The E-Sylum v9#08, February 19, 2006

esylum at esylum at
Sun Feb 19 20:55:15 PST 2006

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 9, Number 08, February 19, 2006:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are J. C. Zellner, David Rubino, 
And Leon Majors.  Welcome aboard!  We now have 863 subscribers.

Although we open on a sad note with news of the loss of a 
familiar figure in numismatic literature sales, this issue 
also includes what is (to me at least) an exciting announcement 
about the online E-Sylum archive on the NBS web site.

We have some more comments (and jokes) about the 2006 Winter 
Olympic medals, and an interesting item about a Forbes reporter's 
visit to the inner sanctum of a prominent coin club.  Also, 
proving that politicians will use any excuse to pick a fight, 
we have a story about how a magic trick involving a flaming 
banknote ignited a controversy.

Which private company entered the banknote printing business 
in 1860 by producing notes for Mauritius?  Read on to find out.  

And who can tell us about "the mysterious Dr. Ken L. Rosenbaum" 
and his connection to numismatic literature?  That answer is 
NOT here, but this time we'll see who's been reading their 
literature auction catalogs.  Have a great week, everyone.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society

ART RUBINO 1938 - 2006

On a tip from John Burns, I learned this week that literature 
dealer Art Rubino of Numismatic & Philatelic Arts of Santa Fe 
passed away recently.  Art was a fixture at many of the larger 
coin conventions.  I spoke to his son David, who often accompanied 
him in bringing his "mobile bookshop" to various shows such as the 
Long Beach California Coin and Stamp Expo.  The bookshop held 
approximately 20,000 titles of rare, out of print and new Numismatic 
and Philatelic books.

Sadly, Art had just retired from his full time business and he and 
David had been making plans to repromote the literature business.  
Those plans are on hold for now, but David is a new subscriber to 
The E-Sylum and will keep us posted on any new developments.  
Our condolences go out to David and his family.  


AOL is the hardest ISP for receiving mail.  Their anti-spam 
stuff is draconian, and sometimes mail just doesn't get 
delivered for no apparent reason at all.   Over the years a 
number of people have reported problems getting their E-Sylum 
mailings at AOL addresses, but the problem is intermittent.   
Some couple AOL subscribers said they didn’t get last week’s 

There seems to be no rhyme or reason for mailings to AOL.  
Sometimes they get through to everyone, sometimes to a few 
people, sometimes to no one.  It’s a mystery.  Other than 
recommending a subscriber go to another ISP, the only advice 
I can give is to check the online archive for any issues 
you miss.


Fred Schwan, Editor of the MPCGram, writes: "I was most 
interested to read the comments of Rick Witschonke and 
(especially) your comments in response.  I must say that 
I had thought about The E-Sylum publishing general numismatic 
news and features, and I did not like it. Partially, I was 
jealous because it makes it easier for you to fill your 
virtual pages while I must sometimes schedule to do the 
same thing in MPCGram where we include very little general 
numismatic news.

But then as I read through v9n7 I saw quite a bit about the 
Olympic medals that was of great interest to me and which 
I probably will not find elsewhere. Thanks for your great 

Roger deWardt Lane writes: "If it isn't broken, don't fix it!"  
Just keep up the great job you are doing for the numismatic 
community. I read and archive every issue."

Terry Trantow writes: "I am continually pleased with the amount 
of information you are able to present every week in the E-Sylum. 
Keep up the good work!

Larry Gaye writes: "I like what goes on in the E-Sylum.  Information 
in the past has been disseminated in the books we all treasure and 
hopefully will remain so in the future.  We do have the advantage 
of living in a time when we are able to see information being spread 
in the medium of the Internet and forums such as the E-Sylum.  The 
"word" is still the same whether we view it on paper or a computer 
screen. Because of the speed and number of folks involved the 
E-Sylum brings the old and the new together; as research is ongoing 
so too is the content we see."

[Words are indeed what we're all about, and that focus is reflected 
in our plain-vanilla text format.  New words, phrases and definitions 
are all part of the fun.  Terry Trantow added: "I had to smile a bit 
about the British item of the King Coenwulf gold penny found by a 
'metal detectorist'. Bless the British for being more precise."  

Jeff Hawk writes: "I very much appreciate the headlines you 
use to separate articles.  No, I don't read every single 
article every week, but I'll tell you something, I learn 
something of real value to me just about every week.  This 
week I discovered the Numismatic Indexes Project and learned 
how to use it. What a great thing!  Also recently I "discovered" 
Don Taxay, and am now putting together a collection of his books.  
Please keep putting out this great product!"

Patrick MacAuley writes: "I agree with every word of Wayne’s 
description of what the E-Sylum about.  Numismatic books must 
form the core area of interest, but the people who write these 
books and the numismatic subjects currently on their minds are 
just as interesting.  We want to find, analyze, and preserve 
the existing books, yet we also want to look toward the future.  
Hopefully, hundreds of numismatic books and articles are yet 
to be written by the E-Sylum fellowship, and Wayne’s service 
is greatly benefiting the quality and quantity of what we 
will write. 

Even though I’ve only been a member of E-Sylum for two months, 
this has already provided a big boost toward my own future work.  
Not only have I acquired several great books, but I’ve gained 
a lot of knowledge that isn’t inside the book covers."  


The Spanish Numismatic Association has given the 2005 Javier 
Conde Garriga Numismatic Award to Jorge A. Proctor for his 
recent book, "The Forgotten Mint of Colonial Panama".   The 
book is about coin production in the Americas during the 16th 
century with a special focus on the mint that was established 
in the city of Panama, under orders from Spain, in the year 1580.

This numismatic award has been given since 1959 and among its 
previous winners are such renowned names as: Humberto F. Burzio 
(1960), Dr. Ernesto A. Sellschopp (1964), A. M. Barriga Villalba 
(1970), Dr. Thomas N. Bisson (1983), and many others.  The award
presentation will be held in Barcelona, Spain, on March 18.  
There is a review of the book on the Enrada Publications web site:
"Not since Pradeau and Nesmith wrote their books on the Mexico 
mint, and not since Sellschopp, Paoletti, and others published 
their works focused on the key mints in colonial Peru, has a book 
about a specific mint been so comprehensively and meticulously 
constructed as this one. 

