The E-Sylum v6#54, December 21, 2003
whomren at coinlibrary.com
whomren at coinlibrary.com
Sun Dec 21 22:47:46 EST 2003
Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 6, Number 54, December 21, 2003:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2003, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
FANNING BOOKS FIXED PRICE LIST
From the Press Release:
"David Fanning is offering a fixed price list of numismatic
literature, with an emphasis on numismatic periodicals,
ephemera, and books from the nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries. Items of particular note include a nearly complete
run of Frossard's Numisma, important publications of early
numismatic and antiquarian societies, significant publications
of Ebenezer Locke Mason and W. Elliot Woodward, and
signed correspondence and business documents of M.H.
Bolender, Leonard Kusterer, and B. Max Mehl. For a
copy of the list, e-mail David Fanning at
fanning32 at earthlink.net."
[The ranks of U.S. numismatic literature dealers have thinned
greatly in recent years with the deaths of Frank Katen, John
Bergman and Ken Lowe, and the demise of The Money Tree
and Remy's Bourne's literature business. It's great to see a
new face in the business. David's 12-page FPL is very nicely
done, and should be a welcome sight for collectors. -Editor]
KOLBE SALE 92 RESULTS
[My apologies to George Kolbe for being late publishing the
following release concerning his recent sale - his message to
me got lost in the ether (or caught in a spam net). -Editor]
George Kolbe writes: "Our apologies to E-sylum members
and other interested parties for the late posting at our web site
(www.numislit.com) of the prices realized list to Sale 92. The
sale was earlier postponed by wildfires; this past week Linda
and I were beset by the "wild" flu but both of us are getting
better now and parcels will begin leaving Crestline in a day or
two. A review of the results of the sale follows:
George Frederick Kolbe/Fine Numismatic Books reports that:
although postponed due to the Southern California wildfires,
our November 29th, 2003 auction was a great success. It
brought $180,000, and over 350 bidders participated in the
sale. All prices cited include the 15% buyer premium.
The auction featured many seldom offered works on a wide
variety of topics, and competition was often intense. Some
sale results follow. A near complete set of The Numismatist,
unbound, realized $2,990; the catalogue of a New York
coin auction originally scheduled for April 27-29, 1865 but
postponed upon the assassination of President Lincoln,
brought $402 on a $175 estimate; an early April 1 supplement
to The Numismatist, probably dating from 1894, was avidly
sought after, finally selling for $862 though estimated at $100;
a very nice set containing all 116 of B. Max Mehls famous
series of coin auction catalogues was slow to get off the mark
until the last several days of the sale when one very strong and
two more moderate bids were received, followed on the closing
day of the sale by bids of $3,450 and $4,025 (it ended up
bringing $4,312). Works on Napoleonic medals were
particularly in demand. Though unillustrated, Bramsens three
volume standard work on the topic realized $431 on a $275
estimate; two volumes on the topic from the great 19th century
Trésor de Numismatique series were heavily bid upon, one
selling for $1,265 on a $450 estimate, the other, from the family
of Napoleon, brought $1,725 on a $750 estimate; an excellent
set of Davenports works on crowns and talers realized $690;
George Miles 1938 The Numismatic History of Rayy, headlined
The Most Elusive American Numismatic Society Publication?,
brought $690; a wonderful bound collection of 175 Sotheby
British coin auction catalogues dating from 1830 to 1900
realized $3,220; Q. David Bowers first numismatic publication,
an 8 page 1955 price list, sold for $718; an extensive research
archive on obsolete paper money formed by John Muscalus
brought $1,035; competition for an 1879 German auction
catalogue featuring the first foreign appearance of an 1804 silver
dollar, estimated at $250, continued to escalate over the course
of the sale, culminating in a winning bid of $862; the many
important books and catalogues on ancient coins featured in the
sale generally brought strong prices; and, though a complete set
failed to sell, individual early editions of Yeomans Red Book
from the holdings of Garce Futerer continued to be in considerable
A few copies of the sale catalogue are still available and may be
obtained, along with a prices realized list, by sending $15.00 to
Kolbe. The firm's next public auction sale, to be held in association
with Stacks, will comprise the magnificent numismatic library of
John J. Ford, Jr., scheduled for June 1, 2004. Details will be
appearing in the numismatic press early next year, and some
information and highlights are currently available at the firm's web
site (www.numislit.com). The firm may be contacted at P. O.
