The E-Sylum v9#11, March 12, 2006

esylum at esylum at
Sun Mar 12 18:08:14 PST 2006

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 9, Number 11, March 12, 2006:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers is Jay Beeton of the American 
Numismatic Association.  Welcome aboard!  We now have 865 

We've got a big issue this week with something for everyone.  
The latest news on Jacob Perkins' mint building is good - a 
plan is afoot to acquire and restore the historic site in 

A University professor is embarking on a new study of the 
value of ancient Roman coins, and a hoard of ancient coins 
seized by U.S. customs officials is returned to Saudi Arabia.

A researcher at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston seeks 
information on a numismatic collection cataloger who published 
"one of the most entertainingly pompous pieces of writing" he
has seen in a long time.

The Christian Science Monitor published an interesting interview
with an engraver at the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, 
and the Orange County Register published a great article about 
people in the coin business in southern California.  

For banknote collectors comes word of the first note to 
incorporate a moving image as an anti-counterfeiting device. 

For lovers of hobby controversy there is a stir over autograph
authentication at Collector's Universe and further revelations 
in the diamond grading scandal.

Here are some quiz questions for readers, but don't look too 
hard for all the answers directly in this issue.  Bonus points 
for anyone who can answer correctly without reading the completed 
articles linked to in this issue:  

   Which numismatic personality has "a remote-controlled monkey head 
   on his desk that cackles at the press of a button"?  (it's not me, 
   but that sounds cool)

   Which rare coin firm advertised on a restaurant placemat?

   Which coin grading service displays Yap stone money in their 
   office?  Is it slabbed?

   And finally, what do a Girl Scout and a Hooters waitress have
   in common?  Read on to find out!

Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society

REPORTS ON KOBLE SALES 99, 100, 101, 102

George Kolbe has issued a press release with information on the 
prices realized for his 99th sale, and previews of the upcoming 
100th, 101st and 102nd sales:

"Auction Sale 99 Results: Auction Sale 99, closing on March 9th, 
2006, was quite successful. Over 86% of the lots in the sale sold, 
bringing more than the total of ALL of the estimates. Some of the 
sale highlights include: perhaps the highest price ever realized 
for a regular issue non-plated Chapman sale, achieved by the brothers’ 
April 13-14, 1896 stamp sale, selling at $1,840; it was followed by 
another non-plated April 22, 1911 Henry Chapman Siedlecki sale which 
brought $920; William Butler Yeats’ elusive work on Irish Free State 
coins brought $460 on a $200 estimate; the catalogue of the first 
Toronto coin auction sale was avidly sought after, selling for $805 
on a $250 estimate; Q. David Bowers’ first numismatic publication 
realized an impressive $862; a complete set of Davenport works on 
crowns and talers sold for $805; the monumental 1913 Tolstoi catalogue 
of Russian coins brought $862; plated Thomas Elder catalogues of the 
1908 Gschwend and Wilson sales were in demand, bringing $690 and 
$661 respectively; a very fine first edition/first issue Red Book 
sold for $1,955; Zelada’s 1778 catalogue of Aes Grave in the Cardinal 
de Zelada collection was estimated at $250 and sold for $431; and a 
special leather-bound edition of C. Wyllys Betts’ landmark 1894 
American Colonial History Illustrated by Contemporary Medals saw 
spirited bidding, finally selling for $2,875 on a $350 estimate.

Announcing Auction Sales 100-102: On Saturday, June 3, 2006, George
Frederick Kolbe/Fine Numismatic Books will conduct their 100th, 101st, 
& 102nd auction sales at the Long Beach Coin and Collectibles Expo. 
Each catalogue may be ordered by sending $15.00 to Kolbe at P. O. 
Drawer 3100, Crestline, CA 92325, or copies of all three catalogues 
may be obtained by sending $25.00. The catalogues are also accessible 
free of charge at the firm’s web site ( Details of 
each sale follow.

Auction Sale 100: One hundred lots on various topics, including: a
remarkably fine copy of Ricaud de Tiregale’s superbly produced 1772 
work on Russian medals; Pope Innocent XI’s superb large paper copy of 
Claud du Molinet’s classic 1679 work on Papal medals; W. W. C. Wilson’s
Deluxe Edition of the classic 1913 Adams-Woodin work on United States
pattern coins; a collection of autographs of over 40 early American
Numismatic Association members; a handsome early edition of the first
numismatic book, printed in 1524; an exceptionally fine set of 
Conbrouse’s classic catalogue of “Monnaies Nationale de France”; an
extremely rare 1820 work by William Congreve on methods to prevent 
counterfeiting of bank notes; an exceptionally fine 1875 “Nova 
Constellatio” edition of Crosby’s classic work on American colonial 
coins; an 1867 photographic record of the medals of David d’Angers; 
a very fine leather-bound set of Habich’s massive work on German 
Renaissance medals; one of only five large paper copies of the first
substantial work on American coins; Edward T. Newell’s annotated 
personal copies of several of his most important works on Greek coins; 
a charming early nineteenth century illustrated manuscript on 
Portuguese coins; a very fine example of one of only twenty-three 
copies of the 1916 edition of Pye/Waters on 18th century British 
tokens; classic works on Napoleonic medals; important original 
letters by James Ross and A. Loudon Snowden; a very fine original 
set of Corpus Nummorum Italicorum; etc.

Auction Sale 101: Part I of the extensive American numismatic 
library formed by Alan Meghrig. Included is a complete set of the 
American Journal of Numismatics, each volume individually bound; 
perhaps the first published photograph of American coins, depicting 
colonial coins in the collection of Dr. Charles Clay; Dr. French’s
extensively annotated copy of the 1883 Andrews work on large cents; 
a very fine 1923 edition of S. H. Chapman’s work on 1794 cents; an 
original 1892 Dr. Hall work on Connecticut coppers; a rare illustrated 
1856 article on the San Francisco Mint; Copy No. 1, signed, of 
Newcomb’s work on 1801, 1802, and 1803 cents; a fine copy of the 
rare 1870 edition of the Maris work on 1794 cents; sets of The 
Numismatist, Mehl’s Numismatic Monthly, and Scott’s Coin Collector’s
Journal; Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte’s inscribed set of Loubat’s 
“Medallic History”; etc.

Auction Sale 102: Attinelliana, the remarkable collection of rare 
early American numismatic publications and broadsides formed by 
John W. Adams."

[Wow, wow, and triple-wow!  -Editor]


Gary Trudgen, CNL Editor writes: "The April 2006 issue of 
The Colonial Newsletter (CNL) has been published. 

First, Brian Danforth explores the symbolism found on Wood's 
Rosa Americana coinage.  Specifically, he studies why Wood, 
an ironmonger, promoter, and moneyer, would chose a Tudor style 
rose as the prominent central device on the reverse of this 
coinage.  Brian's research also leads him to conclude that 
John Croker, chief engraver at the London Tower Mint, is the 
most likely person to have engraved the Rosa Americana dies.

