The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Wayne Homren

New subscribers this week include Tom Jurkowsky and J. Schaeper, Jr. Welcome aboard! We have 1,650 email subscribers, plus 234 followers on Facebook.

First, a note that I'll be traveling this week and may not be able to produce a full issue next Sunday. Please send any responses and contributions early in the week if possible - thanks.

This week we open with the schedule of NBS events at the upcoming ANA convention and John Trumbull's 1795 miniature portraits on coins.

Other topics include Clifford Mishler's start in numismatics, the S.W. Chubbuck collection, Kelly's Coins and Chatter, Pax in Nummis medals, and a feature article by Dan Owens on the S.S. Central America's lost gold.

To learn more about the Royal Buddha bullet coin, “scratch-and-sniff” banknotes, "goofy-chilling" censorship, and Weasel 1 and Weasel 2, read on. Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Editor, The E-Sylum


Numismatic Bibliomania Society Vice President Marc Ricard forwarded this schedule of NBS events planned for this summer's American Numismatic Association convention, to be held near Chicago. More details will follow as room assignments and speaker schedule are finalized. -Editor

NBS logo Thursday, August 15, 11:30 a.m. - NBS Symposium
Thursday, August 15, 1:00 p.m - NBS Board Meeting
Friday, August 16, 11:30 a.m. - NBS General Meeting and Auction

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Washington portrait coins

Kay Olson Freeman writes:

Something odd is on exhibit at Macculloch Hall Historical Museum, Morristown, NJ. "Washington Coins" - oil portraits of Martha and George Washington on two silver dollars painted ca. 1795 by John Trumbull (1756-1843). Certainly, Trumbull is well-known artist. Would he paint on silver dollars? I cannot find anything about this online. I do not know if this is misunderstanding on part of Museum. Anyone ever hear of these two oil portraits painted on silver dollars?

I found this story in the New Jersey Independent Press. -Editor

Macculloch Hall Historical Museum is currently exhibiting some of its most popular pieces as well as many seldom-seen treasures which have been in storage.

This June 2 is Martha Washington’s birthday (1731). A rare miniature portrait of our nation’s first First Lady is on display in honor of her 282nd birthday. The unique miniature is next to another depicting her husband, George Washington. Both were painted on silver dollars by John Trumbull circa 1795. In addition to these portraits, other artifacts from Presidents and First Ladies are featured in the exhibit.

I've near heard of the existence of such miniatures before. Are any of our readers familiar with these? The exhibit is open through the end of June; hopefully one of our readers from the area can check it out and report back, or perhaps get more information from a curator. The above image is from the newspaper site and I think it was taken from Facebook, so it's not the highest resolution. What coins are these painted on? U.S. silver dollars? Spanish dollars? I'd love to see the other side of these. -Editor

To read the complete article, see: Macculloch Hall Historical Museum in Morristown to close 'Treasures from the Vault' exhibit, June 30 (


Clifford Mishler submitted these recollections triggered by a coin image in last week's issue. Thanks! -Editor

Australian discovery coinsIn scanning through this week’s edition of the E-Sylum, I was drawn to the picture of the ancient (?) coin shown in one article.

The coin depicted, a 1299 AH half dollar size copper one Pysa from Zanzibar in what is today Tanzania, is similar to the coin in my collection that I credit as having drawn my interest to the coin collecting discipline at the age of ten in 1950. The story of how that came to be is a bit too long to relate at this time, but I can share background sketch.

In 1950 I made a new friend in a new community to which I had been drawn that summer as a consequence of my father’s new business involvement. My new friend was a stamp collector. He undertook to interest me in that discipline, which did not take. However, in scanning through a stamp publication he shared with me, I came across a small advertisement from the Tatham Stamp & Coin Company of Springfield, Mass., offering coins on approval.

I wrote away for an approval selection, thinking at the time that if my friend thought I was taking up coin collecting, he would quit bugging me about stamp collecting. It worked. He quit bugging me, but the bonus was that it led me to the coin collecting discipline.

Among the coins included in the approval selection received by return mail was a similar example of the Zanzibar one the article said was dug up in Australia by WWII soldier Maurie Isenberg. I was virtually mesmerized by the coin, thinking it was about 750 years old, and that it must be a great bargain because it could be mine for less than a dollar. It immediately set me to discovering where Zanzibar was, what monetary system it represented, and anything else that might be pertinent. Along the way I discovered that my newfound treasure was only about 70 years old and of minimal value.

That single coin, however, led to my embarking on what has now been a nearly 63 year passion, a lifetime of enjoyment, and a very rewarding career. I still have the coin tucked away in one of my accumulations, and over the years have frequently passed it around as a show and tell item when talking before coin clubs or other groups. It was, I like to recount, the best investment in numismatics that my father ever made, even though it would command little more in today’s marketplace that what he forked over to purchase it for me way back then.

I have come to believe that the fact that I became a committed coin collector as a youngster motivated me to become a better student, particularly in the disciplines of history, geography, economics, mathematics, political science and such. Those qualifications, coupled with developing the ability to craft words and thoughts into understandable form, in turn paved the way for the development of a writing and publishing career that has been very enjoyable and rewarding. I cannot imagine that my father could have made a better numismatic investment, at least not on my behalf.

That coin as shown in the article we quoted was not actually one of the ones dug in Australia - it must have been the folly of a reporter or their assistant. But I'm glad it led to this great story! -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: ANCIENT COIN COULD REWRITE AUSTRALIAN HISTORY (


Presidential Auction #83

Presidential Coin & Antique Co., Inc.'s Auction Eighty-Three of Tokens, Medals and Political items will be held in conjunction with Whitman's Baltimore Coin & Currency Convention at the Baltimore Convention Center, June 20-23, 2013.

Hardcopies $6 - contact Joe Levine at or view the catalog online here .


David Stone submitted these notes on the Chubbuck token in silver and S. H. Chubbuck as a numismatist. Thanks! -Editor

Regarding the S.W. Chubbuck token in silver, Rulau's NY1060, it is no wonder Mike Greenspan never located an example. Mark Borckardt and I checked a plated example of the S.W. Chubbuck Collection (John W. Haseltine, 2/1873) and found the following information under lot 23 in the Storecards section:

"S.W. Chubbuck; Utica, N.Y.; rev., Telegraph Alphabet; silver proof; excessively rare; only 2 struck in this metal; 20."

The 20 refers to the size of the token (1 1/4 "). The Chubbuck sale was one of Haseltine's best efforts, and John Adams awarded it an A rating. The catalog includes many foreign and ancient coins, Washington pieces (including a Funeral Medal in gold) and tokens and medals. Colonials and patterns are well-represented (1792 half disme, N.E. shilling). The extensive U.S. section includes dollars of 1794, 1836, 1838, 1839, 1851, and 1852 and the half dollars include 1796 and 1797, though these seem to be low-quality examples. Quarters were probably the strongest series, with all the early key dates (1796, 1804, 1823, and 1827) represented. Many of the quarters were high quality examples. The plate of large cents Al Boka referred to includes images of three 1793s, an 1804, 1809, 1811, 1821, and 1832. The 1832 was a proof pedigreed to the Mortimer Mackenzie and Mickley collections. Chubbuck seems to have been a numismatist of the first order. Interesting stuff!

