The E-Sylum v10#15, April 15, 2007

esylum at esylum at
Sun Apr 15 20:15:33 PDT 2007

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 10, Number 15, April 15, 2007:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2007, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Peter Tillou, courtesy of Sam 
Pennington, Robert Zornes, Jamie Yakes and Wayne Herndon.  
Welcome aboard!  We now have 1,095 subscribers.

It's been a busy week, and I'm all out of Words for this evening, 
other than to wish my daughter Hannah a happy birthday - she turned 
three yesterday, April 14th.  Have a great week, everyone.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


April 15-21 is the 84th National Coin Week sponsored by the American 
Numismatic Association.  The ANA web site notes that "Each year during 
the third week of April, the American Numismatic Association celebrates 
National Coin Week with exhibits, presentations and other activities 
at civic centers, libraries, and schools to let the world know about 
the joys of collecting and studying coins, paper notes, and other forms 
of money."

Coincidentally, the American Library Association observes National 
Library Week during the same period.  For numismatic bibliophiles, 
it's a match made in heaven.  So as George Heath might have said, 
'What is the matter with having a National Coin Book Week?'

What events might we bibliophiles arrange to help spread the word 
about our little corner of the numismatic hobby, while also boosting 
numismatics and literacy in general?  Let's hear your thoughts, readers, 
and perhaps by this time next year The E-Sylum will be reporting on 
activities of the first National Coin Book Week.

National Coin Week

National Library Week


Independent numismatic literature dealer Douglas Saville (formerly 
of Spink) writes: "My website now has 100 or so books listed. Another 
300+ will go on very soon."

To visit the Douglas Saville Numismatic Books web site, see: 


New subscriber Mikhail Istomin of Kharkov, Eastern Ukraine writes: 
"Recently I published Volume I of a catalogue on paper money during 
the Civil War in Russia.   Roughly, the catalogue covers the notes 
listed in Pick under #101-244. It is in Russian/English with 
parallel texts. 
Volume I

"This catalogue considers the paper money of government and 
municipal issues during the Civil War in such regions of the 
former Russian Empire:

Chapter I    –  Northern region of Russia;
Chapter II   –  Northwestern region of Russia;
Chapter III  – Russian Baltic provinces (Baltic states);
Chapter IV –  Central region of Russia;
Chapter V  –  Russian  Northwest provinces (Byelorussia);
Chapter VI -  Stamping and overprints on bonds.   

"Before each issue there is brief information on the government / 
region /province. The notes are priced in US dollars, usually for 
three grades. The majority of the issues are illustrated.  The 
differences between the varieties are explained in words and when 
possible, shown visually.  Many notes are illustrated for the 
first time.  

"248 pages, hardbound with colorful cover (280x205mm).  Russian & 
English language with parallel texts. 195 black and white 
illustrations of banknotes, 20 colored illustrations in the end 
sheets (face + back – one illustration).

"The price of the catalogue is 40 dollars with slow registered 
mail and 42 dollars with quick registered mail. For all other 
details please contact me at: istomin1956 at " 

To view the front and back covers of the book, see: 


Jørgen Sømod writes: "On May 24 2007 will be published the 5th 
volume of 13 planned in my big project:

Jørgen Sømod, Danske & norske medailler & jetoner siden jernalderen 
og indtil 1788 (Danish & Norwegian medals & jetons since the iron 
age and until 1788), 2006, 252 pages, hardbound, ISBN 87-85103-36-5.

Jørgen Sømod
Hollændervej 20
DK 1855 Frederiksberg C
Telefon X 45 - 33212484

Mailto:numis at
See also "


This week Ed Snible writes in his blog, 'A Gift for Polydektes': 
"Google recently added a bunch more full-view and downloadable 
issues of the Numismatic Chronicle. Most of the 1850s issues 
are now available."

To read the complete blog entry, see:

To view Ed Snible's Numismatic Chronicle online guide, see: 

For issues of Numismatic Chronicle scanned by the Million Book Project, see: 

For issues of Numismatic Chronicle scanned by Google, see:


Sam Pennington writes: "Ben Weiss and I have been tasked to update 
the Medal Collectors of America web site. We have just posted many 
back issues of the MCA Advisory, the monthly newsletter of MCA. 
They are in .pdf form.  There is lots of good writing by experts 
and even some novices like myself. Pictures, too!"

To access the MCA Advisory archive, see: 


Ray Williams writes: "I received a book as a gift from a friend 
yesterday - it is a reprint of Swift's Drapier's Letters.  Many 
of the pages have not been cut and I was hoping to get a recommendation 
as to the best way to cut them open.  My initial thoughts were to 
use a razor knife but I thought I'd check here first."

