The Numismatic Bibliomania Society Logo



The E-Sylum: Volume 02, Number 5, February 1, 1999, Article 5


Questioner Brad Karoleff wrote to "thank all the people that responded to my inquiry about J.L. Riddell. I had the information Pete Smith wrote in his book on my shelf (and thank Pete for the expanded information). The attached note was the last piece of information that I was looking for in my research. It all goes to show that if you ask the right question in the right forum you will get the right answer!"

Well Brad, we're not done yet. A few more folks chimed in, and I finally found a moment to retrieve a key reference from my own library.

Subscriber John Tidwell writes: "The final piece of information that I can add to Pete's answer is that Riddell served as the postmaster of the city of New Orleans from 1860 - 1863. Prior to that he had also served the city as a member of it's Sanitary Commission during the study of the causes of Yellow Fever."

William T. Gibbs, Coin World News Editor, writes: "It was nice to see the reference to John Leonard Riddell. I hope to write an article about him in an upcoming issue of Coin World. I've not completed my research just yet (a reprint of his "Monograph of the Silver Dollar" is on my desk even as I type this), but hope that article appears by mid-year. I'd appreciate any help anyone can give me." Write to

A final note from your newsletter editor - the single best source of information I've ever found on Riddell is a monograph by Karlem Riess of Tulane University, first published in the Tulane Studies in Geology and Paleontology (Vol 13, Nos 1-2, September 1, 1977). The 110-page study was also produced as an offprint by the Louisiana Heritage Press. The study reveals Riddell as a very colorful character, with achievements in the fields of medicine, botany, chemistry, geology, and physics. While Director of the New Orleans Mint, charges were brought against him by a former mint workman, and Riddell was convicted of assault and battery.

As an avid reader of footnotes, I discovered two tantalizing gems for bibliophiles: one is a reference to a treatise that may never have been published - "Short Historical Account of the United States Branch Mint in New Orleans, Louisiana, and its Operations, Together with the Coining Process".

The other item is a note that Riddell's diaries were used in researching the study, and that they are on deposit at the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library at Tulane University in New Orleans. Wow!

One last note - in the current issue of The Asylum, Mike Hodder discusses the pedigrees of the known original Confederate Half Dollars. One of these four coins was presented to a "Dr. Biddle". Hodder, myself, and Mark Borchart (in his 1994 monograph on "Coinage of the Confederacy") believe this actually refers to none other than our hero Professor John Leonard Riddell.

Wayne Homren, Editor

Google NBS ( Web

Content presented in The E-Sylum is not necessarily researched or independently fact-checked, and views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.

The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature.   For more information please see our web site at There is a membership application available on the web site.  To join, print the application and return it with your check to the address printed on the application.  Visit the Membership page. Those wishing to become new E-Sylum subscribers (or wishing to Unsubscribe) can go to the following web page link.

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



Copyright © 1998 - 2020 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.

NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS Webmaster
Privacy Policy