Volume 14, Number 41, October 2, 2011
Among our new subscribers this week are Ron Alexander, William Ferry and Charles Cave. Welcome aboard! We have 1,456 email subscribers, plus 165 followers on Facebook, including Steve Cooper and Roscoe A. Shepherd.
First, a note about next week's issue. I'll be traveling next Sunday, making publishing at the normal time more difficult. I may publish a day early, so please get any replies and submissions to me early this week. But if I can't wade through the pile fast enough, the issue may be delayed until Monday night. So please be patient if your issue doesn't arrive on time.
This week we open with sale reminders from literature dealers Fred Lake and David Sklow, followed by items on five new or upcoming numismatic books. Other topics this week include an interesting coin lookalike token, hard-to-read signatures on paper money and medals, and the incredible sales rate of e-books.
To learn more about Victor Janvier, raising Rittenhouse from the dead, and the former Mint employee who “ain’t talking to nobody,” read on. Have a great week, everyone!
Fred Lake forwarded this reminder of his upcoming numismatic literature sale. -Editor
This is a reminder that our 109th mail-bid sale of numismatic literature closes on Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at 5:00 PM (EDT). The 544-lot sale features selections from the library of Dr. Allen Axenfield and encompasses all areas of the numismatic experience.
You may view the sale at www.lakebooks.com/current.html and bids may be placed until the closing time via email, fax or telephone. Good luck with your bidding. Cordially, Fred
David Sklow sent this letter out to remind bidders of his upcoming numismatic literature sale. -Editor
• Featuring the Paper Money works from the Library of Myron Xenos
Bidders may enter bids by mail, telephone, email or fax. The sale closes at 8pm mountain time, October 15, 2011, however, any bids left on our answering machines or sent by email or fax on or before midnight on closing day will be accepted. The auction catalog is viewable on our website.
David Sklow-Fine Numismatic Books
Author Mike Demling forwarded this announcement about his new book on New Jersey coppers. Congratulations! -Editor
Not since Dr. Edward Maris published his book “Coins of New Jersey” in 1881 has there been an updated work on these interesting colonial coins. The book consists of 227 pages in five chapters outlining attribution methods with charts and diagrams to assist in ones effort to determine the die varieties.
One of the most helpful aspects of the book is the last two chapters that are dedicated to the Obverse and Reverse die combinations. Each chapter shows a large photo of the specific Obverse die with its reverse die marriages. The same process is repeated in the next chapter for the Reverse / Obverse die marriages. This book is a great reference for collectors, colonial specialist, and dealers.
The book is 8 ½” x 11” spiral bound with five chapters totaling 227 pages. It’s published and sold by the author and is available at $44.95 w/ $3.95 s&h Michael Demling, PO Box 211, Linwood, NJ 08221
Dennis Tucker forwarded this release about the new edition of the Cherrypickers’ Guide. Thanks! -Editor
Whitman Publishing is releasing a new, expanded, and updated volume of the award-winning Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties of United States Coins. The fifth edition, volume II, covers half dimes to silver and modern dollars, plus gold dollars through double eagles, commemoratives, and bullion. It will be available in November 2011, online (including at www.Whitman.com) and from booksellers, hobby shops, and coin dealers nationwide, for $39.95. Longtime die-variety specialist Ken Potter has joined the Cherrypickers’ team as editor of the new volume, working with the book’s original creators, Bill Fivaz and J.T. Stanton.
“Cherrypicking” involves examining coins that look normal at first glance, but have unusual characteristics (like doubled and tripled dies, overdates, and repunched mintmarks) that can reveal a common coin to be a rare and valuable variety. The Cherrypickers’ Guide includes close-up photographs and descriptions to guide the reader, plus market information and values in multiple grades, for more than 780 varieties. Appendices include essays on types of doubling, how to examine your coins, Proof set varieties, collector clubs, recommended reading, and other beginner and advanced topics.
Accurate pricing was an important goal for editor Ken Potter. “We coordinated our pricing with input from dealers, collectors, and other hobby experts and specialists,” said Potter. “For each variety we studied retail prices, coin-show activity, and real-world auction results, in detail, in order to report the most accurate values possible.” The new volume is 32 pages longer than the fourth edition, with more than 100 new varieties.
“Most of the additions are within the popular modern series,” said Whitman publisher Dennis Tucker. “We have new Mercury dimes, more than a dozen each of new Roosevelt dimes and Kennedy half dollars, two dozen new Washington quarters, including State and National Park varieties, and new modern dollars. The entire bullion section is new, covering silver, gold, and platinum coins. And we’ve included additional varieties in the older coinage series, as well.” The Cherrypickers’ Guide can be pre-ordered online before its November rollout, including at www.Whitman.com.
The Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties of United States Coins, fifth edition, volume II
For more information, or to order, see: www.whitmanbooks.com/Default.aspx?Page=81&ProductID=0794832393
Krause Publications announced a new edition of Unusual World Coins this week. -Editor
The sixth edition of Unusual World Coins is now available from Krause Publications.
Edited by George Cuhaj and Tom Michael, the new edition is bigger and better than ever with more than 150 more pages, 1,250 new images and more than 700 new issues than the previous edition.
The classic guide to mysterious coin issues from the realms of Fantasy, the borders of Micro-Nations, the halls of Exiled Royalty, the shady backrooms of imitators, the creative minds of numismatic promoters and the shores of Islands as yet undiscovered has grown and the market for these types is hotter than ever.
Within this volume you can tap into a numismatic world sparkling with flare and enchantment, bubbling with inventiveness and simmering with independence.
