The E-Sylum v8#52, December 11, 2005
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Sun Dec 11 19:38:21 PST 2005
Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 8, Number 52, December 11, 2005:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2005, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Among our recent subscribers are Alfonso Alos Vall and
Paul Joseph. Welcome aboard! We now have 825 subscribers.
This week we have some more discussion on library care &
organization, and suggested listings for a bibliography
on U.S. commemorative coinage. Under research requests,
readers are seeking information on a reprint of the Maris
New Jersey plate and biographies of Colonial paper money
signers. In the paper money world, there may be a backlash
growing against the "Where's George" web site, and the
Swiss are in an uproar over proposed new designs. Our
biggest discussion, however, revolves around "The Liberty
Quiz question: How many dollar signs are there on a
U.S. one-dollar bill? Read on to find out...
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
FORMER ANA LIBRARIAN WILLIAM DEWEY HOSPITALIZED
David Gladfelter writes: "William S. Dewey, numismatic
writer, former ANA librarian and a Krause Numismatic
Ambassador in 1987, was taken to Valley Hospital in New
Jersey on December 6, the day after his 100th birthday.
He is in critical condition with multiple problems. He
celebrated his birthday early (on Thanksgiving weekend)
at the home of his granddaughter Jinny (and John) in
Wyckoff. His children are hopeful that he will beat the
odds and be able to enjoy his 100th Christmas soon. In
his Christmas card he wrote: "It's a privilege to be a
century old, and I feel especially grateful to have been
able to fulfill my dream of writing two books on the
history of the pinelands and many articles on Admiral
Dewey that were published during my retirement years.
I'm grateful too, for my wonderful family and friends
-- you all mean so much to me." Let's pull for him."
NEW PENNY-WISE FORMAT
The times they are a-changin'. This month members of
Early American Coppers, Inc. were greeted with a made-over
format for their journal, Penny-Wise. The "old" Penny-Wise
was delivered to members in loose-leaf format. Many members
filed these in three-ring binders or saved them to be bound.
The new Penny-Wise format is more traditional, bound with
a glossy white cover, similar to our print journal, The
Asylum (but in the larger 8 1/2" x 11" size). EAC members
commented favorably in the club's Region 8 email newsletter
last week. Great job! The following are two selected quotes:
Red Henry writes: "Just got back into town, and found the
new and improved PW in the mailbox: glossy pages with clear
printing, plus greatly improved coin images-- extremely
important, I think-- and the issue holds itself together!
No more 3-hole punching here every month, and no more
additional loose-leaf notebooks on my shelves each year
(talk about 1940s technology). PW's printed format has
finally caught up with the content, which has always been
high-grade. Congratulations to Harry Salyards, Bill Eckberg,
and everyone else who had a hand in the changeover!"
Barry Kurian writes: "Harry & Bill, congratulations on
taking P-W to a new level. It's stunning, very professional
looking, and does a beautiful job of representing EAC."
NUMISMATIC LIBRARY CARE & ORGANIZATION
Paul DiMarzio writes: "Since you've resurrected the
topic of library care, I wonder if you might also
consider bringing up the topic of library organization?
The library that I am building is not so much a collection
as it is a resource for me to do research in the areas
of Roman Imperial coinage and British hammered coinage.
For example I recently purchased a couple of very tattered
volumes of RIC, worthless as a collectible but invaluable
for the information contained within.
I have added to my library significantly over the past
year and have found in a few instances that I had relevant
material on my shelves that I forgot was there when doing
the work! This is especially true of journals, periodicals,
pamphlets, etc. Since I'm still pretty new at this I'd
love to hear some tips from members who have large working
libraries, both as to how the material is organized on
the shelves as well as how to better index what is actually
contained in the volumes. Thanks!"
[One suggestion I'd make is to look at Tom Fort's catalogue
of his personal reference library. A copy is available
on the NBS web site. Tom put a lot of time into indexing
the articles of interest to him in his periodicals, and
this makes it very easy for him to relocate them when
needed for research. http://coinbooks.org/fortlibrary/
Pete Smith writes: "This week's E-Sylum has a question
about preserving items in a numismatic library. I recall
in the past someone wrote a book on "Building, Maintaining
and Disposing of a Numismatic Library." I am sure some
information is out of date. However, the book might be
useful for some readers. Perhaps some E-Sylum reader
recalls the author and can suggest where to obtain a copy
of this book."
Jim McNerney writes: "I found this on The Canadian Coin
[The link is to a 1996 Bibliography of Standards and
Selected References Related to Preservation in Libraries.
