Welcome to The E-Sylum: Volume 10, Number 9, March 4, 2007:
an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Copyright (c) 2007, The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.
Among our recent subscribers are Len Bailey of Littleton Coin Company,
and Nate Fick, courtesy of Barbara Gregory. Welcome aboard! We now
have 1,079 subscribers.
This week's issue brings announcements of two new numismatic books,
and reviews of recent books on the coinage of Saint-Gaudens and Morgan
silver dollars. Dennis Tucker requests information about a weekly
publication called "The Restrike", and readers provide some answers
on SEM-EDX testing and the Raleigh Plantation Token.
In the news are two items relating to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and
Printing - a BEP worker is sentenced to Federal prison, and a new study
considers exotic technologies for preventing counterfeiting. In other
news, Princeton University receives a Chinese coin collection, Zimbabwe
rolls out a new high-denomination note in an environment of
hyperinflation, and Iran touts its nuclear know-how on a new banknote.
Alan V. Weinberg shares with us a letter to his Senator on the Stolen
Valor Act, and the World War I medal of a black Canadian soldier sold
last week is now heading to a museum. To learn what a Fresnel magnifying
lens could have to do with numismatics, read on. Have a great week,
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: HUGH SHULL AUTHORING CONFEDERATE CURRENCY GUIDE
According to a press release issued this week by Whitman Publishing,
"Hugh Shull will write 'A Guide Book of Confederate Currency', to be
released in 2008.
""This will be the authoritative guide to paper money issued by the
Confederate States of America, from the early days of secession into
the war years," said Whitman publisher Dennis Tucker. Following the
formula of Whitman's Southern States Currency (2007), the book will
combine paper-currency expert Hugh Shull's first-hand knowledge of
today's market with historical text by researcher Wendell Wolka.
"Whitman's Guide Book of Confederate Currency will update Criswell's
work with new information based on years of research and study. It
will feature basic types, major varieties, and a wealth of historical
data in addition to rarity listings and market valuations.
"A Guide Book of Confederate Currency will feature high-detail,
full-color images from the finest known collection of Confederate
type notes ever assembled.
"Shull has asked that collectors with information to share please
contact him by telephone (803-996-3660) or by mail (PO Box 2522,
Lexington, SC 29071). Contributors will be acknowledged in the book."
CORRECTION: RED BOOK 61ST EDITION IS DATED 2008
Thanks to David Ganz for pointing out my error last week in writing
that the latest edition of Whitman's "A Guide Book of United States
Coins" would be dated 2007. In fact, the 61st edition has a cover
date of 2008.
Sorry! I do understand why publishers predate books and periodicals
to ensure shelf life, but I may never get used to it. Or the fact that
the Christmas season seems to start in July, according to retailers.
Publisher Dennis Tucker comments: "The first Red Book came out in late
1946 (as I know you know!), so Yeoman et al. made the cover date 1947...
and the rest is history. We're constantly a year ahead on our covers.
It does make it a little confusing sometimes.
"(Part of my "past life" was in periodicals publishing, which always
makes an editor mentally a month or two ahead of the rest of the world...
frustrating! Kind of like the first few days of January, where you write
the wrong year on your checks.)"
[In a press release February 27, Whitman Publishing announced that the
spiralbound version of the 60th edition Red Book (2007 cover date) has
been sold out. This happened earlier in the year than usual, indicating
strong hobby demand.
And speaking of errors, Nick Graver notes that the American Numismatic
Association's MoneyMarket store is offering an error printing of the 2007
edition of the companion "Blue Book" (A Handbook of United States Coins):
"This 2007 edition of the Blue Book was found in a case of Blue Books
shipped from Whitman with no cover printing. The press missed printing
the silver leaf title and other information on this book. It was packed
up with a case of Blue Books by the printer and arrived at the ANA in one
of our orders."
See money.org/. Click on "Shop at MoneyMarket" and "Books".
Nick also notes that Stack's offers free numismatic books to buyers
purchasing from their latest email bulletin: "If you purchase a coin
you will also receive a free copy of 100 Greatest U.S. Coins. If you
purchase a note from our Paper Money selection you'll receive a free
copy of 100 Greatest American Currency Notes! Both books are written
by our very own Q. David Bowers and he will personally autograph each
NEW BOOK ON COINS OF BABUR PUBLISHED IN PAKISTAN
An E-Sylum reader forwarded this report on a new numismatic book
published in Pakistan:
"The monograph "Zahiriddin Muhammad Babur. Numismatic research" has
been issued in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The author of the
book is Aman-ur Rahman...
"His book [is] devoted to the anthology of the coin's production during
the period of the rule of the great poet and statesman Zahiriddin
Muhammad Babur and his descendants - Humoyun Mirzo, Komron Mirzo and
others. The monograph was written based on the studies of the coins
collected by the author in the region and the collection of coins of
the period of Babur's reign now preserved at the museums of the Great
Britain, Germany and Pakistan. The book contains vast information on
the events connected with Babur's lifetime."
