The E-Sylum v6#51, November 30, 2003
whomren at coinlibrary.com
whomren at coinlibrary.com
Sun Nov 30 20:01:36 PST 2003
Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 6, Number 51, November 30, 2003:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2003, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Among recent new subscribers are NBS member Dan
Vollmer. Welcome aboard! We now have 605
ASYLUM ARRIVING AFTER DELAY
Tom Fort writes: "The latest Asylum issue was mailed last
Thursday. We had some problems due to my using a new
computer (they did not have the latest version of Quark yet),
and there were some questions regarding the member
addresses. All of these have been solved and everyone
should be getting the latest issue any day."
Dick Johnson writes: "My Summer 2003 issue of The Asylum
arrived today with the lead article on me. Kindly express my
appreciation to NBS President and author Pete Smith.
Also my appreciation to Tom Fort for running my picture on
the cover. I like the gryphons and putti -- nice touch! -- and
you choose the print of me wearing the ivy crown. I think this
print shows my hair length just about right length but I see now
that my toga is one size too large. Thanks!"
[NBS members will get the joke when they see the cover of
the issue. The rest of you, well, we hope some of you will
choose to become members of our organization. Only paid-up
members receive issues of our print journal, The Asylum. The
latest issue leads off with Dick Johnson's recollections (as told
to Pete Smith) of his start in numismatics and creation of Coin
World and other numismatic publications. Other interesting
articles include David Lange's essay on "Ghostwriting in
Numismatics" (reprinted with permission from the Numismatic
Literary Guild Newsletter), Joel Orosz' Printer's Devil column,
"Bowers, Books, and Bloviation," George Frederick Kolbe's
notes on "A Rare Vellum Edition of Andrea Fulvio's Illustrium
Imagines," Pete Smith's President's Message, and editor E.
Tomlinson Fort's "Numismatic Literature Bibliography, 2000-
COINAGE FOUNDER JAMES MILLER DIES
John and Nancy Wilson write: "We just received this from the
Honorable David Ganz regarding James Miller from COINage:
James L. Miller, founding editorial director of COINage
Magazine and a fixture in the American numismatic publication
scene for nearly 40 years, died Saturday, November 29, after
a year-long battle with throat cancer. He is survived by his wife
Jill, three daughters, and many grandchildren. Funeral
arrangements are for Wed., December 3 at San Buena Vista
Mission in Ventura, CA."
ANS BASS LIBRARY DEDICATION DECEMBER 2ND
Dr. Ute Wartenberg Kagan, Executive Director of the American
Numismatic Society writes: "Enclosed is the press release for
Tuesday's event at the new ANS building. The library will be
dedicated in the name of Harry Bass Jr. Note that all E-Sylum
readers are welcome to attend this event, which will be held on
Tuesday, December 2, from 11.30 onwards at 140 William
Street in New York City." [The press release follows. -Editor]
On December 2, 2003, at 11:30 a.m., the official dedication of
the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Library will be held at the new home of
the American Numismatic Society at 140 William Street in New
York City. The Library, which holds the largest collection of
numismatic literature in the world, will occupy both the 5th and
6th floors of the new building. During the ceremony on Tuesday,
Doris Bass, Harrys widow, and her two sons, David and Michael
Calhoun, will present a check of $400,000 to the American
Numismatic Society. With this gift the Harry Bass Foundation will
have contributed over $4,000,000 to the Society. We are deeply
grateful to Doris and her sons for this generous gift. The library
the new building will be a fitting tribute to Harrys extraordinary
leadership, says Donald Partrick, President of the American
Harry Bass had a significant influence on the Society, both as
a Councillor and during his years as President, a post he held
from 1978 until 1984. As an accomplished businessman and
a devoted public servant, he served as Dallas County Chairman
and Republican State Committeeman. Bass also administered
two foundations, the Harry Bass Foundation and the Harry W.
Bass, Jr. Research Foundation. Through the former, he provided
support to many Dallas area institutions and through the latter
he furthered research and scholarship in certain areas of U.S
coinage. Harry Bass assembled one of the largest and finest
collections of U.S. gold in the world and built a comprehensive
reference collection of U.S. gold.
