The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 9, Number 29, July 16, 2006:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Ken Douglas, courtesy of Dick
Johnson, John Agre, and Ben Costello.  Welcome aboard!  We now
have 941 subscribers.

It's that time of year again - the American Numismatic Association
annual convention is fast approaching.  We open this issue with
information on literature exhibits and other NBS-related convention

We also have a follow-up on the fabled 1849 Eckfeldt-DuBois book
with California Gold samples, and learn about some other books to
include gold samples.

Reader queries this week include a request for a Wedgewood medallion
photo and a recommendation for a book on the coin manufacturing process.
As a result of some of last week's queries and articles, this issue is
also loaded with articles and information relating to coin dies.
Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


NBS President Pete Smith reminds us that Monday, July 17, is the
deadline for exhibit applications for the 2006 ANA World's Fair of
Money in Denver, CO.  Remember, there is a special category for
numismatic literature exhibits that the Numismatic Bibliomania
Society helped set up.  The Aaron Feldman Award is given each year
to the top numismatic literature exhibit.  For a list of past
winners and information on exhibiting, see the Exhibits page on
the NBS web site: club_nbs_exhibits.html

If you've been thinking about exhibiting it's time to scramble,
but all you need to do NOW is fill out an application form and
fax it to ANA headquarters.  You'll have until the convention
begins to pull together and finalize your exhibit.

See the American Numismatic Association's web site for copies of
the exhibit application and rules.  Here's a direct link to the
exhibit page: ANA'a Exhibit Page

A few nice exhibits from past years are shown on the NBS web site.
Here are the direct links:

First Photographic Plate in American Numismatics
Jim Neiswinter, 2002

ANA Membership: The Printed Record
David Sklow, 2001

The Challenging Literature of A. M. Smith
Pete Smith, 1996

The convention is a once-a-year opportunity to strut your stuff.
Please consider sharing some of your library treasures and
knowledge with your fellow bibliophiles and conventioneers!


NBS President Pete Smith writes: "The Numismatic Bibliomania
Society will host a seminar at the upcoming ANA convention in
enver. This is scheduled for Thursday, August 17, at 11:30am
in room 710.

The first part of the seminar will be a panel discussion on
literature treasures from the recent sale of the library of
John J. Ford. The second part will be an open forum for researchers
to discuss current projects and solicit help with resources. No
prior registration is required. We encourage NBS members to
attend and participate.

The official annual business meeting will be held on Friday,
August 18, at 11:30 am in room 707. As in past years, we will
have reports from officers, the presentation of awards for best
article in The Asylum, and a benefit auction. Watch The E-Sylum
for a preview of auction items as we receive them. We also
encourage members to bring these items directly to the sale."


>From Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam Howard A. Daniel III writes:
"I have found a very few numismatic pieces to buy in HCMC and
three old economics references.  But I have seen more than I
want of counterfeit US dollar-sized coins from the 18th century
to date for less than a US$1 each!

If anyone has unwanted numismatic publications of ANY kind, I
will gladly take them to hand out in NBS's name at the ANA Shows.
Ship them to me at my home, to the ANA Show, or bring them with
you to the show.  Please contact me at  I
brought 92 publications with me to the 2006 Atlanta ANA and gave
away 89 of them.  Many of them went to young collectors but most
went to adult new collectors with a slip of paper that it was
from NBS.  I will be at the 2006 Denver ANA with a club table
for NBS, IBNS, NI and the Philippine Collectors Forum."

[I have a box of recent catalogs I'll give to Howard for the
convention.  He is one of the unsung heroes of bibliomania,
working tirelessly throughout the show to promote NBS and other
organizations.  If you're at the convention, please stop by and
see Howard, and more importantly, offer him some help.  It can
be a fun break to sit and man a table and watch the world go by
- you never know who'll you'll meet, and just maybe you'll
recruit some great members.  If the Asylum and E-Sylum have
given you many hours of reading pleasure over the past year,
please consider giving an hour or two back to the organization.
Howard can be contacted at -Editor]


Gary Trudgen, CNL Editor writes: "The August 2006 issue of
The Colonial Newsletter (CNL) has been published.

In this issue we are pleased to present another important,
in-depth study by award-winning author Dr. Louis Jordan.  In
the summer of 2004, archeologists uncovered a lead token with
the initials DK on one side in the town of Ferryland, Newfoundland.
This token, which is dated to the 1640s, is a significant find
because it may be the earliest known coinage produced in
British North America.

Dr. Jordan's paper is a significant contribution to the study
of numismatics in early North America.  His ability to dig out
the facts from centuries past is impressive and his ability to
present these facts in a well-written paper is equally impressive.
As you read this paper you will learn from a numismatic perspective
about life and the people who lived it in the New World.

Also included in this issue is a reprinted article concerning the
1753 coppers crisis in New York City.  A proposed devaluation of
copper halfpence resulted in heated controversy, confusion, and
rioting.  The article, which is based upon information gleaned
from the local newspapers of the time, presents both sides of the
question.  As with most controversies, in the beginning emotions
ran very high as the pros and cons of devaluation were publicly
discussed, but with time the turmoil subsided as the majority
of the people began to accept the devaluation.

