The E-Sylum v8#49, November 20, 2005

esylum at esylum at
Sun Nov 20 20:24:03 PST 2005

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 8, Number 49, November 20, 2005:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2005, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers is Leon Worden. Welcome aboard!   
We now have 820 subscribers.

Several readers have chimed in with more stories on Bill 
Spengler, and some more on George Kunz of Tiffany’s as well.
The San Francisco Mint Gold Rush Museum bill is making progress, 
but needs more support – time to write your Senators. An 
Australian coin takes top honors as the most expensive copper 
coin, and Jules Reivers’ Large Cents come up for sale.  Want
to learn all there is on the conductivity of nickel or how 
workers on the Panama canal were paid?  Read on to find out.  

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Allan Davisson writes: "Bidding in our numismatic 
literature auction ended on October 25th.  For me, 
the auction finally wound down last night (November 14) 
as I packed the last parcel of books. George Kolbe 
laughed when I commented early on that I wasn't sure 
about how packing it all up would go. Now I know.

I appreciate the participation of many book enthusiasts 
and I particularly appreciate their patience while I 
get everything out.  (Life was a bit more complex than 
usual during this period since we also published a coin 
auction and mailed it out.)

Prices realized and a list of remainders can be 
found at our web site,

Finally, I appreciate the kind words from so many 
people about the catalog."


Howard A. Daniel III writes: “I was planning to visit Bill 
Spengler when I will be at the ANA Headquarters in Colorado 
Springs after the ANA Convention in Denver in August 2006.  
It was a shock to me when I received an email from Bill 
Rosenblum that he passed away. 

My first conversation with Bill was at a Numismatics 
International (NI) meeting at an ANA Convention many, many 
years ago.  After Bill gave his talk on South Asian or Indian 
coins, I told him that many of the counterstamps on his coins 
were close to those on many old Thai pieces.  This started 
many years of conversation and correspondence with Bill.

About five years ago, at another NI meeting at an ANA 
Convention, Bill approached me.  He asked if I would 
consider replacing him as Moderator for these NI meetings.  
Me, replace Bill?  He told me he was getting old and tired, 
and would not be able to attend all of the future ANA 
Conventions.  He never told me about being more seriously 
ill.  I thought about it for awhile and then said "Yes."  
A few minutes later, I had a stack of stuff that consisted 
of signs, books, and many other NI items that I have been 
carrying around to ANA Conventions and Shows.

I remember my first time being Moderator when I stood 
up in front of the attendees and introduced myself.  
There was an immediately a question from one of them, 
"Where is Bill Spengler?"  I told him that Bill had 
requested that I replace him because he was getting 
old and tired.  The man rose out of his chair and walked 
out of the meeting!  I expected the remaining attendees 
to walk out but they stayed, and so have many other 
numismatists at the meetings I have moderated for NI.

After a couple of NI meetings, I decided to also man 
a club table for NI, and members donated world coins 
for me to give to new and young collectors, and to 
tell them about NI.  Later, I added the International 
Bank Note Society for world paper money and handed 
out free pieces for them.  Then I added NBS to my club 
table.  So Bill got me started on the path of promoting 
world numismatics and the references about it.  If 
you are tired of seeing me at the ANAs, you can blame 
Bill for it.

Bill was a gentleman first and a numismatist second.  
He was one of the reasons I enjoy the brotherhood and 
sisterhood of numismatics so much, and I will miss him 
very much.”

Dave Lange writes: “I was very saddened to read of 
Bill's passing. He was always such a gentleman and a 
pleasure to converse with. Bill and I were named 
Numismatic Ambassadors at the same event some years 
ago, and that may have been the first time we met. 
I soon discovered that Bill had known J. K. Post, 
the inventor of the coin board, when Bill was a child. 
Post hosted an informal coin club on Saturdays to 
which all the neighborhood boys were invited. Like 
the others, Bill soon had himself a Lincoln Penny 
board received directly from the source. Sadly, 
this board, along with its contents, was lost in a 
household fire a few years later. It was my pleasure 
to send Bill an example of this first edition board 
some 60 years after he had been given his first.

Lately, I've been kicking around the idea of doing 
a book about collecting coin boards. I was planning 
to interview Bill or, at least, have him put his 
recollections in writing so that I wouldn't have to 
trust my own memory of what he had said. This 
opportunity has now been lost, along with a wonderful 
gentleman of the old school.”