Next, one of the most important books on money in early America 
was written by our contributing editor, Dr. Philip Mossman.  
Titled Money of the American Colonies and Confederation: A 
Numismatic, Economic, and Historical Correlation, this magnum 
opus was published in 1993 by The American Numismatic Society.  
Interested in correcting discovered errors in the book, Dr. 
Mossman first published an errata list in 1997 within CNL.  
With the hope of someday publishing a second edition of this 
work, he has continued to compile a list of errors.  His second 
errata list appears in this issue.

Finally, minting errors on the coinages that circulated in 
pre-Federal America are not uncommon.  Our final paper, authored 
by Dr. Roger Moore and Dr. Philip Mossman, discusses die clashing, 
die caps, and brockages as found in these coinages.  How die caps 
and brockages occur and their relationship to die clashing is 
described.  Several error coins are shown to illustrate discussions 
within the text and, importantly, a counterfeit George III farthing 
die cap is shown and described.  Die caps have been illustrated 
and described in modern coinage but never, until now, in a pre-
Federal coinage.  To help the reader follow the discussion, three
educational plates at the end of the paper illustrate the various 
topics with line drawings.  Errors that occurred during minting 
are a topic of great interest to many numismatists and this paper 
is a significant contribution to the understanding of these three 
specific events.

CNL is published three times a year by The American Numismatic 
Society, 96 Fulton Street, New York, NY 10038.  For inquires 
concerning CNL, please contact Juliette Pelletier at the preceding 
postal address or e-mail pelletier at or telephone (212) 
571-4470 ext. 1311."


Ed Snible writes: "I've added the 32 plates of R. S. Pooles's 
"BMC Ptolemies" to my web site. 

Poole's "BMC Ptolemies" was published in 1883. It is now in 
the public domain.  Unfortunately, it is quite out-of-date.  
Many of Poole's attributions were shown to be incorrect by 
Svoronos in 1904-08.  (That book is online at Ed Waddell's 
web site: ).

272 coins are pictured in "BMC Ptolemies".  To make the work 
more useful to a present-day audience, I've given Sear numbers 
for 105 of the coins.  Sear's "Greek Coins and their Values" 
cites specimens in the British Museum; so the Sear numbers I've 
given are the actual coins described by Sear -- and often 
unpictured -- in his book.

Unlike my previous BMC-scanning projects, the plates didn't 
come from my own work or a HN volunteer.  All of the plates 
came from Google Print, which recently scanned a first edition 
at Stanford University.  Because Google has made the entire 
"BMC Ptolemies" available online, I've been able to link each 
plate to the page where the coin is described.

I would have rather done a more useful BMC volume, but Ptolemies 
is the first BMC Greek that Google has fully put online.  Designing 
web navigation for the plates lets me experiment with different 
structures.  Good navigation will become important soon -- Google 
is putting so many coin books online -- it seems like there is a 
new one every day."

[Ed's note first appeared March 3 on the CoinWebs Yahoo group.  
CoinWebs is for people who manage numismatic web sites.  To join, 
see:  -Editor]


A large number of Whitman Publishing's recent productions and 
several others were reviewed in Bill Murray's annual book article 
for COINage’s  2006 Coin Collector’s Yearbook.  Bill offers these 
summaries on a few selected books for E-Sylum readers: 

"Roger Burdette’s Renaissance of American Coins is “awesome 
(It) examines the origin, creation and production of the 1916 
subsidiary silver coinage and the 1921 Peace dollar 

 published materials 
 (and) original sources.”

“Peter Vesilind’s Lost Gold of the Republic, offers two interesting
narratives:  “
 the exploits of deep-sea explorers Gregg Stemm 
John Morris (and) the story of the S. S. Republic 
commissioned in 1853
discovered in 1700 feet of water (in 2003 
with) more than 51,000 coins and 13,000 artifacts.”

Collecting just for fun is emphasized in Fred Reed’s Show Me the 
Money about “prop” money for movies, television and stage with 
more than 300 entries and (surprise) with “more than 100 
contributors” already engaged in searching for this material."

[Bill's book reviews have been a fixture for years in the Collector's
Yearbook, making the issue well worth it for anyone trying to keep
their library up to date with the latest publications.  Other titles
reviewed include Dave Lange's History of the United States Mint and 
Its Coinage, Ron Guth and Jeff Garrett's United States Coinage, A 
Study by Design Types, Lange's A Guide Book of Modern United States 
Proof Coin Sets, Million Dollar Nickels, Mysteries of the Illicit 
1913 Liberty Nickels Revealed, and Robert Knauss' Standing Liberty 
Quarters: Varieties and Errors.  -Editor]

Dick Johnson writes: "While channel surfing Saturday morning I 
came upon a book discussion on a biography of Nellie Tayloe Ross. 
The author, Teva J. Scheer, spoke at length about her subject, 
who broke a couple of gender barriers in America. Ross was the 
first governor of a state (Wyoming) and the first female Director 
of the Mint (under Franklin D. Roosevelt).
Thanks to C-Span 2 we learned from the author that Ross ran for 
governor to replace her deceased husband because she was broke. 
The author researched her entire life and found this was a 
constant trait -- striving for a goal and achieving it.
The book, entitled "Governor Lady - The Life and Times of Nellie 
Tayloe Ross" was published November 3, 2005. It calls itself the 
"official Nellie Tayloe Ross" biography (perhaps the only one?). has it available at $22.02."


E-Sylum contributor Dick Hanscom of Alaska Rare Coins recently 
sold an interesting item of numismatic ephemera on eBay:

"NUMISMATIC PAPER PLACE MAT. "Coins of the United States. I
nformation from the Research Staff of EMPIRE COIN CO., INC., 
Johnson City, N.Y." Printed red on white with scalloped edges, 
it features information on the Birch Cent, Indian Cent, Stella, 
Lincoln Cent, Buffalo Nickel, Mercury Dime, Liberty Standing 
Quarter, Washington Quarter, Liberty Walking Half Dollar and 
the Franklin Half Dollar. 

Empire Coin Co. was one of Q. David Bower’s firms. Wonder if 
he remembers these!"

To see the full auction listing, go to: 

[I asked Dave, another one of our E-Sylum regulars, and he
writes: "This must be one-of-a-kind in terms of survival! I 
believe these were made circa 1958-1960 and used for a while 
in the Crystal Lunch Room (a few doors away from 252 Main St., 
Johnson City, NY)."

When I asked Dick where he managed to locate such a rare item, 
he said "From a pile of stuff on top of my desk!  Now, if memory 
serves me, I got two of them in a collection that we purchased
here in Fairbanks. Don't ask how they got here. I haven't a clue."

Congratulations to winning bidder Fred Weinberg (he bought both 
- these may be "two-of-a-kind", unless anyone can report another 
sighting).  -Editor]


Dick Hanscom forwarded a link to the latest story about the 
old Jacob Perkins mint building in Newburyport, MA.

"The Historical Society of Old Newbury is proposing trading a 
piece of land behind its Cushing House Museum headquarters for 
the historic mint building on Fruit Street.