Its author, Jorge A. Proctor, doggedly searched the national 
archives in Seville for the long-lost details of the primitive 
workings and output of the minting house which operated in his 
native Panamá in the 1580s. His research included studying and 
documenting each of the 40-some known surviving specimens of 
coinage from this early effort — many “in person” and some by 
photographic representation. This was a Herculean task, taking 
up much of his available time and dedication for several years."

To read the complete review, see this page (scroll down):  

The 329-page hardbound book is in English, with a very limited 
print run of 150 copies.  It is only available through Daniel 
Sedwick of Florida.  See his web site at:    

[Congratulations to the author on his well-deserved award, as 
well as for all his painstaking research in writing the book.  
At just $135, the book is a bargain and I'm sure sales couldn't 
begin to compensate him for the time and expense involved in 
his research.  Such devoted researchers are a blessing to our 
hobby, and their contributions will be felt for generations to 
come through their books.  -Editor]


A new book has been published on the coinage of the Alupas, 
a powerful dynastic family of India.  "The Alupas: Coinage 
and History" was written by Govindraya Prabhu S & Nithyananda 
Pai M.  The book was published in January 2006 in an edition 
of 500 paperback copies, with 40 color plates.

The book "covers the coinage and history of the Alupas, 
which ruled the modern districts of Udupi and Mangalore and 
parts of Shimoga and Uttara Kannada districts in the state 
of Karanataka, India. It describes the history of the Alupas 
from the 5th century until the 15th century C.E., based 
primarily on the study of over one hundred twenty epigraphs. 

The book also narrates the only known copper plate grant of 
the Alupa dynasty, and publishes over 175 unique coins issued 
by the dynasty, which are mainly in gold. The book illustrates 
for the first time, with the help of high resolution colour 
scans, several silver taras and nearly 70 unpublished varieties 
of gold fanams. 

Of a total of eighty unique Gadyanas (so called Pagodas), 
over 50 are published in this book for the first time. The 
book brings the collections of over 20 collectors worldwide 
to the limelight."

For more information, see: 


Relating to our discussion of the content of our newsletter, 
Kavan Ratnatunga of Sri Lanka writes: "The archive of The E-Sylum 
indexed in Google is a very useful resource."  Kavan's note reminds 
me that I've been guilty of the "unpublished manuscript" disease we
discussed recently, in that I've been holding off on an announcement 
about the archive while tinkering with that last 10% standing between 
us and my idea of perfection. So even though some further improvements 
may come along, there's no use in waiting any longer, so here goes.

First, I'd like to give a profuse public thank-you to John Nebel 
of Colorado, who answered my call for some computer assistance by 
developing an automated program which splits an E-Sylum issue into 
multiple archive pages, one for each article in the issue.  I'd also 
like to thank NBS webmaster Bruce Perdue for making some requested 
fixes to older archive pages, and Bill Malkmus and Dick Johnson for
reviewing and commenting on the new archive pages.

Although no one may have noticed, I've included links to some of 
these new pages in recent issues where appropriate.  Below are some 
selected examples from our first nine volumes:










John put a lot of volunteer time into this effort, which required 
cleanup and reformatting of some earlier archive issues, plus 
responding to my many "oh by the way, just one more thing..." requests.  
But now it works like a charm, automatically splitting each new issue 
in the wee hours of the night after NBS webmaster Bruce Perdue uploads 
it to the archive.  The program creates a permanent web page for each 
individual article as well as a table of contents page for each issue.  
For example, here's a link to the contents of the February 6, 2006 
issue (v9n6): 

Each web page has a short, unique, numeric-based URL, and these 
can be used by other webmasters to link to articles of interest.  
For example, a web site devoted to counterfeiting could link to a 
set of E-Sylum articles on Dye's Counterfeit Detectors as follows:




The natural question is, "So where's the E-Sylum Index?"  Well, 
it would be marvelous if we had one, but that's a project for 
another day.  Bill Malkmus, who maintains an index of our print 
publication, The Asylum, also worked on an E-Sylum index for some 
time, but computer difficulties and other problems forced him to 
abandon it.  We have no up-to-date E-Sylum index, although as Kavan 
pointed out, Google searches are an alternate way to find content 
in our online archive.

Each of the new pages has a Google search box at the bottom.  By 
clicking the "" button you can restrict your search 
to the NBS web site rather than the entire Internet.  The new pages 
also include a set of five Google ads at the left.  These are 
unobtrusive, and clicking on these links drops a coin into the 
Numismatic Bibliomania Society coffers.  Over time, as more web 
visitors find our pages, these ads may produce some income for the 

So thanks again to John Nebel for his great work on behalf of The 
E-Sylum, NBS and the greater numismatic community.  There was 
actually far more involved than meets the eye; for example, his 
program also deals with maintaining the various links to adjoining 
stories, the table of contents, etc.

I encourage readers to contact the webmasters of their respective 
specialty clubs and discuss including links to E-Sylum articles 
of interest to their audience.  If nothing else, suggest including 
a link to the E-Sylum archive:   
>From there, the table of contents of each and every issue is 
accessible.    The archive has grown to considerable size, and 
it can be a great resource for researchers and browsers alike, 
and this new format makes it even more accessible.


Regarding the new look of the E-Sylum archive, Dick Johnson 
writes: "All this was created by John Nebel working with Wayne 
Homren. I would like to go on record echoing the praise Wayne 
directed at John.  

I spent three days with John at the Gallery Mint Museum board 
meeting last September and I have never met a finer numismatist 
and gentleman. John is quiet and unassuming - that's disarming 
- he has wide and deep knowledge in so many areas, not the least 
of which is ancient numismatics, coin photography and computer 
technology.  Thanks John, you deserve the praise.  

