The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 9, Number 51, December 17, 2006:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Ray Murphy, David E. Schenkman, Bill
Nyberg, Arnold Miniman, John Dannreuther, James Wiles and David Yoon.
Welcome aboard!  We now have 1,019 subscribers.

Happy Birthday to my eldest son Christopher, who turns eight tomorrow.
We worked on adding to his statehood quarter books last weekend but I
couldn't bribe him into helping me with an E-Sylum review of The
Official Red Book of Washington and State Quarters.  He and his brother
Tyler are big readers, but it'll be a while before I can pull a Bill
Keane and let one of my kids take over my editorial duties for a day.

All three of my kids have a lot to learn about numismatics, but they
have picked up a few things from their old man along the way.  Other
concepts come naturally, but need a little work.  When my wife found
the right half of a dollar bill in six-year-old Tyler's pocket this
week, she asked where the rest of it was.  He said he wanted to give
his friend at school half of his dollar, so he tore it in two and gave
the left half away.

Cutting a Spanish pillar dollar into pieces of eight came just as
naturally to people centuries ago, but there is a slight difference
between paper and silver.  Just ask two-year-old Hannah.  While playing
today I said "Here's my money," handing her a play dollar and coin.
Pointing to the paper she said "that's a dollar."  Pointing to the
coin she said, "THIS is MONEY!"

This week's issue brings news of a new editor for the NBS print journal,
The Asylum, and word of new books on the Denver Mint and world coinage.
Reviewed in some detail is the upcoming Holabird-Kagin Americana fixed
price list of precious metal ingots and specimens.  In other precious-
metal news related to numismatics, the U.S. Mint bans coin melting and
Korea unveils new, cheaper-to-manufacture coins made of copper-coated

In research news, David Gladfelter discusses Labor Exchange notes of
the Great Depression, Rich Jewell and Roger Burdette correct a
misstatement about the creator of the ANS Saltus medal, and Bob
Rightmire provides an update on his Guttag Brothers information quest.

What do Joe DiMaggio, B.B. King, William Safire and Natan Sharansky
have in common?  And what interesting numismatic story is to be found
in a 1962 issue of Adventures in Radioisotope Research?  Read on to
find out. Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Pete Smith, President of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS),
announced today that the NBS board of trustees has ratified the
appointment of David Yoon, of New York City, as the editor of The
Asylum, the Society’s official print journal.  Yoon, whose appointment
is effective January 1, 2007, replaces E. Tomlinson Fort, of Pittsburgh,
who resigned in order to devote his full energies to his graduate

Yoon is an active field archaeologist, currently an assistant director
of a medieval excavation in France and a co-director of a regional
archaeological project in Italy.  He has extensive experience as an
editor, including non-numismatic materials such as medical and computer
books as well as numismatic work. In particular, he has done editing,
design, typesetting, and production work for the American Numismatic
Society, on their scholarly journal The American Journal of
Numismatics and several books.

Pete Smith said “The NBS is both delighted and honored to have secured
the services of David Yoon as editor of our 27 year-old print journal,
The Asylum.  David is widely admired as one of the most knowledgeable
and insightful editors in all of numismatics.  He will take our award-
winning journal to new heights of quality and accessibility.”  Yoon
commented, “I’m pleased to be working with the NBS, and I hope to be
able to build on the excellent work of the past editors of The Asylum.”

Smith said that the NBS welcomes contributions to The Asylum from members
and non-members alike, so long as they pertain to numismatic books,
journals, catalogues, and fixed price literature.  Submissions should
be sent to David Yoon electronically at

[For those who are new to The E-Sylum, what you're reading is the weekly
ELECTRONIC newsletter of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.  The Asylum
is our quarterly PRINT journal.  The Asylum is sent only to members of
the society; The E-Sylum is free to all.  While The E-Sylum is great for
short news items, research requests, commentary, quiz questions and the
like, The Asylum is the place for longer, fully researched, edited and
annotated articles.  Only NBS members are entitled to this great journal,
but the good news is the price of membership is only $15 per year to U.S.
addresses ($20 elsewhere).

There is a membership application available on the NBS
web site at this address:
NBS Membership Application

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.  For more information,
write to David M. Sundman, Secretary/Treasurer at   -Editor]


'The Denver Mint: 100 Years of Gangsters, Gold, and Ghosts' by Lisa Ray
Turner and Kimberly Field has recently been published by Mapletree
Publishing Company, Denver, CO.  From the book's web page:

"This is the most comprehensive book ever published about the Denver
Mint. It takes readers from the days when gold dust was legal tender
in the dusty frontier town of Denver to the present when the Mint is
a world-class facility that makes most of our coins. History buffs will
love the book’s historical highlights while casual readers will enjoy
seeing how the cultural events and trends influenced money and life at
the Mint.

"The book provides a unique, behind-the-scenes look at the Denver
Mint — entertaining stories of colorful characters, controversial coins,
and the creative artists behind the nation’s coinage. It covers
everything from workday life at the Mint to tales of gangsters and
dramatic gold transfers."

The 192-page illustrated softcover book is available from the
publisher for $18.95 postpaid.  For more information, see:


Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing writes: "Money of the World will
be the largest Whitman book of recent years to focus on ancient and
world coins. Personally, as a world coin collector, I found it a lot
of fun to work on. The coin images that illustrate the book are
amazing!"  Dennis forwarded a copy of the press release for the
new book:

"Whitman Publishing will release a book in 2007 that illustrates
how coins were shaped by the development of Western Civilization—
and how they sometimes helped shape it in turn. 'Money of the World:
Coins That Made History' (320 pgs, hardcover, color; $49.95) will
debut in January at the New York International Numismatic Convention
and will be available nationwide in February.

