The E-Sylum v9#03, January 15, 2006

esylum at esylum at
Sun Jan 15 18:46:41 PST 2006

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 9, Number 03, January 15, 2006:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Amber N. Thompson of the 
American Numismatic Association library (courtesy of Jane 
Colvard), Scott DeGuilo, Harry Rescigno and Mark Rush.   
But wait - there's more!  From the Montgomery County Coin 
Club (meeting in Silver Spring, MD) are Bob Eisemann, David
Aaron, Wayne Mitchell, Jerold Roschwalb, Wayne Wilcox, 
Stanley Olesh, Steve Lokey, Jack Schadegg, Scott Barman, 
Andrew Luck, Donald McKee, Ken Huff, Pat Hollaway.  Welcome 
aboard!  We now have 851 subscribers.

I had the pleasure of attending the Montgomery County Coin 
Club meeting on Tuesday, where I passed around a signup 
sheet for The E-Sylum.  I came at the invitation of Roger 
Burdette, who gave a wonderful presentation based on his 
research for his books on the Renaissance of American Coinage.  
His talk focused on the creation of the Standing Liberty 
Quarter and Peace Dollar.

Referring to last week's technical tribulations with my 
hotel's wireless network, David Palmer writes: "I want to 
thank you for taking the time and trouble you did to get 
this issue out to us! Sitting in the car? You will do 
whatever you need to, won't you?"

Well, I was able to transfer to another room with a 
decent wireless connection, so we're back in business.  
In this issue I get caught up with a couple topics that 
had to slip from the last issue, including Kevin Flynn's 
new book on the 1894-S Dime, and Karl Moulton's new price 

The U.S. Mint has been busy - the new 2006 Nickels and 
Nevada Quarters are on the way.  Also back in the news are 
some subjects we've touched on before: the Jacob Perkins mint 
building in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and the nearby trial 
of the roofers who discovered a hoard of old U.S. currency. 
And if you ever wondered about whether you could ever get a 
coin back out of a Lucite toilet seat (and even if you haven't) 
... stay tuned.   

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Fred Lake writes: "The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS) 
held a meeting at the annual Florida United Numismatists (FUN)  
show in Orlando, Florida on Saturday, January 7, 2006. There 
were 23 people who entered their names on the sign-up sheet 
and there were several more who we missed. NBS President Pete 
Smith welcomed all and talked about the advantages in becoming 
a member of NBS. Fred Lake then introduced the featured 
speaker, David Crenshaw. David is Director of Numismatic 
Research for Whitman Products and the title of his presentation 
was "What is black and white and read all over?" This was an 
outstanding review of the history of the "Guide Book of United 
States Coins (the Redbook)" and the colorful slides gave a 
clear picture of the various stages of its development. The 
editor of the "Redbook", Ken Bressett spent quite some time 
fielding questions from the audience and had a wealth of 
information to share.
A door prize of a 2006 special edition leather-bound 
"Redbook" presented by David Crenshaw was won by Wanda Mize.
Those in attendance were: Pete Smith, Fred Lake, David 
Crenshaw, Ken Bressett, Howard A. Daniel III, Bill Cowburn, 
Jerry Kochndel, John Eshbach, Amanda Rondot, Walter Mize, 
Wanda Mize, Tom Sebring, Bob Fritsch, Chuck Heck, Dennis 
Schafluetzel, Dennis Tucker, Cliff Mishler, George Fitzgerald, 
Martin Gengerke, Robert Kaufmann, Alan Workman, Nick Boccuzzi 
and Alan Davisson."

[Great turnout! Fred took provided some photos of the event, 
and thanks to our webmaster Bruce Perdue, these have been 
posted to the NBS web site: 

I'm sorry I couldn't be there, but I'm glad so many members 
and friends of NBS turned out for the meeting.  Thanks again 
to David Crenshaw for sharing his presentation with us, and 
thanks to Fred for both organizing the event and following 
up with a great report.  

Fred's already casting about for speakers for next year's 
meeting.  If you'd like to make a presentation, or suggest 
someone you'd like to hear, let us know.  -Editor]


It wasn't all fun and games at FUN.  Readers are urged to 
be aware of coin show security and be on the lookout for 
stolen material in the numismatic marketplace.  Ralph Winter 
writes: "Saturday night, somewhere between 7pm and 8:30pm 
the automobile of Archie Taylor was broken into at the 
Chevy's Mexican restaurant in Kissimmee, FL with the entire 
collection of HOBO NICKELS taken. Also included in the 
heist was the 21/2 years worth of carvings by Keith Pederson 
from N. J. and the works of Owen Covert from California.

