The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 8, Number 47, November 6, 2005:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2005, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Riccardo Paolucci and
Bertram C.J. Warr Jr.  Welcome aboard! We now have 814

A number of AOL subscribers reported not receiving
their E-Sylum issue last week. This is a recurring
problem with AOL. I've sent new copies to everyone who
asked.  Remember, our back issues are archived on the
NBS web site, so if you miss an issue you can also
catch up on your reading there.

Several of this week’s contributors didn’t get an
acknowledgement from me for their submissions, as I’ve
been traveling and email access has been in transition –
my apologies.  Meanwhile, I’ll be visiting the Washington, D.C.
area often over the next several weeks.  No numismatic
adventures to report so far, but I did see some sights with
my family over the weekend, including the National Zoo and
in drive-by mode) the U.S. Capitol, Washington Monument,
The White House and Old Executive Office Building.   If any
of the locals can tell us where they hide the parking spaces
on the weekend, please me know.  We drove past dozens
of closed parking garages and failing to locate a space,
opted for the Zoo instead.

Roger deWardt Lane writes: "Hello from South Florida,
one week and a day after Wilma, which left us with
no power for a week and the telephone line down (no
DSL) too. The fact that the TV cable was out also was
a good relief from watching the news. When I got my
computer back after the storm the first thing I read
was The E-Sylum. (I got the previous one late Sunday
night before the Hurricane."

The week brings news of record-setting prices for
numismatic items of many types, including coins, paper
money and even numismatic literature.  It’s interesting
to see how the participants dream up catchphrases for their
press releases.  One item is compared to the Holy Grail,
and another to the Hope Diamond.  So what will the next
mega-sale be compared to, now that these slogans are taken?
“This piece is the Magna Carta of counterstamped Lithuanian
Subway tokens…”

So what’s the most expensive numismatic book? See our
lead story.  In other news, the Latin Paper Money Society
library finds a new home and an American Bank Note Company
vignette book comes up for sale.    Among the controversies
touched on in this issue are the use of English letters on
Korean banknotes, the recent resignation of the head of the
Canadian Mint and calls for reform at the American
Numismatic Association.   We also give the ANA a pat on the
back for David Sklow’s efforts to educate the general public
about selling coins.   As if that weren’t enough, this issue
has two more interesting excerpts from William Blades' 1888 work,
"The Enemies of Books,”  and we learn all about the coins placed
on the eyelids of the deceased President Abraham Lincoln, and
where these coins are today.  Enjoy!

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Hadrian Rambach of Spink forwarded a press release:
"On 7th October 2005, Spink purchased Johann Huttich’s
“Imperatorum romanorum libellus. Una cum imaginibus,
ad vivam effigiem expressi.“ A fierce bidding war for
the item ensued, but Spink made the final bid to win
the book in Christie’s Paris saleroom for €102,935 –
a world record price for a numismatic publication.

Possibly one of the most important numismatic portrait-
books, it is a brief illustrated biography of the
Roman Emperors.  First published in 1525, the book was
subsequently published in German, Italian and French.
This rare second edition, published in 1526 is listed
in Dekesel, Bibliotheca Nummaria, Bibliography of 16th
Century Numismatic Books, London (Spink) 1997, # H39
(21 copies listed). Printed throughout in finely engraved
italic letters, the publication contains descriptions of
263 medallions, 185 of which display portraits with 78
being left blank. These engraved portraits of emperors
and their wives are superbly displayed in white on a
black background, some of them being attributed to
Hans Weiditz (“the Petrarch Master”, c. 1495-1536).

This particular book comes from the library of humanist
Jean Grolier (c. 1489-1565), who is renowned as the
“Prince of Bibliophiles”

[So what’s the second-most expensive numismatic book?
And since many of our subscribers are from the U.S., what
is the most expensive piece of U.S. numismatic literature
sold at auction?  Is anyone keeping a list?   Editor]

An October 31, 2005 article in The New York Times reported
the latest sale of the famed King of Siam set:
"As a child in the 1960's, Steven L. Contursi sorted
through the nickels and dimes he received on his paper
route in the Bronx, picking out those he needed for his
collection and saving them in inexpensive blue cardboard

On Tuesday in Beverly Hills, Calif., Mr. Contursi and
his company will pay $8.5 million in a private sale for
one of the most famous coin sets in the world, the United
States proof set known as the King of Siam set.

Mr. Contursi calls it "the Holy Grail of numismatics,"
and the price he is paying is a world record for a coin set.

The set, which includes one of the finest of the extremely
rare 1804 United States silver dollars, was a gift from
President Andrew Jackson to King Ph'ra Nang Klao of Siam,
known as Rama III, in 1836.

Edmund Roberts, the American envoy charged with establishing
relations with Asian nations at the time, sailed with the
set on a diplomatic mission to Siam. The original ship's log
is included in the sale.

Rama's son, Rama IV, learned English from a British governess,
Anna Leonowens; their relationship was the basis for the book
"Anna and the King of Siam" and the musical "The King and I."
In 1962, the set of coins came to light after being sold by
descendants of Ms. Leonowens. It was sold at auction several
times over the years, most recently in 2001 for about $4
million to an anonymous West Coast collector."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[The photo of the set published with the article is very nice,
but outdated.  It shows the coins lying au naturel in the original
presentation case.   But weren't all of these coins slabbed
several years ago?   Shouldn’t the caption read, “This is what
the set would still look like if some yutz hadn’t dandied the
coins up for sale to prospective buyers.”    Will some future
yutz do the same to John J. Ford’s Nova Constellatio silver
pattern set?   If so, I expect John will be turning in his grave.
The buyer is entitled to do whatever they want, I suppose, but
slabbing coins of this stature seems as wrong as it is unnecessary.

