The E-Sylum v10#28, July 15, 2007

esylum at esylum at
Sun Jul 15 16:57:52 PDT 2007

Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 10, Number 28, July 15, 2007:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2007, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Counting one anonymous new subscriber, we now have a total of 1,151. 

This week we open with an announcement about Rusty Goe's new book on 
James Crawford of the Carson City Mint, and a correction to an error 
in last week's issue.  Next, Dr. Ute Wartenberg Kagan discusses the 
American Numismatic Society library and archives and their status in 
the move being considered by the society.  In the news, Dwight Manley 
is working on a couple new projects and we speculate on possible 
numismatic connections.  

My London Diary continues with visits to Spink and Dix Noonan Webb, 
and newspapers in Britain are buzzing with word of the theft of a 
landmark collection of Scottish coinage.  Have a great week, 

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


Marie Goe writes: "After suffering through many trials and shedding 
many tears it appears as if Rusty's new book, 'James Crawford: Master 
of the Mint at Carson City - A Short Full Life' is ready for 
distribution.  Whereas Rusty initially thought the book would contain 
approximately 400 pages, it has swelled to 658 pages.  Below is the 
table of contents and a copy of the press release for the book:
Book One: The Early Years: Hardinsburg, Kentucky to Littleton, Illinois 
Book Two: The California Years: La Porte in Sierra County
Book Three: The Lyon County, Nevada Years: Como to Dayton 
Book Four: The Carson City Years: 1874 - 1885
Selected Bibliography
"A new biography on the life of James Crawford, fourth superintendent 
of the Carson City Mint from 1874 to 1885, is now available in hardcover, 
from the award-winning author of The Mint on Carson Street, Rusty Goe. 
Packed with more information about an officer in the Bureau of the 
Mint system than any other reference, this 650-page book, entitled 
James Crawford: Master of the Mint at Carson City – A Short Full Life, 
traces this historic figure from his birth in Kentucky to his rise to 
fame and authority at Nevada’s venerated coin factory in Carson City. 

"While a small minority of coin collectors are familiar with the name 
James Crawford, this great man’s legacy has unfortunately been obscured 
in the passing pages of time. Until now, that is. For, author Rusty 
Goe, employing the tedious tenacity of a skilled researcher, has 
reconstructed James Crawford’s life, primarily through excerpts from 
hundreds of pages of newspapers spanning the second half of the 
nineteenth century. From stories of California’s Gold Rush to a 
probing chronicle of Nevada ’s Comstock Lode, readers will be 
transported back in time to one of the most colorful eras in 
American history.

"Even readers that are unfamiliar with James Crawford, or the mint 
at which he served, will enjoy the experience of learning about how 
some of the most famous coins in history were produced; and about 
how political chicanery affected the monetary system of the United 
States. But aside from coin making and political rascality, readers 
will appreciate the many human-interest stories scattered throughout 
the pages of this enchanting biography. 

"James Crawford loved life and certainly lived it to its fullest 
measure. Whether out in the woods on a hunting expedition, participating 
in a sporting tournament, attending a masquerade ball, vacationing at 
beautiful Lake Tahoe, escorting a dignitary around town, presenting a 
speech at a Republican rally, or playing a practical joke on a friend, 
Crawford always found himself at the center of attention. And, just 
as those who were close to him admired, respected and loved him, 
readers will also become enamored with him by the time they have 
turned to the last page in this exhaustive volume. 

"Complementing the absorbing narrative is a virtual visual-feast of 
images, including dozens of coins from the Carson City Mint, and
numerous pictures of persons, places, and old newspaper clippings. 
Rusty Goe spiced up his first major work, The Mint on Carson Street, 
which won Book of the Year honors from two prestigious numismatic 
organizations (PNG and NLG) in 2004, with a similarly profuse 
presentation of images, and he has not detoured from this 
award-winning style in this new biography on James Crawford.

"This riveting book will appeal to a diversified readership, 
including lovers of Nevada history, Old West history, U.S. monetary 
system history, U.S. Mint history, and biographies of famous Americans. 

"Anyone interested in the Carson City Mint, the coins produced 
there, Nevada history, or even U.S. history will greatly enjoy 
reading this book. It is filled with interesting facts and inspiring

"The book, available in hardcover, will be distributed at all major 
outlets. The suggested retail price is $89.95 (Discounts will be 
offered). For more information, please contact Southgate Coins at 
5032 S. Virginia St., Reno, NV 89502 ; or phone (775) 322-4455."

[I've already sent my check.  Anyone with an interest in U.S 
numismatics, minting, or the Old West should buy or borrow a copy.  
As many of our readers know (since they are authors themselves), 
authoring a book is a long, difficult and often thankless task.  
Show your support!  -Editor]


Through a cut and paste error on my part, last week there was an 
extraneous link to the Zyrus Press web site following the item on 
Dave Lange's Coin Collecting Boards book.  Sorry!  Dave's book can 
only be ordered from Dave's own Pennyboard Press.



George Cuhaj recently contributed a controversial Viewpoint article 
to Numismatic News about the differing museum and library planning 
trajectories of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the 
American Numismatic Society (ANS).  It was reprinted on George's 
blog this week - here are some excerpts:  

George writes: "What interesting news from two major U.S. museums. 
The American Numismatic Association launches a plan to expand and 
go bi-costal while the American Numismatic Society’s goal is to 
crawl under a rock. 

"The American Numismatic Association recently announced a 40 million 
dollar expansion program and plans for public museum satellite 
locations in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, Calif. 

"On the other hand, the American Numismatic Society in New York 
City, nearing its 150th anniversary, is adopting a long-range plan 
that is tantamount to cold storage. 

