The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 9, Number 10, March 5, 2006:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers is Leon Majors.  Welcome aboard!
We now have 863 subscribers.

My ISP decided to shut down for maintenance this evening, and
as a result I've not been able to pick up this weekend's incoming
email.  So my apologies to readers who sent in submissions that
didn't make this issue; we'll catch up next week.

Although shorter than normal, this issue does contain a number
of interesting items, including a great piece by Dick Johnson on
numismatics and the early thermoplastics industry, inspired by
Alan Weinberg's recent submission.

Do you know which firm made coin blanks for Flying Eagle cents?
Or wonder why old mint records refer to "dyes" rather than "dies"
for striking coins?  Read on to find out.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Last week I published an announcement of Whitman's new book,
"America's Greatest Currency Notes."  Bob Fritsch writes: "I
was fortunate enough to get this book at the pre-issue price
and save a couple of bucks.  Regardless of the price paid,
the book is well worth the tariff.  Bowers' usual high
standards shine through the book and the pictures are

One lack I did notice, however, is that the price list did
not contain totals.  Each individual description contained
pricing information, plus there was a tabular table as an
appendix.  I dropped these values into a spreadsheet and
found that an investment of $121,396 in 1960 would have
netted $8,808,250 in 2006.  Not a bad return.  Of course
there were some notes listed that have never been sold and
those were eliminated from my totals.  I sent the sheet to
Dave along with my fan letter congratulating him on the book."

[In a conversation with Ed Krivoniak I mentioned a theory
of mine that the rule changes a while back allowing the
publication of full-color images of U.S. currency were a
catalyst for the advance in popularity of these notes.
They are indeed beautiful works of art, and that beauty
just doesn't come across in black and white.  I'm sure many
collectors (myself included) just didn't fully appreciate
this fact until so many notes came to be pictured in color
in auction catalogs and books.

I would also like to note that artist J.S.G. Boggs made a
related prediction a number of years ago.  I've forgotten
the details - it could have been at any one of the
presentations I saw him give in the early 90s.

Boggs said that the art community was beginning to recognize
banknotes as legitimate artworks, and realizing that by
comparison with other art prints, were a very good comparative
value.  Boggs predicted that in time this demand from the art
community would drive up the cost of better notes significantly.

One of Boggs' themes has been the general recognition of
money as art - a note is, after all, a limited edition print.
A very large print run of course, but a "limited" edition
nonetheless.  When offering his Boggs Bills to bystanders he
pointed out that his were works of art as well, and far more
rare, with editions in the tens or at most hundreds.  -Editor]


Howard Spindel writes: "I was interested to read the discussion
of computer-based reference material vs. traditional print media.
Both have strengths and weaknesses.  Sitting at a computer will
just never duplicate the same feeling I get from holding a book
in my hands!

I offer the following up at the risk of "tooting my own horn",
but it is my intent to contribute to the discussion rather than
do that.  I'm looking to show people what can be accomplished -
a computerized reference should be much more than a printed book
that you can read on a computer.

As you may recall, I have been a longtime collector of shield
nickels, especially varieties.  There has been one book published
on shield nickel varieties - Ed Fletcher's excellent "The Shield
Five Cent Series", which came out in 1994.  But shield nickel
varieties are legion, and there are many that are not covered by
Ed's book.  Furthermore, Ed's book sometimes lacks sufficient
pictures to make accurate attributions, and new varieties are
discovered all the time.  I even authenticated a new variety

Many years ago I decided that I wanted to produce a new shield
nickel variety reference.  I spent a great deal of time thinking
about how I wanted this to work, and how best to handle the
inevitable updates.  I eventually decided upon a computerized
format that includes a data file for each variety and a custom
program for viewing and manipulating the data.  I spent 30 years
as a computer programmer, so this was a natural direction for me.

I shipped the first copy last June.  Shield nickel varieties are
not a terribly popular thing to collect, and I estimate that the
worldwide potential interest is perhaps 50 people.  But I created
the reference to fill my own need for a better reference, not to
get rich.  The point I want to make is not that a shield nickel
variety reference is available; the point is that technology applied
to a numismatic reference yields a new kind of reference.