KOLBE ON BOOKPLATES
Roger Siboni writes: "I have begun to contemplate the idea
of using some sort of Book Plate, stamp or embossing for
my ever expanding Library. I would appreciate some advice
from our members regarding the appropriateness of this idea
and what is the most archivally correct approach. In other
words, is this just an old custom that in the end does more
harm than good to the book. Or if appropriate, is embossing,
a label or a plate the way to go? Perhaps it depends on
I would also be curious as to approaches for library
identification. Ford went with a simple JF. I have also
seen some pretty elaborate labels and embossing.
Finally, is there a source for obtaining such material
that would be more archivally correct than say a local
[Simple is good - I like the modest Ford JF bookplate.
In the March 25, 2001 issue of The E-Sylum (v4n13)
George Kolbe addressed the issue of what type of glue
to use on bookplates:
"Wheat paste is what I used to apply the Bass bookplates,
and it is what I use for my own ex libris (es). It was
a gift years ago from a friend who is also a commercial
bookbinder (I still have a little left - I keep it
refrigerated). Reversible and non-reactive are the reasons,
I believe, why it is preferred, though there may be better
modern products. It used to be available from TALAS,
though my bookbinder friend makes his own from the
supermarket variety. To apply it right, you need a book
press (or a heavy weight - a stack of books will do) and,
until you become proficient and learn to apply enough
glue but leave no residue, you need to lay in wax
A few, admittedly biased, caveats: pre-printed labels are
tacky, as are pressure-sensitive labels (pun intended); round,
notary-like, blindstamps damage not only the paper but a
booklover's sensibilities (ink name and address stamps are
perhaps even worse); smaller is generally better; use good
taste and spend a few bucks-it's how you will be remembered
by future bibliophiles."
ANA, WARTS AND ALL, NAMES ENTIRE MUSEUM FOR ROCHETTE
In a press release published December 6, the American
Numismatic Association announced a resolution of the recent
controversy over the naming of the ANA Museum. The
following is an excerpt:
"We are grateful for the assistance of Chet Krause and
Cliff Mishler, and happily can announce the following
mutually satisfactory arrangement: The American Numismatic
Association Money Museum at ANA headquarters in Colorado
Springs, Colorado will be named in honor of Edward C.
Rochette, a distinguished former Executive Director and
former President of the association."
Recognition of the museum naming will be conducted this
coming July when hundreds of collectors from across the
country attend the annual ANA Summer Seminar.
"I've known Ed since 1963 when he was Editor of Numismatic
News, and then he went on to serve the ANA beginning in
1966. It is appropriate that the museum be named in his
honor," said Krause who now has rescinded his earlier
resignation of his ANA membership.
Mishler said: "For all of its 114 years, the ANA has had
warts. But, warts and all, the ANA is still the best
collector's organization in the hobby."
SMITHSONIAN NUMISMATIC EXHIBIT OPENS
A scaled-down exhibit of selections from the National
Numismatic Collection is now on display in Washington, D.C.
On December 9 the Associated Press reported that "The
exhibit of rare, historic and beautiful currency opens
Friday at the Smithsonian Castle, the original 150-year-old
home of the Smithsonian Institution. There are 56 coins,
bills and medals in all, a tiny slice of the more than
1.5 million in the museum's collection.
Specialists in coins much admire a $20 gold piece
designed by one of the most famous American sculptors
of the late 1800s and early 1900s, Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
The goddess Liberty is on one side, torch and olive branch
in hand, and a flying eagle on the other. President Theodore
Roosevelt, impressed by a medal Saint-Gaudens made for his
inauguration, urged him to try doing coins. The medal is
on show, too.
For comparison, Richard Doty, the museum's senior curator
of numismatics, has included in the exhibit an ancient
Greek coin in high relief struck about 400 B.C.
The display also includes a portrait medal of James
Smithson, who bequeathed his fortune of 104,960 British
gold sovereigns to the United States for the advancement
of knowledge. It was the founding bequest of the Smithsonian
"Legendary Coins and Currency' will be on display
through Sept. 10. Admission is free."
To read the complete article, see:
For museum hours, see:
OLD WALL UNEARTHED IN MANHATTAN YIELDS COIN FIND
Dr. Ute Wartenberg Kagan, Executive Director of The
American Numismatic Society forwarded a link to this
New York Times article about a recent coin discovery
"Three weeks after the Metropolitan Transportation
Authority started digging a subway tunnel under Battery
Park, the project hit a wall. A really old wall. Possibly
the oldest wall still standing in Manhattan.
It was a 45-foot-long section of a stone wall that
archaeologists believe is a remnant of the original
battery that protected the Colonial settlement at
the southern tip of the island. Depending on which
archaeologist you ask, it was built in the 1760's or
as long ago as the late 17th century.
Either way, it would be the oldest piece of a
fortification known to exist in Manhattan and the
only one to survive the Revolutionary War period,
said Joan H. Geismar, president of the Professional
Archaeologists of New York City."
