The E-Sylum v9#05, January 29, 2006

esylum at esylum at
Sun Jan 29 20:26:50 PST 2006

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 9, Number 05, January 29, 2006:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Bill Tatham and Fabienne 
Burkhalter.  Welcome aboard!  We now have 853 subscribers.

The topic of numismatic oral history comes up this week 
with note from Dick Johnson.  Preserving this kind of 
ephemeral information is what The E-Sylum is about as well.  
If your phone rings and it's Dick calling for an interview, 
sit down, put your feet up, and take a trip down memory lane.

Another thing we just can't get enough of here at The E-Sylum 
are first-hand accounts of goings-on at the U.S. Mint, and 
this week brings a nice article from an Ohio newspaper about 
Mint Director William Brett and the political fallout from 
Republicans over the depiction on the dime of Democrat Franklin 
Roosevelt.  The article also addresses the 1950s phenomenon 
of nickels piling up in Cincinnati, dimes in San Antonio and 
quarters in Minneapolis.  Any guesses on why?

Another type of first-hand numismatic history are stories 
relating to the design and marketing of the state quarter 
series - this week brings criticisms of the Washington and 
Utah designs.  But perhaps the most unusual item this 
week is a story from The New Scientist on how banknotes are 
being used to help predict the spread of disease.  Read on to 
find out.  Enjoy!

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Pete Smith, NBS President writes: "The NBS Board is making 
plans for the 2006 ANA summer convention in Denver. We are 
looking for speakers or other suggestions for programs. 
Perhaps after doing the same things for many years, it is 
time for a change. What else should we offer to serve the 
interests of our members?  Please present comments to The 
E-Sylum or forward comments to me through Wayne."

[We'd love to hear from you, so please let us know what you
think.  I'll compile the suggestions for the next E-Sylum;
if not for publication I'll forward them to Pete.  -Editor]


Taken from a press release: "Central Bank of Armenia released 
a book titled Armenia's Money Emissions. The CBA press service 
says the book can be interesting for those persons keeping 
watch on money circulation in Armenia and Armenian numismatics. 
There is a brief review of Armenian ancient coins in the book. 
The main stages of the record of money circulation in Armenia 
are presented here as well. 

Besides, there is detailed description of today's Armenia. 
Banknotes and coins issued by the Central Bank over a period 
between 1993 and 2005 are presented. 

The book contains information about money and the information 
about how it is being issued and put in circulation." 


Although it has just come to our attention through a 
recent blog entry, on June 16, 2005 Kentucky National 
Guard soldier Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester became the first 
woman awarded the Silver Star for actions in Iraq, for 
heroism during a March convoy mission. According the 
the blog entry quoted below, Hester was the first woman 
since WWII to be awarded the medal:

"The 23-year-old retail store manager from Bowling Green, 
Ky., won the award for skillfully leading her team of 
military police soldiers in a counterattack after about 
50 insurgents ambushed a supply convoy they were guarding 
near Salman Pak on March 20.

The medal, rare for any soldier, underscores the growing 
role in combat of U.S. female troops in Iraq's guerrilla 
war, where tens of thousands of American women have served, 
36 have been killed and 285 wounded, according to Pentagon 

After insurgents hit the convoy with a barrage of fire from 
machine guns, AK-47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled 
grenades, Hester "maneuvered her team through the kill zone 
into a flanking position where she assaulted a trench line 
with grenades and M203 rounds," according to the Army citation 
accompanying the Silver Star.

"She then cleared two trenches with her squad leader where 
she engaged and eliminated three AIF [anti-Iraqi forces] 
with her M4 rifle. Her actions saved the lives of numerous 
convoy members," the citation stated."

To read the full entry, see: 

A mention in Stars and Stripes (see June 16): 


Dick Johnson writes: "I want to do oral history. I want 
to call numismatists, or people who have specialized 
numismatic information and interview them. But nothing 
is easy. 

We have unlimited long distance calling for our telephone 
service. Great! I can talk for hours. All I need is a tape 
recorder hooked up to the telephone. Two aged tape records 
sit on the top shelf in my office but provide only intermitted 
service so off I go shopping for an industrial strength 
telephone tape recorder. 