“The inspiration for this book began more than 40 years ago,” said
coeditor Ira Goldberg, of Ira and Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles.
“I was fascinated by the relationship of coinage to money and the
historical importance of the role coins played.”

When a client offered Ira and his cousin Larry Goldberg the chance
to build an unprecedented world-coin collection, they took on the
project with gusto. “For us as coin dealers,” said Larry, “this was
both a dream come true and an unparalleled adventure.”

The Millennia Collection, illustrated throughout the book, tells
the history of Western Civilization through significant coins of the
realm. Each coin had to meet certain criteria before it could be
added to the collection:

1. It must have been struck for commerce
  (not as a pattern or commemorative).
2. It had to capture both the beauty and the art of the period.
3. It had to be the largest circulating size or denomination;
   therefore, dollars, talers, and gold are frequently showcased.
4. It had to be of superb quality, not just “the best you can get.”
5. Above all, the coin had to have a story to tell."

[The book's editors are Ira and Larry Goldberg.  The authors are
Richard G. Doty, senior curator of numismatics at the Smithsonian
Institution, Robert Wilson Hoge, a curator at the American Numismatic
Society in New York, Ana Lonngi de Vagi, a researcher of Latin
American history and coinage, Bruce Lorich, Michael J. Shubin and
David L. Vagi.  -Editor]


As noted last week, Carlos Jara's and Alan Luedeking's latest book,
"The Early Coinage of the Mint of Santiago de Chile: 1749-1772" has
been published and is ready to ship.

Alan Luedeking writes: "To order the book, contact me at
I will fill orders for delivery in the USA and Carlos (
will ship to Europe, Latin America and the rest of the world."

To read the complete review, see:


Stack's and American Numismatic Rarities aren’t the only numismatic
firms merging: "Kagin’s, Inc. and Holabird Americana have combined
forces into a new venture called Holabird-Kagin Americana, a division
of Kagin’s, Inc. The two biggest entities in “collecting the West”
join forces to bring a new level of education and opportunity to the
collecting field... The result of this merger will include a series
of fixed price catalogs focusing on Western Americana specimens of
high rarity, quality and variety, with unparalleled descriptions
drawn from the research and knowledge of Dr. Kagin and Mr. Holabird."

"Holabird states, “the new venture will allow me to concentrate on
the acquisition and sales of great Western Americana rarities, as
well as continue to bring new published works to the marketplace.”

"Currently, Holabird has four books due for publication within the
next year, including what is expected to be the primary reference
book on ingots."

The above text is taken from the new firm's first fixed-price catalog,
which is due to be posted online next week.  I was fortunate to have
an opportunity to review advance copies of several pages, and every
numismatist with an interest in the American West and gold bars and
ingots in particular should take notice.

The catalog consists of "the Robert Bass Collection of precious metal
ingots and western assayer receipts as well as specimens put together
by A.M. Kagin several decades ago for the Kagin Reference Collection."

"Many of the items presented here (several for the first time ever
at a fixed price) are unique. Others, while collectable, remain
controversial and deserve more research and are so noted in our
listing. In all cases we have endeavored to present all pertinent
information- controversial or not – about the origin of the ingots
based not on tradition or circumstantial evidence, but on the actual
science and empirical data."

The catalog opens with a selection of U.S. Assay Office & U.S. Branch
Mint Ingots from New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco.  The
catalog acknowledges that "Precious Metal ingots have been made at
the US Branch Mint and Assay Offices since their inception. The only
definitively pre-1900 Mint or Assay Office ingots that exist in the
knowledge of the author are from the Denver Branch Mint, held in an
institutional collection dated 1865. Most of the ingots seen at coin
shows are products of twentieth century collecting. Most are silver
and post-WWII."

The remainder of the catalog is organized by geographic area: Arizona,
California, Colorado, Dakota, Idaho, Mexico, Montana, Nevada and New
Mexico.  For researchers and ephemera collectors, the final section
features Assay Certificates.

A number of gold and silver ingots of the Thorne Mining & Refining
Company are pictured in the Arizona section.  Cataloger Holabird
writes that "the Thorne pieces, which are not dated, are a product
of the post-1964 silver craze. They were most probably made for sale
into the bullion markets, though most are silver. They have remained
very collectible, however, primarily because they are an artistic

A number of presentation ingots are pictured and described, including
one from the Colorado-Philadelphia Reduction Company, which "was
presented to one of the CPRC Board members upon the opening of the
reduction works in 1896. J. A. Hayes, whose name is borne upon the
ingot in fancy engraved fashion of the period was the president of
the First National Bank in Colorado Springs and one of the key
investors in the Company."

The Assay Certificate section is led by a Gold Bullion receipt for
the Branch Mint of the United States at Charlotte, North Carolina,
June 27, 1840.  Also included is a "Letter from the Mint of the United
States at Carson, Nevada, dated December, 1890. L. L. Elrod, cashier
for the Mint, writes to R. Keating, the superintendent of the Savage
Mining Co. that he has received 334 pounds of bullion. Letters from
the Mint are scarce."

The Holabird-Kagin Americana catalog is well illustrated with color
photos of nearly every item, accompanied by lengthy footnoted text
descriptions.  It's a real eye-opener. I've been in numismatics for
years, but have never seen most of the pieces illustrated here.   I
suspect the catalog will be in demand as a reference work, for it
contains much information to be found no where else.  To obtain a
copy, contact the firm at 888-8KAGINS for visit their web site at

Fred Holabird adds: "The most controversial piece that I rendered an
opinion on was the Eagle mining Company, which were created using a
copy the logo of the US Mint!

