Jump to content


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Posts posted by mmarotta

  1. At the Dallas ANA convention last week, I met the guys from Banknote Central (www.banknotecentral.com).

    They charge a fair price for their service. If you have a large collection to manage, or if you are a dealer, it can be well worth the cost. Being able to search a full database by image as well as by keywords is especially important for banknotes.


    The Banknote Central guys - Diego Pamio, Julio Staude, and Alejandro Dutto - seemed pretty much like other collectors. Computer programmers (devops) people themselves with a passion for numismatics, they developed the database management system that they would like to use.




  2. Gold Ducats of the Netherlands, Vol. 1 by Dariusz F. Jasek, Knight Press, 2015. 345 pages, A4 (11.7 x 8.3 inches) €135 from www.goldducats.com. (Book Review by Michael E. Marotta)


    I saw Gold Ducats of the Netherlands by Dariusz F. Jasek mentioned on the CoinTalk.com discussion board. From the sample material provided in the links, the book looked like a quality presentation. So, I bought it in order to review it. I do not collect the series. I have not independently attributed the coins cited. I did spend a weekend reading the text, and catching typographical errors. They are inevitable. In software, we say that every non-trivial program has at least one bug. So, museum’s for museums was not the end of the world. Whatever numismatic errors are in the sylloge may be revealed when I take the book to the ANA National Money Show in Dallas March 1-5 of this year. In the mean time, it is easy to give this book my vote of satisfaction.


    In the first place, when opened, the book lays flat. The binding is truly perfect –bound to the highest standards. The illustrations include high quality photographs of every coin (where possible), as well as specially commissioned line art to complement the narrative.


    Perhaps the most telling hallmark is the fact that this is the book that the author wrote for himself. Fascinated by the long series of gold ducats of the Netherlands, Dariusz Jasek compiled a database of known images and descriptions. He arranged for permission for 3,000 images and supporting text from CoinArchives.com, and he obtain license to another 3,000 from the official database of the recently uncovered Koìice Gold Treasure housed in Krakóv, Poland. To those he added 17,000 from auction houses and other sources. This book rests on a monumental database of over 23,000 known examples. Among those, inevitably, are counterfeits, some of which were slabbed by American grading companies.


    The Netherlands gold ducat was an imitation – a sibling, not a usurper – of the ducats of Venice and Florence. The closest cousin was the gold ducat of Hungary. The coin was struck for official and commemorative agendas from the 16th through the 21st centuries. Those and others are all illustrated and catalogued in this book. At root, while acknowledging the broad latitudes of issuance, this book is about the historically relevant coins of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, including piedforts and klippes. The author brings passion and precision to this remarkable series of coins.

  3. Thanks for sharing. You have a fascinating array of modern common notes. If you know nothing about them, they still present compelling images from distant places and different times. The more you know, the more they tell you. For most people with the collector's passions, completeness and perfection are the axes of measurement.

    Some people care a lot about Signatures. Assembling a complete set for each series. With nations such as Brazil or Yugoslavia, that can be a serious challenge - even for the USA which often changes Secretaries of the Treasury at least once every quadrennial administration.


    Personally, one of my pursuits is Authors (poets, printing, and related). Up above in #3305, you show a block of Hungarian notes. The green 10 (Tiz) Forint shows Sandor Petőfi, the most famous poet of the culture. He was a driving force in the romantic nationalist literary movement of the early 19th century. He died in the 1848 revolutions. In any significant anthology of world literature that offers a survey of poetry, one of his will be included.


    Similarly, the 1,000 and 10,000 Lei notes of Romania depict their national poet, Mihai Eminescu.


    If you have any notes from Estonia, you will find their writers on them, also. Estonia is a bit different in that it is the second-most literate nation in the world, as measured by the number of books published per capita in the native language. Back in the Great Depression of the 1930s, when many people were making counterfeit money, Estonians were counterfeiting postage stamps: it is nation of writers.

  4. Thanks for the pictures. I have a few of these myself. I like tokens because they show that anything can be monetized, even (especially!) good will. Just a note, though, to clarify something.


    Haven't started even to look yet, I have seen some from pool halls and saloons that were 12 1/2 cent ones. made a good reason not to give real money back s change. plus they would use it at the establishment for another game of pool/billiards or mug of draft!