[You've got a great friend there, and you've come to the right place 
for advice.  We had a discussion on this topic a couple years ago, 
and here are links to the items in our archive.  The definitive answer 
came from George Kolbe:  do NOT use a sharp knife, as it can easily 
cut things you don't want to.  It is far better to use a DULL knife 
(and an ordinary table knife will do). See the E-Sylum excerpt below.  

   Alan Luedeking writes: "I was intrigued by Steve Woodland's
   success story in opening his "virgin" book. I have often been
   faced with this dilemma with Latin American numismatic
   literature (a classic example being Burzio's "Diccionario", an
   essential read, often encountered unopened.) The first time,
   I did what Steve did: I took a "very sharp knife" and failed
   dismally. Careful as I was, nothing could change the fact that
   I'm basically a clumsy oaf, so of course I slipped and slit a
   page away from its natural fold. Belatedly recognizing my
   shortcomings, I stopped and did what I should have done
   from the start: ask George Kolbe for his advice! To my
   great surprise, George said to use a very dull knife (an
   ordinary table knife), and voilá!-- this has worked
   successfully every time.





Rich Hartzog writes: "William Swoger of Michigan is finishing his 
book on Heraldic Art Medals and requests the following information.  
He is seeking the original issue price for the gold issues (#1 to 7, 
1959-61), and the silver Special Issues of the Heraldic Art Medals, 

Dag Hammarsksjold
John Glenn
John Fitzgerald
Herbert Hoover
Adlai Stevenson
Dwight Eisenhower
American Bicentennial

"Anyone with any original literature, or contemporary articles 
should contact me at hartzog at, as Swoger does not 
currently have email access."

[A web page on Rich's web site has a good deal of 
information about the Heraldic Art medals series. A short excerpt 
appears below. -Editor]

"In 1954 the U.S. ceased making commemorative coins because of 
abuses perpetrated by Congress and the sponsors of these coins. 
Commemorative coins would not be struck again until the U.S. 
bicentennial, and then not again until 1982.  Robert McNamara 
recognized the dilemma that this policy produced as there were 
many events in our history that were worthy of being recognized 
and celebrated within the scope of our national commemorative 
coin program.  

"In 1959, Robert  began the issuance of commemorative medals, the 
size and weight of our half-dollar and with reeded edges and exact 
weight (192 grains) but a higher fineness (.925 silver as opposed 
to .900 fine), to replicate as close as possible, the U.S. half-dollar.  
The U.S. treasury was alerted to this effort and informed Bob that 
he would have to make some change to his medals so that they would 
not pass as half dollars in machines.  His answer was to add 70 
extra grains of sterling silver to the weight of each medal.  

"Now, without the encumbrances of Congressional legislation, (he 
did not have to include a denomination, “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”, 
“IN GOD WE TRUST”, “LIBERTY” or “E PLURIBUS UNUM” on any of his medals), 
he proceeded to strike three different medals each year and continued 
the program through 1978, making 60 different lovely medals over 
the 20-year period"

To read the complete article, see: 


Jim Hirtle writes: "What -- if anything -- is known about a business 
relationship between Boston coin dealer William Von Bergen and B. Max 
Mehl?  I am interested in writing a paper about the two.  Does anyone 
have any information?  Thanks!"


Larry Dziubek writes: "I wonder if one of your readers can help - 
we are trying to determine the location of a maverick token / spinner 
issued around 1960 based on the style of the phone number.  It reads: 
'CORNER  SHOP / 2528  E.  11TH   /   WE 6-8168 /  COINS - ANTIQUES  
/  RAY WHEELER'.  Thank you."

[The E. 11th Street address could be in any number of cities or 
towns.  Perhaps Wheeler was a member of the American Numismatic 
Association.  David Sklow has an ANA member database through 1955, 
but no Wheeler is listed.  Perhaps a later membership directory 
lists him.  Can anyone help?  I no longer have my handy stash of 
old directories.  -Editor]

Dick Johnson writes: "To answer Oded Paz's E-Sylum: Pop-out coins 
are made with a die and force. On September 15, 1972 Medallic Art 
Company purchased the August Frank Company's medal division and 
obtained all their dies. Among perhaps 7,000 dies was one that 
created just such pop-out coins. It was a lady's head intended for 
a half dollar coin. 

"I tried it manually - attempting to hammer the reverse to force 
the coin into the die's cavities like repoussé - without much success. 
I concluded it had to be done on a press with a FORCE, a die with 
the positive image that drove the proper mass of the coin into the 
negative design of the die at hand. I believe I still have that 
mangled half dollar (I couldn't return it to circulation since I 
was the one who mutilated it)."