Does anyone really think an extra grading point (or two or ten)
really make a difference in their value?  -Editor]


The November 8 issue of Bank Note Reporter has a front-page
article about the most expensive bank note: “Breaking the
$1 Million barrier Oct. 21 and setting a record price for
a piece of paper money sold at public auction was one of
three known “Grand Watermelon” $1,000 notes.

The top note was Lot 1 of a Lyn Knight sale of the Dave
Rickey collection of large-size paper money”


Arthur Shippee sent us this New York Times article about
a recent trade of some very rare and valuable U.S. stamps:
"In a swap reminiscent of childhood trades of years past,
a block of four rare United States airmail error stamps
worth nearly $3 million is to be traded today for a stamp
that is equally rare and far more obscure. With the trade,
the block's owner, the bond investor Bill Gross, will
finish what is believed to be the first complete collection
of 19th-century United States stamps ever assembled."

"The four stamps he is trading today are a block of the
famous 24-cent airmail stamps from 1918 that are known to
collectors as the Inverted Jenny because the Curtiss JN-4
biplane depicted in the center was accidentally printed
upside down."”

"The prize for which he is trading it is a rare 1-cent
Z-grill, a blue stamp depicting Benjamin Franklin that
was issued in 1868 and is so named because of an experimental
security grill, pressed into the back, whose purpose was
to bar reuse by keeping the cancellation from being washed
off. It belongs to Donald Sundman, president of the Mystic
Stamp Company of Camden, N.Y."

"The Z-grill is like the Hope Diamond of American philately,"
said Mr. Sundman, whose company sells stamps to beginners
and advanced collectors alike."

Mr. Sundman bought his Z-grill at auction in 1998 for
$935,000, a record price for a single American stamp. With
today's trade, its value implicitly jumps to $2.97 million,
the amount paid for the Inverted Jenny block two weeks ago.
That is a world-record price for any stamp, surpassing the
$2.2 million paid in 1996 for a unique Swedish stamp known
as the Treskilling Yellow."

To read the full story, see: Full Story


Fred Lake of Lake Books writes: " Part Two of the Clarence
Rareshide Library is now being offered by Lake Books. The
508-lot catalog is available for viewing at: Current Catalog
and has a closing date of November 29, 2005.

This fine library was "rescued" by Mrs. Liz Rareshide barely
72 hours before hurricane Katrina left the Rareshide home
buried under eight feet of water in New Orleans. Clarence
Rareshide was a noted authority on Obsolete Currency and
helped author many reference books and papers. His library,
however, contained material important in all aspects of
the numismatic genre.

Bids will be accepted until closing time via US Mail,
email, telephone, or fax at
Lake Books
6822 22nd Ave N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33710
(727) 343-8055  FAX:(727) 345-3750"


CNL Editor Gary Trudgen writes: "The December 2005 issue
of The Colonial Newsletter (CNL) has been published. The
issue begins with a study by R. Neil Fulghum of the
circumstances that led to the issue of North Carolina's
so-called "smallpox currency" of 1779.  Today, with the
threat of smallpox being used as a weapon of mass destruction
by terrorists, this paper reminds us of the horrors of this
disease while exploring an episode in our monetary history
during the War for Independence. Neil also delves into the
life of the mysterious Hugh Walker, the printer of North
Carolina's "smallpox currency." Walker appears to be lost
to history as he is never mentioned in the published
research on North Carolina's early printers.

The recent increased interest in St. Patrick coinage
was stimulated by Brian Danforth's ground breaking research
into its origin. Next, we are pleased to present an updated
study of the known halfpence dies in this series. Authored
by Dr. Roger Moore, with assistance from Stan Stephens and
Robert Vlack, the paper provides two extremely useful photo-
plates that contain high quality photos and attribution
information for the known obverse and reverse dies. Plus,
more accurate legend descriptions are provided which were
made possible by the recent availability of very high grade
specimens from the Ford VII sale.

Our final contribution is from Dr. Roger Moore and Alan
Anthony in the form of a Technical Note where they report
a newly discovered Virginia halfpenny variety. The new
variety combines two previously known dies resulting in
Newman 15-W. Interestingly, this new discovery shows that
obverse 15 is a "no period" variety. Previously it was
considered to be a "period" variety because of what is
now known to be a die defect. Also, metrological data on
discovery specimen is given.

CNL is published three times a year by The American
Numismatic Society, 96 Fulton Street, New York, NY 10038.
For inquires concerning CNL, please contact Juliette Pelletier
at the preceding postal address or e-mail
or telephone (212) 571-4470 ext. 1311."


The Fall/Winter 2005 issue (#8) of The Numismatic Sun, published
by American Numismatic Rarities, features a nice article by John
Kraljevich, Jr. titled “A Numismatic Adventure in Northwest Arkansas:
A Visit to the Gallery Mint”  The well-illustrated article chronicles John’s
recent visit to Eureka Spring, AR, home of the Gallery Mint, founded
by Ron Landis and Joe Rust.  “Using old techniques, vintage equipment,
a lot of hard work and more than a little ingenuity, they’ve produced
picture-perfect collector reproductions of everything from Athenian
tetradrahms to 1794 silver dollars (carefully noting each to be a COPY,
as not to deceive and to conform to regulations).   John (and a number
of other distinguished E-Sylum readers and contributors) is on the board
of directors of the newly-created Gallery Mint Museum Foundation.