In this new edition you will discover:
For more information visit www.sellcoinbooks.com/world-coin-books/unusual-world-coins-6th-edition .
In the Fall 2011 issue of his Coin Board News, David Lange writes:
Progress continues on my coin album book, which I now anticipate publishing in several volumes due to its growing size. Volume One will include the products of the Beistle Company, Wayte Raymond, Inc. and M. Meghrig & Sons. These three companies marketed essentially the same coin album over a period of 35 years, best known to collectors as the National Coin Album. The complete history and catalog of this series will be included, along with all other coin albums and folders to come from these companies.
Good luck to Dave in his research and writing on this topic. His earlier book on Coin Boards is a pioneering work, shedding light on an important and fascinating component of the coin collecting hobby. -Editor
For more information, see: coincollectingboards.net
A number of readers have been asking where to purchase copies of the new book by Frank Holt and Osmund Bopearachchi, "The Alexander Medallion. Exploring the origins of a unique artefact". According to coauthor Bopearachchi (via Kavan Ratnatunga nd Bill Daehn), "The book will be distributed by the Spinks". It is not yet on the firm's web site, but stay tuned.
Howard Cohen adds:
The ISBN number for the book is 978-2-95166-796-9
To read an earlier E-Sylum article, see: NEW BOOK: THE ALEXANDER MEDALLION BY HOLT AND BOPEARACHCHI (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v14n38a05.html)
To visit the Spink web site, see: www.spink.com
THE BOOK BAZARRE
Om the October 2011 issue of The E-Gobrecht, the electronic newsletter of the Liberty Seated Collectors Club, Len Augsburger described an 1871 token featuring the Liberty Seated figure on the obverse, purchased from John Kraljevich at the recent Whitman Philadelphia show. With permission, here's an excerpt. -Editor
The token was issued in conjunction with the 1871 New York convention of a German-American singing society. The harp on the reverse is symbolic of the musical theme, while the legends are in German. The use of the Liberty Seated figure is interesting – in this case, she is the symbol not of Liberty, but of American Liberty in particular.
The Liberty Seated figure was 35 years old on American coinage at this time, and by evoking the standard bearer of American silver money the German immigrant community acknowledged their new homeland. The token designer has thus ably incorporated important themes of the organization – music, Germanic background, and American Liberty.
While the design is noteworthy, the execution is not so much - the portrait of Liberty is somewhat crude while a reverse die break causes two strings of the harp to join together (which if you think about it would not make for a very good sounding harp). The reverse legend reads:
ALLGEMEINES SANGERFEST DES NORDOST [German Festival Singers of the Northeast]
SANGERBUNDES 12 [probably referring to the 12th such singing conference]
Thanks to John Baumgart for the photographs of this token.
John Sallay writes:
This is a little tangential to numismatics, but possibly of interest to readers of The E-Sylum… My wife saw a review in the September issue of Art & Antiques magazine describing a recently-opened art exhibition related to money and banking. The Palazzo Strozzi museum in Florence just opened “Money and Beauty: Banking, Botticelli and the Bonfire of the Vanities” on September 17, running through January 22, 2012. I’ve attached a photo of one of the paintings in the show.
There's a literature connection here, too - one of the curators wrote a book called Medici Money which was the inspiration for the exhibit. Here's an excerpt from the review. -Editor
In northern Italy in the 14th century, bankers had a problem. With the increasing sophistication of currency systems and the growth of international trade, huge new opportunities were afoot to make money by manipulating money. However, there was a catch: Lending money at interest was against the Catholic religion, whose theologians labeled it “usury,” a sin deserving damnation. Canny financiers with one eye on their coffers and the other on what would happen after they were in their coffins came up with some interesting ways around this impasse.
One was to exploit slight differences in foreign countries’ exchange rates to generate returns on investment of up to 29 percent. With this practice—a version of what today would be called arbitrage—they could claim that technically no interest had been charged and thus be off the hook with the Church hierarchy. Another, very different strategy was to launder the lucre by converting it into art. That would have two outcomes. By commissioning altarpieces and other public religious art, bankers like Cosimo de’ Medici could assuage their guilt and at the same time impress their fellow citizens with their piety. Not only that, but by using financial clout to influence the iconography of these works, they could subtly send a message to the populace that maybe money wasn’t so bad after all, spiritually speaking. By making sure that the Virgin was portrayed in sumptuous garments even if she happened to be in a manger, by having themselves painted into holy scenes hobnobbing with saints and angels, and even by putting religious imagery on coins, the wealthy were engaging in highly effective propaganda for their profession.
The fruitful if often uncomfortable relationship between art and money in early Renaissance Florence is the subject of “Money and Beauty: Bankers, Botticelli and the Bonfire of the Vanities,” a fascinating exhibition opening this month in that city’s Palazzo Strozzi museum, co-curated by author Tim Parks and art historian Ludovica Sebregondi. Paintings by artists from Botticelli to Ghirlandaio to Fra Angelico (plus a sampling of pictures by non-Florentines such as Quentin Matsys and Hans Memling) are displayed alongside objects like coins, gold-weighing devices and a bale of raw wool, as well as contemporary financial documents, to tell a complex story from a little-read chapter of cultural history.
