The E-Sylum v5#51, December 22, 2002

whomren at whomren at
Sun Dec 22 20:27:07 PST 2002

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 5, Number 51, December 22, 2002:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2002, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


   Among recent new subscribers is Randy Partin, courtesy
   of Mark Lighterman.  Welcome aboard!  We now have
   509 subscribers.


   Dick Johnson writes: "Sorry, Alan Meghrig, a "buckled die"
   and "die break" are not equivalent terms (re last week's
   E-Sylum). Old-timers used the term buckled die, in modern
   times we use the more correct term "sunken die," even
   though "buckled" is a very apt description of the struck piece.

   It is a situation where the die has deteriorated and this is
   particularly evident in restrikes at a later time. The steel in
   the center (usually in the center, but it can be in any part of
   the striking surface) has receded due to sinking or
   compacting.  This is caused by any of three reasons:
   (1) use of poor quality tool steel when the die was first made.
   (2) improper heat treating, or
   (3) overlong use in striking.

   It is never known in advance when a die will sink, if it will
   sink, or how severe the sinking will be. We do know it is
   accelerated by intermittent periods of use over a long time.
   The very best examples of sunken dies are in the medals in
   the Papal Series. Some of these dies have been retained
   and struck intermittently over hundreds of years.  They
   frequently exhibit the domed effect of sinking on pieces
   struck years later.

   We are indebted to Benjamin Huntsman (1704-1776) for
   developing die steel and reducing the problem of sinking
   dies. This English inventor and steel manufacturer invented
   a method of making crucible steel (1756) for Matthew
   Boulton to use for making dies for coins and medals.
   Huntsman's firm supplied specialized steel for dies to mints
   around the world for nearly 200 years (until 1950).

   Early American medalmakers who did not import Huntsman's
   die steel had to make their own. They did this by forging and
   tempering (like tempering steel for swords).  Companies like
   Scovill in Waterbury, who used a lot of die steel, purchased
   this from men who did this specialized forging, mostly in
   Boston and the Connecticut valley.

   Scovill required these men -- called DIE FORGERS -- to
   sign their diestock so they could identify whose stock was
   good and whose went bad (that is, sunk).  I have observed
   hundreds of Scovill dies; G. Grayson of Providence, and O.J.
   Brown, were among the dozen or so die forgers who
   supplied Scovill's die stock.  These signatures appeared on
   the sides of dies, of course, not in the image area (so they are
   not obvious on struck pieces).

   Most of these old 19th century dies, however, exhibit some
   evidence of sinking (albeit small). The concept of sunken die,
   of buckled die, is entirely separate from the concept of


   Hadrien Rambach writes: "I  bought an interesting item, one
   week ago : [Louis JOBERT (1637-1719)], La Science des
   médailles. Nouvelle édition avec des remarques historiques
   & critiques [par Joseph BIMARD DE LA BASTIE (1703-
   1742)], Paris (de Bure l'aïné) 1739, 2 volumes in-12.   It is
   the very best edition of this manual, the interesting book of
   Jobert (1692) being completed by the numerous comments
   of Bimard de la Bastie.

   The copy I just found is bound in full contemporary calf, used
   but sound and decorative. It has a manuscript ex-libris of L. H.
   Bussenius (dated 1758), but I do know know who he is. But it
   has also the printed 18th century ex-libris, on both volumes, of
   Johann Christoph RASCHE (1733-1805).  This numismatist is
   well known for his Lexicon universae rei nummariae veterum et
   praecipue Graecorum ac Romanorum (Leipzig, by Gleditsch,
   1785-1805, 10 volumes). He also wrote Rarissima romanorum
   a Iulio Caesare ad Heraclium Usque numismata quae ex omni
   genere Metallorum (Nürnberg, by Hauff, in 1777, octavo),
   Lexicon abruptionum quae in numismatibus romanorum
   occurrunt  (Nürnberg, by Hauff, in 1777, octavo), and Roms
   vormalige Verfassung zu deutlicher Aufklärung alter Schrifsteller,
   antiker Münzen, Gemmen, Inschriften und anderen römischer
   Denkmale (Nürnberg, by Gabriel Nicolaus Raspe, in 1778, 2
   volumes octavo). This important writer also published in 1778-
   1779 his Kenntnis antiker Münzen nach den Grundsätzen des
   Père L. Jobert und des Herrn de La Bastie (Nürnberg, by
   George Peter Monath), a German adaptation of the book I
   just bought!

