The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization devoted to the study and enjoyment of numismatic literature. For more information please see our web site at


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There is a membership application available on the web site Membership Application

To join, print the application and return it with your check to the address printed on the application. Membership is only $20 to addresses in the U.S., $25 for First Class mail, and $30 elsewhere. For those without web access, write to:

Terry White, Treasurer
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
P. O. Box 39 Hilliard, OH 43026-1278s


For Asylum mailing address changes and other membership questions, contact Terry at this email address:


To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, just Reply to this message, or write to the Editor at this address:

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Happy Mother's Day, Moms. We have no new subscribers this week. We hold at 1,969 subscribers. This week we open with information about exhibiting at this year's ANA World's Fair of Money, the anniversary of The Banknote Book, and two book reviews.

Other topics this week include the NLG Writer's Competition, video content for the Newman Numismatic Portal, Fitter Families medals, a U.S. Mint gold lifesaving medal, the J. Doyle deWitt and Josiah K. Lilly collections, and the Baltimore "BNote" alternative currency.

To learn more about English silver coinage, Grover Criswell's two-dollar bills, dealer Harry Wyman Tapley, U.S. proof set shipping boxes, New Orleans municipality money, coins for the dead and barrels of money, read on. Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Editor, The E-Sylum


This year's American Numismatic Association World's Fair of Money will be held August 9-13, 2016 in Anaheim, CA. But the deadline is already fast approaching for submitting exhibit applications. Numismatic bibliophiles (and everyone among our E-Sylum readership) should consider attending and placing an exhibit. Share your collection and knowledge with fellow hobbyists. Below is a reminder notice sent by email this week. Don't forget! -Editor

ANA call for exhibits 2016

For more information, contact:


Owen W. Linzmayer of San Francisco, CA publishes The Banknote Book as an online subscription service. His book has reached its fifth anniversary - congratulations. Here's an excerpt from an email Owen published on May 6, 2015. -Editor

The Banknote Book covers

Five years ago I began publishing The Banknote Book. What started out with an initial launch of 10 chapters has grown to 230 chapters, representing a total of 3,173 pages covering 31,763 types and varieties, with new chapters and new material being added constantly.

Next up for publication is Korea, which will join the previously published North Korea and South Korea chapters to complete coverage of the peninsula's note issuing history.

Revisions to the following have been published in the past week:

  • all (updated Pick cross-references per SCWPM 22nd edition)
  • Ethiopia (added listings for B103cs, B206ct)
  • European Monetary Union (added Looking Forward item)
  • India (added listing for B289h)
  • Liechtenstein (updated prices throughout)
  • Madagascar (added listing for B320c)
  • New Hebrides (updated prices throughout)
  • Oman (added listing for B202as)
  • Tonga (added listing for BNP202)
  • Zimbabwe (added Looking Forward item)
  • spreadsheet (added New 2016.04.30 sheet)

If you've previously purchased any of the above chapters, you are entitled to free revisions of your content for a period of one year following your purchase. As always, subscribers are entitled to all revisions as long as your subscription is valid.

For more information on The Banknote Book, or to subscribe, see:

Rare Legacy ad 2016-05-01 betts Medals


Howard Daniel writes:

Encyclopedia Coin and Medal Technology I contacted Dick Johnson on the Monday after the item about his Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology appeared in The E-Sylum. Then I went down to my Bay House for awhile and came back on Friday afternoon. The draft was sitting in my post office box.

After just a brief scan of the pages, I decided that I can delete 90% of the entries in my personal document about numismatic and related words and terms, except for some foreign words and terms that are relevant to my Southeast Asian numismatic pursuits.

Dick has done a masterful job already, and the tome is not even complete! I am very much looking forward to the final version!!!!!

Thanks, Howard. This is going to be a very important book, with information useful across multiple numismatic areas. -Editor

Dick Johnson adds:

Thanks for the kind words, Howard. I have received similar comments from the first who have received their copies.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:


Björn Schöpe published a nice review of the new edition of Spink's English Silver Coinage since 1649. here's an excerpt. Be sure to read the complete review online. -Editor

English Silver Coinage 6th edition Most catalogs cannot be updated as quickly as is desirable. All the greater the joy when an important catalog actually has been thoroughly revised – as is the case with Spink’s “English silver coinage”.

In 1949, H.A. Seaby presented the first catalog on the English silver coinages between 1649 and 1949. Afterwards, P.A. Rayner updated the monograph once every decade or so (1957, 1968, 1974, and 1992). The long break preceding the last edition from 1992 is indicative of the efforts it took to complete the work. The numismatic community had to wait for a new edition for more than 20 years. Maurice Bull has now presented an entirely new book.

Bull did not take the easy way out but – as he states in the preface – checked with many experts. On the one hand, he could take all the data from the 5th edition. On the other hand, though, he had to arrange that data in an entirely new way. The catalog used to be divided according to denominations; besides, the catalog numbers had become confusing due to supplemented letters added in the course of some substantial reworking (for example, 1847A-E).

Bull freed the catalog from the dust systematically, arrived at a new arrangement, updated and augmented it with a wealth of information. For starters, the catalog is now arranged according to rulers and subdivided according to denominations which are then arranged according to types and, lastly, to dates. To facilitate utilization, the old catalog number is still stated. Apparently from his own painful experiences and to make things easier for a future author, Bull has left a few numbers blank between the rulers, for future additions.

Although the book is nearly three times as weighty as the former edition, it lists fewer types... How meticulously Bull has worked is reflected in the comprehensive appendix. Not only does it list patterns for the first time, but it provides detailed references as to where every mentioned catalog number can be found. Finally, therefore, those objects whose existence used to be a matter of dispute are scientifically testified. Another new feature was prompted by the collector’s request to also state mintages. As far as possible, Bull gives the individual mintage of the Royal Mint for every year. Needless to add, that the book is concluded by a bibliography.

The catalog is a glowing example for what an author achieves if he strives for bringing a standard reference up-do-date and making it suitable for the needs of different target audiences.

To read the complete article, see:
Spink revises catalog of English silver coinage (

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Coin Update is launching a new series dedicated to the history of Whitman Publishing’s Guide Book of United States Coins. Here's an excerpt from the first article by David T. Alexander. -Editor

1947 Red Book cover The Miami Coin Club had been founded in 1948, and the dapper founder, Otto T. Sghia, formerly of The Bronx, New York, was still active. He had organized the Miami group and endowed it with the constitution of the New York Numismatic Club, emphasizing fellowship, speakers, and member exhibits while forbidding excessive commercialism.

In the early 1950s the club was in its heyday. Local members rubbed elbows with visitors and what were called “winter residents,” including the venerable Abraham Heppner, who carried what he confidently asserted was a genuine 1804 silver dollar. One especially elderly club officer member was James Pollard of Indianapolis, who was said to have collected U.S. half cents from circulation! There were far more down-to-earth members, older men wearing overalls and drawling, “Well, ah save quarters not half dollars. . . .”

Then there was Lee A. Hervey Jr., who gave us his 1955 “Red Book” at the May 1957 meeting. We had already encountered the “Red Book” at the downtown library, the great white marble structure built in 1952 to block off Miami’s view of Biscayne Bay at the foot of Flagler Street. This library was unusual in that it had several running feet of shelves in the circulation section with all sorts of coin books ready and waiting. Among these titles were the widely respected Standard Catalogue of United States Coins and several “Red Books” of varying ages. I came to know both, and was especially impressed by the “Red Book’s” in-detail descriptions of U.S. commemorative coins. The Standard Catalogue offered each a single line, often followed by a somewhat disapproving value in italics for issues Raymond regarded as “speculative.”

In the 11 years I devoted to the Historical Museum of Southern Florida (1963 to 1974), I always kept current “Red Books” next to the two telephones, upstairs and down. Inevitably, often on weekends and (we suspected) from parties, would come the calls: “Hey, I gotta old penny. . . .” The “Red Book” made many friends for the museum because it ensured that we always had an answer!

In the spring of 1974 I found myself in a new career and town, as a staff writer for Coin World in Sidney, Ohio, where I came to know much more about the “Red Book.” The observant reader will have noticed that as an ex–Coin World writer, force of habit still demands quotation marks around the Guide Book’s nickname!

Whitman was one of the few rival publishers with whom Amos Press Inc. had fraternal relations. I learned that the great success of the “Red Book” was the result not just of content but of distribution. The then-owners of Whitman Publishing in Racine, Wisconsin, had a nationwide distribution network already in existence to serve such other products as Little Golden Books and the Whitman “penny boards” of an earlier generation. This network included five-and-10-cent stores, such as Woolworth’s, that were found everywhere. Wayte Raymond, on the other hand, limited distribution of his otherwise excellent titles to a very small network of what he called “established coin dealers.” Availability spelled success. Then there was the unchanging appearance. Stability was absolute for decades in number of pages, continued use of the same black-and-white halftone illustrations, and standardized descriptions.

Coin World brought home to me that many thrifty main-line collectors often failed to buy a new “Red Book” each year. This was made clear in the unfolding of a subscription-building promotion of 1970 that promised new Coin World subscribers a brand-new “Red Book” autographed by the newspaper’s whole editorial staff. The inrush was amazing: scores of subscriptions were taken out by readers who had been relying on “Red Books” eight to 10 years out of date but still in loyal and tattered use.

As a younger collector, I tried to keep up with succeeding editions, and today my own collection is extensive, though not complete. Yes, I have the 1947 edition, in a heavily used condition which a coin grader might optimistically call About Very Fine. My fourth edition of 1950 is virtually new, as are most of my “Red Books” since that time. Among my special editions is a 1974 with the cover gold-stamped, “Miami Beach International Coin Convention, January 3, 4, 5, 6, 1974, Deauville Hotel,” and a deep-maroon-cover volume distributed at the 1997 Denver ANA convention. Most imposing is the spectacular oversize, genuine leather, gold-leaved 2008 Limited Edition distributed at the Numismatic Literary Guild bash during the 2007 ANA convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The “Red Book” (sorry for the quote marks) and I go back a long way, and each copy on my shelf recalls wonderful times, places, and above all, people. Few collectibles bring with them not only an implicit history of U.S. coin collecting, but also such a wealth of warm recollection!

David T. Alexander’s recollection first appeared in A Guide Book of the Official Red Book of United States Coins by Frank J. Colletti.

