The E-Sylum v5#41, October 13, 2002
whomren at coinlibrary.com
whomren at coinlibrary.com
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.
NEW MAILING LIST FORMAT
As we approach the 500 subscriber mark, a change is
needed in the way The E-Sylum mailing list is maintained.
Starting with this issue, The E-Sylum will be distributed
via an automated mailing list server.
The E-Sylum will continue to appear in your mailbox
weekly, and to submit items to me for publication, you
only need to hit "reply", the same as always. The only
changes of note are the procedures for subscribing and
unsubscribing to the mailing list.
To be added to the E-Sylum mailing list, new subscribers
send an email message with the word "Subscribe" in the
body of the message to esylum-request at binhost.com.
To unsubscribe, just use the word "Unsubscribe" in your
The "Subscriber Updates" section will still appear, but
not every week.
We've come a long way from our maiden issue on
September 4, 1998, which started with about 40
subscribers. We've grown mostly by word of mouth
since then. As always, please help us promote NBS
and The E-Sylum -- encourage your numismatic friends
to join us if they have an interest in numismatic literature
or research. It's like a weekly cocktail party for
numismatic "infomaniacs", only without the hangover.
NUMISMATIC RESEARCH IN HISTORICAL NEWSPAPERS
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
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."
LIBRARY DETECTIVE WORK: PANAMA CURRENCY
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
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)."
WATSON U.S. MINT HISTORY BOOK
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
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.
OTHER INTERESTING FINDS
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.
LISOT COIN VIDEOS AVAILABLE ON THE WEB
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: http://www.cointelevision.com/
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
PARIS MINT MARKS
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 http://www.exonumia.com/art/art_04.htm
TELEPHONE TOKEN HISTORY
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
"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."
MOROCCAN COIN DESIGN QUESTION
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]
TRY THREE DOLLAR BILLS NEXT TIME
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
"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]
FEATURED WEB SITE
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.
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a
non-profit organization promoting numismatic
literature. For more information please see
our web site at http://www.coinbooks.org/
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 aol.com
(To be removed from the E-Sylum mailing list
send an email message with the word "Unsubscribe"
in the body of the message to:
esylum-request at binhost.com)
More information about the Esylum