The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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


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


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Wayne Homren

First, Happy Birthday to my sweet and talented daughter Hannah, who turned nine today. New subscribers this week include Ray Lockwood. Welcome aboard! We have 1,643 email subscribers, plus 224 followers on Facebook.

This week we open with a note from literature dealer John Burns on his upcoming coin show schedule, and three new books. Other topics this week include the Karl Goetz dies, Harry Rapp's book on U.S. commemoratives, the Treasury Department's Columbian Exposition exhibits, (and I never thought I'd write this) the Winklevoss twins.

To learn more about the Thomas Edison of Canada, a banknote payable in gold dust, the Schwaab fob, the New Bedford Horticultural Society medal and Odium Numismatica, read on. Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Editor, The E-Sylum


Numismatic literature dealer John Burns is a fixture at many coin shows around the U.S. He forwarded his latest itinerary. -Editor

John H. Burns will be on an EPIC book selling jaunt as follows:

April 18-21 Chicago International Coin Fair, Rosemont IL
April 24-27 Central States, Schaumberg IL
May 2-5 Early American Coppers, Newark OH
May 9-11 Pa. Association of Numismatists, Monroeville PA
May 16-18 Garden States, Somerset NJ

3000 Pounds of numismatic literature (as certified by the Philly union at last year's ANA)!!!! Visit, talk and hopefully buy some and I'll show up at the next shows. Nos morituri te salutant.


Dave Bowers forwarded this update on his upcoming book on U.S. Shell Cards. Thanks! -Editor

Shell card 04-0640 $$20-1867 o I am putting the finishing touches on my manuscript for a new book, U.S. Shell Cards 1867-1880. These are advertising tokens, often with a coin motif on one side and a commercial message on the other, that fit neatly into the post-Civil War era. Although scattered features about them have appeared in the TAMS Journal and elsewhere, this is the first book-length study and the only study that delves into how they were made and distributed.

As of the last counting there are 1,658 pictures, including full color images of over 700 different varieties, plus 108,582 words. I am now working on rarity ratings and Shell Card 04-0301 $01-1868A r a schedule of estimated values. If a reader has one or more shell cards, Dave would be pleased to hear from you. Ditto for any information about purchase prices and valuations, except for the recent sales by Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

The late Steve Tanenbaum quipped, “A common shell card is one for which two are known!” Indeed, many are unique. The largest institutional collection is that of the American Numismatic Society, comprising slightly over 100 different. The Society has cooperated in the project and has provided many images.

As this will be a specialized book in the token field, Dave adds that if a suitable publisher is found, he will give a grant or subsidy so that the book can be a quality production in full color, on fine paper, and, equally important to him, bear a price that is affordable.

Dave can be reached by e-mail at or by regular mail at Box 539, Wolfeboro Falls, NH 03896


The shell card book isn't the only book Dave Bowers has in the works. Here's an article from his Stacks-Bowers blog on his upcoming Guide Book of Civil War Tokens. -Editor

QDBBlogCWTApril2 I have been interested in Civil War tokens for a long time. My fascination with them dates back to the 1950s when I first learned about them and set about buying examples. I soon met Dr. George Fuld, who at the time was with MIT in Massachusetts. From George I bought several thousand duplicates, a trading stock, most of which were soon offered for sale by Empire Coin Company, which I conducted in partnership with Jim Ruddy.

Fast forward to more recent times, today the Civil War Token Society (check the Internet) publishes the Civil War Token Journal with advertisements, historical articles, research findings and more. Believe it or not the annual membership fee is just $15, for which you get four copies of the journal.

Scheduled for release in mid summer is the Guide Book of Civil War Tokens, to be published by Whitman. I researched and wrote this, completing it last year. This will describe hundreds of different token issuers and illustrate different dies.

Today in 2013, Civil War tokens offer many interesting opportunities. Great rarities -- tokens for which fewer than a dozen are known -- can be purchased for a few hundred dollars each, sometimes even less! Compared to federal coinage, the field is relatively undiscovered. The number of active participants is probably in the low thousands.

Concerning Civil War tokens in general, these were mostly the size of contemporary one-cent pieces. Beginning in July 1862, when the outcome of the Civil War was uncertain, cents disappeared from circulation. Citizens preferred hard money to paper, and by that time gold and silver had long since been absent from commerce. Now, there was no federal money with which to buy a newspaper, get a haircut, or ride a horse-drawn streetcar. Stepping into the void were private individuals who commissioned cent-sized tokens to be struck, usually in copper, but sometimes in brass. Millions of these were soon in circulation and were widely used. Over 1,000 merchants issued them with their advertising and other inscriptions. In addition, large numbers of patriotic tokens were produced -- with flags, cannon, ships and other motifs.

To read the complete article, see: From The Desk Of Q. David Bowers: Civil War Tokens In The Spotlight (


Buy the latest edition of must-have coin reference books . Click to shop.


This week Krause Publications announced a new edition of Collecting World Coins, 1901-Present. -Editor

collecting world coins 14th edition Author: George S. Cuhaj
SRN: U3686
Price: $44.99 ($46.99)
ISBN: 9781440236181

From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, Collecting World Coins, 1901-Present, presents the most comprehensive country-by-country, fully illustrated listing of 20th and 21st century coins used in everyday commerce.

The vast majority of private collections and family accumulations consist of circulating coinage, making the 14th edition of this catalog the finest and easiest reference to use. Collecting World Coins is the perfect book for beginner to expert collectors and dealers who are simply interested in circulating coins found around the world. Features include:

  • Up-to-date and complete Euro Coin images and values as well as 30,0000 images for easy coin identification.
  • Perfect book for beginner to expert collectors and dealers who are simply interested in circulating coins found around the world.
  • Detailed description of coins with dates and mintages, metal, weight and current value.

For more information visit:

Kolbe-Fanning EPNNES Hardcovers ad


Editor Serge Pelletier writes:

moneta March 2013 The March issue of moneta is now available at We apologize for the delays in posting.

In this issue:

  • Hobo nickels: 100 years on [Steve WOODLAND]
  • Duck & Company [Serge PELLETIER]
  • The commemorative coins of the Fifth Republic – Part 1: The 1-franc coins [Wilfred LAUBER]
  • The man who chained lightning [Chris FAULKNER]

Happy reading!

Moneta is the journal of the Ottawa Numismatic Society. As always, there are some nice articles here. I especially enjoyed Chris Faulkner's piece, which is about Thomas Ahearn, "the Thomas Edison of Canada" and his electric oven. Below are two tokens illustrated in the article, provided at my request by Serge Pelletier. Thanks! -Editor

Ahearn_&_Soper._A_&_B._38.0_mm-2 Consumers_Electric._24.75_mm

To read the issue online, see:

For more information on the Ottawa Numismatic Society, see:


Jorg Lueke writes:

I am a little perplexed by the sudden appearance by so many of the Goetz dies. One imagines if the dies had been acquired legitimately at some point in the past the manner of acquisition and their sudden appearance would be better documented. While I don't collect these particular medal I would greet with some dismay news that the Monnaie de Paris suddenly released the dies of all the works of Daniel Dupuis.

Howard A. Daniel III writes:

The auctioning of the original Karl Goetz dies is a disaster for numismatics. They should be defaced, even in a minor way, so anything struck from them will be easily seen. And it appears the ownership trail is in question and this needs to be resolved before the dies are auctioned! And will known Chinese minters be banned from the auction?

