The E-Sylum v9#51, December 17, 2006

esylum at esylum at
Sun Dec 17 20:19:53 PST 2006

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 9, Number 51, December 17, 2006:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Ray Murphy, David E. Schenkman, Bill
Nyberg, Arnold Miniman, John Dannreuther, James Wiles and David Yoon.
Welcome aboard!  We now have 1,019 subscribers.

Happy Birthday to my eldest son Christopher, who turns eight tomorrow.  
We worked on adding to his statehood quarter books last weekend but I 
couldn't bribe him into helping me with an E-Sylum review of The 
Official Red Book of Washington and State Quarters.  He and his brother 
Tyler are big readers, but it'll be a while before I can pull a Bill 
Keane and let one of my kids take over my editorial duties for a day.  

All three of my kids have a lot to learn about numismatics, but they 
have picked up a few things from their old man along the way.  Other 
concepts come naturally, but need a little work.  When my wife found 
the right half of a dollar bill in six-year-old Tyler's pocket this 
week, she asked where the rest of it was.  He said he wanted to give 
his friend at school half of his dollar, so he tore it in two and gave 
the left half away.  

Cutting a Spanish pillar dollar into pieces of eight came just as 
naturally to people centuries ago, but there is a slight difference 
between paper and silver.  Just ask two-year-old Hannah.  While playing 
today I said "Here's my money," handing her a play dollar and coin. 
Pointing to the paper she said "that's a dollar."  Pointing to the 
coin she said, "THIS is MONEY!"

This week's issue brings news of a new editor for the NBS print journal, 
The Asylum, and word of new books on the Denver Mint and world coinage.  
Reviewed in some detail is the upcoming Holabird-Kagin Americana fixed 
price list of precious metal ingots and specimens.  In other precious-
metal news related to numismatics, the U.S. Mint bans coin melting and 
Korea unveils new, cheaper-to-manufacture coins made of copper-coated 

In research news, David Gladfelter discusses Labor Exchange notes of 
the Great Depression, Rich Jewell and Roger Burdette correct a 
misstatement about the creator of the ANS Saltus medal, and Bob 
Rightmire provides an update on his Guttag Brothers information quest.

What do Joe DiMaggio, B.B. King, William Safire and Natan Sharansky 
have in common?  And what interesting numismatic story is to be found 
in a 1962 issue of Adventures in Radioisotope Research?  Read on to 
find out. Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Pete Smith, President of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS), 
announced today that the NBS board of trustees has ratified the 
appointment of David Yoon, of New York City, as the editor of The 
Asylum, the Society’s official print journal.  Yoon, whose appointment 
is effective January 1, 2007, replaces E. Tomlinson Fort, of Pittsburgh, 
who resigned in order to devote his full energies to his graduate 

Yoon is an active field archaeologist, currently an assistant director 
of a medieval excavation in France and a co-director of a regional 
archaeological project in Italy.  He has extensive experience as an 
editor, including non-numismatic materials such as medical and computer 
books as well as numismatic work. In particular, he has done editing, 
design, typesetting, and production work for the American Numismatic 
Society, on their scholarly journal The American Journal of 
Numismatics and several books.

Pete Smith said “The NBS is both delighted and honored to have secured 
the services of David Yoon as editor of our 27 year-old print journal, 
The Asylum.  David is widely admired as one of the most knowledgeable 
and insightful editors in all of numismatics.  He will take our award-
winning journal to new heights of quality and accessibility.”  Yoon 
commented, “I’m pleased to be working with the NBS, and I hope to be 
able to build on the excellent work of the past editors of The Asylum.”

Smith said that the NBS welcomes contributions to The Asylum from members 
and non-members alike, so long as they pertain to numismatic books, 
journals, catalogues, and fixed price literature.  Submissions should 
be sent to David Yoon electronically at dyoon at

[For those who are new to The E-Sylum, what you're reading is the weekly 
ELECTRONIC newsletter of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.  The Asylum 
is our quarterly PRINT journal.  The Asylum is sent only to members of 
the society; The E-Sylum is free to all.  While The E-Sylum is great for 
short news items, research requests, commentary, quiz questions and the 
like, The Asylum is the place for longer, fully researched, edited and 
annotated articles.  Only NBS members are entitled to this great journal, 
but the good news is the price of membership is only $15 per year to U.S. 
addresses ($20 elsewhere).  

There is a membership application available on the NBS
web site at this address:

To join, print the application and return it with your check 
to the address printed on the application. Membership is only 
$15 to addresses in the U.S., $20 elsewhere.  For more information,
write to David M. Sundman, Secretary/Treasurer at
dsundman at   -Editor]


'The Denver Mint: 100 Years of Gangsters, Gold, and Ghosts' by Lisa Ray 
Turner and Kimberly Field has recently been published by Mapletree 
Publishing Company, Denver, CO.  From the book's web page:

"This is the most comprehensive book ever published about the Denver 
Mint. It takes readers from the days when gold dust was legal tender 
in the dusty frontier town of Denver to the present when the Mint is 
a world-class facility that makes most of our coins. History buffs will 
love the book’s historical highlights while casual readers will enjoy 
seeing how the cultural events and trends influenced money and life at 
the Mint.

"The book provides a unique, behind-the-scenes look at the Denver 
Mint — entertaining stories of colorful characters, controversial coins, 
and the creative artists behind the nation’s coinage. It covers 
everything from workday life at the Mint to tales of gangsters and 
dramatic gold transfers."

The 192-page illustrated softcover book is available from the 
publisher for $18.95 postpaid.  For more information, see:  


Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing writes: "Money of the World will 
be the largest Whitman book of recent years to focus on ancient and 
world coins. Personally, as a world coin collector, I found it a lot 
of fun to work on. The coin images that illustrate the book are 
amazing!"  Dennis forwarded a copy of the press release for the 
new book:

"Whitman Publishing will release a book in 2007 that illustrates 
how coins were shaped by the development of Western Civilization—
and how they sometimes helped shape it in turn. 'Money of the World: 
Coins That Made History' (320 pgs, hardcover, color; $49.95) will 
debut in January at the New York International Numismatic Convention 
and will be available nationwide in February.

