The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

PREV        NEXT        V9 2006 INDEX        E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 9, Number 31, July 30, 2006:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Jeff Karp, Norman Carnovale,
Jeremy Bostwick and Alan Roy.  Welcome aboard!  We now have 951

We've got another whopper issue this week, folks.  No particular
reason, just a lot of things going on.  First, we have information
on the latest Asylum issue and news of events at the upcoming ANA
convention.  Guess what coins are making a trip from Ft. Knox to

Next we have some follow-up information on several earlier topics,
including Schimmel Food Stamp Change Newsletter, Japanese Invasion
Currency references, bookplates, and the use of canaries to detect
cyanide fumes at the Bureau of Engraving and printing.   Die engraver
Ken Douglas joins in on our discussion of engraving techniques. Under
new topics, Dick Johnson reviews a History Channel program on the
symbolism of the U.S. Dollar bill, I contributed a new review of an
old book, David W. Lange's "The Complete Guide to Lincoln Cents",
and David gives us an update on his revised Buffalo Nickel book.

In numismatic literature news, the ANA librarian nabbed a book
desecrator, and the culprit has confessed!  To find out who it was,
read on.  Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


The latest issue of our print journal, The Asylum (Volume XXIV, No. 1),
has been hitting the mailboxes of Numismatic Bibliomania Society members.
Although The E-Sylum is free to all, only members receive the printed

That distinguished-looking gentleman on the cover is not numismatic
literature dealer George Kolbe, but rather Joseph Florimond Loubat,
the subject of NBS President Pete Smith's cover article.  Born in
France in 1831, he authored on of the great works of American numismatic
literature, "Medallic History of the United States of America 1776-1876"
(New York, 1878).

The second feature article by David Gladfelter is "Coinage on Postcards:
The Cambist's Glorious Last Hurrah".  This is the second part of the
well-illustrated article, which began in the previous issue.

Remember, these articles are ONLY available in the printed Asylum.
To join NBS, see the informant at the bottom of every E-Sylum issue,
which I'll repeat here:

There is a membership application available on the web site
at this address: club_nbs_member_app.html

To join, print the application and return it with your check
to the address printed on the application. Membership is only
$15 to addresses in the U.S., $20 elsewhere.


NBS President Pete Smith writes: "The August issue of Numismatist
shows an incorrect time for the Numismatic Bibliomania Society
Symposium. This is still scheduled for 11:30 am on Thursday, August

Our general meeting will be the following day at the same time.
If you will be in Denver for the convention, plan to attend both
NBS events."


The Associated Press reported that the "Ten recently recovered
"double eagle" gold coins from 1933, among the rarest and most
valuable coins in the world, will go on public display next month
for the first time.

The coins will be on view Aug. 16-19 at the American Numismatic
Association's World's Fair of Money convention in Denver."

"The Mint has said that the 10 coins going on display in Denver
had been taken from the Philadelphia Mint "in an unlawful manner"
in the mid-1930s.

Joan Langbord found the coins among the possessions of her deceased
father, longtime Philadelphia jeweler Israel Switt. Her attorney,
Barry H. Berke, has previously said the Mint improperly seized the
coins when his client turned them over to the Mint to have them

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


On Friday Ray Williams posted a write-up to the Colonial Coins
group about the "Numismatic Conversations" event held earlier this
week at the American Numismatic Society in New York.  He writes:

"On Wednesday I spent many enjoyable hours at ANS in NYC. The first
of many Numismatic Conversations was held, this one concentrating
on Connecticut Coppers. This is how it functioned:

An invitation was sent out to the numismatic community to attend
this event in person. There were about 30 or 40 present. Robert Hoge
(ANS Curator of North American Coins and Currency) had about 30
representative CT Coppers from the ANS collection for display and
discussion. These coins were projected on a screen using a camera
and a LCD projector. It was an enjoyable evening of sharing information
and seeing many friends. One attendee brought a unique variety of CT
Copper to share with us.

What was occurring behind the scene is a landmark event. The video
projection of the coins, and a second video of the attendees were
fed to a web site. In real-time, the observers online could see what
was happening at the event. There was a teleconference also in use,
where through the use of a speaker phone system, several CT Copper
specialists from around the country participated in the discussion.
This evening was a technological experiment which worked quite well.

I applaud the ANS in this effort to bring numismatics to the
numismatist! With just a little fine tuning, I feel this type of
forum can be implemented online for the general public in the near
future. It was fun being present for the initial trial and
experimenting... sort of like being an observer of the first flight
at Kitty Hawk, or being present at the First NJ Copper Symposium."


Last week Rod Charleton II asked "how many issues of the Food Stamp
Change Newsletter were published by Jerry F. Schimmel during the

Duane H. Feisel was able to put Rod directly in touch with Jerry
Schimmel.  Duane collaborated with Jerry on "California Food Stamp
Credit Tokens 1939 - 1979 Including Nevada Food Stamp Tokens", a
wire bound, 8½ x 11 card covered publication.

David Gladfelter adds: "Jerry Schimmel laid this periodical down
in 1984 after publishing 17 issues and 3 supplements (Iowa, New
Jersey and New York). He may be able to supply copies. Write to
him at P. O. Box 40888, San Francisco, CA. 94140."

Bob Lyall writes: "I just checked on the one copy of Food Stamp
Change that I have, it is the one on the Virgin Islands tokens which
I co-authored and find it is #13, so I emailed Jerry Schimmel to ask
him and he tells me he published 17 issues.  He thinks he has some
spare copies but isn't too sure just where they are.  But he could
be reached at"

Ron Benice writes: "Rod may be interested in an article I wrote,
Alaska Food Stamp Tokens, which appeared in the April 1988 issue of
the TAMS Journal.  Besides listing 313 items, it has a summary of
early researchers and manufacturers, including the information on
Schimmel's publication."

Rod writes: "Outstanding!!  I couldn't be happier.  I received three
replies and one was from Jerry Schimmel himself.  I look forward to
The E-Sylum every week and all the interesting articles and questions.
More people should be using this valuable tool in my opinion.  Thanks
for including my question."


Web site visitor Marcelo Pitta of Brazil asked about books on Japanese
Invasion Money.  Ken Berger writes: "Another book on Japanese Invasion
Money is:

Banyai, R.A.1974. Money and Banking in China and Southeast Asia During
the Japanese Military Occupation, 1937 - 1945. Taipei, R.O.C.: Tai Wan
Enterprises Co., Ltd. 150p.

It is divided into three parts:

1) Money and Banking in China During the Japanese Military
  Occupation, 1937 to 1945
2) Money and Banking in Southeast Asia During the Japanese
  Military Occupation, 1941 to 1945
3) A Legal Analysis of Military Occupation and the Issue
  of Military Currency, with Relevant Cases

The book also lists ten pages of references."

Steve Huber writes: "Mr. Pitta may also be interested in "An
Illustrated Catalogue of the Finance and Currencies of the Puppet
Regimes in China under the Japanese -- Manchukuo Volume" by Wong Hon
Sum.  In the back, it indicates there is a volume on Malaya and
Singapore as well.

The book is bilingual -- Chinese and English -- with great photography
and interesting side items (like matchbook covers covering the Japanese
relationship with Manchuria)."


Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing writes: "On the subject of books
with numismatic inserts, Whitman has published two versions of Arthur
Friedberg's Coins of the Bible. One features three replica coins
inserted in the hard cover (a Tribute Penny, a gold daric of Persia,
and a Widow's Mite). The other version has those three, plus replicas
of the shekel and half shekel of Tyre, and a lepton.

Later this year we'll publish Money of the American Civil War, which
includes three replica coins inserted in the cover."