Last week Bill Rosenblum noted: "Bill was co-author 
with Wayne Sayles of the two volume standard on Turkoman 
coins."  Steve Dippolito writes: "How could I have 
forgotten that?  It brings up one of my favorite stories.  
I was in the ANA library, trying to discover the origin 
of the double headed eagle motif that appeared on Russian 
Imperial coinage--this was for my 1999 exhibit.  I had 
heard that it was of Roman origin but could find nothing 
in the Roman section.  But my eye fell on the Spengler/
Sayles volume, and being one of those who is easily 
distracted during research, I said to myself "I didn't 
realize Bill had written a book," pulled it down, and 
started leafing through it, figuring it would be a break 
from my frustrating research.  I was absolutely 
thunderstruck to see a coin with a double headed eagle 
in there, with a paragraph describing the design's 
origins in antiquity!  I was done with my search in a 
most unexpected way. Thanks, Bill!  That helped me win 
the first of my three second-runner-up Howland Wood 
Awards.  (I don't know if he ever heard this story, alas!) 

(BTW it was true that the _Byzantine_ Romans had used 
the symbol but most books on "Rome" or the "Roman Empire" 
focus on pre-Constantine Rome or the Western Empire.  
This assumption is so universal and casual that in a 
way it is almost misleading to say that the "Romans" 
used the symbol.  Byzantium is pretty neglected in 
our historical education, getting dismissed with a 
"...and the Eastern Empire survived until the 1300s. 
Next, we will talk about 1000 years of feudal France 
and England")"


In an email message to supporters of the American 
Money & Gold Rush Museum, American Numismatic Association 
Executive Director Christopher Cipoletti writes: "Through 
your generosity and hard work, we have been able to reach 
our goal of more than 290 House supporters of the “San 
Francisco Old Mint Commemorative Coin Act” (HR1953), 
which has passed in Congress! The next step is obtaining 
Senate support for the bill. The Senate version of the bill 
(S.1881) was introduced on October 18, 2005 and currently 
is garnering supporters. In order to have the bill brought 
before the Senate for vote, we need the support of 67 

Passage of S. 1881 will provide for the minting of a 
commemorative coin; proceeds from this coin will help 
support AMGRM, to be located in the Old Mint building 
in San Francisco in conjunction with the San Francisco 
Historical Society Museum. This exciting new museum will 
be a national showcase of American numismatic history that 
will educate individuals of all ages about the story and 
concept of money, from the beginnings of a barter economy, 
the impact of the California gold rush, to how coins were 
minted. Each exhibit will offer visitors a glimpse into 
the social and cultural history of the time period they 
represent using state-of-the-art displays and interactive 

To accomplish this goal, we again need your help. 
Please contact your Senators and ask them to support 
Senate Bill 1881."

"You could also ask your friends, relatives, coworkers, 
etc. to contact their Senators too. Please visit 
to obtain more information about AMGRM, including form 
letters, links and helpful tools that can assist you 
in contacting your Senator."

[The old San Francisco Mint building didn't survive the
1906 earthquake only to molder in disuse.  Please, U.S.
readers - show your support and contact your State's
Senators.  -Editor]


Hadrian Rambach writes: "In reference to Martin Purdy's 
email about the New Zealand RNS copy of Patin's Familiae 
Romanae, I can confirm unfortunately indeed that this 
would not be a hugely valuable book on the market, as 
it is fairly common.  Charles Patin (1633-1693) wrote 
many books, including this one, of very high importance. 
One copy is listed by Dekesel in his 17th century 
bibliography as dated 1662 (located in Gent), but the 
average copy dates of 1663 indeed. 

There are two issues for it, the common one displaying 
a large device on title-page with the legend ARMA VIRVMQVE 
CANIT, while the rare one shows a different device 
(smaller and less ornate). It is indeed a "folio" book, 
i.e. an in-2, i.e. the printed sheets of paper were 
folded once (and therefore display 4 pages of text: 
two rectos and two versos).

The most common paper sizes in France were "écu" (400x520), 
""raisin" (500x650), "Jésus" (560x760) "colombier" 
(630x900) and "univers" (1000x1300) but it would be an 
anachronism to try to apply these precisely to a 1663
book: as Martin knows, it is not actually possible to 
know for sure the size of the paper originally used. 
Standard sizes (A4 etc.) are modern creations which do 
not apply to antiquarian books. This copy was trimmed 
but its current size is 360x240 mm, therefore the 
original sheet was at least 360x480 mm wide, but it 
could have been even bigger: one must guess..."


