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This week we open with updates from NBS, a dealer fixed price list, four new books, a periodical, two obituaries, updates from the Newman Numismatic Portal, and more.
Other topics this week include Thomas Jefferson's coin collection, modern commemeratives, numismatic thefts, collecting cents and half cents, copies and replicas, auction previews, numismatics in Black History, CIA medals, and Tenino's wooden money.
To learn more about coins minted by the Knights in Malta, Ars Classica sales, Swedish coins, Gene Hynds, Pietro Giampaoli, Paul S. Szego, the U.S. Branch Mint in Manila, Mardi Gras doubloons, Alexander tetradrachms, world banknotes, playing card money, and Big Freedia, read on. Have a great week, everyone!
Editor, The E-Sylum
Spring is here! Spring is here! Well, at least the Spring issue of The Asylum is on the way from our sponsor, the Numismatic Bibliomania Society. Maria Fanning edits our print journal, and she submitted these society updates from the latest issue. Thanks! Looking forward to it. -Editor
Message from the NBS President Tom Harrison
Welcome to the spring 2021 issue of The Asylum. I was saddened to hear of the passing of our friend Syd Martin who served on the NBS Board since 2009. Syd was a staunch supporter of the NBS and will be missed by the many people he touched throughout the numismatic community.
The NBS Constitution requires a call for nominations for officers and board members during the first quarter of odd numbered years. If you have a desire to serve, please send a brief bio and portrait photo via email to Maria Fanning at email@example.com by May 1st so you can be placed on the ballot to be mailed with the summer issue of The Asylum. You may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about serving on the board.
The most recent NBS Bibliotalk, "Special Collections and Art Books," features Cassie Brand, Curator of Rare Books at Olin Library, Washington University in St. Louis. This is another entertaining and informative discussion reflecting the passion of a true book enthusiast. It and all of the previous podcasts can be accessed at the NBS website at coinbooks.org. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the success of Bibliotalk!
May your numismatic library provide investigation, discovery and, most of all, enjoyment.
Here are some additional highlights from the numismatic library of dealer Richard Margolis, to be offered in March by Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers. -Editor
On March 6, Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers will be offering at auction highlights from the Richard E. Margolis International Numismatic Library. The Margolis Library is comprehensive in its coverage of coins, medals and paper money from all times and places, and includes an impressive number of 19th-centruy auction catalogues, many of them from the libraries of Rollin & Feuardent, Leonard Forrier, and others. The 539-lot sale also features significant periodicals, numismatic art and archival materials.
Some highlights of the sale include:
The deluxe editions of David Fanning's latest book are now available. Here's the announcement. -Editor
Deluxe editions of David F. Fanning's bibliography and analysis of American auction catalogues that feature photographically printed illustrations of ancient coins, Ancient Coins in Early American Auctions, 1869–1939, are now available for purchase.
The deluxe edition features blue quarter morocco with gray Japanese cloth sides; spine with five raised bands, ruled, lettered and decorated in gilt and hand-marbled endpapers.
A beautiful addition to any numismatic library.
Author Ed Fuhrman shared this information about his new book on U.S. Half Cents. Thanks! Looks nice. -Editor
The second book is about Classic Head and Braided Hair Varieties and will be released later in 2021. Book three is on the Liberty Cap Varieties. And finally the fourth book will be about Half Cent Mint Errors.
I've been collecting coins for 47 years and have been specializing in Half Cents for the past 25 years. It's been well over 20 years since a book comparable to this has been released. Many new things have been discovered in the past couple of decades. New die states have been discovered. New finest known examples have come to light. The book contains updated information on die varieties, die states, & rarity ratings. It is designed to be the most user-friendly attribution, grading, and cherry picking guide ever produced for Draped Bust Half Cents.