Froogle leads me to exactly want I want -- record, dictate, 
transcribe -- all in one machine made by Sony. Even has a 
foot control for playback transcribing. $140 more than what 
I had budgeted, so I print the specifications and picture 
and off I go to Radio Shack. No, they don't have anything 
like that in stock. Salesman punches some keys on the cash 
register (I never understood that!) and says the chain 
doesn't carry it. 

So I order it off the Internet and it arrives the next day. 
Unpack, assemble, only to learn the telephone recording 
adaptor is not included. I can not hook up the telephone 
to the recorder without it. I contact the dealer I bought 
it from. No, they don't carry it. Sony, how could you sell 
a product that is incomplete? 

Back to Radio Shack. Salesman taps keys on cash register 
again. No, they don't carry it. They tried to sell me a $3 
suction cup to connect telephone to the recorder. In my mind 
I know that's not going to work. 

Urgent call to son-in-law in Minnesota who is the family 
electronics guru. Email details what I need. He installs 
very high-tech video display systems all over the world. 
He would know. He searches the Internet and makes some calls. 
Finds company in Silicon Valley that has what I need, he says. 
I call to order, only to learn they no longer stock it but 
refer me to another SV firm. 

Now it's getting serious. This firm really makes telephone 
recording systems. Record all day long from all extensions 
in headquarters and a dozen branch offices. They ask me if 
my phone is digital. No, I learn its not. (I'm still an analog 
guy in a digital world!) If it was, salesman says, you can 
hook up your phone to your computer and record the text of 
all your conversations right on the computer. But the 
salesman was talking in a language I really didn't understand 
and I can't even describe here. I think I described to him 
what I need and I ordered what I think will work. Nothing 
is easy today. 

All I want to do is record numismatic interviews. So if I 
call you and say, "This is Dick Johnson in Connecticut. I'd 
like to ask you some questions. Mind if I turn on the recorder?" 
You will know I got hooked up."

[This is a great project idea.  Too much information is 
lost to history because it never gets recorded.   Periodically 
the ANA has a project to collect oral history, and I'd be 
curious to know who all has been interviewed so far, and if 
and how these tapes are cataloged in the library index.

And here's another question.  We all know who the "A-list" 
of interviewees are.  Who out might be a little less known 
to the general collecting public, yet has a wealth of numismatic 
history to relate?  -Editor]


David Gladfelter writes: "For many years I have used 
Grierson's "Bibliographie Numismatique." It wan't until 
reading his general work "Numismatics" (London, Oxford 
University Press, 1975) that I realized that French was 
not his native tongue."


E. Tomlinson Fort, Editor of The Asylum writes: "I am 
presently working on a study of Scottish coins and for my 
references need the full names of two people who sold their 
collections anonymously:

1. The "Dundee" sale [a joint auction of Spink and Bowers 
and Merena] 19 Febuary 1976. In 1981, Lord Stewartby listed 
the owner as S.P. Fay, but he did not state what the S.P. 
stood for, do any readers know?

2. The "Douglas" collection auctioned by Spink [sale no. 
119] on 4 March 1997. Does anyone know who this person was?

Please send the answer(s) to etfort at"


The Repository of Canton, OH published a story this week 
about a former U.S. Mint Director's experiences.  Here are 
a few excerpts:

"Fifty years ago, former Stark County resident William 
Brett was keeping political party members from playing 
penny-ante politics with America’s money.

OK, technically the ante was a dime in the middle of the 
1950s. Specifically, the 61-year-old former Alliance 
businessman was attempting five decades ago to calm 
Republicans who were annoyed by the Roosevelt dime.

Those members of the Grand Old Party couldn’t understand 
why a Republican presidential administration — that of 
Dwight D. Eisenhower — would continue to make a coin 
with a famous Democrat’s head on it."

"The director tried to tell his fellow party members 
that the coin controversy really was out of his — and 
Eisenhower’s — hands.

“I simply tell them, in as unprejudiced way as I can, 
that these Roosevelt dimes, by law, must be made until 
1971,” Brett explained in 1955.

The design of any coin could not be changed for 25 years, 
he explained. The Roosevelt dime was first coined in 1946.

With that rule in place while Brett was head of the Mint, 
the only coin design that could have been changed — and 
all changes were made on the decision of the Mint’s director 
— was the Lincoln penny, which was first coined in 1909.