[August Frank!  That does seem to ring a bell now.  Can anyone 
locate an August Frank advertisement listing pop-out coins for 
sale?  -Editor]


Jørgen Sømod forwarded a copy of the April 2007 issue of 
'International Numismatic e-News (INeN), the Electronic Newsletter 
of the International Numismatic Commission.   Published in English, 
French, German, Italian, and Spanish, back issues of the INeN can 
be downloaded from the organization's website.

"The International Numismatic Commission was founded in 1934 to 
facilitate cooperation between scholars and between institutions 
in the field of numismatics and related disciplines. The Commission 
has now about 150 members from 36 countries. These include museums, 
university institutes, numismatic societies and mints."

To visit the International Numismatic Commission web site, see: 


Regarding David Rinehart query about Roman legion counterstamps, 
Dan Demeo writes: "I do know something of the Legion X Fretensis, 
due to a fellow who was doing exactly what David seems to be doing;  
he gave several talks at our local ancient coin club, illustrated 
with coins, bricks, etc.  He has moved away from Southern California 
to the north; his name is Richard Baker.  He was quite accomplished 
in counterstamps and their use, especially Legion X -- there were 
two tenth legions, and one must discern counterstamps of one from 
the other, based on the location of the legion and the date and 
location of the coin that was counterstamped.  

"Richard has part of his collection on the net at 

"At one point, Richard was writing something on legionary 
counterstamps -- it may have ended up in a publication of the 
Society of Ancient Numismatics (SAN) or a similar organization."  

Dan Demeo adds: "We really shouldn't get in the habit of copying 
and sending articles from a copyrighted publication like the Numismatist 
to someone -- David could ask the ANA Librarian--they would be the 
proper people to forward copies of their publication."

[I usually do just what Dan suggests – encourage people to join the 
American Numismatic Association to get the article from their library.  
I just don’t have or take the time to do that explicitly for every 
query.   David in fact first wrote to me asking about dealers who 
may have the issue in stock for purchase.  Unfortunately, modern 
periodicals like The Numismatist are so common I'm not aware of any 
dealer who actively stocks them.  Many thanks to Joe Boling and Bill 
Malkmus who both offered to send David a copy of the article he 
needed for his research.  -Editor]


According to a press release issued by the ANA this week, "The 
American Numismatic Association held a luncheon Monday at the 
Money Museum to recognize six staff members, each observing more 
than 15 years of service and celebrating a combined 140 years of 
service to the association. 

"Pictured from left to right are Barbara Gregory, 26 years; Joyce 
Wohlfert, 15 years; Sandy Hill, 17 years; Kimberly Kiick, 25 years; 
Marilyn Reback, 22 years; and, Brenda Bishop, 27 years. 

"In 1980, Meeting Services Director and Certified Meeting Planner 
Brenda Bishop began work at the ANA as a receptionist and accounting 
assistant and has held a number of related positions, including 
personnel and business manager, before accepting the challenge of 
managing the Association's meetings and conventions in 1998. 

"Numismatist Editor Barbara Gregory joined the Association in 1981 
as a part-time editorial assistant, new to the hobby of coin 
collecting. Since then, she has become an advanced numismatist and 
credits a previous Numismatist Editor, Neil Harris, with instilling 
the importance of quality and attention to detail. 

"'I have enjoyed spending over half my life with the ANA - and can't 
imagine being anywhere else,' Gregory said. 

"Gregory worked for 22 of her 25 years alongside Marilyn Reback, 
who began work at the ANA as a temporary employee in 1985. Reback 
cites her degree in math with preparing her for the exacting detail 
and concentration that is necessary as senior editor of publications." 

[Congratulations to all of the honored ANA staffers.  Marilyn Reback 
was the Editor of our print journal, The Asylum for a number of years, 
so I've worked with her in that capacity as well as in her role at 
the ANA.  As General Chairman of the 2004 Pittsburgh convention I had 
the pleasure of working closely with Barbara Gregory and Brenda Bishop 
as well.  All are top-notch folks who get the job done day in and day 
out at ANA headquarters.  Hip hip, hooray!  -Editor]


According to a press release issued by the ANA on Monday, "Eighteen 
members of the American Numismatic Association have accepted their 
nominations for positions on the 2007-2009 ANA Board of Governors.

"The Board consists of a president, vice president and seven governors. 
All serve two-year terms, and all are elected by the ANA membership 
on an at-large basis. Candidates were required to receive a minimum 
of five club and five individual nominations. Nominations closed on 
March 31 and candidates had until April 7 to accept or decline their 

"Barry S. Stuppler of Woodland Hills, CA and Patricia Jagger-Finner 
of Iola, WI are running unopposed for the offices of president and 

"ANA Governor Brian E. Fanton of Hiawatha, IA, has resigned from the 
Board to attend to family matters, and has elected not to accept 
his nomination for office.

