The E-Sylum v10#50, December 9, 2007

esylum at esylum at
Sun Dec 9 18:50:44 PST 2007

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 10, Number 50, December 9, 2007:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2007, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Joe Cribb of the British 
Museum and Marc Stackler.  Welcome aboard!  We now have 1,094 

This week we have announcements and reviews of numismatic 
books, catalogues and periodicals including new books on 
the coinage of William Wood and the Panic of 1907, Sotheby's 
Washington Cincinnati Badge catalog, and the 100th issue of 
the Liberty Seated Collectors Club's official journal.  In 
addition, author Karl Moulton responds to last week's review 
of his new book on 'Henry Voigt and Others....' and Joe Cribb 
writes about his 'Money' book.

In the news we have updates on the ANS' recent sale of their 
building and planned move, the ANA's search for a new Executive 
Director, and Liberty Dollar founder Bernard von NotHaus' 
latest coining initiative.

In follow-ups from last week we have more information on 
dealer Robert E. Hecht, additional background information 
from George Fuld on the MicMac medal, a note from Katie Jaeger 
on the Erie Canal Completion medal in gold and biographical 
information on collector William H. Woodin.   

To learn about the 'whakapapa' of the New Zealand military, 
read on.  Need a hint?  It's a 'national taonga'.  Have a 
great week, everyone.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Fred Lake of Lake Books writes: "This is a reminder that 
our 91st mail-bid sale of numismatic literature closes on 
Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2007 at 5:00 PM (EST). You may view the 
sale on our web site at:  
Your bids may be placed via email, fax or telephone until 
the closing time. Good luck with your bidding."    


Numismatic literature dealer George Frederick Kolbe writes: 
"I have been experiencing problems sending and receiving 
email messages over the past few weeks. The problems appear 
to have been solved, but an unknown number of incoming 
messages may never have arrived. If any E-sylum readers 
have not received timely email replies, please resend any 
relevant messages to GFK at Thank you."


Regarding eBay shipping and handling charges in relation 
to selling numismatic literature, Greg Heim of South Plainfield, 
NJ writes: "Earlier this year I sold my own personal Red Book 
collection via eBay - it included the first 10 editions, plus 
many of the Special Editions (including the Milwaukee). My 
eBay ID is "gynandroidhead."  More recently I've listed bulk 
lots on consignment - two different 100+ lots of Bowers & 
Merena Rare Coin Reviews, some auction catalogs (1980s to 
date with a lot of Stack's Ford Sales), etc.  

"In my town, I have an APC, or Automated Postal Center in 
my lobby which is available 24/7.  However, you cannot use 
it to ship Media Mail packages.  To complicate matters, the 
Post Office lobby does not open until 10AM.  There is a very 
legitimate component to 'handling' which must be incurred 
by the buyer.  There is the time in processing the lot, 
which includes the packaging, packaging materials, and time 
to and from the post office (especially at this time of the 
year if one chooses to do business).  

"Now please do not get me wrong, I am not an advocate of 
running up your handling charges to offset a chunk of the 
seller's eBay fees.  However, time and materials cost money 
and too many uninformed buyers only look at the postage.  
I take pride in my customer service and my feedback, and 
I try to be as fair as possible by combining shipping for 
multiple lots, etc.  The only thing that I ask a buyer to 
do is evaluate shipping & handling carefully when leaving 
opinion on the feedback.  Thanks for your time and have a 
wonderful holiday season."


Ray Williams writes: "I just wanted to let everyone know 
that Syd Martin's new book 'The Hibernia Coinage of William 
Wood (1722-1724)' was released this past weekend at the C4 
Convention in Boston.  It is truly an all encompassing work 
on the topic, well thought out with respect to content and 
structure, and obviously this was a labor of love by the 
author.  I feel this book should be used as an example of 
how a numismatic book should be written on a specialty topic.  
Syd's book will serve as the standard reference on the topic 
for many generations - a brief glance through the pages will 
tell why.  

"As an aside, I'm very proud to be associated with a specialty 
club (Colonial Coin Collectors Club) that has published four 
significant numismatic books and added so much to the knowledge 
base of colonial numismatics.  We have a fifth manuscript being 
reviewed at the moment and another ready to review, with several 
others that I hope will be ready for publication in the next 
two to three years.  Thanks for the great job with the E-Sylum!"

[The book's table of contents is quite thorough, organizing 
nearly 500 pages of information into four major chapters and 
five appendices.  Michael Hodder wrote the book's introduction.   
The book is available from numismatic literature dealer Charles 
Davis (Numislit at at $85 plus $5 shipping to the Continental 
USA (Canada $15, Europe $27).   I'm looking forward to reading 
the book and would encourage our colonial-collecting readers 
to provide their thoughts on it for The E-Sylum.  -Editor]

To view the Table of Contents and learn how to order, see:  


At their recent convention the Colonial Coin Collectors Club 
presented author Robert Vlack with a nicely inscribed and 
signed copy of his classic 1965 work, 'Early American Coins'.

Ray Williams writes: "At the beginning of our Educational 
Forum, I was honored to be able to present Bob Vlack with 
a C4 Lifetime Achievement Award. Bob is in Florida and was 
unable to travel to the convention to receive it in person. 
In his place, Bob's daughter Cheryl accepted the award and 
read a message that Bob wrote for the C4 Membership. Several 
members shared their experiences with Bob and it was a moving 
experience for Cheryl, and for me too. Instead of making a 
plaque for Bob that would probably collect dust, C4 obtained 
a copy of Bob's 1965 book and had all the members present 
sign it. This was something much more personal and I'm sure 
Bob will pull it out often and read through all the names 
and notes."


Alan V. Weinberg writes: "This week I received via DHL a 
complimentary hardbound 8 x 11 auction catalogue/book from 
Sotheby's New York City offering as a single lot the George 
Washington / Marquis de Lafayette Order of the Society of 
the Cincinnati gold and enamel ribboned decoration to be 
auctioned Dec 11, 2007. The book/catalogue, which has 75 
pages, is dedicated exclusively to "A Sacred Relic" which 
is the title of the book/auction catalogue. 

"The Order or Badge, as Sotheby's calls it, is accompanied 
by its rather inexpensive-looking contemporary case. Somewhat 
like the 1850 San Francisco Alderman's gold medal case of 
issue (Stack's Ford XX sale on Oct 16, 2007), an extraordinarily 
fine piece of expensive workmanship ($150 in 1850) in a rather 
ordinary-looking, inexpensive case. The Cincinnati decoration 
box is inscribed simply "Washington's Cincinnati Badge" in 
gilt lettering. I've seen much lesser medals, even bronze, 
in much plusher boxes.
"The photography in the hardbound Sotheby "catalogue" is 
close-up and magnificent and perhaps a dozen different views 
of the ribboned badge and case are throughout the book. 
Numerous pertinent documents are also pictured giving the 
casual reader the impression that the documents accompany 
the medal. That is not true and one must carefully read the 
footnotes to these documents' pictures to see the documents 
are housed in historical societies and don't accompany the 
Cincinnati badge.

"The catalogue suggests an auction value of $4 to $10 million 
for this decoration (gasp!). As a serious collector of American 
historical medals for several decades, I'm doubtful this decoration 
or badge qualifies as a 'numismatic medal' or that numismatists 
will be pursuing this historic relic. Knowing the authors' 
guidelines, it certainly would not have been included in the 
Bowers/Jaeger book "100 Greatest American Medals and Tokens" just 
published. It is more in line with what appeals to members of 
OMSA (Orders and Medals Society of America) and collectors/investors 
in historical artifacts, colonial furniture or early American 
weapons. Whether or not it will realize the expected $4-10 million 
goal, the chances are greater now with this quality catalogue 
offering the single piece. I wonder what the reserve is?

