The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 9, Number 01, January 1, 2006:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Hayden Roses and Ben Keele.
Welcome aboard!  We now have 833 subscribers.

Happy New Year, everyone.  I hope your holidays were safe
and enjoyable.  This issue opens with a story about coins
and New Year's superstitions.  The issue also brings some
interesting commentary on the topic of numismatic author
Don Taxay, and the U.S. Mint's use of the pantographic
reducing machine.  Dick Johnson contributed to all of these
topics, and I'd like to give him a special thank-you for
all of his wonderful contributions to our forum.

Among other topics, Azerbaijan and Uganda are issuing new
paper notes, and a new celebrity coin collector appears. More
importantly for NBS members, a new issue of our print journal
is on its way!

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Dick Johnson writes: "Happy New Year!  I did not know how
coins are involved in so many countries' New Years Day
traditions until I read an article by Glenn Tuney in the
Uniontown Pennsylvania Herald Standard.

He relates the tradition that the first visitor of the
year should be male and have dark hair. If he does he is
given a coin as a gift. It was Italians who practiced
this tradition.

A second one comes from Scotland -- put a dime outside
on your front window ledge. You will never have a shortage
of money in that house for the entire year.

The third one is to fill a sink with water, dump in some
coins and wash your face in that water.

Another one is for two people to hold on to a dollar bill
at the stroke of midnight. A higher denomination bill will
bring greater wealth to the two people

A final one is to bake a coin in a sweet bread.

Columnist Tuney adds "If you are able to observe these
[last] two superstitions without putting out your eye with
a penny or swallowing a doughy dime, your luck already is
running on the positive side. As an added incentive for
fortune to smile on you, you also can burn a bayberry candle
before midnight on New Year's Eve to entice good luck to
come your way."

It's a long article.  To read it in its entirety, see: Full Story

Good Luck to All E-Sylum Readers in 2006! Now where did
I put that dime?"


Tom Fort, Editor of our print journal, writes: "The latest
issue of The Asylum should either be on its way or already
in your mailbox by the time you read this. This issue's
contents are as follows:

My First Numismatic literary Work or Who am I and
Why am I Here
by Frank L. Wiswall

Royal Mints and Royal Minors in England 1216-1389
Frank L. Wiswall

The Deluxe, Leather Bound, Interleaved Brownings
by Karl Moulton

A Landmark Numismatic Book Auction
by George Frederick Kolbe

A Rare but Little Known Fixed Price List: America's
Outstanding Collection of Silver Dollars for Sale at
Fixed Prices
by W. David Perkins

President's Message
by Pete Smith

Reading the introductions to the weekly newsletter I
am struck by the fact that less than one half of The
E-Sylum's readership (now at over 830) are actually paid
members of the NBS. At the moment, The Asylum, the only
periodical devoted to our passion, has a subscription base
of less than 350. Come on people, it only costs $15! That's
less than the price of two movie tickets and it takes more
than a couple of hours to read a year's worth of issues
and you don't have to put up with that guy who won't stop
talking at full volume into his cell phone. If there is a
better numismatic literary deal, I do not know of it.
Before you read any further, jump to the end of this
newsletter, write a cheque and send it off to our dear

[So make a New Year's Resolution to join NBS!  It only
takes a few moments.  As always, instructions for joining
are at the end of this E-Sylum message. -Editor]


Len Harsel writes: "There is a review of the new CSA
book by Fricke in this week's Bank Note Reporter.  Not
being a CSA collector, the book is just the thing for
the collector who is concerned about varieties akin to
the berries on large cents!"

Steve Feller writes: "I have the new Fricke book -- it
is marvelous --- here is a little review I did for the
I.B.N.S. Journal:

Review of Collecting Confederate Paper Money: A Complete
and Fully Illustrated Guide to All Confederate Note Types
and Varieties by Pierre Fricke

This is a superb book.  Eight hundred pages in length
it is chock full of new information on Confederate States
of America bank note issues.  The last major works on
Confederate notes were the tenth edition of the Arlie
Slabaugh, Confederate States Paper Money, published by
Krause Publications in 2000 and the Grover Criswell,
Comprehensive Catalog of Confederate Paper Money, published
by BNR Press in 1996.   This book brings the state of our
knowledge up a quantum as we approach the sesquicentennial
of America's most important formative event. In my
opinion this new volume is superior to its predecessors.

