The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 22, Number 42, October 20, 2019, Article 25


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

The Slow Burn of Acidified Paper

For bibliophiles, here's an article about a less dramatic but equally important threat to our collections - the "slow burn" of acidified paper. -Editor

slow burning book Sometimes you need to be brutal, eschewing sentimentality as you cut off a spine or replace a book’s old, water-stained cover. At other times, gentle, delicate—especially with the books from Special Collections, those unique, fragile (and expensive) texts. And sometimes you find books with yellowed, stiff pages. The old dog-eared folds break off in triangles, flutter to the floor. These books can’t be helped by simple repairs—they’re acidified, dying, and the opposite of unique. In fact, they’re examples of a large-scale catastrophe that’s been quietly building in libraries for decades.

It’s called a “slow fire,” this continuous acidification and subsequent embrittlement of paper that was created with the seeds of its own ruin in its very fibers. In a 1987 documentary on the subject, the deputy Librarian of Congress William Welsh takes an embrittled, acid-burned book and begins tearing pages out by the handful, crumbling them into shards with an ease reminiscent of stepping on a dried-up insect carcass.

The destruction is inevitable. Depending on how a book was made and how it’s been stored, embrittlement can happen in as little as 30 to 100 years. Already, books have been lost, and the methods of preservation are too limited, time-consuming, and expensive to address the scale of the problem. Mass deacidification, where an alkaline neutralizing agent is introduced via a spray or solution applied to paper, once seemed like the golden solution; but while it can be used to prevent slightly acidified paper from deteriorating, it doesn’t reverse the effects of prior damage. The fallback is digitization—a fancy way to say mass-scanning, and the most used method of saving the content of a text, but not the book itself. In an article about the Library of Congress’ digitization efforts, Kyle Chayka reports that it would take literally decades of scanning to preserve the institution’s over 160 million object collection. At our existing technology’s current scanning pace, preserving the prints and photographs division alone would take about 300 years.

To read the complete article, see:
The Little-Known ‘Slow Fire’ That’s Destroying All Our Books (

NBS Do You Love Coin Book card ad

Money Moving Mishaps

An article on the Freight Waves site discusses the logistics of moving money across the nation, and highlights some exceptions to the normal high-security routine. -Editor

Armored truck Once in a while, a made-for-TV scene plays out in real life. In May 2018, the rear door of a Brink’s truck flew open during rush hour on Interstate 70 near Indianapolis “blowing bags of cash onto the highway,” according to the New York Times. State troopers scooped up most of the $600,000, but not before dozens of people helped themselves to fistfuls of $20 bills.

The Mint purchases the plain metal discs called a planchet from which it strikes pennies. In September 2016, a tractor-trailer hauling millions of copper-plated zinc planchets en route to the Philadelphia Mint struck a concrete median barrier on I-95 in Delaware and burst into flames.

For 13 hours, clean-up crews used hand shovels and truck-loaded vacuums to recover the planchets scattered along the northbound lanes. Unlike the Brinks’ free-for-all in Indiana two years later, the public didn’t get close to the would-be pennies. Delaware State Police diverted traffic off the interstate at the exit before the crash site.

To read the complete article, see:
Freight All Kinds: Moving money is a precise dril (

Halloween Wooden Coins Good for Ice Cream

Len Augsburger of the Newman Numismatic Portal passed this article along: "Numismatics and ice cream – Eric P. Newman would be proud!" In the past we've discussed people who pass out coins in addition to candy treats at Halloween. This is about "wooden nickels" good for an ice cream treat in Newman's hometown of St. Louis. Unfortunately, the coins are not illustrated. Please enjoy the image of two tasty mini ice cream cones. -Editor

mini ice cream cones A wooden coin might be the most unique—and possibly best—item you could find in your kid’s trick-or-treat bag this year.

Lion’s Choice is selling packs of wooden coins to hand out to little ghosts and goblins this Halloween. They’re redeemable for a free mini custard cone at any of the restaurant chain’s locations.

“With added concerns of dietary restrictions and allergies, we wanted to offer a safe and easy way for everyone to celebrate,” said Lion’s Choice president and CEO Michael Kupstas.

The $5 packs include 25 wooden coins. They’re available at Lion’s Choice locations through Oct. 31.

The mini cones have been a fixture at Lion’s Choice since the first restaurant opened in St. Louis more than 51 years ago.

To read the complete article, see:
Here's why you might find a wooden coin in your kid's trick-or-treat bag (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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