The E-Sylum v22n12 March 24, 2019

The E-Sylum esylum at
Sun Mar 24 19:30:58 PDT 2019

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

Volume 22, Number 12, March 24, 2019
ANN M. ZAKELJ (1947-2019)
DR. RAINER OPITZ (1954-2019)

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Content presented in The E-Sylum  is not necessarily researched or independently fact-checked, and views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


New subscribers this week include: 
Jerry Diekmann and
Jerome Nashorn.
Welcome aboard! We now have 5,839 subscribers.

Thank you for reading The E-Sylum. If you enjoy it, please send me the email addresses of friends you think may enjoy it as well and I'll send them a subscription (but let me know if they are located in the European Union). Contact me at whomren at anytime regarding your subscription, or questions, comments or suggestions about our content. 

This week we open with one new book, two book publication histories by Dennis Tucker, a new periodical issue, three obituaries, new content on the Newman Numismatic Portal, and a new approach to computer understanding of ancient coin images.

Other topics this week include Numismatic News, dealer S. K. Harzfeld, the ANA Pittsburgh National Money Show, multiple auction previews, reader queries, the new Stephen Hawking coin, and a new ban on cashless stores.

To learn more about woodpecker scalp money, Rare Coin Review, fippence, the falsification of ancient coins, erotic tesserae, brothel tokens, the Armada medal, coins of the Valerianic Dynasty, the Pugachev rouble, rhyming inscriptions,
blundered inscriptions, and the Esperantist Checking Bank, read on. Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren 
Editor, The E-Sylum



A new edition of Bob Leonard's Curious Currency has been published by Whitman.

Robert Leonard’s Updated Curious Currency, Second Edition,

Explores Money from the Stone Age to the Internet Age

Whitman Publishing announces the release of the second edition of Robert D. Leonard Jr.’s award-winning Curious Currency: The Story of Money from the Stone Age to the Internet Age. The 160-page hardcover book will debut March 12, 2019, two weeks before the American Numismatic Association’s National Money Show. It will be available from booksellers and hobby shops nationwide, and online (including at, for $16.95.

The first edition of Curious Currency earned the Numismatic Literary Guild’s prestigious “Best Specialized Book on World Coins” award. The updated second edition includes new information from the most recent era of the money spectrum—PayPal and e-gold, proximity payments, cellphone payments, and cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

The rest of the book is a treasure chest of cold, hard cash—and also feathery, leathery, tiny, gigantic, edible, and incredible cash. Leonard, a fellow of the American Numismatic Society and author of more than twenty studies on specific unusual monies, gives a colorful, entertaining, and authoritative tour of hundreds of strange things people have used as money through the ages, including:

woodpecker scalps, whiskey, and gigantic stones

wooden nickels, porcelain tokens, and playing cards

elephant tails, iron nails, and whale teeth

ostrich shells, bricks of tea, blocks of salt, human skulls, and more

The essence of Leonard’s exploration is to answer the question, “What is money?” He writes, “We use it every day without giving it a thought. But money isn’t limited to coins and paper. It includes a wide range of so-called primitive or traditional currency, surrogates for cash, and even things that are quite invisible. The study of these odd and curious monies has lessons for our economy today.”

Kenneth Bressett, Editor Emeritus of the Guide Book of United States Coins, calls Curious Currency “a fresh approach to understanding the nature of money . . . an entertaining overview . . . a provocative study.”

Q. David Bowers, past president of the American Numismatic Association, says, “Bob Leonard’s magnificent book is the ‘missing link’ in hobby publications. We know about silver dollars, Gold Certificates, colonial coins, and ancient decadrachms, but odd and curious money is equally important and fascinating. The subject is strange and wondrous. This is money like you’ve never seen it before.”

Scott Semans, expert and longtime dealer in ethnographic money, calls Curious Currency “Both a popular work with 200 color photos, and a meticulously researched reference with footnotes, bibliography, and a good index” and “Highly recommended both for collectors desiring perspective, and as a gift for those who appreciate beauty in utilitarian things.”


#    #    #

Curious Currency: The Story of Money from the Stone Age to the Internet Age, 2nd edition

By Robert D. Leonard Jr.; foreword by Kenneth Bressett

ISBN 0794846394

Hardcover, 6 x 9 inches, 160 pages, full color, retail $16.95 U.S.



Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing submitted these recollections on the creation of the Guide Book of Barber Silver Coins.  Thanks.

The silver coins of U.S. Mint chief engraver Charles Barber have enjoyed a rise in popularity in recent decades. The Barber Coin Collectors’ Society was formed in 1989, saw slow but steady growth for several years, and then experienced a vibrant rebirth under the leadership of Phil Carrigan (as president) and David Lawrence Feigenbaum (as the Society’s journal editor) starting in 1994. Current BCCS president and journal editor John Frost describes those early years: “By the time I joined in 1995, the Society was strong and in full swing. Lots of new information poured into the Journal, and our meetings at the American Numismatic Association conventions included interesting discussions of what had been learned in the past year.”

