The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

PREV        NEXT        V9 2006 INDEX        E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 9, Number 41, October 8, 2006:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Tom Hawkins, John Campbell,
Jonathan Brecher, Neal Montgomery (courtesy of Doug Winter),
Ginger Rapsus and Henry Hurley. Welcome aboard!  We now have
984 subscribers.

Thanks to Doug Winter for mentioning us on his web site.  I've
been on the road this weekend while my email piled up to the virtual
rafters.  I'm home again and have plowed through it all, but I'm
running out of gas.  So no more Wayne's Words this week, except to
note that we have another big mix of interesting topics this issue.
Keep those wonderful submissions coming, folks!  Have a great week.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Numismatic literature dealer Richard Stockley of Lasalle, Quebec,
Canada writes: "I would like to inform everyone who has purchased
books from me that as of 16 October my new email address will be My stock can still be viewed at
.  Those of you who
don't know me, I have been dealing in books on coins, tokens,
paper money, business/banking histories and philately for over
20 years."


Speaking of book lists, anyone with an interest in U.S. or world
tokens and medals should visit Rich Hartzog's World Exonumia web
site book list.  It contains the largest inventory of exonumia
books I've ever seen.  There are books on every topic under the
sun from Indian Peace Medals to exploder tokens to the plantation
tokens of Guatemala.

One new listing is one of my favorite numismatic books, TEMPUS IN
NUMMIS, by Sweeny and Turfboer, a two-volume set on numeral and
calendar systems.  The 425-page 1993 book is a steal at $24.95.

To view Hartzog's exonumia literature price list, see:


Subscriber Ginger Rapsus is the author of the 1992 book on the
United States clad coinage (published by Bowers and Merena
Galleries).  I welcomed her to The E-Sylum and mentioned that
I had a copy of her book.  She writes: "I heard about E-sylum
in Coin World and through the writings of Dave Bowers. I am
happy you bought my book; it wasn't exactly a best-seller!
I was interested in updating it, and I sent a few messages to
Whitman, but apparently they weren't interested.  I wrote the
book basically to fill a need.  Nothing had been written on
clad coins, even after they had been circulating for over 20
years.  I stopped writing from 1997-2004 or so, and since I
came back, I've been writing lots of coin articles for
different magazines, and I have completed three novels."

[Ginger's book should rightly be remembered as a landmark,
and is still valuable today.  The clad coinage was looked down
upon from day one by most in the numismatic community, and I
was guilty myself of ignoring it even though I knew better.
As Dave Bowers often writes, the time to collect something is
when no one else is interested.  I told myself on a number of
occasions that I ought to be putting aside quantities of high
grade clad coins, searching for varieties, etc., but every
time thought twice and never got started.  Like most of us,
I was just too interested in other things at the time.  I don't
regret my choices, but do wish I'd found the time (and money)
to do more along the way.  Now, over forty years have gone by
and predictably, some issues are difficult to find in high
grades and certain varieties are sky-high in price.

Her book opens with a 33-page Part I on The End of Silver Coinage
addressing the price of silver, the coin shortage and government
response, the 1964 silver dollar, etc.  Part II covers the debate
over and eventual composition of the new coins.  Part III presents
mintage figures.  I found Part IV very interesting - "Clad Coins
in Circulation and Collections" addresses the issue of how the
new coins were greeted by collectors.

"I can tell you from firsthand experience that it all but killed
interest in collecting coins out of circulation," commented Ken
Bressett.  "As hard as we tried, we just could not get people to
start collections of clad coin in Whitman folders."

Part V, "A Collection of Readings" rings true today, in an era
where all the swirl is over eliminating the cent for some of the
same reasons that chased silver out of our coinage.  Finally,
the book reprints the text of the Coinage Act of 1965.

I would recommend her book to anyone with an interest in U.S.
coinage, modern or otherwise.  -Editor]


Steve Pellegrini writes: "For years I have collected historic
medals, always contemporary to the events they commemorate. I
have, over time, been interested in so many diverse eras and
medals that my library is pretty extensive and diverse. My
library has always been more of an accumulation of 'needed'
information, a working library rather than a connoisseur's
library of rare numismatic literature. However, this time out
the book I am in need of and searching for bridges both types
of libraries.

About eight years ago I became interested in collecting medals
by the early 20th century Munich medalist Karl Goetz. This led
me to an interest in the works of the best of his contemporaries.
Many of these were young artists experimenting in artistic styles
counter to the pervasive & prevailing influence of French
medalists. Eventually I found that the medals of these artists
I was collecting were from World War One. This interest in turn
led me to the medals of other countries involved in that horrific

Naturally my library reflects this ongoing interest in the 1914-1919
years.  I have acquired many of the best references concerning medals
issued during that conflict and its aftermath. However there is a
gaping hole in my reference library. I lack a reference for the many
medals issued by Belgium during the war. At this time Belgium, like
Germany, was rich in young artistic talent interested in working in
the medallic medium. These artists created some of the most
significant medals of that war. But surprisingly, there is no
readily available catalogue of these works.

