Volume 13, Number 28, July 11, 2010
Among our new subscribers this week are Nik Sharplin and Jeff Burke, courtesy of David Sklow, and John Farnham. Welcome aboard! We now have 1,361 subscribers.
This week we open with updates on two numismatic literature auctions, a new book announcement and two book reviews. Other topics include the "Our Colored Heroes" medal, target coins, restoring faded leather book covers, new interviews with U.S. Mint personnel, and the PDSA Gold medal.
Thanks to John Salyer for uploading a number of this week's images. To learn about the Ancient Coin Museum of Beijing, the History of Mail Bombs and the Automated Librarian Machine, read on. Have a great week, everyone!
Ray Czahor's Cookie jar Collectibles Mail Bid Sale XII offers over 250 lots of numismatic literature covering the Philippines, China, Asia, WWII and other subjects. See lots 1-250 and 2326-2365. The sale closes August 31, 2010. Here are a few descriptions and images Ray provided at my request. -Editor
Lot 1 Petrov, Vladimir, "Money and Conquest Allied Occupation Currencies in World War II" 1967. Hard cover w/dustcover. Published by John Hopkins University. Detailed analysis of Allies monetary policies, including allied military currencies and MPCs. Separate chapters to cover North Africa & France; Italy, and Germany. The disagreements how to handle monetary policy in Post War Germany between the British, US, and Soviets. The chapter on the American Black Market in Germany is quite revealing.
Lot 165 POW Philippines: Lawton, Manny. "Some Survived" 1984. Hard cover, 295 pages. The book details the experiences of a 23 year old US Army Captain who endured the Bataan Death March, various POW Philippine camps and then was sent by ship to Japan and Korea labor camps. Eight pages of photos plus the Appendix lists the names and states of 1607 POWs sent to Japan/Korea camps, of which less than 400 survived.
Lot 28 Mao, King On. "History of Chinese Paper Currency, Volume 1" 1968. Hard cover w/slightly torn dustcover, 792 pages. Covers Chinese paper currency issued by the Central Bank, 1921 -1965. In English. Detailed descriptions of both front and back of all notes issued by the various banks during the period. Many descriptions also have photos of the associated notes. Values of the notes as of publication are given in the last 9 pages of the book.
Lot 29 Mao, King-On. "History of Chinese Paper Currency,Volume II: Occidental Banks in China from 1854 -1973" 1977. Hard cover, 549 pages. Some pages are loose. Contains exceptional photos & descriptions of both front and back of notes issued by other than Chinese banks. Valuations are given with each note but an updated valuations list at the front of the book. Printing totals are given when known.
Lot 194 Peace Museum. "War of Paper (Propaganda)" 1990. Stiff cover w/ illustrated dustcover, 224 pages. Hundreds of examples of propganda used by Japan on the US, its Allies, and Moslem countries. In Japanese reads back to front, right to left. The first two sections show the leaflets written in English used against the US. Other sections show examples used in Korea, China, and SEA countries. About half the examples are in full color.
To visit the Cookie Jar web site, see: mysite.verizon.net/cookiejarpi
Fred Lake forwarded this reminder about his upcoming sale of numismatic literature. -Editor
A reminder that our mail-bid sale of numismatic literature #103 featuring duplicates from the library of William A. Burd will close on Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 5:00 PM (EDT). You may view the catalog at www.lakebooks.com/current.html .
You may place your bids via email, fax or telephone to the address shown below.
Dick Hanscom of Alaska Rare Coins in Fairbanks has published an expanded edition of his book: "Striking Gold in Alaska: Making Tokens from Placer Gold". We announced the first edition way back in January 2010. Here's the press release, followed by the introduction to the 2nd edition. Included in this expanded edition are Dick's new screw press, calculations Eric Holcomb assisted with, and references to The E-Sylum. -Editor
This 73 page paper bound book (8¼ by 5 3/8 inches) is fully illustrated in black and white with color covers. It follows the process from purchasing placer gold, preparing the gold for striking, engraving the dies and striking. Formulas are given for fluxes, specific gravity and determining the size of the tokens. Sources of supplies and equipment are listed.
Additional information is included for the drop hammer and screw press. New sections include A Little Physics, X-Ray Fluorescence and current mintages.
The price is $14 postpaid from Alaska Rare Coins, P.O. Box 72832, Fairbanks, AK 99707
INTRODUCTION TO THE 2ND EDITION
Why a 2nd edition so soon?
1) The 1st edition is sold out (well, they are gone but not all sold).
With the nature of the publishing industry today, short printings are now possible at affordable prices. This allows someone with a book due for financial failure to limit his losses, and still stroke his ego to see it in print.
I do not believe there are any changes in the Narrative section. Changes and additions can be found in Making the Dies and Striking sections. Additional information on the Drop Hammer and Screw Press is included. New sections include, A Little Physics, X-Ray Fluorescence and Current Mintages.
Some photos have changed as my work space has evolved, adding a screw press and a rebuilt drop hammer.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NEW BOOK: STRIKING GOLD IN ALASKA BY DICK HANSCOM (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n05a04.html)
Earlier this year BNR Press published World War II Finance: Canada and Newfoundland by Dick Dunn, Dan Freeland and Harold Kroll. The 48-page softcover book is the size and shape of a glossy magazine issue, bound with staples. It's very well illustrated with large color images throughout.
The three authors are avid collectors of the described material, Canadian and Newfoundland war bonds, saving certificates and other fiscal material related to the funding of World War II expenses. The listed items are priced. Items known to have been issued, but not accounted for in any of the collections examined are unpriced.
This is an obscure collecting area not well documented anywhere before the massive 1995 Schwan-Boling work, World War II Remembered. For collectors and students of World War II numismatics, this should be an interesting library addition. Covered are Canadian bonds, ephemera associated with their issuance, and related items such as War Savings certificates, scrip and stamps. Newfoundland is given a similar cataloging treatment.
