The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 18, Number 33, August 16, 2015, Article 15


My travel to Chicago was thankfully uneventful. My flight arrived a little early and soon I was on a shuttle to the Rosemont Hilton. It was about 9:30 am, too early to check in, so I checked my bag and walked across the street to the convention center.

I stopped at the ANA booth and picked up my Glenn Smedley ribbon, then sat at a nearby table to assemble my badge. Next I spotted a doorway with a security guard that looked like it led to the bourse, and went inside. It turned out to be the exhibit area.

No problem - I had time and ended up looking at nearly every exhibit. I was most pleased to see FOUR exhibits in the numismatic literature category. I took some photos and we'll have more on these in future issues. Titles included:

  • Publications by Charles Steigerwalt
  • Roman Coins and Their Values
  • Buy the Book Before the Coin
  • Loubat's Vanities

While looking at the exhibits I ran into Fred Schwan, Bryce Doxson, and Paul Hybert. I also spotted ANA Board member Ralph Ross. As much as I loved the literature exhibits, I broke into a smile when I saw one titled, "Collecting Twentieth Century Coins in the 1940s" The cases were filled with coins and their companying envelopes from Tatham Stamp & Coin Company of Springfield, Mass. They were before my time, but I fondly remember receiving coins on approval from Littleton Stamp & Coin in my preteen years. That must be what triggered my reaction. I filled out my Rodger E. Hershey People's Choice Award ballot to vote for the exhibit. I knew Rodger from my Pittsburgh days, and thought he would have been pleased with the exhibit as well.


I found many quality exhibits featuring rare and interesting material. Perhaps I'll write about some in another article. But I felt my trip had already been worth it.

Eventually I found the main bourse floor. As I approached the Whitman booth I spotted none other than Red Book editor Ken Bressett signing a book for a customer. Soon I was talking with both Ken and Whitman's Dennis Tucker. Dennis introduced me to Littleton Public Relations Manager Jill Kimball and Whitman’s senior associate editor Caitlyn Trautwein.

Ken Bressett signing a "Mega Red"

Dennis Tucker and Caitlyn Trautwein
Here's a shot of Dennis and Caitlyn From Dennis' Online Blog

2015-08-12_03_Kimball-Bressett-Homren at Littleton booth
Jill Kimball, Ken Bressett, Wayne Homren

When someone asked what exhibits I'd seen, I told everyone about the "Collecting in the 1940s" exhibit I'd enjoyed so much. And wouldn't you know it - Ken Bressett told us he'd once worked for the Tatham Coin Company attributing ancient coins - he'd typed up descriptions on Tatham envelopes! And Jill told us that Maynard Sundman had modeled the Littleton company after the mail order format of Tatham. Those little envelopes have had impact down to the present day.

Sundman Lecture Luncheon
Next Dennis, Caitlyn, Ken and I wandered upstairs to join the Maynard Sundman Lecture Series Luncheon. Also at our table were Ted Lemba, David Sundman, Jill, David Lisot and Ken. I ended up sitting between Caitlyn and former ANA President Gary Lewis. Here's a shot Dennis took of our table. Not shown are me, Gary Lewis and (of course) Dennis. That's Caitlyn in the foreground bottom right.

The food was quite good for hotel fare. Afterwards David got up and gave a short talk on the history of the lecture series, and thanked all the speakers and organizers. He also mentioned the Tatham Stamp & Coin connection.


To read Dennis' complete articles, see:
2015 ANA World’s Fair of Money: Tuesday, August 11—Greenbacks, Red Books, and Lots of Silver (
2015 ANA World’s Fair of Money: Wednesday, August 12—Barbers and Beards: A Match Made at the ANA (

Back down on the bourse floor I sought out the John Burns Memorial Library. Next door my old Pittsburgh friend Ed Krivoniak was manning the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists table, and I sat down for a chat. Ed's a longtime collector of New Zealand tokens, and he's been adding some high grade pieces to his collection lately, duking it out in auctions with collectors in New Zealand. He's also nearly completed a very impressive birth year set - 1949. Several pieces, particularly gold issues of that year have proved very hard to find.

