The E-Sylum v10#27, July 8, 2007

esylum at esylum at
Sun Jul 8 15:03:57 PDT 2007

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 10, Number 27, July 8, 2007:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2007, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Among our recent subscribers are Brett D. Irick, courtesy of 
John Nebel, Rickie Rose, Dan Burleson, David Kahn, John P Andrew, 
Anthony Portner and Julian Brook.  Welcome aboard!  We now have
1,150 subscribers.

This week we open with news on the disposition of John J. Pittman's 
numismatic library.  Dick Johnson reviews the recent History 
Detectives segment on Continental currency and contributes a number 
of items related to the Lincoln Cent, including an extraordinary photo 
in Popular Science magazine.

Bill Snyder presents a mystery box for storing U.S. half dollars, 
and Alan Weinberg reviews the recent Presidential Coin & Antique Co. 
medals auction in Baltimore.

In response to earlier queries, David Gladfelter provides background 
on Wayte Raymond's Standard Catalogs, and we learn about the origin 
of the POW/MIA stamp on U.S. paper money.  In a new research query, 
Roger Burdette seeks information on William Ashbrook of the 1908 
Assay Commission.

My London Diary this week includes a visit to the London Numismatic 
Club, dinner with Coin World London correspondent John Andrews, and 
visits to the Savoy Hotel and le Tour de France.

Next weekend I'm traveling back to the U.S. to visit my family.  
Please send any submissions early in the week to ensure they make 
it into the next issue.

To learn how to explode a post-1982 Lincoln cent, and where to find 
Euro notes falling from the sky, read on.  Have a great week, 

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


George Kolbe writes: "We are pleased to announce that important 
works from the Numismatic Library of the late John Jay Pittman will 
form a part of our fall 2007 auction sale. Many rare American 
numismatic works will be featured in the sale, among them a dozen 
plated Chapman brother catalogues, other 19th and early 20th century 
auction catalogues featuring photographic plates, classic works on 
American coins, and extremely rare ephemeral publications. 

"Also featured in the sale, from various other consignors, are rare 
and important works covering the numismatic spectrum, including an 
example of the first illustrated numismatic book, published in 1517. 
Catalogues may be ordered by sending $15.00 to George Frederick Kolbe, 
P. O. Drawer 3100, Crestline, CA 92325. The catalogue will also be 
accessible at our web site:"


In our June 17th issue we reported that David Lange's book 'Coin 
Collecting Boards of the 1930s & 1940s: A Complete History, Catalog 
and Value Guide.' had been completed.  This week Dave writes: "I've 
found a printer, and the book is a go.  The price is $39.95 plus $5 
for shipping, and I'm now taking orders for delivery in mid-August.

"Interested persons can view sample pages at my website. They will 
also find complete ordering information there."

To visit Dave Lange's Coin Collecting Boards web site, see: 


For more information, see the publisher's web site at: 


Yesterday (Saturday 7 July 2007) was the Summer Meeting of the British 
and Royal Numismatic Societies, held in Chichester and titled "Currencies 
in Crisis".  I wasn't aware of the conference in time for later week's 
newsletter, but it's worth noting.  Perhaps one of our readers can give 
us a report next week.   The following description is from the British 
Numismatic Society web site:

"This year’s will be a day of lectures examining the origins and impact 
of crises that have affected British and world currencies. From major 
debasements to abortive reforms, from the aftermath of wars to the decline 
of empires, currencies have suffered and failed and been rejuvenated. 
The changing fortunes of monetary systems have themselves also visited 
periods of economic and social disruption on the countries and regions 
within which they operated.

"The lectures will span numismatics from the Roman world to the 
twentieth century. The speakers are Paul Cavill of Merton College 
Oxford (16th-century debasement), Kevin Clancy (17th and 18th centuries) 
and Graham Dyer (20th-century currency) of The Royal Mint; Professor 
Edmund King of the University of Sheffield (English coinage 1138-1153), 
Barbara Mears of Spink (early colonial Indian coinage), and Sam Moorhead (Roman currency) and Helen Wang (Tang dynasty coinage) of The British 

For more information on Chichester 2007, see: 


One event we're not late in reporting is next week's Summer FUN show. 
Cindy Wibker of Florida United Numismatists writes: "This is just a quick 
reminder to all bibliophiles that the first-ever Summer FUN show is next 
week, July 12-14, in West Palm Beach, Florida.  We (FUN) hope to see many 
of you there!  The list of dealers and schedule of events is on our website.

"There are four educational seminars, two on Thursday and two on Friday.  
None of the topics are directly literature-related, but there is a club 
meeting of the Sunken Treasure Literature Club on Friday from 3:00-5:00 PM."

[Here are a couple of the seminars that might be of interest to E-Sylum readers. -Editor]

Thursday July 12 2:30 PM: Educational Seminar.  “EARLY AMERICAN COPPERS,” 
by CHUCK HECK. Charles “Chuck” Heck is a recognized expert on the early 
copper coinage of the United States. He is a frequent lecturer on this 
subject at club meetings and coin shows across America. Chuck’s program 
will provide in-depth analysis of early U.S. Large Cents, Half Cents 
and Colonial coinage.

Friday July 13 2:30 PM: Educational Seminar.  “COINS OF THE SOUTHERN 
CONFEDERACY,” by ROBERT LeNEVE.  Palm Beach Coin Club member Bob LeNeve 
is a serious student of the Southern Confederacy – its history, traditions 
and its coinage.  In this program, Bob will give a short background on 
the events leading up to the Civil War, the shutting down of the southern 
mints and a detailed look at the regular coinage and restrikes of the 

To visit the FUN web site, see: 

To view the Summer FUN show schedule, see: 

[A web search reveals that there is an online bibliography of over 950 
"Sunken Treasure & Underwater Archaeology Books plus Shipwreck Auction 
Catalogs, National Geographic Shipwreck Articles & Shipwreck Coin 
Books" from the collection of Dave Crooks.  -Editor]

To view Dave Crooks' Sunken Treasure Bibliography, see: 

Dick Johnson writes: "I caught the TV show History Detectives 
segment on the Continental currency this week. It was pretty much 
what I expected. It did feature interviews with two numismatic 
personalities, Glenn Jorde, chief authenticator of the Paper Money 
Guaranty authentication service and Bob Hoge, curator at American 
Numismatic Society.
"E-Syluminiaries will recognize the scene in the ANS library with 
their mobile bookcases. (I have mentioned these in E-Sylum before, 
and have nightmares of being crushed by these someday). Most all 
the statements were accurate, save for one segment at the end, kind 
of a summary of coin collecting. They had to tell the story of the 
bare breast design of Harmon McNeil's 1916 type I quarter, but their 
misstatement was that all these were 'recalled.' They weren't, of 
"It was followed by a segment on short-snorters, also of interest 
to currency collectors.  If you missed the show here is a transcription 
of the audio portion (with Bob Hoge's name misspelled): 

[Actually, I think that link is broken.  Here's a link to the page 
for the episode. -Editor]



Regarding Ron Pope's question last week on the Wayte Raymond Standard 
Catalogs, David Gladfelter writes: "See entry #867 in Charles Davis's 
'American Numismatic Literature' for information on this series of 