The publisher maintains a web site where readers can find updated, corrections, revisions and other noticed relating to the book. See www.papermoneyworld.net/Canada .
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NEW BOOK: WORLD WAR II FINANCE: CANADA AND NEWFOUNDLAND (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n21a09.html)
Michael E. Marotta submitted the following review of the new book on Gold by Garrett and Bowers. -Editor
"Gold: Everything You Need to Know to Buy and Sell Today" by Jeff Garrett and Q. David Bowers (Forward by Kenneth Bressett), 120 pages, $12.95.
A grammarian will insist that there is no such thing as “more perfect” (the U.S. Constitution to the contrary notwithstanding). A numismatist (at least an American one) will remind the grammarian that there are ten grades of Uncirculated. Those boundaries limit criticism of this excellent book.
Anyone who learned their economics by reading Ludwig von Mises will find the occasional error, perhaps the “bagmarks” of our publicly-financed educational systems. That does not detract from the luster of this book’s illustrations, the sharpness of its prose, or the rare presentation of so much information in such a compact form.
The ten pockets of tipped-in ephemera relate generally to the nine chapters of narrative. In the pockets are:
The chapter titles are: “Gold: What is it and Why is it so valuable?”; “The Recent Gold Boom”; “Selling Your Gold”; “Buying Gold”; “Deal With the Experts”; “Avoiding Counterfeit and Altered Gold Coins”; “Quick Answers to Frequently Asked Questions”; “Glossary of Gold-Related Terms”; and “More Resources”. However, the chapter titles belie the wealth of related data assigned to each heading. For instance under “Buying Gold,” (the longest chapter, running 32 pages) in addition to the Ganz essay, the Bibliography, and Executive Order 6102, is a case study on grading Liberty Head Half Eagles. After all, when buying coins, grade can be more important than bullion value.
While the emphasis throughout is on nominally common bullion coins, the lavish illustrations include the gold of Lydia, Syracuse, Carthage, and England, as well as Barber’s “Amazonian” $20 of 1872 and the U.S. Assay Commission Medal of 1918. Setting aside the buying and selling of a commodity, this is also a pictorial of gold coins as a medium of fine art.
Like all Whitman books, this one is priced to sell. At $12.95, it can be an easy gratuity for a bullion dealer to give a reliable client, and also be the best choice for the novice customer to buy.
The slipcase displays well on the bookshelf and will protect this octavo for decades to come. Not so assured are the fates of the ephemera. Little things such they are destined to be lost, increasing the value of the survivors.
This style of book is rare, the design intent being artistic, not merely utilitarian. More efforts like this would support books as an aesthetic medium. One reason that this little charmer is affordable is that it was produced in China. That fact, too, reflects the attractive gleam of gold.
There not much I can add to Mike's excellent review, except to second his motion that this is a great little book, both useful and attractive. I would recommend it to anyone holding, investing in, or selling gold in any form. The tables are extremely useful - it's like being given the keys to the coin dealer's castle. The weight conversion tables and tables such as "Melt values of Gold Jewelry and Scrap, per pennyweight" level the playing field for gold transactions. Buyers and sellers can "trust, but verify" what the other party is offering.
The short section on counterfeits is made very useful by the inclusion of charts listing the proper size, weights and tolerances of U.S. gold coins. The advice for readers is brief, but spot-on, including close-up illustrations of weak lettering, bubbles, tool marks and other tell-tale signs.
As a bibliophile I appreciate the inclusion of a reproduction of the 1933 Executive Order ordering citizens to turn in their gold. It's properly marked "Reproduction" at the bottom. I've never seen a real one of these, so I wonder if the size is accurate. Could someone cut off the bottom margin and peddle the flyer as real?
Anyway, congratulations to Whitman for taking a chance on an unusual format - I think this one works very well. -Editor
Dennis Tucker of Whitman publishing forwarded the following background on how coin prices are developed for the "Red Book", A Guide Book of United States Coins. Thanks! -Editor
There's been some conversation on the web forums recently about how Red Book pricing is derived.
Whitman Publishing has a sophisticated online system that can be accessed by the Red Book's pricing contributors. These contributors include more than 140 of the nation's top coin dealers and researchers-active experts who buy, sell, trade, and study U.S. coins every business day of the year. (And for most of these folks, that includes weekends, too!)
Our contributors analyze the retail and auction markets, and draw upon their firsthand knowledge, to come up with current pricing. First they focus on the series they specialize in, and then other series that they actively sell. All of this data goes into Whitman's master database. A report is generated presenting all of the data-thousands of price points, covering more than 6,000 individual coins and sets.
This master report is then carefully studied by two separate groups of pricing finalizers coordinated by Red Book editor Kenneth Bressett and valuations editor Jeff Garrett. The finalizers use decades of experience in numismatics to arrive at their final prices for each coin; they don't simply take an average of all the prices submitted by contributors.
Thanks to the Internet and lightning-fast communications, the Red Book's valuations are as current as possible when they go to press. Our contributors and editors keep an eye on the markets up to (and slightly beyond) the annual Florida United Numismatists show (the first major U.S. coin show held each year, in early January). They have time to adjust the book's pricing to reflect auctions and retail activity at the FUN show. When the Red Book debuts a few weeks later, its pricing is as fresh as possible.
THE BOOK BAZARRE
Dawn Bell of Geoffrey Bell Auctions writes:
We have some documents and ephemera in our July 15th Royal Canadian Numismatic Association auction. The Bank Documents are lots 1422-1425, where the Ephemera is in lots 1426 to 1439. You can view the lots starting at the following link: www.icollector.com/Bank-of-Upper-Canada_i9548786 .
Alan V. Weinberg writes:
I'm quite familiar with this approx 38 mm brass medal as I've owned perhaps three or four over the decades and seen it at shows and occasionally on eBay. It is indeed scarce - I'd estimate the known population at easily less than 75 pieces. Although it is looped at the top for suspension, I've never seen it with an attached ribbon or suspension bar.
