The E-Sylum v20n04 January 22, 2017

The E-Sylum esylum at
Sun Jan 22 15:35:23 PST 2017

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

Volume 20, Number 04, January 22, 2017

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: 
Rick Wolfe, courtesy of Dave Hirt, 
David Hendin, courtesy of Mark Tomasko, and Kerry Johnson.
Welcome aboard! We now have 2,067 subscribers.

Martin Kaplan was out stumping for The E-Sylum at a coin show in Houston this weekend.  Thanks! I've also invited a number of new subscribers.  If you're seeing our publication for the first time, we hope you'll enjoy it.  Most people find something of interest in every issue.
Contact me at whomren at anytime regarding your subscription, or questions, comments or suggestions about 
our content.

This week we open with auction results from Kolbe & Fanning, a new sale from Charlie Davis, a book offer from Dick Johnson, and one new book.

Other topics this week include the Newman Numismatic Portal's addition of National Archives documents, the rare "first edition" of The Fantastic 1804 Dollar, the psychology of collecting, publicity generated by new coins from the U.S. Mint, and because of current U.S. events, lots of information about Presidential medals.

To learn more about boodle letters, Franklin Peale correspondence, "The Man With Remarkable Memory", the King of Siam set, the "P" mintmark, sculptor Lee Lawrie, upsidedown Elizabeth II, the scent of money, the Mint's parsimonious paper procedures, 1894-S half dime and the tallest member of the  Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, read on. Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren 
Editor, The E-Sylum



David Fanning submitted this report on results of the 2017 Kolbe-Fanning numismatic literature sale.  Thanks.

Kolbe & Fanning Holds 2017 New York Book Auction

Kolbe & Fanning held our 2017 New York Book Auction on Saturday, January 14, at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. Conducted in conjunction with the 2017 New York International Numismatic Convention, the sale featured selections from the libraries of Italo Vecchi and Tom Cederlind, along with other works on ancient, foreign and U.S. numismatics. The 400-lot sale saw spirited bidding on a number of highly desirable items and drew bidders from around the world.

Some highlights included (all prices given below are hammer prices):

Lot 391, Raphael Thian’s extraordinary Currency of the Confederate States of America, illustrated with nearly 300 examples of Confederate currency, sold for $35,000. 

Lot 112, a lovely complete set of the Collection R. Jameson, brought $4250.

Lot 6, a complete set of the classic Naville/Ars Classica sales catalogued by Jacob Hirsch, brought $3750.

Lot 173, a very nice copy of the enormously important Montagu sale of Roman and Byzantine gold coins, brought $3750 on a $1500 estimate.

Lots 112 and 325

Lot 106, a charming copy of the 1525 first edition of the second substantially illustrated numismatic book (Huttich’s Imperatorum Romanorum Libellus) brought $2400 on a $1500 estimate.

Lot 172, a priced copy of the important sale of Roman and Byzantine coins belonging to the Vicomte de Ponton d’Amécourt, with 37 very fine plates, brought $2000, exactly twice its estimate.

Lot 325, one of only eleven copies prepared of an important catalogue of the Vatican collection of Chinese coins, brought strong bidding and sold for $1600 on a $1000 estimate.

Lot 331, rare issues of Plain Talk, the nascent ANA’s semi-official publication, brought $1500 on a $750 estimate.

Lot 197, a copy of Domenico Sestini’s rare Descriptio Numorum Veterum (1796) sold for $1400 on a $250 estimate. 

Lot 25, a rare hardcover edition of the memorial volume prepared in honor of Ernst Justus Haeberlin by Max von Bahrfeldt brought $1200 on a $500 estimate. 

The prices realized list can be downloaded from the Kolbe & Fanning website at We thank all those who participated in the sale for making it such a special event. Additional material from the Vecchi and Cederlind libraries will be included in our next sale.

For more information, see the earlier E-Sylum articles: 








Charlie Davis has a great sale of numismatic literature coming up next month.  Here's the press release.

We are offering the Michael Sullivan collection of works on counterfeiting and his nearly 300 lots of Chapman and Woodward catalogues in our next mail bid sale which has a closing date of February 18. Notable in the first category is the largest assemblage of “boodle” letters and associated ephemera seen at auction.  From the introduction:

The proliferation of confidence men in latter part of 19th century, those offering bulk sales of counterfeit money to local agents, is astounding by today’s standards. Letters, typed or neatly handwritten and then duplicated by offset to 
give the look and feel of originals, were sent to individuals in rural areas, often struggling and gullible farmers or small merchants, offering the chance of a lifetime to get rich. Most writers  admitted that their business was not completely legitimate, but that their “green goods” were virtually indistinguishable from the real items. ...

The collection consists of 11 distinct mailings with letters providing a description of the goods, instructions on how to schedule a meeting, secret codes, and often fake newspaper clippings with articles describing how counterfeiters are rarely convicted.  The collection is being offered as a single lot.

