Facts About Coin Collecting

Wondering what the name is for an individual that collects coins? That would be a Numismatist. (Pronounced new-miss-ma-tist.) It means “someone who studies and collects things that are used as money, including coins, tokens, paper bills, and medals.”

Interested in the art of coin collecting? This type of collection was once called “The Hobby of Kings”. Today, numismatics is a hobby available to anyone. With coins flooding the internet, anyone with access and a desire to hold history their hand is able to join in on this passion. Believe it or not, the origins of this captivating hobby are quite unusual. Until the 20th century, coin collecting was exclusively a pastime of royalty and wealthy.

The first recorded person to have a coin collection was Augustus Caesar, the first emperor of Rome. He lived from 63 B.C. to A.D. 14, and the eighth month of our year is named after him.

Not only did Augustus keep adding coins to his collection, but he also gave them as gifts. Starting this trend, many of the Roman emperors who ruled after Augustus also had large coin collections. The hobby became even more popular during the Middle Ages, when wealthy individuals and royal families built awesome collections.

This question may have crossed your mind from time to time, how long do coins last? And what happens to them once worn out? Most coins can circulate for about 25 years before they become too worn to be used anymore. That’s a long time when you consider that the average dollar lasts for only 18 months.

The United States Mint recycles worn-out coins it receives from a Federal Reserve Bank. The Mint then sends any usable metal that’s recovered to a fabricator, then repurposes for new coinage.

At first glance, many coins may look almost identical, but when you see the difference in the price tag you may think twice about how similar they really are. The things that affect the value of the coin most are age, rarity, condition, and precious metal. The value of any one coin can be surprising. For example, you can buy some Roman coins that are more than 1600 years old for less than $10.  But then there are some worn 1909 wheat pennies that sell for hundreds of dollars, or more!

Usually, the harder a coin is to find and the more people who want it, the more it’s worth. This is known as the law of supply and demand. It holds true no matter what the collectible.

The motto IN GOD WE TRUST first appeared on a U.S. coin in 1864, during the Civil War. In particular, the two-cent piece; first minted in that year, was the first coin with the slogan.

Since gaining independence, the U.S. has minted coins in denominations that today may seem odd. For example, the U.S. has minted half cents (1793-1857), two-cent pieces (1864-1873), three-cent pieces (1851-1889), twenty-cent pieces (1875-1878), $2.50 gold pieces (1796-1929), $3.00 gold piece (1854-1889), $4.00 gold pieces (1879-1880), $5.00 gold pieces or half eagles (1795-1929), $10.00 gold pieces or eagles (1795-1933), and $20.00 gold pieces (“double eagles”) (1849-1933). Currently, the only coin denominations for circulation being minted are the penny, nickel, dime, quarter, half dollar, and dollar.

Coin collecting is a pastime that has been around for thousands of years. It can grow with you as you find interest in different time periods in history, art-work of a particular coin and culture. There are as many avenues in coin collecting as you wish to travel, and with coins you can venture virtually anywhere around the world and to any period of time back to early human civilization right from the comfort of your home. Coin collecting can be a journey into history that lasts a lifetime – and the first coin to strike your interest may be sitting in your pocket or local coin shop right now.

Enjoy your journey in this very exciting hobby!

What is the difference between silver and white gold?

White gold is a mixture of pure yellow gold and other white metals, to give it a white presence very much like silver. White gold is often coated with a metal called Rhodium to strengthen and give it an extra shine and long lasting quality. On the other hand, Sterling Silver is pure silver that is mixed with copper to make jewelry, and has a shiny white look like white gold. This is an affordable alternative to white gold, although it does need polishing more often.

The determination between white gold and silver isn’t as easy of a choice as it once was. Many people today are choosing the exquisite look of silver even when they can afford gold, and others who thought they couldn’t afford gold are choosing the pure, shiny gloss that only white gold can offer.

A lot of people actually question what the difference is between the two. Due to their similar looks, it’s obviously tough to tell the difference between silver and white gold at first glance. They’re so comparable, it’s possible to think they are the same thing, or made of similar materials, when this could not be further from the truth! But, before you make a decision it’s important to weigh out the pros and cons of white gold vs. silver before deciding on one or the other.

Silver is a shiny, white precious metal that’s often mixed with copper when making jewelry, also known as sterling silver. Mixing pure silver with other materials gives it the strength to ensure it won’t be too soft to create beautiful jewelry pieces. Sterling Silver is the least expensive of the white metals. It’s usually stamped “925,” which means 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals.

White gold is created by combining pure gold and a white metal such as nickel or palladium, which gives the unique shiny white look to the regular gold. Many people have concerns about whether white gold or silver products contain nickel, since it’s such a common source of sensitivity. Nickel is the main metal people are allergic to, and jewelry that contains this can be very irritating to the skin and cause itchy and painful reactions. It’s important to ensure that if you have sensitivities to nickel, that any piece of jewelry you buy will be nickel-free.

There is a material called Rhodium, which is a precious metal often used for plating white gold jewelry, because of its alluring finish and how it gorgeously sets off the white gold. The Rhodium plating is perfect to include with the white gold; however this finish does wear off over time and require re-plating occasionally.

Silver – Has a very shiny and lustrous finish, Is an affordable and beautiful budget-friendly alternative, Substantially lower price than white gold, Tends to be much softer than white gold and can change shape over time, Silver also shines brightly when new; however this will need to be cleaned more frequently to maintain its lustrous look, because it often tarnishes.

White Gold –Has a beautiful mirror-like white shine, from its Rhodium plating, Is a great choice if you have a higher budget and want a fine quality material, Considered an investment, since it’s a very high quality and damage-resistant material, Has a more durable, hard finish that’s able to hold more intricate details, Stays shiny for a long time, needs re-plating with Rhodium every couple years or so.

One of the biggest differences, when you’re weighing white gold or silver, is clearly the price. Silver is a much cheaper material, and is quite beautiful if you are on a budget and looking for quality elegant sterling silver jewelry. White gold costs $23.86 per gram, while sterling silver costs only $0.59 per gram. So when you’re making the difficult decision between white gold vs. silver, cost is definitely a major deciding factor for most people. But you might be surprised by a beautiful piece of white gold jewelry you absolutely adore. And while it might be a stretch to afford gold, it’s definitely worth the higher price tag for white gold to invest in a lasting, beautiful quality piece.

At the end of the day, whether you choose white gold or silver, knowing and considering these different characteristics of these two metals will help you decide which option is going to give you the gorgeous piece of jewelry you’ll be proud to wear and enjoy for a lifetime.

Dirty Money

Have you ever wondered where your money has been? Well, I can tell you that it is probably dirtier then you think.

The anatomy of our banknotes is concerning, more so than that of our copper coinage, which appears to be less hospitable to bacteria. U.S. notes, made from a blend of 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen, may be more attractive to bacteria than other countries’ currency. Polymer-based banknotes used in Australia and Canada have been found to be “cleaner,” meaning more resistant to dirt and bacteria, than cotton-based ones. There are no plans to change the composition of American money, however, the Federal Reserve wrote in an e-mail responding to queries. The Fed, which oversees the nation’s monetary policy and sets interest rates, said U.S. currency is not a very effective transmission agent for germs. It cited a 1982 study about survival of influenza viruses on environmental surfaces. 

Microbes, or microscopic organisms, are found on many surfaces – from restrooms, airplanes and buses. They are transferred through human contact. And money could serve as a mode of transportation for bacteria – posing a threat to human health.

Last year alone, there were 23,000 deaths caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With the studies that have been taken, finding that flu viruses can persist on banknotes. Swiss researchers found in one 2008 study that flu viruses, which typically survive for a couple days on Swiss francs, can survive up to 17 days if accompanied by mucus, possibly spelling trouble for folks who handle cash after someone else with a runny nose has handled it as well. Still other studies of cash from around the world specifically point to high bacterial counts on money handled by food workers or on hospital grounds.

The dollar bill is home to thousands of microbes — bacteria, fungi and pathogens that can cause such illnesses as skin infections, stomach ulcers and food poisoning, according to scientists. Researchers at New York University have identified as many as 3,000 kinds of bacteria living on $1 bills in a new comprehensive study examining DNA on paper currency. Researchers at New York University have identified as many as 3,000 kinds of bacteria living on $1 bills in a new comprehensive study.

Money has a large role in daily life. Although we often touch a variety of objects that could be capable of absorbing, harboring and transmitting infectious organisms, money seems to be present often and it is often close to food. “It is more probable to handle money and then food than to touch a subway pole or a commonly used doorknob and then food,” notes Manolis Angelakis, an infectious diseases researcher at Aix–Marseille University, who has studied dirty money. There is no definitive research that connects enough dots to 100% prove that dirty money actually makes people sick, but we do have strong circumstantial evidence: influenza, norovirus, rhinovirus and others have all been transmitted via hand-to-hand or surface-to-hand contact in studies, suggesting pathogens could readily travel a hand-money-hand route. In one study 10 subjects handled a coffee cup contaminated with rhinovirus—and half subsequently developed an infection, so next time you are counting through your money, maybe wash your hands before you decide to eat.

The History of St. Patrick’s Day

Saint Patrick’s Day is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland.

Patrick was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. What is known about Saint Patrick comes from the Declaration, which was allegedly written by Patrick himself. It is believed that he was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century, into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the Christian church. According to the Declaration Patrick was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland when he was sixteen years old. It says that he spent a total of six years working as a shepherd and that during this time he found God. The Declaration says that God spoke to Patrick, and told him to flee to the coast, where a ship would take him home. After making his way home, Patrick went on to become a priest.

Irish Government Ministers travel abroad on official visits to various countries around the globe to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and promote Ireland. The most prominent of these is the visit of the Irish Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) with the U.S. President which happens on or around St. Patrick’s Day.

Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century and is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Lutheran Church. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, and celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general. Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, céilís, and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. Christians who belong to liturgical denominations also attend church services and historically the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol were lifted for the day, which has encouraged and propagated the holiday’s tradition of alcohol consumption.

Saint Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat. It is also widely celebrated by the Irish diaspora around the world, especially in the United Kingdom, Canada, United States, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival.

According to the tale, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. The Declaration says that he spent many years in the northern half of Ireland and redesigned the religious beliefs of thousands. Patrick’s efforts against the religious leaders were eventually turned into a legend in which he drove “snakes” out of Ireland.

Tradition holds that he died on 17 March and was buried at Downpatrick. Over the following centuries, many legends grew up around Patrick and he became Ireland’s most memorable saint.

Conventionally, the Taoiseach presents the U.S. President a Waterford Crystal bowl filled with shamrocks. This ritual began when Irish Ambassador to the U.S. John Hearne sent a box of shamrocks to President Harry S. Truman in 1952. From that moment, it became an annual tradition for the Irish ambassador to present the St Patrick’s Day shamrock to an official in the U.S. President’s administration. However, it was only after the meeting between Taoiseach Albert Reynolds and President Bill Clinton in 1994 that the presenting of the shamrock ceremony became an annual event for the leaders of both countries for St Patrick’s Day.

Needless to say, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in many countries and one of the longest-running and largest St. Patrick’s Day parades occurs each year in Montreal, Canada, whose city flag includes a shamrock in lower right corner. The yearly celebration has been organised by the United Irish Societies of Montreal since 1929. The parade has been held yearly without interruption since 1824. St Patrick’s Day itself, however, has been celebrated in Montreal since as far back as 1759 by Irish soldiers in the Montreal Garrison following the British conquest of New France.


In present day, celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, Irish traditional music sessions, and wearing green clothing, accessories and/or shamrocks. There are also formal gatherings such as banquets and dances, although these were more common in the past. St Patrick’s Day parades began in North America in the 18th century, but did not spread to Ireland until the 20th century. The events have participants from all walks of life, they generally include marching bands, the military, fire brigades, cultural organizations, charitable organizations, voluntary associations, youth groups, fraternities, and so on.

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have been criticised, particularly for their association with public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. Some argue that the festivities have become too commercialized and have become somewhat cut-rate and have strayed from their original purpose of honouring St Patrick and Irish heritage. Journalist Niall O’Dowd has criticised attempts to recast St Patrick’s Day as a celebration of multiculturalism rather than a celebration of Irishness.

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have also been criticized for fostering offensive stereotypes of Ireland and the Irish people themselves. An very well known example is the people who partake in dressing in ‘leprechaun outfits’, which are based on derogatory 19th century caricatures of the Irish. On St. Patrick’s Day in 2014, the Ancient Order of Hibernians successfully campaigned to stop major American retailers from selling novelty merchandise that promoted negative Irish stereotypes. This year consider your celebrations and the way you can honor Ireland and Ireland’s beloved Saint Patrick.

The Life of Senator Francis Cockrell

We have a lot of things laying around our shop and today we wanted to delve a bit more into a letter we have here written by Francis Marion Cockrell in which he discusses his reelection as Senator in 1886.

Francis Marion Cockrell was an American politician from the state of Missouri and a Confederate military commander. He served as a United States Senator from Missouri for five terms. He was a prominent member of the famed South–Cockrell–Hargis family of Southern politicians.

Cockrell was born in Warrensburg, Missouri to Nancy (Ellis) and Joseph Cockrell, the sheriff of Johnson County. He had an older brother named Jeremiah Vardaman Cockrell, who was a congressman in the 1890s. Francis Cockrell attended local schools and Chapel Hill College in Lafayette County, Missouri. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1855, practicing law in Warrensburg until the outbreak of the Civil War.

At the beginning of the American Civil War in 1861, Cockrell joined the Missouri State Guard as a Captain. After being mustered into the Confederate States Army in the 2nd Missouri Regiment in early 1862 he was promoted to colonel. Cockrell commanded a brigade in the Vicksburg Campaign. He distinguished himself at the Battle of Champion Hill, launching a counterattack that temporarily ousted troops of XVII Corps off the hill. He also took part in the Battle of Big Black River Bridge. His brigade was able to escape just before federal troops seized the bridge.

Cockrell was promoted to brigadier general on July 18, 1863. He went on to fight in many of the battles of the Atlanta Campaign, and participated in Hood’s Tennessee Campaign later that year. In 1865 Cockrell commanded a division in defence of Fort Blakely, Alabama. On April 9, 1865, shortly before the war ended, Cockrell was captured there but was paroled on May 14. After the war Cockrell returned to his law practice in Missouri.

In 1874, Cockrell, who became a member of the United States Democratic Party, was elected to the U.S. Senate from Missouri by the state legislature. His first and only elected office, he served in the Senate from 1875 to 1905, when he retired. He held several committee chairmanships, including the chairmanships of the Claims Committee, Engrossed Bills Committee and Appropriations Committee during his senate career. He received 42 votes for President of the United States at the 1904 Democratic National Convention, but was defeated by Alton B. Parker.

He was appointed to the Interstate Commerce Commission by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905, serving in that capacity until 1910. In 1911, he was appointed commissioner to negotiate the boundaries between the state of Texas and the New Mexico Territory, which was about to become a state. In 1913, Woodrow Wilson appointed him as the civilian member on the Board of Ordnance and Fortifications for the War Department, where he served until his death in Washington, D.C.

The letter we have reads:

July 10th 1886

E. M. Davidson, Esq.,

My Dear Sir: –

I shall be detained here till after your nominations are made. I must rely upon friends to care for my interests. I have tried to do my whole duty honestly and faithfully and if reelected shall continue to do so. I will gratefully appreciate and remember the valuable services and influence you and render and exert in securing for my reelection the votes of your County Representative and State Senator. All I ask is a free and fair and full expression of the preferences of our Democratic voters and for them to decide whether it is for their best interests to reelect me or to choose a new man. The people are the sovereigns and have the right to require their agents – their County Representative and State Senator – each by his vote to reflect the preference of those who elect them. I had hoped that the question would have been left to voters at the primaries when and where each Democrat would have declared his will and preference. Please see our Democratic voters and get them actively and earnestly so that they will make known to the candidates their preference and will learn the views of the candidates. I shall be glad to hear from you and to serve you when I can.

With best wishes, your obedient servant and friend,

Deliberation of Art or Fraud

James Stephen George Boggs was born in Woodbury, New Jersey on January 16, 1955.

James Boggs began drawing currency in 1984, sitting in a Chicago diner the artist began drawing on a paper napkin as he consumed his breakfast. He began with sketching the number 1, easily recognized on the $1 denomination. Boggs then transformed the image into a piece of art similar to the dollar bill. Eagerly, his waitress offered to buy it. Mr. Boggs refused, but instead payed for his 90 cent tab with the drawing and the waitress gratefully handed him 10 cents in change. Needless to say, at that very moment an idea sparked that would change the path of his life. His drawings of currency, illustrating only one side of the note, came to be known as “Boggs notes”. James Boggs notes were considered to be art. He would tell a collector where he spent the note and the details of the transaction, but he would never sell the notes directly. The buyer would then hunt down the person in possession of the note in order to purchase it. Boggs noted that after the initial transaction the notes would be resold for much more than their face value, it is said that one Boggs notes resold for $420,000.

One of his well known pieces are a series of bills done for the Florida United Numismatists’ annual convention. Denominations from $1 to $50 (and perhaps higher) feature designs taken from the reverse sides of U.S. currency, making minor changes to captions such as: “The United States of America” is changed to “Florida United Numismatists” and the denomination wording is occasionally replaced by the acronym “FUN”. Also changes to the imagery; the mirroring of Monticello on the $2, the Supreme Court building, as opposed to the U.S. Treasury, on the $10 and an alternate angle for the White House on the $20 bill. They were printed in bright orange on one side and featured Boggs’s autograph and thumbprint on the other.

 Boggs viewed his “transactions” as a type of art, but the authorities often viewed him and his work with speculation. Boggs wanted his audience to question and investigate just what it is that makes “money” valuable in the first place. 

“I create images that say things and ask things,” Mr. Boggs said in the 2013 Discovery Channel documentary “Secret Life of Money.” “I take them out into the real world and try to spend them, not as counterfeits, but as works of art that ask us about the nature of money.”

He firmly denied that he was a counterfeiter or forger, but rather maintained that a good business model between informed parties that this performance was certainly not fraud, even if the item transacted happens to resemble currency. Boggs was first arrested for counterfeiting in England in 1986, and was successfully defended by the human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC & Mark Stephens and acquitted. As detailed in Geoffrey Robertson’s book The Justice Game, all Bank of England notes now carry a copyright message on the face as a direct result of Boggs’s activities, the idea being that if they cannot secure a counterfeiting charge, then they can at least secure a copyright violation. He was arrested for a second time in Australia in 1989, acquitted and awarded the equivalent of US$20,000 in damages by the presiding judge. Boggs home was raided three times between 1990 and 1992 by the United States Secret Service on suspicion of counterfeiting. Resulting in the raids, 1300 items were confiscated, although no legal case was brought against him. In September 2006, Boggs was arrested in Florida and charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and carrying a concealed weapon. He failed to appear in court a few months later.

Police bust Boggs at the Young Unknowns Gallery, London, 1986

“They said I was a counterfeiter,” an indignant Mr. Boggs told The Associated Press in 1992, when agents in the counterfeiting division of the Secret Service raided his apartment near Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he was an artist in residence, and took possession of more than 100 of his artworks. “They don’t understand the difference between art and crime.”

With the immense talent he held, it is no wonder prestigious museums sought after this work. Some of the artwork can be found in numerous places, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Smithsonian Institution, Babson College, Wellesley, Massachusetts, Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, Florida Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence Kansas and the British Museum in London, England. Boggs died on January 22, 2017 in Tampa at the age of 62, but his story will live on forever through his work and his legacy.

New Year’s Good Luck Cake

Vasilopita is a New Year’s Day bread or cake in Greece and many other areas in eastern Europe, which contains a hidden coin that is believed to bring luck to the one who obtains the coin. It is associated with Sainr Basil’s day. (Saint Basil’s Feast Day is observed on January 1, the beginning of the New Year and the Epiphany season known as the Vasilopita Observance) January 1, in most of Greece, but in some regions, the traditions surrounding a cake with a hidden coin are associated with Epiphany or Christmas The dough in which the coin is placed varies immensely depending on personal preference and location/region. In some families, instead of dough, it is made from a custard base. The pie is known as Chronópita, meaning New Year’s Pie.

On New Year’s Day families cut the vasilopita to bless the house and bring good luck for the new year. This is usually done at the midnight of New Year’s Eve. A coin is hidden in the bread by slipping it into the dough before baking. At midnight the sign of the cross is etched with a knife across the cake. A piece of cake is sliced for each member of the family and any visitors present at the time, by order of age from eldest to youngest. 

In older times, the coin often was a valuable one, such as a gold sovereign. As time went on, the tradition of a costly coin (in most cases) changed. In more modern times, a gift, money or prize is given to the coin recipient. Many private or public institutions, such as societies, clubs, workplaces, companies, etc., cut their vasilopita on New Year’s Day and the beginning of the Great Lent, in celebrations that range from impromptu potluck gatherings to formal receptions or balls.

How did this tradition start you may ask? In popular belief, vasilopita is associated with a legend of Basil of Caesarea. According to one story, Basil called on the Roman citizens of Caesarea to raise a ransom payment to stop the enemy forces from surrounding the city, cutting off essential supplies with the aim of compelling the surrender of those inside. Each individual of the city gave what they had in gold and jewelry. When the ransom was raised, the  adversary was so embarrassed by the people’s cooperation that he called off the siege without taking a thing. Basil was then tasked with returning the unpaid ransom, but had no way of knowing which items belonged to which family, so he baked all of the jewelry into loaves of bread and distributed the loaves around the city, and by a miracle each citizen received their exact share.

World’s Columbian Exposition

The World’s Columbian Exposition was a world’s fair held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival to the New World in 1492. The fair was open for 6 months from May 1, 1893 to October 30, 1893 and boasted a total of 27,300,000 visitors.

The layout of the Chicago Columbian Exposition was, in large part, designed by John Wellborn Root, Daniel Burnham, Frederick Law Olmsted and Charles B. Atwood. It was the prototype of what Burnham and his colleagues thought a perfect city should be. It was designed to follow Beaux Arts principles of design, namely French neoclassical architecture principles based on symmetry, balance, and splendor. The color of the material generally used to cover the buildings façades gave the fairgrounds its nickname, the White City. Many prominent architects designed its 14 “great buildings”. Artists and musicians were featured in exhibits and many also made depictions and works of art inspired by the exposition.

The exposition covered 690 acres and featured nearly 200 new (but deliberately temporary) buildings of predominantly neoclassical architecture, canals and lagoons, and people and cultures from 46 countries. The World’s Columbian Exposition’s scale and grandeur far exceeded the other world’s fairs.

Exposition entry tickets

The fair was planned in the early 1890s during the Gilded Age of rapid industrial growth, immigration, and class tension. World’s fairs, such as London’s 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition, had been successful in Europe as a way to bring together societies fragmented along class lines.

The first American attempt at a world’s fair in Philadelphia in 1876, drew crowds but was a financial failure. Nonetheless, ideas about distinguishing the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ landing started in the late 1880s. The exposition corporation and national exposition commission settled on Jackson Park and an area around it as the fair site in Chicago.

The fair opened in May and ran through October 30, 1893. Forty-six nations participated in the fair, constructing exhibits and pavilions and naming national “delegates”. The fair was originally meant to be closed on Sundays, but the Chicago Woman’s Club petitioned that it stay open. The club felt that if the exposition was closed on Sunday, it would restrict those who could not take off work during the work-week from seeing it.

The World’s Columbian Exposition was the first world’s fair with an area for amusements that was strictly separated from the exhibition halls. This area, developed by a young music promoter, Sol Bloom, concentrated on Midway Plaisance and introduced the term “midway” to American English to describe the area of a carnival or fair where sideshows are located. It included carnival rides, among them the original Ferris Wheel, built by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. This wheel was 264 feet tall and had 36 cars, each of which could accommodate 40 people.

Other attractions at the fair included:

  • Life-size reproductions of Christopher Columbus’ three ships, the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria
  • A series of lectures on the Science of Animal Locomotion in the Zoopraxographical Hall. A zoopraxiscope was used to show moving pictures to a paying public, the hall was the first commercial movie theater.
  • An Anthropology Building featured “The Cliff Dwellers” a rock and timber structure that was painted to recreate Battle Rock Mountain in Colorado, a stylized recreation of American Indian cliff dwelling with pottery, weapons and other relics on display.
  • The “Street in Cairo” included the popular dancer known as Little Egypt. She introduced America to the suggestive version of the belly dance known as the “hootchy-kootchy”.
  • The first moving walkway or travelator. It had two different divisions: one where passengers were seated, and one where riders could stand or walk. It ran in a loop down the length of a lakefront pier to a casino.
The Viking, a replica of the Gokstad ship
  • Norway participated by sending the Viking, a replica of the Gokstad ship. It was built in Norway and sailed across the Atlantic by 12 men, led by Captain Magnus Andersen.
  • Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, where historian Frederick Jackson Turner gave academic lectures reflecting on the end of the frontier which Buffalo Bill represented.
  • The electrotachyscope of Ottomar Anschütz was demonstrated, which used a Geissler tube to project the illusion of moving images.
  • The German firm Krupp had a pavilion of artillery, which apparently had cost one million dollars to stage, including a coastal gun and a breech-loaded gun.
The Krupp Pavilion
  • Architect Kirtland Cutter’s Idaho Building, a rustic log construction, was a popular favorite. The building’s design and interior furnishings were a major precursor of the Arts and Crafts movement.
  • Horticultural exhibits at the Horticultural Hall included cacti and orchids as well as other plants in a greenhouse.
John Bull Locomotive
  • The John Bull locomotive was displayed. It was only 62 years old, having been built in 1831. And a Baldwin 2-4-2 locomotive was showcased
  • Among the other attractions at the fair, several products that are well known today were introduced: Juicy Fruit Gum, Cream of Wheat, and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer

Architecture was also an incredible draw for the Exposition. Most of the buildings of the fair were designed in the neoclassical architecture style. The area at the Court of Honor was known as The White City. Façades were made not of stone, but of a mixture of plaster, cement, and jute fiber called staff, which was painted white, giving the buildings their “gleam”. Architecture critics derided the structures as “decorated sheds”. The buildings were clad in white stucco, which, in comparison to the tenements of Chicago, seemed illuminated. It was also called the White City because of the extensive use of street lights, which made the boulevards and buildings usable at night.

The White City

Other great architectural installments include:

  • The Administration Building, designed by Richard Morris Hunt
  • The Agricultural Building, designed by Charles McKim of McKim, Mead & White
  • The Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building, designed by George B. Post. If this building were standing today, it would rank second in volume and third in footprint on list of largest buildings (130,000m2, 8,500,000m3).
  • The Mines and Mining Building, designed by Solon Spencer Beman
  • The Electricity Building, designed by Henry Van Brunt and Frank Maynard Howe
  • The Machinery Hall, designed by Robert Swain Peabody of Peabody and Stearns
  • The Woman’s Building, designed by Sophia Hayden
Golden Arch at Louis Sullivan’s Transportation Building
  • The Transportation Building, designed by Adler & Sullivan
  • The Fisheries Building designed by Henry Ives Cobb
  • Forestry Building designed by Charles B. Atwood
  • Horticultural Building designed by Jenney and Mundie
  • Anthropology Building designed by Charles B. Atwood

Almost all of the fair’s structures were designed to be temporary; of the more than 200 buildings erected for the fair, the only two which still stand in place are the Palace of Fine Arts and the World’s Congress Auxiliary Building. Three other significant buildings survived the fair. The first is the Norway Building, a recreation of a traditional wooden stave church. After the Fair it was relocated to Lake Geneva, and in 1935 was moved to a museum called Little Norway in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin. In 2015 it was dismantled and shipped back to Norway, where it was restored and reassembled. The second is the Maine State Building, designed by Charles Sumner Frost, which was purchased by the Ricker family of Poland Spring, Maine. They moved the building to their resort to serve as a library and art gallery. The third is the Dutch House, which was moved to Brookline, Massachusetts.

The White City on Fire

Since many of the other buildings at the fair were intended to be temporary, they were removed after the fair. The White City so impressed visitors (at least before air pollution began to darken the façades) that plans were considered to refinish the exteriors in marble or some other material. These plans were abandoned in July 1894, when much of the fair grounds was destroyed in a fire.