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

[NOTE: A new cumulative index of the Colonial Newsletter through
number 131 is available at: Colonial Newsletter Index


Jerold Roschwalb writes: "I find your reports most interesting
and useful.  I began collecting coins several years ago when I
found that many, if not most, young people I encountered had been
denied sound education in geography and world history.  I thought,
as a former teacher, that my grandchildren would learn these
subjects because they were interested in them without knowing
it was an academic exercise.

I now have several thousand coins from 150 countries and a variety
of U.S. coins from different times.  Children are naturally curious
and I know they will ask how the coins came to be not only historically
but materially.  The Mint has some good stuff.  I found a brief
pamphlet by Denis Cooper, published by Shire in England that is very
good.  I now seek whatever else is available.

I wonder if you can advise me on texts that describe in detail
the manufacturing of coins from the making of planchets to the
striking of proofs -- today and through the ages.  Thank you for
your fine work and any assistance you may offer."

[I immediately thought of the Taylor Morrison book we discussed
earlier in The E-Sylum.  I put the question to our resident minting
technology expert, and here are his recommendations.  Any others?

Dick Johnson writes: "Without a doubt, the first book to give to
children is "The Buffalo Nickel" by Taylor Morrison (published 2002
by Houghton Mifflin). This exciting book will stimulate children's
interest in the subject and the field of coin collecting. Not only
does it appeal to small fry but also to adults.

Author Morrison did extensive research and got the technology of creating
coins absolutely correct so it provides a quick overview for all of
us. He applied this research to his illustrations as well as his text.
The widespread appeal of the American five-cent coin (issued 1913-38)
is verified by the fact that the U.S. Mint resurrected the
Indian-Buffalo design for the gold $50 piece issued earlier this year!

Educator Roschwalb found the Denis Ralph Cooper booklet on "Coins and
Minting" (the 1996 Shire publication). If you like this inexpensive
32-page paperback you will also enjoy his full treatment of the subject
-- "The Art and Craft of Coinmaking; A History of Minting Technology"
(published 1988 by Spink & Son). Its 264 pages are the best in English
on the subject. The author was chief engineer at the British Royal Mint
and brought a lifelong professional experience to the subject.

If the kids like something close to a textbook, get a copy of James
Wiles' "The Modern Minting Process" from the American Numismatic
Association. It's like a correspondence course - read it take the
self tests provided.

Other than these general books, it gets pretty technical in the
rest of the literature. I like Walter Breen's "Dies and Coinage"
in Hewitt's Information Series, and Richard Doty's "The Soho Mint
and the Industrialization of Money." The latter is a tribute to
Matthew Boulton who did more for the minting of coins and medals
than any other individual in the world! He not only created a mint,
but also industrialized the entire minting process."

[I'd like to add that members of the American Numismatic Association
can borrow library books by mail, so it's not necessary to seek out
and purchase these works individually, which can be difficult for the
out-of-print titles.  -Editor]


Larry Mitchell forwarded a link to a web page for a new book,
"The Social Life of Money in the English Past" by Deborah Valenze.

"In an age when authoritative definitions of currency were in flux
and small change was scarce, money enjoyed a rich and complex social
life. Deborah Valenze shows how money became involved in relations
between people in ways that moved beyond what we understand as its
purely economic functions. This highly original investigation covers
the formative period of commercial and financial development in
England between 1630 and 1800."

[The Blanche book was reviewed in the Friday, July 14 issue
of The Wall Street Journal. -Editor]

For more information, see: bMore Info


Roger Burdette writes: "A word to your readers about "The Big
Problem of Small Change" by Thomas J. Sargent and Fran?ois R. Velde.
This is an excellent book that will challenge the preconceptions of
many. It is also densely packed with information and analysis, and
not for the lighthearted reader."


Bob Van Ryzin writes: "The September 2006 issue of Coins magazine
features a lead article by Roger W. Burdette on Augustus Saint-Gaudens
and his famous double eagle, based on the extensive research Roger
did for his book, Renaissance of American Coinage, 1905-1908.

The seven-page article focuses on the development of the high relief
coins and is heavily illustrated, including photos of original plasters
for the double eagle (courtesy of the Saint-Gaudens National Historic
Site in Cornish, N.H.)."


Ron Benice writes: "A recently published book, "The Senator and
the Socialite", by Lawrence Otis Graham is a biography of Blanche
Bruce who was Register of the Treasury 1881 - 1885 and 1897 -1898
and thereby a signer of U. S. currency.  He was born into slavery
in 1841, became a United States Senator from Mississippi during
Reconstruction and after being defeated for reelection was
appointed Register by President Garfield.  I assume this made him
the first black signer of U.S. currency.  Was he the only one?"