Lot 607 (Heath) and Lot 625 (Ormsby)

Included in the consignment are some of the earliest references to counterfeit detectors, those published in newspapers by Jacob Perkins and by Gilbert & Dean. Also offered are a Fine copy of Ormsby on Bank Note Engraving, the rarest Heath (on Greenbacks), the rarest Hodges (on Genuine Bank Notes), and numerous other bank note lists and detectors.

The offering of 19th century catalogues is 95% complete for Woodward with many being the plated or thick paper examples, and a similar percentage for the Chapmans with those of Samuel Hudson being 100% complete.

Lot 42 (AJN) and Lot 32 (Numismatic Bookseller)

Also offered is a complete bound set of the American Journal of Numismatics, a long bound early run of The Numismatist, and a lengthy run of hardbound Kolbe catalogues with a uniquely matching bound run of the     Numismatic Bookseller.

The catalogues has been distributed to those on our mailing list and may be viewed on our site

Charles Davis
P.O. Box 1
Wenham, MA 01984

Tel: (978) 468 2933
Fax: (978) 468 7893

This sale will be an opportunity for bibliophiles to pick up some great rarities, wonderful bound sets and professionally preserved ephemera.  See another article in this issue for more details on some of the sale highlights.

For a gallery of lot images, see:



Dick Johnson submitted this announcement offering new prices on his incredibly useful set of books.

Spectacular Announcement!

Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology.
You have read a dozen Vocabulary Words in recent
issues of The E-Sylum. Now get your copy of all 1,854
entries in this pre-print manuscript. Massive 678
pages without illustrations. Original 102 copies
printed. Only 40 copies left. Card cover.
Price slashed from $100. Postpaid. Now . . . . $50.

Who’s Who Among American Medallists
Brief biographies of 4,137 engravers, artists,
medallists, sculptors of American coins and
medals. Extensive bibliography.
Hardbound, 388 pages. Postpaid . . . . . . . . . . $65.

Monograms of American Coin & Medal Artists
Identifies initials, symbols, monograms found
on American coins and medals.
Card cover 147 pages. Postpaid . . . . . . . . . . .$45.

Special ‘Toolbox’ Collection of all Three
Harry Waterson called these three books a
“Toolbox” for numismatic writers, catalogers.
Vital for all numismatists, researchers, and writers.
Special $10 Savings. All three, postpaid. . $150

Checks only please.

Dick Johnson

139 Thompson Dr. 

Torrington, CT 06790

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: 




Dennis Tucker’s American Gold and Silver: U.S. Mint Collector and Investor Coins and Medals, Bicentennial to Date is a history, comprehensive catalog, and market study of the Mint’s bullion coins and related products—including the American Arts gold medallions, First Spouse and American Buffalo gold coins, America the Beautiful silver coins, 9/11 medals, Franklin Firefighter medals, the silver Rittenhouse Medal, and others. Add it to your library for $29.95—online
, or call 1-800-546-2995.



Author Bill Bugert forwarded this press release for his latest book, A Register of Liberty Seated Half Dollar Die Varieties, Volume V. Congratulations!

A Register of Liberty Seated Half Dollar Varieties
Volume V, Philadelphia Mint, 1839-1852
by Bill Bugert

With 440 pages and 1,304 photographs in a spiral-bound 8-½ x 11 inch high quality glossy paper format, Volume V describes all known die marriages (172) for Philadelphia Mint Liberty Seated half dollars from 1839 to 1852, inclusive.  Included are oversized key diagnostic images, oversized full obverse and reverse images of a late die state example of that die marriage, enhanced die crack diagrams, rarity ratings, important discussion facts, and other related information that will allow you to quickly and easily attribute your half dollars.

This Volume is in the same format as the previous volumes but with some key improvements such as improved images and summary reverse die crack diagrams for key dates.  As with previous volumes, Randy Wiley’s special edits and consultations are included and many of his reference collection half dollars are plated.

Copies (autographed upon request) may be obtained for $65 each postpaid to U.S. addresses (via media mail) directly from the author.

Bill Bugert
1230 Red Rock Road
Gettysburg, PA 17325-6927


Gerry Fortin published this review of Bill Bugert's new volume on his blog January 12, 2017.

A shipment of books arrived from Bill Bugert yesterday that includes five copies of Bill's latest Liberty Seated half dollar variety thome for Philadelphia mint struck pieces.

Having prior experience with researching Liberty Seated dimes struck at the Philadelphia mint gives me the insight into the amount of time and effort it has taken to prepare this amazing Volume V within Bill Bugert's research series entitled, A Register of Liberty Seated Half Varieties. In the previous Volumes I through IV, Bill shared an in depth analysis of die varieties for the San Francisco, Carson City and New Orlean struck halves. Now he has moved on to the Philadelphia mint which presents an even greater challenge due to the lack of mintmarks. Separating Philadelphia die varieties requires a keen attention to date punch placement and die cracks to identify and catalog the various dies.