Rich Kelly and Nancy Oliver writes: “We would like to thank
subscribers Roger Burdette, and Dick Johnson for being so
kind as to take the time to answer our inquiry into the
status of Assay coins. We have been very pleased to find
that the subscribers to E-Sylum have been very knowledgeable
and helpful to our research. The information they provided
to us on how the assay, and special assay, coins of the mints
are handled has been invaluable in our most recent endeavor
to solve the mystery of the 1894 Dime of San Francisco.”


Jay Beeton of the American Numismatic Association writes:
"The Latin American Paper Money Society has donated its
library collection to the ANA." The following is from
the attached press release:

"The Latin American Paper Money Society has donated its
library to the American Numismatic Association’s Dwight N.
Manley Numismatic Library in Colorado Springs.

The LANSA collection, formerly housed in Seward, Alaska,
consists of many references familiar to collectors as
well as copies of original research on the subject of Latin
American money, and source documents such as the First Annual
Report of the Banco Central de Chile in Santiago, published
in 1926.

LANSA President Art Matz said he will contribute additional
items and volumes to the ANA library as new materials
become available.

"Your help has given me a tremendous boost,” Matz said.
“Seeing the material in the ANA library will be most enjoyable
for me. It’s a huge relief to know that it will be in good
hands and maintained for the future."

"This special collection will be an important asset for
the ANA,”  Library Director Nancy Green said. “Many of our
members are interested in Latin American currency, and this
will be a valuable resource for them."


Ed Krivoniak pointed out an interesting item of numismatic
Literature up for sale on eBay this week (item #6574254679).
It's an 1869 vignette book from the American Bank Note Company.
The seller offers to forward links to images of any of the pages,
so researchers may want to take advantage of this.

"Presented to Annie W. Ayer, with her name stamped in
gilt on the upper cover; engraved ex libris Charles Henry
Sanford, incorporating a map depicting the North and South
American continents, Europe, and Africa, and identifying
the cities of New York, London, and Buenos Aires la Plata.
A most remarkable American Bank Note Company promotional
sample book, issued to further expansion of the firm’s

Latin American business. A panoply of South American
heroes, statesmen, and patriots are depicted on the superb,
steel-engraved plates, accompanied by evocative scenes of
Western American and South American rural life on the
range and farm, accompanied by more prosaic scenes depicting
technological progress in the New World. Such expansive
American Bank Note Company vignette volumes are extremely
rare and no two seem to be identical. Little has been found
about Annie W. Ayer beyond her 1884 presence in Buenos Aires
to witness a marriage. A native of England, Charles Henry
Sanford (1833- 1891), was a millionaire businessman who
made his fortune in Argentina."

[The auction listing includes a number of nice images of
the book and its plates.  –Editor]


The November 25-26, 2005 sale by Craig A. Whitford Numismatic
Auctions features a “rare & elusive New Orleans Siege Dime.”
Lot 1628 is an 1860 Indian Head Cent counterstamped “J. B.
SCHILLER on the obverse, and “X” on the reverse.  “This coin carries
the stigma of being the only documented Confederate Civil War siege
issues as the piece was countermarked while New Orleans was
surrounded and eventually fell to Admiral Farragut’s forces on May 1
of 1862….. It is widely speculated that the valuation of the countermarked
coin in circulation was ten cents…. The Schiller counterstamp was first
reported in TAMS Journal for March 1963 by Robert Lindesmith in a letter
to editor Russ Rulau.  It was written up by Rulau in Coin World in 1963 also."

"I would think that “distinction” would be a more apt term than “stigma."
It’s certainly an interesting story, and I’d be curious to read the writeups
on it to see the basis for calling it a siege piece.   Another example of
the counterstamp appeared in Rich Hartzog’s World Exonumia 2005 Mail
Bid Sale of the Brunk counterstamp collection, where the catalog entry

"J. B. Schiller was an importer of alcohol and proprietor of the Sazerac
Coffee House at 13 Exchange Place. During the Union siege of New
Orleans he issued paper notes for 25 and 50 cents. He also made dime
SIEGE TOKENS by stamping 1860 US small cents with his name and
a large "X" over 'One" so the reverse becomes 'X Cent' indicating ten cents.
This siege piece has been called 'one of the most important American tokens',
and an examination of published photographs indicates the Brunk specimen
may be the finest known."

Full Story


Joaquin Gil del Real ( writes:
"I trying to put together a catalog of Panama paper money,
and need illustrations of same. There is a great scarcity
of any of these locally. Could E-Sylum readers who hold
samples of Panama items scan them and send the images to me?
Credit will be given, if desired. I particularly need:

Private issues:
Banco de Perez y Planas- 5 peso note , and/or any signed item.
Exchange Bank of Colon-- any signed and or numbered item.
Banco de Panama- any 5,10,20, 50 that is signed.

Government-(Colombian) issues:
Estado de Panama-1862- 5, 10 and/or 20 peso item-signed
  or otherwise.
Estado Soberano de Panama-1865- any item that is signed
  either numbered or not to l874.
Estado de Panama- 1872-anything.
Estado de Panama- 1875, anything and
Estado Soberano de Panama-l880- .50 cents,1 and 2 peso.

