The E-Sylum v18#39 September 27, 2015

The E-Sylum esylum at
Sun Sep 27 18:57:10 PDT 2015

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

Volume 18, Number 39, September 27, 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:
Carlos G.  Vertanessian.
Welcome aboard!
We now have 1,881 subscribers.

This week we open with notes from literature dealers Sklow, Lake, Brown and Fanning, one new book and one review.  Next up is news from the Newman Numismatic Portal project and a new numismatist biography from John Lupia.

Other topics include Presidential Campaign Medals, the Coins of the Golden West set, counterfeit California fractional gold, U.S. Trade Dollars, Johns Hopkins medals and Moreau de St. Méry’s American Journey.

To learn more about the Orpheus medal, Palembang coins, George Thomas McCombe, Jr., Gustav Kobbé, Albion Cox, M.E. Hart, Serovpe Alishan, the Yocum dollar, 19th century New Jersey banknotes, and Artificial Limb medals, read on.   Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Editor, The E-Sylum


David Sklow sends this reminder of his upcoming Mail Bid Sale # 26.  Get your bids in!

Numismatic Literature Mail Bid Sale # 26 closes in just two short weeks, Saturday October 10th at 8PM Mountain Time. Be sure to send your bids in early so you won't miss anything you really wanted.

Bidding is via Email, Telephone, Fax and USPS. The catalog is always available to view or download at our web site. 
David Sklow - Fine Numismatic Books
P.O. Box 6321
Colorado Springs, CO 80934
Fax: 719-302-4933


numismaticbooks at



Fred Lake forwarded this announcement of his upcoming 123rd mail bid sale.  Thanks.  Happy bidding, everyone!

Lake Books is announcing that its 123rd  mail-bid sale of numismatic literature is now available for viewing on their web site at  in either MS Word or PDF. The 481-lot sale closes on Tuesday, October 27, 2015 at 5:00 PM (EDT) and features selections from the libraries of John Tidwell and Dr. David E. Litrenta and has many fine reference books in not only United States coinage, but also Ancient and Foreign material. You will also note the excellent bindings such as a “one-of-a-kind” rendition of the first ten volumes of the John Reich Collectors Society “Journal” in red leather. A scarce group of four Early American convention sales with added photographic plates will also generate much interest. Bidders will also find wonderfully bound books in the fields of Paper Money, Tokens and Medals, and Exonumia. Bids may be placed via email, telephone, US Mail, or fax until the closing time.

Good luck with your bidding !     Fred

Lake Books
6822 22nd Ave N
St. Petersburg, FL 33710-3918
727-343-8055   fax: 727-381-6822


Numismatic literature dealer Bryce Brown is planning mail bid auctions for next year.   He sent this announcement.  Thanks, and good luck!

BRYCE BROWN NUMISMATIC LITERATURE is seeking consignments of numismatic literature for three mail bid auctions scheduled for 2016.  To discuss details, or to simply join our mailing list, contact Bryce at 

numismatics at


David Fanning of Kolbe & Fanning Booksellers writes:

We still require several printed copies of our most recent sale (Sale 139, August 22). Anyone sending us a copy will receive $10 cash or $15 in store credit (your choice). Catalogues must be received by us in new condition in the next two weeks. Thanks!

David can be reached via email at

df at
.  Further contact information may be found at the firm's web site:

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:




Author Frank Robinson forwarded this press release about his new book on the coins of Palembang. Thanks. 

At last there is a comprehensive catalog of the coins of Palembang.

This sultanate on the Island of Sumatra (Dutch East Indies, today's Indonesia) issued coins until 1821; nearly all lead-tin, uniface, mostly inscribed in Arabic. Previous references gave them only sketchy (and inaccurate) coverage, with two nineteenth century works each illustrating fewer than 30 varieties. 

Now Frank S. Robinson has compiled a little book, with background information, properly cataloging 291 distinct numbered varieties, all with clear enlarged photographs, plus rarity ratings on a ten-point scale. The work is the culmination of a project intensively analyzing 35,000 Palembang coins. 

Copies can be purchased from Robinson for just $4.99 postpaid (foreign $6.50; Paypal or credit cards add 50c). Contact him at Box 8600, Albany, NY 12208; 518-482-2639; 

frank at; website

Robinson, a former New York State administrative law judge, is a longtime dealer in ancient and world coins, and author of seven previous books including Confessions of a Numismatic Fanatic, and The Case for Rational Optimism.

Browse and Shop Approximately 3,000 Numismatic Books from the Respected Library of John Huffman—All Books Recently Discounted 40%.    Click here or go to
click on “All Subjects” and select “John Huffman Collection”


Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing writes:

Apparently it’s “Whitman Publishing Week” at the Wall Street Journal. Ron Guth’s newest book, 100 Greatest Women on Coins, was featured in an article (“Golden Girls: Women on Coins”) by Alexandra Wolfe on Thursday,  and then on Friday Don and Lois Bailey’s Whitman Encyclopedia of Mexican Money was mentioned in Anne Kadet’s feature on the American Numismatic Society, “Follow the Money—To a Museum in NYC”:

Cool.  Here's the 100 Women piece.  See the article online to view all the images.