Pederson and Covert are modern carvers that came to the 
Orlando area and the FUN show to meet the members of OHNS 
and see the area with their families.

The culprits followed the car from the Orange County 
Convention Center and took only the coin cases and left 
all personal belonging in the trunk."

"The Orange County Sheriff's office is conducting the 
search for the coins that include, over 800 original 
carvings by Pederson, Covert, and up to 50 or more 
modern and original carvers of HOBO NICKELS.

Many Coins taken were purchased at the OHNS auction 
that Saturday AM and will be easy to identify thru 
pictures and Carvers initials ..KP ... OC ... CdA .... 
AA ... GW .... WE .... JA .... also taken was the 83-coin 
collection of Wabon Eddings. The majority of the newer 
coins are signed, the older coins are in a DANSCO Book.  
Gallery Mint museum tokens were included in the heist.

For more information contact. Orange County Sheriff's 
Office, D/S Joe Warren at 407-737-2400 or Archie Taylor 
863-603-7514 or rollieshobos at

Photos of some of the stolen hobo nickels can be viewed at:


Bill Malkmus writes: "In the recent Winter 2005 ANS Magazine, 
Frank Campbell, in his "Library News" (pp. 36-37) discusses 
(with illustrations) the six glass negatives for Gilbert's 
half-cent book which were recently donated to the ANS.

He concludes: "A detailed account of the various printings 
of Gilbert's work is presented by P. Scott Rubin in an article 
entitled "The Printing History of the Gilbert Half Cent Book."  
The article appeared in the Spring 1992 issue of The Asylum, 
and is the source of some of the information presented here."

[The Asylum is the quarterly print journal of The
Numismatic Bibliomania Society.  While The E-Sylum is free,
The Asylum is mailed only to members of NBS.  Instructions
for joining are included at the end of each E-Sylum.  
Membership is only $15 to addresses in the U.S., $20 
elsewhere.  So what are you waiting for?  -Editor]


Karl Moulton has published his January 2006 fixed 
price list of United States Numismatic Literature 
1855 to Date.  The 54-page list offers hundreds of 
items.  For more information, see his web site at


Fred Lake writes: "Lake Books' sale #83 of numismatic 
literature is now ready for viewing on our web site at:
Part III of the Clarence Rareshide library contains 500 
lots covering all facets of the numismatic experience. 
The closing date is February 7, 2006 at 5:00 PM (EST). 
Bids will be accepted via email, fax, telephone or US Mail. 
Good Luck with your bidding!" 


This week the U.S. Mint began shipping the new 2006 
"Return to Monticello" to the banking system, according 
to a Press Release published January 12th:

"Pouring hundreds of shiny, new 2006 nickels from a silver 
goblet designed by President Thomas Jefferson, officials 
at the United States Mint launched into circulation today 
the Nation’s first circulating coin that features the image 
of a United States President facing forward. The Nation’s 
coinage has depicted profiles of presidents for nearly a 
century. This new image of President Thomas Jefferson is 
based on a Rembrandt Peale portrait of Jefferson, painted 
in 1800."

"The new coin completes the United States Mint’s popular 
Westward Journey Nickel Series™ that commemorates the 
bicentennials of the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and 
Clark expedition."

The forward-looking 2006 nickel obverse (heads side) was 
designed by Concord, North Carolina, artist Jamie Franki, 
who was inspired by the Rembrandt Peale painting of 1800. 
United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Donna Weaver sculpted 
the new nickel obverse. As on the 2005 nickels, the word 
“Liberty” in Thomas Jefferson’s own handwriting has been 
inscribed on the nickel obverse. Jamie Franki’s forward-
looking image of Thomas Jefferson was selected from 147 
design candidates submitted by the United States Mint 
sculptor-engravers and artists from throughout the country 
in the United States Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program. 
Franki also designed the reverse image on the 2005 
American Bison nickel."

