The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 23, June 10, 2007, Article 16


Last's week's travel schedule didn't leave much time for numismatic 
adventures, although I did walk several blocks at lunch one day to 
visit Knightsbridge Coins, the shop owned by Steven Fenton, the dealer 
who was central to the story of the 1933 Double Eagle which ultimately 
sold for over $7 million. He wasn't in - he was in the U.S. attending 
the Long Beach show. I should have taken that as an omen - more on 
Fenton later.

I scheduled a few numismatic adventures for this week, although a 
visit with Coin World London correspondent John Andrew had to be 
cancelled due to work conflict. My first encounter began Thursday 
afternoon when I took the tube from the office to Paddington Station 
and boarded a crowded rush hour train for a half-hour journey to 
Reading, where I soon met Douglas Saville.

The head of the book department at Spink for 38 years, Doug is now 
on his own, dealing in numismatic literature from his own office 
at Reading and on his web site, Doug 
graciously met me at the station and drove me around town for a 
short tour on the way to his office in a nice modern addition to 
a stately old mansion (now all offices). It's a lovely place with 
a lush garden and a view of the Thames - a fine setting for 
numismatic literature.

The walls of the office were (of course!) lined with tall shelves 
housing Doug's stock of numismatic literature. The bulk of the 
books were from two recent purchases - the libraries of Dr. Maly 
of the continent and John Kent, Keeper of Coins at the British 
Museum. Browsing was a delight, even though stocks of literature 
of my specialty (U.S. numismatics) were understandably slim. A 
few items I noted were: 

* Christian Dekesel's "Biblioteca Numismatica Siliciani", a 
catalogue of Deksel's own library. This copy was of the fourth 
edition, number 13 of 25 printed in 1995. Dekesel cites the 
"Axiom of Informational Relevance as the prime motivation for 

* Jacob Hirsh's 16 November 1908 auction catalogue of the 
"Greichechische Munzen" (Greek Coins) of Eduard Freidrich Weber, 
illustrated with 61 phenomenal plates. 

* Jean N. Svoronos' "Les Monnaies D'Athenes" (the coinage of 
Athens), published serially in Munich between 1923 and 1926. 
One of the heaviest numismatic books I've ever handled, it has 
114 beautiful plates. This copy came from the library of Joel 
L. Malter.

Doug next drove us to a nearby Italian restaurant where we had 
a lovely dinner and conversation about numismatics, numismatic 
literature, and dozens of other topics. It was great to have 
had a chance to meet in person, and I hope to be able to visit 
again. But soon it was time to go and we said our goodbyes 
at the Reading train station. I was weighed down with some 
new purchases:

* Jacob Henry Burn's "A Descriptive Catalogue of the London 
Traders, Tavern, and Coffee-House Tokens Current in the Seventeenth 
Century", published in 1853. A discard from the coin room at 
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, it's a tatty spineless copy, but 
it'll do - I'm hoping to learn some of the paranumismatic history 
of London.

* W. Longman's "Tokens of the Eighteenth Century Connected with 
Booksellers and Bookmakers", published in 1916. It's a very nice 
copy with the seldom-seen dust jacket. 

* Eugene G. Courteau's "The Coins and Tokens of Nova Scotia, 1910.

I had to wait until Saturday for my next numismatic adventure. 
I took the tube into town and walked past Spink to the Holiday 
Inn London Bloomsbury, site of the London Coin Fair run by Howard 
and Frances Simmons. I paid the four quid admission and entered 
the bourse area. 

One of the first tables I encountered was loaded with numismatic 
literature. Behind the table was Phillip Mussell, marketing 
director of Token Publishing, publisher of Coin News and Medal 
News. The company also produces and distributes numismatic books. 
Here I added the following to my numismatic library:

* Edward Fletcher's "Tokens and Tallies Through the Ages" (2003) 
and "Tokens & Tallies 1850-1950" (2004). These are nicely 
illustrated general guides to the series. 

* Daniel Fearon's "The Sovereign - The World's Most Famous Coin", 
published by Bonham's in 2001. Another well-illustrated general 
guide suitable for a novice yank.

* Clara Semple's "A Silver Legend - The Story of the Maria Theresa 
Thaler" (2005). I was familiar with the book from a 2006 E-Sylum 
item. The 165-page dustjacketed hardbound book is quite handsome, 
well illustrated and well researched. It was the last copy on the 
table and Phillip told me it was the last one they had in stock. 
He had been unsuccessful in several attempts to reorder it. 
Another gentleman who came by as I was paying for my purchases 
asked about the book, so I guess I'm lucky to have found it when 
I did.


I walked around the show lugging my purchases and looking for 
literature and any interesting London tokens. At the table of 
Marcus Phillips I found some literature and picked up two little 

* Reg Holmes' "Ely Tokens" about the 16th and 17th century tokens 
issued by merchants in the town of Ely in Cambridgeshire, north 
of London.

* "A Guide to the Department of Coins and Medals in the British 
Museum" (Third edition, 1922). The 94-page pamphlet with eight 
plates is a companion to the then-current exhibit, describing 
case-by-case the items exhibited. 

At the Simmons' table I finally found an affordable token that 
interested me. It's a copper piece about the size of a U.S. half 
cent, minted in the 1820s for Isaac Earlysman Sparrow, an "Ironmonger 
of Bishopsgate, London". The reverse shows a hot air balloon with 
two occupants. Howard Simmons told me that Sparrow sponsored 
some of the earliest balloon flights in England.

An Internet search turned up some more information and a picture 
of the piece. Apparently there are five known varieties, with 
this one having been designed by T. Wyon. 

"Isaac Earlysman Sparrow ... paid the famous balloonist, Charles 
Green, 50.00 to be taken as a passenger on his well publicized 
balloon ascent in Oxford on June 23rd 1823. Despite landing in 
the top of some trees, Sparrow was so impressed that he produced 
advertising medals/tokens for his business depicting his flight." 
Full Story

It was fun to walk around the show, where I also ran into Hadrien 
Rambach, my gracious companion from a couple weeks ago. At the 
table of Knightsbridge Coins I introduced myself to Steven Fenton 
and had a short conversation. When I asked about numismatic literature 
he walked me over to meet someone who turned out to be Marcus Phillips.

I had a good chat with him, then returned to Fenton's table. I asked 
him if he'd be willing to sign the books on the 1933 Double Eagle 
that I'd schlepped to London. He declined. He said he was sorry, 
but that after signing some copies of David Tripp's book he later 
decided to no longer sign any. I was disappointed, but respected 
his wishes. So those of you who have his signature on one of the 
books may have a rarity.

Another disappointment at the show was the lack of any program for 
young numismatists. With the four pound admission (about $8) there 
were very few youngsters in attendance. I'm more used to the throngs 
we see at the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists (PAN) shows, 
where admission is free and our Coins4Kids programs draw hundreds 
of people. Trying to do my part I approached the parents of the 
few kids I saw and offered their kids their pick of the U.S. pocket 
change I'd brought for this purpose. The kids and parents were 
very pleased and it was one of the highlights of my day. A few of 
the kids were related to the owners of Baldwin's. They snagged 
the Washington dollar coins.

After leaving the show I traipsed over to the British Museum. That 
tale will have to wait until next week. It's late here in London, 
and it's time to put this E-Sylum issue and its editor to bed.

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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