The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. For more information please see our web site at


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There is a membership application available on the web site 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 for First Class mail, and $25 elsewhere. For those without web access, write to:

David M. Sundman, Secretary/TreasurerNumismatic Bibliomania Society
P. O. Box 82 Littleton, NH 03561


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You won't regret it!


Wayne Homren Among our recent subscribers is Jeff Bolte. We now have 1,229 subscribers.

Regarding last week's issue Joe Boling writes:
Starting right after Howard's book article, all the rest of the issue was with blue background as if it were editor's comments, and was right justified, which was a bit hard to read in places.

That problem happened with my issue as well, although Joe was the only reader to mention it. My pre-publication tests and the NBS web archive version turned out normal. My apologies to anyone who experienced these formatting problems.

In my preface last week to Bob Leonard's note on the "Great Depreciation" I mistakenly attributed remarks by David Lange to Tom DeLorey. Sorry, guys. Tom writes:
An equally good theory, but why would Polhemus have been held responsible for the law of supply and demand? I doubt we shall ever know the true answer.

This week we open with an update on our print journal The Asylum and word about three different numismatic literature sales. Next, Krause Publications announces two new books and collectors discuss the binding on Breen's Encyclopedia.

Other topics this week are the late coin photographer Larry Stevens, a new web site linking to online numismatic literature, and a Lincoln letter's return to the National Archives.

To learn what the new horror film "Drag Me To Hell" has to do with numismatics, read on. Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Bill Burd writes:
I recently received my copy of The Asylum and knowing we were promised the list of the 100 greatest numismatic books I anxiously tore it open. I expected a list of books 1 thru 100 with no commentary. To my surprise there was a paragraph or two for each book. But wait, I must be missing pages covering number 1 thru 40. Then I settled down, relaxed and started to read. What a tease Leonard is. How long do we wait for 1 thru 40? This is a grand effort by Len - what a superb job.

Bill's note was caught in the email ether for a couple weeks, but now we have an answer to his question. -Editor

David Yoon, editor of our print journal The Asylum writes:
I've sent the next issue of The Asylum, vol. 27 no. 2, to the printers. Here's the contents list:
  • Leonard Augsburger - The One Hundred Greatest Items of United States Numismatic Literature: A Survey of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society, Part 2
  • D. Wayne Johnson - Defining and Voting on "Greatest" Numismatic Works: A Contrarian View of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society Survey
  • RyAnne Scott - News from the ANA Library: Numismatic Literature at the World's Fair of Money

I, too, am awaiting the unveiling of the top forty choices. I was equally surprised and impressed with Len's commentary on each item.

Remember - although The E-Sylum is free to all, only paid members of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society receive The Asylum, the print journal of record for numismatic bibliophiles. Membership information is available each week at the top right of each E-Sylum issue, and on our newly updated web site at . -Editor


Fred Lake forwarded this note about his recently concluded auction. -Editor
The prices realized list for our sale #98 which closed on May 26, 2009 is now available for viewing on our web site at Many thanks to our bidders for making this another fine sale. We will begin shipping lots by the end of this week and invoices will follow shipment. Our next mail-bid sale of numismatic literature will be held on July 28, 2009.


David Fanning submitted this press release for -Editor
Fanning Numismatic Literature David F. Fanning Numismatic Literature’s second auction sale closes this Thursday, June 4. Hard-copy catalogues were distributed some time ago, but a PDF version has been posted on the firm’s Web site at Bids may be accepted by mail, phone or e-mail. See the sale’s Terms section for details.

The sale includes several hundred lots of literature on ancient, medieval and modern numismatics, with particular strengths in North American numismatics. Works spanning six centuries and a dozen different languages are included. Highlights include:

  • all three original French editions of Charpentier et al. on the medals of Louis XIV
  • original photographs and negatives depicting coins from the Waldo Newcomer collection
  • a presentation Eidlitz on architectural medals
  • Meili on the paper money of Brazil
  • a 1709 Act of Queen Anne, regulating the value of coins in America
  • a set of Nagy plates of New Jersey coppers
  • an April 1792 newspaper printing of the Act Establishing the Mint
  • J. Francis Fisher’s 1837 “Description of American Medals”
  • a substantial run of the Numismatic Circular
  • a plated Jenks in the original binding

David Fanning can be reached at (614) 256-8915 or at For more information, or to download a catalogue, go to .


In another June 4th auction, Bill Rosenblum offers some numismatic literature as well. He sent the following information. -Editor
E-Sylum readers should be aware that in our auction of June 4th there is a small, but significant, section on numismatic literature. A number of seldom offered books on both ancient Biblical numismatics and modern Judaica are being offered as well as a couple of works in French by Adrien Blanchet. These lots can be viewed at .


This press release announces the availability of the latest edition of the Standard Catalog of World Coins 1901-2000. -Editor
Krause SCWC 1901-2000 37th ed Looking for a quick history lesson? Check out the coins in your pocket, and check out the just released 37th edition of the Standard Catalog of World Coins 1901-2000.