Drawer 3100, Crestline, CA 92325; by telephone at 909-338-6527;
or by email at GFK at numislit.com."
NEWMAN NUMISMATIC MUSEUM COMMENTS
Len Augsberger writes: "I read with great interest about the
Newman Library as I went to school at Washington University.
It will be fun to go visit in a couple years after they get settled."
Mike Hodder wrote: "As you can imagine, I was interested to
read your communications with Eric about his book and coin
collections. Can you email me with the exact citation to the
paper in which the notice you found appeared? I'd like to
obtain a hard copy for my files."
[The URL was a mile and a half long, which is why I didn't
publish it. Here goes. -Editor]
[A browse through my numismatic ephemera collection
unearthed two pamphlets from the old Mercantile Money
Museum in St. Louis. They confirm my recollection:
"The museum features two audio-visual mannequins:
Benjamin Franklin and a counterfeiter. Mr. Franklin
presents some comments about money and his many
witticisms. The counterfeiter, dressed in prison garb,
explains his predicament and the penalties for
counterfeiting." I wonder if he had his ears cropped...
REUTERS ARTICLE ABOUT JAVANESE COINS
Howard A. Daniel III writes: "First, I want to thank the editor
for identifying the Reuters' article about some Javanese coins
being found in London because I missed seeing it in my news
sources about Southeast Asia. I went to the Reuters' web
site to read the original article. I am sorry to write that
whomever the Reuters' editors and/or reporters talked to was
an absolute dunce or they are being incorrectly quoted. One
quote was "Even in the 17th century they would have had no
value in London." Can you believe that? Copper in any form
in London was worth the value of copper, just like in Java or
elsewhere in the world. They are also quoted with "How they
got to London remains a mystery.", but then followed up with
"One possibility is that a merchant dropped them overboard
from an East Indiaman (ship) moored in the Thames when he
found they were worthless." Was copper worthless in 17th
century England? I doubt it, so it was absolutely a mishap
that the bag was dropped. But the last sentence in the article
finally grabs a little piece of reality with "Another is that they
were being imported as curios for one of the many collectors
keen to acquire interesting objects from the farthest corners
of the earth."
I am assuming they are quoting the British Museum, but from
what was in the article, they must have been talking to a janitor
because I do not know anyone there who would say such
[I'd like to thank Howard for the opportunity to publish the
word "balderdash" in The E-Sylum. (It doesn't take much
to amuse an editor. -Editor]
THE IMPORTANCE OF RELIEF ON COINS AND MEDALS
Dick Johnson writes: "Joe Bolings comments in last week's
E-Sylum for the most part were right on target. Relief on
our coins and medals is so important. Name one element
that is evident at every step of a coin or medal's creation
and life its relief! This is of great concern for the designer,
of course, relief is what the modeler creates, this is what
forms the pattern from which the die is made.
Relief determines the height of the rim for a circulating coin,
it dictates a large part of how thick the blank must be, what
pressure to set the coining press or the number of blows
for an art medal. Relief is most evident on the struck piece,
it is what the public sees and the numismatist studies. The
amount of wear on relief determines condition, of interest
to the collector.
Joe Boling called relief the third dimension. This is almost
right. Three dimensions is the equivalent of sculpture in-the-
round (and antique dealers use the atrocious term 3D).
Because it is attached to its background the relief on coins
and medal is correctly called bas-relief -- the s is silent,
pronounced baa-relief. (Joe: sculptors humorously, but
more accurately, call this two-and-a-half dimensions!)
Discussions with coin and medal artists talking about the
concept of the rise and fall of relief the design needed a
better term to express this. Years ago I came up with
MODULATED RELIEF. Everyone understands it exactly.