[Good question.  The Wikipedia entry agrees that Bruce was the
first African-American signer of U.S. currency.  Can anyone list
the others for us?  -Editor]

To read more on Blanche Bruce, see:

For a table of signature combinations on U.S. currency, see
this page on Ron Benice's web site:


Last week brought news of a new nomination for Director of the Mint.
Numismatic News published an article by David Ganz on "Edmund C. Moy,
48, an ethnic Chinese-American who grew up in Waukesha, Wis., and
was a childhood coin collector was nominated June 29 by President
George W. Bush to become 38th director of the United States Mint....
He and his wife, Karen Moy, live in the Washington, D.C., area."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

Moy has begun to be interviewed by the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban
Affairs Committee. The Denver Post reported July 12 on the Denver Mint

"The man designated by President Bush to head the U.S. Mint promised today
he'd work aggressively to thwart sexual harassment of workers, a persistent
problem at the Denver facility."

"A vote on Moy's nomination has not been scheduled. He must first be
approved by the banking committee before a full Senate vote."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


In a follow-up to our earlier discussion, David Ganz writes: "The
Senate caved July 12 and accepted the House of Representatives title
to the commemorative coin Bill honoring the life of Louis Braille.
Thus assuaged, the Bill was cleared for forwarding to the White House
where President Bush is expected to sign it into law within the
statutory 10 days."


Katie Jaeger writes: "I am in need of a print-quality color digital
image (300 dpi or better) of any Josiah Wedgwood antislavery medallion
or plate of 1788, similar to the one depicted in the following link:

Wedgewood incorporated this design into a variety of objects, and
any of one them would do for illustrative purposes. Of course, I am
also requesting permission to publish this image in a book.  Thanks


According to a July 11 report by Reuters, "Smugglers have tried
to ship out millions of older one-peso coins from the Philippines,
not for their face value of less than 2 U.S. cents each but for
the copper and nickel content as metals prices soar.

The central bank said customs authorities seized a 40-foot container
at the weekend that was loaded with 2-3 million coins, weighing
12.2-18.3 tonnes, bound for Japan. Any export of coins worth more
than 10,000 pesos ($191) must be declared.

It was the latest attempt this year to illegally ship the one-peso
coins minted until 2003, after seizures of about 400,000 pieces in
May and 1 million pieces in February, central bank Deputy Governor
Armando Suratos told Reuters Tuesday."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


On July 10 the New Zealand Herald published a short article
about the changeover to new coinage in that country:

"From the end of the month, the Reserve Bank is phasing out the
current 50, 20, and 10 cent coins, making way for smaller and
lighter versions.

The 5c coin is to be taken out of circulation altogether and
the 10c replaced by a copper-coloured coin.

The designs on the coins will not change."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


The Chicago Sun-Times published an article on July 10 about a
man's visit to local coin dealer Harlan J. Berk, Ltd. to sell
an old accumulation of coins and paper money:

"Nick arrived at the appointed hour, toting a satchel full of
coins. They'd been stored for years in purple velvet Crown Royal
drawstring bags, plastic containers and wilted brown paper lunch

The "collection" also included some large-sized bills -- paper
money left over from an earlier era.

It was an impressive hoard -- but would it be worth anything?

Berk, Nick and I discussed the possibilities, while Berk's
right-hand man, Bob Greenstein, started sorting the coins
with amazing speed, and no apparent rhyme or reason.

The collection contained a lot of pennies, and Berk whetted our
appetites by pointing out that a 1955 penny "double-die" from
the Philadelphia mint could be worth as much as $1,500, depending
on the condition. In that year, and at that mint, a number of
coins were struck by a malformed die stamp -- resulting in what
looks like two separate images.

I could see the headlines already, but then Berk pointed out
that the odds were a billion to one of finding such a penny."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


John Agre attended the recent course on Early American Coins
and Paper Money at the American Numismatic Association summer
seminar, and published a nice report on his web site:

"Classes were offered on a slew of numismatic topics, from the
esoteric (Shipwrecks), to the mainstream (Coin Grading) to the
sublime (Early American Coins and Paper Money). Of course I
chose the latter, taught by John Kraljevich, Director of
Numismatic Research for ANR, and Erik Goldstein, Curator of
'Mechanical Arts' and Numismatics at the Colonial Williamsburg

As much as I consider myself to be well versed on the subject
at hand, I knew there was significantly more to learn and I
was not disappointed. John and Erik put the early American series
into sharp historical focus while flexing their astonishingly
well-developed Trivial Pursuit muscles. They variously cited
the signature of Jacob Graff on a January, 1779 issue of Colonial
Currency and identified him as the man who leased Thomas Jefferson
a room in Philadelphia in 1776 so he'd have a quiet place to write,
illustrated and demonstrated the process by which Pine Tree
Shillings were struck and how various errors and clash marks
endemic to the coinage were created, and then outlined why the
Washington Ugly Head is almost certainly not an issue struck
during the colonial period.