As I understand it there is one very fine reference to Belgium's WWI
medals. It is supposed to be extremely scarce and I have never run
across it or even its title. Does anyone out there know the book that
I might be referring to? If I had its title, author or ISBN perhaps
I could locate a copy. If any E-Sylum reader could supply me with
info on any reference book dedicated to Belgian medals of the
1914-1919 period I would be so very grateful."


David Levy writes: "I'm looking to buy or borrow the 1966 issue
of Numismatic Chronicle (ser. 7, vol. 6) - it features an article/catalog
by N.M. Lowick on Shaybanid coins (pags 251-330). I'm wondering if one
of the readers may have this issue available, or tell me how to get it.
I started to collect these coins recently.  I'm looking for that
article because the only other good reference is a book written in
Russian (Davidovich's Corpus of Shaybanid Coins, 1992).  My email
address is"

[Can any of our readers provide David with a copy of the article,
or let us know of any other useful references in English?  -Editor]


The Granite Lady is on her way to becoming grand once again. It's
old news to some, but this was reported September 27 in the San
Francisco Bay City News: "The U.S. Mint in San Francisco, which
was commissioned in the Gold Rush era and withstood the 1906
earthquake, was leased Tuesday as part of a plan to create a
museum and adjoining commercial district.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously
agreed to the terms of a 66-year, rent-free lease to the San
Francisco Museum and Historical Society.

Plans for the building include extensive restoration to create
a 32,000-square-foot museum space, a new location for the San
Francisco Visitors Center, and a variety of shops and restaurants
facing Jesse Street."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

A more complete article published the same day by the Berkeley
Graduate School of Journalism provides more detail on the
challenges awaiting planners:

"The Granite Lady, as San Francisco's Old Mint is sometimes called,
sits on the corner of Fifth and Mission streets in apparent neglect,
many of its windows boarded or shuttered. If a visitor climbs the
21 stone steps to the portico and walks past the stately sandstone
columns, she will find a pair of heavy wooden doors with a coat of
faded gold paint. But she can't go inside-the doors don't even
have handles to pull.

In a few years, however, the Old Mint will have a new life and will
be open to the public like never before, according to a San Francisco
Museum and Historical Society plan.

Organizers moved closer to realizing that plan when the San Francisco
Board of Supervisors approved an agreement with the historical society
on Tuesday that acts as a legal roadmap describing how the city will
turn the Old Mint over to the group.

The biggest challenge the historical society now faces is raising
money to renovate the building. The historical society estimates it
will cost $86 million to remodel the massive granite structure,
make it accessible to the disabled, and strengthen it to withstand
a strong earthquake. The group currently needs to raise about $38
million to reach its goal.

The city will not provide any direct financial assistance to the
historical society, except to lease the Old Mint for free for 66
years. But the historical society must show it can completely fund
the project before the city will turn over the property. The society
has 18 months to do so."

"Good luck raising that 38 million," said Board of Supervisors
President Aaron Peskin after the resolution was adopted.

"The Old Mint building opened in 1874-it was called the New Mint
back then-and by the 1930s it housed one-third of the U.S. government's
gold reserves. It survived the 1906 earthquake and fire, and was the
only operating financial institution after the disaster. It operated
until 1937, when a new mint opened on Duboce Avenue. Until 1995, it
was used as office space by the Treasury Department and for about 20
years housed the Old Mint Museum."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Alan V. Weinberg writes: "I agree with Dick Johnson's evaluation
of the Reed & Barton Cape Cod medal's market value - it is certainly
worth well under $100 and sells somewhat regularly in Joe Levine's
auctions. I have seen or examined easily a dozen and a half of the
bronze medal (estimated surviving population well over 100) and
never specifically sought it out. I'm not sure if I've ever seen a
silver specimen, which would likely bring $400 or more at legitimate (
non-eBay) auction. $967 for a bronze? Egad!"

