The E-Sylum v5#49, December 8, 2002

whomren at whomren at
Sun Dec 8 19:34:16 PST 2002

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 5, Number 49, December 8, 2002:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2002, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


   Among recent new subscribers is Sig. Franco Rapposelli,
   sponsored by Jose-Luis Rubio.   Welcome aboard!  One
   person dropped out.  We now have 508 subscribers.


   The November/December issue of Bowers & Merena's
   Rare Coin Review is the 150th number of the publication,
   launched in the late 1960's by Q. David Bowers.
   Congratulations on a fine and continuing run of a great
   publication.  Many interesting and well-researched
   numismatic articles have appeared within its covers over
   the years.

   This issue features Dave's article "Enjoying Numismatic
   Research: My Love Affair with History," which was
   based on his presentation to the Numismatic Bibliomania
   Society at our annual meeting at the Atlanta, GA
   convention of the American Numismatic Association in
   2001.  The article is a transcription of Dave's remarks
   edited by NBS President Pete Smith, with some updates
   by Dave.  Don't miss it!


   Also in the issue is one of those articles I no longer
   feel compelled to write, for someone has beaten me to
   it.  Leonard Augsberger writes about "The 1934 Baltimore
   Gold Hoard."   I have a copy of the May 1935 Perry
   Fuller sale catalog of the hoard discovered by two
   Baltimore teenagers on August 31st, 1934, and always
   wanted to learn more about the incident.  Augsberger
   has done a masterful job, unearthing court documents,
   newspaper articles, Thomas Elder correspondence and
   other sources, then neatly telling the story in nine pages.


   The same issue of Rare Coin Review notes that
   Dave's book, "A California Gold Rush History,"
   printed in an edition of about 5,000 copies earlier
   this year, is nearly sold out.  Only a few hundred
   copies remain.


   Jose-Luis Rubio writes: "I have the pleasure of reporting
   the fine catalogue, titled "IL GETTONE TELEFONICO
   ITALIANO" written by Franco and Vincenzo Rapposelli,
   125 pages plus Index, with excellent photography and line
   drawings. Edited by : Centro Programmazione Editoriale,
   Via Canaletto, 20/abcd 41030 San Prospero, MODENA
   ITALIA. FAX : 059 90 630 29

   This book will answer the questions about the use of the
   Italian Phone Tokens as coins.  I can recommend the book
   to anyone interested in this subject."


   Howard A. Daniel III (Howard at
   writes: "I am looking for the latest edition of the Schon or
   Shoen world coins catalogue with Viet Nam in it and a 20
   Viet gold coin catalogued as A4.  If you know a source of
   this reference, please send it to me their mailing and/or email
   address.  I will be glad to know of an overseas source but
   would prefer one in the U.S.  Thanks in advance for any


   Regarding the existence of the Castenholz coin chart we
   discussed a few issues ago, Alan Meghrig writes: "Somewhere
   I have a few copies rolled up.  It's about 2' x 3'.  I also cut one
   up to fit in a notebook.  It is basically a checklist of the various
   issues... or at least that's what I recall .....last time I saw the
   tube was 22 years ago... when I put it in a safe place."


   The popular press it starting to cover the next next change
   in U.S. paper money.  Jeannine Aversa of the Associated
   Press recently interviewed portrait engraver Thomas

   "Color is coming, and government money makers are hoping
   for a warmer reception for the changes.  The new $20, with
   its public unveiling set for the spring, is supposed to be in
   circulation as early as next fall.

   Jackson is first in line for a makeover. And after the new $20
   makes its debut, the new $50 (Ulysses Grant) and the $100
   Benjamin Franklin) will follow within 18 months."

   "Portrait engraver Thomas Hipschen is working on the current

   He remembers spending countless hours during the last
   makeover meticulously cutting into steel by hand the portraits
   of Jackson, Franklin and Grant for the new bills."

  "You worry about what the press is going to do," he said. "I
   have an old clipping file about all the horrible things they said
   about the portraits that I engraved.  Some fun things, too."

   "With the makeover, color tints will be added in the neutral
   areas of the note...  "

   "Money makers want the new notes to have an American look
   and feel, and not be confused with, for instance, the colorful
   euro, the paper currency of the European Union."


   To follow up on Larry Lee's discussion of the state of the
   Byron Reed collection, Bob Leonard writes: "In response, I
   would only state that a catalog of the pioneer fractional gold
   pieces in the Byron Reed Collection, if it still exists, will not
   be supplied by the Western Heritage Museum to numismatic
   researchers--so the data about them is less than if they had
   been sold at public auction.  Certainly no such catalog was
   ever published anywhere, and cannot be published now.

   Larry Lee advised me when I was frantically searching for
   this information that the Breen-Gillio catalog numbers are not
   noted in the Museum's copy of Breen-Gillio, nor written on
   the coin envelopes, nor anywhere else, apparently.  All that
   remains is a single, incomplete sheet lacking the essential
   Breen-Gillio numbers and corresponding weights.

