The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 11, March 14, 2010, Article 20


I didn't get a chance to write about last month's meeting of my Northern Virginia numismatic social group, Nummis Nova, but we had a good time at Café Oggi. Dick Doty of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian was able to attend, and it was great to see him.

The host for our March meeting was Tom Kays. He picked Mango Mike's in Alexandria, a fun Caribbean-themed restaurant with a great bar, tiki torches and huge tropical fish tanks. Our table was right in front of one of the tanks, providing a soothing backdrop for our conversation.

Dick couldn't make it this month, but Dave Schenkman brought a guest - Gene Brandenburg, who owned the Old Town Coin & Jewelry shop in Alexandria. It was nice to meet him, although I was seated at the far end of the table most of the evening. I asked Tom Kays for a report on the topics up at his end. He writes:

Apparently I sat at the deep end of the table, numismatically speaking. Gene Brandenburg, who some of us have known for many years came at Dave's invitation. Passed around were plantains with black bean hummus appetizers along with some advanced show-and-tell coins sporting multiple dates.

Some of the coins were in flips written by Elvira Clain-Stefanelli, including

  • a wonderful triple dated, 1692 Louis XIV Quart d' Ecu aux huit "Ls" of Perpignan where the undercoin design is clearly dated 1650 (still Louis XIV but depicted as a youngster beneath an older portrait - shades of the picture of Dorian Gray),
  • a flip-over double struck Canadian provincial colonial copper of 1812,
  • a beautifully double struck and double dated 1775 contemporary counterfeit English copper half pence of suspected American origins,
  • an ancient silver stater of Corinth (undated) with Pegasus in accord with our March theme of "ancients - anything goes".
  • An interesting 1709 medal by Caspar Gottlieb Lauffer and engraved by Martin Brunner of Nurnberg in white metal, reminiscent of the early Betts medals was passed around that even Joe Levine had not seen before, commemorating the capture of Tournai during the War of Spanish Succession (Forster 754, Elmer 436) with a quote from Vigil in raised lettering around the edge.

Gene talked about surprises heirs find in safe deposit boxes (such as purloined DuPont coins) and other issues arising when trustees demand a coin inventory. We talked about the next Coins4Kids event at the Annandale Show. Even our waitress wanted to talk coins regarding her friend's collection carried out of the old country by white Russians who crossed over from Europe by way of Germany long ago. It was a great night at Mango Mikes, being low priced lobster night to boot.

1812 Decatur medal in silver Back at my end of the table I spoke with Joe Levine, Chris Neuzil and Bill Eckberg. There was some talk about Gene's store, and two medals recently sold in a James D. Julia auction, both examples of the rare 1812 Stephen Decatur medal. Both had come to the auction via different branches of the Decatur family. One sold for $28,750, the other for $19,550.

Bill passed around a photocopy of the Chief Coiner's book from the U.S. Mint archives. He's giving a talk at this summer's American Numismatic Association convention in Boston and wanted our thoughts on a perplexing entry. The book lists the names of two "Coiners". These are the folks who actually operated the coin press. But Bill wondered why there were only two names listed - the technology of the day (1793) required THREE people to operate the press - two to swing the arm, and a third to place blanks and retrieve struck coins. We speculated, but didn't come to a conclusion.

I rarely come to a meeting without coin books. Before our dinners came I passed around my copy of A Griffin in Her Desk, the first book in the "Mrs. Moneta" children's series that I reviewed in last week's E-Sylum. I also passed around my copy of Bob Leonard's Curious Currency. In line with the restaurant's theme, Tom Kays passed around a book on Coinages of Latin America and the Caribbean, gleanings from The Numisamtist published by Quarterman Publications in 1974.

Speaking of "Curious Currency", Jon Radel bought a number of neat items himself, including at least one purchased from dealer Scott Semans - Lanchong Tiger Tongue, a forgery of Lannatai C'ieng Money. Tom Kays passed around three display boxes featuring animals on coins, such as eagles on both ancient and U.S. coins, and an owl on an Athenian coin. Can anyone name ANOTHER coin with an owl on it? I asked Tom for more details, and he writes:

What was in the boxes? I had a case that could be subtitled "echoes of animal iconography" showing eagles, elephants, horses, pigs and lions on ancient coins matched with modern coins that echo the same design and pose.

Some matches in the menagerie included the horse head/neck, looking right with palm tree on a Siculo-Punic, 3rd century BC bronze of Tanit, echoed by the 1787 New Jersey copper, the wet looking, eagle perched left on a Phoenician shekel of Tyre (actually perched on the prow of a boat) echoed by the 1907 U.S. Indian ten dollar gold piece with bald eagle in similar feathery pose, or the Roman elephant with trunk raised, right, on a Denarius of Julius Caesar from 44 B.C., echoed by the Republican elephant on a Landon-Knox "Sunflower" presidential campaign pin of 1936.

As a side topic I met a fellow at the well attended Alexandria Coin Show who asserts he can find no books that were printed in New Amsterdam, (Dutch) New York. The question posed is whether none were printed, or did none survive? Dutch printing press technology was later discouraged from export to the English, circa 1680, but does any E-Sylum reader know of any book published in New Amsterdam?

Tom can always be counted on for some impressive exhibits, and the night was no exception. I really need to remember to bring both a flashlight and magnifier to the meetings.

Since the theme was Ancients, I brought along a cute little item from my library: James Ross Snowden's The Coins of the Bible and Its Money Terms, Philadelphia, 1864, 94pp. U.S. Mint Director Snowden collected and published several short papers he'd written for a "Sabbath-school paper". My copy is actually a second edition from 1866. It's only 6 inches tall and four inches wide. Do any of our readers have a copy of this?

Snowden, The Coins of the Bible Snowden, The Coins of the Bible

Tom Kays handed me a bag containing a generous donation of coins to give away at upcoming Coins4Kids events. When I visited the other end of the table, Gene mentioned he could donate as well. He asked, "How big's your car?" Looks like we found the mother lode of donations.

Before leaving I spoke with Jon Radel and Wayne Herndon, and we made plans for the next kids' event at the Dulles Coin show on April 24th. It was another great evening of numismatic fellowship. I told Gene how I'd modeled the group after The Sphinx Society in Pittsburgh. The group has no officers, no reading of the minutes, no chores - just relaxing conversation about numismatics and any other topic that happens to come up. He enjoyed himself and I think we'll be seeing him at future events. We're already looking forward to next month.


David F. Fanning buys and sells numismatic literature from all times and places. See for more information.

Wayne Homren, Editor

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