The rise and fall of the sculptural design. This is even
true when it is incuse, like on the Pratt U.S. quarter-eagle
and half-eagle coins of 1908. It is still true when this is in a
sunken panel raised relief below the background which
is termed coelanaglyphic relief, but which is better known
as Egyptian Hollow Relief because it was so widely used by
early Egyptian stone carvers.
For the relief on a coin or medal be my guest! -- call it
Modulated Relief. What Joe is asking for is a higher or more
modulated relief on coins made at the U.S. Mints."
[coelanaglyphic - now that's a 50-cent word! I'll have to
work that into conversation this week. Hmmm. -Editor]
PRESIDENT PIERCE'S ORMSBY FOR SALE
David Gladfelter wrote: "The deluxe Franklin Pierce copy of
Ormsby is in the Heritage/Currency Auctions of America FUN
sale next month. It has a realistic $15K-up estimate. There is
also a nice run of Heath detectors. These are all listed in the
back of the catalog under "miscellaneous". Go to
[See lot 16959. I've taken the liberty of publishing the
lot description below. If memory serves, this copy was
discovered in New England by Bob Wester. Can anyone
confirm that? Where has it been in the meantime? The
book's pedigree is alluded to in the catalog description, but
not published. The description begins with the text of a
letter which accompanies the book. -Editor]
New York Jan 31 1853
Allow me to present you with a copy of my late work on
Bank Note Engraving which will explain the cause of the
vast amount of counterfeiting in this country. This is the first
publication on this subject, and it is daily growing more and
more important to every person in the community. I beg
permission to call on you, at some future time, when my
plans for constructing bank notes to prevent forgery are
mature, that I may have an opportunity of convincing you
of the utter insecurity of our present paper money, and the
necessity of Legislative action on the subject. At present I
will only ask your attention to the important requisites of a
Bank Note which constitute its value - there are but two -
first that the Bank be good - second that the note be genuine.
The people loose (sic) more by counterfeiting money than
by broken banks. It is therefore of as much importance to the
poor people to have the note genuine as it is to have the Bank
good. It is my object and aim to instruct the people in the art
of Bank Note Engraving to the end that our General Banking
Laws may be amended, so that they should define no less
particularly the manner in which a note must be engraved than
the manner in which the bank must be organized. Many of the
counterfeit bills in circulation are absolutely the work of the
original engravers. Counterfeiters obtained their work in spite
of their utmost efforts to prevent it. This is all owing to the patch
work system of constructing the note and the use of dies in the
engraving of plates. My plan is to have a Bank Note one
design or picture, with all the lettering interwoven in it. The
whole to be engraved on the plate by the hand of the artist with
out the use of dies. A counterfeiter then would be obliged to do
the work himself in stead of employing others who do not know
for what purpose their work is to be used. On turning to page
52 you will learn how a counterfeit plate of a five hundred dollar
Treasury note was engraved for a counterfeiter by the very
engraver who executed the original plates! Such things have
frequently occurred - the matter is seriously alarming to every
business man. Any encouragement which I may receive from
you will be gracefully received by
Your most obedient humble Sevt,
W. L. Ormsby
The book itself is inscribed on the blank flyleaf, "Presented
to Gen. Frank. Pierce by his humble Sevt. The author W.L.
Elaborately gold leafed on both front and back covers, the
100+ page master work measures thirteen-and-a-half inches
by ten-and-a-half inches and contains a large number of
beautifully detailed, superbly engraved plates, including a
tri-color red, blue and brown frontispiece. The book is in
flawless, as-issued condition, fully tight in its binding with
only a few, very minor scuffs at the edges of the cover.
Included with the book are some items of correspondence
between previous owners, one of which discusses a possible
$16,000 valuation in 1991 and another which presents a
history of the ownership of the book since 1853. We
auctioned this book in May of 1998 and at that time it
realized just over $9,000. This book would be the crowing
glory in any numismatic library or the ultimate association
item in a collection of Obsolete Bank Notes. Est.15,000-up.
BIDDLE, THE BANK, AND W. L. ORMSBY
Coincidentally, Dave Bowers mentioned Ormsby in a note
on a completely different subject. He writes:
"I enjoyed the info on the BANK OF THE UNITED STATES.