"So, what is the ANS about to do? Sell the newly acquired Fulton 
Street property, and accept a 20-year lease and move into part of 
the 11th floor of a recent factory conversion on the far west side 
of Manhattan. The plan is to have the library on closed shelves, 
and very limited access to the collection material. Therefore, 
the collection will for all intents and purposes be in storage 
for 20 years!" 

To read George's complete blog entry, see:

[As of this writing, the ANS had not yet publicly announced their 
plans.  ANS Executive Director Dr. Ute Wartenberg Kagan will provide 
us with the press release as soon as it is ready and I'll publish it 
in The E-Sylum.  I asked her for some additional information on how 
the move might affect access to the ANS library and archives, a key
point of concern for bibliophiles and researchers.  -Editor]

Dr. Kagan writes: "I read George Cuhaj’s comments in Numismatic News 
with both interest and surprise.  It is not clear where his information 
comes from, but he is clearly misinformed.   I want to assure 
E-sylum readers that the new ANS location will have slightly more 
useable space than we are using currently. Moreover, we have essentially 
the same library and archives whose public area is almost identical 
to the current setup. 

"Exactly as now, some books will be housed in compact shelving in 
open, fully accessible areas. There will be an additional reading 
room, and a slightly larger rare book room.  The vaults and coin 
viewing area will accommodate more visitors, and there will be an 
exhibition gallery with c. 12 museum exhibition cases.  The entire 
space will be welcoming and filled with ambient light.  Not exactly 
“cold storage”.

"Why are we selling our building and moving to a new home? As 
obliquely referred to in Cuhaj’s column, it will put the ANS on 
a solid financial footing now and into the future. Expenses will 
be predictable; donations will go towards endowing more positions, 
paying for exhibitions, lectures at the ANS and elsewhere, 
increasing membership services etc. - an ideal position of strength 
from which to grow bigger and be more responsive to the members, 
Fellows and the public.  Hardly what I call crawling under a rock.

"Once the ANS is sure of its current plans, which are still not 
finalized, a press release with more detail will be issued."


Bob Merchant writes: "I am trying to find information on the chief 
coiners of the U.S. Mint during its history. Is there a book that 
covers this topic, or a known list of the chief coiners somewhere? 
Thank you."

[I'm away from my library, so we'll have to rely on our readers 
for answers.  The Mint Directors and Chief Engravers tend to get 
most of the attention from numismatic researchers.  Chief coiners 
are lesser known.  I believe there was typically one chief coiner 
for each branch mint, although Bob tells me he is only researching 
the chief coiners who worked at the Philadelphia mint.

While I know that COIN WORLD Almanac and other publications publish 
lists of Directors and Engravers, I'm not aware of any listing of 
Coiners. Can anyone point us to a comprehensive list, or at least 
name some of the chief coiners, such as Henry Voigt, Adam Eckfeldt, 
Franklin Peale, A. Loudon Snowden etc.?  -Editor] 


While looking up other things I came across a reference to an archive 
that may hold some information of use to U.S. numismatic researchers.  
It's the inventory of the Henry Clay Warmoth Papers and the Manuscripts 
Department, University Library of the University of North Carolina
Warmouth was a plantation owner and governor of Louisiana.  Archive 
folders 89, 94 and 96 contain the following: 

Folder 89: 1891: July-September: Correspondence with E. M. Halford 
and Secretary of the Treasury Charles Foster regarding appointments 
to the United States Mint in New Orleans.

Folder 94: 1892: May: Of note is correspondence and other items related 
to the administration of the United States Mint in New Orleans. A List 
of Coiners and Adjusters at the U.S. Mint dated 6 May 1892 records names 
of employees, party affiliations, and comments on work ethic.

Folder 96: 1892: 1-15 July: Correspondence mostly concerns administration 
of the United States Mint at New Orleans and Republican Party politics

To access the complete Warmoth archive listing, see: 


This week the Orange County Business Journal's OC Insider columnist 
Rick Reiff reported that "The Insider touched base with Newport Coast 
businessman and sports agent Dwight Manley. He’s working on a movie 
script with Penny Marshall, developing a reality TV show and advocating 
for jockeys (“getting minimum mount fees raised”). And friend Jesse 
Jackson was on hand at Mastro’s Ocean Club Fish House to help Manley’s 
girlfriend Bella Tatarian celebrate her birthday."  

Manley is a well known numismatist who's been discussed in The 
E-Sylum several times before.  We've also reported that actress and 
director Penny Marshall is known to be a coin collector.  Could the 
coin connection have anything to do with their getting together on 
a movie project?  Will they sneak any numismatic references into the 
script?   How about a numismatic connection in the reality show?   
If anyone has anything to report on these two projects of Manley's, 
we'd be curious to know.  For fun though, it couldn't hurt to 
speculate on possible numismatic ideas for film and TV.

One property I've always thought ripe for a film treatment is the 
story of "The Man Who Stole Portugal", possibly the world's greatest 
counterfeiting scheme. A con man who duped a British bank note printer 
into believing he was an official of the Portuguese government, Alves 
Reis obtained millions of dollars worth of real but unauthorized 
banknotes. Rather than pass them through shills and share the profits, 
he instead opened a bank and quickly undercut his competitors' rates.
Business boomed and he ALMOST got away with it.  I think it would 
make the basis for an ideal caper movie.  Does George Clooney need a 
follow-up for the Ocean's 11/12/13 etc series?

