The E-Sylum v11#07, February 17, 2008

esylum at esylum at
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.


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.

Wayne Homren
Numismatic Bibliomania Society


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."


[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

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 Society’s 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 world’s currencies 
and medallic art. The Librarian’s 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 library’s users. A degree in library and/or information 
science is preferred. 

For more information about the ANS Librarian position, see:


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."


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:


[Dennis Tucker forwarded the following press release 
announcing the latest title in Whitman's "100 greatest" 
series.  -Editor] 

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 America’s 
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 
Publishing’s 100 Greatest library. It follows books that 
showcase coins, currency notes, medals and tokens, and 
stamps of the United States—in fact, it is the first title 
of the 100 Greatest family to focus on non–U.S. collectibles. 
This reflects Whitman’s 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 rarities—the 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 
smart buying.

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 coin’s 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 1–100 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 coin’s 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. “It’s a time machine 
that takes the reader to a hundred different points in 
world history. And it’s a fascinating introduction to 
the hobby of collecting these important coins.”

Emperors and charlatans, owls and turtles, gods and 
goddesses, military heroes and villainous rogues—all 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 


[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]


[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 what’s a “history and research” guy doing reviewing a 
“collecting and investing” publication? Well, I rarely 
come across a numismatic book that doesn’t 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 I’m 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 Ambio’s new book, Collecting 
and Investing Strategies for United States Gold Coins 
(Zyrus Press, Inc.,

Ambio’s 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 book’s 
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 book’s 
introduction that I hadn’t 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 sale’s 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 it’s basically a recitation of the 
book’s chapters.

Chapter 1 includes the book’s 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 investors—studying 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 hasn’t been caught and thrown out 

The real advice comes next, and it’s 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 2’s 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 Ambio’s 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, 
or phone toll-free, 800-467-5725.


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 
Edwin Blashfield. 

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 
design fascinating.

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. 




[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."


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]


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 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."



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)"



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."



[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 
very often".  
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?



[Dick Johnson forwarded this article from USA Today about 
the Husak large cent collection sale at Long Beach this 
week.  -Editor]

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:


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."


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 
it happens."


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.


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 
World Coins."

[OK, I need TWO more books for my library.  -Editor]



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.


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 ? 
Nuf Sed."



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, I quickly found Theron Hitchcock, an Oswego 
dentist in the 1900 federal census.  With that as a beginning, 
I searched 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 didn’t look any further.

"The source information for the Theron Hitchock entry would be: 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 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. 

Here’s 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 
it.  -Editor]



[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."


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?"

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 
museum heist."

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:


[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 
of explosive.

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 
House.  -Editor]


[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 
didn’t 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, it’s closed.  
The roof leaks and it’s 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 brother’s 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 couldn’t take care of him any longer.  She 
said that later in the day she was going to mow the yard.  
I couldn’t 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 building’s restoration.   That was apparently the 
wrong thing to say as she replied, “Oh, those people don’t 
want to help me.  They don’t 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?  I’ve 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.  “Here’s 
a Hi-C Juice Box, that will be good.  Oh, and here’s a Reese’s
Cup bar, you’ll need that!”

We traded addresses and I was exceedingly pleased with my 
visit to the Counterfeit House, even though I never saw 
the inside.

It rained on and off during the day but I didn’t 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 
friend’s 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]


[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:

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:


[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 
one-cent coin.

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 “there’s 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 penny’s 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 you’re the 
government, you can’t even buy a penny for a penny.

To read the complete article, see:


[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 Mint’s 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, or

[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]


[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:


[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 UHLIK’S 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. “I’m 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 
the clutter.”

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. “It’s not as pleasant as 
reading a paper book,” he said. “But the e-book you have 
is better than the book you don’t.”

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
a page.

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 I’m writing an essay on Edward III. A quick input of 
the term in Google Desktop and I’m 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 Google’s 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, I’ll never have to worry about the shed roof 
leaking and ruining them,” he says. “I’ve preserved them 
forever if I put them on the computer.”

To read the complete article, see:

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:



This week's featured web site is on Numismatic Evidence 
for the Dating of the New Testement Book of Revelation.

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