The archives are so arranged you can access an entire issue, 
or a specific article. The index lists all the articles per 
issue.  Here is what I have learned about how to go about 
linking to this useful new resource.  Note the numbers at the 
end of the sample URLs in the previous article. These have 
meaning - they pinpoint a precise article in The E-Sylum 
Archives.  Here's another sample link, to article 12 in 
Volume 8, issue Number 9:


"v" is for volume number, by year. You will note this is 
expressed with the null "0" before the 8 -- that's the zero 
on the top line of your keyboard -- not the capital "O" on 
the line below.  Next year Wayne will be in volume / year 
"10" without a need for a null. (This makes these numbers 
uniform in length -- computers like that!)

"n" is for number, the number of the issue that year. 
These numbers are not always cosimilar with the number of 
the weeks in the year, because from time to time there are 
special issues.  The London bombing prompted a special issue 
last year, and John Ford's death prompted another. Wayne had 
54 issues in total last year. Use the null with issues up to 9. 

"a" is for the article.  Count the number of headlines all 
in caps and that's the article number. Again, use the null 
with article numbers up to 9.  


A February 13 Associated Press story reported that additional 
charges in the Ohio pension fund coin scandal have been filed 
against Tom Noe:

"A coin dealer and GOP fundraiser hired to manage an unorthodox 
state investment in rare coins was charged Monday with embezzling 
at least $1 million in an election-year scandal that has sent 
Ohio Republicans running for cover. 

Tom Noe, 51, pleaded not guilty and was released on $500,000 bail. 
He was arrested over his handling of a $50 million investment fund 
set up by the state workers' compensation bureau in an unusual 
attempt to make money by buying and selling rare coins."

"Noe was charged Monday with stealing money from the coin investment 
fund by writing numerous checks, sometimes for hundreds of thousands 
of dollars each."

"Noe already faces charges of illegally funneling $45,000 to Bush's 
re-election campaign. The 53 new counts include racketeering, 
forgery, theft, money laundering and tampering with records, with 
the most serious charge carrying up to 10 years in prison."

"The investigation began after The Blade newspaper reported in 
April that the workers' compensation bureau had invested $50 million 
in rare coins with Noe. At one point, investigators thought at least 
121 coins were missing, but they eventually accounted for most of them."

To read the complete story, see: 

To read a related article in the February 16th Toledo Blade, see: 


Leon Majors writes: "Were all of the Wayte Raymond Coin 
Collector's Journal publisher's annual editions in blue 
cloth actually issued? I have editions 1-10, 12 and 14. 
Are the others out there? Thanks in advance for your help."

[My set of the Wayte Raymond CCJ is bound in blue cloth, 
but I don't believe it is the publisher's original version.  
Can anyone answer Leon's question?  Thanks. -Editor]


Fred Schwan writes: "At one time I collected Olympic medals
--winners and participation.  This brings up the question 
of the Torino participation medals. Has anyone seen these yet? 
Next, how many versions of the medal are there? What a nightmare. 
It is difficult enough getting a medal for each Olympics, 
getting one from each venue will be nigh impossible."
Pete Smith writes: "When I first saw the current Olympic gold 
medal, I thought it looked like a CD hanging from the neck.
One good thing about medallic art is that it changes to reflect 
the art of the times. One bad thing about medallic art is that it 
changes to reflect the art of the times. I think there have been 
some very good and creative medals produced in the past fifty 
years. I also think there has been a lot of junk produced. So 
far, I am not impressed with the 2006 Olympic medal."

[Until the other morning I hadn't seen any of the medals as 
worn by an athlete, and they are much larger than I imagined.  
And depending on the size of the athlete, the medal may not end 
up laying over the wearer's heart as hoped by the medal's designer.  
The one I saw looked more like an oversized belly-button ring... 

Gar Travis forwarded a link to an article with an illustration 
of the medal's lettered edge.  

And in the pop culture department, late-night talk show host 
David Letterman parodied the medals in his "Top Ten" list for 
February 15th with the "Top Ten Good Things About Winning A 
Gold Medal" (Presented By Olympic Gold Medal Winning Speed 
Skater, Chad Hedrick).  For example:

#10. It holds 10,000 songs
#7. It's accepted as a one hundred dollar chip at any Trump casino
#5. Makes one kick-a** belt buckle
#4. It's the perfect counterpart to my 8th grade chess trophy
#1. It deflects stray gunshots from Dick Cheney

To read the complete list, see: 


Michael Savinelli writes: "I was at an airport about a month 
ago, and I saw a book in the bookstore that I wanted to buy.  
The book was not numismatically related, unfortunately (it 
was published in October, 2005).  As I thumbed through the 
book, I noticed that the paper used had a ragged edge on the 
right side. Personally, I really don't like that ragged edge 
paper in a book, so I think that is why it stood out in my mind. 

Ever looking for a deal, I checked for the book on eBay. I 
found a new copy (again, copyright 2005) for half the price 
that the bookstore was selling it for, so I bought it. When 
I received the book, much to my surprise, the paper had a 
straight edge on the right side.  Does anyone know if different 
versions of books are generally printed with different paper? 
I know that the book that I bought is not an abridged version. 
I am just curious about this paper issue.  What would be the 
purpose of printing the same book with two different types 
of paper?  Why would such a new book be printed in two 
different “formats”?"

[It is not uncommon for publishers to produce multiple versions 
for marketing reasons.  Just last week for example, I noticed a 
book store display of two copies of the same book, side-by-side, 
where each had a different color scheme for the dust jacket 
cover.  The store could track which version sells best to know 
which one to reorder from the publisher.  Magazines also print 
different covers, sometimes vastly different ones, for the same 
reason.   Perhaps the uncut paper in the airport bookstore was 
expressly designed to catch the eye of a business traveler - 
if so, it apparently worked!

Numismatic books are often known to exist in multiple formats.  
Sometimes this was by design, and sometimes it was just happenstance.  
For example, the George Evans "History of the U.S. Mint" books are 
available in a very wide range of cover colors and styles.  Call 
me nuts, but I've accumulated an entire shelf full of such binding 
variants.  It could be that there was some marketing purpose behind 
this, or it could be that the binder used whatever material he 
happened to have on hand when the order came in.  -Editor]


Katie Jaeger writes: "For those who did not see my Feb. 2006 
Numismatist article on the American Institute medals, I wanted 
to share the following information, that may be very useful for 
anyone researching medals, engraving, die sinking and the related 
arts in the 19th century.

