The E-Sylum v22n44 November 3, 2019

The E-Sylum esylum at
Sun Nov 3 16:35:46 PST 2019

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

Volume 22, Number 44, November 3, 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: 
Tristyn Vineyard, courtesy of Jeffrey Zarit; and
Dean Zimmerman.
Welcome aboard! We now have 6,006 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, a preview and two reviews, plus updates from the Newman Numismatic Portal and several interesting reader comments.

Other topics this week include gallantry medals, collector Charles Roberts, personnel changes at the ANS, the U.S. Mint numismatic forum, the future of coin conventions, auction highlights from Archives International, a very, very early silver bar, a Byzantine coin find, a Chinese coin sword, Zodiac mohurs, and Brexit coins.

To learn more about Nebraska tokens, mudlarking, Tell-A-Coin Guide Wheels, how to tell an obverse from a reverse, circulating contemporary counterfeit coins, Numismatic Scrapbook,  the circulation of Spanish-American silver in Scotland, “raw” medals, the Tuesday Club medal, the Marlene Dietrich banknote and the coin featuring Donkey from Shrek, read on. Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren 
Editor, The E-Sylum



Jim Ehlers and the Nebraska Token Collectors Club are producing a new edition of their Nebraska Trade Tokens book.

Nebraska Trade Tokens 2020 Third edition

Compiled and edited by Jim Ehlers and the Nebraska Token Collectors Club. 

We published our last reference book in 2009 and felt it was time for a complete update. I have added well over 2000 new tokens, updated the rarity guide, corrected past listing errors, added more historical information and dates the merchants were in business, and of course it has a maverick index. Due to the increased pages and cost of printing we went to a 2 volume set which is spiral ring bound with laminated covers and contains about 900 pages. We are planning on having the book available by mid March (hopefully sooner). Pre-publication price for the 2 volume set is $80.00 plus $8.00 postage if we receive your order by Dec. 31st, 2019. Orders received after Jan. 1, 2020 the price will be $90.00 plus $8.00 postage. 

Payments can be made by check or money order payable to NETCC (Nebraska Token Collectors Club) send to Jerry Bentzinger 15671 Marcy Street Omaha, Ne 68118. If you would like a email confirming receipt of your order let Jerry know your email address. For additional information contact: Jim Ehlers 2540 E. 21st St. Fremont, Ne 68025 Email 
jehlers4 at


The new 2nd edition of Robert D. Leonard Jr.’s Curious Currency: The Story of Money From the Stone Age to the Internet Age is now available, with updated information on e-gold and PayPal, proximity payments, cryptocurrencies, and more. Winner of the Numismatic Literary Guild’s “Best Specialized Book, World Coins” award. Order your copy for $16.95
, or call 1-800-546-2995.



This article submitted by Whitman's Dennis Tucker includes more sample pages from Bill Bierly's upcoming book on the "In God We Trust" motto.  Thanks!

Sometimes in the numismatic world, it can seem like there’s nothing new under the sun—as if
every subject has been researched, every story told. This is an illusion. In reality, numismatics is
a living, breathing discipline, rich with ongoing study, startling discoveries, and freshly revealed
connections that span the depth and breadth of human experience. The story that William Bierly
has woven together in his new book, In God We Trust, illustrates this vibrancy.

I met Bill several years ago after a meeting of the Chicago Coin Club, held at the American
Numismatic Association’s annual World’s Fair of Money. We were introduced by Robert
Leonard (another member of the Club, and a Whitman author). Bob assured me that Bill had a
very promising manuscript proposal. Our conversation that followed convinced me that he was
on to something big, something new and significant.

Many coin collectors know little of the national motto, “In God We Trust,” beyond the
knowledge summed up in a single sentence in the “Two-Cent Pieces” section of the Guide Book
of United States Coins (the “Red Book”): “The motto IN GOD WE TRUST appeared for the first
time on the new coin, with the personal support of Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase.” The
words are factual. But that’s like saying, “Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United
States in 1860 and served during the Civil War”—and allowing this to be the sum of your
knowledge of the man!

Articles about the motto have been published in numismatic magazines and journals over the
years. None have approached the detail and intricacy that Bill Bierly brought to his research.
>From time to time, mainstream (non-numismatic) writers also mention “In God We Trust,” often
when school prayer, public prayer, the separation of Church and State, atheist lawsuits, and
similar subjects are in the headlines. Articles in popular publications often gloss over the details,
and sometimes even get the facts wrong.

To set the record straight, Bill Bierly has followed leads, researched in archives and libraries,
interviewed historians local and national, and gathered images. He has tracked down and
dispelled rumors and half-true tales. And he has expanded the context of “In God We Trust” to
show how the Civil War changed American banking, finance, and business forever. The result of
his work is a fascinating exploration of a simple but profound four-word motto that has appeared
on hundreds of billions of U.S. coins and paper-money notes.

In God We Trust is an important addition to the body of historical research, and a sterling
example of how numismatics touches every aspect of American life.

#    #    #

In God We Trust: The American Civil War, Money, Banking, and Religion

By William Bierly; foreword by Q. David Bowers

ISBN 0794845282

Hardcover, 6 x 9 inches, 352 pages, full color

Retail $29.95 U.S.                                                  

For more information, or to order, see:


To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: 




Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing passed along this review of The 100 Greatest U.S. Coins by megacollector Dell Loy Hansen, who is working to assemble a complete collection of circulation-strike U.S. coins.
The book has just been updated to its fifth edition.

The 100 Greatest U.S. Coins, now in its fifth edition, by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth, has been a valuable constant in the ever-changing sea of coin collecting. As a casual collector in my early twenties, I was always intrigued by coins, and I enjoyed opening my album with my U.S. type set. Once I was established in my career and had some free time to consider the hobby again, I ran across this volume and my interest was rekindled. Initially, I was drawn to the $20 Saint-Gaudens double eagles. Several months later I was able to complete that set and my collecting habit hit a wall.

It was then that I decided to study further designs and denominations. Once I examined the beautiful examples of some of America’s best artwork within the pages of the 100 Greatest U.S. Coins, I was inspired to dust off my collector hat and go treasure hunting once again. Determined to reach an almost impossible goal of widening my collection to include an example of every circulation-strike U.S. coin, I found myself flipping through the book yet again as I strategized my way from impossible dream to attainable reality.

Now, a few years into my goal to eclipse the famous collection of Louis Eliasberg by stretching the date range from 1792 to the present, I continue my quest and grow closer to its resting point. The nearness to my goal only whets my appetite for solid resources with accurate histories and beautiful artistry. The quality craftsmanship of 100 Greatest U.S. Coins once again rises to the top of my stacks, each edition serving to make the book richer and more deeply compelling than the last. With this newest edition, I look forward to delving even more into this one-of-a-kind treasure map. An irreplaceable title, it has become one of my favorite go-to items in my library and is a numismatic classic in its own right.

If it’s true that behind every great collection stands a persistent adventurer with a treasure map rolled up in his back pocket, this book is that map. And like any treasure, the coins found inside are as tantalizing as they are timeless.

   #    #    #

Dell Loy Hansen, a lifelong resident of Utah, began his career as a homebuilder during college at Utah State University, then went on to become a developer, investor, and creator. In 2016 he found time to return to his former hobby of coin collecting. He soon committed to pursuing a collection that would exceed even that of Louis Eliasberg, expanding on the latter’s collection dates to include coins up to the present year. After three years on his “Eliasberg” quest he has very nearly reached his goal.

            Hansen is the founder and chief executive officer of the Wasatch Group and owner of the major-league soccer club Real Salt Lake. In 2018 he partnered with John Brush to purchase David Lawrence Rare Coins.

   #    #    #

100 Greatest U.S. Coins, 5th edition

By Jeff Garrett with Ron Guth; foreword by Dell Loy Hansen

ISBN 0794846475

Hardcover, coffee-table (10 x 12 inches)

144 pages

Full color

Retail $29.95 U.S.                                                            

NOTE: The new fifth edition hasn't been discussed before in The E-Sylum.  For more information on the book itself, see the earlier article on the fourth edition.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: 





We've often discussed the numismatic finds of "mudlarks", the people who comb the banks of London's Thames River in search of old coins, artifacts and other residue of the centuries-old city.  Here's an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal review of a new book on these people and their finds.