"Candidates for governor are (listed alphabetically):
• Joseph E. Boling of Indianapolis, IN
• M. Remy Bourne of Vadnais Heights, MN
• Donald H. Dool of Crystal Lake, IL
• Michael B. Doran of Greenup, IL
• John R. Eshbach of Smoketown, PA
• Arthur M. Fitts III of Framingham, MA
• Alan Herbert of Belle Fourche, SD
• Donald H. Kagin of Tiburon, CA
• Chester L. Krause of Iola, WI
• Clifford Mishler of Iola, WI
• Walter A. Ostromecki of Panorama City, CA
• Edward C. Rochette of Colorado Springs, CO
• Carl Schwenker III of Houston, TX
• Radford Stearns of Stone Mountain, GA
• Anthony A. Tumonis of Tucson, AZ
• Wendell A. Wolka of Greenwood, IN

"Election ballots, as well as a photograph and a biography/platform 
supplied by each candidate, will be sent by the independent auditing 
firm of BiggsKofford, P.C., to eligible voting ANA members. Mailed 
in late May, the envelope will indicate that a ballot is enclosed.

"Candidate photographs and biographies/platforms also will be 
published in the June issue of the ANA's Numismatist magazine.

"Ballots must be returned to the auditing firm by July 19. Election 
results will be announced on or before July 29, and the new Board of 
Governors will be sworn in at the ANA's World’s Fair of Money 
convention banquet in Milwaukee on August 11."


In his ad in the April 2007 Bank Note Reporter, paper money dealer 
Tom Denly writes: "This past weekend, I had the chance to speak with 
a member of the ANA Board at a show... He did not read BNR, but then 
said he did not read Coin World or Numismatic News - I wrote him off 
my [list of] preferred vote getters.  How can a person represent me 
if he does not know how the industry feels?

"You will be asked to vote on the members of the board this coming 
June or July.  The ANA has been losing money and it truly needs a 
turn-around with new board members who know how to run a business 
and how to make money.  This is my opinion and you will hear more 
in coming months."

[A Board member could be forgiven for not reading a specialty 
publication like Bank Note Reporter.  It would also be hard to 
find fault with a member for not reading BOTH of the weekly hobby 
newspapers.  But to not read either?  That seems downright bizarre.  

I'm not familiar with many of the current board members, and not 
all are running for reelection.  But you can't accuse the regular 
E-Sylum contributors among the board candidates of not reading 
the numismatic literature - they wrote much of it.  Folks like 
Joe Boling, John Eshbach, Ed Rochette and Wendell Wolka need 
little introduction to those in the know among ANA membership 
and hobby leadership.  To Tom Denly's point about business leadership, 
Chet Krause and Cliff Mishler are successful businessmen known 
throughout the hobby for their achievements with Krause Publications. 
Please consider their position statements carefully, along with 
those of all the candidates when it comes time to cast your ballot. 


April Fools articles aren’t the only made-up items in numismatic 
periodicals (and no, I'm not talking about ad copy).  Fred Reed 
in his 'Shades of the Blue & Grey' column in the April 2007 Bank 
Note Reporter discusses a bogus item inserted into a Coin World 
column that appeared in the paper in February 1969.  Reed's article 
discusses the "Romain" copies of U.S. Encased Postage Stamps that 
appeared in the 1960s and have vexed collectors ever since.  

"Alerted to the fakes by John J. Ford, Coin World Editor Margo 
Russell, working with U.S. postal authorities, used the fake item 
to help identify and alert collectors who may have been taken in 
by the scam.

"In Jim Johnson's 'Collector's Clearinghouse' column, Russell 
inserted a fake letter asking for collectors to contribute to a 
census of encased postage for an upcoming book.  The purported 
author and letter writer was a "Margaret Wallace Graham" of New 
York.  The name was invented by Russell using "a contrived combination 
of my mother's maiden name and mine..."

"The article noted "Encased Postage has a history but not too much 
has been published numismatically, and we have a request for assistance 
from a reader who is hoping to remedy that."

"Unfortunately, there was apparently little response to the request 
and ultimately the trail grew cold.  Reed is interested in learning 
if any of our readers has further information on the copies or their 
mysterious maker."


Bob Leuver forwarded the following extract from 'The History of Money', 
by Jack Weatherford, Crown Publishers, New York (Random House), 1997. 
He writes: "Jack's book is a great read."