The U.S. Treasury recently announced that a woman will replace Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill in 2020. A woman—Martha Washington—last appeared on American paper money more than a century ago. Meanwhile, a new book, “The 100 Greatest Women on Coins” (Whitman Publishing, $29.95), showcases coins with female faces, starting with a bust of Athena on a silver tetradrachm of Athens (454-404 B.C.). The earliest coins usually represented goddesses. More recent subjects include Helen Keller, who appeared on a special Alabama state quarter. For the new $10 bill, the book’s author, Ron Guth, would choose Harriet Tubman. “She actually risked her life to help end slavery,” he says. “I like the idea of honoring a doer.”

..and here's an excerpt from the piece on Money Museums.

Every city has its beloved art museums, venerable historical societies and treasured libraries. But how many towns offer multiple exhibits for folks who want to gawk at money? There’s no place like New York.

Those with more refined sensibilities may not understand, but some of us just love money, period. My favorite possession may be my giant bowl of coins. It’s far more beautiful and interesting than anything it could buy.

Happily, for the cash obsessed, there are several local spots where one can see a lot more dough than what’s in one’s wallet, starting with the Museum of American Finance, a 26-year-old institution largely funded by Wall Street firms and wealthy donors.

A trip to the museum, housed in a lovely old bank building on Wall Street, starts with a big currency exhibit—three walls plastered with cash! Dedicated to American moolah, the display even includes a beaver pelt and a 2007 ViVOpay 4500 credit card reader.

For coin buffs, there’s the American Numismatic Society on Varick Street, also in lower Manhattan. The Society maintains an internationally known collection of more than 800,000 coins and medals, and a library of 100,000-plus holdings, including the Whitman Encyclopedia of Mexican Money Volume II, copies of Money Trend dating to 1971 and the promotional brochure “Disneyland Minnie Money is here.”

The Society’s current exhibit includes a display of iron African tribal currency in the shape of, among other items, a life-size spear and a hoe. Imagine stabbing enemies and planting turnips with your money.

To read the complete articles, see:

Golden Girls: Women on Coins


Follow the Money—to a Museum in NYC



Gawain O'Connor submitted this review of a book he recently discovered which should hold interest for anyone curious about the use of coins and money in early America.  Thanks!

Between my office and the nearest coffee house is a bookstore where they often place books on the sidewalk for free (easy to get, or cheap on Amazon, etc.) I have often succumbed to the temptation to carry some home to read. I finally got around to one I picked up about a year ago - Moreau de St. Méry’s American Journey 1793-1798, translated and edited by Kenneth Roberts and Anna M. Roberts, Doubleday and Company, Inc., Garden City, NY, 1947.

Médéric Louis Élie Moreau de Saint-Méry (1750–1819), a Creole colonist born in Martinique, was best known for his publications on that island as well as Saint Domingue. During his stay in the United States he was a bookseller and printer and the first to sell condoms. His diary includes prices for everyday items and a brief description of the Philadelphia mint in 1795:

The Mint

There is one of these in Philadelphia, but it is not busy, because the chief money is piaster gourdes. There are still only a very few eagles worth ten gourdes, half eagles worth only five, and quarter eagles worth only two and a half. Thus the Mint, as one might say, is merely a curiosity. [pp. 358-9]

But what I found most fascinating was the translator’s (Anna M. Roberts) footnote on that page:

A piaster gourde was a San Domingan coin worth one dollar. A writer once advanced the theory that the word “shin-plaster” came from the habit, in colonial days, of protecting the legs from the heat of open fires by wrapping the shins with Continental bills. Actually “plaster” came from “piaster”; “shin” came from “chien”: dog money.

I had never heard that etymology before – shinplaster = dog money. Is it attested in any coin books?

There are some other gems in the book. C4 members might like this one:

Hackensack ferry

Ordinary travelers (and those not riding in the stage) pay when they leave the second ferry. The fare is one forty-fifth of a dollar per person, two sous, one thirtieth for a horse, three sous.

Here we have seen paid for the same cabriolet, two horses and three men, five sixteenths of a dollar, three sous. Here, too, we were witnesses of a remarkable scene between a passenger and the woman who collected the fares, who was young, pretty and had an expression of angelic sweetness. Having been given in payment one of those copper half-sous coined by the state of Jersey, she refused it obstinately and became furious, declaring with the most expressive words, that she didn’t give a hoot for the Assembly of New Jersey, whose members were no better than she and couldn’t make her take the money.  [p. 117]

Here are prices for the principal things:

Milk (which is abundant) costs 1/16 of a dollar a pint.

Cider costs 1/16 of a dollar a pint.

A pound of meat 1/10 of a dollar a pound if one picks it out, 1/16 of a dollar not selected.

Mutton ¾ of a dollar for a hindquarter.

Veal is scarce, and costs 1/12 of a dollar a pound.

A suckling pig ½ dollar.

Eggs from ⅛ of a dollar to 3/16 for a dozen.

Green peas ⅛ of a dollar a bushel.

Butter 3/16 of a dollar the pound or ¼ of a dollar.

Vinegar 1/16 of a dollar the pint.

Potatoes ½ dollar a bushel, down to 5/32.

Sweet potatoes from a dollar a bushel down to 3/16 of a dollar.

Lard 1/6 of a dollar a pound.

French bread 1/16 of a dollar for 10 American ounces.

Candles, 5 pounds for a dollar.

Men’s shoes, 2 dollars a pair.

Short boots, 5 dollars a pair.

Boots 7 dollars a pair; with double vamps 8 dollars.

A workman by the day, in 1792, ½ dollar; at the end of 1792, 9/16 of a dollar; in 1793, 5/8 of a dollar, then 11/16; in June, 1794, ¾ of a dollar.