"The 1935 edition (published in 1934) was the first, and it continued 
annually through the 1945 edition (published in 1944) except for 1943 
when only a 16-page supplement was published. The 1946 edition was 
the first numbered one, the 11th, and thereafter this catalog was 
published irregularly through the final 18th edition of 1957, of 
which Olga E. Raymond, Wayte's widow, was the editor. In that edition 
only, the substantial contributions of John J. Ford, Jr., and Walter 
H. Breen were recognized, although the 1938 edition and all subsequent 
to it did list names of the contributors.
"The contents of the catalogs, as well as the titles, varied somewhat 
from year to year. The 1940, 1941 and 1942 editions had extensive 
merchant token supplements and for that reason are desired by token 
collectors. Others included listings of colonial, obsolete and 
confederate paper money.
"None of the editions are particularly rare, but a precursor, titled 
'United States Coins & Currency' and consisting of five separate WR 
publications bound together, is quite scarce. This precursor was 
advertised for sale at $2.50 on the inside front cover of the first 
five issues of Raymond's 'Coin Collectors Journal' in 1934. The 
separate publications included are 'The United States Copper Coins' 
(1931), 'Silver Coins of the United States Mints' (1933), 'United 
States Gold Coins of the Philadelphia and Branch Mints' (1933), 
'Private Gold Coins Struck in the United States, 1830-1861' (1931) 
and 'United States Notes, 1861-1923' (1933). 

"As you can see, Raymond's topical catalogs as well as the 'Standard 
Catalog' had quite an influence on the development of the coin hobby 
in the U.S. in the early to mid 20th century. Raymond also influenced 
the collecting of world coins, publishing five editions of 'Coins of 
the World -- Twentieth Century Issues' through 1955 and two of 'Coins 
of the World -- Nineteenth Century Issues' through 1953, in a similar 
"For the specialist, interleaved copies of these catalogs, as well as 
fancy bindings can be had. Plain brown paper dust jackets were provided 
for the early issues, and illustrated ones for the last few.
"Now for a trivia question:  What rather prominent mistake can be found 
in each and every edition of the 'Standard Catalog of United States 
Coins' from the first through the 18th?"

[I was stumped on this one.  Can some eagle-eyed reader give us an 
answer?  -Editor]



Bill Snyder writes: "I am wondering about this small, dove-tailed 
wooden box. It is marked '$250$ HALVES' on all four sides and on 
the sliding lid.  Here are links to three images of the box: 

The Dimensions are: interior - 6 1/4  x  6 1/4  x  1 7/8", exterior - 
6 7/8  x  6 7/8  x  2 9/16".    You can lay a five-by-five pattern of 
fifty cent pieces in the bottom of the box and have about 1/4" left 
over each way. The box easily accommodates stacks of twenty coins.  
So, who made it, when, and for whom?"

Bill adds: "Per my Red Book, all U.S. Half Dollars (Seated Liberty 
to Kennedy) have the same diameter specification (30.6 mm).  
Unfortunately, the lid on this particular box in so warped that it 
will not slide completely into place."


In an earlier E-Sylum I recalled reading of some British efforts 
to counterfeit notes of the revolting colonies and wondered if the 
Brits were more successful than the Nazis in wartime counterfeiting.

Bob Neale writes: "You may be in the perfect place to look up an article 
by Eric Newman in Brit. Numis. J. 29 (1959) pp 174-87: "The successful 
British counterfeiting of American paper money during the American 
revolution." I cannot access this for free. I don't know that the 
article specifically addresses the amount of counterfeiting that took 
place on a ship in New York harbor, but I'll bet it is interesting.
"Jason Goodwin also has a relevant quote in his book, Greenback, on 
p 134, and Richard Doty seems to agree in his book 'America's Money 
America's Story', p 49."
[Many thanks - I'll start tracking down some of these resources. 


Last week helpful E-Sylum readers responded to Lynn Tice's question 
on Laura Gardin Fraser's Better Babies medal with an avalanche of 
information.  Dick Johnson noted that these were produced by Medallic 
Art Co. and were so marked on the edge. But Joe Levine's cataloging 
indicated that they were also marked by Crowell Publishing company.  
To learn which version Lynn has, I asked her to take a look for us.  

This week, from the foothills of the Blue Ridge, Lynn writes: "Many 
thanks to you and your readers for the information and research. Our 
medal is edgemarked with a copyright Crowell Pub. Co. 1913.   Not a 
glimpse of Medallic Art Company on the edge or elsewhere.  My eagle 
eye husband confirms this with a loupe.  It's about 2" wide. 

"My dad's brother Alfred was born Sept. 2, 1915, died Feb. 12, 1918. 
His picture hung in our grandmother's parlor and we have a lock of 
his hair. When we think of state fairs, beauty contests, etc, we tend 
to think of ribbons being awarded, not medals.  Your interest in an 
old family mystery has been making the rounds of our family emails." 




Speaking of Joe Levine, Alan V. Weinberg writes: "Joe Levine of 
Clifton VA conducted his 77th Presidential Coin & Antique Co. medals 
and tokens auction in Baltimore June 30 in connection with the 
Baltimore coin show recently acquired by Whitman Publishing Co. 
of Atlanta.
"This token, medal and political ephemera auction is now an annual 
affair as Joe is now semi-retired. His catalogues, going back to the 
early 70's, are notable for not only very rare material but the 
historical background emphasized with each lot. Like Q. David Bowers, 
Joe has always rightfully felt that an educated and informed client 
is a stronger bidder, a long term collector and potential future 
"While PCAC was unlisted in the show's roster of bourse dealers and 
Joe's booth was ignominiously isolated in a dark, extreme rear corner 
of the huge convention hall bourse room (while centrally located booths 
were unoccupied and unassigned), Joe's booth had a multiple-lamped 
exhibition table away from the main bourse floor's maddening crowd 
and bourse noise. So there was some benefit to the isolation.
"There was some eye-opening action Saturday night at the PCAC auction 
in a quiet room on the 3rd floor of the convention center. The sale 
featured a collection of American Agricultural and Mechanical Society 
medals. This was the finest and largest collection of these often 
aesthetically pleasing award medals ever sold at auction. Thus, the 
catalogue will serve as a reference work on the subject until 
someone produces a more comprehensive study.
"Aside from a decidedly strong bid book (mail, emailed and telephoned 
absentee bids), there were some fierce floor battles between some 
determined dealer/collectors and collectors on the floor. No bidder 
collusion here although two of the main bidders were close friends 
and sat across from each other. New price levels were set as some 
medals soared over $1,000 apiece.
"The sale also featured the collection of Henry Clay political and 
historical  medals and tokens of the late Pittsburgh coin dealer 
and collector Charles Litman, an unrivaled assemblage of over 100 
pieces. Several pieces soared over $2,000 each.
"But the highlight of the sale was the finest known Augustus Saint-
Gaudens  1905 Theodore Roosevelt bronze inaugural medal with accompanying 
letter that sold for $44,850 to a prominent New York City numismatist, 
a world's record price for this official medal, 1 of only 125 struck 
by Tiffany & Co.  It might well have gone higher but for the tactical 
error of the underbidder admittedly not realizing that his "cut bid" 
was his final bid. This was also a new world's record for any non-gold 
inaugural medal. 
"Shortly afterward, the even rarer but less famous silver Warren Harding 
inaugural medal sold for $40,825 to the aforementioned floor bidder who 
was so disappointed in losing the Roosevelt medal. This is the 2nd high 
world's record price for a non-gold inaugural medal. Inaugural medals 
have been a specialty of PCAC for decades and the field is what it is 
today largely because of Joe Levine's input. 
"Throughout the auction, there was humorous banter both from the auction 
podium manned by Joe himself and from the audience members which led to 
a relaxed and entertaining three hours."