To read the complete press release, see: 

Here are a couple stories from the mainstream press:


The Nevada State Bank put out a press release this 
week on the upcoming launch ceremony for the Nevada 

"As the bank of the Nevada Quarter Launch, Nevada State 
Bank will be the first bank to offer the new quarter to 
the general public at a kick-off event scheduled for 
January 31, 2006, at the Capitol Grounds in Carson City, 
NV at 10:00 a.m.  At the launch, Nevada State Bank will 
provide a quarter exchange where the public will be able 
to purchase a $10 roll of newly minted Nevada State 

"Beginning February 1, 2006, the Nevada Quarter will be 
available to the general public in most Nevada State 
Bank branches throughout Nevada."

"The Nevada Quarter will be the first state quarter to 
be released by the United States Mint in 2006 and the 
36th quarter to be released as a part of the 50 State 
Quarters(R) Program."

To read the complete press release, see: 


We can add to our list of one-coin books.  Last week Coin 
World ran a front-page article on an upcoming book by Kevin 
Flynn: "The 1894-S Dime, A Mystery Unraveled".  Based on 
research in the National Archives, the book addresses the 
myths and mysteries surrounding this rare product of the 
San Francisco Mint.  According to the article, the 
book will be available beginning January 22.  Five hundred 
softcover and a limited number of hardcover editions are 
being printed. 

"The softcover edition is priced at $32.95 and hardcover 
is priced at $90 plus $5 postage for all orders.  Copies 
may be reserved by sending a check or money order to Kevin 
Flynn, P.O. Box 538, Rancocas, NJ 08073, or e-mail him at
kevinj50 at"

Elements of the story include published accounts by 
Farran Zerbe in The Numismatist in April 1928, and a 
February 1951 Numismatic Scrapbook article.  "The Usual 
Suspect" in the traditional speculation on the dimes' 
creation was San Francisco Mint Superintendent John Daggett, 
but Flynn discovered that Daggett "wasn't even on the job 
due to an attack of sciatica."  

"The National Archives absolutely show that the 24 1894-S 
Barber Dimes were struck on June 9, 1894.  National archive 
records also show that several collectors wrote to the San 
Francisco Mint directly and learned of the 24 1894-S Barber 
Dimes in early 1895."

Kevin Flynn adds: "The book is 130 pages, 8-1/2 by 11. 
There is much previously unpublished information on the 
1894-S in this book, such as when and how many 1894-S dime 
dies were sent from Philadelphia to San Francisco, what 
drove coin production at the San Francisco Mint, what 
collectors were told in 1894 and 1895 about the 1894-S dimes, 
why the 1894-S dimes were struck, how many dies were sent 
back to Philadelphia, and how many were melted.......
There were five 1894-S dimes submitted for assay; two were 
sent on June 9th, 1894, the day they were struck.  The assay 
is an important part of the story.  Each of the silver coins 
submitted for assay for 1894 was recorded to get a better 
picture.  These five coins were sent to the Philadelphia and 
Washington D.C. for assay, San Francisco had their own assay 
department which assayed thousands of coins per year.  The 
assay of these coins show that the Mint was not trying to 
hide them, that the Philadelphia and Director of the Mint 
in Washington D.C. knew they were struck.  Of course this
is not true for many of the other great rarities such as 
the 1913 Liberty nickel or the 1884 and 1885 Trade Dollars.
For many of the more important documents, the archive letters 
are scanned in so that you can see the original.
These are just some of the issues researched, there were 
many pieces to the puzzle to solve the mystery, such as 
discovering who was the source of Farran Zerbe's 1928
article on the 1894-S dimes, which he learned from the 
Mint in 1905.  Learn why this had to be Charles Gorham, 
the coiner at the San Francisco Mint in 1894."

[Three cheers for Coin World Editor Beth Deisher's editorial 
in the January 16th issue.  Referring specifically about the 
writings of Flynn and Roger Burdette, she writes: "Thanks to 
a small cadre of researchers and writers, today's collectors 
and those in the future will have the opportunity to know much 
more about U.S. coins than the collectors of yesteryear.  
That's because these researchers are not content to just repeat 
the coin lore that has been handed down for generations.  They 
are taking the time and making the effort to locate original 
sources and documents that detail the whos, whys, whens, wheres 
and hows involving the coins we collect.  Often their findings 
confirm and expand previously published information.  But 
sometimes their research relegates previously held theories 
and accounts to myth and legend status."  Amen.  -Editor]


On Saturday, January 14, The Guardian published a review 
of a new book on one of the most famous coins in the world:

"A Silver Legend: The Story of the Maria Theresa Thaler
by Clara Semple 178pp, Barzan Publishing, £19.95

"At Talh market in northern Yemen, I once watched an old 
man pay for a fresh clip of Kalashnikov ammunition with 
some weighty silver coins. Neither Yemeni or Saudi riyals, 
these reassuringly hefty discs were date-stamped 1780 and 
bore the image of a large busty woman on one side, an 
impressively feathery eagle on the other. They were silver 
dollars of the Austro-Hungarian empire and the woman was 
Maria Theresa, empress from 1740 to 1780.