To read the complete article, see:
[The report does not indicate where to purchase the book, and I was
unable to find a reference online. According to the February 2007
ANS E-News, the Royal Numismatic Society has awarded the book its 2007
Shamma Prize together with Jere Bachrach's book, "Islamic History
Through Coins. An Analysis and Catalogue of Tenth-Century Ikhshidid
Coinage." So I asked Frank Campbell, Librarian of the American
Numismatic Society. He writes: "The mailing address in this country
for the Bacharach volume is:
The American University in Cairo Press
420 Fifth Avenue,
New York, NY 10018
It can also be ordered from their website (www.aucpress.com). The
Aman Ur-Rahman volume can be ordered from the website
Many thanks! -Editor]
NUMIS-WORTHY AVAILABLE ON LULU.COM AFTER BRIEF HIATUS
Author Eric Leighton writes: "It appears that an internal fine-tuning
of the way Lulu.com operates caused them to temporarily make unavailable
most titles. Little did I realize that my book "NUmiS Worthy" was
included. I have once more made this title available, so if any of
your discouraged readers do wish to get a copy, they may want to try
BOOK REVIEW: NUMIS WORTHY - OLD NUMISMATIC NEWS 1752 TO 1800
BOOK REVIEW: COINAGE OF SAINT-GAUDENS ILLUSTRATED BY THE MORSE COLLECTION
This week I had the pleasure of reading a new book by Ivy Press:
"The Coinage of Saint-Gaudens as Illustrated by the Phillip H. Morse
Collection", by James Halperin, Mark Van Winkle, Jon Amato and Gregory
The 253-page 9" x 11 1/4" hardbound is lavishly illustrated with full
color images of an extraordinary collection of 214 gold coins assembled
by Morse, a Boston Red Sox executive. The collection was sold November
3, 2005, by Heritage. The collection realized $19.2 million, with three
of the coins bringing over $1 million each.
Books documenting a single collection are an interesting and valuable
subgenre of numismatic literature. They are part book, part auction
catalog, part vanity press, yet quite important as historical records
and sometimes groundbreaking in their own right.
As acknowledged in the Foreword by Van Winkle and Halperin, "Any work
dealing with a series as popular as Saint-Gaudens's tens and twenties
must, by necessity, be derivative. This book leans heavily on
scholarship performed by others in the past." Yet the Morse book also
draws upon the most recent scholarship on the topic - I was delighted
to read in the Foreword that the authors had enlisted the help of Roger
Burdette, author of the recent works on "The Renaissance of American
Coinage." Roger's contributions were evident throughout the book, but
especially in the sections summarizing the genesis of the coins and
the various patterns, special pieces and production trials of each
Each coin is illustrated larger than life-size, obverse and reverse,
in full color on a separate page. The photography and printing (on
heavy, high-gloss paper) are marvelous. Viewing these images is
(almost) better than seeing the real coins in person. The authors
devote at least one page of text for each coin. The 1933 double eagle
section is one of the longest at three pages. The text describes the
mintage and rarity of the coin, condition census, known hoards, etc.
Pricing information from recent sales of the coin is included as well.
As wonderful as the collection was, there were still a few gaps, and
the authors have nicely filled these gaps with images of several Indian
Eagles from the John Kutasi collection.
A special section on the "Experimental 1907 Large & Small Letters Proof
Double Eagles Incorrectly Omitted from Judd" is illustrated with nice
edge-lettering photos clearly showing the difference between the
As a bibliophile I appreciated the illustration of all three pages of
a November 11, 1907 letter signed by Theodore Roosevelt about the new
coinage and the decision to not place the "In God We Trust" motto on
the coins. The letter realized $43,125 in the Morse sale.
Here's a piece of trivia about the Morse sale that E-Sylum readers may
appreciate: The auction was originally planned to be held in Palm Beach,
FL, but just five days before it was scheduled to take place, the sale
was moved to Dallas because of the approach of Hurricane Wilma.
In summary, the Morse collection book is a beautiful tribute to a
beautiful collection of the nation's finest coins. Saint-Gaudens
died before his masterpiece could be distributed to the public, but
this book is solid proof that his creations are rightfully cherished
and will be for generations to come.
Jim Halperin adds: "The book is available from us for $75 postpaid.
We only have 150 first edition copies left out of 1000 printed, but
since it has been more popular than we expected we will probably reprint
as a second edition at some point. The HA.com/Morse web page
is expected to be operational by Wednesday, but in the meantime, orders
can be called in to Juliet (800-872-6467 Ext. 362) or emailed to
BOOK REVIEW: BOWERS' GUIDE BOOK OF MORGAN SILVER DOLLARS, 2ND EDITION
A few weeks ago I reviewed the third edition Q. David Bowers' "A Buyer's
Guide to Silver Dollars and Trade Dollars of the United States." First
published in 1996, that book now covers all of the dollar coins of the
U.S. through the Sacagawea dollars. Today Bowers is associated with
Whitman Publishing, and the Bowers series of Red Book guides are handy
treatments of individual coins and denominations. This week I take a
look at Bowers' "A Guide Book of Morgan Silver Dollars: A Complete
History and Guide."
