The E-Sylum v9#09, February 26, 2006

esylum at esylum at
Sun Feb 26 20:37:18 PST 2006

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 9, Number 09, February 26, 2006:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers is Bruce Paulhamus.  Welcome aboard!  
We now have 863 subscribers.

This week we have a lengthy issue with lots of news on new and 
old books, and some remembrances of literature dealer Art Rubino.  
A "lucky coin" is found in a medieval ship wreckage, and I've got 
a question about the popularity of Mardi Gras Doubloons.  

Dick Johnson chimes in with articles on die preservation in museums, 
and his proposal on medal grading.  We also have some interesting 
questions relating to the Alaska Rural Rehabilitation Corporation 
(ARRC) tokens, and additional information and criticism on the 
Olympic medals.  Numismatic researcher Katie Jaeger offers some 
updates to her February 2006 Numismatist article on American 
Institute. Finally, we discuss numismatic books on CD and reveal 
the answer to last week's quiz question, who was Ken L. Rosenbaum?  
Have a great week, everyone.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Joel Orosz writes: "This is great news. The E-Sylum has become 
a tremendously valuable resource, and the archive will both 
preserve it and make it more accessible.  Hats off to all who 
made this important step possible!"

[I'd also like to thank Kavan Ratnatunga for his several 
suggestions on improving the usefulness and "searchability" of 
the new archive pages.   They are already being indexed by 
Google, and over time may become more prominent in search

There is a great deal of interesting information in our archives.  
If you operate a personal or club website, linking to this content 
could improve the usefulness of your site. If you would like some 
assistance in doing this, please let me know. -Editor]


Alison Frankel, a devoted E-Sylum reader, has written a new 
book on the 1933 $20 gold piece.  She writes: "I know it's not 
the sort of scholarly coin examination you guys usually chew 
over, but I thought your readers might be interested in a 
general interest book with a coin as its focus."

The 320-page book is scheduled for publication by W. W. Norton 
on May 15, 2006.  Alison is a senior writer at The American Lawyer. 
Her work has also appeared in Newsday and several other national 
Alison was nice enough to send me an advance reading copy.  My 
pile of "got to get to this" numismatic reading is getting bigger 
and bigger, but I did take time to read a couple chapters of Alison's 
book this week, and found quite a number of interesting tidbits about 
the creation of the coins as well as things I don't recall reading 
elsewhere about the prosecution of the case against dealer Stephen 

Some of the new information in the book is found in the thirteen-page
Epilogue, and Alison has given me permission to reveal two details 
here. First, the book includes the first-ever publication of Roy 
Langbord's story of his family's discovery of the ten additional 
1933 Double Eagles.  Second, the book includes a new photograph 
of a 1933 Double Eagle, taken by a prospective buyer.  This particular 
coin has not surfaced publicly and may well be the same Texas/California
specimen discussed and illustrated in David Tripp's recent book.  Has 
anyone in the government read these books?

I also skipped ahead to the Acknowledgements, Notes and Bibliography. 
These are my favorite parts of any book, because I like to know where 
the information comes from.  Alison writes: "My largest debt is to the 
people who lived the story" including Stephen Fenton and his lawyer 
Barry Berke, and Jay Parrino, Jack Moore and Harvey Stack. There was 
no index in my reading copy, but Alison assures me her publisher is 
working on one. 

I was delighted to read her acknowledgement of our little publication.  
She writes: "The devoted readers of E-Sylum, the indispensable weekly
newsletter of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society, offered leads and
encouragement.  E-Sylum regulars Q. David Bowers, Roger Burdette, Pete 
Smith and Len Augsberger also got a nod, as did George Kolbe, Dan 
Hamelberg and a host of others.  

Alison adds: "In my first manuscript draft I actually had a whole 
subchapter on numismatic book collecting. I went out to the John 
Ford literature auction that George Kolbe ran in California and 
interviewed him and Dan Hamelberg about the sale and collecting 
coin literature. I'm so taken with numismatic bibliophilia; to 
outsiders it seems the most arcane (okay, obscure) of pursuits, 
but you guys are both passionate and generous--a rare combination 
when it comes to collecting. My editor found the material too 
tangential to the story of the 1933 Double Eagle and, alas, made 
me cut it."

[Drat!  But perhaps there's a novel somewhere in the murky world 
of The E-Sylum.  "The Feldman Code" could tell the tale of secret 
messages hidden in the marginalia of numismatic literature, 
undiscovered for centuries until a disparate band of bibliophile 
bloggers pieced together the mystery and solved the perplexing 
murders of several high-society coin collectors.  The film version 
could star Brad Pitt as the hunky computer-geek protagonist
(OK, quit the eye-rolling). 

Actually, the tale of the 1933 Double Eagle could well be fodder 
for a fine true-story film script someday.  It has many dramatic 
moments, such as Saint-Gaudens' clash with Barber, President 
Roosevelt's table-pounding over the production delays, the stock 
market crash and Great Depression, William Woodin's sleepless 
juggernaut to reengineer the nation's financial system, the gold 
recall, the Secret Service's quest and confiscation of coins, 
King Farouk and his eccentricities, the sting at the Waldorf-Astoria, 
the auction, and the seizure of ten Izzy Switt coins and their 
storage at Fort Knox.   

Coins can be boring, and it's hard to blame the general public 
for that perception.  But it's their stories that make them come 
alive, and those stories are what we bibliophiles lust after.  
Many thanks to Alison Frankel, her fellow author David Tripp, and 
everyone who helped sort out and tell the tale of these fascinating 
coins. -Editor]


Chris Chapel of Whitman Publishing forwarded a release about 
the new book on U.S. paper money by Dave Bowers and David 
Sundman. Pricing information was provided by Tom Denly, owner 
of Denly's of Boston. Congratulations to the authors and Whitman 
- it sounds like a beautiful book.

"Whitman Publishing announces the release of The 100 Greatest 
American Currency Notes, by Q. David Bowers and David M. Sundman. 
In this beautifully illustrated book, two of America's best-known
numismatists take the reader on a personal guided tour of the 
paper money of colonial America, the Continental Congress, the 
early states, the Confederacy, old banks, and private issuers.

"Each of the 100 Greatest was voted into place by leading paper 
currency dealers, researchers, and historians," says Whitman 
president Mary Counts. Inside the reader will find prized and 
seldom seen rarities-the unique and high-valued pieces that 
collectors dream about. The famous Grand Watermelon, featured 
on the front cover, tips the scale as the world's first 
million-dollar currency note. The book also explores more 
available and widely popular notes: pieces so beautiful or with 
such strange and fascinating stories that everybody wants one. 
The Lazy Deuce, the Tombstone Note, the Buffalo Bill, and dozens 
more are pictured in bold full color."

"The 100 Greatest American Currency Notes is not just a price 
guide or a fancy picture book," says Whitman publisher Dennis 
Tucker. "It's a time machine that takes the reader to a hundred 
different points in American history. And it's a fascinating 
introduction to the hobby of collecting paper money."