The new edition features nearly every world coin issued between 1901 and 2000 by more than 350 countries worldwide. In all there are nearly 1 million coins found in the pages of this authoritative and all-encompassing reference. Each coin listing gives readers key details for accurately and easily identifying each coin. Details include weight, mintage, issue date, actual precious metal weight, ruler at the time the coin was issued, and details about the coin's obverse and reverse images.

Be it francs and pesos, pounds and crowns or dollars and cents, each coin has a story to tell. It may be the story of a country honoring an event or leader, the expansion of a country's monetary system, and many other legend-making events in a country's history. In the Standard Catalog readers gain an amazing display of 20th century world coin history, as well as the updated photos and prices, reflective of current market values, which make each edition a must-have. Organized alphabetically by country, this industry leader also includes a bonus CD which contains the entire contents of the book. The CD, which is compatible with most computers, allows readers to create their own large-print edition by using the page enlargement capability to increase page size by 400%. By creating easier to review coin photos and easier to read descriptions and prices this CD gives readers two references for the price of one. Plus, the handy CD, with all the content of the book, is also sold separately.

Book, CD or both together, the Standard Catalog of World Coins 1901-2000 is the source to turn to for reliable and easy-to-understand coverage of 20th century coinage.

For more information, see:


But wait, there's more - here’s another release from Krause Publications. -Editor
Krause Coin Digest 2010 The new edition of the ultimate U.S. coin book, U.S. Coin Digest, is now available from Krause Publications.

Now in its eighth edition, this two-in-one full color coin guide is packed with comprehensive information that serves the needs of seasoned collectors, as well as the person who inherited a collection or has a few coins they are wondering about. Listings include circulating and non-circulating coins from early colonial times to modern issues, including the new coins of the presidential dollar series.

Each coin is introduced with details about the designer, its diameter, weight and composition and key notes about strikes or varieties, and it is followed by line listings with mintage and price for each issue by year. With current pricing in up to 11 grades of condition, the accuracy of this U.S. coin guide is unmatched.

The 288-page book also contains 1,600 color photos, and is produced in hard cover with concealed wired binding. This allows for users to lay the book flat for hands-free research while inspecting coins. The obverse and reverse color photos also give readers an added edge in properly identifying coins.

A bonus CD included with the book contains special features on Liberty Head nickels, Kennedy halves, Morgan dollars, commemoratives, U.S. minting varieties and errors, and a complete issue of Coins magazine. A CD version containing all of the contents of the book and the bonus features is also sold separately. The CD allows readers to search listings and articles using the key word option or the index, and provides the ability to enlarge pages by 400% for close-up inspection of coins and easier reading.

U.S. Coin Digest 2010 is edited by David C. Harper, the editor of Numismatic News, who has more than 44 years of experience in the hobby, and Harry Miller, a prominent coin dealer and founder of Miller's Mint.

For more information, see:


There was some discussion this week on the Yahoo Colonial Coins mailing list about the notoriously poor bindings on some editions of Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins. -Editor

James Higby wrote: Breen Encyclopedia
I had been using my Breen Encyclopedia in tandem with the new Bowers book and the recent Nipper book to assist in my study of early American coins. It was not too long before the pages in the New Jersey section started coming loose, due to the exceptionally poor quality of the binding.

Recently I put it through a book bindery, which for $52.00 removed the body of the book from the cover, sewed the pages, attached new pastedowns and freeflys, and re-installed the whole package back into the original cover. I can even use the original dust jacket, which I long ago preserved in a mylar slipcover. Now I have a product that will outlast me, even with heavy use.

Ray Williams wrote:
I hope there are no NBS members here, but years ago I purchased a second copy of Breen's Encyclopedia on eBay for about $50. I took it to the New Jersey Numismatic Society meeting with a razor knife and sold sections for $5 each. $5 for the Morgan Dollars, $5 for the Indian Cents, etc.

I kept the cover, the colonial section and the index. I got all my money back. My primary copy was autographed by Breen in the year of issue at a GSNA Convention in Cherry Hill NJ.

I doubt many NBS members (or E-Sylum readers) would join a lynch mob to avenge the dismemberment of a poorly bound book.

On a related note, I remember the late Ken Lowe of The Money Tree telling me how he'd taken apart a copy of Highfill's Comprehensive U.S. Silver Dollar Encyclopedia, keeping a thin section of pages he thought worthwhile and discarding the rest to save shelf space. -Editor

Kolbe 2009 May 31


The Washington Post published this obituary today for Larry Stevens, the longtime coin photographer whose work appeared in COIN World, COINage and other U.S. numismatic publications. He died in February. -Editor
Stevens Larry Larry Stevens spent his early years as a professional photographer covering celebrities in Hollywood and Washington. He was a member of the White House press corps and took photos for some of the most popular magazines of the era: Time, Life, Parade and the old Saturday Evening Post.

