The E-Sylum v10#48, November 25, 2007
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Sun Nov 25 20:55:18 PST 2007
Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 10, Number 48, November 25, 2007:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2007, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
WAYNE'S WORDS: THE E-SYLUM NOVEMBER 25, 2007
Among our recent subscribers are Erik J. van Loon, courtesy of
Tom Michael, Bob Laetare, President of the Albuquerque Coin Club,
courtesy of Warner Talso, and Laura Sperber and George Huang of
Legend Numismatics. Welcome aboard! We now have 1,086 subscribers.
This week we open with NBS news followed by word of an important
international numismatic library for sale. Next, two readers
review the new 2008 Standard Catalog of World Coins DVDs. In
follow ups from last week, Alan Weinberg comments on '100 Greatest
American Medals and Tokens', David Fanning tells us about a prototype
issue of the recent Coin World redesign, and David Lange tells us
exactly why the cent's heads side is smaller than tails. For all
this and more plus a new Numismatic Diary, read on. Have a great
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
NBS FUN SHOW MEETING SPEAKER: RON BENICE
Regarding the Numismatic Bibliomania Society meeting at
the FUN show in Orlando, Florida, Fred Lake writes: "I
received an email from Ron Benice saying that he would
like to talk a bit about his new book on Florida Paper Money."
[Ron's book is titled 'Florida Paper Money, An Illustrated
History: 1817-1934' The NBS meeting is scheduled for Saturday,
Jan. 12, 2008 at 11am. -Editor]
NBS MEETING AT JANUARY 2008 FUN SHOW
IBNS LIBRARY FOR SALE
[Don Cleveland forwarded the following release from the
International Banknote Society - a call for offers for the
purchase of the IBNS European Library. -Editor]
At the Board meeting of the International Bank Note Society
(IBNS), held in Memphis in July 2007, it was decided to
dispose of the European Library operated by the IBNS. It
has become apparent over the last several years that there
is little to no call for the Library. Borrowings from the
Library have been extremely low and there continues to be
little call for material to be used by members. Speculation
can be made as to why this is the case, but the widespread
availability of material on the internet, the ready access
to more up-to-date material, and the high postage costs for
the borrower have all contributed to the under-use of the
It has been decided by the Board that the Library will be
sold as one lot. This document calls for offers for the Library,
which may result in the sale of the Library. Should the Library
not be sold, the Board will consider other methods of disposal.
The Library is currently stored in Prague, within the Czech
Republic. All books are in average condition, with some in
better condition and others in less-than-average condition. As
the books are already packed in storage, it is not possible to
check on specific volumes. It is estimated that the entire
Library weighs approximately one ton, but this is only a rough
By email: peter at pjsymes.com.au
By post: Peter Symes
GPO Box 933
Sydney NSW 2001
Questions concerning the Library may be directed to Peter Symes
at either address above.
Any additional information concerning this offer, including all
questions and answers by prospective bidders will be posted
periodically to the IBNS web site at
COIN BOARDS FOR SALE BY AUTHOR DAVID LANGE
David W. Lange (author of 'Coin Collecting Boards of the
1930s and 1940s') writes: "Now that my coin board book is
in print, I've begun to list my duplicate boards for sale.
I've updated my website to reflect the fact that I'm now a
buyer and seller.
[Interested readers can email Dave to request a copy of his
first price list. His address is: langedw at msn.com. The
list includes about 100 boards from makers Kent Company,
Whitman Publishing Company, Colonial Coin & Stamp Company,
Lincoln Printing Company and J. Oberwise & Company. -Editor]
To visit's Dave's Coin Collecting Boards web site, see:
DVD REVIEW: KRAUSE PUBLICATIONS STANDARD CATALOGUE OF WORLD COINS
Responding to my request last week, Tim Shuck and Roger
deWardt Lane submitted the following reviews of the DVD set
of the Krause Publications 2008 Standard Catalog of World Coins.
Tim L. Shuck of Ames, IA writes: "I purchased the “2008
Standard Catalog of World Coins 3 DVD Set” in August, taking
advantage of a post-ANA convention price special. These are
the first SCWC volumes that I’ve owned.
"There are three DVDs to match the Standard Catalogs, one
each for 1801-1900, 1901-2000, and 2001-Date. Each disk has
a main file, which is the primary catalog text, plus a two-page
how-to file. For reasons not clear to me, the 1801-1900 disc
also has a separate 47-page, 18 MB, “Intro” file, which seems
to contain information similar to that incorporated into the
main file of the other two volumes. All files are in Adobe
pdf format, viewable with Adobe Acrobat or the free Adobe
"The main files are fairly large: 1201 pages (1.84 GB) for
the 1801-1900 volume, 2232 pages (0.97 GB) for the 1901-2000
volume; and 384 pages (0.46 GB) for the 2001-Date volume.
I mention file size because I have an older Mac, and trying
to view files directly from the DVD was unbearably slow so
I copied all files to my computer hard drive for faster
access. File names were slightly inconsistent between discs,
but that was easily modified after I copied them to my computer.
"The original E-Sylum article indicated that the DVD’s
were created from the ‘original page format’, which shows
in the image quality. The “how-to” files recommend a zoom
of no more than 300%, but text is clear well beyond that
point. I can zoom up to 6400% in Acrobat, and while there
is no practical reason to do so, text was remarkably crisp
even at that level.
