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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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Charles Heck, Treasurer
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
P. O. Box 2058,
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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: Ken Kipperman, John Parker, and Joost Snaterse. Welcome aboard! We now have 6,111 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 a final group of highlights from the Kolbe & Fanning sale closing May 30, two new books, and the 2020 Newman Grant awardees.

Other topics this week include the 1987 ANA convention, hobby coronavirus updates, The Fantastic 1804 Dollar, collectors Wetmore and Wilson, the Royal Mint, auction selections, Olympic gold medals, banknote making, numerical coin grading and Hard Times Tokens.

To learn more about the Jules Sambon collection, engraved gems, the banknotes of Spain, Fugio cents, 2020 Pittsburgh ANA World's Fair of Money planning, banknotes in in ultraviolet light, masticated paper, the Apostrophe auctions, Greek bronzes, Saudi Arabia gold discs, the 1967 Australia pattern dollar, electrotypes, sandblast proofs, medallic artist Chiara Principe, Comitia Americana medals, and Wild Bill Hickok's iced tea, read on. Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Editor, The E-Sylum


Don't forget to place your bids in the Kolbe & Fanning's numismatic literature sale closing May 30, 2020. There are many great rarities here. Here's another group of selections handpicked by David Fanning. -Editor

Kolbe-Fanning sale 156 cover Sale 156: David's Personal Picks

We've been busy at Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers getting ready for our Sale 156, which will be held on Saturday, May 30. We've already sent out a couple of emails about this sale, pointing out various highlights and discussing how to register, but the eclectic offerings in the sale seem to encourage some personal reflections (or ramblings), so we've loaded David up with coffee and asked him to pick a handful of lots that have not been discussed in earlier emails and say something about them.

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K-F sale 156 Lot 17 Elder plates of Demanhur Hoard tetradrachms K-F sale 156 Lot 53 Jules Sambon sale catalog
Lots 17 and 61

Lot 17: Tom Elder plates of tetradrachms from the Demanhur Hoard. This is one of those American productions that I would like to see better known among ancient coin specialists. While arguably not as useful as a plated auction catalogue, it's a significant photographic record of this hoard, depicting both sides of 300 tetradrachms from this important find.

Lot 61: the 1830 sale of the collection formed by James Douglas, Earl of Morton, who had died more than sixty years earlier. This is a fairly early Sotheby & Son catalogue, and is well-preserved in a handsome binding. Priced and named catalogues are the gold standard for doing provenance research in the era before photographically illustrated catalogues.

K-F sale 156 Lot 61 1830 James Douglas sale K-F sale 156 Lot 73 Ernest Babelon volume on engraved gems
Lots 53 and 73

Lot 53: the massive catalogue of the Jules Sambon collection. The Sambon catalogue is frankly amazing, covering all sorts of artistic productions and artifacts. The sections on coins and medals add up to over 500 lots, and about 100 lots of ancient coins are depicted on three exceptional plates. This copy is especially nice as it has been sturdily bound: the original oversized card covered bindings were inadequate to the task, and most copies that survive to this day are the worse for wear.

Lot 73: Ernest Babelon's important volume on engraved gems, in a beautifully rendered binding. Engraved gems are, of course, not numismatic, but they have frequently been collected by the same people as their creation involves many of the same engraving techniques and the final results are often similar. This volume, written by the esteemed numismatist Ernest Babelon, is in a binding I just love, with the spine decorated with inlaid leather pieces of various colors carefully cut into the shape of gems and gilt. It's just a splendid volume.

K-F sale 156 Lot 90 Le Club Français de Médaille's Bulletin
Lot 90

Lot 90: a nearly complete set of Le Club Français de Médaille's Bulletin. This is a publication that just doesn't receive enough attention, and substantial runs are virtually never encountered. The focus is on modern medals, though occasional articles delve into earlier periods. It is well-illustrated and contains much information on modern medals and medalists that is otherwise difficult to find.

K-F sale 156 Lot 110 Fleurimont medals of Louis XV K-F sale 156 Lot 193 Bushnell-Davis-Brand American Journal of Numismatics
Lots 110 and 193

Lot 110: Fleurimont's (or is it Godonnesche's?) work on the medals of Louis XV. Overshadowed by the magnificent volumes on the Louis XIV medals, this charming and well-engraved work on the Louis XV medals gets short shrift. It was a work that was seemingly always in progress, and every time I catalogue a copy it seems I am adding to the number of states I've encountered (my current tally being seven issues of between 33 and 78 plates).

Lot 193: As I'm trying to focus here on works that are often ignored, it may seem odd to single out volumes of the American Journal of Numismatics, hardly an obscure journal. The provenances on these, and the story told by those provenances, makes them impossible to overlook. The set was started by Bushnell, who had the first volume bound in his trademark binding. When he died, Robert Coulton Davis acquired his set and continued it, having the second volume here present bound to match. When Davis died, Virgil Brand acquired the set and continued it by having the final two volumes here present bound to match (each bound volume here includes two volumes of the AJN). While the volumes aren't consecutive and their condition isn't perfect, they speak eloquently of the bonds formed and respect shared between collectors.

K-F sale 156 Lot 278 Frossard 1885 Coins of the Orient sale K-F sale 156 Lot 289 Haseltine on Continental Currency
Lots 278 and 289

Lot 278: a plated copy of Frossard's 1885 Coins of the Orient sale. This has been a favorite of mine for years. I've always found Frossard fascinating, and his catalogues often focus on areas I enjoy. The rarity of some of his plated catalogues is a further draw. This particular sale was produced to the tune of 25 copies, making it a rarity from the time of publication, and the plates exhibit a bewildering variety of coins from Asia and Africa, including India and both the Near and Far East. What amazes me about this catalogue is that Frossard was able to step up to the challenge of writing it in an era long before the ready availability of catalogues of world coins. Even an outstanding numismatic library would have seemed inadequate given the task of writing this catalogue in 1885, and I admire Frossard's willingness to take on such a challenge.

Lot 289: rare works by John Haseltine on Continental Currency. Most of Haseltine's reputation today stands upon his auction catalogues, which is unfortunate because, with a couple of notable exceptions, they are a bit thin. He was, however, among the most knowledgeable American numismatists of his generation, and one wishes he'd written more. Here we have a couple of his works on Continental Currency, a subject on which he was an acknowledged expert. These are rarely encountered and the first, more substantive, title includes some highly interesting illustrations. Intriguing in themselves, it should also be noted that these are from the John J. Ford Library.

Check out the sale today at Bids placed via post, email, fax or phone must be received by May 29, the day before the sale, in order for them to be processed. Advance absentee bids may be placed at any time online at Live internet bidding will be available during the sale itself through the same platform. We look forward to hearing from you.

To read the earlier articles, see:

Stacks-Bowers E-Sylum ad 2020-05-03 Free Grading


Riccardo Paolucci has published a numismatic bibliography of medieval and modern Friuli-Venezia Giulia, the northeast Italian region bordering Austria, Slovenia and the Adriatic Sea. -Editor

Northeast Italy Numismatic Bibliography book cover Bibliografia Numismatica Medioevale e Moderna del Friuli-Venezia Giulia
by Riccardo Paolucci
€ 30.00

Another volume of the abundant specialized bibliography on the medieval coinage of the Italian region by Riccardo Paolucci. The director of Rare Books & Fine Arts in 64 pages lists all the books, articles and extracts that speak of the coins of this region.

For more information, or to order, write:

Head of Department Numismatic
27 Old Gloucester Street
London WC1N 3AX
Tel. +44 (0) 20 86385494
mob. +39 346 5379883
h 10-13; 14-17 from tuesday to friday


Owen Linzmayer publishes The Banknote Book, a useful, constantly updated electronic reference. The chapter on the banknotes of Spain is now available for $9.99. -Editor

Banknote Book Spain chapter cover The Spain chapter of The Banknote Book is now available for individual sale and as a free download to subscribers.

This 115-page catalog covers notes issued by the Banco Nacional de San Carlos (National Bank of Saint Charles) from 1783 to 1798, Banco Español de San Fernando (Spanish Bank of Saint Ferdinand) from 1830 to 1852, Banco de Isabel Segunda (Bank of Isabella II) in 1844, Banco de España (Bank of Spain) from 1856 to 1992, and Ministerio de Hacienda (Ministry of Finance) from 1937 to 1938. Published 18.05.2020.

Each chapter of The Banknote Book includes detailed descriptions and background information, full-color images, and accurate valuations. The Banknote Book also features:

  • Sharp color images of note's front and back without overlap
  • Face value or date of demonetization if no longer legal tender
  • Specific identification of all vignette elements
  • Security features described in full
  • Printer imprint reproduced exactly as on note
  • Each date/signature variety assigned an individual letter
  • Variety checkboxes for tracking your collection and want list
  • Date reproduced exactly as on note
  • Precise date of introduction noted when known
  • Replacement note information
  • Signature tables, often with names and terms of service
  • Background information for historical and cultural context
  • Details magnified to distinguish between note varieties
  • Bibliographic sources listed for further research

To read the complete article, see:
Spain chapter of The Banknote Book is now available (

For more information, or to order, see:
The Banknote Book: Spain (!

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In February the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society (EPNNES) invited applications for the 2020 Newman Grant program to financially assist numismatic authors and organizations pursuing original research in American numismatics. The first set of Newman Grants was announced on May 25, 2019, date of the late Eric P. Newman's birthday. Here's the press release. -Editor

Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society Announces Newman Grants

EPNNES logo The Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society (EPNNES) today announces its second set of Newman Grants, created to financially assist numismatic authors and organizations pursuing original research in American numismatics. Newman Grants are awarded annually on the late Eric P. Newman's birthday and assist with direct costs of numismatic research such as travel, photography, and graphic arts services.

Six awards are being made this year, touching on varied aspects of numismatics including colonial and obsolete paper money, colonial coinage, medallic art, and black numismatics. The 2020 Newman Grant awardees are:

James Ehrhardt will trace Iowa obsolete currency as it flowed between central and branch banks and develop quantitative analysis of surviving examples. Ehrhardt, professor emeritus at the University of Iowa, co-authored Iowa National Bank Notes (2006, with Steven J. Sweeney), based on the Higgins Museum collection in Okoboji, IA.

Harcourt Fuller, Fulbright Global Scholar, will produce a documentary on black money focusing on world currencies that feature themes of Africa and its related diaspora. Fuller, associate professor at Georgia State University, created the Black Money Exhibit (, a traveling display that uses paper money to examine history and culture of people of African descent.

Chris McDowell will continue his investigation of the Fugio cent series, with travel to the Birmingham Library (UK) to work with the Matthew Boulton papers, and to New York to research the C. Wyllys Betts archive. This builds upon McDowell's existing work on Fugio cent restrikes, recently published in the Journal of Early American Numismatics.

Ángel Navarro Zayas will explore the General Archive of the Indies, located in Spain, for legislative documents related to Spanish paper money that circulated in colonial Louisiana. Navarro Zayas previously published research on this topic in The Numismatist.

William Nyberg will study the United States Mint involvement in the production of early 19th century revenue stamps. Nyberg will be traveling to the National Archives and Records Administration facility in College Park, MD, to examine Mint documents from this period. Nyberg first explored this subject in Robert Scot: Engraving Liberty (2015).

Steve Roach, former Coin World Editor-in-Chief, will study the relationship between numismatic works and other commissions received by early 20 th century U.S. Mint engravers, including Anthony De Francisci, James Earle Fraser, Adolph Weinman, and Daniel Chester French. Roach will work with the French papers at Williams College (Williamstown, MA), and the Saint-Gaudens archive at Dartmouth (Hanover, NH).

It is the hope of EPNNES that this program will continue the legacy of Eric P. Newman in a way that would reflect his high standards for numismatic research.

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:


These are selections from the David Lisot Video Library that feature news and personalities from the world of coin collecting. David has been attending coin conventions since 1972 and began videotaping in 1985. The Newman Numismatic Portal now lists all David's videos on their website at:

Here's one from the archives on the 1987 ANA convention in Atlanta, GA. -Editor

David Lisot interviews Stephen Taylor CoinTelevision Archives: American Numismatic Association Convention Highlights Atlanta, Georgia 8/27/87

David Lisot interviews Stephen Taylor, president elect of the American Numismatic Association, who talks about goals of the ANA and his plans for membership. He speaks with Napoleon Gomez, Director of the Mexico Mint, who has brought an antique press to strike coins at the convention. Finally David shares with Ronald J. Gillio who helped get the Mexico City Mint to come the ANA.

