The E-Sylum v8#45, October 23, 2005
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Sun Oct 23 19:02:46 PDT 2005
Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 8, Number 45, October 23, 2005:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2005, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Among our recent subscribers are Jim DeWitt and Dorel Balaita.
Welcome aboard! We now have 810 subscribers.
Your Editor had an unusual experience while driving home
from a coin club meeting this past Tuesday. While tooling
down the highway the road became suddenly filled with
bouncing hunks of gravel and dirt - a landslide. I kept my
eye on the road and plowed ahead, luckily escaping any
damage beyond some scratches to my car. Traffic stopped
behind me and I called 911 to report the incident.
As a bibliophile, I always figured that if I were to meet my end
being squashed by surprise, that it would be bookshelves
crashing down, not a hillside. I guess it's not too late to get
around to anchoring those shelves behind me... Pennsylvania
isn't exactly earthquake territory, but little ones have happened.
Speaking of 9-1-1, the sellers of the "9/11 Freedom Tower"
coin we've discussed in the past have been fined for making
misleading statements in their marketing materials for the piece.
Dick Johnson adds some comments on the topic, and I tend
to agree with him that lawmakers are going a little too far in
their zeal to protect the public.
Closer to the hearts of bibliophiles is an update on the future
of the Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum (SNG) series.
We love to help numismatic researchers, and subscribers have
posted three interesting research questions this week, along with
new stories relating to medals and counterfeiting, which seems to
always be in the news these days.
"Mite" is our numismatic vocabulary word this week, but with
an alternate definition many may not have heard before. Finally,
learn why a lot of British consumers won't be hiding the traditional
sixpence in their Christmas pudding this year.
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
SNG PROJECT UPDATE
Rick Witschonke writes: "The October 2005 newsletter from the
International Numismatic Commission includes an interesting item
on the future of the SNG that I thought might be of interest."
In the newsletter, Harald Nilsson, Chairman SNG Sub-Committee
of the INC writes:
"It has become more and more evident that the series of Sylloge
Nummorum Graecorum (SNG), now rapidly coming close to
200 published volumes since its beginning in 1931, faces a new
world. We have come far from the end of the 19th century and
its publishing standards that were the background for Sir Edward
Stanley Robinson when he started the SNG series for the British
Academy. His aim was to publish every coin with photo and a
small amount of information in a very standardised way in order
to make smaller and less well known collections known to the
collectors and and the scholarly world. He also thought that the
publication should be quick and make the Greek coins easily
available for research. He was inspired by the series Corpus
Vasorum Antiquorum (CVA), started just a few years before,
from which he also took the very big format of the books."
"Looking to the situation today we find that we have two
diverging perspectives. On the one hand, the use of computers
and the digitising of collections have increased the speed with
which we can work and also communicate our information to
fellow researchers. On the other hand, however, in spite of the
possibilities that the data world offers, the cost of publication
has increased immensely to such a degree that even big and
rather fortunate collections have decided to stop publishing their
[After a number of meetings ...] "further strength was given to
considerations of how to publish volumes only on the web,
how to avoid the same coin appearing in several connections
if it has for example been moved from one collection to another
and also how to know when corrections are made to the
descriptions of the published coins ('editions').
"There also seems to be a possibility of applying for EU
financial support for the Series and a common homepage for
all SNG projects where one can find information on published
volumes and where to buy them as well as the contents of the
digitised SNG volumes."
[To subscribe to the International Numismatic Commission
e-News, send a mail to zaech.cin-inc at gmx.net with
the message "subcribe" -Editor]
FREEDOM TOWER "COIN" SELLER FINED
On Wednesday, October 19, ConsumerAffairs.com reported
that "A New York court has ordered the promoters of the "9/11
Freedom Tower" coin scam to pay nearly $370,000 in penalties...
New York Supreme Court Justice Thomas McNamara ordered
National Collectors Mint (NCM) to pay civil penalties totaling
$369,510 in connection with its marketing and sale of its "Freedom
Tower Silver Dollar." The company has already refunded more
than $2 million to consumers who fell for the scam."