To read the complete article, see:
Red Book Recollections: David T. Alexander (


Ed Reiter, Executive Director of the Numismatic Literary Guild forwarded this press release about the organization's 2015 Writers’ Competition. Get your entries in, authors (and editors)! The NLG is not affiliated with the Numismatic Bibliomania Society, but many active researchers and writers are members of both (like myself). -Editor

NLG logo Entries are now being accepted for the the Numismatic Literary Guild’s 2016 Writers’ Competition. As usual, the contest covers a broad spectrum of categories, including books on numismatic subjects; newspaper and magazine articles and columns; online websites, articles, columns and blogs; numismatic newsletters; auction catalogs; and TV, radio and audio-visual presentations.

To be eligible for consideration, entries must have been published, posted, broadcast or presented between May 1, 2015 and April 30, 2016. This year, for the first time, entrants must be NLG members.

Entries must be received by June 20, 2016.

Winners will be announced at the 2016 NLG Bash, which will be held on the night of Thursday, Aug. 11, in the Hilton Anaheim Hotel during the 2016 World’s Fair of Money. Award plaques bearing the official NLG logo will be presented to winners during the Bash.

Complete rules are posted on the NLG’s website,

The Numismatic Literary Guild, founded in 1968, is an organization made up of several hundred writers, authors, editors, publishers, photographers, catalogers, curators and other individuals from around the world who are engaged in publicizing and promoting numismatics through writing and related skills. -Editor
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The latest addition to the Newman Numismatic Portal is in a new medium - video. Project Coordinator Len Augsburger provided the following report. -Editor

Newman Numismatic Portal eye logo Following digitization of The Clarion, the journal of the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists (PAN), PAN Treasurer Pat McBride mentioned that PAN had a group of old educational videos in storage. Len Augsburger, Newman Portal coordinator, offered to investigate digitization of this material, and the first video from this effort is now available in the Newman collection on Internet Archive.

John Adams speaking at PAN Philadelphia show From the 1989 PAN Convention, author and collector John Adams speaks on historical medals. In consulting The Clarion on the Newman Portal, we learn the event occurred on November 11, 1989 at the Philadelphia Holiday Inn, located at 4th and Arch Streets. Adams, who has seemingly not aged in the nearly three decades since, is introduced by the late numismatic literature dealer John Burns. Organizations with similar video archives are encouraged to contact Augsburger at

To see John Adams speaking at the 1989 PAN Convention:

To view The Clarion on the Newman Portal, see:

The Newman Portal is about more than just documents - it's about numismatic information in any form, and that includes books, web sites and audio/video content. The Newman Portal and its partner Internet Archive are dedicated to making this material available to all, not just for today, but long into the future. That mission involves managing and converting multiple physical and electronic formats.

Help preserve numismatic history. Locate and make available to the portal any old audio or video content you may have in the archives of your numismatic organizations or your own files. Let them be transferred to new media so the content won't be lost when the physical media deteriorates or technology marches so far past that machines can't be found to read them. Even Internet Archive was stumped with this old Super 8 format and the Newman Portal had to locate another provider.

I remember getting sick that week and being unable to go to Philadelphia for the PAN Show. I missed John's talk, but now I can hop into the Portal's time machine and go back to that day in 1989. And you can, too. Medal collectors in particular should enjoy this blast from the past.

Format problems never completely go away, it seems. The digitized video seems to work well on Microsoft browsers (Like Internet Explorer and Edge), but not so well (lately, at least) on Chrome. Please report any issues you find. Thanks. -Editor


Newman Numismatic Portal large logo

Harry Waterson writes:

I listened to your Newman Portal presentation at the CSNS Convention and think it is a great addition to the hobby. The next morning I attended the club breakfast and was amazed to learn how few clubs have a successful Young Numismatist program. The feeling at the table was that youngsters are so tied up with their computers that they have no interest in collecting things, just pictures of things.

The Ozarks' Coin Club which I represented at the breakfast has a YN membership of 35, an average attendance at monthly meetings of 15 and a very active program. I know from reading Pennsylvania Associations of Numismatists reports that you are active in their PANKidZone promotion. Thinking back to your Newman Portal presentation, I remembered the crowdsource activity the Portal is doing. So I am wondering if there is a numismatic crowdsource activity that would be appropriate to young people who are computer literate and one they would find interesting whether or not they have any interest in numismatics. The hope, of course, is that the participation in the crowdsourcing might lead at least some young computer whiz kids to an interest in coins and medals. I would love to hear what you think.

Good question. Thanks, Harry! YNs could well be a great source of crowdsourcing volunteers to help with such tasks as transcription, adding photo captions, or adding tags to documents and auction lots. The Newman Portal is doing some of this today, but to scale up to larger numbers of participants we'll need to develop some software for the site. But stay tuned! More crowdsourcing is definitely in plans for the future. -Editor

To visit the Newman Numismatic Portal, see:

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Web site visitor Craig Parks writes:

I belong to a group of Renaissance Faire reenactors and our merry band of misfits portray King Philip II of Spain's court. I’m trying to figure out what a cheque from Philip’s treasury would look like. We want to have some fun and start buying countries and merchants and shoppes at the faires we attend. But without fake financial instruments how can we fake pay for our purchases? Is there anything you can suggest? Many thanks!

Craig Parks aka Antonio Perez Spain’s Secretary of State and slimy backstabbing toad.

Reenactors are a very receptive audience for numismatic information, and I'm glad Craig contacted us. I know the Bank of England has a great exhibit and collection that includes very early financial instruments, but he is asking about Spain. Can anyone help this slimy backstabbing toad? Where are we learn about (and find images of) cheques and other financial documents of the era? Thanks. -Editor


Brothers From Different Mothers: Cover Similarities

Dave Lange writes:

The dust jacket illustrated for your copy of Fractional Money looked strangely familiar to me, and I knew exactly where I'd seen something very similar. Attached is an image of a coin album from my new book on the Library of Coins. This title was produced only for the Second Edition of these albums. It's basically a stock book that has openings for six sizes of coins without printing, and it comes in both the color illustrated and in vivid scarlet. Both varieties are rare and evidently enjoyed just a single printing before being dropped from the line.

By the way, my book will be shipping to those who pre-ordered shortly.

Library of Coins All-Purpose Coin Album Carothers, Fractional Money

On another topic, Dave adds:

On the topic of early email experiences, I was introduced to this new thing around 1990, while I was still employed with Pacific Gas & Electric Company in San Francisco. All of us were told in a memo that we now had something called electronic mail, and this would replace printed memos. After checking my "in box" for a week or two I came to realize that absolutely none of the messages had anything to do with my job, and none were addressed to me specifically. Therefore, I stopped checking them at all.

Several months later I received a printed memo from Personnel that my box was full and requesting that I act immediately to correct the situation. I decided to skim through some of the more recent messages and discovered that nothing had changed, so I simply got into the habit of deleting all messages once a month without ever reading them. Management was satisfied, and I never heard another complaint in my four remaining years there.

Thanks. See the link below for more information on Dave's new book on coin collecting albums. But note that the pre-ordering discount period is past. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: MAY 1, 2016 : On Storing Numismatic Book Jackets (
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: MAY 1, 2016 : Prehistoric Email (

Engraving Depicts Lincoln's Funeral Train Locomotive

Philip Mernick passed along this interesting hand-engraved item on eBay depicting a locomotive that pulled the funeral train of President Abraham Lincoln. He'd never seen this before, and neither had I. Can anyone help? -Editor

Engraving Leviathan LOcomotive Pulled Lincoln Funeral Train front Engraving Leviathan LOcomotive Pulled Lincoln Funeral Train back

To read the complete eBay lot description, see:
Birthday Special Hand Carved "LEVIATHAN" LOCO pulled Abe Lincoln's Funeral Car. (

Grover Criswell's Two-Dollar Bills
Bob Leuver writes:

Two dollar bills The indomitable Grover Criswell, a man of many numismatic talents and as keen sense of humor, was on a tedious flight from the East coast to the West coast. In need of a libation to shorten the trip, he asked the flight attendant for a stout spirit drink. To pay, he pulled out a half-sheet of $2 bills, and cut one out to pay for the drink.

The flight attendant notified the captain, who called ahead to Los Angeles, the flight's destination. Grover was met by the police and Secret Service when he exited the plane. It took Grover a bit of time, probably in an inconspicuous and dungeon-type room at the airport, to explain he wasn't a counterfeiter, but, rather, THE preeminent, worldwide numismatic scholar and coin dealer--as only Grover could. May Grover rest in peace and the stories of his life brighten any numismatic conversation.

I never met Criswell, but stories of his antics are legend in the U.S. numismatic community. Others may come forward with more. We discussed a more recent incident along these lines in the September 2015 E-Sylum article about Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak's perforated tablets of two-dollar bills. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:

Star Wars and the 2008 Ireland Skellig Michael 10 Euro

Ireland 2008 Skellig Michael 10 euro coin

Gawain O'Connor writes:

Your readers surely know of Star Wars Day (May the Fourth…) The Ireland 2008 Skellig Michael 10 euro coin ties in nicely because it is the filming location for the final scene of Episode VII The Force Awakens.

Interesting connection. Nice painting, too. Thanks. -Editor

Coin Hoards Show How Common Many Roman Coins Are
Larry Gaye writes:

Tomares coin find01 Regarding the Spanish hoard recently uncovered maybe someone should send images to the discussions currently being hashed out in the US State Department regarding the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Italy which will ban import of "scarce" Roman coins into the US. It is interesting to note that they could still be bought and sold in the EU. Crazy stuff!

It might sway some opinions. I know many of us have participated in the work done by Wayne Sayles and the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild to stop doing the bidding of the archaeology community in the US. These coins are not rare as they circulated in the entire known world. To quote Carl Sagan, there are "billions and billions."

Good idea! Mike Markowitz addresses this topic as well. See elsewhere in this issue the excerpt from his CoinWeek article on "Coins for the Dead". -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

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Regarding the American Eugenics Society "Fitter Families" medals last week, Harry Waterson kindly shared with me an 8-page entry from his catalog of medals of Julio Kilenyi. Thanks! Here's an excerpt. What a fascinating item. -Editor

American Eugenics Society Goodly Heritage medal

Sculptor: Julio Kilenyi

Obverse: A sturdy child takes a flaming torch from kneeling parents. Legend around upper half: YEA, I HAVE A GOODLY HERITAGE.1 There is a tiny KILENYI in exergue left side.

Reverse: Open topped wreath formed by two laurel branches joined at the bottom with a bow. 5-line inscription on center in the upper half of the enclosed field: PRESENTED / BY / AMERICAN / EUGENICS / SOCIETY.

Signed: Kilenyi


Issuer: The American Eugenics Society, Inc., New Haven, CT

Organization: The American Eugenics Society (AES) was a society established in 1922 to promote eugenics. It was the result of the Second International Conference on Eugenics (New York, 1921). The organization started by promoting racial betterment, eugenic health, and genetic education through public lectures, exhibits at county fairs etc. Under the direction of Frederick Osborn the society started to place greater focus on issues of population control, genetics, and, later, medical genetics.

