The E-Sylum v10#4, January 28, 2007

esylum at esylum at
Sun Jan 28 19:46:23 PST 2007

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 10, Number 4, January 28, 2007:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2007, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are David Kerr-Burke and John Mutch. 
Welcome aboard!  We now have 1,055 subscribers.

This issue opens with two items inspired by Dave Bowers' comments 
about the gaps in American medallic literature.  In another item an 
author donates copies of his numismatic fiction book to U.S. troops 
in Iraq.  Also, Mark Tomasko writes about the new interest in Nazi 
counterfeiting in WWII, including a recent book, new movie and 
front-page Wall Street Journal article.

In commemorative coin news, there is new movement to extend the U.S. 
quarter program to include Washington, D.C. and the U.S. territories, 
a new article profiles the designer of some recent Canadian 
commemorative coins, and the Carson City Coin Press No. 1 comes to 
life to strike some new commemoratives.

Dick Johnson's earlier suggestions concerning the rising cost of 
materials for the U.S. one and five-cent coins get new life with 
the independent endorsement of a Federal Reserve economist.  

Counterfeiting (or it debasing?) is in the news this week with an 
archaeological find in St. Augustine, Florida, and a shower of 
counterfeit banknotes from the sky in South Africa causes quite a 

In numismatic museum news we have reports on Shanghai Bank Museum, 
the coin room of the National Museum in Thailand, Cambridge's 
Fitzwilliam Museum and the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. Finally, to 
learn what dead men do on vacation, read on. Have a great week, 

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Fred Lake writes: "This is a reminder that Lake Books mail-bid sale 
of numismatic literature #87 closes in just 10 days on Tuesday, 
February 6, 2007 at 5:00 PM (EST).
The sale may be viewed on our web site at:
You may place your bids via telephone, email, or fax prior to that 
time. The bidding has been quite spirited to this point and please 
remember that tie bids are won by the earliest bid received.  Good 
luck with your bidding!"


Dick Johnson writes: "Dave Bowers is correct (as usual!) in his 
statements in last week’s E-Sylum on existing books covering U.S. 
medals. The field of American medals offers the greatest opportunity 
for astute numismatists to collect, catalog and publish than any 
other aspect of American numismatics.

"The field of American medals is unlike those of any other country. 
The field and the number of medals is so vast that no one person can 
collect them all, let alone catalog it all. American collectors can 
only "chip away" at this monolith. They typically do this by 
collecting "topics." Each collector carves his or her own niche, 
defining their own turf, their own theme, what they wish to collect. 
Thus the published work on American medals is fragmented.

"Oh, if we could only have a "Medallic Illustrations" as they have 
in Great Britain.

"Here are some underlying reasons for this in the U.S.:

"1) No equipment in America could strike a medal larger than say, 
silver dollar size, other that the U.S. Mint. A desired large medal 
had to be struck at the Mint or be struck in Europe. This forced 
early American medals to be small size.

"2) This changed with one event – the Columbian Exposition of 1892-3. 
It attracted engravers to America and medal companies to be established 
(and larger presses acquired. The first hydraulic press arrived at the 
Mint in this period, and private industry began acquiring coining 
presses which could strike coin-like medals).

"3) The ease of going into business. Most 19th century American 
medallists were one- and two-man shops who with their existing 
equipment struck medals smaller than silver-dollar size (mostly under 
one inch). Thus most 19th "medals" are called "tokens" because of 
this size to further confuse the issue. (Russ Rulau’s catalogs of 
tokens are filled with medals – they bear no denomination or value 
-- many storecards, for example, are medals.)

"4) The rise of the number of medalmakers after 1892 -- and the large 
number of 20th century medal producing firms -- bang out thousands of 
medals a day, perhaps millions every week. These appear in great variety 
in addition to tremendous quantity. The chore of engraving dies, or 
pantographically cutting dies, is the only limitation to this 
activity, otherwise, it seems, we would be up to our knees in medals.

"Thus the great quantity of American medals is impossible to catalog 
in total. It has to be done in small groups. We collect, catalog and 
publish by medal TOPICS. And, of course, there are hundreds of topics 
that have not yet been published. The opportunity exists, moreso, for 
literature on medals to be written than any other aspect of American 

"What say you, medal collectors? Catalog your collection and get 
it published!"