"The book is coffee-table-size, 224 pages, full color, with 
photographs and stories for every note. It also includes market 
values, price histories, field populations, census reports, 
quantities printed, and auction records. Retail price is $29.95. 
The 100 Greatest American Currency Notes will be available in 
February at hobby shops and bookstores nationwide."


Jim Barry writes: "Having recently purchased a copy of Raisiel 
Suarez's "Encyclopedia of Roman Imperial Coins", I find this 
new work takes a somewhat novel approach to the subject of 
collecting these coins.  The large number of clear and color 
photographs of coin types is both visually enjoyable and welcomed.  
The combination of coin types that can be matched with their RIC 
numbers is especially helpful to the beginning and intermediate 
collector of Imperial coins.  

While no attempt is made to give prices for coins - an often 
useless item anyway - the rarity of various coin types gives 
some indication of what prices of coins are likely to be.  
Overall this is a likeable and user-friendly new book on the 
subject in spite of some errors that might have been eliminated 
with better proof reading.  Clearly this book would make a fine 
addition to a collector's library."


This week on the Yahoo discussion group for the Colonial Coin 
Collectors Club (C-4), Roger Moore published a nice book review, 
and with permission I'm republishing it here:

Roger writes: "This evening I finished the very quick read – 
“Clip a Bright Guinea” by John Marsh.  Mike Ringo brought the 
group’s attention to this book a month or so ago and on his advice 
I bought the book.  It is a fascinating look into the coin 
counterfeiting culture in England under the reign of George III.  
In an isolated and desolate part of the Yorkshire moor a group of
subsistence farmers and others joined together to defraud the 
government by extensively clipping and counterfeiting of coins.  

The group was organized by one David Hartley who would become 
known as “King David” for the fact that he seemed to hold total 
control of the local coinage and through enforcers made shop 
keepers participate in his clipping and counterfeiting business.  
The book provides an excellent accounting of how the entire saga 
of building the counterfeiting empire occurred and how it was 
dismantled – largely due to the efforts of one Robert Parker, a 
local attorney.  

I do not want to give the story (historical) away for those not 
having read the book yet, but you will be interested in descriptions 
of “hung in chains” and the spectacle that had to be endured by 
wayfarers during that era when traveling into large cities where 
executions were carried out.  It is a highly entertaining and 
very easy read.  You will come away with a flavor of the times 
with its defined class structure, poverty and the ineffectual 
Treasury officials that lead to the counterfeiting boon. It also 
lets one see the bravery and dedication of a few honest and 
conscientious men in overcoming a community resistant to stopping 
the counterfeiting.   A great read that will be available in the 
C-4 library!!!"


The Winter 2005 issue of The C4 newsletter published by the 
Colonial Coin Collectors Club included minutes of the 
organization's General Meeting in Boston November 19, 2005.  
Of interest to bibliophiles is a report on the status of 
C4-sponsored research and publications: "Roger Siboni's opus 
on NJ coppers (with Jack Howes' great help) perhaps ready in 
2007 and a draft of Brian Danforth's book on pre-Confederation 
coinage was available to view. Work continues on more than a 
half dozen previously mentioned research-publication projects: 
Fugio's, Wood's coinage, Massachusetts Coppers, St. Patrick 
Farthings, Sommer's Island and Lord Baltimore coinage, and 
Virginia coppers.  Tony Carlotta is also working on a Vermont 


Howard A. Daniel III writes: "I was very saddened to read about 
Art Rubino passing away.  He was one of the early sellers of my 
books, and he contacted me whenever he obtained a book about 
Southeast Asia.  I cannot remember the first time we met, but it 
was probably in the Western USA.  His setup of books and 
periodicals was HUGE!  I could not believe how much inventory he 
carried to a show.  

After talking with him for awhile, I searched through everything 
and found five or six books and periodicals to purchase that had 
something for me well hidden inside them.  Whenever I met him at 
another show, I would do the same thing and always find one or two 
items.  And I often found something he had priced too low and I 
would tell him about it.  He would thank me but rarely would he 
raise the price.  Art will be missed and I hope his son, David, 
continues the business, even if it is on a website."

[Like Howard, I've forgotten the details of my own first meeting 
with Art, but it was probably also at a west coast show such as 
Long Beach.  I too spent a long while looking through Art's stock 
and managed to find several catalogs or items of ephemera to add 
to my library, which was already fairly advanced by that time.  
The only book I recall purchasing was one I'd been seeking for 
quite a while - Claud E. Fuller's 1949 "Confederate Currency and 
Stamps"  I still have this copy in my library.  -Editor]

W. David Perkins writes: "Count me among those who knew and will 
miss literature dealer Art Rubino.  I first met him at a local 
Denver coin show in the early 1990s.  I had quickly visited all 
the dealers at the show looking for Half Cents and early U.S. 
Silver Dollars by die variety.  As usual (and not unexpectedly) 
I did not have any luck locating any new coins for my specialized

I glanced around the floor and noted some tall bookshelves "way 
in the back."  I wandered over to what turned out to be Art 
Rubino and his "mobile bookshop" as you termed it in last week's 
issue of The E-Sylum.  After looking around I introduced myself 
to Art and asked if he had brought any U.S. coin auction catalogs.  
Art said they were in boxes under the tables.  The first box I 
pulled out had a run of Lester Merkin sale catalogs.  I quickly 
located two copies of Merkin's Public Auction Sale - September 18, 
1968. This sale included part of the extensive Ostheimer silver 
dollar collection (Early U.S. Silver Dollars 1794-1803 through 
Peace Dollars, including Pattern Dollars and Lesher Dollars).  

The first copy was priced at $20.00. This was a "normal copy" 
with prices realized included.

The next copy of the Merkin September 18, 1968 sale was a 
"special one," a "GEM" in numismatic terms.  On the cover above 
the words "Auction Sale-" was written "Mrs. Ostheimer!"  Arrows 
pointed to two of the silver dollars that were plated on the 
cover – the Ostheimer 1870-S Dollar and a 1795 Bolender-3 Dollar.  
In the lower right quadrant of the cover was "My Estimate" written 
in red ink and "Realized" in blue ink.  Inside on the first page 
was "OSTHEIMER OWN COPY ANNOTATED." Needless to say that at this 
point my heart was beating quite rapidly. 

Inside I found a three page auction settlement on Lester Merkin's
stationery.  The settlement had Lot #, Percent Paid for selling 
the Lot and Price (Realized).   To the left of the Lot # field 
written in red ink and underlined was "Cost."  The third page of 
the auction settlement had total of lots with a seller's fee of 20%, 
15% and 10% (varied by price realized).  There was a dollar total 
for lots not sold and lots reserved (at $25.00 each!).  In pencil 
was noted "Baldenhofer," which turns out to be important as the 
Baldenhofer pedigree was not included where relevant on any of the 
lots for early silver dollars 1795-1803.  

Accompanying the auction settlement was an adding machine tape 
with "Cost Baldenhofer" written on it in pencil. Thus from this 
I was able to determine which lots were linked to W. G. Baldenhofer. 
As it turns out [later research by this author] M. H. Bolender 
acquired the W. G. Baldenhofer silver dollar collection en bloc.  
He sold it privately to the Ostheimers [I later acquired from Mrs. 
Ostheimer Bolender's bill of sale and a complete listing of the 
Baldenhofer silver dollar collection.] Also written in pencil on 
the third page of the auction settlement were the Ostheimer's capital 
gains tax calculations.  Needless to say they did quite well on 
their investment.  