When Ed asked about my recent collecting purchases, I told him about my Carnegie Hero Medals and Labor Exchange currencies. Coincidentally, later in the week the Wall Street Journal had an article about alternative currencies currently being used in Greece, and a labor exchange scheme was mentioned. See the article later in this E-Sylum issue.

Examples of the new medal for Pope Francis' U.S. visit were for sale at the PAN table. It's a beautiful medal.


Later I spotted someone using the Burns Library to look up some information. I interrupted him for a chat. David Consolo of Cleveland, OH was attributing some Hard Times Tokens using the Rulau book.

David Consolo at the John Burns Memorial Library

Some authors had donated copies of their books earlier in the day. Pat McBride sent this photo of Denis Loring donating an EAC Grading Guide.

Burns Library

The Rittenhouse Table

Joel Orosz and Len Augsburger

Joel Orosz and Len Augsburger were manning their "All Things Rittenhouse" table. The material was interesting, as was the company. Bob Julian was already there when I arrived, and later Paul Hybert stopped by.

Len, Paul Hybert, Bob Julian

Other folks I chatted with included Andrew Harkness, Ken and Tom Hallenbeck, and Phil Carrigan. Andrew showed me the 3rd edition of his book on Agricultural medals. Although I stepped on my foot initially by calling Ken Tom and Tom Ken, I had a great conversation with the Hallenbecks and learned something very interesting - among Ken's collections is a knife owned by the infamous Alfred Packer (you can look it up).

Jeff Starck and Numismatic Mentors
I went back to check into my hotel for a while and returned about 4 o'clock to meet with Jeff Starck of Coin World. He'd read my mention of the need for a "bridge" organization for numismatists who feel they're too old for Young Numismatist programs but would still like to learn from more experienced numismatists. Jeff mentioned a program from the American Philatelic Association.

I had given it some thought and decided that what these youngsters need more than another program is a mentor - someone who will take them under their wing and show them the ropes one-on-one. My first numismatic mentor was Glenn Mooney of Pittsburgh, followed by a host of great gentlemen (and ladies) of the Western Pennsylvania Numismatic Society. Ask any advanced collector or dealer in the hobby today, and I'll bet all of them have a story about a mentor who helped them along - role models to emulate. Readers: for our next E-Sylum issue, please send me stories about your own numismatic mentor.

Soon a group of bibliophiles gathered. There were eight of us: me, Joel Orosz, Len and Debbie Augsburger, David Fanning, George Kolbe, John and Megan Kraljevich. Joel had rented a big white limo, and we all piled in for a long ride to downtown Chicago.

The driver left us out in front of the restaurant. We descended steps to a private basement dining room. The food, wine, and of course the company were grand. There were jokes and stories running the gamut from hobby gossip, show experiences, research projects and great Internet bargains.

Howard Berlin
I'd planned to have a drink with Numismatourist Howard Berlin at the Hyatt. Luckily the trip back from downtown was faster sans rush hour traffic and I got there about 9:45. Having had red wine all evening at dinner, I ordered one more.

We had a good conversation about past and future trips, the show, and mutual friends like Jules Reiver. A resident of Wilmington, DE, Howard lived close to Jules. We exchanged stories of our various visits to the Reiver household to shoot pool and talk numismatics. But after one drink it was time to call it a night.

Thursday was my big day. I was so busy I didn't even take photos. Sorry!

10am: Numismatic Literary Guild Symposium
"The Internet's Impact on Numismatic Journalism"
Moderated by Charles Morgan of

David Lisot, Steve Roach, Ron Guth, Dave Harper and I were lined up to answer questions on the topic from Charles Morgan and the audience. The event was very well attended and filmed by David Lisot. I'll look forward to watching it on Coin Week.

I'm not sure we came up with any definitive answers on the future of numismatic journalism, but we indeed explored the Internet's impact. I illustrated the difference by recalling my visit to Coin World, where Beth Deisher showed me the CW printing press. It was a behemoth - a couple stories high and half a city block long. That's a huge capital investment, and that's not even counting the cost of paper, ink and pressmen to run it (or postage to ship the physical copies to readers).