The swap would be the first step in a $500,000 project to 
renovate the former currency-printing plant and turn it into 
a museum honoring one of Newburyport's greatest inventors.

The 200-year-old building, which has been used recently as a 
garage and storage building, sits in the back yard of a house 
at 18 Fruit St. owned by local attorney James Lagoulis.

The building was the home of Jacob Perkins, who invented the 
first secure printing technology for U.S. currency. His method 
and the Fruit Street building were used to print currency that 
was distributed across the East Coast." 

"This building is extraordinarily significant," said David Mack, 
co-president of the society. "It was the first truly functioning 
bill-printing mint. It has a certain degree of national importance."

"Mack hopes to seal the deal before the society goes before 
Community Preservation Committee with its request for $184,500 
to support the first phase of the mint restoration project. The 
society is one of 11 agencies and groups seeking a share of $800,000 
in community preservation money available this year. The money is 
raised through a surcharge on property taxes and state matching 

That initial work would take a year to complete. It would include 
structural repairs to the roof, floorboard replacement and period-
appropriate restoration of the brick facade, chimney, moldings and 
entryway. Interior repairs would include the construction of new 
staircases, elimination of steel beams and installation of correct 
brick flooring.

"We see it as a fully functioning adjunct to the current museum," 
Mack said. "The goal is to have a central place portraying what 
Perkins did and the importance of what he did. We want to do it 
and we want to do it right."

The society is seeking money from other local and national sources,
including the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American 
Bank Note Company, the successor to the company that absorbed 
Perkins' business."

To read the complete article, see:


Arthur Shippee forwarded a link from the Explorator newsletter 
about a new study of Roman silver coins:

"Dr Matthew Ponting, from the University’s School of Archaeology, 
Classics and Egyptology, is investigating the chemical composition 
of the coins to further understanding of how and where they were 
made. Dr Ponting believes that analysis of the coins will also 
shed more light on the political and economic issues of the Roman 

"Dr Ponting said: “For the first time we are able to use a 
combination of chemical and isotopic analysis on these coins. 
Chemical analysis will give useful trace element ‘finger prints’ 
telling us about the type of ores exploited and the technology 
used in smelting and refining the metal.” 

The team is analysing the coins by drilling a small hole in 
their outer edge to get beneath the treated surface and investigate 
their different layers. 

Dr Ponting added: “By measuring the isotopes of lead in the coins 
it is often possible to ascertain where that metal came from. This 
is done by comparing the isotopic 'signature’ of the silver coin, 
with isotopic ‘signatures’ of known Roman silver mining regions. 
In this way I hope to be able to investigate where Rome was getting 
its silver from.” "

"Dr Ponting said: “In the 1970s a study documented the silver 
contents of Roman Imperial silver coins by analysing their surface. 
Until recently this was the principal reference for economic 
historians on the monetary policies of the Roman Empire. 

“During the 1990s, however, historians realised that many Roman 
silver coins were deliberately treated to remove some of the copper 
from their surface, giving impure coins the appearance of being 
pure and disguising the debasement of the currency. Analysis of 
the coins’ surface had therefore overestimated their silver content.”

To read the complete article, see: 


"Bank governor Mervyn King commissioned a security review on 
the day of the 22 February raid in Tonbridge, Kent. 

A preliminary report by the bank's deputy governor has 
recommended measures to make note storage and distribution 
less vulnerable to crime. 

The cash-handling industry has also taken steps to boost 

"Almost £20 million stolen in the raid at the depot has 
since been recovered. 

Four men and a woman have been charged in connection with 
the raid and are due to appear at Maidstone Crown Court 
on Monday." 

To read the complete article, see: 


In his "Joys of Collecting" column in the March 13, Dave Bowers 
asks "Is there any record of any sitting president besides 
Washington ever visiting a United States Mint?"

I believe the answer is yes, as I recall reading of such a visit 
while doing some research on Joseph Saxton, who served at the 
Mint from 1837-1843.  President Martin Van Buren visited the mint 
and was shown, among other things, a die-engraving pantograph 
machine in operation.  Can our readers point to any other 
Presidential visits?  -Editor.


Patrick McMahon writes: "I am researching some of the numismatic 
collections at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (where I work) 
and the more I learn the more questions I seem to have. Often 
those questions are as much about numismatic history as they 
are about our collections themselves. I am hoping that maybe 
some E-Sylum readers can help me learn more about someone who 
catalogued coins for us in 1902. 

In our records the cataloguer’s name is Prichard. We have 
several old ledgers which were designed specifically for 
listing and describing coins and they are filled with handwritten
descriptions of many (but far from all) of our earliest numismatic
acquisitions. The largest collection entered into these ledgers 
is that of Augustine Shurtleff (about 4,800 pieces bequeathed in 
January 1901) and the cataloguer signs off at the end of this 
group with “Here ends modern section of Shurtleff Collection of 
Coins; entirely registered by A. H. C. Prichard, (designer of 
this volume), in volumes i, ii, iii of this Register, June 1902.”
There is at least one other volume which he signs and claims 
to have designed. 

The Shurtleff collection includes US and world coins but Prichard 
is clearly most knowledgeable (and most descriptive) of the US, 
British, and Canadian issues. For the English pieces he often 
lists Grueber numbers and in other cases will give citations to 
the American journal of Numismatics for further details. He does 
this with Canadian tokens, for example, citing R. W. McLachlan 
and using his numbers. He sometimes cites Crosby as well. 

The binder and printer of the ruled pages is a Boston firm (J. L.
Fairbanks & Co. Stationers) but what little I have been able to 
find seems to imply that the cataloguer was British and I am 
curious about him and how the MFA might have come to engage him. 

A search of the Numismatic Index of Periodicals turns up only 
one reference and this gives the name as A. H. Cooper-Prichard. 
I am reasonably sure that this is the same man because the article 
is about the proper way to catalogue coins and he claims to have 
spent many years identifying and cataloguing coins for museums and 
private collections. This is in 1911, and the article is only one 
long paragraph. It is one of the most entertainingly pompous pieces
of writing I have seen in a long time. My favorite bit is “To omit 
a single detail of known information, regarding a coin or medal, 
whether on the specimen itself or outside, is unpardonable. Almost 
equally unpardonable is it to place one word too much in such a 
description. That the greatest numismatic writers have sinned in 
both these ways is nothing in favor of such carelessness any more 
than bad jokes are excusable because Shakespeare, to please the 
inferior sort amongst his audience, disfigured his writings with 

This builds to a full froth, calling for “definite laws of 
expression” and ends with a suggested 53 pieces of information 
that ought to be included when cataloguing coins. I really want 
to know — can there be more of this out there? Does anyone know 
more about him? Other museums or collectors he may have worked 

Google and library catalogue searches have so far lead to three 
seemingly non-numismatic books (The Buccaneers in 1927; 
Conversations with Oscar Wilde in 1931—apparently fictional, and 
translation of a History of the Duchy of Luxembourg). He also 
appears to have contributed to Oxford University’s journal, Notes 
and Queries, and several of the references there are numismatic 
in focus. 