"Among the items found around the wall are a well-
preserved halfpenny coin dated 1744 and shards of
smoking pipes and Delft pottery, said Amanda Sutphin,
director of archaeology for the city's Landmarks
To read the complete article, see:
SOCIETY FOR U.S. COMMEMORATIVE COINS WEB SITE LAUNCHED
David Provost writes: "Thanks for another interesting
collection of news, tidbits and tips!
I'm writing to provide you with a few notes about a
website that might be of interest to the group. I took
over as president of the Society for US Commemorative
Coins (SUSCC) last year and have been working to make
the collecting public more aware of our group. One of
the problems we faced this past year was the restructuring
of the ANA's website and the loss of our web page.
I recently launched a new SUSCC website (www.suscconline.org)
and, like many a fledgling webmaster, have started simply
but with plans for continued expansion. Once I completed
the home page with basic info about the organization and
how to become a member, I was faced with the decision as
to what 'content' page I should add first. It didn't take
me long to decide that it should be a page that featured
an annotated bibliography of books about US commemorative
coins. If you have a moment, check it out and let me
know your thoughts.
The titles listed are all from my personal collection,
with a few more yet to be added. I would like to reach
out to the NBS membership, however, to seek assistance
finding a few titles that I haven't been able to locate.
I have been searching for Fred Morton Reed's book about the
commemorative series (published in 1972, I believe) as well
as any volumes of Ray Mercer's Buyer's Guide series beyond
Volume One. Of course, I'd be interested in hearing from
anyone with any other titles on the series -- I'm sure
there are more than a few that I haven't come across!
I can be reached at commems at aol.com if anyone would like
[One obscure title to add to the list is "One Fatt Calfe",
a great book on the history of the New Rochelle half.
I bought my copy from George Kolbe several years ago, and
he forwarded the following details: "Skipton, Amy C. One
Fatt Calfe: Being an Account of the New Rochelle Half-Dollar
and of the Celebration Marking the 250th Anniversary of the
Founding & Settlement of the City of New Rochelle New York.
New Rochelle: New Rochelle Commemorative Coin Committee, 1939.
(8), 123, (1) pages, 13 plates.
One of only 200 copies printed in Caslon type on Linweave
Rag Book paper at Pell Press. The author was the Executive
Secretary of the Coin Committee and she wrote this work
"in the hope that it may serve as a signpost to future
Celebration Committees in planning an event such as was
celebrated in 1938." It includes portraits of the main
participants, including the designer Gertrude Lathrop
and her "Fatt Calfe" model. This work remains the most
detailed account ever written surrounding the issuance
of a commemorative half dollar."
Some I found on my shelf are:
Foster, Charles W., Historical Arrangement of United
States Commemorative Coins, Rochester Museum of Arts
and Sciences, Rochester, NY, 1936, 75 pages, softcover
Ganz, David L., 14 Bits: The Story of America's
Bicentennial Coinage, Three Continents Press, Washington,
D.C., 1976, 102 pages, softcover
Hyder, William D. and Colbert, R.W., The Selling of
the Stone Mountain Half Dollar, a reprint from The
Numismatist, no date, 20 pages, card covered
Ruby, Warren A., Commemorative Coins of the United
States (Gold and Silver), Graphic Publishing Company,
Lake Mills, IA, 1961, hardcover
Reed, Mort, United States Commemoratives 1892-1954,
Coin World, 1972, 36 pages
The Foster and Ruby titles are very scarce. The Mort
Reed booklet from Coin World includes a bibliography
by Frank Katen, and it lists this title, which I
Weber, C. E., Let's Have New Commemorative Coins.
Reprint NM, 1961
Can our readers provide more information on these
titles, or suggest other titles on U.S. Commemoratives?
CORRECTION: J. E. BULL INFORMATION SOUGHT
Roger Moore writes: "I appreciate your republishing my
request for information about a 1880's numismatist in the
latest E-Sylum. Unfortunately, my original request to
the Yahoo eGroup got the name wrong. It is not J. E. Bass
I need to know about, but rather J. E. BULL!! I would
still greatly appreciate any information I can get about
this gentleman, who evidently had a very advanced New
Jersey colonial collection. I will eventually publish
the contents of the Maris letters that I recently acquired
that were written to Mr. Bull. Thank you."