Between 1792 and 1794 a workman’s pay went from 1 dollar to 5/4 of a dollar. [$1.25]

A sailor 1 dollar and ¾ a day.

People paid by the day worked from six in the morning to eight; from nine to noon and from two to six. [9 hours]

and so on… [starting p. 157]

I wasn't aware of this book, and it seems like a marvelous find for numismatists.  Of course, there are untold documents and accounts available in archives and elsewhere that may never have been consulted by numismatic researchers, or at least not reviewed by anyone in decades.  All are worth a fresh look.  Many thanks to Gawain for bringing this to our attention.


Project Coordinator Len Augsburger submitted this report on the latest efforts in digitization by the Newman Numismatic Portal project at Washington University in St. Louis.  Thanks!  

Newman Numismatic Portal Scans 14,000 Pages in August

The Newman Numismatic Portal (NNP) continues to digitize numismatic literature and has processed 367 documents to date.  These documents are available at  

The latest addition is a group of 50 U.S. Mint Reports loaned by Bill Burd, which brings the total on the Portal to over a hundred Mint Reports.  Paul Hybert has loaned an early report for the year 1804 [image of front cover shown here] that will be posted shortly.  

Also available is a substantial collection of Heath Counterfeit Detectors (the basis for Eric Newman’s 1991 article on the subject), in addition to a number of mid-19th century bank note reporters.  The Portal is currently organizing material from Eric Newman’s personal archives and will be making some exciting announcements in the near future. 

 In addition, several specialty clubs have granted permission to scan and present their back journals, and announcements will be made as these come online.  As reported in The  E-Sylum on September 6, 2015, the Gobrecht Journal is one such publication already available through NNP.  

While scanned material is currently stored and hosted on Internet Archive ( link above), the Portal itself will be open in 2016 and will incorporate additional numismatic content already in electronic form.  Individuals or organizations willing to share content with NNP should contact Len Augsburger, NNP Project Coordinator, at 

leonard.augsburger at

Dave Ginsburg adds:

At first I wasn’t that impressed with the idea of the NNP digitizing the Mint Annual Reports, since they’re available elsewhere on the Internet.  Okay, so the quality isn’t always perfect and sometimes it’s hard to find a specific year, but at least they’re there.

And, then. . . 

When I actually looked at the site, I was completely blown away.  Obviously technology has moved forward!  The NNP copies of the Mint reports are easy to find, easy to page through and easy to download.  I can hear the cursing from every used book dealer and anyone who’s buying physical copies of the Mint Reports.  The huge 1896 Mint Report seems to be complete, the modern Mint Reports are here and I can hardly wait for the reports from the 1830s.

The NNP is astonishing – there’s no other way to put it.

What an amazing gift to the numismatic community!

Thanks, Dave.  The Internet Archive has been digitizing content for decades now, and the state of the art has definitely improved.   We also knew there would be value in gathering content under a single access point.  Things should get even easier once the main web site development is fully complete, adding features such as full-text search, grouping, tagging and a menu-based organization to provide an orderly view into each area and sub-area of the site.  The Internet Archive portion of NNP is the back-end document "warehouse"; the web site will be the front-end "retail store" where users will probably do most of their shopping for numismatic information.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:



The colorful and exciting new coffee-table book 100 Greatest Women on Coins is the perfect way to introduce your girlfriend, wife, daughter, granddaughter, or friends to the hobby. Makes a great holiday gift, too. Get yours today for $29.95
 or call 800-546-2995.


John Lupia submitted the following information from his Encyclopedic Dictionary of Numismatic Biographies‎ for this week's installment of his series. Thanks. As always, this is an excerpt with the full article, bibliography and more images available online. This week's subject is George Thomas McCombe, Jr.

George Thomas McCombe, Jr. (1856-19??), was born at Lockport, New York, on May 1, 1856, the son of George McCombe (1806?-1881), an architect, carpenter and builder, and Mary Ann McCombe (-1881). He was educated at Lockport High School. He had two brothers William E. Mc Combe, cashier at the National Exchange Bank, Lockport, New York, and Frederick J. Mc Combe, a wholesale grocer at Denver, Colorado.

        There are many pieces of mail between George T. McCombe and the Chapman Brothers. This article uses a few of them in order to illustrate salient points for his biographical sketch.

>From a letter mailed to the Chapman Brothers on his office stationery we know he worked at the National Exchange Bank at Lockport in the 1880’s gaining him access to a wide variety of coins he handpicked at face value to build up stock as a coin dealer. According to his biographical sketch published in 1897 he entered the National Exchange Bank at Lockport at an early age serving four years as a clerk and eight as bookkeeper. Afterwards he was the paying and receiving teller at Niagara County National Bank, Lockport, N. Y., serving in that capacity for another eight years. Sometime later he travelled to Europe, Asia, Africa, Egypt, Syria, the Holy Land, and around America, returning home in 1892. 

ABOVE: Letter sent by McCombe on his own letterhead and business envelope to the Chapman Brothers to purchase coins postmarked October 29, 8 P. M., 1881, Lockport, New York. He had illustrated printed business envelopes showing the Bust Type introduced in 1796 found on the half-dime, dime, quarter, half-dollar, and dollar, but the design of the reverse device is closer to that of 1794-1795 Flowing Hair Type coinage. Courtesy of the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Archive.

In a notice published by Ed Frossard in the March 1881 issue of Numisma we read : 

“Catalogue of United States Silver and Copper Coins for sale by G. T. McCombe, Lockport, N. Y.; 1881. Price 10 cts.—Mr McCombe is in the field as a coin buyer and seller, and his list will be found to cover the entire field of the scarce regular mint issues and Colonial Coins.”

