The E-Sylum v10#13, April 1, 2007
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Sun Apr 1 21:32:25 PDT 2007
Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 10, Number 13, April 1, 2007:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2007, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Among our recent subscribers are Caroline Holmes of A. H. Baldwin
& Sons Ltd., and Don Neumann. Welcome aboard! We now have 1,090
This week's issue opens with an announcement of the latest numismatic
literature sale from Lake Books, but that's not the announcement that
people are talking about. If you haven't heard the news, read on.
Other than THAT, this week's issue has a little more information on
the Heritage-Superior catalog plagiarism case, more great sources for
researching old newspapers online, and follow-ups on a number of
earlier topics, including father-daughter author teams in numismatic
Congress awarded another Congressional Gold Medal this week, the
Denver Mint began striking the Washington state quarters, and NPR got
funny with numismatics. To find out about the new OPA-style tokens
and (on a different topic) why some people avoid buying coins of
"debauched fat Roman emperors with double chins," read on. Have a
great week, everyone.
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
LAKE BOOKS SALE #88 CATALOG AVAILABLE
Fred Lake of Lake Books writes: "Our 88th mail-bid sale of numismatic
literature which has a closing date of April 24, 2007 is now available
for viewing on our web site at: http://www.lakebooks.com/current.html
"The 392-lot catalog covers all phases of the numismatic experience.
A number of scarce and desirable books are offered, such as an original
Wayte Raymond re-issue of the Ard W. Browning book on Early Quarter
Dollars, a nice three-volume set of "The Coinage of Scotland" by Edward
Burns, a copy of the Stack's "A.C. Gies Collection of Half Dollars"
hardbound and priced, a number of the Roman Imperial Coinage issues,
and many issues of the "British Numismatic Journal".
"Bids may be placed by email, fax, telephone or traditional mail
service. Please remember that tie bids are won by the earliest bid
PARTHIA SITE UPDATE MARKS NINTH ANNIVERSARY ONLINE
Chris Hopkins, writing in the CoinWebs Yahoo group this week, notes
that "Parthia.com celebrated its 9th anniversary online. The site has
grown to more than 460 web pages about Parthia, and is the number #1
ranked site for "Parthia" searches on Google, Yahoo!, and other major
search engines. There have been nearly 1/3 of a million total visitors
to the home page alone, and the web site logs more than 1,200 visitors
per day with an average visit time of nine minutes.
"To mark this anniversary, the site has been completely revamped to
comply with new technical standards for Unicode fonts and the latest
Internet web browsers, while retaining the same distinctive classical
"Parthia.com is an noncommercial educational web site about the
Parthians and their sub-kingdoms of Characene, Elymais and Persis.
The primary focus is on numismatics, but the site is not just a virtual
coin collection. Visiting Parthia.com, will give you insight into
Parthian art, history, archaeology, geography and more. It is an
excellent place to find references to books, articles, maps and
other resources for further study.
"Please take this opportunity to visit the "new" Parthia.com.
BLOCKBUSTER ANNOUNCEMENT: ANA, ANS TO MERGE; DUPLICATE SALE PLANNED
Following on the heels of the recent merger of leading numismatic
auction houses Stack's and American Numismatic Rarities, the two
leading U.S. nonprofit numismatic organizations announced this weekend
that a long-rumored merger has come to pass. In a joint statement,
the leadership of the American Numismatic Society (founded 1858) and
the American Numismatic Association (founded 1891) acknowledged the
financial and organizational obstacles that each has encountered in
recent years, but focused on many positive aspects of the combined
"These past months have been both draining and exhilarating for our
boards and top officers. The secret meetings, late-night negotiation
sessions, and endless discussions of details often devolved into
recriminations and tears. We are clearly two organizations that care
deeply for our members, history and traditions. Yet the talks were
infused with a sense of great hope and promise for the future, which
we feel is being realized today. We know many of our members will feel
the same sets of contrasting emotions that all of us did in coming to
this joint decision, one which we trust and pray that in the end the
numismatic community will embrace with the same sense of hope for the
The new organization will be called the American Numismatic Trust.
No staff layoffs are planned, but headcount will be reduced through
attrition. Effective immediately, the popular glossy magazine-format
monthly publications Numismatist and American Numismatic Society
Magazine will be combined into one 25%-larger issue called simply
"Coin". Organizational news will be published mostly electronically.
The separate ANA and ANS web sites will be merged by year end.
The biggest surprise concerns the new organization's headquarters
building, which had been rumored to be the biggest stumbling block
in the negotiations. Although both sides had dug in their heels in
defense of their existing operations in Colorado Springs and New York
City, a compromise was finally brokered by a team of angel backers
led by well-known dealer Q. David Bowers, which donated an historic
building at 225 N. Holliday St. in Baltimore, Maryland.
Erected in 1813 by Rembrandt Peale, son of the famed portraitist
Charles Willson Peale, it was the first building in the Western
Hemisphere created to serve as a museum. After years of mixed success,
in 1830 the building was acquired by the city of Baltimore and later
became the home of "Number 1 Colored Primary School". In subsequent
years the building was used for storage and fell into disrepair. But
with today's announcement, the grand building, just blocks from
Baltimore's famed Inner Harbor, stands to rise again as a leading
ANS leaders contacted privately admitted that "we looked around and
realized we hadn't gotten around to unpacking all this stuff from
our last move anyway, so what the heck, we might as well move again."
