The E-Sylum v10#29, July 22, 2007
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Sun Jul 22 16:21:24 PDT 2007
Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 10, Number 29, July 22, 2007:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2007, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
WAYNE'S WORDS: THE E-SYLUM 22 JULY, 2007
Among our recent subscribers are Dan Griffin and Howard Cohen.
Welcome aboard! We now have 1,157 subscribers.
No more Wayne's Word's this week - there are too many of them
already in the London Diary. While I was off having my numismatic
adventures this weekend, several emails and new submissions arrived,
but too late for this issue. I'll respond tomorrow and will work
the submissions into next week's issue. Have a great week, everyone!
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
MOULTON HENRY VOIGHT BOOK NOW AVAILABLE
Karl Moulton's long awaited "Henry Voigt and Others Involved in
America's Early Coinage" will be available for purchase at the
American Numismatic Association 2007 convention in Milwaukee next
Karl Moulton writes: "This 230 plus page, hardbound book describes
in detail the history and drama of the first United States Mint.
It outlines the problems the people who worked there encountered
in producing the coinage that was so needed and wanted. Many
original source documents from the National Archives were utilized.
The 1792 issues are well chronicled by letters from President
George Washington, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, and Mint
Director David Rittenhouse. Those coins were not patterns, but
rather were the first circulating federal currency made after the
Mint Act of April 2, 1792, was signed into law by President
Washington. A color picture of the finest 1792 half disme
previously owned by David Rittenhouse is displayed on the front
Subjects include Henry Voigt's involvement with steam engines,
numerous pages from his 1793 daily U.S. Mint work ledger, the 1793
Yellow Fever epidemic, America's first coin dealer, the 1796
Quarters, John Reich, Electrotypes, the "E" and "L" counterstamped
quarters, and one titled "Modern Misinformation" (of which there
has been plenty).
Many illustrations found in the Henry Voigt book have never been
seen in any other numismatic text. Some of these include Patience
Wright and the 1793 Liberty Cap Cent, Mint Treasurer Tristram
Dalton and pages from his 1793 account ledger, the U.S. Mint's
1792 coinage expenses, a visitor register page with Adam Eckfeldt's
signature, David Rittenhouse's 1794 silver ingot deposits (these
were made into 1794 dollars), and a wonderful 1795 portrait of
Anne Bingham (the model seen on the Draped Bust coinage) done
by artist Gilbert Stuart.
Respected numismatist and author Q. David Bowers wrote the foreword.
Some of his comments include, "Henry Voigt and Others Involved with
America's Early Coinage is a tour de force...this is the finest
first-person (so to speak) account I have read on the subject...I
learned a lot while reading this book, correcting many impressions
I had earlier."
This historically important book was published by the Cardinal
Collection Educational Foundation, which supports research and
publications about early American money.
Copies of this 6x9 book will be available for $79. ppd. Checks
should be made payable to CCEF. For those unable to attend the
ANA this year, we will ship them out after returning from the ANA
show. For further information and ordering addresses, please
check www.coincats.com or www.Earlyuscoins.org.
As a treat for the dedicated bibliophile, plans are in the works
for a deluxe leatherbound, large paper, and extra illustrated
version to be ready later this year. Stay tuned."
BOOK REVIEW: THE AUTHORITATIVE REFERENCE ON BUFFALO NICKELS, SECOND EDITION
I've been far behind on my book reviewing duties since I've
come to London. My library is far away and it's difficult to
bring many books along for the trip. But this week I take a
look at the 2007 Second edition of "The Authoritative Reference
on Buffalo Nickels" by John Wexler, Ron Pope and Kevin Flynn.
Multi-author books are something I'm typically wary of - it takes
the vision of a single lead author to pull a publishing project
together. But most books of value are the product of multiple
contributors, and when contributors have a particularly large
role it's only fair to extend authorship credit. The book also
has a two-page Acknowledgements section crediting (among many
others) Roger Burdette, Ken Bressett, Dave Bowers, Tom DeLorey,
David Lange, Bill Fivaz and John Dannreuther.
It is interesting (and not at all unusual in numismatics) that
the contributors include authors of competing books on the series
(David Lange and Dave Bowers). I don't have the Lange Buffalo
Nickel book with me, nor do I have the 1st edition of the Wexler
book, so I'm at a disadvantage here. But I did manage to squeeze
a copy of the softbound Bowers "A Guide Book of Buffalo and
Jefferson Nickels" into my luggage for comparison, even though
it doesn't have the same focus on die varieties.
Both editions of the Wexler book focus on Buffalo nickel die
varieties. According to the introduction to the second edition
one new feature is a date-by-date analysis of the series. Also
new to this edition are a number of new varieties.
The second edition has a 2007 copyright date, but population totals
provided by grading services PCGS and NGC are copyrighted 2005 and
may be outdated. Red Book values are shown in the date-by-date
section. The copyright date is not mentioned and perhaps these
are outdated as well.
With any book on die varieties, the quality of the photos is
paramount. I'll give the book a "B" on this score - the photos
are generally good, but some are a bit fuzzy. All of them could
benefit from a better glossy paper stock.
If I were to sum up the differences in quality and size of photos
between the Zyrus-published Wexler book and the Whitman-published
Bowers book, I'd use a restaurant analogy - the food is OK, but
the portions! The Wexler book has lesser quality photo printing,
but far more photos, and most are a good bit larger. Now remember,
the Bowers book isn't focused on varieties and doesn't require as
many photos. But I did find the larger photos of the Wexler book
(particularly in the date-by-date section) much more satisfying.
In the Whitman book, the photos are smaller and the details are
harder to see. As my wife would say, maybe I'm just getting old...
Another peeve with the production quality of the Wexler book is
that the perfect-bound covers lack a scoring line. This detail
would be overlooked by many, but it's present in the Whitman
books and evidence of a higher production standard.
There's not a lot of reading material in the Wexler book, although
it does have some good essays on proof issues and cameo or satin
strikes, and a couple chapters explaining die varieties in general
and doubled dies in particular. But if I'm not mistaken this same
general text appears in Flynn books on other coin series, so it's
nothing new for readers with access to those other titles.
Despite its shortcomings I would certainly recommend the book for
any specialist in Buffalo Nickel varieties. But for historical
background and any other information beyond varieties, be sure to
have the Lange and Bowers books on your shelf as well.
For more information, see the publisher's web site at:
BOOK REVIEW: BUFFALO NICKELS: THE ABRADED DIE VARIETIES BY RON POPE
Ron Pope is an E-Sylum subscriber and co-author of "The Authoritative
Reference on Buffalo Nickels" reviewed above. He was kind enough to
send me a copy of his own self-published book, "Buffalo Nickels: The
Abraded Die Varieties", now in its fifth printing (June 2007). The
softcovered, spiral-bound 204-page book covers in great detail the
sub-specialty of Buffalo Nickel varieties "produced by abrading or
polishing of the die(s)."
Pope notes that "The elimination of clash marks is the commonly
accepted reason for the abrading of the dies, but otherwise good
dies that have suffered from rust certainly can't be ruled out.
This is the possible explanation for the 1937-D 3 legged variety
(this was first theorized nearly forty years ago in one volume of
'The Whitman Numismatic Journal')"
The book is printed on a flat-finished paper, and like the Wexler
book it could benefit from a higher quality glossy paper stock.
But nonetheless the photos seem quite good. Many of the coins are
illustrated with enlarged photos augmented with black arrows pointing
out the key diagnostic areas. Creating these photos must have been
a very painstaking and time-consuming task, and the book greatly
benefits from the effort. I was also quite impressed with the nearly
full-page photos of two different die clashed obverses (p10-11).
Pope's book is very well organized and his attention to detail is
obvious. The book includes a date-by-date strike analysis "based
on the author's observation of over 150,000 coins on the Internet
and from other personal observations."