Our library doesn’t have electronic access to that database and 
I haven’t had the opportunity yet to check the physical journals 
(or the books) elsewhere. If all of these are by the same man, 
his full name is Arthur Henry Cooper-Prichard and he was born in 
1874. I would be grateful for any information or suggestions that 
can help confirm who he was and help us develop some context for 
his work here at the MFA.

The reference quoted above is “Proposed Arrangement of a Catalogue 
of Coins” from the American Journal of Numismatics, v.45, #3, 
July 1911 (pp.157-58) if anyone wants to read it in full.  Thanks!"


Alan V. Weinberg writes: "With reference to Dick Johnson's article
concerning the thermoplastics industry of the mid 19th century and 
its influence over tokens, medals  and presentation cases for medals 
and tintypes:
Scovill of Waterbury Ct was a major influence, as Dick Johnson says.
But a truthful legend in numismatics has been that George Fuld (and 
his dad Melvin?)  actually visited Scovill in the late 1950's or 
60's and came away with many thousands of gem Uncirculated rare 
tokens from their archives. This hoard accounts for the majority 
of Gem Unc Civil War tokens and old  trade tokens known today. And 
possibly Hard Times tokens.
I'm certain George Fuld receives E-Sylum weekly and perhaps he'd 
be willing to  recount for E-Sylum the story surrounding his visit 
to Scovill and how he succeeded in gaining access to the hoard, some 
details of the hoard, etc . I'm certain the matter hasn't been 
previously addressed in print and would be of great interest to 
collectors.  Next to John Ford (now deceased) and QDB, I think
George's memory would be the most rewarding repository of stories 
concerning mid -1900's numismatics."


Also regarding last week's item by Dick Johnson on the Scovill 
company, Neil Shafer writes: "Neat information on Scovill- I 
would like to add the fact that the company also issued two 
series of Depression Scrip in 1933.  The first consisted of 
altered bearer checks of 1, 2, 5 and 10 dollars, all dated Mar. 
4, 1933.  The second issue, dated Mar. 11, had only 2 values, 1 
and 5 dollars, and showed portraits of two men who I assume are 
the founders of the company.  All are fairly scarce."

[On Google I located a cached copy of a Lyn Knight sale of a 
lot of four of the Scovill depression scrip notes.  The one 
dollar denomination is pictured.


Katie Jaeger writes: "Thanks, Howard Spindel, for adding to the 
discussion of the usefulness of different ways of publishing 
coin books.  Howard described a computerized format, but there 
is also a way to update works in book form.  In the 1980s, I 
managed the copy editing department for the American Society of 
Mechanical Engineers, Codes and Standards Division.  One of the 
books we published was the 12,000-page Boiler and Pressure Vessel 
Code.  This contained the requirements for building every pressure-
containing vessel from hot water heaters to steam boilers to 
nuclear reactors.  As you can imagine, it was critical that its 
information be accurate, and kept up to date as technology evolved. 
It was penned by 600 authors - mechanical engineers on various 
committees around the U.S.  Is this beginning to sound like a coin 
book?  Expensive to the consumer, lots of contributors, constantly 
changing information, need for frequent updates?  Obviously, we 
couldn't ship out 12,000 pages annually. 

Instead, we sent out quarterly revisions on looseleaf pages. Each 
section of the book was housed in a looseleaf binder, and each 
quarter, we sent out only those pages that had been revised, in a 
different color than the main edition.  When the new pages arrived, 
the engineer would simply throw out the old pages, and pop in the 
new.  Then we brought out a new edition every three years.  So 
anyone who subscribed to an edition, would automatically receive 
all addenda through the end of that edition.  I believe this format 
would work well for coin books too.  I'd be interested to hear 
other author's opinions of it."

[Authors have sent out updates and errata for numismatic books, 
but I don’t know of any published in loose-leaf format with 
updates in mind.  -Editor]


Serge Pelletier writes: "I would like to weigh in on the 
electronic numismatic reference debate.  My most recent catalogue 
"Standard Catalogue of Canadian Municipal Trade Tokens, Vol. 4 - 
Ontario" is available in two formats: book only and book and CD.  
Since most coin collector are tactile by nature, i.e. they like 
to touch things (that's why they want coins, not photos of coins), 
I thought that a CD alone would not be of interest.  But I know 
that I personally love the electronic format because it allows 
me to search on words.  The CD simply contains a locked pdf 
version of the catalogue, which can be easily searched, nothing 
too fancy.  It also contains colour photographs of some of the 

Also, our newly release quarterly magazine, "The Gazette of 
Municipal Numismatics" is available in two formats: old fashioned 
paper and electronic.  

Subscribers to the electronic version receive a low-resolution 
locked pdf file by email at the time of issue.  At the end of 
the year, they will receive a CD with high-resolution, printable 
pdf files of each of the issue.

The hope is that a researcher will be able to utilize these new 
tools in the future.  Would it not be great to be able to get 
the Numismatist in such a format or the Standard Catalog of World 
Coins?  I'm certain that all the theme collectors are saying YES 
right now.

I most admit that I did subscribe to Coin World online and that 
I was sadly disappointed because of the low resolution and 
"un-natural" format when you zoom in on an article.  I would 
be interested to hear what folks think of our approach for The 
Gazette.  Would they like that approach for other publications 
such as Numismatic News, World Coin News, Coin World?"

[Personally, I don't like .pdf files and prefer to view online 
periodicals with full image resolution directly via a browser, 
as long as the site also provides a printable format.  Most 
mainstream web publishers adhere to this format.  Many require 
registration but still allow free access to their content.  
Others, like the Wall Street Journal, require a paid subscription.
The WSJ goes even further by requiring additional payment for 
viewing archived content more than a few weeks old.  Searches 
can locate any article in the archive.  

This does require a big investment on the part of the publisher, 
so .pdf distributions still make a lot of sense as a way for 
smaller organizations and authors to distribute content.  But 
if the right pricepoints are chosen I think this could be a 
beneficial model for mainstream numismatic publishers and their 

Access to the archive would be a huge boon to researchers and 
casual readers alike.  Today, decades worth of hobby material 
has been published, but remains all but inaccessible because of 
the difficulty in storing, indexing and accessing back issues of 
the weekly publication. -Editor]


Ken Barr writes: "I've also seen a number of Government Printing 
Office (GPO) small paper chits good for small amounts of money, 
generally less than a dime, presumably for use in making small 
refunds without disbursing cash.  Depending on one's definition 
of "token", these may or may not be included also."


An alert reader forwarded a link to this March 2 article in The 
Christian Science Monitor which contains an interesting interview 
with an engraver at the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, 
with comments by Gene Hessler. The article mentions a new software 
system being tested by the BEP to help automate some engraving 
work. Here are a few excerpts.

"Chris Madden's job would drive most artists crazy. He works 
inches away from his canvas - a blank piece of steel - staring 
through an antique brass magnifier with his left eye, hand carving 
the lines and dots that form a meticulously detailed picture. 
Working this way, it takes months to complete a portrait."

