The E-Sylum v5#41, October 13, 2002

whomren at whomren at
Sun Oct 13 18:53:45 PDT 2002

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 5, Number 41, October 13, 2002:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2002, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


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   Dick Johnson writes: "One of my proudest possessions is a
   scrapbook of newspaper clippings.  It was compiled by John
   McAllister, Jr. of Philadelphia and it covered the period 1831
   to 1857. He hand inscribed a title on the cover: "Coinage /
   Mint Reports / &c."

   Inside are loose newspaper clippings in envelopes by year.
   The envelopes are so fat they have burst the spine of a book,
   whose contents are long since lost or discarded but whose
   covers were pressed into service to corral the envelopes.

   The clippings are just as bright today as in the mid 19th
   century (thank you, rag paper, but for some strange reason
   they don't photocopy well -- the white paper emerges gray on
   such copies).  Most of the articles are mundane --  exchange
   rates, mining production, shipment of ore to the mint, public
   comments on coins. Mostly economic, little numismatic.

   But among the chaff is a real gem!:  a three-part series of
   articles which ran in the weekly "Philadelphia Dispatch"
   January 23 and 30, 1853 and February 6, 1853, headlined
   "The Way Coins Are Made, A Rare Visit to The United
   States Mint."  It is outstanding for reporting the technology
   in use by the Mint at that time! (It predates and far surpasses
   Waldo Abbott's series in Harper's Weekly eight years later,

   I have transcribed all the text of this 3-part series. My
   computer tells me there are 12,426 words, 344 paragraphs
   and 480 sentences. The series is unsigned, and I have been
   to the National Archives in Philadelphia twice searching U.S.
   Mint visitor rosters and correspondence of the period for the
   possible identify of the unknown author. He may have been
   British, or trained in England.  Seven words are the British
   spellings, yet "color" is spelled without the "u" as in England.

   The author's scenario goes through the Mint a department
   at a time -- he calls these rooms -- and describes the
   technology in 14 such rooms.  As a mint technology historian
   I find this fascinating.  It relates data for the most part not
   reported anywhere else. I have affixed 76 notes to the author's
   comments adding data that I could from a perspective 149
   years later.

   I relate this as an example of the absolutely fantastic
   information that can be gleaned from local newspapers. My
   tip for the week is Do Not Overlook Scrapbooks.  (In fact,
   I will buy any scrapbook on the U.S. Mint or American
   medals of any period.)

   Next week: How to do newspaper research and some
   very useful tips and comments on numismatic research in
   newspapers from Dave Bowers."


   Last week's item about researching Panamanian currency
   inspired Jess Gaylor to do some digging in his own library.  He
   writes: "I own a signed copy of the reference book, "Coins and
   Currency of Panama" by Capt. Julius Grigore Jr. USNR. There
   I found the following information:

   Denomination   Number Printed
         1                 720,000
         5                 100,000
        10                100,000
        20                  25,000

   These were printed after the enactment of Article 156 under
   Presidente Arnulfo Arias.  The first issuance of the Arias
   Notes as they became known was made on Oct. 2, 1941.
   These were engraved and printed by the Hamilton Note
   Company of New York City.  Each bill is exactly the same
   size as US Paper Currency.  The reason these became
   known as the seven day notes was that President Aria was
   deposed after seven days in office.  Of the 945,000 notes
   issued as of 1959 there were 3,000 balboas total.  Numbers
   of each bill  unknown.  All are listed as extremely rare in the
   Encyclopedia of World Paper Money.  (All credit goes to
   Capt. Grigore as the author, I just read and rewrote)."


   Is anyone familiar with the 1926 book by Jesse P. Watson
   titled "The Bureau of the Mint: Its History, Activities and
   Organization" (The Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore, MD)?