My guess is it was struck by Whitehead & Hoag Newark, N.J. although it only says in tiny letters "Pat. Applied For."
There are a very few other metallic and celluloid pinback novelties pertaining to black Americans serving in the two World Wars - I'd estimate a total of perhaps 10-15 different items, not alot. Market value of this WWI medal to a knowledgable collector? - probably about $65. Were this a U.S. coin, it'd be worth $10,000+ based on its rarity. This is one of the pleasures of collecting affordable and rare exonumia.
Gar Travis writes:
You are welcome to share selected links below with our readers and all with Mr. Broyard. I have had an interest of Black American history since eighth grade and was a member of the NAACP for a number of years.
A guide to looking for information about World War I army veterans.
The links below are excellent research tools for Black American history in WWI.
A recommended book:
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: WWI MEDAL FOR "OUR COLORED HEROES" (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n27a12.html)
David Lange submitted these thoughts and images about the coin albums produced by the Coin & Currency Institute. -Editor
I've been following the discussion of Coin & Currency Institute publications, and I've seen no mention of my favorites---its line of coin albums. The Friedbergs stocked the numerous coin franchises that once were common in department and discount stores around the country but disappeared during the 1980s. To facilitate the sale of popular US and Canadian coins in these venues the C&CI published its much loved Library of Coins albums (1958-71) and their less costly junior companions, the Treasury of Coins (1961-63).
I've been collecting and cataloging both for many years, and a complete listing of titles, editions and varieties will be in my forthcoming book on coin albums. This is still a couple years away, but the C&CI portion of the catalog is already completed.
The Library of Coins albums, though out of print for 40 years now, remain popular with old school collectors. This is one of the few lines of obsolete coin albums still being sought for housing coins. From my perspective they are now collectibles in their own right, and I buy them as such, but I receive strong bidding competition for any titles relating to Bust and Seated Liberty coins, as well as Canadian titles. It doesn't seem to matter that Dansco offers new albums of superior quality for all of these same coins; the old timers still want their LOC albums.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: MORE PUBLICATIONS OF THE COIN AND CURRENCY INSTITUTE (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n27a18.html)
THE BOOK BAZARRE
E-Sylum readers can locate numismatic connections not matter how obscure. Bob Evans submitted these thoughts and photos inspired by an earlier E-Sylum topic. -Editor
The recent E-Sylum discussion about the possible Annie Oakley target coin has prompted me to write concerning other American marksman target coins, and to call the readers' attention to numismatic connections in an unusual place, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming.
My wife Jane and I visited this large and intriguing museum in 2008, as part of our vacation to Yellowstone and the surrounding area. The museum has a fine display of Annie Oakley material. There are no target coins shown as evidence of her skills, but another case has a display of coins shot up by one Dr. W. F. (“Doc”) Carver. (See photos - please pardon the glare off the case and the coins.)
According to the label explaining the Exhibit:
“Dr. W. F. Carver (1840 – 1927) was a Nebraska dentist noted for his sharpshooting. In 1883 he was Buffalo Bill’s partner for the first season of the Wild West show. Later he gave shooting exhibitions and starred in his own and other shows.
Doc Carver’s famous saddle is decorated with U.S. and foreign coins, shot by Carver during his arena act.”
Sure enough, the saddle has a decorative extension of the back panel with many Morgan dollars and other silver coins pierced by gunshots: a wonderful piece of western Americana. The coins in Carver's saddle include foreign silver, so this supports the idea that the "Annie Oakley" French copper cannot be dismissed because of the nationality of the coin.
The label on the statue reads:
James E. Fraser (1876 – 1953)
Jane was very understanding as I marveled over these unexpected numismatic wonders in a museum we visited because of our interest in horses.
It's amazing what numismatic connections readers of The E-Sylum turn up. I've got to say, this is the largest collection of shot-thru coins I've ever seen. Thanks! -Editor
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: RERUN: HISTORY DETECTIVES TACKLE PURPORTED ANNIE OAKLEY COIN (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n26a11.html)
It's been a while since we've covered the topic of book preservation and restoration. Steve Frank posted a question to the Colonial Coins Yahoo group this week. At my request he forwarded an image of the book in question and I edited his comments for The E-Sylum. Any suggestions for his problem? Is sun fading irreversible? -Editor
I recently picked up a nice leatherbound, gilt-edged book for not much more than I would have paid for a regular hard cover version. It's a copy of E.M. Kelly's Spanish Dollars and Silver Tokens that was presented to the governor of the Bank of England. The binding was done by Sangorski and Sutcliffe.
Aside from the faded area where smaller books were pressed against it, the book is pristine. Is there a way to bring the color back? Is there something you can rub in to bring out the original color??
We have a few people in our group who routinely have their rare books re-bound and when new books are published with the option of leather, take that option. I assume these people know how to store their books properly, but with all the effort we've spent on learning the best way to store our coins we have spent little time talking about our books, so I thought it would be a good question to ask.
To prevent the problem in the first place, I warned our members to keep their books out of direct sunlight and if possible, put something against the entire surface so the leather ages evenly.
I'd appreciate any suggestions and answers your group has, and would like to forward them to my coin groups. Thanks!
Dick Johnson offers these thoughts on an obscure occupation with a numismatic connection: the itinerant engraver. -Editor
In the 19th century we observe the existence of hand engravers moving from town to town to ply their craft. Victor Brenner did this in Lithuania before he came to America. In New York City he found ample work in that one city. He only left New York to travel to Paris to study (under Louis Roty), or later, to travel to Maine for a honeymoon or vacations.
However in 19th century America there arose the itinerant engraver. The cities of Boston, New York and Philadelphia had full time engravers with full time work. In other cities often the amount of engraving work did not justify an engraver staying put in one local. Thus the hand engraver would pack his bag of burins and chisels and travel around taking what engraving work -- any kind of engraving -- wherever he could find it. It gives true meaning to the term "journeyman."