"Oh, the badge is hardly unique, with others being housed in 
museums (just not with the GW/Lafayette connection). And it is 
the first style of a long line of slightly modified gold/enamel 
Society of the Cincinnati badges which are only moderately rare.  
But the book or catalogue itself - a feast for the eyes and a 
nice addition to one's numismatic library. I wonder how many 
were printed?"

[I went to the Sotheby's web site earlier this week hoping to 
order a copy of the catalogue - it was priced at a whopping $48. 

Alan adds: "Sotheby's, to protect their image and credibility 
will not sell anything for less than approx 60% (or more - perhaps 
80%) of their low estimate. This is standard among the 'better' 
auction houses. 60% of the low estimate of $4 million is still 
$2.4 million. My guess is it won't sell."

Rev. William Spooner writes: "When I read their estimate, I 
thought they were nucking futz."  

To order a copy of the Sotheby Order of the Cincinnati catalogue, see


[In his Monday blog, Dave Harper mentioned a new book 
that may be of interest to E-Sylum readers.  -Editor]

Dave writes: "I happened to read a book called, The Panic 
of 1907: Lessons Learned from the Market's Perfect Storm. 
It was written by Robert F. Bruner and Sean D. Carr. I 
recommend it. I saw it in the airport and knew I had to 
read it. 

"One of the marks of good publishing is to have a book 
on the rack that seems relevant to the headlines. For me, 
this was it. I have been watching the holdings in my 
retirement accounts drop dramatically, rise dramatically 
and then repeat. 

"It is a relatively brief book. It was not an economics 
manual at least insofar as the history was concerned. 
The economics got a little deeper in the lessons section 
at the end. 

"This book should be read by coin collectors and paper 
money collectors because it sets the historical stage 
for the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. A lot of collectors 
wonder why the Federal Reserve was created. This will 
tell you."

To read the complete article, see:,guid,a9069136-3707-4d42-ad9f-eb

[I would be particularly interested to know how much the 
book discusses 1907 Clearing House Certificates, which were 
a widely used currency substitute during the panic.  Below 
are quotes from the publisher and others on, 
which also has a video featuring the book's authors. -Editor]

"The chronicle follows one speculator's attempt to corner 
the copper market, which leads to panic, the failure of banks 
and trusts and the impending bankruptcy of New York City. In 
the midst of chaos, one man was able to halt the domino effect 
with calm, character and capital: J. Pierpont Morgan. The 
Panic, the authors note, hit America at a moment eerily 
similar to our own: coming off 50 years of postwar economic 
expansion with a Republican "moralist" in the White House, 
an increasingly interventionist government, the formation 
of enormous new corporate conglomerates and a muckraking 
news media fueling resentment."

"A dull textbook it's not: Most chapters amount to six or 
seven pages of storytelling with cliffhangers. entertaining 
read..."--Bloomberg News 

".the definitive guide to the stock market panic of '07"
--The Times 


David Lange writes: "I just finished the new 100th issue of 
The Gobrecht Journal. Not only is this specialized journal 
still thriving after 30+ years, but its landmark 100th 
issue is of particular interest to bibliophiles and numismatic 
"Bill Bugert contributed a long and well researched biography 
of Martin Luther Beistle, author of the pioneering 1929 
reference on half dollars. It includes his life story, as 
well as a history of The Beistle Company. Within this is an 
excellent study of the development of Beistle's Unique brand 
coin pages, better known today as the National brand, its 
name after Wayte Raymond undertook the marketing of this first 
coin album. Before reading Bill's article I didn't realize 
that both the National albums and their low-budget companions, 
the Popular brand, continued to be manufactured by The Beistle 
Company for decades after Raymond took over. His death in 1956 
saw the Faxons continuing their sales of these familiar items 
through the 1960s. They were yet being produced by The Beistle 
Company, which still exists today, though it no longer produces 
coin hobby products. Should I ever get around to doing a book 
about coin albums, which remains a goal of mine, I'll be 
drawing heavily on Bill's research and reference sources.
"Of particular interest to numismatic bibliophiles is 
Bill's study of M. L. Beistle's book on the half dollar 
series. Included are specific facts about the printer of 
this book, the number printed of each edition and their 
ultimate dispostion, as well as Beistle's cost for the 
press run and Aubrey Beebe's acquisition of the unsold 
remainder from Beistle's estate. My own library lacks an 
original Beistle, as I have only the reprint Beebe produced 
after selling the last of the original copies.
"Also included in this outstanding issue is Len Augsburger's 
biography of Kamal M. Ahwash, famed for his pioneering 
specialization in Seated Liberty coinage and his authorship 
in 1977 of the first detailed reference book on Seated Liberty 
Dimes. I knew Kam only casually and cannot contribute any 
more to what Len wrote, but Kam had a very interesting and 
varied career that is well presented in this article.
"The balance of the issue is typical of the material usually 
included in The Gobrecht Journal, consisting of detailed 
studies of particular Seated Liberty coins and series. There 
is, however, a brief tribute to Al Blythe, author of The 
Complete Guide to Liberty Seated Half Dimes. I did know Al 
quite well, and I can affirm Mark Sheldon's depiction of him 
as a generous and good natured individual.
"I've been a member of the Liberty Seated Collectors Club 
for 30 years, and in that time I can't recall an issue of 
its journal that I enjoyed so thoroughly as this landmark 
100th number. NBS members should definitely acquire this 
issue for its unique material."


[John and Nancy Wilson of Ocala, FL submitted this review 
of 'The 100 Greatest American Medals and Tokens' by Katherine 
Jaeger and Q. David Bowers.  -Editor]

The 100 Greatest American Medals and Tokens written by 
Katherine Jaeger and Q. David Bowers is a well-written 
coffee table style book with superb photographs and 
excellent printing.  A book like this normally sells in 
the $75 to $100 range and therefore its price of only 
$29.95 makes it a bargain. 

>From the 1776 Libertas Americana medal, which we personally 
feel is the most beautiful medal ever produced to the lowly 
1944 O.P.A. token, which is certainly one of the poorest 
tokens as far as looks and production, the authors endeavour 
to show, not just the most beautiful medals and tokens, but 
the most important pieces to the American public and numismatic 
collectors.  In 1944 every American was aware of these O.P.A. 
tokens and used them daily to purchase most of the commodities 
in short supply due to the war needs.  In this sense they 
were one of the most important tokens in American history. 

Much additional information about each piece is given along 
with the current estimated market value for the piece.  In 
addition photographs and information is given for associated 
pieces such as the three cent Feuchtwanger pieces to go along 
with the one cent Feuchtwanger piece. 

The book gives a good overview of the entire token and medal 
series as the pieces are important to all Americans.  All 
readers will not agree what "greatest" means and certainly 
will not agree on what pieces should be included.  This is 
part of the discussion by readers as to what they would 
personally have on the list.  

We enjoyed reading this useful reference and recommend it 
highly to not only numismatists but non collectors as well.  


Author Karl Moulton writes: "Thank you for presenting the 
Bill Eckberg review of "Henry Voigt and Others Involved 
With America's Early Coinage".

"This book was written as a story primarily to provide 
new background information about the people and events 
relative to the creation of America's early coinage.  It 
was not written as a thesis, dissertation, or historical 
novel  -  hence the lack of footnotes.  If every detail 
included had to be validated, such as Rittenhouse nearly 
fainting after the transit of Venus, the book would never 
have been finished.  Williamson didn't say anything about 
needing footnotes or a bibliography, and there are plenty 
of verbatim quotes and letters used throughout the entire 
book.  If one reads what is actually written - opinions, 
conjectures, theories, and beliefs are properly defined 
as such.

"As it is, the scope of the book covers a great deal of 
previously unknown information, which is difficult to 
uncover to begin with, let alone prove conclusively (ala 
"smoking gun").  However, the assertions come not from 
"unsupported guesswork", as was mentioned in the review, 
but from extensive research into previously unrecognized 
sources (contemporary newspapers, letters, etc.), which 
most numismatists have never seen.  Just because no one 
has ever heard of something before, doesn't mean it isn't 
accurate.  To require documentation in order to be accepted 
and believed, especially regarding the activities at the 
first U.S. Mint, is totally unrealistic.  The surrounding 
context of known situations to extrapolate from is all we 
have.  Documentation simply doesn't exist in many cases, 
so don't blame the author for the lack thereof.