Like the "Buyer's Guide", this 6x9 288-page paperback is quite modest
compared to Bowers' mammoth 1993 2,000+ page two-volume Silver Dollar
encyclopedia. While not covering the Morgan Dollar in the same
encyclopedic depth, the book does offer a great deal of very readable
numismatic and historical information. And like all of Bower's works,
the text is suitable for beginners and serious collectors alike.
Those who've read my book reviews know that as a bibliophile the first
things I look for in a new book are a bibliography, chapter notes and
footnotes. In this regard Bowers does not disappoint, which is
impressive for what some might dismiss merely a "popular" guide to a
This is no fluff piece - the three-page bibliography lists about a
hundred sources, and not just the "usual suspects" of Morgan dollar
works by other numismatic authors. Bowers dives deep into his research,
and this is made plain by the bibliography. Consulted were new
manuscripts by top researchers such as Roger Burdette, century-old
biographies of lawmakers Richard Parks Bland and John Sherman,
congressional documents, etc.
The main focus of the book is Chapter 10, a 178-page "Analysis by
Date and Mintmark". Each yearly section opens with a couple pages
of text discussing "Morgan Silver Dollars, Rare Coins, and Life in
". For example, the 1893 section opens with a quote from
the Director of the Mint's report on coinage law changes of that year,
and another quote from the June 1893 Numismatist on the storage of
Morgan dollars at the U.S. Treasury. Further on that topic is an
excerpt from the July "Harper's Weekly" with many more details on
the government's storage predicament. Other information, not directly
related to dollars but interesting nonetheless, refers to a scandal at
the New Orleans Mint that year, the publication of Augustus Heaton's
"Mint Marks" books, and events such as the World's Columbian Exposition.
Subsections for each coin of that year are arranged by Mint. Each
opens with an illustration of the coin followed by short discussions
titled "Key to Collecting", "Circulation Strikes", "Prooflike Coins",
Mintage and Distribution", and "Die Varieties". The tabular "Whitman
Coin Guide" completes each subsection, listing prices and population
estimates by grade.
I've commented before that so many collectors of U.S. coins fail to
actually READ the original Red Book ("A Guide Book of United States
Coins"), noting that a good deal of interesting information is to be
found within its covers. If that admonition is true for the original
Red Book, it goes triple for the Bowers Series. Don't let the
softcover binding and low price fool you - these are no mere price
Consider the first nine chapters, which in over 100 pages cover the
designing of the Morgan dollar, Mint processes, the five Mints which
produced them, Treasury hoards, the General Services Administration
sales, grading and the marketplace, and many other topics.
The second edition has updated pricing and several new features,
including a table of contents, an expanded credits section, and a
new section on pattern Morgan silver dollars (Appendix A).
The first edition pictured one coin image on the cover: the obverse
of an 1895 Morgan dollar; this second edition's cover shows TWO coin
images: an obverse and reverse of the 1895 dollar. This makes it easy
to spot the different editions even without the presence or absence
of the gold "2nd edition" blaze on the cover. Will the 3rd edition
cover sport THREE coin images?
In summary, the Guide Book of Morgan Silver Dollars is a wonderful
book for numismatic bibliophiles and collectors alike. Reading it
is like taking a Master's level course on the topic. Pay attention,
and you could learn more about the series in a single sitting than
numismatists of a bygone age could have learned in a lifetime.
APRIL 2007 COLONIAL NEWSLETTER PUBLISHED
The April 2007 issue of The Colonial Newsletter (CNL) has been
published. Editor Gary Trudgen writes: "This issue starts off on a
somber note with a tribute to renowned colonial coin specialist
Michael K. Ringo who died on January 28, 2007. Next up is a correction
to the 1785 imitation halfpence die relationships plate that appeared
in the last issue. A new discovery in the field of New Jersey coppers
follows and is reported by Roger Siboni. A new variety, Maris 77-cc,
has recently come to light where two previously known dies, the fairly
common obverse 77 die is combined with the very rare reverse cc die.
"Rumors have circulated that the ANS made copies of the Maris Plate-I
photograph of New Jersey coppers for its members but no copies were known
to exist. In the next paper, New Jersey copper specialists Roger A.
Moore and Raymond J. Williams take on the challenge of determining if
there is any truth to the rumors. Fortunately, two large photographic
copies of the original Maris Plate-I photograph were recently obtained
at auction allowing the authors to substantiate the rumors. They found
that it is likely that the ANS did produce copies in the mid-1950s from
an original Maris book that has resided in the ANS library since its
publication in 1881.