As for a numismatic reality show, why not send two teams of youngsters 
to the ANA's Summer Seminar?  Let them sign up for any courses they 
want.  Then set them loose in the numismatic marketplace with a small 
grubstake.  Who can wheel and deal their way to the top like Manley 


The Zanesville Times Recorder reported last week that "Due to the 
efforts of Harold Levi and George Correll in finding the grave site 
of Robert Lovett, Levi and Correll were enshrined in the American 
Numismatic Association Hall of Fame 2006. A plaque will be placed 
by the grave-stone of Robert Lovett, the designer of the Confederate 
cent, in McConnelsville Cemetery at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, July 14."

Harold Levi writes: "I found Robert Lovett, Jr.'s gravesite in September 
of 2004.  This was with help from Katie Jaeger.  She had a copy of the 
November 1879 obituary published in the McConnelsville Herald.  In 2005, 
George Corell and I restored Lovett's grave and those of his family.  We 
had two plaques made that are the obverse and reverse of the Confederate 
cent, which were mounted in front of Lovett's headstone.  We had a 
dedication ceremony in July of 2005.  

"Later in 2005, I wrote a nomination for Lovett to the ANA Hall of 
Fame, and George Corell seconded the nomination.  Robert Lovett was 
inducted in 2006.  Katie Jaeger and I attended the ceremony at the 
ANA Convention in Denver in August 2006.  George and I had a bronze 
plaque made to commemorate RL's induction into the Hall of Fame, 
which will be mounted on RL's grave this weekend with a small 
ceremony.  McConnelsville has their annual Civil War reenactment 
this weekend, the reason for having the dedication this weekend.  
I will wear my Confederate uniform with a red sash and sabre, I 
am a Sergeant-Major in my reenacting group."


Regarding Bill Snyder's mystery half dollar box, Tom DeLorey writes: 
"I suspect that it was something privately made for the banking trade. 
The interesting question is when. The fact that it is slightly oversized 
for a 5x5 grid of modern halves makes me wonder if perchance it was made 
for Lettered Edge halves made up until 1836."

"Five capped bust halves measure 6-3/8 inches. Five modern halves 
measure 6.0 inches. I doubt we could ever prove it was intended for 
bust halves, or a mixture of bust halves and seated halves during 
the time they circulated side by side (which, as I understand, was 
up to the Civil War), but it is a possibility. Another possibility 
is just that they wanted to leave room for the bank teller or cashier 
to dig them out of the box easily."

Bill Snyder rechecked his measurements: "Measured with a ruler (my 
calipers only extend to 150mm), the interior is basically 160mm by 
160mm.     (Divided by 25.4, one gets 6.3", a bit more than the 6.25" 
I reported earlier)!

"However, measurements at some points deviated from 160 by as much 
as 2mm +/-. That is, the width (for example) at the mid-point is not 
exactly the same as the width near either end."



Last week David Gladfelter asked, "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?"

Kenneth Bressett writes: "My guess is their listing of the Good 
Samaritan Shilling. It continued right through all 18 editions even 
though it was a well known concoction, and not a pattern or genuine 

David Gladfelter provided this answer to his question: "The reverses 
on the 1798 small eagle 15-star dollar and 13-star dollar are 
transposed in all editions. Maybe this isn't as obvious as I thought 
since both reverses have small (not heraldic) eagles."


Ron Pope writes: "David Gladfelter's information in last week's 
E-Sylum is just what I needed concerning the Wayte Raymond Standard 
Catalogs. Thanks!  Even though it is stated that none of the editions 
is particularly rare, it is my assumption that a complete set of these 
would still be tougher to assemble than a complete set of "Red Books," 
though, like many coins, the demand for the Standard Catalogue must 
certainly be much lower. Does anyone know if this is so?"

[What do our readers think?  I would tend to agree with Ron on the 
challenge of assembling a complete set of the Raymond guides.  Far 
more of the Red Books were printed.  Although the early editions are 
expensive, they do appear regularly for sale.  The challenge for 
collectors of both books is getting examples in top condition.  
These were handbooks meant to be used, and they were. -Editor]


Last I asked about the numismatic connection of Llantrisant, Wales.  
Jeff Starck of Coin World was the first to answer.  He writes: 
"Llantrisant is home to the Royal Mint."
I also asked if anyone knew the proper definition of "penultimate", 
a favorite word of Q. David Bowers who, like me, had misunderstood 
it for years. Jeff also got this correct.  He writes: "Penultimate 
means second to last, i.e., not the ultimate, but the one preceding 
the ultimate. Stack's Part 27 of the John J. Ford collection might 
be the penultimate, with Part 28 being the last. (I jest about the 
number of sales, though!)."

Joe Boling also came through with correct answers to both 


In response to Roger Burdette's query, P. Scott Rubin writes: "The 
Ohio State Numismatic Society auction of October 29, 1929 was 
catalogued by Henri E. Buck. William A. Ashbrook was the Secretary 
of the O.S.N.S.

Lot 2. Eagle. 1907 St. Gaudens, with periods one of the 500 lot, 
unc., record above $50.

Lot 377 Eagle. St Gaudens 1907, with periods 500 lot unc. Rare.
Under the heading "An Invoice from Akron, Ohio.

Lot 404 1907 $10 First issue of the St. Gaudens eagle with wire 
edge and periods. Unc. Only 500 issued. Record $50.

Lot 405 1907 $10, second issue of the St. Gauden's eagle with 
milled edge and periods.  Unc.  Mint Lustre. Only 50 issued and 
they are mostly in Museums, or the cabinets of collectors who 
are not sellers. Extremely rare, and has record of $225.

Lot 406 1907 $10, third issue, edge milled, but no periods and 
in lower relief.  The commercial coin, unc.

(note). Bids will be received for the three foregoing pieces as 
one set or seperately."

