The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 9, Number 46, November 12, 2006:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Russ Gordon, courtesy of Dave
Bowers, and Joe Wolfe. Welcome aboard!  We now have 995 subscribers.

This week's issue brings commentary on a number of items from last
week, including the dismissal of the ANA's librarian, and the Whitman
reprint of first edition Red Book.  The popular press has a number of
articles this week on numismatics topics, and several of these are
excerpted here, including items on recent auctions.  In addition, Alan
Weinberg reviews action at the latest Norwab sale.  Although
non-numismatic, we have a couple of interesting items from the stamp
world this week as well.  What was the "Dead Man's Penny?"   Read on
to find out.  Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Nick Graver writes: "The honor of being subscriber #1000 should
have some significance, or be awarded in some ceremonial way to
recognize an especially deserving individual or institution.  It
just seems like too good an opportunity to pass up.    Perhaps we
might solicit suggestions from present subscribers for the best
way to "make the most" of this landmark achievement?"

[Anne Bentley, Eric Newman and others have also noted the upcoming
milestone, and I'm at a loss for ideas.  What could I do - give out
a free subscription?  Put their name in ALL CAPS!?

What do our readers think?  I've been too busy recently with a house
move and family vacation to think much about it, although I agree
it's a special event deserving of some recognition.  If our friends
in the numismatic print world consider it equally newsworthy, we
could develop an article or two relating our special online niche.
Send me your thoughts and I'll compile some reader material.

What important numismatic facts did you learn here?  How have we
helped initiate or further a numismatic research project?  What
E-Sylum article or topic is most memorable?  Some of our readers
are quite addicted - how far out of your way have you gone to get
your weekly E-Sylum "fix"?  Write to me at


According to the American Numismatic Association press release:
"Research published for the first time in the Fall 2006 ANA Journal
concludes that common, proof reverse dies were used for all
denominations of proof coinage in the mid-1800s.

The landmark study, "An Era of Change: Proof-Only Reverse Dies of
the 1840s Used for All Denominations," by noted numismatist John
W. Dannreuther, is the result of more than 20 years of research
after Dannreuther first formulated his hypothesis.

"As early as the 1970s, I was almost certain that the Mint changed
its practice in 1840 and began to holdover proof-only reverse dies
for all denominations," said Dannreuther.  "Proving it, of course,
was a different story.  The rarity of nearly all the proof coins of
the 1840s made this a daunting task. Piece by piece, the puzzle begin
to fit together. As the sales of several great collections appeared
during the ensuing years, more denominations were confirmed."

The fall issue of ANA Journal also features papers delivered at the
Maynard Sundman/Littleton Coin Company Lecture Series in Denver on
Aug. 17.  Joaquín Montero, Ph.D. discusses "The Coinage of Alexander
the Great and His Image on Currency"; James Benjamin, Ph.D. and
Barbaranne Benjamin, Ph.D. address "Visual Rhetoric in the U.S.
Bicentennial Quarter"; and Roger W. Burdette considers "American
Advocates: Changing the Course of National Coinage Design."

ANA Journal currently is seeking articles displaying original
numismatic research.  Submissions are evaluated by a peer review
panel on the basis of scholarship, presentation and suitability
of illustrations.  For inquiries and writer guidelines, please
contact Managing Editor Andrew Dickes at 719-482-9814, or by

Individual copies of the Fall 2006 ANA Journal are $21.95 (postpaid),
with an annual subscription to the quarterly publication priced at
$65.95.  To order, call the ANA MoneyMarket toll-free at 800-467-5725."


This week has brought many comments regarding the ANA's dismissal
of librarian and former historian David Sklow.  A representative
sample is shown below.

Gar Travis writes: "I am profoundly saddened by David's dismissal.
Collectors have lost their last true "hobby knowledge numismatist"
on the ANA staff. The jobs which he has held since joining the staff
of the Association have been performed with professionalism and
dedication.  As others before him who were dismissed, it was done
seemingly without cause."

David Lange writes: "The organization seems to be doing everything
it can to drive away those who care about it.  How does the ANA expect
people to feel generous toward it when the leaders keep finding
evermore ways of alienating us?"

Tom DeLorey writes: "Twenty-two years ago I quit the ANA to protest
ANACS Office Manager Mary Thompson being fired unjustly. I am sorry
to see that nothing has changed out there.