After this, I would always stop by and visit with Art when he was 
set up at a show that I was attending. In my experience Art was both 
a gentleman and a knowledgeable dealer. I always enjoyed my time with 

For those who are interested, see Stack's public auction sale of 
the Farish Baldenhofer Collection of U. S. Coins November 11-12, 
1955.  There was a small run of early U.S. silver dollars 1794-1803, 
lots 964-982. This appears to be a small "date / major type set" of 
early dollars.  I'm not sure if these dollars were Baldenhofer's or 
the property of Stack's or another consignor.  If any readers know 
the answer I would love to learn who consigned the early dollar lots 
in this sale. I asked Vicken Yegparian of Stack's this question in 
September 2005.  He replied, "It was actually Harvey Stack who went 
to Columbus to pick up the "Farish Baldenhofer Collection and that 
Harvey did not recall whether the Silver Dollars offered in the 
Farish Baldenhofer Catalogue belong to the Baldenhofer Collection."  


Arthur Shippee forwarded a link from the Explorator newsletter 
to an item on the Bryn-Mawr College (Philadelphia) website:

"A permanent exhibition of ancient coins will open on Tuesday, 
Feb. 28, in the Ella Riegel Memorial Museum on the third floor 
of Thomas Hall at Bryn Mawr. Titled "A Treasury of Knowledge: 
An Exhibition of the Bryn Mawr College Collection of Ancient 
Coins," the display is curated by Sarah Hafner, a graduate 
student in Greek, Latin and Classical Studies and a National 
Endowment for the Humanities Curatorial and Exhibitions Fellow."

"Hafner began her work with the coins as a summer project, but 
it became a longer-term effort. "Nobody had done intensive work 
on this collection for years," she says, "so there was a lot to 
do. I've now looked at every coin in the collection. My goal 
was to organize them so that they could be a useful resource."

"About 75 coins will be included in the display. "The collection 
contains examples of some of the oldest known coins," Hafner says; 
the oldest coin on exhibit dates from 600-550 B.C.E. Most of the 
coins in the exhibition are Greek or Roman."

"The exhibition is open to the Tri-College community Monday 
through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and to the general public 
by appointment. For more information, call (610) 526-5022."

To read the complete article, see:


Last Sunday, February 19, the Cox News service reported from 
New Orleans: "The defiant Mardi Gras doubloon said it all 
yesterday: "Come Hell or High Water."

It would take more than the worst natural disaster in U.S. 
history to stop this party.

Strings of plastic beads and strains of Dixieland music filled 
the air. Gargantuan faces smiled down from passing floats as 
sidewalks turned into rivers of hands reaching up for gaudy 
trinkets. The crowds -- although smaller than normal -- were 
grateful that Mardi Gras 2006 had begun less than six months 
since hurricanes laid waste to their city."

"The notion of having a huge party only a few miles from where 
whole neighborhoods are still demolished and deserted did not 
strike the early revelers as odd.

The parades were a relief to some natives.  "I was so glad to 
get back," said Ferdinand Grayson, 96, who was evacuated to 
Houston after Katrina and returned only two months ago. "And 
I'm so glad we're having Mardi Gras.""

To read the full story, see: 

But are Mardi Gras Doubloons being edged out in popularity by 
beads?  A search of news stories shows many more references to 
beads than doubloons as party throws in New Orleans.  An 
Associated Press story reported: "They're throwing Mardi Gras 
beads again - so many strands, they're landing in tree branches 
and getting snagged on the trellised balconies of the French 

You'll find them adorning the arms of Spanish statues. Tourists 
are wearing them, but these days so are contractors and the 
National Guard. It's hard to walk on Bourbon Street without 
stepping on them. You're likely to crunch them underfoot, long 
necklaces of plastic pearls brightening the asphalt."

To read the full story, see: 


According to a Reuters article, "Detectives arrested a man aged 
29 and a woman of 30 in London after a gang posing as police 
mounted the raid on security depot in southern England."

"Six raiders snatched the manager of a security depot, took his 
wife and young son hostage and threatened to kill them unless he 
helped them get inside the compound, police said.

"The Bank of England, Britain's central bank, confirmed that 25 
million pounds of its money had been stolen. Assistant Chief 
Constable Adrian Leppard told a news conference the final figure 
could hit 50 million pounds.

If confirmed at 50 million, it would eclipse the previous record 
haul of cash and valuables worth up to 40 million pounds from a 
safe deposit box center in Knightsbridge, central London in 1987."

"Early on Wednesday, the gang spent more than an hour loading a 
large white lorry with cash -- a mixture of new and old bank notes 
-- before escaping."

To read the complete story, see: 


Last week Leon Majors asked: "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?

Dave Lange writes: "There is a complete, bound set of the CCJ 
in my office. All but three of the volumes match the other 
bound publications in our library and were bound at the same 
time as these. I believe the three odd ones to be original 
bindings done for Raymond. Volumes 6, 7 and 10 appear as follows: 
Medium-dark blue cloth, the title stamped on the cover in gold 
in three lines of skeletal, all caps, Roman letters, THE/COIN 
COLLECTOR'S/JOURNAL. The title is repeated on the spine in solid, 
sans-serif gold, with the volume number at the top of the spine 
in Roman numerals and the cover dates at the bottom in Arabic 

If this format matches bound volumes in other libraries, then 
it is very likely that all such bindings are original."

[My set came from the Donald Miller library, and is bound in a 
light library blue cloth with two or more volumes per binding.  
These have Miller's name in gilt on the cover.  I believe Miller 
himself had these bound sometime in the 1960s.   Does anyone 
else have bindings similar to those described by Dave Lange?  
Any volumes 11 or 13?  -Editor]


On January 8th Bob Fritsch asked a question about the "Collection 
des Hommes Illustres."  Hedley Betts responded with information 
about a book by Jean-Pierre Collignon which "has a comprehensive 
list of one of the series he is interested in."

Bob Fritsch writes: "My thanks to Mr. Betts for his answer.  A 
quick search at found the book in Germany and I am 
making contact with the bookseller to negotiate the sale.  What a 
wonderful forum this is!"

[It is always gratifying to be able to help researchers find the 
material they seek.  Many thanks to Hedley Betts and all our 
readers for their kind assistance.  -Editor]


Arthur Shippee forwarded an article referenced in The Explorator 
newsletter about the discovery of an early French coin in the 
ruins of a medieval ship:

"The discovery of the 15th Century coin is being interpreted 
as a sign that the ship came originally from France. 

Experts believe the coin was new and was intended to be a good 
luck charm. 

Project leader Kate Hunter said a colleague was shaking when 
she found the coin. She said: "We all understood immediately 
how important it was." 

The Newport ship is the most complete surviving 15th Century 
vessel discovered in recent years. It was found on the banks 
of the river during the construction of The Riverfront arts centre. 