"Our final paper reports an extremely early American coin hoard that
until now has remained virtually unknown to numismatists. Authored by
Louis Jordan, the first part of his paper investigates coinage and
exchange at a 1630s trading post located on Richmond Island, Maine.
In the second part, Lou documents a savings coin hoard that was unearthed
on the island in 1855 and is thought to be from the period of the
trading post based on the coins in the hoard. All of the coins, 51
in total, were silver or gold and English in origin except for one
Scottish gold piece. The Maine Historical Society now owns 29 of the
coins however the location of the remainder of the coins is currently
unknown. Lou visited the society and photographed all of their hoard
coins which are plated at the end of the paper.
"CNL is published three times a year by The American Numismatic Society,
96 Fulton Street, New York, NY 10038. For inquires concerning CNL,
please contact Juliette Pelletier at the preceding postal address or
e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone (212) 571-4470 ext. 1311."
ANS NUMISMATIC CONVERSATION: ELECTRUM COINAGE
As announced in the February 2007 American Numismatic Society E-News,
the next event in the ANS Numismatic Conversations series will be held
Wednesday, March 21, at 6:00 PM at the ANS headquarters, 96 Fulton St.,
New York City. The topic is "Electrum coinage: When, where and why".
"ANS Executive Director, Dr. Ute Wartenberg Kagan, will present her
research on early electrum coinage. A natural alloy of gold and silver,
electrum was used to produce the earliest western coins, from the
seventh century BC on. The ANS's collection of early and later electrum
coinage will be on view. To reserve, please call (212) 571-4470 ext.
1311, or e-mail email@example.com"
THE INTERNET - NUMISMATIC INFORMATION FORMAT OF FUTURE?
Dick Johnson writes: "Two statements emerged this week that blew my
mind. The first was that there are now one billion people in the world
using the Internet. The second was from Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr,
publisher of the New York Times, who stated (paraphrased) that he was
unsure if his newspaper would be available in printed form in five years.
"For publishers of numismatic print publications this should be a time
to reflect and position your publications for the future. Keep your
periodicals profitable, viable and serving your readers and advertisers
well. Are you doing this to the best of your ability?
"And how can you tame that big, bad wolf at the door - the Internet -
to further advance your publications?"
For the one billionth user story (Feb 26, 2007):
INFORMATION SOUGHT ON MONTHLY PUBLICATION 'THE RESTRIKE'
Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing writes: "I have a personal inquiry
that The E-Sylum's readers may be able to help with. About three years
ago I learned that 'The Restrike' was going out of print. This was a
text-only buy-sell-trade monthly, 8-1/2 x 5-1/2 trim, published out of
Glens Falls, New York. I had been an "on again, off again" subscriber
since the 1980s, and I was saddened to learn 'The Restrike' was going
under. (Not surprised, though, given the rise of the Internet.) At the
time, I tried to get in touch with the publisher, but to no avail. I
wonder, does anyone remember The Restrike? Thanks. My home email is
JOESEPH LEPCYZK AUCTION PHOTOGRAPH FILES SOUGHT
Roger Burdette writes: "Someplace, I've seen a reference to someone
who now owns the photographic files from Joe Lepczyk's Auction business.
Can anyone help me locate them? I'm trying to locate the original
negatives of the James Earle Fraser electrotypes and plasters Lepczyk
sold at auction some 25+ years ago."
[I believe Craig Whitford worked for Joe Lepczyk before the dealer's
death, and may have acquired some or all of his business files. The
only reference I know of relating to Lepcyzk's sale of the Fraser
trove is in the following E-Sylum submission by Joe Levine. -Editor]
SOME PROSE AND CONS ON PLASTERS
RALEIGH PLANTATION TOKEN INFORMATION
Responding to Jim Jones' questions, Bob Leonard writes: "In my opinion
the 'Raleigh Plantation Token' has no connection to Sir Walter Raleigh
whatever, but is a commentary on the shortness of human life; i.e., it
shows a boy leaning on a skull. The appearance of this design in early
17th century emblem books, as reported by William Nipper and Michael
Hodder, confirms this--these emblem books illustrate many similar
aphorisms and gems of wisdom.
"So far as "pre-2000" auctions are concerned, I would suppose that the
Jules Fonrobert sale of February 18, 1878, would be the first to catalog
this item separately. Jules Fonrobert was one of the great collectors
of American coins in the 19th century; I provided an extensive numismatic
biography of him in California Pioneer Fractional Gold, 2nd ed. (2003),
p. 81, since small California gold was one of his specialties. Because
the Fonrobert catalog is rare (and printed on highly acid paper, which
crumbles at a touch), I quote the actual description, in the original
"North Carolina, Staat.