Ralf Boepple writes: "I just wanted to mention two new 
publications that I found in a catalog of new publications 
at a local book fair.  The author, Mr. Berlin is a NLG 
member and lives in Wilmington, Delaware, according to a 
review on Amazon. I wonder whether he is a subscriber to 
the E-Sylum.

The first item had its publishing date in the meantime 
postponed to December 2005 and appears not to be directly 
numismatic, but nevertheless of significance for researchers. 
Howard M. Berlin – 'World Monetary Units. An Historical 
Dictionary, Country by Country' (McFarland & Co., 2005, 
hardcover, 200 pp.) 

"...covers the monetary systems of 203 countries and four 
confederations, It provides historical and orthographical 
information for all monetary systems according to country. 
Countries are arranged alphabetically from Afghanistan to 
Zimbabwe." (from the catalog text)

The second book has originally been published in 2001 
in a hardcover edition, but it might be interesting to 
know that it is now also available in paperback. It is 
from the same author, Howard M. Berlin:
'The Coins and Banknotes of Palestine under British 
Mandate, 1927-1947', McFarland & Co., 2005, 170 pp., 
88 photos (26 color), maps, ISBN 0-7864-2445-1, and it 
" an authoritative guide to the coins and banknotes 
of Palestine under the British Mandate. Coverage includes 
the mysterious 1927 Holyland Token, counterfeit issues, 
and vignettes of the religious sites featured on banknotes. 
Appendices present the text of the British Mandate for 
Palestine, catalogue numbering systems for Palestine 
coins and banknotes, and a checklist for collectors.' 


According to a November 16 Bloomberg report, "A 1930 Proof 
Australian penny sold for A$620,000 ($454,000), making it 
the world's most valuable copper coin, according to
Coinworks, an Australian rare coin company."

"There are six 1930 Proof Pennies in existence, with 
three in institutional collections and three in private 
hands, Coinworks said."

Dick Johnson writes: "This is in comparison with the 
rarest American copper coin, the 1793 Chain America Cent 
(Sheldon-2), which sold in an ANR auction January 2005 
for $431,250. It ranked 70th in the "Top 250 Auction 
Prices" in the 2006 Red Book."

The Australian story is brief. It’s at:


According to a November 16 article from Radio Telefís 
Éireann (Ireland's Public Service Broadcaster), "A 
winner's medal from the first All-Ireland Football 
Final in 1888 has been sold at auction at Sotheby's 
in London for €31,000.

The 9ct-gold medal was bought by the Limerick Leader 
newspaper which said it would put it on public display 
in Limerick."

"It had been won by Malachi O'Brien from Ballinvrina, 
Emly, who played for the Limerick Commercials GAA Club. 
They beat Dundalk Young Irelands by 1-4 to 0-3 in 
April 1888.

The medal was eventually passed down through the 
family to Mary Doran who lives in Northampton and 
who is the daughter of Malachi O'Brien's great-grandnephew. 

She said today she was delighted it would be going on 
public display in Limerick."

To read the complete story, see:


A press release from Heritage reports that "An apparently 
unique Large Cent, discovered by numismatist Jules Reiver 
in 1968, will be included among the thousands of fascinating 
varieties being offered by Heritage Numismatic Auctions at 
their January 23-28 Signature Auction featuring The Jules 
Reiver Collection. The Auction is being held at Heritage’s 
world headquarters in Dallas, Texas. The Signature Auction 
will contain more than 4,000 varieties from Mr. Reiver’s 
collection, with thousands more offered in the accompanying 
Online Session.

“Since Jules Reiver discovered this previously unknown 
variety in 1968,” noted Senior Cataloger Mark Borckardt, 
“not a single additional example has come to light – and 
hundreds of specialists have been searching through 
thousands of coins. In fact, there has never even been a 
rumor of another. While there have been many discovery 
pieces in numismatics over time, they are typically 
followed by additional examples as numismatists closely 
examine every possible coin. Even more atypically, Mr. 
Reiver left us an extremely detailed description of the 
discovery and his thought process.”