[I have a copy of the catalog with me here in London.  Of additional 
interest to bibliophiles are lots 365 and 367, two different examples 
of the 1909 Lincoln Centennial medal and Book.  The book in lot 367 
is titled "The Lincoln Tribute Book".  Joe notes that "This is the 
second and scarcest of the two books of the period with medals bound 
in."  -Editor]


Last week I referenced a blog entry by David Kranz of Numismatic 
News asking about a POW*MIA stamp he'd encountered on U.S. paper 
money.  Curious, I did a web search and emailed Sjana Bauer, Founder 
and President of POW/MIA Freedom Fighters.  He writes: "The logo itself 
is a public domain graphic.  The wording itself says, 'You are not 
Forgotten"' or 'Let Us Not Forget', or something similar to that 
will be found on the graphic.  

"Many POW/MIA organizations and members and the general public 
continue to use this logo and fly the POW/MIA Flag, which itself is 
flown as mandated by Federal law on certain days throughout the year, 
in memory of those men and women that were left behind and are waiting 
to return home for burial.  

"For the families of these men and women, they are simply waiting 
for the government to give the answers as to what happened to their 
loved ones.  No one expects unrecoverable remains to be returned, but 
there are questions yet to be answered and it is time for the families 
and the public to be told the truth.  It is time for the men and women 
that can come home, to come home.  It is time for the remains that 
are available to be returned to American soil, to be returned and 
buried here.
"Why is the logo showing up on American money?  To make sure the 
American people don't forget!"
To visit the POW/MIA Freedom Fighters web site, see:



Roger Burdette writes: "I am searching for the following items for 
research and hope someone can direct me to copies.  Many thanks.

1. Fixed price list dated February 1909 issued by William Ashbrook, 
Johnstown, Ohio.

2. Auction catalog Ohio State Numismatic Association, October 28-29, 
1909. Auctioneer was Ray Patton. 745 lots.

"There will be an article in Coin World (written by Jeff Reichenberger 
and myself) in a month or so that lists most of the original owners of 
the 1907 $10 with normal rim and periods - only 50 survived melting. 
Jeff examined all of Ashbrook's 40-year-long personal diary and 
discovered quite a trove of numismatic information. 

"William Ashbrook acquired more than 1/5 of the total available during 
the 1908 Assay Commission meeting. He also had a huge run of gold proof 
sets bought from a Delaware estate. The private sale and auction were 
of duplicate pieces from his collection. I'd like to know more about 
what he sold in 1909 so I can try to trace a couple of the pieces or 
proof sets to institutional or possibly private owners."


As Karl Moulton noted on July 24, media descriptions of the Jacob 
Perkins Newburyport, MA building as a former 'mint' are incorrect.  
In a lengthy article this week, the Boston Globe gets it right.

"Commonly referred to as the "Mint Building" -- a misnomer because 
it was paper currency, not coins, that it produced -- the structure 
is adjacent to the Caleb Cushing House Museum, the Federalist building 
that serves as the society's headquarters and features rooms furnished 
in the style of the early to mid-1800s."

"At age 12, Perkins apprenticed with a goldsmith. Later he was 
employed to make dies for the production of the copper coin used 
in Massachusetts.

"In 1795, he invented a machine for manufacturing nails. He followed 
that in 1804 with the discovery of a new technique for making steel 
engraving plates for printing currency. The discovery was significant 
because it allowed for more detail to be included on the paper notes, 
which made them less susceptible to counterfeiting.

"At first, Perkins and his brother sold the plates to banks. But 
after opening the Mint Building, they began to print the currency. 
The Mint Building, where the printing took place, is believed to 
have been part of a complex whose other buildings are now gone. 

"Mack said the new museum would display artifacts from Jacob Perkins's 
life, some of which it has already accumulated over the years, and from 
the early currency printing industry."

To read the complete article, see: 



A headline in last week's issue was incorrect, as Dick Johnson 
pointed out.  Colorado State University is in Fort Collins, not 



[With permission I'm reprinting from the July 2007 issue of The 
E-Gobrecht (Volume 3, Issue 7, Whole Number 28) the following article 
on "Christian Gobrecht’s woodcuts" by Len Augsburger.  See the 
original article for illustrations. -Editor]

I recently purchased, via, an old volume that contains 
woodcuts executed by Christian Gobrecht while he lived in Baltimore. 
"A Key to French Conversation and French Idiom," published by Warner 
& Hanna in Baltimore in 1812, is a primer to the French language, 
with numerous woodcuts illustrating the text. Many are unsigned, but 
probably most are the work of Gobrecht. The engraver cleverly hid 
his signature within the base of the cuts, some indicating "G", 
others "Gobrecht". Three of these images were rendered in the Hanover 
Numismatic Society series of medals from 1966-1981 honoring Christian 
Gobrecht and are illustrated here, scanned from the 1812 volume.

Some of these woodcuts apparently originated in an earlier volume, 
"The Baltimore Spelling Book : Containing Easy Lessons in Spelling 
& Reading, Ornamented with Elegant Cuts", this also published by Warner 
& Hanna in Baltimore, and thought to have been published in 1811. This 
volume was referenced at the Maryland Historical Society. Warner and 
Hanna published anumber of other books, and it is quite possible that 
Gobrecht woodcuts could be located in these as well."

Dick Johnson writes: "There is a photograph in the July 2007 Popular 
Science magazine that is worth the cost of the entire magazine. It 
shows a 1999 Lincoln cent. What's so special about that? Let me tell you!
"It is an 'exploded' view of the thin copper shells -- obverse and 
reverse -- that covers the zinc core of the struck cent. I have never 
seen the zinc core of a Lincoln cent before, nor the shells separated 
from a cent.
"There is a simple technology for doing this columnist Theodore Gray 
explains in his column, 'Gray Matter,' this month. 'Turn your cheapest 
coins inside out,' he states, 'using some hardware store chemistry.'
"The copper shells are formed by dissolving away the zinc core. This 
is done by carefully grinding away the smallest amount from the edge 
until the zinc is exposed. Then place this cent in hydrochloric acid 
-- that's muriatic acid you can get in the hardware store (for cleaning 
"After the zinc is completely dissolved the shells remain but will be 
extremely thin -- like foil -- but if done properly will exhibit the 
intact surface of the cent. 
"To get the zinc core you have to dissolve the copper away with cyanide 
and Gray does not recommend anyone do this because cyanide is so poisonous. 
[See the link below for previous E-Sylum discussion about the numismatic 
uses (and misuses) of cyanide. -Editor]

"Popular Science hired a professional chemist to do this. Likewise we 
don't recommend any collector try this as well.
"Take a peak at this web site, view the photo and the YouTube video and 
see if you don't agree with me. Amazing!"

[It's a wonderful photo that ought to find its way into future numismatic 
books on the cent.  It would be interesting to see if a similar process 
can be applied to split the layers of higher denomination clad coinage 
such as the U.S. dimes and quarters.  On the downside, the existence of 
this recipe for the manipulation of coins will undoubtedly lead to the 
marketing of coin components in the guise of mint errors.  Be aware!  
Here are a couple excerpts from the article.  -Editor]

"Looking for something more interesting to do with that jar of pennies 
than just cash it in? One word: acid. 

"In most years before 1982, American pennies were 95 percent copper. 
Then the price of copper went up until you could get $100 worth of 
pennies at the bank, melt them down, and sell the metal for more than 
$100. So the government started using a core of cheap zinc with only 
a thin plating of copper. 