"In September 2004, NCM began an extensive advertising
campaign for the "Freedom Tower" coin on television, in
magazines and on its website. The ads depicted the coin as
a "legally authorized government issue silver dollar" and as
a "U.S. territorial minting" from the Commonwealth of the
Northern Mariana Islands.
In fact, the coin is not a government-issued silver dollar at all,
but was manufactured and issued by a private company. The
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands uses U.S.
currency and is not authorized to mint legal tender."
The ads also claimed that the coin was made of pure silver
from silver bars recovered at Ground Zero during recovery
operations. Spitzer’s lawsuit showed, however, that the
medallion is not made of pure or solid silver, but is an
inexpensive metal alloy plated with approximately one
ten-thousandth of an inch of silver valued at approximately
The question of whether the silver used in the medallion is
actually from Ground Zero was not involved in the lawsuit."
To read the full article, see:
To read a related Association Press article in Newsday, see:
Dick Johnson writes: "A chill descended over medal manufacturers
and medal publishers this week as the New York State Supreme
Court fined a Westchester, NY, firm $369,510 for its "Freedom
Tower Dollars" it issued following 9/11. The firm claimed the
collectors’ items were a $39 item which it offered to the public
Two salient points were brought out in the trial by New York
Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. In addition to false advertising,
it also proclaimed the pieces offered were "worth less than a
penny and a half in metal." The latter point should not have been
considered. Is there five cents worth of paper in a $75 textbook?
Customers of the National Collector's Mint Inc., based in Port
Chester, New York, ordered the medals based on their design
and event commemorated. Once the state nannies stepped in
and publicized the value of the METAL in the medals, their
interests in the pieces were shaken. One out five of those who
purchased the collectors’ item sought refunds.
This writer emailed the firm asking for the quantity sold and
the number redeemed. By week’s end the firm had not answered.
From other published sources I have learned sales were
approximately $11 million on 550,000 pieces sold; $2.2 million
on 110,000 pieces redeemed (or orders canceled).
The company claimed the coin was a "U.S. Territorial Minting"
from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, but
the islands use U.S. currency and are not authorized to mint
legal tender. ... "Most importantly, each coin has been created
using .999 pure silver recovered from ground zero!"
"The fact that the silver used was recovered at Ground Zero
after 9/11 was not challenged by the attorney general, nor
was it questioned in any finding by the court."
Earlier in E-Sylum (vol 8 no 31) July 17, 2005, when this
law suit was announced, I stated my opinion in an item titled
"Save Me From the "Do-Gooders." The nanny state of New
York is now emboldened to determine what can be stated
when a new medal is issued – and you better not make too
U.S. MINT COIN ASSAY QUESTION
Rich Kelly & Nancy Oliver writes: "We have a question to ask
your readers to see if anyone can help us out and solve this
mystery for us. Before the turn of the century, San Francisco
mint ledgers often noted that certain coins were sent to
Philadelphia and/or Washington for assay or for special assay.
Does anyone know if these assay coins were included in the
mint director's reports for that years coin mintages, or were
they not included since they were not released for circulation?
We would really appreciate any information anyone can provide.
GOLD COIN CIRCULATION INFO SOUGHT
Dave Ginsberg writes: "I'm researching how gold coins were
used in commerce in the 19th century (especially pre-1879)
and am hoping that the readers of the E-Sylum can suggest
some sources for me. What would be ideal, of course, would
be a "Fractional Money" equivalent that focused on gold
coins instead of silver coins, but lacking that, I'm looking for
diaries, travelogues or other first person sources that mention
spending gold coins or commercial or business histories that
discuss how commerce was conducted in the 19th century.
I'm looking to answer questions such as: "How were government
employees paid?" "How did a housekeeper settle his/her monthly
or quarterly bill at the general store or butcher?" etc. All
suggestions are welcome. Thanks."
THOUGHTS ON KOLBE SALE #98
Just a few items I'd like to note in the latest sale catalog
from George Kolbe:
Lot 15: An original "Martin Nathaniel Daycius" flyer
announcing the April 1, 1992 sale of numismatic books
and catalogs at 1204 Magnolia St. in Ft. Worth, TX.
