The E-Sylum v10#49, December 2, 2007
esylum at binhost.com
esylum at binhost.com
Mon Dec 3 04:20:10 PST 2007
Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 10, Number 49, December 2, 2007:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2007, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
WAYNE'S WORDS: THE E-SYLUM DECEMBER 2, 2007
Among our recent subscribers are Scott Tappa of F+W Publications
and Bill Eckberg. Welcome aboard! We now have 1,088 subscribers.
This week we open with word of the hospitalization of a prominent
numismatic author, followed by book reviews beginning with Jeff
Reichenberger's pamphlet based on the diaries of William A. Ashbrook.
New subscriber Bill Eckberg contributed reviews of "The Macuquina
Code" and "Henry Voigt and Others Involved With Americas Early
Coinage". Gene Hessler is working on his autobiography, and Dick
Johnson provides an update on research for his directory of coin
and medal artists.
In responses to earlier E-Sylum items we have background
information on Robert E. Hecht Jr. and the antiquities trade,
and the numismatic author who wrote a book on the subject of
In the news, digs at the London Olympic site have unearthed
artifacts and an early Roman coin, important medals have been
stolen from a New Zealand museum, and another "million dollar
bill" appears. Also, we have a story about the upcoming sale
of Lafayette's gold Society of the Cincinnati medal.
Coincidentally, Rich Jewell asked about a 1826 Erie Canal
Completion Medal in gold which he speculates may also have
come from Lafayette's collection.
In my numismatic diary for this week a coin set is
completed and a box arrived from the U.S. Mint. To learn
about anthropodermic bibliopegy, read on. Have a great week,
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
TIME CHANGE FOR NBS MEETING AT JANUARY 2008 FUN SHOW
Fred Lake writes: "Please note the time change for the
Numismatic Bibliomania Society meeting at the FUN show.
The new scheduled time is Saturday, January 12, 2008 at
1:00 to 2:00 PM in room #321. Ron Benice will be the
featured speaker introducing his new book on Florida
Paper Money. The new time will also appear in the Program
available at the show."
CHERRYPICKER'S GUIDE AUTHOR BILL FIVAZ HOSPITALIZED
Gar Travis forwarded the following note from Jim Barry,
President of the South Carolina Numismatic Association:
"Bill Fivaz had a heart attack early Monday morning. He
has two blocked arteries. Bill is at St. Joseph's Hospital
recovering from heart angioplasty, including the implant
of a few stents. Bill is resting comfortably and is in
great spirits! He expects to be released from the hospital
on Thursday. Please keep Bill, Marilyn, and their family
in your thoughts and prayers."
Brenda Bishop forwarded a note from David Crenshaw
Wednesday. He wrote: "I visited Marilyn Monday evening
at their home and she is doing fine. She is surrounded
by her children and friends. I visited Bill today and he
looks great! Please keep them all in your thoughts and
[Best wishes to Bill for a full recovery. Cards may be
sent to Bill at P. O. Box 888660, Dunwoody, GA 30356-0660
BOOK REVIEW: CHERRYPICKERS' GUIDE, FOURTH EDITION, VOLUME TWO
REVIEW: THE WILLIAM A. ASHBROOK DIARIES 1905-1920 BY JEFF REICHENBERGER
E-Sylum reader Jeff Reichenberger of Oshkosh, WI published
an interesting 20-page monograph earlier this year titled
'Charter Legacy: Numismatic Chronicle from the Diaries of
William A. Ashbrook, 1905-1920'. He was kind enough to send
me a copy this summer, and I read it with interest on my
last flight back from London.
Printed on 8 1/2 x 11 inch glossy white stock, the monograph
is nicely designed and well illustrated. There is one photo
for nearly every page, and each page contains two columns
of text surrounded by a gold border. The layout is quite
So who was William Ashbrook, and why is he important to
numismatics? A coin collector from Johnstown, Ohio, Ashbrook
was a member of the American Numismatic Association Board of
Governors, a United States Congressman, and Chairman of the
House Coinage Committee. Through Ashbrook's efforts the ANA
obtained its Federal nonprofit charter.
Ashbrook kept a diary for over fifty years; the period from
1905 to 1920 encompasses the height of his interest in coins.
The diaries were published in four volumes beginning in 1930.
One of the first numismatic entries is enough to make today's
collectors drool. Dated December 13, 1907, Ashbrook writes:
"The new St. Gaudens double eagles are just out and are at
a premium. I got ten today." Reichenberger notes that
these were likely the MCMVII high relief circulation issues,
worth today between $15,000 and $25,000 apiece. Two days
later he writes "Collecting coins is my diversion now."
He moved quickly in forming his collection, buying more double
eagles and one dollar and three dollar gold coins from the U.S.
Treasury. On January 21, 1908 he wrote "I paid $10 today for
a 1799 and an 1804 U.S. penny and now I have the complete series."
Ashbrook tussled with President Roosevelt over the 'In God We
Trust' issue. After Roosevelt ordered the motto removed from
coins, Ashbrook began receiving letters of protest from
constituents. He introduced a bill to restore the motto.
On February 11, 1908 Roosevelt appointed Ashbrook to the
Assay Commission. This proved to be another opportunity
to add to his collection. Mint Director Frank Leach "let
each member have two of the double eagles and one of the
rare eagles of the fifty lot... The members did not care
for their coins and let me have them." Reichenberger notes
that the "rare eagles" (of which he had as many as eleven)
are selling today for $100,000 to $250,000 apiece.
Ashbrook was dogged in his search, as this entry from
January 21, 1913 shows: "Went through another bag of quarter
eagles today, but in the examination of 20,000 coins, did
not find one that I wanted."
I could go on but I'll stop here and allow readers to mine
their own set of numismatic gems from this interesting pamphlet.
Ashbrook rubbed elbows with many of the top dealers and
collectors of his day, including Dr. John Henderson (ANA
President 1910-1911), Farren Zerbe, Henry Chapman, William
Hesslein, J.C. Mitchelson, Charles Deetz, Dr. George French
and others. In 1909 he went to the White House to present
medals with President Taft to Wilbur and Orville Wright.
The back page carries key features I always look for in a
numismatic publication - reference citations and complete
photo credits. All in all a very nicely done work - I only
wish there were more monographs like it. The cost is $8
postpaid to U.S. addresses. For more information, contact
Jeff Reichenberger at jkreichenberger at hotmail.com.
BOOK REVIEW: THE MACUQUINA CODE BY AGUSTÍN GARCÍA-BARNECHE
[With permission from the author, below is a book review
by Bill Eckberg originally published in the Fall, 2007 issue
of The Virginia Numismatist, official publication of the
Virginia Numismatic Association (VNA). I've appended links
to web sites of the VNA and the book's publisher. -Editor]
Review: The Macuquina Code: A numismatic and Spanish
colonial translator for collectors, dealers, traders and
shipwreck treasure enthusiasts by Agustín García-Barneche
Have you ever been intimidated by the language problem when
trying to collect or study foreign coins? Do you stay away
from foreign coins because of that problem? Can you reasonably
stay away from foreign coins when the coin-of-the-realm of
the early United States was primarily foreign? This 92-page,
soft-cover book, written by Virginia specialist, Agustín
García-Barneche, attempts to address those problems with
respect to Spanish coins. The Spanish dollar, at least,
provides the basis for our current dollar, so these coins
are very important to United States monetary history.
The first half of the book is a dictionary of about 1,500
Spanish numismatic terms and their English translations;
the second half gives the corresponding English terms and
their Spanish translations. The reader is, therefore, able
to translate terms either way. It also identifies many of
the terms as numismatic, auction-related, heraldic or
obsolete from the colonial period.
I found the book very interesting and useful. It opens
up possible new collecting interests for me, and that is
always a good and useful thing to do. I have only two minor
quibbles. First, it would have been useful to give the
mintmarks their own entries in the Spanish-English side.
