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The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit association devoted to the study and enjoyment of numismatic literature. For more information please see our web site at


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Numismatic Bibliomania Society
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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.


Wayne Homren 2017-03-15 full New subscribers this week include: Bob Crooks. Welcome aboard! We now have 5,925 subscribers.

Thank you for reading The E-Sylum. If you enjoy it, please send me the email addresses of friends you think may enjoy it as well and I'll send them a subscription (but let me know if they are located in the European Union). Contact me at anytime regarding your subscription, or questions, comments or suggestions about our content.

This week we open with two numismatic literature sales, three new books, an update from the Newman Numismatic Portal, and two videos.

Other topics this week include the U.S. Mint's manufactured rarities, Maundy Money, medals and coins of the Notre Dame cathedral, auction highlights, visits to New York's American Numismatic Society and Medialia Gallery, historic bank buildings, and the Eusko community currency.

To learn more about coins recovered from the wreck of the Atocha, Belgian gold coins, Bulgarian banknotes, the Gimbels department store coin departments, the new “W” quarters, a peek into the West Point Mint, the 1792 French Republic National Convention medal, and rare date gold pricing, read on. Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Editor, The E-Sylum


Don't forget! Kolbe & Fanning's numismatic literature sale #152 is closing Saturday, April 27, 2019. Get your bids in! -Editor


Kolbe Fanning sale 152 cover Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers will hold our Sale 152 this Saturday, April 27, 2019, beginning at 12:00 noon eastern time. The sale focuses on North American numismatic works, though included in that are American catalogues including ancient and foreign coins. Items being offered include material from the libraries of Phil Carrigan, Doug Robins, John Donoghue, Reed Hawn, Q. David Bowers, Del Bland and others.

Bids may be placed via post, email, fax or phone, as well as online. Bids placed via post, email, fax or phone must be received by Friday, April 26, the day before the sale, in order for them to be processed. Kolbe & Fanning uses Auction Mobility as our third-party online bidding platform. Auction Mobility is an app-based platform allowing users the ability to participate in the sale through phones, tablets and computers. To register for the sale, bidders must go to and sign up. Once you have set up an account, you may browse lots, place advance bids, or participate in the live sale online. Those wishing to participate on their devices can download the Kolbe & Fanning app through the Apple or Google Play Store.

Advance absentee bids may also be placed online at; live internet bidding will be available during the sale itself through the same platform. Bidders placing absentee bids will be able to tell immediately whether or not they have the current high bid. Bidders will also receive email notifications when they are outbid before the sale (users of the app may receive push notifications as well).

Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers LLC is a licensed and bonded auction firm in the State of Ohio. For more information, please see the Kolbe & Fanning website at or email David Fanning at To register for the sale, go to We look forward to your participation on April 27.

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:


CURIOUS CURRENCY— The new 2nd edition of Robert D. Leonard Jr.'s Curious Currency: The Story of Money From the Stone Age to the Internet Age is now available, with updated information on e-gold and PayPal, proximity payments, cryptocurrencies, and more. Winner of the Numismatic Literary Guild's “Best Specialized Book, World Coins” award. Order your copy for $16.95 at , or call 1-800-546-2995.


Here is the press release for Alan Workman's second literature sale. Check out the catalog. -Editor

Workmans Book logo

Workman's Books announces its second bid sale is LIVE!

Rare and Vintage Books, Magazines, and Auction Catalogs relating to Buried and Sunken Treasure Sale, closing May 11, 2019 | REGISTER TO BID TODAY!

Workman's Books is conducting its second bid sale of rare and out-of-print treasure-related books, auction catalogs, and magazines. The sale will close on Saturday, May 11, 2019 and will include over 550 lots of rare and hard-to-find items on Sunken Treasure, Shipwrecks, Underwater Archaeology, Buried Treasure, Metal Detecting, and many other topics.

Lots 511 and 517

This bid sale is being held through the online venue iCollector, and all registrations, approvals, and bids will be handled there. For this bid sale the lots will be closing on a timed interval with extensions for any bids placed within 5 seconds of closing. If you already have an iCollector account, you still must "GET APPROVED" to bid for each sale by entering and confirming your information for this bid sale, like reviewing your shipping information and choosing your preferred way of payment. Remember, tie bids go to the earliest bidders, so don't wait for the lots to close to bid on anything for which you have a strict number in mind.

Now is the perfect time to register for the bid sale, as any registration issues can certainly be accommodated more easily in advance. Do not wait to register the last day. Registration and bidding online are always FREE (no extra fees or percentages for bidding online). Once you are registered and automatically approved, first be sure to bookmark the items that interest you. Click here to go to the SALE.

Teasure Ship Brother Jonathan Treasure Ship ss new York
Lots 218 and 219

Some Featured items in the sale...

Session 1 Featured Items

Lot 9 Gawronski: Hollandia Compendium
Lot 227 Coffman: Atlas of Treasure Maps
Lot 242 Fisher: (Signed) Treasure Coast 1985 - Units of Limited Partner Interest
Lot 260 Lyon: (Signed) The Search for the Atocha inscribed by Lyons, Mel & Deo Fisher
Lot 336 Wagner: (Signed) Pieces of Eight: Recovering the Riches of a Lost Spanish Treasure Fleet signed by Real 8 Members

Session 2 Featured Items

Lot 413 National Treasure Hunters League Volumes 1 through 7 including signed letter from Art McKee
Lot 455 Treasure Quest Magazine 1990 through 1998 Issues including Issue Number 1
Lot 511 Douglas Auctioneers. NUESTRA SENORA DE ATOCHA COINS - GOLD
Lot 523 Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc. TREASURE OF THE SPANISH MAIN

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Here's a new title written by two passionate collectors of Belgian gold coins, Hugo Vanhoudt of Belgium and John Saunders of California. Hugo Vanhoudt provided this information. -Editor

Gold Coinage of Ancient to Modern belgium book cover The Gold Coinage of Ancient to Modern belgium
By Hugo Vanhoudt & John Saunders

The full color edition in hardcover is limited to only 500 copies and so first ordered, first served.

This book gives a complete overview of all the gold coins produced on the territory of present-day Belgium, from the Celts to 2019.

A description of 627 coins including special issues, with details of their obverse, reverse, edge, weight, fineness and rarity, and prices per date for different grades.

122 pages (29.7 × 21.0 cm) fully illustrated in colour, hardcover.

ISBN 978-94-9277-121-6

Price: 10 euro, while stock of this first limited edition lasts.

Packaging and postage: 10 euro (within Belgium), 20 euro (within Europe).

To order, please send E-mail to Hugo Vanhoudt:

From the introduction by John Saunders:

It is with great pleasure that I write the introduction to The Gold Coins of Belgium. Both because this book is much needed and because it deals with such a fascinating coinage. I have been enthralled with collecting coins of the Low Countries for a number of years. The change in control from the Celts, to the Merovingians, to the Burgondians, to the Spanish, to the Austrians and finally as an independent country makes for a wonderful selection of denominations and designs. Additionally there are the coinage of several brief periods of independence, and the very interesting issuances by the defenders during various sieges as the powers of Europe fought for the control of this very strategic real estate which is today Belgium.

The scope of the book covers all gold issuing entities that are within today's borders of Belgium, from Celtic times to the present. Like most human endeavors, this book has a foundation in the works of Numismatic authors of the past. A number of books have covered part of this material, but most are out of date and none have covered the entire field of Belgian Gold Coins. Delmonte did a great job of covering much of this material, but his book is from 1964. There have been a number of new coins discovered, or should I say rediscovered, since it was published. Also new information about rarity has become available. Hugo Vanhoudt's opus on the Spanish, Austrian and Netherlands coinage contains much up to date information on these parts of this coinage, but does not cover Celtic, Merovingian or modern coinage.

For the collectors of gold coins, this is a much easier book to use, as the gold coins in Vanhoudt's are interspersed between the gold and silver coins. While, the knowledge of the language in which a numismatic book is written is not essential to its usefulness, the English text of this book will ease usage for those to whom Flemish is not their native language. After much discussion, it was decided to include valuations within the text of the book, which we hope will be useful for both collectors and dealers.

Some of these coins are quite rare or even unique, however others are surprisingly affordable. Many of the modern coins are available for a modest premium to gold value, and a number of very beautiful medieval coins are available for several thousand Euros or less.

A feature of Low Countries coinage that I find fascinating are the coins that are struck with the designs, weight and fineness of English coins. Today, one can spend Euros in the United Kingdom, but at a discount to cover the recipients' need to exchange. Largely because of the wool trade, clever Belgians of times past produced nobles, angels and other coins with the same design as the home country coins, but with different legends. As most people were illiterate at the time, the coins passed at no discount, saving the travelers and merchants the exchange premium. Coins were also issued with the designs and standards of Italy, France and other countries.

John Saunders


This book has been out for a few years, but I don't think we've covered it before. Here's the product information form Amazon. -Editor

The Animal Victoria Cross book cover The Animal Victoria Cross: The Dickin Medal
by Peter Hawthrone

Sixty-three animals have won the Dickin Medal, the highest award for animal bravery. Their inspiring stories are told, for the first time in one book, The Animal Victoria Cross. Four types of animal have been honored, dogs, horses, pigeons and one cat. Simon, the feline, is credited with saving an entire ship's crew. Canine breeds include Alsatians, Terriers, Collies and Spaniels. The majority of awards were related to war service and the conflicts include the Second World War, Korea, Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. The Al-Qaeda attack on the Twin Towers as well as the Blitz saw great courage exhibited by animals such as Rip, the dog who saved many lives. In addition to British animals, there are American, Canadian, Australian and Egyptian winners of this unique award. Animal lovers everywhere will treasure this delightful book. It is ideal to ‘dip' into or read from cover to cover.

For more information, or to order, see:
The Animal Victoria Cross: The Dickin Medal (

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Owen Linzmayer publishes The Banknote Book, a useful, constantly updated electronic reference. On April 19, 2019 he announced via email the availability of the chapter on the banknotes of Bulgaria. -Editor

Banknote Book Bulgariacover We're very pleased to announce that the Bulgaria chapter is now available for individual sale and as a free download to subscribers. Special thanks goes out to co-author Tristan Williams, who previously co-authored the Austria, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, and German-Austria chapters.

