The E-Sylum v18#45 November 8, 2015

The E-Sylum esylum at
Sun Nov 8 19:42:50 PST 2015

The E-Sylum
  An electronic publication of
  The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

Volume 18, Number 45, November 8, 2015

Click here to read this issue on the web

Click here to access the complete archive
To comment or submit articles, reply to 
whomren at



New subscribers this week include:
Richard Bashein and
Lee Hartz.
Welcome aboard!
We now have 1,892 subscribers.

This week we open with a note from the ANA, two new numismatic books, and one review.
Other topics include the Coin Collector's Manual, Walter Breen, the Saratoga Quarter, Jerry Schmidt, James Rivington, and Movie Money.

To learn more about George F. Jones, the 1856 buzzard cent, Luck for Morse, ration tokens, the Denver Mint, the Mint Cabinet Account Books, Dick Yeo's original handmade mockup for the first Red Book, the silver dollar dress and the mystery of the upside-down treasurer, read on.   Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Editor, The E-Sylum


As he announced here last week, numismatic literature dealer David Sklow is closing his business to take a new position at the American Numismatic Association in Colorado Springs, CO.  As longtime E-Sylum readers know, it's not his first time in that role.  Here's the ANA's press release.

Renowned bibliophile David Sklow has joined the American Numismatic Association staff as the manager of the Dwight N. Manley Library. Sklow will oversee and manage the library and its assets.
During his previous employment, he served in a similar capacity as Director for the ANA Library and Research Center, and was responsible for coordinating publications of the ANA Journal, a scholarly numismatic periodical. He has served as the ANA Historian, a position he held for more than 11 years. Sklow continues to inspire junior collectors at the annual ANA Summer Seminar as the Numismatic Literature instructor.

"It's great to be back, and moving forward," said David. "Books are the pathway to knowledge."

Involved in coin collecting for more than 50 years, Sklow started in the hobby as a casual collector but ultimately became a renowned historian, and an expert of numismatic literature. 

Sklow holds a degree in applied Avionics from the Community College of the Air Force at Maryland, and is a graduate from the Eastern Military Academy, Cold Springs, New York. Upon graduation, he went on to serve as a Flight Engineer for the U.S. Air Force. With more than two decades of service in aviation, Sklow maintained and coordinated all in-flight systems, calculated the takeoff, in-flight and landing data, and oversaw emergency procedures.

His numismatic career took flight in 1992 when he opened Treasured Books. As owner, Sklow produced numismatic literature mail bid sales, and fixed price lists. In 1998 he became partner of The Money Tree, where he produced numismatic literature auction catalogs. Most recently, Sklow owned Fine Numismatic Books, a full service numismatic literature auction business. 

An ANA life member, Sklow is a Charter and Life member of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society. His other memberships include the Numismatic Literary Guild, the Early American Coppers, and the American Philatelic Society. He is the past President for the Ocala Coin Club, and the former Secretary/Treasurer for the Token and Medal Society. 

Sklow is a recipient of the Numismatic Ambassador Award, ANA Glenn Smedley Award, ANA Century Club Award, ANA Presidential Award, and the ANA Medal of Merit Award. He was awarded the Aaron Feldman Memorial Award for his first place exhibit displaying ANA Membership Directories in 2001. 

The American Numismatic Association is a congressionally chartered nonprofit educational organization dedicated to encouraging people to study and collect money and related items. The ANA helps its 24,000-plus members and the public discover and explore the world of money through its vast array of education and outreach programs, as well as its museum, library, publications, conventions and seminars. For more information, call 719-632-2646 or go to

To read the complete press release, see:

American Numismatic Association Veteran Joins Staff : 
David Sklow to Manage Dwight N. Manley Library


To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:




Author Yossi Dotan forwarded these details about the third and final volume in his set on Watercraft on World Coins, Vol. III: Africa and Oceania, 1800-2011.   Congratulations!

Watercraft on World Coins is a three-volume catalog that narrates all modern "ship coins" issued from 1800. The first volume (287 pages, published in 2007) includes the coins issued by European countries up to and including 2005; the second volume (359 pages, published in 2010) presents the coins of nations in the Americas and Asia until 2008; Volume III (460 pages, available in the United States early 2016) narrates the coins of countries in Africa and Oceania to 2011.

Within each continent, the coins are arranged alphabetically per country, and within each country they are presented according to the sequence of their KM-numbers. This arrangement facilitates looking up current values of the coins in the latest edition of Krause Mishler's Standard Catalog of World Coins. It is interesting to note, however, that 22% of the designs narrated in the new volume are not yet listed in the Standard Catalog. 

Within a country, all coins with a common ship design are grouped under one heading. This applies, for example, to South African pennies and halfpennies, with legends in English or Afrikaans, which were issued by different British monarchs prior to independence. All of them depict the flagship of the Dutchman who established the trading and victualing station at the Cape of Good Hope that grew into the city of Cape Town. A general catalog treats all these coins as different types, while for a topical collector they constitute just one type. He or she can decide to collect all the coins grouped together or just one of the type.

Black-and-white illustrations are presented in the catalog for about 80 per cent of the designs. The illustrations are all crown sized, most of them having been enlarged so that the designs appear to full advantage. The actual diameter of the coin is stated near the image.

Each listing is followed by a narrative, commencing with a detailed description of the design beyond the basics such as the country name and denomination. The side of the coin that depicts the watercraft is presented first.

The description is followed by vital statistics of the ship, her history and her fate; background information about the persons depicted and their relevance to the ship; and particulars about the event commemorated by the coin. Other aspects of the design, such as bridges, buildings, aircraft, masks, and sculptures shown on the coins, are described as well, and the edge inscription is stated. Where available, the painting or lithograph is named after which the design was modeled.

These narratives, often more than 400 words long, are what sets the book apart from other catalogs and makes the book attractive to the collector who wants to understand the design of the coin and its historical relevance. I am not aware of any other catalog that goes into so much detail when describing a coin.

