The E-Sylum v5#39, September 29, 2002

whomren at whomren at
Sun Sep 29 19:46:46 PDT 2002

[This is a duplicate copy of The E-Sylum sent via the experimental
email server.   The provider hasn't been responding to our
questions this week.  I'm sold on the idea of using such a server,
but if we don't hear soon, we may need to look for another
provider.   Except for this note, your email message should look
the same.   It was mailed AFTER the regular issue, but I suspect
some of you will recieve this FIRST.  Please hit REPLY (not
FORWARD) to send me a copy of this message.
Thanks. -Wayne.]
Sender: esylum-owner at
Precedence: bulk

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 5, Number 39, September 29, 2002:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2002, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


   This week's new subscribers are Robert Christie, Joe Wolfe,
   John Shagren Jr.,  Marco Fiumani of Italy, courtesy of Jose
   Luis Rubio, and Gawain O'Connor, courtesy of Martin Purdy
   Welcome aboard!  This brings our subscriber count to 491.


   In response to Richard Crosby's note entitled "Plain Brown
   Wrappers,"  Greg Heim writes: "I could not agree more.
   When I  moved last year, I was talking to one of the postal
   employees when she started asking me questions about
   those "neat" coin magazines I was getting.

   I got the same response from Coin World as you did, and
   I could not agree with them less.  Just because you have a
   P.O. box does not mean that other people can't see you
   with the magazine in the vestibule.  I would gladly play an
   extra $10.00 a year for the security.  BTW, I believe that
   Numismatic News ships in a plain brown wrapper for their
   first class mail option.


   William T. Gibbs, News Editor of Coin World writes:
   "Regarding the note from Mr. Richard Crosby published
   last week:   It is true that Amos Hobby Publishing, publishers
   of "Coin World," "Linn's Stamp News" and other hobby
   publications, lacks the necessary equipment to place their
   publications into a "plain brown wrapper" of the sort used
   by the publishers of the other magazines mentioned.

   Because we lack the necessary equipment, our circulation
   department cannot provide that service to our subscribers.
   Up to now, the best they could do is suggest subscribers
   have their issues sent to a post office box.   Placing the
   issues in an unprinted wrap of the kind sold several times a
   year by the advertising department would require additional
   postal and paper costs, which would be passed on to
   advertisers and subscribers.  However, an alternative will
   be available soon, when "Coin World" follows in the
   electronic footsteps of "Linn's" and begins offering the
   complete weekly issue in print and online versions (same
   publication, one print and one electronic).  Linn's recently
   began offering each complete weekly issue online (all
   contents, editorial and advertising) as a subscription-based
   publication in addition to the standard print edition.  We'll
   announce details about the online issue of "Coin World"
   as they become available, both at our main Web site and
   in the print edition of "Coin World."

   The subscribers to this e-mail publication generally love
   traditional literature in all of its printed glory even as they
   embrace the immediacy of  "The E-Sylum."  My own
   bookshelves at home (not to mention boxes upon boxes)
   are filled with books on many topics.  Electronic publishing,
   however, is a wave of the future, and "Coin World" is
   poised to take its next step into that future.

   The online edition will offer several advantages: It will get to
   subscribers' homes faster than the USPS can get the print
   edition to them (moving at the speed of light vs. snail mail).
   Subscribers who chose the online-only option will have no
   worries about security.  Most interesting, I think, to the
   subscribers of this journal, we'll gradually build an online,
   searchable archive of every article and every advertisement
   we publish each week."

   [A searchable online archive would be nirvana for researchers.
     Bring it on!  -Editor]


   Robert Christie writes: "In The Money Tree's 23rd sale of
   numismatic literature on June 24th, 1995 I won Del Bland's
   auction room copy of George Kolbe's sale of Selections
   From The John W. Adams library held in June, 1990.  Inside
   the front cover is a list of all the bidders and their bidder
   numbers.    Alongside each lot in the public part of the auction
   is the number of the bidder who won the lot and what they paid.
   Del Bland was bidding on lots for Dennis Mendelson.  I have
   both of their invoices.  I could give Del a hug for keeping such
   meticulous records of a great auction.  The following people
   attended this auction with their bid numbers following.

   R.E. Naftzger Jr. bidding for ANS   15
   Dan Hamelberg   1
   Del Bland   14
   Dennis Mendelson   16
   Alan Meghrig   17
   John Bergman   4
   Armand Champa   7
   Jess Patrick   6
   Dick Punchard   342
   Dr. Phillip W. Ralls   12
   Tom Reynolds   3
   Dan Demeo   19
   Jan Valentine   11
   Chris Victor-McCauley   25
   Ray Bisordi   5
   Jeff Rock   50
   Stuart Levine   23
   Denis W. Loring   281

   I know that several of the above people are no longer with
   us, but I would very much like to hear from the rest and have
   them share their memories of that auction with me.  Del Bland
   made me feel as though I was there.  Maybe George Kolbe
   has some memories of that auction to share.  My address is
   Robert Christie, 233 Fair Street, Carmel, N.Y. 10512
   I look forward to hearing from you."