Bugert's latest tome is simply a masterpiece in research and useful presentation format. This 436 page book covers the Philadelphia period from 1839 through 1852. Owners of Bill's prior books will be incredibly pleased with this offering. 

The opening section contains concise discussions on Design Types, Logotype Styles, Device Naming Conventions, Date Grid Measurements, Edge Reeding and Counting, Emission Sequence and Rarity Ratings. Then the fun really starts...... Bill utilizes full page date punch position layouts to provide a quick look up guide when attempting to attribution Philadelphia struck examples. 

Even more impressive are the Half Dollar Reverse Die Crack Diagrams that make attributing a Philadelphia strike so easy. If there are reverse die cracks on the Seated half dollar being attributed, then Bill's book simplifies the process and time taken for attribution. Image quality continues to improve with those in the Philadelphia Register being crystal clear for further attribution ease.

In summary, if I ever considered taking my own Liberty Seated Dime variety web-book to paper, I would want it to be presented in the same exact format and quality as Bill Bugert's Philadelphia Register. This tome is a must-have for your numismatic library and should sell out quickly. This is why I've ordered extra copies for myself and GFRC customers.

To read the complete article, see: 

Numismatic Book Review: A Register of Liberty Seated Half Dollar Varieties - Volume V - Philadelphia Mint 1839 to 1852



The latest addition to the Newman Numismatic Portal is a large set of U.S. Mint-related documents from the National Archives. Project Coordinator Len Augsburger provided the following report.

Newman Portal Incorporates National Archives Material from Robert W. Julian

The U.S. Mint material in the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has been an important resource for those able to dedicate the time and effort required to unlock its secrets. Walter Breen was the first to substantially publish from the Archives, operating under the patronage of Wayte Raymond in the early 1950s. Bob Julian mounted a similar effort beginning in the 1960s, and, in the days predating the ubiquitous photocopier, occasionally captured its content by reading documents into an audio tape recorder. Both of these researchers generally focused on 18th and 19th century material, with Roger W. Burdette making the next major “discovery” in the 20th century holdings and publishing his work in the Renaissance of American Coinage trilogy. Along the way many others made occasional visits, with the litigation surrounding the 1933 double eagles attracting more than a few.

Operating under a grant from the Central States Numismatic Society, Bob Julian has recently directed the scanning of over 39,000 pages of U.S. Mint-related records from the NARA facility in Philadelphia. The material is now available in its entirety on the Newman Portal. This group is especially rich in correspondence of the early Philadelphia Mint (Record Group 104 / U.S. Mint, Entry 1 / General Correspondence) and of the New Orleans Mint (Record Group 104 / U.S. Mint, Entry 11 / Branch Mint Correspondence).  Access to these documents has heretofore only been possible by physically visiting the NARA facility and calling for the boxes of interest. The online availability opens this material to a wide pool of researchers.

Although many of the physical barriers have now been removed, the content remains challenging. Scholars still need to put documents in context, and absorb enough of the material to make generalizations about Mint practices and personalities. There is also a need to index thousands of individual documents to make them more “discoverable” for the next generation. Still, numismatics is an accumulative science, and this contribution of Bob Julian and the Central States Numismatic Society is an important step forward for American numismatic research.

Link to National Archives material on the Newman Portal:


Image: Correspondence from Mint Director Robert M. Patterson to Treasury Secretary Levi Woodbury, August 14, 1835, requesting $8,000 of the $200,000 allocated to the New Orleans Mint construction, for “payments on the machinery.”  From Record Group 104, Entry 11.

Entry 1, General Correspondence

Entry 104, Die Shipments from Philadelphia

Entry 11, Branch Mint Correspondence

Entry 113, Bullion Received

Entry 115, Bullion Deposits

Entry 116, Small Gold Deposits

Entry 118, Gold Bullion Deposits

Entry 14, Anonymous Letters

Entry 148, Bullion Weight Records

Entry 162, Mint Rules

Entry 178, Ordinary Receipts and Expenditures

Entry 181, Ordinary Receipts and Expenditures

Entry 186, Deposit Warrants

Entry 19, Letters Sent by Treasurer

Entry 196, Personnel Record

Entry 197, Laborer's Bills

Entry 2, Boulton Correspondence

Entry 229, Letters Received by Bureau of the Mint

Entry 23, Franklin Peale correspondence

Entry 235, Letters Sent by Director's Office

Entry 24B, Slidell Investigation into New Orleans Mint

Entry 3, Letters Sent

Entry 38, Deposits Waste Books

Entry 40, Coinage Tables 1792-1835

Entry 41, Chief Coiner's Gold Account Book

Entry 42, Chief Coiner's Copper Account Book

Entry 45, Chief Coiner Daily Contingent Expenses

Entry 47, Warrants to Cover Waste on Coinage

Entry 49, Chief Coiner Journal

Entry 96, Bullion Ledgers

Entry 97, Bullion Journals

Wow - what a great trove of primary source material!
Many, many thanks to both Bob Julian and the Newman Portal for making this collection available.  It's only a drop in the bucket of relevant material available in the Archives, but it's a prize for serious researchers and casual readers alike.