In the introduction to the manual for the program, which I call
SNV (for Shield Nickel Viewer), I cite the following limitations
of traditional print references for shield nickels (which also
apply to most printed coin references):

They were static, unable to adapt as new shield nickel varieties
emerged or to correct errors

They were limited by cost and space in the number of detailed
photographs that could be presented.

Without sufficient detailed photographs, they could be
inadequate for distinguishing among similar varieties and
confirming attributions

Contributions of new varieties by collectors required risky
mailing of coins SNV is field updateable when new varieties are
catalogued or when errors are detected in the database.  The
program simply downloads new data files from a web site.  For
each variety, SNV provides 5 to 8 detailed photos to enable
accurate attribution (Ed's book has 1 photo for most coins,
occasionally 2.)  While some collectors have still mailed me
their coins for photographing and inclusion in SNV, there are
some who have taken their own photographs and submitted the
photographs to me electronically for inclusion in SNV.

SNV contains numerous ways to search through its database
to narrow down the field for variety attribution.

Anyone who would like to read more about SNV (and see
sample photos) can go here: SNV

At the above web page there is a free, downloadable trial
version for anyone who would like to see how technology can
be applied to a coin reference book.  The technology is
independent of shield nickels, and could be applied to
any series.

The manual is online here: Manual "


Dan Hamelberg writes: "I have a set of the Coin Collectors Journal
in blue cloth (Vol. 1 thru Vol 17).  Vols. 16 and 17 are bound into
one.  They all have the title on the cover as David Lange describes.
(Roman letters, etc.) The spine titles are a bit different.  Vols 1,
2, 3, 4, 7. 8, and 9 have spine titles at the top in roman numerals.
Volumes 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16/17 have the spine titles
applied the long way from top to bottom. The years published are
also on all the spines of all the volumes.  I believe this is a
complete set.  There are some slight color shade variations in some
of the volumes., but they are all basically a textured medium blue
cloth.  The significant variation is in Vol. 16/17.  It is more of
a smooth medium blue instead of a more textured appearance as in
the others."


Fred Schwan writes: "I was enjoying my E-Sylum when I read Dick
Johnson's discussion to the effect that a medal factory is not a
mint. I loved it. I was ready for a great fight. This is the kind
of picky point that I love. It is hard to catch Dick making such a
terrible mistake. Before I started banging the keys, I went to my
dictionary for support. Well, er, um. Good job, Dick!"


On Wednesday the Wall Street Journal published an article about
the Ancient World Mapping Center at the University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill.  It is led by Richard J.A. Talbert, a professor of
history and classics, who "is widely known in cartographic circles
as the editor of the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World
(Princeton University Press, 2000)."

The Atlas was "the first work of its kind to be published since
1875. Comprising 102 topographic maps and a 1,400-page map-by-map
directory, it reveals in considerable detail the Greek and Roman
world from about 1000 B.C. to A.D. 650, from the tip of the British
Isles to North Africa, the Middle East and Western China. And it
represents a unique application of the most modern cartographic
methods to the graphic delineation of a world that is no more."

A number of free maps are available in multiple formats on the
center's web site.  These may be of use to numismatic researchers
in placing coins and coin finds into their historical context.
Ancient World Mapping Center


Gar Travis forwarded an article about the fabulous libraries
of the University of Cambridge, which includes a mention of
numismatic literature.

"The famous Cambridge University Library, on West Road, is
one of the greatest research libraries in the world.

Amazingly, it contains more than seven million books and
periodicals, one million maps and many thousands of manuscripts,
occupying more than one hundred miles of shelving - which extends
by a further two miles every year.

Dating back to the early 15th Century, it is a "legal deposit
library", which means it is entitled to claim without charge a
copy of every book, journal, printed maps and piece of music
published in Britain and Ireland."

"The Fitzwilliam Museum's collection of medieval manuscripts
is unrivalled in public museums outside the Vatican, while its
collection of 10,000 printed books assembled by Richard, 7th
Viscount Fitzwilliam (1745-1816) is one of the most valuable
historical and research collections in England.

