The E-Sylum v8#54, December 25, 2005

esylum at esylum at
Sun Dec 25 18:28:11 PST 2005

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 8, Number 54, December 25, 2005:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2005, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are John Salyer of Heritage Galleries,
Greg McMurdo, Carrie Best and Tony Swicer.  Welcome aboard!  We 
now have 831 subscribers.  Merry Christmas, all!

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Robert R. Heath, author of "Commemorative Medals of 
Massachusetts Cities & Towns" has passed away. Anne E. 
Bentley of the Massachusetts Historical Society writes: 
"I received the following e-mail from Rob Ray Heath's 
family: "This is Bob Heath's stepdaughter, Mary. I am 
very sorry to inform you that he passed away on December 
11, after a short battle with cancer." 

When Bob came to the Massachusetts Historical Society 
this past June to photograph more of our pieces for his 
latest edition of Commemorative Medals of Massachusetts 
Cities & Towns he seemed fine and we had a most enjoyable 
day, so to say this news came out of the blue is an 

Mary said Bob was diagnosed with cancer of the esophogus 
just before Thanksgiving and they are all in shock at how 
quickly it progressed.  She said he didn't suffer, so 
they count that as a blessing."


Morten Eske Mortensen writes: "The Roman Coin Price Yearbook 
2005 (RCPY) is here!  I am certainly happy to be able to 
announce that the printed 2005 edition of the RCPY covering 
the full calendar years 2003 and 2004 now is in the hands 
of the editor and presently being mailed to those who have 
ordered it upfront and thus made the project be realized. 
Many thanks for your support!

Republican vol., pp. 1-295, includes 8.000 entries. 
Imperial vol.-I,  pp. 300-899, includes 13.000 entries. 
Imperial vol.-II, pp. 903-1.554, includes 14.000 entries.

The printing run was limited to 150 copies.

The 2005 edition includes estimated 35.000 auction results 
extracted from around 230 international public auctions 
held world wide in the two full calendar years 2003 and 
2004. An impressive 65+ major auction houses are covered. 
All results converted to USD. For exact listing of auction 
Catalogues, see:

At the same time has been released the never-before-published 
2001 edition which includes estimated 33.000 auction results 
extracted from around 220 international public auctions held 
world wide in the two full calendar years 1999 and 2000. 

The six publications are spiral soft bound on red paper 
[contrary to the hitherto earlier published hard covered 
yearbooks] and individually numbered. The publications are 
not to be made available in the ordinary free book trade. 

Sample page of the RCPY 2003 edition: "


Dick Johnson writes: "I would like to echo Dave Lange's 
praise of Roger Burdette's book on American coinage, 
recently published. The first of his planned numismatic 
trifecta covering American coinage at the beginning of 
the 20th century, "Renaissance of American Coinage 1916-1921" 
covers the third phase; the next two books will cover two 
previous phases. This period of American coinage is so 
important, and so little known, that Roger is doing a 
tremendous service to American numismatics by revealing 
the people and events which led to the turn around - 
Roger calls it a "renaissance" - in American coin design.

What happened? We got away from the stiff style of the 
Barber-Morgan influence of coin design. These men were 
engravers, they prepared their coin designs in small size. 
They experimented with many small size designs (why so many 
patterns exist) to choose only those that came up to their 
satisfaction. This resulted in mediocre coin designs.

To their credit, Treasury officials turned instead to 
American sculptors to create new coin designs. No small 
designs these. These artists - St-Gaudens, Weinman, Fraser, 
MacNeil, de Francisci - created oversize models which were 
pantographically reduced. These artists applied a style of 
design -- beaux arts -- to American coin design. It was so 
successful we are replicating those same designs today, 
recycling Weinman's Liberty Walking and Fraser's Bison, 
for example.

To his credit, Roger Burdette searched out the original 
documents to tell the story of these events as factual and 
accurately as possible. He hit the archives and touched the 
original documents. The present volume is strong on the 
story of de Francisci's Peace dollar, and adequately covers 
Weinman's two Liberty designs plus Fraser's Bison nickel 
and MacNeil's quarter. Future collectors and writers on 
these series will have to include this issue of Roger's 
books in their study - it is that important.

