The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 9, Number 05, January 29, 2006:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Bill Tatham and Fabienne
Burkhalter.  Welcome aboard!  We now have 853 subscribers.

The topic of numismatic oral history comes up this week
with note from Dick Johnson.  Preserving this kind of
ephemeral information is what The E-Sylum is about as well.
If your phone rings and it's Dick calling for an interview,
sit down, put your feet up, and take a trip down memory lane.

Another thing we just can't get enough of here at The E-Sylum
are first-hand accounts of goings-on at the U.S. Mint, and
this week brings a nice article from an Ohio newspaper about
Mint Director William Brett and the political fallout from
Republicans over the depiction on the dime of Democrat Franklin
Roosevelt.  The article also addresses the 1950s phenomenon
of nickels piling up in Cincinnati, dimes in San Antonio and
quarters in Minneapolis.  Any guesses on why?

Another type of first-hand numismatic history are stories
relating to the design and marketing of the state quarter
series - this week brings criticisms of the Washington and
Utah designs.  But perhaps the most unusual item this
week is a story from The New Scientist on how banknotes are
being used to help predict the spread of disease.  Read on to
find out.  Enjoy!

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Pete Smith, NBS President writes: "The NBS Board is making
plans for the 2006 ANA summer convention in Denver. We are
looking for speakers or other suggestions for programs.
Perhaps after doing the same things for many years, it is
time for a change. What else should we offer to serve the
interests of our members?  Please present comments to The
E-Sylum or forward comments to me through Wayne."

[We'd love to hear from you, so please let us know what you
think.  I'll compile the suggestions for the next E-Sylum;
if not for publication I'll forward them to Pete.  -Editor]


Taken from a press release: "Central Bank of Armenia released
a book titled Armenia's Money Emissions. The CBA press service
says the book can be interesting for those persons keeping
watch on money circulation in Armenia and Armenian numismatics.
There is a brief review of Armenian ancient coins in the book.
The main stages of the record of money circulation in Armenia
are presented here as well.

Besides, there is detailed description of today's Armenia.
Banknotes and coins issued by the Central Bank over a period
between 1993 and 2005 are presented.

The book contains information about money and the information
about how it is being issued and put in circulation."

Full Story


Although it has just come to our attention through a
recent blog entry, on June 16, 2005 Kentucky National
Guard soldier Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester became the first
woman awarded the Silver Star for actions in Iraq, for
heroism during a March convoy mission. According the
the blog entry quoted below, Hester was the first woman
since WWII to be awarded the medal:

"The 23-year-old retail store manager from Bowling Green,
Ky., won the award for skillfully leading her team of
military police soldiers in a counterattack after about
50 insurgents ambushed a supply convoy they were guarding
near Salman Pak on March 20.

The medal, rare for any soldier, underscores the growing
role in combat of U.S. female troops in Iraq's guerrilla
war, where tens of thousands of American women have served,
36 have been killed and 285 wounded, according to Pentagon

After insurgents hit the convoy with a barrage of fire from
machine guns, AK-47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled
grenades, Hester "maneuvered her team through the kill zone
into a flanking position where she assaulted a trench line
with grenades and M203 rounds," according to the Army citation
accompanying the Silver Star.

"She then cleared two trenches with her squad leader where
she engaged and eliminated three AIF [anti-Iraqi forces]
with her M4 rifle. Her actions saved the lives of numerous
convoy members," the citation stated."

To read the full entry, see: Full Story

A mention in Stars and Stripes (see June 16): Full Story


Dick Johnson writes: "I want to do oral history. I want
to call numismatists, or people who have specialized
numismatic information and interview them. But nothing
is easy.

We have unlimited long distance calling for our telephone
service. Great! I can talk for hours. All I need is a tape
recorder hooked up to the telephone. Two aged tape records
sit on the top shelf in my office but provide only intermitted
service so off I go shopping for an industrial strength
telephone tape recorder.

