The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 9, Number 17, April 23, 2006:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers is Carl Waltz, courtesy of John
Eshbach, and O. T. Thompson.  Welcome aboard! We now have 880

Our email list has undergone a periodic automatic purging of
nonfunctioning email addresses.  If you change your email account,
to ensure uninterrupted delivery of The E-Sylum be sure to update
your account information at the address listed at the end of
each issue: listinfo/esylum

We have a mystery on the table concerning the owner of the 1913
Liberty Nickel Barry Jablon saw in 1957 - perhaps one of our
readers can help.  Barry has provided us with another interesting
story of his days in the coin business, and Dick Johnson adds his
own encounter with Barry's boss, Ernie Kraus.  In a related vein
is an article on the Great Silver Melt of 1980.

In the numismatic research department, Dick Johnson provides us
with a lesson in the research value of numismatic ephemera, and
we have some excerpts from the text of  John and Nancy Wilson's
recent exhibit on the Scovill company's token and medal production.
Some of their information came from an unpublished 1943 doctoral
thesis on the firm.

Among new numismatic issues announced this week: Pope John Paul II
will appear on a Polish banknote, and Pope Benedict XVI will appear
on new Vatican Euro coins.  And I couldn't make this stuff up if I
tried, folks - they're baaaack!  The National Collectors Mint is
producing another Freedom Tower "coin", this time under the auspices
of (guess who?) The Cook Islands.

In the "great places for numismatists to go on vacation" category,
we have a nice report from Richard Jewell on Brookgreen Gardens,
South Carolina.  And finally, why did a man flush bundles of banknotes
worth tens of thousands of dollars down the toilet?  Read on to find
out.  Have a great week, everyone.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


George Kolbe reports that catalogs for all four parts of his 100th
numismatic literature sale are available online at .  We've published many of the sale
highlights before.   The following are some excerpts from the
sale's press release:

"Announcing Auction Sale 100 - Parts One to Four: On Saturday,
June 3, 2006, George Frederick Kolbe/Fine Numismatic Books will
conduct their 100th auction sale, issued in four catalogues, at
the Long Beach, California Coin and Collectibles Expo. Each
catalogue may be ordered by sending $15.00 to Kolbe at P. O. Drawer
3100, Crestline, CA 92325, or copies of all four catalogues may be
obtained by sending $25.00. The catalogues are also accessible free
of charge at the firm’s web site ("

Auction Sale 100 - Part One: One hundred lots on various topics,
including: W. W. C. Wilson’s Deluxe Edition of the classic 1913
Adams-Woodin work on United States pattern coins; a collection of
autographs of over 40 early American Numismatic Association members;
a handsome early edition of the first numismatic book, printed in
1524; an exceptionally fine set of Conbrouse’s classic catalogue
of “Monnaies Nationale de France”; an extremely rare 1820 work by
William Congreve on methods to prevent counterfeiting of bank notes;
an exceptionally fine 1875 “Nova Constellatio” edition of Crosby’s
classic work on American colonial coins;

Auction Sale 100 - Part Two: Part I of the extensive American
numismatic library formed by Alan Meghrig. Included is a complete
set of the American Journal of Numismatics, each volume individually
bound; perhaps the first published photograph of American coins,
depicting colonial coins in the collection of Dr. Charles Clay; Dr.
French’s extensively annotated copy of the 1883 Andrews work on
large cents; a very fine 1923 edition of S. H. Chapman’s work on
1794 cents; an original 1892 Dr. Hall work on Connecticut coppers;

Auction Sale 100 - Part Three: Attinelliana, the remarkable collection
of rare early American numismatic publications and broadsides formed
by John W. Adams. Highlights include an original 1876 edition of
Attinelli’s Numisgraphics; the 1851 Philadelphia auction catalogue
of the Roper Collection, the “First All-Coin US Sale”; a very fine
set of Mason’s Coin and Stamp Collectors’ Magazine, 1867-1872; and
many other desirable early American numismatic publications.

Auction Sale 100 - Part Four: Twenty-five notable lots on various
topics, including: an unusually nice 1870s United States Treasury
Department “Vignette Book,” containing over 140 superb bank note
engravings executed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing; the
Hess Library set of Henry Cohen’s great eight volume work on Coins
of the Roman Empire; a fine attractive set of the preferred 1732-1737
French edition of van Loon’s magnum opus on Dutch and European Medals;


David Gladfelter writes: "Have you mentioned the availability
from Heritage Galleries of a hardbound edition of the three
catalogs of the Jules Reiver collection auctioned this past
January? The collection covered all of the U. S. Mint series
through the 1960s including patterns but was particularly strong
in early (1793-1857) copper and silver. The catalogs are beautifully
illustrated and the pieces well described, including pedigrees.
The hardbound has a sewn binding and adequate interior margins.
The PRL is laid in, not bound in. The cost is $125, but it comes
with a $125 certificate good for any Heritage auction purchase. So
it is a free book - the numismatic literature bargain of the year.
The contact person at Heritage is Kathy Eilers at"

[We haven't mentioned the catalog before, but I ordered one last
month and can attest that it is nicely done.  It's a great reference,
and for me it's a great way to remember a good friend - I had many
enjoyable visits with Jules and his wife Iona in Wilmington, DE.

My only complaint about the catalog is that it's just too big for
one volume - I would have split it into separate volumes.  I was
unaware of the $125 gift certificate, and when it arrived in the
mail I was very pleasantly surprised.  David's right - this is
the numismatic literature bargain of the year!  -Editor]


Dick Johnson writes: "The Calvacade of Sports Medal Series
pamphlet arrived in the mail today. I had mentioned in The
E-Sylum that I needed a copy for documenting four of the
medals (v9n14, article 26).

