The E-Sylum v11#07, February 17, 2008
esylum at binhost.com
esylum at binhost.com
Sun Feb 17 19:54:56 PST 2008
Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 11, Number 07, February 17, 2008:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2008, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
WAYNE'S WORDS: THE E-SYLUM FEBRUARY 17, 2008
Among our recent subscribers are Rick Gross, courtesy of Alan
Weinberg, Jim Bevill, Brenda Costner and Stephen Mihm. Welcome
aboard! We now have 1,113 subscribers, who are being treated
to a whopper of an issue this week. While not every issue is
quite this lengthy, the mix of topics is quite typical - numismatic
research queries and answers, first-hand reports from witnesses to
numismatic history, some interesting items culled from news reports,
and the first-time publication of some interesting information
related to numismatics.
This week we open with sad news of the death of Sam Pennington,
who was a regular correspondent on the topic of medals. He
will be missed.
We have a number of book announcements and reviews this week
including Testimonia Numaria (volume II), Berk's "100 Greatest
Ancient Coins", Bowers-Sundman's "100 Greatest American Currency
Notes", and Ambio's "Collecting and Investing Strategies for U.S.
Gold Coins". Also, Fred Reed provides an update on his upcoming
work titled 'ABRAHAM LINCOLN, the Image of His Greatness: Ideal,
Idol & Icon'.
Responses to earlier items include George Kolbe on things
found in books, plus other topics such as coins struck to
commemorate the reign of Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii and
the answer to our quiz question. One new query involves coins
and medals at the Library of Congress; another relates to
Columbia University's Lombat Prize for numismatics.
The top item in the news this week is welcome word of the safe
return of New Zealand's stolen medals. Next comes word of
storm damage to a fascinating 1850's "Counterfeit House" in
Ohio, and a great article on the making of "The Counterfeiters",
a film based on the true story of Operation Bernhard, the Nazi
concentration camp counterfeiting operation during WWII.
In the "just for fun" department is a discussion and link
to the 1951 Amos and Andy television episode about a rare coin.
Be sure to watch it!
Other interesting topics include Alan Weinberg's coverage of
Heritage's sale of the Walter Husak collection of early large
cents, and a great account of a heated altercation between
prominent former Philadelphia Mint personnel in 1895. To learn
which numismatic personalities whacked one another with a cane
and an umbrella, read on. Have a great week, everyone.
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
MEDAL MAVEN SAM PENNINGTON OF THE MAINE ANTIQUE DIGEST 1928-2007
Dave Bowers writes: "I was distressed to read in ANTIQUE WEEK
that Sam Pennington, founder of Maine Antique Digest passed
away on February 2nd at the age of 79.
"A few years ago Sam discovered numismatics, and jumped
into medals with both feet, starting a medals column in M.A.D.
Meanwhile he formed a collection on the 'because I like it'
basis--perhaps the best way to collect.
"About 20 years ago Sam was thinking of getting involved in
coins one way or another, journalism-wise, and called me
about his publishing a guide to auction records in the field.
This never happened. He was 'numismatically aware' and kept
his finger on the coin hobby, even before he went into medals.
"He was a great man, a great asset to the collecting fraternity."
Dick Johnson writes: "I am devastated to learn of Sam
Pennington's death. We were planning to do so much together
for the future. He was a customer of mine for items of medallic
art 25 years ago, but his interest in medals really blossomed
in recent years. We formed a mutual friendship based on a
strong similar interest.
"He observed the specialized interest of the readers to his
monthly Maine Antique Digest, particularly after introducing
a column on jewelry. He wanted a similar column on medallic
art that he would likewise publish every month. In November
2006 he asked me to write that column. I refused, citing my
desire to finish several books underway, but instead offered
to furnish him as much background information as he wanted.
"He started that monthly Medals Column in the June 2007
issue of M.A.D. He wrote about medallic art that interested
him -- the medallic ashtrays of Paul Manship and other artists.
He had been acquiring these for a number of years. He obtained
photos of those he did not own and photographed those with
his Olympic camera he did. Since most had been made by
Medallic Art Company, I was able to furnish him some of
that promised background data.
"As predicted, his readers responded with medals they had
in their possession. The inevitable questions, "Can you
tell me anything about my ..." and, of course, "what is it
worth?" Sam attempted to answer all. He published their
photos and added comments. When I gave him so much background
data it nearly filled a column, Sam paid me as if I were the
author, despite the fact he wrote the entire piece.
"In his most recent column (number 8) he answered just
such a reader's inquiry for an IBM medal made just before
World War II. Sam often told me readers want to know the
value, always. So I should always give my opinion of its
worth. I mentioned its most recent auction sale was $397
in one of Joe Levine's auctions. I noted the extensive
damage to the edge and rims and commented on its deteriorated
condition. I suggested its value at $40 to $50.
"On the phone Sam commented 'I'd pay $400 for that medal.'
After quoting my comments, Sam appended in print: 'Author
Sam Pennington disagrees on the estimated value. He suggests
the medal in its present state should be worth at least its
1988 auction price of $397.'
"I smiled after reading that, but blushed at the brief
data on me under that article.
"Sam was like that. Always kind, giving, understanding,
cooperative. He encouraged and supported me in my research
on medallic artists. He wanted to see my databank on coin
and medal artists published and had requested a copy before
then -- a number of times. His persistence and encouragement
reached a peak after the FIDEM Congress, I gave in and
sent him a disc of that artists databank.
"One of the projects we had discussed for the future was
to reestablish the Society of Medalists. That may not
happen soon without the support of Sam Pennington."
AMERICAN NUMISMATIC SOCIETY SEEKS LIBRARIAN
[The ANS is seeking candidates to fill the position of
retiring librarian Frank Campbell. You wouldn't be reading
The E-Sylum if you didn't have a love and respect for
numismatic literature. Most of us are hobbyists and may
lack the background required for such a position, but one
of you just might be the person ANS is looking for to fill
some very big shoes. If you're up for a challenge in return
for spending your days knee-deep in numismatic literature
at one of the best such libraries in the world, please
contact the Society. Similarly, if you know someone in
the library or information management fields, please
encourage them to apply. -Editor]
The American Numismatic Society seeks to appoint a Librarian
with effective date as soon as possible. The American
Numismatic Society maintains a museum and research institution
dedicated to numismatics of all periods and countries. For
more information visit www.numismatics.org
The ANS Library is the leading numismatic library in North
America and one of the strongest in the world. The Librarian's
position is endowed. It serves the Societys curatorial
staff, the annual Eric P. Newman Summer Seminar in numismatics,
scholars, and collectors with collections of books, articles,
catalogues, and primary documents covering the full range
of subjects relevant to the history of the worlds currencies
and medallic art. The Librarians duties include the continued
development of this distinctive collection and a range of
services to users. The Librarian will lead the move of the
collections to new quarters in the summer of 2008 and the
migration of its collection and catalog to conform to modern
standards. The Librarian reports to the Executive Director.
The Society seeks candidates with training in academic
disciplines relevant to its missions, a knowledge of
languages important for the library, an ability to work
collegially with the ANS curatorial staff and librarians
in the metropolitan region concerned with cognate subjects,
and a commitment to a high level of customized service to
the librarys users. A degree in library and/or information
science is preferred.
For more information about the ANS Librarian position, see:
LAKE BOOKS NUMISMATIC LITERATURE SALE CATALOG #92 AVAILABLE
Fred Lake writes: "Lake Books' mail-bid sale of numismatic
literature #92 is now available for viewing at:
"The 386-lot sale features the library of John M. Griffee
who was a specialist in Early American coppers and, in
particular, the coinage of New Jersey and the St. Patrick
"Other consignors round out the sale with material relating
to U.S. coinage, world coins, medals, tokens, paper money,
"The sale has a closing date of Tuesday, March 11, 2008 at
5:00 PM (EST) and bids may be mailed, emailed, faxed or
telephoned until that date."
TESTIMONIA NUMARIA, VOLUME II BY JOHN MELVILLE-JONES PUBLISHED BY SPINK
John Melville-Jones of the Classics and Ancient History
department of The University of Western Australia writes:
"The second volume of my book Testimonia Numaria was published
at the end of 2007 by Spink in London at £40 (same price as
Volume I, which is now out of print). The ISBN is
978-1-902040-81-3. Pp. vii + 419. It contains a number
of addenda to the texts which were published in Volume I,
and a commentary on all texts."
[Thanks for David Yoon for forwarding John's message.
More information on the Testimonia Numaria project follows,
taken from the project's web page. If any of our readers
are familiar with the books, consider writing up a short
review for The E-Sylum. -Editor]
"The Testimonia Numaria project aims to collect and
evaluate ancient Greek and Roman texts relating to ancient
Greek and Roman coinage. Two volumes have been published,
Testimonia Numaria Volume I (1993) which contains 928 Greek
and Latin texts together with translations into English,
and Testimonia Numaria Volume II (2007), which contains
forty-nine additional texts, commentaries on all the texts,
a bibliography and an index. A third volume, Testimonia
Numaria Romana, is in preparation. This will present and
comment on texts relating to Roman coinage up to the
fifth century A.D."
For more information on the Testimonia Numaria project, see:
NEW BOOK: WHITMAN'S "100 GREATEST ANCIENT COINS" BY HARLAN BERK
[Dennis Tucker forwarded the following press release
announcing the latest title in Whitman's "100 greatest"
Whitman Publishing announces the release of 100 Greatest
Ancient Coins, by Harlan J. Berk, available in April 2008.
In this beautifully illustrated book, one of Americas
best-known ancient-coin dealers takes the reader on a
personal guided tour of the numismatic antiquities of
Greece, Rome, the Byzantine Empire, and other parts of
the ancient world.
100 Greatest Ancient Coins is the fifth entry in Whitman
Publishings 100 Greatest library. It follows books that
showcase coins, currency notes, medals and tokens, and
stamps of the United Statesin fact, it is the first title
of the 100 Greatest family to focus on nonU.S. collectibles.
This reflects Whitmans solid background in world-coin and
ancient-coin numismatics. 100 Greatest Ancient Coins joins
such works as Coins of the Bible (Friedberg), the Handbook
of Ancient Greek and Roman Coins (Klawans), and the award-
winning Money of the Bible (Bressett). It also heralds
forthcoming books in the field, such as Collecting Ancient
Greek Coins (Rynearson) for beginning and intermediate
collectors, and the Guide Book of Overstruck Greek Coins:
Studies in Greek Chronology and Monetary Theory (MacDonald)
for more advanced students.
Each of the 100 Greatest was voted into place by leading
coin dealers, researchers, and historians, says Whitman
publisher Dennis Tucker. Inside the reader will find prized
and seldom-seen raritiesthe unique and high-valued pieces
that collectors dream about. The book also explores more
readily available and widely popular ancient coins: pieces
so beautiful or with such strange and fascinating stories
that everybody wants one.