As noted earlier, Ron Abler is working to fill one gap in American 
medallic literature.  He writes: "I am working on a book covering the 
Centennial medals of 1876.  I started with Holland's work in 1876-1878 
and the listings in Coin Collector's Journal during the same period.  
I have pretty much completed my data collection and am now working on 
the descriptions and photos.  I would be delighted to correspond with 
anyone who has questions, suggestions, contributions, offers of help, 
etc.  I may be contacted via email at tritoncollect at"

[Ron also noted that earlier E-Sylum issues discussed the ongoing 
effort to update the Hibler-Kappen book on so-called dollars.  


Len Harsel writes: "Thanks for the info on the emergency money of 
France by Habrekorn.  Do any of the readers know where one can get 
a copy?"



Jim Barry writes: "As a follow up to the recent items on James R. 
Clifford's book, "Double Daggers", he has recently donated two boxes 
of his books to our troops in Iraq.  It is my understanding that, 
from our friend in Iraq, these books have already been distributed.  
Seems like a great way to support our troops."
I checked with Jamie Clifford and he adds "I feel the real credit 
should go to Col. William Myers. He is a member of Jim's coin club 
and he is a surgeon serving in Iraq. We have teamed up and I send 
the books over to him and he distributes them to the soldiers."

Col. Myers writes: "Our unit is the 399th Combat Support Hospital and 
I received 100 books. It was very generous and the soldiers loved the 
book. Reading is one activity that soldiers can do, so any books are 
appreciated. Other things the soldiers can use are telephone calling 
cards, stationary items, (pens, cards, paper). Anything received is 
always appreciated."

[The unit is being moved and no donations can be accepted for a couple 
of weeks, but if any of our readers would like to offer donations, 
please contact me and I'll forward your notes.  -Editor]


Mark Tomasko writes: "There was a front page feature story in the 
Monday, Jan 22, 2007 Wall Street Journal on Adolf Burger, one of the 
primary concentration camp inmates who participated in "Operation 
Bernhard," the Nazi counterfeiting of English pounds during WWII. The 
reason for the article seems to be a combination of the fact that an 
Austrian film on the subject is coming out soon, and that Mr. Burger 
actively gives talks about his experiences in order to rebut the 
Holocaust deniers' claims. It's a fascinating story and when I was down 
at the National Archives doing research a year and a half ago, I believe 
I came across an inventory of the material seized by our troops."

[The article included an illustration of a counterfeit £5 note made 
by inmates of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and an interview 
with one of the surviving forgers.  There is new attention being paid 
to the topic because of a recent book and the new film called "The 
Forger," to be released in Germany and Austria in March.  -Editor]

"Adolf Burger, a sprightly 89-year-old survivor of Nazi concentration 
camps, held up one of the British £5 notes he helped forge for the 
Germans during the war.

"'Britannia was hard' to render, he said, pointing to the female symbol 
of Great Britain, a toga-wearing woman with spear and shield drawn in 
the note's top left-hand corner.

"Mr. Burger was a reluctant player in one of the biggest attempts at 
financial sabotage in history. The Nazis forced Mr. Burger and about 
140 other Jewish prisoners -- all marked for liquidation -- to forge so 
much British currency that by 1945, 12% of all pound-sterling bills in 
existence, measured by face value, were fake."

"If Germany had been able to drop the fake fortune on Britain as planned, 
it could have undermined trust in the currency and crippled the British 
economy, according to "Krueger's Men," by American author Lawrence 
Malkin, the first comprehensive account of the saga.

"Capt. Krüger and his team of SS guards spared their Jewish prisoners 
the degradations they had known previously in Nazi camps, according to 
Mr. Malkin's account. The inmates had decent food, civilian clothes, 
cigarettes, books and board games. They even received parcels from 
outside. They were allowed to grow their hair and listen to the radio. 
They worked eight-hour days. They had Sundays off. Mr. Burger played 
ping-pong with the SS.

"The inmates were to be killed when the project ended, and they knew 
it. Those who fell ill weren't taken to see a doctor, to whom they 
might reveal something; they were shot. Inmates' only hope was to 
keep counterfeiting successfully until the war was over.

"We were dead men on vacation," says Mr. Burger."