This is R.E. Vail's copy of the famous April Fool's Day
joke that targeted U.S. numismatic bibliophiles.
Coincidentally, I located my own copy of this mailing
the other day. Handwriting and DNA analysis is
underway to determine the source of the prank....
Lot 115: The E-Sylum gets credit in this lot for
background information on Author Lynn Glaser,
from Bob Leonard's August 21, 2005 submission
regarding Glaser's "Cartographic Crime" The 2004
date in the catalog is a typo.
Lot 353: "The World's Worst Plated Parmelee Sale."
William H. Woodin's copy of this landmark sale
became waterlogged at one time, leaving it in a
NATIONAL BANK LAW INFORMATION SOUGHT
Bob Neale writes: "I have tried searching the Internet, thus far
without success, for the specific source of the prohibition on
national bank note titles for using the terms "United States National
Bank" or "Federal National Bank", except for grandfathered banks.
Does anyone know the law or regulation of congress or any
other US government arm that drew this prohibition? I assume
it arose around the time of the Aldrich-Vreeland or Federal
Reserve Acts, or quite possibly later, but cannot even say that
for sure. And I cannot find the text of the A-V act on the Internet.
I would therefore greatly appreciate any specific citations that
E-Sylum readers can provide."
TRAFALGAR MEDAL TO BE SOLD
An article in the Cambridge Evening News reports that
"A piece of history commemorating the Battle of Trafalgar
is to be auctioned.
The rare medal will be sold just three days before the
200th anniversary of Lord Nelson's finest moment.
Expected to fetch more than £10,000, it was forgotten for
years until it was discovered in a village just outside Cambridge.
Experts from Bonhams, where the medal will be sold on
Tuesday, are keeping the location of the find secret, but said
it had been discovered in a box of ordinary coins."
"The medal was awarded to Commander Edward Garrett,
a distant relative of the current seller.
It is thought no more than 5,000 of the medals were awarded
and Garrett's is particularly rare because it also features one
of only five bars awarded for service on the Onyx."
To read the full article (and view an image of the medal) see:
TRAFALGAR COMMEMORATIVE COIN ISSUED
On Wednesday, October 19, the BBC News reported that
"The Royal Mint is marking the 200th anniversary of the Battle
of Trafalgar with two commemorative £5 crowns.
A portrait by James Butler of Nelson in the uniform of a Vice
Admiral with the dates 1805 and 2005 features on the reverse
of the first coin.
A companion piece designed by Clive Duncan details a battle
The signal sent by Nelson ahead of Trafalgar - "England
expects that every man will do his duty" - is inscribed on the
edge of the collector's items."
"The portrait of The Queen on the crowns by Ian Rank-Broadley
is the same design that has appeared on UK coinage since 1998. "
To view the full article (and view an image of one of the coins) see:
CANADIAN VICTORIA CROSS FINDS A HOME
Another Victoria Cross has found a home in a museum,
this time in Canada:
"The Canadian War Museum has unveiled a new attraction --
the First World War Victoria Cross of Captain Francis
A Montreal native who studied medicine at McGill University
before the war, Scrimger served with the Royal Montreal
Regiment (14th Battalion) during the Second Battle of Ypres.
Scrimger was the first medical officer to receive the British
Commonwealth's highest military decoration for bravery and
gallantry, after he conducted the evacuation of a medical station
in what is believed to have been the first use of poisonous
gas in battle.
In April 1915, When German forces unleashed the deadly
chlorine gas on Allied forces in Belgium, Scrimger instructed
the men in his battalion to breathe through moistened
Because the gas was water-soluble, his advice was credited
with saving many lives."
On Monday, Scrimger's descendants donated his rare medal
-- alongside two other medals he received -- to the War
Museum in Ottawa."
"Only 94 Canadians have ever been honoured with the
To read the full article, see:
MOVING STORY OF THE CHARLOTTE MINT
This news item was published on October 22: "Looking back
in history on this day in 1936, Charlotte's Mint Museum opened.