In 1997, thanks to the support and vision of Harry Bass the
ANS set up its first website, which was one of the first museum
websites on the internet. It is today one of the foremost resources
for the numismatic community. Scholars, collectors and researchers
from all over the world can access images and information on the
remarkable collections of coins and books at the ANS. This year
alone the ANS had hits from 92 different nations. On average the
website receives over 100,000 hits a month. To the present day
two full-time staff members are being paid from the funds donated
by Bass for maintaining the website and updating all technology
at the ANS. The ANS takes great pride in having its Library
bear the name of Harry W. Bass, Jr. Harry was one of the first
people to realize the importance of computers and information
technology for museums. Over two decades ago he started the
ANS on its course towards computerizing all its objects. Without
him we would not be where we are today, says Frank Campbell,
ANS Librarian for 30 years.
The ANS, founded in 1858, is the second oldest Museum in
Manhattan and houses Americas most comprehensive collections
of coins, medals, tokens, paper currency and other items."
[I hope many of our readers will be in hand to witness this
historic event. This is also a good time for all friends of
numismatic literature to consider a donation to the Francis D.
Campbell Library Chair fund, as discussed in previous E-Sylum
issues. Flyers were included with the latest Asylum mailing.
I urge NBS members to take the time NOW to write a check.
Others may simply send a check made out to "The American
Numismatic Society" (with a notation that it is for the Campbell
Library Chair Fund) to the Society's present address, 617 West
155th Street, New York, NY 10032. For further information,
see the ANS web site at http://www.numismatics.org/
QUIZ QUESTION: If the ANS is the SECOND oldest
museum in Manhattan, what's the OLDEST? -Editor]
CHALMERS COIN FOUND IN BALTIMORE
A front-page article in the December 8 issue of COIN
WORLD discusses Will Mumford's discovery of a
Chalmers threepence coin in dirt excavated from a 1770
home at 10 Cornhill Street in Baltimore, MD.
"It was a one-man dig, and if I hadn't volunteered, all
the excavated dirt would have gone to the dump. I dug
for three weeks and discovered a brick floor about a
foot below the surface. Below the bricks, I found about
five inches of pure sand, then a mixture of sand and soil.
Another six inches down, I hit clay bottom. In this bottom
layer, I started finding artifacts of the 18th century."
Mumford found 22 coins in all, including a Connecticut
Cent, a Virginia Halfpenny, and a William III halfpenny.
"Local legend places the Chalmers mint at 10 Cornhill,
but land records show only that Chalmers owned 14
Cornhill just down the street."
"For Mumford, "It has been the time of my life. At age
70, it has been my greatest adventure."
[Who wouldn't want to time-travel back to a colonial-era
mint? Congratulations! The above excerpts can't do
justice to Eric von Klinger's great article - be sure to
find and read the whole piece. Adventure! Suspense!
1688 MINT DOCUMENT OFFERED IN HOLABIRD SALE
Lot 528 in the December 11, 2003 sale of Holabird
Associates is an early document related to the establishment
of a mint in the American colonies. From the catalog:
"U. S. Mint Related Document from the American Colonies to
the King of England, June, 1688. Includes the first proposal
for the construction of a Mint on American soil. Series of three
documents from the Edmund Andros Estate regarding a
Proposal to His Majesty offered by the petitioners and their
associates unto the committee appointed by His Majesty.
These four documents trace one of the first, if not the first,
proposal to the King for mineral rights in the American
Colonies. The four documents are dated June to August, 1688.
Edmund Andros was Governor of New York 1674-1681 and
Governor of the American Colonies 1686-1689. "
See the online catalog for more information:
The sale also includes a Carson City mint reverse die.