"To correct a blatant error in the Eckberg review, Wright 
is attributed only as the designer of the obverse for the 
Libertas Americana medal, not the entire thing.  The others 
involved are properly credited.  To be specific (and this 
is not meant to be argumentative, only informative), based 
on contemporary letters, the Libertas Americana medal was 
not designed by Augustin Dupre, even though his name is 
found on Liberty's neck as well as on the reverse, which 
he did not design either.  

"Yes, Dupre did a wonderful job of engraving the dies, of 
that there is no doubt.  However, in reviewing the letter 
exchanges with Franklin (all are online at, 
we find there is no direct communication whatsoever between 
Franklin and Dupre regarding the design, engraving, 
manufacturing, or distribution of the medal.  That in 
itself is a noteworthy discovery.  

"Ben Franklin first described the concept for this medal 
to Robert Livingston in a May 1782 letter.  Parisian 
Alexandre-Theodore Brongniart was a member of the Academie 
des Belles - Lettres, a close friend of Jean A. Houdon, and 
(at the time) the architect and controller-general of the 
Ecole Militare School.  He was also the intermediary who 
discussed the proposed designs with Franklin in September 
of 1782.  His letter of the 22nd is revealing.  Brongniart 
writes (paraphrased translation):  I finally met the sculptor 
who had the honor to speak to you and he gave me two large 
sketches for medals.  A painter who is an acquaintance will 
draw the same subject.  What would be a good day to visit 
with you in Passy to discuss these?

"There is no hint of any prior acquaintance of this 
"sculpteur" as is mentioned for the painter (Gibelin).  
It is presumed he already knew both Duvivier (the chief 
engraver) and Dupre (the assistant engraver) at the Paris 
Mint, and no such recognition to either one is implied.  
The concept for this medal was already in the design stages 
with, as we see, two sketches already having been submitted.

"Joseph Wright was known primarily as a sculptor at this 
point (like his mother Patience), having been enrolled in 
the Royal Academy of Arts in London for the previous six 
years.  John Adams (the first to write about Brongniart's 
involvement in his 2007 book "Comitia Americana") has argued 
that the word sculptor could mean "carver" (engraver); however, 
there are few, if any, confirmed works by Dupre known in wax, 
plaster, stone, or terra cotta; yet several pieces are known 
for Joseph Wright - the plaster mold of George Washington 
done in 1783 and the bronze bust ordered by Congress in 1785 
being prominent among them.  

"Wright arrived in Paris in the spring of 1782 shortly 
before his mother left there for England, and became a 
frequent guest at the temporary Franklin residence at the 
Hotel de Valentinois in Passy.  In an August 1782 letter, 
when Joseph was preparing to leave France and return to 
America, he writes to Ben Franklin's grandson William about 
doing yet another painting of Franklin: ".I may be in some 
measure troublesome, and he must be tired of seeing me so 
constantly."  So, we find that Wright, the sculptor, painter, 
and engraver was there at the time the designs were submitted, 
and had extensive contact with Ben Franklin, the person who 
was directly responsible for the Libertas Americana medal.

"There is nothing mentioned about the medal for the next 
several months.  Presumably, this is when the dies were 
being engraved by Dupre.  Then, on 1-23-1783, Brongniart 
writes to Franklin stating that he was sending two new 
impressions of the medal noting that the head is not yet 
at the point of perfection, which will be corrected, and 
that the serpents will be larger and more characterized.  
He also reminded Franklin that he had promised to tell 
him what should be written on both sides at the bottom 
of the medal.
"A week later, on 1-31-1783, he writes again reminding 
Franklin that he has not yet received the mottos for the 
reverse and asking Franklin what he wants engraved at each 
side around the head of freedom.  He also returns a sketch 
of the head of freedom.  Brongniart mentions that this delay 
keeps the engraver, who desires to finish this project, from 
doing so.  That the engraving was not yet finished, and 
Brongniart asking Franklin what he wants engraved points 
strongly to Dupre not being the one who designed the LA medal.  
If Dupre actually created this medal, as others (Vermeule, etc.) 
have previously written, why would Brongniart be asking 
Franklin what he wanted to be engraved on it?

"Interestingly, the January 23 letter reveals there were 
two proofing impressions (die trials) sent to Ben Franklin; 
one of which he sent to his long-time friend Sir William 
Jones, an Englishman who was sympathetic to the American 
cause and had suggested the reverse Latin motto ("Not without 
the Gods is the infant courageous").  This is confirmed in a 
March 17, 1783, letter by Franklin with which he sends the 
reverse "Epreuves" (trial) to Jones and thanks him for the 
suggestions, which he used.  

"The other (obverse trial) was apparently kept by Franklin, 
and its whereabouts is being researched at present.  There 
is a strong possibility it resides in the New York State 
Library collection in Albany (one of the earliest private 
numismatic collections in the U.S.), as there is an 1856 
description listed after a bronze LA medal that reads:  
"Figure of Liberty: Libertas Americana, 1783 - A Figure 
representing the American Union, with these words: Communi 
consensu - Lead".  In my opinion, it's quite possible that 
the reverse seen on this trial was the second image submitted 
by the sculptor mentioned in Brongniart's September 1782 
letter.  This may be the long lost Franklin piece with 
the unfinished obverse and the unaccepted reverse design 
from Wright.  

"Did Franklin cross paths with Wright when he returned 
to America?  I believe he did, even if it was briefly.  
The bronze LA medal and lead trial piece in the NYSL 
collection may have originally come from the Wright estate.  
A perfect opportunity for the transfer from Franklin to 
Wright could have been at Joseph's wedding in Philadelphia 
in December of 1789.  These two small items would have made 
perfect gifts, and afforded Franklin the opportunity to meet 
the lady that Joseph had thought so much of.  Franklin had 
given the first trial piece to his friend Jones, and wouldn't 
have hesitated to give the other to its designer.

"But this was in the 1790's in Philadelphia.  How did it get 
in Albany, NY by the 1850's?  In 1853, the NYSL commissioned 
Richard Wistar Davids to catalogue their material.  Davids 
was from Philadelphia and had a long time interest in collecting 
numismatic items.  There are no auction catalogues that list 
him as the consignor, so it's possible he either sold or donated 
at least part of his collection to the NYSL.  Davids is listed 
as the donor of an electrotype 1796 Washington Cent, and Mrs. 
Davids even donated two pieces of California Fractional gold. 
Unfortunately, the medal section doesn't list the donor/
acquisition information.

"To corroborate this theory, there are at least two other 
items in the NY Historical Society Library collection (1600 
pieces in 1850) that could have come from the Wright estate.  
These would be the two 1792 quarter die trials in white metal.  
These items could have been included in the acquisition by the 
NYHS of William Dunlap's diary.  Dunlap was the next-door neighbor 
of Joseph Wright's on Queen St in NYC during the 1780's and 
visited Wright's daughters later in the 1830's when he reported 
seeing a drawing of the 1792 quarter, which he believed to be 
a "cent".

"Perhaps some future researcher will dig into this more 
thoroughly to find out the real stories behind numismatic 
items being where they are least expected.

"Also, in the March 1783 letter from Franklin to Jones he 
mentions that none of the LA medals had been struck in hard 
metal.  A lead trial was commonly used because it was quite 
soft, and would be similar to other lead trial pieces seen 
in proposed American coinage designs (ref. Gobrecht obverse 
of 1836 Liberty Head half dollar in the National Numismatic 
Collection, and Peale's obverse of 1837 Seated Liberty half 
in the recent 2004 ANA sale by Heritage). 