   It is widely annotated, without many interesting remarks, I fear.
   But I had not still the time to look at it very seriously … I only
   wonder if other interesting copies of the Jobert do survive (it
   has been translated in many other languages). Should one of
   you, readers, know that, please email me!
   hadrien2000 at"


   Howard A. Daniel III writes: "I am searching for references
   and/or articles about any pre-Spanish "money" or barter pieces.
   The only major reference in my library is the one written by
   Dr. Angelita LeGarda.  Please email me if you know of other
   references and/or articles.  I would also like to know if Dr.
   LeGarda is still living in the U.S. or if she has returned to the
   Philippines.  My email address is Howard at


   Granvyl Hulse, Numismatics International Librarian,
   writes: "Frankly, it is the difference between fiction and
   non-fiction. The former relies almost solely on your ability
   to do creative writing (my only attempt earned me a pink
   slip), and the latter on your determination to undertake
   detailed research.   This is where we will always lose out.
   I can recall, when working on my booklet on the modern
   coins of Ethiopia, receiving a bill of $125.00 for some print
   ready photographs from the Austrian mint.  That was not
   my only cost, and if I recall correctly I have made the grand
   sum of $2.50 by selling one of the booklets myself.

   The only time I have ever made a profit were from the
   short "Numystery" articles I sold for $10.00 each to the
   old "Whitman Numismatic Journal." For the rest of my works
   it has been a lost cause.  The costs of photographs alone are
   staggering.  I have just finished a book on the inns, hotels and
   restaurants from 1800 that existed in the village I am living in.
   Happily, I have a deal with the publishers to have them printed
   in lots of 20, but ninety-eight cents profit on each sale will in
   no way reimburse me for even the cost of the photographs.
   Anyone writing non-fiction has to be completely dedicated to
   his or her subject, independently well off, and a trifle mad."

   [Well, I guess that's why we'll the BiblioMANIA Society.
   We're all a bit off-kilter.   Sometimes I figure that if I worked
   the late shift at McDonald's instead of compiling the E-Sylum
   in my free time, I'd at least have some lunch money for my
   efforts.  But numismatics and fellowship are good for the
   soul, so who needs money? -Editor]

   From Italy, Ferdinando Bassoli adds: "Please remind your
   gentle correspondent and associate Howard A.Daniel III that
   (as the old Horace said) "carmina non dant panem" (poetry
   doesn't bring bread).  I wish only to remember my happy
   experience with my book on European numismatic literature
   which was published in the USA last year by an editor whom
   I don't name simply because he doesn't need my humble praise.
   The book was published in a very elegant and accurate
   translation at the price of about $50, a not indifferent sum.
   I wish the editor a good success, but I had to contribute for
   half of the translation expenses, with the only reward of some
   complimentary copies.  This notwithstanding I am glad to have
   my work distributed and spread, and this is all which I expect
   should I write again a book."


   Regarding Dalton and Hamer, publisher Allan Davisson writes:
   "I sent a note to dealers who handle the book a couple of
   months ago advising them that the end of the stock is in sight
   and that I would honor limited wholesale requests for multiple
   copies at that time and that would be the end. I have kept
   about 20 copies for us to sell ourselves.  In our latest mailing,
   the price is listed at $185. But I will honor the $150 plus $8
   shipping for orders from E-Sylum readers until the end of
   December.   (Stacks' latest book list offers the book at $130
   --a bargain all things considered....)

   Printing the book was a very expensive proposition. I spent
   five weeks in London doing research for the update section
   as well as making some trips and spending substantial time
   in the U.S. (Our business income was significantly reduced
   for the year I worked on the project.)

   When we printed, we used two separate original sets of
   D&H, selecting the cleanest plates for the printer to copy.
   This was still in the days when printers used film. The photos
   were shot and stripped separately from the text to maximize
   quality. (Some of the distinctions require magnification --
   something one can do fairly well with this edition.).     It was
   an expensive process.

   It has taken 12 years to sell just over 1000 copies. Another
   printing is highly unlikely -- I have no plans to do it.
   Presumably the plates are still available but, as Douglas
   Saville at Spink could tell you, old plates are an "iffy"

   A final shameless plug: Dalton and Hamer has always
   seemed to me one of the great books of the 20th century
   in the field of numismatics, even if one is not particularly
   interested in the series--it chronicles both a major social
   transition (the Industrial Revolution) and a major change
   in minting technology."