If the items can be scanned in color, that would be great.
There should be available-someplace-an example of the bond
issued in 1862 -Deuda Consolidada del Estado de Panama.
Signed by Santiago de la Guardia.  Any other item which
could be useful would be appreciated. Thanks!!!”


According to a November 2 article on the website of The
Korea Times, "The Bank of Korea (BOK) Wednesday
unveiled the design for the new 5,000-won banknote and
its anti-forgery features."

"The BOK said it will issue the new bills early next year.
The specimens of the new 10,000-won and 1,000-won bills
will be unveiled in the first half of next year, the
central bank said.

The bank used hologram technology in the design of the
5,000-won banknote. Depending on the angle it is seen in,
the hologram shows the images of the Korean map and
elements of the yin and yang symbol, the taegeuk in Korean.
It also used special ink on the number 5,000 in bottom right-
hand corner of the bill’s reverse side, appearing different
colors depending on the angle in which it is seen."

"In addition, the bank changed the shape of the BOK
governor’s seal at the center of all banknotes from a
circular to a rectangular shape for the first time since
banknotes were introduced in 1950.

The red, circular-shaped seal has been considered one of
the remaining vestiges of Japanese imperialism. After its
establishment in June 1950, the BOK began issuing bills
that were modeled on Japanese bills. The color of the seal
was also changed from red into reddish-yellow."

To read the full story and view images of the new note, see: Full Story

A November 4 article in the same publication noted:
“South Korean Internet users slammed the nation's central
bank Friday over its plan to use English letters in serial
numbers of its new 5,000-won ($4.79) notes.”

"A Korean bank note is supposed to reflect a Korean image,"
a teenage Internet user said in a message posted on the
BOK's Web site.”

“More than 1,500 complaints have been posted on the central
bank's Web site since Wednesday, including claims that the
central bank is kowtowing to western nations and calls for
the bank to reverse the decision.

In response, the central bank said it has decided to use
English as it is a global trend to use such letters in
bank notes.”

"For the time being, the bank has no plans to change
its design, he added." Full Story


Arthur Shippee forwarded this article noted in The Explorator
newsletter. He writes: “Metal detectorists have found a major
Iron Age coin hoard on the Isle of Wight.”

“The largest hoard of Iron Age coins ever found on the Island
has been unearthed by metal detectors.

The haul of nearly 1,000 base silver coins was dug up over
two weeks at a secret West Wight location by members of the
IW Metal Detecting Club. But this week it also emerged the
find is unlikely to be bought by the IW Museums Service for
local display.

County museums officer Dr Mike Bishop said his budget was
empty and unless new funding was found, the service could
not afford the many thousands of pounds at which the haul
would inevitably be valued by the British Museum.

The coins were originally buried in a primitive clay pot
and then scattered over the site by successive years of

To read the full article and view an picture of the hoard, see: Full Story


John Regitko questioned the following passage in a newspaper
article quoted in last week's issue: "Ken Hopple, chief coiner
of Coin Press No. 1 at the Carson City Mint, said it takes 120
pounds of pressure to strike each coin." He writes: Are you
sure that's pounds, not tons?"

Well, I'm sure “tons” is what was meant, and I’m sorry I
didn’t catch this when I first published the item.  The
reporter probably misheard or misunderstood. Discussing
another newspaper article quoted last week, Joel Orosz
writes: "I saw that quarters article in the Kalamazoo
Gazette. Despite the usual quota of numismatic inaccuracies,
it was an entertaining piece. It is frightening to me,
however, that whenever I read a story in the popular press
on a subject about which I know something, like numismatics
or philanthropy, it is full of errors. It makes me wonder
how many inaccuracies I am accepting as truth for those
subjects about which I am not expert!"


Speaking of errors on the part of the press, in the
the Canadian Numismatic Association E-Bulletin Number
24 (November 1, 2005), editor John Regitko writes about
The results of two independent audits of expenditures
by David Dingwall, the head of the Canadian Mint who
recently resigned his position (see The E-Sylum, October
2, 2005 (v8n42).

Regitko writes: "Much space has been consumed in the press
lately, as well as much airtime, following David Dingwall's
resignation as President and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint.
We wished him well in the previous bulletin and reserved
judgment until all the facts came out. And now they have, so
we are devoting a bid of space to the findings, since he
certainly was a major figure in Canadian numismatics who,
during his short time at the Mint, turned the corporation
around to a profitable operation.

The findings of two independent reviews related to the
expenditures incurred by the Honourable David C. Dingwall
during his tenure as President and CEO of the Royal Canadian
Mint exonerated him, with a small exception. Although I am
not a lawyer, I don't believe you have to be to fully
understand what the reports say. And what it says to me is
that I have been misinformed by the daily press!"

Regitko presented much information culled from the actual
Reports of the auditors. He adds "Although some small amounts,
due to clerical errors, are recoverable from Mr. Dingwall,
certainly the reports vindicate Mr. Dingwall. Who feels
apologies are warranted?"

For more information on the C.N.A. E-Bulletin, see
Full Story


And speaking of controversies, the latest involving the
American Numismatic Association keeps growing and growing.
Alan V. Weinberg writes: "Has anyone read or commented
upon the recent Coin World editorial by Beth Deisher? It
was an extraordinarily bold and perhaps controversial
2/3rds page commentary on ANA Executive Director Chris
Cipoletti and the path down which he is taking the ANA.

