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The E-Sylum (12/29/2013)

Book Content

You Should Always See The Coin
Regarding Bob Van Arsdell's submission titled "Sometimes You Have To See The Coin", Tony Terranova writes:

I think you should ALWAYS see the coin.

Amen. Nothing beats having the actual object in hand. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO SEE THE COIN (

Hartzog Limited Edition Catalogs
Rich Hartzog writes:

For the record, as a auctioneer of exonumia I have published some 11 formal mail bid sale catalogs. On some of the early catalogs, I produced limited editions with the buyer's name in calligraphy on a special insert sheet as the first page after the cover. Generally only a few were issued, perhaps 4 to 6 copies. I neglected to retain any, or the numbers issued. These were in the early stapled catalogs. I went to perfect-bound catalogs in later years, and it was not possible to add a page.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: SPECIAL EDITION NUMISMATIC AUCTION CATALOGS (

Howard Gibbs and Football Player Johnny Unitas
Regarding Pittsburgh numismatist Howard Gibbs, Richard Margolis writes:

How many practicing numismatists can boast of having dinner cooked for them by Johnny Unitas's mother?

Sara and I can. . . in the winter of 1959 we drove to Howard's house in Pittsburgh, in order to partially purchase and partially receive on consignment from him a valuable group of foreign coins. Dinner was cooked for us by Mrs. Gibbs, who was none other than Johnny Unitas's mother.

My clearest recollection of that evening, some fifty-four years later, is the superb meal she prepared.

I have often wondered how Howard, who was thin as a rail, was able to maintain his weight under the daily barrage of such great cooking.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: DECEMBER 22, 2013 : Howard Gibbs in Egypt (

Correction: Art Paper
In last week's announcement of Pabitra Saha's new book on current coins of the world, this sentence should read as follows:

The book is printed on high quality art paper

Sorry I messed that up; he sent me a correction prior to publication, but it fell through the cracks. We'll update our archive, too.


On Counterfeit Numismatic Books

John Kleeberg submitted this note on fake numismatic books. Thanks. -Editor

Gordon Frost discovered a pirated edition of the Red Book, produced somewhere in the Far East. I believe he sold it to Armand Champa and that it was auctioned as part of Champa’s collection. Of course in this case the fake is scarcer and more desirable than the original!

Can anyone identify the lot number, or where the book resides today? Thanks. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: DECEMBER 22, 2013 : Query: Are There Fake Numismatic Books? (

Sulphur Centennial Misspelling
Sulphur Centennial obverse Eagle-eyed reader George Huber writes:

I wonder if the Sulphur coins with the Centenial misspelling will command the same premiums as the Lesus coins?

I missed that! The newspaper article we quoted spelled the word right, but the medal is clearly missing an "n". Oops! Jim Duncan of New Zealand caught this one, too. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:

The Archaeology of Beer
Kavan Ratnatunga writes:

Here's a new line of Archaeological research worth testing on our ancient pots. Season's Greetings and wish you all the best for 2014.

Starting with a few porous clay shards or tiny bits of resin-like residue from a bronze cup, McGovern is able to determine what some ancient Norseman or Etruscan or Shang dynast was drinking as he kicked back thousands of years ago. From a cardboard box, McGovern pulls out several plastic bags containing ancient pottery shards from China. It was from these that he identified the world’s oldest known fermented beverage, dating to about 7000 B.C.—a few centuries after humans began transitioning from hunter-gatherers to farmers. From another box, he pulls out shards and residues collected from four Scandinavian settlements, dating to between 1200 B.C. and 200 A.D. All of them contained traces of an essentially identical beverage, suggesting a drink—McGovern dubbed it “Nordic grog”—that was popular across Scandinavia for more than a millennium.

Details will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Danish Journal of Archaeology. But if your curiosity is more immediate and tends toward the gustatory, head to a nearby wine-and-beer store and request a bottle of the most recent Ancient Ale from Dogfish Head. The Delaware-based brewery launched its Ancient Ale Series in 1997, and in 1999 collaborated with McGovern to make Midas Touch, a brew that was inspired by the residue found on pottery fragments in a 2,700-year-old tomb in Turkey.

To read the complete article, see: The Archaeology of Beer (

Scoring Big With Physical Bitcoins
Regarding physical Bitcoins, I wondered if any of our readers add one of these to their collection before the Bitcoin price skyrocketed. Ben Keele writes:

Some time ago I purchased two of these Cassius physical 1-Bitcoins. At the time, a Bitcoin unit was about $3, so I spent a bit over $6 since I was paying for the manufacture of the tokens and shipping. To redeem the Bitcoin codes and use the funds digitally, one must remove a holographic sticker from one side of the token. I planned to never remove the sticker and thus keep my tokens in "mint" condition.

However, after a while Bitcoin went up to around $40 a unit, and I couldn't resist making a little profit. I peeled off the hologram and exchanged the digital Bitcoin for around $80 cash. As I write this email, Bitcoin is over $700 a unit, and was over $1,000 a month or so ago, so it appears I timed the market very poorly! My wife and I joke that if I had invested all our retirement savings in Bitcoin at $3 and sold at $1,000, we'd be on our way to a very nice retirement. However, I probably would have given myself an ulcer obsessing over the Bitcoin market and deciding when to sell!

I still have the tokens and stickers--in addition to giving me a decent story, they remind me I shouldn't invest much in such volatile goods.

Congratulations on a great buy! This is a wonderful example of why I recommend to people that they collect and document TODAY the numismatic items that are made TODAY. If our generation of collectors doesn't do it, it may someday be too late.

Items like these should be collected for our national museums, too. I would add to my recommendation that anyone purchasing such items for their own collections purchase some duplicates as well. Someday they could be sold or donated to repositories such as the National Numismatic Collection, the American Numismatic Association, and the American Numismatic Society. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: U.S. GOVERNMENT SHUTS DOWN PHYSICAL BITCOIN MINTER (

Query: Wesley Cox Contact Information Sought

Dave Bowers would like to catch up with researcher Wesley Cox. Does anyone have his contact information? Thanks. -Editor
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