   There is a new book out about one of my favorite numismatic
   neer-do-wells, Mark Hofmann.  It was brought to my attention
   in an article by Dick Duncan in the December 2002 (Vol 19,
   No 3) issue of The Clarion, the official publication of the
   Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists.  The article, titled
   "A Fantastic Forger" was based on a new book by Simon
   Worrall, "The Poet and the Murderer: A True Story of Literary
   Crime and the Art of Forgery".  It was published in April 2002.

   I am also grateful to Eric P. Newman, whose Numismatic
   Theatre talk at an ANA convention several years ago first
   introduced me to the exploits of Hofmann, who counterfeited
   coins and paper money, in particular Mormon Notes.
   Several items pictured in Alvin Rust's book ("Mormon and
   Utah Coin and Currency", Salt Lake City, 1984) are
   Hofmann forgeries.   Mr. Rust gave a talk at a subsequent
   ANA, describing how he had been taken in by Hofmann's
   masterful work.  He issued an addendum sheet listing the
   known forgeries pictured in his book.

   Coins were just a jumping-off point for Hofmann.  He branched
   out into forging documents of all kinds, and made a specialty
   of "discovering" documents which tweaked officials of the
   Mormon church.  The new book centers around a copy of
   an Emily Dickinson poem forged by Hofmann.

   From the web site:  "Even among master
   forgers, Mark Hofmann possessed an unmatched audacity.
   During his relatively brief career, he fabricated more than
   1,000 historical documents, ranging from manuscript letters
   of Daniel Boone and Mormon founder Joseph Smith to the
   long-vanished 17th-century printed broadside "Oath of a
   Freeman."  He even penned an original poem supposedly by
   Emily Dickinson, although he himself was only a mediocre
   writer. Hypnotized by his own brazenness and by the ease
   of his success, Hofmann created Ponzi schemes for financial

   Finally, caught between anxious creditors and bank deadlines,
   he scrambled for extreme solutions. Finally, he turned to
   murder by means of homemade bombs."


   Boston document dealer Kenneth Rendell is a key figure
   in the Hofmann story.  We haven't had an E-Sylum quiz
   in some time, so here goes:  What is Rendell's connection
   to numismatics?

   Here's his connection to Hofmann:  As a nationally known
   expert in autographs and rare documents, Rendell was one
   of the experts asked to authenticate some documents which
   turned out to be forgeries.  Hoffmann had a number of
   dealings directly with Rendell before the truth of his deception
   was revealed.

   Hoffmann enticed investors with stories of fabulous collections
   he was negotiating to buy. [From Duncan's Article:]
   "One collection Hofman was trying to acquire contained a
   prized "piece of papyrus plucked from the bosom of an
   Egyptian mummy."   He phoned ... Rendell, asking if he had
   any papyrus for sale.  He did, and Rendell sold Hofmann a
   piece measuring 9" by 24".  Hofmann then cut this in two,
   mounting one 4" by 9" piece between two sheets of plexiglass,
   and gave it to Steve Christensen -- who expected to buy the
   collection for the Church of Latter Day Saints for a price of

   Christensen knew nothing of papyrus, so to check if it was
   genuine, he sought the advice of an expert -- who turned out
   to be Kenneth Rendell.

   When Mark Hofmann learned that Rendell was flying from
   Boston to Salt Lake City to meet Christensen, he realized
   there was a very big chance of exposure -- and he saw only
   one way out."

   Hofmann decided to kill Christensen. He built and delivered
   pipe bombs to Christensen and his business partner Gary
   Sheets, in an attempt to make it look like the bombs were
   related to a business transaction, and draw attention away
   from Christensen's church dealings.  The first bomb killed
   Christensen, and the second bomb killed Sheets' wife.  A
   third bomb went off prematurely, severely injuring Hofmann
   before he could deliver it.  His schemes quickly unraveled.
   Hofmann is still in jail, but some of his expert forgeries may
   lie undetected today.

   Another book on Hofman is online, and it has more on
   Rendell and pictures the above-mentioned papyrus


   Andy Lanier writes: "Does anyone know of any publications in
   English that have articles about Chinese Szechuan Province
   Horse and Orchid Tokens issued from 1921 to 1930?   I am
   a collector of coins and currency depicting orchids."