"The fact that pennies are made of two different metals opens up the 
interesting possibility of separating them. 

"... these two methods let me prepare this real-life exploded 
view—proving that what the U.S. Mint has joined together, an Icelandic 
chemist and an American teenager may put asunder."

To read the complete article, see:  


Regarding my stay in London, Roger Burdette writes: "When do you 
begin spelling words with extra letters and taking the 'lift' to 
your hotel room?  I replied that "I’m already taking the tube and 
the lift every day, and using colourful phrases!"   Roger's retort 
was: "Bilmey, let's hope you don't come down with 'pub elbow' from 
lifting all those pints. That would put the cotter in the hill! If 
you're driving, be sure to stay off the vergis - driving there 
could land you in gaol for a fortnight."

Well, I haven't driven in London and don't plan to.  And I doubt 
I'm in danger of getting pub elbow - this week brought some late 
nights in the office.  We even put in a full day and then some on 
the Fourth of July, which strangely, the Brits don't seem to celebrate. 
 Work keeps getting in the way of fun, but I try.  Although I missed 
the first half, on Tuesday I made it to the meeting of the London 
Numismatic Society.

I wasn't the only late arrival.  Outside the Warburg Institute on 
Woburn Square I met David Dell, a well-dressed older gentleman who 
introduced himself as a 50-year member of the club.  I learned that 
he collected the short cross coinage.  But we were both locked out 
of the building.  David reached through the bushes and tapped on the 
meeting room window, which was conveniently on the first floor just 
off the lobby.  It's the same room where the British Numismatic 
Society meets.

After an officer of the club had some cross words with the building 
guard who had left his post with the door locked inside and out, we 
were let inside.  Harry Mernick was finishing up his presentation on 
"The Royal Mint Centenary Medal Series, 1986-1999".  Counting myself, 
there were seventeen attendees.

Beautifully illustrated with images projected from his computer, 
Harry's talk was quite interesting.  Examples of all the medals were 
laid out for viewing on the table at the front of the room.  The 
series commemorates important British events.  Mintages were 5,000 
in bronze, 2,500 in silver and 25 in gold.  

The series was discontinued after 1999 for lack of public interest.  
It's a shame, for many of the medals are quite well executed.  Harry 
suggested that the problem could be due to the availability of so 
many commemorative coins in circulation and the high prices charged 
by the Mint for the medals.  He noted that the Royal Mint is testing 
the waters with a new series, priced at 1,495 GBP for a set of six 
silver medals.

One attractive medal honored the Llantrisant Longbowmen.  The Welsh 
archers changed the course of warfare forever when their technological 
advances ended the reign of Knights on horseback which had dominated 
battlefields since the later years of the Roman Empire.  At 100 yards 
their bodkin-tipped arrows could pierce not only chain mail, but 
plate armour.  

In a famous battle in 1346, "the French sent in wave after wave of 
cavalry, hoping to overwhelm the English line. It held. Each time the 
longbowmen made terrible slaughter from the protection of their ditches 
and caltrops. As supplies of arrows ran shot, they sallied out in groups 
to drag arrows out of dead and living, horses and men; and took prisoners 
for later ransom. 

"By midnight, Philip's brother, Charles II of Alençon and his allies, 
King John of Bohemia and the Count of Flanders, Louis II of Nevers, as 
well as 1,500 other knights and esquires were dead." [Taken from the 
web site listed below. -Editor]

How events from 1346 ended up commemorated on a modern Centenary medal 
I don't know, but I deserved to be confused for arriving late.  It was 
an elegant medal regardless.  I learned more than just the story of 
the archers - I finally learned how to pronounce the name of the town 
of Llantrisant, Wales.  Harry explained that it means the "Land of 
Three Saints" - Llan/Tri/Sant.  

QUIZ QUIZ: What is Llantrisant's numismatic connection?  Harry's 
vocabulary also includes the word "penultimate", which I remember is 
also a favorite of numismatic author Q. David Bowers.  Harry used the 
term correctly, but many of us misunderstand.  So what does it mean?

Other medals in the series are proper centenary medals, commemorating 
events occurring 100 years earlier.  The 1994 Tower Bridge medal 
commemorates the 1894 opening of the iconic London landmark.  A 
majestic composition with extraordinary detail, the medal is a delight.  
If you're in London and looking for a souvenir, pass up the trinkets 
and get something like this.

I also enjoyed the beautiful art deco-style design of the 1997 
Women's Institute medal, commemorating the founding of the organization 
in 1897 (in Canada, actually).

In the question-and-answer session following Harry's talk, Frances 
Simmons spoke about the Royal Mint's efforts to attract new engravers, 
and another member noted that the remains of John Harrison (a renowned 
clockmaker commemorated on one of the medals) are interred near Royal 
Mintmaster Isaac Newton in Westminster Abbey.

Following the meeting I was delighted to be invited to dinner at a usual 
post-meeting haunt. Our party included Phil and Harry Mernick, David 
Powell, Anthony Portner, and Robert H. Thompson, who edits a bibliography 
of the British Numismatic Journal.   We walked down Tavistock Place past 
a nice a pretty public square, eventually stepping into a little Indian 

Starters and a round of cold Cobra beers was served.  Conversation was 
a delight, and covered topics in and out of the numismatic realm.  I 
noted that the pound coin seems to be the real workhorse, with most 
examples I've seen being well worn.  Phil Mernick said that apparently 
1% or more of all pound coins in circulation are actually counterfeits. 
Apparently the high face value and worn condition of most of the 
genuine coins makes it ripe for fakery.

Phil told us about some of the diagnostics, which are mainly on the edge.  
He pronounced the two coins I drew from my pocket as genuine.   I looked 
at them through a borrowed loupe to view the details.  When I asked Phil 
why the words "One Pound" were backwards, he politely informed me that I 
was looking at the coin upside down.   OK, no more Cobras for me tonight.

We exited the restaurant after a great meal and walked toward the Russell 
Square tube station.  On July 7, 2005 a train traveling to Russell Square 
from the next station (King's Cross's St. Pancras) was violated with the 
explosion of a terrorist's bomb, killing 26 people.  Built in 1906, the 
station has many interesting original architectural features, including 
mosaic tile signage.  Harry pointed out to me the blast doors, large 
heavy safe-like doors used to seal the tunnels against Nazi bombs in WWII.  Life goes on.  We boarded a train and said our goodnights as we exited 
at our stops.

By Thursday the pace of work cooled down a bit and I was lucky to be able 
to go through with my planned dinner with John Andrew.  Numismatists in 
the U.S. know him as the London correspondent of Coin World.  We met about 
6 pm in the lobby of my building.  I had my laptop open to check a phone 
number and offered to show him the draft of this week's issue.  It's not
necessarily a pretty sight - like software and sausages, one is better 
off not knowing how it is made.

The draft is a very long conglomeration of unedited and unformatted 
text.  Since Monday morning I'd been plopping in emails from subscribers 
and the entire text of newspaper articles from the web.  To keep things 
straight every item is separated by a draft headline in the same format 
as the finished product.  If you think the final issues are big, you 
should see a draft.  But disk space is cheap, so everything under the 
sun gets thrown in to the pot.