In the September and November 1881 issues of Numisma he ran two ads on the front page. The first advertising “Monthly Catalogues, giving buying and selling prices, free.” Here we find his previous marketing strategy of 10 cents an issue is now changed to a free monthly catalogue. The second advertisement claims to pay the highest prices to collectors wishing to sell their duplicates in U. S. dollars, halves, quarters, dimes, half dimes, and cents.

His earliest known address is 79 Walnut Street, Lockport, Niagara County, New York. He moved in 1883 to 51 Main Street, Lockport, NY.  In 1898, his address is 367 High Street, Lockport, N.Y.

His interest as a coin dealer seems to have faded about 1884 when he took up an interest in the hay industry while still very active as a banker. Eventually he resigns his banking career in 1892 devoting himself to the hay industry and as a business entrepreneur. His coin dealership most probable lasted from 1880 to 1884, but continued buying coins as a private collector.

A notice published in the New York Times reported that his house was robbed on September 2, 1888, described as one of the wealthiest homes in Lockport, the capital of Niagara County, not far from Lake Ontario and the Canadian border.

McCombe seems to fade out of sight, and so far the date of his death has not been discovered.

Any further information on McCombe would be appreciated.   Does an obituary exist somewhere?

To read the complete article, see:

George Thomas McCombe, Jr.



Dick Johnson submitted these thoughts on the utility of obituaries in numismatic research.  Thanks!

There are three times in a person's life that their name appears "in the paper" -- when they are born, when they marry, and when they die. Death notices, obituaries, are important. That fact came to mind when I read the article in last week's E-Sylum where editor Wayne Homren mentioned obituaries use in numismatics.

When I was most active researching biographies of prominent – and not so prominent –  artists of coins and medals. I recognized this is a special field of research. I took a course in genealogy at the local community college to learn how to do biographical research.

The members of the class, mostly grandmothers searching their own family history, were so enthralled with this activity they didn’t want to stop when the course ended. Myself as well. We formed a genealogy club to meet every month.

We had speakers, went on field trips, and exchanged tips among club members. I learned a lot. I learned sources, reference works, and how best to work in archives. I learned how to verify and cite the data uncovered in this research. 

This was ideal for my researching biographies of engravers, diesinkers and sculptors, the artists who created coins and medals. I also learned how important individual obituaries were.

The New York Times was useful for more famous artists and there is a two-volume index to all obituaries in this newspaper for 150 years. But for artists who never reached that level of fame I had to search local newspapers.

Newspapers and City Directories were the most useful for my pursuit. Here is where I encountered microfilm where both sources are preserved. If you don’t like staring at a microfilm screen for hours at a time you can’t be a researcher.

I learned that obits in early newspapers were little more than the name of the deceased, with a few lines of type. They lacked the career data I was seeking. I was fortunate when an obit listed the year the deceased was born.

The date of their death, however, was more important as it fixed the end of an artist’s working life. Any coin or medal issued after that date was either a restrike or reissue. I gathered as much biographical data I felt was important to an artist’s connection to his coin and medal creations.

It is this data that has been brought together and now published in book form as Who’s Who Among American Medallists. Medallists here means all forms of die-struck numismatic items. Most all American artists of coins made medals as well. The technology is the same, except medals don’t have a denotation. 

Even with the most arduous research I wasn’t able to learn as much as I wanted for all 4,137 artists listed in the book. It does underscore, however, the importance of obituaries as Wayne Homren mentioned last week.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:




 The Eagle As a Denomination 
Steve D'Ippolito writes:

"Eagle" was at least an official name (not an "semi-official nickname" as you claim) for the ten dollar gold piece, as it called such in the act of 1792 that established federal coinage.  To be sure, it never actually appeared on the coin, but the name did have fully official standing.  "Nickel," "Trime," and yes, even "penny" might be better described as "semi-official nickname[s]," since I believe that the US Mint has used all three terms, but they don't, as far as I know, appear in law.  I'm unsure about "union" for the (hypothetical) hundred dollar coin, there were fifty dollar patterns referred to as half-unions but I don't know how "official" that name was.

Of course all this got tossed into a cocked hat when someone decided all of the bullion coins that were issued beginning in 1986 would be called "eagles" regardless of composition, weight, or nominal denomination.  (I have no idea regarding the legal standing of that (ab)use of the name "eagle," either.)

Steve's correct.  The Eagle was indeed the official name of the denomination. And I don't know what to make of the bullion "Eagles", either.  There should be an asterisk after that one.  Marketers are much for being sticklers for the appropriate legal designations.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:



 Puppets in Numismatics 
Bill Rosenblum writes:

Another fascinating issue as usual. I'm going to have to give up my day job so I can catch up on the back issues of The E-Sylum.

I can't think of any puppets on coins although I'm sure there must be some on medals. However if you expand the meaning of puppets a bit there are a number of examples. The one that comes to mind first is the 5 Franc 1941 coin of Vichy France depicting the head of Marshall Petain. And during the same era numerous coins and banknotes issued in China and Korea were issued by puppet banks of the Japanese.

I had a feeling puppet governments would get drawn into this.  It didn't take long!