ANS MARIS NEW JERSEY PLATE PHOTO INFORMATION SOUGHT
Roger Moore adds: "There is one other request that I
have. When researching the Maris Plate papers I wrote
for The Colonial Newsletter there were rumors that a
large photograph was made of an original Maris Plate I
photograph by the American Numismatic Society. These
large photographs were evidently given to major ANS
patrons back in the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s. I tried
to find someone with this photograph at the time I was
writing the papers but was unsuccessful. At the Colonial
Coin Collectors Club (C-4) auction in Boston last month,
I bought two large mounted photographs of an original
Maris Plate I photograph. They were donated to the C-4
auction by Tony Terranova and he indicated that he had
obtained them from a relative of Richard Picker following
Richard's death. I believe these are the photographs
that ANS made and I plan to research them further at ANS,
but would appreciate any input from others who may have
received copies of them or at least had knowledge about
the reproductions made by ANS."
COLONIAL PAPER SIGNERS INFORMATION SOUGHT
Ray Williams writes: "With several recent acquisitions
of colonial notes, my curiosity has been aroused with
respect to who all the signers were. The well known
signers who signed the Declaration of Independence,
Constitution, etc are easy to find, but what about all
the others? Is there a reference book that gives short
biographies for the known signers of colonial paper
money? They must have been men of renown, or at least
[Good question. The signers are listed in many
references, but I know of no comprehensive compilation
of biographical sketches. Can any of our readers
point us to one, or know of someone who is compiling
2004 MINT REPORT: CENT STATISTICS, NEW COINAGE MATERIAL STUDY
Regarding the "Penny Pro & Con" article Dick Johnson
pointed out last week, Kavan Ratnatunga writes: "That
debate used some totally out dated statistics. The
latest U.S. Mint report states that it cost 0.98 cents
in 2003 and 0.93 cents in 2004 to mint a penny, not the
0.72 mentioned in that pro article.
Interestingly, the 2004 report also mentions a new coinage
material study: "The first comprehensive coinage material
study for circulating coins was started this fiscal year.
The objective is to review and consider cost effective
alternative materials for current and future coin denominations.
Initially targeting single layer materials for cent and nickel,
the study will expand to look at alternatives to the clad
materials used on higher denominations. The study is in the
early stages with results made available after summarizing
tests are performed on all materials."
PAT MACAULEY'S TWO CENTS ON THE "PENNY"
Pat MacAuley writes: "I agree with Dick Johnson that the
penny will steadily disappear from daily use as inflation
and technology make it obsolete. But the more serious
issue for numismatics is that ALL COINAGE is threatened
with extinction in daily commerce. In my lifetime the
half dollar has disappeared from circulation. And the
dollar coin in its Eisenhower, Anthony, and Sacajawea
forms is so scarce that most people can go years without
seeing a dollar coin. Nowadays vending machines can take
paper bills just as easily as coins.
Ironically, the dollar coin is a potential winner because
it could save the U.S. government hundreds of millions of
dollars. (Coins last much longer than bills, yet don't
cost much more to produce.) Unfortunately, the government
does very little to encourage the use of the dollar coin.
Here in Washington, D.C. the subway system does not accept
dollar coins because it would cost $40,000 to convert its
600 machines to accept them. If the U.S. Treasury paid
the subway's cost of conversion, it could easily recoup
When a reporter explained this problem to the official
in charge of the Sacajawea dollar, he confidently
predicted that the Treasury could pay these conversion
costs, perhaps by buying advertising on the subways.
How wrong he was -- the thicket of regulations covering
this type of promotion is so dense that he barely dented
it before his term was over. It would take an Act of
Congress, at a minimum, to make much headway.
If current trends continue, coins will largely disappear
from daily life, and Americans will be poorer for it.
In my opinion the best way to rescue coinage from these
trends is to make a success of the dollar coin. If public
transit systems used dollar coins the way Post Office
vending machines do, the visibility of the dollar coin
might reach the tipping point where it might become
widely used. It would take Congressional action to
enable the Treasury to compensate public transit systems
for their conversion costs (perhaps paid from a trust
fund derived from seignorage profits) but everyone
Are there any coin collectors in Congress?"
BLOCK LETTERS ON THE NEW U.S. $10 NOTES
Joe Boling writes: "Further to the notice about the 2004A
$10 notes coming in March, has anyone actually seen a 2004A
$20 or $50 yet? I have had my bank tellers searching for
them for weeks, and have found none. I am interested in
the lead block letter. Since the large head notes were
introduced, each series has had a unique leading letter
before the letter that designates the Federal Reserve
District). The list looks like this:
Now, the $10 series 2004A samples that have been shown
all have G as the lead letter. From that I infer that
the 2004A $20s and $50s are going to have the letter F
(and that the $10 notes may actually be designated as
series 2005, not 2004A as has been announced). Either
that, or the $10 notes will NOT have the letter G.
But I'd like a confirmation that the $20 and $50 notes
in series 2004A are using letter F. Has anybody seen
one (and noted the leading block letter)?"