I found one of the medals for sale on eBay. I wrote the seller
asking if he had the pamphlet available (and offered $10 if he
did). He did but wouldn't talk about price unless I was the
successful bidder.  I overbid for the medal, got it and repeated
my offer. His invoice arrived and stated I could have the pamphlet,
he would only add a dollar to the postage. I sent a bonus payment
anyway (perhaps surprising him to see a check larger than the
amount billed).

The pamphlet answered my every question. Four sculptors created
the 12 medals in the set. They were struck by Metal Arts of
Rochester only in .999 fine silver in limited edition of 1,006
pieces and issued by Paramount International, then of Dayton, Ohio.
It pictured every one of the medals!

This does bring up the point about sales literature.  Are you
one of those people who saved all the letters and printed matter
you received from Franklin Mint?  Did you wonder why you did it?
You may be glad you did!

Sales literature often is a rare source of valuable data. In
cataloging some Franklin Mint medals I have often found some
data missing. What date was it issued? What series was it?  What
issue number in the series? Quantity struck? And for me I always
want to know who was the artist(s).(Some were designed by one
person and modeled by another.) Often sales literature has the
answers. Franklin Mint had yearly catalogs -- published by Krause
Publications -- and a monthly periodical, but even so there are
still unanswered questions.

All this is gist for the numismatic cataloger. All part of a
medal's collector lore. Let's hope someone saved all that lore!"

[As a numismatic bibliophile, I may be in possession of the only
remaining empty box of Almond Delight cereal, which pictures and
describes the set of banknote reproductions given away in the boxes
as a promotion several years ago.  If anyone else out there has one
of these, you're certifiably as nutty as I am about numismatic
literature.  Dick is dead-on right: often this sort of ephemera is
the only source of information about certain numismatic issues.
If no one saves them or records the information, it will be lost
forever.  -Editor]


In a message posted Thursday to the American Numismatic Society
Yahoo group, Sebastian Heath writes: "The ANS has received funding
to initiate photography of all the gold coins in the Roman department.
This work has begun and as a first step in making the results public.

The page includes coins that stretch back to our very first efforts
to make digital images available so that the "style" of the images
varies. One goal of the current project is to edit existing images
for greater consistency in size and background."

ANS Roman Coins


Dr. Eugene Bruder writes: "Your article on the 11 cent US coin
has a major error. The man found a struck dime that went back
through the minting cycle and was struck with 1 cent dies, as
witnessed by the details left of the original striking. The coin
in the Coin World article is a mule which was struck only once,
on a 1 cent planchet, using a combination of a dime obverse and
a 1 cent reverse. This is a totally different error, which is
almost unheard of in US coinage. There are actually quite a number
of the 11 cent coins found by Mr. Brooke in existence. (I myself
have several, including a 1990 cent struck over a 1989 dime.)"

[Joe Boling pointed this out as well. Thankfully the professionals
at Coin World and other publications sweat the details and get
their stories right.  Here in the rough-and-tumble world of
Cyberspace, research time is scarce to nonexistent, and I've only
got my readers to keep me honest.  Thanks for straightening this
out. -Editor]


Alan Weinberg writes: "More from Barry Jablon on his department
store coin shop experiences! I didn't know Samuel Wolfson owned
a 1913 Liberty Head nickel. I know he owned an 1804 dollar which
I watched auction for $29,000 by Stack's...I attended the Wolfson
sales, but I don't recall a 1913 nickel. Perhaps I'm wrong."

[I remembered the Stack's Wolfson sale but didn't have a copy handy.  I
didn't remember him as having one of these nickels, either.  I checked the
pedigree lists in the new 1913 nickel book and Wolfson is not listed.  Next
I reread Barry's note for some clues. There were Philadelphia ANA
conventions in 1941, 1957, and 1969.  He left the coin company in 1962, so
we’re talking about the 1957 convention.  I don’t have ready access to my
library or I’d try looking for a reference to a 1913 Liberty Nickel exhibit
in Philadelphia, perhaps in The Numismatist or Numismatic Scrapbook.  Does
anyone have a 1957 convention program handy?  That's another place to look.
This is what makes numismatic research fun.

Anyway, having come to a dead end I did the obvious and rechecked with
Barry.  He writes: "After forty-nine years, my memory could be playing games
with me. I'm sure one of the gentlemen at the counter was Wolfson. As I
wrote, I'm not sure who the other "well dressed gentleman" was. It could
have been the actual owner of the 1913 Liberty Nickel. Regardless, they had
a good time trying to make me crazy."

Owners of genuine 1913 Liberty Nickels in 1957 included the Norwebs, Edwin
Hydeman, Lou Eliasberg, George Walton and J.V. McDermott.  Of this group my
money would be on McDermott, who often exhibited his coin.  But I never
heard of him having his nickel encased in a Lucite holder.  Could the
"well-dressed gentleman" have been banker Eliasberg?  Can anyone confirm for
us who the mystery exhibitor was, before the rest of us go crazy, too?
Thanks. -Editor]


Continuing with his reminiscences of his time in the coin business,
Barry Jablon writes: "Sometime in 1958, we had a big snow storm in
Philly, and Mr. Kraus couldn't get in to work, so I ran the Gimbel's
coin department for the day. There wasn't much business, but Mr.
Kraus called several times to remind me what to do if someone came
in to sell coins. "Don't look at the coin books for prices." "They'll
think you don't know your stuff and they'll think their stuff is

Right before closing a poorly dressed man came to the counter with
two pieces of aluminum foil. "You guys buy coins don't you?" I opened
the foil slowly trying to imagine what could be inside the foil. The
first coin was a common date silver dollar. The second coin was a
magnificent, beautifully toned, 1895 proof dollar. What do I do? If
I call Mr. Kraus at home, the guy might walk. I had no idea of what
to do so I threw at price at him out of the clear blue sky. "$75.00"
I said, "I'll give you $75.00 for both coins."