Finding all such information has been a challenge, even in this age of Internet, text and image search machines, and translation tools. Information found in press releases by the central banks and mints that market the coins, or in numismatic periodicals in English, German, and Dutch, is limited and had to be supplemented by research in specialized libraries, creative thinking, and assistance by persons in countries far away, such as a ship coin collector in Russia or a ship stamp collector in New Zealand. 

While I have researched ship coins for forty years, writing of the book began when I retired at the age of 65. Now at the age of 81 I feel very fortunate to have been able to bring this work to fruition and I am happy to share the results of my research with fellow numisnautists and other interested collectors.

Ship coins are one of the most popular collecting themes. No wonder that mints flood the market with new issues. To illustrate the volume of new issues: of the 955 designs narrated in the third volume, 35% relate to issues of the last 6 years (2006-2011). The remaining 65% relate to issues of the preceding 206 years (1800-2005). 

The book is published in England by The Alpha Press. Their web page for the book is The page includes reviews for the first two volumes and presents a Google preview of some of the pages of the book. Volume III has 460 pages and 770 coin images. The list price is $79.95 and the ISBN 978-1-898595-51-9.

I hope that fellow ship coin collectors will enjoy this unique source of knowledge to enhance their collecting experience. And after taking the book in hand, other readers as well may be attracted to this fascinating subject and start their own collection of ship coins.

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:






Krause Publications has published a new edition of their Standard Catalog of World Paper Money - Modern Issues 1961-Present.  The below is taken from their web site.

Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, Modern Issues, 1961-Present, 21st Edition
By George S. Cuhaj
Format: Paperback

A network of more than 80 international paper money collectors and dealers work with editor, George S. Cuhaj, to ensure that the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, Modern Issues, is the most comprehensive resource available for proper identification, description and valuation of modern world bank notes. All circulating paper bank notes worldwide are included in this one-of-a-kind catalog.  This brand-new 21st edition includes 30,000 adjusted prices, enhanced descriptions, and more information on specific design elements throughout the catalog.

The 21st edition of the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money includes:

Valuable data added by 80 international paper money collectors and dealers

Hundreds of new world mint issues

Hundreds of new and improved images for easy identification

In-depth descriptions for accurate identification

SKU	T6740
Author/Speaker/Editor	George S. Cuhaj
Format	Paperback
ISBN 13	9781440244117
Number Of Pages	1216

For more information, or to order, see:

Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, Modern Issues, 1961-Present, 21st Edition



In the November 5, 2015 issue of CoinsWeekly, Ursula Kampmann reviews the new festschrift in honor of Andrew Burnett.
I've formatted the contents as a list for this version.

It takes a lot of courage – or should we say audacity – to initiate a work as huge as the catalog of Roman Provincial Coinage. Most of all, however, it takes an unlimited network of friendly colleagues who are willing to contribute to such an ambitious project. Anyone who wants to undertake such a project needs amicable relations to many numismatists. Andrew Burnett is such a person. A modest personality, quite popular with colleagues, he had the foresight of starting to prepare a catalog of all coins produced in the Roman provinces.

Now what has this got to do with his festschrift? Very simple. His amicable relations to the most distinguished numismatists of our time are reflected in the list of authors who insisted on contributing to this volume with an essay and thus honoring their dear friend. The names speak for themselves and bear witness to the quality of this festschrift. To provide you with the opportunity to see for yourself how wide the range of topics really is, we reproduce the list of contents here:

Johan van Heesch and Fran Stroobants, The silver coinage of Sagalassos in Pisidia; 

Giovanni Gorini, A new hoard of Romano-Campanian coins from Nora (Sardinia); 

Michael Crawford, The coinage of the Mamertini; 

Pere Pau Ripollès and Richard Witschonke, The unofficial Roman Republican semisses struck in Spain; 

Ian Leins, Anarevito: Political fluidity in southern Britain in the late Iron Age; 

Michel Amandry, Une mystérieuse émission provinciale tibérienne frappée en Asie Mineure; 

Chris Howgego, The circulation of the gold coinage of Vespasian struck in the East; 

William E. Metcalf, A new Vespasianic mint?; 

Richard Abdy, Capita aut capita? The double heads (and double tails) coins of Hadrian; 

Richard Reece, Coins and sites: cautionary tales from Time Team; 

Roger Bland, Roman contacts with Ireland in the light of the coins from Drumanagh; 

Kevin Butcher, Debasement and the decline of Rome; 

Dario Calomino, From Thrace to Lesbos. Coinage and cities across the Hellespont in the 3rd century AD; 

Jerome Mairat and Antony Hostein, Les monnaies d’Alexandrie de Troade au milieu du IIIe siècle: liaisons de coins indédites; 

Alexander Bursche und Kirill Myzgin, Gold coins, Alexandria Troas and Goths; 

Sylviane Estiot, L’Empereur et l’usurpateur: un 4e atelier oriental sous Probus; 

Sam Moorhead, A dated coin of Allectus; Edward Besly, Allectus and his money; 

Francois de Callatay, Sir Andrew Fountaine (1676-1753) and his early numismatic correspondence with Andreas Morell (1646-1703).

Wow - what a great list of topics!

Roger Bland and Dario Calomino (eds.), Studies in Ancient Coinage in Honor of Andrew Burnett. London 2015, Spink. 316 p. with numerous b/w illustrations. Hardcover with elaborate dust jacket. Adhesive binding. 21.5 x 28 cm. ISBN 978-1-907427-57-2. 50 pounds + postage and packaging.

For more information or to order, see:

Studies in Ancient Coinage in Honor of Andrew Burnett by Bland, R. and Calomino, D. (eds.)


To read the complete article, see:

Studies in Ancient Coinage in Honour of Andrew Burnett



In his November 2, 2015 Numismatic Bookie column for Coin World, Joel Orosz examines the first "Guide Book for Coin Collectors", published in 1860.