Joe Levine writes: "For what it's worth, I have sold the Cape Cod
medal four times since 1986.  The results are as follows (including
buyer's fee):

Sale 73, 2004, Lot #1471. Bronze. AU.  $75.90
Sale 69, 2001, Lot #1714. Bronze. AU.  $52.90
Sale 60, 1996, Lot #1583. Silver plated Bronze. Unc. $72.60
Sale 41, 1986, Lot #355.  Silver and bronze. 2 pieces.  $605.00"

[Although those of us in the mainstream numismatic world often
look askance at eBay auction results, it doesn't make the realized
eBay price any less real or legitimate - it's just not mainstream.
Any collectible item is worth whatever a buyer will pay for it at
the time of sale - no more and no less.  Tomorrow's results could
vary widely from today as the market dynamics change.

The "great unwashed" bidders on eBay may not know a thing about past
sale results in the mainstream world, but does it matter?  No one
can go back to 1986 or 2004 and reopen an old auction.  In 2006 this
particular medal came up for sale at a particular time when two or
more bidders had their hearts set on it.   If another example comes
up for sale tomorrow, it may well bring much less.  And if everybody
who has one of the 100 or so estimated surviving examples put them up
for sale simultaneously, prices could drop to next to nothing.  But
if another couple years goes by before one is offered, perhaps
another bidding war will break out.  That's what keeps us all
guessing on the valuation of medals and other non-commoditized
collectibles. -Editor]


My copy of the October Numismatist arrived this week, and the
smiling faces of a number of E-Sylum regulars are pictured.  Dick
Johnson's article on the Carnegie Hero Medals has a photo of Dick,
myself and medallic sculptor Luigi Badia, taken at the September
2004 Hero Fund Centennial dinner.  I also wormed my way into a
picture with collector Stan Turrini and Hero Fund commission
managing director Doug Chambers.  It was taken while we set up
the Hero Fund medal exhibit at the 2004 ANA in Pittsburgh.

Exhibitors Bill Cowburn, Stephen D'Ippolito and Sam Speigel are
shown, as are Mike Ellis, Ken Bressett and Kerry Wetterstrom.
Double Eagle author Alison Frankel is shown autographing copies
of her book, and Wendell Wolka is shown hard at work as an ANA
museum volunteer.

John Kraljevich's Early American Money column asks, "What's Brown
and Hides Under Half Cents"   The answer?  Extremely rare copper
half dollars of 1794.   Be sure to read this fascinating article.

Bob Leuver, who first shared some of his knowledge of the topic
with us in The E-Sylum contributed an article on "Canaries &
Currency" about the birds employed to detect deadly fumes at the
U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing.  Under "Learn more..."
the article references two E-Sylum articles!  This isn't the
first time our newsletter has been referenced in print, but it's
nice to be recognized so prominently.

Another article related to topics brought up previously in The
E-Sylum is "Find a Numismatic Grave" by Frank Passic.  The article
pictures the final resting places of coin designers Victor D.
Brenner and Felix Schlag.

I've been behind in my periodical reading and should note the
article by NBS Board member Joel Orosz in the September issue:
"An Interview With Lorin Parmelee".  The article discusses the
numismatic information found in Charles Tatman's "Plain Talk"
magazine, a onetime official ANA publication, and reveals some
long-forgotten information about one of America's leading coin

If you're not a member of the American Numismatic Association
you're missing out of some great numismatic reading.


An October 3rd Associated Press article discusses a very special
Congressional Gold Medal which recently came on the market and will
be auctioned next month by American Numismatic Rarities.  The medal
will be on display this week at the Whitman Coin Expo in Atlanta.
Authorized in 1848, the 20-ounce medal contains over a pound of
gold from the first shipment of California Gold Rush nuggets to
reach the U.S. Mint.

"When Zachary Taylor became president in 1849, he was a genuine
war hero, thanks to his exploits during the Mexican War.

The country said "thanks" three times, with Congressional Gold Medals.

The last, made from some of the first gold sent east from the
California gold fields, was presented after Taylor became president,
but it disappeared when Taylor died a year later. Over the years,
experts doubted it would ever be seen again, and some even speculated
it had been melted down."

"This is an important discovery because researchers assumed it was
lost or even melted during one of the financial panics that gripped
the United States since the mid-19th century," said Q. David Bowers,
of New Hampshire-based American Numismatic Rarities/Stack's.

"We'll need to update the reference books," he said.

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Courtesy of Dave Bowers I've had the pleasure of reading a draft of
John Kralevich's catalog description for the Zachary Taylor
Congressional Gold Medal.  One of the "rewrite the textbooks" items
concerns the 1848 "CAL." Quarter eagles:

"By numismatic tradition, the first gold pieces ever coined from
metal discovered in California were the 1848 CAL. $2.50 quarter
eagles. Exactly 1,389 pieces were coined from metal transmitted
from the military governor of California to the United States Mint
as part of a 228 ounce deposit. That deposit, however, arrived at
the Mint on December 9, 1848. Only one day earlier, the very first
deposit of California Gold Rush gold arrived at the Mint in
Philadelphia, a substantial hoard of 1,804 ounces of gold that one
David Carter had personally brought from the American River near
Sutter's Mill.