London’s Thames is a tidal river. The height between high and low water can vary from 22 feet to 15, revealing yards of muddy foreshore at its ebb. Until the early 20th century, the city’s poorest—mostly old women and children—eked out a living by dredging this sludge for coal, rope and bits of iron, which they would sell for a pittance. The Victorian journalist and reformer Henry Mayhew estimated that by the mid-1880s there were around 280 “mudlarks” plashing their way through the mire, pursuing their slim pickings with “a stolid look of wretchedness,” rags stiff, “bodies bent down while they peer anxiously about.”

If Victorian mudlarking was a matter of miserable necessity, then modern mudlarking, an activity halfway between archaeology and beachcombing, is becoming something of an urban craze. The pastime of hunting for washed-up “treasure” in the muddy flats of the Thames has increased in popularity to the point where entire areas have been left pitted by excavation, and a special license is now needed if you want to use a metal detector or dig below the crust of the mud. Mudlarking even has a literature of its own: Its chroniclers include Simon Wilcox, author of the travelogue “Mudlark River: Down the Thames With a Victorian Map” (2014), and Ted Sandling, whose gorgeously illustrated “London in Fragments: A Mudlark’s Treasures” (2016) offers an irresistible introduction to the thrill of the hunt.

Enter Lara Maiklem, who has been combing the 95 miles of the foreshore for more than a decade. “Mudlark” is her engrossing front-line report from “a world of escapees and obsessives” who think nothing of scaling the perilous riverside ladders at odd hours, dressed in waterproofs and latex gloves, on the lookout for whatever traces of the past the river might spit up. Usually these are “the tiniest of objects”: “buttons that burst off waistcoats long ago, rings that slipped from fingers, buckles that are all that’s left of a shoe.” These are the personal possessions, as she enthuses, of ordinary people—“each small piece a key to another world and a direct link to long-forgotten lives.”

Until the mid-20th century such fragments were regarded as mere bric-a-brac, or history out of context at best. Today, however, the foreshore is acknowledged as an important archaeological site. Thames mud is a remarkable preservative. It is anaerobic, which means it lacks oxygen, so that materials that would normally perish—wood, leather, iron and fabric—emerge from it looking just as they did when they fell into the river. Ms. Maiklem takes us on a tour of the city’s “riverine history book” that follows the eastward passage of the Thames itself, from its tidal head at Teddington to its confluence with the North Sea at the Estuary. It’s a riveting crash course not only in the history of London from prehistoric times to the present, but also in urban geography and how to read a living environment from organic clues.

To read the complete article, see: 

‘Mudlark’ Review: The Stories the River Can Tell


For more information, or to order on Amazon, see: 

Mudlark: In Search of London's Past Along the River Thames 1st Edition




The latest addition to the Newman Numismatic Portal is a Tell-A-Coin Guide Wheel for Lincoln Cents. Project Coordinator Len Augsburger provided the following report.

Recently added to Newman Portal are a number of images from the Eclectic Numismatic Treasure collection. Included is this “Tell-a-Coin” guide wheel, copyright 1958 by Disc-A-Log. This device was obviously intended as a rudimentary guide to grading and pricing Lincoln cents, and variants are known for Buffalo nickels, Mercury dimes, and Standing Liberty quarters). 

The wheel allows the user to price each coin in the series in three grades, Good, Fine, or Uncirculated, by rotating the wheel to the desired date at the right. Invented at a time when the popularity of coin collecting was rapidly increasing, the device might have been marketed along with coin folders or other supplies. Its ultimate utility seems dubious – the same information was available in many other places, most notably the Guide Book. Perhaps this novelty was simply more “fun” to use? In any case, there are many unanswered questions – who manufactured these, who sold them, and who used them?

Can anyone help?  Who was behind the Disc-A-Log company?

Link to Eclectic Numismatic Treasure image collections on Newman Portal:



These are selections from the David Lisot Video Library that feature news and personalities from the world of coin collecting. David has been attending coin conventions since 1972 and began videotaping in 1985. The Newman Numismatic Portal now lists all David’s videos on their website at:

Here's one on the recent US Mexican Numismatic Association convention in Scottsdale, AZ.

US Mexican Numismatic Convention Opening & Awards Ceremony 2019: VIDEO: 11:08.

Cory Frampton & Kent Ponterio, Directors, US Mexican Numismatic Association, David Lisot, Video Producer,

The 8th Annual US Mexican Numismatic Association was held again in Scottsdale. The convention hosts a welcoming poolside event where awards were handed out for best articles and service to the organization. Find out why this convention is a place where collectors and dealers want to come.

An excerpt of the video is available for viewing on the Coin Television YouTube Channel at:



Last week's article by Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing on the new edition of A Guide Book of United States Type Coins by Dave Bowers  mentions the internal Whitman Style Guide.

Dennis wrote:

I remember well the many conversations we had on what constitutes a “type” versus a “subtype” or “variety.” Nomenclature wasn’t completely standardized within the hobby community. (It still isn’t, today.) Was the Braided Hair large cent properly divided into the Young Head and Matron Head types? Was the half cent of 1840 to 1857 the Coronet type, or the Braided Hair type? Did Christian Gobrecht’s nineteenth-century silver coins show “Seated Liberty” or “Liberty Seated”? Some writers referred to Franklin half dollars as the “Franklin Head” type. Should trade dollar be capitalized or not? Much of this terminology had long been standardized within the Red Book and the Blue Book, but Dave Bowers’s study and classification of coin types for his new book revealed opportunities for clarification and, in some cases, change.

All of this discussion was very useful because we were also organizing a comprehensive new “Whitman Style Guide” to apply across the width and breadth of all the company’s books, folders, albums, and other hobby products.

For reference, here are the coin images from the previous article.

I asked:

What exactly is the definition of obverse and reverse?  Three of the illustrated coins have the denomination, eagle and country on the reverse, and the date on the obverse.  But the Philippine peso is different - the denomination and country are on the obverse and the date is on the reverse.

I know this is never easy, but how does your guide parse the  Philippine coin?

Here's a thoughtful response from Dennis. Thanks!

Great question, and I don’t have a tidy answer!

US/Philippine coins have been featured in the Red Book since 1960. They’ve always been cataloged therein with the FILIPINAS side (as opposed to the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA side) set as the obverse. Of course, longstanding tradition alone isn’t enough reason for “the ways things are done” in the Red Book, although it does carry some weight. (As we bibliomaniacs know, the Red Book has its share of peccadilloes; we constantly get letters and emails about “Why is this British token included in a book on U.S. coins?!” and sometimes the answer is simply, “That’s what the hobby community has come to collect and regard as ‘American’ over the past 150 years.”)

Regarding the USPI coins: I would have to check the legislation and early Mint/Treasury records to see if there was any official designation of which side was which. That might have been Yeoman’s guide from the start, and I don’t recall offhand (not that I was around back then!) if any reasoning was ever documented.

Interestingly, I had a conversation with QDB and some other folks this week about whether USPI coins should be considered “foreign coins struck by the United States.”

A great topic, and one that will probably never have any tidy answers.  The world of numismatics is complex, as is the larger world around it.  But to the extent that humans can bring some sense of order to the world, it helps our understanding and communication about the issues.  Classification systems are a worthy endeavor and goal even if a perfect end state is likely unobtainable.  They help us ask the right questions, and that's the first step in finding answers.  Thanks, Dennis.

This discussion has been about U.S. coins, and more specifically about how they are described in the Whitman family of publications.  I haven't researched other definitions of the terms 'obverse' and 'reverse'.  That would be an interesting study, and I'm sure usage has shifted at least somewhat over time.  How do other numismatic publishers address this question today?

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: 





Last week John Sallay submitted this grisly award medal for reader assistance.  

ANA Edition Jeremy Schneider writes:

"Seeing the headless soldier medal, my first thought was French Revolution?  Purely speculation, but based on the date, inscription, and clothing this would be my best guess."

Alan V Weinberg writes:

"Extraordinary graphics on John Sallay’s unique hand-engraved medal. I’ve always had a collector’s fondness for early, skillfully hand-engraved medals, each one by its nature unique.

"My perception of the image of the uniformed officer piggy-backing on a bloody headless victim:
a comment on either the civilian victims of a warring military OR a comment on officers staying behind the lines in safety as the common soldiers bear the brunt of the war violence.