A quiz:  When was the first guide book of United States coins published? Most will answer “1947,” the cover date of the Red Book’s first edition. The correct answer is “1860.” In that last antebellum year, George F. Jones invented the retail price guide for American coins that Whitman would, decades later, reprise for its Guide Book. 

Coin collecting in America is older than the nation:  numismatists were prowling the colonies by the 1750s. There were few “coin cranks” at first, but their numbers steadily increased. The hobby grew exponentially during the 1850s, but new collectors were flying blind:  there were no reference books, no numismatic newspapers, no coin clubs, and few part-time dealers.

Enter the ingenious George F. Jones, with The Coin Collector’s Manual, which he stated was “Designed as a guide book for coin collectors.” How could Jones determine a coin’s value in the small market of 1860? He resourcefully discovered five guides from the recent past:  the auction of John W. Kline’s collection in June 1855; Edward Cogan’s sale of his large cents in November 1858; Cogan’s auction of J.N.T. Levick’s collection in December 1859; Augustus B. Sage’s and Bangs, Merwin’s auctions in 1859; and Cogan’s sale of May 1860.  For these events (all except Sage’s and Bangs’ held in Philadelphia), Jones recorded the coin’s price realized, and its condition.

So, for each listed piece — say, a 1796 Draped Bust dollar — there were up to five values provided from auction sales. These coins tended to be in varying conditions, which led to some curious comparisons. A 1799 Draped Bust cent in Fine condition, for example, had gone for $8 at the Levick Sale in 1859, but another only in Good went for $10 at Cogan’s sale just a year later. In explanation of such anomalies — proving that some things never change — Jones writes: “There are some apparent discrepancies where the condition of the coin sold, is represented as the same, [but] the prices are widely different. This can be accounted for in no other way, than that one coin collector or dealer may call a coin fine or very fine, when another would describe one exactly like it, only as good or fine.”

Another of Jones’ observations also reinforces the constancy of some numismatic maxims: “Coins in poor condition, unless decidedly rare, are receiving but little notice, while those which are good impressions, find liberal purchasers immediately.”

But some things do change, including numismatic nomenclature. Jones calls the 1793 chain cent a “link;” he lists a 1795 “Curious head” cent; and Jones calls the 1856 flying eagle cent a “buzzard.”

The Coin Collector’s Manual was published in a small edition, and is today quite rare. It was the Red Book decades before there was a Red Book, and humble though it was, opened the door to literally millions of guide books to follow.

To read the complete article, see:

What was the first U.S. coins price guide?



Dave Lange writes:

I'm really close to submitting my manuscript about coin albums produced by the Coin & Currency Institute to the book designer, but I want to tie up a few remaining loose ends.
I presently have a photograph of Robert Friedberg and a signature of Jack Friedberg. I'd like to complete these items, so I'm seeking a signature of Robert's and a photo of Jack that I may reproduce in my book on their line of coin albums.

This is a great project. 
Can anyone help?


Frank Colletti forwarded this note about a special 1997 Red Book.

I was recently able to acquire the attached copy of the leather 50th Anniversary edition that was produced by Whitman for the Red Book.
 Originally produced in 1200 pieces, with the special insert, they were sold without Ken Bressett’s signature.

However, I  acquired the attached copy with a ‘special’ plate saying: “A Guide Book of United States Coins”, [Signed by Ken Bressett] then:
“Ken Bressett, Editor of the Red Book and President of the A.N.A.”

I have corresponded with Ken, and he says that it is indeed his signature, however, he has no recollection of when or why this was made.

Any readers who may be able to help with any information would be greatly appreciated.
I would like to know if anyone has seen this before, any copies in their libraries, and any info about where, where or how distributed.


 Mystery of the Upside-Down Treasurer 

George Kolbe writes:

The NBS Treasury is upside down? Or is it merely the Treasurer?

Pete Smith writes:

When Terry White was asked to serve as NBS Treasurer, I understand his response was, "I could do that job standing on my head!"

Perhaps he did - I wouldn't be surprised.  But what George and Pete are referring to is the unusual tendency of Terry's photo in the last issue to flip itself upside-down when viewed on certain devices.   All I can say is it worked OK for me.  Sorry for the confusion!

The PayPal option is working well.  Terry reports that we already have four new members who've signed up that way, along with one renewing member.  As regular memberships expire at the end of the year, more may wish to use the PayPal option.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:



 Great Recent Articles  
Dave Bowers writes:

Catching up with my reading I have on hand the MCA Advisory, ANS Magazine,   Penny-Wise, and the C4 Newsletter. These four magazines and the organizations behind them—the Medal Collectors of America, the American Numismatic Society, Early American Coppers, Inc., and the Colonial Coin Collectors Club—are what the art and science of numismatics is all about (and I give a nod to the ANA, CWTS, TAMS, and other great groups whose publications I enjoy, but are not in the unread pile I have here).

I dare say that if copies of these four magazines were given to just about anyone of literary and historical persuasion and read, they would automatically become dedicated numismatists! How wonderful these magazines are. I anticipate spending several hours absorbing them. What treasures!

I'll second the motion!  There have indeed been some wonderful issues and articles published lately by these organizations.  If you're interested in U.S. numismatics and don't already belong, join now!

For more information about the organizations, see:

 Quick Quiz: Art and Artists on the Monuments Men Medal 
Jim Duncan from New Zealand writes:

I have purchased a "Monuments Men" medal from the US Mint - fabulous service!
But I cannot identify all the works of art on it.   

Jim's actually identified all but one of the artists and artworks depicted on the medal.  Can E-Sylum readers help?   Quick Quiz: Who can name them all?

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:



 Clock Token Issuer: Harvey R. Caberey 

Kay Olson Freeman  has found a potential attribution for the mystery "H.R.C" token. Thanks!

“H.R.C.” is HARVEY R. CABEREY (b. Oct. 15, 1822, Cornwall, Orange County, NY – d. between 1892 and 1896, Chicago. IL).