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

SOME RECENT COIN DESIGNS: SEPTEMBER 20, 2015 : Ukraine Coin on Ivan Karpenko-Karyi


 More on the Mayoralty of London Medal 

Jeff Starck  of Coin World writes:

Regarding the Sept. 13 E-Sylum report about the Mayoralty of London medal: 
Eimer does not answer who engraved it (just states “BY A. Kirkwood & Son”) but does explain that it is part of a series of medals issued by the Corporation of the City of London “celebrating occasions such as the openings of buildings and the reception of British and foreign royalty in the city.” 

An index records 30 different medals for 27 different subjects, including London Bridge, Tower Bridge and Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

SELECTIONS FROM THE RICHARD COOPER COLLECTION SALE : Lot 429: Mayoralty of the City of London, 700th Anniversary Medal


 Query: Information on L V Larsen Sought 
David Pickup writes:

Has anyone ever heard of L V Larsen of Coshocton, Ohio? I just got a 1972 Glendinings catalogue of his English Silver Coins and library.

Can anyone help?  Who was L V Larsen?  Was he prominent in U.S. numismatic circles?

 New Haven Colony Historical Society 
Jonque Mayle writes:

I see that someone is looking for information on New Haven obituaries.  If this is New Haven, CT, contact the research library at the New Haven Colony Historical Society.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:



 Nummis Nova dinner September 2015 

Gene Brandenburg forwarded this photo he took of the September 2015 Nummis Nova dinner at Clyde's of Tyson's Corner.  It was a cozy room with nice artwork on the walls.  We really enjoyed it.  That's Jon Radel and Julian Leidman at the left.  Others facing the camera from left to right are Howard's guest Hung Vinh Nguyen, Eric Schena, Dave Schenkman (obscured), Chris Neuzil, Joe Levine and Roger Burdette.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:




Dave Hirt writes:

On Thursday Emi and I went to a few yard sales. At one there was a pile of books on a table. I noticed one that looked old. It was Scribners
Magazine of Sept 1888. There were 20 some pages of interesting ads at the rear. I decided to look through it to see if there was anything numismatic. To my great surprise, I found a twelve-page, well-written and very well illustrated article on Presidential Campaign Medals.

 In the text Robert Hewitt, who was  a prominent 19th century medal and token collector, is mentioned, so probably the illustrations came from his cabinet. The author of this article was Gustav Kobbé. I know and have read quite a bit on 19th century numismatics, but  this is the first time I have seen that name. Do any of our readers know more of this person, or have this publication in their libraries? 

In the margin of the page telling of the campaign of 1841, someone had handwritten an old rhyme from those times:

                                                      "Maine went hell bent
                                                       For Governor Kent
                                                       And Tippecanoe & Tyler too"

Another nice numismatic literature find (see Gawain O'Conner's piece on the Moreau de St. Méry book earlier in this issue).   
A web search found that this article was noted once before in numismatic literature, specifically the September 1888 issue of the American Journal of Numismatics.

I was also able to find a copy of the Kobbé article online, and here are a couple illustrations.  But can anyone tell us more about Gustave Kobbé?
Wikipedia has a Gustav Kobbé (1857-1918), "an American music critic and author, best known for his guide to the operas, The Complete Opera Book".  The article says Kobbé was a frequent contributor to the leading American magazines of his day, including The Century Magazine and Scribner's Magazine.

To read the complete article, see:


To read the complete Wikipedia article, see:

Gustav Kobbé



Every so many years another story about the phantom Yocum Silver Dollar pops up.  Here's an article from the News Hub (where anybody can post anything).

Silver has been in the shadows of another precious metal, gold. Silver often does not get the credit it deserves. The legends of Silver, however, treasures are just as intriguing as those of Gold. The Ozark Mountains in Arkansas have whopping stories about silver dollar coins.

The Legend States that Europeans-The Spanish- were traveling up the Mississippi and its’ tributaries. They were search for precious stones. Close to the source of the White River in Stone County they found Indians working Silver Mines. They bargained with the Indians. Apparently the Indians had much more silver than they let on to the Spaniards. To hide the silver, they made ingots and stashed them. Ingots are made by pouring molten silver into musket barrels. The Ingots were placed in caves in the area, so one day they could return for them. Then never returned.

Another version claims that the Spanish had built a fort on the Junction of the White River and Stone County in the 17th century, where they had begun to mine silver. Many were attacked and killed. The survivors sealed the cave with stones and never returned. Then, in 1809, Chickasaw Indians discovered the cave while seeking Shelter from a storm. They found the walls to be pure silver. In classic story of greed, the Chickasaws were also attacked Mexican Gold Hunters. They sealed the cave again, hoping to return, but they were struck by Black Rot and never returned.

Ten years later, In the 1820s the Yoacham family settled in the Galena area of Stone County. When they found the silver they cut the ingots into slices and stamped them with the name ‘Yoacham’ and hence the name Yocum Silver Dollars. Yoacham silver dollars were said to have been worth more than the U.S. government silver dollars of the time.

Marvin E. Tong, the Director of the Ralph Foster Museum, doubts the truth to this legends. But he has ideas about how the legend began. Tong says the Yoacham family settle in Galena from Hungary. In Hungary there was a Bishop Yoacham who had become a saint and had a coin minted in his honor. The name of this coin was the Yoacham “Stald”. Mrs. Kathleen Van Buskir who claims to be related to the Yoachams, says their ancestry origin is Welsh.

Tong also gives evidence that the natural geological setting of the Ozarks is not naturally prone to produce a gainful amount of silver. The Missouri Geological Survey and Water Resources of Rolla, Missouri Minerals has concluded that Gravel is the only extractable stone. In the early days Galena Mineral was found on the surface of the ground, and this might have been mistaken for “fool’s silver”.