“The inspiration for this book began more than 40 years ago,” said 
coeditor Ira Goldberg, of Ira and Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles. 
“I was fascinated by the relationship of coinage to money and the 
historical importance of the role coins played.”

When a client offered Ira and his cousin Larry Goldberg the chance 
to build an unprecedented world-coin collection, they took on the 
project with gusto. “For us as coin dealers,” said Larry, “this was 
both a dream come true and an unparalleled adventure.”

The Millennia Collection, illustrated throughout the book, tells 
the history of Western Civilization through significant coins of the 
realm. Each coin had to meet certain criteria before it could be 
added to the collection:

1. It must have been struck for commerce     
   (not as a pattern or commemorative).
2. It had to capture both the beauty and the art of the period.
3. It had to be the largest circulating size or denomination; 
    therefore, dollars, talers, and gold are frequently showcased.
4. It had to be of superb quality, not just “the best you can get.”
5. Above all, the coin had to have a story to tell."

[The book's editors are Ira and Larry Goldberg.  The authors are 
Richard G. Doty, senior curator of numismatics at the Smithsonian 
Institution, Robert Wilson Hoge, a curator at the American Numismatic 
Society in New York, Ana Lonngi de Vagi, a researcher of Latin 
American history and coinage, Bruce Lorich, Michael J. Shubin and 
David L. Vagi.  -Editor]


As noted last week, Carlos Jara's and Alan Luedeking's latest book, 
"The Early Coinage of the Mint of Santiago de Chile: 1749-1772" has 
been published and is ready to ship.
Alan Luedeking writes: "To order the book, contact me at alan at  
I will fill orders for delivery in the USA and Carlos (clejara at 
will ship to Europe, Latin America and the rest of the world."

To read the complete review, see:


Stack's and American Numismatic Rarities aren’t the only numismatic 
firms merging: "Kagin’s, Inc. and Holabird Americana have combined 
forces into a new venture called Holabird-Kagin Americana, a division 
of Kagin’s, Inc. The two biggest entities in “collecting the West” 
join forces to bring a new level of education and opportunity to the 
collecting field... The result of this merger will include a series 
of fixed price catalogs focusing on Western Americana specimens of 
high rarity, quality and variety, with unparalleled descriptions 
drawn from the research and knowledge of Dr. Kagin and Mr. Holabird."

"Holabird states, “the new venture will allow me to concentrate on 
the acquisition and sales of great Western Americana rarities, as 
well as continue to bring new published works to the marketplace.” 

"Currently, Holabird has four books due for publication within the 
next year, including what is expected to be the primary reference 
book on ingots."

The above text is taken from the new firm's first fixed-price catalog, 
which is due to be posted online next week.  I was fortunate to have 
an opportunity to review advance copies of several pages, and every 
numismatist with an interest in the American West and gold bars and 
ingots in particular should take notice. 

The catalog consists of "the Robert Bass Collection of precious metal 
ingots and western assayer receipts as well as specimens put together 
by A.M. Kagin several decades ago for the Kagin Reference Collection."

"Many of the items presented here (several for the first time ever 
at a fixed price) are unique. Others, while collectable, remain 
controversial and deserve more research and are so noted in our 
listing. In all cases we have endeavored to present all pertinent 
information- controversial or not – about the origin of the ingots 
based not on tradition or circumstantial evidence, but on the actual 
science and empirical data."

The catalog opens with a selection of U.S. Assay Office & U.S. Branch 
Mint Ingots from New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco.  The 
catalog acknowledges that "Precious Metal ingots have been made at 
the US Branch Mint and Assay Offices since their inception. The only 
definitively pre-1900 Mint or Assay Office ingots that exist in the 
knowledge of the author are from the Denver Branch Mint, held in an 
institutional collection dated 1865. Most of the ingots seen at coin 
shows are products of twentieth century collecting. Most are silver 
and post-WWII."

The remainder of the catalog is organized by geographic area: Arizona, 
California, Colorado, Dakota, Idaho, Mexico, Montana, Nevada and New 
Mexico.  For researchers and ephemera collectors, the final section 
features Assay Certificates.

A number of gold and silver ingots of the Thorne Mining & Refining 
Company are pictured in the Arizona section.  Cataloger Holabird 
writes that "the Thorne pieces, which are not dated, are a product 
of the post-1964 silver craze. They were most probably made for sale 
into the bullion markets, though most are silver. They have remained 
very collectible, however, primarily because they are an artistic 

A number of presentation ingots are pictured and described, including 
one from the Colorado-Philadelphia Reduction Company, which "was 
presented to one of the CPRC Board members upon the opening of the 
reduction works in 1896. J. A. Hayes, whose name is borne upon the 
ingot in fancy engraved fashion of the period was the president of 
the First National Bank in Colorado Springs and one of the key 
investors in the Company."

The Assay Certificate section is led by a Gold Bullion receipt for 
the Branch Mint of the United States at Charlotte, North Carolina, 
June 27, 1840.  Also included is a "Letter from the Mint of the United 
States at Carson, Nevada, dated December, 1890. L. L. Elrod, cashier 
for the Mint, writes to R. Keating, the superintendent of the Savage 
Mining Co. that he has received 334 pounds of bullion. Letters from 
the Mint are scarce."

The Holabird-Kagin Americana catalog is well illustrated with color 
photos of nearly every item, accompanied by lengthy footnoted text 
descriptions.  It's a real eye-opener. I've been in numismatics for 
years, but have never seen most of the pieces illustrated here.   I 
suspect the catalog will be in demand as a reference work, for it 
contains much information to be found no where else.  To obtain a 
copy, contact the firm at 888-8KAGINS for visit their web site at 

Fred Holabird adds: "The most controversial piece that I rendered an 
opinion on was the Eagle mining Company, which were created using a 
copy the logo of the US Mint!

