The E-Sylum v6#13, March 30, 2003
whomren at coinlibrary.com
whomren at coinlibrary.com
Sun Mar 30 18:10:02 PST 2003
Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 6, Number 13, March 30, 2003:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2003, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Among recent new subscribers are Dr. Michael A. Bailey.
Welcome aboard! We now have 537 subscribers.
ON BECOMING AN NBS MEMBER
Doug Andrews of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, is a new
member of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society. He also
serves on the American Numismatic Association's Information
Technology Committee. He writes: "Wayne, I want to share
with you and with non-members the reasons why I recently
decided to join the NBS.
There are many fine numismatic organizations today. What
separates the NBS from the rest, in my opinion - and why I
joined - comes down to its innovative use of technology.
Every week for the past year I have been receiving The
E-Sylum. Think about it: Every seven days I receive a
comprehensive, well-written publication that provides useful,
timely, and accurate reporting on an important aspect of
numismatics that I enjoy. And it's FREE!
The NBS is surely going "the extra mile," sending me valuable
and interesting information and never asking me for anything
in return. The E-Sylum goes to roughly 540 recipients every
week, plus those who receive it from those now on your
mailing list. That means you can probably double or triple the
actual number of readers.
From the NBS's perspective, this is a very sensible and cost-
effective means of communication and "outreach." Whether
The E-Sylum goes to 5 or 5,000 readers, the cost is nearly
constant. At the same time, the value to the organization in
demonstrating the benefits of joining to potential members
I digress. What better introduction to an organization, and the
merits of joining it, could there be? I am somewhat familiar
with The Asylum and the NBS website. These are two more
excellent reasons to be an NBS member.
The E-Sylum reminds me every week what a great organization
publishes it. I urge every other E-Sylum reader to join, and to
tell their friends that the Numismatic Bibliomania Society is
open, accessible, and WANTS them as members!"
[Instructions for joining are found at the end of each issue of
The E-Sylum. I'll repeat them here: 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.
Thanks, Doug, and welcome to the NBS! -Editor]
NBS MEETING AT CHARLOTTE
NBS Board member Tom Sheehan sent the following report
about the recent regional meeting of the society at the
American Numismatic Association convention held recently
in Charlotte, NC:
"At the NBS meeting in Charlotte we had about a dozen
members and prospective members present. We were very
informal but we were all brought up to date on the latest
developments at the ANA library by Nancy Green. She now
has an actual budget to buy books. Nancy also told us about
the book sale that is held each year at the ANA's Summer
Seminar. Since "Coin Camp" is now two sessions, Nancy
has made plans to have two book sales with every effort to
make them equitable.
Howard Daniel brought me a copy of the first edition of Fred
Schwan's Military Payment Certificates. This book will be
auctioned off at our NBS meeting at the ANA Convention in
Baltimore in August. If other members have a book or
pamphlet or two they would like to donate please be sure to
bring it with you or forward it with a member who will attend.
This meeting is always worth the trip and a lot of fun."
BALL CONFEDERATE MANUSCRIPT
An article about the late Dr. Douglas Ball in the April 2003
issue of Bank Note Reporter quotes Ball's colleague Stephen
Goldsmith of R. M. Smythe saying, "He was working on what
was to have been an extraordinary book on Confederate
currency, and his fondest wish would have been to have
finished it before he died."
It would be a shame for the book to go unpublished, but
unfortunately, that is often the case when an author dies.
Is there anyone who could pick up the reigns on the project?
The same issue of Bank Note Reporter brings better news
about another book relating to Confederate currency.
. "Counterfeit Currency of the Confederate States of
America" by George B. Tremmel has just been published.
"Its 144 pages include a historical discussion of the people
and events involved with CSA counterfeits, as well as steps
taken by the Confederate Treasury to combat the plague
of illegal notes." The hardcovered book may be ordered
from Hugh Shull, P.O. Box 761, Camden, SC 29020 for
$35 plus $3 shipping.
