The E-Sylum v6#09, March 2, 2003

whomren at whomren at
Sun Mar 2 19:52:00 PST 2003

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 6, Number 9, March 2, 2003:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2002, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


   The following auction results are from the Press Release for
   the 90th sale of George Frederick Kolbe/Fine Numismatic
   Books, which closed on February 20, 2003:

   "Over 300 bidders participated and 90% of the 1200 lots in
   Kolbe Sale 90 sold, bringing a total of nearly $135,000. Some
   highlights follow (all include the 15% buyer premium).

   A very fine set of Yeoman's Guide Book of United States,
   popularly known as the Red Book, complete from 1947 to
   2000, brought $2817; an even nicer set of Yeoman Blue
   Books, from 1947 to 2000 complete, sold for $1322; a
   hardbound edition of Dr. Maris' 1869 work, the first separate
   work devoted to United States large cents, experienced active
   bidding and brought $1840 on a $1250 estimate; a 1950
   edition of M. H. Bolender's work on early silver dollars,
   annotated by Walter Breen while he worked for New
   Netherlands Coin Co., was estimated to bring $500 and sold
   for $690; a metal box, once holding American colonial coins
   from the Virgil Brand collection, sold for $230; two original
   letters from Sylvester Crosby to Henry Chapman, both
   dealing with colonial numismatics, brought $1,006 and $517
   respectively; an original, annotated set of Dalton & Hamer's
   classic The Provincial Token-Coinage of the 18th Century
   sold for $1265; an original set of Corpus Nummorum
   Italicorum (minus the extremely rare volume 20), though
   conservatively estimated at $5,500, failed to sell; an unusually
   fine example of the original 1925 edition of A. W. Browning's
   Early Quarter Dollars of the United States, was estimated at
   $3,000 and ended up bringing $4312; a nice example of the
   famous 1890 Parmelee sale catalogue, with 13 fine plates,
   sold for $1150; Burachkov's rare 1884 work on ancient Greek
   coins of the Black Sea went for $1035; a nice example of Q.
   David Bowers' first numismatic publication, issued in 1955,
   was estimated to bring $300 but was hotly contested for and
   ended up selling for $632; a nice selection of antiquarian
   numismatic works generally brought strong prices. A few
   catalogues are still available and may be acquired by sending
   $15.00 to Kolbe. The firm¹s next sale is scheduled for June
   19, 2003."


   Barbara Gregory, Editor of NUMISMATIST writes:
   "Thank you for your comments regarding the February 2003
   issue of NUMISMATIST.  The American Numismatic
   Association has received hundreds of favorable responses from
   readers regarding the redesign.  Many members have noted
   that, for the first time, they read the magazine from cover to

   If you think the February NUMISMATIST was good, wait
   until you see March! Greg Lambousy of the Louisiana State
   Museum offers a history of the New Orleans Mint in a beautifully
   illustrated retrospective, and Arthur M. Fitts III returns with a
   quarterly column about medieval numismatics. The April issue
   will feature two new columnists: John J. Kraljevich Jr. will
   discuss Early American money in his quarterly contribution
   and Mitch Sanders will focus on basics in a monthly column
   entitled "Getting Started."

   Stay tuned . . . the best is yet to come!"


   Clem Schettino writes: "The Second Edition of my CD is
   virtually completed and should be ready for shipping in about
   one week.

   [The CD covers British & Irish 18th century contemporary
   colonial counterfeits.  Excellent images.  -Editor]

   I have already sent a private email to the present three dozen
   or so subscribers, but as a reminder it’ll be $12 to them. That
   should cover my costs of supplies, postage and labor for my

   For new subscribers the cost is $45 pp. The CD will be sent
   post paid to US addresses. Shipping outside of the US will be
   $5 and will be sent Global Priority.

   For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about
   please visit this page at my website.