When I started The E-Sylum, it was just little ol' me and a laptop, and my expenses were essentially zero. That's a monumental change in the economics of the business.

11:30 am: NBS Symposium, Room 22
"The Newman Numismatic Portal".

The main event for the convention for me and many others interested in numismatic research was our presentation on the Newman Numismatic Portal. The event was packed - standing room only. David Lisot also filmed this one, so those who couldn't be there will have a chance to view it online at some point.

Len Augsburger started off with a presentation on the goals and current state of the project. John Feigenbaum went next with a presentation on the software interface. Finally, I got up to discuss the current state and end goals for automation of the acquisition of new data.

Len described the NNP's relationship with Internet Archive, the nonprofit organization handling digitization. There's a press release in the works from Washington University in St Louis (WUSTL), where scanning is already underway for Eric Newman's library and other numismatic books.

Len described Internet Archive as the warehouse, the back end where the hard work is being done to digitize content and create appropriate database entries for each item. The NNP web site will be the storefront, the place where researchers will go to access the digitized content.

But a window into the warehouse is already publicly available at Internet Archive, and I promised to publish the address. Readers are encouraged to return to this page frequently, because new titles are constantly being added by the worker bees at WUSTL. Here's just one peek:

NNP warehouse1

To access the complete NNP "warehouse: at the Internet Archive, see:

1:00: NBS Board Meeting, Room 24
Look for more information on NBS Board actions in future issues of both our print and electronic publications. Two items I'd like to highlight though: there will be no due increase next year, and work will begin to revise the NBS web site. We will be asking for financial assistance to help with the cost. Me, Bruce Perdue, John Nebel and Elizabeth Benge will donate our time, but we need to hire a user experience designer, which could cost $2,000-$2,500. Donors will be given an ad on the site; please contact me if you're interested in helping out.

Why is this important? Google has announced a change in its search result ranking - web sites which are not mobile-friendly will be downgraded in favor of those which are. If we intend to stay relevant in today's tablet and SmartPhone environment, we have to keep up with the changes.

Fred Weinberg
Back down on the bourse floor I met Fred Weinberg at his table, where he enthused about The E-Sylum. I heard from Fred what I heard from many people throughout the convention - it's their best (and often only) numismatic read of the week.

When I told Fred about our programs for Young Numismatists in Virginia, he began offering error coin after error coin from his bargain box. I left with a bag full of great error examples for our future events. These are a great way to teach newcomers about the mechanics of minting coins.

3:00 pm: John Burns Memorial Library Dedication: Booth 1959

Burns Library
Image provided by pat McBride

I was running behind and had to rush over to the club aisle for the dedication of the John Burns Memorial Library. Sam Deep was presiding. It's a good think he brought a portable microphone - some fifty people jammed the aisle and nearby booths. Numismatic literature dealer John Burns had a lot of friends in the hobby. Sam, Pat McBride, myself and others all said a few words.

Sam related how he'd run into Kerry Wetterstrom at the airport, and Kerry had said he wasn't sure John would like the idea of a free library in his name. Sam asked why, and Kerry repeated one of John's favorite phrases when a browser had browsed too long in his numismatic literature sales booth - "This ain't no library!"

Larry Korchnak admitted to his own ruse to get access to John's books without being harangued to make a purchase. When John asked him to get him something from the concession stand, he said, "Why don't you take a break and get it your self - I'll watch your booth for you." John always took his time returning, leaving Larry plenty of time to browse and read.

John's book business was what you might call a "lifestyle business". It enabled him to be right where he always wanted to be, there on the bourse floor of coin conventions, meeting and talking with his numismatic friends. John was at home at the shows, and his library will continue that tradition. Sam deep told me afterwards that several people chipped in to help fund the transportation of the library to other coin shows. Please consider pitching in and making a donation, too - see the PAN web site for more information: www.pancoins.oeg.

4pm: (Money Talks, Room 6) Ed Moy, "Inside the US. Mint"
Former Mint Director Ed Moy gave a great talk about his five-year tenure at the Mint. It was a great view into the busy schedule, hard work, and tough decisions involved. Afterward Ed and I walked over to the Hilton and found seats at a table in the lobby bar. We got caught up on our personal lives and work projects. Ed has begun working on a new series of books with Whitman Publishing, so stay tuned.