Liz Fielden, assistant keeper/librarian at the Fitzwilliam said:
"We have three libraries - the Founder's which houses the
collections of rare books and manuscripts, the Numismatics,
which has an important collection of publications relating to
coins and medals, and the Reference, which holds more than 300,000
books, catalogues and periodicals relating to the Fine Arts."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Dick Johnson writes: "Reading this article you are going to claim
I am on a soapbox for Scovill Manufacturing Company of Waterbury
(since so many of my replies mention this firm). This Connecticut
firm made coin blanks for the U.S. Mint to strike Flying Eagle
cents (continued making both cent and nickel blanks for U.S. Mint
up until 1905), they struck coins for foreign governments. They
struck the award medals for the Columbian Exposition (too big a
job for the Philadelphia Mint, this took Scovill two years!).

Scovill dominated the manufacture of metal street car tokens and
sales tax tokens in the 20th century. I could go on mentioning
numismatic items from Hard Times Tokens in 1833 to Abraham Lincoln
ferrotypes in 1865 to World War II victory pins, all made by this
Waterbury firm. They were also a pioneer in thermoplastics.

Rubber was commercially vulcanized in Connecticut (after Goodyear's
experiments in NYC in 1844), leading to the use of other resins
mixed with polymers to form "thermoplastics." Celluloid was mentioned
by Katie Jaeger in her February Numismatist article on the medals
of the American Institute (also mentioned in last week's E-Sylum).
Alan Weinberg also commented last week and was correct in stating
that hard rubber, gutta percha and vulcanite were early forms of
thermoplastics. This was the beginning of today's plastics industry.

But it was the metal industry firms in central Connecticut valley
which took the celluloid ball and ran with it. Experimenting, creating
the tools and techniques to make the stuff. Commercializing it (like
the first rubber shoe sole plant in Hamden CT). These firms were
located from New Haven up into Massachusetts - including Scovill
in Waterbury -- just after the Civil War when industry was budding.

In hindsight it seems, employees who worked at the large firms making
thermoplastics, broke away from these firms once they learned how
easy it was to make the stuff. They created their own little cottage
factories (in small towns dotting the CT valley).

They couldn't do this for coins and tokens. Large firms, like
Scovill, had the costly rolling mills, upsetting machines and
striking press - all expensive and requiring lots of space. Just
the opposite for manufacturing thermoplastics. The press for making
small thermoplastic objects - tokens were ideal! - was similar to
and not much larger than a waffle iron!

Mixing two components together and putting a dollop in the iron
press and closing the lid - the heat and a some pressure made
small products (tokens, buttons, and small parts, even combs).
Set it up in an outbuilding on Monday, press it on Tuesday, and
sell it on Wednesday. That easy!

Daguerreotype cases were also made of thermoplastics in the same
manner. (Scovill was a pioneer in early photography and equipment,
too. Of course they made these cases to display photographs printed
on thin metal plates they also supplied.) Daguerreotype cases were
formed from molds made by the same engravers who cut the big firm's
dies. By adding chemical dyes to the resin and polymers they could
even make the thermoplastic objects in color.

And this leads to an interesting story. Up to this time, the word
for "die," the tool to strike coins, tokens and medals, was spelled
"dye" in America. With chemical dyes in the plant at the same time,
it was confusing. These very firms (including Scovill) ordered the
spelling to "die" for striking tools. Keep spelling chemicals "dye."

You had to remember a "die" changes a shape, a "dye" changes a color.

Second interesting story. Hiram Washington Hayden (1820-1904) was
hired by Scovill as a teenager to cut button dies. He rose through
the ranks, learned business, worked for other companies, formed his
own company with partners, Holmes, Booth and Haydens (with his
brother). Prospered, innovative, he received 58 patents (including
the technique for making metal tubing), owned multiple plants,
became wealthy - in fact he is the only engraver (listed in my coin
and medal artists directory) who became a 19th century millionaire!

His mansion still stands today in Waterbury and he was one of the
first installed in Waterbury's Hall of Fame. He remained an artist
throughout life and even submitted a design, at the invitation of
the U.S. Treasury, for the silver dollar change in 1892, twelve
years before he died.

Late in life he was asked what he was most proud of in his eventful
life. He replied: It was the mold he created for a daguerreotype

[This is fascinating information.  Thanks, Dick!  By the way,
Scovill also manufactured U.S. Encased Postage Stamps for inventor/
entrepreneur John Gault.  -Editor]


Scott Seamans writes: "Here are a couple of oft-mispronounced
numismatic names I thought sure somebody would have come up with:
Krause is two-syllable Krau (as in cow)-zee, not Krauz or Kraus.
Schjoth (with those two little dots over the o), author of the
until-recently standard work on Ancient Chinese coins, is Showth,
according to a Norwegian collector."