Despite generous offers from the market-trader to sell me 
various machine guns, bazookas and even a tank ("only two 
days to deliver!"), I bought the money from him instead, 
paying a small premium to avoid some obvious forgeries. 
Little did I know that in some senses all the coins were 
forgeries, and a bright copy made in the sands of Talh the 
day before was at least as interesting as my supposed 
originals. Those, as Clara Semple points out in her 
intriguing book, could easily have been minted in Birmingham 
in the 1950s, or Brussels, London, Paris, Bombay, Rome or 
Vienna at some time in the previous two centuries - almost 
all had that 1780 date. As for rarity, around 400 million 
are known to have been issued in that period.

The tale of how this particular coin came to be such a 
cornerstone of trade for so long - a true international 
currency - starts with the first voyages of discovery, 
when merchants found that many remote peoples wanted silver 
bullion in exchange for their goods, certainly not English 
woollens. And yet verifying silver content is neither simple 
or practical: a coin that could be trusted was the answer."

"Once traders began using the coin down the Red Sea, 
particularly in the burgeoning coffee trade, they found 
demand was insatiable. Not only did the silver content make 
them reliably valuable, the handsome currency made excellent 
jewellery with the added appeal of being something of a 
fertility fetish. On that score, I would have liked a few 
words from the various people, mainly women, who are depicted 
in the book - the photographs are wonderful - all wearing the 
Maria Theresa dollar.

What we do get, however, is some sterling anecdote. When 
Barclays Bank opened a branch in Addis Ababa in 1941, the 
cashiers were inundated with deposits of the coins, often 
retrieved from where the owners had buried them. The process 
of counting was so arduous that one teller devised a gas mask 
to survive the dust. Travellers found the Maria Theresa both 
a curse and a blessing. Wilfred Thesiger, setting out to cross 
the Empty Quarter, was forced to take 2,000 coins, a 
substantial weight, but the only currency anyone would accept 
in the desert."

To read the full review, see:,10595,1685737,00.html


Paul Landsberg writes: "I always enjoy reading E-Sylum.  
I saw "book binding" mentioned.   Do you have a reliable 
person who can repair books?  The leather at the spine 
of an 1800s book I have has completely detached so I 
would like to have this book re-bound or repaired.  I 
don't know the terminology.  Any recommendations?  Maybe 
the readers have one.  Book repair appears to be an 
arcane art and I haven't found any in all of my numismatic 
travels.   Obviously I am curious about people's 

[It's been a while since we touched on this subject, and 
it's ripe for revisiting.  Some of the craftsman 
recommended by our readers in the past include:

Longs-Roullet Bookbinders, Norfolk, Virginia

Alan Grace, Jacksonville, Florida 

Any other recommendations?  -Editor]


Who says you can't take it with you?  Arthur Shippee 
forwarded this article, which was noted this week in 
The Explorator Newsletter.  He writes: "Chinese 
archaeologists have excavated what appears to be a 
Yuan dynasty tomb of a coin collector:

"Archaeologists in northwest China's Shaanxi Province 
have discovered an ancient tomb, possibly of a coin 
collector, dating back more than 600 years. 

During a recent excavation at a Yuan Dynasty 
(1271-1368) tomb in the suburb of Xi'an, capital of 
Shaanxi, archaeologists found over 150 coins of 
different dynasties, together with 60 ceramic utensils. 

Twenty kinds of coins were in circulation in the dynasties 
of Tang (618-907), Song (960-1279) and Jin (1115-1234), 
spanning about 600 years. They might have been collected 
by the owner of the tomb who was interested in ancient coins, 
archaeologists reckoned." 

"Archaeologists have also unearthed 259 Wuzhu coins, the 
common currency in wide circulation during the Han Dynasty 
(206 BC-220 AD), in a recent excavation in Pingli County 
of the history-laden Shaanxi Province."