(Half Dollar Reverse Die, c.1870-78, lot 623)
REPUBLIC COIN SALVAGE REPORT
Arthur Shippee forwarded a link to an article in today's
New York Times about salvage from the wreck of the
steamship Republic. Here are some excerpts:
"It lay in darkness at the bottom of the Atlantic for more than
a century, guarded only by the occasional shark. Now, the
150-year-old steamship has a visitor: a robot bristling with
lights, cameras and mechanical arms that is picking its way
through the wreckage, hauling up a fortune in gold and silver
coins, eventually perhaps 30,000 of them.
The ship is the Republic, which sailed from New York in
1865, just after the Civil War, carrying 59 passengers and
crew and a mixed cargo meant to help New Orleans recover
from the war. About 100 miles off Georgia, battling a hurricane,
it sank in waters a third of a mile deep.
Its cargo of lost coins, experts say, may now be worth up to
"... Odyssey Marine Exploration of Tampa, Fla., announced the
find in August and said it hoped to retrieve the coins. Today it is
announcing that the treasure is real and is detailing its findings.
So far, the company has retrieved more than 1,600 gold and
silver coins. None are dated later than 1865, tending to confirm
the wreck's identity, said Greg Stemm, the company's director
"For some reason, even the silver coins are in great condition,"
said Mr. Stemm, 46. "Part of it is surely the physical environment
down there." The icy deep, explorers are finding, can often
preserve objects, even precious metals like silver that normally
"Early this month, the team had the robot vacuum away sand
from where the cache was believed to lie. A few coins appeared,
then more. "They followed it like a trail of bread crumbs," Mr.
Stemm said, "and came upon a cascade of gold coins."
To date, the company has recovered more silver than gold.
"That caught us by surprise," Mr. Stemm said. He said Odyssey
expected to find gold coins because silver was scarce in the
Republic's day. Mr. Stemm noted that most of the coins they
are finding now are gold.
Once numismatic experts have inspected the recovered coins,
the company plans to release reports on their number,
condition and value."
For the full article, see:
Sixty-one years ago this week, (November 26, 1942), U.S.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered nationwide gasoline
rationing as part of the war effort. The new rules would take
effect December 1. The wartime Office of Price Administration
(OPA) issued books of ration coupons and corresponding
tokens. Gasoline, sugar, meat, silk, nylon and other items were
rationed. Below are as couple web pages discussing rationing
and the tokens. Can anyone locate a more detailed discussion
of the OPA tokens on the web?
MORE ON CHARLESTON SLAVE TAGS
Regarding last week's item about Charleston, S.C. slave tags,
Rich Hartzog writes: 'Not to detract from the Wake Forest
web site, but the 5 Tags listed are those he purchased from
me in my 1999 World Exonumia mail bid sale. He doubled
the price, was unable to sell them, and ended up consigning
them to (as I recall) B&M a few years back. I am constantly
fighting a battle against the fakers of Slave Tags, and maintain
two main pages on Tags, and fakes at
[I'm sorry I missed Rich's page in last week's note. The
Wake Forest page was included because it had some good
illustrations of the tags - we don't normally reference
commercial pages. -Editor]
John Kraljevich writes: "I'd love to hear from anyone who
has additional information or listings of Charleston slave hire
badges. I've been compiling a database of these things for
awhile. I might add that the B+M sales of the LaRiviere
Collection Part II and the Flannagan/Logan Collections
contain a number of important slave hire badges and some
of my research up to those dates are included therein.
Did anyone notice how horribly the Charleston Museum
has buffed the slave badge that the curator was holding
with cotton gloves?? Seems like misplaced priorities to me --
dig it out of the dirt, buff the everlovin' crap out of it, then
hold it in a gloved hand?"
[I experienced the same sickening feeling when viewing
a traveling blockbuster exhibit of early american silver at
the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh many years ago. One
of the first cases contained coins, including a New England
shilling, which had been buffed within an inch of its life.
Alan V. Weinberg writes: "I was a serious collector of
Charleston slave tags until approx. 25 years ago. I'd guess
at the time I had the finest and most diverse "occupation"
collection. I decided not to continue collecting them as
they were being offered to me "hot and heavy" and I soon
determined they were not rare & easily acquired - all you
needed was the funds. There was no challenge. So I
disposed of my collection, the best piece being a round
1802 Servant tag in EX F condition for the highest price
then of $900.