"For images, anything from 200% to 400% is acceptable but
pixelation becomes apparent at the higher zooms, more so
on some images than others. A zoom of 125-150% seems to be
a good balance of readability vs. the need to pan or scroll.
Curious to see how these compared to the printed versions,
I looked through the catalogs at a local book store. The
digital image quality does not seem to me to be much different
if at all from that of the printed catalogs, so I don’t think
there is any sacrifice in readability by going to the digital
"Digital viewing options include all the typical Acrobat
functionality: page-by-page flipping, thumbnails, type a
page number and press enter to jump directly to that page,
and searches. All are fairly responsive, but for searches,
particularly for more complex searches, you’ll want a robust
machine capable of quickly scanning through the all of the
information contained in these documents. A large screen is
also a definite plus, allowing you to see more of each page
with minimal scrolling, or to view multiple catalogs at
the same time.
"What I like: Three reference volumes always accessible on
my computer, with the original DVDs as backups. Industry-
standard, highly portable Adobe pdf file format. Excellent
image quality. For those with the full Acrobat version,
extended search capabilities, viewing tools, and cut-and-paste
capabilities (mind the copyright). Virtually no shelf space
required for reference works that are infrequently used.
Caveats: A fast computer is a must for ‘frustration-free’
searches and viewing. A smaller screen means more scrolling.
"In summary, I like this product even though it’s going
to push me sooner toward the expense of a computer upgrade."
Roger deWardt Lane of Hollywood, Florida writes: "The Krause
Publications 3 DVD Set is fantastic! A local dealer received
his order four weeks ago and I got the first set. I took it
home and looked around each disc. Since I have been using
computers for over forty years, DOS to XP, I next loaded the
files on my Toshiba 17” laptop that was a birthday present
18 months ago. It has 512K, but plenty of HD space. I had
Adobe Acrobat 7.0 on the PC, so when the program was ready
to view the PDF files, it used this program.
"I decided to copy the files (one from each of the 3 DVD discs)
to my laptop. First, I set up a new folder (directory) called
‘A catalog of world coins’, under My Documents. This puts it
at the top. Each file was copied. Next, I renamed the files;
1801-1900 book, 1901-2000 book and 2001-2008 book.
"To use the on hard drive files with the Acrobat Reader 8.1.1,
I had to make several improvements and changes. First, since
I only had 512k of ram and the 1801-1900 DVD file is just short
of 2GB, I had to increase my virtual memory to its near limit
at 1,990,000kb. Before I did this, reading a file was very
slow. Another way to fix this is to buy a new PC or increase
your memory to 2MB or larger. I’m thinking my next PC will
have 4MB of ram.
"One last change and I would be all set. For speed you need
to know the page number of the country you are looking for.
Each DVD has index pages, just like the books as printed.
The problem is they are like page 8 or page 10 of a larger file.
So, I exported a new PDF file of the two pages each to new
files named; 1801-1900 index, 1901-2000 index and 2001-2008
index and they group in the proper order in my new folder
on my laptop.
"I wrote Dave Harper at the time of what I had to do to use
the info in an orderly way on my laptop. I recommended a
readmefirst.html with instructions, an auto load or menu in
html and finally – printed instructions on the back of the
"Anyway, the cons aside, this project is the ‘GREATEST’.
I took my laptop to our club meeting last week and as I got
ready to make two small purchases, I was able to look up
the coins, to confirm what I thought I already knew. During
the show & tell part of the meeting, I demoed the book on
my PC, which everyone enjoyed. I hope the wait for the DVD
of their new 1701-1800 edition won't be too long."
To order the 3 DVD set of the 2008 Standard Catalog of World Coins, see:
KRAUSE PUBLICATIONS OFFERS WORLD COIN STANDARD CATALOGS ON DVD
BOOK IN PROGRESS: CURRENCY WARS
An article in Monday's Christian Science Monitor states:
"It's time to answer questions about North Korea's long-reported
production and laundering of high-quality counterfeit US $100
notes. There's a good opportunity at hand: an unusual meeting
this week in New York between senior US and North Korean
officials. One of its purposes is to reopen talks about
Pyongyang's alleged illicit financial operations."
In earlier E-Sylum articles we've discussed the suspected
counterfeiting of U.S. currency by North Korea. The interesting
thing for numismatic bibliophiles is a note about an upcoming
book by the article's author:
"John K. Cooley is a former Monitor correspondent in the
Middle East and at the Pentagon. His forthcoming book,
'Currency Wars,' deals with counterfeit money as a weapon
of covert warfare by governments throughout history."
Amazon lists the book's full title as "Currency Wars: How
Forged Money is the New Weapon of Mass Destruction" with
a May 1, 2008 release date. There is no further information
available on the publisher's web site (www.SkyhorsePublishing.com).
To read the complete article, see:
BOOK REVIEW: 100 GREATEST AMERICAN MEDALS AND TOKENS
Alan V. Weinberg writes: "Having read the E-Sylum comments
on the Bowers/Jaeger '100 Greatest American Medals and Tokens'
I thought I'd put my two cents in.