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

1921 Silver Coin Anniversary Act


Last week we looked at how Philadelphia addressed the yellow fever epidemic in the 1790s. This article discusses the lasting changes disease-fighting efforts brought to cities. -Editor

closed New York street

In 1793, a yellow fever outbreak in Philadelphia killed 5,000 people – about 10% of what was then the U.S. capital's population. At the time Philadelphia, like all American cities, had no municipal garbage services. Hogs roamed streets and ate garbage.

On the advice of prominent doctors who redirected blame for the outbreak away from immigrant communities toward sanitizing the city – presciently, since germ theory had not yet been invented – Philadelphia's mayor authorized emergency funding to treat the sick and clean the gutters.

Such efforts were a harbinger of urban planning reforms, as cities would take on the costly job of garbage removal and create sanitation departments over the next 50 years. These measures greatly improved residents' health in the short and long term. They also added alleyways to cities, for garbage removal.

When contaminated water brought waves of cholera sweeping through the U.S. in the 1850s, cities across the country birthed the twin agencies of public health and urban planning to make and enforce regulations. In the same period, New York City's Board of Health made way for Central Park – the nation's first public park – on the premise that open urban space improved human and environmental health.

The park housed a reservoir designed to deliver fresh, clean water to the burgeoning city. It received water from one of the nation's first great aqueducts.

For the first time New York's housing development was planned, with growth attached to funding for sewer and water lines. By 1916, this patchwork of development directives was compiled into the U.S.‘s first citywide zoning code.

Cities everywhere followed New York's example, taking control of land use and vanquishing waterborne pathogens like cholera and polio by the mid-1900s.

Thankfully the days of open sewers and horse droppings are behind us now. But what's next? -Editor

Common-sense steps cities can take to fight the coronavirus are emerging.

One promising pilot involves closing some streets to cars, as Oakland and New York, among others, have done. This allows city dwellers to get outside and walk – but not too close together – as recommended for maintaining physical and mental health.

Such pilot closures may eventually "unpave the way," creating urban greenbelts for walking and biking at a safe distance in even the densest of places.

... American cities have triumphed over infectious diseases many times before. I'm hopeful we can do it again.

To read the complete article, see:
How pandemics have changed American cities – often for the better (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

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This ANA press release reviews the current situation of planning for the 2020 World's Fair of Money. -Editor

ANA World's Fair of Money Planning Continues
August Convention Remains on the Schedule

2020 Pittsburgh ANA World's Fair of Money While the country begins to re-open for business and stay-at-home restrictions are lifted, the American Numismatic Association (ANA) continues to plan for the World's Fair of Money. The premier convention features all things related to coin collecting. This year, the ANA is returning to Pittsburgh, Penn., Aug. 4-8.

Amid the pandemic, the ANA has been communicating with the convention committee of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The situation is fluid and the status of the show depends on COVID-19 restrictions set up by the State of Pennsylvania. At present, the City of Pittsburgh is following the guidance of Governor Tom Wolf, and final decisions have not yet been made regarding summer convention center activities.

"This show will not look like a typical World's Fair of Money," said ANA Executive Director Kim Kiick. "We're working closely with the convention center on modifying meeting rooms to adhere to social distancing protocols and local regulations for lectures, meetings and receptions."

Some of the changes to the convention could include a more spread out bourse floor to accommodate appropriate distancing between tables, moving presentations to a virtual format and providing supplies such as hand sanitizer, masks and digital thermometers to take the temperatures of attendees.

Given the current state of affairs and a lack of clear guidance from the State of Pennsylvania and the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, the ANA is unable to provide more information at this time. The association continues to closely monitor COVID-19 developments, both locally and nationally, and will keep the public informed with any updates.

"As each day passes, the country continues to adjust and adapt better to the virus," said ANA President Steve Ellsworth. "Restrictions continue to be eased and each day the status of the show improves. Many dealers, exhibitors and members are still registering to attend the show – we continue to get requests for dealer space from new dealers – and our first priority in planning for this event is the health and safety of our members."

If the ANA is unable to move forward with the World's Fair of Money, all payments by exhibitors, dealers and members to the ANA will be fully refunded or given credit towards the 2021 World's Fair of Money.

Questions, concerns or feedback about the upcoming convention can be sent to

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Here's the latest compilation of coronavirus updates from readers, organizations and companies. -Editor

Royal Canadian Numismatic Association 2020 Convention Cancelled (May 20, 2020)
From the press release:

RCNA logo "As we all are intimately aware, the world is confronting the greatest health crisis of our generation, and most likely of the last century. Our thoughts are with each of you in our collector society, your families, your clubs and their members, and your broader communities. We wish each of you the best, and an optimistic hope that this will pass safely for all of us in due course.

It is with sadness that we must announce that The Royal Canadian Numismatic Association's 2020 annual convention, planned for July in Halifax, has been cancelled. We must look first to the health and safety of our collector family, and it does not appear to us that we can hold our 2020 convention in July and uphold that obligation, which has to remain our foremost consideration. Your Executive would have announced this decision earlier, but the hotel at which our convention was to be held took the position that we must wait until two months before the planned start of our convention to determine if the convention could still be held, based on what was known at that date (May 20).

If you have already registered for the convention, for a full refund, please contact our Executive Secretary at or by phone at (647) 401-4014.

We are happy to say that our annual Convention Medal will still be available in Silver, Copper and Nickel in very limited mintages. If you are interested in purchasing a medal contact our Executive Secretary.

In addition, we are still in talks with our auction company to work out the details of an on-line only auction later this year. Further announcements will be made as they are confirmed."

Canadian Coin News Closing Physical Office (May 21, 2020)

Canadian Coin News logo "Due to a substantial rent increase, CCN is moving to a virtual office at the end of this month.

"Supply purchases through Coin & Stamp Supplies, a department of Trajan Media, which publishes CCN and Canadian Stamp News, will continue to be available online at as well as coin shows. As of May 25, all CCN employees will be working from their homes, and Managing Partner Mike Walsh says subscribers and consumers will not see any changes in customer service as phone numbers and emails will stay the same.

"COVID-19 proved to us that today's technological advances can position conventional businesses to operate outside of the traditional brick-and-mortar shops," says Walsh. "The only noticeable, physical change is customers will no longer be able to visit and buy supplies at the office."

To read the complete article, see:
CCN relocating with no retail outlet (

How Nonprofits Can Cope (May 20, 2020)

A Wall Street Journal article by the director of the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, TX discusses creative ways for a nonprofit organization to avoid layoffs during the coronavirus shutdown. Here's an excerpt. -Editor

I decided that our survival strategy had to be keeping everyone employed in a whole new way, all while they worked from home.

So I shifted our program from being visitor-driven to something new. I started by doing an analysis of our budget. Of our overall expenses, 60% represents staff costs with the remaining 40% being programmatic and departmental expenses.

We didn't want to cut the amount needed to support staff, whether our doors were closed or open. That left us cutting all remaining programmatic and departmental line items we could find, from installation costs and supplies to advertising and summer programs.

I asked my department heads, ranging from communications and membership to facilities and collections management, to come up with a list of rainy-day initiatives that they'd always wanted to accomplish but never could, due to the normally never-ending cycle of planning and staging exhibitions. These weren't to be make-work jobs. This had to be mission-centric, both to have our staffers feel like they were adding value and to have them make the type of impact we and any donor would expect to see.

After developing a list of about 30 projects, we gave all our staff members a questionnaire asking them to rate themselves on skills ranging from visual literacy to writing to Photoshop. By matching skills to project requirements, we were able to reassign to various tasks 32 staff members whose jobs had been most at risk, even enlisting several as project managers.

While others, like our curators— who always welcome time for writing and research—could more easily work from home, everyone has been part of the redesigned museum in some way.

We introduced online "behind-the-scenes" talks alongside virtual exhibitions, which you've seen at other museums during the quarantine, but the bulk of the work wasn't sexy. These were, however, essential projects that advanced our mission and stretched our capabilities. So security guards now spend their days going through images on the Blanton website, writing alternative text descriptions for the visually impaired. It turned out that the museum's primary maintenance guy, who normally handles paint touch-ups and AC repair, has beautiful handwriting. The development department now has him writing thank-you notes to donors. Staffers who normally plan events or install art are now assembling digital dossiers on our more obscure artists, the kind for which the best research lurks in the corners of the internet rather than in books.

So far, the plan has worked and our team is paid. But it is a fragile equation that will continue to depend on philanthropic investment and constant innovation. We will, in time, open our doors again. But for now we are keeping the museum going—all of us.

To read the complete article (subscription required), see:
The Creative Way We Avoided Layoffs (

A Blind Coin Collector's Perspective (May 23, 2020)
In his May 23rd email, Tom Babinszki of the Blind Coin Collector blog writes:

tom-babinszki-and-baldwin "There is one thing I was trying to avoid, is to write about the coronavirus. I'm sure that you are bombarded with enough information, and you don't need yet another post. But the reality is, it does impact me in a very unique way as a blind coin collector. I may post something about this in the future, but in a nutshell, what do you do when you go out and explore new coins? Let that be in museums, coin stores, etc. You touch. Many things. In general, for me to get around in life, I need to touch many more things than sighted people, just to be aware of my surroundings. In the meantime, my surface is about doubled when I get around with my guide dog.

I am concerned that I will be picking up many more things than people in average, and leave many more than people in average. Not to mention that if service providers are concerned to have me around for the same reason, it is not necessarily discrimination. It is a valid concern. I will touch all around to find a door handle, the faucet, the counter, just about anything. Of course, I can wear gloves and switch them often, but as I say, when I wear gloves, I can't see. Things feel different, are much harder to identify, and I need to deal with not only my lack of vision, but with a major loss of touch. So, in the future, getting around as a coin collector will certainly take some consideration, not to mention everyday things. But that's the end, I'm done talking about the virus."

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

Bumper Tables

In the more-practical-than-a-hoop-skirt department, one Ocean City. MD restaurant introduced "bumper tables" to enforce social distancing. -Editor

Bumper tables

An event planning company in Baltimore has unveiled a unique way to socialize while practicing social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Revolution Event Design & Production created what it is calling a "bumper table," a table with wheels attached to the bottom of its legs and surrounded by an inflated inner tube. The creation keeps participants six feet from each other, but allows them the opportunity to talk, eat or drink in social settings.

"When COVID hit, we found ourselves with a lot of time on our hands because people aren't exactly booking events in the immediate future," said Erin Cermak, Revolution's founder and CEO, who hatched the idea for the bumper tables. "We wanted to come up with a creative and fun way to keep everyone safe and compliant, but still bring back the social and festive and party aspect of the event. So we've been working on a number of different products, and this is the first one that we're launching."

The bumper tables made their debut Saturday at Fish Tales, a restaurant in Ocean City. Cermak is a cousin of Donna Harman, who along with her husband Shawn have owned Fish Tales for 37 years.

To read the complete article, see:
‘Bumper tables' made of inner tubes: Here's how one Ocean City restaurant plans to enforce social distancing (

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Kavan Ratnatunga writes:

"Our banknotes in circulation may never look the same if Far UVC (207-222nm) lighting is put up in public places to curb COVID-19."

Far-UVC kight in occupied public spaces

Kavan included a link to a videoconference with Columbia University scientists examining the possibility of deploying special lighting in public spaces to curb the transmission of diseases such as the coronavirus. It's non-numismatic, but as noted could make banknotes look different since many of them incorporate anti-counterfeiting features that become visible in ultraviolet light. Here's a vivid example from an earlier article on a Canadian Passport UV light light anti-counterfeiting feature. -Editor

New Canadidan Passport in normal light new Canadian passport under a black light

To watch the video, see:
David Brenner, COVID-19 Virtual Symposium: April 8, 2020 (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

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Harvey Stack submitted this letter in response to Dan Hamelberg's great summary of the Stack's Fixed Price List series. Thanks! -Editor

Stack's Fixed Price Lists

The information provided about the Stack's Price List Mystery is one that I have not been able to solve since at least 1953. We moved from 46th Street that year, to 57th St.

All things were either boxed or sent on a liftback truck from one location to another. Though there were but three of the Stack Family available at the time of the move, our staff helped us greatly in bundling, securing and sending the items from one address to another. Though before 1951 Ben decided to try to open a new shop in Vegas and left, and in 1952 Norman was drafted into the army. So Morton my father, and Joseph my uncle each stayed at one of the locations, and I being the "young and strong" Stack rode the liftback trucks, carrying show cases, large coin cabinets, stock drawers and coins, and furniture the move.