"As for Dupre designing the new French Republic Liberty 
coinage in 1792-4, he could have easily utilized the concepts 
from the LA medal, which would have been quite appropriate.  
In Dupre's new designs, now that he had become the chief 
engraver, we see the Phrygian Cap on the copper issues, 
along with Hercules depicted on the silver 5 Franc coinage.

"Using Williamson's outline for the "suggested" Wright 
attribution for many of America's first coins (not stated 
as being fact, as Breen and Taxay did with Eckfeldt and 
Voigt doing the engraving), it's easy to notice a strong 
similarity to the LA medal theme - and why not?  Wright 
was an American in London during the Revolutionary War; 
and at the beginning of the peace process, he was in France.  
His mother was a true patriot who acted as a spy by sending 
notes of British plans to Franklin in small wax figurines.  
Joseph was trying to convey this theme of Liberty in his 
designs for America's new coinage.  Dupre was doing the 
same thing at the same time in France.  It's obvious that 
one copied the other, and in my opinion, based on the 
evidence presented here, Wright should receive the credit 
for the original designs.  

"Wright had been inspired by his mother's actions and 
1777 portrait "The Personification of Liberty", which I 
did not discover as noted in the review.  It had been 
printed in the 1965 book about Patience Wright by Sellers, 
and reprinted in the 1985 book about Joseph Wright by Fabian 
(both of which have been in my library for years).  It took 
real courage for Patience to openly defy the British monarchy 
while she was in London during the occupation of Philadelphia.  

"The visual similarity, as seen in the Wright family portrait, 
of Sarah being the model for the LA medal, dismes, half cents, 
large cents, and quarters is the closest link we have for 
validation of Wright's coin and medal creations.  Sarah 
Vandervoort was never in Paris, so Dupre never met her; and 
it's extremely doubtful Dupre knew about the sketch of Patience 
Wright.  Only Joseph Wright knew both.

"The longstanding doubt about who engraved America's earliest 
coinage comes from the lack of payment records from Rittenhouse 
and Voigt, who probably referred the various coinage commissions 
to Congress to be included in the 1792 governmental contingency 
account mentioned in the Voigt book, page 57.  This had been 
done by Jefferson in 1792 when he authorized Wright to engrave 
the Henry Lee medal.  The fact that Bob Birch and Joseph Wright 
were both in Philadelphia in 1792-3, and they were both engravers 
and die sinkers who had worked on coinage and medal designs and 
dies, makes them the only ones in the overall picture, other 
than the brief visit by Jacob Perkins in the summer of 1792.

"Mention is also made in the review that Craig Sholley found 
Voigt's 1793 daily ledger.  To be accurate, it was seen long 
ago, and one page was reprinted in a 1962 Numismatic Scrapbook 
article by R.W. Julian.

"It is hoped the reader of the "Henry Voigt and Others" book 
will not easily discount what is presented based upon prior 
accepted knowledge from "authoritative researchers" who didn't 
check below the surface, but merely copied from previous 
writings.  It is further hoped that readers will be inspired 
to do their own research, eventually adding to the numismatic 
pool of knowledge.  

"What has been presented here and now about the Libertas 
Americana medal is solid evidence of qualified research, 
which has sought out the true background for this historic 

"All numismatic knowledge is acquired, and I respect everyone's 
opinions.  I also respect an open mind. In my opinion, Q. David 
Bowers, who wrote the foreword, is one of the most knowledgeable, 
positive, and open-minded researchers ever to appear in 
American numismatics."

Karl adds that "The Brongniart letters definitely need to be 
properly translated to English.  The Google language tools 
translation is not simply precise enough to make a correct 
interpretation one way or the other.    That's why I used the 
'paraphrased translation' clause for the Brongniart letters 
which are written in French."  Could one of our readers offer 
assistance in translation?  -Editor]


Regarding my review of Jeff Reichenberger's pamphlet on William 
Ashbrook, Dave Lange writes: "Some of these Ashbrook nuggets 
are included in Roger Burdette's third and final volume in his 
books. I posted a review of the new book on, and I'm 
attaching it here. I don't believe Amazon copyrights such 
reviews, so I imagine you can reproduce it."

[Jeff does mention Roger's book in his pamphlet. -Editor]

This third and final volume in Roger W. Burdette's trilogy 
titled Renaissance of American Coinage is every bit as satisfying 
as the other two volumes. Covering the years 1909-15, it includes 
complete developmental histories of two favorite coin types, 
the Lincoln Cent and the Buffalo Nickel. Also included are the 
several commemorative coins that were issued for the Panama-Pacific 
International Exposition in 1915. All of this is thoroughly 
documented with correspondence between U. S. Mint officers, 
the sculptors commissioned to create the coins and various 
other public and private individuals who made their 
not-always-welcome contributions to these coins' histories. 

The book also features a look into some little known tales 
regarding the U. S. Mint's own coin collection, which is now 
held by the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History. 
These include a profile of the important curator, T. Louis 
Comparette, as well as some insider correspondence revealing 
that the Mint retained numerous old coins that it used for 
trading purposes and for soliciting favor with public 
officials. Sidebar stories on the infamous 1913 Liberty 
Head Nickel, as well as profiles of some important yet 
little known Mint personnel complete this important reference. 

As always with Roger's books, every statement and document 
is fully cited, not only as to its general source but as to 
its specific folder within the vast National Archives and 
Records Administration bureaucracy. As someone who has done 
a fair amount of research and writing myself on this period 
of Mint history, I can attest to just how tedious yet 
important this kind of documentation is to future research. 

While pointing out its thorough citations may give readers 
of this review the impression that this book is a dry and 
ponderous exercise, such an idea is vastly removed from the 
truth. Roger's writing skills and style are both eminently 
relaxed and enjoyable, and this book will satisfy students 
of U. S. Mint history and coinage at any level of 
sophistication. The numerous, sharp photographs are alone 
worth the price of the book. 

Whether enjoyed as a thoroughly researched history or 
simply as a beautiful coffee-table book, the 1909-15 volume 
of Roger's Renaissance of American Coinage is a delight. 
Package deals are being offered by at least one seller of 
this title, so anyone not having the other books covering 
1905-08 and 1916-21 should take advantage of such offers 
by buying all three at once.



Regarding the review I wrote on his book 'Money', Joe Cribb 
writes: "Thanks for your kind words on my book. The objects, 
unless indicated are from the British Museum collection. 
There have been loads of printings of this as it has been 
translated into about 20 different languages, including 
American English! There have only been two editions as such, 
the original one in 1990 and an update to cover the Euro in 
1999. All others are reprints or translated editions. The 
2000 is probably the US version of the 1999 one. The UK 
editions have an index.

"The reference to the etymology of piggy bank is not written 
by me, but added by the US editor/translator. This is an 
erroneous etymology. In medieval English pots were sometimes 
called pigs because of their resemblance to pigs. The earliest 
money pigs were in Indonesia in the 13-15th century kingdom 
of Majapahit on Java. The earliest European money pigs seem 
to have been in Germany."



I won a couple lots in George Kolbe's 104 numismatic literature 
sale.  One is lot 623, a rare little pamphlet by Boston coin 
dealer Henry Cook published in 1869.  COIN AND MEDAL CIRCULAR, 
COLLECTOR.   The 12-page pamphlet is interleaved with lined 
paper.  Kolbe describes it as "A scarce early introductory 
guide with interesting tables of large cents and half cents, 
giving degrees of rarity and selling prices at the time.  A 
major early Boston coin dealer, Cook left little beyond 
several auction sales and a similar pamphlet or two for us 
to remember him."

Here is the opening passage, and it applies just as well 
today as it did in 1869:

"It is quite unnecessary here to expatiate upon the pleasure 
and information to be derived from the study of coins and 
medals; the desire to obtain information concerning the 
identity, value, etc., of such pieces as may fall into our 
possession, being almost universal.