The idea for the show dates back to a book Parks published in 2005 called Medici Money. “Originally I was asked to write this book by W.W. Norton, who were doing a series on money issues,” recalls Parks, an English-born novelist, travel writer and translator (notably of the wonderful and uncategorizable books of Roberto Calasso) who has been living in Italy for the past 30 years. “‘No way,’ I said, ‘too complex.’” But Parks was persuaded, and the book did well. Several years later, the Palazzo Strozzi got in touch with him and asked if he would be interested in collaborating on an exhibition that would essentially illustrate and extend the points he made about money and art in his book. Since Parks is not an art historian, Sebregondi came on board to lend scholarly expertise and use her curatorial connections to negotiate the impressive roster of loans for the show. The exhibition is structured as a “duet,” and the two curators wrote double captions for all the works.
To read the complete review, see: Holy Money (www.artandantiquesmag.com/2011/09/holy-money/)
Vanna Arrighi published an article on the exhibit (taken from the exhibit catalog) in this week's Coins Weekly. Highlighted is an item for numismatic bibliophiles and researchers.
The Fiorinaio is a register containing copies of the various coins struck in Florence from the 13th to the 19th century, arranged in chronological order and interspersed by reports on appointments of the officials responsible for coinage, and rules governing their activity. These officials, called Signori della Moneta up to 1373 and Ufficiali della Zecca afterwards, were entitled to choose the symbols and decoration imprinted on the coins struck during their term of office.The register was begun in the month of March 1317 by Ser Salvi Dini, at the time notary to the mint officials. On the first pages he transcribed earlier information and documents, dating back to1252, the year when the first gold florin was struck, and then continued to record current entries up to 1321 (fol. 11v). After this date the register was kept by others until 1834.
To read the complete article, see: Striking Coins in Florence (www.coinsweekly.com/en/Article-of-the-week/5)
For more information on the exhibit, see: Money and Beauty. Bankers, Botticelli and the Bonfire of the Vanities (www.palazzostrozzi.org/SezioneDenaro.jsp?idSezione=1214)
Earlier this week I initiated an email exchange with David Crenshaw of Whitman, Len Augsburger and Joel Orosz about the actor who played the part of David Rittenhouse in an interview with Len and Joel. I wrote:
I’m sorry I missed the Philadelphia show. I saw the Coin World article about the Rittenhouse interview and wanted to say I thought that was a wonderful idea. I’ll bet it was fun.
One of the best ANA Numismatic Theatre presentations I attended was Don Kagin playing “the world’s oldest prospector”. It's a great way to present history in a first person manner.
It was a great show. The actor who played Rittenhouse was extremely talented, and did a superb job. Len and I prepared a script, with both our questions and his suggested answers. He memorized the script, and threw in some witty ad-libs of his own. The "interview" was lightly attended, but fortunately, Whitman filmed it.
It was a big hit, this guy was really good.
David Crenshaw wrote:
I, also, thoroughly enjoyed the program. People don’t know what they’re missing when they don’t attend these programs. The one last year where Jefferson debated Hamilton about the Constitution among other things was very enlightening. I only wish we had video it as well. Maybe we’ll have to have them back to do it again. See whitmancoincollecting.com/content/jefferson-vs-hamilton-at-the-whitman-philly-expo .
The Rittenhouse digital video is now being processed for inclusion on our site.
We'll look forward to it! -Editor
KOLBE & FANNING NUMISMATIC BOOKSELLERS has hundreds of titles listed for immediate sale on their website at www.numislit.com. From the standard to the obscure, from all periods and in all languages, Kolbe & Fanning cover the entire range of numismatic literature. New titles added regularly. Come check us out at www.numislit.com.
Donald G. Tritt writes:
The following catalogs are not in the ANA library. I am hopeful someone on your subscriber list might have or know of a copy of the following catalogs:
1) The 1999 multi-part catalog for the collection of Dr. Irving N. Schuster.
Regrettably, I do not know the names of the auction houses. I realize this makes a search quite difficult. For #1 I hope the name "Dr. Irving N. Schuster" coupled with "1999" will trigger a memory by someone. For #2 I hope a combination of the sale title "Broadway" coupled with the date of "October 1986" will shake loose a memory.
So... do either of these sale name ring a bell for anyone? Anyone have a copy to donate to the library to complete their holdings? -Editor
Dave Bowers writes:
I have an inquiry. In studying a die made for the International Peace Jubilee in Boston in 1872 I cannot decipher the engraver’s name, which is reproduced on attached pictures. Can anyone help?
Part of this looks like "RANDALL" to me, but it sure is hard to read. Any other guesses? Anyone know for a fact who the engraver was? -Editor
Mark Borckardt posted a question to members of the Rittenhouse Society by email this week. Here are a few key excerpts from the chain of comments. -Editor
One lot in the Duckor Collection of double eagles is a U.S. Mint bag for $5,000 in 1928 double eagles. The bag is imprinted “No. 94” as shown in the attached photo. Can anyone tell me what “No. 94” represents?
Bill Fivaz wrote:
The only guess that I would have is the obvious - that it was the 94th bag of that date that was assembled.
Roger Burdette wrote:
The number "94" on the 1928 double eagle bag is the delivery number. This was done so that if there was a problem with the Special Assay for that delivery, the coins could be easily identified and sequestered pending further tests. In this instance, delivery #94 occurred on April 24, 1928.
[Ref: Burdette: Annual Assay Commission of the United States Mint 1800-1943. Meeting minutes for CY 1928 (FY 1929 meeting), page 6.]
Hope this helps! If so please send me some of the coins from the bag!
Indeed! I'd settle for just ONE of those $20 gold coins today. -Editor
Mark Borckardt wrote:
Thanks to several of you who replied with your thoughts and comments, and especially to Roger Burdette. I continue to be amazed at the substantial cumulative knowledge of the membership and am so proud to be counted among all of you.
