The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 20, Number 10, March 5, 2017, Article 11


New 1792 Book Available for Viewing at ANA
1792 Birth of a Nation's Coinage Len Augsburger writes:

A copy of 1792: Birth of a Nation’s Coinage will be available for viewing at Rich Uhrich’s table (#1017) at the American Numismatic Association National Money Show in Orlando (March 9-11, 2017). Written by Pete Smith, Joel Orosz, and Len Augsburger, this book presents an in-depth examination of the United States coinage of 1792, including a comprehensive census of all known examples. Ordering details will be released by Heritage in the near future.

This highly-anticipated book has been many years in the making. Be among the first to see it! -Editor

Orloff Printing Process Question

U.S. Test Proof Note One Dollar

Regarding author Gene Hessler's response last week about the multi-intaglio or 'Orlof intaglio' banknote printing process, E-Sylum reader Bob Leuver of Maryland writes:

Gene's note makes it sound as if the Orloff printing method originated with De la Rue Giori. As I recall, the Orloff method of gravure/intaglio was used by Russia for banknotes. I researched the printing method with Alberto Albinati, Giori's top salesman. We discussed whether it would enhance their presses. I have forgotten just about everything I knew about the Orloff method, so my comments are not a criticism. Perhaps, Gene could enlighten me. I retired from the BEP 29 years ago, so there..

Gene Hessler writes:

Regarding the Orloff press, I know it was registered in 1897, but interpreted Prof. Hellmann's comment about this press as being a hybrid. Prof. Hellmann was in his last years when he provided this information.

By the way, my U.S. Essay Proof & Specimen Notes that was illustrated is the 2nd edition.

Thanks, everyone. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

More on Ralph Barker
Dave Hirt writes:

Ralph Randolph Barker I own all the catalogs of the Barker sales. Barker consigned to three different Chapman sales, Two with the brothers, the last with Henry. For some reason all three of these sales are scarce, and are rarely offered.

My catalog of the sale 08/13/1902 is a prize. It is Barker's personal copy. It has the lots of his consignment priced. Totals show with a 25% commission deducted. The next sale was on 07/07/1904. and the last 11/28/1913, held after Barker's death. I just obtained that one in the recent Charles Davis sale.

Thanks. I was glad to see this bio - Barker is not a numismatic figure I was familiar with. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

On Arabic Numeral Dates
Last week we published this quote from an old newspaper article about a coin from the year "787" which turned out to be a New Jersey copper from 1787.

There was found on the bank of the Ohio river, and is now in the possession of the Doctor A.D. Keith of this place, an old Roman coin, made of copper, bearing a Latin in- scription with the title of Nova Caesarae and purporting to have been coined as early as the year 787. It is something remarkable that it has not wasted more than appears; the impression of a horse's head with a plough and shield is quite plain; the letters appear to be well formed.

Martin Purdy writes:

This attribution of Arabic numerals to a period before they were in use in the West reminds me a little of an item that was on display in a private museum here in New Zealand some years ago. Supposedly a Roman coin from "A.D. 515" , its date caught my eye as being both a little too late and a little too precise. I asked for a closer look and it turned out to be a Constantinian copper of a couple of centuries earlier, with the mintmark SIS (= Siscia, now Sisak in Croatia) in the exergue! Close, but no cigar.

Thanks. Somewhat more plausible than coins dated "B.C.", but incorrect nonetheless. Thanks for setting them straight. -Editor

Martin adds:

As far as I can tell, they started in India (so not really "Arabic" at all) around the 4th century, then reached the Arab world around the 8th century, from where we picked them up around the 12th - but it took another couple of hundred years for them to get into any form of widespread use and for their shapes to become standardized, and probably another couple of hundred years again for them to start supplanting Roman numerals - quite a fascinating field for study in itself!

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

Library Organization, Or Lack Thereof
Regarding the photo of my numismatic library in the last issue, Bob Leonard writes:

E-Sylum Central 2017-02-25a I'm reluctant to show anyone my library, because it has (1) sideways books on top of shelved books and (2) books in piles. And I have no room to add anything else!

In a way it is reassuring to discover that I am not alone. (I trust that these books are not double shelved, i.e., that there is not a second row of books behind the visible ones. In the 1980s I visited Leroy ["Jim"] Kaczor in Champaign, a wonderful person, and I noticed that his car was parked in the driveway, though he had a garage. I was looking to buy a copy of an ANS publication and thought he might have one, since he was a long-time member of the ANS. We went out to the garage, and I found that the walls were covered with bookshelves and there were library tables in the middle. The tables were heaped with numismatic books. Checking the shelves, I found that there were books behind those in front. And he lacked the book I wanted!)

Actually, there are books stuffed behind books. Someday the whole thing may explode and bury me in a pile of biblio-debris. At least it would be a fitting end for a bibliophile. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
WAYNE'S NUMISMATIC DIARY: FEBRUARY 26, 2017 : Breakfast with Jeff Garrett (

Quick Quiz: Who Is This Mystery American Numismatist?
Pete Smith writes:

Mystery Numismatist I have been working to fill gaps in American Numismatic Biographies for the listing on the Newman Numismatic Portal. One early numismatist has been known only by his first initial and last name. This made him hard to identify. His address was known from an early publication.