Since then my decision has been vindicated, although not
in price appreciation. Hundreds of Charleston slave tags
have been excavated around the Charleston area and I'll
wager the population had doubled in the past decade. A
recent conversation with a foremost Americana cataloguer
agreed with my assessment - that there were now over
1,000 genuine Charleston slave tags extant.
Not to speak of the huge number of diestruck Charleston
tags that have been counterfeited since the inception of eBay.
They are quite deceptive except to the experienced collector
My definition of "rare" has always been the extreme
difficulty in locating a piece for your collection despite having
the necessary funds. For example, a decent 1792 Birch cent
which I have pursued for over 35 years."
["Rare" is a relative term, and slave badges are certainly more
rare than the shiny Morgan dollars Ford was discussing as
being offered up as "rare" coins. But I appreciate Alan's
definition of rarity - being unable to find a desired item for
years on end is the type of challenge I enjoy too, and
suspect many of our E-Sylum readers do as well. One of my
specialties is U.S. Encased Postage Stamps, and anytime I
search a bourse floor for pieces I need for my collection, I
usually come up empty-handed. Numismatic literature can
present the same type of challenge. Recently I purchased a
book relating to my EPS collection that I'd been seeking
for nearly twenty years. The last time I saw a copy in person
was at the rare book room of the New York Public Library.
"The Reminiscences of Frederick Ayer" was privately printed
in Boston in 1923. Frederick was the brother of J.C. Ayer.
Together they ran the J.C. Ayer company which was such a
prolific advertiser and issuer of encased postage stamps during
the Civil War. -Editor]
U.S. MINT ARTISTIC INFUSION PROGRAM
The U.S. Mint just published a press release about their new
"Artistic Infusion" program. The following are some excerpts
from the release. Follow the link to read the full release.
"The United States Mint invites American artists to participate
in its new Artistic Infusion Program to help design U.S. coins
and medals. The program will provide an opportunity for artists
to be part of the rich history of artistry in United States coinage.
The United States Mint is notifying colleges, art publications
and art associations of its Call for Artists.
Coin design is a fine, ancient art, said United States Mint
Director Henrietta Holsman Fore. Artistic Infusion will mark
a historic change in the United States Mints 211 year history.
We are looking forward to working with a group of great
American artists, as we seek enduring images that reflect a
great Nations values.
"Master and Associate Designers selected for the program
will enter into one-year renewable agreements with the United
States Mint. They will be invited to create and submit at least
one new design annually for a coin or medal program. Each
Master Designer submitting a design will receive an honorarium
of $1000. Associate Designers will receive $500. United
States Mint sculptor/engravers will model the designs
submitted by the Artistic Infusion Program artists."
[It will be interesting to follow the outcome of this program,
but my first impression is that it hardly seems worth an artist's
time to develop a design for a lousy $1,000. Since the Mint
sculptor/engravers would do the hard work of turning the
design into workable dies, perhaps the Mint feels that's a fair
price. But given the level of fees, their offer seems more likely
to attract only amateurs, not professionals.
And speaking of the sculptor/engravers, how are they going to
feel about having their own artistic freedom taken away? If
they could regain that freedom (and make much more money)
in the private sector, what would keep them at the mint? I
worry that the law of unintended consequences could turn this
otherwise fine-sounding idea into a big mess. Other thoughts?
SAINT-GAUDENS EXHIBIT VISITS ALLENTOWN, PA
A professional artist like Augustus Saint-Gaudens is perhaps
what the Mint is hoping to lure this time. David Gladfelter
reports that "The Allentown (PA) Art Museum is showing
"Augustus Saint-Gaudens:Master of American Sculpture"
through January 18. For info go to www.allentownartmuseum.org
For a review go to www.philly.com/mld/inquirer search
"articles last 7 days" for "sozanski".
