The E-Sylum v9#52, December 24, 2006
esylum at binhost.com
esylum at binhost.com
Sun Dec 24 18:19:45 PST 2006
Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 9, Number 52, December 24, 2006:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Among our recent subscribers are Yosef Sa'ar of Israel and Jim
Jones. Welcome aboard! We now have 1,022 subscribers.
This week's issue arrives on Christmas Eve. No, I haven't been
working on it today - the draft was mostly finished yesterday. Our
children are nestled all snug in their beds, and I've just put another
issue of The E-Sylum to bed, too.
For bibliophiles, Santa brings word of the upcoming Malter Galleries
auction of the Harold Donald Numismatic Library and a new book on the
mining tokens of West Cumberland. The American Numismatic Association
headquarters was closed down by this week's big Colorado snowstorm,
but workers were back at their posts on Friday. This issue also has
some information on two recent hires at the U.S. Mint, sculptors Phebe
Hemphill and Jim Licaretz. Have a great week, everyone, and Happy
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
MALTER GALLERIES NUMISMATIC LITERATURE AUCTION
Malter Galleries Inc. of Encino, CA has announced that their next
auction will feature Numismatic Books and Related Literature from
the Harold Donald Numismatic Library as well as unsold books from
the Joel L. Malter June 2006 Auction.
The sale will take place Sunday, January 7th. An auction catalogue
will be on-line shortly. Limited seating will be available at auction,
which will also be "live" on Ebay. For more information, see:
NEW BOOK: THE MINING AND RELATED TOKENS OF WEST CUMBERLAND, UK
The Whitehaven News of West Cumbria, UK published a brief notice
December 21st on a new book on the mining tokens of West Cumberland.
"These survivors of bygone times hark back to the days when coal
was carried to the ships by packhorse and tokens were the currency
of the coaltrade.
"Written by Cumbrian Michael Findlay, whose background is in the
world of fine art and antiques, this scholarly work provides a
window on the industrial past of our area.
"The token, issued by mine owners, was the currency of coal
transactions of the day and many were well designed and manufactured
(those of the Curwens, in 1775, were produced by the Royal Mint).
"The Mining and Related Tokens of West Cumberland by Michael Finlay
(signed edition limited to 500 copies) is available from Michael Moon,
price £50. A full review will appear in next weeks Whitehaven News."
To read the complete article, see:
AMERICAN NUMISMATIC ASSOCIATION HEADQUARTERS WEATHERS THE STORM
Curious about the effects of the big winter blizzard this week
that socked Colorado with two feet of snow and all but shut down
major parts of the state (including Denver and Colorado Springs),
I checked in with Gail Baker (ANA's Manager of Market and Brand
Development) on Friday.
She writes: "Today is a beautiful clear, sunny day. The snow is
gorgeous after two days of blizzard conditions. This being Colorado
Springs, the snow never lasts very long and the city does a wonderful
job of getting the roads plowed and passable. ANA was closed
yesterday but the staff has returned today. Thanks for asking!
Gail adds: "Downtown Colorado Springs where ANA headquarters is
located had about six inches of snow; outlying areas had more. It
was the wind blowing the snow that made things tough. Sandy Hill
in our membership department was scheduled to fly out of Colorado
Springs on Wednesday but did not. I actually saw her on television
as they were interviewing passengers. She has been re-scheduled to
fly out tomorrow. Guess where she is today? Even though her vacation
has already started, I found her sitting at her desk this morning
when I arrived at 7 a.m. Thats dedicated!"
[Other staffers including Barb Olsen also came in to the office on
what had been planned vacation days. Despite the swirl in the press
about the larger ANA policy issues, the staff quietly goes about the
daily business of keeping the wheels of the organization rolling.
Congratulations and happy holidays to all. -Editor]
CORRECTION: DU SIMITIERE'S MUSEUM CONFUSED WITH PEALE'S
Gar Travis' answer to last week's quiz question (the fourth Philadelphia
Mint) was correct, but wrong in the details. Joel Orosz writes: "I'm
afraid that www.answers.com has done Gar Travis wrong. Gar quotes
this source as saying that Pierre Eugene Du Simitiere conducted his
museum in his house in 1794, when he moved it into rented quarters in
the American Philosophical Society; then in 1802, he moved it once more
into the Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall). Pretty neat
tricks, these, for a guy who passed away in October, 1784.
"The museum of which (wrong)answers.com is speaking was that of the
artist Charles Willson Peale. Interestingly, Peale's Museum also had
a coin collection on exhibit for much of its long tenure.
One last thing--when Du Simitiere's Museum collection was auctioned
on March 19, 1785, it had one large lot of coins and one large lot of
paper money, making it the earliest known public auction of numismatic
items in the United States (the broadside detailing the sale is pictured
on p. 52 of my book about Du Simitiere, 'The Eagle That Is Forgotten'."