The coin, wrapped in tarred caulking, was discovered in one of 
the wooden timbers being studied by the city council's ship 
recording team." 

"It was in a hole cut above the ship's keel at the point where 
it connects to the stem-post, the timber which forms the bow." 

"She said: "We think it's been put in as a good luck charm. There's 
a long tradition in ships of putting coins under the mast or in the 
keel as a good luck charm." 

The coin has been identified by expert Edward Besly from the 
National Museum of Wales as a petit blanc of the Dauphin Louis 
de France, who became Louis X1 in 1461. 

Minted in the town of Crémieu between 1440 to 1456, the coin 
comes from Dauphiné, an area of south-eastern France traditionally 
held by the Dauphin, the eldest son of the king of France." 

To read the complete article, see: 


Dick Johnson writes: "Katie Jaeger’s experience related in 
last week’s E-Sylum at New-York Historical Society finding 
a box of dies in their archives, and handling these, reminds 
me of similar experiences with dies in museums. I have handled 
dies since 1966 when I was hired by Medallic Art Co. These 
ranged from 1/2-inch emblem dies to massive 8-inch monster 
open face dies capable of striking 6-inch medals. 

Medallic Art Company had the policy of never discarding a 
useable die, nor giving it to the customer (it remained in 
the company’s die vault in case it was later reused, which 
frequently occurred for award medals). The earliest MAco die 
I found dated back to 1909. A numbering system I devised for 
the archive medals was also applied to the dies, all were 
renumbered with this same archive number (it was punched or 
painted or both on the die). Thus I had my hands on many dies 
for the decade I worked for the firm.

In my retirement I researched the tokens and medals issued 
by Scovill Manufacturing of Waterbury. I arrived 14 years 
too late, however. I learned the dies had all been dispersed. 
Scovill had ceased operation in 1960, ownership passed to 
Waterbury Companies; the Scovill dies were transferred in 
1961. Some machinery was donated to the Mattatuck Museum in 
Waterbury, all paper records were donated to the Baker Business 
Library, Harvard University, Boston. Neither wanted such a 
large quantity of dies however.

A museum consultant was called in, Bruce S. Bazelon, registrar 
at Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg. 
Among the 15,000 dies, he determined 2,044 dies had historical 
significance. By November 1982 he had donated these historical 
dies to 18 museums, all selected by geography or topical interest. 
Albany Institute got all New York state dies, for example. A 
Pennsylvania railroad museum got all the railroad related dies. 
The chore for me, then, was to visit these museums to examine 
these dies.

Most Scovill dies were button dies, of course, since Scovill 
was noted for button manufacturing for over 150 years. I learned 
a great deal from handling these dies. I learned, for example, 
19th century die blanks were made by "die forgers." Before there 
was a specialty iron and steel industry in America, die blanks 
were made by brawny men who treated the iron much like blacksmiths, 
or more precisely, like sword makers, folding it over and over, 
annealing it, hammering it, heat treating it, to harden the iron 
(to prevent or retard "sinking" during prolonged striking).

Scovill required the die forgers to sign the die blanks (since 
they ordered these from die forgers all over New England, I’m 
certain they wanted to know whose die blanks worked best, whose 
dies didn’t sink). "O.J. Brown" made more of these die blanks 
for Scovill than anyone else. He signed these on the side with 
a large lettered punch.

At every museum – and this is the funny part – the curators made 
me wear those damn white gloves. After handling thousands of dies 
before (some greasy, some rusty, most dirty), I now had to treat 
them like jewels! I got the curators to compromise however; I only 
wore a white glove on my left hand to handle the dies, leaving my 
right hand free to record my notes.

Every numismatist, every collector – it is my earnest recommendation! 
– should own a matched pair of dies. Only then will every person 
understand die technology, how they create our beloved coins, medals 
and tokens."

Dick Johnson writes: "I must thank Ron Abler for his response 
to my proposed new terminology for medal conditions. In this 
instance, Ron, I was sincere. I would most certainly like to 
see a different standard of condition terms for medals, 
eschewing those used for coins. (The article was not tongue-in-cheek, 
but does point out for serious writers not to do too many humorous 
pieces. Would you ever take as serious anything written by Donn 
Pearlman, official court jester at the Numismatist?)
Indeed, I had considered "mint state" for the highest degree 
of medal condition. Then it dawned on me -- yes, some medals 
are struck at mints, but many are not -- they are struck at 
medal plants. 
(The greatest arguments the officers at Medallic Art Co had 
was with our advertising agency. They insisted we call outselves 
a "mint."  We were just as insistant we were NOT a mint -- a mint 
strikes coins -- we manufactured medals. Call us a medal maker; 
a plant, a shop or even an "atelier" (French term for art studio) 
but we did not want to be known as a mint.  The reason for this 
was profit. How much profit could you make striking low value 
coins? The Franklin Mint quickly learned this by only selling 
low value coins in sets or in proof condition where a profit 
could be obtained on such low value coins. National mints can 
make a tiny profit because they do not pay taxes, private 
industry does.)
Ron, I had expected the condition adjectives to be added to the 
four terms I suggested -- pristine, mellow, haggard, eroded -- 
but not quite so quickly. Your willingness to pay more for 
"high mellow" over "low mellow" surprised me.
I did foresee catalogers using the statement for a U.S. Mint 
medal with a light 20th century finish struck in yellow bronze 
in a mellow condition, calling it  ... "mellow yellow."  
(Congratulations Donn Pearlman, my humor does not rise to 
your level, your title remains intact!)"


Chick Ambrass writes: "While doing some Internet research on 
the Alaska Rural Rehabilitation Corporation (ARRC) tokens, 
up popped an issue of The E-Sylum, where the tokens are 

According to the Red Book, these tokens were "issued" by 
the U.S. government, but it does NOT state that these were 
struck by the U.S. mint. Has that question ever come up before?  
If they were not struck by the U.S. Mint, then by whom?"

[The question hadn't come up before, so I passed Chick's query 
on to E-Sylum reader Dick Hanscom of Alaska Rare Coins.  He 
writes: "My information (from Lew Egnew) is that they were 
struck by the Puget Sound Stamp Works in Seattle."

The Red Book has some erroneous information. It states that 
all but the 1¢ denomination is the same size as the corresponding 
U.S. coin.  This is not correct. The $5 and $10 are larger than 
their gold counterparts."

As an example of how articles in the E-Sylum archive can be 
accessed, here are a group of links to several earlier articles 
related to the Alaskan tokens (also known as "Bingles"):









Chick Ambrass also asks: "Were the ARCC tokens the only tokens 
issued by the U.S. government?  Hard Times and Civil War tokens 
were done privately, as were the various Hawaiian tokens listed 
in the Red Book.  

Another candidate could be the Palo Seco leper hospital in Panama.  
It was financed and run by the U.S. and was adjacent to the official 
canal zone, although it was not located IN the zone."