For the most part this was monogramming silverware for wealthy families, but could also include engraving nameplates for doors, pews and coffins. Infrequently this would include cutting a die for a storecard, campaign medal or trade token. And this enterprise becomes evident when we see a list of work of a single engraver whose signed pieces would include tokens and medals for merchants or clients in other than the engraver's known city.
Usually the engraver returns to his home city. On rare instances he would relocate permanently. Engraver Charles Stubenrauch worked first in New York City with family members in the jewelry business, relocated to Saint Louis (1859-ca1875) but relocated again to San Antonio, perhaps on such an itinerant trip.
1853 Crystal Palace So-Called Dollar by Charles Stubenrauch
Image from www.so-calleddollars.com
Another engraver was active in Chicago for the 1892-93 Worlds Fair. Three medals were engraved by engraver Blumenfeld (full name unknown). These were Eglit numbers 21, 321 and 449. Perhaps he caught the fair bug because he shows up the following year in San Francisco for the California Midwinter Exposition, where he engraved medals HK 246 and 247.
And this brings to mind a question or two for the collective knowledge of E-Sylum readers. In Chicago he signed his pieces with his name and the enigmatic letters "P.O.C." In San Francisco he added the initials "S.F.C ." to his signature.
Questions: What was his full name? And what do these initials stand for?
In addition, Dick has the following numismatic vocabulary comment on an item in last week's issue. -Editor
From an ANA Press Release:
"Numismatic Theatre, held throughout the show, lets ANA members discuss their research and ideas in lecture format. Many talks focus on the convention’s host region. This year’s presentations include “Engraver and Patriot: Paul Revere, the Man and the Medallion” by convention medal artist Jamie Franki; and an early U. S. minting technology panel discussion with Dr. Richard Doty, Brad Karoleff, R.W. Julian and Douglas Mudd."
I am not picking on Jamie Franki, but someone should tell him a "medallion" is greater than 80mm.
The correct term for his Paul Revere medal is "medal."
An E-Book Compatible E-SYLUM
I use the web version of The E-Sylum to create a pdf file that I can read on my Sony E-reader. That way I can see the illustrations along with the text.
John provided me with a couple sample E-Sylum issues in .pdf format. If anyone would like to try them, let me know. If there is enough demand we can investigate making this format available each week.
An English Hammered Coin Forger?
Last week The E-Sylum featured website (grunalmoneta) offers for sale an astonishing range of, apparently unmarked as such, forgeries of hammered British coins. I am certain that it was not your intention to promote the sale of counterfeit coins, but that is in effect what occurred.
We've mentioned Dave Greenhalgh and Grunal Moneta before, most recently when his latest book was published by Galata Press in April 2010. Paul Withers wrote:
The research for this guide involved him travelling to over 130 museums throughout the UK and the rest of Europe to study, record and photograph their holdings of relevant coins. He was also privileged to view important private and trade collections which were not normally available to view.
Some people will know the author better as Grunal, or Dave the Moneyer from his appearances as a moneyer in full kit, making coins at the Tower of London, the British Museum, or a dozen and one other places.
His coins may be great replicas, but there's nothing clandestine about his work.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NEW BOOK: THE GALATA GUIDE TO MEDIEVAL HALF GROATS (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n17a06.html)
Artist Ryan Gander's $25 Quarter
London artist, Ryan Gander, will have exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum, starting Oct. 1, 2010. Included in the exhibit is a bronze $25.00 coin minted by a coin-maker. It's supposed to be his comment on what a quarter will be worth in 2027 because of inflation. I have no comment on the validity of any of his "art."
Kay included a link to the piece about Gander in The New York Times. The mention is at the bottom of the third article on the page. -Editor
To read the complete article, see: Fresh Perspective on Familiar Pop Master (www.nytimes.com/2010/07/09/arts/design/09vogel.html)
What About Coin Bombs?
The History of Mail Bombs Philatelic & Historical Study by Dale Speirs
The first recorded mail bomb was in 1764 in Denmark. A mail bomb is known from 1881 in Australia, and in 1895 a letter bomb was sent to Baron de Rothschild in France, which exploded when he opened it. Letter bombs and package bombs continue to date. 2010, 128 page card, 60 pages in color
The June 2010 issue of the John Reich Journal has a short article by Henry Hilgard about an interesting piece of obsolete paper money illustrating a U.S. half dollar. Editor Brad Karoleff kindly forwarded the illustrations and text for use here in The E-Sylum. Thanks! Here's a substantial excerpt. -Editor
An Attributable Bust Half Image on an 1837 Tennessee Note
At the Whitman Baltimore Expo coin show in November, 2009, Stuart Levine brought out an amazing Tennessee exchange note that depicts the reverse of a capped bust half dollar in full mirror image (Figures 1 and 2). Stu insisted that the image had been taken directly from a genuine bust half dollar, and he asked for some attribution help.
Because the note was issued in 1837, it seemed logical to start with the reverses of 1836, the last year of the capped bust half dollar. Out came the Overton book, but there were no matches for 1836. And similarly, no matches for 1835, 1834, or 1833. But just as hope was fading, along came 1832 reverse C, used only (so far as we know) on the Overton 103 variety. That was it! David Kahn carefully studied the note and confirmed the attribution.
This remarkable note was lot # 4424 in Stack’s auction of the Lawrence R. Stack Collection of Numismatic Images on American Paper Currencies (January 15, 2008).
By what method was the mirror image of reverse C of 1832 transferred to this note? Bruce Hagen, who wrote the catalog description for this note, has suggested that the half dollar was inserted, reverse up, directly into a woodblock plate and left there during the printing of the note from the plate. If this were the case, it would certainly explain the presence of the mirror image.
What a pleasure it was to study this rare note, in exceptional condition, from a fascinating era in U.S. history, bearing an image of an attributable capped bust half dollar!