I had a relaxing evening Thursday. I walked a couple blocks past the Hilton to a shopping and restaurant area that was already packed to an evening concert. People were bringing in folding chairs. I had a tasty dinner at a Mexican restaurant, then headed back to my room for a little E-Sylum work before bed. After dark I heard the loud booms of fireworks and wished I had stayed at the park to see them. They weren't visible from my room.

Friday morning was like a Saturday for me, where my normal routine is to get up early and work on The E-Sylum a bit before the day starts. I had breakfast when the hotel restaurant opened at 7 and spent the next couple hours on my computer.

It's a good thing I called Len Augsburger to ask him to lunch. I'd printed out last week's pre-diary article to use as my schedule, and I had a typo in the time of the NBS General Meeting - 1:30, not the proper time of 11:30. Sorry if anyone else relied on that. We agreed to have lunch after the meeting and I hustled over to the show earlier than planned.

One of the first folks I ran into was Allan Schein of Salt Lake City. He told me I'd won an award at Thursday night's NLG Bash, and he'd accepted it for me. I made arrangements to meet him at breakfast Friday to pick it up.

Allan won an award too, for his book, Mexican Beauty: Un Peso Caballito. Allan sports a mean mustache. He lamented that people rarely said anymore, "Hey, you look like Tom Selleck". Now they more often say, "Hey, you look like Wilford Brimley". His contribution to the evening's entertainment was his rendition of "The Grades They Are A Changing" to the tune of Dylan's "The Times They Are A Changing".

I'm an NLG member and was sorry to miss the Bash, but with a long dinner event Wednesday and the Banquet Friday, I needed a break to get some work done. People often ask how I manage to get The E-Sylum out each week. Well, I have to work at it, usually in short bursts in between the rest of my life.

John Dannreuther


My next stop was John Dannreuther's table. After chatting about The E-Sylum a bit, he pulled out a photocopied book that made my jaw drop. The cover is hand labeled "Mint Cabinet Accounts". The title (also handwritten) is "Account of Expenditures for the Mint Cabinet from the Special Appropriation for specimens of Ores and Coins to be reserved at the Mint, also of Donations to the collection and Sundry Records". The ledger is the record of acquisitions for the U.S. Mint coin collection, now part of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian.

Long known to exist, the ledger was consulted by Walter Breen and others, but had been lost for twenty some years. John feared it had been stolen. He had asked a succession of Smithsonian staff including the late Dick Doty, but none were able to locate it. Until Ellen Feingold arrived. Ever persistent, he asked her about the ledger shortly after she arrived in the position. After a diligent search through the regular book stacks (everyone had been looking in the rare book section), she came across it wedged between and behind two other books. Eureka! Bless her for relocating this Holy Grail of American numismatic research. Inside are the keys to many a researcher's questions.

Bill Shamhart
My beeline to the Smithsonian table was interrupted by a stop at the Numismatic Americana table of Bill Shamhart. His eclectic and unusual stock of offbeat numismatic items is a perfect match for E-Sylum reader tastes. I couldn't sell him on taking an ad since he does most of his business at shows and with longtime clients rather than over the web. But oh, the stuff he had!

My attention was drawn to a group of molds for casting lead counterfeits of U.S. coins. He also had a large selection of counterfeit Buffalo Nickels and three-cent pieces. I'd never seen counterfeits of either, and here were a dozen of each. Steve Tompkins came by to drool (he'd love to buy one of the mold but hasn't been able to agree with Bill on a price). He showed me a copy of his new book (which looks marvelous) Early United States Half Dollars, Volume I 1794-1807. It illustrates quite a few counterfeits.



Dr. Ellen Feingold
Ellen Feingold Next I visited the Smithsonian table and met Ellen Feingold. Here's her profile photo from the museum site. We talked about the new exhibit and her catalog, which will be published soon. I also signed her up as an E-Sylum subscriber.