"It is a visually stunning book and an absolute bargain at
retail $29.95. One would reasonably expect this book to be
a $75- $100 book were it not for the printing source in China.
"Like Dick Johnson and numerous other book contributors I've
talked to, I do not think the OPA ration tokens and state
sales tax tokens belonged in the "100 Greatest" or, for that
matter, anyplace in the rankings. The two types of tokens
are generally regarded as a nuisance to most exonumia
collectors and dealers ('I've got some old rare tokens in
my grandfather's collection ...gee, what are they worth?')
and have an extremely limited collector following. These
two tokens impact the exonumia hobby largely in a negative
way. And to my knowledge, they've never brought new collectors
into the market. Selected rarities in the "2nd 100" ranking
in the book's back could have easily filled these two slots.
One prominent contributor said to me in Baltimore, the
inclusion of these two tokens - the OPA and tax tokens -
'cheapens the book'. I agree. But as with any new book,
there's going to be a weakness. And this is one of the
very few, although prominent.
"As to the respective comments by author Katie Jaeger and
our E-Sylum editor that the MicMac Washington medal had
never before been depicted in the general numismatic circulation
and that the primitive appearance of the medal was unattractive:
both are inaccurate. The MicMac medal is pictured and catalogued
in the 1999 Krause Medallic Portraits of Washington by Rulau /
Fuld page 91 and in a slightly earlier Numismatist. And at
the very least, John Kraljevich and this writer have physically
handled the British Museum's MicMac medal and both have described
the medal as aesthetically and historically awe-inspiring due
to its unique and well-crafted (not primitive) design, its
condition (absolute Mint), and its provenance - direct from
King George III to the British Museum in 1800."
[I stand corrected on both points about the Micmac medal.
It was indeed pictured in the 1999 Washington book. I've
never seen one of the medals in person. I guess I had my
chance while I was at the British Museum this summer and blew
it. This'll be on my list should I have the opportunity to
BOOK REVIEWS: 100 GREATEST AMERICAN MEDALS AND TOKENS BY JAEGER AND BOWERS
KING LOUIS XV’S COPY OF FAMED MEDAL BOOK FAILS TO SELL
Hadrien Rambach writes: "I am very surprised to report
that the medal book at Christie's in Paris did not sell at
the auction this week. In the same sale, lot 233 sold for
EUR 1,125 including Buyer's Premium - it was a 1645 edition
of Goltzius, a rather worn copy bound in calf.
"The current uncertainties of the market (stock, real-estate,
gold, etc.) may explain this disappointing result, as could
the strikes currently going on in France. Anyway, I therefore
expect the owner to offer it now for private sale, so whoever
buys it may certainly get a bargain!"
CHRISTIE'S SALE OF KING LOUIS XV’S COPY OF FAMED MEDAL BOOK
MORE ON CHRISTIE'S SALE OF KING LOUIS XV’S COPY OF FAMED MEDAL BOOK
SUBSCRIBER PROFILE: ERIK J. VAN LOON
One of our newest subscribers (thanks to Tom Michael of
Krause Publications) is Erik J. van Loon of Holland.
Curious, I asked Erik if he was in any way related to the
author of the book on Obsidional Coinage, Gerard van Loon
Erik writes: "I am not aware of any relationship with
Gerard van Loon. The reason why I'm interested in coins
was that my father left a small box with 16 coins in 1944.
He was arrested and sent to a concentration camp in Germany.
After the war he remained missing and as a kid I played with
the coins and began to collect more to surprise my father
should he return. The Red Cross mailed us in 1950 that he
"There was no money to buy coins or numismatic books my
first twenty years, so I started to collect more knowledge
about coins though I do have a small collection too. Since
1975 I've been a contributor to the Standard Catalogue of
World Coins and since 1999 I have been working as a volunteer
at the Dutch Mint Museum."
COIN WORLD REDESIGN PROTOTYPE ISSUE
Regarding the recent Coin World redesign, David F. Fanning
writes: "A September 24, 2007-dated prototype exists that
was printed in order to show advertisers and columnists
what the new format would look like. The cover has a lovely
photo of the Washington/Lafayette Cincinnati medal. Beth
Deisher told me that she thought 5000 copies had been printed."
NUMISMATIC NEWSPAPERS REACH MILESTONES
ON COIN WORLD'S NEW MAGAZINE-STYLE FORMAT
MORE ON THE SIMPSON PATTERN COLLECTION
Regarding last week's Associated Press story about the $30+
million sale of pattern coins, Saul Teichman writes: "The
seller, although well known in numismatics circles, wishes
to remain anonymous. I was a consultant to and occasional
bidder for the seller as he purchased pieces for the collection.
Believe me, it was a pleasure to have had any involvement in
the building of this collection and the seller is one of the
true gentlemen in our business."
To read the NCG press release about the pattern collection, see:
Donn Pearlman writes: "Naturally, a story written for the
general news media and non-collectors would not contain the
kind of specific details a hobby audience would seek.
Attached is a copy of the "hobby/trade news media" press
release issued on behalf of Legend Numismatics, the broker
of the historic transaction, that does contain additional
details about some of the 1,000 coins that changed hands."
[Some of the press release highlights are excerpted below.
