Volume 11 Issue 7                                INTERNET EDITION - Established 1996                                  July 2006


The name 'Tasmanian Numismatist' is used with the permission  of the Executive Committee of the 'Tasmanian Numismatic Society' however, any comments published in this privately produced newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views of the 'Tasmanian Numismatic Society', its Executive Committee or its members. Bearing in mind our public disclaimers,  the Internet links selected by the authors of this  newsletter are usually provided as a complimentary source of reference to the featured article in regard to: (1) Illustrations and, (2) to provide additional important information. 

Any notices of concern to 'Tasmanian Numismatic Society' members will be included in the 'Society Snippets' section.

We trust that this issue of the 'Tasmanian Numismatist' (Internet Edition) newsletter will continue to provide interesting reading.

 

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TASMANIAN NUMISMATIC SOCIETY

Anyone who wishes to apply for membership to the non-profit making organization, and who is prepared to abide by the rules of the Society and its aim of promoting the study and enjoyment of the hobby of numismatics, should contact the following address for an application form and details of subscriptions: 

 

THE SECRETARY.

Tasmanian Numismatic Society.

G. P. O. Box 884J

Hobart. 7001.

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INTERNET EDITION

by Graeme Petterwood © 2005

 

Remember - be astute when you are handed change - not all the wonders of numismatics have been discovered yet - and they don't have to be shiny and new! This edition again features an assortment of  'trivia' that I think is of interest and I trust it will prove educational and entertaining to you as well. 

All or any prices quoted in articles in this newsletter, unless stipulated, are estimates only and they should not be considered to be an offer to sell or purchase the items mentioned or used as illustrations. Please note that the photoscans of numismatic items are usually not to size or scale, but - wherever possible - they are from the authors' own collection or the extensive picture library of the 'Tasmanian Numismatist - Internet Edition.

 

CANADIAN MUNICIPAL TRADE TOKENS

Lions Club volunteers from all over the world do an enormous amount of hard work in providing services to their communities and this involvement by Little Current Lions Club of Manitoulan Island is one imaginative way they have tried to participate with other local interest groups to achieve a positive result.

Whilst it is impossible to publish details of all municipal trade token commercial issues from Canada, or anywhere else, every so often there is one that  catches the attention of the public and deserves a brief mention.

 

Victoria Cross honoured on Manitoulin Island annual token

 

Newsheet supplied by Serge Pelletier.

 

“Last year was the Year of the Veteran in Canada, this year it is Year of the Veteran on Manitoulin Island” said David Walton, the Token Program Coordinator of the Little Current Lions Club, when he announced the upcoming issue of their 45th token.  “We’ve decided to honour Canadian war heroes by commemorating the 150th anniversary of the institution of the Victoria Cross with our very first 5-Dollar token” he concluded.

 

The 5-Dollar municipal trade token will have currency value, at participating merchants on Manitoulin Island, until November 30, 2006.  It is not only the first of that denomination, it is also the first time that the club offers enamelled pieces for their lower denomination issue. 

The obverse shows:  a traditional Victoria Cross (i.e. with the “For Valour” legend rather than the Canadian version with “Pro Valore”) with the legend: HAWEATER 5 DOLLARS 1856 – VICTORIA CROSS – 2006.  The traditional Manitoulin reverse has been used showing a map of the island flanked above by a deer and by a fisherman below with the legend: MANITOULIN / (island) / WORLD’S LARGEST FRESWATER ISLAND. 

The 35 millimetre tokens were struck as follows:

2,500 on antique Florentine bronze blanks (C$7.50),

150 on nickel-silver blanks (C$17.00),

150 on gold-plated blanks (C$18.00) 

150 on antique Florentine bronze blanks and enamelled (C$35.00). 

