The E-Sylum v9#49, December 3, 2006
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Sun Dec 3 19:15:28 PST 2006
Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 9, Number 49, December 3, 2006:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Among our recent subscribers are Dave Baldwin (courtesy of Harold
Levi), Michael Doran, Eric Leighton, Chris Freeman and Daniel B.
Van Voorhis. Welcome aboard! We now have 1,009 subscribers.
This week's issue is another beefy one. Following up on the news
of our 1,000th subscriber is news of a new tool we've created for
numismatic researchers - a search engine restricted to only web
sites of numismatic interest.
Former ANA Librarian Nancy Green recommends a fascinating book on
the history and philosophy of collecting that should ring true for
we inmates of bibliomania-world, and David Sklow, recent holder of
that position, speaks out in Coin World about the organization and
The most far-reaching news this week is word of a judge's ruling that
could lead to the redesign of U.S. paper money to aid the blind.
Other important news, of interest to the many fans of minting
technology among us, is word about the sale of The Gallery Mint, Inc.,
with reassurances that the fascinating traveling mint exhibit and Ron
Landis' career as an engraver will live on.
Dick Johnson and others provide additional background on the late
William Louth, former head of Medallic Art Co. Other readers provide
details on the Italian Mint Museum. Research queries this week
include information on the 1792 Washington cent in gold.
Private-issue money seems to be a theme this week, with items on Labor
Exchange Notes, Liberty Dollars, and the Linden dollars of the online
world Second Life. Katie Jaeger discusses the scientific value of
unearthed coins and other ancient artifacts. To learn what several
thousand joules of energy and do to a hapless coin, read on. Have a
great week, everyone!
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
DICK JOHNSON MARKS A MILESTONE - 500 E-SYLUM SUBMISSIONS
Although reaching the 1,000 subscriber mark has been grabbing
our headlines lately, it's not the only milestone worth noting.
Dick Johnson writes: "This is my 500th article for E-Sylum. Thanks
to Wayne Homren for creating this Internet venue and for allowing
me -- as well as hundreds of other numismatists -- to vent virtually
at will and unrestrained on a mélange of numismatic subjects.
I write these articles as the mood moves me when some item in the
news or in The E-Sylum triggers some thoughts I wish to share with
others (my 67 years in numismatics since February 1939 when I was
9 years old has provided me with the wide range of experiences
in the field that I feel permits me to express these thoughts).
Wayne has added a new dimension to numismatic journalism, a new
medium, in creating The E-Sylum. It provides a freshness to the
field and a platform for those of us who want to inquire, to advise,
to bitch, to gossip, to inform, to report, to discourse. Every
reader has expanded his knowledge of numismatics by the weekly
review of this Internet newsletter. I know I have learned immensely
from just reading this weekly missal. This is shared now by 1,000
The E-Sylum has become a valuable numismatic information resource.
But for whatever I write, or others write, it is edited by a super
knowledgeable numismatist. What filters through our minds is again
filtered through Waynes mind (the ideal function of an editor).
The E-Sylum reader receives a distillation of valuable numismatic
lore unlike anything else and unavailable anywhere else. What you
read each week is timely, numismatically appropriate and usually
accurate. (If it is not accurate you will certainly learn that it
isnt so the following week I like that! -- and I have experienced
that feedback numerous times.)
My only hope is that readers have found interesting whatever I
have written. But the praise goes to Wayne for his unrequited
effort in editing and publishing this every week, EVERY WEEK!
For nearly ten years!!
And a "thank you" also to the 119 readers who have responded to
something I wrote, or, who wrote something that triggered my
response. We shared a numismatic experience 227 times in these
columns. (Infrequently I will write something outrageous just
to elicit response from our readers a recent example is an
intermingling of William and Charles Barbers biographies!
After all, this is an audience participation organ.) Please
continue to respond in the future! Good or bad, I welcome
learning something new. I welcome criticism. I learn more from
that than I do praise. Thank you all! Wayne, stage front and
take a bow!"
[Thanks, Dick. I'm not one for taking bows, but it is rewarding
to know how well this little newsletter has been received across
the hobby. It's hard to top, but there's always room for
improvement. As we approached the 1,000 subscriber milestone
I wondered to myself how make this body of information even more
useful. As luck would have it, a new feature rolled out by Google
led me to roll up my sleeves and try something new - read all
about it in the next item. Please give it a try, everyone!
NUMISMATIC SEARCH ENGINE DEBUTS
Wouldn't it be great if you could do a web search ONLY on sites
that relate directly to numismatics? Well, now you can. Using
the sites previously discussed in our Featured Web Site section or
mentioned in E-Sylum articles, I've created a numismatics-only
custom search engine using Google. Here's how I describe it on
the new Coin and Paper Money search engine "home page":
"Search coin and paper money web sites hand-picked for some of the
best numismatic research information available on the web. Many have
been highlighted as Featured Web Sites in The E-Sylum, our award-
winning weekly email newsletter for researchers, writers and collectors
of coins, medals, tokens, banknotes and other paper money. E-Sylum
contributors include many of the top numismatic authors and dealers
in the U.S. and the world."
The URL for the numismatic search engine is:
The first web site added? Our own, of course: coinbooks.org.
This ensures that the back issues of The E-Sylum are included.
Next came many of the top numismatic auction house sites, since
there is a great deal of good research information there. After
that came many of the "usual suspects" - the major national, state,
and specialty organization web sites, numismatic museums, mints,
central banks etc. Many of these also include some good research
Then came the Featured Web Sites. These are the real key to making
the customized search engine useful. Many came recommended by our
readership and all have been vetted by me. Sites with little
original material, scanty content or offerings for sale with little
accompanying information are excluded. A number of sites are
unfortunately no longer available, and these had to be excluded.
The engine description says "hand-picked", and that's very true.
Literally true as well - my mouse-operating hand is sore from all
What's not included? Mainstream publishing sites like the New
York Times, sites relating to non-numismatic history, and sites
dealing with non-numismatic literature. Including these would
dilute the laser-focus on numismatic topics. However, where
individual pages on mainstream sites do refer to numismatic topics,
these are included. For example, npr.org archives many National
Public Radio stories, and if a particular story relates to
numismatics, that particular page is included in the index.
Many E-Sylum articles refer to individual news articles from
publications around the world, and these particular web pages
(assuming they still exist) are in the search engine as well.
For example, the query "50 states quarter launch ceremony"
locates contemporary articles on the launch parties for the
Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine and Rhode Island coins.
By excluding most non-numismatic sites, searches for numismatic
connections can be very targeted. For example, simply entering
"Zachary Taylor" into the numismatic search engine produces
references to Taylor medals in the E-Sylum archive, on the Stack's,
Coin World, and the U.S. Mint sites. The same search on the
full-blown Google search engine produces little numismatic
information. Other name searches such as "Martin Beistle" are
also quite targeted, excluding similar "hits" on most non-numismatic
web sites. Personal name searches are also quite informative -
a very quick way to get broad background on any numismatic
personality. I know you're dying to do it, so go ahead - do a
vanity search on your own name.