Mike Brittain, who has ancestors who were homesteaded in the Ozarks, showed copies of a diary excerpt with a map which he claimed a friend had made while doing research at the National Archive in Washington D.C. On the map is a carving, a cave and a small Spanish fort which Mike said he had found the foundation stones of but never found the carving. The end of the diary is dramatic. The man had found a mine or cave with silver and was chased by Indians.

This legend of the Yocum silver has grown bigger with each telling. Unfortunately the damning of the white river has placed most of the communities of the Ozark ancestors under water. Perhaps that is the reason why no one has yet to have discovered even one silver dollar. It might be time to call in the divers.

To read the complete article, see:

The Legend of the Elusive Yocum Silver Dollar



Mike Locke and Dan Owens write:

The following draft (in two parts) is a research paper on the M.E. Hart Co. without a definitive conclusion. We are asking readers of The E-Sylum for their help in solving this mystery. If you come across any M.E. Hart Co. advertisements, Shreve & Co. employee records from 1915-1916, or contemporary numismatic publications that reveal the namesake or provide additional information regarding the M.E. Hart Co., we request that you publish your findings in The E-Sylum, or send them to us via the email link on 
Thanks in advance for your assistance. 

Mike Locke and Dan Owens

Here's part one.  We broke it up because it's just too long for a single article.
But I think readers will find it interesting, and perhaps someone can help.

Will The Real M.E. Hart Please Stand Up?
Mike Locke and Dan Owens research paper, compiled by Dan Owens.

Between the pages of history surrounding the world renowned Panama Pacific International Exposition held in San Francisco in 1915, the identity of M.E. Hart was lost to the collecting world. Hart is best known in numismatic circles for marketing Coins of the Golden West and selling official souvenirs from the Exposition, circa 1915-1916. Hart's business address was 560 Powell street site of the Chesterfield Apartments in San Francisco.

   The Hart set consisted of 36 varieties of 10 K gold tokens and was available for the asking price of $20. In a tribute to the spirit of Alaska, some of the pieces were stamped with images of miners while others bore parka covered Eskimo heads. The series also contained a number of tokens stamped with Indian heads covered in a feathered headdress. A couple of the California variety imprinted tokens came with the head of Minerva and the word Eureka on the obverse. Pieces representing Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho, rounded out the set.

   Some time ago, I received an e-mail from California small gold and token authority, Mike Locke asking me to join him in the quest to find the proprietor or proprietors of the M.E. Hart Co. After a thorough search of all the contemporary San Francisco City directories revealed no Hart listed at 560 Powell street, we had no clue if Hart was a man or a woman, or simply a fictitious business name. 

   We then turned our attention to the Panama Pacific International Exposition. We located an article entitled Numismatics at the Panama Pacific International Exposition which appeared in the April 1916 issue of B. Max Mehl's Numismatic Monthly. A subsequent follow-up with librarian David Hill at the American Numismatic Society revealed that this article contained no useful clues to Hart's identity.

   However, Locke thumbed through some of his scattered issues of Mehl's Coin Circular and discovered that in 1922, the well-known numismatist and coin dealer, had offered one of Hart's cased sets for sale for $25. 

   Mehl did not express any knowledge of M.E. Hart, nor did he note the M.E. Hart label on the back of the set. Mehl's apparent lack of knowledge regarding Hart only deepened the mystery surrounding his or her identity since he had attended the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition and American Numismatic Association convention in San Francisco and apparently immersed himself in everything of a numismatic nature. 

   Thus we decided to cast a wide net into a sea of potential suspects with or without the last name of Hart. Following all available leads, four candidates would eventually emerge from the shadows of history. 

Candidate No. 1
   Farran Zerbe was the former American Numismatic Association president and the head of the Panama Pacific International Expo Souvenir Coin and Medal Department. According to the October 1916, issue of The Bricklayer, Mason and Plasterer, Zerbe had reportedly sold the remainder of the Panama Pacific one dollar commemorative gold coins to the M.E. Hart Co., which the Hart Co. resold as original items or jewelry pieces mounted on charms, stickpins and brooch pins. Zerbe would later advertise in the December 1919, edition of The Numismatist that he had fifty one dollar Panama Pacific commemorative coins available to exchange for one fifty dollar Panama Pacific commemorative coin.

   Zerbe had also purchased the remaining stock of the Panama Pacific silver half dollar commemorative coins. Thus it was his modus operandi to exhibit similar behavior to that of the M.E. Hart Co.

   In 1904, when Zerbe was in charge of the souvenir coin department at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, gold jewelry mounts were supplied when requested allowing the official souvenir gold dollars to be used as charms, stickpins or brooch pins. This also seem to mimic the M.E. Hart Co. business practices.

   I then asked Locke if he had ever seen Zerbe make a contemporary acknowledgement of the Coins of the Golden West set. He stated that he had and sent me an e-mail with a transcribed article entitled The Government's Attention to “Gold Charms” which appeared in the August 1919, edition of The Numismatist.

   In this piece, Zerbe had addressed the concerns and crackdown by the U.S. Government over the sale of gold tokens or charms and the misuse of them by vendors who preyed on tourists exchanging a stamped dollars worth of tokens for a dollars worth of U.S. currency. In reality most tokens contained only 40% or less of their face value. 

