The E-Sylum v9#15, April 9, 2006
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Sun Apr 9 18:51:51 PDT 2006
Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 9, Number 15, April 9, 2006:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Among our recent subscribers are Neil Berman, J.S.G. Boggs, and
Chris Jones. Welcome aboard! We now have 873 subscribers.
I'm sad to report that we lead off this week's issue with word
of the loss of two of our hobby's leading lights, R.A.G. Carson
and William Dewey. Our thoughts go out to their families and
A family vacation has cut into my editing time this week, so
some submissions which arrived over the weekend could not be
included in this issue and will be held for the next issue
In the correction department, the author of the Coin World article
about Bill Himmelwright and his shop was MICHELE Orzano, not Michael.
My apologies to Michele. I know better, but it was a typo I shouldn't
have let happen.
Arthur Shippee noted that I'd forgotten to include the link to the
source of the 2003 article on the half a million Purple Heart medals
remaining unissued at the end of World War II. Sorry - it's
In a correction of a correction, Tom Delorey notes that "The
Denver Mint produced regular issue Dimes, Quarters, Half Dollars,
Half Eagles, Eagles and Double Eagles in 1906." Ray Flanigan's note
stated that the Denver Mint "produced the first coins in 1907."
Neil Shafer also reported this one.
Some of you figured out that the item from the MPCGram was an
April Fool's joke. One reader wrote: "Surely the new military
money grading service, which was announced April 1, is just that,
another April 1 joke? POGS? Come on..."
Last week's mention of an ancient coin counterfeiting technique
prompts Dick Johnson to discuss firebranding and galvanoplasty,
Allan Davisson provides some background information on the
recently-sold 1575 £20 gold piece of James VI, and Alan Weinberg
provides some interesting anecdotes about John Ford bidding at
New numismatic products debuting or on their way include a "pink
quarter" from Canada and Mozambique debates new coin and banknote
designs as part of a proposed currency revaluation.
In other news, the WWII medals discovered last week in a service
station basement have been returned to the recipient's family, a
businessman in Marco Island, Florida adopts the Liberty Dollar,
and a Canberra mint worker is caught smuggling coins in his
And to learn how a group of Germans hoped to turn decades-old
Franklin Mint products into a million dollar profit, read on.
Have a great week, everyone.
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
OBITUARY: WILLIAM DEWEY 1905-2006
Former American Numismatic Association Librarian William Dewey
passed away this week at the age of 100.
Jim Majoros, President, Ocean County Coin Club writes: "Bill
Dewey celebrated his 100th birthday on Dec 5, 2005, it is sad to
say that Bill passed away on Sunday, April 2nd at the nursing home
in Woodcliff Lake, NJ, where he had been for a number of years.
Bill, a professional engineer by trade and a direct descendent of
Admiral George Dewey, had a long and remarkable life with interests
in numismatics that began in 1932.
These interests led him to research and writing about a number of
subjects, primarily the Bergen Iron Works Tokens and Early Manchester
and William Torrey. He took to numismatics just as a fish takes to
water and was the ANA librarian in the late thirties. He co-founded
the Westchester County (NY) Coin Club and received the Numismatic
Ambassador Award amongst many other individual recognitions.
Just recently, he was honored with two special citations on his
100th birthday, presented by ANA president Bill Horton at the Nursing
home. A number of members of New Jersey's Ocean County Coin Club
will always remember Bill for his dedication and interests in the
club and its members, consistently being available to discuss some
of his numismatic findings at the club's "show & tell" sessions.
Bill Dewey has been missed the past twenty years ever since he
moved to his nursing home in north Jersey and he will continue
to be missed by all who knew him. He never forgot us and we will
never forget him.
Bill's daughter, Autumn said there will be a memorial service on
Sunday, April 23, 2006 at 1 pm at the 1st Congregational Church in
River Edge, NJ (off exit 161 of the Garden State Parkway to Route 4)
for those who would like to attend. Cards may be sent to Mr.& Mrs.
Robert H. Owens at 390 Fifth Ave, River Edge, NJ 07661."
David Gladfelter adds: "He was ANA librarian in 1940 when the 51
year index to the Numismatist was published, and was on the
committee that published it. In 1987 he received the Krause
Numismatic Ambassador award. I believe he won a Heath Award from
the ANA for articles in the Numismatist on his relative, Admiral
George Dewey. He had a fine collection of Admiral Dewey medals.
He wrote 2 books on New Jersey historical subjects, "Early
Manchester and William Torrey," in 1982 and "The Bergen Iron
Works and its Tokens" published by the Ocean County (N.J.)