   Christopher Rivituso's note about phone box tokens in Italy
   elicited a number of new responses:

   Neil Shafer writes: "With reference to Italian telephone
   tokens in circulation, I believe the years they were thus
   used were 1975-78 for sure, possibly also earlier and
   later.  Those were the years of the severe coin shortage
   in Italy that spawned the issuance of a large variety of
   Mini-assegni, small checks from a number of banks that
   circulated in place of the vanished coinage.  Along with
   those mini-checks were some private tokens and these
   telephone tokens.  As I recall, their value was pegged at
   50 lire.  Does anyone have more definitive information on
   this?  My interest was mainly the mini-assegni but I did
   get several examples of the hard money as well."

   Ted Buttrey writes:  "I go back and forth to Italy, and my
   aging brain will not now allow me to give exact dates; but
   you might know of a period some years ago when
   small-change coins of all values were simply unobtainable
   in Italy.  Telephone tokens were at least monetiform, and
   had the fixed value of 200 lire.  Otherwise people were
   using the smallest wrapped piece of candy, at 10 lire --
   I used them at toll stations on the highway -- and many
   banks issued small denomination paper.   When some of
   them got in trouble for printing notelets of 100, 500 or
   1000 lire they retaliated by issuing them in odd
   denominations like 150 lire.

   I can remember being in a shop in Sicily where the customer
   proffered such a small note, and it was refused -- not
   because it was paper, because that stuff circulated
   everywhere, but because the shopkeeper read it first, found
   that it came from a bank in northern Italy, and didn't know
   if he could get rid of it.  None of this stuff was legal tender,
   of course, but without it small transactions would have been
   impossible.  I seem to recall that this situation lasted well
   over a year.   The banks must have made a nice profit from
   the notes that were never redeemed.  Come to think of it, I
   wonder -- though I have no idea -- whether any of the notelets
   were produced purely to profit from collectors, who wouldn't
   ever redeem them, like much of the German Notgeld of the

   [Interesting experience.  You know, E-Sylum readers have
    great vocabularies.  Your editor hasn't seen the word
   "monetiform"  before - can someone provide a definition?]

   Bruce Purdue adds: "In 1973 I was stationed in Istanbul,
   Turkey with the U.S. Air Force and "getton" or "gettone" was
   the word used in Turkey for the phone tokens... perhaps this
   is a European term.   After some thought I realized that in
   Turkey it was a "Jeton", which is the french word for token ...
   older version was "jetton".

   I found the following information using "Google".  This is from

   "Our town recently started a jitney. My friends and I could
   not come to an agreement on the origin of the word.  Is it a
   word for a nickel or some pacific slang for an American jeep?

   Funnily enough, both guesses have an element of truth.  Such
   a vehicle was originally called a jitney bus because when it
   was introduced (around 1900) the standard fare was one
   nickel and the then current slang for a nickel was a jitney.
   But why was a nickel called a jitney?  One theory is that it
   comes from jetton (from the French jeton), "a gambling token",
   but this is not widely accepted.

   The Philippines has a kind of bus called a jeepney.  This is a
   portmanteau word formed from jeep + jitney."

   Kavan Ratnatunga adds that Ceylon has a telephone token
   from WWII.  "It's associated with a change in the 10-cent
   coin    from Silver to copper.   It was need to let the phone
   booths to continue to operate."
   For more information, see his web page:


   In response to the discussion about numismatic research
   in old city directories, George Fitzgerald writes: "I am a
   volunteer at the Allen County Public library in Fort Wayne,
   IN.  I work in the Genealogy section which has most of
   the City Directories in both books and microfilm.  This
   library is in downtown Fort Wayne, it is the second largest
   Genealogy library in the country.  It is open 7 days a week
   from Labor Day to Memorial Day.  It will be closed in Jan
   2003 because it is moving to temporary quarters for 2 years.
   The present library will be doubled in space.  We also have
   all of the U.S. census on microfilm."


   Dick Johnson writes: "For three weeks I have been writing
   about how numismatists can use City Directories in their
   numismatic research.  I received an email from Dave Bowers
   this week that reveals his use of these research tools. Here is
   what he said:

   "About 25 years or so ago a full set of all of the microfiche
   catalogues (directories to 1861) was available, and I bought
   [the set] for $5,000.  This was done, if I recall, by John J.
   Ford, Jr.  He called a number of interested people and
   rounded up five (I think) subscribers -- then simply made a
   deal with the compiler of the microfiches."