[This is another interesting question (and the sort of thing that 
keeps The E-Sylum fun).  There are probably a lot of military 
tokens that might fit the bill, issued by the armed forces for use 
in the PX and officers' canteens.  But could these also be considered
private issues, like the Civil War Sutler tokens, issued by private
merchants who had a contract with the government?  For that matter, 
the Alaska Rural Rehabilitation Corporation, although backed by the 
U.S., was also a separate entity.  So is it right to say the ARCC 
tokens were "issued" by the U.S.?  Collectors of U.S. colonial issues 
might argue that the Fugio Cent was a token issue, authorized by the
government but produced privately.  What do our readers think?  Were 
there any official token issues of the U.S. government?  -Editor]


P.T. Barnum was right - there's a sucker born every minute (and 
the world will never run out of supply).  The Taipei Times reports 
this week that

"Eight people in southern Japan forked over ¥150 million (US$1.27 
million) to a man who promised huge returns involving fake US$1 
million bills and then disappeared with their money, a news report 
said yesterday.  The US Treasury does not make US$1 million bills."

"The unidentified investors first heard of the US$1 million note 
from a 52-year-old construction material company president in early 
2003, according to Asahi, citing several investors.

The president told them about a ``rare'' US$1 million bill that 
was for sale in Chengdu, China, and invited them to pool money to 
buy several such notes promising a return 10 times of their 
investment, the report said.

The investors were told that the US government printed the bills 
in 1928 to allow Americans in China to bring their assets back 
home, Asahi said.

The president showed them a thousand of the US$1 million notes 
featuring a portrait of George Washington at a Tokyo hotel, 
according to Asahi.

The investors were told the notes could be exchanged for smaller
denominations in Hong Kong, but no exchange ever took place, it 

"The largest US denomination ever produced was US$100,000 
between 1934 and 1935, according to the Treasury."

To read the full article, see: 


Harold Eiserloh writes: "The organization Grassfire claims AOL 
and YAHOO are now setting up to charge bulk e-mailers a fee, 
saying it is SPAM control. You might check with AOL about this. 
Since AOL and YAHOO have about 50% of e-mail addresses it 
appears to be coercion, pay or your mail doesn't get delivered. 
Check it out."

[I had heard of this, but we have no intention of paying to 
deliver a free newsletter.  AOL users will have to deal with AOL. 
SPAM control is for email from addresses unknown to the user.  
If The E-Sylum is in the user's address book, getting the email 
should be routine. The "From" address is "esylum-bounces at"
and the Reply-To address is mine "whomren at" 
Any reader who has anti-spam software installed on their machine 
or via their ISP should take a moment to ensure that these address 
are identified as legitimate non-spam addresses. -Editor]


Related to our previous discussion of the medals of the 2006 
Winter Olympic games, Gar Travis forwarded these links to two 
web sites with images of medals of games past.  He writes:

"Olympic medals & other stuff web site (cool site) 
Olympic medals site - with Participation feature area 
(though none for Winter 2006 yet): "


I missed getting this into the last issue, but better late than 
never.  The Associated Press published an article February 15th 
featuring various criticisms and comments on the 2006 Winter 
Olympic medal design:

"Some folks think it looks like a doughnut. Others see a bagel. 
Or a giant Life Saver, or a compact disc. An Austrian Olympian 
used it as an eye patch. Whatever the view, it really is an 
Olympic medal."

"Designer Dario Quatrini says the hole represents the open space 
of an Italian piazza, or city square. Except the medal isn't 
square at all — it's round. And when worn, Quatrini has explained, 
it has yet another meaning:

"Circling and revealing the area near the heart and focusing 
attention on the athlete's vital energy and human emotions," 
says the Turin Olympic Committee.

On Wednesday, after winning the women's downhill in San Sicario, 
Michaela Dorfmeister of Austria smiled broadly and held her gold 
medal to her cheek, then squinted through the opening as if it 
were a peephole."

"That hole in the middle gives a sense of emptiness," she said. 
"The old medals gave a more concrete feeling; they gave you the 
sense of the accomplishment behind them."

Marco Leoni didn't get it, either. A steelworker who journeyed 
from Varese, north of Milan, to follow ice hockey, Leoni said 
he wasn't so sure there was a connection between the holes and 

"They're supposed to be a square? They look more like doughnuts 
or rings to me."

Nonetheless, he wasn't put off. "I like them," he said. "They're 

Which is what every host city is dreams of while deciding what 
the ultimate award of sports excellence should look like. The 
Winter Games, unlike the     Summer Olympics, allows organizers 
great freedom in designing the shape and size and content of 
medals. That, as well as creating the competitions' logos and 
slogans, are all done at the local level.

At the 1994 Lillehammer Games in Norway, for instance, the medals 
contained sparagmite, a stone extracted from the ski jump site. 
At Nagano in 1998, Japanese organizers used lacquer. In 2002, at 
Salt Lake City, the medals weren't round at all, but rather had 
uneven edges that were supposed to look like river rocks found 
in Utah streams and rivers.

Some critics said they resembled cow pies."

"But in the end, to the athletes who win one, the issue has 
nothing to do with size, shape or doughnuts. 

Jennifer Heil of Canada won a gold medal in women's moguls on 
the opening day of competition. She said she likes hers just fine. 

"I just wanted it to be heavy, because I knew there was, like, 
a big hole in it, and I wasn't disappointed. 

"I think it's really cool."

To read the complete article, see: 


Regarding Katie Jaeger's February 2006 Numismatist article, 
Alan V. Weinberg writes: "I avidly collect American Institute 
and other pre-1900 American award medals and enjoyed her article. 
One error stood out, though: the presentation cases holding many 
medals were not "celluloid" as described in the article - they 
were vulcanite, hard rubber, thermoplastic as these ornate 
"tintype" cases are formally known. All three terms are 
interchangeably used.  Another equivalent term is "gutta percha" 
(sounds Hindu, huh?). So that's four long-used terms for the 
same fabric."

At Alan's request I forwarded his note to Katie, who replied: 
"I was going crazy trying to determine the material from which 
those boxes were made!  Whoever curated the collection at the 
NYHS called it celluloid, and I finally went with that description, 
even though it seemed doubtful, after reading a couple of websites 
on the history of plastics to see if I could figure out positively 
what the material was. In hand, it feels exactly like good quality 
plastic - smooth, hard, quite dense, and having a high sheen. 

I read that celluloid was first used to make billiard balls, and 
that is exactly how it feels, so I said to myself, well, OK.  But 
the colors, dark red and black, are typical of vulcanite, so 
obviously Alan is right.  Thanks for the correction!  Q. David 
Bowers and I will have a brief discussion of presentation cases 
in the introduction to our book "The 100 Greatest U.S. Medals and 
Tokens", and I plan to illustrate two of these.  

I have many questions on how the molds for these were made: they 
sure do look die-struck, and I guess they were, if they are in 
fact thermoplastic - wasn't that struck in presses while heat was 
applied?  I have seen other cases that look to have been stamped 
from molds, but seem to be made of painted cardboard, with a 
somewhat leathery feel.  

[Alan writes: "The cardboard, leathery feel is fiber...primarily 
a product starting in the early 20th century. As with thermoplastic, 
the dies are applied with heat and pressure." -Editor]

I detected another error in my article.  The copy editor rewrote 
some of my timeline entries to make them fit in the box, and 
introduced the term "uniface" to my description of the 55 mm 
unsigned medals of 1870. I didn't catch this in the page proofs,
unfortunately.   There are no uniface American Institute medals 
that I know of!!!!  I think she assumed medals were uniface because 
only a new obverse die was created, but in fact, existing reverses 
were being used with it.