In the 1960s, he left behind the world of bold-faced names. He forged a new career, one that brought him lots of money -- literally.

Mr. Stevens, 87, who died Feb. 25 of cardiac arrest, became a leading photographer of coins.

"I had discovered that nobody can remember a Cabinet member's name when he's in office, let alone when he gets out, so there wasn't a very good secondary market for much of my photography," the Falls Church resident told COINage magazine in 1997. "I sat down to decide what I could photograph that would be of permanent value on film, something that could be sold over and over. And I decided on coins, stamps and birds."

Mastering the art of 35-millimeter film, the numismatic photographer learned how to capture the fine details of coins, paper money and medallic art and how to produce photographs that required very little retouching. He would spend hours making sure he caught the correct grooves, shadows and dimensions of a coin, including how faces and images were raised ever so slightly from the coin's surface.

Through his work, according to COINage Magazine, where Mr. Stevens freelanced for many years, he had built up one of the largest private photo collections of rare coins, including photos of U.S. commemorative coins, Colonial-era coins and nearly all the coins created by the U.S. Mint since the late 1970s.

According to his daughter Wendy Stevens, Mr. Stevens had file cabinets filled with thousands of photos of coins, plus the negatives. When COINage or Coin World magazine would call him to request a specific coin, he would either pull from his file or photograph it.

By the mid-1970s, Mr. Stevens had photographed much of the National Numismatic Collection, rarities from the Philadelphia Mint and coins from the Chase Manhattan Bank Money Museum. He also photographed the coin collection of Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical entrepreneur.

"It was a real challenge to photograph that collection, but I never had a failure. If I put a coin down, I had a picture," he told COINage magazine in 1997.

Frank Lawrence Stevens was born in Chicago and headed an Air Force photography combat team during the Korean War. He refined his skills after the war, when he settled in Southern California and attended the old Fred Archer School of Photography.

He also approached the art of bird photography from a technical viewpoint and taught himself how to take the best photos for bird carvers to use. He worked hard to capture exact feather patterns and color detail.

"I had found that bird painters were fudging a lot about bird anatomy. So I made it my job to photograph birds swimming and diving and walking," he told COINage in 1997.

By the late 1990s, when he was forced to give up photography, carving and painting because of Lewy body disease, a degenerative disorder that causes the loss of mental functions, his bird library included about 40,000 photographs.

"Larry's 35-millimeter photography far eclipses even the very best computer technology we have today," Travers said. "He was a master of his trade."

Did any of our readers know Larry Stevens? Please share your stories with us. And will any numismatic publisher make a bid to purchase Stevens' coin photo archive? If not, let's hope the family could be persuaded to donate it to a suitable institution. -Editor

To read the complete article, see: No Coin, Bird Detail Escaped Photographer (


Bruce Perdue submitted this web site. Hosted in the Netherlands, it's a marvelous compilation of links to online numismatic literature. -Editor
Digital Library NUMIS
Welcome to Digital Library Numis (DLN). This website is aimed to provide a major portal and digital archive for numismatic books and articles on coins, medals and related subjects, which can be consulted here online. The main body of this project consists of a variety of beautifully illustrated classics produced from the 16th until the 20th century, but you will also find here many publications from a more recent date.

This work is still under construction und will be updated on a regular basis.

Wow! Someone's done a lot of legwork. There are hundreds of online books in all languages here, quite a library in itself. Here are just a few examples that caught my eye.

QUICK QUIZ: What's YOUR favorite item in this collection? Why? There are no right or wrong answers, but check it out. CAUTION: the pages tend to load slowly, so be patient. -Editor

Outerbridge Curiosities of American Coinage Index: Outerbridge, Alexander E.
Title: Curiosities of American coinage
Published: [Philadelphia] : [the author], [1898]
Extract from: Bulletin of the Museum of Science and Art, University of Penna 4 (1898) 1

Curiosities of American Coinage

I'm familiar with most of the 19th century works on U.S. numismatics, but I don't remember coming across this one before. Interesting item from an obscure journal - just the sort of thing to pop up out of the woodwork as more and more of the world's libraries are digitized.

Another rare item is shown below - an 1887 Maryland Historical Society paper on the National Medals of the United States. I believe this was referenced in the recent books on the subject. -Editor

McSherry National Medals of the U.S Index: McSherry, Richard Meredith 1842-1898
Title: The national medals of the United States : a paper read before the Maryland Historical Society / by Richard M. McSherry
Published: Baltimore : Maryland Historical Society, 1887

Andorfer Musica in Nummis Index: Andorfer, Karl
Title: Musica in nummis : beschreibendes Verzeichnis von Medailleurarbeiten auf Musiker (Komponisten, Virtuosen, Musikschriftsteller, Instrumentenmacher etc.) ferner Sänger und Sängerinnen vom XV. Jahrhundert bis auf die heutige Zeit / hrsg. von Karl Andorfer und Richard Epstein
Published: Wien : Gilhofer und Ranschburg, 1907

To visit Digital Library Numis, see:


Concerning last week's discussion of researching medal design copyrights, Kay O. Freeman writes:
Actually, there are many Design patents for medals, and they can be easily found thru Google patents advanced search online. Trademarks are there too. A different site has copyrights online, but only from 1978. I use the Google Design patents all the time - for things other than medals - back into the 19th centurry. The original drawings and descriptions are there online. Make sure to look at bottom of results page to see continuation of results!