I was shocked, shocked! to learn that John was not already a subscriber.  
Sacrebleu!   But we remedied that quickly and walked down Shaftesbury 
Avenue in the London drizzle to Bali Bali, an Indonesian/Malaysian/Thai 
restaurant.  We had a wonderful dinner, sharing tales of our collecting 

John has over 30 years experience in banking and has published over 
twenty books on topics ranging from personal finance to Faberge, and 
has contributed to all of the major U.K. newspapers including The Daily 
Telegraph, The Guardian, The Times, The Independent, The Financial Times 
and The Scotsman. He has written extensively on numismatics in numerous 
countries and is Consultant Editor of the U.K.'s Coin News.

He has a healthy numismatic library and offered to make me a copy of 
the item Bob Neale recommended - Eric Newman's 1959 article in the British 
Numismatic Journal on "The successful British counterfeiting of American 
paper money during the American revolution."  Two thousand miles away 
and I'm still trodding in Eric's footprints on the numismatic landscape.

John doesn't actually collect coins anymore, just books and information.  
He decided to stop collecting when he began writing about numismatics 
professionally.  His collecting passion is post-WWII British silver and 
gold.  Not coins, but tableware and decorative pieces.  A few years ago 
he sold a collection of Faberge pieces he'd assembled over the years, 
including elegant gold cigarette and match cases set with precious stones. 
 The collection included a number of pieces in their original 
presentation boxes including gifts from the Tsar of Russia.  Walking 
into a London jewelry exhibit recently he spotted a piece on loan from 
comedienne Joan Rivers and exclaimed "That's my brooch!"

A good friend of John's is Gerald Hoberman, known numismatically for 
his beautiful 1981 Spink publication, "The Art of Coins and Their 
Photography".  Hoberman has published scores of books of photographs.  
John wrote the text for one on London which he showed me at dinner.  
The photographs of London landmarks and quintessential sights (local 
pubs, cheesemongers etc) were stunning.  A number of shots of palaces, 
parks and gardens were taken from the air, offering a heavenly 
perspective.  Having spent time around London I could really appreciate 
the book's charms - it's highly recommended for non-numismatic reading.

Our conversation lasted throughout our long dinner which included 
appetizers and dessert.  We talked about Stephen Fenton (who lives 
near John) and the 1933 Double Eagles, and my collection of J.S.G. Boggs 
material.  At John's request, back at my hotel I emailed him citations 
for some of the books on the topics.  It was a delightful evening and I 
look forward to visiting him again before my time in London is done.  
Together we'll work on a piece about The E-Sylum for Coin News.

Friday morning I had to be up bright and early for a breakfast meeting 
with Tom Patterson, CEO of my company, Command Information.  Tom is a 
pioneer in Internet security and formed the company to jumpstart 
commercial use of the next generation of the Internet (IPv6).  He had 
with him a new T-Mobile phone which can switch from the standard cell 
phone network to faster Wi-Fi connections.  The phone uses IPv6, as 
does the new iPhone from Apple. 

The meeting was at the Savoy Hotel.  Hopping into a cab at 7am, we 
passed preparations for the Tour de France in Hyde Park and Trafalgar 
Square.  Once at the hotel we were greeted by a chatty top-hatted 
doorman.  The lobby of the Savoy is huge, topped by a large decorative 
plaster border unlike any I've ever seen before.  The restaurant was 
equally immense and framed in marble.  Our table was at the window, 
overlooking the Thames.  

I chose the buffet.  It was an absolute delight to the eye - the food 
was presented meticulously.  There were three kids of marinated smoked 
salmon, dozens of types of sliced fruit, and usual breakfast fare of 
eggs, sausage, bacon, etc.  The waitress poured glasses of fresh orange-
mango juice.  It was a far cry from my usual breakfast of cereal and 
O.J. from a supermarket-brand carton. 

After work on Friday a colleague and I walked the few blocks down 
Charing Cross Road to Trafalgar Square where the opening ceremonies 
of the Tour de France were being held.  No cars could get near - the 
streets were closed.  It was fun to walk down the center of Charing 
Cross Road, normally jammed with traffic.  Police were out in force, 
but I saw no one being stopped or searched.  Together with throngs 
of people we strolled right past the security barriers.  

The square was packed with thousands of people on temporary bleachers 
and chairs.  From my spot on Charing Cross I could see the stage through 
the trees.  The head of operations for the Tour introduced himself and 
then the crowd was treated to a history of the bicycle as people pushed 
or rode antique bicycles across the stage.  One of the earliest was an 
example of the classic Victorian style with no gears and one huge wheel 
in the front.

A large video screen made it easier to see the action on the stage, 
but where I stood it was all very noisy and difficult to hear, as people 
squeezed past us holding conversations and vendors hawked T-shirts from 
a truck behind.  We watched a man climb atop a bus shelter to take a 
photo - after he was in place someone handed him up a backpack and a 
camera with a huge zoom lens.  

I didn't stay long and walked back toward my tube stop.  I don't mind 
crowds, but my nervous family wants me to stay away from them.  That's 
easier said than done in Central London.  I stopped for a haircut and 
then walked to my tube stop at Oxford Street.  Had the weather been better 
I would have walked all the way home, and that would have made for a much 
more pleasant journey.  The sidewalk at Oxford Street was jammed with 
people, and officials were turning people away from the entrance to the 
underground.  I assume it was because of the traffic generated by the 
Tour; this entrance was now an exit only - I would have to cross two 
streets to get into the station.

Crossing those streets took a while - there were mobs of people.  Finally 
I reached the train platform and it was also quite crowded.  A train 
arrived soon but was already jammed with passengers.  Two people got off, 
three people squeezed in, and off the train went with me and hundreds of 
others still stranded on the platform.  Somehow I managed to get on the 
next train which was equally packed nutztobuttz with people.  What was 
that about avoiding crowds?

When I reached my stop at the Queensway station I squeezed off the train.  
The Central Line is deep underground at that point and to get to street 
level riders have to take a lift (elevator) or brave the stairs.  I 
chose the stairs.  Normally I'm the only one but tonight there were 
dozens of people hoofing it up the 123 steps.  No, I didn't count them, 
but there's a sign to warn the faint of heart.  It was a relief to reach 
the street and breathe the cool evening air.  While the rest of London 
was out and about Friday night, I was quite content to have the hotel 
laundry facility to myself to take care of the weekly washing.   While 
waiting I read some email and popped a few more submissions into this 
week's E-Sylum draft.

Saturday morning brought a strange sight to my windows - blue skies 
and sunshine.  It had been at least a fortnight since we had such a 
nice day.  I faced the day with mixed emotions, though.  It was the 
anniversary of the London bombings which killed 52 people on the 
London transportation system.  

Checking email at breakfast I got a note from ANS Executive Director 
Ute Wartenberg Kagan who was traveling in Berlin.  She writes: "Two 
years ago on July 7 I was in London and just about to enter Edgeware 
Road, one of the stations where a bomb went off on a train.  Later I 
heard that one of my numismatic colleagues from the British Museum was 
on one of the trains, but was unharmed.  But in London people expect 
this sort of thing, I am sure you noticed."

Although I had been invited to attend, I decided not to go to the 
'Currencies in Crisis' conference in Chichester.  I also passed up a 
chance to visit Wimbledon for the playoffs.  It had been a long week 
and I wanted to complete my E-Sylum chores at a leisurely pace and 
take a few casual walks in the warm sun.  I opened the windows wide 
to let in the fresh cool air.  