And, to ensure that the class didn't become too dry, they
interspersed the detailed explanations with frequent loud
raspberries to signify which issues really do not belong in
the Redbook based on the criteria that they didn't circulate
in the colonies, or are of questionable authenticity, or
weren't actually money. Here's a hint: The Rhode Island Ship
Medal is a medal. MEDAL. M-E-D-A-L. Not a coin."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


According to the organization's press release, "The American
Numismatic Association will expand its Summer Seminar schedule
to include programs at both annual conventions, beginning with
the National Money Show in Charlotte, N.C., next March."

"The commitment to expanding educational courses means students
have the option of taking Summer Seminar-type classes in three
locations at three different times of the year,"

"Currently, 280 students are attending Summer Seminar classes
in Colorado Springs; 76 of those participants are first-time
students. ANA Executive Director Chris Cipoletti said he expects
significantly more students will be able to enroll in Summer
Seminar courses when they're offered at different dates and

[The press release notes that information on these educational
programs will be made available on the ANA's web site and at
the ANA booth during the Denver Convention in August.  That's
not much time to coordinate instructor schedules; these are
volunteer efforts and it's not easy to find qualified, dedicated
instructors willing to travel at their own expense to teach
these great courses.  The Summer Seminar is one of the best
programs the ANA has ever developed - let's keep our fingers
crossed that these changes don't stretch scarce resources
too thin.  -Editor]


Regarding last week's eBay sale of the 1849 Eckfeldt-DuBois
"Manual of Gold and Silver Coins of All Nations", Dan Friedus
writes:  "In 1982, I was the lucky buyer of Henry Clifford's
"Manual of Gold and Silver Coins..." with the gold samples.
I was then the foolish seller of that book in 1987 (one of
a group of books I sold to help me buy my first house).
Virtually all the other items I sold were much more easily
replaceable than that book (and, other than on eBay, the E&B
seems to have increased in value closer to where I believe
it belongs.

The price at the Clifford auction was a bargain given its
rarity and historical interest to numismatic bibliophiles as
well collectors of books on western history such as those
who interested in "The Zamorano 80" but collecting a bit
more broadly.  Clifford himself included the Zamorano 80 as
part of his collection.

Not having seen it in almost 20 years, I have to admit that
I don't recall the binding well enough to tell you whether
the eBay copy was formerly mine.  But the person who bought
it is astute enough that if he was lucky enough to upgrade,
I think he'd have chosen a venue that would have resulted in
a price more in line with the books value.  If, as I suspect,
it is coming in from non-numismatic circles then it's a nice
addition and hopefully will remain in the hands of numismatists
for a long time.

On a related note, I once was trying to sell a copy of the more
common 12mo E&B with gold and was surprised to see how little
interest in it there was among collectors of pioneer gold coins.
For less than their least expensive coins, they could have acquired
both a gold nugget with a firm provenance to the earliest part of
the Gold Rush plus a piece of processed gold of the same time and
location.  The book with gold is rarer even than most pioneer
gold coins.

I eventually found a buyer but had naively thought that even a
numismatist who doesn't focus on books would find this as
historically important as their coins.  The cynic in me thinks
that perhaps the key is the difference between the word "numismatist"
and "collector" (which, of course is when my cynicism doesn't
replace "collector" with "investor" or "speculator").

The optimist in me simply appreciated that the price being low
meant I was able to own both versions of this amazing work for a
while. Alas, I sold both too early to take advantage of the apparent
price increases (at least when sold in the proper venue).  No
regrets, though. It's nice to have great books.  It's also nice to
have a house."

[Many thanks to Dan for providing the background on his copies of
Eckfeldt-DuBois.  A couple things may require explanation for the
non hard-core bibliophiles among our readers.  First, the "The
Zamorano 80" is a list of 80 key early publications relating to
the history of California, and is the Holy Grail of California
bibliophiles, much like a complete Sheldon variety set is the
ultimate goal of many Large Cent collectors.  Here are links to
two web pages with more information:
More Info

The other item which may be puzzling non-bibliophiles is "12mo".
This refers to a standard description of book sizes.  See the next
item for more information.  -Editor]


"The names of book sizes are based on the old system, still widely
used, of considering the size of a page as a fraction of the large
sheet of paper on which it was printed... In printing books, an even
number (as 4, 8, 16, 32, 64) of pages is printed on each side of a
single large sheet, which is then folded so that the pages are in
proper sequence and the outside edges are cut so that the book will
open. Except for the largest size, the folio, the name of the size
indicates the fractional part of the sheet the page occupies (as
octavo "eighth")."

For example, 12mo or twelvemo (also called duodecimo), is a book
printed 12 pages to a large sheet, then cut and bound.  Bigger
numbers mean SMALLER books; 12mo is smaller than 8vo or 4to.

For more information on book size descriptions, see:
Book Size Descriptions


Referring to last week's mention of the 1849 Eckfeldt-DuBois
"Manual of Gold and Silver Coins of All Nations", Fred Holabird
writes: "There are no other books that I know of with gold samples
included except Eckfeldt. Several others have sold privately over
the past couple of years, but this is a true rarity. Some of the
books do not still have the gold present, so they obviously sell
for significantly less. At one point, John Marshall's autobiography
was reported as having a gold nugget attached to the frontis, but
I have not seen this."