Today the group has members nationwide and is very active. Barber-related courses are taught at the ANA Summer Seminar in Colorado Springs, research is ongoing and robust, and the BCCS hosts meetings at regional coin shows, stages exhibits, and sponsors educational programs throughout the year. The Journal features a growing variety of articles and full-color “Featured Collections.” “We believe in education as one of the BCCS’s key missions,” says Frost. “Many newer collectors get their first real overviews of Barber coinage at one of our programs.”

Along with the birth of the Barber Coin Collectors’ Society, by the late 1980s the coins had attracted the attention of researchers who shared their knowledge in books and articles. Q. David Bowers, by then well established as a leading coin dealer and numismatic scholar, had studied the silver Barber series for many years. In 1986 he published United States Dimes, Quarters, and Half Dollars: An Action Guide for the Collector and Investor. He wrote “Barbers, a Unique Perspective to Their History, Beauty, and Rarity” in 1989, the first year of the Journal of the Barber Coin Collectors’ Society.

David Feigenbaum, writing as David Lawrence, 
published the Complete Guide to Barber Quarters in 1989 and 1994, and similar guides to Barber dimes (1991) and half dollars (1992). (These all went out of print but were made publicly available, online, about 20 years after publication.)

Throughout the 1990s and continuing to the present, 
the Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties, by J.T. Stanton and Bill Fivaz, has featured coverage of doubled dies, repunched mintmarks, and other collectible variations in every U.S. coin series including the silver Barbers.

Other Barber-specific books followed. The Complete Guide to Certified Barber Coinage, by David and John Feigenbaum, a 146-page reference published in 2000, gave “information essential for purchasing Barber coinage, including history, rarity ratings, and date and mintmark analysis.” Other self-published books on Barber dimes, quarters, and half dollars emerged in the early 2000s, showcasing many previously unpublished die varieties. In 2009 Jeff Ambio’s Collecting and Investing Strategies for Barber Dimes, a 432-page guide, shared detailed analyses of Proof and circulation-strike Barber dimes and their market performance, and advice on collecting.

Meanwhile, other research and analysis continued, and more and more Barber articles were published in Coin World, Numismatic News, The Numismatist, and similar hobby periodicals. The coins of Charles Barber were highlighted among the 100 Greatest U.S. Coins (by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth, first edition 2003), studied in the Guide Book of United States Type Coins (by Bowers, first edition 2005), and covered annually in the Guide Book of United States Coins (the hobby’s popular “Red Book”).

Against this backdrop, in June 2014 I asked Dave Bowers what he thought of adding A Guide Book of Barber Silver Coins to Whitman’s Bowers Series lineup. We had already studied Charles Barber’s copper-nickel five-cent pieces in volume 5 (the Guide Book of Liberty Head and Buffalo Nickels, 2006). And we had the successors to the Barber dime, quarter, and half dollar slated for publication in the Guide Book of Mercury Dimes, Standing Liberty Quarters, and Liberty Walking Half Dollars, which would become volume 18 in the Bowers Series, published in July 2015. The time seemed ripe to focus an entire Whitman book on the chief engraver’s most famous coins.

Dave jumped into the Barber coin project with his usual gusto, tapping into his extensive research archives and marshaling specialists around the country, including many members of the Barber Coin Collectors’ Society. A solid year of work went into the effort. On August 12, 2015, at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Chicago, Dave and I spoke at the annual meeting of the BCCS. Everyone was excited for the new book’s debut. It came out a month later, in September 2015.

The Guide Book of Barber Silver Coins inspired Kenneth Bressett, then senior editor (and now editor emeritus) of 
the Guide Book of United States Coins, to fondly recall his early days of collecting in the 1940s. “There is no going back to those halcyon days of finding Barber coins in circulation,” he wrote in the foreword to the first edition. “Today there is a new era of interest in these classic items, and one with new attitudes about the value and desirability of mintmarks, condition, and varieties. It is also a time when these coins can be more fully appreciated for their place in our nation’s numismatic history.” He praised the new book as “a fresh landmark account of Barber coinage touching on every aspect of availability, condition, varieties, history, and collectability of these fascinating coins.”

The hobby appears to share Ken Bressett’s appreciation. Collectors bought thousands of copies of the first edition of the Guide Book of Barber Silver Coins. Now, a few years later, we have the second edition.

What does the numismatic community look like today for Barber coin collectors?