"I now have a photo of an 1892 New York Assay Office silver ingot, 
unquestionably authentic, in an old collection. I didn't have this 
at the time of the last writing. This is typical of what will come 
in the ingot book to be published by Monaco in 2007."


This is not big news to E-Sylum readers - with the reports we've seen 
about other countries banning coin melting, it was only a matter of 
time before the U.S. would follow suit.  Once of the first reports hit 
the Associated Press wire on Thursday and was published by the Chicago 

"Given rising metal prices, the pennies and nickels in your pocket 
are worth more melted down than their face value -- and that has the 
government worried.

"U.S. Mint officials said Wednesday they were putting into place 
rules prohibiting the melting down of 1-cent and 5-cent coins, with 
a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 
for people convicted of violating the rule.

"A nickel is 25 percent nickel and 75 percent copper. The metal in 
one coin costs 6.99 cents for each 5-cent coin. 

Modern pennies have 2.5 percent copper content with zinc making up 
the rest of the coin. The current copper and zinc in a penny are 
worth 1.12 cents."

To read the complete article, see:,CST-NWS-mint14.article 

The New York Times noted "The Mint is also testing dozens of cheaper 
alternative metal compositions in the expectation that Congress will 
mandate a change when it meets in the new year."

"In an interview yesterday, Edmund C. Moy, director of the Mint, 
said officials were aware of only a few people asking if it was legal 
to melt coins for their metal value. Without the ban, which takes 
effect tomorrow, it would be. 

The new ban also forbids exporting pennies or nickels in any significant 
quantities. While the Mint is not concerned about tourists’ pocket change 
or numismatic collections, it wants to block wholesale export of coins 
to countries where recycling them for their metal content could be 
economically viable."

To read the complete article, see: 


Dick Johnson writes: "On Thursday (December 14, 2006) the U.S. Mint 
issued an interim ruling that U.S. coins cannot be melted. Try telling 
that to the Secret Service. Such a ruling is, in my opinion, 
unenforcable. "Look out, here come the penny police!"
"The coins in your possession are your property. You can do with them 
what you wish -- toss them in glass jars, lay them on railroad tracks 
for trains to run over, run them thru elongating machines, engrave 
hobos on the reverse, even counterstamp with letters or your name. 
"Or you can spend them. That is where the government has control over 
coins in circulation -- not when they are your property -- they control 
coins as commerce. If you put them back in circulation as U.S. money 
the government can have some legal action over the coins at this point.
"If you melt the coins you cannot spend them. Thus this ruling has 
little or no effect. It is a gray area.
"Mint officials are frightened of mass melting of cents and nickels. 
And so they should be. Worse yet, is the possibility of a metal-starved 
country like China buying up all the low denomination coins, shipping 
them all to Asia to melting for the retrievable copper, zinc and nickel.
"This U.S. Mint ruling is like treating the symptoms instead of the 
disease. The "disease" in this case is the rising economy of America. 
And that is a good thing. Our economy is advancing so rapidly that our 
two lowest coin denominations have little purchasing power that the cost 
of their metal plus the cost of manufacture are greater than the economic 
value of their denominations.
"I outlined the solution to this problem in The E-Sylum ten weeks back. 
Don't melt anything. Keep all the coins circulating. Just revalue all 
cents and nickels to 10-cent value. This can be done by Treasury 
Secretary's wave of his pen! He should rule that on a designated 
Saturday midnight all cents and nickels are revalued.  Problem solved.  
See my E-Sylum article:


If you wish to see Thursday's news article from ABC 
(quoting Dave Ganz) click on: "


While the U.S. frets over what to do about the cost of raw materials, 
the Korea Times reports that "The Bank of Korea said Monday it would 
issue new 10-won coins and distribute them to banks next Monday for 
public circulation.

"The new coin will be smaller and lighter than the current one. It 
weighs 1.2 grams and is 18 millimeters in diameter, while the current 
one weighs 4.06 grams and is 22.86 millimeters in diameter.

"The bank has decided to manufacture the coin using copper-coated 
aluminum, which is much cheaper and lighter than an alloy of copper 
and zinc used for the current ones. The bank said it could save about 
4 billion won in manufacturing costs annually by changing the material."

"South Korea is the first country to use copper-coated aluminum for 
manufacturing coins. The bank said tests show the material is good 
for smaller coins." 

To read the complete article, see: 


David Klinger writes: "The last E-Sylum issue did not mention that 
the traditional "LIBERTY" inscription is also missing from the design 
of the new coins, and has not been moved to the edge design. The 
Presidential $1 Coin Act (Public Law 109-145) states: 
"Inscriptions of ‘Liberty’.—Notwithstanding the second sentence of
subsection (d)(1), because the use of a design bearing the likeness 
of the Statue of Liberty on the reverse of the coins issued under 
this subsection adequately conveys the concept of Liberty, the 
inscription of ‘Liberty’ shall not appear on the coins."

The full text of Public Law 109-145 can be read here:
of_2005.pdf "


The Presidential dollar coins have gotten most of the press coverage 
recently, but the First Spouse coins are next in line.  The coins are 
scheduled to be released in May 2007.  According to Numismatic News, 
"The design of the pure gold 2007 First Spouse coins will be displayed 
publicly for the first time at a presentation and reception Tuesday, 
Dec. 19, at 10 a.m. 

The event will be held at the National First Ladies Library in Canton, 
Ohio. The event will be hosted by U.S. Mint Director Edmund C. Moy, 
National First Ladies Library Founder Mary Regula, and Dolley Madison 
re-enactor Lucinda Frailly." 

"Four half-ounce gold First Spouse coins will be minted annually in 
the order the spouses served in the White House. The collectible coins 
will coincide with the release of the four circulating Presidential $1 
coins that will be issued annually." 

To read the complete article, see:

Last week Pete Smith posed this question about Du Simitiere’s 
American Museum: "If a traveler wished to visit the location of 
the American Museum today, what would they find occupying the site?"