11:30 am: NBS General Meeting, Room 5
I was a couple minutes late arriving at the NBS General meeting. President Marc Ricard was in the middle of presenting the 5th George Frederick Kolbe award medal. This wasn't on the agenda and came as a surprise. It was an even biggest surprise when he said it was awarded to me!

This is a huge honor and I'm very grateful. The medal, which comes in a nice wooden box, was designed by Marc and his father and was struck by the Northwest Territorial Mint. These are some cellphone photos with a little glare; it's a wonderful piece. Thank you, NBS!

IMG_20150814_180942869 IMG_20150814_180848380

IMG_20150814_115915951 The main event was a talk by Dr. Donald Kagin about his new book, Profit from Gold and Rare Coins Now. Don opened with a discussion of the finding and marketing on the Saddle Ridge gold coin hoard.

Lastly, the club held its annual fundraising auction, ably run by Dan Friedus and Dan Hamelberg, with Marc Ricard recording results. About $3,000 was raised for the Treasury. Many thanks to all the donors and bidders. I bought one lot of numismatic pamphlets for my ephemera collection.

1:00 pm: Lunch with Joel and Len
After the meeting Dennis Tucker took some photos of my medal. Joel Orosz, Len Augsburger and I went across the street to a steakhouse restaurant for lunch. The haughty waiter was entertaining but the sandwiches were fine and filling - mine was blackened salmon. We spent a lot of time discussing the Newman Numismatic Portal project.

Back over at the convention hall we ran into Dave Bowers in the lobby. Len asked for his permission to digitize and publish his Bowers and Ruddy and Bowers and Merena auction catalogs and publications in the Newman portal. He freely gave it, as he had earlier for my project, which is now being incorporated into the Newman portal. We were ecstatic - Dave's material is a trove of numismatic information which will be quite valuable to future researchers.

3:00 pm: Colonial Coin Collectors Club, Room 44
I toddled upstairs to the Colonial Coin Collectors Club meeting. I had a little trouble locating the room, and so did Dave Menchell. But after moving from the odd-numbered side to the evens, we quickly found the room. The meeting was already in progress with Dan Friedus presiding over a conversation with the small group, which included Ken Bressett, Mark Borchardt, Ron Guth, Bruce Smith and Joe Esposito.

4:00 pm: Bourse floor Ramblings
After the C4 meeting I called my wife to see what was happening on the home front. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a blind man approaching with a guide dog. Before I could hang up and ask if I could help, he was holding Howard Berlin's elbow as Howard guided the pair across the convention center lobby toward their destination. Kudos, Howard!

IMG_20150814_170846410_HDR Back on the bourse floor I resumed my tour of the dealer tables. Having long marveled at the European coin rarities in the Kuenker sale, I stopped by the company’s table and spoke to the dapper Fabian Halbich of Osnabruck, Germany. Many top lots from their upcoming sales were on display along with material for purchase. He said they'd had a great show.


Doug Winter
Doug's a longtime E-Sylum fan and subscriber. We talked about his experience at the show (very good), as well as E-Sylum advertising. Doug will likely become a new regular sponsor in the next few weeks. Thanks!

Tony Terranova
Next I stopped briefly at Tony Terranova's table. As we chatted I finally noticed a man in a suit sitting there. I took a closer look and realized it was Jimmy Hayes, former Congressman from Louisiana and collector extraordinaire. We chatted about his only purchase at the show (a medal with a rare reverse design), and how he'd become an E-Sylum subscriber: he was searching online for information about a medal, and found an old E-Sylum article. This is a great example of what I'd mentioned in the NLG Symposium earlier in the week. All of our back issues are archived online, and constitute a giant "honey pot" that attracts collectors and researchers of the type of interesting items we discuss every week.

ANA Museum Exhibit


Next, I finally had some time to review the ANA's Museum exhibit. This travelling exhibit is marvelously done, perfect for introducing numismatic rarities to the general public. Kudos to curator Doug Mudd. I missed my chance to compliment him in person even though he was right there - he was answering questions from National Numismatic Collection curator Dr. Ellen Feingold.

