Volume 11, Number 27, July 6, 2008
This week we open with a note about the new cumulative index to The Asylum and an update on the balloting for NBS' list of the greatest works of American numismatic literature. Next, Dick Johnson reviews the new book on national Commemorative Medals.
Other new books discussed this week include Len Augsburger's Treasure in the Cellar, Steve Tompkins' book on early U.S. quarter dollars, and two works from Whitman Publishing on paper money.
In items inspired by previous E-Sylum discussions, we cover freezing water-damaged books, U.S. territorial tokens, and the debate over donating collections to museums. Queries this week cover topics including the deluxe Newcomb on large cents.
In the new, the History Detectives examine a coin said to be shot by Annie Oakley, and a German banknote firm bows to pressure and stops supplying banknote paper to the Zimbabwe government.
To learn what makes a Good-For token worth over $5,000, read on. Have a great week, everyone.
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
Although E-Sylum subscriptions are free to all, only paid members of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society receive The Asylum, our quarterly print publication. The latest copy (Volume 26, Number 2) arrived in my mail box this week, together with a special Volume 25 Supplement, a cumulative index of The Asylum from 1980 through 2007.
Compiled by William Malkmus, the index spans 52 pages of entries, organized by Author and Subject headings. NBS and numismatic bibliophiles and researchers in general owe Bill was thunderous round of applause for his dogged multiyear effort to create and maintain the index of this important publication. E-Sylum readers are missing out if they don’t sign up as NBS members. For membership information, see the box at the top right of each E-Sylum. The latest issue (April-June 2008) contains these articles:
I've received sixty or so ballots and have about half of them tallied up. All the data is in an Excel spreadsheet so we'll be able to analyze it in different ways. Many of the usual suspects are towards the top of the list. Preliminary results will be available at the American Numismatic Association convention, and the top 100 will be published in a future edition of The Asylum. It's not too late to vote and I will accept ballots until July 15. Also, we will accept ballots with less than 100 entries.
Dick Johnson submitted the following review of William Swoger's new book, National Commemorative Medals of the United States of America Since 1873.The first thing you notice about Bill Swoger's new book are the fantastic color illustrations. Every medal in the book, National Commemorative Medals of the United States of America Since 1873, is illustrated in color. In addition, every different composition, and every variety, is illustrated in color as well.
The author also illustrates a wide variety of associated items in color: leaflets, stamps, tickets, badges, first day covers, postal cards, medal envelopes, order forms, expo certificates, and in one case, a painting and paper money showing the same design as on the medal. Associated items amplify the meaning and importance of the medal with these items, usually collectors' items in themselves.
To the author's credit he has unearthed data not elsewhere found in numismatic literature. He did extensive research on national medals, those medallic items issued by the government for a wide variety of purposes, most often for American expositions, the inevitable "official medal" because of the government issue imprimatur.
There are 79 medals covered in this 320-page book. After the 53 national events, part 2 covers those medals issued by government agencies (they are numbered 201 to 208), part 3 are medals to honor memorials (301 to 308), and part 4 are for private organizations (401 to 409).
The author has updated the previous listing of these medals (by Howard L. Turner, Commemorative Medals Struck at the United States Mint which appeared in the July 1968 issue of The Numismatist and a second installment in the September 1977 issue). Bill Swoger's text is in uniform format: the authorizing act, the event's history, the ceremony, the medal. Every medal is described.
Without question the author was very concerned with accuracy throughout the work. I have yet to find a factual error. I was uncomfortable, however, with the spreadsheet index. I noticed some names were not indexed, while similar ones were.
You will enjoy the color illustrations and the book's accuracy. And if you do not like the exuberant price, get on the waiting list to borrow this book at the ANA library.