"No specific venues or dates have been selected yet, but
Simpson and Legend Numismatics plan to publicly exhibit some
of the pattern pieces at various coin shows around the country.
"Simpson now has the only complete collection of Amazonian
pattern coins in all metals: gold, copper, aluminum and gilt.
The impressive pedigree of the six gold coins includes former
U.S. Treasury Secretary William Woodin; news media executive
F.C.C. Boyd; Egyptian King Farouk; numismatic researcher and
patterns reference book author Dr. J. Hewitt Judd; noted
patterns collector Dr. John E. Wilkison; and industrialist
Ed Trompeter. The denominations of the unique gold coins are
$1; $2.50 (Quarter Eagle); $3; $5 (Half Eagle); $10 (Eagle);
and $20 (Double Eagle).
"Previous records for the most valuable private transactions
involving coin collections or coin sets include the 1998
purchase of the Trompeter gold coin collection by Heritage
Rare Coin Galleries for $15,177,500, and the 2005 purchase
of the King of Siam proof set for $8.5 million by Rare Coin
"The inventory of the purchase is over 70 pages long. Combined
with Mr. Simpson’s own pattern collection, he now has several
hundred duplicates. ... The pattern collection assembled by
Mr. Simpson ranks among one of the most significant in American
numismatics today. Put into context, the scope of this recent
transaction rivals William Woodin’s legendary acquisition of
pattern coins directly from the Mint Cabinet in exchange for
the two gold Half Unions."
[And no, the purchaser is not O.J. Simpson. -Editor]
LEGEND NUMISMATICS SELLS U.S. PATTERN COLLECTION
QUERY: 1876 CENTENNIAL C.A.G.E. MEDAL
Ron Abler writes: "I just won a Centennial medal on eBay that
I have read about but never seen before. The picture confirms
the description in Holland's list published 1876-1877: 'Memorial
Hall, below a head to R. 1876 C.A.G.E. The Medal is in the
form of a St. Andrew’s cross with a rosebud in each of the
eight corners.' The reverse is blank.
"My question is: does anyone know what C.A.G.E. stands for?
I have been unable to find anything that helps in any way.
I would appreciate any information or leads that your readers
might be able to provide. Thank you. Keep up the great work
with the E-Sylum!"
1805/4 HALF DOLLAR REFERENCES SOUGHT
Bryce Brown writes: "I'm looking for copies of the Forman, Taxay,
& Associates "Philadelphia Metropolitan" auction catalog of
December 6-7, 1976 and/or Prices Realized List and the Sheridan
Downey Fixed Price List of July 1987.
"In the Forman/Taxay sale, lot #150 was an 1805/4 O.103 half
dollar - can any readers let me know the price realized for this
lot? And, in the Downey FPL, I'm trying to find out if it
contains an 1805/4 O.103 half dollar (or any Flowing Hair or
Draped half dollars, for that matter). Thanks!"
STRANGE BUT TRUE? MATHEMETICIAN SAYS CENT'S HEADS SIDE SMALLER THAN TAILS
Regarding last week's item about measurements of the Lincoln
Cent, Dave Lange writes: "It seems quite likely that the U. S.
Mint uses collars the inside diameter of which is not exactly
tangent to its upper and lower faces. A slight taper would
facilitate ejection of the struck coins from the collars and
reduce jamming. Since the reverse of the coins is evidently
the larger diameter, this means that the coins must be ejected
in that direction."
"I don't know whether such a taper to the bore of the collar
was used when coins were struck vertically in the old Bliss
presses. Perhaps, this is something new that dates to the
adoption of the current Schuler presses that strike cents
in a horizontal stroke at a much higher rate than previously.
It would be instructive to undertake the same mathematical
test with uncirculated cents of the 1980s or earlier."
[Now that makes perfect sense! Thanks - I'm willing to
declare the mystery solved, although it would be interesting
if we could hear confirmation from a U.S. Mint engineer.
>From the response the book's author got, it sounds like the
Mint's public relations folks aren't talking with knowledgeable
internal contacts. -Editor]
STRANGE BUT TRUE? MATHEMETICIAN SAYS CENT'S HEADS SIDE SMALLER THAN TAILS
FAROUK SALE BUYER INFORMATION SOUGHT
Leon Worden writes: "I thought there might be an E-Sylum
reader or two who would get a kick out of this ad I came
across in the December 1953 edition of The Numismatist:
'(I) will attend the sale of the Numismatic Collection
from the Palace Collections of Egypt at the Koubbeh Palace
in Cairo next February 24th to March 6th, and will be glad
to execute commissions for any A.N.A. member at a fee of 7 1/2%.
If you want to be sure of receiving the Catalogue, write to
Robert E. Hecht...' "
[Leon is offering this query as a quiz question - Can anyone
tell us who Robert Hecht was? We are both interested in
learning if there is any record of his actually attending
the 1954 Farouk sale, and if so, what lots he purchased.
SURVEY: READING AT RISK
Jeff Reichenberger writes: "I read about a disturbing trend
that should be of interest to bibliophiles of all genres.
Your son bringing you a book from his school library prompted
me to send you this.