"Mr. Madden is a bank-note engraver working out of a heavily 
guarded seventh-floor studio at the Bureau of Engraving and 
Printing in Washington. His work is on display, most likely, 
at a wallet near you. That's his Treasury building, for example, 
on the back of the new $10 bill, set to roll out Thursday."

"An artist by training, Madden joined the Bureau after seeing 
an ad at Ohio State University, where he received his fine arts 
degree. In 1988, he began the Bureau's 10-year apprentice program, 
the last person to do so, although the Bureau recently began 
recruiting two new apprentices."

"Traditionally, the engraver's art has been passed from father 
to child along with the specialized tools. Madden was the first 
apprentice without a family connection: He comes from coal miners. 
His upbringing, though, inspired his career choice. The Bureau, 
he notes, is an industrial facility, a factory, which is closer 
to his blue-collar roots."

"Another item on the desk represents perhaps a bigger threat 
to the engravers' art - a computer. Madden is six months into a 
test of new software that allows him to draw the fine lines and 
dashes of an engraved portrait on the screen. He zooms in to 
demonstrate his working view - an unrecognizable hash of lines 
and dots - and erases one with the click of a mouse, something 
he can't do with a burin on steel."

"Madden thinks the engraver's art will continue into the computer 
age. He can't imagine anyone who wasn't a trained engraver creating 
the delicate lines that come together to form a portrait or landscape 
in miniature. "The more you do it in its classical style, the more 
you appreciate it," he says.

To read the complete article, see: 


The ICE man cometh.  Gar Travis forwarded this article from 
The Washington Times about the seizure of a hoard of ancient 
coins by Customs officials:

"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has returned 
to the Saudi government more than 130 pounds of ancient coins 
that agents seized from a man who had removed them illegally 
from a shipwreck in the Red Sea. 

"Artifacts such as these coins are not trinkets that can be pilfered 
and sold to the highest bidder," said Department of Homeland Security
Assistant Secretary Julie L. Myers, who heads ICE. "To their rightful
owners, these artifacts are priceless items that are cherished and 
proudly displayed as a testament to their cultural history." 

A tip by a confidential informant to ICE in Miami resulted in an
investigation that led agents to a Key West, Fla., man who admitted 
to taking the coins improperly while spearfishing in an area near 
Jidda in Saudi Arabia in 1994, said ICE spokesman Marc Raimondi." 

To read the complete story, see 


The Orange County Register of Santa Ana, CA published a nice 
article March 9th about the coin business in southern California.  
The article features Steve Contursi of Rare Coin Wholesalers, Jeff 
Howard of PCGS, Michael Haynes, CEO of Collectors Universe, and 
Steve Deeds, president of Bowers and Merena, and Dwight Manley.  
Here are a few excerpts.  Be sure to go to the newspaper's site 
and check out the sixteen photos accompanying the article.

"Manley, a rare-coin collector, sports agent and real estate 
developer. Manley, 40, declined to say how much his collection 
is worth.  Unlike most collectors, who prefer coins in mint 
condition, he prefers coins that have been circulated. His 
favorites include his first coin, a 1909 penny found in a coffee 
can, and the first coin he bought, a 1794 penny that cost $400 
in 1982.

"Coins are a history you can hold in your hands," he said. 
"They tell a story. They changed in size and metallic content 
because of recessions and wars. To me, they're like a time 

Manley considers coin collecting an educational hobby."

"Contursi turned his hobby into a profession. His personal 
collection is his privately held company's $30 million inventory, 
which he trades to support himself and 16 employees. He began 
collecting at age 7, scrounging for pennies to fill a blue Whitman 
coin album. The son of a taxi driver and a meter maid living in 
the Bronx, Contursi said he was too poor to collect nickels or 
dimes. He picked through rolls of pennies for rarities, devoured 
coin newsletters, haunted coin shows and prowled coin shops.

"I learned I could buy at one shop and go across town and sell 
what I bought for a profit," he said. "Here I am as a kid, selling 
to crusty old veterans, and I realized that not everyone sees the 
same value in the same thing. What I was doing was arbitraging."

Contursi enrolled in a Ph.D. program in physics at the University 
of Minnesota, moonlighting in a coin shop to pay for graduate 
school. But instead of earning his doctorate, he bought the coin 
shop. In 1988, he moved to Orange County, Calif., to escape the 

"I thought, `What am I doing in this tundra?'" he said. "All I 
needed was a phone and a good airport."

"His newest deal is selling a stash of rare cash: 3,600 U.S. 
$1 bills and Italian 1,000-lire notes salvaged from the safe 
in the Andrea Doria, a cruise ship that sank in the Atlantic 50 
years ago."

"I fell in love with the story," he said.

On the night of July 25, 1956, as the cruise ship steamed 
toward New York, it rammed into another liner and sank. Contursi 
was only 4 when the ship went down, but the event lived in his 
imagination, fueled by his Italian-American relatives' concerns 
that they could have been on the doomed vessel.

In 1981, divers recovered the Andrea Doria's safe, anticipating 
a treasure of jewels. Instead, they found only the bursar's cash, 
tattered and faded after decades underwater. "I haven't decided 
on the price yet," he said, "These are the last remaining mementos 
of a historic event. Once they're gone, they're gone."

To read the full article (registration required) see: 


Sweden's Riksbank plans to introduce "new, safer 50 kronor and 
1,000 kronor notes on March 15th"

"The Riksbank will be the first central bank in the world to 
use the security feature of motion. 

The 1,000 kronor note will include a moving image in the striped 
band. When the banknote is tilted, the picture in the striped 
band appears to move. In addition, both the 50 kronor and 1,000 
kronor banknotes have been equipped with a foil strip and a 
transparent picture." 

To read the complete article, see: 

To read the Riksbank's press publicity releases, see: 

[So bring back that little car on the back of the U.S. 
$10 bill so we can watch it circle the block around the 
U.S. Treasury building! -Editor]


On March 3 the BBC reported that "The Bank of Korea’s Internet 
auction of its new 5,000 won bills brought in more than 300 
million won."

"The Bank of Korea put 9,900 bills that featured the serial 
numbers “101” to “10,000” up for auction. Although some bills 
did not sell at all, a 5,000 won bill sold for about 38,000 
on average. 

"The bills that attracted the most interest were in a bundle 
of ten bills that contained the digits “7771” to “7780,” 
including “7777.” 

"The Bank of Korea is planning to hold a fourth auction for 
items that did not sell in previous auctions. All auction 
proceeds will go to charity."

To read the complete article, see:

[The article notes that some of the winning bidders did not 
pay, so it's hard to judge the true value of the notes.  But 
it takes some of the fun out of collecting when you can buy 
unusual notes directly from the source; it's much more of an 
adventure to seek them in the wild.  

Have any other countries gotten into selling special serial 
number notes?  I know the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing 
sells a wide variety of individual notes and sheets, including 
star notes.  Have they gotten into the game of reserving and 
selling low and unusual serial numbers?  And what about custom 
serial number?  If Motor Vehicle departments can sell 
personalized license plates, why not personalized notes?  