Rusty Goe submitted the following notes about his current research and literature he needs to assist his efforts. -Editor
I'm working on several research projects---all related to Carson City coins, of course. The titles on my want list represent only a small selection of the references I need.

I'm working on an article (or possibly a book) on 1876-CC 20-cent pieces. I'm also working on some sort of publication about "CC" GSA silver dollars. And I'm always working on articles for our Carson City Coin Collectors of America club journal, Curry's Chronicle. Regarding the latter, I'm working on articles about auction prices realized for selected "CC" coins over the past 125 years.

My research library is well stocked, but I'm always looking for literature that I don't have.

Rusty provided the following want list. Can anyone assist? -Editor
Auction Catalogs
  • B. Max Mehl – H.O. Granberg July 16 and November 19, 1919
  • B. Max Mehl – William A Knapp March 13, 1945
  • B. Max Mehl – Isaac Excell April 12, 1927
  • Ben Green – Isaac Excell July 18, 1903
  • Bowers and Ruddy – Connecticut Sale 1893
  • Bowers and Ruddy – Dr. Willing June 24, 1976 – Prices Realized only
  • Bowers and Merena – S. Benton Emery – Nichols 1984
  • Edouard Frossand – J.G. Hubbard Collection – December 10, 1900
  • James Kelly – 1967 ANA Sale – Guggenheimer
  • J.W. Scott and Co. – Dr. S.L. Lee – June 12, 1899
  • New York Coin and Stamp Co. – Edward Goldschmidt Collection – April 1895
  • Paramount – Century Collection – Hazen B. Hinman – April 1965
  • U.S. Coin Company
    • George M. Andrus – January 20, 1915
    • June 15, 1916
    • February 6, 1918
    • December 21, 1937
    W. Elliot Woodward – Dietrich-Morgan – April 19-21, 1882
  • Wayte Raymond Auctions
    • October 29, 1937
    • April 20, 1938
* Prefer prices realized with all catalogs if available *

  • Wayte Raymond – Silver Coins of the United States Mints Philadelphia, New Orleans, Carson City, Denver, San Francisco, New York, 1933, 40 Pages
  • 1988 Auction Prices Realized (For 1987 prices)
  • Error Trends Magazine –With GSA Insert – February 1973

Contact: Rusty Goe at, or 775 322-4455

A Carson City coin with an unusually long pedigree is featured in an upcoming auction. The following account is from a Numismatic News article on the NumisMaster web site. Oddly, the article didn’t picture the reverse of the coin which has the fabled "CC" mint mark. The below image comes from the Bowers and Merena web site. -Editor
An 1876-CC 20-cent piece will highlight Bowers and Merena’s Baltimore Coin and Currency Convention auction slated for three-sessions June 11-12.

The coin is graded AU-58 by the Professional Coin Grading Service and the firm says it has a five-generation history.

1876-CC 20-cent piece 1876-CC 20-cent piece rev

As B&M relates it, the 20-cent piece is one of 12-20 known. It was received in 1876 in circulation in Virginia City, Nev., by John Seagraves Pick. It has been kept in the Pick/Jurgensen family for the last 133 years.

Pick’s son, John William Pick, who was born in Virginia City in 1872, got the coin from his father. He passed it to his daughter, Virginia Pick Jurgensen, who was born in 1904 and survived the San Francisco earthquake when she was just 2 years old; she kept the coin for 47 years until her death in 1993. It then went to her son, Wilfred Pick Jurgensen. When he died at age 74, the 20-cent piece was inherited by his widow, Jean Lorraine Jurgensen, and son, Steven Frederick Jurgensen.

“This is a very special coin and it is an honor to offer it at auction to the numismatic world for the first time ever,” said Steve Deeds, president of Bowers and Merena.

To read the complete article, see: Rarity in B&M sale held for 133 years (


Dick Johnson submitted these thoughts on the state of the publishing industry and numismatic literature publishing in particular. -Editor
Last week the book industry met in New York City for their annual conclave where booksellers, authors, editors and publishers gathered. Discussion among some 30,000 attendees, obviously, was how to combat a beleaguered book demand drastically affecting the industry.

Audio books, for example, had observed half their market evaporate. Sales across the book spectrum were down but it was uneven for all categories. "There's a feeling the old model isn't working," agent Anthony Arnove told the Los Angles Times. His specialty of historical fiction is finding a much harder time finding an audience, he said.