Caberey moved to Chicago 1849 after marrying 1844 in NY, Ruth Whatley (b. 1826, New Jersey – d. @ 1905, Chicago,IL)

Sherwood & Whatley were Chicago firm of silversmiths,  jewelers, watchmakers.
[Smith Jones Sherwood  & Eli Whatley were partners who made/retailed coin silver, not sterling silver, objects late 1840’s – 1850’s.].

In 1855, Caberey took over firm Sherwood &Whatley until selling out 1862.
Then Caberey manufactured and dealt military goods. Then he sold Masonic regalia etc. until his death.

Sherwood & Whatley had an establishment at Lake and Dearborn Streets, Chicago, with a clock outside.
That clock indicated the Standard Time  kept by the railroads which rail passengers were advised to consult.

Thus the token imagery is explained and it can be dated between 1855 and 1862 probably.
Not explained is what token used for although would seem to indicate a receipt for an item.

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:



NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: NOVEMBER 1, 2015 : More on the H. R. C. Clock Token


 India 2015 -Indo African Summit Coin

Regarding an Indian coin for the Indo-African Summit, last week I asked:

Um, what the heck IS this mess? Superimposed maps? I'm totally lost on this one.

Chip Howell writes:

I think you should have a dermatologist look at that one.

Pabitra Saha says the coin display the logo of the summit, which he provides here.  In color, it makes some sense.  I was right about the superimposed maps, but couldn't see the lion.  Nice, but not a good base for a coin design.

Pabitra Saha adds:

Apart from the Lion ( which is found only in Africa And India), the logo has diamonds (Africa is the largest producer and India is the largest processor).

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

SOME RECENT COIN DESIGNS: NOVEMBER 1, 2015 : India 2015 -Indo African Summit


 A Premature Death 
Regarding the headline of last week's article on the bookseller trade token dies of Henry Morris, Dave Lange writes:

I'm always saddened to learn of the passing of another beloved token...

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:



 Mint Bag Wax, 1794 Large Cent Find 

Dan Demeo       writes:

1.  The wax on the old mint bag.  I believe the seal was applied to the tie, after it was placed around the neck of the bag.  Wax on the bag probably just collateral damage--doubt they would bother putting anything to catch inadvertent drips.  Not like dentistry, where it's bad form to leave blood spots on your shirt.

2.  The 1794 large cent found in England appears to be shielded hair, S65, S64, or, don't I wish, NC-6.  The obverse shows the heavy rim to the left, typical of shielded hair.  The reverse determines the Sheldon variety, didn't see a reverse photo.

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:

NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: NOVEMBER 1, 2015 : An Early U.S. Mint Canvas Coin Bag




 Dictionary of Banking Terms and Phrases 
John and Nancy Wilson write:

In November we are going to present a program on Florida Checks, showing one check from cities from A to Z.  While getting background information we found this excellent site for checks on   that shows from A to Z a Dictionary of Banking Terms and Phrases.  E-Sylum readers might like the information and the link for the information is:

Are your books carried by Wizard Coin Supply?
If not, contact us via 
with details.


David Gladfelter offers these additional tips on removing price stickers from books. Thanks!

The ability to successfully remove an unwanted label depends on the label, the adhesive and the material to which it is attached.

Labels are most easily removed where the tensile strength (stretchability) of the label is greater than that of the adhesive, and where the surface to which the label is attached is relatively firm and smooth. Sometimes they can peel right off, most times one has to take it slowly and carefully. Labels on fragile material are best left alone for fear of tearing or damaging the underlying material.

If the surface below the label is impervious (such as hard or soft plastic, coated paper or mylar), you can usually remove sticky or gummy traces from the surface with a small piece of paper towel moistened with a cleaning product called Simple Green. After use, be sure to wipe off the Simple Green, which is a chemical that may react over time, with a water-moistened paper towel.

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:



Removing Price Stickers From Books



Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker of CoinWeek published an article on November 3, 2015 about the mixed and disturbing legacy of one of the best known researchers in American numismatics, Walter Breen.  Here's an excerpt, but be sure to read the complete version online.

Twenty-two years ago, noted numismatist Walter H. Breen died at Chino’s California Institute for Men, part of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. A convicted serial child molester, it’s hard to imagine that Breen’s stay at the facility was ever meant to rehabilitate the man. Instead, that duty seems to have fallen to a very few of his friends and associates in the world of numismatics, a community that benefited tremendously from Breen’s work for over 30 years.

As numismatists, it’s difficult to be “objective” when writing about Breen. We benefit too much from what he did for the hobby, and most of us were not directly affected by the things Breen was accused of doing – and admitted doing – in his private life.

Plus, it evokes in many of us an impulse not to talk about him. Better to leave well enough alone lest it taints the hobby, one might argue. To this day, numismatists–ourselves included–continue to cite Breen’s work in auction catalogs, books, and articles; his sins sequestered from his expertise.

But does this reticence nurture, or possibly inflict, the very harm that some in the hobby worry about?

To an extent, we understand the impulse to keep quiet. Consider this: as a hobby and an industry, we’re actually quite fortunate that the Breen scandal erupted when it did. Had Breen’s crimes come to light in the Internet Age, the hobby as a whole could have been implicated. And not because of some kind of guilt by association (though in some eyes that’s bad enough, and it’s an understandable fear). No, the problem lays in the deference the hobby showed to him, treating Breen like a guru or a numismatic “institution” that was “too big to fail”. The industry could have experienced something like what happened to Pennsylvania State University, when public opinion accused the University and its fans of prioritizing football over the safety and lives of underprivileged children. That scandal didn’t just bring down a child molester, it ended the career–if not the life–of a Hall of Fame football coach and tarnished the reputation of one of the nation’s most prominent public univers

That didn’t happen to coin collecting. Yet the fact remains that by continuing to so closely associate Breen with numismatics, we open ourselves up to the same criticism and contempt.

Silence about his crimes merely reinforces those ties.