The fair garnered many famous visitors and performers such as:

  • Helen Keller, along with her mentor Anne Sullivan.
  • Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, visited the fair in summer of 1893.
  • A Wellesley College English teacher named Katharine Lee Bates visited the fair. The White City later inspired the reference to “alabaster cities” in her poem “America the Beautiful”.
  • The Exposition was extensively reported by Chicago publisher William D. Boyce‘s reporters and artists.
  • There is a very detailed and vivid description of all facets of this fair by the Persian traveler Mirza Mohammad Ali Mo’in ol-Saltaneh written in Persian. He departed from Persia on April 20, 1892, especially for the purpose of visiting the World’s Columbian Exposition.
  • Pierre de Coubertin visited the fair with his friends Paul Bourget and Samuel Jean de Pozzi. He devotes the first chapter of his book ” Souvenirs d’Amérique et de Grèce ” (1897) to the visit.
  • Scott Joplin, pianist, from Texarkana, Texas; became widely known for his piano playing at the fair.
  • Swami Vivekananda visited the fair to attend the Parliament of the World’s Religions and delivered his famous speech “Sisters and Brothers of America!”.
  • Sissieretta Jones, a soprano known as “the Black Patti” and an already-famous opera singer performed at the fair
  • Kubota Beisen was an official delegate of Japan. As an artist, he sketched hundreds of scenes, some of which were later used to make woodblock print books about the Exhibition.
  • Serial Killer Herman Mudgett (H. H. Holmes) attended the fair with two of his victims, Annie and Minnie Williams.
  • Joseph Douglass, classical violinist, who achieved wide recognition after his performance there and became the first African-American violinist to conduct a transcontinental tour and the first to tour as a concert violinist.

The fair also had hundreds of artists featured. From painters, sculptors, and a feature on women’s artists. To list or delve into those talents is beyond the scope of this post.

Mayor Carter Harrison

The fair ended with the city in shock, as popular mayor Carter Harrison, Sr. was assassinated by Patrick Eugene Prendergast two days before the fair’s closing. Closing ceremonies were canceled in favor of a public memorial service.

After the fair closed, J.C. Rogers, a banker from Wamego, Kansas, purchased several pieces of art that had hung in the rotunda of the U.S. Government Building. He also purchased architectural elements, artifacts and buildings from the fair. He shipped his purchases to Wamego. Many of the items, including the artwork, were used to decorate his theater, now known as the Columbian Theatre. Although not available for purchase, The George Washington University maintains a small collection of exposition tickets for viewing and research purposes. The collection is currently cared for by GWU’s Special Collections Research Center, located in the Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library.

Examples of exposition souvenirs can be found in various American museum collections as a way for everyone to remember the incredible World’s Columbian Exposition. One example, copyrighted in 1892 by John W. Green, is a folding hand fan with detailed illustrations of landscapes and architecture. Charles W Goldsmith produced a set of ten postcard designs, each in full colour, showing the buildings constructed for the exhibition. Columbian Exposition coins were also minted for the event. Similarly, the first pressed penny souvenir was a featured exhibit.

The Columbian Exposition has celebrated many anniversaries since the fair in 1893. The Chicago Historical Society held an exhibition to commemorate the fair. The Grand Illusions exhibition was centered around the idea that the Columbian Exposition was made up of a series of illusions. The commemorative exhibition contained partial reconstructions, a video detailing the fair, and a catalogue similar to the one sold at the World’s Fair of 1893.


For More Posts on the World’s Fairs:
The World’s Fair | A History
Seattle’s Architectural Icon: The Space Needle
A History of Pressed Pennies
The Columbian Exposition Coin that Challenged the Way a Nation Views Women
The First Commemorative Stamps
T
he 1933 Chicago World’s Fair Through Vintage Postcards
The 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair Exposition Seen Through Vintage Postcards


The 1974 Aluminum Cent

In 1973 the United States Mint proposed an aluminum one-cent coin. It was to be composed of an alloy of aluminum and trace metals, and intended to replace the predominantly copper–zinc cent due to the rising costs of coin production in the traditional bronze alloy.

Of the 1,571,167 coins struck in anticipation of release, none were released into circulation. In an effort to gain acceptance for the new composition, the Mint distributed approximately three dozen examples to various members of the House Banking and Currency Committee and the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. Nine congressmen and four senators received examples, along with some Treasury officials. Additional specimens were given out by then Mint Director Mary Brooks. Ultimately, the proposal was rejected in Congress, due mainly to the efforts of the copper-mining and vending machine industries, which felt the coins would cause mechanical problems. Opposition also came from pediatricians and pediatric radiologists who pointed out the radiodensity of the metal inside the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts was close to that of soft tissue, and therefore would be difficult to detect in X-ray imaging. In addition, the price of copper declined enough that making copper cents would again be economically viable, and conversely made hoarding pointless. The idea of changing the composition of the cent would not be explored again until the 1980s.

After the setback, the US Mint recalled the coins, but about 12 to 14 aluminum cents were never returned to the mint. No oversight, record keeping, or statement that the coins had to be returned was made by the US Mint as examples were handed out. When Federal Bureau of Investigation and other government law enforcement agencies were called in to investigate, however, some congressmen either feigned ignorance or completely denied getting examples. One left over coin was donated to the Smithsonian Institution, while another was alleged to have been found by a US Capitol Police Officer. A 1974-D specimen was found in January 2014 by Randall Lawrence, who said it was a retirement gift to his father, who worked at the Mint in Denver. Randall planned on selling it in a public auction, but the Mint demanded its return, saying that the coin was never authorized for release and therefore remains U.S. Government property. Lawrence (and his business partner at their coin store, Michael McConnell) ultimately surrendered the coin when the Mint showed that the aluminum cent had never been authorized to be struck in Denver, and there was no evidence that the coin had been a gift of any kind.

Traveling with Postcards: Atlantic City

Atlantic City Boardwalk

The Atlantic City Boardwalk opened on June 26, 1870, originally intended as a temporary structure erected for the summer season that was the first boardwalk in the United States. The Boardwalk starts at Absecon Inlet in the north and runs along the beach south-west to the city limit 4 miles away then continues 1 1⁄2 miles into Ventnor City. Casino/hotels front the boardwalk, as well as retail stores, restaurants, and amusements. Notable attractions include the Boardwalk Hall, House of Blues, and the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum.

The Boardwalk has been home to several piers over the years. The first pier, Ocean Pier, was built in 1882. It eventually fell into disrepair and was demolished. Another famous pier built during that time was Steel Pier, opened in 1898, which once billed itself as “The Showplace of the Nation”. It now operates as an amusement pier across from the Hard Rock. Captain John Lake Young opened “Young’s Million Dollar Pier” as an arcade hall in 1903, and on the seaward side “erected a marble mansion”, fronted by a formal garden, with lighting and landscaping designed by Young’s longtime friend Thomas Alva Edison. Young’s Million Dollar Pier, Atlantic City’s largest amusement pier during its time”, was transformed into a shopping mall in the 1980s, known as “Shops on Ocean One”. In 2006, the Ocean One mall was bought, renovated and re-branded as “The Pier Shops at Caesars” and in 2015, it was renamed “Playground Pier.” Garden Pier, located opposite Revel Atlantic City, once housed a movie theater, and is now home to the Atlantic City Historical Museum.

Lucy the Elephant

Lucy the Elephant is a six-story elephant-shaped example of novelty architecture, constructed of wood and tin sheeting in 1881 by James V. Lafferty in Margate City, New Jersey, approximately five miles south of Atlantic City. Originally named Elephant Bazaar, Lucy was built to promote real estate sales and attract tourists. Today, Lucy is the oldest surviving roadside tourist attraction in America.

Through the first half of the 20th century, Lucy served as a restaurant, business office, cottage, and tavern (the last closed by Prohibition). The building was depicted on many souvenir postcards, often referred to as “The Elephant Hotel of Atlantic City.” (The actual hotel was in a nearby building, not inside the elephant.)

By the 1960s, Lucy had fallen into disrepair and was scheduled for demolition. In 1969, Edwin T. Carpenter and a group of Margate citizens formed the Margate Civic Association, which later became the Save Lucy Committee under Josephine Harron and Sylvia Carpenter. They were given a 30-day deadline to move the edifice or pay for its demolition. Various fundraising events, the most successful a door-to-door canvass by volunteers, raised money.

On July 20,1970 Lucy was moved about 100 yards to the west-southwest to a city owned lot and completely refurbished. The move took about seven hours. The building’s original wooden frame was buttressed new steel, and the deteriorated howdah was replaced with a replica. A plug of green glass set into the howdah platform refracts light into Lucy’s interior.

Knife and Fork Inn

The Knife and Fork Inn is a restaurant located at the confluence of Atlantic and Pacific Avenues in Atlantic City, NJ which was first opened in 1912 as a private club by “the Commodore” Louis Kuehnle and then in 1927 “on the eve of prohibition” became an exclusive dining room catering to the municipalities’ upper echelons founded by the New York City hotelier Milton Latz.

Among the celebrities and power brokers who wined and dined there during its original run were entertainers such as Rosemary Clooney, Vic Damone and Bob Hope, as well as the casino mogul Steve Wynn and two former Governors of New Jersey, James Florio and Christine Todd Whitman. However it would be one specific mover and shaker later to be fictionalized in the HBO megahit series Boardwalk Empire, the Atlantic City power boss and racketeer, Enoch Nucky Johnson who would hold forth in an era in which then when portrayed would bring the Kife and Fork Inn newfound fame.

Although Babette’s Supper Club was not around in the earliest days of Prohibition as depicted in the aforementioned series, the Knife & Fork would have been the closest establishment to mirror the scenes which take place in Babette’s on the show at that time and indeed it was chosen to portray the other legendary long gone establishment in the series. In a later season of Boardwalk Empire, the Knife & Fork itself was mentioned and a facsimile was recreated for a major scene in the show.

Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel

The Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel was a historic resort hotel property in Atlantic City, NJ, built in 1902-1906, and sadly, demolished in October 1978.

In 1900, Josiah White III bought a parcel of land between Ohio Avenue and Park Place on the Boardwalk, and built the Queen Anne style Marlborough House. The hotel was financially successful and, in 1905, he chose to expand. White hired Philadelphia architect Will Price of Price and McLanahan to design a new, separate tower to be called the Blenheim. “Blenheim” refers to Blenheim Palace in England, the ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill, a grandson of the Duke of Marlborough.
In 1977 Reese Palley and local attorney and businessman Martin Blatt bought the Marlborough-Blenheim and planned to preserve the Blenheim half of the hotel, along with adjacent Dennis Hotel for his Park Place Casino. Palley was successful in getting the Blenheim part of the hotel placed on the National Register of Historic Buildings, while planning to raze the Marlborough to make way for a new modern hotel. Ten days later, he stepped aside when Bally Manufacturing purchased a controlling interest in the project. After Bally took control, they announced plans to raze the Marlborough-Blenheim and the adjacent Dennis Hotel, despite protests, to make way for the new “Bally’s Park Place Casino and Hotel”. However, in an effort to offset costs and get the casino opened as fast as they could they chose to keep the Dennis Hotel, which would serve as the temporary hotel for Bally’s until a new tower was built.

Bally demolished the wood-framed Marlborough with the conventional wrecking ball. For the Blenheim the company hired Controlled Demolition, Inc. (CDI) and Winzinger Incorporated of Hainesport New Jersey, which had taken down the Traymore Hotel, to implode the structure. A preservation group which had sought historic status for the building won a stay of execution for the Blenheim’s rotunda portion on the Boardwalk. It was separated from the rest of the hotel, which was imploded in the fall of 1978. Several months later its historic status was denied, the stay was lifted, and CDI finished the demolition January 4, 1979. It is not known if they sold the name Marlborough-Blenheim as well.


Click here to check out our range of Atlantic City & New Jersey Postcards available on eBay

Coins of Black History Month

Each February, the United States recognizes, remembers and celebrates the important people and events that have shaped the African-American experience in our country. To commemorate Black History Month this year, we’re celebrating with some of our favorite coins.

1995 $5 Civil War Gold Coin
Housing and commercial development was being urged toward American Civil War battlefields increasingly in the 1990s. Surcharges from the sale of commemorative coins were seen as one means of funding these sites’ preservation as public trusts. Toward this end Congress approved a three-denomination coin set consisting of a copper-nickel-clad half dollar, a silver dollar and a gold half eagle, each of which would be offered in both uncirculated and proof editions.

The obverses of all three coins were designed by Connecticut artist Donald Troiani. The San Francisco Mint struck both editions of the half dollar, as well as proofs of the silver dollar. The uncirculated strikes of the silver dollar came from Philadelphia, while West Point provided both issues of the gold half eagle.

Despite competition from the vast 1995 coin program for the Atlanta Olympics, the Civil War Battlefields commemoratives sold reasonably well. The notable exception was the half eagle, which posted the lowest sales figures yet for this denomination in the modern commemorative series. The half dollar was selected for inclusion in that year’s Prestige Proof Set, which helped its overall sales considerably.

American Liberty 225th Anniversary Coin
The American Liberty 225th Anniversary Coin is a one-ounce gold coin minted to commemorate the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Mint. It was released on April 6th, 2017. A companion series of one-ounce silver medals bearing the same designs was released on October 6th later that year.

The design of the coin, which was the first minted depiction of Lady Liberty portrayed as an African-American woman, sparked a national conversation as a record-high number of viewers watched the U.S. Mint’s live-streamed unveiling in January 2017. The 2017 coin was a result of the exploration of concepts for a new and modern Liberty and was directly inspired by the controversial 2015 African American Liberty designed by another AIP artist.

The usage of an African-American woman on the design sparked a minor controversy within the numismatic community, as some coin collectors voiced their disapproval There is a mintage limit of 100,000 for the gold coins. 14,285 pieces, or 14.3% of the total possible, were sold on the first day that the coin became available on the US Mint catalog.

Booker T. Washington Memorial Half-Dollar
In 1946, the U.S. Mint made history when it released the Booker T. Washington Memorial Silver Half-Dollar — the first-ever U.S. coin to honor an African-American individual. Since that time, groundbreaking leaders and events in African-American history have been featured on 90% silver commemorative coins.

The half dollar was designed by Isaac Scott Hathaway. The obverse depicts Booker T. Washington and the reverse shows the cabin in which Washington was born (now the Booker T. Washington National Monument) and the Hall of Fame for Great Americans with the words “From slave cabin to Hall of Fame.” It was minted in silver between 1946 and 1951.

2009 District of Columbia Duke Ellington Quarter
In release of the Duke Ellington quarter the  U.S. Mint Director Ed Moy said: “Like many great Americans who succeed in what they love doing, Duke Ellington was equal parts talent, hard work, passion and perseverance,”

Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was born and raised in Washington. He and other black music legends, such as Ella Fitzgerald, helped establish the city’s U Street as an entertainment corridor.

The Ellington coin beat out designs featuring abolitionist Frederick Douglass and astronomer Benjamin Banneker. The coin with Ellington resting his elbow on a piano was officially released Jan. 26 2009.

“With Duke on the coin, we are sending an important message to the world that D.C. is a lot more than a government town,” D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton said.

Prior to the Ellington quarter, the only U.S. coin to depict a black person was a 2003 Missouri state coin that featured explorers Lewis and Clark with a black slave named York, Mint spokeswoman Carla Coolman said. Commemorative coins have also featured black figures but those coins weren’t put into circulation.

The 1909 Pennsylvania Train Robbery

It’s 1909 and the Philadelphia mint just produced a fresh batch of coins. East of Lewistown, PA on Route 322 there is an area called the “narrows”, a five to six mile stretch where the mountain sides on both sides of the Juniata river are extremely steep. The highway is on the northern side of the river, and the railroad tracks are on the southern side.

The Lewistown “Narrows”

A train traveling from the Philadelphia mint to Pittsburgh was in the middle of the “narrows” the train was said to be stopped by a single man who had dynamite on the tracks. The train was carrying three large safes containing an undisclosed amount of currency and five bags holding about $6,000 in gold and silver bars, and money was stacked in a corner.

The engine had passed over three sticks of dynamite, which blew off the cowcatcher and headlight. The man then, robbed the train of several sacks of coins and disappeared up the mountainside.The robber threatened the crew and fired several shots at the conductor, Isaac Poffenberger, wounding his hand. The robber then ordered the crew to carry several large bags of coins into the woods, had them re-board the train and fired several shots as the train pulled away.

Example of a VDB

When investigators arrived at the scene, they found the bags still in the woods. The robber had passed up the gold and silver bars and snatched bags containing newly minted pennies. After an inventory was taken, it was realized that the only thing that was missing were several sacks of one cent coins! This man was rumored to be ”Pennsylvania’s Jesse James”, Jesse james would never be reported found.

A week after the search for Jesse James was officially called off, another robbery took place in the area, but it got little notice in the papers. On the 29th of October, a 38-year old man in Philadelphia walked into a police station and confessed to being the robber, but his story was soon found to be false. As time passed, the robbery became famous both for its daring style and for the fact that the bandit got away with so little. Many people came to visit the site of the robbery. One of the most notable visitors was Theodore Roosevelt. While on his whistle-stop campaign tour in 1912, he had his special train stop at the scene for him to inspect it personally.

It was discovered in 1954 that apparently the investigators overlooked some bags that were left in the nearby forest. In 1954, a couple of men were hunting on the mountain, and the one guy stepped, slipped and fell on pennies and they recovered over 3,500 1909 cents that had been laying there in the dirt for 45 years. They were all badly corroded, but were sold by local dealers as the find from the infamous railroad heist.

It has never officially been concluded that all the coins were found. Do you think it’s possible that some of these treasures could still lie in the Lewistown forest?

Sources: [X] [X] [X]

Alternative Currencies: Ithaca Hours

The Ithaca hour is a local currency used in Ithaca, New York and is the oldest and largest local currency system in the United States that is still operating. One Ithaca hour is valued at US$10 and is generally recommended to be used as payment for one hour’s work, although the rate is negotiable.

Ithaca hours are not backed by national currency and cannot be freely converted to national currency, although some businesses may agree to buy them. Hours are printed on high-quality paper and use faint graphics that would be difficult to reproduce, and each bill is stamped with a serial number, in order to discourage counterfeiting.

Ithaca hours were started by Paul Glover in November 1991. The system has historical roots in scrip and alternative and local currencies that proliferated in America during the Great Depression. While doing research into local economics during 1989, Glover had seen an “Hour” note 19th century British industrialist Robert Owen issued to his workers for spending at his company store. After Ithaca hours began, he discovered that Owen’s Hours were based on Josiah Warren’s “Time Store” notes of 1827.

Within a few days, Glover had designs for the hour and Half hour notes. He established that each hour would be worth the equivalent of $10, which was about the average hourly amount that workers earned in surrounding Tompkins County, although the exact rate of exchange for any given transaction was to be decided by the parties themselves. At GreenStar Cooperative Market, a local food co-op, Glover approached Gary Fine, a local massage therapist, with photocopied samples. Fine became the first person to sign a list formally agreeing to accept hours in exchange for services. Soon after, Jim Rohrrsen, the proprietor of a local toy store, became the first retailer to sign-up to accept Ithaca hours in exchange for merchandise.

When the system was first started, 90 people agreed to accept hours as pay for their services. They all agreed to accept hours despite the lack of a business plan or guarantee. Glover then began to ask for small donations to help pay for printing hours.

Fine Line Printing completed the first run of 1,500 hours and 1,500 Half hours in October 1991. These notes, the first modern local currency, were nearly twice as large as the current Ithaca hours. Because they didn’t fit well in people’s wallets, almost all of the original notes were removed from circulation.

The first issue of Ithaca Money was printed at Our Press, a printing shop in Chenango Bridge, New York, on October 16, 1991. The next day Glover issued 10 hours to Ithaca Hours, the organization he founded to run the system, as the first of four reimbursements for the cost of printing hours. The day after that, October 18, 1991, 382 hours were disbursed and prepared for mailing to the first 93 pioneers.

On October 19, 1991, Glover bought a samosa from Catherine Martinez at the Farmers’ Market with Half hour #751—the first use of an hour. Several other Market vendors enrolled that day. During the next years more than a thousand individuals enrolled to accept hours, plus 500 businesses. Stacks of the Ithaca Money newspaper were distributed all over town with an invitation to “join the fun.”

A Barter Potluck was held at GIAC on November 12, 1991, the first of many monthly gatherings where food and skills were exchanged, acquaintances made, and friendships renewed. In 2002, a one-tenth hour bill was introduced, partly due to the encouragement and funding from Alternatives Federal Credit Union and feedback from retailers who complained about the awkwardness of only having larger denominations to work with; the bills bear the signatures of both hours’ president Steve Burke and the president of AFCU.

While the Ithaca hour continues to exist, in recent years it has fallen into disuse. Media accounts from the year 2011 indicate that the number of businesses accepting hours has declined. Several reasons are attributed to this. First has been the founder, Paul Glover, moving out of town. While in Ithaca, Glover had acted as an evangelist and networker for hours, helping spread their use and helping businesses find ways to spend hours they had received. Secondly, a general shift away from cash transactions towards electronic transfers with debit or credit cards. Glover has emphasized that every local currency needs at least one full-time networker to “promote, facilitate and troubleshoot” currency circulation.

Stickered Pennies from around the United States

Have you seen a Penny with a sticker on one side? 

In 1935, R. Stanton Avery invented self adhesive labels and sticker advertising began. A couple of decades later, affixing advertising stickers to U.S. coins came into its heyday. Like their predecessor trade tokens, stickered coins were not exclusively made for business advertisement. Some employers paid employees with them in an effort to demonstrate how vital they were to the local economy. Some were used as premiums, prizes, campaign handouts or commemorated a special occasion such as a town’s anniversary.

SPM1-horz

MacDougall’s Stickered Lincoln Penny, Seattle, WA
“SPM Small Profit Margin” Saves your pennies

MacDougall’s department store operated on the SE corner of 2nd & Pike in downtown Seattle from 1908 to the 1960’s. It was the smallest of downtown Seattle’s major department stores. According to historian Clark Humphrey, this department store was the first to make the transition from gaslight to electricity in Seattle along with being the first with a passenger elevator to take customers to one of its five floors. The five-story building located at 2nd Avenue and Pike Street, had the wide Chicago windows and steel framing of the most modern department stores of the early 1900s. Demolished 1971 to make way for a parking lot.

hall1-horz

Campaign Stickered Lincoln Penny, Rockwall, TX
“All for Hall from Rockwall” Lt. Governor


Politician Ralph Hall, lead an interesting life. At 12, while working in a local pharmacy, he sold two cartons of Old Golds, two Coca-Colas and all the newspapers they had to Bonnie and Clyde. After flying  Hellcat fighter aircraft during World War II, he served in the U.S. Senate 1980-2014, switching parties in 2004 from Democrat to Republican. At the age of 91 Hall lost his seat in Texas’s 4th congressional district. There is an airport, man-made lake and an expressway named after him in Rockwall, TX. Hall would frequently chat with constituents or hand out pennies bearing his name. When the aides tried to scrap the penny giveaway program they got an earful from the public.

dolphin1-horz

The Gay Dolphin Stickered Lincoln Penny, Myrtle Beach, SC
I was at the Gay Dolphin Myrtle Beach S.C.


First opened in 1946 The Gay Dolphin Gift Cove is a beachside souvenir emporium stuffed with over 70,000 items. It first opened in 1946 (when “gay” simply meant “happy” to the owners when devising their whimsical, nautical name), and claims to be the “nation’s largest” gift emporium. The roughly 30,000 square feet is like a maze, even selling an “I Got Lost in the Gay Dolphin” tee shirt. Exploring the wares leads to encounters with pirates, yeti, velociraptor, mermaids, alligator heads, seashells and of courses, dolphins. Few stickered pennies can be found with original sticker advertisement on them.

The Compton Fair Stickered Penny, Compton, CA
Compton Fair Apr. 9 thru 11 at Compton College

Compton Community College was established in 1927 as a component of the Compton Union High School District. From 1932 to 1949, it operated as a four-year junior college, incorporating the last two years of high school as well as the first two years of college. There isn’t much on the Compton Fair and whether it was a reoccurring event as well as if it was just for students or for the community of Compton.

The Aunt Jemima Stickered Cent
Nancy Sasser and Aunt Jemima Make ¢ for You

Aunt Jemima is a brand of pancake mix, syrup, and other breakfast foods owned by the Quaker Oats Company of Chicago, a subsidiary of PepsiCo. The trademark dates to 1893, although Aunt Jemima pancake mix debuted in 1889. Nancy on the sticker perhaps refers to the former slave, Nancy Green, hired by R. T. Davis Milling Company as a spokesperson for the Aunt Jemima pancake mix in 1890.

The Exchange Lincoln Cent, Largo, Flordia
The Exchange Largo, Fla

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES, also referred to as The Exchange) is the retailer on U.S. Army and Air Force installations worldwide. For more than 100 years before the post exchange system was created, traveling merchants known as sutlers provided American soldiers with goods and services during times of war. Sutlers served troops at Army camps as far back as the French and Indian and Revolutionary wars.

On 25 July 1895, the War Department issued General Orders No. 46, directing commanders at every post to establish a post exchange “wherever practicable.” Post exchanges served two missions: first, “to supply the troops at reasonable prices with the articles of ordinary use, wear, and consumption, not supplied by the Government, and to afford them a means of rational recreation and amusement,” and second, “provide the means for improving the messes” through exchange profits. Since its establishment, the Exchange has been involved in 14 major military operations (to include World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, the Balkans and Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom) as well as several dozen humanitarian and disaster relief contingencies.

Coin and Currency Sites to Visit on Your Vacation: UK Edition

If you are heading out on vacation or planning one in the near future; there’s no reason not to celebrate your hobby on the road! Here’s a list of coin- and currency-related attractions and exhibits that you can visit while traversing across the United Kingdom! And don’t forget to check out our part one, with stops in all 50 states and part two for travels in Canada.

Llantrisant, South Wales: Tour The Royal Mint and learn about over 1,100 years of coin history. At the mint you can strike your own Britannia 50 new pence and learn more about the detailed processes involved in producing a coin, the work that goes into it and the history behind Britain’s coinage. Plus more; with weekly events and it’s own cafe, the Royal Mint truly is a desirable destination for any numismatist.

Blaenafon, Wales: Go underground to a real coal mine at the Big Pit National Coal Museum. Learn about old mining families and have the blacksmith experience. From minting coins to casting swords, this coal mine has supplied Wales with raw materials for hundreds of years.

Glasgow, Scotland: The University of Glasgow features The Hunterian museum, home to many fascinating exhibits and artifacts.The Hunterian is Scotland’s oldest public museum and home to over a million magnificent items ranging from meteorites to mummies and Mackintosh. Within this diverse collection you will find astounding artefacts, amazing art and an astonishing array of animal life. Including a huge variety of gold and base metal denominations produced by Byzantine mints in the exhibit: “Byzantium: A Golden Era of Coinage”. Admission is free!

Byzantine coins

Belfast, Northern Ireland: Visit the Ulster Museum to discover a unique human story of this part of Ireland and collections that will take you to all corners of the globe. Things to see include medals such as the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize and as a temporary exhibit discover buried treasure hoards from across the UK.

London, England: In the heart of London you can stop by The Bank of England Museum. Inside the museum you can pick up a gold bar and discover why the building is on top of one the world’s’ largest stores of gold. You’ll learn why people started to use paper money and how the Bank of England makes their notes difficult to copy.

Learn what the Bank of England does and how this affects the average citizen. Find out how they work to keep prices stable (the cost of things like food, televisions and train tickets). At the heart of our museum is the ‘Stock Office’ and this shows what the inside of the Bank of England would have looked like 200 hundred years ago.

Goldsmith’s Hall

London, England: Check in with the Goldsmith’s Hall to see if there are any open days where you can get a tour. Goldsmith’s Hall is where the Trial of Pyx is held every year.

The Trial of the Pyx (pronounced pIks) is a procedure in the United Kingdom for ensuring that newly minted coins conform to the required standards. These trials have been held from the thirteenth century to the present day, normally once per calendar year.

The Hall itself was erected in 1634-6 and restored after the Great Fire of 1666. It lasted for almost two centuries, but was eventually demolished in the late 1820s. The present Hall, by Philip Hardwick, remains much as he designed it, although there have been changes to the decorative schemes and the use of rooms.

The Hall narrowly escaped complete destruction when in 1941 a bomb exploded inside the south-west corner. Faithfully restored on the exterior after the War and internally modified, it retains much of the charm of an urban palazzo. A major refurbishment which was completed in 1990 has further adapted this great building for the 21st century.

Woburn, England: What’s a visit to England if you don’t have some afternoon tea? When going to the Woburn Abbey and Gardens you can view various numismatic exhibits  and sit down for tea the Duchess’ Tea Room. Explore over 22 rooms such as The Silver and Gold Vaults and the Holland Library. Numismatic materials are incorporated into several of the permanent displays.