“And I can assure you,” Brett said, “I won’t do that.”

"Through his job, Brett encountered some “puzzling situations” 
concerning the distribution of coins, the newspaper article 
noted. Coins had a penchant for accumulating in certain areas 
of the country, the writer explained.

A lot of nickels were found in Cincinnati, for example. 
Dimes, to the chagrin of Republicans there, accumulated 
in San Antonio. Quarters piled up in Minneapolis.

“We think we know the explanation for the quarters in 
Minneapolis,” Brett told the reporter. “There are a lot of 
cereal companies there, and people are always sending them 
box tops, with quarters.”

"Even if party politics had been successful in stopping the 
production of Roosevelt dimes in 1971, the dimes already 
in circulation would have lingered for two to three decades 
— through several more Democratic and Republican administrations. 

We have the benefit of enough hindsight, of course, to know 
that new mintings of the Roosevelt dime continue to pop up 
in our pocket every year — their existence guarded, at least 
for a few years, by a Stark County Republican who was 
nonpartisan when it came to pocket change."

To read the complete story, see: 


Every coin design has its critics. An article from 
Vancouver, WA discusses one politician's beefs with the 
proposed designs for the Washington state quarter:

"Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard said none of the three 
designs shows much creativity and he won't be adding 
the final coin to his collection. 

Southwest Washington certainly didn't get any recognition 
among the finalists. Two of the three designs feature Mount 
Rainier, even though Mount St. Helens arguably is the most 
famous of Washington's volcanoes. 

The other is an American Indian-style drawing of a 
killer whale. 

"Not a lot of imagination there," Pollard said of the 
three designs chosen from thousands of entries. 

"You have to wonder what they had to choose from. I 
wouldn't pick any of them." 

To read the complete article, see:


An editorial in the January 29th Salt Lake Tribune objects 
to the proposed beehive design for Utah's state quarter:

"I began to wonder what the design for Utah's quarter 
would be. 

That's where the beehive comes in. 

In July 2000, The Salt Lake Tribune published a story 
explaining the selection process and how, under the Mint's 
guidelines, depictions or logos of specific religious 
organizations were inappropriate for the quarters. That 
meant, according to the story, no Brigham Young, no Salt 
Lake LDS Temple, no beehive on the Utah quarter. 

Imagine my surprise, then, when first lady Mary Kaye 
Huntsman earlier this month unveiled the three "concept 
designs" chosen by the state's commemorative coin commission: 
the completion of the transcontinental railroad, a snowboarder 
and - drum roll, please - the beehive."

"But given the Mint's guidelines, and the beehive's place 
in Utah as a Mormon symbol, it doesn't belong on the Utah 
commemorative quarter because it is not universal. It is 
representative of the LDS Church and Utah's Mormon roots, but 
not of anyone else."

"Yes, I know. The beehive has many secular applications 
in Utah. It appears all kinds of places, from the state flag 
and the state seal to highway signs. 

But ... the root of the Utah obsession with the beehive 
is Mormon iconography ... "

"Given this history, and the Mint's prohibition of exclusive 
religious symbolism on the state commemorative quarters, I 
am puzzled that the beehive was not disqualified as a design 

"The one-paragraph narrative that Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. 
provided to the Mint talks about the beehive's place on the 
state's flag, how Utah's nickname is the Beehive State and 
how the honey bee is the state insect, but makes no mention 
of how all of these symbols derive directly from Mormonism. 

It looks to me like state and Mint officials are being either 
deliberately superficial or downright deceptive. I'm not sure 

To read the complete editorial, see: 


An article this week from The New Scientist shows how
Researchers might use data from the Where's George 
database to help predict the spread of disease.

"Tracking the movements of hundreds of thousands of 
banknotes across the US could provide scientists with 
a vital new tool to help combat the spread of deadly 
infectious diseases like bird flu.

Modern transport has transformed the speed at which 
epidemics can spread, enabling disease to rip through 
populations and leap across continents at frightening 

"But now physicists from the Max Planck Institute in 
Göttingen, Germany, and the University of Santa Barbara, 
California, US, have developed a model to explain these 
movements, based on the tracked movements of US banknotes. 