Many active hobbyists focus on Fine, Very Fine, and Extremely Fine grades. This makes a full set of the three denominations, minus the 1894-S dime, an affordable quest for many BCCS members. A number of collectors are also building AU-55 to -58 sets. Most surviving coins are in About Good or Good—also widely collected, and even more affordable.

Although the vast majority of Barber coins are found in low circulated grades, the series also have their adherents among registry-set collectors. These are specialists who compete to build sets of the finest-graded coins they can assemble, ranked against others in competitions coordinated by the major third-party grading firms. In the spring of 2019, PCGS has 184 registered “major” sets and 10 registered “specialty” sets of Barber dimes; 133 major sets and 8 specialty sets of Barber quarters; and 191 major and 12 specialty sets of Barber half dollars. In the NGC Collectors Society Registry, there are 176 competitive Barber dime sets in total; 149 Barber quarter sets; and 125 Barber half dollar sets.

In an informal poll of 127 hobbyists in the spring of 2018, I found that 17 percent consider themselves active or very active collectors of Barber silver coins (constantly upgrading their sets, collecting die varieties by Fivaz-Stanton number, filling albums and folders, and/or active in the BCCS); 21 percent consider themselves casual collectors (collecting the coins but not as their primary interest); 37 percent own some of the coins but don’t consider themselves collectors (with more of an accumulation than a collection); and 25 percent don’t collect or own them at all. Comments from those polled include:

•  “I’m working on a VG set of quarters and halves. They’re mostly the first thing I’m looking for, walking into a coin show. One day I’ll work on the dimes.”

•  “I had accumulations of all three denominations once upon a time, focusing on the better dates in Fine to AU. Sold off the halves, then the dimes. Still have the hoard of quarters.”

•  “I’ve taken a break recently, but when I’m active it’s a sickness.”

•  “I like them as junk silver. I’d rather have circulated Barber stuff than Washington quarters or Roosevelt dimes.”

•  “They are attractive in Mint State.”

•  “Barber dimes mostly, slowly participating in the registry. I only buy a few pieces a year, no rush, just nice pieces when they come available.”

•  “My halves set is complete and I have done a little upgrading on some of the lower-quality ones. I have always favored the quarters for some odd reason and have been continually looking out for upgrades to my set.”

•  “Original, attractive circulated Barbers do grab my attention when I see them.”

•  “Always been fascinated with them, but the higher-quality issues are expensive. I like them in G/VG bulk rolls I can pour out of the tube, like treasure. I do occasionally buy/sell some nice higher-grade PCGS circs, mainly halves.”

•  “I prefer Mint State, and think there is more value there.”

•  “I generally prefer circs to MS Barbers, as I appreciate the ‘workhorse’ aspect of the coins more than the design.”

And one very active collector, trying to steer competitors away from “the good stuff,” facetiously warned: “Barber material is hideous. Terrible design . . . mundane. Avoid at all costs, especially examples in the VF–EF range.”

Research and fellowship continue in the field. Collectors study die states, share photographs of their coins, and keep in touch online and in person. Specialists scrutinize die varieties, and seek out errors and misstrikes, pattern pieces, love tokens engraved on Barber coins, and other byways of the series. This is not a moribund area of numismatics. Researchers such as John Frost continue to unearth fascinating unpublished history. His Charles Barber–related appendix in the new second edition of the Guide Book of Barber Silver Coins marks this research’s first publication in book form.

Reading the latest research, hearing feedback from collectors, and surveying the lay of the hobby tells me that Barber silver coins are well known and appreciated. They have a relatively small fan base (compared to, for example, Morgan dollars)—but those fans are very enthusiastic. At the same time, there’s still room at the table for newcomers to join the ranks, for casual collectors to become more active, and for everyone to contribute to ongoing research and education. There’s much that’s new in the second edition of the Guide Book of Barber Silver Coins. There will be even more, when the time comes, in the third.


Dennis Tucker is the publisher of Whitman Publishing, LLC; numismatic specialist on the Treasury Department’s Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee; and author of American Gold and Silver: U.S. Mint Collector and Investor Coins and Medals, Bicentennial to Date.


   #      #      #


A Guide Book of Barber Silver Coins, 2nd edition

By Q. David Bowers; foreword by John Frost

ISBN 0794846386   ·   6 x 9 inches, softcover, 400 pages, full color   ·   Retail $29.95 U.S.




Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing submitted this overview of the history of the Guide Book of Morgan Silver Dollars.  
It's a great look back on the evolution of the hobby in the U.S. as well as the changes in numismatic book publishing brought about by technology in recent decades.