Searching for "Plagiarism" locates articles on numismatic
plagiarism as well as sites with information on how to check for
it or guard against it. Searching for "Liberty Dollar" locates
a large number of articles on NORFED's private coin as well as
items on Seated Liberty Dollars.
As with any search engine, the more specific your query, the more
specific your query, the more targeted the results. Using "seated
liberty dollar" as a query, the result is a bullseye - the top
links are the CoinFacts page on Seated Liberty dollars and a
listing of Seated Liberty dollars lots sold by Bowers and Merena.
To make the search engine as complete and current as possible, we
rolled up our sleeves and built a tool to help. Many thanks to
John Nebel for creating a program to cull all web links from our
E-Sylum archive. After reviewing the list John's program generated
and trimming it appropriately, I added these links to the search
engine, bringing the total number of indexed web sites to well
over 3,000. NBS webmaster Bruce Perdue added a new page for the
search engine to our web site for easy access.
Each week John's program will extract the web links for all web
sites mentioned in the latest E-Sylum issue, and I'll add these
to the search engine to keep it current.
Remember, this is a work in progress. A search engine is like a
big hulking machine with lots of knobs and levers to push. We'll
continue to fine-tune it based on your feedback. Please give it
a try and keep coming back whenever you want a more targeted
search for numismatic information.
Have a web site that ought to be included? Let us know. Getting
funny results? Not seeing the search results you expect? Let us
know that, too. Based on your input we'll turn the knobs and
levers and see if we can improve the search results for everyone.
Write to me anytime at whomren at coinlibrary.com.
To use the numismatic search engine, see:
BOOK: AN INTIMATE HISTORY OF COLLECTORS AND COLLECTING
Former ANA Librarian Nancy Green writes: "I thought E-Sylum
readers would like to know about an interesting book I have
been reading: "To Have and to Hold: An Intimate History of
Collectors and Collecting", by Philipp Blom.
There is not much mention of numismatic collections but his
discussion of the history and philosophy of collecting is
fascinating. The book was published in 2002. The philosophy
and psychology of collecting anything is one of my special
interests. One is either a collector or not. There are degrees
of obsession but the basic tendency is like a switch, either
on or off.
Thanks for all your excellent work in keeping us bibliophiles
connected and providing a meeting place for discussions."
FORMER ANA LIBRARIAN SKLOW SPEAKS OUT
This must be our week for former ANA librarians. David Sklow,
former director of the ANAs Library and Research Center, speaks
out in a Guest Commentary in the December 11, 2006 issue of Coin
World. It's a lengthy piece and readers should see that publication
for the full text. With permission, here are the parts relating
to library matters of particular interest to numismatic bibliophiles
Sklow writes: "My removal from the staff can be directly attributed
to my inquiries into budgetary matters. I questioned why funds
donated to the library for book purchases are not used for that
purpose. I also inquired as to when the funds from the annual
Summer Seminar book sale would be available to the library for
book purchases and was told these funds would go into the general
"When I asked the ANAs fund development manager and the ANAs
controller why a library fund for library donations did not exist
(other than the Bass Foundation Fund), why the library budget
included retired employees dispersals and why the librarys
salary line item far exceeded that of the employees in the
department, I was given a warning ... that I had angered the
executive director and that I was not to discuss financial
matters with other staff members.
"If you cannot discuss financial matters with the fund development
manager and the controller, whom exactly can you ask? Certainly
not the Finance Committee. It no longer exists."
[Below are links to two previous E-Sylum articles triggered by
news of Sklow's dismissal by the ANA's Executive Director. The
first article includes the email addresses of ANA Board members
for those wishing to contact the organization regarding these
THE ANA AND THE BROTHERHOOD AND SISTERHOOD OF NUMISMATICS
ANA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CONTRACT EXTENSION UPDATE
Regarding the second article, Bill Rosenblum writes: "In October
employees at ANA headquarters were visited by someone who wanted
their opinion about the Executive Director for the possibility of
extending his contract. They were told that their answers would
be confidential although at least some did not feel they would be.
The question is, who hired this person? Was it the Board?"
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RESPONDS REGARDING LIBRARY BUDGET ISSUES
In response to a query by E-Sylum reader Nick Graver, American
Numismatic Association Executive Director Chris Cipoletti writes:
"The funds raised from the library book sale go to support the
library. The library is not self sustaining and even with money
coming from the library book sale and other small donations, the
library does not generate enough income to operate without support
from other areas of the ANA. So the book sale funds, even if more
than budgeted, help offset library deficits.
There is a budget for book purchases that is a part of our annual
budget and that allows for purchase of materials for the library
regardless of whether revenue projections for the library book
sale are met or exceeded. This expense item is approved by the
board and is adjusted only by board action.
We are also planning a sale of duplicate materials from the library
in 2007. The funds raised from that sale are projected to go into
the library fund (which is a part of what we call the endowment fund
managed by Sanford Bernstein, our investment advisors). Unlike the
annual book sale in conjunction with Summer Seminar, which raises
funds to assist library operations, the rare book room sale is
designed to raise funds to support future purchases (capital for
example) and major initiatives of the library, not general operations.
I hope this helps explain the issue."
JUDGE RULES U.S. PAPER CURRENCY MUST CHANGE TO HELP THE BLIND
Stephen Pradier forwarded this November 28 FOX News article about
a judge's ruling that could have long-lasting effects on U.S.
"American paper money represents an unfair impediment to the blind,
and the Treasury Department must come up with new U.S. currency to
help the visually impaired use cash, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge James Robertson said keeping all U.S. currency
the same size and texture violates the Rehabilitation Act, which
prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in government
"Of the more than 180 countries that issue paper currency, only
the United States prints bills that are identical in size and color
in all their denominations," Robertson wrote in his ruling. "More
than 100 of the other issuers vary their bills in size according to
denomination, and every other issuer includes at least some features
that help the visually impaired."
"In the lawsuit, which has been in the court system for four years,
government attorneys argued that forcing the Treasury Department to
change the size of the bills or add texture would make it harder to
prevent counterfeiting. Robertson was not swayed.
"The fact that each of these features is currently used in other
currencies suggests that, at least on the face of things, such
accommodations are reasonable," he wrote."
"Robertson wouldn't say how Treasury must do it, but he gave the
government agency 10 days to start working on new bills that the
blind can tell apart.
The Treasury Department refused to comment on the case, saying
that it's still pending. Paré said that his organization wasn't
involved in the lawsuit, and he can't speak for the Treasury
Department, but he did "get the sense that it was going to be appealed."
To read the complete article, see:
Andrew W. Pollock forwarded this article from The Washington Times:
The vending machine industry has already responded in protest of
"If the government is mandated to change U.S. currency, there would
be a tremendous financial impact across a number of industries,
including the automated vending industry," said Jim Brinton, a
director of the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA),
a trade association of the food and refreshment vending industry.
There are 7 million food and beverage machines in the United States,
and 1.5 million of them accept both $1 and $5 bills, according to
NAMA. The vending machine industry would have to spend an estimated
$200 to $300 to retrofit each machine, Mr. Brinton said."