For more information on the John Reich Collectors Society (JRCS), see: www.jrcs.org
Tony Hine forwarded this article by Nicholas Basbanes, the author of a wonderful book on bibliophilia, A Gentle Madness. -Editor
What better way for bibliophiles to observe the Fourth of July than to reflect a bit on the legendary passion the author of the Declaration of Independence had for his books, and for the care he took not only in selecting them, but in one amusing instance, expressing his regrets to a hopeful bookseller trying to make a sale.
Thomas Jefferson's best known comment on the subject--"I cannot live without books"--was confided in a letter to John Adams in 1815, and has been celebrated on everything from coffee mugs to T-shirts. (I used it myself fifteen years ago as one of four epigraphs for A Gentle Madness.) But in another letter written four years earlier Jefferson made clear that while books certainly were essential to his sanity and well-being, he was not about to read everything that might come his way.
Responding to a query submitted to him by his friend Thomas Law to subscribe his name for a translation of a French atlas of the world then in preparation, Jefferson wrote a lengthy letter of considerable wit that expressed why such a purchase made little sense for him. It begins thusly:
"I am now entered on my 69th year. The tables of mortality tell me I have 7 years to live. My bibliomany has possessed me of perhaps 20,000 volumes. Of these there are probably 1000 which I would read, of choice, before I should the historical, genealogical, chronological, & geographical Atlas of M. Le Sage. But it is also probable I shall decamp before I get through 50. of them,. Why then add an unit to the 19,950 which I shall never read? To encourage the work?"
To read the complete article, see:
Thomas Jefferson's 'Bibliomany'
Tony Hine also forwarded a link to this interesting (and lengthy) essay by Nathan Schneider about books, real and virtual, and what is lost in going online. Here are some excerpts. -Editor
What concerns me about the literary apocalypse that everybody now expects—the at least partial elimination of paper books in favor of digital alternatives—is not chiefly the books themselves, but the bookshelf. My fear is for the eclectic, personal collections that we bookish people assemble over the course of our lives, as well as for their grander, public step-siblings. I fear for our memory theaters.
Yates takes us back to the Greeks, who held memory to be the plumbing of one’s soul, a vital tether between the sensory world and the eternal forms. They knew that Mnemosyne, memory’s personification, was by Zeus the mother of all the muses. The Greeks and then the Romans created imaginary edifices by which they could carry entire speeches, taxonomies, and epics in their heads.
The decline of actual, physical book-publishing has been taking longer than it was supposed to. Way back in 1992 Robert Coover announced in The New York Times that printed books were as “dead as God.” His doomsday was premature. But the digital offerings of Amazon and Google, along with their ever-better delivery devices, promise that finally the end may be nigh. Crotchety complaints about screen-reading aside, it should be obvious to anyone who cares about information that in many respects digital text is a superior technology to the printed page.
Now our job is to figure out how to be cleverer than the search engine; when certain ways of finding information become easy, the knowledge really worth having becomes what those methods don’t turn up, what the crawlers somehow managed to miss. As the Temple of Knowledge comes to look ever more like the Googleplex, public libraries are downsizing their reference desks, presuming that for every query an internet search will suffice.
Libraries absolutely cannot keel over and let Google replace them. They are our collective bookshelves, the memory theater for a community.
To read the complete article, see: In Defense of the Memory Theater (www.openlettersmonthly.com/in-defense-of-the-memory-theater/)
We've discussed coin cabinets before. Here's one found to be filled with a great collection after it had lain untouched for over thirty years. The article is from the UK's The Star newspaper. -Editor
FOR 30 years it was just another piece of furniture, until a family had a clear-out - and discovered a treasure chest. The mahogany box which had gathered dust at Keith Beddingfield's Dronfield home had lain untouched for so long the keys had been lost.
So the first action when he took it to ELR Auctions was to call in a locksmith.
The case comprised 24 slim drawers which held a staggering 1,500 rare coins dating back to the Roman Empire - many made of silver and gold.
Drawer after drawer revealed a glittering hoard which delighted and amazed even the experts.
The stash included Roman dinari from the reigns of Augustus, Caligula and Considius among others, a C13 British die-struck silver penny marked Alex III, and a 1772 Bolivian silver doubloon worthy of any pirate.
The wide-ranging collection also includes native Indian coins from before the Raj, and Dutch, African and Uruguayan discs of note.
There were even some American Confederate army paper notes.
But pride of place for quality went to a big silver British coin from 1818, in mint condition, while the jewel in the crown for value was a Newfoundland two dollar gold piece from 1870 - thought to be worth at least £1,000.
Mr Beddingfield, aged 71, said he had no idea of the value of the collection - which is expected to fetch between £6,000 and £12,000 when it goes under the hammer next month - and its origin was shrouded in mystery.
He said: "I knew the box was full of coins, but it wasn't something I was interested in. It was a nice mahogany box sitting on the landing, but we hadn't opened it for at least 30 years.
The collection is believed to have been amassed by his great-grandfather, named McCreadie, from Leith. He was a founder of McCreadie and Evans accountants which was on Church Street, Sheffield.
To read the complete article, see:
Family's antique box reveals treasure trove
THE BOOK BAZARRE
Dave Sundman and Dick Hanscom forwarded this article from the BBC News. -Editor
The hoard of more than 52,000 coins dating from the 3rd Century AD was found buried in a field near Frome in Somerset.
The coins were found in a huge jar just over a foot (30cm) below the surface by Dave Crisp, from Devizes in Wiltshire.
Since the discovery in late April, experts from the Portable Antiquities Scheme at the British Museum have been working through the find.
The coins were all contained in a single clay pot. Although it only measured 18in (45cm) across, the coins were packed inside and would have weighed an estimated 160kg (350lb).
"I don't believe myself that this is a hoard of coins intended for recovery," says Sam Moorhead from the Portable Antiquities Scheme.