    It is true that in times and places where coins were scarce, tokens filled the gap. Tokens provide other conveniences, such as letting the seller change the price. Video game parlors are a good example. Tokens might go from four to five to the dollar, or even 3 or 6, without requiring that the machines be reconfigured to accept pennies and nickels.


    Here and now, bar tokens are mostly good will gestures. If a drink costs $5 and you put down a ten, you do not want five $1 tokens back. But you will accept a $1 token or a free drink token and cash it in later.




    British East India Company silver rupee (shilling)




    Mike M.

  5. I am putting this here, rather than under "Books" because of the extremely broad reach of these coins, both in space and in time: they served global trade for hundreds of years. Modern restrikes continue that tradition. And "restrikes" copies, knock-offs, and fakes are also part of the glorious history of these coins, apparently. I mean that in the positive sense. Like any successful trade coin - the Athenian Owl or English Sterling Penny - these were imitated in good metal.


    Also, I have not yet received the book, hence, no review. It should arrive from Europe in a couple of weeks. However, you can see previews of pages and learn more about the coins and the book here:





  6. This promises to become a complete (and compelling) catalog. Volume 1 (an overview of all of that nation's coins and currency) was released in 2014. Volume 2 ("Modern Coins of Mexico: 1905 to Date") came out late last year. Volume 1 is complete catalog, but not a price guide. Volume 2 continues the narrative format for each coin. However, in addition, Volume 2 includes family Red Book style pricing tables by years and grades.


    The Foreward for Volume 1 was written by Dr. Manuel Galan Medina, Director General of Currency Issues (retired), Banco de Mexico. The Foreward for Volume 2 comes from Beth Deisher, former editor-in-chief of Coin World.


    Mexican Money. Whitman Publishing. Volume 1. 490 pages. $39.95); Volume 2. 474 pages. $39.95.



  7. Before the Mafia took over Las Vegas, Nevada, Las Vegas, New Mexico, was the place associated with the name. From the days of the Santa Fe Trail, Las Vegas, New Mexico, was the entrepot to the territory, even after statehood in 1912. Although Santa Fe always was the territorial capital, even in the days of the Spanish and later while Old Mexico held the territory, that town depended on Las Vegas. At that time, Albuquerque was little more than the square called "Old Town" today. It was only after World War II that Albuquerque took off like an A-bomb on a V-Rocket.

  8. Chopmarked Coins: A History; the silver coins used in China 1600-1935 by Colin James Gullberg (iAsure Group JEAN Publications, June 2014, 187 pages, 8-1/2 x 11, color ill., $55 + S&H).


    For most collectors in most times and places, these were just damaged coins, worth less than unmarked coins in the same grade. For merchant sailor and numismatist, Frank M. Rose, they became a passion. For over 25 years, his 1987 work, Chopmarks, stood alone. Now, it has a worthy companion.


    This is a narrative about collecting, a history of economics in China, and an overview of a huge, unexplored area of numismatics. It is the tip of the iceberg.


    Gullberg illustrates the history of western silver coins in China with examples from his own collection, the Rose collection, and several other sources such as the British Museum, and Stacks Bowers. Coins are arranged by their initial year of issue. An example from 1848 stands for the 1825 Cap & Rays; the 1867 Chile Peso is illustrated with a coin from 1877. The running narrative closes with necessary warnings about fakes.


    This is not a catalog of chopmarks, though many are explained in the text. If you are seeking to identify the chops on your coins against these, you will have to look at a lot of pictures. Some are easy to spot. The number eight is considered lucky and 8 is a chopmark that stands out among the other characters.


    This book provides our hobby with a much-needed framework for further study. For the new collector–as Gullberg himself was new only a decade ago–this book will introduce a rich, complex, and compelling world.



    I am not familiar with this part of numismatists.

    what is the newsletter about, it sounds interesting




    Chopmarks are Chinese characters and similar symbols punched into silver coins from western nations that circulated in China and East Asia from the 17th through the early 20th centuries. You can find chopmarks on Spanish and Mexican silver dollars easily, but also on large and small Dutch, English, US, and other coins. The chopmarks were added by "shroffs" professional coin testers and money-changers who also provided ad hoc banking services.


    Recent issue of Chopmark News PDF from 2011 includes my article "The Shroff."

  10. Whitman has issued a pared-down, large format, "bookzine" edition of the Guide Book of United States Coins by Yeoman and Bressett. It is intended for the novice collector, the person newest to American coins, perhaps attracted to the State Parks quarters, or having inherited a collection, needs to start "somewhere." If you are an active collector and have a Red Book - just one? - this is not the book for you. However, this is a great gift. The large 8-1/2 x 11 format allows big pictures and big type.