I understand that Mr. Cipoletti is asking the Board for a five-year
extension to his current contract, which does not expire until
December, 2007.  If anybody thinks that this action might not be in
the best interests of the ANA, please contact the current Board members
and give them your input. If you think that he should stay, please
express that as well."


George Fuld writes: "When I noted the reprint of the Red Book first
edition, it reminded me of my early days.  I sold a complete set of
Red Books in my 1971 numismatic library auction.  However, my first
edition was purchased around 1946 when I was at the ripe old age of
14 and heavily involved in saving U.S. coins.  This was before I made
the venture to the 1947 ANA convention in Buffalo, where I got the
Civil War bug!!

How many of our old timers (except for Eric Newman) are still around
who purchased the Red Book when it first came out?"

Gary Dunaier writes: "I was also surprised to see that no one else
commented on the "Tribute Edition" reprint of the first Redbook.
I've been looking forward to it ever since the ad appeared in the
October 16 Coin World.  But I've also been surprised that there hasn't
been any follow-up anywhere... either in the coin press, in the E-Sylum
(until last week) or on Whitman's very own website, which doesn't list
the Tribute Edition.

I'm also interested in the signed edition... whose signature will it
bear?  [I assume this would be Ken Bressett, the current Red Book
editor.  -Editor]

I can't say what effect the reprint will have on the original...
I do know that its current price of $1,000 in VF (as per the 2007
Redbook) is waaaay out of my price range, so in my case it's not like
I would have bought an original had the Tribute Edition not come along.

Perhaps there might be one or two who, having bought the reprint,
are intrigued enough to start collecting the originals.

And, having quoted the Redbook as a source for the price of an
original first edition, I can also quote it in answering your quiz:
the first printing at the bottom of page 135 reads "the scarcity of
this date," while the second printing has "the scarcity of 1903 O."

Now I've got a question for YOU: which version will appear in the
Tribute Edition?"

[Gary's answer is correct.  As for the reprint, I assume this will
be of the first printing.  To get in the proper spirit of things,
perhaps copies of BOTH printings could be produced!  -Editor]


Last week's item about the opening of the Newman Money Museum in
the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum failed to highlight that the
museum is located at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Fred Holabird and Ken Berger were among those confused about the
location, which was buried deep in the article.

Regarding David Levy's item last week about Nicholas Lowick, author
of "Coinage and History of the Islamic World", Bob Leonard offers
this minor correction: "Nicholas Lowick died in 1986."

Regarding our Featured Web Site on New Jersey Paper Money Currency
1709-1786, David Gladfelter writes: "The original article was published
by the New Jersey Historical Society in the Proceedings for 1923, and
is cited as a bibliographical reference by Eric Newman in Early Paper
Money of America, 4th edition."

Dave Bowers writes: "If you are a New York Times crossword puzzle fan,
and are a numismatist with even a passing knowledge of commemoratives,
you’ll instantly score on one of the longer words for which a clue is
given in the November 5th version!"   [Sorry I missed getting this
into last week's issue. -Editor]

Tom DeLorey writes: "Speaking of electroforming, if you electroplate
a coin or medallion with gold, is it gilty as charged?"


Roger Burdette writes: "I am searching for a photo of Farran Zerbe
at his 1915 San Francisco Pan Pacific International Exhibition Coin
and Medals Department booth, or just a photo of the booth. If anyone
has such a photo, please contact me at"


According to a November 11 Reuters article, "A mystery substance that
caused some euro banknotes in Germany to fall to pieces may be linked
to the party drug crystal speed, Der Spiegel magazine reported on
Saturday, quoting regional police. Users of crystal speed inhale it
through the nose using rolled-up banknotes and chemists think
impurities such as sulphates, mingled with sweat, could have created
an acid that ate away at the notes, the magazine quoted police as

Around 1,500 banknotes worth between 5 euros and 100 euros
($6.44-$129) crumbled shortly after being withdrawn from cash
machines, the Bundesbank said earlier this month."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

Last week's E-Sylum item:


In reference to the following item on eco-friendly ink, Howard
Daniel writes: "I am wondering if this will cause any problems
for collectors!"

"In a push to go green, a Seattle-based large-scale printing shop
has become the first in the country to try out a new type of
eco-friendly corn-based ink.  The Big Print signed on as the only
test site for a new, biodegradable corn-based ink made with ethyl

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Dick Johnson writes: "Tim Iacono writes a column on precious metals
for the internet site Seeking Alpha. His November 9th column was
titled "Who's Minding the Mint?" He offers some strong comments on
the U.S. Mint's current TV advertisement and the cost of zinc as a
coinage metal -- both pertinent points.