Historical Society in 1989. He won the Society of Paper Money
Collectors literary award in 1984 for a series of articles on
the S. W. and W. A. Torrey railroad scrip, and again in 1998
for an article (with me) on Bergen Iron Works scrip. He was a
professional engineer who retired in 1966. And was a hell of
David also forwarded the following from the introduction to
Dewey's first book. David's comments are in brackets : "Born
in New York City in 1905 and educated in Mt. Vernon public schools,
Mr. Dewey received his Bachelor of Science degree in electrical
engineering in 1927 from Union College in Schenectady, New York.
A licensed professional engineer in New York, he retired in 1966
after many years of service in the engineering department of
New York Telephone."
"He has been honored many times for his varied activities, among
those of which he is most proud -- the Gold Medal Award from the
Alumni Council, Union College; President Emeritus, Cruiser Olympia
Association of Philadelphia [the Cruiser Olympia was Admiral Dewey's
flag ship in the Spanish-American war, now docked at the Philadelphia
waterfront]; honorary membership in the Bergen County (N. J.) Coin
Club; and the Heath Literary Award of the American Numismatic
Association in 1959."
"While active in research and uncovering past mysteries, Mr. Dewey
still enjoys the violin and though he no longer participates in
lacrosse and cross country running as he did in school [that must
be why we hit it off], keeps in excellent physical shape with brisk
walks and exercise."
Bob Mitchell writes: "I first contacted Bill around April 1974,
when I was stationed in Ethiopia. My aunt had sent me a newspaper
clipping about a man that was researching the "Torrey" family.
She knew that I had collected the Torrey scrip and I immediately
wrote Bill. His reply dated May 12th arrived soon afterwards, and
we started our exchange of information and many years of friendship
Bill told me in a letter dated Dec 13, 1996 that he was sorry to
have had to turn over all his records and collections and stop
research and writing. (Torrey stuff went to the Lakehurst Historical
Society, and I believe some of the notes went to a fellow NJ collector
with the stipulation they be donated to the Ocean County Historical
Society upon his death). Bill had just turned 91 and said he was
thankful to be alive and still be able to add 2+2. And he only
complained about increasing difficulty in hearing! He was such an
energetic man in mind and spirit, certainly an example for all of
us to live by.
I think I have every letter Bill wrote me since 1974 because we
exchanged so much information on our mutual interests in the Ocean
County money and scrip. Now I can look them over and enjoy the
memories he left me with."
To read previous E-Sylum items on Bill Dewey, see:
OBITUARY: R.A.G. CARSON, 1918-2006
On April 3 The Independent of London published an obituary of
British Museum curator and Roman coin expert R.A. G. Carson:
"Robert Andrew Glendinning Carson, museum curator and numismatist:
born Kirkcudbright 7 April 1918; Assistant Keeper, Department of
Coins and Medals, British Museum 1947-65, Deputy Keeper 1965-78,
Keeper 1978-83; FBA 1980;"
"Robert Carson was the leading British expert of his generation
on Roman coins. He joined the staff of the British Museum as
Assistant Keeper of Roman Coins in the Department of Coins and
Medals in 1947, a few months after his life-long colleague Kenneth
Jenkins, an expert in Greek coins."
"Their arrival coincided with the start of the slow recovery of
the museum from the effects of the Second World War, when most
of the staff had left to take part in the war effort and the
collections were evacuated from London. The fabric of the museum,
including the offices of the Coin Department, was much damaged
by bombing and it was not until about 1960 that the department
was able to return to permanent accommodation when its bombed
offices were finally rebuilt."
"Robert Carson was in great demand as a reviewer and also as
an editor. It is typical of his generosity and selflessness that
he spent so much of his own time bringing other people's work to
publication. He was always willing to share his time and expertise,
especially with a younger generation of his colleagues, one of
whom at least has every cause to be grateful for his endless
"After his retirement, Robert Carson and his wife Fransisca
moved to Australia to join one of their children who had emigrated
To read the complete article, see:
ESHBACH STEIGERWALT LITERATURE EXHIBIT IN ATLANTA
NBS President Pete Smith writes: "I just returned from the ANA
Money Show in Atlanta. This show does not have a classification
for numismatic literature exhibits but there was an excellent
literature exhibit in the History and Politics class. The
Numismatic Publications of Charles Trissler Steigerwalt was
placed by John Eshbach. I talked with John briefly about his
research and his unsuccessful search for a photo of Steigerwalts
house. I was not aware of Steigerwalts middle name so I learned
something from the exhibit."
HENRY CHAPMAN LIBRARY REMNANTS FOLLOWUP
Charles Davis writes: "Bob Vail's account of the Henry Chapman
Library discovery published in the latest issue of Penny Wise
has probably resulted in a number of phone calls to the Art
Department of the Philadelphia Free Library from EAC members
hoping to view or acquire some of the holdings.
Bob should have continued the story by noting that he contacted
me and I was able to obtain the library, and it was sold at public
auction at the 1997 ANA Convention in Cleveland. The $100,000
generated was used to set up an endowment for conservation of
needy works in the Free Library's collection.