Original documents suggest that the newly discovered Taylor medal,
as well as the Winfield Scott medal now at the Smithsonian, was
actually produced from the Carter deposit. Since the products of
the Carter deposit were not identified with a mark (like the CAL
stamp on the 1848 CAL quarter eagles), this medal is the only
product of that first ever deposit from the California Gold Rush
that remains identifiable and in private hands!

A single line in a letter from Mint Director Robert Maskell Patterson
makes this point crystal-clear, as Patterson describes the CAL
quarter eagles but notes "the California gold reserved for the medals
is from another deposit." This letter, dated January 5, 1849, is
cited on page 117 of Dave Bowers' "California Gold Rush History."


In response to last week's Featured Web Page on the Wookey Hole
Mill, Ray Williams writes: "Last month Diane and celebrated out
20th anniversary.  On our honeymoon we went to England and one of
our impromptu stops was at Wookey Hole, which is a cave.  It was
interesting hearing about a witch that lived there and how people
dying downstream were attributing it to the witch...

Upon departing, Diane and I saw the paper mill.  We decided to stop
in.  We saw paper being made the old fashioned way, we saw how water
marks were done...  It was actually quite fascinating.  I noticed
several Confederate States of America notes hanging on the wall and
told Diane that I had an example in my collection that resembled one
of the notes.  After inquiring, I discovered that this mill supplied
the paper for some of the CSA notes.  It's always nice when you can
find something numismatic on a honeymoon!"


Karl Kabelac writes: "For research on the Guttag Brothers, Robert
Rightmire may want to consult Proquest Historical Newspapers which
has the New York Times, key word searchable from 1851 on.  He could
probably find it available in an academic library.

Searching the terms Guttag Brothers, Julius Guttag, and Henry Guttag
turns up a number of entries over the decades, including their

I have always used Proquest Historical Newspapers at the University
of Rochester Library.  But at the very head of the New York Times
homepage one can key word search the newspaper, 1851-1980 or 1981
onward.  One then has to pay to get the full text for the headlines
that come up, either by the article ($4.95), by the month (up to
100 articles for $7.95), or by the year (up to 1200 articles for

[Thanks for the suggestion. Last week we weren't sure Julius even
HAD a brother - now we know his name!  The obituaries ought to
reveal a great deal.  The Times archive is also available via a
two-week trial subscription through the newspaper's web site.

Leon Worden writes: "Thanks for including Dick Johnson's information
about the Guttag Brothers.  Abe Kosoff makes a number of anecdotal
references to the Guttag Brothers in the book, "Abe Kosoff Remembers,"
which is really a compendium of his Coin World columns.

Incidentally, I learned of the existence of "Abe Kosoff Remembers"
in the E-Sylum, and I'm glad I did. It reads like a personal diary
of some exciting decades in numismatic history, and fortunately,
it's indexed."

Bob Rightmire writes: "Since you first posted my inquiry on the
Guttag Bros., I had some excellent help and advice from several
numismatists. Dick Johnson has lead the way with both information
and some solid leads. Your copies of Guttag's Coin Bulletin yielded
several facts about their business.

I have learned that there is a picture postcard of the Guttag
building at 42 Stone St., New York City (ca. 1930). Has anyone
seen this postcard?

The suggestion that I check the NY Times for references to the
Guttag Bros. has been expedited by the Times' Select program which
allows subscribers to download up to 100 entries, from 1851 to the
present, per month.

I'm currently looking for leads to Louis Guttag's children Alvin,
Evelyn  and Erma Frank (as of Mar. 29, 1972)."


Concerning the collision of numismatics and politics discussed in
last week's E-Sylum, Ralf W. Boepple of Stuttgart, Germany writes:
"I think where Garry Saint's problem stems from is the fact that
on the "catalog Index" page of his website, he lists all entries
without making a difference between official countries, fantasy
states, political entities that no longer exist, or, as in the
cases discussed, separatist entities.

Entries are in alphabetical order, and he even assigns them flags,
where possible. On first sight, this can easily be mistaken as
recognition of the entities in question as independent countries,
or at least as a strong support for their cause.

To come back to one of the examples, Abkhasia, it would be better
to list it under the entry for Georgia, along with a short explanation
of its international status and the history that led to the printing
of the notes.
Should independence be recognized, at one point in the future, the
new country would then get its separate entry.