Jorg Lueke writes:

There's still a big gap in information that may never get reported after this dispersal. How did this many dies leave the mint, who owned them and why are they being sold? Is it a museum deaccessioning? The Goetz family selling? Some other private owner? I understand that providing those details can easily negate the anonymity of the seller which is unfortunate since it leaves us with a potentially permanent gap in knowledge.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: KARL GOETZ ORIGINAL DIES AND HUBS OFFERED BY HERITAGE (


Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker published an article in CoinWeek Friday that gave a nice shout-out to The E-Sylum. Thanks! The admiration is mutual - CoinWeek is one of the best online numismatic publications around, with original, interesting, and sometimes thought-provoking content. -Editor

*For those of you who don’t know, Wayne Homren is the editor of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society’s weekly e-publication, the E-Sylum, which is always chock-full of fascinating information and reader commentary. Visit for more information.

First of all, thank you for the work you do every week. Hubert and I are big fans of your eclectic, almost omnivorous newsletter. The E-Sylum is a frequent source of inspiration, constantly pointing out fruitful new avenues for us and our writing. Also, we collect books on coins just as avidly as we collect the coins themselves. So we were thrilled – THRILLED – at the handful of recent mentions and excerpts we’ve garnered.

Predictably, this inspired us to do even more thinking on the topics we’d already addressed. And before we get to the crux of our piece, let’s just say that there must be something in the air regarding the legalization of gold and gold-related numismatic collectibles. No sooner had we readied the Herb Hicks article for submission to Coinweek but the E-Sylum featured a bit on Grover Criswell and his efforts to legalize gold medallions. Maybe we should go for the trifecta and write a piece on James Blanchard?

Anyway, back to that crux. In the February 24, 2013 issue of the E-Sylum, you included an excerpt from our then-recent piece on Anthony Swiatek’s 1981 volume on classic commemoratives (“Booker T. On the Tarmac: A Story about First Coinvestors”). That excerpt really made us feel like we were on to something. We don’t care who knows it – validation is nice.

The CoinWeek article discussed some of the blatant marketing promotion text inserted into Swiatek's manuscript by publisher Stanley Apfelbaum. I wrote: I am shocked - SHOCKED - to discover marketing going on in the coin business!! In this article, Morgan and Walker wonder how a book with such a blatant commercial focus could win a hobby award. -Editor

Swiatek-Breen Commemorative Encyclopedia We have no doubt that experienced and sophisticated collectors aren’t surprised in the least by the blatant promotion that exists in such books as Swiatek and Breen’s commemorative opus. Modern collectors also have the benefit of hindsight and can see the far-off price predictions in that volume for what they are: hopelessly detached from current levels. Mind you, some of these projections were actually met before the commemorative bubble burst, so we’re not indicting the authors and publishers on those grounds, but one thing sticks in our craw. The Encyclopedia won the 1981 Numismatic Literary Guild award.

As a hobby, are we so jaded and cynical that such self-promotion in what advertises itself as a reference book is okay? Is it acceptable that such things are ignored by institutions within the hobby? Does everyone kind of assume that collectors are all on the same level, and can figure things out for themselves? Or do we assume that the gullible and less-experienced among us deserve to be taken in, and that maybe they’ll know better next time?

A book can be quite useful despite marketing content or emphasis. I’m not sure I’d be so hard on NLG for praising it, but Morgan and Walker raise a valid question. I remember being pleased to get my copy of the book, and learning a lot about the U.S. Commemorative series from it, despite the odd style and occasional marketing spew. I haven't seen Swiatek's new 2012 book, but would welcome a reader's review of it. Thanks again to Morgan and Walker for their kind words about The E-Sylum. -Editor

To read the complete article, see: An Open Letter to Wayne Homren (



Speaking of books on U.S. Commemorative Coinage, here's an interesting item about early 20th century books on the topic.

Rapp Commenorative Coins of the US cover Rapp Commenorative Coins of the US title page

Bruce H. Smith writes:

I purchased this book in 1988. The seller told me that it was from the library of Harold Bowen, who I understand was an authority on Michigan Scrip. Other than a reference to an ANA article on coinage of the Danish West Indies written in 1941, I've not been able to locate any information on Harry W. Rapp. A large amount of work must have gone into the book's creation, but as it's typed, I don't know how it might have been reproduced other than having a few carbon copies. The plates appear to be from Wayte Raymond catalogs. I'd be grateful for any information on the book or its author.

Rapp Commemorative Coins of the US chapter

I don't know how Harry Rapp comes into the picture, but the American Numismatic Society published Howland Wood's book The Commemorative Coinage of the United States in 1922. I don't have a copy for comparison. The ANS published an update by David M. Bullowa titled The Commemorative Coinage of the United States 1892-1938 in 1938 (Numismatic Notes and Monographs No. 83). I have that one on my shelf, and in it Bullowa devotes the volume to Wood, who passed away that year. He writes that Wood's 1922 work was the "point of departure" for his study.

Interestingly, as shown in the image above, the title page reads as follows:

1892 TO 1922
1922 TO 1939

Bruce adds:

I did have a copy of the Wood monograph at one time. My best recollection was that this book was an exact copy, but I no longer have the Wood book to refresh my memory.

Perhaps Rapp was working on a manuscript unawares that Bullowa was doing the same. Can anyone tell us more about Rapp and his book?


E-Sylum sponsor Archives International's latest auction is coming up on Tuesday. Here's their press release. Some neat items in this sale - check it out. -Editor

Archive International Part 14 Archives International Auctions will offer 1,176 lots of U.S. and worldwide banknotes, scripophily and security printing ephemera at auction on Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 at 10 a.m. (EDT) in Fort Lee, New Jersey. The auction will offer live gallery, phone and Internet bidding at

We are fortunate to have another outstanding offering of numismatic treasures that rarely if ever cross the auction block, including two different unique banknotes, a U.S. Legal Tender $10 Series of 1890 Presentation Proof as well as a 1906, 2 Silver Pesos, Philippine Islands Presentation Proof,” stated Dr. Robert Schwartz, president of Archives International Auctions.

The auction is packed with rare and desirable banknotes including 34 rare Chinese banknotes and over 650 different foreign banknotes. Also included are dozens of U.S. Colonial, Obsolete, Large and Small Type and National banknotes.

The scripophily section will include 220 lots of stocks and bonds (banking, mining, railroad, foreign, etc.), for every level of collector. Included is a John D. Rockefeller Signed Standard Oil Company Rarity as well as a 1795, North American Land Company Founder’s Share signed by Declaration of Independence signer, Robert Morris.

The catalog is online on their website and also as a virtual catalog.

The next auction is scheduled June 4th, 2013 at their offices in New Jersey and will include a wide variety of banknotes, scripophily and coins.

Previews are scheduled for Thursday, April 11th until the day of the sale by appointment. To pre-register for live Internet bidding, log on to the Archives International website, at .

Here are a few lots that caught my eye. There are many interesting items of all price ranges. I especially like the obsolete note payable in gold dust. -Editor

209 - Siege de Lyon banknote 1793
Lot 209 Siege De Lyon, 1793 ND Issue Banknote

578 Philippines 1944 Victory Star note
Lot 578 Philippines, ND (1944) Victory Issue Star Note

941 Miners Bank of Savings of Alta - California, Payable in Gold Dust
Lot 941 Miners Bank of Savings of Alta - California, Payable in Gold Dust, 18xx (ca. 1850-60)


Last week I asked:

If anyone can answer this I'll be really impressed. John Kraljevich's ad last week pictured a close-up image of a whale. I wondered what coin or medal this was taken from. Does anyone know? Any guesses?

Kralvevich esylum ad5 whale closeup

Pete Smith writes:

Attached is an image of the New Bedford Horticultural Society medal. It is struck in silver at 46 mm diameter. I hate to admit how easy this was to find. It is listed on JK's website.


Cheater! Cheater! Actually, there's nothing wrong with that. I'm impressed with research skills that start with the obvious before marching headlong into the obscure. But who knows the piece from memory?