Dave Lange writes: "When the first edition of my Buffalo Nickel book
was published in 1992, I had prepared six copies in leather with two
nickels each mounted in the front cover to display obverse and reverse.
These were then covered with one half of a Kointain to protect them. I
still have one copy, and I know of only one that has been offered for
sale since being purchased by the original owner. This was Armand
Champa's copy, which was sold with the rest of his library by Bowers &


Mark Tomasko writes: "On the subject of bookplates, I may have
suggestions as to where someone seriously interested can get a
bookplate engraved and printed - contact me at
I personally have never been interested in having my own bookplate
despite my interest in engraving and acquaintance with bank note
engravers because too many bookplates end up defacing the book. A
small, well-done bookplate could be a nice item, however. Related
to my interest in documenting bank note engraving, I have quite a
few bookplates done by American Bank Note. Some are clearly "favor"
items done for ABN executives or executives of clients, and in one
case, for the child of an ABN officer."

Allan Davisson writes: "I was set to respond to the query about
bookplates and pulled down my copy of Keenan's work (ART OF THE
BOOKPLATE, a great little book!) Then I went to the web sites you
listed and found that you and George Kolbe had already covered all
the other points I had intended to raise.  (By the way, I agree
absolutely with George about embossers and books. To me, it is akin
to etching your name on the surface of your coins.)

My own problem with a personal bookplate is sorting out the difference
between pride and vanity. Some of my books have unappealing bookplates
from people I do not recognize. Others once belonged to famous collectors.
I have carefully removed some of the bookplates that lack both aesthetic
appeal and important provenance, but not everyone is careful to use
nonpermanent glue.  Despite having developed some designs, I still have
not decided whether to do a bookplate myself.

As long as we are talking about personal marks on libraries, I am
more interested in binding styles. I follow a few special design
characteristics with the books I have bound for my own library. I
have one leather bound book I treasure highly that was bound for me
by Basil Demetriadi's binder in the style of Basil's books. Back when
books were issued in publisher's boards buyers had them bound after
purchase and distinctive styles were the norm.

There is the specialized artistic field of book arts that could well
be more evident in numismatic publication. I have a few publications
on my shelves that display a style and beauty in binding that provides
the double satisfaction of having a well produced reference in a
particularly pleasing format. The Gulbenkian Greek volumes and the
Bird and Bull Press work on booksellers' tokens are good examples. It
seems to me generally that the current focus is on dust jackets rather
than high quality bindings, particularly in the general book press.
Dust jackets are relatively inexpensive to produce and can be attractive
on their own, particularly when printed on heavy paper with folded edges
at the top and bottom. But a dust jacket is not a substitute for a well
bound book with sewn binding and high quality cloth.

Looking through my shelves I spotted two of George Kolbe's publications,
His 1999 publication of John Adams' work on Indian Peace Medals and his
2001 publication ILLUSTRIUM IMAGINES, A Leaf Book are outstanding examples
of books published with fine attention to books as art as well as

[QUICK QUIZ:  Just who is Basil Demetriadi?  Longtime E-Sylum readers
might know - his name has popped up before.  It's OK to consult the
E-Sylum archive, as long as you 'fess up. -Editor]


This week I've been taking a look at David W. Lange's "The Complete
Guide to Lincoln Cents", specifically the softcovered 2005 third printing
from Zyrus Press.  Note that this is a third PRINTING, not a third
EDITION - the latest cent covered is 1995.

I checked with Dave and he writes: "Although this is the third printing
for Zyrus Press, it is actually the fifth printing altogether, Bowers &
Merena having done two distinctive printings. The first had a pink
cover, the second a scarlet one, and the cover designs were quite
different. The Zyrus printings have black covers, either matte (first)
or glossy (later ones), and these have a single cover design that is
radically different (and much better, in my opinion) than either of
the B&M printings. There have been a few minor improvements in some
of the illustrations since the first printing, but the changes do not
warrant describing the later books as new editions."

The publisher's summary describes the book as

"... the most comprehensive book on Lincoln Cents, and the only book
to cover all aspects of the Lincoln cent series with thorough listings
from the first Lincoln cent of 1909 through the famous 1995 doubled-die.

The book features a complete history of the Lincoln cent with research
of events leading up to the production of the Lincoln cent, the engraver
and mint officials who designed it, as well as a biography of Abraham

Every date and mint is illustrated and analyzed. An individual chapter
is dedicated to proof and mint issues, rare Lincoln cent errors and
patterns.  A chapter on counterfeit and altered coins helps collectors
spot forgeries, and provides guidance on how to detect them. The text
also includes chapters on how to grade and the best strategies for how
to collect Lincoln cents."

As a bibliophile, I have a hard time simply reading any book like a
normal person.  Abnormal freak that I am, I gravitate toward the notes
and bibliography very quickly.  Where did the author GET all this stuff
from?  Is he making it all up?

Well, if Dave's making it all up he's done a convincing job.  Every
chapter has a detailed set of notes documenting his sources.  For
example, chapter eight has 52 notes and chapter seven alone has 243!
I like it already - this is my kind of book.  If I want to retrace
Dave's steps and review the source material, it's a snap.  1928 Mint
Report? Grab it off the shelf.  March 1957 Numismatist?  Stand on
A chair and pull down that volume.  What fun!

The book rewards the careful reader with a trove of important and
interesting information about the series.  Here's a sampling:

In 1974 Mint Director Mary Brooks issued a statement regarding the
cent shortage, reporting that "For every $25 worth of pennies cashed
in at a bank, the Treasury and Mint are prepared to issue a Treasury
Department Certificate to the individual or group responsible."
[Does anyone have one of these?  One is pictured on p25, courtesy of
Numismatic News.]

With today's highfaluting precision computer and manufacturing
technology, the Mint's reported production figures are 100% accurate,
right?  Forget it! (this is the government, remember?) "... as a
consequence of the many packaging options and an ordering period
which typically extends into the early months of the following calendar
year ... the published figures since the mid 1980s must not be taken
too literally." (p295)

The Matte Proofs of 1909-1916 - how were they made?  Well, we don’t
exactly know, but the available facts are neatly summarized (p295-296)

The 1955 proof set packaging changeover in April or May of that year.
Did you know that these sets were issued in BOTH the boxed format of
1950-1954 AND the flat-pack format? (p325)

The 1964 Experimental cent, a possible prototype for the 1965 Special
Mint Set. (p334)

1972 cents are a favorite of the crew of the aircraft carrier U.S.S.
Abraham Lincoln, because its hull number is CVA-72. A bit far afield
from numismatics, but a fun fact regardless (p250).

As a nitpicky editor I have a pleasure/pain relationship with typos -
I hate to see them in print, but love to pat myself on the back for
finding them.  I found only a very few in my reading of Dave's book.
He even got things like Harry X Boosel's name right (p291).  [QUIZ
QUESTION:  What was Harry famous for collecting, and what does the
X stand for?]

The early chapters of the book are just as filled with interesting
facts and photos on topics such as "the Infamous General Motors Roller
Press (p49-50) and pattern and experimental coins (or the lack thereof,
actually): The Lincoln cent is one of a very few coin types from
1850-1916 which are not known in pattern form (p44).  [Why not?
Read the book to find out, silly!]

The page of major hub type photos is a great reference (p53),
reminding me of the day I took my first real look at a Washington
Quarter in years and thought - what the HECK did they DO to his HAIR???
Old George had developed spaghetti head. The hub changes on the Lincoln
Cent were much more subtle, thankfully.

In summary, this is absolutely one book that ought to be on the shelf
of every U.S. numismatist, and one that deserves a careful read.  That
goes double for those of you (ok, those of US) who thought they already
knew most of this stuff.


Speaking of Dave Lange, a regular E-Sylum contributor, I checked with
him on his latest book, and he writes: "I'm told that the new edition
of The Complete Guide to Buffalo Nickels is supposed to arrive from the
printer July 31, so I hope to have at least one copy at the ANA

The new edition features more variety listings and illustrations, as
well as updated certified population data and values. The history
chapter has been enhanced with information and documents generously
shared by Roger Burdette from the upcoming third volume of his
landmark trilogy, Renaissance of American Coinage."


