The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 22, Number 16, April 21, 2019, Article 25


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

Wayne Homren, Editor

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