Fitter Families content medal JKL 26-06.1 American Eugenics Society Medal
All elements the same as 26-06 except:

Size: 1½-inch (38.1mm)

Reverse: The lower interior field has a 2-line addition on center: FITTER FAMILIES / CONTEST. Beneath is a cartouche banner suitable for engraving the name of the recipient. Just under the bow at the bottom of the medal is a microscopic W & H CO.

Edge: Plain with a loop at the top.

Organization: The Fitter Families contest started in September 1920 at the Kansas State Free Fair in Topeka as a pilot program of the Baby Health Examination Movement. It ran there for five years until 1924. It was then taken over by the American Eugenics Society and extended to other states. In 1928 the administration moved to the Race Betterment Foundation. Considering the strong contribution of agricultural breeding to the eugenics movement, it is not difficult to see why eugenicists used state fairs as a venue for popular education. A majority of Americans were still living in rural areas during the first several decades of the 20th century, and fairs were major cultural events. Farmers brought their products of selective breeding — fat pigs, speedy horses, and large pumpkins — to the fair to be judged. Why not judge "human stock" to select the most eugenically fit family?

This was exactly the concept behind Fitter Families for Future Firesides — known simply as Fitter Families Contests. The contests were founded by Mary T. Watts and Florence Brown Sherbon — two pioneers of the Baby Health Examination movement, which sprang from a "Better Babies" contest at the 1911 Iowa State Fair and spread to 40 states by 1916. With support from the American Eugenics Society's Committee on Popular Education, the contests were held at numerous fairs throughout the United States during the latter half of the 1920s.

At most contests, competitors submitted an "Abridged Record of Family Traits," and a team of medical doctors performed psychological and physical exams on family members. Each family member was given an overall letter grade of eugenic health, and the family with the highest grade average was awarded a silver trophy.

All contestants with a B+ or better received bronze medals bearing the inscription, "Yea, I have a goodly heritage." As expected, the Fitter Families Contest mirrored the eugenics movement itself; winners were invariably White with western and northern European heritage. Even after the administration of the Fitter Families Contests moved to the Race Betterment Foundation in 1928, the American Eugenic Society continued to maintain control of the contests until 1931...

Eugenice journal cover with medal Ephemera: The Kilenyi image was widely used by the American Eugenics Society. The obverse was used as the cover art for their Journal from October, 1928 until February, 1931. As the Journal progressed from issue to issue the cover was washed in one color after another. Over the course of a year the medal was seen in a rainbow of hues.

During that same time period the medal was also used on the mast-head of the Journal as a counterbalance to a photograph of Francis Galton, a pioneer of Eugenics and the coiner of the term.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:


Liefsaving medal 02 Liefsaving medal 01

Web site visitor David Cooper writes:

Liefsaving medal letter2 I have a gold Lifesaving Award of the First Class issued on 18 June 1880. I also have the original hand written Letter of Award penned by the US Treasury Secretary to the recipient Surfman Garrett H. White as well as the original presentation/display case. I was hoping you could direct me to a collector or two that would have some of the finer details to be known about just such a collectible item.

I found it interesting that the Treasury Secretary John Sherman was in fact, the brother of General William Tecumseh Sherman. Cool, huh? The John Sherman letter has a total of six (6) handwritten pages.

David kindly forwarded some images of the medal and letter for publication here. Great medal! It is cataloged as LS-5 in R.W. Julian's Medals of the United States Mint: The First Century 1792-1892. It was created in 1876 and designed by Anthony Paquet along with the Second Class Lifesaving medal.

David also forwarded this link to the US Coast Guard website's full account of the event that led to the presentation of this award. Again, great medal! Can anyone provide more information? I'm running out of time for research tonight, but I'll bet there's an example in the John J. Ford sales. -Editor

To read the complete article, see:

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Irish Free State £50 banknote

Regarding the “Lady Lavery” Irish Free State £50 banknote, Gawain O'Connor writes:

I have read several articles about Lady Lavery on the banknotes, always interesting. If you visit Dublin, you might be interested to see the original painting in the National Gallery (no admission charged) on loan from the Central Bank.

They also have another of Lavery’s works – The Artist’s Studio

Portrait of Lady Lavery In 1928 the Currency Commission issued the first series of 'Free State' banknotes in seven denominations. Sir John Lavery was commissioned to paint a portrait, symbolic of Erin, as their main feature. To this end, the artist reworked an earlier portrait of Hazel Lavery (1909), but dressed her as an archetypal colleen, with her arm resting on an Irish harp, and set her against a mountainous landscape.

The portrait appeared in full on the £10, £20, £50, and £100 notes. The lower denominations-10/-, £1 and £5 notes-featured just the head and shoulders. Thomas Bodkin, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland from 1927 to 1935, promoted Lavery's candidature to work on the banknote image. However, the artist always believed that it was President (Taoiseach) William Cosgrave, head of the Cumann na nGaedheal government, who suggested the idea in acknowledgement of Lavery and his wife's involvement in the Treaty (1921). He quoted Cosgrave as saying of the banknotes: 'Every Irishman, not to mention the foreigner who visits Ireland, will carry one next to his heart'.

Thanks. It's always interesting to pair up original artwork with numismatic items they inspired. For example, see the Victor D. Brenner plaque of Abraham Lincoln elsewhere in this issue. -Editor

To read the complete Portrait of Lady Lavery description, see:
Portrait of Lady Lavery as Kathleen Ni Houlihan, 1928 (

To read the complete Artist's Studio description, see:
The Artist's Studio: Lady Hazel Lavery with her Daughter Alice and Stepdaughter Eileen, 1909-1913 (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: (


John Lupia submitted the following information from his   Encyclopedic Dictionary of Numismatic Biographies for this week's installment of his series. Thanks! As always, this is an excerpt with the full article and bibliography available online. This week's subject is dealer Harry Wyman Tapley. -Editor

Tapley, Harry W Harry Wyman Tapley (1863-1939), was born on June 9, 1863 at North Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, the son of William Hunnewell Tapley (1837-1918) and Hannah Eliza Allen Tapley (1840-1926). He is a relative of Henry F. Tapley of Boston, a noted numismatist.

In the 1880's Tapley was a poultry farmer and breeder of American Seabright Cockerels, White Langshans and Cornish Indian hens, who also served as a judge at fairs for birds eventually became a billiard hall owner and dealer in old United States coins.

He began collecting coins, sometime before 1900, since he joined the ANA that year and the following year 1901 loaned a collection of 440 silver and copper coins for an exhibit in the Iowa State Historical Society. Most likely he began collecting in his youth while on the farm in the 1880's.

He was an avid Republican voting for Benjamin Harrison and Levy Morton wearing their Campaign Badge in a photograph from 1888.

Tapley, Harry W, 1903 postcard
1903 Harry W. Tapley correspondence

Tapley article Humeston New Era, Wed 3 Sep 1902, p.2 In 1901 he loaned 440 silver and copper coins to the Iowa State Historical Department for an exhibition in the State Library. Unfortunately, an employee stole the entire collection. A lawsuit followed over the next five years to be reimbursed for his loss.

On April 5, 1906 he won a lawsuit and was awarded $852 against the State of Iowa when a large and valuable collection of 440 rare silver and copper coins he had on display in July 1901 for an exhibit in the historical property, the State Library of Iowa, owned by the state were partially stolen by an employee.

He is listed in the 1930 American Numismatic Association Directory as ANA Member No. 3007, living at 848 31st Street, Des Moines Iowa, and collecting U. S. coins.

He was an active member of the Des Moines Coin Club.

He died on March 31, 1939. His death was reported at the 37th Meeting of the Des Moines Coin Club on April 13, 1939, by Mr. Chenoweth. He is buried at Glendale Cemetery, Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa.

To read the complete article, see:

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Harvey Stack is one of our favorite old-time numismatists, and his recollections of old-time collectors and their collections feature prominently in his Stack's Bowers blog. On May 5, 2016 he published the first part of a series on the Josiah K. Lilly Collection. Here's an excerpt - the full article is available online. We'll look forward to more installments. -Editor

J.K Lilly Collection

In the spring of 1951, a well-dressed, debonair gentleman came into our shop. He wanted to know if we had any doubloons, from Central and South America to show him. Stack's always maintained a vast and diverse inventory and we took out a few Spanish Colonial gold coins to show him. He introduced himself as Josiah K. Lilly, the chairman of his family's pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company, headquartered in Indianapolis. He explained he had a passion to learn more about the coins that gained their fame during Spanish Colonial days. The coin that was most talked about was the '”doubloon,” or 8 Escudos.

My father, Morton Stack, and my uncle, Joseph B. Stack, were working at the counter that day and began showing J.K. Lilly gold doubloons that we had in stock. These included the somewhat crude early issues, known as cobs due to their somewhat irregular shape. He also examined the various portraits of Spanish kings that appeared on the later issues. Morton and Joseph advised Mr. Lilly that these coins were made and struck in various South American countries, identified by the mintmark on them, and also the assayer’s initials, which gave assurance that the fineness of the gold and weight were verified and therefore official. It was discussed how these were used in trade and also to pay the troops who occupied and ran the countries occupied by the Spanish.

However, at least 20% of all the gold mined was sent back to Spain as compensation to the King who helped finance the expeditions. That portion of the gold was called "The Royal Fifth," and these shipments were a great temptation to pirates of the day. Many treasure ships were captured, looted and sunk during this period of Spanish domination of the Western Hemisphere.

These were the coins that Josiah K. Lilly desired. They proved to him that gold coins were actually minted and then plundered by the pirates — here was the evidence.

From Stack's stock at the time, we gathered for him 12 different pieces, some from different mints of Central and South America, a cob or two, and for the balance, pieces with the portraits of the various kings of Spain. J.K. Lilly was amazed with what we were able to show him, and he decided to purchase all 12 to start his collection. My father and uncle introduced me to him. I was the only junior Stack in Stack's at the time, as my cousin Benjamin had left to try his luck in Las Vegas, and Norman, his brother, was in military service. Later on, since J.K. Lilly liked personal deliveries to Indianapolis, I became the appointed messenger to him, whenever either senior Stack could not make the trip.

In my next article I will discuss more about Mr. Lilly’s first visit to Stack’s in New York City. The future would bear out what an important visit it was.