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: MORE ON S. W. CHUBBUCK (/


On a non-numismatic topic, Ray Williams writes:

Excellent issue! I was wondering about the Chubbuck script and token... The Morse Code on these two items is drastically different than what I learned in scouting and in the Military. I wonder when it was changed.

sos-in-morse-code Excellent question! I recall learning that the distress call "SOS" in Morse code is ... --- ... (dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot). On the Chubbuck pieces "S" is "dot dot dot" but "O" is not three dashes - it's two dots. An internet search revealed that what I learned was the International Morse Code. Chubbuck shows what is known today as American Morse Code. Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia. -Editor

Morse code has been in use for more than 160 years—longer than any other electrical coding system. What is called Morse code today is actually somewhat different from what was originally developed by Vail and Morse. The Modern International Morse code, or continental code, was created by Friedrich Clemens Gerke in 1848 and initially used for telegraphy between Hamburg and Cuxhaven in Germany. Gerke changed nearly half of the alphabet and all of the numerals resulting substantially in the modern form of the code.

After some minor changes, International Morse Code was standardized at the International Telegraphy Congress in 1865 in Paris, and was later made the standard by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Morse's original code specification, largely limited to use in the United States and Canada, became known as American Morse code or railroad code. American Morse code is now seldom used except in historical re-enactments.

To read the complete article, see: Morse code (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: MORE ON S. W. CHUBBUCK (/


On Becoming an eBay "Expert"
Howard Daniel writes:

At an ANA Convention a couple of years ago, I started a conversation with the eBay representative at their table about the Southeast Asia replicas and fantasies being sold on their system. He gave me his card and told me to email him if they were not taken off after I reported them. Until a few months ago, it was about 50-50 on eBay taking them down and I used to email him about those not being taken down.

Then I received an email from a lady at eBay. She told me I was selected as one of their experts and I would be forwarded all reports for me to comment on them to her. Since that date, 100% of what I tell her are replicas and fantasies are being taken off of eBay!

I do not believe I received the email from the lady at eBay because of the eBay representative I met at an ANA Convention, but because I also complained to the sellers besides reporting them. With a couple of sellers, there were several messages between me and them, and they started threatening me! Then one or both of them reported me to eBay. Bad idea on his part! The eBay lady contacted me and I gave her my story and backed it up with images, data, etc. Within a month or two, I got a letter back from the same lady and she told me I was going to be one of her experts.

I receive about 20 emails a day from her! But the great majority are US replicas and fantasies and I just delete them. But then a Southeast Asian piece is forwarded to me about once every two or three days and I comment on them. Most are replicas or fantasies but there are authentic pieces too. And now when I make the original report about a replica or fantasy myself, it is taken off the system within a day or two and I do not receive an email about it. That is OK because I get enough emails from her.

If anyone is interested in being added to the eBay "expert" list for their specialty, please contact me and I will forward your email to the eBay lady. No promises but I might be able to help.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: MAY 26, 2013: More on Fakes on eBay (

Numismatic Books in the Vatican Library
Howard Daniel writes:

Many, many years ago, I was corresponding with an old advanced collector of Vietnamese cash-style coins. Somehow he found an old manuscript in the Vatican Library about those coins. It was a fantastic manuscript with coin rubbings and he had it photocopied for me and several other collectors.

I know there are many other manuscripts in the Vatican Library about numismatic related subjects! The monks, priests, bishops, etc. sent out by the Vatican around the world reported back to the Vatican about their activities and also about what they saw around them. What they saw around them included financial instruments and they sent many of them back with their reports. So the Vatican also has a large numismatic collection too!

If they digitize the Vatican Library and put it online, that will greatly assist numismatists, but they also need to scan all of the financial instruments too. Will they take volunteers to assist them? I do not think so but we can always hope.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: DIGITIZING THE VATICAN LIBRARY (

People vs. Fish
Fred Michaelson writes:

I read with interest the article on the Kennedy Mint mass fish-murdering. The U.S. Attorney said that restitution will be used to restock the river with fish "SO THAT PEOPLE CAN AGAIN ENJOY THE NATURAL BEAUTY OF THE ROCKY RIVER.' Amazing!! How about "so the fish can have a healthy environment"? One more instance of human arrogance and self-centeredness. I am so disappointed in my species.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: KENNEDY MINT PLEADS GUILTY TO KILLING FISH (


Roger Burdette writes:

I am searching for auction catalogs, ads or other materials relating to the St. Louis Stamp and Coin Company, Frank E. Ellis, owner, prior to 1907. Contact: Roger Burdette,

Can anyone help? I went through some of my files and quickly found Fixed Price List No. 19 from the St. Louis Stamp and Coin Company, but this was produced under B. G. Johnson's ownership. -Editor

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Dave Hirt submitted this request for E-Sylum readers - can anyone help? What exactly constitutes a complete set of Kelly's Coins and Chatter? -Editor

Last week I was looking through David Sklow's current sale catalog. I noticed a long run of James Kelly's Coins and Chatter (Lot 398). I decided to pull my set from the shelf to compare.

I noticed that some issues that appeared to be missing from my set were also missing from the Sklow offering. This made question if these issues really exist. I looked in the Charles Davis work on American Numismatic Literature, but this periodical is not listed.

So I will turn to our great E-Sylum readers to find out what makes a complete set. My set is as follows:

  • 1948 Vol 1: 7 issues, first 3 called trial. Sept-Dec numbered 4-7
  • 1949 Vol 2: 11 issues, numbered 1-11 Oct issue missing
  • 1950 Vol 3: 11 issues (no Jan) plus an extra ANA issue
  • 1951 Vol 4: 11: issues (no Oct)
  • 1952 Vol 5: 9 issues Aug, Nov, Dec issues missing
  • 1953 Vol 6: 7 issues Feb, March, Oct, Nov, Dec missing,also an extra ANA issue.
  • 1954: 2 issues titled Vol 1, Vol 2
  • 1955 Vol 8: 6 issues Jan-June numbered 1-6 Others missing
  • 1956 Vol 9: 2 issues numbered 1 & 2, no months listed
  • 1957 Vol 10: 12 issues (first 3 issues mis numbered vol 7), Last 2 issues do not list month
  • 1958 Vol 11: 8 issues Jan-June numbered 1-6, other 2 issues, no month listed
  • 1959 Vol 12: 12 issues Jan-Dec
  • 1960 Vol 13: 12 issues Jan-Dec
  • 1961 Vol 14: 6 issues Jan-June (note with June issue that last 4 issues were sent as one mailing

Kelly's auction sales, 8 numbers in 7 sales are listed in Gengerke. All these issues, except a few of the auction sales were 4 page pamphlets, easily lost or misplaced. It is surprising to me that any long runs survived.

One good place to check is Remy Bourne's 1989 book American Numismatic Sales and Promotional Literature , where Kelly's Coins and Chatter is listed beginning on p110. I checked my copy and found that Bourne's list matches Dave's. Perhaps some of these missing issues exist but were unknown to Bourne. Does anyone have them? -Editor


The Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) has launched a great new program for fostering the development of young coin dealers. Here's the press release, forwarded by Donn Pearlman. Thanks. -Editor

Professional Numismatists Guild logo The Professional Numismatists Guild ( has announced it will create an education and mentoring program to recruit and train the next generation of coin dealers.

Entitled "Promoting Numismatic Growth" (PNG), the program will include online instruction about coins and the coin market followed by paid internships at some of the nation's best known dealerships and grading services.

"The goal of this program is to ensure industry growth through the education and mentoring of future professional numismatists," explained PNG Executive Director Robert Brueggeman.