Over the last two years, I have visited the New-York Historical 
Society (NYHS) on multiple occasions to consult the full archives 
of the American Institute of the City of New York.   This 
organization, familiar to numismatists but hardly anyone else 
in the history community, endured until 1982, though most people 
are not aware of its post-1929 activities. From 1929 to 1955, 
the Institute held no expositions and awarded only one important 
medal per year at a fancy dinner (along with an honorarium of 
$150K for an outstanding advance in science or technology).  
It held annual youth science fairs in New York, and coordinated 
600 national youth science clubs. 

The Institute's sister organization, the New York Academy of 
Sciences, eventually took over the science fairs, which are 
still held in the old Institute building on 63rd St. Its other 
sister organization, the American Association for the Advancement 
of Sciences, took over the national science clubs in 1982, and 
the Institute disbanded. The 491 boxes and 508 bound volumes in 
its archives went to the NYHS, which sat on them until 1998, 
when it got a Mellon grant of $100,000 to sort and classify them.  

Every page had to be humidified so it could be unfolded, and 
then everything had to be sorted, assigned to binders, boxes 
and folders.  I know I was the first numismatic researcher ever 
to consult this fabulous archive, and I wanted to let others know 
that it is there, packed with information on just about everyone 
and everything that was notable and newsworthy in American arts, 
invention, agriculture and manufacture. This was a national 
organization, so its content is not confined to New York City 
subjects.   The NYHS website has a searchable guide to its contents. 

I had gone to the library to look for mentions of my ancestors, 
Robert Lovett, Sr. and his son George Hampden Lovett, who had 
been the Institute’s die sinkers for 50 years.  I’d been finding 
terrific stuff, like judges’ records filled out and signed by 
Robert Sr., minutes of managers’ meetings that recorded his 
conversations verbatim, George’s handwritten totals of how many 
medals he struck in each metal each year. 

The procedure at the library for looking at records is to 
laboriously fill out calls slips one at a time, and wait for 
the librarians to bring out what you've ordered.  I was stunned, 
when I pulled the lid off a box labeled "Wax seals, Heavy" to 
find, lying in the bottom, bumping around together with no 
packing material and covered in a thick layer of greasy dirt, 
a selection of steel medal dies, collars and metal-clad wooden 
printing blocks. I was apparently the first researcher ever to 
request this box, and probably the first person in 50 years to 
know the purpose of the objects inside it.  

hen I could breathe again, I arrayed the whole lot of objects 
on a table and photographed them.  Later, my interest in the 
dies prompted NYHS Senior Conservator Alan Balicki to take on 
the task of conserving them, and he invited me to his lab to 
photograph the process.  First, he cleaned them with acetone 
and then mineral spirits, using cotton pads and a stiff-bristle 
boar’s-hair brush, with his arms inside a fume hood that looks 
a little like a prenatal incubator.  

When returning them to storage in the library, Balicki sealed 
them with a thin protective film of “Renaissance” microcrystalline 
wax, and packed them with ethafoam sheeting in new, correctly 
labeled archival boxes.  Surprisingly, the NYHS decided to leave 
these dies in the manuscript collections, rather than transferring 
them to the museum collections.  This means anyone can still see 
them by filling out the usual library call slips, rather than 
going through the special request/appointment-only procedure 
for viewing items from the museum collections.

I had received permission from the NYHS to take study impressions 
of the dies before they were returned to storage.  Having no 
experience whatsoever with this, I called Russ Rulau and he told 
me beeswax works well, if it is kneaded and warmed to a workable 
state.  Since I had only one afternoon to take impressions from 
twelve dies, I feared all that kneading and pressing would be too 
time consuming.  I decided to try a dental impression compound 
called Reprosil which has a consistency similar to toothpaste and 
hardens into a rubberlike material.  I knew that this substance 
was safe and would do no harm to steel medal dies, because dentists 
apply it to metal bridgework in people’s mouths, and curators at 
the American Museum of Natural History use it to make impressions 
of dinosaur bones (to use as molds to cast replica bones). Bird 
taxidermists have even used it on anaesthetized live specimens in 
the field, to take impressions of beaks and feet, and then release 
the birds unharmed.  

I called my dentist Geoffrey Dray, who recommended that I practice 
first before my appointment.  He invited me to his office for a 
primer, using his own supply of Reprosil, which comes in two tubes 
and has to be mixed like epoxy glue: one agent is the adhesive and 
the other makes it harden.  We practiced on some medals I had 
brought along, and we were getting perfect negative impressions, 
but for the problem of tiny air bubbles leaving tiny voids on the 
face of the impressions.  

Dray reasoned that the ideal way to avoid bubble formation 
with Reprosil would be to inject a bead of the compound onto 
the die surface using a large-chamber syringe, laying out a tight 
spiral starting at the die’s center point. We tried this with a 
dental syringe designed for the purpose, and it worked.  I bought 
some big disposable veterinary syringes at my local farm supply 
store, ordered some tubes of Reprosil from an online dental supply 
outfit, and went off to New York.

On the American Institute medal dies, Balicki and I had trouble 
with Dray’s application method, since the compound begins to set 
up so quickly - in about two minutes.  We couldn’t get the stuff 
mixed and loaded into the syringe fast enough, and it was setting 
up while it was still in the nozzle.  We elected to spread it on 
gently with a wooden tongue depressor.  

The first thing we noted when we peeled off the hardened 
impression material, was how it had lifted off the tiny flecks 
of dirt and lint that could not be removed by Balicki’s brush 
and solvents.  The second thing we noticed were those pesky air 
bubbles. The impressions I took home have only a few bubbles 
and are clear, sharp, and quite satisfactory for study purposes, 
and unlike beeswax impressions, these rubber ones can’t be deformed 
or dented, and will retain their shape indefinitely.  But I know 
they can be improved upon.  The ideal procedure would be:

1)  Practice first, to get accustomed to working with the material.

2) Take an initial impression from each die, to lift out the 
dirt and bits of airborne fuzz.