"I now have a photo of an 1892 New York Assay Office silver ingot,
unquestionably authentic, in an old collection. I didn't have this
at the time of the last writing. This is typical of what will come
in the ingot book to be published by Monaco in 2007."


This is not big news to E-Sylum readers - with the reports we've seen
about other countries banning coin melting, it was only a matter of
time before the U.S. would follow suit.  Once of the first reports hit
the Associated Press wire on Thursday and was published by the Chicago

"Given rising metal prices, the pennies and nickels in your pocket
are worth more melted down than their face value -- and that has the
government worried.

"U.S. Mint officials said Wednesday they were putting into place
rules prohibiting the melting down of 1-cent and 5-cent coins, with
a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
for people convicted of violating the rule.

"A nickel is 25 percent nickel and 75 percent copper. The metal in
one coin costs 6.99 cents for each 5-cent coin.

Modern pennies have 2.5 percent copper content with zinc making up
the rest of the coin. The current copper and zinc in a penny are
worth 1.12 cents."

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

The New York Times noted "The Mint is also testing dozens of cheaper
alternative metal compositions in the expectation that Congress will
mandate a change when it meets in the new year."

"In an interview yesterday, Edmund C. Moy, director of the Mint,
said officials were aware of only a few people asking if it was legal
to melt coins for their metal value. Without the ban, which takes
effect tomorrow, it would be.

The new ban also forbids exporting pennies or nickels in any significant
quantities. While the Mint is not concerned about tourists’ pocket change
or numismatic collections, it wants to block wholesale export of coins
to countries where recycling them for their metal content could be
economically viable."

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story


Dick Johnson writes: "On Thursday (December 14, 2006) the U.S. Mint
issued an interim ruling that U.S. coins cannot be melted. Try telling
that to the Secret Service. Such a ruling is, in my opinion,
unenforcable. "Look out, here come the penny police!"

"The coins in your possession are your property. You can do with them
what you wish -- toss them in glass jars, lay them on railroad tracks
for trains to run over, run them thru elongating machines, engrave
hobos on the reverse, even counterstamp with letters or your name.

"Or you can spend them. That is where the government has control over
coins in circulation -- not when they are your property -- they control
coins as commerce. If you put them back in circulation as U.S. money
the government can have some legal action over the coins at this point.

"If you melt the coins you cannot spend them. Thus this ruling has
little or no effect. It is a gray area.

"Mint officials are frightened of mass melting of cents and nickels.
And so they should be. Worse yet, is the possibility of a metal-starved
country like China buying up all the low denomination coins, shipping
them all to Asia to melting for the retrievable copper, zinc and nickel.

"This U.S. Mint ruling is like treating the symptoms instead of the
disease. The "disease" in this case is the rising economy of America.
And that is a good thing. Our economy is advancing so rapidly that our
two lowest coin denominations have little purchasing power that the cost
of their metal plus the cost of manufacture are greater than the economic
value of their denominations.

"I outlined the solution to this problem in The E-Sylum ten weeks back.
Don't melt anything. Keep all the coins circulating. Just revalue all
cents and nickels to 10-cent value. This can be done by Treasury
Secretary's wave of his pen! He should rule that on a designated
Saturday midnight all cents and nickels are revalued.  Problem solved.
See my E-Sylum article:


If you wish to see Thursday's news article from ABC
(quoting Dave Ganz) click on: Full Story "


While the U.S. frets over what to do about the cost of raw materials,
the Korea Times reports that "The Bank of Korea said Monday it would
issue new 10-won coins and distribute them to banks next Monday for
public circulation.

"The new coin will be smaller and lighter than the current one. It
weighs 1.2 grams and is 18 millimeters in diameter, while the current
one weighs 4.06 grams and is 22.86 millimeters in diameter.

"The bank has decided to manufacture the coin using copper-coated
aluminum, which is much cheaper and lighter than an alloy of copper
and zinc used for the current ones. The bank said it could save about
4 billion won in manufacturing costs annually by changing the material."

"South Korea is the first country to use copper-coated aluminum for
manufacturing coins. The bank said tests show the material is good
for smaller coins."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


David Klinger writes: "The last E-Sylum issue did not mention that
the traditional "LIBERTY" inscription is also missing from the design
of the new coins, and has not been moved to the edge design. The
Presidential $1 Coin Act (Public Law 109-145) states:
"Inscriptions of ‘Liberty’.—Notwithstanding the second sentence of
subsection (d)(1), because the use of a design bearing the likeness
of the Statue of Liberty on the reverse of the coins issued under
this subsection adequately conveys the concept of Liberty, the
inscription of ‘Liberty’ shall not appear on the coins."

The full text of Public Law 109-145 can be read here:
Public Law 109-145 "


The Presidential dollar coins have gotten most of the press coverage
recently, but the First Spouse coins are next in line.  The coins are
scheduled to be released in May 2007.  According to Numismatic News,
"The design of the pure gold 2007 First Spouse coins will be displayed
publicly for the first time at a presentation and reception Tuesday,
Dec. 19, at 10 a.m.

The event will be held at the National First Ladies Library in Canton,
Ohio. The event will be hosted by U.S. Mint Director Edmund C. Moy,
National First Ladies Library Founder Mary Regula, and Dolley Madison
re-enactor Lucinda Frailly."