We doubt that Jerry Sandusky and his achievements on the gridiron will be reevaluated on the basis of his football IQ, but for Breen, there remains the possibility that his reputation as a preeminent numismatist may be rehabilitated. We don’t say this to be alarmist; we say this because we know people who want to make it so.

But in some ways, it’s curious that Breen still lingers in our hobby. It’s been more than two decades since his last meaningful work was published. Much of what he knew and wrote has been superseded by more recent scholarship, and a number of his claims and theories have been discredited.

Walter Breen himself has no say in the matter. He has no heirs in the coin business. His children, who have accused him of crimes against them, have not lobbied on his behalf. The fact that some of us still do shows that it is we who continue to be drawn to him.

So let’s do what so many of us are loathe to do.

Let’s have that conversation about Walter Breen, the one that’s long overdue. The one we’re so afraid to have because of what we’re afraid it might say about us. The one that by not having it has said more about us than we’d like to admit.

Be sure to read the complete article online - the above is only the preface.   It's very well written and deserving of award consideration next year.

For better or worse I knew Walter Breen in my younger days, corresponded with him on numismatic topics, and met him at various coin conventions and had him autograph his books for me.  I even accepted a ride in his car (as an adult).  Like most I was initially clueless about his non-numismatic reputation, although his other interests gradually became clear. Rumors of his proclivities found their way to me, and as a bibliophile I even once acquired copies of some of his non-numismatic works, including Greek Love.  I never read them or got them signed.

In the days before the Internet made criminal records, trial transcripts and sexual predator lists widely available, separating facts from mere rumors was harder.  But where there's smoke there's often fire, and the CoinWeek writers rightfully question "why Breen continued to thrive as a professional numismatist while at the same time carrying such baggage."

Early in my career I worked at a firm where a married manager was having an affair with a woman on the team he managed.  When I had the opportunity I came out and asked his boss about it.  The affair was an open secret and the boss acknowledged it.  "So why is he still here, I asked?"   I was basically told that his work for the company was deemed more important than the transgression.  And so it was in numismatics, apparently. 

Still, as the writers note,

... there’s no evidence that any one person, group of people or company shielded Breen from the consequences of his actions.  Instead we have anecdotes regarding what many considered Breen’s peculiar behavior, told in earnest but nearly all uncorroborated by documentary evidence.

I had seen no evidence either, only heard the whispers.  And those whispers weren't enough to lead me to shun Breen or call for his banishment. 
Like several in the hobby I could attest to the utility of his numismatic work based on facts and first-hand experience, and thought that deserved acknowledgement on its own merit.

 I'm honestly not sure what I would have done had I known then all that I know now, including the sci-fi episodes, emails from Breen's daughter Moira, and comments such as David Quint's on the CoinWeek article.    As noted earlier in The E-Sylum there were indeed high-profile numismatists such as John Pittman who openly disliked Breen.

In the numismatic world one of my clubs once learned that a regular member had been escorted off the ANA bourse floor for stealing coins.  To his credit, he came to our next meeting in person to tell his story.  He admitted the act and asked for our forgiveness.  We discussed it, but of course could not allow an admitted thief to remain in our presence.  We voted him out and never saw him again.

Also in my younger days I was called to serve on jury duty.  As it turned out, it was a case of a man charged with the same offenses as Breen.  But I didn't have to contend with whispers.  My fellow jurors and I heard testimony directly from those involved, and we discussed all aspects of it.   I gained faith in the jury trial system, because the disparate backgrounds of the people involved ensured that we looked at the evidence from all angles.    Sentencing a man to prison isn't a decision to be taken lightly.  But after hearing the evidence my vote was Guilty.  It was unanimous, on the first round.  But we would also have thrown the mother in jail if we could, for leaving the poor kid in the guy's care.

Hiring, firing, shunning, and banishing are not decisions to be taken lightly or made on the basis of rumors.  We shouldn't be vigilantes, but we must remain vigilant.  God Bless the woman dealer, who upon hearing a young numismatist's mother planning to introduce her son to Breen at a coin show, got in her face and said 
"Don't   you    ever    leave    him    alone    with    THAT    MAN!"   

To read the complete article, see:

Confronting Breen


To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:




2007 FIDEM Sarah Peters Bronze Art Medal, ANA Colorado Springs  

College Currency book by Schingoethe. Brand new, still sealed. $20 shipped


Carl Feldman discusses an intriguing counterstamped half dollar in his Guest Commentary in Coin World, published online November 3, 2015.

I recently acquired an addition to my collection of counterstamped Seated Liberty coins: an engraved 1869 Seated Liberty dollar with the words “Luck for Morse” on the obverse.

This dollar came with a theory that it may have a connection to Samuel F.B. Morse, American painter, inventor, contributor to the invention of a single-wire telegraph system, developer of Morse code, and contributor to the development for the commercial use of telegraphy, including transoceanic.

The 1869 France to United States cable was the first transatlantic cable that would emerge out of the ocean and land directly on United States shores — 25 years after Samuel Morse did his famous 10-mile telegraphy demonstration in the Washington, D.C., in 1844.

This cable had a much faster transmission rate than the two cables working in 1866, which were in turn faster than the initial 1858 cable, which failed after a short period. The 1866 effort had a transmission capability 80 times faster than the original 1858 technology, which took many minutes per individual character.

By 1869, it was possible to transmit several words per minute. For that reason the original groups organized by Cyrus West Field were reported to have opposed the French effort, completed by May 1869. This later effort had the potential to be faster and therefore cheaper than the cables promoted by Field. This was the highest technology of the day, and for both groups of entrepreneurs, the works required the massive British ship Great Eastern, the world’s largest ship for some decades.

The French effort also needed three support vessels — plus the thousands of miles of specially constructed cable of massive weight. There was as subscription of 60,000 shares at a then-typical initial public offering price of $100 per share, which resulted in a $6 million venture.