One of the things that got lost was our "extra supply", which we had of our various Price Lists. Where they went (I hope not in trash), could not be found. Even in the 1980's I made a search of our storage rooms in the basement of 123 West 57th Street, but never found either our library copies or the "extras' we tried to retain.

To us, each Price list was a salesman we mailed to our growing mailing lists, and was what we had available in stock, and sold either over the counter or by mail. In the 1930's when we started mailing these price lists with or in addition to our Public Auction Sale Catalogs, were important additions to our sales promotions. Not everyone could come to New York to visit our showroom, so we offered different series, United States, Foreign and Ancient Coins to our clients in the rest of the country.

The price lists were great augmenters to our retail sales. It also provided us in the shop with a single value to sell from our inventory.

Now that you provided us with a list in The E-Sylum, and then learned that NNP is publishing all they have, the collectors will have a source of what might have been ' available during the early years as our hobby grew, what the market would pay for some of these items, give us a uniform pricing schedule for over the counter sales.

One look back at the prices that coins sold for in the 1930's to the 1960's is a good indication about value at the times and the demand for certain issues.

Stack's was also a great depository of late issue coins, getting quantities from the Denver and San Francisco mints each year, and offering many as single items to help fill the "albums" of the young and old collectors. Not every mint could be found around New York or in the average hometown, so to have a supply to offer, made us a very popular place to deal with.

To compare availability of various dates and mints was cherished by most we served. We even had sections in some of our later price lists which included ancient and foreign coins.

So combining our large, warm retail offices, together with our numerous public Auction Sales and also our varied Fixed Price Lists, all contributed to our growth.

Few in the country ever competed with us in the earlier days, since the Guide book and Standard Catalogs were not issued in any quantity in the 1940's, Coin World and the Numismatic News did not start circulating 'til the early 1950's and grew slowly, so the "free mailings" from Stack's became a great source of reference.

My full time days at Stack's started in 1947 and continues to the present days, as I went through various numismatic happenings (some in the present Stack's Bowers Blogs each week, and also repeated in CoinWeek, The E-Sylum and Numismatist), that can provide those who want to know what "GROWING UP IN A NUMISMATIC FAMILY' entailed during the majority of last century and all of our present one.

I hope the above fills in some of the information that you provided, and thank you again for your time and effort in providing it to the E-Sylum readers.

Dave Hirt writes:

"I enjoyed reading Dan Hamelberg's comments on the Stack's FPL's. I congratulate him on having one from 1929. I had never heard of any that far back. I have a collection of 64 different ones, although I have not bought any the last ten years. Interesting, the lists that Dan is missing are also missing from my set. Perhaps none were issued with those numbers.

When I was buying them, they were inexpensive. I believe that I got some in Fred Lake's sales, others at dealers' bargain boxes at coin shows. One list that there was demand for was list #27, 1942. That list was written by a young John Ford before he left for the Army in World War II. I have seen that list bring around $50 at auction.

I got a bit of nostalgia looking at some of the lists from the 1940's. Choice and rare coins were priced so cheap, that compared to today it seemed as if they were giving them away!"

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:


Len Augsburger and Joel Orosz are embarking on a fresh census of the rare "first edition" of The Fantastic 1804 Dollar. -Editor


Newman Fantastic 1804 Dollar The Fantastic 1804 Dollar, published in the autumn of 1962, is an evergreen work of numismatic scholarship, weighing in at #26 in the Numismatic Bibliomania Society's "One Hundred Greatest Items of United States Numismatic Literature." While long out of print, Fantastic was published in sufficient quantities to make it available to current-day scholars and collectors for a moderate price. This standard edition, however, was preceded by an earlier edition, bound in exactly the same fashion, and printed in a limited quantity. This "first edition" of The Fantastic 1804 Dollar is more accurately described as "bound page proofs," initially meant to be circulated to selected numismatists for pre-publication review.

Before these reviews could take place, however, the sensational announcement that a previously- untraced fifteenth example of the 1804 silver dollar had been located rendered parts of Fantastic obsolete, and required the co-authors, Eric P. Newman and Kenneth E. Bressett, to rewrite several sections of the book before it could be published. The bound page proof copies, no longer useful for proofreading, became instant collector's items, and have been centerpieces of many of the finest numismatic libraries assembled over the past 58 years.

Articles have been written about this distinctive volume of bound page proofs, and trial listings of survivors have been offered (including one by Wayne Homren, published in 2001, in The Asylum, the journal of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society). Part of this book's appeal has been its rarity; it is estimated that only 36 to 40 copies were produced, and some may not survive today. On the other hand, because these bound page proofs are indistinguishable from the standard edition due to their identical size and binding, it is possible that more "first editions" exist than the estimates suggest. Moreover, a handful of previously undescribed copies have surfaced over the past few years, making the question of the exact size of the surviving population all the more intriguing.

Fantastic 1804 Dollar TOC
Coin World graphic of Tables of Contents from the two variants

The undersigned, therefore, with the consent, advice, and help of the book's co-author Kenneth Bressett, have decided to undertake a thorough census of all surviving bound page proof copies of The Fantastic 1804 Dollar, and to ask for the help of all numismatists to make the census as accurate and as complete as humanly possible. If you own a copy of the bound page proofs (key diagnostic: in the bound page proof table of contents, chapter IX is entitled "The Diplomatic Gift Delusion"; in the standard edition, chapter IX is entitled "The Origin of the 1804 ‘Originals'"), we ask you to share the following information with us:

1. Description of the book's condition: with any interior or exterior damage or identifying marks noted.

2. Provenance of the book: The source from which you purchased the book; date of purchase; the lot number if at auction; the price you paid; and any stamps or bookplates of previous owners.

3. Annotations or corrections: if any are made within the text, please report them. Similarly, if there are loose enclosures that came with the book, please describe their contents.

4. Autographs signed, or inscriptions written: by the co-authors, or anything written in the book by a subsequent owner.

If you do not wish your name to be published, your request will be honored, and strict confidentiality will be preserved at all times.

Please send this information by June 24, 2020 to the co-authors:
Len Augsburger at
Joel J. Orosz at

Our findings will be published in The Asylum, the official journal of The Numismatic Bibliomania Society, as soon as the census can be confirmed and completed. Thank you in advance for your assistance with this project.

Double check your copy, bibliophiles! Is there a hidden gem in your library? And if you don't already have a copy, used versions are available online for as low as $5 or $10. Is one of these a rarity? Only one way to find out! -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

To read 1804 Dollar Book articles in the Summer 2001 Asylum, see:
The Asylum, Summer 2001 (

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Gil Parsons submitted these thoughts on the arrangement of books. Thanks! -Editor

David Powell, in the E-Sylum of two weeks ago, had asked for comment on the arrangement of books on shelves, so I offer two bits: The first is the horrific tale of a client of mine, a thorough and passionate collector of Zane Grey whose collection included ephemera, binding variants, multiple editions, etc, all expertly organized. He came home one day to discover that the housekeeper had rearranged the shelves by color!!

The second item I offer, as a brief reprint from the introduction to our Anniversary Catalogue:

Lunacy and the Arrangement of Books cover "The chronological ordering of the items is, in any case, neither casual nor arbitrary--We have had our share of arbitrary schemes, most notably when the entire stock was arranged alphabetically--Martin Luther adjoining Joseph Lister, thereby proving the truth of the adage that cleanliness be next to godliness, or if one be of a different theological cast, that apostasy bestrode apothecy. But this arrangement was not considered sufficiently noteworthy, and somehow escaped the notice of Terry Belanger in his Lunacy and the Arrangement of Books. One supposes that that booksellers resort to such arrangements often enough, so our lunacies must be discovered more subtly, and we are not yet subject to the strictures of the unfortunate Alexander Cruden the bookseller (of the early eighteenth century) who is said to have modeled the straitjacket at an early stage of its development as fashionable attire."

By the way, Belanger's short book is an hysterical read...

I was unaware of the Belanger book. Sounds fun - perfect for us biblio-lunatics! -Editor

Gil adds:

"I neglected to mention two easy solutions for shelving books of disparate sizes if it be important to keep them arranged by topic--First, take a two-by-four short piece, place it on edge under the shorter book (use a one-by-four if the book be thin, or a two-by-six if the size issue be more extreme, two two-by-fours side by side if the shorter book be thick...).

"Second, if direct display or visual accessibility be not crucially important, use an archival folder of the type with the internal pockets. Folders can all be the same size (say 8.5 by 11 or whatever) and the added pocket gives an opportunity conveniently to house notes or anything related to the book...some designs of these folders even give sufficient space for a spine label."

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: MAY 10, 2020 : On Storing and Finding Books (

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Quiz: Whose Library is This?


Pete Smith writes:

"Can any E-Sylum reader identify this library? Hint #1: The owner of the house was a numismatic author. Hint #2: The photo was taken in 1930. Hint #3 The current house owner is more famous than the man who built the house."

Interesting. Looks cozy. Guesses anyone? -Editor

Query: Disappearance of Jack D. Hazelwood
Dave Bowers writes:

"A major mystery—or was it a scandal?—arose in autumn 1969 when Jack D. Hazelwood, age 32, who had operated a coin business in Wichita, Kansas since 1957, disappeared, leaving his wife and four children behind. Immediately prior to this he had received on approval many rare coins from various dealers, ostensibly to show to a wealthy client. A vault was opened and found to contain many coins, a discovery that added to the mystery as there was no indication why these had not disappeared as well. I can find no record of resolution of the situation."

Dave is working on a Whitman book describing American numismatics from 1932 to date. Contact him directly with any relevant information. He can be reached at . Thanks. -Editor

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Dick Johnson submitted this entry from his Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Terminology. Thanks. -Editor

1893 Indian Temple Pressed Paper Medal obverse 1893 Indian Temple Pressed Paper Medal reverse
1893 Indian Temple Pressed Paper Medal, Eglit-242.
From Goldberg Coins:

Masticated Paper. Certainly not a typical composition for medals, ground and moistened paper – particularly retired currency – is molded into forms and dried. Medals and small three-dimensional objects have been made of this unusual composition. Formerly retired paper currency was burned, beginning in 1870, however, it was recycled into masticated form. The major artist using this ersatz composition was W.H. Abbott (fl 1876-1928) who fashioned small statues (of U.S. Capitol, White House and such). He also made masticated medals and plaques with a George Washington portrait. The color of masticated currency is gray from the presence of the inks embedded in the white paper.

I added the illustration. Although this is a paper medal, I don't believe it is masticated paper. It wasn't easy finding an image of ANY paper medal. I located this through the Newman Numismatic Portal, but only after following some false leads of a poorly OCR'd Papal medal and "newspaper medal" results. -Editor

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.

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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 Maj. William Wetmore. -Editor
William Wetmore correspondence with the Chapman Brothers
Wetmore correspondence with the Chapman Brothers

Wetmore, Maj. William Boerum (1849-1919), 167 Madison Avenue, New York; 5 Waverly Place, Greenwich Village, New York, and Allenhurst New Jersey. He is the son of Samuel Wetmore (1812-1885) and Sarah T. Boerum (1820-1899) born on December 7, 1849. A friend of John Work Garrett (1820-1884) he was admitted to West Point upon recommendation by President Johnson from a request made by Garrett. He was a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, 1867-72, served in the Indian War of 1874 and the Battle of Red River, and was a Cavalry Major 9th Regt. N.G.S.N.Y. 1879-1882 . In 1875 he published his address in Winner's Coin & Stamp Journal as Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Sometime in 1877 he purchased from Henry Ahlborn (q.v.), a VF 1794 silver dollar.

His second marriage was to Katherine B. Havercamp . His collection of 1290 lots sold through the Samuel Hudson Chapman and Henry Chapman, 82nd sale. on June 27-28, 1906. Durst 674. Adams rating A. Contained ancient, Judaic, foreign coins, medals and gold, United States coins, medals, paper money, fractional currency, patterns and colonials. Among them was the famous Class I "Cohen Specimen" 1804 Silver Dollar.

He was an active life member of the ANS since May 20, 1879.

To read the complete article, see:

For additional information on Maj. Wetmore and his collection, see Len Augsburger's article "The ANS Chapman Files: Major William Boerum Wetmore" in the 2006 No. 2 issue of our print journal The Asylum. -Editor

To read the Asylum article on the Newman Numismatic Portal, see:

WILLIAM W. C. WILSON (1869-1924)

Darryl Atchison submitted this biography of Canadian mega-collector W.W.C. Wilson. Thank you! -Editor

Wilson, William Walter Coulthard (1869 - 1924)

Wilson Day 2 Sale William W.C. Wilson was born on November 25th, 1869. He was one of five children born to James Crockett Wilson and Jeanne Kilgour. He lived for many years at Beauharnois but later moved to Montreal where his home was at 111 Crescent Street. He was a partner in the firm of J.C. Wilson Paper.

