Volume 20, Number 04, January 22, 2017
Content presented in The E-Sylum is not necessarily researched or independently fact-checked, and views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
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This week we open with auction results from Kolbe & Fanning, a new sale from Charlie Davis, a book offer from Dick Johnson, and one new book.
Other topics this week include the Newman Numismatic Portal's addition of National Archives documents, the rare "first edition" of The Fantastic 1804 Dollar, the psychology of collecting, publicity generated by new coins from the U.S. Mint, and because of current U.S. events, lots of information about Presidential medals.
To learn more about boodle letters, Franklin Peale correspondence, "The Man With Remarkable Memory", the King of Siam set, the "P" mintmark, sculptor Lee Lawrie, upsidedown Elizabeth II, the scent of money, the Mint's parsimonious paper procedures, 1894-S half dime and the tallest member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, read on. Have a great week, everyone!
David Fanning submitted this report on results of the 2017 Kolbe-Fanning numismatic literature sale. Thanks. -Editor
Kolbe & Fanning Holds 2017 New York Book Auction
Some highlights included (all prices given below are hammer prices):
Lot 391, Raphael Thian’s extraordinary Currency of the Confederate States of America, illustrated with nearly 300 examples of Confederate currency, sold for $35,000. Lot 112, a lovely complete set of the Collection R. Jameson, brought $4250.
Lot 6, a complete set of the classic Naville/Ars Classica sales catalogued by Jacob Hirsch, brought $3750.
Lot 173, a very nice copy of the enormously important Montagu sale of Roman and Byzantine gold coins, brought $3750 on a $1500 estimate.
Lots 112 and 325
Lot 106, a charming copy of the 1525 first edition of the second substantially illustrated numismatic book (Huttich’s Imperatorum Romanorum Libellus) brought $2400 on a $1500 estimate.
Lot 172, a priced copy of the important sale of Roman and Byzantine coins belonging to the Vicomte de Ponton d’Amécourt, with 37 very fine plates, brought $2000, exactly twice its estimate.
Lot 325, one of only eleven copies prepared of an important catalogue of the Vatican collection of Chinese coins, brought strong bidding and sold for $1600 on a $1000 estimate.
Lot 197, a copy of Domenico Sestini’s rare Descriptio Numorum Veterum (1796) sold for $1400 on a $250 estimate.
Lot 25, a rare hardcover edition of the memorial volume prepared in honor of Ernst Justus Haeberlin by Max von Bahrfeldt brought $1200 on a $500 estimate.
The prices realized list can be downloaded from the Kolbe & Fanning website at numislit.com. We thank all those who participated in the sale for making it such a special event. Additional material from the Vecchi and Cederlind libraries will be included in our next sale.
For more information, see the earlier E-Sylum articles:
Charlie Davis has a great sale of numismatic literature coming up next month. Here's the press release. -Editor
We are offering the Michael Sullivan collection of works on counterfeiting and his nearly 300 lots of Chapman and Woodward catalogues in our next mail bid sale which has a closing date of February 18. Notable in the first category is the largest assemblage of "boodle" letters and associated ephemera seen at auction. From the introduction:
The proliferation of confidence men in latter part of 19th century, those offering bulk sales of counterfeit money to local agents, is astounding by today’s standards. Letters, typed or neatly handwritten and then duplicated by offset to give the look and feel of originals, were sent to individuals in rural areas, often struggling and gullible farmers or small merchants, offering the chance of a lifetime to get rich. Most writers admitted that their business was not completely legitimate, but that their "green goods" were virtually indistinguishable from the real items. ...
The collection consists of 11 distinct mailings with letters providing a description of the goods, instructions on how to schedule a meeting, secret codes, and often fake newspaper clippings with articles describing how counterfeiters are rarely convicted. The collection is being offered as a single lot.
Lot 607 (Heath) and Lot 625 (Ormsby)
Included in the consignment are some of the earliest references to counterfeit detectors, those published in newspapers by Jacob Perkins and by Gilbert & Dean. Also offered are a Fine copy of Ormsby on Bank Note Engraving, the rarest Heath (on Greenbacks), the rarest Hodges (on Genuine Bank Notes), and numerous other bank note lists and detectors.
The offering of 19th century catalogues is 95% complete for Woodward with many being the plated or thick paper examples, and a similar percentage for the Chapmans with those of Samuel Hudson being 100% complete.
Lot 42 (AJN) and Lot 32 (Numismatic Bookseller)
Also offered is a complete bound set of the American Journal of Numismatics, a long bound early run of The Numismatist, and a lengthy run of hardbound Kolbe catalogues with a uniquely matching bound run of the Numismatic Bookseller.
The catalogues has been distributed to those on our mailing list and may be viewed on our site Numisbook.com
Tel: (978) 468 2933
This sale will be an opportunity for bibliophiles to pick up some great rarities, wonderful bound sets and professionally preserved ephemera. See another article in this issue for more details on some of the sale highlights. -Editor
For a gallery of lot images, see: http://www.charlesdavisnumismatics.com/gallery.php
Dick Johnson submitted this announcement offering new prices on his incredibly useful set of books. -Editor
PRICE CUT IN HALF!
Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology.
Who’s Who Among American Medallists
Monograms of American Coin & Medal Artists
Special ‘Toolbox’ Collection of all Three
Checks only please.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
THE BOOK BAZARRE
Author Bill Bugert forwarded this press release for his latest book, A Register of Liberty Seated Half Dollar Die Varieties, Volume V. Congratulations! -Editor
With 440 pages and 1,304 photographs in a spiral-bound 8-½ x 11 inch high quality glossy paper format, Volume V describes all known die marriages (172) for Philadelphia Mint Liberty Seated half dollars from 1839 to 1852, inclusive. Included are oversized key diagnostic images, oversized full obverse and reverse images of a late die state example of that die marriage, enhanced die crack diagrams, rarity ratings, important discussion facts, and other related information that will allow you to quickly and easily attribute your half dollars.
This Volume is in the same format as the previous volumes but with some key improvements such as improved images and summary reverse die crack diagrams for key dates. As with previous volumes, Randy Wiley’s special edits and consultations are included and many of his reference collection half dollars are plated.
Copies (autographed upon request) may be obtained for $65 each postpaid to U.S. addresses (via media mail) directly from the author.
Gerry Fortin published this review of Bill Bugert's new volume on his blog January 12, 2017. -Editor
Having prior experience with researching Liberty Seated dimes struck at the Philadelphia mint gives me the insight into the amount of time and effort it has taken to prepare this amazing Volume V within Bill Bugert's research series entitled, A Register of Liberty Seated Half Varieties. In the previous Volumes I through IV, Bill shared an in depth analysis of die varieties for the San Francisco, Carson City and New Orlean struck halves. Now he has moved on to the Philadelphia mint which presents an even greater challenge due to the lack of mintmarks. Separating Philadelphia die varieties requires a keen attention to date punch placement and die cracks to identify and catalog the various dies.
Bugert's latest tome is simply a masterpiece in research and useful presentation format. This 436 page book covers the Philadelphia period from 1839 through 1852. Owners of Bill's prior books will be incredibly pleased with this offering.
The opening section contains concise discussions on Design Types, Logotype Styles, Device Naming Conventions, Date Grid Measurements, Edge Reeding and Counting, Emission Sequence and Rarity Ratings. Then the fun really starts...... Bill utilizes full page date punch position layouts to provide a quick look up guide when attempting to attribution Philadelphia struck examples.
Even more impressive are the Half Dollar Reverse Die Crack Diagrams that make attributing a Philadelphia strike so easy. If there are reverse die cracks on the Seated half dollar being attributed, then Bill's book simplifies the process and time taken for attribution. Image quality continues to improve with those in the Philadelphia Register being crystal clear for further attribution ease.
In summary, if I ever considered taking my own Liberty Seated Dime variety web-book to paper, I would want it to be presented in the same exact format and quality as Bill Bugert's Philadelphia Register. This tome is a must-have for your numismatic library and should sell out quickly. This is why I've ordered extra copies for myself and GFRC customers.
To read the complete article, see:
The latest addition to the Newman Numismatic Portal is a large set of U.S. Mint-related documents from the National Archives. Project Coordinator Len Augsburger provided the following report. -Editor
Newman Portal Incorporates National Archives Material from Robert W. Julian
The U.S. Mint material in the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has been an important resource for those able to dedicate the time and effort required to unlock its secrets. Walter Breen was the first to substantially publish from the Archives, operating under the patronage of Wayte Raymond in the early 1950s. Bob Julian mounted a similar effort beginning in the 1960s, and, in the days predating the ubiquitous photocopier, occasionally captured its content by reading documents into an audio tape recorder. Both of these researchers generally focused on 18th and 19th century material, with Roger W. Burdette making the next major "discovery" in the 20th century holdings and publishing his work in the Renaissance of American Coinage trilogy. Along the way many others made occasional visits, with the litigation surrounding the 1933 double eagles attracting more than a few.
Operating under a grant from the Central States Numismatic Society, Bob Julian has recently directed the scanning of over 39,000 pages of U.S. Mint-related records from the NARA facility in Philadelphia. The material is now available in its entirety on the Newman Portal. This group is especially rich in correspondence of the early Philadelphia Mint (Record Group 104 / U.S. Mint, Entry 1 / General Correspondence) and of the New Orleans Mint (Record Group 104 / U.S. Mint, Entry 11 / Branch Mint Correspondence). Access to these documents has heretofore only been possible by physically visiting the NARA facility and calling for the boxes of interest. The online availability opens this material to a wide pool of researchers.
Although many of the physical barriers have now been removed, the content remains challenging. Scholars still need to put documents in context, and absorb enough of the material to make generalizations about Mint practices and personalities. There is also a need to index thousands of individual documents to make them more "discoverable" for the next generation. Still, numismatics is an accumulative science, and this contribution of Bob Julian and the Central States Numismatic Society is an important step forward for American numismatic research.
Link to National Archives material on the Newman Portal: https://nnp.wustl.edu/Library/Archives?searchLetter=U
Image: Correspondence from Mint Director Robert M. Patterson to Treasury Secretary Levi Woodbury, August 14, 1835, requesting $8,000 of the $200,000 allocated to the New Orleans Mint construction, for "payments on the machinery." From Record Group 104, Entry 11.
Wow - what a great trove of primary source material! Many, many thanks to both Bob Julian and the Newman Portal for making this collection available. It's only a drop in the bucket of relevant material available in the Archives, but it's a prize for serious researchers and casual readers alike. -Editor
Regarding the 1898 U.S. Mint price list discussed last week, Burton Strauss writes:
Thanks for the pointer to the Mint price lists at the NNP. I recommend the 1867 pamphlet to anyone interested in patterns and proofs after 1866. There is a discussion of how the minting of proofs and patterns were to be regularized, with patterns available only in the year marked and proofs for only one year beyond the date.
Read between the lines and proofs were made on the medal press from 1867 - proof coinage is referenced as being part of the separate processes used for medals vs. business strikes.
I believe it may have included out of date information at the time it was distributed. Note that the flyer carries a printed date of 189, with the final numeral to be entered by hand, a not unusual situation for legal or financial documents of the time. However, the text states that proof coins were being struck with a screw press. I believe that practice ended in 1893, when the screw-driven medal press was replaced with a hydraulic press for coining proofs.
The flyer was most likely printed sometime between 1890-93, and a quantity of this document still remained on hand when the illustrated example was sent out in 1898.
Roger Burdette adds:
The text appears to predate introduction of an hydraulic press for striking proofs. That is not unusual. The Mint often used forms internally and for external communication until the supply was exhausted. Records indicate they were parsimonious in using forms, copybooks, flyers and other materials. David Lange's comment is certainly accurate.
I might further add that we do not know on what date the first proofs were made on the new hydraulic press, or if both old and new presses were used simultaneously. As most are aware, new equipment often requires a lengthy break-in period and considerable "learning-curve" for the operators.
Thanks for the insightful comments. Len Augsburger added these to NNP as the description for the document, as an aid for future researchers. -Editor
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
To view the item on the Newman Numismatic Portal, see:
The cover article by librarian David Hill on the 2016 Issue 4 of ANS Magazine from the American Numismatic Society discusses the recent digitization of the society's American auction catalog collection in conjunction with the Newman Numismatic Portal. With permission, here's an excerpt, sans footnotes. That's dealer Henry Chapman below. -Editor
It's astonishing, really, how many of the ANS library's American auction catalogs have now been scanned and made available online. The number, as of this writing, approaches three thousand. And there will be much more to come out of this project funded and administered by the Newman Numismatic Portal (NNP) as we continue to mine what NNP project coordinator Len Augsburger has called "the mother lode of American numismatic literature" at the ANS. Nearly every one of the scanned catalogs have passed through my hands, as it is my job to update the records in the ANS library catalog, DONUM, and give each a proper title to replace the dates that were used as titles in the past. I then compile the metadata and pass it along to John Graffeo, who does the scanning.
When you're handling a few thousand auction catalogs, you begin to notice things. There are the interesting collectors, for example. I'd love to know more about John Guild, "The Man With Remarkable Memory" whose collection was sold by New York Coin and Stamp in 1904, but when it comes to Guild, it seems the world has lost its memory; I couldn't find anything else on him. Not so the "eminent comedian" John T. Raymond. He made quite a name for himself on the American stage as Colonel Mulberry Sellers in Mark Twain's Gilded Age. His lackluster collection included an altered 1803 silver dollar that he had been duped into buying for $300, believing it to be one of the precious 1804s. It sold for $5.60.