Gar Travis writes: "I like these quizzes - some are rather challenging. 
Du Simitiere’s American Museum was initially housed in his home until 
1794, when he rented space at the American Philosophical Society 
building.  In 1802 he moved the museum to the Pennsylvania State 
House (Independence Hall) where it remained until 1829.  Source: )"

Yes, but what occupies the initial museum site today?  It could have 
been a cheesesteak stand for all I know.  But Pete's answer is one 
we all recognize.  Joel Orosz writes: "The answer to the question 
is the Fourth (and current) United States Mint!
"One correction, though--although I would be proud to be an EAC 
Board member, I am not now, nor have I ever been a member of that 
Board.  I am a long-time Board member of the NBS."

[NBS Board member Joel Orosz is the author of “The Eagle That is 
Forgotten.”, a great book about Pierre Eugene du Simitiere.  


Regarding the recent item on Smythe’s offering of Labor Exchange 
notes, David Gladfelter writes: "Labor exchange notes again came 
into use during the Great Depression. To quote from Ralph Mitchell 
and Neil Shafer's Depression Scrip catalog: 

'As the unemployed had no money with which to buy anything, it became 
the purpose of the various organizations of the unemployed to find a 
way of providing necessities to members without having to use money. 
Barter and trade were often resorted to, and some organizations issued 
scrip as an exchange medium. 

'In January of 1933, there were over 140 separate barter exchanges 
in the United States, with over a million people making use of their 
facilities through trade scrip. Members of these groups traded one 
service for another or exchanged one commodity for another. When it 
was not possible for one member to perform a service directly for 
another, some means of credit for future exchange had to be given. 

The formula was simple -- trade hours of work for value to be 
received later.' 

David continues: "One way of doing this was to issue scrip, sometimes 
valued in units of time (as with the De Bernardi notes) and sometimes 
in monetary equivalents although the scrip would state that it was a 
credit unit and not money.
"Some scrip of the Milwaukee Unemployed Labor and Commodity Exchange 
was saved by my father and has been in our family for over 70 years. 
Shafer considers this organization to have been one of the most 
successful of the unemployed labor groups.
"It should be noted that Thomas Edison once proposed that the Federal 
Reserve system be operated as a commodity exchange. In the introduction 
to his pamphlet entitled "A Proposed Amendment to the Federal Reserve 
Banking System," Edison wrote, "Some time ago Mr. [Henry?] Ford asked 
me to see if I could not invent some plan for helping the Farmer. I 
have approached the matter in the same way that I do with a mechanical 
or other invention, namely, get all the facts as far as possible, and 
then see what can be done to solve the problem." Edison's proposal got 
a cold reception from economists, so he abandoned it. The story is told 
by David Hammes and Douglas Wills in the Winter 2004 issue of Financial 
History magazine."


I haven't seen a copy of Financial History magazine yet, so I asked 
David Gladfelter for more information.  He writes: "Financial History 
magazine is put out by the Museum of American Finance, which was founded 
by John Herzog (principal of R. M. Smythe Co.) and is about to move out 
of a tiny space in the basement of 26 Broadway, New York, into the Morgan 
building on Wall St. around the corner from the Stock Exchange. To be 
a museum member costs something like $20. The museum's web site is"

[I checked the web site, and the membership fee is actually $40.  
But back issues of the quarterly journal are available for $3 each.  


Bob Leonard writes: "Your new search engine gives some very peculiar 
results.  For example, Dick Johnson claims to have provided 500 articles 
to the E-Sylum alone, yet if you search for "Dick Johnson" very few 
appear.  I searched under my own name and found hardly any of my 
contributions--yet if you use "Lesher" as a search term, one of the 
omitted items comes up (with Dick Johnson too), that doesn't appear 
under my own name.  I don't understand this.

[Hmmm.  I tried Bob's examples, and he's right.  I’m not sure what’s 
going on.  Dick does have hundreds of articles in The E-Sylum archive, 
but they’re not coming up here.   He is referred to both as "Robert 
Leonard" and "Bob Leonard", but searching in each of these and summing 
the total still falls short.  I'll look into this.  Thanks for the 
feedback!  -Editor]
Bob adds: "Incidentally, the Harry Bass Research Foundation has redone 
their web search, and screwed it up badly.  It used to be a very valuable 
search engine (like what you are attempting), but now it is extremely 
erratic, with either no hits or way too many to be useful.  

"Again, as a test I searched for my own name (since I know what a 
complete list is), and was surprised to see one of my COAC papers 
missing.  Searching under the title revealed that part of the title 
had been coded as the "author."  Right now I think that the best 
numismatic reference search (except commercial stuff such as you 
include) is the ANS web site."


The San Francisco Chronicle published an article last Sunday, 
December 10 about recent ruling to make U.S. paper money more 
usable by the blind:

"... former government officials and vending merchants say redesigning 
the 37 million currency bills printed each day would be an unduly 
expensive effort. They argue that the change would force the redesign 
of hundreds of everyday objects, such as ATMs, cash registers and 

"The ruling also is opposed by a larger blind advocacy group, the 
National Federation of the Blind, which calls the American Council 
of the Blind's effort "dangerously misguided" in suggesting that 
blind people are incapable of identifying currency." 

"A National Academy of Sciences study in 1995 found that of the 180 
countries that issue paper currency, only the United States printed 
all denominations of bills the same size. The study suggested the 
Treasury Department could both prevent counterfeiting and assist 
low-vision and blind Americans by enlarging fonts and varying the 
bill sizes. Euros, for example, increase in length and height for 
each value. When the U.S. bill underwent redesigns in 1996 and 2004, 
numerals were enlarged so low-vision users could easily distinguish 
the bills, Ferguson said. But the large numbers failed to assist 
legally blind users..." 

Ferguson said the bureau tested braille marks on bills, but 
durability tests showed that they wore off quickly." 