He took the money and as he was signing the seller's paperwork, I
checked the stolen coin list we used to get each week.  There was no
listing for an 1895 dollar. When I called Mr. Kraus at home, he was
certain that the coin had been altered - the mint mark removed. I
rushed home from work that night, borrowed my dad's car, and went to
Mr. Kraus's apartment with the coin. He went crazy. It was one of the
best he had ever seen.

We sent the coin to the offices in New York as we always did with
purchases and that was the last I heard of it. That purchase established
my reputation with Mr. Kraus and from then on he allowed me to make
purchases on my own, and eventually, to run the Baltimore department."


Dick Johnson writes: "I remember Ernst Kraus, mentioned by Barry
Jablon in last week's E-Sylum. On one of my many visits to the main
office of Coin & Currency near Harold Square in New York City I
stopped at Ernst Kraus' desk to chat with him. I caught him in the
middle of a numismatic chore. He rolled his chair back and threw
some coins in a box under his desk that must have held ten thousand
foreign coins!

"What are those?" I asked. "No value foreign coins," he answered.
As material came into their main office -- you could imagine how
much buying they had to do to keep three dozen coin departments in
Gimbels and other department stores supplied -- Ernst would price
coins and sets for shipment to one of their department outlets. I
guess he was in charge of all foreign coins and culled out what
would not sell.

But over the years I often wondered what happened to that box of
"no value" foreign coins.  You couldn't lift it. It would be
several hundred pounds. But by today's prices it would have been
a treasure chest."


This week marked the 100th anniversary of the great 1906 San
Francisco earthquake and fire.  The Contra Costa Times posted
a number of articles on their web site, including one noting
Superintendent Frank Leach's dangerous trek into the city to
survey damage to the facility:

"Like most Bay Area residents, Frank Aleomon Leach, superintendent
of the United States Mint in San Francisco, was shaken awake in
his Oakland home. He dressed quickly and headed off for work,
figuring he might be needed at the mint. As he walked from his
home to the ferry wharf, he was relieved to see relatively
little damage, outside of tumbled chimneys and broken glass."

"Leach, who was one of very few to return to San Francisco at
the start of the fire, picked his way through the burning city,
taking a zigzag route almost to Broadway and back before reaching
the mint, where a persistent rumor had it that a group of thugs
was planning an assault on the granite building to steal the
nearly $300,000,000 in gold and currency locked up in there.

The rumor was untrue, but caused plenty of concern as the 50
or so mint employees who turned out for work used the mint's
self-contained water supply to save the building.

"The buildings across the alley from the mint were on fire,
and soon, great masses of flames shot against the side of our
building as if directed against us by a huge blowpipe. The
glass in our windows, exposed to this great heat, did not crack
and break, but melted down like butter; the sandstone and granite,
of which the building was constructed, began to flake off with
explosive noises like the firing of artillery," Leach remembered.

"The heat was now intense. It did not seem possible for the
structure to withstand this terrific onslaught. The roar of
the conflagration and crashing of falling buildings, together
with the noise given off from the exploding stones of our
building, were enough to strike terror in our hearts, if we
had had time to think about it. At times, the concussions
from the explosions were heavy enough to make the floor quiver."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story"

[As we've discussed in earlier issues, Leach led a ragtag
assemblage of Mint employees and Army troops in a heroic effort
to save the building and its contents.  In the end, The Granite
Lady stood, the only government structure remaining intact
following the horrific fire sparked by the quake.  The
surrounding neighborhood was devastated. -Editor]

"By 5 p.m., it was over. The men walked across the hot cobblestones
of Fifth Street into a scene Leach described as "utter ruin,
desolation and loneliness." The city's banks were rubble, their
vaults too hot to be opened for several days. But the brave men
of the Mint had saved $200 million in silver and gold from the
same fate. Within two weeks, the Mint dispensed $40 million in
desperately needed money."

For more (the source of the last quoted paragraph above) see:Full Story

To read Leach's full account from his 1917 book, "Recollections
of a Newspaperman," see: Full Story

To view a photo of the Mint after the fire, see: Photo


Gary Dunaier writes: "The article on Maundy coins in the
current E-Sylum prompts me to ask the following three
questions regarding the portrait of Her Majesty The Queen
on coinage:

1) Why do the Maundy coins continue to use the original
Mary Gillick portrait of the Queen, whereas circulating
coins are now on their fourth portrait?

2) Why do some countries continue to use the Raphael Maklouf
portrait, even though the current (Ian Rank-Broadley) design
is now in its 9th year?

3) How come Canada uses their own portrait of the Queen on
their coins Are they not obligated to use the design of the,
er, "home office?"  And are other countries permitted to
create their own unique portraits as well?"


According to an April 20 BBC News report, "Poland's central
bank has revealed a new banknote depicting the late Polish-born
Pope John Paul II.

The note, worth 50 zloty (£9), portrays the Pope on both sides
and will go into circulation in October.

It bears religious symbols linked to John Paul II, quotes from
his speeches, a copy of his signature and the dates of his long
papacy, from 1978 to 2005."

"The National Bank of Poland did not say how many of the new
notes would be released on October 16, which marks the 28th
anniversary of John Paul II's election as head of the Catholic

To read the complete article and view an image of the note, see:
Full Story


"The first Vatican euro coins bearing a bust of Benedict XVI will be
released next week, according to information from the Vatican's numismatic

Catholic World News reports that the Bureay will release a full set of
coins, denominated in euros, bearing a bust of the Pope on one side, with
the inscription "Citta del Vaticano" and 12 stars representing the European

The other side of the coin will be the same as the obverse of coins minted
by other member-states of the European Union."