The ANS' current exhibit at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York will
remain for at least two years, when a new satellite exhibit will occupy
a special place at the new Museum of American Finance at 48 Wall Street.
The Museum's founder John E. Herzog said he was "delighted with the
new arrangement, which ensures that many numismatic treasures will
remain available to the public here in New York."
In Colorado Springs, CO, a similar arrangement has been made with the
trustees of Colorado College, which will keep the main level of the
old ANA building open as a museum after the purchasing the building
and grounds by year end. Former ANA employees staying in Colorado
Springs will move to a smaller suite of rented offices nearby. In a
similar move, New York-based employees will move to smaller rented
space while the ANS building is emptied and sold.
Funds from the building sales and planned auctions of duplicates from
the organizations' famed collections and libraries will replenish the
combined organization's endowment fund.
Officials stated "We're shooting for a grand opening of the new
building Friday, August 1, 2008, in conjunction with the "World's
Fair of Money" convention planned by the ANA for the Baltimore
American Numismatic Association elections, scheduled to begin next
month, have been cancelled, and the terms of both Executive Directors
have been extended through December 31, 2012. "At first we kidded
about holding a kickboxing tournament at the 2007 Numismatic Literary
Guild Bash to determine who gets the top post, but some people didn't
get the joke. I dunno, they're both tough cookies - we coulda sold
some serious tickets."
NUMISMATIC PLAGIARISM UPDATE
The March 27 issue of Numismatic News has an article by David L. Ganz
on the litigation between numismatic auction firms Heritage and
Superior over alleged plagiarism of auction catalog descriptions.
Heritage filed a complaint with the U. S. District Court for the
Northern District of Texas against Superior, which in turn filed a
counterclaim against Heritage. Ganz notes that the full text of the
complaints is available for a fee on the court's web site. See the
following URLs. PACER is the Public Access to Court Electronic
Ganz mentions the Maine Antiques Digest article on the suit; see
below for a link to our initial E-Sylum item on the article and suit.
According to Ganz, a trial is scheduled for April 2008. He writes:
"Issues in the Heritage v. Superior case have potential significant
impact on collectors, dealers and auction houses, many of whom have
used the descriptions of competitors with abandon in advertising,
catalogs, auction handbills and even commercial or educational
exhibits, both with and without attribution."
One E-Sylum reader forwarded the following lengthy example of text
found word-for-word (with just one exception) in catalog descriptions
by published by both Heritage and Superior (in May 2005 and August
2006, respectively). The lone difference is that in one account the
low-end mintage estimate is 425 and in the other the estimate is 415:
"One of the most popular and endearing patterns ever issued by the
Philadelphia Mint. As seen on virtually all known examples of this
issue, there are faint striation lines crossing Liberty's cheek and
hair. These were the result of the planchet preparation process and
were caused by the rollers used to squeeze the gold ingots into long
strips for cutting out the planchets. Normally, these roller marks
would be eliminated during the striking process, but on these stellas
virtually all show some evidence of these faint lines. The exact same
scenario is found on S-mint Barber coinage for many years, with
similar lines crossing Liberty's face. This is the only generally
available stella, from a mintage variously registered from 415 to
slightly over 700. Of course, the term--available--is relative, and
in comparison to demand for such pieces, coins of this quality are
indeed rare. The actual number produced, in 1879 and 1880, is thought
to be somewhat greater. These coins are known in two different alloys;
the standard alloy is 90% gold and 10% copper, and also in the metric
alloy which is 85.71% gold, 4.29% silver, and 10% copper. The specific
alloy of this coin is unknown, nor is the alloy generally given in
other auction descriptions, as it would require elemental analysis.
The point seems to be moot. The obverse has a large date logotype,
the digit 1 is slightly high, and the entire logotype is slightly
curved. The reverse die has the D in UNITED doubled, the original
placement slightly above the final position.
"This obverse die and the similar Flowing Hair die of 1880 were both
designed by Charles Barber, while the much rarer Coiled Hair obverse
dies of 1879 and 1880 were designed by George T. Morgan. It is not
known who engraved the reverse die, which was used to coin all the
1879 and 1880 stellas.
"The regal beauty of this curious denomination has kept demand very
high for an attractive example, such as the coin offered here, and
many numismatists have long desired to own such a prize. However,
the price of ownership seems to continue to outpace all but those
who greatly desire and can afford the cost required to secure an
example. Here is an opportunity for yet another collector to fulfill
the dream of finally obtaining one of America's most popular and
unusual denominations ever produced"
NUMISMATIC CATALOG COPYRIGHT CONTROVERSY
To read the complete Maine Antique Digest article, see:
MORE FULL-TEXT NEWSPAPER SEARCH ARCHIVES
Regarding last week's item on searching old newspapers, Dan Freidus
writes: "Another source of full-text historical newspapers is Proquest.
They work on a subscription model so the best thing is to find out if
your local public library subscribes. Many college libraries also
"They also have a magazine database:
"Readex has an overlapping newspaper database:
"(Their "Archive of Americana" has digital versions of many other
document types, too. Again, by subscription so access is through
a library typically.)"
