The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 27, Number 3, January 21, 2024, Article 20


A snowstorm arrived in Northern Virginia on Tuesday, January 16, 2024, giving me a snow day off work. But by dinnertime most roads and parking lots were cleared and I headed to Not Your Average Joe's restaurant in Reston for the dinner meeting of my numismatic social group, Nummis Nova. Lorne Lavertu was our host.

Before I could even sit down I was having a great conversation with Jon Radel and Roger Burdette about Roger's current work with handwriting recognition. For years now Roger has been diligently mining U.S. Mint records at the National Archives and digitizing them for the Newman Numismatic Portal. Most of these old record books, documents and correspondence were created before the invention and adoption of the typewriter, and thus are handwritten. While the neat script of trained office clerks is generally human readable, machines can have a tough time making it out. Then there is the scrawl of Mint officials' signatures. But combining newer machine techniques with his years of experience, Roger is making great strides. With accurate machine-generated transcriptions of old handwritten documents, researchers will have a much easier time locating and using records relevant to their work. It's becoming a great time to be a numismatic author and researcher.

Other attendees included Mike Packard, Chris Neuzil, Wayne Herndon, new member Mike Markowitz and my guest Kellen Hoard, back in town for a new semester at George Washington University.

  Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861 4th ed book cover Safeguarding-History_cover_flat

I bought along a couple new books acquired since our last regular meeting in November - the new edition of Doug Winter's Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861 and the new Whitman autobiography by Ken Rendell, Safeguarding History: Trailblazing Adventures Inside the Worlds of Collecting and Forging History.

I wish I could say I had a photo of the group, but I got involved with the conversation and dinner and didn't pull out my phone. I sat next to Mike Markowitz and he showed us the manuscript for an upcoming article for CoinWeek on coins of the Gallic Emperors.

Mike writes:

"For fourteen years during the late third century (260 - 274 CE), the western provinces of the Roman Empire maintained a separate state independent of Rome. Rulers of this so-called Gallic Empire issued coinage that was often of better metal and workmanship than Rome was producing."

Mike was also awaiting a new acquisition which hadn't arrived in time for our meeting.

A Rare Ancient Denomination
Mike Markowitz writes:

"Here is the coin I got in the Triton XXVII sale, which arrived on Thursday. This denomination, which only lasted about 70 years, is so obscure that many collectors have never heard of it."

  Constans Nine Siliquae

Lot 914. Constans. AD 337-350. AV Nine Siliquae – 1 1/2 Scripulum (15mm, 1.68 g, 12h). Aquileia mint. Struck AD 340-350. CONSTANS AVGVSTVS, laurel-and-rosette diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right / FELICI TA S PERPETVA, Victory advancing left, holding wreath in right hand and palm frond in left; SMAQ. RIC VIII –; Depeyrot –; Biaggi –; Triton XXV, lot 1006 (same rev. die). Toned, minor scratches and marks, light deposits. Near EF. Extremely rare. The second known.

Mike adds:

"The gold 1 1/2 Scripulum - 9 Siliquae denomination was introduced by Constantine I circa AD 310, and tariffed at the inconvenient ratio of three-eighths of a gold solidus. It was later replaced by the more convenient gold tremissis under Theodosius I circa AD 383. The denomination is particularly rare as an issue of Constans.

"Surviving sources, possibly influenced by the propaganda of Magnentius's faction, accuse Constans of misrule and of homosexuality. The Roman historian Eutropius says Constans "indulged in great vices," in reference to his homosexuality, and Aurelius Victor stated that Constans had a reputation for scandalous behaviour with "handsome barbarian hostages." Nevertheless, Constans did sponsor a decree alongside Constantius II that ruled that "unnatural" sex should be punished meticulously. However, according to John Boswell, it was likely that Constans promulgated the legislation under pressure from Christian leaders, in an attempt to placate public outrage at his own perceived indecencies."

Et tu Brute?
Chris Neuzil reminded me that Mike Markowitz brought coins of each of the "12 Caesars" which started a discussion about which 12 they were, because there were actually more than 12 - also a discussion of Caesar assassins.

Disouted Eid Mar Gold coin In a post-meeting follow-up, Roger wrote:

"For those anxiously awaiting resolution to the "2 Caesar assassins named Brutus" question, here's my reply:

"Marcus Junius Brutus (the famous one and issuer of EID MAR coins)

"Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus (General, friend, and consistent supporter of Iulius Caesar until the dictatorship. This is the Brutus to whom Caesar directed his supposed dying remark Et tu.)"

One conversation topic at my end of the table was found money - people reported discovering everything from single dollar bills on the ground to envelopes with cash. My biggest haul over the years was about $27 in assorted bills. Chris Neuzil won bragging rights for his find of three hundred-dollar bills at one spot.

The food and drink were good and the restaurant was surprisingly busy for a cold and snowy Tuesday night. On my way home I dropped Kellen off at the nearby Reston Metro station. It was a night with a smaller than usual crowd, but enjoyable nonetheless. Here's hoping for better weather in February.

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:

DWN E-Sylum ad07 Dahlonega book

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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