There is no doubt that such issues should be included in the list,
especially if there is proof that they served, or serve, as means
of payment to some extent. Even if they were only printed as
"commemorative" pieces, I would see a case, at least more than
with the abundant fantasy issues by pseudo-states. However, not
only to avoid "political" problems, but also for the sake of
correctness, completeness, and to enhance the usefulness of the
website as a research tool, it should be clear for each entry from
the beginning, that is, from the catalog index page on, what its
exact status under international law is.

Great homepage, by the way! I'm not a paper money collector, but
it is definitely something I will frequently come back to for some
interesting reading.

Two more short comments: the province of Katanga did not break away
from Nigeria, but from what was then the Belgian Congo, later Zaire,
now the Democratic Republic of Congo. And Greece did not protest
against Macedonian banknotes as such, but against the country calling
itself "Macedonia" (which the Greek say is a province within their
own territory). For that reason, Macedonia the country is officially
called "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", or FYROM.

On another discussion that has been held here in the E-Sylum, I can
say that I am perfectly fine with the term "paper money", even if a
note is not made of paper in the strict sense of the word. If you tell
me "paper money", I know exactly what you mean. If you told me
"printed money", I would actually rather think of cheques or bonds!"


According to an October 5 article, "Technology, material, and
printing quality are the major attributes that government inspectors
are checking at the National Money Printing Factory.

The inspection began in mid-September and will last until the
end of November, revealed Dang Duc Lam, a manager of the factory."

"...polymer banknotes are more durable than cotton-paper banknotes,
which helps Vietnam save issuance costs.

However, just several months after the first polymer banknotes
appeared in the market, some problems emerged, for example difficulty
of counting by machine, the ink on the face of the banknotes being
lost when two banknotes rub each other, and particularly, all the new
VND50,000, VND100,000 and VND500,000 have been successfully
counterfeited using sophisticated methods. The newly issued
VND10,000 polymer banknote also incured a publishing error."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

Howard Daniel writes: "There has been a recent rash of news items
in the Vietnamese press about their counterfeit and error polymer

The production errors are creating quite a stir because quality
control was supposed to be much higher for polymer notes than for
the old paper notes because the printing process is much more precise.

Numismatists have been collecting the polymer production errors, and
I have seen several of them, but we have not been reporting them to
the national bank branches.  When the national bank recently had an
error reported to it by a non-numismatist, they got quite excited
and started an investigation.

>From the articles about investigating production errors, it now appears
they are actually being printed in Viet Nam and that the polymer "paper"
is coming from Australia.  The printing facility is being reported using
various different words, but the official name in English is the National
Banknote Printing Plant (NBPP).   I had thought the notes were only being
numbered at the NBPP, but now, I am pretty sure they are printing them too.

A design error has also created a lot of noise in the press.  It is
on the new 10,000 Dong polymer note, which is missing a dot on the
upper right face side which should be "10.000" but has only "10000"
in a vertical line.  The poor designer and/or engraver who did it
might have been demoted, but it is likely he was fired.

The counterfeits coming out of the South China operation are getting
better and better.  I recently was sent two 100,000 Dong counterfeits
made with a plastic "paper" that is very close to polymer and can be
passed once or twice before it starts to look "funny."  The passers
only need to pass it once so it is working very well.

Of course, this has re-energized law enforcement in every branch of
the government.  Polymer was supposed to be MUCH more difficult to
counterfeit and this was one of the factors in Viet Nam converting
from paper to the higher cost polymer.  I doubt if there will be a
change out of polymer, but I do expect much stronger law enforcement
actions, and stronger diplomatic and INTERPOL actions to stop the
South China counterfeiting."


Regarding last week's suggestion to create reproductions of the silver
Nova Constellatio pattern set, Tom DeLorey writes: "Reproductions are
the bane of the hobby. Just last week I had an excited call from
somebody in Massachusetts who had a relative that had discovered a
Higley copper in some family heirlooms. They were positive it had
been in the family for at least 100 years, and wanted to know which
of the grading services they should fly it to. Fortunately I was able
to convince them to send me some images first, and I was able to
attribute it as a 19th Century Bolen copy.

Besides the torrent of crap coming out of China, the Gallery Mint
Museum copies continue to be a problem as charlatans file off the
shallowly-impressed word COPY and antique the remains for sale on
eBay. No matter how good the intentions of the maker, there are ten
times as many people out there with bad intentions."


[I was on the fence on the topic and love the Gallery Mint work,
but Tom makes a great point.  Repros are definitely a problem in
the hobby.  -Editor]


Dick Johnson writes: "Kimber Resources Inc. (of Hamilton, Ontario,
Canada and Brooklyn, New York) operates Gold Stock Center, which
publishes one of the most informative websites on numismatics (coins
for investment). Its index of articles of numismatic interest was
restored this Friday October 6, 2006. The index had been down since

At that time it stated "We are current modifying the Coin Today
web site to provide you with even more quality features including
enhanced news delivery.  As we conduct these modifications, we are
momentarily suspending our daily numismatic news feeds.