Ever since attorney Cipoletti took over, first as ANA
legal counsel and now Executive Director (talk about a conflict
of interest & approach to problems!), replacing the badly-
missed retired Ed Rochette, the ANA's key operational
decisions have been made in secret sessions, involved
the ANA in questionable personnel dismissals and litigious
situations which will end up costing the ANA a lot of money
in legal fees and likely case losses/settlements. It is
clear it was not a good idea to hire a lawyer as head of
the ANA, much less a person who has no numismatic
knowledge or background whatsoever. And the newly elected
Board members, most or all accomplished numismatists, seem
to be a rubber stamp for Cipoletti's actions.

It is unprecedented in modern hobby times for the Editor
of a major numismatic publication to take a strong public
stand against the current ANA administration but it is
commendable and brave, and hopefully only the first salvo."

Pete Smith writes: “Coin World and Numismatic News have
reported on the action by the ANA board to remove Walter
Ostromecki. If the story reported in these papers is correct,
I do not believe the removal is justified. I have not heard
or read an explanation from the ANA.

I doubt if the ANA board will pay much attention to the
response of a single ANA member but an organized response
might get their attention. I am looking for suggestions or
guidance. If any ANA member is interested in organizing a
response or participating in such a response, please
contact me at”

[As Pete mentions, both Coin World and Numismatic News
have each devoted a lot of print of late to the ANA and the
nature of Cipoletti's leadership. David Ganz’ column in
Numismatic News has explored the unfortunate ramifications
of having the same person serve the organization as both legal
counsel and Executive Director.  It will be interesting to see how
the situation unfolds.  Controversies abound in the history of
the ANA, with the one involving literature dealer Frank Katen
likely being one of the most notable for bibliophiles.  –Editor]


Bob Lyall writes: "Paul Baker asked about the Cape Verde
tokens - I remember some of these being listed on dealers
lists in the past - probably either Jerry Schimmel (San
Francisco) or Cyril Fox (Australia). They are salina tokens
(salt ponds, such tokens also used in the Bahamas and Turks
& Caicos islands) and were catalogued by Salgado and Pascoal
15 years ago in "Portugiesische Kolonialwertmarken". It
seems not all Salinas used tokens. I checked one in Malta
some 15 years ago but they said they had never used tokens,


Last week I published a couple of excerpts from the
digital version of William Blades' 1888 work, "The
Enemies of Books". Here are two more interesting
(and not exactly politically correct) sections:

[On Spring cleaning...]

"Dust! it is all a delusion. It is not the dust that makes
women anxious to invade the inmost recesses of your Sanctum--
it is an ingrained curiosity. And this feminine weakness,
which dates from Eve, is a common motive in the stories
of our oldest literature and Folk-lore. What made Fatima
so anxious to know the contents of the room forbidden her
by Bluebeard? It was positively nothing to her, and its
contents caused not the slightest annoyance to anybody.
That story has a bad moral, and it would, in many ways,
have been more satisfactory had the heroine been left to
take her place in the blood-stained chamber, side by side
with her peccant predecessors.  Why need the women-folk
(God forgive me!) bother themselves about the inside of a
man's library, and whether it wants dusting or not?"

[On children]

"Children, with all their innocence, are often guilty of
book-murder. I must confess to having once taken down
"Humphrey's History of Writing," which contains many
brightly-coloured plates, to amuse a sick daughter.
The object was certainly gained, but the consequences
of so bad a precedent were disastrous. That copy (which,
I am glad to say, was easily re-placed), notwithstanding
great care on my part, became soiled and torn, and at
last was given up to Nursery martyrdom. Can I regret it?
surely not, for, although bibliographically sinful, who
can weigh the amount of real pleasure received, and
actual pain ignored, by the patient in the contemplation
of those beautifully-blended colours?

A neighbour of mine some few years ago suffered severely
from a propensity, apparently irresistible, in one of his
daughters to tear his library books. She was six years old,
and would go quietly to a shelf and take down a book or
two, and having torn a dozen leaves or so down the middle,
would replace the volumes, fragments and all, in their
places, the damage being undiscovered until the books were
wanted for use. Reprimand, expostulation and even punishment
were of no avail; but a single "whipping" effected a cure."

Full Story

[Note to my kids: keep your paws off Daddy’s books!!
Or else!   -Editor]


Marilyn A. Graver forwarded the following item from the
November 2005 Newsletter of the Bibliophile Society of
Rochester, NY: “Hurricanes Katrina and Rita did substantial
damage to many of Louisiana’s libraries.  Over 100 school
libraries and 15 public libraries were damaged or destroyed
beyond repair, and a number of academic libraries lost major
portions of their collections.  The first floor of Southern
University Library in New Orleans was flooded and has lost
collections including African-American History, reference,
and all books from A-G in the LC classification system.
Tulane University basement was flooded and lost almost its
entire government documents section.

If you are interested in helping, financial donations for
public libraries may be sent to the Louisiana Library
Foundation and they will forward the money to the appropriate
library or community.  If you want to donate to a specific
library, you can indicate that and they will make sure that
the library receives it.  Make your check payable to Louisiana
Library Foundation and send it to PO Box 2583 Baton Rouge,
LA 70821.”


Fred Schwan writes: "I liked Cliff Mishler's discussion
about what to call ourselves. I have spent time pondering
this difficult question. I never came up with as good an
answer as Cliff (no surprise there), but I would like to
make a refinement. I certainly agree with the community
aspect. However, I think that hobby community is much
better than coin community on a few counts. Coin community
seems to exclude paper money collectors and it includes a
few people who are not numismatists. I am thinking of people
who work with money on a professional, non numismatic level:
people who work at the mints, drive the Brinks trucks, etc.