I just wanted to say thank you to all the E-Sylum readers who have already sent payment for the pre-publication offering of my new book, Early United States Quarters 1796 - 1838. The printed signatures should be at the binders this week, with hopefully a small quantity of the finished books being available at the upcoming ANA convention. I also wanted to remind anyone who has been procrastinating in placing their order (and you know who you are!), that after July 15 the price will be raised to the cover price of $89.00 plus postage. Any order postmarked by the 15th of July will be taken at the pre-publication price of $79.00 delivered. Please send all payments to the address listed below: Steve Tompkins
P.O. Box 1946
Sequim, WA 98382
Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing forwarded an article from the Whitman Review about one of the latest titles of U.S. paper money. -Editor
In the 416 pages of this fully updated new edition, the history buff is treated to a study of American currency from the War of Independence to the modern day. The art aficionado, meanwhile, is immersed in full-color galleries of the beautiful, ornate, richly symbolic artistry of American paper money. Currency collectors have, in the Friedberg numbering system, the perfect system for cataloging their collections. Sellers and buyers alike benefit from the book’s retail valuations across several grades for each series.
It’s easy to see why the first edition of the Guide Book won a Numismatic Literary Guild award (“Best Specialized Book, U.S. Paper Money,” 2005). Now the second edition carries on that tradition. Every federal note—from the ultra rare Demand Notes of 1861 to the lunch money in our wallets today—is described in detail in this new volume. Also given full treatment are War of 1812 Treasury Notes, encased postage stamps, Fractional Currency, and error notes. Fascinating narrative captures the history of American paper money, and also explores recent developments in the hobby and market.
To read the complete article, see: Collecting the Nation’s Wealth (http://www.whitmanbooks.com
Len Augsburger forwarded the following information about his new book. -EditorTreasure in the Cellar, the story of the Baltimore gold hoard of 1934, published by the Maryland Historical Society, is now available in three formats. Ordering options are as follows: 1) The deluxe version comes in half leather, with marbled end paper, raised spine bands and gilt pages (images attached). Ten copies were prepared by Kater-Crafts Bookbinders of Pico Rivera, CA. Priced at $295, postpaid. Email to email@example.com to order a copy.
2) The regular hardbound version is priced at $33 postpaid and may be ordered via the same email address.
3) The card cover version can be ordered from Amazon, priced at $17.16. The Amazon link is http://www.amazon.com/Treasure
For more information, see: www.TreasureInTheCellar.com/
The deluxe half leather is pictured above - it looks gorgeous. I bought the regular hardcover version and was very impressed with the format. Printed on archival paper with a beautiful glossy dustjacket, it's a first-class production published by the Maryland Historical Society. -Editor
Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing forwarded this announcement about SPMC's Book of the Year award. Congratulations! -EditorThe Society of Paper Money Collectors awarded Hugh Shull its 2008 “Book of the Year” medal, for the Guide Book of Southern States Currency (Whitman Publishing, 2007). The award was presented in June at the Memphis International Paper Money Show.
“This is a wonderful honor to be recognized by my peers in the hobby community,” said Shull.
The SPMC award is the third won by Shull for Southern States Currency. The book also received the 2007 Professional Currency Dealers Association’s Literary Award and a 2007 Extraordinary Merit award from the Numismatic Literary Guild.
Shull’s book is an authoritative guide to the state-issued money of the South, from the pre–Civil War era through the war years, and into the late 1800s. It combines his research and first-hand knowledge of the market with historical text by Wendell Wolka. Detailed descriptions, hundreds of full-color images, and valuations in multiple grade levels add to its value for the historian and the collector.
Roger Burdette forwarded the following press release describing a new arrangement with Wayne Herndon's Wizard Coin Supply to distribute Roger's Renaissance of American Coinage books.Wizard Coin Supply and Seneca Mill Press LLC proudly announce the appointment of Wizard Coin Supply as the exclusive distributor for the Renaissance of American Coinage books by Roger W. Burdette. All three deluxe, hard cover research books have been the recipients of acclaim from numismatic professionals and collectors nationwide. The Renaissance of American Coinage series consists of: Renaissance of American Coinage 1905-1908 (Saint-Gaudens/Theodore Roosevelt collaboration and new gold coinage designs); Renaissance of American Coinage 1909-1915 (Lincoln Cent, Buffalo Nickel and Panama Pacific commemoratives); and, Renaissance of American Coinage 1916-1921(Mercury Dime, Standing Liberty Quarter, Walking Liberty Half Dollar and Peace dollar).