Denis Loring notes: "The 93rd issue of the newsletter of the
Chicago Coin Club is entitled "Gold Dust Currency," and a small
sample of gold dust is attached!"

Mark Borckardt writes: "Dave Bowers' book on the Central America,
the deluxe edition that was sold with the ingots, had a small
gold sample inside the front cover."


Past NBS President Michael J. Sullivan writes: "In response to the
query on Naramore:  No ? his photographic sheet is not complete.
Here is a description from my collection.  If anyone needs information
on literature related to counterfeiting and/or counterfeit detection,
I can usually help as my library is very deep in this area.

Naramore, R[obert] C.  Naramore's United States Treasury and National
Bank Note Detector.  Pocket Edition.  Being Exact Copies of the
Genuine Plates, Photographed from the Proof Sheets, By Permission
of Hon. H. McCullouch, Secretary U.S. Treasury.  Published by American
Photograph Co., Bridgeport, Conn.  [1866].  18 individual 10 cm. x 6.3
cm Photographs, Housed in a Two Piece, Blue Cardboard Box with Gold

Unlisted in Dillistin.  The 18 photographs include U.S. Notes: $1,
$2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, and $1000; and National Bank Notes:
$1 (Pittsburgh National Bank of Commerce), $2 (Washington National
Bank of Boston), $5 (National Union Bank of Swanton, Vermont), $10
(Second National Bank of Sandusky, Ohio), $20 (New York National
Exchange Bank), $50 (New York National Exchange Bank), $100 (New
York National Exchange Bank), $500 (Manufacturers National Bank of
Philadelphia), $1000 (Fourth National Bank of City of New York).

It is interesting to note Laban Heath's second edition counterfeit
detector also published in 1866, illustrates a counterfeit $20 on
the Fourth National Bank of City of New York.   Printed on the back
of the Naramore "cards" in purple ink "A Souvenir of the United
States Treasury Notes and National Bank Notes, by Photographic Copies
of the Circulating Notes issued by Act of Congress, Taken from Proof
Impressions on file in the U.S. Treasury Depar't.  Published by
permission of Hon. H. McCullouch, Sec'y U.S. Treasury.  Published
by the American Photograph Co., Bridgeport, Conn.  Entered according
to Act of Congress In the year 1866, by R.C. Naramore, in the Clerk's
Office of the Dist. Court of Connecticut.

Davis auction sale 23 "The earliest use of photography in counterfeit
detection, and tied with the Nathaniel Paine work on Massachusetts
currency as the first American numismatic work using that technology.
The images taken from unsigned proof sheets with the permission of
Treasury Secretary McCullouch, appear in four forms:  as a single
sheet with the eighteen images arranged 3 x 6; with the single sheet
mounted on a printed black card with a brass eyelet for hanging; on
cards housed in a morocco pouch; and as offered in the rare original
cardboard box."  Naramore's were issued without text, limiting their
usefulness to comparison and detection alone versus the educational
approach employed by Foote, Gear, Eastman, Peyton, Heath, and Wilbur."


Dick Johnson writes: "Dick Hanscom?s problems with striking gold
can be resolved by Heat Treating. This is a concept that is so
little understood in the numismatic field but so universally
important to any step of metalworking (including the fabrication
of gold which is usually so easy to work with).

Frankly I don?t know how you heat treat gold. My experience is
with iron ? as with dies ? or copper, bronze and silver ? as for
struck medals. Heat treating can be done to harden or soften iron
or steel at will. You can soften a die or die blank to engrave it
by Annealing. This is accomplished by heating the steel die in
special annealing ovens or dousing it in a pot of molten salt.
Temperature is critical. Then it must be allowed to cool slowly.
Another name for this is Normalizing.

To harden steel you heat it and quench it rapidly. Again temperature
is critical. There are two kinds of steel. Oil hardened or water
hardened (depending upon the amount of carbon in its manufacture).
The die must be quickly immersed in the proper liquid. This is called
Quenching. If this is done a subsequent time or two it is called

Striking medals (or almost any metalworking step) WORK HARDENS the
metal (copper, bronze or silver). To strike it again, as for higher
relief, the medals can be heated in an oven and allowed to cool
slowly. This can be done on a continuous belt. The medals can then
be placed back on the press for another blow.

Treatment by Annealing relieves the Stress built up in the internal
structure of the die. It changes the physical property of metal.
(Think of it as loosening up the molecules that have gotten bunched
up by, say, striking).

When the U.S. Mint began operations in 1792 they had tremendous
problems making dies and striking coins until they understood Heat
Treating. Coiner Adam Eckfelt solved these problems by conducting
experiments until he got it right. It is understandable Dick
Hanscom has similar problems.