3) To avoid the formation of air bubbles, use the caulking 
gun with mixing tip the Reprosil manufacturer offers.  I didn’t 
do this because the gun costs $39.95 and the cartridges are 
$34.95 , but serious researchers would certainly be willing to 
spring for this reusable device.  The gun has two chambers, 
one for the hardening agent and one for the impression material.  
These are blended together in a corkscrew-tube mixing nozzle 
just prior to exiting onto the surface of the object.  This 
gives the maximum work time for laying out the necessary concentric 
spiral, and the unused Reprosil remains in the cartridges, so there 
is no waste.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun with this and wanted to pass the 
information along."

[Katie's article is a gem, and I'm glad to be able to publish 
this additional background material.  It is a rare treat for 
researchers to be able to view virgin resource material such 
as this.  I'm also certain that many other such troves are out 
there just waiting for the right researcher to come along and 
discover them.  -Editor]


Dick Hanscom passed along a link to a new article about 
the Massachusetts roofers who found a large cache of old 
paper money:

"Charges were dropped today against the four roofers who 
police say found thousands of dollars in antique bills in 
rusted cookie canisters under the eaves of a Newbury barn 
and kept them.

And their lawyers say they will fight to get the stash back 
from police. The bills have been estimated to be worth as 
much as $720,000."

"The charges were dismissed without prejudice by Lawrence 
District Court Judge Thomas M. Brennan, meaning the Essex 
County District Attorney's office could refile the charges 
or develop new charges. The District Attorney's office had 
no comment this morning.

Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon disputed Brennan's 

"I believe it was a very poor decision," Solomon said. "We 
feel that the evidence is abundant in this case ... for 

The trove of 1,800 antique bills dating from 1899 to 1928 
had a face value of about $7,000, but a coin dealer who had 
been contacted by the roofers to appraise the money said he 
received an offer of $400 per bill — a total of $720,000 — 
from a collector."

To read the full story, see:  


This week in MPC Gram 1425, Steve Feller published part II of 
his account of a recent trip to the British Channel Islands 
ersey and Guernsey, where he sought out museums and collectors 
of numismatic items from the WWII occupation period.

"Walking back to the hotel I did a double take when I saw the 
pub by the hotel was named the Thomas de la Rue! More snaps on 
the camera and an inquiry led to the story that this was the 
former home of the one and only founder of the great printing firm."

The Thomas De La Rue pub is in St Peter Port, Guernsey.  When 
an early-morning gas leak forced the evacuation of a nearby area 
in 2003, "Charlie Beardsley, licensee of the Thomas de la Rue pub, 
opened early for people unable to get into work.

'I went to buy a litre of milk this morning and realised I was 
living behind a police cordon,' he said.

'I came down because all the people were still outside.

'I said to police if they wanted to let them in to keep warm, 
I didn't mind.'

To read the complete article, see: 


Hedley Betts writes: "I was just reading the January 8th 
issue of Esylum and saw Bob Fritsch"s question about the 
"Collection des Hommes Illustres."  I'm rather late with a 
response. Just in case he didn"t get a response, I can 
recommend "La Medaille Francaise au XIX Sieacle et L'Histoire. 
Musee de Charleville-Mezieres. By Jean-Pierre Collignon. 
It has a comprehensive list of one of the series he is 
interested in."


Only in politics would a magic trick spark a controversy.  
According to an  Indian newspaper, "The incident occurred 
during a gathering of a large number of magicians in which 
Mr Rao, the Congress party president in the state, was the 
chief guest. 

Springing a surprise on everybody, he declared that he also 
knew magic and would demonstrate his skills. 

He took out the 100-rupee note and signed it. Then he handed 
the note to the state's commissioner, Ramanna Chary, asking 
him to burn it. 

After it was burned, Mr Rao recovered the "same signed note" 
from the pocket of one of the magicians. The act was cheered 
by spectators. 

Telugu Desam leader MV Mysoora Reddy demanded Mr Rao be 

Mr Reddy said legal action should be taken against Mr Rao 
as it was a crime punishable by five years' imprisonment. 

Mr Rao said the paper that was burned was not a banknote. 

Mr Chary also denied the banknote was burned. He told the 
BBC it was like demanding a murder charge for the magician's 
trick of cutting a person in two and then producing them alive."

To read the complete story, see: 


Chris Fuccione forwarded a post from by 
a publisher seeking images of coins for a book project:
Catherine Stuart writes: "I work for a UK-based publisher of 
illustrated reference books (see url), and we are about to 
produce a new 256pp encyclopedia of coins of the world. I am 
desperately in need of some hi-res images (at least 300dpi) 
of US gold commemorative coins from the approx period 1903-1922 
(sorry if dates not quite right! I'm still not an expert ...) 
- preferably the Panama Pacific Exposition issues of 1915 (the 
$50 coins would be lovely, but of course $1, $2 etc will also 
be fine), though could also by Louisiana Purchase or others. 
The problem is that we are showing tons of silver commemorative 
coins, and I would really love to include some of these beautiful 
gold issues." 

[Catherine's email address is cstuart at -Editor]


Saul Teichman writes: "With regard to the 1844-O proof eagle 
and half eagle, the coins were almost certainly the proofs 
listed in the Seavey descriptive catalog. 

The eagle was purchased by Virgil Brand at the Woodin sale 
and entered into his journals at #57068. 

Some other Brand purchases from Elder's Woodin sale are below. 

1827 quarter restrike lot 416 $180 57014 
1854 proof gold dollar lot 851 $65 57033 – later to Pittman 
1856 proof gold dollar lot 856 $30 57034 
1857 proof gold dollar lot 859 $25 57035 
1821 proof $2.50 lot 939 $63.50 57041 
1834 $2.50 with motto lot ??? $300 
1843 proof $2.50 lot 966 $94 57049 
1848 proof $2.50 lot 973 $95 57050 
1857 and 1858 proof $2.50 were also purchased 
1838 proof $10 lot 1201 $200 57063 
1839 UNC $10 lot 1202 57064 - later to Pittman 
1843 proof $10 lot 1203 $100 57065 
1848 proof $10 lot 1213 $100 57066 – later to Pittman 
1858 proof $10 lot 1223 $102.50 57067 same price as Jewett 
   coin, mispedigreed in Breen's proof book !! 
1858 proof $20 lot 1359 57069 

These are shown to more complete some pedigrees in the Pittman 
sales and to compare prices with other proofs sold at the time.  
As one can see, the piece was not considered a big deal at the 
time as most other proofs shown sold for more money. 