I, too, have seen the Mint's TV ad. While I did not fall for the
seductive female voice (which Tim likens to Mary Alice Young, the
housewife who died on the first episode of "Desperate Housewives"),
I did object to the lines which stated the U.S. Mint products are
"polished, radiant, irresistible." I know it is a technical point
but the coins are not POLISHED. We assume they are talking about
proof coins. The DIES are polished for proof surface, not the coins.

"Polished" is a taboo word in modern numismatics when applied to U.S.
Mint's coins. It implies the coins were polished by some unsavory
character to create a "whizzed" coin, a false proof -- one of the
most despicable acts in numismatics, to make a coin what it isn't.

As an avid coin collector I also take umbrage at the sandal-wearing
boob looking at his coins in the back yard unaware of the events
around him. Thus I object to both the misstatement of fact and this
atrocious portrayal of what is supposed to be a typical coin collector.

Tim notes the awkward sights and sounds in this 15 second TV spot.
He attributes this to the Mint's ad agency. I say "Shame" on both
the Mint and its agency.

Do not go to the next E-Sylum item until you click on and read this
column (it is that important)."

To read "Who's Minding the Mint?", see: Full Story


According to the Rapid City Journal, "Edmund C. Moy will experience
three firsts on Monday. It will be his first trip to South Dakota and
his first visit to Mount Rushmore National Memorial. It will also be
Moy’s first state-quarter launch ceremony. He was sworn in as director
of the U.S. Mint on Sept. 5.

“I think I hit the jackpot as a mint director — my first 50-state
quarter launch, and I get to do it at Mount Rushmore. It’s really
an honor for me to be doing this particular coin at this time,” he said.

The ceremony, open to the public, will be 10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 13,
in the Mount Rushmore amphitheater. If the weather is bad, the event
will be moved to the Central High School gym in Rapid City."

"At the ceremony, the Mount Rushmore History association will be
selling commemorative packages featuring two uncirculated coins.
Great Western Bank, chosen as the official bank for the South Dakota
quarter launch, will sell $10 rolls of the new quarters and give away
1,000 vouchers for two-coin sets available at its St. Joseph Street

On the eve of the event, Moy will appear Sunday at the Dahl Arts
Center, 713 Seventh St., at a forum for coin collectors and anyone
else interested in coins. It is from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Moy and
Gloria Eskridge, associate director for sales and marketing at the
U.S. Mint, will host the forum."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

To read a related article from the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, see:
Full Story


A November 8 article in the Baltimore Sun interviews Tony Terranova
and other top dealers about the recent Stack's sale of American Bank
Note Co. printing plates:

"Tony Terranova, a professional coin collector from New York City,
will have a chance to diversify his collection when more than 100
hand-engraved steel plates go on the auction block today.

The plates belonged to the American Bank Note Co. and were used to
print stock certificates, bank notes and engravings of presidents.
Private and professional collectors began gathering at the Pier 5
Hotel at the Inner Harbor yesterday for the two-day auction."

"Usually, coins are Terranova's primary interest, but he is after
the plates this time. "They're very beautiful," he said. "It's a
beautiful example of crafting art." The pricier plates are expected
to sell for $6,000 apiece, said Bruce Hagan, an American currency
specialist who works for Stack's Rarities LLC, the company running
the auction."

"Christine Karstedt, president of Stack's, said the plates have
become popular auction items. Many of the plates, including one from
Valley Bank of Maryland, in Hagerstown, hold a great deal of regional
significance, which draws collectors of all backgrounds, she said."

"I like allegorical visages of Miss Liberty," Terranova said.
"America personifies Miss Liberty as a woman. And that's what I
like. But there is a whole section of people that want those currency
plates. ... It's a ground-floor opportunity. They're going to be
selling these things for the next five, six years.""

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


According to an article in the November 2006 Maine Antiques Digest,
"In spite of a strong medals and tokens auction on July 15, Presidential
Coin and Antique Company president H. Joseph Levine said he still
thinks the medals market is way undervalued.

"Some of these medals, there were only one hundred struck. If they
were coins, they'd bring one hundred thousand dollars. As medals,
some sell for one thousand dollars or less. Our top hard times store
token in this sale is one of only two known. It brought twenty-six
thousand four hundred fifty dollars [includes buyer's premium], a
good price, but not up to coin standards. One of two known in a coin
would be in the millions."