"Four half-ounce gold First Spouse coins will be minted annually in
the order the spouses served in the White House. The collectible coins
will coincide with the release of the four circulating Presidential $1
coins that will be issued annually."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Last week Pete Smith posed this question about Du Simitiere’s
American Museum: "If a traveler wished to visit the location of
the American Museum today, what would they find occupying the site?"

Gar Travis writes: "I like these quizzes - some are rather challenging.
Du Simitiere’s American Museum was initially housed in his home until
1794, when he rented space at the American Philosophical Society
building.  In 1802 he moved the museum to the Pennsylvania State
House (Independence Hall) where it remained until 1829.  Source: )"

Yes, but what occupies the initial museum site today?  It could have
been a cheesesteak stand for all I know.  But Pete's answer is one
we all recognize.  Joel Orosz writes: "The answer to the question
is the Fourth (and current) United States Mint!

"One correction, though--although I would be proud to be an EAC
Board member, I am not now, nor have I ever been a member of that
Board.  I am a long-time Board member of the NBS."

[NBS Board member Joel Orosz is the author of “The Eagle That is
Forgotten.”, a great book about Pierre Eugene du Simitiere.


Regarding the recent item on Smythe’s offering of Labor Exchange
notes, David Gladfelter writes: "Labor exchange notes again came
into use during the Great Depression. To quote from Ralph Mitchell
and Neil Shafer's Depression Scrip catalog:

'As the unemployed had no money with which to buy anything, it became
the purpose of the various organizations of the unemployed to find a
way of providing necessities to members without having to use money.
Barter and trade were often resorted to, and some organizations issued
scrip as an exchange medium.

'In January of 1933, there were over 140 separate barter exchanges
in the United States, with over a million people making use of their
facilities through trade scrip. Members of these groups traded one
service for another or exchanged one commodity for another. When it
was not possible for one member to perform a service directly for
another, some means of credit for future exchange had to be given.

The formula was simple -- trade hours of work for value to be
received later.'

David continues: "One way of doing this was to issue scrip, sometimes
valued in units of time (as with the De Bernardi notes) and sometimes
in monetary equivalents although the scrip would state that it was a
credit unit and not money.

"Some scrip of the Milwaukee Unemployed Labor and Commodity Exchange
was saved by my father and has been in our family for over 70 years.
Shafer considers this organization to have been one of the most
successful of the unemployed labor groups.

"It should be noted that Thomas Edison once proposed that the Federal
Reserve system be operated as a commodity exchange. In the introduction
to his pamphlet entitled "A Proposed Amendment to the Federal Reserve
Banking System," Edison wrote, "Some time ago Mr. [Henry?] Ford asked
me to see if I could not invent some plan for helping the Farmer. I
have approached the matter in the same way that I do with a mechanical
or other invention, namely, get all the facts as far as possible, and
then see what can be done to solve the problem." Edison's proposal got
a cold reception from economists, so he abandoned it. The story is told
by David Hammes and Douglas Wills in the Winter 2004 issue of Financial
History magazine."


I haven't seen a copy of Financial History magazine yet, so I asked
David Gladfelter for more information.  He writes: "Financial History
magazine is put out by the Museum of American Finance, which was founded
by John Herzog (principal of R. M. Smythe Co.) and is about to move out
of a tiny space in the basement of 26 Broadway, New York, into the Morgan
building on Wall St. around the corner from the Stock Exchange. To be
a museum member costs something like $20. The museum's web site is"

[I checked the web site, and the membership fee is actually $40.
But back issues of the quarterly journal are available for $3 each.


Bob Leonard writes: "Your new search engine gives some very peculiar
results.  For example, Dick Johnson claims to have provided 500 articles
to the E-Sylum alone, yet if you search for "Dick Johnson" very few
appear.  I searched under my own name and found hardly any of my
contributions--yet if you use "Lesher" as a search term, one of the
omitted items comes up (with Dick Johnson too), that doesn't appear
under my own name.  I don't understand this.

[Hmmm.  I tried Bob's examples, and he's right.  I’m not sure what’s
going on.  Dick does have hundreds of articles in The E-Sylum archive,
but they’re not coming up here.   He is referred to both as "Robert
Leonard" and "Bob Leonard", but searching in each of these and summing
the total still falls short.  I'll look into this.  Thanks for the
feedback!  -Editor]

Bob adds: "Incidentally, the Harry Bass Research Foundation has redone
their web search, and screwed it up badly.  It used to be a very valuable
search engine (like what you are attempting), but now it is extremely
erratic, with either no hits or way too many to be useful.

"Again, as a test I searched for my own name (since I know what a
complete list is), and was surprised to see one of my COAC papers
missing.  Searching under the title revealed that part of the title
had been coded as the "author."  Right now I think that the best
numismatic reference search (except commercial stuff such as you
include) is the ANS web site."


The San Francisco Chronicle published an article last Sunday,
December 10 about recent ruling to make U.S. paper money more
usable by the blind:

"... former government officials and vending merchants say redesigning
the 37 million currency bills printed each day would be an unduly
expensive effort. They argue that the change would force the redesign
of hundreds of everyday objects, such as ATMs, cash registers and

"The ruling also is opposed by a larger blind advocacy group, the
National Federation of the Blind, which calls the American Council
of the Blind's effort "dangerously misguided" in suggesting that
blind people are incapable of identifying currency."

"A National Academy of Sciences study in 1995 found that of the 180
countries that issue paper currency, only the United States printed
all denominations of bills the same size. The study suggested the
Treasury Department could both prevent counterfeiting and assist
low-vision and blind Americans by enlarging fonts and varying the
bill sizes. Euros, for example, increase in length and height for
each value. When the U.S. bill underwent redesigns in 1996 and 2004,
numerals were enlarged so low-vision users could easily distinguish
the bills, Ferguson said. But the large numbers failed to assist
legally blind users..."