The Curators: Douglas Mudd and Ellen Feingold


Dave Wnuck
Like Doug and Tony, Dave's my kind of dealer - he has an eye for great numismatic material with interesting history. One item that caught my eye in his case was a beautifully gilt silver 1806 Agricultural Medal, together with its protective shell case. Here's how Dave describes it on his web site.

Gilt medal

IMG_20150814_173147238 1806 Agricultural Medal. Choice Cameo Proof. Silver, Gilt. With Boulton Family Copper Shells. A large, impressive medal that looks and feels like solid gold, but was expertly gilt when made. Includes custom made copper shells that have been silver plated on their interiors.

The obverse reads: Staffordshire Agricultural Society; the engraving under the exergue says: Sir Rt. Lawley Bart. President/Wm Pinge, Esqr. V. President/ Instituted 1800. The reverse reads: To Lord Talbot/For the Best/Short Wool/Two Shear/Ram/1806. Edge: Plain. Diameter = 48 mm (= 1 3/4 inches).

This medal comes with a letter of provenance upon request.

gilt medal on tray

To read the complete item description, see:
1806 Agricultural Medal. (

7pm: ANA Banquet (Hyatt)
I had gone back to my hotel to change into my suit and made it over to the Hyatt early for the ANA Banquet. The rest of the hotel was jammed with Beatle Fest attendees. A makeshift band was playing "Eight Days A Week" in a corner off the main lobby. Not bad, although they got moe off-key as the evening wore on. It was all I could do not to shout "Hey, look - there's Yoko Ono."

While waiting for the doors to open I enjoyed speaking with John and Nancy Wilson, Clifford Mishler, George Cuhaj, Eric Schena, Dave Schenkman and many others. I enjoyed meeting for the first time Civil War Token Society officer Susan Trask. She said, "I feel like I know you really well - I take you to bed with me every Sunday night." That was the funniest line I'd heard all week. Luckily her husband was right there and my wife doesn't read this newsletter (as far as I know, anyway).

The Cult of the Biblio-Tie was a fizzle this year. I ended up being the only one wearing the book-themed tie, although it was a good conversation starter, as always.

I sat at the PAN table, chatting with my old friends from the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists, including Pat McBride, Rich and Fran Jewell, Larry Korchnak, Ed Krivoniak, Tom Uram and Tom Corey. Marylanders Bryce Doxson and Simcha Kuritsky shared the table as well.

A lot of the conversation revolved around families. I told everyone about my middle son Tyler's new remote-control quad-copter with running lights and a working video camera, which he loves to fly around our cul-de-sac late in the evening. I told him that when I was his age, high-tech meant a glow-in-the-dark Frisbee.

The food was actually pretty good for hotel fare. The speeches were generally short and sweet. It was great to see Tom Uram winning People's Choice for his Two Cent Piece exhibit (even without my vote) and David Schenkman accepting his nomination to the Hall of Fame.

Afterward the plan was to go to Pat's hotel for a nightcap. Pat, Ed and I ended up walking across the street in the rain and mud. The smart folks (everyone else) took cabs over. We were the dumb palookas who arrived dripping wet. I still have mud on my dress shoes. But the beverage hit the spot. Luckily I only had to stagger next door to the Hilton afterwards.


7:30am Rittenhouse Society (Hyatt)
Last day. I woke up at 5:30, 6:08 and again at 6:28. I shut off my alarm and got showered and dressed. I walked over to the Hyatt for the Rittenhouse breakfast. But first I stopped to meet Allan Schein, and he gave me the NLG award plaque I'd won on Thursday for the "Best Non-Trade-Press Website: The E-Sylum". Thanks!

The breakfast was a treat, as always. Everyone took a turn introducing themselves and discussing their latest numismatic research project. It was an impressive litany of work, from article and book publishing plans, to the work Len Augsburger and I are doing with the Newman Numismatic Portal.

Soon it was time to go. I went back to the Hilton to grab my luggage and head to the airport. Unfortunately my flight was later cancelled due to air traffic control problems. I ended up going back to the Hilton and taking a flight home Sunday instead. I made it home safe and sound, just in time for Sunday dinner with my family.

It was a great convention. Meeting up with everyone was very enjoyable, and it was heartening to see so much interest in the Newman project. Stay tuned!

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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