Regarding the 1898 U.S. Mint price list discussed last week,
Burton Strauss writes:

Thanks for the pointer to the Mint price lists at the NNP.
 I recommend the 1867 pamphlet to anyone interested in patterns and proofs after 1866. There is a discussion of how the minting of proofs and patterns were to be regularized, with patterns available only in the year marked and proofs for only one year beyond the date.

Read between the lines and proofs were made on the medal press from 1867 - proof coinage is referenced as being part of the separate processes used for medals vs. business strikes.

David Lange writes:

I believe it may have included out of date information at the time it was distributed. Note that the flyer carries a printed date of 189, with the final numeral to be entered by hand, a not unusual situation for legal or financial documents of the time. However, the text states that proof coins were being struck with a screw press. I believe that practice ended in 1893, when the screw-driven medal press was replaced with a hydraulic press for coining proofs. 

The flyer was most likely printed sometime between 1890-93, and a quantity of this document still remained on hand when the illustrated example was sent out in 1898. 

Roger Burdette adds:

The text appears to predate introduction of an hydraulic press for striking proofs. That is not unusual. The Mint often used forms internally and for external communication until the supply was exhausted. Records indicate they were parsimonious in using forms, copybooks, flyers and other materials. David Lange's comment is certainly accurate. 

I might further add that we do not know on what date the first proofs were made on the new hydraulic press, or if both old and new presses were used simultaneously. As most are aware, new equipment often requires a lengthy break-in period and considerable "learning-curve" for the operators.

Thanks for the insightful comments.  Len Augsburger added these to NNP as the description for the document, as an aid for future researchers.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: 



To view the item on the Newman Numismatic Portal, see: 

Regulations Governing the Sale of Proof Coins and Medals




The cover article by librarian David Hill on the 2016 Issue 4 of ANS Magazine from the American Numismatic Society discusses the recent digitization of the society's American auction catalog collection in conjunction with the Newman Numismatic Portal.  With permission, here's an excerpt, sans footnotes.  That's dealer Henry Chapman below.

It's astonishing, really, how many of the ANS library's American auction catalogs have now been scanned and made available online. The number, as of this writing, approaches three thousand. And there will be much more to come out of this project funded and administered by the Newman Numismatic Portal (NNP) as we continue to mine what NNP project coordinator Len Augsburger has called "the mother lode of American numismatic literature" at the ANS. Nearly every one of the scanned catalogs have passed through my hands, as it is my job to update the records in the ANS library catalog, DONUM, and give each a proper title to replace the dates that were used as titles in the past. I then compile the metadata and pass it along to John Graffeo, who does the scanning. 

When you're handling a few thousand auction catalogs, you begin to notice things. There are the interesting collectors, for example. I'd love to know more about John Guild, "The Man With Remarkable Memory" whose collection was sold by New York Coin and Stamp in 1904, but when it comes to Guild, it seems the world has lost its memory; I couldn't find anything else on him. Not so the "eminent comedian" John T. Raymond. He made quite a name for himself on the American stage as Colonel Mulberry Sellers in Mark Twain's Gilded Age. His lackluster collection included an altered 1803 silver dollar that he had been duped into buying for $300, believing it to be one of the precious 1804s. It sold for $5.60.

For over a century numismatists have wondered why the Chapman brothers went their separate ways in 1906. Maybe they just disagreed over the spelling of the word catalog! After the split, Henry carried on as the two always had, using the traditional catalogue. His brother Samuel went with the sleeker, more modern catalog, a form long advocated by simplified spelling enthusiasts like Noah Webster and Melville Dewey. Either one is acceptable, though in the United States the shorter form would overtake the longer one in popularity sometime in the late twentieth century. Personally, I prefer the simpler catalog. And this is a word that comes up quite a bit in my line of work. Anyone who has ever gone to battle over the finer points of grammar, punctuation, or spelling knows that these are not matters to be trifled with. Opinions can be firm and loyalties deep. Lucky for me, I have a great authority on my side. The Library of Congress uses the simpler form on its website.

Given my experiences with the cataloging at the ANS Library, I was not at all surprised to find that the previous work done on the auction catalogs was excellent. There were only two I discovered so far that had not been cataloged at all and had to be added to DONUM. And I found very few errors.