A Brief History of the Guide Book of Morgan Silver Dollars

by Dennis Tucker

Whenever the classic coins of the United States are ranked for popularity, the famous Morgan silver dollar rises to the top of the list. Every day at Whitman Publishing we see evidence of its universal appeal. Hobbyists buy thousands upon thousands of coin folders, albums, and other holders to store and display their Morgan dollars. We get emails, letters, and phone calls about the hefty old coins. When we go to coin shows, collectors and investors are talking about them. As we work on each year’s edition of the Guide Book of United States Coins (the “Red Book”), we hear plenty of Morgan dollar observations and market analysis from professional coin dealers around the country.

Meanwhile, outside the active hobby community, the Morgan dollar is one of the “rare coins” that even non-collectors are likely to know about. They found one in Grandpa’s cigar box, or saw them for sale in an airline in-flight magazine, or maybe spent by cowboys in a saloon in a TV Western.

This is a coin that sparks the imagination. Once it entered the American consciousness it never left.

Given this widespread interest, it’s easy for a publisher to answer the question, “Why make yet another book about Morgan dollars?” Quite simply, America’s most popular coin deserves as many good books as the hobby community can read and enjoy.

>From observing the book market over the past 14-plus years, I believe that a rising tide lifts all ships when it comes to Morgan dollars. Because of the hobby’s longstanding interest in these coins, each new volume starts out with the potential of a built-in audience. Of course, to be successful a book has to share valuable information and it helps to be well written. From there the appreciative audience and the evergreen subject combine to create more and more excitement over Morgan dollars.


The First Edition of a New Hobby Classic

Q. David Bowers’s Guide Book of Morgan Silver Dollars, billed as “A Complete History and Price Guide” and recently released in a sixth edition, is the most popular reference in the field.

The first edition was published in 2004. By then Bowers was widely recognized as a subject-matter expert (not just on Morgan dollars, but across all aspects of U.S. numismatics). His published work on these coins goes back decades; a short list includes the Comprehensive U.S. Silver Dollar Encyclopedia (1992) and the hugely popular 
two-volume Silver Dollars and Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia (1993), not to mention numerous chapters, essays, and articles published in other books and in hobby journals, newspapers, and magazines.

Updates, and a New Layout

The second edition of the Guide Book followed in 2005 with updated pricing and certified-coin population data. A new appendix studied the Morgan dollar patterns of 1878.

In 2007 we published the third edition. By this time the modern renaissance in numismatic publishing was well under way. No longer were black-and-white photographs acceptable to the hobby community; the third edition of the Guide Book of Morgan Silver Dollars was published in full color. (Yes, nuances of color are noticeable in silver coins; they’re not as colorless as a non-collector might think!) Again the book’s coin-by-coin pricing was updated, reflecting the ever-changing market, and certified populations captured the latest third-party-grading data. New research was incorporated into the manuscript—Morgan dollars are a robust and very active field of study with new discoveries regularly being made. The book’s layout and typography were spruced up to make it as pleasantly readable as possible and easy for the reader to navigate.


Expansion and New Books in the Field

The fourth edition came out in 2012. Again fully updated and revised, the new volume added an illustrated appendix of misstruck and error Morgan dollars, showcasing some truly outlandish coins including double strikes and off-centers, along with insight to guide smart purchases.

What did the hobby community think of Morgan dollars at this point? The fourth edition’s updated pricing reflected continuing enthusiasm. Many common dates had increased in retail price by 50 percent or more since the book’s first edition debuted eight years earlier, and rare dates and varieties had doubled—or more—in value. The Morgan dollar remained the King of American Coins.

By the time the Guide Book of Morgan Silver Dollars established itself as the coin’s modern standard reference, other Whitman books had joined the party. In late 2009 (with a copyright date of 2010) we published Carson City Morgan Dollars: Featuring the Coins of the GSA Hoard, by Adam Crum, Selby Ungar, and Jeff Oxman. “This book begins with the accidental discovery of gold in California in 1848,” we announced at the book’s release. “The struggles of adventurers in the Gold Rush . . . the Nevada silver boom of the late 1800s . . . the creation of the Carson City Mint . . . these are some of the rich historical veins that Crum, Ungar, and Oxman mine in Carson City Morgan Dollars.”

Carson City Morgan Dollars was expanded and revised in a second edition released in 2011, then updated to a third edition that debuted at the American Numismatic Association’s National Money Show held in Atlanta in March 2014. Even with its specific focus on a subset of Morgan dollars, there was plenty of new material to justify the new edition. It was updated with additional historical photographs, revisions from ongoing research, new coin values and certified-coin populations, and fresh market commentary.

In November 2012 (copyright date of 2013) Whitman 
published The Private Sketchbook of George T. Morgan, America’s Silver Dollar Artist, a remarkable new book made in cooperation with the Smithsonian Institution. “Today most collectors know Morgan as the father of this legendary silver coin,” we noted. “Some specialists are familiar with his designs for commemoratives and medals, and his significant work in U.S. pattern coins. But who exactly was George T. Morgan?