The Press of Atlantic City published an article this weekend that sheds a little more light on the story of the U.S. Mint guard arrested for stealing and selling error coins. -Editor
Gray sold the coins to a California collector for as much as $75 apiece, court records show. The theft prompted the agency to conduct a security review at all six of its minting facilities nationwide, spokesman Michael White said. Tourists at the U.S. Mint must pass through metal detectors and leave their cameras at the door before they can watch the coining process from behind glass walls.
Neither the U.S. Mint nor the U.S. Attorney’s Office would say how the theft of so much currency from a facility as famed for its security went undiscovered for three years. Gray would not divulge his secret either.
“I ain’t talking to nobody,” Gray said when reached for comment at his North Wildwood home. He remains free on $50,000 bail until his Dec. 20 sentencing before U.S. District Court Judge Noel L. Hillman in Camden.
Gray retired as a Philadelphia police officer after 26 years before joining the mint, where he worked from 1996 to January 2011.
He began stealing from the nation’s largest mint in 2007 when it released new $1 coins featuring the portraits of American presidents, court records show. Over the next three years, prosecutors said, he hid defective coins in containers that he smuggled out of the mint for sale to an unnamed collector in California.
Gray mailed the coins from the Middle Township Post Office in Rio Grande near his North Wildwood home to a coin distributor in California who specialized in selling these kinds of defective coins, court records said.
This distributor sent Gray 50 checks totaling $2.4 million. Gray faces charges of income-tax evasion for allegedly not reporting this income, prosecutors said.
He faces as long as 20 years in prison at sentencing and must pay back the $2.4 million value of the coins in monthly installments of $1,000. At this rate, it would take the government 200 years to recoup the stolen proceeds. As part of his plea agreement, Gray must forfeit two homes he owns in Philadelphia along with five vehicles, including a 2010 Lincoln MKS, and a small fishing boat. He can keep his North Wildwood home, which is his primary residence. Meanwhile, U.S. Mint officials said they are taking steps to close loopholes in their security.
50 checks for 32,000 coins at $75 bucks apiece: $2.4M. That's a lotta change. So if the dealer bought them for $75, what was he selling them for? At only $150 a pop he'd double his money and clear a cool $2.4 million of his own. But I'll bet the average selling price was a lot higher. That kind of money will buy the fence a high-powered legal defense. Unless the feds make him (or her) forfeit the proceeds. And what about the collectors who bought the coins from the fence? This story will get more interesting before all the dust settles. -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
U.S. Mint reviewing security after Cape May County man steals $2.4 million in coins
The latest news on the revolving door at the top of the American Numismatic Association is that executive director Larry Shepherd has officially been fired. Here's an excerpt from an article by Dave Harper in the September 28th Numismatic News. -Editor
Paid administrative leave has turned into unemployment for American Numismatic Association executive director Larry Shepherd.
ANA President Tom Hallenbeck made the news public in a telephone conference call to the numismatic press Sept. 28.
Hallenbeck said he would attend an ANA staff meeting later that afternoon to tell the organization’s employees of the decision of the ANA board of governors.
In the words of the official press release, “The American Numismatic Association Board of Governors today announced that it has ended its employment relationship with Larry Shepherd as executive director.”
To read the complete article, see:
No Return for Shepherd
Scott Barman, in his September 28, 2011 Coin Collector's Blog writes:
No reason was given as to the reason for Shepherd's dismissal. However, those of us who make our living reading between the lines can speculate about the reason based on what was disclosed. The first clue comes when the press release says:
“We appreciate Shepherd’s past three years of contributions, but the Board determined the association needs to move in a different direction going forward, providing greater focus on its core educational mission,” said ANA President Tom Hallenbeck
This is the first that has been reported that the Board or anyone else felt that not enough emphasis was being placed on ANA’s educational efforts. But it appears that the Board is not happy with the increased attention to the shows. In the succeeding paragraph, Hallenbeck was quoted as saying:
The ANA is about more than just being a big coin show. It’s about our individual members and member clubs. It’s about educating our members and the general public, doing so by creating a positive numismatic experience for the many diverse segments of our organization and the greater hobby community.
Reading between the lines, the ANA Board of Governors may have found some irregularities in Shepherd’s involvement in the expansion of shows and basing the flagship World’s Fair of Money in Chicago, a move questioned on this blog in May 2010. Has this been a simmering issue with the Board as well?
To read the complete article, see: ANA Fires Shepherd (coinsblog.blogspot.com/2011/09/ana-fires-shepherd.html)
In the "Things that make you go 'hmmmm' department", Numismatic News reported the following in the same issue. -Editor
Former American Numismatic Association executive director Larry Shepherd was hired by Harlan J. Berk Ltd.
Berk made the announcement less than 24 hours after ANA announced it had parted ways with Shepherd.
Berk told Numismatic News Sept. 29 that Shepherd was hired “for his honesty and integrity and his numismatic ability.”
Berk was named the American Numismatic Association's 2011 Numismatist of the Year. His firm is located in Chicago.
As Scott Barman points out, the rest of us may never learn the real reasons behind the ANA's move, so none of this is any more than speculation. All I know is that if anyone had asked me I would have recommended promoting someone from within to run the organization. Why is it that search committees look high and low but never seem to recognize potential leaders in their own backyard? Instead, good people are driven away from the organization time and again.