Ferguson said the bureau tested braille marks on bills, but
durability tests showed that they wore off quickly."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

On Tuesday the government filed an appeal of the judge's decision:
"Justice Department lawyers filed the appeal with the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on behalf of Treasury
Secretary Henry Paulson."

"Jeffrey Lovitky, an attorney for the council, said he planned to
petition the appeals court to reject the appeal until Robertson
makes a decision on what remedies the government should pursue. A
hearing to hear the government's recommendations is scheduled for
next month."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

National Public Radio did a piece on the story December 14th.  At
this web page you can find a link to a recording of the story, and
read a nice illustrated sidebar article about the features other
countries use on their banknotes to help the visually impaired.
Full Story


Rich Jewell writes: "In the November 27th Coin World article on
Brenner's Enduring Legacy by Nancy Oliver and Richard Kelly (page 82)
they show a photo of the Saltus Award and mention that Victor Brenner
won the prestigious award and he also designed the award. I'm no expert,
but I'm pretty certain that A. A. Weinman engraved and designed the
Saltus Award for the American Numismatic Society."

Roger Burdette writes: "That's correct. In my opinion, the figure is
possibly one of the best ever done for a medal by an American artist.
The reverse, Pegasus, is illustrated in a slightly different version
in my Renaissance of American Coinage 1916-1921 book."

[Roger also pointed out a page on the ANS web site describing the
creation of the Saltus award and medal. -Editor]

"In January 1914 the Council appointed Huntington and two other
Councillors, Henry Russell Drowne and Charles Dodd, to "work out
a plan for a competition for the design of the Saltus Medal...
by the end of 1918, they settled upon an original design by A.A.

To read more on the Saltus Medal Award, see: Full Story


Although the article doesn't seem to be available online (at least
not yet), there is a short profile of John Mercanti of the U.S. Mint
in the December 25, 2006 issue of the Fortune Investor's Guide 2007
(p152).  It includes a great photo of the prolific sculptor-engraver
at a work station in the Mint.

"I've been working here since 1974.  At that time I was an illustrator
but had never sculpted.  Since then I've designed 35 medals and 43
coins.  We are all classically trained, and we demand a lot [of ourselves]
because the Mint is known for its beautiful coins... The best part of
my job is seeing the finished product - holding the coin in my hand.
It's satisfying to see them all over the country."


According to a report published in The Daily Mail December 13, "The £5
note is becoming an endangered species. An unannounced decision by banks
over the past two years not to offer them in cash machines has resulted
in a shrinking supply.

"The Bank of England produced 63 million last year, the lowest figure
on record and down 73% in five years."

"But there is a suspicion that most of these are sitting in the vaults
of banks or retailers. The spokesman said retailers appear increasingly
to be holding on to £5 notes overnight in their till floats, rather than
depositing them with banks, probably for the practical reason of having
them available for change.

"The result is that the notes that do remain in circulation are
increasingly likely to be ripped or tatty, as damaged ones are only
weeded out when returned to the banks."

"The knock-on effect is that stores cannot offer them in change, which
means they have to ladle out vast quantities of coins instead."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


President Bush awarded the Medal of Freedom to several U.S. citizens
this week.  The Call of Kansas City profiled one awardee in a lengthy

"John “Buck” O’Neil is finally experiencing what the old Negro hymn
so graciously shouts -- free at last."

"The former Kansas City Monarch and Negro Leagues legend was awarded
the Presidential Medal of Freedom, given to America’s finest and such
sports legends as Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio,
Arthur Ashe, Jesse Owens, Roberto Clemente, Jack Nicklaus and Muhammad
Ali. O’Neil will join Blues legend B.B. King who will also receive the
Medal of Freedom next week."

"The first African American coach in Major League Baseball history, who
also scouted some of the greatest baseball players of all-time, O’Neil
received numerous awards in his lifetime, but none carry the prestige
which accompanies the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

"The Presidential Medal of Freedom is one of the two highest civilian
awards in the United States given by the President.  The other major
civilian award is the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

There are ten awardees in all this year, honored at a White House
ceremony December 15.  O'Neill's award comes posthumously, but several
of the awardees accepted them in person.  An Associated Press article
lists them in alphabetical order: Ruth Johnson Colvin, Norman C.
Francis, Paul Johnson, B.B. King, Joshua Lederberg, David McCullough,
Norman Y. Mineta, John "Buck" O'Neil, William Safire and Natan

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[I've had the pleasure of seeing blues legend B. B. King in concert
several times, and actually met another one of the awardees, historian
David McCullough.  The Martha's Vinyard Times interviewed him about
the award. -Editor]

"President Harry Truman established the award in 1945 to honor service
during WWII. It was later revived by President John F. Kennedy. For Mr.
McCullough, The historical connection to President Truman has a special

"Mr. McCullough won his first Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for "Truman,"
his bestselling biography, published by Simon and Schuster."

"Speaking with the scholarly grace and ease that characterizes him in
person and in his more public roles, Mr. McCullough said that the honor
was not his alone but belonged to the many people - editors, librarians,
researchers and others - who had helped him along the way and taken
an interest in his work."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

For more background on the medal, see


Other coin mail lists and chat rooms are rife with complaints about
fraudulent eBay auctions designed to fleece unwary collectors.  Turning
computer power against the thieves, researches have developed a system
to help identify the potential scammers among the universe of auctions.

"Computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University are using data mining
techniques to identify perpetrators of fraud among on-line auction users
as well as their otherwise unknown accomplices.