Shinplasters

A shinplaster was a common name for paper money of low denomination circulating widely in the frontier economies of the 19th century. These notes were in various places issued by banks, merchants, wealthy individuals and associations, either as banknotes, or circulating IOUs. They were often a variety of token intended to alleviate a shortage of small change in growing frontier regions. They were sometimes used in company shop economies or peonages in place of legal tender.

Shinplasters circulated in the United States from 1837 to 1863, during the period known as the “Free Banking Period.”  According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the name comes from the quality of the paper, which was so cheap that with a bit of starch it could be used to make papier-mâché-like plasters to go under socks and warm shins.

During the “Free Banking Period”, only state-chartered banks existed. They could issue bank notes against specie (gold and silver coins) and the states heavily regulated their own reserve requirements, interest rates for loans and deposits, the necessary capital ratio etc. These banks had existed since 1781, in parallel with the Banks of the United States. The Michigan Act (1837) allowed the automatic chartering of banks that would fulfill its requirements without special consent of the state legislature. This legislation made creating unstable banks easier by lowering state supervision in states that adopted it. The real value of a bank bill was often lower than its face value, and the issuing bank’s financial strength generally determined the size of the discount. By 1797 there were 24 chartered banks in the U.S.; with the beginning of the Free Banking Era (1837) there were 712.

During the free banking era, the banks were short-lived compared to today’s commercial banks, with an average lifespan of five years. About half of the banks failed, and about a third of which went out of business because they could not redeem their notes.

In Canada, the term shinplaster was widely used for 25-cent paper monetary notes which circulated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The first design was printed on March 1, 1870 and the final design was first printed on July 2, 1923 The term likely arose from the previously issued 5 shilling note (1/4 Pound) which also bore the french term “Cinq Piastre” on the face.

Canadian 25¢ shinplaster

In Australia, shinplasters or calabashes (as they were known in southern Queensland) were a feature of the Squatters’ vast pastoral enterprises, and often circulated in the towns of the bush alongside and in place of legal tender. These private IOUs circulated widely, at times making up the bulk of cash in circulation, especially in the 1840s and 50s.

In some places they formed the core of a company shop economy, circulating as private currencies. They were often of such low quality that they could not be hoarded, and shopkeepers off the property would not take them, as they would deteriorate into illegibility before they could be redeemed.

There are tales of unscrupulous shopkeepers and others baking or otherwise artificially aging their calabashes given as change to travelers so that they crumbled to uselessness before they could be redeemed.

As commerce and trade grew in centres such as Toowoomba, more and more calabashes were issued, and more and more merchants, squatters and others engaged in transactions were forced to give their ‘paper’ in change or as payment for goods and services

Picture via National Library of Australia

Disney Dollars

Disney dollars are a form of corporate scrip sold by The Walt Disney Company and redeemable for goods or services at many Disney facilities.
Similar in size, shape and design to the paper currency of the United States, most bills bear the image of Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto, Dumbo and/or a drawing of one of the landmarks of the Disneyland Resort or the Walt Disney World Resort. The currency is accepted at the company’s United States theme parks, the Disney cruise ships, the Disney Store and at certain parts of Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Caribbean.

The idea of Disney Dollars first started when Harry Brice, a silhouette cutter on Main Street in Disneyland was visiting a Disneyana (Disney Collectors) Convention.  Mr. Brice thought:

I couldn’t believe that people were paying, money for — anything with Disn​ey on it.  So I began to wonder, ‘why couldn’t Disney make something just for the collector?’ So I came up with the idea to make a souvenir item, which would be sold in the park, that looked like money.” (Clark & Cahill, 1987, 4)

Brice’s concept for a selection of souvenir currency was shared with his associates and they got the okay to begin a design process.  Some of the original ideas were to create “a three dollar bill with a picture of the Three Pigs or a seven dollar bill with the Dwarfs”, In fact the first rendering of the Disney Dollar was created as an advertisement tool.  As seen in the image of Disneyland’s Star Tours attraction

The first series released was illustrated by the Creative Service Illustrator Matt Mew. The printing was done by EPI of Battlecreek, Michigan.  They were known for high quality printing using intaglio steel engraving. This printing process along with using special 100% cotton paper, “gives the bills the look and feel of real money”.

Disney Dollars were officially released to the public in 1987; the first series was the A series released at DisneyWorld and Disneyland. The bills stated, “May Be Used As Legal Tender Only At Disneyland”. Shortly thereafter both the D series and the 1987A series were released with “May Be Used As Legal Tender Only At Disneyland and Disneyworld” Disney printed 870,000 of the original series for the May 5, 1987 release at both parks. Each bill was series “A” or “D”. The former created for Disneyland in Anaheim, California (hence the “A”), and the latter “D” for Walt Disney World in Florida. New Disney dollars have been produced every year until the discontinuation since 1987 except 1992, 2004 and 2010.​

Disney Dollars have changed quite a  bit since 1987, But they have also kept some key features too. Key features starting with the 1987 Disney Dollar that still continued until 2014 include: tinkerbell and Scrooge McDuck’s signature. Each bill also features an “important” character.  These are Disney Characters of which primarily have been Mickey Mouse on the $1, Goofy on the $5 and Minnie Mouse on the $10. However In 2007, 2011, and 2014, a non character portrait has been used.

Traveling with Postcards: Seattle

St. James Cathedral

St. James Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral church located at 804 Ninth Avenue in the First Hill neighborhood of Seattle. The need for a cathedral in Seattle arose in 1903, when Edward O’Dea, bishop of what was then known as the Diocese of Nesqually, elected to move the Episcopal see from Vancouver, Washington to Seattle. Construction began in 1905 and was completed in 1907.

Major artwork at St. James Cathedral include an extensive collection of stained glass by Charles Connick, installed in 1917-1920, during the rebuilding of the cathedral following the collapse of the dome. In 1999, ceremonial bronze doors were added, the work of German sculptor Ulrich Henn. A bronze tabernacle by the same artist was installed in 2003. St. James Cathedral is also home to an altarpiece by Florentine artist Neri di Bicci, dating to 1456. It represents the Madonna and Child surrounded by six saints.

The cathedral’s original choir space in the west gallery features an organ built by the Boston firm of Hutchings-Votey (Opus 1623). This organ was installed and voiced by E. M. Skinner in 1907.

The Fairmont Olympic Hotel

The Fairmont Olympic Hotel, originally The Olympic Hotel, is a historic hotel in downtown Seattle. It was built on the original site of the University of Washington’s first campus. The hotel opened in 1924, and in 1979, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

After World War I, Seattle’s Chamber of Commerce appointed a committee to work toward the goal of bringing a world-class hotel to the city. The committee identified an undeveloped portion of the city’s Metropolitan Tract, a downtown area covering four blocks, as an ideal location for a new hotel. The Seattle Times held a contest to name the hotel. From 3,906 entries, the committee chose The Olympic.

In 1922, once the lease had gone into effect, the Community Hotel Corporation chose New York architect George B. Post & Son to design the building; the local firm Bebb and Gould—a partnership between Charles Bebb and Carl Gould—were hired as the local supervising architects. Post created an Italian Renaissance design that was popular at the time, and this design remains one of the building’s hallmarks today. The Olympic Hotel’s grand opening took place on December 6, 1924, with a grand dinner and dance attended by more than 2,000 Seattle residents and their guests. Hundreds more people lined the streets just to catch a glimpse of the new hotel.

The L.C. Smith Building

Smith Tower is a skyscraper in Pioneer Square in Seattle, Washington. Completed in 1914, the 38-story, 484 ft tower is the oldest skyscraper in the city, and was among the tallest skyscrapers outside New York City at the time of its completion. It remained the tallest building on the West Coast for nearly half a century until the Space Needle overtook it in 1962.

During a trip to Seattle in 1909, Smith planned to build a 14-story building in Seattle. His son, Burns Lyman Smith, convinced him to build instead a much taller skyscraper to steal the crown from rival city Tacoma’s National Realty Building as the tallest west of the Mississippi River. Construction began in 1911. Although Smith did not live to see it, the building was completed in 1914. L.C. Smith Tower opened to the public on July 4, 1914. Over 4,000 Seattleites rode to the 35th floor on opening day.

In recent years high-tech companies have been occupants of L.C. Smith Tower, which sports fiber-optic wiring. The burst of the dot-com bubble hurt Smith Tower by raising its vacancy rate to 26.1 percent, twice Seattle’s commercial vacancy rate, as of December 21, 2001. The Walt Disney Internet Group, for example, at the time reduced its seven floors to four. By 2007, the occupancy rate had rebounded to about 90 percent, with new occupants such as Microsoft Live Labs.

The building is one of the last on the West Coast to employ elevator operators. The Otis Elevator Company provided the elevators, which have brass surfaces. The doors are latticed, so a rider can see into each hallway and through the glass walls in front of each office.

Leschi Park

Leschi Park is an 18.5 acre park in the Leschi neighborhood of Seattle,  named after Chief Leschi of the Nisqually tribe. The majority of the park is a grassy hillside that lies west of Lakeside Avenue S. and features tennis courts, picnic tables, and a playground. Across Lakeside Avenue to the east is the western shore of Lake Washington and a small lawn with benches. To its south is the southern portion of Leschi Moorage, separated from the northern portion by a parking lot in the E. Yesler Way right-of-way, private docks, and an office/restaurant complex.

The cable car run from Pioneer Square that operated from September 27, 1888, to August 10, 1940, terminated here. As with Madison Park to the north, there was a cross-lake ferry run from Leschi Park to the Eastside before the construction of the Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge. Seattle’s first zoo was located here, but moved to Woodland Park in 1903. Leschi Park borders Frink Park in its southwest corner.

The Duwamish called the area “Changes-Its-Face”, referring to an enormous and powerful supernatural horned snake that was said to live there.

Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition

The Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition was a world’s fair held in Seattle in 1909, publicizing the development of the Pacific Northwest. It was originally planned for 1907, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Klondike Gold Rush, but the organizers found out about the Jamestown Exposition being held that year, and rescheduled. The fairgrounds later became the campus of the University of Washington.

The gates opened at 8.30 AM on June 1, and crowds entered immediately. At 9.30 AM, attendees watched performances by military bands from the Army and the Navy. Many sat in the fair’s amphitheater, awaiting a signal scheduled to be given in Washington DC. At 3pm East Coast Time (12 noon in Seattle), in the East Room of the White House, President Taft sent the signal. He “opened… the Exposition… by touching a gold key, studded with gold nuggets taken from the first mine opened in the Klondike region.” The telegraphic spark that Taft sent was received by telegraphers at the fairgrounds; as soon as it arrived, a gong was struck five times, a large American flag was unfurled, and there was a twenty-one gun salute, while other demonstrations of pageantry announced the official opening of the fair.

Opening Day, June 1, was declared a city holiday, and 80,000 people attended.  Attendance was even higher—117,013—on “Seattle Day”. Other big draws were days dedicated to various ethnic groups, fraternal organizations, and U.S. states. By the time the fair closed on October 16, over 3,700,000 had visited.


Click here to check out our range of Seattle Postcards available on eBay

The Truth of Brothel Tokens

Experts say that beginning in the 1700s and lasting through the early 1900s, when prohibition halted legal activities at saloons, establishments in the western United States, through the Yukon territories, and into Alaska minted their own currencies known as brothel tokens.

Why were saloon or brothel tokens needed in the Old West? Money couldn’t travel with the ease and speed of our current banking systems. Banks sent money on stage coaches or by Pony Express riders, time consuming adventures. As trains took their places, delivery became easier, quicker but still suffered delays and outright robbery that could cause disaster for a business owner caught without funds. Especially when increased westward travel of the poor and penniless further shortened circulation of money.

Another reason was that saloons and brothels clustered around mining camps. Mine owners hired workers, allowed them to buy supplies from the company owned stores, and then deducted those amounts from the miner’s wage. This system is called payment by scrip. Its popularity curtailed the flow of legal tender (dollars and cents) in mining communities.

Replica Brothel Tokens for Sale

There are brothel tokens that are “real” in the sense that they were or are distributed by functioning brothels. Antique tokens are mostly French and are all highly prized. They do not circulate at flea markets for pocket change, but rather pass through auction houses and coin shops. These antique brothel tokens, which date as early as the 1890s, rarely promise the kinds of services referred to on novelty tokens, but instead advertise the business and occasionally offer the promise of a free drink.

Recent tokens distributed by legal brothels in Nevada have increased in value. Beginning in 1992, a number of Las Vegas casinos began issuing collectable “silver strike coins” made of silver valued at $10 each. Brothels across Nevada such as the PussyCat Ranch in Winnemucca and Sharon’s Bar and Brothel in Carlin began issuing similar collectible silver strike coins that featured distinctive artwork, unique to each establishment. But because a single $10 PussyCat Ranch silver strike coin is a mere fraction of the cost of services, their real value comes as a collectable.

While most of the tokens found today are fake replicas or fun vintage-y collectables they tell a fun story of what life might have been like in the wild west and during a time of prohibition.

Coinage of the Ptolemaic Kingdom

The Ptolemaic Kingdom was a Hellenistic kingdom based in ancient Egypt. The Kingdom’s ruling began with Ptolemy I Soter after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and ended with the death of Cleopatra and the Roman conquest in 30 BC.

Hieroglyphic of Ptolemaic Royalty

Coinage of the Ptolemaic Kingdom was in use during the last dynasty of Egypt and, briefly, during Roman rule of Egypt. Ptolemaic coinage was struck in Phoenician weight, also known as Ptolemaic weight (about 14,20 grams). This standard, which was not used elsewhere in the Hellenistic world, was smaller than the most common Attic weight. Consequently, Ptolemaic coins are smaller than other Hellenistic coinage. In terms of art, the coins, which were made of silver, followed the example set by contemporary Greek currencies, with dynastic figures being typically portrayed. The Ptolemaic coin making process often resulted in a central depression, similar to what can be found on Seleucid coinage.

The Ptolemaic Kingdom was the first dynasty to introduce coinage to Egypt. The first Ptolemaic mint was in Memphis and was later moved to Alexandria. The Ptolemaic Kingdom flourished largely due to their success in monetizing the Egyptian society. Before the Ptolemaic period, metals such as copper, and grain, were used as mediums of exchange. Ptolemaic rule brought, in addition to the coinage, banks and tax farming to the country.

For most of its history, the kingdom vigorously enforced a policy of a single currency, confiscating foreign coins and forcing its territories to adopt Ptolemaic coinage. Parallels between Athens and the Ptolemaic Kingdom can be drawn as Athens attempted to introduce a sole currency in its empire. In the rare cases when these territories were allowed their own currency, such as the Jewish community in Palestine, they still had to observe the Ptolemaic weight. These policies and increasing difficulty to obtain silver, caused monetary isolation of the Ptolemaic coinage.

Ptolemaic territories in 200 BC

During the reign of Ptolemy I Soter, the founder of the kingdom, diverse local currencies were allowed to exist. They may even have been encouraged. The exact date of elimination of non-Ptolemaic coinage varies by region. In Egypt and Syria, Ptolemy I discontinued local coinage, which had Alexander the Great’s image struck in them, after feeling secure in power. Such coinage with Alexander on them were very common in the successor states of the Macedonian Empire. Cypriot coinage was eliminated when the local monarchies ceased to exist. In Cyrene it took even longer to eliminate municipal coinage. In Crete the local currency was never suppressed. Uniformity of the currency was sought flexibly, yet opportunistically.


Ptolemy V Epiphanes’ bronze coin.
Ptolemy II Philadelphus and his sister-wife Arsinoe II

Artistically, Ptolemaic coinage closely followed contemporary Greek currencies. A commonplace symbol of the Ptolemaic dynasty was an eagle standing on a thunderbolt, first adopted by Ptolemy I Soter. The more peculiar Ptolemaic coinage included so-called “dynastic issues”. This rare coin featured Ptolemy II Philadelphus who married his sister Arsinoe II; Egyptian rulers had traditionally married their sisters to signify a connection to sacred union between the deities Osiris and Isis. A medal-like coin with one side portraying Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II, and the other side portraying Ptolemy I and Berenice I was struck after the death of Arsinoe II.

Cyprus had many important mints, and the island struck large amounts of Ptolemaic coinage from 200 BC to 80 BC. Cyprus was also richer in silver than Egypt. Most of the coinage from second century BC are easily identifiable and datable because they include abbreviations for mints and dates for both gold and silver coinage. Mints from this period include Salamis (abbr. ΣA), Kition (abbr. KI) and Paphos (abbr. Π, and later as ΠA).

After the demise of the Ptolemaic Kingdom, and annexation into the growing Roman Empire, silver coinage struck by the Ptolemies still continued to circulate. The Ptolemaic silver coinage mostly disappeared by the time of Emperor Nero. It is assumed that by that time, in the first half of the first century, the Ptolemaic silver coinage was probably recycled into a new currency, Roman tetradrachms, struck at mints managed by the Romans. Roman Egypt remained monetarily as a closed system, like it had been under Ptolemaic dynasty. Roman denarii and aurei did not circulate in provincial Egypt.

Bernard von NotHaus’ Liberty Dollars

The Liberty Dollar (ALD) coins were produced by a now-defunct organization with the unwieldy name “National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act and the Internal Revenue Code,” or NORFED for short. NORFED’s goal, according its founder Bernard von NotHaus, was to provide an alternative currency to that which is issued by the U.S. federal government: a currency that is backed by gold and silver, and therefore inflation-proof. NORFED has manufactured these coins in various denominations, including $1, $5, $10, and $20 in silver, and $500 in gold.

Bernard von NotHaus

The currency was issued in minted metal rounds (similar to coins), gold and silver certificates and electronic currency (eLD). ALD certificates are “warehouse receipts” for real gold and silver owned by the bearer. According to court documents there were about 250,000 holders of Liberty Dollar certificates. The metal was warehoused at Sunshine Minting in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, prior to a November 2007 raid by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Secret Service (USSS). Until July 2009, the Liberty Dollar was distributed by Liberty Services known as NORFED based in Evansville, Indiana. It was created by Bernard von NotHaus, the founder of the Cannabis Spiritual Center in Malibu, CA, and the co-founder of the Royal Hawaiian Mint Company.


A brass token with credentials usable to redeem bitcoins

A number of alternative currencies exist in the United States, including Phoenix Dollars, Baltimore’s BNote, Ithaca Hours, Bitcoin and digital gold currency. Unlike some other alternative currencies, both Liberty Dollars and Phoenix Dollars were denominated by weight and backed by a commodity. Liberty Dollars used gold, silver, platinum, or copper. Liberty Dollars differed from other alternative currencies in that they carried a suggested US dollar face value.

The only laws against counterfeiting private currencies, whether they are printed or minted, are ordinary statutes against fraud. Coining is more technologically difficult than is printing, and inclusion of precious metal in coins has long been seen as a means of “embedding” value in them. The Liberty Dollar consisted of both coins and printed notes. Liberty Dollars were backed by a physical commodity—a weight in precious metal.

The Liberty Dollar “base value” was created by Bernard von NotHaus. As of 2009, the base value of the Liberty Dollar was $20 Liberty Dollars to one ounce of silver. At the time the Liberty Dollar operation was closed, one ounce Liberty Dollar gold pieces were denominated $1,000 with a maximum charge of 10% over spot price with membership. The previous base values were $10 silver ounce, $20 silver ounce and $500 gold ounce. Non-members paid full face value for all currency except for certain Special and Numismatic items. Members’ discounts ranged from 0% to 50%+ .

Liberty Dollar associates and merchants used to exchange for Liberty Dollars at a discount, so they could “make money when [they] spend money.” To further distinguish how the Liberty Dollar worked, von NotHaus transitioned to a commission structure in June 2007 where associates and merchants received a commission in the form of extra Liberty Dollars when they placed their orders. Regional currency officers received larger discounts; they were the regional distributors and official representatives of Liberty Services..

The Liberty Dollar offices were raided by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) on November 14, 2007. von NotHaus, sent an email to customers and supporters saying that the agents took all the gold, silver, and platinum, and almost two tons of Ron Paul Dollars. The agents also seized computers and files and froze the Liberty Dollar bank accounts. Von NotHaus’s email linked to a signup page for a class action lawsuit so that the victims might recover their assets. At the same time, all forms on his website relating to purchases of Liberty Dollars became nonfunctional.

The seizure warrant was issued for money laundering, mail fraud, wire fraud, counterfeiting, and conspiracy. The local Evansville Courier & Press reported the email, stating that “FBI Agent Wendy Osborne, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Indianapolis office, directed all questions on the raid to the Western District of North Carolina U.S. Attorney’s Office. A spokeswoman there said she had no information on the investigation. “Von NotHaus, the group’s monetary architect and the author of the email, did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.”

The Associated Press quoted von NotHaus on November 16, 2007, as saying that the federal government was “running scared right now and they had to do something …. I’m volunteering to meet the agents and get arrested so we can thrash this out in court.”

A federal grand jury brought an indictment against von NotHaus and three others in May 2009 in United States District Court in Statesville, North Carolina, and von NotHaus was arrested on June 6, 2009. Bernard von NotHaus is charged with one count of conspiracy to possess and sell coins in resemblance and similitude of coins of a denomination higher than five cents, and silver coins in resemblance of genuine coins of the United States in denominations of five dollars and greater, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 485, 18 U.S.C. § 486, and 18 U.S.C. § 371; one count of mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341 and 18 U.S.C. § 2; one count of selling, and possessing with intent to defraud, coins of resemblance and similitude of United States coins in denominations of five cents and higher, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 485 and 18 U.S.C. § 2; and one count of uttering, passing, and attempting to utter and pass, silver coins in resemblance of genuine U.S. coins in denominations of five dollars or greater, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 486 and 18 U.S.C. § 2.

On July 28, 2009, von NotHaus entered a plea of not guilty.

On March 18, 2011, von NotHaus was convicted of “making, possessing and selling his own coins”, after a jury in Statesville, North Carolina deliberated for less than two hours. The jury found him guilty of one count under 18 U.S.C. § 485 and 18 U.S.C. § 2, one count of violating 18 U.S.C. § 486 and 18 U.S.C. § 2, and one count of conspiracy, under 18 U.S.C. § 371, to violate sections 485 and 486. He faced up to 15 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and may be forced to give $7 million worth of minted coins and precious metals to the government, weighing 16,000 pounds. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, Anne M. Tompkins, described the Liberty Dollar as “a unique form of domestic terrorism” that is trying “to undermine the legitimate currency of this country”. The Justice Department press release quoted her as saying: “While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country.”

According to the Associated Press, “Federal prosecutors successfully argued that von NotHaus was, in fact, trying to pass off the silver coins as U.S. currency. Coming in denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50, the Liberty Dollars also featured a dollar sign, the word “dollar” and the motto “Trust in God,” similar to the “In God We Trust” that appears on U.S. coins”.

He appealed his conviction but his appeal was denied on 10 November 2014

On Nov 11th, 2014 Judge Voorhees denied von NotHaus’ Motion for Acquittal. On December 2, 2014, despite prosecutor demands that he serve as much as 23 years in federal prison, he was sentenced to 6 months house arrest, with 3 years probation. As part of his reasoning for delivering a greatly reduced sentence from what Federal Prosecutors demanded, Judge Richard L. Voorhees considered von NotHaus’ appeal, which stated:

…if anything is clear from the evidence presented at trial, it is that the last thing Mr. von NotHaus wanted was for Liberty Dollars [to] be confused with coins issued by the United States government…His intention – to protest the Federal Reserve system – has always been plain. The jury’s verdict conflates a program created to function as an alternative to the Federal Reserve system with one designed to [deceive] people into believing it was the very thing Mr. von NotHaus was protesting in the first place…the Liberty Dollars was not a counterfeit and was not intended to function as such. The verdict is a perversion of the counterfeiting statutes and should be set aside.

The conviction, which was seen as a victory for the government, has now defined 18 U.S.C. § 486 as prohibiting the use of silver bullion, or any other metal coin or bar not issued under government authority, from being used in commerce. The Silver Certificates issued by Liberty Services were not considered any form of counterfeiting or violation of law.

Von NotHaus’ probation officer suggested he file for early release from probation after one year, and recommended the early termination to the court. Termination of probation was formally granted December 9, 2015 by U.S. District Judge Richard L. Voorhees.

In 2017, a significant number of seized Liberty Dollars were returned to their owners after petitions were made to the court for this return. Bernard von NotHaus continues to honor redemption of silver to this day.

N. C. Wyeth

Newell Convers Wyeth, known as N. C. Wyeth to the public, was an American artist and illustrator. He learned from artist Howard Pyle and became one of America’s greatest illustrators. During his lifetime, Wyeth created over 3,000 paintings and illustrated 112 books. The first of these books, Treasure Island, was one of his masterpieces and the proceeds paid for his studio. Wyeth was a realist painter and the camera and photography would compete with his craft. Sometimes seen as melodramatic, his illustrations were designed to be understood quickly.


One More Step, Mr. Hands by Wyeth, 1911, for Treasure Island

Wyeth was born in Needham, Massachusetts and was an ancestor of Nicholas Wyeth, a stonemason, whom came to Massachusetts from England in 1645. Later ancestors of Wyeth had prominent participation in the French and Indian Wars, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the American Civil War, passing down rich oral histories and tradition to Wyeth and his family. Many of this stories provided great inspiration for the subject matter of his art. His maternal ancestors came from Switzerland, and during his childhood, his mother was acquainted with literary giants Henry David Thoreau and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. His literary appreciation and artistic talents appear to have come from his Mother.

He was the oldest of four brothers and as children they spent much time hunting, fishing, and enjoying other outdoor pursuits, and doing chores on their farm. His varied youthful activities and his naturally astute sense of observation later aided the authenticity of his illustrations.

His mother often encouraged his early inclination toward art; Wyeth was notably excellent at watercolor paintings by the age of twelve. He went to Mechanics Arts School to learn drafting, and then Massachusetts Normal Art Schoo, where painting instructor Richard Andrew advised him to become an illustrator, and then the Eric Pape School of Art to learn illustration, under George Loftus Noyes and Charles W. Reed.

When two of Wyeth’s friends were accepted to Howard Pyle’s School of Art in Wilmington, Delaware and Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, Wyeth was invited to join them in 1902. Pyle was the “father” of American illustration, and Wyeth immediately meshed with his methods and ideals. Pyle’s teachings often included excursions to historical sites and impromptu dramas using props and costumes, meant to stimulate imagination, emotion, atmosphere, and the observation of humans in action—all necessities for his style of illustration. Wyeth’s exuberant personality and talent made him a standout student. He admired great literature, music, and drama, and he enjoyed spirited conversation. Pyle in his teaching would stress historical accuracy and tinged it with a romantic aura. But where Pyle painted in exquisite detail, Wyeth veered toward looser, quicker strokes and relied on ominous shadows and moody backgrounds.

N.C. Wyeth in his Studio

On February 21, 1903, Wyeth’s first commission as an illustrator appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. That year he described his work as “true, solid American subjects—nothing foreign about them.” It was a spectacular accomplishment for the 20-year-old Wyeth, after just a few months under Pyle’s tutelage. In 1904, the same magazine commissioned him to illustrate a Western story, and Pyle urged Wyeth to go West to acquire direct knowledge, much as Zane Grey had done for his Western novels. In Colorado, he worked as a cowboy alongside the professional “punchers”, moving cattle and doing ranch chores. He visited the Navajo in Arizona and gained an understanding of Native American culture. When his money was stolen, he worked as a mail carrier, riding between the Two Grey Hills trading post and Fort Defiance, to earn enough to get back home. He wrote home, “The life is wonderful, strange—the fascination of it clutches me like some unseen animal—it seems to whisper, ‘Come back, you belong here, this is your real home.'”

On a second trip to the West two years later, he collected information on mining and brought home costumes and artifacts, including cowboy and Indian clothing. His early trips to the western United States inspired a period of images of cowboys and Native Americans that dramatized the Old West. His depictions of Native Americans tended to be sympathetic, showing them in harmony with their environment, as demonstrated by In the Crystal Depths (1906).

Upon returning to Chadds Ford, he painted a series of farm scenes for Scribner’s, finding the landscape less dramatic than that of the West but nonetheless a rich environment for his art: “Everything lies in its subtleties, everything is so gentle and simple, so unaffected.” One of his paintings,Mowing (1907), created during this time, was among his most successful images of rural life.

In 1908, Wyeth married Carolyn Bockius of Wilmington and settled in Chadds Ford to raise a family on 18 acres near the historic Brandywine battlefield. By then commissions were coming in quickly. His hope had been that he would make enough money with his illustrations to be able to afford the luxury of painting what he wanted; but as his family and income grew, he found it difficult to break from illustration.