He began collecting coins at an early age and being of considerable wealth he put together the finest collection of Canadian coins, medals and tokens ever assembled by one person up to that time. He visited England and the continent on numerous occasions to attend coin sales and most of the patterns in today's collections on this continent were brought across the ocean by Mr. Wilson.

The 1909 convention of the A.N.A. was held in Wilson's home city, Montreal and Wilson played a prominent role on the organizing and entertainment committees. During this convention, Mr. Wilson was approached by Theophile Leon regarding the disposition of The Numismatist. In 1910 he purchased the rights to publish The Numismatist from Mr. Farran Zerbe who (having bought the publication from the estate of the late Dr. George F. Heath) had published the magazine as a private enterprise. In 1911 Mr. Wilson turned these rights over to the American Numismatic Association as a gift thus putting it completely in the hands of the A.N.A. staff.

So great was Wilson's penchant for collecting rarities that Bowman states: "During the later years of Mr. Wilson's collecting there was a noticeable scarcity of rare Canadian coins on this continent as Mr. Wilson had them all."

Wilson died on March 16th, 1924 at the age of fifty-five years.

After his death his collection was sold at auction on behalf of the estate by Wayte Raymond in New York in four separate auctions, in 1925, 1926, 1927 and 1928. The collection included the following rarities: four pieces of French playing-card money, two Gloriam Regni 15 sols, eight Gloriam Regni 5 sols, 107 Franco-American jetons, Papineau halfpenny in silver with two reverses, 1844 Papineau halfpenny in silver, forty-seven side-view bank tokens, sixty-two Montreal bridge tokens, sixteen copper and twenty-four silver modern Montreal bridge token restrikes, six 1837 Bank of Montreal front-view pennies, two 1845 Bank of Montreal halfpennies, six Lauzon Ferry tokens, six Owen Ropery tokens, six Maysenholder and Bohle tokens, four Hunterstown tokens, five Weir and Larminie encased-postage tokens, many exceptionally rare Bouquet Sous varieties, eight Lesslie twopence tokens, three original Copper Company of Upper Canada medals and nine restrikes, three of Myddelton's Kentucky Settlements tokens, four Jamaica-on-cask sloop tokens, eight sets of Hudson's Bay Company tokens, eight Northwest Company tokens, four 1858 Newfoundland Ship tokens, three McAuslane token from St. John's, Newfoundland, six sets of colonial anchor currency, four McDermott tokens, eight Prince Edward Island sheaf-of-wheat tokens, two sets of Anse Canot tokens, exceptionally rare Ships, Colonies and Commerce token varieties (including Breton 999), 1825 Bust and Harp token, one gold Beaver Club medal made for Henry MacKenzie, sixty-six Indian Chief medals, one hundred and sixty-five Canadian war medals, twenty Governor General medals, thirty-two pattern and one hundred and sixty-two proof Canadian decimal coins.

After several failed attempts to have him elected, a number of vocal supporters finally managed to have him inducted into the A.N.A. Hall of Fame in 2012.

(The information above is primarily from Collectors of Canadian Coins of the Past (1972) by Fred Bowman and supplemental material is catalogued in the Canadian Numismatic Bibliography)

Biography : Canadian Numismatic Journal : Vol. 1, no. 9 (Sep. 1956) - p. 178 - 179
Obituary : Numismatist : Vol. 37, no. 5 (May 1924) – p. 371

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The latest article in Harvey Stack's blog series is about the genesis of the Apostrophe Auctions of 1979-1990. Thanks, Harvey -Editor

Stack Numismatic Family 1964

After our sale at the 1976 ANA Convention was completed, a group of dealers gathered in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel to discuss our success selling this massive group of coins in a single sale. Ed Rochette, the executive director of the ANA, asked a group of us if we could have a private talk about future ANA sales. I was exhausted after selling thousands of lots during the past few days, but a meeting was important, so I attended.

Ed explained that the ANA was expanding and need more space at the headquarters in Colorado Springs. He said that running the conventions was becoming more expensive and that there was a limit to what they could charge dealers for their bourse tables. The ANA Board had decided that the fees bid by dealers to hold the ANA convention auctions would have to be increased. Stack's had paid more than $50,000 for the 1976 auction; this higher amount was get the addition to the ANA library finished. Now it turned out that the board wanted to institute a minimum bid of $250,000 to get the annual contract. Dealers could then bid more than that to try and get the sale. If there had been room where were to faint, all of us would have been on the floor.

Those of us in the dealer group tried to explain that while market values for coins had increased, they were leveling off and some were going down. In addition, the costs of catalog production, printing, and mailing were going up, as were the expenses to conduct the actual auction. We all objected, as a quarter of a million dollars was far more than any sale was worth in the current market and stated that we could not run a sale without losing money if the fee was that high.

Ed, speaking for the board, said that they felt it could be done and that the rise in market prices meant that the auctioneers should be willing to pay more. We told him we would think about it, but that initially he would have to go to others to get an auctioneer that was willing to pay that amount.

The group of dealers left the meeting and decided we needed to discuss it, as it was a scary idea for us to contemplate. We found a conference room that wasn't in use and ordered some drinks and food. During the meeting we all said in different ways, we would all just have to forego the ANA convention as a place to run our sales. We thought about the idea of joining forces to run the sale, as had happened in 1952 when New Netherlands, Merkin, and a few others each gathered consignments and worked together to hold the sale.

Auction_79 sale cover Then the idea came to the table, as if each of us had the same thought. Why not work together to hold an auction, not during the ANA Convention, but a week or so before or after? As those of us who were at this meeting were considered the leading coin auctioneers at the time, we could not see any reason not to give this serious consideration. We thought it sounded like a good idea, so four companies made a tentative deal. Stack's, Paramount, Rarcoa and Superior would investigate the idea of joining together to hold an annual auction We did not want to hold it concurrent with the ANA Convention, as we wanted to continue to attend the ANA show and have bourse tables, a fact that depended on maintaining a relationship with the ANA. So we decided we would not bid for the upcoming ANA auctions and instead would seek out locations for our "Summer Sale." We would not hold our auction the first year we stopped bidding for the ANA sale. In fact, the first such auction would not be held until the summer of 1979.

The program would be simple. Each company would gather say 500 lots, making it a 2,000 lot sale. The catalogs would be sent by each of us to our mailing lists and we would individually represent our mail bidders so as to keep our clients confidential. The cost of running the sale would be shared, including the cost of the facilities, an early dinner before each evening session, the lot showing staff, and the many other expenses that are incurred to run a public auction. It would cost far less than Stack's paid to host the 1976 ANA convention auction and, of course, a pittance compared to the $250,000 that the ANA wanted to ask.

Dave Akers came up with the idea that we would call it the "Apostrophe Auction" and use the title "AUCTION '79." The names of all four companies would appear on the cover, all the same size. If the auctions continued, we would rotate the order in which the names appeared. We were energized by how this idea had so quickly grown into a project we were all excited about that gave us an alternative to trying to hold ANA auctions. The "Apostrophe Auctions," which would continue for over a decade, became a very important venue for Stack's and the other dealers involved.

To read the complete article, see:
Harvey Stack Remembers: Growing up in a Numismatic Family, Part 70 (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

To read a CoinWeek article about the Apostrophe sales, see:
Coin Market In-Depth: Remembering the Apostrophe Sales, 1978-1990 (

To read the Apostrophe sale catalogs on the Newman Numismatic Portal, see:
Apostrophe Sales (

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Wild Bill book cover It's always fun to learn more about numismatic personalities of the past. Recently we discussed coin dealer Eben Locke Mason, Jr. who was also well known in his day as the editor, personal friend, and traveling companion of Ned Buntline, the dime novelist who produced wild west and rifle shooting shows, and made Buffalo Bill famous.

While totally non-numismatic (there's not even a coin with a sharpshooter's bullet hole through it), here's a great look into what those Wild West shows were like. It's an excerpt from the Delancey Place blog, itself a delightful daily excerpt from a book, in this case Wild Bill: The True Story of the American Frontier's First Gunfighter by Tom Clavin. -Editor

In the 1870s, Buffalo Bill Cody had opened a new play called Scouts of the Plains to take advantage of Easterners' fascination with the exploits of the frontier. One of the characters in the play was Wild Bill Hickok, who was justifiably famed as a lawman and sharpshooter. To play the part of Wild Bill Hickok, Cody was able to recruit a reluctant Hickok, always short on cash, to come East and play himself. Though panned by critics, the play was a smash hit in New York.

He was hailed as something of a celebrity as the well-dressed gunfighter strode to and from the theater on Broadway near Prince Street. Inside Niblo's Garden, during performances, the audience was witnessing up close not one but two heroes of the American West, detailing their most dangerous and thrilling adventures. A few of them were actually true.

"The crowds were not put off by the sketchy acting and poor dialogue. 'The money was flowing in,' Louisa Cody recalled. 'Bad as the "stars" knew their play to be, it was what the public wanted, and that was all that counted. Week after week they played to houses that were packed to the roofs, while often the receipts would run close to $20,000 for the seven days. It was more money than any of us ever had dreamed of before.'

"Hickok felt like he was risking his integrity and dying a bit with every performance because he became further convinced that acting was a foolish occupation. One night, hoping to escape attention, he took one of his real pistols and shot out the spotlight that had been fixed on him. The audience applauded the dramatic reality of the production as well as Hickok's famous marksmanship.

When they realized that Hickok gave a more natural and compliant performance after a few shots of whiskey, they encouraged imbibing before the curtain went up -- until one night. One scene had Wild Bill, Texas Jack, and Buffalo Bill passing around a bottle as they sat at a campfire offering stories about adventures on the Great Plains. Fed up with the iced tea the bottle contained, Hickok suddenly spit it out and shouted, 'You must think I'm the worst fool east of the Rockies that I can't tell whiskey from cold tea!' He then called offstage for someone to bring him a bottle of real whiskey.

"The audience cheered in agreement. A bottle was produced, and Wild Bill took a long pull and then told a story as casually as if he'd been sitting at a gaming table in an Abilene saloon. That was the good news. The bad news was from that night on, Hickok wanted whiskey before and during each performance.

To read the complete article, see:

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:


AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS: Are your books carried by Wizard Coin Supply? If not, contact us via with details.


Gary Greenbaum writes:

"Here are some more photos from the Royal Mint Experience. I visited and also took the tour in 2017. At the time, you could strike your own one-pound coin and I did. I'd have to look for it though! The second image is that of a Janvier reducing lathe and the last is of gold and silver trial plates of known fineness to ensure the precious metal coinage was up to specs. "

Thanks. Great reasons to plan a visit to Llantrisant, Wales as travel resumes. -Editor

Royal Mint Experience 01 Royal Mint Experience 02 Janvier reducing lathe
Royal Mint Experience 03 Royal Mint Experience 04 gold and silver trial plates

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:


David Pickup submitted this article on some mishaps at the Royal Mint. Thanks! -Editor

Danger at the Mint

Continuing the series on coins and health, this time I want to look at the conditions mint workers experienced to produce coins.

pouring molten gold There are not many accounts of accidents at the Royal Mint. However on 21st April 1899 the Dover Express reported on an incident at the Tower Mint when three men were injured, one of them seriously. The workers were making granulated copper which means reducing the metal to small particles. This was done by pouring molten metal into water which is a dangerous thing to do if you think of the temperature shock between molten copper and water. When they did the crucible holding the metal fell to the floor and smashed spraying molten metal over the men.

One man had serious burns on his feet. History does not record what became of men, whether they lived or died or whether they could work again. This was an age of very little if any protective equipment. In the Victorian period the working conditions associated with the machinery must have been noisy, hot and unpleasant.

In medieval times coin making was done by hand and brute force. The men were probably only paid by the quantity produced and only made when coins were required. One reference states that that mint workers were often agricultural labourers working near their homes outside the walls of the City of London in the surrounding villages. Men may have preferred to work in daytime and in the Summer when the natural light was better and fingers were not numb with cold.

The Mint was hot and noisy and the buildings at The Tower were poorly maintained. The atmosphere was full of poisonous chemicals and gas produced by the metal working. Acid was used in the process and the raw metals would contain dangerous impurities. Making coins is basically cutting and shaping metal and hitting things hard and accurately. A miss-strike might mean a poorly struck coin or the loss of a finger or hand.