Rick Jones, chief marketing officer for Perseus Books, said their firm is searching for a format that will allow books to be -- in his words -- "more nimble, more conversational and more technologically adept." They were promoting a method to collate a book, design a cover and publish it in multiple formats within 48 hours. Sounds like they are honing in on publishing-on-demand.

And, of course, Kindle was on most everyone's lips. In one report I read it covered the portable book devices: "media maven Tina Brown cooed over the Kindle, but an electronic book reader, writer Sherman Alexie had harsher words.

"The physical presence of a book," he said -- "turning pages even sitting in the bathtub -- the relationship to the book won't be the same. It distances us from the book.

"Only a certain kind of book sells well electronically and thus limits what publishers will make available in that format. Eccentric writers will have even more difficulty getting books published. As a result, the Kindle will homogenize literature even more."

In contrast I have not observed a decline in our little specialized numismatic niche of the book publishing world. Without taking a physical count I believe more books have been published in each of the last two years than before. Could we be bucking the national trend?

Are numismatists still spending the same amount of money each year for numismatic books? I went to my check book register to discover I spent more last year for new numismatic books. But it was skewered with the $225 purchase of one new book, Bill Swoger's United States Commemorative Coins of the United States of America. In my E-Sylum comments (October 20, 1908 vol 11, no 42, art 3) I praised the content but criticized the book's cost.

General book sales may be down. But I am still buying more new books on -- what else? -- numismatics. Are you doing likewise?


In an article published last about the U.S. Mint festivities in Indiana for the launch of the new Lincoln Cent design, Mint Director Ed Moy was quoted saying
Moy said about 20,000 of the shiny new pennies from the Philadelphia mint were brought to Thursday’s festivities in a Brinks truck.

Lincoln Cent 2009 distribution

In the back-of-the-envelope-calculation department, John Burns writes:
OY MOY!! 20,000 pennies, oh boy oh boy!! Ahh, wait a minute, that's $200!! Or 4 bags!! I could have carried them in and saved them the $500 or so for the Brinks truck. Oh well, just look at the priceless publicity they got!!

To read the complete article, see: New coin is 'change' we can believe in (


Last week's departure of Larry Stack from Stack's has been reflected on the firm's web site with the disappearance of his picture and biography, but the company hasn't issued a statement - there's nothing new on the Current News section. E-Sylum readers from the firm haven't commented either, which leaves only speculation. Below are some of the comments that appeared on the Collector's Universe forum this week: -Editor

  • It will be interesting to find out the reasons that are eventually made public.
  • Usually in public companies the CEO only leaves when they are retiring or when they have lost the confidence of the board of directors.
  • Who owns that firm, anyhow?
  • Anderson brothers
  • It will be interesting to see if he starts a new company and competes with his old company.
  • So perhaps he will get on board with Bowers and Merena, I wonder how QDB would feel about that?
  • hmmm ... if stack would take over Bowers, then stack will be at Bowers, and Bowers will be at stack's, right? Ingenious!!

To read the full discussion, see: Larry Stack Leaves Stack's (

Alan V. Weinberg writes:
The numismatic community is losing a tremendous positive influence with the forced departure of Larry Stack from Stack's. I say "forced departure" as that is what it was. Not a mutually-agreed upon severing of ties or an early retirement.

The Anderson Bros. of Whitman Publishing, who had reportedly been trimming staff in various of their ventures, apparently had plans for a new direction in Stack's operations with which Larry strongly disagreed.

He was of the "old school" - masterfully written and researched auction catalogues of the finest visual quality, knowledge of great rarity and an aesthetic appreciation for numismatic art and history, the importance of a long term support staff (many had been there for decades, most unusual in this industry), and the care needed to cultivate long term and old-time collections and collectors. Tony Terranova, a longtime collector/dealer and a close friend of both mine and Larry's, very recently stated to me: "Nothing is forever - things change". How unfortunate... and how true. Things change, and often not for the better. This is my opinion.

Change is a constant and so are differing opinions. Time will tell how the market sorts out this change. Great coins, collections and collectors live on, and in time will come to market one way or another. As bibliophiles and numismatic researchers, we E-Sylum readers have been treated to a marvelous production of sale catalogs from multiple firms in recent years. Many will still be useful in the future; many others will not. But I'm a born optimist - great collections will get the cataloging they deserve because the market demands it. Here's hoping for the best from ALL of our auctioneer friends. -Editor


DAVID F. FANNING NUMISMATIC LITERATURE'S second mail-bid auction closes on Thursday, June 4. The catalogue is available on our Web site for those who did not receive a printed copy. Contact David Fanning at (614) 256-8915 or at to place bids. For more information, go to .


Nick Graver forwarded this Associate Press article about a letter returned to the National Archives relating to the San Francisco Mint. -Editor
The National Archives on Thursday added to its collection a short letter written by President Abraham Lincoln to help an ousted U.S. Mint director who was the son-in-law of a Republican senator.