To read the complete article, see:
Building a World Class Numismatic Gold Coin Collection: The Josiah K. Lilly Collection Part 1 (


Another prominent old-time collection is the J. Doyle deWitt collection of political medals, medalletes. ferrotypes and buttons. Dick Johnson submitted this article about the current controversy over plans to disperse it. Thanks! -Editor

J. Doyle DeWitt J. Doyle deWitt joined Travelers Insurance company as a claims adjuster in 1926. He rose through the ranks until he became chairman of the firm. Along the way he became fascinated with political items, particularly for presidential elections and started collecting these items.

He built a collection of political campaign memorabilia, now worth $4 million. It was in the news this week raising a considerable controversy.

Prior to his retirement he sought a permanent home for his collection, then numbering 50,000 items including nearly a thousand medals, The University of Hartford in his native city was adding a new museum to its campus in West Hartford. This was the ideal solution and the University accepted the donation of his collection.

The museum devoted a large gallery in the museum’s lower level entirely to deWitt’s collection. It was mostly behind glass with banners hanging from the ceiling. A fulltime curator / director was named, Edmund B Sullivan, with a first floor office at the head of the stairway to the lower level.

Meanwhile, deWitt wrote on his devoted subject, three books and several articles. In 1959 he self-published his major work, A Century of Campaign Buttons: 1789-1889. This was an extensive catalog of political medals, medalletes. ferrotypes and buttons, each type illustrated with specimens from his own collection.

DeWitt was a customer of John J. Ford who had sold him many of these medals. DeWitt wanted to distribute to collectors the small quantity he had printed of his book. He asked Ford for a list of collectors he could send his book to. Ford knew of my interest in numismatic literature and added my name to the list.

At the time, 1959, I was on the staff of a daily newspaper as classified ad manager. The book arrived for me at the office. I couldn’t put it down pouring over the excellent illustrations and brief descriptions. I didn’t get much work done for the rest of the day!

Back at the museum, director Sullivan was busy arranging exhibits and conducting tours of the collection. Sullivan, had joined the University of Hartford in 1968, named director of the deWitt Collection a decade later. He wrote three books and articles based on the collection, the most noted was Collecting Political Americana, published in 1980.

Edmund Sullivan at DeWitt Collection exhibit
Edmund Sullivan at DeWitt Collection Exhibit

Sullivan updated deWitt’s 1959 catalog with new varieties which had surfaced in the meantime. He changed the title from deWitt’s “Campaign Buttons” to a more accurate “Political Medals and Medallets,” both covering the period 1792-1889, of all U.S. presidents from Washington to Benjamin Harrison. Sullivan retained deWitt’s original catalog numbers without crediting him. It was published by Quarterman in 1991.

As political item collectors know the celluloid pin was introduced in 1892, effectively ending widespread use of medals as campaign items. Both, however, are collected by members of the national organization, American Political Items Collectors, whose Connecticut chapter is named after J. Doyle deWitt.

In July 1992 the American Medallic Sculpture Association sponsored a week-long workshop and conference at the Univ of Hartford campus in which I was involved. It allowed me an entire week to visit with Sullivan and examine the exhibits at length.

Later the University fell on hard times and the exhibit was closed to the public in 2006 and Sullivan was dismissed. Shortly thereafter the collection was boxed and placed in storage with its future in limbo.

Last month the University announced it wished to auction off the collection. This brought on complaints and a threatened law suit by a Hartford attorney and collector, Bruce Ruhbenstein. He had been a friend of DeWitt’s, had arranged an exhibit of his material with Sullivan and donated a large segment of his own political collection to the University. This week he threatened to sue the University preventing such disposal of the collections.

What was the collection’s unknown fate a decade ago now faces an even greater unknown future.

Here's an excerpt from an April 28, 2016 Hartford Courant article about the collection. -Editor


A major donor to the University of Hartford's DeWitt collection of political memorabilia said he'll sue to block the school's plan to sell the collection, even as a former senior U.S. Senate aide expressed new doubt Thursday about whether such a sale would be legal.

Hartford lawyer Bruce Rubenstein said that, in the early 1990s, a variety of senior officials at the school pressed him to donate his $1 million collection of left-leaning political materials so that they could be displayed as an addendum to an extraordinary collection of U.S. presidential items donated previously by J. Doyle DeWitt, former chairman of The Travelers Cos.

Rubenstein said Thursday that he agreed to make the gift only after obtaining assurances from then-university President Humphrey Tonkin and others that his collection would remain intact and on display with the DeWitt materials in an on-campus museum, which would be part of a library funded in part by Congress to house the DeWitt collection.

Rubenstein said his collection, a broad array of leftist material, effectively became a part of the DeWitt collection.

"Naturally, I was very upset when I read that they were going to sell the DeWitt collection and my stuff and use it to fund university operations," Rubenstein said. "That was not my intent when I made the donation. The intent was to have the museum display it and have the public come in and learn from it. I felt like I was the victim of a fraud."

I've seen this movie before, and I know how it ends. I was one of many outraged Pittsburgh area numismatists when the Carnegie Museum of Natural History announced it planned to sell its world-famous coin collection in the late 1970s. Although a settlement was reached where the Museum kept intact the Clapp collection of U.S. Large Cents, a type set of U.S. coins, and all local tokens and medals, the bulk of the collection was eventually sold in multiple sales across the globe. -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
More Doubts, Opposition To Sale Of Unique, Hartford Collection Of Political History (


SELECTIONS FROM THE JOHN HUFFMAN LIBRARY: Browse and Shop Approximately 3,000 Numismatic Books from the Respected Library of John Huffman—All Books Recently Discounted 40%. Click here or go to click on “All Subjects” and select “John Huffman Collection”


David Sundman forwarded this Smithsonian Magazine article about the history of the nickel (in honor of the coin's 150th anniversary), which includes comments from Dave Bowers and American Numismatic Association curator Doug Mudd. Thanks. Here's an excerpt. -Editor

History of the NIckel The nickel wasn't always worth five cents. In 1865, the U.S. nickel was a three-cent coin. Before that, “nickel cents” referred to alloy pennies.

It turns out that even the name “nickel” is misleading. “Actually, nickels should be called 'coppers,'” says coin expert Q. David Bowers. Today's so-called nickels are 75 percent copper.

Those aren't the only surprises hidden in the history of the nickel. The story of America's five-cent coin is, strangely enough, a war story. And 150 years since it was first minted in 1866, the modest nickel serves as a window into the symbolic and practical importance of coinage itself.

To understand how the nickel got its name, you have to go back to an era when precious metals reigned supreme. In the 1850s, coins of any real value were made of gold and silver. In the event of a financial crisis—or worse, the collapse of a government—precious metal coins could always be melted down. They had intrinsic value. But in the spring of 1861, southern states began to secede, and Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as President. Soon shells were falling on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. America was in crisis, and so was its currency. “The outcome of the Civil War was uncertain,” says Bowers, an author of several books on coin history. Widespread anxiety led to an important side-effect of war. “People started hoarding hard money, especially silver and gold.”

Coins seemed to vanish overnight, and the U.S. Mint couldn't keep up with demand. “The United States literally did not have the resources in gold and silver to produce enough money to meet the needs of the country,” says Douglas Mudd, the director of the American Numismatic Association. “Even the cent was disappearing.” In the South, this problem was even worse. The limited supply of gold and silver was needed to purchase supplies from abroad, which meant the Confederacy relied almost exclusively on paper currency.

Minting new coins might not seem like a priority in a time of war. But without coinage, transactions of everyday life—buying bread, selling wares, sending mail—become almost impossible. One Philadelphia newspaper reported that the local economy had slowed to a crawl in 1863, citing that some storekeepers had to cut their prices “one to four cents on each transaction” or refuse to sell products outright because they were unable to get a hold of money.

Mudd puts the problem in more familiar terms. “It's like, all of a sudden, not being able to go to 7-Eleven because [the cashier] can't make change,” he says. “And if [they] can't make change, the economy stops.”

For the duration of the war, the American economy puttered along with all kinds of competing currency. Even private banks and businesses were releasing their own notes and coins. Shopkeepers could give coins, stamps or bills as change. The war finally ended in 1865, but it took many months for precious metals to trickle back into circulation. “It's not until after the Civil War that coin production resumes at full capacity,” says Mudd.

As the United States turned its attention to rebuilding, not all metals were scarce. War production had expanded America's industrial capacity, and nickel was available in huge quantities. The advantage of nickel lay in what it wasn't. It wasn't scarce, which meant the government could print millions of coins without creating new shortages. And it wasn't a precious metal, so people wouldn't hoard it.

Only after a bizarre 1866 controversy about paper money, however, did nickel coins finally conquer everyday life. At the time, the National Currency Bureau (later called the Bureau of Engraving and Printing) was led by a man named Spencer Clark. He was tasked with finding a suitable portrait for the five-cent note. Clark's selection was a proud-looking man with dark eyes and a thick white beard. The public was not amused.

“He put his own image on there,” says Mudd. “There was a major scandal.”

While legislators were making speeches in Congress denouncing Clark's portrait, an industrialist named Joseph Wharton was busy prodding legislators to find an alternative to paper money. In the early years of the war, Wharton had bought up nickel mines in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, so his suggestion should come as no surprise. He wanted coins to be made out of nickel.

Two months later, five-cent notes were quietly retired. And as Philadelphia's Daily Evening Bulletin reported in May of 1866, a new coin was to immediately take its place. “The President [Andrew Johnson] has approved a bill to authorize the coinage of five cent pieces, composed of nickel and copper,” said the article. “There are to be no more issues of fractional notes of a less denomination than ten cents.”

The new coin was decorated with a shield, the words “In God We Trust,” and a large “5,” surrounded by a star and ray design. That year, the government minted a whopping 15 million five-cent nickels—more than 100 times the number of silver half-dimes minted the year before.

As far as the future of the nickel was concerned, the timing was perfect. The postwar economy began to gather steam again. “The supply was there, and the demand was there,” says Mudd. “People wanted coins.”

The article is well written, but oddly illustrated. While properly mentioning U.S. fractional currency and discussing the Spencer Clark, it does not picture the Clark note. And for an article in the history of the nickel it strangely lacks images of the Shield Nickel or any other nickel besides a recent Jefferson. Still, it's nice to get some attention for numismatics in mainstream publications. -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
A Brief History of the Nickel (


Harvey Stack submitted this interesting (and funny!) response to Bob Rightmire's question about U.S. proof set shipping boxes. Thanks! -Editor

Pre-1955 U.S. Proof Set Box 1 It was interesting to see the inquiry for information about pre-1955 Proof sets.

I remember the period 1950 to 1952 quite clearly as it was in my early days at Stack's and issue of Proof Sets once again.

As you know Proof sets were officially made and sold by the U.S. Mint starting in 1858, though there were also earlier strikings of Proof coins (called Specimen Strikings in the earlier days). Proofs were made every year from 1858 to 1915, and also 1916 Cent and Five Cents. (The two most popular series in the earlier 20th Century.