Larry Gaye writes: "Regarding landmark numismatic works -
while not pertaining to U.S. numismatics, one in my 
opinion is "Monnaies Byzantines" by Rodolfo Ratto on 
December 9, 1930, the first sale of a private collection 
of Byzantine coinage that served as an information source 
for collectors.  Not until David Sear published "Byzantine 
Coins and Their Values" in 1974 was there a comprehensive 
"guide" to this important series."

David Palmer writes: "With regard to Landmark Numismatic 
Literature, I would nominate the EAC '75 Sale catalog. 
Due to the fact that so many varieties of Connecticut 
Coppers were illustrated and described, I believe it 
revolutionized collecting in that area of Confederation 
era coinage. Before this catalog, all the collector had 
was Dr. Hall's manuscript, when you could find it, with 
no pictures whatever. Collecting Connecticuts up to this 
time was difficult, at best. Interestingly enough, to me 
at least, is that I started collecting Large Cents and 
Connecticuts in 1980, joined EAC, and never heard of  
that catalog, until about 1986, when I was able to pick 
up the catalog at a local coin show, along with the 
Kessler-Spangenberger Sale for about $5 for the pair. 
One of my better non coin purchases."

Michael E. Marotta writes; "Walter Breen's Complete 
Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins created the 
current standard for academic scholarship in numismatics.  
The footnotes, references, documentation, and citations 
made it necessary for any subsequent work to deliver the 
same craftsmanship.  For a generation now, numismatic 
histories cite sources: the newspapers and journals of 
the time; and previous articles and books.  Beyond "U.S.
and Colonial" issues, all knowledgeable collectors expect 
more from auction listings than "Coin. Date. Ruler's 
Head/Legend. Eagle/Legend. Price."  Minimalist listings 
define common material, while truly desirable objects 
earn solid attributions.

Breen also "cracked the code" of the U.S. Mint.  He made 
estimates of actual coin production by year, despite the 
tallying methods for which all coins struck in a fiscal 
year were counted alike, regardless of the numerals in 
the exergues.  That dedicated investigation set the 
standard for the best writing in our hobby."

Bill Bremmer writes: "I would nominate B. Max Mehl's 
The Star Rare Coin Encyclopedia and Premium Catalogue.
Supposedly it got millions of people looking through 
their change." 


In response to the query about Photograde which kicked 
off the discussion of landmark numismatic books, Kenneth 
Bressett writes: "I do not know much about the early 
editions of Photograde, but can add the following:
First printing was August 1970. The fourth printing was 
January 1971. The fifth printing, with revisions, was 
August 1972. The latest printing (I believe) is the 19th, 
with a 2005 copyright date.  The three printings in 1970
were in August, September, and October. Other copyright 
dates are: 1983, 1988, 1990 and 1995.


Dick Hanscom writes: "Here is an article about Perkins of 
Newburyport from the Newburyport Daily News:
"One of the city's most historic buildings is eyed for 
residential use once again by the property owner.

The nearly 200-year-old brick building at the rear of a 
Fruit Street lot was the state's earliest mint. It served 
as the workshop for Newburyport's greatest inventor, 
Jacob Perkins, who created an engraving process for steel 
plates to print bank notes. Perkins' pioneering technique 
was eventually used to print all U.S. currency.

"It's important because of not only what went on there, 
but by whom," said Jay Williamson, curator of the Historical 
Society of Old Newbury. Perkins "was an inventive genius."

Owner James Lagoulis, a Newburyport lawyer and former Newbury 
town counsel, wants to turn the vacant and deteriorating 
building into an apartment. His proposal will be reviewed 
by the Zoning Board of Appeals at 7 tonight at City Hall."

"In 2004, citing a need for immediate repairs or demolition, 
Lagoulis went to the Historical Commission. At that time, 
he spoke of going before the Zoning Board of Appeals to win 
approval for some other use for the building.

The commission issued a six-month delay for demolition, 
the maximum allowed at the time. It has since expired. 
Lagoulis can legally tear down the structure.

But Lagoulis said demolition is not his intent.

"I have a civic obligation to save this building of 
historical significance, and I'm doing my best to do that," 
Lagoulis said. "Residential use is the most viable use and 
probably the best use for the neighborhood."

"In order to save the building, you (have) to make them 
usable," Lagoulis said. "It's a matter of cost to repair 
and revenues." 

The building needs work. In 2004, the chimney collapsed 
and fell through to the first floor.