An example is the 1861 South Carolina medal awarded to Brigadier
General Nathan George Evans. It is one of four known (and one of the
four is only rumored to exist) and brought $4370."

[The article also discusses the two major series of American art
medals, the Circle of Friends of the Medallion series and the Society
of Medalists series.  The article also touches on the military and
naval medals issued by the United States Mint, mostly for exploits
in the War of 1812. -Editor]

"At this sale, Scarborough, Maine, dealer (and medals collector)
Marvin Sadik, formerly director of the National Portrait Gallery
in Washington, D.C., said he bought four historical military medals
(War of 1812) and would give three to the gallery. "I'm giving a
Major General Edmund Gaines [$471.50], a Major General Eleazar W.
Ripley [$759 and top military medal price], and a Governor Isaac
Shelby [$345]. I'm giving them because I think they are the best
likenesses around. The Portrait Gallery takes them only reluctantly.
They think the medals are too small," he said."

"Presidential's catalogs contain a wealth of information. They are
available by subscription at $10 for three from Presidential Coin &
Antique Co., PO Box 277, Clifton, VA 20124, phone (571) 321-2121,
e-mail ."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Alan V. Weinberg writes: "For this week's Baltimore Norweb sale,
I had anticipated the same uneven response seen in the Ford Indian
Peace Medal sale in New York City on November 17.

In that sale, there were prices all over the map such as silly-high
prices like $16K hammer for a VF Grant silver Indian Peace Medal and
$5,500 hammer for the 1911 EK Elder silver novelty peace medal. And
silly-low prices like $22K hammer for the finest known Geo III Lion
& Wolf peace medal (congrats to a New Jersey E-Sylum reader) and
$30K hammer for the 2nd VF Geo II Quaker Duffield medal (superior
to LaRiviere's at $53K in 2001).

The factors that contributed to the mixed success of the Ford IPM
sale should apply to Norweb, no? Well, NO!

The Norweb lot viewing was crowded, the auction room atmosphere
electric with a strong attendance from collectors and dealers and
a very active phone bank manned competitively by Larry Stack &
John Kraljevich, among others.  Those two represented some very
strong phone competitors.

Norweb prices were literally jaw-dropping, making many Ford
Washingtonia prices of May 2004 seriously obsolete.

American medals have set three successively higher records in
the past three weeks - first, the $165K hammer for Ford's 4"
Thomas Jefferson shell IPM, and now Norweb's 1889 Centennial of
George Washington's Inauguration St Gaudens gold medal, anticipated
to bring perhaps $75K, sold at an astonishing $340K hammer (plus 15%)
to phone bidder # 572, reportedly a New York collector who specializes
in St. Gaudens and owns seven ULTRA hi-relief $20's, with Jeff Garrett,
Tony Terranova and Larry Hanks in the running. Applause. But this new
U.S. medallic record didn't last for long. The Zachary Taylor
Congressional gold medal hammered for $400K plus 15% - totaling
(gasp)  $460,000 - to a phone bidder ably handled by John Kraljevich
for a world American medal record. Dave Bowers spoke from the podium
introducing the medal. Both he and I had anticipated $250K but there
were eight hands up at that level!

The no-longer really rare (quite an number have come on the auction
block in the past few yrs) 1783 CCAUS Baker 57 silver George Washington
medal sold for an astonishing $74,750 to Whitman's Anderson Bros. -
Ford's two had sold for $19.5K and $35.6K total just a few years ago,
Norweb's being equal to the lesser Ford specimen.  Norweb's 1792 Roman
Head pattern sold for $132,250 total to dealer John Gervasoni where
Ford's Unc (with a spot) sold for $32.2K in 2004. Norweb's Unc slabbed
MS-64 1792 copper pattern "Getz" sold for $299K to Tony Terrranova
whereas a similarly slabbed Ford Getz 1792 copper v. recently
resold at auction by ANR for a bit over $100K.

Norweb's copper 1792 Hancock pattern reached an astonishing $253K
to dealer Stu Levine - Ford's silver had sold for $115K in 2004.
And the Norweb George Washington gold skull & crossbones, 1 of 2
known and the earliest (1882) documented Norweb Family numismatic
possession, sold for $253K to  Stu Levine.