The 1844-O proof half eagle was sold in the Farouk sale, 
probably ex Newcomer, Col Green as Newcomer purchased Woodin's 
half eagles in the mid-1920s and most of his rarer coins ended 
up there.  It would be nice if this could be confirmed from the 
John Ford inventories."


According to a press release from the American Numismatic 
Association, "Four newly created and refurbished traveling 
exhibits will be shown for the first time outside of Colorado 
Springs at the National Money Show in Atlanta, April 7-9.

The small exhibits are among five traveling displays the 
ANA is making available to clubs, schools, libraries, banks 
and other museums as part of a program to showcase Money 
Museum collections throughout the country.

"Numismatics of the Olympic Games," "Money in Early America," 
"Currency of Conflict: Money of the Civil War," and "Benjamin 
Franklin: A Man for All Times" will be displayed in the exhibit 
area at the Cobb Galleria Centre.

"Quarter Dollars: Bits and Pieces of American History" is 
also available for loan.

Each small traveling exhibit can be displayed in two, three 
or four standard exhibit cases, and should be booked six to 
eight weeks in advance of exhibit dates."

[This is a nice service for the promotion of the hobby.
I would encourage our readers to publicize the program to
schools, libraries and other such venues in their local area.


Peter Koch writes: "For a research project on Hard Times 
Tokens, I'm looking for a copy of Stack's April 23, 1955 
auction catalogue (with or without prices realized). This 
sale featured the R.D. Allen collection of Hard Times 
tokens. Condition is irrelevant; a photocopy of a photocopy 
would be fine."


Peter Koch writes: "Does anyone know what became of 
Robinson (Robbie) S. Brown's magnificent Conder tokens 
(the British Provincial Token-Coinage of the 18th Century)? 
Robbie's collection is said to be among the most extensive 
(not surprising) ever assembled of this classic series. I 
have seen no mention or public auction of this collection. 
Before this collection is dispersed it would be forever a 
tragedy not to catalog and or publish a book on this 
fantastic collection."


Forbes magazine published a nice article on Valentine's Day 
about a meeting of the New York Numismatic Club:

"On a blustery Thursday night this February, the members 
of one such society convened in a historical clubhouse in 
downtown Manhattan. They were united in their passion for 
money, but these were no ordinary financiers. They were 
coin collectors. 

The New York Numismatic Club was founded in December 1908, 
and its members meet once a month for dinner. They've never 
yet missed a meeting--not for the declarations of war in 1917 
or 1941. Not for Sept. 11, 2001."

"Coin collectors are a nervous set of people. Theft is 
foremost on their minds, and they are fanatical about 
maintaining their privacy. None of the club members I spoke 
with would consent to let me print his name. Most refused 
to reveal how much his collection was worth, let alone where 
it was stored." 

"Coin collectors are often highly educated, well versed in 
both history and literature... They often start collecting 
at a very early age. And they are passionate about their 
collections--even a bit obsessive." 

"And while large-scale robberies are relatively rare, nearly 
every nickel-and-dime dealer has a story to tell about small-time 
thugs who make off with a couple thousand dollars' worth of 
merchandise. At the Numismatic Club dinner, news of a theft 
at the New York International Numismatic Convention, held in 
January, spread quickly. One collector, it seems, was held 
up as he walked back to his car and robbed of the coins he 
had purchased just that day. 

In a safe environment, however, most coin collectors will 
happily trot out specimens from their collections. The 
Numismatic Club dinner concluded with a lively show-and-tell 
where members laid out some of their rarest and most interesting 
coins. Each was then given a strict three minutes to describe 
what he had brought. After everyone had spoken, the collectors 
drifted around the room and examined the coins more closely, 
offering admiration, praise and numismatic advice."

To read the complete article, see: 

[Dr. Ute Wartenberg Kagan, Executive Director of the 
American Numismatic Society also saw the article and pointed 
it out to me.  I often wonder what a reporter from say, the 
1860s, would have written about a group of collectors of the 
day.  Some things never change, and I'll bet a long-ago meeting 
would seem very similar to us today in many ways. -Editor]


The following is reprinted with permission from the Early 
American Coppers Region 8 Newsletter #492 (February 12, 2006):

"David Hatfield writes: There's a 20-page novelette called 
"Numismatic", featuring a large cent collector, in the April 
issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact. "Numismatist" is a 
hard-boiled detective story written by a friend of mine. The 
April issue of Analog is on newsstands now and is carried by 
most chain bookstores. (Analog is a magazine the size of 
Reader's Digest.) It will also be available online, at, probably starting late February. (On the 
site, click the link to e-Analog, then click the logo for 
e-book retailer Fictionwise.)"


Dr. K.A. Rodgers writes: "Honesty is the best policy: In your 
recent piece concerning terms used to describe medals, readers 
are no doubt used to the eternal search for bigger, better and 
brighter adjectives to qualify the common word "uncirculated" 
- whether used by a coin or note vendor.

However, when we come to the other end of the scale dealers 
tend to become a little tongue- tied.  However, in an auction 
held over the weekend, an Aussie dealer told it like it was. 
The note was graded as "Poor" and the catalogue was upfront 
describing it as "tatty and frail".  For his honesty, the 
vendor sold the lot for $A2600 on a $500 estimate!"


Ron Abler writes: "I like Dick Johnson's proposal to change 
the grading system for medals on the grounds that circulation 
is an inappropriate criterion.  However, at the risk of taking 
seriously something which Mr. Johnson may have intended to be 
tongue-in-cheek, I do not agree that such a major departure 
from familiar grading terms is either necessary or advisable.  
I do agree that medals do not circulate in the sense that coins 
do, so I heartily concur that "uncirculated" is a malapropic 
term.  However, I think that "mint state" is every bit as 
applicable to a medal as it is to a coin, so why not use it?  
Furthermore, since medals are often larger than coins and 
usually sculpted in much greater depth and detail, the quality 
of the strike in a mint-state medal surely deserves all eleven 
of the grades from MS 60 through 70.