To read the complete article, see:
GALLERY MINT INC. AND THE GALLERY MINT MUSEUM FOUNDATION
There is (understandably) a great deal of confusion in the numismatic
community between the nonprofit Gallery Mint Museum Foundation (GMMF)
and the original for-profit Gallery Mint Inc. As noted previously in
The E-Sylum, the nonprofit GMMF recently announced the establishment
of its numismatic publications series. This week, the sale of the
for-profit Gallery Mint Inc. was announced, ending speculation over
its fate and that of Ron Landis. A press release was published on
Thursday, and here are some key excerpts:
"Gallery Mint Inc., the private mint founded by master engraver Ron
Landis and his late partner Joe Rust fifteen years ago, has been sold
to a limited partnership that includes former GMI employees. The new
company, Striker Token and Medal Inc., will continue operating in
the same plant in northwest Arkansas and will continue producing
the companys signature high-quality reproduction coinage.
".. in addition to offering reproduction coins, Striker will also
now accept private commissions from individuals, businesses and
coin clubs interested in low-volume runs of tokens and medals.
"We have totally redesigned the Mini-mint demonstration that
was so popular at coin shows for the past decade ... The new
exhibits and demonstration is scheduled to debut at the 50th
Annual Money Show of the Southwest in Houston in late January,
"Rust and Landis formed Gallery Mint Museum in 1992. In 2005,
the company split into two different organizations: Gallery Mint
Museum Foundation (GMMF), and Gallery Mint Incorporated (GMI).
This sale completes the separation of the business side of GMI
from the non-profit GMMF, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to
the preservation of the art and technology of the minting process.
Now that GMI has been purchased by Striker, there should not be
any more confusion over the Gallery Mint name, said Foster.
The only Gallery Mint is the non-profit museum.
"The sale of GMI includes all of the minting equipment, dies and
rights of reproduction to those dies. The company mailing address
will remain the same but there is a new telephone system and WATS
number. Landis will continue his association with the company he
founded as a consultant.
"For more information about purchasing reproduction coinage or
placing an order for tokens or medals, contact Striker at 1-888-688-3330,
email them at info at striker-mfg.com or write Striker Token and Medal, PO
Box 706, Eureka Springs, AR 72632. For information about Striker Inc.
contact Will Foster at 479-695-6043. The companys website
www.striker-mfg.com, will allow on-line purchasing of the company
product line and will be operational shortly."
OBITUARY WILLIAM LOUTH OF MEDALLIC ART COMPANY
On November 30 the Danbury, CT News-Times published a lengthy obituary
of Bill Louth, former head of Medallic Art Company. The reporter
interviewed former MACo employees Hugo Greco and Dick Johnson. Here
are some excerpts:
"William T. Louth, a former Danbury medal manufacturer whose company's
customers included U.S. presidents, Pulitzer Prize winners and
championship athletes, died Nov. 17 on Cape Cod. He was 80 years old
and lived in West Harwich, Mass.
"Louth was the president and director of Medallic Art Co. in New York
City from 1961 to 1976, having joined the firm, which was owned by his
uncle, in 1946 after service in the Navy."
"William T. Louth greatly influenced medallic art in America for over
two decades," said D. Wayne Johnson, who served as the company's director
of research from 1966 to 1977. "He supported the high artistic standards
for the firm while introducing medallic innovations. His leadership
dominated the field, up to and including the American Bicentennial."
"Three of the inaugural medals were created while Louth headed the
firm, a task that took him to Washington, D.C., to work with the
incoming presidents and their inauguration committees, and ultimately
to the White House for the presentation of a special gold version of
the medallion to the new president.
"He could have gone alone, but he always took the sculptor who designed
the medal," Johnson said. "He was always concerned with giving the
"Louth grew up in Kokomo, Ind. At 18, he entered the Navy's V-12
education program, attending Purdue, Notre Dame and DePauw universities.
After World War II ended in 1945, he refused an officer's commission,
preferring instead to serve as a seaman at Camp Shoemaker in Livermore,
Calif., until his discharge in June 1946.
"A month later, the 20-year-old Louth joined Medallic Art Co. in New
York, run at the time by his uncle Clyde Trees. Trees had worked there
since 1919 and shepherded the company through the lean years of the
Depression, when commissions were few and far between, and through
World War II, when bronze, the primary component of medals, was in
short supply because of military needs."
To read the complete article, see:
Dick Johnson adds: "The article on was written by E-Sylum subscriber
John Perro, a fellow member of the Litchfield Coin Club, after he
interviewed both Hugo Greco and myself. The article and picture
appeared on page one of the second (B) section with long carry-over
to second page."
[Many thanks to John and Dick for this great article on an
important numismatic figure. -Editor]
MEDALLIC ART AT WILLIAM LOUTH MEMORIAL SERVICE
Dick Johnson writes: "Good wife Shirley and I drove to Cape Cod
Saturday (Dec 2, 2006) to attend the memorial service for William
T. Louth who died November 17th. Bill had been a luminary in the
numismatic field for two decades spanning the 1960s and 70s. Both
Shirley and I had worked for Medallic Art Company under Bill's
presidency, culminating in the great outpouring of medals for the
American Bicentennial 1976.
We knew the Louth family and had visited Bill several times
recently, showing up with tape recorders in hand and pestering
him with questions, the latest visit was September 25, just 25
days before his death. (Reported here in The E-Sylum (vol 9, no 44,
article 4). He was kind in answering all our questions and had
sharp recall for these personal memories.
The memorial service was religious (as was Bill). Appropriately,
near the end of the sermon the pastor held up a gift he had received
from Bill. It was a very famous medallic work, the Mark Twain Birth
Centenary Plaquette by Laura Gardin Fraser. He read the inscription
on this 1935 plaquette and noted how true this was of Bill's life:
"Always do right, this will gratify some people and astonish the rest."
The large galvano with Bill's portrait by Gilroy Roberts was also on
One wonders if the service for our life's heritage would be read
from a medallic item and what would it say."
YES, HOWARD, THERE IS A NUMISMATIC MUSEUM OF THE ITALIAN MINT
Responding to Howard Berlin's account of his unfortunate experience
in attempting to visit the Italian Mint's museum, Richard Margolis
writes: "Some 5-1/2 years ago, on June 11, 2001, to be specific, my
wife and I, having attended the IAPN Congress in Rome, and having
obtained details of the opening hours (9am-11am) beforehand, from the
Internet, went to via XX Septembre 97, where, in an office of the
Ministry of the Treasury, after showing our passports we were able
to purchase tickets admitting us to the Numismatic Museum.
It is my vague recollection that the museum had to be opened for us,
and I definitely recall that we were the only visitors in the museum.
It is a major museum, however, with thousands of Italian and other
European coins displayed in vitrines, as well as hundreds of
Benedetto Pistrucci's beautiful wax models also on view.