Coin catalogs were among the first items acquired for the ANS library, according to an accession list kept from 1858 to 1864. The first official catalog of the library, compiled by Richard Hoe Lawrence in 1883, lists about 140 foreign auction catalogs, though, curiously, for U.S. catalogs readers are referred instead to an annotated copy of Emmanuel Joseph Attinelli's Numisgraphics. By 1917, ANS secretary Bauman Belden could proclaim of the American catalogs, "We now have what is in all probability the most nearly complete set ... in existence."

In recent decades, the ANS auction catalogs have been a foundation for several reference works on the topic. John Adams made use of the ANS Library ("the very bastion of comprehensiveness") for his United States Numismatic Literature, the first volume of which appeared in 1982, followed by a second one in 1990. More than just a bibliographic checklist, Adams work is readable and entertaining, with 36 biographical and historical sketches bringing to life a century-and-a-half's worth of numismatic characters, beginning with "our first coin dealer," Edward Cogan.

Attinelli's book, published in 1876, arrived as coin collecting had been thriving in the United States for a couple of decades, going back to when elite collectors had gathered themselves into groups like the ANS in New York City (1858) and similar ones in Philadelphia and Boston. At this time, the majority of coins were bought and sold at auction. Clients would hire an expert—Ebenezer Locke Mason, for example—to catalog a collection, which was then sold through an independent auction house like Thomas Birch & Son of Philadelphia. Coins at first shared space with all kinds of bric-a-brac and scientific specimens, objects to fill the fashionable "cabinets of curiosity" of the day—Indian relics, bird skins, eggs, guns, shells. At first such catalogs were feverishly collected and shared among the early enthusiasts, but they gradually fell out of favor (despite innovations like the photographic coin illustrations that first made their appearance in United States auction catalogs 
 in 1869).

I find it immensely satisfying, especially as I look back on the history of the collection and think about those who saw long-term value where others saw only ephemera, to have a hand in making these catalogs instantaneously available throughout the world. Though inconceivable to the individuals who began assembling the collection over 150 years ago, I have no doubt they would have embraced this as a natural step in a project they initiated so long ago.

For more information on the American Numismatic Society, see:



Here's some more details on selected lots from the upcoming February 18, 2017 Charles Davis sale.

 Lot 37: Early Volumes of the Numismatist
ex Norweb Family

[A.N.A.]/GEORGE HEATH: The Numismatist, 1894-
1907, Volumes 7-20, 14 volumes complete, matching full
black Morocco, spines a bit discolored on three, 4638
pages, bindings sound except for Volumes 16 and 20
where the front board is detached. Otherwise a Fine
contemporary set. (850.00)

>From the Norweb library purchased at the 1984 Christie’s sale of the contents of Katewood, the family home. Most volumes bear the diminutive label of the Exline Co, binders, Cleveland, and the final volume is signed  by Emery May Norweb’s father “A. F. Holden, Bratenahl, Ohio.”

 Lot 38: Handsome Run of The Numismatist 

[A.N.A.] GEORGE HEATH: The Numismatist, 1894-
1946, Volumes 7-59 complete, all except 1941, which is
included unbound, individually bound in half red cloth,
black cloth sides, card covers or wrappers bound in place
through 1922, contents are crisp and fresh, about as
attractive set as possible without spending $4,000 the
bindings alone, also included for completeness is the 1963
Olympic Press reprint of Volume I-VI (1888-1893) in full
red cloth. (3,500.00)

An immaculate set with all issues being crisp and unchipped prior to this 1980s binding. Curiously Volumes 4 & 5 in the identical binding appeared in the Kolbe & Fanning Sale January 2015 @ $1300. A treasure trove of information and so much more readily accessible when bound.

While the 19th and early 20th centuries provided numerous society, dealer, and private publications, by the end of the World War, all were gone. The American Journal of Numismatics, Mehl’s Monthly, the publications
from Tom Elder had ceased to bring news, biased or otherwise, into the collector’s home.  The Numismatist filled that gap with a blend of association news and significant works that took front and center stage leaving the nonetheless informative advertising in the back. The early
years are quite scarce, especially in fine condition, due to the poor quality of paper used by Heath.

 Lot 42: The American Journal of Numismatics
Complete in 53 Volumes 

American Journal of Numismatics, 1866-1924, Volumes
1-53 complete, bound in twenty-six, first 20 in
contemporary (i.e. c1910) brown cloth, gilt spines, balance
in recent brown cloth, green spine labels, all bindings
sound and strong. A fine set. (6,000.00)

Davis 21. No periodical or other body of work is as important to our understanding of American numismatics, especially during the second half of the nineteenth century. The original works by Crosby, his 1869 The United States Cents of 1793 (here with the first printing of the
photographic plate), and extracts from The Early Coins of America, initially appeared in the Journal, as did Marvin’s Masonic Medals, Low’s Hard Times Tokens, Edgar Adams’ The Private Gold Coinage of
California, and Miller & Ryder’s State Coinage of New England.

