Numismatic Bibliomania Society Vice President Len Augsburger passed along this provocative report by a new NBS member, Sam E. Coudin of Montreal.
Numismatics Meets Modern Forensics
One of the most fabled bits of NBS history surrounds the March 1992 offering of a treasure trove of literature presented by the seller Martin Nathaniel Daycius Galleries (aka M. N. Daycius, a malaprop for
mendacious), supposedly of Fort Worth, TX. Ken Lowe reported on the event in the July 1992 edition of Out on a Limb and noted that more than a few NBSers were taken in by the April Fools ruse, a sale said to contain
many old catalogues on beautiful leathers,
lots of old records, and invoices,
large pile of old coin sales, a few going back to the 1820s, and so on. The seller's address was 1204 Magnolia, which, upon further investigation, turned out to be the old B. Max Mehl building.
George Kolbe reported in the Ford library catalog (June 2005, part II, lot 1062) that John J. Ford, Jr. was completely taken in by the scheme and was convinced the sale represented remainders from the Mehl library. Ford contacted Texas dealer John Rowe, along with Coin World editor Beth Deisher, to see what additional facts might be ascertained. Ford eventually spoke with Kolbe, who reported that
it was with more than a little difficulty that Ford was persuaded otherwise. Myron Xenos later reflected on the prank in the Fall 2003 and Spring 2004 issues of Asylum.
The only piece of physical evidence is the sale flyer itself, an 8.5x11 typescript on light blue stock, which was folded in half and stapled before sent to various NBS members. The Ford example bore a March 21st Texas postmark and a 29c stamp. After acquiring another example of this solicitation, my investigation focused on the same 29c stamp and any DNA evidence remaining between the stamp and the flyer. I am thrilled to report that a forensics firm has successfully acquired a DNA profile from this sample. The investigation now becomes a matter of genetic genealogy. The public has become more familiar with this technique in recent years, as old DNA samples can be used to form links to current DNA databases. Once a link is found, family trees are built to identify possible matches (most typically suspects in criminal investigations).
Although the perpetrator of this evil scheme is not necessarily the same person who applied the stamps, it seems logical that whoever prepared the mailing is aware of the identity of the mastermind. At this point, I appeal to the NBS membership to assist with the investigation. First, for funding to defray costs. While DNA testing has become more accessible in recent years, the cost is not insignificant. Second, in order to narrow the scope of the search, I request DNA samples in order to rule out various possibilities. This is as simple as signing and sealing an envelope, from which a genetic profile can be extracted (note, I will verify signatures against original NBS member applications). I may be contacted at
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
SELECTIONS FROM THE SKLOW LITERATURE SALE #21
THE BOOK BAZARRE
OVER 500 NUMISMATIC TITLES
: Wizard Coin Supply has over 500 numismatic titles in stock, competitively discounted, and
available for immediate shipment. See our selection at www.WizardCoinSupply.com
Wayne Homren, Editor
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