The Chapman material had laid untouched for over 50 years, hidden
in the Art Department where it was "triple shelved" - eg Chapman
book in the back with an art book in front of it and another art
book in front of that. As the collection had never been
"accessioned," there was no problem in "de-accessioning it." Had
it made it to the library's card file, it would no doubt still be
there tied up in bureaucratic red tape."
NEW $10 BILLS ARE "UGLY", BUT OLD FIVES ARE "NASTY"
We've seen a number of articles with a numismatic theme from
the Daily News of Newburyport relating to the Jacob Perkins
building and the "roofer hoard" of banknotes. On April 5th
the paper published an article on another common theme,
criticism of new designs - in this case, the new U.S. $10 bill.
"Although the new $10 hasn't caused major headaches for local
businesses, some have had to make changes to equipment that
handles the bills.
Bonnie Demars, owner of the Village Washtub Laundromat, had to
change a computerized chip for the washing machines three times
to accommodate the new $10s."
"The new bill is real currency, but many say it looks like
Janette Hill, branch supervisor at TD Banknorth in Newburyport,
said she's had customers make comments.
"Some people like them and some people don't. But a few people
have said it looks like it's been sitting in rusting water,"
she said, referring to the bill's background colors of red,
orange and yellow that look dingy to some.
Teller Amanda Hardy has also had similar responses. "A lot
of people question it because it looks like play money," she
said. "It looks like foreign currency more than anything."
But both agree that the $5 bills need a makeover, too. Hill
said the $5 bills are "nasty;" Hardy said they haven't had a
new look in years."
Derek DeBoisbriand, a salesperson at Richdale's, said that
older people seem to question the validity of the new $10 bill
more than other customers, because they're used to the older
"While he says "personally I think it's really ugly" and like
coffee has been spilled on it, he did add that he likes the
numeral 10 in the right-hand corner of the new bill, because
it turns from copper to green, depending how one looks at it."
To read the complete article, see:
CANDADA'S PINK QUARTER DEBUTS
The Edmonton Journal published an article March 31 about
Canada's new "pink quarter":
"The Royal Canadian Mint, together with the Canadian Breast
Cancer Foundation, on Friday unveiled a 25-cent coin, featuring
the iconic pink ribbon.
The "breast cancer awareness" quarter, according to the RCM,
is the second coloured circulation coin to be produced following
the popular 25-cent poppy coin in the fall of 2004.
The RCM said it plans to produce up to 30 million "pink" coins,
which will enter into circulation beginning on Saturday."
"As part of the unveiling of the coin, 12 Canadian fashion
designers generously created and donated one-of-a kind fashion
items featuring the new coin. From travel wallets to corsets,
all items will be auctioned on the RCM website with the proceeds
directed to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation."
To read the complete article, see:
[Has anyone seen these coins? How are they manufactured?
Is there some sort of insert for the ribbon, or is the coloring
applied after striking, like enameling? There are many bimetallic
coins being made today, but other than the Canadian Poppy quarter
mentioned in the article, are there other coins with similar
color features? -Editor]
PROVENANCE OF SCOTTISH GOLD COIN UNCOVERED
Allan Davisson writes: "A bit more on the 1575 £20 gold piece of
James VI (And a story with a brief moral for those who do not
adequately value important old auction catalogs....)
The cataloger did not catch the fact that the piece was part
of the great Murdoch sale of May 1903 (lot 266) where it realized
£81, a huge sum for the day. In general, Murdoch had the means
and opportunity to collect the finest known examples of everything
in his huge collection and coins from his collection show that he
did, in fact, obtain the best.
In 1997, DNW offered this piece as lot 214. Their publicity at
the time, as I recall, referred to a "new and formerly unrecorded"
example of the piece and the catalog notes that "To the best of
our knowledge, this coin has never before been offered at Public
It sold to Lucien LaRiviere for £22,500 in a sale that had
virtually nothing of significance otherwise in the Scottish series.
The Spink catalogers also missed this extremely important bit
of provenance. The coin was estimated at a moderate £30,000 to
£40,000 and sold for £48,000, again a modest sum, it seems to me,
for one of the most important and dramatic coins in the Scottish
series if not the entire British series. And this great coin
also happened to be a part of the most renowned of British
QUERY: JOHN PINKERTON AND MEDALLIC ILLUSTRATIONS
Kay Platt writes: "I have a question that I am hoping a member
of the NBS could answer, or just steer me in the right direction
to find an answer.
I have four different versions of The Medallic History of England
attributed to John Pinkerton, two with text, two without text.
The spine of one contains his name, otherwise there is no mention
of his name anywhere else. The information on the four volumes
may be summarized as follows:
(A) The Medallic History of England to the Revolution, with
Forty Plates. Dated 1790, No authors name on the title page,
but Pinkerton's name appears on the original spine. Printed for
Edwards and Sons, Pall Mall, Faulder, in New Bond Street.