   It's a recent acquisition for my library, and I'm curious as
   to why I haven't come across a copy until recently.  The
   book isn't listed in Charles Davis' "American Numismatic
   Literature".   The book is part of a series of "Service
   Monographs of the United States Government"  published
   by an organization called The Institute for Government
   Research (Washington, D.C.).  The Mint book is No. 37
   in the series, covering branches from The Geological Survey
   to the Tariff Commission, Patent Service, and the Bureau
   of Lighthouses.

   Since the book was written and published outside of
   numismatic circles, perhaps it's not unusual that it doesn't
   appear in any of the usual places.  I actually have two
   copies now, and both are library discards.  Was the
   book ever actively marketed to the general public, or did
   it go straight to libraries and government offices?

   The History section is brief, but to me the more interesting
   sections are on the Activities and Organization of the mint
   in the 1920's.  The Outline of Organization chapter lists
   every single position at the mint as of July 1, 1925, along
   with the salary rate for the position.  The Director was
   paid $5,600 annually;  a Machinist made $6.96 per diem;
   Foreman of Coin Counters, $6.56 per diem;  there were
   eight "Sewing Women" who earned $4.40 per diem.  At
   the San Francisco mint, the "Foreman, Whitening Room"
   made $6.77 per diem.


   As long as I'm clearing off my desk, I'll mention some
   other interesting finds.   A month or so ago I had taken
   a box of low value duplicates to a local club meeting as
   giveaways.  When the feeding frenzy was over only a
   few lonely items remained.  I couldn't bear to throw
   them out, so I took a second look.  One was a Federal
   Coin Exchange catalog for the North East Ohio Coin
   Club convention in Cleveland, OH in July, 1961.  Lot
   1321 was "a complete collection of World War II forms,
   ration books, application forms, decals, deposit certificates,
   tokens, etc.  All forms that were ever issued over a period
   of approximately five years."  The one and a half page
   description outlines a museum-quality collection including
   a number of items printed by the government but never
   released to the public.   I wonder who the buyer was,
   and where this collection is today.

   Another item is the Federal Brand Eagle, a fixed price
   list published by Federal Brand Enterprises of Cleveland.
   (Vol 2. No 1, January 1965).  It includes a nice little article
   by Robert Obojski, PhD titled "The Story of Encased Postage
   Stamps and Their Use as Money"   The pricelist offered a
   rare one cent Dougan the Hatter for $600, along with several
   of the more common encased stamps.


   ANA's videographer David Lisot provides free streaming
   videos and information about numismatics on his new web
   site. Videos of ANA's Numismatic Theatre presentations
   from recent conventions are featured as well as live news
   broadcasts and archived film clips of interviews with hobby
   luminaries.  Using a high-speed broadband internet
   connection is advisable - a dialup connection would be too
   slow.  The address is:

   The program schedule includes:
   "Good as Gold" by David Sundman
   "Rare US Half" by  David W. Lange
   "English Hammered Coins" by Arthur M. Fitts
   "Ed Trompeter Collection" by David Lisot
   "PNG Living History"  David Lisot and Ed Rochette
   "Abner Kreisberg" interview
   "Jerry Cohen" interview
   "William Steinberg" interview

   For full descriptions, see


   Rich Hartzog notes that an earlier E-Sylum discussion on
   the Director and Engraver Edge Marks of the Paris Mint
   led him to update his web site with a page of information
   on the topic.   See


   To sum up what is known about the Italian Telephone tokens
   we've been discussing, Marco Fiumani writes: "The first official
   Italian telephone tokens appeared on the first half of the 20th
   century and in Italy the STIPEL (Società Telefonica Interregionale
   Piemontese e Lombarda) introduced the first telephone tokens
   to the Fair of Milan in 1927.  The experimentation with little
   public phones for city telephone calls that worked with tokens
   with three grooves, of the cost of 60 cts of lira.  The success of
   the experiment meant that the public phones multiplied and in
   the succeeding year also the TIMO (Società Telefoni Medio
   Orientale) and the TELVE (Società Telefonica delle Venezie)
   imitated the STIPEL.