After having some lunch I went for a long walk in Hyde Park, home base 
of the London leg of the Tour de France bicycle race.  Hundreds of trucks 
and buses were parked three deep along one long road.   I soon came 
across the People's Village, basically a peddler's fair piggybacking on 
the Tour.  There were booths selling T-shirts, all manner of food and 
drink and traditional French products.  I saw a few of the racers whiz 
by to the cheers of the crowd.  This was only the prologue race - the 
official race starts Sunday and goes on and on.  One rider described it 
as "the only sporting event in the world where you need a haircut 
halfway through."

On Sunday I worked some more on The E-Sylum in the morning and after 
lunch set out on another journey.  My cross-town destination was Sotheby's, 
to view lots in their 12 July sale of English Literature and History.  
It was a quiet afternoon.  I checked my backpack in the cloakroom and 
entered the book room for lot viewing.   There were only three others 
viewing lots.  I filled out a lot viewing sheet, but was never asked 
for identification. Viewers are not allowed to copy or transcribe any 
part of the documents in their notes, but the staff was quite helpful 
and I had free reign to handle the items.

I was particularly interested in just one lot, and only for viewing 
since it would be too expensive to buy.  Here's the lot description 
(estimate 2,000-3,000 GBP): 

"Newton, Sir Isaac. Collection of documents relating to the Royal Mint  
including a receipt for plate taken from three ships, subscribed ("recd 
the plate above mentioned ... by me") and signed by Newton as master of 
the mint, 1 page, folio, 28 May 1703, endorsed on verso, tear resulting 
in loss of half of signature, professionally restored. 

"[together with:] a group of 16 documents relating to the Royal Mint 
including: letters to and from various correspondents, some being copies, 
on such subjects as the use of an iron screw press "that may be used for 
forginge or Counterfeiting the current monies and coyne of this Kingdom", 
the discharge of goods seized from a pirate by the Hull mint, building 
work at the Chester mint, and a patent held by Sir Talbot Clarke for 
the smelting and refining of copper; receipts including sums received 
in taxes by various county receivers, the costs of assaying and 
transporting plate brought from Vigo, and the salaries of officials at 
the Exeter mint; in total 22 pages, various sizes and locations, 2 
December 1682 to 23 December 1712, professionally restored and 
strengthened, waterstaining (17)"

That the document is missing part of Newton's signature is a shame.  
Only "Isaac" remains.  An interesting group, particularly the pirate 
item.  I recall the spelling as "Pyrate".  They're not for me at that 
price level, but I hope they find a good home.

While I was there I took a peek at a few other items. Lot 15 is a very 
nice large autographed photographic portrait of inventor Thomas Edison, 
suitable for framing.  Lot 44 is a two-volume, first edition set of 
Adam Smith's 1776 treatise, "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of 
the Wealth of Nations."  It was a treat to hold the first edition of 
this landmark work. Chapter IV is titled "Of the Origin and Use of Money".   

Lot 92 is a two-volume first edition of Charles Dickens' "Sketches by 
'Boz'" with sixteen wood-engraved plates by George Cruikshank, known 
numismatically for his famous "hanging" satire note.  Lot 105 is an 
1849 edition of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's "Frankenstein: or The 
Modern Prometheus".  

Not all of the lots were centuries old.  Lot 282 is a 1997 first edition 
of J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter book, "Harry Potter and the 
Philosopher's Stone", estimated at 1,000—1,500 GBP.  The book carried 
a marking from the Portsmouth City Council Library Service and a date 
of 8/97.  The original cover price was 10.99 GBP.  My neighboring lot 
viewer questioned why the book didn't been marked as a discard, since 
"a lot of these get nicked from public libraries." 

Leaving Sotheby's I continued walking down Bond Street, London's upscale shopping district comparable to LA's Rodeo Drive or New York's Fifth Avenue.  Since it was a Sunday the shops were closed.  I turned left on Piccadilly and wandered into the Royal Academy of Arts.  Situated on a beautiful plaza together with the Astrological and Geological Societies and the Society of Antiquaries, the setting is similar to the American Numismatic Society's former home on Audubon terrace, only in a civilized neighborhood.

I had seen my fill of Impressionist Paintings and passed on the summer 
exhibit, "Impressionists by the Sea".  I was disappointed that the 
library was closed - I would have liked to ask the librarians about 
works pertaining to coin designers.  Established in 1768, the Academy's 
library is the oldest institutional library in the U.K.  

I walked through the public galleries viewing paintings and some 
interesting artifacts such as Sir Joshua Reynolds' palette.  Making 
use of my E-Sylum vocabulary, I recognized the word "Tondo" in the 
exhibit guide, and made my way upstairs to view what the Academy 
considers its greatest treasure - the marble sculpture the Toddei 
Tondo: The Virgin and Child with the Infant St. John by Michelangelo 

Leaving the Royal Academy I walked through Mayfair past Shephard's 
Market and other landmarks, making my way into Hyde Park near Apsley 
House at Hyde Park Corner.  The park was still full with the Tour de 
France, and I climbed up a temporary staircase and bridge to cross 
over the racecourse on Serpentine Drive.  Stopping to buy some water 
(1.65 GBP for a 500ml bottle), I continued along the far side of 
Serpentine Lake, past the Diana Memorial Fountain and Round Lake back 
to my Bayswater neighborhood.  It was about a three mile walk in all 
- time to rest my weary feet.

To visit John Andrew's web site, see: 

To read more on the Llantrisant Longbowmen, see:  

To view images of counterfeit British one-pound coins, see: 

To learn some diagnostics of fake one-pound coins, see: 

To view Sotheby's lot description 


London newspapers reported on Tuesday that "Heroic hound Jake the 
cocker spaniel is to be honoured today for his bravery after the 7/7 
London bombings. 

"Handler PC Bob Crawford and two-year-old Met police dog Jake (full 
name Hubble Keck) formed part of the emergency services response 
after the attacks. 

"They were sent to Tavistock Square and later Kings Cross.

"At Tavistock Square, injured people were in need of urgent medical 
attention but the bus was believed to contain a further suspect 

"Jake and PC Crawford searched a safe route to the device ensuring 
that it was safe for paramedics to reach the passengers.

"They then searched an area close to the bus so a make-shift field 
hospital could be set up. 

"Afterwards they set about searching a mile long route underground 
from Russell Square tube station to Kings Cross to ensure people 
could be rescued safely.

"Today, Jake will be given the animal equivalent of the George Cross 
by HRH Princess Alexandra at St James's Palace."

To read the complete article, see:,,2-2007300563,00.html 

[We've discussed previously in The E-Sylum about medals awarded in 
Britain to animals.   A related article published last year  notes 
that Bamse, the canine mascot of the Norwegian Forces during WWII 
received a postumous PDSA Gold Medal (the 'animals' 'George Cross') 
for saving the lives of two crew members of his ship. 

The PDSA Gold medal (called the equivalent of the George Cross) seems 
to be different than the Dickin medal (called the equivalent of the 
Victoria Cross).  Can anyone confirm this? -Editor]

To read about Bamse, the life-saving Norwegian dog, see 




Britain isn't the only country plagued with counterfeit coins.  A 
Friday article in China Daily notes that "Fake coins can now be found 
in several Chinese cities.  Many convenience stores, snack bars, and 
newspaper stands are buying them and giving them as change to customers, 
who then spend them in other places, according to Nanfang Weekend. 

"Two employees of a fake coin retailer in Guangzhou, capital of 
southern Guangdong Province, who gave their names as B Zai and A Wei, 
told the paper that many local convenient stores and snack bars buy 
from them. 

"Their boss buys fake coins, valued at 1 yuan each, from a wholesaler 
and sells them to shops at 35 fen. 