"BUCK.  Settlers used the skin of the North American deer for trade.  
Each skin was known as a buck, a word that has survived as a slang 
term for a dollar.  (pg. 23)  President Harry S. Truman declared 
“The Buck stops here.”  At the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, 
machines have signs that read “The buck starts here.”   “Today the 
electronic buck neither starts nor stops; it is in constant motion.” 
(pg 249)"

Eric P. Newman writes: "In your April 8, 2007 E-Sylum there is an 
answer about the word "buck" meaning dollar. Before Julian Liedman 
answers his inquirer I believe more study should me made. In the 
late 18th century and early 19th century deerskin exchange for 
commercial transactions was commonly used in the Mississippi Valley 
(including its Missouri and Ohio tributaries) at fluctuating values 
around 2 1/2 to 3 deerskins to the French piastre or the Spanish 
dollar. It was called in French "peaux de chevreuille" (variously 
spelled). It should be researched further as to when one deerskin 
became worth as much as a US Dollar. Whiskey at 5 bucks per keg in 
the early 18th century was not $5, but 5 shaved deer skins." 

[My daughter Hannah illustrated that usage of the word "buck" is 
still much in vogue after two hundred years.  Playing in her toy 
kitchen this evening she made Daddy a hamburger and said, "thirty 
bucks, please!"   This is one kid that should have no trouble 
paying her own way through college.  And she'll have to if I buy 
too many thirty-buck hamburgers between now and then. -Editor]


George Fuld writes: "The discussion about coin cabinets in the 
April 8th E-Sylum brings to mind a cabinet that my father and I 
acquired about 1970.

"When George Williams died in the early 70’s, we found out some 
history about him.  His major interest was collecting Maryland 
tokens — a subject in which we were most interested.   Tom Warfield, 
of Mason-Dixon Coin Co., acquired from his estate the collection of 
Maryland tokens and a wonderful pure mahogany coin cabinet.

"Williams worked for about twenty years for Waldo Newcomer as his 
special assistant for his numismatic interests.  Williams did all 
the mundane things involved with building a first rate collection 
for Newcomer.  (Of interest is that Louis Eliasberg, Sr. also had 
a full time numismatic assistant, a lady whose name I cannot recall.  
She also did all the mundane things required to build a fine 
collection for her boss).  When Newcomer committed suicide in 1933, 
in his will, Newcomer gave only one thing to Williams, his mahogany 
coin cabinet.

"This cabinet housed Newcomer’s U.S. gold collection.  It stands on 
its own legs with three tiers of about 15 trays, all made of mahogany.  
Each tray (or drawer) had small wooden dowels to make divided space 
for each coin.  There is also a large drawer above with two large 
trays with dividers that would hold larger coins — those greater than 
about 40mm.  The cabinet was housed in my father’s coin room until 
his death in 1987.  We had our Maryland token collection housed in it.  

"The cabinet (about 3 ½ feet wide, 15 inches deep and standing about 
5 feet high) stayed at my mother’s apartment until she moved to Santa 
Barbara in 1990.  I considered selling the cabinet (a local coin 
dealer, Milton Lynn had been trying to buy it for years and even 
asked about it at the Baltimore show last week.)

"When my son Robert heard that we wanted to sell it, he had an 
inspiration.  “I will keep the cabinet in our living room as a 
major addition to our furnishings.”  The cabinet has sat in my 
son’s living room since 1990 — completely empty.  My son has no 
interest whatsoever in coins or anything to do with them!  Thus, 
Waldo Newcomer’s coin cabinet remains in our family — empty but 
not forgotten."


Smithsonian Networks' has issued a press release about its upcoming 
programming schedule, which includes an episode on the 1933 Double 
Eagle.  But numismatists will do a double take when they view the 
image of the fabled coin included with the press release - it is NOT 
of an example of the coin (two of which are in the Smithsonian's 
National Numismatic Collection. Rather, it is an image of a clearly 
labeled COPY of the REVERSE of the Saint-Gaudens twenty, not even 
showing the 1933 date.  This is bizarre - how accurate can the 
production be if they can't even illustrate the right coin?

To view the image of the ersatz 1933 Double Eagle, see:  

To read the complete press release, see: 



Sam Pennington writes that he has just posted to his Maine Antique 
Digest web site a copy of his third column on medals.  He writes: 
"It's on the Society of Medalists. Again, not much new but there 
are color pictures of many medals."

To reads the complete article, see:  

[The images are marvelous, as are the medals themselves. It's hard 
to choose a single favorite. Among mine are:
SOM#45: "Pony Express and Prairie Schooner" by James Earle Fraser
SOM#31: "For Conquer We Must" by Rene P. Chambellan
SOM#1:  "Hunter and Dog" by Laura Gardin Fraser


Regarding last week's question from Sam Pennington about the 
definition of medal sizes, Ron Abler writes: "I pursued an answer 
to Sam's question, initially by asking Joe Levine, whose expertise 
I trust implicitly.  Sam had already asked him, and he had referred 
Sam to Dick Johnson.  I hope Dick has all the answers (he usually 
does), but I'd like to add more to the question: 

1) what is the official distinction between a plaque and a plaquette?  
2) Are there other types or shapes within exonumia that would be 
included in a definitive list such as this?  