As with the Wexler book, I would recommend Pope's book to any
specialist in Buffalo Nickel varieties. Further, I would recommend
it as a model for other books in the genre. Pope's detailed,
annotated photos and methodical record keeping are commendable.
My only suggestions for improvement are minor - other than an
improved paper stock, I would recommend experimenting with a
different typeface to soften the computer-printout look.
To order the Abraded Die book contact author Ron Pope at
coinquest_sixtyone at yahoo.com - he prints them on demand.
The price is $16.50 + $3 shipping.
ROBERT DUPHORNE AND THE 'OTHER' BUST QUARTER BOOK
Members of the John Reich Collectors Society receive the group's
quarterly publication, the John Reich Journal. I picked up my copy
on my visit home last weekend. One of the featured articles is
"Robert Duphorne and the 'Other' Bust Quarter Book." by Louis
Scuderi. The eight-page article is a trove of information on this
relatively obscure title. I've had a copy in my library for years
but never knew much about the author, and I doubt that any bibliophile
knew much until now.
Scuderi purchased a copy of the Duphorne book at the 1996 American
Numismatic Association convention. The book was published in 1975
and had been disparaged by Walter Breen and others. For example,
Karl Moulton has written that "Bergen lent his notes about corrections
and new varieties not listd in the original Browning work to R.
Duphorne for his rather worthless book about Early Quarter Dollars
that was published in 1975. If Mr. Duphorne does indeed exist, he
has never come forth to accept the credit or blame for this
Through a chance discussion with a coin dealer, Scuderi learned
that Duphorne was from Albuquerque, NM. Since that's where Scuderi
lives too, he pulled out the phone book and found a listing for a
Robert Duphorne. After a number of failed attempts, he finally
reached the octogenarian author. Bob had specialized in collecting
bust quarters and in the early 1970s he decided that the 50th
anniversary of the publication of Browning's book would be a fine
time for a new reference on the topic.
Some 90% of the coins pictured in the book were from his own
collection, which he'd pieced together primarily by searching
dealer stocks, augmented with an occasional auction purchase.
The book was a compilation of all the information Duphorne had
gathered on the series.
Since Duphorne did his collecting outside of the mainstream numismatic
scene, "his book came as somewhat of a surprise and was viewed with
some suspicion. However, in terms of his use of attribution information,
he was far ahead of what was normally used in 1975 for capped bust
silver. His obverse and reverse identification charts ... contain
information that is now commonly found in the newer books..."
"Since Robert Duphorne was such an unknown in numismatic circles,
it was easy for a few comments on the part of Walter Breen to color
the views of subsequent collectors. It is also quite clear that
Breen's dismissal of the D92 coin was based on a conversation that
[Congratulations to Scuderi and JRCS on a great article. What
other outside-the-mainstream numismatic authors are out there
awaiting discovery? Can anyone suggest other mystery writer
worth researching? -Editor]
GLEANINGS FROM RECENT NUMISMATIC PERIODICALS
In recent weeks a number of interesting items have been published
in the numismatic press; there's not enough time or space to cover
them all in detail, but I'll summarize a number of them - please
comment if you have something you'd like to add to the discussion.
ROBERT LOVETT GRAVESTONE PLAQUE DEDICATION REPORT
Last week we excerpted a report from the Zanesville Times Recorder
about the recent dedication of an American Numismatic Association
Hall of Fame plaque for Robert Lovett, Jr. Harold Levi was there
for the ceremony and sends us this report. He writes:
"A bronze plaque was made to commemorate Robert Lovett, Jr.s
induction into the Hall of Fame, which was mounted forward of the
headstone between the two halves of the Confederate cent. The July
14, 2007 dedication ceremony was attended by the President of the
Ohio Department of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, members
of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Civil War reenactors, and
"At the dedication, George Corell gave a short history of our work.
I explained that RL was inducted into the Hall of Fame for the depth
and breadth of his artistic talent and the body of his work, not
just for creating the Confederate cent. The ANA award was displayed
during the ceremony, thanks to Katie Jaeger. I wore my Confederate
uniform with red sash and sabre. At the end of the ceremony, I
performed a sabre salute with the coordinated firing of a musket
salute by Confederate reenactors. A cannon salute had been planned
but we were unable to get it organized.
"For those who may have seen the newspaper report, let me assure
you that George Corell and I were not inducted into the ANA Hall
of Fame, infamy maybe. The Zanesville and Morgan County (Ohio)
newspapers reported that George and I had been inducted into the
Hall of Fame not Lovett. While in McConnelsville, I discovered the
source of the reporting error. It was a misunderstanding by someone
that was about three tiers out from the source. It was a bit like
a rumor, the farther from the source the more it distorts."
ROBERT LOVETT GRAVESTONE PLAQUE DEDICATED
HARMER ROOKE MILLION DOLLAR SALE CIVIL WAR TOKEN SESSION PRL FOUND
Responding to Steve Butler's query in last week's issue, Bill Rau
offered to send Steve a copy of the Harmer Rooke 'A Million Dollar
Sale' of November 17, 1969, and I put the two of them in touch.
Bill adds: "The ANA library should have two copies of this too.
Amber may have been looking in the wrong place, or they may have
been misfiled. I inventoried their auction catalogs for them,
finishing the project last December."
HARMER ROOKE MILLION DOLLAR SALE CIVIL WAR TOKEN SESSION PRL SOUGHT
MORE ON THE PROPOSED ANS MOVE
Regarding last week's discussion of the proposed move of the
American Numismatic Society's headquarters, Dan Hamelberg writes:
"George Cuhaj's information was clearly from an inaccurate source.
I think Ute did a fine job in putting the record straight regarding
the ANS move to Hudson Square. More information will follow as the
move takes shape.
"Regarding the Hudson Square building, the build out will be first
class. Some of the other tenants in the building include a University
and the Jackie Robinson museum. The immediate area borders the
Tribeca district to the south, and the Village area to the north.
New York University is nearby, and some future exchange opportunities
may be possible.
"To describe Hudson Square as 'a recent factory conversion' is
extremely misleading. The main lobby at Hudson has won architectural
awards. The tenant base is diverse and upscale. This is not just
another office building. Each build out will be distinctive and
first class. The ANS will be accessible and usable. In addition
to dedicated visitors, I expect that we will get visits from the
general population and other visitors to the building - hardly
NUMISMATIST WILLIAM BENTLEY AND ALLEGHENY COLLEGE
Regarding last week's item about the runaway wrecking ball, Katie
Jaeger writes: "I'm proud to say I am a graduate of Allegheny College,
where the wrecking ball decided to take leave of its cable. I heard
the people in the car in the AP photo were spared more grievous
injury because they'd carried a trunkful of soccer balls.
"A small correction; they weren't knocking down the old library (or
if it is old, then I am REALLY old). They were making room to add
onto the new one; new in 1979, that is, my senior year. It had been
under construction for the first three years I attended.
"Allegheny was founded in 1815. William Bentley, one of the earliest
U.S. coin collectors, was a benefactor. He willed half his library
to Allegheny and the other half to the American Antiquarian Society;
a description of his book collection is at the Allegheny website,
the link being http://library.allegheny.edu/Special/ObservationsPt1.htm "
[William Bentley's name has come up before in The E-Sylum, as
apparently the very first coin dealer in the U.S. His main customer
was Judge James Winthrop. He sold Judge Winthrop Swedish Plate
Money on August 26th, 1787. -Editor]
LIBRARY BEING DEMOLISHED FIGHTS BACK
OLDEST COIN COLLECTION RECORDED IN THE U.S.?
TRACKING CHIEF COINERS OF THE U.S. MINT
Regarding Bob Merchant's query about the Chief Coiners, Dave
Ginsburg writes: "Because the Mint Officers are filled by
Presidential appointment, with the advice and consent of the
Senate, one can track their appointments in the Senate Executive
Journal available on the Library of Congress' website (at
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lawhome.html). The many
volumes of Congressional activities are searchable, so with a
little effort, he'll be able to see when Mint Officers were
appointed and confirmed (or not, as the case may be).
