The E-Sylum v9#10, March 5, 2006

esylum at esylum at
Sun Mar 5 20:14:07 PST 2006

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 9, Number 10, March 5, 2006:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers is Leon Majors.  Welcome aboard!  
We now have 863 subscribers.

My ISP decided to shut down for maintenance this evening, and 
as a result I've not been able to pick up this weekend's incoming 
email.  So my apologies to readers who sent in submissions that 
didn't make this issue; we'll catch up next week.  

Although shorter than normal, this issue does contain a number 
of interesting items, including a great piece by Dick Johnson on 
numismatics and the early thermoplastics industry, inspired by 
Alan Weinberg's recent submission.

Do you know which firm made coin blanks for Flying Eagle cents? 
Or wonder why old mint records refer to "dyes" rather than "dies" 
for striking coins?  Read on to find out.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Last week I published an announcement of Whitman's new book, 
"America's Greatest Currency Notes."  Bob Fritsch writes: "I 
was fortunate enough to get this book at the pre-issue price 
and save a couple of bucks.  Regardless of the price paid, 
the book is well worth the tariff.  Bowers' usual high 
standards shine through the book and the pictures are 

One lack I did notice, however, is that the price list did 
not contain totals.  Each individual description contained 
pricing information, plus there was a tabular table as an 
appendix.  I dropped these values into a spreadsheet and 
found that an investment of $121,396 in 1960 would have 
netted $8,808,250 in 2006.  Not a bad return.  Of course 
there were some notes listed that have never been sold and 
those were eliminated from my totals.  I sent the sheet to 
Dave along with my fan letter congratulating him on the book."
[In a conversation with Ed Krivoniak I mentioned a theory 
of mine that the rule changes a while back allowing the 
publication of full-color images of U.S. currency were a 
catalyst for the advance in popularity of these notes.  
They are indeed beautiful works of art, and that beauty 
just doesn't come across in black and white.  I'm sure many 
collectors (myself included) just didn't fully appreciate 
this fact until so many notes came to be pictured in color 
in auction catalogs and books.

I would also like to note that artist J.S.G. Boggs made a 
related prediction a number of years ago.  I've forgotten 
the details - it could have been at any one of the 
presentations I saw him give in the early 90s.  

Boggs said that the art community was beginning to recognize 
banknotes as legitimate artworks, and realizing that by 
comparison with other art prints, were a very good comparative 
value.  Boggs predicted that in time this demand from the art 
community would drive up the cost of better notes significantly.

One of Boggs' themes has been the general recognition of 
money as art - a note is, after all, a limited edition print.  
A very large print run of course, but a "limited" edition 
nonetheless.  When offering his Boggs Bills to bystanders he 
pointed out that his were works of art as well, and far more 
rare, with editions in the tens or at most hundreds.  -Editor]


Howard Spindel writes: "I was interested to read the discussion 
of computer-based reference material vs. traditional print media.  
Both have strengths and weaknesses.  Sitting at a computer will 
just never duplicate the same feeling I get from holding a book 
in my hands!

I offer the following up at the risk of "tooting my own horn", 
but it is my intent to contribute to the discussion rather than 
do that.  I'm looking to show people what can be accomplished - 
a computerized reference should be much more than a printed book 
that you can read on a computer.

As you may recall, I have been a longtime collector of shield 
nickels, especially varieties.  There has been one book published 
on shield nickel varieties - Ed Fletcher's excellent "The Shield 
Five Cent Series", which came out in 1994.  But shield nickel 
varieties are legion, and there are many that are not covered by 
Ed's book.  Furthermore, Ed's book sometimes lacks sufficient 
pictures to make accurate attributions, and new varieties are 
discovered all the time.  I even authenticated a new variety 

Many years ago I decided that I wanted to produce a new shield 
nickel variety reference.  I spent a great deal of time thinking 
about how I wanted this to work, and how best to handle the 
inevitable updates.  I eventually decided upon a computerized 
format that includes a data file for each variety and a custom 
program for viewing and manipulating the data.  I spent 30 years 
as a computer programmer, so this was a natural direction for me.  

I shipped the first copy last June.  Shield nickel varieties are 
not a terribly popular thing to collect, and I estimate that the 
worldwide potential interest is perhaps 50 people.  But I created 
the reference to fill my own need for a better reference, not to 
get rich.  The point I want to make is not that a shield nickel 
variety reference is available; the point is that technology applied 
to a numismatic reference yields a new kind of reference.