The stakes were very high. If the cable broke halfway out in a middle ocean storm that tossed the ships around, they might not be able to find the broken ends, over 2 miles below the ocean surface at midpoint.

At this level of financing in 1869 for a venture of this nature, they were relying on a lot of “luck” as to what conditions they would encounter at sea and whether the cable’s technology would work as planned, and with a minimum of surprises.

A dollar was a good day’s pay in 1869, so few people would inscribe words to make a souvenir of one unless it was for some very important reason or occasion. This engraved 1869 Seated Liberty dollar was not otherwise personalized to commemorate some day or event, and gives no indication that it was worn — which would be unexpected with a sea voyage. This dollar was likely a pocket piece, perhaps carried by an official or worker onboard a ship in 1869, and now it is in my collection.

To read the complete article, see:

Could mysterious engraved message on 1869 Seated Liberty dollar honor telegraph?



Numismatic ephemera is not only a neat collectible, but a great source of information. In his November 4, 2015 Stack's Bowers blog post, Frank Van Valen describes  a recent purchase relating to the 1943 steel cent.

A recent trip to one of my favorite internet auction services produced a 1943 steel cent in Mint State. Though it is not a rare item by any stretch of the imagination, the coin I now own is housed in a faintly tattered manila paper envelope which reads: “HERE IS / YOUR NEW / WAR-TIME / PENNY / Obtained for you from / the U.S. Treasury, / Washington, D.C., by / PATHFINDER, several / weeks in advance of / general circulation” on 10 lines in red ink. It is machine signed “E.H.” in fancy script. This is the first one of these I have ever seen in 50+ years of collecting, and I immediately purchased it for well under $10. The leading third-party grading services churn out “First Release” and “Early Release” slabs at every turn whenever a new issue is minted. I can’t help but wonder whether I could get this Mint State 1943 “steelie” in a “First Release” holder from one of the grading services? After all, it is a bona-fide early release!   

I've never seen one of these envelopes before.  By definition, such items are ephemeral in nature - used once for an initial purpose, then quickly discarded by nearly everyone.  How many remain?  Have any of our readers seen one of these before?   Those envelopes are far more rare than the coins they accompany, and could well be far more rare than the famous off-metal versions, the 1943 copper cent or the 1944 steel cent.

So who was E.H.?  And what was PATHFINDER?   Guessing that it might have been a publication, I found an entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica stating that "Time magazine’s immediate forerunner was the Pathfinder (1894–1954), a weekly rewriting of the news for rural readers."

I found several offerings of the magazine on eBay.  Here's an image of a 1944 issue, where the cover touts it as publishing "Every Week From The Nation's Capital".  A column titled "The Week at Home" contains articles headlined "Sugar Supply Cut" and "Fuel Shortage".   All of that ties in with the theme of the Steel Cent envelope, but doesn't prove a connection.  

Perhaps an article or ad could be found in an earlier issue outlining the offer of a new cent for readers.  Or perhaps they were just given away as souvenirs, and there was no documentary evidence.  So we may never know for sure.  But a great piece of numismatic ephemera regardless, and one that should be preserved and documented for future collectors and researchers.

I also reached out to one of our favorite old-timers, Harvey Stack, to see what he remembers.

Harvey Stack writes:

It has been so many years gone back when I encountered
presentation envelopes for the 1943 Cent.  I do not know
if these were privately made. or actually issued by banks or
the Mint to acquaint receivers of the new steel metal used.

I remember seeing small groups of these at one time, and 
they were possibly packaged by the Mint for visitors to pay
1 cent or maybe 5 Cents each as a souvenir.  

I remember seeing similar envelopes (with and without coins
in them) as the Mint introduced the 'silver' nickel, and drew to 
the receiver's attention that these were marked on the reverse
with large letters "P, D or S" designating they had silver in the

I also remember, about that time, and years later, that one would
find small bags of cents, ie Ten Cents, issued by the mint, also
as a souvenir and if I remember correctly they were sold at 10
cents or 20 cents a sack, also at the Mint. 

In 1942 the Mint issued 5 piece and 6 piece Proof sets, and also
sold Cents and Five Cents of each separately, at a very small 
premium to be used in the Lincoln Head Cent Sets and Jefferson
Nickel sets. Also, in 1942 they sold the entire set, in proof, consisting of one cent, both Five cents, a Dime, Quarter, and
Half Dollar  (the Five Cent, Dime, Quarter and Half Dollar were
SILVER) for $2.10.  (a small premium above face !!!)

Today, the Mint is much more profitable, they sell All their products
at substantial high premiums, most are  mounted in special cards,
boxes and booklets, to make them look rare and desirable and
the profit they make is many times face value.

So in the earlier days, the Mint made inexpensive Souvenirs; today
they are more in the market for promotional items at the cost of the

To read the complete article, see:

A First-Release 1943 Steel Cent


To read the Encyclopedia Britannica article, see:

Pathfinder : American magazine


To read the complete eBay lot description, see:

Pathfinder News Magazine, Every Week From The Nations Capitol, March 6,1944



Newspapers are said to be "the first draft of history", and I think that's very true.  It's one reason I enjoy highlighting excerpts from local newspaper articles featuring coin designers.  Here we are read their own words about the inspiration and thinking behind their designs.

This article from the Olean Times Herald of Olean, NY features Barbara Fox, designer of the new Saratoga National Historical Park quarter.  The article does not include a picture of Fox or her designs, but I'm added an image from the U.S. Mint web site.

One of artist Barbara Fox’s recent designs turned out to be right on the money — literally.

The Ellicottville-based artist will be recognized later this month when the United States Mint hosts its newest America the Beautiful Quarter Launch and Coin Exchange in Schuylerville. The event marks the official release of the Saratoga National Historical Park quarter, which was designed by Fox.

The quarter illustrates the October 1777 surrender at Saratoga of British Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne to Gen. Horatio Gates of the American Continental Army. The design is a representation of the British officer handing his sword to the American general.