Initiated by the A.N.A.S. as a monthly periodical that would incorporate the society’s proceedings, the uncertain future faced by that organization forced control to be passed to the Boston Numismatic Society in 1870. Designed to be an annual rotation with publishing responsibilities shared among the various societies, the Journal remained in Boston for 38 years as a quarterly. In 1893 all rights were acquired by W. T. R. Marvin, who continued to edit and publish the work until 1908 when it was sold back to the A.N.S. 

During its Boston years, under the guidance of Colburn,
Appleton, and Marvin, the Journal recorded for posterity American numismatic history in the form of society minutes, auction notices and results, book reviews, quips, barbs and bantering, as well as erudite original papers. When control returned to New York, an era had passed, and the Journal was well on its way to becoming a forum for monographs, largely on classical works, only. Concerns by authors,
however, that their works would not receive critical attention if they shared covers with papers on other subjects led to its discontinuance, and the institution of the    Numismatic Notes and Monographs series.

My AJN set is mostly unbound and only partially complete, but I'm fortunate to have a nicely bound Numismatist set in my library.  Condition and binding are ever more important in the digital age.  Nicely bound sets remain the cornerstone of a serious bibliophile's library.



Bob Leonard writes:

John Lupia's Encyclopedic Dictionary article on the Joseph Brothers (The E-Sylum, v20 n02, January 8, 2017) was written without consulting the standard catalog on the subject, Breen-Gillio's California Pioneer Fractional Gold, second edition, 2003. Rulau's errors were corrected over 13 years ago, not by Mr. Lupia, and even he does not have it quite right; the Joseph Brothers' store cards were made in Birmingham, England. Also, his statement that "None of the fractional gold pieces produced by the Joseph Brothers are listed in Edgar Holmes Adams (1868-1940), Adams' Official Premium List of United States Private and Territorial Gold Coins," while correct, is misleading; Adams omitted ALL small California gold pieces from his listing, not just these.

If you follow the link to the article from which this is excerpted, Lupia disputes the attribution of certain pieces to the Joseph Brothers, and "refutes" a statement by Dr. Robert J. Chandler, in-house historian for the Wells Fargo museum and a collector and student of small California gold coins, in a 2013 Holabird-Kagin auction catalog.  He writes that Chandler "cited a quotation from a Louisiana newspaper published in June 1852 purporting it identified the half dollar gold coin as minted by the Joseph Brothers. Neither any identification of the diesinker(s) nor coiner(s) was ever made in that Times-Picayune, Tuesday, June 29, 1852, page 1 story."

(1) NO contemporary newspaper article yet discovered identifies any maker of Period One small California gold. (2) I discovered this article myself in the History Room of the New Orleans Public Library while researching the book, having figured out approximately when it appeared. (3) Dr. Chandler is not wrong in associating this fully-described piece with the Joseph Brothers, based on what we know of their issues. (4) The catalog numbers in the Holabird-Kagin catalog refer to Breen-Gillio, and the collection cataloged (by me) is that of co-author Jack Totheroh.

While some details could be updated, I stand behind the account of the Joseph Brothers' business in California Pioneer Fractional Gold, second edition, which is based in part on sources unknown to Lupia--and includes a portrait of Nathan Joseph. And I also affirm the carefully-qualified attributions of certain anonymous halves and quarters to them. Lupia has added a reference to my book in his article, but without mentioning that it contradicts his account.

I thank Bob for submitting these notes as a follow-up.  I've been in touch with John Lupia; he has ordered a copy of the Breen-Gillio book, and may make some further updates to his piece on the Josephs.

A key point is that he, like many researchers, prefers working from primary sources.  Even the best book on a topic is a secondary source from authors who may have used different primary sources and/or made different conclusions based on their review of those sources.  Of course, one shouldn't stop there, and a review of secondary sources can reveal other primary material and alternate timelines and interpretations.

Bob Leonard continues:

Nothing should be submitted for posting or publication without consulting the standard literature on the subject.  This is the very beginning of research; for U.S. coins, for example, start with the Red Book, then look at the bibliography in the back and read everything relevant to the particular subject. Read the bibliographies in those references, and consult the works mentioned, then search for updates in the form of articles and internet postings. Only then are you in a position to place the material you have in proper context.

And even then, you're not finished; submit a draft of your article or book chapter to experts in the field who may know more than you and solicit their comments. This is the method of Q. David Bowers (at least for books), and I have followed it for all my books and articles.

Bob and I are in perfect agreement on these points.
Where we differ is on the level of review appropriate for an internet blog like The E-Sylum, or a web site like John Lupia's, which is a living draft of the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Numismatic Biographies he hopes to publish in print someday.  