   The TETI (Telefonica Tirrena) instead began from 1930 to
   introduce public phones working with coins of 50 cts.  In 1935
   also the TETI pass to coin tokens made of aluminum and
   subsequently of zinc of the dimensions of the currency coins
   and without grooves; only during the 1945 the TETI unified
   with the other societies with a token with three grooves.

   The fifth company that coined telephone tokens in Italy was
   the SET (Società Esercizi Telefonici) in the south of Italy.
   The token issued in this period belong to the “first period”
   of Italian telephone tokens.  After a telephonic reform, when
   the monopoly incumbent SIP joined all the previous telephone
   companies, the public phone were standardized and the ESM
   company (Emilio Senesi Medaglie, Milan), began to coin
   regular telephone tokens for all of Italy.

   In August of 1959 the ESM began dating the tokens by
   year and month.  Four figures indicate the year and the month
   of coinage. As an example 5909 indicates that the token it was
   coined in September 1959. This kind of token was coined till
   March 1972 with 122 different dates.  Those token belong to
   the “second period”.

   Subsequently, increasing the number of the public phones, also
   the IPM (Industria Politecnica Meridionale in Arzano, Naples),
   CMM (Costruzioni Minuterie Metalliche, Santagata Catania)
   and the UT (Urmet Costruzioni Elettrotelefoniche Turin) began
   to coin the tokens until November 1980, last one coin known
   (IPM 8011). They coined the tokens with the manufacturers'
   logo in addition to the year/month group.

   In the 1970s telephone tokens ended up substituting for
   standard coins of the same 200 lire denomination. In 1972
   one token was manufactured for each Italian; by 1978 there
   were seven tokens produced per head of population.
   Between 1927 and 1980, the year when tokens ceased to
   be manufactured and the first dual-function phonecard/token
   telephones were introduced, a total of around 600 million
   tokens were issued in Italy.  On 31 December 2001 the
   telephone token was finally, definitively taken out of circulation.
   It remains a collector's-item for coin collectors and enthusiasts


   Granvyl G. Hulse, Jr. writes:   "The Numismatics International
   Library received the following query.  Can any of the E-Sylum
   readers help?

   "I'm writing an article on the Hotel Dieu in Beaune, France.
   The hospital was endowed with an annuity of 1,000 Touraine
   Pounds in 1453.  I'm trying to find out how much that would
   be in today's funds and don't know where to research.  Any
   help would be appreciated."


   Granvyl also received this query, and perhaps someone can
   help here, too.  Your editor is certainly stumped.

   "I am writing from Indian Prairie Public Library in Darien,
   IL (near Chicago). We have a patron who is interested in
   an explanation of the symbolism on a 200 Franc coin from
   Morocco.  It is entry Y#53 on page 1541 of the "2003
   Standard Catalog of World Coins."  The coin has a five
   pointed star within a six pointed star.  We have identified
   from an article at
   that the six pointed star, according to some Moroccans
   "indicates the past role of Jewish metal workers as
   concessionaries of the royal mint."  From "Flags of the World"
   we have identified that the five pointed star is on the Moroccan
   flag and represents the Seal of Solomon, an ancient symbol of
   life and good health.

   We have relayed the above information to the patron, but he
   wants to know if there is any way to tell the meaning of "both
   stars together."  I am not sure how to proceed, short of
   contacting the Treasury Department of Morocco or asking
   the designer of the coin himself.  Do you know of any experts,
   reference sources, contacts that could help us with this


   Joe Wolfe writes: "I am searching for the names of books or
   journal articles on what numismatists are concerned with when
   a cache of coins is found. Is there some sort of science for
   analysis of caches and what is it's name?  I am close to the
   Library of Congress and can slip down there easily for a
   day's research and reading. I can search, read, and eventually
   find the best resources but it is so much easier just to ask the
   experts. My reason for reading up on this topic is I want to
   do the right thing by numismatics and also archeologists when
   I find a cache of coins.