(cut of token)
3728. Gelbk. Token (auf den Beginn der Colonisation unter Sir Walter
Raleigh, o.J. (um 1660?) Ein, linkshin unter Baume am Wasser lagernder
Knabe, stuezt mit Rechten das Haupt und haelt die Linke auf einin
Todtenkopt, der link Fuss beruehrt einen Rosenstrauch, im Hintergrunde
die Umrisse eines Blockhauses (!) Rf. (Umschrift o. b.) AS * SOONE * AS
* WEE * TO * BEE * BEGVNN:* | *WE. DID. BEGIN. To. BE. VNDONN:.:. | Im
Linienkreise eine grosse, gestielte Rose mit 2 Blaettern. 28 mlm. E
(superscript) 2 (war versilbert)" (p. 336)
"Unfortunately, Jim Duncan's helpful chart of keying in accents does
not work with my email system, so I have substituted ue and ae for the
letters with umlauts. Also, Adolf Weyl's typography reproduces the
characters of the original better than I am able to with a single font.
Gelbk. = gilt copper; mlm = millimeters diameter; E (superscript) 2 =
"My transcription is correct; a close parenthesis is missing in the
first line. The illustration of the token shows the snake and is
different from that in Betts. I have been unable to discover who
purchased ANY of the items in the Fonrobert collection.
"This token illustrates my pet peeve about the American Colonial
series; it was defined in the 19th century, and later authors have
simply copied the first material published without doing any original
work of their own.
"Fonrobert, who had more money than sense, was sold a bill of goods
on this jeton, and it has coasted along as the "Raleigh Plantation
Token" ever since, though with (understandably) grave reservations.
"Likewise, the Franklin Press token, with its dubious reference to
Benjamin Franklin, is admitted, while the extensive pro- and anti-Thomas
Paine series is excluded. Coins of metropolitan France which circulated
in the New World are included, but the huge issues of the Spanish
American mints--the actual everyday money of the Colonies--are left
out. And don't get me started on cut money!"
NUMISMATIC FATHER-DAUGHTER AUTHOR TEAMS?
Bill Rosenblum writes: "Your recent note about 'Silent Witness - World
War II Civilian Camp Money' by Ray and Steve Feller brings up an
interesting question. Or at least I think it's interesting: Ray is
Steve's daughter. What other numismatic books have been written by a
[Good question - can anyone answer? As a follow-up to the earlier
question about whether the book should be published with color or black
and white illustrations, see the following note from today's MPC Gram
News Letter. -Editor]
"The new catalog Silent Witnesses: Civilian Camp Money of World War II
will be released at MPC Fest on Saturday morning March 24, where the
authors Ray and Steve Feller will be in attendance for autographs and
discussion. The book covers notes, coins, and postal history of
concentration camps, internment camp, displaced persons camps, and
As a result of collector feedback via the Gram and other sources the
book will be printed in full color. This will be the first full color
book from the publisher BNR Press. The price of the book had not been
announced (decided?) at press time."
SEM-EDX ANALYSIS ANSWERS
Last week Ron Abler asked: "I looked up SEM-EDX on the web and
quickly submerged myself below the drowning level in too much
unfamiliar terminology to answer two simple questions: Is it
non-destructive, and how much does it cost?"
Dave Lange of Numismatic Guaranty Corporation writes: "SEM-EDX is
non-destructive, and NGC uses it occasionally at a customer's request.
This is usually employed for testing the composition of pattern coins,
but we've been receiving recent requests for the testing of medals
and tokens. It is a costly process, about $100 per coin. The results
are only accurate for the coin's surface, which may not exactly reflect
the overall composition. We've found, however, that the results
typically are what was expected, though it's interesting to see which
trace elements turn up."
PROPOSED NATIONAL ARCHIVES FEES COULD BOOST NUMISMATIC RESEARCH COSTS
Dick Johnson writes: "Numismatic researchers at the National Archives
might learn on their next visit the NARA has increased their fees.
Various rate hikes are being proposed; for example, the cost of
accessing Passenger Arrival Lists, Federal Census forms and Military
service files more than 75 years old could rise to $25.00.
HISTORIAN CITES COPPER COIN AS BLACKBEARD'S BOOTY
According to a report in the March 2, News & Observer of North Carolina,
a small copper coin found on a shipwreck is key evidence linking the
wreck to Blackbeard the pirate.
"Ten years of research has led to the "inescapable conclusion" that
a shipwreck near Beaufort is the pirate Blackbeard's flagship, a
state historian said today.
"Lindley Butler, historian for the Queen Anne's Revenge project, said
the size of the sunken ship, the number of guns it carried and the
artifacts recovered from the site strengthen the connection to the
pirate. Historical records indicate that the pirate sank the Queen
Anne's Revenge off the North Carolina coast in 1718.
"State officials reviewed the research during a conference today at
the N.C. Museum of History. Butler said a coin weight recovered last
October was particularly compelling evidence. The small copper disc,
an item used to determine the weight of coins and gold, bears a
likeness of Britain's Queen Anne, who reigned in 1702-1714.
"'This is the most exciting artifact to me,' Butler told the audience
of about three dozen people.
"'You can't get any better than putting Queen Anne on the
Queen Anne's Revenge.'"