This volume contains 40 plates and commentary on each medal.
(B) The Medallic History of England, Illustrated by Forty
Plates. Dated 1802. Pinkerton's name does not appear on the
original spine, which is badly deteriorated. Printed, at the
Oriental Press, by Wilson and Co
for E. Harding, No. 98, Pall-Mall;
and J. Scott, St. Martins Court
This edition contains 40 plates,
no preface but the same commentary as (A).
(C) The Medals of England, consisting of 384 Specimens Engraved on
Forty Plates. Undated. No author. Nichols & Son, 25 Parliament St.
This edition contains 40 plates and commentary, but no preface or
commentary. This copy is bound together with Adam d. Cardonnels
Numismata Scotiae (1786).
(D) 384 Medals of England, Engraved on Forty Plates.
Dated 1831. No author. Printed for JB Nichols & Son, 25,
Parliament-Street. No preface or commentary. Binding (red
leather?) appears to be a later replacement for the original.
I also have Snellings Thirty Three Plates of English Medals
(1776). This is, of course the source of about 2/3 of the 40
plates, although Snelling had died in 1773. Some questions are:
How did Pinkertons name come to be associated with Snellings
work? Did he purchase the rights from Snellings family, or did
he just appropriate the work and have the additional plates added
and publish the revised work for his profit? After all, it would
appear that Pinkerton had a great interest in medals. But he was
also accused of having appropriated other authors works without
Perhaps the most basic question is, how do I really know that
Pinkerton had anything to do with the publication of the 40
Plates works, other than his name appearing on the spine of one
of the four volumes, and in libraries? Also, did Pinkerton actually
write the text that accompanied the plates, or did he hire someone
to do it (or did the publisher write the preface and text), and
why the (odd, to me) appearance of incomplete later editions
lacking the accompanying text? And, finally, was he associated
with all four versions?
Any light a member could shed on the Pinkerton relationship with
Snellings original work, and the four later editions would be
greatly appreciated. Any references to commentaries or works which
would shed light on these questions would especially be welcomed.
More broadly, recommendations to any other essential sources on
the eminent writers on medals of the 17th century would also be
appreciated. I have Evelyn, Vertue, Pinkertons Essays on Medals
(not of much value), Henfrey, Turners Pinkertons Correspondence,
Pinkertons earlier work, On Medals, and of course the works
mentioned above. More generally, I have Medallic Illustrations,
Helen Farquhars articles, Beslys book (and article on for the
Forlorn Hope in The Medal), Mayo, Lessens articles, and Nathansons
small work on Simon. Is any other essential book missing that I
should have that would provide more information on the writers
mentioned? Many thanks in advance for your readers help."
PRIVATE MONEY: MARCO ISLAND ADOPTS LIBERTY DOLLAR
The Naples Daily News of Naples, Florida reports that a local
entrepreneur plans to market Liberty Dollars.
"Seeking to liberate his neighbors from a monetary system that
he believes has lost some of its juice, Marco Island accountant
Al Wagner plans to launch an independent Liberty Dollar franchise
But he's mostly in it for the fun, Wagner said.
The silver-based money is neither endorsed by Marco Island
government, nor Marco Island Chamber of Commerce leaders.
Newly elected Marco Councilman Rob Popoff is an investor in
"Wagner won the right to distribute the currency throughout
Collier County. It is a $20 silver minted circle, which he
plans to unveil on April 6 at an event at the Esplanade on
Marco. Wagner said he can't use the word "coin" because that
is legally defined as U.S. government money."
"The Liberty Dollar is a national franchise, initiated in 1999
by self-described monetary architect Bernard von NotHaus, because
American money is no longer backed by the silver and gold that
was once protected at Fort Knox."
"Claudia Dickens, spokeswoman for the U.S. Treasury Bureau of
Engraving and Printing, said no matter how the Liberty Dollar
is presented, it is not legal currency.
"We have heard of Liberty Dollars," she said. "This agency
prints U.S. currency, and it is the only legal currency."
Dickens compared Liberty Dollars with Disney Dollars, used
exclusively at Walt Disney amusement parks. Like poppet beads
at Club Med, Disney Dollars are bought with real money, but
are not real U.S. currency.
"If a merchant wants to accept Liberty Dollars, that is their
right," Dickens said. "As long as the person doesn't claim it
is the legal tender of the land."
Wagner said he regards the comparison with Disney Dollars as
"Disney Dollars are not real silver," Wagner said."
To read the complete article, see:
BOOK ON MARDI GRAS DOUBLOONS
In response to the article on Doubloons by Paul MacAuley,
numismatic literature dealer Richard Stockley writes: "I sell
a book called "Doubloons Commemorative Medals" by Jerry Ledet Sr.
I dont know if it is updated every year - mine is a 1994 edition.