To read the complete article, see:

On Tuesday the government filed an appeal of the judge's decision: 
"Justice Department lawyers filed the appeal with the U.S. Court of 
Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on behalf of Treasury 
Secretary Henry Paulson."

"Jeffrey Lovitky, an attorney for the council, said he planned to 
petition the appeals court to reject the appeal until Robertson 
makes a decision on what remedies the government should pursue. A 
hearing to hear the government's recommendations is scheduled for 
next month."

To read the complete article, see: 

National Public Radio did a piece on the story December 14th.  At 
this web page you can find a link to a recording of the story, and 
read a nice illustrated sidebar article about the features other 
countries use on their banknotes to help the visually impaired. 


Rich Jewell writes: "In the November 27th Coin World article on 
Brenner's Enduring Legacy by Nancy Oliver and Richard Kelly (page 82) 
they show a photo of the Saltus Award and mention that Victor Brenner 
won the prestigious award and he also designed the award. I'm no expert, 
but I'm pretty certain that A. A. Weinman engraved and designed the 
Saltus Award for the American Numismatic Society."

Roger Burdette writes: "That's correct. In my opinion, the figure is 
possibly one of the best ever done for a medal by an American artist. 
The reverse, Pegasus, is illustrated in a slightly different version 
in my Renaissance of American Coinage 1916-1921 book."

[Roger also pointed out a page on the ANS web site describing the 
creation of the Saltus award and medal. -Editor]

"In January 1914 the Council appointed Huntington and two other 
Councillors, Henry Russell Drowne and Charles Dodd, to "work out 
a plan for a competition for the design of the Saltus Medal...  
by the end of 1918, they settled upon an original design by A.A. 

To read more on the Saltus Medal Award, see: 


Although the article doesn't seem to be available online (at least 
not yet), there is a short profile of John Mercanti of the U.S. Mint 
in the December 25, 2006 issue of the Fortune Investor's Guide 2007 
(p152).  It includes a great photo of the prolific sculptor-engraver 
at a work station in the Mint.

"I've been working here since 1974.  At that time I was an illustrator 
but had never sculpted.  Since then I've designed 35 medals and 43 
coins.  We are all classically trained, and we demand a lot [of ourselves] 
because the Mint is known for its beautiful coins... The best part of 
my job is seeing the finished product - holding the coin in my hand.  
It's satisfying to see them all over the country."


According to a report published in The Daily Mail December 13, "The £5 
note is becoming an endangered species. An unannounced decision by banks 
over the past two years not to offer them in cash machines has resulted 
in a shrinking supply.

"The Bank of England produced 63 million last year, the lowest figure 
on record and down 73% in five years."

"But there is a suspicion that most of these are sitting in the vaults 
of banks or retailers. The spokesman said retailers appear increasingly 
to be holding on to £5 notes overnight in their till floats, rather than 
depositing them with banks, probably for the practical reason of having 
them available for change. 

"The result is that the notes that do remain in circulation are 
increasingly likely to be ripped or tatty, as damaged ones are only 
weeded out when returned to the banks." 

"The knock-on effect is that stores cannot offer them in change, which 
means they have to ladle out vast quantities of coins instead."

To read the complete article, see: 


President Bush awarded the Medal of Freedom to several U.S. citizens 
this week.  The Call of Kansas City profiled one awardee in a lengthy 

"John “Buck” O’Neil is finally experiencing what the old Negro hymn 
so graciously shouts -- free at last."

"The former Kansas City Monarch and Negro Leagues legend was awarded 
the Presidential Medal of Freedom, given to America’s finest and such 
sports legends as Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, 
Arthur Ashe, Jesse Owens, Roberto Clemente, Jack Nicklaus and Muhammad 
Ali. O’Neil will join Blues legend B.B. King who will also receive the 
Medal of Freedom next week."

"The first African American coach in Major League Baseball history, who 
also scouted some of the greatest baseball players of all-time, O’Neil 
received numerous awards in his lifetime, but none carry the prestige 
which accompanies the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

"The Presidential Medal of Freedom is one of the two highest civilian 
awards in the United States given by the President.  The other major 
civilian award is the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor."

To read the complete article, see: 

There are ten awardees in all this year, honored at a White House 
ceremony December 15.  O'Neill's award comes posthumously, but several 
of the awardees accepted them in person.  An Associated Press article 
lists them in alphabetical order: Ruth Johnson Colvin, Norman C. 
Francis, Paul Johnson, B.B. King, Joshua Lederberg, David McCullough, 
Norman Y. Mineta, John "Buck" O'Neil, William Safire and Natan 

To read the complete article, see: 

[I've had the pleasure of seeing blues legend B. B. King in concert 
several times, and actually met another one of the awardees, historian 
David McCullough.  The Martha's Vinyard Times interviewed him about 
the award. -Editor]

"President Harry Truman established the award in 1945 to honor service 
during WWII. It was later revived by President John F. Kennedy. For Mr. 
McCullough, The historical connection to President Truman has a special 

"Mr. McCullough won his first Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for "Truman," 
his bestselling biography, published by Simon and Schuster."

"Speaking with the scholarly grace and ease that characterizes him in 
person and in his more public roles, Mr. McCullough said that the honor 
was not his alone but belonged to the many people - editors, librarians, 
researchers and others - who had helped him along the way and taken 
an interest in his work."

To read the complete article, see: 

For more background on the medal, see 


Other coin mail lists and chat rooms are rife with complaints about 
fraudulent eBay auctions designed to fleece unwary collectors.  Turning 
computer power against the thieves, researches have developed a system 
to help identify the potential scammers among the universe of auctions.

"Computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University are using data mining 
techniques to identify perpetrators of fraud among on-line auction users 
as well as their otherwise unknown accomplices. 

"The new method analyzes publicly available histories of transactions 
posted by online auction sites such as eBay and identifies suspicious 
online behaviors and dubious associations among users." 