[The E-Sylum fact-checker team has been taken to the woodshed and
thoroughly flogged. Sorry we missed this one! All the more reason
for all of us to reread Joel's wonderfully written and researched
little book. -Editor]
PROSKEY SUGGESTED AS POSSIBLE 1792 WASHINGTON CENT IN GOLD OWNER
Vacationing former Numismatic Bibliomania Society Secretary-Treasurer
Dave Hirt writes: "I am enjoying reading The E-Sylum here in Europe.
About the Washington 1792 cent in gold, I would like to suggest a name
for research for possible ownership - it is H. P. Smith's partner at
New York Stamp & Coin, David Proskey. Being away from home I do not
have research materials at hand."
HAZELTINE CHUBBOCK SALE PRL SOUGHT
David Davis writes: "When sorting through and shelving auction catalogs,
I found two copies of Hazeltine's, S.W. Chubbock Sale of February 25-28,
1873. I apparently bought the second one because it was a plated
edition and illustrates one of the damaged 1823/2 quarters that I have
had a hard time trying to keep track of thru the years.
"My inquiry has to do with the original prices realized list that came
with my first copy of the catalog. It consists of twelve pages that
cover lots 1-2696. But the collection included 2896 lots. I am assuming
that one page of the PRL is missing. Could someone furnish me a copy
of same, page 13, the last 200 lots, if it exists?
"Secondly, to the best of my knowledge this is the only PRL I have seen
for Hazeltine and I am curious as to how rare his PRLs are. Has anyone
ever thought of compiling a list of known PRLs for the earlier auction
houses? How about a list of known catalogs with buyers names? It would
be a handy tool for those numismatists who are researching pedigrees."
ADDRESS CHANGE FOR DAVID FANNING
NBS Asylum Editor-in-Chief David F. Fanning writes: "I am changing
my e-mail address to dfanning at columbus.rr.com. I successfully updated
my E-Sylum address online, but please post this to the list so that
others know. Thanks, and Merry Christmas!"
TWO SCULPTORS PHEBE HEMPHILL AND JIM LICARETZ JOIN U.S. MINT STAFF
Numismatic News published a short item recently on two new U.S.
Mint employees, Phebe Hemphill and Jim Licaretz. Interestingly,
both have extensive experience in the toy industry.
Licaretz, who had a previous stint at the Mint in the 1980s, is
a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He is
president of the American Medallic Sculpture Association, and a
member of The National Sculpture Society and The Federation
International de le Medaille.
Jim previously headed the Sculpting Department at Artistic Solutions
and Production (ASAP), where he created designs for corporate clients
including toymakers. The ASAP web site notes: "He has medallic works
in the British Museum; The Royal Coin Cabinet; The National Museum of
Economy, Stockholm, Sweden; The American Numismatic Society; and the
Here are some web pages with more background on Jim Licaretz
and his work:
The Numismatic News item was based on a recent press release from
the Mint, but Phebe Hemphill has actually been on staff of over a
year. She was mentioned by John Mercanti in Leon Worden's November
2006 COINage Magazine article, "No Small Change at the Mint".
Mercanti said Phebe "came from the toy industry. She is one of the
most amazing sculptors I have ever seen."
Dave Bowers writes: "My fine long-term friend and fellow author
and researcher Kathy Fuller put me on to a wonderful Internet
resource today. It may be common knowledge, but I hadnt heard of
it before. Google Scholar seems to have the full U.S. Patent Office
records on it, and a lot of other great stuff! Also, it cuts to
the chase and eliminates a lot of chatty non-research stuff.
I spent a few hours checking out some arcane aspects of some penny
arcade devices and music boxes, and will soon see what I can find
in numismatics there."
[We did cover this in The E-Sylum back when it first came out
heres the link to the article. But I dont think anyone has
written about it since. It would be interesting to see how its
grown in the last couple years, and how useful it could be in
numismatic research. -Editor]
NEW SEARCH TOOL: GOOGLE SCHOLAR
AQUA REGIA: THE WATER OF KINGS
Regarding last week's item about two Nobel Prize medals being
dissolved in a solution of aqua regia, Gar Travis writes: "Aqua
Regia is a mixture of hydrochloric acid and nitric acid. It can
dissolve gold, which single acids alone cannot do."
Another subscriber writes: "It struck me that most people(other than
chemists) probably don't know much if anything about aqua regia, so
I thought I would volunteer the following. I was in the precious
metals purchasing business during the period when metals prices were
at record levels in the early 1980's. My memory of that time is fading,
and the following may not be 100% accurate, but this is what I recall
of aqua regia:
"Aqua regia is a combination of equal parts of sulfuric and nitric
acids. It is commonly used in gold buying to determine if an item
meets the standard of 18K (.750 Fine) or higher fineness. Pure nitric
acid can be used to test for 14K (.583 Fine) or higher fineness, and
is also somewhat useful in testing for 10K(.417 Fine).
"I recall hearing an interesting story about the derivation of the
name of this substance. Aqua regia literally translated is 'water of
Kings'. Supposedly, only a King would be able to drink aqua regia
without consequence. Lesser individuals would experience considerable
pain soon after imbibing."