"I think what you could see is a community of people who are actually making offerings and they are each pouring in their own contribution to a communal ritual votive offering to the gods."
It is estimated the coins were worth about four years' pay for a legionary soldier.
"Because Mr Crisp resisted the temptation to dig up the coins, it has allowed archaeologists from Somerset County Council to carefully excavate the pot and its contents," said Anna Booth, local finds liaison officer.
To read the complete article, see: Huge Roman coins find for hobbyist (news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk/10546960.stm)
Stu Williams writes:
What a wonderful opportunity to study a complete hoard of this magnitude. This could be very useful for mint and dielink studies. Reading the article I think they meant 'radiates' and wonder what part of the 3rd century they date from - that makes a huge difference. Stuart.
Thankfully there are good treasure trove laws in Britain. If that happened here in Ireland the hoard would have been secretly dispersed and the potential knowledge to be gained would have been lost. There is no incentive in Ireland to report archaeological finds only the threat of severe punishment by draconian laws, if found out.
Arthur Shippee found this related Associated Press article in the New York Times via Reuters. Dick Johnson found it in the Washington Post. Thanks! -Editor
Some of the coins are stamped with the image of Marcus Aurelius Carausius a military commander who seized power in the late third century and proclaimed himself emperor of Britain and northern Gaul.
Carausius who ruled from AD 286 to AD 293 was the first emperor to strike coins in Britain.
"This find presents us with an opportunity to put Carausius on the map," said Bland.
"School children across the country have been studying Roman Britain for decades, but are never taught about Carausius -- our lost British emperor."
To read the complete article, see: Big Roman Coin Hoard Found In Britain (www.nytimes.com/reuters/2010/07/08/test/life-us-britain-coins.html)
Max Spiegel found an article about the hoard on CNN.com. It was the first I'd seen to place a value on the find, and it has some GREAT pictures. Follow the article link to see more. -Editor
Dave Crisp, a hospital chef, came across the buried treasure while searching for "metal objects" in a field near Frome, Somerset in southwestern England.
To read the complete article, see: Amateur unearths 52,000 Roman coins worth $1m (www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/07/09/uk.roman.coin.treasure/)
One good blog article deserves another. Last week we published excerpts from Jason Cochran's interviews with U.S. Mint personnel. This week we have another nice article from Daniel Terdiman's Geek Gestalt blog. Thanks to Dick Johnson for pointing it out (his son found it). -Editor
From a technology standpoint, it's a good thing I'm here now, rather than, say, 10 years ago. That's because about five years ago, the Mint transitioned from a purely manual production process of engraving in clay to one in which much of the work is done using off-the-shelf software tools like Adobe's Illustrator and Photoshop, plus a few others. Of course, from the perspective of a numismatic enthusiast--or as one of my hosts here put it, a "mint nerd"--it probably would have been better to be here when everything was still done by hand.
The good thing about transitioning to tools like Illustrator and Photoshop is that it allows the designers to fix things whenever they want. In the past, a mistake meant starting over and doing an entire drawing again.
Now, errors are easily fixed, and the digital tools let the designers do all kinds of neat tricks that were never possible before: look at 3D models of a future coin, alter their perspective, change angles, maneuver a coin any way they want, and more.
That's critical, Mercanti said, because when crafting a new coin, or any of the commemorative medals made at the the Mint, the "tolerances" the designers are working with are measured in the thousandths of an inch. Indeed, he said that being even one-thousandth of an inch off is tantamount to a Mt. Everest-size mistake, and can mean that the metal in the coin may not flow properly, or that the coin's too hard to manufacture.
The blog includes a great YouTube video interview with Joseph Menna showing how designs that start off as two-dimensional images in standard tools like Photoshop are converted to 3D models the designer can physically sculpt using special-purpose tools including a video game controller. This ain't your grandfather's Mint!
For those whose email readers support it, below is an embedded version of the video. If you can't see or run it, go to the blog web page (link below). -Editor
These days, that level of production means investing in the latest tools, and in recent years, the Mint has invested millions in new presses, CNC machines, and software. In addition to Illustrator and Photoshop, the Mint also relies on software like Freeform and Z Brush for 3D sculpting. The former works in conjunction with a haptic arm (see the video below) that allows designers to get physical feedback when digitally "sculpting," much as they would if they were using engraving tools on clay.
To read the complete article, see: From metal to money: Making America's coins (news.cnet.com/8301-13772_3-20009915-52.html)
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: INTERVIEWS WITH U.S. MINT PERSONNEL (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n27a23.html)
THE BOOK BAZARRE
Canadian paper money collectors will be focusing on Saint John, New Brunswick July 15th. The first lot of the evening, Lot #956, of the Geoffrey Bell Auctions sale will feature the finest 1925 Dominion of Canada $500 to ever come into the market. Only 8 examples are known and this particular banknote is graded almost uncirculated and includes a one of a kind signature combination.
It is anticipated the note could break a world record for Canadian banknotes bringing $250,000 to $350,000. Geoffrey Bell Auctions is headquartered in Saint John and will auction the historic specimen during the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association convention being held at the Saint John Convention Centre July 14 to 17.
For more information or to take part in the auction visit www.gbellauctions.com
In this technical article published July 5th, Dr Glenn Wood of the International Hologram Manufacturers Association looks at some of the latest developments in banknote security technology. -Editor
Today, holographic technology remains very much to the fore as part of an array of overt features which make it quick and easy for people to recognise whether or not a banknote is bonafide. But new substrate technology, particularly the introduction of transparent ‘windows’ is being incorporated on banknotes to provide new levels of anti-counterfeiting complexity.
The commemorative 1,000 Tenge note produced by Papierfabrik Louisenthal for Kazakhstan and launched earlier this year takes optical sophistication to a new level. Not only does it feature a hologram showing typical rainbow colours but a small microlenticular patch viewed by transmission. The system is called Varifeye® and combines the best features of paper and polymer.