In regard to "engraving how to," no such website exists. I have
been collecting this information for forty years. Only recently
have I been able to write a 6,100-word essay on "Engraving" as
an entry for my encyclopedia of coin and medal technology. If
the information was easy to find I would have been able to write
it much earlier.

Dick, you don?t pull your own teeth or perform your own surgery.
My advice is to hire a professional coin die engraver. I can
recommend three in the field who are quite knowledgeable for the
dies you need (in alpha order): Ken Douglas (,
Virginia Janssen (, and Ron Landis


Inspired by last week's item on ANR's offering of pioneer
gold coin dies, Dave Wnuck writes: "The article in this week's
E-Sylum got me wondering about the legality of owning uncancelled
dies from obsolete U.S. coinage.  I imagine there must be some
still extant outside of museum collections.  Can any of your
readers provide the answer?"

[I know the Mint currently sells obliterated dies, but I don?t
know the status of uncancelled dies.  I believe the ANS has
some U.S. coinage dies, but I don?t recall if they were cancelled
- does anyone know?  I put the question to one of our regular
contributing legal eagles. His response follows -Editor]

David L. Ganz or Ganz & Hollinger P.C. writes: "They sell the
dies obliterated because title 18 of the U.S.. code (criminal
statutes) makes possession difficult if not illegal.

18 USC ? 487. Making or possessing counterfeit dies for coins
Whoever, without lawful authority, makes any die, hub, or mold,
or any part thereof, either of steel or plaster, or any other
substance, in likeness or similitude, as to the design or the
inscription thereon, of any die, hub, or mold designated for
the coining or making of any of the genuine gold, silver, nickel,
bronze, copper, or other coins coined at the mints of the United
States; or

Whoever, without lawful authority, possesses any such die, hub,
or mold, or any part thereof, or permits the same to be used for
or in aid of the counterfeiting of any such coins of the United
States -

Shall be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned not more
than fifteen years, or both.

It goes without saying that if you have a genuine die without
authority the trouble is deeper. This is not a legal opinion
and is furnished informationally as a courtesy. We furnish
written opinions and perform legal research by written retainer


Coincidentally, the Carson City News reported just last week on
a number of tours offered by the the Nevada State Museum, and
one involves coin dies!

"The Archaeology of the Carson City Mint includes a look at old
coin dyes used to stamp the ?heads? and ?tails? of coins when
the museum building was The Carson City Mint between 1870-1893.
The dyes were found buried in the mud in the parking lot between
the two museum buildings and were excavated and restored to their
original condition."
Full Story

It's interesting to see the archaic spelling of "dye" rather
than the modern "die".  Can anyone fill us in on the discovery
of these dies?  Has anyone seen them?  What coins were they for?
A web search discovered these references to their 1999 discovery:

"While excavation was going on, some interesting remnants of the
site's past history appeared. In an area that had once contained
a storage building for the mint, Cassinelli's crew uncovered a
cache of extremely rusted mint dies."
Full Story

"An archaeological deposit containing hundreds of discarded coin
dies was discovered beneath the parking lot of the Nevada State
Museum, the former Carson City Mint. The high carbon steel dies
were annealed and canceled with one or more chisel blows across
the face of the die, and then thrown into a pit.

This buried deposit was seasonally wet and dry, and the majority
of the dies subject to post depositional corrosion that obliterated
traces of the original coins' designs. Some dies that lack details,
however, are attributable to die failure during the coining process.
Surprisingly, a few dies fared much better and the coins' details
were visible upon recovery or after cleaning.

Following some experimentation, methods for initial recovery,
cleaning, and stabilizing the dies were developed. These techniques
are applicable to other iron objects recovered from similar
Full Story


As mentioned last week, the August 11 auction by American Numismatic
Rarities will include a pair of previously unpublished dies for
territorial coins struck in Colorado.  The lot descriptions and die
images are now available online.

"As noted by Kagin, "Conway ceased operations sometimes before the
end of the year [i.e. 1861]." The dies apparently were preserved ?
the obverse and reverse of both the $10 and $2.50 denominations made
it to the Colorado Historical Society about the turn of the 20th
century. The reverse die, with "Pikes Peak Five Dollars" around a
fancy 5, also now resides in the Colorado Historical Society. Those
dies, pictured in the Kagin book on p. 320, have been well known to
the numismatic community for years, and many have asked what ever
became of the other $5 die. As it turns out, the die remained in
private hands and was only sold into the marketplace in 2005. This
is its first ever auction appearance"

Lot 1142: (1861) J.J. Conway & Co. Original obverse die for $5
gold coins.
Full Story

"A completely new discovery, but one that answers a long-standing
question in Colorado territorial gold circles: what die matched
the 1862-dated Liberty Head $5 obverse die now in the collection
of the Colorado Historical Society? That die, depicted in the Kagin
book on p. 320 with several dies for J.J, Conway & Co. coins, is
clearly different from the Conway dies in size and style, not to
mention date, but it had never been satisfactorily attributed.