In the new letter, Lincoln asked his treasury secretary, Salmon Chase, to allow the fired head of the U.S. Mint in San Francisco, Robert Stevens, to review the charges that led to his removal. Lincoln had appointed Stevens as a favor to Oregon Sen. Edward Baker, the ousted director's father-in-law.

"This letter, while seemingly routine, is an extremely important key to understanding President Lincoln's relationship with Sen. Baker," said James Hastings, director of access programs at the archives. "It shows his interest, even in the midst of the Civil War, in political issues on the West Coast."

The letter is written on yellowed stationary simply marked Executive Mansion, Washington, with a dashed line where the date — Nov. 14, 1863 — was filled in by hand. This was five days before Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address.

The archives says it was torn years earlier from a bound volume of Chase's correspondence with government officials. The removal occurred before the book of letters was inducted into the archives.

Specialists at the archives will reattach the letter to the place it was torn from the book.

"We will have this piece of the puzzle now where it belongs and scholars can now interpret its importance to this critical period," Hastings said.

To read the complete article, see: National Archives obtains Lincoln letter to treasury secretary about fired US Mint official (

Arthur Shippee spotted another article in the New York Times, and I saw a third in the Washington Post, each with an interesting take on the letter and its significance. Here are some excerpts. -Editor

Lincoln Letter Times The letter is part of a 141-volume series documenting letters received by Treasury secretaries from other government officials from 1831 to 1869. Archives officials are not certain exactly when the letter was lost, but said it appeared to have been before the 1940s. After learning that the letter had been offered for sale about three years ago, around the time Mr. Cutler bought it, the archives set about to track it down.

James Hastings, director of access programs for the archives, said the letter was the only piece missing from its volume.

“I can’t prove what happened,” Mr. Hastings said, stopping short of calling its removal from the volume a theft. “But it’s not a coincidence, I think, that a handwritten Lincoln letter was the only document removed.”

Mr. Cutler declined to say how much he had paid for the letter.

He said donating what he called the crown jewel of his collection was bittersweet, but added that he knew the letter belonged to the public.

“It may sound kind of corny,” he said, “but I consider myself a temporary custodian of what I collect.”

To read the complete New York Times article, see: Letter by Lincoln, Lost for Decades, Is Returned (

Lincoln Letter image

Even lionized super-presidents occasionally placed boneheads in prominent positions, and paid a price for it. A certain memo from Abraham Lincoln, donated to the National Archives by a private collector yesterday, reminds us of this.

Four days before he went to Gettysburg in 1863 to deliver a certain address, Lincoln made time to deal with an annoyance, a trifle compared with the Civil War. The secretary of the Treasury had investigated one Robert Stevens, the son-in-law of Lincoln's dear friend Sen. Edward Baker (R-Ore.), and charged him with corruption during his tenure as superintendent of the San Francisco Mint. Stevens wanted to see the evidence against him. To grease the bureaucratic wheels, Lincoln penned a letter to Secretary Salmon P. Chase.

The note is curt and quick -- maybe because Lincoln thoroughly disliked Chase, maybe because he was still smarting from the backlash to his appointment of his friend's son-in-law, maybe because he had more pressing persuasive writing to complete.

The memo seems a startling distraction to a president embroiled in a cataclysmic and bloody war. Thus it neatly illustrates one of the immutable laws of presidential politics then and now: Individual imbroglios fester at will, anytime, without regard for the deeper national crisis.

"Even though this item is seemingly routine, it is in fact very important," said James Hastings, director of access programs for the archives. "It shows his regard for [Senator Baker], and shows his political interest in the West Coast, even in the midst of the Civil War."

Lincoln, who wept at the news of Baker's death in battle in 1861, appointed Stevens to the mint that same year as a favor to the Baker family. When a delegation from San Francisco traveled to Washington to oppose this patronage, Lincoln flew into a rage and threw their written complaints in the fireplace. Stevens was eventually fired in 1863, but the president wanted the son-in-law of his friend to have access to pertinent information.

The note shows the president's core values of fair play, attention to courtesy amid chaos and reliance on political patronage, says Michael Burlingame, author of "Abraham Lincoln: A Life."

It was the cornerstone of my collection, the most expensive and dear item," Cutler said. "Certainly it's bittersweet, but knowing it's going back to the public is more of an honor than a consolation."

The archives gave Cutler a facsimile of the letter to show its gratitude for shedding a sliver of light on the ordeal, but that pales in comparison to the rest of Cutler's collection. He owns at least one document signed by every single president of the United States -- except one.

"If Mr. Obama is listening," Cutler joked at the news conference, "please send me a letter with your signature on it."