If you think about the working conditions the men endured we would probably not complain about an off-struck coin or a double strike.

For a discussion of a more deliberate death-by-gold, see:
Here's What Actually Happens During an Execution by Molten Gold (

To read David's earlier E-Sylum articles, see:

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In a May 22, 2020 email, Lief Davisson highlights selected lots in the Davisson's upcoming E-Auction 35. -Editor

To our readers in the U.S., Happy Memorial Day Weekend! This traditional start of summer seems to have come out of nowhere, particularly for those of us who have been staying home and social distancing for the last few months. In Minnesota now is the time when many head north for the weekend, visiting family summer cabins for the first time since last year. With non-essential travel discouraged and many businesses still closed, however, the solid lines of traffic heading out of town may be smaller today.

Our current E-Auction 35 is moving along well, with mail and online bids starting to arrive. Lots selected for our E-Auctions generally have lower estimates than those in our large auctions, but that does not diminish their interest or quality. A few ancients in particular deserve extra attention.

KINGS OF THRACE tetradrachm

Lot 24. KINGS OF THRACE. Celtic. Kabyle. Kavaros. Circa 230-218 B.C. AR tetradrachm. Extremely Fine.

In 279 B.C. the Celtic Gauls swept down into Thrace and Asia Minor, defeating the Greek armies trying to stop them. They occupied Thrace for the next five decades, ruling with a succession of kings. The Gallic chieftain Kavaros was the only Gallic king of Thrace to strike coinage in his own name. He used the types of Alexander the Great tetradrachms. He was the last ruler of the Galatian kingdom of Tylis in eastern Thrace, where he industriously extorted the surrounding Greek cities. He is known for helping negotiate peace in 220 B.C. between Byzantion, Rhodes, and Bithynia. His capital was Kabyle, and all his coins portray Artemis Phosphoros its badge, confirming they were all minted there. The obverse die for this issue was also used for earlier tetradrachms with reverses naming Kavaros in place of Alexander. His rule was ended when he was killed during a Thracian revolt against the Gauls around 218 B.C.

Group of coins of Sicily

Anyone who has browsed older sale catalogs can tell you that Greek bronzes in particular have benefitted greatly in modern cataloging. Now even modest lots receive photographs and are offered individually, rather than in slightly mysterious large lots. The small group of coins of Sicily in this auction are prime examples of this. With fine style and widely varied designs and denominations, Greek bronzes reflect the artistry of the silver issues but with substantial character all their own.

Claudius sestertius

Lot 50. Claudius. A.D. 41-54. Æ sestertius. With probably British countermark.

The emperor Claudius in A.D. 43 led the invasion of Britain, beginning the Roman occupation of the island that lasted until the fifth century. R. F. Kenyon, in his article "The Countermark PROB on coins of Claudius I from Britain" printed in The Numismatic Chronicle, Vol. 148 (1988), citing research by D. W. MacDowall and his own extensive study, concludes that most probably sestertii of Claudius such as this example were sent to Britain from the mint of Rome and countermarked PROB at a military center in Britain. The countermarks were always carefully struck, always in the right obverse field and never overlapping the imperial portrait.

Probus antoninianus

Lot 66. Probus. A.D. 276-282. Billon antoninianus. Superb example.

Late Roman coinage receives less attention on average, with the upside that beautiful pieces can be had for very reasonable estimates. Silvered antoninianii of Probus in particular can be found in remarkable condition, but few are quite so nice as this (and the following lot 67). Perfectly centered on a broad flan, with a reverse alluding to Probus's Germanic victories, we had trouble finding any other examples of this issue so nice.

For more information, or to bid, see:

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Here are some items that caught my eye in the upcoming June 2020 Stephen Album Rare Coins sale. -Editor

Lot 4: Alexander the Great Stater

Alexander the Great Stater obverse Alexander the Great Stater reverse

MACEDONIAN KINGDOM: Alexander III, the Great, 336-323, AV stater (8.53g), Amphipolis, Price-175, Head of Athena to right, wearing Corinthian helmet decorated with a coiled serpent // Nike standing, with wings spread, holding laurel wreath in her right hand and stylis in her left; to left, trident-head pointing left, choice EF.

A classic. -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:
MACEDONIAN KINGDOM: Alexander III, the Great, 336-323, AV stater (8.53g), Amphipolis. EF (

Lot 102: Sasanian Shahpur Dinar

Sasanian Shahpur Dinar obverrse Sasanian Shahpur Dinar reverse

SASANIAN KINGDOM: Shahpur (Sabuhr) I, 241-272, AV dinar (7.30g), Ctesiphon, G-21, diademed bust of Shapur right, wearing mural crown with korymbos // fire altar flanked by two attendants, each looking away from the fire and wearing mural crowns, two pellets right of the altar, lustrous and well struck example! ANACS graded MS64.

Nice example. Interesting piece. -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:
SASANIAN KINGDOM: Shahpur (Sabuhr) I, 241-272, AV dinar (7.30g), Ctesiphon. ANACS MS64 (

Lot 1227: Jodhpur Umaid Singh Mohur

Jodhpur Umaid Singh Mohur obverse Jodhpur Umaid Singh Mohur reverse

JODHPUR: Umaid Singh, 1918-1947, AV mohur (10.98g), Jodhpur, VS1984, KM-129, Fr-1228, Lingen-J.15.01, citing George V, daroga aum, very rare with legible VS date, almost certainly with last digit "4", but weak, PCGS graded MS64, RR, ex Pattabhi Raman Collection.

A simple but attractive piece. -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:
JODHPUR: Umaid Singh, 1918-1947, AV mohur (10.98g), Jodhpur, VS1984. PCGS MS64 (

Lot 1744: Saudi Arabia Gold Disc

Saudi Arabia Gold Disc obverse Saudi Arabia Gold Disc reverse

SAUDI ARABIA: AV pound, ND (1947), KM-35, struck at the United States Mint in Philadelphia, a lovely example! PCGS graded MS63, ex Wolfgang Schuster Collection. Issued to pay the Saudi Arabian government for oil rights.

A classic bullion piece with an interesting history. -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:
SAUDI ARABIA: AV pound, ND (1947). PCGS MS63 (

To read an earlier E-Sylum article, see:

Lot 1829: 1902 Edward VII Proof Set

1902 Edward VII Proof Set

GREAT BRITAIN: Edward VII, 1901-1910, proof set, 1902, KM-PS15, Spink-PS9, AGW 2.0018oz, 13-piece matte proof set including the ½, 1, 2, and 5 pound gold, and the Maundy Set; some pieces have been lightly cleaned including the gold, in original red plush case, mintage of only 8,066 sets, Proof, S.

Great set and box. What's not to like? -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:
GREAT BRITAIN: Edward VII, 1901-1910, proof set, 1902. PF (

Lot 2000: 1967 Australia Pattern Dollar

1967 Australia Pattern Dollar obverse 1967 Australia Pattern Dollar reverse

AUSTRALIA: AR pattern dollar, 1967, KM-XM2, unofficial issue by Andor Meszaros for Pinches, swan flying left; below, AUSTRALIA over small crown and date // large 100 over wattle tree, mintage of 1500 pieces, PCGS graded MS68, S. While this coin is not an official issue, it is now part of numismatic history that has attained significant status with collectors. When decimal currency was introduced in 1966, collectors were surprised to learn that a one dollar coin was not considered as part of the new lineup. The editor of the Australian Coin Review took up the challenge and conducted a competition among readers. The "Swan Dollar" (more commonly called the Goose Dollar) was the winning entry and the design was forwarded to the relevant Government Department. When the design was rejected, the competition organisers decided to have it privately minted.

I wasn't aware of this one. I like the clean obverse, but would have rejected the busy reverse myself. Great piece, though. -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:
AUSTRALIA: AR pattern dollar, 1967. PCGS MS68 (

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:

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Here's an excerpt from the press release for the Künker Summer Auction Sales 337-338, with images of some pieces that caught my eye. See the complete sale online for more. -Editor

Coins and Medals from Schleswig-Holstein: The Boyksen Collection
Lot 240 Holstein-Schauenburg triple reichstaler Lot 240 Holstein-Schauenburg triple reichstaler reverse
Lot 240

No. 32: Schleswig-Holstein. Frederick I, Danish king, 1490-1523-1533. Taler 1522, Husum. So-called Husum taler. Extremely rare. Very fine to extremely fine. Estimate: 50,000 euros

No. 124: Holstein-Gottorp. Johann Adolf, 1590-1616, as bishop of Lübeck. Portugaleser (10 ducats) n.d., Eutin. Extremely rare. About extremely fine. Estimate: 150,000 euros

No. 200: Holstein-Sonderburg. John the Younger, 1564-1622. Double reichstaler 1622, Reinfeld, commemorating John's death. Very rare. Very fine. Estimate: 15,000 euros

No. 240: Holstein-Schauenburg. Adolf XIII, 1581-1601. Broad triple reichstaler 1592, Altona. Extremely rare. Very fine to extremely fine. Estimate: 60,000 euros

No. 272: Holstein-Schauenburg. Justus Hermann, 1622-1635. Off-metal strike in gold of 4 ducats from the dies of the reichstaler from 1624. 2nd known specimen. Very fine. Estimate: 75,000 euros

Coins and Medals of the Counts and Princes of the House of Lippe

Lot 334 Lippe Simon Henry Reichstaler 1672 obverse Lot 334 Lippe Simon Henry Reichstaler 1672 reverse
Lot 334

No. 311: Lippe. Simon V, 1511-1536. Guldengroschen (taler) 1628, Lippstadt. So-called Köterberg taler. The only specimen on the market. Extremely fine. Estimate: 100,000 euros

No. 334: Lippe. Simon Henry, 1666-1697. Reichstaler 1672, Detmold. Extremely rare. Extremely fine +. Estimate: 30,000 euros

No. 337: Lippe. Simon Henry, 1666-1697. 5 ducats made with the dies of the ducat of 1673, Detmold. Extremely rare. Very fine +. Estimate: 40,000 euros

Mining and Yield Issues from the Dr. Werner Oschmann Collection

Lot 3400 Bavaria Maximilian II Ducat 1850 Lot 3400 Bavaria Maximilian II Ducat 1850 obverse
Lot 3400

No. 1138: Henneberg. Reichstaler 1698, Ilmenau. Yield from the mine of Ilmenau. Very rare in this quality. Almost FDC. Estimate: 2,500 euros

No. 1499: Saxony. Xavier, 1763-1768. Conventionsthaler 1765, Dresden. Award medal of the Freiberg mining academy. Rare. About extremely fine. Estimate: 2,000 euros

No. 1533: Saxony. Frederick Augustus II, 1836-1854. Vereinsdoppelthaler 1841 G. Diligence medal of the Freiberg mining academy. Only 200 specimens minted. Almost FDC. Estimate: 3,000 euros

No. 3400: Bavaria. Maximilian II, 1848-1864. Ducat 1850, made of Rhine river gold. Only ca. 500 specimens minted. Extremely fine. Estimate: 2,000 euros

Coins and Medals from the German States

Lot 1332 Paderborn Reichstaler 1716 obverse Lot 1332 Paderborn Reichstaler 1716 reverse
Lot 1332

No. 753: Brunswick / City. Double reichstaler 1624. 2nd known specimen. Very fine +. Estimate: 30,000 euros

No. 1270: Lübeck / City. Reichstaler (32 schillings) 1712. Very rare. Very fine to extremely fine. Estimate: 35,000 euros

No. 1332: Paderborn / Diocese. Franz Arnold von Wolff-Metternich zur Gracht, 1704-1718. Reichstaler 1716, Neuhaus. Extremely rare. Extremely fine to FDC. Estimate: 30,000 euros

Special Collection Bavaria

Lot 3380 Bavaria Charles Albert 10 ducats 1739 obverse Lot 3380 Bavaria Charles Albert 10 ducats 1739 reverse
Lot 3380

No. 475: Bavaria. Maximilian II Emanuel, 1679-1726. 1/2 reichstaler 1694, Munich. Very rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: 2,500 euros

No. 511: Bavaria. Charles Theodore, 1777-1799. Silver medal by A. Schäffer commemorating his predecessor, the deceased Elector Maximilian III Joseph. Very rare. About extremely fine. Estimate: 3,000 euros

No. 638: Bavaria. Ludwig I, 1825-1848. Vereinsdoppelthaler 1848. Handing over the reign to his son Maximilian. The rarest of Bavaria's "geschichtstaler" (commemorative coins of Ludwig I). Extremely fine +. Estimate: 1,500 euros