THE GREAT 1982 CENT WEIGHT PROBLEM today published an amusing article by a woman whose 
husband became infatuated with the problem of distinguishing the 
two types of 1982 U.S. cents:

"When I came home Saturday afternoon, the kitchen table was 
covered with stacks and stacks of pennies perfectly aligned in 
long, neat rows. The husband was pacing back and forth in front 
of them with his hands behind his back and his glasses perched 
low on his nose. It looked like Cornwallis inspecting a regiment 
of British Redcoats -- or in this case Copper Coats -- before the 
Battle of Long Island."
"He was so busy surveying the columns that he didn't notice me. 
I clicked my heels, gave a snappy salute and said, "Problem 
with the rear guard, sir?"

"No," he said without looking up. "The problem is with 1982."
I racked my brain. "War on the Falklands?" I asked.

"Copper and zinc," he said.

He then turned toward me, balancing a penny on the tips of 
both index fingers as though I should know what this meant.

"A penny for my thoughts, one for each half of my brain?"
"No. Which one is zinc?"

As I would soon learn, before 1982, pennies were 95 percent 
copper and 5 percent zinc. During 1982, mints switched the 
composition around and the penny became 97.6 percent zinc and 
2.4 percent copper, so a 1982 penny can be either mostly 
copper or mostly zinc. And if you're confused, imagine how 
Abe Lincoln must feel.

"The copper penny weighs almost half a gram more, and I'm 
trying to tell which 1982s are which. Here; see if you can 
tell which one is heavier."

"Though I failed to detect the weight difference, he was 
pleased I had tried, just as I was pleased sorting pennies 
into piles of zinc and copper could bring a man an entire 
afternoon of entertainment."

To read the complete article, see:


Arthur Shippee forwarded a link to a March 2 National Public 
Radio piece about some urban archaeology in San Francisco 
involving a Gold-Rush era ship.  There is no direct numismatic 
connection, but many of our readers have an interest in Gold 
Rush history.

"A construction crew excavating land for a new high rise in 
San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood recently dug-up 
a well-preserved chunk of the city's maritime past: A 19th-century 
whaling ship that archeologists believe was buried and forgotten 
as landfill after being abandoned by fortune-seeking sailors during 
the Gold Rush.

It's the first such ship to be preserved nearly intact, and its 
remains are telling researchers about the history and economy of 
Gold Rush San Francisco."

"Through painstaking detective work, Allan has concluded that 
his crew found the Candace, a three-masted bark about a 100 feet 
long that was built in Boston in 1818. In its heyday, the whaler 
sailed the globe, and it was likely among the first merchant ships 
to carry the American flag into the Pacific."

To read the complete story, see: 


The Daily Mail of Charleston, West Virginia published an article 
on March 6 about a former pipe fitter now in business operating 
machines that make elongated cent souvenirs: 

"In the lobby of the sophisticated Clay Center, surrounded by 
valuable art, inventive displays and the impressive performance 
hall, a little machine sits unobtrusively waiting to crank out 
a rather simple souvenir.

The elongated penny machine could be overlooked easily by those 
in line at the box office or those hurrying in to see the 
intriguing offerings in the Little Shop of Wonders. But for two 
quarters and one penny, a visitor can take away a little history 
and a lot of nostalgia. 

The Plexiglas and Formica machine, built by Fayetteville resident 
Stewart Fernandez and owned by Jim Singleton of Hugheston, is 
much like those that have been around for more than 100 years in 
parks, zoos, museums and other tourist attractions. A simple turn 
of the crank flattens a penny and imprints it with a design."

"I was reading a coin paper and I saw an advertisement to buy 
a machine, said Singleton, a former pipe fitter. "I was just 
fascinated. I had never seen one before." 

With help from a die maker and a woodworker, Singleton designed 
his own version of a machine that could take a penny and turn 
it into a flattened oval with a picture cut into it."

"Smashing pennies is legal. According to the Web site 
United States law does permit the altering of coins if they will 
not be used for fraudulent uses. Once flattened by a machine, they 
are no longer considered currency."

"Coins can be really expensive," he said. "But this is 50 cents, 
and you can collect a lot of them. I talked to a guy last week 
who had collected 250,000 of them." 

"Singleton has also placed his hand-crank penny machines at 
locations on the West Virginia Turnpike, at Cass Scenic Railroad, 
Blackwater Falls and Natural Bridge, Va. With permission, he 
installs the boxes for free where he expects at least 50,000 people 
a year to walk by them, and then makes the rounds monthly to collect 
the money."

"Polack said using a crank machine, like Singleton's, often draws 
a crowd of children. 

"Then they have to listen to my little speech," she said. "I tell 
them it takes a ton of pressure to flatten that little penny. A 
lot of times when the penny first comes out of the machine, it's 
still hot." 

To read the complete article, see: 


A March 3rd story by Barron's probed a controversy over 
autograph authentication services by a unit of Collector's 
Universe also touched on the firm's numismatic business.  
As a public company the firm is followed by analysts and 
subjected to additional public scrutiny.

"Credibility is our biggest asset and our reputation is the 
core of our business," Michael Haynes, chief executive of 
Collectors Universe, told a group of institutional investors 
at a recent corporate seminar in New York. 

Still, the lengthening list of allegations, along with the 
effects of an eroding collectible-coin business, could start 
to weigh on the shares of Collectors Universe, which has a 
modest market capitalization of $130 million."

"Collector's Universe, based in Newport Beach, Calif., is one 
of the largest players in its field. It provides services and 
products to dealers and collectors of coins, sports cards, 
stamps, autographs, sports memorabilia and more. In all, some 
$1.3 billion of collectibles come under its review in the course 
of a year, and annual revenues are running at $33 million. The 
stock has been publicly traded since 1999." 

"The bi-monthly Pen and Quill, put out by the oldest autograph 
collectors' club in the world, has published what amounts to a 
five-page indictment of PSA/DNA's authentication process, 
entitled "Who's Watching the Watchmen." 

"It has become apparent that PSA/DNA has some weakness in 
authenticating autographs outside the sports field — as well 
as some glaring oversights from within the sports area," writes 
author Steve Zarelli, a member of the collectors club. "It's 
not uncommon to see a PSA/DNA [expert] 'authenticating' an 
autograph that is certainly not authentic." 

Zarelli told of a collector who successfully bid for a game-used 
bat belonging to Ernie Banks, complete with a certificate of 
authentication from PSA/DNA. "What autograph?" Zarelli writes, 
"The bat isn't signed by anyone." 

"The controversy surrounding Collectors Universe hasn't 
received much attention beyond the narrow audience for Pen and 
Quill and the Manuscript Society News. But that could change 
soon. Says Ken Lawrence, a stamp expert with the nonprofit 
American Philatelic Society's expertizing service and a member 
of the organizations that published both articles, "For both 
these groups to be warning their members about Collectors 
Universe at the same time is very unusual and very serious." 