   Actually I was advised to appeal to the city attorney, not the
   City Council, but any museum that requires an ordinance to
   be passed in order to find out what it has certainly proves
   my point.  As a nonresident of Omaha I did not expect that I
   would receive prompt action."


   David Klinger submitted a lengthy item taken from The Avalon
   Project at the Yale Law School.  It is a copy of a 1588 speech
   titled "A Discourse Upon Coins"  by Bernardo Davanzati,
   translated out of Italian by John Toland of London, and
   printed by J.D. for Awnsham and John Churchil, at the Black
   Swan in Pater-Noster-Row, 1696.

   The full text is on the web at this address:
   Here are some excerpts:

   "The first Money that the Antients wrought was Copper, and
   was by common Consent preferr'd to this high Office. So
   whatever superabounded to any Person, he gave it for as much
   Copper as was compar'd with, or judg'd equal to it; this
   Copper he afterwards gave for other things wanting to him, or
   otherwise he kept it by him in his Coffer, as a Security for the
   Supply of his future Necessities. And this was the Original of
   selling and buying...  Afterwards the greater Excellency of
   Gold and Silver did set them off, and occasion'd them to be
   made Money. They were at the beginning us'd in unwrought
   Pieces as they came to hand; but, as Additions are easily
   mde to Inventions, they were next weigh'd, then stamp'd,
   and so became Money."

   "When, where, and by whom Money was first coin'd is not
   agreed upon by Writers. Herodotus says in Lydia, others
   in Naxos, Strabo in AEgina; some in Lycia by King
   Erichthonius; Lucan says in Thessaly by King Ionus. I
   cannot learn that there was any Money in use before the
   Flood: but the Scriptures speak plainly of it afterwards.
   Abraham purchas'd a Field from Ephron the Hittite for four
   hundred Shekals of Silver, currant Money with the Merchant.
   Joseph was sold by his Brethren for twenty pieces of Silver.
   And Moses laid upon the Israelites by Poll hald a Sheckel,
   that is, four Drachms of Silver. Theseus, who reign'd in
   Attica abou the time of the Judges in Isreal, coin'd Silver-
   Money with the Stamp of an Ox upon it, to invite those to
   manure and till the Ground, who till then liv'd at random in
   the Woods. When Janus King of Latium receiv'd Saturn
   fled by Sea from his Son Jupiter, who drove him from his
   Throne, (that was in the so well govern'd, and so much
   celebrated Golden Age) Janus, I say, did in the Memory
   of this Favour coin Copper Money, which had stamp'd
   upon it the Prow of a Ship.  The first Money among the
   Romans was a piece of Copper, without any coining, or a
   Pound Weight, call'd by them AEs gravis..."


   A new book by Rab Hatfield titled "The Wealth of
   Michelangelo" mentions a hoard of coins owned by the
   legendary artist.  Estelle Shirbon of Reuters interviewed
   Hatfield in a December 3, 2002 article.

   "Michelangelo, who painted the ceiling of the Vatican's
   Sistine Chapel and designed the dome of St Peter's
   Basilica, passed himself off as poor but was actually too
   miserly to show his huge wealth, a U.S. art historian says."

   "He was a funny sort of man, somewhat paranoid and
   somewhat dishonest, who didn't want it to be known he
   was fabulously rich," Rab Hatfield, a professor at the
    Florence branch of Syracuse University, told Reuters

   "Hatfield has unearthed two of Michelangelo's bank
   accounts and numerous deeds of purchase that show the
   prolific painter, sculptor and architect was worth about
   50,000 gold ducats when he died in 1564, more than
   many princes and dukes of his time."

   "It was an enormous, truly enormous amount of money,"
   said Hatfield..."

   "He liked to keep large amounts of money in a wooden box
   by his bed. When he died, 8,400 ducats were found in the
   box," Hatfield said.


   Inspired by my recent mention of Delaware numismatist Jules
   Reiver, Henry Bergos writes: "When he got his men on the bluff
   over Omaha beach a general came and told him to bivouac his
   men on a nearby field.  He thought a moment and told one of his
   officers to use another field.  His men complained about the
   cattle in that field -- and what cattle usually leave as souvenirs.
   He told the men to clean it up and use that field.

   The next day the general returned and blew a gasket. Jules told
   him that the Frenchman who owned the animals was probably
   there when the Germans were and thus knew where the land
   mines were.  As the cattle were important to the farmer he
   wouldn't put his animals where there were mines.

   The general yelled at him, but later sent word down the line to
   always use the fields that the animals were in.

   I have also enjoyed spending time listening to this fantastic


   Dave Bowers and others have warned of the dangers of
   over-reliance on newfangled media as a way to preserve
   information for the future.   An article from the BBC News
   provides a fine example of why we're seeking to create
   a hardcopy version of the electronic E-Sylum.  Here's
   how the December 2, 2002 NewsScan Daily summarized
   the article, along with a link to the full text:

   "The BBC's computer-based, multimedia version of the
   famed Domesday Book has received a new lease on life,
   thanks to scientists at Leeds University and the University of
   Michigan, who have found a way to access the archive stored
   on 1980s-era interactive video discs. To unlock the
   now-obsolete technology, the Camileon project teams have
   developed software that emulates the Acorn Microcomputer
   system and the video disc player.