For over a century numismatists have wondered why the Chapman brothers went their separate ways in 1906. Maybe they just disagreed over the spelling of the word catalog! After the split, Henry carried on as the two always had, using the traditional catalogue. His brother Samuel went with the sleeker, more modern catalog, a form long advocated by simplified spelling enthusiasts like Noah Webster and Melville Dewey. Either one is acceptable, though in the United States the shorter form would overtake the longer one in popularity sometime in the late twentieth century. Personally, I prefer the simpler catalog. And this is a word that comes up quite a bit in my line of work. Anyone who has ever gone to battle over the finer points of grammar, punctuation, or spelling knows that these are not matters to be trifled with. Opinions can be firm and loyalties deep. Lucky for me, I have a great authority on my side. The Library of Congress uses the simpler form on its website.
Given my experiences with the cataloging at the ANS Library, I was not at all surprised to find that the previous work done on the auction catalogs was excellent. There were only two I discovered so far that had not been cataloged at all and had to be added to DONUM. And I found very few errors.
Coin catalogs were among the first items acquired for the ANS library, according to an accession list kept from 1858 to 1864. The first official catalog of the library, compiled by Richard Hoe Lawrence in 1883, lists about 140 foreign auction catalogs, though, curiously, for U.S. catalogs readers are referred instead to an annotated copy of Emmanuel Joseph Attinelli's Numisgraphics. By 1917, ANS secretary Bauman Belden could proclaim of the American catalogs, "We now have what is in all probability the most nearly complete set ... in existence."
In recent decades, the ANS auction catalogs have been a foundation for several reference works on the topic. John Adams made use of the ANS Library ("the very bastion of comprehensiveness") for his United States Numismatic Literature, the first volume of which appeared in 1982, followed by a second one in 1990. More than just a bibliographic checklist, Adams work is readable and entertaining, with 36 biographical and historical sketches bringing to life a century-and-a-half's worth of numismatic characters, beginning with "our first coin dealer," Edward Cogan.
Attinelli's book, published in 1876, arrived as coin collecting had been thriving in the United States for a couple of decades, going back to when elite collectors had gathered themselves into groups like the ANS in New York City (1858) and similar ones in Philadelphia and Boston. At this time, the majority of coins were bought and sold at auction. Clients would hire an expert—Ebenezer Locke Mason, for example—to catalog a collection, which was then sold through an independent auction house like Thomas Birch & Son of Philadelphia. Coins at first shared space with all kinds of bric-a-brac and scientific specimens, objects to fill the fashionable "cabinets of curiosity" of the day—Indian relics, bird skins, eggs, guns, shells. At first such catalogs were feverishly collected and shared among the early enthusiasts, but they gradually fell out of favor (despite innovations like the photographic coin illustrations that first made their appearance in United States auction catalogs in 1869).
I find it immensely satisfying, especially as I look back on the history of the collection and think about those who saw long-term value where others saw only ephemera, to have a hand in making these catalogs instantaneously available throughout the world. Though inconceivable to the individuals who began assembling the collection over 150 years ago, I have no doubt they would have embraced this as a natural step in a project they initiated so long ago.
For more information on the American Numismatic Society, see:
Here's some more details on selected lots from the upcoming February 18, 2017 Charles Davis sale. -Editor
Lot 37: Early Volumes of the Numismatist ex Norweb Family
[A.N.A.]/GEORGE HEATH: The Numismatist, 1894- 1907, Volumes 7-20, 14 volumes complete, matching full black Morocco, spines a bit discolored on three, 4638 pages, bindings sound except for Volumes 16 and 20 where the front board is detached. Otherwise a Fine contemporary set. (850.00)
From the Norweb library purchased at the 1984 Christie’s sale of the contents of Katewood, the family home. Most volumes bear the diminutive label of the Exline Co, binders, Cleveland, and the final volume is signed by Emery May Norweb’s father "A. F. Holden, Bratenahl, Ohio."
Lot 38: Handsome Run of The Numismatist
[A.N.A.] GEORGE HEATH: The Numismatist, 1894- 1946, Volumes 7-59 complete, all except 1941, which is included unbound, individually bound in half red cloth, black cloth sides, card covers or wrappers bound in place through 1922, contents are crisp and fresh, about as attractive set as possible without spending $4,000 the bindings alone, also included for completeness is the 1963 Olympic Press reprint of Volume I-VI (1888-1893) in full red cloth. (3,500.00)
An immaculate set with all issues being crisp and unchipped prior to this 1980s binding. Curiously Volumes 4 & 5 in the identical binding appeared in the Kolbe & Fanning Sale January 2015 @ $1300. A treasure trove of information and so much more readily accessible when bound.
While the 19th and early 20th centuries provided numerous society, dealer, and private publications, by the end of the World War, all were gone. The American Journal of Numismatics, Mehl’s Monthly, the publications from Tom Elder had ceased to bring news, biased or otherwise, into the collector’s home. The Numismatist filled that gap with a blend of association news and significant works that took front and center stage leaving the nonetheless informative advertising in the back. The early years are quite scarce, especially in fine condition, due to the poor quality of paper used by Heath.
Lot 42: The American Journal of Numismatics Complete in 53 Volumes
AMERICAN NUMISMATIC & ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY/ THE BOSTON NUMISMATIC SOCIETY/ W. T. R. MARVIN/ THE AMERICAN NUMISMATIC SOCIETY: The American Journal of Numismatics, 1866-1924, Volumes 1-53 complete, bound in twenty-six, first 20 in contemporary (i.e. c1910) brown cloth, gilt spines, balance in recent brown cloth, green spine labels, all bindings sound and strong. A fine set. (6,000.00)
Davis 21. No periodical or other body of work is as important to our understanding of American numismatics, especially during the second half of the nineteenth century. The original works by Crosby, his 1869 The United States Cents of 1793 (here with the first printing of the photographic plate), and extracts from The Early Coins of America, initially appeared in the Journal, as did Marvin’s Masonic Medals, Low’s Hard Times Tokens, Edgar Adams’ The Private Gold Coinage of California, and Miller & Ryder’s State Coinage of New England.
Initiated by the A.N.A.S. as a monthly periodical that would incorporate the society’s proceedings, the uncertain future faced by that organization forced control to be passed to the Boston Numismatic Society in 1870. Designed to be an annual rotation with publishing responsibilities shared among the various societies, the Journal remained in Boston for 38 years as a quarterly. In 1893 all rights were acquired by W. T. R. Marvin, who continued to edit and publish the work until 1908 when it was sold back to the A.N.S.
During its Boston years, under the guidance of Colburn, Appleton, and Marvin, the Journal recorded for posterity American numismatic history in the form of society minutes, auction notices and results, book reviews, quips, barbs and bantering, as well as erudite original papers. When control returned to New York, an era had passed, and the Journal was well on its way to becoming a forum for monographs, largely on classical works, only. Concerns by authors, however, that their works would not receive critical attention if they shared covers with papers on other subjects led to its discontinuance, and the institution of the Numismatic Notes and Monographs series.
My AJN set is mostly unbound and only partially complete, but I'm fortunate to have a nicely bound Numismatist set in my library. Condition and binding are ever more important in the digital age. Nicely bound sets remain the cornerstone of a serious bibliophile's library. -Editor
Bob Leonard writes:
John Lupia's Encyclopedic Dictionary article on the Joseph Brothers (The E-Sylum, v20 n02, January 8, 2017) was written without consulting the standard catalog on the subject, Breen-Gillio's California Pioneer Fractional Gold, second edition, 2003. Rulau's errors were corrected over 13 years ago, not by Mr. Lupia, and even he does not have it quite right; the Joseph Brothers' store cards were made in Birmingham, England. Also, his statement that "None of the fractional gold pieces produced by the Joseph Brothers are listed in Edgar Holmes Adams (1868-1940), Adams' Official Premium List of United States Private and Territorial Gold Coins," while correct, is misleading; Adams omitted ALL small California gold pieces from his listing, not just these.
If you follow the link to the article from which this is excerpted, Lupia disputes the attribution of certain pieces to the Joseph Brothers, and "refutes" a statement by Dr. Robert J. Chandler, in-house historian for the Wells Fargo museum and a collector and student of small California gold coins, in a 2013 Holabird-Kagin auction catalog. He writes that Chandler "cited a quotation from a Louisiana newspaper published in June 1852 purporting it identified the half dollar gold coin as minted by the Joseph Brothers. Neither any identification of the diesinker(s) nor coiner(s) was ever made in that Times-Picayune, Tuesday, June 29, 1852, page 1 story."
(1) NO contemporary newspaper article yet discovered identifies any maker of Period One small California gold. (2) I discovered this article myself in the History Room of the New Orleans Public Library while researching the book, having figured out approximately when it appeared. (3) Dr. Chandler is not wrong in associating this fully-described piece with the Joseph Brothers, based on what we know of their issues. (4) The catalog numbers in the Holabird-Kagin catalog refer to Breen-Gillio, and the collection cataloged (by me) is that of co-author Jack Totheroh.
While some details could be updated, I stand behind the account of the Joseph Brothers' business in California Pioneer Fractional Gold, second edition, which is based in part on sources unknown to Lupia--and includes a portrait of Nathan Joseph. And I also affirm the carefully-qualified attributions of certain anonymous halves and quarters to them. Lupia has added a reference to my book in his article, but without mentioning that it contradicts his account.
I thank Bob for submitting these notes as a follow-up. I've been in touch with John Lupia; he has ordered a copy of the Breen-Gillio book, and may make some further updates to his piece on the Josephs.
A key point is that he, like many researchers, prefers working from primary sources. Even the best book on a topic is a secondary source from authors who may have used different primary sources and/or made different conclusions based on their review of those sources. Of course, one shouldn't stop there, and a review of secondary sources can reveal other primary material and alternate timelines and interpretations. -Editor
Bob Leonard continues:
Nothing should be submitted for posting or publication without consulting the standard literature on the subject. This is the very beginning of research; for U.S. coins, for example, start with the Red Book, then look at the bibliography in the back and read everything relevant to the particular subject. Read the bibliographies in those references, and consult the works mentioned, then search for updates in the form of articles and internet postings. Only then are you in a position to place the material you have in proper context.
And even then, you're not finished; submit a draft of your article or book chapter to experts in the field who may know more than you and solicit their comments. This is the method of Q. David Bowers (at least for books), and I have followed it for all my books and articles.
Bob and I are in perfect agreement on these points. Where we differ is on the level of review appropriate for an internet blog like The E-Sylum, or a web site like John Lupia's, which is a living draft of the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Numismatic Biographies he hopes to publish in print someday.
As for The E-Sylum, I've pointed out many times that I'm a one-man operation with no bandwidth for coordinating independent reviews. I have no staff of fact-checkers. This is why we have numismatic book publishers like Whitman and paid subscription periodicals like Coin World. I gladly pay my subscription fees to help cover the cost of their highly capable professional staff.
The E-Sylum, like the research process itself, is a conversation, not the Final Word on any topic. Our readers are our fact-checkers, and you've come through in spades time and time again. Like Bob, please keep your helpful comments coming; we need the knowledge and experience of every single one of us to move closer to the fullest possible knowledge of numismatic truth. We'll look forward to more new biography articles from John Lupia, as well as any related thoughts and comments from readers. -Editor
John Lupia prefers working from primary sources, as do I. Among others, I visited the California Historical Society Museum, and there purchased a copy of a portrait of Nathan Joseph and paid for publication rights. I also studied the small California gold coins of this period--also a primary source--based on the virtually exhaustive Jay Roe Collection and those of all other major collectors. Breen-Gillio, second edition, has copious footnotes referencing all sources used, so if the source is not actually quoted verbatim it is cited for any reader to verify.
David Sklow is mailing me the book. Bob makes it sound like I attributed the store card, but I did not. I only mentioned Melvin and George Fuld who thought there might be links to Moise. But the point I was making was not about who manufactured the store card but the glaring fact that experts thought someone other than the Joseph Brothers designed and coined it. That seems to be a pretty important fact when others are attempting to date fractional gold designed and coined by them at the same period.
His complaint that I refute Dr. Robert J. Chandler associating the 1850 fractional gold described in the New Orleans Picayune of June 29, 1850, as that manufactured by the Joseph Brothers is groundless. Even Nathan Joseph in his own circular dates the pieces to 1852 based on the best of his recollection, and my research confirmed that as the earliest possible date. That is pretty important too, since it is an outside source confirming Nathan Joseph'e claim regarding the dating of the pieces.
I was and still am attempting to correct the view that that the Joseph brothers immediately left Liverpool in 1849 hearing about the gold rush and arriving at San Francisco began manufacturing fractional gold. The reality is not before 1852 and not after the time they left 1865-1867, unless we refer to Nathan's reproductions in 1912-1913. Mr. Leonard objected to the use of the illustration taken from their 1854-1860 letterhead since according to him they did not make fractional gold at that time. Maybe he is right about all these points based on documentation not accessible to me at the time of my writing. Consequently, I am eager to read the second edition of the Breen/Gillio, California Pioneer Fractional Gold and will gladly make any necessary additions or corrections based on the facts presented therein.