Jonathan Brecher writes:

It's a local-ish subject for me. New Bedford was something like the whaling capital of the world, so the image is appropriate. I have one other sale record (Paul Bosco 11/20/2000, lot 755), and it's also in Harkness's book on society medals. It would be a much more challenging question if you waited until AFTER John removed the medal from his online inventory!

Dick Hansom writes:

I know I have seen it before, but don't remember where. My guess is a commemorative medal from New Bedford, Mass. Two of my searches on eBay are whale and whaling. I think maybe the whale with harpoons is part of their city seal.

Paul Bosco writes:

See Paul J. Bosco Auction #22, 11/20/2000, lot 755 (obverse Photo’d). New Bedford Horticultural Society. Founded 1903. 45mm silver, by Braxmar. Engraved date of awarding: 1930. This is the catalog most famous today for its inclusion of the Yoachum Dollar.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: APRIL 7, 2013 : Quick Quiz: Find That Whale! (


Wall Street Journal Features New Doty Book
Dennis Tucker writes:

Pictures From a Distant Country Dick Doty's new book, Pictures From a Distant Country: Seeing America Through Old Paper Money, was selected for a feature in the Wall Street Journal this weekend, with several colorful illustrations. If you subscribe to the Journal, check out Saturday's “Review” section!

I’m sure you’ll agree: if any of our colleagues deserves national recognition for his work, it’s Dick Doty. In Pictures From a Distant Country he’s created a wonderful volume, beautifully illustrated, with his famously entertaining way of telling a story. Pictures should easily leap the gap that too often divides “numismatic books” from “mainstream American history books.” As a publisher I’m always looking for manuscripts with that potential --- it’s a way we can expand the hobby community.

I don’t have a current subscription, but a reader forwarded this image from the article. Thanks! "Cash With Flash" - I like it! I understand not all of the editions had this printed in color. Do we have a new numismatic ephemera collectible here?

WSJ Doty, Dick 2012-03-13 WSJ

For more information, or to order, see:

2013 ANA Summer Convention Exhibiting and Speaking

Paul Hybert passed along this announcement about Exhibiting and Speaking at the 2013 ANA Summer Convention: -Editor

The ANA's 2013 Anniversary convention will be held in suburban Chicago on August 13-17, Tuesday through Saturday -- near O'Hare airport, at the same venue as in 1991, 1999, and 2011. At this early date, the ANA web site has some planning information available; details on the actual events will appear later, once they are finalized. See

It takes time and effort to create an exhibit; the Exhibiting page at has links to the rules, application, and an essay on preparing an exhibit. The application must be received at ANA by June 21. Exhibits vary in size and scope -- from a one-case specialized exhibit, to a ten-case sampling of a topic, or anything in between.

Exhibiting does take a commitment of time -- the exhibits must be in place by the Tuesday morning opening of the convention, and the exhibits cannot be removed until very late on Saturday afternoon (when the convention closes).

The Numismatic Theatre of years past has been renamed as Money Talks; the page at has links for proposing a talk at the summer convention. The speaker's proposal must be received at ANA by June 5; in some years, the schedule filled up before the posted deadline, so do not procrastinate.

Send any questions to the local committee at (that is not a typo -- it means we have a little experience!)

On John Work Garrett's Senate Race
Tom DeLorey writes:

Garrett Senator pinback Garrett's Senate race was news to me. A reference can be found here:

Paul Bosco writes:

Whitehead-Hoag bought the patent for this kind of political button in the 1890s and in short order (meaning 1896) it was doing a large business in the stuff. Garrett's campaign can probably be dated to an exact year from the exact form of the printed inner disc on the pinback side.

Fred Michaelson writes:

I found nothing about J. W. Garrett running for office, but in his book about the Garrett collection, Dave Bowers writes that Garrett entered the diplomatic service in 1901. He served in the Hague, Berlin, and Rome. His first ministerial post was in Venezuela from 1910 to 1911, then three years as minister in Argentina. At the outbreak of World War I he was appointed as a special agent of the State Department to assist Myron T. Herrick, the U. S. Ambassador to France. In 1917 he was named minister to the Netherlands and Luxembourg. In 1918 he became chairman of a special diplomatic mission to Berne, Switzerland, where the treaty with Germany regarding prisoners of war was signed on November 11, 1918.

After the war he returned to Baltimore and served as secretary general of the Conference on the Limitation of Armament in Washington, 1921 to 1922. President Hoover appointed him as American ambassador to Rome in 1929, a position he retained until 1933. During these years, he had the opportunity to observe the dictatorship of Mussolini. Upon his departure he was given the Grand Cross of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus, the highest order conferred on anyone except royalty by the king of Italy. Again, these are the words of Dave Bowers. This is the closest thing I could find to any political activity by John Work Garrett.

Pete Smith writes:

John Work Garrett never ran as a candidate for U.S. Senate. In 1922 he ran for the Republican party nomination to run for Senator from Maryland. The nomination went to incumbent Joseph France who lost in the general election. In January 2013 a somewhat rusty campaign pin for Garrett sold for $45.08.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: QUERY: JOHN WORK GARRETT SENATORIAL RACE INFO SOUGHT (

Reed Hawn 1803 US Large Cent Price
Regarding Bob Metzger's question about lot #1112 in Stack's Reed Hawn Auction Sale of December 1993, W. David Perkins writes:

The “Hammer Price” per the Stack’s prices realized for Lot 1112 in the 1993 Reed Hawn Sale was $475.00. There was a 10% buyer’s fee charged in addition to the hammer price, thus Bob paid $522.50 plus any postage and / or handling Stack’s may have charged at this time.

Pete Smith also confirmed the catalog listing. Thanks, folks!

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: APRIL 7, 2013 : Query: Reed Hawn Sale Hammer Price Sought (

The U.S. Mint's Five-Star Generals Coins
Joe Boling writes:

I ordered my Five-Star Generals set during the opening hour, and had them within a week, so I got mine out to look at the variable frosting that James Bucki wrote about. Sure enough, the differences on the reverse of the dollar are easily seen. At 4x or 5x, the lamp looks a bit yellow. One thing they were not able to do was leave the open areas of the crest on the lamp showing the lamp's degree of frost - those areas share the less-vivid frost of the rest of the crest. On the reverse of the half dollar, where that crest is the whole design, they easily were able to leave the open areas alone, showing the mirror finish of the rest of the fields.

I had no trouble at all placing the order for this set and the Girl Scout dollar, a Montford Point Marines medal, and a roll of the McKinley dollars. Either the mint has gotten their website fixed, or there was not much ordering pressure for these coins. I suspect the latter.

Howard Daniel III writes:

I could not believe the designs of the 5-Star Army Generals Coins! All of the generals were handpicked by General Marshall, and he should be on the gold coin and not General MacArthur! General MacArthur should have been court-martialed for his disastarous defense of the Philippines! And he was relieved by President Truman for not following orders! If he did not like the orders, he should have resigned. Was there any input from World War II and Korean War historians?

On the other coins, General Eisenhower should be in the superior position and paired with General Bradley because the latter was Ike's subordinate. And MacArthur should be with the General Arnold on a coin, and the latter in the superior position. General Arnold's air force did more to force Japan to surrender than General MacArthur!

I know a VERY active collector of General MacArthur memorabilia and often find new items for his collection. I will continue to look for new pieces for him so he will be shoc

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: THE U.S. MINT'S LASER FROSTING TECHNIQUES (

On Curved Coins
Fred Michaelson writes:

When the Mint sells these concave/convex baseball coins, they ought to offer a handle (at an extra cost, of course) so that it could be used as a spoon---perfect for eating at a ball game.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: APRIL 7, 2013: More on Curved Coins (


Last week Jerry Fochtman inquired about photos of the Treasury Department's exhibits at the 1893 Columbian Exposition. -Editor

Greg Adams writes:

I think the picture that Jerry is looking for is on the bottom of page 5 of “The Guide Book of United States Commemorative Coins” by Q David Bowers, volume #10 of the Whitman “The Official Red Book” series, Copyright 2008 ISBN 0794822568.