Norweb's 1818 GW silver Chowder Club sold at $48.3K  where a
markedly superior Ford Chowder Club in 2004 sold for only $12.65K
in 2004. Somebody explain this to me! And there were downright silly
results like a 20th Century matte finish GW Baker 91 mint gold
restrike for $4,830!

Finally, perhaps the most intriguing Norweb item - a copper "1794"
GW "dollar" in the fashion of a legit 1794 silver dollar,
optimistically anticipated to bring  $10K as a "cute toy" - sold
with considerable floor bidding for a mind-numbing $46K - for a
handmade fantasy!.

A comment about the Baltimore coin show following the Norweb auction:
I've noticed this at previous Baltimore shows but as I entered the
bourse room Friday and Saturday morning I noticed the huge volume
of public attendance by collectors. I mean the show was busy! The
aisles were crowded and collectors were there buying and selling.
And, to boot, the bourse has expanded to the size of a FUN or ANA
so it's not as if the attending crowd was in a small hall. Baltimore
is clearly now the 3rd largest & busiest numismatic event in the U.S.
I was thinking this hobby of ours has a good future!"


Speaking of the health of the hobby, today's issue of the Asbury
Park Press profiles New Jersey numismatist Jim Majoros and his
efforts with young numismatists:

"To Jim Majoros, coin collecting isn't just about the money. For
more than a decade, the Toms River resident has made it his mission
to bolster the ranks of the Ocean County Coin Club by introducing
hundreds of youngsters to the hobby.

"I always say if we can get one of 100 kids to continue in the hobby,
that's a good percentage," he said. "Hopefully the seed is planted,
and they might come back to us when they get older."

"After spending 40 years in the Air Force and Air National Guard,
Majoros retired in 1988. The last five years before his retirement
he served as state executive officer for the Air National Guard."

"Majoros said he became interested in coin collecting after his
uncle brought home coins he received while working at Monmouth
Park Racetrack in Oceanport."

"It's a rewarding hobby," Majoros said. "A great bunch of people
are involved, and there is camaraderie among them. Coin collecting
is a great family activity."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


The Hamilton Spectator of Hamilton, Ontario published a very
interesting piece on November 6th about a British World War I
medallion nicknamed "the Dead Man's Penny".

"The plaque, known as a dead man's penny, is propped up among
military medals and black and white photos. But unlike the other
mementoes, which represent bravery and honour, the heavy plaque
-- made from gun metal -- represents loss.

It was even seen by some as an insult.

Evans' grandmother got the coaster-sized medal from the British
government when her husband was killed during the First World War.
Evans' grandfather was coming home to visit his family in December
1916 when the ship he was on was torpedoed by the Germans, killing
200 on board.

The plaque was meant as a token of gratitude for the sacrifice made
by Evans' grandmother."

"But the plaques weren't appreciated by everyone because they
resembled a British penny.

"It made it seem as though the British government saw a soldier's
life as only worth a penny," Evans said.

Some families even returned the plaques to the king."

Evans only learned about the plaque's history recently when another
one was found stuck to the face of a tombstone at the Hamilton
Cemetery. It was found by the cemetery's tour guide, Robin McKee,
who was thrilled because he knew how rare they were."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

Dick Johnson writes: "This is not a rare item. It is common in the
British Empire as one was made for every military person who died
in World War I. It is properly called a medallion even though it
is uniface. It was made in 1919 and I cataloged it as "War Dead
Memorial Medallion" in my auction sales but it may be called by
other names in England.

I handled more than a dozen of them when I was an active medal
dealer. They are 4 3/4-inch (12cm) and cast bronze. Interesting,
they used an "insert die" to add the name in raised lettering of
the military person who died in service.

The insert die technology has been a subject among token and
medal collectors here in the colonies recently. David Bowers had
an article on the front page of Sept 28, 2006 Coin World and
called this technology a "modular die." Token dealer Dick Grinolds
replied October 2 that they were called "compound dies" or "slip
dies" among token collectors. I wrote an editorial in the October
23, 2006 Coin World stating these terms were incorrect. Medal
manufacturers call this technology "insert dies" as an individual
die (that fits in a cavity in the base die) has to be made for
every piece made to effect the raised lettering of the names.
(This is the same technology used for the Carnegie Hero Medals,
subject of an article in the October 2006 Numismatist, p 50-53.)
[Here again, the British may have yet another name for this
technology; perhaps our English readers can enlighten us.]