"I recently searched the Senate Executive Journal to compile a
list of the Officers of the New Orleans Mint from 1838 to 1861
and it was a fairly simple process.
"Unfortunately, the Senate Executive Journal only goes up to
1875, but at least he'll be able to track the first hundred years
(or so) of appointments."
1857 MINT REPORT SOUGHT
Dave Ginsburg writes: "Does anyone have a copy of the Annual Report
of the Director of the Mint for 1857? (It's included in the Secretary
of the Treasury's Annual Report on the Finances for 1857 and only
covers the first half of the calendar year.) The copy that I have
is missing the first half of Table A, which shows the sources of
the deposits (foreign coin, foreign bullion, etc.) of gold and silver
in the various mints and should be on page 61. I'd really appreciate
it if anyone can help by providing a copy of the page or the
information on it. Thanks!"
MANLEY-MARSHALL MOVIE SPECULATION: THE S.S. CENTRAL AMERICA STORY?
Donn Pearlman of Las Vegas, NV writes: "In reference to an item in
the July 15, 2007 E-Sylum, I do not know the specifics of any reported
movie project involving Dwight Manley and Penny Marshall. However,
one possible topic is the story of the SS Central America, the legendary
'Ship of Gold' that sank in 1857 carrying tons of California Gold Rush
coins and ingots. I believe there was an option picked up some years
ago for a potential motion picture project based on the best-selling
book, 'Ship of Gold (in the Deep Blue Sea)'.
"The Central America treasure has several wonderful -- as they say in
Hollywood -- "back stories" besides the ship sinking in a hurricane
in 1857: a newlywed couple on board survived -- she in a lifeboat,
he clinging to debris for hours until another ship rescued him; the
ensuing financial panic in New York City when the gold was lost; and
other human interest angles to the saga. There was a History Channel
one-hour documentary about the sinking and recovery, but a feature
length film would be a truly exciting project.
"Several times I've joked about a possible movie with the convivial
Robert Evans, the chief scientist and historian on the Columbus-America
Discovery Group mission that found and retrieved the treasure in the
1980's. 'Who do you want playing your role in the film?,' I'd ask.
I believe Bob's first choice was either Robert Redford or Harrison
Ford..... Maybe we could have George Clooney and call the film
NUMISMATISTS MANLEY AND MARSHALL IN A MOVIE DEAL?
UPDATE ON HOWARD BERLIN'S NUMISMATIC TRAVELS
Fellow Numismatourist Dr. Howard Berlin writes: "My last numismatic
trip was in May to Dusseldorf, Cologne, and Frankfurt. While in
Frankfurt I was escorted around the Deutsches Bundesbank museum
and their numismatic library.
"All of my trips to museums around the world having numismatic
exhibits will be the subject of my regular column (with pictures)
in the soon-to-be-released WorldWide Coins, a bi-monthly magazine
of Amos Press, which will be available at next month's ANA show.
I think the leadoff issue will deal with the coins at the Roman
Baths of Bath, England. Other cities visited for subsequent
articles include Berlin, London, Oxford, Cambridge, Dublin, Tel
Aviv, Jerusalem, Cologne, Frankfurt, Athens, and St. Louis. Many
of these museums also have numismatic libraries, and most are
available to the public for research.
"On tap later this year In November is a trip to Venice and Milan.
I understand there is a coin collection on display at the Sforzesco
Castle (Milan). I'm not aware of any numismatic exhibits in Venice
though. Does anyone know of any? From Milan I go to Monte Carlo
and visit, besides the casino, the Museum of Stamps and Coins.
"In December I go to Stuttgart and Munich. Not much in Stuttgart
for me except the Mercedes Benz and Porsche car museums. In Munich
I have an appointment to meet with the Director of the Bavarian
State Numismatic Museum in the museum complex called the Residenz.
The medieval Bavarian mint is close by as well as the BMW car museum.
"In many of my trips throughout Europe, I have found that the local
city museum often has an exhibit consisting of a few display cases
of coins and banknotes. Sometimes, the treasury of cathedrals, such
as the Cologne Cathedral, has coins on display. The Cologne Cathedral
treasury, two levels below ground, had a display of 29 gold coins
from the approximately the 10th to the 18th century whose obverse
had the portrait of the archbishop of Cologne.
"In March of next year I have reservations for Copenhagen and
Stockholm. Both cities have well-known numismatic museums which I
will visit and photograph for future columns.
"Does anyone know specifically of any numismatic museum or permanent
exhibit in Paris and if so, if it has a web site? There are a number
of reasons why I have no great desire to visit France and in the many
years of traveling, I have never been in France. However I would
bite my tongue when I'm in London in the future, take a 2-1/2 hour
train ride to Paris to visit the museum to gather material and pictures
for a future column, and head right back to London without staying
"Not all the museums I will visit are outside the US. There will be
some places that I probably will never get to, such as the some of
the numismatic museums in Russia, and other parts of the former Soviet
Union. I was once there 40 years ago, and am not sure if I want to go
again. I might have to write about certain places without having been
"However, I encourage anyone to suggest a venue worthy of my going
there and writing about. Perhaps I have already been there and written
about it and it is waiting to be published. Perhaps I have been
considering it but haven't bought airplane tickets for there yet or
am waiting for opportune time to group several places on the same
trip. If you e-mail Wayne with your suggestion, he'll pass it onto
me. I will do my best to answer all e-mails. If you read the magazine
or my column and have any suggestions feel free to drop me a line."
WAYNE'S LONDON DIARY 22 JULY, 2007
Bob Neale writes: "I, too, enjoy reading of your adventures in merry
England. I wonder whether there is anyone in the numismatic world
that you don't know, or know of and recall?"
Well, it only seems that way. I've only actually met a small number
of my E-Sylum readers in person, but back in my single days I made
it a point to seek out and meet the U.S. numismatic luminaries of
the day. Sadly, a number of them are gone now, including collectors
John Pittman, Harry Boosel, John Ford, Walter Breen, Jules Reiver
and Donald Miller and bibliophiles/literature dealers Armand Champa,
Frank Katen, Ken Lowe, Jack Collins and John Bergman. I'm not that
old (really), but I'm starting to feel that way. My London
assignment has given me the opportunity to resume that quest in
England while I have some time away from my family obligations.
Once back in the U.S. my numismatic activities will shrink back
to email interactions.
Regarding my translation of "Llantrisant", Peter Gaspar writes:
"I thought others would write you about your definition of "llan"
= land. During my nearly 20 years visiting the Mint at and working
with Graham Dyer I have always heard that "llan" means "church",
i.e. Llantrisant "the church of the three saints." I don't have
a proper Welsh dictionary, but my Welsh grammar book does refer
to llan as church. You might want to check it out."
[I was paraphrasing my recollection of Harry Mernick's discussion
of the Llantrisant Longbowmen medal, so I'm not surprised that I
may have gotten something wrong. Thanks for setting us straight!
My numismatic adventures began on Tuesday this week. I'd received
a submission from Dick Johnson about an upcoming exhibit on the
famous philatelic portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Dick wondered
if the exhibit had a connection to coins as well as stamps. It
turned out that it did, and when I noticed that the exhibit was
about to open in London, I went on a scouting trip after work.
The exhibit was at the London College of Art. I poked around to
find an address and could only find a listing on "Kensington Gore".
I didn't know if that was a street, a building, a campus or what.
There was no street number, but maps showed a Kensington Gore
street winding for a few blocks near the Royal Albert Hall.
I'd seen the Albert Hall on my earlier walks through Hyde Park.