It was North Carolina's first art museum, and it already had a
It was built 100 years earlier as the first branch of the United
States Mint. That is where coins were made from the output
of the Carolina gold rush.
In 1837, President Andrew Jackson appointed John Wheeler
Hill as the mint's first superintendent. Hill's salary was $2,000
The mint shut down during the Civil War but was used as a
Confederate headquarters and hospital. After the war it was
used as an assay office, until it closed for good in 1913.
The building was scheduled for demolition, but a citizens group
raised the money to move it. They had it dismantled brick by
brick on West Trade Street and relocated the building to its
current location on Randolph Road."
[I didn't realize the Charlotte Mint building had been moved.
Has that happened with any other U.S Mint buildings? Have
any other Mints around the world been moved? -Editor]
A THEORY ON ROMAN GOLD IN BRITAIN
Arthur Shippee forwarded the following story which was
noted in The Explorator newsletter:
"More Roman gold is found in Britain than anywhere else
- and now a Welsh academic has come up with an intriguing
theory explaining why.
Thousands of gold and silver artifacts from the Roman period,
especially when the conquerors finally left these islands in the
4th and 5th centuries.
Dr Peter Guest, of Cardiff University's School of History and
Archaeology, is the leading expert on the biggest ever Roman
gold treasure discovered in Britain. In 1992, 15,000 gold and
silver coins were found at Hoxne in Suffolk in 1992.
In a lecture, Dr Guest is to propose that the large amounts of
Roman gold and silver buried beneath our feet could be because
something happened in the late Empire similar to the abolition
of the gold standard in the 1930s."
"Dr Guest explained that the gold mostly comes from a 50-year
period towards the end of Roman occupation.
He said, "Before then, Britain is not very special, but in that
50-year phase, which coincides with the end of Roman control,
lots of stuff is found."
"We had been part of the Empire for 350 years by that time,
which is a very long time.
"It happened very suddenly and it might have been quite violent
and one of the reasons for the huge amount of gold and silver
is related to this separation."
To read the complete article, see
LOST LIBRARY AS A SYMBOL
Yossi Dotan writes: "The story in last week's E-Sylum on the
library of old books in Nepal that was completely sealed reminded
me of the Jewish Museum at the Judenplatz (Jews Square) in
On the square in front of the museum is the very impressive
Memorial to Austrian Holocaust Victims. As told in an article
"The Virtual Jewish History Tour – Vienna" by Rebecca Weiner
on the website Jewish Virtual Library (A Division of The
American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise),
"Unveiled in 2000, the reinforced concrete cube resembles a
library of 7,000 volumes turned inside out. The doors are locked
and the books face inwards. The base of the memorial has the
names of the places where 65,000 Austrian Jews were murdered
by the Nazis. Created by British artist Rachel Witeread, the
memorial's barred room and books that cannot be read represent
the loss of those who were murdered."
To read the full text, see:
NUMISMATIC CRUMBS AND GENEALOGICAL RESEARCH
Every now and them a book listed for sale catches my eye because
of an unusual connection to numismatics. This week I came across
an offering of "The Old Countess of Desmond: An Inquiry (concluded),
When was she Married? with Numismatic Crumbs" The book is by
Richard Sainthill and was published in 1863. It has 105 pages and
two small folding charts.
I asked the seller, Tuttle Antiquarian Books (tuttbook at sover.net),
about the book and its numismatic content, and they replied: "It's a
genealogical reference book. The reference to Numismatic Crumbs
starts on page 83-94 and talks about various medals or coinages
such as Royal Academy Turner Medal, Medal for Sir David Wilkie,
Marriage Medals of Their Royal Highnesses The Prince and
Princess of Wales, Coin of the Empress Elizabeth of Russia, etc."
VOCABULARY WORD: MITE
Leafing through "Benjamin Franklin's Library," a 1937 book by
Austin Grey on the Library Company of Philadelphia, I came
across this passage:
"... I cannot withhold from contributing my Mite." The "Mite"
was a bill of exchange for sixty pounds, worth in those days
$1,000 - the first monetary gift to the Library. The donor of
the "Mite" was Dr. Walter Sydserfe, an aged physician ..."