"In any case an image unlike any I’ve seen before except for the socially critical images found on select 
British Conder  tokens."

John Lupia writes:

"John Sallay is amazing to have the wits to select this political medal during the heat of tensions between Germans, French, and the British. It seems reasonable and fair to say this is no academic award, at least no academy or school is known to have such issue or else it would have been readily recognized. So the next thought went to clubs like the Tuesday Club. This is where I believe this sort of ribald political joke makes its home. 

"Antoine de Rivarol, Causes of the Universality of the French Language (1784) published this work receiving a medal, the Berlin Academy Prize. It was translated from the French in 1789. This work criticizes England, the English, and the English language. I suspect the headless figure to be Count de Rivarol, which the editor of The Monthly, January-April, 1790, page 278, footnote points out how the translator calls him Count de Rigmarole. When he was moved to the head of the class he apparently left it there."

Political satire is timeless, although the meaning can become lost on subsequent generations.  John Lupia's suggestion is quite plausible.  

John Sallay writes:

"I tracked down the article in The Monthly (January-April, 1790, pages 278-280) that John Lupia references. Both he and Alan Weinberg could be on to something, though satirizing not only the Count de Rivole, but also Prussian King Frederick the Second, and the French author of a biography of Frederick which had been translated into English in 1789.

"This article from The Monthly with the footnote (page 279) referring to the Count de Rivarole is a book review of a translation from the French of “The Life of Frederick the Second, King of Prussia” by J. Charles Laveaux (London, printed for J. Debrett, 1789). The review is extremely and satirically negative, sparing few opportunities to pillory both the French writer and the German King Frederick. The key passage from the review describing the King’s cowardice, which Alan suggests, is:

"M. de Laveaux, among other absurdities which he has copied from that writer, presents us with the anecdote which speaks of his Majesty's terror at the beginning of the battle of Sorr, of his flying from it, and of his having concealed himself in a mill, at a considerable distance from the field of action. A very likely story! and which he has improved by the following witticism: 'Wits have repeated on this occasion, what was said of a French general, who had likewise hid himself in a mill during a battle in which his troops were victorious: He has covered himself with glory – and with flour *. (with the asterisk referring to the footnote that John identified).

"Pending another explanation, this does seem like a plausible explanation, or at least a solid lead. It doesn’t clarify whether this medal might have been made for a school, social club, or other setting, but it certainly provides a line of attack for some further digging. Many thanks to both Alan and John for their insights."

Thanks, everyone - very interesting item!
For some background on the above-mentioned Tuesday Club medal, see another article elsewhere in this issue.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: 





 Winston Zack Book Signing in Baltimore
In his David Kahn Rare Coins November 2019 News and Newps newsletter
David Kahn writes:

"Our good friend, noted researcher and very accomplished author Winston Zack has just published a fabulous new book on counterfeit US coins titled, Bad Metal, Circulating Contemporary Counterfeit United States Coins.  This first volume, a 265 page, full-color masterwork, covers copper and nickel coins, and in great, very-well researched detail.  

"I have been an avid collector of these coins since the mid 1980's, and have wanted to read this book since then.  Now, I can do just that, and so can you!  We have the books in stock here at the office, and they will make their debut at our Baltimore table, #930.  Winston will be there as well to sign your new book, if you wish, and he will also have a special, introductory sale price in effect.  If you can't make the show, I'm sure we can still get you a signed copy at the special price, plus shipping, of course.  After the show, they will be listed on our website."

For more information on the book,  see the earlier E-Sylum article linked below.  Be sure to stop by Dave's table if you're at the show later this month.  I expect to be there Friday afternoon.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: 



 Thoughts on Numismatic Scrapbook
Jeff Zarit writes:

"I recently purchased a set of Numismatic Scrapbook Magazines from the 1950’s-1970’s on eBay as the information in them is just as pertinent today as it was then. The advertisements, however, are very strange. And many of them are laughable. However, there seemed to be a great amount of material for sale; I wonder what happened to it?

"On any article I read last night about the 1913 ‘V’ nickel, it said that there were 2 proofs struck and 3 business strike. I did not know that. It also said that the first time these were displayed in 1920, there was a copper Buffalo nickel included, but a couple of issues later, a numismatist who purchased the estate of that owner, said that the Buffalo nickel was a counterfeit.

"In the 1950’s Indian head cents were trading at 5 cents each by the hundred or thousand. Civil War tokens at 60 Cents each in groups of hundreds or thousands. Just unusual quantities of such items. I wonder, 60 years later, what happened to them.

"My field of world coins (and gold was $20 per ounce then), Gothic crowns at $15 each. All the rare coins at pennies on the dollar compared to today. And many of the commoner silver crowns were very inexpensive compared to today. However not all was better. World proof sets and mint sets were advertised in many years, at prices generally higher than today, as they are not so popular today. Curacao 2 ½ Gulden Crowns 1944, were trading at $20 each, and today, I melt them.  Still the articles by Bob Julian about early US coins were top rate." 

Those were the days.  Do we have any old-timers reading this who saw or bought and sold coins and tokens in bulk back then?

 Whitman Coin Supply Merchandiser Sought
Researcher and author David Lange writes:

"Some of the best material I've found for my book on Whitman folders and albums has come from the company's newsletter for its dealers, Whitman Coin Supply Merchandiser. It seems to have been in print 1960-66, but I have just a few issues from 1965-66. I'd really like to acquire or at least examine the remaining issues, and I'm hoping that a reader may be able to supply all or some of them."

Now THAT'S an obscure periodical.  And quite useful for this research.  It would have only been available or useful to retailers (including coin dealers).  Does anyone have copies?  Dave can be reached at

DavidWLange at

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: 



 Canadian Blacksmith Coppers Facebook Group 

Moderator John Lorenzo writes:

"Since Yahoo Groups as a whole is deleting all the archive files/photos of any coin groups in/around mid-December leaving only real-time communications via E-Mail and no photo uploads, etc,  a new group has been formed on Facebook. Group name - Canadian Blacksmith Coppers. Just Search/Join."

To visit the new group on Facebook, see:

 More Paperboy Collection Lessons
Howard A. Daniel III writes:

"I read the Paperboy Collection Lessons and it reminded me of my days as a paperboy from 1952 to 1955 when I lived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and was in the 6th grade at Southeast Elementary School at the intersection of South Andrews Ave and SE 7th St, then to Naval Air Junior High School, which is now the Fort Lauderdale International Airport (a school bus took me to and from school).   I walked to and from the house my parents rented at the intersection of SE 6th St and SE 5th Ave.  After school, I like to walk home up Andrews Ave to New River and then walk along the river looking at the water and the boats.   There was an “antique” store on Andrews Ave that I used to stop in and look in a cigar box with Indian Head Cents and Liberty Head coins in it.  The prices were 5 Cents over the face value!  Not very often I would have enough to buy and Indian Head Cent. 

"I noticed some kids picking up newspapers at a nearby Miami Daily News office.  I walked in and asked if I could also sell their newspapers.  I was a skinny runt at the time and the man wanted to get rid of me but I insisted.  He asked where I lived and I told him it was only a block away from US-1.  He said no one was selling his Racing Edition in that area and that I could sell 25 copies a day.  It was quite a task to carry the newspapers home and then to the intersection of US-1 a couple of blocks south of New River at the intersection of SE 7th St.  I carried 5 papers between the lanes of cars when the light changed to red.  Many of the tourists were headed south to the race tracks and immediately cleaned me out of my Racing Editions!  I needed many more than 25 copies but there was no way I could carry them!  

"I walked into the nearby drug store and asked the manager if my papers could be delivered to just inside his store.  He agreed!  I bought a malted milk shake from him every day to thank him and myself.  The next day I told the newspaper man I need many more papers to sell.  He was quite happy.  He delivered 50 copies to the drug store and I kept raising it until I was selling 250 an afternoon within an hour or two!  I was making $12.50 a day!  Within a couple of months, I had cleaned out the cigar box and the owner held all of the coins he acquired for me to buy.  My customers also gave me coins I put into my collection, to include silver dollars! 

"My earnings were a fortune in my family so I gave my mother half of it.  I was making more than my dad but my mother and I never told him because I did not want to hurt his pride.  From that day, all of my clothes, school supplies, etc., were bought with my earnings, and that continued when I had other jobs after we moved to far west side of Fort Lauderdale, until I graduated from high school in 1959 and enlisted in the Army."  