   He then made a note to defend the quality of the Coins of the Golden West set with the following:

   “While mostly made stamped as of “California”, there have been many made naming other localities. Several series have an Alaska stamp, and the production of one maker that has been marketed as a set under the name “Coins of the Golden West,” said to be the best die work and composition quality of any marketed in recent years, contains thirty-six varieties, with stampings not only for California and Alaska, but also for Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho...”

   Was the preceding statement a weak attempt by Zerbe to justify his past sales?

Candidate No. 2
   The second candidate was put forward by William Hyder in an excellent article entitled Mary E. Hart and M.E. Hart's Coins Of The Golden West. Hart was a California and Alaska based journalist, miner, editor, woman's right activist, lecturer for the Pacific Coast Steamship Co. and the so-called first lady of Alaska.

   She was the Special Agent, Department of the Interior for Education, Art and Woman's Work, in charge of the Alaska exhibit at the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition held in Seattle in 1909. Through a series of newspaper and bulletin articles spread out over several years, we were able to glean some insight into Mrs. Hart's personality and character.

   On August 1st of 1909, the Seattle Sunday Times, published an article that she wrote entitled Alaska Gold Camps Bow To Fair Women. Mary opened her piece with the following quote, “They talk about a woman's sphere, as though it had a limit. There's not a happening on earth that bears a feather's weight of worth, without a woman in it.”

   Mrs. Hart took her role as a journalist very seriously. In 1911, she lost two years worth of text when her unpublished manuscript A Handbook of Alaska, 
was destroyed by water damage in the pile up of the steamship Spokane in Seymour Narrows. According to the July 21st, 1911 Daily Alaska Dispatch, Hart was the last woman to leave the vessel.

   In 1914, she told a writer in her home state of Missouri, that she once had an assignment for an article about the “Reindeer Queen” Sinrock Mary.

   To complete her work, Mrs. Hart rode forty miles in an open boat made of walrus hide. Her guides were natives who had just traded pelts for whisky and were in her words “liquor crazy”. After landing, a dog sled ride of fifteen miles was required to bring her to the native village. She was quoted as saying, “I got my story, but I felt it was a pretty close call.”

   Also in 1914, when she was vice-president of the Pacific Coast Women's Press Association, she spoke on being “A Woman Journalist in the Far North.”

   The Alaska editor, as a rule is not the proverbial “poor man,” and his subscriptions are never paid in potatoes, pumpkins and other garden truck, as is sometimes the experience of the country editor in “the states.” On the contrary, in the early days, I have often seen subscriptions paid in gold 
dust, and the Alaska editor has a chance to “be in on the ground floor,” in every new strike, and secure good holdings along with the best of the 
experienced “sourdough miner,” because they trust him, and are not
averse to letting him in on a good thing when new “pay dirt” is struck.  

   There is something about the spirit of the North that inspires the artist, poet, and the writer of fiction...I too have felt this inspiration, and the longing to return to the quiet and the peace-the “Great White Silence” of 
our Arctic winter.

   Hart also represented the Alaska Cruise Club at the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. She traveled through-out Alaska gathering materials for the display and received a gold medal from the Expo for putting together and hosting the Pacific Mail Steamship Co.'s Alaska Cruise Club exhibit. Mary proudly represented Alaska at a women's suffrage rally held at the Expo. 

   In a newspaper article that went national dated San Francisco July 15th, 1915, Mrs. Hart when asked what are the chances for women in Alaska? responded by stating “Why, bless your heart-yes! Lots of chances to win independence as well as contentment, if they have health and a moderate amount of grit.”

   She continued, “Grit, faith and self-confidence they must have,” she told the reporter, slipping a fur parka over a resplendent reception gown which instantly transformed her from the urbane woman of soft conventions to the “Sourdough” of many hazardous adventures.

   “I went to Alaska years ago just as many women are now going-
seeking adventure and to earn a living,” she resumed. “I worked with my hands beside the men, mining. For three seasons I panned gold at Anvil, wielding a pick and shovel and washing gravel.

   "My husband who was then too sick to work and I had a lay on a good claim. I saved $18 a day by doing the work of a mine foreman and cook
at the same time, since I would have had to pay out that much for a boss and a cook.
   I must add caution to the other requisites for success in tackling pioneer tasks in the northland. Lack of it nearly cost me my life.

   "In taking out gold bearing gravel, I had disregarded the warning of old miners never to dig under the heavy overhanging of slate and surface rock. Many a 'chekako' had lost his life in such a manner.  

   "I saw a glint of raw gold, and burrowed in my excitement like a Malamute dog. Suddenly I heard warning cries, and sprawled backward just in time to escape burial under an avalanche of loosened shale. As it was, I was covered to the neck in rock and earth, so that it took the miners some time to release me.”

   Although her initials and last name match the gold token dealer, and she was clearly at the Panama Pacific International Expo, we have thus far failed to link her to 560 Powell street. Her home base outside of Alaska was Corte Madera, California and during her visits to San Francisco she stayed at the Cruise Club's headquarters located within the Union Square Hotel.

See next week's issue for Part Two. 


An article by Max Spiegel in Coin Week discusses diagnostics of counterfeit California gold pieces.

A few helpful tips can make sure you never get fooled by these sometimes deceptive fantasy pieces.

California Fractional Gold is an interesting and historically significant series that includes more than 500 varieties. During the California Gold Rush there was a shortage of small change and beginning in 1852 several jewelers privately minted gold quarters, half dollars, and dollars. The San Francisco Mint opened on April 3, 1854 and within a few years enough small change had been issued to eliminate the necessity for these minuscule gold tokens.