It was not until 1936 that they continued the series, when they issued 3837 sets and by 1942 they upped the number 21,120 sets, continued the series to 1950 when they struck 51,386 and slowly advanced to millions of sets today.

The bulk of the 1936-1942 sets were sent in cellophane envelopes, with a woven paper outer mailer. In 1950 the Mint introduced boxes and used them until early in 1952, when they started "flat packing the sets" in cellophane sheets and had an number of different containers for distribution for more current years.(from 1936 to 1942 the Mint also made and sold individual Cents and Five Cents in Proof (to satisfy the collectors of those series, but only a few thousand extra of each year were issued)

The introduction of boxing in 1950 caused some buyers to reject sets that came directly from the boxes of issue, if they were opened. As each box was about 3 x 3 inches in size, the Mint used packing tape to seal each set. The coins were packed in cellophane envelopes, wrapped in tissue to further protect them in shipment, were sent out in the boxes, and were kept by receivers usually in the sealed box.

1950 and 1951 Proof sets had NO MARKINGS ON THE BOX so one could not be sure what was in the box if still sealed. The BOXED sets of 1952 where STAMPED with the date. and later that year where shipped in manila envelopes, marked with the date, and coins were Flat Packed in celophane within.

So the 1950 and 1951 sets, especially to a neophyte were hard to tell WHAT WAS IN THE BOX ? Professional dealers like STACK'S quickly learned that the 1950 sets had a single packing taping around the box. and the 1951 sets had a 2 row crossed taping about the box. So when presented with fresh unopened boxes we knew what we could find inside.

However promoters and the advisers who knew less about the coin than containers they came in said, "THE VALUE WAS IN THE SEALED BOX SO DON'T OPEN IT AFTER WE SELL IT TO YOU OR THEY WILL LOSE THEIR VALUE AND ORIGINALITY." SOME ENTERPRISING SELLERS REMOVED THE PROOF SETS FROM THE BOXES, REPLACED THEM WITH MINT STATE COINS, OR SUBSTITUTED "WASHERS", RESEALED THE BOXES, AND WITH THE INSTRUCTIONS "don't open these as the will lose their originality and value", so the buyer bought real proofs or a 'pig in a poke".

Well these noted "instructions" caused problems in retail shop as Stack's had.

A client would come in and ask for a 1950 or 1951 Proof set and since we had bought a quantity direct from the Mint, we took a box out of a drawer, and proceeded to slice it open so the buyer could see just what he was buying . " don't want one from an open box," he would say, " if you have one sealed I will take it, if not, forget the sale ! "

Hearing this I or any of our other salesman would reply, "how do you know what is in the box ? how can you be sure what you are getting ? Maybe there is nothing in the box, or it is filled with sink washers, or just dirty old coins?"

The client would shout back, " I read and heard the value was in the sealed box, and if you cannot get one like I asked for, I will leave the store !" So to please the client, who was so uninformed that we took another SEALED BOX out of the draw and gently handed it to so it would not "drop on the counter" and again lose its value because the box could have been dented(?) and made the sale.

It proves that a "little knowledge is dangerous" and that you cannot get information solely from what you are told; learn about coins and how they were issued before you make the errors of your way and lose interest in collecting.

The story about "DON'T OPEN THE BOX OR IT WILL LOSE ITS VALUE" can probably be repeated today, for some old time collection can still have sealed boxes as a "store of value".

Bob is still looking for images of these pre-1955 U.S. Proof Set shipping boxes. Can anyone help? Thanks. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

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Wendell Wolka publishes a regular Coin World column on paper money. I enjoyed the May 6, 2016 installment, which describes an interesting time in the history of New Orleans. -Editor

New Orleans Municipality Number One banknote

Most people are familiar with the idea of twin cities, such as Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., and, local protests notwithstanding, Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. I was recently working on some notes and came across an interesting one from New Orleans issued by “Municipality No. One.”

Municipality No. One?

Well, as it turns out, from 1836 to 1852, the City of New Orleans was split into not two, but three distinct municipalities.

The reason for the split was a political response to ethnic tensions that had built up in the city, which was a melting pot of sorts during this period. In response to calls from the “American” population of New Orleans, the state legislature repealed the city’s charter in 1836 and divided the city into three so-called municipalities, each with its own council, police, schools, port, services, and so forth. These, in turn, were overseen by a mayor and general council (composed of the councils of the three municipalities). As one source observed: “The municipalities had complete control of all their local affairs, paving, improvements, etc.; they could fix taxes and issue bonds, which they did quite actively.”

Municipality No. 1 took in what was referred to as the “old town” and was inhabited by primarily Creoles (native born Louisiana descendants of French or Spanish settlers) or residents of French heritage. Naturally, French was the everyday language. Municipality No. 2 was primarily settled by the English-speaking Anglo-American population. Municipality No. 3, also primarily inhabited by French-speaking citizens, tended to be the weakest of the three municipalities as it was the farthest from the urban core.

The system ultimately simply proved to be too complicated and cumbersome to continue. The independent and essentially uncoordinated financial decisions made by the three municipalities, for example, undermined the city’s bond ratings. The wonder is that it lasted as long as it did until 1852 when the city was finally returned to a more traditional (and unified) form of city government.

There are numerous numismatic reminders of this unwieldy form of “separate but equal” governance. Not surprisingly, in addition to commercial banks, each of the three municipalities issued various forms of currency including post notes, payable at some future date. Many are still available at affordable prices today, making putting together a four note set of Municipality One, Two, Three, and the unified city of New Orleans issues a reasonably easy challenge.

The issue of local vs regional control is an issue as old as politics itself. Every locality desires autonomy when it doesn't like the decisions or service coming out of the regional level. But they forget the benefits of having a unified governance, and often wind up together again anyway when the downsides of local governance come to the fore. -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
The New Orleans trio is a collectible goal: Collecting Paper (


Bruce Hagen provided these highlights from the recently-concluded May 4th Heritage internet-only sale of items from the Eric P. Newman collection. Thanks. -Editor

Newman May 2016 Internet sale Wednesday May 4, 2016 unleashed auction enthusiasm that rivaled public paper currency sales of legendary times past as 100’s of buyers and likely ten times the number of active bidders rollicked through the 1,500 plus lots of American paper currency. That was despite no auction room, auctioneer or floor bidders. Instead the now of auctions with bidders globally networked on a level playing field competed for fascinating notes from the Eric P. Newman collection. Most were never offered for public sale before and boasting many unique items. Many of these could be obtained by eager specialists reasonably when compared to similar mainstream coin rarities. There was something for everyone and in all price ranges. Colonial, Continental, Obsolete, Confederate and Small Size Federal notes met with great energy. It was clear from the start that bidders relished a bidding format with $1 and up start prices, unrestricted and unreserved bidding, coinciding with well researched, cataloged, and imaged items. The sale brought just over $800,000 with the buyers premium, well above pre-sale expectations.

Highlights Include:

Lot 86071 at $4,465.00

Massachusetts Bay December 17, 1775 note front Massachusetts Bay December 17, 1775 note back

Massachusetts Bay December 17, 1775 14 Shillings Fr. MA-183. PCGS Very Fine 30 Apparent.

This is a bold and attractive second series "Sword in Hand" note. The surfaces on both sides are clean and pleasing, it is well margined on all sides and the signatures are sharply accomplished. The patriot vignette is exceptionally well detailed and is centered perfectly upon the handsome, high-quality paper. There are only some noted "Small Edge Tears at Right," but this is an exceptional example. Very few Swords are so appealing, and this is a splendidly rendered Revere copperplate engraving.

To read the complete lot description, see:
Bold and Attractive December 7, 1775 "Sword in Hand" Note ( Massachusetts Bay December 17, 1775 14 Shillings Fr. MA-183.

Highlights Include;

Lot 86204 at $6,462.50

North Carolina May 17, 1783 20 Shillings Contemporary Counterfeit Type Pair North Carolina May 17, 1783 20 Shillings Contemporary Counterfeit court document

North Carolina May 17, 1783 20 Shillings Contemporary Counterfeit Type Pair mounted to Court Document Fr. NC-206a and NC-206b. PCGS Encapsulated.

This is a unique and fascinating primary source document that provides a view into counterfeiting in the early Confederation period North Carolina. Two different contemporary counterfeit notes affixed to it on the docketed side (opposite the textual portion). Both notes are affixed with glue and are both emblem types (Ships and Justice) of the May 17, 1783 20 Shilling notes. Each is penned "Counterfeit" on the face. The false 20 Shillings "Justice" appears to be a well-defined Very Fine note. The false 20 Shillings "Crown and Book" has a small piece off the edge, otherwise it appears to be Fine or so condition.

The notes are perpendicular to the docket text across in the center segment. The legal text is fascinating. And the phrase referring to the "utter[er] and pass[er]" of the notes, Henry Ebon Sears as "a person of evil name and fame and dishonest conversation," reflects that there were bad guys in all periods of history. The 40 shillings was a considerable sum of money, and counterfeits from this series were a plague on local commerce. The document is folded into six parts, and has some petty edge splits. As a document, in Fine or better condition. A unique and historic item and with two rare and desirable contemporary counterfeit notes. The document and transcription may be viewed on the Heritage website.

To read the complete lot description, see:
North Carolina May 17, 1783 20 Shillings Contemporary Counterfeit Type Pair mounted to Court Document (

Lot 86382 at 7,637.50

Bank of the State of Alabama at Huntsville $5 Post Note Jan. 1, 1836

Huntsville, AL - Bank of the State of Alabama at Huntsville $5 Post Note Jan. 1, 1836 AL-5-G152 SENC Rosene 3-UNL. PCGS Fine Very Fine 20 Apparent.

An exceptionally important and interesting note on several levels. Not only is it an extremely rare type from the Huntsville branch, it was also payable at the Bank of Louisiana in New Orleans. This is a beautifully engraved note by Draper, Toppan, Longacre & Co. Aurora, seated in a chariot at the top center, is cupped into the title. Upper corner vignettes represent Industry at the left and Agriculture at the right. Showing sharp pen signatures and issued to be paid "Ninety" days after date. A solid note with only some "Minor Stains" in the center noted. We have sold just one proof of this branch denomination design type, but never an issued note with this style. A key Alabama tie note type that will appeal to collectors from both states.

To read the complete lot description, see:
Huntsville, AL - Bank of the State of Alabama at Huntsville $5 Post Note Jan. 1, 1836 (

Lot 86751 at $1,410.00

Nantucket, MA - Nantucket Bank $3 May 10, 1806 note

Nantucket, MA - Nantucket Bank $3 May 10, 1806 Contemporary Counterfeit MA-855 C14, Newman Page 220. PCGS Very Fine 30 Apparent.