"We've established a Young Numismatist Education Committee and we'll be developing a program that will provide a basic education in the fundamentals of numismatics followed by a rotating series of three-month internship programs at four numismatic companies. We anticipate we will begin taking applications this coming Fall from candidates 21 to 32 years of age, and the expense-paid internships will begin next year."

PNG officials will be hiring an administrator to oversee the day-to-day operations of the program, including development of the education courses and videos, recruitment and placement of interns and fund-raising to pay for the project. The plan calls for the PNG to pay the transportation and housing expenses for each intern in addition to the costs of creating the education courses and the expenses of administering the project. Companies hosting the interns would provide salaries to them during their internships.

"We envision a combination of courses and hands-on internship experience to give future professional numismatists knowledge about grading, counterfeit detection, coin and paper money photography and auctions as well as an advanced education about numismatics in general," said PNG President Jeffrey Bernberg.

"This is a huge project of unprecedented scope for the PNG and our member-dealers for the future of numismatics, but the potential positive benefits for the hobby and the profession are enormous."

To read the complete article, see: PNG Launching Numismatic Mentoring Program: Promoting Numismatic Growth (

Kudos to PNG for taking on this investment. I think it's a great idea. -Editor


Howard Daniel forwarded this review of the Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, Delaware. He writes:

It sounds like a place where token collectors might find a lot of information, and possibly collectors in other areas too.

A review of the Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, Delaware, United States of America.

While very well-known in the field of business history, the archives of the Hagley Museum and Library (200 Hagley Creek Road, Wilmington, Delaware 19807, USA) are often overlooked in other fields even though its materials are relevant to a wide swath of American history and culture. Housing the largest collection of American business company records in the world, the archives are located on the site of the original nineteenth-century DuPont gun powder mill, in a suburb of Wilmington, Delaware.

The archive got its start as the official DuPont Company museum before expanding its collection and broadening to its present-day focus on all American enterprise and history of industry and technology. It is most likely because of this auspicious connection to the DuPont Company and family legacy that the facilities are very well-maintained and the archive’s acquisition budget and support for visiting researchers is quite enviable. I spent a very pleasant month in residence at the archives there in the summer of 2012, looking at materials to help turn my dissertation into a book on the history of U.S. food labels and the role of companies, federal regulators, and diet scientists in reshaping how we eat and think about our food.

Most researchers come to the Hagley to look for materials directly related to a particular American business or trade association. According to one of the archivists I spoke with during my stay, the three most utilized records are the official (and massive) records of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the DuPont Company and family records, and the Ernest Dichter Papers.

This last one, in particular, fascinated me. Ernest Dichter (1907-1991) was a psychoanalyst turn advertising consultant in the 1950s. (He could be a character straight out of the television series Mad Men.) The Dichter files are capturing a lot of attention right now among those interested in consumer and advertising history, because he kept detailed records of consumer study research conducted for a variety of American companies in the 1940s through 1980s. They offer fascinating insight into the way companies thought about their consumers and how marketing shaped product design.

However, real opportunity lies in potential non-obvious discoveries one can make in the Hagley’s other collection materials. For example, I visited Hagley having been tipped off about its Litchfield Collection on the History of Fatty Materials, an excellent trove of food-related materials assembled by a private collector who was himself an edible oils engineer. The Litchfield Collection had a wide assortment of materials, ranging from old, out-of-print books to advertising pamphlets (listed as “PAM” in the library catalog), and on topics ranging from public advertising and popular culture to margarine and vegetable oils trade and technology.

It was at the Hagley that Len Augsburger discovered the long lost first account book of Henry Voigt from 1792; definitely worth a visit by numismatic researchers. -Editor


To read the complete article, see: Hagley Museum & Library, Wilmington (

To visit the Hagley web site, see:


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 .


David Klinger writes:

I have often thought that money stinks. But here is a story about how some Canadian money smells sweet. I found an example, and could not smell the maple syrup.

Mark Carney led the Bank of Canada through the financial crisis with aplomb but, until now, he has failed to answer one monetary question Canadians desperately want answered: Do Canadian banknotes smell of maple syrup?

Speculation is rife from the cornfields of Saskatchewan to the forest of Nova Scotia that the high-tech plastic-based $100 notes introduced by Mr Carney have a secret “scratch-and-sniff” panel that releases the distinctive scent of maple tree sap.

To read the complete article, see: Does Canadian money smell of maple syrup? (

Dick Hanscom forwarded an article from The Daily Mail. Thanks. -Editor

Dick writes:

I had a couple of Canadians in the store Thursday. I asked about the maple syrup smell. They said no, but there were people calling banks to make sure theirs were real because they didn't smell like maple syrup, and others asking if it had worn off!

Canada $100 bill The smell of success is particularly sweet in Canada as an unending stream of residents swear that the new $100 bill is the scent of maple syrup.

The national treasury released a new plastic bank note in November 2011, and they have received hundreds of emails from residents who are convinced that the bills have an added fragrance.

'They all have a scent which I’d say smells like maple? Please advise if this is normal?' wrote one concerned citizen.

Media liaisons for the Bank of Canada have repeatedly denied that there is any particular scent to the money, but that didn't stop concerned citizens.

The Canadian Press submitted a request for all of the emails the bank received from the public in regards to the issue, and there are enough to fill a maple syrup vat.

'I would like to know...once and for all if these bills are in fact scented, as I do detect a hint of maple when smelling the bill,' another such email read.

While some of the emails were focused on the question of whether or not they were scented, others were more concerned that their notes were defective since they had lost 'the scent'.

To read the complete article, see: Canadians complain their new plastic $100 bills have unmistakable aroma of maple syrup (


Speaking of Canadian paper money, this article is a reminder that the Canadian government is actively enforcing its copyright on the banknote images. -Editor

Veteran B.C. newspaper satirist Dan Murphy drew a funny editorial cartoon the other day. It looks like a $50 bill, except it’s for $90,000 and features a picture of Mike Duffy.

We would show it to you here, but Canadian law says that could land us in prison for six months. Murphy’s cartoon, you see, caught the attention of the Bank of Canada, which fired off a rocket of a letter demanding that the image be deleted from the website of his Edmonton-based representatives, Artizans.

You have to get permission before reproducing a banknote image, the letter said, and Murphy didn’t ask.

“Moreover,” it continued, “the bank will not approve requests where the reproduction tarnishes or diminishes the importance of currency to Canadians.”

While I believe the government is within its rights, I agree with the columnist that their heavy-handed approach infringes on free speech. He asks, "When did the Bank of Canada move its head office to Iran?" Obvious satire shouldn't be targeted. -Editor

Here's the artist's reaction:

Murphy, who has been drawing political cartoons since the ’60s, was amused/dumbfounded by the letter, particularly the bit where the bank gets to muzzle those who “tarnish” our feelings toward cash.

“They’re talking censorship here,” he said on the phone from Ladner. “It’s goofy, and at the same time, it’s chilling. It’s goofy-chilling.”

To read the complete article, see: Knox: Buck stops here when it comes to Duffy banknote (

Mind you, the offending cartoon might be findable somewhere on the Internet Just sayin'. Coincidentally, it just might describe "anti-counterfeiting measure #2: should smell like bacon".


Dick Hanscom forwarded this article from the CBC News about detecting counterfeit Canadian $100 polymer bills. Thanks. -Editor

detecting-counterfeit-100-dollar-bill Since Canada's new polymer bills were released last year, 59 counterfeit versions of various denominations have been caught across the country, according to the RCMP.

Sgt. Duncan Pound says people have become so confident the new bills can't be counterfeited that they are failing to check the security features.