The History Channel broadcast an hour show "Secrets of the Dollar
Bill" in its Decoding the Past Series this week. I viewed this Thursday
night (it was also rebroadcast Saturday July 29th as well). The
current dollar bill is loaded with images. Do some of these symbols
reveal secret messages?

The secrets revolve around Masonic symbols. Conspiracy theorists claim
this is the work of an underground secret organization of elite men
that are seeking world domination at some time in the future. Masonic
officials deny this, of course, but a lot of the evidence -- on the
dollar bill itself -- tend to support this. The Great Seal of the
United States, shown on the reverse of the dollar bill, is the source
of much of this symbolism.

On the obverse of the Great Seal is the eagle, our national symbol.
This is shown on the right of the $1 bill. The eagle is holding 13
arrows in his talon, there are other objects 13 in number: leaves on
the branch in the eagle’s other talon, bars & stripes on the shield,
and stars above within the wreath. They claim 13 is a mystical number
of the Masons. The number of feathers is also significant, 32 on the
left, 33 on the right. Masons have 32nd degree and 33rd degree levels
of study.

The reverse of the Great Seal, shown on the left of the bill, has
the unfinished pyramid with the all-seeing eye above and the 1776
founding date in Roman numerals below, all Masonic symbols.

The film traces the origin of the Great Seal, it required three
committees of our founding fathers to designed the Great Seal,
each had their own artist. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin,
and Paul Revere – Masons all – were on the first committee.

Of course they had to mention that Franklin wanted the turkey to
be the national bird, not the eagle. Francis Hopkinson, of the
third committee accomplished the final task. He incorporated the
pyramid (since he had previously employed it with success on a
$50 Connecticut colonial note!).

In 1935 the design of our current dollar bill was chosen by
Franklin D. Roosevelt, his VP Henry Wallace insisted the Great Seal
appear on the reverse. The conspiracy theorists note both of these
men were Masons as the mystery still continues.

Authorities on both sides of the debate were quoted on the program:
Robert Hergnimus, Paul Claussen, Ralph Epperson, Robert Mastelson,
Simon Cox, Andy Burr.  Brent Morris was the leading spokesman for
the Masons.

Most significant was the shape of the stars above the eagle in the
seal. If a line is drawn through all it forms a six sided star. If
this is superimposed over the reverse design five of the six points
indicate a letter in the legend above and below. The letters form
an anagram for the word MASON. That’s more than coincidence, it seems.

Numismatic book collectors must recognize that videos and DVDs are
modern versions of the printed book and should be included in their
libraries. (Granted, I am prejudiced, having written a video on
making medals!)  The History Channel is offering this hour-long
program as a DVD for $24.95. Go to their website and click on
"Store." Delivery is scheduled for September first."


W. David Perkins writes: "Does anyone have a copy of the April 1-3,
1937 Thomas Elder Sale #280 catalog?  The ANA Library does not have
a copy of this sale.

I am looking for information on a few lots that I acquired: for
example Lots 2042 & 2052.  The lots that I am interested in are
medals and / or So-Called Dollars.  These may have been group lots.
I'm also interested to learn if there was any "descriptive"
introduction to this sale or these items.  I can be reached via
e-mail at

For those who are interested, one of these items is the rare H&K
125 "Battle of Groton Heights Centennial – 1881" Medal, but stuck
in copper (or bronze) and on a thick planchet, not in White Metal
as listed in the Hibler & Kappen book.

Another item is H&K 153, the rare "General Stark-Colonel Warner
Dollar" in White Metal.  Two items "not in H&K" are a Yorktown,
VA Centennial Medal of October 19, 1881 struck in white metal and
a neat looking 1903 City of Bridgeport "Old Home Week" medal.  I
have a few other items (somewhere) from this sale. Thanks."


[For those who aren't familiar with the term, a Wiki is a web
site that enables a community of users to both view and update
information very easily.  The most prominent example is the
Wikipedia, a free online community-created encyclopedia.  Work
teams at my company use Wikis to create and share project information
among many users.  -Editor]

Any Lustig writes: "Are you aware of any Wikis for numismatic
auction catalogs and their contents? If not, it seems like it's
an idea whose time has come. There are many auction catalogs that
I have not purchased because I didn't know enough about the contents,
and many others I have regretted buying for the same reason. A Wiki
listing all catalogs and a summary of their contents would be
incredibly useful. And not to be a pig about it, but if the Wiki
could be used as a checklist, it would save many of us that maintain
our own catalog databases thousands of hours of redundant data-entry

[Who knows, perhaps we could get a project like this off the ground,
but it would take a dedicated group of volunteers to create the initial
Wiki and seed the site with catalog information.  Anyone game to give
it a try?  -Editor]


Martin Purdy writes: "As we have discussed previously, New Zealand
changes over to its "smaller silver" coins tomorrow, 31 July.  It
will be interesting to watch how both the public and the shopkeepers
react to the reality.  One retailer insisted on charging my wife $2.00
for a $1.95 item last week "because they didn't want to get stuck with
5c pieces at the last minute"!  They clearly have missed the fact that
the "old" coins remain legal tender until 31 October.  We are both
carrying printouts from the Reserve Bank website
( as evidence in case of any arguments now.

An item in the local "Dominion Post" yesterday mentioned that
Wellington parking meters will not be up to the task of coping with
two different sets of coins in circulation at the same time during
the transitional period.  Any "small" coins that are fed into meters
until they are converted will simply be lost to the user, while any
"large" coins that are fed into them after they are converted (i.e.
still during the three-month transitional period) will likewise be
wasted.  Parking meters clearly did not count as "vending machines",
the manufacturers and operators of which have had the past six months
to get their equipment adjusted.

One result of having the 10c as our smallest denomination is that our
coins will henceforth be truly "decimal", as opposed to "centesimal"."


Mark Tomasko writes: "Thanks for the great work you do on The E-Sylum.
I enjoyed the piece about Chris Madden. He was also profiled in the Ohio
State University Alumni Magazine, May-June 2006 issue. Chris is an
excellent engraver, and while the article does not mention it, he did
the Treasury building on the back of the $10 bill. He, Will Fleishell
and Ken Kipperman are the last people employed as bank note picture
engravers in the United States (all at the BEP in DC), to my knowledge.
Another talented engraver who did picture work, Richard Baratz, is now
at the BEP in Texas, though not doing picture work.

As to the cyanide question, potassium cyanide was used to harden steel
once it had been engraved, so that it could be transferred (i.e., die to
transfer roll and transfer roll to document plate). I strongly suspect
that is the use of cyanide referred to. While I have not heard the
canary story, it probably makes sense that there was some crude
mechanism for determining if the fumes got to dangerous levels."

A knowledgeable E-Sylum reader writes: "One of the problems faced by
people who work with engraved steel plates is oxidation, and ultimately
rust.  This was particularly true during humid summers before the advent
of modern HVAC equipment.  Washington, DC occasionally boasts humidity
levels of the sort experienced in equatorial latitudes.  I suspect
that engravers had to protect their work with light oil, cosmoline,
or wax to prevent oxidation.

After an engraving is approved for use on currency, it is transferred
to a working plate.  This occurs in several steps.  The engraving is
transferred to a 'roll', then the 'roll' is transferred to the
working plate.  The working plate also receives impressions from
other rolls that transfer other currency elements such as counters,
lettering, etc.  Additional transfer processes occur when a finished
currency die must be replicated in order to print multiple pieces of
currency in one operation.  US Currency has been printed with plates
containing as few as 1 or 2 subjects, and as many as 32 subjects.

I believe the procedure of transferring engravings to create working
currency plates is known as 'siderography'.  This process is similar
to coin die production from master dies and hubs.  The main difference
between currency plates and coin dies is that coin dies only contain
one coin obverse or reverse whereas currency plates have as many as 32
faces or backs on each plate.

