The E-Sylum v9#38, September 17, 2006

esylum at esylum at
Sun Sep 17 20:34:01 PDT 2006

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 9, Number 38, September 17, 2006:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers is Kim Ludwig of David Lawrence 
Rare Coins.  Welcome aboard!  We now have 964 subscribers.

This week's issue is a relatively short one - perhaps the previous 
barrage of ANA convention news has everyone tired out.  But there 
are a number of interesting topics and new questions this week, 
including a query on how to handle a $10,000 stack of U.S. currency 
fused into a solid paper-mache brick by water damage.  To balance 
this item on money turned to wood pulp, we have another item 
mentioning wooden medals, an instance of turning wood pulp into a 
numismatic item.  Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


In the September 13 MPC Gram News Letter (Vol 7, no 1501) Editor 
Fred Schwan writes: "The Heritage Signature Currency {sic} auction 
catalog was a surprise from the beginning. It arrived in a priority 
mail flat rate box. I could not figure out what that could possibly 
be, but I did not expect it to be good news. I was certainly wrong 
about that.

I believe that it is the largest and heaviest paper money auction 
catalog ever produced and it might hold that record for a long time. 
The American Bank Note Company archive sale certainly had more notes, 
and there might have been an auction with more lots, but the catalog 
- wow.

Based on size I thought it might have one of every national bank 
note ever issued, but there was not a single note from Ottawa 
Country, Ohio. I was both pleased and disappointed about that."

[The sale features 4,504 lots of paper currency.  The sale was 
held September 13-15, 2006 in Long Beach, CA.  The catalog is 
available online: 


Henk Groenendijk writes: "In response to Granvyl Hulse's question 
about the currency exchange rates for 17th century Holland I can 
give the following reply:

The term “Carolus gulden van 20 stuivers per gulden” is a legal 
term indicating the monetary unit of account. This unit corresponds 
with a gulden having a silver content of 9.61 grams fine. A listing 
of the exchange rate of the gulden in pounds is given in: “Van £ 
Hollands tot Nederlandse ƒ; De geschiedenis van de Nederlandse 
geldeenheid”, by W.L. Korthals Altes (1996).

The actual exchange rate for 1684 is not mentioned but during the 
decade in question the exchange rate was fairly constant. The lowest 
and highest values (monthly averages) for the years 1682 to 1686 are 
given as 10.53 and 10.88 gulder per pound, say an average value of 
10.70. So 300 gulden would equal 28.04 pounds or approximately 
£ 28.0.10. Alternatively the amount of silver (2.883 kg) could be 
used to calculate the approximate equivalent in other currencies."


Philip Mernick writes: "Regarding comments on the copyright of 
images in the last two editions of E-Sylum - can anyone advise 
on the status of images that appear on eBay?"

[eBay may claim some copyright ownership themselves, but I've 
never reviewed the legalese in the disclaimer statements.  Many 
sellers put copyright notices within their images.  Can anyone 
fill us in?  -Editor]


Allan Spreen, MD writes: "As usual, I come late to the party - 
Just recently I found Article 24 of the Volume 8, Number 5, January 
30, 2005, issue of the E-Sylum, concerning "A January 28th press 
release describes 'An unidentified flying object on a 17th century 
French coin continues to mystify rare coin experts.'"

The end of the article has links to the "Full Story," with the 
admonition to "Be sure to click on the images of the token to see 
enlarged views."

Is it too late to gain access to the 'full story' and see the 
'enlarged views'? I could not find them anywhere.

Thanks for any guidance you might offer, as I am most interested."

[Here's a link to the E-Sylum article:

We cannot archive copyrighted material from other web sites; we 
merely link to the pages.  If they later disappear, sometimes 
copies of the original pages can still be found in Internet archives.  
See this E-Sylum story for information on one such archive.



Dave Hirt writes: "The Beaver Club medal Darryl Atchison asked 
about in the Cogan sale of June 29 1876 was the Henry Mackenzie 
medal. It realized $27.50. It went into the Henry Holland collection, 
and was sold in the Woodward sale of that collection on Nov 11-16, 
1878. It realized 22.50."