To read the complete article, see:
ARTICLE PROFILES MINT ARTISTS FROM OSHKOSH, WI
"Oshkosh native Kark Kuettner is one of four student designers chosen
by the U.S. Mint for its expanded Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) "to
enrich and invigorate the design of coins and medals."
"Three years ago, UW-Oshkosh graphic arts professor Richard Masters,
Appleton was named one of the U.S. Mint's first master designers in
the AIP program. In January, he received a new contract, becoming one
of only six of the program's original 24 master designers still under
""It was a major competition, and I was proud of myself just for
entering it," said Kuettner, an Oshkosh North graduate who has returned
to school part-time and expects to graduate with an art degree in
""When I was told I was selected, it was just amazing," he said. "I
gave a few Tiger Woods pumps in the air and called my parents. They
were really excited."
"This summer, Kuettner and the other three student designers, two
from New York and one from Florida, will participate in a summer
internship with U.S. Mint sculptor-engravers at the Mint in Philadelphia.
Kuettner can't wait to get his first assignment.
"Earlier this year, [Masters] submitted the winning design for the
"head" side of a 2007 commemorative coin marking the 50th anniversary
of the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School. He also created
a winning design for Nebraska's new Chimney Rock quarter minted last
To read the complete story, see:
BEP WORKER SENTENCED TO FEDERAL PRISON
On February 26 the Washington Post reported that the Bureau of
Engraving and Printing worker convicted of stealing incompletely
printed sheets of $100 bills has been sentenced for his crime.
"A former Treasury Department employee was sentenced to nine months
in federal prison Monday for stealing more than $67,000 in uncut
sheets of $100 bills that he tried to launder through casino slot
"David C. Faison, 56, was also ordered to pay back the government
$37,200 _ the amount he fed to slot machines in Atlantic City, West
Virginia and Delaware between May and August last year.
"Faison had worked as a stock control recorder, distributing currency
paper within the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, when he stole 21
sheets of partially printed $100 bills. Each sheet contained 32 bills,
which were missing serial numbers and Treasury Department seals."
To read the complete article, see:
On February 27 the Washington Post published a longer follow-up article:
"It is not often that a man who has just been sentenced to jail walks
over, as David C. Faison did yesterday in federal court, and shakes
the hands of the people who helped put him behind bars.
"Once caught, Faison cooperated readily, said the prosecutor, Assistant
U.S. Attorney Jonathan R. Barr. Within a month, he had pleaded guilty
to a counterfeiting charge.
"As part of his plea agreement, he met with law enforcement agents and
Treasury officials to explain how he had managed to swipe the 21 sheets
of bills -- 32 to a page -- from the Bureau of Engraving building where
he worked at 14th and C streets SW.
"The judge tried to find a middle ground, giving Faison nine months
and saying he would recommend that Faison be placed in a federal
facility, where his drug and mental health problems could be treated
more effectively. The judge also ordered him to pay $37,200 in
restitution and placed him under supervision for three years after
"Faison took it all in. Then he turned to the prosecutor and
investigators and shook their hands."
To read the complete article, see:
U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT MULLS NANOTECHNOLOGY TO COMBAT COUNTERFEITING
According to an article published in the Wall Street Journal
February 27, "American currency might see radical changes in coming
years, from temperature-sensitive inks to an embedded magnifying
lens to "smart" bills that use nanotechnology.
"With increased availability of high-quality printers and copiers,
the efforts of the Treasury Department's Bureau of Engraving and
Printing to combat counterfeiting must become increasingly creative
and technologically savvy, the National Research Council concluded
after a two-year study. The council, a sister institution of the
National Academy of Sciences, did the study for the engraving-and-
"Scientists and engineers from across the country suggested 16 changes
that could be put into practice in the near term, including altering
the bills' distinctive feel, adding patterns too complex or too small
for modern printers and copiers, and incorporating materials to
create holograms or shifting visual effects.
"One near-term option would embed a Fresnel magnifying lens -- a
distant cousin to those used in Victorian lighthouses -- to a corner
of the bill for spot inspection of minute anticounterfeiting print.
Another recommendation would put heat-sensitive material into bills
causing body warmth to change the note's color."
To read the complete article (subscription required) see:
Dick Johnson adds: "If you were surprised at my previous article on
microchips buried in coins, you will be amazed when you read what's about to
happen in the future to our currency.
"'Say you snap a dollar bill between your fingers,' says one official about
planned new technology, 'and the edges become rigid. And then you pull on
them and the edges become normal like currency handled every day.'
"The best counterfeit detector, it is projected, will be a pair of scissors.
You will not be able to cut a new bill. If you can cut a suspect bill with
scissors it is fake. All this because of manipulating the molecules inside
the bill itself. Engineers can make currency do amazing things, including
change its shape and texture.
"All this was revealed this week in a report published February 27, 2007.
Robert Schafrik headed a committee that recommended security changes, like
color-shifting ink, a security strip and making the portraits bigger and
off-center that we have already take place in our current paper money. He
has been working on this since 1993.