A very scarce type listed in The Early Paper Money of America (Fifth Edition), by Eric P. Newman on page 220, where it is the plate note. The early bank was founded in 1795, but had its affairs settled by 1816. We have never encountered a genuine note or a proof from the bank. This type is one of the most intriguing from the early Obsolete note-issuing period.

This note shows a perpendicular, spouting whale on which is a downward-facing "3" balanced by the upward facing "3" at the right end. The end panel at left shows BANK, which looks like it was fashioned from rope. Counters with the number, text, and Roman numerals are on differently shaped, shaded backgrounds. Texts and obligations are across. "Pen Cancelled" with "Tape Repaired Edge Tears." However, this is an iconic type, and the Newman plate note stature adds to its desirability. An essential member of this early banking period's notes.

To read the complete lot description, see:
Nantucket, MA - Nantucket Bank $3 May 10, 1806 Contemporary Counterfeit MA-855 ( 1806-contemporary-counterfeit-ma- 855-c14-newman-page-220-pcgs- very-fine-30-apparen/a/241618-86751.s)

Lot 87156 at $11,162.50

Logan, UT - Goodwin Brothers 10 Cents October 1, 1877

Logan, UT - Goodwin Brothers 10 Cents October 1, 1877 Rust 163, Nyholm 259. PCGS Fine 12.

An epic private scrip note from Utah, and possibly the only example known in private hands. The plate notes in Rust and Nyholm are photocopies from the Church Collection archives. The two issued notes pictured are harshly pen cancelled in the face. Not only is this uncancelled note, but the condition is marvelous.

Printed on white paper in green with a curving title across the top, counter and obligation at the upper right, left serial numeral block and city at lower left printed in red. A pattern border is all around with flourish details in the inside corners. Gothic "Ten Cents" is across with red "In Merchandise" below. A large green "10" is at top center under the title. The signature and serial number 14 are of excellent quality. The note is uniformly toned, but this is a Mormon private note treasure. There was intense competition in the October 2015 Newman Part VII sale for notes of equal or even lesser rarity. This is one of the key private scrip notes from the Newman Collection and deserves thoughtful interest from serious Mormon note specialists.

To read the complete lot description, see:
Exceedingly Rare Goodwin Brothers, Logan Scrip (

Lot 87157 at $9,987.50

Provo Manufacturing Company 10 Cents December 1, 1874

Provo, UT - Provo Manufacturing Company 10 Cents December 1, 1874 Rust UNL, Nyholm UNL. PCGS Fine 15.

An amazing Western territorial period scrip note, which we believe to be previously unreported. The note is unlisted in Rust and Nyholm, and more remarkably, it is in beautiful condition. Printed on white paper and similar in style to many Mormon scrip notes from the period. Green printing with red overprints and details. Ornamental bordering with vine-like details is all around. The title is across top center, and directly below, the engraved WHOLESALE has been blocked out in red. At lower center is a red protector TEN CENTS above IN PROVO MANUFACTURING COMPANY'S CLOTH in small print. Dated to bottom left and with a very sharp signature. Some minor purple crayon on the back does not show to the face.

All four Provo scrip notes sold in the October 2015 Newman Part VII sale exceeded $5,000 each with ease. This note is clearly in that league, and some might argue, superior to them. The highest competitive bidder will obtain this prize Mormon scrip note of exceptional character and condition.

To read the complete lot description, see:
Provo, UT - Provo Manufacturing Company 10 Cents December 1, 1874 (

Lot 87256 at $2,585.00

Northhousen, WI - Buffalo County Bank $1

Northhousen, WI - Buffalo County Bank $1 185_ WI-600 G2a. Proof. PCGS Very Choice New 64.

An important proof from one of Wisconsin rarest banks. This is an exceptionally graphic India paper proof engraved and printed by Toppan, Carpenter & Co., New York & Phila. from a $1A-$1B-$5-$10 configured sheet. This is the last available proof in private hands. The bank never opened, but spared no expense in producing one of the most visual Badger State series. The $1 proof uses a vermillion title at the left and large color counter at the upper right. At the bottom left is a wide hunting scene set on the plains, showing the moment the Indian on his galloping horse spears the buffalo. At the upper right, two beavers busily gnaw on branches. Hole Punch Cancelled as made.

The "A" position proof in the same grade sold in our Newman Part VI sale in April 2015 for $4,700. This note is tremendous in all regards, particularly because of the title and complementing vignette. The plate note in both reference works is an unavailable proof archived in Madison. The color is extraordinarily bold and vibrant.

To read the complete lot description, see:
Northhousen, WI - Buffalo County Bank $1 185_ WI-600 G2a. Proof. (

The view the entire sale and its results go to Heritage Auctions at:


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Here are some numismatic-related items that caught my eye in the upcoming May 14 Heritage Auctions Americana and Political Sale. -Editor

Lot 42001 : George Washington Inaugural Button

George Washington Inaugural Button front George Washington Inaugural Button back

George Washington: Memorable Era GW Inaugural Button. GW-1789-4, 34mm, copper with original shank. Sometimes known as the "Dated Eagle" GW as it is the only pattern with the date of the inauguration, March 4th, as originally scheduled (it was postponed and took place on April 30, 1789). Slight waviness and convexity to the planchet.

To read the complete lot description, see:
George Washington: Memorable Era GW Inaugural Button (

Lot 42024 : Martin Van Buren Indian Peace Medal

Martin Van Buren Indian Peace Medal obverse Martin Van Buren Indian Peace Medal reverse

Martin Van Buren: U.S. Mint Indian Peace Medal. 75mm copper medal by Furst, 6.5mm thick.

To read the complete lot description, see:
Martin Van Buren: U.S. Mint Indian Peace Medal. (

Lot 42064 : Lincoln Plaque by Brenner

Lincoln Plaque by Brenner front Lincoln Plaque by Brenner back

Abraham Lincoln: Classic Bronze Plaque by Victor D. Brenner, Designer of the Lincoln Penny. This signed 1907 plaque shows Lincoln in a similar profile pose to that found on Brenner's immortal penny design. Mounted on the original green marble. The bronze plaque measures 7" x 9.5" and the green marble mount measures 8.5" x 10.75". The plaque has a nice, mellow patina, most prominent in the recessed areas. It retains its original brass easel on the verso. The edge is stamped S. Klarer & Co., Founders, N.Y. A marvelous item which appeals to numismatists and Lincoln collectors alike.

I'm glad I long ago stopped getting upset at the use of the word "penny" in place of "cent", or I'd be having a coronary right now. -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:
Abraham Lincoln: Classic Bronze Plaque by Victor D. Brenner, Designer of the Lincoln Penny (

Lot 42069: Abraham Lincoln Ferrotype Campaign Button

Abraham Lincoln Ferrotype Campaign Button front Abraham Lincoln Ferrotype Campaign Button back

Abraham Lincoln: Back-to-Back Ferrotype. Similar to AL-1860-97, but with three-leaf clusters on the obverse, gilt brass, 25mm. Both portraits excellent, especially the Lincoln which is El Perfecto.

No fancy 70-point grading scale here. -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:
Abraham Lincoln: Back-to-Back Ferrotype. (

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An April 29, 2016 Wall Street Journal article examined the issue of damaged and scrap coins that the U.S. Mint bought back from wholesalers until the program was recently suspended. Interesting look at an obscure business. -Editor

Damaged coins The quarter stuck to the blob of gum in the ashtray, the dime wedged between the driver’s seat cushions—these are the coins of Ronnie Shahar’s realm.

The U.S. ships hundreds of thousands of tons of scrap to China each year, much of it comprising the aluminum remains of broken-down vehicles that have been fed through industrial shredders. The scrap is so laden with coins, many of them battered beyond recognition, that a new industry has emerged to reclaim and repatriate them.

Mr. Shahar, a 46-year-old entrepreneur, was among the first to realize the potential in pocket change more than 25 years ago. Today, he buys U.S. coins in bulk from Chinese salvage yards and exports them to his Oregon-based partner, who exchanges the coins at the U.S. Mint for a lump sum.

The Mint redeems coins that are bent, burned, fused, chipped or otherwise uncountable by machine at nearly their face value, under a program established more than a century ago.

The program has paid out more than $100 million since 2009, the year customs officials in Los Angeles noted a sharp increase in large coin shipments from China. The uptick was so sharp that federal law-enforcement officials have come to believe some of the dimes, quarters and half dollars arriving from the Far East are fakes.

Mr. Shahar’s business was thriving until U.S. officials shut down the coin reimbursement program last year, detaining about $664,000 worth of his and his business partner’s coins, according to a lawsuit he filed earlier this year asking a judge to release them.

While Mr. Shahar hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing, federal prosecutors have alleged three of his competitors imported counterfeit coins.

Mr. Shahar, an Australian, said U.S. officials have simply underestimated the amount of money Americans consign to the trash heap, he said. And anyway, he said, it would be folly to make fake coins of such low value.

“No one counterfeits small-value coins,” said Mr. Shahar, who lives in Israel with his wife. “It doesn’t make any economic sense.”

A spokeswoman for the Justice Department declined to comment, as did a spokesman for the U.S. Mint.

Mr. Shahar said he discovered the coin trade while traveling in Thailand​ in 1989. During a tour of a temple, ​the 19-year-old Mr. Shahar spotted tourists flipping coins into a wishing well.

After the tour, the guide introduced him to a temple caretaker, who took him into a room filled with bags of coins sorted by country, Mr. Shahar recalled.

Mr. Shahar was headed to London and planned to return to Australia, via Thailand, in​a month’s time. He and the caretaker made a deal. If Mr. Shahar agreed to take 6,000 one-pound coins with him to the U.K., exchange them for cash and bring the money back to the temple, he could keep 900 pounds for himself.

“I thought, ‘This is something I could do so I could finance my travels,’ ” said Mr. Shahar.

He began buying coins from other temples across Asia, and then from charities, secondhand stores and metal recyclers.

These days, “he has contacts all around the world,” said Adam Youngs, who imports U.S. coins from Mr. Shahar through his company, Portland Mint.

Mr. Shahar said he has developed coin sources in 25 countries, but much of his business drifted to China, amid its rise as a global metal recycler—a $50 billion industry in China, according to research firm IBISWorld.

Chinese recyclers sell coins retrieved from the scrap to people like Mr. Shahar for 20% to 30% less than face value, according to Mr. Shahar and others in his industry.

Under the U.S. Mint’s Mutilated Coin Redemption Program, established in 1911, the government pays a standard rate of $20 per pound for mutilated dimes, quarters and half dollars.