Vicken Yegparian writes: "A question about the Google search bar
- I don't get it when I use the link to the archive offered at the
end of the E-Sylum, but I got the Google bar when I used the links
you provided. How do I consistently get the Google bar?"

[For now, the Google search bar is only on the new individual-article
pages.  To get to it, drill down to an article. Eventually we'll put
it on other pages of the site.  You can also do this directly from
the Google web site by adding "" to your search.

One user suggestion we were able to implement was to make searching the default choice for the Google search bar.  Thanks
to those who suggested it, and to John Nebel for a quick update to
our archive pages. -Editor]


Recently we discussed golfer Jack Nicklaus' appearance on a note
issued by Royal Bank of Scotland.  A recent article in Forbes
magazine, sent in by a reader, listed five living non-heads of
state appearing on money around the world (both coins and paper).
No fair cheating - without peeking, can you name the other four


The Numismatic Theatre schedule has been published for the upcoming
American Numismatic Association National Money Show in Atlanta,
Georgia, April 7-9. The presentations include:

Friday, April 7, 2006
1 p.m. - "The Untold Story of Confederate Coins" with James P.
Bevill,reveals how Confederate coinage survived to tell a tale
of intrigue and politics.

4 p.m. - "Coins and Commerce Along the Silk road; 5th to 7th
Centuries" by ANA Gov. Prue Morgan Fitts, takes attendees on a
5,000-mile journey on the fabled Silk Road.

Saturday, April 8, 2006
10 a.m. - "Parthia: The Forgotten Empire" by ANA Money Museum
Curator Douglas A. Mudd, explores an almost-forgotten group of
nomadic horsemen who were able to conquer, rule and survive for
400 years during the Roman Empire.

4 p.m. - "What is Black and White and Read All Over?" by David
Crenshawand Kenneth Bressett, explores the 60-year history of the
"Red Book" and why it made author R.S. Yeoman a publishing legend.

[The Red Book talk was presented at the NBS meeting at the
F.U.N. show in January.  If you missed that meeting, catch the
repeat performance in Atlanta.  -Editor]


Last week I asked, "Are Mardi Gras Doubloons being edged out
in popularity by beads?

Bob Fritsch writes: "The diminishing use of MG Doubloons by the
various Krewes has been a problem for years.  Everyone riding on
a float has to buy their own "throws".  It costs a lot to produce
die-struck doubloons while there are cheaper items to carry the
krewe logo.  MG cards are extremely popular as are beads, cups,
and various other items.  Doubloons are there but fewer and fewer
krewes are throwing them.  Arthur Hardy's MG Guide lists doubloon
issuers each year.

I have been a member of the Crescent City Doubloon Traders (CCDT)
for years and they have done a great job cataloging the various
items coming off the floats, with emphasis on the doubloons of
course.  Like everyone else down there, they were hit hard by the
disaster, but are back in business and a couple of the members are
working on a beads catalog.  Their references are valuable to
collectors of MG material.  PO Box 24418; New Orleans, LA


The Joong Ang Daily of South Korea reports that "North Korea
has proclaimed itself a victim rather than a perpetrator of
counterfeiting that Washington claims it had engaged in.

The new round of positioning came just before a scheduled
meeting between North Korean and U.S. officials in New York
to discuss the U.S. charges and the sanctions it imposed as
a result."

"North Korea watchers in Seoul saw Tuesday night's commentary
as a preview of what it will argue when it meets the American
officials. "The North is saying that it is willing to accept
responsibility for counterfeit money that came into its
possession accidentally," said Jung Chang-hyun of Kookmin

"U.S. officials have suggested that the North must end its
counterfeiting and prove that it had done so, perhaps by
producing the plates used to make the $100 "supernotes" that
are the focus of the U.S. allegations."

To read the complete story, see: Full Story


On March 2 The Korea Times published an article about the Currency
Museum in Taejon:

"The new recently introduced 5,000 won banknotes are designed
with advanced technologies to stem forgery as well as show the
unique culture and long history of the nation.

It seems that a currency represents the state of contemporary
technology and culture, and that's what people can learn at
the Currency Museum in Taejon.