"Scarcely a day passes but calls are made upon me for a 
list of prices that are paid for coins; and in a general 
reply I would state that it is impossible for a coin dealer 
or an experienced collector to determine upon the price of 
coins without seeing each individual piece of which his 
opinion is asked.  As this may appear strange to the 
inexperienced in coin collecting, I will explain that 
everything depends, regarding the price of a coin, upon 
its rarity, and the good or bad condition in which the 
piece in question may be."


An article in the New York Observer reported that "Kent Swig's 
Swig Equities has dropped some cash for a coin museum, paying 
$23.9 million for the American Numismatic Society's building 
at 138 William Street. The society (numismatics are coin 
collectors) is planning a move to a leased space nearby-
tentatively next summer-for financial reasons, according 
to a spokeswoman." 

The ANS published a news release November 28th on the sale 
and its relocation to leased space in a newly renovated 
building elsewhere in Manhattan.  

[Here are excerpts from the press release, followed by a 
note on the ANS Library.  -Editor]

The Society will be relocating in the second half of 2008 
to a leased 20,000 square foot space on the eleventh floor 
of One Hudson Square, a newly renovated 19 story building 
in a popular neighborhood near SoHo and Tribeca.

One Hudson Square is situated on the corners of Varick, 
Grand and Canal Streets, one of Manhattan's most vibrant 
and easily accessible neighborhoods.  Other tenants in 
the immediate area include the Jackie Robinson Museum, 
The Art Institute of New York, and The Guggenheim Foundation 
as well as others from the education, publishing, advertising 
and financial sectors. 

The new headquarters will house a gallery for exhibitions, 
state-of-the-art lecture and conference rooms, and a library 
filled with ambient light housing about 10,000 linear feet 
of open shelving. 

ANS Executive Director Ute Wartenberg adds: "The new Harry 
Bass Jr. Library will have the same shelving and seating 
capacity on a single floor, with views of the Hudson River.  
There will be an elegant, glassed-enclosed Rare Book Room 
and a Members' Lounge in addition to the John J. Ford Jr. 
Conference and Reading Room.   All current library holdings 
will be transferred to the new location.  Over the last few 
years, we have been selling some of the extensive holdings 
of duplicate auction catalogues and other similar items, 
which are currently housed on our second floor.  If any 
E-Sylum readers are interested in such materials, please 
contact our Museum Administrator Joanne Isaac 
(isaac at"

To read the complete article, see:


The American Numismatic Association has formally opened 
its search for its next Executive Director.  Below are 
excerpts from the ANA's December 7th Press Release.

"The American Numismatic Association is accepting applications 
for a new executive director to replace Acting Executive 
Director Kenneth Hallenbeck, who will step down once a 
replacement has been named. 

"... the executive director must have extensive knowledge 
of management skills with the ability to initiate, implement 
and successfully complete programs and objectives; train and 
motivate people, coordinate activities, speak publicly, and 
deal effectively with the public, private groups and community 

"Candidates must have considerable knowledge of and interest 
in the subject matter dealt with by the ANA or a similar hobby 
field. Applicants must be able to communicate effectively 
with the membership, understand and implement the ANA mission 
and objectives, and be able to convey that understanding and 
implementation to the Board of Governors, staff members, the
members and others outside the numismatic field. 

"The minimum criteria is five years experience in managing 
a business, organization or nonprofit association, including 
staff supervision, financial reporting and strategic planning. 
The selected candidate must be willing to relocate to Colorado 
Springs, and be able to work on weekends and evenings."


[A number of Internet publications picked up on the latest 
wrinkle in the story of the Liberty Dollar currency substitute.  
Here are excerpts from one such article on  

"Liberty Dollar, the firm that got raided by the FBI before 
Thanksgiving for trying to start a precious-metals-based 
currency to compete with the greenback, now says it's back 
in business. 

"Well, sort of. 

"The company's founder, Bernard von NotHaus, said in an email 
Thursday that he's changed the firm's name to Liberty Dollar 
Numismatics. And he's also trying to raise money by converting 
any previously issued Liberty Dollar coins into an Arrest 
Dollar marked with a special miniature handcuffs hallmark. 

"Liberty came to prominence in July after it started minting 
solid silver coins stamped with an image of Ron Paul, a 
Republican presidential hopeful and an avid supporter of a 
return to the gold-standard monetary system. 

"But the operation seemed to come to an abrupt halt when 
the Secret Service and the FBI raided the firm's Evansville 
office in mid-November and confiscated all materials, 
including the precious-metal Liberty Dollar coins and the 
Ron Paul dollars. 

"Von NotHaus says he'll take any previously issued Liberty 
Dollar or Ron Paul dollar coin for a fee of $10 and put the 
money toward his legal defense fund. He says he expects to 
be arrested on a multitude of charges, including money 
laundering and conspiracy, but he's not quite sure when."

To read the complete article, see:

To view "Arrest Dollar" images, see:


[The Denver Post ran an article this week about the local 
man who discovered a Sacagawea dollar lettered in error 
on the edge.  -Editor]

Andrew Moores tossed a Sacagawea coin into a dish on his 
desk and forgot about it - until a few weeks ago when he 
realized he possessed a treasure. 

Moores had a golden dollar with "In God We Trust" encircling 
the edge of the coin, which was struck in 2007 at the Denver 

Those words are the hallmark of the new presidential dollar 
coins, not the Sacagawea. And so far, Moores' Sacagawea is 
the only one of its kind. 

"I kind of feel like I won the lottery. It's that much of 
a rarity," said the 23-year-old data-entry technician 
from Lakewood. 

After examining the odd dollar, he sought the advice of 
a friend who collects coins. 

His friend found out that Professional Coin Grading Service 
in Newport, Calif., had a $10,000 bounty on such a coin. 
The PCGS authenticates rare coins and offers cash for new 

After Moores spoke to the president of the company, he 
packaged his prize in a FedEx box, insured it for $50,000, 
and shipped it off for examination. The company verified 
the coin's authenticity and sent Moores a $10,000 check. He 
gets to keep the coin, too. 

In 2000, some Sacagawea coins were struck so that there was 
a "quarter die on one side and a Sacagawea die on the other," 
said Mike Faraone, an expert on error coins at the PCGS. "I 
think about 10 came out, and one of those sold for $65,000." 

Michael White, a spokesman for the U.S. Mint, said officials 
are aware of the reported error and are looking into it. 

The PCGS believes the next major error might be an overstrike 
with both the Sacagawea and presidential designs on the same 
coin. That will be worth a $10,000 finder's fee, too. 

To read the complete article, see: 


Bill Malkmus writes: "Your comments on 'anthropodermic 
bibliopegy' reminded me of a short contribution I had 
published in The Asylum some five years ago (Vol. XX, No. 3, 
pp. 59-61), entitled 'Bibliomania through the Ages: Four 
Mini-Reviews.' In a three-page commentary (on four books), 
there was little opportunity for lengthy discourse, but a 
two-paragraph excerpt (from p. 60) might be relevant here:

  [Holbrook] Jackson, in The Anatomy of Bibliomania [1930; 
  repr. 1950], tells us everything we wanted to know, and 
  considerably more, about the nature of the disease, 
  seeming to have overlooked no possible topic for discussion. 
  The book is divided into 32 parts which are further 
  subdivided into 199 sections. Among these subject headings 
  one may find quite practical ones such as "Reading at the 
  Toilet" and "Reading Many Books at Once" and the saddest 
  -- "On Parting With Books" -- as well as esoterica such 
  "Books Bound in Human Skin."

  This latter section is perhaps not as gruesome as it 
  might sound. Camille Flammarion, the French astronomer, 
  received a bequest of the tanned skin from the back and 
  shoulders of a countess whose skin he had once complimented; 
  he used a portion to bind one of his books, Ciel et Terre. 
  But at least one donor was able to enjoy his contribution 
  in his lifetime: a Russian poet, who had a book of sonnets 
  bound in his own skin, taken from a leg which was amputated 
  following a hunting accident. [1]

  [ Footnote 1]: For the do-it-yourselfers in our readership, 
  optimal tanning instructions are provided.