In the introduction to the manual for the program, which I call 
SNV (for Shield Nickel Viewer), I cite the following limitations 
of traditional print references for shield nickels (which also 
apply to most printed coin references): 

They were static, unable to adapt as new shield nickel varieties 
emerged or to correct errors 

They were limited by cost and space in the number of detailed 
photographs that could be presented. 

Without sufficient detailed photographs, they could be 
inadequate for distinguishing among similar varieties and 
confirming attributions
Contributions of new varieties by collectors required risky 
mailing of coins SNV is field updateable when new varieties are 
catalogued or when errors are detected in the database.  The 
program simply downloads new data files from a web site.  For 
each variety, SNV provides 5 to 8 detailed photos to enable 
accurate attribution (Ed's book has 1 photo for most coins, 
occasionally 2.)  While some collectors have still mailed me 
their coins for photographing and inclusion in SNV, there are 
some who have taken their own photographs and submitted the 
photographs to me electronically for inclusion in SNV.  

SNV contains numerous ways to search through its database 
to narrow down the field for variety attribution.

Anyone who would like to read more about SNV (and see 
sample photos) can go here:

At the above web page there is a free, downloadable trial 
version for anyone who would like to see how technology can 
be applied to a coin reference book.  The technology is 
independent of shield nickels, and could be applied to 
any series.

The manual is online here: "


Dan Hamelberg writes: "I have a set of the Coin Collectors Journal 
in blue cloth (Vol. 1 thru Vol 17).  Vols. 16 and 17 are bound into 
one.  They all have the title on the cover as David Lange describes.  
(Roman letters, etc.) The spine titles are a bit different.  Vols 1, 
2, 3, 4, 7. 8, and 9 have spine titles at the top in roman numerals.
Volumes 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16/17 have the spine titles 
applied the long way from top to bottom. The years published are 
also on all the spines of all the volumes.  I believe this is a 
complete set.  There are some slight color shade variations in some 
of the volumes., but they are all basically a textured medium blue 
cloth.  The significant variation is in Vol. 16/17.  It is more of 
a smooth medium blue instead of a more textured appearance as in 
the others."  


Fred Schwan writes: "I was enjoying my E-Sylum when I read Dick 
Johnson's discussion to the effect that a medal factory is not a 
mint. I loved it. I was ready for a great fight. This is the kind 
of picky point that I love. It is hard to catch Dick making such a 
terrible mistake. Before I started banging the keys, I went to my 
dictionary for support. Well, er, um. Good job, Dick!"


On Wednesday the Wall Street Journal published an article about 
the Ancient World Mapping Center at the University of North Carolina 
at Chapel Hill.  It is led by Richard J.A. Talbert, a professor of 
history and classics, who "is widely known in cartographic circles 
as the editor of the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World
(Princeton University Press, 2000)."

The Atlas was "the first work of its kind to be published since 
1875. Comprising 102 topographic maps and a 1,400-page map-by-map 
directory, it reveals in considerable detail the Greek and Roman 
world from about 1000 B.C. to A.D. 650, from the tip of the British 
Isles to North Africa, the Middle East and Western China. And it 
represents a unique application of the most modern cartographic 
methods to the graphic delineation of a world that is no more."

A number of free maps are available in multiple formats on the 
center's web site.  These may be of use to numismatic researchers 
in placing coins and coin finds into their historical context. 


Gar Travis forwarded an article about the fabulous libraries 
of the University of Cambridge, which includes a mention of 
numismatic literature.

"The famous Cambridge University Library, on West Road, is 
one of the greatest research libraries in the world.

Amazingly, it contains more than seven million books and 
periodicals, one million maps and many thousands of manuscripts, 
occupying more than one hundred miles of shelving - which extends 
by a further two miles every year.

Dating back to the early 15th Century, it is a "legal deposit 
library", which means it is entitled to claim without charge a 
copy of every book, journal, printed maps and piece of music 
published in Britain and Ireland."

"The Fitzwilliam Museum's collection of medieval manuscripts 
is unrivalled in public museums outside the Vatican, while its 
collection of 10,000 printed books assembled by Richard, 7th 
Viscount Fitzwilliam (1745-1816) is one of the most valuable 
historical and research collections in England.

Liz Fielden, assistant keeper/librarian at the Fitzwilliam said: 
"We have three libraries - the Founder's which houses the 
collections of rare books and manuscripts, the Numismatics, 
which has an important collection of publications relating to 
coins and medals, and the Reference, which holds more than 300,000 
books, catalogues and periodicals relating to the Fine Arts."