   Granvyl Hulse writes: "Have been asked if I can identify the
   following book.  What what is it about?   I can't help. Can
   anyone on The E-Sylum assist?   It is a loose portfolio, 16"
   high 12" wide.   The text on the cover is:

     Munten en Penningen

     uit het Koninklijk Kabinet van Munten,
     Penningen en Gesneden Steenen
      te 's-Gravenhage

    's-Gravenhage - Martinus Nijhoff - 1910"


   This being Christmas week, it seems like a jolly good time
   to discuss references to obsolete notes featuring St. Nicholas.
   Many thanks to John and Nancy Wilson, and Dave Harper
   of Numismatic News for information about the Wilson's
   article from the December 1997 issue of Bank Note reporter.

   The article references the definitive catalog for the subject:
   Roger Durand's "Interesting Notes About Christmas", 1993.

   "About 21 different banks and eight different sates issued
   Santa Claus notes."

   "Durand's book lists about 62 different Santa Claus notes,
   of which about 28 only differ by way of a red or green
   protector overprinted on them or on tinted paper.  The
   Bank of Milwaukee  has two notes that differ only because
   of a different of capital printed."

   Other references cited by the Wilsons include:

   The 1990 Christie's sale catalog of the American Bank Note
   Company Archives

   "Diverse Numismatic Items Depict Santa" written by Paul
   Gilkes for the Dec. 25, 1991 issue of Coin World

   "Happy Holiday Notes from St. Nick" written by Gene
   Hessler for the Dec. 21 1992 issue of Coin World.

   "Christmas Currency: A Trial List" by Larry L. Ruehlen,

   Several of the vignettes were done by famous book illustrator
   Felix O. C. Darley.  Gene Hessler writes that there is a web
   site devoted to Darley site at

   A web search turned up an article on Santa notes by
   David W. Boitnott on the Raleigh, NC coin club site:
   Here's an excerpt.  See the web page for the full article.

   "But don't fret Virginia, Santa Claus is coming to town and
   he is riding on obsolete banknotes. Yes, there are five known
   vignettes featuring jolly ol’ St. Nick.  The first depicts Santa
   and six of his reindeer departing a rooftop from right to left.
   This vignette can be found on a Pittsfield Bank, Massachusetts
   $20 note; a $2 note from The Central Bank of Brooklyn, N.Y.;
   a $3 note from The Central Bank of Troy, N.Y.; and on a
   Bucksport Bank, Maine $50 note.

   The second vignette again shows Santa and his reindeer
   departing a rooftop; however, this time in the opposite
   direction. This engraving appeared on several banknotes
   including a $2 note from The White Mountain Bank,
   Lancaster, New Hampshire. This particular note was the
   subject of a souvenir card issued for the Memphis
   International Paper Money Show in 1988 making easier
   to locate an example at a reasonable price. Other known
   issuers are The Central Bank of Troy, N.Y. on a $3 note;
   The Saint Nicholas Bank of New York City on $2 and
   $5 notes; The Mechanics and Manufacturers Bank,
   Providence, Rhode Island on a $1 note; and The Waupun
   Bank, Wisconsin on a $2 note."

   The article credits Gene Hessler's 1992 Coin World article
   as a source.


   'Twas two days before Christmas,
   And my gift list complete.
   Save one so important,
   It had to be neat.

   The gift I was missing,
   The one to be handy,
   For the spirit of Christmas,
   So good for the family.

   For the jolly ol' man,
   Who arrives Christmas night.
   Himself good and generous.
   Choose a gift that's just right!

    He travels a great distance,
    To bring everyone good cheer.
   What kind of a present
   Would Santa hold dear?

   No gingerbread houses,
   No frilly white blouses.
   No Hansel, no Gretle.
   Give Santa a medal.

   No toys to construct,
   No parts to assemble.
   No bicycle to peddle.
   Give Santa a medal.

   No milk, and no cookies,
   By the tree and the rest.
   Give Santa a medal,
   He deserves just the best.

   His effort rewarded,
   In a box with red bow.
   Give Santa a medal.
   He's our Christmas He-Ro!

   M  E  R  R  Y    C  H  R  I  S  T  M  A  S!

           -D. Wayne Johnson


   This week's featured web page is rom the Albion, Michigan
   history site.  It's an article by Frank Passic, Albion Historian,
   titled "Trade Currency Circulated Here in 1933"

  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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