Howard Daniel submitted this review of the new edition of Ken Berger's book on Philippine currency from the Japanese occupation in World War II. Thanks!
It's much more a remembrance of collector and researcher "Niel" Nielsen, hence my headline. -Editor
Philippine Emergency Notes: Counterstamped, Signed & Initialed (CSI), Cebu Province (Second Edition) by Dr. Kenneth J.E. Berger.
This book is a very important book which fills one of many holes about World War II Philippine Emergency (or Guerilla) paper money. There is a ton of
new information in it compared to the 1st edition and the author was assisted by many numismatists and other people. If you are a collector of these pieces of
paper money you can clearly see the huge amount of work put into it.
There is a previous article in The E-Sylum which you can look up online, so I will not repeat what he wrote except to mention that it was made
possible by a grant from the Central States Numismatic Society. Good people! There are only 100 copies printed and I have number 32. If you are a collector of
paper money, you need to have this catalog in your personal library! Contact the author at email@example.com or Ray Czahor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I cannot remember the exact date Dr. Berger contacted me in his hunt for photographs of “Niel” Nielsen. Niel apparently did not pose for many pictures and
he had passed away on August 10, 2008, so there will be no new ones of him. I did have three pictures in my files and I sent them to the author. He used one of
them in the book. After I read about Niel in the book, I decided to write a little here about him because he is still very, very important to the numismatic
knowledge known about the Philippines. He was also one of several “old” men who mentored me in how to look at each piece of paper money; research them; and
eventually write about them.
Niel attended every International Paper Money Show in Memphis until he was not physical able to make them. The above left picture shows him walking on the
bourse with a coffee cup. It would not be long before he finished for that day looking at the dealers’ inventories and the exhibits, then he headed for the
bar. Niel liked his booze and cigarettes. He is carrying a portfolio pouch with many sheets of paper which summarize the many pieces he owns and he could
update them if he found something. He often sent photocopies of the summary pages to me and others and it was not often that I could update them. He also often
mailed photocopied pages to me from books, paper financial instruments or other things in support of my research of Viet Nam, Lao, Cambodia and the French
colonial pieces of those countries.
Several years after the above left picture was taken, he called me in Virginia and told me I was to fly to his Salt Lake City home and bring a checkbook. I
knocked on his front door but got a very weak response from inside the house. I walked to the back where sliding glass doors lead into his kitchen. He was
sitting at his breakfast table smoking a cigarette and looking at a large stack of “stuff” on it. He waved me into the house. When I opened the door, the
strong odor of smoke almost knocked me down. I left the door open. He told me the large stack of books, files, paper money, etc., was for me, but I had to
write a check for several thousand dollars to own it. I briefly looked at the stack and wrote him the check.
He told me he wanted to give me a tour of the house. Every room had books and files all over them. Each stack was a research project. In one area was a
monster-sized photocopier. He must have paid a lot of money for it! We entered one of the guest bedrooms. He went to the closet and picked up a piece of the
floor! Below it was a ladder into the crawl space under the house. Once we were crouched down in the crawl space, he headed toward a room half-buried in the
ground. He opened the small door and we went into a vault-like room with boxes full of paper money in serial number sequence. Most of it was a huge collection
of WWII Philippine guerrilla paper money! After soaking up most of what was in the room, we went back up to his home office.
After a couple of hours looking at some of his unpublished research papers, I heard knocking on the front door. I opened the door and Bill Henderson, who
was an old mutual friend and dealer from Puyallup, Washington, was standing there. Niel had also called him. Bill took the above picture of us sitting at
Niel’s desk. Behind Niel’s chair at the breakfast table were two large boxes of Chinese and East Asian paper money with some references and other stuff of
interest to Bill. Bill had to write a much larger check than mine but he told me later it was a great buy, as was my stack. Bill has also passed away just in
the past year.
Ray Czahor is a specialist in Philippine numismatics. Niel called him much later to come buy everything in the house, which he did. Much of the valuable
books and file folders might have gone into a dumpster but Ray saved it and is still putting them in his frequent mail bid sales. With tens of thousands of
Philippine guerrilla money, Ray loaned the Cebu notes to Dr. Berger so his greatly expanded 2nd edition could be published. I am hoping Dr. Berger and others
will borrow the other notes and write more books about them!
Many collectors and researchers, to include myself, bid on Niel’s paper money, books, files, etc., in Ray’s mail bid sales to add to our personal
collections and libraries. It all strongly smelled of Neil’s cigarettes, and I mean strong! But I found a way to take away most of the odor by putting his
stuff in a cardboard box with one or two Little Trees with Royal Pine Scent. These are what people hang from their rearview mirrors to cover up odors in their
cars. There will always be some smell of his cigarette smoke, but most of it is gone. I believe Niel is very happy that he is being remembered every time we
pick up one of his former possessions.
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
NEW BOOK: PHILIPPINE EMERGENCY NOTES 2ND ED.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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