Bulgaria (Europe)
This 64-page catalog covers notes issued by the Bulgarian National Bank from 1885 to present, and the Thrace Interallied Administration in 1919. Published 19.04.2019.

Currently 277 chapters of The Banknote Book have been published as individual high-resolution PDF files. This represents a total of 5,529 pages covering 50,997 types and varieties.

For more information on The Banknote Book, see:


The Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists reports a new acquisition for the John Burns Memorial Reference Library. -Editor

Highfill donation
LEFT: John Highfill. RIGHT: Ed Krivoniak, Burns Library Curator

The John Burns Reference Library was a popular gathering spot during the recent American Numismatic Association National Money Show held the last weekend of March in Pittsburgh PA. The donation container yielded $155. This may not seem to be very much money but it helps PAN, the library manager, with library up-keep costs and supplies.

Author John Highfill donated a copy of his two-volume set of The Comprehensive U.S. Silver Dollar Encyclopedia. The 2017 latest edition is 1,566 pages of images, charts, graphs and information covering the early Flowing Hair coins, Draped Bust, Gobrecht, Seated Liberty, Morgan, Trade and ending with the Peace Dollar series.

John Highfill (past National Silver Dollar Roundtable President) and his wife Marlene (current NSDR Secretary) are often seen manning the National Silver Dollar Roundtable booth at the major national coin shows across the country. NMS show was no exception. Their booth was next to the Burns Library at the National Money Show. They were both impressed with the traveling library concept that offers a space to sit, relax and browse through the 400+ volumes of numismatic books during the coin show.

John Highfill is also an ANA Governor and is currently running for re-election. His book is available for sale through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, eBay Books. It is also available in digital form. For more information email:

If you are a numismatic book author and would like to donate a copy of your book to the Burns Library please send to:

1985 Lincoln Way
Suite 23 #225
White Oak PA 15131

In return we will create an article about your book and your kindness in supporting the Burns Library. If you are attending a show where the library is set up then we would be glad to take a promo photo that will be placed on the PAN website and in the award winning PAN eNEWS.

For more information on the John Burns Reference Library, see:
John Burns Memorial Reference Library (

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The latest addition to the Newman Numismatic Portal is a collection of U.S. Mint coinage die records. Project Coordinator Len Augsburger provided the following report. Thanks. -Editor

1839BranchMintdies1839to1854_0002 One of the fundamental questions in American numismatic research relates to coinage die production and usage within the U.S. series. Since the 1850s, collectors have avidly pursued U.S. coins by die marriage, beginning with the early copper coins and today more extensively. Most of this work has been done by examining the coins directly, as the Mint has never centralized the related records.

Imagine if this information had been cleanly preserved by the Mint – the Red Book might have listed die counts along with mintage records from the beginning, and the hunt would be on to find the coins. As it is, researchers must ferret out the information from multiple locations within the National Archives & Records Administration, and even then our knowledge is not complete.

To the rescue comes Roger Burdette, who has gathered together the known archival data, consolidating research from Bob Julian and others to do so. This is now available on Newman Portal. Although not 100% comprehensive, as much of the data was probably never recorded to begin with; die variety researchers of 19th century coinage in particular will find useful information to complement to their investigation of the actual coins.

Image: New Orleans die records for 1854, from the 1839-1854 branch Mint die register

Link to U.S. Mint coinage die records on Newman Portal:

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David Lange offers these thoughts on the digitization of back issues of commercial numismatic publications. Thanks. -Editor

I imagine most readers of The E-Sylum have been following the misfortunes of F+W Media, the parent company of Krause Publications. With most of the editorial talent having already retired and recent reports of impending layoffs, the future doesn't look good for some long-running numismatic periodicals. Though this is bad news for the hobby in a general sense, there may be something of a silver lining to it.

I visit the Newman Numismatic Portal frequently, and I'm always frustrated that my searches turn up page after page of "Restricted" articles from commercial publications. There is an immense amount of valuable research material within the back issues of Coin World, Numismatic News, Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine, Coins Magazine, etc. The publishers of these periodicals are loathe to give away for free material that could be scanned and put online for a subscription fee, but what is the likelihood of that ever happening? In a time when staffs and budgets are shrinking, how can these publications commit resources to scanning tens of thousands of pages? It's unlikely that there would be enough paid subscribers to justify this use of resources, so these back issues remain as inaccessible as they were before the internet.

Numismatic news introductory issue If KP does go out of business or simply suspends its numismatic publications, there may no longer be an impediment to putting its several titles online. Even if the company does not have complete hard copy files of all issues, there are people in the hobby who are willing and able to fill in the gaps. The NNP staff is capable of performing the scanning, so there's little cost to the publisher beyond letting go of its mythical revenue stream. All that is needed is permission from F+W/KP to put the material online. While the KP drama is still playing out, this remains a tantalizing prospect.

As for the other commercial publishers who are holding onto their back files as potential sources of revenue, they must ask themselves whether they will ever be in a position to provide the manpower and other resources to make this a reality. As the field of numismatic journalism continues to evolve, I believe that is ever more unlikely.

The Newman Portal will not publish copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright owner. In the case of the vast majority of publications on NNP the copyright holders (most of whom are nonprofit specialty groups) have graciously allowed the use of their back issues. The outpouring of support from the hobby has been tremendous - U.S. clubs that do not participate are the exception rather than the rule. Participating clubs do it to assist researchers as well as their own members, and to have a presence that can attract new members to their organization - each page on the portal is like a free ad for the publisher.

While we're all hopeful that buyers can be found for the Krause books and periodicals, even if publication were to stop, someone is likely to end up owning rights to the back catalog - whoever has the winning bid for the assets in bankruptcy court. That owner could decide to allow NNP to publish the material. Or not.

I would note that digitization of the material itself is only a small part of the cost of making older material available. In order to monetize the asset software systems are required to manage a web site, handle accounts and password issues, collect payments, etc. As Dave noted, the potential revenue could be small in relation to the expense. All the more reason to allow outdated material to be used freely by the hobby.

A number of years ago David Hall acquired online rights to the back issues of David Bowers' catalogs and publications such as Rare Coin Review. Thus NNP could not include readable versions of that material. As noted recently, the current management of Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) did agree to allow NNP to display the material as a goodwill gesture to the hobby. -Editor

At the time, Brett Charville, president of PCGS, commented:

"PCGS has received many requests to make this material available to the collecting community. Collector education is an important aspect of our business and we are pleased to add this content to the collective memory of our hobby. We welcome continued feedback from the community and appreciate their input on all aspects of our operation."

NNP Project Coordinator Len Augsburger adds:

Newman Portal endeavors to secure permission to present full-view documents whenever possible. In some cases, we consider the content significant enough that we will scan it on a search-only basis. This at least allows NNP users to know that a resource exists, even if they cannot immediately access it. We are currently scanning Bank Note Reporter on this basis. We are similarly interested in Numismatic News, and, if an E-Sylum reader has access to a full run, we'd love to discuss further.

To read earlier E-Sylum articles, see:

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Here's a video produced by David Lisot at a 2011 Whitman Baltimore Coin Expo, where he interviews the founder of Krause Publications, Chet Krause. -Editor

Krause, Chet.Still004 Another great numismatic video has surfaced that will be posted on the Newman Numismatic Portal. In 2011 at the Whitman Expo in Baltimore David Lisot interviewed CHET KRAUSE. Chet had retired from from his leadership at Krause Publications and talks about his new days with the daily grind of being in charge of the printing megalith he had created.

Chet talks about his retirement, how he spends his time, his accomplishments on the ANA Board, his travels, how he had a headache for two years, and much more.

The entire interview is available on the Newman Numismatic Portal at

An excerpt of the video is available for viewing on the Coin Television YouTube Channel at:

Numismatic Personality: Chester “Chet” Krause March 2011.
VIDEO: 13:06
David Lisot, Interviewer,


Maria Fanning forwarded this video by John Gatt about his great new book Coins Minted by the Knights in Malta. Kolbe & Fanning have the book in stock. -Editor

Coins Minted by the Knights in Malta

To watch the complete video, see:
"Coins Minted by the Knights in Malta" by John A Gatt" (

For more information on the book, see:

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More on the Frank Dupee Coin Shop
Frank Dupee Stamps and Coins Regarding our earlier discussion of a postcard picturing dealer Frank Dupee's coin shop, Robert Esposito writes:

The postcard or photo, is of 266 George St, New Haven CT, approximately 1964/1965, just before the Knights of Columbus building was to be erected on that site. The car, to the left of Frank Dupee's coin dealership in New Haven is most likely Luis Lassen's 1956 Chevrolet, parked next to his business everyday, where we stopped every once in a while with my dad, after stopping at Frank Dupees, where I purchased pennies for my little collection as a young boy, & those, were GREAT days !

"Loui's Lunch"...famous cheese burgers, relocated to Crown St when the Knights of Columbus building was being built, where it still remains today.

The car is seen at the far left of the photo, with just part of its front grille visible. Thanks. This has been an interesting topic. It's fun to see how the facts accumulate as more readers chime in. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:

Gimbels Coin Department Ephemera
Dave Lange writes:

This is just a quick note to transmit images of a recent purchase. I've long wanted an original letter composed and signed by Robert Friedberg, and I bought one on eBay with a Gimbel's catalog. The two were sent to a customer in 1948, along with a less interesting pamphlet titled Short History of Numismatics.

Friedberg Letter Gimbels Catalog

Friedberg ran coin departments for the Gimbels department store chain. Thanks for sharing! As always, readers can click on an image to get to higher-resolution versions. -Editor

To read an earlier E-Sylum article, see:

Books on Lindbergh's Medals
Scott Miller writes:

Regarding the exhibition of Lindbergh's medals, the Missouri Historical Society has issued a number of books on the subject. The two that I have are Decorations and Trophies Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh (full title - Illustrations of Colonel Lindbergh's Decorations and Some of His Trophies Received Within the Year Following His Trans-Atlantic Flight of May 20-21, 1927 compiled by Nettie H. Beauregard and The Lindbergh Collection by John H. Lindenbusch, 1977.

Thank you. Harry Waterson did provide me with information on one of these references, but I wasn't able to include it in last week's issue. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

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Bob Van Arsdell submitted these notes inspired by last week's mention of a book titled Lapidarium Septentrionale: or a Description of the Monuments of Roman Rule in Northern England. Thanks. -Editor

I've occasionally used my own copy of the Lapidarium in numismatic studies, so I appreciated seeing John Collingwood Bruce's copy. There's a link to numismatic work lurking in the background here...