    The front matter narrative is essentially the same as the Red Book you know. The large type makes it seem less formidable.

    The focus here is entirely on US Federal. Pre-federal and colonial issues get only a nod. More attention goes to Nova Constellatio and Fugio coppers, and the Coins of 1792. Merchant tokens, Hard Times Tokens, Civil War Tokens, and Pioneer Gold have been removed.

    Whitman editor and publisher Dennis Tucker told me that the idea for this edition came from big box retailers who wanted something that they could put in a magazine rack. I have to admit that everyone goes through the checkout lanes. We all pretty much agree that we want to advance and extend the hobby. This is an excellent way to achieve that.

  11. I was going to make all the same comments and then some. In this day, glorifying war is the worst of blasphemies against everything that is and of civiilzation.


    (Plus, as an American, a lot of the tiny iconography is lost on me and the guy on the coin looks like the Kaiser. Maybe the royals are exploring their roots.)

  12. NEWTON AT THE MINT (excepts from "Sir Isaac Newton: Warden and Master of the British Royal Mint" The Numismatist, November 2001.)


    In the 1690s, much of the silver coinage had been in circulation for a hundred years or more. Counterfeiting was easy because so many silver coins were worn beyond recognition and were trimmed small.

    In 1695, Isaac Newton served on a Regency Council with John Locke and Sir Christopher Wren, among others, to consider the problem. Newton and William Lowndes, Secretary of the Treasury, both favored issuing new coins that were devalued by 20%. Reducing the size or purity of the new coins would bring them in line with the statistical norm of the circulating coinage. The Bank of England and John Locke objected and their arguments held sway.

    The solution was to create a new currency of "milled" (machine-struck) silver coins. They would have machined edges with milled patterns and mottoes to defeat clippers. In order to make the new currency work, all of the old silver would have to be called in and replaced. On December 19, 1695, King William III proclaimed that in 1696, the old coinage could not be lawful money at face value. The recoinage floundered. Parliament pushed back the dates past which old coins could be accepted. In the Spring and Summer of 1696, simple bartering reappeared at a level not seen since the Middle Ages. In the first four months, January to April 1696, a mere ₤300,000 of new coins left the Mint. Then, Newton arrived.


    Every historian agrees that Newton's unfailingly honesty was the key to his success at the Mint. The Master, Thomas Neale, was lazy and rarely bothered to visit the Mint. Netwon showed up for work at 4:00 am and also made the night shift. He actually occupied the lodgings for the Warden, which no Warden had done in anyone's memory. Watching the coiners, he began time-and-motion studies. Analyzing the data, he found ways to improve efficiency. By June, the output of new coins increased ten times over to ₤4.7 million. Total output in all denominations weighed 3000 pounds (weight) per day.


    Newton worked 16 hours a day and investigated every detail of production. He also researched the historical documents that enabled and empowered the officers of the Mint. He wrote long legal arguments, establishing and expanding his powers as Warden. He studied all of the economics books he could find. In 1696, he issued a "State of the Mint" report, denouncing the officers and ministers who lined their pockets at the expense of the King and the people. Newton applied his own expertise in metallurgy to confront the suppliers to the Mint, renegotiating their contracts to the king's favor. As the king's Warden, Newton also pursued counterfeiters.


    Newton estimated that 20% of the coins taken in were counterfeit. Counterfeiting was treason, punishable by death by drawing and quartering. As gruesome as the penalties were, the courts were not arbitrary or capricious. The rights of free men had a long tradition in England and the crown had to prove its case to a jury. The law also allowed for plea bargaining. Convictions of the most flagrant criminals could be maddeningly impossible to achieve. Newton was equal to the task.

    He assembled facts and proved his theories with the same brilliance in law that he had shown in science. He gathered much of that evidence himself. Disguised, he hung out at bars and taverns. For all the barriers placed to prosecution, and separating the branches of government, English law still had strong, old customs of authority. Newton got himself made a justice of the peace. Between June 1698 and Christmas 1699, he conducted some 200 cross-examinations of witnesses, informers and suspects. He obtained the confessions he needed. While he could not resort to open torture, whatever means he did use must have been fearsome because Newton himself later ordered all records of these interrogations to be destroyed. However he did it, Newton won his convictions. In February 1699, he had ten prisoners waiting to be executed.