[An excerpt from the review follows:
"His influence extended even to coinage. The $20 gold
piece he designed, a commission from President Theodore
Roosevelt, is properly described as the most beautiful
American coin ever minted."
"Saint-Gaudens was a lot more than a designer of monuments.
He was a prolific and equally imaginative portraitist who
favored bronze reliefs of the kind found on coins and medals.
He executed many of these as plaques, whose delicate lines
and poetic spirit have become his trademark.
A sculptor of such versatility who worked so much in the
public sphere isn't easy to define through a museum
exhibition. However, the Saint-Gaudens survey in Allentown
does so magnificently."
[So, here's another QUIZ QUESTION: how much was
Saint-Gaudens paid for his work on U.S. coinage designs?
How much would that be in 2003 dollars? -Editor]
NUMISMATIC ADVENTURES OF MUTT AND JEFF
Roger deWardt Lane writes: "A numismatic friend, Steve Shor
and myself, both members of the Fort Lauderdale Coin Club,
have been since the first of the year taking our exercise at a
local flea market on "free" day, when the garage sale people
We started writing the stories of these trips for the Newsletter
of the FLCC in January 2003. A few months ago I still had
all the stories on my computer, and since I am recently retired,
had lots of time. I already had a Fort Lauderdale Coin Club
page as part of my site. So it seemed natural to rewrite the
stories in HTML and post them with color images to the
Since from the first trip, we had started calling ourselves -
Mutt and Jeff, the pages were called the Adventures of Mutt
and Jeff. What, you can see with the following link, is the rest
of the story, as Paul Harvey would say.
As time went on I got a little more colorful with the page
designs. Some of the more recent finds of medals have taken
quite a lot of research which I very much enjoy.
It is interesting you mentioned the demise of CD's, DVD, &
VCR storage in the next few years. The prediction is that
on-line storage has become so inexpensive, everything will be
saved electronically. I still like my numismatic library of over
1000 volumes, but their storage gets to be a problem and will
have to pass them on to others soon. Just as an aside, my
600 page e-book does not sell much (2 copies on ebay, one
recently to another collector of the series. He is the second
small silver coin collector, I know of, after a local spat two
years ago.) No one ever wanted to publish on paper - too
I very much like reading your newsletter each week. Keep
up the great job."
[I believe the article on the demise of CDs etc. referred to
those particular formats only. Digitized content of one form
or another seems to be with us for good. Some interesting
items are discussed on the Mutt & Jeff pages. -Editor]
EXHIBITS & SPEAKERS SOUGHT FOR 2004 ANA
The 2004 ANA convention (also called the World's Fair of
Money) will be held in Pittsburgh, PA next August 18-22.
It's not too soon to be thinking about setting up an exhibit or
speaking at the Numismatic Theatre. E-Sylum readers have
some interesting collections and lots of knowledge - I hope
many of you will "strut your stuff" at the convention. The
ANA web site has all the required information and application
forms. Go to:
Numismatic Theatre proposal:
Remember, the Aaron Feldman Memorial award for
exhibits in Class 22 - Numismatic literature was funded
by the Numismatic Bibliomania Society. The category
covers "Printed and manuscript (published or unpublished)
literature dealing with any numismatic subject." Only one
exhibit was entered in the category in Baltimore in 2003.
Let's not let the same thing happen in 2004. Plan now to
exhibit some of your great numismatic literature. I will offer
to assist exhibitors, if necessary, to set up or tear down a
literature exhibit if their travel plans make it difficult to
exhibit without such assistance.
I spoke to ANA Education Director Gail Baker earlier
this week, and some applications for Numismatic Theatre
have already arrived at headquarters. Don't just sit in the
audience this year - participate! We'd love to hear what
you have to say about your numismatic specialty.
WOODIN PAPERS SOUGHT
Alison Frankel writes: "I noticed a reference to a William
Woodin letter in the most recent E-Sylum, and wondered if
you'd post a request for information about Woodin's papers
on the site. I'm writing a book about the 1933 Double Eagle,
and plan to devote a chapter to Woodin, about him as an
influential collector and as the Treasury Secretary during the
100 Days. Unfortunately, the FDR Library tells me they have
no idea where Woodin's papers are housed. I'm hoping one
of your readers might have a clue for me."