No. 3380: Bavaria. Charles Albert, 1726-1745. 10 ducats 1739, Munich. Extremely rare. Extremely fine to FDC. Estimate: 60,000 euros

Gold Coins and Medals from the German States

Lot 3431 Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. Charles II Ducat 1825 obverse Lot 3431 Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. Charles II Ducat 1825 reverse
Lot 3431

No. 3431: Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. Charles II, 1815-1830. Independent reign, 1823-1830. Ducat 1825. Yield of the mines in the Harz. Only 530 specimens minted. Almost FDC. Estimate: 10,000 euros

No. 3447: Wroclaw / City. Oval gold medal 1618, unsigned, commemorating champion marksman ("Vogelkönig") Nikolaus Haunoldt, councillor of Breslau (+1622). Very rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: 10,000 euros

No. 3476: Hatzfeld. Sebastian I von Hatzfeld-Wildenburg-Krottdorf, 1569-1630. Ducat 1597 (minted in 1666), Nuremberg. Extremely rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: 15,000 euros

No. 3506: Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Frederick Franz I, 1785-1837. 2 talers (gold) 1830, Schwerin. Extremely rare. Almost FDC. Estimate: 25,000 euros

German Coins After 1871

Lot 4378 Bavaria Ludwig III Pattern 20 marks 1914 obverse Lot 4378 Bavaria Ludwig III Pattern 20 marks 1914 reverse
Lot 4378

No. 4033: Hesse. Ludwig III, 1848-1877. 2 marks 1876. Proof. Estimate: 25,000 euros

No. 4242: Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Frederick William, 1860-1904. 10 marks 1873. Very rare. About extremely fine. Estimate: 30,000 euros

No. 4378: Bavaria. Ludwig III, 1913-1918. Pattern of 20 marks 1914 D, with edge inscription GOTT MIT UNS ("God with us") and arabesques of the usual 20 mark pieces. Gold. With round O. Extremely rare. FDC. Estimate: 15,000 euros

World Issues

Lot 1952 France 5 francs 1848 Pattern obverse Lot 1952 France 5 francs 1848 Pattern reverse
Lot 1952

No. 3272: Holy Roman Empire. Joseph II, 1765-1790. 4 ducats 1786 A. Extremely rare. Only few specimens minted. Extremely fine. Estimate: 40,000 euros

No. 3018: France. Philip IV le Bel, 1285-1314. Masse d'or n.d. (1296). Very rare. Very fine to extremely fine. Estimate: 10,000 euros

No. 3032: France. Louis XIII, 1610-1643. Huit louis d'or à la tête laurée 1640, Paris. Extremely rare. Very fine. Estimate: 100,000 euros

No. 1952: France. 5 francs 1848. Pattern in silver by Gayrard. Extremely rare. Extremely fine to FDC. Estimate: 3,500 euros

No. 3082: Great Britain. Charles I, 1625-1649. Triple Unite 1642, Oxford. Very rare. About extremely fine. Estimate: 50,000 euros

Russian Coins and Medals: The Collection of a "Lawyer from the North"

Lot 4583 Russia Elizabeth Rouble 1757 obverse Lot 4583 Russia Elizabeth Rouble 1757 reverse
Lot 4583

No. 4583: Russia. Elizabeth, 1741-1761. Rouble 1757, Saint Petersburg. Portrait by J. Dassier. Very rare. Very fine to extremely fine. Estimate: 25,000 euros

No. 4640: Russia. Paul I, 1796-1801. Gold medal weighing 10 ducats n.d. (1797) by C. Leberecht commemorating Paul's coronation in Moscow. Extremely rare. Extremely fine. Estimate: 50,000 euros

No. 4704: Russia. Nicholas I, 1825-1855. 1 1/2 roubles (10 zlotychs) 1836 (minted 1836/7), Saint Petersburg. Family rouble. Only 150 specimens minted. Extremely fine to FDC. Estimate: 30,000 euros

No. 4737: Russia. Alexander II, 1855-1881. Rouble 1859, Saint Petersburg. Very rare. Proof. Estimate: 20,000 euros

The catalogues can be ordered at Künker, Nobbenburger Straße 4a, 49076 Osnabrück; phone: +49 541 / 96202 0; fax: +49 541 / 96202 22; or via e-mail: You can access the auction catalogues online at If you want to use live bidding, please remember to register for this service in good time. Künker will inform about any changes, e.g. of the schedule or the location of the auction, in the Künker newsletter or at

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Here's a selection of interesting or unusual items I came across in the marketplace this week. Tell us what you think of some of these. -Editor

Ireland, Charles I Silver Ormond Halfcrown

Ireland, Charles I Silver Ormond Halfcrown

Ireland, Charles I (1625-49), silver Ormond Halfcrown, issued 1643-44, large crown over C.R, linear and outer toothed circles surrounding both sides, rev. value expressed in Roman numerals for Two Shillings and Sixpence, IIs VId, weight 14.59 (DF 292; S.6545). Toned, scratches on reverse, otherwise good very fine for issue, better than usually seen.

From Sovereign Rarities. -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:

1915 Proof Cuba 20 Pesos

1915 Proof Cuba 20 Pesos obverse 1915 Proof Cuba 20 Pesos reverse

Great piece from Heritage. -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:
Heritage Select. 170b. Cuba: Republic gold Proof 20 Pesos 1915 PR63 Cameo PCGS, Philadelphia mint, KM20, Fr-3. Mint... (

Double Struck 1787 Connecticut Copper

Double Struck 1787 Connecticut Copper obverse Double Struck 1787 Connecticut Copper reverse

Miller 30-hh.1, W-3175 variety, ET LIR type. Considered to be Rarity-2.

An unusual, extremely bold, neatly contrasted and quite interesting error coin with a second strike noted as 40% off center on the PCGS slab label.

Super coin. From the stock of Coin Rarities Online. -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:
1787 Connecticut Copper Double Struck (

Electrotype Cliches of 18th and Early 19th Century Medals

Electrotype Cliches of 18th and Early 19th Century Medals

Framed Collection of (16) Uniface Electrotype Cliches of 18th and Early 19th Century Medals.

Each medallic shell has been removed from the frame (which is included in this lot) to inspect the reverses. All have (or had) a copper nail soldered to the reverse for attachment to the frame.

These electrotypes form an impressive and curious collection including shells of early American as well as European medals. The most significant pieces are the Comitia Americana pieces as described below.

An electrotype of the reverse of the Anthony Wayne at Stony Point medal taken from the excessively rare original version of the medal, Betts-565; the reverse of the de Fleury at Stony Point medal, from the very rare original version, Betts-556; both obverse and reverse of the Daniel Morgan at Cowpens medal, Betts-593 from the copy dies; both obverse and reverse of the William Washington at Cowpens medal from the original dies, Betts-594; both sides of the John Eager Howard at Cowpens medal, Betts 595, again the original dies; and the reverse of the Libertas Americana medal, Betts-615. A number of these Comitia Americana electrotypes are highly desirable and extremely collectible as they represent what may well be the only way a particular die, or die state, can be obtained. Careful consideration of these pieces is recommended as they are destined to draw considerable attention.

Other American or American-related pieces in this collection are an obverse of the first George Washington Manly medal, Musante GW-10; the Hero's of Liberty Medal featuring Washington, Kosciusko and Lafayette, GW-149; and a Lafayette medal, Fuld LA.1824.3, Olivier-34.

There are also (3) foreign pieces: the reverse of the Edward I Memorial medal from Dassier's series of English Kings and Queens, Eimer-10; the obverse of a French Death of Napoleon medal, Bramsen-1896; and the obverse of a Vatican Pope Pius IX Year II (1848) medal.

All the electrotypes are in Extremely Fine or better condition and all have the fine bronzing suggestive of the Franklin Peale electrotypes of the 1840s. The nail applied to the reverse is missing from the Libertas Americana electrotype. The frame appears to be a drawer from a 19th century coin cabinet, and measures 8 1/2 inches x 13 1/2 inches with a drawer pull on one of the longer sides. There is a deep blue cloth affixed to the interior of the case, and on casual inspection it becomes clear by the nail holes and faded circles in the cloth that at one time it held 21 items, not just the 16 that are enumerated here. One can only wonder which medals the missing pieces were!

Wow - that a beautiful collection. From the Stack's Bowers June 2020 Auction Internet Only sale. -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:
Framed Collection of (16) Uniface Electrotype Cliches of 18th and Early 19th Century Medals. (

Higley Copper Electrotype

Higley copper electrotype obverse Higley copper electrotype reverse

Here's another decent electrotype of a rare piece - this one sold on eBay. -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:
Rare 1737 Higley Copper Connecticut Three Pence Very Nice Electrotype (

Lesher Dollar

Lesher Dollar Zerbe type obverse Lesher Dollar Zerbe type reverse

#43 *** Rare Zerbe type is pop 2 in 61 with three in 62. Has attractive silvery gray patina. Very cool! One of a kind design. 19000 (TV) ***

From the stock of Harry Laibstain Rare Coins -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:
1900 LESHER ZERBE TYPE 1 #43 *** PCGS MS61 (

Apollo 11 Project Medal

Apollo 11 Project Medal obverse Apollo 11 Project Medal reverse

Apollo II Medal Project Apollo

That could be a Roman numeral two after the word "Apollo", but this piece is about Apollo 11 (eleven), the mission that first landed men on the moon in 1969. Look close and the date of the landing is there. I'd never seen this medal before, but there are untold numbers of different pieces. Is anyone familiar with this one? It has the look of an official NASA medal, but looks can be deceiving. Has anyone attempted to catalog these? -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:
12 Apollo II Medal Project Apollo (

William Penn Medal

William Penn Medal obverse William Penn Medal reverse

Presented to Edward Hopkinson Jr. (1885 - 1966) by The Pennsylvania Society "for distinguished achievement" on December 12th, 1964. This event is detailed by the ephemera and letters included in lot 62 of this sale, weight of medal 108.24 dwt From the Francis Hopkinson Family Archives

A great medal - I hadn't seen this one before. With the monogram of sculptor John Flanagan on the obverse. See Dick Johnson's great reference Monograms of American Coin and Medal Artists, 2007. -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:
14K YG William Penn Medal, Medallic Art Co NY, 108.24 (

Goodyear Medallic Art Plaque
Goodyear medallic Art plaque Early cast iron Good Year 10 year dealership advertising award plaque by Medallic Art Co. of NY, circa 1930's, portrays everything transportational: automotive, aviation and railroad, measures 1 foot wide by 17 inches high, extremely rare est. value $1500.00-$2000.00

That's a big plaque! I wonder who the artist was. -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:


IN GOD WE TRUST: William Bierly's outstanding in-depth exploration shows how the Civil War changed not just the face of American coins and paper money, but the very foundations of modern banking and finance. Get your copy of In God We Trust: The American Civil War, Money, Banking, and Religion (352 pages, hardcover) for $29.95 at , or call 1-800-546-2995.


Arthur Shippee and Jerry Norton passed along this nicely done Smithsonian Magazine piece on the Bar Kokhba coins found in Jerusalem's Old City. Thanks! -Editor

Bar Kokhba revolt coin

Archaeologists conducting excavations in Jerusalem's Old City have unearthed a nearly 2,000-year-old bronze coin minted during the Bar Kokhba revolt, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced in a statement earlier this month.

An unsuccessful uprising that lasted from 132 to 136 A.D., Bar Kokhba found the Jewish people rebelling against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire. During the revolt, Jews began minting coins by pressing their own insignia on top of already circulating currency, including Roman denarii. Many such tokens have been discovered outside of Jerusalem, but out of the more than 22,000 coins discovered in the Old City, just four date to the time of the uprising—and only this newly discovered specimen features the word "Jerusalem," the statement notes.

Researchers found the coin—which displays a cluster of grapes alongside the inscription "Year Two of the Freedom of Israel" on one side and a palm tree with the inscription "Jerusalem" on its reverse—in the William Davidson Archaeological Park. Other coins minted during the Jewish rebellion feature a temple facade, trumpets and a lyre, among other motifs, as well as slogans including "Redemption of Israel" and "Freedom of Israel."

"The operating principle on all Jewish coins is they have no pagan images; and they don't have human figures," Donald Tzvi Ariel, head of the IAA's coin department, tells Ruth Schuster of Haaretz. "Jewish coinage has cornucopias, pomegranates, a star, diadems, flowers, palm branches and so on."