An article by Ursula Kampmann in CoinsWeekly February 18, 2021 alerted me to a new two-volume book on Swedish coinage self-published by the author Roberto Delzanno. Here's a Google-translated description from the author's website. Looks like a beautiful work, but be sure to read Ursula's review for background. There are many more sample pages available on the author's site. -Editor
SWEDEN COIN BOOK - Coins minted 995-2022
For the first time in numismatic history, the book is published over all Swedish silver and copper coins with valuation prices. The title is printed in color for a total of about 1400 pages (two volumes), invitations, A4 in color, 6 kg numismatic explosive. The books catalog all Swedish coins from the Viking Age, the Middle Ages and up to the present day, coins minted and issued in Sweden's possessions (Germany &l Baltics) and Hessen-Kassel during Fredrik I's time (1730-1751), as well as a selection of royal as well as personal medals. By combining four collection areas in one and the same catalog, the picture of Swedish numismatics becomes clear.
Last week we discussed the fiftieth anniversary of decimalisation in Britain. There's a new book on the topic by Tom Hockenhull, Curator of Medals and Modern Money at the British Museum. Here's an excerpt from an All About Coins article. -Editor
Celebrating the publication of a new book, Making Change: the decimalisation of Britain's currency, here are a selection of little-known facts about how it happened.
Early advocates of decimalisation included Sir Christopher Wren (1632–1723) and the influential economist Sir William Petty (1623–87) who, in 1682, proposed a system to ‘keep all Accompts in a way of Decimal Arithmetick'.
The Chopmark News is the newsletter of the Chopmark Collectors Club. The latest issue (December 2020) has arrived. Editor Colin Gullberg summarized the issue as follows. -Editor
In this issue we meet member Norm Cochrane. Norm is member 116—one of the originals and the second oldest active member.
Tom Kays writes:
"When I was a little boy, I had a collection of coins and various kinds of paper currency, which had come down through the family," he said, pulling out an 1874 25-cent note that belonged to his grandfather, James R Sheppard.
"He walked to Richmond from Glen Allen. He came to Richmond to seek his fortune." Reuhrmund explained the origin of the note called a shin plaster.
Ever since this small piece of rag paper was passed on to him, he has been hooked on Virginia History and Confederate money.
A Richmond native, Reuhrmund's Virginia roots go back to the early 17th century on his mother's side and 1882 on his father's side, all having settled within 50 miles of Richmond.
John and Nancy Wilson and Mark Lighterman submitted this remembrance of Gene Hynds. -Editor
We were informed recently that our good friend Gene Hynds had passed away. Though he has been in an assisted living place near Daytona Beach, FL for many months it was still a shock to all of us. All of us have known Gene for many decades going back to the Florida United Numismatist and American Numismatic Association Conventions along with a few others – like Georgia Numismatic Association and Blue Ridge Conventions that were held in Dalton, Georgia. It was always fun getting together with Gene, Pat and Bill at these events and we will always remember going out to dinner and doing other things with them. In our minds he is irreplaceable and will always have a place in our hearts for his love of family and friends, numismatics and his generosity of time and talents for many numismatic organizations. As another hobby he loved his 1965 Mustang convertible which he took care of with loving hands.
The latest addition to the Newman Numismatic Portal is a collection of research material related to Thomas Jefferson's coin collection. Project Coordinator Len Augsburger provided the following report. -Editor
Thomas Jefferson Coin Collection
E-Sylum readers are likely familiar with the George Washington numismatic collection, which notably contained an 11-piece silver Comitia America medal set (now at the Massachusetts Historical Society), in addition to the massive gold example of the Washington Before Boston medal, today at the Boston Public Library. Thomas Jefferson also collected coins, and in 1994 Beth Deisher of Coin World investigated the situation.
Later, she shared the material with Eric P. Newman, and today this is digitized on Newman Portal. Jefferson made a donation to the American Philosophical Society (APS) of "coins and medals," c. 1806, apparently gathered from travels in Europe. The APS collection was loaned in the 19th century to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and returned much later, with pieces missing. APS ultimately sold its numismatic holdings in 1967. The historic record keeping and museum cataloging was not sufficient to specifically identify the Jefferson pieces, and today these are lost to the winds.