To read the complete story, see: Full Story


Regarding Rep. Lucas' bill, Roger Burdette writes: "Had
this or similar legislation been in force in 1910 it might
have prevented the wholesale destruction of hundreds of
pattern and experimental coin hubs and dies ordered by
Mint Director A. Piatt Andrew. Thus far, the Mint, in its
various Treasury Department permutations, has proven to
be a poor custodian of national numismatic art and artifact.
There would be no $50 gold Half-Union patterns, no 1933
double eagles, no aluminum cents, etc. if not for the
Smithsonian's protection. The only established place of
"safety" seems to be the Smithsonian Institution.

Rep. Lucas' bill should be amended, however, to include
the hoard of models, galvanos, casts, hubs and other
materials now stored in a basement vault at the Philadelphia
Mint (based on the so-called Iacocca inventory ordered by
engraver Elizabeth Jones long ago.) At present, these
historic items are sequestered from academic research,
and could be destroyed on a momentary whim by some future
Mint Director.

To perpetuate the National Numismatic Collection and open
research, the Mint should be required to 1) provide at
least two examples of every experimental and pattern coin
to the NNC on a continuing basis, and 2) deliver to NARA
all documents dating before 1975 currently in the Mint's

[Illegal examples of the 1974 aluminum cents, the 1933 double
eagle (and the one recently legalized example) do exist, but
Roger's point is still quite valid - the National Numismatic
Collection is the one safe haven for most of these rare
issues.  -Editor]


Alan Weinberg writes: "With respect to the Smithsonian
auctioning off duplicates: I have a two-page single-spaced
letter from the then Secretary of the Smithsonian detailing
the Numismatic Division's policy on "duplicates".  He states
that the SI required THREE of every coin they owned to show
obverse, reverse and to loan out the 3rd to other institutions
for exhibit. My interpretation: they owned at the time 3 1927-D
$20's and would have to own at least two to exhibit the
prolific reverse! Ridiculous."


Tom DeLorey writes: "The headline about counterfeit Euro
coins reminded me that about a week ago we had somebody
come into the coin shop with a counterfeit gold Maple Leaf,
and just today one of the dealers in a suburb of Chicago
reported that somebody had tried to sell a counterfeit
Krugerrand. With gold at heights not seen in 25 years,
I suppose this is inevitable."


As Dick Johnson previously reported in The E-Sylum, the U.S. Mint
is having a problem with cent production due to increases in
commodity prices.  The lowely one-cent coin currently cost the
mint 1.4 cents each to produce.  On April 22 The New York Times
covered the story.  Here are a couple excerpts from the article:

"What happens if a penny is worth more than 1 cent?

That is an issue the United States Mint could soon face if the
price of metals keeps rising. Already it costs the mint well more
than a cent to make a penny.

This week the cost of the metals in a penny rose above 0.8 cents,
more than twice the value of last fall. Because the government
spends at least another six-tenths of a cent — above and beyond
the cost of the metal — to make each penny, it will lose nearly
half a cent on each new one it mints.

The real problem could come if metals prices rise so high that
it would be economical to melt down pennies for the metals they

"Asked if the mint had a backup plan for what it will do if zinc
prices rise far enough that it could pay to melt down pennies,
a spokesman said that such issues were for Congress to decide."

"Pennies, meanwhile, are in high demand. Last year, the mint made
7.7 billion of them — more than the number of all the other coins
it produced. In the first three months of this year, the pace of
penny production rose to an annual rate of 9 billion — the highest
since 2001."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Dick Johnson writes: "I can remember only once before that a
Lincoln Cent story made the front page of the New York Times.
In Saturday’s (April 22, 2006) NYT the story of the rising cost
of striking a cent was indexed on page 1, with a color illustration
of the Lincoln Cent.

The full NYT story with three charts was inside (p C3, see above
article). Floyd Norris wrote about the mint’s mounting problem
of rising cost of zinc and copper, the U.S. cent’s two metal
components. The cost of these two metals in a cent crossed the
line of profitability, according to the major chart in that article,
about October 1, 2005. But the U.S. Mint is not losing money. Yet!

The mint had contracts in place with the supplier of the cent
blanks – the mint buys the copper-plated zinc blanks from private
industry – it then strikes the image in its coinage presses creating
the cent coins. In all likelihood these firms hedged their zinc
bullion purchases when those contracts were last signed. So they
are not losing money. Yet!

However, this cannot last past the end of these contracts. If the
cost of zinc is still above 80% of a cent when these contracts
expire, THEN the mint will lose money by continuing to strike a
cent in the present composition.

The problem has to be solved by the U.S. Congress. Knowing how
fast Congress reacts, I see the cent being struck through 2009 –
the year legislation is already in place to have the cent with
four different reverses (see E-Sylum vol 8, no 50, a 19). There
are those that see these coins as commemoratives in which a
surcharge could be added to their cost to the public. Most
numismatists see these as circulating coins, like the current
Jefferson nickels with three Lewis & Clark reverses -- intended
for circulation.

I predict we will have cents until 2009. But THEN the cent coin
will be abolished. We will have no cent coins of 2010.

Next week: How the cents can go out with a bang."