So where does cyanide enter the picture?  Whenever a steel engraving
is transferred, the receiving steel must be heated first.  After the
design is transferred, the receiving roll or plate must be hardened
by being rapidly cooled.  Hot steel is particularly vulnerable to
oxidation.  The chemical bath used to harden the steel must not allow
oxidation to occur.  In the past, the only liquid deemed appropriate
for this process was potassium cyanide.  This procedure was usually
performed in a well ventilated area.  Even in pre-OSHA days, the
deleterious effects of potassium cyanide fumes were well known.

As you may know, American Numismatic Rarities is having a sale in
Denver next month that contains some currency production materials
from the American Bank Note Company.

Example of what I referred to as a 'roll', ANR calls a 'cylinder die':
cylinder die

Example of a finished 3 subject currency plate:
3 subject currency plate

[QUICK QUIZ: Who can name another numismatically-related
use of cyanide? -Editor]

Bob Leuver, former head of the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and
Printing and Executive Director of the American Numismatic
Association writes:

"The canaries were "employed" by the BEP in 1979, the year--and
just before--I arrived at the Bureau.  There were some interesting
and humorous aspects to the fire department's response and the death
of a canary while in Federal service."

[Bob hopes to write a more detailed article on the topic for the
Numismatist magazine, but sent us the following digest in the
meantime. -Editor]


Bob Leuver writes: "I reported for duty on April 22, 1979, as BEP
Assistant Director for Finance and Administration.  In the early
months of that year, the plate curing room on the fifth floor of
the BEP Annex suffered a cyanide leak either in the valves or piping
from the cyanide cylinders.  Cyanide was used in a bath to cure or
clean some of the plates from the Engraving Department and other
allied departments, such as Siderography.

The unit responsible for curing/cleaning plates was on an eight-hour
day shift, five days a week.  One employee of the three-man crew,
opened the door to the division at about 8 AM and immediately
identified the odor emanating from the room as cyanide.  The
Washington, D.C., fire department and its Haz-mat unit were called.
The fire-department expeditiously vented the room and stopped the

The Research and Engineering Division determined that an automated
system to identify cyanide and other chemicals was required.  The R&E
Division drew up plans and submitted them to the Procurement
Department for bidding.

Nothing in the Federal government is simple.  A Federal agency cannot
purchase a system off-the-shelf.  The new system had to be procured
under exacting procurement regulations. I was responsible for expediting
the acquisition.  The automated system was installed finally in 1980.
In the meantime, canaries were used to detect any occurrence of a
cyanide leak as an R&E Division solution to the interim problem.


A government publication published a lengthy article on the
pending legislation on legalizing a number of questionable pre-1933
U.S. Mint issues:

"Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., has launched a crusade to free some
the world's most valuable coins.

Lucas has sponsored legislation that would mandate that any coin
manufactured by the U.S. Mint before 1933 -- but not properly
issued -- will no longer be declared the property of the federal
government. The cutoff date in the Lucas bill has real-world
implications, gaining tremendous support among numismatics."

"In 2002, a 1933 Double Eagle gold coin was auctioned off for
$7.6 million, ending a protracted legal battle between the Mint
and a coin dealer over ownership of the coin. Both parties split
the proceeds of that sale. In 2005, the Mint seized 10 Double
Eagle coins from the family of a Philadelphia jeweler.

Lucas argues that other coin collectors could be put in legal
jeopardy, especially over rare coins such as the 1804 silver
dollar and the 1913 Liberty head nickel, both of which have been
bought and sold dozens of times. Lucas, who started his coin
collection as a child, said the Mint has selectively targeted
owners of rare U.S. coins and its efforts have clouded the rare
coin market."

"But the Mint opposes Lucas' efforts. During a House Financial
Services Monetary Policy Subcommittee hearing last Wednesday,
acting Mint Director David Lebryk testified that while he recognizes
the desire of collectors for a clear title for coins and medals
sold in the secondary market, courts have repeatedly held that the
title of U.S. public property belongs to the federal government."

"I see no reason to reward collectors who happened to have acquired
coins illegally taken from the Mint," said House Financial Services
Monetary Policy Subcommittee ranking member Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y.
"Courts are perfectly well-suited for this task."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[The legislation is well-meaning, but is it poking a stick into a
beehive?  Bringing the situation to the attention of other lawmakers
could have unintended consequences.   Could others introduce
legislation to bring equity by explicitly banning and calling for
the confiscation of other questionable coins?  -Editor]


Directly related to both the above legislation and our recent
discussions on the National Numismatic Collection is the following
link (forwarded by Roger Burdette) to a page of testimony on July
19th before the Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary
Policy, Trade and Technology.  The hearing was entitled "Coin and
Currency Issues Facing Congress: Can We Still Afford Money?"  The
presenters were:

 Mr. Larry Felix, Director, Bureau of Engraving and Printing,
    U.S. Department of the Treasury
 Ms. Louise Roseman, Director, Division of Reserve Bank
    Operations and Payment Systems, Board of Governors of
    the Federal Reserve System
 Mr. David A. Lebryk, Acting Director, U.S. Mint
 Mr. Scott Johnson, Deputy Special Agent in Charge,
     Criminal Investigative Division, U.S. Secret Service
 Mr. Brent D. Glass, Director, National Museum of American
     History, Smithsonian Institution
 Mr. Q. David Bowers, Numismatic Director, American
     Numismatic Rarities, LLC
 Mr. Christopher Cipoletti, Executive Director,
     American Numismatic Association
 Mr. Fred Weinberg, Vice Chairman, Industry Council
     for Tangible Assets
 Ms. Beth Deisher, Editor, Coin World Magazine

To read the full prepared statements, see: Full Story

Here's one excerpt, from Dave Bowers' testimony:

"Among the focal points the National Coin Collection at the
Smithsonian Institution is a unique treasure, containing specimens
that in many instances are rare and in some instances one of a kind.
The curatorial staff comprises some of the most talented individuals
in numismatics.

The Smithsonian has what it needs—coins, tokens, medals, and paper
money that are incomparable, plus appropriate staff, as noted. What
it does not have is appropriate funding. Because of this the nation
is faced with having these treasures hidden from public appreciation,
which the community of over one hundred million coin collectors
could rightly view as being the numismatic equivalent of not being
allowed to examine the Declaration of Independence or the Star
Spangled Banner.

I suggest that provision be made for part of the profits of the
United States Mint to be given to the National Numismatic Collection
in the Smithsonian, cast not as a charity or a donation, but as an
intelligent business concept reinforcing the programs already in
place at the Mint.

The more people that are aware of the National Numismatic Collection,
the more that enjoy its displays, the more that are subject to
various outreaches given by it, the greater the interest will be in
current Mint products. In view of the relatively small amount of
money involved annually to maintain the National Numismatic Collection
exhibition in a first class manner, this would seem to be one of the
wisest investments that the Treasury Department and the Mint could
possibly make."


In response to Howard Daniel's call for a National Numismatic Museum
last week, I noted that the "U.S. Mint HQ in D.C. was built with the
first floor as a planned museum space, but that didn't happen."

David Ganz writes: "There was lot of congressional opposition to
the museum concept and there was some tough language in appropriation
bills that expressly prohibit it."

[The concept of a freestanding National Numismatic Museum has been
around in various forms for several decades. I should note that my
mention of the U.S. Mint HQ space is not an endorsement of a NNM
under the auspices of the Mint.  The Mint is after all, a manufacturing
operation, and as such its management has only limited interest in its
old products - their mandate is to produce the coinage needed TODAY,
and a museum doesn't fit into that mission.

On the other hand, it is the mandate of the Smithsonian Institution
to preserve and study the artifacts of our nation's (and the world's)
history, and current priorities and funding issues aside, the SI is
by far a better steward of such collections.

When the 1933 double eagle witch hunt began, it was only because
the Smithsonian had two examples and refused to give up custody that
they were not melted by the Treasury folks. The 1974 aluminum cent
might not exist except for the Smithsonian's protection.