1910 PATTERN CORRESPONDENCE
George Kolbe writes: "Regarding Roger Burdett's request,
there is a file in the John J. Ford, Jr. library concerning this
1910 pattern litigation, including John W. Haseltine's original
affidavit, and much, much more. These materials will be
offered in the June 1, 2004 sale of the Ford library.
Regrettably, the items in the file are not available for research.
Like many other items in the Ford library, we will not be able
to share information contained in them with researchers since,
to do so, may dilute their desirability. This is not an easy
decision for us to make but I hope our researcher friends will
understand that the decision to share "unique" information
contained in certain Ford lots rightly belongs to those who
NUMISMATIC TERM OF THE WEEK: 'LIST MEDAL'
Dick Johnson writes: "Your quotation of Chief Engraver
Gilroy Roberts in his phone conversations with Director of
the Mint Eva Adams in regards to selecting Kennedys portrait
for the half dollar in last weeks E-Sylum included the term
list medal. In my research I have learned that mint officials
and numismatists had used the term list medal for those
medals struck by the Philadelphia Mint and offered for sale
to the public for virtually the entire 20th century.
I tried to trace the term back into the 19th century without
much luck, however. A few U.S. branch mints struck medals
for their opening (and some recent minimedals), but all U.S.
government medals are struck by the Philadelphia Mint. All
these medals are National Medals (a term defined in the
U.S. Code really making it official). But not all National
Medals are List Medals -- not all were offered for sale to
Of the 573 (National) medals listed by Bob Julian in his
monumental book, Medals of the United States Mint, The
First Century, 1792-1892, only 123 are List Medals.
[Nota bene: I constantly admire this book and Julians effort
I rank it second only to Breens Encyclopedia of Colonial
and U.S. Coins as the most well-researched and important
American numismatic books ever!]
Some of these mint medals were award medals, as you might
expect. However, some of these National Medals were also
Private Medals. We believe the first medals struck by the
fledgling Philadelphia Mint in 1792 was for Ricketts Circus;
this was a private medal. The Philadelphia Mint struck school
medals, expo medals and even a wedding medal. These
were Private Medals not List Medals. [Reason for these
was that the equipment for striking large medals did not
exist in America outside the mint. Such medals had to be
struck at the Philadelphia Mint, or in Europe.]
Washington medals struck by the Philadelphia Mint began
selling prior to the Civil War, with Lincoln medals shortly after.
Thus the mint began offering medals for sale to the public with
a little more push. Thus the concept of list medals may exist
back to 1861 [Julian concurs]. But the term is derived from
offering these medals for sale from a List.
I obtained my first U.S. Mint Medal Lists after World War II
when I started buying proof sets from the mint and asked
what else they had for sale. These were mimeographed sheets
of short size (not 8 ½ x 11, but a half-inch shorter both ways
this size saved the government money isnt that a hoot?).
I have lost these sheets over the years (as probably most
everyone else because of their ephemeral nature).
However, I would like to ask E-Sylum readers to search their
files for any of these U.S. Mint sheets offering List Medals for
sale. I would like to learn of the earliest. Does such a 19th
century list exist? (You can date them by the last presidential
medal offered.) How did the Mint publicize these offerings
back as far as the 1860s?"
ANOTHER BIBLIO-COUP FOR AMAZON
Asylum editor Tom Fort writes: "I thought the following
article in The Independent might be of interest to readers:
[The article describes the latest milestone in Amazon.com's
quest to expand their book search capabilities This deal doesn't
seem to expand the searching of text WITHIN books, but it
may make more titles available. Here are some excerpts
from the article. -Editor]
"The online retailer Amazon has stormed the fusty world of
antiquarian booksellers by acquiring the rights to the British
Library's unique back catalogue, dragging the buying and
selling of rare and out-of-print books into the dotcom age."
"The deal gives Amazon the right to use the British Library's
bibliographic catalogue, which contains 2.55 million books.