Luckily there are still many great employees at ANA headquarters, but it's a shame the talent that has been pushed aside in recent years. My advice, as it has been in the past, is to promote a hardworking, honest, loyal employee with the best interests of the organization and hobby at heart. Do so and you just might find the next Ed Rochette, and avoid yet another hiring debacle. -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
Berk Hires Shepherd
Here's an article sans speculation from the local Colorado Springs paper, The Gazette. -Editor
The American Numismatic Association last week terminated Larry Shepherd, the group’s executive director since 2008, for unspecified reasons.
Shepherd had been placed on administrative leave Aug. 20. In a news release, the group said its board voted unanimously to end Shepherd’s employment effective Sept. 20, although the move was announced Wednesday.
Tom Hallenbeck, president of the association’s board and owner of Hallenbeck Coin Gallery in Colorado Springs, said he couldn’t say much more about Shepherd’s departure.
“We just can’t talk about personnel issues,” he said. “It’s no fun to change executive directors. In my two-year term, it’s not what I wanted.”
After placing Shepherd on administrative leave, the coin collector’s association hired a human resources consulting firm to review the group’s management and employment policies, the release said, and the association has formed governance and strategic planning committees. One goal of the new committees, Hallenbeck said, will be to try to provide more stability in its leadership.
The association has 35 employees in Colorado Springs and a $6 million annual budget; it was founded in 1891 and has been based in the Springs since 1967.
Shepherd replaced Christopher Cipoletti, who was fired in 2007 and was then sued by the ANA for malpractice and other professional misconduct. That lawsuit was resolved earlier this year in an out-of-court settlement that required Cipoletti to pay an undisclosed amount to the association.
The ANA ran deficits from 2002 to 2008, which required dipping into its endowment funds, but Hallenbeck said the ANA is now in good financial shape.
To read the complete article, see: Numismatic association ousts executive director (www.gazette.com/articles/association-125832-director-shepherd.html)
The MicroRoo, made from an actual Australian $1 coin, has the capacity to encapsulate the Micro SD memory card.
Ken Berger writes:
These hollow coins were referred as spy coins. Please see the Dereu & Sons Mfg. Co. website: spy-coins.com .Also see the FBI website: www.fbi.gov/about-us/history/famous-cases/hollow-nickel .
William Mills writes:
Thanks for the E-Sylum's! I am reading this one in the airport at Kuala Lumpur. I just wanted to add that I have in my collection what appears to be a contemporary Paraguayan 1870 4 Centesimo that is hollowed out. The obverse and reverse screw together. From the toning I would say it dates from the era that the coin was manufactured. Why it was made is anyone's guess.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: MORE ON SECRET COMPARTMENT COINS (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v14n40a10.html)
Jeff Shevlin the "So-Called Guy" writes:
I would like to make the following reply to the message from Dick Johnson regarding the definition of So-Called Dollars. I have a web site where collectors interested in So-Called Dollars participate in an active discussion board on topics related to So-Called Dollars. Collectors are helping to define the definition of just what is a So-Called Dollar and there are many opinions posted on his site by advanced collectors who are passionate on this series of historical US Medals.
The site was started just one year ago and currently averages over 7,000 unique hits each month. There are hundreds of photos of So-Called Dollars and the results of his last three Sealed Bid Auctions are available to view on-line. The site is www.So-CalledDollar.com .
Interest in So-Called Dollars has increased phenomenally in the past year and his web site is probably one of the most active in the hobby today.
Dave Bowers submitted the following note, which references a forthcoming new book on the So-Called Dollar series. -Editor
Regarding so-called dollars, certainly the ultimate in the series, or close contenders, are the silver dollar size and obverse design embossed shell cards of 1867, 1868, and 1869. These use obverses stamped from dies, to which a metal reverse or a cardboard reverse is attached. They were produced during a time when silver dollars were not seen in circulation in the East or Midwest. Many of them were imprinted to be worth something if brought into a store. While most so-called dollars are really medals, this are about as close to a real dollar as you can get without actually being one!
Harry Lessin, John Ford, Steve Tanenbaum and others wanted to get a book out on these, as did the Token and Medal Society. Although TAMS has had articles, most notably a series started in 1961 by Ralph Mitchell and Russell Rulau, no one has ever had enough of these together to study them, except the late Steve Tanenbaum, who set about in 1977 forming a definitive holding. He eventually acquired what he wanted from the great collections, including Ralph Mitchell, Ray Byrne, John J. Ford, Jr. (with David Proskey and F.C.C. Boyd collections), and more.
That said, I am using Steve Tanenbaum’s work as the basis for a book, which is well underway. More information will be found in forthcoming issues of the TAMS Journal, Fred Reed editor. Any E-Sylum readers with information to share will be welcomed—just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff Shevlin adds:
The late Steve Tanenbaum was always going to provide me a copy of an auction catalog he had from the latter 1800’s that had a section in the back dedicated to So-Called Dollars, historical US medals approximately the size of a silver dollar.
Can anyone tell us which catalog that might be? -Editor
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: QUERY: WHY IS THE DOLLAR CALLED A DOLLAR? (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v14n40a11.html)
Legal Guide for the Visual Artist
On the topic of currency mutilation, and legal reproductions of currency, I've found this source useful: Tad Crawford, Legal Guide for the Visual Artist 5th ed. (Alworth Press 2010).
In fact, if you search Google Books using "currency reproductions" as terms, you will find the snippet of the book that deals precisely with this issue (pp. 101-2).