Darryl Atchison writes: "I am sending you a link to the text from
an address delivered by the Hon. Charles McCrae (the Minister of
Mines for the Province of Ontario) to the Empire Club of Canada on
January 27, 1938.  The speech was entitled "Canadian Minerals in
Peace and War" which deals with the subject not only in a general
sense but also specifically concerns the mineral nickel which played
a significant role in the production of war materials during World
War I as well as an increasingly large role in international coinage

The bulk of the article pertains to World War I, yet many of the
speaker's comments were quite prophetic and as most of our readers
know, Canada altered its circulating nickel coinage during World War
II and produced its five cent coins from a new alloy called 'tombac'.
The article has only peripheral numismatic value but makes for
interesting reading nonetheless."

The link to this article is: Full Story


The posted an article this week about the
great silver melt of 1980:

"We had silver coins come in by the bags. As I recall we
had three automatic coin counters running. It was a noisy
place. At the door of the coin shop we had an armed security
guard. I wore my .380 Walther on a belt holster on my back
under my shirt. We could only permit a dozen or so in the
shop at any one time. Outside, at times as many as three or
four dozen were lined up waiting their turn to convert their
silver to cash money. It was exciting."

"For several weeks we ran an armored courier service nightly
direct to the refiner in NYC. No middleman. We got good prices.
I was only a go-fer. The owner became a multi-millionaire."

"As a lifelong coin collector I cringed every time I had to
count out Morgan and Peace silver dollars, and even some
seated liberties, into a melt bin. Barber dimes, quarters,
uncirculated or not it didn't matter into the melt bins they
went. Who had time to sort them for their numismatic value?
They had to be on that truck that night to NYC! You coin
collectors will like this one. One of the other coin dealers
after paying the melt value, later on opened it and discovered
a mint choice uncirculated roll of 1936-S quarters. Today,
one of those single coins in a roll of forty will fetch
upwards of $1,000 each!"

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[What other numismatic gems turned up in the buckets that year?
Was there anyone at the refineries culling goodies before they
hit the melting pot?  -Editor]


Rich Jewell writes: "I recently went on a tour of Brookgreen
Gardens, Murrells Inlet, South Carolina - what a place!!
Thousands of acres of gardens with tons of flowers bloomin',
and over 900 sculptures by 300 hundred different artists
(A.A.Weinman, Laura Gardin and James Fraser, Augustus
Saint-Gaudens, Frederic Remington, Hermon MacNeil, Paul
Manship and CP Jennwein,  just to name a few).

By far the biggest surprise was the gift shop, where for
the first time they were selling their Brookgreen Gardens
medal series. These medals were previously for their
President's Council, Chairman's Council and Huntington
Society members only. Some of the designers are Marcel
Jovine, Alex Shagin, Don Everhart II, and Eugene Daub.
I thought some of your E-Sylum readers might be interested
in the medal series."

[I've heard of Brookgreen Gardens and have always wanted
to go there.  It sounds like an enchanted place.  From
their web site:

"In 1931, Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington, founded
Brookgreen Gardens, a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation,
to preserve the native flora and fauna and display objects
of art within that natural setting.

Today, Brookgreen Gardens is a National Historic Landmark
with one of the most significant collections of figurative
sculpture by American artists in the world."

Many thanks to Rich for bringing this site to our attention
- more numismatists should be aware of the full range of
artistic output of the men and women who designed the
marvelous coins we collect and study.

To visit the Brookgreen web site, see:

Quiz Question: In what other capacity are the Huntingtons connected to
numismatics? -Editor]


An article in the Northern Advocate of New Zealand highlights
a controversy resulting from the high prices medals like the
Victoria Cross are bringing in the marketplace.  Some recipients
and their descendants would like to sell their medals, where
others wouldn't dream of it:

"For 364 days of the year, World War Two veteran Fred Hyslop
keeps his Military Medal hidden in a drawer.

The Scottish-born Whangarei resident is modest about his bravery
award, and only gets it out of the drawer on Anzac Day.

And if his children decided to sell it, like WWII hero Charles
Upham's family wants to do with his double Victoria Cross, he
wouldn't mind.

"I've told my sons if they really need the money, go ahead and
sell it," said Mr Hyslop, who was enjoying a quiet beer at
Whangarei's RSA yesterday afternoon.

But some of his drinking buddies shook their heads in disagreement,
saying war medals should never be sold.

The case of Charles Upham's family wanting to sell the rare medal
has caused an uproar, and Defence Minister Phil Goff doesn't want
to pay the $3.3 million he claims the family wants.  Mr. Goff also
doubted that Mr Upham would have wanted his medals sold, as he
had always refused offers when he was still alive."

"Mr Yates' view that the medals belonged to New Zealand was shared
by most of the men at Whangarei's RSA, and Chas Sibun summed up
their attitudes' perfectly.

"It's such a prestigious award ... it's New Zealand's."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


John and Nancy Wilson's recent exhibit on the Scovill Manufacturing
Company was mentioned in previous E-Sylum issues.  With permission
I'm reprinting portions of the exhibit text, which relied on an
unpublished Doctoral Thesis on Button and Token Making in America
(Copyrighted 1945 in Nebraska by Theodore F. Marburg) and a book
by William F. McGuinn and Bruce S. Bazelon, "American Military
Button Makers And Dealers; Their Backmarks & Dates" (BookCrafters,
Inc., Fredericksburg, VA., Copyright 1984, New Edition, 1996).

"During the years of existence, Scovill and its forerunners produced:
hard white pewter buttons; stamped brass and pewter buttons; woolens
in the War of 1812; metal buttons, token and medalet production;
hard times and civil war tokens; brass hardware; daguerreotype plates
and other photographic items; political medalets; small cent-sized
tokens, casings for Gault’s patent encased postage stamps; blanks
for the U. S. government; coinage and tokens for foreign governments
and Latin American plantations.

Besides these, Scovill also produced the Queen Anne burners, brass
kettles, hardware, lamps, carriage and harness trimmings, and
probably other household implements.  The firm used pewter, tin,
zinc, aluminum, brass, copper, silver, gold, German silver and
other metals in production of their products.