NBS Vice President Marc Charles Ricard writes:

In response to Jerry Fochtman's question on the 1893 Exposition, I was doing research on a mint set that may have been exhibited there. I went to the library of the Chicago History Museum, which contained an extensive collection of actual documents from, and relating to, the Exposition. The collection was vast and I was seeking very specific information. I did not have the time that day to deeply research all of the files. If he has an afternoon to spend with history, I would highly recommend the museum and its library.

George Cuhaj writes:

Treasury Building exhibit1 Several years ago I had the pleasure to visit a friend who worked at the US Treasury building in Washington DC. Since the principals were not in that day, I got to see the "formal" rooms associated with the Treasurer's office as well as the office of the Secretary of the Treasury in addition some meeting/board rooms, and of course walked the halls.

In various locations on the walls, and in free standing displays were large wooden frames made up of unfinished proofs of the face and back of US Currencies - Nationals, Silver Certificates, Gold Certificates, US Notes, - and U.S. Revenue Stamps, regular postage and revenue designs. Near one lobby area was a large free standing column display with rotating panels to page thru which housed proofs of US Bonds. These are probably the remnants of those Exposition displays.

On a separate visit to DC I got to meet with the Director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Larry Felix. At that time in his office a similar large framed wall display was on the wall.

So, these exposition displays do exist in part, through Treasury and the BEP, and perhaps even elsewhere. I'm sure someone has the documents as to what Exposition they were from, and where they are now displayed.

Oh, and they notes in the frames are artistically displayed, they overlap, make quarter round and half-round fan patterns and such. In many cases a whole note is not visible. All are glued to the mounting board.

The images here are from Treasury, where I was allowed to take photos. No photos at BEP (except from the official BEP Photographer from BEP)

Wow - thanks! It's great to see that some of these exhibits may still be extant.

Treasury Building exhibit3

Treasury Building exhibit2



Paul Bosco writes:

As the last living Shammy Award winner, few are as well-appointed to chip in to the discussion as I am. Medals of Dishonor was a 2009 exhibit at the British Museum, happily memorialized in a catalog. Ben Weiss has lately lectured on subjects related to Man's baser instincts. The cream of numismatic Judaica is the satirical output of anti-Semites like highly-collectible medalist Christian Wermuth, and Karl Goetz’s famous anti-black medal is illustrated in this week’s edition. Odium Numismatica is always worth our notice, and the sooner the better. So much of the best research consists of finding elusive contemporary notices of phenomena whose significance was slow to gain recognition. It’s so much better for The E-Sylum to be comprehensive than for it to be polite.

I am reminded of earlier discussions of John Ford’s legacy; which some did not appreciate, and others thought was fair game, salacious or not.

Oh. What’s the “Shammy Award”? It’s a creation of Joel Orosz. I guess it connotates both shame and sham. A couple decades ago I ran a 1/2-page ad in The Numismatist: “Numismatic Fact and Fiction: You Think You Can Tell Them Apart?” Offered for sale were various items, half of them products of my overheated imagination, half of them real. A phony Karl Goetz medal was based on a Woody Allen short story, the reverse depicting the hapless Kugelmass being chased through time by a large, hairy irregular verb. I won my prize for the description of a 1655 satirical Oliver Cromwell medal whose reverse showed Louis XIV, the Sun King, performing oral sex on the seated figure of Britannia. This medal is quite real, but if Joel was wrong, numismatically, he was right, morally: I truly am a dirtbag. Only a dirtbag would have in stock a medal showing contemporary (in 1655) attitudes about the place of the Commonwealth in Divine-Right Europe.

So today, circulating paper money records contemporary attitudes about the first black President of the United States. Since when is the standard for the preservation of historical records the preservation of GOOD TASTE??!!

Dusty Royer writes:

There are a number of Missouri paper mills (sales tax tokens) from the 1930s and 40s with many, many anti-FDR messages on them. These certainly came out during FDR's lifetime and during the time he was a sitting president. They are highly collectible and apparently collected at the time or they wouldn't have survived.

Jeff Kelley writes:

I think we need to reinforce not only the desirability but the urgency of documenting things as we find them. I sort of feel that it is our responsibility as people who have an interest in numismatics to document and preserve items that are (or will be) of numismatic interest. For me, one of the most fulfilling parts of collecting is preserving things today that will be interesting or historically important in the future.

I think about the countless hours modern-day researchers spend trying to identify and document the origin of older items, sometimes without any luck. We have the power to make things immeasurably easier for future collectors and researchers and we should not be afraid to use it.

I hope that Rich Bottles and others won’t be deterred from future submissions about coins/currency of a political nature. I could send images of many modern political messages on coins and currency - enough to offend everyone - but I do not think The E-Sylum would ever recover. Perhaps someday I will send along images of an anti-Woodrow Wilson buffalo nickel I have - it is almost 100 years old and hopefully well beyond the memory or interest of any modern day political partisans; the imagery it carries is quite a bit more severe than the “Obama Sucks” message!

Ron Guth writes:

In the numismatic world, it is quite an honor to be told that you suck. The "You Suck" award is a prominent feature on the PCGS Message Boards. According to one member, the You Suck award is given for "finding or buying something for next to nothing that's worth quite a bit more." This can include cherrypicking a rare variety, receiving a high grade on a submission, discovering a new variety, or any number of possibilities.

The award for the biggest You Suck award is nebulous, but the leading candidate appears to be the " Sumorada Hoard" of over 11,000 Washington Presidential Dollars, all missing the edge lettering.

To read the Collector's Universe thread, see: I am curious.... Who has been awarded the biggest "You Suck" around here? The Ultimate... The Current Record Holder??? (

Thanks for your comments on this issue, everyone. This has been a rewarding topic despite its lowly inception. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: MORE ON POLITICS AND NUMISMATICS (


Tom Casper writes:

I have added watch fobs to my exomumia collecton for a while. I agree with Dick Johnson that watch fobs are numismatic for all the reasons he mentions. In addition, most fobs contain advertising for events or businesses just as tokens and medals do. I wanted to mention Schwaab Stamp & Seal Co. of Milwaukee, WI as a prolific issuer of watch fobs. At one time they claimed to be the largest producer of watch fobs in the U.S. Attached are scans of one of their pieces. I will have an exhibit of Schwaab-made material at the Central States Convention in Schaumburg, IL from April 25-27, 2013.

Schwaab fob obv Schwaab fob rev

Bill Hyder submitted these thoughts (and great images) on watch fobs as numismatic items. Thanks! -Editor
I agree with Dick Johnson's assessment; yes - many watch fobs are numismatic. Some fobs and medals were struck with the same dies, both obverse and reverse, while others were struck uniface for fobs. Careful examination will show that the fob portion was removed from the medal. In other cases, careful examination will show that the medal was struck without the fob attachment.

AYP Watch Fob
Fob from the Bill Hyder collection

AYP medal
Medal from the Iversen collection

AYP die trial
Die trial of the obverse die from the Iversen collection

McCormick Reaper Centennial medal die The loop for the AYPE piece may have been incorporated in the reverse die since it is not present on the obverse die trial. An example of an integrated loop can be seen on the Medallic Art die for the McCormick Reaper Centennial medal (H&K 460). I have not seen the McCormick medal with a loop, so I suspect they were trimmed off when the medal was finished, although they could have been retained when needed.