To read the complete article, see: 


On a related note, the Wall Street Journal reported on March 8 
that a probe into bribery allegations at the world's largest 
diamond grader has widened:

"Last fall the Gemological Institute of America fired four 
employees it accused of accepting bribes from diamond dealers 
as part of an inquiry into inflating the grades of stones. The 
GIA also severed ties with "a small community of dealers" that 
it suspected of bribing GIA staffers with cash, theater tickets 
and other gifts."

"The GIA won't say how many dealers it suspects of paying off 
diamond graders, who judge diamonds on their lack of flaws and 
absence of a yellowish hue."

"If the scandal is as widespread as some dealers believe, it 
is conceivable that many consumers may have overpaid for their 


Bob Shippee forwarded a query from Diane Bungum who writes: 
"I am looking for the October through December issues of the 
Coins Magazine, 1980.  I am looking for the articles written 
by Dudley L. McClure about the U.S. Mint at Dalles City.   I 
live in Dalles City (now The Dalles).  

Would you have any suggestions as to where I might find 
these magazine

[If any of our readers have ready access to these articles 
we'll put them in touch with Ms. Bungum.  A search of the NIP 
database ( 
yielded just one other reference to the Dulles Mint - a Numismatic 
Scrapbook article in Vol.18 (April 1952, p319).  Is anyone aware 
of other references to this would-be Mint?  The following is one 
of the few online references I've found, but it includes modern 
photos of the building. -Editor]

"In 1864, the U.S. Congress appropriated money to build this 
fortress-like structure. The project failed, however, when the 
yield from the Canyon City gold diggings, which were intended to 
project ran 2 years beyond the scheduled completion date due to 
cost over-runs, lack of workers (they kept leaving for the gold 
fields), and flooding from the Columbia River also contributed 
to its demise.

Built of hand-hewn stone brought from nearby Mill Creek by wagon, 
the two story building rose, but without a roof. In 1870 the state 
of Oregon received the property from the U.S. Government for 
educational or charitable use. Although the state later deeded the 
building to Wasco Independent Academy, the property was not used 
for education. A large concrete block addition was later constructed 
on the north side of the U.S. Mint building."

To see the complete article and view images of the building, see: 


Regarding our discussion of Dick Johnson's suggested grading scheme 
for medals, Ron Abler writes: "I still like "mint" for the top grade 
of medals, whether produced at an official government mint or not.
According to Webster's, the adjectival meaning of "mint" is "unmarred 
AS IF fresh from a mint," which is good enough for me.  I'll never 
naysay humor in writing, nor would I presume to trade punch lines 
with a wit like Don's."


Cindy Jett of writes: "I am writing to let coin 
enthusiasts know about a website that has interactive mapping 
of over 1700 coin shops across the US.  In order to view the 
Coin Dealers map, go to, select "View All Interests", 
and select "Coin Dealers" from the list of interests.  

The idea is for coin enthusiasts to build upon what we have started 
by adding dealers we have missed, and editing and enhancing information 
that is already there themselves.  Through this kind of community 
effort, we hope to have the most comprehensive, descriptive, and up 
to date maps to help coin enthusiasts locate coin dealers at home 
and on their travels. 

We would appreciate if you would participate in the process, by 
checking if your favorite coin shops are mapped, enhancing information 
as you see fit, and adding shops that we missed. This is simple to do.
To add a coin shops, go to the Coin Dealers map, click on "Know any 
coin dealers we are missing?", fill out the form, click submit, and 
your information will be posted within a few hours.  To edit information
 about a shop that is already mapped, click on the icon associated 
with the shop. An information box will pop up, click the edit link, 
fill out the form, click submit and the changes will appear within a 
few hours."

[The company is attempting to target niche markets in areas such as 
coin, stamp and antique collecting, Civil War, knitting, scrapbooking 
and model trains.  This would be a useful tool for travelers who want 
to make a quick sidetrip to indulge their hobbies. Of interest to 
bibliophiles are the maps of new and used book dealers.  Ultimately, 
the major Internet portals such as Yahoo and Google will probably take 
over this market completely, but there may always be room for scrappy 
niche competitors if they work hard to ensure the completeness and 
integrity of their data.  -Editor]


Credit David Menchell for last week's quiz.  He writes: "I saw this 
Forbes article and thought it might be of interest.  I guess they're 
short on subject matter in New Zealand, if they have to go fishing 
for stars of recent movies produced there (Elijah Wood) for their 

Robert Laviana writes: "Eunice Shriver was at one point on US 
currency - 1995 Silver Dollar."

Martin Purdy writes: "The only ones I can think of at the moment 
are our own Sir Edmund Hillary (b. 1919) on the New Zealand $5 note 
and Sir Michael Somare on the PNG 50 (?) kina note.  I'll be interested 
to see what the other two are!"

Here's the magazine's list:

1. Sir Edmund Hillary, on a New Zealand $5 bill 
2. Jack Nicklaus, on a Scotland £5 bill
3. Pope Benedict XVI, on a Liberian $5 bill and 
   A Cameroon 4,500-franc coin 
4. Elijah Wood, on a New Zealand 50 cent coin
5. Laetitia Casta, on the 5, 2 and 1 French euro cent coins

"Elijah Wood, the 25-year-old actor and star of the Lord of the 
Rings movie trilogy, joins fellow cast members in a series of 
commemorative legal tender coins issued in New Zealand in 2003. 
Queen Elizabeth II appears on the flip side of the coins, which 
feature the faces of the actors who played Frodo (Wood), Aragorn, 
Gandalf, Saruman, Sauron and Gollum.

"In 2000, model Laetitia Casta beat out four others for the honor 
of Marianne, the national face of France. She succeeded actress 
Catherine Deneuve, who had taken over the role originated by 
Brigitte Bardot in the 1960s. As the model for the portrait of 
Marianne, Casta, like Bardot and Deneuve, appeared on the French 
franc when it was in circulation, and more recently on the French 
version of euro coins. But some French people are probably unhappy 
about this. Shortly after Casta was named Marianne, she skipped 
town and moved to London."

To read the complete article, see:

I shared the list with Martin Purdy.  He added: "I can add a 
couple more in that case: Adrian Brody and Naomi Watts (actors) 
on NZ's new "King Kong" $1 coin.

I would not include Benedict XVI, since he *is* a head of state, 
though not of Liberia or Cameroon (if you go down that track, 
there are lots of "foreign" heads of state on various coins 
commemorating visits - e.g. Pope Paul VI, Samoa 1970, etc., etc.)

No. 5 is a bit questionable, as I understand Ms Casta was simply 
the model for Marianne - it's not a portrait of the lady herself.
Otherwise, they should include almost any other living person who 
has modeled for a figure on a coin.  Lady Frances Stuart was alive 
when the figure of Britannia first appeared on Charles II's copper 
coinage, for instance!"