The book is printed to a high standard and the color
plates are of very high quality.  The plates include an
example of each of the Criswell Type notes as well as some
color varieties. This new volume is a work of original
research.  In particular, there is a large focus on
varieties.  Mr. Fricke expanded upon the original notes
of the late Dr. Doug Ball.  In fact a new numbering scheme,
PF numbered varieties, is introduced in this volume.  Also,
condition census lists are provided for the first time.
For example the Type 16 notes have a listing for 17 varieties.
After the main listing there are detailed discussions of
9 of these varieties with 9 illustrations.  Further, the
pre-catalog informational section is extensive and useful
to the collector.  Each major Criswell Type is discussed
at some length and then additional pages are allocated for
the aforementioned many varieties within each type and the
book is extensively illustrated.

On the whole this high quality book is a must for the
paper currency collector as well as for buffs of the
American civil war.  Further information may be obtained
at  The book is $49.95 plus $5.50
shipping within the United States."


Last week Dick Johnson wrote: "To their credit,
Treasury officials turned instead to American sculptors
to create new coin designs. No small designs these.
These artists - St-Gaudens, Weinman, Fraser, MacNeil,
de Francisci - created oversize models which were
pantographically reduced."

Howard Spindel writes: "The pantographic reducing machine,
aka reducing lathe or transfer lathe, was around long
before the appearance of the above mentioned sculptors.
It was used in preparing coinage dies as early as the

An article in Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Vol 24,
Issue 139 (December 1861) details the processes in use
at the mint at the time of writing, including the use
of the reducing lathe.  You can read a copy of that
article on my local club's website at:


I originally found this article at Cornell University's
The Making of America project, which is a fantastic resource.

This takes nothing away from the beauty that the early 20th
century engravers brought to our coinage, but I would say
the quality of their designs is due to their skill as sculptors,
not to use of the reducing lathe."

Dick Johnson writes: "In reply to Howard Spindel's comment
to my item on the die-engraving pantograph in last week's
E-Sylum -- Howard is correct. The pantograph has been in
use at the Philadelphia Mint since their Contimin arrived
from France in 1836. It was replaced by the Hill machine
that the mint acquired from William Wyon in London in 1857,
and the Mint acquired the Janvier in 1906.

I gave a more complete history of the die-engraving
pantograph in E-Sylum (vol 7 no 11 article 10)
March 14, 2004. You can review this at: vol 7 no 11 article 10

The difference was in HOW the American engraving staff
at the Philadelphia Mint used these machines. From 1836
well into the 20th century the engravers would only use
the Contimin or Hill to make device punches of the main
device. A master pattern would be made of the Liberty
Seated or Liberty Head, say, and this could be reduced
for each size required for the dime, quarter, half. What
they would cut was a device punch alone -- not the entire
coin design. The device punch would then be hubbed into
a die, then add lettering, stars and dates by hand punching
(to create a master die).

It was not until 1920 that MINT engravers reproduced
the entire design, lettering and all, from one model,
de Francisci's Peace dollar design. Even though the
Philadelphia Mint department had a Janvier they did not
use this for the original models of Fraser, Weinman, and
MacNeils (they tried for St-Gaudens model but that is
another story). Galvanos of all these artists' models
were made and reduced in New York City (at Medallic Art

The artists modeled (on average)12 to 16-inch models,
Medallic Art reduced these to 9-inch patterns. What
these artists turned over to the mint were these midsize
galvanos. The mint used these galvanos to further reduce
to cut hubs and dies.

There are subtle differences from a die made by punches
and hand punched lettering, figures and stars in contrast
to a die made from one model intact. The Barber / Morgan
hand punched dies are stiff designs with sharp demarcations
of the punched elements. A modeled design is far softer
as the elements tend to blend from the lettering into the
field. It is very subtle; you have to know the technology
and what technique was used for each to see these differences.

Howard, I hope that clears up the statement I made last week.
My intent was to contrast the designs of talented sculptors
(and the use of one model intact reduced on the Janvier
pantograph) from the engraving methods of the Barber / Morgan


>From, an Azeri website: "As earlier reported,
Azerbaijan's new money to be released in January in light
of the currency denomination was presented on Wednesday.

Addressing the presentation ceremony at the Excelsior Hotel,
President Ilham Aliyev said the issuance of the new banknotes
and coins into circulation will mark a new stage in the
country's history."

"The new banknotes and coins, printed by an Austrian company,
were designed by Austrian expert Robert Kalina, who also
developed Euro's design.