"Schafrik, who led this year's National Research Council study on currency,
said that counterfeiting is likely to explode if the U.S. doesn't make some
radical changes to our paper bills. Within five to ten years, he says, 'the
software will be so easy to use that anyone will be able to use it, even the
"'The future is not going to be in more color, or more finely
printed,images,' says Alan Goldstein, a molecular engineering professor at
Alfred University. 'The future is going to be in the materials from which
the bill, itself, is made.'"
To read the complete article, see:
BERKSHARES: ALTERNATE CURRENCY FOR BERKSHIRE COUNTY, MA
Last Sunday, February 25th, The New York Times published an article
on BerkShares, the alternate currency of Berkshire County, MA promoted
by Susan Witt, director of the E. F. Schumacher Society, which
promotes concepts like regionally based economies.
"So began this area's great socioeconomic experiment, one in which several
dozen businesses agreed to include an alternative currency in their
daily transactions and give a discount to those who used it.
"Now people can pay for groceries, an oil change, even dental work with
currency bearing the likenesses of local heroes like Herman Melville and
"The central purpose behind BerkShares is to strengthen the local
economy, perhaps even inoculate it against the whims of globalization,
by encouraging people to support local businesses. Amazon does not
accept BerkShares, for example, but the Bookloft on Route 7 does.
"Five months into the experiment, some people embrace it, some endure
it, some ignore it altogether. At the very least, BerkShares have
reminded everyone just how complex this thing called community is."
To read the complete article (subscription required) see:
BLACK SOLDIER'S MEDAL PURCHASED FOR MUSEUM
Last week we discussed the uproar over the eBay sale of a WWI
soldier's medal. The sale is now over, and the medal is on its
way to a museum.
"A rare First World War medal awarded to a black Canadian soldier
will be preserved for future generations thanks to a local man
devoted to reuniting Canadian war medals with their rightful owners.
"Dave Thomson of St. George, near Brantford, placed the winning bid
for $7,435.40 on Friday on behalf of the Black Cultural Centre in
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
"The Victory Medal, given to every Allied soldier, was awarded to
Percy Fenton of Arcadia, Nova Scotia, around 90 years ago.
"Fenton's medal was by far the most expensive one he has bought
"Most sell for $50.
"More than 20 bidders, most from Nova Scotia, drove the price up.
"Thomson regrets that the bidding became so aggressive, but said
the museum directed him to win and agreed to the final price."
To read the complete article, see: Full Story
SALE OF BLACK SOLDIER'S MEDAL CAUSES UPROAR
LETTER TO CONGRESS REGARDING STOLEN VALOR ACT
Alan V. Weinberg writes: "You may, if you wish, reprint all or
part of the attached email I sent to Senator Feinstein so that other
readers can similarly write their Senators and Representatives."
"Dear Senator Feinstein:
"Congress in December passed the US Stolen Valor Act to prevent
unlawful wearing of medals by a few kooks and military nuts. Truly
"An unintended consequence of this law and how it's worded decimates
the centuries- old tradition of collecting, buying and trading US
military decorations supported by the multi-thousand member OMSA
"The law prevents the mailing, trading or buying of the Distinguished
Service Cross, the Navy Cross, the Air Force Cross, the Silver Star,
the Purple Heart and perhaps other military bravery decorations. Indeed,
the law's wording actually prevents a medal recipient on the war front
from mailing home to his family or wife the medal he was presented!
And there is no explicit provision in the passed law for normal
collecting or dealing activity in these decorations.
"Thousands of collectors now have highly valued decorations like
Purple Hearts (for example) in their collections (some of which,
with documentation, can run into the multi-thousands of dollars) and
all research their medals and exhibit them with appropriate recipient's
history attached. Indeed, in this long-established hobby, there is
universal condemnation against wearing an unawarded military decoration.
The spirit and practice behind collecting these military decorations is
to make them "come alive" with pictures and the military history of the
original honored recipient and the actual event that culminated in the
decoration issuance. The original military hero is thus honored and
remembered well after his name and bravery/sacrifice has faded in
public or even family memory.
"To pass this US Stolen Valor Act as it was worded in order to prevent
a few kooks from wearing or claiming rights to wear a military decoration
was a travesty in common sense and will drive the military decoration
hobby underground. Aside from that, it may well be unconstitutional
(due process) in suddenly depriving thousands of collectors the high
values they paid for their medals and making those military decorations
legally valueless and non-tradable/saleable."
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY RECEIVES WU COLLECTION OF CHINESE COINS
According to a press release published February 26th by Princeton
University, "A gift of more than 2,000 coins to the Princeton
University Library's Department of Rare Books and Special Collections
will make relics from ancient and medieval China available to
researchers on campus and around the world.
"Lawren Wu, a 1992 alumnus, arranged for the donation from his mother,
Tung Ching Wu, in memory of his father, the late collector and DuPont
chemist Souheng Wu.