   Wow! What a fortunate purchase.  If you recall last week
   I mentioned the current cost of that set of microfiches was
   over $26,000. Five times what Dave and a handful of other
   farsighted researchers paid.  Name a coin that has increased
   five times since 1977!

   Dave went on to suggest a consortium of researchers might
   do the same today.  Frankly, I would rather put that kind of
   money in numismatic book purchases.  The reason?: the ease
   of obtaining these microfiches --  and Dave mentioned this --
   on Inter-Library Loan.

   "One thing," he wrote, "that is essential to anyone is this:
   Nearly  all microfilms can be obtained by inter-library loan,
   obviating the necessity to buy them.  All you have to do is
   establish a rapport with a friendly local public or university
   library and have them order the microfilms on loan.  I have
   done this for many years with hundreds of microfilms, and
   the system is efficient and superb!"

   I would like to add another tip here if you are researching
   people. City Directory microfilms (and a vast library of
   information) can also be obtained at your local Mormon
   Church.  I like researching at these just as much as the
   university libraries Dave mentioned.

   Call your local Mormon Church (Church of Later Day Saints).
   Ask if they have a Family History Center, and learn of the
   hours they are open.  Often these include an evening or two
   and a full day session, sometimes on Saturday.  They welcome
   people of all faiths to search people of the past.  They can
   borrow microfilm from Salt Lake City and you can use it in
   this Church Center. Sometimes it is crowded, but the staff can
   often answer questions that would stump public or university

   Dave's additional comments are pertinent: "Concerning
   available microfilms of later directories, these have been
   compiled on a catch as catch can basis, and for a given city,
   say Cincinnati, it is difficult to get a FULL set of anything.
   Newspapers are even worse, as often a particular "popular"
   newspaper (such as, for San Francisco, the Alta California)
   has been chosen for microfilming, and a dozen or more other
   newspapers have never been filmed (in the meantime, as with
   SF newspapers, existing archives of originals continue to be

   After you have exhausted your City Directory search, then
   what?  The next step is Census Records, or as Dave suggests,
   newspapers.  Next week I'll discuss researching in these
   historical newspapers.  Doesn't all this research talk make you
   want to start digging about some numismatic item of interest
   to you?"


   In with the new, out with the old.  It's a common situation
   when a new coinage system is put into place.  It's happening
   again with the introduction of the Euro. Kavan Ratnatunga
   sends this link to an article from BILBAO, Madrid, Spain:

   "A little bit of Europe's history is disappearing into the
   melting pots of a small firm in the Basque country of
   northern Spain.  The firm, Elmet, in Bilbao's industrial
   suburbs, is making a handsome profit out of melting down
   millions of Irish pennies delivered in denominations of one,
   two, 10 and 20 pence.  So far more than a million coins
   have been shipped here for recycling."


   New subscriber Joe Wolfe writes: "I have a slightly different
   interest than most of your members I am sure.  I have a hobby
   I am very serious about and do research on coin caches.  I am
   what people like to call a treasure hunter. I have a metal
   detector and go out and search for dropped or lost coins
   hoping to find a few valuable ones.

   First I research to find a good location and then go look.  I
   enjoy the research more.  Presently I am researching turnpikes
   here in Loudoun County, Virginia.  They started collecting tolls
   about 1795 and did so up to about 1925.   I hope the tolltakers
   dropped a few coins at the tollgates and that I can find where
   the tollgates sat.   I've searched about 10 sites already and
   found only a few coins:  a 1807 large cent, 1773 reale, and
   another large cent I could not see a date on.

   As it turns out roads were widened drastically from 1800 and
   most tollgate locations were destroyed unless the road was
   moved or a historical building existed at the tollgate and it
   was preserved.  Even with a building, surrounding ground was
   sometimes graded and dirt added to yards to make them

   The research is an education. Some of these tollgates operated
   for 50 years or more.  So there must be dropped coins in large
   numbers. Just to give you an idea,  the Little River Turnpike here
   in Virginia started around 1824 and in their best year collected
   about $20,000.00 at 6 tollgates. A lot of it was in pennies so
   many coins changed hands.  I also noted with enthusiasm that
   the tolls were often collected quarterly by the treasurer. My
   question now is where were the tolls kept until the treasurer
   took charge of them?

   Think of it as Active Numismatic Research - I research and
   then perform actions.    A magazine called Lost Treasure just
   published my first article.   I want to write my next article on
  tollgates. True, the articles are about treasure hunting but the
   research is often about coins and coin caches."

   [Joe may be reached at cachenut at -Editor]


   Gawain O'Connor writes: "In response to Martin Purdy's
   comment about euro allergy hogwash -

   The article about euros in the Sept. 14 issue of "Science
   News" shows a photo comparison to the nickel Swiss
   franc coin.  The pure nickel coin stays intact in their
   solution. So it appears that the bi-metallic aspect is what
   causes the problem, not the amount of nickel.