"Retailers stick posters on walls and lampposts, and also advertise 
on the Internet. 

"'Most coin identification machines cannot detect them from genuine 
ones,' he said." 

"'Coins are simple to copy as they do not have anti-counterfeit 
safeguards,' he said. 

"In the first eight months of last year, Hubei Province confiscated 
more than 10.52 million counterfeit coins with 1 yuan face value."

To read the complete article, see: 


For a while now we've been following Ed Snible's quest to learn more 
about the typographic symbol for coin reverse with limited success.  
In his July 1 blog Ed speculates on why use of the symbol died out.  
He writes:

"The )( symbol is a new obsession of Wayne Homren, who reports in 
today's e-Sylum that he has contracted the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, 
Germany, The Type Museum here in London, the International Printing 
Museum near Los Angeles, the Museum of Printing in North Andover, MA; 
the JAARS Museum of the Alphabet in Waxhaw, NC; and the St. Brides 
Printing Library in London.

"No useful replies yet.

"In a June 3 comment here, Dr. Robert J. O’Hara pointed to an 18th 
century list of alchemical symbols, Medicinisch-Chymisch- und 
Alchemistisches Oraculum (1755), which includes both )( and ℞. Both 
symbols abbreviate words beginning with RE (Realgar and Recipe). If 
one needed to abbreviate “reverse” down to a single character to save 
space it makes sense to use a symbol which had already served that 
purpose. )( was such a symbol, but would numismatic readers in the 
18th century have understood it?

"The earliest numismatic use that I know of is from 1758, in a book 
published in Vienna, Prague, and Triest by Ioannis Thomae Trattner. 
However, I just haved looked. I don't have any 17th or 18th century 
books, and Google has scanned only a few. I would be curious to find 
earlier citations of the symbol. It would be interesting if the 
symbol started with publishers known for printing alchemical works. 
I have before never considered a connection between numismatics and 

"It is interesting that the symbol died out. It was used by Eckhel, 
who is the father of numismatics as a science. It seems logical that 
authors would want to make the works look more like Eckhel's, so why 
did the symbol die out? Possibly type setters didn't have the symbol, 
but perhaps even in the 19th century no one knew the name of the 
symbol or its exact meaning?"

To read Ed's original July 1 blog entry, see:  




[Ed raised a very interesting question, which could be destined to 
remain a numismatic mystery.  Thanks to Karl Moulton we have some 
additional background on the symbol's use in the U.S., but little 
proof of where it came from originally, what it was called or why 
it died out.  Perhaps someday an answer will turn up.   

Meanwhile, researchers should keep an eye on Ed's blog for his 
regular updates on numismatic literature being added to Google Book 
search.  The latest include three titles in the BMC Greek series:

Vol. 16 Ionia, by Head, 1892.
Vol. 17 Troas, Aeolis and Lesbos, by Wroth, 1894.
Vol. 19 Lycia, Pamphylia and Pisidia, by Hill, 1897  -Editor]


Dick Johnson writes: "If you are an aircraft mechanic raise your 
hand. I don't see many hands raised among E-Sylum readers. This 
story is about a 75-year-old (best guess) custom with Lincoln cents. 
Even though I have collected and written about Lincoln cents for 
almost an equal time (68 of those 75 years) this story is new to me.

"The custom is to place a Lincoln cent -- which automatically becomes 
a 'lucky penny' and extending that luck to every thing it touches -- 
on the engine of an airplane.  Specifically, one kind of aircraft 
engine, Pratt & Whitney engines, which are manufactured here in 
"It seems the mechanics who make these engines place a Lincoln cent 
of the current year on every one made. When an engine is restored or 
overhauled at some later date, the mechanic has the option of 
retaining the original cent bearing the date of manufacture, or, 
use one of the current year.
"A contributing writer for Aircraft Maintenance Technology magazine, 
Giacinto Bradly Koontz, wrote an article, published this week, where 
the writer wanted to track down the origin of this curious custom 
and how long this has been going on. Learning the answer wasn't easy.
"The best guess would be the 1930s, since the 'engine pennies' were 
found on one type of engine, R1340 WASP, which was first manufactured 
in 1940. One mechanic the author interviewed listed two other engines 
in which the custom could have started. 
"An aircraft owner stated he picked up the custom from a crop duster, 
who wouldn't think of flying without a penny on his own P&W. 'It's 
just one of those things some of us do, but probably don't know why.' 
He speculated it could be placed there to signify the last overhaul, 
like a date stamp. Other mechanics said they did it because their 
fathers and grandfathers did. The custom continues today. Fly safely!"
[The lengthy article relates the custom to the ancient shipbuilding 
custom of placing a coin under the mast in a ceremony called Stepping 
the Mast.  We've written about this in previous E-Sylums. -Editor]

To read the complete article, see: 




Tim Shuck writes: "Dick Johnson’s comments on why we no longer need 
the cent are persuasive, and I agree that ‘deficit’ minting of coins 
needs to end.  However, if rounding to ten cents is implemented he 
might want to reconsider removing cents and nickels from circulation, 
either physically or by revaluation.

[Revaluation has been one of the options proposed. -Editor]

"Under such a scenario, if I use quarters to pay for a purchase 
ending in 20 cents (using one quarter), 60 or 70 cents (using three 
quarters), how would I get the five cents in change back? Forced use 
of dimes would be an inconvenience that, along with political (and 
practical) issues related to revaluation, will make elimination of 
the nickel a non-starter in my opinion. And we might need those cents 
as well to make up five cents in change.

"I could suggest, tongue halfway in cheek, that if cents and nickels 
go, the quarter also needs to be replaced with a new 20 cent piece; 
history in the making and a host of new collecting possibilities. If 
that happened all circulating coins would then be an even multiple of 
the lowest denomination coin, which is needed to avoid the five-cents-
in-change problem. This seems too obvious; am I missing something 

Dick Johnson writes: "Canada is getting serious about abolishing the 
cent denomination. Last week the national bank issued a statement 
endorsing its demise. This week a member of parliament, Pat Martin, 
is drafting a bill to accomplish just that. The $30 million is the 
amount the Canadian Mint would save annually by abolishing the penny, 
says a study by the Library of Parliament, whose facts Mr. Martin is 
using to bolster his argument that the penny should no longer "nickel 
and dime Canadians." 
"Canada is not facing the problem, as does the United States, that of 
the U.S. cents costing more for its metal composition than its face 
value, since Canadian cents are made of steel. The Royal Canadian Mint 
manufactures steel cents for 0.7 cents each, which means a penny is 
still actually worth something, but not much. The problem with pennies 
is that Canadians lose them, throw them away or store them in buckets 
by the millions. Last year the mint stamped out 815 million pennies. At 
2.35 grams each, they are in weight as they are in value -- pretty much 
nothing. But together, they weigh almost two million kilograms. Moving 
all those coins from the mint to banks alone costs about $33 million.
"By abolishing the cent Canadians would have to do some rounding off. 
Not all prices, just the final tally. An editorial in the Winnipeg Free 
Press noted this has already been done in Australia, New Zealand, France 
and Spain. We could add Finland to that list."
To read the Winnipeg Free Press editorial, see:

Dick Johnson writes: "Congress can expect a lot of pressure from a 
lobbyist hired this week by Jarden Zinc Products. They manufacture 
the copper-coated zinc blanks the U.S. Mint purchases to strike into 
Lincoln cents.
"Since the cent's existence is vulnerable -- because the market price 
of its two metal components is waverying above the coin's face value 
and the importance of the cent to the American economy is declining -- 
this poses a tremendous loss of business to this company should the 
coin be abolished.
"In addition to the U.S. Mint, Jarden supplies zinc coin blanks to 
the Royal Canadian Mint as well as other countries. Canada has advanced 
further in their plans to abolish their cent coin; their national bank 
recently endorsed the cent's elimination. U.S. Mint officials are mute 
on the subject.
"Jarden Zinc Products is a subsidary of Jarden Corp, headquartered in 
Rye, New York. Their zinc processing plants are located in Tennessee 
and elsewhere."
To read the original Associated Press report, see:


[Last week's discussion of the Canadian Numismatic Bibliography 
illustrates the vast number of topics under that umbrella.  One 
interesting Canadian item that I learned about from my friend Larry 
Dziubek are the privately-made tokens of Thomas Church.  He gave a 
presentation on the topic at a local Pittsburgh club meeting one 
month, based on a Canadian Numismatic Journal article by Fred Bowman. 
Larry gave me permission to republish the text of his presentation 
for the benefit of E-Sylum readers. -Editor]

Thomas Church was born in 1843 in Ireland. His father was an artist 
that painted murals, some of which are in the Canadian Parliament. 
The family lived in Ottawa since 1851 and Tom got in his career field 
as a lumberman by 1860. He eventually became the manager of the mill. 
He lost his left hand in an industrial accident a few months before 
the entire lumber yard and town was destroyed by fire in 1900. 

Mr. Church had no children by his first two marriages, but had seven
with Margaret Spratt his third wife. In his mid-thirties he became a 
serious collector of Canadian coins and tokens. He began to experiment 
in cutting his own dies in the 1880’s. Many of the dies had the style 
of early Canadian tokens found in the Breton series. He built a forge 
and workshop near his home and began to cut and harden steel dies. 
This hobby and his love for growing roses seemed to consume all of 
his spare time.

Some of the talent needed for this task was inherited from his father, 
the artist.  Although his first attempts were on the crude side, the 
quality of his workmanship continually improved until it was near the 
level of a professional die cutter. Most of his early issues were in 
soft metals that were melted, and used later to make bullets. A few 
strikes were done over existing coins or tokens. Some small mintages 
were due to the short life of inferior dies when striking harder metals. 

Later Thomas began to roll sheets of different metals for his 
planchets. These were not always made in a uniform thickness and add 
to the variety and weight of his products. His personal amusement 
and recreation turned into a minor business. He made milk check tokens 
for C. W. Barrett of Leitrium, Ontario, the brother-in-law of his 
second wife. These were the only issues struck in quantity. He also 
made several personal tokens for himself, as well as some for the 
Central Canada Exhibition in 1896. 

He made tokens for Louis Laurin who owned and operated a general 
store and was also a serious collector. When a fire destroyed Laurin’s 
collection in 1899 he began to specialize in collecting Communion 
Tokens. Early articles (1903) on the subject of Thomas Church listed 
only twenty eight varieties in all metals, using some twenty of his 
dies. Now the thinking is that there are some fifty-five combinations 
or mulings from fifty-eight different dies. There would be another 
fifty-two varieties if you counted all the pieces struck in various 
metals. Many of these would be LEAD strikes that were only intended 
to be “die trials” that got into some early collections. 

Leading Canadian collectors of the day such as F.R.E. Campeau, R.W. 
McLachlan, Joseph Leroux, and F.X. Paquet had standing orders to 
purchase Church issues as soon as they were made. After the great 
fire of April 1900 that destroyed all of Ottawa and Church’s home 
on Victoria Island, he never resumed any efforts to make tokens. He 
died on March 7, 1917 at age 74. The most definitive report on 
Church’s output was the October 1959 Fred Bowman article in The 
Canadian Numismatic Journal.

Dick Johnson writes: "This is one of the strangest stories I ever read. 
And it is one of several on 'pennies' this week. A man in California 
gives a dollar bill to strangers for every cent they have. But that's 
not all. The stories he tells are stranger yet!
"Freelance author Alex S. Gabor tells of the gentleman who calls himself 
the 'Penny King.' He states he was cheated out of a $70-million dollar 
company 34 years ago and for the last 15 years he has been giving away 
his dollar-for-cent exchanges. 
"He states there is a million-dollar penny out there somewhere and he 
hopes to find it. His son found a trunk of cents he cashed in for $4,000 
so he has been quite active in this rater strange preocupation. The rest 
of his statements range from unusual to unbelievable so you will have to
read the author's own words. He calls it 'The Myth of the Million 
Dollar Penny.' 
"The article was published in the American Chronicle this week. Go 
read for yourself."

[Here are a couple short excerpts from this wacky article. -Editor] 

"There are many articles on the subject of this mythological penny that 
could fetch over a million dollars. Supposedly the United States Mint 
made only one of these pennies and it somehow managed to slip out of 
the garbage bin and into circulation through some former government 
employee’s deliberate attempts to cash in on what could now only be 
deemed a tiny diamond in a global haystack.

"“The Penny King” likes to tell the story of how he once put up a 
golden penny for auction on eBay with a minimum bid of $1 million 
and someone successfully bid and won. 

"He was all set to cash in his spray painted gold penny and buy hundreds 
of thousands more and make a global business of it when the person who 
won the auction backed out thinking it was altogether a joke.

To read the complete article, see: 


A June 30 New York Times article addressed another age-old coin 
custom, throwing coins into a fountain.

"Dionysos, standing there in his sandals with his arm over that woman, 
knows. He spends his days watching everyone in the room and everything 
they do.

"He knows it cannot be Aphrodite, on his right. She has no arms.

"He knows it cannot be Hercules, also on his right. No arms on him, 

"So who is dropping all the coins in the fountain in the Metropolitan 
Museum of Art’s new Greek and Roman galleries?

"Not David Mendez, though he knows more about coins in fountains than 
anyone else at the Met. That is because he takes the coins out, once 
a week, every week, using an old wiper blade and napkin-size pieces of 
thin white cloth.

"The Met says that the fountain, in the Leon Levy and Shelby White 
Court, was not planned as a receptacle for discarded dimes, pennies 
and quarters, not to mention euros, Mexican pesos and Taiwanese dollars. 
“The fountain was designed to recreate the ambience of a Roman court,” 
said Harold Holzer, a spokesman for the Met, “but you know, it’s
inevitable. From Trevi to Dendur, water attracts coins.”

To read the complete article, see:   


According to a Reuters report, "A German motorist surprised by euro 
notes swirling in the air around her car hit the brakes and collected 
a "substantial amount of money" before turning it over to police, 
authorities in Worms said on Thursday.

"A police spokesman in the small western town said the 24-year-old 
woman saw the money flying through the air in her rear view mirror 
late on Wednesday. She pulled over and tried to collect all the 
notes, unsuccessfully.

"When police went with her to the scene they could not find any 
more cash.

"A spokesman at Worms city hall said police were withholding details 
on the exact sum and location of the find in the hope of learning 
more about the money's origin."

To read the complete article, see: 


This week's featured web page is on Christian Gobrecht, at the U.S. 
Patterns web site.

"The name of Gobrecht, the third person to occupy the post of chief 
engraver at the Philadelphia Mint, is well known to collectors today 
and is reflected in such popular terms as Gobrecht dollar and The 
Gobrecht Journal, the latter being the publication of the Liberty 
Seated Collectors Club." 

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