It is basically a listing, not illustrated, of the doubloons along
with a couple of other items. If anyone is interested, I can be
contacted at rstockley at sympatico.ca. To those collecting these
WASHINGTON, D.C. BOOKSTORES SOUGHT
Michael Savinelli writes: "I will be visiting Washington, DC at
the beginning of May on a business trip. Does anyone know whether
there are any good used bookstores there (and preferably ones that
might have numismatic literature)? I will be staying at the Marriott
at H & 12th Streets. I will not have a rental car, so any suggestions
for bookstores within walking distance would be appreciated. Thanks."
NOE BEHIND NEW GOLD COINS; PUSHED FOR PALLADIUM
Tom DeLorey writes: "The Sunday, April 2 Toledo Blade has an
amazing article which reveals that Tom Noe was the driving
force behind the creation of the 2006 one ounce .9999 find
gold bullion coin bearing the image of Fraser's 1913 Buffalo
nickel, and the 2007 and subsequent half ounce .9999 fine
gold "First Lady" coins.
If Mr. Noe is ever convicted of anything (and of course he
remains innocent until proven guilty), does this mean that
righteous collectors should boycott these coins?
If not, should we at least refer to the one ounce Buffalo
Nickel coin as the "Noe Bull Chit?"
[The lengthy article quotes coinage committee member Ute
Wartenberg Kagan, executive director of the American Numismatic
Society, Scott Travers, and several government officials. In
addition to the gold bullion coins, Noe suggested a palladium
coin as well. The following are some brief excerpts. -Editor]
"Last week, Greg Weinman, the Mints senior counsel and ethics
official, told The Blade that the Treasury Departments inspector
general had opened an investigation into Mr. Noes role as a
member and chairman of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee,
a panel that advises the Treasury secretary on themes and designs
for coins and congressional gold medals.
In May, 2003, the White House and House Speaker Dennis Hastert
recommended that Mr. Noe get a seat on the influential 11-member
committee. Treasury Secretary John Snow appointed Mr. Noe, less
than six months after the Toledo-area coin dealer expressed
interest in joining a Mint committee to Henrietta Fore, then
director of the Mint.
I have always had interest in getting more involved on the
national level, Mr. Noe wrote to Ms. Fore."
To read the complete article, see:
[A commercial web site claims that "In 1967, Tonga issued
palladium coins on the occasion of the Coronation of King
Taufa Ahau Tupou IV, thereby achieving a world's first."
Is that true? Were the first palladium coins issued by Tonga?
AUSTRALIAN MINT WORKER SMUGGLED COINS IN HIS BOOTS
Philip Mernick forwarded a story published April 6 by the BBC
News about a Canberra mint worker who stole coins by concealing
them in his workboots:
"An ex-worker at Australia's mint has admitted stealing tens
of thousands of dollars in coins he put in steel-capped boots
to avoid metal detectors. Prosecutors said William Bosia
Grzeskowiak stole more than AU$155,000 (£65,000) in new
two-dollar coins over a year at the Canberra mint.
Grzeskowiak, 48, was arrested two months ago while trying to
change a large number of coins into notes."
"Workers are not required to remove boots during random screening.
They said they found AU$100,000 in coins hidden in plastic buckets
and shopping bags in the garage of Grzeskowiak's mother."
"The case triggered a review of security at the mint during which
Australian Federal Police found a host of problems. The mint has
since upgraded security."
PORTION OF SCOVILL ARCHIVES SAVED FROM DESTRUCTION
Dick Johnson writes: "I too, share friend George Fulds
appraisal of the shortcoming of material at the Baker Business
Library at Harvard. A researcher must be pleased however, with
the material he does find in any archives. Pleased with what you
have to work with, but not satisfied to stop looking for more
Case in point: The Philadelphia Mint could not meet the demands
of the Columbian Exposition officials who wanted raised lettering
on all the Expo Award Medals after the1892-93 Expo. This is a
large chore to make an "insert die" for every medal. The Philadelphia
Mint contracted this to private industry, Scovill Manufacturing with
whom they had a long relationship. (The technology is simple, but very
labor intensive. A cavity must be created in one side of the award
medal dies. A large quantity of steel "inserts" must be made to EXACTLY
fit that cavity. Then each one of the inserts must be engraved with
the lettering to appear as raised lettering on the medal.)
The Baker Library has the journal in the Scovill archives which
recorded the exact inscription on every Columbian Expo award medal.
The trouble is that they have only one journal. The order of 23,757
medals required TWO journals to record all those names. One journal
is missing. The existing journal is gargantuan! It must be 4 feet tall,
with numbers down the left hand side of each page and a nice hand
script entry of the insert die lettering. Does the other journal
still exist? It may. Keep digging.