"'The Wu Collection is notable for the care with which it was assembled,
with many examples that are extremely rare or notable for their subtle
variations in calligraphy,' said Alan Stahl, curator of the University
"Rarities in the collection include a four-character Qi knife coin, two
examples of the Wang Mang gold inlaid knife coins and a piece from the
Tang Dynasty Kaiyuan coinage in silver.
"Stahl said he hopes to organize a student project this semester to
display noteworthy pieces in an exhibit at Firestone Library.
"Students already are helping Stahl photograph and catalog the Wu
Collection for the online database, which features about 1,500 of the
University's total collection of 60,000 coins. The University started
the database in 2005 to provide Web-based access to the collection
through a searchable catalog with photographs and descriptions of
"The collection is available for research to the University community
and the public. To view the online numismatic database go to
www.princeton.edu/~rbsc/department/numismatics. For more information
and appointments to view specific items, e-mail Stahl."
To read the complete article, see: Full Story
IRAN FLEXES NUCLEAR MUSCLE IN NEW BANKNOTE DESIGN
"Iran is to issue a new high-denomination banknote marking the country's
achievements in nuclear technology at a time of mounting tension with
the West over its atomic programme, the IRNA agency reported Saturday.
"The new 50,000 rial note -- at around five dollars worth more than
twice the value of any other note in circulation -- sports a picture
of the standard nuclear insignia of electrons in orbit around an atom.
"Iran has defied UN demands for a halt to sensitive nuclear activities
and instead has pressed on with its atomic programme which has become
a source of national pride.
"The head of printing at the Islamic republic's central bank, Jalal
Jalilian, denied there was any link between the issuing of the note
and rising prices of basic foodstuffs in Iran.
"'Bank notes are a medium of exchange and (their printing) has nothing
to do with depreciation of the national currency,' he said."
To read the complete article, see: Full Story
ZIMBABWE ROLLS OUT HIGHER DENOMINATION BANKNOTES AS INFLATION RAGES
"Zimbabwe cranked up the face value of its highest banknote fivefold
on Thursday as black-market trading in scarce gasoline and hard
"On the illegal market, a single United States dollar bought up to
Z$8 000, up from Z$5 000 last month. The fixed official exchange rate
is Z$250 dollars to US$1.
"The central bank released a new Z$50 000 note. The new note bought
just one-sixteenth of what it would have bought a year ago.
"Phonies Zombi, a shopper in Harare, said she used it for a pack of
low-grade meat, soap, a household cleaner, eggs and vegetables."
To read the complete article, see: Full Story
NIGERIA UPDATES BANKNOTES
This week the BBC news published a photo diary on Nigeria's newest
"Lower-denomination naira notes and coins in Nigeria have had a
makeover, making them smaller, lighter and more durable. Some in
the capital said the notes 'look like hard currency'.
"The bank says the new 50, 20, 10 and 5 denominations have the added
bonus of being 'extremely difficult to forge'. Higher 1,000, 500, 200
and 100 notes remain unchanged.
"The new notes have their values written in Nigeria's three major
languages, Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. The old notes will be phased out
after a certain period."
To view the pictures of Nigeria's new banknotes, see:
ABOLISH THE DIME AS WELL
Responding to a Canadian newsletter writer, last week Dick Johnson
wrote: "Are you implying we are a backward country, Sask Baby?
We'll show you! We are going to stop minting 2-cent, 3-cent and 20-cent
coins! Oh! Wait a minute. We have done that already."
Henk Groenendijk writes: "You do not mention the half cent which was
last minted in 1857. Looking at the US consumer price index which was 27
in 1860 (reference 1967 = 100) and 592.5 in January 2007, a half cent in
1857 compares with 11 cents in today's money. So why only abolish the
penny and nickel - the dime can be abolished as well!"
FEATURED WEB SITE: SAINT-GAUDENS' COINS AND MEDALS
This week's featured web site is the Coin and Medal section of the
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site.
"Saint-Gaudens had a keen interest in the medallic arts. He referred
to his early relief portraits as "medallions," and made some of these
in circular form. Saint-Gaudens' portrait of his friend John Singer
Sargent reveals the sculptor's familiarity with the art of classical
Roman numismatics. With his first official medal, for the centennial
of George Washington's inauguration in 1889, Saint-Gaudens created
"the first medal of real artistic value made in this country," according
to Richard Watson Gilder. Gilder hoped that the Washington medal would
have an effect on the future design of United States coinage.
"In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt commissioned Saint-Gaudens to
prepare new designs for the ten and twenty-dollar gold coins and the
one-cent piece. Saint-Gaudens was the first sculptor to design an
American coin, and several of his assistants went on to make significant
contributions in this field. Although the president was enthusiastic,
and supportive of Saint-Gaudens, the commission became fraught with
difficulties. The general problem was to relate Saint-Gaudens' desire
for high relief to the exigencies of mass production and use."
Featured Web Site
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
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