I highly recommend Roger's book. The boxes around the 
quotations from the original documents is a little 
disconcerting and the index could be in larger type for 
these old eyes. Hey, that's all I could find to harp about.

I have had correspondence with Roger over the years. I was 
proud to recommend he subscribe to E-Sylum (recorded in the 
first 2004 issue). He has contributed several insightful 
articles since. He's the caliber of the big guns we have 
reading and contributing to The E-Sylum.

Merry Christmas to All you big guns from Dick Johnson."


>From the press release: "The American Numismatic Society -
an organization that has been dedicated since 1858 to promoting 
the study of coins, medals, and other numismatic materials, 
and the preservation and dissemination of information related 
to this subject matter-will honor Q. David Bowers for his 
unique contributions in numismatic scholarship and in promoting 
coin collecting to a broad and growing audience. The Trustees 
of the Society, decided to present this special award, in 
recognition of the work that Mr. Bowers' has done in the 
course of his more than 50 years in numismatics, at the 
Society's annual Gala Dinner, to be held January 12, 2006 
New York City. 

The gala, which will take place at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel 
in New York City during the week when the spectacular New York 
International Numismatic Convention brings into the city many 
notable coin collectors and dealers from across the nation 
and abroad. The event includes a reception, dinner and dancing, 
and an auction of collectible items. The highlight of the event 
will be the presentation of the special award to Mr. Bowers, 
whose authorship of over 40 books and literally thousands of 
articles on the history and collecting of coins, has served 
to increase awareness among the general public of numismatics, 
and to promote the greater understanding of the historical, 
social and economic contexts in which coinage in America has 
evolved. Major co-sponsors for the Gala Dinner are Whitman 
Publishing and American Numismatic Rarities, firms that have 
had close working relationships with Mr. Bowers during the 
course of his long career.

Between 300 to 400 members and supporters the ANS are expected 
to attend the event, which is an important source of income 
that helps the Society to carry out its mission. ANS Director 
Dr. Ute Wartenberg Kagan stated, "We are deeply grateful for 
the support of our dinner co-sponsors. Along with all the 
numerous friends of the ANS--such as Bowers and Merena Auctions 
and Stack's Coins who are acting as reception and auction 
sponsors--and the firms and individuals who are donating various 
goods and services, or serving as program sponsors, they are 
essential to the success of this event."


The topic has already been adequately covered in the 
numismatic press, but here's an excerpt from an article
in the mainstream press on the American Bank Note 
Company printing plate archives (New York Times, 
December 19, 2005):

"Steve Blum has been spending his days locked up alone 
in a silent warehouse in central New Jersey, sorting 
through boxes of what looks like scrap metal.

But to him, the dusty shingles are buried treasure. 
These old dies and plates were once used to print items 
of great worth: bank notes, stock certificates and bond 
coupons, as well as postage stamps, tickets, playing 
cards and other types of paper ephemera.

The slabs, about an eighth of an inch thick and ranging 
from an inch square to poster-size, lie in boxes stacked 
on more than a hundred pallets. Some of them date to 
the 1830's. 

This 200-ton trove once belonged to the American Bank 
Note Company, a major New York securities printer whose 
clients included governments, universities, banks and 
railroads, from captains of industry to humble savings 
and loans. As demand for steel and copperplate engraving 
fell, the company merged with or acquired many of its 
competitors, often picking up their old plates as well.

"You're looking at the archive of an entire industry 
here," explained Mr. Blum, 49, a rare-coin dealer from 
Westfield, N.J., one of the two investors who bought the 
plates last year for a few million dollars. Mr. Blum is 
cataloging them in preparation for their eventual sale 
to the public, the first time this kind of material has 
left the vaults of any bank note company in significant 

Q. David Bowers, an authority on coins and bank notes 
who is preparing a history of American Bank Note and 
other bank note printers, said getting at the archives 
was "like opening King Tut's tomb."