The British surrender was a pivotal moment in the Revolutionary War. “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne had attempted to secure the Hudson River valley and link up with British forces in New York City, thereby isolating New England from the rest of the American colonies to the south. Meanwhile, the outcome of the campaign convinced the French to openly and actively help the Continentals in their war for independence.

The coin is the 17th coin or medal designed by Fox for the U.S. Mint, as well as her third quarter design. She designed America the Beautiful quarters for Montana’s Glacier National Park in 2011 and Maine’s Acadia National Park in 2012.

Fox visited Saratoga National Historical Park to take photographs and draw inspiration, and conceived the design after watching a movie in the park’s museum which included a recreation of the surrender scene.

“Designing for such a tiny round ‘canvas’ is a complicated assignment,” Fox said, “and I wanted the image to be beautiful and readily understandable. I chose an extreme close-up because it made the hands and the sword the center of attention.”

The design was checked for historical accuracy (down to the embroidery and engraved buttons) by historians at both the Smithsonian Institution and Saratoga National Historical Park. Also included in the design is the inscription “British Surrender 1777.”

The coin was sculpted by U.S. Mint sculptor-engraver Renata Gordon.

The quarter launch and coin exchange for the Saratoga quarter is set for Nov. 16 at Schuylerville High School; a coin forum in regard to the new quarter release will be at the Saratoga Town Hall in Schuylerville.

The America the Beautiful Quarters Program will release a total of 56 quarters between 2010 and 2021 depicting locations around the U.S. that are notable for their natural beauty or historical significance.

Fox works as a fine artist and illustrator from her Mill Street studio in Ellicottville. Her paintings have been featured in solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries throughout the U.S., and she teaches her watercolor painting technique in classes and workshops around the country. She is working on new oil paintings for a solo exhibition in 2016.

The November 17th launch ceremony organizers have invited U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.  Will they appear?   Regardless, these ceremonies are a big deal, generally well attended, and look like fun.   I encourage readers in the U.S. to follow the announcements and attend one in their area.

To read the complete article, see:

State and Union: U.S. Mint quarter designed by Ellicottville artist



Local dealer Jerry Schmidt was featured in this November 1, 2015 article from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Coins connect us to the past, Jerry Schmidt said. They are, literally, pieces of history.

“It’s amazing to think that you can hold a coin in your hand and realize that Jesus Christ might have held this widow’s mite in his hand,” Schmidt said.

The mite, a small bronze coin in circulation in Jerusalem more than 2,000 years ago, is just one example of the many historic coins Schmidt has handled in his decades as a coin collector and dealer.

Schmidt, 84, was saluted with a retirement cake Sunday during the Richmond Coin Club’s annual fall coin and currency show at the Clarion Hotel on North Boulevard. Schmidt said the show — which drew about 40 dealers and 700 prospective customers — may be his last show as a dealer, though he left open the possibility that he may return as he liquidates his inventory of thousands of coins.

Schmidt’s involvement with coins has been a lifelong fascination — starting when he had a paper route as a boy and studied the pennies he got when he collected payment from his customers.

A Thomas Jefferson High School graduate, Schmidt went into the Air Force in 1950 and became an intelligence officer. “I was a Chinese linguist,” he said. “The Air Force sent me to Yale to learn the language.”

He spent time in Korea, China, Japan, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Though he never got a college degree, he studied at the University of Omaha, Virginia Commonwealth University, American University and the University of Alexandria in Egypt.

During his travels with the Air Force, Schmidt was on the lookout for coins. In 1962, he said, he came upon a Japanese collector who had a hoard of more than 2,000 13th-century Asian coins.

“I bought them all from him,” Schmidt said. “I paid him $700. That was a lot of money back then for me on my Air Force pay.” He said the moment he bought that trove of coins was when he became a dealer.

Schmidt retired from the Air Force in 1970 after 20 years, came home to Richmond and opened the Imperial Coin Shop. The business took its name from its location in the Imperial Building on the corner of North Fifth Street and East Franklin Street. “I just adopted the name,” he said, “and, besides, I had a lot of Imperial Chinese coins.”

In 1993, having outgrown his downtown shop, he bought land and built a store at 8801 Patterson Ave. He maintained his shop there until 2007 and, since then, has done much of his work as a dealer at coin shows. He has been a fixture at the Richmond club’s two annual events and until recently traveled frequently to shows across the U.S. and around the world.

To read the complete article, see:

Local coin connoisseur still circulating but nearing retirement


High quality 

coin supplies & other numismatic accessories. Use coupon "coinbooks10" for an instant 10% OFF discount!


John Lupia submitted the following information for this week's installment of his series on numismatic biographies. Thanks!  

He's been working for years researching 18th century American numismatists and dealers, and has uncovered quite a bit of information that pushes back our knowledge of this area by over a century.  His book will be titled  Numismatic Collecting in 18th Century America.

This week's subject is James Rivington - colonial printer, bookseller, patriot, spy, and coin dealer.

James Rivington (1724-1802), was born the son of Charles Rivington (1688-1742) and Eleanor Pease (d. 1753), at Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England. He was a member of a family of booksellers at St. Paul’s Church-Yard, London, which did business there for over a century. From the mid 1750’s he was a notorious bookseller known for undercutting his competitors by purchasing bootleg copies from country printers of popular titles. 

In order to steal away other English bookseller’s customers he advertised in America to sell at a 16 percent discount and a year’s credit. His large volume shop acted as a clearinghouse moving more stock than all of his competitors combined. After going bankrupt from gambling losses at the Newmarket races in 1758, he immigrated to New York in 1759, and opened a bookshop at Hanover Square with Samuel Brown, corner of Market and Front Streets, trading as Rivington & Brown. This is the same place that two years previous the earliest documented American coin auction had taken place by William Proctor (q.v.). 