There is another unclear element to what was published - the fact 
that Alonzo and Thaddeus Wakeman returned to their Institute posts 
soon after the scandal clouds dissipated. When Thaddeus died in 1848, 
the Institute showed him full honors.   In fact, the only American 
Institute staffer who did not remain in his position after the scandal 
was Charles C. Wright, who was the source of the testimony against 
Dodge and the others.  Probably when the bad publicity hit, the 
Wakemans and the other two resigned in a huff, and the Wakemans 
were later entreated to return (because they did all the work).  
I'd speculate that when Wright learned that these people were 
retained, he quit.  Just a theory!"
[Since we've recently discussed what makes material appropriate 
for The E-Sylum, I thought I'd add that I feel this sort of exchange 
is absolutely appropriate, and I’m very happy to publish it.  There 
is only so much space in a printed publication, but there are no 
such limits here in cyberspace. 

It’s the perfect place for annotations, background, commentary and
corrections to printed articles -- I wish we could do more of this.
I rarely have the time to write up many of my own comments and
questions, but those from readers are always welcome.  The on-line
availability of researchers like Katie (and eager fact-checkers like 
Alan and the rest of our subscribers) adds a whole new dimension to 
our collective numismatic knowledge.  -Editor]


Regarding last week's item about the "people-friendliness" of 
current U.S. coin designs (which spell out the denomination 
rather than using numerals), Howard Spindel writes: "The same 
Kim Salil Gokhale identified in the newspaper article "has 
applied to the University of Florida's Department of Clinical 
and Health Psychology to study for a doctorate in 

Is it really asking a lot for a potential doctorate student 
to understand enough English to read a few coins?

Our bills are clearly marked.  The potential loss of money for 
someone who refuses to learn our coinage prior to using it is 
very small - under a dollar.  Furthermore, none of us read our 
coins each time.  We identify them by size and color.  Even 
illiterate people can use coins after a one-time explanation."

[Howard's point is well taken and perhaps proven by the fact 
that the topic hadn't come up long before now.  Yet it is a 
valid observation and something to consider for future coin 
designs.  Earlier articles have referenced defacto international 
standards for expressing denominations on banknotes; is there 
any such emerging standard for coinage?  And what about the 
related topic of the physical size of coins?

U.S. coinage is hidebound by tradition and the political clout 
of the vending machine industry.  Have you ever tried to explain 
to a child why the smallest coin (the dime) is worth ten times 
as much as the smallest denomination (the cent)?   While sorting 
through a jug of coins with my seven year old son last weekend, 
we came across a silver 1957 dime.  I was seven years old myself 
when silver last circulated freely, and remember my grandmother 
showing me a new clad coin and explaining that coins would no 
longer be minted in silver.  With coinage made of base metals, 
intrinsic value is no longer a determinant of size, but here we 
are over 40 years later still producing coins of the same relative 
size (and in the case of the cent and dime, the same design as well).

I have little hope or expectation that anything but the designs 
will change any time soon, but I wonder if my son will have the 
same trouble explaining relative coin sizes to his own children 
(if coins even exist outside of museums and collections by then...)


Larry Korchnak writes: "I read the piece about books on CD's 
with great interest.  Perhaps resistance to their use by college 
students is generational as well as functional.  
My school district has used CD texts with great success in our 
elementary schools through High School. While high school 
students accept electronic texts without a fuss, our youngest 
students do the best with them.   Parents love them, too, 
because students do not have to carry heavy texts home for 
multiple subjects.  Furthermore, CD texts are usually accompanied 
by website support that links students to a myriad of other 
educational sources in addition to the text.  And, it saved 
tens of thousands of dollars for other needed instructional 
I am not sure that hard copy texts will be totally replaced, 
but there is certainly a place for electronic ones."

[Anyone born after 1976 seems like a young whippersnapper to 
me, so I wouldn't have thought of today's college students as 
being resistant to technological change.  But all changes take 
time to become fully accepted, and as Larry points out, acceptance 
is easier the younger one is when introduced.  As Internet-savvy 
as I like to think I am, although I have several CD versions of 
numismatic books and catalogs I don't actively seek them out.  
But change is coming as sure as night follows day.  The most 
recent example of this may be Wendell Wolka's massive book, "A 
History of Nineteenth Century Ohio Obsolete Bank Notes and Scrip," 
for which Wendell has just published an addendum on CD.  See the 
following E-Sylum item for details.  -Editor]

Wendell writes: "Some thoughts first on "Why a CD?" might be in 
order.  With a book the size of the Ohio catalog, reprinting a 
new edition would be financially impossible.  Thus the only real 
options, it seemed, were to provide a print update in black and 
white or an "electronic" update. I went with the CD approach 
  * I could provide full color illustrations (that can even 
    be magnified up to at least 400%) at no extra cost. 
  * Using PDF format makes the information completely searchable. 
  * The cost of a CD is significantly less than having a printed 
     version done 
  * Users can print out pages that are of particular interest 
     to them (or the whole thing for that matter).  
  * Producing future updates will be easier and faster to do.
  * Any serious errors or mishaps can be corrected "on the fly"

As to the future, yes, the Ohio book will fit on a single CD...
if there's ever a second edition I believe it too will be on CD."


[The following is taken from the Wendell's press release. 
His email address is PURDUENUT at  -Editor]

Wendell Wolka, author of the 2004 obsolete paper money catalog, 
A History of Nineteenth Century Ohio Obsolete Bank Notes and Scrip, 
advises that the 2005-06 Update is now available for sale.   

The update breaks new ground on several fronts. It is available 
as a CD (compact disc), with over 110 pages of information, 117 
new or revised listings, and 118 high resolution color illustrations. 
A number of pages of information which simply wouldn’t fit in the 
original book such as printing totals, National Bank connections, 
and the like are also included.

Using the concept of an “e book” allows a more usable and low cost
alternative to a traditional hard copy update.  Of course, users 
desiring a hard copy of specific pages can still print them out.

Wendell began work on this update literally before the original 
catalog was off the press.  He is often amazed that, even with 
nearly 7,000 listings in the original book, new issuers, denominations, 
and even an occasional new town pop up with great regularity.  He 
estimates that he still finds one or two new notes every month and 
expects that trend to continue for some time.  

The 2005-06 Update CD may be ordered by sending a check, made 
payable to Wendell Wolka, for $13.95 to Wendell Wolka, PO Box 
1211, Greenwood, IN 46142. The price includes shipping and handling.  
If you somehow missed the original book, it is still available 
directly from the author for $60.00 postpaid, with orders accepted 
at the same address shown for ordering the Update CD.

Please also contact Wendell to report new discoveries, for dealer 
pricing on the CD, as well as for details on an option that is 
available if you do not have computer access.