The present unique artifact from the Colorado Gold Rush, long
held privately in the same hands as the Conway $5 die in this
sale, introduces a brand-new manufacturer of Colorado gold coins
to numismatists: the firm of P. and R.R. Smith & Co. The "Col. Ter."
seen at the base of this die positively identifies it as a product
of Colorado Territory."

Lot 1143: (1862) Reverse die for P. and R.R. Smith & Co. $5 coin.
Full Story


Martin Purdy writes: "There are a number of coin-related
forums on Yahoogroups ( or
I can recommend Coinquestion, since I run it, which is not
limited to any particular type of coin, medal or banknote,
and there are many others that have a more limited scope.
Ancient coins, Islamic, British, etc...."

Paul DiMarzio writes: "The Yahoo group MONETA-L is the absolute
best place for help with anything ancient, including attributions.
I'd also be glad to give it a crack if I had an image, or at
least a description.  If it's Roman imperial I can probably ID it.

Coincidentally, Granvyl Hulse has a question that perhaps one of
these forums can help answer.  He writes: "Is anyone familiar with
the following inscription?  "Impiarsar N Hadrianvsang"?  This is
on some coin, but further information has not been provided me."


Fred Lake writes: "Is someone who cuts pictures from a coin catalog
a "bibliocast" or a "biblioclast?" I have heard both used. I like
biblioclast as in "iconoclast."   I'm looking forward to hearing
from all of your correspondents."


One semi-numismatic sideline that a number of collectors dabble
in is the collecting of antique cast-iron mechanical and still
coin banks.  A recent Bertoia Auctions sale brought record prices,
according to a beautifully illustrated report by Antiques and the
Arts Online:

"It was a pleasure, said Jeanne and Rich Bertoia, not just for the
numerous record prices realized, but for the comments and the all-out
toy spirit felt in the gallery over the weekend. The first hour of
the sale starting with a Carnival Bank selling for $13,750, just
after coming off the heels of a rare Butting Ram example, also
exceeding estimate price and selling for $12,100.

There were plenty of bank offerings. In what one advanced collector
termed a "pleasant barrage" of quality, the sale highlights were
many and included: a pristine coin registering bank, $28,600; a Dog
Tray Bank, $34,100; possibly the only known original patented Ferris
Wheel Bank, $24,200; Paddy and the Pig Bank, $20,350; the very rare
and desirable North Pole Bank, $39,600; an incredible casting, the
US Bank, $67,100; and everyone's favorite, a Girl Skipping Rope in
stunning condition, selling for $72,600."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

For more information on mechanical banks, see the web site of
Mechanical Bank Collectors of America (MBCA).


Steve Pellegrini offers the following observation about the ongoing
Cent Survival debate:  "I agree with the economists mentioned in
E-Sylum v9#28 who observed that the day of the relevant cent is gone
for good. Bye. However, I would like to see the Mint striking a yearly
NCLT large cent in pure copper. Pure copper coins are extraordinarily
beautiful and if handled carefully & intelligently (no, not slabbed)
will either stay pristine or with some luck develop lovely patinas.
These large cents could be included in the Mint's regular annual sets.
My only caveat would be that the coins would have to be contemporary
and original - of obvious artistic merit. And no, no, no rehashed 18th
and 19th c. designs. Certainly no more buffaloes. There are now more
buffaloes looking out from various US coins than there ever were when
they were alive & breathing - even before we set out to kill 'em all."


Frank Cornish writes: "This is a response to Dave Ginsburg's Kerens,
Texas gold hoard enquiry:  How the San Francisco double eagles landed
in Texas prior to 1865, I don't believe is any great mystery. Two
trails went west before the railroad went through:  1.) the midwest
to San Francisco and 2.) along a southern route to San Diego through
Texas. Either of these could be the source of the gold.

Check out the book "That Old Overland Stagecoach" by Eva Jolene Boyd,
1993. She cites a ref on page 5 that one out of every 20 people heading
for the California gold fields went through Texas. The Texas trail was
established with stage coaches and mail service in 1857. The first west
coast mail arrived Sept 9 in San Antonio. Another source I've found says
the cost was $200 from San Antonio to San Diego for a passenger on the
stage coach.  It was a two way route with west coast travelers and their
gold coming to Texas. The route was re-established after the war, but
was treacherous because of Indian attacks.

The northern route is also a possible avenue for San Francisco gold to
reach Texas, but not as probable. In fact, on page 93 she refers to an
1865 trip on the northern route. The Texas cattle trails to Kansas
(where they would be paid in gold from California, brought by the
Overland stage from San Francisco) were well established by 1867
(Chisholm trail) and some drives actually went directly west to
California and Arizona along the southern route.  The problem is that
I don't have any historical references for the cattle trails to Kansas
or California prior to 1866, where I've found that cattle sold for
$15/head in Mason, Texas (south of Kerens). However my research has
primarily been focused upon the 1870s."