George Kolbe writes: "Concerning Dick Johnson's opinion on
"killing" the Assay Commission, may I point out that politicians
of both parties routinely rail against "wasteful spending"
(but never when it occurs in their district, I admit). However,
viewed from this, in my opinion quite proper, perspective, how
can one justify the existence of a commission to certify how
much base metal is present in a particular coin?"

[In 1977 it was true that the Mint no longer produced coins
of precious metals, but within a few years the U.S. began
producing and marketing bullion pieces, and now sells a huge
number of silver, gold, and platinum coins. We also have
commemorative coins and various special issues struck in
silver and gold. -Editor]

George adds: "My point is that its abolition was undeniably
justified at the time.   A greater truth: the Assay Commission
was an obsolete institution anyway. If not at its beginnings,
certainly by the dawn of the 20th century the U. S. could
have not gotten away with issuing underweight coins, nor can
they now. It was and is a political impossibility. Monarch
and tyrants may secretly debase coinage; democracies cannot. "

[Well, I can agree with that, too, but I guess the collector
in me still yearns for the revival of the tradition (see Fred
Schwan's response following).  Assays do go on regardless
of the existence of an official commission, but despite the
added expense I think there's something of value in a public,
independent, official appraisal.  The press doesn't do assays,
nor do most buyers of U.S. Mint products. But all would pay
attention to a less than favorable Assay Commission report.

Of course, the mere existence of a watchdog organization helps
ensure that the reports will be nothing but positive.  Has
there ever been a negative one?  I’ll admit I’ve never read
the details of assay commission reports or the corresponding
sections of the annual Mint reports.  But neither do I recall
reading about an Assay Commission failing to give high
marks to the U.S. Mint.  -Editor]

Fred Schwan writes: "The discussion on the assay commission
has caused me to go public with an idea that I have been
hiding.  Since we do not have an official assay commission,
I think that we should start our own! In my opinion the
Old Time Assayers should take on this task. Failing that the
ANA or, gasp, a large hobby community commercial entity might
take on the task. Done correctly, it would probably even be
possible to get the cooperation of the mint. Failing that or
even if the mint wanted to participate, the organizers might
opt to exclude the mint. The event could be very much like the
meetings in the later years (more honorary and social than
functional, but that is not such a bad thing). Alternatively,
with the help of some scientific community members the group
might be able to do some interesting assaying on circulating
and noncirculating current coins.  Certainly, the annual
assay medals should be revived. Possibly the assayers could
receive silver medals and base metal medals could be sold to
the community to help finance the thing. I would suspect
that the medals should not be advertised in New York
(I could not resist)."

[I would think that if the Old-Time Assay Commissioners really
wanted to revive the institution on their own they would have
done it long before now.  The organization gets smaller and
grayer each passing year since no new blood has joined since
1977.   -Editor]


Don Cleveland writes: "I remember my Grandmother in the
mid-1950s telling me about using gold coins when she was a
young housewife in the state of Washington (late 1920s). Not
being wealthy, they rarely saw them, but once in awhile they
would get a quarter eagle, half eagle, or eagle. She did not
recall ever seeing a one-dollar gold coin, although silver
dollars were used quite often. She also mentioned she had never
received a double eagle (which I now suspect would have
represented a good part of a month's wages). Anyway, whenever
she or her husband received a gold coin, the custom was to
wrap it in tissue paper or cotton, so it would not rub on
other coins or wear in the purse. She said banks and merchants
did not like to take gold coins if they were too beat up."

Tom DeLorey writes: "I have a little anecdote on the
circulation of gold coins among ordinary people. My grandmother,
nee Winifred Parks, was born in Lake Linden, MI in 1890. Whenever
she stopped going to school, let's say 1908, she went to work
for the local telephone company as a switchboard operator,
where she worked for several years before marrying grandpa just
to get out of town.

In 1968 she came to live with my father and us, where she
found out that I collected coins. This triggered a memory,
and she told me that when she was working for the telephone
company up in Calumet, one year she got a $2-1/2 gold piece
in her pay envelope at Christmas. I naturally asked her if
she had kept it, and she said no, that two and a half dollars
was her entire pay for the week, but that that one Christmas
the phone company had paid everybody in gold instead of silver.
She took it home and gave it to her mother to help support
the family, as she did every week, and got back the fifty
cents that she was normally allowed to keep for herself.

I am sure that this was the only gold coin that she ever
owned in her life, if only for a few hours, that she could
remember it sixty years later.

[Thanks for the interesting anecdotes. I doubt gold jingled
much in the pockets of my ancestors, either. My stepgrandfather
had a $1 gold piece of 1851, which is now in my collection.
He had been given it by his Sunday school teacher as a reward.


Roger deWardt Lane writes: "In my papers I found an old
letter dated Nov 27, 1907 from the Manager of the Vera Cruz
Mining Co., Nogal, New Mexico promoting the offer of some
shares to a Mr. Cole in Michigan. The envelope has a
Washington 2 Cent red stamp.

Two paragraphs in the letter stand out - "You understand our
product being gold, financial depressions and fluctuations in
markets has no effect on us whatever, the price remaining the
same from year to year."