To read the complete article, see:


Dick Johnson writes: "Reading this article you are going to claim 
I am on a soapbox for Scovill Manufacturing Company of Waterbury 
(since so many of my replies mention this firm). This Connecticut 
firm made coin blanks for the U.S. Mint to strike Flying Eagle 
cents (continued making both cent and nickel blanks for U.S. Mint 
up until 1905), they struck coins for foreign governments. They 
struck the award medals for the Columbian Exposition (too big a 
job for the Philadelphia Mint, this took Scovill two years!). 

Scovill dominated the manufacture of metal street car tokens and 
sales tax tokens in the 20th century. I could go on mentioning 
numismatic items from Hard Times Tokens in 1833 to Abraham Lincoln
ferrotypes in 1865 to World War II victory pins, all made by this 
Waterbury firm. They were also a pioneer in thermoplastics.

Rubber was commercially vulcanized in Connecticut (after Goodyear's
experiments in NYC in 1844), leading to the use of other resins 
mixed with polymers to form "thermoplastics." Celluloid was mentioned 
by Katie Jaeger in her February Numismatist article on the medals 
of the American Institute (also mentioned in last week's E-Sylum). 
Alan Weinberg also commented last week and was correct in stating 
that hard rubber, gutta percha and vulcanite were early forms of
thermoplastics. This was the beginning of today's plastics industry. 

But it was the metal industry firms in central Connecticut valley 
which took the celluloid ball and ran with it. Experimenting, creating 
the tools and techniques to make the stuff. Commercializing it (like 
the first rubber shoe sole plant in Hamden CT). These firms were 
located from New Haven up into Massachusetts - including Scovill 
in Waterbury -- just after the Civil War when industry was budding.

In hindsight it seems, employees who worked at the large firms making
thermoplastics, broke away from these firms once they learned how 
easy it was to make the stuff. They created their own little cottage
factories (in small towns dotting the CT valley). 

They couldn't do this for coins and tokens. Large firms, like 
Scovill, had the costly rolling mills, upsetting machines and 
striking press - all expensive and requiring lots of space. Just 
the opposite for manufacturing thermoplastics. The press for making 
small thermoplastic objects - tokens were ideal! - was similar to 
and not much larger than a waffle iron! 

Mixing two components together and putting a dollop in the iron 
press and closing the lid - the heat and a some pressure made 
small products (tokens, buttons, and small parts, even combs). 
Set it up in an outbuilding on Monday, press it on Tuesday, and 
sell it on Wednesday. That easy!

Daguerreotype cases were also made of thermoplastics in the same 
manner. (Scovill was a pioneer in early photography and equipment, 
too. Of course they made these cases to display photographs printed 
on thin metal plates they also supplied.) Daguerreotype cases were 
formed from molds made by the same engravers who cut the big firm's 
dies. By adding chemical dyes to the resin and polymers they could 
even make the thermoplastic objects in color.

And this leads to an interesting story. Up to this time, the word 
for "die," the tool to strike coins, tokens and medals, was spelled 
"dye" in America. With chemical dyes in the plant at the same time, 
it was confusing. These very firms (including Scovill) ordered the 
spelling to "die" for striking tools. Keep spelling chemicals "dye."

You had to remember a "die" changes a shape, a "dye" changes a color.

Second interesting story. Hiram Washington Hayden (1820-1904) was 
hired by Scovill as a teenager to cut button dies. He rose through 
the ranks, learned business, worked for other companies, formed his 
own company with partners, Holmes, Booth and Haydens (with his 
brother). Prospered, innovative, he received 58 patents (including 
the technique for making metal tubing), owned multiple plants, 
became wealthy - in fact he is the only engraver (listed in my coin 
and medal artists directory) who became a 19th century millionaire! 

His mansion still stands today in Waterbury and he was one of the 
first installed in Waterbury's Hall of Fame. He remained an artist
throughout life and even submitted a design, at the invitation of 
the U.S. Treasury, for the silver dollar change in 1892, twelve 
years before he died.

Late in life he was asked what he was most proud of in his eventful 
life. He replied: It was the mold he created for a daguerreotype 

[This is fascinating information.  Thanks, Dick!  By the way, 
Scovill also manufactured U.S. Encased Postage Stamps for inventor/
entrepreneur John Gault.  -Editor]


Scott Seamans writes: "Here are a couple of oft-mispronounced 
numismatic names I thought sure somebody would have come up with:  
Krause is two-syllable Krau (as in cow)-zee, not Krauz or Kraus.  
Schjoth (with those two little dots over the o), author of the 
until-recently standard work on Ancient Chinese coins, is Showth, 
according to a Norwegian collector."