Wyeth created a stimulating household for his talented children Andrew Wyeth, Henriette Wyeth Hurd, Carolyn Wyeth, Ann Wyeth McCoy, and Nathaniel C. Wyeth. Wyeth was very sociable, and frequent visitors included F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joseph Hergesheimer, Hugh Walpole, Lillian Gish, and John Gilbert. According to Andrew, who spent the most time with his father due to his sickly childhood, Wyeth was a strict but patient father who did not talk down to his children. His hard work as an illustrator gave his family the financial freedom to follow their own artistic and scientific pursuits. Many of his children and grandchildren carried on lives of art and success.

By 1914, Wyeth loathed the commercialism upon which he became dependent, and for the rest of his life, he battled internally over his capitulation, accusing himself of having “bitched myself with the accursed success in skin-deep pictures and illustrations.” He complained of money men “who want to buy me piecemeal” and that “an illustration must be made practical, not only in its dramatic statement, but it must be a thing that will adapt itself to the engravers’ and printers’ limitations. This fact alone kills that underlying inspiration to create thought. Instead of expressing that inner feeling, you express the outward thought… or imitation of that feeling.”

By the 1930s, he restored an old captain’s house in Port Clyde, Maine, named “Eight Bells” after a Winslow Homer painting, and took his family there for summers, where he painted primarily seascapes. Museums started to purchase his paintings, and by 1941, he was elected to the National Academy and exhibited on a regular basis.

One of Wyeth’s many illustrated books

In 1945, Wyeth and his grandson (Nathaniel C. Wyeth’s son) were killed when the automobile they were riding in was struck by a freight train at a railway crossing near his Chadds Ford home. At the time, Wyeth had been working on an ambitious series of murals for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company depicting the Pilgrims at Plymouth, a series completed by Andrew Wyeth and John McCoy.

Significant public collections of Wyeth’s work are now on display at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, and in Maine, at the Portland Museum of Art and the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland. The Brandywine River Museum offers tours of the N. C. Wyeth House and Studio in Chadds Ford. The home and studio were designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1997. The home and studio are open to the public for tours. His studio is set up as if he has just left — the palette he used on the day of his death sits by his last canvas.

New Coins We Can Expect to See in 2019

While nothing can ever replace some of the classic U.S. coinage it is always exciting as a collector to see what new coins are being designed. From commemorative coins to new circulating coinage, here is a list of coins we are excited for in 2019!

American Eagle 2019 Silver Proof Coin

This design never gets old and who doesn’t love a silver coin?

The obverse features Adolph A. Weinman’s full-length figure of Liberty in full stride, enveloped in folds of the flag, with her right hand extended and branches of laurel and oak in her left. The reverse features a heraldic eagle with shield, an olive branch in the right talon and arrows in the left.

Each coin bears the “W” mint mark reflecting its striking at the West Point Mint. This product will be available very soon, on January 10, 2019, at 12 noon (ET).

Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coins

The world eagerly watched on July 20, 1969, as Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” E. Aldrin, Jr. took mankind’s first steps on the Moon. This unprecedented engineering, scientific, and political achievement was the culmination of the efforts of an estimated 400,000 Americans and secured our Nation’s leadership in space for generations to come. The Apollo 11 crew—Armstrong, Aldrin, and Michael Collins—safely returned to Earth on July 24, 1969, fulfilling the national goal set in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. Nearly half a century later, the United States is the only country ever to have attempted and succeeded in landing humans on a celestial body other than Earth and safely returning them home.

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the first manned landing on the Moon, Public Law 114-282 authorizes a four-coin program: a curved $5 gold coin, a curved $1 silver coin, a curved half-dollar clad coin, and a curved 5 ounce $1 silver proof coin.

These coins will be available on January 24, 2019, at 12 noon (ET).

Native American $1 2019 Coin

The theme of the 2019 Native American $1 Coin design is American Indians in the Space Program. Native Americans have been on the modern frontier of space flight since the beginning of NASA. Their contributions to the U.S. space program culminated in the space walks of John Herrington (Chickasaw Nation) on the International Space Station in 2002. This and other pioneering achievements date back to the work of Mary Golda Ross (Cherokee Nation). Considered the first Native American engineer in the U.S. space program, Ross helped develop the Agena spacecraft for the Gemini and Apollo space programs.

The obverse design features the “Sacagawea” design first produced in 2000.

The reverse design features Mary Golda Ross writing calculations. In the background, an Atlas-Agena rocket launches into space, with an equation inscribed in its cloud. The equation, denoting the energy it takes to leave Earth and reach the orbit of a distant planet, represents her important contributions to the space program. An astronaut, symbolic of Native American astronauts, including John Herrington, conducts a spacewalk above. A group of stars in the field behind indicates outer space.

This coin is projected to be released sometime in February.

2019 America the Beautiful Quarters

The 2019 coins will represent the 46th through 50th coins from the U.S. Mint’s program of America the Beautiful Quarters®. The series calls for one quarter celebrating a site in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories. A combined 56 sites will be honored by end of the program in 2021.

Release dates and the locations commemorated on the 2019-dated quarters are:

Feb. 4, 2019 – Lowell National Historical Park in Massachusetts.
April 1, 2019 – American Memorial Park in Northern Mariana Islands.
June 6, 2019 – War in the Pacific National Historical Park in Guam.
Aug. 26, 2019 – San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in Texas.
Nov. 4, 2019 – Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho.

Each of the 2019 quarters will begin their journey into general circulation on the above published dates, and all of them will be minted at the facilities in Denver and Philadelphia. The San Francisco Mint also produces quarters but only for specially packaged numismatic products.

The Royal Mint’s 2018 Annual Set

Every year, The Royal Mint produces an Annual Set. The set captures some of the United Kingdom’s most striking stories, a snapshot of the year’s memorable events and anniversaries that will become a lasting reminder of a moment in time. This years 2018 coins have been struck and presented in a variety of sets.

Birth of a Nightmare

Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel written by English author Mary Shelley that tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a hideous, sapient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. Shelley started writing the story when she was 18, and the first edition of the novel was published anonymously in London on 1 January 1818, when she was 20. This coin commemorates the 200 year anniversary of this widely celebrated work of fiction.

Frankenstein is infused with elements of the Gothic novel and the Romantic movement and at the same time, it is an early example of science fiction. Brian Aldiss has argued that it should be considered the first true science fiction story because, in contrast to previous stories with fantastical elements resembling those of later science fiction, the central character “makes a deliberate decision” and “turns to modern experiments in the laboratory” to achieve fantastic results. It has had a considerable influence in literature and popular culture and spawned a complete genre of horror stories, films and plays.

The Journey to Armistice

The First World War came to an end in 1918 as the Armistice was signed, bringing a silence to the battlefields. The design for the Armistice £2 coin features poignant words taken from Wilfred Owen’s poem ‘Strange Meeting’:

It seemed that out of battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.

Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,—
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.

With a thousand fears that vision’s face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
“Strange friend,” I said, “here is no cause to mourn.”
“None,” said that other, “save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also; I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something had been left,
Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled.
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress.
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery;
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery:
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels,
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.

“I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now. . . .”

A Turning Point in British Democracy

The Representation of the People Act 1918 was an Act of Parliament passed to reform the electoral system in Great Britain and Ireland. The Act extended the franchise in parliamentary elections, also known as the right to vote, to men aged 21 and over, whether or not they owned property, and to women aged 30 and over who resided in the constituency or occupied land or premises with a rateable value above £5, or whose husbands did. At the same time, it extended the local government franchise to include women aged 21 and over on the same terms as men.

The coin’s design by Stephen Taylor, a graphic designer at The Royal Mint, shows newly registered voters lined up to cast their vote for the first time.

A Century at the Nation’s Service

The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom’s aerial warfare force. Formed towards the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world. Following victory over the Central Powers in 1918 the RAF emerged as, at the time, the largest air force in the world. Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history. In particular, it played a large part in the Second World War where it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain. This coin features the badge of the Royal Air Force, representing the RAF’s continued strength

The Progress of a Prince

His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge celebrates his fifth birthday this year. All the usual milestones of life, such as his birthdays and his first day at school, are celebrated not only by his family but by a captivated public. The young prince inspires a new interpretation of his namesake, St George and the dragon.

The legend of Saint George and the Dragon describes the saint taming and slaying a dragon that demanded human sacrifices; the saint thereby rescues the princess chosen as the next offering. The legend and iconography spread rapidly through the Byzantine cultural sphere in the 12th century. It reached Western Christian tradition still in the 12th century, via the crusades. The knights of the First Crusade believed that St George with his fellow soldier-saints Demetrius, Maurice and Theodore had fought alongside them at Antioch and Jerusalem. The legend was popularised in western tradition in the 13th century based on its Latin versions in the Speculum Historiale and the Golden Legend. At first limited to the courtly setting of Chivalric romance, the legend was popularised in the 13th century and became a favourite literary and pictorial subject in the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance, and it has become integral part of the Christian traditions relating to Saint George both in Eastern and Western tradition.

he story has been linked with royal coins for centuries, symbolising courage and the triumph of good over evil. This design, symbolising the triumph of good over evil, is a fitting tribute to the prince and his fifth birthday.

What memories have you made in 2018? What historical moments do you think will be memorialized for years to come?

Santa Dollars

Have you ever see a U.S. dollar bill with the image of a smiling Santa Claus, instead of the usual George Washington portrait? These banknotes are called ‘Santa Dollars’ or ‘Santa Claus Dollars’, and are regular dollar bills on which a seal (or sticker) with Santa’s image is attached.

The Santa Dollar is legal tender and both bankable and spendable, approved by the Department of the Treasury of the United States Secret Service on February 19, 1986 and January 13, 1994 under Statue 333 USCA and is filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office No. 1674185. Over the years, the dollars and greeting cards have become popular Christmas Collectibles.

The Santa Dollar program is an interesting way for companies to work with charities of their choice.The business selling the Santa Dollars receives a package from Marketing Productions which includes santa stickers, Santa Dollar cards, and envelope. It is then on the business to retrieve uncirculated dollar bills from the bank and attach the santa sticker on the dollar bill atop Washington. For customers at the business, it cost $2.50 to purchase the Santa Dollar.  The $2.50 breakdowns as follows: $1 is given back to the business who initially supplied the dollar bill made into the Santa Dollar, $1 is given to the charity, and .50 cents goes to Marketing Productions who distributes the package materiels.

Since 1985, Santa Dollars have raised tens of millions of dollars for various charities across the United States. Corporate leaders, as well as small businesses, have worked to raise funds for the needs of their communities. They have joined hands to form a network of hope. The efforts of all these dedicated people have created the “magic” that has fueled the Santa Dollar program. Some of these charities include American Cancer Society, Boys & Girls Club of America, Humane Society, Make-A-Wish Foundation, March of Dimes, St. Jude Hospital, and hundreds more.

The company has since expanded to other holidays with Angelic Notes, Bunny Bucks, Cupids Cash, and Birthday Buck a Roos.

The Columbian Exposition Coin that Challenged the Way a Nation Views Women

In 1893 the commemorative Isabella quarter was struck. The Board of Lady Managers of the World’s Columbian Exposition requested authorization of the coin by congress. The quarter depicts the Spanish queen Isabella I of Castile, who sponsored Columbus’s voyages to the New World. It was designed by Bureau of the Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber, and is the only U.S. commemorative of that denomination that was not intended for circulation.

Bertha Palmer

The Board of Lady Managers whom requested the coin was headed by Bertha Palmer, whose husband Potter owned the Palmer House, the leading hotel in Chicago. The decisions of the Lady Managers were often reversed by their male counterparts on controversial matters: for example, Palmer sought to shut the fair’s “Egyptian Girls” dancing show after deeming it obscene. The show was one of the exposition’s few successful moneymakers, and the Lady Managers were overruled by the men who voted to keep it open.

At the insistence of women’s advocate, Susan B. Anthony, in 1890, authorization for the Board of Lady Managers to create this coin was granted. Anthony’s goal with this project was to show that women could successfully assist in the management of the fair. Thus, the Lady Managers sought a coin to sell in competition with the commemorative half dollar at the Exposition. When the half dollar appeared in November 1892, the Lady Managers considered it inartistic and determined to do better. Palmer wanted the Lady Managers “to have credit of being the authors of the first really beautiful and artistic coin that has ever been issued by the government of the United States”.

Palmer approached the House Appropriations Committee, asking that $10,000 of the funds already designated to be paid over to the Lady Managers by the federal government be in the form of souvenir quarters, which they could sell at a premium. Congress passed an act authorising the souvenir coin on March 3, 1893. The act required that the design had to be approved by the Secretary of the Treasury and that the total mintage of the special quarter would be limited to 40,000.

With approval for the coin, with albiet a small mintage, Palmer set out to produce a beautiful coin. Palmer asked artist Kenyon Cox to produce sketches, she was, however, determined to have a woman actually design the coin. She also consulted with Sara Hallowell, who was both the secretary to the fair’s Director of Fine Arts and was helping the Palmers amass a major art collection. Hallowell contacted sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who recommended his onetime student, Caroline Peddle, who was already engaged in exposition work, having been commissioned by Tiffany’s to produce an exhibit. Palmer agreed to have Peddle do the work.

On March 14, 1893, Edward O. Leech, the Director of the Bureau of the Mint, wrote to Palmer. He asserted that it was encouraged for the design process to be kept in-house at the mint. Palmer replied that the Lady Managers had already decided that the quarter would bear a portrait of Isabella I, Queen of Castile. She also stated that she was consulting artists and suggested that the Mint submit a design for consideration.


Peddle’s sketch

Finally, Palmer officially hired Peddle to do the design work. She instructed the artist that the coin was to have a figure of Isabella on the obverse, and the inscription “Commemorative coin issued for the Board of Lady Managers of the World’s Columbian Exposition by Act of Congress, 1492–1892” on the reverse, as well as the denomination and the name of the country. The chairwoman did not request that Peddle provide the Lady Managers with the design before sending it to the Mint. The secretary at the Mint said that the long inscription, would appear like a business advertising token, and he asked that it be revised. The Lady Managers, instead would likely have an outside sculptor create the obverse and the Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber to create some designs for the reverse for possible use.

But, Peddle had already designed the coin with Palmer’s previous instructions and sent the sketches to the Mint with the long inscription. The Mint was unhappy with the reverse and officially appointed Barber to design that side of the coin. The Mint also reported that Isabella’s legs would appear distorted if the seated figure were used and advocated a head in profile.  Peddle was informed that Barber would produce the reverse, though the design would be sent to her for approval, and she would have to change her obverse. Meanwhile, Palmer was growing increasingly anxious: with a timeline of two months from design approval to the availability of the actual coins, she feared that the pieces would not be available for sale until well into the fair’s May to October run. Under pressure from all sides, Peddle threatened to quit the project, writing that she “could not consent to do half of a piece of work”.

Two letters dated on April 7 from the Mint to Peddle asserted that the right as Mint director to prescribe coin designs, and told Peddle that the obverse would be a head of Isabella, while the reverse would be based on sketches by a Mint engraver which she would be free to model. The second letter, imposed the additional requirement that Isabella not wear a crown, which was deemed inappropriate on an American coin. And unfortunately, on April 8, 1893, Caroline Peddle withdrew from the project.

The Mint informed Palmer of Peddle’s resignation and Palmer lamented on their inability to work together. Palmer suggested an alternative to the inscription reverse, for the coin depict the Women’s Building at the fair. Barber prepared sketches and rejected the idea, stating that the building would appear a mere streak on the coin in the required low relief. Barber favored a sketch from Assistant Engraver George T. Morgan, showing a kneeling woman spinning flax, with a distaff in her hands. Others were not fully satisfied with the proposal, stating that the juxtaposition of Isabella on the obverse and the Morgan reverse was “too much woman”. Barber tackled the project of producing his own reverse designs which portrayed various uses of a heraldic eagle. The eagle designs were briefly considered but eventually Morgan’s designs were accepted stating that,  “the distaff is used in art to symbolize patient industry, and especially the industry of women.”

Curator at the University of Pennsylvania, Stewart Cullin, possessed a number of medals depicting Isabella, and former general Oliver O. Howard was engaged in writing a biography of the late queen and possessed likenesses of her. It was agreed that these men be consulted for the Isabella design. Still the Mint was reluctant to allow an inscription which made distinctions by sex, such as “Board of Lady Managers”, to appear on the coin, but it was eventually approved.

Palmer was sent a box containing two plaster models of the obverse, one of Isabella as a young queen, the other showing her more mature. Along with the models was a letter that informed her that the distaff reverse would be used. The obverse models were supposedly made by Barber based on an engraving of Isabella forwarded by Peddle to the Mint at Palmer’s request, but Moran suggests that the period of only a day between receipt of the engraving and completion of the models means that Barber was working on them before that. The Board of Lady Managers on May 5 selected the design of the young queen.

The coins final design was fairly well received regardless of the hardships to get to the final product. Many of the Lady Managers were overall discouraged by the process and that they were unable to have their full vision for the coin realized.

Exploring Cities with Postcards: Victoria

Victoria, the capital city of the Canadian province of British Columbia, is on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada’s Pacific coast. The city has a population of 85,792, while the metropolitan area of Greater Victoria has a population of 367,770, making it the 15th most populous Canadian metropolitan area. Victoria is the 7th most densely populated city in Canada with 4,405.8 people per square kilometre, which is a greater population density than Toronto.

 

s-l1600 (40)The Empress Hotel

The Fairmont Empress, formerly and commonly referred to as The Empress, is one of the oldest hotels in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The hotel was designed by Francis Rattenbury, and was built by Canadian Pacific Hotels, a division of the Canadian Pacific Railway company.

The Chateauesque was designed by Francis Rattenbury for Canadian Pacific Hotels as a terminus hotel for Canadian Pacific’s steamship line, whose main terminal was just a block away. The hotel was to serve business people and visitors to Victoria, but later as Canadian Pacific ceased its passenger services to the city, the hotel was successfully remarketed as a resort to tourists. Victoria emerged as a tourist destination beginning in the mid-to-late 1920s.

The hotel was built between 1904 and 1908, opening for service in that year. Additional wings were added between 1909 and 1914, and in 1928.

Famously, in the 1930s, Shirley Temple arrived accompanied by her parents amid rumours that she had fled from California because of kidnapping threats, a story borne from the presence of two huge bodyguards who took the room opposite hers and always left their door open. On May 30, 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth attended a luncheon at the Empress during their 1939 royal tour of Canada.

 

s-l1600-41.jpgButchart Gardens

The Butchart Gardens is a group of floral display gardens in Brentwood Bay, British Columbia, Canada, located near Victoria on Vancouver Island. The gardens receive over a million visitors each year. The gardens have been designated a National Historic Site of Canada.

Robert Pim Butchart (1856–1943) began manufacturing Portland cement in 1888 near his birthplace of Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada. He and his wife Jennie Butchart (1866–1950) came to the west coast of Canada because of rich limestone deposits necessary for cement production.

In 1904, they established their home near his quarry on Tod Inlet at the base of the Saanich Peninsula on Vancouver Island.

In 1907, 65-year-old garden designer Isaburo Kishida of Yokohama came to Victoria, at the request of his son, to build a tea garden for Esquimalt Gorge Park. This garden was wildly popular and a place to be seen. Several prominent citizens, Jennie Butchart among them, commissioned Japanese gardens from Kishida for their estates. He returned to Japan in 1912.

In 1909, when the limestone quarry was exhausted, Jennie set about turning it into the Sunken Garden, which was completed in 1921. They named their home “Benvenuto” (“welcome” in Italian), and began to receive visitors to their gardens. In 1926, they replaced their tennis courts with an Italian garden and in 1929 they replaced their kitchen vegetable garden with a large rose garden to the design of Butler Sturtevant of Seattle. Samuel Maclure, who was consultant to the Butchart Gardens, reflected the aesthetic of the English Arts and Crafts Movement.

 

s-l1600-42.jpgBeacon Hill Park
Beacon Hill Park is a 75 ha (200 acre) park located along the shore of Juan de Fuca Strait in Victoria, British Columbia. The park is popular both with tourists and locals, and contains a number of amenities including woodland and shoreline trails, two playgrounds, a waterpark, playing fields, a petting zoo, tennis courts, many ponds, and landscaped gardens.

The land was originally set aside as a protected area by Sir James Douglas, governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island in 1858. In 1882, the land was officially made a municipal park of the City of Victoria, and given its present name. The name is derived from a small hill overlooking the Strait, upon which once stood navigational beacons. The hill is culturally significant, having been a burial site for the First Nations Coast Salish people, who are the original inhabitants of the Greater Victoria region. It provides scenic vistas of the Strait and the Olympic Mountains of Washington.

Although much of the park has been landscaped into gardens and playing fields, and populated with various structures, a great deal of the native flora has been preserved. Garry oak, arbutus, Douglas-fir, western redcedar, camas, trillium, snowberry, Oregon grape, and fawn lily still remain in the park. Raccoons, river otters, squirrels, and many types of birds are frequently to be seen. The ponds in the park are noted for their swans, turtles, ducks, Canada geese, and blue herons

 

s-l1600-43.jpgBritish Columbia Parliament Buildings

From 1856 to 1860 the Legislature of the Colony of Vancouver Island met at Bachelor’s Hall at Fort Victoria. From 1860 to 1898 it was housed in the first permanent building at Legislative Hall or Legislative Council Court, a two-storey wooden building along with four other buildings (Land Office, Colonial Office, Supreme Court, and Treasury) known colloquially as “The Birdcages” because of their shape (burned 1957).

Construction of a new Parliament Building was first authorized by an act of the provincial legislature in 1893, the Parliament Buildings Construction Act. The province, anxious to commemorate its growing economic, social and political status, was engaged in an architectural competition to build a new legislative building in Victoria, after outgrowing “The Birdcages”, which were notoriously drafty and leaked in wet weather. Francis Rattenbury, a recent English immigrant, 25 years old, entered the contest and signed his drawings with the pseudonym “A B.C. Architect”. He progressed to the second round, signing his drawing “For Queen and Province” and eventually won the competition.

Despite many problems, including exceeding budget—the original budget was $500,000; the final amount was $923,000—the British Columbia Parliament Buildings began operation officially during 1898. The grand scale of its 500-foot (150 m) long andesite façade, central dome and two end pavilions, the richness of its white marble, and combination of Baroque rigorous symmetry, use of domes and sculptural massing with the rusticated surfaces of the currently popular Romanesque Revival style contributed to its being an innovative and impressive monument for the young province.


Click here to check out our range of Victoria Postcards

Currency of Hawaii

The dollar or dala was the currency of Hawaii between 1847 and 1898. It was equal to the United States dollar and was divided into 100 cents or keneta. Only sporadic issues were made, which circulated alongside United States currency.

King Kamehameha III

The creation of large plantations and the adoption of a Western style economy beginning about the 1820s created a demand for coined money. At first, this money consisted of coins carried in from a variety of countries having interests in the islands. This source proved unreliable, and coins were in chronically short supply. As dissatisfaction grew, King Kamehameha III (1825-54) set out to rectify this shortage by including a provision for a Hawaiian monetary system in his new legal code of 1846. The first official coinage issued by the Kingdom of Hawai’i was in 1847. This coin was a copper cent bearing the portrait of King Kamehameha III on its obverse.

It was originally anticipated that the 100,000 pieces included in this initial delivery were to be just the first of many, yet the overwhelming rejection of the copper coinage meant that no more would be struck.  The King Kamehameha III copper cent proved to be unpopular due to the King’s portrait being of poor quality. After 1862, the Hawaiian Treasury seized disbursing the unwanted cents, and a mere 11,595 pieces remained outstanding at that time.

In 1883, Kingdom of Hawai’i official silver coinage were issued in the denominations of one dime (umi keneta in Hawaiian), quarter dollar (hapaha), half dollar (hapalua) and one dollar (akahi dala). 26 proof sets were struck by the Philadelphia Mint and contained the umi keneta, hapaha, hapalua, and akahi dala. 20 proof specimens in the denomination of an eight dollar (hapawalu) were also struck. The Kingdom of Hawai’i desired to conform to the United States silver coinage denominations and selected the umi keneta over the hapawalu. The silver coins issued for circulation in the Kingdom was struck by the San Francisco Mint


Hawaii 1883 One Dollar silver coin with effigy of King Kalākaua

Hawaiian coins continued to circulate for several years after the 1898 annexation to the United States. In 1903, an act of Congress demonetized Hawaiian coins, and most were withdrawn and melted, with a sizable percentage of surviving examples made into jewelry.

Charles Ransom Chickering

Charles Ransom Chickering was a freelance artist who designed some 77 postage stamps for the U.S. Post Office while working at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, DC. His career as a professional artist began while working as an illustrator for the U.S. Army recording and drawing medical illustrations of the wounded and dead during the First World War.

On October 7, 1891, Charles Ransom Chickering was born in the Smithville section of Eastampton Township, New Jersey. His artistic ability was evident from an early age and in high school he was offered  a scholarship to attend the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art. This began his career as an illustrator. He graduated from this school in 1913 and soon sold his first illustrations to Collier’s Magazine where his career as a freelance book and magazine illustrator was assured.

When World War I began Chickering had to halt his career to enlist in the US Army. He was originally assigned to the infantry where he was soon transferred to a cavalry unit. While drawing in his spare time, the Army recognized his talents and started to assign him more unusual tasks. While stationed in France he was assigned to make medical illustrations of body-part wounds of soldiers who died in battle and were brought in for autopsy. Several of these drawings can still be seen in the Smithsonian collection in Washington, DC. In 1919 he was discharged from the Army. According to 1920 census records he once again continued his career as a freelance illustrator after the war.


Navy recruitment poster, 1942 

The magazine industry grew rapidly between WWI and WWII. Chickering during this time was able to find plenty of opportunities producing illustrations for a number of magazines. Including  Collier’s, Good Housekeeping, The Country Gentleman, Everybody’s Magazine, Blue Book, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Liberty, and the Saturday Evening Post. Some of his drawings were also used in Blue Book stories like Lady on the Warpath, The Blackout Murder, A Matter of a Pinion, and Be Sure Your Sin Will Run You In.

When World War II began, Chickering once again put his talents to use contributing to the war effort. Recognized for his illustrating ability working for the Army during the first world war he was commissioned by the government and designed recruitment posters for the Navy Department. Among his most famous posters was the Uncle Sam poster of 1942. He also designed posters that promoted awareness and the need for successful civilian war production.

Following the war, he had made connections with government officials and embarked on a career designing U.S. postage stamps. In 15 years of work, Chickering was credited for designing 66 stamp designs that were produced unaltered, into the final stamp design, such as the one used in the Opening of Japan commemorative issue of 1953, while 11 other designs were modified somewhat and incorporated into a stamp format.

While designing postage stamps with their frequent historical themes Chickering often spent much time researching and studying historical documents, letters, paintings, statues and photographs before creating the design for a postage stamp. When he designed the Gettysburg Address issue he studied a statue created by Daniel Chester French to create the image of Lincoln on the stamp, while the credo inscribed on the stamp is taken from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address itself.

In his later life Chickering developed heart problems which ultimately claimed his life while living in Island Heights, New Jersey, on April 29, 1970. During the months leading up to his death Chickering was still designing and producing first day covers some of which were consequently released after his death. The theme for the design of his final cachet was the South Carolina Settlement stamp issued in September 12, 1970. Chickering will always be remembered as a talented artist who created some of the most iconic imagery in U.S. history.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Federal Reserve Notes are a prime example of paper currency designed and produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP). The BEP is a government agency within the United States Department of the Treasury that designs and produces a variety of security products for the United States government. In addition to paper currency, the BEP produces Treasury securities; military commissions and award certificates; invitations and admission cards; different types of identification cards, forms, and other special security documents for a variety of government agencies. The BEP does not produce coins; all coinage is produced by the United States Mint.

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Salmon P. Chase Secretary of the Treasury

In July 1861, Congress authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to issue paper currency in lieu of coins due to the lack of funds needed to support the Civil War. The paper notes were essentially intended to be government IOUs called Demand Notes. Demand Notes were payable “on demand” in coin at certain Treasury facilities. At this time the government had no facility for the production of paper money so a private firm produced the Demand Notes in sheets of four. These sheets were then sent to the Treasury Department where dozens of clerks signed the notes and scores of workers cut the sheets and trimmed the notes by hand. In 1862, the Second Legal Tender Act authorized the Treasury Secretary to engrave and print notes at the Treasury Department.