"The National Endowment for the Arts recently published survey
findings that literary reading in America is in dramatic
decline. Perhaps no surprise with the Internet and countless
other entertainment options these days. However, the scale
of the decline is what is frightening.
"The comprehensive survey called 'Reading at Risk' covers 20
years, 1982 - 2002, and involved over 17,000 adults, covering
demographic groups by age, gender, race, education, region, etc.
"Some of the findings include:
* A 10% overall decline in literary reading over the 20
year period. This 10% represents a loss of 20 million readers.
* Less than half of the adult American population now reads
* Reading is in decline among all age groups.
* (most toublesome) The steepest decline is among the
youngest age groups. 18 - 24 = 28% decline. 25 - 34 = 23%
"The paper is filled with charts and in-depth analysis of
every aspect of the study. The conclusions appear grim and
"Parents have always known that it is important to make
reading a strong and enjoyable component of everyday life,
and it is getting harder and harder for books to compete
with computers, video games, and celphone-ipod-blackberry-thingamabobs. Unfortunately, it appears we must work even harder to
stem the literary slide in America. I'm going to start by
putting books at the top of the Christmas list. Next, I'm
going to start asking friends and family what they are reading.
"The entire survey (60 pages) is very interesting and
readable and can be downloaded in pdf format at:
PUBLISHING TREND: CONTENT FOR FREE – IS NUMISMATICS NEXT?
Dick Johnson writes: "If a person is savvy to analyze a
current event he might be able to project this into future
and recognize an early trend leading to something that will
affect many people and how they will live their lives in the
future. One of those prophetic events occurred this week.
"The Internet has grossly affected the publishing world -
so much so that it is affecting billion dollar purchases.
It has influenced one man in particular who made a prophetic
announcement this week.
"Publishing guru Rupert Murdoch told investors that after
he has full control of the Wall Street Journal he is going
to give it away! He wants to raise readership from one million
to 15 million a day! He believes he will reap more profits
from the advertising than he would from the loss of selling
"If this trend catches on you could someday subscribe to
every numismatic publication you want for free.
" 'Subscriptions thrive in an area where there's scarcity
— content that people can't get anywhere else,' said Rafat
Ali, publisher of PaidContent.org, told The New York Times.
'Other than that, you need an advertising-based model,'
"Most other major news organizations long ago gave up on
charging for their work, hoping to make the difference up
in ads. And, until only recently, that seemed like a distant
"No more. There’s big money online now — very big.
"Internet ad revenues hit $5.2 billion in the third quarter,
up 25 percent over the third quarter one year earlier,
according to a study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau
and PricewaterhouseCoopers. All three quarters in 2007 set
records, the IAB found. Experts estimate it will be a $20
"Numismatic publications on the internet anyone?"
AUSTRALIAN CLAIMS HE HAS A $1 MILLION PENNY
Dick Johnson writes: "The owner of the Australian 1930 proof
penny claims he has turned down an offer to buy the coin from
him for one million dollars. He rejected the offer. Or, as it
was reported in the Australian press, he 'knocked back an
offer of $1million.'
"The press also stated it is the most famous copper coin of
the 20th century and called it 'the holy grail of the coin
"The article in the Sydney Herald tells why the coin is so
valuable. It was the first year of issue, it was struck in
proof. And only six were made. Three are in museums. Only
three are in private hands.
" 'On Tuesday, for the first time,' the article continued,
'one of the privately owned million-dollar pennies will go
on display at the historic ANZ Gothic Bank building in
Melbourne.' It will be exhibited along with Australia's
first coin, the Holey Dollar. "
To read the complete article, see:
GUARDIAN ARTICLE DEBATES U.K.'S NEED FOR COPPER COINS
[David Sundman forwarded this article from the U.K.'s
Guardian newspaper. -Editor]
'I don't think people on either side of the till would
lament the passing of the 1p and 2p,' says Matthew Knowles,
spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses. 'Some
people might worry that an item that's currently 99p would
be rounded up, but changing that to a pound isn't going to
cause too much of a problem. Handling small coins is time-
consuming, and with the disappearance of bank branches and
post offices there are fewer places to deposit cash. Many
of our members would be glad to see them go. It would make
life a lot easier.'
As prices rise across the world, low-denomination coins
are coming under increasing threat. Australia and New Zealand
abandoned one- and two-cent coins in the 1990s, and last
year the fearless Kiwis got rid of the five-cent piece as
well — and there is no evidence that the move has been
inflationary, or that shoppers have been inconvenienced.
The cent is also under attack in the US and Canada, and
in some parts of Euroland, with businesses arguing that
transactions are speeded up if small denominations are
'Are these people crazy?' said one respondent. 'I'd like
to see the inflation rate when we do that.' Another wondered
where you would stop. 'After a few years the same people would
moan, 'What about the 5p? It doesn't buy anything.'' And a
man in Gateshead invited all the 'shrapnel'-hating Londoners
to send their coppers to him. (What an ugly, self-satisfied
term 'shrapnel' is when applied to loose change: there are
parts of the world where this shrapnel is what you'd get
for a day's work.)
It may be like voting Conservative: what people tell pollsters
they do with low-denomination coins and what they actually
do may be two different things. 'People love them and hate
them at the same time,' says Catherine Eagleton, curator
of modern money at the British Museum.