"Perpetrators of these frauds have distinctive online behaviors that 
cause them to be readily purged from an online auction site, said 
Computer Science Professor Christos Faloutsos. The software developed 
by his research team — Network Detection via Propagation of Beliefs, or
NetProbe — could prevent future frauds by identifying their accomplices, 
who can lurk on a site indefinitely and enable new generations of 

In a test analysis of about one million transactions between almost 
66,000 eBay users, NetProbe correctly detected 10 previously identified 
perpetrators, as well as more than a dozen probable fraudsters and 
several dozen apparent accomplices."

To read the complete article, see: 

[The software could probably be made even more effective against coin 
auction scammers by teaching it to look for the hallmarks in the text 
description of typical fraud lots, such as the "Aw, shucks, I'm no 
noo-mis-ma-tist, but this here coin my great-grand-pappy gave me sure 
looks purty." come-on.  

I forwarded the article to ANA Executive Director Chris Cipoletti, 
who asked eBay liaison Susan McMillan to follow up.  Thanks!  -Editor]


Regarding the merger of Dave Bowers' company with Stack's, an E-Sylum 
subscriber writes: "I was listening to New York's all-news radio station 
WINS-AM today and heard a news item about the 1913 Liberty nickel that 
is about to be auctioned in Orlando, FL on January 2, 2007.  Prior to 
the auction, the nickel, which is purported to be worth $5 Million, 
can be viewed at the West 57th Street gallery of the auction company.  

The last part of this story consisted of the unmistakable voice of 
Harvey Stack explaining why the nickel was so valuable. Two things went 
through my head after hearing Harvey's voice:
1)  WINS has a meteorologist named Dave Bowers.
2)  Stacks is the firm that supposedly returned the Walton 1913 nickel 
     to the collector's widow, asserting it was fake.     

[The circumstances leading to the labeling of Walton's a fake are 
discussed at length in the "Million Dollar Nickels" book by Montgomery, 
Borchardt and Knight (see Chapter 8 "Disappearing Act").  Abe Kosoff 
was among those also calling Walton's specimen a fake.  -Editor]

Dick Johnson writes: "A metal-detector-toting treasure hunter of 
Craven, England found his most valuable coin recently. Along with 
six silver groats he found a silver penny in East Marton in June 
this year.
"The coins would have been in circulation in the 1420s or early 
1430s, issued under Lancastrian Kings, Henry IV, Henry V and Henry 
VI between 1412 and 1427 to 1430, and are worth up to four thousand 

"The gentleman, identified only as "Mr Binns," searches every day 
and usually donates his finds to local schools as an educational tool. 
His recent find, however, is at the British Museum for determination of 
its worth by the Treasure Valuation Committee in consultation with the 
Craven Museum."

Interested readers may click on this for the full article:


Bob Rightmire writes: "Once again, E-Sylum subscribers have stepped 
forth with valuable documents to help me with my research on the Guttag 
Brothers. David Sundman has offered copies of Guttag's Coin Bulletins 
that are not to be found elsewhere, and John Kraljevich is lending me 
the only known copy of the sole coin auction conducted by the firm. 
Such courtesies are the finest possible holiday gifts. With that in 
mind, a Happy Holidays to all."     


John Smithwick writes: "In the recent E-Sylum you asked about who 
might have the records of the Brand inventory. I talked to Arthur 
Friedberg (of 'Paper Money of the United States' fame).  In the past 
he's mentioned that his family had the Brand ledgers. I believe they 
were acquired along with the Brasher doubloon.   He said his copy of 
the Brand ledgers were no more than twenty feet away. The originals 
were sold and donated to the ANS."

[Web sites for the Friedbergs' Coin and Currency Institute and 'Paper 
Money of the U.S.' books are shown below, along with a link to the 
previous E-Sylum article.  

John adds: "Arthur also said a new copy of the So-Called Dollars book 
is coming out mid-2007. Price and "printage" have yet to be determined. 
Work is being done by those at, while he will 
be doing the publishing.  -Editor]



With regard to the history of the 1792 Washington cent in gold, Saul 
Teichman writes: "The Brand journals are in the American Numismatic 
Society library, so they can be checked.  If Brand did own the coin, 
then it is very unlikely that Col. Green ever owned it. 

"I do not know who purchased the Col. Green inventory out of the Ford 
Library, but if the coin is listed there and was purchased in 1925, 
then it would be very interesting to figure out where it came from.  
The only major collection sold circa 1925 was the Ellsworth collection.  
It does not seem likely that it was in there as it almost assuredly 
would have been purchased by the Garretts. Is it possible that it was 
bought by a relative unknown?"

George Fuld writes: "I appreciate the comments by Saul and Ron.  Here 
is what we know to date:  H. P. Smith, using the nom de plume of Clay, 
bought it at the 1890 Parmalee sale.  It did not go to Brand as his 
material did not begin to be dispersed until 1933.  Dr. Hall's material 
was all bought intact by Brand.  

"I also checked the Mehl inventory of the Newcomer collection and the 
cent was not there.  Eric bought it directly from the Col. Green estate 
through B. G. Johnson.  We still don't know where it was between 1890 
and 1925.  Was it in some dealer's stock as suggested by Eric?  I 
appreciate the help and hope someone can come up with a new name."


In discussing print runs of numismatic books, Dave Bowers asked, 
"Might “printage” be more widely employed as a useful numismatic name?"

Kavan Ratnatunga writes: "I have often wondered why currency catalogs 
like Pick (now published by Krause) never attempted to publish "printage" 
of currency notes.  Some dates of Modern Lankan Currency are rare 
because they had relatively low "printage."


Regarding the proposed "printage" term, Alan Luedeking writes: "I 
like Dave and Diana's term. For what it's worth, Carlos and I have 
put the 'printage' of four of our five books right on the publication 
data page, in the form of "This is number ___ of xx." We fill the 
information in by hand.  For those interested, the printages to 
date have been: 

"Chile's Coquimbo Mint, A Documented History" (2003): 50.

"Las Emisiones Provinciales de Valdivia, 1822-1844" (2003): 50.

"The Chiloé Peso: An Important Obsidional Coin of Chile" (2003): 40.