As for The E-Sylum, I've pointed out many times that  I'm a one-man operation with no bandwidth for coordinating independent reviews.  I have no staff of fact-checkers.  This is why we have numismatic book publishers like Whitman and paid subscription periodicals like Coin World.  I gladly pay my subscription fees to help cover the cost of their highly capable professional staff.

The E-Sylum, like the research process itself, is a conversation, not the Final Word on any topic.   Our readers are our fact-checkers, and you've come through in spades time and time again.  Like Bob, please keep your helpful comments coming; we need the knowledge and experience of every single one of us to move closer to the fullest possible knowledge of numismatic truth.  We'll look forward to more new biography articles from John Lupia, as well as any related thoughts and comments from readers.

Bob adds:

John Lupia prefers working from primary sources, as do I.  Among others, I visited the California Historical Society Museum, and there purchased a copy of a portrait of Nathan Joseph and paid for publication rights.  I also studied the small California gold coins of this period--also a primary source--based on the virtually exhaustive Jay Roe Collection and those of all other major collectors.  Breen-Gillio, second edition, has copious footnotes referencing all sources used, so if the source is not actually quoted verbatim it is cited for any reader to verify.

John responds:

David Sklow is mailing me the book. Bob makes it sound like I attributed the store card, but I did not. I only mentioned Melvin and George Fuld who thought there might be links to Moise. But the point I was making was not about who manufactured the store card but the glaring fact that experts thought someone other than the Joseph Brothers designed and coined it. That seems to be a pretty important fact when others are attempting to date fractional gold designed and coined by them at the same period. 

His complaint that I refute Dr. Robert J. Chandler associating the 1850 fractional gold described in the New Orleans Picayune of June 29, 1850, as that manufactured by the Joseph Brothers is groundless. Even Nathan Joseph in his own circular dates the pieces to 1852 based on the best of his recollection, and my research confirmed that as the earliest possible date. That is pretty important too, since it is an outside source confirming Nathan Joseph'e claim regarding the dating of the pieces. 

I was and still am attempting to correct the view that  that the Joseph brothers immediately left Liverpool in 1849 hearing about the gold rush and arriving at San Francisco began manufacturing fractional gold. The reality is not before 1852 and not after the time they left 1865-1867, unless we refer to Nathan's reproductions in 1912-1913. Mr. Leonard objected to the use of the illustration taken from their 1854-1860 letterhead since according to him they did not make fractional gold at that time. Maybe he is right about all these points based on documentation not accessible to me at the time of my writing. Consequently, I am eager to read the second edition of the Breen/Gillio, California Pioneer Fractional Gold and will gladly make any necessary additions or corrections based on the facts presented therein. 

I would like to thank Bob Leonard for pointing out the value of that book and look forward to reading it. Thanks again, especially to Wayne who does such great work!

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: 




E-Sylum reader Kellen Hoard is compiling a census of the "first printing" (or "bound page proofs") of the landmark 1962 book The Fantastic 1804 Dollar by Eric Newman and Ken Bressett.  First, some background.

>From a Summer 2001 Asylum article by Ken Bressett:

I began assembling notes and
information on the mysterious
1804 dollars around 1957. At the
time there was very little reliable
material in print and it was difficult
to separate fact from fiction.
Walter Breen was doing some of
his best work back then and was
a great help in pointing me in
the right direction. He had a talent
for organizing and sorting
through material to arrive at
rational conclusions. At the time
I was also "picking the brains" of
everyone else who I thought
could provide background information.

One of the people I interviewed
was B. Max Mehl. He
handled a couple of sales and
seemed like a good background
source. We exchanged a few letters,
and later when I met him at a coin show he surprised me by
remembering my name and all
we had written about. Unfortunately
his memory for details of the 1804 dollars was not nearly
as accurate. He did confess to
using an illustration of the
Stickney specimen in his catalog
of the Manning (Cohen specimen)
collection, which cleared
up a bit of confusion for me.
Work on the book began in
earnest around 1960 when I joined forces with Eric P.
Newman who had been doing
independent research for years
on his own.

We also sought help from a bright young writer, Lynn
Glaser, and Walter Breen, both
of whom had been studying the
subject. Together we shared all
available information and tried
to formulate conclusions.
The actual writing of the book
was done by Eric Newman and
myself after spending countless
hours together and sharing
reams of material. We felt sure
that in the process we had read
every piece of published information,
and had located many
unpublished letters and pieces of
the puzzle. When the manuscript
and pictures we had accumulated
finally went to the
printer we felt sure that we had
solved the mystery of this
intriguing coin and all of its
related history. For me it was the
finale to a great adventure and
time to relax.

The book's scheduled printing
coincided with the ANA convention
in August of 1962. I could not foresee anything going
wrong at that point, so 1 packed
my things and took off for the
convention with a clear mind. It was a great show, as I recall, with
Newman and I rejoicing over
having finished the book on
schedule. During the show I even took in a talk that had been
prepared by David Spink and
James Risk, "New facts about an
old American coin."