Currently boasting one of the largest selections of coin books and coin collection supplies in the numismatics industry, Wizard Coin Supply adds to its already impeccable reputation with the addition of the Renaissance series. "This is an important advance in the distribution of these ground breaking research books," commented author Roger Burdette. "Wizard Coin Supply brings a wealth of talent and distribution access to the numismatic community that will increase the availability of these works to collectors."
The Renaissance series, printed in the United States, is recognized by savvy collectors as a landmark compilation of numismatic research. The 1916-1921 and 1905-1908 volumes in the series were awarded with Numismatic Literary Guild Book of the Year Awards in 2006 and 2007 respectively, while the 1909-1915 volume will be considered for the same accolade later this summer. The early twentieth century coin era explored in the books is generally considered to be one of the most exciting in the history of United States coinage. "The degree of exhaustive research and original analysis that defines the Renaissance series is unique among numismatic literature," notes Sir Wayne Herndon (Wizard eschews traditional titles in favor of thematic ones) responsible for production selection at Wizard Coin Supply. "Roger was particularly careful to avoid merely regurgitating prior works which, in many instances, serves to perpetuate misinformation and popular myths within numismatics."
"Becoming the official and exclusive distributor of the Renaissance series is yet another way that we are delivering the very best in numismatics literature to our discerning customers," said Wizard's Lady Karin Herndon. "We believe the books of the Renaissance series thoroughly capture the excitement of the coin design and artistry of the early twentieth century - perhaps the most significant period of coin design in U.S. history." Beginning on July 1, 2008, all orders for books in the Renaissance series should be made directly through Wizard Coin Supply.
John and Nancy Wilson submitted the following note on dealer and author Roy Pennell, Jr, who passed away June 17. -EditorIt was with deep sadness that we learned of the passing of our good friend J. Roy Pennell, Jr. at the 32nd International Paper Money Show held in Memphis last weekend. Roy passed away on June 17, 2008. Up until a few years ago Roy always had a table at this important Syngraphic show. One thing we will miss is the wide smile he had on his face when we stopped by his table to say "Hi" and look at his material.
Probably in the late 1990's Roy had Dr. Jack Vorhie's share or be at the table with him. Dr. Vorhies passed away in 2007. Roy's contributions to the numismatic hobby are not well known outside the Syngraphic area. He was an author of the Obsolete Banknotes of North Carolina published in 1966 in Anderson, SC. Mr. Pennell was an avid collector of South Carolina obsolete notes. He also reprinted some counterfeit detectors from the obsolete era. Roy also reprinted a Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson sheet which contained many different vignettes, denominations and ornaments of all kinds. We think 998 were produced in the middle 1980's by Roy. The ABNCo used the original plate to produce the sheets. One is framed on our wall in our home.
Few know this, but Roy also handled the sales of the ABNCo produced Souvenir Cards for the Society of Paper Money Collectors (SPMC). He handled that project for several years. We took it over in the 1980's from Roy and handled the sales for the SPMC for several years until the program ended.
We knew J. Roy Pennell, Jr. as a Dealer, Collector, Author, Speaker, Researcher and Coin Club Officer. Mr. Pennell served in several capacities for the SPMC. He was Secretary from 1964-1967; Second Vice-President from 1969-1971 and President from 1971-1975. He also wrote many articles for the SPMC publication Paper Money. He joined the American Numismatic Association in 1945. Mr. Pennell donated many rare items to the ANA over the years. He also donated to the American Numismatic Society. In 1985 the ANA awarded him their Medal of Merit and in 1998 the President's Award. Probably among others he received the SPMC Nathan Gold Memorial Award in 2006. He served on the U. S. Assay Commission in 1969.
Though Mr. Pennell had a stroke probably 20 years ago, it didn't stop him from taking a table at the annual paper money convention in Memphis. It was always nice to stop by his table and say "Hi" to him and look through his material. We remember about 15 years ago Roy started to bring out some very rare notes for sale. He had many Plate Proofs of U. S. notes as well as hundreds of Proof Obsolete Notes. He had many hundreds if not thousands of Die Proof Vignettes. We have probably a half dozen die proof vignettes that match up to obsolete notes we purchased from Roy. Our checkbook that year took a major hit, and it took us at least a year to pay Roy off for the material we purchased.