Very resourceful!  Great story - thanks.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: 

NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: OCTOBER 27, 2019 : More Paperboy Collecting Stories



Pete Smith writes:

"Many members of the Casino Collectibles Association, previously known as Casino Chip and Gaming Token Collectors Club, produce personal chips with the same materials as casino chips. These are traded like "handshake tokens" at their annual conventions. Some include the name of the collector and some are issued without names. I have probably seen more than a hundred with Halloween themes.

"Here are images of a dozen issued by Debbie Meister, one of the prolific issuers of Halloween pieces."

Thanks.  Nicely done.


Dick Johnson submitted this entry from his Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Terminology.  Thanks.  I added an image of the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross.

 Gallantry Medal. 
A medallic item bestowed for noble and chivalrous behavior; early such medals were bestowed to knights, in modern times moreso to heroes of military action. Gallantry medals have followed the change in the definition of the word gallantry since the time of the crusades.

History of gallantry medals.  In feudal times gallantry meant the chivalrous actions of men toward women, as the knight who was charged with the protection of ladies (as during travel). This noble action was the basis for some early orders, societies of men whose purpose was civilized behavior. (Makes one wonder what uncivilized conditions existed during feudal times!) These orders (societies) sometimes took on a religious manner, in others a military nature. They were often organized by royalty. The lowest rank was the knight or chevalier, with as many as four to seven classes, the highest class would be that of the king.

The badges of these orders were considered gallantry medals and each class was more distinct than those below it. Thus the class of the badge indicated the rank of the recipient, differing by larger size, more elaborate design, more jewel encrusted, in more precious metal and such. These decorations were usually made by jewelers and employed much of the technology of medal making (diestruck blanks, enameling, goldplating, fabricating, suspension and such).

Modern gallantry medals.  In the middle of the 19th century medals were created and bestowed for gallantry – exceptional or brave action in military battle. England established the Distinguished Conduct in the Field Medal in 1854, the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal in 1855, the Sea Gallantry Medal and others as military actions dictated, or with a new monarch (the Victoria Cross bore the portrait of the queen and was a gallantry medal). With the introduction of air battles, a gallantry medal for the Royal Air Force was established. Other countries followed in similar fashion in Germany, France and most combative countries of the world.

In the United States gallantry medals include the Congressional Medal of Honor, Purple Heart. These are made at the U.S. Mint and by private medal manufacturers; here again using much of the same technology of medal making discussed in this encyclopedia.

Gallantry medal distinction.  To add distinctiveness (and exclusiveness) to a gallantry medal they are purposely designed with the full range of medal characteristics in mind. They are designed in unusual shape sometimes with exotic trimming, with openwork, sometimes with multiple enamel and enameling. Their suspension is more detailed, often with elaborate ribbons, headers and devices.

Since gallantry medals are the highest rank of a nation's decorations, they are purposely designed to look distinctive by shape and elaborate decoration. This is in contrast, say, with campaign medals or victory medals, which are both usually round and usually widely distributed to all who participated in a campaign or military service.

Book lovers should be word lovers as well.

Looking for the meaning of a numismatic word, or the description of a term?   Try the Newman Numismatic Portal's Numismatic Dictionary at:

Or if you would  like a printed copy of the complete Encyclopedia, it is available.
 There are 1,854 terms, on 678 pages, in The Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology.  Even running two a week would require more than 19 years to publish them all. 
If you would like an advance draft of this vital reference work it may be obtained from the author for your check of $50 sent postpaid. Dick Johnson, 139 Thompson Drive, Torrington, CT 06790.   


John Lupia submitted the following information from the online draft of his book of numismatic biographies for this week's installment of his series. Thanks!  As always, this is an excerpt with the full article and bibliography available online. This week's subject is 
collector Charles G. Roberts of Baltimore, owner of a $3 gold piece and a 1795 Eagle.

Charles Gibson Roberts (1853-1905), was born on September 30, 1853, in Baltimore, Maryland, son of William H. Roberts, and Elizabeth D. Roberts.

Outside of an old postal card laying in heaps among the Chapman Archive material I found this one of an unknown gentleman who held a small collection of gold pieces. Yet the few items he held included a $3 gold piece and a 1795 Eagle! We cannot know if it was the rare 9 leaves Capped Bust small Eagle type since that variety was not yet known as a variety before the 1930's. I have searched high and low looking for Mr. Roberts! He evidently was a man who knew the coins he held had premium values for collectors and he very probably held them a long time until late in life when he probably needed the income from them more than his joy of holding them.

There was a Dr. John B. Roberts at Philadelphia, a client of the Chapmans, but that appears to be mere coincidence and no relation.

Curiously, he writes to Chapman & Sons. As I have already shown a long time ago  it was Henry Chapman, Sr., the father of the two famous coin dealers who was a tea merchant and was the first in the family to enter into the field of monetary exchange in the 1870's.  He was shrewd and placed his sons with John White Haseltine to learn the coin trade since he saw a bright future in it for his sons. Contacting a relative who designed a working cabinet for typographic type and matrices Henry Sr., saw a practical application for it in the coin business.The family built these to sell to others advertising them in 1878. It is possible that Mr. Roberts may have been involved somehow with their manufacture. That is purely speculative and a basic logical exercise since that so far is the only common thread besides coins that could link Roberts to Chapman & Sons appealing to them as established dealers to help him liquidate his small cache.

The 1880 U.S. Census lists him as single living in a boarding house at 36 North Exeter Street, Baltimore, Maryland, working as a carpenter.

Roberts correspondence with the Chapman Brothers feeling them out about consigning his gold and other coins to them for their next coin auction which was held on February15-16, 1904. Note the form of address on the postal card Chapman & Sons, suggesting he was more acquainted with Henry Chapman, Sr., than Henry, Jr., or his older brother Sam. We do also note that the next Chapman auction did sell an 1873 $3 gold piece possibly that one mentioned by Roberts to the Chapman Brothers expressing to them his wishes to sell. Three consignors were named in that sale leaving us to wonder if Roberts is the source of any of the items. It seems very tenable that the Chapmans took the opportunity to acquire the gold pieces and certainly if any were purchased without doubt the 1795 Eagle was acquired. Roberts says his piece is "fine". In 1903 a VF coin frequently was simply called fine by many. The NGC has a population report for the 13 leaves below Eagle type with 11 registered in VF 
 condition, and CAC reports only 1 specimen VF-35, and 2 EF-40, either of which grade most probably was the condition of his piece.

 "What are you paying for Gold Dollars. Also 3 Dollar Gold piece, also Gold quarter and half Dollar?  Gold pieces all in fine Order. Perhaps have you in stock a 1798 or a 1799 Silver Dollar? If it has a small hole in it that doesn't make any difference. What do you charge for selling at coins? I am to catalogue them and offer them at public sale. I have some stuff I was thinking of selling. When do you have your next sale? I have a fine 1795 10 Dollar Gold piece 23 Dollars. I have been offered $1.80 for my Gold Dollar. Yours truly, Charles G. Roberts, 1602 Patterson Ave., Baltimore, Md." 

His last will and testament was dated March 30, 1899.

He was issued a passport on October 14, 1899, and requested it be sent to Arthur W. Robson, 133 East Baltimore Street, Baltimore, Maryland. A. J. Marshall, 314 East Lafayette Street,  Baltimore, Maryland, signed as his witness

He died on April 24, 1905.

To read the complete article, see: 



* * * * *

The entire inventory of the Lupia Numismatic Library is for sale.  Individual items will be available before the remaining archives are broken up into parcels sold at philatelic auctions in the U. S. and Hong Kong.  Check frequently as dozens of new items with estimates will be posted daily until everything is sold.

All inquiries will be given prompt and courteous attention. Write to: 

john at



The latest article in Harvey Stack's blog series is about the great changes in gold and silver pricing in the early 1970s, and the effect on the coin market.

The year 1971 continued the inflation of 1970, with the value of precious metals advancing each month. The public believed that silver would continue to rise, and the search for earlier silver coins in change grew more intense. Melting of silver coins was allowed and the value of each ounce of silver advanced. Speculators and investors crowded the market and the demand was stimulated further as more people learned of the increasing value of each U.S. silver coin struck before 1965.