In all, it took Scovill two years to complete this striking order
even with a small team of workers. Several engravers creating those
insert dies. A pressman or two for striking. A finisher to patina
the medals. And several clerks to keep the records straight and to
enter those names in that journal. Oh! I do hope the other journal
What should be saved for the archives? Another case in point: When
the old Scovill headquarters building was demolished in Waterbury
in 1995 to make room for a shopping mall (Brass Center Mall) the
demolition crew came across one room that was sealed. No one could
get the door open to enter. A worker climbed down from the roof,
broke open a window and entered the sealed room.
They discovered it was the office of the press officer. It was
filled with material. Filing cabinets and shelving filled with
reports, pamphlets, books, magazines, clippings, company publications,
on and on.
One of the demolition crew saved the material, instead of hauling
it to the dump (bless him!). From four filing cabinets and lots of
shelving he filled 46 boxes. He contacted a friend of mine, who
knew of my interest in Scovill history. He had his company driver
drop off two sample boxes at my home for me to examine and return.
It is exactly what a press officer would save. (I know; I was one
once!) Gist for some future article or report. This is the corporate
intelligence that senior management often needs to make enlightened
decisions (and often needs in a hurry). Perhaps we should be grateful
the room was sealed, and that the material hadnt been discarded
My suggestion was this material should go to the Baker Library to
join the rest of the Scovill archives. I contacted the curator I
had worked with when I researched in their library. He, in turn,
went to his administration. The reply came back, in essence, they
would accept it for donation but would not for purchase.
My friend has the 46 boxes stored at his Waterbury company
storeroom. The material is for sale. The purchaser can be a
Scovill buff, or someone who can make the purchase and donate
it to the Baker Library. (Or it could be a lifetime of very dry r
[Its tragic what gets thrown away sometimes. We owe a lot to
the people who take the initiative to save this sort of material,
and it's only right that they should be compensated for their
effort. Several years ago, someone walking past the Pittsburgh
City Courthouse discovered a large number of boxes of documents
on the sidewalk awaiting trash pickup. A crew had cleaned out
the attic and documents decades or even a century old were being
thrown out. A number of boxes were salvaged but a lot went to
I've gotten a few items for my numismatic library by being in
the right place at the right time with a catcher's mitt as things
were being thrown in the trash, including a few complete years of
Mehl's Numismatic Monthly and some numismatic correspondence of
Howard Gibbs. Do any of our readers have a "saved from the trash"
story to tell? -Editor]
LANEN WWII MEDAL FIND FOLLOW-UP
David Klinger writes: "Here is an article with the follow up to
the story about the medals of Walter F. Lanen, found in the trash
at a gas station."
"With a slight trace of tears in his eyes, William J. Lanen stood
still and straight as the 87-year-old retired Army colonel stared
down at his younger brother's grave.
"He was a good soldier," Lanen said of Private First Class
Walter F. Lanen, who is buried at the Immaculate Conception
A few minutes earlier, two strangers had handed William Lanen
long-lost mementos of his brother.
They included a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart with two clusters,
and two other medals that Walter Lanen had earned while serving
with the 339th Regimental Combat Team in the US Army during World
The medals were discovered this week in the basement of Larry's
Service Station on Haverhill Street as co-owners Emile Levasseur
and Bill McDaniel were cleaning up."
"We have no idea how they got there," Levasseur said.
"Not a clue."
"A newspaper account in The Eagle-Tribune led a producer from
the television station CBS4 to find William Lanen, who is living
in retirement in Bow, N.H."
To read the complete article, see:
Howard A. Daniel III forwarded a link to a similar article with
Images of the medals:
JOHN FORD BIDDING AT AUCTION
Inspired by Russ Rulau's account of the famous John Ford -
Don Miller auction fistfight last week, Alan V. Weinberg writes:
"I distinctly recall at an early 60's (Howard Egolf sale?) NYC
Stack's auction John Ford standing up at the back of the room
and confronting cigar-wielding NYC coin dealer Max Kaplan, a
few feet apart, as Max drove him up and up on a desired coin.
This resulted in a shouting match as each man, with a booming
voice, tried to get in the last word, disrupting the auction.
I believe a young Dave Bowers and Johnny Rowe were present, as
At the 1984 NYC Bowers & Merena Virgil Brand Part II auction,
John bellowed out loud "Whaddya want this put-together cockamamie
thing for?" as John Hamilton bid him up on a unique 1850 gold
hand-constructed "Eureka" San Francisco medal which JJF won for
I remember these and other incidents as not disparaging but
adding to the colorful history of a colorful collector/dealer."
TAXAY AND THOMPSON'S 1783 ESSAY ON COINING
Eric P. Newman writes: "Since there has been recent comment in
The E-Sylum on when the discovery in the ANS library of the
"Essay on Coining" manuscript was made and a mention of my
being excited about it, I feel I should point out that Don
Taxay in 1966 published The U.S. Mint and Coinage in which,
beginning on page 88, a group of images from "Essay on Coinage"
and information from the text was included."