"The Strange Concurrence of Coinage in Francos and Reales in Ecuador 
from 1858 to 1862 and the Fabled Fifty Francos of 1862" (in 
collaboration with Dale Seppa) (2004): 50, not so indicated.

"The Early Coinage of the Mint of Santiago de Chile: 1749-1772" 
(2006): 500.

"In addition, Carlos has recently authored another work on Chilean 
transitional coinage (royal to republican, as of 1817) with the 
respected numismatist Emilio Paoletti. This has a printage of 150, 
not so indicated."


Harry Waterson writes: "I enjoyed your piece on the Nobel Prizes and 
noticed that nowhere did you mention that Alfred Nobel invented 
dynamite, which is just further evidence that his plan worked. Alfred 
Nobel, like Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling, was the surprised recipient 
of a premature obituary. In Nobel's case this early obit castigated him 
as a merchant of death. That was not the memory he wished to leave 
behind.  In order to burnish his image and his death notices he gave 
the bulk of his estate to establish the Nobel Prizes and thus give his 
name a numismythical air and a medallic ring. 

By the by, Kipling's first death notice was published in a magazine to 
which he then wrote that since he was dead, would they please remove 
his name from the list of subscribers?  - another case of the editorial 
department not helping the circulation department."

[Actually, I thought everyone knew about the source of Nobel's fortune, 
but I've been hanging around The E-Sylum too long.  We bibliophiles love 
these little tidbits, and speaking of which, there were several 
interesting anecdotes about the medals of the web page referenced last 
week.  I'll publish some excerpts in the next item. -Editor]


This year's Nobel Prize awards prompted an item in last week's E-Sylum.  
There are some additional interesting stories relating to the Nobel 
medals - here are a couple:

"On all "Swedish" Nobel medals the name of the Laureate is engraved 
fully visible on a plate on the reverse, whereas the name of the Peace 
Laureate as well as that of the Winner for the Economics Prize is 
engraved on the edge of the medal, which is less obvious. For the 
1975 Economics Prize winners, the Russian Leonid Kantorovich and the 
American Tjalling Koopmans, this created problems. Their medals were 
mixed up in Stockholm, and after the Nobel Week the Prize Winners went 
back to their respective countries with the wrong medals. As this 
happened during the Cold War, it took four years of diplomatic efforts 
to have the medals exchanged to their rightful owners."

[Unless you're a Nobel Laureate, I wouldn't recommend the storage 
procedures used at Niels Bohr's Institute of Theoretical Physics in 
Copenhagen during World War II.  The Institute had been a refuge for 
German Jewish physicists since 1933.  -Editor]

"Max von Laue and James Franck had deposited their medals there to 
keep them from being confiscated by the German authorities. After the 
occupation of Denmark in April 1940, the medals were Bohr's first 
concern, according to the Hungarian chemist George de Hevesy (also of 
Jewish origin and a 1943 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry), who worked at 
the institute. 

In Hitler's Germany it was almost a capital offense to send gold out 
of the country. Since the names of the Laureates were engraved on the 
medals, their discovery by the invading forces would have had very 
serious consequences. 

To quote George de Hevesy (Adventures in Radioisotope Research, 
Vol. 1, p. 27, Pergamon, New York, 1962), who talks about von Laue's 
medal: "I suggested that we should bury the medal, but Bohr did not 
like this idea as the medal might be unearthed. I decided to dissolve it. 

While the invading forces marched in the streets of Copenhagen, I 
was busy dissolving Laue's and also James Franck's medals. After the 
war, the gold was recovered and the Nobel Foundation generously 
presented Laue and Frank with new Nobel medals." 

"de Hevesy wrote to von Laue after the war that the task of dissolving 
the medals had not been easy, as gold is "exceedingly unreactive and 
difficult to dissolve." The Nazis occupied Bohr's institute and searched 
it very carefully but they did not find anything. The medals quietly 
waited out the war in a solution of aqua regia."

To read the complete article, see: 


The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that "A Victoria 
Cross (VC) medal auctioned in Sydney last month has been handed over 
to the Australian War Memorial for public display.

"A mystery buyer paid nearly $500,000 for the rare medallion, which 
was awarded to Lance Corporal Bernard Gordon for bravery in France 
in 1918.

"He went and captured a machine gun and a group of men and he then 
realised that the German positions proceeded further beyond that, 
so he went back onwards into the woods and captured a further five 
machine guns and about 60 Germans single-handed."

"Mr Fletcher says this latest donation brings the memorial's VC 
display to 61 medals."

To read the complete article, see: 


Lane County, Oregon officials have come up with a numismatic 
solution for funding local bridge maintenance:

"Lane County officials have learned that to make money, you have 
to coin it. Literally.

"So they are minting 17 silver coins commemorating the county's 17 
covered bridges in an effort to pay for some of the maintenance of 
the spans no longer in service.

"And collectors are snapping them up.

"We didn't have any idea when we started what the interest would 
be," Public Works executive assistant Vonnie Rainwater said. "It's 
been very successful and well-received."

"After releasing the third coin last week, featuring the Office 
Bridge in Westfir, the county has made at least $13,000, she said. 
Two other coins, with the Goodpasture and Lowell bridges, were 
released last year.

"The Goodpasture and Office bridge mintings were given a 500-coin 
run, and 600 Lowell bridge coins were minted. The Goodpasture coin 
cost $20 and the Lowell and Office coins cost $25. The first 25 of 
each series were numbered and sold at auctions, Rainwater said.

"The No. 1 coin for Goodpasture bridge went for $400; for Lowell 
Bridge it was $510, and the Office Bridge took in $280.

To read the complete article, see:  

[OK, we numismatists know these are properly called medals, not 
'coins', but it's an interesting concept nonetheless.  -Editor]


"Dead Plagiarists Society", a November 21 article published on the 
Slate web site asks, "Will Google Book Search uncover long-buried 
literary crimes?"  As more and more texts (numismatic and otherwise) 
migrate to electronic format, it's just a matter of time before 
plagiarists, even long-dead ones, will finally be exposed.