Vicken Yegparian writes: "A question about the Google search bar 
- I don't get it when I use the link to the archive offered at the 
end of the E-Sylum, but I got the Google bar when I used the links 
you provided. How do I consistently get the Google bar?"

[For now, the Google search bar is only on the new individual-article 
pages.  To get to it, drill down to an article. Eventually we'll put 
it on other pages of the site.  You can also do this directly from 
the Google web site by adding "" to your search. 

One user suggestion we were able to implement was to make searching the default choice for the Google search bar.  Thanks
to those who suggested it, and to John Nebel for a quick update to 
our archive pages. -Editor]


Recently we discussed golfer Jack Nicklaus' appearance on a note 
issued by Royal Bank of Scotland.  A recent article in Forbes 
magazine, sent in by a reader, listed five living non-heads of 
state appearing on money around the world (both coins and paper).  
No fair cheating - without peeking, can you name the other four 


The Numismatic Theatre schedule has been published for the upcoming 
American Numismatic Association National Money Show in Atlanta, 
Georgia, April 7-9. The presentations include:

Friday, April 7, 2006
1 p.m. - "The Untold Story of Confederate Coins" with James P. 
Bevill,reveals how Confederate coinage survived to tell a tale 
of intrigue and politics.

4 p.m. - "Coins and Commerce Along the Silk road; 5th to 7th 
Centuries" by ANA Gov. Prue Morgan Fitts, takes attendees on a 
5,000-mile journey on the fabled Silk Road.

Saturday, April 8, 2006
10 a.m. - "Parthia: The Forgotten Empire" by ANA Money Museum 
Curator Douglas A. Mudd, explores an almost-forgotten group of 
nomadic horsemen who were able to conquer, rule and survive for 
400 years during the Roman Empire.

4 p.m. - "What is Black and White and Read All Over?" by David 
Crenshawand Kenneth Bressett, explores the 60-year history of the 
"Red Book" and why it made author R.S. Yeoman a publishing legend.

[The Red Book talk was presented at the NBS meeting at the 
F.U.N. show in January.  If you missed that meeting, catch the 
repeat performance in Atlanta.  -Editor]


Last week I asked, "Are Mardi Gras Doubloons being edged out 
in popularity by beads?

Bob Fritsch writes: "The diminishing use of MG Doubloons by the 
various Krewes has been a problem for years.  Everyone riding on 
a float has to buy their own "throws".  It costs a lot to produce 
die-struck doubloons while there are cheaper items to carry the 
krewe logo.  MG cards are extremely popular as are beads, cups, 
and various other items.  Doubloons are there but fewer and fewer 
krewes are throwing them.  Arthur Hardy's MG Guide lists doubloon 
issuers each year.

I have been a member of the Crescent City Doubloon Traders (CCDT) 
for years and they have done a great job cataloging the various 
items coming off the floats, with emphasis on the doubloons of 
course.  Like everyone else down there, they were hit hard by the 
disaster, but are back in business and a couple of the members are 
working on a beads catalog.  Their references are valuable to 
collectors of MG material.  PO Box 24418; New Orleans, LA 


The Joong Ang Daily of South Korea reports that "North Korea 
has proclaimed itself a victim rather than a perpetrator of 
counterfeiting that Washington claims it had engaged in. 

The new round of positioning came just before a scheduled 
meeting between North Korean and U.S. officials in New York 
to discuss the U.S. charges and the sanctions it imposed as 
a result."

"North Korea watchers in Seoul saw Tuesday night's commentary 
as a preview of what it will argue when it meets the American 
officials. "The North is saying that it is willing to accept 
responsibility for counterfeit money that came into its 
possession accidentally," said Jung Chang-hyun of Kookmin 
"U.S. officials have suggested that the North must end its 
counterfeiting and prove that it had done so, perhaps by 
producing the plates used to make the $100 "supernotes" that 
are the focus of the U.S. allegations."

To read the complete story, see:


On March 2 The Korea Times published an article about the Currency 
Museum in Taejon:

"The new recently introduced 5,000 won banknotes are designed 
with advanced technologies to stem forgery as well as show the 
unique culture and long history of the nation. 

It seems that a currency represents the state of contemporary 
technology and culture, and that's what people can learn at 
the Currency Museum in Taejon. 