Previously, a deckle-edge window was created in the paper substrate during the process of cylinder-mould web formation as the stock fibers collect against the deckle, leading to the characteristic feather look. Latterly, the window has been cut into the paper after laminating to a polymeric layer. Then a clear stripe of film is laminated over it running from top to bottom of the note. The clear stripe contains the microlenticular image of a camel interchanging with the letter ‘K’ when tilted.
This feature can be viewed by transmission through the window. There is also a demetallised holographic image of the Astana Baiterek monument above the text ‘Organisation for Security & Co-operation in Europe’, interchanging with the date 2010 which are viewed by reflection where it falls over the paper. (This technology was first used on the Bulgarian lev banknotes in 2005, becoming the world’s first paper notes with see through window).
For polymeric substrates, the Bank of Australia has developed its Non-diffractive Switching Image (NSI). This appears like a dynamic watermark in the clear window of a polymer-based note. Being non-diffractive, the images are seen in varying shades of grey rather than rainbow colours and switching of the image elements occurs by rotation rather than tilting.
One way or another, it seems that the window technology now becoming available to printers of banknotes is here to stay. Formerly, the opaque nature of security printing paper only allowed a watermark to be seen by transmission but most holograms are, by nature, transmissive and are rendered reflective by applying a metal coating. Once the opportunity is presented to allow them to be seen by transmission, as in a window, the opportunities for an optical tour de force are increased. This renders the note more visually attractive to inspectors and consumers and more difficult to simulate by counterfeiters.
To read the complete article, see:
New holographic technology has designs on banknote security
Here's a numismatic museum western numismatourists might like to check out: the Ancient Coin Museum of Beijing, China. -Editor
On a treasure hunt for the old mysteries of Beijing, visitors to the Ancient Coin Museum have hit the jackpot. Located right inside the Desheng gate tower in Xicheng district, the museum has been around for nearly 20 years, but few people even know it's there. Although it's only 300 square meters big, it covers ancient Chinese currencies from the Shang Dynasty in 1600 BC to the early 20th century with around 4,000 relevant collections.
The currency on display runs the gamut from the earliest examples made of seashells to more recent denominations in gold, pottery and animal bones. In Chinese history, not all currencies were made by central government. For instance, ordinary people were allowed to produce coins in private for market use during the governing period of the emperor Liu Che in Han Dynasty, said Wang Peiwu, a director of the museum.
Between the Spring and Autumn (770-476 BC) and the Warring States (475-221 BC) Periods, the currencies were changed into the shape of tools like knives, shovels and wheels. Of them, some coins are just about 1 centimeter big. Some were very rare coins that were only made during a particular short period, for instance, one was made by the local warlord Liu Yuzhou, who governed Beijing during the Five Dynasties and Ten States period (907-965). That is considered to be the only one left in existence.
Some coins here were not intended for circulation, but for other purposes, like the keju coins that were presented for good luck to those who would attend the imperial examination. The coins with a dragon and phoenix were for celebrating weddings, while some with Bodhisattva pictures were for wearing on the body or hanging indoors for good luck.
One of the most interesting displays is of a collection of silver pieces or sui yin. Wang explained that in the old days, people often cut silver coins into smaller pieces to be used for change. Today such an action would be considered destruction of public property. "But then the silver coin's value was determined by its weight," Wang said. "So that wasn't 'destroying,' it was just 'making change.'"
To read the complete article, see: We're in the money (life.globaltimes.cn/travel/2010-07/548471.html)
The Union-Leader of New Hampshire published an article this week about a local merchant getting attention from customers by giving out little-used U.S. coin and paper money denominations in change. -Editor
Every day, his marketing team, which includes Thomas Jefferson and John F. Kennedy, spreads the word about his business far and wide around northern New Hampshire.
"People talk about it," said Nadig, who owns First Run Home Entertainment on Main Street in Colebrook, a one-stop for movies, deli sandwiches, pizza and ice cream.
It's all about the money.
Rather than hand out dollar bills and quarters for change, Nadig hands out $2 bills and 50-cent pieces.
It's been his practice for several years now, long enough for just about everyone in the region to know that if you proffer a $2 bill for a cup of coffee, you've been at First Run.
"I like to have fun with the customers," he said.
He first started handing out the 50-cent pieces as an easy way to make change for the cost of an ice cream cone. When the $2 bill started circulating out of his store, it gave people pause, especially the younger generation.
"Kids would look at it and ask, 'Is this real?' " he said.
Last month, another eatery, like Nadig, saw value in the quirky $2 bill. Taco Bell launched a national petition to the Federal Reserve, urging it to circulate more of the bills. The campaign coincided with the debut of its $2 meal deal.
Its Facebook page, where the petition is available, only reports 6,804 signatures.
To read the complete article, see:
Colebrook merchant makes his money work for him
Dick Johnson writes:
Our local library installed a vending machine dispensing library items in a local store. Insert a valid library card, punch in number of item you want and out it comes. A receptacle for returning the item is nearby.
Neither Dick nor I had heard of a library book vending machine before. Dick found and forwarded a press release about the project. If an ATM is an Automated Teller Machine, then this is an ALM - an Automated Librarian Machine. -Editor
The Oliver Wolcott Library was awarded a $25,000 Praxair Foundations grant and a $11,500 Seherr-Thoss Foundations grant for their project called “OWL Box”, an outreach lending machine which is essentially a vending machine filled with books, audio books, and DVDs.
“We will be the first library in Connecticut to offer this new innovative service. We are very excited about this opportunity to reach out to the residents of Bantam as well as others who may find it hard to get to the OWL during normal business hours” said Ann Marie White, Library Director.
The OWL Box will provide 24/7 access to books, audio books, and DVDs. The OWL Box acts like a vending machine where patrons from any town may insert their library card, make selections, and the item drops down for patrons to take home. Any patron in good standing with a valid library card may use the machine. Items will be rotated at least once a week, and selections will be fine-tuned based on what circulates the most.