The Associated Press reported on a low-key ceremony March 3 to 
launch the newly-redesigned U.S. $10 bill:

"To mark the event, officials from the Treasury, Federal Reserve 
and Secret Service put the first new $10 bill into circulation at 
a brief ceremony at the National Archives.

Michael Lambert, assistant director of the Fed's payment system, 
purchased a $10 copy of the Constitution in the Archives gift shop 
with one of the new bills.

He predicted people would see the new $10 bills in circulation 
very soon, possibly as early as Thursday. The country's larger 
banks typically place orders for currency daily with the Fed.

U.S. Treasurer Anna Escobedo Cabral, whose signature appears on 
the currency, said the government plans to redesign the currency 
every seven to 10 years because "staying ahead of would-be 
counterfeiters is a top priority."

The new $10 bill still features Alexander Hamilton, the nation's 
first Treasury secretary, on one side, and the Treasury building 
on the other side. But those two images are joined by the Statue 
of Liberty's torch and "We the People" in red along with small 
yellow 10s and a subtle orange background."

"The $100 bill is the next denomination scheduled to receive a 
dash of color, but that may not occur until 2007 or later. The 
government is asking for proposals from private businesses on 
what security features in addition to colors need to be added 
to this bill, which is the most frequently counterfeited outside 
of the United States."

To read the complete story, see: 


Mike Marotta writes: "What was the Panic of 1857?  I have been 
working on a paper about so-called "wildcat banking."  My thesis 
is that when farmers moved from New York to Michigan, we did not 
call it "wildcat farming."  We do not have "wildcat apothecaries" 
or "wildcat blacksmiths."  The fact is that risk is a metaphysical 
reality for any enterprise. 
I am also puzzled by the fact that people smart enough to invent 
and construct a complex industrial civilization from the wilderness 
were stupid enough to fall for the obvious ploys of "stumptail" 
and "red pup" banks and their worthless notes.  I think the matter 
is more complex.  
I quickly came to discount all newspaper stories as firsthand 
accounts of anything. We know from Louisa May Alcott and Mark 
Twain that newspaper reporters were not history professors.  Today 
we say, "If it bleeds, it leads."  Sensationalism sells papers. 
Headlines declaring "Panic!" can only be substantiated with 
independent facts. 
In science we say that "absence of evidence is not evidence of 
absence."  Just because you do not find something does mean that 
it is not there.  That said, among the reliable references that 
do not mention the Panic of 1857 is A HISTORY OF BANKING IN THE 
UNITED STATES by John Jay Knox, written in 1903. 
Specifically for the present numismatic markets, I have found two 
recent books that claim that the loss of the "famous ship of gold" 
(S.S. Central America) precipitated or exacerbated the "panic" of 
1857.  Q. David Bowers and Douglas Winters are not to be passed 
over lightly.  Yet, I have to ask where the substantiating evidence 
is, since it is not in the most authoritative histories of the 
That there was a "panic" is pretty clear.  I do have other primary 
materials in which merchants and bankers tell each other of their 
problems from August through November of 1857.  Chemical Bank called 
itself "Old Bullion" for surviving the run on hard money.  
Socialists routinely claim that booms and busts are endemic in an
unregulated economy.  Libertarians reply that meddling by central
authorities only makes them worse.  That they exist is undisputed.  
Perhaps it should be disputed.  Crops fail.  Banks fail.  Yet, one 
of the interesting economic facts of life is that records from the 
Middle Ages in England seem to indicate that the failure of crops 
in one place resulted only in the transport of grain to that place, 
with apparently little rise in price, and seemingly little, if any, 


The Daily Tribune of Royal Oak of Detroit published an article on March 7
about a local teacher and his gift of old coins to his students:

"Each spring, Kimball High School graphic arts teacher Mike Stinnett gives
graduating seniors in his classes some uncommon cents and a wise lesson on
life's enduring values.
Stinnett four years ago began handing out Indian Head pennies minted between
1859 and 1908 along with a written last lesson on value and worth."

He urges graduating students to be aware of those things that have lasting
value and worth. He lists a half dozen important starting points such as
family, education, respect for others and the environment, friendship and a
willingness to listen.

"What we sometimes value many times has no worth," Stinnett writes in the
pamphlet, "and what you believe has worth may have no value. Choose each

"Seeing high school students wrapped up in materialism, video games, clothes
and cars, the Indian Head penny lesson is cautionary, Orth said.

"It's a way of saying don't get caught up in all that," she said."

To read the complete article, see: 


According to a report in The Dispatch of Columbus, OH, "Statehouse 
reporters received an envelope last week containing a coin-shaped 
piece of chocolate wrapped in gold foil to mark the 53-count 
indictment of former Maumee coin dealer Thomas W. Noe. 

Stamped on one side was "NOE" with "The indictment" and "53 counts." 
The other side read, "The inducement — 53 pieces of silver," and 
had the names of Gov. Bob Taft, Secretary of State J. Kenneth 
Blackwell, Auditor Betty D. Montgomery and Attorney General Jim 
Petro, all Republicans. 

A letter that accompanied the coin said it was "minted by the Ohio 
Penal Industry workshops, politicians division, and by badly injured 
workers who were given the jobs when the bureau of Workers’ 
Compensation could no longer fund their benefits."


An attorney in Memphis is the latest person to be falsely accused 
of passing counterfeit currency as a result of an anti-counterfeiting 

"I was at Hooter's and gave the waitress a $100 bill. The manager 
came back saying the bill was questionable and gave it back to me," 
Sampson says. 

MPD Inspector J.M. Willis says old bills like Sampson's 1950's 
$100 bill generally show up fake when a money pen is used. 

"Just because the pen says it's not a real bill doesn't mean it's 
not. That's not a foolproof way to define whether something is real 
or not," Willis says. 

It turns out, Sampson's was real. 

Sampson says when police arrived, he was cuffed and put in the 
back of a squad car." 

"I have no problem if the officers knew what they were doing. If 
they are qualified to check counterfeit money, they know the pens 
don't work on old money if you're a professional," Sampson says. 

By the way, on the back of the counterfeit pens package is a 
warning. That warning says the pens don't work on money older 
than 1959."

To read the complete story, see:


According to a report from Tenino, Washington, a shover of the 
queer nailed a big target:

"A 10-year-old Girl Scout was excited when a woman asked to 
buy 10 boxes of cookies from her Sunday, and she was more excited 
to be paid with a $100 bill. 

But her excitement turned to dismay when the Scout’s mother 
realized the bill was a fake, and a day of raising money for 
Scout trips ended with a valuable lesson.

“Sometimes you can’t trust just anybody,” the Scout said."

"Katie handed her mother the $100 and then passed the change 
to the suspect. Lundquist said she immediately thought the 
bill was fake. 

She asked the Dave’s Market Place manager on duty to check, 
and with a swipe of a counterfeit-detector pen, Lundquist’s 
suspicion was confirmed. But by then, the suspect was gone."

To read the complete story, see: 


This week's featured web page holds links to on-line versions 
of the programs for the American Numismatic Society's annual 
Coinage of the Americas Conference (COAC).

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 
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