They are listed after the name of the city (e.g., Santo
Domingo = SP SD). However, looking from the English-Spanish
side under Mint Mark, you find each city and its mint marks
listed in alphabetical order. Second, there are some instances
where some sense of context would have been helpful. For
example, I suspect that the words lema, mote and divisa
are not exactly synonymous, but each is translated as
motto. A macuquina, for those who havent read the book,
is a cob, a hammered coin of irregular shape.
I recommend this book for anyone who collects Spanish or
colonial coins or who would like to know more about these
important pieces of American history. Further information
is available from www.RealTreasures.com or from Historic
Real Treasures, PO Box 606, Great Falls, VA 22066.
To order a copy of The Macuquina Code, see:
To visit the Virginia Numismatic Association web site, see:
REVIEW: HENRY VOIGT AND OTHERS INVOLVED WITH AMERICAS EARLY COINAGE
[Bill Eckberg published this review of Karl Moulton's new
book in the November 2007 issue of Penny-Wise, the official
publication of Early American Coppers, Inc. (page 231).
With permission we're reprinting it here in its entirety
with some minor corrections by the author. -Editor]
Review: 'Henry Voigt and Others Involved With Americas
Early Coinage' by Karl Moulton.
This book, published in 2007 by the Cardinal Collection
Educational Foundation, Sunnyvale, CA, is not, strictly
speaking, about early American copper coins, but rather
addresses general issues related to the people involved
in the establishment of the Mint and the striking of the
earliest United States coins. To an extent, the book replows
ground that has been earlier tilled by Frank H. Stewart in
his book The First United States Mint, Its People and Its
Operations (privately published in 1924 after Stewart
purchased the first Mint building and had it demolished),
and Don Taxay in The U.S. Mint and Coinage, an illustrated
History from 1776 to the Present (Arco Publishing, New York,
1966). Moulton does refer to both authors and repeats some
of Taxays discussion of the politics of the early Mint.
He dedicates the book the Stewart, though he is highly
critical of Taxay and his work.
Moulton tells us in his Introduction that his book is really
about people, and most of it is. Henry Voigt, the first Chief
Coiner of the United States Mint, is the central character.
His story ties much of the book together, and the information
about his life and work was frequently new to me and interesting.
Among many other nuggets, Moulton reveals that Voigt had a
business relationship with David Rittenhouse, the first Director
of the Mint, that dated at least to 1771, when Voigt helped
Rittenhouse construct a mechanical model of the solar system.
Voigt subsequently was involved in the development and promotion
of early steamboats, though this venture was ultimately not
He applied for a job at the Mint in 1792, claiming to be well
acquainted with all the different parts for Coining of Money
that he in his Younger days, for several Years, worked in
the Mint of Saxe Gotha in Germany. He was hired as Chief Coiner,
a position he held until his death in 1814, having survived
charges made by a former employee in 1803 that he had
misappropriated Mint equipment for personal purposes. This
is just a small taste of what is in the book; the reader
will learn a lot about Voigt.
Indeed, the books greatest strength is the personal and
professional information it gives about Voigt, who was in
charge of the striking of all of the earliest coppers that
we love so much, and all that he did to develop and support
the fledgling Mint. He made equipment, procured copper for
minting and was right there, supervising the striking of
the Chain, Wreath, Liberty Cap, Draped Bust and many of
the Classic Head coppers (and the contemporaneous gold and
silver coins, of course). The book puts something of a
face on Voigt, to the extent that this can be done for
a person of whom there are no known portraits. The book
also does the same for Joseph Wright, the first Chief
Engraver of the Mint, even illustrating a portrait Wright
painted of himself and his family during the year of his
employment at the Mint.
Another feature that should be of great interest to EACers
consists of 26 facsimile pages from Voigts daily ledger.
This book is in the National Archives and the pages reproduced
show who did what in the coining room from April 2, 1793
until the Mint closed that September for the yellow fever
epidemic. This is the time during which all of the Wreath
and 1793 Liberty Cap and half cents were coined. Do you want
to know who actually coined the 1793 large and half cents?
Much of its in there, except for the Chains, which is an
unfortunate omission from the perspective of a large cent
Moulton does err a bit in claiming that this is never
before published information, as that is only partly true.
The document was found in the archives a number of years ago
by Craig Sholley, who gave a copy of it to this reviewer at
EAC in 2000. I, in turn, published an article in P-W that
included a facsimile of the page identifying those who struck
the first half cents and a report on everything related to
half cent production during that year. Moulton can probably
be forgiven for this error, since he is not a member of EAC;
he is a dealer in numismatic literature. Sholleys planned
article on the Chain, Wreath and Liberty Cap cents has not
materialized. In any case, Moultons book provides much
more from Voigts ledger than has been previously shown.
There are some shortcomings to the book that should be
mentioned. The second half of it meanders away from Voigt
and Wright to a lengthy chapter on the history of the 1796
quarters (which was interesting but which would have been
much stronger had there been photos of the coins and die
damage that he discusses), another on the 1804 dollars which
seems to be there only as a means to criticize Taxay, and
TWO chapters on the 1815 and 1825 quarters that are
counterstamped with E and L. Moulton speculates that
they were counterstamped at the Mint; the E standing for
Extra and the L for Louisiana. While that may be true,
he provides only the most circumstantial evidence for his
notion, and he does not address why the Mint would have
used two different counterstamps for the same purpose at
the same time. In my opinion, this issue remains very much
This section of the book is highly speculative and therefore
weak, and this weakness points up a more significant problem
with many parts of the book. Moulton excoriates Breen and
Taxay for stating unsubstantiated conclusions as facts (and,
unnecessarily, for aspects of their personal lives). His
Introduction quotes R.H. Williamson from the April 1951
issue of The Numismatist as follows: [g]reat care should
be exercised in separating the facts from the probabilities,
and the probabilities from the conjectures. In any case
verbatim quotations from the source material are desirable,
either in the text or in an appendix... This is excellent
advice, but Moulton does not take it. His book has no
bibliography and no footnotes (there are a small number
of citations within the text), and none of the sources of
the photos and illustrations are given, though they are
not original to this work. This is a major omission and
the ad hominem personal attacks should have been omitted.
Among many points that are likely to generate controversy,
he claims Bob Birch as the designer of the Chain cents based
on a supposed similarity to the Birch cents of 1792, a
similarity that is quite superficial. Worse, he attributes
ALL of the following to Joseph Wright: the Libertas Americana
medal, 1792 Disme, Wreath cent, 1793 half cent and 1794 dollar,
despite the fact that Wright was not employed by the Paris
Mint that made the Libertas medals, nor was he employed by
the United States Mint until after the Wreath cents were made
he was paid piece rate for producing the quarter pattern
in 1792), and he died before the end of September in 1793.
These remarkable attributions come about as the result of
the discovery of a 1777 charcoal portrait in the British
Museum of Wrights mother, Patience, holding a Phrygian cap
on a pole and a 1793 portrait Wright painted of himself,
his wife, Sarah and their children. Moulton claims Sarah
Wright as the model for all of these coins based on the
portrait. Such evidence is tenuous at best, and this writer
has seen many paintings of fashionable western European
ladies of that period, painted by many artists, who look
equally like the images on the coins. Ms. Liberty, as seen
on the early U.S. coins, is an archetype, not intended to
be a real person.
Most importantly, this writer sees no stylistic similarity
of any of the other designs to that of Wrights Liberty Cap
and 1792 quarter pattern that would support Moultons
conclusion. Authoritative researchers have attributed the
design of the Libertas Americana medal to its engraver,
Augustin Dupré and the French artist, Esprit-Antoine Gibelin.
Additionally, the 1792 Lyon Convention medal uses the same
obverse motif as the Libertas Americana; it seems highly
unlikely that the French would have used an American-designed
motif to commemorate their own liberty, whereas the Americans
routinely used the French to design their medals; indeed
all of the Revolutionary War medals made at the Paris Mint
are believed to have been designed and executed by Paris
No documentation has ever been reported to demonstrate who
designed and engraved the first coins from the Philadelphia
Mint, so the identities of the designers and engravers has
been problematic and controversial for many years, but this
does not justify putting further unsupported guesswork
forward under the guise of information. This section of
the book cries out for the missing supporting documentation.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, but
Moulton does not provide it.