To read the complete article (subscription required): 

[The article called "Krueger's Men: The Secret Nazi Counterfeit Plot 
and the Prisoners of Block 19" by Lawrence Malkin (2006) "the first 
comprehensive account of the saga", but that isn't true.  My shelves 
hold the following earlier titles: "Operation Bernhard: The Greatest 
Forgery of All Time" by Anthony Pirie (1961) and "Nazi Counterfeiting 
of British Currency during World War II: Operation Andrews and 
Operation Bernhard" by Bryan Burke (1987).  I've ordered a copy of 
the Malkin book.  -Editor]


Leon Worden writes: "I appreciated the discussion in the January 21 
E-Sylum about the spelling of the word "gaol" (an old English jail). 
I recently picked up a couple of Conder tokens where the word was 
spelled G-O-A-L. A quick check on the Internet suggested that the 
word was often spelled that way. Does anyone know why the misspelling, 
if it is a misspelling, was apparently so common?

How was it supposed to be pronounced? Where did the word come from, 
anyway?  And where did it go? I thought our word "jail" came from the 
Old French "jaiole." Also, my Conder tokens seem to refer to a debtors' 
prison. Was a "gaol" any type of prison, or just a debtors' prison? Is 
the word still in use anywhere today?

Also, I appreciated Bob Evans' thoughtful reply to my question about 
the S.S. Central America. The E-Sylum is quite a place!"

Eric Leighton writes: "As it turns out, the spelling of "jail" a few 
generations ago was EITHER "Gaol" or "Goal".  I found several web sites 
to support that comment, some of which are from Ireland, England, Canada, 
and the USA.  One of the latter includes in part: 'The Walnut Street 
Jail (Goal) was built 1773-76 from designs of Robert Smith and demolished 
about 1835. The prison's lot was bounded by Walnut Street, Sixth and 
Prune Street (now Locust) with the main building fronting on Walnut 
Street. William Penn, who did not favor capital punishment, established 
the most humane penal code in the colonies. Only murder and treason 
were punishable by death...' (See website at  

All I did to check this was to type "Goal (Jail)" into Google.  I am 
glad your reader provided me with the impetus to find out this 
interesting tidbit."


Have more states been added to the union?  Not exactly.  But the U.S. 
House of Representatives has passed a bill that would extend the "50 
States" commemorative quarter program to include Washington, D.C. and 
the U.S. territories.  If I recall my civics lessons properly, the bill 
must be passed by the Senate and signed by the President to become law. 
It has been approved four times previously by the House but has been 
blocked in the Senate. With now Democrats in control, the bill may have 
a greater chance to become law.

"The bill passed Tuesday. It would allow the district and American 
Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Northern Mariana 
Islands each to put a design on the reverse side of the quarter. 

"D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton believes inclusion in the program 
demonstrates that citizens of the nation's capital and territories have 
the same rights as other Americans." 

To read the complete story, see: 


A Wednesday, January 24th article in the Sherwood Park news of Alberta, 
Canada profiles local artist Kerri Burnett, who has been called upon by 
the Royal Canadian Mint to design a number of wildlife-themed 
commemorative coins.

"The mint was looking for a rendition of the trumpeter swan for its 
2007 specimen coin set. While Burnett wasn’t the only artist asked to 
submit a design, hers was selected by a committee at the mint in Ottawa. 
The specimen set, which features the swan created by Burnett on its 
dollar-piece, was released earlier this month. She said it was exciting 
to see that her work would be permanently immortalized on a coin.

'Your artwork, your design is going to be pretty much there forever,' 
she said. It’s not the first time one of Burnett’s designs has been 
selected by the national mint either.

The local painter has previously seen her creations selected both times 
the mint asked her to submit a design. Burnett was featured in the 1997 
grey wolf and 2004 grizzly bear platinum proof coin sets.

There are only a few artists in Canada the mint has worked with that 
have mastered the art of designing coins, said Jennifer Holmes, product 
manager of numismatics (the study of collecting coins) at the mint.

'It’s definitely not run of the mill, or dime a dozen, that Kerri has 
done three,' Holmes added in a telephone interview from her Ottawa 
office.  The Sherwood Park artist has mastered the complexity needed 
for coin design, Holmes stated."

To read the complete article, see:


Stephen G. Searle, Jeff Reichenberger and others forwarded the 
following Reuters article about melt value of U.S. coins and the 
recent U.S. Mint prohibitions on melting.  An economist from the 
Federal Reserve proposes revaluing all cent coins to a higher 

"Francois Velde, senior economist at the Chicago Fed, argued in a 
recent research note that prohibitions by the Mint would unlikely 
deter serious speculators who already have piled up the coinage.