Many of the fakes are also made from polymer, so police say it is important to check the security features to ensure the bills you receive are real.

"Counterfeiters will always try to do this because of the value of the notes. Please don't stop looking just because we have the best notes in the world," said Pound.

Several fakes of the $100 bill have already been spotted in B.C. In May, police in New Westminster said two counterfeit $100 bills were found at a local business and a major bank.

Police said the real bills clearly show the flag and rooftop of Parliament Hill's East Block in the hologram window, along with the number 100, repeated several times.

To read the complete article, see: 9 ways to avoid counterfeit polymer bills (


Columbian Coin Glass
Don Bailey writes:

You first asked about Columbian coin glass. The Columbian pieces were produced in 1892 – 1893 for the Columbian Expo in Chicago. As far as we know none of these were reproduced.

Coin Glass Book Author's Collection
Regarding the book on coin glass, Rich Hartzog writes:

When recently attempting to buy a small collection of Coin Glass, I called the author for more information, only to reach his son. The family still has his massive collection of Coin Glass, and they are attempting to sell it. Based on eBay sale prices realized, to me they appear to be optimistic on the price. But, they have a number of rare pieces, and the grouping might be of interest to the right collector.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: BOOK: U.S. COIN & COLUMBIAN COIN PATTERN GLASS (



Researcher Dan Owens submitted this great original article on the Lost Gold of the S.S. Central America. Thanks! While Bob Evans established how all the treasure recovered from the wreck was meticulously accounted for, not all of it was able to be brought up from the ocean floor. As noted, a good deal of gold may still be awaiting recovery. Dan has dug into U.S. Mint and other records to paint a more complete picture of what the ship may have be carrying when it sunk in 1857. -Editor

In the year that the S.S. Central America lost her battle in a full blown hurricane, embattled San Francisco Branch Mint Melter and Refiner, Agoston Haraszthy was facing down a storm of his own. More and more questions were beginning to swirl around him regarding the shortfall of gold unaccounted for in the official Mint ledgers. Suspecting the worse, cynics thought Haraszthy was stuffing his pockets with the precious metal. In reality the missing gold was literally being blown up through the Mint's chimney in smoke and soot. Thus changes in personnel and procedure, and Mint improvements were afloat after Haraszthy submitted his resignation early in the year.

In April of 1857, the Branch Mint's policy for receiving all forms of gold including unrefined dust to be coined into double eagles and smaller denominated gold coins was suspended with one notable exception. Refined gold bars of a quality suitable for coinage were accepted.

This temporary change in policy was apparently the equivalent of winning the lottery for gold refineries like the magnificent Eureka Gold & Silver Refinery and the California Metallurgical Works run by Haraszthy's business associate Charles Uznay and the firm of Justh & Hunter or Justh, Hunter & Uznay. The San Francisco Branch Mint's records revealed that from mid to late April through July 28th, 1857, these firms were the dominant depositors of refined gold bars being received at the Mint for coinage. They were supplying the Mint with parted gold bars ranging from 900 to 993 1/2 fine. Three of their bars that assayed out at only 876, 877 and 886 fine were rejected by the Mint.

Just prior to the Branch Mint's re-opening, Justh, Hunter & Uznay submitted a 14.01 oz. gold bar that was 998 1/2 fine. Perhaps they were just showing off their refining capabilities.

The Mint's re-opening for general deposits of gold bullion for coinage sputtered to a start in early August. The opening was subsequently postponed until August 10th. The S.S. Sonora left San Francisco just 10 days later on the morning of the 20th carrying over 400 passengers and almost $1.6 million in commercially consigned gold on the first leg of a journey bound for New York.

The second leg of the journey found the S.S. Sonora's passengers landing in Panama and traveling east across the Isthmus by train to Aspinwall where the S.S. Central America waited to pick them up and carry a little over $1.2 million in commercial gold back to New York City. The rest of the gold shipment was bound directly for Europe.

SS Central American treasure1 Recovered by Columbus-America Discovery Group, the commercial shipment of specie by weight was predominately in the form of 532 gold ingots bearing the hallmarks of several assayers including Kellogg & Humbert and Justh & Hunter. The treasure hunters also salvaged over 5,400 1857-S double eagles, most of them freshly struck, along with over 1,100 1856-S double eagles, 338 1855-S double eagles and a number of other gold coins.

According to the Branch Mint's records, in the days preceding the Sonora's departure from San Francisco, the assay clerk for Wells, Fargo & Co. had received over $110,000 in coin for deposited gold, including $73,116.46 on August 13th. The firm was the largest treasure shipper at the time and had a significant amount of gold onboard the S.S. Central America both in bars and coin.

The same held true for bankers Sather & Church. They received coin totaling over $140,000 from August 14th through August 18th. Once again, some of this coin must have ended up on the Central America. Sather & Church reportedly lost $57,000 over the amount covered by insurance when the ship sank and in November suffered a major run on their bank.

Parrott & Co. received coin totaling $42,475.77 and Tallant & Wilde received coin totaling $16,578.70 in the week preceding the Sonora's departure. Both firms lost significant amounts of treasure on the S.S. Central America. No doubt a sizeable amount was in bar form, but some of it must have been in the commercial consignment of the freshly struck 1857-S double eagles recovered by the treasure hunters. Levi Strauss, the clothing manufacturer, also had specie onboard the lost steamer. On August 17th, Strauss received coin for deposited gold adding up to $7,662.80.

What Remains to be Found?

The total dollar amount of treasure that the passengers carried with them onboard the Central America remains a complex mystery. Some passengers did very well in California while others were homeward bound nearly broke. On the other hand, not all of the passengers carried all of their wealth in physical gold aboard the ship. Several passengers including William McNeil and William Falconer were listed as having had bank drafts onboard the doomed vessel.

Of note, shipwreck survivor Captain Thomas W. Badger reportedly lost up to $20,000 in double eagles stored below deck. A search through the Branch Mint's ledgers, revealed the following names of S.S. Central America passengers who had cashed out at the San Francisco Branch Mint before they began their journey home on the S.S. Sonora.

John D. Dement: First Cabin passenger John D. Dement's name appeared in the Assayer's Register Of Gold Bullion. Deposited on the 11th, reported on the 12th, his gold deposits weighed 65.30 ozs. and 28.48 ozs. respectively and were found to be 829 and 911 1/2 fine after they had been melted, weighed and assayed. He signed the Register of Warrants for the Payment of Gold Deposits on August 15th, and received $1,650.18 in coin.

Robert Erdmann: Second Cabin passenger Robert Erdmann's gold deposit weighed 271.93 ozs. and was 894 1/2 fine, after it was melted, weighed and assayed. On August 17th, he obtained $4,997.03 in coin for his deposit. His last name was spelled as both Edmann and Erdman on published passenger lists. He signed his name as Robert Erdmann in the Branch Mint's record books.

R.C. Farnham: On August 14th, Steerage passenger R.C. Farnham signed the Branch Mint's Signature Book Of Gold and Silver Depositors. His gold deposit weighed 54.04 ozs. and was 936 1/2 fine, after it was melted, weighed, and assayed. On August 17th, Farnham and R.H. Horne (see below) re-visited the Mint perhaps looking for their payments. Farnham noted that his California residence was Pine Grove which I think was located in Sierra County. The following day he received $1,036.65 in coin.