"The new method analyzes publicly available histories of transactions
posted by online auction sites such as eBay and identifies suspicious
online behaviors and dubious associations among users."

"Perpetrators of these frauds have distinctive online behaviors that
cause them to be readily purged from an online auction site, said
Computer Science Professor Christos Faloutsos. The software developed
by his research team — Network Detection via Propagation of Beliefs, or
NetProbe — could prevent future frauds by identifying their accomplices,
who can lurk on a site indefinitely and enable new generations of

In a test analysis of about one million transactions between almost
66,000 eBay users, NetProbe correctly detected 10 previously identified
perpetrators, as well as more than a dozen probable fraudsters and
several dozen apparent accomplices."

To read the complete article, see:  Full Story

[The software could probably be made even more effective against coin
auction scammers by teaching it to look for the hallmarks in the text
description of typical fraud lots, such as the "Aw, shucks, I'm no
noo-mis-ma-tist, but this here coin my great-grand-pappy gave me sure
looks purty." come-on.

I forwarded the article to ANA Executive Director Chris Cipoletti,
who asked eBay liaison Susan McMillan to follow up.  Thanks!  -Editor]


Regarding the merger of Dave Bowers' company with Stack's, an E-Sylum
subscriber writes: "I was listening to New York's all-news radio station
WINS-AM today and heard a news item about the 1913 Liberty nickel that
is about to be auctioned in Orlando, FL on January 2, 2007.  Prior to
the auction, the nickel, which is purported to be worth $5 Million,
can be viewed at the West 57th Street gallery of the auction company.

The last part of this story consisted of the unmistakable voice of
Harvey Stack explaining why the nickel was so valuable. Two things went
through my head after hearing Harvey's voice:

1)  WINS has a meteorologist named Dave Bowers.
2)  Stacks is the firm that supposedly returned the Walton 1913 nickel
    to the collector's widow, asserting it was fake.

[The circumstances leading to the labeling of Walton's a fake are
discussed at length in the "Million Dollar Nickels" book by Montgomery,
Borchardt and Knight (see Chapter 8 "Disappearing Act").  Abe Kosoff
was among those also calling Walton's specimen a fake.  -Editor]


Dick Johnson writes: "A metal-detector-toting treasure hunter of
Craven, England found his most valuable coin recently. Along with
six silver groats he found a silver penny in East Marton in June
this year.

"The coins would have been in circulation in the 1420s or early
1430s, issued under Lancastrian Kings, Henry IV, Henry V and Henry
VI between 1412 and 1427 to 1430, and are worth up to four thousand

"The gentleman, identified only as "Mr Binns," searches every day
and usually donates his finds to local schools as an educational tool.
His recent find, however, is at the British Museum for determination of
its worth by the Treasure Valuation Committee in consultation with the
Craven Museum."

Interested readers may click on this for the full article:
Full Story


Bob Rightmire writes: "Once again, E-Sylum subscribers have stepped
forth with valuable documents to help me with my research on the Guttag
Brothers. David Sundman has offered copies of Guttag's Coin Bulletins
that are not to be found elsewhere, and John Kraljevich is lending me
the only known copy of the sole coin auction conducted by the firm.
Such courtesies are the finest possible holiday gifts. With that in
mind, a Happy Holidays to all."


John Smithwick writes: "In the recent E-Sylum you asked about who
might have the records of the Brand inventory. I talked to Arthur
Friedberg (of 'Paper Money of the United States' fame).  In the past
he's mentioned that his family had the Brand ledgers. I believe they
were acquired along with the Brasher doubloon.   He said his copy of
the Brand ledgers were no more than twenty feet away. The originals
were sold and donated to the ANS."

[Web sites for the Friedbergs' Coin and Currency Institute and 'Paper
Money of the U.S.' books are shown below, along with a link to the
previous E-Sylum article.

John adds: "Arthur also said a new copy of the So-Called Dollars book
is coming out mid-2007. Price and "printage" have yet to be determined.
Work is being done by those at, while he will
be doing the publishing.  -Editor]





With regard to the history of the 1792 Washington cent in gold, Saul
Teichman writes: "The Brand journals are in the American Numismatic
Society library, so they can be checked.  If Brand did own the coin,
then it is very unlikely that Col. Green ever owned it.

"I do not know who purchased the Col. Green inventory out of the Ford
Library, but if the coin is listed there and was purchased in 1925,
then it would be very interesting to figure out where it came from.
The only major collection sold circa 1925 was the Ellsworth collection.
It does not seem likely that it was in there as it almost assuredly
would have been purchased by the Garretts. Is it possible that it was
bought by a relative unknown?"

George Fuld writes: "I appreciate the comments by Saul and Ron.  Here
is what we know to date:  H. P. Smith, using the nom de plume of Clay,
bought it at the 1890 Parmalee sale.  It did not go to Brand as his
material did not begin to be dispersed until 1933.  Dr. Hall's material
was all bought intact by Brand.

"I also checked the Mehl inventory of the Newcomer collection and the
cent was not there.  Eric bought it directly from the Col. Green estate
through B. G. Johnson.  We still don't know where it was between 1890
and 1925.  Was it in some dealer's stock as suggested by Eric?  I
appreciate the help and hope someone can come up with a new name."


In discussing print runs of numismatic books, Dave Bowers asked,
"Might “printage” be more widely employed as a useful numismatic name?"

Kavan Ratnatunga writes: "I have often wondered why currency catalogs
like Pick (now published by Krause) never attempted to publish "printage"
of currency notes.  Some dates of Modern Lankan Currency are rare
because they had relatively low "printage."