Let's face it - the U.S. Mint doesn't have a stellar track record
when it comes to preserving numismatic artifacts and information.
Various prior administrations have overseen the destruction of
coinage designs and records, the destruction of pattern coin hubs
and dies, the destruction of experimental pieces with no attempt to
assess their future historical value, the destruction of large numbers
of operating records, refused research access to remaining documents,
design models and related historical materials, and (of particular
interest to bibliophiles), refused to comply with the National Records
Act and transfer records with National Archives.

The Mint should be allowed to have a nice little museum and gift
shop in their building on 9th street. But they should never be given
access to or responsibility for the NNC.

In practical terms, while it would be nice to emulate the Postal Museum
in Washington, DC, it would be difficult to match the financial base of
the postal facility, which I understand has a stream of dedicated funding
from the US Postal Service.  I commend Dave Bowers' attempt to educate
Congress and call for a similar stream of funding from the Mint for the
NNC.  -Editor]


Denis Loring writes: "Thanks to Bob Leonard for setting the record
straight on the "Gold Dust Currency" Chicago Coin Club publication.
This item was given to me when I was collecting California gold and
its literature.  I had no idea as to its true story."

Denis also made the E-Sylum last week because of the article on the
1792 copper cent he and his wife recently sold through Goldberg Coins
& Collectibles Auctions.  The coin was one that "walked in off the
street" at the 2004 Pittsburgh ANA convention, where I was General
Chairman.  I never got to see coin, unfortunately.  Here is a link
to the catalog entry on the Goldbergs' web site:
Full Story

Denis adds: "The coin listed as #7 in their census, ex Stack's
1/78:476, is counterfeit, and was returned to Stack's by the buyer.
#4 is appearing in the upcoming ANR sale."

Here's an except from the American Numismatic Rarities catalog entry:
"A rarity in all grades, the grade-population curve of Judd-2 would
look like the inverse of that of Judd-1. Unlike the Silver Center
cents, the bulk of which are EF with a few finer, the 1792 copper cents
are nearly all in wretched condition — this one is certainly above
average. The Smithsonian piece is the only one whose grade is excellent
and whose surfaces are smooth. The Norweb piece was rough but sharp,
while the Garrett coin was rough, showed little detail at central
reverse, and exhibited a mint-made planchet cutter mark. And those
are the better ones!"
Full Story


Ken Douglas writes: "If you will permit a comment from a new
subscriber, I was the engraver for those token dies for booksellers
mentioned in last week's E-Sylum.  I have been cutting dies for a
arge number of private mints over the last 32 years. I cut those dies
for Henry Morris to use for various booksellers.  I don't remember
the exact price I charged for those dies, but it was probably $200
each. It is interesting to learn that they are now offered for $9,800.
I have always considered my dies the real works of art since I model
the designs by hand, and if it is necessary to recut one of them,
cannot be perfectly duplicated.

For booklovers, Henry Morris of Bird and Bull Press published a
book "Republic of San Sheriffe -- 100 Coronas."  In it he mentioned
my name and named me the Chief Engraver for the fictional country.
The bookseller tokens were also mentioned in an article in The
Numismatist (vol 101, no 3). It tells why and how these tokens
were issued.

Also Mashiko of Medialia at the Rack and Hamper Gallery, 335 West
38th Street, New York, N.Y. 10018 asked me for a simple method that
she could teach her students to cut dies for their medallions. It
is not complete but I am enclosing what I have already written in
the hope that it will help Dick Hanscom and others."

[Subscribers new and old are always welcome to chime in on our
discussions.  It continues to amaze me what a simple E-Sylum item
can lead to, in this case a note directly from the artist who made
the dies we discussed.  I've forwarded his full drafts to Dick Hansom
and (with Kenneth's permission) to our resident minting technology
expert Dick Johnson.  "The Hand-Made Struck Medal" is illustrated with
some photos of the artist at work on a die in progress.  See the next
item for a couple excerpts. -Editor]


The following are two short excerpts from Ken Douglas' paper, "The
Hand-Made Struck Medal".  The first portion is about transferring
the design to the die, and the second is about starting to engrave
the design into the die.

"When I transfer the design to the die-block I first make a pattern
in clear plastic in 2D by engraving in all lettering and the design
which have all been reduced to outline form and reversed.  The die
must be in reverse for the medal to read normally. I use a 2D
pantograph to cut the design on the block.  I can set the machine
to the ratio I need to fit the working surface of the block.  The
lettering is finished this way but the 3D part of the die is modeled
by hand.

The method I would suggest is something I picked up years ago when
I visited H. Alvin Sharp.  He was a self- taught engraver in New
Orleans back in the 60's and early 70's.  What he did was sensitize
his block with photographic emulsion, make a contact print from his
drawing to fit the block, and burn it in.  This could also be done
by applying machinist’s layout dye to the block and just tracing or
drawing the design on the block with a scribe (sharp point)."

"Once the outline is established, I start with the largest burr to
rough out and proceed to the smaller burrs for the detail. Being
right-handed I hold the chuck in my right hand but I hold the die
in my left on a flat surface.  I use my left thumb-nail as a block
to keep the burr from skating and as a control.  Keep the burrs
moving so that they will not dig a hole and use it to “scrape” the
metal off the surface.  A 8/0 is good for lines and making the work
sharp by drawing it toward you.  After this burr wears out I make a
three cornered cutting tool out of it with a cut off wheel.  I can
use this for very fine lines such as hair or use the side to flatten
an area.  I use red-mounted stones for making sure smooth areas are
as smooth as they should  be.

A little modeling clay is good for checking your work after the
die is dusted with talc."


Regarding our recent discussions of the recovered Carson City Mint
coin dies, Fred Holabird writes: "Museum curator Bob Nylen reports
that anything that could be professionally restored has pretty much
been restored. Most of the dies are severely degraded, long past

The Carson City dies that are cancelled and in private collections
generally were dug up in the old Carson City municipal dump by bottle
and token diggers, now gone. Nearly all of these were sold into the
marketplace in the 1970's.

Another die came from the family of one of the Mint's assayers. We
were unable to ascertain just how many good, cancelled dies still
exist, but I'd guess about five. There is no comparison between these
dies and those dug under the old parking lot, which as Hal Dunn noted, are
mostly junk."


"Melbourne-based Coinworks beat off stiff competition to claim a
1920 Pattern Star shilling at a London auction, setting a new price

The coin - one of only seven in existence - sold for £48,300 (about
$150,000, with taxes) the highest price for a coin of its make.

It is one of Australia's rarest coins and considered the best of
three of its kind held outside museum collections."

"The shilling has been paired with its natural 'partner', a 1920
Pattern Star Florin. The Florin is Australia's most valuable silver
coin and was acquired by Coinworks at auction last year for more
than $200,000.

The coins are now the centrepiece of a private collection in Sydney."

"In London, Morton and Eden London auction house director James
Morton said the sale price exceeded expectation, despite the coin's
"astonishing condition."

"A couple of English buyers were vying for the rare, together with
a "very strong American bidder," he said."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


On July 25, the winning bidder of the recently-sold Victoria Cross
medal discussed in the last E-Sylum was trying to stay anonymous.
"Last night’s successful Australian bidder wishes to remain anonymous.
But Bonhams said he intended to have the medals shown in the Australian
War Memorial."

To read the complete press release, see: Full Story

But by the next day the word was out:  "Media moguls are not
generally bashful but Seven Network boss Kerry Stokes attempted to
become the invisible man yesterday after he was confirmed as the
benefactor who paid $1 million for a Gallipoli Victoria Cross.

Acting in conjunction with the RSL, and as revealed in The Australian
yesterday, Mr Stokes paid $1,214,500, including auctioneer's commission,
to secure all the medals of World War I hero Alfred Shout at auction
in Sydney on Monday night."