John Fell: On August 10th, when the Mint re-opened, First Cabin passenger John Fell was one of the first depositors in line. His gold deposits weighed 270.13 and 181.63 ozs. respectively and were 876 1/2 and 860 1/2 fine after they were weighed, melted and assayed. Fell's name appeared in the Register of Warrants For The Payment of Gold Deposits on August 13th, where he was paid $4,872.68 and $3,219.71 respectively.

H. Frank: Steerage passenger H. Frank may have been the H. Frank or Henry Frank listed in the Branch Mint's record books. Frank wrote down in the Mint's records that he resided at the corner of Montgomery and Pacific in San Francisco. Henry Franks or Frank, cigar manufacturer, last appeared in the 1857 San Francisco City Directory published in January of 1858 at the NW corner of Montgomery and Pacific. On August 18th, he received $214.64 from the Mint for his gold deposit.

J. Fredet: There was a Steerage passenger onboard the S.S. Central America listed as J. Fredet or possibly M. Fredet. According to the Assayer's Register of Gold Bullion, J. Fredet's gold deposit weighed 74.14 ozs. and was 915 1/2 fine after it had been melted, weighed and assayed. On August 15th, he received $1,392.60 in coin.

B.P. Colt R.H. Horne

R.H. Horne-B.P. Colt: On August 12th, gold miners and Steerage passengers R.H. Horne and Benjamin P. Colt visited the Mint. Both men listed their California residence as being Rabbit Creek. I believe that Rabbit Creek was located in Sierra County. For some unknown reason only Horne decided to get his gold turned into coin. Perhaps Colt did not like the fees the Mint charged. Horne's gold weighed 373.34 ozs. after melting and was recorded as being 866 fine after it was assayed. On August 18th, he received $6,656.85 for his gold deposit.

However the Mint employees made a mistake when they mixed up the cornets of two separate deposits. In turn, they entered the fineness of Horne's deposit at 866 fine when it should have been 940 1/2 fine. Thus a new Mint receipt was issued to make up the difference.

One day before the S.S. Sonora left for Panama, R.H. Horne obtained an additional $534.20 from the Mint. Another gentleman with the last name of Horne from Rabbit Creek also visited the Mint during this time period. I don't know if he was related to R.H. Horne or if he was on the S.S. Central America.

J.D. Howe: Possible Steerage passenger J.D. Howe listed as J.D. Howe or Jas. D. Howe in the Mint's record books had deposited 9.75 ozs. of gold at 820 fine after it was melted, weighed and assayed. On August 17th, he was paid $165.23 for his gold.

J. McLellan: On August 17th, Steerage passenger John McLellan from Murphy's Camp, Calaveras County, visited the Mint and deposited his gold. He signed the Register Of Visitors To The Mint, together with a Hugh McLellan from the same location. According to the Assayer's Register of Gold Bullion, his gold deposit weighed 67.15 ozs. and was 905 1/2 fine after it was melted, weighed and assayed. Deposited on the 17th, reported on the 18th, McLellan's gold was processed right after J.L. Week's deposit (see below). I lost track of his deposit after that. Perhaps after he obtained a receipt for his deposited gold, he did not cash it.

Chilion Moore

C. Moore: On August 11th, First Cabin passenger C. Moore or Chilion Moore visited the Mint with his gold for deposit along with John Fell. Both men listed their California residence as being Deadwood. Bower's grand opus on the S.S. Central America noted that Fell had mined at McAdam's Bar in Siskiyou County. I believe this was just a short distance from Deadwood. Moore's gold weighed 283.37 ounces after it was melted and was determined to be 871 1/2 fine after it was assayed. On August 18th, Moore was paid $5,083.13 for his deposit.

E. Spohn: Steerage passenger E. Spohn, listed as E.L. Spohn in the Branch Mint's records received $153.54 for his deposited gold on August 17th, which may have just covered his ticket home. Spohn's gold weighed 8.26 ounces and was 905 1/2 fine after it was melted, weighed and assayed.

J.L. Weeks: Steerage passenger J.L. Weeks received $351.70 from the Mint on August 19th. Bowers noted that in a written letter from a close friend of Weeks, the author stated that Weeks had $3,000 in his gold belt. Deposited on the 17th, reported on the 18th, his gold weighed 18.83 ounces and was found to be 910 fine after it was melted, weighed and assayed.

The preceding gold deposits were all paid in coin. The Branch Mint was not returning gold bars to its depositors, i.e. miners, merchants and bankers during this time period.

They did return gold bars and coin to their depositors from April 1854 through September 1, 1856, from January through April 5th of 1858, and very briefly in June of 1859.

Regarding any future explorations of the shipwreck site, one has to consider the fact that the commercial shipment of specie was locked away in the strong room of the vessel. As the shipwreck degraded over the years and the wooden boxes containing the treasure were almost entirely eaten away, the gold ended up being exposed in a significant mountain of concentrated wealth.

There is no question that the S.S. Central America's passengers had gold with them. The real question is where did it end up. Some may have given it to the purser for safe keeping, while most probably kept it under their own watchful eyes until the end drew near.

Several miners unbuckled their gold belts and flung their treasure upon the deck, while others refused to let go of their earthly gains and sank with it beneath the waves. At least one gentleman was pulled from the sea with a significant amount of gold dust on him. Another man had a package full of gold fall from his pocket into the sea while trying to barrel roll into a lifeboat unannounced.

One of the more surreal scenes involved eyewitness accounts of passengers throwing gold dust to the wind in the ship's final moments, as if to offer the sea a bounty in order to save one's life. Regardless of the number of double eagles or gold dust remaining at the wreck site, perhaps in the end, it is the story of the passengers lives that is more memorable than the gold they left behind.

In closing, I highly recommend Q. David Bowers masterful work detailing the history of the Gold Rush and the sinking of the S.S. Central America and her recovered treasure. It is a must read and reference work for anyone interested in the fascinating story surrounding this lost and found treasure ship.

SS Central American treasure2

I would like to thank Roger Burdette and Dave Ginsburg for answering an e-mail inquiry I had about Branch Mint records.



Alan V. Weinberg writes:

There's a fascinating and revealing blog on the PCGS Message Boards entered today June 2nd- titled " Bank of California " - with numerous excellent and close-up color images taken at the San Francisco Bank of California numismatic exhibit by a European visitor.

Here's an excerpt. -Editor

Bank of California I visited the US for the very first time (I live in Europe). To be precise, Northern California.

Every visit to California should include San Francisco, and like so many people before me I have fallen in love with the city, its people (most of them), the food and so much more. Certainly a city I will hopefully visit many more times in my still young life (I'm 20).

During my visit to SF I visited several historic places, including the old San Francisco Mint (post to follow), Golden Gate Bridge, Financial District and a lot more. In one of my postings shortly before my visit, one recommended the Bank of California with a small museum. Because I was in the Financial District anyway, I decided to try to find the place on California street to see if it was worth the visit. After walking into the wrong bank at first, I found the Bank of California's main office, a nice building of the bank founded in 1864.

Bank of California exhibit

I slowly started to walk around a bit, as it was quite hot outside and the air conditioning was certainly welcome. First parts of the exhibition were a short history of California, especially of the Gold Rush era and a small part about the history of the bank itself. I immediately noticed that Pioneer Gold was a large part of what was there, at least 90%. Having just bought my first territorial gold coin (an 1849 Moffat & Co. $5 gold piece) I was certainly interested in this, and I was certainly glad that I found this place.

Bank of California exhibit2

California territorial gold pieces were in every case. Included were multiple examples of Moffat & Co, Kellogg & Co, Baldwin & Co, Norris, Gregg and Norris and Wass Moliter & Co pieces alongside lesser known firms. Many coins were in high condition although the overall mix between circulated and uncirculated was about 50/50.