For gold it became necessary to first advance the value of an ounce of gold from the original value of $35. As it got to $42 at the end of 1970, President Nixon "closed the gold window," so that the Treasury could officially raise the value to $42 per ounce. With the window closed,  gold was no longer sold by the United States. Gold certificates, earlier redeemable for an ounce of gold at the U.S. Assay office, were no longer exchangeable.

All these inflation-motivated actions caused a temporary halt on the dollar and its redemption. Only in special cases were foreign government obligations met with gold for notes, bonds or certificates. These actions, that made gold and silver more valuable in comparison with the dollar, slowed for a short time the drain on the United States’ supply of gold.

Counterfeiters, especially those dealing with coins from outside of the United States, found it easier to make coins of a given weight with a lower gold content. These false coins continued to be a problem on the market. We never returned to having imports of gold coins limited, but at the Custom House they were examined more carefully, and the flow of counterfeits was somewhat restricted.

Educated dealers, collectors, pawn brokers and precious metal dealers formed alliances to try to deter the false coins from the market place, including through the Professional Numismatists Guild. But the precious metals market was too large for the relatively few dealers who were knowledgeable to control the problem. The Congress of the United States had meetings to investigate how to stop these counterfeits from continuously flooding the market, weakening the value of genuine pieces and causing losses and disillusionment among collectors. It took Congress, until 1973 to call a major meeting of hobbyists to testify and suggest remedies to the abuses that were plaguing all hobbies, not just numismatics. I will say more about that meeting when I get to the happenings of 1973.

To read the complete article, see: 

Harvey Stack Remembers: Growing Up in a Numismatic Family, Part 56



To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: 




Two official press releases issued Friday announced personnel changes at the American Numismatic Society in New York.

The American Numismatic Society announced this week that its Executive Director, Dr. Ute Wartenberg, has decided to step down from her position to return to full-time research. She will remain at the Society as a full-time Research Curator while also serving as Curator of the Amastris Collection, a private collection of Greek coins. Dr. Gilles Bransbourg, Deputy Director of the Society since January 2018, has worked closely with Dr. Wartenberg over the last year to facilitate the transition, and he will assume the position of Executive Director beginning November 1, 2019.

Prior to joining the ANS, Dr. Wartenberg had already built an academic reputation, with a focus on ancient Greek coinage. After her education in Saarbrücken, Germany, she went to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and was awarded a doctorate in papyrology. Subsequently, from 1991 to 1998, she worked as Curator of Greek Coins in the British Museum in London. Her publications include over 50 books and articles on papyrology and numismatics, including Coins Hoards VIII and Coin Hoards IX (with Andrew Meadows), After Marathon: War, Society and Money in Fifth-Century Greece; and The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, Vol. LXIV. Among her many honors and academic awards are the Ehrenpreis der Gesellschaft für Internationale Geschichte and being elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

Dr. Wartenberg assumed her leadership role in 1999, during a period of severe financial crisis for the Society. At the time, the ANS—which was founded in 1858—had purchased a building at 140 William Street, near Wall Street, where it planned to move from its nearly century-long residence in northern Manhattan. But it had to undertake a huge renovation project of its new headquarters, and simultaneously was forced to deal with an annual deficit of $1 million and the inescapable necessity of cutting its staff in half.  “This was the hardest task I faced in my two decades at the Society, and it undoubtedly had a huge impact in my subsequent commitment to the staff going forward.” Dr. Wartenberg said.  Ultimately, the Society’s Trustees sold the building, which helped put the ANS on a positive financial footing going forward, and relocated to its present home on Varick St.

During her tenure, Dr. Wartenberg carried out a rigorous program of modernization, which was based on the concept of maximizing the limited resources of the ANS to focus on a few discrete goals. “It would be an understatement to say that these early years as director were straightforward,” Dr. Wartenberg said, “but I benefited enormously from the advice and friendship I received from ANS Presidents Donald Partrick, Roger Siboni and more recently Sydney Martin.”

Among many efforts to secure the Society’s future, Dr. Wartenberg engaged in extensive fundraising from members outside New York City. She also developed partnerships with other institutions, such as the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which provided its magnificent ground-floor space for a museum. In 2001, Alan Greenspan opened “Drachmas, Doubloons and Dollars. A History of Money.” The exhibit highlighted many of the ANS’s treasures and was viewed by more than 400,000 visitors over a decade.

Over the past 20 years, Dr. Wartenberg steadily built the ANS into an institution of both national and international renown, and she leaves her post with the Society in a far more secure position. Today, the endowment is at approximately $43 million. Since 1999, over 45,000 coins and other objects have been donated to the Society’s collection, including the Julius Korein Collection of Gobrecht Dollars, the Abe and Marian Scheuer Sofaer collections, and the Richard B. Witschonke Collection of provincial coins of the Roman Republic. In 2018 Dr. Wartenberg was able to purchase for the Society in a bankruptcy court the archives of dies, medals, and die-shells of the Medallic Art Company and thus save this invaluable treasure for the nation and for future scholarship.

One of her most impactful legacies will no doubt be the strong digital presence of the ANS in the numismatic world. Thanks to the visionary efforts of former ANS President Harry W. Bass, Jr., the Society’s internet identity and its collection databases were already in place when Dr. Wartenberg took over in 1999, but she championed this program by adding staff and funding, and in recent years has directed an ever increasing share of the Society’s resources to online activities. Now, more than 500,000 coins, some 80,000 books and pamphlets, and 450 archival collection records are available online. The Society also supports collaborative efforts with other major coin cabinets in order to create Linked Open Data (LOD) for use in databases of numismatic material, which were largely funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additionally, the Society has revived its numismatic publishing department, which is again one of the significant publishers of serio
 us numismatic research in print and digital formats.

Dr. Wartenberg served on many committees during her term, including as first Chairperson of the Citizen Coinage Advisory Committee, and she continues her roles as a member of the International Numismatic Council and of the Anti-Counterfeiting Educational Foundation, Inc. She was also recently appointed Chairperson of the International Committee for Money and Banking Museums.

“Through Dr. Wartenberg’s leadership, the ANS has been transformed from a financially precarious institute to a healthy one with an international reputation as among the finest numismatic institutions of its kind in the world,” notes Kenneth L. Edlow, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. “It boasts a magnificent and world-renowned collection, significant scholarship and research, a thriving publications department, and expanding digital presence, all supported by a healthy endowment. Dr. Wartenberg’s own rigorous scholarship and her incredible charisma have transformed the organization into the flourishing institution that we are proud to be a part of today.”  “It’s been a real joy to work alongside Dr. Wartenberg for nearly two decades,” said Chief Curator Dr. Peter van Alfen, “and to see the ANS’s astounding transformation take place under her watch. Not least among her achievements has been building a team that works very hard but has wonderful esprit d
 e corps, certainly a reflection of her diligence and charm.”

Ute has been Executive Director at ANS for almost as long as I've been active in it.  I've greatly enjoyed all of my visits and interactions from the Galas to Conferences to working meetings regarding digitization and the Newman Numismatic Portal.  The ANS has been a clear leader in the digital numismatics realm, and based on the amazing results to date I'm certain that will continue.  We'll miss having Ute's steady hand at the helm, but we can look forward to interacting with her in her new roles.  Good luck!

To read the complete article, see: 

Dr. Wartenberg Steps Down as Executive Director





The new ANS Executive Director is Dr. Gilles Bransbourg, who many readers may have met at ANS events or as he manned the ANS table at coin shows.

The American Numismatic Society (ANS) is pleased to announce that Dr. Gilles Bransbourg has been named Executive Director. He replaces Dr. Ute Wartenberg, who is stepping down as Executive Director after two decades leading the Society; she will remain at the ANS in the new position of Research Curator. “I am very pleased to hand over the reigns to Gilles, whose experience in academia and the financial world is perfect for an institution such as the ANS,” Dr. Wartenberg said.

Dr. Bransbourg joined the Society in 2011 as an Adjunct Curator, then served as Associate Curator before assuming the role of Deputy Director in 2018. Among his many other contributions to the Society during that period, he supervised the NEH-funded Online Coins of the Roman Empire (OCRE) project and curated the exhibition “Signs of Inflation,” at The Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Prior to joining the ANS, in 2009, Dr. Bransbourg was a Visiting Research Scholar at New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, where he retains a Research Associate affiliation.