"I've never believed that anybody should collect or have proprietary
interest over somebody else's valour," Mr Stokes said. "These
particular awards are part of our history, they're part of who we
are, and the only appropriate place they belong is in a national

Major General Crews said Mr Stokes's donation to the Australian War
Memorial would complete the display of all nine VCs won by Australians
at Gallipoli."

A majority of the 97 Victoria Crosses won by Australians since the
Boer War are held by the war memorial or military museums."

[The article notes that two Australian VC awardees are still alive,
and that both still have their medals. -Editor]

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


The new polymer notes appearing around the world may be more difficult
to counterfeit, but that doesn't deter counterfeiters for long: "An
officer at the Hanoi Branch of the Saigon Industrial and Commercial

Bank on July 26 discovered a counterfeit VND100,000 polymer bank note."
Nguyen Van Toan, Deputy Head of the Vault and Issuance Department under
the SBV said that counterfeit VND100,000 bank notes had been found
before, in March 2006. The SBV later warned the public against the
circulation of counterfeit money and posted instructions to the ways
to differentiate real and counterfeit money on their website

The newly discovered counterfeit VND100,000 bank note was almost
an exact copy of the real note. In the past, counterfeit notes were
easily produced on the old style cotton paper, while the new polymer
material has proven harder to emulate."

"Mr Toan from SBV said that although the counterfeit notes were made
with very sophisticated equipment, they can still be easily recognised.
Mr Hanh from SBV’s HCM City Branch said that the counterfeit bank notes
are identified by the late generation counting machines."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Bill Murray snail-mailed me a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary
entry for Numismatic - "of, pertaining or relating to, coins or coinage."
The entry lists a number of variants of the word, some of which we've
discussed earlier in The E-Sylum: numismatical, numismatician,
numismatist, numismatography, numismatologist and numismatology.

"Numismatician" was a new one on me until Bob Fritsch used it in a
2002 E-Sylum submission, quoting the Swiss National Bank:

The term is still in used as I learned via a web search.  Here are
some examples:

"A well-known numismatician in coastal Jiangsu Province, Wu Gensheng,
recently donated all his 10, 000 pieces of coins to the museum of
Wujiang in his hometown. " (March, 2001)
Full Story

"The aim of this part of the collection is only to give an overview
of the legends, and it is not organised with the numismatician's point
of view in mind." (June, 2006)
Full Story


Professor of Chemistry Peter Gaspar writes: "The topic of brittle
gold introduced by Dick Hanscomb in the July 9th E-Sylum is
numismatically significant and has been discussed for more than a
century.  Unfortunately, the heat treatment recommended by Dick
Johnson may fail.

G. F. Ansell, in his "Royal Mint" 3rd edition, London, 1871
discusses brittle gold on pp. 49-53.  He blames the brittleness
on the annealing (softening by heating) before striking of gold
blanks which contained antimony, arsenic, and lead impurities.
Ansell claimed that such brittle gold could be converted into
perfectly sound coins, so long as the blanks were not annealed.
This is different from Hanscomb's brittle gold which cannot even
be rolled.  Ansell coined sovereigns in the London mint from brittle
gold in 1859, and they can be recognized by a line he placed on the
ribbon in Victoria's hair.  See Major Pridmore's "The Ansell Soverign"
in the Spink Numismatic Circular, November 1964, p. 258.

In "The Metallurgy of Gold" by T. K. Rose and W. A. C. Newman, 7th
edition, London, 1937, the most potent impurity leading to brittle
gold is said to be bismuth, and bismuth-embrittled gold is not softened
by heat treatment and must be refined.  The brittleness of gold caused
by tellurium increases with annealing, but softening occurs for other
impurities.  Since different samples of raw gold will differ in their
impurities, the variations in rolling and blanking observed by Dick
Hanscomb are consistent with what metallurgists have written about
gold alloys."

Ken Douglas agrees: "Dick Hanscom's problem with the gold may be a
purity problem. When I was young, I worked in a jewelry company as
a press operator. I carried a bar of gold around in my pocket while
I was working without thinking about its value. The gold scrap was
recycled many times and probably picked up impurities each time it
was melted. The results were what Hanscom described.

I am of the opinion that if he melts it, cleans off as much residue
as possible, lets it cool, and cuts it up for a remelt a couple of
times, he may get better results. This is just an opinion since I
did not have a direct hand in the melting and that was almost 50
years ago.  He might also cast his planchets rather than rolling


Philip Mernick writes: "Further to the enquiry in last week's E-sylum
about identifying ancient coins: Someone recently showed me a Greek
silver coin with a cow and calf on one side and something like
thunderbolts on the other. I entered "greek coin +cow" into Google
and got a site with a number of pictures of my coin (Illyria,
Dyrrhachium). Well worth a try.


Relating to the earlier topic of coin dealer Luther Tuthill and
the 19th century simplified spelling movement, this week I came
across a recent article on the topic:

To read the complete article: Full Story


A couple years ago we had some discussion about numismatic author
and coin dealer Frank Lapa, who was convicted of murdering his
business patner Ray Yablum.  For background, here are links to
the articles in the E-Sylum archive:




Web site visitor Diane (Narvel) Reed of Ridgefield, WA writes:
"I was “Googling” names from my past and somehow did a search on
Ray Yablum and then on Frank Lapa. Why? Because I worked with both
of these men at the Chicago Coin Corporation at the time Ray
disappeared. I remember very well, watching the disintegration of
Frank during this time.  His behavior was the very reason I quit
working for Ray.

Frank was a covertly angry and aggressive man.  More than once I
had to defend myself from unwanted advances from Frank, at one point
I grabbed a pair of scissors off a shelf in the stock room to get
him to back off from his advances.  I finally had to tell Ray that
if he left me alone in the store with Frank I would walk out and
not be responsible.  Ray left me alone and I resigned the next day.

I was hired by a construction company immediately after I resigned
and on the train going into work I read about Ray’s disappearance.
I knew immediately that Frank had something to do with it.  I spent
the first two weeks of my new job being hounded (perhaps that is not
the best word) by the FBI for information.

I remember well, all the times Frank ranted in the basement offices
about how he “could just kill Ray.”  It was a comment most people
have heard others make and never paid given much credence to it.
I knew Frank was not stable. I also remember the odd calls I received
at home from Frank in the short time between when I quit and when I
read about Ray’s “disappearance.”

It is my understanding that Ray’s body was not identified by a ring,
but rather by a gold fist charm distinguished by three bands on the
wrist, that he worn on a chain around his neck.  When he was hit on
the head with the crystal ashtray, his head slumped forward. Frank
(or his ex-wife) removed the chain from Ray’s neck but the charm was
captured in the folds of his neck and was found when his body was

I also remember the anguish Ray’s wife, Judy, suffered because his
body could/would not be released for burial for almost a year after
it was discovered.  If I remember correctly, he was murdered in
California, but his body was discovered in Nevada and the state line
issue came into play.

If there are any questions I might be able to answer, please feel
free to contact me.  It was such an incredibly long time ago, but
there is much about this that I remember like it was yesterday.

Could anyone tell me when Frank was released… when he died?"

[Here I am, amazed all over again by how The E-Sylum can help bring
together people and information from all over.  Earlier we had heard
directly from a police officer who worked on the case, and now we're
hearing from someone who knew and worked with both of the individuals.
Can anyone help answer Diane's question?   -Editor]


Last week I noted Leonard Hartmann's observation on shrinking print
runs in the philatelic literature field, and asked about the parallels
in the numismatic publishing world.

Granvyl Hulse writes: "I may be wrong in my assumption as to how
books are being printed in the outside world today, but if my local
publisher is an example of modern times the initial number of copies
of a book printed is not necessarily the total number that will
eventually be printed.

My own books are first scanned into my publisher's computer for which
I pay a fee depending on the time taken to scan them. Once this is
done my first run is usually a very limited number to see if it sells.
I am then only out the actual cost of publishing a few copies initially,
and this of course depends on the number of pages and binding. If the
book does not sell I am not stuck with a depleted check book, and boxes
of unsold of books piled away in my attic.

