The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 23, Number 16, April 19, 2020, Article 36


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

The Scrip Notes of Greenfield Mills, MD

John Sandrock's web site, The Currency Collector, was a Featured Web Site in The E-Sylum in 2016. I rediscovered it this week thanks to a mention in the April 14, 2020 (Volume V, Number 43) of the News & Notes email newsletter from the Society of Paper Money Collectors. The site's topics include Chinese coins and banknotes, siege notes, emergency money and more. For U.S. collectors, here's a well-researched article on the early scrip notes of Greenfield Mills, near Frederick, MD. -Editor

Frederick-Town 25 cents scrip note

In the 1830s Greenfield Mills was a thriving farm community, replete with its own bank which issued scrip notes for the use of its citizens. Little evidence of Greenfield Mills past exists today, except for the bank notes themselves. When I started my search no one I questioned had ever heard of the place, nor could anyone tell me where it had once been located. A little detective work would ultimately enable the author to determine the answer to this mystery and to learn how the bank failed and why.

To read the complete article, see:

Summary: Emperor Norton Treasure Hunt Material

John Lumea of the Emperor Norton Trust published an article that pulls together and amplifies on the San Francisco Chronicle Emperor Norton Treasure Hunt material discussed earlier. -Editor

Emperor_Norton_Treasure_Hunt clue To read the complete article, see:
Of Medals and Medallions: Four Artifacts of Mid-20th-Century "Norton Culture" (

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: APRIL 12, 2020 : Grand Order of the West Knight Companion Medal (

A Civil War Love Story

Just for fun here's a completely non-numismatic story from that will interest history buffs and romantics alike. But is it true, or fake news? -Editor

Truth Stranger Than Fiction headline Occasionally we come across an old newspaper story that is so amazing, we can't help but wonder if it's really true. This story about Civil War soldier Otis H. Burton seems to fall into that category. After a little fact-checking, however, all available records seem to support this sweet love story. With all the heavy news lately, sit back and enjoy this 19th-century tale with miraculous twists and a happy ending!

To read the complete article, see:
Reunited Against All Odds: A Civil War Love Story (

Shakespearean Insults

Fiction is often more interesting anyway. And for those who prefer history of an earlier time and place, you may enjoy this compendium of Shakespearean Insults. Add a few to your bag of tricks - and don't forget to try the Build Your Own Shakespearean Insult generator, you spongy rump-fed varlets! -Editor

Thou Art a Boil

In addition to appreciating his literary contributions, Shakespeare enthusiasts understand and enjoy the snarky humor that is embedded in his work. His writing shows the power of language for its ability to make a statement and pack a punch. To celebrate Shakespeare's 454th birthday, we've compiled the best insults from some of his most famous works into a Shakespearean insult generator.

To read the complete article, see:
Shakespearean Insults for Every Situation (

The Toilet-Paper Shortage of 1973

This isn't the first toilet paper panic. Back in the days of the energy shortage an offhand joke kicked off a nationwide toilet-paper buying spree. Check out the video. -Editor

Toilet paper shortage article It started with an unsubstantiated rumor. "You can laugh now," Johnny Carson said on The Tonight Show on December 19, 1973, "but there is an acute shortage of toilet paper." There wasn't—but it didn't matter. The broadcast sent America into a mass panic. Millions of shoppers swarmed into grocery stores and began hoarding toilet paper. Ex nihilo, a shortage was born. The Scott Paper Company urged people to stop panic-buying the product. Nevertheless, for four months, toilet paper—absent from shelves—was bartered for, traded, and even sold on the black market.

"I was completely blown away by the whole tale," the filmmaker Brian Gersten told me. His short documentary The Great Toilet Paper Scare, premiering on The Atlantic today, details the frenzy that ensued following Carson's remarks. "I found newspaper reports from every corner of the U.S. that had firsthand accounts of the chaos," Gersten said. He excerpted interviews and re-created them with absurdist animation for the film. "These scenes might seem a little hyperbolic," Gersten said, "but all of this stuff did actually happen, and people actually said those things."

To read the complete article, see:
What Misinformation Has to Do With Toilet Paper (

Collecting Russian Znachki

In the other-things-people-collect department is this Atlas Obscura article about Russian znachki (lapel pins). -Editor

Yuri Gagarin pin IN 1981, ROBERT MOELLER TRAVELED to Moscow to visit his wife, a graduate student who was doing research there, and she handed him some Soviet rubles. Maybe he could pick up a warm fur hat, she said, or perhaps some of the "silly Soviet pins" for sale all over town. Called znachki in Russian, these tiny works of art honored all kinds of subjects, from Soviet cities and Communist Party anniversaries to the space dog Laika and the latest Lada sedan.

Moeller, now a retired professor of European history, watched with fascination as pin collectors, mostly middle-aged men, approached the huge displays of znachki at the GUM department store by Red Square. "Each pin had a discrete number; they'd go in with the ones they were missing and make their orders from there," he says. Soon he, too, was hooked: "Here was a piece of history that you could pin to your lapel, material culture that embodied the past and celebrated the present."

To read the complete article, see:
The U.S.S.R.'s Hottest Collectibles Are All Over eBay and Instagram (

To read earlier E-Sylum articles, see:

Most Valuable Artwork Lost on the Titanic

Not numismatic, but of interest to the collector in all of us: this article discusses a valuable painting and other collectible rarities lost with the Titanic. -Editor

La Circassienes au Bain by John Parker Over 100 years since the sinking, the story of the Titanic continues to captivate the masses with its ambitious beginnings and tragic demise. When the ocean liner departed for its maiden voyage in 1912, it was the largest ship to ever take to the seas. Of the 1,300 passengers, about 319 passengers boarded in first class, a rolodex of European aristocracy and American millionaires, and with them came a host of treasures, from artwork to motorcars. But the most expensive carry-on item was brought abroad by the 29-year-old Swedish scion of a wood pulp fortune, Mauritz Håkan Björnström-Steffansson. In his possession was the oil masterpiece La Circassienne au Bain by the French Neoclassical master Merry-Joseph Blondel.

On the Titanic, Björnström-Steffansson befriended Hugh Woolner and the two were in the first class smoking lounge when the ship hit the fated iceberg. The two assisted others into lifeboats and just as the ship was about to completely submerge, they jumped into one of the last lifeboats, Lifeboat D, before they were rescued by RMS Carpathia, which brought the saved passengers to New York.

Survivors heaped claims upon the White Star Line for loss of life and possessions. Björnström-Steffansson filed for $100,000 (over $2.5 million today) for the lost painting, the single largest claim in the $6 million worth of claims (about $150 million today). However, White Star Line settled for just $664,000 (about $17 million today) so it is unlikely Björnström-Steffansson received the full amount.

Although the Blondel painting was considered the most valuable masterpiece aboard, other noteworthy works perished in the disaster, including a signed portrait of Italian nationalist Giuseppe Garibaldi and a bejeweled edition of the Rubaiyat, a Persian book of poetry dating to the 11th century.

To read the complete article, see:
The Most Valuable Artwork Lost on the Titanic (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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