Along the Kensington side of the park is the immense Albert
Memorial built by Queen Victoria to honor her late husband who
had died at 42 of typhoid fever. Across the street is the Royal
Albert Hall, a concert venue built in 1871. If you're familiar
with the Beatles' "A Day in the Life", you'll remember the lyric,
inspired by a mundane news report about filling potholes: "Four
thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire / They had to count them
all / Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall"
Anyway, it was a beautiful evening and I decided to walk home
again along a different route, in search of the Royal College of
Art. I set out toward Piccadilly Circus again, but this time
winding up and down various arcades, alleys and sidestreets. I
cheated a bit by taking the tube two stops to a point near Harrods's
department store. Harrod's is synonymous with luxury. I had been
nearby before but hadn't bothered to stop in. My wife teased me
and said I should at least take a look. So I did.
Outside, a crowd was gathered. A bored-looking woman was modeling
clothes for a photographer. He snapped his camera while another
man filmed with a video camera. The crowd snapped shots of their
own. Supermodel? a nobody? I didn't know or care - in I walked to
the store. I passed through an enormous room offering nothing
but perfume. I didn't check the prices. Then I entered a room
full of purses and gave her a call on my cell phone. I told her
about a nice one on sale for 365 GBD (over $700). She wanted five
of them, but she was teasing again (I think).
Exiting Harrods I kept walking toward Hyde Park. I came across the
Brompton Oratory, a huge Catholic Church. Next to the Oratory was
the Victoria and Albert Museum (or V&A as it's known locally).
Beyond that were the Natural History and Science museums. I found
Kensington Gore Street and started walking, keeping an eye out for
the Royal College of Art. I eventually found it, right next to
Albert Hall. A banner attached to a fence announced the exhibit:
"The Timeless & Classic: Elizabeth, Queen & Icon" (see the next
item for more information). It wouldn't open until Thursday, but
at least know I knew where to find it. I marched across the street
into Hyde Park and crossed over to my neighborhood for dinner
(Indian again, and one more Cobra beer). If felt good to get to
my hotel and change out of my suit and dress shoes.
Wednesday turned out to be a long day at the office, but we had a
pleasant lunch meeting at Kettners in Soho. Just yards from our
office, it's one of London's oldest restaurants, founded 140 years
ago by Auguste Kettner, former chef to Emperor Napoleon III.
Kettner's Book of the Table: A Manual of Cookery was published in
1871 and remains one of the world's most famous cookbooks. Luckily
we ate well, because I didn't get out of the office until 9:30 that
night. I met my colleagues for a beer at Prince Alfred in Bayswater
near our hotel. Dinner was a bag of potato crisps and two cool pints.
Having worked so late the night before I didn't feel too guilty
ducking out at 4:15 Thursday. It was opening day of the "Timeless
& Classic" exhibit, and it closed at 5:00. I hailed a cab and said
"Albert Hall, please". After slogging through rush hour traffic I
arrived with only about 20 minutes to spare. The exhibit was in
the lobby of the Royal College of Art building. I grabbed some
brochures, pulled out my notepad and started furiously writing as
I marched through the exhibit. I skipped the philatelic parts to
concentrate more on the numismatic aspects. It was a beautiful
exhibit (see the review below). But at 5pm I was given the bum's
rush out the door. Fittingly, it was now raining. I put my notes
in my packpack and pulled out my folding umbrella. Across Hyde
Park I walked again, this time stopping for Chinese food before
returning to my hotel. That evening I worked on the E-Sylum draft
while doing laundry.
Friday brought a hellacious rainstorm to central London. Just before
noon the sky darkened until it looked like night. Soon the skies
opened up and just poured. Too hungry to postpone lunch I reached
for my handy folding umbrella, but it wasn't there - I must have
left it at the restaurant Thursday night. Luckily, we have some
spares in the office. I crossed the street through heavy stop and
go traffic and gladly entered a nearby restaurant. The waiter told
me there was already flooding in many towns. In a number of areas
water rose to people's knees. Later, portions of the underground
closed due to flooding.
Not long after lunch the sun came out again. At 7pm my colleagues
and I left the office to join some friends at the Lowlander Pub on
Drury Street in Covent Garden. Belgian beer flowed and for dinner
I had the Belgian version of a British staple - Bangers and Mash
(sausages and mashed potatoes). This version used Wild Boar sausage
and apples in a bowl of smooth potatoes and gravy. About 9:15 my
gravy-stained white polo shirt and I headed back to the office to
pick up my bag.
I passed a number of only-in-London sites. Big as life on the
outside of three different buildings, were life-size reproductions
of Old Master paintings, frames and all, along with those ubiquitous
museum-style description plaques. They were part of a twelve-week
publicity program by the National Gallery called The Grand Tour.
Coincidentally, the first painting I came across was John
Constable's 'The Hay Wain'. At my last job in Pittsburgh the
gang put up a copy of the painting and called it "Hey, Wayne!"
(I am not making this up!).
Next I passed through Seven Dials, an intersection where seven
streets converge on a circle. At the center is a tall stone
monument sporting at the top six sundials (the original 1690s plan
was for six streets, but one more was added for good measure).
By the time of Charles Dickens the area was a notorious slum.
The original column was pulled down in 1773, but replaced in
1989 with a column matching the original design. Why build a
crazy intersection with seven roads? The developer wanted to
maximize the number of houses to increase his profits. See,
in The E-Sylum everything eventually comes back to money, if
Passing several book stores, many of them had signs saying they
would reopen at midnight to sell the seventh and final book in
the Harry Potter series. Television showed lines of young people,
many dressed in Potter-inspired outfits, waiting in line at a
Piccadilly Circus store. I'm hoping that's why one young man
in the subway had his face covered in green makeup. After
stopping for some groceries I went back to my hotel where I
organized my backpack for Saturday's journey.
On Saturday morning I took the tube to King's Cross Station and
boarded a train to Cambridge. Ten minutes from London and I was
viewing fields of cows and horse. The trip took about 45 minutes
altogether. Disembarking at the Cambridge Station, I bought a
local map from a vending machine in exchange for a one pound coin.
But the map turned out to cover only the city center didn't show
me the complete journey. I asked a young lady for assistance,
and she was very helpful.
Up the street to the war monument I went, then turned right.
Once I was deep into the city I realized I'd missed my turn -
the street I wanted hadn't been marked with a sign. But with
map in hand I managed to wind my way closer and closer to the
When I turned onto Trumpington Street, I couldn't help but notice
the running water in channels at along the stone curbs. Later I
would learn that these were the part of the original means of
transporting water into the town and they'd never been covered
over or replaced. In places the channel was clogged with leaves
leaving a stagnant pool of water, perhaps a remnant of yesterday's
downpours. Hobson's Conduit was built from 1610 to 1614 by
Thomas Hobson to bring fresh water into the city (see links below
for more information).
The channels travel right past the front of the stately Fitzwilliam
Museum building. I climbed the steps to the front entrance and
asked for Professor Buttrey in the Coin department. Soon we were
shaking hands in the grand marble lobby. Ted was quite welcoming
and gave me a short overview of the history of the museum and its
collections. The original core holdings of art and literature
began with an 1816 bequest to the University of Cambridge by
Richard Fitzwilliam (Richard, VII Viscount Fitzwilliam of Merrion,
thank you). Today the museum is one of Britain's finest, holding
masterpieces of painting from the fourteenth century to the
present day, drawings and prints, sculpture, furniture, armour,
pottery and glass, and of course, coins and medals.
The grand main building opened in 1848 and has been added to since
then. Just off the mail lobby is the Founder's Library which
includes a number of numismatic works. It being a Saturday, that
room was unfortunately closed. Ted guided me back to the coin
department and unlocked the door.
Inside was a wondrous sight - a large rectangular room with
twelve-foot ceilings and all four walls lined with floor to ceiling
shelving holding coin cabinets and numismatic literature. The long
walls each hold about forty mostly small wooden coin cabinets. The
short wall to the left holds about twenty coin cabinets of mixed
sizes, including two 16th-century leather coin cabinets; in front
of it is a double-sided freestanding bookcase topped with decorative
coin cabinets including one stunning custom-built cabinet in the
form of a Roman temple, complete with columns. In front of the
final windowed wall are a set of desks and additional shelving.