"Given the popularity of plagiarism-seeking software services for 
academics, it may be only a matter of time before some enterprising 
scholar yokes Google Book Search and plagiarism-detection software 
together into a massive literary dragnet, scooping out hundreds of 
years' worth of plagiarists—giants and forgotten hacks alike—who 
have all escaped detection until now. 

"Google Book Search contains hundreds of millions of printed pages, 
and yet after just a few words, the likelihood of the sentence's 
replication scales down dramatically."

"Conveniently enough, a few literary greats have already had their 
mug shots taken. It's long been known that Poe plagiarized an early 
book, a hack project titled The Conchologist's First Book, and that 
Herman Melville swiped many technical passages of Moby Dick whole 
from maritime authors like Henry Cheever."

To read the complete article, see: 

[This is a topic we've broached before in The E-Sylum, but it's not 
much discussed in polite numismatic company.  Me plagiarize?  Heck 
no - it's "research".  But more than a few numismatic authors have 
copied from earlier works to varying degrees.  It will be interesting 
to see who get ratted out by the computers.  -Editor]


Larry Gaye writes: "I would like to echo George F. Kolbe's plea 
for membership action regarding the ANA."

E-Sylum regular Wendell Wolka is running for a position on the 
American Numismatic Association board.  His platform statement 
notes that "The ANA should continue to focus primarily on education 
and outreach as the primary ways of providing value to members and 
growth for the association.

"The ANA needs to become and remain fiscally responsible, with a 
balanced annual budget and a fully restored endowment fund 
considered standard practice."

[For more information, contact Wendell at PURDUENUT at 

Another longtime E-Sylum contributor, retired Army colonel Joe 
Boling, also announced his candidacy for the American Numismatic 
Association's Board of Governors recently.  He has been an ANA 
exhibit judge since 1978, a member of the ANA's exhibiting and 
judging committee for eighteen years, and has been ANA's chief 
judge for fourteen years.  Joe also teaches regularly at the ANA 
Summer Seminar.

He writes: "I believe that the ANA has strayed from serving its 
individual members and clubs. The emphasis has moved toward becoming 
a 'heavy hitter' with government agencies, inserting ourselves into 
movements to establish museums and other 'outreach' programs that 
do little to serve individual collectors.  Yes, it is desirable to 
raise public awareness of numismatics, but not when that means 
draining the organization's fiscal resources and diverting staff 
hours to programs in which most members cannot participate.

"Having been to headquarters every year for quite a while, and to 
every convention for quite a bit longer, I can see the deterioration 
of morale that has occurred among ANA's employees. The ferocious 
turnover rate is a symptom of a leadership climate that must be 

[The ANA's staff turnover rate was highlighted by former librarian 
David Sklow in his recent Coin World Guest Commentary.  In an earlier 
submission, Howard Daniel highlighted the alienation that many 
individuals and volunteers have come to feel. 

To discuss these issues or receive a complete copy of his platform 
statements, contact Joe by email at joeboling at or phone 
317-894-2506.  Tom Sheehan adds: "I would be happy to supply and 
receive nomination forms for Joe.  My mailing address is P. O. Box 
1477, Edmonds, WA  98020 and my email is ThomasSheehan at"

People like Joe and fellow ANA Judge and board candidate John Eshbach 
have dedicated a large portion of their lives to the organization, 
traveling and volunteering at ANA conventions and headquarters.  If 
anyone deserves a say in how the organization is run, it's folks 
like them.  -Editor]

E-Sylum subscriber Michael Doran has also announced his candidacy.  
He writes: "The ANA must be more transparent and open. It must treat 
its members and clubs with the utmost respect. And most importantly, 
the ANA must return to its number one purpose - to promote the 
knowledge, study, and science of the numismatic hobby."

"I will be having a campaign website up and running by January 1, 
2007 or sooner. In the meantime, if you have any questions about 
the campaign, please feel free to e-mail me at doranforana07 at"

[We welcome hearing more from all the candidates about the aspects 
of their platforms of most interest to E-Sylum readers, particularly 
the ANA's library and resource center, publications, and numismatic 
research and education.  -Editor]


The English edition of Asharq Al-Awsat, the leading Arabic 
international daily, describes a new film in cinemas across Morocco 
that has been a source of controversy recently over historical 
inaccuracies.  ‘Abdou Ind Almohadeen’ tells the story of a young 
man called Abdou who is sent back in time by scientists "in search 
of a map engraved on a silver coin weighing 400 pounds, and 
commemorated by King Roger II of Sicily."

To read the complete article, see:


Michael E. Marotta writes: "Newtonmas was deleted from the 
But you can still read about Newtonmas here:
and here:
And here is my biography of Sir Isaac as Warden and Master 
of the Mint:
And speaking about money at Christmas, here is the dear 
boy himself, Scrooge: 
A happy and prosperous new year to you and to us all!"


This week's featured web site is, "a site 
about Europe's early dated coinage, an online expansion of the 
Frey catalogue of dated European coinage before 1501 with additional 
coins not included by Frey from numerous catalogues through 1530 
as are found and identified." 

The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization 
promoting numismatic literature. For more information please 
see our web site at

There is a membership application available on the web site 
at this address:

To join, print the application and return it with your check 
to the address printed on the application. Membership is only 
$15 to addresses in the U.S., $20 elsewhere.  For those without 
web access, write to:

David M. Sundman, Secretary/Treasurer
Numismatic Bibliomania Society, 
P. O. Box 82 Littleton, NH 03561

For Asylum mailing address changes and other membership 
questions, contact David at this email address: 
dsundman at

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, just 
Reply to this message, or write to the Editor at this 
address: whomren at

Those wishing to become new E-Sylum subscribers 
(or wishing to Unsubscribe) can go to the following web page: 

All past E-Sylum issues are archived on the NBS web site at this address:

Issues from September 2002 to date are also archived at this address:

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