Opened in 1988, the Currency Museum houses about 12,000 items 
that show the history of the nation's bills and coins in its 
four exhibition sections _ the Coins Gallery, Banknote Gallery, 
Security Features Experience Room and Special Product section."

To read the complete article, see: 


Last week I asked, "Were there any official token issues of 
the U.S. government?"

Bob Leonard writes: "I think that OPA red points and blue points
would qualify, plus the Department of Justice Internment Camp 
tokens.  Both of these are World War II issues.  The Fugio cent, 
in my opinion, was intended as a coin."

[Of course!  How could I forget the Office of Price Administration
(OPA) tokens?  I agree with Bob that these and U.S. Internment camp 
tokens likely qualify as government-issued tokens.  Can anyone 
name any others?  -Editor]


Fred Reed writes: "My penpal Dick Johnson spoke too soon in the 
recent E-Sylum when he wrote:  "Would you ever take as serious 
anything written by Donn Pearlman, official court jester at the
Numismatist?" It just so happens Donn has the cover story in the 
upcoming issue of PAPER MONEY.  His glimpses and gleanings on the 
ABNCo archive (including exclusive photos) are the real deal NOT 
just jest."


John Frost writes: "The Barber Coin Collectors' Society (BCCS)
is currently conducting a census and rarity survey for Barber 
Quarters.  The BCCS is conducting this survey to determine the 
relative availability of the coins in the series.  The Census 
is designed to obtain a population distribution across different 
grades, and to see the relative scarcity based on what people 
actually own.  Respondents are asked to count all specimens (not 
just their highest graded coins of each date).  The Rarity Survey 
solicits any opinions that a respondent may have on the availability
/rarity of the better dates using R1 to R7 rarity ratings in the 
various grades.

This survey is open for all -- you do not need to be a member of 
BCCS to participate.  The submissions can be made anonymously.

There are two web pages for this project, one each for the Census 
and the Rarity Survey.  Or, there is also a single Excel spreadsheet 
for both parts that can be filled out instead, if that is easier for 
the respondent.  The results will be published this summer on the 
website and also in the BCCS Journal.

The deadline for submission to the survey is April 15.  It can be 
found at the BCCS website, 

There will be future surveys conducted for the other Barber coins:  
dimes, halves, and Liberty Nickels."


Alan V. Weinberg writes: "An observation regarding the references 
to Ohio dealer Tom Noe. I've been to several major coin shows since 
this story broke and apparently  a few dealers are going to the 
show's paging desk and having Tom Noe (pronounced No- eee, presumably 
no relation to the late Sydney P. Noe of the ANS and Massachusetts 
colonial silver monographs) paged to a particular dealer's table...
full knowing that Noe is not in attendance. The joke is getting old 
and stale. Particularly when the announcer pages Tom "No", leaving 
off the E in pronouncement." 


In the "I couldn't possibly make this stuff up if I tried" 
department,  MosNews and other news outlets reported that:

"Turkmenistan's president, Saparmurat Niyazov, has celebrated 
his 66th birthday by creating new gold and silver coins in 
honor of his books."

"For his last birthday, Niyazov, also known as Turkmenbashi, 
issued coins with his family tree on them.

Six new coins have books, one different book each, on one 
side. On the other, resides the presidential emblem"

"The book, which is studied in schools and to which convicts 
must swear their allegiance upon release from jail, provides 
moral guidance, including respecting your elders, and giving 
lots of jewelry to women. Last year, a copy was blasted into 
space on a Russian rocket, inside a container bedecked with 
the national flag. It is hoped that it will return to earth 
in 150 years."

Perhaps 150 years is too soon.  To read the complete article, see: 

[So, is anyone familiar with these coins?  -Editor]


This week's featured web page is about WWII rationing in the 
U.S., from "Washington Station", a look at life in the nation's 
capitol during World War II, written by Marguerite Howard 

"Book Four provided for the use of both red and blue tokens. 
These tokens were valued at one point each and would in the 
future be accepted as payment for an article or returned in 
change should the circumstances warrant. The new tokens were 
delivered direct to each grocer. In order to secure some, one 
first had to make a purchase, surrender a valid stamp and take 
his change in tokens.

They were made of a material very similar to hard cardboard, 
dyed either red or blue, and a little smaller in size than a 
dime - but to many of us decidedly more important. The real 
beauty of the tokens was that, unlike the coupons, they never 
expired. If one of your ration coupons was nearly outdated, 
you could make one small purchase, receive tokens in change 
and save them to use another month."

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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