You will find below a link to his Obituary from the local newspaper, the Greenville News. Roy was a gentle, knowledgeable, friendly and dedicated numismatist who gave not only his talents and donations to the numismatic community, but also to the community he was a life long resident of. He will be missed by his many hundreds of friends in the numismatic community. We have made a donation to the ANA in his memory. All of our prayers and thoughts to his wife Arden and the rest of the Pennell family. Rest in Peace Roy, your memory will live on forever. To read the complete article, see: J. Roy Pennell Jr. (http://www.greenvilleonline
The Pennell counterfeit detector reprints were made in 1977 and bound in green cloth. They are:
Click on the Title page below, then click "All Sizes" to see a larger image. Look closely and you'll see a note that the original from which the reprint was made was in the Eric P. Newman numismatic library.
Editor Gary Trudgen forwarded this note about the latest issue of The Colonial Newsletter. -EditorThe August 2008 issue of The Colonial Newsletter: A Research Journal in Early American Numismatics (CNL) has been published.
We start with a Technical Note from Clem Schettino where he reports on three new What'sIt?s, all created from genuine New Jersey coppers. A What'sIt? is a state copper where the original design was altered by a skilled engraver often resulting in a new variety. Clem reviews the previously recorded specimens and then presents the three new unreported New Jersey What'sIt?s. Images are provided of each specimen along with metrological data.
Frank Campbell, the longtime and highly respected ANS librarian, retired earlier this year. John Kleeberg, who worked with Frank, has written an appreciation of Frank and his career at the ANS Library. Integrated into the paper, John also provides suggestions on how a numismatic researcher can get the most out of the ANS Library. John's insights and recollections truly make interesting reading.
Next we are pleased to welcome a new author, Oliver D. Hoover, to the pages of CNL. Oliver is well known to many CNL readers through his published work in other ANS publications. Oliver's first contribution to CNL is an in-depth study of the Wood 33 copper. This halfpenny-sized copper is often associated with Canadian blacksmith coppers because it was included in the 1910 study of blacksmiths by Howland Wood. Over the years, however, many numismatists have come to realize that Wood 33 is more closely related to British evasion coppers than it is to Canadian blacksmiths. Oliver's groundbreaking study comes to the same conclusion - Wood 33 should be considered an imported evasion copper into Canada rather than a Canadian-made blacksmith.
Our final paper delves into the Potosí Mint scandal of the mid-1600s and its possible influence on the creation and operation of the Massachusetts Bay Mint. Authored by Dr. Philip Mossman in his never ending quest to improve upon his book Money of the American Colonies and Confederation, Phil studies the Potosí scandal and its effect upon the world's currency standard. In his book he had speculated that some of the questionable money consigned to the Massachusetts Bay Mint was from the Potosí scandal of 1648. However, based upon his current study of the scandal he has found that his original hypothesis needs to be revised. Anyone with an interest in Spanish-American coinage will find Phil's latest work very interesting and informative.
CNL is published three times a year by The American Numismatic Society, 75 Varick St., 11th Floor, New York, NY 10013. For inquires concerning CNL, please contact Megan Fenselau at the preceding postal address or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone (212) 571-4470 ext. 1311.
The latest issue of Paper Money, the official publication of the Society of Paper Money Collectors (July/August 2008, Whole No. 256) highlights the recent work of several paper money researchers. The cover article by editor Fred L. Reed III focuses on the Stage Money used in the recent film Mad Money.
The lead article by Kristin Aguilera covers the opening of the new location of the Museum of American Finance in New York City. An article by Donn Pearlman highlights Operation Bernhard counterfeit notes.
I've been a member of SPMC since about 1980 and have always enjoyed the periodical. Under Fred's editorship it keeps getting better an better. Numismatic bibliophiles should be sure to check our Fred's "Editor's Notebook" column - this issue mentions upcoming paper money books by Steve Whitfield (Kansas paper money), Neil Shafer (panic scrip), Eric Newman (early U.S. currency), and Fred himself (two books: one on Lincolniana and the other a 2nd edition of his encased postage stamp book.