Another long-awaited publication is being publicized in
ads by "Bowers and Merena Galleries" -- the long-awaited
update to "California Pioneer Fractional Gold" by Walter
Breen and Ronald J. Gillio. The new revised and enlarged
second edition was authored by Robert D. Leonard, Jr.
In the ad, Robert J. Chandler of the California Historical
Society writes, "It is a toss up to decide what Bob Leonard
has done best: Coordinating iconoclastic, egocentric
collectors, or tracking down leads on the highways and
byways of research. To cite one area, Leonard's revelations
on manufacturers in the 1870s and 1880s are amazing."
Pre-publication prices are $39.50 hardbound, $27.50
softbound. Orders may be made through the company's
web site: http://www.bowersandmerena.com"
Has it only been 12 years since this book was in print?
Secondhand copies of the earlier editions have been
bringing up to $300 until recently. Perhaps more people
will support the authors and publisher this time around
by buying their copies before it goes out of print again.
I have a deluxe copy of the first edition in my library
(ex-Jim Sloss), but had sold all my copies of the
softbound version. It will be nice to have a working copy
of the revised edition on the shelf soon.
COIN QUIZ: HEADS = TAILS?
I've never been flummoxed by a coin question from the general
public, but the other day a web site visitor wrote, "I would like
to ask a question about coins. In history, were there any coins
with totally identical sides?"
Well, I was flummoxed and tongue-tied. I'm sure there are
tokens with identical sides, and perhaps medals as well,
although I can't think of any specific examples. There are
probably some ancient coins that fit the description, but as
for official modern coins, I'm not sure. I have collected both
U.S. and world coins in my day, and don't recall any where
the obverse and reverse used identical designs. But if anyone
can come up with examples, you can, dear E-Sylum readers.
So .. make me feel stupid and send in your lists.
RED BOOK MINTAGE FIGURES
In response to last week's query, Kenneth Bressett, Editor of
"A Guide Book of United States Coins", aka the "Red Book"
writes: "I wish that I could easily answer why the Red Book
mintage figures for 1871 are different than the Mint's estimates.
Unfortunately, I no longer have access to the records and input
that went into establishing the numbers.
Early editions of the Red Book were inconsistent about including
Proof figures along with the regular coinage. Most of those have
been separated over the years, but there are uncertainties about
others, and they have been left in their original form even though
technically they may not be entirely accurate.
Accurate mintage figures have always been a problem for
researchers. The Mint has not been consistent in their method
of reporting in the past, and the situation is not much better now.
Mint figures are occasionally 'updated' to reflect final sales to
collectors, disposal of coins and sets that were held back for
any number of reasons, and perhaps even inconsistencies in
Red Book figures do not claim to be 100% accurate, but the
Mint has often quoted them, rather than using their own records,
knowing that their numbers are often less reliable."
MICKLEY CATALOG VARIANTS
Bruce Burton of Round Rock, Texas writes: "I've thought
about asking this before, but have just never gotten around
to it. In the course of my buying/selling/collecting I have
acquired two copies, both apparently original (1867), of
W. Elliot Woodward's sale catalogs of the Joseph J. Mickley
collection. Each binding is a bit different and the books are
slightly different sizes. Some of the distinctions between the
two are as follows:
"Copy No. 1"
This volume has a black leather spine (no lettering) and corners.
The boards are marbled a tannish/brown. Preceding what
would have been the title page in copy 2 (below), this one has
two pages that announce this as Woodward's tenth semi-annual
sale and then provide an introduction by Woodward after which
is the text:
"Please preserve this Catalogue for use at the sale, as it is proba-
ble that none can be obtained at that time."
The following title page starts "Catalogue of the Numismatic
Collection formed by Joseph J. Mickley, Esq., ..." and toward
the bottom states "Orders for the sale will be faithfully executed
by the Auctioneers Edward Cogan, Esq., 100 William Street, ...."