In the introduction, which includes a historical narrative,
the author describes how to collect and enjoy ancient coins,
aspects of the marketplace, grading, conservation, and
A two-page spread is devoted to each of coins No. 1 through
No. 10, with Nos. 11 through 100 enjoying a full page. In
the banner at the top of each page is the coins rank; a
descriptive title; the city, state, or region from which
it hails; and its date of striking (or an approximation).
Beneath is an enlarged illustration of the coin; a notation
of its actual size in millimeters; a summary of market
trends and values; and, ghosted in the background, the
numerals of its 1100 rank. This is followed by an essay
that sets the coin in its historical foundation and describes
the virtues of its numismatic greatness. At the bottom of
the page, a timeline charts the coins position in time,
with the birth of Christ noted for context.
The book is rounded out by a gallery of relative sizes,
showing each coin in its actual diameter; a biography of
author Harlan J. Berk; credits and acknowledgments; and
a selected bibliography for further reading.
100 Greatest Ancient Coins is not just a price guide or
a fancy picture book, says Tucker. Its a time machine
that takes the reader to a hundred different points in
world history. And its a fascinating introduction to
the hobby of collecting these important coins.
Emperors and charlatans, owls and turtles, gods and
goddesses, military heroes and villainous roguesall of
these and more await the reader in 100 Greatest Ancient
The book is coffee-table-size, 144 pages, full color,
with photographs and stories for every coin. Retail
price is $29.95. 100 Greatest Ancient Coins will be
available April 2008 at hobby shops and bookstores
REVIEW: 'A CATALOG OF MODERN WORLD COINS, 18501964', 14TH EDITION
[James Higby submitted the following review of the new
edition of the classic "Brown book", Modern World Coins
by Richard Yeoman. It was also published Monday on the
rec.collecting.coins newsgroup. -Editor]
The latest (14th) edition of Yeoman's classic Modern World
Coins is visibly thicker and larger in size than the 13th,
which appeared a quarter of a century ago. I first got wind
of its coming while sitting in a coin shop almost two years
ago. Since I keep my collection of world coins by Craig
and Yeoman numbers, I always carry with me professionally
rebound copies of those books to serve as ready references
and checklists. The proprietor, seeing this, informed me
that he had been solicited to place an ad in a new edition
of the Yeoman. My reaction was, "No way." The fact is,
as much as I cut my teeth on the Yeoman "Brown Book" and
learned to love it as a teenager, it is an anachronism that,
surely, no one would try to resurrect today, I thought.
Further inquiries to the Whitman reps at several coin shows,
including the 2007 ANA Convention in Milwaukee, yielded
know-nothing shoulder shrugs. So I, too, was astonished
to see this latest edition advertised in the numismatic
The cover serves notice that it is part of "The Official
Red Book" series of coin books launched by Whitman some
years back. There is an attractive grouping of world
coins pictured on the cover as well. The book has
considerable visual appeal, all told. The foreword
includes much of the original Yeoman introductory text,
and the preface consists of an updated "Appreciation of
R.S. Yeoman" by David Ganz. A short blurb about editor
Arthur Friedberg follows that. I have always appreciated
the inclusion in the introductory matter of a chart of
various numeral systems, as well as an explanation of
some of the more common coin dating systems. My favorite
quote by Yeoman, from his discussion of determining the
origins of strange-looking coins, is preserved as well:
"That is the romance of collecting world coins. The
quest is the thing." It should be noted that Whitman
produced the first twelve editions of this title, then
many years went by before Friedberg's Coin and Currency
Institute took over for the 13th edition, and now this
newest edition is again from Whitman Publishing.
I find the content to be excellent overall in terms of
its mission. Of course, those of us who are used to the
Krause telephone book series find it hard to believe that
a book calling itself A Catalog of Modern World Coins
could ever take their place. The fact is, it can't and
it doesn't. Instead, it catalogs world coins from roughly
1850 to 1964 by type, with a very few notes indicating the
rare dates. Representing an era of very conservative
issue of non-circulating legal tender and commemorative
pieces, the editor has continued the practice of including
in this latest work, for example, the three 1930 pieces
honoring the 1000th anniversary of the Althing, Iceland's
parliament, a set now missing from the mainstream Krause stack.
As promised, prices are normally given for three states
of preservation: VF, EF, and Uncirculated. I find it
quaint that this edition persists in giving prices only
for VF examples in areas such as the Indian States, a
practice that originated with the very first edition by
Yeoman. Without doing intensive market research, but
relying on my own familiarity with the realities of the
2008 world coin market, I propose that this edition of
MWC does a good job of capturing the current state of that
market. There are several areas, Danzig for example, that
seem to me to be priced more in sync with today's market
than other world price guides I have seen. A quick check
of prices listed for certain other key coin types reinforces
my notion. Price guides are just that, guides, and the
market has a life and mind of its own.
The photographs are its weakest point. They range from
excellent to just adequate, and there are a few klinkers
as well, photos that are dark and poorly contrasted. They
appear to me to be the same photos used in the previous
edition, with a touchup here, a Photoshopping there. But
then, that is true of most illustrated coin books that
are offered at popular prices.
Appendices include an extensive listing of precious metal
content of the coin types, an index to coin denominations,
and a list of mints, central banks, and agencies, complete
with URLs. Yeoman's layout scheme was designed, as he said,
to reduce the use of the index. The present index,
nevertheless, is helpful and adequate to the task of locating
the listings for the countries in the book. Eight full-page
ads round out this volume. If you are looking for a
research-quality reference work, this book is not for you.
But if you are looking for something interesting to browse
while slung back in your recliner, its 522 6" x 9" pages
are well worth the price of $19.95 (Canada $20.25).
Still, questions nag: Except for the appeal of nostalgia
to aging baby boomers who read this title in our youth,
why did Whitman choose to resurrect this title after a
hiatus of a quarter of a century? Who is going to buy it,
and why? MWC is most useful, it seems to me, as the
centerpiece of the original trilogy of which it was a part.
First, William Craig, in his groundbreaking Coins of the
World, last published in 1976, catalogued coins from the
century immediately preceding MWC (and using its own,
separate numbering system), while Yeoman's Current Coins
of the World (I lovingly call it MWC, vol. 2) was made
necessary by the proliferation of new coin types, which
would have made too unwieldy a book out of MWC, had the
title been expanded to include them. It should be noted
that Current Coins last saw press in 1988; a new edition
of that title would necessarily be at least twice, possible
three times, as massive. As a collector of both coins and
books, I would love to see new editions of both Craig and
Current Coins, and now wonder if Whitman has a mind to
produce them as well. I doubt very much that they would
tell me, even if they did.
[Roger dewardt Lane adds: "It's very interesting to see a
new edition. I started my Modern Dimes of the World type
set checking off the types from these books. I have the
whole set of Brown Books, including one issued in Japan
with Japanese text."
Now that's a book I'd never heard of - a Japanese edition
of the Brown book. This could be an interesting E-Sylum
topic for our next issue - numismatic books translated
from English to other languages. -Editor]
NEW BOOK: 'A CATALOG OF MODERN WORLD COINS, 18501964', 14TH EDITION
BOOK REVIEW: COLLECTING AND INVESTING STRATEGIES FOR U.S. GOLD COINS
[I was invited to write a book review for the February
issue of The Numismatist. Now that the issue has been
published I'm reprinting that review here with permission.
Many thanks to Uriah Cho of Zyrus Press and Associate Editor
Jerri C. Raitz of the American Numismatic Association.
So whats a history and research guy doing reviewing a
collecting and investing publication? Well, I rarely
come across a numismatic book that doesnt offer something
new. And as much as I love collecting and researching my
numismatic items, I usually do so with investing in mind.
This discipline has proven profitable over the years:
proceeds from recent numismatic sales enabled the purchase
of my home and the cozy office where Im writing this review.
There have been many coin-investing guides over the years,
although I own only a few and have read even fewer cover
to cover. If my experience is any indication, learning
just one useful tip from a coin investing book can repay
its purchase price many times. The beginning investor
should find a few good take-aways from auction cataloger
and numismatic expert Jeff Ambios new book, Collecting
and Investing Strategies for United States Gold Coins
(Zyrus Press, Inc., www.zyruspress.com).
Ambios book is devoted to the regular-issue gold series
of 1795-1933, although I also expected to see gold
commemoratives, bullion pieces and patterns. The author
makes good points as he explains his decisions on the books
scope. He writes, The commemorative gold coins struck from
1903-1926 have been excluded because the factors that
determine their absolute and high-grade rarity are different
from those that rule the fate of issues struck for use in
circulation or, in the case of proof gold, yearly sale to
a select group of advanced numismatists. The same can be
said for modern gold commemoratives struck beginning in 1984.
Ambio makes another interesting point in the books
introduction that I hadnt considered as a collector, but
one that is obvious to someone in his position as a dealer
and auctioneer: given the fact that consignments of gold
coins constitute the majority of value embodied within an
auction, a sales financial success often depends on the
number of gold coins consigned and their performance on
auction day. He adds, If at all possible, the auctioneer
will schedule gold coin lots to sell on a Friday and/or
Saturday evening to guarantee maximum exposure among dealers,
collectors, investors and, yes, future consignors.
The opening chapter addresses Popular Collecting and
Investing Strategies. These really are just descriptions
of the different types of sets one might assemble, such as
short type sets, complete type sets and what Ambio calls
advanced type sets. The section on complete type sets
seems redundant, since its basically a recitation of the
Chapter 1 includes the books first genuine investing tip:
The San Francisco Mint, in particular, offers considerable
opportunities. Many early S-mint gold coins are similar in
rarity to Charlotte, Dahlonega and Carson City Mint issues,
yet they often sell for considerably less.
Chapter 2, Considerations for Buying Rare U.S. Gold Coins,
stresses another important tip for investorsstudying a
large number of coins at numismatic auction-lot viewing
sessions. There is no substitute for seeing as many coins
as possible with your own eyes.
Ambio states, There are many possible ways to find a
reputable United States coin dealer. Suggested starting
places are the ANA and Professional Numismatists Guild
websites, but many, many dealers are listed there with no
way to rank them or winnow down the list. A cynic might
say that all such a listing could indicate about a given
dealer is that the bum hasnt been caught and thrown out
The real advice comes next, and its hardly a revelation:
One of the most underutilized methods of finding a reputable
numismatic dealer is simply to ask other collectors and
investors for recommendations. Word-of-mouth can be a
powerful tool. Honest, knowledgeable dealers will enjoy
a good reputation among veteran buyers.
The meat of the book is in the subsequent chapters, which
are nicely illustrated with examples of each major coin
type, courtesy of Steve Contursi and Rare Coin Wholesalers.
This book is part of what Zyrus Press calls its Strategy
Guide Series. In keeping with Chapter 2s theme, each
subsequent chapter covers strategies and key insights for
assembling the various types of coin sets.