There are a number of good photos with the post; I've only shown a few here.

Researcher Karl Moulton noted:

The 1853 USAOG $20 "Proof" is one of the recently condemned "Transfer Die Forgeries". The 999 Fine Humbert "Proofing" ingot is also a forgery, along with the Eagle Mining gold bar.

Many of the items in the Bank of California display are pieces that either came from, or were owned, by John Ford.

To read the complete forum post, see: Bank of California - A numismatic visit (

Archives International Auctions, Part XV

Archives International Auctions, Part XV
June 4th, 2013
Worldwide Banknotes, Coins, Scripophily & Autographs
10:00 am Local Time (lots 1-903)
U.S. Coins, Banknotes & Security Printing Ephemera
No earlier than 5:00 pm (lots 904-1092)

Archives Intl catalog 2013-06

Rare U.S. & Worldwide Banknotes, Coins 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.

June 4th, 2013 in Fort Lee, New Jersey

Rare U.S. & Worldwide Banknotes, Coins,
and Security Printing Ephemera Including Additional Selections from the Hamtramck Collection; The Somerset Collection as well as distinguished
Properties of Banknotes, Coins and Scripophily from various consignors.
June 4th, 2013 at our offices in Fort Lee, New Jersey

Included will be over 1,000 lots of Rare Worldwide Banknotes,
Coins, Scripophily and security printing ephemera.
Please view our website for auction updates

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


Greg Cohen of Stack's Bowers published a blog article this week about one of the highlights of the firm's upcoming sale of the Law Collection of British Gold Coins: an 1831 Pattern Crown. -Editor

1831 Pattern Crown in Gold

Stack’s Bowers is extremely proud to have been selected to present the Thos. H. Law Collection of British Gold Coins, to be offered in a scholarly researched and illustrated stand-alone catalog during our official ANA auction in Chicago this August. The Law Collection is one of the most extensive collections of British gold ever assembled in the United States. Over 450 coins, from the 14th century to the late 20th century provide a tangible historic perspective into the 700-year history of British gold coins.

Thos. H. Law displayed his collection with pride throughout the United States, especially at the annual ANA convention, where he won numerous awards, including the Howland Wood Award five times. We will be featuring a coin from this award winning collection each week, and the first is a superlative 1831 Pattern Crown, struck in gold. The reign of William IV was a short one, lasting only from 1830 to 1837, but he had many interesting pattern gold coins struck and offered is an ultimate example, the highlight of this ruler’s coinage in the collection

The obverse of this impressive gold coin was designed by William Wyon, and features a bare head of William IV facing right with the legend GULIELMUS IIII D: G: BRITANNIAR: REX F:D:. The reverse was designed by Johann B. Merlen and shows an intricately engraved British Arms within the collar of the Garter supported by a crowned draped mantle. St. George is suspended from the collar, date ANNO 1831 below. Simple designs are elegantly presented by the very talented engravers. Examples of this and all 1831 gold coins are struck in Proof format.

Attributed as Seaby-3833; Friedberg-381; Wilson and Rasmussen-270 (Rarity-5); KM-PnA98, there were no crowns struck for circulation in 1831 and all are considered patterns. The off metal strike in gold has often been described as a Five Pound piece, although no Five Pound coins were struck during William IV’s reign. Wilson and Rasmussen estimate that there are 6 to 10 examples known. Thos. H. Law purchased this example in 1984 from Spink & Son for £39,000.

Tom Law's exhibits were a fixture at ANA conventions for years - beautiful coins beautifully displayed. It's fitting that the collection will be sold at an ANA convention. -Editor

To read the complete article, see: Crossing The Block: Very Rare 1831 Pattern Crown Struck In Gold, From The Thos. H. Law Collection (


Rich Hartzog writes:

After attending the ANA New Orleans Convention, I stayed in NOLA for a month, and went to the National WWII Museum. While there are a number of military orders and decorations on display, the one item of interest to numismatists is a replica of the Liberty Bell. Also done by Pass & Stow, it is marked "Normandy Liberty Bell, 6 June 2004". It is the same size (large!) as the original bell, and is in a cradle.

NOLA Liberty Bell 1 The Normandy Liberty Bell is an exact replica of the Liberty Bell, and is tuned to the same E-flat note the Liberty Bell once sounded before it cracked in 1846.

A French individual, Patrick Daudon, commissioned this replica of the Liberty Bell to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. He chose the Liberty Bell because the Bell was struck seven times on D-Day by the Philadelphia mayor to spell out the word "Liberty." The Normandy Liberty Bell will tour the United States for a period of two years, starting in July 2005.

The Normandy Liberty Bell was first rung on June 6, 2004 on the shores of Normandy to commemorate the 60th anniversary of D-Day. It was first rung in the United States on July 4, 2005 outside of the Liberty Bell Center on Independence Mall as part of the "Let Freedom Ring" ceremony.

The above text is from a web page Rich forwarded. He also provided the images. Thanks! I wasn't aware of this version of the Bell, nor of the ringing of the original on D-Day. The French may hate U.S. tourists (and not without reason), but they do know how to honor liberty and freedom. Thanks for the statue and bell! -Editor

NOLA Liberty Bell 2

To read the complete article, see: Normandy Liberty Bell (


Numismatic researchers rely on the availability of research material at libraries, archives and other institutions. Barry Landau was caught stealing documents from multiple institutions, including the Maryland Historical Society. Some of the purloined artifacts are being returned. Here's an excerpt from an article in The Baltimore Sun. -Editor

They left the Maryland Historical Society tucked inside the coat pockets and notebooks of Barry Landau and his assistant, but the historical documents returned in manila envelopes, neatly packed inside a gray cardboard file box.

Authorities continue to reunite more than 10,000 items "of cultural heritage" to museums and libraries along the East Coast that were targeted by Landau and his assistant Jason Savedoff. This month the Maryland Historical Society has received about one-third of 60 documents stolen.

It was there that employees first became suspicious of Landau, who was sentenced last June to seven years in federal prison for the theft of thousands of historical documents, and Savedoff, who received a one-year sentence.

"My library looked like a crime scene," recalled Patricia Dockman Anderson, director of publications and library services at the Maryland Historical Society. "I never thought it would be anything of that magnitude."

Almost two years after the two men were apprehended, investigators with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Achieves and Records Administration are still trying to return to their rightful owners the items that had been collected as evidence.

About 20 percent of the documents have been returned, authorities said. Investigators hope to have the remaining items returned in coming months.

"All of the items have been associated with a victim; we just need to physically transport them to their homes," FBI Special Agent Matt Kazlauskas said in an email.

"It was a painstaking and very difficult process," for investigators, he said.

Among the items recently returned to the Maryland Historical Society on Monument Street were a 1920 Democratic National Convention ticket stub and admission passes to Andrew Johnson's impeachment. Each document was encased by clear Mylar, carefully placed inside the envelopes and categorized by four-digit penciled numbers by investigators.

In a folder marked number 2977 from Box 22 and dated 8/12/11 was a small, index card-size ticket that read "Admit the bearer May 26th 1868," to the gallery for Andrew Johnson's impeachment. But on the back was a new mark, Savedoff's small, penciled mark "W2," which stood for "Weasel 2." Landau referred to himself as "Weasel 1," according to court documents.