[Many thanks to past NBS President Scott Rubin for digging into 
his vast U.S. catalog archive to locate this scarce little catalog.  
E-Sylum readers come through again!  -Editor]

Jeff Reichenberger writes: "I'd like to follow up on Roger Burdette's 
inquiry about the Ashbrook sales with one of my own. Also stemming 
from my Ashbrook study, I'm looking for any information about a 
collection of gold coins, possibly a consignment, from the name 
Edward Bringhurst of Wilmington, DE, or from his daughter, Mrs. 
Galt Smith. Unfortunately, I can only speculate an approximate range 
of the decades 1920 to 1950 that these coins may have surfaced in 
a sale or auction, if at all. Any such information would be 
greatly appreciated.
"In addition, I am self-publishing a short run of my manuscript on 
the Ashbrook diaries in pamphlet form. Entitled: Charter Legacy, 
Numismatic chronicle from the diaries of William A. Ashbrook 1905 - 
1920; it covers an interesting period in numismatics from the 
Congressman's point of view as Chairman of the House Coinage Committee, 
the ANA and it's Federal Charter, as well as some national historic 
events. I anticipate completion in a few weeks. If anyone is interested 
in receiving a copy, I'd be pleased to send one for the cost of postage. 
Just send me a mailing address. jkreichenberger at"


[Thanks also to Jeff for sharing his research in Ashbrook's diaries.  
I've already requested my copy. -Editor]


Howard Daniel writes: "I am researching the origin of the Socialist 
Republic of Viet Nam 100 Dong 1997 KM-60 silver non-circulating legal 
tender coin.  It is the only one known to me without the National Seal 
of Viet Nam, so I started to look into it.  At first, I assumed it 
was minted by the Havana Mint in Cuba but through several contacts, 
the Hungarian Mint Ltd (Magyar Penzveryo Rt.) was suggested to me.

"I could not find the Hungarian Mint on the web but I did find their 
national bank.  I sent an email to their "info" and requested it be 
forwarded to the mint.  It was, and I received a reply from Ms 
Zsuzsanna Asztalos.  After another email, she forwarded all of the 
technical details to me.  This was the first great response from a 
mint in a VERY long time.  The website is at and 
Zsuzsanna's email is Asztalosza at  She can also put you 
in contact with the coin shop in the national bank in Budapest.

"My previous information was that Paramount International Inc. in 
Orlando, Florida created the set of coins this coin was part of.  
It was called the UNESCO Children of the World Set with about 25 
coins in it.  All were dated in the mid-1990s.  But Zsuzsanna told 
me Spink in London originated the order for the Vietnamese coin.

"The Modern Coin Department of Spink has been sold since this coin 
was minted and further information about it was not available at Spink.  
So I contacted the buyer, ATS Bullion of London, and they said a Geoff 
Kitchem of GMCC Ltd. now has all of the information.  His email did 
not work for me and I am hoping someone reading The E-Sylum knows him 
or how to contact him so I can continue my research.  I can be 
contacted at HADaniel3 at"


Steve Butler writes: "I am looking for the prices realized for the 
Harmer Rooke 'A Million Dollar Sale' of November 17, 1969.  I have 
not been able to locate it -  neither the American Numismatic 
Association library or any of the other coin & book dealers I 
contacted have it."

The sale contained seven sessions, over six days. The fourth session 
was Civil War Tokens & Masonic Pennies from the Virgil Brand collection. 
Being a collector of CWT's, I am always researching any token I purchase 
as to origin.  I just purchased a token sold in that auction and the 
seller included the original receipt.  The catalog I already own, but 
I'd like to learn the selling price of the lot. Thanks in advance."


Monday morning brought this nice note from Jim Duncan of New Zealand.  
He writes: "Your letters from London are excellent.  Just like "Letter 
from America" by broadcaster Alistair Cooke!   Keep up the fantastic 
work - numismatic and otherwise."
I've gotten a number of great compliments on my London diaries.  
Thanks to all for their interest and support.  I'll do my best to 
keep them coming. I actually didn't think I'd get much numismatic 
activity in this week, but on Tuesday I was able to sneak away at 
lunchtime and set off toward Spink.  

Founded in 1666 by John Spink as a goldsmith and pawnbroker shop, 
it narrowly escaped destruction when the Great Fire of London swept 
through the City.  By 1770 Spink and Sons had developed a jewellery 
and coin dealing business.  In the 1880s Spink purchased the Soho 
Mint in central London and started to design and produce medals.  
The company now holds three royal warrants for medal services to 
Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Prince of Wales.  
These are the three crown logos that adorn the company's business 
cards and letterhead.

In 2000 Spink moved to a renovated four story building at 69 Southampton 
Row  in Bloomsbury.  I'd heard from several of my London contacts that 
Spink had invested a great deal in their facility, and this was easily 
confirmed by simply stepping through the front door.  The lobby alone 
was spacious, far larger than any mere coin shop.  More typical in the 
high-priced real estate market of London was the tiny shop of Colin 
Narbeth and Sons, a single small room shared with another dealer.  A 
dozen Narbeth shops would fit in the Spink lobby alone.

Off to the left was a large display of numismatic literature for sale, 
both new titles and used and antiquarian works, case after case, floor 
to ceiling.  A freestanding case exhibited an antiquarian numismatic 
work. Beyond was a wide showroom, dim, but with spot lighting 
highlighting exhibits and counter space.  On the left wall were 
glass exhibit cases displaying numismatic items of all kinds, including 
coins, medals and paper money.  There was a nice set of Palestinian 
Mandate banknotes I'd never seen before.  Here too, in the center of 
the room was a freestanding exhibit case with more numismatic items. 
On the right was a counter with chairs.  A salesman talked with a 
client.  They seemed lost in the huge room.