To read the complete article, see: We've Got Mail -- From A. Lincoln (


Speaking of numismatic officials dismissed from high places, Numismatic News reported this week on the latest development regarding the dispute between the American Numismatic Association and its former Executive Director Christopher Cipoletti. The story by David Ganz is available on the NumisMaster web site -Editor
Newest development in the litigation wars between the ANA and its fired executive director Christopher Cipoletti: the American Numismatic Association now says he committed civil fraud and stole thousands of dollars from the organization in papers filed with El Paso County Court on May 19.

After Cipoletti's discharge, which the ANA board said was "for cause," a curtain of silence descended as the hearing of the controversy began in the murky world of commercial arbitration, which is notable for its lack of public review or oversight, the perfect forum to discretely launder dirty linen.

Evidently, a lot of discovery - the exchange of evidentiary documents - was involved over the last several months, all preparatory to a hearing or trial before a panel of arbitrators who are privately paid by the litigants to rule on the case.

The ANA claims that thousands of dollars it was entitled to were never turned over to it and that Cipoletti was properly discharged for cause. In a related development, the ANA's outside litigation counsel handling this matter has asked to amend the counterclaims asserted against Cipoletti to include a claim for civil theft.

All of the claims involved in the arbitration are also part of a larger court proceeding in El Paso County, Colo., court in Colorado Springs.

To read the complete article, see: ANA Alleges Theft in New Court Filing (


DAVID SKLOW - FINE NUMISMATIC BOOKS Sale #7, closing June 13th 2009, Catalog is in the mail and available on line at our web site. Bidding is accepted via email. Telephone: (719) 302-5686, FAX: (719) 302-4933. U.S. Mail: P.O. Box 6321, Colorado Springs, CO. 80934.


Most of the "rare" items found in dresser drawers by hopeful citizens turn out to be quite common in coin collecting circles. But every now and then something truly scarce and valuable does show up. Here's an article about a recently discovered group of National Currency notes. -Editor
Ossining National Bank note sheets Phil Chadeayne has always lived surrounded by old things, and that's the way he likes it.

"The last thing I want is some plywood McMansion mansion," he says, "I like that old stuff, and there's a connection there."

Sure, he fixes computers for a living, but he also scours specialty stores for parts to keep the 1930s-era plumbing in his Pleasantville home in working order. Old family portraits look down on him in his living room, and Chadeayne can rattle off historical anecdotes about his ancestors and the family name that came to these shores back in the late 1600s with the arrival of the French Huguenots, settlers fleeing religious persecution in the old country. Chadeayne Road in Yorktown, near the IBM facility, was named after the old family homestead.

It's a good thing for Chadeayne that he hates to throw things out. Like an odd little tube that Chadeayne came across in a desk drawer recently. Ah, he thought, what's this? Two sheets of old banknotes in $5 and $20 denominations, uncut, stamped with the name of the Ossining bank where his father, Leander, an insurance salesman, served as a trustee. Might be worth something.

Actually, those old greenbacks from 1928 might be worth a lot.

Chadeayne did a double-take when a currency dealer told him those old bucks could fetch him in the range of $20,000 or so at auction. The treasure that emerged after decades in hiding turned out to be sought after by collectors.

"I didn't think they were worth much," Chadeayne said. "My mother gave them to me for a birthday, or something. It was wrapped up tightly with tin foil in a toilet-paper roll - my mother was creative that way. They were sitting around for years; I didn't pay much attention."

To read the complete article, see: Old currency to fetch top dollar at auction (


Rich Bottles Jr. writes:
Just to let you know if you're looking for a movie to see, the new horror flick "Drag Me To ..." has a very strong numismatic theme, especially a 1929 Standing Liberty Quarter described as very rare with a strong strike. Not a film for the Young Numismatists though.

Now that's not film I'd expect to find a numismatic connection in. Has anyone else seen it? Can you tell us any more about how the coin fits in? Here's an excerpt from the movie's description on Yahoo. -Editor

Christine Brown is an ambitious L.A. loan officer with a charming boyfriend, professor Clay Dalton. Life is good until the mysterious Mrs. Ganush arrives at the bank to beg for an extension on her home loan. Should Christine follow her instincts and give the old woman a break? Or should she deny the extension to impress her boss, Mr. Jacks, and get a leg-up on a promotion? Christine fatefully chooses the latter

To read the complete article, see: Drag Me to Hell (2009) (


Matthew Boulton, so well known to numismatists for his coinage achievements, will be featured on a new banknote. -Editor
Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, made the announcement on Friday evening when he opened a new exhibition at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery: "Matthew Boulton: Selling what all the world desires".

"Just as the Bank of England plays an essential role in the economy as the United Kingdom's central bank, so too did Boulton and Watt's steam engines and their many other innovations as essential factors in the nation's Industrial Revolution," said Mr King.

Bolton and Watt banknote design

"So many of the advantages society now enjoys are due in large part to the vital role of engineering and the brilliance and foresight of people such as Boulton and Watt whose development and refinement of steam engines gave an incredible boost to the efficiency of industry."

