The E-Sylum v9#52, December 24, 2006

esylum at esylum at
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 

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


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: 


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 week’s Whitehaven News."

To read the complete article, see:  


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! 
Happy Holidays!"

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. That’s 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]


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 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) 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]


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."


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."


NBS Asylum Editor-in-Chief David F. Fanning writes: "I am changing 
my e-mail address to dfanning at I successfully updated 
my E-Sylum address online, but please post this to the list so that 
others know. Thanks, and Merry Christmas!"


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 
Smithsonian Institute."

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 hadn’t 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 – 
here’s the link to the article.  But I don’t think anyone has 
written about it since.  It would be interesting to see how it’s 
grown in the last couple years, and how useful it could be in 
numismatic research. -Editor] 




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."


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 
be detected." 

To read the complete article, see:


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."



To view the image of The Onion's nickel, see: 


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 
Numismatic Books.'

Can any long term numismatists shed any light on why Boyd published this?"


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 
Lucinda Frailly.

"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").

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]



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 
of Bethlehem.  

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

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To join, print the application and return it with your check 
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David M. Sundman, Secretary/Treasurer
Numismatic Bibliomania Society, 
P. O. Box 82 Littleton, NH 03561

For Asylum mailing address changes and other membership 
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