I walked back toward the front door and stepped up to the reception 
desk.  My mission was to visit Philip Skingley, head of Spink's 
Publications Department.  We'd met briefly at the meeting of the 
British Numismatic Society on 22 May.  I'd been wanting to visit for 
some time.  Due to the rescheduling of a planned meeting I had some 
time over lunch.  This visit was completely unplanned and I hoped 
to surprise him.  Surprise! - he wasn't in.  

The receptionist informed me that Philip was at the warehouse, 
where all their modern publications are stored and shipped.  But 
she called up Philip's assistant Catherine Gathercole and handed 
the phone to me.  I introduced myself and apologized for the 
unscheduled visit.  She was quite helpful and offered to come speak 
with me.  Within minutes we met and she was showing me around the 
book department.

First we reviewed the works for sale on the lobby shelves.  I pointed 
out a copy of the 2004 Anniversary issue of The Asylum, noting that I 
edited the electronic companion, The E-Sylum.  Next she showed me an 
upstairs room lined with more shelves of books.   Time was getting 
short, and I didn't want to overstay my welcome.  I accepted her gift 
- a copy of the 2006 edition of Coins of England.  I'd mentioned that
I was interested in getting a copy to learn more about the modern 
coins I was seeing in circulation, and perhaps learn how to recognize 
genuine examples from the counterfeits.  I thanked her again and 
made plans to read it on my flight home Thursday.

Before leaving Spink I took the lift to the basement auction room 
where a sale of musical instruments was going on.  Another auction 
firm uses the Spink space when available.   Some fifty bidders of 
several nationalities crowded the room.  On tables beyond a number 
of violins and other stringed instruments were displayed.  The 
auctioneer called the lots from the front of the room, and along 
a side wall were arrayed several assistants representing phone 
and internet bidders.  Three Japanese men huddled over a catalog, 
consulting on bids.

Feeling like an interloper, I stayed only a few minutes and was 
soon on the street heading back to the office.  I amused myself 
by reading the names of businesses along the way.  I chuckled at 
the sign of "Moon, Beever, Solicitors".   I picked up a boxed 
salad at a street vendor, and rushed back to the office.  Enough 
numismatic fun for now - tomorrow's another day.

When Wednesday dawned I faced little but the prospect of work.  
I donned my suit for a planned afternoon meeting.  But as luck 
would have it I wouldn't need to attend, allowing for a bit of slack 
in my schedule.   Having completed a good number of tasks before noon, 
I made a phone call.  Dialing the number of Dix Noonan Webb, I asked 
for Peter Preston-Morley.

I'd never met him, but a couple years earlier I'd recommended to Mary 
Ann Spence, widow of my late friend Dr. David Spence, that she contact 
Peter and other dealers about the sale of David's Conder token collection. 
David and I were members of Sphinx, a Pittsburgh-area coin club founded 
in 1960 by Ray Byrne.  Mary Ann talked with a number of dealers, and 
eventually settled on Dix Noonan Webb.  They sold David's collection 
in two sales.

Peter was busy at lunchtime, but offered to see me around 2pm.  I brought 
in lunch and finished a few more tasks.  About 1:45 I set out on foot.  
Soon I was passing through Piccadilly Circus, then past the Ritz Hotel.  
Along the way a Middle Eastern woman motioned to me and pointed to the 
baby she was pushing in a pram.  She didn't seem to speak English (or 
wanted me to think that).  She gestured again and held out a hand filled 
with coins. She was begging for change.  I didn't quite know what to do; 
if it was a scam she'd found a despicable prop.  I felt a bit guilty but 
moved on.  But my journey got stranger yet.  Just past Bond Street, a 
tall young man in a suit looked toward me, opened his arms and said, 
"Sir, Let's become friends!".  I thought, "You're in Mayfair pal, Soho's 
the other way," thinking of the neighborhood close to our office known 
for its gay bars and entertainment. I wish I'd said it, but by then I'd 
motored far past him and was still quickening the pace.  I arrived at 
DNW just about 2pm.

The Dix Noonan Webb office is in a row of classic London homes on 
Bolton Street off Green Park, which leads to Buckingham Palace.  After 
ringing the bell the door unlocked and I stepped inside.  The front 
parlour held a reception desk.  I asked for Peter and browsed through 
a set of DNW auction catalogs while waiting.

Soon Peter came downstairs to greet me, and we stepped into a nearby 
room to talk.  Lined with book shelves, the room held a library of 
biographies and many years worth of government publications such as 
The Army List and The Navy List - all useful for cataloging military 
medals and decorations.

I had told Peter I was a friend of the Spences, but he assumed I was 
a family friend - he didn't know I was a fellow numismatist.  We ended 
up talking for about half an hour.  I told him about The Sphinx Society.  
We talked about David and fellow Sphinx member Charlie Litman, who 
helped David acquire the core of his Conder collection from a collector 
in the Boston area.  

We also talked about the sale of the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh's 
numismatic collection.  I was only a budding numismatist at the time 
the sale was announced (1978), when I was taken under the wing of 
Glenn Mooney and his fellow members of the Western Pennsylvania 
Numismatic Society.  We also talked of Glenn's friend and mentor, 
William W. Woodside.  

At the time of the Spink Carnegie Museum sales Peter was with Spink 
and cataloged parts of the collection, including the encased postage 
stamps.  I had let him know about my interest in U.S. Encased Postage 
Stamps, and he noted that the Carnegie collection was a superb 

By an unfortunate happenstance, the U.S. encased pieces were sold 
by Spink in London, a terrible venue for the collection.  They had 
been included with a large group of material shipped to London.  
They would have sold much better in New York, but the mistake was 
to my benefit.  I told Peter that I'd bid in the sale though a 
dealer, and had gotten a great bargain on one of the pieces. 