I would like to thank Bob Leonard for pointing out the value of that book and look forward to reading it. Thanks again, especially to Wayne who does such great work!
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
E-Sylum reader Kellen Hoard is compiling a census of the "first printing" (or "bound page proofs") of the landmark 1962 book The Fantastic 1804 Dollar by Eric Newman and Ken Bressett. First, some background. -Editor
From a Summer 2001 Asylum article by Ken Bressett:
I began assembling notes and information on the mysterious 1804 dollars around 1957. At the time there was very little reliable material in print and it was difficult to separate fact from fiction. Walter Breen was doing some of his best work back then and was a great help in pointing me in the right direction. He had a talent for organizing and sorting through material to arrive at rational conclusions. At the time I was also "picking the brains" of everyone else who I thought could provide background information.
One of the people I interviewed was B. Max Mehl. He handled a couple of sales and seemed like a good background source. We exchanged a few letters, and later when I met him at a coin show he surprised me by remembering my name and all we had written about. Unfortunately his memory for details of the 1804 dollars was not nearly as accurate. He did confess to using an illustration of the Stickney specimen in his catalog of the Manning (Cohen specimen) collection, which cleared up a bit of confusion for me. Work on the book began in earnest around 1960 when I joined forces with Eric P. Newman who had been doing independent research for years on his own.
We also sought help from a bright young writer, Lynn Glaser, and Walter Breen, both of whom had been studying the subject. Together we shared all available information and tried to formulate conclusions. The actual writing of the book was done by Eric Newman and myself after spending countless hours together and sharing reams of material. We felt sure that in the process we had read every piece of published information, and had located many unpublished letters and pieces of the puzzle. When the manuscript and pictures we had accumulated finally went to the printer we felt sure that we had solved the mystery of this intriguing coin and all of its related history. For me it was the finale to a great adventure and time to relax.
The book's scheduled printing coincided with the ANA convention in August of 1962. I could not foresee anything going wrong at that point, so 1 packed my things and took off for the convention with a clear mind. It was a great show, as I recall, with Newman and I rejoicing over having finished the book on schedule. During the show I even took in a talk that had been prepared by David Spink and James Risk, "New facts about an old American coin."
During that talk it was announced that a new specimen of the "original" 1804 dollar had just been discovered! Not only that, but this particular specimen was in its original presentation case and could be traced back to the King of Siam. It was the missing link that we had been seeking for years. The Holy Grail, so to speak, of numismatics. It was absolute proof of our theory about when and why the coins were made in 1834.
I remember running out of the lecture hall directly to a pay telephone to call the publisher and actually yell - "Stop the press!" The final chapter to the book had yet to be written, and there was much new information to be added to the story. The publisher was understanding and did grant us another month or so to finish the project that was done in record time. The first 8,000 of the books were shipped on October 1, 1962.
When the dust had settled, a press foreman asked me what I wanted to do with the sheets that had been printed prior to stopping the press run. I arranged to have a few copies of the unpublished book bound for archives and friends. As I recall, there were about 20 to 24 copies made, and the rest of the sheets were destroyed. Most of the books were later distributed as intended.
Diagnostics for telling the versions apart are described later on in Ken's article and in more detail in my subsequent article in the same Summer 2001 Asylum issue.
In an E-Sylum post back in June 2003 Peter Gaspar wrote:
Cognoscenti still examine copies of the book hoping to find a first version. I did a census of surviving examples of the first version last year, but regrettably have been too swamped to properly collate and publish the data. That book is rare, one of the rarest American numismatic books of the 20th century, but of course it commands only a modest price on the occasions on which a first version copy comes up for sale.
Which brings us to the present. Recently E-Sylum reader Kellen Hoard independently began a census of the known copies, reaching out to me, Joel Orosz and Len Augsburger as a start. Kellen and Joel compiled an initial list and contacted Ken Bressett, who writes:
According to my records and recollection fewer than 50 of the Bound Page Proofs must have been cased-in (bound with covers) for distribution to contributors, friends, and owners of the dollars. I have no record of the people who received them --- just the usual suspects of that time. I think the 36-40 mentioned by Joel is fairly accurate or a tad on the low side. Over the years I may have given away or sold a couple of them.
They were not all distributed at the time. I am pretty sure that Eric was given either six or 12 copies for his use, and I saved a few thinking others would someday want one. Several were used in the editing process of correcting the text based on new information. Remember, there were no computers back then and everything was edited by hand on the printed pages. After the initial surge I packed the leftovers away along with some special copies that were inscribed to me by Eric, and various production stage items.
Aside from those ‘specialty items’, I also have the following five bound copies:
2 autographed by EPN and me
I own one of them, having acquired it in a numismatic literature sale prior to 2001. This week I reached out to several of today's Usual Suspects to confirm their holdings. Here are the positive replies.
Dan Hamelberg writes:
I have two copies of The Fantastic 1804 Dollar book as "first printing/bound page proofs." One copy was obtained from the 6-86 Kolbe sale, lot 475. The lot description includes "one of sixteen copies." It is signed by both authors to Mike Powills. The inscription by Ken Bressett goes "This is a set of bound page proofs made just prior to correction before publication of the book. They were intended only as checking copies and reflect the situation before the discovery of the Siam specimen." The inscription from Eric Newman is "To my friend Mike Powills from his fellow coin enthusiast."
My other bound page proof copy has an inscription signed by both authors and it says "August, 1962. Bound page proofs ready for correction, and correct them we did!"
The corrected version contains information on the Siam Specimen on page 127.
P. Scott Rubin writes:
Yes, I have one and it is signed by both authors.
Dick Johnson writes:
My copy is unique in that mine was autographed by three numismatists ON THE FIRST DAY IT WAS ISSUED (or available).
A shipment of 16 books was sent to Ken Bressett at the ANA convention in Detroit. He received these on August 17, 1962. He gave me a copy and I mentioned I was flying home to Kansas City with an hour between planes in St. Louis. If Eric could meet me at the airport I would deliver his copy to him. He did and I had him sign my copy right under Ken’s inscription. I signed mine when I got home to KC. Three signatures in three cities all on the same day!
But that’s not the end of the story. On May 29, 2011 I had Eric add a second comment and signature on the facing sheet inside the cover.
If Kellen is preparing an article to be published and wishes to have an image of these two pages of inscriptions, I would be glad to send a photocopy to him.
Joel Orosz adds:
Ken received a box of 16 "first edition" books at the ANA convention in Detroit to distribute there. Another 24 or so were bound in Racine, for a total of about 40 copies of the "first edition" initially extant.
So here's Kellen's list to date:
Please send me any additions, corrections or updates and I'll forward them to Kellen. I checked with Dave Hirt and John W. Adams, but they don't have one. Charlie Davis doesn't have one either, but noted that there were a couple in his earlier sales. If anyone can locate offerings of these in numismatic literature sales, it would help eliminate duplicates and clarify pedigree chains.
So, who were owners of genuine 1804 dollars in 1962? As Ken noted, some of them were recipients of these books at the time. Perhaps some of the copies appearing later in the marketplace can be traced back to them. Great topic, everyone.
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
Dick Johnson submitted this entry from his Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Terminology. Thanks. -Editor
This medal, struck in a coining press, did not feed properly into coining position. It is a typical off center strike exhibiting part design, and part the original blank. Most items struck off center are struck in a coining press. Off center items stuck in a medal press would be extremely rare because it is examined at each manual placing into position for each strike.
Off Center. A striking error in which a blank does not fully enter into coining position and is struck only partially on its surface. In general off center coins are struck outside the collar, usually distorting the precise circle of the blank, with proper congruent obverse and reverse designs but leaving unstruck a crescent shaped area on the blank.
Off center coins are an anomaly of the feeding mechanism. It is the responsibility of this mechanism to pick up a single blank from the feeder tube and deliver this to a position above the collar, where the blank falls by gravity into coining position within the collar. When, for any reason, this does not happen the dies will create these partial strikes.
The collar normally forms the edge of the coined piece – either squared plain edge or reeded from the collar – since the blank is struck outside the collar all off center coins will have unshaped edges. The edges will appear either as they came from upsetting (that portion outside the collar), or as rounded flash from the blow outside the collar.
Often, off center struck pieces are not ejected. They may receive a second or subsequent blow. Also they may adhere to the die and form capping or cupping.
Off center strikes are totally random. They have occurred since striking has been mechanized, being an unfortunate but typical anomaly of presswork. These objects are rejects of coin production and are customarily discarded and melted. Very few early specimens have survived.
Many kinds of modern off center coins exist. These include:
(1) Off center strike. The blank was not fed properly and did not fully reach coining position inside the collar. Instead it comes to rest partly on top of the collar, receives the blow of both dies on the part of the blank extending over into the collar.
The portion not coming between the dies, obviously does not receive an impression and remains blank.
The degree off center can range from a very small amount to only the slightest amount struck by the dies. Collectors express this by a percentage of degree, 95% off center would exhibit only the slightest amount of design showing.
The position of an off center strike is indicated by the position of a clock face. Off center coins which still retain the date of the piece – as in the 12 o’clock position –have more allure to error collectors. Some collectors form "clock" exhibits of off center strike coins by the 12 clock positions and range from a few degrees off to 95% off.
(2) Double and multiple strike. Usually an anomaly of ejection, a coined piece struck a second time off center will be an off center multiple strike. Such an example would show parts of two impressions of die striking. Or a double strike can be a feeding error where the blank was only partially in position for a first blow, and yet struck again for a second blow – or rarely – for a third or subsequent blow.
(3) Saddle strike. These occur only when two or more dies (as quads with four dies) are locked side-by-side into position and the press forms as many coins with one blow as the number of dies in position. Two (or four) blanks are fed into coining position for each cycle of the press.
When a blank is not fed into coining position between a pair of dies, but instead it comes between two dies – straddling across both and obviously not in either collar – each die will strike a portion of the planchet leaving the unstruck blank portion in the center. This center portion is usually buckled from the outward thrust of the blow, hence the term saddle (as if it were a tiny saddle).
There are several sub-varieties of saddle strikes, with and without previous struck pieces in one or both coining positions, for example. Others exist.
(4) Chain strike. Essentially a chain strike occurs when two blanks are fed into coining position at one time. The interface edge surfaces of the two pieces form in an unusual manner. They will flatten against each other and somewhat form a straight edge. These edges can be mated or matched with each other because of the design and their congruity. However, obtaining the two matching pieces is extremely rare. The two mated pieces form a dramatic exhibit.
John Lupia submitted the following information from his Encyclopedic Dictionary of Numismatic Biographies for this week's installment of his series. Thanks. As always, this is an excerpt with the full article and bibliography available online. This week's subject is dealer Ernest Henry Neville of San Francisco. -Editor
Ernest Henry Neville (1830-1911), was born in England in 1830. He appears to have arrived in San Francisco, California, no later than 1867 working as a clerk for steamships at the wharf. The San Francisco City Directory of 1868 lists him as a clerk working for the Steamship Montana. The San Francisco City Directory of 1867 and 1869 lists him as a freight clerk at Pacific Mail Steamship Co.'s wharf, San Francisco, California.
He had married Annie Murray (1839-1870), who died at San Francisco at the age 41 on April 10, 1870. They had no known issue. He never remarried.
According to the San Francisco City Directory of 1877, he became partners with George R. Sanderson forming the firm of Neville & Sanderson, an Exchange Brokerage at 140 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, California. The partnership was dissolved in 1878 since we find him listed as a money broker at 138 Montgomery, and residing at 776 Howard Street. The San Francisco City Directory of 1880 lists him as a stock and money broker at 116 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, California, residing at 776 Howard Street. He most probably knew his fellow Englishman and neighbor also working in the gold coin trade, Nathan Joseph.
Neville corresponded with the Chapman Brothers from 1896 until 1910. Before he died he seems to have sold his stock of coins since no mention of any collection is made in his last will and testament except the cash deposited in the bank.
On or about December 20, 1901, a well dressed man of about 35 years of age entered his brokerage and at gunpoint attempted to rob him of the $600 in face value of gold coins in his money tray. Neville refused to surrender the gold and told him to shoot, but that he would not get any of the gold. The would-be thief began to sob and left. Later that day he received a letter from the assailant with the words, "I have at last met the rarest of creatures, a brave man. I salute you." With the letter published in the newspaper Neville commented that if the young man were to return to his office, "I'll try to help him."
Farran Zerbe visited San Francisco and the brokerage house of Neville in April 1905 writing "Among the local dealers I found E. Neville and Sutro & Co., in possession of some good coins." In the August issue of The Numismatist, page 263, Zerbe reported on the coin dealers who suffered severe losses from the San Francisco earthquake and fires and E. H. Neville was amongst those who suffered the worse.
At the time of his demise Neville lived at 2705 Pine Street, San Francisco, California. He died on January 26, 1911. He bequeath all of his estate in the cash amount of $1,522, to the Crocker Old People's Home, 2507 Pine Street, San Francisco.
