The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 15, Number 30, July 15, 2012, Article 14


On Monday I got an email from a numismatic friend from my Pittsburgh days - Dr. Lawrence Korchnak. Larry is a fellow member of the Western Pennsylvania Numismatic Society, and he and his wife were in town for the week to visit with their grandchildren. He wondered if we could get together some evening. I said, "What are you doing tomorrow night?"

Tuesday was the regular dinner meeting of Nummis Nova, my Northern Virginia numismatic social group. As it happened we were meeting just a couple miles from Larry's son's house and he was able to join us. So when I walked into the Best of Thai restaurant in Fairfax, there was Larry already sharing conversation with the group.

Larry was seated next to our host Mike Packard, and I sat across from him. To my right was Roger Burdette. Other attendees were Eric Schena, Jon Radel, Joe Levine, Ron Abler, Tom Kays, Chris Neuzil, and Dave Schenkman.

Larry's specialty is siege coins. He has quite an impressive collection, and is a regular contributor to the Krause Standard Catalog of World Coins. He recently retired after 44 years as an educator, including stints as Superintendent of the Hampton and Baldwin-Whitehall school districts near Pittsburgh. He's looking forward to devoting time to completing the manuscript for a book on world siege coins based on his collection. He sent me a couple images. QUICK QUIZ: who can identify these coins?

Siege coin1 Siege coin2

He also mentioned a siege closer to home. Larry writes:

The siege of Vicksburg produced "The Daily Citizen" on wallpaper when they ran out of newsprint. And, the Union soldiers "reprinted" the final July 4 edition with some editing to indicate that Grant defeated the Confederate Army at Vicksburg.

Larry's manuscript wasn't the only one discussed at the dinner. Roger showed us a draft of a book he's working on about the U.S. pattern and experimental coinage of WWII, and Eric Schena passed around a copy of a manuscript he's working on about the Ingle System scrip tokens. Dave Schenkman passed around a box full of salesman's samples of Ingle System tokens. Eric Schena had a 1-cent cardboard token from Harrisonburg, VA.

Harrisonburg VA Teachers College scrip obv Harrisonburg VA Teachers College scrip rev

Eric writes:

These tokens came from a former employee of what is now James Madison University and were used in the cafeteria. The college started out as a state normal school, then became a state teacher's college in 1924 until 1938 when it was renamed JMU. The tokens were made by Cussons, May & Sheppard in Glen Allen, VA.

I walked out to my car and dragged in a heavy box of items for the kids at the upcoming Annandale Coin show (July 28-29). Jon Radel and I looked thru it so we can get organized for the kids event. I'd picked it up from show organizer Wayne Herndon's wife Karin on my way to the restaurant.

1972 Cod War medal obverse 1972 Cod War medal reverse

Jon showed me a medal picturing a fisherman and a large fish. I had never seen it before and had no idea what it was. Jon kindly send me an image for The E-Sylum. I toyed with the idea of making it a quiz, but figured it was too hard. So here's the answer - the piece commemorates the second Cod War between Britain and Iceland. Now watch 15 E-Sylum readers say, "I knew that all along..."

When I got back to my seat I told Larry and Roger, "I know how I'm going to headline this in The E-Sylum - "Jon's Codpiece!".

Jon writes:

On 1 September 1972, amid concerns about overfishing and the status of the national fishing industry, Iceland unilaterally declared that their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) now extended out to 50 nautical miles, excluding foreign fishing ships.

In 1958, Iceland had made a similar extension from 4 nautical miles to 12 nautical miles, which had resulted in the First Cod War with the UK. That had been settled with a stipulation that any further disputes would be sent to the International Court of Justice. In 1972, Iceland declared that it was not bound by the settlement, which rather predictably led to the Second Cod War with the UK. Some ships were rammed, and lots of British nets were cut.

While I do not know the intent of the issuer of this medal, it does commemorate the action that started the Second Cod War, a somewhat "in your face" statement.

Larry Korchnak offered a link to a short history of the Cod Wars. Thanks!

The First Cod War

The first "war" occurred in 1958, when Britain was unable to prevent Iceland, from extending it's fishing limits, from 4 miles, to 12 miles, off Iceland's coast.

The Second Cod War

The second dispute was in 1972-1973, when Iceland extended its limits to 50 miles. This conflict was concluded with an agreement between the two countries that limited British fishing, to certain areas, would be allowed inside the 50-mile limit. In addition, Britain agreed that British vessels could not catch more than 130,000 tons of fish annually. This agreement was valid for two years and expired on November 13 1975, when the third "Cod War" started.

The Third Cod War

Between November 1975, and June 1976, the cod, a common species of fish, brought two NATO allies to the brink of war. Great Britain and Iceland confronted each other over Iceland proclaiming its authority over the ocean, up to 200 miles from its coastline. The issue was the amount of cod caught by the two countries' fishermen.

During this conflict, British trawlers had their nets cut by Icelandic Coast Guard vessels and there were numerous rammings between Icelandic ships and British trawlers and frigates. The conflict caused Iceland to threaten to close the NATO base at Keflavik, which would have imperiled the NATO ability to defend the Atlantic from Soviet incursions

To read the complete webpage, see: The Cod Wars (

It was another fun and interesting night. Numismatists make great dinner companions. I'm already looking forward to our next meeting.

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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