Gene Brandenburg writes:

During the late 1960's I attended a tiny 6 or 7 dealer coin show held in a local junior high school (Suitland, Md.). I recall buying a silver watchfob with a $5.00 gold liberty embedded in the center ($17.50). An inscription read "happy birthday from father" or something similar. I soon fobbed it off (sorry) on someone else and wonder if it still exists - did it survive the great melt of 1979-1980, or the current one ?

Steve Tannenbaum used to display pages of watchfobs for sale at his bourse table, FWIW.

Joe Boling writes:

The Japanese military used watch fobs as graduation insignia from various military schools. When I was getting monthly Japanese numismatic auction catalog (sadly no longer published), it often offered fobs.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: ARE WATCHFOBS NUMISMATIC? (


The April 22, 2013 edition of Coin World included Joel Orosz' Numismatic Bookie column, which focused this time on the perseverance of Sylvester Sage Crosby, author of The Early Coins of America . -Editor

Sylvester Crosby Sylvester Sage Crosby’s timeless classic, The Early Coins of America, was the brainchild of Charles Chaplin, vice president of the New England Numismatic and Archeological Society.

Chaplin (not the silent movie star), named Crosby to chair a six-person Publications Committee in 1872 to write the definitive reference on American Colonial coins.

When the Publications Committee members realized the magnitude of the topic, five — including Chaplin — resigned.

Crosby was left alone to do six men’s work. Most people would have quit, but Sylvester came from strong stock. His father, Rev. Jazaniah Crosby, at age 18, walked 80 miles to start theological training at Phillips Exeter Academy.

Late in 1872, Sylvester began visiting archives, studying laws authorizing coinage, and corresponding with numerous collectors and scholars. He planned to write 10 sections of 32 pages each, to be published, as each was completed, in The American Journal of Numismatics. Ultimately, he required a dozen sections of 32 pages, for a total of 384.

Each section was priced at $1, and in 1875, when all were completed, the unbound set of 12 could be purchased for $12. This was a hefty price for the era, but The Early Coins of America was a hefty book, and impressively, it was illustrated by 12 photographic plates.

Crosby’s plates featured superb images of coins borrowed from famous collections, all produced by the new heliotype process. Only 350 sets of the 12 sections were printed, and today they are found in a bewildering variety of bindings. A total of 160 individuals and institutions subscribed to the project; their copies are bound according to their individual tastes.

Today, 1875 originals sell for at least $1,000. Crosby got the last laugh on the Publications Committee quitters. When the American Numismatic Society erected its new headquarters building in 1931, they engraved the names of six great numismatists into its entablature.

The only American name was “Crosby.”

To read the complete article, see: Perseverance prevails (


Maureen and Stuart Levine submitted this article about a great Longacre pattern five cent piece with a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Thanks! -Editor

1866 Lincoln Five cent pattern obverse 1866 Lincoln Five cent pattern reverse

Watching Daniel Day-Lewis’s outstanding portrayal of our 16th president last night provided the inspiration for this week’s contribution to The E-Sylum. Abraham Lincoln’s courage and steadfastness seemed even more extraordinary as he stayed his course despite opposition from those closest to him.

Most Americans who have held Lincoln’s ubiquitous portrait in their hands since childhood would be surprised to learn that the first Lincoln coin did not progress beyond the pattern stage. A variety of medals and tokens with Lincoln’s likeness were being produced after his assassination, and to feature his image on a coin seemed appropriate. James B. Longacre was asked to provide designs for the new five cent coinage that had been proposed. His 1866 five cent design with the profile of recently assassinated President Lincoln was not adopted. Breen stated that Mint Director Pollock’s concern about a negative reception from the southern states was the reason. However, Pollock also rejected Longacre’s Washington head designs, leaving us with the shield nickel as our first five cent coin.

Eric P. Newman’s example of this excessively rare pattern is among the EPNNES coins being offered at Heritage Auction’s Platinum Night on April 25 at CSNS. The description follows:

1866 Lincoln Portrait Five Cent in Copper Judd-487, PR64 Brown

3955 1866 Five Cents, Judd-487, Pollock-576, R.7, PR64 Brown NGC. CAC .

Design. The obverse centers around the portrait of Lincoln in profile, facing right. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA circles the bust above, with the date below. The reverse shows the denominational figure 5 above the word CENTS, encircled by a large wreath, with IN GOD WE TRUST above. Struck in copper with a plain edge.

Commentary. “The excessively rare pattern with the bust of Lincoln” is the description of this pattern on the accompanying envelope. The Lincoln portrait patterns include Judd-486, 487, and 488, with a combined NGC and PCGS population of eight, nine, and four pieces respectively. In an early auction appearance, an example of Judd-487 was paired with a specimen of Judd-486 in lot 1090 of the R.C. Davis Collection (New York Coin & Stamp, 1/1890):

“1866 Five Cents: nude busts of Lincoln r. R Value in olive wreath, motto above: nickel and copper: proofs: exceedingly rare; 2pcs.”

Robert Coulton Davis wrote the first serious work on patterns, published in the Coin Collectors Journal in 1885, and the sale of his collection was a landmark event for pattern collectors. Eric P. Newman’s evaluation of these patterns as “excessively rare” echoed the New York Coin & Stamp cataloger’s assessment half a century earlier.

The U.S. Mint’s consideration of the Lincoln portrait for coinage was an extraordinary gesture of compassion, coming within a year of his assassination. This tribute culminated in Lincoln’s appearance on regular issue coinage in 1909 via Victor David Brenner’s unsurpassed depiction of Lincoln on the new cent of that year.

Physical Description. This Choice proof has satin luster with slight field reflectivity, rather than the mirrored surfaces of most proof patterns. Both sides are medium brown with hints of delicate green patina and a few scattered toning specks. The design elements are sharply detailed throughout and visual appeal is quite strong. All Lincoln patterns are rare and seldom encountered.

Provenance. “Colonel” E.H.R. Green; Green Estate; Partnership of Eric P. Newman/B.G. Johnson d.b.a. St. Louis Stamp & Coin Co.; Eric P. Newman @ $125; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.

From The Eric P. Newman Collection. PCGS# 60683

To read the complete lot description, see: 1866 5C Five Cents, Judd-487, Pollock-576, R.7 (


Silver Dollar Receipt

Dave Ginsburg writes:

The above receipt is a recent eBay purchase. So far, neither Roger Burdette, Michael Fey nor Leroy Van Allan have ever seen an example of this receipt.

My speculation is that because silver dollars were used to secure silver certificates that the Treasury had a special interest in knowing how many silver dollars were in storage, so they created a special form for bankers and others to request them from sub-treasuries.

Perhaps one of the E-Sylum's subscribers can shed some light on it?

Interesting. I've never seen one of these, either. I like the N.O.L.A. abbreviation for New Orleans, Louisiana. Can anyone help? -Editor

To read the complete article, see: ()


Here's an interesting item from another U.S. Mint - Denver. It's one of six 1906-D double eagle presentation strikes fed into the press by David H. Moffat. Here's an excerpt from the Heritage catalog entry. -Editor

1906-D double eagle special strike obverse 1906-D double eagle special strike reverse

1906-D Special Strike Double Eagle, SP66
Fourth Example of Six Struck
Presentation Piece to Colorado Pioneer Isaac Gotthelf

1906-D $20 Special Strike SP66 PCGS. CAC. Fourth 1906-D Double Eagle Struck in Denver

This branch mint proof 1906-D Liberty Head double eagle certified SP66 by PCGS is the fourth example of six pieces struck to mark the official opening of the Denver Mint on April 2, 1906. This coin was presented to Colorado early pioneer Isaac Gotthelf (1844-1910) in April 1906 a few days after its striking; documentation attesting to the coin's creation and presentation are included with the lot. This is a coin of immense historical importance, as well as an aesthetically beautiful example of the early-20th century proof Liberty Head gold coinage. And seldom does a coin of such vintage appear with original documentation that places its creation exactly as to time and circumstances as well as place, despite the fact that this marvelous coin is now 107 years old.