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: QUERY: ART AND COIN MUTILATION LAWS (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v14n39a16.html)
The Progression from Early Thalers to the U.S. dollar
Perhaps not exactly what you asked for, but take a look at pages 126 and 127 of my book Milestone Coins, Whitman Publishing 2007, to see my explanation and pictures. I can send a scan of those pages if (heaven forbid) you don’t have the book. Attached is a picture of an original Joachimstaler.
Sadly, I don't have a copy of Ken's book. All the more reason for all of us to go out and get a copy. I'm glad to learn that someone has compiled such a progression - it's a great way to teach people (numismatists included) how today's dollar came to be. -Editor
Maryland Paper Money Correction
I went to the website you had listed & found the following statement: "Within the American colonies Maryland was the first to issue paper money in dollar denominations in 1766.".
This is highly misleading. According to Newman, these notes were authorized at the 1 November 1766 Session and payable between 25 June and 25 December 1777. The bills themselves are dated 1 January 1767 and, in fact, this is how Newman refers to them. Therefore, I would argue that the statement written by Giedroyc in his article is incorrect.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: FEATURED WEB PAGE: HISTORY OF THE U.S. SILVER DOLLAR (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v14n40a19.html)
The British Empire of Sorts
Clifford Mishler submitted these thoughts on the theme of "things that don't exist". -Editor
Reading the item in this week's edition reporting that "Canada Introduces Quarters Commemorating Things That Don't Exist," reminded me of a series of articles under the authorship of the late Carl Allenbaugh presented in 18 installments from August of 1971 through March of 1973.
Presented under the banner of "The British Empire of Sorts," the series addressed the then remnants of the British Empire which were still existing directly under the British flag, from Gibraltar to the Falkland Islands to the British Indian Ocean Territory and points far and wide between. While some had coinage distinct to their existence, these somewhat tongue-in-cheek presentations referenced both what existed and the whimsical coins that might be.
While none of the dozen or so whimsical designs offered up in the installments ever came to be, many of the entities which at the time did not boast distinct coinages were subsequently so recognized.
The installments made for interesting and entertaining reading.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: CANADA INTRODUCES QUARTERS COMMEMORATING THINGS THAT DON'T EXIST (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v14n40a17.html)
Books Impounded by Argentina
Len Augsburger forwarded this article about books being impounded by the government in Argentina. -Editor
Argentina's booksellers are accusing the government of censorship, saying more than a million imported books have stacked up in customs as authorities try to rebuild the country's printing houses.
The dispute is about commerce, not ideology, and publishing houses are only the latest sector of the economy to experience the strong-arm tactics of a government determined to rebuild domestic industrial capacity.
President Cristina Fernandez didn't directly address the customs controversy Thursday night when she inaugurated the new Museum of the Book and the Language. But she said her government is dedicated to restoring Argentina's ability to take care of itself in an uncertain world.
"The world is going in one direction and at times it seems like we're going to the opposite, but this is the necessary path to recover a country that already knew how to do things," she said.
The newspaper Clarin published a lengthy article Thursday describing how in order to liberate their books from customs' impound warehouses, publishers have been forced to meet with representatives of Commerce Secretary Guillermo Moreno and present plans for shifting their production to domestic printing houses.
To read the complete article, see:
Argentina impounds imported books to force publishers to rebuild domestic printing industry
More Numismatic Jokes
The English version of this, which still catches people out sometimes (sorry if it's been mentioned before), is that 1920 pennies are worth 8 pounds (at 240 pre-decimal pennies to the pound ... work it out).
David Gladfelter writes:
This is old as the hills, but if you haven’t heard it before: Which is worth more, six dozen dozen dimes or a half dozen dozen dollars? (Surprise! The dimes are worth $86.40 and the dollars $72.)
WHITMAN PUBLISHING LIMITED EDITIONS
Paul Horner submitted this question about a hard-to-read signature. Can anyone help? -Editor
The attached is an image of a genuine 1862 10 cents North Carolina State Treasury note.
I would like any readers ideas as to what the signed name is. I have extensively researched the records in the NC State Archives and it is most definitely NOT that of any of the 63 signers that legitimately signed Treasury notes for North Carolina. This was in a small group of "trash" notes on EBAY a couple of years ago that I bought solely to obtain this note. I have never seen another note with a signature like this.
The serial number looks to be contemporary, and for this series is high, 810 T. Each signer (there was 33 for 1862 dated 10 cents notes) started at "1" for every note in a (serial lettered) sheet and continued on though his allotment.
This suggests a couple of possibilities:
1. The note was signed by a clerk or other unauthorized individual from an issuing location. If this is the case, it would have originated from the NC State Treasury Office, The Bank of NC in Raleigh, The Bank of Cape Fear from the either the Salem, Salisbury, or Asheville branch. I have not been able to make any "match" with any names associated with either of these locations.
2. Was "autographed" from a numbered sheet of remainders after the War was over, and the signature is a fantasy.
At any rate, if a reader would care to hazard a guess as to what the name is, I'd love to hear from them. I would like to write an article about this note and signature for future publication. As a bonus, there is no prize, but I'll include all the "translations" along with the submitters name in my article. Please, no "Billy Bob Smith" stuff, just real ideas!
I'm stumped. Ideas, anyone? Paul's email address is email@example.com . -Editor
Last week Howard Daniel forwarded a description of a medal in a Baldwin's sale, I've bolded the part in question.
France, Duval L Janvier, medallist, octagonal Bronze Plaquette, c.1900, view of Janvier’s coining press, rev three reduced images of the obverse, Déduction et Frappe de Médailles, 22 Rue de Montmorency, Paris, 60mm x 52mm, in original card case (Jones, Art of the Medal 345; BDM VII 177).