Bulk coins shipments are hauled to one of two foundries on contract with the government. They melt the metal down to be made into new coins.

The Mint halted the program in November after federal prosecutors accused coin importers America Naha Inc., Wealthy Max Ltd., and XRacer Sports Co. Ltd of trying to defraud the U.S. Mint with counterfeit coins.​​

Obscure business, yes. But shady? What do readers make of the assertion that it wouldn't pay to make fake damaged U.S. coins for resale? Is the goverment really underestimating the number of genuine damaged coins that could be out there? -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
Lost in the Seat Cushions, There’s $100 Million in Spare Change (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:


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While I'm not a collector of ancient coins, I do very much look forward to Mike Markowitz's articles in his Ancient Coin Series for CoinWeek. I always learn something new. Here's an excerpt from his interesting May 2, 2016 article on coins for the dead. -Editor

Charon’s Obol Coins for the Dead

Offerings of food, tools, fresh flowers and red ochre (a mineral pigment) were carefully deposited in Neanderthal burials as far back as a hundred thousand years ago. We imagine that such “grave goods” were intended for the enjoyment of the dead in the afterlife. Within a century after the emergence of coinage in the seventh century BCE, coins begin to appear in ancient graves. One custom – but by no means the only one – was to place a single, low-value coin in the mouth of the deceased. Coins may be found in or near the hands of the deceased, at their feet, or scattered in the grave. Where cremation was the custom, burned coins are sometimes found with the ashes in an urn.

From literary sources, we know that such coins were called “Charon’s obols”.

In Greek mythology, Charon was the boatman of the underworld who rowed the souls of the departed across a river to their eternal destination. In most Greek texts the river is identified as the Acheron; in Latin works it is more commonly called the Styx. The dead who could not pay the fare were doomed to wander on the riverbank.

The Obol

Obol coin An obol was originally a small silver coin, valued at one-sixth of a drachma. After the Greek-speaking cities of the eastern Mediterranean were absorbed into the Roman empire, “obol” was often used to describe any low-value bronze coin. On the “Attic” weight standard of Athens, an obol weighed 0.72 grams. On the older weight standard of Aegina, an obol weighed 1.05 grams.

Obol coins are usually lighter than the theoretical weight. Ancient mints took a loss producing small change in precious metal, and often compensated by adjusting the weight downward.

The Greek word “obol” originally meant “roasting spit,” because bundles of iron roasting spits served as a primitive form of money before coinage. Such skewers are occasionally found in ancient graves and tombs, perhaps in expectation of feasting in the afterlife. Burial customs are highly conservative, so the small coin might have served as a convenient symbolic substitute for the iron skewer.

The Elusive Danake
Danake Small coin-like objects made of gold foil impressed with various designs occasionally appear in excavation reports or on the antiquities market. The terms danake (an Old Persian synonym for obol) or lamella (Latin for “piece of foil”) are typically used to describe such artifacts.

Numismatists describe these as “uniface” – because the design appears on one side. They usually weigh between a half and a quarter of a gram, and measure 6 to 12 mm in diameter. Again, burial customs are very conservative, and in the absence of any inscription, provenance or context such pieces can only be dated in the most general terms (“fifth to first century BCE”, for example). One type shows a “radiate” head, probably the sun god Helios or Apollo. Another type depicts a honeybee, perhaps expressing a wish for a sweet afterlife.

The author concludes with commentary relevant to today's numismatic market and regulatory environment. -Editor

Ethics, Numismatics and the Dead
I think most people would agree that the remains of the dead, regardless of their culture or religious beliefs, should be undisturbed. Even when a compelling scientific or social purpose requires that human remains be disinterred and studied, they should receive the same respect that we would wish for the remains of our own loved ones. Although it is possible that these artifacts may have been separated from their funerary context through the action of plant roots, burrowing animals, groundwater or construction, the most probable explanation for their appearance on the antiquities market is grave-robbing. Collectors might wish consider the ethical implications of purchasing such objects.

Those who seek to ban the private ownership and trade in antiquities would love to depict all ancient coin collectors as complicit with tomb robbers and looters of archaeological sites. The reality is far more complex[3]. Most ancient coins are found in hoards–ceramic pots deliberately buried at a distance from buildings and inhabited areas. Coins in graves were typically of low value when buried, and generally being common types in base metal, are of little value on the antiquities market today.

We show respect for remains of the deceased, not because they care, or because it benefits them in any way, but because this is simply one of the things that makes us human.

To read the complete article, see:
Ancient Coins – Charon’s Obol Coins for the Dead (

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Cataloger Chris Chatigny published a short article in his Stack's Bowers blog about an interesting and rare Czechoslovakia commemorative. -Editor

1934 Czechoslovakia 10 Dukaten Commemorative

​For our inaugural preview of the Stack’s Bowers Galleries August 2016 ANA World’s Fair of Money auction – held in Anaheim, California – we have a nice rarity that is the finest certified of its kind by a large margin. Our highlight for today is a Czechoslovakian 1934 10 Dukaten commemorating the reopening of the Kremnica Mine. With a mintage of just 68 pieces the population is small, with this example (certified by NGC with a grade of Mint State 68) standing as the finest graded by a three-point margin at both PCGS and NGC.

The obverse design features Saint Catherine kneeling in prayer facing right, clearly identified by the wheel to her right. The arms of Kremnica appear behind her. The reverse design bears an intricate image of the exterior of the mines, while the lower portion is a cut out of a mine tunnel featuring both modern and antique miners and equipment.

The intricate design is set against deep dark prooflike fields, which add a third dimension to the artwork when viewed in hand. A coin without peers that is sure to impress.

To read the complete article, see:
Very Scarce Czechoslovakia 1934 10 Dukaten (


We sometimes highlight celebrities who share our hobby. I haven't managed to get this item in The E-Sylum until today, but this April 13, 2016 Wall Street Journal article notes that actor Mackenzie Crook in a coin collector. -Editor

Actor Mackenzie Crook As Gareth in the British series “The Office,” Mackenzie Crook played a suck-up who was a target for everyone on the show. Some 15 years after “The Office” helped define “cringe” as a comedy genre, Mr. Crook created a series with a softer touch.

The 44-year-old actor writes, directs and stars in “Detectorists,” a comedy about a club of small-town hobbyists who use metal detectors to hunt for buried treasure while looking for happiness in their lives. After its debut in 2014, the show became a low-key hit on BBC Four and won two awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

“Not that I’m against cringe comedy, but this was an experiment to see if I could come up with something that doesn’t rely on cruelty or being snide or spiteful,” Mr. Crook says. He describes “Detectorists” as a “celebration of ordinary people and their pastimes.”

The second season of the series, which aired late last year in the U.K., recently premiered in the U.S. and Canada on Acorn TV, a streaming service focused on British TV shows.

“The show could conceivably have been about fishing or bird-watching or other meditative things that take you out to the country. But there’s a beautiful if clumsy bit of symbolism in metal detecting,” Mr. Crook says. “They’re searching for a connection to the past, though finding gold and becoming rich is always in the back of their minds.”

The characters’ nerdy hobby was partly inspired by Mr. Crook’s father, who had a passion for coin collecting that the actor didn’t share while growing up. But in recent years the actor became a collector, too, gravitating to U.S. specimens, including a “very early colonial half penny from 1723.” He adds, “Don’t get me started on coins.”

To read the complete article, see:
Mackenzie Crook’s ‘Detectorists’ Seek Treasure and Happiness (

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Dick Johnson submitted these thoughts on the news that Canada is considering eliminating their five cent coin. Thanks. -Editor

The future of Canadian coins and currency were mentioned in a report this week issued by Canada’s financial service organization, Desjardins:

  • Canadian_Nickel_reverse Eliminate the 5-cent nickel within five years.
  • Discontinue the 25-cent quarter and replace with a 20-cent coin.
  • Thus 10-cent, 20-cent, 50-cent will be the only three coin denominations less than one dollar.
  • Add a new $5 circulating coin to replace the $5 bill but this may be delayed because of the success of the new polymer bills.

There are more Canadian coins and currency in circulation than ever before, despite the increasing number of cashless ways to make payments. That’s not likely to change. However, Canada should avoid eliminating cash entirely, very unlikely to vanish in the next 10 to 20 years, said the financial company’s report.

The Canadian cent was discontinued in 2012. The nickel is next to be eliminated. “The time will come when the nickel will have to be taken out of circulation” the report stated. Without giving the reason for the elimination of the quarter and substituting a 20-cent coin would be the necessity to round off all transactions to the nearest 10-cent multiple. Nickels and quarters don’t comply.

Reviews of the cent’s demise were mostly positive. Few people miss it and it has reduced the cost for both business and the government the report stated. The public accepted rounding off a total transaction amount– Canadians call it the “tally” amount – to the nearest 5-cent multiple. This paves the way to round off to the nearest 10-cent amount when the nickel disappears.

Eliminating low value coins is a result of a vibrant economy. The purchasing power of low value coins diminishes as the economy increases. More than 22 countries around the world have eliminated one or more of their lowest value coins. In a few instances new high value coins have been issued to replace paper money of the same denomination. Coins last longer, in contrast to paper money needs to be constantly replaced.

Are you listening U.S. Treasury officials? Canada’s success could be replicated in the United States.

I'll respectfully disagree with Dick's assertion that a vibrant economy diminishes purchasing power - that's the job of inflation, which isn't necessarily associated with a vibrant economy. And I'm not sure I'd want to get my information from Economic Collapse News. But it's still a fact that rising raw material costs and the diminished purchasing power of low-denomination coins is putting them on the chopping block worldwide. -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
Canadian bank wants to phase out five-cent, 25-cent coins (

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This news was overlooked in the frenzy to report on the new proposed designs for U.S. paper money, but this Wall Street Journal article (published April 19, 2016) indicates that the Treasury Department is actively considering a move to eliminate the cent. -Editor

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew originally planned to put Susan B. Anthony on the front of the $10 bill and suspend production of the penny in a revamp of the nation’s money, according to a memo he sent to President Barack Obama last year.

The March 2015 memo, which hadn’t previously been reported, sheds new light on a couple of long-running currency dramas. The penny suspension hadn’t been announced, though Mr. Lew last fall said it was under consideration.

Treasury hasn’t announced any plans about suspending production of the penny. Mr. Lew’s memo also said he would call on Congress to authorize the use of alternative metals for coins in circulation.

“We’ve been looking at the penny for a long time, because obviously the value of a penny has gotten smaller and smaller as time has gone on,” Mr. Lew said at a forum on the $10 bill last November. “Even with low inflation, it continues to diminish.”