The sponsoring organization calls its website of daily listings
"the largest portal of daily news and resources to gold stock
investors." Much of the news are articles on coins of all compositions
-- not just gold -- and have been featured since the website came
online in 1998.

Here are the subject lines of its first restored index:

For Numismatic Treasure Seeker, A Possible New Find
$11+ Million Heritage Dallas Auction Approaches
Two More Reasons A Monetary Crisis Is Inevitable
  And Gold Is Going To the Moon
American Eagle Set Sales Climb Again
New Tg20,000 Banknote Unveiled
Gold Redux
Central Bank Gold Sales May Be Lower Than Forecast
Silver Proofs A Staple Of Mint Collector Offers
New Kazakh Bills Seen As Numismatic Rarity Due To Typo
Myth Of The Gold Supply Deficit
Fine Arts Commission Looks At Medals "


Dave Lange writes: "Whenever the subject of abolishing the lower
value coins comes up in conversation, I use the following argument
with those who claim it would be inflationary: The lowest value
coin in the USA for the past 150 years or so has been the cent.
If one factors in 150 years of inflation, it's easy to see that
the purchasing power of the cent at that time is likely equal to
or greater than that of the quarter dollar today, so we should
easily be able to manage our commerce with no coin valued less
than 25 cents. This typically brings all further discussion to
a halt.

When Gail Baker sent out an email recently, asking individuals
to comment on the question of whether the cent should be abolished,
I sent her a fairly long answer. As it is, the ANA newsletter
reproduced just one line of this to summarize my position. I
would like to resubmit the entire text here, since I put some
considerable thought into it:

"The cent is a useless coin that has possessed only sentimental
value for the past 30 years. While it may be permitted to continue
as a unit of account, much as the mil does with respect to gasoline
prices, no coin of this denomination should be manufactured.
Transactions ending in odd cent values should be just rounded
up or down to the nearest five cents.

"A timeless measure of a coin's utility is the following simple
question:  Can any item or service, however small, be purchased
with just a single coin of this value? If the answer is no, then
the coin is too valueless to be practical. Under this rule, the
cent ceased to be an effective coin with the double-digit inflation
of the 1970s. The nickel and dime are likewise condemned by such a
test, though the latter should continue for a few more years as
the smallest coined division of the dollar.

"It is impossible to manufacture one-cent pieces made from any
material, no matter how valueless, and still process and distribute
them for less than one cent per unit. It has already been established
that the actual cost of doing this is well over the coin's face value.
This has been true for many years, but the loss was somewhat hidden
within the seignorage (profit) realized from coining of the higher

"The cent remains in production today due to a combination of
government inertia and vested interests within both the government
and private industry. It is likely that the U. S. Mint's staffing
requirements would be reduced by elimination of the cent, and the
letting go of federal employees is a rarely sought solution to any
problem. Lobbyists for the zinc industry (this being the major
component of our current cents) operate behind a confusingly titled
group whose name was carefully selected to sound like a public
interest organization. By soliciting surveys that utilize questions
phrased in such a manner as to manipulate the resulting answers in
its favor, this group can proclaim that Americans still want their

"Other nations have successfully eliminated their smaller coins,
while simultaneously replacing the lower-valued paper notes with
coins of equivalent value. By doing this these countries have
provided a useful mix of coins over a range of values that enable
purchases to be made with the fewest number of coins. Contrast this
to the USA, where just buying a soft drink from a vending machine
typically requires the use of numerous, small value coins. The only
alternative is to feed dollar notes that are frequently rejected by
the machine for wear or damage.

Coins that more closely represent the range of prices found for
such commonly vended items would solve this awkward situation and
speed up all cash transactions in general. As for the lowly cent,
it has been many years since these were accepted by vending machines
and parking meters at all.

"The coining of cents for circulation should be terminated very soon,
though they may continue to be included in the U. S. Mint's sets made
specifically for collectors. This would in no way impeded the issuance
of the commemorative cents for the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's
birth in 2009. Such coins would likely be hoarded by collectors and
speculators in any case, preventing their general circulation.

"There is simply no point in maintaining the illusion that the cent
is a useful component in commerce. It is now just a historic relic
of America's past."


Dick Johnson writes: "Frankly, I had expected a greater outcry from
E-Sylum readers reacting to my proposal to reevaluated cents and nickels
to ten cent value to offset any continuing loss of producing these
coins with metal valued at more than their face value.