In 1982, at the age of 17, Dr. Bransbourg won the French Concours Général award in History. He then went on to study Economics, Mathematics and Statistics in Paris at Lycée Louis-Le-Grand, École Polytechnique, Sciences Po and École Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Administration Économique. Subsequently he became a market economist, then specializing in financial derivatives, and held executive roles in the banking sector in Paris, Riyadh and London. He stepped down from his last position in 2005, in order to engage fully with his lifelong passion, history. By 2010, he had completed a Ph.D. in History at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris.

Dr. Bransbourg’s research deals with comparative economic and monetary history. He has published extensively in a range of academic journals, conference proceedings, and books, and he provided chapters or sections to “La Politique Monétaire de l'Euro” (2009), “Fiscal Regimes and the Political Economy of Premodern States” (2015), “Le Gouvernement des Citoyens” (2017), and “Debasement: Manipulation of Coin Standards in Pre-Modern Monetary Systems” (2020). Among numerous contributions to economic history, he has published “Rome and the Economic Integration of Empire” as ISAW Papers 3 (2012), “Capital in the Sixth Century: the Dynamic of Tax and Estate in Egypt” in Journal of Late Antiquity (2016), which addresses the question of fiscal fairness across the social spectrum in Late Antiquity, and coauthored with Roger Bagnall, as ISAW Papers 14 (2019), “The Constantian Monetary Revolution.”

In addition, he is a frequent guest speaker in academic colloquiums and venues. Dr. Bransbourg lectured in Economics at Sciences Po between 1990 and 1994, at the Executive Master of Finance of Sciences Po between 2007 and 2015, at New York University in 2016, and has been offering a graduate seminar at ISAW since 2018.

Dr. Bransbourg was made a knight in the French Order of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques in 2014. As a financial consultant and as one committed to philanthropic endeavors, he serves on several boards and financial committees and advises or helps a range of institutions, foundations, and corporations in Europe and the US. He has contributed to the establishment of an English-French dual language curriculum in New York public schools.

“I am honored that the Board of Trustees has given me this opportunity to continue the work of Dr. Wartenberg, secure the financial well-being of the Society, and seek ways to expand its role further. I am also most grateful to Ute, who has provided continuous mentoring and support during this transition period,” Dr. Bransbourg said. “I relish as well the challenge of enhancing the leadership role the ANS has assumed in the numismatic world and ensuring that it remains a vital institution for future generations of professional and amateur enthusiasts. At the same time, the ANS’ ability to associate numismatics more closely with economic, cultural, and art history offers exciting prospects.” ANS President, Sydney Martin, stated that the Board had voted unanimously to appoint Dr. Bransbourg. “We are so pleased to have found such an accomplished and talented individual as Gilles Bransbourg to lead the Society.”

Welcome to the new role!  We'll all look forward to the next chapter in the history and evolution of the American Numismatic Society.

To read the complete article, see: 

Dr. Gilles Bransbourg named ANS Executive Director




In other ANS news, a new Assistant Curator for the Americas is on board.

The American Numismatic Society is pleased to announce that Dr. Jesse Kraft has been hired as Assistant Curator of the Coins and Currency of the Americas.

Dr. Kraft finished his PhD in American Studies at the University of Delaware earlier this year where he wrote a dissertation entitled “The Circulation of Foreign Coinage: An American Response, ca. 1750–1857,” and where obtained a certificate in Museum Studies. In his earlier studies at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, he wrote an MA thesis on the circulation of Spanish-American silver in Scotland, and a BA thesis on the transition from the large to small US cent in 1840–1857.  

While completing his graduate studies, Dr. Kraft worked at the Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library in Winterthur, Delaware as a Curatorial Assistant and Storage Project Manager. In addition, he completed internships at the Delaware Historical Society and at the ANS, where in 2017 he was also a student in the in the Eric P. Newman Graduate Summer Seminar in Numismatics. “We are thrilled that Dr. Kraft accepted our offer after a rather long and competitive search process,“ said Executive Director Ute Wartenberg, “he comes to us with an intimate knowledge already of the Society and a good knowledge of museum work. We very much look forward to having him join our curatorial team.”  

Great thesis topics; these are subjects I've thought and read about often.  I'll look forward to meeting Dr. Kraft at a future event.

To read the complete article, see: 

The ANS welcomes a new Assistant Curator





Pat Heller attended the recent fourth U.S. Mint Numismatic Forum in Philadelphia and published a report in a Numismatic News article.  Here's a short excerpt - see the complete article online.

U.S. Mint Director David Ryder welcomed the audience, then promptly gave a future outlook for planned issues.  Among the plans (some of which would require legislation in order to occur) are:


In 2020, the Mint is planning to offer a coin and medal set honoring the 400th Anniversary of the Mayflower landing, a product to be issued in conjunction with the British Royal Mint.

In 2021 there will be new designs for Gold and Silver Eagle coinage to incorporate more anti-counterfeiting features.

A second round of America The Beautiful Quarters is not planned, even though the original legislation for the series authorized a second set of issues.

Instead, from 2022-2025 the Mint would like to issue a 20-coin series of quarters featuring American animals

Also from 2022-2025, the Mint would like to issue half dollars featuring endangered species.

In 2026, the intention would be to issue one-year circulating commemoratives of the cent through $1.00 coins to honor the 250th Anniversary of American Independence, an idea similar to the Bicentennial quarters, halves, and dollars that came out for 1976.

Beginning in 2027, the Mint hopes to issue a 20-quarter series over four years depicting sports popular with youth.  The Mint would poll children and numismatists to identify which 20 sports would be depicted.  These coins would have some ties with the 2028 Summer Olympics that will be held in Los Angeles, California.  In addition, there would be half dollars issued for the Paralympics happening at the same time.

Discussions are taking place at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to change the reverse of the $2.00 Federal Reserve Note for 2026.

After Ryder’s introduction, attendees walked over to the Philadelphia Mint a short distance away to meet new Superintendent Rob Kurzyna and Chief Engraver Joe Menna.  After a presentation on the U.S. Mint’s history, we were given a tour right on the production floor, an opportunity not extended to the general public.

To read the complete article, see: 

A Modest Proposal for the U.S. Mint




Jeff Garrett published a great piece on his NGC blog about the future of coin conventions.  Here's an excerpt - see the complete article online.
The image is of a Florida United Numismatists (F.U.N.) show opening.

Because of all the planning and organization, the ANA is fortunate that its summer convention is usually a roaring success. Unfortunately, some rare coin conventions around the country are not so lucky. In recent years, several major shows have seen significant declines in attendance and the number of tables sold.

A case in point would be the annual convention held by the Central States Numismatic Society (CSNS) each spring in the Midwest. Twenty years ago, the CSNS show was considered one of the largest in the nation and a “must attend” event. The large bourse area sometimes exceeded 400 tables! But last year, the show sold closer to 250 tables, and other shows around the country have experienced similar declines.

Saturation leading to less successful shows?
The reasons some coin shows are succeeding while others are faltering can be complicated. A case can be made that there are simply too many coin shows these days. Each week, there are literally a dozen or more shows around the country. Some are local, one-day events, but there are also plenty of major regional and national shows on the calendar every month.

The World Money Fair in Berlin that is held in February is massive. The attendance is understandable given that there are very few coin shows in Europe each year. If there were only a handful of coin shows in the United States each year, the attendance at each event would be huge. Perhaps in the future, the European model of fewer shows will become the norm in the United States.

Many believe the internet has been a game changer for rare coin conventions. The theory is that collectors don’t need to attend a coin show when coins can so easily be found on the web. There is much truth to the fact that at any time of the day or night, you can shop for rare coins around the country. So, why go to a coin show when so much is available at the push of a button?

I actually believe the opposite is true about the internet’s impact on coin shows. The internet has created millions of new coin collectors. These collectors may start on the web, but soon find the idea of attending an actual coin show more exciting.

My analogy for this effect is the spread of legalized gambling in the United States. Many predicted that a casino in every large city would destroy the gaming industry in Las Vegas. However, the opposite proved true as local casinos introduced millions to the excitement of casino gambling, causing these folks to want to experience the “big time”—a trip to Las Vegas! I hope that is how many new collectors feel about going to an ANA convention.