The best solution, Velde said, would be to "rebase" the penny by 
making it worth five cents rather than one cent. Doing so would 
increase the amount of five-cent coins in circulation and do away 
with the almost worthless one cent coin.

"History shows that when coins are worth melting, they disappear," 
Velde wrote.

  To read the complete Reuters article, see:  

  To read the original Velde February Chicago Fed Letter, see:

[Is there an echo in here?? You read it here first in The E-Sylum 
(September 25, 2006), when Dick Johnson suggested rebasing as a 
solution to the melting problem.  See the link below to read his 
original article.  -Editor]


Jeff Reichenberger adds: "He theorizes the Treasury standing ready 
to exchange a dollar for every twenty pennies turned in. Can you 
imagine the lines! All of our hoards turned in all at once! What 
about that guy in Minneapolis with the giant penny mural? Hope he 
didn't use epoxy."

[Not quite. The idea of revaluing the cent is to KEEP them in 
circulation.  Sure, a lot of people might "cash in" their hoards, 
but there would be no pressing need to.  With the Treasury willing 
to accept them at the new value, banks and merchants would also accept 
them at the new rate.  By fiat, everyone's old pennies would become 
worth five cents apiece in commerce anywhere - no need to convert 
them into anything else.  -Editor]


Dick Johnson writes: "My proposal to revalue the cent was published 
in this newsletter September 25th of last year. On Monday this week 
Reuters carried a news article on the same subject. The Chicago 
Federal Reserve Bank’s senior economist, Francois R. Velde, has come 
to the same conclusion!

"The news article was based on the "Chicago Fed Letter" for February 
2007 that was written by Mr. Velde. Its title: "What’s a Penny (or 
Nickel) Really Worth?" This monthly letter is published by the Research 
Department of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank, of which Mr. Velde is 
a research member.

"Economist Velde has written on the subject before. He wrote a similar 
Chicago Fed Letter for October 2006 on "Solving the Problem of Small 
Change." He is also the author, with Thomas J. Sargent, of "The Evolution 
of Small Change," published December 1997 (see recommended website below). 
But even more impressive is the Princeton University Press book, "The 
Big Problem of Small Change" published in 2002, also co-authored with 
Thomas Sargent.

"With this extensive research -- much of it in numismatic literature! -- 
the authors have studied monetary systems of the past. But their clear 
thinking has brought Velde to the same solution I offered for the rising 
costs of minting cents – revalue existing cent coins, abolish striking 
more, and round off cash transactions. He used a delightful term for 
this, "rebasing" he calls it. 

"I contacted Mr. Velde this week. One of my early questions was how 
does 'rebase' differ from 'revalue?' 'It doesn’t,' he said. I asked 
how would you answer critics who say that those who have large quantities 
of cent coins would receive an unearned profit?

"His answer is important (note well if you own bags of cents!): 'Call 
them capital gains. Right now, we (as taxpayers) are all making a loss 
on the pennies and nickels that the mint produces. Capital gains for 
some seems better than losses for everyone.'

"There is a difference between my plan and what Velde purposes. He wants 
to rebase cents alone (although he stated the thought of rebasing nickels 
had occurred to him). My plan is to revalue both cents and nickels at 
once – all at one time – in a master plan of reconfiguring all U.S. coins. 

"Velde concurred somewhat.  He said: 'It looks like the nickel is on its 
way out as well.' But, he adds, his views are his own and do not reflect 
the opinions of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank or the Federal Reserve 
Banking System.

"The average U.S. household has on hand about $30 worth of change, cents 
and nickels. My revaluation plan would result in this automatically worth 
$300. This despite, as Velde points out, "since 1982, the Mint has 
produced 910 pennies for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. It 
estimates that 100 billion pennies currently circulate." Those 100 
billion cents would suddenly be valued at $10 billion. Interestingly, 
it would be spread out over every citizen, bank and retail outlet in 

   To read my original proposal:

   To read the Reuters news article: 

   To read the February Chicago Fed Letter:


Dick Johnson writes: "Here is the full text of a "working paper" titled 
"The Evolution of Small Change," by Thomas J. Sargent and François R. 
Velde, published December 1997. The authors studied monetary systems 
in Western Europe from 14th to 19th centuries, noting coin shortages. 
Interestingly, minting techniques had an influence on these, in addition 
to monetary policy. This work is in the news recently because of the 
authors' statements on revaluating the U.S. cent (see item above).
"Note well the bibliography.  Of the total of 111 references listed, 
more than 25% of which are numismatic books! Francois Velde comments 
that as a professional economist, "One of the nice things about economics 
is that I am able to explore my interests in, say ... numismatics."
"After their 1997 work the authors went on to write the book "The Big 
Problem of Small Change" published by Princeton University Press in 
2002 on the same subject." "


I thought Dick Johnson's more recent proposals would bring more of a 
response from readers.  Regarding the one about placing microchips in 
coins, Steve D'Ippolito writes: "I don't like this proposal for a number 
of reasons:  First off, it wouldn't work unless you want to make it 
illegal to use the coin without passing it through a reader--and not 
all transactions take place in storefronts!  

"Second off, it would be over the top to expect people to go through 
this rigamarole just to be able to establish how many transactions a 
coin has been through.

"Third, the grading services would still be primarily looking at the 
coin.  If I get a $10 piece from the bank and keep it in my pocket for 
ten years, the coin will be in pretty sad shape even if the chip says 
it's been through one transaction (bank->me).

"This all assumes that we can come up with a chip that won't be 
pulverized by the pressures in the coin press.  But my big objection is:
"It is a huge violation of privacy.  I do NOT give a flying rip whether 
some collector will somehow think a coin is more valuable if he knows 
where it has been.  It is fundamentally no one's business what I spend 
my money on."


Len Augsburger writes: "Forget about putting microchips in coins - 
what we need to do is put them in books.  Then there might be actually 
a slight chance that I could inventory my library, a la 'shelfari'.

[New books have ISBN numbers, and with this systems like Shelfari and 
LibraryThing look up the rest.  Other modern methods of identifying 
books include bar codes and RFID tags.  But older books have none of 
these.  For these, what would be really useful is electronic access to 
the seller's catalogue description.  

If I were to buy say, three great numismatic books from a George Kolbe 
sale, two from Spink and several others from ABEbooks, it would be great 
if the catalog descriptions came along with the books and could be easily 
added to my personal electronic catalog of my library.  Since ABEbook 
bought LibraryThing, maybe something like this is available or in the 
works there. -Editor]


In the January 7, 2007 E-Sylum, subscriber R.V. Dewey asked about the  
"very rare" eight-piece sets of 1855 pattern flying eagle cents, numbered 
I to VIII in Roman numerals. These were referenced in the Judd pattern 
book (5th edition, page 44), but not in the eighth edition of Judd 
(Whitman, 2003).  It was R.V.'s other question about William Woodin's 
windfall of pattern coins from the U.S. Mint that brought some 
responses.  But we're still hoping to learn if anyone knows anything 
about these 1855 pattern cents.  Why aren't they mentioned in Pollack 
or the newer Whitman edition?  Was the note in the earlier Judd 
editions incorrect?  Do these sets exist?



The Maine Antique Digest published a super article (written by Samuel 
Pennington and Lita Solis-Cohen)on the Stack's sale of the John J. Ford, 
Jr. Collection of Indian Peace Medals.  Here are some excerpts:

"Peace medals were issued to Indian chieftains and warriors by the 
U.S. beginning in the late 1780's as the government sought peace with 
the Indians. (Curiously, Stack's tried to dodge the controversy about 
what to call the recipients—Indians or Native Americans—by subtitling 
the catalog "Medallic Distinctions Awarded to First Peoples.") The 
first peace medals were large oval silver plaques engraved by the 
leading silversmiths of the day. The French, Spanish, and English had 
long been issuing peace medals. The Indians wore them proudly as shown 
in the portraits painted by Charles Bird King and reproduced as prints 
in the volumes by McKenney and Hall. 

"Who was buying? To the surprise of many regular dealers and collectors, 
one major buyer was a dealer few of them knew— Philadelphia print dealer 
W. Graham Arader III. 

Arader was quite enthusiastic and outspoken as he explained why to M.A.D. 
senior editor Lita Solis-Cohen. "Anyone who collects McKenney and Hall 
prints of Indians wants them," said Arader. "They are a piece of history. 
We gave the Indians smallpox, syphilis, gunpowder, Christianity, and 
alcohol and gave them peace medals, then moved them off their land and 
broke six hundred promises. It is a sad story that took place between 
the time of Jackson and Grant. Jackson began it, and Grant ended it, 
sending his two Civil War generals to massacre the Native Americans." 