In the beginning, the currency processing operations in the Treasury were not formally organized. In 1863, congress developed the Office of Comptroller of the Currency and National Currency Bureau. For years, the currency operations were known by various semi-official labels, such as the “Printing Bureau,” “Small Note Bureau,” “Currency Department,” and “Small Note Room.”  It was not until 1874 that the “Bureau of Engraving and Printing” was officially recognized in congressional legislation with a specific allocation of operating funds for the fiscal year of 1875.

From almost the very beginning of its operations, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing designed and printed a variety of products in addition to currency. As early as 1864, the offices which would later become the BEP made passports for the State Department and money orders for the Post Office Department. Other early items produced by the BEP included various government debt instruments, such as interest-bearing notes, refunding certificates, compound interest Treasury notes, and bonds.

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Issue of 1894 1st postage stamp

In July of 1894, the BEP officially took over production of postage stamps for the United States government. The first of the works printed by the BEP was placed on sale on July 18, 1894, and by the end of the first year of stamp production, the BEP had printed and delivered more than 2.1 billion stamps. The United States Postal Service switched purely to private postage stamp printers in 2005, ending 111 years of production by the Bureau. Starting in 2011 the United States Postal Service in-housed all postage stamp printing services.

 

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Aerial view of the BEP in Washington, D.C. circa 1918

In 1918 the invention of the power press increased plate capacity from four to eight notes per sheet, this was done to expand the production requirements related to World War I. With the redesign of currency in 1929, we saw the first major change since paper currency was first issued in 186. Note design was not only standardized but note size was also significantly reduced. Due to this reduction in size, the Bureau was able to convert from eight-note printing plates to twelve-note plates. The redesign effort came about for several reasons, chief among them a reduction in paper costs and improved counterfeit deterrence through better public recognition of currency features.

A further increase in the number of notes per sheet was realized in 1952 when the BEP experimented with new inks that dried faster. The Bureau was able to convert from 12-note printing plates to plates capable of printing 18 notes in 1952. Five years later in 1957, the Bureau began printing currency via the dry intaglio method that utilizes special paper and non-offset inks, enabling a further increase from 18 to 32 notes per sheet. Since 1968, all currency has been printed by means of the dry intaglio process, whereby wetting of the paper prior to printing is unnecessary. In this process, fine-line engravings are transferred to steel plates from which an impression is made on sheets of distinctive paper. Ink is applied to a plate containing 32 note impressions, which is then wiped clean, leaving ink in the engraved lines. The plate is pressed against the sheet of paper with such pressure as to actually press the paper into the lines of the plate to pick up the ink. Both faces and backs are printed in this manner – backs first. After the faces are printed, the sheets are then typographically overprinted with Treasury Seals and serial numbers.

With production facilities in Washington, DC, and Fort Worth, Texas, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has been the largest producer of government security documents in the United States since 1861!

Sources: [X] [X]

Beat Around the Bush

When someone beats around the bush they are often avoiding talking about something directly. The idiom  is used when one person wants to tell another to stop avoiding the true point of a conversation. In USA Today, the person quoted in this excerpt uses the expression to say he wants to get directly to his main point:

“Listen, there’s no beating around the bush — I’m old,” Miller cracked. “You can say it. … The guys in the locker room, the best way you can lead and be a part of it is by doing it with action, by not missing practice and getting through it when it’s tough. I can definitely help.”

The origin of this phrase is believed to be from hunting. In medieval era hunters would hire men to assist them during hunting. These hired men would help by flushing animals out from within the bushes, which they would do by whacking the brush with a wooden stick, and often shouting. The point was to make a bunch of noise in order to scare birds and other animals out from the cover of the bushes, making them easier targets for the hunters.Medium_loup
There would be a certain degree of danger that came from hitting bushes. While the more harmless creatures—birds, rabbits, squirrels, etc.—would be driven out, the more dangerous ones, such as wild boars, could also be lurking inside. Boars have sharp tusks that have the potential to cause serious harm to humans. Thus, to avoid injury from any harmful animals, it’s possible that these ‘beaters’ of the brush would strike the area around the bushes, instead of getting too close and hitting them directly. This is similar to how the idiom is used today—it refers to a person who talks about something, but instead of getting directly to the point, they speak around it.

The earliest written use of a variation of this phrase was around the year 1400, when it was used in an anonymous poem called Generydes: A Romance in Seven Line Stanzas:

Butt as it hatfi be sayde full long 1 agoo,
Some bete the bussh and some the byrdes take,

So next time you’re beating around a bush remember that just flat out saying the truth is likely less scary than possibly being injured by a wild boar, so just suck it up and stop beating around the bush!

Sources: [X] [X] [X]

The Nova Constellatio

The 1783 Nova Constellatio pattern coins represent a brilliant solution to the foremost economic problem facing the American States during the Revolutionary period – how to create a national currency that incorporated the hodge-podge of monetary systems in use at the time.

The Nova Constellatio coins are the first coins struck under the authority of the United States of America. These pattern coins were struck in early 1783, and are known in three silver denominations (1,000-Units, 500-Units, 100-Units), and one copper denomination (5-Units). All known examples bear the legend “NOVA CONSTELLATIO” with the exception of a unique silver 500-Unit piece.

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Robert Morris as painted by Charles Wilson Peale

Robert Morris, the Founding Father credited with financing the Revolutionary War, spent two years working on the Nova Constellatio patterns. Morris was unanimously elected the Nation’s first Superintendent of Finance in 1781; on February 21st of the following year, Congress passed the following resolution:

That Congress approve of the establishment of a mint; and, that the Superintendent of finance be, and hereby is directed to prepare and report to Congress a plan for establishing and conducting the same.

The financier’s plan, developed with his assistant, Gouverneur Morris, was ambitious: he hoped to unite the Nation with a monetary unit that would allow for easy conversion from British, Spanish, Portuguese, or State currencies to U.S. funds. More importantly, Morris’s proposal would be the first system of coinage in Western Europe or the Americas to use decimal accounting – an innovation that has been adopted by every nation on earth in last two centuries.

Due to the new government’s precarious financial situation, Congress did not put Morris’s plan into effect; however, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, became champions of the decimal concept after examining Morris’s coins. While Thomas Jefferson was in possession of the Nova Constellatio coins, he wrote a report entitled “Notes on the Establishment of a Money Unit and of Coinage for the United States”; in it, Jefferson concluded:

The Financier, therefore, in his report, well proposes that our Coins should be in decimal proportions to one another. If we adopt the Dollar for our Unit, we should strike four coins, one of gold, two of silver, and one of copper,.:

1. A golden piece, equal in value to ten dollars:
2. The Unit or Dollar itself, of silver:
3. The tenth of a Dollar, of silver also:
4. The hundredth of a Dollar, of copper.

This is the first written description of the monetary system ultimately adopted by the United States, clearly illustrating the historical importance of Morris’s patterns.

There are records of seven physical coins associated with Morris’s plan:PlainObverseQuint

1. A single silver coin of indeterminate denomination delivered to Morris on April 2nd, 1783. Upon its receipt, Morris recorded in his diary: I sent for Mr. Dudley who delivered me a Piece of Silver Coin being the first that has been struck as an American Coin.

2. A set of silver coins comprising a 1,000-Unit piece, a 500-Unit piece, and three 100-Unit pieces. These coins were struck after Alexander Hamilton visited the Treasury, initiating correspondence “On the Subject of the Coin” between Morris and Hamilton, culminating in the decision to strike a set of coins “to lay before Congress”.  These coins were later sent to Thomas Jefferson, who composed his “Notes on the Establishment of a Money Unit and of Coinage for the United States” while examining the set. Jefferson recorded the value of the set at $1.8, or 1,800-Units, indicating that its composition was one 1,000-Unit piece, one 500-Unit piece, and three 100-Unit pieces. This is the precise composition of the known silver examples bearing the legend “Nova Constellatio”.

3. A 5-Unit copper piece bearing the legend “Nova Constellatio”, which was sent to London prior to Jefferson’s receipt of the set.

After being returned to Congress, the coins were dispersed. In the mid-1840s, the 1,000-unit and 500-Unit piece from the set bearing the Legend NOVA CONSTELLATIO (A NEW CONSTELLATION) were discovered by a descendent of longtime Secretary of Congress, Charles Thomson. From this point forward, Morris’s coins would be called the Nova Constellatios.

Twenty-five years would pass before another of Morris’s coins would be found. A second silver 500-Unit piece was uncovered in 1870; however, this specimen lacked the NOVA CONSTELLATIO legend. Collectors dubbed this coin the “Type-2”, because it’s design differed from the Congressional set’s 500-Unit piece. In 2017, the designation for this piece was officially changed to “Plain Obverse” in A Guide Book of United States Coins 2017: The Official Red Book, when forensic evidence demonstrated that it was struck prior to the example from the set that was sent to Congress.

By 1900, three silver 100-Unit coins – all bearing the NOVA CONSTELLATIO inscription – would be located, leaving only the copper 5-Unit piece unaccounted for. In 1979, this coin, also bearing the NOVA CONSTELLATIO legend, was discovered in Europe. This incredible set of coins shaped how we use and handle money today.

Little Golden Books

Little Golden Books is a popular series of children’s books. You might recognize them from your childhood or maybe you read them to your kids – they have the iconic golden binding and tell many classic children’s stories. The eighth book in the series, The Poky PokylittlepuppyLittle Puppy, is the top-selling children’s book of all time. Many of the Little Golden Books have become bestsellers, including The Poky Little Puppy, Tootle, Scuffy the Tugboat, and The Little Red Hen. Several of the illustrators for the Little Golden Books later became staples within the picture book industry, including Corinne Malvern, Tibor Gergely, Gustaf Tenggren, Feodor Rojankovsky, Richard Scarry, Eloise Wilkin, and Garth Williams.

Lead of Artists and Writers Guild Inc., a division of Western Publishing, Georges Duplaix, in 1940 was tasked with developing new children’s books: Little Golden Books was the result. Duplaix had the idea to produce a colorful, more durable and affordable children’s book than those being published at that time which sold for $2 to $3.

Meanwhile, a shared printing plant made Western Publishing and Simon & Schuster develop a close relationship. In 1938, the first joint effort between Western and Simon & Schuster, A Children’s History, was published. With the help of Lucile Olge, Duplaix contacted Albert Leventhal, a vice president and sales manager at Simon & Schuster, and Leon Shimkin, also at Simon & Schuster, with his idea for Little Golden Books.

It was decided that twelve titles would be published  for simultaneous release in what was to be called the Little Golden Books Series. Each book would have 42 pages, 28 s-l1600 (45)printed in two-color, and 14 in four-color. The books would be staple-bound. The group originally discussed a 50-cent price for the books, but Western Publishing did not want to compete with other 50-cent books already on the market. The group calculated that if the print run for each title was 50,000 copies instead of 25,000, the books could affordably be sold for 25 cents each. Three editions totaling 1.5 million books sold out within five months of publication in 1942.

The involvement of Lucy Sprague Mitchell, an educator and founder of Bank Street Nursery School in New York’s West Village, gave a big boost to the series. As a strong proponent of realistic children books, Mitchell created the Bank Street Writer’s Laboratory, whose works became the new basis for the Little Golden Book series, with characters and situations that were often inspired by the very neighborhood where the Bank School was located.

As historian Leonard S. Marcus writes,

Mitchell had been in discussions with Georges Duplaix and Lucille Ogle as early as 1943 about the possibility of a special series of Little Golden Books written by members of Bank Street Writer’s Laboratory. Wartime shortages had delayed the launch of the series until 1946. The first two titles appeared that year: Lucy Sprague Mitchell’s The New House in the Forest, illustrated by Eloise Wilkins, and The Taxi That Hurried, coauthored by Irma Simonton Black and Jessie Stanton, with illustrations by Tibor Gergely.

In 1958, Simon & Schuster sold its interest in Little Golden Books to Western Publishing. The price of Little Golden Books rose to 29¢ in 1962.

Golden Melody Books were introduced in the 1980s, thewe were Golden Books that included a long-lasting electronic chip that played music every time the book was opened. Titles included popular children’s songs such as Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and songs from children’s TV and movies including People in Your Neighborhood from Sesame Street and Heigh Ho from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

In the year 2000, Encore Software produced a series of “Little Golden Books” titles for CD ROM, including The Poky Little Puppy, Mother Goose, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Velveteen Rabbit, Tootle, and The Saggy Baggy Elephant. These six individual titles were some of the first major software releases to be produced entirely in Macromedia Flash.

s-l1600 (46)Random House acquired Little Golden Books in 2001 for about $85 million. At that point, nearly 15 million copies of The Poky Little Puppy had been sold, including copies in various languages. On August 25 2015, Little Golden Books adapted the first six installments of the Star Wars saga and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith became the first ever Little Golden Book in history to be based on a film that was rated PG-13 by the MPAA. Months later, on April 12, 2016, a Little Golden Book adaptation of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the next film in the saga, also rated PG-13, was released. This opened the door for further Little Golden Books that drew upon PG-13 rated licensed film properties, such as the 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters, characters and storylines from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and even Jurassic Park.

Stop by the Little Golden Books’ website for an even more detailed timeline of the books.


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Exploring Cities with Postcards: Los Angeles

Los Angeles is the second-most populous city in the United States, after New York City, and the largest and most populous city in the Western United States. With an estimated population of four million, Los Angeles is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Southern California. Nicknamed the “City of Angels” partly because of its name’s Spanish meaning, Los Angeles is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood and the entertainment industry, and sprawling metropolis.

 

laPacific Electric Building

The historic Pacific Electric Building (also known as the Huntington Building) opened in 1905 as the terminal for the Pacific Electric Red Car Lines running east and south of downtown Los Angeles, as well as the company’s main headquarters building. It was designed by architect Thornton Fitzhugh. Though not the first modern building in Los Angeles, nor the tallest, its large footprint and ten-floor height made it the largest building in floor area west of Chicago for several decades. Above the main floor terminal were five floors of offices and on the top three floors, the Jonathan Club, one of the city’s leading businessmen’s clubs.

In 1914, a total of 1,626 PE trains entered or left Los Angeles in 3262 cars daily. With the increase in automobiles in Los Angeles in the 1920s, congestion of shared street running with the Los Angeles Railway city streetcars and auto traffic delayed PE trains traveling to the north and west up Main Street to Glendale, Hollywood, and Santa Monica. In 1922, the California Railroad Commission issued Order No. 9928, which called for the Pacific Electric to construct a subway to bypass downtown’s busy streets. The Subway Terminal Building, a second PE terminal, was then built across downtown at the base of Bunker Hill at 4th and Hill Streets across from Pershing Square to serve the subway, which opened December 1, 1925, speeding passenger service considerably to Hollywood, Santa Monica, and Glendale.

 

s-l1600-35.jpgPolytechnic High School

John H. Francis Polytechnic High School is a secondary school located in the Sun Valley neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, United States. It serves grades 9 through 12 and is a part of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Despite its name, Polytechnic is a comprehensive high school.

Polytechnic High School opened in 1897 as a “commercial branch” of the only high school at that time in the city, the Los Angeles High School. As such, Polytechnic is the second oldest high school in the city. The school’s original campus was located in downtown Los Angeles on South Beaudry Avenue, the present location of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education headquarters.

Notable alumni include Helen Gurley Brown: founder of Cosmopolitan magazine,  Marcellite Garner: voice actress of Minnie Mouse, Tom Bradley: 38th Mayor of Los Angeles, and Carl David Anderson: recipient of the 1936 Nobel Prize in Physics.

 

s-l1600-36.jpgGriffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory is a facility in Los Angeles, California, sitting on the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park. It commands a view of the Los Angeles Basin, including Downtown Los Angeles to the southeast, Hollywood to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. The observatory is a popular tourist attraction with an excellent view of the Hollywood Sign and an extensive array of space and science-related displays. Admission has been free since the observatory’s opening in 1935, in accordance with the will of Griffith J. Griffith, the benefactor after whom the observatory is named.

3,015 acres of land surrounding the observatory was donated to the City of Los Angeles by Griffith J. Griffith on December 16, 1896. In his will Griffith donated funds to build an observatory, exhibit hall, and planetarium on the donated land. Griffith’s objective was to make astronomy accessible by the public, as opposed to the prevailing idea that observatories should be located on remote mountaintops and restricted to scientists.

As a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project, construction began on June 20, 1933, using a design developed by architect John C. Austin based on preliminary sketches by Russell W. Porter. The observatory and accompanying exhibits were opened to the public on May 14, 1935 as the country’s third planetarium. In its first five days of operation the observatory logged more than 13,000 visitors.

During World War II the planetarium was used to train pilots in celestial navigation. The planetarium was again used for this purpose in the 1960s to train Apollo program astronauts for the first lunar missions.

 

s-l1600-37.jpgUniversity of California, Los Angeles

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), is a public research university in Los Angeles. It became the Southern Branch of the University of California in 1919, making it the second-oldest (after UC Berkeley) undergraduate campus of the 10-campus University of California system. It offers 337 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in a wide range of disciplines.

In March 1881, the California State Legislature authorized the creation of a southern branch of the California State Normal School (now San José State University) in downtown Los Angeles to train teachers for the growing population of Southern California. The Los Angeles branch of the California State Normal School opened on August 29, 1882, on what is now the site of the Central Library of the Los Angeles Public Library system. The facility included an elementary school where teachers-in-training could practice their technique with children. That elementary school is related to the present day UCLA Lab School. In 1887, the branch campus became independent and changed its name to Los Angeles State Normal School.s-l1600 (38)

During its first 32 years, UCLA was treated as an off-site department of UC. As such, its presiding officer was called a “provost”, and reported to the main campus in Berkeley. In 1951, UCLA was formally elevated to co-equal status with UC Berkeley, and its presiding officer Raymond B. Allen was the first chief executive to be granted the title of chancellor. The appointment of Franklin David Murphy to the position of Chancellor in 1960 helped spark an era of tremendous growth of facilities and faculty honors. By the end of the decade, UCLA had achieved distinction in a wide range of subjects.


Click here to check out our range of Los Angeles Postcards

Click here to check out our range of California Postcards

The Controversial Works of G.A. Henty

George Alfred Henty, best known for his historical adventure stories that were popular in the late 19th century, was a prolific English novelist and war correspondent.

G.A. Henty was born in Trumpington, near Cambridge. He was a sickly child who had to spend long periods in bed. During his frequent illnesses he became an avid reader and developed a wide range of interests which he carried into adulthood. He attended Westminster School, London, and later Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he was a keen sportsman. He left the university early without completing his degree to volunteer for the Army Hospital Commissariat when the Crimean War began.

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Depiction of the Crimean War by Franz Roubaud

Henty was sent to the Crimea and while there he witnessed the appalling conditions under which the British soldier had to fight. His letters home were filled with vivid descriptions of what he saw. His father was impressed by his letters and sent them to The Morning Advertiser newspaper which printed them. This initial writing success was a factor in Henty’s later decision to accept the offer to become a special correspondent, the early name for journalists now better known as war correspondents.

Shortly before resigning from the army as a captain in 1859 he married Elizabeth Finucane. The couple had four children. Elizabeth died in 1865 after a long illness and shortly after her death Henty began writing articles for the Standard newspaper. In 1866 the newspaper sent him as their special correspondent to report on the Austro-Italian War where he met Giuseppe Garibaldi. He went on to cover the 1868 British punitive expedition to Abyssinia, the Franco-Prussian War, the Ashanti War, the Carlist Rebellion in Spain and the Turco-Serbian War. He also witnessed the opening of the Suez Canal and travelled to Palestine, Russia and India.

Henty once stated  in an interview how his storytelling skills grew out of tales told after dinner to his children. He wrote his first children’s book, Out on the Pampas in 1868, naming the book’s main characters after his children. The book was published by Griffith and Farran in November 1870 with a title page date of 1871. While most of the 122 books he wrote were for children, he also wrote adult novels, non-fiction such as The March to Magdala and Those Other Animals, short stories for the likes of The Boy’s Own Paper and edited the Union Jack, a weekly boy’s magazine.

Henty’s children’s novels typically revolved around a boy or young man living in troubled times. These ranged from the Punic War to more recent conflicts such as the Napoleonic Wars or the American Civil War. Henty’s heroes – which occasionally included young ladies – are uniformly intelligent, courageous, honest and resourceful with plenty of ‘pluck’, yet also modest. These virtues have made Henty’s novels popular today among many Christians and homeschoolers.

Henty’s commercial popularity encouraged other writers to try writing juvenile adventure stories in his style; “Herbert Strang”, Henry Everett McNeil, Percy F. Westerman and Captain Frederick Sadleir Brereton all wrote novels in “the Henty tradition”, often incorporating then-contemporary themes such as aviation and First World War combat. By the 1930s, however, interest in Henty’s work was declining in Britain, and hence few children’s writers there looked to his work as a model

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A Tale of the Crimea

Henty usually researched his novels by ordering several books on the subject he was writing on from libraries, and consulting them before beginning writing. Some of his books were written about events (such as the Crimean War) that he witnessed himself; hence, these books are written with greater detail as Henty drew upon his first-hand experiences of people, places, and events.

Even during his lifetime, Henty’s work was a source of controversy; some Victorian writers accused Henty’s novels of being xenophobic towards non-British people and objected to his glorification of British imperialism in such books as True to the Old Flag (1885) which supports the Loyalist side in the American War of Independence, and In the Reign of Terror (1888) and No Surrender! A Tale of the Rising in La Vendée (1900) which are strongly hostile to the French Revolution. However, In Henty’s novel In Freedom’s Cause: A Story of Wallace and Bruce (1885) the hero fights against the English, and bitterly denounces the acts of England’s king, Edward I.

Henty’s popularity amongst homeschoolers is not without controversy. Quoting from the chapter of By Sheer Pluck called “The Negro Character” (“like children”), American television host and political commentator Rachel Maddow called Henty’s writings “spectacularly racist”. Carpenter and Pritchard note that while “Henty’s work is indeed full of racial (and class) stereotypes”, he sometimes created sympathetic ethnic minority characters, such as the Indian servant who marries a white woman in With Clive in India, and point out Henty admired the Turkish Empire. Some even accuse Henty of holding blacks in utter contempt, and this is expressed in novels such as By Sheer Pluck: A Tale of the Ashanti War and A Roving Commission, or, Through the Black Insurrection at Hayti. Kathryne S. McDorman states Henty disliked blacks and also, in Henty’s fiction, that “Boers and Jews were considered equally ignoble”. In By Sheer Pluck: A Tale of the Ashanti War, Mr. Goodenough, an entomologist remarks to the hero:

They [Negroes] are just like children … They are always either laughing or quarrelling. They are good-natured and passionate, indolent, but will work hard for a time; clever up to a certain point, densely stupid beyond. The intelligence of an average negro is about equal to that of a European child of ten years old. … They are fluent talkers, but their ideas are borrowed. They are absolutely without originality, absolutely without inventive power. Living among white men, their imitative faculties enable them to attain a considerable amount of civilization. Left alone to their own devices they retrograde into a state little above their native savagery.

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Illustration from the novel Facing Death

In the Preface to his novel A Roving Commission (1900) Henty claims “the condition of the negroes in Hayti has fallen to the level of that of the savage African tribes” and argues “unless some strong white power should occupy the island and enforce law and order” this situation will not change.

A review by Deirdre H. McMahon in Studies of the Novel in 2010 refers to his novels as jingoist and racist and states that during the previous decade “Numerous reviews in right-wing and conservative Christian journals and websites applaud Henty’s texts as model readings and thoughtful presents for children, especially boys. These reviews often ignore Henty’s racism by packaging his version of empire as refreshingly heroic and patriotic.”

Despite the controversies, Henty wrote 122 works of historical fiction. Several short stories published in book form are included in this total, with the stories taken from previously published full-length novels. On 16 November 1902, Henty died aboard his yacht in Weymouth Harbour, Dorset, leaving unfinished his last novel, By Conduct and Courage, which was completed by his son Captain C.G. Henty. Henty is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London.


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Masonic Tokens

As a coin collector it is not uncommon to come across odd tokens, medals, and exonumia. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what you’ve got and there are hundreds of historical tokens made for various reasons. Beginning in the mid-19th century, fraternal orders such as the Masons, Odd Fellows, Eagles, and Elks issued tokens that could be presented as proof of membership in the order. Masonic pennies specifically, would often feature a chapter’s name on the token.

Because symbolism was so important to fraternal culture, these small coins often held a lot of meaning. The most common representation of the Masons was the letter “G” surrounded by a compass and square, representing the holy geometry of God. At times other masonry tools like keystones, mallets, and chisels were struck into Masonic tokens. Some tokens feature the letters “H.T.W.S.S.T.K.S.,” which means “Hiram the Widow’s Son Sent to King Solomon,” the biblical story that must be acted out to reach the third, or Master’s Degree, in Freemasonry.

Both the Masons and the Odd Fellows employ the “All-Seeing Eye” of God in their imagery, as well as grim skeletal “memento mori” symbols. But an Odd Fellows token might have three chain links (“friendship, love and trust”), a handshake (“friendship”), or a hand holding a heart (“sincere charity”). Bees, scales, and snakes are other esoteric symbols that are found on fraternal pennies.

Many Masonic tokens are scarce today because, “members of the fraternity cherish them highly, and do not ordinarily part with them in their lifetime.”

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Origins of the Secret Service

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The Secret Service protecting the President at a parade

Everyone knows that the Secret Service is a federal law enforcement agency under the United States Department of Homeland Security, charged with conducting criminal investigations and protecting the nation’s leaders. Mainly we think of a group with earpieces dressed all in black and surrounding the president. What you may not know is that the agency was originally founded to combat the then-widespread counterfeiting of U.S. currency.

With a reported one third of the currency in circulation being counterfeit at the time, the Secret Service was created on July 5, 1865 in Washington, D.C., to suppress counterfeit currency. Chief William P. Wood was sworn in by Secretary of the Treasury Hugh McCulloch. It was commissioned in Washington, D.C. as the “Secret Service Division” of the Department of the Treasury with the mission of suppressing counterfeiting.

The legislation creating the agency was on Abraham Lincoln’s desk the night he was assassinated. At the time, the only other federal law enforcement agencies were the United States Customs Service, the United States Park Police, the U.S. Post Office Department’s Office of Instructions and Mail Depredations (now known as the United States Postal Inspection Service), and the United States Marshals Service. The Marshals did not have the manpower to investigate all crime under federal jurisdiction, so the Secret Service began investigating a wide range of crimes from murder to bank robbery to illegal gambling.

After the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901, Congress informally requested that the Secret Service provide presidential protection. A year later, the Secret Service assumed full-time responsibility for presidential protection. In 1902, William Craig became the first Secret Service agent to die while serving, in a road accident while riding in the presidential carriage.

The Secret Service was the first U.S. domestic intelligence and counterintelligence agency. Domestic intelligence collection and counterintelligence responsibilities were vested in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) upon the FBI’s creation in 1908.

Secret_Service_Asset_Forfeiture_and_Money_Laundering_Task_Force_(AFMLTF)

Secret Service Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Task Force

The Secret Service is divided into two main parts: Investigative Mission and Protective Mission. The Investigative Mission of the USSS is to safeguard the payment and financial systems of the United States from a wide range of financial and electronic-based crimes. Financial investigations include counterfeit U.S. currency, bank & financial institution fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, illicit financing operations, and major conspiracies. Electronic investigations include cybercrime, network intrusions, identity theft, access device fraud, credit card fraud, and intellectual property crimes. The Secret Service is a key member of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) which investigates and combats terrorism on a national and international scale, as well as of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) task force which seeks to reduce and eliminate drug trafficking in critical regions of the United States. The Service also investigates missing and exploited children and is a core partner of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).

 

Over the years the Secret Service has taken on many roles and grown to be a massive and vital department that serves the United States. It is an interesting history rooted in greed and counterfeiting that developed the service that protects our nation and nations leaders to this day!

For an extensive timeline of the Secret Service checkout the official website: https://www.secretservice.gov/about/history/events/

A History of Black Friday

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is regarded by many as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. And while you might be planning on staying in and avoiding the crowds or simply stopping by your local coin shop, since 2005, Black Friday has been the busiest shopping day of the year. With retailers extending their hours and deals every year, the crowds and chaos show no signs of decreasing.

While not a federal holiday, several states observe the day after Thanksgiving as a holiday, which means many state and school employees have the day off. Therefore, the number of potential shoppers greatly increases. Here’s a look at the history and evolution of Black Friday.