In the center of the room is a long library working table.
Along the top of the short wall is this inscription: "This room in
which are kept the Greek coins given and bequeathed by John Robinson
McClean, M.A. of Trinity College was built at the cost of his
brother William Newsam McClean, M.A. of the same college in 1923."
Atop a set of new freestanding bookshelves in front of the desk area
is an inscription reading "The bookcase were built at the cost of
grandchildren and a great grandchild of William Newsom McClean M.A.
Buttrey introduced me to Assistant Keeper Dr. Martin Allen, who was
hard at work at one of the desks. We sat at the library table and
Ted explained some of the history of the collections. Cambridge
University is a collection of many small colleges, independently
founded and functioning as separate organizations. Each college
had its own libraries and collections. A number of the Dons collected
coins and bequeathed their collection to their college. A modern
day example of this tradition is the late Professor Philip Grierson,
who died last year at the age of 95 and left his numismatic library,
notes, and collection of Medieval European coinage to the University.
One of the earlier donors was William Martin Leake, an early 19th
century British topographer and antiquarian. He traveled to the
middle and far east to map the territory for the British, and he
used numismatic evidence to enhance his knowledge of the history
of the areas. He published Numismata Hellenica in 1854 and bequeathed
six cabinets holding 10,000 Greek coins to Cambridge University. At
the time it was the largest collection ever acquired by any University
to date. Another donor, Mr. Lewis, gave six cabinets of coins,
including the Roman temple cabinet. Christopher Blunt donated a
large collection of Anglo-Saxon and early Norman coinage. Today
the collection consists of about 250,000 coins and medals, about
20,000 of which are viewable online.
Professor Buttrey has been associated with the department for nearly
twenty years. He was appointed Keeper of the Department of Coins
and Medals in 1988 and was the first to hold a doctorate. Today a
staff of eight (both paid and volunteer), oversees the collection.
All eight hold doctorates.
Buttrey retired in 1991 but continues as a volunteer. Every year
he teaches an introductory course in Greek and Roman numismatic
with Assistant Keeper Adi Popescu. Dr Mark Blackburn has been Head
of the Department of Coins and Medals since Buttrey's retirement
in 1991; his particularly interest is with the Medieval and Oriental
coins and historical medals.
Updating Roman Imperial Coinage Volume II, Part 1 is Buttrey's
primary research project. He has traveled the world visiting
collections to verify and update information on the known specimens
of the coins of Titus, Vespasian and other rulers covered in the
volume. The revised work will not only be much larger, but more
accurate and better annotated.
A related project of interest to bibliophiles is Buttrey's work
in acquiring and cataloging numismatic auction catalogues of the
world. When he arrived at the Fitzwilliam there were about 5,000
catalogues in the holdings; today the total is about 40,000.
The main room where we were sitting was only one part of the coin
department. Ted led me on a tour before we took a break for lunch.
Behind the main room were a series of smaller rooms and the office
of Keeper Blackburn. Beside a window stood a stand for taking
photographs of coins. Everywhere was lined with shelving holding
more numismatic books. One room held periodicals on both fixed
and moveable shelves. The British Numismatic Journal were present,
as was the Armenian Numismatic Journal.
A stairway led upstairs and I just had to ask what in the world
was the purpose of a metal crank sticking out of the stairway wall.
It's there to close the iron shutters - every night the building
is locked up tight as a drum, and thankfully, there has never
been a break-in.
The cramped room upstairs holds the catalog collection on sets of
fixed and movable shelves. The catalogs are stored in labeled
boxes placed on the shelves. Near the door is a shelf holding
an absolutely beautiful group of about 150 leatherbound 19th
century catalogues. Most came from a 1933 donation by J. S.
Henderson. The earliest of the group was a priced and named 1756
Martin Folkes sale; also present was an 1811 Leigh & Sotheby sale.
Recently a visitor from a bank in Cologne, Germany provided a
photocopy of an obscure catalogue of German numismatic auction
catalogues prior to 1945. Some much information, so little time!
The list would be ideal for entering into a database.
Buttrey updates his catalog of catalogues daily as new acquisitions
are logged. Each month an updated version is posted to the museum's
web site. Despite the size of the collection, there are numerous
holes. A number of donors have come forth to help fill the gaps;
occasionally packages will arrive with a note stating that they'd
noticed a gap in the online catalog and shipped some catalogues
to donate to the collection. You can view the online catalogue
We stepped outside for some fresh air and lunch. The genial Buttrey
insisted on buying. We walked down the street to Martin's Coffee
House, proudly named once as one of Britain's "finest greasy spoons".
Looking forward to his usual jacket potato (stuffed baked potato
for those in the U.S.), Ted expressed mock horror on being told that
the last potato had just been sold. We ordered chicken and
mayonnaise sandwiches, his on plain bread and mine on a baguette.
Conversation topics included the project I'm working on for my employer,
and my background in the software industry. We talked a bit about
John Ford and the Western bar controversy, but that hubbub has
fortunately died down for him. We also talked about the 2006
Chinese Vase incident at the museum, and on our way back in he
showed me the staircase where it occurred. A visitor, claiming
he'd tripped on a loose shoelace, knocked over and smashed three
Qing dynasty vases. The museum does have a sense of humor about
the unfortunate incident. Pulling me into the gift shop, Ted
bought me a souvenir, one of the shop's best sellers - a jigsaw
puzzle picturing the three vases!
Back at the coin department I asked for a quick look at some of
the coins, and Ted quickly obliged. After taking a quick look in
Crawford to get a reference number, he opened one of the coin
cabinets and slid out a tray, placing it on the table. I pick up
and examined a gorgeous example of the Brutus Ideas of March denarius.
The accompanying slip indicated that it came from the Hart collection
at Queen's college. The coin is one of the few specifically mentioned
in ancient texts.
To view the Ideas of March denarius, see:
Next I reviewed a tray of Ceasar portrait coins, including one in
gold. After putting the trays away, I spent some time making notes
while Ted went about his regular work. I noted some of the handy
volumes on shelves in the main room, including a set of BM Greek
and SNG (the Sylloge Nummorun Graecorum). A well-worn set of three
volumes comprised the Catalogue of the McClean Collection of Greek
Coins (S. W. Grose, 1923-1929). The volumes were prepared in 1914
but publication had been delayed until after WWI. The collotype
plates illustrate two-thirds of the coin in the collection.
Lying on the library table was a draft of a work researched partly
at the Fitzwilliam: The Coinage of Offa and his Contemporaries by
Derek Chick, edited by Mark Blackburn and Rory Naismith. It is to
be published by Spink for the British Numismatic Society later
Before long we said our goodbyes and I went off to explore a bit of
the Fitzwilliam Museum and Cambridge. I marveled at the collection
of armour on display, one of the finest collections in the world.
After I left the Museum I wandered around the courtyards of some
of the colleges, and took a tour of King's Church. Finally it was
time to catch my train home and grab some dinner.
Sunday morning I worked a bit on The E-Sylum, then walked the few
blocks from my hotel to Paddington Station. I boarded a train and
called Doug Saville from my cell phone to let him know I was on
the way for the second visit we'd arranged. He met me at Reading
Station and we drove to his office.
Since my last visit, Doug had purchased a 1,000-volume numismatic
library, and the books were neatly arranged on shelves. Many
standard works on ancient numismatics were there, including a
beautifully bound reprint of Corpus Nummorus Italicorum. Another
item I'd never seen before was Numismata Cromwelliana: Coins,
Medals and Seals of Oliver Cromwell by H.W. Henfrey. It was
printed in an edition of 250 copies in 1877. Manville's Numismatic
Guide to British and Irish Printed books 1600-2004 lists three
titles by Henfrey, a numismatic prodigy who died in 1881 at the
age of just 29.