John Clayton A friend and collaborator of Bruce's, John Clayton financed some of the 19th century work on Hadrian's Wall. In time, he came to own and conserve several of the forts along its length. In 1859, Clayton published an obscure, but important numismatic article about the Wall.

When early travelers explored the Wall in the 1700s, they found many dedicatory inscriptions mentioning the emperor Septimius Severus. By 1800, most antiquarians believed Severus was the original builder, and the Wall came to be known as "Severus' Wall". This all came into question when a quarryman found a Roman bronze purse full of coins near the site of a Roman quarry.

The coin hoard "closed" with unworn denarii of the Emperor Hadrian (the newest coins in the hoard). It became clear to Clayton that the purse had been buried around the time the quarry went out of use – when it would be safe to hide money because the workmen had moved off the site. Clayton realized the quarry must have been in use during the reign of Hadrian, not Severus. He published the coin write-up in Archaeologia Aeliana in 1859.

This touched off a fifty-year debate over which emperor had built the Wall. Eventually, it was determined that the work of Severus was only a reconstruction and refurbishment of the earlier work of Hadrian. The Wall thus became "Hadrian's Wall". As late as 1900 one Wall scholar was still prepared to drop a "bombshell" and declare the Wall the work of Severus. Readers can see the "bombshell" letter on my website: .

I think Clayton's article helps illustrate the interplay of Numismatics, Archaeology and History. Some of the most important numismatic work isn't written by numismatists and doesn't appear in numismatic books.

First page of Clayton's 1859 article The Hadrian denarii from Clayton's 1859 article

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

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Vic Mason of Mamaroneck, NY submitted these nice comments on an earlier E-Sylum  article about the U.S. Mint's plan to intentionally manufacture rarities to stimulate collecting. -Editor

Earlier I had responded to, and praised, the account of Patrick Heller who attended the 17 October 2018 forum in Washington, DC, about future US Mint activities with David Ryder. You published my response one week later. That forum was the occasion when Mr. Ryder first raised the idea of minting a circulating rarity for this year. Many proposals had come up at the forum about how to try to make coin collecting more interesting for young people.

You commented about how to effectively implement such a program and distribute the new circulating rarity at the end of our exchange.

Here's the remark Vic is referring to, followed by his further commentary. -Editor

"I agree that the magic of the proposal is in relatively rare business-strike coins released to circulation. The 50 State Quarter Series was a great boon to collecting in this country, but it checked only two of those boxes - the coins are not rare, and after the initial public frenzy, premiums over face evaporated. A coin of 1909-S VDB rarity (common in absolute terms at nearly half a million, but rare in relation to its peers) would far more likely develop and retain a premium.

"The devil is always in the details of implementation. Where in the supply chain would the coins be introduced? If mixed into bins at the Mints there could be multiple points where "the big boys" could purchase supplies in bulk and find the coins before the public does; there would also be no guarantee of even nationwide geographical distribution, as the majority would naturally flow to population centers due to the needs of daily commerce; and in a recession the coins could pile up in warehouses until needed again.

"At the other end of the supply pipeline are bank branches and retail establishments. A "coin drop" style program could ensure wide distribution but requires an army of foot soldiers, each one of whom could succumb to the temptation of palming a few rarities.

"So what's the answer? Perhaps a trusted team within the Federal Reserve could insert the coins into the commerce stream in each of the twelve districts. But regardless of the implementation plan chosen, I think it's a concept well worth trying. -Editor"

2019-america-the-beautiful-quarters-W Congratulations on having the United States Mint follow your idea about distributing the new “W” quarters nationwide via all the Federal Reserve banks and then via numerous sub-district banks. Paul Gilkes's page 1 article in the 22 April 2019 edition of Coin World, entitled “Five West Point Mint Quarters Planned,” lays out the plan of the Mint to maximize fairness in the random geographical distribution of those ten million 2019 quarters on five new national-park themes.

It appears that the first two “W” quarters are being mixed into bags of only brand-new coins. That is making it relatively easy for sharp-eyed collectors (or bank employees and their friends?) to cherry-pick the “W” quarters from the bags of new coins. Coin World reports this week that the new “W” quarters are already being offered on eBay for up to $75 and $100 each. I believe the Mint will learn from this experimental distribution plan for the first two 2019 quarter designs that it will have to dilute the next three “W” releases into a much larger used-coin population, in order to prevent the widespread and over-rapid cherry-picking of the new “W” quarters from circulation. That could be laborious and time-consuming but it's necessary. The hunt for the new scarce coins should be more like searching for a needle in a haystack than like shooting fish in a barrel.

But the distribution plan for the first two new “W” quarter designs is valuable for kicking off, with a bang, the promise of US Mint Director David Ryder last year to put new rarities into circulation this year. Kudos to Mr. Ryder for thinking like a coin collector in understanding that the excitement and passion of American coin-collecting (and stamp-collecting) has always been about finding treasures in the marketplace costing the small collector little or nothing. That's how generations of American kids and their parents, most of them poor but ambitious, got hooked on those two wonderful hobbies over the past two centuries.

I hope this great new program launched under Mr. Ryder's wise leadership leads to a rebirth of interest in coin-collecting by American families, especially in renewed curiosity by the American public for (1) accumulating affordable sets of old type coins, (2) founding new coin shops nationwide, and (3) expanding current coin clubs and founding new ones. I would expect that there will soon be a sharp uptick (a boom?) in attendance at coin shows everywhere as bright-eyed school kids -- the intended beneficiaries -- tug their parents into places bubbling with energy and enthusiasm over the Mint's new-coin program. That can only be good for the fortunes of many coin dealers.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

Thanks, Vic. I'm not sure I can really take credit for the Mint's ultimate action, but we do have readers at the Mint and on the Citizen's Coinage Advisory Committee. I'm also not sure if the specific Coin World article Vic mentions is online, but here's a related article from April 19, 2019. -Editor

The surprise announcement on April 2 by United States Mint officials that the West Point Mint was striking 2019-W America the Beautiful quarter dollars for circulation caught many collectors off guard, though officials last year had publicly discussed the possibility of “circulating rarities” for the new year.

The first coins are already in circulation and are being found by collectors and dealers, and some of these first pieces are bringing substantial premiums.

The 2019-W quarter dollars will be available only in circulation quality and all will be released into circulation through Federal Reserve Banks.

Future West Point Mint releases will also be mixed with the coins from the Philadelphia and Denver Mints.

To read the complete article, see:
Collectors start finding 2019-W quarters, and some are profiting (

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We've discussed celebrity coin collectors in the past. One of the latest is actor Shawn Pyfrom. Here's an announcement published April 12, 2019 by NGC. -Editor

2019-W Lowell Quarter obverse 2019-W Lowell Quarter reverse

The first 2019-W Quarter certified by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation® (NGC®) was found by actor Shawn Pyfrom, best known for his recurring role on ABC's popular "Desperate Housewives" series.

The US Mint recently announced that 10 million quarters with the “W” mint mark of the West Point Mint would be released into circulation at random. These are the first quarters to feature a “W” mint mark and they are comparatively rare—less than 1% of all 2019-dated quarters will have the “W” mint mark.

Five different 2019-W Quarter designs will be released this year as part of the America the Beautiful Quarters Series. Each design will have a mintage of just 2 million pieces with the “W” mint mark.

The release of the first 2019-W Quarter design, which commemorates Lowell National Historical Park in Massachusetts, coincides with 96th annual National Coin Week, held the third week of April. This year, a group of coin dealers created the Great American Coin Hunt promotion to draw further attention to National Coin Week and the coin collecting hobby.

Pyfrom had learned about the valuable 2019-W Quarters only a day before he found one in his change from a coffee shop in Burbank, California.

Shawn Pyfrom with first-w-quarter “I had just heard about the Great American Coin Hunt and these ‘W' quarters the day before,” said Pyfrom, 32. “I heard they were not in circulation yet, so I was thrilled to find one!”

Pyfrom brought the coin to a local dealer, who immediately sent it to NGC for certification. NGC then confirmed that the coin was the first 2019-W Quarter that it had received. The coin is now graded NGC MS 67 and encapsulated with a label noting its significance: “First Certified” and “Great American Coin Hunt.” (All submissions of 2019-W Quarters will automatically be attributed with the "Great American Coin Hunt" pedigree.)

“This is a really exciting time in numismatics” said Rick Montgomery, NGC President and Grading Finalizer. “Mr. Pyfrom's find shows that the US Mint is getting more people to look at their change, and that can only be a positive for numismatics.”

To read the complete article, see:
Actor Finds Valuable 2019-W Quarter, Submits it to NGC (

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A local television station filmed a report from inside the West Point Mint. Check it out. -Editor

West Point Mint gold bars About an hour and a half's drive north from New York City lies a treasure -- the gold kind. But it's not one that you can go and find.

In fact, you can't get anywhere near it. Because this treasure belongs to the United States Treasury.

Nearly a quarter of the U.S. government's gold sits beneath a windowless building on the campus at West Point.

"We've got approximately 54 million ounces here that we store, which is about 22% of the nation's gold," Ellen McCollum says from her office.

McCollum is the Superintendent of the West Point Mint; a facility built the same year as Fort Knox and originally housed the nation's silver.

Most of that silver was sold off and now, the latest treasury department numbers show West Point is second only to Fort Knox in the amount of government gold in its vaults.

FOX 5 NY was granted rare access -- supervised of course -- to one of their highly secure vaults.

In that one vault, there are 2,600 bars of gold bullion. At today's market value, each bar is worth about $500,000. That means that in that one vault, there is about $1.3 billion worth of gold, and that's not counting the silver.

West Point Mint employee examining coin Collectibles are really the bread and butter of the West Point Mint. They strike coins and bullion made of precious metals (hence all the gold) and what's known as numismatic, or rare and collectible coins.

Coins like the American Buffalo, 24 Karat, one-ounce pure gold proof coin; on sale for about $1600. Asked if the $50 mark on the coin makes it legal tender, production manager Jennifer Butkus jokes, "It is legal tender. You'd be a fool, but yes."

West Point is also striking the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Gold Coin. Approved by Congress, it's only the second time the Mint has ever produced a curved coin. On the front (or obverse in mint lingo) is man's footprint on the lunar surface.