I noted that when Glenn Mooney died I'd helped the family liquidate 
his coin collection.  Along with the collection were some numismatic 
books, including a ledger of Bill Woodside's collection that his 
widow had given to Glenn.  I placed it in a George Kolbe sale where 
it brought over $2,000, more than any single coin in the collection.  
The thick binder held rubbings and provenance data on Woodside's 
coins. Peter said that over the years a number of Woodside's collections 
had come to market and while cataloguers knew that some of the pieces 
had come from prominent collections, they were at a loss because of 
the lack of documentation.  It's a shame that the information had 
gotten diverted, but at least the ledger survived and could perhaps 
be of use to researchers in the future.

Our time had come to an end, but before I left Peter gave me a present.  
I'd mentioned my recent acquisition of Operation Bernhard notes from 
Simon Narbeth, so Peter dug out a copy of the 16 March 2006 DNW sale 
of British and World Banknotes, which included a very comprehensive 
collection of these notes formed over many years by a knowledgeable 
collector.  Simon had attended the sale, and perhaps some of my 
notes had come from this collection - I'll try to follow up.  I 
walked back to the office, this time uneventfully.

On Thursday I flew back to the U.S. for a weekend visit with my family.  
I read through much of Coins of England and parts of Burn's 'A Descriptive 
Catalogue of the London Traders, Taverns, and Coffee-House Tokens Issued 
in the Seventeenth Century'.  The original 1853 book I'd purchased from 
Douglas Saville is probably not what one would typically see on a flight 
across the Atlantic.  I also typed up the bulk of this diary entry and 
watched all or part of three movies (it's a loooong flight).  I’d highly 
recommend two of the films for viewing.  "Amazing Grace" is the true 
story of the fight to abolish slavery in England, and "The Illusionist" 
is an excellent fictional mystery/love story featuring a talented magician 
in turn-of-the-20th-century Vienna.

It was great to see my family again.  On Saturday my wife and I made 
an overnight trip to Alexandria, VA (along the Potomac River near 
Washington, D.C.) to celebrate our recent 10th wedding anniversary.  
We had a nice dinner at the Union Street Public House and walked past 
Gadsby's Tavern on North Royal Street, a favorite haunt of George and 
Martha Washington - his birthday parties were held there until his death.  

We took a carriage tour around town (more of a donkey cart, actually) 
and saw a couple numismatic landmarks. The Old Dominion Bank Building 
on Prince Street is a fine unaltered example of Classical Revival 
architecture.  It closed in 1862 when Union forces took over the city.  
The cashier buried the bank's assets, keeping the institution solvent 
during the war.  We also saw the Bank of Alexandria on North Fairfax 
Street.  Founded in 1792, George Washington was one of the bank's 
directors.  It failed during the panic of 1834, but the building again 
houses a bank today.  I enjoyed imagining the interesting numismatic 
items that must have passed through the banks' tills in those early 
days of the country.

That's all the numismatic activity for this week.  I've been signing 
much of my email "Cheerio from London" recently, but I can't say that 
today.  This note is coming from U.S. soil.  But by the time many of 
you read this I'll be on my way back to London and hoping to find 
time for some more numismatic adventures.  Stay tuned, everyone.

To visit the Spink web site, see: 

To visit the Dix Noonan Webb web site, see:


A coin collection theft has British newspapers buzzing.  

"One of Britain's most important historic coin collections has been 
stolen from the home of a former government minister. 

"Antique coins worth more than half a million pounds, including one 
struck under the reign of Robert the Bruce, 900 years ago, were taken 
in the raid. 

"Police believe around 1,000 coins, collected over more than 50 
years, were removed from the home of Lord and Lady Stewartby in 
Broughton, in the Scottish Borders. 

"Nick Holmes, curator of numismatics at the National Museums of 
Scotland, added: “It has always been made available as a resource 
for people researching coins and to lose so many coins from this 
period is a tragedy. 

"“Of course, for poor Ian this must be awful and he has devoted 
more than half a entry to this collection.

"“He is the acknowledged expert in this field and is the one we 
all turn to when we want to know something.” Lydia Pretzlik, 38, 
the Tory peer's daughter, said he was devastated by the loss. 

"The theft happened a month ago but police only released details 
of the incident yesterday." 

To read the complete article, see:

John Andrew forwarded a BBC article on the theft: "Nick Holmes, 
senior curator in numismatics at the National Museums of Scotland, 
said the theft had dealt a devastating blow to the study of historic 
coins in Scotland. 

"He added: 'In terms of that period, Lord Stewartby had more coins 
in his collection than the National Museums of Scotland have. 

"He had managed to collect a number of very rare pieces which 
were previously unknown. 

"It wouldn't be putting it mildly to say that this theft has put 
the study of numismatics back 50 years because if the collection 
is not recovered all of the work Lord Stewartby has put in over 
the past half century will be lost.'" 

To read the complete article, see: 

Dr. Ute Wartenberg Kagan also forwarded an article, this one 
from The Herald: 

Dick Johnson forwarded this article from the daily record:

The Financial Times also chimed in on the theft: 

[The Scotsman's web site allows reader comments, and they picked 
up on the reporters' error in stating that Robert the Bruce reigned 
900 years ago:  "So Robert the Bruce reigned 900 years ago, did he?" 
"Robert the Bruce, was King of Scots from 1306 until his death in 
1329. 1329 subtracted from 2007 = 678. Does that look like 900 to 

"Mr. Stewartby's collection is so well known and catalogued that 
selling this stuff is going to be difficult and whatever is sold 
will most likely eventually be identified as stolen - even 20, 80, 
200 years from now. This theft just goes to show the follow of 
keeping highly valuable items at home, especially when their presence 
there is so widely known among the collecting fraternity..."

