The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 16, Number 16, April 21, 2013, Article 20


Last week's diary was cut short because I ran out of time to work on the issue. One thing I didn't get to mention was finally spotting my first 2013-dated coins. I'm sure they've been around and available for a while in other parts of the country. I'd been checking my shiny new coins off and on since February, but it wasn’t until last week that I saw some new 2013 dimes and several 2013 nickels.

At my numismatic social club Nummis Nova David Schenkman displayed a new purchase - an obsolete note from the Potomac and Alleghany Coal & Iron Manufacturing Company. He'd purchased it in a recent auction because of his interest in coal-mining notes and tokens, but it turned out to be special in another way - it's the only obsolete note of that denomination known from the state of Virginia.

Potomac & Alleghany Coal-front

The vertical blotches seen on the front of the note are from the ink of endorsement signatures bleeding through from the back. Here are the signatures. This note really got around!

Potomac & Alleghany Coal-back

This week was different. A decidedly non-numismatic event occurred, the explosion of bombs at the Boston Marathon. I heard the news before leaving work Monday. In this 24/7 media age, the events and subsequent hunt for the perpetrators were seen worldwide, in real time. Our thoughts are with all of the victims and their families. E-Sylum contributor Len Augsburger is a runner, but wasn't in Boston. I'm not aware of any numismatists directly affected by the events.

Sections of the city surrounding the crime scene were closed off, and security was heightened nationally. In the Washington D.C. area some government workers passed SWAT vans and guards with automatic weapons on their way into the office. On Friday evening as police were closing in on the second suspect, I reached out to some E-Sylum regulars from the Boston area.

John W. Adams writes:

Life is normal in the Western suburbs. It is all a very sad story, one that makes little sense based on what we know. The high point was 18,000 hockey fans singing the national anthem that same night. The low point, in retrospect, may be shutting down an entire city, causing needless fear to those therein.

I heard the singing of the anthem on the radio this week and it was indeed very moving. The singer started the song normally, but turned off his mike when he heard the crowd singing along. They finished it for him, perfectly. I didn’t think anyone knew the words anymore…

Anne Bentley of the Massachusetts Historical Society writes:

We've been in lock down all day. I live in Melrose, seven miles north of Boston. Without the T I was stranded, then the MHS was closed when Gov. Patrick and Mayor Menino shut down the city. Those who came to our building a couple years ago know that we are six blocks down from the library, where the initial bombings took place.

We've been on the same emotional ride as everyone else in the city: virtual staff roll call on Patriot's Day (we close due to congestion in city) so wanted to make sure no one was caught up in that. Then trying to get back to living normally on Tuesday, avoiding the crime scene that started two blocks away at Mass. Ave and Boylston.

At work we were relieved to watch the uplifting service at the cathedral and to have that day pass peacefully without incident. Then with the ten o'clock news last night, all hell broke loose. And today has been absolutely surreal. I was living in Athens in 1967 when the coup occurred on April 21 and this has brought back so many memories of the three day house arrest with tanks and armed soldiers in the city streets. Now the suspect appears to be cornered in Watertown and the tension is almost unbearable.

This has been an absolutely surreal day. I have never seen so many members of law enforcement -- all conceivable branches-- concentrated in one area in my lifetime. It was definitely the largest manhunt in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, if not the U.S.

At 9:06pm Anne Bentley reported:

They're reporting he's been captured alive and taken to Mt Auburn hospital. I hope we'll find out why -- the families of the dead and those whose lives have been irrevocably changed deserve to know, why?

Why, indeed. Yet many thanks are owed to the first responders, hospital staffs, emergency and security personnel and the officers who lost their lives in the massive manhunt. Perhaps in time there will be numismatic tributes to their bravery and service.

We numismatists have an appreciation for history, and it's important to note that from an historical perspective, public attacks on innocent people are not something new in the 21st century. While it's easy for adults of all ages today to think terrorism is something new, it's not - the word is. People who committed these heinous acts weren't always called terrorists - they were once called anarchists.

There was the Haymarket bombing in Chicago in 1866, a bombing at the Los Angeles Times in 1910, and a bombing at a parade in San Francisco in 1916. And until Oklahoma City the largest bomb attack in the U.S. took place right in the heart of Wall Street in New York City in 1920, which killed 38 people and injured hundreds. So here's a question for our readers - are there any numismatic items related to these earlier events? Hero or Lifesaving medals? Commemorative medals? Political buttons or tokens?

Here's a link to a picture gallery from coverage of the Boston events.

Boston marathon start

Boston marathon bomb


Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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