 Karen M. Lee, a curator of the National Numismatic Collection housed at the National Museum of American History, finally answers that intriguing question. Introducing Morgan’s never-before-published personal sketchbook, and with unique access to family photographs and documents, Lee reveals the man behind the coins. The Private Sketchbook of George T. Morgan is an eye-opening immersion into what Lee calls the designer’s ‘life of art and labor.’” This book, like the others mentioned here, went on to win literary awards.

Next, in 2014, a new Whitman book was published, authored by Michael “Miles” Standish assisted by the research/writing team of Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker. In Morgan Dollar: America’s Love Affair With a Legendary Coin, various sections discuss the United States during the Morgan dollar era; the anatomy of the coin’s design; a market study going back to 1946; a year-by-year analysis of the series, including Philadelphia, New Orleans, Carson City, Denver, and San Francisco coins; and Morgan dollar Proofs.

Exciting New Discoveries in the Fifth and Sixth Editions

The fifth edition of the Guide Book of Morgan Silver Dollars featured the requisite updated pricing, a useful new index, fresh illustrations, and the exciting announcement of a startling discovery: information never before published, the story of the 1964 Morgan dollar. This made national headlines, stirred up the hobby’s imagination, and got people talking. Could we have expected anything less from the wonderful and legendary Morgan dollar?

The sixth edition, which debuted in March 2019, continues the ongoing exploration, conversation, and fascination with these classic coins. We have dramatically increased our coverage of the 1964 Morgan dollar. A new appendix describes a serious threat to the hobby: counterfeit coins. We’ve expanded the index, a helpful tool for navigating the book. And again we’ve updated the coin-by-coin catalog with current pricing and new certified-population data.


The King of American Coins

The Morgan dollar continues to fascinate experienced numismatists and curious laymen alike. It is linked historically to the U.S. Mint’s earliest silver dollars, and connected to the modern dollar coins of later generations. If you learn about its history, design, engraving, production, distribution, and market, you get a richly detailed immersion in every aspect of American coinage. The Morgan silver dollar will always be the King of American Coins.


Dennis Tucker is the publisher of Whitman Publishing, LLC; numismatic specialist on the Treasury Department’s Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee; and author of American Gold and Silver: U.S. Mint Collector and Investor Coins and Medals, Bicentennial to Date.


#    #    #

A Guide Book of Morgan Silver Dollars, sixth edition

By Q. David Bowers; foreword by Adam Crum

ISBN 0794846424 •   6 x 9 inches, softcover, 320 pages, full color   •   Retail $19.95 U.S.




Robert Shippee’s $1.5 million type-coin collection—is studied in delightful detail in the new 2nd edition of Pleasure and Profit: 100 Lessons for Building and Selling a Collection of Rare Coins. Q. David Bowers calls it “one of the most useful books in American numismatics” and says “It will change the way you collect coins.” 328 pages, full color. Order your copy for $19.95 
, or call 1-800-546-2995.


The December 2018 issue of Chopmark News has been published.  The newsletter of the Chopmark Collectors Club is edited by Colin Gullberg. Here's the table of contents.  

Meet our Members: Bernard Olij

Coins from the Bernard Olij Collection

Coins from Our Members’ Collections

Article—Modern Chinese Chop-marked Copper Coins 

By: C. Cheung

Countermark on a
Chopped Mexican
Pillar Dollar Host: A
Collector’s Dream

By: E. Yap

Currency Circulation
in the Qing Dynasty

Translated by:
T. Tseng

John Lorenzo

For more information, contact Colin Gullberg at: 

chopmarknews at



Roger Siboni submitted this announcement of the passing of colonial numismatist and coin photographer Neil Rothschild.

It is with great sadness that I report the passing of our good friend, Neil S. Rothschild (1956-2019). Neil, one of the great scholars of Connecticut Coppers, passing so closely after his longtime collaborator, Robert Martin, makes this all that much more difficult and sad. Neil was a renaissance man. He pursued so many directions in life, and in every one he achieved a level of subject mastery and skill. Perhaps that is why over the last few decades we spent so much time together; there was always something fascinating going on with Neil.

Besides his enormous contributions to numismatics, Neil founded and led his own software company for decades. He was a great birder, taking some of the most amazing shots ever 
( Neil was also a seriously accomplished astronomer, specifically an astro-photographer ( I can remember one night in particular when he figured out the newly discovered Comet Lulin would be streaking by the New York area. We set up out in my backyard on a cold winter night around 1:00 am -- telescopes, computers, cameras, charts, infra red -- and several curious neighbors looking out their bedroom windows! Neil caught Lulin just as it was streaking by Saturn with its rings on display. The shot was later featured in Sky and Telescope! 