To read the complete article, see: Stolen documents return to the Maryland Historical Society (,0,207038.story)

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: BARRY LANDAU PLEADS GUILTY TO STEALING DOCUMENTS (


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


There's a nice article in the May 30, 2013 issue of CoinsWeekly about numismatic references in the diary of Samuel Pepys. Here's an excerpt. -Editor

… ‘and at my goldsmith’s I did observe the King’s new medal, where, in little, there is Mrs. Steward’s face as well done as ever I saw anything in my whole life, I think: and a pretty thing it is, that he should choose her face to represent Britannia by.’ – From the diary of Samuel Pepys, entry from February 25, 1667.

Early in the year 1667, the chief die cutter of the London Mint, John Roettiers, designed a medal for the English king. This medal shows the portrait of Charles II with long hair and laurel wreath on its obverse. The inscription translates: Charles II, King by grace of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland. On the reverse, Britannia proudly looks at the English fleet. The inscription reads: by favor of God. One of the rare specimens of this medal in gold will be auctioned off in the upcoming auction of Künker’s in Osnabrück, in the week from June 17 to 21, 2013, together with many more medals dealing with the subject ‘Pax in Nummis’.

Treaty of Breda medal obverse Treaty of Breda medal reverse
Medal by J. Roettiers on the Treaty of Breda.

This medal is a beautiful testimony to the major power policy of Charles II who planned to cut out the Netherlands from their role as leading trading nation. That had been the intent of Oliver Cromwell already, who had made a war against the Netherlands from 1652-1654. Apart from a highly lucrative treaty, England had gained 120 million pounds booty alone. That was a proud sum, considering the fact that all government expenses in 1652/3 amounted to 53 million pounds only. Now it was Charles II who was in need of money. The English navy commander summarized as follows: ‘Who really cares about this reason or any other? What we need is a further part of the trade the Dutchmen are having right now.'

The medal is being offered in an upcoming Kuenker auction. -Editor

To read the complete article, see: From the diary of Samuel Pepys (


Speaking of Breda medals and Kuenker, past NBS President John W. Adams has a nice consignment in one of their upcoming sales. I asked him for more information, and his comments are below. Thanks, and good luck! -Editor

Kunker Adams sale cover There are eight Breda medals in a total consignment of 79 so-called Pax in Nummis medals. The common theme is the commemoration of peace treaties, beginning in 1596 and extending to 1748, that have to do with the Western Hemishere. Kuenker devotes 46 pages to the 79 medals, giving the usual metrological data plus historical background plus exhaustive references plus translation of the mottoes plus images of each piece. The catalogue will become a reference work in itself, so all kudos to the House of Kuenker. There are a limited number of offprints of just my consignment, which is being sold at 5am EST on June 17th.

Why Germany? For some reason, peace treaty medals were omitted by Betts and, largely as a result, have not been widely collected on this side of the Atlantic. Ford had a handful and LaRiviere none. In contrast, peace treaty medals are accorded all due respect in Europe, with many fine collections, both individual and institutional.

To visit the Kuenker web site, see:


Another upcoming auction offering is a rare bullet coin of Thailand. -Editor

1880 Thailand bullet coin

An extremely rare so-called bullet coin the size and shape of a marble discovered in a collection of Far Eastern coins formed in the 1960s is expected to sell for up to £6,000 in a London sale next Wednesday (June 5).

Made in 1880, the silver coin commemorates the death of the mother of Rama V (1853-1910), known as the Royal Buddha, who was considered one of the greatest kings of Siam. It will be sold by specialist auctioneers Morton & Eden in association with Sotheby's.

Bullet coins (pot duang) remained in use in ancient Siam (Thailand) until 1860 when traditional flat coinage was introduced. They were made from bars of silver and gold, thicker in the middle, and bent round to form a complete circle. The shape is thought to imitate the ancient currency of cowrie shells, widely used as money. Their value depended on size, ranging from 1/128 of a baht to 80 baht in silver and from 1/32 to 4 baht in gold.

The very rare example in Morton & Eden's sale would have had an unusually high value of 20 baht but would never have been in circulation and was probably made for ceremonial purposes.

Auction specialist Jeremy Cheek said he was amazed when he found the coin in the collection. "Bullet coins of this size and type are extremely rare and unusual," he said. "The uninitiated would pass them by but they are coveted by collectors.

"They are always struck with countermarks to prove their authenticity, one of which is always an ornate chakra wheel. This example also has an ornate royal crown mark and an exceptionally rare mark showing a Thai flower with the date 1242."

To read the complete article, see: Rare "bullet coin" in London auction: Thai treasure expected to sell for up to £6,000 in Morton & Eden sale (


CoinUpdate has an update to an interview by Michael Alexander with Mary Gregoiry, Designer of 2013 James Joyce 10 Euro Coin. Here's an excerpt. -Editor

mary-gregiory I’m pleased to share my interview with Mary Gregoiry, the talented artist who designed the Central Bank’s latest collector coin which honors writer and native son James Joyce. Our discussion is the only interview Mary sat for during (and after) the Joyce coin launch at Newman House, St. Stephen’s Green.

Shortly after the launch, it was inadvertently discovered that there was a mis-quote from a passage of “Ulysses” which appears on the coin as part of the design. The story made headlines in both numismatic and mainstream news but this did absolutely nothing to deter coin collectors from their interest in this well-designed and artistic coin as all 10,000 pieces in the limited mintage were sold out in just 3 days, a record-sale for the Central Bank.

Mary studied fine art at the Crawford College of Art and Design from 1995-1999 opting for a post grad year in 2000 in which she specialized in Foundry. She has a BA in fine art/sculpture from CCAD. Mary has worked mainly in the medium of bronze, metals or ceramic sculpture though in recent years - she has been drawing and doing linocut prints as well as designing from home.

Those collectors familiar with recent Irish collector coins will know of her earlier work for the Central Bank. She entered the design competition in 2007 with a winning concept for the €10 silver crown on the subject of Ireland's Celtic Culture and influence. I’m pleased to add that she kindly followed up on our discussion after the discovery of the mis-quote on this excellent coin and added some extra poignant comments for which I’m grateful for, I hope you enjoy our conversation!

MA: When you describe his words as “tumbling over” is that why you portrayed the passage or words from “Ulysses” as literally tumbling over out from the top of his head?

MG: Exactly! (smiles)

MA: When you were designing the coin, what was it for you that was the most obvious physical trait or something which you wanted to include in his depiction or “get across” on the coin?

MG: I wanted to “get across” his eyes, specifically the glasses because he had those fantastic spectacles which sometimes magnified his eyes and other times, they actually hid his eyes – which gave him a sort of internal looking vision. I felt it would be his eyes first, then he had that rather long wonderful face with his distinctive facial hair, the hairs almost having a life all their own and I wanted to make sure that they stood out, those were the main features I wanted to highlight, those were the main features which attracted me to his image in the first place.

MA: I know readers will want to know a little something about the error which is now part of the coin’s lore, so to speak, but even though it has been pointed out that the coin carries a mis-quote regarding the passage from Ulysses, do you think it takes anything away from your conception of the design?

MG: No, I do not think that the error takes anything away from the concept of this design. I obviously wished it had not happened as I pride myself on my attention to detail as well as to grammar and spelling etc… when I write. But, everybody is fallible - that is a certainty. And nobody who is human has never made a mistake.

MA: No, I don’t think the error takes anything away from your excellent design either, the collector will make up their own mind! I have to say, my first impression of the coin is very positive indeed, I think it’s certainly a candidate for a Coin of the Year award, Mary Gregoriy, designer of the latest Irish collector coin, thank you very much for your time today.