Arader continued, "The specialist coin dealers don't see the difference 
between artifacts and coins. As artifacts the prices were low. I bought 
a lot at the Stack auction. There are a lot of fakes out there, but I 
felt confident buying these. Stack's is so honest, and the Ford collection 
was a special one. I sold everything I bought, and the next day I bought 
twice as much from a guy who beat me out on a few lots. I think these 
medals are undervalued. I had been looking for them for thirty years. 
Collectors keep them in drawers. I will frame them, and they will hang 
on the wall next to McKenney and Halls and Catlins [prints]." 

[We discussed the McKenney-Hall prints in earlier E-Sylum issues.  If 
serious collectors of the medals desired the prints, it's easy to see 
how collectors of the prints would take an interest in the medals.  
Here are links to some of our earlier articles. -Editor]




[The article also included a great tabular summary of the sale results 
by President.  "The votes are in, and the winner is Thomas Jefferson! 
Chester Arthur ran a surprisingly close second."  -Editor]

To read the complete article, see:  


[You can find great numismatic information in the darndest of places.  
An article published this week on commemorative coins being struck 
for the centennial of Yerington, NV includes a great capsule history 
of the Carson City Mint's Coin Press No. 1, which is being used to strike 
the coins with a "cc" mintmark.  Ya gotta love a newspaper with a 
slogan like this: "Mason Valley News: The Only Newspaper in the World 
that Gives a Damn about Yerington."  Apparently however, the newspaper 
doesn’t give a damn about plagiarism, either - a web search revealed that 
the entire history of the coining press had been lifted word-for-word 
without credit from the web site of the Nevada State Museum.  -Editor]

"Manufactured by Morgan and Orr in Philadelphia, who created many of 
the steam-powered coining presses then in use throughout the world, the 
first six-ton press arrived at the Carson Mint in 1869. As was the custom 
of the day, it was painted with a large "1" to signify the first press 
located in the coiner's department.

"When the press suffered a cracked arch in 1878, it was repaired at the 
local shop of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad. Proud of their handiwork, 
V&T machinists replaced the original brass Morgan & Orr plate with one 
bearing the name of their famous railroad.

The Carson City Mint ceased coining operations in 1893 and the presses 
were removed in 1899, along with all other machinery in the coiner's 
department. Press No. 1 was moved to the Philadelphia Mint, where it 
was remodeled in 1930 to operate with electric power. In 1945, it was 
transferred to the "new" San Francisco Mint and renumbered "5" to 
correspond with its place in the coining department there. Finally, 
when all coin production was temporarily halted at San Francisco in 
1955, the old press was due to be scrapped."

[The subsequent history of the coin press is equally interesting.  It 
was called back into service at the Denver Mint in 1964 to help address 
the coin shortage, and returned to the Carson City museum in 1967.  The 
press has been used on a limited basis ever since and may be one of the 
last operating presses of that time period. -Editor]

To read the complete article, see:

To read the Nevada State Museum web page on Coin Press No. 1, see: 


"At an archaeological dig in St. Augustine on Marine Street, a 
Victorian house has been lifted, an 1800s hearth has been found, 
and an insight into colonial Spanish finances has been unearthed.

"Amidst all the artifacts found on the home site within the past month, 
there was a gunky item that archaeological assistant John Powell 
initially thought was an old dog tag.

"'Basically it's a two real silver coin that's been made to look silver. 
It was copper in the center. It's only about the same value as a penny,' 
Powell said. But he added that it was made to look like the equivalent 
of a quarter in that day.

"This one-of-a-kind discovery means while the colonists were sending 
solid gold and silver coins to Spain, "the Spanish were sending - I 
hate to say this - junk back here," Powell said.

"'I've seen counterfeit coinage. This is not counterfeit. This is mint-
issued, deliberate funny money, manufactured by Spain for their colonists.'

To read the complete article, see:

[Does this ring true, readers?  If the debased coin is a "one-of-a-kind 
discovery" as the article says, could it have really be manufactured by 
one of Spain's mints?  Wouldn't there be far more of them around today?  
It sounds to me more likely to be a contemporary counterfeit.  -Editor]


An article on pictures six of the eight people arrested 
for trying to exchange $800,600 in counterfeit money.  It's a diverse 
group, including Africans, Europeans, Asians and Arabs.