Dick Johnson writes:
The name "Duval L. Janvier" as mentioned in Howard Daniel's submission form a Baldwin's auction in last week's E-Sylum is incorrect.
Duval was Janvier's partner -- not his first name. They were in business in Paris from 1892-? Janvier's first name was Victor. He patented his miraculous reducing machine in 1899, and died in 1911. After his death, the firm was taken over by Berchot, known first as Janvier & Berchot, and later simply as Le Medalier -- this is what what Franklin Mint acquired circa 1970.
Katie DeSilva (Jaeger) interviewed Joe Segel in 2005. She asked me for a list of questions to ask Joe. That was one of them: When purchased? What happened to it? He could not remember. Can anyone supply facts?
Victor Janvier's picture is in my medalblog: medalblog.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/janviers_pantograph/ .
Thanks for setting the record straight! Be sure to check out Dick's blog, everyone. -Editor
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: SEPTEMBER 25, 2011: A Janvier Medal (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v14n40a13.html)
Dick Hanscom and other E-Sylum readers forwarded this BBC news story about the discovery of a shipwreck. The cargo includes coins, but it’s a fairly recent wreck - it was sunk in 1941. -Editor
The SS Gairsoppa, a UK cargo ship sunk by a German U-boat in 1941, was found by US exploration firm Odyssey Marine.
Only one person from the 85-strong crew survived the torpedo attack as the ageing steamer tried to reach Ireland.
The vessel was on its way back to Britain from India when it ran low on fuel in stormy weather, and tried to divert to Galway harbour, but it was spotted and sunk by the German submarine.
The wreck of the 412ft ship was found this summer nearly 4,700m below the North Atlantic, 300 miles off the Irish coast, but it was only confirmed as SS Gairsoppa last week.
"Given the orientation and condition of the shipwreck, we are extremely confident that our planned salvage operation will be well suited for the recovery of this silver cargo."
SS Gairsoppa settled upright on the seabed with its cargo holds open, which means remote-controlled robotic submarines should be able to retrieve the bullion.
Work would begin in the second quarter of 2012, Odyssey said.
The seven million ounces of silver on the ship is a mixture of privately owned bullion insured by the UK government and state-owned coins and ingots.
To read the complete article, see: Shipwreck of SS Gairsoppa reveals £150m silver haul (www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15061868)
This week the White House announced winners of the 2011 National Medals of Science and Technology. There were seven awardees of the National Medals of Science and five awardees of the National Medals of Technology and Innovation. Here's one article on the science winners. -Editor
President Barrack Obama awarded 7 National Medals of Science this week to American researchers who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields. Among the honorees are 4 life scientists who have made seminal contributions in various areas of biology, including DNA structure and function, genetics, and biomedical engineering. Obama also named 5 inventors who will receive the National Medal of Technology and Innovation for contributing to the country’s competitiveness. “Each of these extraordinary scientists, engineers, and inventors is guided by a passion for innovation, a fearlessness even as they explore the very frontiers of human knowledge, and a desire to make the world a better place,” Obama said in a statement.
Here are the National Medal of Science winners, who will receive their awards from the president at a White House ceremony to be held later this year:
- Jacqueline K. Barton, California Institute of Technology, for the discovery of a new property of the DNA helix called long-range electron transfer and for showing that this process, which may aid in the repair of damaged DNA molecules, depends upon the specific arrangement of stacked base pairs and other DNA dynamics.
- Ralph L. Brinster, University of Pennsylvania, for his fundamental contributions to the development and use of transgenic mice.
- Shu Chien, University of California, San Diego, for pioneering work in cardiovascular physiology and bioengineering.
- Rudolf Jaenisch, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for improving our understanding of epigenetic regulation of gene expression.
- Peter J. Stang, University of Utah, for his contributions to the development of organic supramolecular chemistry, which focuses on weaker and reversible, non-covalent interactions between molecules, and for his record of public service.
- Richard A. Tapia, Rice University, for his contributions in optimization theory and numerical analysis and for his efforts in mathematics and science education.
- S. R. Srinivasa Varadhan, New York University, for his work in probability theory, especially his work on large deviations from expected random behavior.
I've always found what I'll call "Achievement Medals" very interesting. Each recipient has a story, and the awarding of the medal connotes a great honor. You can't BUY one of these medals - you have to EARN it. Well, MAYBE you can buy them in the aftermarket on eBay. But by definition, these are very scarce medals - when so few are given each year, the total number issued is generally small.
Because these medals are so scarce and so rarely show up in the marketplace, it's difficult to place a value on them. And as a numismatist, it's equally hard to learn about them. Although the Internet has made this a little easier, there is often little information to be had regarding the artists who designed them, the engravers who made the dies, or the company that struck them. Wouldn't it be nice if there were a book we could turn to to learn about them?
Perhaps a "Top 10 (or 100?) Achievement Medals" survey would get the ball rolling. Certainly famous medals like the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize medals would achieve a high ranking, as would the Congressional Medal of Honor. Would the National Medal of Technology and Innovation make the cut? It could be easy to get bogged down in a long nomination process, but regardless of the size of the nominating pool it would be interesting to learn which medals come out on top. Who can generate the longest list of medal nominees? Send me your nominations and I'll compile the initial list. -Editor
To read the complete article, see: Seven New National Medal Winners (the-scientist.com/2011/09/29/seven-new-national-medal-winners/)
For more information on the medals, see: www.nationalmedals.org
THE BOOK BAZARRE
The Bank of England has announced that a new £50 note will bear the images of coiners Boulton and Watt. It will be the first time two portraits have appeared together on the back of a Bank of England note.