Web site visitor Carole MacCarter writes: "I have a hardened 
"brick" of formerly-wet paper currency, now dry but fragile 
and stuck together (think paper mache).  It may be as much as 
$10,000, so I am very interested in restoring the bills well 
enough so they can be replaced at a bank.  I have had no luck 
with getting advice from the bank on how to separate the bills. 

Is there some kind of solution I can use to re-wet them so they 
might come apart?  Or should I try to slice the dry brick apart?  
or?  I don't want to cause more damage to the bills through not 
knowing how to do this.  Thanks for any advice you can give me."

[Local banks aren't always aware of all the rules and regulations 
covering unusual situations such as mutilated currency.  In this 
case, I advised Carole that the thing to do is send the mess back 
to the manufacturer, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in 
Washington, D.C.  Every year the Department of the Treasury 
redeems millions of dollars worth of mutilated money.  The BEP's 
web site notes:

"Currency can become mutilated in any number of ways. The most 
common causes are: fire, water, chemicals, explosives; animal, 
insect or rodent damage; and petrification or deterioration by 
burying. Under regulations issued by the Department of the 
Treasury, mutilated United States currency may be exchanged at 
face value if: 

* more than 50% of a note identifiable as United States currency 
is present; or, 

* 50% or less of a note identifiable as United States currency 
is present, and the method of mutilation and supporting evidence 
demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Treasury that the missing 
portions have been totally destroyed."

"Mutilated currency may be mailed or personally delivered to the 
Bureau of Engraving and Printing. When mutilated currency is 
submitted, a letter should be included stating the estimated value 
of the currency and an explanation of how the currency became 
mutilated. Each case is carefully examined by an experienced 
mutilated currency examiner. The amount of time needed to process 
each case varies with its complexity and the case workload of the 

The Director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has the final 
authority for the settlement of mutilated currency claims.

Although Treasury examiners are usually able to determine the 
amount and value of mutilated currency, careful packaging is 
essential to prevent additional damage."

The web page describes procedures for packing and shipping 
mutilated currency, and gives the following phone numbers for 
the Mutilated Currency Division: 1-866-575-2361 or 202-874-8897. 

Basically, one should not attempt to separate the glob of currency 
- it is best to leave that to the experts at the BEP.  They have 
"mutilated currency specialists" whose full-time job is to sort 
out messes like this.

To read the original web page in full, see:

I've read articles on the work of these mutilated currency 
specialists, but was unable to locate any online.  Can anyone 
provide a reference?  -Editor] 


Dick Johnson writes about a shared numismatic interest which led 
to a lifelong friendship: "When I was on the staff of Coin World 
and found a rare free Sunday, my wife and I traveled from Sidney 
to Granville, Ohio to visit a collector and his wife. That was in 
1960. This week he returned the favor and visited me here in 
Connecticut, 46 years later.

My guest was Donald G. Tritt. We had kept in touch over the years 
and knew of each other’s numismatic interests. Don was an authority 
on wood medals – not the kind that are imprinted for wooden nickels 
– but those pressed from a wood blank. He had formed a collection 
of these over the last 46 years. Occasionally I wrote him for details 
when I had one or two consigned for my medal auctions.

The conversation was delightful. We reminisced and learned of each 
other’s personal experiences. He had gone to college in Chicago for 
his doctorate and became a professor of psychology at Denison 
University back in Ohio. I learned we had other similar interests -
genealogy for one. He became so involved in that field he became 
president and board member of the Swiss Center of North America, 
wrote extensively on the subject, and conducted three family reunions 
to Switzerland. My genealogical interests were on the lives of 
American coin and medal artists.

We even turned on the tape recorder and saved some important facts. 
He had known J. Henry Ripstra, an oldtime engraver in Chicago and 
onetime ANA president, even purchased Ripstra’s library. He had 
attended the country auction of Ripstra’s estate and had brought 
a box of his purchases from this estate.

But our conversations kept going back to wood medals. For that I 
had to have the tape recorder on. I learned he progressed from wood 
medals to early American turned wood items. His collection of these 
is so extensive that a group in Wisconsin wants to establish a museum 
for these and acquire his collection to serve as the nucleus for 
this museum.