Gold_room_scene_on_Black_Friday

Panic in Gold room on Black Friday

The first recorded use of the term “Black Friday” was applied not to holiday shopping but to financial crisis: specifically, the crash of the U.S. gold market on September 24, 1869. Two Wall Street financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, worked together to buy up as much as they could of the nation’s gold, hoping to drive the price sky-high and sell it for astonishing profits. On that Friday in September, the conspiracy finally unraveled, sending the stock market into free-fall and bankrupting everyone from Wall Street barons to farmers.

Likely the most commonly repeated story behind Black Friday tradition is it’s links to retailers. As the story goes, after an entire year of operating at a loss (“in the red”) stores would supposedly earn a profit (“went into the black”) on the day after Thanksgiving, because holiday shoppers blew so much money on discounted merchandise. Though it’s true that retail companies used to record losses in red and profits in black when doing their accounting, this version of Black Friday’s origin is the officially sanctioned—but inaccurate—story behind the tradition.

In recent years, another myth has surfaced that gives a particularly ugly twist to the tradition, claiming that back in the 1800s Southern plantation owners could buy slaves at a discount on the day after Thanksgiving. Though this version of Black Friday’s roots has understandably led some to call for a boycott of the retail holiday, it has no basis in fact.

The true story behind Black Friday, however, is not as sunny as retailers might have you believe with the red and black accounting. Back in the 1950s, police in the city of Philadelphia used the term to describe the chaos that ensued on the day after Thanksgiving, when hordes of suburban shoppers and tourists flooded into the city in advance of the big Army-Navy football game held on that Saturday every year. Not only would Philly cops not be able to take the day off, but they would have to work extra-long shifts dealing with the additional crowds and traffic. Shoplifters would also take advantage of the craziness in stores to make off with merchandise, adding to the law enforcement headache.

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1908 Army–Navy game at Franklin Field

By 1961, “Black Friday” had caught on in Philadelphia, to the extent that the city’s merchants and boosters tried unsuccessfully to change it to “Big Friday” in order to remove the negative connotations. The term didn’t spread to the rest of the country until much later, however, and as recently as 1985 it wasn’t in common use nationwide. Sometime in the late 1980s, however, retailers found a way to reinvent Black Friday and turn it into something that reflected positively, rather than negatively, on them and their customers. The result was the “red to black” concept of the holiday and the notion that the day after Thanksgiving marked the occasion when America’s stores finally turned a profit.

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Crowd of People on Black Friday Waiting for JcPenney’s to Open

That Black Friday story stuck, and pretty soon the term’s roots in Philadelphia were largely forgotten. Since then, the one-day sales bonanza has morphed into a four-day event, and spawned other “retail holidays” such as Small Business Saturday/Sunday and Cyber Monday. Stores started opening earlier and earlier on that Friday, and now the most dedicated shoppers can head out right after their Thanksgiving meal. According to a pre-holiday survey by the National Retail Federation, an estimated 135.8 million Americans definitely plan to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend (58.7 percent of those surveyed), though even more (183.8 million, or 79.6 percent) said they would or might take advantage of the online deals offered on Cyber Monday.


Happy Black Friday and happy shopping!

Maybe consider avoiding the madness outside and pop by our ebay store for thousands of listings of coins, postcards, stamps, and more collectibles! 

Victorian Betrothal Rings

While engagement rings now are just an accepted part of the marriage tradition, that wasn’t always the case. Victorian betrothal rings or engagement rings are those which were designed and used during the Victorian era, from 1837 to 1901 and are the rings

Queen_Victoria_by_Bassano

Photograph of Queen Victoria, 1882

that popularized engagement rings in general. Queen Victoria herself had a great influence on the styles of jewelry during her time. She was fond of jewelry and had an everlasting affection for her husband, Prince Albert. It was her love for a diamond that led to a revolution in diamond rings making them the favorite.

When it comes to jewelry, the Victorian era is classified into three parts – Early Victorian era, the mid-Victorian era, and late Victorian era. Many changes in the preference of metals and diamonds as well as gemstones were seen during the Victorian era.

Before 1854, lower karat gold alloys were used to make jewelry. Precious rings were created with 22k or 18k gold which had 75% of pure gold alloyed with copper, silver, nickel or sometimes a mixture of all these metals.

Rings were also made of silver before 1854. But after 1854, gold standards changed and even rings made of 15k, 12k and 9k gold were found in the market. The second biggest and most important change that took place was once the diamond mines in South Africa were opened in 1870.

Before this time, diamonds were rare and even if they were seen, clusters of small diamonds were found in the diamond rings. However, after 1870 and after the opening of South African large diamonds were made available and were  used in the making of wedding rings and engagement rings.

l_15k_ruby_snake_ring_1_org_l.jpgEarly Victorian engagement rings and wedding rings could be easily distinguished by their huge size and bright colors. Gemstones were used and bold designs were created in which snake designs were quite famous. Celtic designs were also pretty common these days. During this time, flashy and over-the-top designs were more common. These were from the heydays and early married days of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

The popularity of the snake patterned ring was because Albert had presented Victoria a snake and emerald ring as a betrothal ring. During that time, people blindly followed and considered whatever queen Victoria wore as the fashion. In fact, right from that time, the Victorian engagement rings enjoyed years of popularity.

Gemstones popularly used during this time were amethyst, ruby, smoky quartz, chalcedony, moss agate, bloodstone, garnet, and topaz. It was a trend during those days and the rings were usually made of the bride’s birthstone.

victoriayellowfront

Brilliant Cut

Diamond rings at this time were mainly small clusters of diamond or a small diamond surrounded by circular or square shaped gemstones. The brilliant cut was the most popular diamond cut at that time along with the traditional rose cut.

During the middle years of the Victorian era, the engagement ring style took a different tone. Prince Albert died in 1861 and Queen Victoria took a long time to come out of the grief. During this time, memorial rings which were also known as mourning rings became highly popular. These were famous during the Georgian era too, a few years back.

During this time, the base metal was usually silver and gold with different karat values ranging from 18k to 9k. Rings made of gold alloyed with copper which was called rose gold rings were also very popular. Prevalent gemstones and designs during this time were emeralds, pearls, diamonds, opals, crystals, jet, black glass, and the ruby.

IMG_0133.jpgThe designs became more sophisticated and less showy. Popular jewelry design motifs were hearts, acorns, stars, bees, birds, insects, shells, some flowers as well as geometrical shapes. A gradual increase in the use of gold and diamond jewelry had started to be seen by this time.

The late Victorian era saw wedding rings designed in the shape of a boat, more use of pearls and light airy styles was seen. These rings worked as inspiration for the Edwardian era which was soon to arrive.

The diamond rush brought big changes in the engagement rings of the Victorian era. There was a shift from handcrafted rings to machine-made rings during this time. gradually the age-old technique of metal work was lost in history.

The late Victorian era saw solitaire diamond engagement ring made its debut and this became highly popular in the mid-1840s. People started using platinum for gemstones and diamond was also started to be set with platinum replacing gold and silver to a large extent.Victorian-Ruby-Grape-Cluster-14K-Gold-full-2-720-16-l-95a6ba-ffffff

During this time, the popular motifs were stars, feathers, bows and ribbons, lace-type filigree, double hearts, doves, oak leaves, crowns, grape clusters, and Egyptian designs. Popular gemstones were rubies, sapphires, aquamarine, peridot, chrysoberyl, turquoise opals, amethyst, and emeralds.

Betrothal rings were made of metals including 18k, 15k, 12k, and 9k yellow gold along with silver, rose gold and platinum. These were the preferred metals for diamond and different gemstones set in luxurious places.

The Victorian era defined engagement rings and carried the tradition into modern era.

Sources:
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The Pilgrim Half Dollar

The Pilgrim Tercentenary half dollar or Pilgrim half dollar was a commemorative fifty-cent coin struck by the United States Bureau of the Mint in 1920 and 1921 to mark the 300th anniversary (tercentenary) of the arrival of the Pilgrims in North America. It was designed by Cyrus E. Dallin.

Massachusetts Congressman Joseph Walsh was involved in joint federal and state efforts to mark the anniversary. He saw a reference to a proposed Maine Centennial half dollar and realized that a coin could be issued for the Pilgrim anniversary in support of the observances at Plymouth, Massachusetts. The bill moved quickly through the legislative process and became the Act of May 12, 1920 with the signature of President Woodrow Wilson.

Cyrus_Edwin_Dallin

Portrait of Dallin

The Pilgrim Tercentenary Commission made sketches for a design, which were converted to three-dimensional plaster models by Cyrus E. Dallin, a Boston sculptor known for his portrayals of Native Americans, who had also created works related to the Pilgrims. As the legislation was not approved until May 12, 1920, and the commission hoped to have the coins available for sale as early as possible, Dallin was urged to hurry with his work.

Dallin finished his models in August 1920 and the commission referred the designs to sculptor member James Earle Fraser. On examining Dallin’s work, Fraser deemed the lettering crude, but in an undated letter to Moore (probably late August) regretted that due to the tight timeline for production, there was no opportunity to make changes. He suggested that the Mint be urged to allow three months in future for CFA consideration. After the commission met on September 3, a letter to that effect was sent to the Director of the United States Mint, Raymond T. Baker. The letter was ignored, and the Treasury approved the designs.

Pilgrim_tercentenary_half_dollar_commemorative_obverseThe obverse of the coin features William Bradford. He wears a hat and carries a Bible under his arm. Bradford, noted for piety, was intended to be seen in a moment of meditation. Dallin’s plaster models had the words “HOLY BIBLE” on the volume; these, together with Dallin’s initials “CED”, were removed.Instead, the initial D was placed under Bradford’s elbow, likely impressed upon the hub as an afterthought by a punch normally used to create the mint mark D for the Denver Mint. Numismatists Anthony Swiatek and Walter Breen deemed Bradford’s broad collar near enough to Puritan wear of the day to pass, though they questioned the authenticity of the ruffled cravat. Bradford’s portrait is in any case an invention; no genuine likeness of him is known. The Pilgrim_tercentenary_half_dollar_commemorative_reversecrudeness of the lettering complained of by Fraser is not apparent due to the relatively small size of the coins.

The reverse depicts the Mayflower under full sail. Numismatic writers have focused much attention on the fact that the ship bears a triangular flying jib, a type of sail not used at the time of the Mayflower voyage.


Art historian Cornelius Vermeule, in his volume on U. S. coins and medals, deemed the Pilgrim half dollar “a masterpiece in the conservative tradition”. He suggested that Dallin’s portrait of Bradford was influenced by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and his sculpture, The Puritan. Vermeule deemed the ship on the reverse a great advance on George T. Morgan’s 1892 depiction of the Santa María on the Columbian half dollar, and felt that Dallin’s vessel presaged the ships (at least five) on commemorative coins of the 1930s. “Seen from the stern on the waves, the Pilgrims’ ship is impressive.”
The Philadelphia Mint coined 200,112 half dollars in October 1920, with the excess above the round number reserved for inspection and testing at the 1921 meeting of the annual Assay Commission. They were shipped to the National Shawmut Bank of Boston which sold the coins for $1 each to the public, with the profits to go to the tercentenary commission. The coins could be ordered through any bank in Boston or Plymouth. Swiatek believed the sale of 1920-dated coins to have been very successful, and there was no thought at that time of returning any to the Mint for redemption and melting. The recession of 1921 began soon after; sales dropped, and tens of thousands of coins remained unsold. The tercentenary commission returned 48,000 of the 1920 issue and 80,000 of the 1921 to the Mint.

The Pilgrim half dollars have appreciated in price over the years, with the rarer 1921 leading the way, of which only 20,000 are extant. At the peak of the first commemorative coin boom in 1936, the 1920 sold for $1.75 and the 1921 for $8; at the peak of the second boom in 1980 the 1920 sold for $275 and the 1921 for $800. The deluxe edition of R. S. Yeoman’s A Guide Book of United States Coins (2015) lists the 1920 at between $85 and $650 and the 1921 at between $170 and $850, each depending on condition. An exceptional specimen of the 1920 sold at auction in 2014 for $7,344.

Wizarding World Currency

The second movie in the Harry Potter prequel series, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald premieres in the U.S. tomorrow! With this new release fans are learning more about the magical wizarding world imagined up by author J.K. Rowling. It seems Rowling has thought up everything, from a wizarding judicial system, their own version of SAT’s, and even their own magical currency. In celebration of the new movie release, we are going to explore the coinage of the wizarding world. (For the purposes of this post, all references to specific coins are to replica coins based on the series.)

wwThe most well known wizarding currency is the wizarding currency of the United Kingdom, which consists of three different coins; in decreasing order of value, they are: Galleon, Sickle and Knut. They are gold, silver, and bronze, respectively. According to Rubeus Hagrid, there are 17 Sickles in a Galleon, and 29 Knuts in a Sickle, meaning there are 493 Knuts to a Galleon.

Around the edge of each coin is a series of numerals which represent a serial number belonging to the Goblin that cast the coin. The three denominations of wizarding currency were sometimes represented with the following set of symbols (shown in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince):

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According to Rowling, the approximate value of a Galleon is “About five Great British pounds, though the exchange rate varies!”. This is consistent with the “textbooks” Rowling wrote for charity (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages), which states that GB£174 million/US$250 million is equivalent to 34 million Galleons (or 34,000,872 Galleons, 14 Sickles, 7 Knuts to be exact) and works out as approximately £5.12/$7.35 per Galleon.

Note that the Galleon/Pound rate cited by Rowling is probably that offered by Gringotts

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Gringotts Wizarding Bank

bank and bears no relation to the precious-metal value of wizarding coins. The “gold coins the size of hubcaps” mentioned in reference to the Quidditch World Cup would be much larger than the British five-pound Quintuple Sovereign today sold for its bullion value of hundreds of pounds sterling (though this hubcap reference may have been an exaggeration). However, it is unclear whether the coins were Galleons, or the currency of some other Wizard community.

Other wizarding currencies mentioned include, in the United States of America Dragot and Sprink, and in France, Bezant‎.

It should be noted that money in itself is one of the five exceptions to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration, meaning it cannot be created from nothing. Aside from the Philosopher’s Stone which can convert other metals into gold there seems to be no other method of obtaining it. Attempting to duplicate money with the Geminio spell is also ineffective, as duplicates created from Geminio are worthless.

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Niffler’s Fancy


One of the most ancient forms of wizarding money, used by primitive wizards is
Niffler’s Fancy. Niffler’s Fancy is a plant whose leaves gleam like copper. The plant is named after the creature, the Niffler, because they have an affinity for shiny objects.

 

Other currencies that aren’t widely circulated include leprechaun gold and various other enchanted coins. Galleons made of Leprechaun gold were common at Quidditch games where Leprechauns are the mascots for the Irish team. These Galleons are occasionally in temporary circulation (they vanish a few hours after appearing), but goblin experts at Gringotts Bank can differentiate them from real ones.

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Dumbledore’s Army Coin

A particularly important enchanted coin was enchanted by Hermione Granger for the use of Dumbledore’s Army. The Dumbledore’s Army coin was a fake Galleon created by Hermione Granger in 1995 to inform members of Dumbledore’s Army when the next meeting would take place. The coins would come in quite handy throughout the Second Wizarding War and after the war were kept as badges of honour.

As it became more suspicious for members to keep meeting each other in groups in the halls to set up the time for Dumbledore’s Army to meet, Hermione fabricated fake Galleons, on which she then placed a Protean Charm. Around the edge of each coin was a series of numerals which, on genuine galleons, represented a serial number belonging to the Goblin that cast the coin. The Protean Charm allowed these numerals to change into the time and date of the next meeting of the D.A. whenever the master coin (owned by Harry Potter) was changed. The coin would also warm up to alert the holder to the change.

Hermione stated that she got the idea from Voldemort pressing the Dark Mark on the arm of his Death Eaters, summoning them. However, Hermione chose to engrave the date on the coins, rather than on the members’ forearms. Harry agreed that this way was preferable.

In 1998, Neville Longbottom used the coins to summon former members of Dumbledore’s Army to Hogwarts to fight the Death Eaters and reclaim the school. The former members alerted many others, including the Order of the Phoenix, and set the scene for the Battle of Hogwarts.

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The Battle of Hogwarts

Through wizarding coinage we can get a peek into the fantastical world of magic created by J.K. Rowling. The fictional currency is just one small detail that brings to life the wizarding world.

Introducing Kids to Coin Collecting

Whether it’s your kids, grand kids, nieces/nephews, cousins, or the neighbors kids; it is the duty of seasoned collectors to teach and encourage the next generation about coins. Here are some fun ways you can introduce kids to the hobby that isn’t too daunting or confusing for a youngster that is just getting started!  

 

71+utDU1NeL._SL1200_Get a State Quarter Book
Start kids on a collection that is accessible to them! The state quarters collection is a great place to start since they are likely to find those quarters in their change. This is an amazing way for kids to feel the sense of accomplishment that comes along with collecting as well as teaches them to always be on the lookout for interesting coins. State quarter books or maps are cheap and can be found just about anywhere; Amazon, Littleton, Barnes & Noble, and even Walmart.

 

gamePlay Games on the U.S. Mint Website
You may not know this, but the U.S. Mint has a website made just for kids: H.I.P. Pocket Change. Play one of their seven games; you can design your own coin, learn about the presidents, and more! The Website also has plenty of other resources such as a coin glossary, videos on how coins are made, and printable coloring sheets. This website provides a fun and engaging way for you to introduce a child to your favorite hobby.

 

Philly-Mint-2017-e1520521720748-1024x575Take a Trip to the U.S. Mint
If you live near Philadelphia or Denver or if you’re going on a road trip, stop by the Mint! At the Denver Mint, children 7 and up can attend and will get to experience a free guided tour. Expect to learn about the history of the mint and the process of minting the coins. The Philadelphia Mint offers a free self-guided tour that takes approximately 45 minutes. Tour highlights include meeting Peter the Mint Eagle, seeing the first coining press, and viewing the coining operations from 40 feet above the factory floor. A visit to the Mint is sure to be an exciting experience for you and a kid. The trip would be sure to spark curiosity for the hobby.

 

68332Download the Lookzee App
Lookzee is an app we have developed that is specifically for coin collectors. The app allows for profile creation and digitally storing of your collection. There is also an active forum of over 1,000 users you can connect with! The app aides collectors in taking professional style images of their coins and can grade wheat cents through computer vision software. And we are working every day to add more coins to the database. If you’re not very technologically savvy this is the perfect opportunity for your kid to teach you a thing or two about mobile applications. Download for Android or iOS!

 

71Mnmf-mzYL._SL1200_Get a Penny Portrait Kit
A Penny Portrait kit is a fun way for kids and grown-ups alike to create a fantastic work of art and maybe learn a thing or two about pennies in the process. Each kit includes a poster of Abe Lincoln made from images of actual pennies. With a little dedication, some glue, and 846 of your own pennies, you can have a truly unique work of art that you will enjoy for years to come. The process of collecting 846 pennies to make the portrait will sure to have the kid asking questions about coins.

 

 

800_1q8t8wwpnk3drm8xsdjcInvite Them to A Coin Club Meeting
Do you attend a local coin club? If so, a youngster in your life would likely love to attend a club meeting with you. Check with other club members to make sure the meeting will be an appropriate one to bring along a child and encourage other members to bring someone too. This will provide a place for kids to meet other kids that have the same interests. If you don’t currently attend a coin club check out local coin clubs here!

 

US0025-Washington-Quarter-1932D-580810923df78cbc28c33c64.jpgSend in Their Report Card to ‘Coins for A’s’
Coins for A’s is a program offered by the American Numismatic Association. If the child earns three or more A’s on their report cards they will receive a free coin and initial 1 year electronic membership to the American Numismatic Association. This is a great way to encourage good grades and spark interest in collecting, because what kid doesn’t love free stuff and getting mail!

 

1280px-Logo_of_YouTube_(2015-2017).svgWatch YouTube
Most kids already spend hours watching YouTube so why not watch it with them? Check out channels such as Quin’s Coins, Couch Collectibles, or our very own founder: Tim Rathjen. YouTube is a fantastic platform to learn from other collectors and get insights from pros. Plus there is hours of free content at your fingertips.

 

Share Your Passion!
Perhaps the best and most important way to introduce kids to the hobby is to share your passion. They will like seeing you excited and will be innately curious. Remember to start slow and small because after years of collecting what might seem obvious to you, likely won’t be to them. Teach them things like how to properly handle coins, what coins to look for in their change, and the basic vocabulary. Pay attention to what interests them and foster that interest, be it a coin set, type, verity, etc. And remember to let them look at your coins, it may make you a little anxious to let someone so young and inexperience handle your coins but it is important to bring them into all parts of the hobby and let them know that you trust them too. Creating a relationship with a child and your time together spent with the coins is what will make them cherish coin collecting for years to come.  

 

These are just a couple ideas to get started! What are some ways you have enjoyed the hobby with the children in your life?

Coins in the Bible

Whether you take the Bible as word from God or as an incredible piece of writing; it’s undeniable that it is a fantastic reference point fir history and gives us an unparalleled look into the past. One thing we can closely exam are the coins in the Bible. A number of coins are mentioned in the Bible, and they have proved very popular among coin collectors. Specific coins mentioned in the Bible include the widow’s mite, the tribute penny and the thirty pieces of silver.

 

Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Widow's_Mite_(Le_denier_de_la_veuve)_-_James_Tissot

The Widow’s Mite by James Tissot

Widow’s Mite

The Lesson of the widow’s mite is presented in Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4, in which Jesus is teaching at the Temple in Jerusalem. The Gospel of Mark specifies that two mites (Greek lepta) are together worth a quadrans, the smallest Roman coin. A lepton was the smallest and least valuable coin in circulation in Judea, worth about six minutes of an average daily wage.

Mark 12:41-44 (NAB) reads:

He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, ‘Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.

The traditional interpretation of this story tends to view it as contrasting the conduct of the scribes with that of the widow, and encouraging generous giving; often compared with 2 Corinthians 9:7, “…for God loves a cheerful giver.”

However, in the passage immediately prior to Jesus taking a seat opposite the Temple treasury, he is portrayed as condemning religious leaders who feign piety, accept honor from people, and steal from widows:

Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.

The same religious leaders who would reduce widows to poverty also encourage them to make pious donations beyond their means. In some peoples opinion, rather than commending the widow’s generosity, Jesus is condemning both the social system that renders her poor, and “…the value system that motivates her action, and he condemns the people who conditioned her to do it.” It is also to be noted that if Jesus’ statement was to be seen as an endorsement of the widow’s action, it bears none of the usual comments, such as “Go, and do likewise.”

Widowsmite

Mite minted by Alexander Jannaeus, King of Judaea, 103 – 76 B.C.

Tribute Penny

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The Tribute Money by Titian 

One of the next most popular coins is the tribute penny. The tribute penny was the coin that was shown to Jesus when he made his famous speech “Render unto Caesar…” The phrase comes from the King James Version of the gospel account: Jesus is asked, “Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” (Mark 12:14) and he replies, “bring me a penny, that I may see it” (Mark 12:15).

The Greek text uses the word dēnarion, and it is usually thought that the coin was a Roman denarius with the head of Tiberius. It is this coin that is sold and collected as the “tribute penny,” and the Gospel story is an important factor in making this coin attractive to collectors. The inscription on the coin reads Caesar Augustus Tiberius, son of the Divine Augustus, claiming that Augustus was a god. The reverse shows a seated female, usually identified as Livia depicted as Pax.

Emperor_Tiberius_Denarius_-_Tribute_Penny

Denarius of the Emperor Tiberius

However, it has been suggested that denarii were not in common circulation in Judaea during Jesus’ lifetime and that the coin may have instead been an Antiochan tetradrachm bearing the head of Tiberius, with Augustus on the reverse. Another suggestion often made is the denarius of Augustus with Gaius and Lucius on the reverse, while coins of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony and Germanicus are all considered possibilities

 

Mattia_Preti_-_Tribute_Money_-_WGA18400

Judas receiving thirty pieces of silver for betraying Jesus, by Mattia Preti, c. 1640

Thirty Pieces of Silver

Lastly, an often cited coins are the thirty pieces of silver, which famously, was the price for which Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus, according to an account in the Gospel of Matthew 26:15. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Judas Iscariot was a disciple of Jesus. Before the Last Supper, Judas went to the chief priests and agreed to hand over Jesus in exchange for 30 silver coins. Jesus was then arrested in Gethsemane, where Judas revealed Jesus’ identity to the soldiers by giving him a kiss.

According to Chapter 27 of Matthew’s gospel, Judas was filled with remorse and returned the money to the chief priests before hanging himself. The chief priests decided that they could not put it into the temple treasury as it was considered blood money, and so with it they bought the Potter’s Field. A different account of the death of Judas is given in Acts of Apostles; it describes Judas as using the money he had been rewarded with – no sum is specified – to buy the Potter’s field, and then falling there, dying of the resulting intestinal injuries.

The word used in Matthew 26:15 for the coins simply means “silver coins,” and scholars disagree on the type of coins that would have been used. Donald Wiseman suggests two possibilities. They could have been tetradrachms of Tyre, usually referred to as Tyrian shekels (14 grams of 94% silver), or staters from Antioch (15 grams of 75% silver), which bore the head of Augustus.

Alternatively, they could have been Ptolemaic tetradrachms (13.5 ± 1 g of 25% silver). There are 31.1035 grams per troy ounce. At spot valuation of $17.06/oz (the closing price on Monday, December 12, 2016), 30 “pieces of silver” would be worth between $185 and $216 in present-day value (USD).

The Tyrian shekel weighed four Athenian drachmas, about 14 grams, more than earlier 11-gram Israeli shekels, but was regarded as the equivalent for religious duties at that time. Because Roman coinage was only 80% silver, the purer (94% or more) Tyrian shekels were required to pay the temple tax in Jerusalem. The money changers referenced in the New Testament Gospels (Matt. 21:12 and parallels) exchanged Tyrian shekels for common Roman currency.

The 5th century BC Athenian tetradrachm (“four drachmae”) coin was perhaps the most widely used coin in the Greek world before the time of Alexander the Great (along with the Corinthian stater). It featured the helmeted profile bust of Athena on the obverse (front) and an owl on the reverse (back). In daily use they were called γλαῦκες glaukes (owls). The reverse is featured on the national side of the modern Greek 1 euro coin. Drachmae were minted on different weight standards at different Greek mints. The standard that came to be most commonly used was the Athenian or Attic one, which weighed a little over 4.3 grams. A drachma was approximately a day’s pay for a skilled laborer. So 30 pieces of silver (30 tetradrachm), at four drachmas each, would roughly be comparable to four months’ (120 days) wages.

 

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An Antiochan tetradrachm

There are several other mentions of coins in the Bible but this is a snapshot of some of the most important and widely discussed instances of coinage in the Bible. It’s incredible to think that some of these exact coins can be found in coin collections and museums across the world today.

 

Restaurants with Cash Pinned to the Walls

Planning a trip or looking for a local restaurant that will also fulfill your love of coins and currency? There is a tradition to stapling dollar bills on the ceiling of bars. Sometimes, with the name and date you were there, and who you were with; other times with stories, wishes, or drawings.

Many say this tradition has roots in the Gold Rush. The Gold Rush brought over 300,000 transplants to California and with the influx of people came the decline of resources and supplies. Many wasted all their money hoping for gold and never were able to make it home, thus staying, and making California their new home. The struggle for jobs, land, food, and other mainstays left people wondering how they could get home and encouraged new transplants to stow money in a safe place, like on the ceiling of a bar. They would write their names on their “Get Home” money and staple it to the ceiling of the local bar. If they did not find gold, they could come back to the bar, still having enough money to get back.

Another theory of how the tradition began is with sailors. Sailors we’re said to have tacked money to the bars before they left for sea. This is so when they returned, no matter what occurred on the trip, they would at the very least have enough money for a drink.

 Regardless of the history of the tradition, it has become a common way for eclectic restaurants and bars to stand out and provide a unique atmosphere for their customers. We have rounded up a list of restaurants across the United States (well, mostly in Florida) that  are famous for using cash as decoration!

McGuire’s Irish Pub | Destin, Florida

destin-moneyMcGuire’s Irish Pub first opened in 1977 as a small neighborhood pub in a shopping center. In 1982 McGuire’s moved to its current location; Pensacola’s original 1927 Old Firehouse. Inside the pub you’ll find a turn-of-the-century, New York Irish Saloon themed 615-seat restaurant.

They are celebrated for their atmosphere boasting more than One Million signed dollar bills hanging from the ceilings and walls of the Pub. In 1996, a second location, McGuire’s Irish Pub of Destin opened on beautiful Destin Harbor with the same great food and live Irish entertainment.