Keith Cottrell, director of sales at the Royal Mint, is
also sceptical of suggestions that people in the UK can
no longer be bothered with low-denomination coins. 'In
Italy and elsewhere in Europe, people rarely wait for their
small change,' he says, 'but here they almost always do.'
We may put coins in charity boxes, collect them in jars for
a rainy day and then forget about them, ignore them if we
see them lying in the street, but he's unwilling to believe
we have yet reached the stage where we are deliberately
throwing them away.
Whether they survive or not, one thing is certain — coppers
are not what they were. Both at the Mint and on a tour of
the vast coin collection at the British Museum, I was shown
a 2d piece dating from 1797 — a monster coin actually made
of copper, unlike today's copper-plated steel imitations,
and weighing two ounces. (The 'd' in 2d stands for denarii,
the plural of denarius, which was a Roman coin. That we
were still using a Roman-derived abbreviation in 1971 shows
the remarkable continuity of the pre-decimal coinage.) If
you dislike having to carry today's small change, imagine
being weighed down by a few of those 2d coins. While there
is evidence that many people no longer stoop to pick up
coppers they see in the street, if this was laying on the
pavement you would have to make a detour to get around it.
In 1963, Danny Kaye starred in a film called The Man From
the Diner's Club. It has not left a strong imprint on movie
history, but according to the British Museum's Eagleton it
deserves at least a footnote in financial history. She has
supplied it, too — a picture of the poster for the film
appears in the history of money she has helped co-author
for the museum. It may be the catchline on the poster that
appeals to her: 'The funniest picture since money went out
of style!' Her point is that, 44 years on, money hasn't
gone out of style. Plastic may have been around for half
a century, but cash is far from dead, despite the eagerness
of banks and retailers to kill it off.
Back at the Royal Mint, Cottrell has his own version of
the Danny Kaye story. Thirty years ago, he joined a company
making bank notes and went in on the first day fired with
enthusiasm. It was soon dampened. 'You know you've joined
a dying industry,' said the man charged with doing the
induction. Three decades on, Cottrell is still making a
good living out of cash.
Plastic may gradually be winning the war, but cash is
putting up stern resistance. Cash still accounts for 63%
of all payments by volume; cards overtook cash in value
terms only three years ago; and plastic is not predicted
to overtake cash in volume of transactions until 2014.
To read the complete article, see:
WAYNE'S NUMISMATIC DIARY: NOVEMBER 25, 2007
On Monday afternoon I participated in a ritual many U.S.
coin collectors are familiar with - ordering coins from
the U.S. Mint. At noon the new Dolley Madison commemorative
gold coins went on sale and I was eager to purchase one. I
had met designer Joel Iskowitz at the PAN show in October
and been impressed with his design for the coin's reverse.
I was able to order an Uncirculated example and look forward
to receiving it. I'll also be curious to learn the final
mintage of the piece. The high price of gold may have
deterred some buyers.
Monday evening was the occasion of the second meeting of
the numismatic social group I started in Northern Virginia.
Last month's inaugural dinner was attended by just myself,
Roger Burdette and Wayne Herndon. This month we added three
new faces: Joseph Levine, David Schenkman and Thomas Kays.
Joe Levine of Clifton, VA has dealt in tokens, medals and
Political Americana for over 30 years as Presidential Coin
& Antique Company. He is the author of the 'Collectors
Guide to Presidential Inaugural Medals and Memorabilia'
(1980), the standard reference on this subject, and he has
been a member of the Official Presidential Inaugural Medals
Committee for 1981, 1985, 1989, 1993,1997, 2001 & 2005.
Dave Schenkman is equally accomplished in U.S. exonomia circles.
Hailing from Byrantown in Southern Maryland, Dave edits the
TAMS Journal, official publication of the Token and Medal Society.
Dave has authored countless articles on tokens and a number of
books including, 'A Survey of American Trade Tokens', 'Bimetallic
Trade Tokens of the United States', 'Explosive Control Tokens',
'Civil War Sutler Tokens and Cardboard Scrip' and 'Merchant
tokens of Washington, D.C'.
Tom Kays is a longtime E-Sylum subscriber, as are Joe and
Dave. Tom lives near Mount Vernon, VA and is working on a
book about coins that once circulated in colonial Virginia.
He researches treasure tales for numismatic value and collect
"grubby cobs, cut silver, coppers, counterfeits and the new
Federal coinage that went missing long before the Civil War."
We met at a restaurant in The Galleria Mall in Tyson's Corner,
VA. Roger, Tom and Joe were already there when I arrived.
It was nice to meet Tom and finally put a face to the name.
Wayne and David Schenkman arrived shortly afterwards and we
made our way to a table and after getting through the decision
and chore of ordering our dinners we got down to talk of
Both Joe and Wayne had had tables at the recent show in
Baltimore and both reported having great shows. Joe told me
he'd sold a silver Libertas Americana medal and a nice original
Washington Before Boston medal. Coincidentally (or perhaps
not so coincidentally), these were the #1 and #2 items in the
recent Whitman '100 Greatest American Medals and Tokens' book.