I also have a complaint about the way the book is bound.
The binding is unlike that of any other hard cover book I
have ever read. It does not allow the book to lie flat,
and it requires physical effort at all times to keep the
book open to the page one is reading. I found this very
annoying and a bit distracting.
Despite these criticisms, I think this is a book that most
EACers would enjoy reading and from which they would learn
something worthwhile. Any of us should find Voigts and
Wrights stories interesting. The maps of Philadelphia in
the 1790s showing where people lived and worked are also
interesting and useful. To this resident of the Washington
DC area, it is hard to imagine how small a footprint our
government had when it was in Philadelphia.
You should find something rewarding in reading the facsimiles
of Voigts and Mint Treasurer Tristram Daltons account books;
much of the latter was previously reported in Stewart, but
not in facsimile form. You might, however, want to use your
coin loupe to read these, as they are reproduced in rather
small format. Finally, read this book carefully, just like
you would read any other that purports to report facts, and
make up your own mind as to whether Moulton has made the case
for some of his claims.
In his Forward to the book, Dave Bowers talks about the book
having gems of information that gave him pleasure. That is
a good description of much of what is there. When it sticks
to the facts, Henry Voigt and Others Involved With Americas
Early Coinage is a worthwhile addition to the library of
anyone interested in early American coins. It takes its place
on my bookshelf next to Stewarts and Taxays books.
To access the Early American Coppers web site, see:
JACK COLLINS 1794 SILVER DOLLAR BOOK COMPLETE
George Kolbe writes: "Thanks to all who ordered copies of
Jack Collins' book on 1794 silver dollars. Copies will be
mailed on November 29th or 30th. 99 copies were printed on
28 lb. stock: HP Color Laser, Archival, semi-gloss.
"Three trial copies were produced:
1 on 80 lb. "Resumé" stock (this was donated and sold at
the 2007 ANA meeting of NBS)
1 on 24 lb. stock: HP LaserJet
1 on 28 lb. stock: HP Color Laser, Archival, semi-gloss
"An additional four copies will be printed with added
1 to the family of Jack Collins
1 to Alan Meghrig
1 to George Kolbe
1 to the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
"Several copies in various stages of editing were also
produced. And, of course, Jack Collins also distributed
a number of such copies during his lifetime.
"I would like to take the opportunity to thank Alan Meghrig
for his dedicated work in bringing this project to fruition.
Without him, Jack Collins' groundbreaking book would remain
GENE HESSLER AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN THE WORKS
Discussing Gene Hessler in his Editor's Notebook column
in the November/December 2007 issue of Paper Money, Fred
Reed writes: "I've been proud to call Gene a friend for
more than 30 years, and I consider him the greatest living
U.S. paper money scholar. I am eagerly anticipating his
next book venture. After five years of work, Gene is on
the verge of publishing his autobiography, which covers
his years as a professional musician at Carnegie Hall and
with touring bands, his stints as curator of the Chase
Manhattan Bank Money Museum and Eric Newman's first money
museum in St. Louis, as well as his internationally
acclaimed research and publishing ventures. This on
should be a good read, as they say."
THE BENEZIT INTERNATIONAL DIRECTORY OF WORLD ARTISTS
Dick Johnson writes: "Two boxes of books arrived the day
before Thanksgiving. Eagerly I opened the packages to
retrieve the books inside. I had ordered a complete set of
Benezit, the international directory of world artists. But
you might ask: What would they have to do with numismatics?
"Two friends had encouraged me to return to work on my
directory of coin and medal artists, Sam Pennington of
Maine Antique Digest and collector Donald Scarinci, fellow
medal enthusiasts all. Obtaining the Benezit had long been
on my list of desiderata for this project.
"Previously, I had to travel to look up an artist in this
work of 200,000 world artists. I had done so at the Wadsworth
Athenaeum in Hartford Connecticut, Yale University library
in New Haven, or Clark Art Institute in Williamstown,
Massachusetts (my favorite art library). I had even tapped
into the set at ANS in Manhattan. Benezit had been compiled
and published in Paris in eight editions from 1911 through
1999. ANS had a dusty brown binding set of an early, third
edition. Benezit was entirely in French, but I could
extract some desired details without knowledge of the
"I knew where to buy a set at discount price of $800.
But when I went to order it I found the price was now $1500.
But that is good! It is now available entirely in English!
It had been translated by an army of worker ants who had
laboriously converted all 20,608 pages into English. I could
order from the publisher's American distributor, Omnigraphics
in Detroit, with a telephone call and a credit card.
"I did take time out for Thanksgiving dinner with family,
but ever since placing that set on my work shelves I have
been pouring over the tiny print in Benezit's 1462-page
volumes. I am checking my 3,356 artists -- diesinkers, engravers,
medallists and sculptors of known American coins and medals --
with those listed in Benezit. I am seeking verification of
several items: correct name, dates and places of birth and
death (if known), and now with English text, biographical
details that have to do with the creation of numismatic items.
"Foreign artists who did coins or medals of American interest
-- like John F. Kennedy or Apollo 11 space medals -- are of
particular interest to search for in Benezit. For me, this
is a labor of nine parts discovery and one part drudgery.
"It is somewhat serendipitous, however, because not all my
artists are listed in Benezit. I would sometimes go for 70
pages without a hit. And several pages later have three
desired artists on two pages. Thus the discovery element;
I do emit a silent 'hooray!' every time I find a name that
matches one in my databank.
"Benezit's criteria for inclusion, like every directory, is
uneven. A famous American sculptor, like a Frank Eliscu,
past president of National Sculpture Society, creator of
America's first two-part medal and sculptor of the Heisman
Trophy, is not listed. Yet someone who did a centennial medal
for a small New England town is.
"Surprisingly, not all mint engravers -- even chief engravers
at France's own Monnaie de Paris -- are not listed. Neither
are commercial artists, factory artists at medal plants, even
art educators. The editors at Benezit over the years tend to
favor highly productive artists, those who create many works
of art. Auction sales are an important factor, as well as
their work in museums, and artists' publicity. If an artist
has books and articles written about him, that seems to be
taken into consideration by the editors as well.
"Perhaps the unspoken criteria: Is there a need for anyone
to reference this artist or his work?
"Anyway, ten days into this checking of one set of artists
against another I have finished four volumes. I am up to the
initial E. It might take me a month. But I am doing this
so you won't have to. When it is published you can look up
any artist in my 'American Forrer' and find the details
on the artist of interest to you."
NUMISMASTER SIGNS UP 10,000TH USER
[The following is reprinted directly from a Krause
Publications press release. -Editor]
NumisMaster.com, the online coin pricing and news resource
from Krause Publications, signed up its 10,000th registered
user this week. In just over six months as a fully operational
coin collecting portal, NumisMaster has seen incredible growth
both domestically and internationally.
We are thrilled to pass the 10,000-user mark, it is an
important milestone in NumisMasters development, says
NumisMaster director of online business Scott Tappa. This
shows that coin collectors, both serious and casual, have
found NumisMaster to be a destination for satisfying all
of their numismatic needs -- coin and paper money pricing,
news and analysis from Krause Publications team of experts,
and the most comprehensive calendar of coin shows in the
NumisMaster is built around the 1.1 million-plus coin values
culled from Krause Publications database, and their associated
historical and descriptive details. News, feature stories,
and blog commentary from the editors of Numismatic News, World
Coin News, Coins magazine, and Bank Note Reporter are also a
popular feature, and are updated daily.
The NumisMaster team plans on rolling out many exciting new
features in coming weeks and months, including:
-Bank note pricing from the Standard Catalog of United States
-A bi-weekly email newsletter featuring exclusive online
numismatic market updates not found in any print publication.
-Voting for Krause Publications acclaimed Coin of the Year program.
-Message boards for coin enthusiasts to swap stories, identify
coins, and more.
Visit www.numismaster.com to learn more about what the site
has to offer.
