The E-Sylum v7#21, May 23, 2004

whomren at whomren at
Sun May 23 21:04:22 PDT 2004

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 7, Number 21, May 23, 2004:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2004, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


   Among recent new subscribers are NBS member Jeff
   Reichenberger, Bob Hawes, courtesy of Ron Benice,
   and Ed Reiter.  Welcome aboard!  We now have 664


   On Tuesday, Larry Gaye wrote: "Rob Retz passed away last
   evening at about 6:30 pm.  He was with his wife Margaret,
   daughters Nikki and Angela and other members of his family
   at home where he passed away in his sleep.  I know you will
   all share in the loss and be joyful of his time with us.  I have
   known Rob since 1982 and my life is much richer because of
   him, I will miss him and he will be missed by a lot of folks."

   Later, Rob submitted the following bio: "Rob Retz of Portland,
   Oregon was an avid numismatist and collector of numismatic
   material. He was a member of Early American Copper Society
   (EAC) and Colonial Coin Collectors Club (C4) together with
   other local and regional clubs.

   He sold by private treaty a complete Connecticut copper
   collection and was assembling a spectacular Fugio collection as
   the seed for a book he was writing, Fugios were his true love.
   The book will be completed by several folks. I always knew if
   I had a question on Colonial or Pre-Federal coinage he was the
   go-to guy.

   Rob knew colonial and pre-Federal coinage like the back of
   his hand.  He worked with many folks in the hobby to research
   these areas including but not limited to Eric Newman.  He was
   a collector of stories as well and could go on for hours about
   historical numismatic sales and personages. To listen to his
   stories about Walter Breen and others was a joy.

   Most of all, he was a friend to a lot of folks inside and out of
   the numismatic community. His knowledge and wit will be

   Rob will be buried on May 26, the service will be held at
   St. Charles Boromeo Church in Portland at 7:00 pm .


   The latest issue of our print journal, The Asylum has
   been hitting member mailboxes.  Bill Murray writes: "As
   usual The Asylum makes for wonderful reading.  My faulty
   memory does recall some of what I read in Out on a Limb
   some years ago, and appreciate the updating provided.
   Speaking of Out on a Limb, for those of you unfortunate
   enough not to have ever seen that House Organ published
   by Ken Lowe and Myron Xenos, it was interesting and
   always fun to read."


   Fred Lake writes: "This is a reminder that our sale #74
   closes in one week on Tuesday, May 25, 2004 at 5:00
   PM EDT.

   You may view the sale at

   Bids may be submitted by email, fax, or telephone in
   addition to regular mail."


   David F. Fanning writes: "Here's another question for The
   E-Sylum:  Does anyone know when Walter Breen served as
   editor of MANA News? That's the journal of the Middle
   Atlantic Numismatic Association. Thanks!"


   [Last week's email glitch prevented the following submission
   from begin published until today.  This is a first of a two-
   part article.  -Editor]

   Dick Johnson writes: "On the occasion of the COAC
   Conference Saturday, May 15, 2004, at the American
   Numismatic Society's new building I asked for, and received,
   permission to view the Library.  I found librarian Francis
   Campbell -- “Frank” to everyone! -- surrounded by hundreds
   of boxes of books, perhaps five or six hundred still to be
   opened and contents placed on shelves.

   Yet there were thousands of books already on shelves.
   “How many boxes did it take to move all these books?”
    I asked. “Approximately four thousand” Frank said. Any
    part of the library still at the old building?  No.

   The library occupies two floors, five and six, of the Society's
   building at 140 William Street in deep lower Manhattan. The
   library is named for its most consistent supporter, it is now
   known as the Harry Bass Jr. Library, and the bronze plaque
   with relief portrait is already installed, visible immediately as
   you step off the elevator.

   Harry Bass was honored for his more than $4,000,000
   generosity to the library, while he was on the Society's council,
   as president, and until his death in April 1998. His influence will
   be felt well into future years, particularly for funding the library
   database (like he funded the periodical NIP database). Access
   to this began in 1997, where the online catalog contains the
   library's full holdings. See:

   As I stepped into library on the fifth floor I have entered the
   John J. Ford Jr. Reading Room.  This thanks to the generosity
   of the Ford family.  The dedication ceremony of this Ford
   Reading Room was held two days earlier, May 13th. After
   weeks of work the first books brought into this room had filled
   many of the shelves in time for the ceremony.

   The shelving is the first thing you notice as you enter this room.
   The lighting is the second. Both are brand new, and both more
   than adequate. Good choices by the planners. The library
   retains the use of movable shelving, like in the old building up
   at Audubon Terrace. Movable shelving can accommodate
   about one-third more shelf space than fixed shelving,
   according to Frank.