Crucially it includes 1.7 million produced before the
introduction in 1970 of the International Standard Book
Number (ISBN), a 10-character code that uniquely identifies
any modern book.
Amazon will open a new online market where buyers and
sellers can strike deals for some of the world's most expensive
literary creations. Robert Frew, vice-president of the
Antiquarian Book Association, whose members' stomping
ground include the bookshops of Charing Cross Road and
Great Russell Street in central London, said the news would
almost certainly mean greater pressure on those with real
A COLLEGIATE BIBLIOMANIAC
ANA Education Director Gail Baker writes: "I thought you
and the E-Sylum readers might enjoy the attached article.
I'm running it in Your Newsletter, an email publication for
young numismatists, but if you are interested, Amanda said
you could put it in The E-Sylum also."
[Amanda is "a proud Seminole at Florida State University."
She has good taste in books, leading off her list with
one of my own all-time favorites. Here's her article. -Editor]
My Selected Books
By Amanda Rondot
I have a confession to make. For the last several years, I have
slowly but surely been turning into a numismatic bibliomaniac.
Each year, my library grows by inch after inch of shelf space.
Why, this summer alone it grew by over a third of a foot! Now,
while it is wonderful to own so many books, I had to pack my
belongings to move away to college for the very first time in
August. Since dorm rooms are not known for being overly
spacious, I could not bring much of my library along with me.
What a conundrum! Consequently, I had to pause and think
long and hard about which selected books would move with
me. Though it pained me to leave so many behind, these are
the seven I finally chose after great deliberation, presented in
First, Fractional Money by Neil Carothers was a must-have
for me. This book explains the United States monetary system
in its economic context, making changes in series and
denominations easy to understand. Since it was written by an
economist, it provides a different view on coinage and focuses
on other information than that given by traditional numismatic
authors. However, it is still comprehensible and interesting to
Coinage Laws of the United States, 1792-1894, reprinted by
Bowers and Merena Galleries in 1990, gives the full text of laws
regulating the coinage (as its name suggests). Reading an entire
act instead of just isolated portions out of context is helpful in
understanding the intent of the legislators. While not designed
to be read through in its entirety like a story, this book is good
for looking up specific pieces of information.
Next, Coins and Collectors by Q. David Bowers tells the tale
of the development of American numismatics. This book
discusses my favorite part of the hobby, the people who formed
the numismatic community, from its beginning in the 1800s until
the 1960s, when this book was written. It is well illustrated
with reproductions of early numismatic advertisements and
pictures of coins.
Official ANA Grading Standards for United States Coins is
helpful not only for those of us who doubt our grading abilities
and wish to improve them, but also for all coin collectors.
Since few people are familiar with the grading standards for
series outside their collecting specialties, this book is good for
acquainting oneself with a new series before buying unfamiliar
coins. I find it to be an especially useful study guide when I
am acquiring type coins for my collection.
What library would be complete without a copy of A Guide
Book of United States Coins? The standard yearly price guide
for U.S. coins, it contains numerous facts and figures explaining
general information and the specifications for each series. The
Red Book is extremely useful for showing my non-collecting
friends, who are only familiar with the presently circulating
coins, what the countrys coinage looked like in the past.
Coin World Almanac by the Staff of Coin World is a great
general reference, touching on a little of everything. This book
does a particularly good job of discussing modern affairs. In
addition to the standard written format, it contains a plethora
of information listed in convenient tables (for example: paper
money series-denominations-signatures), making information
easy to find when I am not sure what I am looking for.
Consequently, it is one of my most frequently reached for
Finally, Q. David Bowers United States Coinage as
Illustrated by the Garrett Collection was my final choice to
come to my new home-away-from-home. My reading material
for the drive down, this book has wonderful color plates (and
black and white ones) on glossy paper, corresponding to the
descriptions carefully presented in the text. As do all books
by Bowers, this work incorporates historical background into
the numismatic discussions. It contains many excerpts from
letters between early important numismatic personages,
transporting the reader to the collecting scene as it was many
All in all, I am happy with my selections. The only book I
greatly regret not bringing is my copy of Bowers A California
Gold Rush History, Featuring the Treasure from the S.S.