This volume is partially priced, presumably by a bidder at the
"Copy No. 2"
The slightly smaller of the two has a small, printed errata strip
attached near the spine on the last page (196). This volume is
bound in black leather with gilt printing on the spine that reads
The title page of this copy starts "Priced Catalogue of the
Numismatic Collection formed by Joseph J. Mickley, Esq., ..."
and omits any mention of "Auctioneers Edward Cogan, Esq.,
100 William Street, ...."
My questions: Can someone provide information on how many
variants of the Mickley Sale there were/are and how many
catalogues of each variant were likely produced?"
[I'll take a stab at answering some of Bruce's questions, and
I'm sure our readers will have their say as well. In the 19th
century, the common practice was for catalogs to be furnished
to bidders unbound. If desired, the bidder would take it to a
local bookbinder and have it bound according to his personal
preference. Official hardbound catalogs produced by the
publisher are a much more recent phenomenon. So finding
copies with different bindings is not unusual - it would be more
of a surprise to discover two that are exactly alike.
Since the binding was subject to the whims and tastes of each
catalog's owner, it was similarly up to the owner as to what
items to include or exclude from the binding. Errata notes,
bid sheets, plates etc. could be bound in the volume in any way
the owner decides. For example, one of the owners decided
to save and bind in the prospectus (i.e. announcement flyer) for
the sale. The other owner either didn't have a copy of the
prospectus, or decided not to bind it in.
As for the "Orders for the sale" text, dealers who planned to
attend the sale in person would send copies of the catalog to
their customers, but only after first printing or stamping their
name and address on it.
MINE, MINE, ALL MINE
Martin Purdy writes: "Two different anecdotes on the subject -
the trader in the first story is NOT me, by the way.
It would probably be a question of vendor's bad luck in most
cases, depending on the purchaser's conscience. I know of
a case where a pair of valuable banknotes were found tucked
in a stamp album that a trader bought, and neither parties were
aware that the notes were there. I may be wrong, but I think
the original vendor still doesn't know about it ...
I was sorting through some non-numismatic books a while
back and found I had two identical copies of one title, so
thought I would discard whichever was in the worse condition.
I flicked through them to check the content of the pages, and
found an uncirculated Australian $100 bill inside one of them.
Not treasure trove, sadly - I had put the note there myself
when on holiday in Melbourne, as I needed somewhere to
keep it flat, and had completely forgotten about it by the time
I got home. Had it gone to a book sale and sold for the 20
cents that the book is probably worth, it would have been
my loss and rightly so for being so careless!"
David F. Fanning of Fanning Books and Editor-in-Chief of our
print journal, The Asylum, writes: "I'm used to giving my opinion
unsolicited, so the opportunity to give my two cents in response
to an actual solicitation is too good to pass up.
Regarding inserted items in books, the buyer owns whatever it
is. Unequivocally. Indubitably. There may be occasions where
ethics calls for returning found items to a prior owner (love
letters, say), but it's up to the buyer, I think. I don't care if
an 1804 dollar: the seller has to know what he or she is selling.
If the seller hasn't flipped through the book, that's being lazy.
It's as if I buy a rare die variety off an established coin dealer
too lazy or dumb to attribute the thing: my gain, his loss, no
It'd be different if I found something really good in a book I
bought off someone who wasn't a coin or book dealer (the
widow of a collector, say); then I'd feel obligated to work
something out with them."
NUMISMATIC ETHICS 101
On a related topic, Dick Johnson writes: "Every specialist in
the numismatic field -- and I assume this holds true with other
fields that deal in artifacts -- faces this problem of ethics every
day. When someone offers you an item in your specialty and it
is mispriced, what do you do? Does it matter if this person is
a professional dealer or a lay person?