DAVE BOWERS, ADVERTISING AGE, AND DICK CLARK
Regaridng the Advertising Age photo mentioned by Dick Johnson
last week, Dave Bowers writes: "Although I don't remember the
photo, I have always been a student of advertising, of the old
John Caples, et al., mail-order variety, "Which Ad Pulled Best,"
and so on. For a number of years in the early 1960s I went to
the annual seminar held by Advertising Age in Chicago. Often
after hearing a presentation the attendees would break into
study groups. I remember I was in one such small group with
Dick Clark, of rock and roll memory now of current rock and
roll fame back then."
1906 SAN FRANCISCO EARTHQUAKE SURVIVORS
Jeff Reichenberger writes: "I'm pleased Werner Mayer and Dave
Kellogg (volume 9, number 13, March 26, 2006) mentioned the
fine article in the Smithsonian magazine about the San Francisco
Mint and the earthquake. Coupled with the equally fine story in
the April Numismatist you really get a feel for the mint, the
fury, and the chaos there a hundred years ago.
A highlighted column within the Smithsonian article features a
group of survivors who get together every year on that day.
Centenarians now, all but one, who claims being conceived the
night of the earthquake! She says she danced at the saloon where
her father worked when she was six. Longshoremen threw nickels
and pennies at her feet. One wonders, what nickels? What pennies?
Perhaps 1912 S Liberty nickels, 1909 S VDB pennies, or how about
1894 S dimes.... Are there any centenarians in our group?"
ANOTHER LIVING NON-HEAD-OF-STATE HONORED: DESMOND TUTU
Regarding living non-heads of state on coinage Dr K.A. Rodgers
writes: "I think this topic has had its day, but the South African
Mint has just announced its 2006 Protea designs featuring the very
much alive Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu. This
leads to looking at other folks on previous Proteas. It looks
like at least one other living South African has been featured
MOZAMBIQUE MULLS NEW NOTES AMID CURRENCY REVALUATION
An article posted April 4, 2006 discussed plans of the Mozambican
parliament on currency reform. While politicians debate, the Bank
of Mozambique is moving ahead with plans to produce revalued coins
"Back in November the Assembly passed a government bill intended
to make the Mozambican currency, the metical, more manageable, by
lopping off the last three digits.
The bill established a rate of conversion of one to a thousand.
Thus the current 1,000 metical coin will be worth one metical in
what the government refers to as the "new family" of the currency.
The largest current banknote, for 500,000 meticais, will be worth
500 meticais in the "new family"."
"The government stresses that the metical is not being abolished,
and the country is not embracing a new currency. All that is happening
is a simple mathematical operation - division by a thousand. The name
of the currency is unchanged and the old notes and coins will remain
legal tender for a lengthy transition period, as they are gradually
withdrawn from circulation."
"Meanwhile, the Bank of Mozambique is pushing ahead its preparations
for the introduction of the new banknotes and coins.
As from 1 April it became compulsory for shops and other business
to indicate their prices both in the existing meticais, and in the
"new family" meticais. Posters and leaflets explaining the changes
have been distributed all over the country, and the new notes should
be unveiled on 1 July."
To read the complete article, see:
PHILIPPINE COUNTERSTAMP BOOK NOT NEW
Ken Berger writes: "You state that "A new book has been published
on Philippine Counterstamped coins". Then you mention that Howard
Daniel received a copy of "Philippine Counterstamped Coins, 1828-1839"
by Dr. Quint Jose Ma. Oropilla Y Fortich.
This is not a new book. It was published in 2001. I've had mine
for over two years! I got it from Bill Elwell of Bishop Coins.
Ponterio has has been advertising this book on eBay for almost 3
ON FREE ADMISSION
Regarding a proposal to charge admission for the Smithsonian
Museums, last week I wrote: "It would be sad to see the tradition
end, but I think it's only fair that visitors help pay part of
Pete Morelewicz writes: "The Smithsonian is supported by our tax
dollars. Similarly, a "road to nowhere" in Alaska, for example,
is paid for by tax dollars, even if few people ever use it. That
the Smithsonian be subject to usage fees when other, arguably
less important, projects are not is, in my opinion, ludicrous.
(Phew! -- needed to get that off my chest. Not having a vote in
Congress can subject one to such sudden outbursts.)
Oh, and the comparison to gun/coin/boat shows is faulty, as
these are not government-funded events."
[Government funding subsidizes public transportation, too, but
the rides aren't free, and I would argue that they shouldn't be.
Some part of the burden rightly rests on the user of the service.
But every taxpayer is entitled to an opinion. -Editor]
ANCIENT COUNTERFEITERS COULD HAVE USED FIREGILDING TECHNOLOGY
Dick Johnson writes: "It is understandable an ancient coin that
appeared silverplated would raise many questions (as noted in last
weeks E-Sylum). The process of electrolysis was developed by a
German physicist and engineer, Moritz Herman Jacobi (1801-1874),
in 1837. He called his process "galvanoplasty" and it led to the
fields of electroforming and electroplating (great for the
The process required an electric current, so from 1837 until 1890,
when electric generation became available (thank you Thomas Edison!),
it had to be accomplished with primitive batteries.