Froogle leads me to exactly want I want -- record, dictate,
transcribe -- all in one machine made by Sony. Even has a
foot control for playback transcribing. $140 more than what
I had budgeted, so I print the specifications and picture
and off I go to Radio Shack. No, they don't have anything
like that in stock. Salesman punches some keys on the cash
register (I never understood that!) and says the chain
doesn't carry it.

So I order it off the Internet and it arrives the next day.
Unpack, assemble, only to learn the telephone recording
adaptor is not included. I can not hook up the telephone
to the recorder without it. I contact the dealer I bought
it from. No, they don't carry it. Sony, how could you sell
a product that is incomplete?

Back to Radio Shack. Salesman taps keys on cash register
again. No, they don't carry it. They tried to sell me a $3
suction cup to connect telephone to the recorder. In my mind
I know that's not going to work.

Urgent call to son-in-law in Minnesota who is the family
electronics guru. Email details what I need. He installs
very high-tech video display systems all over the world.
He would know. He searches the Internet and makes some calls.
Finds company in Silicon Valley that has what I need, he says.
I call to order, only to learn they no longer stock it but
refer me to another SV firm.

Now it's getting serious. This firm really makes telephone
recording systems. Record all day long from all extensions
in headquarters and a dozen branch offices. They ask me if
my phone is digital. No, I learn its not. (I'm still an analog
guy in a digital world!) If it was, salesman says, you can
hook up your phone to your computer and record the text of
all your conversations right on the computer. But the
salesman was talking in a language I really didn't understand
and I can't even describe here. I think I described to him
what I need and I ordered what I think will work. Nothing
is easy today.

All I want to do is record numismatic interviews. So if I
call you and say, "This is Dick Johnson in Connecticut. I'd
like to ask you some questions. Mind if I turn on the recorder?"
You will know I got hooked up."

[This is a great project idea.  Too much information is
lost to history because it never gets recorded.   Periodically
the ANA has a project to collect oral history, and I'd be
curious to know who all has been interviewed so far, and if
and how these tapes are cataloged in the library index.

And here's another question.  We all know who the "A-list"
of interviewees are.  Who out might be a little less known
to the general collecting public, yet has a wealth of numismatic
history to relate?  -Editor]


David Gladfelter writes: "For many years I have used
Grierson's "Bibliographie Numismatique." It wan't until
reading his general work "Numismatics" (London, Oxford
University Press, 1975) that I realized that French was
not his native tongue."


E. Tomlinson Fort, Editor of The Asylum writes: "I am
presently working on a study of Scottish coins and for my
references need the full names of two people who sold their
collections anonymously:

1. The "Dundee" sale [a joint auction of Spink and Bowers
and Merena] 19 Febuary 1976. In 1981, Lord Stewartby listed
the owner as S.P. Fay, but he did not state what the S.P.
stood for, do any readers know?

2. The "Douglas" collection auctioned by Spink [sale no.
119] on 4 March 1997. Does anyone know who this person was?

Please send the answer(s) to"


The Repository of Canton, OH published a story this week
about a former U.S. Mint Director's experiences.  Here are
a few excerpts:

"Fifty years ago, former Stark County resident William
Brett was keeping political party members from playing
penny-ante politics with America’s money.

OK, technically the ante was a dime in the middle of the
1950s. Specifically, the 61-year-old former Alliance
businessman was attempting five decades ago to calm
Republicans who were annoyed by the Roosevelt dime.

Those members of the Grand Old Party couldn’t understand
why a Republican presidential administration — that of
Dwight D. Eisenhower — would continue to make a coin
with a famous Democrat’s head on it."

"The director tried to tell his fellow party members
that the coin controversy really was out of his — and
Eisenhower’s — hands.

“I simply tell them, in as unprejudiced way as I can,
that these Roosevelt dimes, by law, must be made until
1971,” Brett explained in 1955.

The design of any coin could not be changed for 25 years,
he explained. The Roosevelt dime was first coined in 1946.