On the back (or reverse) is an homage to that famous photo taken by Neil Armstrong on the surface of the moon. Buzz Aldrin's shadow reflected off his visor, the lunar module and Armstrong himself. Already iconic, it's now immortalized.

"To me, we're making history," production supervisor Jeff Odom says, "This is something we can show our grandkids and say 'hey, we were a part of this.'"

To read the complete article (and watch the video), see:
A rare look inside the West Point Mint's massive gold vaults and coin operations (

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Dick Johnson submitted these entries from his Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Terminology. Thanks. -Editor

1937 Lovers medal by Robert I. Aitken
Lovers by Robert I. Aitken, 1937 (image courtesy Paul Bosco)

Concordant. The relationship of a medal's reverse to its obverse, where the reverse is the back of what the obverse would be, as if the medal were sculpture in-the-round. A recent example is a Lincoln Medal for the Lincoln Memorial University by Albert d'Andrea (71-139); another is the Society of Medalists Issue #15, Love by Robert I. Aitken (30-1-15).

Book lovers should be word lovers as well.

Looking for the meaning of a numismatic word, or the description of a term?  Try the Newman Numismatic Portal's Numismatic Dictionary at:

Or if you would like a printed copy of the complete Encyclopedia, it is available. There are 1,854 terms, on 678 pages, in The Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology. Even running two a week would require more than 19 years to publish them all. If you would like an advance draft of this vital reference work it may be obtained from the author for your check of $50 sent postpaid. Dick Johnson, 139 Thompson Drive, Torrington, CT 06790.


This week's biography from John Lupia (the next article in this issue) celebrates a numismatic researcher and bibliophile who donated 275 books to the library of the American Numismatic Society. For the bibliophiles among us Jim McNerney of Pittsburgh, PA forwarded this week's entries from the A.Word.A.Day blog by Anu Garg, all relating to the topic of books. Thanks! -Editor

noun: A compilation of excerpts; anthology.

If you think of compiling an anthology as arranging flowers in a bouquet, you wouldn't be far off: the word comes to us from Greek anthos (flower). Florilegium is the Latin equivalent, from flor (flower). Both words have also been applied to a collection of flowers or a collection of writing about flowers.

“I was intrigued to find a florilegium of Romantic poetry tucked under a pot of hide glue and was about to settle in to read when I heard a roar of outrage.”

To read the complete article, see:

bouquiniste or bouquinist
noun: A dealer in old and used books.

From French bouquiniste, from bouquin (a colloquial word for a book, little book, or old book). Earliest documented use: 1840.

“Heywood Hill's boxes of books, with their blue-and-white address labels, still offer year-round bounty to customers all over the world, but competition from Amazon, an online bookseller, has forced the fashionable bouquiniste to reinvent itself. Under its new owner, Mitford's nephew the Duke of Devonshire, it has quietly become a leading purveyor of bespoke libraries.”

To read the complete article, see:

bibliotaph or bibliotaphe
bibliotaph wall of books MEANING:
noun: One who hoards books.

From Greek biblio- (book) + taphos (tomb), which also gave us cenotaph Earliest documented use: 1823.

“A more pertinent example of the morbid bibliotaph is recorded by Blades; this was the late Sir Thomas Phillipps, of Middle Hill, who acquired *bibliographical treasures simply to bury them*. He bought books by the library, crammed his mansion with them, and *never even saw what he had bought*.”

To read the complete article, see:

1. One with extreme devotion to books.

“Well trained in the best American scholarly library, and a true bibliolater, [Danile Willard Fiske] was equally well equipped to establish Cornell's Library.”

To read the complete article, see:

1581 pandect cover MEANING:
1. A complete body of the laws of a country, organization, etc.
2. A comprehensive treatise on a subject.

From Latin pandectes (encyclopedia), from Greek pandektes (all-receiving), from pan- (all) + dektes (receiver), from dekhesthai (to receive).

Originally, the Pandects (also known as the Digest), was a 50-volume compendium of Roman laws, compiled under the emperor Justinian during CE 530-533.

“Families were told that students at the near 100-percent African-American elementary school would not be allowed to ‘wear outlandish hairstyles in school,' as mandated by the improved Saint Rose manual on student pandect.”

To read the complete article, see:

I'm not sure if I've encountered ANY of these words before. There's a subtle difference between bibliophile and bibliotaph. Most of us bibliophiles do read and consult our books. But I'll admit to owning my share of books that I've never found time nor reason to crack open. Bibliophiles are optimists - "I'll probably need that someday." We also suffer from FOMO - fear of missing out. "I better get that one - there might be something useful in there..."

One word I expected to see here but didn't is biblioklept. -Editor

noun: A person who steals books.

"Towards the Persons who frequent your Library maintain a courteous Demeanour, but the utmost Vigilance. For as it is your duty to guard well the Books which are the Riches of your Treasury, so you cannot afford to relax those Restrictions which may save you from Despoilment and the most grievous Loss. The Biblioklept or Thief of Books is your eternal Foe.

To read the complete article, see:

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John Lupia submitted the following information from the online draft of his book 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 collector, author and bibliophile Herbert Erlanger of New York City. -Editor

HERBET ERLANGER Passport portrait 1935 Herbert Justin Erlanger (1905-1988), was born on March 31, 1905, at Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany, son of Jewish parents, Justin Erlanger (1874-1908), and his wife.

He received his law degree from the University of Munich, Germany. His dissertation Die absorbierende Confusion bei der Bürgschaft, was published at Bonn in 1929.

He came to America in 1930.

He was a member of the New York Numismatic Club.

He was a New York attorney who handled international distribution of films for the Motion Picture Export Company.

In December 1939, he became ANA Member No. 7786.

On March 31, 1941, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States on his 36th birthday.

In 1942 he enlisted in the U. S. Army and became a 1st Lieutenant, 14th Armored Division.

In 1946 he was awarded a medal by the U. S. Government.

He was a Fellow of the ANS.

He published a series of articles on Franconian counterstamped Nuremberg coins and medals for the ANS.

In 1957, he published : Some German Counterstamps of the late Seventeenth Century and the Standard of the Leipzig Convention.

In the May 1957 issue of The Numismatist, he published "The Franconian Circle : Its Coins and Medals".

In 1960, he published "Medals of Altdorf University" for which he received "Honorable Mention," for the ANA's Heath Literary Awards of 1959.

In 1973, he presented "The Imperial Mint in Nuremberg" at the International Numismatic Congress hosted jointly by the ANS and the Smithsonian. This was published in 1979 as Die Reichsmünzstätte in Nürnberg (Nürnberger Forschungen).

In 1975, he published Origin and Development of the European Prize Medal to the end of the XVIIIth Century.

In 1981, he published his two volume work Nürnberger Medaillen 1806-1981. Die metallene Chronik der ehem. Reichsstadt im Zeitalter industrieller Kultur. (1985)

In 1982, the City of Nuremberg honored him for his work on the history of the city.

He died on February 29, 1988.

He bequeathed 275 books to the ANS Library.

In 1989, Bank Leu, published his catalogue : Sammlung Herbert J. Erlanger

To read the complete article, see:

* * * * *

The entire inventory of the Lupia Numismatic Library is for sale. Individual items will be available before the remaining archives are broken up into parcels sold at philatelic auctions in the U. S. and Hong Kong. Check frequently as dozens of new items with estimates will be posted daily until everything is sold.

All inquiries will be given prompt and courteous attention. Write to: .

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Harvey Stack's blog series focuses on living in a numismatic family. Here is part 42. Thanks, Harvey -Editor

Stack Numismatic Family 1964

In my story of 1966, so far I have told about a number of great sales Stack's held in that year, the growth of the hobby, and the loss of our friend and client Josiah K. Lilly. These and other things led to 1966 being one of our busiest years ever. And one thing that kept me particularly busy was our action against the Office of Gold and Silver Operations (OGSO) to protest their lack of clarity when it came to what could and couldn't be imported into the United States. The suit was brought due to a lack of response from the OGSO to our application to import an extensive collection of gold coins from a client in the Netherlands. We wanted better answers to why we were not able to bring this important collection into the United States and why the OGSO wanted to restrict a portion of the coins without an explanation. By instituting a suit against the unknown regulations, we felt we could at least know the reason for denial, and learn why certain coins were restricted. In order to hear our case, the Treasury Department eventually had to borrow a hearing judge from the Commerce Department.

In late 1965 and early 1966 we spent hours preparing new inventories, marking which coins were highly rare numismatic items, which were known to have low mintages, and other important factors. The papers we helped our attorney prepare contained virtually what our catalog would have included.

At the initial hearing, I represented Stack's as I had personally handled each coin in the collection and could attest that all that I had seen were genuine and not counterfeits. After reviewing the list, I asked the hearing judge to help us get the collection admitted to the United States so we could offer the coins for public auction.

Additionally, I invited several specialists who confirmed that the coins in the collection were scarce or rare numismatic items and should be licensed for import. My specialists included both Stefanellis (curators of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian), Henry Grunthal (curator at the American Numismatic Society) , and some collectors who were familiar with the contents of the collection. The evidence that our side presented was quite complete, and the attorneys for the OGSO were at a loss to refute. When they made their case, it was obvious that they did not have a deep understanding of numismatics and their points were vague and often not based in fact.

During the cross-examination by our attorney the main issue was the criteria that was used by the office or custom house, which had never been published or released. The OGSO implied that they had a committee which determined the rarity of any gold coins to be licensed for import and did not feel they had to explain the formula they were using or each specific denial. The initial hearing concluded with no rulings as the judge instructed the OGSO to bring to the next hearing (to be held in about a month) a clearer and more understandable explanation of how licenses were issued or denied.

Between hearings there was much correspondence and filings submitted to the judge so that the next hearing could be expedited. The basic question that the judge wanted answered concerned what was the formula being used and why was it a secret. The attorneys for the OGSO conferred and tried to explain what the qualifications were that made certain coins not candidates for import. They referred to the laws of 1933-1934 that exempted rare and unusual gold coins from having to be turned in to the government.

The first piece of evidence they presented was the Robert Friedberg book, Gold Coins of the World, published for the first time in 1958. It is a wonderful reference for gold coins. Since many numismatists contributed information and photographs, it was a most valuable source of information, and we were happy to see them using it.