   If you then back up a couple of pages you will find a few sample


   John W. Adams writes: "Sheldon-bashing has become a popular
   sport. The Yalie quoted by David Fanning refers to WHS as a
   "megalomaniac, pseudo-scientist".  Whatever Sheldon's faults
   (and I don't dispute that there were many), he  held an M.D.
   and a Ph.D.;  his views on classification of personalities via body
   types were widely enough accepted to earn him his own room at
   the Smithsonian, not to mention free access to the crown jewels
   (so to speak) of a long list of  Ivy League colleges. Let's not be
   glib with the truth just because our alma mater was, in retrospect,
   embarrassingly gullible."


   NBS Board member Col. Bill Murray has penned his annual
   numismatic book review article for the 2003 Collector's
   Yearbook, published by COINage magazine.   The article
   leads off with a review of Q. David Bowers' "A California
   Gold Rush History."  Bill notes that the book is "large-format,
   small print, with many quotes in smaller print, which Bowers
   says "... can be easily skipped by anyone desiring to do so."
   You would be advised not to do so.  The book is a history,
   a numismatic reference, a catalog of California Gold and a
   story that reads like fiction.  It's a must read for historians,
   numismatists and gold bugs alike."

   Other reviews include Bowers' "More Adventure with Rare
   Coins", Ron Guth's "Coin Collecting for Dummies", Byron
   Kanzinger's "Civil War Token Collectors Guide", Robert
   Vlack's "An Illustrated Catalogue of Early American
   Advertising Notes."

   Bill's thoughtful comments are a useful guide to the literature
   of 2002, some of which were touched on here in The E-Sylum
   as they were published.  The breadth of subject matter illustrates
   the variety of fascinating topics to be found under the umbrella
   of numismatics.   His notes on the year's general guidebooks
   are very useful, since I've always felt that EVERY book has
   something to offer, even ones which may seem at first blush to
   cover topics already touched on elsewhere.  Every author has
   a unique perspective, and each brings a fresh eye to "old" topics.
   Sometimes a single chapter, index, or appendix makes a book
   indispensable.  So if you think a new book has nothing new to
   offer, think again.   Look between the covers and you may be
   pleasantly surprised.


   A gentleman recently wrote to me: "I have recently come into
   possession of a small, hard cover book titled "The Coins of the
   Bible Illustrated" published by Scott & Company at 721
   Broadway in New York.  The book was entered into the
   Library of Congress in 1884 and I believe this is also the
   publishing date.  It is 5-1/2 inches tall, 3-1/2 inches wide, and
   has 38 pages.  The most exciting thing about the book is that
   within recessed cut-outs in its back cover is a set of 4 replica
   coins discussed within the text of the book.  The coins appear
   to be composed of cheap pot metal but all four are intact and
   in incredible condition."

   [This book sounded somewhat familiar, but I didn't recall
   any coin inserts.  When I checked my library I discovered
   that what I have is "Coins of the Bible" by James Ross Snowden,
   1864 (enlarged edition, 1866).    For more on this title, see
   The E-Sylum, v3n41, October 8, 2000.   But is anyone
   familiar with the Scott work? -Editor]


   Last week Gary Lewis mentioned Roger deWadt Lane's
   new CD called "Modern Dime Size Silver Coins of the World"

   Granvl Hulse adds: "The E-Sylum has discussed the demise
   of books in favor of publications printed exclusively on
   CD-ROM.   For a closer look at of one of these you might
   check Roger Lane's web-site
   ( for a sample
   of his new book "Modern Dime Size Silver Coins of the World
   with Footnotes to History."  The Numismatics International
   Library was given an advance copy. Six hundred pages reduced
   to a quarter inch in thickness, and weighing only a few ounces.
   Roger has posted Haiti on his web site as an example of what is
   found in the pages of his work. E-Sylum readers might find it


   Paul Withers writes: "The discussion of the origin and meaning
   of the Anglo-Indian term "chit" is most interesting.