The medallions display Britannia with trident offering a wreath
with the British lion at her feet. The piece was designed by
British sculptor E. Carter Preston. There are different numbers
appearing on the pieces - I assumed this identified the mold
number or the foundry which cast the piece.

They were indeed distributed to the families of the war dead
(908,371 died in WWI) who undoubtedly kept these in their family
until perhaps the third or later generation when they came on
the market in increasing numbers. It was a $20-25 item two
decades ago."


According for a November 11 article in the Belfast Telegraph,
"The owner of the only Victoria Cross awarded to an Ulsterman in
WW2 has paid tribute to the hero to whom it was awarded.

The rare medal of courage was awarded to Leading Seaman James
Magennis for bravery in a submarine mission towards the end of
the WW2.

Conservative Party deputy chairman Lord Michael Ashcroft bought
the medal as the first part of his coveted collection of honours.
In the past 20 years, he has collected 145 of the rare medals."

"It is understood the medal was sold by Magennis to Belfast
dealer Joe Kavanagh for £75 in the 1950s when needed the cash.

It was later returned to him but, years later, the family put
it up for auction."

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Lord Ashcroft ... said:
"It started as a lifelong fascination. I was in awe of people who
had performed heroic acts in the face of terrifying threats. What
motivated them? Was most people's bravery premeditated or a spur
of the moment response to the heat of battle? Then I discovered
that VCs sometimes come up for sale."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


A November 6th article in the New Zealand Herald describes the
recent discovery of a rare error coin:  "It's not often paying
$2170 for a little 20c coin is considered a bargain - except when
it's one of about 15 of its kind in the world.

Peter Eccles, owner of the Downtown Coin Centre, said the 20c
piece was minted on to the shape of a Hong Kong $2 coin by mistake
in 1975, making it one of the rarest New Zealand coins in existence.

The coin was struck when the Royal Mint was making five million
20c coins for New Zealand before it went on to strike 60 million
of Hong Kong's new $2 coin, introduced that year.

It has the face of the New Zealand coin but the shape and
distinctive scalloped edges of the Hong Kong one."

"The 1935 Waitangi Crown is NZ's most famous coin, Mr Eccles

"They are worth about $6000 now. But this [$2170] would be a
record price for a decimal coin that was introduced for
circulation, rather than being a special collector's coin.

"So for a 20c coin, that is about 10,000 times its face value.
But I'd say there are maybe only 10 to 15 of them around."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


While looking for other things I serendipitously stumbled across
a numismatic reference to Horace Walpole (coiner of the word
"serendipity"!).  An item about Walpole on the Twickenham Museum
web site indicates that he adapted one of his most celebrated
passages from Alexander Pope’s 1720 "Epistle To Mr Addison,
occasioned by his Dialogues on Medals."

"Horace Walpole wrote to his cousin Henry Conway on 8 June 1747,
shortly after he had taken possession of Strawberry Hill still
known then as ’Chopped Straw Hall’. He described the place and
the stream which ran through it in some detail as:

A small Euphrates through the piece is rold
And little finches wave their wings in gold.

(Note: Sometimes written as of gold when quoted by later writers.)

This romantic description, with its arcadian undertones, is often
taken as an example of Walpole’s facility for elegant description.
It is actually no more than an example of his tendency to plagiarise.
Walpole did not write the lines himself: they were adapted from
Alexander Pope’s Epistle To Mr Addison, occasioned by his Dialogues
on Medals and first published in 1720. This poem is about the images
of the departed Roman empire as depicted on ancient medals and coins:

Con vinc’d, she now contracts her vast design
And all her triumphs shrink into a coin:

The lines used by Walpole were extracted from a passage commemorating
the conquests of various Caesars in the region of the Rhine, the
Nile and the Euphrates Rivers:

The Medal, faithful to its charge of fame,
Thro' climes and ages bears each form and name:

Although set in the letter in a fashion suggesting that they
were a quotation, Walpole did not acknowledge that the lines
were Pope’s, on a totally different subject. He needed, too,
to alter what Pope had written, which was:

A small Euphrates through the piece is roll’d
And little Eagles wave their wings in gold.

without appreciating, or possibly caring, that Pope was
describing military victories struck (roll’d) on a gold coin
(piece), rather than a piece of land with its bird-life. Walpole
then had to convert imperial Roman eagles into finches.