In conditions less than mint state, why not continue to use 
Good through Extra Fine?  Commemorative coins such as halves 
were not primarily intended to circulate either, but coin-grading 
standards have served us well for them so far.  As long as we 
recognize that wear on medals was probably not caused by circulation, 
the rub on pocket pieces and from cabinet friction manifests itself 
on medals in the same manner as on coins.  So do the marks of abuse, 
such as scratches, rim dings, and corrosion.  Further, it is likely 
that NGC (and PCGS?) will continue to grade and slab medals using 
coin-grading standards, thereby enshrining a large number of medals 
in the coin-style grading system.  If we retain that system 
(substituting MS, Mint State, and NMS, Nearly Mint State, for Unc 
and AU, respectively), we retain decades of grading experience and
terminology without having to deal with some sort of conversion 
system, such as "mellow = XF-AU" and "haggard = VG-VF."  Besides, 
I'd still continue to pay more for "high-mellow" than "low-mellow."


Regarding the recent reports of strong-arm robberies of people 
returning from major coin shows, retired LAPD officer Alan V. 
Weinberg writes: 

"One thing is for certain. Given the successful number of thefts 
and robberies, the thieves and robbers will be back next year in 
While there is little to protect a dealer who travels 100 miles 
away before he is robbed, there are certain things he can do to 
minimize his exposure. 
First, the more expensive items like a $10,000 note or a $4 Stella 
should be carried in the dealer's pockets when driving home. The 
robbers and thieves almost always want to avoid personal contact 
- speed and surprise is their mode of operation.
Secondly, a briefcase holding the more valuable items can be 
concealed in the car's spare tire wheel well - leave the spare 
tire at home. So if the trunk is popped or the dealer is robbed, 
all the thieves will get is what is momentarily visible. They'll 
miss anything in the wheel well.

[I might add that it couldn't hurt to include a decoy briefcase, 
perhaps containing junk-filled cardboard coin boxes or PCGS 
plastic boxes.  Thinking it to be loaded with coins, the thieves 
might choose it over another case. Ideally, the decoy briefcase 
should closely resemble one carried at the show, perhaps a twin 
of the one hidden in the wheel well.  -Editor]
Third, upon leaving the show, drive directly to the nearest 
sheriff or police station and into their parking lot. Stay there 
for 10 minutes or so. The thieves who are following you will not 
loiter around in such circumstances.
Fourth, carry a digital camera on the front seat or in your pocket 
and snap away like mad at the thieves and their vehicle so you have 
a documented history of the robbery for the police and your 
insurance company.
Fifth, if your tire blows out or a mechanical failure occurs with 
the car en route home from the coin show, keep driving until you 
arrive at a heavily-populated location like a supermarket parking 
lot, right in front of the market entrance.  The odds of a legitimate
problem occurring with your car are miniscule - the thieves could 
have punctured or shot out your tire or radiator and are waiting 
for you to stop.
Sixth, although this may sound silly, all occupants of your car 
should make a restroom visit before leaving the show and driving 
home so there is one less reason to make a stop en route. Also, 
leave the show with a tank full of gas - gas up the night before, 
not on the way home.  Don't stop for food or drink, either. Be 
prepared the night before or the morning of departure.
Seventh, carry a loaded handgun under the seat or floor mat or 
in your pocket (not the glove box) and know how and when to use 
it. A handgun in your briefcase is useless when it is needed 

[Alan's tips are welcome, although number seven is clearly 
controversial.  Each person must decide for themselves what 
tradeoffs to make and which risks to take.  -Editor]

Alan adds: "It is a misdemeanor to be caught carrying a loaded 
gun in your vehicle in many states ... not so in other states 
like Texas. That is specifically why I said not to carry it in 
the glove box in case you get stopped for a traffic violation 
and have to give the vehicle registration in the glove box to 
the police.  

Many dealers already carry a pistol in their briefcase - I've 
seen it at shows often ... but it is not readily accessible 
in a street vehicle robbery.
It's a war out there and with their current success, you can 
bet the thieves will be back again - in greater numbers and 
acting ever more aggressively. Law enforcement is not likely 
to charge the coin dealer with a misdemeanor for defending his 
merchandise.  In most cases, should the police officer stopping 
you spot the gun, but see the merchandise you are carrying and 
hear your explanation for carrying a loaded firearm, he or she 
will ignore the gun and the misdemeanor. 
Remember, I worked LA's mean streets for 20+ yrs and know 
hundreds of other officers who did the same and know how they 
think and operate. A reasonable explanation coupled with the 
right attitude will serve the coin dealer well.
But if the gun is adequately concealed under the driver's car 
seat or under either side front floor rug, there's no reason 
for a traffic stop to reveal the gun at all."


Dick Hanscom writes: I found this site that might be of use 
to token researchers: 


Dick Johnson writes: "Ever wonder why current American coins 
do not have number denominations on them? The denominations 
-- if they do appear -- are spelled out.  Bob Arndorfer of 
the Gainesville Florida Sun was asked about this by a reader 
and wrote about it in last Friday's paper.  He got an answer 
from Michael White of the U.S. Mint."

"In the eight months she has been in the United States, Kim 
Salil Gokhale of India says, she has learned a lot about its 
people and culture.

One thing that has perplexed her about a country "so advanced 
and people-friendly," however, is its not-so-friendly monetary 
system. Specifically its coins.

"I observed a very curious thing - that none of the U.S. coins 
has numerical denominations on them," Gokhale said in a submission 
to Since You Asked. "In addition, the coin for a dime does not 
say how many cents make a dime."

That surprised even some Americans for whom the penny, nickel, 
dime and quarter are, in coin-speak, their first language.

The penny is "one cent," not "1 cent."