The latest issue of The MCA Advisory (Volume 11, No. 5, June 2008) features a great article by Tony Lopez exploring the connections between three important eighteenth century medals:
Tony had learned of a possible connection between the medals while reading John Adams and Anne Bentley's Comitia Americana book. His detailed article (illustrated with color images and closeups) proves the connection and posits a common source.
The MCA Advisory is a great source of information for researchers and is interesting to read. Where else will you see the word "immixtion" in print? For more information, see: www.medalcollectors.org
THE BOOK BAZARRE
Can someone elaborate on the process of freezing water-damaged books then "drying them in a controlled environment"? There must be more to the process than this.
I asked Anne Bentley of the Massachusetts Historical Society, who writes:
I haven't had to deal with masses of wet (as opposed to just damp) books, so haven't personally experienced freeze-drying and its results, but I checked the American Institute for Conservation's website, and under their "Caring for your Treasures=> Books," found a fairly straightforward section on freeze drying when I scrolled down to "Emergencies and Minor Disasters": http://aic.stanford.edu
The engraved Morgan dollar discussed last week prompted Alan Weinberg to submit the following. -EditorAbout that Anton Klaus Jamestown, D.T. engraved Morgan dollar that was obtained in Orlando, FL - the most important aspect of that dollar was the reference to D.T. - Dakota Territory. Had it just said North Dakota or N.D. , it would have been just another interesting and rare engraved dollar worth perhaps $100. With the use of D.T., the territorial appellation becomes operative and its value is multiplied by perhaps 10x.
I distinctly recall years ago seeing or examining either this D.T. engraved dollar or one of the other dozen or so made. No question about it.
On a related note, a little Dayton, Washington Territory Good-For trade token sold on July 3rd for $5,852 on eBay (see item #170233628847). The eBay seller, a couple in their 70's, had no idea what they had. NO Washington Territory tokens had been sold on eBay since its inception 10 yrs ago.
The last Washington Territory token to sell was in 2002 for $3,465, at a NATCA Omaha auction . Next to Idaho, Washington Territory is the rarest territory for known tokens with the self-evident territorial designation. There are only about eight different "self-evident" Washington Territory tokens known. This latest piece was previously unknown and unlisted in Al Erickson's massive 1998 Wash trade token tome, Washington Trade Tokens. $5,852 is not a record price for a trade token, although it may be on eBay. Some "Good-Fors" have exceeded $12,000 privately.
I just happened upon your webpage about the tendency of rare items in museum collections to "walk": MUSEUM / COLLECTOR DEBATE RAGES (http://www.coinbooks.org
I was an antiquarian book dealer for fifteen years and was initially scandalized by librarians casually selling donated collections of rare material at pennies on the dollar to raise funds for popular fiction, until I realized this syndrome is the rule everywhere, at every level of value.
Unlike most of my colleagues, I could never bring myself to cultivate librarians and volunteers at book sales to take advantage of it. But, I came to understand that it is always going to come with the territory, given the job mobility of librarians and curators, and the fact that the items entrusted to their care, like the neglected property of the "state" in the old soviet block, do not really belong to any one person.
I used to advise collectors who wanted to bequeath their life's efforts to an institution to have their attorneys write an iron clad contract specifying care and feeding of their collections, and endowing a fund to do so, but as you point out, even that will not protect items in a vault from thieves when the new guardian is unknowledgeable, incompetent, or simply does not care.
I think now that giving the collection to an institution is often worse than leaving it to an irresponsible son in law. It is better than hearing the ephemera has all been hauled off to the dump, which I have encountered more frequently than I care to think about.
At least when the son in law sells it off to dealers, it goes back into the collector community, who are the people who care most about preserving it. I now advise collectors to leave their collections to their biggest rival, along with an iron clad contract that he lend it to an institution.
Dick Johnson submitted this query. Is anyone aware of a medal documenting the erection of a now-missing Lincoln monument? -EditorAs we approach the bicentennial of Abe's birth all kinds of Lincoln lore is coming to the surface. Here is a news story that we did not expect. A Lincoln Monument in Scranton, Pennsylvania is missing.