A working library belonging to a dealer-collector, there was
understandably little relating to U.S. numismatics, although Doug
did point out a bound copy of the 1954 Sotheby Farouk sale with a
few annotations about American coin lots. Taped to the inside
back cover was a newspaper article noting that the Egyptian
government was refusing to pay Sotheby's, complaining that
"buyer's rings" kept sale prices artificially low. For price
list, email Doug at info at douglassaville.com.
Next we hopped back in Doug's car and drove to Oxford, about
half an hour away. We passed a number of picturesque farms and
villages, including at least three homes with thatched roofs.
We parked along a busy street in Oxford. It was time for lunch
and a pint of beer, and we stepped into the Eagle and Child pub,
a favorite haunt of J.R.R. Tolkien. We weren't disappointed -
our sandwiches (and beers!) were excellent.
Our first stop was Britain's first museum, the Ashmolean. Now
undergoing a major expansion, the Ashmolean's Heberdon coin room
was closed for the duration of the construction. We did see a
few numismatic items on display among the collections. The hall
of Egyptian artifacts was very interesting. Other rooms
displayed a disparate mix of objects.
The first numismatic items we encountered were "two of the
surviving casts" of a medal of Federico da Montefeltro, thought
to be made by Florenine sculptor Pietro Torrigiano. The same
room displayed a violin by Antonio Stradivari, made in 1716
and purchased from Paolo Stradaveri in 1775.
One room held a group of objects traceable to the first days of
the museum. Numismatic items here included a gold medal of Henry
VII minted at London in 1545, and gold presentation coins of
Persia circa 1795-1796. Also on display was a clay pot with a
hoard of Viking-era bronze coins. One item I found very interesting
was "Powhatan's Mantle", a 17th-century deerskin with shell
decorations from "Virginia, USA".
After exiting the Ashmolean we visited the nearby Sheldonian
Theatre, the ceremonial hall of Oxford University. It was the first
major design by Christopher Wren, built 1664-1668. Graduation
ceremonies are still held here. We walked up the steps to the
rooftop cupola and looked out at the architecture of the city.
Back on the street we walked into the Museum of the History of
Science to view an astonishing collection of antique scientific
instruments such as telescopes. Astrolabes and orreries. Finally,
we toured Christ Church cathedral and the Christ Church College
dining hall. The hall and other parts of the college were used
in filming the first two Harry Potter films.
We next walked back to Doug's car and drove to his home in Reading,
where his wife Sue was busy preparing a dinner of pheasant and
venison sausage. Doug took over for a few minutes while Sure showed
me their peaceful garden. Soon Doug appeared and placed a glass of
wine in my hand. The three of us had a wonderful dinner, finishing
up with fruits and cheeses. All too soon it was 9:30 and time to
catch the next train to London. Doug dropped me off at the station.
I got back to my hotel around 11pm and worked on The E-Sylum before
calling it a night. It had been a long but pleasant weekend of
numismatic fellowship. Many thanks again to Professor Buttrey
and Doug and Sue Saville for all their friendship and hospitality.
To see a picture of London's Friday downpour, see:
For more information on the National Gallery's Grand Tour, see
For more information on Hobson's Conduit, see:
For an image of Hobson's conduit, see:
For more on William Martin Leake from the 1991 Encyclopedia Britannica, see:
WHY I DON'T COLLECT CHINESE VASES
For more information on the Wren's Sheldonian Theatre, see:
For more information on the Museum of the History of Science at Oxford, see:
ARNOLD MACHIN'S QUEEN ELIZABETH II COIN AND STAMP ARTWORK EXHIBIT
Dick Johnson forwarded this article about a London exhibit featuring
artwork used as the basis of stamp and coin designs picturing Britain's
Queen Elizabeth II. In 1964 sculptor Arnold Machin was chosen to
design a new effigy of the Queen for the decimal coinage; this effigy
was used for all British coins until 1984. In 1967 Machin designed
a similar portrait for British stamps.
"A classic image of the Queen which has featured on some 200 billion
stamps is being celebrated in an exhibition. The British Postal Museum
and Archive (BPMA) show opens at the Royal College of Art in London
"Arnold Machin's headshot of Queen Elizabeth II marks its 40th
anniversary this year and is thought to be the most produced stamp
portrait of all time.
"The Timeless & Classic: Elizabeth, Queen & Icon exhibition, which
runs until 15 August, includes original portrait photography and
Douglas Muir, curator at the BPMA, said: "This is a marvellous and
unique opportunity to see the Machin design process in its entirety
from the development of the coin effigy through the many stages
of different designs to the final, timeless icon."
"Mr Machin's image was chosen from five artists asked to submit
renderings of the Queen's head for a new stamp design. It first
appeared on a 4d value stamp issued in June 1967."
To read the complete article, see:
[I visited the exhibit on opening day, 19 July 2007. I only had
a limited time, but took some notes on the numismatic elements of
the exhibit. These are summarized below, along with some
additional information gleaned from the handouts I picked up.
1952 - Artifact: Plaster model by Mary Gillick for the first
coinage of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II
January 1963 - Artifact: Machin's original wax model relief
for the new Queen Elizabeth II head.
June 1963 - Artifact: Drawing from Life by Arnold Machin
showing the Queeen in a three-quarter back profile
October 1963 - Artifact: original reduction punch (die) for
coin obverse, and a 5 pence coin obverse reduction punch and
October 1964 - Postmaster Tony Benn encouraged stamp designs
without the Queen's head, but this introduced a new problem -
without the Queen's head to identify the country of origin, an
alternative was needed. "Great Britain" and "U.K. Postage"
were tried, but at the time the correct name of the nation was
actually "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
(and the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands). That doesnt
fit well on a postage stamp!
Initial work for Machin's stamp design was based on his
"Coinage Head" design
March 1966 - Artifact: plaster cast of Machin's "Coinage Head".
The plaster is very large, about 20" in diameter. Related
artifacts include the final plaster model for Machin's coin
effigy and a metal electrotype.
[While viewing the exhibit I couldn't help but think, 'Wow,
somebody ought to put all this great information together in
a book." Well, somebody did. Among the handouts I picked up
at the exhibit were the May and June 2007 issue of the British
Philatelic Bulletin which included the 2nd and 3rd installments
of a three-part article by Douglas Muir, "an abridged chapter
from his book, 'A Timeless Classic: The Evolution of Machin's
Icon', published this month."
The book is available at the Royal Mail web site (www.royalmail.com).
The description reads "This 248 page, fully illustrated book is
written by Douglas Muir, curator of the British Postal Museum
and Archive and an expert on the development of the Machin image."
The cost is 19.95 GBP. Because of the close connection to British
coins and the good amount of numismatic information within, this
could be a useful book for coin collectors. -Editor]
To order the Douglas Muir book "A Timeless Classic" see:
To read an interview with Muir about his work and the Machin exhibit, see:
CZECH BANKNOTE ARTIST OLDRICH KULHANEK'S WORK EXHIBITED IN CHICAGO
"Czech artist Oldrich Kulhanek's career has taken some bizarre
twists, from time in a Communist jail to designing banknotes
for the new Czech Republic which are part of a new U.S.
exhibition of his work.
"The exhibition includes the first display of his prints for
the current Czech banknotes he designed in the early 1990s,
large lithographs of nude figures, and a series of works
devoted to Czech-born writer Franz Kafka who wrote about a
nightmarish world of isolated and troubled individuals.
"The exhibition is one of the attractions in 'Prague Days in
Chicago,' a series of events this summer to mark Chicago and
the Czech capital's pairing up as sister cities back in 1990.
"The exhibition 'Oldrich Kulhanek - drawings and prints' runs
to July 31 at the International Currents Gallery of the John
David Mooney Foundation at 114 West Kinzie Street, Chicago.
The gallery is open Tuesday to Thursday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.,
Friday and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., or by appointment.