A flyer that I picked up that day gives an overview of the collection,
which it states consists of over 20,000 pieces, including 10,000 coins
from the middle ages to the present, some 6,600 medals, and 404 of
Pistrucci's waxes. (Incidentally there isa handsome two-volume boxed
set, rather scarce, describing and illustrating all of these Pistrucci
A few days later, however, in Firenze, we had a more Berlin-like
experience. Having acquired all of the specific details beforehand
as to hours and days of opening, we took a long, expensive taxi ride
to the suburbs in order to visit the Museo Ricardo Ginori of the Doccia
Porcelain Factory. (I collect 18th century ceramic portrait medallions
from as many different European factories as I can, and knew that
Doccia had made some, although I don't have any in my collection).
When we arrived and got out of the taxi we found that the entire factory
was locked up tighter than a drum. Fortunately the taxi hadn't left, so
we were able to take another long ride back to town. A nasty letter which
I subsequently sent to Doccia detailing our experience of course received
YOSSI DOTAN'S VISIT TO THE ITALIAN STATE MINT MUSEUM
Yossi Dotan writes: "It is unfortunate for Dr. Howard Berlin that
he was unable to visit the Italian State Mint Museum at Via XX
Settembre, Rome. In June 2002 I spent almost three hours in the
museum, assisted by Ms. Buccolini (my knowledge of Italian is even
less than her knowledge of English so I was unable to find out
whether she is the curator). She was so kind to show me her cards
pertaining to various coins I was interested in, from which I
copied information for my files on modern world coins depicting
The museum is in the building of the Zecca della Stato, the Italian
State Mint. I went there to the security personnel, who phoned Ms.
Buccolini to find out whether she could accommodate a visitor.
After depositing my passport with them I was taken to the museum.
Obviously, the museum has a large collection of Italian coins,
including those of its colonies in Africa, but there were also
many world coins and beautiful wax models for coins and medals.
Back home I wrote to Ms. Buccolini at SAM at ipzs.it to thank her for
her assistance. It may be advisable for Dr. Berlin, or other E-Sylum
readers, to write to that address (hoping it is still valid) to find
out the opening hours of the museum when they plan a visit to Rome."
MONETA WEB SITE UPDATED
Georges Depeyrot writes: "The Moneta web site is now updated. It
is possible to have a look to one plate or one page of each of the
volumes published in 2006.
"In 2006, Moneta published 11 numismatic volumes (2.714 pages; 37
plates of drawings; 124 plates of photos). The subjects are various:
- Greek coins of Istros, Callatis and Tomis
- Quantifications and ancient numismatics
- Late roman coin finds in Dobrodja (Romania)
- Gold coins from the Institute of archaeology and from the
Academy of Romania (2 vol)
- Byzantine coin finds in USSR
- Coins of Liege (Belgium) (3 vol)
- Archaeology and numismatics in Midi-Pyrenees (France)
- Russian medals from Le Louvre
"A next group of books will be published in spring 07
(Parthian coins from Tbilisi; Third/fifth Roman hoards; etc.)."
To visit the Moneta web site, see:
IBSCC BULLETIN ON COINTERFEITS AVAILABLE ONLINE
Ed Krivoniak writes: "Here is a web site that deals with counterfeit
coins - it has just been updated to 6000 listings." From a
December 1 announcement:
"We are pleased to announce that the entire series of The IBSCC
Bulletin on Counterfeits has been incorporated into Forgerynetwork.com
with permission from the copyright holder.
Included are all the coins photographed, published and condemned by
the IBSCC - the International Bureau of the Suppression of Counterfeit
Coins. These all have been classed as "Forgery - Published" as they
have been condemned by a recognised institution and will be the first
to be displayed in any search.
The database now contains almost 6000 records - 3000 of these being
published counterfeits. The database is by far the largest public
counterfeit coin database in the world and is now an essential tool.
All purchases made should be checked against this database to help
To access the web site, see:
CLARIFICATION ON HOLT'S ARTICLE ON ALEXENDER'S ELEPHANT MEDALLIONS
Rick Witschonke writes: "A clarification of my clarification: Holt
wrote a book about the silver elephant medallions; no one (as far as
I know) doubts their authenticity. More recently, a gold coin was
published, featuring a head of Alexander in elephant headdress and
an elephant. This unique coin was the subject of Holt's ARAMCO article,
and is the piece that is condemned by Fischer-Bossert in his ANS
Magazine article. Readers may have been confused based on your
intro to my clarification."
[Thanks for clearing the mud from my introduction. A link to the
item is shown below. I had seen the ANS article, but regretfully
read neither of the articles in detail. -Editor]
HOLT'S ARTICLE ON ALEXENDER'S ELEPHANT MEDALLIONS QUESTIONED
GEORGE FULD ON JULIUS GUTTAG'S CIVIL WAR TOKEN COLLECTION
George Fuld writes: "As it is well known Dr. George Hetrich and
Julius Guttag wrote the first definitive study of Civil War tokens.
Both authors had very large collections. The Hetrich collection
was auctioned off intact by a small auction house in Pennsylvania
(Pennypacker) to Barney Sipos of Washington, Pa. He died a few
years later and I have no idea what happened to the collection.
The Guttag collection of some 4,500+ pieces went to Max Schwartz
of New York. He remounted the collection in large Wayte Raymond
coin boards. It was sold to John Zug of Bowie, MD who advertised
it for sale in The Numismatist. It did not sell. Upon his death
it went to New Netherlands Coin Co. and we acquired it in 1958.
It was integrated into our collection and duplicates disposed of."
THOUGHTS ON THE 1792 WASHINGTON CENT IN GOLD PEDIGREE GAP
Last week George Fuld asked for information on the 1792 Washington
cent in gold (see link below). Saul Teichman writes: "Breen, under
number 1233 in his Encyclopedia lists it as coming from Colonel Green
via Wayte Raymond and also mentions H.P. Smith after Parmelee."
[So the Parmelee coin went to H.P. Smith and ultimately found its
way to Col. Green. But how? This is the pre-1925 pedigree gap
George and Eric Newman are hoping to plug. -Editor]
Saul adds: "H.P. Smith was the buyer at the Parmelee sale under the
nom de plume of "Clay" or "Celay" (the latter is an error by Don
Taxay seeing a very fancy C handwritten with a loop at the end in
a named sale catalog)."
"I do not know who Smith bought the coin for. Since it was not in
his personal collection as later sold by the Chapmans, it must have
gone to someone else.
"If it was for Dewitt Smith, then the coin would be in the Brand
journals as Brand did purchase his colonials among other things,
ditto if it was purchased by Dr. Hall.
"If it was for Granberg, then it might appear in the Newcomer
and/or Col. Green inventories."
"Hopefully someone can check the above inventories to see where
it came from."
1793 LARGE CENT WEIGHT CHANGE REVISITED
Last week Bob Neale wrote: "Congress amended Statute One, the
April 1792 basic coinage act, on 14 January 1793 to lower the
coin's weight from 208 (Birch cent weight) to 164 grains (chain
Bob Julian adds: "The original weight was 264 grains. The weight
of the cent from the first regular coinage in 1793 (Chain) to
December 1795 was 208 grains. The weight was again lowered in
December 1795 to 168 grains, where it stayed until 1857."