SEARCHING OLD NEWSPAPERS USING OCR
PROCEEDINGS OF THE OLD BAILEY SEARCH ARCHIVE
Katie Jaeger writes: "I just finished a great article in the current
issue of Smithsonian magazine about a full-text searchable manuscript
archive that went online beginning in 2003. Of course I had to rush
to my computer to check out the Proceedings of the Old Bailey:
"This periodical publication was the record of London's criminal court
- regularly sold on the streets between 1674 and 1834 for the edification
and entertainment of the populace. You can search 101,102 trials by
surname, keyword, place, and crime, among others. I decided to
browse crimes of "coining." This search by itself produced 1,856
cases, but when I narrowed it by verdict ("guilty") it still came to
1,060 cases. An example from October 1678:
'A Shoomaker was Convicted for Clipping the Kings Coin ; the manner
of his being discovered and apprehended, was thus: The Landlord coming
to take Possession of the house wherein the Prisoner and a woman that
has often been suspected to be concern'd in such Practices lodged,
she being abroad and her Chamber-door lock'd, seeing them resolv'd to
go in, told them he would try to open it; and so pulling out a Key,
did open the said door, and went directly and hastily to a Closet,
where he was observ'd with both his hands to sweep down certain
Instruments and fling them into a private corner, and then cast a
Cushion over them to conceal them: Whereupon the said Landlord seeming
to take no notice thereof, went down and acquainted the Tenant, who
knew nothing thereof; but together they sent for a Constable, seized
the Prisoner, and in his Trunk found a File, but in the other Chamber
under the said Cushion, several Clippings and Filings of Silver, a
Sixpence newly clipp'd, a pair of Shears, two or three Crucibles for
melting down, and a quantity of Silver ready melted, &c. which were
now produced in Court. He peremptorily denied any concernment in the
Fact; but his having a Key to her Room; his running to the Closet and
endeavouring to conceal the things, &c. caused him to be brought in
guilty of the Treason; and was condemn'd to be Drawn and Hang'd .'
"I put the term "engraver" in a keyword search, and got 233 cases
involving these fellows. Forgers constitute an even larger group.
Whatever the research interest, or even without a particular research
quest, this archive is fascinating and helpful. But beware...it can
To access Old Bailey Online, see:
[There are many cases involving the theft of coin as well. At least
one case involved the theft of books (September 7, 1768). It's included
here for the bibliophiles among us. -Editor]
"William Vickers was indicted for stealing eight printed books, bound
in leather, the works of Dr. Jonathan Swift , value 20 s. seven printed
books, bound in leather, of Collins's Peerage of England, value 40 s.
six printed books, bound in leather, intiated, the Dramatic Works of
John Dryden , Esq; and three printed books, bound in leather, by Thomas
Sherlock , D. D. value 10 s. the property of George Booth Tindal ,
Esq; Aug. 15. ++
"George Booth Tindal , Esq; When I went out of town my books were
safe, on Thursday the 28th of July; after I was gone I received a
letter, informing me a man was detected in stealing my books; I came
to town this day se'nnight, then I missed the books laid in the
indictment, from out of my chambers (he produced a letter wrote by
the prisoner, whose hand-writing he knew exceeding well; it was read,
wherein he acknowledged the taking the said books, and had pledged
them to three different pawnbrokers, and begs mercy, &c."
ALFRED H. SATTERLEE'S AUCTION SALES
David F. Fanning writes: "Regarding Alfred H. Satterlee's book on
the presidential medals, here is a little bit of information that
may help Mr. Bell. Satterlee consigned to or was involved in at least
four auction sales in 1862, all handled through Bangs, Merwin and
Company: March 19, May 8-9, August 7 and December 16. The second
included a good selection of presidential medals, and the last is
the only catalogue Satterlee wrote, according to Gengerke. Attinelli
intriguingly notes of Satterlee that 'his social disposition, it
is deeply to be regretted, led him to an early grave' (p. 26)."
CORRECTION: FONROBERT COLLECTION TRANSLATION
Regarding Bob Leonard's item on the Raleigh Plantation Token in the
Fonrobert Collection, William P. Houston of Frankfurt am Main writes:
"Mr. Leonard has made an error in translating the metal of the token.
'Gelbk.' is the short form of 'Gelbkupfer,' (this is noted on page
VI of the catalog). 'Gelbkupfer' in English is literally "yellow
copper." Fine. But what is it? It must be brass."
RALEIGH PLANTATION TOKEN INFORMATION
FATHER-DAUGHTER NUMISMATIC AUTHOR TEAMS
Regarding Bill Rosenblum's query about numismatic books authored by
a father-daughter team, William P. Houston of Frankfurt am Main
writes: "The only instance I can recall offhand is that of Dr. Joachim
Zeitz (doctor of medicine, retired; born 1944) and his daughter, Dr.
Lisa Zeitz (art historian; born 1970). As far as I know, their only
collaboration so far has been: "Napoleons Medaillen." Copyright 2003;
Michael Imhof Verlag; D - 36100 Petersberg. ISBN 3-935590-25-3. It
has 288 pages and many wonderful color pictures.
Dr. Joachim Zeitz was the co-author (along with Prof. Dr. Friedrich
Wielandt) of both volumns of "Medaillen des Hauses Baden."
A variation on this theme might be a granddaughter cataloging the
work of her late grandfather. Here the folder (Mappe) of Hildegard
Lehnert on the coins, medals and decorations of Henri Francois Brandt
comes to mind. "Berlin, 1897. Bruno Hessling, New York, 64 East
NUMISMATIC FATHER-DAUGHTER AUTHOR TEAMS?