COUNTERFEIT COINS APPEARING IN NORTHERN IRELAND
The Belfast Telegraph reports that "Near perfect counterfeit £1
coins are circulating in Northern Ireland... Police are warning
traders to be on the lookout for the coins, which are such good
copies that they can only be detected because they are magnetic."
"The counterfeiters have made an impression of the 'tails' side
of the coin and attached that to a smaller copper coin, probably
an Isle of Man or Channel Island penny.
"That penny is then enclosed in a 'jacket' made up of the 'heads'
side and milled edge of the coin.
"While visually they are good copies, the counterfeit coins can
To read the complete article, see:
GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE DISCIPLINED FOR PUTTING OWN FACE ON MONEY
David Fanning forwarded an item from the humor publication The Onion
- "U.S. Mint Employee Disciplined For Putting Own Face On Nickels".
The item from June 4, 2003 is an image of a U.S nickel with an altered
portrait and the words "In Gary We Trust".
It's funny, but with the prolific output of the U.S. Mint today it
almost seems possible. In 1864 government officials weren't too happy
to see the result after they directed that the portrait of "Clark" be
placed on a new piece of currency, referring to William Clark of Lewis
and Clark fame.
The superintendent of the National Currency Bureau, a government
bureaucrat named Spencer Morton Clark placed his own portrait on the
five-cent fractional currency note. Clark was demoted and Congress
established a ban, which is still in effect today, on portraits of
living persons on all bank notes. For more on the topic, see our earlier
E-Sylum discussions, where an author describes Clark as "...a bankrupt
sex pest under investigation for embezzlement and fraud."
LIVING PERSONS ON COINS AND PAPER MONEY
To view the image of The Onion's nickel, see:
QUIZ QUESTION: F.C.C. BOYD NUMISMATIST AD MYSTERY
W. David Perkins writes: "Let's see how many sharp E-Sylum readers
can get this question right when was this advertisement published?
'F. C. C. Boyd, 45 West 18th street, New York City, begs leave to inform
the readers of The Numismatist that he has only disposed of his collection
of fractional currency and partial collection of broken bank bills, and
is still an enthusiastic collector of Coins of the World, Store Cards and
Can any long term numismatists shed any light on why Boyd published this?"
FIRST SPOUSE COIN KICKOFF CEREMONY
The Repository of Canton, OH published an article December 20th about
the launch ceremony for the U.S. Mint's First Spouse gold coin series:
"The U.S. Mint's new First Spouse collectible coin series made a
theatrical debut on Tuesday at the National First Ladies' Library
Education and Resource Center. Edmund C. Moy, director of the Mint,
introduced the coins with help from "Dolley Madison" as portrayed by
"I can't think of a better venue to introduce our first coins than at
the First Ladies' Library," Moy said. "We hope these first coins will
contribute to a greater interest in learning about the contributions
of our first ladies."
"Moy noted that it marks the first time the U.S. Mint has featured
women in a consecutive series; a fact not lost on Mary Regula, founding
chair and president of the National First Ladies' Library. Humorously
noting that the Mint was started in 1792, she said, "We're glad to see
that the Mint is recognizing the contributions of these women only 214
years later, and we say to them, 'It's about time.' "
To read the complete article, see:
To read a related New York Times article, see:
QUIZ QUESTIONS: 1: When was the last time a President's spouse
appeared on U.S. money? 2: Which presidential spouse was never
a First Lady? (And no, the answer isn't "Bill Clinton").
THE GIFT OF THE MAGI, NUMISMATIST STYLE
Dick Johnson writes: "My coin dealer friend Dick Bacca tells this
story - Here in Connecticut the state lottery runs a TV commercial
with a romantic couple sitting on a sofa. The man is a coin collector
and he hands his ladyfriend a ring-sized jewelry box. Excitedly, the
lady opens it to find a Buffalo nickel. "That's nice" she says
dejectedly. "It's an uncirculated 1913 Buffalo nickel, very rare!" says
our coin collector proudly. Whereupon she whips out the nickel and uses
it to scratch off a couple lottery tickets.
"Sure enough, a lady enters Dick's coin shop last week wanting an
uncirculated 1913 Buffalo nickel. Her husband, she explains, is addicted
to the scratch-off lottery and she wanted to give it to him as a Christmas
[The Gift of the Magi is the classic O. Henry short story of a couple
too poor to buy what they hoped to give one another for Christmas.
"One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of
it was in pennies... Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only
$1.87 with which to buy Jim a present." Merry Christmas! -Editor]
THE GIFT OF THE MAGI BY O. HENRY
FEATURED WEB SITE: THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM AND NUMISMATICS
This week's featured web site is on Mike Molnar's book,
"The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi", showing how
an ancient coin revealed the clue to understanding the Star
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 LittletonCoin.com
To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, just
Reply to this message, or write to the Editor at this
address: whomren at coinlibrary.com
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:
More information about the Esylum