Several bills have been introduced in Congress to eliminate the penny, but none has passed. Because many consumers don’t use pennies, they’re removed from circulation quickly, requiring the U.S. Mint to produce more of those than all other coins put together. While Congress would need to pass a law to change currency denominations, suspending production could speed that process.

Suspending penny production could raise objections from the zinc industry and create logistical headaches for businesses. Zinc accounts for 97.5% of penny content.

Some economists have said the nuisance and waste costs of producing the penny outweigh any benefits. Since 2006, the rising metals prices have pushed the unit cost of producing the penny and the nickel above their face value. It cost 1.7 cents to produce a penny in the 2014 fiscal year.

What did I just say about using "penny" in place of "cent"? If I hadn't thrown in the towel on the issue, this article from no less a source than The Wall Street Journal would have killed me off for sure, and I'm certain several old-time numismatists are now spinning in their graves. Maybe it will become a nonissue if and when we are no longer issuing "pennies". -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
Treasury Secretary Lew Planned to Put Susan B. Anthony on $10 Bill (



Now that we've discussed the low end of the denomination spectrum, here's a story about the high end. Pablo Hoffman forwarded this New York Times story about the discontinuance of the 500 Euro note. -Editor

Favorite denomination for criminals

A suitcase stuffed full of cash may soon be worth a lot less.

In a move aimed at hampering cash transactions by terrorists, drug dealers and money launderers, the European Central Bank on Wednesday announced an end to the 500-euro bank note, worth roughly $575.

When it comes to moving money nefariously, the €500 note has been especially handy.

It is a large denomination in a widely circulated and easily convertible currency. In the United States, the largest denomination is $100, after the Federal Reserve discontinued the $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000 bills in 1969. Switzerland has a 1,000-franc note, worth about $1,050, but its supply is limited.

The €500 note is also more compact and convenient for evading the gaze of authorities. The equivalent of $1 million, in that high euro note, weighs about five pounds and fits in a small bag, according to a Harvard University study this year.

After the European Central Bank phases out the €500 note by the end of 2018, the next highest denomination will be €200. That same $1 million would weigh roughly two and half times as much.

And using $100 bills is just downright bulky. That would clock in at roughly 22 pounds and require an entire briefcase to carry.

Getting rid of the €500 bill “will make life harder for criminals, raising their costs and increasing their detection risks,” Peter Sands, the lead author of the Harvard study and a former chief executive of the British bank Standard Chartered, wrote in an emailon Wednesday.

The European Central Bank said it would not take the more radical step of declaring that €500 bills are no longer legal tender. Such a move would have meant the notes could no longer be legally used for transactions. People with €500 notes would have had to bring them back to a central bank to be exchanged for smaller denominations.

Mr. Sands said the central bank could take steps to discourage use of the notes still in circulation, for example, by requiring banks to ask questions when customers present €500 bills for deposit.

To critics, the steps taken on Wednesday were seen as an infringement on personal freedoms, as they make it harder for people to opt out of the traditional financial system.

Those opposed to the move argue that criminals are not the only ones to use large bills. There was a surge in demand for €500 bills during the global market panic that came after the collapse of the investment bank Lehman Brothers in September 2008, according to a 2011 study by the European Central Bank. Some people no longer trusted the banking system and preferred to hold cash.

To read the complete article, see:
Europe to Remove 500-Euro Bill, the ‘Bin Laden’ Bank Note Criminals Love (

Here's another article on the topic from The Guardian. -Editor

500 Euro banknotes The European Central Bank has phased out the €500 (£400) note, nicknamed the “Bin Laden” because of its association with money-laundering and terror financing – and because while many people know what it looks like, few have ever seen one.

The ECB announced on Wednesday that the fuchsia-coloured bills, the highest denomination of the eurozone’s seven banknotes, would no longer be printed or distributed from 2018, on the grounds that they are too often used to finance crime.

The move, approved by the bank’s governing council meeting in Frankfurt, comes after months of mounting pressure from France – which has been working to clamp down on terrorist financing in the wake of last year’s attacks in Paris – but equally stiff opposition from Germany.

To read the complete article, see:
€500 'Bin Laden' banknotes to be axed (

To read some earlier E-Sylum articles, see:


It's non-numismatic, but a noteworthy development. Bill Gross has sold a portion of his blockbuster stamp collection for a whopping $4.5 million dollars. -Editor

Bill Gross With Stamp Collection

Billionaire bond manager Bill Gross sold a portion of his stamp collection for $4.5 million and will donate some of proceeds to the foundation he created at his former employer, Pacific Investment Management Co.

The stamp collection was purchased by a private collector. Several other charities will also receive some of the proceeds, including the New York Times Neediest Cases Fund, Kershaw’s Challenge and the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, according to Charles Shreve of Robert A. Siegel International, who brokered the sale.

“The Pimco Foundation appreciates the donation from Sue and Bill Gross,” Sarah Middleton, executive director of the foundation, said in a statement. “These donations serve to improve local and global communities and help empower others to better their lives through our various giving mechanisms, such as our Grants Program, Innovation Fund, and more.”

The sale included a block of six “Double Geneva” stamps from 1843, among the most iconic and famous of any stamps in the world, according to the statement. The block of stamps sold for $121,800 in 1964. Part of Gross’s stamp collection is also exhibited at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington.

Stamp collecting is far from the heights it enjoyed in the 1960s and 70s, when rushing to the post office to buy sheets and plate blocks was all the rage (much like the coin roll craze of the 1960s). Today numismatists fret about the future of the hobby as collectors age and fewer young people seem to be coming on board. The demise of the stamp hobby in the U.S. has been seen as a harbinger of what's to come for numismatics. But $4.5 million dollars isn't chicken feed. Dirt-common plate blocks are probably not in the inventory, but this sale is an indication that rarity and quality will always find interested buyers, even when the thundering herds have departed the scene. -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
Bill Gross Sells Portion of Stamp Collection for $4.5 Million (

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A second series of the Baltimore "BNote" alternative currency has been issued. A launch ceremony took place Saturday April 30. Thanks to Chip Howell for passing this along. -Editor

Baltimore BNote Second Series $1 back

After much hard work and coordination, we are so proud to finally be able to reveal the designs for the Second Series BNotes! Conceived by the designer of the original BN1 and BN5, Richard Winchell, this new set of BNotes includes elements from the Baltimore flag and two prominent Baltimore women on the BN10 and BN20!

The designs were revealed in a press event at Oyin Handmade, 2103 N. Charles Street, yesterday morning, with the BNote team, Richard Winchell, and other Station North business owners in attendance.

We look forward to exchanging them into circulation starting on April 30th, at our launch party event at Gallery 788 – hope to see you there!

Alternative currencies are apparently alive and well. See the article for images of all the new designs - I've just included a couple of them here. -Editor

Baltimore BNote Second Series $20

To read the complete article, see:
The BNote Second Series is Here! (


"Money Art" has been a regular topic in The E-Sylum, and one of the most-discussed money paintings is now up for sale. Will it find a buyer in the numismatic community? A May 4, 2016 Coin World article by Steve Roach discusses the impending sale. Here's an excerpt. -Editor


One of the most coveted trompe l’oeil paintings of money is set to highlight Sotheby’s American Paintings sale in New York City on May 18. The painting measures 26 by 30 inches and is estimated to sell for $80,000 to $120,000.

Victor Dubreuil’s Barrels of Money is signed by the artist and was painted circa 1897. It has a provenance that starts with T. O’Brien, who acquired the picture from the artist in 1897.

Its first offering at auction was in 1989, and it would soon be acquired in 1992 by the Masco Corp. in Taylor, Mich., where it was widely exhibited as part of the corporate collection.

The picture was included in the important 1988 exhibit by New York’s Berry-Hill Galleries Old Money: American Trompe L’Oeil Images of Currency and was illustrated in the catalog twice.

In an accompanying review of the exhibition in the Nov. 25, 1988, New York Times, art historian Bruce Chambers, who organized the exhibition, said that the paintings remain popular because the social concerns of the 19th century are similar to those of today. Nearly three decades later, his words remain true: “You had major shifts in the economy, with major controversies over monetary policy,” Chambers said, adding, “There was the creation of great personal fortunes, and it was a time when not only bankers but farmers were obsessed with the life styles of the rich and famous — Mrs. Astor’s new pearl necklace, Mr. Carnegie’s new yacht.”

A 2011 exhibit titled Taxing Visions: Financial Episodes in Late Nineteenth-Century American Art, at California’s Huntington Library included Dubreuil’s work, but his hyperrealist depictions of money most interest academics when he was engaging in satire. The artist’s more straightforward works, like Barrels of Money, are most popular with collectors.

Dubreuil most often painted the notes he saw — $1, $2 and $5 bills — and his larger-denomination notes are based more on imagination than reality.

Dustin Johnston, director of currency auctions at Heritage, identified more than a dozen individual notes in the picture, including a Series 1886 $1 silver certificate and a Series 1880 $2 United States note in the stack at the lower left.

In the center of the picture is an 1891 $1 Treasury note, while the barrels have various notes including an 1880 $5 United States note, multiple 1891 $1 Treasury notes and 1891 $2 Treasury notes, and fantasy $100 and $1,000 notes.

Dubreuil’s money barrel paintings have several common elements: there are typically multiple barrels filled with stacks of money, and at least one bank note is always folded over the rim in an obvious manner that highlights the portrait of an American patriot on the note. Each barrel painting has a unique variant, such as one that depicts the shadow of an unseen hand reaching for bills stacked on the floor. Another painting features French 1,000-franc notes and a revolver sitting atop a stack.

"Trompe l’oeil" means "Fool the Eye"; paintings of this school are so realistic viewers think they're looking at the real thing. Dubreuil’s realistic depictions drew the attention of the U.S. Secret Service. Be sure to read the complete article online on in your print edition. -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
Detailed (and realistic) painting depicts barrels overflowing with money (

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:


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This week's Featured Web Site is the Mint of Poland.

For 250 years we have been a leading manufacturer of coins and numismatic products. Regardless of this fact, we constantly look for new business opportunities and diversification of our portfolio. Thanks to this strategy we are listed among top three most technologically advanced mints in the world, which allows us to effectively promote the brand of the Mint of Poland even in the most remote corners of the globe. Our coins win major awards in the most prestigious numismatic contests. We are main manufacturer of circulation coins and sole manufacturer of commemorative coins issued by the National Bank of Poland.

We satisfy domestic needs for the production of official and heraldic seals. The Company manufactures commemorative medals and highest quality insignia for local government. Thanks to highest craftsmanship of our minters, our products are perceived as true masterpieces of monetary art.

The Mint of Poland 250 Years

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