LAFAYETTE'S GOLD CINCINNATI SOCIETY MEDAL TO BE SOLD
[Arthur Shippee forwarded this New York Times article of
the upcoming sale of Lafayette's gold Society of the
Cincinnati medal. -Editor]
"Arnaud Meunier du Houssoy arrived in New York from Paris
on Saturday to be celebrated at events in New York, Philadelphia,
Boston and the nations capital to mark a season of Lafayette
"It is the 250th anniversary year of the birth of the
Revolutionary War general, and a major new exhibition
French Founding Father: Lafayettes Return to Washingtons
America recently opened at the New-York Historical Society.
Next month there will be a multimillion-dollar auction of a
historic gold medal of the Society of the Cincinnati: an
enameled patriotic badge created for George Washington that
was presented to Lafayette in 1824 after Washingtons death.
"The medal has been kept in our family for more than 180
years, the 48-year-old M. du Houssoy said, but it was
originally George Washingtons, and it belongs to America.
Six days before the Dec. 11 auction, it will be on display
at Sothebys; on view in America for the first time since
the Worlds Columbian Exhibition of 1893 in Chicago.
"The medal was commissioned by George Washington after the
Revolutionary War, and created to his specifications in Paris
by Pierre Charles LEnfant, the Continental Army commander
who later designed the street plan for Washington, D.C.
"The insignia (variously termed a medal, badge or order),
measures about 1 ½ inches high and is finely chased
(ornamentally engraved) in gold in the form of an eagle
surrounded by a laurel wreath; it is believed to be adorned
with its original silk ribbon of sky blue and white.
"It is decorated with a medallion honoring Lucius Quinctius
Cincinnatus, a Roman nobleman in the fifth century B.C. who
was called away from tilling his fields to save the republic
from invaders then returned to his farm instead of seizing
power. Eighteenth-century Americans often likened Washington
"The Cincinnati order was formed by Washington and a few
officers, including Lafayette, to ensure that the ideals of
the Revolution would not die after one generation."
To read the complete article, see:
LAFAYETTE'S GOLD CINCINNATI SOCIETY MEDAL TO BE SOLD
MORE MICMAC MEDAL REFERENCES
John Kleeberg writes: "Regarding the question about published
illustrations of the Micmac medal, my colleague, Dr. Alan M.
Stahl, published a very fine article on Indian Peace Medals
in a Coinage of the Americas Conference volume that came out in
1992. The reference is, Alan M. Stahl, "American Indian Medals
of the Colonial Period," in Money of Pre-Federal America,
Coinage of Americas Conference [COAC] Proceedings No. 7 (New
York: American Numismatic Society, 1991-92) pp. 159-80. The
Micmac medal is discussed on pages 170-72. The Micmac medal
is illustrated (obverse and reverse) on page 171. Alan Stahl
also wrote for that volume a useful catalogue, 'American
Indian Medals of the Colonial Period in the Collection of the
American Numismatic Society.' The illustration of the colonial
Indian Peace Medals in the collection of the American Numismatic
Society was made possible by a generous subvention by John W. Adams."
GALLERY MINT CONCEPT DOLLARS OFFERED
Jeff Kelley writes: "Larry Lee took over the minting and
marketing of the Gallery Mint tokens and coin reproductions
a year or two ago, and he is now closing down the business
for personal reasons. The remaining inventory is being sold
off, and first up are the Concept Dollars (the copper and
silver reproductions of colonial and early US coinage will
come later). In a recent newsletter you had mentioned the
importance of collecting tomorrows collectables today, and
there is no better opportunity than now get a pattern Concept
Dollar; this is the last of the original supply, and
included in the sale are some extremely rare variations."
To order Gallery Mint Concept Dollars, see:
"There is probably no single person in America that had
more influence on the eventual striking of a new golden
dollar coin than Ron Landis, the Gallery Mint's chief
engraver. The Gallery Mint began with striking 1995 dated
golden color 'One Concept' pieces. There were 1,371 of the
1995 'One Concept' dollars struck and sold to patrons of
the Gallery Mint. They have a lettered edge that reads
'* IN GOD WE TRUST * E PLURIBUS UNUM'.
"After the 1995 'One Concept' pieces were struck, request
began pouring in to the Gallery Mint to strike a piece
that could actually have a chance of being approved by
Congress. The first pieces struck were the Classic Lady
Liberty head, dated 1998. These pieces were struck in
conjunction with Ken Bressett, Past President of The
American Numismatic Association, who was himself attempting
to promote the use of the word 'PEACE' on coinage throughout
the world on year 2000 dated coins. Mr. Bressett distributed
and promoted these pieces during the 1997 ANA convention
held in New York City. These pieces were struck in brass,
have a plain edge, and a mintage of 110 pieces."
To more information on the Concept Dollars, see
1962 SEATTLE WORLD'S FAIR MILLION SILVER DOLLAR EXHIBIT
[On Tuesday Robert Van Ryzin published a nice blog article
about the Million Silver Dollar Exhibit at the 1962 Seattle
World's Fair. -Editor]
Almost everyone dreams and talks about a million dollars,
but how many people have ever seen that amount of cash in
one place at one time?
"Why not have a display featuring one million silver dollars?
Here, all in one, would be the most money the visitors would
ever see, coupled with an intriguing chapter of American
Pinkerton guards rode with the trucks, state troopers and
local police drove guard as the semis roared westward, following
the trail cut by free-spending miners and frontiersmen whod
rather get rid of their bulky silver dollars than lug them
around in their pockets, explained Coins.
Once at the fair, 800,000 of the coins (Morgan dollars
apparently, as the Coins' article notes they were in bags
sealed between 1910 and 1915) were stacked in the center
of a Behlen corn crib enclosed in glass. Then over and
around the bags were poured a clinking cascade of 200,000
Peace dollars: 1,000,000 silver dollars, just for looks,
just sitting there gathering 167 dollars a day in interest,
An advertisement on the back inside cover of the November
1962 issue of Coins offered individual silver dollars from
the exhibit, mounted in an attractive Worlds Fair holder,
for $1.95 postpaid. The limit on the bags was five bags per
person (at $1,500 per bag of 1,000 silver dollars), to be
shipped after the exhibit closed.
To read the complete article, see:
[Has anyone ever seen one of the dollars mounted in a
1962 World's Fair holder? -Editor]
QUIZ ANSWER: ROBERT HECHT AND THE MEDICI CONSPIRACY
Last week Leon Worden wrote: "I thought there might be
an E-Sylum reader or two who would get a kick out of
this ad I came across in the December 1953 edition of
The Numismatist." Leon forwarded the text of the ad
placed by Robert E. Hecht stating that he "will attend
the sale of the Numismatic Collection from the Palace
Collections of Egypt" (i.e., the famous 1954 Farouk sale).
I'll admit I was stumped - Hecht's name didn't ring a
bell with me, but Leon was floored when he came across
Leon writes: "Bob Hecht was the mastermind of the antiquities
looting/plundering/trading cabal that has ensnared Marion
True of the Getty and others from the Met, etc. Peter Watson's
fast-paced, fairly new book, 'The Medici Conspiracy' (for
Giacomo Medici) tells the whole story of the antiquities-trading
underworld. Hecht is at the top of the ladder. (And yes, it's
the same Bob Hecht, aka Robert E. Hecht Jr.; he's around 90
years old now.)
"I *would* be interested in knowing if anyone has any
memories, or stories, about Hecht in Cairo in 1954. I
hadn't heard his name in relation to the Farouk sale(s)
before -- but then again, prior to the publication of
'The Medici Conspiracy,' I wouldn't have been looking for it."
Karl Moulton writes: "Robert E Hecht Jr. was a member of
the American Numismatic Association (ANA #19854) and lived
at Ohmstrasse 8, Munich 23, Germany. There is no record
of him purchasing any U. S. coinage lots at the Palace
Collections of Eygpt (Farouk) sale in 1954, according to
the annotated copy in my library that belonged to Gaston
Ted Buttrey writes: "Robert E. Hecht was -- and still is,
in his 90's -- one of the most important con-men in the
smuggling of classical antiquites, including coins. It
was he who conned the Metropolitan Museum into paying
$1,000,000 for the famous Euphronius vase, "found in Lebanon".