These are selections from the David Lisot Video Library that feature news and personalities from the world of coin collecting. David has been attending coin conventions since 1972 and began videotaping in 1985. The Newman Numismatic Portal now lists all David's videos on their website at:
Here's one with ANA President Steve Ellsworth. -Editor
American Numismatic Association President Ellsworth Confronts COVID Pandemic for Business & Coin Hobby at Houston Money Show 2021.
Col.Steven Ellsworth, Ret., President, American Numismatic Association,
David Lisot, Interviewer, CoinTelevision.com. January 23, 2021.
Steven Ellsworth is committed to numismatics both as a business and a hobby. He supports coin clubs by his membership and setting up at the conventions. He talks about dealing with the COVID Pandemic and the reaction of the collecting public. He shares the latest news about the American Numismatic Association.
An excerpt of the video is available for viewing on the Coin Television YouTube Channel at:
Gary Dunaier writes:
Pete Smith writes:
Pete's list is below, and it's certainly interesting. Agreed, it's hard to rank these by any objective measure. The complete inventories are rarely published, and valuation is difficult. Thanks for compiling this! -Editor
This report does not include the theft of current coins, currency or bullion and does not include looting during time of war. It also does not include robberies where the owner was murdered.
Conder Token Collector's Club Website Updated
Eric Holcomb writes:
The new site looks great - check it out. -Editor
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NEWMAN PORTAL ADDS CONDER TOKEN JOURNALS (https://www.coinbooks.org/v24/esylum_v24n07a10.html)
Other topics this week include the No Tip Coin Wooden Nickel, the U.S. Branch Mint in Manila, Philippines, March of Dimes Facts, and more. -Editor
Dave Hirt submitted these notes on dealer Paul S. Szego. -Editor
In a recent Kolbe & Fanning sale I purchased an auction catalog of NYC dealer Paul S. Szego's sale of 06/19/1937. This was his only auction sale, so I was trying to find some information on him, but, with little luck. Szego's address was 812 Broadway. I checked both The Numismatist and The Numismatic Scrapbook magazines of that year for his ads, but nothing. He may have some connection with Stack's, as the catalog cover looks much like the Stack sale catalogs of that period.
I seem to remember reading that Stack's sold his coins at a later date. However, looking at the Gengerke list of sale consignors, I came up empty again. So perhaps our readers may have some information on this dealer.
Gerry Tebben writes:
Thanks! I've been helping the Newman Numismatic Portal compile a database of numismatic articles in contemporary newspapers, and we added this one. -Editor
SMALL COINAGE OF THE UNITED STATES.
To the Editors of The Dispatch:
Thinking a short item would be of interest to many of your readers, I have undertaken to give a description of the cents and half cents of our American coinage to a limited extent. Although the tables are not exactly perfect, they are as correct as I have been able to obtain from any of the late works on numismatics. I obtain my authority for saying not correct from the works themselves. Although not perfect, they are in all probability so near it that but very few numismaticians will be able to find mistakes that will amount in the aggregate to a very great number.
The COVID-19 cancellations continue - the latest casualty in the June 2021 Baltimore Expo. Here's the press release. -Editor
The show's management plans an expanded "Mega Bourse" for the November Expo, one of the largest numismatic events of the year. It will be held at its regular venue, the Baltimore Convention Center.
Whitman Expo manager Lori Kraft said, "Our hearts go out to the front-line workers who continue to battle the pandemic, and to everyone who has lost a loved one to COVID-19. We're relieved to see progress on many fronts, but the City of Baltimore has indicated that it's not as ready as they'd hoped it would be to realistically plan for a June Expo. We understand and respect the City's decision to cancel large gatherings. Transportation remains a challenge, some hotels and restaurants are closed, and some venues that are open are operating with smaller workforces. These challenges will change as vaccinations move forward. While Baltimore remains as friendly and welcoming as ever, the city needs more time to gear back up and get ready to host large events and welcome thousands of Expo visitors again."