I must thank Sri Lanka's Kavan Ratnatunga for his comment. However, he
made one incorrect assumption -- he observed this move as a "zero sum
game."  If someone gained nine cents for each cent in their possession,
therefore someone must have lost nine cents.  Not true.

It is directly related to an expanding economy. No one -- personal,
corporate, or government -- loses nine cents.  The purchasing power
of the indivudual coin is readjusted.

A question for Kavan -- If you own a stock valued at ten dollars and
it goes up in value to twelve dollars, you gain two dollars, provided
you sell the stock. No one lost two dollars.  It is not "zero sum"!
It doesn't have to balance out. Over time the economy expands.

It is directly related to the expanding economy. Do we perhaps have
an economics major among our readers who can explain this better than
I have?"


Fred Holabird writes: "Kudos to Wayne for including the article
about liquid gold theft in Colorado.  As a past mine manager and
corporate officer, it is a surprise to me to see news of gold theft
in a numismatic journal, but it does make for fun reading.

There is a bit of a cultural tradition, passed on from mine manager
to mine manager, to watch for internal theft. I was taught early in
my career, that even though there are physical thefts of bullion bars
(visualize the hijacking and theft of silver bullion from a Wells
Fargo truck near the Candelaria mine in Nevada in the early 1980's),
that the greatest fear of theft was from within. It was not the
regular run-of-the-mill crooks we were after, it was the crooked PhD
chemist or metallurgist, who didn't disclose their background.

In one case I am aware of, mill workers were seen one lonely Sunday
"fishing" in the pregnant pond. Their excuse: practicing for an
upcoming vacation fishing trip. Reality: after they left, several
old socks were found in the pond. After retrieval, they were
full of a specific chemical that enhances metals recovery. You can
guess the rest.

In another instance, a complete separate recovery system was found
in a remote area of one of the heaps, covered by an old piece of
wood that looked like a scrap. It was out of place - litter is not
allowed - and what a surprise when lifted up - a nice portable
recovery unit."


Last week I asked: what connection does the Cripple Creek &
Victor Gold Mining company have to numismatics?

Gar Travis writes: "Well, it's in an area that was once called
Poverty Gulch. In 1891 one of the largest American gold veins
was struck there; beginning the Colorado gold rush. The "rush"
was started by a miner from Kentucky named Bob Womack."

[The numismatic connection(s) I was thinking of came via chapter
six in Dave Bowers' book, "Adventures in Rare Coins."  Titled
"Pikes Peak Gold", the chapter opens with a description of a
snowy February midwinter American Numismatic Association convention
at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Co.  Bowers notes that
in the 1890s Colorado Springs was "the commercial center for the
Cripple Creek District gold field, an immense treasure trove of
gold ore spread over many square miles on the western slopes of
Pikes Peak..."

While providing an account of a modern-day tour of the area
interspersed with interesting historical facts, Bowers touches on
numismatic topics such as Colorado saloon tokens, National Bank
Notes and Lesher Dollars.  He also notes that many Philadelphia
and Denver mint gold coins of the era were produced from Cripple
Creek gold.  -Editor]


Regarding last week's suggestion of "Boonik" as a name for the new
Canadian $2 polar bear coin, John Regitko writes: "Dick Johnson is
not exactly correct when he states that "Canada is looking for a
name for their new $2 coin with a polar bear on the reverse."  The
Royal Canadian Mint is asking people to vote on one of the FIVE NAMES
ONLY that they propose. Had they asked for recommendations, I venture
to guess that they would have received thousands of different names.
They would be names of people's pets, names of their children and,
because of our multicultural society, names popular in everyone's
country of birth."

[What are the five choices?  I was unable to find them on the RCM
web site.  -Editor]


David Sundman forwarded this link to a BBC news article on a
Roman coin discovery in Kent:

"A digger being used by workmen on a building site in Kent has
unearthed 3,600 bronze Roman coins dating from AD330 to AD348."

"The workmen saw all these coins come pouring out of the digger
bucket," said Maidstone Museum's Laura McLean.

They will be transferred to the British Museum for cleaning
and recording.

It is then hoped the hoard of coins can be put on display in

The county council's Andrew Richardson said: "In four years
of dealing with all the treasure in Kent I have never dealt
with anything on this scale."

"Dr Richardson said the coins featured the head of Roman Emperor
Constantine and other powerful figures from the time."

To read the complete article (and view a picture of the hoard), see: Full Story


On Friday, the New Hampshire Union Leader published an article about a
couple who unearthed what turned out to be a Hard Times Token while
renovating their home:

"Amy and Christopher Cammarota purchased a 17th-century Colonial-era house
on Thorton Way two years ago, expecting they would need to maintain and
rebuild the crumbling rubble foundation. They did not expect to unearth
historical artifacts in the process.