"In regard to your opening question, I do not have the book 
on hand to double-check, but I am sure that if there had been 
any (even vaguely) numismatic references, I would have made 
the most of it.

"Your concept of developing an archive from The E-Sylum fits 
in nicely with your being able to write more extensively and 
provide references which I was unable to do in the print medium. 
Perhaps a reference to the Jackson book and section would expand 
the archive references usefully. Unfortunately, the subject 
index in The Asylum did not include a category "Books bound 
in human skin," so that even a computer search of the index 
would not have turned up this reference.

"I never fail to find The E-Sylum interesting."


Kerry Wetterstrom writes: "I read with interest the latest 
edition of E-Sylum, and the story on Bob Hecht. While I can't 
comment on his shadier side, I do know that he is a serious 
numismatist, specializing in ancient coinage. In fact, he 
even merits two citations in Elivra Clain-Stefanelli's 1984 
Numismatic Bibliography: 

2592 Hecht, Robert E. "Some coins of Asia Minor in Boston." 
Reprint from Numismatic Chronicle, ser. 7, vol. 4, London, 
1964, pp. 159-168, 4 pls.

4415 Hecht, R.E., "Some Greek imperial coins." Numismatic 
Chronicle (1968), ser. 7, vol, 8, pp. 27-35, 5 pls.

"Also, if my memory is correct (and lately it's been fuzzy), 
he owned a coin and antiquity business back in the 1950s 
called Hesperia Arts, based in Philadelphia, that sold ancient 
and medieval coins. Perhaps George Kolbe or Douglas Saville 
could verify this as Hesperia did publish price lists.

"Finally, Classical Numismatics Group (CNG) is selling Robert 
Hecht's collection of Byzantine Lead Seals in their upcoming 
Triton XI auction at the New York International in January.

"There is an interesting biography for Hecht on page 284 of 
the catalogue, but it doesn't mention his connection to 
Hesperia Arts. He may have been just a silent partner, or 
I may be totally wrong about his connection to the firm.

"The CNG bio reads in part: 'Robert E. ('Bob') Hecht Jr., 
now 88 years old, is the most prominent antiquity dealer 
of his generation. A Baltimore native, his great-grandfather 
Samuel Hecht founded the Hecht department store chain in 
1857 that grew to 81 stores.'

"All in all, a fascinating fellow! One other interesting 
tidbit about Bob Hecht - he is mentioned prominently in 
Bruce McNall's autobiography 'Fun While It Lasted', as 
Bruce considered him his mentor in the antiquity business. 
(Bruce was the owner of Numismatic Fine Arts if his name 
is not familiar.)"

[Considering that McNall wrote his book in a jail cell, 
I doubt Hecht will be calling on Bruce as a character 
witness in his own trial.  -Editor]


Darryl Atchison, editor of the Canadian Numismatic 
Bibliography writes: "Further to the discussion recently 
on the MicMac medal, Geoff Bell published articles on this 
medal in the 1980s as follows:
1. <<Indian-Chief medals and New Brunswick - part 1>>. - 
CNJ : Vol. 29, no. 4 (April 1984). - p. 150 - 158, ill.   
and   part II Canadian Numismatic Journal : Vol. 29, no. 
5 (May. 1984). -- p. 226 - 233 

2  <<Indian-Chief medals and New Brunswick>>. - Atlantic 
Provinces Numismatic Association Bulletin  : Vol. 23, no. 
3 (May - June 1987). - p. 28 - 31, ill.

"Both articles are illustrated (including the medal 
presented on behalf of George Washington) and full 
citations for each of these articles are included in 
the Canadian Numismatic Bibliography."

George Fuld writes: As the 'discoverer' of the Micmac 
medal, I think some other facts should be stated.
"I spent several days at the British Museum in May of 
1960 under the kind auspices of the late Dr. John Walker, 
the chief curator.  One of the eye opening discoveries was 
what we now call the Micmac medal.  At that time I assumed 
that it was of the vintage 1792 to 1795.  Dr. Walker couldn't 
make a photograph but did send several months later plaster 
casts of the medal (the illustration of the medal in 
Rulau-Fuld's Baker book on page 91 is from the plaster cast).
"I didn't publish any information until 1963.  It was 
written up as 'New Indian Peace Medal' in Coin World 155 
(April 15, 1963) page 52.  This was the first publication 
of this medal but it was not yet attributed to the Micmac 
tribe.  A full discussion on the medal was given in my 
article in the American Journal of Numismatics, second 
series Vol. 14, page 105 (2002).
"An error should be noted that in the 1999 2nd edition 
of Baker - we stated that John Ford owned the second 
known medal.  This was in error.  He examined the medal, 
which is holed, but was unable to purchase the medal.  
It still resides with the Micmac tribe.
"I hope that these facts will put the Micmac to rest!"



Regarding Leon Worden's query, Pete Smith writes: "William 
H. Woodin ran for Congress in 1898 (11-8-98) representing 
the seventeenth congressional district of Pennsylvania. 
The Democratic candidate, Rufus K. Polk, won with 14,792 
votes. Republican Woodin got 12,487 votes. A Prohibition 
candidate, John M. Caldwell, received 1265 votes.
"The site was the Wilkes University Election Statistics 
Project. My search gave me a page within a large number 
of similar pages for Pennsylvania elections.

"This is from the first item found with an Internet search. 
Perhaps it would take a little longer to prove this is 'our' 
Woodin but this is something I already knew. Woodin is one 
of my pet projects.
"I have a campaign button for Woodin and have seen other 
examples on eBay. Mine has the backpaper from Whitehead and 
Hoag. I also have a campaign card about 5.4 x 3 inches with 
his photo. This appears to be the same photo that appears 
on the campaign button."

Thomas P. Van Zeyl writes: "I'm a Woodin fan from his 
signature on my CU $1 Series 1928 Legal Tender note that 
I occasionally visit at my bank.  Mr. Worden's query got 
me doing some Internet research in my spare time; I believe 
I have an answer (as well as a link) to Leon's query:
"In the November 8, 1898 Congressional elections, specifically 
Pennsylvania, three candidates from the 17th District (serving 
the counties of Columbia, Montour, and Northumberland; I'm 
guessing about 120 miles west of Philadelphia) ran for a seat.  
They were: Rufus K. Polk, Democrat; William H. Woodin, Republican; 
and John M. Caldwell, Prohibition Party.

According to my source, 
which sources directly from Dubin, Congressional Elections, 
pp.327, 329, apparently no incumbent ran from the 17th District; 
thus, either the incumbent did not run for re-election, or, 
perhaps, this may have been a newly-created district with 
candidates running for the first time?  (Anyone else have 
better information?)  Polk won election with 14,792 votes; 
Woodin was "first loser" with 12,487 votes; the Prohibitionist, 
Caldwell, "drank up" the spoils of a third place finish with 
1,265 votes.  Winners joined the 56th Congress (1899-1901) 
in Washington, D.C."

Marc Charles Ricard also found Woodin election information 
He writes: "I found a source on the Internet that describes 
the U.S. Congressional Election of the 56th Congress held 
on November 8, 1898, whose Representatives served from 
1899 to 1901.  

"For those unfamiliar with William H. Woodin's achievements 
later in life, (as I was!), the following is taken from a 
biographical essay of his life:

William Hartman Woodin was born May 27, 1868, in Berwick, 
Pennsylvania. He attended the School of Mines at Columbia 
University but left before finishing a degree. Woodin spent 
most of his career in the private sector, starting as president 
of the American Car and Foundry Company in 1922 and serving 
as chairman of the board of the American Locomotive Company, 
the J. B. Brill Company, the Montreal Locomotive Works, and 
the Railway Steel Spring Company. He would also become a 
director of the Federal Reserve Bank in New York City. 
Along the way, Woodin became an accomplished songwriter.

He was appointed secretary of the treasury in 1933 but 
resigned after only one year because of illness and a 
minor scandal: the Senate Banking Committee had found his 
name on a list of J. P. Morgan's preferred customers and 
discovered that he had been given preferred stock options.