   From the treasure hunter's point of view I suspect an intact
   cache would be worth more to many potential buyers since
   he or she could do the analysis, publish material on what
   was found, and perhaps even name the find."

   [In numismatics the term "coin hoard" seems to be most
   often used.  There is quite a body of work on coin hoards
   of the ancient world, but far less has been written on hoards
   found in the United States.  Dave Bowers' book, "American
   Coin Treasures and Hoards" is the best single source of
   information on known hoards.  But none of the books I've
   seen discussed hoards from the archeological view. -Editor]


   A promotional cash giveaway went awry last Saturday in
   Sharon, Pennsylvania, a small town short drive from
   Pittsburgh.   As reported in the October 8th issue of
   the Pittsburgh, Post-Gazette, Sharon businessman James
   Winner's stunt idea wasn't so hot.

   "Winner, a savvy businessman and marketer known best
   for his automobile anti-theft device "The Club," hit upon a
   plan: Every Saturday in October, an air cannon perched atop
   The Winner, his four-story women's apparel store, would fire
   into the air $1,000 in cash -- 500 $2 bills -- and 2,000
   coupons worth up to $2 off at any of the myriad Winner

   Surely, he thought, that would create some excitement.
   Did it ever."

   "...  as soon as the air cannon became visible on top of the
   building and fired its first blast, the tone immediately changed.
   The cannon fired in one direction and the crowd surged that
   way. And then it pointed in a different direction and the crowd
   changed directions. Over and over again it fired throughout the
   20-minute promotion."

   "A crowd estimated at upwards of 2,000 -- some who began
   congregating as early as 5:30 a.m. Saturday for the 10 a.m.
   event -- jammed blocked-off West State Street and pushed
   and shoved and even knocked down children and the elderly
   in a mad, greedy scramble for the wind-blown loot.

   At least three people were injured, most seriously a 16-year-old
   girl who broke her foot when she fell while trying to get onto
   the roof of a diner where some money had landed.  A
   73-year-old woman who recently had hip surgery was knocked
   to the ground and treated at a hospital. A newspaper reporter
   was treated after she was hit in the back of the head.

   Disdaining civility or safety, people jumped and shoved and
   grabbed for the cash. The crowd shook the awnings of The
   Winner, a dozen or more people climbed onto the adjacent
   roof of Donna's Diner -- another Winner property, named for
   his wife -- and others dove into the nearby, chilly Shenango
   River, all in their quest for $2 bills."

   "I wish none of it had happened. I wish it would have been
   perfectly quiet. But when you try to do something exciting,
   sometimes it comes with collateral damage."

   "Winner said he'll continue his month-long Saturday
   promotions but from now on will hand out envelopes to
   people wearing red, white and blue or carrying an American
   flag.  The envelopes will contain money -- $1,500 this week
   in denominations ranging as high as $100 -- as well as gift
   certificates and money-off coupons for his businesses."

   [I am not making this up - here's a link to the original story:

   Other reports noted that some in the crowd were carrying
   fishing nets, which could have done double duty if the
   carrier ended up in the river...

   The incident brings to mind the classic episode of the TV
   sitcom "WKRP in Cincinnati," which featured clueless
   anchorman Les Nessman (tagline: "If It Happens in Cincinnati,
   It's News To Les!").   In the episode, the station manager had
   arranged a promotion for a local grocery store that featured
   turkeys dropped from a helicopter.  Nessman described the
   event live as the turkeys plummeted toward the hapless
   crowd.  "The turkeys are hitting the ground like sacks of wet
   cement!"   "Oh, the humanity!"

   The last line of the show?  Station manager:  "God as my
   witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

   A web search turned up a claim that the incident was based
   on an actual event over I-81 near Atlanta, GA.  -Editor]


   This week's featured web site is the British Conder Token
   Collector's Club, which has some nice images and online
   exhibits of 18th century British tradesmen's tokens.

  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
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  write to David Sklow, NBS Secretary-Treasurer,
  P.O. Box 76192, Ocala, FL  34481.

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