Here's another entry from Dick Johnson's Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Terminology. The topic is Copies and Replicas, all important terms for collectors to know and understand. There are many nuances here. -Editor
Copies and Replicas. Not the original medallic or numismatic item, but a similar specimen. A wide variety of copies and replicas exist, both authorized and surreptitious, for which a large terminology has developed, including those terms listed here. Copy is a broad term that includes all items not the original; replica, likewise broad, includes all similar items to the original. The terms differ in that copy implies a closer resemblance to the original, replica may be more liberal in its exact replication.
Here's another entry from the online draft of John Lupia's book of numismatic biographies. Thanks! This is an excerpt with the full article and bibliography available online. This week's subject is medical medal collector Dr. William Stephen Disbrow. -Editor
He attended Newark public schools.
In 1878, he was a licensed pharmacist in New Jersey.
In 1880, he graduated New York University, College of Pharmacy.
Martin Kaplan passed along this article by Jeff Garrett from his NGC blog. Here's an excerpt. Basically, it's a reminder to support the national organizations that support the great hobby we all share. -Editor
For decades, the hobby of numismatics has provided me with more benefits than anyone could ever hope for, from years of enjoyment to a pretty good living. Since assembling my first Lincoln Cent album in the 1960s, my enthusiasm has never waned. Many of my non-numismatic friends envy that I look forward to going to work every day. I sincerely hope that the hobby remains relevant so that future generations can enjoy the same pleasures numismatics has given me.
The future of numismatics, however, cannot be taken for granted. The hobby has been facing a serious problem of aging demographics. The average member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) is now about 63 years old. Young people in our society today have become very distracted with technology and social media. Getting their attention is difficult, but not an impossible task. The ANA is committed to attracting and retaining young collectors. Considerable sums have been invested in the ANA website (Money.org) and other social media platforms trying to reach younger collectors.
Meanwhile, the New York City based American Numismatic Society is seeking a Deputy Director. Here's an excerpt from the press release. -Editor
General job description
The American Numismatic Society (ANS) is seeking to hire a Deputy Director. The Deputy Director is a senior member of the management team of the American Numismatic Society. S/he directly reports to the Executive Director and attends all meetings of the Board of Trustees as well as meetings of the Executive Committee. S/he represents the Society in the absence of the Executive Director. S/he is responsible for directly supervising the financial, administrative, technology, library, and publication matters of the American Numismatic Society.
Lief Davisson published an article by email February 12, 2021 highlighting an interesting group of Alexander tetradrachms in the upcoming Davisson's Auction 40. With permission. we're republishing it here. I don't collect these, but maybe everyone should. I was unaware of the interesting variety in the series. -Editor
Alexander tetradrachms are familiar to all collectors of ancient coins, but in a series so large that covers such a vast swath of history (and geography) what sets one above another? Artistry, rarity, and historical significance all play into the seven choice pieces we have selected for this auction.
Here's the press release for an upcoming Dix Noonan Webb sale of British, Irish and World Banknotes. Nice material. -Editor
An Irish £10 Banknote from the iconic ploughman series is expected to fetch £22,000-26,000 at Dix Noonan Webb in their live/ online auction of British, Irish and World Banknotes on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 10am on their website www.dnw.co.uk.
The very fine and extremely rare Northern Bank Ltd note dates from May 6, 1929 and is being offered by a private collector. The only known example of a £50 note from the Belfast Banking Company Limited, dating from December 7, 1917 is also offered and is estimated at £8,000-10,000. An even older Irish note on sale is a very attractive £20 printed in blue, from the Provincial Bank of Ireland Ltd, dating from October 20 1904, which is expected to fetch £5,000-6,000.
Here is the announcement for the March 10, 2021 sale by Archives International Auctions. -Editor
ARCHIVES INTERNATIONAL AUCTIONS OFFERS HISTORIC ZANZIBAR, 1916, 10 RUPEES BANKNOTE RARITY ALONG WITH HUNDREDS OF RARE BANKNOTES, BONDS AND SHARES AT ITS MARCH 10TH , 2021 PUBLIC AUCTION IN RIVER EDGE, NEW JERSEY
The auction will be held by Archives International Auctions at their offices in River Edge, N.J.
