The E-Sylum v7#21, May 23, 2004
whomren at coinlibrary.com
whomren at coinlibrary.com
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
REMEMBERING ROB RETZ
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
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 .
ASYLUM ON THE STREETS
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."
LAKE BOOKS SALE 74 CLOSING SOON
Fred Lake writes: "This is a reminder that our sale #74
closes in one week on Tuesday, May 25, 2004 at 5:00
You may view the sale at
Bids may be submitted by email, fax, or telephone in
addition to regular mail."
BREEN MANA JOURNAL EDITOR TENURE SOUGHT
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!"
ANS LIBRARY MOVE STATUS REPORT
[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."
JOHN J. FORD, JR. READING 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:
"THE JOHN J. FORD, JR. READING ROOM."
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."
2004 NLG WRITER'S COMPETITION
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: http://www.numismaticliteraryguild.org.
WHERE IS SHERLOCK WHEN YOU NEED HIM?
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
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]
MARK HOFMANN BOOKS
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"."
LARSON FORGERY BOOK
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 www.coinsmith.com 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., n.pub., 1995. 295p.
COINS--COUNTERFEITS & COUNTERFEITING"
[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]
1863 YALE NUMISMATIC COLLECTION CATALOG
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.
Collections United States Connecticut New Haven Yale
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.
[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]."
S. E. COE CENSUS INFORMATION
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
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]"
HARASZTHY AT THE MINT AVAILABLE
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
Dawsons 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
"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."
SO WHERE'S MY $25 MILLION?
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:
FEATURED WEB SITE
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
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,
just Reply to this message, or write to the Editor
at this address: whomren at coinlibrary.com
(To be removed from the E-Sylum mailing list
send an email message with the word "Unsubscribe"
in the body of the message to: esylum-request at binhost.com)
More information about the Esylum