"The Dubai Police Department of Combating Economic Crimes received a 
tip-off about an Asian man who possessed counterfeit money of $100 in 
addition to Indian rupees and was looking for a buyer to exchange 
the counterfeit money with original money. 

"Investigations revealed there were two men, a Gulf national and an 
Arab, who had obtained counterfeit currency from the Asian man. The 
Asian had also asked two other Asians to look for buyers of 
counterfeit money."

"Investigations also revealed that two African men possessed $300,000 
in counterfeit cash for sale for Dh600,000."

To read the complete article, see: 


According to a report published January 24, a large cache of 
counterfeit banknotes blowing in the wind stopped traffic and caused 
quite a ruckus for nearly an hour near Johannesburg, South Africa.  
The source of the fake rands was not discovered.

"Motorists in rush-hour traffic on the N3 near Germiston on Wednesday 
could hardly believe their eyes when a shower of "R100 notes" rained 
from the sky. 

"'People thought it was real money. They jumped out of their cars 
and stuffed their pockets as quickly as possible,' said Billy Rendall 
of Bedfordview. 

"Rendall was on his way to work about 08:00 when he nearly crashed 
into a lorry in front of him. 

"The lorry driver stopped in the middle of the highway, jumped out, 
and went hunting for money. 

"Other people drove slowly in their bakkies and tried to grab as many 
R100 notes as possible."

To read the complete article, see:,9294,2-7-1442_2059368,


On January 22 Bloomberg news followed up its earlier report on the 
auction of a rare Hong Kong banknote:

"An 1858 Hong Kong banknote with a face value of $25 sold for 
HK$782,000 ($100,145) at a Hong Kong sale of Chinese paper currency, 
said auctioneer Spink. 

"The final price, including 15 percent buyer's commission, compares 
with Spink's pre-sale estimate of between HK$650,000 and HK$750,000. 
The unissued black-and-white banknote by Chartered Mercantile Bank of 
India, London & China is one of about 600 items that fetched more than 
HK$8 million combined, the London-based auction house said in a 
statement. Chartered Mercantile changed its name to Mercantile Bank 
in 1892 and was bought by HSBC Group in 1959. 

"'The prices were surprisingly high,' said Otto Lam, a 13- year 
banknote collector who wrote a doctoral thesis on Western banking 
in 19th-century China and bid in absentia. 'Many people have spare 
cash because of the strong stock-market performance.'"

To read the complete article, see:


Mark Tomasko writes: "I noticed in last week's piece on the rare 1858 
Hong Kong bank note that mention was made of the sale in 2003 of 
American Banknote (sic) Company Chinese bank note specimen albums. 
Readers may be interested to know that those albums (sold in the 1990 
archive sales at Christie's) were purchased in 2003 by the Industrial 
and Commercial Bank of China (Shanghai Branch)'s Shanghai Bank Museum, 
which, remarkably, published them, every page, in full color, in three 
volumes entitled "Chinese Specimens Printed by the American Bank Note 
Company," 2004, published by the Old China Hand Press (Hong Kong). 

"The Shanghai Bank Museum is high up in the Industrial and Commercial 
ank's tower in the Pudong area of Shanghai. (I don't think it's open 
to the public, but many school groups and other groups visit it). It 
is a very good museum with a wide range of bank notes and all kinds 
of banking memorabilia and photos. 

"When my wife and I visited the Museum in 2004 (we had previously met 
the curator at the ICOMON conference in 2002), it was amusing to see 
one of the albums, which I had looked at fourteen years earlier at 
Christie's. The published set of books pictures everything in the 
albums, but there is little information given beyond the quantities 
printed and a one paragraph summary of each bank. 

"The Chinese scenes appearing on the American Bank Note currency from 
1909-1949 is one of the more interesting series of etchings done at
American, and I will write them up some day. The men who did this 
beautiful work have never gotten credit for it, but they will."


Howard A. Daniel III writes: "I received the following from an old 
friend and numismatist in Bangkok by the name of Ronachai Krisadaolarn.  
CURATORS, is sure needed by the National Museum in Thailand, but it is 
too late for many of the items in their collection.  But, as he 
indicates, the most interesting find is that there are Bank of 
Indochina notes denominated in Ticals with serial number 001!"