"My two cents' worth:

Medalet -- less than 25mm.
Medallion -- variously, over 2, 2.5, or 3 inches, depending on source.
Medal -- whatever lies between the two.
Plaque -- rectangular, more than 8 inches at its longer dimension.
Plaquette -- less than 8 inches."

[Thanks also to Bill Murray who snail-mailed me photocopies of medal 
size definitions from the Coin World, Macmillan and Frey dictionaries 
of numismatic terms.  In these, 'medalet' is typically defined as 
less than 35mm. -Editor]

Henry Scott Goodman writes: "I think Sam was thinking about the FAQ 
page of the Medal Collectors of America website.  Our own Dick Johnson 
wrote many of the answers for these FAQ's.  
[The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page is lengthy, so I've 
excerpted answer to "What is the difference between medal and 
medallion?" here. It was indeed written by Dick Johnson.  -Editor]

"It is a matter of size, medallions are large medals. Numismatists 
in Europe say medallions have a diameter of 80 millimeters or larger; 
this equivalent in inches (3 - 3/16-inch) is the dividing line 
between medals and medallions in America. But "medal" and "medallion" 
are used so indiscriminately by the public that these definitions 
are blurred in most people's minds (who may not even be aware that 
the concept of size is the distinction).

"Another term for medals, “medalet” is a small medal, under one inch 
(25.4mm). Two other terms you should know: “Plaque” and “plaquette.” 
Generally square or rectangular medals. The dividing line between the 
two – eight inches (20.3 cm). If a plaque gets too big it's called a 
tablet (these are measured in feet and are rarely collected). I cut 
off medallic items at 18 inches or less as collectable (at least in 
my directory of American Artists)."

To read the complete medal FAQ, see:

Dick Johnson adds:  "The medal dimensions in that FAQ are still 
"When I cataloged Medallic Art Company's medals I took the diameters 
from the files and only occasionally did a measurement. But I learned 
these could be off somewhat. The answer was that medals struck in 
collar dies do not vary in diameter. Round medals struck with Open 
Face dies (which caused excess flash to extrude between the dies) have 
to be trimmed on a lathe. This is a manual operation and depends on 
the operator. A 3-inch medal could vary up to 2mm smaller or 1mm larger 
than exactly 3-inch.
"When I was a medal dealer I measured every medal - perhaps 50,000 
such measurements in all. All that time I wished there were some kind 
of ruler or calipers or something that would give me both millimeters 
and inches (aliquot). I like millimeters since they are more accurate. 
Inches have to be rounded off. I ended up measuring only in millimeters 
and looked that up on a chart I prepared for the rounded off inch
measurement. I put both in my catalog descriptions.
"Why?  You can see in your mind the width of a millimeter, and even 
a tenth of a millimeter (.1mm). Can you imagine in your mind 1/64th 
of an inch, let alone 1/128th or smaller. I rounded off to the 
nearest 1/32th of an inch.
"When compiling that FAQ I devised what I call an "M-Chart." It is 
an expanded version of that old chart that answers all the questions 
about medallic sizes, and gives a lot of tips like 'don't include the 
loop in the measurement', 'give height first then width' (the opposite 
of postage stamps in philately). It would be handy for medal 
collectors, curators and such.
"The board of the Medal Collectors of America learned of my project 
and offered me a grant to publish it. I learned, however, it would 
cost three to four times the amount of that grant to produce it. I 
did not accept the grant, and set the project aside. Perhaps now is 
the time to revive it."

Harry Waterson writes: "Here is a little glossary I put together 
after the discussion of tondo last fall. This grid represents my 
understanding of the terms as I use them but are certainly subject 
to correction and/or emendation by the wider readership of 
The E-Sylum.

"Medallic Size Words Glossary			

Medalet - Round - up to 25mm	
Medal - Round - 26mm to 80mm	
Medallion- Round - 81mm to 30.5cm (usually two-sided)
Circular Relief - Round - over 30.5cm (usually one-sided)
Tondo	- Round - over 30.5cm (used architecturally)

Plaquette - Square or Rectangular - Longest side under 30.5cm 
(may be two-sided)

Plaque - Square or Rectangular - Longest side between 30.5cm 
and 61cm (usually one-sided)

Tablet - Square or Rectangular - Longest side over 61 cm 
(usually one-sided)"