1 Manat (national currency) will equal 5,000 Manats currently
being used. The new banknotes, worth 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100
manats and coins worth 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50 hundredth factions
of 1 Manat will be issued.

The banknote worth 1 manat will display Azeri culture, while
one for 5 manats - literature, and 10 manats history. 20-manat
banknotes will cover the Garabagh conflict, on the initiative
of the President, while ones worth 50 manats - education and
Azerbaijan's future prospects, and 100 manats - the country's
development. The banknotes will be protected by some 30
watermarks, Rustamov said."

"Since 1992, the rate of the national currency Manat has
decreased 10,000 times, which necessitates the release of
new banknotes from the economic and technical viewpoints."

To read the complete article and view images of the notes, see: Full Story


>From a recent news article: "The upgraded Shs10,000 note
will go into circulation on Jan. 2, 2006, Bank of Uganda
(BoU) has confirmed.

Members of the public who still hold the old Shs10,000
bank notes printed in 1995 and 1998, which do not have
the foil stripe, will have to exchange them at BoU's
counter in Kampala and upcountry currency centres before
the deadline of December 31, 2005. BoU officials say
there will be no further extension for redemption of
the old notes after that date.

Addressing the BoU's monthly press briefings on Thursday,
the Deputy Director Currency, Mr Raymond Otim, said the
upgraded note will circulate side-by-side with the
existing Shs10,000 banknote and will reach the public
through the normal banking system.

"This is part of the bank's programme to upgrade its
currencies and it has been going on for the last two
years," Otim said."

"Distinct features include among others, an electro-type
watermark of the denomination figure 10000, visible below
the crested crane watermark when the note is viewed against
light. The feature is absent in the current note. The
denomination figure 10,000 at the bottom corner of the
front face has been enlarged and printed with special
ink, which shifts colour from magenta to green, when
the angle of view is changed."

"BoU began the process of upgrading new notes two years
ago. They started with the Shs1,000, Shs5,000 and Shs20,000.
This is expected to be the last exercise of upgrades."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


In the past we've discussed celebrities who have an
interest in numismatics.  This week there was an article
about the collecting interest of an actor in the news:

"Jack Black has an unusual hobby - collecting coins.

The 'King Kong' star admits to being a numismatist - the
official name for people who enjoy discovering and keeping
old coinage.

Broadcaster and fellow hoarder Phill Jupitus said: "Jack
is a numismatist. He was really excited about a coin he
had, saying it was really old. When he showed it to me it
turned out to be from only 1847, not really what I would
call ancient.

He added to Britain's Daily Express newspaper: "So I
decided to give him three coins - one a Roman coin from
the first century. I don't think he could quite believe it."

Meanwhile, Black admits he felt the pressure while
shooting new movie 'King Kong'..."

To read the complete story, see Full Story


Dick Johnson writes: "I had extensive contact with Don
Taxay in New York City prior to 1971. He was employed
for a time by Harmer Rooke, and launched an early series
of auctions for this firm. One was a book auction in
which I consigned several hundred books. After that he
freelanced. He had contacts with a number of banks and
wanted to build money displays for banks. I gave him
several hundred dollars as seed money to build a miniature
display as a sales sample to show bankers with the proviso
that I could be an investor if the project panned out.
It didn't.

The rumors about him are never entirely true or entirely
false. He did travel to India and he did live in Florida.
My last recollection of him was a full page ad in Coin World
with an address in Florida offering his services as a
numismatic consultant. I don't recall what year this was
(can anyone date that advertisement)?  The last rumor I
heard was that he had married a wealthy woman and was
living in Florida."

Only three Americans are listed with the last name Taxay
in phone directories (two in Pittsburgh and one in Miami)
and only eight Taxays are listed in the U.S. Social Security
Death Index (none remotely close to Don). If he is still
alive, I believe he is outside the country."

George Fuld writes: "I last heard from him about 1976!!
Some years ago I was told that he resided in India.  I
have heard nothing else about him."

Tom DeLorey writes: "I last saw Taxay in 1977. Not long
afterwards he disappeared.

The rumor that I heard most often was that he had gotten
seriously into transcendental meditation and had moved
to the Himalayas. However, when I met his nephew in the
coin shop at Harlan Berk's in the early 1990s, all he
could add was that the family had no idea what had become
of him, and would like to know if he is still alive. I may
still have the nephew's card in my desk, in case anybody
can offer the family any information I can pass on."