According to Marburg, “the Scovill’s venture in the production
of tokens, or counters, is of interest as showing how the enterprise
adopted production to whatever the demand might call for.  As early
as 1829, the Scovill’s were supplying business houses with inscribed
medals, bearing the name of the business house and some slogan that
were stamped with a die and lacquered.  (They) may have served this
function and were made already in 1829.”

Quoting more, “These passed at first primarily as business card
or political campaign or as souvenirs, and their use increased in
the early 1830’s.”   “The fact that they were in especial demand
for use in the West suggest, however, that they may have passed as
currency at some points as early as 1834.  Marburg also mentioned
about the dubious currency that was in circulation (ca. 1830) and
how valueless it became.  To me this suggests that Mr. Marburg was
probably giving rationale on why the Scovill counters circulated
as money because of the lack of specie and valueless currency that
was in circulation during this period.

Marburg also talked about the Panic of 1837 and how Scovill medals
and tokens started to circulate as money because of the problems
already mentioned during the early 1830’s.  The Scovill tokens and
or counters ran into a problem in 1839 when a Court in Connecticut
issued a bill against Scovill’s for issuing such tokens, which it
claimed was tantamount to the issuance of a currency.

This didn’t stop Scovill from continuing its production with tokens
and counters along with other look-a-like money at anytime during
the 1830’s and beyond.  Right through the 1840’s and into the 1850’s,
Scovill was hard at work producing various tokens, medals as
business cards and even work for Central or South America, Cuba,
Mexico, Costa Rica, Columbia and Guatemala.

Scovill was given some legal advice in the later 1840’s regarding
“being more cautions” when producing tokens with a human head on
one side and an eagle on the other.  They didn’t follow this advice
and through caution to the wind and using their Daguerreotype plates
between 1848-1850 they produced Coronet Liberty-and-Eagle imitations
of U. S. $5 and $10 gold pieces, even gilding them to look more like
the actual thing.  The distributors’ business names were carefully
added in place of government legends.

After 1866, the Scovill Company furnished the U. S. Mint with the
blanks for a number of U. S. Coins in various metals, copper, nickel
and bronze.  Scovill furnished the full set of 23,757 medals for
the Columbia Exposition in 1893."


Dick Johnson writes: "I am so glad John and Nancy Wilson found
the Marburg report and included research from this for their recent
ANA Atlanta exhibit. Actually there are two publications by Theodore
F. Marburg: "Brass Button Making" differs from his doctorial thesis,
both of 1946.

While the former discusses button making in the first half of the
19th century, it is his Ph.D. thesis that is far more comprehensive
and really gets into the technology that is so close to that of coin,
token and medal making (in fact one section, "The Mint at Waterbury"
pages 397 to 417, actually discusses this very technology).

Example: for years I credited Rogers Brothers, the silverware
manufacturer, as bringing silverplate technology to America in 1849
(for manufacturing tableware). Marburg reports, however, that Scovill
had this technology in 1844 and was using it to plate copper, silver,
nickel, and zinc.

Marburg also reveals that Scovill was using coin and medal technology
in their metalworking activity:  annealing (p 213), burnishing (p 82-83),
chasing (p 105-106), diesinking (p 55-67), edgemaking (p 75-77),
finishing (p 80-108), milling edge (p 177). They, of course, had
been rolling metal strips and blanking since their beginning (1802).

Scovill not only was the leading metal fabricating firm in America
it was staying on top of the technology by importing this as soon as
it appeared in Europe.

I was allowed to photocopy only a portion of the Marburg thesis at
the Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury. Even so it was a photocopy of a
third carbon. It has never been published. It was prepared for the
author's Ph.D. requirement at Clark University.  Its title:
"Management Problems and Procedures of a Manufacturing Enterprise,
1802-1852; A Case Study of the Origin of the Scovill Manufacturing

Marburg undoubtedly had access to the firm's archives. Five years
later, Scovill hired an author, P.W. Bishop, to compile the firm's
official history. By 1952 Bishop had written a complete manuscript,
"History of Scovill Manufacturing Company."  It must not have met the
company officials' approval. He left under questionable circumstances
and showed up working in Europe. That manuscript also remains

The chore is left yet for the Scovill story to be told, and for our
field, the many connections Scovill had manufacturing coins, tokens
and medals for more than 150 years.  John, Nancy, why don't you write
this book?"


Kerry Rodgers writes: "Some light is shed on the recent
discussion of Cook Islands $50 coins by SCWC.  According to
the info given there the Cooks issued over three dozen of
these items from 1991-93. Krause gives mintage figures of
60,000 for many. If my arithmetic is correct (and it is
5.00 am in the morning so it may not be), that is over
$10,000,000 face. Hence the "millions" at stake if too
many of these swallows came home to roost.

And by the way, the coins in question contained just under
an ounce of silver. Later $50s have half an ounce ... which
must make them even more tempting to buy and cash.  Wasn't
there some issue with folks cashing in Canadian commemoratives
a few years back?  The reasons all countries produce 'em is
very simple ... there is a mass market out there that demands
them.  They are a cash cow that will disappear only when the
market no longer exists.

Numismaniacs may like to figure what the price of gold has
to reach to make it worthwhile to cash in the Perth Mint's
latest offering: a ten kilo .9999 fine gold coin with a face
value of $30,000.  Twenty are being "struck" and I have no
doubts all will sell."

[Confirming Kerry's math: 50 x 36 x 60,000 = 10.8 New Zealand
Dollars. -Editor]

Responding to last week's query about another Pacific nation
which recently refused to honor its previously issued "coins",
Martin Purdy writes: "I think this was the Marshall Islands -
there was some "shock, horror" in the numismatic press a
little while ago when they wouldn't honour *their* NCNLT (as
they turned out to be) issues."