I know the definition of Mite as a small coin (as in "Widow's
Mite"), but had never heard it used in the context of paper
money before. Are any of you familiar with this use of the term?
COUNTERFEIT CASH SEIZED IN NEW ZEALAND
Dr K.A. Rodgers of Auckland, New Zealand sent us this
story, which was published on October 20:
"An alleged smuggler was caught with almost $US1.3 million
in counterfeit notes at Auckland International Airport yesterday.
Comptroller of Customs Martyn Dunne said the 46-year-old
New Zealand resident was intercepted at the airport after arriving
Customs officers had identified him as "a person of interest" on
arrival and a search of his baggage revealed bundles of counterfeit
"This is one of the biggest seizures of forged bank notes conducted
by Customs officers at our borders for some time," Mr Dunne said."
To read the complete story, see:
EURO BANKNOTE AND COIN COUNTERFEITS
According to a report from Rome October 20, "During the first
half of 2005 the finance ministry reports a 20.21 pc increase in
reported euro banknote ad coin fakes YOY. The 50 euro banknotes
are a prime choice for forgers, but quite surprisingly there has been
a surge in false 50 cent coins."
"The majority of false banknotes were taken off the market in north
and central Italy. The 50 euro banknote accounts for 75.55 pc of
the forged market total worth (2,224,250 euro). Counter to 2003-04
statistics forgers have shifted their interest from 1 and 2 euro coins
towards 50 cent coins."
To read the full article, see:
XEROX COUNTERFEIT DETERRENCE SYSTEM
Adrián González Salinas of Monterrey, Nuevo León, México
writes: "I just read the following note and I thought it may be
interesting to The E-Sylum readers. [The article is from the
Sydney Morning Herald, October 18. -Editor]:
"The Electronic Frontier Foundation says it has deciphered a
code of colored dots used in Xerox's DocuColor under an
agreement with the US federal government. Xerox agreed to
program its printer to put encoded dots on all documents so
federal investigators could track the source of counterfeit currency.
The dots appear in an 8 x 15 grid visible only under a magnifying
glass or blue light, and give the date and time of a print-out and
the serial number of the printer that made it."
"The dots are visible only with a magnifying glass or under blue
light, which causes them to appear black.
By analysing test pages printed out by supporters worldwide
and by staffers at various FedEx Kinko's locations, researchers
found that some of the dots corresponded to the printers' serial
numbers. Other dots refer to the date and time of the printing."
To read the complete article, see:
MORE STAMPS ON COINS
Yossi Dotan writes: "Last week's E-Sylum had Dick Johnson's
story of a stamp of the coin. Other examples of stamps on
coins are the following:
British Virgin Islands
125th Anniversary of Death of Rowland Hill
KM-284 5 dollars 2004 .990 red titanium
KM-285 75 dollars 2004 .990 red titanium center
in .999 gold ring
The reverse depicts the 1 cent stamp of 1856 of British Guiana
(now Guyana). It was printed in British Guiana in black ink on
magenta (purplish red) paper by order of the postmaster of the
colony, when the stock of regular stamps of the colony was sold
out before arrival of a fresh shipment from the London printers.
(The red color of the titanium coins alludes to the color of the
stamp). The stamp was initialed by a post office employee as
a security measure. The only stamp known of this issue was
discovered in 1873 by Vernon Vaughan, a 12-year-old schoolboy
living in Georgetown, British Guiana. It is the world’s rarest stamp,
and was sold in 1980 for $935,000. The coin honors Rowland
Hill (1795-1879), an English schoolmaster who in 1837 published
a pamphlet "Post Office Reform: Its Importance and Practicability,"
in which he proposed the use of pre-printed envelopes and
adhesive postage stamps to indicate prepayment of postage. Hill’s
plan also called for a uniform low postage rate to anywhere in the
British Isles, instead of a much higher variable rate depending on
distance and the number of sheets of paper that was paid by the
receiver. Hill’s invention, for which he was knighted, made
communication by mail by the masses both affordable and practical,
and resulted in the issue of the first stamp in the world in England
Isle of Man
150th Anniversary of "Penny Black" Stamp
KM-267 1 crown 1990 "pearl black" copper-nickel, issued
also in .925 silver, .917 gold and .950 platinum
The reverse depicts the black one penny stamp issued by
Great Britain in 1840. (The special black finish of the coin
alludes to the color of the stamp). Adhesive stamps became
possible when Sir Rowland Hill devised the system of uniform
penny postage to make it easy for the public to mail letters
when post offices were not open. The system came into
operation Jan. 10, 1840. The first adhesive stamp, the so-called
Penny Black, became valid for English postage May 6, 1840.
