The Numismatic Bibliomania Society


The E-Sylum: Volume 25, Number 41, October 9, 2022, Article 15


On Photoshop As an Analytical Tool
Bill Eckberg writes:

"I found Bob Van Arsdell's piece on the breakage of a die very interesting and clearly described. I wonder, however, why he refers to his coin as the penultimate coin struck, as it shows the second die break, and so probably no further coins were struck from that die. That would make it the ultimate coin of the variety. I guess I'm just not clear on that point.

pennywise2017april_0006 "I would add that Photoshop editing has been a useful tool for numismatic research for several years. Back in 2017, I used Photoshop overlays to demonstrate that the 1792 disme and 1793 half cent dies were produced from the same obverse head punch (or hub, if you prefer). That article was published in The Numismatist, June, 2017, pp. 52-54. I have since used the method to analyze how many of the early US Mint dies were made, including demonstrating that the Wreath cent obverses were ALSO produced from a hub.

"This last is an important finding; we've all been taught that the Wreath cent came about because of popular hostility to the Chain cent design, but that was not the case. The design change actually came about because of a new method of die manufacture that was introduced. All Chain dies had been individually engraved, and it took longer to engrave an obverse than the die would last in coinage. Thus, if a reasonable number of coins were ever going to be produced, obverses had to be hubbed."

"Penultimate" means the next-to-last in a series. I reached out to Bob Van Arsdell for comment. -Editor

Bob writes:

"Yes, my coin is the ultimate coin. The penultimate coin is the Photoshop simulation. The penultimate coin no longer exists."

To read Bill's April 2017 Penny-Wise article on the topic, see:
Hubbed 1793 Obverse Dies (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: OCTOBER 2, 2022 : Witness Marks and the Death of a Die (

Cast Coinage Errors

Ted Puls submitted these notes and images about cast coinage errors. Thanks! -Editor

  cast coinage error 1 cast coinage error 2

"I thought I might add to the piece about forgotten ancient errors. A doubly forgotten error area is cast coinage errors. Attached are some quick photos of a few. Hou Quan ca.14-23 A.D. I think this explains why the early"money spring" coinage rapidly shrank from 30 grams to two grams due to the casting material being unable to handle the molten metal mass.

The second is an example of an extremely rare Hou Quan that was made with a core of iron which shows that this minting idea interfered with the metal flow. Another idea was quickly abandoned.

  cast coinage error 3 cast coinage error 4

The third is a common Wu Zhu of the Western Han era ca. 118-0 B.C. The vertical style of the mold rather than the usual bar-like mold leaked between stacked layers causing this error.

Finally, a Dong Zhou Wu Zhu ca 198 A.D. shows a bit of retained metal in the coins minute millimeter sprue. This indicates that even 0.4 grams of metal when poor workmanship is used, can still lead to error. Other types of error exist but not these are not for today."

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

Coins Picturing the Silphion Plant
UK reader Glen Wilson writes:

"I thought our readers might find this article interesting.

coins picturing the silphion plant "A silver tetradrachm and gold drachm minted in the 4th century B.C. in Cyrene (modern Libya) feature the image of the silphion plant. Cyrene was famed as the source of ancient silphion, and coins bearing its image, like these now in the American Numismatic Society collections in New York City, have been found across the ancient Mediterranean world and Asia."

I have read about this "extinct" plant, Silphion, used by the Romans & others a few times over the last few years but it now looks like they may have found some living examples in Turkey.

It has been partly identified by the images on these coins and the speed of growth as well as by cooking know recipes and comparing it with the less good replacements, sounds fairly convincing."

  Silphion Plant

Thank you. I was unaware of the plant or coins. Interesting. -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
This miracle plant was eaten into extinction 2,000 years ago—or was it? (

Bidding in the Peter Tillou Sale
Hedley Betts writes:

"In the latest E-Sylum, you mentioned the Peter Tillou sale and asked if anyone bid in it. I did. I bid on all the lots of numismatic books. I won one lot, a group of world numismatic books, which included Van Meiris three volume work on Dutch medals. I believe I was the underbidder on the others. The sale also included several lots of medals, which sold for significantly more than their estimates. I bid on most them, but only won one lot."

  Lot 297 World numismatic books
Lot 297 World numismatic books

Congratulations on your purchase! -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

State of California $20 Pattern

  State of California pattern $20 obverse State of California pattern $20 reverse
Robert Cassling writes:

State of California $20 Pattern slab "I am trying to research the history of a very specific 1851 State of California $20 Gilt without much luck and am wondering if your readers might be able to help me out.

"This particular 1851 State of California K-4 is apparently unique in Gilt.

"It has appeared in two recent Heritage auctions, in 2018 and 2020 but I can find no information on it prior to 2018. I have contacted NGC and the NGC forums without any luck and am not sure on how to proceed from here.

"I am wondering if any of your readers might recognize this unique coin and help to shed some light on its history.

"I would also like to get an opinion on the age of the gilting as well."

Interesting piece - can anyone help? -Editor

To read the complete Heritage lot descriptions, see:
1851 P$20 San Francisco State of California 20 Dollars Pattern, MS62 Gilt NGC. K-4, Low R.7.... (
1851 P$20 San Francisco State of California 20 Dollars Pattern, MS62 Gilt NGC. K-4, Low R.7.... (

More on A.I. in Coin Designs
Edwin Johnston writes:

"Interesting to see your piece on artificial intelligence-generated coin subjects. My use of A.I. in coin designs has been referred to here previously, and I keep up with the technology so here are some recent entries from the DALL-E website for your edification."

  Edwin Johnston DALL-E coin designs

Thanks. Check out Edwin's earlier designs in the previous article, linked below. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:


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Wayne Homren, Editor

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