Ambio lists the Most Desirable Issue(s) of each type,
Most Desirable Grade(s) and Estimated Cost for
circulated and uncirculated coins. These recommendations
are neatly highlighted in shaded strategy boxes, a nice
feature for ready reference and readability. Other nice
features are the price charts showing recent selling
prices for each coin type.
Specific advice and Ambios reasoning behind it is sprinkled
throughout the book, such as this note regarding the $1
denomination: I believe that high-grade, attractive New
Orleans Mint gold coins are among the more underrated pieces
in numismatics. If you also subscribe to this theory, I
suggest waiting until a premium quality example becomes
available. Words of caution also are highlighted and
warn readers about certain issues that often are found
particularly weakly or strongly struck, impaired by
jewelry mounts, etc.
At 343 pages, the 7 x 10-inch book is not to be devoured
in one sitting. However, with its short, but interesting,
illustrated summaries of the history and design of each
coin, the book is very readable. Ambio comes across as
quite authoritative and genuinely helpful.
I would recommend this book to any collector or investor
considering assembling sets of U.S. gold, but suggest it
in conjunction with reading a book about grading or taking
a class on grading, which is not covered in detail here.
Collecting and Investing Strategies for United States Gold
Coins is available from the ANA MoneyMarket for $30.95
(member price) and $34.95 (nonmember) at www.money.org,
or phone toll-free, 800-467-5725.
REVIEW: 100 GREATEST AMERICAN CURRENCY NOTES BY BOWERS AND SUNDMAN
We've had a lot of discussion about the recent '100
Greatest American Medals and Tokens' book by Katherine
Jaeger and Q. David Bowers. This week I take a look at
an earlier title in the Whitman Publishing series, '100
Greatest American Currency Notes' by Q. David Bowers
and David Sundman.
Like the other books in the series, this title, published
in 2006, is a large coffee-table size hardbound with a
glossy printed dust jacket. The notes are arranged in
order starting with #1, the $1,000 "Grand Watermelon"
note of 1890. The first ten notes are given a two-page
spread; the remaining 90 are shown one per page.
The preface and introduction section packs two decades of
U.S. currency history into a readable and authoritative
twenty-page package. Topics include early American paper
currency, obsolete bank notes, bank note engravers and
companies, the evolution of bank note design, classes of
Federal notes, Confederate notes, collecting and enjoying
paper money, grades of paper money, cleaning, preservation
and conservation, and forming a collection.
Although brief, this section is clearly a work of scholarship.
I've read a number of numismatic books written by dealers and
collectors who were enthusiasts of their topic, but not scholars,
and this showed in their writing. Only true scholars of the
topic could have written such an all-encompassing introduction
to the topic, and my hat is off to the authors. I'm hard
pressed to think of a better overview of the paper money hobby.
Before diving into the meat of the book, I thought I'd
discuss my expectations. As a collector and student of U.S.
currency, my personal interests lean toward private issues.
Yet that field is so vast I wondered if the quantity of
available candidates would dilute the voting. Perhaps that's
what happened. The book's subtitle ("The stories behind
the most fascinating colonial, Confederate, federal, obsolete,
and private American notes") gave me hope that the book would
cover much more than federal U.S. issues like the Watermelon
note on the cover. But I was disappointed - only seven of
the top 50 and eleven of the top 100 notes were non-Federal
issues. These felt like token inclusions, and I thought
the book would have been more satisfying if it had kept to
a single theme of Federal issues. Still, I did enjoy the
few token non-Federal inclusions and hope they give the
casual reader a taste of what lies beyond.
If I were to pick my own favorites I'd start with a
tried-and-true choice - #7, the $1 Educational Note of 1896.
The "History Instructing Youth" vignette by Will H. Low is
a breathtaking classical design. #11, the $2 Educational
Note is another exceptional classic design, this time by
For historical importance as well as beauty of design I'd
choose #38, the $5 Demand Note of 1861. The first
"Greenback" of the Federal Government, these notes were
intended to be hand-signed by the Treasurer and Secretary
of the Treasury. Along with this note I'd have to choose
the companion $10 Demand Note of 1861 with its portrait
of President Abraham Lincoln (#60).
In keeping with the Civil War theme another favorite note
is #53, the $500 Confederate Montgomery note of 1861. I
choose this one for historical importance as well as a
nice vignette and pleasant design.
The last note, #100, is one of my favorites as well - a
fifty cent "bond" issued by The Imperial Government of
Norton I. Joshua Norton was a denizen of 19th century
San Francisco who declared himself to be "Emperor of the
United States and Protector of Mexico." Always ready for
a good joke, the local newspaper published Norton's various
declarations and he became a celebrity known worldwide
in his day.
But so much for my favorites - what are yours? That's the
fun of a book like this - people being people there is
certain to be controversy over which notes were included
and which were left out, as well as the rankings chosen by
the participating experts.
One typo I discovered appeared in the credits where the
authors thanked the "American Numismatic Library" rather
than the American Numismatic Association library. I have
few other nits to pick on the author's text, although I
wish they had devoted some space to the back design of
the 1914 $100 Federal Reserve Note (#34). The allegorical
image is stunning in its apparent simplicity, looking at
first glance like a simple outline sketch, yet revealing
great detail on closer examination. The figures look
like white marble statues, and I've always found this
In all this is a very satisfying book, although I'll admit
to enjoying it less than the token and medal volume. This
is partly due to my own collecting interests, but also due
to the fact that the Federal notes have all been pictured
and described before. Reading the token and medal book I
found myself excited to discover items I'd never seen before
every ten pages or so; I did not have the same feeling with
this book, but that's not the fault of the authors (or the
material). It's a great book to have handy and quite
useful for introducing friends to the hobby of paper money
The book is available from the publisher at $29.95.
NEW BOOK: '100 GREATEST AMERICAN MEDALS AND TOKENS'
BOOK REVIEWS: 100 GREATEST AMERICAN MEDALS AND TOKENS BY JAEGER AND BOWERS
BOOK IN PROGRESS: ABRAHAM LINCOLN, THE IMAGE OF HIS GREATNESS BY FRED REED
[Tom Kays' submission (which immediately follows) prompted
me to check with Fred Reed on the status of his upcoming
book - here's his report. -Editor]
Fred Reed writes: "My book 'ABRAHAM LINCOLN, the Image
of His Greatness: Ideal, Idol & Icon' for Whitman
Publishing is right on track. I have been working on
this subject for about 40 years, and by now own a rather
large collection of this material, numbering thousands
of items. I also have hundreds of additional illustrations
borrowed from colleagues and archives, which supplement
my personal holdings.
"The goal is one of Whitman's spectacular books: a
full-color, 300-page opus with approximately 600-800
illustrations, and an interesting text which will appeal
to numismatists, historians, educators, students, and
the general public, too. My deadline is July 1st, with
publication later this year just in time to catch the
upswing of public interest in Abraham Lincoln's birth
bicentennial in 2009.
"As most readers of The E-Sylum know, numismatics will
be in the forefront of the public observance of this
significant event in our country's history. A series
of commemorative cents and a commemorative silver dollar
will mark this occasion. I expect a raft of books on
Lincoln will also appear, but mine will probably be the
only one which focuses in a very significant way on
numismatics. All the Lincoln federal currency, non-federal
currency, and a great deal of exonumia, as well as many
stamps, badges, checks, stocks, bonds, engraved and printed
images will appear. I also describe and illustrate
statues, motion pictures, magazine covers and other
commemorations of Lincoln which have appeared in the
last century and a half.
"I will be eager to see the response from hobbyists
to this book, as well as Lincoln scholars. Many E-Sylum
readers have assisted me over the years, and the book
would be much, much less without their insights and help."
LINCOLN IN NUMISMATICS
Tom Kays writes: "Abraham Lincoln would have been 199
years old last Tuesday, February 12th. On this Presidents
Day how ready are you for Lincoln's bicentennial? Do you
have enough Lincolniana to suit? Now might be a good time
to review your holdings and fill your holes regarding
Lincoln before the rush. To what heights will Lincoln
"Centennial Cents" of 1909 be elevated by the public next
year as new cent designs debut?
"Extensive references to new Lincoln scholarship and
trivia are periodically gathered by the Abraham Lincoln
Association (ALA). Readers are invited to try their
luck digging for Lincoln numismatic, token and medal
content with salient search words. See the ALA keyword
searchable website (year 2000) at
[In my library I have a copy of the 1966 TAMS reprint
of articles on 'Lincoln in Numismatics' by Robert P.
King, originally published in The Numismatist between
1924 and 1933. I'll look forward to Fred Reed's new
book in Lincoln images. -Editor]
MORE ON THE CATALOG OF NEW ENGLAND NUMISMATIC ASSOCIATION MEDALS
Regarding our earlier discussions, Bob Fritsch writes: "I,
too, have the 1972 Thomas B. Ross NENA Medal Catalog, plus
the loose-leaf catalog compiled by Bob Heath. Originally
issued in 1994, Bob did several updates to the content of
the catalog as new medals were issued by NENA and new
information came to light. His most recent update was in
2005, distributed at the 2005 NENA Conference in Bedford, NH
in October of that year and included everything up to and
including that year's medal.
"Bob used a half-page format (5.5x8.5) which kept the catalog
compact but it was hard to find binders that would accommodate
the format. His Massachusetts catalog, for example, runs to
four volumes of 1-inch binders. All six State catalogs and
the NENA catalog were in this format.
"Alas, Mr. Heath died unexpectedly in December 2005. His
family, acting on his instructions, has parceled out the
six New England State Catalogs plus the NENA catalog to
numismatists throughout the region. Some have already
issued new catalogs under their names while others have
not. I was the recipient of the NENA catalog, due to my
status as Past President of the organization and having
one of the better collections of NENA material in existence.
As I have the original pages on the computer, I can and
will issue reprints for a nominal fee to those who request
them. However, since NENA does only one medal per year
and since there is not a lot of new information forthcoming
on these medals, I do not plan to update the catalog until
the 2010 medal has been issued.
"My email is bobfritsch at earthlink.net for those who
wish further information. Please use 'NENA Catalog'
in the subject line so I don't toss out the good emails
with the spam."
A CATALOG OF NEW ENGLAND NUMISMATIC ASSOCIATION MEDALS
MORE ON THE BROWN & DUNN COIN GRADING GUIDE ILLUSTRATIONS
Regarding the line drawings for grading coins in the Brown
and Dunn book, Ken Bressett writes: "These were created by
Arthur Mueller, a Racine, Wisconsin artist, at the request
of Whitman Publishing for use in the fourth edition of the
B&D book that was published in 1964. I worked with the
artist on this project, supplying him with pictures of
the coins and creating the "worn" versions by whiting out
portions that would go missing from circulation.
"It is likely that some books other than Brown and Dunn
used these drawings without permission from the publisher.