Dirk Brockmann and colleagues used an online project 
called (George Washington's image 
is on the $1 bill) to track the movements of dollar bills 
by serial number. Visitors to the site enter the serial 
number of banknotes in their possession and can see where 
else the note may have been."

"Although the movements of individual bills remain 
unpredictable, the mathematical rules make it possible 
to calculate the probability that a bill will have travelled 
a certain distance over a certain amount of time. "What's 
triggering this is our behaviour," Brockmann told New 
Scientist. "That is what you need if you want to build 
quantitative models for the spread of disease."

Brockmann admits that the movement of money may not 
perfectly mirror that of people. For one thing, he says, 
it may be that only certain types of people are interested 
in seeing where their bills have been and entering that on However, he says comparing the model 
to publicly available information on passenger flights and 
road travel suggests that it is accurate."

To read the complete article, see: 


The web site is investigating a claim making 
the rounds of the Internet that the U.S. "Department of 
Homeland Security is secretly putting restrictions on what 
customers can remove from safe deposit boxes in case of 
"national disaster."

The claim states that: "A family member from Irvine, CA 
(who's a branch manager at Bank of America) told us two 
weeks ago that her bank held a "workshop" where the last 
two days were dedicated to discussing their bank's new 
security measures. During these last two days, the workshop 
included members from the Homeland Security Office who 
instructed them on how to field calls from customers and 
what they are to tell them in the event of a national 
disaster. She said they were told how only agents from 
Homeland Security (during such an event) would be in 
charge of opening safe deposit boxes and determining what 
items would be given to bank customers. 

At this point they were told that no weapons, cash, gold, 
or silver will be allowed to leave the bank - only various 
paperwork will be given to its owners. After discussing 
the matter with them at length, she and the other employees 
were then told not to discuss the subject with anyone."

[I haven't seen this claim before and haven’t heard of 
any such planned restrictions.   Readers?  -Editor]

To read the full story, see:  


Jim Barry writes: "I have used Southeast Library Bindery 
at 7609 Business Park Drive, Greensboro, NC, 27409 for 
binding both books and special catalogs. Their telephone 
number is 1-800-444-7534."


The Sun News of Myrtle Beach published a story about 
counterfeit notes that mentions another scheme to stretch 
the value of a dollar:

"A crackdown on fare fraud at Lymo has caused at least 
one bus rider to find a more creative and illegal way to 
beat the system.  The mass transit agency has found three 
counterfeit $1 bills in its fare boxes on three separate 
occasions in recent weeks, according to Myers Rollins Jr., 
Lymo's general manager.

The counterfeit bills started showing up after Lymo began 
an anti-fraud program called "Show Me the Money," in which 
riders must show their dollar bills and change to a bus 
driver before inserting the money into a fare box.

Before that program started, Rollins said, drivers sometimes 
would find wooden coins, pieces of paper and dollar bills 
torn in half in their fare boxes at the end of the day.

"Some riders would tear a dollar in half and fold it up 
and put it in the box," said Stephen Anderson, the authority's 
assistant general manager. "Then, they'd use the other half 
for the trip back. They'd get two rides for the price of one." 


>From the Thanhnien News comes this story of the 
Achievement of a Vietnames collector of world banknotes:

"A 33-year-old man has made it to Vietnam Guinness Book 
Center (Vietbooks), which records Vietnamese records, for 
owning currency notes from the most number of countries.
Ho Minh Hiep says he has collected paper currencies from 
222 countries and territories, adding he only lacks a 
Palestinian note to complete the whole global set."

"He has in his collection noted from territories which 
no longer exist in their original form.

He is also a numismatist – a coin collector – with a 
collection minted in 218 countries and territories. He 
has coins made in gold, silver, and bronze and from as 
long ago as the 19th century.

He has 200 Vietnamese bills, some of them narrating the 
country’s history and ancient features. Others are so 
old that Hiep has to go to great lengths to preserve them. 
These include notes issued in 1948 by the French colonial 
Indochinese government."

"Hiep says among his Vietnamese collection are several 
bills issued by the Northern government during the American 
War which are unique. Called Truong Son grocery notes, they 
were used as food coupons by the military.

The notes were issued in 1962 and, unusually, have the 
image of Ho Chi Minh on one side and nothing on the other 
– they are blank on one side.