   Rows of shelves occupy both sides as you enter the room.
   One fixed shelf is on the left of a row of seven movable shelves.
   With an easy twist of the black-armed controls one entire shelf
   unit – or the entire row of seven! – can move easily and
   noiselessly along the tracks in the floor. In two seconds
   thousands of pounds of books are shifted for easy entrance to
   the desired shelf.  With adequate overhead lighting the titles of
   books, even on the bottom shelf, are easily seen.

   Unlike the old library, Frank pointed out, all pamphlets and
   auction catalogs are on open shelves.   These used to be in
   rows of black filing cabinets if you remember those. Now these
   unbound gems are still in the well-marked file folders but now
   reside in six-inch wide plastic trays on open shelves. This
   section of the library is in the far left corner.

   Frank's office is adjacent to this. He pointed with peevish pride
   to the window in his office that he can keep an eye on these
   pamphlet shelves. What used to be called by the library term
   “vertical files” now occupy six shelf units each 40" wide (the
   end one is 36") with six shelves high. Perhaps 140 shelf feet of
   these pamphlet files with an equal number on the opposite side
   of that shelving row.

   The end results, after more than four years of planning, exhibit
   this effort was well worthwhile.  The floor layout of offices and
   shelving location are ideal. But the planning included even the
   box labeling. Each box was identified with codes as to the floor,
   the “origination” – where it came from – and the destination,
   where to put it.  “F5" was the code for the fifth floor.

   On this floor are all the numismatic books. The journals and
   nonnumismatic books are destined for the sixth floor. New
   technology is influencing some of shelf locations as well. A
   cabinet just outside Frank's office will contain audio-visual
   items, cassettes, CDs, videos and microfilm.    Readers for
   each of these are planned to be nearby.

   Overhead will be cameras for security, Frank noted.

   Perspiration was pouring off his brow as we talked.  He had
   been working six days a week to effect this move and
   restocking the shelves. The move had commenced in March.

   “How many books does the library have?” I asked.  “We are
   still using the figure 100,000,”   Frank said. And then with a big
   smile, “Maybe in the future someday we will count every one!”

   Next week: The sixth floor and the Rare Book Room."


   Peter Koch writes: "I had the distinct pleasure of attending the
   John J. Ford, Jr. Reading Room Dedication the evening of
   May 13th at the American Numismatic Society's new home
   at 140 William Street located in New York City's historically
   rich Lower Manhattan.

   Everything about the balmy spring evening was a pleasure.

   A generous spread of food and beverage was laid out for all
   to enjoy-judging by the paltry remains, enjoy we did.

   Following welcoming and speaker remarks and a warm,
   eloquent presentation by Ford family members everyone was
   invited to ride to an upper-level floor. As elevator doors open
   you're greeted by a wall-mounted bronze plaque denoting
   the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Library. Large double doors open to
   an impressive space. Entering this handsome room, which
   essentially occupies the entire floor, the eye immediately
   catches straight ahead high on a far facing wall, the exquisitely
   executed dimensional serif letters in all caps on two lines:

   Everything's new. Oak tables down the wide center aisle are
   flanked by tall fixed bookcases to the left and matching
   "Spacesaver" bookcases that glide effortlessly on flush-mounted
   floor rails to the right. The fit and finish, right down to the
   architectural oak trim and molding is superb.

   I'm told this is the most finished floor in the building.
   Renovations to other floors continue apace.

   You are some five/six floors above the street and sidewalk
   din below. Within this environment, from the state-of-the-art
   ceiling lighting to the carpeting, you are secure, comfortable
   and inspired to research. John can be mightily proud.

   Visitors were well prepared to record the occasion. Caught
   by the moment, cameras seemed to pop-out from everywhere.
   ANS Board members and others demonstrated a saintly
   patience. In particular the Ford family could not have been
   more gracious in holding for "just one more" attractive group

   This is a grand building--with huge potential! The world
   famous Financial District of Lower Manhattan is a tireless,
   energetic hub of activity on any given day. The volume of
   pedestrian traffic is premium. New York City remains high
   on the priority list for international travelers. Consider the
   renewed initiatives to expose numismatics to a wider audience.
   Fully operational, 140 William Street will be a valuable
   world-class resource for members and visitors from

   ANS has positioned itself well for the future."