1913 NICKEL HOARD ADVICE SOUGHT
Web site visitor Roger Menday-Schuss of North Tonawanda, NY, writes:
"This weekend I was sorting through some personal effects of my wife's
great-uncle. He was once the mayor of our town. I had hoped to find
out more about him on the Internet but kept coming up empty since
"Samuel Brown" is such a common name. But something I found led me
to some web pages on your site. It's a little cloth bag with a tag
marked Private, do not open. I opened it, of course, and found 495
nickels inside. These are all dated 1913. According to your site
these are collector's items today. Can you recommend a dealer who
would buy them?"
[I asked Roger to forward me an example - stay tuned. -Editor]
LINEN AND COTTON IN U.S. PAPER MONEY
Regarding last week's query about linen and U.S. paper money, John
and Nancy Wilson write: "As always, questions regarding our U.S.
Currency and how it is made and produced can be found at the Bureau
of Engraving and Printing site. Here is a link that talks about our
money which includes cotton in paper money:
[This is a fine starting point, but the page doesn't really answer
the question of "what is linen?" There is a page on ink used in
paper money, but no detail on the paper other than "currency paper
is composed of 25% linen and 75% cotton." -Editor]
Bob Leuver, former Director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing
writes: "I do not have all of the facts, but my notes follow. Someone
could ask the historian or archivist at the BEP to provide the proper
response. Crane & Company of Dalton, MA would be another excellent
"I do not pretend to be the expert on U.S. currency substrate, but
there is a distinction between cotton and linen. The substrate for
U.S. currency is 75% cotton, 25% linen. Both cotton and linen appear
to have a mutual capacity to adhere to each other or 'meld' to form
a substrate in the first few feet of Crane's production process.
"Cotton comes from a softy fibrous plant, or the covering of seeds of
the mallow genus. Oddly much of the cotton used for currency comes
from the Carolinas, where used denim clothing or errors in denim
clothing production, are washed, bleached and bagged. Cotton can
be harvested in other states, but denim is an excellent source.
"Linen is a sturdy or hard fiber that is derived from flax. I believe
that the linen used by the BEP comes from Belgium. I remember an
incident where there was a shortage of linen, when I was BEP director,
and we considered what our alternatives were, if we could not get a
sufficient supply. I further believe that the raw flax came from
Africa. Now that the production of U.S. currency has increased by
50%, I wonder where the supply comes from.
"I was told by our research that linen added strength to the cotton
substrate. I asked other government security printers if they used
linen as part of or in addition to their cotton substrate. I really
don't think I found another country that did. After 19 years, my
statistics may be incorrect.
"As BEP director, I thought of suggesting to our research people that
we omit linen as a cost-savings device. However, this fell under "If
it ain't broke, don't fix it." This was especially true as we were
increasing both currency and postage stamp production. Our primary
aim had to be the quality of the substrates for both products, the
switch to new high-speed web stamp presses and new I-8 currency presses.
"Next time you and your wife slip into blue jeans for a relaxing night
out, think that those jeans might someday be in your pocket as dollar
[Bob also forwarded this excerpt from Currency News, March 2004,
by Reconnaissance International Ltd. -Editor]
"Banknote paper is made of 100% natural cellulose fibres from a
variety of sources, the most common of which is cotton, although
linen from the flax plant is used widelyparticularly in the USA
[75% cotton, 25% flax]. Other sources of cellulose range from wood
pulp to abaca (a type of reed used in the Philippines) or mitshumanat
(a fibrous bush used in Japan). Cotton is the preferred fibre for
banknote paper because of its availability and the strength and
durability which the fibre lengths provide.
"The main cotton-growing regions of the world, excluding the US,
are Spain, Greece and Turkey (all are GM-free, although the first
two have applied for authorization from the EU to trial GM cotton
production) and Brazil, Egypt, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, India,
Indonesia and China. The last three all produce GM cotton.
"The controversy concerns genetically-modified cotton, which is 75%
of the cotton grown in the US. The European Union has a prohibition
against GM cotton. The ECB (Bank) says that the amount of GM cotton
in euros is insignificant, although most of the euro cotton comes
from the US."
INFORMATION ON PAPER MONEY CLEANING SOUGHT
Web site visitor Amr Khalifa writes: "I collect mainly paper currency
from different countries. Some of these are soiled, or have some
writing on them. They are not like museum pieces or anything, and
I just thought if only I could clean them up a little I would enjoy
the way they look more.
"I used to collect coins and I know that cleaning coins is a big "no no"
as it can deteriorate their value to collectors So I thought there
must be some issues with cleaning old paper money, but I couldnt find
any material on HOW TO or pros and cons, or dos and don'ts. Do
you have any idea where I could go for information?"
[So ... can anyone refer us to a good source of information on paper
money cleaning and conservation? -Editor]
CHINESE OFFICIALS CRACK DOWN ON VIRTUAL CURRENCY
We recently reported on the growth of "virtual currency" in online
worlds. Friday's Wall Street Journal reported that "China's fastest-
rising currency isn't the yuan. It's the QQ coin -- online play money
created by marketers to sell such things as virtual flowers for
instant-message buddies, cellphone ringtones and magical swords for
"It's the most extreme case of a so-called virtual currency blurring
the boundaries between the online and real worlds -- and challenging
legal limits. A Chinese Internet company called Tencent Holdings Ltd.
designed the payment system in 2002 to allow its 233 million regular
registered users to shop for treats in its virtual world. Virtual
currencies are in use in many countries -- but nowhere have they
taken root more deeply than in China."