It was difficult to stop talking after four hours, and we both avowed 
to meet again and not wait another 46 years!

Every numismatist should look to the friends he has meet and shared 
a common interest in the field. You could still be friends three, 
four even five decades from now."

[These are two great subjects which I don't believe have been touched 
on in The E-Sylum before.  I recall seeing some great wooden medals 
made for the U.S. centennial in 1876, perhaps at a local club meeting. 
These were interesting and very attractive pieces. Has anything been 
written about them?   Also, can anyone provide us with more information 
on Ripstra?  


Arthur Shippee writes: "What happened to the $10 gold piece..." 
mentioned in the following New York Times article about the first 
Ellis Island immigrant?

"Annie Moore is memorialized by bronze statues in New York Harbor 
and Ireland and cited in story and song as the first of 12 million 
immigrants to arrive at Ellis Island. Her story, as it has been 
recounted for decades, is that she went west with her family to 
fulfill the American dream — eventually reaching Texas, where she 
married a descendant of the Irish liberator Daniel O’Connell and 
then died accidentally under the wheels of a streetcar at the age 
of 46."

"Hustled ahead of a burly German by her two younger brothers and 
by an Irish longshoreman who shouted “Ladies first,” one Annie 
Moore from County Cork set foot on Ellis Island ahead of the other 
passengers from the steamship Nevada on Jan. 1, 1892, her 15th 
birthday. She was officially registered by the former private 
secretary to the secretary of the treasury and was presented with 
a $10 gold piece by the superintendent of immigration. 

“She says she will never part with it, but will always keep it 
as a pleasant memento of the occasion,” The New York Times reported 
in describing the ceremonies inaugurating Ellis Island. 

As for what happened next, though, history appears to have 
embraced the wrong Annie Moore. 

 “It’s a classic go-West-young-woman tale riddled with tragedy,” 
said Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, a professional genealogist. “If 
only it were true.”

In fact ... the Annie Moore of Ellis Island fame settled on the 
Lower East Side, married a bakery clerk and had 11 children. She 
lived a poor immigrant’s life, but her descendants multiplied 
and many prospered."

[The Times article describes the genealogist's detective work to 
set the facts straight on the old saga of Annie Moore.  But now 
that the correct Annie has been identified, what about her souvenir 
coin?  Has it been lost to the ages?  If the coin itself was not 
marked, only accompanying documentation and a provenance through 
the woman's descendants would serve to identify it.  Perhaps it 
will turn up someday.  -Editor]

To read the complete story, see:  


Reid Goldsborough writes: "The issue of the collecting of 
counterfeits seems to resurrect itself regularly, and understandably,
because it's an interesting and controversial one. Michael Marotta 
in the Sept. 4, 2006, E-Sylum issued a definitive pronouncement about 
the legalities: 'Basically, it is not illegal to hold counterfeit 
currency, only to buy or sell it.'

The above statement can't be supported. You can't determine the 
legalities simply by reading the relevant statutes, through buying 
Coin World Almanac from Michael's former employer, as Michael 
suggested, or through reading them for free at any one of many 
Web sites. Cornell Law School's site 'U.S. Code Collection' 
( is one such site. Just click through 
to Title 18, Part I, Chapter 25 -- Counterfeiting and Forgery. As 
with other aspects of numismatics, a relevant Google search will 
turn up other relevant Web sites.

The law is ambiguous, and it appears to be ambiguous purposefully, 
a deliberate attempt by lawmakers to give judges in the future 
leeway to interpret it. The area I've followed most closely is 
counterfeits of collectable coins. It's a nonissue in the eyes of 
the authorities, who understandably devote their resources to 
stopping the manufacture and sale of counterfeit current paper 
money, which can compromise the country's money supply and 
ultimately its fiscal health.