"I am also pleased to tell you that we have received returns
from the U.S. Mint for our first shipment of bullion, which
was very satisfactory indeed, and convinces me without a
doubt that this proposition is even better than we at first

The internet gave me a little history of a different take -
"Vera Cruz was the name of a gold mine on the west side
of the Tucson Mountains more than it was the name of a
community. Although an organized townsite was proposed,
it never existed beyond the post office stage and then for
only two years. The mine was closed after it was discovered
the gold deposits were of too low a grade. Only the dump
of the Vera Cruz Mine is seen today, high in the Tucson
Mountains as one drives the highway between Carrizozo
and Lincoln. "

The mine was working during 1907 as there is another
Internet family reference to a man who worked there
during this period.

I can't find much else except the names of some officers
years later when the company name was changed to the
Vera Cruz Consolidated Gold and Silver Mining Company."

[Perhaps some of the gold from this mine found its way into
the new Saint-Gaudens coinage of 1907. -Editor]


Last week, Jeff Starck of Coin World mentioned that
"... pennies (sorry, cents) were placed over the eyelids
of the deceased." and that "a Chicago museum has cents
it claims were placed on President Abraham Lincoln".

Tom DeLorey writes: "They were not cents, they were Seated
Half Dollars.  Joe Scheidler and I examined them here at
the Chicago Historical Society several years ago, and Joe
wrote it up for the Gobrecht Journal. The coins are affixed
to a certificate of authenticity by means of a black silk
ribbon run through two holes drilled in each coin (GACK!
The first slab!) and some sealing wax. One of the coins is
an 1861, and Joe was wondering if it might be an 1861-O.
By very carefully laying coins atop it under the watchful
and apprehensive eye of a curator, I was able to compare
reeding counts and determine that it was a P-mint coin."

[The Chicago Historical Society web site pictures these
coins: "Silver half-dollars were placed over the president's
eyes, and government undertaker Frank Sands arrived to
prepare Lincoln's body for the journey home to the White House."
Full Story

I wonder if the old custom of using pennies (in Britain)
and cents (in the U.S.) changed in the U.S. when the Mint
switched to small size cents after 1857? Are the smaller
cents too small and light to hold the deceased's eyelids
in place?  Could that be why half dollars were used
instead of cents for President Lincoln's body in 1865?


Doug Andrews writes: "I can contribute two off-beat uses
for coins. One of the best known is a bride putting a
copper coin (these days, likely a bronze- or copper-plated
steel or zinc coin) in her shoe on her wedding day for good

The second use, with somewhat more serious potential
consequences, is one that I learned in my profession
unfortunately. It involves removing a blown electrical fuse
in the days before circuit breakers came into wide use, and
dropping a nickel into the socket before screwing the fuse
back in. This is an old trick to keep the electricity flowing
when a replacement fuse isn't handy. It also is a sure-fire,
fool-proof method (pun intended) of burning down your building.

By the way, did I mention that I am an insurance adjuster?"

Don Cleveland writes: "I have seen, and used myself, coins
with holes in them for emergency washers. In Papua New Guinea
I once used a one Kina coin for a fishing weight. Of course,
there is bride price in which a large number of Kina coins
are strung on a leather strip and offered to the bride's father.
I'm sure most readers have used a small coin, such as a dime,
for a screw driver. And, last, coins for decoration. I have
a shepherd's staff with a wooden handle wrapped in felt and
covered with coins, the latest dated 1876. The coins are held
in place by tiny bent nails. None penetrate the coins. Sounds
good, until the coins are examined and each is bent to fit
the curve of the round staff. At least half the coins are
ancient Roman copper. Most of the rest are 19th century,
although there are also a couple of 18th century on the staff.
Luckily, none appear, even now days, to have any real value.
I got the staff in Tunisia about 30 years ago. I suspect,
however, it may have originated in France."


Henry Bergos writes: "Regarding "dog tags", I have a 1696
English crown with a soldier’s name, town and birth date
on it from the early 19th cent.  The idea was that if the
soldier fell in battle one of his comrades would take the
coin and contact his relatives and keep the coin for his


Ed Snible writes: "Google Print has scanned and indexed
a large number of numismatic titles. Some samples: Holt,
“Alexander the Great and the Mystery of the Elephant
Medallions”; Mattingly, “From Coins To History”;  Vagi,
“Coinage and History of the Roman Empire”; Howe, “Ancient
Coins at the Elvehjem Museum of Art”; Crawford, “Roman
Republican Coinage”; Halperin, “How To Grade U.S. Coins”;
Reiter, “The New York Times Guide to Coin Collecting”.

A large number of recent Heritage auction catalogs are
available. It's good to see Google scanning auction
catalogs, and I look forward the eventual appearance of
older auction catalogs.

Books published after 1922 can be searched but Google
only allows a few pages or paragraphs can be read. Old
public-domain books can be read completely. Three such
fully readable books:

"Greek Coins and Their Parent Cities” / Ward and Hill
Full Story

George Greenlief Evans, “Illustrated History of the
United States Mint” (1887) Full Story

“The Confessions of a Collector” / William Carew Hazlitt Full Story

Hazlitt's "Confessions of a Collector" is a gem that
I wouldn't have discovered without Google Print. It is
an 1897 account of book and coin collecting in England,
full of details of dealers, coins, and purchase prices.

I haven't found a way to jump to a particular book page.
This is a problem for reading Hazlitt's book -- the
numismatic stuff doesn't start until page 235! Frenzied
attempts to click "Next" 234 times are thwarted by a false
message suggesting that a virus is clicking pages for you!"