The OGSO stated that it was easy to determine what was rare and unusual and what had collector value by using this book. They further explained that they had a formula to determine when a coin was rare enough to be licensed. Gold was valued at $35 per ounce in 1934 and had remained at that value until at least the 1960s. In order to determine the value of any gold coin, whether small or larger, the gold value at the time was multiplied by four (4x). If a coin had a listed value of at least four times the gold value, they could consider it worthy of being licensed.

So, we finally had an answer, though it made little sense to anyone who knew about numismatic value. Using the formula and basing it on the Friedberg Gold Coins of the World book would only make sense if that book contained complete listings of all dates and mints that made up a series, along with grade and price information for all those coins, which it does not. The book bunched coins together by design and provided an average value to each design and issue.

In my next article I will continue the story of our efforts to force the OGSO to clarify their policies on import licenses and to get approval to bring our Netherlands client's coins to auction.

To read the complete article, see:
Harvey Stack Remembers: Growing Up in a Numismatic Family, Part 42 (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

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Happy Easter. This week brought the annual Maundy Money ceremony. Queen Elizabeth distributed the special coins with her granddaughter, Princess Eugenie. -Editor

Queen Elizabeth II distributing the Maundy money

On the fifth day of Holy Week, The Queen and her granddaughter, Princess Eugenie, have attended the traditional Royal Maundy service in Windsor.

She handed out the Maundy money to 93 men and women - one for each of her 93 years.

The Queen celebrates her birthday this year on Easter Sunday.

The Royal Maundy Service one of the most ancient ceremonies still observed by the Church of England.

Maundy Thursday is the day before Easter when Christians around the world commemorate the Last Supper of Jesus with the Apostles.

The Queen, in a bright yellow outfit on a warm April morning at St George's Chapel, distributed two purses to each recipient.

The red purse contained a £5 coin, which commemorates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria and a 50p coin portraying Sherlock Holmes.

The white purse contained minted Maundy Money coins which equals the number of years of the Monarch's age.

The alms dishes she uses for the Maundy Money date back to the time of King Charles II.

Her first Maundy service as Monarch was at Westminster Abbey in 1952 but it has been held as far north as Carlisle (1978) and as southwest as Truro (1994).

She also held Royal Maundy in Wales at St David's (1982) and in Northern Ireland at Armagh (2008).

To read the complete article, see:
Maundy money handed out by the Queen in traditional service ( provided some more information on the coins themselves. -Editor

Royal Maundy dates back centuries. Some of the specifics of the traditional service have changed but it still involves individuals receiving gifts from the monarch.

"In modern times this has evolved into a tradition of giving a monetary reward in pence equaling the age of the ruling monarch to a number of men and a number of women each equaling in total number the age of the monarch," describes The Royal Mint, who produces the coins.

"The 2019 dated Maundy set consists of four coins with a total value of 10 pence, individually a Fourpence, Threepence, Twopence and One Penny, all with the young head depiction of the Queen engraved by Mary Gillick."

Mary Gillick's effigy of the Queen appeared on the first coins during her reign in 1953. They differ from standard circulating coins like those produced now with the fifth portrait of the monarch.

On Thursday, each of the 186 elderly people, selected in recognition of their service to the Church and local community, received a red and white purse.

2019 Maundy red purse

Every red purse held a 2019 UK £5 coin celebrating the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria's birth and a 2019 UK 50p coin portraying Sherlock Holmes in commemoration of the 160th anniversary of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's birth.

2019 Maundy white purse

White purses included silver Maundy coins with their face values adding up to 93 pence for the Queen's age on Sunday.

To read the complete article, see:
Queen Hands Out Maundy Money at St. George's Chapel (

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Notre Dame medal obverse Notre Dame medal reverse

Ben Weiss writes:

With the rest of the world, I weep for this magnificent cathedral.

Ben included the medal images and this description. -Editor

by Jacques and Charles Wiener: France, 1855, Bronze, 59 mm


Exergue: FONDEE IV SIECLE. RECONSTRUITE 1160 PAR L'EVEQUE MAURICE DE SULLY. TERMINEE SOUS PHILIPPE AUGUSTE. AUMENTEE SOUS ST LOUIS ET DE SES SUCCESSEURS JUSQU' A 1300. LA RESTAURATION COMMENCEE 1845. VIOLLET-LEDUC ET LASSUS ARCHIT. (Founded IV century. Reconstructed 1160 by the Bishop Maurice de Sully. Completed under Philippe Auguste. Augmented under St Louis and his successors until 1300. The restoration begun 1845 by Viollet-le-Duc and J.-B Lassus, Architects)

Rev: View of interior

Signed: J. ET CH. WIENER F.

Ref: Van Hoydonck 122; Eidlitz 176/1044a; Reinecke 40; Weiss BW252

Begun in 1160 and largely completed more than a century later, the early Gothic cathedral of Notre Dame is situated on the Ile de la Cite in Paris. It is a fine example of Gothic architecture, noted for its flying buttresses, which were a technical advance providing support, and for the rose window in the west facade. One of the most daring constructions of its time, it has a wide nave and double ambulatory. The west facade was imitated in many French churches.

This magnificent cathedral was built on the ruins of previous churches going back at least to the fourth century.


I too was shocked and saddened by the fire at Notre Dame. I've never even been to Paris, but I felt the loss just the same. An April 17, 2019 Coin Update article by April 17, 2019 By Michael Alexander describes silver fundraising coins and medals offered by the Monnaie de Paris to to aid reconstruction efforts.

Monnaie de Paris Notre Dame products

The Monnaie de Paris has launched new silver coins and base metal medallions which are offered for sale to aid in the reconstruction of one of the world's greatest landmarks. The series of events on the 15th April shocked the world as news reports and videos showed, what, for many was unthinkable — the day Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris caught fire and burned into the night. Preliminary reports have offered the encouraging information that the 850-year-old structure is still sound and can be renovated over what is expected to be a lengthy period of time.

The Notre-Dame Cathedral of Paris, is, quite simply, the heart and soul of the nation of France. Built more than eight hundred years ago, today it welcomes each year more than 13 million visitors from all over the world and is the most visited monument in Europe. On the 15th April 2019, a terrible fire destroyed part of the cathedral. The Monnaie de Paris is associated with the reconstruction of this important cultural icon, and it is, without a doubt, a witness to the history of France.

To read the complete article, see:
Notre-Dame Cathedral: Tragic fire prompts Monnaie de Paris to offer silver fundraising coins and medals to aid reconstruction efforts (

Here are some related articles of interest to restoration efforts.

Notre Dame digital scan

The devastating blaze at the 850-year-old cathedral in Paris is now under control. The fact that its interior and exterior have been digitally 3D-mapped means the iconic building could be restored to its former glory.

The scans: An exact digital replica of the building was captured by a (now deceased) architectural historian, Andrew Tallon, in 2015. He used lasers to map the entire cathedral, measuring the time the laser takes to reach the target and return to create a very precise image.

To read the complete article, see:
This digital scan of Notre Dame offers hope for its restoration after the fire (

Even a video game might help.

Notre Dame Assasin's Creed

Notre-Dame is personal to Durand. He's the historian in charge of overseeing historical representations in the blockbuster "Assassin's Creed" franchise, and he spent four years overseeing the creation of "Assassin's Creed Unity" — a game set during the French Revolution that contains a stunningly accurate depiction of Notre-Dame Cathedral as its centerpiece.

"I think a lot of my colleagues joined me in that same feeling where we didn't know how to react precisely," he said. "Our first thought wasn't on 'Assassin's Creed Unity' until we started seeing the reaction from the fans who started playing again and sharing reactions on social networks. That really surprised us."

In the following days, the French game developer and publisher behind the "Assassin's Creed" games, Ubisoft, pledged half a million Euros to rebuilding efforts.

The company also offered its expertise, which makes a lot of sense: Two Ubisoft staffers spent "over 5,000 hours" researching Notre-Dame Cathedral, inside and out.

"Back then we really relied on pictures — photos, videos — of modern day Notre-Dame," Durand said. Ubisoft does have "a huge database" of information on the cathedral, and that could no doubt help in the rebuilding effort, but Durand is skeptical that the French government will come asking.

"I'd be very surprised if the architects that will work on the spire will actually engage us in participating," he said.

To read the complete article, see:
As France rebuilds Notre-Dame Cathedral, the French studio behind 'Assassin's Creed' is offering up its 'over 5,000 hours' of research on the 800-year-old monument (

Helpful and hopeful history of the cathedral's renovations over the centuries.

France Notre Dame Fire

To read the complete article, see:
Notre Dame's history is 9 centuries of change, renovation and renewal (

NA Sale 63 Front Cover


Here's an updated press release for the upcoming Sedwick auction, with additional highlights. All of the items are now listed online, so visit the auction site for details. -Editor

A rare, early Argentinean gold coin in a remarkably high grade is coming up for auction May 2-3 as part of Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC's Treasure, World, US Coin & Paper Money Auction 25.


The top coin lot is an Argentina gold 8 escudos struck in 1832 at the La Rioja mint. The coin exhibits an overdate of 1832/1 and is graded by NGC as MS 62, a rare grade for the type. It is pedigreed to numismatist George Gund III's collection. The obverse of the coin depicts a sunface, a common design found in post-colonial Latin American coinage. The coin, as lot 80 in the sale, is estimated at $20,000 and up.

The sale will also host a number of ingots recovered from famous shipwrecks. One such ingot is lot 194: a large gold bar from the Tumbaga wreck which sank around 1528 off Grand Bahama Island. The bar weighs 1.816 kilograms and contains 9 karat gold with a balance of silver, copper, and other trace metals. The early Spanish colonial bar also bears the tax stamps of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. It is estimated at $35,000 to $50,000.

Tumbaga gold bar

Another gold bar and four silver ingots from the wreck of the Atocha, sunk in 1622 off Key West, Florida, are also available for bidding. The largest silver bar, lot 208, weighs 92 troy pounds, 3.84 troy ounces and features markings from the owner, Arriola, and the assayer, Mexia. The bar is accompanied by the original salvager's certificate as well as stock certificates originally issued for the salvage company. The estimate on the bar is $30,000 and up.