Counterfeit modern, world, and ancient coins are regularly and 
openly bought and sold for what they are, as counterfeits, through 
the most prestigious auctions in the U.S. and abroad, at the most 
prestigious national coin shows, and every day on eBay. Despite the 
contention Michael made that doing this is illegal, nobody has ever 
been arrested, fined, or jailed in the U.S. for buying or selling a 
counterfeit collectable coin as a counterfeit. On the other hand, 
people have been arrested for knowingly selling counterfeits as 
genuine, for knowingly passing them as genuine, and for manufacturing 

The law doesn't make it clear if it's illegal to sell counterfeit 
collectable coins or if it's illegal only to sell them 'with intent 
to defraud.' For this to be clear, the law would need to be tested 
in court, but because nobody has ever been arrested for selling 
counterfeit collectable coins as counterfeits, it has never been 

Regarding Coin World, an excellent publication, its legal columnist, 
Armen Vartian, wrote a column on just this subject titled "Owning 
Counterfeits" for the November 5, 2001, issue in which he gave 
advice to people who collect counterfeits. In a phone interview, 
Vartian, a lawyer and author of the book A Legal Guide to Buying 
and Selling Art and Collectibles, told me that for there to be 
'judicial clarity' on the legalities, a judge or court has to 
specifically address this issue. The bottom line is that no matter 
what you read about this issue, online or in print, by a lawyer or 
a layperson -- and people do seem to enjoy making legal 
pronouncements about this -- the legalities aren't clear.

Those interested in collecting counterfeits might enjoy watching 
the ANA video 'Famous Fakes and Fakers.' Any ANA member can borrow 
the video through the mail from the ANA library for the cost of 
round-trip postage and insurance. It was made by Ken Bressett, 
past president of the ANA and editor of A Guide Book of United 
States Coins (the Red Book). Bressett talks about and illustrates 
counterfeits that he describes as being 'enjoyable to study and 

I personally study and collect counterfeits of ancient coins in 
those areas in which I collect authentic ancient coins. Counterfeit 
coins have always been an interesting aspect of the history of both 
numismatics and the larger world of money. For much of history 
counterfeiting was punishable by death. Counterfeiting has also 
been used by the governments of the U.S., Britain, and many other 
countries as a weapon of war against other countries. Studying 
counterfeits has practical value too. It can make you a more 
savvy consumer and help prevent you from become a victim of 
counterfeit fraud." 


Dave Perkins pointed out an article this week in USA Today 
referencing the "Liberty Dollars" we've discussed in earlier 
E-Sylum issues.



The USA Today article discussed a new initiative by the U.S. 
Mint to discourage the use of Bernard von NotHaus' alternative 

"The government Thursday warned consumers and businesses that 
it is illegal to use alternative money known as "Liberty Dollar" 
coins, which organizers promote as a competitor to the almighty 

"We don't want consumers to be fooled," U.S. Mint spokeswoman 
Becky Bailey says, noting U.S. Attorneys offices across the USA 
have noticed a marked increase in inquiries about the coins.

The coins' producers vowed to fight the government's decision.

Evansville, Ind.-based National Organization for the Repeal of 
the Federal Reserve Act and the Internal Revenue Code, otherwise 
known as NORFED, has been making the Liberty Dollar coins for 
eight years and claims $20 million is in circulation. The group 
says the money, unlike official U.S. cash, has a hedge against 
inflation because it is made almost entirely of silver and is 
backed by stocks of silver and gold in a vault in Idaho."

"In a case in Buffalo, a man and his son are set to go on trial 
next month after they knowingly tried to buy beer at a Buffalo 
Sabres hockey game with Liberty Dollars.

The Mint did not say if government officials will seek to 
prosecute individuals or NORFED after its warning."

To read the complete article, see: 


On September 12 the Citizen-Times of Asheville, NC reported on the 
latest instance of a national trend: "The sound of winning at 
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino is about to change.  The company is trading 
in its old coin payout system for new printed tickets that use bar 
codes to record winnings.

And while the famous sound of coins striking a metal hopper will 
disappear, the quiet — and clean — tickets are winning customers 

“I like it better,” said Sara Waldroop, a Macon County resident 
who plays at Harrah’s Cherokee. 

"The changeover at Harrah’s Cherokee is 83 percent complete with 
600 machines to go, General Manager Darold Londo said Monday. On 
Dec. 8, the $10, $25 and $100 coins will be worthless. Anyone 
with the coins needs to spend them by that day."

