OHNS website
and going through the various articles there may help answer
your questions.

My initial response to, "What I don't understand is how the
new 'knock-offs' are seemingly more desired and valuable,
compared to those of the era. Anything you can do to enlighten
me will be greatly appreciated.," is that they aren't more valuable
or desirable, but sometimes they are.

Part of the problem is the availability of high quality old,
original hobo nickels for sale. When they do come up on eBay
auctions they usually command prices much higher than any
newer ones that may be offered. The key word is quality. Also
very important is whether the old hobo nickel carver is known
(actual name or nickname). A known classic carved hobo
nickel almost always will command a high sale price. If you
don't have it, a good book to buy is the "Hobo Nickel
Guidebook" by Stephen P. Alpert. See Guide Book .This will tell you 
a lot about quality and some of the old carvers."

"There are a handful of really gifted carvers today who do
command from $100-$1000 for one of their carvings. These
are sold as works of art. There are a cadre of collectors that
buy these nickels. Scroll through the OHNS website pages and
see some of these truly beautiful nickels."

[The above is a shortened version of Ralph's response, which
included a great deal of additional information and specifics on
hobo nickel pricing. Dennis writes: "Ralph responded with an
incredible amount of information for me to read and digest, that
addressed my questions, and offered more than I could have
imagined. Please thank him publicly for me in your next
newsletter. "

Consider it done. E-Sylum readers are an amazing group with
very diverse interests. The OHNS web site has images of some
very creative and well-executed carvings. Check it out! -Editor]


In an earlier issue of E-Sylum, J. A. McNerney wrote:
"The subject of the motto “In God We Trust” has always
been one of particular interest to me. I agree with Theodore
Roosevelt that God's name on money is sacrilegious, not
to mention a violation of the First Amendment of our

We need to be careful when we make arguments based on
Article One of the Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
It says...

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging
the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the
people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government
for a redress of grievances."

In response, Sam Deep writes: "Clearly, "In God We Trust"
on our coins does not violate this Article. What it does appear
to infringe upon is the "Wall of Separation" metaphor created
decades ago by an ACLU attorney. So the question is
whether you follow the clear intent of our founders with
regard to honoring God (demonstrated in many ways by
them) or that of an ACLU attorney.

That said, the thoughts of Theodore Roosevelt are, however,
worthy of an interesting debate. Is putting God's name on our
currency (coins and paper money) sacrilegious? I can think
of reasons to take both sides in this argument--one that
probably falls outside the editorial bounds of E-Sylum."


An article in The Scotsman reviews the history of banknotes
in that country, in light of the latest proposal to eliminate
Scottish notes.

"IF HE were alive today, then Malachi Malagrowther – better
known as his alter ego Sir Walter Scott – would not be amused.
Despite his sterling efforts to save the historic right of Scotland's
banks to issue their own notes, that privilege has come under
renewed threat.

The Treasury is consulting on proposals to change the way
Scotland's commercial banks – the Clydesdale Bank, Royal Bank
of Scotland (RBS) and Halifax Bank of Scotland – back up their
notes with other assets. Along with banks in Northern Ireland,
they could face a collective bill of £80 million a year to continue
issuing their own banknotes.

If the proposal becomes law and the banks cannot come up with
funds to cover their notes, an icon to Scotland's identity and more
than three centuries of banking history could become extinct.

The Bank of Scotland was the first to issue notes, when it was
founded in 1695 – largely due to a shortage of coins – and the
RBS followed suit when it was established in 1727.

George Dalgleish, curator of Scottish history at the National
Museums of Scotland, says the banknotes were quickly accepted
by customers, partly because of convenience, and partly because
Scottish banks proved reliable. The right to issue banknotes was
jealously protected by the banks, he says, to the point where
they would step in to guarantee those issued by rivals who went

"Scottish banks did quite well throughout the 18th and 19th century,
and that was the basis of the importance of the Scottish financial
sector of today," he says. "The issuing of banknotes was very
innovative and developed interesting ways of trying to combat
forgery; the Royal Bank was the first to print three-coloured notes."

But he adds that even today, Scottish banknotes are not legal
tender – which explains why you may find a London taxi driver
or a shopkeeper in Birmingham refusing the "foreign" currency.

"They are technically promissory notes. They say 'I promise to
pay the bearer.' People can refuse to take them. In England,
people used to offer you 19 shillings, six pence for a £1 note."

"Scotland's first bankers would have been amazed at how much
some of these early notes would be worth today. A rare £1 note
produced by the Glasgow Joint Stock Banking Company in
November 1840, featuring engravings of Neptune and a shipping
scene of the Clyde, is expected to fetch up to £4000 when it is
auctioned on 12 September."

To read the full article, see: Full Story


On September 1, the Concord Monitor reported on the final
days of the New Hampshire turnpike token. Dick Johnson
alerted us to this event back in the May 15th, 2005 issue
(v8n20). The tokens picture the now-gone Old Man in the
Mountain landmark.

"Most of the phone calls Jon Hanson answered yesterday
were from two kinds of people.

"There's the whole group of people who can't buy enough
tokens on the last day,"Hanson said, ". . . and there's this other
group - it's about 50/50 - who want cash back for the tokens
they bought."