Cataloguer Bob Leonard recommended these selections from the upcoming Kagin's sale. Some great items here - most are from the Opitz consignment of Odd & Curious money. Thanks! -Editor
Lot 3030: California Gold 1854 Defiant eagle, BG-220
1854 Defiant eagle, BG-220, PCGS AU55. Rarity 7. Defiant eagle left on torse, date below; 25 CENTS in wreath.
With the Arms of California half and the round dollar with G.G. and eagle, this is one of the three most highly coveted Period One coins; extremely rare, there are 10 or fewer known. For Doering, "the king of fractional gold." However, its distinctive design, late appearance, and heavy weight (it contains close to full value of native California gold) have caused its authenticity to be questioned. California gold scholar Mike Locke has expressed doubts because of its late appearance, high weight and purity, and extreme rarity.
Here's a selection of interesting or unusual items I came across in the marketplace this week. Tell us what you think of some of these. -Editor
Didrachm or Nomos (silver). Approx. 240-228 BC Chr.
Vs: Naked youth on horseback riding to the right with his arm raised; between the legs of the Magistrate of Philocles; two monograms in the fields.
Rs: Naked Taras with trident on dolphin riding to the left, holding a rhyton in his right; in the field on the right two Loutrophoroi side by side.
20 mm. 6.61 g.
HN Italy 1057; Vlasto 950 Coll. Excellent.
From the upcoming Solidus sale. Google-translated. -Editor
To read the complete lot description, see:
Lot 27. Kalabrien. Tarent. (https://www.sixbid.com/en/solidus-numismatik/8238/griechische-mnzen/6798610/kalabrien-tarent)
Other topics this week include Rhode Island Counterstamps on the U.S. Large Cent, and a 1900 Boxer Rebellion Medal. -Editor
Here's another one of John Kraljevich's Black History Month articles on Facebook. This one focuses on the Republic of Liberia. -Editor
Liberia declared its independence in 1847, but it traces its history back decades more, to the founding of the American Colonization Society in 1816. As American-born Blacks decided to leave the United States for Africa — often under less than voluntary conditions — they gathered along the Atlantic coast in Liberia, adjacent to Sierra Leone, where former British subjects of African descent had created a similar new nation. Poor relationships with the indigenous Africans who already lived there made the first years of the Liberian experiments especially challenging, a fact not lost on those who sought to move there in the 1870s. The violence and uncertainty they faced in South Carolina made the risks seem worth it.
On April 21, 1878, the ship Azor, owned by the Liberian Exodus Joint Stock Steamship Company, left from Charleston with 206 Americans on board who planned to never return. Twenty-three of them died on the month-long journey. The Azor arrived in Sierra Leone on May 19, resupplied, and pulled into port in Liberia on June 3. Though the promise of Liberian life and the ease of prosperity there was exaggerated to those who emigrated, 173 of the original 183 emigrants were still in Liberia after two years. The families who arrived on the Azor evolved into some of the leading families of Liberia, almost a caste unto themselves, identifying as Americo-Liberians as time went on. They would become African-American Africans.
American Numismatic Society intern Jaharia Knowles authored this ANS Pocket Change blog post about the Negro Commemorative Society medals. Here's an excerpt. -Editor
George A. Beach, a 32-year-old advertising designer based in Pennsylvania founded the Society in collaboration with the Franklin Mint for the purpose of highlighting Black American historical figures. With the ANCS, Beach sought to educate Americans, especially Black Americans, on influential Black figures who were often left out of "traditional," whitewashed narratives of American history. The subjects featured on the medals lived as early as the Revolutionary era, illustrating how ingrained Black people are in the nation's history. In fact, many of those featured were pioneers in their field, such as W. C. Handy, self-proclaimed "Father of the Blues," and George Washington Carver, who made significant contributions to the study of agriculture in the early twentieth century.
I hadn't noticed these in the recent Dix Noonan Webb sale. Dick Hanscom passed along this Daily Mail article about the sale of a set of medals awarded by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. -Editor
CIA officer Jim Fees masterminded the covert acquisition of the MiG-23MS Flogger fighter jet in September 1977 when he was the Cairo station chief.