"Douglas Mudd, curator of exhibitions at the American 
Numismatic Association Money Museum in Colorado Springs, 
said such sales could be controversial among collectors 
since in theory the plates could be used to reprint old 
notes. But he said that federal law protects collectors 
from new reprints being sold as authentic prints and 
acknowledged the archive's historical value.

Mr. Blum said he is awed by the plates' historical 
significance. "It was the financial power made possible 
by this printing that made America great."

To read the complete story, see"

>From the original press release:
"Over the years, the firm acquired other companies and 
their archives, according to researcher Q. David Bowers, 
Numismatic Director of American Numismatic Rarities of 
Wolfeboro, New Hampshire and a former President of the 
nonprofit, 33,000-member American Numismatic Association. 
He is writing a massive reference book about the art, 
history and financial aspects of 19th century U.S. paper 
money with American Bank Note Company as the prime focus." 

"In addition to creating a reference book about the 
material, we plan to exhibit some of the printing plates 
at collectors' shows around the country, and we'll donate 
some to various museums. Eventually, most of the archives 
will be offered for sale to collectors."

To read the complete press release, see:

[So start making shelf space for another Bowers book!  
I'm looking forward to Dave's treatment of the subject.  
Most books on obsolete paper money simply catalog the 
notes; few go into much depth on the history of the 
notes or their issuers.  If Dave's research is only a 
fraction of what he typically does when writing about 
coins or tokens, his new book will be groundbreaking. 

This isn't Dave's only new book on paper money.  He and
David Sundman coauthored "100 Greatest American Currency 
Notes" the latest entry in Whitman's "100 Greatest" series.
The 144 pages hardcover coffee-table size book lists at
$29.95 plus shipping.  The pre-publication price is just
$24.95.  See for more information.


Coin World reviewed the new book by Pierre Fricke in
The January 2, 2006 issue (p106).  "Collecting Confederate 
Paper Money - A Complete and Fully Illustrated Guide to all 
Confederate Note Types and Varieties" is an 800-page reference 
edited by Stephen Goldsmith.

"The book includes information from the library of the late 
Douglas B. Ball, who was considered by many in the hobby to 
be the 'world's leading authority on Confederate paper money, 
bonds and other fiscal paper'"

The review neglected to mention the price of the book, 
which is $49.95 plus shipping.  For more information, 
see the web site of publisher R. M. Smythe at   Has anyone seen the book


"According to an Associated Press account published 
December 22, "The ceremonial strike marking the start 
of minting is scheduled for January 5th at the U.S. 
Mint in Denver. 

Officials from the state treasurer's office and Nevada 
State Bank are scheduled to attend the event. 

The coins featuring three wild horses are scheduled 
to be released for circulation on January 31st. A 
ceremony is planned in Carson City." 

To read the full article, see: 


Michael Schmidt writes: "As an interesting addendum to 
the material on the sale of Jules Reiver's 1797 NC-7 Large 
Cent mentioned in the November 20th E-Sylum, it should be 
noted that the coin is slabbed in a Numismatic Conservation 
Service holder (NGC's conservation business wing) and is 
mis-attributed as an NC-5."

[The E-Sylum item quoted a Heritage press release about 
the upcoming January 23-28, 2006 sale:  

Dave Lange of NGC writes: "This appears to be just a 
typo.  We will ask Heritage to send us back the coin for 
correction before the sale."   -Editor]


Five important works on North American numismatics were 
written by Don Taxay: 

"Counterfeit, Mis-Struck and unofficial U.S. Coins" (1963)
"The U.S. Mint and Coinage" (1966)
"An Illustrated History of U.S. Commemorative Coinage" (1967)
"Money of the American Indians  (1970)
"Scott's Comprehensive Catalogue and Encyclopedia 
    of United States Coins (1971)

After this burst of scholarship, Taxay faded from the scene.  
In the Colonial Coins mailing list this week, Ray Williams 
asked "Speaking of Don Taxay, does anyone know whatever 
happened to him?  He just disappeared and fell off the edge 
of the earth..."