Regarding the proposed "printage" term, Alan Luedeking writes: "I
like Dave and Diana's term. For what it's worth, Carlos and I have
put the 'printage' of four of our five books right on the publication
data page, in the form of "This is number ___ of xx." We fill the
information in by hand.  For those interested, the printages to
date have been:

"Chile's Coquimbo Mint, A Documented History" (2003): 50.

"Las Emisiones Provinciales de Valdivia, 1822-1844" (2003): 50.

"The Chiloé Peso: An Important Obsidional Coin of Chile" (2003): 40.

"The Strange Concurrence of Coinage in Francos and Reales in Ecuador
from 1858 to 1862 and the Fabled Fifty Francos of 1862" (in
collaboration with Dale Seppa) (2004): 50, not so indicated.

"The Early Coinage of the Mint of Santiago de Chile: 1749-1772"
(2006): 500.

"In addition, Carlos has recently authored another work on Chilean
transitional coinage (royal to republican, as of 1817) with the
respected numismatist Emilio Paoletti. This has a printage of 150,
not so indicated."


Harry Waterson writes: "I enjoyed your piece on the Nobel Prizes and
noticed that nowhere did you mention that Alfred Nobel invented
dynamite, which is just further evidence that his plan worked. Alfred
Nobel, like Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling, was the surprised recipient
of a premature obituary. In Nobel's case this early obit castigated him
as a merchant of death. That was not the memory he wished to leave
behind.  In order to burnish his image and his death notices he gave
the bulk of his estate to establish the Nobel Prizes and thus give his
name a numismythical air and a medallic ring.

By the by, Kipling's first death notice was published in a magazine to
which he then wrote that since he was dead, would they please remove
his name from the list of subscribers?  - another case of the editorial
department not helping the circulation department."

[Actually, I thought everyone knew about the source of Nobel's fortune,
but I've been hanging around The E-Sylum too long.  We bibliophiles love
these little tidbits, and speaking of which, there were several
interesting anecdotes about the medals of the web page referenced last
week.  I'll publish some excerpts in the next item. -Editor]


This year's Nobel Prize awards prompted an item in last week's E-Sylum.
There are some additional interesting stories relating to the Nobel
medals - here are a couple:

"On all "Swedish" Nobel medals the name of the Laureate is engraved
fully visible on a plate on the reverse, whereas the name of the Peace
Laureate as well as that of the Winner for the Economics Prize is
engraved on the edge of the medal, which is less obvious. For the
1975 Economics Prize winners, the Russian Leonid Kantorovich and the
American Tjalling Koopmans, this created problems. Their medals were
mixed up in Stockholm, and after the Nobel Week the Prize Winners went
back to their respective countries with the wrong medals. As this
happened during the Cold War, it took four years of diplomatic efforts
to have the medals exchanged to their rightful owners."

[Unless you're a Nobel Laureate, I wouldn't recommend the storage
procedures used at Niels Bohr's Institute of Theoretical Physics in
Copenhagen during World War II.  The Institute had been a refuge for
German Jewish physicists since 1933.  -Editor]

"Max von Laue and James Franck had deposited their medals there to
keep them from being confiscated by the German authorities. After the
occupation of Denmark in April 1940, the medals were Bohr's first
concern, according to the Hungarian chemist George de Hevesy (also of
Jewish origin and a 1943 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry), who worked at
the institute.

In Hitler's Germany it was almost a capital offense to send gold out
of the country. Since the names of the Laureates were engraved on the
medals, their discovery by the invading forces would have had very
serious consequences.

To quote George de Hevesy (Adventures in Radioisotope Research,
Vol. 1, p. 27, Pergamon, New York, 1962), who talks about von Laue's
medal: "I suggested that we should bury the medal, but Bohr did not
like this idea as the medal might be unearthed. I decided to dissolve it.

While the invading forces marched in the streets of Copenhagen, I
was busy dissolving Laue's and also James Franck's medals. After the
war, the gold was recovered and the Nobel Foundation generously
presented Laue and Frank with new Nobel medals."

"de Hevesy wrote to von Laue after the war that the task of dissolving
the medals had not been easy, as gold is "exceedingly unreactive and
difficult to dissolve." The Nazis occupied Bohr's institute and searched
it very carefully but they did not find anything. The medals quietly
waited out the war in a solution of aqua regia."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that "A Victoria
Cross (VC) medal auctioned in Sydney last month has been handed over
to the Australian War Memorial for public display.

"A mystery buyer paid nearly $500,000 for the rare medallion, which
was awarded to Lance Corporal Bernard Gordon for bravery in France
in 1918.

"He went and captured a machine gun and a group of men and he then
realised that the German positions proceeded further beyond that,
so he went back onwards into the woods and captured a further five
machine guns and about 60 Germans single-handed."

"Mr Fletcher says this latest donation brings the memorial's VC
display to 61 medals."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Lane County, Oregon officials have come up with a numismatic
solution for funding local bridge maintenance:

"Lane County officials have learned that to make money, you have
to coin it. Literally.

"So they are minting 17 silver coins commemorating the county's 17
covered bridges in an effort to pay for some of the maintenance of
the spans no longer in service.

"And collectors are snapping them up.

"We didn't have any idea when we started what the interest would
be," Public Works executive assistant Vonnie Rainwater said. "It's
been very successful and well-received."

"After releasing the third coin last week, featuring the Office
Bridge in Westfir, the county has made at least $13,000, she said.
Two other coins, with the Goodpasture and Lowell bridges, were
released last year.