Though some interpret the Bar Kokhba coins' creation as a decisive refutation of Roman authority, Ariel says the rebels' overstriking of existing coinage was probably driven more by need and the size of available coin dies.

"It was a business decision," he adds.

Bar Kokhba's followers likely minted their coins during this short time of success. But as Ariel points out, the paucity of specimens found within Jerusalem appears to support the idea that the Jews failed to fully reclaim the city during the conflict.

"Jerusalem was the goal and the battle cry of the Bar Kokhba rebels, but they never did conquer the city," the numismatist, or coin expert, tells the Jerusalem Post's Rossella Tercatin. "The small number of coins minted by them found in the city also bear witness to that. This is the first time that one of such coins [was] found in the area in 40 years."

To read the complete article, see:
This 2,000-Year-Old Coin Commemorates a Jewish Rebellion Against Rome (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:


Heritage will be selling an interesting pair of $5 Indian Proofs, offering an opportunity to review two different finishes once produced by the U.S. Mint. Here's the press release. -Editor

1908 $5 PR67 NGC. JD-1, R.4_Heritage_Auctions_1 1908 $5 PR67 NGC. JD-1, R.4_Heritage_Auctions_2

Half Eagle Proofs Prove To Be Desirable Today

Heritage Auctions will be offering a gorgeous pair of $5 Indian Proofs, or special strikes made for collectors, at the US Coins Signature Auction, which has been moved from Long Beach to Heritage Auctions' global headquarters in Dallas, June 4-7, due to the cancellation of the Long Beach Expo. Not only are these coins rare in their own right--a small handful of pieces were produced--but they are also a wonderful opportunity to compare the different proof finishes that the US Mint was testing out during this experimental period in coinage history. Take a look at both sets of images to see the differences between these two pieces.

The 1908 $5 Proof, graded NGC Proof 67, is an example of the sandblast finish that has a somewhat grainy texture and a unique color and "look" that would stand out even to the non-numismatist. The 1909 $5 Proof, graded NGC Proof 66+, has a satin proof finish.

These coins from the first two years of Bela Lyon Pratt's new Indian Head design, which had the unique characteristic of being recessed with sunken relief. These coins are popular with collectors today, but opinions at the time were mixed.

As Heritage Auctions' catalogers explain about the 1908: "Although the sandblast finish is admired today, contemporary collectors were initially turned off by it, having expected the coins to be issued with the usual mirrored fields finish of years prior. A fairly substantial mintage of 167 proof 1908 Indian fives was produced, but the following year production plummeted, reflecting collector sentiment about the sandblast finish. Many of the 1908 proofs were poorly stored by their owners, resulting in a limited supply of high-grade pieces today."

1909 $5 PR66+ NGC. JD-1, High R.4_Heritage_Auctions_1 1909 $5 PR66+ NGC. JD-1, High R.4_Heritage_Auctions_2

About the 1909: "The satin style seen here was used in 1909 and 1910 in an attempt to appease the public, but it proved to be only marginally more appealing. Production dipped from 236 proofs in 1908 to 139 proofs in 1909, of which 78 specimens were sold. The rest were unceremoniously melted. Although these satin proofs are far more popular and widely sought-after today, only 50 to 60 pieces are believed extant."

Fine Art enthusiasts are likely familiar with Bela Lyon Pratt due to his fame as an artist and sculptor before he was ever a coin designer. He was a student of artist William Merritt Chase (whose paintings have sold at Heritage) and the famed Augustus St. Gaudens (who is known for both his fine art and his coin designs). There would be some crossover appeal to the American Art category as well as to Yale alumni. Mr. Pratt attended Yale, as did his father, and today their numismatic museum is named after him: The Bela Lyon Pratt Study Room for Numismatics.

Similar coins to these two examples have sold in the $50,000 to $100,000 range, so these are rare pieces that should bring strong bidding in the June Long Beach sale #1316.

Check them out and compare the two pieces here:

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The Antiques Roadshow recently evaluated an extraordinary group of Olympic medals. -Editor

Swimmer Lucy Morton Olympic Medals

There was one proud granddaughter in a recent episode of the hit BBC One programme who refused to accept what she was being told however, when a collection of Olympic medals she had brought along racked up a staggering price.

The expert on hand for this particular collection was Adam Schoon, who spoke with Julia, the granddaughter of Olympic swimmer, Lucy Morton.

Adam said looking at the collection of medals in front of him and was amazed as he said: "It's covered in gold medals.

"I notice there are a number of medallions which she would have won for, I presume, county races and national races."

Analysing the medals a little closer, the expert added: "She's setting world records. All of these are 15 carat gold.

"But of course, all these smaller medals build up to the [Olympic medal]," he continued as Julia then spoke more about the history of her grandmother's rise to stardom in 1924.

The guest explained: "In 1923, they became very interested in her and they asked her to start swimming in preparation for the 1924 Paris Olympics.

"She wasn't expected to win or anything," she added, as another country was expected to take gold, but Julia continued: "Unfortunately, some of the Americans had got some sort of bug, from what I heard.

"She made the final race in breaststroke 200 metres and everyone was apparently cheering to the end and she had a chaperone and the chaperone said, 'You've won.'

"They pulled her out the pool, put her bathrobe on and she was actually the first female swimmer to win a gold medal in swimming for Great Britain."

Adam agreed the guest should feel proud as he branded Olympic swimmer Lucy as an "incredible woman".

Turning his attention back to the medal collection, the expert explained: "It is gold but it's made of silver - it's a silver guild. But it was designed in Paris and it was made at the Paris mint and there were only 304 made."

Adam agreed the guest should feel proud as he branded Olympic swimmer Lucy as an "incredible woman".

Turning his attention back to the medal collection, the expert explained: "It is gold but it's made of silver - it's a silver guild. But it was designed in Paris and it was made at the Paris mint and there were only 304 made."

To read the complete article, see:
Antiques Roadshow guest refuses to accept staggering valuation of 1924 Olympic medal (


Meanwhile, NGC has certified the first Olympic gold medal for basketball, awarded by none other than basketball's inventor James Naismith. Here's the press release. Amazing piece. -Editor

1936_OlympicGoldMedalBasketball_Berlin_FirstGoldMedalAwarded_5861400-001 (1)20200512123918879 1936_OlympicGoldMedalBasketball_Berlin_FirstGoldMedalAwarded_5861400-001_Rev_v2 (1)20200512124125522

NGC Certifies First Olympic Gold Medal for Basketball Ever Awarded

Numismatic Guaranty Corporation® (NGC®) has certified the first Olympic gold medal for basketball ever awarded. This ultimate symbol of the sport's rise to a global phenomenon was presented to US team captain William "Bill" Wheatley by James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, during the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.

With Germany as the host country and the world on the eve of war, tensions were high during the 1936 Summer Olympic Games. The event — one of great importance to the history of sports and the world in general — would be the last Olympics held for 12 years. 

Basketball, which had been invented by Naismith in 1891, made its Olympic debut at the 1936 Games. The championship pitted the US against Canada and was played on an outdoor dirt court during a rainstorm. On account of the playing conditions, the final score was only 19-8. The US team was helped by its height advantage that allowed it to pass the ball a little more efficiently, thus avoiding the soggy ground and puddles.

Naismith crossed the Atlantic to serve as the honorary chairman of the Olympic tournament and to award the medals at its conclusion. As team captain, Wheatley went up to the podium before his teammates, thus establishing his medal as the very first Olympic gold medal for basketball ever awarded.

This extraordinary representative of one the greatest achievements in sports features allegorical figures of victory on the obverse and reverse, the former bearing raised text that reads "XI OLYMPIADE BERLIN 1936." The medal measures 55 millimeters in diameter and weighs 72 grams, which is accommodated by the NGC Oversize Holder. The NGC certification label prominently displays the medal's impressive pedigree.

At the time he made the Olympic team, Wheatley, a native of Gypsum Kansas, was playing Amateur Athletic Association (AAU) basketball for his company team while working for Globe Oil & Refining Co. After the Berlin Games, he played AAU ball for several more years, and then coached for a while before going into carpentry in the late 1940s.

In the early 1970s, Wheatley's house was burglarized, and several silver coins were stolen, but amazingly the gold medal in the same drawer was left behind. Wheatley was then persuaded to send the medal and other memorabilia to the Basketball Hall of Fame. The medal remained at the Basketball Hall of Fame until Wheatley's death in 1992, when it was returned to his family.

Now securely encapsulated in the NGC Oversize Holder with its pedigree clearly identified on the label, this incredible piece of history is protected for posterity.

"To hold the first Olympic gold medal for basketball, presented by James Naismith during the consequential 1936 Berlin Olympics — it really gives you goosebumps," said Mark Salzberg, NGC Chairman and Grading Finalizer. "I am honored that its owner selected NGC to certify this important part of basketball history."

To read the complete article, see:
NGC Certifies First Olympic Gold Medal for Basketball Ever Awarded (

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Pablo Hoffman of New York City passed along this great video on the production of Euro banknotes. -Editor

I found this mesmerizing 19:25 must-see video on YouTube with astounding detailed step-by-step production of modern paper money.

The video begins with the manufacture of the banknote paper and continues through to final security banding of pallets of boxes worth millions of Euros of finished notes, packed for shipment. We see security features imbedded into the paper, inking the presses, multi-stage inspection both automated and human, numbering, counting, cutting, banding, bundling, and other procedures.

The notes seen in most of the video are 2017 and 2018 Euro emissions of 50, 100, and 200 Euro notes from the Banca d'Italia. At 8:45 a sequence is spliced in showing production of the US hundred dollar bill at the BEP; at 12:35, it cuts back to operations at the Banca d'Italia.

The Euro notes are known as the "Europa Series," with the head of Europa appearing as a watermark in each note. They bear the signature of Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank (2011 -2019.)

Europa watermark on 20 Euro note
Europa watermark on 20 Euro note
Mario Draghi signature on Euro note
Mario Draghi signature on Euro note

(As of November, 2019, all Euro notes show the signature of the new President of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde.)

Recent live market exchange rates for the Euro have been approximately $1.09 US.

Here are some screenshots, but check out the video - industrial-scale banknote making is an amazing process to watch. -Editor

BAnknote making 01
Banknote making 03
Banknote making 05

To watch the complete video, see:
Latest Money Printing Technology - Fastest Modern Money Printing Factory - How Money Is Made (


This well-illustrated article highlights the new Museum of Indian Paper Money in Bengaluru. -Editor

Museum of Indian Paper Money

Many people collect stamps and coins as a hobby, but Rezwan Razack loved collecting Indian paper money. His collection over five decades now has a permanent home in Bengaluru, with the launch of the Museum of Indian Paper Money.

Rezwan Razack is Co-Founder and Joint MD of the Prestige Group, and the museum is housed in Prestige Falcon Towers on Brunton Road. The terrace of the building offers stunning views of Bengaluru, but the real cultural treasure is on the third floor where the museum is located.

A tour of the museum is like a tour through India's colonial and post-independence history, with a collection of impressive depth and diversity. Some of the banknotes date back to the early 1800s; some notes are even uniface or one-sided.

The collection has notes representing British India, French India, Portuguese India, the Princely States of Hyderabad, Jammu and Kashmir, and Saurashtra. There are even Prisoners of War Coupons to Indian notes issued in the 19th century, as well as particularly rare notes that were printed in India but also used in Burma and Pakistan during the early turbulent years of independence.

Reserve Bank of India Ten Rupees

The inauguration featured a panel discussion by Rezwan Razack and Dr C. Rangarajan, former Governor, Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Rezwan is also co-author of The Revised Standard Reference Guide to Indian Paper Money, released in 2012. His second book is titled One Rupee - One Hundred Years (1917-2017). It marked the 100th anniversary of the issue of the one-rupee note in India.

Once the museum is opened again after the coronavirus lockdown and with public safety measures in place, it will be sure to attract audiences of all ages and professions. Those eager to glimpse our history through something as powerful and insightful as the currency note will surely be rewarded with this visual and panoramic treat.

To read the complete article, see:
How a hobby for collecting historic currency notes led to creation of the Museum of Indian Paper Money (


The Banknote News web site reported on a new banknote planned by Argentina, but the design has drawn criticism. -Editor

Argentina_BCRA_5000_pesos front
Argentina_BCRA_5000_pesos back

According to an article in La Nation dated 16 May 2020, Casa de Moneda, the printing facility of the Banco Central de la República Argentina, has begun production of new 5,000-peso banknotes pursuant to resolution 158 of 16 April 2020, with 20 million notes scheduled for delivery in June, followed by 60 million notes in each of the next three months. The front reportedly features portraits of Ramón Carrillo, the Prime Minister of Health of Juan Perón, accompanied by Cecilia Grierson, the first Argentine doctor. The back depicts the Malbrán Institute.