Woodin also presided over the Roosevelt Administration's 
withdrawal from the international monetary conference in 
London and decision to take the United States off the 
international gold standard.

While he was Secretary of the Treasury, the Administration 
also began the decision-making process that eventually led 
to the Administration's decision to buy all the gold in 
private hands in the United States (other than that used 
by dentists and jewelers) and to devalue the dollar. Under 
Secretary Acheson was so opposed to the latter two decisions 
that he resigned in protest.

Woodin was also an avid coin collector, and when gold was 
withdrawn from private hands, he made certain an exception 
was put in place for "rare or unusual" coin types.

William Woodin died on May 3, 1934, in New York City. He 
is buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, in Berwick, Pennsylvania, 
the town where he was born.




Regarding Rich Jewell's question about the 1826 Erie Canal 
Completion medal in gold, Katie Jaeger wrote to supply more 
of the information she had gathered for her essay in the 
'100 Greatest American Medals and Tokens' book.  She quotes 
the report of Archibald Robertson, the celebration committee 
chairman and medal designer:
"The Medal was engraved by Mr. Charles C. Wright, of the firm 
of A. B. and C. Durand, Wright and Co.The lettering was by 
Mr. Richard Trested, Engraver and Die Sinker, upon dies made 
by Mr. William Williams, Worker in Iron and Steel. The 
Medals themselves were most elegantly impressed by Mr. 
Maltby Pelletreau of the firm of Pelletreau, Bennett, and 
Cooke at their Gold and Silver Manufactory, by means of 
his very powerful and exquisitely adjusted screw Press.
Curious woods, such as birdseye, curled maple, red cedar, 
&c., the produce of the western forests, for making Boxes 
to inclose the Medal, were procured and deposited in a canoe 
made by the aboriginal red men, on the shores of Lake Superior; 
and embarked on board the first Canal boat from the Lakes... 
On the inside of the lid is the crest of the City Arms; with 
the inscription 'Presented by the City of New York;' and on 
the innerside of the bottom 'This Box was made from a piece 
of Wood, brought from Erie in the first Canal-boat, the Seneca 
Chief.' The gold Medals are inclosed in elegant square red 
morocco leather cases. The makers of the curious wood boxes 
were Mr. Daniel Karr, turner, and Mr. Duncan Phyfe. The 
maker of the morocco cases was Mr. Robert Tanner"

Katie has seen the gold medal presented to Andrew Jackson, 
along with its red morocco leather case, at the New York 
Historical Society. Readers can access a photo at:



[In an item last week about counterfeit-detecting pens, I 
wrote: "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."

Tom DeLorey writes: "The paper was indeed changed circa 
1960, and the chemical properties of the older paper are 
such that the ruinous marking pens do not work on them."

Dave Lange writes: "This is about the time that the BEP 
transitioned from the wet printing process to the dry 
printing process. It was phased in with the new series 
notes, while older series were still being printed 
simultaneously using the soon-to-be-obsolete technology. 
It's very likely that all wet-printed notes will fail 
the pen test."

[Last week I wrote that "... the pens are designed to 
detect certain properties in genuine U.S. currency paper, 
but they only work with relatively recent notes."

Joe Boling writes: "The counterfeit detection pens don't 
look for characteristics of US currency - they look for 
characteristics of paper that is NOT used for US currency. 
Crane's product is sized with animal fat and glycerine. 
Commercial bond paper is sized with starch. The pen is 
an iodine solution. Iodine and starch combine as black. 
If the pen detects starch on the note, it will react. 
Older notes have been in circulation a long time - they 
have had many opportunities to get contaminated with 
something that will react to the pen. 

"The date 1959 is not significant. I have a stack of 
well-circulated notes that I loan to theater companies 
as props for live performances. I just marked two 1928A 
$1 silver certificates and a 1928F $5 US note - they did 
not react. A 1928 $5 US note reacted mildly. A 1934A $10 
Federal Reserve Note did not react; neither did a 1934A 
$20 FRN or a 1934 $50 FRN. Nor did five different well-
circulated 1923 $1 silver certificates. 

"I have found that after a few weeks, the yellow marking 
of the pen will disappear from a genuine note, so your 
readers who are offended by the markings just need to put 
the notes away for a while."

[So that explains why you don't see far more bills in 
circulation showing marks from the counterfeit-detecting 
pens.  -Editor]

Joe adds: "Three days after having marked the notes 
previously listed, the marks are invisible on most and 
barely visible on the others, except under ultraviolet 
light - under UV they are still prominent."



[This week the Cincinnati Post published a profile on 
Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee member John Alexander.  

"Alexander is a member of the 11-person Citizens Coinage 
Advisory Committee that makes recommendations about the 
design of coins to the U.S. Mint and the secretary of the 
U.S. Treasury.

"'I applied for the position, and it's even better than 
I expected,' he said. 'This committee does what a good 
committee ought to do. The members listen to each other.

"'There's give and take, and people will change their minds 
based on what other people have to say. Even when we disagree, 
we understand and respect each other. Members say they look 
forward to coming to meetings.'

"The committee meets every two months at the U.S. Mint in 
Washington except for once a year when the group gathers 
at whatever city the American Numismatics Association of 
coin collectors is staging its annual convention.

"'One position is mandated for a person trained in U.S. 
history, and when it became available, I applied for it,' 
said Alexander, who was appointed to a four-year term that 
began in the autumn of 2005.

"'I applied because I collected coins briefly as a child 
and have always had some interest in coins. But I also 
thought that here is a place where one can do some real 
service based on my expertise in history.

"The committee is reviewing new designs for the back of 
the Abraham Lincoln penny because the Mint will issue 
pennies with four different backs in 2009 to honor the 
200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth.

"While the familiar Lincoln portrait on the front will 
remain the same, the new backs will represent four stages 
of Lincoln's life: birth, youth, career and president.

"Alexander said designs the committee reviewed for the 
first three stages were similar and not controversial: 
a log cabin to represent the place of Lincoln's birth, 
a young Lincoln reading by candlelight to depict his 
self-education and Lincoln making a legislative speech.

"However, some of the designs to signify Lincoln's 
presidency depicted a half-built dome of the U.S. 
Capitol, which Lincoln helped get completed.

"'That became a real problem for the committee,' said 
Alexander. 'Occasionally, we can get passionate, and 
the committee overwhelmingly decided that we don't 
believe that will work.

"'We want something that will depict Lincoln in the 
Civil War era, maybe Lincoln with generals in a tent 
or making the Gettysburg Address or signing the 
Emancipation Proclamation. Something that reminds 
people there was a thing called the Civil War.'

"Because of the committee's unhappiness with a half-built 
dome, additional designs have been ordered and the committee 
will review them at its next meeting in January."

To read the complete article, see:


[A article published this week about the recent theft of 
rare medals from a New Zealand museum mentions the collector 
who's been buying a number of them recently - Lord Ashcroft 
of England.  Here are excerpts from that article, followed 
by information on Ashcroft and his collection.  -Editor]

"The stolen military medals are worth millions and include 
9 Victoria Crosses among which is the museum's pride and joy 
- Charles Upham's VC and bar. 

"But there are suspicions that because of the swift nature 
of the raid, inside knowledge may have been a factor. It 
appeared to be timed to miss a security guard on his rounds.

"Customs is on the lookout for the stolen medals should the 
thieves attempt to take them from the country.  Medal expert 
John Mowbray has no doubt that the medals are bound for 

"'I don't know of anyone in New Zealand who is collecting 
medals at that level, that would want to do such a despicable 
thing,' says Mowbray. 'After all we're talking about our 
heritage here.'

"Mowbray says that there are very few people who buy such 
rare and valuable medals.