The Denver Mint was formally opened in 1906, but its history dates back much further to the late 1850s-1860s, when gold was discovered in Colorado along the Platte River as early as 1852. The Denver Mint's forebears were the Territorial assayers and coiners Clark, Gruber and Co. Brothers Austin Clark and Milton Clark went from equipping gold miners and assaying gold dust to making "Pike's Peak Gold" in Denver, Colorado Territory, 1860, in partnership with Emanuel Gruber. Clark, Gruber were well-respected coiners of the era, making gold coins from their facilities at 16th and Market streets that were actually a tad overweight compared to the Federal standard, a refreshing change from some of the debacles of the California Gold Rush coiners.

Their 1860-dated quarter eagles and half eagles imitated the Federal style, while their ten and twenty dollar pieces of that year had the fantastic "volcano" motif intended to represent Pike's Peak. By 1861 all of the four gold denominations resembled the Federal coinage. In 1862 the United States actually purchased the property of Clark, Gruber, proposing a new branch mint for gold coinage. However, to the chagrin of the local populace, the United States Mint at Denver opened in September 1863 -- as an assaying operation only.

The Denver Mint thus existed for some four decades before it ever made its first Federal coins. The generally accepted reasons were the existence of the San Francisco Mint, opened in 1854, and the Carson City Mint, which struck coins from 1870 to 1893; the two together were believed sufficient for the coinage needs of the far West. A new Denver Mint facility was begun on West Colfax Street in 1897, and the assaying operations were transferred there in 1904. Herman Silver was listed variously in records as Mint director, assayer, and superintendent.

Accompanying the coin is an original letter dated April 10, 1906, testifying to the coin's authenticity as the fourth example struck, addressed to the Hon. Isaac Gotthelf and signed by two Denver Mint officials. The full text of the letter reads:

1906-D double eagle special strike letter "MINT OF THE UNITED STATES AT DENVER

April 10, 1906.

Hon. Isaac Gotthelf
2601 Champa St.,
Denver, Colorado.

My Dear Mr. Gotthelf:-

I take pleasure in handing you herewith the fourth $20 gold piece stamped at the United States Mint at Denver, Colorado on Monday, April 2, 1906. You will notice by the Denver Republican of April 3rd., 1906, that the Honorable David H. Moffat fed into the press six double eagle blanks, from which were made $20 gold pieces, he receiving the first one, my brother Charles Tarbell the second one, Mr. F.G. Moffatt the 3rd., and I am saving for my brother-in-law Mr. W.L. Hartman of Pueblo the 5th.

With kindest regards, I am,

Yours very truly,

(signed) Harry Tarbell / Coiner

I hereby certify that the above double eagle mentioned was the fourth $20 gold piece struck at the United States Mint at Denver, Colorado, on April 2, 1906.

(signed) Paul R. Hempel / Foreman Coining Room."

To read the complete article, see: Lot 4597 1906-D $20 Special Strike SP66 PCGS (

Archives International Auctions, Part XIV

Auction Update - Archives International Live
Save the Date
Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

in Fort Lee, New Jersey

Ireland 50 Pound note

Rare U.S. & Worldwide Banknotes, Scripophily and Security Printing Ephemera Including Additional Selections from the Hamtramck Collection, another offering from the American Bank Note Commemoratives Inventory as well as Properties of Banknotes, Coins and Scripophily from various consignors.

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 in Fort Lee, New Jersey

Included will be over 1000 lots of Rare Worldwide Banknotes, Coins and Scripophily. Please view our website for auction updates

1580 Lemoine Avenue, Suite #7
Fort Lee, NJ 07024
Phone: 201-944-4800


Not much time this week to write my diary. I did have a meeting of my Northern Virginia numismatic social group, Nummis Nova. Eric Schena delighted me with a gift of two different examples of "Floyd Hours" notes, an alternate currency from Floyd, VA. He's tracked these down and is trying to schedule time with one of the creators of the notes to document their history.

Floydian Scrip Quarter Hour Floydian Scrip Quarter Hour back

Floydian Scrip One Hour front Floydian Scrip One Hour

On a non-numismatic note, I took my son Tyler and his grandfather to see "42" Saturday night - the new biopic about baseball player Jackie Robinson. All three of us would highly recommend it. Harrison Ford is unrecognizable as Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers owner who signed Robinson as the first black player in the major leagues. Ford channels Burgess Meredith with a gravelly voice and perpetual cigar. Yet he doesn't steal the show because the entire cast is awesome. Trust me - there will be a slew of Academy Award nominations for this film next year. At the end our audience broke into spontaneous applause, a rare event these days.


In his latest Remember When blog, Harvey Stack reveals his personal collecting interest - silver and mixed metal assayer and refiner ingots. -Editor

Harvey Stack Ingot Collection I gravitated toward series that were not commercially in vogue at the time I collected them. I have always been a student of history and the lore of the past and this, in combination with the economic training I received in college, led me to an interest in pioneer and territorial ingots. These were the introduction of currency, primarily in the western United States. Occasionally as part of a collection, Stack’s would acquire gold nuggets, mixed metal ingots (made of a combination of gold, silver and copper), and other ingots with assayer names, weights, and valuations stamped on them.

Back in the 1950s, I didn’t have the funds to acquire gold ingots and so I concentrated on the mixed metal ones that came into the shop. At the time the value of the bullion and silver were small, so I could acquire some of the pieces. I became interested in the mining areas where the precious metal was found and also in the history of the assayers and refiners, some of whom worked “right on the spot.”

I learned of the history surrounding these early monetary ingots, starting with the discovery of gold in California in 1848, the difficulties of panning and mining, the primitive living conditions and the early use of dust and nuggets in commerce. I learned of how San Francisco developed virtually overnight as the port city where supplies came in and precious metals went out. I learned of how the people in the West progressed from using dust and nuggets, to assayed metal bars with their values stamped in dollars and cents, and eventually to coins, both private and, eventually, federal.

J.K. Lilly, who also was fascinated by the sea and the monetary history of the Western Hemisphere, shared these interests. He started his collection with a dozen different doubloons from Stack’s in 1951. I had the opportunity to discuss these matters with him and enjoyed talking with him about the economics, history and lore of early western United States culture.

I eventually gave my collection of silver and mixed metal ingots to the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution where it still resides today.

To read the complete article, see: Remember When: What Do I Collect? (

Kraljevvich esylum8JPG


Several readers sent in items on BitCoin this week. We covered the topic a couple years ago when they first hit the scene (see the below links to E-Sylum articles in May and October 2011). In the interim they hit the big time, culminating in a huge price run-up (and bust) in recent weeks. -Editor

Numismatic literature dealer John H. Burns forwarded this New York Times article. Thanks.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss have been many things in a short time: Olympic rowers. Nemeses of Mark Zuckerberg. Characters on "The Simpsons." Now they can add a new label: bitcoin moguls.

The 31-year-old identical twins have amassed since last summer what appears to be one of the single largest portfolios of the online currency that has caused such a stir in financial and technology circles.

An array of speculators have now bid up the price of the bitcoin to the point where the outstanding supply of the digital money was worth $1.3 billion at last count. The Winklevii—as they are popularly known—say they own nearly 1 percent of that, or some $11 million.

The decision by the brothers to go public with their position signals a new stage for what has been an experimental alternative to national currencies. Created in 2009 by a programmer or programmers known only by a pseudonym, the bitcoin world has been dominated by anonymous programmers and traders.