Opened in 1988, the Currency Museum houses about 12,000 items
that show the history of the nation's bills and coins in its
four exhibition sections _ the Coins Gallery, Banknote Gallery,
Security Features Experience Room and Special Product section."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Last week I asked, "Were there any official token issues of
the U.S. government?"

Bob Leonard writes: "I think that OPA red points and blue points
would qualify, plus the Department of Justice Internment Camp
tokens.  Both of these are World War II issues.  The Fugio cent,
in my opinion, was intended as a coin."

[Of course!  How could I forget the Office of Price Administration
(OPA) tokens?  I agree with Bob that these and U.S. Internment camp
tokens likely qualify as government-issued tokens.  Can anyone
name any others?  -Editor]


Fred Reed writes: "My penpal Dick Johnson spoke too soon in the
recent E-Sylum when he wrote:  "Would you ever take as serious
anything written by Donn Pearlman, official court jester at the
Numismatist?" It just so happens Donn has the cover story in the
upcoming issue of PAPER MONEY.  His glimpses and gleanings on the
ABNCo archive (including exclusive photos) are the real deal NOT
just jest."


John Frost writes: "The Barber Coin Collectors' Society (BCCS)
is currently conducting a census and rarity survey for Barber
Quarters.  The BCCS is conducting this survey to determine the
relative availability of the coins in the series.  The Census
is designed to obtain a population distribution across different
grades, and to see the relative scarcity based on what people
actually own.  Respondents are asked to count all specimens (not
just their highest graded coins of each date).  The Rarity Survey
solicits any opinions that a respondent may have on the availability
/rarity of the better dates using R1 to R7 rarity ratings in the
various grades.

This survey is open for all -- you do not need to be a member of
BCCS to participate.  The submissions can be made anonymously.

There are two web pages for this project, one each for the Census
and the Rarity Survey.  Or, there is also a single Excel spreadsheet
for both parts that can be filled out instead, if that is easier for
the respondent.  The results will be published this summer on the
website and also in the BCCS Journal.

The deadline for submission to the survey is April 15.  It can be
found at the BCCS website,

There will be future surveys conducted for the other Barber coins:
dimes, halves, and Liberty Nickels."


Alan V. Weinberg writes: "An observation regarding the references
to Ohio dealer Tom Noe. I've been to several major coin shows since
this story broke and apparently  a few dealers are going to the
show's paging desk and having Tom Noe (pronounced No- eee, presumably
no relation to the late Sydney P. Noe of the ANS and Massachusetts
colonial silver monographs) paged to a particular dealer's table...
full knowing that Noe is not in attendance. The joke is getting old
and stale. Particularly when the announcer pages Tom "No", leaving
off the E in pronouncement."


In the "I couldn't possibly make this stuff up if I tried"
department,  MosNews and other news outlets reported that:

"Turkmenistan's president, Saparmurat Niyazov, has celebrated
his 66th birthday by creating new gold and silver coins in
honor of his books."

"For his last birthday, Niyazov, also known as Turkmenbashi,
issued coins with his family tree on them.

Six new coins have books, one different book each, on one
side. On the other, resides the presidential emblem"

"The book, which is studied in schools and to which convicts
must swear their allegiance upon release from jail, provides
moral guidance, including respecting your elders, and giving
lots of jewelry to women. Last year, a copy was blasted into
space on a Russian rocket, inside a container bedecked with
the national flag. It is hoped that it will return to earth
in 150 years."

Perhaps 150 years is too soon.  
To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[So, is anyone familiar with these coins?  -Editor]


This week's featured web page is about WWII rationing in the
U.S., from "Washington Station", a look at life in the nation's
capitol during World War II, written by Marguerite Howard

"Book Four provided for the use of both red and blue tokens.
These tokens were valued at one point each and would in the
future be accepted as payment for an article or returned in
change should the circumstances warrant. The new tokens were
delivered direct to each grocer. In order to secure some, one
first had to make a purchase, surrender a valid stamp and take
his change in tokens.

They were made of a material very similar to hard cardboard,
dyed either red or blue, and a little smaller in size than a
dime - but to many of us decidedly more important. The real
beauty of the tokens was that, unlike the coupons, they never
expired. If one of your ration coupons was nearly outdated,
you could make one small purchase, receive tokens in change
and save them to use another month."

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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