Last week, in discussing the satirical "quarters" modeled
After the U.S. Fifty States Quarter series, I asked: "Is it
true that thes are overstruck on real quarters?"

Kavan Ratnatunga writes: "
Yes, they are all clearly overstuck and that is why they
are legal like elongates. I have almost a complete set
posted at Full Story

The better original parody coins were struck I am told
at All American Coin Company Inc, and others have
joined in trying to profit from them and probably kill
their collectibility.  I do have few low grade copies in
aluminum, which are clearly junk and maybe illegal.

[Thanks for assembling the web page of images. A picture
is worth 1,000 words, and the words to describe the Clinton
Arkansas quarter would brand The E-Sylum in spam filters
as content unfit for polite company. -Editor]

Troy Hine writes: "Canadian Coin News October 18, 2005
issue contains a column by Hans Neidermair about,
a website that encourages readers to participate in a
Photoshop contest to design their own quarter. The
website is"


Fred Reed writes: “Do any E-Sylum readers
know of a resource for The Numismatist
in microfiche or microfilm version? This would
be very helpful to researchers.”


Dick Johnson writes: “Now that all the bad news about the
Freedom Tower dollars is over, we learn of a numismatic
connection to the old buildings. The good news, but without
fanfare, is that they have begun building the new Freedom Tower.

In a story in the New York Times (Friday November 4, 2005)
we learn that in 1966 when the old buildings were first being
built "John M. Kyle, the chief engineer of the Port Authority,
threw in a silver dollar, a 100-lire coin from Italy, a 5-franc
coin from France and a British penny."

Anyone want to contribute a coin for the foundation of the
new Freedom Tower?”

Read the New York Times article at: Full Story


Kavan Ratnatunga writes: "I agree there should be truth in
advertising laws, but they are probably difficult to enforce,
since one person's truth because of small print is another
person's lie.

The National Collectors Mint was clearly one who has produced
most of the items seen in scams on eBay, mostly silver-plated
replica coins advertised as rare proof silver coins. The 9-11
coin was one case when they could be  prosecuted since there
was a clear violation. It is however not an isolated case."


The American Numismatic Association is to be commended for
getting the word out to the public regarding one potential scam,
the traveling coin buyer.  Of course, many of these buyers are
undoubtedly on the up-and-up and may offer fair prices to the
public selling their numismatic items.  But sellers who fail
to shop around could find themselves selling far too cheaply.

The following excerpts are from a November 1, 2005 article
by Patricia Sabatini in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“A traveling buyer of collectibles is in Pittsburgh this
week offering "instant cash" for rare coins, jewelry, gem
stones, guns, historical documents and other valuables.

But before you head over to the event hoping to get top
dollar for grandma's prized silver tea set or grandpap's
beloved pocket watch, experts advise doing your homework.
They say you should have a good idea of what your valuables
are worth before showing up at such events or you risk
getting taken.

"Companies that do business like this, setting up in hotels
and keep constantly moving, are notorious for paying way
below the market value for what you bring in," said David
Sklow, researcher at the American Numismatic Association,
the country's largest trade association for coin collectors
and dealers.

"Make yourself aware of what you have so you aren't going
in there blind," Mr, Sklow said, adding that taking your
collectibles to a buyer's show isn't the place for an
unbiased appraisal.”

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Do any numismatic treasures await catalogers working in
Egypt?  “Egyptian archaeologists, who normally scour the
desert in search of treasures of the past, have discovered
that one of the greatest caches of antiquities may well
be in the basement of the Egyptian Museum. For the last
century, artifacts have been stored away in crates
there and forgotten, often allowed to disintegrate in
the dank, dusty cavern.

Forgotten until now. The recent theft and recovery of
three statues from the basement have prompted antiquity
officials in Egypt to redouble an effort already under
way to complete the first comprehensive inventory of
artifacts in the basement.

"For the last 100 years, curators sat down to drink tea,
but they did not do their jobs," said Zahi Hawass, the
general secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
"How many artifacts are in the basement?  It was awful."

Step through a small, Hobbit-sized door, down a steep
flight of stairs and through a locked gate. The basement
is a maze of arched passageways and bare light bulbs
hanging from decaying wires. It is packed with wooden
crates, hundreds of them, sometimes piled floor to ceiling.

Cobwebs cling to ancient pottery and tablets engraved with
hieroglyphics. Six hundred coffins and 170 mummies have
been found so far. No one knows what may have been stolen
over the years. Last year, officials reported that 38
golden bracelets from Roman times had vanished from the
basement, apparently six years earlier.

"It is an accumulation of 100 years of neglect," said
Dr. Ali Radwan, a professor of Egyptology at Cairo
University who took a recent tour of the basement.

To read the complete story, see: Full Story


Arthur Shippee sent this article about “the world's most
expensive limousine” at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum:
He writes: “The limo is covered with gold coins.”
Full Story


This week's featured web site asks “Was the 1915 medallion
known as 'The Fort' actually sculpted by the German medallist
Ludwig Gies (1887-1966); or was this the actual work of the
Florentine goldsmith, sculptor and writer Lorenzo Ghiberti
(1378-1455) between May 29th 1453 and December 1st 1455?”

The site was recommended by Rich Hartzog, who adds:
“You can always check my page
for lots of links to interesting exonumia web sites.
Happy Collecting!”

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.

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