The gold bar from the Atocha, as lot 196, weighs 622 grams and has a gold fineness of 20-1/4 karats. Its long, thin shape led to its modern day nickname of “finger” bar. The surface of the bar shows markings for the fineness, foundry, owner, and seven tax stamps. The lot also includes the original salvager's certificate. The ingot is estimated by the auction firm at $25,000 to $37,500.

Atocha gold bar

Shipwreck coins will make a big showing in the auction. In a rare occasion, a pair of gold Seville, Spain cob 2 escudos, one each from the Atocha and its sister ship Santa Margarita that sank at the same time, will appear in the sale. The Atocha 2 escudos, lot 64, is dated 1617 and estimated at $7,000 to $10,000. The Santa Margarita 2 escudos, lot 65, bears a partial date from the 1620s and is estimated at $6,000 to $9,000.

Another shipwreck artifact of historical importance is lot 1535: a 22-karat, 42” long gold chain from the “Cabin wreck” site of the 1715 Fleet. The fleet sank on July 31, 1715 off the east coast of Florida during a hurricane while carrying treasure to Spain. On July 21, 1964, the chain was recovered and documented by the salvage company Real Eight Company. Supporting documents attesting to the find and where it was located at the wrecksite are included with the chain. The estimate on the lot is $20,000 and up.

Other top lots in the sale include:

- Lot 8: Lima, Peru, cob 8 escudos, 1705H, from the 1715 Fleet and graded NGC MS 62 as well as pedigreed to the Real Eight Co. and Pullin collections. Estimate: $15,000 and up.

- Lot 197: Cut gold bar #22, 282.2 oz troy, marked with fineness XIX: (19.5K) four times, assayer/foundry FERNAND / ALONSO, and tax stamps, from the Santa Margarita. Estimate: $15,000 and up.

- Lot 13: Lima, Peru, cob 8 escudos, 1714/3M, rare, NGC MS 62, from the 1715 Fleet (designated on label). Estimate: $15,000 to $22,500.

- Lot 124: Guatemala, gold bust 8 escudos, Ferdinand VII, 1757J, NGC VF 35. Estimate: $15,000 to $22,500.

- Lot 129: Honduras, gold 10 pesos, 1883, NGC AU 50. Estimate: $15,000 to $22,500.

- Lot 201: Large gold-in-quartz specimen, 323.2 grams, from the Sixteen to One Mine in California. Estimate: $12,500 to $20,000.

1747V Lima, Peru, cob 8 escudos

- Lot 20: Lima, Peru, cob 8 escudos, 1747V, NGC MS 63, finest known in NGC census. Estimate: $10,000 to $15,000.

- Lot 143: Guadalajara, Mexico, bust 8 escudos, Ferdinand VII, 1821FS, rare, NGC AU 50, ex-Damon (stated on label). Estimate: $6,000 to $9,000.

- Lot 1355: Peru, gold star medal with diamonds, ca. 1853, rare, Salbach Plate. Estimate: $10,000 to $15,000.

1870 Popayan, Colombia, 10 pesos

- Lot 107: Popayan, Colombia, 10 pesos, 1870, extremely rare, PCGS AU 58, finest known in PCGS census. Estimate: $7,000 to $10,000.

- Lots 1132, 1133, and 1134:Set of original proof British India silver coins dated 1945 consisting of the one, half, and quarter rupees, all graded by PCGS. Combined estimate: $10,000 to $15,000.

- Lot 1375: USA (Philadelphia mint), $1 Morgan, 1901, NGC AU 58. Estimate: $800 to $1,200.

- Lot 1397: Pennsylvania, 20 shillings, March 20, 1771, serial 3266, plate A, Declaration signer Francis Hopkinson signature, PMG VF 25, Fr-PA-148. Estimate: $300 to $450.

Bidders can register now for the auction at The auction catalog is available for ordering at For more details, please contact Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC at

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Mike Dlugosz is selling some interesting material in an upcoming Heritage sale and he submitted the following information about a couple of the medals. Thanks. -Editor

Paine "I Die for This Book" Medallette

Paine Die for this Book Medallette obverse Paine Die for this Book Medallette reverse

A very rare Anti-Thomas Paine medalet. Unsigned. Obverse: Thomas Paine hanging dead from a tree; three legends, in the speech bubble I DIE FOR THIS DAMNED BOOK, in the canopy of the tree of liberty TOMMY'S RIGHTS OF MAN, around A TREE IS KNOWN BY ITS FRUIT.


Toned and with hints of brilliance still clinging to the legends in places, NGC VF30. A touch of honest wear combined with some as-made softness in strike contribute to the numerical grade.

Unusual piece. See the related item in this issue about an 1892 public hanging medal. -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:
(1790s) Thomas Paine Hanged / Tree of Liberty Political Penny Token VF30 NGC. Dalton & Hamer Middlesex-209. White met... (

1792 French Republic National Convention Medal

1792 French Republic National Convention Medal obverse 1792 French Republic National Convention Medal reverse

The “1792 Liberte Francoise bell metal medal” (Maz-318, Maz-318a) was made by French engraver, Andre Galle. The obverse features an adaptation of Liberty inspired by the design of Augustin Dupre's Libertas Americana medal that depicts Liberty with a pileus style liberty cap.

On the reverse is an oak wreath inside of which is a dedication, from the United Artists meeting in Lyons, to the National Convention, Pure Bell Metal, Struck in 1792.

The reverse suggests these medals were struck, though I've seen descriptions indicating they were actually cast medals - perhaps because of the porosity frequently seen on examples and possibly operating on the assumption that bell medal was too brittle to withstand striking. But, if that were indeed the case then I wonder why Galle didn't choose “moule”, instead of “frappe”, for the reverse legend?

In my experience, the majority of these are found XF-AU, fewer MS60-62, 63 is rare, 64's almost never, and there are zero certified 65s.

Mazard-318 & 318a were made of recycled metal harvested from bronze bells. The alloy used in bell making is less than ideal for coining. Perhaps a consequence of metal composition and the tools/process used in manufacturing, many specimens suffer from a degree of porosity, noticeable at a distance. The piece presently offered has superior surfaces for this issue. It is very pleasingly toned and Liberty's hair is in full bold detail

It is certified PCGS MS-64, tied for the finest graded by either service. Technically it is the finest certified Maz-318a (the slightly harder-to-come-by ‘double weight test' variety). However, PCGS made an error labeling it calling it only Maz-318. The Heritage cataloger noted this in the lot description as well. They should have graded this as an SP-64, Maz-318a.

About the artist, Andre Galle (1761-1844)

Andre Galle From a young age Galle worked with his father who was an engraver of corners and seals. By the time he was a teenager he demonstrated a strong aptitude for art.

He spent years as an apprentice in a Lyons button manufactory where he honed his artistic, mechanical and business skills. Eventually, he rose to become head of production at that company.

Galle became a master engraver in 1785 and worked for the province of Lyons under that capacity. The 1792 Liberte Francoise bell medal was his first project as an engraver of medals.

This medal was a proposition for the recycling of metal from church bells confiscated by the new government. It was a statement from Galle not only showing his skills but also his support for the cause of liberty in France. Simultaneously, he was relating what was happening in France with what happened a few years earlier in America, paying homage to Dupre's and Franklin's Libertas Americana medal.

It was a smart move by Galle. He gained favor with important people in government as a result.

Baron Dominique Vivant Denon, director of the Lourve Museum and Paris Mint later selected Galle to work on the medallic history of Napoleon series.

Interestingly, he also invented and in 1829 patented, the first mass produced roller chain - Galle chain / gear - varieties of which we use today in countless applications where loading, lifting and moving are necessary.

He continued to live and work in Paris until his death in 1844.

Thanks for the background. Another interesting piece. -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:
France: Republic cast "National Convention" Medal L'An 1 (1792) MS64 PCGS,... (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

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This week I made a trip to New York City for a non-numismatic conference. I wasn't able to convince my wife to come along this time, so I was able to squeeze in a couple numismatic visits. I live near Washington, D.C. and this time I took the Amtrak Acela train from Union Station. It was a beautiful spring day for my drive there, and the trees and vistas along George Washington Parkway (which overlooks the Potomac River) were amazing.

New Penn Station under renovation
The New Penn Station under renovation

I exited New York's Penn Station to a sunny spring day. Across the street was the old post office building on 8th Avenue, which is under reconstruction to become the new Penn Station.

A walk in New York is an experience in sensory overload. People, cars, cabs and trucks everywhere. The babble of multiple languages. The smell of cooking food and a woman's perfume. The dandys, the free spirits, the tourists, the crazies, the homeless, the shills, the hustlers, the salesmen and the rest of us - the marks and potential customers. Along the walk to my hotel a boy dressed in black and white asked, "Excuse me sir - are you Jewish?" A couple blocks later there were two more of them - "Excuse me sir - are you Jewish?" If I say yes, do I win a prize?

Crazy hotel elevator buttons I was staying at the Hilton Garden Inn on W. 54th Street. It's what Steve Roach described as "one of those tall skinny New York hotels with six rooms on each floor." I think there were 8 or 10, but it was a skinny building. The elevator button panel was another excercise in sensory overload. Quick - which one is 15? I remarked to a fellow passenger that I'm glad these people aren't designing airplane cockpits.

American Numismatic Society
After getting settled I grabbed a cab downtown to 75 Varick Street, home of the American Numismatic Society. It's on part of one floor of a large building. The recently renovated lobby was unfamiliar to me. I later learned from Scott Miller that the lobby cafe ironically accepts no cash - your coins and paper money are unwanted here.

Scott lives in New Jersey. He recently retired and volunteers a couple days a week at ANS cataloging medals. We'd never met in person and had arranged to get together on my visit. After checking in and getting past security I walked in and met up with librarian David Hill. We had a nice conversation and while he went to find Scott over in the curatorial section, I wandered the library. Here are some of the sights and books I had a look at.

ANS Library New Arrivals
New acquisitions

ANS Library U.S. Medals shelves
Medals shelf

ANS Library New periodicals ANS Library pamphlet files
New periodicals; Pamphlet files

Paul manship book title page Works of St-Gaudents title page
Paul Manship and Saint-Gaudents books

Benedetto Pistrucci book title page ANS Library donors
Benedetto Pistrucci book; donor wall

ANS Library some paper money books
Some Paper Money titles

Strand Books
New York Statue of Sheridan Scott offered to take me to the famous Strand book store; I'd never been there, so off we went. It was a good mile walk. I enjoyed the sights along the way, marveling at some of the amazing old homes and buildings that had managed to survive the last century or two.