Michael E. Marotta writes: "Electronic books" need time to 
mature and develop.  The ILIAD and ODYSSEY were memorized and 
recited.  There is an upper limit to how effective that can be.  
Yet, as powerful as writing is, memory remains important.  
I am working on a degree in criminal justice and I have a 
class in college algebra which is calculator-based.  We use 
the same TI-83 (or 89) boxes at Washtenaw Community College 
in Ann Arbor that my daughter uses in her classes at Miami-Dade.  
I did not buy a calculator.  Unlike these kids, I had 5 1/2 
years of high school algebra in four years of high school.  
The instructor recommended that I get a $10 button box just 
in case I have not memorized all the square roots between 1 
and 100.  We just finished a section on linear regression 
(fitting a line to a set of points) and the kids only know 
how to press buttons: they do not know the formula or where 
it comes from.  I looked it up, learned it and understood it 
well enough to explain it to the instructor after class.  On 
the test, I only got partial credit for that problem because 
I could not do the arithmetic fast enough by hand, and had to 
let the problem go before time ran out.  So, there are always 
Last semester, I took a class in symbolic logic for a philosophy
requirement.  It was all electronic, online, including the tests.  
This semester, our math book had some wrong answers in the back 
and that cause a bit of anxiety -- but we got it straightened out.  
The symbolic logic e-book also had a few bugs and glitches, but 
being software, they were manifested as failures in the operation 
of the program.  Those failures had consequences in the grading 
-- which was also electronic.
This term, I am taking a class in criminal investigations and 
our textbook comes with a CD-ROM of supplemental materials.  
The CD also has the same short-comings as the e-book in symbolic 
logic: a "typo" causes an operations failure.  Imagine a book 
that does not let you read page 32 until you have read page 31 
-- or paragraph 2 on page 394.
If print were to be as expressive as the spoken word, the result 
would be a typographic nightmare, IMHO (:-), with dozens of fonts 
and styles in play to mimic our gestures and gesticulations.  No 
combination of (;-) (:-) (;-) waggles an eyebrow as well as I 
do in person.  *Print* _does_ have ^many^ "advantages" over the 
SPOKEN word, =BUT= <immediacy> is not one of them (!).  So, too, 
does electronic communication offer more power in some modes and 
less in others.  
On February 12, at the Lansing Coin Club show, numismatist Paul 
Manderscheid (oftentimes president of the Michigan Token and 
Medal Society) told me that there are some books he would never 
dream of making a mark in, such as the BREEN ENCYCLOPEDIA.  I 
replied that I had felt that way until I saw the polite penciling 
in the Coin World Library copy and I made the same notes in my 
own.  Paul then said that his copy of MICHIGAN TRADE TOKENS by 
Paul Cunningham is highlighted and underlined many ways to show 
quickly the topics across locales.  Manderscheid said that when 
Cunningham saw his work marked up he quipped that if he had 
intended a coloring book, he would have included crayons."


The Friday February 24 issue of The Wall Street Journal 
included a short article about the rise in numismatic gold 
prices, mentioning recent sales of the Brasher Doubloon and 
the 1927-D double eagle:

"Rising global gold prices are giving a Midas-like boost 
to collectible gold coins."

"If it's a gold coin, we can't keep it on the shelf," says 
Greg Roberts, president of the North American coin division 
of Escala."

"Tory Prestera, an eye surgeon from San Diego, started 
collecting coins two years ago and says gold's high price has 
encouraged him to add more gold coins to his collection. One 
recent purchase: An 1898 gold piece that cost about $135,000. 
He stores the real thing with the rest of his collection in a 
bank-deposit box, but keeps a photo of his favorite as his 
computer screensaver. "My wife isn't too impressed," he says. 
"But to me it's like looking at treasure."

To read the full article (subscription required):  


Last week I asked, "Who can tell us about "the mysterious Dr. 
Ken L. Rosenbaum" and his connection to numismatic literature?"   
The first to guess correctly was NBS Asylum Editor-in-Chief David 
Fanning, who writes: "Did Armand Champa use that name to bid in 
Durst sales?" He adds: "The frightening thing is that this bit 
of information is taking up valuable brain cells, which ain't 
exactly increasing in number!"

George Kolbe discusses Armand's correspondence dealing with 
Sanford Durst in his description of lot 583 in his 99th sale of 
numismatic literature.

Dave Lange writes: "I was just reading Kolbe's new catalog this 
weekend and came across the interesting Rosenbaum entry. It seems 
that was Armand Champa's alias in correspondence with a numismatic
literature dealer who had caused him some consternation. He 
evidently believed that no progress could be made in resolving 
the dispute without bringing in this fictional third party.

Without resorting to libel, I will add that my own experiences 
with that dealer and those of everyone with whom I've spoken about 
him were about the same as Armand's."


Larry Gaye writes: "Regarding the Robbie Brown Conders, so far 
there is no news about it in the circles I travel in the Conder 
community.  I'm sure Robbie was very specific about the dispersal 
and only the future will tell us the story.  That's about all 
I have on this."


The Kauai News reported this week on plans to design Hawaii's 
quarter, the last in the series.

"The Hawai'i commemorative quarter, it is hoped, will capture 
much aloha in very little space.

Hawai'i is finally getting its chance to design a quarter coin 
in the "Fifty States Commemorative Coin Program," and Kaua'i is 
being asked by Gov. Linda Lingle to lend a hand in the design. 

As the last state to ratify the Constitution and join the union 
in August 1959, Hawai'i has the last opportunity to design the 
coin that will bring a bit of paradise to everyone's pocket 

"Many agree the most iconic image of Hawai'i is Diamond Head. 
"But Diamond Head represents only O'ahu or Honolulu," said Julie 
De-Mond, a Kilauea resident who has been collecting coins for 
20 years.

"I think there needs to be an icon of the destination and then 
something cultural added, like a hula dancer, or a lei," said 

DeMond said she would like to see a hibiscus flower, or a canoe, 
maybe set against Diamond Head. "Perhaps a rainbow, but then 
there is no color (on the coin)," she said."

To read the complete article, see:  


Hal Dunn writes: "Alan Weinberg furnished some good tips for 
traveling to and from coin shows.  Unfortunately, I must agree 
with him that given the success of these lowlifes, they will 
continue to be back in droves and many acting more dangerously.  
Some of these people are probably high on meth, or other drugs, 
trying to gain more funds to support their habit, and because 
of this they are violent, unpredictable and extremely dangerous.  

To Alan’s third tip, I would like to add two things.  First, 
if you suspect you are being followed, simply drive around a 
city block (but not in a place where you can be boxed in).  
If you are still being tailed, you have just identified a 
problem.  Second, if you can’t find a police or sheriff’s 
station, your next best destination is a fire station.  Once 
in front of the station sound your horn (that means lay on 
it!!!)  (if necessary drive right up to the equipment door)."

[Alan also suggested carrying a handgun for self-defense when 
traveling to and from numismatic events, but also wrote: "It is 
a misdemeanor to be caught carrying a loaded gun in your vehicle 
in many states...".   Not surprisingly, this topic generated a 
number of additional comments. -Editor]

David Ganz writes: "Not in New York, where carrying a weapon 
without a New York license is a felony. Careful!"