    Newton's greatest triumph as the king's attorney was against William Chaloner. Chaloner was a rogue with a devious intelligence. He set up phony conspiracies of Catholics and then turned in the hapless conspirators whom he entrapped. Chaloner made himself rich enough to posture as a gentleman. Petitioning parliament, Chaloner accused the Mint of providing tools to counterfeiters. (This charge was made also by others.) He proposed that he be allowed to inspect the Mint's processes in order to improve them. He petitioned Parliament to adopt his plans for a coinage that could not be counterfeited. All the time, he struck false coins, or so Newton eventually proved to a court of competent jurisdiction. On March 23, 1699, Chaloner was hanged, drawn, and quartered.




    The Master of the Mint, Thomas Neale, died on December 23, 1699. In February 1700, Newton received the post. Technically, the Master was less senior than the Warden. However, the Master's "indenture" (or "contract") paid him for each coin struck. Out of that payment, he paid other contractors. Newton made a profit of 3 1/2 pence per troy pound weight of silver coin struck. His profit of gold coin was 22d per pound weight. He gained another ₤500 from the striking of copper coins. He earned additional profits from the tin trade. His average income was about ₤2150 to a maximum of about ₤3500. It is difficult to translate this into modern terms -- Newton could never own a computer or drive a car -- but his income was over a million modern American dollars per year in terms of his standard of living.

    The Act of Union required Newton's attention. Making Scotland part of England included bringing the Edinburgh Mint in line with the standards of the London Tower. Newton managed this from London with his old friend David Gregory working in Edinburgh. It was a familiar story: supplies did not arrive on time; bookkeeping was insufficient; the metallurgy was not standardized.

    The Edinburgh Mint heated its caldrons with pit coal which burned hotter than the coal used in London; copper was lost in the alloying. The Scots simply added a dash more copper to make the mix come out .925 fine. This unquantified artistry was unacceptable to Newton. However, in the end, he relented. Nonetheless, Newton required two incremental additions of copper rather than one, and more intermediate assays to establish control.

    The War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) pitted the Hapsburgs of Austria against the Bourbons of France. Each wanted an heir from their houses to be the next king of Spain. Holland and England joined Austria against France and her Spanish allies. In the summer of 1702, a French escort sailed with a Spanish treasure fleet from Cuba. Normally, they would have unloaded at Cadiz, but that town was under seige. They put in at Vigo on Spain's northwest coast on September 23, 1702, and began unloading. On October 11, a combined English-Dutch fleet of 50 ships arrived. Only 25 of them could actually make the shallow harbor. It was enough.

    Newton was present when the treasure from Vigo Bay was unloaded. The Mint actually got only the excess gold and silver that could not be wholesaled immediately. The Mint coined only ₤13,342 in silver and a mere 34 pounds weight in gold. Even so, the prize of war was important enough that coins struck from the gold and silver carried the provenance mark "Vigo."

    Among the gold coins struck was the massive five guinea of 1703, a hefty 41.75 grams of 22 carat gold. Although three dies were used to strike these coins, fewer than 20 pieces survive. Other gold coins with bearing the mark Vigo were the guinea, and half guinea of 1703. Silver coins with the Vigo privy mark are the crown, half crown, shilling and sixpence. The shilling is interesting because it bears the Vigo mark for 1702, the year of the battle, as well as 1703.

    In 1720, Newton commended one Mr. Orlebar for the creation of a bimetallic token for the Royal Navy, intended to replace the paper chits that were widely forged. In 1722, King George I granted a patent to William Wood to produce copper coins. We know them as the Rosa Americana and Hibernia issues. Newton defined some of the terms of the contract, assuring safeguards to the crown. He also served as comptroller of Wood's mint in Bristol though he appointed a deputy to carry out the work for him. Newton also filed several reports on the wide values of silver coinage in the American colonies.


    Most men were elevated by accepting an appointment to the Royal Mint. Newton raised the status of the institution he joined because his was the greater reputation.