There was a technique that could have been used this early. It was
the technique of "firegilding." The ancients knew how to coat an
object with gold by using mercury. They could have accomplished this
with silver just as well (but I have not heard of the term
"firesilvering" nor have I heard of such an object). [Museum
Curators Note: Please prove me wrong that such a silver-coated
object DOES exist, particularly before 1837.]
The process shorted the lives of those who did firegilding. The
mercury fumes are deadly. Ill describe the process, but dont
try this at home. [Official Disclaimer We Are Not Responsible
If You Are Stupid Enough To Try This!]
You need a "gilding stone" a flat surface like marble will do.
You need gold, mercury, a brass brush, nitrate of bioxide of
mercury and a stove. Thats all. Shortly before you do this, mix
the gold and mercury together, it becomes waxy between the fingers.
Make a ball and place this under water until use. When ready take
the ball and rub all over the gilding stone until it covers a
Dip the brass brush in nitrate of bioxide of mercury. Rub the
brass brush on the gilding stone until the mercury-gold is deposited
on the brass bristles. It will be white in color. Then brush the object
to be gilded with the brass brush. It will take considerable brushing
to get an even deposit of the mercury-gold on the object (well cleaned
and degreased). Then heat the object. The mercury fumes will burn off.
Dont get anywhere near these fumes they will kill you!
The gold is left on the object. Several applications may be necessary.
It is not a thick coating like goldplating. The thin coating is
susceptible to wearing off, particularly on the highpoints. In later
years firegilt objects may have an uneven gold color (with dark areas)
and sometimes only left in the crevices of the relief. This gave rise
to the term "parcel-gilt" which may have been intended (only a portion
of the relief with gold) or a result of wearing off.
The ancients could have done firesilvering by suing silver instead of
gold. Renaissance medals frequently show evidence of firegilding.
Japanese had a similar process where they gilded sword guards tsuba
400 years ago.
In America, firegilding was done as early as 1820 by Scovill
Manufacturing (theres that name again!). They used this process
to coat with gold, silver, copper and zinc but converted to
electroplating entirely by 1844."
[You never know which E-Sylum item will trigger an interesting
response from one of our readers. Leave it to Dick Johnson to
provide us with background on another fascinating aspect of
numismatics and minting technology. -Editor]
REPUBLIC OF TEXAS FANTASY
Bob Merchant writes: "I have one of the Republic of Texas
fantasy countermarks in my collection, on a 1746 British LIMA
Half Crown. It is countermarked with the two punches
"TEXAS / 6 BITS".
To view an image of the piece, see:
COOK ISLAND COINS PRESENTED FOR PAYMENT
The Cook Island Herald reported on a previously hushed-up scheme
to redeem Cook Island "coins" for profit, which prompted the
country to update its coinage laws.
"Cook Islanders do not know it, but early last year, a crisis
arose which was kept quiet and which has remained unpublicised
Such was the urgency that the Minister of Finance of the time
relied on the Herald not to publicise the matter. In June,
government rushed a much-needed amendment to legislation through
all three stages in the House."
"He told the House that coins left the country as souvenirs and
that was good for the Cook Islands. Then he dropped a big clue
as to the nature of the crisis. He said he heard that some coins
had somehow come back to the Cook Islands and payments had been
demanded. Then he referred to a few who, Would come back to a
developing country and try to rip us off.
The coins Dr Maoate referred to, are $50 silver coins. According
to Greta Little of the Numismatic Bureau, the coins involved are
the explorer series, it is a set of $50 silver coins which mark
the 500th anniversary of America 1492-1992. They are currently not
on display at the bureau. While the face value of the coin is $50,
the rise and fall of the price of silver on the market also affects
the coins true value.
Little says that last year, some German collectors whom she describes
as scam artists, tried to cash in some of the $50 coins and asked
for the money to be sent overseas to them. They had somehow acquired
a lot of the coins at a lower value. Unfortunately, Cook Islands
currency legislation did not provide any safeguard against someone
wanting to cash them in."
The Herald understood the Finance Secretary had estimated that the
Germans stood to make many millions of dollars. The exact figure was
not known. There needed to be a law change or some contingency built
into the upcoming budget to provide for a very large payout."
To read the complete story:
FEATURED WEB SITE: BANK OF CANADA BANKNOTES
This week's featured web site is the Bank of Canada's Bank Note
Series, 1935 to present.
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization
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see our web site at
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to the address printed on the application. Membership is only
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David M. Sundman, Secretary/Treasurer
Numismatic Bibliomania Society,
P. O. Box 82 Littleton, NH 03561
For Asylum mailing address changes and other membership
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