WHERE'S GEORGE BACKLASH NOTED IN PAPER MONEY
In the November/December issue of Paper Money, the
official publication of the Society of Paper Money
Collectors, editor Fred Reed authored a detailed
article on wheresgeorge.com, a web site featured
in The E-Sylum way back on March 8, 1999 (v2n10).
Here's what I wrote:
One of the most unusual numismatically-related
sites on the internet is "Where's George - The
Great American Dollar Bill Locator" at
http://www.wheresgeorge.com/ Readers can enter
the serial numbers of dollar bills passing through
their hands and track their later progress around
the country with the help of like-minded bill
trackers. Strange, but true...
In a sidebar, Reed notes that not all collectors
are pleased about Where's George. He quotes paper
money dealer Tom Denly: "Perhaps I am being a bit
curmudgeonly, but this excessive marking has crossed
the line between fun and games and the deliberate
mutilation of currency. I have not reported this
bill, and I am going to tear it in half and turn it
in at the bank for replacement."
SWISS IN UPROAR OVER NOTE DESIGNS
The proposed new paper money designs for Switzerland
we discussed recently are drawing criticism from the
public. According to a report this week by Bloomberg
News, "Switzerland, a global financial center, is in an
uproar that the central bank may put images of embryos
and blood cells on the country's currency.
The designs are "horrible, horrible, horrible," Verena
Graf, a retired bank archivist waiting for a white-and-blue
tram at Zurich's Paradeplatz financial sector, said on
Dec. 2. "I would rather keep the old ones with the
people on them."
The banknotes, designed by Zurich artist Manuel Krebs,
35, last month won a central bank competition to
replace the current edition, which features motifs
of famous Swiss artists such as Alberto Giacometti.
The central bank sought new ideas to create an "open"
image for a country whose two biggest banks alone manage
about $3.3 trillion. The Neue Zuercher Zeitung newspaper,
required reading for any Swiss banker, on Nov. 27 said
the notes lack a sense of the "eroticism of money."
"The central bank will decide on a final design for
the banknotes in the spring, based on technical criteria
and the ease with which new security features can be
incorporated. Production of the new notes may start as
early as 2008."
"In theory, the notes should be Swiss, but the problem
is that if there aren't people on them, what are we
going to put on there -- mountains and cheese?" said
Thomas Bruehwiler, a Zurich-based computer programmer.
[Everyone is a critic when it comes to new coin and
currency designs. It is interesting to read of a banker
talking about "the eroticism of money" - would they find
mountains and cheese more desirable as images? -Editor]
JEFFERSON NICKEL DESIGN CRITICISM
On the topic of design criticism, here's one novel
characterization of the new nickel obverse from Grand
Traverse Herald editor Garret Leiva: "Why does the new
U.S. nickel with the profile of Thomas Jefferson look
like the Mac Tonight half-moon character from those
mid-1980s McDonald's ads?
I know the third president of the United States never
wore sunglasses or a black tuxedo but the similarities
are uncanny. Actually, it kind of creeps me out. I'm
not sure who down at the United States Mint thought
Jefferson needed a makeover. Probably the same genius
responsible for the "Heaven's Gate" of coinage: the
Susan "I'm Not George Washington in Drag" B. Anthony."
To read the complete editorial:
SAN FRANCISCO MAY NAME STREET AFTER "WIDOW NORTON"
The legacy of Emperor Norton lives on in San Francisco,
and gets stranger and stranger. A modern successor to
Norton's eccentric ways may soon have a street named
after him. According to a December 8 report in the
Bay Area Reporter, "Jose Sarria, the first out gay man
to run for public office in California and founder of
the Imperial Court system, could see a San Francisco
street named after him under a proposal by Supervisor
"Sarria is a longtime champion of gay rights and
fundraiser for the LGBT community. He ran for city
supervisor in 1961 and founded the Imperial Court
System over 40 years ago in 1964 when he took on the
title of Empress Jose I.
He later assumed the title of the Widow Norton after
the 19th century San Francisco eccentric Joshua Norton,
who proclaimed himself "Emperor of North America and
Protector of Mexico" and printed his own money. Each
year Sarria leads a processional to Norton's grave
in Colma, in tribute to him as well as those Imperial
Court members who have died of AIDS."
To read the full article, see:
IN DEFENSE OF THE LIBERTY DOLLAR
Regarding last week's query about The Liberty Dollar,
Gar Travis writes: "Did you see the disclaimer page?"
[The page notes: "I hope by this time that everybody knows
the Gold and Silver Libertys are not "legal tender".
Nor are they "coins", as a "coin" is something issued
by a government and we are not they, nor do we ever
want to be. The fact that the "Libertys" cannot be
described in these terms has been enshrined in the
United States Code, so it is not just numismatic, it
is the law. And as the government also defines "money"
and "current money", the Gold and Silver Libertys are
neither of these.