   I can relate that the term chit is used is both senses in real (UK
   as opposed to US) english.  My mother might have said, for
   example, of 'a chit of a girl who brought a chit for a pair of
   shoes'.  O.k., so the sentence is an unlikely construction, but
   you see what I mean.

   David Klinger writes: "In the discussion about "chits", one of
   the more interesting uses of this word by the military hasn't been
   mentioned -  the Blood Chit. These pieces of fabric or paper
   have been used by aviators almost from the beginning of military
   aviation. They usually have an American flag as part of the chit,
   along with a written message in several languages asking that
   the pilot be returned safely to his country or a neutral location
   in the event that the pilot was downed in unknown territory.
   They were sometimes worn as a patch, or carried in the pilot's
   flight suit. Many may remember the John Wayne movie Flying
   Tigers, where all the pilots had them sewed to the back of their
   leather flight jackets.  They usually offered a monetary reward
   for the airman's safe return.  In this case, where money was
   offered in return, the blood chit would be, in effect, a
   promissory note - making it a numismatic item. The best book
   on these items is "LAST HOPE: The Blood Chit Story, by
   R.E. Baldwin."


   While looking up other things your Editor came across
   a Mark Twain story titled "The Million Pound Bank Note"
   The Cornell University web site displays a copy of the
   story as originally published in the pages of The Century
   magazine in 1893.   An excerpt follows

   “Step in here, please.”
   I was admitted by a gorgeous flunkey, and shown into a
   sumptuous room where a couple of elderly gentlemen were
   sitting. They sent away the servant, and made me sit down.

   Those two old brothers had been having a pretty hot argument
   a couple of days before, and had ended by agreeing to decide
   it by a bet, which is the English way of settling everything.

  You will remember that the Bank of England once issued two
   notes of a million pounds each, to be used for a special purpose
   connected with some public transaction with a foreign country.
   For some reason or other only one of these had been used and
   canceled; the other still lay in the vaults of the Bank.

   Well, the brothers, chatting along, happened to get to wondering
   what might be the fate of a perfectly honest and intelligent
   stranger who should be turned adrift in London without a friend,
   and with no money but that million-pound bank-note, and no
   way to account for his being in possession of it. Brother A said
   he would starve to death; Brother B said he wouldn’t.  Brother
   A said he couldn't offer it at a bank or anywhere else, because
   he would be arrested on the spot. So they went on disputing till
   Brother B said he would bet twenty thousand pounds that the
   man would live thirty days, any way, on that million, and keep
   out of jail, too. Brother A took him up.

   Brother B went down to the Bank and bought that note. Just
   like an Englishman, you see; pluck to the backbone. Then he
   dictated a letter, which one of his clerks wrote out in a beautiful
   round hand, and then the two brothers sat at the window a
   whole day watching  for the right man to give it to.

   They saw many honest faces go by that were not intelligent
   enough; many that were intelligent, but not honest enough;
   many that were both, but the possessors were not poor
   enough, or, if poor enough, were not strangers. There was
   always a defect, until I came along; but they agreed that I
   filled the bill all around; so they elected me unanimously,
   and there I was, now, waiting to know why I was called

   [So, dear readers - is Twain's report of the existence of
   a million-pound banknote pure literary hokum, or did such
   notes actually exist? -Editor]


   This week's featured web site is The Dumbarton Oaks
   Research Library and Collection.   The following description
   is taken from the Washington Numismatic Society web site

   "Housed in a nineteenth-century Federal-style house built on
   the crest of a wooded valley in the Georgetown section of
   Washington, DC. Their facility is of particular interest to DC
   area coin lovers because their collection of about 12,000 coins,
   which forms one of the greatest specialized collections of
   Byzantine coins in the world. Their publications page offers an
   illustrated 67 page publication of Byzantine Coinage by Philip
   Grierson that you can view, print, and download using Adobe
   Acrobat’s viewer."

  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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