During that talk it was
announced that a new specimen
of the "original" 1804 dollar had
just been discovered! Not only
that, but this particular specimen
was in its original presentation
case and could be traced
back to the King of Siam. It was
the missing link that we had
been seeking for years. The Holy
Grail, so to speak, of numismatics.
It was absolute proof of our
theory about when and why the
coins were made in 1834.

I remember running out of the
lecture hall directly to a pay telephone
to call the publisher and
actually yell - "Stop the press!"
The final chapter to the book
had yet to be written, and there
was much new information to
be added to the story. The publisher
was understanding and
did grant us another month or so to finish the project that was
done in record time. The first
8,000 of the books were shipped
on October 1, 1962.

When the dust had settled, a press foreman asked me what I wanted to do with the sheets
that had been printed prior to
stopping the press run. I arranged to have a few copies of
the unpublished book bound for
archives and friends. As I recall,
there were about 20 to 24 copies
made, and the rest of the sheets
were destroyed. Most of the
books were later distributed as intended.

Diagnostics for telling the versions apart are described later on in Ken's article and in more detail in my subsequent article in the same Summer 2001 Asylum issue.

In an E-Sylum post back in June 2003
Peter Gaspar wrote:

 Cognoscenti still examine copies of the book
  hoping to find a first version.  I did a census of surviving examples of the first version last year, but regrettably have been too swamped to properly collate and publish the data.  That book is rare, one of the rarest American numismatic books of the 20th century, but of course it commands only a modest price on the occasions on which a first version copy comes up for sale.

Which brings us to the present.  Recently E-Sylum reader Kellen Hoard independently began a census of the known copies, reaching out to me, Joel Orosz and Len Augsburger as a start.  Kellen and Joel compiled an initial list and contacted Ken Bressett, who writes:

According to my records and recollection fewer than 50 of the Bound Page Proofs must have been cased-in (bound with covers) for distribution to contributors, friends, and owners of the dollars. I have no record of the people who received them  --- just the usual suspects of that time. I think the 36-40 mentioned by Joel is fairly accurate or a tad on the low side.  Over the years I may have given away or sold a couple of them. 

They were not all distributed at the time. I am pretty sure that Eric was given either six or 12 copies for his use, and I saved a few thinking others would someday want one. Several were used in the editing process of correcting the text based on new information. Remember, there were no computers back then and everything was edited by hand on the printed pages. After the initial surge I packed the leftovers away along with some special copies that were inscribed to me by Eric, and various production stage items.

Aside from those ‘specialty items’, I also have the following five bound copies:

2 autographed by EPN and me
1 autographed by me
3 not autographed

I own one of them, having acquired it in a numismatic literature sale prior to 2001.   This week I reached out to several of today's Usual Suspects to confirm their holdings.
Here are the positive replies.

Dan Hamelberg writes:

I have two copies of The Fantastic 1804 Dollar book as "first printing/bound page proofs."  One copy was obtained from the 6-86 Kolbe sale, lot 475.  The lot description includes "one of sixteen copies."  It is signed by both authors to Mike Powills.  The inscription by Ken Bressett goes "This is a set of bound page proofs made just prior to correction before publication of the book.  They were intended only as checking copies and reflect the situation before the discovery of the Siam specimen."  The inscription from Eric Newman is
"To my friend Mike Powills from his fellow coin enthusiast."  

My other bound page proof copy has an  inscription signed by both authors and it says
"August, 1962. Bound page proofs ready for correction, and correct them we did!" 

The corrected version contains information on the Siam Specimen on page 127. 

P. Scott Rubin writes:

  Yes, I have one and it is signed by both authors.

Dick Johnson writes:

My copy is unique in that mine was autographed by three numismatists ON THE FIRST DAY IT WAS ISSUED (or available).

A shipment of 16 books was sent to Ken Bressett at the ANA convention in Detroit. He received these on August 17, 1962. He gave me a copy and I mentioned I was flying home to Kansas City with an hour between planes in St. Louis. If Eric could meet me at the airport I would deliver his copy to him. He did and I had him sign my copy right under Ken’s inscription. I signed mine when I got home to KC. Three signatures in three cities all on the same day!

But that’s not the end of the story. On May 29, 2011 I had Eric add a second comment and signature on the facing sheet inside the cover.

If Kellen is preparing an article to be published and wishes to have an image of these two pages of inscriptions, I would be glad to send a photocopy to him.

Joel Orosz adds:

Ken received a box of 16 "first edition" books at the ANA convention in Detroit to distribute there.  Another 24 or so were bound in Racine, for a total of about 40 copies of the "first edition" initially extant.  

So here's Kellen's list to date:

Len Augsburger (1 copy)

Ken Bressett (5 copies): 2 signed by EPN and KB, 1 signed by KB, 3 unsigned

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