“The OWL Box responds to the busy life of working adults and families. If it’s 6 a.m. and you’re heading to New York City, you can stop at the OWL Box to pick up an audio book for the drive. If it’s 6pm on Sunday and you suddenly have a sick child at home, you can stop by for a DVD or a picture book for bedtime” White said.
To read the complete article, see:
OWL awarded $36,500 in grants for outreach to Bantam
Loren Gatch writes:
Here's a little article about money laundering (of the benign type) in Zimbabwe. I recall reading about a similar problem in India, where the practice of storing notes on spindles creates pinholes that rapidly lead to the notes' disintegration. Short of increasing the supply of notes, it seems to me an interim solution would be to encase them in some sort of holder not unlike what was done with postage stamps in the US during the Civil War and Europe in World War I.
The washing machine cycle takes about 45 minutes — and George Washington comes out much cleaner in the Zimbabwe-style laundering of dirty money.
Low-denomination U.S bank notes change hands until they fall apart here in Africa, and the bills are routinely carried in underwear and shoes through crime-ridden slums.
Some have become almost too smelly to handle, so Zimbabweans have taken to putting their $1 bills through the spin cycle and hanging them up to dry with clothes pins alongside sheets and items of clothing.
It's the best solution — apart from rubber gloves or disinfectant wipes — in a continent where the U.S. dollar has long been the currency of choice and where the lifespan of a dollar far exceeds what the U.S. Federal Reserve intends.
Zimbabwe's coalition government officially declared the U.S. dollar legal tender last year to eradicate world record inflation of billions of percent in the local Zimbabwe dollar as the economy collapsed.
... among Africa's poor, the $1, $2, $5 and $10 bills are the most sought after. Dirty $1 bills can remain in circulation at rural markets, bus parks and beer halls almost indefinitely, or at least until they finally disintegrate.
Still, banks and most businesses in Zimbabwe do not accept torn, Scotch-taped, scorched, defaced, exceptionally dirty or otherwise damaged U.S. notes.
Zimbabweans say the U.S. notes do best with gentle hand-washing in warm water. But at a laundry and dry cleaner in eastern Harare, a machine cycle does little harm either to the cotton-weave type of paper. Locals say chemical "dry cleaning" is not recommended — it fades the color of the famed greenback.
If you ask me, I think the State Department should work with the Treasury to ship boatloads of unused U.S. dollar coins to Zimbabwe to exchange for worn-out notes for destruction. -Editor
To read the complete article, see: Zimbabweans wash dirty US dollars with soap, water (news.yahoo.com/s/ap/af_zimbabwe_money_laundering)
We've discussed the Dickin medal before - Britain's medal for animal bravery, the country's equivalent of the Victoria Cross for animals who serve in military or police duties. This article discusses the awarding of the Gold medal, the equivalent for "civilian" animals. -Editor
Frodo is a five-year-old beagle who likes barking, climbing out of windows, hurtling along his local beach like a mad thing, gobbling up leftover T-bone steaks, chewing through anything he can get his paws on, and generally being 'very, very naughty'.
He is also one of the most courageous dogs in the country.
In 2008, he saved his owner Jenny Barwise, her parents David and Annette, and her fiance Liam Towers from certain death when the family home in St Bees, Cumbria, burnt down.
And today, in front of a huge crowd of important dignitaries, TV crews from around the world and his doting mistress Jenny, naughty Frodo will be presented with the highest award for civilian animal bravery - the canine equivalent of the George Cross - by Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra, at the Tower of London.
Next to him - panting and straining on her lead and full of exuberant bounce - will be five-year-old German shepherd Anya.
Anya is a police dog who, according to her handler PC Neil Sampson, is 'big, clumsy - like a bull in a china shop - never downcast, very enthusiastic and just fantastic'.
Anya is a lifesaver, too. In January 2008, she threw herself between PC Sampson and a criminal wielding a 6in knife. She was stabbed deep in the chest - narrowly missing her vital organs - but came back for more, desperate to protect her handler as knife blows rained down on them both.
'I have absolutely no doubt she saved my life,' says PC Sampson, 50. 'For all her pretty looks, she's very, very determined.'
A third dog - a Staffordshire bull terrier called Oi - is also being honoured, but sadly she's not here to collect her award.
When a gang armed with machetes forced their way into her family's home in Thamesmead, London, brave Oi intervened. During the next few bloody minutes, one family member was injured and Oi received crushing blows to the head as she chased the gang away.
The trio follow in the pawprints of 15 other dogs who've been awarded the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) Gold Medal since its inception in 2001 - including three police explosives dogs who were honoured for their life-saving work in the aftermath of the 7/7 terrorist bombings in London in 2005.
To qualify, the animals (to date, all recipients have been dogs) must either have been instrumental in saving human or animal lives when their own lives were in danger, or to have demonstrated an outstanding devotion to duty. The award is the civilian version of the Dickin Medal, or animal Victoria Cross, which since 1943 has been awarded to 27 dogs, 32 World War II messenger pigeons, three horses and a cat called Simon.
Is there any such medal for animals in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world? -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
Where beagles dare! He eats shoes and jumps out of windows... but Frodo's owners don't care - they owe their lives to his courage
This week's Featured Web Site is Richard Greever's Token catalog.
This website project was begun in the Summer of 2006 by Richard Greever. The initial version was released in February of 2007. This website is used for many purposes:
When I first started collecting tokens, I searched the internet for information and was sadly disappointed. As my collection and interest grew, I wanted a way to keep track of my collection, but also a way to share the information I had with others. The idea of this website seemed like the ideal solution.
The website is a user contribution site. It grows as our contributors add information. It grows based on the interests of the contributors. When the website was first released, it contained only tokens from the state of Oregon and there was a single contributor. As we now close on 2008, there are over 200 registered users and more than 80,000 tokens have been listed from all 50 states (and some foreign countries).