Many pros I know hold this view: If a dealer prices his
merchandise and it is undervalued (even way undervalued) you
buy it. If it is priced at close to retail you pass, allow him to
it to a collector at the fair price for both. If it is overpriced you
obviously pass but you have a choice of mentioning it or not
(usually I mention it to a friendly dealer, or if, say, it is a flea
market dealer I say nothing, he has to get his education
For years I wondered why seasoned dealers would ask me a
question about a medallic item or two in their stock. Hans
M.F. Schulman did this to me many times. It was more like
"How would you grade this?" than a blatant question like "Is
this priced correctly?" Subtlety, I thought, they were asking
for my appraisal.
[Hans was a dear friend of many years. I made him the first
weekly columnist when I started Coin World. Later, when I
became a dealer in medals, he guided several collections my
way, when he could have sold them himself. By his questions
he was, in effect, educating me, strengthening my dealer skills.]
In regard to appraisals: A paid professional appraisal is worth
every penny! This holds true for both the vest pocket dealer
and the seasoned pro, but particularly so for someone from the
But even a professional appraiser can overlook something.
Example: A bachelor collector in New England had built a fine
medal collection. He paid Henry Grunthal, a former dealer but
then a curator at ANS, to come look at his collection and offer
an appraisal. There was one award medal that had been
awarded to an early American photographer, a quite valuable
piece among the collection. Apparently Henry didn't catch it.
Our offer was near Henry's appraisal and the collector sold the
collection to my partner and I. We researched the medal,
learned of its super rarity, and described it correctly in our
auction catalog. It was purchased by an unknown photography
collector who sent an agent to our auction to buy it for a hefty
four-figure amount. It realized more than we paid for the entire
This fine tunes the ethics. Should we have shared part of the
proceeds with the former owner even though our deal had
been completed to the satisfaction of both parties? Or was
this a legitimate profit for our expertise and research? What
would you have done?
Dealers have the responsibility to correctly grade and price
the items they offer for sale. The public, it appears, is open
game for most dealers depending upon their level of greed.
My advice to all is: Get a bono fide appraisal from a specialist
knowledgeable for that item before you offer any item for sale.
I throw up my hands, however, for the sellers on eBay. They
range all over the place: From the arrogant and ignorant to
the nicest, most sophisticated dealers you'll find. But the
misinformation on eBay is omnipresent; I won't even mention
the mispricing or their ethics. It is not only caveat emptor on
the internet, its: Buyer Be Educated!"
ADDRESS UPDATE: JOHN KRALVEVICH
NBS Board member John Kraljevich writes: "I will no longer
be able to use the johnk at bowersandmerena.com email
address within the next few days, so please contact me at:
jkral2003 at yahoo.com"
LEATHER MILITARY MONEY
Bob Leonard writes: "I wrote about the Doge Domenigo
Michieli leather money in 1989 in "The History of Leather
Money," for the Chicago Coin Club's CICF giveaway of a
leather token. This article has been reprinted a couple of
times in numismatic publications, in The Centinel v. 37, no. 2
(summer 1989), p. 23-29, and World Coin News v. 17, no.
5 (Mar. 5, 1990), p. 26, 28, the latter somewhat condensed
and revised. My source for this item, "Leather Currency,"
by W. Charlton (British Numismatic Journal, 1906, p. 316,
gave the date as 1122, not 1123. Charlton cited "Italian
history" as his source. Einzig, Primitive Money, also mentions
this issue on p. 268, citing Charlton, and I found another
source (?Alexander Del Mar, History of Monetary Systems)
that mentioned usage at the siege of Tyre in 1124. Though
Charlton describes the shapes of the pieces, to the best of
my knowledge none have been preserved."
ANS LIBRARY FUNDRAISING, AND LENDING POLICY
Steve Pellegrini writes: "It was nice to read that fundraising for
the Francis D. Campbell Library Chair is moving along
successfully. I always have and always will donate to
worthwhile library projects.
Living on the West coast I have no opportunity to utilize the
ANS Library. In effect the ANS library is only available to
members living in or around New York City or those who
can afford the time and money to stay in New York each
time reference to the stacks is called for. In contrast, getting
to the mostly US material in the ANA's catalogue is simplicity
itself. The easily accessible lending facilities of the ANA
Library is a major reason I maintain membership in that
organization. However, most of my collecting interests revolve
around historic European, political and satirical medals.