[These statements largely agree but differ in the ultimate large
cent weight: 164 grains vs 168. My handy Red Book gives the weight
as 10.89 grams (not grains). So what's that in grains? A
conversion calculator I found on the Internet says 168 grains. See
1786 CONTINENTAL CONGRESS MINT ORDINANCE
On a related note, while looking for other things I came across
this page on the Library of Congress web site containing the text
of the ordinance passed Oct. 16, 1786 by the Continental Congress
for the establishment of a mint.
"AN ORDINANCE for the ESTABLISHMENT of the MINT
of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA; and for REGULATING the VALUE
and ALLOY of COIN.
"IT IS HEREBY ORDAINED by the United States in Congress assembled,
that a mint be established for the coinage of gold, silver and copper
money, agreeably to the resolves of Congress of the 8th August last,
under the direction of the following officers, viz.
"An Assay Master, whose duty it shall be to receive gold and silver
in bullion, or foreign coin, to assay the same, and to give his
certificates for the value thereof at the following rates:
"For every pound troy, weight of uncoined gold or foreign gold coin,
eleven parts fine and one part alloy, two hundred and nine dollars.,
seven dimes and seven cents, money of the United States, as established
by the resolves of Congress of the 8th of August last, and so in
proportion to the fine gold contained in any coined or uncoined
"For every pound troy weight of uncoined silver, or foreign silver
coin, eleven parts fine and one part alloy, thirteen dollars, seven
dimes, seven cents and seven mills, money of the United States,
established as aforesaid; and so in proportion to the fine silver
contained in any coined or uncoined silver whatsoever."
To read the complete text, see:
LABOR EXCHANGE NOTES
Part 9 of the Herb & Martha Schingoethe Obsolete Currency collection
(Smythe sale #268, New York, December 12-13, 2006) offers a large
number of Labor Exchange notes, an alternate currency developed in
the latter part of the 18th century used in numerous regions
around the United States (see lots 2661-2688). An Internet search
turned up some additional information:
"Beginning with severe agricultural reversals on the Great Plains
and throughout the South during the late 1880's, a business panic
in 1893 turned what bad been a "traditional" economic downswing into
the nation's first full-fledged industrial depression. Hard times
produced armies of unemployed workers, crippling strikes, and the
shrill demands of the Farmers' Alliance, the Knights of Labor, and
the People's party for relief and reform. One response to depression
was the sudden expansion of a cooperative organization, the Labor
"The founder of the Labor Exchange was a sensitive, articulate
Italian immigrant, G. B. De Bernardi, who farmed near Kansas City, Mo."
"Exchange Number One" tangibly expressed his plan for uplifting the
downtrodden. The experiment's operation revolved around De Bernardi's
pet monetary scheme, the use of a unique form of circulating medium
known as "labor checks." According to the De Bernardi formula, members
deposited products of their labor (clothes, shoes, food stuffs, etc.)
in the exchange warehouse or "depository" and in return they received
certificates (labor checks) which equaled the wholesale value of the
goods. These certificates, issued in various denominations, circulated
among the local membership and the community as well. Holders of labor
checks, whether members or non-members, could present them at the
warehouse for any desired commodities."
To view an image of one of the Labor Notes see:
[De Bernardi's system wasn't the first Labor Exchange - a similar
note-issuing organization was the brainchild of Robert Owen in
England in 1825. -Editor]
"Labor notes, a unique monetary experiment in early nineteenth-century
England, bore a face value equivalent to a certain number of hours
of work. The notes were the brainchild of (17711858), a successful
textile manufacturer in England who rose to fame as a utopian socialist
reformer at the beginning of the Industrial Age. He is famous in the
United States for involvement with New Harmony, Indiana. In 1825 Owen
purchased 30,000 acres of land in Indiana and launched New Harmony as
a cooperative society, a project that would cost him 80 percent of
his fortune before he abandoned it.
In 1832 Owen was publishing a penny journal, The Crisis, in which he
publicized his plan to form an association for the exchange of all
commodities upon the principle of the numbers of hours of labor
embodied in each commodity All commodities that required the same
amount of labor to produce were to be traded evenly, and other
commodities were to be exchanged at ratios ruled by the number of
hours of labor required to produce each one..."
"Exchanges opened in different regions, and one of the largest was
in Birmingham, where two series of labor notes were issued in
denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 50, and 80 labor-hours."
JOESPH MENNA: DESIGNER OF WASHINGTON AND JEFFERSON DOLLAR COIN PORTRAITS
On November 29th Philadelphia Inquirer published an interview with
Joseph Menna, designer of the portraits of George Washington and
Thomas Jefferson on the new dollar coins.
"When studying sculpture in Russia 10 years ago, Joseph Menna found
his muse in a George Washington quarter.
The bond came from his longing for home and a pursuit of the perfect
Now, his portrait of Washington is set to grace the front of the
first in a series of presidential dollar coins.
"It's a head trip," said the soft-spoken South Jersey native, now
an employee of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. "Designing Washington,
that's the signature for me."
"Menna, 36, is not worried about the coins' performance - even against
the still-popular paper bills.
"For him, his designs symbolize arrival at a destination he began as
a child in Blackwood. He always wanted to be an artist, he said, and
started honing his interest and skills after a stint at a summer arts
program during high school."
"When the agency announced the presidential dollar program, Menna
was assigned to draw James Madison - but he worked on the Washington
and Jefferson coins on the side.
Ironically, his Madison design never made the cut. But he does not
"It's such a great honor to design the first presidential coin," he
said. "I still can't get my mind around it."
To read the complete article, see:
AN ONLINE NEWSPAPER ARCHIVE
Rod Charleton writes: "In reference to what Fred Reed wrote about
the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and searching newspaper microfiche... I'm
not sure if you or your readers are aware, there's a great online
reference site for newspapers. The web address is
www.newspaperarchive.com. I've been a member for quite some time
and it's a very quick and valuable tool for looking up newspaper
It's no way near as complete as I would like to see from a research
point of view. But it does give you the ability to search thousands
of newspapers without ever putting any gas in the car and driving to
those local libraries in their respective states. There is so much
information in this database that I almost always find myself
sidetracked looking at things other than numismatic interests. Of
course, for someone like me that loves history, it's easy to get
To visit the Newspaper Archive, see:
[The site bills itself as the largest newspaper archive online:
Search 52.1 Million Pages 648 Cities 238 Years 2,385 Titles.
A subscription costs $7.95/month; a seven-day free trial is available.
>From the web site:
"NewspaperARCHIVE.com, the largest historical newspaper database
online, contains tens of millions of newspaper pages from 1759 to
present. Every newspaper in the archive is fully searchable by
keyword and date, making it easy for you to quickly explore
historical content." -Editor]
RED BOOK AND BLUE BOOK HOARD OFFERED
We don't usually reference eBay offerings, but Len Augsberger writes:
"This seems worthy of a mention in The E-Sylum." It's a hoard of over
11,000 Red Books and Blue Books from 1949 to 2005, an inventory
accumulated over the year by Les Roosmalen.