Will Robins writes: "Just wanted to respond to the little
article about the "Liberty Dollar" in the December 4th
issue. This is not the first time I have heard of them.
I remember a year or two ago, watching a coin documentary
on the history channel, when the "Liberty Dollar" was
talked about. Apparently it is a legitimate organization
which has been going on for a good deal of time. As I
recall, "Liberty Dollar" production is legal because the
basic unit is not the standard American "dollar," but
"Liberty Dollar." Anyone can create their own type of
money, as long as the primary denomination is not "dollar,"
because then it would be counterfeiting. Whether a store
accepts it is up to the cashier or manager."
Bob Leonard writes: "I agree with Andrew W. Pollock III
that the silver Liberty money by a few businesses, like
the Lesher dollar was, and--since I collect Lesher dollars
--I ordered one from his web site last year for my
collection. Bernard von NotHaus is a hard money man who
doesn't trust the Federal Reserve, while Lesher was a
"crank" on the silver question, as a Secret Service
operative once referred to him. He's been doing this
for years, so I think he is steering clear of the monetary
laws (as Lesher finally did), though he needs to be careful
about ordinary civil fraud.
But even von NotHaus is not above market forces: when I
bought my Liberty Dollar, silver was about $6 an ounce
(the quote from their website gives only $5.10), and the
face value and selling price (one troy ounce, proof) was
$10; now that silver has broken $8, I see that the face
value of a 2005 Liberty Dollar has doubled to $20. For
an "inflation-proof" currency this is not how it's supposed
to work! Anyway, if anyone wants to collect these I
recommend buying only the silver and gold "coins,"
hard-money admirer that I am, not the paper certificates
he sells below "face value."
[The paper notes as well as the metal items would make
for an interesting collection. Numismatists of today
(and museum curators in particular) should take the
opportunity to assemble collections of these items while
they are readily accessible. In years to come the creators
of these currencies will be long gone and the items could
well become rare, if not valuable. Experience tells me
that it will be the high-valued paper items that will be
the hardest to find. For the very reason Bob cites,
today's high relative cost discourages their collecting.
Another reader writes: "Bernard von NotHaus might sound
pretty loopy but he actually has more legitimacy and
standing than people might expect. I can tell you that
his is not a fly-by-night operation and that over $3-million
in Liberty dollars are in circulation as an alternative
form of currency. And there really is a warehouse, subject
to quarterly audits, that contains gold and silver ingots
owned by thousands of people.
Bernard issues silver and gold certificates, which are
basically receipts, verifying the holder owns x-amount
of silver, physically located and accessible in a warehouse
controlled by Sunshine Smelting. The silver certificates
can be spent with merchants who will accept them (several
thousand now, all over America). This is coinage at it most
basic. That some of the survivalists and nutcases happen
to use and endorse Liberty Dollars both helps and hurts
Bernard raises a lot of interesting questions about the
Federal Reserve, economics, supply and demand, etc. He
charges $9 for a silver "Liberty Dollar", that is good
for $10 in trade to whoever will take it as such. He
asks how this is different than a US Eagle bullion coin,
stamped $10, and carrying the exact same amount of silver.
These are available for about $9 as well. He says there
is no difference, that circulating bullion based coinage
can be an alternative to the Federal Reserve system.
Also, his association with the Royal Hawaiian Mint is
well-attested. See the latest Unusual World Coins by Colin
Bruce, which has over 20 pages of RHM material which
Bernard designed and struck. Bruce also lists the Liberty
Dollar in his catalog!
Bernard is well-known in the numismatic world. He is
provocative, thoughtful, and somewhat out there. Everyone
has an opinion about his theories, but I would bet he knows
more about history and economic theory than most numismatists,
Readers interested in more information can go to Wikipedia
and review a rather lengthy treatment of the Liberty Dollar
[I guess I was one of the uninformed numismatists, but
that's what I love about The E-Sylum - there's something
new to learn each week. Bullion depository receipts are
the earliest form of paper currency, so this is nothing
new under the sun. I would agree that NotHaus and his
users have every right to set up an independent currency;
that's done by businesses every day - bank-issued credit
and debit cards are only the most prominent example.
Boggs bills and community-based currencies are another
example - if a person willingly accepts them in payment,
that's an issue between the two parties and no one else.
Here's the link to the Wikipedia entry on the Liberty
Timothy Grat, Mint Master of The Gallery Mint writes:
"I was somewhat surprised to see Bernard VonNothaus'
project to come up as new. The Liberty Dollar is indeed
for real and has been in production for many years. I
must say I do know Bernard personally, as we have had
much interaction with him at the Gallery Mint.