It was in fact from an Italian grave, and the Museum has
now agreed to return it to Italy.
"Your readers will be amused to note that to pay for the
stolen vase the Met retrieved from the American Numismatic
Society, where they had been on deposit, the wonderful Warren
collection of Greek coins and the fabulous Durkee collection
of Roman gold coins, and sold them at auction in Switzerland.
So now they have neither the coins nor the vase.
Good going, Met!
"Meanwhile, as we speak, Hecht is on trial in Italy for
illegal acquisition of antiquities, and for smuggling,
at long last."
Rick Witschonke writes: "He features prominently in the
book 'The Medici Conspiracy', which details the raid on
Giacomo Medici's Geneva Freeport warehouse, and the discovery
of hundreds of unprovenanced antiquities and records of
thousands more. Most recent Italian repatriation claims
are based on information obtained in that raid. Because
he is nearly 90, Hecht would not be subject to prison,
even if found guilty.
"Hecht was a member of the Hecht department store family,
and had a keen interest in antiquities, especially ancient
coins. He published several scholarly articles, and became
a dealer, selling coins and other antiquities to many
collectors and museums. I have no doubt that Hecht attended
the Farouk sale, but cannot say what he purchased."
[The full title of the book is 'The Medici Conspiracy: The
Illicit Journey of Looted Antiquities from Italys Tomb
Raiders to the Worlds Greatest Museums' by Peter Watson
and Cecilia Todeschini, 2006. Hecht defends his role,
saying that the looting would have occurred regardless of
his involvement and that over the years it has been the
laws that have changed, not the needs and wants of museums
and private collectors. Below are a few excepts from a
lengthy 2006 Baltimore Sun article on Hecht. -Editor]
The man accused of stripping Italy of precious antiquities
and selling them on the world art market for millions of
dollars now shuffles along East 69th Street by himself, his
head bowed, and seems as threatening as a glass of warm milk.
He's 88 years old and can barely open a door without assistance.
But Italian authorities say this man - Robert E. Hecht Jr.,
a Baltimore native whose great-grandfather founded the
department store that bears his name - was for decades at the
center of a criminal ring that dug antiquities from Italian
soil and sold them to museums and collectors around the world.
Hecht, who has pleaded innocent, has made occasional
appearances at the courthouse in Rome, most recently last
month, when he reportedly sang an aria from Verdi's La Traviata
to the assembled journalists.
Meanwhile, Hecht has been splitting his time between his
permanent home in Paris - where he has lived since he was
barred from Italy in the 1970s - and an apartment on
Manhattan's Upper East Side.
He meets with friends, visits museums - some of which still
display objects of questionable provenance that he sold
them over the years - and waves off his critics.
Hecht is a man who has seen the world pass him by. In the
1950s, shortly after his arrival in Italy, he bought
antiquities on the streets of Rome.
No one had a problem with it. The shops, Hecht said, would
happily ship the ancient cups, coins and statues out of the
country if you couldn't take them home yourself.
Now, Hecht finds himself on trial for allegedly doing the
very things that were accepted practice half a century ago.
"He lived long enough to see his livelihood not only eclipsed,
but also impugned," said Gary Vikan, director of the Walters
Art Museum in Baltimore, which is known for its antiquities
collection and which bought several pieces from Hecht in the
1950s. "This guy is sort of the personification of the sea
To read the complete article on Robert Hecht, see:
[Leon Worden forwarded this timely story on the dismissal
of related charges against curator J. Paul Getty Museum
Marion True. -Editor]
"An appeals court here dismissed a criminal case on Tuesday
against Marion True, a former curator for the J. Paul Getty
Museum in Los Angeles who had been accused of conspiring to
acquire an ancient gold wreath that Greece says was looted
from its soil.
"The unanimous decision by the three-member appeals court
came eight months after the Getty formally handed over the
disputed funerary wreath and a week after Ms. Trues lawyer
filed a motion for dismissal.
"Ms. True has been on trial since late 2005 in Italy on
similar charges of conspiring to acquire illicitly excavated
antiquities. She has denied the charges in both cases and
did not attend Tuesdays hearing here.
"The wreath is believed to have been unearthed about 15
years ago. Greece first laid claim to it in the mid-1990s,
although its precise site of excavation was not yet known.
Last year, however, its government sent the Getty a dossier
of evidence, including documents and photographs, to support
its claim that the wreath had been illegally removed from
northern Greece and passed on to a market through Germany
and Switzerland before being sold to the Getty in 1993 for
To read the complete article, see:
FAROUK SALE BUYER INFORMATION SOUGHT
QUIZ ANSWER: NUMISMATICS AND PEDERASTY
Last week we discussed a satirical article confusing
philately with pederasty. As a quiz question I asked what
numismatic author wrote a book on the subject of pederasty.
James Higby and Ken Bressett had incorrect guesses. An
anonymous reader was the first with the answer I had in mind:
Walter Breen, who in 1964 authored 'Greek Love' under the
pseudonym J. Z. Eglinton. Other correct responses came
from John Dannreuther, Denis Loring and Ken Berger.
The book covers the subject in history and literature from
Ancient Greece to the 20th century. Breen authored numerous
articles and books on U.S. numismatics. He was arrested in
1991 on charges of child molestation and died in prison
two years later.
The book's page on Amazon includes an unsigned comment from
one of his family members: "J.Z. Eglinton, also known as Walter
H. Breen, coauthored 'Greek Love' with my mother, Marion Zimmer
Bradley. He felt deeply of the rightness of his position, and
used arguments from the book to try to convince the judge at
his two trials for child molesting. A few of Marion Bradley's
books have pedophilic themes; among them 'The Catch Trap' and
it is interesting to read her works with awareness of her
involvement in these issues."
Ken Bressett's guess was Professor T.V. Buttrey. He writes:
"Ted Buttrey wrote an article which appeared in The Numismatic
Chronicle, Vol. XIII, 1973, under the title 'The Spintraie as
a Historical Source'. The term 'spintrea' is used to describe
an erotic token made under the reign of Tiberius."
STAMP COLLECTORS RUN AMOK IN ARKANSAS (NOT REALLY)
QUERY: DID WILLIAM H. WOODIN EVER RUN FOR CONGRESS?
Leon Worden writes: "Did William H. Woodin ever run for
Congress? If so, when, and what state? This is not a trick
question. I've got an old campaign button, probably pre-1900,
no backpaper, more like a collar stud but with a pin, that
says, "FOR CONGRESS" above the portrait and "W.H. WOODIN"
below. It looks like it could be him, but I can't tell. It's
a much younger man than the 1933 photos we're used to seeing.
I can't find anything that says whether 'our' Woodin ever
ran for office."
THE 1826 ERIE CANAL COMPLETION MEDAL IN GOLD
Rich Jewell writes: "Heritage Auction Galleries, September
27, 2007, Long Beach, Medals and Tokens Auction listed a
very rare (if not scarce) 1826 Erie Canal Completion Medal
in Gold (HK-1001). The last such appearance in auction was
1932 and it was attributed to Andrew Jackson.
"John J. Ford did not even own one of these pieces of Americana,
and yet no mention of this medal made the news, as did the
Commodore Perry Gold Medal did when it was auctioned off this
past summer. Could it be that this So-Called Dollar didn't
have the importance of a mint pedigree?
"Even the renowned numismatic author Q. David Bowers missed
the gold 1826 Erie Canal Completion Medal in his co-authored
'100 Greatest American Medals and Tokens' book - the white
and silver medals are listed but not the GOLD! Is this a
case of numismatic snobbery, proof reader error, an author's
oversight, or an attitude of "who cares attitude since it's
only a So-Called Dollar"? Maybe some of our esteemed
brotherhood would care to offer their opinions."
[Coincidentally, the lot description includes a reference
to the August 10, 2003 edition of The E-Sylum, where Ed
Krivoniak sent a story on the Canal Medals published in a
contemporary newspaper (American Traveller, April 25, 1826).