For a long time I have been gathering data on the Second Bank
of the U.S. (1816-1836), including federal documents,
contemporary financial accounts, etc. The popularly published
histories of this bank are fascinating--as few people have ever
delved into the SOURCE material. Also, Nicholas Biddle, who
engaged in fraud after the Bank of the United States lost its
federal charter and was then chartered by Pennsylvania, is
hardly ever noticed in this connection--almost an untouchable
subject (the record is clear--he engaged in illegal practices,
many of his associates lost large amounts of money, etc., and
if his name had been John Doe he would have been disgraced).
The main cause of the Panic of 1837 was rampant inflation, not
the failure of the Second Bank of the U.S. to be rechartered. In
the west (then Indiana, Illinois, etc.) there were great land
speculations. Jackson's "Specie Circular" put an end to buying
land by "paying" for it with essentially worthless paper.
If anyone doubts that popular histories often do not mesh with
facts gained in numismatic and financial research, just pick up a
copy of Schlesinger's prize-winning The Age of Jackson book,
and read all about Hard Times tokens, bank scrip, etc. (hint:
there is hardly anything mentioned).
The Second Bank of the U.S. opened "subscriptions" in 1816
at its various branches, including Portsmouth, NH. If any
E-Sylum subscribers have any printed currency or memorabilia
specifically relating to the Portsmouth Branch I would be
delighted to receive it to add to what David Sundman and I
have (we've been gathering New Hampshire bank history, and
if I were to print out the stuff on the Bank of the U.S.,
Portsmouth Branch, probably 50 pages would be used -- but,
still, there are many unanswered questions and puzzles).
Concerning the Second Bank of the U.S. (all over, not just
Portsmouth), it is not often realized that most everyday citizens
in the hinterlands -- did not like the bank. The reason was that
other banks were state-chartered, were in general loosely
regulated, could issue lots of currency with the hope that some
of it would become lost or never redeemed, etc. There were
state-chartered banks everywhere, and within any given state
they had huge political clout--as they provided loans for the
sinews of trade and commerce. The Bank of the U.S. was
viewed as Enemy No. 1, and all across America the various
local and regional bankers had no difficulty enlisting political
solons to join them in this opinion.
The Second Bank of the U.S. in Philadelphia was a spectacular
example of the Greek Revival style (as was the 2nd Philadelphia
Mint) and was widely reproduced on engravings---easily enough
found today. Later, it was used for other purposes.
While I am at it, a particular interest of mine is the history of
bank-note engraving and engravers, mostly pre the Bureau of
Engraving and Printing era. This field is very rich for research,
and somewhat resembles that of early American silversmiths
and pewterers (another interest) in that most publications
simply copy other publications, there are vast errors in dating,
spelling, etc. As a sample, as part of a biographical study of
Waterman Lily Ormsby, I once checked all of the "standard"
sources including numismatic publications, the Essay-Proof
Journal (articles by Julian Blanchard), Groce & Wallace,
Hamilton, Fielding, and others on engraving, and just about all
say the same thing. And, all misspell his middle name as LILLY
(probably thinking of Eli Lilly pharmaceuticals!). Again, I
probably have 50 to 100 pages on Waterman, but, ironically,
almost all gathered item by item, with no big help from
numismatic sources (except from none other than Eric P.
Newman, who loaned me an item I had never seen).
Someday I may issue a Dictionary of Early American Bank
Note Engravers and Printers, simply because this is a book
I would enjoy owning now, and nothing like it even remotely
exists. The main problem with printed sources is that, in
actuality, a bank note partnership that expired years earlier
may have an imprint of, say, 1855, on a piece of currency --
the result of an early plate being dusted off, and a later date
entered on it. Accordingly, I have found my best sources are
contemporary documents and newspaper records, and, a
distant second, early town and city directories. However,
newspapers are hard to find and tedious to read.
Wayne, keep up the good work."
VOIGHT ACCOUNT BOOK WHEREABOUTS SOUGHT
Joel Orosz writes: "According to Frank H. Stewart, in his
"History of the First United States Mint", "It is most unfortunate
that [Henry] Voigt's first account book cannot now be found.