I am not familiar with the 1953 publication mentioned in
this question, but am certain that the drawings were not
created any earlier than 1963. Possibly they were inserted
in a later printing of a 1953 publication without changing
the copyright date (for obvious reasons)"
QUERY: BROWN & DUNN GRADING GUIDE ILLUSTRATIONS
GEORGE KOLBE ON THINGS FOUND IN BOOKS
George Kolbe writes: "Over the years I have discovered
many unusual objects within numismatic books, among them
ancient-looking ferns, locks of hair, fall leaves, small
coins, paper money, various clippings, unrelated correspondence,
documents, and much more. We never found a pair of eyeglasses,
though the story goes that John Selden, a seventeenth century
scholar and numismatic author, used his spectacles as bookmarks.
When Selden bequeathed his books to the Bodleian Library
at Oxford University, literally dozens of pairs of spectacles
were found when the books were examined by the librarians.
But I digress. Where possible, we have returned unrelated
items of consequence to their owners. One we did not return."
"In the late 1970s, my young son and I drove to a remote
Southern California desert community to buy a library. The
gentleman involved, a numismatist of some renown, lived there
alone in what seemed to me to be a rather bleak, solitary
existence. Nonetheless, he seemed to be cheerful, took a likin
to my son George, and gave him a number of modern production
U. S. Mint medals. After friendly negotiations, I purchased
the library and brought it back to my offices, then in the
Santora Building in Santa Ana, California.
Several days later, while arranging the books on shelves, a
letter was discovered in one. In it, the prior owner of the
library complained to his spouse at the time, at some length
and in intimate detail, about a paucity of marital relations.
Needless to say, that missive quickly found its way into the
circular file and was never mentioned to the gentleman in question!
"A cautionary note - I have learned not to inhale when first
opening a book. Once or twice I have become ill after breathing
in mold, mildew, or who knows what other noxious airborne
pollutants, some perhaps lurking in old books for ages."
ON THINGS FOUND IN BOOKS
ALAN WEINBERG ON THE HERITAGE WALT HUSAK EARLY LARGE CENT SALE
[Two weeks ago Alan V. Weinberg reviewed the catalog of
Heritage's sale of the Walter Husak collection of early
large cents. This week he attended the sale in Long Beach
and files the following report. Many thanks to Alan for
recording his observations and sharing them with our readers
and numismatic posterity. -Editor]
I've collected for over 50 years & have attended most of
the major numismatic auctions in that time. Only occasionally
is there an impending sale that creates so much anticipation
and "buzz". The Walt Husak large cent sale of early dates
1793-1814 was one of those. I went to the auction room at
the Long Beach coin show 45 minutes early to get a good
seat - one that faced the audience at the end of a front
table so that I could observe who was bidding and watch the
"action" unimpeded. I kept a heavily annotated catalogue,
as is my longtime practice, of starting/closing bids, buyers
and underbidders and their bid numbers.
The room filled quickly easily 1/2 hour before the sale
started at 5 PM while the bourse floor downstairs was still
open. It was like a college reunion of "copper weenies" -
almost everyone was there. There was electricity in the
air - it was palpable. I thought: "You don't see this
Every seat was taken as Sam Foose, Heritage auction director,
explained the rules, introduced Walt and his wife, with
Walt's charming daughter and Walt's business partner Terry
Brenner and his wife in attendance. That was nice. Walt
took an embarrassed bow, all red in the face. Sam then
thanked Mark Borckardt & Denis Loring for their work
cataloguing, without which the sale would not have been
a numismatic highlight.
Everyone was there. Doug Bird, Jack Robinson, Wes Rasmussen,
John Manley, Tony Terranova, John Gervasoni, Jim McGuigan,
Tom Reynolds, Dan Holmes, Chris McCawley & Bob Grellman,
Steve Contursi (bidding by phone thru Heritage representatives),
Gene Sherman, John Agre, March Wells, Chris Napolitano, Stu
Levine, John Dannreuther, John Kraljevich, Al Boka, Steve
Ellsworth, Laurie Sperber, Dan Trollan, Dave McCarthy for
Kagin's, Denis Loring & wife Donna Levine, Dan Demeo, Paul
Gerrie, Bill Nagle, Phil Moore, Rich Burdick, Bill Noyes,
and so many others. Every seat was filled and a half dozen
people bidding stood on the sidelines.
Some of the highlights included: 1793 S-3 AU (all are EAC
grading) at $220,000 to Gervasoni (all prices are hammer,
not including the 15% buyers fee); 1793 S-13 AU at $550,000
to Heritage's standing Paul Minshull representing a key client
on the phone from the sidelines; '93 S-14 cracked obverse die
VF at $110K to bidder 419 (1 of the few I didn't ID), 94 head
of 93 S18b AU at $220K to the same Minshull phone bidder,
apparently a very discerning collector.
A moment of audience levity was reached when a S33 1794
"wheel spoke" , one of the 1794 classics, opened up at
$8,000 and Tony Terranova immediately yelled out $40,000.
The auctioneer Foose, startled by the sudden & perhaps
unnecessary bid jump by Tony, asked if Tony was "in a hurry?"
Tony replied in his NYC accent "Yeah, I'm hungry!" alluding
to the promised Heritage sponsored Husak-hosted "champagne
buffet" following the auction which obviously still had two
hours to go. Everyone roared - a break in the auction room
tension. Notwithstanding TT's bidding boldness, the rarity
closed at $90K to Chris McCawley representing advanced
collector Dan Holmes.
Other highlights: 94 S37 at $140K to Steve Ellsworth; the
first of SIX Lord St Oswald 94's in the Husak collection
the S45 part mint red MS63 at $130K to McCawley with 3 bidding
numbers; the eyebrow-raising Finest Known EF40 S48 Starred
Reverse at $300K open / $550K hammer, more than half a million
dollars, to John Gervasoni outlasting underbidders (in this
order) Laurie Sperber on the phone w/a client, Tony T at $475K
and Dave McCarthy for Kagins. The St Oswald S57 MS64 at $32.5K
/ $ 90K to the same phone bidder number 7550 previously
mentioned on the 1794 18b and others
And then clearly the finest condition large cent in the
Husak collection and the finest condition Lord St Oswald
large cent, the S67 MS65 (slabbed 67), 50% original mint
red, opening $120K and closing at a mind-numbing $425,000
hammer to phone bidder 7508 - likely Steve Contursi from
his phone rep - all three top bidders were phone bidders.
The St Oswald S69 MS64 part red to phone bidder 7510 (again
possibly Contursi from the Heritage phone rep) at $35K / $95K
with John Manley, who does not collect large cents per se,
the immediate underbidder; the 2nd finest condition 1794
St Oswald coin S71 MS65 with 50% original mint red $26K /
$220,000 to phone bidder 7550 mentioned above on the 18b
and other rarities; the 1795 S74 MS65 some mint red at
$45K/ $180K to Laurie Sperber with a phone client vs
Gervasoni and Manley.
The '96 Lib Cap S84 AU55 at $35K/$100K to bidder 608 whose
ID escaped me; the famously pedigreed (back to 1845) 1799
S189 VF25 at $42.5K / $140K to Steve Ellsworth (audience
applause); and finally the famous Finest Known 1807/6
small overdate AU50 at $65K / $140K to a beaming Doug Bird
vs Gervasoni - "Doug, is this for resale or a 'keeper' ?"
Prices were just plain silly. Jim McGuigan, much respected
early copper collector & dealer told me afterward: "Usually,
in a sale like this, there are some lots that slip through
the cracks, sell reasonably and can be resold at a profit.
That didn't happen. Everything went for top dollar."
The sale total was announced at the conclusion of the Husak
large cents: $10,703,000 including the buyer's fee of 15%.
Heritage surprised everyone in the audience with a
complimentary copy of Al Boka's 1794 large cent book ,
thanks to Al's generosity and friendship with Walt Husak.
Then everyone, including the by-then ravenous Tony T.,
adjourned to another room for drinks and a lavish buffet
(oh, those Chinese vegetable rolls!) and camaraderie that
lasted another hour plus approaching 10 PM. Walt looked
like a beaming brand new father in the new-born ward,
smiling ear to ear with twinkling eyes. This was numismatics
at its best. Is Walt getting out of numismatics? Not on
your life! Like Robbie Brown of large cent and Brown Forman
Distillery fame, he's already forming a 2nd set of early
date varieties! What? No more French vineyards?
CATALOGUE REVIEW: HERITAGE WALT HUSAK EARLY LARGE CENT SALE
USA TODAY: HUSAK CENT SALE REALIZES $10.7 MILLION
[Dick Johnson forwarded this article from USA Today about
the Husak large cent collection sale at Long Beach this
A penny saved is not necessarily just a penny earned. One
man's collection of rare American cents has turned into a
$10.7 million auction windfall. The collection of 301 cents
featured some of the rarest and earliest examples of the
American penny, including a cent that was minted for two
weeks in 1793 but was abandoned because Congress thought
Lady Liberty looked frightened.
Heritage Auction president Greg Rohan said the auction
was the biggest ever for a penny collection, with hundreds
of bidders vying for the coins. Presale estimates valued
the collection at about $7 million.
The coins came from the collection of Burbank resident Walter
J. Husak, the owner of an aerospace-part manufacturing company.
Husak became interested in collecting at age 13, while visiting
his grandparents who paid him in old coins for helping with
To read the complete article, see:
MORE ON 60 MINUTES AND THE FRANKLIN MINT
In response to the submission on last Sunday's 60 Minutes
episode, Fred Reed writes: "Morley Safer used to have fangs,
not just false teeth. Dick Johnson referred to the slam he
took against the Franklin Mint in "1983." For my friend,
Dick, and others who may be too young to remember, the 60
Minutes episode actually aired in 1978 and it savaged FM,
and collectibles in general, but the hobby survived. They
filmed at the Houston American Numismatic Association show
that summer, and managed to miss the real story at the show.
"The night of the Numismatic Literary Guild bash, we revelers
came out of Grover Criswell's hotel suite pretty happy only
to find police all over the place. Real thugs had stolen an
unspecified amount in rare coins from one of the attendees
during the evening's festivities.
"For a brief resume of the 60 Minutes piece on FM: "The
Franklin Mint was the subject of a controversial segment
on the CBS News television program 60 Minutes that first
aired Nov. 12, 1978. The segment, which examined coin
collecting in general, private mint issues specifically
and the issues of the Franklin Mint in detail, featured
interviews with collectors of Franklin Mint issues who,
upon trying to sell their collections, reportedly were
offered only a fraction of what they paid for them. Franklin
Mint officials, in turn, accused CBS News of bias and noted
that Columbia House, a CBS company, sold similar products."
This comes from the Coin World archives quoted from a Jan.
4, 2002 posting on the end of FM minting activities."
Tom DeLorey also noted the correct air date of 1978. He
adds: "On the subject of 'rounding,' it was implied that
the shelf price of every item currently priced in a number
ending in 9 would automatically be rounded up to a number
ending in zero. However, if pricing remains the same and
you simply add up the prices on 20 or 30 items in your
shopping cart and then figure the sales tax, only the final
number need be rounded up or down, not every individual
item. With the average trip to the supermarket possibly
costing more than $50, the rounding of the final number by
two cents either way is insignificant."