To read the complete article, see:
Argentina new 5,000-peso note reported for introduction in 2020 (

However, there has been heavy backlash against the planned note. -Editor

Argentina's Jewish community was shocked to find that the country decided to print a new banknote with face of a doctor who expressed support for Nazi ideology and supported Josef Mengele's cruel experiments on Jews at Auschwitz.

One of the new notes is a 5,000 peso bill (around $73.5) and has the face of Dr. Ramon Carrillo, a doctor of sanitation known for his support of the Nazis, according to a Ynet report on Wednesday.

Israel's ambassador to Argentina tweeted on Monday: "When we say ‘never again,' in reference to the Holocaust, there is no point in commemorating someone that, at least sympathizes with this ideology."

British Ambassador to Argentina Mark Kent also expressed disapproval of the decision to put Carrillo on the banknote and tweeted on Monday: "Nazism was the greatest evil of the 20th century, It led to the Holocaust. The death of millions of innocents. We should not commemorate anyone who participated in this terrible episode."

However, Carrillo's grandson, Ramon Carrillo, has been pushing back on Twitter, sharing a picture of a gift given to his grandfather in 1954, when he served as health minister at the time, by Israel's then-health minister Yosef Serlin.

To read the complete article, see:
Jewish community, foreign officials reject image of Nazi supporter on new banknote (


While we don't delve much into topics of pricing and grading, we do discuss them in terms of hobby history. While looking for other things this week I came across this great article by Tom DeLorey on the history of numerical coin grading on CoinWeek. See the complete article online. -Editor

Early Days of Numerical Coin Grading

I discovered that we needed more than three levels of Mint State grades, especially since the upper level of "70" was by definition "perfect" and virtually non-existent (nobody foresaw at the time that millions of modern-issue Proof and Uncirculated coins would someday be submitted by telemarketers and insecure collectors). That left me only two Mint State grades to work with, and I could see that we needed more.

I decided to add one grade between 60 and 65 and another grade between 65 and 70. For the first one, I chose 63, because I wanted a number that would be closer to 65 than 60, thereby implying a coin that was significantly better than 60 without being good enough for a 65 grade. For the upper number, my choices were 67 or 68, and I chose 67 partly because I thought it had a chance of occasionally being reached (remember, we were not anticipating grading any common modern coins at the time), and partly because 63 and 67 were symmetrical around the highly desired MS-65.

We opened for business on March 1, 1979, using Sheldon's numbers plus AU-58, which I created for those "un-circulated coins with rub" that I refused to call Mint State, plus MS-63 and MS-67. We also adopted the practice of grading each side separately, so that a Morgan dollar with a few too many bag marks on the cheek but a nice reverse might get an MS-63/65. I guess we were trying to throw a small bone to the people whose coins did not make a full MS-65 by saying "well, half of your coin made it!"

ANACS grading was a smash success, and when the Board of Governors finally noticed that we were using grades not in the book about a year later, I was in a strong enough position to be able to tell John J. Pittman, who screamed at me that we could not use grades that the Board had not authorized, "Well, John, you had better authorize them, because we are using them!"

To read the complete article, see:
The Early Days of Numerical Coin Grading (

A related article by Charles Morgan discusses coins graded Mint State 70. -Editor

Slabbed MS70 silver eagle For most of numismatic history, the highest possible grade on the familiar 1-to-70 coin grading scale was an ideal to be considered rather than a realistic grade to be attained. It was a number conceived in a period where most collectors were consumed with a desire to collect what we today call "classic coins".

NGC and PCGS, the top grading services, have never given a classic coin a 70 score, although, amazingly, a small number of coins, including a few Saint-Gaudens double eagles and Morgan dollars, have come close, grading Mint State-69.

As minting technology improved, however, "perfect" coins became possible.

PCGS gave its first MS-70 grade in 1988 to a 1987-W Constitution $5 gold commemorative,. It was a turning point for the hobby and marked a the beginning of a grand phase of development for the coin industry. Since that point, the proportion of modern coins earning 70s has increased at a staggering rate.

To read the complete article, see:
A Perfect Score – Coins Graded Mint State-70 (


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

Medallic Artist and Sculptor Chiara Principe

Lou Golino published a nice article and interview on CoinWeek about Italian medallic artist and sculptor Chiara Principe. Here's an excerpt - see the complete article online. -Editor

coin designer Chiara Principe Italian artist Chiara Principe has been designing and sculpting coins and medals for over a decade and has extensive training as an artist and sculptor using traditional and modern methods. Best known for her work on Vatican commemorative coins, she has received international recognition for her many accomplishments.

In November 2019, she was one of a select group of coin designers invited to address the first annual Shanghai Coin Design Forum organized by the Chinese Mint. During that gathering, she spoke about the large challenge coin designers face in choosing just the right motifs to express their ideas and values on a very small space.

After graduating from an art-focused high school in Rome, she studied at the renowned School of the Art of Medal Making, which is located within the Italian Mint in the eternal city of Rome. This specialized postgraduate school was founded in 1907 to train artists in all the artistic and technological aspects related to designing and sculpting numismatic works and is the only such facility in the world. Many famous Italian artists have taught at the school.

While studying there from 2006 to 2009, Chiara took courses in everything from art history to numismatic technology, drawing, three-dimensional design, computer-assisted modeling, bas relief modeling, high relief, and three-dimensional casting and molding and others.

To read the complete article, see:
The Coin Analyst Talks to Chiara Principe, Italian Medallic Artist and Sculptor (

Boys Find Grandmother's Gold Bars

In the all-I-ever-find-are-dust-bunnies department, two boys in France made a great accidental discovery. Thanks to Dick Hanscom for passing this along. -Editor

The boys, both aged about 10, asked to build a makeshift hut in the garden using branches, leaves and sheets.

Their father, a businessman in his 60s, told them that they could use their late grandmother's sheets, which were in a spare room.

When they went to collect them "two fairly heavy objects" fell out, Philippe Rouillac, a local auctioneer, told BFMTV. "They didn't pay attention to them and put them back."

But the boys soon told their father about the discovery.

The objects were ... two gold bars weighing 1kg (2.2lb) each.

Both bars are now listed on the auctioneer's website with an estimated value of 40,000 euros (£35,800; $43,800) apiece.

It turned out that the bars were purchased by the grandmother in 1967 and even come with a proof of purchase.

To read the complete article, see:
Coronavirus: French brothers strike gold under lockdown (

Collector Discovers Comitia Americana Medals

Over on the Coin Talk site a collector started a thread on the Comitia Americana series. Someone had already beaten me to mention the Comitia Americana and Related Medal book by John Adams and Anne Bentley. -Editor

Daniel Morgan Comitia Americana medal obverse Daniel Morgan Comitia Americana medal reverse
The Daniel Morgan medal

During the Covid 19 quarantine I was looking around for something new to research, study, and collect. For some reason I hit on the Comitia Americana series, and in particular the Washington Before Boston Medal and the Diplomatic Medal. I made one acquisition of a PCGS medal and have a number of others in at PCGS for grading.

To read the complete discussion, see:

National Health Service Coin Popular
National Health Service 50p coin reverse Popularity has soared for the 'N' 10p piece, one of 26 special coins first issued in 2018 to celebrate aspects of British life, as the Coronavirus pandemic has put the national health service under the spotlight.

According to the latest Scarcity Index, issued by ChangeChecker, the 'N' 10p has knocked the 'B' for James Bond off the top spot.

Examples of the NHS 10p are selling for around £4 on eBay, forty times the face value of the coin, whilst the NHS 50p issued by The Royal Mint in 1998 to mark the organisation's fiftieth anniversary is also proving popular.

To read the complete article, see:
Demand increases for 'N for NHS' 10p (

Zimbabwe Rolls Out Larger Banknote Denominations

Zimbabwe 2020 $20 note front

In the here-we-go-again department is this story that Zimbabwe is introducing larger denomination banknotes. I'd seen this a week or two ago but hadn't had found time to put it in. It's a tiresome topic, but one that drives new banknote issues. It was worth waiting for this nice summary by Michael Alexander of Coin Update. See the complete article online. -Editor

The new $10 and $20 denominations will circulate alongside smaller value notes of $2 and $5, which were introduced late last year and replaced so-called "bond notes" of the same design and face value at an equal exchange rate.

After one of the world's highest levels of inflation ever recorded, the country finally abandoned its national currency. A year later, they introduced a structure of payments based on a basket of foreign currencies but predominantly based on the U.S. dollar. To alleviate the chronic shortage of currency in circulation and to prop up a fragile economy, a system of bond notes and coins were gradually introduced. In February 2019, and with immediate effect, the Reserve Bank declared that bond notes and all electronic payments would be merged into a new currency which they referred to as the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) dollar.

However, with the introduction of this "standalone" currency in November, high levels of inflation have been experienced in the country once again. Year on year, levels of price increases are now at 676%. At the current RBZ exchange rate of 25 new Zimbabwean dollars (ZML) to the U.S. dollar, the new $10 notes have a value of U.S. $0.40.

To read the complete article, see:
Zimbabwe: Reserve Bank announces introduction of larger denomination dollar banknotes into circulation (


At the end of March we put out a call to augment Roger Burdette's team of volunteers transcribing National Archives documents related to numismatics, and several readers quickly responded. Thank you! -Editor

Roger writes:

Franklin Peale letter to Levi Woodbury pattern billion and 2-cent_Page_1 "The transcription volunteers have completed more than 150 documents. These include short letters and telegrams, and reports of 10 or 20 pages. One recent transcription of an 1817 letter explains how the US could attract foreign gold by raising the domestic price; it also notes that exports of US gold coins are trivial."

Roger has all the transcription help he needs at the moment, but there are plenty of interesting opportunities to hone your skills outside of numismatics. This Washington Post article describes how transcription is a booming volunteer activity these days. -Editor

In April, as the novelty of lockdown Netflix binges began wearing off around the world, Meghana Venkataswamy came across a blog post that piqued her curiosity.

The Smithsonian Institution, which increasingly relies on the general public to transcribe historical documents, was looking for volunteers to work on astronaut Sally Ride's papers.

Venkataswamy, a 28-year-old data engineer in Vancouver, signed up and quickly got sucked down the rabbit hole of history. Channeling her "inner Sherlock Holmes," as she put it, Venkataswamy cruised through Ride's letters, then moved on to World War II diaries, the field notes of biologists on remote expeditions, and 19th-century Japanese and Indian stereographs.

"There is a strange meditative aspect to it," Venkataswamy said. "It's enough to take one's mind off of whatever else is happening in their lives" — including a pandemic. "A good respite from crazy times."

Worldwide, museums and research libraries are reporting huge spikes of do-it-yourself historians such as Venkataswamy. With so many staples of daily life out of reach, these digital stenographers are reaching into history to put their quarantine time to good use, soothing their psyches in the process.

"I think we all expected there would be an influx with so many people staying at home," said Victoria Van Hyning, who is one of the community managers for the transcription project at the Library of Congress.

But the number of sign-ups has been staggering, officials said, and is growing exponentially. Teachers scrambling for engaging distance learning projects sign up their students, who in addition to learning about cool historical figures have also discovered something called cursive writing.

In Washington, the Library of Congress reports a fivefold jump in new transcriber accounts since mid-March. The Smithsonian has seen new transcribers jump from 100 to 200 per month in pre-pandemic times to more than 5,000 per month now, according to Caitlin Haynes, the project's coordinator. Organizations are scrambling to upload documents to meet the insatiable demand.

To read the complete article, see:
Pandemic escape: Volunteers transcribe Sally Ride's papers, Rosa Parks's recipes, Walt Whitman's poems (

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:


This week's Featured Web Site is the Alan Scott Fisher collection of Hard Times Tokens.

I created this site with several objectives in mind. First, as a showcase for the collection I've spent 23 years building. Second, as a repository for interesting articles and materials about hard times tokens and the hard times era. And third, as a clearinghouse of sorts for other collectors.

My collecting story is fairly typical. After amassing about 90 unique varieties between 1978 and 1981, I consigned them to the Bowers & Ruddy's Springfield sale in September, 1981. That was a big mistake! While Bowers & Ruddy did a great job selling my collection, I had been bitten by the HTT bug and promptly began rebuilding the collection. What you see on this website today is that second collection I've been building for the last 22 years.

Alan Fisher Hard Times Tokens

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