"Then last year something happened that Tencent hadn't originally
planned. Online game sites beyond Tencent started accepting QQ coins
as payment. The coins appeal as a safer, more practical way to conduct
small online purchases, because credit cards aren't yet commonplace
"At informal online currency marketplaces, thousands of users helped
turn the QQ coins back into cash by selling them at a discount that
varies based on the laws of supply and demand."
"The rapid rise of the QQ coin has caused angst for the government
in China, where circulation and trade of the real currency is
To read the complete article (subscription required), see:
NEWSFLASH: NUMISMATICS BECOMES FASHIONABLE
On Friday the New York Times published an article about the rise
of coins are fashion accessories:
"Back in the 1960s, Bulgari, the Italian fine jewelry company,
revived a millenniums-old Roman tradition of incorporating coins
into jewelry as a signature look in its own heavy gold necklaces,
bracelets and rings. It is a charming bit of aesthetic currency
that the company continues to revisit in its designs today.
"As it happens, coin pieces are now much in demand, thanks to a
new crop of designers who are depositing their loose change into
a variety of attractive investment options, er, designs.
"'People are into old-looking things, and coins are more directly
real if you are trying to get an antique look,' said Lisa Levine,
a jewelry designer with a shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Her
earrings and charm bracelets are laden with an international
representation of dangling coins, including Tunisian francs,
Jamaican cents, German pfennigs and French centimes donated by f
riends from their pre-euro piggy banks.
"Designers with a numismatic bent judge the artistry of ancient
coins with a jewelers eye for clarity, but other factors also
come into play.
"'I never buy debauched fat Roman emperors with double chins,'
Ms. Locke said. Imagine what theyll say, millenniums away,
about Susan B. Anthony."
To read the complete article, see:
MORE ON MEDALLIC ART ASHTRAY MEDALS
Dick Hanscom writes: "Dick Johnson's information on Medallic Art
Company ashtrays brought something to mind that he or someone else
might be able to help with.
"In the early 80s, I purchased four ashtray dies that came from one
of Seattle's stamping works. They were used to make souvenir ashtrays.
I have since acquired a couple more, plus a "positive" used to push
the thin metal up into the die.
"In 1982, I sent one of the dies, "On the White Pass & Yukon Railroad"
to Medallic Art Company to strike uniface medals. I left the die with
them, planning to pair it with two other dies (White Horse Rapids
and Skagway harbor) after I had struck uniface medals from them.
"I had the other two uniface medals struck, as well as a dog team die
titled 'Alaskan Express.'"
"I did not give another thought to the WP&Y die until Medallic Art
went bankrupt. I believe that I regained possession of the other three
dies (I am not sure as I can only put my hands on one right now, but I
think the other two are here). But I know I did not get the WP&Y
"Recently, I emailed the current company using the name Medallic
Art Co. but have not received a reply.
"Needless to say, I would like to find the "On the White Pass &
Yukon Railroad" die. I know it is a long shot, but what better
place to try!"
CORRECTION: SCOTS ON BANKNOTES
Regarding our earlier item about the new Bank of England Twenty Pound
note, Philip Mernick writes: "The Guardian Newspaper was quite wrong
is saying that Adam Smith was the first Scot to appear on a banknote.
He is the first Scot to appear on a Bank of England note. Many famous
Scots have appeared on the bank note issues of Scottish banks.
"Sir Walter Scott can be found on current issues of The Bank of
Scotland. Lord Islay (first Governor) appears on the current issues
of The Royal Bank of Scotland. The Clydesdale Bank goes further in
having a different person on each denomination: Robert Burns (Five
Pounds), Mary Slessor (Ten Pounds), Robert the Bruce (Twenty Pounds),
Adam Smith (Fifty Pounds) and Lord Kelvin (One Hundred Pounds).
"They can all be viewed on the "Current Banknotes" section of the
excellent Scottish Banking web site created by The Committee of
Scottish Clearing Bankers: http://www.scotbanks.org.uk ."
[I'm glad Phillip pointed out this obvious mistake, and I'm sorry
I missed it when I published the item originally (see the link below).
The article clearly states (incorrectly) that "He is the first Scot
to feature on a banknote." -Editor]
BANK OF ENGLAND LAUNCHES REDESIGNED TWENTY-POUND BANKNOTE
MORE ON REGIONAL CURRENCIES IN GERMANY AND THE U.S.
Regarding the recent regional currencies of Germany, William P.
Houston of Frankfurt am Main writes: "See also: The International
Herald Tribune, 8 Feb. 2007, for a longish article with two pictures
by Carter Dougherty titled "Pal, got a chiemgauer for a cup of coffee?"
See further: Dr. Arnold Keller, "Das Notgeld besonderer Art."
Copyright 1977 by Ernst Battenberg Verlag, Munich. From page 57,
under the title "Schwundgeld," (literally "shrinking money") he lists
the issues (including several U. S. towns and cities) which issued
notes of this kind following the ideas of Silvio Gesell."