Dave Schenkman brought along a few interesting tokens. He
writes: "Two of the items I brought were what I consider to
be among the most unusual transportation tokens. They were
issued by Alexander McCully, who operated a livery, bus and
transfer business in Oswego, Kansas during the late 19th and
early 20th century. Both of his tokens were good for return
fare from the local hotel to the train depot. One of them is
an encased 1904 cent, and is the only known encased cent
transportation token. The other one is a silver dollar size
aluminum token which, on one side, gives a testimonial to
Rounds’ Sprague, who was a champion racehorse owned by McCully.
Both tokens are rare; no more than four or five each probably
"The other piece was a 38mm bronze medalet issued by Eugene
P. Bachmann, a Philadelphia die sinker which, on the reverse,
wished the reader “A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.” It
arrived in the mail that day, so I brought it along. The
piece is quite rare; I’ve never seen another example."
Tom Kays brought along a couple of interesting old books
with descriptions of the day-to-day use of coins in colonial
times along with a very interesting display of cut coins and
other items unearthed in Virginia. The cut coins offer proof
of how colonists made small change as well as what coins they
used to make change. Tom explained some of the research he'd
been doing, and I'm certain his work will go a long way toward
revising our understanding of early coinage in America.
As our dinners arrived Dave took one look at my heaping plate
of spaghetti and asked, "That's a half order? - Half of what,
what they had back in the kitchen?" The food and drink flowed
freely and we all had a marvelous time. We made plans to
schedule most of our meetings on the second Tueaday of the
month. We'll skip December because of the rushed holiday season
and resume in January.
Joe Levine brought along an interesting (and heavy!) show and
tell item. It was a cast bronze plaque by Felix de Weldon that
Joe had purchased for himself in his last auction. Made in 1945,
it is a tribute to the motion picture industry's contributions
to the World War II effort. Shaped like a metal film reel, the
center has an image of the classic flag-raising on Iwo Jima.
Each of the seven "reel holes" contains scenes ranging from war
bond drives, recruitment drives, troops being entertained by
watching a film, etc. It's a great work of metallic art that
I'd certainly never seen before, and neither had Joe in his 37
years in the business.
I went out into the drizzly and foggy evening for the drive
home, quite happy that the group is getting off to a great
Later in the week I noticed an article about how a $10,000
'finders award' would be given by the Professional Coin Grading
Service to someone who'd reported the first 2007 Sacagawea dollar
with an edge lettered like a Presidential dollar. I dropped
a quick email to PCGS President Ron Guth, telling him he's kind
of like the "numismatic tooth fairy". Thankfully, Ron was amused.
When it arrives I'll put my Dolley Madison coin under my pillow.
Not too much else to report numismatically this week, but I
did receive a package from Pam West in England with a copy of
the 1987 book, "As Good As Gold - 300 Years of British Bank
Note Design". When we spoke at the coin fair my last day in
London I asked about books covering the topic and luckily she
had one of these for sale.
On Sunday I talked my wife into a family outing. It was a cold
but sunny day and more or less on a whim we packed everyone in
our van and headed toward Charles Town, WV. Not Charleston, but
Charles Town. Charles Washington was the youngest full brother
of President George Washington, and he laid out the little town
At nearby Harper's Ferry John Brown staged an 1859 raid on the
U.S. Arsenal that set off a chain of events leading to the U.S.
Civil War. Brown was tried and convicted at the Jefferson County
Courthouse in Charles Town and later hanged nearby. The courthouse
still stands there today at the center of this quaint town of
under 4,000 people.
For more on the Jefferson County Courthouse in Charles Town, see:
VOCABULARY WORD: PINCHBECK
It's not exactly numismatic, but words relating to metals are
of interest to serious numismatists. This week the "Word A Day"
list published this entry:
pinchbeck (PINCH-bek) noun
An alloy of zinc and copper, used as imitation gold
Counterfeit or spurious.
[After watchmaker Christopher Pinchbeck (1670-1732), who
invented it. It's ironic that today his name is a synonym
for something counterfeit but in his time his fame was
worldwide, not only as the inventor of this curious alloy
but also as a maker of musical clocks and orreries*.
The composition of this gold-like alloy was a closely-guarded
secret but it didn't prevent others from passing off articles
as if made from this alloy... faking fake gold!]
JUDGE CONSIDERS SUIT ADVOCATING BLIND-FRIENDLY CHANGES TO U.S. PAPER MONEY
[An Associated Press article this week provided an update
on the suit on behalf of the blind seeking changes to U.S.
paper money. Here are some excerpts. -Editor]
A federal appeals court seems troubled that blind people
are unable to distinguish between a $50 bill and a $1 bill,
but judges appeared reluctant Monday to force a redesign of
The case erupted last year when a judge said the government
discriminated against the blind by keeping bills the same
color, shape and texture. He gave the Treasury Department
just days to begin solving the problem, but changes have been
put on hold while appeals play out.
Judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
Circuit did not rule immediately, but they seemed wary of the
"Where does this stop?" asked Judge A. Raymond Randolph. Are
postage stamps illegal? Government Web sites? When mail
carriers leave handwritten notes on front doors, are they
discriminating against blind people?
"Congress has had many opportunities to do exactly what
you're asking us to do and they said 'No,'" Judge Thomas B.
Griffith said. "What's keeping us from seeing this as simply
an end run on the political process?"