 

Willie T’s | Key West, Florida

CaptureWillie T’s Restaurant & Bar offers some of the best home cooking in Key West Florida. Offering everything from savory steaks to mouth-watering hamburgers. Coupled with large 10-foot screen TV’s for the latest sports game enjoyment and a variety of alcoholic beverages to choose from.

The ‘World Famous’ Willie T’s offers the perfect respite in the middle of all the action of Duval Street.They are known for our constant LIVE MUSIC, daily drink specials, delicious food and friendly service. Visit for a festive hangout for tropical drinks & Florida-inspired American eats in a mostly outdoor setting.

 

Siesta Key Oyster Bar | Sarasota, Florida

siSiesta Key Oyster Bar (or as the locals call it “SKOB”) is a hangout with a laid back, beachy atmosphere that will get you right into the Island Spirit. When you’re at SKOB you feel right at home, like you’re hanging out with good friends on your back patio (although chances are the ceiling of your patio is not covered in dollar bills).

Of course there are burgers and wings – they just happen to be award winning wings and some of the most delicious U.S.D.A. Prime mouthwatering burgers you can get anywhere

From Raw Oysters and Fresh Fish to Crab Legs and Crab Cakes – there is something for everyone on the menu. And with over 21 beers on tap along with Domestic, Imports, and specialty bottled beer – you will not go away thirsty!

 

Cabbage Key | Pineland, Florida

fishLocated in the Old House at the Cabbage Key resort, the open-air restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner 365 days a year. The main room of the restaurant is nestled among live cuban laurels dripping with moss. Previous visitors have taped thousands of one-dollar bills to every surface. You can ask your server for a black marker and tape to add yours to the collection.

The front room is the old porch with a view of the marina and sound. Look around at antique fishing gear, classic Cabbage Key photographs and replicas of tarpon, snook and other game fish.

Known by many as “the bar with all the money on the walls”, the Cabbage Key bar has been serving up drinks to boaters for over 60 years. With active fire places, original hardwood floors and Cypress walls, the bar and the formal dining room make up the other two dining locations.

 

Cantina Captiva | Captiva Island, Florida
33885471_1851288058498067_474686223709896704_nThe final Florida based restaurant, Cantina Captiva is located within the Captiva Island Inn. Enjoy a spicy and unique atmosphere while savoring the fine Mexican and Southwestern cuisine.

A customer from TripAdvisor reviewed the Cantina as ‘Mexican in the Tropics’:

Cantina Captiva is our must have lunch while in Captiva or Sanibel. This last visit, we four ladies had great Margaritas, fajitas, tacos and enchiladas for lunch. Everything was excellent including our server. The prices are reasonable and the outside seating is very nice. Definitely worth trying!

 

The Soup Cellar | Leavenworth, Washington

21719_550901808257157_2067690350_nThe Soup Cellar was established in 1988. The current owners took ownership in 1994 and ever since have been striving to create an experience that offers the highest quality of service, food, and atmosphere

A TripAdvisor reviewer states:

What a fantastic experience! It is located in the cellar and the decor is like a bavarian pub. They offer a fantastic salad bar and a soup bar along with the many different brats and other german foods–great saurkraut. The people are very friendly and the service was great! The dinners have great portions on them–so enjoy! They have a big selection of various beers to try also. Very clean place–even the bathrooms!

 

Bill’s Gyro Souvlaki | Atlantic City, New Jersey

11140265_10208091246744969_3071804008456576227_nThis restaurant is the perfect place to stop for gyro while you stroll along the Atlantic City boardwalk. TripAdvisor user reviews it as such:

This is quite the place. The atmosphere is best described as very Jersey but it’s worth it. We all got the gyro sandwich was fantastic. The spinach pie definitely left something to be desired but I also ate it after eating the whole sandwich. The onion rings were pretty good and the fries were decent, but the gyro sandwich is what made me give them such a good rating. There is seating (a lot of places on the boardwalk only have tiny areas or no seating at all. We had a party of 6 and figured 2 of us would sit at the bar but they immediately pulled another table up to seat us together. The staff was pleasant, competent, and efficient. I would definitely go back!

 

Tortilla Flat Superstition Saloon | Tortilla Flat, Arizona

SONY DSCThis saloon is located in Tortilla Flat, an authentic remnant of an old west town, nestled in the midst of the Tonto National Forest, in the Superstition Mountain Range. Tortilla Flat started out as a stagecoach stop in 1904 and neither fire nor flood has been able to take away this historic stop along the Historic Apache Trail.

A visit to Tortilla Flat isn’t complete without a stop in the Superstition Restaurant & Saloon. The decor alone will send you back in time, from the Saddle Bar Stools, to the walls of dollar bills from around the world. The food is incredible; the website says they serves the Biggest burgers, hottest chili, and coldest drinks everyday.

 

Dollar Bill Bar | Oatman, Arizona

oatIf you’re looking for an ice cold beer on tap while enjoying a simple Americana bar with a twist, look no further than the Dollar Bill Bar. Patrons are encouraged to sign a dollar bill and then hang it on the wall, ceiling, or really anywhere they deem appropriate. They tout to have over $100,000 worth of bills covering their walls.

 

The Hideout Saloon | Mariposa, California

348sThe Hideout Saloon is a saloon/pub in the Gold Rush Historic Downtown District of Mariposa. You can find 150 yr old dry stack rock wall throughout main bar, original bar wood floor repaired always with reclaimed local barn wood, and first growth Doug Fir original wood floors in secondary rooms.

The Saloon is open every day into the wee morning hours for all. With live music Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights with special performances as scheduled Sunday through Tuesday. Karaoke Wednesday nights. Open Mic always available for performance and jamming any time scheduled entertainment is not performing.

Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico

 

September 17, 1859, San Francisco Bulletin newspaper:

“At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens…I, Joshua Norton…declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these United States to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring.”

Signed, “NORTON I, Emperor of the United States.”

 

Joshua Abraham Norton was a British-born businessman before he was “Norton I, Emperor of the United States”. Norton spent a large part of his childhood in South Africa before migrating to San Francisco during the 1849 Gold Rush. While in San Francisco he invested into the real estate business, and by the early 1850s, he’d turned his original $40,000 stake into a quarter million dollar fortune. But common to the Gold Rush-era, Norton’s greed eventually got the better of him. During a rice shortage in 1853, he planned to conquer the San Francisco market, only to land in financial ruin when fresh shipments poured into the harbor and caused the price to plummet. Norton declared bankruptcy and fell off the map for several years. He resurfaced in 1859 with the San Francisco Bulletin royal decree. He genuinely believed that he was the unrecognized sovereign of the United States. There were no reports of Norton ever exhibiting any symptoms of mental instability or delusion during his business career, but it seemed that in his time away he had lost his mind

Following the decree Norton would become a staple of the San Francisco community. Donning a Navy coat, an ostrich feather-plumed hat and occasionally carrying a military saber, he would stroll the streets and enjoy the celebrity status that came with anyone willing to indulge his royal fantasy. Often being greeted with a bow, the city directory listed his occupation as “Emperor”. Despite his lack of a palace and riches he ate at many restaurants free of charge, had free tickets to theater performances, and even issued his own currency.

 

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Emperor Norton in full military regalia, c. 1875

Local newspapers and tourist locations quickly picked up on the popularity of the Emperor. Souvenirs such as photographs of him in imperial dress and Emperor Norton dolls found their way into shops across the city. Newspapers printed his royal decrees in hopes of increased readership despite their absurdity.  On October 1859, he declared in local newspaper, “fraud and corruption prevent a fair and proper expression of the public voice…in consequence of which, we do hereby abolish Congress.” When congress continued to meet and run as normal Emperor Norton I responded with a decree that demanded General Winfield Scott to march on Washington. In the upcoming year with the Civil War approaching, Norton declared that he had dissolved the Union and replaced it with a monarchy; with him of course as the monarch. With the help of the newspapers these decrees continued to be put in front of the public. When the French invaded Mexico he even added ‘Protector of Mexico’ to his title.

 

As his popularity grew, Norton I became a cherished icon for the city of San Francisco. Theater owners saved him a seat at the opening night of every play; local train and ferry companies let him ride free of charge; and some restaurateurs allowed him to skip out on his tab in exchange for the right to post an imperial seal of approval that read: “By Appointment to His Imperial Majesty, Norton I.” The Emperor remained poor in spite of this; but many admiring subjects ‘paid’ taxes into the ‘imperial treasury’ to support him. In 1871, a local printing firm ran off a special currency emblazoned with a picture of Norton I and his imperial seal. The Emperor passed the notes as his official government bonds until the day he died, and many recipients displayed them as treasured mementos. Army officers gifted him fresh uniform when his old one wore out, and local lawmakers helped furnish the ‘royal wardrobe’ from public funds. When a police officer once dared to arrest the Emperor on charges of vagrancy, the city’s newspapers responded with outrage. The Emperor was quickly released, and from then on, the city’s lawmen saluted whenever they encountered him on the street.

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All the while, newspapers continued to print Norton;s decrees in the papers. Some were bizarre such as in 1872, he declared that anyone who referred to his adopted city by “the abominable word ‘Frisco’” was subject to a $25 fine. Others were more logical, in the early 1870s he announced that the city should appropriate funds for construction of a bridge between San Francisco and Oakland. Ignored at the time, Norton’s decree eventually came to fruition in 1936 with the opening of the Bay Bridge.

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A  depiction of Norton dressed as the Pope at the funeral of the dog Lazarus

Emperor Norton’s character inspired fascination from tourists and great artists alike. Mark Twain, who had worked as a journalist in San Francisco during his reign, went on to use the Emperor as the model for the “King,” a royal impostor who appears as a character in his 1885 novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Various plays and operas were written about Norton during his lifetime. Despite this, his day to day wasn’t as grandiose; he lived in a tiny rented room and spent his days playing chess, attending religious services, reading in libraries or going on long walks, supposedly with Bummer and Lazarus, his two dogs.

It was during one of these royal walks on January 8, 1880, that Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, dropped dead from a stroke. His passing was written about in dozens of newspapers including the New York Times. San Francisco gave Norton a send-off fit for an Emperor. “LE ROI EST MORT” (“THE KING IS DEAD”), read the headline in the Chronicle. “He is dead,” lamented another paper, “and no citizen of San Francisco could have been taken away who would be more generally missed.” At Norton’s funeral a few days later, around 10,000 loyal ‘subjects’ turned up to pay their respects.

 

Encased Pennies

An encased penny is a penny, that has been forcibly inserted into a prepared ring of metal. The metal encasement will typically have been stamped with an advertising or souvenir message. Encased pennies have been in existence for about a century but they are not quite as old as elongated coins, which arose in the 1890s. The invention of aluminum around the turn of the century made the encased pennies an easy and inexpensive souvenir or advertisement. 

Aluminum is a strong and easily formed metal; to create encased pennies, a coining press bore obverse and reverse dies, as well as a collar. The dies formed the designs on the encasement, while the collar restrained the metal of the encasement during striking. The dies and collars served the same functions as the same parts on a standard coining presses.

For the simplest form (a round ring), a blank ring of aluminum with a penny in the central hole was dropped onto the anvil die. The press operator would align the coin manually, striving to keep the coin from being out of rotation with the designs of the ring. With both elements in place, the press would be cycled.

As they struck the encasement and penny, the dies formed the design elements on the encasement. At the same time, the metal of the encasement flowed outward until it came up against the collar. The metal surrounding the hole flowed inward, against the coin, locking the two pieces together.

Encased coins have often been nicknamed “lucky pennies,” since many of the pennies were inserted into encasements that beared messages and Western symbols of luck. The legend “I bring good luck” was common, as were such traditional good luck symbols as the horseshoe and four-leaf clover.

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World War II temporarily halted the production of encased coins,. Most private minters supported conservation of metal for the war effort. Production and marketing of encased coins resumed shortly after the end of the war.

Encased coins were typically sold by door-to-door salesmen. Traveling salesmen sold encased coins advertised in catalogs of “various advertising novelties.” Business owners ordered the encased coins from the traveling salesmen, who then “ordered the custom-made pieces directly from the manufacturer.” Businesses could choose from an assortment of stock dies carried by the manufacturers or order custom pieces.

WestCoastMany of the encased coins sold to merchants were touted as the souvenir no one would throw away. Many encased coins would say “Keep me and never go broke” which often went along with the lucky penny theme.

Custom encased coins cost more than those produced using stock dies. Thus, it is not unusual to find pieces that bear a custom message on one side of the encasement and a stock message on the other; such pieces would be cheaper than those with custom messages on both sides.

Encased coins fell out of favor as advertising pieces in the 1960s, as other inexpensive advertising novelties arose, including the Bic pen. Still, some private minters produce encased coins for businesses and social organizations even in the 21st century.

Throughout the years different shapes of encased pennies became popular as ways to set their advertisement apart from others. The round 32-millimeter encasement was the most common; with horseshoe-shaped pieces being the next most popular. There were pieces of other shapes such as a chamber pot, a bell, an arrowhead, or a teddy bear.

A Brief History of Halloween

Halloween is an all-American holiday celebrated yearly on October 31st. Kids look forward to dressing up and receiving free candy and many adults use it as an excuse to party and bake festive treats. Halloween traditions date back from a number of practices but there are a few key traditional celebrations that formed the Halloween we celebrate today.

In ancient times, Celts used September 1st to mark their new year; it was the end of summer and harvest, meaning it was the start of the long cold winter. These harsh winters and short days were often associated with death because it wasn’t uncommon for many to not make it through the difficult winter. So on this day of transition from summer to winter, it was believed that the boundary between the living world and dead world were most closely aligned. The night before the new year was to begin; October 31st the Celts celebrated the festival of Samhain

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Depiction of ancient druids

During the days surrounding Samhain, spirits were blamed for a lot of the people’s hardships, such as damaging crops or stealing/misplacing precious goods. Celts would put their trust into Druids and Celtic priests to be close to these spirits and make predictions about the future. Druids would build sacred bonfires and people would gather in hopes of having their futures determined. These bonfires were huge celebrations that while donning costumes, Celts would burn crops and animals as sacrifices to Celtic deities.

The Roman Empire conquered Celtic territory around 43 A.D. and throughout their hundreds of years of ruling the two cultures would intermingle to create a tradition very similar to Samhain. Roman celebration of Feralia and Pomona would translate to a combined celebration of the dead, harvest, and other-worldly beings in late October.

In 1000 A.D. the Christian church proclaimed November 2nd as ‘All Souls’ Day’ as a day to honor the deceased. This was an attempt to replace the Celtic festival with a more puritanical practice.

All Souls Day generally got accepted because many of its festivities were similar enough to Samhain. This included bonfires, parades, and dressing up; although costumes such as saints and angels were more highly encouraged. Over the years the celebration would start to be referred to as All-Hallowmas or All-Hallows with the night before being All-Hallows eve. Which as we know, eventually got shortened to Halloween.

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Modern day Christians celebrating All Souls’ Day

With Christian endorsement of the holiday it slowly trickled over to different parts of England and Europe but struggled at first to make its way to colonial New England. Early settlers had radical Protestant beliefs and didn’t traditionally believe it was a celebration that represented their nation. As time went on, Halloween was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies.

Know as the melting pot, many cultures began to come together to create the early American version of Halloween. American Indians and European immigrants celebrated in various ways and it became popular to have fall community events. Including productions of plays, harvest festivals, storytelling, and playing games that told of the future. Annual fall festivities had become common by the middle of the nineteenth century but it was uncommon for these celebrations to be thought of as Halloween.

By the second half of the nineteenth century millions of Irish were coming to America to flee the Potato Famine. Their presence in America is widely attributed to causing Halloween to becoming a nationally celebrated holiday.

Waterdown_Public_School,_Ontario,_1928_halloween_costume

Girl in a Halloween costume in 1928

In the 1920’s and 30’s Halloween was still often considered to be a community-centered holiday. Regardless of efforts to keep up the festivities, vandalism and trickery began to make the celebrations not feel welcoming to all members of the community. In an effect to change this many town leaders started to cater the events more towards children and with this shift many events began to occur mainly in schools or at ones home.

Around the 1950’s trick or treating was revived as a way of attempting to create an event that the entire community could still share. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday after Christmas.


This is the final post of our 13 days of Halloween series. Checkout our other spooky posts:

  1. Washington Ghost Stories
  2. Out of Place Artifacts
  3. Henry Rathbone
  4. Charon and the Journey to Hades
  5. Post-Mortem Photography
  6. All Hallows Eve Divination Games
  7. Saved By The Bell and other Idioms
  8. Halloween Coins
  9. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  10. Coins Connecting You to the Spirit World
  11. Ancient Egyptian Alien Coins
  12. Superstitions Around the World
  13. A Brief History of Halloween

Superstitions Around the World

We have rounded up 13 superstitions as we continue on our 13 days of Halloween!

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Don’t Stick Chopsticks Straight Up
In Japan, never rest them by sticking them straight up in your food. It looks like the number 4 spelled out, and in Japanese culture 4 is a very unlucky number – it means death. If you go to Japan you’ll never find anything grouped or sold in 4s.

Don’t Go Home After A Funeral
In the Philippines, there’s this superstition that every time you go to a wake or a funeral you’re not supposed to go straight home. You’re supposed to do this thing called pagpag, which is basically after the wake or the funeral, you go anywhere else that isn’t your home. People usually like go to the mall, they don’t do anything, they just go in and walk out and then they go back home. Because that way you’re kinda like removing all of the bad energy and stopping the spirits from following you home. Because they believe if you go straight home you’re going to bring all that bad energy with you.

Toasting With Water
The belief that you should never make a toast with water in your glass harks back to the time of the Ancient Greeks. According to Greek mythology, the dead would always drink from the River Lethe in the depths of the Underworld, in order to forget their past, corporeal lives. As a result of this story, the Greeks would always toast to the dead with glasses filled with water to symbolize their voyage, via the river, to the Underworld.
As a consequence of this morbid story, it is considered that proposing a toast to somebody with water, is akin to wishing bad luck, and maybe even death, on him or her. Many people also believe that by toasting with water you are also wishing death upon yourself, as this liquid reflects your future watery grave.

Sitting at the Corner of a Table
According to Hungarian and Russian superstitions, and surely others as well, sitting at the corner of the table is bad luck. The unlucky diner will allegedly never get married. Some say the bad luck only hangs around for seven years, but as with most superstitions, why chance it?

match-549106_1920Never Use the Same Match on Three Cigarettes
In France it is said that lighting three cigarettes with the same match will bring bad luck. This superstition – which is popular elsewhere in the west – is thought to stem from the trenches of World War One when snipers were said to have a better hit rate when smokers took so long holding one match up. The first cigarette alerts the sniper, the second allows him time to take aim, leaving the third smoker dead on their feet. You’ve been warned.

Counting Pierogies
The Polish advice to ever to count the pierogi while they’re still boiling! Should one irresponsibly count the dumplings while they’re still in the pot, without a doubt half of them will end up stuck to the bottom of the pot- or torn letting all their yummy insides out.

Avoid the Broom!
In Italy, If you’re single and hoping to lock down your Principe Azzurro (Prince Charming) then make sure you avoid people when they’re sweeping the floor. If the broom so much as touches your feet then you’ll never get hitched.

Knocking on the Stammtisch
When greeting your German drinking buddies, instead of waving, you should knock on the table. According to legend, this is because the Stammtisch, the regulars’ table in the tavern, was traditionally made of oak. Since the devil is unable to touch oak, considered a holy tree, knocking on it proved you weren’t the devil.

alp-studio-426760-unsplashClocks Aren’t a Good Gift
You should never give someone a clock as a present – in Chinese, “clock” rhymes with the word for “termination” or “sending someone to their end”, meaning inauspicious vibes all around. Watches are not immune from this taboo, either. In 2015, UK transport minister Baroness Susan Kramer gave the Mayor of Taipei, Ko Wen-je, a watch as a gift. Ko was later quoted as saying that he would either re-gift the watch, or sell it to a scrap metal dealer. To be fair, it might be Ko’s diplomatic skills rather than the Baroness’s etiquette that needed fine-tuning – but to avoid any awkward moments, it’s best just to gift anything other than a timepiece. Still dead set on giving a friend a clock or watch? There is a way to combat this. Simply ask them to give you a dollar – so it’s technically not a gift.

Woman Can’t Eat Goat Meat
In Rwanda, local folklore advises women against eating goat meat because it allegedly causes facial hair growth, as well as stubbornness. However, some people have also offered up the theory that men created this superstition so they could have more meat to themselves.

Be Careful with Scissors
In Egypt, there’s a superstition that scissors should always be bought and never be given as a present, because they will ‘cut’ between the giver and recipient. Another thing to be aware of is if a pair of scissors are dropped, the fates will gather around the person who dropped them if they pick the scissors up themselves. The person instead should ask someone else to pick up the scissors for them. Worse, if when the scissors fall, both points stick into the floor and the scissors remain upright, then a death is said to be imminent. However a more gentle fate awaits if only one point sticks into the floor — a wedding.

Ventilador_Electrico_PisoDon’t Sleep with a Fan On
“Fan death” is a widespread fear among people in South Korea, As a result, many South Koreans will never sleep in a closed room with a fan on. It is commonly believed that prolonged exposure to fans causes hypothermia, loss of water in the body, and even asphyxiation.

A Lucky Penny
And finally, for one good luck superstition, in the USA; finding a penny on the ground, especially if it is heads facing up, is considered a sign of good luck. People often use the saying “find a penny, pick it up, and all day long you’ll have good luck.” It’s apparently


This post is apart of our 13 days of Halloween series. Checkout our other spooky posts:

  1. Washington Ghost Stories
  2. Out of Place Artifacts
  3. Henry Rathbone
  4. Charon and the Journey to Hades
  5. Post-Mortem Photography
  6. All Hallows Eve Divination Games
  7. Saved By The Bell and other Idioms
  8. Halloween Coins
  9. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  10. Coins Connecting You to the Spirit World
  11. Ancient Egyptian Alien Coins
  12. Superstitions Around the World
  13. A Brief History of Halloween

Ancient Egyptian Alien Coins

As our thirteen days of Halloween continues we explore the theory that a set of ancient Egyptian coins could be proof that an alien race visited Earth thousands of years ago. A group of people who worked on the renovation of a house in southern Egypt found a number of very rare coins in 2016. One coin seems to depict a spaceship hovering above the ground and another seems to show the head of an extraterrestrial being, with huge hollow eyes, a bald head and thin cheeks.

nintchdbpict000274684660.jpgWhile the original renovation site had no further information or pictures, many more photos of the coins include a number of them carved with OPPORTUNUS ADEST Latin for “it’s here in due time” around the edge and the image of various objects resembling spacecrafts in the middle. A number is on the lower edge that looks like ‘I656’ which is a mash-up of Roman and Arabic numerals.

Many people’s first impressions were that these were real coins or medallions extensively tooled in order to turn the portrait of a ruler or deity into the likeness of an alien – like an elaborate hobo nickel. A hobo nickel is an American practice dating back to the mid-1700s of altering the images on what were then softer metal coins. But why would anyone create the coin, maybe as a hoax? Maybe as a deliberate forgery to deceive gullible collectors? Could it have been the creation of UFO enthusiasts, attempting to fabricate evidence for “Ancient Astronaut” theories?

nintchdbpict000274684650Many theorists believe the coins to be real though and argue they are just one piece of the puzzle in a series of evidence of extraterrestrial life in ancient Egypt. Many have argued for decades that ancestors in Egypt were physically unable to build the incredible Pyramids of Giza. They suggest that advanced lifeforms from space passed on their knowledge or created the monuments before civilizations emerged. The theorists then say because two diagonal lines extend from the pyramids on either side of the Nile River delta, the early Egyptians could not have known this when building them:

“How could the Egyptians possibly have built their pyramid facing the exact magnetic North Pole without even having a compass? Those aliens, abundant in their knowledge and drowning in technology, came along and using their compasses, they landed on earth and found the actual magnetic north and south poles. Then they built the pyramids.”

Another piece of proof from theorist comes from the Egyptians practice of artificially

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A physiologically manipulated Paracas skull

lengthening the skulls of their children. Some ancient astronaut proponents propose that this was done to emulate extraterrestrial visitors, whom they saw as gods. Among the ancient rulers depicted with elongated skulls are pharaoh Akhenaten and Nefertiti. It has been pointed out that the Grey aliens, as described by many alien abductees, have similarly shaped heads.

Among other ‘proofs’ of ancient alien life a final often cited piece of evidence is helicopter hieroglyphs. These Egyptian hieroglyph carvings were found in the Temple of Seti I at Abydos. The so-called “Helicopter hieroglyphs” are argued to depict flying aircrafts such as ones we would imagine aliens would use.

Hieroglif_z_Abydos

So what are your thoughts? Do these coins just further proves extraterrestrial life in ancient Egypt? Or are they a hoax? Or a forgery? We will leave that conclusion up to you! But you can’t deny the coins depict a creepy imagery of the alien rulers that may or may not have once ruled Egypt as gods.

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This post is apart of our 13 days of Halloween series. Checkout our other spooky posts:

  1. Washington Ghost Stories
  2. Out of Place Artifacts
  3. Henry Rathbone
  4. Charon and the Journey to Hades
  5. Post-Mortem Photography
  6. All Hallows Eve Divination Games
  7. Saved By The Bell and other Idioms
  8. Halloween Coins
  9. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  10. Coins Connecting You to the Spirit World
  11. Ancient Egyptian Alien Coins
  12. Superstitions Around the World
  13. A Brief History of Halloween

Coins Connecting You to the Spirit World

Save your coins! This is five creepy ways, your coins could connect you to the spirit realm.

Clinton_Road_signTake Your Coins to the Ghost Boy Bridge

The Ghost Boy Bridge is located on Clinton Road, the ‘most haunted road in America’. It can be a bit tough to find at first, because along the road’s 10 miles there are several bridges — this one is just the one with the most litter, graffiti, and coins sitting on rocks beneath it.

Legend has it that if you throw a coin over the bridge it will be thrown back at you by the ghost of a boy who drowned in the brook. In other versions, he recovers the coins you leave between lane lines at midnight, or, on some days, he might even push you in.

 

Polybius_Arcade_1Spend Your Coins on Polybius

Polybius is an arcade game that is the subject of an urban legend that supposedly first emerged in early 2000. The mythical game allegedly was part of a government-run psychology experiment based in Portland, Oregon. Gameplay supposedly produced intense psychoactive and addictive effects in the player. These few publicly staged arcade machines were said to have been visited periodically by men in black for the purpose of data-mining the machines and analyzing these effects.

Eventually, all of these Polybius arcade machines allegedly disappeared from the arcade market. But it is rumored you can sometimes still find Polybius. There have been accounts of people playing the machines only to return at a later date and for them to not be there any longer.

 

s-l1600 (15)Use Your Silver Coins to Play Spirit of the Coin

Spirit of the coin is a game similar to the Ouija board, the spirit of the coin uses a talking board to contact spirits and communicate with them. You just need a coin, a piece of paper, and a pen, then you’re ready to turn out the lights and talk to the dead.

On a blank sheet of paper write the alphabet around the edges and write numbers 0-9 across the bottom of the paper. Add the words start, end, yes, and no to the middle of the sheet. Then, in a dark room, light a candle and set a coin on the start. It has been reported that typically silver coins work the best and using objects you have an emotional attachment always enhance the possibility of connecting to the spirit world.

Once set up, just like with a Ouija board, have everyone present place a finger on the coin. Ask the spirit questions and hope for the best!

 

s-l1600 (14)Place Your Pennies Over Doorways When Moving

This is called the penny charm, and before you move any of your belongings into a new home, it is polite for you to greet the spirits who dwell there. You introduce yourself, explain who you are, how you intend to share the space, how you wish to interact with them, ask for their blessing, and invite them to provide security for you.

If the spirits accept you as a new member of the family and agree to let you reside in their house, they will leave a coin (or coins) on the floor. The coin, usually a penny, will appear close to a door or window (sometimes, it may appear on the actual window sill).

You should express your thanks to the spirits and place the penny on the top of the closest door or window-frame.

The penny acts as a symbolic charm of protection; the coin itself has no power. It represents the signed contract that the spirits have agreed to provide protection, to the best of their abilities, in the dimensions which they can affect.

 

smoke-1031060_1920Use Your Coins to Play Sara Sarita

This game allows you to communicate with Sara Sarita which legend says is the daughter of Lucifer while in another legend is cited as two sisters who died gruesomely. To play, two people will sit facing each other and ask Sara Sarita if they may enter the game then toss a coin over their shoulder. If both coins are heads up proceed to the game, if both are tails up it is highly encourage to not partake in the game. If one is heads and the other tails than politely ask again.