SPEIGEL ARTICLE ON REGIONAL CURRENCIES IN GERMANY
BANKNOTES, INFLATION, AND CURRENCY REVALUATION
An article published this week by the libertarian Mises Institute
mentions the new "radioactive money" of Iran mentioned in an earlier
"The Islamic Republic of Iran has just issued a new 50,000 rial
banknote. An eye-catching feature of the banknote is the atomic
symbol on its reverse side, an orange-hued representation of six
electrons in orbit.
"While less explicit than its atomic symbol, another part of the
banknote speaks to the continuing break-down of the Iranian economy.
The denomination of the note 50,000 rials is much larger than
that of the highest banknote previously in circulation 20,000 rials;
which 20,000 rial note was only issued three years ago. In both cases,
the notes were issued because rampant inflation was making the
currency of the country awkward for use as a medium of exchange.
"Prior to the revolution, it took 70 rials to buy 1 US dollar. Today,
the official exchange rate is 9,300 rials to 1 US dollar, and there
is a vibrant black market in dollars."
[The article discusses similar inflations in Argentina, Brazil,
Yugoslavia and Zimbabwe, and pictures an interesting 1,000 cruzado
banknote of Brazil overprinted 1 new cruzado, illustrating how that
currency exchange worked in practice. -Editor]
"Argentina and Brazil mastered the art of legal pick-pocketing, and,
thus, proceeded to run very rapid rates of inflation for prolonged
periods of time. However, so as to prevent hernias in the use of money
as a medium of exchange, they had to print larger and larger
denominations of banknotes (as Iran is now doing), and even they had
to periodically call in the outstanding money and exchange it for
new money at a ratio of, e.g., 1,000 to 1.
"Over the years, Brazil exchanged cruzados for cruzerios, new cruzados
for cruzados, cruzerios reals for new cruzados, and reals for cruzerios
reals. Thus, Brazil was able, over an extended period of time, to
aggregate even more inflation than the former Yugoslavia, or in Germany
during the short-lived period of the Weimer Republic. In the ancient
world, Rome had similarly mastered the art of legal pick-pocketing
through debasement of the coinage. Over time, the denarius of Rome
became increasingly orange, as the coins were recast with less silver
and more copper, with periodic exchanges of nearly all-copper denarii
for new silver denarii at exaggerated exchange rates."
To read the complete article, see:
MISSOURI SALES TAX TOKENS
Regarding the "group of four wooden tokens from Missouri" found in
a Connecticut Historical Society safe, Bob Leonard writes: "From the
description in the actual article, these "wooden" tokens are
cardboard Missouri sales tax tokens of the second issue, in use
1936-37. Probably this represented a double set of two, 1 and 5
NUMISMATIC CONTENTS FOUND IN ANTIQUE SAFE OPENED IN CONNECTICUT
ON QUOTING PRICES WITH AND WITHOUT BUYER'S FEES
George Kolbe writes: "I read with interest your unnamed correspondent's
comments on our sale 102. Similar sentiments were prevalent when auction
firms initiated buyer premiums. I must say that I am often amused when
buying gasoline to see that prices are still quoted in mills, yet $2.49
9/10 still seems to trump $2.50 on the marquee; this at a time when
the cent has become obsolete.
"Over the years, I would guess that the lots sold in our auction
sales would be equal to about 85-90% of the total of their estimates.
The ratio varies. Some sales of especially desirable material have
brought well over 150% of estimate with 95% or more of the lots sold;
a few sales of mediocre material in poor economic times have realized
65-70% of estimate, with 25-30% of lots remaining unsold. All results
cited here compare hammer prices to hammer results.
"Sale 102 was basically an average "bread and butter" sale, yet the
85% of the lots that sold brought the total of the hammer prices of
all the lots. I have not taken the time to compute the estimates of
the unsold lots (perhaps some intrepid E-Sylum reader will do so)
but it seems likely that the lots sold brought at least 110% of
"That's a good sale! In addition to the positive results of this
and recent sales, my comments on the vitality of the numismatic
literature market reflect the considerable number of new entrants
to the numismatic literature market, combined with the strength of
our established clientele. I only wish there were more firms dealing
in numismatic literature, as there were a decade or two ago. The
opportunity is there, and more participants only widen the market.
"It's apples and oranges when gasoline is advertised at $2.49 and,
when it comes time to pay, $2.49 9/10 is charged. As long as that
mill is included on the marquee, most everyone, including the
math-impaired, realize that the effective price is $2.50."
MYSTERY MEDAL FOR "OUR COLORED HEROES"
The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (serving West Central Georgia and East
Alabama) published an article March 27th about a man's question for
information on an unusual medal:
"He didn't know what to make of it when he found it in a field
about 30 years ago.
"The item is a metal coin about the size of a half dollar. It's
not currency. On one side of the coin are an eagle and the profile
of a black soldier with the inscription 'Our Colored Heroes." On
the other are crossed U.S. flags with an inscription: "World War
began August 1, 1914. U.S. entered April 6, 1917. War ended Nov.
"The Phenix City resident says he is a coin collector and has
contacted others with similar interests here and elsewhere, but
he has had no luck with identifying the origin of the coin.
"He has been to museums and checked with civic groups. He has
searched on the Internet. He has hunted for a patent. He has
checked with people in the military.