Or the night he caught every aspect of the total eclipse of the moon. Or that one winter that it was so cold that for the first time ever it froze the lagoon in my backyard "almost" solidly. Neil convinced me to go outside with him and take a walk on it. Jack Howes was having no part of it, so he took the picture. But later, Neil convinced Jack too (how many times will we get the chance he said?!?!?!?). 

Roger Siboni and Neil Rothschild

And while Neil was everyone's go-to in the Colonial coin photography world for a few decades, he was everyone's go-to for photography in the Renaissance Fair world, particularly in jousting! I think one of Neil's proudest shots was capturing two mounted jousters, heading full speed at each other. Neil caught the two of them making direct tip to tip contact as the lances exploded into a shower of splinters ( 

I challenge you to find a Renaissance fair that does not feature one of these images. Neil was also a serious scuba diver, but for health reasons, gave it up in favor of skydiving! So while we have not seen as much of Neil in the past 4 or 5 years as we used to, he was a busy man.

I first encountered Neil in numismatics "virtually" on the old dial-up Comp U Serve Coin Chat Forum that used to meet on Monday nights when I was still collecting Large cents and was just transitioning into New Jersey Coppers. We always seemed to be the first on and the last off and even then started a little New Jersey vs. Connecticut Copper rivalry. Honestly, I would have never imagined back then, living in California, Neil in Baltimore, chatting "online" that we would have ever end up becoming the friends we did. But as we both became more immersed in our respective specialties, Neil had every bit as much passion for Connecticuts as I did for New Jersey Coppers. And he soon set about building digitally what Robert Martin had been doing in analog for the past twenty years!

It is no wonder they would soon meet and collaborate for decades, helping to build each other's massive Connecticut resources for the hobby. But Neil brought one more thing. Like everything else, he would get to know virtually every aspect of everything he got involved with. He understood digital cameras and how they interfaced to a laptop and rendered a digital image better than anyone I ever met -- in Silicon Valley, Tokyo or otherwise. So who else to figure out how to take exact real image shots of dark flat metal discs than Neil?

 I remember one week I came back to New Jersey from San Francisco with my brand new, one of the very first, hot off the assembly line, 5th Gen Picture iPods. Neil and I spent the following week taking digital photographs of my collection and figuring out how to download them into my Mac. Transfer them into to the old iPhoto, straining all the technology and very limited memory of that iPod, downloading the images in there and taking my collection in my shirt-pocket to Baltimore. Quite a stir!  

Neil was the Colonial collecting community's go to photographer. I would bet more than one in five non-auction house colonial coin pictures in any publication you have seen over the last twenty years was taken by Neil.

Neil was that good. Unfortunately, demand was too high, and Neil was too much of a perfectionist. So output could never keep up with demand and from time to time it frustrated a few. It frustrated Neil too. But how often does perfect come free? We all received so much from Neil.

A brightly burning light extinguished far too soon. But a life well lived. Rest in peace my dear friend.

Jack Howes added this remembrance.

It was very sad to hear that Neil had died.  I had not seen him much in the last couple years as he had become inactive in numismatics.  

I first met Neil at Roger Siboni's about 15 years ago.  Neil was taking pictures of coins with what I thought was very interesting photographic equipment.  He was more than happy to show me what he was doing and tell me why he was using that particular equipment -- Nikon.  He was a life long Nikon user.  I still remember those long discussions!  Neil taught me all I know about macro photography.  But Neil did more than just coin photography.  He was an amazing bird photographer.  Among the best I have ever known.  

I started using Nikon digital cameras and lenses shortly thereafter.  Neil used a 105mm macro lens and a monster light stand for coin photography but he could only get that equipment from one place to another by driving.  He claimed that was not really any imposition as he did not like to fly.  Which amazed me when at some later point he showed me images of him sky diving!

Sometimes at Siboni's Neil would bring his telescopes -- two Celestrons.  And we would be up late into the night using them.

Neil will be missed by everyone who knew him.


ANN M. ZAKELJ (1947-2019)

Michael E. Marotta submitted this remembrance of his friend Ann M. Zakelj. Thank you.

Ann came to numismatics late in life bringing a special passion supported by many years of
world travel, a facility for languages, broad reading, keen insight, and deep reflection.

We met in Cleveland, Ohio, 1996, when I was a contractor with the U. S. Department of Defense
Financial Accounting Service (DFAS). When she handed me her card, I read her name as “Za-
kelly.” She corrected me. “Zay-kell,” she said. “The j is silent.” In my cubie, I had a picture of the
Greek goddess Eirene carrying the infant Ploutos. Most people assumed that it was the Virgin
Mary and Christ Child, but she identified it correctly. It was the beginning of a beautiful
friendship. We attended the ANA conventions in Cleveland (1997), Cincinnati (1998), New York
(2002), and Pittsburgh (2004).