To view the lot listing, see:
QUIZ ANSWER: THE ORIGINAL ANA HEADQUARTERS BUILDING DESIGN
The answer to last week's quiz question comes from Ed Rochette's
article in the November 21 issue of Numismatic News (page 38):
"Quite fortunately, the original plans for the design of the ANA
headquarters building had been scrapped in the name of good taste!
The original architectural renderings proposed a round building
with concrete reeded edges circumscribing the building, as if it
were a giant coin laying flat."
"By the way, if you want to see a round building that was designed
to look like a stack of coins, visit Iola, Wis., where Numismatic
News is located. It was built as a restaurant in 1980 by Cliff
Mishler and is currently a Subway, where hungry staff can still
get something to eat."
NUMISMATIST TO HIT THE NEWSSTANDS
According to a November 28 press release, "NUMISMATIST, the official
publication of the American Numismatic Association, will be available
at a limited number of independently owned newsstands and Kroger®
supermarkets in 23 states beginning with the December issue.
The ANA has partnered with Anderson News Company of Atlanta, Georgia,
to test the market for NUMISMATIST magazine at public news outlets.
Approximately 4,300 copies will hit the stands in early December.
The magazines cover will differ slightly from the version received
By members and will include a UPC code in the lower left corner.
As the premiere magazine for collectors of coins, tokens, medals
and paper money, NUMISMATIST has a loyal and very enthusiastic following
in the hobby community says Editor-in-Chief Barbara J. Gregory. Were
extremely proud of our publication and excited about sharing it with
[This would be a great way to both promote numismatics and raise
awareness of the organization. The competition will be tough, though,
with several monthly numismatic magazines such as COINage already on
the shelves. -Editor]
TORONTO TRANSIT INTRODUCES NEW TOKEN
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) recently announced a new token,
bucking (at least temporarily) the inexorable worldwide trend toward
electronic fare payment systems. The story was discussed by editor
John Regitko in the November 26th issue of the C.N.A. E-Bulletin
(v2n34) published by the Canadian Numismatic Association. With
permission, we're reprinting much of the article here:
"A total of 24 million tokens were previously in use. With the
change in the tokens today, the old ones will no longer work in
Twenty million of the new tokens were manufactured by Osborne Coinage
of Cincinnati, Ohio (www.osbornecoin.com) at a cost of $1.7 million,
or 8.5 cents per token. Explaining the TTCs sole-source contract, a
spokesperson stated that the firm offered unique security features
that have made it a well-regarded supplier of casino slot tokens. One
TTC manager estimated it will cost the TTC no more than several
thousand dollars to modify each token receptacle to accept the new
On average, the TTC estimates that it loses about $7 million a year
through fraud, including gate jumping and the use of fake tokens and
Metropasses. That loss represents just under 1 per cent of the
systems total revenue.
Members of a cross-border counterfeit ring that cost the TTC about
$10 million were arrested earlier this year, prompting the token
redesign. (It is a) much more complex token. There are edge markers.
Its textured, said TTC spokesperson Marilyn Bolton. Were not
announcing what the metals are.
The new tokens are the size of a dime but vaguely resemble the gold-
and silver-colored Canadian toonie. It incorporates design features
intended to thwart would-be counterfeiters. The swirl pattern on the
face of the coin and ridged edges will make the new token expensive
to fake, TTC officials say.
Asked why the TTC doesnt move away from the old coin and paper ticket
fare formats and towards something like the bar-coded MetroCard commuters
swipe at turnstiles in Manhattan, TTC Chair Howard Moscoe said it costs
too much to build a whole new fare payment system. It will take time
and it is a huge cost, and now the province is making sounds about
paying for a region wide fare card. Id rather spend on new buses.
Smart cards are coming.
Although the new token was available for sale and use earlier today,
you can still use the old tokens on the TTC transit system right up
until January 31, 2007. After January 31, 2007, the old token can no
longer be used as TTC fare. Starting January 2, 2007, an old token
can be exchanged for a new token at selected locations. Or you can
simply hang onto them as traders with other vecturists."
For an illustration of the new token and further details, go to
VIRTUAL WORLD GENERATES FIRST REAL-WORLD MILLIONAIRE
Len Augsburger forwarded an article about the money used in Second Life,
a web site/game/virtual world that has attracted a loyal user base and
lately, plenty of publicity. He writes: "This article starts to change
the whole notion of what money really is......." Here are a few excerpts:
"Anshe Chung, a real-estate tycoon in the digitally simulated world known
as Second Life, has apparently become the first virtual millionaire--i.e.,
someone whose holdings in a make-believe world are legally convertible
into genuine U.S. currency worth more than $1 million."
"Second Life's creators and denizens do not like it to be called a game
--you don't shoot at monsters while you're there, for instance--but it
might be categorized nonetheless as a special variety of so-called
massively multiplayer online role-playing game (or MMORPG for relatively
short), albeit one that is more akin to SimCity than to World of Warcraft.
In Second Life, subscribers get a tool kit that enables them to build
and create an avatar (a character in the world). They also get a small
quantity of Linden dollars to start out with, enabling the participant
to buy additional tools and objects within the world itself. Linden
Lab converts currency at a floating rate that, at the moment, is about
257 Linden dollars per U.S. dollar.
Though you can buy additional Linden dollars from Linden Lab by paying
U.S. currency, Chung says she has made all her additional Linden dollars
via in-world buying, building, trading, and selling. The lion's share of
it, she says, has been made by buying, developing, and then renting or
reselling "land"--i.e., control over the virtual real estate simulated
by Linden's servers."
To read the complete article, see:
The reader comments following the article are plentiful and come at
the issues from all sides. They make great reading as well - here
are a few:
"This is nothing more than a pyramid scheme. For a few to get rich,
many more will have to give up their real money. No real wealth can
be created in a virtual world."
"This is the future of the Internet and world wide economy. Everyone
wondered why you would buy virtual real estate during the birth of
the Internet. Now the domain name market has made many millionaires.
All businesses who rely on web pages have the same risk if ever the
servers were to shut down. There will be many more millionaires made
in Second Life and other virtual worlds. Virtual World Real People."
"All value is virtual. A piece of land, a book, a car, a stock, a
painting, any good or service you can name - it doesn't matter whether
it actually exists or not. What does matter is if people want it, and
what they will pay for it. Where there is any demand and finite supply,
there is value."
"Second Life is rife with casinos where one may bet, win or lose,
Linden Dollars. Since these are, as mentioned in this article, convertible
to US Dollars, does Second World not run afoul of the new US prohibition
against online gambling?"
"I actually do think the time is coming when "virtual" property is given
a legal value and therefore, a true physical presence. Remember, our
technological laws are based mostly on telephone and telegraphs, radios
and TV's. The time is now to re-write the law of the virtual world as
it becomes more a part of our daily world..."
"Actually, the US Congress is in the preliminary stages of probing
virtual economies. That should be considered a good indicator of how
lucrative this virtual "waste of time" (as some have deemed it) can be."
[Put me in the "money is what people agree it is" camp. As I've often
noted when discussing private currencies such as Labor Exchange Notes
or Liberty Dollars or Boggs bills, the "real" value of any currency
exists only because the parties to a transaction agree on that value.