   The online version can be seen at

   The original article in Nature:

   [The Nature site requires a free registration.  -Editor]

   But it certainly could be that the study was prompted by
   bias against the new euro coins, as Mr. Purdy suggests."


   Chris Hopkins, Morten Eske Mortensen, Granvyl G.
   Hulse, Jr. and Mike Metras all wrote to add to our list of
   bibliography links.   Bruce Perdue offered to add them to
   the internet Open Directory to make them more accessible
   to a wider audience.

   On a related note, Granvyl G. Hulse, Jr. writes: "We have
   talked on and off of a master listing of books and articles on
   coins, etc. If Elvira Clain-Stefanelli's "Numismatic Bibliography"
   could be transferred to disk, it would be a perfect place to
   start from in compiling a master listing of numismatic material.
   Do you have any idea if this has been done?   I went surfing
   some of the listings you gave and it struck me first that if we
   pulled down all of the library indexes, compiled them into
   one master index we would have an excellent reference.
   Then I thought of Elivra's book and realized that if it was
   placed on a disk, two-thirds of our work would already be
   done, and we could build from there.   What I would like to
   know is who holds the copyright to her book.  It was
   published in the era of computers so it is possible that it is
   already on disk. I think that it is worth checking."


   From the New Scientist comes an article about a new kind
   of token that cannot be counterfeited and could one day be
   used in credit cards and other secure identification applications.
   A team at the MIT Media Lab's Center for Bits and Atoms
   has discovered that "a transparent token the size of a postage
   stamp and costing just a penny to make can be used to
   generate an immensely powerful cryptographic key."

   "The team created tokens containing hundreds of glass beads,
   each a few hundred micrometres in diameter, set in a block of
   epoxy one centimetre square and 2.5 mm thick. These are
   "read" by shining a laser beam of a particular wavelength
   through the token."

   "The token could not be duplicated using any manufacturing
   technology in existence or planned....  One future use of the
   tokens could see them being embedded into credit cards."

   "... the first products using the tokens could be developed in
   as little as six months."


   Interesting quote, attributed to Margaret Meade, that could
   apply to our subscribers:   "Never doubt that a small group of
   thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed,
   it is the only thing that ever has."

   On a related note, Kavan Ratnatunga writes: "The collecting
   addiction is recognized and discussed here:
   There is a also a diagnostic test and some help on one
   aspect of numismatic addiction:"


   Coin designers' artistic inspirations are a popular topic
   among numismatic researchers.  In a newspaper
   advertisement (of all places) I recently saw a reference to
   Gobrecht's inspiration for one of his Liberty head designs.
   It was an ad peddling $10 gold coins.   A search of the net
   found a couple thirdhand references, but no original source
   material.  I was hoping to find an image of the painting
   in question.  In any event, perhaps one of our E-Sylum
   readers can shed some more light on the issue.

   The best account I found was on a dealer web page
   which credited Numismatic Guarantee Corp. (NGC)
   for the story and photos.  I was unable to find the same
   text on the NGC web site.

   "Director Robert M. Patterson was instructed to produce
   eagles, and Acting Engraver Christian Gobrecht, replacing
   the ailing William Kneass, prepared dies for a new design.

   Gobrecht’s design, inspired by the portrait of Venus in
   Benjamin West’s Painting Omnia Vincit Amor  (Love
   Conquers All), also became the prototype for the half-eagle
   and large cent of 1839."   From

   This page has links to several images of West's paintings:


   One of my favorite sources for contemporary accounts
   of 18th century numismatics is The Gentleman's Magazine.
   Stan Stephens, writing in the Yahoo Colonial Coins news
   group transcribed this interesting item from vol 44 (1774):

   "31 March: 'Information having been given to Sir John
   Fielding, that a company of coiners made a business of
   coining halfpence in a house on Fish-street-hill, that
   magistrate applied to the Lord Mayor for his warrant to
   apprehend them, which he obtained, and sent five of his
   people, well-armed, to take them by surprize.  There were
   no less than eight of them at work, who, when they found
   themselves discovered, endeavoured to make resistance,
   and one of them received a ball in his head before he

   The night before, they had sent a child for some beer, with
   new halfpence to pay for it; and the landlord observing to
   the child that they were warm, she innocently replied, that
   her daddy had just made them.  A cart-load of Implements
   were found In the house, and carried to Bow-street."

   To subscribe to the Colonial Coins group, send an email to:
   colonial-coins-subscribe at


   This week's featured web site was suggested by Larry
   Mitchell, who writes: "I can't remember if you've covered
   this site or not - The British Museum's World of Money.
   In any event, it's an especially good site for the younger set:

  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

  (To be removed from the E-Sylum mailing list
   write to me at whomren at

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