Central America, my pride and joy. However, after debating
until the very last minute before I climbed in the car to leave
(literally! Ask my mom!), I stuck with my painful decision to
leave it behind; it was just too big to take along. Currently, it
is eagerly awaiting me at home, when I can spend several
weeks of Christmas vacation once again lovingly caressing its
pages, reunited with it and all my other long lost books.
FINDING LOST PAGES ON GOOGLE
Alan Luedeking writes: "Regarding the concern over broken
internet links mentioned in the last E-Sylum, here's a little
search tip I've found greatly useful: When searching on
Google for instance, if a search result links to a dead page,
try the "cached" link instead. This will always bring up the
page that existed at the time the link posted into Google's
URBAN LEGEND, RIGHT?
Alan continues: "I also enjoyed your piece about the
Florida bank and the "motherstickers"... if the scene of
this incident is in Miami (as is most likely!) I'd be happy
to check out if the plaque is indeed there..."
Tom DeLorey writes: "Well, I first heard a version of this
joke about 25 years ago........"
Ron Haller-Williams writes: "I think I can "prove" that it
is an urban legend:
If e.g. you try a GOOGLE search for the PAIR of
expressions "mother-stickers" and "darwin awards", you
will find about 569 entries. Or, with "award" in the
singular, about 73 entries. Discounting duplicates, this
leaves us with over 300 sites claiming that the robber
won an "official Darwin award".
However, there is NO TRACE of the story on the
Official Darwin Awards site at http://www.darwinawards.com/
Moreover, neither the robber nor anybody else in the story
would qualify for such an award. The thing is, there are
three criteria, all of which must be met:
1. Great stupidity is called for. (No problem so far!)
2. The whole point of the Awards is related to Darwin's
Theory of Evolution. The perpetrator is required
(inadvertently!) either to die or at least to render
himself or herself incapable of reproduction:
"Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve
our gene pool by removing themselves from it."
(Failure on this point might still lead to an "honourable
3. The story must be true. Attempts ARE made to verify,
and it is not unheard of for an award to be withdrawn
or canceled, in which case the story would remain on
the site, with additional notes, such as the one at
Surely a lot of the Bank's customers would be upset at the
plaque's wording. And, no matter how good a story, this
would not be good business! If enough people were to get
upset over something like this, and therefore switch to some
other bank, maybe such an event should be commemorated
by the creation of a "banking Darwin" award? ;-)"
Myron Xenos sends this link to test E-Sylum readers'
No cheating. Look at the 12 cents on this page. No getting
any real cents to use as a guide prior to doing this. Move
your mouse over the one you think is the real U.S. cent, and
click. How did you do?
WOULD HAVE MADE FOR A FUN THANKSGIVING DINNER
From a November 25th Reuters report:
"Texas police say they made the state's largest seizure of cash
during a traffic stop when troopers pulled over a truck hauling
frozen dinner rolls -- and found $5.3 million in bills sealed in
FEATURED WEB SITE
This week's featured web site is recommended by Dick
Johnson. He writes: "There is a new website in the numismatic
field: www.medalcollectors.org." From the web site:
"Medal Collectors of America (MCA) was founded in
August 1998 at the Portland, Oregon, convention of the
American Numismatic Association (ANA). Its primary
purpose was to serve COLLECTORS of world and U.S. art
and historical medals. MCA would bring together those
interested in collecting, research and publication of research
concerning art and historical medals."
[The site could eventually become quite a trove of information
on medals, if the Collector's Guide section of the site continues
to grow. The first entry in this section is a detailed list of the
Society of Medallists issues, with illustrations of each medal.
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 W. David Perkins, NBS Secretary-Treasurer,
P.O. Box 212, Mequon, WI 53092-0212.
For Asylum mailing address changes and other
membership questions, contact David at this email
address: wdperki at attglobal.net
To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum,
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