The Linden dollars may be convertible to U.S. Dollars, but those dollars
are just as "virtual" - they only have a value because my fellow citizens
agree to accept them in turn for the "real" things I want - food,
clothing, shelter, entertainment, Internet access or ... a piece of
virtual real estate. -Editor]
LIBERTY DOLLAR FIGHTING FOR EXISTENCE
Speaking of the Liberty Dollar, its creator Bernard von NotHaus has
published the November 2006 issue of his commentary, and the recent
U.S. Mint position is having many repercussions. In an opening segment
headlined "Liberty Dollar Faces Extinction", von NotHaus writes:
"The Liberty Dollar is now under attack from
our bank. On Monday,
November 20, the Evansville office received a certified letter from
our bank, Old National Bank, which said: "Please be advised that if
you do not close the Account within 15 days of the date of this letter
(11.16.06), Old National Bank will exercise its right to close the
Had we bounced checks? Nope, not a one. Were we a difficult customer?
Definitely not. Had we done anything to warrant the bank to close our
account? No, but obviously something upset the banking powers to be.
The VP for Bank Security, who ordered the letter, told us that they
had investigated our business and said that the "nature of our business"
was too risky for them..."
"The Liberty Dollar is clearly under siege. Quite simply, without a
bank account and merchant card services, it is all but impossible to
do business in this day and age. We face the real possibility that
the Liberty Dollar could die... and put all the ideals it stands for
at risk! A very sobering thought I dare say."
[The newsletter goes on to say that the organization's recently hired
Executive Director, Mike Johnson, has resigned. It also has an account
of a proponent's recent Wal-Mart visit, where $60 worth of Liberty
"coins" and certificates were "spent". -Editor]
To read the complete newsletter, see:
HAWAIIAN LIBERTY DOLLAR LAUNCHED
Also in Bernard von NotHaus' November 2006 newsletter is announcement
of a new version the Liberty Dollar. He writes: "So what do I do in
my spare time? Recently when I had a couple of days, I went to Hawaii
for the weekend and launched a Hawaiian version of the Liberty Dollar.
Announcing the new 2007 Hawaii Dala featuring King Kamehameha on the
obverse with a Face Value of $20 so if you are inclined, you can
actually use it as voluntary kala because one Hawaiian Dala is equal
to one US dollar. Check out the photos:
What is to come? A lot! The six historic mega designs I did for the
30th anniversary for the old Royal Hawaiian Mint in 2004 will be issued
in three sizes for a total of 18 issues. One design per size per month.
The six designs are: Kamehameha, Liliuokalani, Kalakaua, Kaiulani,
Warrior, and Discovers. The three sizes at the current $20 Silver Base
will be: one ounce $20 Hawaii Dala, a half ounce $10 Hapalua Dala, and
a quarter ounce $5 Hapaha Dala. All in .999 fine silver.
In addition to each of these 18 silver Dala issues, a minimum of 100
of each issue will be hallmarked with a micro hand stamp with the outline
of the Hawaiian Island to denote First Day of Issue. And an additional
minimum of 100 will also be hand numbered 001 to 100 with the FDI
hallmark. Both of these Limited Issues will be available at a premium
to Face Value and market priced."
To read the complete newsletter, see:
[The designs seem very nicely done; the images provided appear to be of
proof examples. -Editor]
WESTCHESTER COUNTY COIN CLUB MEMORIES
Rick Witschonke writes: "The item on the Westchester County Coin Club
brought back fond memories. In the early 60s, I became interested in
coins, and the fellow who was the counselor for the Boy Scout coin
collecting merit badge was a member of the club. He started taking
me to the meetings, which opened a whole new world for a 15 year old.
The club met at the New Rochelle YMCA, and the cigar smoke was so thick
you couldn't see across the room. I remember in particular Ernest
Wiedhaus, who looked like he had stepped out of the 19th century, and
Ed Janis, with his wonderful large cents. Everyone was very kind and
DEAD MAN'S PENNY ALSO ISSUED FOR WOMEN
Regarding the British World War I Memorial Plaque (also called the
Dead Man's Penny), Philip Mernick writes: "As already mentioned these
are (unfortunately) still very common in the UK and frequently seen at
antiques centres and militaria shows. I understand, however, that there
were a small number made to commemorate the deaths of women. In those
days women were not enrolled as soldiers but many served in medical
positions close to the front. I believe that most or perhaps all of
the plaques were awarded to nurses, but do not know how many were
issued. Having never seen one illustrated, I do not know if they had
the same design or even if they were the same size. I have, however,
heard that they have been faked due to their rarity and consequent value."
TASMANIAN HERO'S VICTORIA CROSS SOLD
On November 29 the Australian Broadcasting Corporation aired a story
about the recent Bonhams & Goodman sale of the Bernard Gordon Victoria
Cross medal. A transcript of the piece is posted on the web.
"Like so many other young Australians, Tasmanian-born, Lance Corporal
Bernard Gordon found himself on the other side of the world in 1918.
And it was there, in France, that he fought his way into history,
awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery.
His medal, the rare and highest military honour for a Commonwealth
soldier was sold at auction in Sydney last night for almost half a
To read the complete transcript, see:
ON THE SCIENTIFIC VALUE OF UNEARTHED ARTIFACTS
Katie Jaeger writes: "Reading last week's item entitled "TEMPLE TROVE
DISCOVERY BARES THE POLITICS OF ARCHEOLOGY IN ISRAEL" brought back a
load of memories, especially the following: "...the Waqf dug a large
pit, removed tons of earth and rubble that had been used as landfill
and dumped much of it in the nearby Kidron Valley....Though Israel's
archaeological establishment had shown no interest in the rubble,
Zweig was sure it was important..."
Why would archaeologists have no interest in rubble removed from a
Biblical-era archaeological site? Because it is unstratified. That
is, artifacts which are no longer in situ cannot be reliably used to
tell you much about the site from which they came. Between 1976 and
1981, I spent five summers on digs in Israel. It was where I first
heard the word "numismatist," because the first dig I participated
in at Tel Aphek (site of Herod's mercantile capital, Antipatris) had
a numismatist on staff, and I had to ask, "what's that?". It was
there that I learned the importance (and drawbacks) of using coins as
tools for dating the structures amidst which they are found.
I have two Herodian and one Byzantine coin sitting in my jewelry box
today, that I brought home with me in 1976. Rules for removal of
artifacts from Israel were just as tight then as they are now, but
I had permission to take these, because I found them in Aphek's dirt
dump. Moshe Kochavi, who is now head of Israel's Department of
Antiquities, was our dig director in 1976.
At that time, Tel Aviv University was conducting excavations all
over the country and had limited funds, so he ordered the opening
of some sites with a bulldozer, before the expensive-to-maintain
hordes of American and European university volunteeers arrived.
American archaeologists found this shocking, but it was only
practical...the upper layers of soil above a site have been disturbed
by wind, water, insects and worms anyway and any artifacts on the
immediate surface are considered unstratified, and therefore
scientifically useless. And of course, many probes had been
conducted prior to bringing in the heavy equipment, so they had a
pretty good idea at which point to bring in the diggers with our
little picks and brushes.