Historians in the area learned about the monument with a Lincoln Bust atop an elaborately detailed base from a post card illustrating it a local collector's possession. While I don't expect an E-Sylum reader to know the whereabouts of the missing monument, does anyone have a medal issued for the dedication of this monument? It was common practice in the 19th century to issue a medal for such a ceremony. If so a medal might document an important clue. To read the story and see the post card picture, see: Pennsylvania Historians Hunt for Vanished Lincoln Monument () http://www.foxnews.com/story/0
How many photographic plates should be in the book United States Copper Cents 1816-1857 by Howard Newcomb (Deluxe Leather Edition on Heavy Paper)? I have a copy of the book with 11 plates that end with 1843 - is this copy missing some plates? Thank you very much.
Nick Graver forwarded an advertisement from the June 30, 2008 issue of Forbes magazine. The ad is for a silver round with a design copied from sketches in the National Numismatic Collection of the proposed $100 Union coin. "New York Mint Ltd" is the purveyor of the piece, offered in the ad for $99 plus shipping and handling.
I hadn't noticed the ad, which incorporated the Smithsonian Institution logo and states that "a portion of sales proceeds of this licensed product supports the chartered educational purposes of the National Numismatic Collection, located in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History."
Has anyone seen these? I'm curious about their quality, who cut the dies, and where the pieces were made. I contacted Dick Doty at the Smithsonian and he confirmed that these are indeed marketed as part of a deal with the National Numismatic Collection. He also put me in touch with Karen Lee, who writes:
I work at the NNC with Dick and wanted to follow-up with you regarding the $100 Union souvenir. The Smithsonian does co-produce this item with the New York Mint. We worked closely with them to develop the product including packing, storyline and the quality of the item. The NNC receives a portion of the proceeds. As you know, all of the exhibitions, programs and websites we develop must be funded through private means. Revenue from the sale of this product means we have financial help to build a new exhibit --opening here at the American History Museum in Spring 2009.
On occasion the television show "History Detectives" touches on the subject of numismatics. An episode thia week featured an unusual coin, said to be shot by sharpshooter Annie Oakley. Did anyone see the show? -EditorThey'd make a good league of superheroes: Bookish professors and appraisers by day whose alter egos answer calls for help from the public during the summer break and put their well-honed skills to use for the good of all.
At a time when a generation is growing up thinking that research begins and ends with Google, getting out to see actual historical records is important, Luray says.
"You have to go through the records yourself, so you can look at the footnotes that will lead you to the next clue," she said. "The best part of the archives is you can find something you would overlook on the computer. You're always discovering something."
In tonight's premiere, Luray looks into whether a family heirloom, a French coin, was indeed shot by Annie Oakley, as family legend had it.
"Everybody has family folklore," Luray says. "We show how folklore connects to American history."
To read the complete article, see: 'History Detectives' Comes To Hartford For Investigation (http://www.courant.com/entertai
The only thing I've ever seen quite like this is in the collection of the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. It's an 1878 Robert Lovett medal struck by the Western Pennsylvania Numismatic Society; it was shot by a sharpshooter at the Pittsburgh Exposition of that year. -Editor
The American Numismatic Association publicity machine is in high gear for the upcoming Baltimore convention. A number of publications across the country picked up the story of one of the marquee coins to be exhibited. -Editor.
George Fuld writes:
In Sunday's Baltimore Sun (June 29th) there was an article by a Sun reporter on the Kellogg 1853 $20 proof from the Garrett collection. It's owned by Contursi, and he values it at $3 million -- I think a bit extreme. It will be displayed at Baltimore ANA convention (times and dates given in article)-- in a special five foot cabinet made to resemble the coin cabinets at the U.S. Mint in the nineteenth century, Good public relations!!A one-of-a-kind California Gold Rush coin, preserved for years by one of Baltimore's most prominent families, will return here next month for the first time in nearly 30 years.