The lot description notes that "11 gold versions of the
Erie Canal Completion medals were distributed to dignitaries
of the highest order. (Jefferson and John Adams received
only one gold medal each, although they were both ex-Presidents
and signers of the Declaration of Independence.) Of the
esteemed individuals bestowed the honor of receiving a gold
medal, only one would have taken the medal to Europe: General
Lafayette. This is only important in that the current example
is from a European estate and has only recently been repatriated.
Could this be the actual gold medal belonging to General
As for publicity, it rarely happens by accident. Usually
someone has to write up a press release and send it to the
newswires and numismatic publications. It helps if you make
their job easy and basically write a first draft of the
article the way you'd like to see it in print. If Heritage
didn't send out anything, maybe nobody noticed. Donn Pearlman
does a great job publicizing the ANA and PCGS - he has good
contacts with national news organizations and frequently gets
stuff published nationwide.
Rich contacted Dave's coauthor Katie Jaeger and she's updated
the entry for the medal to include the gold strikings. If
there is a subsequent edition of the book the gold version
will be listed. -Editor]
To view the 1826 Erie Canal Completion Medal in Gold lot description see:
EARLY REFERENCE TO ERIE CANAL MEDALS
BASHALOW CONFEDERATE CENT RESTRIKES IN GOLD INFORMATION SOUGHT
Harold Levi writes: "I am working on the second edition
of my book on the Confederate cent. There are a few minor
adjustments here and there. The primary focus is in the
chapter on Bashlow restrikes. As I continue of try to
unravel the restrikes, I am having a real problem with
gold Bashlow restrikes. Most of the ones I am aware of
are on thin (normal) thickness planchets, which create
"First, David Laties (Bashlows business partner) has
stated, to me, that only three gold restrikes were made,
all on thick planchets. Mr. Laties still has his, the
Smithsonian Institution still has theirs (confirmed by
Dr. Richard Doty Thank You, Sir), and Bashlow lost
his a long time ago (no, it was not in Walter Breens
"Second, Bashlow stated that he made the restrikes on
thick planchets because he feared the Secret Service
would confiscate the restrikes because of being in the
likeness of U.S. coins. He wanted the restrikes to be
noticeably different than the originals or Haseltine
restrikes. Obviously, Bashlow did not understand that
Confederate coins are not U.S. coins, and the Secret
Service would not have responded. Bashlow admitted to
making a few experimental strikes on thin planchets
before settling on thick planchets (1976 letter Tom
DeLorey made public in E-Sylum Nov-12-2006).
"Third, I have a serious problem with The Gold Confiscation
of April 5, 1933. I doubt that newly struck gold Bashlow
copies would have qualified as rare and unusual coins as
defined in Section 2(b) of the act, nor would they qualify
under any other section. However, before I put my foot in
the proverbial it, would one of our attorney friends be
willing to express an opinion on this issue? I would be
most appreciative. Remember, this was late 1961 and early
"My argument is that the three verified thick planchet
gold restrikes were made clandestinely, at least as far
as Bashlow was concerned, because of The Gold Confiscation
of April 5, 1933. The gold copy given to the Smithsonian
Institution was not listed in the published inventory (Coin
World), but was donated in secrecy along with the many other
items listed in the published inventory. Bashlow never
offered any gold restrikes for sale, thick or thin planchet.
Therefore, all gold Bashlow restrikes are fakes, except the
three known and verified thick planchet copies mentioned above.
"I would appreciate any and all comments and information
on this subject. I can be contacted at haroldlevi at hotmail.com."
BASHLOW'S CONFEDERATE CENT RESTRIKES
WAYNE'S NUMISMATIC DIARY: DECEMBER 2, 2007
My son Christopher surprised me again this week. For the
speech he has to give to his third grade class at school,
he picked the subject of coin collecting. He wants to talk
about filling his Whitman folder of Roosevelt dimes. Twice
this week we had the folders and piles of dimes spread on
the living room floor.
Friday evening all three kids and I worked on the project.
Christopher and Tyler checked for date/mintmark combinations
we needed, and so did I when Hannah wasn't hogging my magnifier.
We were down to just a few empty holes before bedtime. First
thing Saturday morning, Christopher dragged out the folders
and coins again and Tyler and Hannah helped as before. When
we'd filled all but one I announced that whoever found the
final coin would get a dollar as a reward. It was the 1978-D
we needed, and wouldn't you know Christopher managed to find
one. He ran upstairs to tell my wife, whom I'm sure would
have rather continued sleeping in.
My only other numismatic adventure this week was receiving
my Uncirculated Dolley Madison gold coin from the U.S. Mint.
That was fast service! Coin World said the issue did not
sell out and that fewer than 8,000 sold on the first day of
availability. Over 10,000 Proofs were sold.
I showed the coin to Christopher and explained that the reverse
was designed by the same artist who'd done the beautiful print
of elephants that now hangs in a frame in our front hallway
(Joel Iskowitz). The print is from a stamp design Iskowitz
created. He gave me a copy of the print for my wife after
learning that she collected elephants. I had it framed and
gave it to her the night of the PAN Banquet in October, where
Joel gave a presentation.
I checked with Joel see if he was able to obtain an example
of his work. He said he was able to order a proof example,
but the coin was backordered. So I was able to get my coin
before the designer did, making the Mint look like a complete
skinflint. For heaven's sake, there ought to be some acceptable
way to ensure designers obtain examples of their own work.
Joel added: "I thought it was a bit odd that there was no
ceremony for the debut of the James Madison (Father of our
Constitution) Presidential dollar coin. All the other three
had first day of issue debuts." Joel makes a good point -
is the Mint petering out on publicity for the series?
ON FREE NUMISMATIC INFORMATION ON THE INTERNET
Roger deWardt Lane, Hollywood, Florida writes: "I took note
of what Dick Johnson was saying about advertising supported
free publications (Like Murdoch's Wall Street Journal being
proposed free). It is interesting he picked up on this as
it relates to numismatic publications.
"My free E-book has been doing much better than I ever dreamed,
with 780 unique visitors and 2,916 page hits in the first
twenty-five days of November 2007. I think in was even better
when I first released it during the second half of October.
"People have been asking me about advertising support. I
found a site which will handle Google ads and pay me fees,
but I'm going to wait. My answer to my friends, 'At least
for the first six months, I want it completely free for the
numismatic community.' "
TAPERED COLLAR THEORY: WHY SAYS CENT'S HEADS SIDE IS SMALLER THAN TAILS
John Dannreuther writes: "Kudos to David Lange on the tapered
collar theory. I thought of it, and had dismissed it, but
his logic seems right with the horizontal press. I wonder
if the ejection lines on the "tapered" cents are different
than those of the previous collars? They should be less
intense as the collar widens."
STRANGE BUT TRUE? MATHEMETICIAN SAYS CENT'S HEADS SIDE SMALLER THAN TAILS
STRANGE BUT TRUE? MATHEMETICIAN SAYS CENT'S HEADS SIDE SMALLER THAN TAILS
OLD PAPER MONEY AND COUNTERFEIT-DETECTING PENS
John Dannreuther writes: "I recently was asked the question
about the old bills (someone had started spending a hoard of
1950 twenties at a local restaurant). The cashier had used a
counterfeit-detecting pen on one of the bills and it registered
"I was there and looked at the second bill he had just taken
and told him it was genuine, and possibly the old paper did
not work with the pens. Guess that is the case, per last
week's E-Sylum. Does anyone know why?"
[This topic has come up before - basically, the pens are
designed to detect certain properties in genuine U.S. currency
paper, but they only work with relatively recent notes. As
noted in one of the earlier E-Sylum articles, the counterfeit
pens come with a warning which says they don't work on money
older than 1959. -Editor]
MONEY NOT COUNTERFEIT - IT'S JUST OLD
MARKING PEN LEADS TO CONFISCATION OF GENUINE CASH
ANTI-COUNTERFEIT PEN SNAGS INNOCENT LAWYER AT HOOTERS
ANOTHER GUTTAG BROTHERS BUSINESS ADDRESS
Recently Robert Rightmire asked about the address of The
Guttag Brothers, New York brokers and coin dealers. David
Gladfelter responded: "There's a sticker inside my copy of
Coins of the Americas (1927) that says 'now located in our
own building, 42 Stone St.' That suggests they had moved
from a previous address. I also found their earlier address
in their ad in the Numismatist for April 1924: 16-18 Exchange
Place, New York."