The nickel isn't helpfully identified as "5 cents" - or even 
"nickel" for that matter - but "five cents."

The 10-cent piece, as our questioner rightly points out, is 
"one dime."

And the quarter? Forget about it. It's "quarter dollar," not 
even "twenty-five cents."

"Imagine being stuck in an international airport in Europe/Asia 
having to use a coin that would not tell you anything numerically, 
a coin that bears just the spelling of the denomination in local 
language," Gokhale said. "Would it not be easier to understand 
'10 cents' instead of 'one dime?'"

Good question, one that was posed to Michael White, a spokesman 
for the United States Mint.

Why don't U.S. coins have numerical designations, as coins 
in India and many other countries do?

"It is artistic choice in the majority of instances," White 
said by phone from his office in Washington, D.C."

In the case of the dollar coin, he said, legislation that 
created it required it to be called "one dollar." Of course, 
the dollar coin is so uncommon, it's not likely to confuse 
many people.

Referencing the Web site, White said there are 
many examples among historic coins in which some type of number 
was used."

"If Gokhale thinks today's dime is curious, she's lucky she 
didn't have to deal with its earliest ancestor.

White said the first dimes from 1796 to 1807 had nothing to 
identify their denomination. They had an eagle, a busty Lady 
Liberty and the words "Liberty" and "United States of America," 
but that was it.

"Then from 1809 to 1837, the dime had '10 c.' on it," White 
said. "From 1837 on, it was called 'one dime.'"

To read the complete story, see:


The January/February 2006 issue of Paper Money (the official 
journal of the Society of Paper Money Collectors) includes a 
nice illustrated article by Benny Bolin on Fractional Currency 
Literature.  The article includes books, catalogues, fixed price 
lists and articles as well, including one of my all-time favorites.  

On a visit to the American Numismatic Association library in 1980 
I looked thru the files for anything on Civil War numismatics, 
and I came across a copy of an 1893 article by Thomas Cunningham 
from the American Journal of Numismatics (vol XXIV, #4).  

Cunningham lived in Mohawk, NY, where he was a close personal 
friend of F. E. Spinner, the Treasury official responsible for 
the creation of Fractional Currency.  Cunningham collected the 
notes, and his article listed all of the fractional notes known 
at the time.  Cunningham's first-hand account really accelerated
my interest in both numismatics and numismatic literature.


Dick Johnson writes: "One of the innovations on the book 
publishing horizon is e-books – placing the entire contents of 
a book, text and illustrations, on a single CD -- replacing paper 
and ink versions. Publishers like the idea since cost is slightly 
less, inventory may be greatly reduced since the CD can be 
virtually reproduced on demand.

Textbook publishers thought this was ideal to replace costly 
textbooks, particularly since modern students are savvy handling 
digital data. An experiment this semester for students at Brown 
University in Providence Rhode Island lacked success however. 
Three textbooks were offered, but only one copy for one course 
sold to a single student. His reaction was not enthusiastic.

An AP article by Anick Jesdanun this week told of that student’s 
reaction: "He couldn’t run a highlight marker over key points or 
jot notes in the margins, nor could he curl up with the tome 
without printing out the pages."

E-book publishers saw some setbacks as well. One student could 
buy the CD and print copies for all his fellow students. Then 
even pass the CD on for the next semester’s students. Publishers 
could only build in a self-destruction after a year’s time.

I know how important underlining or highlighting is. Last week 
I purchased the book "Doing Oral History" by Donald A. Ritchie. 
On the internet I found a new copy at $20 postpaid, or used at 
$12 postpaid. (Oxford, the publisher, lists it at $35.) I opted 
for the used copy more for the existing underlining that the $8 
saving to speed my study of this new subject for me.

In reading perhaps 5,000 numismatic and related books in the 
last sixty years, I can remember only one with underlining. Coin 
enthusiasts apparently don’t underline numismatic books. They 
are not books to study. Are they books for reference only?

A CD is great for reference. Search for a keyword and you will 
have a desired location and citation almost instantly. But if 
the experiment at Brown University is any indication, e-books 
are not for study.

If you are interested in the news story:

[I highlight articles and documents all the time for 
career-based research, but not my numismatic books.  I would 
rather make photocopies than directly mark up my books.  Why?  
It just seems wrong to damage them for the next owner.  Most 
collectors understand they are not the owners of an object, 
only the curator.  What goes for coins and other numismatic 
objects extends to the books in my mind, and I assume that is 
why so few other collectors annotate their books.  I do realize 
that many do constantly mark up their books, and their annotations 
can be very valuable.  But I guess I’m just too reluctant to do 
it myself.  What do our readers have to say? -Editor]


Regarding the misspelling in the headline of last week's 
piece on the Parmelee 1844-O Proof Eagle, George Kolbe 
writes:  "Tsk tsk Wayne: "PARMALEE"?!  You do carry on 
an illustrious tradition, though."

[As Maxwell Smart would say, "Sorry 'bout that, chief!"

George adds: "I thought it was great! Numismatic names, 
spellings, and, especially, pronunciations have always 
fascinated me and "Parmalee" really does have a history, 
to say nothing of Hazeltine, Kossoff, et al.

Is it Doe tee or Dow tee; Beast ill or Biest ill; 
Hazel teen or Hazel tine?

Noe is not no; it is No ee, but I am not 100% sure 
about the others.

How about Fivaz? As pronounced by Ray Charles?
Perhaps E fans will know."

[Misspellings and typos can bring much amusement.  Steve Feller's 
MPC Gram 1425 travelogue noted: "The bus brought us back to the 
capital and we had a mice lunch."   I'm sure it was a nice lunch, 
but not so sure the main course included furry rodents.  -Editor]


This week's featured web site is the Thomas de la Rue company.
"De La Rue is the world's largest commercial security printer
and papermaker, involved in the production of over 150 national 
currencies and a wide range of security documents such as 
travellers cheques and vouchers."

Home page:

"1855: Thomas de la Rue began printing British postage stamps.
"1860: Thomas de la Rue printed its first paper money - 
       Mauritius £5, £1 and 10/- notes."

Company history:,2681,,00.html 

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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

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