Tel. 312 822 0483, http://www.mooneyfoundation.org
To read the complete article, see:
NEW LIBERTY DOLLAR FEATURES LONGSHOT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE RON PAUL
According to an article published by Congressional Quarterly,
"Hes still a long shot for the presidency, but Republican Rep.
Ron Paul of Texas has leapfrogged into a distinction usually
reserved for chief executives and dead ones, at that: His visage
now graces a coin.
"To be sure, the disks were not struck by the U.S. Mint. They are,
rather, a rival currency called the Liberty Dollar, which lately
has been fighting a court battle over a mint consumer advisory not
to use the dollar coins which are designed for barter transactions
as legal tender.
"Paul is a natural choice to grace the Liberty Dollar as well as
the steeper $20 silver and $1,000 gold editions of the currency
because he shares the Indiana companys preference for currency
backed by precious metals. Pauls campaign spokesman Jesse Benton
says his boss supports legalized competition between Federal
Reserve notes and other specie currency by allowing people to pay
for goods and services with gold or silver."
To read the complete article, see:
[Paul's spokesman notes that "however flattering the homage may
be, Paul isnt endorsing the use of Paul dollars." The campaign
wants donations in U.S.-backed funds. What happened to rendering
Gold, Silver and Copper versions are planned. A blog entry on
the Paul web site pictures the silver version. One supporter
plans to distribute copper versions as campaign promotion items
in November: "They are inexpensive enough to distribute in small
quantities as handouts to potential voters. Many paper handouts
(for any candidate) are likely to go (probably unread) into the
nearest wastebasket. But few, if any, copper coins are going to
get thrown away. People just can't bring themselves to do it.
The deep-seated archetype of coins as money, even if those coins
aren't "legal tender", is too powerful to allow it. A one dollar
copper could potentially have a greater impact than a dollar's
worth of paper." -Editor]
To read the complete Ron Paul Liberty Dollar blog item, see:
For ordering information, see:
AGRICULTURE LEADER NORMAN BORLAUG TO RECEIVE CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL
The student newspaper of Texas A&M noted this week that "Norman
Borlaug, distinguished professor of international agriculture,
Nobel Peace Prize winner and father of the Green Revolution will
receive the Congressional Gold Medal Tuesday for his work to
"The Department of Soil and Crop Sciences said Borlaug is
responsible for saving more lives than any person who has ever
lived. His most notable achievement is the development of a
high-yielding, disease-resistant wheat. The wheat helped counter
starvation in Mexico, India, China and Pakistan.
"The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest expression of
national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.
All Congressional Gold Medal legislation must be cosponsored by at
least two-thirds of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives
before it is submitted to the respective committee.
"The medal is created on an individual basis by the United States
Mint to reflect the recipient and their contributions. Previous
recipients include George Washington, Thomas Edison, Mother Teresa
and Rosa Parks."
To read the complete announcement, see:
The newspaper published a longer profile on Borlaug last week:
"Through the National Youth Administration, a depression-era
program designed to provide work-study jobs to college students,
Borlaug enrolled at the University of Minnesota, where he studied
forestry. It was in Minneapolis that he was exposed to the hunger
he would combat his entire life.
"When I got to Minnesota, to my horror, I saw hundreds of people
go downtown to Minneapolis - people with their hands up - young,
middle-aged people asking for a nickel to buy bread. That's
how things were."
"Borlaug's most well-known work started in Mexico and came in
the form of a genetically modified, semi-dwarf wheat plant.
Working with local Mexican and American scientists and farmers,
he was able to create, culture and spread a shorter and stouter
wheat plant that was stronger, resisted disease and yielded
more. It quickly turned around Mexico's status as a wheat producer.
"But Borlaug wasn't done. While experts were predicting famine
in the 60s for India and Pakistan, he was working to bring the
same success to the warring nations. It wasn't safe work, and
the Indian-Pakistan war sometimes crept close to where he was
"It's not hard for Borlaug to keep himself motivated, though,
as he can state his central passion in clear terms.
"'I hate suffering and human misery,' Borlaug said."
To read the complete article, see:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE AUTOMATED TELLER MACHINE
David Sundman forwarded the following article about the birthday
of the automated teller machine forty years ago. Last month an
historical plaque was dedicated at the site of the world's first
"The world's first ATM was installed in a branch of Barclays in
Enfield, north London, 40 years ago this week.
"Inspiration had struck Mr Shepherd-Barron, now 82, while he was
in the bath.
"'It struck me there must be a way I could get my own money,
anywhere in the world or the UK. I hit upon the idea of a chocolate
bar dispenser, but replacing chocolate with cash.'
"Plastic cards had not been invented, so Mr Shepherd-Barron's machine
used cheques that were impregnated with carbon 14, a mildly radioactive
"The machine detected it, then matched the cheque against a Pin number.
"However, Mr Shepherd-Barron denies there were any health concerns:
'I later worked out you would have to eat 136,000 such cheques for
it to have any effect on you.'
"One by-product of inventing the first cash machine was the concept
of the Pin number.
"Mr Shepherd-Barron came up with the idea when he realised that he
could remember his six-figure army number. But he decided to check
that with his wife, Caroline.
"'Over the kitchen table, she said she could only remember four
figures, so because of her, four figures became the world standard,'
"But even though he invented the machine, Mr Shepherd-Barron believes
its use in future will be very different. He predicts that our society
will no longer be using cash within a few years.
"'Money costs money to transport. I am therefore predicting the
demise of cash within three to five years.'
"He believes fervently that we will soon be swiping our mobile
phones at till points, even for small transactions."
To read the complete article, see:
[Thanks to Dr. Martin Allen for pointing out that although the
Barclay's ATM was the first ot thetype we know today, "a mechanical
cash dispenser was developed ... and installed 1939 in New York City
by the City Bank of New York, but removed after 6 months due to the
lack of customer acceptance." See
U.S. IMPOSES RESTRICTIONS ON IMPORTING CYPRIOT COINS
The New York Times reported this week on the latest development in
the tug of war between over the importing of ancient coins into the
"In a move that some coin collectors fear could eventually make it
difficult to pursue their passion, the United States government has
imposed import restrictions on ancient coins from Cyprus. It is the
first time the United States has limited trade in a broad category
of coins as part of an effort to guard the cultural heritage of
"The new rules, which were adopted last week and went into effect
on Monday, would essentially bar the importation of any ancient coin
from Cyprus unless authorized by the Cypriot government. The limits
are part of a broader agreement between the United States and the
Republic of Cyprus to extend for five years existing restrictions
on the import of pre-classical, classical and Byzantine art and
artifacts from the island.
"Cyprus has said the restrictions are necessary to combat the looting
of cultural and archaeological sites, particularly in the northern
part of the island, which has been divided from the south since Turkey
invaded in 1974.
"We are very pleased coins have been added to this, said Cypruss
ambassador to Washington, Andreas Kakouris. Coins constitute an
inseparable part of our own cultural heritage, and the pillage they
are subjected to is the same as other archaeological material.
"Numismatic associations had argued before a State Department
advisory committee that import restrictions on ancient coins could
not fairly be enforced. Coins minted in Cyprus were found throughout
the ancient world, the collectors asserted. They said it would be
impossible for customs officials to determine whether a coin came
from Cyprus or elsewhere and whether it had been legitimately
To read the complete article, see:
The following details appeared in the Federal Register last Friday,
July 13, 2007:
"The Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs, United
States Department of State, has determined that conditions continue
to warrant the imposition of import restrictions. Accordingly, the
restrictions will remain in effect for an additional 5 years..."
"Note that one subcategory, Coins of Cypriot Types, has been added
to the category entitled Metal. EFFECTIVE DATE: July 16, 2007."
"Coins of Cypriot types made of gold, silver, and bronze including
but not limited to:
1. Issues of the ancient kingdoms of Amathus, Kition, Kourion,
Idalion, Lapethos, Marion, Paphos, Soli, and Salamis dating from the
end of the 6th century B.C. to 332 B.C.