Later in the same letter Walpole wrote that Pope's ghost is just
now skimming under the window by a most poetical moonlight.” Well
he might!"

To read the complete web page, see: Full Story


Tom DeLorey writes: "On numismatic reproductions, let me present
the following letter sent to me by Robert Bashlow back in 1976 to
illustrate how the making of reproductions can get out of hand. He
had visited the Coin World offices that Summer, and we had discussed
the Confederate Cent restrikes. I just found this while looking
for something else.

Dear Tom:

I can offer the following Confederate cent restrike items:

1. Large, heavy copper ingot into which the obv. & rev. dies were
stamped. Out of the original issue of 100 numbered ingot (reverse
stamped with the Aug. C. Frank name and emblem) I have 2 left --
nos. 34 and 99. They have minor spotting and no. 34 has some green
corrosion on the side, which doesn't affect the obverse. Price
is $85 each.

2. Set of trialpieces in original plastic holders. Only 50 pieces
of each were struck. Red fibre, tin, zinc, lead, nickel-silver and
aluminum. One set of 6 pcs.:  $240.

3. Experimental piece struck in 90-10 alloy. (The common "bronze"
pieces were 95-5 and the "goldine" 85-15.) I believe that no more
than 2 or 3 were ever made. This is the only one I have. Price: $75.

4. Experimental piece in single thickness, 90-10. I first intended
to strike the regular production run at standard 1 cent thickness
(approximately 50 thousandths of an inch). Due to fear that the
Secret Service would seize the restrikes under the statutes
forbidding "likenesses" of US coins to be passed, I decided to
strike the production run on planchets 100/1000 inch thick. I have
5 pcs. in single thickness in 90-10 alloy, priced at $75 each. I
have one piece in single thickness in silver (I think only 2 or
3 were struck), priced at $150.00.

5. Hub trialpieces, uniface. 50 obverses and 50 reverses were
struck in bronze, and 50 and 50 in goldine, making a total of
200 pcs. I have a set of 4 diff. for $160.00.  (= $40 per coin.)

Let me know if any of the above are interesting.

Yours sincerely,


Robert Bashlow"


New subscriber Russ Gordon of South Orange, NJ writes: "I was born
and raised in South Africa, and in the late 80’s, my wife and I chose
to emigrate to the USA. Up until that point, I’d not yet been infected
by “Numismonia”. I had, however dabbled a little in Kruger Rands and
South Africa Long Proof Sets, more from a need to counter rampant
inflation in South Africa than from a numismatic standpoint.

We settled in Massachusetts, and were introduced to the concept of
“Sunday Flea Markets” by a neighbor. There were many coin dealers
present at this particular Flea Market, and what immediately grabbed
my attention and made the penny drop (excuse the pun), was the ability
to buy a piece of history and hold it in the palm of my hand for a
very moderate price.

I developed an immediate, smoldering and lasting love affair with
Flying Eagles and Indian Head Cents, a love affair which prevails
to this day. Some might even call it an obsession, but I am blessed
with a very understanding wife! As my life has progressed, so has
the size and quality of my accumulation, which is still limited to
mainly Flying Eagles and Indian Head Cents.

I have always prescribed to the belief that one should “read the
book before buying the coin”. One of the many books I have bought
and read is Rick Snow’s Red Book, “A Guide Book of Flying Eagle and
Indian Head Cents”. On page x of the introduction to this book,
Rick makes references David Bowers' book, “The Buyer’s and Enthusiasts
Guide to Flying Eagle and Indian Cents”. In order to quench my thirst,
and to drink from the fountain of knowledge, what better resource
could there be? Try as I might, I just cannot locate a copy of this
elusive book. Kind of like a search for the Holy Grail."

[I did a quick search of some of my usual online book haunts and
came up empty - I thought for sure I'd find several copies available
for sale - thousands of copies were printed and sold.   Perhaps these
just aren’t turning up in the secondary market yet.  If anyone can
help Russ locate a copy, please let us know.  -Editor]


Dick Johnson writes: "The invitation came from my former instructor
at a college course on genealogy. Now we see each other at a genealogy
club formed from members of his classes on the subject. He knew of my
interest in numismatics and I knew of his interest in the historical
society in his city of Middlebury Connecticut. He is also the town

Well, Middlebury is celebrating its bicentennial next year and of
course Bob Rafford is on the bicentennial committee. He invited me
to come speak before his committee on why they should issue a
bicentennial medal. I arrived early and sat in on the committee
meeting, hearing all the reports on their planned activities.