To read the complete Scotsman article, see: 


On Tuesday the Rocky Mountain News reported an incident near the U.S. 
Mint in Denver: "A man with an ice pick stabbed a young woman today as 
she was walking to the Denver courthouse. With their guns drawn, Denver 
sheriff’s deputies caught the alleged attacker as he attempted to flee, 
Sgt. Frank Gale, the sheriff’s spokesman, said. 

"Deputies said they don’t believe the alleged assailant and his victim 
knew each other, and investigators were trying to figure out a motive 
for the assault, the sergeant said. 

"Gale said the stabbing occurred about 10:30 a.m. in the 1400 block 
of Cherokee Street, between the U.S. Mint and the courthouse. 

To read the complete article, see:,1299,DRMN_15_5622125,0


According to a press release this week, "The United States Mint 
announced ... that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Jr., has appointed 
Arthur A. Houghton, III, to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee 

"Mr. Houghton, who was selected as the CCAC member appointed to serve 
by virtue of his qualifications as a numismatic curator, will serve a 
four-year term. His experience includes tenure as Associate Curator 
and acting Curator-in-Charge at the J. Paul Getty Museum from 1982 to 
1986, where he gained national recognition for his role in building 
the museum’s extensive collection of antiquities, including its early 
collection of ancient coins. Mr. Houghton has authored or co-authored 
four books and more than 50 articles on ancient coins, history and 

"Mr. Houghton served as president of the American Numismatic Society 
(ANS) from 1995 to 1999. He was also president of the consulting firm 
Arthur Houghton Associates, Inc., from 1995 to 2000. Currently, Mr. 
Houghton serves on the boards of the Corning Museum of Glass, American 
Near East Refugee Aid and the ANS. 

To read the complete press release, see:


Dick Johnson forwarded the latest story in the saga of Odyssey Marine's 
latest salvage effort:

"The Spanish Civil Guard has intercepted a boat operated by a US company 
amid a row over treasure from a shipwreck. The guard had been ordered by 
a Spanish judge to seize the vessel as soon as it left the British colony 
of Gibraltar. 

"Gibraltar officials and Odyssey Marine Exploration, which owns the ship, 
said Spain had boarded the ship illegally as it was in international 

"In May, Odyssey said it had found $500m (£253m) in coins from a 17th 
Century wreck somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. 

"Madrid suspects the sunken galleon may either have been Spanish or 
have gone down in Spanish waters." 

To read the complete article, see:


A question-and-answer style interview in the Daily Breeze of 
California spotlights Peter Yeung of Panda America.

"When Peter Yeung was about 10 years old, his cousin gave him a rare 
coin. That helped spark a passion for coins that lasts to this day. 
Yeung, 40, is president and co-owner of Torrance coin trader Panda 
America. The Torrance resident has owned the shop with his partner, 
Kitty Quan, since 2005.

"Growing up in Pasadena, Yeung would visit his local bank to exchange 
dollar bills for rolls of pennies. Then he would sift through the piles 
of pennies in search of valuable coins, using a collector's book as 
a reference.

"He would return the ordinary pennies to the bank for bills and keep 
the more valuable coins. The next day, he would return to the bank 
to exchange the bills for more pennies.

"By ninth grade, Yeung was working part time at a coin shop. His 
passion led him to skip school on many Fridays. He started traveling
to coin shows in Las Vegas and New York.

"What challenges do you face?

"Helping all the government mints around the world sell as many 
coins as possible. Each country issues more and more variants of 
coins. It's like car manufacturers. They don't want to sell just 
one model. They want to sell many models.

"What foreign country mints the most popular coins?

"China. They're the most popular, and they have the best long-term 
value. They have a growing population and a very large collecting 
base. The Chinese are savers in general. Collecting stamps and 
coins is a huge hobby in China.  They've got a large secondary market 
to keep the values.

"Who are your customers?

Mostly people in their mid-30s and up. Collecting coins has always 
been referred to as a king's hobby in the old days. Traditionally, 
it's been doctors, lawyers, people with high incomes. Now we're 
finding a lot of people who are middle income. Because of the 
explosion of the Internet, it has made collecting coins a lot 

"What's your favorite coin?
"It's a U.S. coin from 1796, a $2.50 gold piece.

"What's the best part of your job?

"Having people bring coins that they thought had no value and 
having me tell them it's of great value. Once in awhile, it's 
like telling people they've won a small lottery. It's satisfying 
to be able to help people.

"What's the worst part of your job?

"The opposite of that. Telling people their coins are not worth 
anything, that their pennies are just regular pennies.

To read the complete article, see:  


Regarding last week's item on the proposed abolition of the Canadian 
cent coin, Michael Schmidt writes: "If that .7 cent figure doesn't 
include the shipping cost then they do need to go ahead and discontinue 
the cent.  815 million coins is 81.5 million dollars.  At .7 cents each 
they cost 57 million dollars to make, and shipping is 33 million for a 
total cost of 90 million dollars for 81 million dollars worth of coins.  
Can politicians do simple math?  Of do we need to explain it to them 
in language like that used in tax legislation?"



Dick Johnson writes: "Thank you, Tim Shuck, for your comments on 
eliminating small coin denominations in last week’s E-Sylum. In answer 
to your scenarios of purchases of 20 cents (or 60 or 70 cents) where 
you have only quarters, you would lose the five cents. That is part 
of the “rounding up or rounding down” in the “rounding off” process 
where the smallest coin is a dime. (I like what the Canadians call 
the final transaction price, the “tally amount.”)