If it does sell I can have any number later struck to meet the demand.
I am feeding a local store a book I wrote on inns and restaurants in
lots of 20. As they sell out I have my publisher run off 20 more, and
will continue to do this until the market dries up. Since the CD belongs
to me should there be a demand in the future for the book, the CD will
be sent back to the publisher for any number of desired re-prints."

Morten Eske Mortensen writes: "I've already written an article on this
subject back in 1999 and published it in the Swedish magazine

The article also is online: Full Story

You will see that I have collected actual numbers for print runs
on recently published numismatic books.

The Danish word "oplag" = "print run"

the Danish word "udsolgt 19xx" means "went out-of-print in the
year 19xx".

"Pris" = "originally salesprice at the day of publication".

"rea-pris" = "realisation price to get rid of the remainder of
the print-run".

"foræret" = "books were given away for free (no payment of
money for the books)".

I have continued collecting information on print-runs for numismatic
books published since the article and some day this data will be
published in a follow-up article. This information can be useful
for other venturers into publishing of numismatic books - only small
printings runs will be needed for ANY numismatic books (and the
corresponding sales price of course will have to be of a 'high
nominal' sales value to be able to cover the production costs.
Otherwise you (the happy publisher) will lose his money!"

[Here is a link to Morten's earlier E-Sylum article on the
topic. -Editor]


Paul DiMarzio writes: "When I read the article titled "SMALLER
PRINT RUNS FOR NUMISMATIC BOOKS?" it reminded me of a New York
Times article I recently read that pointed me to the beta site of
a new service called blurb (  blurb provides
free software for formatting the contents of a book, which can then
be published as an 8x10, full color hardcopy book with custom
dustcover.  Prices are pretty cheap, running from $30 for a 40-page
book up to $80 for 440 pages.

There are two features that make this more interesting than other
self-publishing services: you can order a print run of just a single
copy, and, apparently, your book can be posted for others to purchase
- although it's not clear to me who gets the money.  Like I mentioned
this is a beta, and I haven't tried it myself, but it looks promising.

This caught my eye because I have the dream of someday pulling together
a book based on my collecting interests and this will let me do it -
even if I'm the only one who wants that book!!!  Technology may have
finally enabled a truly affordable print-on-demand business model,
which would be great news for the numismatic community.  Small print
runs would no longer be an issue and books would never truly go out
of print.  I suspect this might not make all the readers of The
E-Sylum happy, though, because it also implies a drop in collectible
books :-)"


Andy Lustig writes: "I need some help understanding a couple of
U.S. experimental patterns. The first is the platinum 1814 half
dollar, which we know to have been struck in 1814. I consider it
likely that this is really a trial piece for a platinum eagle, and
the half dollar dies were used because that's all that was on hand.
However, to bolster my case, it would help to know what platinum was
worth in 1814. I have been unable to find the answer. Maybe one of
the E-Sylum's inmates can help.

The second piece is an 1855 half dollar struck in aluminum, and the
question is the same. What was aluminum worth in 1855?

Finally, does anyone know anything about the history of these coins
that is not reported in Pollock or Judd?"


Last week Dick Johnson and I posed a quiz question, and we must have
stumped everyone.  Which foot is forward on the statue of Abraham
Lincoln depicted on the Lincoln Cent and back of the $5 bill?

"A unique piece of Americana caught up in a dispute over priceless
relics shows that thoughts were mixed about which foot should be out

The piece, a plaster study used for carving the statue, has the
seated president with his left foot out, which was the Greek style.
When sculptor Daniel Chester French's marble statue was carved, it
was decided to put Lincoln's right foot out, the Roman way."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


This week Jim Spilman announced the reopening of a number of online
Special Interest Groups (eSIGs) sponsored by the Colonial Newsletter
Foundation.  Here's his list, showing the name, moderator and URL
of each.  Some of the Moderator positions are currently open:

"(1)  ColNewsLetFndn (original CNLF eSIG and includes CNLF-1
and CNLF-2)
David Palmer & Clem Schettino co-Moderators

(2)  Blacksmith Tokens. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
John Lorenzo
Blacksmith Tokens

(3)  Connecticut Coppers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Jeff Rock
Connecticut Coppers

(4)  Constellatio Nova  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Tony Carlotto
Constellatio Nova

(5)  Continental Dollars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Continental Dollars

(6)  Fugio Cents Of 1787 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
David Palmer
Fugio Cents Of 1787

(7)  Higley Coppers  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . .
Dan Freidus
Higley Coppers

(8)  Machin’s (Atlee) Halfpence . . .  . . . . . .. . . . . .
Machin's (Atlee) Halfpence

(9)  Massachusetts Copper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mike Packard
Massachusetts Copper

(10) Massachusetts Silver . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Massachusetts Silver

(11) New Jersey Coppers (including St.Pats.). . . . . . . . .
New Jersey Coppers

(12) Vermont Coppers . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . .
Tony Carlotto
Vermont Coppers

(13) Virginia Halfpence of 1773. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Roger Moore
Virginia Halfpence of 1773

(14) First U.S. Mint. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . .
First U.S. Mint

(15) Early American Numismatic History (CNLF-EANH) . . . . . .
Early American Numismatic History

(16) Early American Tokens & Minor Coinages (CNLF-EATMC) . . .
Early American Tokens & Minor Coinages

(17) Early American Printed Currency (CNLF-EAPC). . . . . . . .
Lou Jordan
Early American Printed Currency

(18) Science & Technology (CNLF-SCITECH) . . .  . . . . . . . .
Science & Technology

If you would like to join one or more of these CNLF/eSIGS
just click on the appropriate URL and when you reach the eSIG,
read the introductory material and click on "Join this Group".
The Moderator will contact you by eMail. Thank you."


John and Nancy Wilson wrote a nice article in the August 2006 issue
of Bank Note Reporter about the paper money in last month's American
Numismatic Rarities MidAmerica Sale.  With permission I'll reprint
some sections of the article dealing with my consignment.  It's
lengthy, but indulge me.  Many thanks to the Wilsons for
forwarding the text for The E-Sylum.  Their article has a great "you
are there" feel, and it accurately reflects the excitement and dynamics
of good auction action.

"The fabulous collection of Wayne K. Homren contained 34 Lots of
Encased Postage Stamps.  The collection saw strong bidding from
the book, floor, phone and Internet.  It is very unusual to see
this many encased postage stamps in one sale.  We commend Wayne for
putting together such a high grade collection of encased, that had
so many of the different issuers represented.

Frank Van Valen called the encased portion of the sale.  He had a
tough job, because bidding was coming from several areas of the
floor, Internet and some very determined phone bidders.  With
excellent descriptions, accurate grading, and all of the lots
depicted in vivid color, the results from the sale of encased were
very strong.  Some of the lots sold for extremely high, and more
than likely record prices.

ANR Staff Members handling the phone bidding were kept very busy
for some of the lots that the people they were representing wanted
“very badly.”   The Sand’s Ale .05 went for an absolutely crazy price.

The ANR staff, handling the phone bidding on the back wall were kept
extremely busy when the Sand’s Ale .05 in Lot 840 crossed the block.
It was described as, “Encased postage. Sand’s Ale. Five cents. HB-207,
EP-90 & KL #EPS 169 Rarity 8 and described as basically XF.”  The Ford
sale, which we attended, saw that .05 Sand’s Ale in ChXF (full silvering
on back) sell for $9,200 to a phone bidder.  Ironically, the Ford
example sold in this same room as the Homren example.

It opened at about 9:40 P.M. with a book bid of $3,100.  After receiving
this bid, the auctioneer looked over the room and saw several hands go
up to bid.  In the back of the room was a major token and medal dealer
who wanted the piece for either himself or a customer.   He wasn’t
successful and after the sale said that the price was very high.