The 154-year-old $20 gold piece known as the Kellogg Twenty - now worth $3 million - will be displayed during the American Numismatic Association World's Fair of Money in the Baltimore Convention Center from July 30 to Aug. 2. Once owned by Baltimore resident and diplomat John Work Garrett, the coin is considered by collectors to be one of the finest American coins from the mid-19th century.
The coin was made Feb. 9, 1854, by John Glover Kellogg, a New York native who worked as an assayer - someone who tests minerals to determine their composition - during the California Gold Rush.
The coin will be displayed from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. July 30 through Aug. 1, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 2. The event is free and open to the public.
To read the complete article, see: Piece of Gold Rush back in town (http://www.baltimoresun.com
Last we discussed the German banknote firm that was being criticized for supplying banknote paper to the regime of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, where mind-boggling inflation has reduced the population to desperate poverty. On Tuesday the Wall Street Journal and other publications put a spotlight on the firm, which announced that it was giving in to the pressure and halting its shipments of banknote paper to the country.Robert Mugabe has kept his embattled regime in Zimbabwe afloat on a sea of paper money. Now, he'll have to try to do it without the paper.
The Munich-based company that has supplied Zimbabwe with the special blank sheets to print its increasingly worthless dollar caved in to pressure on Tuesday from the German government for it to stop doing business with the African ruler. Mr. Mugabe's regime relies on a steady supply of the paper -- fortified with watermarks and other antiforgery features -- to print the bank notes that allow it to pay the soldiers and other loyalists who enable him to stay in power. With an annual inflation rate estimated at well over 1 million percent, new notes with ever more zeros need to be printed every few weeks because the older ones lose their worth so quickly.
Giesecke & Devrient -- a secretive, family-owned Bavarian company that once made its money churning out worthless cash for the doomed Weimar Republic in the 1920s -- has been airlifting tons of blank notes to the Zimbabwean capital Harare.
Zimbabwe now has a plethora of different bills, most of which have negligible value. An accountant by profession, the MDC treasurer Mr. Mangoma says billions are rarely used in his line of work anymore and have been replaced by quadrillions -- a million billion. "Our economy is too crazy to understand," says Mr. Mangoma.
Vending machines, which take coins, fell out of service in Zimbabwe years ago. A single soda would require the deposit of billions of coins. Hyperinflation, says Steve H. Hanke, a professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and an expert on the subject, "is a very simple equation" -- stop printing money and it stops. A bout of severe hyperinflation in Yugoslavia in the 1990s paused, he says, when the country's mint "just maxed out," and it couldn't print new money fast enough.
But, say Mr. Hanke and others, Zimbabwe will likely find another way to churn out fresh money even without special paper from Germany. He doubts much will change in Zimbabwe unless it gets rid of its central bank and adopts an entirely different monetary system.
Mr. Gono says he's "got a Plan B" to cope with the German paper deficit. It's secret, he says.
To read the complete article, see: Zimbabwe Can't Paper Over Its Million-Percent Inflation Anymore (http://online.wsj.com/article
The indignation reached London as well. The firm is also the maker of the card used by millions of public transport riders.German firm Giesecke and Devrient produce the travel smart card but also supply Zimbabwe with banknotes - a means the discredited leader uses to control his beleaguered people.
Mayor Boris Johnson vowed Transport for London would not renew the firms contract, which is sub contracted out by supplier EDS. The deal runs out and the end of August.
Johnson told the Evening Standard: "It is a huge frustration to learn that there is any link between the Oyster card and a firm providing services to Zimbabwe."
To read the complete article, see: Oyster firm dumped for Zimbabwe links (http://www.thelondondailynews
When I was with the BEP from 1979 to 1988, I was privy to many banknote printers that printed paper currency for beleaguered countries. Hey, I like the word "beleaguered," that has to stand for shunned countries. Government, quasi-government and commercial printers often printed banknotes for countries not in the good graces of the U.N. or the United States.
As I traveled to foreign countries I was often invited to visit their banknote printing operations. At times I would see a roped-off area where a tarp of some sorts would cover the half-finished or finished product. As I was trained by BEP printers, I could actually look at the rapidly turning press and actually see what was being printed. I often spied such banknotes. We all knew that the banknotes had to come from somewhere.