With that rule in place while Brett was head of the Mint,
the only coin design that could have been changed — and
all changes were made on the decision of the Mint’s director
— was the Lincoln penny, which was first coined in 1909.

“And I can assure you,” Brett said, “I won’t do that.”

"Through his job, Brett encountered some “puzzling situations”
concerning the distribution of coins, the newspaper article
noted. Coins had a penchant for accumulating in certain areas
of the country, the writer explained.

A lot of nickels were found in Cincinnati, for example.
Dimes, to the chagrin of Republicans there, accumulated
in San Antonio. Quarters piled up in Minneapolis.

“We think we know the explanation for the quarters in
Minneapolis,” Brett told the reporter. “There are a lot of
cereal companies there, and people are always sending them
box tops, with quarters.”

"Even if party politics had been successful in stopping the
production of Roosevelt dimes in 1971, the dimes already
in circulation would have lingered for two to three decades
— through several more Democratic and Republican administrations.

We have the benefit of enough hindsight, of course, to know
that new mintings of the Roosevelt dime continue to pop up
in our pocket every year — their existence guarded, at least
for a few years, by a Stark County Republican who was
nonpartisan when it came to pocket change."

To read the complete story, see: Full Story


Every coin design has its critics. An article from
Vancouver, WA discusses one politician's beefs with the
proposed designs for the Washington state quarter:

"Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard said none of the three
designs shows much creativity and he won't be adding
the final coin to his collection.

Southwest Washington certainly didn't get any recognition
among the finalists. Two of the three designs feature Mount
Rainier, even though Mount St. Helens arguably is the most
famous of Washington's volcanoes.

The other is an American Indian-style drawing of a
killer whale.

"Not a lot of imagination there," Pollard said of the
three designs chosen from thousands of entries.

"You have to wonder what they had to choose from. I
wouldn't pick any of them."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


An editorial in the January 29th Salt Lake Tribune objects
to the proposed beehive design for Utah's state quarter:

"I began to wonder what the design for Utah's quarter
would be.

That's where the beehive comes in.

In July 2000, The Salt Lake Tribune published a story
explaining the selection process and how, under the Mint's
guidelines, depictions or logos of specific religious
organizations were inappropriate for the quarters. That
meant, according to the story, no Brigham Young, no Salt
Lake LDS Temple, no beehive on the Utah quarter.

Imagine my surprise, then, when first lady Mary Kaye
Huntsman earlier this month unveiled the three "concept
designs" chosen by the state's commemorative coin commission:
the completion of the transcontinental railroad, a snowboarder
and - drum roll, please - the beehive."

"But given the Mint's guidelines, and the beehive's place
in Utah as a Mormon symbol, it doesn't belong on the Utah
commemorative quarter because it is not universal. It is
representative of the LDS Church and Utah's Mormon roots, but
not of anyone else."

"Yes, I know. The beehive has many secular applications
in Utah. It appears all kinds of places, from the state flag
and the state seal to highway signs.

But ... the root of the Utah obsession with the beehive
is Mormon iconography ... "

"Given this history, and the Mint's prohibition of exclusive
religious symbolism on the state commemorative quarters, I
am puzzled that the beehive was not disqualified as a design

"The one-paragraph narrative that Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.
provided to the Mint talks about the beehive's place on the
state's flag, how Utah's nickname is the Beehive State and
how the honey bee is the state insect, but makes no mention
of how all of these symbols derive directly from Mormonism.

It looks to me like state and Mint officials are being either
deliberately superficial or downright deceptive. I'm not sure

To read the complete editorial, see: Full Story


An article this week from The New Scientist shows how
Researchers might use data from the Where's George
database to help predict the spread of disease.

"Tracking the movements of hundreds of thousands of
banknotes across the US could provide scientists with
a vital new tool to help combat the spread of deadly
infectious diseases like bird flu.