The reorganization of the airline industry has also had a major impact on some coin shows. Many smaller-market cities have seen serious cutbacks in air service. This means fewer and more expensive flights on smaller airplanes. Coin dealers do not travel light, and most hate going to a show if it means a commuter flight. This was one of the prime reasons the ANA decided against holding its annual convention in Indianapolis several years ago.

It is also undeniable that many of the most active dealers are entering the sunset of their careers, and flying becomes more difficult as you age. I personally struggle much more with heavy cases these days than when in my prime. The enhanced security checks in the last decade have also become a burden.

Nothing beats the real thing
Despite all these headwinds, most coin shows are generally in good health. If a coin show is run well, the public and collectors will attend. In fact, anytime I get concerned about the health of the market, I look around at the thousands of collectors at a typical coin show and feel better. Like me, most collectors love the excitement of going to a show and actually seeing and holding the coins they collect.

After all, where else can you go and hold museum-quality objects in your hands? Photographs on the Internet have improved a great deal over the years but nothing beats seeing coins in person. Coin shows also present an incredible educational opportunity for collectors. You can see a vast array of rare coins on display, look at educational exhibits and perhaps attend an informative seminar.

I agree with Jeff on all counts.  Long live the coin show!
But clubs and promoters can't just sit on their hands and hope for the best.
Promote, promote, promote, online and off.  And above all, make your show an interesting and rewarding experience to encourage repeat attendance.
What do readers think - what are some of your more memorable recent coin show experiences?

To read the complete article, see: 

Jeff Garrett: The Future of Coin Conventions




Last week we highlighted a few of the historic medals from the upcoming Stack's Bowers sale of the John W. Adams Collection of Comitia Americana and Related Medals.  With permission, we are republishing here the catalog text preceding the lots with background on Adams and his comments on the collection, and cataloguer John Kraljevich's Introduction.
Thanks to Christine Karstedt of Stack's Bowers for passing the text along.

John W. Adams

John W. Adams was born on April 2, 1936, the son of Weston Adams and Mildred Boyd Adams. His father was
a stock broker and also president of the Boston Bruins hockey team. His mother was an ardent Republican and
a spectacular mother. His older sister, Abigail, became a well-known cancer doctor at Bryn Mawr Hospital.
John attended the Haverford School, graduating in 1953. He furthered his education, graduating from
Princeton University in 1957 and the Harvard Business School in 1960. His professional career was largely in
investment banking, founding Adams, Harkness & Hill in 1966. He retired in 2006.

For nearly 40 years John was married to Mary Pierce Adams, with whom he had three fabulous children:
Nicholas, John Jr. (deceased), and Alexandra. In 2000, two years after his first wife’s death, he married Regina
Fromhagen Adams, with whom he has enjoyed nearly 20 very happy years.

His collecting career began early and over the years he assembled several notable collections. In 1982, Bowers
and Ruddy offered his incredible collection of 1794 large cent varieties in a special “fixed-price” catalog. John
had a great interest in medals, including Indian Peace medals (offered in Stack’s 2009 Americana sale) and
Betts medals (featured by Stack’s Bowers Galleries in November 2015). As a proud and staunch patriot, John
considers the Comitia Americana medals presented in the current catalog to be his crowning numismatic

Some Words from John W. Adams

On Comitia Americana Medals

Most coins and medals are owned by the collector. Comitia Americana medals invert this relationship: they
own the collector.

An individual who picks up a Comitia Americana medal must be captivated by it, as he or she is automatically
drawn into a compelling story. These were our nation’s first Medals of Honor. All eleven recipients made
pivotal contributions to the winning of our independence. All eleven made extreme sacrifices for a compelling

Anyone holding one of these objects must be aware of the thousands of patriots who, in 1776, streamed to
Boston to join the battle. They must be aware of the sheer bravado entailed in the attack on Stony Point. They
must be uplifted by the words: “I have not yet begun to fight.”

Today, what we hope to become as a nation may not be as clear as it was then. Nor are our hopes as widely
shared. Simply stated, Comitia Americana medals explain to us what we may yet be and urge us forward.

A Collector’s Perspective on “Raw” Medals

One of the first things that readers of this catalog will notice is that the medals are being offered “in the raw”
– i.e. not encapsulated in plastic. There are multiple reasons for this. First, edges, the so-called “third side” of a
medal, can be the most important side. The edges of Comitia Americana medals tell the observer not only how
the piece was made, but possibly also by whom it was made as well as when and where. Prospective buyers
may need to educate themselves on how these clues can be deciphered, but the clues are there for those who
wish to interpret them. Second, the Comitia Americana’s are, above all, historical medals – they
commemorate important people and events. By holding the raw medal in the palm of the hand, it is possible
to envision the past and even connect with it. This cannot be done easily, if it all, when holding a piece of
plastic. Finally, these medals are works of art and, as with any work of art, their many aesthetic dimensions
can be fully appreciated only by direct observation.

Encapsulation in plastic is a perfectly satisfactory method of storage. However, over the many years we have
owned them, we have wrapped these medals in tarnish-proof tissue paper, then placed them in an inert
manila envelope. This has provided safe storage and the manila envelope has served to carry all manner of
relevant information. In addition to protecting against the elements, the tissue paper serves as a buffer if the
medal happens to slip out of its container.

How does one learn about Comitia Americana medals? A good place to begin is the book, Comitia Americana
and Related Medals, by this writer and Anne Bentley. There are numerous other written sources, plus there
are the human oracles – people like John Kraljevitch, Neil Musante, Tony Terranova, John Sallay and, of
course, Anne Bentley. All are eminently approachable and teeming with answers.


by John Kraljevich

The history of the Comitia Americana medal series is not one history, but three. Those three histories, taken
together, tell two formative stories: the birth of our nation and the birth of our nation’s love affair with

The first story is military, a narrative of triumphs big (Saratoga) and small (Eutaw Springs). It is a campfire tale
of an overmatched army picking spots to inflict world-changing damage upon a superpower, on fields from
upstate New York to the South Carolina lowcountry. Every military story has two sides, that of the soldiers
who sacrificed for their achievements and that of the politicians who attempted to capitalize upon them. The
Comitia Americana medals feature both, with you-are-there depictions of military victories authorized by the
Continental Congress in the majestic afterglow of conquest, conceived to both recognize battlefield heroics
and to fight a propaganda war highlighting American successes that proved all too rare over the duration of
the war. The stories of these medals begin at the moment a sword leaves a British hand to be delivered in
defeat into an American one. They describe, idealize, and announce battlefield wins. They anoint heroes,
hand-picked by the desk jockeys in the Continental Congress. They not only recognize a historic moment, but
choose what history is told.

The second story is diplomatic and follows the Revolutionary War. Its characters are not the Continental
Congress, pounding on desks in Philadelphia or Baltimore, but Americans abroad: Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin
Franklin, and the less heralded David Humphreys. The co-stars are French engravers like Dupré, Duvivier, and
Gatteaux. This is the story of a new and nearly bankrupt nation asserting itself on the world stage, seeking to
present a national identity in the royal courts of Europe, and attempting to create objects of enduring artistic
value. This is the story of the Comitia Americana medals’ execution, which followed their conception by more
than a decade in some cases.

The last of these stories bridges the gap from the useful lives of these objects — as performative largesse to
Americans and Europeans alike — to collectibles. This story is as complex as the movement of militia troops
through the backcountry, fraught with restrikes from original dies made in Paris, productions from the
Philadelphia Mint from dies old and new, and scholarship whose veracity has rarely matched its enthusiasm.
This story extends from James Mease’s first description of these medals in 1821 to the modern day state of
the art, encapsulated in the work Comitia Americana by Anne Bentley and John W. Adams.

This catalog will not be the final say, but it is the final word on this collection. John W. Adams began
assembling the medals of the Comitia Americana some four decades ago. His cabinet has been a numismatic
estuary, both taking in nutrients to nourish future generations and letting go enough to let the current
generation thrive. This assemblage not only inspired his masterwork, but also an endless array of talks, essays,
articles, and published musings on the topic. Long-underappreciated, these medals found a welcome home
with John, like so many abandoned puppies who were too cute to leave behind. As such, a novice might see it
as rife with duplication, a testament that these astounding rarities are somehow more numerous than
collectors think. The opposite is true. Each of these is unique in some way: die state, composition, metrology,
or provenance. With John’s capacious resources of both time and money, these were all the medals he was
able to acquire. This is both a completist’s passion and a scholar’s study collection. Were any of these medals
not present, his research would have been less fruitful. They represent more than 40 years of dutiful
acquisitions, and in more than one case represent the entire collectible population of a particular type.