I was happy to see the bookstore was bustling and apparently doing well. The world needs more bookstores, and we have fewer and fewer today. Once the area was dotted with them, but the Strand is one of the few left standing.

New York Strand bookstore
Strand Bookstore

We walked and walked some more looking for a place for dinner. In the end we dropped into a local bar and grill, ordering a cheeseburger and fish and chips. It was a homey neighborhood place with an old tin ceiling, enjoyable despite the noise and lack of table service.

I walked Scott back to Penn Station for his train home, and continued up 8th Avenue to my hotel. It was a pleasure to finally meet him and have a chance to chat.

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent at my conference over at the Hilton Midtown, where I was pleased to have the chance to meet and talk with the creator of Siri, Apple's voice assistant. Thursday night I walked back down to Penn Station to meet up with an old friend from my Bell Labs days. We visited the new Hudson Yards development, walked the High Line to Chelsea, talked for hours at a German beer garden restaurant, and visited the immense new Starbucks Roastery.

New York Starbucks Roastery
Starbucks Roastery

Medialia Gallery
Friday morning I had breakfast at a deli on 7th Avenue, checked some email, packed my bags and checked out of my hotel. I walked the 16 or so blocks down 8th Avenue to 38th. At one intersection a man pulling a delivery cart hit a bump and a box spilled off onto the sidewalk. Another pedestrian stooped down to help him pick up the contents while I held the cart to keep it from rolling away. He offered us containers of hummus for helping. We both politely refused. I wouldn't have known what to do with it for the trip home, but it would have been fun trying to explain where I'd gotten it. "It fell off a truck - a hand truck actually, but really, it LITERALLY fell off the truck. And the guy GAVE it to me, I swear..."

I found the address and waited a couple minutes. There was construction scaffolding all over the building. I think concrete dust is a permanent part of the city's air. I'd found out a few days earlier that Steve Roach of Coin World would be in NYC himself for a different conference. So I invited him along for this visit to Medialia Gallery.

Steve arrived right on time. He pressed the intercom button and Mashiko buzzed us in. The lobby was classic turn of the last century New York. We rode the ancient elevator up to the 4th floor.

We were warmly greeted and immediately impressed by the brightly lit gallery and drawn to the seemingly endless displays of medals. Among the first pieces we saw were works of Jeanne Stevens-Sollman of Pennsylvania, a member of the Citizen's Coinage Advisory Committee.

Some of the medals had multiple parts, one unstacking to form a jigsaw puzzle. Mashiko then showed us several of her own works, including several non-medallic sculptures in stone.

Steve commented on the artists' use of negative space, something not seen in U.S. coinage or even medals. For a numismatic connection, we saw commissioned anniversary and wedding medals for David Alexander, Alan Stahl and their spouses.

One wall of cases was dedicted to an exhibit titled "Medallic Images of War: Death and Destruction 1850-1950." the exhibit was curated by Scott Miller from the collections of David Simpson, Scott Miller, Normand Pépin, Dr. Jay Galst, Michael Parris, Dr. Ira Rezak, and Frederic Withington. It's on display through July and well worth seeing.

Scott Miller had encouraged me to check out the Civil War medals honoring a fallen young soldier and his brother. They were huge, magnificent medals. Mashiko encouraged me to hold one, and Steve snapped a photo.

Mashiko Wayne Homren holding medal1
Mashiko with Wayne Homren at Medialia Gallery

See the following article in this issue for additional photos of the gallery. As a bibliophile I was almost as interested in books as I was the medals. Check out this volume and its forest of color-coded bookmarks denoting medals shown in two previous exhibits.

Opthamaligia bookmarks

Medal books

Mashiko introduced us to her husband, a painter who had been quietly working in an adjacent workshop room. The large space also served as a storage and display area for other works.

Medialia Mashiko sculptures

Medialia Steve Roach examining exhibit
Steve Roach examining exhibit

Steve Roach and Mashiko
Steve Roach and Mashiko

We said our goodbyes but there was just one problem - the elevator wasn't coming for us. In typical practical New York fashion, Mashiko excused herself, walked down four floors and gave the stuck door a familiar shove, and rode the car back up. By the time we'd realized what happened, there she was there with her smiling face in the open elevator. So we all rode down for another round of goodbyes on the street.

Steve and I were both ready for an early lunch. I suggested the nearby Chef Yu's (where I had stopped for lunch Tuesday) and we had great meals there. After parting company with Steve I walked a couple blocks to Penn Station with my suitcase in tow. My train home was delayed in boarding, but it was an otherwise uneventful trip home. It was a cloudy afternoon with some rain, but a comfortable ride with a nice mix of scenery along the way.

When I returned to my car I found it caked in yellow pollen after sitting in the Union Station garage for a few days. I had to use my windshield wipers to see out. Traffic home was light because of Good Friday and the start of Passover. I had a quiet evening back with my family and did a little work on The E-Sylum.

My only numismatic activity this weekend was more work editing The E-Sylum. Pulling together the piece on book words took some time, but it was fun.

Writing concise article headlines can be tricky. My first headline for the article on John Highfill's donation of his latest silver dollar book was "HIGHFILL BURNS LIBRARY BOOK DONATION", but I caught myself. I didn't plan it, but it would have been pretty funny.

Many thanks to David Hill, Scott Miller, Mashiko and Steve Roach for their hospitality and companionship. It was a memorable week.

For more information on the American Numismatic Society, see:

For more information on Medialia Gallery, see:


OVER 500 NUMISMATIC TITLES: Wizard Coin Supply has over 500 numismatic titles in stock, competitively discounted, and available for immediate shipment. See our selection at


As noted in my numismatic diary in the previous article, I visited Medialia Gallery in New York with Steve Roach of Coin World the morning of Friday, April 19, 2019. Steve will work on a future CW article; here's a photo gallery to whet your appetites. What a delight for art medal fans; Mashiko was a most gracious host. -Editor

Medialia case01

Medialia case02

Medialia exhibit cases
"Medallic Images of War" exhibit cases

Medialia Civil War memorial medals

Medialia library

Medialia large medals1

Medialia large medals2

Medialia sculpture

Thanks again to Medialia Gallery founder Mashiko for her gracious hospitality. As noted in my Diary article, her gallery will be moving across the river next year to Jersey City.

For more information on Medialia Gallery, see:

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Arthur Shippee forwarded this Jerusalem Post article on an ancient coin discovered by schoolchildren in Israel. Also, A Oppenheim forwarded a Fox news version. Thanks. -Editor

Solidus of emperor Theodosius II A rare 1,600 year-old gold coin was found by a group of ninth-graders in February, the Israel Antiquities Authorities said on Monday.

The coin was discovered during a school trip in Nahal Zippori in the Galilee.

Nahal Zippori was once the capital of the region and the seat of the Sanhedrin. The coin features the effigy of the Byzantine emperor Theodosius II, who was also the Roman leader who abolished the presidency of the Sanhedrin.

On the other side, the coin presents the image of Victoria, the goddess of victory.

"This type of coin is known as a solidus, a gold coin minted in Constantinople, today's Istanbul, by Theodosius II, around 423-420 CE,” said Gabi Bichovsky, a coin expert at the Antiquities Authority.

“This is the first time a coin of this kind has been discovered in the Land of Israel," he added.

To read the complete article, see:
Group of schoolchildren find 1,600 year-old gold coin in the Galilee (

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This week I came across this great article on the Forum Ancient Coins site about vessels (storage and drinking vessels) shown on ancient coins. Here's a short excerpt - be sure to read the complete article online and learn the difference between the amphora, the krater, the kantharos, the rhyton, Kyme's cup, the oinochoe and a wine jug. -Editor

Many ancient Greek coins, and some Roman, show an urn, jug or cup, almost all of recognisable ancient types. In most cases they are there to serve a particular symbolic purpose. But some important distinctions are lost on most of those who write descriptions of ancient coins. You will see many of them described on line as "an amphora," whereas actually, the majority are kraters.

Amphorae, kraters and other vessels were quite different in design, in use, and in symbolic meaning. Knowing some basic facts about them helps to understand the coins properly. This page goes through the various types and shows their differences, and then shows more examples of kraters, the type most commonly found on ancient coins.

(For the other type of vessel, galleys and boats, please see my page about safe journeys and sea power.)

The Amphora
Ancient coin with Amphora It's easy to find definitions of "amphora" .. "A large narrow-necked Greek or Roman jar with a handle on either side, used for storing liquids such as wine or oil." That's from Chambers Dictionary on line.

Large numbers of amphoras have been found in shipwrecks, so we know they were stacked on galleys and used for transport.

They came in more than one design. The earliest transport amphoras had ovoid bodies and a base, like the one on the Athenian tetradrachm on the left of the row above. The olive tree was supposed to have been the goddess Athena's gift to Athens, so that one will have been used to transport olive oil.

The Krater
Ancient coin with Krater Kraters were used in the ancient Greek world in much the same way that punch-bowls are used in more modern times. They would contain a mixture of wine and water, to be drunk at a party called a symposium, where men would gather for an enjoyable evening of merriment, good conversation, and perhaps some entertainment. In polite ancient Greek society, it was regarded as bad form to get too drunk too soon, though, of course, not all society was polite!

So, kraters appeared on coins to symbolise just that sort of occasion; and sometimes more, to show an association with the god Dionysos, who was responsible for the divine madness produced by alcoholic intoxication. Elsewhere, I have a page about coins showing Dionysos and his Roman equivalent, Father Liber.

There were four types of standard krater design in the ancient world. The majority of vessels found on ancient coins are the type known as volute kraters. They are so called because the curled tops of the handles resemble the curled decorations, volutes, at the top of Ionic columns, and those curled-over handle tops are quite definitive in identifying a volute krater.

To read the complete article, see:
Ancient Vessels on Ancient Coins (

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The April 16, 2019 Reno Gazette Journal included an article about the discovery and opening of an 1872 time capsule containing Carson City and San Francisco silver dollars. -Editor

Reno Masonic Lodge time capsule

Artifacts recovered from an 1872 time capsule stashed in the cornerstone of a demolished Masonic lodge in Reno include silver dollars minted in Carson City and San Francisco, and a piece of wood from Sutter's Mill where the discovery of gold sparked the California Gold Rush.