"Five cents is a minor amount – and it would only be for a short time 
– until all prices are established in multiples of ten cents. Today 
the average factory worker earns $88 a day. Five cents is one-1,760th 
part of a day’s wage. Not that much to get upset over. That factory 
worker earns five cents in one and a half seconds. Rather 
insignificant loss, wouldn’t you say? (Did you buy a lottery ticket 
today? Far greater loss!)

"For the frugal person, Tim’s proposed transaction would be better 
accommodated be proffering two quarters or a dollar to obtain the 
exact change.

"Eliminating the cent and nickel is the first step to a complete 
overhaul of our coins. The quarter would indeed be eliminated a few 
years later but must remain in circulation because there would not 
be enough half dollars around at first. Halves would take on far 
more importance under this plan. The mint would strike halves on 
presses that formerly struck cents and nickels. Meantime the quarters 
would circulate in pairs.

"Tim, your sights are not raised high enough in suggesting a 20-cent 
piece. (It would shortly go the way of the same coin of last century 
or the 2-cent piece – abolishment – because it does not have that 
much usefulness in the overall scheme of the rising economy.)

"To understand all this I must reveal more of my plan for Future Coins. 
Here are the coin denominations for the greatest efficiency in American 
commerce in the coming years after, say, 2010:

"Dime. Half Dollar. Dollar. Five Dollar. Ten Dollar.

"There is an optimum number of coin denominations for the most 
efficient cash commerce. Think of it as the number of coin compartments 
in a cash register drawer. Four denominations is too few. Six or more 
is too many, as so many European countries have learned after switching 
over to the euro with all their fractional denominations. Low 
denomination coins in Europe are proving unnecessary – some merchants 
are even refusing them – five coin denominations are the most ideal 

"Obviously we do not have enough high denomination coins in America, 
and coins below ten cents are unnecessary in a dynamic, growing 
American economy. We cannot keep on issuing the same low value coins 
of 200 years ago when bread was a nickel, and today is several dollars. 
The cent and the nickel are just unnecessary in the 21st century, as 
was a mill coin in the 19th century.

"You may say the dollar has been devalued over 200 years but this is 
countered as earnings have risen. It is relative. Eliminating the 
small denominations would save billions, however! 

"If I get enough inquiries asking about these proposed coins I will 
reveal some characteristics about these coins in a future E-Sylum: 
Size, Composition, Color and Why.  Email editor Wayne Homren or me 
at dick.johnson at

"This is what you will be collecting in the future, our Future Coins. 
Are you interested?"


Dick Johnson writes: "'In India, where the steel in their rupees 
can be sold for up to 35 times that [face] amount, India's has 
deployed a paramilitary force along their border with Bangladesh 
to prevent coin smuggling. Like most governments, India also makes 
it illegal to introduce substitute currency.' So comes the news 
from India, reported this week in the blog "Hodakvalue," on the 
"Rising costs of the metals in coins is affecting nations worldwide. 
Apparently the most rampant coin melting for their composite metal 
value is in Bangladesh. Next-door neighbor India is vulnerable. The 
same report gives some comments about the stringent coin situations 
in India:
"'In Calcutta alone, India's central bank - the Reserve Bank of 
India - has distributed coins worth nearly six million rupees 
($150,000) to overcome the shortage in the last two weeks, bank 
treasurer Nilanjan Saha said.' 

"'Long queues form outside the bank's regional office in the 
city centre every time this happens.'

"'Unscrupulous touts set up makeshift shops and collect as many 
of the coins as they can, only to sell them later at a premium.'

"Nations don't seem to realize that rationing coin distribution 
-- or hiding from the situation -- won't solve the problem. It 
won't go away and the cost of the metals are surely going to rise.

"The solution is to eliminate small denomination coins, strike 
coins of higher denomination and round off transaction prices above 
the value of those low-denomination coins. This is necessary for 
large and small countries as well. The longer they wait, Treasury 
officials will find even greater problems.

"Here's the report from India "Preventing the flight of pennies 
with armed  border guards":


OK, it's not even remotely numismatic, but here's a joke for this 
week, about a theft in New Zealand:

"Police in New Zealand were mystified by the apparent theft of a 
complete toilet bowl from a police station in Auckland.

"When a local news reporter asked the police sergeant if they had 
any leads, he replied, 'At present we have nothing to go on.'"

Credit this one to the Good Clean Funnies list:


This is also non-numismatic, but perhaps bibliophiles will appreciate 
this story from Meadville, about 90 miles north of Pittsburgh.  While 
demolishing an old library building, "A 1,500-pound wrecking ball 
broke loose from a crane cable and raced downhill, smashing into 
several cars and injuring three people before coming to rest in the 
trunk of a car at an intersection Monday. 

"The wrecking ball, about 3 feet across, was being used to demolish 
part of a library at Allegheny College when the cable snapped, police 
said. The crane operator tried to stop it, but it rolled nearly three-
quarters of a mile downhill, damaging more than a dozen vehicles as 
it bounced from curb to curb, police said. 

"The ball lodged in the trunk of a car, pushing the vehicle about 
20 feet."

To read the complete Associated Press article, see:,,-6768784,00.html 


This week's featured web site features Chinese Sycee coinage.  It 
was highlighted by Numismatic News' Tom Michael in a blog post this 
week on Milled Chinese Coins.  The site pictures cast sycee, 
chopmarked coins and other Chinese numismatic and financial 

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

There is a membership application available on the web site 
at this address: 

To join, print the application and return it with your check 
to the address printed on the application. Membership is only 
$15 to addresses in the U.S., $20 elsewhere.  For those without 
web access, write to:

David M. Sundman, Secretary/Treasurer
Numismatic Bibliomania Society, 
P. O. Box 82 Littleton, NH 03561

For Asylum mailing address changes and other membership 
questions, contact David at this email address: 
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