Frank adds: "In his book, Chisholm Trail, Wayne Gard reports that cattle
trailing out of Texas had begun before the war, continued during the war
to Mexico and Louisiana and resumed northward immediately afterward. In
1865 at least one herd was driven to New Mexico (p 43). In 1866 somewhere
between 200,000-260,000 cattle were driven out of Texas (receiving
anywhere from $6-$35/head, p47-52). In that year Kansas had banned Texas
cattle because of the fever brought by ticks. So cattlemen drove their
herds to New Mexico and Colorado (Goodnight and Loving in particular set
up their trail).

So here is another avenue for several million dollars (some of it no
doubt San Francisco double Eagles) to make their way to Texas. It might
be interesting to see if the Kerens trove was made by cattle raisers.
It's mentioned that they had a "plantation" which struck me as odd since
it is further north than most plantation country which is generally
along the Gulf Coast."

[For more information on the history of Kerens, Texas, see:

One interesting tidbit is how the town's railroad station got built
where it did: "When the contractor arrived to erect the depot, he
considered placing it on the East side of Sloss Avenue and on the
North of the main line.   T. S. Daniel, having erected his store on
the west side of the street, gave the contractor a Stetson hat to
erect it on the west of the avenue where it has since remained."


Relating to our earlier discussions of the National Numismatic
Collection at the Smithsonian Institution and the recent proposal
to begin charging admission fees, a subscriber writes: "For some
time I've been wondering how the Smithsonian got itself mired in
its current situation.  As I'm sure you know, they've become
involved in controversial deals with private donors and corporations.
For example, the National Museum of American History is now named
the 'Behring Center' to reflect the name of a major donor.
Unfortunately, these gifts usually come with strings attached.
Thus, the Smithsonian has been forced to change to keep itself

This article in the L.A. Times is the first I've seen that deals
with the broader problem faced by the Smithsonian.  I don't know
if the readership of the E-Sylum would find this interesting or
relevant, but it may illuminate the reason for the downsizing
of the numismatic exhibit."

"The Smithsonian Institution, our national museum and also a
scientific research complex, is at a crisis point. Many of its
20 venues, such as the National Museum of Natural History and
the National Air and Space Museum, need tens of millions of dollars
in work. Desperate for funds, the Smithsonian has made arguably
improper arrangements with big business, and it has accepted funding
from corporations with an all-too-obvious interest in what goes on
view in the institution's museums. But the real crisis is this:
Congress seems to have barely noticed.

How bad is the situation? Last year, the Government Accountability
Office, a bureaucracy not given to hyperbole, found "major structural
deterioration" in Smithsonian buildings and "chronic leaks." At
least two historic aircraft at the Air and Space Museum have been
water-damaged. Several buildings are rife with mold. Water has
flowed into at least four museums, well before last month's rains."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


"Jockey Alex Solis, who was instrumental in bringing sports agent
and rare-coin collector Dwight Manley to the attention of the Jockeys'
Guild, said he's committed to turning around the Guild and hopes to
bring it back to prominence in the Thoroughbred industry."

"He's a very successful businessman; he has some very good ideas,"
Solis said of Manley. "We're still working out the details of his
contract but expect it will all be completed sometime (the week of
July 10)."

"The media is going to write what they want to," Solis said in
reference to several "incorrect" reports that Manley and Jackson
would serve as co-managers. "They don't want to know the truth.
Jesse Jackson will only serve as a consultant to Manley and not
make any decisions (for the Guild)."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[I'd like to wish Manley and the jockeys the best of luck in getting
through the difficult times their guild has been facing.  It's a
very tough profession that deserves a top-flight spokesman. Who
knows, perhaps Manley will someday be persuaded to assist the
American Numismatic Association through tough times as well. -Editor]


Nothing numismatic in this one, but it does touch on the concept of
value and trade.  Having once watched a beer-fueled J.S.G. Boggs
buy an architect's pencil sharpener with a $1 "First Female President"
Boggs note from his Women's Series (a limited edition of ten prints),
this story has an interesting echo in it for me:

"Taking a paper clip and turning it into a house sounds like a
cheesy magic trick or a phony instance of resourcefulness on the
1980s TV show "MacGyver."

Kyle MacDonald, however, has pulled it off.

One year ago, the 26-year-old blogger from Montreal set out to
barter one red paper clip for something and that thing for
something else, over and over again until he had a house.

On Wednesday the quest is ending as envisioned: MacDonald is
due to become the proud owner of a three-bedroom, 1,100-square-foot
home provided by the town of Kipling, Saskatchewan."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Tom DeLorey writes: "I am reminded of the old article in the
wittily satirical "Journal of Irreproducible Results" which proved
that the North American continent was sinking under the accumulated
weight of the National Geographic Magazines in the attics of the
grandparents of America. With the current boom in numismatic
auctions, especially Heritage's, the sinkage is no doubt

[Word has it Al Gore is planning to film a documentary on the
subject  -Editor]


This week's featured web site is Timothy Millet's commercial
site offering "Historic Medals and Works of Art".  We only
rarely feature commercial sites, but the images are well worth
viewing - some gorgeous medals are pictured.

  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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