Naturally the ANS library is much broader and deeper in this
international area than is the ANA library. Anyone know the
reasons the ANS won't allow access to 'non-rare' library
materials through the mail?"
On the related topic of differences between ANA and ANS,
Kavan Ratnatunga writes: "I saw the discussion about the
difference between ANS and ANA and thought I will
comment that they play complementary roles which are both
important. Research and popularization and both important to
keep any field alive. Amateur astronomers play an useful
support role in professional astronomical research. It is like
philosophy and religion. The ying and the yang."
THE BILL OF RIGHTS' NEW/OLD HOME
Chick Ambrass writes: "Reading the article about the recently-
found copy of the Bill of Rights, prompted me to share this
personal activity. My daughter has lived in Raleigh, NC for
not quite 1-1/2 yrs now. We've only visited once, before a
couple of weeks ago, when we went for an extended week-
end. I asked what where we going to do with the time, I
didn't want to spend it sitting in her apartment watching TV.
I said that there was some sort of park in the downtown
section when we drove by last night. I suggested we check-
out the downtown area.
It turns out that I was referring to the State House, the original
building to house the North Carolina State activities. In this
building are the two chambers for the senate, and the
representatives, numerous offices, a "geological" room, and
the library are the rooms we were able to visit. A very
attractive building, with many historical artifacts on display.
It was a self-guided tour, and the cleaning lady explained that
the impressive chambers are no longer used on a daily basis,
but only for special events, such as the governor presenting an
award or perhaps a small press conference.
Outside, around the building the grounds include 10-12
monuments/statues/cannons/etc. honoring the three Presidents
that hailed from NC, and the men and women of NC from the
revolutionary war up thru the Viet Nam conflict.
An interesting note: there are over 80 fireplaces in the building,
and it was stated that it required over 300 cords of wood to
heat the building each winter season. The back stairs, made
of stone of some sort, were in very poor condition -- cracked,
chipped, gouged, and just heavily worn in some areas, due to
the fact that this staircase was used to move the 300 cords of
wood, in "steel-wheeled" wheel barrels to the upper floors of
This building is where the newly acquired lost copy of the
"Bill of Rights" will be on public display."
DAVISSION CATALOG AVAILABLE
Allan Davisson writes: "We delivered our next auction catalog
to the printer on Friday. It has 67 lots of U.S. colonial coinage
--all copper except for one silver Higley copy using Bolen dies.
Every lot is photographed and offered separately including a
Vermont, Ryder 13, a Bar Cent, and a choice Virginia halfpenny.
It is a nicely representative "collector's collection."
I am happy to send copies of the sale catalog to anyone
requesting. Our address is just Davissons, Cold Spring, MN
56320. Our email address: coins at cloudnet.com"
JUMBO DENOMINATION NOTES
Ken Berger writes; "I was rereading David Ganz's comments
on the currency notes of denominations above $100. He
stated that "On July 14, 1969, the Department of the Treasury
and the Federal Reserve System announced that currency
notes in denominations of $500, $1,000, $5,000, and
$10,000 would be discontinued immediately due to lack of
use." I always found this interesting, since today such large
denominations would seem to be much more useful than they
were in the past. I wonder if the reason stated by the Treasury
is the real reason."
Gar Travis, Communications Coordinator for the ANA
Sub-committee on Numismatics in Post Secondary
Institutions writes: "Notre Dame is on the "list" for the ANA
subcommittee on Numismatics in Post Secondary Institutions,
we did not publish all of the universities as we have many on
the list, simply showing only a representative few. We have
shared many e-mails and ideas with Louis Jordan, Special
Collections curator at Notre Dame and of course we have
also established contacts within the American Numismatic
There was mention to our committee chairman of two courses
that were mentioned on the University of Michigan web site.