Many of your readers will be familiar with the small,
black screw press that was on display and used by the
ANA Money Museum. Or is that the Ed Rochette Money
Museum? I am still not sure... but I digress. The screw
press belongs to Mr VonNothaus. The small press was
manufactured by Ron Landis and the late Joe Rust.
Previously Mr VonNothaus produced many beautiful coins
under the Royal Hawaiian Mint. Point being, Bernard is
a serious numismatist and a strong supporter of the
Does this mean there is no marketing involved in his
product? Of course not, there is plenty, but he is serious
about his stance and the value of his product, as are his
By coincidence, Eureka Springs, AR (the location of Gallery
Mint) is about 12 miles from the county seat of Berryville,
AR. Berryville is one of the Liberty Dollar's largest
markets and the Dollars are accepted all over town. The
NORFED sticker appears in many store front windows. Many
people have even had their Liberty Dollars accepted at
The Liberty Dollar is also now listed in the new Unusual
Money catalogue. Bernard has also edited and had published
a book entitled "The Liberty Dollar Solution to the Federal
Reserve" With contributions from economists (Alan Greenspan),
statesmen (Congressman Ron Paul), and many others. There
is some marketing in these pages but still makes for an
interesting read for anyone curious about the economic
This is not an endorsement! While many of us are still
secure about the spending power of our Fed notes (myself
included), the Liberty Dollar customers are not. While
many find it easy to marginalize a seemingly extreme
point of view, this does not mean the Liberty Dollar
is not for real and not accepted by the Feds. If I am
not mistaken, a transaction with the Liberty Dollar is
viewed as a barter. It is legitimate. And in my own
opinion, the coins display a rather attractive
representation of Liberty, a device long gone from
Russ Rulau writes: "The E-Sylum reader who thinks the
Liberty Dollar scheme is some sort of scam and that
the Feds will close it down because it impinges on the
Federal Reserve's paper money rights, really doesn't
have a clue to what's involved here.
I wrote an article in Numismatic News Oct. 25 issue,
pages 25 and 28 entitled "Will 2005 be Repeat of 1978
for Gold Prices?" in which I illustrated the silver
dollar note and the $500 gold note of Bernard VonNothaus'
issue. His idea is to issue paper receipts for gold and
silver stored in Idaho at a third-party vault.
As a writer on gold and gold coins for some 44 years,
I don't believe the scheme can work, as the U.S. debt
now has passed the $8 trillion mark. In a full century
we could not repay our indebtedness. But a return to any
gold-silver standard is ludicrous because there isn't
enough of both above or below ground to make a dent in
the U.S. debt, much less the world debt.
Our Federal Reserve notes are simply monetized debt,
backed by nothing but our reputation as a nation for
honesty. I have no agenda either way vis-a-vis Liberty
Dollars, except one thing -- the notes are beautifully
designed. VonNothaus has had some "left field" ideas
over the years, but dishonesty is not among them, and
he's a very skilled engraver. His Hawaiian silver and
gold fantasy coins of the 1980's are magnificent,
portraying King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani, and
may now be found in the current catalog "Unusual World
Coins" by Colin Bruce (KP) priced very high."
VIETNAM 10,000 DONG NOTE IMAGE: THE ILL HO CHI MINH
Per last week's request, David Klinger found us an
image of the note Howard Daniel described, with an
ill-looking Ho Chi Minh. He writes: "Here's a link
to an image of the Vietnam 10000 Dong note of 1990."
SWEDISH NOTE ENGRAVER: AGNES MISKI-TOROK
Last week we published a link to an image of a Swedish
note. Gene Hessler writes: "The wonderful portrait of
Gustav Vasa on the Swedish 1000 kronor was engraved by
a woman, Agnes Miski-Torok (The International Engraver's
Line, G. Hessler, p. 190)."
NIGERIAN NOTE QUESTIONED
An editorial in The Independent of Nigeria addresses
a "credibility crisis" around a new note:
"We have never seen anything like it! Since Independence,
there has been various changes in the currency and its
component denominations. Indeed there was a change from
pounds to Naira which the Nigerian public took in its
stride: there was not a whisper or whimper of controversy
or debate let alone any dissent or question about the
legality of the tender.
For now however, there are clearly troubled whispers.
In spite of an advertising blitz, there has been great
skepticism about the validity and reluctance to accept
the new N1000 note as a medium of exchange. The Central
Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has had to announce that it would
not withdraw the N1000 note following an alleged error
detected on the new note.
CBN states that: "The new banknote remains certified
legal tender. The CBN is also not contemplating replacing
the existing N1000 note with a new design. The CBN is
hereby assuring the public that the absence of the 'Naira'
sign on the N1000 banknote is the result of a deliberate
change in design to reflect modern concepts in line with
The question that refuses to go away however is: why the
reluctance on the part of the public to accept the new
To read the full article, see:
[Here's a link to the Central Bank of Nigeria's press
release about the note:
The alleged error is the removal of the 'Naira' sign.