   "BBC Domesday has become a classic example of the
   dangers facing our digital heritage," says project manager
   Paul Wheatley. "But it must be remembered that time is of
   the essence. We must invest wisely in developing an
   infrastructure to preserve our digital records before it is too
   late. We must not make the mistake of thinking that recording
   on a long-lived medium gives us meaningful preservation."

   The information on the Domesday discs has been
   inaccessible for 16 years. By contrast, the original
   Domesday Book, an inventory of England compiled in
   1086 by Norman monks, is in fine condition in a London
   Public Record Office."


   Doug Andrews writes: "Last weekend, NBS member
   Paul Petch of Toronto sent me a copy of my article
   "Seven Steps to Protect Your Library Investment" that
   appeared in the fall issue of 'The Asylum.'

   If, by chance, any NBS members wish to contact me on
   this topic, my email address is storms at
   I will be applying for NBS membership in 2003!"


   The November 29, 2002 print edition of the Boston
   Business Journal has an article by by Matt Kelly about
   how the internet has changed the rules of the game for
   dealers in collectibles.

   "Collectors who once spent countless hours tracking down
   rare books and art are finding gems just a mouse click away

   The Internet is a mixed bag for dealers. They do have that
   same new access to a virtually endless supply of buyers and
   sellers across the globe, but because the web has raised a
   generation of well-informed buyers, prices for many items
   have fallen.

   "It has affected us both well and badly," said Forrest Proper,
   co-owner of Joslin Hall Books in Concord, who has about
   2,000 titles in current inventory.

   Proper said he now routinely does business with dealers in
   Europe and Australia, an impossible idea 10 years ago. At
   the same time, he says, has seen profit margins on his
   midrange books - those priced anywhere from $25 to $200
   - fall significantly.

   On the brighter side, Proper now stumbles across gems he
   otherwise might never have found.  He recently acquired a
    200-year-old French book about spontaneous human
   combustion - "there's not a whole lot on that subject," he
   notes - from a dealer in Switzerland. Proper now hopes to
   sell the book for $750. Were it not for the Internet, he never
   would have found the book unless the dealer had listed it in
   a catalog or he had paid a visit to Switzerland.

   [So if you think it's too hard to add numismatic books to
   your library, just be glad you aren't collecting literature on
   spontaneous human combustion. Hmmm, I wonder what
   the insurance premiums are like...  -Editor]


   Asylum Editor Tom Fort found an article on Salon
   about "sticker shock" over new book prices.  I know
   I have to blanche sometimes at the cost of new
   numismatic books these days.  Maybe I'm just getting
   old.  People who used to buy a Coke for a quarter don't
   much feel like paying $1.95 for the same thing today.
   Here are a couple excerpts - follow the link for the
   full article.

   "During his 10 years in the retail book business-- at B.
   Dalton and also at independent stores and selling college
   textbooks -- he's seen the same reaction time and again.
   "No matter what the prices are, they say it's too expensive,"
   he says. "The first thing they ask about is price, and the
   reactions range from a grunt to an outright whine."

   It's unlikely that Ritenbaugh will be hearing happier noises
   anytime soon: Book buyers now must shell out $20, $30
   or even $40 or more for hardcovers that decades ago
   used to cost less than $10. And the sticker shock is
   causing many customers not to buy as many books."

   "Why do books cost so much? Consumers are often
   baffled at the price tag attached to what appears to be little
   more than a mass of paper, cardboard and ink. A whole
   host of factors, including the size of the book, the quality of
   paper, the quantity of books printed, whether it contains
   illustrations, what sort of deal the publisher can make with
   the printer and the cost of warehouse space, all affect the
   production costs of a book.  But, roughly speaking, only
   about 20 percent of a publisher's budget for each book
   pays for paper, printing and binding, the trinity that
   determines the physical cost."


   This week's featured web page is suggested by
   Alan Meghrig.  "About the United States Mint" is on
   the mint's official web site.  On this page are links to
   the mint's annual reports for 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001

   Alan adds: "Does anyone have a 1987 Annual Report... they
   won't mind parting with?"  Alan's address is
   alanmeghrig at

  Wayne Homren
  Numismatic Bibliomania Society

  The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a
  non-profit organization promoting numismatic
  literature.   For more information please see
  our web site at
  There is a membership application available on
  the web site.  To join, print the application and
  return it with your check to the address printed
  on the application.   For those without web access,
  write to David Sklow, NBS Secretary-Treasurer,
  P.O. Box 76192, Ocala, FL  34481.

  For Asylum mailing address changes and other
  membership questions, contact Dave at this email
  address: sdsklow at

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