The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 15, Number 39, September 16, 2012, Article 18


September 11 was famous in my family long before 2001 - it's my sister Nancy's birthday. So before heading to work I dashed off a quick Happy Birthday email to her office address, knowing that would surely arrive before the birthday card I'd sent to her home via the U.S. Postal Service.

On the drive to work I was delighted to find a numismatic connection in the daily Writer's Almanac on National Public Radio. It was a poem about an elongated coin titled "At the County Fair, 1956" by Charles Darling.

For a nickel, a machine
called An Expression of Faith
would take your dime
and squash it.
All tubes and gears and lights,
the thing would groan, squeak,
fart, smoke, and finally drop
a little silver oval in your hands,
hot as a pistol,
with Jesus's face on one side
and the Lord's Prayer on the other.
I took my medallion
home for Grandma,
but she wouldn't keep it
because it was Catholic
and had "trespasses"
instead of "debts"
and left out the part
about the kingdom
and the power and the glory.
She gave it back
and I went downtown
and set it on the railroad track.
And after the train went by
I had a piece of silver
smooth as glass and that
says something about
power and glory, by God.

To read the complete issue on the web, see:

After work came one of my favorite parts of the month - the dinner meeting of my Northern Virginia numismatic social group, Nummis Nova. I arrived early at the Maggiano's restaurant in the Tyson's Galleria Mall. We'd just been to the mall on Saturday to take our daughter Hannah and a friend to the American Girl doll store.

At the door I met Gene Brandenburg and Dave Schenkman. Dave said he was happy to see me. He'd brought along a small box of rolls of 1960-D Large Date cents together with a pile of sales tax and other tokens, all meant as giveaways to the kids at an upcoming coin show. He was happy to see me because he was tired of carrying the stuff, which did weigh a ton.

The three of us met someone new before heading to our table - Steve Bishop had discovered our group on the web and written to me for information. I invited him as my guest. He brought along a nice group of medals, and later emailed me these images:



Other attendees included Eric Schena, Howard Daniel, Joe Levine, Jon Radel, Julian Leidman, and Roger Burdette.

Dave Schenkman brought along a lifesaving medal from the Merrimack Humane Society of Newburyport, MA and provided these images for The E-Sylum. He writes:

It appears to be made by engraving two silver discs with a reeded edge silver band. It is 42mm.

Merrimack Medal obverse Merrimack Medal reverse

Eric Schena brought a number of items, too. He writes:

Afghanistan dinars In keeping with the theme of the evening, I brought my small collection of medieval debased silver "multiple" dirhams from Afghanistan. There's some discussion as to what denominations these are supposed to be, either oversize dirhams or multiple dirhams, but their big claim to fame is that they are supposedly the first crown-size silver coins.

The majority of these were struck between AH 370 and AH 390 (980-1000 CE) and are between 40 and 45 mm in diameter. In my scan, the top one is Ghaznavid struck in Andaraba in AH 389 (999 CE) and is pretty much in as-struck condition. The middle one is a more typical undated Samanid/Banijurid example from Badakhshan, and the bottom one is also from Badakhshan, but was struck with two reverse dies. My understanding is that the vast majority of these came from one hoard found in the 1960s.

On another topic Eric writes:

Sotheby's 1999 SS Central America sale catalog Based on our last dinner and seeing a sales catalog with some of the S.S. Central America ingots, I remembered to bring my copy of the sale catalog that never was, Sotheby's Treasures from the S. S. Central America, 8-9 Dec 1999. I ordered the catalog because I love reading about pioneer gold and then shortly thereafter, I got a notice saying the sale was cancelled due to a court injunction - I even saved the notice to go with the catalog. It's a fantastic catalog in its own right with a fascinating back story to boot.

Sotheby's 1999 SS Central America sale cancelation

Gene Brandenburg brought along an interesting overstamped piece of German notgeld.

Mozes Levinas note front

Gene writes:

Mozes Levinas note back I pulled the note from an old bundle of these that I have had for quite some time (it was the only one with Mr. Levinas's backstamp). I didn't recognize the language, but Google Translate (God bless Google!) identified it as Lithuanian. Fumbling along, I learned that Mr. Levinas was a merchant in Kaunas - Lithuania's second largest city.

Mesmerized by this man, I eventually came across a wonderful website - - which among other things is a large database of those who lost their lives during the holocaust. It listed Mr. Levinas's marriage (including the rabbi's name who performed the ceremony), and eventual divorce in 1929. Lithuania was the first country where the German SS started murdering Jews and it's doubtful that Mr. Levinas survived beyond 1940-41.

The handwritten script below the backstamp is a puzzle. Joe Levine said that it didn't look "kosher" but Julian Leidman said that it did, and he'll try to have it translated. I'm wondering if anyone else would have a go at translating it. I feel an odd affinity for this man who owned this note, on the tiny chance that there is a descendant of Mr. Levinas out there I would gladly forward this note to them.

Julian Leidman's fellow congregant Rita Rubinstein translated the Yiddish writing as follows:

Dear Josef,
For your return trip to the U. S. I wish you a safe and happy voyage. I am giving you a memento of 20 million German mark that translates into 5 Million dollars in American money. No (as translated) you’ll own a lot of money. Write to me and I’ll send you more medicine and money.
Be healthy and hopeful.
` Moshe
Moses Levinas

Julian adds:

Interesting as Moses knew that the money was essentially worthless. I wonder whether this was tongue-in-cheek. Rita was impressed with the gift until I explained that the money was not what it seemed.

We had ordered our dinner Family Style, and the staff kept bringing out plate after plate of delicious salmon, lasagna and other specialties until we cried Uncle. The desserts were excellent as well. The night was over all too soon. We wished Howard well - it would be the last meeting he'll make for a while, as he'll be spending six months in Vietnam. Good luck Howard - we'll miss you.

As a parting note, today (September 16th) is my wife Dee's birthday. She's turning ... well, nevermind. Happy Birthday!

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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