Various stories and rumors were mentioned, ranging 
from reports that Taxay had moved to India, had a sex 
change operation, lives among the Seminole Indians
somewhere in the Everglades of Florida, or tends bar or 
dances on stage in Las Vegas.  Any, all or none of these 
may be true.  While entertaining, perhaps some of our 
readers can shed further light on the subject.  When is 
the last time anyone recalls hearing from him?  What 
were his plans? 


Doug Andrews writes: "I have written about protection 
and conservation measures for years, including in The 
Asylum. Water and fire damage are the two greatest risks 
to any library. My recommendations, for any who haven't 
read it elsewhere, are "protect, document, insure." 


The theme of the Word-A-Day mailing list this week is 
words related to words, writing, and language.  Wednesday's
selection was "verso", a word bibliophiles have likely 
seen in auction catalog book descriptions:

"verso (VUR-so) noun

   1. A left-hand page.
   2. The back of a page.

[Short for Latin verso folio, from verso (turned) and 
folio (leaf).  From versus (turning), from vertere (to 
turn). Ultimately from the Indo-European root wer- (to 
turn or bend), also the source of wring, weird, writhe, 
worth, revert, and universe.]

The counterpart of this word is recto, the right-hand page."

See the full entry on the Wordsmith web site:


In our last issue, Fred Schwan wrote: "One of my pet 
peeves (and it really drives me crazy) is the use of the 
word currency to mean paper money. Currency is the money 
in circulation--both struck and printed."

Michael Schmidt writes: "Probably one of the major abusers 
he would like to have words with would be the U S Government.  
In all of their laws and regulations (at least through 1965) 
when they mean them to apply to paper money they use the 
term currency.  If they mean coins, they say coins.  They 
never use the term currency to mean both coins and paper 


Arthur Shippee writes: "Here is a note from a retired 
Canadian friend of mine, to whom I'd sent Mark Tomasko's 
note about bills vs. coins: "Penny, nickel, dime, quarter, 
looney, twoony: I love them all! They make money transactions
interesting, colourful, potentially threatening (you 
still have to do math!). In terms of usefulness it is 
perhaps a moot question, as I use cards for everything 
ver a dollar, and in Saskatoon we can now even use cards 
at parking meters. Coins connect me to the historic past 
of western civilization. A pocketful of even pennies, 
worthless though they may be, gives me by their sheer 
weight the sense that I am after all a man of substance!" 

Steve Woodland writes: "Time and time again, I read 
comments like those of Mark Tomasko in v8#53 of the 
E-Sylum, where Americans think that "paper dollar bills" 
are the only way to go, and that the people in those 
countries that have large denomination coins in circulation, 
such as Canada and the European Union, run around with 
pockets and purses laden with pounds of heavy change. As 
a Canadian who has lived without a one-dollar bill since 
1987 and without a two-dollar bill since 1996, I have come 
to appreciate the benefit of our one-dollar "loonie" and 
two-dollar "twoonie" coins. First, they don't wear out 
as easily as paper money, and while this doesn't save 
huge amounts of money, it does save money. Second, the 
coins are much more useful in vending machines, toll 
booths, public transit and parking meters, where coinage 
dominates. Third, the large denomination coins are much 
lighter than the same amount of money in small denomination 
coins. For example, a Canadian "loonie" weighs in at 7 
grams and a "twoonie" at 7.3 grams, while the equivalent 
in 25-cent pieces would weigh 17.6 grams and 35.2 grams 
respectively. Mr. Tomasko can continue to carry around 
his quarters, I'll stick to my 1-dollar and 2-dollar coins.

As a further observation on the issue of 1-dollar circulation 
coins in the US, I concur with Bret Evans' comments in his 
article "Top 10 numismatic faux pas" in the 2005 issue of 
Collector's Guide. In discussing the disinterest by the US 
public in the Susan B. Anthony 1-dollar coin, Mr. Evans 
states that while the 1-dollar coin was needed for vending 
machine, public transit and toll road operations, it "...was 
doomed to failure for two reasons. First off, the Suzie was 
too similar to the 25-cent coin in both size and colour.  
Hard to distinguish from its lower value sister, the coin 
was a source of frustration. The other problem was that the 
$1 note was still being issued on demand.  If the Suzie had 
been the only $1 denomination [in circulation], consumers 
would have eventually adjusted.  Faced with choosing between 
a confusing newcomer and a tried and true performer, most 
Americans chose [to stick with] the banknote."