Figure: Neville's old gold coins : a ducat of Philip II of Macedon, a Rose Noble of Edward III of England, coins of Ferdinand & Isabella, Vladimir of Poland, a double ducat of Philip of Spain and England, James I of England, and a Dionysian coin are all highlighted in an article about rare coins in local collections. San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, November 7, 1886, page 3
To read the complete article, see:
Price Guide Analyst Jim Bisognani profiled Pastor Paul Bulgerin in his January 19, 2017 blog article on the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) site. -Editor
I found out that the man behind the eBay handle samhan_53024 is Paul Bulgerin a Pastor from Grafton, WI. After several years of buying from him I recently had a chance to talk to him about the hobby. Paul's dad was his primary numismatic motivation, "My father was a coin collector; he was a pastor too." According to Bulgerin his dad didn’t have much extra cash raising eight kids, but he did manage to pull some interesting coins from circulation. "If someone put silver coins in the coffee money pot, he would buy it out. I remember as a kid he used to get Numismatic News."
Paul fondly relayed his first visit to a coin shop with his dad. "My first trip to a coin store was back in 1970. We lived in Minneapolis. I was 13 and he took me one winter’s day to a little local coin shop. I bought my first coin that day; it was an 1878-S Morgan Dollar."
Yes, the pastor still has that 1878-S Morgan and told me that it will never be sold. He has it in his Will to be passed on to his eldest daughter! Interestingly, I still have the first coin that I bought at a coin show. While not a Morgan silver dollar, it is about the same size. A 1963 South African 50 Cent silver coin that I bought in 1970 when I too, was 13 years old!
My Wisconsin friend acquired a few coins through high school but had to put the hobby on hold while he attended college and seminary as he didn’t have any extra funds for numismatics. However when Paul became a pastor in 1984, "Hey I am earning some money; I can buy some coins so I started getting involved with the hobby and have ever since."
My colleague describes himself as a type coin collector. Through the rest of the 1980s he spent time developing relationships with dealers and acquired varied US and world coins for his collection. The following decade’s numismatic experience included Ancient Roman coins. "I was an ancient history major in college and I branched out to Roman coins in the late 1990s and have been an avid collector since."
Paul’s passion for Roman coins and ancient history would influence his next great adventure. "In 2010 I had a sabbatical and I always wanted to do an archaeological dig. I subscribed to Biblical Archaeological Review and they had a story in 2004 about the Roman Fort of Vindolanda in northern England. I read the story and I said that sounds so neat and they take volunteer excavators! So when my sabbatical started approaching in 2010 I applied to be a volunteer at Vindolanda for two weeks and was accepted."
While some financial assistance came from his church about 70% of the finances for this historical junket were funded by the pastor’s coin collection! That is how and why he got on eBay in the first place, to list and sell coins to pay for the trip!
"So in July 2010 I took my family on sabbatical leave. It was wonderful. I actually found four Roman coins while I was digging! To be at that ancient fort and dig those coins out with my own hands was such a thrill."
Great collecting story. I've never gotten my hands dirty at a dig, but it's an attractive bucket-list item. Finding coins hidden for thousands of years must certainly be a great thrill. -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
So why do we collect coins, anyway? David Schwager wrote a nice piece for CoinWeek on the psychology of collecting, a topic we've touched on before. -Editor
I love coins. Why?
Collecting is a complex topic, and psychologists do not agree on why many people strongly desire to acquire and own objects. At least eight possible explanations exist and more than one applies to every collector. These are not authoritative pronouncements, but they are useful models for understanding ourselves as collectors. You will like some of the reasons given below, dislike others, and see yourself in at least one.
Be sure to read the article online for his takes on reasons running the gamut from Hunting and Gathering, Consumerism, through Return to Childhood. -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
THE BOOK BAZARRE
John Frost writes:
The Liberty Seated Collectors Club has confirmed a new and dangerous counterfeit 1872-S Seated half dollar, two of which had been certified by major grading services. We issued a "Be on the Lookout" supplement to the monthly E-Gobrecht publication, with the announcement and the key pick-up points for this counterfeit.
We brought an example (the discovery piece) to the recent FUN show and showed it to the 4 major grading services, auction houses, and many dealers on the bourse floor.
The write-up by myself, Bill Bugert, and Dick Osburn, can be found at the LSCC website
Thanks. Here are the details - be careful out there! This is a "really good" fake. -Editor
Counterfeit 1872-S Liberty Seated Half
At the recently concluded Houston Money Show, we confirmed the existence of a new and extremely deceptive 1872-S Seated half dollar. Although we will describe the discovery and the subsequent investigation in the March 2017 issue of the Gobrecht Journal, we did not want to wait until then to publicize this new counterfeit. There are now five of these known and more will surely appear in the meantime.
They are good enough that two of them have already fooled the major grading services. Four of the counterfeits sold on Ebay in August 2015, October 2015, March 2016, and August 2016. The fifth appeared at auction this past summer, and may have been the second or third example from Ebay (but that isn’t known).
Although there are numerous die markers that we used in the investigation, the key pick-up points to detect this counterfeit are the following (and seen in the photos below).
Note: both of these pick-up points are perfectly legitimate on some 1875-S coins, but not on 1872-S.
The counterfeit will be presented as part of the LSCC meeting at FUN next week (Friday at 9:00 a.m.), and it will be available for examination at both the meeting as well as the LSCC-BCCS club table (#740) on the bourse floor.
Be on the lookout for this new counterfeit! If any of you see additional examples, the LSCC would be interested in hearing about them. If you can provide the timeframe in which you see them, and the source (e.g., Ebay, auction, local dealer, show, etc.), that would be very helpful. Please notify us at the LSCC email address, email@example.com. Thank you!
And look for the full details in the March Gobrecht Journal.
To read the complete article, see:
The big news in the U.S. numismatic world this week was the Mint's sly introduction of a mintmarked Philadelphia cent. Diana Plattner of the Mint News Blog summed it up well on January 18, 2017. With permission, here's her complete article. -Editor
What you’ve heard is true. Quietly, and all unannounced, the Mint has slipped pennies with the Philadelphia Mint’s "P" mintmark into circulation.
Now, if you’re up to date with your U.S. penny history, you can skip to the next paragraph. If not, try this: Pick up a copy of the Red Book—doesn’t matter what edition—and flip to the beginning of the section on small cents. First page: Flying Eagles. Skim down the left column: 1856, 1857, 1858. See any coins with the P mintmark? No? Flip to the Indian Head cents: 1859, 1860, 1861—nope, still no letter P. Turn every page to the end of the denomination, and you won’t find a single penny with a P mintmark. Flip back to the large cents; you won’t find any there, either.
In other words, the only P-mintmarked cents in the U.S. Mint’s 225-year history have emerged in total secrecy. Released to banks in early January, the coins went unnoticed until a collector named Terry Granstaff found one in change on January 13 and posted it to a PCGS discussion board. Coin World was able to confirm the authenticity of the 2017-P coin soon afterward and brought the story to light.
The stated reasons for mintmarking the 2017 cents were that (1) the move is one of several planned events during the Mint’s 225th-anniversary celebrations, and that (2) it calls attention to the pride and hard work of the staff at the Philadelphia Mint. Perfectly legitimate reasons. As to why they kept it secret, Tom Jurkowsky, director of the Mint’s Office of Corporate Communication, told Coin World that the Mint wanted to see how long it would take the public to notice and bring the coins to the Mint’s attention. Again, that seems reasonable—and what better (and cheaper) way to stir up excitement about the anniversary program as a whole?
But when you compare the cent and the American Liberty gold coin, the extreme contrast between the two suggests there’s more to this than a bit of quasquibicentennial hijinks.
Consider the context. The Mint has been criticized for years for being, or at least appearing to be, out of touch with everyday collectors. Moreover, there’s a growing feeling in numismatics that the tail has begun to wag the dog. At the birth of the hobby, people studied and collected coins that were struck by the Mint in the course of its everyday business; today, collectors spend a lot of time and money pursuing Mint products that exist only for the purpose of being collected. Not that a healthy retail market for specially created coins is a bad thing—or that the Mint is to blame for changes in the culture or the economy. But (1) the situation exists, (2) collectors don’t like it, and (3) when collectors perceive that the Mint is glad to take their money but deaf to their concerns, it makes them angry.
The 2017 American Liberty high-relief gold coin is exactly the kind of high-ticket offering that elicits both cheers and groans from collectors. A penny from your pocket change, on the other hand, is literally the single cheapest U.S. Mint product in existence. The former is a catalog item with potential investor value; the latter is a nod to the hobbyist who collects for enjoyment. Quietly timing the release of the one amid the hoopla surrounding the other, aside from being a shrewd marketing tactic, has the feeling of making a statement. As if someone at the Mint might be saying, "We get it. And we’re trying."
If so, collectors have reason to celebrate, and to be happy it’s only January. With hints at other surprises to come from the Mint as the anniversary celebrations roll along, this could be an interesting year for modern U.S. numismatics.
To read the complete article, see:
Here's more from Coin World. -Editor
"This gesture, the adding of one little letter, goes a long way," Jurkowsky said.
The P Mint mark is added to the master die so that all working hubs and working dies will bear the Mint mark in the same position, in the field below the date.
To read the complete article, see:
Kudos to the Mint for the great publicity, intended or not. The story was soon on outlets around the world. I'll have to admit that although I'm still a heavy user of coins (yeah, I'm that Old Guy with Exact Change holding up the line), I don't look at all my coins closely. It could have been a while before I noticed the new mintmark. Heck, it was years after the "spaghetti hair" modifications to the Washington Quarter that I looked down in horror to gasp, "Sweet Jesus! WHAT have they DONE????!!!" -Editor
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
Last week (January 12, 2017), the U.S. Mint publicly unveiled images of the upcoming 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin. Here's the press release. -Editor
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, Deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin and United States Mint (Mint) Principal Deputy Director Rhett Jeppson today unveiled designs for the 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin in the historic Department of the Treasury's Cash Room. The ceremony, led by Mint Chief of Staff Elisa Basnight, kicked off a year-long series of events in celebration of the Mint's 225th anniversary in 2017 (#USMint225).
"We are very proud of the fact that the United States Mint is rooted in the Constitution," said Principal Deputy Director Jeppson. "Our founding fathers realized the critical need for our fledgling nation to have a respected monetary system, and over the last 225 years, the Mint has never failed in its mission."
The 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin design is unique in that it portrays Liberty as an African-American woman, a departure from previous classic designs. The obverse (heads) design depicts a profile of Liberty wearing a crown of stars, with the inscriptions "LIBERTY," "1792," "2017," and "IN GOD WE TRUST." The reverse (tails) design depicts a bold and powerful eagle in flight, with eyes toward opportunity and a determination to attain it. Inscriptions include "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "E PLURIBUS UNUM," "1OZ. .9999 FINE GOLD," and "100 DOLLARS."
The obverse was designed by Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Designer Justin Kunz and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill, while the reverse was designed by AIP Designer Chris Costello and sculpted by Mint Sculptor-Engraver Michael Gaudioso.
The 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin will be struck in .9999 fine 24-karat gold at the West Point Mint in high relief, with a proof finish. The one-ounce coin will be encapsulated and placed in a custom designed, black wood presentation case. A 225th anniversary booklet with Certificate of Authenticity will accompany each coin.
The 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin is the first in a series of 24-karat gold coins that will feature designs which depict an allegorical Liberty in a variety of contemporary forms-including designs representing Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Indian-Americans among others-to reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of the United States. These 24-karat gold coins will be issued biennially. A corresponding series of medals struck in .999 silver, with the same designs featured on the gold coins, will also be available.
While the stars are a bit over-the-top in size, I still like this design a lot. It's too pricey to add to my collection, but I think it's a worthy effort. See the earlier E-Sylum articles linked below for more discussion. -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
The Washington Post Editorial Board published this reaction on January 20, 2017. -Editor
FLIP AN American coin, and there’s a zero percent chance you’ll find a black woman on either side. In April, that will change: To celebrate its 225th anniversary, the U.S. Mint plans to release a commemorative $100 gold coin featuring an African American Lady Liberty.
The 24-karat coin, whose release the Mint announced last Thursday, will cost far more than its face value — around $1,500, depending on the price of gold — and will be a collector’s item, not everyday currency. The Mint will also make less-expensive silver reproductions. The coin is the first in a series to reflect what the Mint calls "the cultural and ethnic diversity of the United States." The exact shape future Ladies Liberty will take, according to the Mint, will be up to the artists who design them.
This commemorative coin will arrive just less than a year after the announcement that Harriet Tubman is bumping Andrew Jackson to the back of the $20 bill. In some ways, the news about Lady Liberty seems small in comparison. Most Americans won’t use or even see the coin; only numismatic enthusiasts will find a place for it in their collections (though former president Barack Obama expressed interest in purchasing one). Besides, Tubman deserves to be recognized for the remarkable role she played in history, while Lady Liberty is just an allegory.
Yet allegory is also what makes Lady Liberty the perfect candidate for a recasting of American ideals: Because she has no face, the country gets to decide what face to give her. The multicultural Ladies at their best will chronicle an evolution in what the nation thinks liberty means and always should have meant: freedom not just for the huddled European masses whom the Statue of Liberty began welcoming after her own arrival to New York in 1885, but the men and women who arrived in chains decades before, and those who come to America from around the world today believing in her promise.