  13. Sir Isaac Newton was born on Christmas Day 1642 (Old Style) which was modernized to 4 January
    1643. However, we still like to note that Newton was born in the year that Galileo died, 1642.
    Few people except numismatists know him to have been the Warden and Master of the British Royal Mint. For most people, Newton is famous for his Three Laws of Motion. Beyond that, those with additional education know him for inventing the Calculus to prove his theories of celestial and terrestrial mechanics. In addition Newton invented the reflecting telescope as a result of his experiments with light. And he also proved the general case for the Binomial Theorem ("Pascal's Triangle"). We tend to ignore his religious writings, the extent of which actually eclipsed his scientific production. His Arian beliefs foreshadowed modern Unitarianism, but he swore under oath to be a Trinitarian so that he could teach at Cambridge.
    The origins of Newtonmas are murky at best. A 1892 issue of Nature magazine bestows the carol credit on some Victorian-era English scientists. Newtonmas picked up momentum—in keeping with Newton’s Second Law of Motion, of course—in 2007, when the evolutionary biologist and prominent atheist Richard Dawkins championed it ... In 2009, the holiday got a pop culture bump when television’s “The Big Bang Theory” had Sheldon, a physicist, try to place a bust of Newton on a Christmas tree. When his roommate replied with a snarky, “Merry Newtonmas, everyone,” Sheldon replied, “I sense that’s not sincere, though I have no idea why.”
    Cute as that all may be, no one identifies Newton as Master and Warden of the British Royal Mint.However, Sir Issac Newton served for 30 years as Warden and Master of the British Royal Mint. Yet his biographer, David Berlinski (Newton's Gift: How Sir Isaac Newton Unlocked the System of the World by David Berlinski), calls these years "uninteresting."


  14. Wow... I had completely forgotten what it was like... but, yes, I will give numismatic items to others, now that you mentioned it... Gee...


    The thing is that I stopped collecting in 2001. I am a writer. I really do not have the "missing gene" for collecting. (Former Krause editor and president and former ANA President Clifford Mishler called collecting "a gene you do not inherit." In other words, collectors are a special kind of person, and it may not run in families.) So, I did not think about a "numismatic Christmas" beyond my annual "Newtonmas" post.


    Thanks for mentioning it. Like Scrooge sending the boy for the goose, I will make this a numismatic Christmas for someone else.

  15. Cannot show mine: technical problems. However, I do have a story...

    In 1991-1993 and again in 1997, I taught factory automation for automotive production in and around Detroit. I started with Kawaski Robotics; Ford Motor Company was our largest client. Later, I worked for Carl Zeiss and GM was the buyer of their coordinate measuring machines. Most of my client learners were UAW skilled trades. I started off teaching the way I had been taught K-12 and college -- and it did not go well.


    I thought that the problem was that I did not know enough about manufacturing. So, I took a community college class. We had to write a term paper, of course; and it seemed easiest to write about training. It was then that I discovered that in the library the books about training are nowhere near the books on education. I joined the American Society for Training and Development and changed my style.


    Many of my client learners were from Canada. And most of them, being from Detroit, Minneapolis, and Buffalo were aware of Canada.


    So, after the usual sign-ins and orientations, I started the classes by showing a Canadian silver dollar. I held up the reverse. "The Canadian silver dollar shows two men in a canoe. One is a native, the other is a Voyageur. In the canoe if you use a magnifier you can see that the bundles have HB for Hudson's Bay Company on them. The two men had the same goals, the same tools, but the native knew the lay of the land. That's what I am here for."


    Things went better from there.

  16. Estonia 10 krooni honoring Jakob Hurt and folklore.

    In my Gallery under Authors.

    I think that my problem posting illustrations is a matter of privileges.



    Jakob Hurt (22 July [O.S. 10 July] 1839 in Himmaste – 13 January 1907 [O.S. 31 December 1906] in St Petersburg) was a notable Estonian folklorist, theologist, and linguist. With respect to the latter, he is perhaps best known for his dissertation on "pure" -ne stem nouns ("Die estnischen Nomina auf -ne purum", 1886). He is also featured on the 10 krooni note.

    Also known as the "king of Estonian folklore", Hurt planned the publication in the 1870s of a six volume series called Monumenta Estoniae Antiquae. Hurt organised around 1400 volunteer collectors via a press campaign, who visited almost every house in Livonia collecting around 124,000 pages of folklore. However due to financial difficulties, only two volumes of folk songs were published in 1875-76, titled Vana kannel (Old Harp). Two more volumes were subsequently published quite some time later in 1938 and 1941. Hurt also published a three volume collection Setukeste laulud (The Setus' Songs) between 1894 and 1907.
    Wikipedia - Jakob Hurt



  • Create New...