The bills are of 1, 2, 5, and 10 dong denominations.

Hiep also has notes that were printed but never saw the 
light of day. The former Saigon printed batches of 5,000 
and 10,000 dong notes in 1975 and prepared to issue them 
when the regime fell. He says he found these rare notes 
in Singapore."

"Hiep became interested in collecting currency bills by 

In 1996, when he worked at the Tan Son Nhat International 
Airport duty free shop, a tourist presented him a South 
African note. “The unique feature of the bill set me off 
on my quest to collect global currencies,” he says.

He adds that the regular opportunities to meet foreigners 
helped him expand his collection day by day."

To read the complete article, see:  

[Our intrepid Southeast Asia reporter Howard Daniel hadn't 
seen the article, but he's now trying to contact the 
collector.  -Editor]


On January 24, The Associated Press published a story 
About the sale of a pioneer gold Beaver coin:

"A rare $5 Oregon gold coin minted in 1849 has fetched 
$125,000 from a collector who now has a link to a time 
when people in the Oregon Territory began to end a life 
of bartering with gold dust, beaver pelts, wheat, salmon 
and horses."

"If this coin could talk, what would it say?" said Rick 
Gately, a rare-coin dealer in La Grande who made the sale 
this month between the coin's owner in Rogue River and a 
buyer from La Grande."

"At the time the coin was minted, the Oregon Territory's 
merchants, hunters, trappers, sailors and Indian tribes 
numbered about 13,000 and needed a better medium of exchange 
than barter, said Donald H. Kagin of Tiburon, Calif., author 
of "Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States."

So in February 1849, the territorial legislature ordered 
the creation of a mint.

But the plan quickly went awry. Gen. Joseph Lane, the new 
territorial governor appointed by President Polk, arrived 
in Oregon City less than a month later and immediately 
halted the preparations." 

"But Kagin said the declaration did not stop eight "men of 
affairs" from immediately forming the "Oregon Exchange 
Company" and building their own private, illegal mint in 
Oregon City, fashioning their equipment from wagon wheels 
and scrap metal.

They began stamping out $5 Oregon Beaver coins, 6,000 in 
all, using yellow metal from the California gold fields.

The $5 gold pieces were engraved on one side with a picture 
of a beaver and a single initial of each of the men who 
started the mint. On the opposite side were the words, 
"Oregon Exchange Company" and "Native Gold."

The dies had two glaring errors. Instead of "O.T." for 
Oregon Territory, the coins had the letters "T.O." for 
Territory of Oregon." And a letter signifying one of the 
men, John Gill Campbell, was presented as a "G" instead 
of a "C."

"In their day, the coins quickly became known as "Beaver 
money." At the time, $3 would buy a Navy Colt revolver 
and $20 would get a frontiersman a prime piece of property 
or a suit of clothes, boots, sidearm and a horse, Gately 

Most of the coins, though, ended up in the pockets of 
the well-to-do. Gately noted that 1870s cowboys earned 
only about $1 a day." 


Bob Johnson forwarded this one.  It sounds familiar, but 
I don't think we've published it before: "A collector of 
rare books ran into an acquaintance who told him he had 
just thrown away an old Bible that he found in a dusty, 
old box. He happened to mention that Guten-somebody-or-other 
had printed it.

"Not Gutenberg?" Gasped the collector.

"Yes, that was it!" 

"You idiot! You've thrown away one of the first books 
ever printed. A copy recently sold at an auction for 
half a million dollars!" 

"Oh, I don't think this book would have been worth 
anything close to that much," replied the man. "It was 
scribbled all over in the margins by some guy named 
Martin Luther."


This week's featured web page is from the NGC article 
archive, about the John Sinnock / Selma Burke controversy 
over the design of the Roosevelt Dime. 

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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

There is a membership application available on the web site 
at this address:

To join, print the application and return it with your check 
to the address printed on the application. Membership is only 
$15 to addresses in the U.S., $20 elsewhere.  For those without 
web access, write to:

David M. Sundman, Secretary/Treasurer
Numismatic Bibliomania Society, 
P. O. Box 82 Littleton, NH 03561

For Asylum mailing address changes and other membership 
questions, contact David at this email address: 
dsundman at

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