The issue is divisive even among advocacy groups. Scott C.
LaBarre, an attorney for the National Federation of the Blind,
sided in court with the government rather than with the American
Council of the Blind. LaBarre, who is blind, said there are
more important issues facing blind people.
"No regulation can make a blind person see," he said. "No
law can make me see the bill, see the postage stamp or see
the federal building."
To read the complete article, see:
MONEY NOT COUNTERFEIT - IT'S JUST OLD
[Sometimes it's better to just collect old paper money than
try to spend it - a man in Indiana found that his old bills
being called counterfeit by unknowledgeable clerks. -Editor]
Bill Stamper withdrew three $20 bills from a Indianapolis
south side ATM Saturday night. He gave one of the bills
to his nephew.
Stamper says there was a problem when his nephew tried to
spend the bill.
"He used it the next day at Gas America and they said it
was no good it was counterfeit."
Turns out they weren't bogus, just old.
"The interesting part is that the years are 1950 and 1963
and fresh out of a bank ATM seemed a little unusual."
The pens used to check the validity of bills don't work
on currency that old.
To read the complete article, see:
FIRST SPOUSES GOLD: JOEL ISKOWITZ' DOLLEY MADISON COIN RELEASED
[The Dolley Madison coins were launched in a White House
ceremony this week. -Editor]
First Lady Laura Bush paid tribute Monday to "one of
America's most beloved first ladies" - Dolley Madison -
at the unveiling of a coin in Madison's honor.
Madison's coin, unveiled by Mint Director Edmund Moy, is
the fourth in the first ladies coins, the first coin series
to honor only women. The series moves chronologically;
already in coin are Martha Washington, Abigail Adams and
Lady Liberty, who appears in lieu of a first lady for
Thomas Jefferson, who was not married at the time of his
Carlynn Walker, a fifth-grader at Pearl Sample Elementary
School in Culpeper, Va., and Lucinda Frailly, an actress
playing Dolley Madison, noted Madison's famous rescue of
a portrait of George Washington when the British marched
into the nation's capital during the War of 1812 and set
fire to the White House. The portrait was hanging in the
East Room of the White House where Monday's ceremony took place.
To read the complete article, see:
[The Dolley Madison reverse was designed by Joel Iskowitz
of Woodstock, New York, a U.S. Mint Artistic Infusion Program
Master Designer. The image was sculpted by Don Everhart,
United States Mint sculptor-engraver. -Editor]
To read the complete article, see:
THANKSGIVING IN THE U.S. AND THE U.K.
The Good Clean Funnies list published this joke about
A few years ago, an American and a British journalist
were discussing Thanksgiving on a British radio program.
The American asked if Thanksgiving was celebrated in the UK.
"Yes," the British journalist replied, "but we celebrate
it on the 6th of September."
"That's when you chaps left."
To read the joke on GCFL, see:
STAMP COLLECTORS RUN AMOK IN ARKANSAS (NOT REALLY)
The Spoof satire site reports this story from Luxie,
Arkansas (excerpted). -Editor]
"This town of 3,000 inhabitants in southeast Arkansas
presents an idyllic face to a first-time visitor, with
boys playing marbles on street corners and girls performing
elaborate 'Double Dutch' jump-rope routines in bare-dirt
"That small-town tranquility was shattered recently,
however, when a rumor began to spread that a national
philatelist group would hold its annual convention at
the Motel 6 on the edge of town.
"Philately (pronounced 'phi-LAT-a-lee'), the collection
and study of postage stamps, is often confused with
pederasty, a word with Greek roots that refers to erotic
love between men and boys, with sometimes tragic results.
"'We were run out of Sheboygan, Wisconsin,' says Earl
Buntrock, a life-long stamp collector who tried to explain
the distinction between the two activities to the manager
of the Holiday Inn his group, the American Philatelists
Association, had booked for a stamp show. 'Then they turned
over our $250 deposit to the police.'
"In Luxie, a committee of concerned citizens was formed to
halt the spread of philately, with volunteers giving speeches
to church groups and civic organizations. 'We don't want our
little town turned into New York City, or Hot Springs,' said
Lowell Hammer, president of the Chamber of Commerce.
"'You guys are lucky,' said Opal Lamine, Saline County
Recorder, to the philatelists as they moved through the
buffet line at a 'My Bad!' friendship breakfast designed to
smooth over hard feelings. 'We lynched a numismatist last
To read the complete article, see:
[QUICK QUIZ: Yes, there is a numismatic bibliophile connection
to the topic of pederasty. What numismatic author wrote a
book on the subject? -Editor]
FEATURED WEB SITE: THE HIGGINS MUSEUM OF NATIONAL BANKNOTES
This week's featured web site is the Higgins Museum of
National Banknotes in Okoboji, Iowa.
"Visitors to the Higgins Museum have the opportunity to view
and enjoy the largest collection of National Bank Note issues
on permanent exhibit anywhere in the country. The Museum opened
in 1978, its stated purpose being the acquisition, preservation
and display of the notes, related artifacts and pertinent
reference materials relating to the National Bank Note issuance
era for educational purposes."
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization
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To join, print the application and return it with your check
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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:
dsundman at LittletonCoin.com
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