Well, they are there for all to see, but the courses have not
been offered for many years...the last time being when Ted
Buttrey was an instructor there.
Ray Flanigan writes: "Numismatics in Colleges and Universities
generated more responses that we had envisioned. As many
of your readers correctly pointed out Notre Dame does indeed
have a world class collection and was on our list and somehow
inadvertently omitted when the article was written. Not only
does this fine collection, curated by Lou Jordan, contain
Colonial and early American coins but also Colonial Currency,
Washington Tokens, Confederate Currency, 19th Century
American Tokens, a complete type set of regular issue US coins,
Conder Tokens, Franklin Mint and modern commemorative issues.
Several readers also pointed out that Dr. Alan Stahl taught a
course at Notre Dame this past summer. The course was
Medieval Coinage and Money under the aegis of the Medieval
Institute, but the University does not offer a regularly scheduled
course in numismatics.
Concerning the ANS, the subcommittee has been in contact
with the ANS and believes that there is no overlap in goals or
objectives. The ANS summer seminars are aimed at
postgraduate and postdoctoral students. The subcommittee
is trying to promote the study of numismatics at the
undergraduate level (thus providing students for the ANS
program) and reader suggestions on ways to promote this
goal would be most appreciated. They can be sent to
RFlanigan at ec.rr.com. Success in this area might be reflected
in some more scholarly articles in The Numismatist or The
Asylum. The Aegean wine trade, we'll leave to the Oenologists."
DR. Q. BO DAWVIES RETURNS
A correspondent emailing from an account under the name
of "Walter Breen" submitted the following:
Perhaps the following might be of interest to E-sylum readers.
S.S. Elreep, 4/1/2003
We have the privilege of announcing the long awaited return
of Dr. Q. Bo Dawvies to the numismatic scene. Dr. Dawvies
favored us with the following press release:
My new firm, Arcane Miniaturistic Maimers, will be setting up
at the 103rd annual National Middle States convention this
August. As everybody knows, Ive been attending the National
Middle States conventions for years, in fact I had a table there
when my mother was still pregnant. My dad had to guarantee
it as I was not yet born. Its been said that, after the show, I
was born with a 1909-SVDB in my hand. Fortunately for my
mother the slab had not yet been invented. Apparently no one
recognized the coin since Lincoln cents were not yet circulating.
I thought it was a dandy design and exhibited the coin at my
first birthday party. Everyone thought it was real nifty and the
splendiferous example was placed front row center next to the
candle on the cake.
Many of you have asked what weve been doing since parting
ways with our predecessor firm, Awesome Barrelled Earnings.
Ive been delving into the life of one Warren B.Etel, who holds
a unique place in the pantheon of American numismatists. Mr.
Etel was the fourth cousin of Augustus Sage and the seventh
cousin (twice removed) of Edward Cogan. Although Mr. Etel
never met either of these esteemed luminaries, it seems that on
several occasions he actually spent American coins. Our six
hundred page volume will put you there at the scene of each
of these most memorable transactions.
Its a pleasure to be back and we look forward to meeting all
of you at the National Middle States!"
[I am not making that up. It really did show up in my email.
Happy April Fool's Day. -Editor]
FEATURED WEB SITE
This week's featured web site is about German Inflationary
Notgeld 1922-1923. "After WWI, Germany was plunged
into one of the worst inflations ever to hit a western country
as the government struggled with the truly massive punitive
damages demanded by the Treaty of Versailles. During this
brief period of hyper-inflation, people who did not convert
their savings into tangible assets lost them completely. Many
bank accounts were closed because even large pre-war
sums of 100,000 Marks were longer worth even the price
of a postage stamp. The middle class was by and large
reduced to poverty, theft and petty crime soared, pensions
became worthless and many people starved to death.
However an interesting by-product of this period was the
rich variety of banknotes churned out from each town,
displaying values of anything up to 100,000,000,000,000
marks. This web site is devoted to these incredibly
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 submit items for publication in The E-Sylum,
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