“Jules Reiver’s collection is, in a word, astonishing,” 
explained Heritage President Greg Rohan. “This consummate 
numismatist sought varieties when ‘experts’ didn’t often 
bother, and then convinced a new generation of numismatists 
why they should care. His level of understanding was supreme, 
his eye for detail unparalleled, and his willingness to 
share information extraordinary. And so friendly was he 
to the community that the name ‘Jules’ was invoked by 
numismatists from coast to coast when arguments needed 
to be settled.”

To read the full press release, see:


On November 18, the Cybercast News Service reported that
"The atheist who is fighting to take the phrase "under 
God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance filed a lawsuit 
late Thursday seeking to prevent the U.S. government 
from printing the national motto -- "In God We Trust" 
-- on any future coins or paper money."

"The defendants named in the 35-page document include 
the members of Congress, Treasury Secretary John Snow, 
U.S. Mint Director Henrietta Fore and Thomas Ferguson, 
director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing."

To read the complete story, see:


Roger Burdette writes: “To expand a bit on Dick Johnson's 
expedition into Tiffany's medal archives. Dr. George F. 
Kunz was a VP at Tiffany's during the early part of the 
twentieth century. Although his primary title was 
associated with gems and minerals, he also ran the very 
lucrative medal department that was supervised by Karl 
Kunz was an avid numismatist and had connections to 
the Smithsonian and Museum of Natural History in NY. 
He was known to Theodore Roosevelt through TR's interest 
in mineral collecting. He was a buddy of ANS benefactor 
Huntington and headed the ANS committee on new coinage 
designs. Kunz was a direct advisor to President Roosevelt 
on the Saint-Gaudens designs. He and Hanwebber met with 
Roosevelt on several occasions in 1906 and 1907. He 
was put on the 1907 Assay Commission specifically to 
gain inside knowledge of the Philadelphia Mint and 
was likely, along with Victor Brenner who was also 
on the Assay Commission, one of the first people to 
see the MCMVII extremely high relief gold double 
eagles made in early February 1907.
Many of the Saint-Gaudens and related specimens in 
the ANS collection were provided by Kunz, contrary 
to what the item tags might say. He actively solicited 
specimens of the new gold coins from Mint Directors 
Roberts, Leach and Secretary Cortelyou, and it is 
probably through Kunz' efforts that the progress 
strike electrotypes of the EHR coins still exist.
Kunz remained active in numismatics through 1917 and 
played a minor role in approving the 1916 silver coin 
designs, even reviewing the work and making suggestions 
for changes to Hermon MacNeil and Adolph Weinman.
Kunz' personal papers are scattered between the 
Smithsonian AMNH, Museum of American History (NY), 
ANS (in the Huntington papers) and Tiffany's archive, 
although much of his numismatic writing appears to 
have been lost. Readers of my book "Renaissance of 
American Coinage 1916-1921" and the next volume 
covering 1905-1908 (planned for release in Feb. 2006) 
will find George Kunz and Tiffany's medal department 
involved throughout the coinage redesign project. 
(George Kunz' continuing reputation is in gems and 
minerals. Over time, his writings have been sifted 
and diced and edited to where his work at Tiffany's 
and ANS have been almost completely obscured. He 
published nothing in numismatics under his own name, 
although he appears to have collaborated with many 
well-known numismatic authors.)


Regarding Dr. George F. Kunz of Tiffany's, Roger 
Burdette adds: “I have several letters of his 
indicating that he was involved in "brokering" coin 
sales between people who owned some of the Saint-Gaudens 
extremely high relief experimental medal-coins. The 
earliest letter is from 1908 and the latest from 1915. 
He was also curator of Numismatics for the American Museum
Of Natural History in New York and arranged for the 
loan of the Mint's plaster models and gold coins for 
a 1908 Saint-Gaudens memorial exhibit.”