On lazy afternoons, when it was too hot for sane people to be out
in the field and when the rest of the crew were napping, I and a few
others would go to the dirt dumps with metal detectors, because we
were allowed to keep whatever we found. Aphek was one of the most
fascinating sites in Israel...talk about strata! Due to the presence
of an artesian spring there, it was continuously occupied from the
Early Bronze age to the present.
In one summer, in five different areas, we were excavating Early
Bronze dwellings of mud brick, Iron Age four-room houses of limestone,
the main street of Herod's Antipatris (complete with paving stones,
curbed sidewalks and shops), and a Byzantine-era patrician villa
floored with mosaics. A ca. 1400 AD Turkish fort stood complete
on the site, and the dig team of about 150 people from all over the
world lived in pre-1948 British Army barracks. A sift through the
dirt dumps produced potsherds, coins, glass fragments, mosaic tesserae,
and what have you, from all these periods.
Anywhere you go in the ancient world, Jordan, Iraq, Syria...artifacts
like potsherds, coins, even the occasional scarab (in Egypt) can be
found lying on the ground. Natural geological and biological processes
sift them gradually toward the surface. On the Mediterranean beach at
Caesarea, I found hundreds of pottery artifacts...worn by wind and
water to be sure, but clearly recognizable to the trained eye, as to
what era produced them.
Because it is unstratified, it is generally OK to keep anything you
find on the surface as long as you are not on an active dig site,
national historic site, or shrine. (The same is not true in the U.S.)
Anyway, those truckloads of Jerusalem rubble are interesting, and
should be investigated, but their scientific value is limited."
MANLEY GOLD BAR THIEF SENTENCED
On November 29th the Associated Press reported that "A house painter
was sentenced Tuesday to six months in jail for stealing a 4-pound
gold bar from NBA agent Dwight Manley's home and selling it to a coin
An Orange County Superior Court judge also sentenced Lawrence Wach to
three years probation after he pleaded guilty to burglary, grand theft
and petty theft of a pawn broker.
Wach was also ordered to have no contact with Manley nor the dealer
who bought the bar in exchange for $9,500 and 40 ounces of gold."
"The bar, made during the California Gold Rush, was valued at about
$500,000 and was stolen from Manley's home nearly a year ago while
Wach was working there, police said."
To read the entire article, see:
[The article notes that the painter is repaying the dealer he sold
the bar to. Word around the hobby is that the dealer was in negotiations
to resell it for a six-figure markup to another dealer who was expecting
to add his own six-figure markup before placing the bar with a client.
By "six-figure" we're not including the numbers to the right of the
If such a deal had come to pass, but one can't help but wonder who
would be seen as the biggest thief. Everyone has to make a living and
in a free society there's no law against profiting to the greatest
extent the market will bear. Numismatic ethics isn't our purview here,
but four-pound gold bars don't just haul themselves up from the bottom
of the ocean and land in a painter's lunchbucket every day. Didn't the
deal smell just a teensy bit from the get-go? -Editor]
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE PONDERS "STATEHOOD" QUARTER FOR D.C.
"Lincoln and his memorial are taken by the penny. And E Pluribus
Unum is already standard on U.S. coins.
But with a host of new Democrats in Congress, the District might
finally get a chance to ponder those numismatic issues via the D.C.
Coin Bill, which Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) has been trying
to get passed for years.
The bill would allow the District to participate in the U.S. Mint's
50 State Quarters Program and come up with a unique design for the
reverse of a special-issue quarter."
"The design would have to be "emblematic," according to the law that
authorized the program, and it could not be "frivolous or
"Bill Krawczewicz, who designed the Maryland quarter, says you don't
have a lot of space, so you need something iconic.
"And for a motto, how about: Potius sero quam numquam (Better late
To read the complete article, see:
QUICK QUIZ: WHAT'S MISSING FROM THE PRESIDENTIAL DOLLARS?
Relating to the new U.S. Presidential dollars discussed last week,
which required-by-law features are nowhere to be found on the obverse
or reverse of the coins?
ANTHONY DOLLARS ARE FOREIGN IN COLORADO
Bill Rosenblum writes: "The following was in the Rocky Mountain News
gossip column this morning, (Nov. 30)"
"EAVESDROPPING on a man talking about a store in the Aurora Town
Center: "I was trying to buy a watch battery with Susan B. Anthony
dollars. The clerk said, 'No, we only take American money.' "
To read the complete article, see:
DANIEL CARR'S ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK QUARTER
Perhaps many of you have seen this already, but it was new to me
this week. Coin designer Daniel Carr offers examples of an alternative
design for the New York statehood quarter called the "Defiant Finger
Tower" On the not-for-family-usage design, a new building sends a
not-so-subtle message to would-be terrorists.
To view an image of the coin, see:
MAKING SMALL CHANGE SMALLER: HOW TO SHINK COINS FOR FUN
David Fanning writes: "Check this out: it hardly qualifies as
numismatic research or of bibliomaniac note, but those E-Sylum
subscribers who (like me) grew up trying to use their chemistry
sets to blow stuff up will likely enjoy it."
[David forwarded a link to a Popular Science article titled
"Making Small Change Smaller" -Editor]
"Take, for example, my friend Bert Hickman, a retired electrical
engineer living outside Chicago: He rather enjoys using magnetic
force to smash coins to roughly half their normal size. (He then
sells them on eBay, of course.)
"Bert begins the coin-shrinking process by wrapping a quarter in
copper wire and bolting the leads to copper bus bars, which are
connected, by way of a triggered spark gap, to a 600-pound bank
of 12,000-volt capacitors. A bulletproof blast shield encloses
the coin and coil, and a high-voltage power supply charges up the
capacitors. The only thing holding back the several thousand joules
of energy stored in the capacitors is the tiny space between the
spark gap's two brass discs.
"Pressing a switch triggers the spark gap, which releases the entire
charge through the coil in 25 millionths of a second. This creates
a huge magnetic field, which induces a current and then a magnetic
field inside the coin, which in turn pushes back against the field
outside. The repulsion force between these two fields crushes the
metal, instantly taking a quarter down to the size of a dime.
"Bert happily takes custom orders by mail... "Clad" U.S. coins,
such as quarters, work best-they contain a conductive copper core
sandwiched between a nickel-copper alloy-but most metal currencies
will do the trick."
To read the complete article, see:
To visit the coin-shrinker's web site, see:
For some great images of shrunken coins, see:
FEATURED WEB SITE: WWII GUERILLA MONEY OF THE PHILIPPINES
This week's featured web site is on the WWII emergency and guerrilla
paper money issues of the Philippines.
"The purpose of this site is to illustrate the indomitable will of
the human spirit, and to show the many sides of conflict. This will
be accomplished through the use of the currency which was made for
use during, and immediately following, WWII in the Philippines.
The Guerrilla money, which is the main focus of this web site, was
accepted out of both national pride as much as necessity. To be
caught by the Japanese with this money was often punishable by
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