The bank is saying that they are removing the currency
symbol "to reflect modern concepts in line with best
practices". Reading between the lines, I believe the
thinking here is that symbols can have multiple meanings
and interpretations, but spelled-out currency names are
unambiguous, and that the modern practice is to use only
spelled-out names on currency. I'm not a world currency
collector, so perhaps one of our readers can confirm this.
Has this practice ever been written up formally, in a
publication or trade journal for central bankers?
QUIZ ANSWER: A quick look at the U.S. paper money in my
wallet today brings the answer to today's quiz question:
The dollar sign "$" appears nowhere on the U.S. one dollar
note. New question: has it appeared on U.S. currency in
the past? -Editor]
ON LAUNDERING MONEY
Inspired by last week's excerpt on "money laundering",
Roger deWardt Lane of Hollywood, Florida writes: "My
family has been in the Resort Hotel business for years,
I'm third generation and I now have a granddaughter working
in Hawaii in the resort field.
I'm going to write this from memory - I'm not 100% sure
of the facts, as the subject was always passed on in more
of a joking manner, but I believe the details to be correct.
The story goes that one of the first hotels to wash their
money (silver coins) was the Waldorf-Astoria. They would
send the coins down to the kitchen pantry where the steam
washing machine was located, and used daily to keep the
table silverware shiny. It took more than one employee
to do the job, one to wash and one to watch the washer!
I believe other very famous resorts like the Greenbriar
also washed their money.
The clean money was returned to the General Cashier,
who would dispense it to the cashiers at the front desk
On the same subject, not laundering money, but providing
"clean money" for the guests; all the resort hotels at
which I have worked, 16 before my thirty years at the
Classic Diplomat, Hollywood, Florida and the two that
followed, The Doral Saturnia 5 Star Spa, Miami and the
last resort - the Lago Mar Resort and Club, Ft. Lauderdale
all followed the same pattern. Orders for money from the
Bank always requested brand new currency, $1, $5, $10,
and $20. Most of the time the strapped brand new bills
were supplied. Large denominations were more difficult
to get as 'new money' because the notes lasted for years
and stayed in pretty good condition, as we numismatists
would say VF to XF.
About twenty years ago, I needed to cover the vacation
period of our General Cashier and while on this assignment,
had to order $2,000 in brand new $1 bills. They came
in a $1000 'brick' with a piece of plywood on each end,
and a steel strap binding the notes. The first wood
piece would have a label showing the serial numbers of
the brick. Last year I found among my collectables,
these two labeled wood pieces and the same numbered dollar
bills, which I had also kept. I then donated them to the
American Numismatic Society collection, as I thought they
were quite unique. Today the bricks are shrink-wrapped in
CHIRSTMAS GIFT ADVICE: NO EMPTY WALLETS
Even if your own wallet end up empty this holiday season,
don't give anyone else an empty wallet. Dick Johnson writes:
"If you are giving a wallet, purse or briefcase this Christmas,
be sure to put coins or bills in it. That's the rule of
Feng Shui. Here's some brief advice for proper gift giving.
[The following are quotes from the web page Dick referenced:
"--Never give an empty wallet as a gift, since it
symbolizes that the recipient will never have enough money.
--Avoid giving knives, scissors, or letter openers as
gifts since they "cut" a friendship.
These are just a sample of the Feng Shui tips on holiday
gift-giving from nationally-recognized Feng Shui Practitioner,
Carol M. Olmstead, FSII.
"My Eastern-European grandmother told me never to give
a wallet or a purse as a gift without sticking a penny
in it for good luck," said Olmstead. "Seems like grandma
never realized she knew a bit about Feng Shui," she adds,"
since it's also good Feng Shui advice." Inflation may have
changed grandma's penny into something more substantial, but it is still
good Feng Shui wisdom."
FEATURED WEB SITE
This week's featured web site is suggested by Steve
Woodland, who writes: "Here is an intriguing website all
about coins with a wildlife theme. It is called "Daniel's
Coin Zoo" and it is a great place for the youth of our hobby
to visit to see some beautiful coins.
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
at this address:
To join, print the application and return it with your check
to the address printed on the application. Membership is only
$15 to addresses in the U.S., $20 elsewhere. For those without
web access, write to:
David M. Sundman, Secretary/Treasurer
Numismatic Bibliomania Society,
P. O. Box 82 Littleton, NH 03561
For Asylum mailing address changes and other membership
questions, contact David at this email address:
dsundman at LittletonCoin.com
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