As the bidding for this lot went over the $10,000 level, all heads in
the room were turned to the back wall with the phone bidding.  Up, up
and away the bidding went for the three phone bidders who wanted this
lot.  Everyone was getting whiplash turning around and looking at the
crazy phone bidders who were taking this piece to a level far surpassing
what its value should have been.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, it closed to one of the
phone bidders to a round of applause from everyone in attendance.
The successful phone bidder probably went into shock after they
realized what price was paid for this lot.     The ANR staff members
handling the phone bidding probably got cauliflower ears from the
phones they held to their ears – over a long period.

The sale of this piece will long be remembered by us and everyone who
attended the sale.  Oh yes, the selling price was a whopping $18,400.
That is stupendous for a Sand’s Ale.  We were able to get the very rare
Ford .10 for $7,475 a few years ago.  If memory serves us right we paid
probably the buyers fee for our .05 Sand’s Ale some years back.  In any
instance the buyer of the .05 Sand’s Ale in this sale should be
commended for their tenacity in bidding for a scarce encased that
is rarely available.

Other highlights from the encased follow.  An Aerated Bread Co. .01
HB-1, EP-1 & KL #EPS 1  Rarity 7 in XF opened at $1,000 and sold for
$1,955.  A Joseph L. Bates .01 HB-49, EP-6A & KL #EPS 41 Rarity 6 in
XF to AU opened at $1,000 and after two phone bidders sought ownership,
one of them was successful at $2,300.  The F. Buhl & Co...01 HB-67,
EP-8 & KL #EPS 49 Rarity 8 opened at $1,000 and was fought over by a
floor bidder and the phone.  The phone was successful for $1,840.

A phone bidder was also successful for a .10 H. A. Cook HB-95, EP-108
& KL #EPS 76 Rarity 7 in XF.  After opening at $1,800, it sold for
$2,760.  Another hotly contested piece seeing strong bids from the
book, floor and phone was a John W. Norris .01 HB-184, EP-23 & KL
#EPS 155 Rarity 8 in XF.  Opening at $1,800, it was finally hammered
down for $3,450.

The phone ruled on the last three lots we will cover for the encased.
An N. G. Taylor .03 HB-26, EP-57 & KL #EPS 186 Rarity 8 in ChXF opened
at $1,800 and sold for $2,990.  A Weir & Larminie .10 HB-233, EP-133 &
KL #EPS 196 Rarity 5 opened at $1,500 and after another phone to phone
confrontation, it was finally sold for $2,760.  Finally, two phone
bidders fought for an important White the Hatter .01 HB-234, EP-30 &
KL #EPS 197 Rarity 7 in XF.  Opening at $1,700, it was hammered down
for $3,680.

Many in the room were shaking their heads after the last encased sold.
The prices realized for this section was excellent.  Anyone who was a
successful bidder probably got the pieces they went after – but – had
to pay very high prices.  Only two of the encased lots didn’t sell, and
many went to the phone bidders.  Four phones were set up and active
throughout the sale of encased.  Only two of the encased didn’t sell
and 12 lots went to the strong book.

Nineteen lots of emergency lots from the Civil War will close out our
coverage of this ANR sale.  These lots were all from the Wayne K. Homren
collection.  Of great importance were three encased postage stamp
envelopes that were used to hold stamps.  This emergency issue is very
scarce and in great demand from not only coin and paper money collectors,
but also philatelists.  A .15 Joseph Bryan 214 Fulton Street, Brooklyn
listed in Drowne (AJN 1918) & KL #9-15 in XF opened at $1,100 and sold
to a phone bidder for $2,300.  The KL reference has a price of $725.
Yes, the phone was active in this session also.  The .25 J. Leach 86
Nassau St. N.Y. Drowne (AJN, 191) & KL #60-25 in ChXF opened at $830
and sold to the phone for $1,495.  The KL reference has a price of $575.
The phone was also successful on the Leach .30 same address as above
(Drowne (AJN 1918) & KL #59-30 in ChXF.  It had a different layout then
the other Leach that sold in the last lot.  After opening at $850, it
sold for $1,725.  The KL reference has a price of $650 for this envelope.
 All of these were purchased by Wayne from a Kevin Foley price list that
was issued in 1985.  We also purchased some of these envelopes from the
Foley price list at that time.  These are scarce items that rarely appear
in auctions.

Fifteen lots of emergency card board scrip from the Civil War era were
highlighted by a lot containing a pair of Civil War era cardboard scrip
issues by Charles A. Drach, New York City.  They are listed in Rulau
with no numbers assigned.  Both of these pieces were graded at VF, and
once light mounted.  Opening at $200, they sold for $552.  An amazing
set of .01, .02 & .03 Mathews & Brothers, Druggists, New York City
listed in Rulau went for a very strong price.  Opening at $260, they
sold for $414.

It wasn’t mentioned but on the back of some of the issues they are
semi-postally cancelled.  They are available for prices that we think
are lower then the price paid for this lot.  A Hugh Shull Price list
from 2005 has two examples for sale at about $45 each.  We purchased
our set years back for about $40.  Bidding fever and excellent
cataloging can sometimes bring outstanding prices.  All of the
emergency issues sold for what we think are very good prices.  Not
much is written on these cardboard Civil War issues, and when more
is, their popularity will make these prices seem reasonable.

It was an excellent sale that we enjoyed covering for Bank Note
Reporter.  The ANR staff is top notch, and the catalog itself is
a real keeper."


MPCGram Editor Fred Schwan writes: "I seem to have missed the beginning
of the discussion on the mutilation of coin catalogs (and, I assume,
other printed numismatic pubs).

I have one recent little story that I can tell. At the recent American
Numismatic Association summer seminar library sale, I purchased a set
of Numismatic Scrapbook magazines 1941-1945 (less 1943). I paid all of
$1 per year.

I then had a great time in the library going through every issue. I
tore out any page that had anything to do with WWII emissions or WWII
collecting. I gathered a really nice pile of good stuff. I sure hope
that I get around to using the info. Anyway, I figured that this was
far cheaper and MUCH easier than making photocopies of the needed

Along the way Wendell Wolka piped up asking about articles and stories
about obsolete bank notes, so I tore some of those out for him too.

Well, when I finished, I threw the carcasses in the trash and went about
my business.  That night a roommate told me that I was in trouble with
the librarian! My trash had been found, an investigation conducted, and
a guilty verdict issued! I wondered what the crime was.

The next day I reported to the librarian and confessed my sin and begged
to know the crime. He said that I should not have thrown the waste in
the library trash.

I said, oh. Well, what could I say?

I have exaggerated only slightly for effect. I do not know if there
is a point to this or even if it relates to the discussion, but I offer
it anyway.

I will give one little clue to that research project.  I watched the
advertisements as well as the editorial material. I was interested in
such things as when the first Hawaii notes showed up in an ad and how
that related to when the first news reports on the subject."

[Aha!  So the Great Wolka is complicit in the dastardly crime!
40 minutes with their heads in the book press!  -Editor]


This week's featured web site features to work of Thomas D. Rogers.
>From the site's home page:  "As a former United States Mint
Sculptor/Engraver, among my numismatic credits are the reverses of
the Golden Dollar, also called the "Sacagawea" dollar, and the
Massachusetts, Maryland, and South Carolina Quarter Dollars. I was
the designer of these circulating coins, and sculpted them as well
as many collectable commemorative coins, Congressional and National
U.S. Mint medals... Since retiring from the U.S Mint in 2001, I have resumed
a freelance design and sculpture career.."

  Wayne Homren
  Numismatic Bibliomania Society 

Content presented in The E-Sylum is not necessarily researched or independently fact-checked, and views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.

The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature.   For more information please see our web site at There is a membership application available on the web site.  To join, print the application and return it with your check to the address printed on the application.  Visit the Membership page. Those wishing to become new E-Sylum subscribers (or wishing to Unsubscribe) can go to the following web page link.

PREV        NEXT        V9 2006 INDEX        E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

NBS Home Page    Back to top

NBS ( Web