Last year, Amy Cammarota discovered at the base of the house a Daniel
Webster coin imprinted with the tall ship Constitution, the couple said in

"I kept seeing it on the ground, and one day I kicked it and dug it up with
my foot," she said. "It was green and corroded, and we cleaned it with a
tooth brush and water."

The token appeared to have been issued sometime between 1832 and 1844, and
builders working on the foundation in the mid-19th century possibly, and
providently, placed the coin in the foundation to mark the date of their

"The Cammarotas have found other artifacts, including old farm equipment,
horseshoes and an ax. As for the coin, they planned to frame it to mark the
history of the house."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Inspired by last week's item on the painstaking process of
reconstructing mutilated currency for redemption, Arthur Shippee
asks "Who paid for its recovery?"

[Good question.  It's Uncle Sam who pays.  I've never heard of the
submitter being charged a fee.  I confirmed this with Bob Leuver,
former head of the BEP.  He writes: "I never thought about it.  To
my knowledge we never changed for the service.  It was simply a
service of the Treasury Department.

You know, the Federal government performs or provides many
services such as currency recovery without charging."  -Editor]


Last week Dick Johnson gave us several hints on performing
numismatic oral histories.  He wrote: "For me it takes 40 hours
to transcribe an hour of tape. I know. I am slow. (That $3,000
computer hardware and software that immediately puts the text
on your computer screen and records it as each party speaks seems
more desirable all the time.)"

Arthur Shippee writes: "Let's see, forty hours per hour interview.
Ten interviews requiring four hundred hours.  Is your time worth
$8 per hour?  That's $3200.  $3000 is sounding cheaper all the


Granvyl Hulse writes: "Dick Johnson's tips for oral history
interviews was well done, and worth copying out. I would, however,
add a number (9) to his list, and that is to try and leave your
interviewee with a feeling that he would like to have you come
back at a later time. There is always the possibility that in
reviewing the transcribed copy you may subsequently realize that
you should have asked other questions, or need to expand on a
subject that was answered too briefly.

Oral history interviews are very much a part of our local town
history projects, and are done on a regular basis. The typed
interview is always sent to a second party for review. It is
these reviews that sometimes trigger more trips to the well.
"Go back and ask for more information on...." We have some old
timers that probably have been interviewed a dozen times. Dick
is right, limit your interviews to an hour, but it takes more
than one hour to debrief an eighty year old citizen of his or
her knowledge of town history. Thus it is quite important that
each interview end leaving the interviewee in a frame of mind
that would be happy to see you again."


Two embezzling Miami priests invested part of their take in rare
coins, according to a Reuters report published Saturday:

"Two Roman Catholic priests allegedly misappropriated more than
$8 million from their church and spent hundreds of thousands of
dollars on real estate, travel, rare coins and girlfriends, police
in Florida said on Friday.

The retired priests were accused of skimming cash from collection
plates and bequests to the St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church in
Delray Beach, Florida, over a period of years and channeling the
money into secret "slush funds" they used to pay personal bills,
Delray Beach police said."

"According to a police affidavit, Skehan invested heavily in
rare coins, once buying $275,000 worth in a single day."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


According to an October 4 Reuters report, "Austrian authorities
have discovered the body of a man who apparently died at home
in bed five years ago, a Vienna newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The corpse of Franz Riedl, thought to have been in his late 80s
when he died, went undetected for so long because his rent had
been paid by automatic order from the bank account into which
he received his pension, the daily Kurier said.

Police said they were not certain as to exactly when the man had
died, but that they had found only schilling notes in the apartment
-- the currency used by Austria before the introduction of the
euro on January 1, 2002."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Roger deWardt Lane of Hollywood, Florida (and formerly of
Orrington, Maine) writes: "I found this web site very interesting
as it has coins and history of some of my family which we have traced
back a thousand years to a French Knight and then, Count Roger I and
King Roger II of Sicily.  The family line then goes back to England
and via Thomas Rogers, Sr and Thomas Rogers, Jr - both of who came
over on the Mayflower.

Thomas Rogers, Jr became a farmer in Massachusetts and generations
later the State (now Maine) sold land, 100 acres to Jesse Rogers for
fourteen pounds (about $75. at the time) which as passed down to my
grandparents.  My grandmother was Susie Rogers.  My Mother named my
first name for the family, but dropped the 'S'.

I have the whole story on a family CD-ROM 'My Life Story'.  This
is the first time I have found reference to the coins of the time."

  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