Forty years ago  it was in existence and brief quotations
from it were made by Evans and others. Book Number 2 has
been located, and on October 13, 1792 we find that George
Breining was paid $1.50 on account of cutting a screw..."
It appears that book Number 1 would have covered the period
from June 1, 1792, when Voigt was hired, at least through the
summer of 1792. Book Number 1 is not in the Mint collection
at the National Archives branch in Philadelphia. Taxay does
not specifically cite it in his U.S. Mint and Coinage (1966).
Have any of you ever heard of Voigt's first account book
surfacing? If you have, would you have any idea of where it
might be, and whom I might contact about examining it?
Many thanks, and happy holidays to all. "
HOW THE ANTHONY DOLLAR GOT P'D ON
Tom DeLorey writes: "I remember the day in the Fall of 1978
when I was still working for Coin World, when Margo Russell
came into the Editorial Department with the official Mint
rendering of the new Susan B. Atrocity dollar. I was less than
impressed, but being rather technically minded I asked her
where the mint mark was going to be placed, there being none
shown in the rendering. Margo, ever prone to direct action,
immediately called the Mint Director to ask her where the mint
mark would be, only to find out that the Directrix had no idea
herself. She said she would check, and called back within the
hour to tell Margo that the mint mark would be behind the
shoulder, and that the Philadelphia Mint would be using a P
mint mark on them!
I found it amusing that the Mint Director had not been consulted
on either the mint mark placement or the use of the P mint mark
before our call, and have often wondered if my innocent remark
caused the Director to stick her nose into an area where the
Mint's actual management did not want her direction, and if it
was perhaps her "helpful" idea to begin using a P mint mark on
regular issue coins. We shall never know."
MEDALS DIES OF A PUBLIC CHARACTER
While looking for other things in my ephemera collection I
unearthed an October 1862 U.S. mint pricelist titled "List of
Medal Dies of a Public Character." It lists size and price for
70 bronze medals in seven subject categories. (from the 19th
Money Tree sale Lot 252 (March, 1994)). I remembered
Dick Johnson's recent query for information about the sale
of medals, so I wrote to him asking if he'd like a copy, he
replied: "Would I? Yes! This sounds like the first use of
the word "List" in relation to the medals for sale at the
Philadelphia Mint. Isn't it interesting they call this "Dies"
instead of just "Medals." Does this not imply they had
the dies on hand and would strike for anyone who wanted
such a specimen?
It is not only beneficial to know what you have but also the
significance of the item and its importance. This sounds like
it is important in the numismatic scheme of things. Your
discovery is astounding."
So off went a photocopy to Dick. In addition to the 70
bronze medals, The pricelist offers seven silver medals, and
four in gold. In addition to the medals, proof coins were
offered as well: "Set of silver and cent proof coins of the
year 1862, $3.00" A set of gold proof coins was $43.
Payment for gold coins was to be made in gold coin;
payment for silver, in gold or silver coin.
EARLY JOSH TATUM REFERENCES SOUGHT
Bob Leonard writes: "I wonder whether any E-Sylum readers
have encountered the story of Josh Tatum and the gilded nickels
of 1883 BEFORE 1968, when Lynn Glaser published it in
Counterfeiting in America (pp. 224-6). I haven't, but I haven't
made an exhaustive search. Eric von Klinger, in his fine article
in Coin World, December 22, was unable to substantiate it.
MORE NUMISMATIC MOVIE BLOOPERS
Tom DeLorey writes: "In the movie "Run Silent, Run Deep,"
set in WW2, a submariner pays for a bar bill back in Pearl
Harbor with a $1 Silver Certificate laid face down on the
bar so that "IN GOD WE TRUST" plainly shows. Though
some Series 1935 bills bear this motto, they were not issued
until the mid-1950s.