[Saint-Gaudens’ son Homer was associated with the Carnegie 
Museum in Pittsburgh.  I recall a story told by Glenn Mooney, 
one of the local volunteer curators who worked alongside 
head curator W.W. Woodside.   Glenn said that Homer had 
arranged to donate an extremely high relief double eagle 
to the Museum’s collection.   For a time to coin was 
misplaced and no one could locate it.  Eventually it turned 
up in the reference library – someone (probably Woodside 
himself) had accidentally closed a reference book with 
the coin inside.  It was an embarrassing lapse, but everyone 
got a chuckle out of it at Woodside’s expense.   I assume 
this coin was part of the holdings sold when the Museum 
dispersed the bulk of the collection in the late 70s/early 
80s.   With these coins selling now in the multi-millions, 
it would have made for an interesting find in the stacks 
of the library (the coin department’s reference library 
was transferred to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in 
the early 80s).  -Editor]


Regarding Nick Graver’s query on coin dealers appearing 
on medals, Pete Smith writes: “I have a 375 page manuscript 
on “Personal Tokens and Medals of American Numismatists.” 
At last count I listed about 6500 items. Many of these 
are for coin dealers and include club medals, Civil War 
tokens, encased coins, elongated coins, plastic tokens, 
wooden nickels, silver bars and similar stuff.

Many of these pieces identify the individual as a coin 
(or token) dealer. There are also things like wedding 
medals for the same people that do not identify them 
as dealers.

There are also coin dealer tokens and medal for firms 
(like Heritage or Superior) that do not include a 
personal name. I have accumulated a few but have not 
produced a listing.”


Scott Semans writes: “As I suspected from the bit you 
quoted, they are discussing Ramatankas, or temple tokens 
here, not actual coins issued by Sikh rulers.  The "dates"
carried on such pieces are fictitious or have numerological 
significance; they do not represent year of issue.  We 
can always hope that those who find attic treasures will 
continue researching them past the point of learning
that they are considered ordinary by collectors - and 
before they rush to the local newspaper to tout their finds!”


In our last issue, Nancy Green wrote: “…fuse boxes 
require copper coins to make the connection. Nickel does 
not conduct electricity.”

Ray Williams and Joe Boling pointed out that this is 
not correct.  Joe writes: “ I beg to differ - nickel 
DOES conduct electricity. The specific resistance of 
nickel is 4.48 times that of copper, but it is NOT a 
dielectric. And in the second place, a "nickel" is 75% 
copper anyway. Now, it may be true that nickels do not 
do well in fuse boxes - but that would be because the 
nickel oxide on the surface has a much higher resistance 
than the metallic nickel under it. “

John Nebel writes: "Nickel (14.6) is quite conductive, 
more so than iron (11.2). provides 
a great reference, the elements traditionally used 
in coinage are in group 11 and clustered around it 
and are generally conductive.

As with most anything there are degrees, copper (60.7) 
is one of the best conductors, only silver (62.9) is 
more conductive.  Mercury (1.0), far less conductive 
than nickel, has been heavily used for switching - in 
thermostats, for example, a bimetallic coil tilts a 
glass bulb and a blob of liquid mercury completes or 
breaks the connection.  More recently, that mechanism 
has been replaced with electronics using silicon (.0004), 
normally not a conductor, but fortunately with certain 
impurities added it semi-is or there wouldn't be modern 

Gar Travis adds: “Everything you wanted to know about 
nickel including conductivity...”

[So please don’t take this as a green light to put 
nickels or any other coin in your fuse box in place of a 
fuse.  We don’t want to burn down any numismatic libraries.  
Growing up, my family’s house had one of the old-style 
fuse boxes with the screw-in type fuses.  Thank goodness 
my Dad never got the brilliant idea to use a coin for a 
temporary fuse.  Newer homes usually have the breaker-style 
fuses that don’t lend themselves to this sort of shortcut.   
I assume building codes in most areas require the newer 
style fuse boxes, so perhaps this dangerous use of coins 
will go by the wayside over time.  –Editor]


Regarding Dave Ginsberg's request for information on the 
circulation of gold coins, Henry Bergos writes: "I had a 
friend who was a railroad engineer in Panama DURING the 
digging of the canal.  He told me that the "anglos" were 
paid in gold and the Panamanians were paid in silver at
one-half the amount for the same work. I don't know when 
Dick Luce died but I estimate that he was born around 1883. 
I knew him around 1963."


This week's featured web site is Reid Goldsborough's
site on "The Dangerous, Controversial, and Fascinating
World of Counterfeit Coins", suggested by John and 
Nancy Wilson, Ocala, FL.  They write: "Here is a site 
you might want to use on the weekly E-Sylum.  It is has 
excellent information along with high quality copies of 
counterfeit U. S. and foreign coins."

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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Numismatic Bibliomania Society, 
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