The following year, 1760, he moved to Philadelphia to set up shop leaving the New York shop in the hands of his partner Brown. He returned to New York in 1762 and sold many articles besides books including art, curiosities and medals of King George and Queen Charlotte as advertised in the Pennsylvania Gazette, Thursday, April 22, 1762, page 4. Consequently, Rivington together with Peter McTaggart (q.v.), John Green and Joseph Russell trading as Green & Russell (q.v.), and Edmond Milne (q.v.) are among the earliest known coin dealers in America. 

Nevertheless, he opened a third bookstore at Boston with a new partner. After twelve years at New York he entered the newspaper industry and began to publish on April 22, 1773, The New York Gazetteer or the Connecticut, New Jersey, Hudson's River, and Quebec Weekly Advertiser (1773-1775). 

Though he averred to be a free “open and uninfluenced press” by November 1774 he was labeled as being a Loyalist. At that time he boasted of a circulation of 3,600 throughout the colonies. No patriot knew that in 1775 he was one of the very first agents in the secret service to the newly appointed General George Washington. Rivington suffered severe public, social and financial losses to keep up the appearance of being a Loyalist in order to be a convincing spy for the Revolutionary War's Continental Army.

He was believed to be a Tory sympathizer throughout the Revolutionary War, which lead New Jersey patriots at New Brunswick to hang him in effigy. Rivington had a woodcut engraved depicting that event and printed it in his paper with condemnatory words to suit.

“In consequence of his repeated attacks upon the Sons of Liberty, and especially Captain Isaac Sears, that officer came to New York from Connecticut with seventy-five horsemen, and, entering Rivington's office, destroyed his press and converted the types into bullets. Rivington's conduct was examined by the Provincial Congress, which referred the case to the Continental Congress, and while the latter was considering it the publisher wrote a remonstrance declaring, "that however wrong and mistaken he may have been in his opinions, he has always meant honestly and openly to do his duty as a servant of the public." 

He then made his peace with the Whigs, and was permitted to return to his house, but having incurred suspicion he afterward went to England, where he was appointed king's printer for New York. In 1777, after the British occupation of that city, he returned with a new press, and resumed the publication of his paper under the title of Rivington's New York Loyal Gazette, which he changed on 13 December, 1777, to The Royal Gazette. 

On the day when Major John André was taken prisoner his "Cow Chase" was published by Rivington. About 1781, when the success of the British was becoming doubtful, Rivington played the part of a spy, furnishing Washington with important information. His communications were written on thin paper, bound in the covers of books, and conveyed to the American camp by agents that were ignorant of their service. When New York was evacuated, Rivington remained in the city, much to the general surprise, removed the royal arms from his paper, and changed its title to Rivington's New York Gazette and Universal Advertiser. But his business rapidly declined, his paper ceased to exist in 1783, and he passed the remainder of his life in comparative poverty.”

And so it was believed by the biographer of Appleton's Cyclopedia. However, Rivington was merely changing professions from a newspaper publisher back to being a bookseller, who, also sold coins like he did twenty years earlier; the basis of the model in the line of selling curiosities, art and coins in what has come to be known in the United States as the classic Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe, which has enjoyed great popularity in America through these last two centuries.

His advertisement published in the late fall of 1782 reads : “To the Curious, For Sale, A Number of Foreign Coins, Gold, Silver, and Copper, many of them Ancient. – Enquire of the Printer.” Royal Gazette, Saturday, November 2, 1782, page 3, column 3.
It was during the end of The Royal Gazette newspaper (1777-1783) that he published his own advertisement for the sale of these coins. The anti-royalists called his paper the “Lying Gazette.” Rivington’s newspaper had suffered from his believed to be political affiliations and so he turned to coin dealing by the late fall of 1782. He ceased publishing about a year later on December 31, 1783. 

His first marriage in 1752 to Elizabeth Mynshull (1752-1769), bore him three sons : James Rivington, Jr. (1769-1809), Henry Rivington (1770-?), and John Rivington (1772-1795), who became Maj. John Rivington. A decade after the death of his first wife he remarried on March 9, 1779, to Elizabeth Van Horne (Van Hooren) (d.1795), who bore him two sons and two daughters. This is attested to by the 1790 U. S. Census, which reported that he lived in the East Ward, New York City, New York, and had three sons at least sixteen years of age and two under, a wife and two daughters and eight slaves. He, like Thomas Jefferson died on the 4th of July, except in the year 1802 at New York City, New York.

To read the complete article, see:



To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:

PETER MCTAGGART (1732-1825+)




EDMOND MILNE (1724-1822)



David Finkelstein submitted this article about the first U.S. Mint Director, David Rittenhouse. Thanks!  It's the third in an ongoing series.  Look for more in subsequent issues.

Dr. David Rittenhouse – Part 3 
By David Finkelstein

This is part 3 of a series of articles about Dr. David Rittenhouse, the first Director of the
United States Mint. Over the last few decades, multiple incorrect statements and
theories about events during his lifetime and after his death have been published in
numerous numismatic articles and publications. In Parts 1 and 2, it was stated that a
few researchers theorized that David Rittenhouse was incarcerated in the Pruan Street
(or Prune Street) debtor’s prison during 1796, 1797 and 1798, and that he, in fact, did
not die in 1796. His June 26th death, June 27th burial, and December 17th Eulogium was
suggested to have been a massive cover up to maintain the integrity of his image and to
protect his reputation.

One conspiracy theorist has published, in writing, that:

Dr. Benjamin Rush and William Barton were the perpetrators that falsely
announced and covered up David Rittenhouse’s death, and

Dr. Benjamin Rush used his position as Vice President of the American
Philosophical Society (APS) to facilitate the cover up.

These falsities have been perpetuated simply because they were put in print, without
any contemporary evidence to validate them. They have become accepted as being
factual. They are not.

Falsity #3 – Dr. Benjamin Rush & William Barton covered up Rittenhouse’s death
In order for David Rittenhouse’s death to have been a massive cover up, one or more
people had to have covered up his death. Dr. Benjamin Rush and William Barton were
falsely targeted as the perpetrators.

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