I remember that savant of western banknote history, Ed Rochette, regaling me about the war with Mexico c 1915. The U.S. forces allowed a train from Mexico to travel from El Paso to Pueblo, CO, to pick up an order of Mexican banknotes from a banknote printer located there.
It actually was a couple of BEP offset printers that taught me the art of focusing on a stamp whirling by. They did this to check registration. Try that on a slot machine!
An E-Sylum reader forwarded this article about Challenge Coins from a U.S. Marines Okinawa site. The article reviews some of the stories behind the origin of the "coins". One I hadn't heard before involves "bullet clubs". Have any of our readers been involved with one of these clubs?Challenge coins are minted military coins embossed with a unit's insignia and commander's billet and are often given to service members by commanders to boost morale and honor service.
During a two-day visit to Okinawa by Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James T. Conway and Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Carlton W. Kent, several Marines from various units received challenge coins in recognition of outstanding work performance.
The origin of the tradition cannot be traced to a specific time and place. There are several stories about how the tradition of challenge coins came into existence, some dating back to World War I.
In another story, according to http://www.globalsecurity.org, the tradition of challenge coins may have originated during the Vietnam War. Service members with free time would indulge in a variety of activities, to include drinking at bars.
They formed what was called bullet clubs. Service members on the front lines often carried a separate bullet to use on themselves to avoid being captured by the enemy.
While in the bar, the service members would often challenge each other to see who was carrying that extra round of ammunition.
Anyone who could not produce the round bought drinks the rest of the night. If the challenged person was able to produce the round then his bar tab would be covered by the challenger.
Service members began bringing larger caliber rounds to the bars as a sign of machismo, even cannon and artillery munitions. To avoid the accidental discharge of the ordnance, bullets were replaced with coins bearing the units insignia.
To read the complete article, see: Challenge coins pass on heritage, history of Marine Corps (http://www.okinawa.usmc.mil
An E-Sylum reader forwarded the following link to a related article on the Chattanooga Police Chief's Challenge Coin. -Editor
To read the complete article, see: Officers Receive ''Chief's Challenge Coin'' (http://www.newschannel9.com
The Independent of London published an article this week detailing a South American scam involving counterfeit banknotes with an interesting twist. -EditorFor petty villains in South America, it appears that the quest for the perfect scam for relieving travellers of their excess cash has reached a perfect conclusion. It relies upon the large number of forged bank notes in circulation, but is far more subtle than simply handing over fake bills in change.
For the would-be scammer, the tough part is getting a job in a Peruvian bus station selling tickets for one of the many competing companies. Then it's just a question of timing.
Here's how it works. A gringo passenger turns up and buys a long-distance ticket. He or she pays with a 100-sol note, worth £20. The ticket vendor knows exactly which bus the traveller will be on, and what time it leaves.
Three minutes before departure, he leaves his desk and goes to the bus. He asks the passenger to step down from the bus for a moment because a problem has arisen. The issue, he explains apologetically, is that the 100-sol bill the traveller used to pay for the ticket is a forgery. The villain shows the flaws, and hardly needs to explain the issue: he needs a replacement, and quickly – because the bus is about to leave.
The traveller is understandably aghast at inadvertently passing a counterfeit note. The beauty of the scam is that there is no downside.
David Klinger forwarded the following quotation, which should ring true to every bibliophile -Editor
Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them.
Propaganda becomes extremely important at a time when there is no actual combat by arms. It allows one side to attack the philosophy and beliefs of another, usually at no risk of escalation. For this reason, many millions of leaflets were prepared and disseminated on both sides of the "Iron Curtain", that imaginary wall that divides Europe into East and West and was first mentioned by Winston Churchill in his Westminster College speech of 5 March 1946.
As in many propaganda battles whether political or revolutionary, leaflets in the form of banknotes were produced by both sides. Propaganda leaflets may be avoided by patriotic or frightened citizens of a target country, but anyone will pick up a banknote on the street. That has always been the perfect way to pass insidious propaganda to an unwary reader. The Americans, British, Germans and Russians all used this technique in WWII. Half a decade later in the Korean War the United States once again prepared banknote leaflets.