[NCLT is the hobby abbreviation for "non-circulating legal
tender".  I like Martin's designation of NCNLT for such coins
the issuer refuses to redeem: "Non-circulating NON-legal
tender". -Editor]


On April 23 the Cook Island Herald published another story with
a numismatic connection.  The National Collectors Mint is at it
again with another Freedom Tower "coin", this time under an
agreement with Cook Islands.

"A silver dollar minted by a US firm under a royalty agreement
with Cook Islands government is bringing this country into
disrepute among international coin collectors.

Collectors say TV advertisements in Canada and the US for the
“Freedom Tower” dollar, minted by Wyoming firm Softsky and
distributed by another US company called National Collector's
Mint haven’t told the whole truth about the coins.

The United States Government has agreed, describing the firm’s
advertising as “misleading.” A similar coin issued by Softsky
the previous year has already landed the firm in hot water with
the US Supreme Court."

"The advertisements for the Cook Islands coin aired in Canada
and the US last year, claimed the coins were legal tender and
clad in 71mg of pure silver “miraculously” found in a bank vault
during the clean up after the terrorist attack on the World
Trade Centre towers in September 2002."

"According to Terry Piri of the Numismatic Department, the deal
to mint the coins as legal Cook Islands tender was approved by
Cabinet last year. However he is unable to say how much money
the coin has earned for the Cook Islands as Softsky does not
have to produce a sales report until September."

"Controversy over the Cook Islands coins, which are not available
in this country, follows a major row in 2004 over another Softsky’s
coin commemorating the Twin Towers tragedy.

According to news reports, they were minted under the license of
the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

The silver dollar, which looks similar to the Cook Islands one,
was described by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer as, “A
shameless attempt to profit from a national tragedy.”

"As a result of the controversy the Northern Marianas ended their
contract with Softsky in December 2004. However some media reports
claimed that by then they had already made $US150,000 from the deal."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Regarding our earlier discussion of palladium coins, Steve
Dippolito writes: "Russia did indeed experiment with a new
coinage metal in 1828-1845, but it wasn't palladium, it was
platinum.  To my knowledge it is the only case of a country
issuing platinum coinage for circulation.  It came in three
denominations:  3 rubles (same size and almost twice the
weight of the 25 kopek piece), 6 rubles (same size and twice
the weight of the half ruble) and 12 rubles (same size and
twice the weight of the ruble).

The coins were made of sponge platinum since the technology
to melt large quantities of platinum did not exist yet.  Some
effort was made to purify the metal in the coins, which
originally was in nuggets and dust, but there is something
like 1-5% iridium and iron in the coins.  The weights are
close to 1/3, 2/3 and 1 1/3 of a troy ounce, respectively.

My understanding is that these coins' values were explicitly
tied to silver during a currency reform in Russia, where the
paper money was being brought back in line with silver, and
the denominations are given as "3 [or 6 or 12] RUBLES IN SILVER".
Only the 3 ruble piece actually did circulate to any extent,
and one of my two examples is most assuredly proof that the
coins saw use, as it has been worn, knifed (probably to do the
"acid test") and bent.

To my knowledge no one has ever issued palladium for circulation,
though of course there are NCLT issues out there."

Ralf Böpple adds: "Just for the record: the palladium coins
from Sierra Leone are the denominations 1/4 golde (KM 22b), 1/2
golde (KM 23b), and one golde (KM 24b). Mintage is given as 100
pieces each (they were also minted in gold in larger quantities).
The year of production is 1966, which would make them indeed the
first palladium issues of the modern, i.e., post-WWII, era of
pseudo-coins. I even found a picture of them on the Internet:
pictures "


Last week a number of readers sent links to articles on the
American Numismatic Association's "Penny Drop" for National
Coin Week.  I didn't include it because of the lack of novelty
and research value, but here are stories from the New York Times
and ABC News: NY Times

I had a lot of fun spending a 1914-D cent one time myself, while
serving as publicity chairman for the Pennsylvania Association
of Numismatists.  To promote an upcoming show I spent the coin
at a bakery in downtown Pittsburgh.  Local newspapers as well
as the wire services picked up the story, and I was interviewed
by news outlets as far away as Chicago.  The cent never came back
to us, although I did get a call from a man in Florida who had
found one.  He mailed it to me for verification and payment, but
I sent it back to him.  His coin was genuine and NICER than the
one I'd spent (and worth a lot more).  Circulation does a lot
of strange things to a coin, but it's no Fountain of Youth.


An item in the Hawaii Reporter April 11 notes that "As of
February 28, 2006, we in Hawaii have lost 120 service members,
who have sacrificed their lives while in the line of duty. To
pay a special tribute to these heroes and to their families,
last year we passed House Bill 8 (2005), which became Act 21.
House Bill 8 created the Hawaii Medal of Honor.

This special medal is awarded on behalf of the people of the
State of Hawaii to an individual who has been killed in action
while serving our country as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom
and Operation Enduring Freedom."