If the two camps could have somehow gotten together,
Hanson's problems would have been solved. As it was, the
assistant administrator of the state Bureau of Turnpikes and his
staff had to listen to every caller's comments about the end of
sales of highway tokens. The 50-percent discount coins, made
of a brass-and-nickel alloy and imprinted with an image of the
Old Man of the Mountain, can be used through the end of the
year, but as of midnight last night, they're no longer for sale.

After declining use since July 11, when some drivers began using
the new E-ZPass system, tokens are enjoying one last run of

"Sales numbers weren't available, but so many people bought
rolls of tokens during the morning rush hour that some toll stations,
including those on the Seacoast and in Hooksett, began limiting
motorists to one roll apiece until more could be delivered."

To read the full story, see: Full Story


Last week I asked, "Can anyone fill us in on how the
Birmingham Mint came to be owned by IMI?"

Kavan Ratnatunga writes: "When I wrote up a page on my
Birmingham Mint Trial specimens, Trial specimens
I had saved link to Full Story

I must find out if that collection recently gifted has the
Ceylon 1965 10 cent trial from the Birmingham Mint which
I discovered is not in the Royal Mint collection.

I would like to find out more about the sale of duplicates in
the late 1960's since my specimen may have originated in
such a sale and listed in some Auction catalog or sale list."

[The page Kavan referenced has an image of a letter from
IMI management from the time of the closure of the mint
in 1991. It touches on the mint's history - here is an excerpt:

"The IMI mint dates back to the early years of the twentieth
century. Then the King's Norton Metal Co Ltd established
itself an almost rural suburb of Birmingham as a specialist
manufacturer of coinage strip and coin blanks. This was soon
followed by a minting department and the Company was
privileged to supply the British Royal Mint with strip and
blanks and was entrusted with striking coinage for various
territories overseas.

In 1911 and 1912, the King's Norton Metal Co supplied
bronze blanks for pennies, halfpennies and farthings.
Subsequently UK coins were minted at King's Norton and
this led to the recognition of the mint mark KN which has,
very unobtrusively, appeared on the reverse of many millions
of coins for a large number of different companies."

King's Norton eventually became part of Imperial Metal
Industries, or IMI. The letter goes on to state:

"Following IMI's purchase of The Birmingham Mint Ltd,
the decision was taken to merge it with the IMI mint ...
Thus we come to the 9th August 1991 as the last day of
IMI Mint's operation as a commercially independent Mint....
However, time marches on and about half the Mint's
employees will move on to The Birmingham Mint."

So... the IMI mintmark was KN and these operations
ceased in 1991. But what about The Birmingham Mint?
Is (or was) this entity the survivor of the Heaton Mint
of the H mintmark?

I found the following article online about the
early history of the Heaton Mint:

"The story of the Heaton Mint begins in 1850, when Ralph
Heaton II purchased Matthew Boulton's Soho Mint equipment.

Boulton was a industrialist who set up the Soho Manufactory
in Birmingham, England, later teaming up with James Watt to
produce the most advanced version of the steam engine, one
that would literally herald the advent of the industrial revolution.

The Soho Mint, which was established around 1788, had
recently gone out of business. So when an ad appeared in the
Birmingham Gazette on April 1, 1850, it created "great
excitement at the Heaton firm," writes James O. Sweeny in
his book A Numismatic History of the Birmingham Mint.

By the end of April 1850, Heaton had purchased the four
Soho Mint steam-powered screw presses that were auctioned
off by Fuller and Horsey Auctioneers. "Though they were
made in the period 1790-1810," Sweeny writes, "they were
still reasonably modern in 1850; similar machines were the
mainstay of the Royal Mint until 1880."

"By the late 1880s, things were going well for the company,
which had just completed an order from the Chinese government
to provide a complete mint (with 90 presses) in Canton. By the
time Ralph Heaton III was ready to retire, Sweeny notes he
"decided to convert the family business into a publicly held
limited liability corporation." So in 1889 the new company
became known as The Mint, Birmingham, Limited."

Full Story

Roger deWardt Lane pointed out another page on the
WBCC web site that confirms the connection:

"Ralph Heaton bought what remained of the Soho mint in
1850. The mint of Ralph Heaton and Sons (which later became
“The Mint, Birmingham Ltd.” in around 1860) was noted for
making some of the Bronze Victorian pennies of Great Britain.
The "H" mintmark appeared on a number of these issues but
not all of them. The use of the "H" mintmark did not cease with
the change of name of the mint. In fact the "H" mintmark can be
seen on many twentieth century coins, usually of countries with
strong links to Britain (e.g. British West Africa, East Africa and
Hong Kong).... After some time, in 1974, the name of this mint
was again changed, this time to “The Birmingham Mint Ltd”."

Full Story

Roger also discovered this timeline of the IMI mint history: Full Story

So, the recently-closed IMI mint was indeed final incarnation
of the original Soho and Heaton Mints. -Editor]


This week's featured web page is a 2001 article from
Coin World about the old New Orleans Mint museum
and its numismatic displays.  Featured Web Site

  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