To read the complete article, see:
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
The New York Times obtained comments from officials and staff at the U.S. Mint, the American Numismatic Association and the American Numismatic Society. -Editor
... Lady Liberty is among the most potent of American symbols. Her best-known depiction, a gift from France in 1886, stands in New York Harbor, a giant statue of a woman with white European features beckoning with a lamp to the refugees of the world.
"Part of our intent was to honor our tradition and heritage," Rhett Jeppson, the principal deputy director of the Mint, said in a phone interview on Friday. "But we also think it’s always worthwhile to have a conversation about liberty, and we certainly have started that conversation."
Mr. Jeppson said that several women had approached him after seeing the coin and told him, "she looks like me when I was younger."
"I saw real value in that," he said. "That we see ourselves in the images in our coins."
The Mint is expecting the coin to sell well, Mr. Jeppson said. Any profit the Mint generates from the sale of its coins is returned to the Treasury. Last year, the Mint sent about $600 million back to the federal government, Mr. Jeppson said.
In addition to the 100,000 gold coins — more than is typical for this sort of commemorative coin — that will be printed at West Point, the Mint will also produce 100,000 of what it calls medals, silver reproductions of the image that will sell for around $40 to $50.
Collectors expect the black Lady Liberty coin to be popular.
Whenever the Mint does something new, it creates buzz, said Gilles Bransbourg, a curator with the American Numismatic Society and a research associate at New York University.
"It’s departing from any of the coins that have been produced so far," he said. "It sends a strong message that the Mint is departing from the tradition that will be perceived as very white."
Symbolism aside, the new Lady Liberty coin is "really beautiful," said Jeff Garrett, the president of the American Numismatic Association, who saw the coin several months ago in Washington. "It’s struck in high relief, which means the high points are much higher than circulating coinage."
"I’ll buy one for sure," he said. "I’ll probably buy several."
To read the complete article, see:
Thanks also to Arthur Shippee who forwarded a BBC news piece. There are no shortage of other opinions on the coin. Charles Morgan at CoinWeek did a great job summarizing these in his January 16, 2017 Editor's Commentary. Below are paragraphs excerpted from the beginning and end of the piece - be sure to read the rest online - it makes some excellent points. -Editor
The United States Mint released images of the 2017 American Liberty High Relief Gold Coin on Tuesday, January 12, and the story took off like a steampunk locomotive powered by jet fuel in the mainstream media. In one sense this is understandable, since the new design features a straightforwardly African-American version of Lady Liberty. From the Mint's framing that this is a first, the story is legitimate news - especially for people who do not read numismatic periodicals or keep up with the latest numismatic products from the Mint.
An industry our size can't buy this kind of PR. If it's not your thing, if you don’t like the design... even if you, in this day and age, find it difficult to accept that Liberty is an idea and not one ethnicity or another... then you are still benefiting from the introduction of this coin.
To read the complete article, see:
THE BOOK BAZARRE
New U.S. Coin designs are reviewed by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC), which now has a new, taller member. -Editor
The United States Mint is pleased to announce the appointment of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC). Mr. Abdul-Jabbar fills the vacancy created this year by the resignation of Steven Roach, a member representing the interests of the general public.
Mr. Abdul-Jabbar, a renowned former professional basketball player who is an avid coin collector, became interested in numismatics based on his love of history and his study of Alexander Hamilton. Currently, he serves as the chairman of his Skyhook Foundation, whose mission is to "Give Kids a Shot That Can't be Blocked" by bringing educational opportunities to under-served communities through innovative outdoor environmental learning. He is also a regular contributing columnist to The Washington Post and Time Magazine, and a best-selling author of literary fiction and non-fiction books. On November 23, 2016, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in recognition of his outspoken advocacy of social justice.
The CCAC, established by an Act of Congress in 2003, advises the Secretary of the Treasury on theme or design proposals relating to circulating coinage, bullion coinage, Congressional Gold Medals and other medals produced by the United States Mint. The CCAC also makes commemorative coin recommendations to the Secretary and advises on the events, persons or places to be commemorated, as well as on the mintage levels and proposed designs.
The CCAC is subject to the authority of the Secretary of the Treasury. The United States Mint is responsible for providing necessary and appropriate administrative support, technical services and advice.
The CCAC submits an annual report to Congress and the Secretary of the Treasury, describing its activities and providing recommendations.
While I'm sorry to see the CCAC lose Steve Roach, Jabbar is a pleasant surprise. No mere ex-jock, he's a talented thinker and writer who has been getting high-profile exposure for his pieces in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and elsewhere. I didn't know he was a collector. Welcome to the CCAC! -Editor
To read the complete press release, see:
We've discussed celebrity coin people before. "Deacon Ray" created this nice poster over on the Coin Talk forum earlier this week. -Editor
To read the complete post, see: Famous Coin Collectors (typo correction) (Cited from: https://www.cointalk.com/threads/famous-coin-collectors-typo-correction.289666/) (www.cointalk.com/threads/famous-coin-collectors-typo-correction.289666/)
I've been groping for a name for this segment where I highlight things that have caught my eye while roaming the marketplace for interesting items. "Coins, Medals, Tokens, Banknotes, Scrip, Etc. Etc." makes for too long a headline. So how about Numismatic Nuggets? -Editor
1779 Continental Loan Office Bill of Exchange
Description: Hopkinson Francis 1737 - 1790 Pristine Continental Loan Office Third Bill of Exchange signed by Signer of the Declaration of Independence Francis Hopkinson, William Bingham and John Benezet
Partly Printed Document Signed "F. Hopkinson" as Treasurer of Loans, 1 page, 8.25" x 3.5". United States of America, March 2, 1779. Third Bill of Exchange. Watermarked "UNITED STATES 3" across the center. Countersigned "Tho: Smith" as Commissioner of the Continental Loan-Office in the State of Pennsylvania. Completed in manuscript. To the Commissioner or Commissioners of the United States of America, at Paris. Lightweight watermarked laid paper. Endorsed on verso "Andrew Yeatman."
Also, one signed endorsement in English by Bingham and one in French by Benezet on verso, with show-through in center of the Bill of Exchange not near superb Hopkinson signature. Fine condition.
"Exch. for 60 Dollars, at five Livres Tournois p Dollars Numb. 357 - At Thirty Days Sight of this Third Bill, First, Second and Fourth not paid, pay to Andrew Yeatman or Order, Sixty Dollars, in Three Hundred Livres Tournois, for Interest due on Money borrowed by the United States..."
March, 1st, 1779-Dated Revolutionary War Period, Partially-Printed Document Signed, "F. Hopkinson" as Continental Congress Treasurer of Loans, Third Bill of Exchange $60 Sight Draft, printed in Violet, Green and Black, Very Choice Crisp About Uncirculated. This bright, clean and fresh Continental Treasury form being beautifully printed upon watermarked "UNITED STATES 3" fine quality laid period paper. It is made to "Andrew Yeatman" on interest due on Money borrowed by the United States.
To read the complete lot description, see:
1806 Matthew Boulton Letter to William Pearce
Boulton (Matthew, manufacturer and entrepreneur, 1728-1809) Letter signed to William Pearce, Admiralty Office, 2pp., sm. 4to, Soho [Birmingham], 14th December 1806, asking him to replace a "beautiful poem" he had sent last summer and has now mislaid, and also thanking him for his gifts including a silver medal of the Queen of Naples, "a kind of honorary remembrancer of your Brother," and apologising for not having replied sooner, "but for the last fortnight I have been so extremely ill, & am still labouring under such acute pains that I can neither write myself nor hardly collect my thoughts...," and sending "two medals of Lord Nelson", folds, window mounted; and 19 other letters, including: Shute Barrington, Bishop of Durham; Earl of Egremont; John Douglas, Bishop of Salisbury to Isaac Heard, Garter King of Arms, sm. 4to & 8vo (20).
To read the complete lot description, see:
1850s Advance Australia Penny Token
An interesting circulated piece. World tokens are an endless source of fascination, and Australia has some great ones. Where else would you see this pairing of wildlife? I don't recall seeing this one before. -Editor
To read the complete lot description, see:
Ireland Castlecomer Crown
Co. Kilkenny, Ireland. Castlecomer Crown. DF 628, 26.54 g. A Mexican silver Charles III 8 reales crown, 1796 FM, Mexico City mint, counter marked on the obverse, PAYABLE AT CASTLE COMER COLLIERY around 5S 5d. Issued by the Dowager Countess Anne of Ormonde in Castle Comer, a village in southern Ireland, located 11 miles north of Kilkenny, between about 1804 and 1810 to provide a standard Irish equivalent of 5 shillings and 5 pence for the English 5 shillings sterling in the local coal trade. Of the 14 well known genuine pieces cataloged by B.A. Seaby, Castlecomer Tokens: An Inquiry in BNJ 1965 and Harrington E. Manville, Tokens of the Industrial Revolution, most are in museums and permanent collections. Very Fine with excellent patina and mark free. Counter mark well defined and deeply struck causing the coin to be a bit concave. The only known Castlecomer counter marked crown with the date 1796. With Spink, Seaby and other tickets. Very Rare.
Very interesting piece. Sometimes I feel I must be the dumbest numismatist on the planet, because I keep coming across new items I wasn't aware of, yet have been known to the community for ages. -Editor
To read the complete lot description, see:
USA, 'Kentucky' Copper Token, no date (minted in England circa 1792-94); obv. 'UNANIMITY IS THE STRENGTH OF SOCIETY' around a hand holding a scroll inscribed 'OUR CAUSE IS JUST;' rev. E PLURIBUS UNUM around rays emanating from a pyramid of 15 stars, each star bearing the initial of one of the then 15 states of the United States, the top star inscribed with 'K' representing Kentucky's admission as the 15th state in 1792; edge 'PAYABLE IN LANCASTER LONDON OR BRISTOL' minor surface marks, a few rim imperfections; Fine/AVF
To read the complete lot description, see:
1736 Jernegan's Lottery Medal
Silver Medal 'Jernegan's Lottery 1736' by J Tanner; obv. 'BOTH HANDS FILL'D FOR BRITAIN' around helmeted figure of Minerva standing between military trophies & emblems of the Arts & Sciences, 'GEORGE REIGNING' in ex., rev. 'GROWING ARTS ADORN EMPIRE' above crowned standing figure of Queen Caroline watering a grove of palm trees, 'CAROLINE PROTECTING 1736' in ex., 39mm; a few carbon spots o/wise generally good edge & surfaces, toned with underlying lustre, AEF - See more at: http://www.tennants.co.uk/Catalogue/Lots/365406.aspx#sthash.2nkMjtq2.dpuf
Nice medal, but I don't understand the 'lottery' connection. Can anyone enlighten me? -Editor
To read the complete lot description, see:
1963 Kennedy Noble Servant Medal
I've never actively collected Kennedy or other Presidential medals, but I don't recall having seen this one before. The artist signature seems to be "Pol Dom" - see the closeup on the web page. Am I reading that right? Who is the artist, and where was this made? Was it created before or after Kennedy's assassination? -Editor
To read the complete lot description, see:
Speaking of assassins, this Atlas Obscura piece shows an interesting use of coins at the grave of John Wilkes Booth. -Editor
One of the top actors of his day, Booth assassinated President Lincoln on April 14, 1865 before being killed himself. But Booth had quite a journey on the way to death.
After shooting the president, Booth jumped to the stage from Lincoln’s box at Ford’s Theater shouting, breaking his leg in the process, and proceeded to escape through Maryland to Northern Virginia.
While on the lam, Booth had his leg treated by a doctor who would later be tried for conspiracy. He and fellow conspirator David Herold hid in the swamps for nearly a week. By April 26, federal officers had cornered the men, who were hiding in a tobacco barn. Booth was coaxed out when only when the barn was lit on fire, but refused to surrender. As he ran out with guns up, Sergeant Thomas P. "Boston" Corbett shot him. The soldier maintained that he had only meant to disarm the man, but Booth only lived a few hours after the officers dragged his body to the farmhouse porch.
First he was buried in the Old Penitentiary, along with his co-conspirators who were hanged there. Booth’s remains were exhumed and reburied in a warehouse of the Penitentiary in 1867. Finally in 1869, his remains were exhumed a third time and released to his family.
The assassin’s body was transported to Baltimore, the city of his youth, and buried in the Booth family plot in Green Mount Cemetery. The family plot is easy to find due to Junius Brutus Booth’s towering obelisk. But the Booth family, John Wilkes’ brother Edwin in particular, believed that an elaborate headstone for John Wilkes might attract unwanted attention and vandalism. Visitors today believe the small, plain, unmarked headstone denotes John Wilkes Booth’s final resting spot. In lieu of flowers or stones, people leave pennies behind on the headstone, as if to give Lincoln the final word.
Interesting practice, and a use of cents I hadn't heard of. -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
Former U.S. Mint Director Ed Moy shared this great photo on Facebook this week. -Editor
President George W. Bush, U.S. Mint Director Ed Moy,
Donna Weaver, and Don Everhart
Edmund C. Moy wrote:
16 years ago today, I was privileged to have a meeting with the President on the last day of his administration. Under my direction (with the help of Josh Trent working with the First Lady), the United States Mint designed his second term medal (the box in my hand). At a dinner for White House staff on January 8th, 2009, the President told me he hadn’t forgotten my request to give him his medal. He said he had something special planned: he wanted me to give it to him on the last day so I could bookend my service to him which began with the very first business meeting in the Oval Office he had as president after the inaugural day. I brought the artists who worked on the medal, Donna Weaver and Don Everhart, so the President could thank them personally. All in all, pretty special.