"'There have been 59 VC medals sold in the last ten years 
world wide, and of those 59, 42 of them have been bought 
by one person, that's Lord Ashcroft in England,' he explained... "

To read the complete article, see:

"Exactly twenty years ago Michael Ashcroft bought his 
first Victoria Cross, that of Leading Seaman James Magennis, 
believing it to be a one-off. Today the Michael Ashcroft Trust, 
which was established to care for and protect the VC collection, 
now owns 146 Victoria Cross groups, just over a tenth of the 
1357 VCs that have been awarded to individuals since 1856. It 
is by far the largest collection of Victoria Crosses in the 
world. The trust has plans to open its collection to the public 
when a suitable location can be found."

For more information on Lord Ashcroft's Victoria Cross collection, see:

For more information on the Victoria Cross, see:


[The New Zealand medal theft reported last week has spurred 
commentary and concern from all areas of the country.  Below 
are excerpts from a representative set of articles.  -Editor]

"Penetrating the hitherto-thought-impregnable fortress of 
Waiouru's military museum, thieves have liberated more than 
100 medals from under the noses of State-trained professional 
killers. The gongs include Upham's Victoria Cross and Bar.

"He must be stirring in his grave, wondering: Is this the 
same country I fought for, and almost died for?"

"The Minister of Defence deserves a month in solitary, 
polishing dustbins and trimming lawns with a nail-clipper, 
for gross dereliction of duty and absent-mindedness.

"The people responsible for the daring theft of what amounts 
to New Zealand's equivalent of the Crown Jewels deserve a 
medal for highlighting an appalling lack of protection for 
artefacts that are beyond any valuation."

To read the complete article, see:

[The following article requires some translation of Maori 
words, which I've place in brackets following the words.  
And yes, I had some help... -Editor]

"War medals stolen from Waiouru [site of the national 
army museum] are the 'whakapapa [ancestral history] of 
our New Zealand military', says New Zealand First MP Ron Mark.

"'It's national taonga [treasure],' he said yesterday in 
Palmerston North.

"Nine Victoria Crosses were among 100 medals stolen from 
the army museum.

"Reports suggest the heist early on Sunday morning was 
well-planned and executed.

"'If it was a professional hit, you have to consider the 
possibility the medals may already be out of the country, ' 
Mr Mark said.

"Prime Minister Helen Clark has called the burglary a 
crime against the nation."

To read the complete article, see:

"A Victoria Cross expert says he believes the stolen 
medals are likely to be held for ransom.

"Michael Maxton is the curator for The Michael Ashcroft 
Trust in England, which cares for a tenth of the 1357 VCs 
awarded since 1856.

"He told Nine to Noon the fact that relatively few medals 
were taken showed the thieves knew exactly what they were 
looking for.

"Mr Maxton says those responsible would have known the 
medals would not be able to be sold, meaning they would 
likely be held for ransom.

"He says a theft of this scale from an historical 
institution is unprecedented.

"Charley Hill, a former detective from Scotland Yard's 
art and antiques unit who recovered The Scream by Edvard 
Munch, says the most realistic way of getting the medals 
back is for the police to offer a reward and wait for 
someone to surface.

"Police have said it is unlikely a reward will be offered.

"The Army says the collection of medals would be valued 
in the millions, but its importance to the country is 

To read the complete article, see:

[Police are going all out to find the thieves - they are 
using some 'high tech' tools as well as slogging through
a thorough process of interviewing people at every home 
in town. -Editor]

"Police are turning to advanced technology in their bid 
to catch the thieves who stole 100 medals, many rare, 
from the Army Museum in Waiouru last Sunday.

"An Auckland-based expert has been at the museum today 
assisting investigators to create a digital map of the 

"Meanwhile, a forensic examination of the scene had been 
completed and scientists had taken a number of items back 
to Wellington for evaluation.

"About 20 military police officers, seconded to the case, 
had an uncomfortable afternoon as they braved heavy rain 
to door-knock Waiouru residents in a bid to interview all 
of the town about their whereabouts on Saturday night.

"Inquiry head Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Bensemann 
said police investigation of the museum's closed circuit 
TV footage was now focusing on footage captured on Saturday 
night and Sunday morning when the raid took place.

"Police were still asking for people who were in or had 
travelled through Waiouru late Saturday night or early 
Sunday morning to contact them by calling the hotline 
number or emailing them."

To read the complete article, see:

Dick Johnson writes: "A newspaper in my hometown carried 
an article on local couple who are tracking the movements 
of dollar bills.  They have entered 30,000 bills by 
denomination, series and serial number. This was done on 
the Where's George web site.  Official title 'United States 
Currency Tracing Project.'
"It seems like a harmless pastime. It doesn't provide much 
numismatic content, but one benefit seems to be it is 
getting people to actually look at the currency that passes 
through their hands. Could any intelligence be gained from 
the mountain of data?
"Some bills are stamped with a 'Where's George' statement 
and his web site address with an appeal to enter the bill's 
serial number and your zip code. When one of these bills 
is registered on the website it is a 'hit.'  These are 
eagerly tracked by the person who first placed it back in 
circulation it after registering it.
"Some guy with the assumed name of Wattsburg Gary has 
entered over 800,000 bills. I checked the activity by 
city and Wattsburg, Pennsylvania ranked high. You can 
assume that was the result of Gary's frantic typing. 
His fingers must be raw!
"In considering the characteristics of future coins I 
proposed embedding a microchip in all high-value coins 
(like the serial numbers on paper money).  Recording 
these numbers will require electronic readers (to be 
located in banks and large retail stores, for example). 
Manually typing will be unnecessary. Sure will save wear 
and tear on Gary's fingers in the future!
"If you have nothing else to do check on:  "


Last week an article on the last of the original 50 states 
quarter series noted "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." 

Dave Lange writes: "At the recent Baltimore coin show, Dawn 
Burbank of Whitman Publishing, LLC showed me the company's 
new folder for the still-pending 2009 "state" quarters. Being 
a collector of all coin folders, albums, etc., I of course 
bought one for my collection. This folder will become all 
the more appealing if the bill fails to pass, though I suspect 
that political considerations will prevail and the bill become 

"Another interesting Whitman product appearing soon will be 
its tributes to the vintage coin boards produced by Whitman's 
predecessor company during the 1930s and early 40s. Reproduction 
11" x 14" coin boards are set to debut this month for Lincoln 
Wheat Cents and Buffalo Nickels. I've know of its plan for some 
time, but Whitman did not announce these products until recently. 
I haven't seen them yet, but they will make an interesting 
addition to my collection and to any future edition of my book 
on coin boards."



Alan Luedeking writes: "Whoever the numismatically unconscious 
collector in Kansas is who solicits 1968 cents, he or she 
would've done better to ask for 1969's-- they'd at least 
have given themselves a sporting chance of turning up a 
doubled 1969-S."



The November issue of the American Numismatic Association's 
Numismatist magazine included a premature death notice for 
Howard Daniel III. We are all happy the announcement was an 
error. Now there is another curious death notice in the 
December issue.
"According to Numismatist, Harry Butt of Virginia Beach 
joined in July 2002. Other persons with that name have been 
known through history. It is also a name that might be 
chosen as a pseudonym. I did a little Internet searching 
and could not find an obituary. With all due respect for 
the deceased, I wonder if any E-Sylum reader ever knew a 
Harry Butt?

[For what it's worth, Virginia Numismatic Association 
President John Koebert did not know of any member by 
that name. -Editor]


This week's featured web site is the Wikipedia coin 
grading page, as suggested by Roger deWardt Lane.  He 
writes: "One of the Internet clubs I subscribe to had 
this link to the Wikipedia coin grading page.  They were 
getting several inquiries from around the world, who did 
not understand why the USA grading scale was from 1-70.  
The British wondered why it is not a 12 scale, the EU 
thought it should be decimal 1-100 and the old-timers 
just described the Good to Uncirculated scale." 

The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization 
promoting numismatic literature. For more information please 
see our web site at

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at this address: 

To join, print the application and return it with your check 
to the address printed on the application. Membership is only 
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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: 
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