ON THE DANGERS OF TALKING TO REPORTERS
The item on the '60 Minutes" episode prompted Gar Travis
to write: "One fine July afternoon in 2001 I had just cast
my fishing line into one of the numerous creeks that dot the
coastal North Carolina countryside, when my mobile phone
rang. I was greeted by a gentleman who asked if I had a few
moments to speak about a recent comment by Representative
Jim Kolbe (R-Arz.) in regard to his "Legal Tender Modernization
Act" and the Lincoln Cent. The caller was Larry Copeland, a
reporter from USA TODAY.
"Needless to say most of what I said was paraphrased
throughout the article and then finished with a slightly
skewed quote - not exactly what I said, but then you know
QUIZ ANSWER: JOHN HICKCOX'S OTHER NUMISMATIC PUBLICATION
Jim Duncan (who had an incorrect guess last week writes:
"Okay, so no cigar! But where is the Astor Library for
which Hickcox developed a card index filing system? Not
exactly numismatic I agree, but some of the books must
have been numismatic books!"
I wasn't aware of Hickcox's connection with the Astor library,
but did remember correctly that it formed part of the New York
Public Library. "Astor Library at Lafayette Place, New York
City: This early library, created by funds provided in the
will of John Jacob Astor, held about 200,000 books, but was
not a lending library. In 1895 it merged with the Lennox
Library and the Tilden Trust to form the New York Public
Joel Orosz was the first to respond to my second question
about Hickcox regarding the name of his other numismatic
book. He writes: "The answer to the quiz in this week's
issue of the E-Sylum would be: 'A History of the Bills of
Credit or Paper Money Issued by New York, From 1709 to 1789:
With a Description of the Bills, and Catalogue of the Various
Issues', published in Albany in 1866 by J. H. Hickcox & Co."
Marc Charles Ricard writes: "Thanks for another great E-Sylum!
As an answer to the quick quiz, I believe that John Howard
Hickcox authored a book titled "A History of the Bills of
Credit or Paper Money Issued by New York, From 1709 to 1789",
originally published in 1866.
"Two copies were sold in Part 1 of the Kolbe/Stack's John J.
Ford Jr. Library Sale of June 2004. The University of
Michigan Library's Scholarly Publishing Office has a reprint
in soft cover from 2006, which is published on demand, and
is readily available."
Thanks also to Mike Paradis for his correct answer.
THE PATTERN COINAGE OF QUEEN LILLIUOCALANI OF HAWAII
Regarding my query from last week, Ken Bressett writes:
"Four different very attractive designs were produced as
patterns for the Hawaiian coins. These are dated 1891 and
1893. Some were made in gold, silver, copper iron and tin
in quantities of one to 50 of each. It is estimated that
fewer than two dozen of any are in collections as most were
given to Huth's friends. All are 37mm in diameter. These
are listed, described and pictured in Hawaiian Coins, Tokens
and Paper Money by Maurice Gould and Kenneth Bressett.
Whitman Publishing. 1961.
The pieces were made to commemorate the reign of Queen
Liliuokalani, sister of King Kalakaua. Reginald Huth of
England, a well known London collector of coins and medals,
issued a number of other private pattern coins and medallic
portraits. The Hawaiian pieces were struck by Messrs. Pinches
and Co., London die sinkers and medallists under the direction
of Mr. Huth.
The pattern silver dollar piece dedicated to the queen is
dated 1891. 50 proofs were struck in silver. There is also
a pattern $20 gold piece with the same portrait dated 1893.
Only four specimens of this piece were struck. Both of these
pieces show a date and denomination.
In 1895, Mr. Huth issued a pattern silver dollar-size medal
in honor of Princess Kaiulani, former heir apparent to the
Throne of Hawaii. This piece gives no value, and the date is
in tiny numbers at either side of the design. In larger
letters in the legend are roman numerals showing the date
of Kauilanis' 18th birthday, the day she could have ascended
to the throne. Two varieties of this piece were made. Both
are extremely rare.
[It looks like my library has a hole in it - it's embarrassing,
but somehow I'm missing the 1961 Whitman Hawaii book. Time to
look for a copy. Thanks, Ken! -Editor]
Tom Michael writes: "For information on the 1893 pattern
coinage of Queen Lilliuocalani of Hawaii, see Unusual
[OK, I need TWO more books for my library. -Editor]
THE 1893 PATTERN COINAGE OF QUEEN LILLIUOCALANI OF HAWAII
MORE ON THE AMOS AND ANDY RARE COIN EPISODE
Nick Graver writes: "I clearly recall the Amos & Andy TV
broadcast about the Rare Coin. At a key moment I recall
him reaching into his pocket and accidentally using THE
RARE NICKEL to make a crucial phone call, and that ended
his chances of cashing in on the premium value. I hope
others recall more of the details."
Many thanks to Gar Travis for locating an online video of
the episode from 1951!
The rare coin? An 1877 nickel, which a coin dealer offered
$250 for. John Dannreuther was the only respondent to know
the date of the nickel. He also recalled what I agreed was
the funniest line in the episode: "Henry, I think I's about
to pre-form a nickelectomy."
The Amos & Andy show was before my time, but it's interesting
to see the show from today's perspective half a century later.
Early television had its roots in radio, which in turn evolved
from vaudeville and travelling minstrel shows. Amos & Andy
spanned all of these genres and media.
My parents came of age in the radio era, where families gathered
around the radio and listened together. Some adults would read,
knit, do puzzles, or play parlor games. Children often played
on the floor. With radio, all the visuals were in the mind of
each listener, and your vision of the Lone Ranger might look
entirely different from your brother's, just like with books.
Nick adds: "Then, TV came in, and things changed. Everyone
had the identical character to watch. It never was the same
Coming from the minstrel tradition and operating in a
segregated America, Amos and Andy are as far removed from
today's world as the coin-operated telephones that play a
key role in the episode. But 1877 nickels are still scarce
and valuable, and probably always will be.
COINS AND MEDALS AT THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
Regarding John Adams' discussion on the Drake Map medal,
Alan V. Weinberg writes: "So my memory of a Drake Mercator
silver engraved map medal selling for $50 grand 40-45 years
ago was accurate. John Adams reports Sotheby's sold one
for that amount in 1971. It was donated to the Library of
Congress which now has two!
"John's record of auction sales from 1905 to present is
a total of 4 medals in over a century. That's says something
of the Drake map medal's rarity. And John implies one is in
private hands yet!
"It is very interesting that the Library of Congress owns
two Drake medals. I recently learned that the long "lost"
and believed-melted (by a widowed, financially desperate
Mary Todd Lincoln) 1865 Franky Magniadas-designed Swiss-
struck Abraham Lincoln medal , approx 13 troy ozs of .
finer gold, is also in the Library of Congress. It is
aesthetically the most impressive of the many Lincoln
medals and tokens.
This raises the question of just how extensive are the
numismatic holdings of the Library of Congress in Washington,
DC? Several years ago I visited and could not get into even
the library as you have to have a pass and references and
be a legitimate researcher.
"Perhaps member Chris Neuzil, who lives nearby and has been
successful in his research of the fabulous gold Truxton medal
at the Smithsonian, can get a look into this most secret of
historical institutions - the Library of Congress ? Or member
Doug Mudd, now at the ANA in Colorado, knows of the Library's
numismatic holdings? If I know of three exquisite medals in
the Library's collection, rest assured there are other similar
treasures to be found there. Remember the closing scene in
the first Indiana Jones movie with the boxed-up Ark being
wheeled into a cavernous Federal Government warehouse ?
REFERENCES ON THE DRAKE MAP MEDAL
1898 DENTIST PORTRAIT PLAQUE ANSWER: THERON HITCHCOCK?
Regarding Dick Johnson's query last week, John Schreiner
writes: "Most of my research involves the tokens and medals
of druggists, pharmacists, and patent medicine makers. I
have a lot of directories on druggists but only one on
dentists and the one I have just happened to have the info
that was needed.
"The book is "Medical Directory for New York and Connecticut
-1895. Under the dental section for Oswego it lists
'Hitchcock,T.S'. So the correct initials are T.S."
[John offered to provide Dick with a copy of the listing,
and I put the two in touch. Thanks! Other E-Sylum readers
chimed in as well. -Editor]
Karl S. Kabelac of Rochester NY writes: "Using my subscription
to ancestry.com, I quickly found Theron Hitchcock, an Oswego
dentist in the 1900 federal census. With that as a beginning,
I searched fultonhistory.com and found several articles about
him (Theron S. Hitchcock) and his wife. They mention his
skills as a woodcarver. His obituary said he was 88 at the
time of his death on November 10, 1918."
[Karl printed off most of the articles, and offered to send
them to Dick for his research. I put the two in touch.
Thanks, Karl! Thanks also to Patrick McMahon of the Boston
Museum of Fine Arts who also believes the dentist in question
may be Theron Hitchcock. His note appears below. -Editor]
Patrick McMahon writes: "I have a name that might help Dick
Johnson with his question about the artist/dentist from Oswego,
New York. I found nothing in our usual artist biographical
resources so I did a quick search of the 1900 US census. As
luck would have it there is a dentist living in Oswego in
1900 whose name is Theron Hitchcock. So the proper initials
may be TS rather than GS or JS. The census record lists him
as born on July 22, 1833, in Massachusetts, and that his
parents were both from Massachusetts. His wife is Helen H.
Hitchcock who seems to be from New York. He is still listed
in the 1910, but neither 1900 or 1910 give a middle initial.
He does not appear in 1920 or 1880. The 1890 Census was
largely destroyed. I didnt look any further.
"The source information for the Theron Hitchock entry would be:
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database
on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004.
Original Data: Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900.
Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administrations,
1900. Oswego Ward 6, Oswego, New York. Roll T623 1143, p. 1A,
enumerated district: 131.
"I hope this helps and maybe even turns out to be his guy.
The dentist, Oswego, and Massachusetts connections are all
there. Census records are a great resource and I recently
caved in and paid for full access to Ancestry.com. I have
been using it quite a bit lately. You can find the record
with a free search but you cannot see the scan of the original
page which is where the dentist information appears.
"There are lots of on-line genealogical databases and they
can be both a good starting point for identifying someone
and a good last resort when all else fails. You can also
sometimes access census and genealogical information on-line
for free through public library pages.
"I know that the Boston Public Library has a large number
of electronic databases that you can access as a library
user online with only your library card number. These include
HeritageQuest Online and the Historical newspapers database.
However, the New England Historic Genealogical Society offers
in-library access only.
Heres a link for people in the Boston area. Many public
libraries are doing this. Some databases are only available
at the library. But those are the exceptions. I use these
quite a bit too.
Nick Graver adds: "Was I the only reader whose mind jumped
at the "plaque' in the Dental Portrait heading? It just was
such a strange mental quirk, upon first reading."
