The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 41, October 11, 2009, Article 21


The Monday, October 5, 2009 issue of The Washington Post had three non-numismatic articles that may be of interest to E-Sylum readers. The first is about what must be the largest deposit of ruined currency in the history of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. -Editor

The fast-talking and well-dressed Texas customs broker has arrived at the Treasury Department twice in recent years with luggage stuffed with crusty, grimy greenbacks. The money was ruined, he said, and worth about $6.4 million.

Only now, after delicately counting the bills and running down leads, are authorities and attorneys for the broker's clients unraveling the mystery of the Mexican moola. Their answers are not particularly satisfying. But that shouldn't be a surprise. They are talking about buried treasure, after all.

"This would make a great book or a movie," says David B. Smith, a lawyer representing the broker's clients. "It's offbeat. It has characters."

The Mexican cash sheds light on what is normally a little-noticed program at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in downtown Washington. Each year, the bureau handles about 30,000 transactions involving mutilated currency worth $30 million, according to its tersely worded Web site.

To read the complete article, see: Damaged Money, Priceless Stories (

Here's an article about folks who get paid to be historians (what a concept)! The company has authored some bank histories, although I'm not sure which ones. Their offices are near where I live, and I contacted them to offer the use of my numismatic library. -Editor

One of my favorite subjects is business history. And one of my favorite books on that subject is Joseph Frazier Wall's biography of steel industrialist Andrew Carnegie.

I could go on about Carnegie, who wasn't perfect but was a business genius. His philanthropic legacy includes Carnegie Hall, the Carnegie libraries, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and -- believe it or not -- the precursor to the TIAA-CREF retirement fund. Look it up.

When Bruce Weindruch, founder of a D.C. area business called the History Factory, told me it was Prof. Wall who launched him on his career path chronicling the history of business, well, let's just say Bruce and I had a lot to talk about. Weindruch is a business-history junkie who can wax for hours on the financial genius of Andrew Mellon (Alcoa, Gulf Oil) or the organizational skills of Alfred P. Sloan (General Motors).

Weindruch, 55, has done a cool thing. He has taken the subject of business history and found a way to build a successful business around it. The History Factory builds Web sites, makes films, writes books and creates exhibits for clients around the world, be they massive oil producers such as Saudi Aramco or the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington.

He leads a team of 35 historians, archivists, library scientists, writers, curators, designers and businesspeople at the company's home office in Chantilly. And he makes a nice living doing it.

To read the complete article, see: Corporate History Becomes a Business of Its Own (

We love words here at The E-Sylum. Here's a story about someone who gets paid to research words - a "word detective" for the Oxford English Dictionary. -Editor

The elevator opened on the top floor of the Library of Congress's Adams Building. The word dick strolled out, a bulging backpack slung over his shoulder. He walked past the guard, through the reading room, then pushed through a door marked "Authorized Staff Only" and unlocked his office.

Light from an overcast sky slanted in through the slats of the Venetian blinds. A battered desk groaned beneath a mountain of books: "The Journal of Documentary Reproduction," "The Complete Book of Surfing," "Studs Lonigan," an ordnance manual from 1841.

"You're a detective," said Jon Simon of his job, "trying to find the first use."

The first use. That magical moment a word makes its first tentative steps into the English language, chosen by a writer, published in a novel or a newspaper. These things matter when you work for the Oxford English Dictionary, as Jon, the word dick, does.

That's "dick" as in "a detective; a policeman," used, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, as early as 1912 by author A.H. Lewis in his book "Apaches of N.Y.": "Still, those plain-clothes dicks did not despair."

To read the complete article, see: Sleuthing the Source, Syllable by Syllable (


DAVID SKLOW - FINE NUMISMATIC BOOKS Sale #8, Closed Saturday October 3, 2009, prices realized are posted on my web site PH: (719) 302-5686, FAX: (719) 302-4933. EMAIL: USPS: Box 6321, Colorado Springs, CO. 80934. Contact me for your numismatic literature needs! Coming soon highlights from the Q. David Bowers Research Library Sale Part I February 13, 2010.

Wayne Homren, Editor

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