To read the complete post, see:
I'm not sure what took so long for the first medal, but the U.S. Mint delivered to outgoing President Obama medals for his two terms in office. Here's the press release from January 17, 2017. I added images and more details on who-did-what. -Editor
Barack Obama First Term Presidential Medal
Obverse Designer: Richard Masters
Barack Obama Second Term Presidential Medal
Obverse Designer: Don Everhart
President Barack Obama today received official bronze medals depicting each of his two terms in office. During a brief ceremony in the Oval Office, Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew, Deputy Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin and U.S. Mint Principal Deputy Director Rhett Jeppson presented medals featuring the president's portrait on the obverse (heads side) and portions of memorable speeches delivered during his presidency on the reverse side.
"It has been a privilege to serve President Obama over these last eight years and to have witnessed his leadership up close," Secretary Lew said. "His historic presidency has improved the lives of millions of Americans and the medals presented today are just one way that his legacy will be honored."
Presidential medals represent a custom of honoring each president of the United States with an official medal for each term in office. Presidents who serve more than one term are traditionally honored with two medals, one highlighting each of their terms. Since the 1960s, with the exception of Ronald Reagan, all presidents who served more than one term have received two medals. Each medal measures three inches in diameter and weighs approximately nine ounces.
"The medals presented to President Obama ensure that a long-standing tradition of honoring our presidents remains unbroken," said Jeppson. "Designed, sculpted and struck by the men and women of the U.S. Mint, the medals institutionalize his legacy in a tangible and historical form alongside those leaders who preceded him--from Washington to present."
Also participating in the ceremony were Elisa Basnight, Chief of Staff of the Mint; Don Everhart, lead sculptor of the Mint; and Phebe Hemphill, Mint medallic artist. Everhart sculpted the reverse of the first term medal and designed and sculpted both the obverse and reverse of the medal honoring the president's second term. Hemphill sculpted the obverse of the first term medal.
As with other presidential medals, bronze replicas are available to the public.
Nicely done portraits - the obverses are well executed, and clearly show the president's aging in office. The reverses are well, wordy. They're great, short quotes that fit the available space well, but I think these would be better medals without all the text and larger renderings of the eagle and White House instead. The incuse signture is a nice feature and could also be made larger.
And another thing - Mint Press Releases are terrible - they don't bother including images of the subject matter, nor do they include links to where to find them, just a not-very-helpful link to the Mint's home page. The medals were not in the image gallery under Medals or any other category. Eventually I found them in the product catalog.
And how about a link to the authorizing legislation? The wordiness could be due to Congressional instructions - coin designers only have so much leeway - they have to follow the specifications laid out in the law.
I would have expected a link to a photo of the event as well. Maybe I should have checked the WhiteHouse.gov web site BEFORE Inauguration Day. The Photos section is gone from the Briefing Room, as is all trace of the previous administration. Does that content go over to the National Archives along with email files? I also checked the Internet Archive's Wayback machine, but their last snapshot of the site was in December. Hopefully the official White House photo of the event will turn up somewhere, someday. -Editor
To read the complete press release, see:
For more information, or to order, see:
After weeks of rumors and speculation, there may actually be an official Inaugural medal for President Trump after all. This Coin World story by Paul Gilkes published Inauguration Day (January 20, 2017) says that the Medalcraft Mint has won the contract. -Editor
Proposed medal design; pending Inaugural Committee approval/changes
The Donald J. Trump official presidential inaugural medal will be the fifth consecutive presidential inaugural medal struck by the Medalcraft Mint.
Medalcraft Mint President Jerry Moran said late Jan. 19 he was awaiting final approval to begin production of the Trump official presidential inaugural medal in individual 2.75-inch bronze, 2.75-inch .999 fine silver, and 2.75-inch 24-karat gold versions. A 1.25-inch, 14-karat gold medal will also be struck, for inclusion in a three-medal set that will also include the bronze and silver medals.
Exact weights of each medal won’t be known until Medalcraft strikes the first samples, Moran said. "Because of the relief in the portrait, we will be splash minting the pieces," Moran said.
Splash minting uses higher than normal striking pressure and a thicker planchet to force metal into high relief dies. If no collar is used, the technique allows the edge to become somewhat irregular. This can be resolved by grinding off the excess metal, which reduces the weight of the finished piece compared to the initial weight of the incoming planchet.
Medalcraft Mint is also striking two separate bronze medals associated with the inauguration, one on behalf of the Ohio Republican Committee and the other for the Republican National Committee. Those two medals incorporate different obverse portraits of Trump; the designs were proposed to the Trump Presidential Inaugural Committee for the Trump official presidential inaugural medal, but not approved.
Medalcraft Mint is also producing a 24-karat gold-plated brass medal of yet a different design for sale as an inaugural souvenir for Ace Specialties, the Lafayette, La., firm selected to arrange for the production and marketing of Trump inaugural memorabilia, including medals, clothing and more.
There almost wasn’t going to be a Trump official presidential inaugural medal until Jimmy Hayes, a longtime collector, lobbyist for the Industry Council for Tangible Assets and former Louisiana congressman, stressed to Trump Presidential Inaugural Committee members the historical importance of maintaining the longstanding tradition.
Hayes provided the committee with images of official presidential inaugural medals from his own collection.
As part of the pitch to gain the contract, Moran said Medalcraft Mint’s engraving staff initially executed five proposed obverse and three proposed reverse designs, none of which were selected for the Trump official presidential inaugural medal.
The obverse design that was awaiting final approval was presented for consideration to the Trump family by Christl Mahfouz, president and founder of Ace Specialties in Lafayette, La.
Hayes said the image of Trump from which Medalcraft rendered a proposed obverse design was presented to Mahfouz by someone associated with the Trump campaign.
The obverse that was awaiting final approval Jan. 19 portrays Trump superimposed over cropped images of an American flag and the White House. It is to be paired with a Presidential Seal reverse.
Three cheers for Jimmy Hayes! It would have been a shame to see the tradition go by the wayside. See the full article online for more details and background. The article helpfully reminds readers of the difference between the Inaugural medal (produced by the Inaugural Committee) and the Presidential medal (produced by the U.S. Mint). -Editor
The official presidential inaugural medal is not to be confused with the bronze Presidential medal struck by the U.S. Mint. The official presidential inaugural medal is the medal chosen by the incoming president’s Presidential Inaugural Committee or designated Medals Committee. The Presidential medal is struck by the U.S. Mint with designs approved by the seated president and from designs executed by a member or members of the U.S. Mint’s engraving staff. President Obama’s medals were released during his last week in office.
To read the complete article, see:
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
Tom Sheehan forwarded this article from the Huffington Post about the medal made in Russia for U.S. President Donald Trump. -Editor
The limited-edition coins ― only 45 have been made ― feature a cherubic mug of the incoming president as well as the Statue of Liberty and the inscription: "In Trump We Trust."
Vladimir Vasyukhin, director of the metal-works company Art-Grani, recently showcased the nearly two-pound medallion to The Associated Press Television Network.
A Russian company has revealed a commemorative Donald Trump coin ahead of this week’s Inauguration. "There are more hopes associated with Trump with regards to the lifting of sanctions; maybe the environment (between the U.S. and Russia) will change," Vasyukhin told the network, explaining his motivation.
Trump has indeed suggested such a rosy outlook. He has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin as a strong leader who is "very smart." That comes despite contrasting comments from U.S. politicians as well as U.S. intelligence agencies suggesting that Russia was behind hackings that interfered with the presidential election. Earlier this month, the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency concluded that Moscow was directly responsible for the attacks.
In an interview released Monday, Trump suggested relaxing some U.S. sanctions against Russia — imposed over its annexation of Crimea — if the nation agrees to a nuclear arms reduction.
That's one big medal! -Editor
To read the complete article (and view the video) , see:
Time to catch up - here's a couple weeks of notes on my numismatic activities.
Wayne Herndon was our host. I got there a bit late and nearly everyone was seated. I sat at the far end of our long table across from Roger Burdette. Others present included co-host Ron Abler, Eric Schena, Joe Esposito, Gene Brandenburg, Steve Bishop, Dave Schenkman, Jon Radel, Mike Packard, and Chris Neuzil.
The last to arrive was Julian Leidman, who has a longer commute from Maryland. He took at seat across from me, next to Roger. Both had recently been in the news (see the earlier E-Sylum articles for more information).
As Julian got settled Roger and I were discussing his discovery of the only known intact experimental all-glass cent, produced for the U.S. Mint in 1942. Roger had taken a chance buying the piece from an antique dealer auction, suspecting that it might be misdescribed. Patterns made of other materials (including plastic and rubber) are scarce and expensive, but the glass examples are much more rare.
Roger's hunch paid off. He submitted the piece for authentication and later consigned it to the recent Heritage auction where it sold for $70,500. It was Roger's work in the National Archives that provided his evidence for the existence and authentication of the piece (sizes and weights were documented in a report to the Mint).
Julian would rather talk about anything but himself, but I congratulated him for his recent successful treasure hunt promotion, where his clues on Facebook led 8-year-old twin boy collectors to a hidden 1916 McKinley Gold Dollar.
We Three Asses
For those who can count, you might be wondering why there are only three asses pictured while the legend says "We Three Asses". Where's the third ass? Uh, that's you, dear viewer.
These tokens were the topic of my December column in The Numismatist. The Durkee & Co. Omnibus Line piece has long been considered one of the classic New Your City transportation tokens, circa 1840s. I was unable to locate a single reference to Durkee in any reference, so decided to look elsewhere. As it turned out, he was in business in Philadelphia during the late 1830s. In the September 11, 1837 Public Ledger, a Philadelphia newspaper, I found a wonderful reference to the token, describing it perfectly. So, it not only has a new attribution but is also a new addition to the Hard Times token series. The other two tokens were struck circa 1890 or slightly earlier. Both are quite rare.
Sinkler & Davey token
Thanks, Dave! No promises, but I may publish part of Dave's article on the pieces in a future issue. Meanwhile, check out the December 2016 Numismatist, p79.
1) I am looking for more info on the Lindbergh piece. It is uniface and appears to be a test striking. The back is faintly marked "LHC / .999 FINE SILVER",indicating that it was intended as a silver issue. I have not seen any issued medals with this particular design, although there are a few that feature this portrait. I would be interested in knowing if this was issued as a medal or never got past the trial stage.
2) The 1797 2P is mis-slabbed as a 1P.
Slabbing errors happen all the time, and the group had a number of discussions about this. Some people even collect the errors, which could make for an interesting collection even if it's an embarrassment for the slabbing firms. This one's a whopper - the two coins are very different sizes.
3) I thought the J.E. Skalbe counterstamp was an old piece, but it turns out that J.E.Skalbe is alive and kicking and has been counterstamping old cull coins, such as this British 1/2 P, and giving them out as business cards.
I had the salmon dinner, and it was marvelous. I'm sure the side dishes were loaded down with butter, like an upscale McDonald's. But it sounds healthier to say, "I had the salmon."
The configuration of our long table haunted me again. I never did get a chance to talk with some of the folks in the middle like Chris Neuzil. Perhaps another time. The ice storm held off and I had an uneventful drive home.
Welcome to New York City
Our destination was the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where Dee and I would be attending the American Numismatic Society Gala later that evening. Chris had never been to NYC before. Later I asked him what he thought of it, and he said, "busy". Quite true - as the Sinatra song goes, it's the City That Never Sleeps. From the minute we came out of the Lincoln Tunnel we saw nothing but busy people of all shapes, sizes, colors, and incomes scurrying about, from the bums wielding dirty squeegees behind us, to the bicycle delivery people beside us, and to the local residents carrying their dogs in belly pouches in front.
We crawled through midtown traffic, squeezing past double-parked delivery vans and trying to ignore the blaring horns behind us that sounded within nanoseconds of the light changing seven cars in front of us. Ultimately we arrived at the restful oasis of the Waldorf, that stately old dame about to undergo three years of renovations.
At check-in E-Sylum contributor John Lupia appeared behind us and we talked a while before heading up to our room. They gave us a free upgrade, and we wouldn't need the air mattress we'd brought for Chris.
I had some business to attend to and we began walking together uptown to the hotel where Len Augsbuger and his wife Deb were staying, the Sherry-Netherland on Central Park South at Fifth and 59th. While Dee went off to find Chris something to eat, I went upstairs to meet Len. They'd been given an upgrade as well, and it was jaw-dropping in comparison to ours. It was a full suite on the 15th floor, complete with a large sitting room, small dining room table, and a full working kitchen. The views were to die for - one straight down 59th Street, and the other a full direct view of the Plaza Hotel.
Len and I had a long meeting in the sitting room, discussing Newman Numismatic Portal status and strategizing future plans. I texted my wife and they swung back the the Sherry-Netherland to get a tour of the suite from Deb. Sorry Chris - don't get used to this. We said our goodbyes and planned to meet up again at the Gala.