[I don't know about our readers, but I thought it amusing
as well - I was just too lazy or tired to crack wise about
QUERY: 1898 DENTIST PORTRAIT PLAQUE RESEARCH
U.S. MINT'S PHILADELPHIA FISTFIGHT: A. LOUDON SNOWDEN VS. WILLIAM RUNKEL
[Pete Smith has been doing research on William Runkle, a
former U.S. Mint employee and author of an 1870 publication
titled "The United States Mint". He forwarded a great New
York Times article, originally published June 12, 1895,
about an altercation in Philadelphia between Runkle and
former U.S. Mint Superintendent A. Loudon Snowden. -Editor]
There was a lively set-to last night at Fifteenth and Market
Street between Col. A. Loudon Snowden, ex-Minister to Greece
and Roumania, and Col. William M. Runkel, in which an umbrella
and a cane played prominent parts, to the detriment of the
personal appearance of the two men.
The fight grew out of an old grievance of Col. Runkel against
Col. Snowden. Some years ago Col. Snowden was Chief Coiner
at the mint here. Col. Runkel was employed in the mint at
the same time. Col. Runkel alleges that Col. Snowden had
him discharged without cause. The memory of this dismissal
has rankled in Runkel's mind ever since.
There are conflicting versions of last night's contest.
Col. Runkel says he unexpectedly net Col. Snowden at
Fifteenth and Market Street. He says he remarked: "I
would like to have a few words with you," but that Col.
Snowden passed him without replying.
This alleged insult was the culmination Col. Runkel
could not brook. He admits that he lost control of
himself and struck Col. Snowden with his cane. Col.
Snowden vigorously replied to the assault with an
umbrella, and the men battered each other about the
head until the cane and umbrella had become useless.
A policeman put a stop to further hostilities by arresting
Col. Runkel. He had a hearing to-day on the charge of assault
and battery. Col. Snowden testified that he had not seen Col.
Runkel for years, and added that he had "always looked on
him as a dog and unfit for a gentleman to associate with."
Col. Snowden testified that he paid no attention to Col.
Runkel when he met him last evening. The first intimation
that he had of any trouble was a violent blow upon a head
from a cane. He turned, and as he did so, he said Col.
Runkel cried with an oath: "I'll kill you now." Col.
Snowden then struck at him with his umbrella. At the
conclusion of the hearing Col. Runkel was bound over in
$800 bail for trial.
Col. Snowden has a bruise on his forehead and a cut across
his ear. Col. Runkel also has a battered ear and a black eye.
Pete adds: "Runkle was sentenced to three months in the
county prison for his assault on Colonel Snowden."
QUERY: NUMISMATICS AND COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY'S LOMBAT PRIZE
David Lange writes: "I was reading the February issue of
Naval History Magazine when I came across an interesting
reference. In an article about historian Charles Oscar Paullin,
it was mentioned that he was a recipient of the $1000 Lombat
Prize. This is (or was) awarded every five years by Columbia
University for "the best work published in the English language
on the history, geography, ethnology, philology or numismatics
of North America." Of course, it was the reference to
numismatics which caught my attention.
"Paullin won the award not for numismatics, but for his
authorship of the Atlas of the Historical Geography of the
United States, published in 1932. This book is evidently long
out of print, and I found one copy for sale at $275.
"I attempted to locate a reference to the Lombat Prize on
the internet, but I couldn't find anything in a Google search
or at the Columbia website. Perhaps this award no longer exists,
but I would still expect to find some reference to it beyond
that already cited.
"Do any readers know of this prize, and has it ever been
awarded for a numismatic work?"
NEW ZEALAND HAS ITS MEDALS BACK!
Jim Duncan reports: "The New Zealand Police announced on
Saturday 16/2 that a "third party" had returned 96 stolen
medals "in mint condition". These included 9 Victoria Crosses,
two George Crosses and an Albert medal, all of which had been
stolen in a smash-and-grab raid on the NZ Army Museum at
Waiouru on 2 December.
"A reward of NZ$300,000 had been offered for 'information
leading to the safe return' of these incredibly valuable
tokens of heroism and sacrifice, and it was said on Saturday
that "a sum on money" would be transferred on Monday to the
third party - who was not involved with the theft. A lawyer
has been negotiating for their return since mid January when
he was handed one set of them.
"The reward figure - the greatest ever offered in New Zealand
- was made up of $200,000 from Lord Michael Ashcroft (a VC
collector himself), and a Nelson businessman, Tom Sturgess.
But what part of this figure was to be passed on has not
been stated, although the lawyer said he was not getting
any part of it.
"This happy event confirms the NZ Police view that the medals
never left the country."
[This is wonderful news. Below are links to some New Zealand
newspaper reports of the recovery. -Editor]
"Military medals stolen in a museum heist in December have
been recovered and the net is closing on those who stole
them, police announced today.
"The priceless collection of 96 medals, awarded to 12 of New
Zealand's most highly decorated war heroes, was stolen from
the Waiouru Army Museum in the early hours of December 2."
To read the complete article, see:
" 'Groovy' was how Nelson businessman Tom Sturgess felt
when police told him the reward he offered had led to the
recovery of precious military medals stolen in December's
To read the complete article, see:
Auckland lawyer Chris Comeskey, who negotiated the return
of the medals, said he thought those who took them had
underestimated the strength of public feeling about their loss.
He believed the medals would have been returned even
without the $300,000 reward, part of which would now be
paid, and those involved had asked him to pass on their
apologies to New Zealanders.
He said since he began the negotiations in January he
"never doubted for a moment" that the medals would be
returned although "they could have hung on to them for
another 50 years".
He revealed the first of the medals the Sergeant MHudson
set including a George Cross was handed over to him in
mid-January as a sign of good faith.
The rest of the set of 96 medals including nine Victoria
Crosses, two George Crosses and one Albert Medal stolen
from the Waiouru Army Museum in a raid on December 2 was
returned on Friday afternoon when a contact of Comeskey's
walked into his Auckland city office at 1.30 and laid
them on his desk.
"I said, 'What took you so long?"'
Comeskey said he was almost overcome when he saw the
medals and felt like weeping.
"I was speechless, gobsmacked. It was just a most
incredible feeling of achievement. I was aware that
King George had handled the Upham set."
To read the complete article, see:
STORM DAMAGE HITS LANDMARK OHIO 'COUNTERFEIT HOUSE'
[The People's Defender of Adams County, Ohio published
an article this week about storm damage to the landmark
"Counterfeit House". -Editor]
Even the spirits of those who died there and are said
to inhabit the notorious Counterfeit House were no match
for the winds that blew through Adams County on Feb. 6.
Roofing was ripped open, and one of the relic's seven
chimneys blew apart and crumbled to the ground with the
"It's the first time the Counterfeit House has sustained
that much damage," owner Jo Lynn Spires said Monday. The
structure has stood on a ridge overlooking the Ohio River
for almost 16 decades.
Pieces of roofing which covered three bedrooms on the east
side of the house were pulled up, exposing insulation,
ceilings and antique furnishings to the storm's rains. About
10 trees came down in the yard, along with the chimney.
In an effort to minimize the damage, Spires; her son-in-law,
Jamie Wilson; and friends Steve Conover, Don Nesbit and Joe
Grooms spent that morning wiping everything down and moving
furnishings out of harm's way. Part of the ceilings had fallen
in, according to Spires, and they drilled holes in what was
still up to let the water out. A tarp was placed over the
openings until the mangled tin can be replaced.
"It has a standing seam roof," Spires said. "I want to put
the same back on it. I try to keep everything as much like
the original as possible."
"I can't put the chimney back," she continued. "We can try
to replace it with one that looks like it this summer, to
keep the esthetics of the house. We're still waiting for an
appraiser to come in for the insurance before we can do
Legend has it that Oliver Ezra Thompkins purchased 118 acres
in 1850 on Gift Ridge Road in Monroe Township and built the
house for his counterfeit trade. His accomplice appeared to
be Ann E. Lovejoy. Spires has recently acquired information
that indicates Thompkins and Lovejoy may have originated in
New York from political families.
"Most of the story of the Counterfeit House is legend, but
supported by fact," said Stephen Kelley, historian. The house
itself holds evidence of a secret purpose, according to Kelley.
For instance, there is a trick lock on the front door that
would seem to be locked to the average observer, yet when the
knob is lifted in a certain way, it will open.
Of the seven chimneys on the house, only two are functional
chimneys. Ductwork would send smoke from the two real chimneys
to the other chimneys, making them appear to be real. Within
the false chimneys are apparently secret compartments.
In the front of the house, a small gable window may have been
used for a signal light. A special hidden slot built behind
an interior door is believed to be the place where the counterfeit
money was exchanged for the purchase price.
As the legend goes, according to Kelley and Spires, Lovejoy
was in Cincinnati using some of the counterfeit money and was
noticed by authorities. She was followed back to the Counterfeit
House by a Pinkerton agent, who managed to operate the trick
lock and gain entrance to the house through the front door.
It was in a 10-foot by 45-foot hallway that Thompkins allegedly
bludgeoned the agent to death. The floor and a wall are
reportedly still stained with blood.
"I saw the blood stain with my own eyes when I visited the
house," Kelley said. "That would have been in 1973."
The agent was believed to have been buried "over the hillside."
With the heat up, the legend says that Thompkins escaped capture
through a tunnel leading away from the house, big enough for a
man and a horse. He then destroyed the tunnel with some sort
Although the story of the tunnel seems far-fetched because
it would have been excavated through bedrock, Kelley said
there is evidence of a past explosion nearby.
A middle of the night funeral was later held for Thompkins.
His entire estate was willed to Lovejoy, who was unable to
keep up with a debt on the property and relocated to Georgetown.
A portion of the farm was purchased by a great-great uncle of
Spires in 1896. Her grandparents, John and Elizabeth Johnson,
purchased the house in the 1930s. Spires, an only child, grew
up in the house with her parents, John and Alberta Johnson,
and her grandfather.
"I enjoyed growing up there," Spires said. "I knew every Saturday
in warm weather that we had to get up and really clean, because
someone would always come to see the house. But I loved it."
Since 1986, Spires has lived in a trailer behind the house and
opens it to visitors on the first weekend in May.
"Over 1,000 people came to see it last year," she said.
"We've had 400 students come. We dressed up in period
clothes and did a reenactment of the murder. They loved it."
Unfortunately, with recent illnesses, Spires finds herself
falling behind in keeping up with the house. Last year she
bought paint for the exterior of the house, but was only
able to get the primer on the front.
"I think the house is what keeps me going, but anyone who
would like to donate assistance in any way, please contact
me," she said. "All help will be greatly appreciated."
[The article lists a phone number for Spires. Readers are
encouraged to offer assistance in any way possible. This
house holds a unique place in numismatic history. -Editor]
To read the complete article, see:
[I recalled learning about this house (or perhaps one like it)
but couldn't for the life of me recall where. I tried searching
the E-Sylum archives, but came up empty. I remembered a discussion
of a television special about counterfeiting, and after poking
around the web I found a reference to the 2001 documentary
"Making A Buck" which includes the story of "a mysterious couple
traveled to Ohio and built the only house in the USA designed
from the ground up for the purpose of creating fake money--the
Counterfeit House overlooking the Ohio River in Adams County,
Ohio, which still stands today."