"I can't allow it to fall into disrepair," Lagoulis said. 
"It's vacant because of the lack of stability. It's a 
historic building of significant meaning. It's a landmark." 

The historical society thinks the building could serve as 
an addition to the Cushing House museum.

"We would love to be in the position to buy (the building) 
for a fair market value," Williamson said. "We're not in 
the position to do that because of lack of funds. We 
certainly favor seeing that building preserved any way it 
could, so long as work is done to preserve the historic 
integrity of the building."

In the early 1800s, Perkins, who lived from 1766 to 1849, 
created a process to soften steel to engrave and reharden 
bank notes, making them much harder to counterfeit. 
Earlier printing processes used copper plates.

"It was a revolutionary process that allowed banks to be 
more secure," Williamson said.

By 1809, Perkins' steel engraving plates were used for 
printing all currency in Massachusetts. In 1815, his 
equipment was selected for national use.

"It was important on a national level," Williamson said. 
"That's what went on here in that mint building."

[The story has already been pulled from the paper's web
site, so we don't have a link to publish. -Editor]

Dave Perkins writes:  "This is the building that I saw 
and "touched" when I visited Newburyport a couple of years 
ago (as reported in The E-Sylum).  I went through the 
back yard / gardens of the Newburyport Historical Society 
to the building guided by the then curator.  I also saw 
Jacob Perkins' House from the front.  So I am familiar 
with all the logistics from this article.

It would be a shame to tear that building down. I think 
my 1818 "Perkins Pattern Cent" might have been created 
in that building.  I doubt I will tell the Cent what is 
going on - it's lonely enough as it is in the bank. 
But it is loved!"

[David's report was published in The E-Sylum June 8, 2003.
He is a distant relative of Jacob Perkins.


The Newburyport Daily News is the source of another 
numismatic story, also forwarded to us by Dick Hanscom.  
The New England roofers who gained national publicity 
over their concocted story of finding a paper money 
hoard buried in a back yard are now on trial.  The hoard 
was actually found on a barn they were repairing, and 
now they're in court on theft charges.
"Finders keepers. That's the latest defense of four men 
whose story of buried backyard treasure brought them 
national fame, then felony charges.

Police say the men, Barry Billcliff, 27, of Manchester, 
N.H.; Kevin Kozak, 28, of Methuen; Matthew Ingham, 24, 
of Newton, N.H.; and Timothy A. Crebase, 25, of Methuen, 
concocted the buried-treasure story to cover the theft 
of more than $1 million worth of antique currency from 
a Newbury barn last spring.

But in a motion filed this week at Lawrence District 
Court, lawyers for the foursome are asking the state to 
dismiss all charges because police have no evidence the 
money was stolen.

According to the argument, the bills are abandoned 
property because nobody knew they were stashed in the 
barn rafters."

To read the complete article, see:

To read an earlier E-Sylum article on the 
paper money hoard, see:


Or "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh..........I'm Hunting Books (ala 
Elmer Fudd)"  Paul Landsberg writes: "Readers of The 
E-Sylum are well versed in the quirks of good reference 
books for various fields of numismatics.  My specialty, 
ancient coins, tends to have very low printing runs and 
quite often times the value of a particular reference 
book doesn't become clear until years later.   OK, maybe 
that is an excuse, maybe this poor writer just doesn't 
realize the value of a book in time.
Case in point would be a relatively recent book (1990) 
by Raffaele Paolucci, "The coinage of the Doges of Venice."
Around 1991 or so I discovered Venetian grossos (thin 
medieval silver coins of Venice) and when I called the ANA 
library they lent me Paolucci's book.  It is a coffee table 
style book with one page in Italian, the opposing page in 
English.   While of limited value to a numismatist, it 
was the absolute best work encapsulating Venetian grossos.   
Unfortunately I was in the death throes of a Ph.D. and I 
never bought the book.   Seven years later I dredged up 
memories and starting hunting this book.   Over hill and 
over dale goeth the passionate book hound sniffing under 
rocks and trees, with nary a whiff to be found.
This story had a happy ending around 2001.  By chance I 
located two European firms that had the book;  Jean Elsen 
and Paolucci (an Italian firm, no relation).   I actually 
ordered five copies to pass along to fellow collectors 
who had similarly been stymied.   As any of you who have 
played the intrepid huntsman and located "THE BOOK" you 
can empathize with my glee.
More recently I had picked up a large grouping of Persian 
sigloi and to my dismay the best reference article on 
these coin types were in a British Musuem publication 
that had also contained the seminal work on some stunning 
and near unique silver decadrachms found in Turkey.   
Colleagues shook their heads and quietly whispered "good 
luck."  To arms, to arms, let the hunt begin!!
This time I decided to be somewhat more systematic in my 
hunt and also to use the fullest power of the Internet 
to my advantage.   My phone calls and inquiries went out 
to CNG, Jean Elsen, John Burns, John Lavender, and Svetolik 
Kovacevic, all highly respected numismatists or book 
dealers (if I forgot any, please forgive me).   All 
indicated the extreme scarcity of this reference but 
promised to keep a look out.  At the same time I employed 
Google and many of the book search sites.  As a final 
tactic I put in a standing "want" onto at a 
certain price and condition.  This means that if the book 
is located, it is shipped.  Drumroll please................
while I had to renew my standing want with Amazon 3-4 times, 
I received a note from their automated system about 18 
months after starting the hunt, "your book has shipped."  
Once again another hunt successfully concluded.  Amazon 
truthfully wasn't how I expected to acquire this book.
My latest hunt that I just embarked on is a search to 
purchase a copy of:  Cunetio Treasure: Roman Coinage of 
the Third Century, EM Besley, Roger Bland, British Museum 
Publication, 1983.  My first volley of contacts have all 
been unsuccessful but this hunter has patience ..........
when I am forced to.  Do contact me if you know of a 
copy for sale.
As readers of The E-Sylum, I'm sure you each have a 
method for hunting "that book you just gotta have."   
How about you share some of your steps in locating those 
types of books?"

[I'm sure all of us have our favorite fishing holes, 
and equally sure that no one source is ever the be-all 
and end-all of book hunting. Congratulations to Paul on 
his perseverance via Amazon to locate a scarce title.

My own "shotgun" approach, as I've mentioned before, 
is expensive but effective - I basically buy a copy of 
any new book remotely related to my interests as soon 
as it comes out.  Then I don't have to worry about 
playing catch up later.  Plenty of titles become 
available more cheaply later, but a number do end up 
being hard to find.   Financing this binge-buying is 
difficult, and with all the great new U.S. titles 
released recently I'm having to be much more 
selective.  -Editor] 

Dr K.A. Rodgers of Thynges Wrytten Down, New Zealand, 
writes: “I spotted your item on the Victoria Cross in 
the last newsletter.  The timing of the donation is 
highly appropriate. I presume you are aware that 29 
January 2006 is the 150th anniversary of the inauguration 
of the Cross by Queen Victoria.

Part of the Cross's mystique is that it each is made 
from cannon metal at the cost of a few cents each; no 
precious metal is ever associated with them.

Trivia question for the military numismatists: How does 
the present Canadian VC differ from all others?  I’m 
unaware of any other mints getting in on the anniversary 
act so far, but watch this space.”

Steve Woodland writes: "As a military man and a coin 
collector, I was very pleased to see the article in the 
latest E-Sylum (v9#02) about the Merrifield family's 
donation of William Merrifield's Victoria Cross medal to 
the Canadian War Museum.  It is an even more intriguing 
story when you realize that 2006 marks the sesquicentennial 
of the Victoria Cross, which was initiated by Queen 
Victoria in 1856.  To commemorate this anniversary, the 
Royal Canadian Mint has struck three new dollar coins, 
each figuring a reproduction of the Victoria Cross on the 
reverse: one in proof silver with selective gold plating 
(available only in the proof set); one in proof silver; 
and one in brilliant uncirculated silver.  Here is a 
small history of the Victoria Cross, taken from the RCM's 
"From the cascabels of Russian cannons that were captured 
during the Crimean War (1854-1855), a great military honour 
is forged. It is the Victoria Cross, the highest military 
decoration that is awarded “
for most conspicuous bravery, 
or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, 
or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.” 

Instituted by Queen Victoria in 1856, a total 1,351 
Victoria Crosses have been awarded to British and 
Commonwealth military forces. Ninety-four of them have 
been awarded to Canadians - 8 for acts of bravery carried 
out prior to and during the South African War (1899-1902); 
70 during the First World War (1914-1918); and 16 during 
the Second World War (1939-1945). 