Modern transport has transformed the speed at which
epidemics can spread, enabling disease to rip through
populations and leap across continents at frightening

"But now physicists from the Max Planck Institute in
Göttingen, Germany, and the University of Santa Barbara,
California, US, have developed a model to explain these
movements, based on the tracked movements of US banknotes.

Dirk Brockmann and colleagues used an online project
called (George Washington's image
is on the $1 bill) to track the movements of dollar bills
by serial number. Visitors to the site enter the serial
number of banknotes in their possession and can see where
else the note may have been."

"Although the movements of individual bills remain
unpredictable, the mathematical rules make it possible
to calculate the probability that a bill will have travelled
a certain distance over a certain amount of time. "What's
triggering this is our behaviour," Brockmann told New
Scientist. "That is what you need if you want to build
quantitative models for the spread of disease."

Brockmann admits that the movement of money may not
perfectly mirror that of people. For one thing, he says,
it may be that only certain types of people are interested
in seeing where their bills have been and entering that on However, he says comparing the model
to publicly available information on passenger flights and
road travel suggests that it is accurate."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


The web site is investigating a claim making
the rounds of the Internet that the U.S. "Department of
Homeland Security is secretly putting restrictions on what
customers can remove from safe deposit boxes in case of
"national disaster."

The claim states that: "A family member from Irvine, CA
(who's a branch manager at Bank of America) told us two
weeks ago that her bank held a "workshop" where the last
two days were dedicated to discussing their bank's new
security measures. During these last two days, the workshop
included members from the Homeland Security Office who
instructed them on how to field calls from customers and
what they are to tell them in the event of a national
disaster. She said they were told how only agents from
Homeland Security (during such an event) would be in
charge of opening safe deposit boxes and determining what
items would be given to bank customers.

At this point they were told that no weapons, cash, gold,
or silver will be allowed to leave the bank - only various
paperwork will be given to its owners. After discussing
the matter with them at length, she and the other employees
were then told not to discuss the subject with anyone."

[I haven't seen this claim before and haven’t heard of
any such planned restrictions.   Readers?  -Editor]

To read the full story, see: Full Story


Jim Barry writes: "I have used Southeast Library Bindery
at 7609 Business Park Drive, Greensboro, NC, 27409 for
binding both books and special catalogs. Their telephone
number is 1-800-444-7534."


The Sun News of Myrtle Beach published a story about
counterfeit notes that mentions another scheme to stretch
the value of a dollar:

"A crackdown on fare fraud at Lymo has caused at least
one bus rider to find a more creative and illegal way to
beat the system.  The mass transit agency has found three
counterfeit $1 bills in its fare boxes on three separate
occasions in recent weeks, according to Myers Rollins Jr.,
Lymo's general manager.

The counterfeit bills started showing up after Lymo began
an anti-fraud program called "Show Me the Money," in which
riders must show their dollar bills and change to a bus
driver before inserting the money into a fare box.

Before that program started, Rollins said, drivers sometimes
would find wooden coins, pieces of paper and dollar bills
torn in half in their fare boxes at the end of the day.

"Some riders would tear a dollar in half and fold it up
and put it in the box," said Stephen Anderson, the authority's
assistant general manager. "Then, they'd use the other half
for the trip back. They'd get two rides for the price of one."

Full Story


>From the Thanhnien News comes this story of the
Achievement of a Vietnames collector of world banknotes:

"A 33-year-old man has made it to Vietnam Guinness Book
Center (Vietbooks), which records Vietnamese records, for
owning currency notes from the most number of countries.

Ho Minh Hiep says he has collected paper currencies from
222 countries and territories, adding he only lacks a
Palestinian note to complete the whole global set."

"He has in his collection noted from territories which
no longer exist in their original form.

He is also a numismatist – a coin collector – with a
collection minted in 218 countries and territories. He
has coins made in gold, silver, and bronze and from as
long ago as the 19th century.

He has 200 Vietnamese bills, some of them narrating the
country’s history and ancient features. Others are so
old that Hiep has to go to great lengths to preserve them.
These include notes issued in 1948 by the French colonial
Indochinese government."

