The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 22, Number 15, April 14, 2019, Article 13


On Brummagems
Jeff Rock writes:

On Brummagems, the word was first used for the mass of lightweight counterfeit halfpence and farthing that came out of Birmingham in the 1770s-1790s, and also encompassed the British evasion copper series when those were minted in the 1790s. To this day a few British collectors still use the word in its intended derogatory sense - usually those who don't appreciate the history of these counterfeits (the British AND American economies would have failed without them since neither country ever had enough copper coinage for daily business transactions).

When I visited Birmingham a few years back I got the sense that the city had the last laugh - yes, they were famous for inexpensive products, but also high-end luxury products like those produced at the Soho Manufactory (which turned out all sorts of art objects along with coins, tokens, medals, buttons and the like). And, of course, the city got very, very rich from the trade.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

WWI Prison Camp Money Collected in 1917
Dave Hirt writes:

Sometimes I enjoy pulling an old auction catalog from the shelf and looking through it. Sometimes I find things that I missed on previous looks. This week while looking a Wayte Raymond Catalog of Aug. 27, 1917, I came across 8 lots of Prison Camp Money from the first World War. The war was still ongoing at this time, America had just entered it a few months previous. There were two lots of metallic pieces, and 6 lots of paper pieces. I was surprised that these items were already in collecting interest at this early date.

Interesting. The best time to collect ephemeral numismatic items is when they're actively being used, before they end up forgotten in drawers or tossed in the trash. -Editor

Hunger Striker on Call the Midwife
Call The Midwife Hunger Striker episode Jeremy Schneider writes:

I always enjoy reading The E-Sylum! Just recently on the TV Show "Call The Midwife" on PBS (Season 8, Episode 2), they had a patient who had been awarded one of the Hunger Strike medals, very fitting to the recent story,

Thanks. I'm not familiar with the show, but it sounds interesting. Great to see the publicity for the Hunger Strikers. -Editor

For more information on the series, see:
Call the Midwife (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

Ancient Coin Image Search Feature

Shanna Schmidt is a dealer in ancient coins, an E-Sylum supporter and candidate for the American Numismatic Association Board of Governors. Her email updates chronicle her visits to coin shows and auctions. She's also written about her experience researching coin pedigrees using the Ex-Numis search service.

In a recent note she mentioned a great new search feature of another web site, AC Search. I was unable to get this into an earlier issue, but at my request Shanna reforwarded her note. Thanks. -Editor

Shanna writes:

There is a really great new feature on AC Search. If you submit an image of your coin it will search its databases and find the coin immediately. I've tried it out for a few coins and was successful. The only downside is that it really only has coins from when auctions started to be available online. For early auctions it isn't yet possible. The cost is very little and when you have an account then I think you get 20 or so for free (at least I had 20 free). Here is the link to the image search:

To read earlier E-Sylum articles, see:

Correction: 1960 Philadelphia Small Date Cent Strikings
Tom DeLorey writes:

I mis-typed my message about the 1960-SD cents. That was supposed to be "January of 1960," not "January of 1959."

We'll correct Tom's statement on our article archive. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

Historical Society of Pennsylvania Layoffs
Anne bentley of the Massachusetts Historical Society writes:

In case your readership has plans to visit the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, this is important information. We sincerely hope that our sister institution weathers this storm and returns stronger than ever!

On Monday, April 8, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania announced the layoff of ten staff members, representing a 30% reduction in its workforce. The job loss is part of an action plan approved by the Board of Councilors to reduce operating expenses.

HSP will remain open to researchers and many services will be unaffected by the changes. Regular library hours will remain unchanged, and the reading room will continue to welcome researchers. Fellowships will still be offered, and grant-funded projects will continue as planned. The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, HSP's long-running scholarly journal, will maintain its regular publication schedule.

Some of HSP's programs and service will be put on hold until the organization is on stronger financial footing. Pennsylvania Legacies, HSP's biannual public history magazine, will pause publication after the Spring 2019 edition, which has just been released. Educational programming will be significantly reduced.

Sad news. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
HSP Announces Layoffs (

Coinhunting in Remote Mexico
Pablo Hoffman writes:

A recent article in The E-Sylum about an important numismatist got me remembering a way-back encounter.

Back in the 1960s and '70s, I was living, working, and travelling throughout Mexico. Part of my time was spent far off the beaten track, in the remote areas which in those long-gone days made up much of the Mexican national territory. People lived in these isolated parcels of land deep in the unmapped mountains or forests, much as they did hundreds and even thousands of years ago. Electricity and paved roads were still well in the future, awaiting the billions of dollars that Mexico had not yet begun to invest in developing infrastructure throughout the country.

One of my goals as I wandered was to search for collectible US coins on behalf of my father. Although some did indeed turn up, the usual find of course was Mexican material, including paper money, which was ultimately to become my overriding interest.

However, certain coinages captivated me: a few crude, unofficial tokens for limited circulation, locally struck or cast, which were called fichas de hacienda. To me, they radiated personality and fascination.

On one of those forays, I might have found myself in an indigenous rancheria, a hamlet whose pre-hispanic ethnic heritage was preserved in such a pure form, that Spanish was a foreign language. Although I picked up a few words and phrases of the "hello, goodbye, thank you" variety, actual conversation in Nahuatl or Otomí or Purépecha was entirely beyond my reach. Negotiation would become a convoluted process. The solution was to send for the villager who knew Spanish; every community seemed to have at least one, and that led us to mutual understanding. This is the way that many of my hacienda tokens first came to me, and how I began to learn of their essential monetary function in the rural regions of pre-modern Mexico.

Before long, I joined the Sociedad Numismática de México. I even wrote an article for its journal, on a rare hookneck 8-Reales, Durango mint, counterstamped Y II (for Isabel II of Spain,) a coin that surfaced in the Philippines. Finding myself totally broke in Mexico City at one point in 1971, I reluctantly sold that piece to the national numismatic museum of the Banco de Mexico. (But that's definitely another story for another time!)

As my fellow members and I got acquainted, my interest in tokens became known. A colleague in the group told me that a friend of his was an advanced investigator and collector in all aspects of Mexican numismatics, and had formed a terrific collection of fichas over a period of years. He introduced us. To my surprise, his friend was a gringo, of piercing blue-eyes, a couple of decades older than I was, and clearly a pivotal figure in the Society. At first he was reserved, a natural inclination of his personality, but as we spoke about many things (rather, he spoke and I listened to outpourings of his vast knowledge,) he was increasingly animated and outgoing. That initial conversation led to others, culminating in my purchase of that collection.

And that, boys and girls, is the tale of how I met Señor Clyde Hubbard and how his collection of fichas changed hands.

Thanks, Pablo! great story. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

HLRC E-Sylum ad05 In the Loupe With Link

Wayne Homren, Editor

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