Ann was very active in her church, St. Vitas, and for them, and others, she crafted proscenia, and
other decorations. So, when Ann began collecting ancient coins, her aesthetic judgment always
brought her the best examples for the price. Her primary interest was for classical Greek, but she
also worked hard on the Severan dynasty, especially the women. Eye-appeal was more
important than completeness; and she was an eclectic gatherer, rather than a focused hunter.

In a casual conversation, we agreed that the coins of Alexander the Great probably portrayed
Alexander, and we set out to prove it. We spent over 18 months assembling research, meeting in
restaurants, and exchanging information in emails. We published “Portraits and
Representations of Alexander the Great,” in The Celator, Vol 16., no. 7, (July 2002).

Ann loved to travel and had been to every continent but preferred Europe, especially the Balkans
where she had many cousins. Her easy skill with languages served her well. On Rhodes, they
thought she was Turkish. In Istanbul, her accent sounded Greek. But it was never a problem
because she had a winning personality. She was a natural extrovert and probably got the Sphinx
to talk. Ann was born in Austria on March 10, 1947, and passed away peacefully among family,
on February 13, 2019.


DR. RAINER OPITZ (1954-2019)

Fritz Rudolf Künker penned this remembrance of Dr. Rainer Opitz.

„To achieve the possible, we must attempt the impossible again and again.”  

- Hermann Hesse

The German numismatic community has lost a visionary: Dr. Rainer Opitz passed away at the
age of 64 on February 7, 2019.

The businessman Rainer Opitz is known in the numismatic world for his dedication to coins
and medals of the history of the Reformation.

For Rainer Opitz, the 500th anniversary of the “Revolution”, initiated by Martin Luther’s
posting of the Theses on the door of All Saint’s Church in Wittenberg and the subsequent
schism of the Roman-Catholic Church in Europe, remained the pivotal historical event that
decisively shaped his life as a collector. Luther and the Reformation massively changed the
political landscape in Germany, but also in Europe. The division of the Church was deeply
rooted in people’s consciousness and the distrust of other denominations has fundamentally
influenced societal life, at least in Germany, up to the present day.

The denominational schism was further intensified by the societal changes after the Second
World War. The expulsion of Germans from the eastern provinces Pomerania, Silesia and
East Prussia, as well as the Sudeten-Germans from Czechoslovakia resulted in an entirely new
confrontation in a Germany reduced in size and split into two countries: in the western part,
the Federal Republic of Germany was established as a parliamentary democracy; in the east,
the German Democratic Republic (which German chancellor Konrad Adenauer often
defamatorily referred to it as the “Soviet zone”), was set up as a one-party state, dependent on
Moscow, a dictatorship of Stalinist character under the governance of the SED (= Socialist
Unity Party).

The economic boom of the Federal Republic of Germany would not have been possible
without the new citizens from the east. The intermingling of expellees and “old” citizens
nevertheless resulted in numerous conflicts, not least because of the numerous mixed
marriages between Catholics and Protestants. It took too long until the positive development
of ecumenism began. The issue is as relevant as ever today, seeing as the Roman-Catholic
Church finds itself in an existential crisis triggered by countless scandals and crimes of clerics
in connection to sexual abuse. The key demands of abolishing celibacy for Catholic clerics
and of strengthening the influence of women are extremely important for the Catholic Church
today, even though the papacy appears to struggle with accepting fundamental changes. These
deep sociological questions were probably something Rainer Opitz pondered along with his
enthusiasm for coin collecting.

In a very personal conversation several years ago, he confided in me that he was terminally ill
and that the future of his health and personal life was uncertain. He said that was the reason
why he decided to have his collection sold by the auction house Künker. It was very important
to him that the comprehensive book on his own collection that he initiated would be published
by Künker. Unfortunately, he did not get the chance to see the work for himself. It will be
published in 2019, which is an honor and the expression of our respect at the same time.

In 2017, Oliver Köpp wrote a portrait about the collector Rainer Opitz in the context of our
Auction 297, which shall be republished at this point.

His widow Sabine Reif cited Hermann Hesse in her obituary for Rainer Opitz. The actions
and aspirations of Rainer Opitz are perfectly summarized in the quote: “To achieve the
possible, we must attempt the impossible again and again.” During Rainer Opitz’s memorial
at the Kunstforum in Potsdam, this motto, which Rainer Opitz used to motivate his employees
and friends, was repeatedly emphasized. His strong leadership qualities allowed Rainer Opitz
to go far, while never losing his authenticity: 13,000 employees work at his company promota
GmbH today.