To read the complete article, see:

[By "coins" I believe the author meant "casino tokens", as there 
are no current U.S. $10, $25 or $100 coins (except gold bullion 
pieces, but these don't circulate.  -Editor]


On September 15 MSNBC published an article from The Motley Fool 
investment newsletter about the latest news on Escala, the parent 
of several numismatic firms in the U.S.

"It was hardly surprising the other day when Escala, the U.S.-based 
stamp supplier of Spanish auction house Afinsa Bienes Tangibles, 
announced it was delaying the filing of its annual financial report. 

With the Spanish authorities raiding Afinsa's offices in May and 
shutting down the investment scheme -- in which the company guaranteed 
rates of return of 6% to 10% on supposedly rare stamps supplied to 
it by Escala -- the latter's books must be a mess. While Escala 
conducts its own ongoing internal investigation, the SEC's investigation 
is also up and running. Investors are still wondering how far the 
alleged scam reaches; if it did touch Escala, could Spanish 
authorities reach across the Atlantic and seize assets to make 
victims whole?" 

"Spanish tax authorities believe that certain stock trading 
transactions by both Escala founder Greg Manning ... and director 
Gregory Roberts are worthy of further investigation. 

Roberts is also president of Spectrum Numismatics and A-Mark Precious 
Metals, a company Escala acquired last year. Spectrum has been at the 
center of a coin trading scandal with Ohio's Bureau of Worker's 

"Before Afinsa took ownership of the company, Greg Manning Auctions 
never traded for more than $4 a share; it was the seeming potential 
of worldwide auctions that propelled the stock to as high as $35. 
Since Spanish authorities raided Afinsa, the stock has once again 
traded at its historical levels, but should it be found to have 
participated in the fraud of Spanish investors, there's really 
only one price this stock could be valued at: zero."

To read the complete article, see: 


Bob Neale writes: "I'd like to announce that the Lower Cape Fear 
Coin Club has established a web site at I'd like to 
encourage anyone to offer feedback, positive or negative, if they 
wish. We have thick skin... I think... I should note that in this 
first edition, we have deliberately not included the names of 
officers nor linked to commercial sites. We would like to learn 
of numismatic sites that your readers think we should include in 
our links, which, of course, do include NBS."


According to a September 16th article, "De La Rue, the world’s 
leading commercial producer of banknotes, plans to expand its Sri 
Lankan operation, catering to growing appetite for cash in overseas 
The Sri Lankan plant, which is 40 percent owned by the island's 
finance ministry, currently prints around one billion banknotes." 

"The Sri Lankan banknote printing unit was opened in 1987 and 
currently employs 200 people. The factory runs double shifts 
daily ...

The unit originally started as a joint venture with Bradbury 
Wilkinson, but Bradbury was later bought over by De La Rue."

To read the complete article, see: 

[Do modern bank notes have the equivalent of a "mint mark"?   
Is there any way to tell from looking at a bank note that it 
was printed by De La Rue in Sri Lanka?  -Editor]


Arthur Shippee forwarded the following story from the Explorator 
newsletter, published by WLTX-TV of Columbia, SC.  Explorator 
editor David Meadows  writes: "A woman received what looks like a 
Bar Kokhba denarius as part of her change during a recent shopping 

"When the coins come out of the cash drawer, they all sound the 
same. And when Lynn Moore picked up her change and walked out of 
a Sumter Bi-Lo last November, she had no reason to believe her 
coins were any different.

Boy, was she wrong.

“It's definitely not a penny," said Lynn.

"For 10 months, she kept it to herself. Then, Ken Lyles saw it. 
Ken has collected and studied coins for 50 years, and says this 
one is definitely not American.

“My research on it would tell me that it (was made in) 
approximately 132 to 135 A.D."

Mr. Lyles says the shape, uneven edges, and weight of the coin 
means it definitely pre-dates modern mints. According to his 
reference books, the coin is from ancient Hebrew society."

To read the complete story (and view a video and image of the 
coin), see: 


This week's featured web site is "Jetons: Their Use and History" 
by Bert Van Beek.  The article is from the 1986 "Perspectives 
in Numismatics" publication of the Chicago Coin Club.

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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