Those struck from 1852 to 1857 are termed “Period One” issues and are believed to have actually circulated, while the “Period Two” strikes from 1858 to 1882 were struck as souvenirs of the Gold Rush by local jewelers. NGC grades Period One and Two issues, as well as 15 Period Three varieties (mostly struck in the early 1900s), but modern replicas are very common and routinely submitted. A few helpful tips can make sure you never get fooled by these sometimes deceptive fantasy pieces.

ll California Fractional Gold from Periods One and Two are denominated. Usually they will have the word DOLLAR (with a fraction if a quarter or half dollar), but there are also some that are denominated in cents. Occasionally you will see the word DOLLAR abbreviated as DOL, DOLL, or even DOLA. Although the Coinage Act of April 22, 1864 made it illegal to privately mint coinage, the law was not enforced by the Secret Service until 1883 and thus jewelers were still able to denominate their souvenir tokens. The tokens struck in 1883 and later almost always do not have a denomination (in order to comply with the law) and instead might say “1/2 CAL GOLD” or “1/2 CALIFORNIA GOLD CHARM”.

Many of the 20th century tokens feature a design that does not resemble either circulating United States coinage (many of the Period One and Two issues were designed to blend in). For example, some have a bear on the reverse and others have a crudely engraved portrait of an Indian or Liberty. Most of these are made of gilt base metals although a few are struck on low fineness gold planchets. While a handful of these, such as Hart’s “Coins of the Golden West” are quite collectible, the vast majority have little numismatic value.

Perhaps the best defense against imitation California Fractional Gold would be a copy of Walter Breen and Ronald J. Gillio’s California Pioneer Fractional Gold (Second Edition, 2003).

To read the complete article, see:

Counterfeit Coins Detection: California Fractional Gold



David Finkelstein submitted this article on Albion Cox’s Surety Bond.  Thanks!   These bonds are an interesting sidelight and view into the workings of the early U.S. Mint.

The general belief, without any supporting evidence, has long been that Charles
Gilchrist (a Philadelphia merchant) posted the surety bond for Albion Cox (the first
Assayer of the Mint). The earliest printed statement that I have located that names
Gilchrist as Cox’s surety is on page 90 of Frank Stewart’s 1924 publication entitled
“History of the First United States Mint: Its People and Its Operations”:

“The shortage of $974.75 was charged to mismanagement of Albion Cox due to
a quantity of silver becoming mixed with ashes and broken crucibles.

Charles Gilchrist, after the death of Cox, presented a bill against the Mint which
was rejected by the Director, who wrote Alexander Dallas November 14, 1797,
that he feared that Gilchrist, who was security for Cox, might be found a
considerable debtor because of the above mentioned shortage”.

I can now confirm that Charles Gilchrist did in fact post Albion Cox’s surety bond. Cox’s
surety bond has been found, stored among Treasury Department documents for the last
221 years. It is presented in this article for the first time ever.

The Mint & Coinage Act of April 2, 1792 required the Assayer to be bound to the United
States of America and to post a surety bond of $10,000.00. This sum was too large for
Cox, as he was unable to obtain someone to guarantee his bond. This issue was one
of the impediments to converting silver and gold bullion into coins during 1793 and most
of 1794. Without the bond in place, Cox was unable to assay silver and gold bullion,
and the value of a bullion deposit, in United States money, could not be determined.

On December 30, 1793, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson wrote a two page letter to
President Washington identifying issues with The Mint & Coinage Act that prevented the
Mint from accepting bullion deposits, and striking silver and gold coins. Per the first
sentence, Jefferson’s letter was based on information provided by Director of the Mint
David Rittenhouse:

“I am informed, by the Director of the Mint, that an impediment has arisen to the
coinage of the precious Metals, which it is my Duty to lay before you”.

Jefferson’s letter also included the following passages:

“It will be recollected… That thereupon, our minister at London, according to the
instructions he had received, endeavored to procure, there, a Chief Coiner and
Assayer; That, as to the latter, he succeeded, sending over a Mr Albion Coxe, for
that Office, but that he could procure no person, there, more qualified to
discharge the duties of chief Coiner, than might be had here; and therefore did
not engage one. The Duties of this last Office, have consequently been hitherto
performed, and well performed by Henry Voight, an Artist of the United States:
but the law requiring these Officers to give a security in the sum of 10,000 dollars
each, neither is able to do it”.

“… The other alternative would be to lessen the Securityship in money, and to
confide that it will be supplied by the vigilance of the Director, …”

Note that in 11 letters written by Thomas Jefferson, he referred to the Assayer 6 times
as Albion Coxe and 5 times as Albion Cox. We now know, per the surety bond, that he
was in fact Albion Cox, and not Albion Coxe.

On December 31, 1793, President Washington forwarded Jefferson’s letter to
Congress. On February 18, 1794 the Senate passed a bill entitled "an act in alteration
of the act establishing a mint and regulating the coins of the United States” or The
Alteration of the Mint Act. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives on
February 25th and signed into law by President Washington on March 3, 1794. Per
Section 2 of The Alteration of the Mint Act, the Assayer’s surety bond was reduced from
$10,000.00 to $1,000.00:

“And be it further enacted, That the assayer and chief coiner of the mint previous
to entering upon the execution of their respective offices shall each become
bound to the United States of America with one or more sureties to the
satisfaction of the Secretary of the Treasury, the said assayer in the sum of one
thousand dollars and the said chief coiner in the sum of five thousand dollars, …“

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