Here was a group of stoic New Englanders having fun with their
bicentennial celebrations. These ranged from a Winter Festival
next month – where the major discussion was whether or not to
rent a snowmaking machine – to a pageant on the history of the
city scheduled for next September, then wind up the festivities
for the actual October anniversary date.

I didn’t have a planned speech. When it was my turn to speak I
commented on the long heritage that New England towns and cities
have for issuing medals for their municipal anniversaries. I
mentioned these were widely collected by numismatists and that
there were even books on the subject, recalling the catalogs
compiled by Robert Heath. (He compiled one for each of the six
New England states with numerous revision editions.)

I guess I warmed up to my subject answering committee members
questions. Maybe I became passionate about the subject. Of course,
they asked questions about costs. I answered "I am not a salesman."
Whereby one lady committee member, commenting on my passion for
the subject, blurted out, "Well you should be!"

Previous to the meeting I had learned that one of their members
was a coin collector and his family had lived on their "farm" for
the two hundred years they were celebrating. "Fenn’s Pond" is a
Middlebury landmark on that property. I had asked him for a picture.

So I left the meeting with the trademark design they had created
for their celebratory year and a picture of Fenn’s Pond. I’ll turn
these over to one of the medalmakers in the area. So if you see a
notice in the numismatic press of a bicentennial medal from
Middlebury Connecticut next year you will know that it came from
a group that was having a lot of fun celebrating their city's
bicentennial. It may even show the pond on the family farm of a
prominent local coin collector. Hey, people in New England
celebrate things like that!"


According to a November 11 Associated Press report, "An absentee
ballot was mailed with what may have been a rare stamp worth as
much as $200,000 -- the famous Inverted Jenny -- but the envelope
is in a box that by law can't be opened.

Broward County Commissioner John Rodstrom discovered the stamp
while reviewing absentee ballots. There was no name on the envelope,
so the vote didn't count.

What looked like a small stamp collection on one envelope caught
Rodstrom's eye about 8 p.m. Tuesday. At least one was from 1936,
Rodstrom said. Then he noticed one had an upside-down World War
I-era airplane -- the hallmark of an Inverted Jenny."

"Elections officials will retain the ballot for 22 months, Jenny
Nash, a spokeswoman for the Florida secretary of state's office,
told The Associated Press. After that, any action is up to the
county elections supervisor."

The 24-cent Jenny stamps were printed in 1918. Sheets were run
through presses twice to process all the colors and on one pass,
four went through backward. Inspectors caught the errors on three
sheets and destroyed them, but somehow, a sheet of 100 stamps got
through. Stamp collectors have spent 88 years trying to find them all."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Gary Dunaier writes: "The "Kicking Wife's Protest" story reminded me
of the tale of a poor soul cursed with a wife who carried out her
disapproval of his stamp collecting to an extreme. As related by
the legendary stamp dealer Herman Herst, Jr., it went something like

>>>>> quoted material begins here
The customer was a doctor in Brooklyn. He needed a used single of
[a very rare and expensive stamp] and asked me to send him one on
approval. Since he was a good buyer over the years, always paying
promptly and never complaining, I did not hesitate to submit one.

Back it came, promptly, torn in half, with a brief note from his

"My husband has received strict orders from me. He is not going
to buy any more stamps. I hope this teaches you a lesson."

Fortunately, his original letter had an office telephone number
on it, and I was not long in calling him on the phone.

He thought that I was calling for not having sent the stamp.
He said:

"My wife said that if she saw any more letters from stamp dealers
she would open them and tear any stamps in the letter in half.
I did not think she meant it."

He continued, "It has taught me a lesson. I am going to take a
Post Office Box. I will give you the address as soon as I have it."

He did not stop buying stamps, and was decent enough to pay for
the torn stamp. I asked if I might have it to keep as a souvenir
of the stupid act of a wife jealous of her husband's hobby.

It does not happen often that one spouse denies the other the
pleasure of a hobby. But when that couple finally breaks up,
her forcing him to sneak additions to his collection via a Post
Office Box will have been the start of it all. Happily, few of
us are that dumb.
>>>>> end of quoted material


This week's featured web site is on the coins and banknotes of Vietnam and
French Indochina

Featured Web Site

  Wayne Homren
  Numismatic Bibliomania Society 

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

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