Ronachai Krisadaolarn writes: "Today I visited the National Museum. 
The Coin Room is now open, redecorated and air conditioned. Most of 
the silver coins including the Pot Duang have been polished and many 
look whizzed (metal brushed).  Many Dvaravati coins now have a mirror 
finish. The Krung Thep silver Fuang and the Mongkut Pra Tao transitional 
coins are also polished.

"The Two-Baht gold bullets that were in the Gold Room are now in the 
Coin Room. All are Rama V. All the One Baht Gold Pot Duang look like 
Rama V. Many are so displayed that they cannot be easily been seen.

"Strangely there is a Siam Commercial Bank ATM machine in the coin 
room, a working model, not as a museum piece. The one happy surprise 
are the Banque de l'Indo Chine banknotes. Previously there are only 
photocopies. Now there are three notes, 80, 20 and 5 Ticaux. All look 
used. Only the reverse of the 80 is shown so I could not tell if it 
was a specimen.

"The 50 and 5 Ticals (Ticaux in French) were circulation notes. Both 
have the Serial Number 001 and the Prefix A1. This is a major find as 
these are the first Banque de l'Indo Chine notes known with a real 
serial number. All others are known only as specimens with 000 as the 
serial number."


Howard Berlin writes: "I just returned from my trip to London, Oxford
and Cambridge just ahead of the snow that hit there. During my visit 
to Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum, Dr. Mark Blackburn, the current 
Keeper of the Coins who was serving as my host, introduced me to one 
of E-Sylum's subscribers - Yank and ex-pat Prof. Ted Buttrey, a former 
classics professor at Yale and later Ann Arbor, then three years as 
Keeper of Coins at the Fitzwilliam.

"Ted was busy unpacking some recent acquisition of journals for the 
Museum's library holdings and things were a bit dangerous to walk 
about -- sort a bit like my own home office.

"As for Oxford, the Ashmolean Museum is now undergoing renovation and 
much of the museum's exhibits are packed away until its planned 
reopening in 2009. Highlights of their collection, such as the Oxford 
Crown, coins from the Cronddal hoard, and the gold 1964 Chemistry Nobel 
prize medal of Dorothy Hodgkin of Oxford are on display at The Sakler 

"The following trips are scheduled (most having visits to museums 
with numismatic exhibits):

February: Istanbul & Athens
March: Dublin (so far just vacation)
May: Dusseldor, Cologne, Frankfurt
November: Venice, Parma, Milan, Monte Carlo, London."


Last week Alan Weinberg theorized that one reason for the spate of 
robberies of dealers leaving the FUN show is the show's location at 
the North Concourse.  Another subscriber writes: "Although the FUN 
show is probably now the largest event of its kind in the world, the 
Orange County Convention Center treats FUN in a very condescending 
manner.  The OCCC has two buildings with 1.1 million square feet each.  
The newer building where the FUN show is held has four main exhibition 
halls, each having 275,000 square feet.  FUN only uses about 180,000-
200,000 square feet.  Because FUN can't even fill one of these halls, 
the OCCC people have adopted a 'take it or leave it' attitude with FUN.  

"The Northeast hall is the hardest to rent because it is the furthest 
from the hotels and other amenities.  The OCCC is mainly interested in 
attracting huge conventions that require 500,000 to 2.2 million square 
feet.  I believe the OCCC is one of only three places in the country 
that can host shows requiring 2 million square feet.  The others are 
McCormack Place in Chicago and Las Vegas."


Mark Tomasko writes: "A curious article published this week in the 
Sunday, January 21, 2007, New York Times, Styles section is 'With 
Jefferson on His Side', which helps perpetuate the "lucky" nature of 
two dollar bills. The article relates the story of Cameron Sinclair, 
a British-born architect living in Manhattan, who received a two dollar 
bill in change - he had never gotten one before - and kept it as a good 
luck charm because "Jefferson was the only president who was an 

"I have some new two dollar bills and occasionally use them to make 
purchases, and the reactions I get range from dismay to amusement to 
great enthusiasm. But this is the first time I've heard someone use 
the architecture connection to relate to two dollar bills!"

To read the complete article, see:


This week's featured web site is suggested by Dave Lange.  He writes: 
"I stumbled across an interesting German website that features numerous 
images of Civil War era notes." 

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 
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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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