Sir Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, has often voiced his yearning for a "rebalancing" of the economy towards neglected manufacturing, and he will put the nation's money where his mouth is next month when the Bank produces a new £50 note celebrating two pioneers of the industrial revolution.
The Bank will evoke the memory of the inventor James Watt and his Birmingham business partner, Matthew Boulton on the new note.
Threadneedle Street announced that the note, replacing one featuring the first governor of the Bank of England, Sir John Houblon, will go into circulation on 2 November. It will be the first to feature two people (in addition to the Queen) and the first to be signed by Chris Salmon, the Bank's new chief cashier.
Boulton, born in 1728, was an entrepreneur who started work in his father's Birmingham factory making buckles for shoes and knee-breeches, but he later built his own showpiece factory on Handsworth Heath.
He later went into partnership with James Watt, who took the Newcomen steam engine, then the latest design, and made a series of crucial improvements, improving its efficiency and making it more commercial.
By 1800, Watt's version was outselling its predecessor, and they were shipping it across the world. Boulton and Watt worked together to pioneer the use of the steam engine in the cotton spinning industry; and Boulton also used Watt's engine to power minting machines, pressing coins at his Soho Mint in Birmingham, to boost the supply provided by the Royal Mint.
To read the complete article, see:
£50 reward for industrial revolution pioneers on new bank note
I couldn't resist sharing this chart. If anyone out there doubted the popularity of e-books, you may have a different opinion after seeing this next chart. It plots Amazon's physical book sales vs electronic book sales via Amazon's Kindle e-Reader. Wow! -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
CHART OF THE DAY: The Incredible Growth Of Amazon's Kindle Book Sales
Here's a related chart that asks an interesting question: at what point will the Kindle become free? Will they be stocking stuffers next Christmas? -Editor
Stephen Pradier forwarded this story from The Daily Mail in the U.K. -Editor
The largest collection of Roman coins unearthed in a single container goes on display to the public for the first time today.
Table where the coins were sorted
The Frome Hoard, a collection of 52,503 silver and copper alloy coins unearthed by hospital chef Dave Crisp in April last year near the Somerset town that gives the hoard its name, is to go on show at the Museum of Somerset, in Taunton. Stephen Minnitt, Somerset County Council's head of museums, said it was a coup for the museum to obtain the 'highly important find'.
'The reason it was buried remains something of a mystery. Usually you tend to think of coin hoards being buried for safety in the times before there were banks, and those that are found today are the ones that were not recovered, presumably because the person that owned them had some sort of misfortune and didn't pick them up.
'In this case, though, the volume of coins in this very rounded pot - they weigh 160kg (353lb) - has led to the suggestion that they may well represent a votive offering of some sort. Precisely what, we don't know.'
Some of the coins have been completely cleaned to show what they may have looked like at the time they were buried. Others have been left in a condition closer to the way they looked when excavated.
All but five are made from a copper alloy which gives them a greenish tinge.
These five, which form their own display, are silver denarii of the emperor Carausius, an upstart from what is now the Netherlands who led a revolt against Rome in the last decade of the 3rd century AD and declared himself emperor of Britain and northern Gaul (France). They are among 760 coins from his reign of seven years.
'He was a usurper who took control of Britain and Gaul in AD296 and issued this very fine series of silver coins, which are exceedingly rare,' said Mr Minnitt.
'The five examples in the Frome collection are in mint condition. They are some of the finest examples of Carausius denarii ever seen.'
Silver denarius of Carausius Adventus, and a bronze coin
To read the complete article, see:
Largest collection of Roman coins found in a single container unveiled to the public for the first time
This story from Australia reports that an employee of Downies Coins has been sentenced to prison for stealing coins and selling them to feed a basketball card habit. -Editor
A RARE coin expert who stole more than half-a-million dollars worth of valuable coins and notes and sold them on eBay to fund an insatiable basketball card obsession has been sentenced to prison.
Marcus Loricchiella, 31, was yesterday sentenced in the County Court to serve 42 months' jail, with a 17-month minimum, for the stealing spree that spanned at least three years and saw him pocket more than $537,000 of valuable collector’s items.
He pleaded guilty to five charges of theft and one charge of dealing with the proceeds of crime.
Loricchiella stole the items while he was employed as a rare coin expert at renowned dealer Downies Coins.
The court heard Lorichiella stole the valuable items and sold them on eBay then used the money to fund a bizarre obsession with Michael Jordan basketball cards, travel to New Zealand and Fiji and furnish his home.
He was employed by the company in 2004 but was sacked in July last year after a stocktake check uncovered the crimes.
To read the complete article, see:
Coin collector jailed for stealing from boss to fund odd sports card habit
Florida in the 18th century remained an isolated outpost of the Spanish Empire, its most important mission to secure the homeward route of the Spanish New World Treasure Fleets. These fleets had long funded Spain's now-declining role in European & world affairs. The loss of the 1715 Fleet was another blow to the newly established Bourbon dynasties of Spain. Gold and silver in great quantity was homeward bound to Philip V when a hurricane destroyed his fleet along Florida's coast.
Some recovery in the aftermath still left much to be recovered beginning in the 1960's and ongoing to this day. Much research remains to be done on the 1715 Fleet and its treasure. The State of Florida has a accumulated a magnificent and yet little studied collection of Fleet material. The 1715 Fleet Society aims to promote public awareness and scholarly study of all facets of the 1715 Fleet disaster.