Now mainstream investments in the digital money are starting to emerge. On Thursday, a group of venture capitalists, including Andreessen Horowitz, announced that they were funding a bitcoin-related company, OpenCoin.

To read the complete article, see: As Big Investors Emerge, Bitcoin Gets Ready for its Close-Up (

Kavan Ratnatunga writes:

Digital currency - another numismatic curiosity. I don't fully understand how it works, but IMHO the bubble will burst someday soon.

Kavan provided links to multiple articles. Thanks! -Editor

To read the complete article, see: Digital Gold Rush: The Bitcoin Boom and Its Many Risks (

To read the complete article, see: How to buy and sell Bitcoins -- Part 1: Theory (

To read the complete article, see: How to buy and sell Bitcoins -- Part 2: Practical (

Some of the recent volatility in the value of the BitCoin is due to the actions of computer hackers. They can't break the security codes that define the currency, but they have been able to hobble the BitCoin exchange servers with distributed denial of service attacks (ddos) - basically, they use a bunch of other computers to send messages to the BitCoin servers, loading them down with too much traffic to handle. -Editor

"The Bitcoin-to-USD exchange rate had been climbing steadily since January 2013, from around 30 USD to over 250 USD only 24 hours ago. Now, the value bubble seems to have burst, at least partially. The primary trading site MtGox reported a drop in value all the way down to 140 USD today, a loss of almost half in real value. With many sites unreachable or slow, there are also news of a possible DDoS attack on MtGox: 'Attackers wait until the price of Bitcoins reaches a certain value, sell, destabilize the exchange, wait for everybody to panic-sell their Bitcoins, wait for the price to drop to a certain amount, then stop the attack and start buying as much as they can. Repeat this two or three times like we saw over the past few days and they profit.'"

To read the complete article, see: BitCoin Value Collapses, Possibly Due To DDoS (


To read the complete article, see: Bitcoin Is Crashing (

John Burns writes:

Now THIS is numismatic....I'm not really sure what they mean though.

The article mentions the physical tokens someone began manufacturing to correspond one-one with the virtual currency. I've never seen one, but they're out there. -Editor

With $600 stuffed in one pocket and a smartphone tucked in the other, Patricio Fink recently struck the kind of deal that's feeding the rise of a new kind of money — a virtual currency whose oscillations have pulled geeks and speculators alike through stomach-churning highs and lows.

The Argentine software developer was dealing in bitcoins — getting an injection of the cybercurrency in exchange for a wad of real greenbacks he handed to a pair of Australian tourists in a Buenos Aires Starbucks. The visitors wanted spending money at black market rates without the risk of getting roughed up in one of the Argentine capital's black market exchanges. Fink wanted to pad his electronic wallet.

In the safety of the coffee shop, the tourists transferred Fink their bitcoins through an app on their smartphone and walked away with the cash.

"It's something that is new," said Fink, 24, who described the deal to The Associated Press over Skype. "And it's working."

It's transactions like these — up to 70,000 of them each day over the past month — that have propelled bitcoins from the world of Internet oddities to the cusp of mainstream use, a remarkable breakthrough for a currency which made its online debut only four years ago. When they first began pinging across the Internet, bitcoins could buy you almost nothing. Now, there's almost nothing bitcoins can't buy. From hard drugs to hard currency, songs to survival gear, cars to consumer goods, retailers are rushing to welcome the virtual currency whose unofficial symbol is a dollar-like, double-barred B.

BitCoin token maker Caldwell

One Bitcoin supporter with a unique perspective on the boom might be Mike Caldwell, a 35-year-old software engineer based in suburban Utah. Caldwell is unusual insofar as he mints physical versions of bitcoins at his residence, cranking out thousands of homemade tokens with codes protected by tamper-proof holographic seals — a retro-futuristic kind of prepaid cash.

Caldwell acknowledges that the physical coins were intended as novelty items, minted for the benefit of people "who had a hard time grasping a virtual coin."

But that hasn't held back business. Caldwell said he'd minted between 16,000 and 17,000 coins in the year and a half that he's been in business. Demand is so intense he recently announced he was accepting clients by invitation only.

Some may wonder whether Caldwell's coins will one day be among the few physical reminders of an expensive fad that evaporated into the electronic ether — perhaps the result of a breakdown in its electronic architecture, or maybe after a crackdown by government regulators.

When asked, Caldwell acknowledged that bitcoin might be in for a bumpy ride. But he drew the analogy between the peer-to-peer currency enthusiasts who hope to shake the finance world in the 2010s with the generation of peer-to-peer movie swappers who challenged the entertainment industry's business model in the 2000s.

"Movie pirates always win the long game against Hollywood," he said. "Bitcoin works the same way."

Dick Johnson writes:

Bitcoins made news this week. I read the Associated Press Report, and a Wall Street Journal article on the subject, but did not grasp the full concept from either article.

It wasn't until I went to Wikipedia to learn the full extent of Bitcoins and cybercurency. Would you believe Wikipedia listed 122 references on the subject? It hadn't been on my radar screen, thus my lack of knowledge.

I would like to know are there Bitcoin collectors? Is there a Bitcoin Red Book? Are there Bitcoin Societies (BS)? I am sure there is a BSer out there who could enlighten me more on these new collectibles.

Inquiring minds would like to know

Physical BitCoins

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see: BITCOIN: ANOTHER ONLINE CURRENCY (


Although non-numismatic, bibliophiles should appreciate this article about the upcoming sale of a Bay Psalm book, the earliest book printed in what is now the USA. -Editor

Bay Psalm Book

On 26 November 2013, Sotheby’s New York will auction one of the finest surviving copies of the Bay Psalm Book – the first book printed in what is now the United States of America. The Congregationalist Puritans who emigrated to Massachusetts Bay in search of religious freedom quickly set about to translate and produce a version of the Book of Psalms that was a closer paraphrase of the Hebrew original than the one they had carried from England. The first edition of the resulting Bay Psalm Book was printed in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1640. No example of the Bay Psalm Book has appeared at auction since 1947, when another copy achieved a record auction price for any printed book at the time – many multiples of what other icons of printing achieved in that period, including the Gutenberg Bible, Shakespeare’s First Folio and Audubon’s Birds of America. The present example of the Bay Psalm Book from the Old South Church’s collection comes to auction at Sotheby’s New York with a pre-sale estimate of $15/30 million. “The Bay Psalm Book is a mythical rarity. Unseen on the marketplace for more than two generations, it has become too rare to collect. Yet here it is today, this modest little book printed in the American wilderness but embodying the values that created our nation: political freedom and religious liberty.”

To read the complete article, see: Sotheby's New York to auction the world's most valuable book: The Bay Psalm Book (


RENAISSANCE OF AMERICAN COINAGE: Wizard Coin Supply is the official distributor for Roger Burdette's three volume series that won NLG Book of the Year awards for 2006, 2007 and 2008. Contact us for dealer or distributor pricing at .


Turns out the James Joyce coin from Ireland I featured last week has a design error. Tony Hine forwarded this article from The Guardian. Thanks! Pabitra Saha also forwarded to article. -Editor

Irish €10 coin

A silver €10 coin issued by Ireland's central bank to commemorate James Joyce's Ulysses misquotes a line from the modernist masterpiece.

The new coin features a portrait of the author's face and a short quotation taken from the book's third chapter, into which an extra word has mistakenly been added.

The coin was launched at a private event at Newman House, St Stephen's Green – Joyce's alma mater when he was a student at University College Dublin.

The central bank's governor, Patrick Honohan, said: "The coin's design, combining portrait and concept in an original manner, reflects Joyce's standing as one of the leading figures in the modernist movement."

The quote comes from a scene when one of the two main characters, Stephen Dedalus, is walking along Sandymount Strand in the writer's native Dublin.