Joe Boling writes: "Carrying a handgun through several states, 
particularly on the east coast, is a good way to get slapped 
with a felony conviction and permanent loss of your right to be 
armed. That's why we need the bill currently in Congress (H.R. 
4547 - national right-to-carry reciprocity) that will mandate 
reciprocity among states for concealed carry licenses. If you 
have a license in your home state, other jurisdictions would 
have to honor it (just like your driver's license). Contact your 
legislators and demand that they support this badly-needed 

[Well, state's rights advocates would likely argue against 
such a change, but it would make life easier for coin dealers 
and others who may wish to travel with a weapon.  This has been 
an interesting and useful topic, but we've strayed a long way 
from numismatics.  Let's not continue down this path next week,
but here are some additional thoughts on the topic from Hal Dunn,
a former Chief of Police. -Editor]

Hal adds: "I would make this suggestion.  If you are going to 
carry a handgun get a concealed firearm permit, sometimes called 
a carry concealed weapon (CCW) permit.  The laws of all states 
are too numerous to mention here.  However, states can be grouped 
as those that getting a permit is very difficult (read next to 
impossible), somewhat difficult, and relatively easy.  The 
relatively easy states are those that have adopted “shall issue” 
statutes (at last count just over 30 states).  Essentially that 
means that a person never convicted of a felony, or misdemeanor 
domestic violence, not addicted to drugs or adjudged a mental 
incompetent, who has filed the appropriate application after 
taking classroom instruction and qualifying on the range with 
the handgun to be carried, must be issued a permit.  There is 
no necessity to show a need for the permit, as is generally 
required in the “difficult” jurisdictions.  This eliminates the 
discretion of a law enforcement administrator that does not 
believe in honest citizens having or carrying handguns.  

Out-of-state residence permits are available in several states 
– I believe in Florida, Idaho, Nevada and Utah, plus perhaps 
others.  How does this work?  For example if a North Dakota 
resident applies for an out-of-state Florida permit, assuming 
that person has fulfilled all other requirements, the permit 
will be issued.  Under a variety of agreements (or recognition) 
the Florida permit will be recognized in Nevada and several 
other states.  And, in Vermont there is no prohibition against 
carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.

And here is where I respectfully disagree with Alan.  I was a 
law enforcement officer for over 29 years, over half as an 
administrator – first as the undersheriff and later sheriff of 
a county, and as chief of police in two different cities in 
different states.  If Alan is referencing “the old hands” in 
law enforcement he is probably absolutely correct; I certainly 
gave “a wink and a nod” on numerous occasions many years ago.   
My fear with his advice on the discretion of a street officer 
is that this guy or gal might be just starting out in the 
profession and sees everything “according to the book,” it is 
“black or white,” no exceptions.  And then there is the deputy 
DA, about a year into practicing law, who is going to make this 
case the showpiece of his/her career.

If as Alan and I are lucky enough to be qualified for the Law 
Enforcement Safety Act of 2004 Card (the so-called HR 218 card), 
any honorably retired law enforcement officer can get an 
identification card good throughout the entire country.  This 
card trumps all city, county and state firearms regulations."


The story of paper-money issuing eccentric Joshua Norton of 
San Francisco has inspired two playwrights to collaborate on 
a new musical, the Brampton Guardian of Ontario, Canada reports.

"When you first meet Brampton playwrights Todd McGinnis and 
T. Gregory Argall, it is impossible not to laugh." 

"Neither Argall nor McGinnis has a substantial music background 
and there aren't any musicals on either playwright's lengthy list 
of stage works."

"The idea for the musical took root when Argall came across an 
American historical figure named Joshua Norton (c.1818-1880), 
who lived in San Francisco in the second half of the 19th century. 

"He declared himself to be the first emperor of the United States 
and protector of Mexico and people were buying into it," Argall 
explained. "People greeted him saying, 'Your highness' and bowed 
down to him. The local police would even salute." 

Argall immediately sent an e-mail to his partner in crime, 
suggesting that this is the stuff that musicals are made of. 

"I agreed right away that it was perfect for a musical," 
McGinnis recalled. "So I wrote back a page and a half with 
all the ideas I had for it." 

"Using the emotional variety in Man of La Mancha and the diverse 
song styles in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as 
inspiration, the pair hopes to create a solid work, with a few 
laughs, of course. 

"This is going to be a very funny musical," McGinnis confirmed. 
"It is going to have its dramatic moments, but we hope the 
audience will laugh their heads off." 

"The playwrights don't have a deadline for their musical, but 
39-year-old Argall joked that he would like to see it performed 
before he dies."

To read the complete story, see: 


A February 23 article in the Toledo Blade details results of 
a just-released audit of dealer Tom Noe's transactions related 
to the Ohio coin fund scandal.

"Mr. Noe and an associate owe the state more than $13.5 million, 
the audit found.

“He was basically bankrupt when he got the first $25 million,” 
Auditor Betty Montgomery said yesterday.

The audit, which helped prosecutors build a 53 felony-count 
case against Mr. Noe in Lucas County, also attacked the bureau 
itself, saying it held Mr. Noe to a lower standard than other 
firms and failed to review and monitor the rare-coin funds and 
other investments."

"Most of the money is unaccounted for. But auditors from Crowe 
Chizek and Company believe that hundreds of thousands of dollars 
was used by Mr. Noe to pay home contractors, appliance dealers, 
and to pay for a hospitality tent at the 2003 U.S. Senior Open 
golf championship at Inverness."

"Count Mr. Gideon among those wondering where, if not how, Mr. 
Noe got the money.

“We had no clue,” Mr. Gideon said. “We just thought he was Mr. 

To read the complete article, see:


Regarding George Kolbe's question about the pronunciation 
of numismatic names, Gar Travis writes that the "Z" in 
numismatic author Bill Fivaz' name is silent.  He writes: 
"Fivaz = Fee-Vah".

Baseball fans will welcome a new book, recently published, 
"Baseball Uncyclopedia" (by Michael Kun and Howard Bloom).  
It depicts the best of the worst in baseball -- worst team 
name, worst uniform, worst player nickname. Lots of useless, 
but often humorous, information that would be intentionally 
deleted from the giant legitimate Baseball Encyclopedia 
(published by Macmillian). Now that's a book! It has over 
2400 pages and must weigh six pounds. The Uncyclopedia is a 
series of short vignettes that challenges some of the myths 
of the game and offers an occasional chuckle.  I doubt it 
weighs a pound.
Well if baseball can have a uncyclopedia, so can numismatics.  
Is there a numismatic myth you would like to bust? Write it up. 
Got a funny numismatic story? Send it in. Got an irrelevant or 
irrational numismatic article. Don't hold back. Can you speak 
satire about coins or other numismatic items. Record it for 
print. Do you get all the laughs at the coin club? You should 
be ashamed of yourself -- but that's exactly what we want to 
put between covers (book not bed!).

Uncyclopedias are a new trend. The term was coined by Wikipedia 
and is sponsored by the Uncyclopedia Foundation. If you would 
like to learn more about this blunted-edge trend click on: 


This week's featured web site is on the French and English 
Royal and Medieval Coins of Venice, recommended by Roger 
deWardt Lane. 

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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