"The unique and rare opportunity that the Bank has through its banknotes to acknowledge and promote awareness of our nation's heritage of artistic, social and scientific endeavour is an honour for us. The Bank's choice of Boulton and Watt, a reminder of the invaluable contribution from engineering and the entrepreneurial spirit to the advancement of society, I think, well reflects this."

The Boulton and Watt £50 banknote will be launched in around 18 months time.

It is the first time two portraits will appear tofether on the reverse of the note. The current portrait of The Queen, first used in 1990, will be retained on the front.

To read the complete article, see: Matthew Boulton and James Watt new faces of £50 note (


We've been following the story of the flood of fake one pound coins circulating in the U.K. Police this week raided a secluded farm, shutting down one counterfeiting operation. Below is a picture of the building and an image of a fake pound from an earlier article. -Editor
Counterfeit Pound factory A counterfeit cash-production factory and thousands of fake £1 coins have been uncovered at a farm in a quiet country village. Police discovered the coins during a raid on a building at Tonge Corner Farm in Tonge, just outside Bapchild. Police also found a machine which they believe was used to make the fake money.

Neighbours said they did not have a clue what was going on. The said they had heard what they thought was the noise of an extractor fan but nothing else. One, who asked not to be named, said not long after police cars were seen at the farm that rumours started.

Counterfeit Pound coin He said: “I used to see people come and go from the farm but never thought anything of it. “I saw the police raid the building, just loads of police cars and then the rumours started.”

He said the farm had been in the family for almost 40 years and the barn had been rented by the same person for the last five or six years.

Police confirmed that “thousands of pounds of counterfeit coins and a press machine were found” during the raid on Wednesday

To read the complete article, see: Counterfeit money factory uncovered (


This article from the Aberdeen Press and Journal of Aberdeen, Scotland highlights an unusual "dog tag" style token fashioned from a coin. Is anyone familiar with these? -Editor
Womens Royal Air Force Stewart token A 90-year-old military coin believed to have belonged to an Aberdeen war heroine has been discovered more than 3,000 miles from the Granite City.

It was found by Canadian woman Marlene Campbell who made the discovery while going through a collection of old coins belonging to her late father.

The French silver coin caught her eye after she noticed it was engraved on one side with I. Stewart and the number 22974.

It was also inscribed with W.R.A.F. (Women’s Royal Air Force) and C of E (Church of England) and had been fashioned into a “dog tag” style necklace.

Following some investigative work Mrs Campbell, 55, discovered that the coin belonged to an Isabella Stewart who joined the WRAF on October 29, 1918, at the age of 19.

Through her research, Mrs Campbell, of Richard Street, Innisfil, Ontario, also discovered that Ms Stewart had at one stage lived in Powis Place, Aberdeen.

Mrs Campbell, a bookkeeper, said it remained a mystery how the coin had come to be in her father’s collection.

Mrs Campbell is now hoping to reunite the coin with Ms Stewart’s relatives.

“I would like to return this coin to her family but don’t know where to start looking,” she added.

Anyone with information can e-mail Mrs Campbell on mc5028@rogers. com or contact the Press and Journal on 01224 343425. To read the complete article, see: Plea for help to solve coin mystery (


Amid calls for laws preventing the sale of Victoria Cross medals to parties outside of the country, the Canadian War Museum raised funds to purchase a WWI VC this week. -Editor
The Canadian government spent almost $300,000 at a controversial auction in Toronto on Monday night to buy a Victoria Cross awarded to First World War hero Robert Shankland, preventing the iconic medal from leaving the country.

Victoria Cross Shankland

A set of nine military decorations given to Shankland — who was one of the three "Valour Road" soldiers from the same Winnipeg street who earned VCs in the 1914-18 war — was sold for $288,000 to officials from the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corp., the federal Crown corporation that oversees the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

"It really is a relief," Burt told Canwest News Service minutes after the sale of Shankland's VC and the rest of his medal set. "I don't think there's a better place for it than the Canadian War Museum."

He added that the regiment had "substantial philanthropists on our side" in case a fundraising drive had been necessary to keep the medals in Canada.

The planned auction of the Victoria Cross, awarded to Shankland for "most conspicuous bravery'' in leading an attack against the Germans at Passchendaele in 1917, had prompted the federal NDP — with backing from the Royal Canadian Legion — to introduce a bill last month that would outlaw such sales in the future.

The medal set included the "very scarce" combination of Shankland's VC and his Distinguished Conduct Medal — won in 1916 for rescuing a team of Canadian stretcher bearers under enemy fire.

Shankland died in 1968 at age 80 and is buried in Vancouver.

To read the complete article, see: War Museum pays $288K to buy Victoria Cross (


Reed, Abe Lincoln Images This week's Featured Web Site is the archive video of the recent Abraham Lincoln: The Image of His Greatness booksigning with author Fred Reed.

The video is in four parts. (The discussion also includes Marc Egnal talking about his recent Lincoln book, Clash of Extremes.)

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