MG: Thank you for your kind words about the coin, you’re very welcome.

To read the complete article, see: Interview with Mary Gregoiry, Designer of 2013 James Joyce 10 Euro Coin (


Get Your Young Numismatist Started With a Good Book. The Almanac of United States Coins is an entertaining, superbly illustrated guide to coin collecting from Whitman Publishing. 192 pages, softcover, perfectbound, full color. Order your copy for $9.95 at or call 800-546-2995.


Here's an article about massive currency counterfeiting operations in Peru. -Editor

peru_counterfeits This South American country is now thought to be the world’s top producer of counterfeit greenbacks. Some 17 percent of the false bills circulating in the United States come from Peru, one US law enforcement official told GlobalPost.

Peruvian crooks aren't just churning out vast numbers of phony $20, $50 and $100 bills: They are also making much higher quality fakes than the false dollars produced within the US.

One of the reasons is technology. The counterfeiting gangs here use offset printers rather than photocopiers. But Peru is also home to some of the world’s most skilled counterfeiters, who employ painstaking, traditional techniques to give their bills apparent authenticity.

“They are specialists in giving it the tonality, texture, the watermark. Each of these bills goes through a rigorous process,” says Col. Segundo Portocarrero, head of the Peruvian police’s anti-fraud unit.

As he talks, Portocarrero illustrates how the gangs use a needle to pierce the bills and pull through a fake metal security thread, an extremely delicate, time-consuming task that only the steadiest, most skilled hands can pull off.

Laid out on his desk in front of him are sheets of uncut $100, 50 euro and 100 Peruvian sol bills, as well as the transparent film used in the printing process, with columns of Benjamin Franklin’s unmistakable gaze outlined on the plastic.

“An organization that has someone who knows how to print will not limit themselves to just US dollars. They will also fake other currencies,” says Special Agent Ed Lowery, who has been heading up the US Secret Service’s collaboration with Peruvian law enforcement on the issue.

Since the start of 2010, police here have arrested 296 people in connection with producing fake money and broken up seven different counterfeiting gangs.

To read the complete article, see: Peru: Counterfeit currency king (


Several new coin designs caught my eye this week, and not always in a good way. What do readers think? -Editor

2013 Maple Leaf Impression Coin
A World Mint News blog article by Michael Zielinski covered several new issues from the Royal Canadian Mint, including a couple new ones with ships. I have a love/hate relationship with this one, but do think it's a clever concept.

Maple Leaf Impression coin The 2013 Maple Leaf Impression Fine Silver Coin features an intriguing impression of a central maple leaf created from the negative space within a field containing more than 100 maple leaves. Each coin has a face value of $3 with weight of 7.96 grams and diameter of 27 mm. The mintage is 10,000 pieces, with an ordering limit of one per household.

To read the complete article, see: Royal Canadian Mint New Product Releases June 2013 (

Mother Ice Fishing
Dick Hanscom forwarded an article about another Canadian coin called "Mother Ice Fishing". It looks like an amoeba to me...

mi-nunavik-coin The Royal Canadian Mint has unveiled a new $5 collector’s coin featuring the work of Nunavik artist Ulaayu Pilurtuut.

The coin, called 'Mother Ice Fishing,' was unveiled earlier this week at a Montreal art gallery.

The coin features a relatively new technology of using selective oxidation on niobium metal.

The coin gets its distinctive colour from a relatively new technology of using selective oxidation on niobium metal. (Facebook) "This particular coin has a bright purple tint to it, around the image of an Inuit mother ice fishing with an infant on her back, and it is the work of an Inuit artist from Northern Quebec," said Alex Reeves, the communications manager with the Mint.

To read the complete article, see: Nunavik art appears on $5 coin (

Italy's Luigi Pirandello Coin
Pabitra Saha forwarded these images of a new Italian coin "Europa Star Programme 2013 - Luigi Pirandello". Pirandello was a writer and playwright. I'm not sure what to make of the obverse. Is that the Michelin Tire man? But I like the reverse - that's an unusual pose for a coin portrait, and I think it works well.

Luigi Pirandello obverse Luigi Pirandello reverse

Italy's Flora and Fauna Coins
Pabitra Saha also forwarded images of Italy's new 20 and 50 Euro flora and fauna coins. These are more traditional designs. I like them.

Italy 20 Euro Flora obverse Italy 20 Euro Flora reverse

Italy 50 Euro Fauna obverse Italy 50 Euro Fauna reverse

Russia's Chernomyrdin Coin
Russia Chernomyrdin coin And here's another one courtesy of Pabitra Saha. It's a Russian coin marking the 75th birthday anniversary of the late Viktor Stepanovich Chernomyrdin (1938 – 2010) who was the founder and the first chairman of the Gazprom energy company (and Prime Minister of Russia after the dissolution of the USSR. This one is another novel pose; Chernomyrdin faces left with his hands clasped just under his chin. The coin includes a facsimile of his signature, which has been a popular feature in coinage recently.

Lyn Knight 2013-06-13 ad1


Arthur Shippee forwarded this item, which in turn came from The Explorator newsletter. Thanks. -Editor

coin siezed in Cairo

Two attempts to smuggle historic coins were foiled at Cairo Airport on Wednesday. The Antiquities Unit Bureau and the Antiquities and Tourism Police stopped a passenger carrying a Graeco-Roman gilded coin.

Police said the passenger was travelling to an Arab country but refused to specify which one.

Ahmed El-Rawi, head of the central administration of antiquities unit, said the coin is a unique Graeco-Roman artifact. It has a bearded royal face on one side and a picture of two birds standing on an olive branch on the other. The coin also bears Greek and Ptolemaic writing.

The antiquities unit also confiscated three Ottoman coins from a passenger entering the country from United States who was allegedly planning to sell them.

Both passengers are in custody as investigations continue and the coins have been handed over to the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA).

To read the complete article, see: Coin smugglers foiled at Cairo Airport (


Fred Michaelson writes:

The book on Siamese Coins looks really interesting. The coins are beautiful. Attached is a picture of my Siamese Coins.

Conjoined Coins

Fred adds:

I scanned a coins I got from a hobo nickel carver who was just foolin' around.

Coincidentally, I saw another set of puzzle-piece coins this week. London's Thornhill Jewellery carves some interesting items out of old British coinage. Here are a few examples. -Editor

puzzle cut out coin

Him-and-her cut out coin smoking-liz cut out coin

To view the Thornhill site, see:


This week's Featured Web Page is from the Royal Mint Museum and describes the Joseph Banks medal.

The fine portrait medal illustrated here by William Wyon is of Sir Joseph Banks, the famous naturalist and President of the Royal Society. Having a medal of Banks in the Royal Mint Museum has a special relevance because it was through his generosity that the Museum became the beneficiary in 1818 of a small collection of coins and medals that he had put together. But much more significantly, the association with Banks led to the gift of 2000 coins from the collection of his late sister Sarah Sophia Banks.

Sarah Sophia’s coins were shared between the British Museum and the Royal Mint Museum, in accordance with the wishes of the family. It therefore becomes difficult to determine purely from the medal’s reverse inscription, PRESENTED COLLECTION OF COINS TO NATION 1818, which particular act of generosity was being commemorated. Banks was deeply involved in the reform of the coinage and in the relocation of the Royal Mint to new premises on Tower Hill, making him a key figure for the organisation at that time and one justifiably represented in the Royal Mint Museum.

Joseph Banks medal

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