The Reno Masonic Lodge was built along the railroad tracks when Ulysses S. Grant was president shortly after the Comstock Lode of gold and silver was struck in Virginia City.

The cornerstone was laid on Oct. 15, 1872, a block west of where now sits the famous arch over the main casino drag proclaiming Reno “The Biggest Little City in the World.” A year later, Jacob Davis, a Reno tailor with a shop a block away, patented the first pair of copper-riveted jeans with Levi Straus & Co.

“These materials have been sealed in this time capsule for 147 years,” said Catherine Magee, the director of the Nevada Historical Society and art conservator who lead the excavation of the time capsule.

“Reno was a tough little commercial town,” she said. “This lot was on the bustling corner of Commercial Row across from the railroad platform.”

The lodge's bottom floor housed a dry goods and grocery store for decades.

Some papers in the box were waterlogged, but once restored Magee said they'll be able to read pages from the Nevada State Journal, Reno Crescent, Carson Appeal, Sacramento Union, San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner.

In addition to the 1872 silver dollars, the capsule included a Mexican dollar, an English quarter shilling and two American 3-cent pieces. There's a silver specimen from a mine in White Pine County near the Utah line, the Constitution of the Masonic Grand Lodge and the names of all the officers of the state of Nevada and Washoe County, as well as members of the California Legislature, 1871-72.

“Materials in a time capsule are meant to give the discoverers a window through time into what was happening at the time of the encapsulation as well as what was deemed important by the people who were placing them in the time capsule,” Magee said.

“It means much more than one piece, one item taken out of context,” she said. “For example, the Mexican dollar would simply be an old coin. The fact these coins were chosen to be included tells something about the cultural ties the Masons thought were important.”

To read the complete article, see:
Reno's 1872 time capsule: Silver dollars, wood from Sutter's Mill, harmonica inside (

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David Sundman forwarded this New York Times article about old bank buildings. Thanks. See the caption on the photo and look closely - there are medallions of dimes atop the columns. -Editor

Dime bank building columns

The fate of the soaring, palatial and utterly impractical Dime Savings Bank in Downtown Brooklyn was inevitable.

The 16,750-square-foot, 40-foot-tall chamber, with seven kinds of marble flooring, a vaulted-tile dome and Corinthian columns, closed in 2016, a victim of automated tellers and digital payments. Its last full-time tenant, Chase Bank, moved into a squat storefront across the street, about one-tenth the size.

The bank's second act is more surprising: It will become part of Brooklyn's tallest skyscraper, 9 DeKalb, a 1,066-foot luxury apartment building with retail at its base. The landmark Beaux-Arts interior will be transformed into a flagship store, and the roof will become an outdoor lounge with a pool that wraps around an ornate Guastavino dome. The marble and pink granite facade will be fused on one side to a slender glass-and-steel tower designed by SHoP Architects, which will have about 425 rentals and 150 condo apartments.

In Chelsea, the 1897 New York Savings Bank became a carpet store in the late 1980s, a gourmet grocer in the mid-2000s, and is now a very stately CVS pharmacy. The 1906 Williamsburg Trust Company, an imposing temple to commerce at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge, became a Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the 1960s. Until last year, the former Corn Exchange Bank on 42nd Street housed Show World Center, an adult-entertainment relic from the old Times Square. Now it is becoming offices.

To read the complete article, see:
Historic Bank Buildings Get a Second Act (

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The Houston Chronicle published an article April 18, 2019 about a medal presented to a jailer regarding an 1892 execution. -Editor

Henry McGee hanging medal obverse Henry McGee hanging medal reverse

A striking piece of Houston history sold earlier this week on eBay, a reminder of how criminal justice was once meted out in Harris County.

The medal, about the size of a quarter, depicts a hooded, suit-wearing figure hanging from the gallows. Inscribed on the front is the name Henry McGee, his ethnicity is described as "colored" and the date of his execution is provided: Aug. 12, 1892.

Also inscribed is the name of McGee's victim, Houston police officer James Fenn.

The back of the medal reads, "Presented to R.E. Sutton by J. Warfel." A city directory from that period lists a Robert E. Sutton as deputy sheriff and assistant jailer.

The medal, which came from a Houston-area estate sale, baffled some Texas historians.

"I never came across anything like that," said Mitchel P. Roth, professor of criminal justice and criminology at Sam Houston State University and co-author of "Houston Blue: The Story of the Houston Police Department."

At the time of McGee's execution, the Houston Daily Post looked back on the case and noted "there was strong talk of lynching" after he was jailed.

Patricia Bernstein, author of "The First Waco Horror: the Lynching of Jesse Washington and the Rise of the NAACP" said it was amazing that McGee was not lynched and that he was tried twice for Fenn's death.

Henry McGee hanging medal obverse closeup Bernstein found the medal appalling, even if it depicts a lawful execution.

"It's a medal that celebrates the murder of somebody," she said.

What a ghastly item. Is it real? One never knows about eBay purchases. Is it a fabrication? I reached out to one of our regulars for his thoughts. -Editor

John Kraljevich writes:

I don't think I can make any real statement upon its authenticity without seeing it. It's not just engraved but it is sort of assembled and manufactured as well, so that complicates things a lot. The engraving on the back side looks period appropriate, but the front of it is less straightforward. Nothing about it makes me outright condemn its authenticity though, either. As far as the subject matter, ghastly as it is, there is nothing ahistorical about celebrating these sorts of events in the 1890s either. In terms of it being a medal, I think it's probably more likely it was meant to serve as a watch fob. Interesting piece.

From the images, I tend to agree that it certainly COULD be a genuine contemporaneous item, but I'd like to see it in hand as well. I've never seen or heard of anything quite like it. I know there exist souvenir postcards of lynchings and some medals depicting famous political hangings (one is illustrated elsewhere in this issue), but I'm not aware of other medallic commemorations of routine public executions. -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
Rare estate sale find shows how capital punishment was once carried out in Harris County (


Via the April 16, 2019 News & Notes newsletter from the Society of Paper Money Collectors is this article about a valuable find of drawings by stamp and banknote designer Leonard Fryer. -Editor

Work of banknote engraver Leonard Fryer Many things have been found in the back of residents' wardrobes over the years but most of the items probably wouldn't reach a six-figure sum on the open market.

Hundreds of stamp size paintings worth an estimated £150,000 were found in an Ilford closet after Pauline Fryer died at the age of 84.

Gathering dust, behind a rack of clothes, was a rare collection of 270 original stamps and 40 banknote designs, painted in watercolour by her relative, artist Leonard Fryer.

Dubbed “mini masterpieces”, the tiny works of art had to be drawn with a paintbrush in one hand and a magnifying glass in the other.

The artist, who died at the age of 74 in 1964, worked as a designer for London's Waterlow and Sons, a worldwide engraver and printers of currency, postage stamps, stocks and bond certificates founded in 1810.

Costa Rica banknote design by Leonard Fryer

His work, carried out between the 1920s and 1950s will be auctioned on May 9 with Derbyshire's Hansons Auctioneers.

To read the complete article, see:
Collection worth six figure sum found in Ilford wardrobe (

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Dick Hanscom forwarded this BBC News article about a community currency used in a region of France. Thanks. -Editor

Eusko notes

Inspired to bring Basque pride back to the region, in 2013 Edme-Sanjurjo and about a dozen volunteers launched a euro-equivalent micro-currency. Their aim was to reinvigorate enthusiasm for their cultural and linguistic roots and keep money within the French-Basque region by supporting local businesses. Flash forward to October 2018, and their micro-currency, coined the eusko (pronounced ‘you-s-ko'), reached the equivalent of €1 million in circulation, making it the most successful of such monetary experiments in Europe, according to The Local.

Today, 17 municipal governments and 820 local shops, businesses and associations in the French Basque Country accept the eusko as legal tender. Euskal Moneta – the organisation headed by Edme-Sanjurjo that manages and prints the currency – says two to three new eusko accounts are being opened daily with them.

Participating businesses are encouraged to make their shops bilingual. “We encourage business owners to learn a few greeting words in Basque and/or have as many Basque-language signs in the shop as possible, and we provide the translation for free thanks to public subsidies,” Edme-Sanjurjo said. “This allows young people to see Basque in public life and not be ashamed anymore.”

While the idea of printing your own money might seem radical, the concept of micro-currencies is far from novel. Indeed, Euskal Moneta was inspired by the Chiemgauer, a micro-currency that has been available in Chiemgau region in Upper Bavaria, Germany, since 2003. Today, there are as many as 10,000 to 15,000 micro-currencies operating worldwide, including about 60 in France, which legalised them in 2014.

To read the complete article, see:
The French region with a new currency (


Here are some additional items I came across in the media this week that may be of interest. -Editor

Rare Date Gold Pricing

We don't ordinarily cover topics of grading and pricing, but here's a link to a nicely done blog article by specialist Doug Winter. -Editor

1839-O Quarter Eagle For collectors and dealers alike, accurately pricing a coin remains perhaps the most difficult process in all of numismatics. This shouldn't be the case as there are numerous price guides who offer years of experience and expertise to assist collectors and dealers. Unfortunately, none of these are 100% accurate as many coins are exceptionally difficult to price.

In my opinion, the flaw behind price guides is that they attempt to commoditize coins. In their eyes, all 1904 double eagles graded MS64 are worth the same. However, we know this is not the case.

In every series, there are multiple levels of price for each specific issue. This is due to the fact that there are four tiers of grade for each coin (not factoring in plus grades or grade modifiers such as “star,” “Prooflike” or for coloration or strike).

To read the complete article, see:
Five Exercises in Rare Date Gold Pricing (

Maastricht Paper Money Spring Show

Martin Kaplan forwarded this Coin Update article by Michael Alexander on the recent Maastricht Paper Money show. Thanks. -Editor

For the banknote enthusiasts or notaphilists to be wholly accurate, this last weekend was an important date in the banknote collector's calendar, which took them to the delightful city of Valkenburg. In the current electronic payments climate where we're witnessing a race to determine which country will rush to the finish line to be the first cashless economy, the atmosphere at the Paper Money Fair was anything but cashless, as banknotes were the order of the day as collectors and dealers alike noticed a significant upturn in both the demand and availability of a variety of banknotes.

To read the complete article, see:
Paper Money Spring Show, Maastricht, proves to be a huge hit with dealers and collectors alike (

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