"The families of these fallen service members will all receive
the Hawaii Medal of Honor on behalf of their loved ones. The
Special Joint Session of the Legislature is scheduled for
Tuesday, April 18, 2006 at 10 a.m. in the House Chambers."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Another article published this week described the design
of the Hawaii Medal of Honor and mentioned the designer
and manufacturer:

"The medal features the state coat of arms and the Maltese Cross,
which depicts four axes of the globe to represent Hawaii as the
crossroads of the Pacific. The medals cost about $100 each and
are being made by the Honolulu Mint."
Full Story

The Honolulu Mint's web site gives this background:
"Steven Lee, an award winning jewelry designer, founded the
Honolulu Mint in 1985. Lee applied his expertise and artistry
to first produce a line of coin and ingot jewelry featuring
Hawaiian Royalty. Steven Lee was trained at the US government
San Francisco Mint where the nations' proof-quality commemorative
coins are minted. There he studied press design and minting
operations. An avid collector of historical and numismatic
collectibles, Lee has also engineered and built a number of
minting presses."
Full Story


Arthur Shippee forwarded the following story from
The Explorator newsletter:

"A hoard of 131 Anglo-Saxon coins and fragments were discovered
by two metal detecting friends in a field near Bamburgh in April
2004. Michael Jones and Brian Henderson found 76 and 55 coins
respectively, which date from the 9th century Kingdom of
Northumbria when Bamburgh was the seat of power.

The finds were made in the same field where 253 base silver,
copper, and bronze coins, of a similar age were discovered by
members of the Ashington and Bedlington Metal Detector Club
in 1999."

Those coins are now at the Museum of Antiquities in Newcastle
and North Northumberland coroner Ian McCreath, at a treasure
trove inquest in Berwick, recommended the new finds should
be displayed with the earlier finds.  However, for the time
being they have been deemed treasure and handed over permanently
to the British Museum in London."

"The Bamburgh discoveries have given historians a new insight
into the later days of Northumbria, which had been the strongest
and most cultured of the seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms that had
made up 7th century England."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


The East Anglian Daily Times reports that "Police officers
are investigating the disappearance of two George Medals -
including the first ever to be awarded to a woman - in a
Suffolk town.

Suffolk police were called in when the medals, which are
the responsibility of Aldeburgh Town Council, were reported

The honours were supposed to be kept under lock and key for
insurance purposes but they cannot be found and the force
was asked to investigate just before Easter.

Officers do not believe the medals have been stolen, however."

"The value of the medals has not been revealed but one medal
in particular is believed to be worth a lot of money.

It was awarded in 1941 to Dorothy Clarke, a housewife from
Aldeburgh, who was the first woman to receive such an honour.

The George Medal is the second highest gallantry medal that
a civilian can win. The highest is the George Cross.

Mrs Clarke was with the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) when she
was called out to rescue two Royal Engineers at Thorpeness.

She drove an ambulance and she was assisted by first-aid
attendant Bessie Knight-Hepburn, from Aldeburgh, who also
received the George Medal.

They made their way through a minefield to try to save the
dying soldiers who had trod on a mine. One of the soldiers
died and the other was badly injured.

Mrs Clarke and Mrs Knight-Hepburn, who both died some years
ago, were in the first group of people to receive the George
Medal from the British monarch at a ceremony at Buckingham

To read the complete story, see: Full Story


An article in The New York Times discusses inventor Sean
Sabol's research at the New York Public Library.  His research
led him to the American Banknote Company, which is embarking
on manufacturing product far from the mainstream of the
century-old firm's business:

"The product, Detail Devils, is a portable kit for $39.95
that provides "everything but the bucket" to clean a motorcycle,
including five types of cloth and eight two-ounce bottles of
potions like tar remover, bug remover and leather conditioner.
In auto lingo, "detailing" means a thorough cleaning to make a
set of wheels look like new."

"Last summer, a venture capital firm he learned about at the
library led him to a business partner that is manufacturing
and distributing the kits. This is the first such venture
for the company, American Banknote Corporation, a $220 million
international printing business in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.,
that specializes in printing stock certificates and
manufacturing credit cards."

The deal with American Banknote gives Mr. Sabol a share of
the profits, $2 per kit. According to Pat Gentile, American
Banknote's chief financial officer, if the product is a
success in the United States, distribution may expand to A
ustralia and Brazil."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[I wonder if the kit could also be used by a "Note Doctor"
to spruce up tattered currency.... -Editor]


"Dominating the living room of Marcelo Bezos' home is nearly
a ton of copper slowly taking shape as a massive pyramid of
pennies -- some 300,000 of them."

"When he finishes, possibly next week, Bezos will have a pyramid
30 inches square by 30 inches high, with a tower of pennies atop
it extending almost 6 feet high. He's aiming to break the Guinness
Book of Records feat for coin-stacking while increasing awareness
of colorectal cancer, which a family member suffers from.

"I haven't really told anybody about this," Bezos confides. "I
don't want anybody to start thinking, `This guy's cracked.'"

"Penny by penny, Bezos expects to break the previous record of
a pyramid built in 1981 with 71,825 pennies. The publicity, he
hopes, will focus interest on colorectal cancer, which causes
about 56,000 deaths in the United States each year."

"Whatever becomes of the copper structure, Elizabeth Bezos says
her husband's time was well spent. "I'd rather him do that than
ride a motorcycle for his mid-life crisis."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


According to an April 20 Reuters article, "A German pensioner
flushed bundles of old banknotes worth a small fortune down
the toilet because he thought they were now worthless, police
in the northern city of Kiel said Thursday."

"Police said he dumped some 60,000 deutschemarks -- which the
euro replaced in 2002 -- into the bowl, unaware they could
still be exchanged for about 30,000 euros ($37,000).

Sewage workers recovered about half the sodden currency from
the 64-year-old's plumbing. The remaining notes created a
bottleneck in local sewers, where most were fished out."

Police said the man ... had dried out the notes and taken
them to a bank. It was unclear if he had laundered the
money first."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


This week's featured web site is recommended by Roger DeWardt
Lane.  He writes: "I was researching the U.S. Vietnam Veterans
National Medal 1984 which I picked up at our local club meeting
a few weeks ago, and came across this site about Australian

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.

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