John Kraljevich writes: "The Don Taxay story has somewhat
puzzled me over the years too. I never knew him, but I've
certainly asked what happened to him to several people
who knew him before his disappearance around 1977. The
story that he moved to India to follow up on his religious
beliefs seems pretty unanimous.

Apparently Don was a Hare Krishna, and one person who
used to work with him at Harmer Rooke recalled him
distracting everyone in the office by chanting while he
worked on coins! Somehow Frank Van Valen (my colleague at
ANR) singing doo-wop while cataloguing doesn't seem quite
as bad now.

He seems to have been an interesting character, though
more of a researcher than a numismatist. Breen apparently
felt that Taxay improperly used some of his material and
grew jealous of him over the years. Whatever happened,
Taxay's books continue to be quite useful, though some of
his conclusions in US Mint and Coinage have been shown to
be wrong by Craig Sholley and others."

Karl Moulton writes: "In my forthcoming book titled "Henry
Voigt and Others Involved With America's Early Coinage" I
comment on Don Taxay and his 1966 book "The U.S. Mint and
Coinage".  In Chapter 13, called Modern Misinformation,
I point out a few random errors in the text of Taxay's book,
which were either miscopied from previous original source
documents, made up, or embellished from other previously
unconfirmed publications, including notes by Walter Breen.

If one delves into Taxay's presentation of American numismatic
history, which he himself labeled a "difficult manuscript",
it becomes obvious that he didn't do enough original research,
but simply followed the ABC's of misinterpreting the facts.
This would be Accepting, Believing, and Copying from others
without first validating their claims.  Unfortunately, this
has happened frequently throughout American numismatics.
Please understand that I did not set out to pick apart Taxay's
book, which is still usable if the reader scrutinizes the
claims made, but wanted to make note about a few of the
questionable passages which he and others had written about
people connected with the United States Mint.

What happened to Taxay?  He became a Rajneeshee.  What is
that you ask?  A Rajneeshee is a devout follower of the
Indian cult leader/terrorist Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, whose
world wide headquarters was/is in Poona, India.  Some
background is necessary for further understanding (please
note: most of the following isn't included in my book as
it doesn't relate to the subject matter of the title).

In the mid 1960's, after Breen returned to New York
from Berkley, he and Taxay became very good friends.
Breen was cataloguing for Lester Merkin and Taxay was
then the curator of the Chase Manhattan Money Museum
(having been previously involved with New Netherlands
Coin Co. and John Ford).  They were both at that time
what I would refer to as intellectual hippies.  Over
the years that followed, Breen related the Indian culture
and religions to Taxay, who then became obsessed.
Taxay's family in Chicago was not pleased.  Eventually,
Taxay made an initial pilgrimage to Poona.  He found
that was what he was seeking and returned home in the
early 1970's to get as much money as possible.  You see
that was the real basis for the commune at Poona.  The
Bhagwan owned 93 Rolls Royces at one time.  He brought
all of them with him when he came to the U.S. in 1983
(imagine the import duty).  Plus, he was the first
person to have conducted biological warfare on
American soil, but that's another story in itself.

Let's get back to Taxay in Poona (Pune in Indian).
He left this country when the government was decaying
rapidly under the Watergate scandal and the Vietnam
conflict.  His last contact was with Harry Forman when
he helped catalogue an auction held 12/6/1974.  He then
sold the rights to "The U.S. Mint & Coinage" for a
reported $100,000, and left for India via Florida around
1977 and has not been heard from since.

For several years in the late 1970s (before the Poona
commune was temporarily shut down) Taxay became a
brainwashed and untraceable person to western culture
(similar to Osama Bin Laden today).  He divorced himself
from all he had known and presumably gave away all of
his money to the Bhagwan.  When the commune was transferred
to Oregon for several years, it is unknown if Taxay made
the trip to the U.S. or remained in India at another
similar commune (of which there were several). I have
an inscribed copy of a Taxay book dated 5-30-1980, the
same date as the Chicago International Coin Fair.  He
may have returned briefly to visit with certain members
of his family and then went underground.

When the Bhagwan was deported back to India, he tried
to go elsewhere, but no other countries would allow him
in, so he re-established the Poona site.  The name of the
commune was changed to OSHO.  When the Bhagwan died in
the early 1990's, several of his wealthy followers took
control and continued to expand the concepts of
"enlightenment" to others worldwide.  Yes, they have a
website now.  All they require to join initially is your
passport and taking an aids test.  Everyone is provided
with a red, full body robe.  The removal of your wealth
comes later.