Katie Jaeger writes: "I spent a great deal of time and consultation 
on my definition of these items, written for my Whitman Guide to 
American Tokens and Medals. All of my manuscript reviewers had 
something to say about it, and it was revised and reworded many 
times.  Sam Pennington may have read his size definition in Q. David 
Bower's and my 100 Greatest American Medals and Tokens; he was invited 
to review the manuscript for us, and that text is comparable to this.
Dick Johnson has been trying to establish a standard terminology that 
everyone will use.  I hoped to take that approach in my Guide as well, 
but my manuscript reviewers took exception and I came to agree with 
them.  There were just too many medal and token makers doing their 
own thing in the 19th century, to create definitions that cover 
[In the next item we reprint the text of Katie's section on the 
definitions of medals, tokens and coins. -Editor]


With permission (via a letter from publisher Dennis Tucker), we're 
reprinting Katie Jaeger's discussion of the definitions of medals, 
tokens and coins from her upcoming Whitman book, "A Guide Book of 
American Tokens and Medals"

"Many of the items Russell Rulau lists in his indispensable Standard 
Catalog of United States Tokens, 1700–1900, were called medals by 
their makers. For example, he includes a great many store cards, 
struck as advertising pieces for businesses to hand out like today’s 
business cards. Other pre-1900 items (e.g., membership, souvenir, 
and political campaign pieces) had no monetary or exchange value, 
yet were small, inexpensive, and the same size as the tokens of their 
era. These items might be collected along with tokens, but should be 
termed medalets.

"Throughout history, the uses of coins, tokens, and medals have 
overlapped somewhat, as this book will show. Most collectors agree 
with Ken Bressett’s terminology: “I always use token to mean something 
that has a value, or is a substitute for some other form of money. 
A medal (in all its various sizes and forms) is a commemorative, 
artistic, or instructive piece, with no intended monetary value. 
A coin must be authorized by a governing body for use as money.” 

"Factors of quality and size also come into play when defining objects 
as tokens or medals. Generally, if a great deal of care and expense 
went into producing the item, if it has high relief and a thick 
planchet (that is, the blank disc of metal on which the designs are 
struck), and if it is made of precious metal, it is a medal. Medals 
almost always featured a high level of workmanship. If the item is 
thin, lightweight, made of an inexpensive metal or alloy, and bears 
a simple, single-struck design, it is probably a token.

"In his token catalogs, Rulau includes items 33 millimeters in 
diameter and smaller, and most tokens do fall below that size. 
American medals expert D. Wayne Johnson and political exonumia 
specialist Edmund Sullivan set the cutoff between medal and medalet 
at 25.4 mm (one inch). Broadly speaking, medals are bigger than 
tokens, and as longtime numismatic writer Cliff Mishler says, 
“Collectors tend to be expansive of size within their specialty 
to embrace the issues they favor.”

"Very large medals—round medallions and square or rectangular 
plaquettes (up to eight inches in diameter)—are easy to distinguish 
from tokens. Some medal dealers stock sculpted bas-relief plaques 
(greater than eight inches in diameter), especially if a smaller 
version has been struck and sold as a plaquette, but such large items 
really do not fall into the category of exonumia. They present 
storage problems for people set up for collecting tokens and medals, 
and they are too large to have been struck from dies. Exonumists 
generally take greatest interest in die-struck objects."


The technology publisher C|Net had a nice interview this week with 
Robert Schafrik, Chairman of the National Research Council committee 
on currency counterfeiting.  The committee recently published a 
report on the state of counterfeiting made a number of proposals 
for anti-counterfeiting measure.  Here are some excerpts:

"Let's look at some of the specific suggestions. One suggestion was 
the use of plastic in the currency.

"Schafrik: There is a security thread in there, which actually is a 
strip of plastic, and so one could extend that idea--you know, embed 
more plastic things or even a plastic window in the currency. There 
are a lot of neat things that we thought of doing. Of course, the 
Achilles heel that you've to look at is...the durability." 

"Counterfeiters don't have to do something exactly right--all they 
have to do is emulate it or make it good enough to pass once. So the 
other trick is to design some of these new features like using plastic 
(so that) if they did try to emulate that feature, it would still be 
obvious that it was a counterfeit. 

"I read that one possibility might even be to make currency uncuttable
--if you can cut (a banknote), it's counterfeit; if you can't cut it, 
it's real.

"Schafrik: Right. You could embed something on one of the edges that 
would be made from a very durable type of polymer, and you could twist 
it, cut it or whatever and that would be proof positive."

"The report also talked about the Internet being a threat. How so?

"Schafrik: We said the Internet could be, and in fact it is being 
exploited now by counterfeiters. In fact, a few of our committee 
members went on to the Internet to see what they could learn about 
counterfeiting. And it was amazing, all the information that's out 
there, almost a recipe for how to do x, y and z, and where to buy 
supplies, and what's the best kind of equipment to use, and all 
this sort of thing.