Once in the game you can ask Sara Sarita only yes or no questions. One at a time ask and then have both parties toss their coin. If both are heads up than the answer is yes, both tails up is no, and one heads and one tails than the answer is maybe. Continue as long as you like but make sure and ask permission to leave the game in the same fashion in which you ended it. If you do not get permission to leave make sure to continue asking until you get a yes. It is said that terrible luck will come upon anyone who leaves the game without permission.

Make sure and keep the coins safe during and after the game since Sara Sarita would not be happy if you spent them.


This post is apart of our 13 days of Halloween series. Checkout our other spooky posts:

  1. Washington Ghost Stories
  2. Out of Place Artifacts
  3. Henry Rathbone
  4. Charon and the Journey to Hades
  5. Post-Mortem Photography
  6. All Hallows Eve Divination Games
  7. Saved By The Bell and other Idioms
  8. Halloween Coins
  9. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  10. Coins Connecting You to the Spirit World
  11. Ancient Egyptian Alien Coins
  12. Superstitions Around the World
  13. A Brief History of Halloween



Kidnapped

Kidnapped is a historical fiction adventure novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, written as a boys’ novel and first published in the magazine Young Folks from May to July 1886. The novel has attracted the praise and admiration of writers since it was published in 1893. Kidnapped is set around real 18th-century Scottish events, notably the “Appin murder“, which occurred in the aftermath of the Jacobite rising of 1745. Many of the characters are real people.

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Cover by William Brassey Hole

The central character and narrator of Kidnapped is 17-year-old David Balfour. His parents have recently died, and he is out to make his way in the world. He sets out to visit his uncle, Ebenezer Balfour. David arrives at the ominous House of Shaws and is confronted by his paranoid Uncle Ebenezer, who is armed with a firearm.

His uncle is also miserly, living on porridge and small ale, and the House of Shaws itself is partially unfinished and somewhat ruinous. David is allowed to stay and soon discovers evidence that his father may have been older than his uncle, thus making David the rightful heir to the estate. Ebenezer asks David to get a chest from the top of a tower in the house but refuses to provide a lamp or candle. David is forced to scale the stairs in the dark and realises that not only is the tower unfinished in some places, but the steps simply end abruptly and fall into an abyss. David concludes that his uncle intended for him to have an “accident”.

David confronts his uncle, who promises to tell David the whole story of his father the next morning. A ship’s cabin boy, Ransome, arrives the next day and tells Ebenezer that Captain Hoseason of the brig Covenant needs to meet him to discuss business. Ebenezer takes David to a pier, where Hoseason awaits, and David makes the mistake of leaving his uncle alone with the captain while he visits the shore with Ransome. Hoseason later offers to take them on board the brig briefly, and David complies, only to see his uncle returning to shore alone in a skiff. David is then immediately struck and passes out.

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Depiction of Alan Breck Stewart and David Balfour

David awakens, bound hand and foot, in the hold of the ship. This catapults David into an adventure full of greed, sickness, and murder. Accompanied by companions such as Alan Breck Stewart, the supposed murderer of the “Red Fox” and Alison Hastie a lovely innkeeper’s daughter.

 

Many of these events and characters actually took place. On 14 May 1752, Colin Roy Campbell of Glenure, was shot in the back by a marksman in the wood of Lettermore near Duror. The search for the killer targeted the local clan, the Jacobite Stewarts of Appin, who had recently suffered evictions on Campbell’s orders.

The Jacobite rising of 1745, also known as the Forty-five Rebellion or simply the “45” , was a dark attempt by Charles Edward Stuart to regain the British throne for his father, James Francis Edward Stuart, and the House of Stuart. It took place during the War of the Austrian Succession, when the bulk of the British Army was in Europe.

The chief suspect of the murder was none other than Allan Stewart who fled (which after fleeing is when he in the novel, meets up with David). But James Stewart, one of the last leaders of Stewarts, was arrested for the crime and tried for the murder. Although it was clear at the trial that James was not directly involved in the assassination (he had a solid alibi), he was found guilty “in airts and pairts” (as an accessory; an aider and abetter) by a jury consisting of people from the locality where the crime occurred.

If you’d like to read the full harrowing and at times heartwarming tale you can purchase it here.


This post is apart of our 13 days of Halloween series. Checkout our other spooky posts:

  1. Washington Ghost Stories
  2. Out of Place Artifacts
  3. Henry Rathbone
  4. Charon and the Journey to Hades
  5. Post-Mortem Photography
  6. All Hallows Eve Divination Games
  7. Saved By The Bell and other Idioms
  8. Halloween Coins
  9. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  10. Coins Connecting You to the Spirit World
  11. Ancient Egyptian Alien Coins
  12. Superstitions Around the World
  13. A Brief History of Halloween

Coins: Haunted Canada, The Day of the Dead, Zombies

What’s a better way to get into the Halloween spirit than to add some ‘frightening’ coins to your collection? Here is just a sample of some coin series’ that have come out throughout the years that might just fulfill that love of all things spooky in your soul.

Haunted Canada Coin Trilogy

The Royal Canadian Mint released the Haunted Canada Coin Series, a coin series that aims to bring to life some of Canada’s legendary ghost stories. Coin collectors, who are interested in ghost stories and tragic love stories, should find this coin series intriguing.

hc2The Ghost Bride Coin
A 2014 25-Cent Cupronickel Coin, the Haunted Canada: Ghost Bride, features a portrait of a bride with her eyes closed. Until you tilt the coin and her eyes open and the once black background is filled with lit candles. Below the bride there is also an image of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, the 6th most haunted hotel in the world according to some sources.

The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel was built in 1888, located in the picturesque town of Banff, Alberta, the heart of Banff National Park. The luxury mountain getaway is legendary for its hospitality and attracts travelers, nature lovers and members of high society year-round. Legend has it that a ghost bride has been haunting the place since a fatal accident in the 1930s. The ghost bride stumbled and fell to her death down a curving stone staircase in the hotel: this happened shortly before the start of the wedding banquet. Stories have circulated for years now “about an apparition in a white wedding dress that moves quietly up and down the aforementioned staircase in the hotel.” There are some that even claim to have seen the bride dancing alone, the very same bride that was denied a first dance with her husband.

hc1Brakeman Coin
The second coin in the series debuted in 2015 and features Canada’s headless brakeman. In one image, the dark train tunnel is suddenly illuminated by the bright glow of a lantern as an otherworldly figure emerges before the viewer, dressed in a railway uniform from 1928. Chillingly, the brakeman appears without a head, with two small, glowing orbs that create the illusion of eyes peering out towards the viewer. When the coin is tilted to the other side, the light suddenly goes out, leaving the viewer alone in the darkness with this shadowy presence, as the ill-fated brakeman continues his eternal walk along the train tracks.

Outside the Waterfront Station, situated at the western end of Gastown, Vancouver, the ghost of a rail worker is sometimes seen on rainy nights. In 1928, the unfortunate brakeman, Hub Clark, was killed while he was making repairs in the rail yard. He slipped on the wet tracks and was knocked unconscious. Horrifically, a passenger train came along and ran him over, decapitating him. Since then, some have reported seeing the headless brakeman roaming the tracks, his lantern glowing in his hand. Others say they’ve seen him in different parts of Gastown. Does he think he’s still on the job or, even worse, is the poor man looking for his lost head?

hcBell Island Coin
The final 2016 coin in the series tells the myth of Bell Island. The coin features the glow of a hand-held lantern providing the only light for one anxious young man, who is making his way through the marshes near Dobbin’s Gardens. The first image finds the young man nervously looking over his shoulder, as behind him, an ethereal female figure dressed in white appears to hover over him. Tilting the coin to the other side reveals a frightening transformation: the ghost’s youthful appearance has suddenly aged while the facial features and hands are twisted in a terrifying manner!

Dobbin’s Garden on Bell Island is home, supposedly, to the “Bell Island hag.” This legend dates back to the Second World War, when German U-boats attacked the island. The story goes that a group of German sailors had secretly landed on the island to resupply their U-boat with the help of local sympathizers.

An unfortunate woman came upon the scene and was dragged into the marsh and killed. Locals, fearing a fairy trick, ignored her cries for help, and her restless spirit is said to still plague the site. Witnesses have described what initially looks like a woman in white walking up from the marsh after sunset.

As the thing gets closer, the colour starts to go gray, and then the thing falls to its knees and starts to crawl on all fours like a dog,” Crane says.

The creature’s “wormed-out face” and foul, sulfuric smell then knock out the unfortunate spectator.

 

Day of the Dead Skull Coins

Skull coins struck by Lichtenstein’s Coin Invest Trust for the Republic of Palau have proved highly popular. The Día de Muertos – Day of the Dead – is a Mexican holiday that is becoming increasingly popular throughout the world. Celebrated at the end of October the iconic skull or calavera makeup based on the famous La Catrina skeleton adorns many faces and is nowadays prominently featured in pop culture and art.

The Mexican Day of the Dead celebration is similar to other societies’ observances of a time to honor the dead. The Spanish tradition, for instance, includes festivals and parades, as well as gatherings of families at cemeteries to pray for their deceased loved ones at the end of the day. People go to cemeteries to be with the souls of the departed and build private altars containing the favorite foods and beverages, as well as photos and memorabilia, of the departed. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed.

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Zombucks

Zombucks is an apocalyptic inspired series by the Provident Mint. The undead collection has 10 historical figures and coin designs that fall victim to the zombie apocalypse. The coins are produced in silver and copper bullion and proof versions. The coins include: the saint, dying eagle, slayed dollar, starving liberty, feast dollar, murk diem, the barber, american zombuff, morgue anne, and walker.

The Texas-based company tapped into the horror genre vein, replacing the dollar sign with a Z and employing futuristic dates on the rounds, suggesting a Zombie apocalypse in the not-too-distant future (2017 to 2019 dates appear on the rounds). The reverse of each round features a zombie-splattered biohazard symbol, warning the world of a dreadful new era.

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This post is apart of our 13 days of Halloween series. Checkout our other spooky posts:

  1. Washington Ghost Stories
  2. Out of Place Artifacts
  3. Henry Rathbone
  4. Charon and the Journey to Hades
  5. Post-Mortem Photography
  6. All Hallows Eve Divination Games
  7. Saved By The Bell and other Idioms
  8. Halloween Coins
  9. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  10. Coins Connecting You to the Spirit World
  11. Ancient Egyptian Alien Coins
  12. Superstitions Around the World
  13. A Brief History of Halloween

Saved by the Bell

There are certain sayings that have become common use in everyday life that we just don’t realize the origins of. Some of them are way darker than the light or even happy connotation we may have with them.

 

SavedbytheBell3

The cast of Saved by the Bell

Saved by the Bell is an American television sitcom that aired on NBC from 1989 to 1993. The show follows a group of high school friends and their principal; primarily focusing on lighthearted comedic situations. ‘Saved by the bell’ is also a common used term for something that you say when a difficult situation ends suddenly before you have to do or say something that you do not want to. But the origin of the saying is a lot different than the friendly sitcom may suggest.

 

Before modern medicine and technology it was often not possible to 100% conclude someone’s death. Often times when digging up graves for relocation, the coffins were opened. Some coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside of the lid; it was then realized that people had been being buried alive. While we can’t say statistically how common this actually was, it became a widespread scare and myth. People genuinely feared the idea of being buried alive happening to them.

So an idea was introduced to prevent people from being buried alive; drill a hole in the lid of the coffin, tie a string on the wrist of the deceased and lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell on the limb of a tree or pole placed nearby. Hence, came about the term ‘saved by the bell’. If you were lucky enough to be buried in a coffin witch such contraption you could ring the bell and it would literally save your life.

safety-coffin

A related term, the ‘Graveyard Shift’, or ‘Graveyard Watch’, is commonly used to refer to a shift of work that is during the early morning, typically midnight until 8am. Many people commiserate on their bad luck on being stuck with such a difficult shift. And while the shift itself isn’t typically considered scary (generally just unappealing) the term comes from a darker time.

Graveyards traditionally have a shady reputation in both actual practice and literature. The origins of graveyard shift involve a night watchman at a graveyard listening to make sure that individuals were not buried alive. With the aforementioned ‘saved by the bell’, once the bell was rung, someone had to be the one to dig up the undead.

photo-1485135711227-eee0b82501d2Around this time many also believed in myths of vampires, zombies, ghosts, and witches; and what better place for those monsters to hang out than a graveyard late at night. Someone on the graveyard shift also was thought to endure the night of keeping watch over the graveyard and keeping people’s dead loved ones safe from the unknown horrors that would lurk around a graveyard.

Lastly, we have the term ‘dead ringer’; now used to define  a person that looks very similar to someone else; a lookalike. But in colonial days, a ‘dead ringer’ was just that, the person who was saved by the bell. Someone that was thought to be alive but rang the bell, and saved themselves from a suffocating death.

Next time you’re saved by the bell, not having to spill a secret because the conversation ended abruptly, or if you’re unhappily working the graveyard shift, or run across someone that you swear is a dead ringer for Elvis Presley, remember the disturbing stories behind the reasons we use those idioms.


This post is apart of our 13 days of Halloween series. Checkout our other spooky posts:

  1. Washington Ghost Stories
  2. Out of Place Artifacts
  3. Henry Rathbone
  4. Charon and the Journey to Hades
  5. Post-Mortem Photography
  6. All Hallows Eve Divination Games
  7. Saved By The Bell and other Idioms
  8. Halloween Coins
  9. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  10. Coins Connecting You to the Spirit World
  11. Ancient Egyptian Alien Coins
  12. Superstitions Around the World
  13. A Brief History of Halloween

Divination Games

Traditionally Halloween was a time celebrated because of harvest and was said to be the day of the year where our world and the ghostly world were most closely aligned. Because of this, many divination rituals or ways of foretelling one’s future, especially regarding death, marriage and children became popular. During the Middle Ages, these rituals were done by a rare few in rural communities as they were considered to be “deadly serious” practices. In recent centuries, these divination games have been a common feature of the household festivities in Ireland and Britain.

The games often involved apples and nuts; in Celtic mythology, apples were strongly associated with the Otherworld and immortality, while certain nuts were associated with divine wisdom. Some also suggest that the games derive from Roman practices in celebration of Pomona. The following activities were a common feature of Halloween in Ireland and Britain during the 17th–20th centuries. Some have become more widespread and continue to be popular today.

Barmbrack

BarmbrackThe bairin breac or barmbrack is a sweetened Irish bread filled with various dried fruits.  Objects were baked into the bread and were said to tell of the future. The man or woman who found a ring in their piece of bread was assured good luck in the coming year.  As the tradition evolved, other tokens were added; one might find a penny, a button, a thimble, a piece of wood, or a piece of cloth. Not only might you break a tooth if you get carried away enjoying the barmbrack, but not all of those symbols mean good luck.  While a penny means good fortune and a button hints at a carefree life, the thimble means spinsterhood, the wood foretells spousal abuse, and the cloth represents loss of fortune.

Apple Paring

Halloween-card-mirror-2Tradition states that if a young, unmarried woman wants to see what her fate holds she should stand before a mirror lit by candlelight and slowly slice and apple.  If she is destined to marry, the face of her future husband will appear in the mirror to claim the last bite; but a skull will appear if she is destined to die alone.

Another version of this tradition involves peeling the apple in one continuous piece.  Take the peel and toss it over your shoulder and the peel will form the letter of the first name of the person you’re destined to marry.

Apple Spinning

This game is played with everyone at once.  Each person ties a string to the stem of an apple, and begins to spin them over a fire.  The first peron’s apple to fall into the fire represents the person of the group who will be the first to be married.

Bobbing for Apples

800px-Christy's_HalloweenA much more popularized game, bobbing for apples is played by filling a tub or a large basin with water and putting apples in the water. Because apples are less dense than water, they will float at the surface. Players then try to catch one with their teeth without the use of their hands. The first person to bite into the apple would be the next one to be allowed to marry. Girls who won and would place the apple they bobbed under their pillows were said to dream of their future lover.

Luggie Bowls/Saucer Luck

Luggie bowls are little handled bowls made of wood, ceramic, or metal. Another version of this game can use saucers. Take the three small bowls; fill one with clean water, one with dirty water, and keep one empty. Taking turns, the blindfolded party guests dip their fingers in one bowl each. Those who choose the bowl of clean water can expect clean and pure spouses. Those who get the dirty water will may marry widows and widowers, or else find their partners anything but pure by the wedding day. Those who pick the empty bowls won’t be getting married at all, at least not anytime soon.

Nut Burning

Nut Burning is a game traditionally played among friends to determine who will remain friends and who will drift apart. Each person is given a nut, and they name their nuts after themselves. The nuts are then placed next to each other on the hot coals of a fire. If they burn together, they are destined to be good friends. If they pop and jump apart then the friendship is destined to fail.

Another popular variation of this game is to give each guest two nuts. The guest names one nut for themself and another for the object of their affections. If the nuts burn quietly alongside one another then love will grow, if the nuts part then the relationship is doomed.

The Chest

analogue-2842521_1920This is played at the stroke of midnight; all the girls are gathered together in a dark room. The host of the event lights a candle and each girl is given an unlit candle. One by one they light their candle from the host’s and they are told to follow her lead. As she says this a side door is opened revealing a small child dressed in a fancy costume and mask. The child approaches the girl, bows, and then leads the way out of the room to a distant part of the house where there is a closed door.

The child tells each girl that they must enter and take a numbered box from a chest of drawers in the room but not open it. She must continue in silence and close the door behind her on the way in and out. After she has retrieved the box and if she has luck, on the way back to the door she will see the shadow of her future husband walking beside her.

Once each girl has gone and they’re back to the party they may open their boxes, inside are small presents or party favors.

Throughout the evening prior to the girls participating in the chest game, the hosts would plant ideas as to what dark, ominous, or even dangerous things are inside the room so as to scare the young girls and test their bravery when they entered.

Sitting on a Church Porch

Rønne_KirkeIn old Ireland, a tradition found people sitting on the porch of their local churches.  It was said that if one sat on the porch and gazed into the night, apparitions of the people who were destined to die in the coming year would appear.

These are just a few examples of the many and varied forms of Halloween divination. Maybe try a few on Halloween this year and see what your future holds.


This post is apart of our 13 days of Halloween series. Checkout our other spooky posts:

  1. Washington Ghost Stories
  2. Out of Place Artifacts
  3. Henry Rathbone
  4. Charon and the Journey to Hades
  5. Post-Mortem Photography
  6. All Hallows Eve Divination Games
  7. Saved By The Bell and other Idioms
  8. Halloween Coins
  9. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  10. Coins Connecting You to the Spirit World
  11. Ancient Egyptian Alien Coins
  12. Superstitions Around the World
  13. A Brief History of Halloween

 

Post-Mortem Photography

Historically you can find numerous cultural traditions that we might find odd today, such as taxidermy animal hats, professional mourners, and cheese rolling festivals (yes those were a thing!). But one tradition that sticks out as not only odd but a bit unsettling is post-mortem photography. Post-mortem photography was a type of photography that gained popularity in the Victorian era where families would photograph their loved ones after they had passed away.

In images that are both unsettling and strangely poignant, families would often pose with the dead, infants appear asleep, and consumptive young ladies elegantly recline, the disease not only taking their life but increasing their beauty.

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Until the mid-19th century, photography was considered an expensive luxury that not many could afford. As the price of photographic material came down and the number of photographers increased during the 1850s, more people paid to have them or their family photographed, often even on their deathbed. Tragic as it may seem, to low-income families, post-mortem photos were often the only family photographs that they had; as death was their last chance to scrounge together the money to afford the photos. Getting photos taken was regarded as a luxurious family occasion.

Photographers had an important job and a part of the photographer’s tasks was to prepare the body of the deceased and make it look more “lifelike,” or as if it was asleep. The BBC notes that “the long exposures when taking photographs meant that the dead were often seen more sharply than the slightly-blurred living, because of their lack of movement.”

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deceased child with painted on eyes

As technology slowly advanced there were more options for the families to choose from. Sometimes portrait cards were created to be distributed to family and friends; these portrait cards looked even creepier as eyes were painted on to the deceased. Later examples of memento mori photographs show the deceased presented in their coffin, often with a large group of funeral attendees.

Today, post-mortem photography is a nearly exterminated practice and peaked in popularity around the end of the 19th century. Although it is still present in some parts of Eastern Europe. This type of photography is nowadays regularly practiced in police and practice of pathology. The advent of snapshots allowed most families to have photographs taken in life.

 

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This post is apart of our 13 days of Halloween series. Checkout our other spooky posts:

  1. Washington Ghost Stories
  2. Out of Place Artifacts
  3. Henry Rathbone
  4. Charon and the Journey to Hades
  5. Post-Mortem Photography
  6. All Hallows Eve Divination Games
  7. Saved By The Bell and other Idioms
  8. Halloween Coins
  9. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  10. Coins Connecting You to the Spirit World
  11. Ancient Egyptian Alien Coins
  12. Superstitions Around the World
  13. A Brief History of Halloween

Charon and the Journey to Hades

As a coin collector you may think coins are a very important part of your life but according to Greek mythology they could be even more important in the afterlife. Ancient Greeks would cover the mouths of their dead with a single coin before their final goodbye. The coins purpose was to provide the dead with the needed wealth to pay for their trip safely to the underworld — the realm of Hades. Separated from the land of the living by five rivers,  the journey to Hades was perilous. Charon was the only guide to take the recently departed to their final destination and he required payment.

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Charon as depicted by Michelangelo

Charon has had many different depictions over the years from modern media to attic funerary vases of the fifth century B.C. The Roman poet Virgil describes him as ‘a sordid god’ with ‘uncombed, unclean’ beard, and eyes ‘like hollow furnaces on fire’; Seneca mentions his ‘sunken cheeks’. Centuries later, Dante, drawing from Virgil’s work, presents him as a surly old man who refuses to take people on his boat. In a fresco in the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo portrays him as a corpulent creature, more beastly than human. But when we think of him now, we imagine a hooded, silent figure in a scene that seems taken from Arnold Böcklin’s most intriguing painting, The Isle of the Dead. Charon’s role as a psychopomp, a guide for souls in the afterlife, has determined his assimilation with the image of the Grim Reaper, the personification of Death.

Harmes, the messenger-god, escorted the dead to the river Acheron, but once they reached the river they were at the mercy of Charon. The Acheron, or the river of woe, is, in fact, a real river in the Epirus region of northwestern Greece, one that flows through dark gorges and goes underground in several places, which may explain its long association with the underworld. The unfortunate souls who didn’t have a coin (typically an obolus or danake) were condemned to wander along the banks of the Cocytus, the river of lamentation, for all eternity.

Since the river of Acheron was considered a portal to Hades, its banks were the ideal location for the Necromanteion, an important temple in Ancient Greece that allowed necromancers the ability to learn and then teach about the underworld. The necromancer, Odysseus, visited the river to contact the soul of the blind prophet Tiresias for advice on his journey to Hades, but he also suffered a series of terrifying visions involving torrents of blood, chilling screams and armies of wounded warriors.

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one of the tunnels in the necromanteion

We know little about the rituals that would allow the living to contact their dead at the Necromanteion temple. What is known is that first, they would follow a special diet (likely including hallucinogens), they would then descend through underground corridors and cross three gates that replicated the ones in Hades and that took them to the dark chamber, the most secret place of all. It was here that it is said that the dead would come to speak. But no matter what they had seen, pilgrims couldn’t reveal it to anyone, or fearful Hades, the lord of the Underworld, would take their lives in retaliation.

The geography of the Greek Underworld is fascinating, and its knowledge was fundamental. We know most of these details from totenpässe (inscribed tablets), the so-called passports of the dead, thin gold foil pieces found in the mouths of skeletons, inscribed with details to navigate the other realm.

Orphic_Gold_Tablet_(Thessaly-The_Getty_Villa,_Malibu)One of the most important instructions from these totenpässe were about Lethe, the river of forgetfulness. According to Ovid, a Roman poet, it flowed through the cave of Hypnos, the god of sleep. Lethargic and groggy, the dead were asked to drink from its waters, but this would make them forget their earthly lives. But, there was another river from which souls could choose to drink if they were wise: the Mnemosyne, whose waters would make the initiated remember their past existence and achieve omniscience (the state of knowing everything), thus breaking the cycle of reincarnation.

The remaining two of the five rivers were the Phlegethon (the river of fire) and the Styx. After crossing the Styx, the souls would finally arrive in Hades. But the perils of the journey didn’t end here: Anacreon, a Greek lyrics poet, warns us that ‘Hades’ hall is horrifying. Worse: it is decided that ‘whoever ventures there may not return’. Welcomed by the monstrous dog Cerberus, who allows no one to leave, the souls would have to confront three judges: Rhadamanthus, Minos and Aeacus, who would decide on their destiny based on their deeds during their human existence. A positive sentence would allow them to go to the Elysian Fields, but a negative one might bring the eternal torment.

The myth of the ferryman Charon, reflects a universal constant: the belief that the journey to the other world is a perilous adventure, so the presence of a psychopomp, even one as frightful as our commonly known grim reaper, is crucial to the fate of our souls.

There Charon stands, who rules the dreary coast –
A sordid god: down from his hairy chin
A length of beard descends, uncombed, unclean;
His eyes, like hollow furnaces on fire;
A girdle, foul with grease, binds his obscene attire


This post is apart of our 13 days of Halloween series. Checkout our other spooky posts:

  1. Washington Ghost Stories
  2. Out of Place Artifacts
  3. Henry Rathbone
  4. Charon and the Journey to Hades
  5. Post-Mortem Photography
  6. All Hallows Eve Divination Games
  7. Saved By The Bell and other Idioms
  8. Halloween Coins
  9. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  10. Coins Connecting You to the Spirit World
  11. Ancient Egyptian Alien Coins
  12. Superstitions Around the World
  13. A Brief History of Halloween

Washington Ghost Stories

As a Washington based company we are always curious about local stories and history. This time, we take a look at some of Washington’s most legendary ghost stories!

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Central Washington University, “Kamola Hall” (1940). CWU Building Photographs. 290.

Lola in Kamola — Ellensburg, WA

A student named Lola, attended Central Washington University during World War II and was rumored to have committed suicide in the Kamola resident’s hall after discovering the love of her life was killed in action. Students over the years have reported ‘sightings’ of Lola, including noises, cold gusts of wind, and apparitions. CWU’s photographer Richard Villacres says he dealt with Lola personally during a photo shoot in 2002, prior to the Kamola hall remodel. During the photo shoot things seemed fine. Then he developed his film.

“I shot three rolls of film inside Kamola of my model, and the three rolls of film that I shot inside — two of them came out black, nothing — which has never, ever happened to me,” Villacres said.

Getting angered by the apparent camera malfunction, Villacres was surprised to see the third roll of film developed — but not into something that he took.

“The one roll that came out had all kinds of bizarre fogging and weird marks on it,” Villacres said. “Especially one that was taken in the hallway inside. There is this ghostly figure in the background — all this weird effect is on there. I had no explanation for that.”

Puzzled, and thoroughly creeped out, Villacres had the film sent back to Polaroid to see if there was anything wrong. They said there was nothing. He developed other photos he had taken that day outside the building. They turned out fine. He took his camera out on another shoot, and again, everything was working perfectly. Just not in Kamola’s attic.

 

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Image courtesy of Google Maps

Hotel Andra Seattle, WA

The 119-room Hotel Andra, located in the heart of Seattle, is a 10-story building that opened in 1926 as the Claremont Hotel. It has been remodeled several times and is still a functioning hotel. Renamed the Hotel Andra in 2004, it’s “one of the premier luxury hotels in downtown Seattle,” according to the Andra’s website. Andra officials said the hotel provided efficiency apartments when it first opened, and acted as a transfer station for members of the Women’s Army Corps from 1945 to 1947. It was transformed into a small boutique hotel in the 1970s before opening as the Hotel Andra in 2004.

Staffers and guests have reported apparitions in the building, and are said to have witnessed objects moving on their own. One of the more common stories from guests involves the apparition of a woman who appears in guests’ rooms wearing 1930s-style clothing. Hotel patrons have reported hearing jazz music and parties on the ninth floor, only for staffers to check and find nothing.

 

800px-WANSHPC1940sThe Northern State Mental Hospital — Burlington, WA

The Northern State Mental Hospital, was a self-sustaining hospital complex, once the state’s largest facility for the mentally insane, or not so insane. It sits on 1,100 acres and