What actually happened to Don Taxay, the individual,
remains unknown, and may never be fully discovered.
He will probably not return to the western world, even
if he is still alive.  For those interested in American
numismatics, we will only have what he presented some
40 years ago.  If he is alive, it would be appropriate
if he would make contact with the numismatic fraternity
once again.

My new book will present many different people and
events of the first United States Mint, based on
contemporary source documents, personal accounts and
actual historical facts.  As I state in the cover
letter of my latest numismatic literature list for
January 2006, "it will definitely change what you now
know".  Plans are to have this informative, original
researched book ready sometime this summer."


Bob Metzger of Minnesota writes:  This week's mail delivery
included a number of numismatic treats, including the December
issue of the Celator, Davissons' Auction 24 "aftersale", and
the Winter 2005 issue of the ANS Magazine (Volume 4, Number 3).

But the ANS Magazine is an "error" issue. The pages are
incorrectly cut and incorrectly bound, to the extent that
the issue is unreadable. Somehow, the sheets were misaligned
so badly during the binding step that the staples have been
punched almost in the middle of the rectos.

While it is an interesting error, I'd like to be able to
read the magazine! Also, I wonder if anyone else received
an issue like this."

[My copy seems fine. Readers?  Bob wins this week's E-Sylum
Vocabulary Award for "rectos."  -Editor]


Bob Knepper of Anaheim, CA writes: "I am still trying to
get some (any) information about three undated notes of
10, 20, and 100 francs, which I own, issued in Arles,
France.  "Les monnaies d'Arles" by Philippe Ferrando
(1997) was suggested but I suspect it was a Google search
and includes ancient coins but nothing modern.  ISBN is
2951103700.  The ANA library catalog does not list it.
Amazon lists it but out of print and no reviews.

Does anyone have or know about the book or know where
it can be borrowed?   I don't want to buy a book and
find it has nothing applicable.

The notes are not listed in "Billets de Necessite Francais,
chambres de commerce" by P. Bourg and A. Hanot.

Any other suggestions?  Thank you."


Bob Neale writes: "For others who may wish to print
out all or parts of an E-Sylum issue, but would like
to fill their pages to the usual margins instead of
accepting the narrow column format, I suggest the following,
assuming use of Windows and MS-Word.

Select the desired text and copy it to the clipboard,
then open it in a new Word document. Select 
and then  and type ^l (caret and lower case L)
in the 'find' field, then type a space in the 'replace
with' field. When you 'select all' the line breaks will
disappear. Then change the line spacing if desired,
restore the paragraph breaks, if any (as easily found
from the capitalized headings), adjust the margins as
usual, and you're good to go."

[I experimented with Bob's suggestion but was unable
to get it to work.  Others may have better luck.  I'm
using Microsoft Outlook 2003, and my incoming E-Sylum
mailings show up with a note that "Extra line breaks
in the message were removed.".  By clicking on the message
I have the option of restoring the line breaks.  So there
may be an even easier way of doing this depending on your
mail program - it may be configurable to automatically
remove the line breaks for you.  -Editor]


In a previous issue, Fred Schwan wrote: "One of my
pet peeves (and it really drives me crazy) is the
use of the word currency to mean paper money. Currency
is the money in circulation--both struck and printed."

Kavan Ratnatunga writes: "Money is generic to both
Coins and Currency.

Although Currency is used to mean coins and notes
many books have been published on Coins and Currency.
The term currency notes is used, but currency coins
I have never seen used.

In any case note-money is now printed on plastic
in many nations like Australia so the term "Paper Money"
is no longer valid term for that class of Money. I use
the words coins and notes to avoid any confusion."

Steve D'Ippolito writes: "Currency" being misused?  How
about "cash"?  The automated checkouts at Wal-mart and
Home Depot tell you that "cash is dispensed below the
scanner"--meaning the paper money only, as the coins
("change") pop out somewhere else."


This week's featured web site is recommended by Roger
deWardt Lane.  He writes: "I was doing research on an
Abraham Lincoln medal, looking for the Token and Medal
Society reference, when this site on fakes. came up.
I found it very interesting."

[This page is from Rich Hartzog's web site.  Rich
has a wonderful selection of information and links.

  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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