To read the complete interview, see:


Ron Abler writes: "The entry in last week's E-Sylum discussing the 
practice of cleaning and otherwise processing currency prompts me 
to ask a question of your subscribers, whom I have found to be 
thoughtful, knowledgeable, and reasonable.  There are quite a few 
1876 centennial medals and plaquettes struck/pressed in wood, 
usually in black walnut and one that I know of in cherry.  Over 
time, these wooden objects dry out and often exhibit severe cracks 
as a result.  I am wondering if it would not be appropriate to treat 
these wooden objects just as we do fine furniture made from the same 
woods (and for the same reason); namely, oiling them to prevent 
drying, checking, and cracking.  I know this could darken the wood, 
but it seems to me that it would be a reasonable form of conservation.  
I would be very interested in the opinions of your readers. 
Thank you."


Regarding Howard Daniel's question about purchasing the Schön World 
Coin Catalogues, Martin Purdy writes: "I bought my last Schön catalogues 
(in German) from (the German site for, in case 
that's any help.  The English versions, if they exist, may be available 
there or at, assuming the main site in the US doesn't 
stock them."

Howard Daniel adds: "I went to and they only had older 
editions and not the current one.  Several other people have sent 
emails to me and most have German sources, but again, older editions.  
I am contacting Gerhard Schoen and will ask him to send a copy to me."


Regarding Arthur Shippee's feedback on the question about a term 
in the Fonrobert sale catalogue, Bob Leonard writes: "I accept this 
correction to my translation of a couple of weeks ago, but I was 
merely copying the late Randolph Zander's translation in the Foreword 
to the Quarterman Publications reprint of 1974 of the Central-Amerika 
and Sued-Amerika sections of the.  E-Sylum readers with this reprint 
in their libraries might wish to note that "GelbK = gilt copper" 
should be corrected to "GelbK = brass."


Regarding last week's item on Military Challenge Coins, Roger deWardt 
Lane of Hollywood, Florida writes: "Back in 2004, I put up a page on 
my site showing a 'Challenge Coin' I had picked up at the fleamarket.  
As a numismatist of over 40 years, I had never heard of this category.  
So, I got on the Internet and found a lot of information.  I talked to 
an eBay seller, who was selling his 'coins' after several decades in 
the military.  He pointed out to me that there are a lot of copies 
made in Korea, which sell for $5 or so on eBay.  Real 'Challenge Coins' 
he said, sell for $25 to $100 and you must get them from a Military Man.  
"Later I did more research on the subject and added another page to 
my site.  The link to the history is by clicking on the 'Coin picture' 
as noted on the page here:
"The history goes back to the British, then the Great War, WWII, 
and Korea War before they became widespread as now."

Dick Johnson writes: "Thursday this week coins were included among 
paper items and DVDs reinterred in a cornerstone at the Chattanooga 
City Hall. It is hoped these will be recovered in 100 years.
"Don't count on it. In hundreds of similar instances of recovered 
cornerstone items have proved that water had infiltrated any "sealed 
container" and all paper was moist pulp. Also will Chattanooga 
residents of 2107 be able to read the DVDs?
"Only metal coins survive intact.  But this proves a point. Coins 
can outlast all other artifacts as 2000-year-old ancient coins 
"Since coins and medals have such extreme longevity, how much better 
it would have been for Chattanooga to have issued a medal for any 
such memorable event. Medals document and commemorate the event, 
plus it gives pleasure to the owners of these medallic items for 
the next 100 -- perhaps 1,000 -- years.  
To read the complete article, see:


"The Alaska Commemorative Coin Commission submitted five narrative 
designs to the United States Mint. Final designs were selected based 
on aesthetic beauty, historical accuracy, appropriateness and 
coinability. The four final designs are:

* A polar bear with the midnight sun 
* Denali National Park with a dog sled musher and the Big Dipper 
with the North Star 
* A brown bear with salmon and the Big Dipper with the North Star 
* Denali National Park with a gold panner 

"Governor Palin is asking for comments from the public before 
she selects the final design later this month. Public comments 
are welcomed through April 22, 2007."

To read the complete article, see: 

Inspired by our discussion of why a dollar is called a buck, Dick 
Johnson forwarded this story: "The waiting room was full of people, 
but my doctor and I were yucking it up in the examining room (he 
supports the 'laughter is good medicine' philosophy). He knew of 
my interest in numismatics and told this joke:
"'What is the difference between beer nuts and deer nuts?  Beer 
nuts cost $1.98. Deer nuts are under a buck.'"


This week's featured web site is about errors on the new U.S. 
Washington dollar coins.

"Washington Dollar Errors was designed to bring awareness and 
information to the public about the different errors being produced. 
There are lots of rumors floating around right now about the 2007 
George Washington Presidential $1 coins and hopefully the information 
on this website will answer some of your questions." 

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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