"Hiep says among his Vietnamese collection are several
bills issued by the Northern government during the American
War which are unique. Called Truong Son grocery notes, they
were used as food coupons by the military.

The notes were issued in 1962 and, unusually, have the
image of Ho Chi Minh on one side and nothing on the other
– they are blank on one side.

The bills are of 1, 2, 5, and 10 dong denominations.

Hiep also has notes that were printed but never saw the
light of day. The former Saigon printed batches of 5,000
and 10,000 dong notes in 1975 and prepared to issue them
when the regime fell. He says he found these rare notes
in Singapore."

"Hiep became interested in collecting currency bills by

In 1996, when he worked at the Tan Son Nhat International
Airport duty free shop, a tourist presented him a South
African note. “The unique feature of the bill set me off
on my quest to collect global currencies,” he says.

He adds that the regular opportunities to meet foreigners
helped him expand his collection day by day."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[Our intrepid Southeast Asia reporter Howard Daniel hadn't
seen the article, but he's now trying to contact the
collector.  -Editor]


On January 24, The Associated Press published a story
About the sale of a pioneer gold Beaver coin:

"A rare $5 Oregon gold coin minted in 1849 has fetched
$125,000 from a collector who now has a link to a time
when people in the Oregon Territory began to end a life
of bartering with gold dust, beaver pelts, wheat, salmon
and horses."

"If this coin could talk, what would it say?" said Rick
Gately, a rare-coin dealer in La Grande who made the sale
this month between the coin's owner in Rogue River and a
buyer from La Grande."

"At the time the coin was minted, the Oregon Territory's
merchants, hunters, trappers, sailors and Indian tribes
numbered about 13,000 and needed a better medium of exchange
than barter, said Donald H. Kagin of Tiburon, Calif., author
of "Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States."

So in February 1849, the territorial legislature ordered
the creation of a mint.

But the plan quickly went awry. Gen. Joseph Lane, the new
territorial governor appointed by President Polk, arrived
in Oregon City less than a month later and immediately
halted the preparations."

"But Kagin said the declaration did not stop eight "men of
affairs" from immediately forming the "Oregon Exchange
Company" and building their own private, illegal mint in
Oregon City, fashioning their equipment from wagon wheels
and scrap metal.

They began stamping out $5 Oregon Beaver coins, 6,000 in
all, using yellow metal from the California gold fields.

The $5 gold pieces were engraved on one side with a picture
of a beaver and a single initial of each of the men who
started the mint. On the opposite side were the words,
"Oregon Exchange Company" and "Native Gold."

The dies had two glaring errors. Instead of "O.T." for
Oregon Territory, the coins had the letters "T.O." for
Territory of Oregon." And a letter signifying one of the
men, John Gill Campbell, was presented as a "G" instead
of a "C."

"In their day, the coins quickly became known as "Beaver
money." At the time, $3 would buy a Navy Colt revolver
and $20 would get a frontiersman a prime piece of property
or a suit of clothes, boots, sidearm and a horse, Gately

Most of the coins, though, ended up in the pockets of
the well-to-do. Gately noted that 1870s cowboys earned
only about $1 a day."

Full Story


Bob Johnson forwarded this one.  It sounds familiar, but
I don't think we've published it before: "A collector of
rare books ran into an acquaintance who told him he had
just thrown away an old Bible that he found in a dusty,
old box. He happened to mention that Guten-somebody-or-other
had printed it.

"Not Gutenberg?" Gasped the collector.

"Yes, that was it!"

"You idiot! You've thrown away one of the first books
ever printed. A copy recently sold at an auction for
half a million dollars!"

"Oh, I don't think this book would have been worth
anything close to that much," replied the man. "It was
scribbled all over in the margins by some guy named
Martin Luther."

Full Story


This week's featured web page is from the NGC article
archive, about the John Sinnock / Selma Burke controversy
over the design of the Roosevelt Dime.

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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