The medals are now free to find new homes, with collectors who seek to capture a piece of history, or those
whose scholarly curiosity has carved a niche in their cabinet that only an Adams medal can fill. Some of these
medals are cognates of those in other collections, near duplicates of similar pieces that have sold in recent
years. They will be easy to evaluate and compare to known populations. Others are nearly or entirely unique.
They may have been acquired privately or in a great auction of the past. They will herein be described with
suitable fanfare, but the ultimate evaluation will be left to the bidder: How do you price something whose
place in American history is literally induplicable? How do you weigh the opportunity versus the cost, when
the choice is acquiring the Adams specimen or a collection forever going without?

This offering is historic, in every meaning of that sometimes tortured word. This catalog, we hope, is equal to
the occasion. It would not exist without John Adams’ scholarship, foresight, or decades of mentorship to its
author and countless others. We’re grateful for his friendship and for this opportunity.

I had been in the employ of our predecessor firm, Bowers and Merena, for all of a few weeks in 2000 when Q.
David Bowers came to my desk, asked me if I knew anything about Betts medals, and invited me into our
Wolfeboro conference room to meet a kind gentleman named Lucien LaRiviere. While early American medals
had been a long-term interest even before that, fostered by the friendship of Mr. Adams, Richard Margolis,
Tony Terranova, and others – pulling open the drawers of LaRiviere’s fully-laden medal cabinet revealed a
brand new world to me. Michael Hodder once told me that John Ford called to correct the mistakes in my
medal descriptions because he thought I was worth correcting. I’ve learned a lot in the last 20 years, but still
have much to learn. The errors and opinions in the catalog that follows are based upon my experiences and
are, thus, entirely my own.

John Kraljevich

Fort Mill, South Carolina

Summer 2019

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: 




Here is the announcement for the November 21, 2019 sale by Archives International.  Check the online listings carefully - there are quite a number of super items here.

NOVEMBER 21, 2019

The auction will be held by Archives International Auctions at their new offices in River Edge,

The November 21st, 2019 auction by Archives International Auctions will
consist of 1040 different lots offered in three sessions beginning with 447 lots of Chinese and
Worldwide Banknotes, Coins and Russian Scripophily. The second session features U.S. &
World Scripophily with 341 lots including Part 2 of an outstanding collection of CSX
predecessor railroads with many rarities never seen previously by the collecting community. The
third session features 250 lots of U.S. Obsolete Banknotes highlighted by Part 2 of the Highlands
Collection of New Jersey Obsolete Bank and Scrip notes, U.S. National Banknotes, Large and
Small Type Notes and Security Printing Ephemera.

“Part 1 of the Highlands Collection of New Jersey Obsolete Scrip and Banknotes was a
resounding success with 100% of the 157 lots selling, many over the high estimates. We expect a
similar response for Part 2 offered in our upcoming auction”, stated Dr. Robert Schwartz,
President of Archives International Auctions. “Our current 56th auction will offer 1040 lots of
rare and desirable U.S. & Worldwide Banknotes, Coins, Scripophily and Security Printing
Ephemera with many rare and desirable items seldom offered at auction including items for the
beginner to the advanced collector”.

Included in the sale are consignments from numerous estates and longtime collections with many
items having never been offered previously at auction. China features over 110 notes with a
number of highlights including a China, Ta Ch'ing Government Bank , Shansi Issue, a 1911
Unlisted 2 Taels Denomination Rarity; a Bank of Territorial Development, 1915 Issue $5, Urga
Issue Banknote, high grade banknote; a desirable and high grade Provincial Bank of Three
Eastern Provinces, 1929 Issue 100 Yuan Specimen Banknote that is extremely rare and that is
sure to attract attention as well as numerous issued and specimen Chinese banknotes; Chinese
scripophily is featured by a Chinese Government 5% Gold Loan of 1912 , I/U £500 Bond rarity
as well as 18 additional scripophily items to be offered; A new estate find of 33 Chinese Silver
coins dating 1890 to 1930 will be offered from a Vietnam war navy veteran who was stationed
overseas and obtained the coins in numismatic searchers overseas including a number of
desirable coins with none ever being offered previously at auction.

Lot 836: 1837 Kirtland Safety Society Note

A rarely seen group of British Armed Forces Special Vouchers, 1946 ND 1st Series Specimen
Quartet is offered; India is represented by a number of attractive and rare notes including a
Government of India, ND (1928-1935) Issue 10 Rupee Banknote; Israel is represented by a high
grade set of 1955 / 5715 specimen issues; Malaya is highlighted by a 1942 Board of
Commissioners of Currency, $100, P-15 banknote rarity; and Mexico includes 16 different
issued, proof and specimen notes highlighted by a Banco Nacional Mexicano, ND (1882) 500
Pesos Face and Back Proof Pair. Hundreds of additional desirable notes are included that should
appeal to every level of collector and dealer.

Session 2 features 341 lots of U.S. & World Scripophily, featuring Part 2 of the Stephen Beck
Collection of CSX and Predecessor Railroad Bonds and Shares. Some of the many highlights
include a 1910, Thomas Edison Signed Edison Storage Battery Co ., Stock Certificate; A Manson
Bicycle Co ., 1905 I/U Stock Certificate - Possibly the Earliest Motor cycle stock certificate
issued; a 1996, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., Class B Specimen Stock Certificate; an Amazon.Com,
Inc., 2001 Specimen Stock Certificate rarity; a new estate find of 16 Pennsylvania and New York
1860’s oil stock certificates; an exceptional assortment of Florida railroad bonds and shares from
the CSX Collection with many examples new to the collecting community and literally hundreds
of exceptional stocks and bonds from railroads, automobiles and technology to Government,
Foreign, mining and dozens of additional topics.

Session 3 includes over 240 lots beginning with 29 lots of Security Printing Ephemera featuring
Security Printer Ad notes, stock certificates, vignettes, vignette sheets and miscellaneous items
including a unique Excelsior Bank Note company multicolor vignette sheet from the Walter
Allan collection as well numerous items from the John Herzog collection that rarely are offered
at auction; There are 66 lots of U.S. Obsolete, Confederate, National Banknotes and Large Type
notes are highlighted by a pair of Educational $5 1895 & 1896 Series Essay Face Progress Proof
Rarities from the Harry Bass Collection as well as Historic Ephemera. Other National Banknote
highlights include a desirable and very rare Elko, NV., First National Bank of Elko, $20 1902
PB , Ch.# 7743 that is rarely offered at auction; 2 different 1929 $5, Serial #1 notes, one from
Clinton, Connecticut and the second from Buffalo, NY are offered as well as a Gem Napa, CA.,
First National Bank, $20 1929 Ty 1, Ch.# 7176; Another exciting lot is a local, New Jersey
Hackensack National Bank. $10, 1882 Brown Back Ch#5921 E, National Bank Note with only 2
Brown backs known on the bank. 

Lot 332: 1942 Malaya One Hundred Dollars

The sale ends with 153 lots from Part 2 of the Highland
Collection of New Jersey Additional States Obsolete Scrip notes and Banknotes with many lots
including multiple items that deserve further research that we are sure will offer many surprises
for the serious collector and student of New Jersey numismatic history. A few of the many
highlights from Part 2 of the Highland Collection include a Mankato City, MN. $1 , Haxby MN-
75-G2A, Merchants Bank 1854 Obsolete Banknote; a desirable Princeton, Mississippi, Lake
Washington & Deer Creek Rail Road & Banking Co 1838 Obsolete Banknote; and a Tom's
River, NJ. Metropolitan Market-William Bennett , 1862 Obsolete Scrip Note. Dozens of lots
include multiple items, many featuring similar design notes used by various banks around the
country. Session 3 also includes numerous desirable and rare items that will be of interest to the
discriminating collector.

Previews will be held at Archives International Auctions offices beginning Monday, November
18th to Wednesday, November 20th between 10 AM and 5 PM and by appointment. For an
appointment call 201-944-4806 or email 

info at

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