Web searches turned up the following related links:
But the goldmine of information came from a most unlikely source
- a book written by a runner about his trip across the U.S.
See the next item for a lengthy excerpt about The Counterfeit
EXCERPT: THE COUNTERFEIT HOUSE FROM BRIAN STARK'S 'GETTING TO THE POINT'
[While trolling the web for more information on the Counterfeit
House I stumbled upon a marvelous account from the book 'Getting
to the Point.: In a dozen pairs of shoes' by runner Brian R.
Stark, who chronicled his 8-month trek across America.
Arriving at the Counterfeit House a few miles later I noticed
that the house itself looked in disrepair. There was no open
sign or other evidence that visitors were welcome. I approached
a trailer in the side yard of the house and knocked on the door.
An older woman came to the door but upon seeing someone she
didnt recognize, locked the storm door and waited to hear what
I wanted. I explained that I was running across the country
and had been looking forward to touring the Counterfeit House
for 500 miles. Unimpressed, she simply said, Well, its closed.
The roof leaks and its not open to the public. I was heartbroken.
What mysterious things were inside that home just a few yards away?
Perhaps this woman was getting back into action and used her,
Sorry, closed speech to cover the printing operation going
on in the shadows of the old home.
When I pressed her for a few stories about the old days she
finally sized me up through the screen and gave in to
storytelling as she unlatched the door and came outside. As
we sat down on the porch swing she slowly warmed up to me
and told me about this amazing site and her connection to it.
Oliver Tompkins built the Counterfeit House in 1840. Mr.
Tompkins designed the home for the purpose of making counterfeit
50-cent pieces and $500 bills. Just why he chose to make only
those two denominations is unclear. The doors to the home had
special locks designed so that even when locked, authorized
people could enter by turning the knob a certain way. Several
slots were carved away above interior doors. These slots were
where the counterfeit money was stored in bags and then replaced
with real money when an exchange took place. In the attic,
there is a small window in which Mr. Tompkins placed two lights.
One was green and the other red. From the advantageous position
of the home on a high bluff, the building can be seen from the
Ohio River over one and a half miles away. Boat captains who
knew of Mr. Tompkins business could look up the hillside and
if the green light was on, it meant that the coast was clear
and that they could come up to buy money. If the red light
was on, however, it meant trouble and to stay away. For
additional security, seven chimneys were erected in the home.
Of the seven, only two were actually used as such. The other
five were false double chimneys that had stairways built inside
them. Through an elaborate system of ducts, the two real
chimneys sent flumes of smoke out the five fake chimneys.
>From inside the fake chimney, and hidden behind a plume of
smoke, Mr. Tompkins could see who was coming up the hill.
In the back of the home was the actual counterfeiting room.
It was built with no doors or windows. The only access to
the room was through a trap door in the ceiling and a trap
door in the floor. The floor trap led to an escape tunnel
that went over one hundred yards underground big enough
for a man and a horse, to a nearby cliff, as a grainy
photocopied brochure stated.
As legend has it, Mr. Tompkins sister, Ann, tried to pass
one of his phony $500 bills in Cincinnati and that exchange
led police to follow her to her brothers home. When the
police were closing in, it is believed Mr. Tompkins and his
daughter escaped through the tunnel and blew it up on their
way out. To end the police chase that lasted for several
years, Ann returned to the Counterfeit House with a coffin
that she said contained the remains of her deceased father.
A mock funeral was held in the home. It is rumored that
Mr. Tompkins watched the funeral from one of his chimney
Though I never got to go inside, my new friend made the
history of the house come alive with her stories. I did
notice, however, that she seemed tired of her connection
with the home. She had lived in it for a number of years
with her husband who is now in a nursing home. She obviously
felt pain and loneliness but said that she just got to the
point where she couldnt take care of him any longer. She
said that later in the day she was going to mow the yard.
I couldnt imagine that she still took care of the daily
chores and I offered to do it for her but she declined.
When I asked why she was no longer giving tours of the home,
she explained that over the years the Counterfeit House has
suffered neglect and the roof needs to be replaced.
With such an unusual home like this and its historical
significance, I asked whether she had spoken to the local
historical society or the chamber of commerce to get help
with the buildings restoration. That was apparently the
wrong thing to say as she replied, Oh, those people dont
want to help me. They dont want to give me anything for
the house. She went on to say that the roof is leaking
so badly it needs to be replaced before the entire inside
is ruined. That would cost $5,000 alone. I thought surely
there was some kind of grant or foundation nearby that would
be willing to fix the roof until the rest of the funds for
restoration could be raised.
By this point in her story, she was much friendlier and
even offered me food. Grabbing my arm she asked, Can I
get you a cheese sandwich? and went inside towards the
kitchen before I could answer. How would you like a can
of Turkey Franks? Ive got Ice Cream! A Coke?
Each time she would say something, she would turn around,
go inside and get it, and each time that she got something,
she reminded herself of something else to offer me. Heres
a Hi-C Juice Box, that will be good. Oh, and heres a Reeses
Cup bar, youll need that!
We traded addresses and I was exceedingly pleased with my
visit to the Counterfeit House, even though I never saw
It rained on and off during the day but I didnt care.
As I ate my home-made lunch out of the rain under the steel
beams of a one-lane bridge, I began to fanaticize about
moving to Manchester, Ohio after my run and completely
renovating the Counterfeit House, giving tours, and telling
people how I came to know its history. That dream occupied
my thoughts until I arrived in Bentonville, at which point
I had decided that I was going to excavate the original
tunnel by hand, replace the roof by myself, and mow my new
friends yard twice a week for free for the rest of my life.
To read the complete article, see:
[This is a great yarn, but stories based on word of mouth
and grainy tourist attraction flyers aren't the most reliable
historical sources. I checked the index of Stephen Mihm's
new book 'A Nation of Counterfeiters: Capitalists, Con Men,
and the Making of the United States' (Harvard University
Press, 2007), but I came up empty. Can anyone refer us to
an authoritative publication about the house?
I contacted Stephen Mihm, and he wasn't aware of the Tompkins
house, although his book did discuss the James Brown house
outside Akron, Ohio (which was the home of another famous
counterfeiter and is also still standing). He writes: "I
think the counterfeiter is one who was active in the post
Civil War era, judging from the Pinkerton's reference. It's
a great story." Mihm was familiar with The E-Sylum because
Dick Doty had sent him our earlier items relating to his
book. Now Mihm's a subscriber - welcome! -Editor]
FILM REVIEW: THE COUNTERFEITERS
[The Hollywood Reporter published a wonderful article this
week about the making of "The Counterfeiters", a film based
on the true story of Operation Bernhard, the concentration
camp based Nazi counterfeiting operation during WWII.
Here are some excerpts. -Editor]
With so many movies having already been made about the
Holocaust you'd think filmmakers would have exhausted all
possible storylines a long time ago.
That's not the case, however, as Stefan Ruzowitzky's "The
Counterfeiters" makes clear. Opening Feb. 22 in New York
and Los Angeles via Sony Pictures Classics, "Counterfeiters"
is Austria's official selection in the 2007 Best Foreign
Language Film Oscar race. The film, shown last fall at the
Telluride and Toronto film festivals, provides a fresh
approach to the Holocaust as movie material with its true
story of one death camp inmate whose professional abilities
as an expert forger made him a particularly valuable prisoner.
Based on the book "The Devil's Workshop" by Adolf Burger,
the film is the true story of Salomon Smolianoff (called
Salomon Sorowitsch or Sally for short in the film and played
very well by Karl Markovics), who fell into Nazi hands when
they were trying to counterfeit British pounds and American
dollars to finance the war and ruin those countries' economies.
Salomon was already known to the German authorities as a
brilliant forger and when the Nazis realized they now had
him they quickly put him to work in the best possible
environment under the circumstances.
Asked about the process of writing the screenplay, Ruzowitzky
pointed out, "It was the usual problems you have when you're
writing a script that's based on (a book). Your first draft
is very close to the material, very close to the actual events.
And then you start making adaptations to make it a working
screenplay. I was happy to have Adolf Burger, one of the
survivors of the counterfeiters unit, as a story consultant.
Adapting the lengthy book and its true story into a movie
that runs 98 minutes wasn't easy: "It was mainly about sort
of straightening up the chain of events and making one movie
character out of three or four real life characters to make
it better for the audience to understand. But all these
details like operetta music being played to them all day
long (to drown out the screams of other prisoners being
tortured nearby!) -- all this is authentic. You couldn't
make up something like that. You wouldn't dare to make up
something like that."
The film takes place mostly in the Sachsenhausen deathcamp,
where two barracks were separated from the rest of the camp
for use as a fully equipped workshop for what was called
"Operation Bernhard" and revolved around counterfeiting
dollars and pounds.
There were two moments when I remember I got sort of emotional
during shooting the movie. One was when we shot the scene
where these normal inmates would enter the workshop (and see
the markedly better living conditions for the prisoners who
were working as counterfeiters). You could sense that the
whole crew was quiet and full of respect. And then we shot
that scene. When we were done, they would take out their cell
phones and chocolate bars from their pockets and (that) reminded
us that they were extras -- with makeup and costumes, but extras.
"The other moment was when Burger and Plappler were visiting
us on the set and suddenly we became aware that this is more
than just a movie. We were actually reconstructing an environment
where some of their friends had been killed, where they had
been tortured for a couple of years and there definitely is a
bigger responsibility (as filmmakers). When you're reading
documents or the biographies this is part of the process where
you're shattered as you read about all these unbelievable things."
To read the complete article, see:
SEATTLE TIMES 'ELIMINATE THE CENT' EDITORIAL
Dick Johnson writes: "Perhaps the editorial writer at the
Seattle Times watched the 60 Minutes TV program the day before,
but it published yet another editorial that took an opposite
view of Morley Safer's 'kiss up' to the U.S. Mint broadcast
last Sunday. Is such a comment late to the party or does it
add yet more weight to the public's view to abolish the cent
as a denomination.
"The writer knew of the zinc coated steel cents of 1943 and
pointed out their discontinuation after only one year. It also
mentioned the diminished purchasing power of the cent. Good
arguments both. Read and form your own opinion."
To read the complete article, see:
NEW YORK TIMES 'ELIMINATE THE CENT' ARTICLE
[Arthur Shippee forwarded this article from the New York
Times favoring the elimination of the cent. -Editor]
But generally speaking, New Yorkers have little use for the
Many reject it as change, tossing it instead into the tip
baskets that sit on many store counters. Few stoop to pick
up a penny on the sidewalk. In the not-so-distant days of
the subway token, signs instructed riders to avoid using
pennies as payment. Some in New York, a city not blessed
with vast reservoirs of patience, find it a torment to be
stuck on a checkout line while a customer up ahead fumbles
for a penny or two.