The Russian fighter jet was loaded onto a US cargo plane in the dead of night and flown to the US after Fees negotiated the deal with President Anwar Sadat's Egyptian government.
Because of the classified nature of his role in the Cold War, his awards could not be publicly acknowledged and so Fees hid them in special picture frames in his home in Hasselt, Belgium. The medals have now been sold in Britain for £22,000.
Hunter Hicks of the Fairfax Coin Club submitted this item about the club's medal. Thanks! -Editor
The Fairfax Coin Club, founded in 2017, has been finding ways to deepen its roots into the numismatic ecosystem, even though they are a relatively recently founded organization. One of their most recent projects was creating an official club medal.
Ellen Feingold is curator of the National Numismatic Collection at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. Kellen Hoard passed along her February 15, 2021 Politico article about past and potential future changes to American currency. Thanks. Here's an excerpt - be sure to read the complete article online. -Editor
Less than a week after taking office, the Biden administration announced it would restart Obama-era plans to redesign the $20 bill, replacing the portrait of President Andrew Jackson with that of abolitionist Harriet Tubman, after more than four years of uncertainty about the note's future. The decision has revived a fervent debate about who belongs on our currency, and whether the change is just another example of so-called cancel culture at its worst.
It's not hard to understand why some Americans might see the redesign as a radical break from tradition. For the past century, U.S. banknotes have featured a static set of Founding Fathers and presidents, government buildings and national memorials. This 20th-century consistency created the illusion that significant design alterations would sever our currency's ties to its past.
Meanwhile, the National Numismatic Collection has reached out to Tenino, WA for an example of their COVID-era wooden money. -Editor
Earlier this month, a curator of the museum reached out to the small town asking to display some of the wooden currency, which was aimed at helping keep the local economy afloat during a global emergency.
"It's still kind of surreal," Mayor Wayne Fournier said Friday, noting that other museums have also been reaching out regarding the unique scrip program. "But nothing to the level of the Smithsonian, you know? The Smithsonian, that's America's museum."
The Smithsonian has already chronicled Tenino's wooden scrip program from nine decades ago. As far as Fournier knows, 2020 was the first time a local government had spearheaded a scrip program. But during the Great Depression, Tenino's chamber of commerce ignited a similar program. So when the pandemic hit, Fournier said, Tenino simply had to "dust that idea off."
While local libraries may not have a decent selection of numismatic literature, they do hold a wealth of research and reading material. A popular app makes those resources easier to access on mobile devices. But is it too much of a good thing for the libraries? -Editor
On the surface, there couldn't be a more wholesome story than the meteoric rise of the Libby app. A user-friendly reading app becomes popular during the pandemic, making books cool again for young readers, multiplying e-book circulation and saving public libraries from sudden obsolescence.
But the Libby story is also a parable for how the best-intentioned people can build a beloved technological tool and accidentally create a financial crisis for those who need the tech most. Public librarians depend on Libby, but they also worry that its newfound popularity could seriously strain their budgets.
Before 2017, e-books were still pretty niche, and checking out library e-books was torture. In 2016, just over a quarter of Americans had read an e-book within the previous year, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Not many people even knew their libraries offered digital books. Overdrive — the digital marketplace for publishers and libraries, and the creator of Libby — was (and still is) clunky, slow and unintuitive. Overdrive hit just under 200 million checkouts in 2016; in 2020, that number more than doubled, surpassing 430 million.
Here are some additional items in the media this week that may be of interest. -Editor
Harriet Tubman Note History
An article by Daniel Baumbach in the February 18, 2021 CoinsWeekly examines the history of the plans to place Harriet Tubman on a U.S. banknote. -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
A Former Slave Instead of a Slave Owner? - News in the Case of the 20 Dollar Banknote (https://coinsweekly.com/a-former-slave-instead-of-a-slave-owner-news-in-the-case-of-the-20-dollar-banknote/)