The ANS Gala Reception
Inside the reception hall we picked up drinks (if you can call my wife's glass of water a "drink" - I had a scotch). We spoke with Mary Burleson of Whitman about her recent move back to Alabama and Whitman owners the Anderson brothers, who could not attend the Gala.
Gala Honoree Tony Terranova came over and introduced us to Mark Tomasko and Ben Hellings, the new Assistant Curator of Numismatics at Yale University. Both are longtime E-Sylum readers. I'd corresponded with Mark over the years but we'd never met in person. It's always great to finally put faces to names.
Mark was quite helpful, providing Dee with some nearby restaurant recommendations. He was also quick to recommend that as a precaution against disaster The E-Sylum should be physically printed. As much as I love the online world I have to agree, although I'm at a loss for how to make that happen. As of last week's issue we're up to 22,094 articles and who knows how many pages. Wanna buy a copy?
Ben's British accent fooled me; he picked it up at Oxford, but he's actually from Belgium. Here's his amended bio based on the Yale Art Gallery site:
Benjamin Dieter R. Hellings, the Ben Lee Damsky Assistant Curator of Numismatics at the Yale University Art Gallery, joined the Gallery in late September 2016. He holds an M.Phil. from the University of Oxford, where he successfully defended his doctoral thesis in late November 2016. His research focuses on coin find patterns and the use of Roman coinage in northern Europe from ca. 50 B.C. to A.D. 410. Part of his dissertation research appears in the 2016 Numismatic Chronicle, in an article titled "The Denarii of Septimius Severus and the Mobility of Roman Coin: The Case of Roman Germany." He is especially interested in the pre-Roman world of Temperate Europe, Roman coinage and the economy, and the use of numismatic "big data" for research and teaching.
For more information, see:
Others we ran into briefly included John Kraljevich and Mark Anderson. I thanked Mark for his part in my Burnett Anderson Memorial Award for Numismatic Writing in 2008. Named after his father, the Washington D.C. correspondent for Numismatic News, it's a great honor.
The ANS Gala
John Lupia and John Sallay
Conversation around the table was marvelous. A problem in the kitchen delayed the serving of dinner. I've been told that led to the consumption of much more alcohol, but I don't remember any of that. I do recall learning that John was five blocks from the World Trade Center on the morning of 9/11, and that he keeps bees on his Massachusetts property. He later sent me these images of his honey, his business card logo, and the medal from his collection that provided the source of the beehive image. Very neat!
As for the Gala Festivities themselves, Emcee Dave Bowers described them well in the Stack's Bowers email newsletter this week:
In the January 20, 2017 Stack's Bowers eNewsletter Dave Bowers writes:
Once a year the American Numismatic Society holds a special event, a Gala at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, to honor people who have made important contributions to numismatics. This year the honoree was Anthony J. Terranova, plus honors to the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Society and the Newman Numismatic Portal.
"Tony" Terranova started in the rare coin business as a teenager in 1974, which, coincidentally, is the same time that D. Brent Pogue began collecting. Obviously, this was a very special year!
Before long Tony was a "regular" at our auction sales and an almost weekly visitor to our gallery at 123 West 57th Street, not far from his home. As the years slipped by, Tony built many friendships among collectors, dealers, and others and, along the way, handled many great rarities.
He has always shared his deep knowledge, often without any financial reward. If I have a question about the rarity of a certain colonial coin, Betts medal, or other obscure early American item, I often turn to Tony. On behalf of the entire Stack's Bowers Galleries organization I wish him many years of continued success.
On Thursday night, January 12, the grand ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria was filled with 170 guests who came to honor his accomplishments. Dave Bowers was emcee for the evening and Melissa Karstedt was the auctioneer. The presentations and awards, the fine dinner, the tributes expressed by those who came to the podium, the banquet dinner, and the orchestra will be long remembered by those who were there.
It is with a bit of sadness that we all know that the Waldorf is going to close down in April, to be remodeled mainly into condos, but with some guest facilities. For many years it has hosted the ANS Gala. Before then there were other venues. I remember the Explorers Club one year and the Frick Museum the next. Wherever it will be in 2018 will certainly be somewhere special.
In closing I express my appreciation to Dr. Ute Wartenberg-Kagan and the ANS staff for creating such a great event. I am deeply honored to have been a part of it.
Len Augsburger at the podium
Linda Schapiro, Eric Newman’s daughter, spoke about Eric’s involvement in numismatics and accepted the ANS Trustee’s award on behalf of the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society and the Newman Numismatic Portal. This was not Linda’s first appearance at the Gala podium – nearly 40 years ago she accepted the ANS Huntington Award on behalf of her father, who, with his wife Evelyn, was traveling in Antarctica. Also in attendance were two of Linda’s children, Joshua Solomon and Abigail Rose Solomon.
Len Augsburger, Project Coordinator of the Newman Numismatic Portal, made several remarks:
The Newman Numismatic Portal is an online effort sponsored by the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society and administered through Washington University in St. Louis. Eric Newman is a graduate of Washington University and the family has a longstanding relationship with the University, including the recent donation of an early printing of the Declaration of Independence.
I joined the Newman Portal project as project coordinator in 2015, and it was immediately clear that we needed to create a partnership with ANS. Scanning equipment and personnel were embedded in ANS by the end of 2015. To date we have scanned over 3,000 documents in the ANS library, focusing on the early American auction catalog series as documented in the John Adams’ bibliographies.
Sir Isaac Newton famously observed that, if we can see further, it is because we stand on the shoulders of giants. Harry Bass, after whom the ANS library is named, spearheaded the computerization of the ANS library catalog in the 1990s. Today, nearly all research at the ANS begins by consulting the DONUM, MANTIS, or ARCHER databases. The work of the American numismatic bibliographers John Adams, Charles Davis, and Martin Gengerke has similarly informed the growth of the Newman Portal.
Through all of these changes the ANS has maintained a constant commitment to encouraging critical thought through the examination of numismatic objects and their surrounding literature, even as that literature becomes increasingly digital. It is this tradition of scholarship that we are here tonight to celebrate, and the Newman Portal looks forward to a continuing, close collaboration with ANS in pursuit of this goal. Thank you.
Afterwards I introduced myself to Linda Schapiro and we spoke awhile about Eric. I'm sure his ears were burning throughout the evening.
Melissa Karstedt at the podium
After the dinner and auction Dee and I spoke for a while with John and Regina Adams and Skyler Liechty and his wife. With hundreds of people in the room it was impossible to see them all, but it was a wonderful night of numismatic fellowship all around.
Vintage photo of a Money Exchange booth
Money Exchange Booth Gift Shop Today
After the ferry ride back to Manhattan we met up with Len and Deb for lunch before walking up to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. The footprint waterfalls and reflecting pools are quiet, somber, contemplative spaces. Those of us alive on the day have a lot of reflecting to do.
The Museum was quite well done and we would recommend it to anyone. We weren't done walking yet - I wanted Dee and Chris to see Wall Street and Len led us there, where we passed Trinity Church on the way. I stopped to point out Alexander Hamilton's grave, telling Dee she could tell her friends she "went to New York to see Hamilton."
We soon also passed Federal Hall, site of George Washington's Inauguration, and the New York Stock Exchange. We decided to tale the subway uptown, but had to walk several blocks to avoid an outage. Len led us again. At the station we entered there was a great money-themed mural.
My party got off at Times Square, where it was already dark enough to take in the bright lights engulfing the whole area. After dinner we trudged back to the Waldorf. We'd been on our feet for twelve hours (so how come I'm not skinny already?). But it was a great day of sightseeing.
Our tour turned out to be a highlight of our trip, and we would recommend it to anyone. Our guide Peter was personable and knowledgeable as he led the three of us and a couple from Essex around the outside of the building to tell us about the center's history and artworks. If I'd told my wife I wanted to take her around to learn about art and history she would have turned up her nose and run the other direction. She expected something much different or she wouldn't have let me buy the tickets. But the tour was a delight and she's been talking about it ever since.
He felt certain about the numismatic connection. Back home I poked around the 'net for more information. I found nothing about him working on coins, but I did find this great Art Deco Rockefeller Center medal.
Could it be that this Lawrie Winged Mercury relief at Rockefeller Center invoked thoughts of the Mercury Dime by A. A. Weinman?
Here's one last Lee Lawrie medal I located:
We shopped some more afterwards, got our luggage and checked out of our room, then went out for lunch before hitting the road. We all ordered tuna melts, and they were very good. Back in the Waldorf lobby I was stopped by E-Sylum reader Jeff Burke of New Jersey. We'd never met in person. I tried taking a picture, but I guess my camera was full - it didn't work. I should have asked Jeff to take a selfie of us.
It was time to load our luggage in the car and head home. I was glad to have been there to see the Newman Numismatic Portal and Tony Terranova win their awards, and my talks with Len were productive. The personal part of the trip was also gratifying; my wife and son had a great time, and so did I.
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
Jeff Burke submitted this article focusing mainly on his experiences at lat week's New York International show. Thanks! -Editor
"The Wonders of Ancient & World Coin Catalogs and the 2017 New York International Numismatic Convention"
Pete LaConte's Catalog Gift
As I read through these documents, I found myself drawn to certain Swiss, Belgian and French coin listings from the 18th to the 20th centuries. There is something magical about the smell, color and tactile sensation of holding a catalog in your hands and carefully examining each page of vividly illustrated coins! My favorite catalog references were in the world medals, orders and decorations section pertaining to the centennial of Ireland’s Easter Rebellion of 1916 in a Spink 2016 catalog which I keep on my bookshelf.
Pete LaConte grew up in northern New Jersey and started collecting coins at the age of 10. His first project was to plug the holes in a Whitman cent album. Today, LaConte concentrates more on world and medieval coins in our cherished hobby, with a secondary interest in Bust and Seated U.S. coinage. LaConte is an engineer in the telecom industry. (E-mail exchanges with LaConte, 10. 9 & 11.16).
Pete also gave me a shopping bag full of U.S., ancient and world coin catalogues prior to the start of our November NJNS meeting at the Chatham Public Library. Catalog selections included Jean Elsen & ses Fils s.a. (Brussels), Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. (London), Ibercoin (Madrid), Spinx (London), Monnaies (Paris), and H.D. Rauch (Vienna). LaConte gave me another heavy bag of catalogs after our January 2016 NJNS meeting. The catalogs included Aureo & Calico (Barcelona), Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc. (Los Angeles), Nomos (Zurich), and the New York Sale Auction XXXVII of Ancient and World Coins, January 5-6, 2016, in conjunction with the New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC). I received a copy of Numisma (Lisbon) from Pete in March, Schulman b.v. (Amsterdam) in September, and cgb.fr (Paris) in November. A house cleaning by Pete resulted in a box of catalogs for me in December, some of which date to 30 years ago. What fun!
I had only owned two ancient coins in my life: a Roman coin that I bought for my wife Beth, and a high grade widow’s mite (in VF-EF) that I purchased at a local coin show near Worcester, MA, in 2008. At the time, I was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester. Professor Rick (Frederick J.) Murphy, one of my Holy Cross colleagues, was teaching a course entitled "Jesus and His Contemporaries," so I bought the widow’s mite for him to share with his class. His students passed the piece around the classroom and were thrilled to hold this actual piece of history in their hands!
The New York International
We were in awe of the ancient and world coin offerings from around the world, nestled within the elegant Waldorf Astoria, reflective of the coin catalogs I’ve been studying for the past several years. I happened upon the cove of Charlie Davis and felt the pure joy of admiring his stunning array of numismatic works for sale. It was exciting to meet Charlie for the first time! We had a delightful conversation as Charlie showed me some of his leather-bound tomes and other selections he had at the show.
Most Beautiful Coin of
the 20th Century?
Beth was entranced by a silver coin bearing the image of a lone figure gazing out over the sea, which she declared to be perhaps the most artistically designed coin she had ever encountered. Later she identified it online as the Norwegian 1914 2 Kroner. She also discovered she was not alone in admiring the coin, finding Kevin Goldberg’s article, "Is This the Most Beautiful Coin of the 20th Century?" in Coin World (Sep. 1, 2015)!
1794 Cork Halfpence Conder Token
As for me, my attention lingered on an extensive display of Irish coins and tokens. After careful consideration, I ended up buying a Cork DH. 2 1794 Halfpence Conder token. The provenance of this choice uncirculated piece includes Jerry Bobbe; Robinson Brown; and Del Parker, who purchased the token through a Dix Noonan Webb of London auction in 2013. I was captivated by the luster and design of the piece along with its pedigree, since I am an early copper enthusiast.
Alas, it was time to leave the show. Beth and I headed out into a snowy Manhattan evening, looking forward to further numismatic adventures down the road.
A rare Ipswich cut halfpenny of King Stephen is being offered at auction. -Editor
A half of one of the world's rarest coins is to be auctioned off in Suffolk next weekend.
This King Stephen cut halfpenny was minted in Ipswich during a reign lasting between 1135 and 1154.
Bidding will start at around the £150 mark when coin collectors and dealers bid for it at Martlesham auctioneers Lockdales on Saturday, January 28.
Auction manager James Sadler said: "There are only four of these coins known in the whole world."
"This is a genuinely rare coin", and that isn't a term I use lightly.