There, that's my two cents worth! (hmmm, another item 
of currency that should be considered for retirement)"


Regarding my question in last week's issue, Joe Levine 
of Presidential Coin & Antiques writes: "From our Auction 
#65 in 1999:

Red, white, blue and gold enamel Maltese cross suspended 
by a new replacement ribbon with a red center bordered 
with white and edged with blue. Clasp numbered 6113. 

The Loyal Legion was formed in Philadelphia on April 20, 
1865 - 6 days after Lincoln died. Its membership was open 
to commissioned officers of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps 
who served in the Civil War.  Originally, a member had to 
be an officer during the Civil War. Later on, the membership 
was opened up to veterans of the Civil War who became officers 
at a later date. Still later, membership was  opened to male 
lineal descendants of those qualified to join originally.  
The original ribbon had a red center bordered with white 
and edged with blue. When membership was opened to lineal 
descendants, their ribbon was changed to a blue center, 
bordered with white and edged with red. The modern badges 
issued today, have the old style ribbon colors. This badge, 
with its clasp numbered 6113,  has been traced to the Oregon 
Commandery . According to their records, it was issued to 
John Murphy on March 7, 1888. Murphy as a Sergeant and First 
Sergeant in the 5th U.S. Artillery. He retired as a major, 
and thus, under the relaxed rules, was entitled to membership 
in the Legion."

[Gar Travis forwarded a link to an image of a MOLLUS medal: 

Here are a few other links he recommends:
We referenced only one of these last week. -Editor]


An article in the December 20 Wall Street Journal discusses 
a recent scandal involving independent graders of gemstones.  
How good are the checks and balances at the top numismatic 
grading services?  Could such a scandal befall ever the coin 
grading industry?   We all hear the constant complaints about 
the services, but I've never heard a whiff of such shenanigans 
in our field.

"Bribery allegations at the nation's top rater of diamonds 
are rocking the jewelry business and tarnishing trust in 
the system for valuing gems.

The Gemological Institute of America, which grades diamonds 
for independent dealers and big retailers such as Tiffany & 
Co. and Bailey Banks & Biddle, recently fired four employees 
and shuffled top management after a four-month internal 
probe of its policies.

The institute also is in talks to settle a lawsuit filed 
last spring by a diamond dealer accusing workers in its New 
York laboratory of taking bribes to inflate the quality of 
diamonds in grading reports, said people familiar with the 

The institute's grading system is relied upon by most 
dealers and retailers in determining the worth of diamonds. 
Since the quality of gemstones is impossible for a layperson 
to evaluate, independent labs like the Gemological Institute 
are vital in determining a diamond's worth."


The art of numismatic exhibiting and judging is spread 
worldwide.  Here is an excerpt from an article about 
exhibits at a recent coin show in India:

"While the judges team, comprising two numismatists 
from the city and another such enthusiast from Maharashtra, 
had a tough time in deciding on the winning collection from 
about a dozen displays...

And once again Pankojini Jaiswal, an ace numismatist 
from the city had the last laugh in the women's category 
with an eclectic collection, while S.R. Arun bagged the 
award in the senior men's category for his assortment of 
American quarters.

Rachit Chaudhary from JH Tarapore School notched the top 
spot in the junior category as he took the judges on a 
trip around the world with his collection boasting of 
coins from each country across the globe.

P. Baburao walked away with the overall trophy with his 
collection of notes with signatures of RBI governors and 
with numbers matching the birth dates of all Tata group 

"Points such as the condition of coins, how well were 
they displayed, rarity, clarity of the numbers and the 
theme chosen were kept in mind while judging the displays," 
Col H.C. Pant, president of Coin Collectors' Club, said.

To read the complete article, see:


This week's featured web site is recommended by David 
Klinger.  It's a familiar one, but well worth another 
look: the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP).  
David writes: "There is a wealth of info there."

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 
at this address:

To join, print the application and return it with your check 
to the address printed on the application. Membership is only 
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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

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