In the George C. Scott version of Dickens' "A Christmas
Carol" (not sure of the name of the movie), young Ebenezer
Scrooge's fiancee tosses a King George V gold sovereign
onto a balance scale, though George III might have been
Philip Mernick writes: "You asked in the latest E-Sylum if
readers had more examples of wrong coins in movies. There
was a good (that is bad!) example on BBC TV just a few
weeks ago. It happened in the final episode of a very detailed
(and apparently well researched) series on the life and loves
of King Charles II titled "Charles II The Power and the
Passion". Some one was handed a tray of coins that were
clearly 20th century rather than 17th. In just the few seconds
that the coins were in shot it was possible to distinguish a
George VI coin and a French Fifth Republic coin. No
doubt a frame by frame examination of a videotape would
have shown more but I watched it "live". The BBC web site
encourages feedback on their programs and they received
many comments about this. This quote is part of their reaction
to these comments: "Unfortunately that was a production
error and a few people have commented on it! We will say
that we are pleased the audience follows the programme s
closely.....!" They seemed surprised that anyone would have
spotted something so fleeting. Little do they know how
observant we collectors can be! I am sure the series will be
shown on TV in the USA. Will they change the scene? -
probably not - so look out for the wrong coins!"
Joe Boling writes: "The Hindenberg (about the crash of the
Zeppelin), in which a shot of the pursar going through some
of the money on board shows modern Japanese Y1000 notes.
The Time of Your Life, the William Saroyan play on film.
Set in the 1930s, a 1953 or later $2 bill (small red seal) and
a 1963 or later $1 FRN are visible taped to the mirror
behind the bar.
It should not have been so hard for the props departments
to get this right."
GOOGLE BOOK SEARCH
"Google has started letting people search text within books,
following similar strides from retail behemoth Amazon.com.
The service, called Google Print Beta, lets Web surfers call
up brief excerpts from books, critic reviews, bibliographic
and author's notes and, in some cases, a picture of the book
"The search feature works with approximately 120,000 titles
from 190 publishers, which translates into some 33 million
pages of searchable text."
To read the full article, see:
IRON AGE HOARD FOUND
Arthur Shippee sent a link to an article about a newly
"Peter and Christine Johnson, from Sittingbourne, sparked a
massive dig when they discovered some coins on farmland near
Maidstone using a metal detector.
The couple contacted Kent County Council and as a result
more than 360 coins and coin fragments, dating from the first
century BC, were dug up."
"The hoard could be worth thousands of pounds, according to
the council, which is keeping the coins in its safekeeping until
they are sent to the British Museum for analysis."
To read the full article, see:
WORLD'S LARGEST BOOK
Len Augsberger writes: "Remarkable. The world's largest book
has been produced, and QDB did NOT write it."
Len included a link to article about the book:
"A 133-pound tome about the Asian country of Bhutan
that uses enough paper to cover a football field and a
gallon of ink has been declared the world's largest published
Author Michael Hawley, a scientist at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, said it's not a book to curl up with
at bedtime - "unless you plan to sleep on it.''
Each copy of "Bhutan: A Visual Odyssey Across the
Kingdom,'' is 5-by-7 feet, 112 pages and costs about $2,000
to produce. Hawley is charging $10,000 to be donated to a
charity he founded, Friendly Planet, which has built schools in
Cambodia and Bhutan.
Guinness World Records has certified Hawley's work as the
biggest published book, according to Stuart Claxton, a
"Hawley said he's received about two dozen orders for the
book, which includes an easel-like stand. Early customers
include Brewster Kahle, the inventor of the Internet Archive
project, who has known Hawley for years through his
computer science work at MIT.
Hawley said his research revealed that the biggest book in
the Library of Congress was John J. Audubon's 19th century
"Birds of America,'' which is 2-by-3 feet. "
To read the full article, see:
FEATURED WEB PAGE
This week's featured web page is the Roman Numismatic Gallery
of Emperor's Wives and Families
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a
non-profit organization promoting numismatic
literature. For more information please see
our web site at http://www.coinbooks.org/
There is a membership application available on
the web site. To join, print the application and
return it with your check to the address printed
on the application. For those without web access,
write to W. David Perkins, NBS Secretary-Treasurer,
P.O. Box 212, Mequon, WI 53092-0212.
For Asylum mailing address changes and other
membership questions, contact David at this email
address: wdperki at attglobal.net
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