Joyce wrote: "Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read."

However, on the €10 (£8.50) coin the extra word "that" is inserted into the second sentence.

To read the complete article, see: What a Blooming mistake: Irish coin misquotes line from Ulysses (

Dick Hanscom forwarded this article from the BBC news. Thanks. -Editor

James Joyce The Central Bank of Ireland has said it regrets an error on a new commemorative coin that misquotes James Joyce.

The 10 euro coin features an image of the writer and a quote from his groundbreaking novel, Ulysses, which contains an extra word.

The Central Bank said that the coin was an artistic representation of the author and the text, and was "not intended as a literal representation".

However, the bank said it accepted there was an issue with its internal processes and was reviewing those processes.

The coin remains on sale, but the bank said it would inform purchasers of the error in advance.

Anyone who has already bought the coin and wishes to return it, will be given a full refund of the 46 euro purchase price.

To read the complete article, see: James Joyce: Bank regrets 'error' on coin (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: IRELAND'S NEW 10 EURO JAMES JOYCE COIN (

The gaffe hasn't stopped collectors from scooping up the coin depicting the popular writer. Here's an article I found in the Irish Times. -Editor

James Joyce coin A James Joyce commemorative coin featuring a misquote from the author’s masterpiece, Ulysses, proved popular with collectors when it went on sale yesterday.

A spokesman for the bank said yesterday evening that about 7,000 coins, of which 10,000 had been minted, had already been sold.

“He’s quite a popular figure so there was always going to be demand for it,” the spokesman said.

The special €10 coin depicts the first lines of chapter three of the novel pouring out of the top of the writer’s head in a stream of consciousness.

Joyce’s words read: “Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read.” However, the Central Bank coin mistakenly includes the word ‘that’ in the second sentence.

Earlier the bank said it regretted the error but added “the coin is an artistic representation of the author and text and not intended as a literal representation”.

Anyone who purchased the collectors’ item – at a cost of €46 – was informed of the error in the text and “anyone who may already have purchased the coin and wishes to return it will be facilitated with a full refund”, the Central Bank said in a statement.

To read the complete article, see: Flawed Joyce coin proves popular (


Interestingly, the coin design theme of words-emerging-from-the-writer's-head is showing up elsewhere. Pabitra Saha forwarded these images of new coins featuring writers. -Editor

 Lithuanian Maironio coin obverse  Lithuanian Maironio coin reverse
Maironio (Jonas Maciulis), Lithuanian poet

Latvia  Rudolf Blaumanis coin obverse Latvia  Rudolf Blaumanis coin reverse
Rudolf Blaumanis, Latvian writer


I don't think I've heard this term before - the 500 Euro banknote has a nickname: the 'bin laden'. -Editor

500-euro bin laden note The banknotes are called by many Europeans as ‘bin Ladens’ because they are rarely seen by ordinary people, as they are often the illicit currency of criminals.

The debate to discontinue the €500 ($655) note is being revisited, this time by Bank of America analyst and former International Monetary Fund employee Athanasios Vamvakidis, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In a research note released on Tuesday, Vamvakidis argues pulling the high denomination bill from circulation would lead to a slight depreciation in the euro, which would benefit local exports, and in turn, increase GDP. Above all, discontinuing the banknote would directly target organized crime.

Because many of the banknotes are tied up in contraband activity, this creates a ‘store of value’ according to Vamvakidis, and is the core problem with the €500 bill, as they end up as ‘mattress money’. This money doesn’t circulate through the economy in day to day transactions, and for this reason they should be done away with.

A European Central Bank study found only one-third of these notes are actually used for transactions the rest lay dormant.

The €500 notes were first printed in 2002, and since their introduction, only one-third are in circulation, according to a study by the ECB. Because of their high value, they are used for saving, not spending.

To read the complete article, see: Time to pull the plug on the ‘bin Laden’ 500 euro note – Bank of America (


It can be interesting to read coverage of numismatic events in non-hobby publications. Here's an article from Al Arabiya English about the recent sale of a Palestinian banknote. -Editor

Palestine Currency Board 100 Pound Note

An Arab buyer in London has paid £65,000 (almost $100,000) for a rare Palestinian banknote that was auctioned this week in the British capital.

The note, which was offered by Spink Auctions on Thursday, appeared for the first time in 40 years and was on sale with another 1,690 rare notes, many of them Palestinian.

The notes go back to the years between 1929 and 1944, before the creation of the state of Israel. Many of the other notes were from the Gulf, some dating back to the early stage of the Saudi Arabian state and others issued from Qatar, Dubai, and Kuwait.

The 100-pound Palestinian note, issued in 1929, is extremely rare and has attracted great attention at the auction, Ayman Abdou, an expert in rare banknotes said this week.

“The price which the note was sold at is not actually that expensive,” he told Al Arabiya.

“At the time, this note could have bought an entire plot of land in the most beautiful parts of Palestine,” Abdou said.

Abdou also said the note was particularly special because it remained in good condition, adding that its serial number is “A000000.”

“The notes that have zeros are usually very rare. They are printed to be distributed amongst central banks across the world. This means it had been rare since the day it was issued,” he said.

Spink did not name the names of its sellers and buyers for confidentiality, and so the identity of the Arab buyer has not been revealed.

To read the complete article, see: Rare Palestinian banknote bought for almost $100,000 in London (


Pictures From a Distant Country: Seeing America Through Old Paper Money. Join the Smithsonian’s Richard Doty in his engaging exploration of obsolete paper money—a beautiful gift for a collector, and a welcome addition to your own library. Hardcover, 296 pages, richly illustrated in full color. $24.95 at or call 800-546-2995.


Thanks to CoinUpdate for the link to this article about an art project involving extremely high-resolution photographs of ordinary coins. -Editor

coin photo exhibition Did you know that it costs the US Mint 2 cents to produce every 1 cent coin due to the cost of materials and production? Countries such as Canada have already done away with their lowest denomination coins due to their costs and lack of usefulness.

As these “worthless” coins cause debates in their governments about whether or not they should be abolished, photographer Martin John Callanan is on a mission to save them… not as a currency, but rather in photographs.

Callanan is working on a photo project titled The Fundamental Units, which is a series of extremely large prints showing the lowest value coins of countries around the world. The goal is to photograph the fundamental coins of 166 different countries.

coin photo exhibition penny He’s not just using any ol’ camera to shoot the images. Instead, he has teamed up with the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, UK, which runs what Callanan says is “Europe’s best microscope” (it’s an infinite focus 3D microscope).

Each coin is photographed with 4,000 individual (and tiny) exposures, and it takes three days of processing to turn those individual photos into a single composite photograph weighing 400 megapixels. Printed out, each photo measures 1.2×1.2 meters (~3.9 square feet).

The resulting photographs are meant to shown the “materiality of the coins and all the wear, tear, damage and corrosion.”

To read the complete article, see: Coins of the World Photographed Using Europe’s Best Microscope (

To learn more about The Fundamental Units, see:


Speaking of lowest denomination coins, Dick Johnson writes:

Canadian Nickels The apparent success of Canada eradicating the cent from circulation has lead many to consider doing away with the nickel as well. This filmed report gives the view of two merchants plus comments from a collector's viewpoint. It's worth the time to view.

Thanks! -Editor

To read the complete article, see: Is the nickel next on the chopping block? (


This week's Featured Web Page is the Civil War Token Society (CWTS).

Founded in 1967, the Civil War Token Society is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to help stimulate interest and research in the field of Civil War token collecting. Activities include publishing a journal (The Civil War Token Journal), conducting auctions, maintaining a reference library, providing an attribution service for a nominal fee, establishing State chapters and conducting regional meetings. There are currently over 1,000 active members.

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