"Adams found that more than 350,000 blacks served in segregated
units during World War I. Though they were eager to fight, they had
to provide support services. Many blacks did fight alongside the
French, with 171 members of the 369th Infantry Regiment being awarded
the French Legion of Honor. He found there was still a lot of
military segregation during World War II as well.
"He has enjoyed researching and reading about blacks in the military,
such as the Buffalo Soldiers, members of the calvary who fought
Indians in the 1800s, and the legendary Tuskegee Airmen who flew to
fame in World War II.
"He just wishes he could find out more about the coin."
To read the complete article, see:
[So, readers - any ideas? Has anyone seen this medal before? An
image accompanies the article. An eBay search turned up at least
one other (item# 260090072245). Another eBay item (#130080210754)
is a chromolithograph print dated 1918. It was sold by Swann
Galleries for $800.00. The lot description reads:
"Our Colored Heroes. Henry Johnson, Needham Roberts. Honored as
Heroes. Chromolithograph "uplift" print, 20x16 inches. Chicago:
"Before daylight on May 15, Pte. Henry Johnson and Pte. Roberts
while on sentry duty at some distance from one another, were
attacked by a German raiding party estimated at twenty men . . .
Both men fought bravely in hand-to-hand encounters, one resorting
to the use of a bolo knife after his rifle jammed . . ."The two
single-handedly were able to rout the Germans. The French were
the only ones to recognize their bravery by awarding them the
Now, the medal has no reference to this particular incident, so it
may be nothing more than a general tribute to black soldiers. But
if a publisher went to the trouble of producing the print, the
incident must have been reasonably well publicized at the time.
An Internet search on the two men's names led to the following item
on the Arlington National Cemetery web site:
"Henry Johnson and a fellow soldier, Needham Roberts, were on sentry
duty when they came under attack one night in May 1918 by a 20-man
German raiding party. Johnson drew his bolo knife from his belt and
fought off the Germans. Despite suffering three grenade and shotgun
wounds, he went to the aid of Roberts who was being taken prisoner
by the enemy."
"The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Henry Johnson,
Sergeant, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action in France
during the period 13 - 15 May 1918."
To read the complete article, see:
TUSKEGEE AIRMEN HONORED WITH CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL
"President Bush and Congress awarded the Tuskegee Airmen one of
the nation's highest honors Thursday for fighting to defend their
country even as they faced bigotry at home.
"For all the unreturned salutes and unforgivable indignities ...
I salute you for your service to the United States of America,"
Bush told the legendary black aviators, standing in salute as some
300 of them stood to return the gesture.
"At a ceremony in the sun-filled Capitol Rotunda, Bush then joined
congressional leaders and other dignitaries in awarding the veterans
most of them in their 80s the Congressional Gold Medal.
"Nearly 1,000 fighter pilots trained as a segregated Army Air Corps
unit at the Tuskegee, Ala., air base. President Franklin D. Roosevelt
had overruled his top generals and ordered that such a program be
"The medal for the airmen, made possible through legislation by Rep.
Charles Rangel (news, bio, voting record), D-N.Y., and Sen. Carl Levin
(news, bio, voting record), D-Mich., and signed last year by Bush,
will go to the Smithsonian Institution for display. Individual airmen
will receive bronze replicas."
To read the complete article, see:
To read a related article, see:
For the history and recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal, see:
For more information on the Tuskegee Airmen, see:
YOUNG ARTIST DESIGNS LAFAYETTE MEDAL
The Fayetteville Observer of North Carolina published an article
this week about a young man who stepped up to the task of designing
a new medal honoring Marquis de Lafayette.
"Michael TJ Jefferson has achieved the kind of distinction most
artists dream of. His work has been immortalized on a coin.
"Jefferson designed a commemorative medallion, a two-inch full-color
coin that is part of Fayettevilles yearlong celebration of Marquis
de Lafayettes 250th birthday. Fayetteville is named for the French
"It makes me think that I have the greatest job in the world,
says Jefferson, who is head of the print department at ARC Design
in downtown Fayetteville.
"The company he works for created the logo and other marketing tools
for the Lafayette 250th Committee. When the idea for a coin came up,
Jefferson volunteered to do the design. He sketched it on paper,
then created it on a computer. The result, he says, exceeded his
"Weve heard nothing but good things about it, Parfitt says.
People love it. Its very colorful. It isnt old-fashioned and
"Adam Johnson, one of owners of ARC Design, says Jefferson did a
lot of research to ensure the images on the coin were historically
accurate. He did a fantastic job with it, Johnson says."
To read the complete article, see:
SACAGAWEA DOLLAR COIN MODEL RANDY'L TETON VISITS COIN SHOW
According to a recent interview transcript on the web site of an
Idaho local television station, Sacagawea dollar coin model Randy'l
Teton visited a coin show in Idaho Falls:
"Randy'l Teton, Sacagawea Model: "The Sacagawea coin certainly
tells a story of a young woman, not just Native American, but a
young woman who survived with her child."
"Spending the last seven years sharing Sacagawea's story has
been a great honor.
"Randy'l Teton, Sacagawea Model: "I carry myself with great
pride and at the same time the dignity and respect that Sacagawea
should be given."
"For Jeff Parsons getting the opportunity to meeting Teton is
something he will never forget.