One bit of change that many New Yorkers definitely do not
believe in is the penny.
They would just as soon see it disappear, with business
transactions rounded to the nearest nickel. A few European
countries have blazed the trail, abolishing their smallest
coins as a waste.
In the last federal fiscal year, it cost the Mint 1.67 cents
to make each of the roughly eight billion pennies it churned
out. In other words, taxpayers paid more than $130 million
for coins valued at only $80 million. Looked at another way,
even your opinions have become more expensive. It costs about
3 cents to put in your 2 cents.
That sort of change makes sense to Representative Michael N.
Castle, a Delaware Republican with a longstanding interest
in this issue. Obviously, we need to get the costs in line,
Mr. Castle said. The other alternative is to get rid of it
altogether, he said, referring to the penny, but the reality
is that theres still a great deal of political opposition
to going that route.
Too bad, says Beth Deisher, the editor of Coin World, a
magazine for collectors that believes the pennys demise
is overdue. With the 100th anniversary in sight, Ms. Deisher
said, we think it would be a good idea to bring the Lincoln
cent to a close.
Name the things you can buy for a penny, she said.
Except for thoughts, not a single thing. If youre the
government, you cant even buy a penny for a penny.
To read the complete article, see:
MOFFATT & CO. REACHES AGREEMENT TO PRODUCE GALLERY MINT PRODUCTS
[Timothy Grat of Moffatt & Co. forwarded a press release
this week about the Moffatt agreement to strike U.S. coin
reproductions from the dies of the former Gallery Mint.
Here are some excerpts. -Editor]
Moffatt & Co. Extreme Custom Minting of Eureka Springs, AR.
has announced that they have reached a manufacturing agreement
with Martin Roenigk of Eureka Springs, the new owner of the
Gallery Mints dies used to produce the line of Gallery Mint
US coin reproductions. Mr. Roenigk purchased the rights,
dies, and most of the antique minting equipment from surviving
Gallery Mint owner Ron Landis in early January.
Through this exclusive agreement Moffatt & Co. will be
producing most Gallery Mint products. This agreement will
also allow Moffatt & Co. to utilize design elements of these
classic US coin replicas so that professional numismatists,
and numismatic clubs and organizations can also create
custom coins and medals with these original Gallery Mint
classic US coin designs.
Scheduled for immediate production is a previously unreleased,
Ron Landis engraved, 1652 Massachusetts Pine Tree Three-pence.
Soon to follow will be the Gobrecht Dollar, with main design
devices sculpted by former US Mint artist Thomas Rogers, also
known as the sculptor for the reverse of the Sacajawea dollar,
the Massachusetts, Maryland, and South Carolina state quarters,
as well as many other collectable commemorative coins,
Congressional and U.S. Mint medals.
For further information please contact Moffatt & Co. toll free
at 866-530-MINT (6468), sales at moffattandco.com, or www.moffattandco.com.
[But how will the Moffatt restrikes be distinguished from
the original Gallery Mint strikings? The investment buyers
made in limited-edition Gallery Mint products could be
jeopardized if the original dies are used to make
indistinguishable restrikes. -Editor]
LITHUANIA'S BIG BANKNOTE BUILDING
[The Baltic Times this week published an article about a
building designed to look like one of the country's banknotes.
I've heard of money art, but money architecture? Plenty of
buildings have decorative elements that may mimic coins of
money symbols, but until now I'd never heard of an entire
building. Who built it, Scrooge McDuck? Read on to find
out, and be sure to click on the article link to see a
picture of the building. -Editor]
They say that money doesn't grow on trees. Well, in Kaunas it
grows on buildings. Earlier, if tourists ever bothered to
visit Lithuania's dog-eared interwar capital at all, it was
to see the Italian Baroque majesty of Pazaislis or quirky
Old Town highlights such as the Thunder House and the White
Swan. Now, however, a contender for the title of oddest
Kaunas tourist attraction of 2008 is Office Center 1000.
A curvaceous, luminous, 10-floor office building designed
in the form of a LTL 1,000 banknote, Office Center 1000 is
being touted locally as one of the Baltic region's most
daring and original construction projects. The exterior is
virtually finished, but the interior will only be fully
completed in June. That's when the lucky companies that
have signed up for this Class A office space will be able
to move in.
Jonas Plenta, marketing manager of Urmas, the company
behind the project, insists that the new structure is not
simply a mighty monument to the power of money.
At around the same time we were assessing some of the design
projects for a new office building in 2005, Lithuania was
one of two new EU member states applying to join the euro
zone. We happened to come across a very elegant banknote
dating from 1926, and decided to use it as our overall theme.
The exterior consists of 4,500 different pieces of glass with
enamel designs, which are being slotted together like a giant
jigsaw puzzle. The glass was made in the Netherlands and
shipped over, and it can, Plenta assures, withstand even the
most extreme Lithuanian weather.
Acclaimed Dutch artist Rob Borgmann, managing director of
Glass Printing International and a specialist of the
screenprinting technique of placing images on glass for
use in building facades, gave valuable advice on the Kaunas
project. He previously worked on bold architectural projects
such as the multicolored Netherlands Institute for Sound
and Vision near Amsterdam.
To read the complete article, see:
NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE ON GOING PAPERLESS
[This week the New York Times had an interesting article
on a family that has gone entirely paperless, putting all
their paperwork, including books, into electronic format.
The E-Sylum has been paperless from day one, and here and
there we see examples of electronic numismatic literature.
Will the day come when most collectors view their literature
in electronic form only? -Editor]
CHRIS UHLIKS children can be found in their home computer
lab almost every morning. Nicole is writing a story about
her two lizards. Tony is playing an interactive spelling
game, while Andy is learning multiplication tables. Even
5-year-old Joceline is clicking away at a storybook game.
Mr. Uhlik, an engineering director at Google, and his family
live a practically paper-free life. The children are home-
schooled on computers. Other sources of household paper
lists, letters, calendars have become entirely digital.
Going paperless was a conscious decision by the Uhliks.
But many families may be closer to entering a paperless
world than they realize. Paper-reducing technologies have
crept into homes and offices, perhaps more for efficiency
than for environmentalism; few people will dispute the
convenience of online bill-paying and airline e-tickets.
Paper is no longer the master copy; the digital version
is, says Brewster Kahle, the founder and director of the
Internet Archive, a nonprofit digital library. Paper has
been dealt a complete deathblow. When was the last time
you saw a telephone book?
Some people are happy to throw away their past. Not me,
says Brad Templeton, who has founded an Internet newspaper
and a software company and is the chairman of the Electronic
Frontier Foundation. Im a digital pack rat. I have phone
bills from 1983 and taxes from the 1990s. But I have everything
scanned, so it takes up no physical space. For me, scanners
provide the magic of still having all my documents without
Although he would like to scan his entire book collection,
Mr. Templeton, who is based in Silicon Valley, instead
typically reads e-books when he is delayed at the airport
or caught in a line somewhere. Its not as pleasant as
reading a paper book, he said. But the e-book you have
is better than the book you dont.
Many companies, like H-P, Fujitsu, and Canon, have leapt
into the paperless home market with new scanners for personal
and home use, which is the fastest-growing sales segment.
Worldwide shipments jumped to 623,000 in 2007 from 354,000
in 2005, and sales are expected to top 1.1 million by 2010,
according to IDC, a market research company.
Fujitsu introduced a document-fed scanner called the ScanSnap
in 2003, expecting to sell it mostly to businesses. But the
company quickly realized that there was a huge market for
inexpensive, fast household scanners. Its small, portable
ScanSnap was introduced in November, at a price of $295,
well below the $495 price of the larger original.
Some people prefer to bypass the purchase of a scanner and
instead farm out the scanning to India, where it can be
done on the cheap. ScanCafé, which specializes in digitizing
and retouching photographs, has an office in the San Francisco
Bay Area, but most of its employees are in Bangalore. They
will take a shoe box full of prints or a photo album and
return the originals with a CD and your own online digital
library. They scan paper documents, too, for about 40 cents
Robert Burdock, a student at the University of St. Andrews
in Scotland, carries a digital camera to class so he can
take a picture of any handout and immediately turn it into
a text-searchable document on his laptop.
Say Im writing an essay on Edward III. A quick input of
the term in Google Desktop and Im presented with everything
I have on the subject, Mr. Burdock wrote in an e-mail message,
which had a note at the bottom asking the recipient to consider
the environment before printing. This is a massive time saver
when compared to manual searching and sifting.
IN the desire for efficiency to find exactly what you need
the moment you need it paper is being left behind. Mr. Uhlik,
who also worked on Googles Book Search, the book scanning
project, has scanned about 100 of his reference books to try
to make his home library digital and searchable. Because he
wants to keep the house nearly paper-free, most of his
remaining 1,000 books are in a shed. He occasionally pays
his children to help scan them.
Once the books are all scanned and backed up on several
hard drives, Ill never have to worry about the shed roof
leaking and ruining them, he says. Ive preserved them
forever if I put them on the computer.
To read the complete article, see:
UPDATE ON USING COINS AS TIRE GAUGE
Dick Johnson writes: "We reported here in E-Sylum how to
use a Lincoln cent as a test for tread wear on your auto's
tires (December 5, 2004). Consumer Reports updated the coin
test this week, saying to use a quarter instead.
"Consumer Report's tests show that using a penny is too stingy
and that most consumers should consider replacing their tires
when the tread reaches 1/8 inch. To quote their report: 'To
gauge tread wear, place a quarter upside down in a tire groove.
The distance from the coin's rim to George Washington's hairline
is about 1/8 inch. If you see more of his head, consider
replacing your tires.'
"Does it make a difference if you use a State Reverse quarter?"
To read the complete article, see:
LINCOLN CENT RECOMMENDED AS TIRE TREAD GAUGE
FEATURED WEB SITE: NUMISMATIC EVIDENCE DATING REVELATION
This week's featured web site is on Numismatic Evidence
for the Dating of the New Testement Book of Revelation.
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization
promoting numismatic literature. For more information please
see our web site at
There is a membership application available on the web site
at this address:
To join, print the application and return it with your check
to the address printed on the application. Membership is only
$15 to addresses in the U.S., $20 for First Class mail, and
$25 elsewhere. For those without web access, write to:
David M. Sundman, Secretary/Treasurer
Numismatic Bibliomania Society,
P. O. Box 82 Littleton, NH 03561
For Asylum mailing address changes and other membership
questions, contact David at this email address:
dsundman at LittletonCoin.com
To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, just
Reply to this message, or write to the Editor at this
address: whomren at coinlibrary.com
Those wishing to become new E-Sylum subscribers
(or wishing to Unsubscribe) can go to the following web page:
All past E-Sylum issues are archived on the NBS web site at this address:
Issues from September 2002 to date are also archived at this address:
More information about the Esylum