"Back in the days when it was minted in Ipswich, the town was a very big trading place, one of the biggest in the country."
It's a fun hook for a headline, but cut coinage was quite common at the time, being how people typically made change without the benefit of smaller denomination coins. So the half coin is a legitimate numismatic item in itself. But I can only imagine the market reception of a rare modern coin cut thusly. Wanna buy a rare 1894-S half dime? -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
Here is the press release for a large collection of coins of Frederick II in the upcoming auction of the Tempelhofer Münzenhaus / Berlin, on April 6, 2017. To conserve space, I've only illustrated two of the coins. -Editor
The Russians in Koenigsberg: a numismatic testimony to the Seven Years’ War
In the upcoming auction of the Tempelhofer Münzenhaus / Berlin, on April 6, 2017, a large collection of coins of Frederick II will be auctioned off. They include a comprehensive series of Russian coins from East Prussia. We are telling their story.
As a matter of fact, the Seven Year’s War (1756-1763) might be understood as the first global war in history: All major European powers were involved. On the side of Prussia, there were England and Portugal while on the side of the House of Habsburg, there were France, Russia and Sweden; and these were only the three most significant participants. Their campaigns were not restricted to the European territory but infringed North America, India and the Caribbean. Nevertheless, the decision was made in Europe without involving any army.
Geographically speaking, it was an exclave in the Polish Kingdom (fig. 1). East Prussia only was not subject to the supremacy of the Polish ruler because he had waived his sovereign rights in 1657. Therewith, the East Prussian ruler was autonomous and free to place a royal crown on his head. This in no way changed anything about the two weak spots of his East Prussian rule: Located far away from the ancestral homeland, the territory was difficult to defend. And the Polish would have loved to incorporate it into their own empire again.
And what did the Russians want in East Prussia?
Thus, East Prussia was no mere strategic goal when the Russian army, led by General Apraksin, attacked on July 1, 1757. He won the Battle of Gross-Jaegersdorf, but could not take advantage of his victory. Also his lines of supplies were too long. As a result, the Russian main body was forced to retreat.
Already in the spring of the following year, though, it attacked another time. The Battle of Zorndorf was a horrible bloodbath and modern historians still wonder who has won exactly. The Prussians lost 13,000 men, and the Russians 18,000! No wonder, then, that Federick’s situation became increasingly threatening. In the Battle of Kunersdorf, he suffered a devastating defeat. Berlin wasn't taken only for the fact that the allies were interested in other things. Elizabeth wanted East Prussia, and that became the place where the Russian administration took residence.
18 groeschers 1759, Koenigsberg.
Russian coins for East Prussia
And so, the Russians made good use of the Koenigberg Mint to strike coins for East Prussia between 1759 and 1762. The denominations matched the local ones. They consisted of third talers (fig. 3), sixth talers (fig. 4), 18 groeschers, also called tympf (fig. 5), 6 groeschers or szostak (fig. 6), 3 groeschers or duettchen (fig. 7), 2 groeschers (fig. 8), groschen (fig. 9), and schilling (fig. 10).
The coins’ design of course changed. From the third taler down to the 3 groeschers, on the obverse we see the bust of Tsarina Elizabeth I with a Latin legend (in translation): Elizabeth I by the grace of God Empress of all Russia. The 2 groeschers, in contrast, only depicts the Russian double eagle with the Latin wording (in translation): silver coin. The smallest denomination, the schilling of which three made a groschen, shows an entwined monogram consisting of E and P for Elizabeth Petrovna (= Elizabeth, daughter of Peter).
The reverse, on the other hand, remains Prussian: It features the crowned eagle with scepter and Imperial orb. Furthermore, every denomination clearly states its value, and the groschen even mentions explicitly that it was a coin of the Kingdom of Prussia (Moneta Regni Prussiae).
3 groeschers 1761, Moscow
Coin imports from Moscow
How popular these coins were among the ordinary people becomes clear by the fact that those public counterfeiters, acting on behalf of king Frederick II, produced imitations of the tympf of 18 groschens (fig. 11), but of course with a considerably reduced silver content. These Berlin imitations are recognizable by their obverse legend. Instead of the usual RUSS, they end with RUSSIA or, as in the present case, with RUSSIAE.
Heaven intervenes in favor of Frederick
Her heir was Peter III, an ardent admirer of the Prussian King. Already as Tsarevitch, he maintained an extensive exchange of letters with Frederick. He possessed a guard of German soldiers who had been trained according to the Prussian model, and he loved to command it while wearing a Prussian uniform. When the war had broken out, Peter had already tried to stop his aunt from attacking Prussia. Now, he possessed the power to do what he deemed right. And this meant immediate peace negotiations.
East Prussia and the Treaty of Saint Petersburg
A decision of historical significance
And East Prussia?
Queen Elizabeth II is a bit out of sorts on this error two pound coin that hit the news this week. The die for the bimetallic piece rotated, giving these examples an odd die alignment. Here's an article from the Mirror. -Editor
If you've a £2 coin in your wallet, you could be sitting on a small fortune, thanks to a newly discovered printing error on thousands of coins in circulation.
Coin experts revealed that a number of 2015 Britannia £2 coins currently being used include a striking error - which could make them valuable to collectors.
The coins show the Queen’s head rotated clockwise by around 150 degrees - but, with only 650,000 in circulation, and just a few thousand 'upside down', you're going to have to dig deep to find a special one.
The Royal Mint said the misalignment was "almost certainly the result of one of the dies working loose and rotating during the striking process".
The government body also said the £2 Britannia coin is one of the most scarce circulating £2 coins ever minted – it is third equal in the all-time low mintage charts.
According to experts at Change Checker there are around 3,250 of the 'inverted' £2 coins in circulation - that's around one in 200.
Yasmin Britton, of Change Checker, said: "If the inverted effigy is a consequence of the die slipping during the striking process, it is possible that there may be other variations where the Queen's head is less or more misaligned as the die has worked its way out of position."
It would be an interesting study to assemble a group of these errors and note the die alignment; as the article states, there could exist examples with varying degrees of rotation. -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
In November 2016 we discussed a Victoria Cross medal uncovered in the river Thames by a London mudlark. This article from the Telegraph provides a great deal of background on the likely recipient, and his sad end. -Editor
The story that has now emerged from his chance discovery is one of both tragedy and heroism, culminating in the shooting of a young work colleague by a decorated veteran of the Crimean war who then turned the gun on himself.
With the whereabouts of only two of the Inkerman VCs unaccounted for, the one found by Mr Neto in all likelihood belonged to a private called John Byrne - a man who appears to have been so tormented by what he had witnessed in battle he suffered a catastrophic breakdown.
Byrne, from County Kilkenny in Ireland, was awarded the VC for returning to the front line to rescue a wounded comrade under heavy fire during the battle.
But following his return from the Crimea, his life appears to have spiralled out of control, as a result of suffering what would now be diagnosed as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
While working as part of an Ordnance Survey team, Byrne became convinced his medal had been taunted by his work colleague John Watts.
In a fury, the former soldier pulled out a revolver and shot the terrified 18-year-old, wounding him on the arm.
Hours later, surrounded by a large crowd and several police officers, Byrne turned his gun on himself and pulled the trigger, taking his own life rather than give himself up.
To read the complete article, see:
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Here's some more background on that crazy "trillion dollar coin" idea floated back in 2012/2013. -Editor
President Barack Obama almost minted the coin.
On "Pod Save America," a podcast from new media start-up Crooked Media featuring former Obama staffers and speechwriters, Obama was asked what the "scariest moment" of his presidency was.
"I think it was the moment when it seemed that [former Republican House Speaker] John Boehner didn't seem to generate the votes to make sure the US didn't default on our debt," said Obama. "We had to start drafting a speech."
In the midst of the possibility of a government shutdown, Obama said that the administration was considering any number of ways to avoid the shutdown and deal with the national debt. One of the ideas floated, according to Obama, was having the US Treasury mint a coin worth $1 trillion to pay off a good portion of the debt.
"We were having these conversations with Jack Lew and others about what options in fact were available, because it had never happened before," said Obama. "There were all kinds of wacky ideas about how potentially you could have this massive coin."
Obama's idea of the coin may be a bit different from what others discussed at the time. As Bloomberg's Joe Weisenthal (who we should note was fascinated by the idea while at Business Insider) noted on Twitter, you in theory could just mint any size of coin and declare it worth $1 trillion. Obama, however, said he imagined it much larger.
"It was some primitive... it was out of the Stone Age," Obama told the hosts. "I pictured rolling in some coin."
Um, yeah... It would have looked great next to the Yap Stone money at the National Numismatic Collection. Former Mint Director Ed Moy slapped everyone back to reality with his January 8, 2013 CNBC article, The $1 Trillion Platinum Coin Ain't Worth a Plugged Nickel.
QUICK QUIZ: Who can tell us what a Plugged Nickel is?
Oh, yeah - Dan Carr made this great satirical piece in 2013 (sorry, they're sold out). -Editor
For more information, see:
To read the complete article, see:
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Those Motion Picture Money stories keep popping up. Nick Graver forwarded this article from the Rochester, NY Democrat and Chronicle. Thanks. -Editor
Tyler C. Ragin, 20, is charged with possession of a forged instrument and petit larceny.
According to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, deputies have responded to at least five separate incidents of counterfeit money being passed in the past few weeks.
In each instance, a $100 or $20 bill was passed and each bill was marked "FOR MOTION PICTURE USE ONLY."
A pizza delivery person called 911 after thinking a customer used a fake $100 bill for payment. After an investigation, Ragin was charged.
Deputies are asking the public to be alert of "FOR MOTION PICTURE USE ONLY" counterfeit bills being passed as legal currency. Anyone who encounters these fake bills is asked to call 911.
To read the complete article, see:
The January 20, 2017 Wall Street Journal A-HED piece highlighted a German perfume expert who sought to bottle the scent of money. -Editor
Customs agents and chemists around the world have long been curious about the exact aroma of the U.S. greenback. The hunt is complicated by the fact that a dollar’s scent evolves as it circulates—from an inky-cotton fragrance fresh from the bank to an earthier, greasy-palm smell that should remind people to wash their hands more often.
Marc vom Ende, a chemist and senior perfumer with German flavor and fragrance house Symrise AG, thinks he has hit on the precise blend.
Starting with base notes of cotton, soap and ink, Mr. vom Ende says, the scent sweeps in odors derived from more than 100 volatile organic chemicals. It includes whiffs of leather from time spent in wallets and handbags, a metallic tang that evokes cash registers, salty human sweat and even bacterial and bathroom smells.
Mike Bouchet, a Frankfurt-based artist who commissioned the scent search, said the first time he stuck his nose into an early sample, "I felt a bump, like a jolt of electricity, because it smelled just like money. It was invigorating."
Until now, the smell of U.S. dollars hadn’t been inventoried.
When Mr. Bouchet approached Symrise, based in Holzminden, Germany, two years ago with his idea to re-create the used money smell, executives assigned the project to Mr. vom Ende, its 48-year-old senior perfumer who designs scents for diffusers in the interiors of Mercedes-Benz cars as well as European perfume companies.
Mr. vom Ende smelled a challenge. "Money takes something from everyone who uses it," he said. "That makes it crazy complex, but that also makes it interesting to detect."
To begin, the perfumer inserted a wad of new and used U.S. paper money—in denominations of $1, $5 and $20—into an airtight chamber containing activated charcoal. Like a sponge, the charcoal absorbed elements in or around the dollars in the trapped air, allowing molecules from the money to be extracted. (Different currencies have different smells.)
The final formula could prove tempting to counterfeiters seeking to make their fakes "smell authentic," she added. The Secret Service, which oversees efforts to stem financial crimes like money laundering, was intrigued by the idea of re-creating the smell, but said the odor isn’t one of the tools experts currently use to weed out counterfeit currency.
The Bureau of Printing and Engraving, which printed 7.6 billion new notes for the Federal Reserve last year, said that the notes’ odor isn’t proprietary, even though some of the manufacturing processes used to make them are protected.
For now, the results of Mr. vom Ende’s olfactory detection will be able to be inhaled in only one place: New York gallery Marlborough Chelsea, where the perfumer plans to come to turn over his vial to Mr. Bouchet, the artist who paid Symrise to produce it. Mr. Bouchet is known for making wry artworks exploring commercial processes. He has created his own bluejeans, cans of hamburger and flavored cola. On Thursday, he intends to diffuse the smell throughout the gallery—as a work of art.
Notwithstanding earlier studies of bills circulating in Chicago and Miami, nary a single molecule of cocaine was found. -Editor
The biggest group were aliphatic aldehydes, a dominant smell in soap, linen and "a key smell in Chanel No. 5," he said. People typically find such compounds appealing, he added, "unless it gets too strong, and then we think it smells like vomit."
Next, he found high amounts of alkanes, or compounds we often find in gasoline or ink. The rest were largely animal-derived, he said, coming from body oils, skin cells and decay. He also found the presence of butter, cheese and hay as well as indole molecules, which are commonly found in fecal matter. "I found more than I expected," he said.
Vegans dislike handling polymer banknotes, which are manufactured with trace amounts of animal tallow. But there's no escaping these trace amounts - all banknotes carry animal-derived compounds. -Editor
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