"Jeff Parsons, Coin Collector: "I've been collecting coins for
quite a few years now and the Sacagawea dollar is something that
always fascinated me It's just really neat and I will treasure
it for a long time."
"Teton does not just do coin shows, she also goes into local
schools to help educate students.
"Randy'l Teton, Sacagawea Model: "I'm always happy to go and
to teach them exactly who Sacagawea was and what she did for the
Lewis and Clark people."
To read the complete article, see:
WASHINGTON STATE QUARTER STRIKING CEREMONY
On Tuesday March 27 the Associated Press published a report from
Denver on the striking ceremony for the new Washington State
quarter, the 42nd in the series:
"Mike Gregoire, husband of Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, led
a ceremonial strike of the state's commemorative quarter at the
U.S. Mint on Monday.
"Gregoire hit a green button on the coin press twice, making
one Washington state quarter for himself and one for his wife.
But they won't be able to use them until the new quarter goes
into circulation Monday.
"The reverse side of the Evergreen State quarter bears an image
of a king salmon leaping out of the water with Mount Rainier in
the background. Gregoire said it represents the whole state."
"Eight more coins were struck by Washington state officials and
former residents who work at the Denver Mint. After the ceremonial
strike, the coin press resumed spitting out quarters at a rate of
750 a minute."
To read the complete Associated Press article, see:
BRITAIN ANNOUNCES 2008 COMMEMORATIVES
"A special commemorative coin will be struck next year to mark
Prince Charles' 60th birthday, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon
Brown said Thursday.
"The new coin will be one of three to be issued in 2008.
"Brown said Queen Elizabeth II had approved his recommendation
for crowns marking her eldest son and heir's birthday and also
the 450th anniversary of queen Elizabeth I's accession."
To read the complete article, see:
CONVICTED COUNTERFEITER FINDS A NEW OUTLET
In the dog-bites-man department, consumers in one Scottish town have
complained to authorities that gasoline prices are too low. Not that
they don't love a bargain, but they smell a rat. The Herald of Glasgow,
Scotland published a story March 30 about a convicted counterfeiter
raising eyebrows with his latest business venture:
"Hundreds of concerned motorists have called trading standards and
HM Revenue and Customs about how James McDonald, who has served a
seven-year sentence for handling counterfeit money, is selling fuel
for less than half the normal pump price from the Auld Brig Filling
Station in Tullibody, Clackmannanshire.
"Since February, for a £100 annual fee, drivers have been able to join
his Motor Vehicle Protection Association (MVPA) and fill up with 50
litres of petrol or diesel a week. The 58-year-old, who has a long-standing
reputation for finding loopholes in the law, said his operation is
perfectly legal and plans to locate MVPA depots around the UK.
"He said the money goes towards research and development of a retrofit
gadget called the Ripple Generator he's invented, which he claimed cuts
carbon emissions and improves fuel efficiency. Mr McDonald once said he
had found a way to allow a petrol engine to run on water."
To read the complete article, see:
[Who knows what the guy in Scotland is up to, if anything, but the
situation reminds me of nothing but Alves Reis, "The Man Who Stole
Portugal". A con man who duped a British bank note printer into
believing he was an official of the Portuguese government, Reis
obtained millions of dollars worth of real but unauthorized banknotes.
Rather than pass them through shills and share the profits, he instead
opened a bank and quickly undercut his competitors' rates. Business
boomed and he ALMOST got away with it. -Editor]
"Reis' downfall came as a result of a fluke of fortune. A teller in
Oporto, a city of some distance from Lisbon, came to the conclusion
that Reis and his crowd must be counterfeiters. He had absolutely no
evidence for his conclusion, but he was so convinced that he had a
bank official telephone the Bank of Portugal in Lisbon... In desperation
they sorted the bills by serial numbers and found several duplicate
"Reis was convicted and sent to prison where he spent nearly twenty
years; he died penniless in 1955."
NEW SERIES OF GREEN TOKENS ISSUED TO REDUCE OBESITY IN AMERICANS
Dick Johnson writes: "Announcement was made this week of green tokens
to be issued reminiscent of the red and blue Office of Price Administration
(OPA) tokens of World War II. They are sponsored by the government to
encourage the consumption of protein and the reduction of obesity in
Americans. The tokens do not have denominations, but instead identify
the type of human protein on them. The total number of varieties has
not been announced yet. The fabricated tokens are manufactured by the
Soylent Green Corporation.
The announcement was made on National Public Radio Sunday morning.
The announcer continued deadpan (my memory, not verbatim) 'the Soylent
Corporation provides nutritional supplements, with a focus on protein
in different colors for different purposes. Soylent Green is named after
dead people from the movie of the same name. This is NPR, National
Yup, it's April First, and someone at NPR has the right sort of
sense of humor."
[Yes, readers, it's April Fool's Day, and at least one of this week's
items is completely fictitious. But you figured that out already,
didn't you, smarty pants? -Editor]
FEATURED WEB SITE: NOVA'S SECRETS OF MAKING MONEY
This week's featured web site is recommended by John and Nancy Wilson
of Ocala, FL.
"Welcome to the companion Web site to the NOVA program "Secrets of
Making Money," originally broadcast on October 22, 1996. The program
follows the U.S. Treasury and the Secret Service on a joint mission
to stay ahead of counterfeiters and make a better, more hi-tech buck."
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