Rich Hartzog writes: "My database puts Julius Guttag at 55
William St. NYC, NY. However, this may be his home address."
[Rich wasn't able to assign a timeframe to his database
address listing. -Editor]
GUTTAG BROTHERS BUSINESS ADDRESSES
INTERESTING DECEMBER 2007 COIN GALLERIES LOTS
[The December 2007 Stack's Coin Galleries Mail & Internet
Bid Sale closing Tuesday, December 18, 2007 has some
interesting and attractive lots of coins and medals. Here
are a few that I noticed in the catalog. -Editor]
Lot 1478: Silver Dollar, 1795 B-2, BB-20. Rarity-3. Flowing
Hair, Two Leaves. Fine-12.
The obverse has fancy script graffiti "H. H. Warner" in
the right field, "Rochester, N.Y." in the left. A quick
search on Google finds that an H. H. Warner was a major
historical figure in the Rochester, New York area in the
1880s, and built a fine mansion. This coin is a classic
deep gunmetal-blue with lighter gray on the devices. The
reverse is clean and attractive. For many years such coins
were priced at a discount, but with the power of internet
research many of the original owners can be determined
with relative ease and bring to life historical aspects.
Although we can't be certain, the present coin was probably
obtained many years after it was coined, and H. H. Warner
kept it as a pocket piece, having it finely engraved at a
local jewelerperhaps it was his father's and handed down
through the family. An intriguing example of Americana.
[Be sure to view the larger images of the following
Lot 2154: FRANCE. Orpheus Medal, ca. 1899.
67.6mm. By Marie Lucien Alexandre Coudray. Obv.
Laurel-crowned Orpheus holding lyre.
Lot 2330: VATICAN-PAPAL STATES. Pius IX, 1846-1878.
Saint Peter's Basilica Interior Medal, 1854.
LONDON OLYMPIC CONSTRUCTION UNEARTHS ROMAN COIN AND RUINS
[David Sundman forwarded this article on an interesting
discovery in London at the site of the 2012 London Olympics.
"Digs at the London Olympic site have unearthed evidence of
Iron Age and Roman settlements, authorities said on Wednesday.
"Pottery and a Roman coin have been found on the site of
the planned Aquatics Centre in Stratford, east London.
"They were buried behind a wooden river wall that may have
been built and used by the Romans.
"The coin, which has been dated to 330-335 AD, shows two
soldiers and their standards on one side, and emperor
Constantine II and Caesar on the other.
"The items will go on show at the Museum of London as
part of its collection and record of the site's dig."
To read the complete article, see:
NINE VICTORIA CROSSES AND OTHER MEDALS STOLEN FROM NEW ZEALAND MUSEUM
According to a news report published today, "Charles Upham's
Victoria Cross and bar is among prestigious military medals
stolen from the Waiouru Army Museum. Nine Victoria Crosses,
two George Crosses and other medals were stolen in the theft
"Museum staff discovered that several displays had been broken
into, after the alarm was activated in an annex to the building
sometime between midnight and 6am.
"Museum executive trustee Don McIver said combined the medals
could fetch 'millions'. Ruapehu police area commander Steve
Mastrovich said the burglary appeared to be well-planned.
"'It was quite a stunning sort of offence really. It's quite
amazing that anybody would target property like that, especially
when you consider what the medals signify.'
"Medals taken include:
* Samuel Frickleton, VC -- WW1
* Leslie Andrew, VC -- WW1
* Randolph Ridling, Albert Medal -- WW1
* Reginald Judson, VC, DCM, MM -- WW1
* John Grant, VC -- WW1
* Harry Laurent, VC -- WW1
* Jack Hinton, VC -- WW2
* Clive Hulme, VC -- WW2
* Keith Elliott, VC -- WW2
* Charles Upham, VC and Bar -- WW2
* David Russell, GC -- WW2
* Ken Hudson, GC. "
TEXAS COIN FIRMS SPAR IN LAWSUIT
[A story out of Texas this week sheds a little light on
the behind-the-scenes workings of coin marketers. Two
similarly-named firms, one run by former employees of
the other, attended a hearing on Thursday; no outcome
has been announced. -Editor]
"Austin-based U.S Money Reserve, Inc. is pursuing a
permanent injunction against a band of former employees,
who formed their own coin company by allegedly stealing
the company's consumer accounts.
"U.S Money Reserve, doing business as United States Rare
Coin & Bullion Reserve (USRCB), filed its suit, USRCB vs.
United States Money Exchange et al, earlier this month.
"The suit names as defendants Cecil Roberts, individually
and doing business as United States Money Exchange; Jason
Braquet and Ed Seymour, individually and doing business
as JTB Coins; Chad Poole, Terry Finley and Bill Truman.
"According to the plaintiff's petition, on Oct. 17, 2007,
Braquet, a former USRCB employee, left the company to work
with other former employees 'to divert sales of coins from
numerous customers of plaintiff.'
"To prove its allegations, USRCB hired local private
investigator and political blogger Phillip Klein to probe
the former employees who had left the company 'on suspicious
"Faulk testified that after Braquet would make a sale while
working for USRCB, he would write down the customer's information
on a piece of paper, stick it in his pocket then sell it to
United States Money Exchange.
"'During the overview of the investigation I have found
probable cause of both civil and criminal laws being violated
by numerous individuals,' Klein wrote in his affidavit."
To read the complete article, see:
To access the U.S. Money Reserve web site, see:
CREEPY HUMAN-SKIN BOUND BOOK OFFERED
[Has there ever been a numismatic book bound in this
unusual material? -Editor]
"A 'spooky' image of a priest executed for treason over the
Gunpowder Plot has appeared on a 17th century book thought
to be bound in his skin, it is claimed.
"Auctioneers said the face of Father Henry Garnet could be
seen peering from the cover of the 'rare and macabre' book
about the Jesuit priest's death.
"The item will go under the hammer at Wilkinson's Auctioneers
in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, on Sunday.
"Garnet, was hanged in May 1606 for his involvement in the
"Sid Wilkinson, from Wilkinson's Auctioneers, said: 'It's
a little bit spooky because the front of the book looks
like it has the face of a man on it, which is presumed to
be the victim's face.'
"The book, called A True and Perfect Relation of the Whole
Proceedings Against the Late Most Barbarous Traitors, Garnet,
a Jesuit and his Confederates, was published in 1606 just
after his execution.
"Some scholars now believe he had been trying to prevent
the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament rather than
conspiring to kill the King."
To read the complete article, see:
[Here is the auctioneer's lot description. -Editor]
"A Rare & Macabre Early 17th Century Anthropodermic Bound
Book in carrying box. The book entitiled; 'A True and Perfect
Relation of The Whole Proceedings against the Late most barbarous
Traitors, Garnet a Jesuit and his Confederats'; Printed London
1606 by Robert Barker, printer to the King and believed to be
bound in human skin, possibly that of the aforementioned Jesuit
Priest; Father Henry Garnet. The box having a rectangular handle
to the centre with the corners having clusters of brass stud
flowers, and the front having an iron clasp and lockplate, 11
ins x 7½ ins x 5 ins (28 cms x 19 cms x 13 cms)."