I found a city directory of a clerk with that last name living at that address. I learned that he moved to a new city and got involved selling stomach bitters. One of his bitters bottles would be a treasure to a bottle collector.

Can any E-Sylum reader identify this numismatist?

Can any E-Sylum reader identify another numismatist that crosses into the field of bottle collecting?

Great questions. Any guesses on who Pete's Mystery Numismatist is? -Editor

A Mystery Shakespeare Token

shakespeare token

Philip De Jersey writes:

I was interested to read the piece on Shakespeare medals in the latest E-Sylum. Amongst a group of metal-detected finds bought to me last week was this copper alloy token (19mm, 1.71g), with WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE on the obverse and BORN ON SAINT GEORGE’S DAY 1564 DIED ON HIS BIRTHDAY 1616 on the reverse. There is a somewhat similar obverse on a much heavier pewter medal at, issued in 1916, which provides the only parallel I have been able to find on the web.

It could be that this token is local to Guernsey, in the Channel Islands, where it was discovered, but I’ve found no mention of such an object in the standard numismatic sources for the islands, and we have no comparable items in our museum collection. Any observations or suggestions of origin would of course be welcome…

Can anyone help? -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

The Minting of Sixpence Coins
Last week David Pickup noted that "Sixpences were last minted in 1967 but were not withdrawn until 30 June 1980." Gary Dunaier writes:

The 2017 Silver sixpence The British Royal Mint started minting sixpences again last year.

Of course, these new sixpences aren't intended for circulation but are designed for collectors, and to be given as gifts. They sell them for £30.00.

According to the Royal Mint, "The silver sixpence has long been a token of good luck, popped into Christmas puddings and the shoes of brides fulfilling the traditional rhyme ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a silver sixpence in her shoe’."

Thanks. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: FEBRUARY 26, 2017 : More on Withdrawn Coins (

Timeless Rittenhouse
Jeff Reichenberger writes:

Has anyone mentioned the television show “Timeless”? It is a show about time travel. Briefly, there are two time machines – one is piloted by a man who wants to change historic events in an attempt to erase the recent death of his wife and daughter. The other is piloted by a team dedicated to stopping him from screwing up history. But here’s the kicker/slight numismatic nugget, they are both being manipulated by an evil entity known as ‘Rittenhouse’, and yes, this evil empire was founded by David Rittenhouse, who incidentally, is depicted as a psychopathic monster who covertly controls the country. They never mention his pulling the strings at the U.S. Mint, and he is shot to death in episode 10, but his maniacal followers are still ‘controlling’ us presently! Hmm, isn’t there a group of numismatists who call themselves “The Rittenhouse Society”? Just what are you folks up to??

I find the program somewhat entertaining, though redundant.

Sorry, Jeff. I'm afraid now we'll have to have you killed. Actually, one of the Rittenhouse Society members mentioned this show the other day; I haven't seen it. Time travel is always a great excuse for a plot. Who wouldn't love the opportunity to travel though time to save the world, even the score with an old bully, kiss that girl, or just get rich?

Founded in 1957 and named for scientist and first Director of the U.S. Mint David Rittenhouse, the Rittenhouse Society is a small group that meets once a year for breakfast at the annual American Numismatic Association summer convention. We're all numismatic researchers and writers, and with all our projects no one has time to control the world. We may have a few geniuses, but no one's evil. -Editor

Authenticating Odd & Curious Money
Regarding the Katanga cross, last week I wrote:

I've always been oddly curious about odd & curious money. Can these crude items ever be truly authenticated as having been used as money?

Bob Leonard writes:

Check your copy of Curious Currency, or Quiggin, who I quoted.

Curious Currency, p. 82, footnote 37, citing Quiggin, A Survey of Primitive Money, pp. 77-79. A couple of citations from Quiggin: "Cameron, crossing over lake Tanganyika 1874, found that his trade-beads...were of no further value and he had to use the Urua crosses, here called handa. These were larger than the average type, 15 to 16 inches..." (Quiggin, p. 78, citing Cameron, 1877, I, p. 319). Quiggin mentions some prices in terms of Katanga crosses: a gun, 10, and 4 fowls or a fathom of cloth, 5. In 1924 bride-price was 14 large crosses, a large she-goat, a piece of indigo drill (a kind of cloth), and a female slave (yes, slavery had not yet been abolished in Africa then). On p. 79 is the divorce anecdote I quoted, though I switched the order of items returned for better effect.

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
NUMISMATIC NUGGETS: FEBRUARY 26, 2017 : Katanga Cross (

Shaving In the Old Treasury Vault
Regarding the antics of the guy in the back of the photo of the Old U.S. Treasury Vault we've been discussing, Ron Haller-Williams writes:

I reckon he's most likely shaving - note the white patch on his face, and the fact that the guy at rear top right is holding a mirror in the right position for him! See attached detail, with brightness/contrast slightly tweaked.

inside-treasury-department-vault Treasury vault man at back

Well I'll be! That DOES look like he's shaving. It's a staged photo and he's likely doing that for fun to see who'd notice. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: FEBRUARY 26, 2017 : Ordering Lunch at the Old Treasury Vault (

Charles Davis ad01

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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