His social-minded attitude made him a role model in the eyes of his employees. Whenever the
demanding and strong-willed businessman and his propensity for discussions strained the
nerves of his managers to the breaking point, one fact remained certain for everyone: for
Rainer Opitz , it was always about the matter he wanted to promote. He may well have
acquired his ascribed leadership qualities during his career in the GDR’s National People’s
Army. After finishing his PhD in philosophy at the Humboldt University in Berlin, he was
promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel of the NPA during the late stage of the GDR.

Rainer Opitz leaves a big gap in both his family and his company. The world of numismatics
will miss the enthusiastic collector who will be remembered through his field of research and
collection “Reformatio in Nummis”.

Osnabrück, February 28th, 2019

Fritz Rudolf Künker


Here are additional thoughts excerpted from an August 2017 article by Oliver Köpp.

Rainer Opitz was born in 1954 in the district seat of Sebnitz at the edge of the Sächsische
Schweiz National Park. As is the case with most coin collectors, his numismatic interest was
stimulated during his youth, when he came in contact with imperial German coins in the
possession of his family.

At the age of 14 he did not undergo the “youth dedication”, as was customary at that time in
the GDR, but rather was confirmed in the German Lutheran church in 1968. One year later
the schoolboy acquired his first medal, which was associated with the Reformation. For 5 D-
marks, in an Intershop, he bought the copper medal issued by the German Democratic
Republic commemorating the 450th anniversary of the Reformation.

In 1981 he had a propitious meeting with the Potsdam numismatist Jürgen Koppatz, author of
the book “Banknotes of the German Empire”. Koppatz urged Rainer to focus his collecting
activity on numismatics involving the Reformation, and to develop a collection concept. In
the same year Rainer began a studies program in philosophy with the emphasis “Theory and
History of Religion” at the Humboldt University in Berlin, from which he graduated in 1985.
>From 1987 to 1990 Rainer Opitz worked toward a doctoral degree in the historic relationship
between religion and the military, which simultaneously served as the theoretical basis for his
collective topic. During this time, the peaceful revolution in the GDR took place and
Germany was reunified. In the transition period, Rainer Opitz left his career in science and
assumed a leading position with a Bielefeld commercial company.

In 1983 in Zurich, the ca. 1,000-item collection of Prof. Robert Whiting with the theme
“Martin Luther and the Reformation in Coins and Medals” was auctioned. The acquisition of
the collection catalogue was a landmark experience for Rainer: while the study of the
catalogue brought new impulses, his initial euphoria was followed by the recognition that his
subject appeared to have already been extensively collected and presented. However, his
initial frustration did not last long, for Rainer ascertained that many aspects of the
Reformation’s minted history were still untouched. This realization spurred the ambitious
collector on.

In 2001 Rainer Opitz resigned from his job and founded his own service business. Its
economic success enabled him to indulge in his collecting activity to a greater extent, and
much more systematically. In the intervening period he had made numerous contacts in the
numismatic world, not only to auction houses and coin dealers but to collectors as well, such
as Werner Beck of Solingen, with whose support he began to build a library – which is now
quite extensive – on “Reformatio in Nummis”.


The latest addition to the Newman Numismatic Portal 
is the Rare Coin Review. Project Coordinator Len Augsburger provided the following report.

With the kind permission of PCGS president Brett Charville, Newman Portal is pleased to announce the availability of the Bowers & Merena house organ, Rare Coin Review, on Newman Portal. This publication ran from 1969 (then under the Hathaway & Bowers banner) until 2003, likely the longest such emission in American numismatic history 
(Stack’s Numismatic Review is also in the running). 

Rare Coin Review appeared bimonthly for most of its life, and contained feature articles, coins presented at fixed prices, auction previews, and copious commentary from Q. David Bowers on numismatic matters large and small. Sometimes, the small matters were the more interesting! On a personal note, this was the publication that drew the present writer back into numismatics after graduating from college. 

Rare Coin Review attracted some of the best writers in the field, as authors were simply more happy to write for Dave than for other editors. The coin offerings were of course the main draw for most readers, and one might find anything from a rare colonial to popular coins like Morgan dollars. There was always something for everyone, from the beginning collector to the specialist, and this was no doubt a great part of its appeal.

House organs such as Rare Coin Review are often overlooked as a source of information, yet they can be a gold mine of valuable data and research.  Seen more as ephemeral selling tools, they are read and set aside (or even tossed aside - it takes a dedicated bibliophile to assemble a complete set).  Like Len, I became ever-more intrigued with the hobby through RCR articles - in my case, ones on encased postage stamps and merchant counterstamps.  

As I grew into a numismatic bibliophile I became fascinated with the house organs of yesteryear such as The Elder Monthly, Mehl's Numismatic Monthly and Kelly's Coins and Chatter, all of which contain interesting and often important information later forgotten by the community at large.  Many thanks to PCGS and NNP for making RCR available to collectors and researchers everywhere.

Link to Rare Coin Review on Newman Portal:


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