To read the original lot listing, see:
[A Wikipedia entry provides more background on this practice. -Editor]
Anthropodermic bibliopegy is the practice of binding books
in human skin. Though uncommon in modern times, the technique
dates back to at least the 17th century. Surviving historical
examples of this technique include anatomy texts bound with
the skin of dissected cadavers, volumes created as a bequest
and bound with the skin of the testator, and copies of judicial
proceedings bound in the skin of the murderer convicted in
The libraries of many Ivy League universities include one or
more samples of anthropodermic bibliopegy. The rare book
collection at the Langdell Law Library at Harvard University
holds a book, Practicarum quaestionum circa leges regias Hispaniae,
a treaty of Spanish law. A faint inscription on the last page
of the books states:
"The bynding of this booke is all that remains of my deare
friende Jonas Wright, who was flayed alive by the Wavuma on
the Fourth Day of August, 1632."
To learn more about anthropodermic bibliopegy see:
[An Associated Press article in January 2006 discussed
human-skin bound books in the nation's libraries. -Editor]
"The best libraries then belonged to private collectors.
Some were doctors who had access to skin from amputated
parts and patients whose bodies were not claimed. They found
human leather to be relatively cheap, durable and waterproof,
"In other cases, wealthy bibliophiles may have acquired the
skin from criminals who were executed, cadavers used in medical
schools and people who died in the poor house, said Sam Streit,
director of Brown's John Hay Library.
"The Boston Athenaeum, a private library, has an 1837 copy
of George Walton's memoirs bound in his own skin. Walton was
a highwayman -- a robber who specialized in ambushing travelers
-- and he left the volume to one of his victims, John Fenno.
Fenno's daughter gave it to the library.
"The Harvard Law School Library bought its copy of a 1605
practice manual for Spanish lawyers decades ago, for $42.50
from an antiquarian books dealer in New Orleans. It sat on a
shelf unnoticed until the early 1990s, when curator David
Ferris was going through the library catalogue and saw a note,
copied from inside the cover, saying it was bound in the skin
of a man named Jonas Wright."
To read the complete article, see:
DAMAGED DIME RETURNS TO STARBUCKS LIKE A BOOMERANG
[A damaged dime inspired a photographer to ponder what
might have happened to cause its misshapen appearance.
See the web page for a photo. -Editor]
"As I made my way back to the freeway, I noticed a Starbucks,
with open street parking, smack dab in the middle of downtown
LA. Seeing a leprechaun would have been more reasonable. To
stave off my hallucinations, I thought I would avail myself
of the opportunity to enjoy a pleasant and rare Starbucks
"The lady who took my drink order mentioned when she gave
me change that this one particular dime kept turning up in
the store, such that it always ended up in the tip jar or
part of the till. Thinking that our hero had some amazing
ability to track ordinary coins, the barista cleared things
up when she held up this dime.
"I traded one of my recently acquired, ordinary dimes for
this oddly mangled 1972 model with the knowledge that today
was going to take a photographic detour from my original plans.
"I want to think that this dime saved someone's life - in
the right place at the right time, perhaps in a coat pocket,
the humble dime catches the assassin's bullet.
"Another oddly more plausible scenario is that there is
some dude out there that can shoot dimes out of the air with
a little tiny gun that is capable of denting, but not piercing
"I get the feeling that if I actually found out what beat up
this dime, I would be totally underwhelmed, but I would love
to know anyway, if for no other reason than to keep me off the
lookout for a guy in a cape carrying a little revolver."
To read the complete article, see:
A VERY SMALL WANT LIST - 1968 LINCOLN CENTS
A person in Lawrence, Kansas has a web site soliciting coins
for single-minded collecting purpose: 1968 Lincoln cents:
"The 1968 penny collection began on September 27th, 1999 with
just a single 1968 penny, and over the years it has steadily
grown both in size and the number of contributors.
"The goal of this website is to keep the collection growing
indefinitely by soliciting 1968 pennies from as many people
as possible. This is a group effort.
"Everybody who contributes pennies to the 1968 penny collection
will be featured on this website.
"And for the price of just one cent (provided it's a 1968 cent)
your name will be forever linked to this historic collection.
"Please take a moment to go through your pockets, purses,
and piggy banks, and send your 1968 pennies to 1968 pennies.com.
To read the complete article, see:
THE LAST STATE QUARTER DESIGNS
The New York Times was among many newspapers reporting this
week on the last five designs in the U.S. Mint's 50 States
"The final five designs in the popular State Quarters series
were announced yesterday by the United States Mint.
"The new coins will be minted and issued in 10-week intervals
throughout 2008 with designs honoring Oklahoma, New Mexico,
Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii. These coins wrap up the series
that began in 1999 with a quarter honoring Delaware. Surveys
by the Mint have found that nearly half of all Americans
collect the state quarters, either in casual accumulations
or as a serious numismatic pursuit.
"Jay Johnson was director of the Mint in 2000 and 2001 in
the early days of the program. He now works for a private
company, the Franklin Mint, as its chief numismatist,
supervising the production of what he calls 'enhanced'
versions of the official coins by colorizing them or
gold-plating them. He predicted that public interest in
the state quarters would surge in the coming year. In other
countries with long-running series of coins, he said,
interest is usually strongest in the first and final years,
as collectors realize their sets can now be completed.
"But the series may get an extra breath of life. A bill to
issue six more coins in 2009, honoring the District of
Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the United
States Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands has
been approved by the House of Representatives and is now
awaiting action in the Senate banking committee."
To read the complete article, see:
"It costs the government around 9 to 10 cents to make a
quarter, but the Mint sells the coins at face value. The
increased production has amounted to an estimated $3.8
billion in extra profits for the government.
"'It is one of those rare programs that actually made money
for the federal government,' said Rep. Michael Castle,
R-Delaware, the original sponsor of the state quarter
"The quarters are scheduled to revert back to their pre-1999
designs after next year. George Washington will remain on the
'heads' side of the coin, but the 'tails' side where the state
designs had been placed will once again feature an American
To read the complete article, see:
COUNTERFEIT IRAQI DINARS SIEZED IN BAGHDAD
"Forged Iraqi banknotes worth about $1 million were seized
in a central Baghdad raid on Tuesday, officials said, in
what was believed to be the biggest operation of its kind
"Iraqi National Security Minister Shirwan al-Waeli said
four people were arrested during the raid by Iraqi soldiers
and security ministry officers on a ground-floor apartment
in Baghdad's Karrada district.
"'A huge amount of money was found in the house, more than
1 billion Iraqi dinars,' Waeli told Reuters.
"A Defence Ministry statement said the notes seized amounted
to 1.25 billion Iraqi dinars, equivalent to roughly $1 million.
"Waeli said the forged currency was in notes of 10,000 and
25,000 dinars. He said security ministry officials had been
tracking the gang since Nov. 5."
To read the complete article, see:
ANOTHER MILLION-DOLLAR BILL APPEARS
News reports this week told of another man who attempted
to pass a 'million-dollar bill':
"A bank teller in Clearwater had a million reasons not to
open an account for an Augusta, Ga., man Monday, authorities
said. Alexander D. Smith, 31, was charged with disorderly
conduct and two counts of forgery after he walked into the
bank and tried to open an account by depositing a fake $1
million bill, said Aiken County Sheriff's spokesman Lt.
"The employee refused to open the account and called police
while the man started to curse at bank workers, Frank said.
"The federal government has never printed a million-dollar
bill, Frank said."
To read the complete article, see:
To view an image of the Million Dollar Bill, see:
HOLDERS OF $MILLION BILLS ARRESTED
THE MILLION DOLLAR BILL
MAN OFFERS MILLION DOLLAR BILL, WAITS FOR CHANGE
FEATURED WEB PAGE: CURRENCY OF THE WORLD
This week's featured web page is referred to us by John and
Nancy Wilson. It is a reference for the major, official
currencies of the world and their currency codes.
"To distinguish between countries that call their currency
the same or similar names, a country specific identifier has
been provided for most of the currencies below. For example,
both India and Nepal call their money the 'rupee' - therefore
below they will be described as the Indian rupee and the
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 LittletonCoin.com
To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, just
Reply to this message, or write to the Editor at this
address: whomren at coinlibrary.com
Those wishing to become new E-Sylum subscribers
(or wishing to Unsubscribe) can go to the following web page:
All past E-Sylum issues are archived on the NBS web site at this address:
Issues from September 2002 to date are also archived at this address:
More information about the Esylum