   Ed Reiter writes: "The new issue of the Numismatic Literary
   Guild Newsletter is just going in the mail, and members should
   receive it within the next few days. This issue will be of particular

   interest to many members because it contains complete rules
   for our 2004 Writers' Competition. Those rules are already
   posted on our Web site -- and it occurred to me that since
   there is considerable overlap between our membership and
   your subscriber list, it might be a good idea to post an item on
   The E-sylum alerting those members to the online availability
   of the rules. That might give them a little extra time to prepare
   their entries. All entries must be received by June 21, so time
   is obviously of the essence."

   [The NLG is a separate organization from NBS, but as Ed
   notes, there is a lot of overlap in our organizations.  For more
   information on NLG and the Writer's contest, see their web
   site at:


   This week Reuters reported that: "A collection of long-lost
   papers giving a rare glimpse into the private life of Sherlock
   Holmes' creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was sold at auction
   in London for almost $1.7 million Wednesday.

   The sale took place against the against the backdrop of the
   bizarre death of a leading Holmes expert, who had opposed
   the sale and was found strangled two months ago."

   "Correspondence with Winston Churchill, Oscar Wilde and
   Theodore Roosevelt were also included in the sale.

   "Richard Lancelyn Green, a former chairman of the Sherlock
   Holmes Society and vociferous opponent of the sale, was
   found garroted with a shoelace in his London home two
   months ago.

   Lancelyn Green had become increasingly agitated and worried
   for his safety in the days before he died, an inquest into his
   death heard. The coroner in the case recorded an open verdict,
   meaning he did not conclude how the scholar died."

   To read the full story, see:

   [Several Sherlock Holmes stories have numismatic connections,
   which we're discussed before in The E-Sylum.  -Editor]


   In response to last week's mention of master counterfeiter
   Mark Hofmann, Ed Snible writes: "Hofmann was the subject
   of at least three books: "Salamander: The Story of the Mormon
   Forgery Murders";  "A Gathering of Saints: The True Story
   of Money, Murder, and Deceit"; and "The Mormon Murders"."


   Regarding the new book based on interviews with Hofmann,
   Becky Elizondo writes: "I read with interest the May 16, 2004
   issue regarding the soon to be published book by Chuck Larson.
   I don't know if he's written something new, but the following has
   been in the ANA library for some time. Mr. Larson used to have
   a website at and had the book for sale. I
   don't know if the site is still active. [It's not - Editor]

   Here is the ANA library listing.

   Larson, Charles Martin
   Numismatic forgery, an illustrated, annotated guide to the
   practical principles, methods, and techniques employed in the
   private manufacture of rare coins.

   N.p.,, 1995. 295p.

   [So it appears this manuscript has been floating around
   for a while.  This week I learned that copies of the Larson
   manuscript were viewed at one or more sessions of the
   American Numismatic Association's Summer Seminar
   Counterfeit Detection class.  This is apparently where the
   "already being used as a teaching aid for rare-coin collectors"
   blurb comes from.

   The book was advertised in a weekly coin publication
   last week, and I ordered and have already received my
   copy.  Rather than focusing on how to DETECT forgeries,
   the book appears to be a step-by-step instruction manual
   for MAKING forgeries, a very dangerous thing to put in
   the hands of the general public.  Although the ads for the
   book have already let the cat out of the bag, I won't
   publish any more details.  One person familiar with the
   manuscript called it "a how-to manual for every counterfeiter,
   forger and con artist out there who is lacking tools,
   techniques or tips in his quest to defraud the public. It is a
   complete course in coin (not paper) counterfeiting.
   Step-by-step, Counterfeiting for Dummies."

   My sources note that once ANA summer seminar
   staff realized how explicit and technical the book was in its
   descriptions, it was pulled from usage.  But if the ANA has
   decided to not promote the book, it's not doing a very good
   job - an ad for the book appears in the June issue of
   Numismatist, and as Becky pointed out, a manuscript (or at
   least an early draft of it) is listed in the library catalog and is
   presumably available to any member wishing to borrow it.

   Others will undoubtedly debate the merit of publishing and
   promoting this book, and good arguments can be made on
   either side of the issue.   The book itself is at once both
   fascinating and frightening.  As a bibliophile I just had to
   have a copy to read, but I hope it's no best-seller. -Editor]


   Regarding my question about the existence of the 1863 Yale
   coin collection catalogue, Bob Leonard writes: "A quick check
   of the ANS Library catalog revealed the following holding:

   Main Author:   Champion, Henry.
   Title:   Catalogue of the cabinet of coins belonging to Yale
   College, deposited in the college library.
   Publication Info:   New Haven, 1863.
   Extent:   47 p. ; 23 cm.
   Subject Info:
   Collections United States Connecticut New Haven Yale
   Year: 1863"

   William E. Metcalf, Curator of Coins and Medals, Yale
   University Art Gallery writes: "You asked about the
   bibliography concerning the Yale collection:

   ----, Catalogue of the Cabinet of Coins belonging to Yale
   College deposited in the College Library. New Haven:
   Tuttle, Morehousse & Taylor Printers, 1863. 48pp.
   [2,402 coins]

   [Fisk P. Brewer], Catalogue of Ancient Coins Added to
   the Yale College Collection Aug. 1863-Feb. 1865,
   duplicates, indeterminates, and false coins excepted.
   n.d. n.p., 4pp. [122 coins]

   Jonathan Edwards, M.D. Catalogue of the Greek and
   Roman Coins in the Numismatic Collection of Yale
   College. New Haven: Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor Printers,
   1880. 23pp. [3,328 coins]."


   Karl Kabelac writes: "In the May 9th issue Saul Teichman
   forwarded a request from a Richard Frajola asking about a
   S. E. Coe of Mohawk NY in the 1860s.

   Through my local public library I have access to a genealogy
   database that has most of the censuses on it.  Here is a brief

   1860 census :Samuel E. Coe, 32, merchant, value of personal
            estate $10,000
   1870 census :Samuel E. Coe, 43, jewelry store, value of real
           estate $8,500; value of personal estate $6,000
   1880 census: not yet on this database
   1890 census: [records were destroyed in a fire decades ago]
   1900 census: S. E. Coe, 72 (born July 1827), insurance agent
   1910 census: Samuel E. Coe, 82, insurance agent
   1920 census: no longer found in Herkimer County census
            [assume has died]"


   Regarding our mention of the “Haraszthy at the Mint”
   book, David Sundman writes that: "the publisher still has
   copies.  We ordered and received a copy  from
   Dawson’s Book Shop. The total cost was $33.00."


   The quote from eBay ("We're seeing today that kids are
  more educated about collecting,") inspired William Bishoff
  to write:

   "Too bad one can't say the same about the consortia that
   create blockbuster movies like TROY,  which I endured
   this weekend.  To stick only to the numismatic solecisms,
   dead heroes of ca. 1200 BC are repeatedly shown being
   prepared for cremation by the placement of high-relief
   silver coins on their eyelids--about 800 years too early.
    A.O. Scott said in his recent "New  York Times" review
   that the film "labors to respect the strangeness and
   grandeur of its classical sources."  The man doing this
   review doesn't know the classical sources or he wouldn't
   write such garbage.  To stray for a moment from the
   numismatic realm, the foolish inventions include the killing
   of Ajax by Hector; a fatuously uxorous Achilles (Patroclus
   is just a "cousin" he enjoys teaching swordplay to: no hint
   of homoerotic passion that might explain Achilles's later
   rage); a captive female Breisis who loves Achilles
   [first female besides his mother ever rumored  to love that
   particular killer] for giving her a chance to wash up and eat
   something (Achilles is even portrayed as entering Troy
   inside the Trojan Horse in order to rescue Breisis); and the
   killing of Agamenmon by the louche bowman Paris--leaving
   Clytemestra back home in Argos to enjoy the questionable
   charms of Aegisthus--and cheating her of the sanguine
   revengue described in Aescylus's "Agamemnon."

   But don't miss those coins on the eyelids.  They're even better
   than Classical coins (nice that the dead get tetradrachms, one
   for each eye, instead of a mere obol on the tongue, to pay
   Charon for the trip over the River Styx).  This is truly a "Styx"
   movie, its enormous cost included. Its popularity attests to the
   fact that education--as opposed to career training--hardly
   exists in this country."


   Last week's "News of the Weird" column featured a story
   about a fake U.S. treasury check:

   "In April, Luftee Abdul Waalee, 48, was sentenced to three
   years in prison for trying to pass a fake U.S. Treasury check
   for $25 million at a credit union in Pittsburgh. According to the
   prosecutor, Waalee is a member of the "Moors" black
   separatist group that supposedly believes that each American
   is endowed with a secret government account worth around
   $600,000, based on a theory that when the U.S. went off the
   gold standard in 1933, it began backing its currency not with a
   precious metal but with the prospective labor of its citizens.
   (Because the Moors are smarter than everyone else, only they
   know about these secret accounts and can thus buy and sell

   To read the full stories, see:


   This week's featured web site is Tony Clayton's
   picture galley of the coin of the United Kingdom.
   "More pictures have been added, including those
   of the unique circulation issue 1952 halfcrown,
   and what is believed to be a unique 1953 penny
   with the reverse having a toothed border as for
   George VI pennies rather than the usual beaded

  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 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

  To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum,
  just Reply to this message, or write to the Editor
  at this address: whomren at

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