2. Issues of the Hellenistic period, such as those of Paphos, Salamis,
and Kition from 332 B.C. to c. 30 B.C.
3. Provincial and local issues of the Roman period from c. 30 B.C. to
235 A.D. Often these have a bust or head on one side and the image of
a temple (the Temple of Aphrodite at Palaipaphos) or statue (statue
of Zeus Salaminios) on the other."
To read the Federal Register for Friday, July 13, 2007, see:
HOW ANCIENT COINS FOUND THEIR WAY TO ENGLAND
The Hemel Gazette of Hemel Hempstead, England published an article
about a local coin find that includes an interesting note about many
ancient coins found their way to England and elsewhere in modern times.
"The receipt of an ancient coin from a Gazette reader created great
interest recently when it was handed over to Berkhamsted Local History
and Museum Society, as requested by reader 84-year-old James Fellowes,
of North Walsham, Norfolk.
"The coin is a Billon Tetradrachm from the mint of Alexandria in Egypt.
"This is a very common coin and if sold to a collector today would
fetch about £12.
"Peter says: "Take no notice of the provenance - it was probably
brought back and lost by a Second World War serviceman who had
"A friend of mine, stationed in Egypt during the war, told how, like
many servicemen, he was inveigled into climbing the Great Pyramid at
Giza (you could then!)
"Halfway up with his guide he stopped for a breather at which point
the guide produced a handful of these coins, explaining that they
were 'very ancient genuine Roman coins, very valuable' and that
most people bought their coins at this point on the pyramid.
"As Frank, my friend, remarked, looking down some 250 feet, he could
see reason in buying coins at that point. Many did likewise. He never
did tell me how much he paid - no doubt an exorbitant sum then, in
relation to service pay."
To read the complete article, see:
HOUSTON PRESS ARTICLE RECOUNTS BOILER-ROOM COIN SALES TACTICS
The week the Houston Press published an in-depth article about the
lawsuit against Michael Fuljenz' numismatic marketing companies.
Here are several excerpts, but there is much more to be found in
the original article.
"The 2004 magazine ad for Silver American Eagles that caught Maureen
O'Neill's eye included a thumbnail history and some mumbo jumbo about
the coins being "certified gem brilliant uncirculated" and "sonically
sealed in a tamper-evident holder." But the 74-year-old widow and
retired nurse didn't understand or care about any of that.
"O'Neill just figured that filling out the coupon would save a trip
to the mall: "I thought they would make nice Christmas presents for
my son and son-in-law."
"Two weeks later, O'Neill received a phone call from the Beaumont-based
company that sold her the silver. The salesman was extremely personable,
eager to hear all about her newly adopted grandson. The salesman
also learned that she lived alone in Connecticut, and that her family
resided out of state. It seemed he had all day just to chitchat. She
enjoyed the attention.
"So, what the heck, she bought some more coins. "I spent a couple
thousand here, a few thousand there." And her phone kept ringing.
"O'Neill would return home from shopping to several urgent messages
on her answering machine. 'I told them I didn't want any more; I
wasn't a collector,' she says. 'I cried on the phone; I hung up;
but they just kept pushing.'
"Following the salesman's advice, O'Neill eventually moved her money
out of stocks, bonds and IRA accounts and put it all into rare coins.
She maxed out her credit cards and took out a $50,000 home equity
loan, all for coins she knew next to nothing about. Only that the
salesman assured her they were safe, stellar investments. And that
she needed to buy them now.
"During the next 15 months, O'Neill invested more than $180,000 in
coins her entire life savings. Appraisers later revealed her
collection had been overvalued by about 50 percent, she says.
"Today O'Neill is a plaintiff in a lawsuit against several related
Beaumont-based companies with very official-sounding names: 1st
National Reserve, 1st American Reserve, First Fidelity Reserve and
Universal Coin & Bullion. The rare-coin companies gross more than
$100 million a year, almost exclusively in phone sales. All
operate out of the same nondescript property.
"Michael Fuljenz trains his salespeople that customers do three things:
lie, puke and say no. It means they lie about personal finances, puke
excuses and ultimately say no to purchasing rare coins.
"His staff of several dozen salespeople, who call thousands of people
across the country every day, are taught to overcome these obstacles
by 'isolating objections' and 'finding out where the money is.'
"But Fuljenz is uncomfortable with the notion that he promotes
high-pressure sales. He prefers to call his employees by another
"Fuljenz writes the esteemed monthly newsletter Investor's Profit
Advisory and has authored several self-published books that have
won awards from the Numismatic Literary Guild, a national trade
group based in New Jersey. "Some say we have too many awards, that
we give one to everybody," says Ed Reiter, executive director of
the guild and senior editor of COINage magazine.
"In depositions taken last summer, Rollins and several other
former salespeople provided a description of the inner workings
of the Beaumont-based coin companies that contradicts Fuljenz's
claims and provides support for the scores of former customers
To read the complete article, see:
VIKING TREASURE HOARD CONTAINS 600 COINS
David Sundman forwarded the following story: "The most important
Viking treasure find in Britain for 150 years has been unearthed
by a father and son while metal detecting in Yorkshire. David and
Andrew Whelan uncovered the hoard, which dates back to the 10th
Century, in Harrogate in January.
"The pair kept their find intact and it was transferred to the
British Museum to be examined by experts, who said the discovery
"The pair, from Leeds, said the hoard was worth about £750,000
as a conservative estimate.
"The hoard contains 617 silver coins and 65 other objects,
including a gold arm-ring and a gilt silver vessel.
"Dr Jonathan Williams, keeper of prehistory in Europe at the
British Museum, said: '[The cup] is beautifully decorated and
was made in France or Germany at around AD900.
"'It is fantastically rare - there are only a handful of others
known around the world. It will be stunning when it is fully
"The British Museum said the coins included several new or rare
types, which provide valuable new information about the history
of England in the early 10th Century, as well as Yorkshire's
wider cultural contacts in the period."
To read the complete article, see:
A WALLETFUL OF TWO-DOLLAR BILLS
Dick Johnson forwarded this amusing article: "A wallet full of
two-dollar bills is like carrying around a wallet of joy. People
get excited with unexpected encounters of two-dollar bills, and
for some people it's just the regular course. The two-dollar
adventure unfolds many personality traits.
"First I walk into my bank and deposit a check like normal. After
taking care of official adult business, the cashier asks the typical
'is there anything else I can do for you today, Mr. Maldre?' For
all those times I've been asked that question, I finally have a
'yes' reply, and this time the request is a fun one!
"'Actually, I would like to take all the money in my wallet,' as
I pause while I notice that the cashier is starting to smile now,
'and convert it it all into two-dollar bills.
"First place to spend the two-dollar bill? Sportmart. To get my
baseball to have everyone I know sign. And wouldn't you know it?
They have baseballs there for two bucks. Perfect!
"The cashier rang up my ball, and I go into my wallet and pull out
a crisp two-dollar bill. The cashier was astonished, 'Are you sure
you want to spend this?' I showed him the inside of my wallet. 'Look
inside, I just went to the bank and exchanged out ALL my money for
two-dollar bills. I certainly have plenty.' This cashier dude was
so excited to have a two-dollar bill, he asked his boss (who was
standing right there) if he could exchange it out with his own money
(his boss did). Then the other three cashiers were all curious and
came over to see what was happening. They all found it very amusing
and we swapped two-dollar bill stories.
"I highly highly (yes, that's a double recommendation) anyone to
exchange all your money in your wallet for two-dollar bills. It's
like carrying a walletful of joy ready to unfold adventures where
you'll get your two-cent's worth."
To read the complete article, see:
FEATURED WEB SITE: COINS OF YEMEN
This week's featured web site provides an overview of the minting
of coins in Yemen.
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