The Victoria Cross is one of the most recognized military 
medals in the world. It features a cross pattee with the 
Royal Crown surmounted by a lion guardant and a scroll 
inscribed with For Valour. The date of the act is engraved 
within a raised circle on the reverse. The cross is suspended 
from a straight bar which has the rank, unit and name of the 
recipient engraved on the back. In 1993, a special Canadian 
version was instituted. It is identical to the original with 
the exception that [see next week's issue for the Quiz answer! 
The coins can be ordered from the Royal Canadian Mint 


In a recent post to the colonial coins mailing list, Ray 
Williams writes: "I am not an author, but I know a number 
of authors in colonial numismatics.  Some haven't published 
yet but have put hundreds or thousands of hours of work 
into their research in preparation to publish.  If I put 
that time into research, I don't think I would want to 
necessarily want to give away info before I published - 
that might take away the importance of my book to the 
numismatic world.  I'm speculating here, as I am not an 
author.  But as a collector, I find it frustrating that 
these researchers are so close to completion but there is 
no book!  I'd like to know what's going to be in the 
book, but I have to wait like everyone else.  I'm aware 
of three important books in this state.  I "encourage" 
these authors when I see them, and I hope they don't take 
my encouragement as nagging...  but I'm not getting any 
younger!  I do think these researchers have a moral 
obligation and responsibility to the hobby to publish, 
but that's my personal feeling.  Sometimes the first 90% 
of the book is written easily without problems, but the 
last 10% can take forever.  Getting that last picture, 
making that last confirmation, visiting that last museum...  

I enjoy a thorough reference book, but sometimes in the 
quest for perfection it doesn't get completed or the author 
loses interest in the process.  How many unpublished 
manuscripts are there?  Second editions exist for the 
purpose of updating the first edition."

[So how many other "unfinished symphonies" are out there 
in the numismatic literature world?  How many would-be 
authors died before getting around to actually publishing 
their work?  -Editor]


Chick Ambrass writes: "On the TV show "Commander-in-Chief" 
Tuesday one scene, on the wall in the Oval 
Office,  next to a door were a couple of wall hangings...
"pictures" of them appeared to be a type of shadow 
box that had 12 circular objects displayed. Seen only for 
a few seconds, there were 3 horizontal rows with 4 discs 
per row. My guess would be that they were Morgan Dollar 
size discs...a dozen of them. Is anyone aware of any coins 
on display and hanging in the oval office?"


Dick Johnson writes: "To comment on Stephen Pradier and 
Ralf W. Böpple’s item in last week’s E-Sylum: The toilet 
seat embedded with coins has been around for 40 years. 
while there are hundreds of American firms that do Lucite 
embedments, not all of them have the mold – called "forms" 
by these firms – of the toilet seat. The most common forms, 
of course, are cubes and disks and such.

You CAN retrieve a coin or medal once it is embedded in 
Lucite. At Medallic Art, where I once worked, we had medals 
embedded in Lucite if that is what the customer wanted. 
I got an inquiry once "How do I get the medal out of the 

I called the best authority possible: the DuPont Company, 
which makes Lucite. Some nice man in their public relations 
department told me how:

Use a band saw to cut the Lucite as close to the coin or 
medal as possible (without, of course, cutting into it). 
Chip away with hammer and chisel even closer. Then dissolve 
the remaining Lucite in warm galactic acetic acid. I Googled 
"galactic acetic acid" only to learn it is found in space. 
(Now I wonder if he was pulling my earth-bound leg.)

Does any E-Sylum reader / chemist know what dissolves 
Lucite? Aren’t you amazed at what you learn reading 
The E-Sylum?"


Dick Johnson writes: "Would you kindly repeat the use 
of "site" with a keyword to find all the items in E-Sylum 
archives in which that keyword is used?    Perhaps this 
should appear at the end of every E-Sylum for those who 
wish to dig a little deeper about a subject of interest."

[Dick is referring to the use of Google to search a specific
web site, particularly the NBS site containing the archive of
back E-Sylum issues.  Simply add "" to your
Google search string and your search will be restricted to 
only pages on the NBS web site.  -Editor]


This week's featured web page is the Rootsweb page on 
Jacob Perkins.  The page provides a summary biography of 
this legendary numismatic figure, along with a large number 
of links to web sites with images and information about his 
life and work, including George Washington funeral medals 
and starting the American Bank Note Company. 

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society

The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization 
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see our web site at

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at this address:

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to the address printed on the application. Membership is only 
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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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