"The Goodpasture and Office bridge mintings were given a 500-coin
run, and 600 Lowell bridge coins were minted. The Goodpasture coin
cost $20 and the Lowell and Office coins cost $25. The first 25 of
each series were numbered and sold at auctions, Rainwater said.

"The No. 1 coin for Goodpasture bridge went for $400; for Lowell
Bridge it was $510, and the Office Bridge took in $280.

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[OK, we numismatists know these are properly called medals, not
'coins', but it's an interesting concept nonetheless.  -Editor]


"Dead Plagiarists Society", a November 21 article published on the
Slate web site asks, "Will Google Book Search uncover long-buried
literary crimes?"  As more and more texts (numismatic and otherwise)
migrate to electronic format, it's just a matter of time before
plagiarists, even long-dead ones, will finally be exposed.

"Given the popularity of plagiarism-seeking software services for
academics, it may be only a matter of time before some enterprising
scholar yokes Google Book Search and plagiarism-detection software
together into a massive literary dragnet, scooping out hundreds of
years' worth of plagiarists—giants and forgotten hacks alike—who
have all escaped detection until now.

"Google Book Search contains hundreds of millions of printed pages,
and yet after just a few words, the likelihood of the sentence's
replication scales down dramatically."

"Conveniently enough, a few literary greats have already had their
mug shots taken. It's long been known that Poe plagiarized an early
book, a hack project titled The Conchologist's First Book, and that
Herman Melville swiped many technical passages of Moby Dick whole
from maritime authors like Henry Cheever."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

[This is a topic we've broached before in The E-Sylum, but it's not
much discussed in polite numismatic company.  Me plagiarize?  Heck
no - it's "research".  But more than a few numismatic authors have
copied from earlier works to varying degrees.  It will be interesting
to see who get ratted out by the computers.  -Editor]


Larry Gaye writes: "I would like to echo George F. Kolbe's plea
for membership action regarding the ANA."

E-Sylum regular Wendell Wolka is running for a position on the
American Numismatic Association board.  His platform statement
notes that "The ANA should continue to focus primarily on education
and outreach as the primary ways of providing value to members and
growth for the association.

"The ANA needs to become and remain fiscally responsible, with a
balanced annual budget and a fully restored endowment fund
considered standard practice."

[For more information, contact Wendell at

Another longtime E-Sylum contributor, retired Army colonel Joe
Boling, also announced his candidacy for the American Numismatic
Association's Board of Governors recently.  He has been an ANA
exhibit judge since 1978, a member of the ANA's exhibiting and
judging committee for eighteen years, and has been ANA's chief
judge for fourteen years.  Joe also teaches regularly at the ANA
Summer Seminar.

He writes: "I believe that the ANA has strayed from serving its
individual members and clubs. The emphasis has moved toward becoming
a 'heavy hitter' with government agencies, inserting ourselves into
movements to establish museums and other 'outreach' programs that
do little to serve individual collectors.  Yes, it is desirable to
raise public awareness of numismatics, but not when that means
draining the organization's fiscal resources and diverting staff
hours to programs in which most members cannot participate.

"Having been to headquarters every year for quite a while, and to
every convention for quite a bit longer, I can see the deterioration
of morale that has occurred among ANA's employees. The ferocious
turnover rate is a symptom of a leadership climate that must be

[The ANA's staff turnover rate was highlighted by former librarian
David Sklow in his recent Coin World Guest Commentary.  In an earlier
submission, Howard Daniel highlighted the alienation that many
individuals and volunteers have come to feel.

To discuss these issues or receive a complete copy of his platform
statements, contact Joe by email at or phone
317-894-2506.  Tom Sheehan adds: "I would be happy to supply and
receive nomination forms for Joe.  My mailing address is P. O. Box
1477, Edmonds, WA  98020 and my email is"

People like Joe and fellow ANA Judge and board candidate John Eshbach
have dedicated a large portion of their lives to the organization,
traveling and volunteering at ANA conventions and headquarters.  If
anyone deserves a say in how the organization is run, it's folks
like them.  -Editor]

E-Sylum subscriber Michael Doran has also announced his candidacy.
He writes: "The ANA must be more transparent and open. It must treat
its members and clubs with the utmost respect. And most importantly,
the ANA must return to its number one purpose - to promote the
knowledge, study, and science of the numismatic hobby."

"I will be having a campaign website up and running by January 1,
2007 or sooner. In the meantime, if you have any questions about
the campaign, please feel free to e-mail me at"

[We welcome hearing more from all the candidates about the aspects
of their platforms of most interest to E-Sylum readers, particularly
the ANA's library and resource center, publications, and numismatic
research and education.  -Editor]


The English edition of Asharq Al-Awsat, the leading Arabic
international daily, describes a new film in cinemas across Morocco
that has been a source of controversy recently over historical
inaccuracies.  ‘Abdou Ind Almohadeen’ tells the story of a young
man called Abdou who is sent back in time by scientists "in search
of a map engraved on a silver coin weighing 400 pounds, and
commemorated by King Roger II of Sicily."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story


Michael E. Marotta writes: "Newtonmas was deleted from the

But you can still read about Newtonmas here:
and here:

And here is my biography of Sir Isaac as Warden and Master
of the Mint: Full Story

And speaking about money at Christmas, here is the dear
boy himself, Scrooge: Scrooge-Twilight.jpg

A happy and prosperous new year to you and to us all!"


This week's featured web site is, "a site
about Europe's early dated coinage, an online expansion of the
Frey catalogue of dated European coinage before 1501 with additional
coins not included by Frey from numerous catalogues through 1530
as are found and identified."

  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.

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