The British Treasury held a nationwide competition in 1839 to
obtain suitable stamp designs, but Hill's own suggestion of using
Queen Victoria's profile (based on the classic Wyon medallic
portrait) was finally adopted. It proved so popular it was used
on every British stamp until 1902! The "Pearl Black" technique
was a pioneering metal concept by the Pobjoy Mint. It created
a black coloration in either copper-nickel or silver by introducing
new alloying technology developed over several years by mint
engineers in Sutton, England."
[And here's another one - this weekend's Pennsylvania Association
of Numismatists show featured an elongated cent with the stamp
picturing Benjamin Franklin. -Editor]
COIN INDUSTRY, COIN FIELD, COIN WORLD
Dick Johnson writes: "On the use of the term "coin industry",
perhaps "coin field" would be a better term -- or even, would
you believe? – "coin world."
Incidentally, you numismatic bibliophiles, does anyone still have
a copy of the Coin World parody "Coin Whirl"? I saw it only
fleetingly at a coin show once. Authorship was denied by everyone,
but I suspect it was a creation of Robert Bashlow (who died in
1976, so it would have been more than 30 years ago)."
[I'm never seen the "Coin Whirl" item. Does anyone out there
recall it? -Editor]
A PUDDING AND A SIXPENCE
An October 18 article in The Telegraph mentions a
coin-related promotional scheme gone awry:
"A supermarket's hopes of selling Christmas puddings with
"lucky sixpences" inside has fallen foul of health and safety laws.
Sainsbury, which has spent months scouring Britain for the
coins, says it is not allowed to insert them into the puddings
because they "constitute a choking hazard".
"We can't supply the coin already mixed into the pudding,"
a spokesman said. "Instead we have provided a collector's
card with the coin attached that you can place under a plate
or table mat for one lucky friend or family member to find."
Because many shop-bought Christmas puddings are now
heated in a microwave oven, leaving metal coins in the mix
could be dangerous, the store added.
Sixpences, which were withdrawn from circulation in 1971
but remained legal tender until 1980, and other good luck
charms have been added to Christmas puddings for more
than 500 years."
To read the full article, see:
"It was common practice to include small silver coins in the
pudding mixture, which could be kept by the person whose
serving included them. The usual choice was a silver 3d piece,
or a sixpence. However this practice fell away once real silver
coins were not available, as it was believed that alloy coins
would taint the pudding."
SUSPECT EATS THE EVIDENCE
Speaking of eating money, an October 18 article in The
Moscow News reports that "A suspected drug-dealer who
was caught trying to bribe a policeman tried to destroy the
evidence by eating the money..."
The man from the Far East city of Ussurisk has been charged
with growing drug-containing plants and offered 100,000 rubles
(about $3,000) to an investigator for the charges to be dropped."
"He managed to eat one banknote before being arrested and
charged with attempting to bribe a public official.
The head of the internal security department, Colonel Ivan Chaika,
said that this was not the first time someone had tried to bribe one
of his men, but it was the first time he could remember someone
ever trying to eat the evidence."
To read the full story, see:
FEATURED WEB SITE
Our Featured Web Site is suggested by Roger deWardt Lane,
who writes: "I'm having quite a time researching a piece of
German Emergency money and have looked at quite a few
web sites. I found a small one with a few notes. I use Google
translation to show it in English."
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 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 North America,
$20 elsewhere. For those without web access,
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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