The ribbon of the medal is coloured crimson on the enamelled pieces. (Please note that the ribbon comes out in the photo much lighter than it actually is.)
They are available from the exclusive distributor

 

Bonavita 

Box 11447, Station H, Nepean, ON  K2H 7V1

CANADA,

Tel: +1-613-823-3844, fax: +1-613-825-3092,

Email: bonavita@eligi.ca

 

The prices, in Canadian dollars, are indicated in parentheses.  S&H is extra.  Canadian resident must add the applicable taxes. 

Eligi Consultants Inc. had the token struck for the club from designs by Major Serge Pelletier, CD. 

 

 

 

The Victoria Cross is the Commonwealth’s highest decoration, given “for most conspicuous bravery or some daring pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence on the enemy”.  A bar is awarded for additional acts of bravery.  Instituted on February 5, 1856, with awards retroactive to 1854, there have been 1,351 Victoria Crosses and three bars awarded worldwide, 94 to Canadians (Canadian-born or serving in the Canadian Army or with close connection to Canada).  The first one was awarded in February 1857 to Lieutenant Alexander Dunn for his participation in the famous “Charge of the Light Brigade”.

Whilst both Canada and the United Kingdom have issued coins this year to commemorate this significant anniversary, this is the only numismatic item made of material similar to that of the medal and the only one to show the ribbon.  “We felt it was the only way to honour it properly” said Major Pelletier, the designer, and an officer in the Canadian Army, “since the metal is a significant part of its history and meaning”. 

Indeed, the actual Victoria Cross is made of bronze from Russian artillery pieces captured during the Crimean War.

For additional information contact:

Serge Pelletier

Email: serge@eligi.ca

 

A Touch of History.

The Gun in the Park.

As far back as I can remember, an old black 'cannon' has overlooked the slopes in Launceston's City Park in my home state of Tasmania, Australia.

When I was a kid I used to sit astride it and pretend I was a gunner preparing to blow the bejabbers out of any invading enemy coming up the river-flats near the old defunct Railway yards.

Little did I know that I would fulfill part of that fantasy in later years as a Gunner with the 6th Field Regiment., Royal Australian Artillery.

 

 

Generations of kids, including mine and my grandchildren, have rolled down the neat grassy slopes below its foreboding barrel without a thought of its history - they only know that it has been a part of their playground for nearly 150 years. However, as part of the local Artillery Trust responsibilities, a little history lesson may enlighten some of us on why an old Russian naval gun came to be mounted in the Launceston City Park. 

In 1990, to celebrate the 130th Anniversary of the Launceston Volunteer Artillery, the Artillery Historical Trust of Tasmania, Northern Branch presented the City of Launceston with a bronze plaque that contained the following inscription.

 

 

Trunnions are the 'axles' that the barrel of the cannon swing on to get the correct elevation (angle of shot). Hidden away on the right trunnion is the inscription in Cyrrilic Russian script, that I translated to read: -

36 - H(?)

Cannon - Carronade

Weight 142 ½ - Pounds.

1840 - Year.

On the left trunnion, the roughly translated Cyrrilic inscription reads:-

No. 26851

Alksnd (Alexander) Factory

Origin : Armstrong

 

 

The double-headed Imperial Russian Eagle crest is positioned prominently half way down the barrel - with the large letters M and A on each side of the breech vent. The gun appears to be a naval gun adapted for land warfare.

It is to be noted that to make using these heavy naval guns far easier, the Russians remounted a few on cast-iron gun-carriages as the park gun has been.

The mention of Armstrong refers to the original designer of the rifled muzzle-loading cannon and it was made, under licence, in Russia prior to hostilities. The English manufactured Armstrong guns were later produced in breech-loading form and were the fore-runners of modern artillery.

 

The Siege of Sebastopol 1854 - 55.

The Crimean war started in 1853 and initially involved Russia versus Turkey. By 1854, Britain and France had also become involved and declared war on Russia. Sardinia joined the Allies in 1855.

Sebastopol was originally developed to be the most important Russian naval base, and its main arsenal, on the Black Sea. The brick-and-masonry fortifications had been commenced in 1783 and upgraded periodically to make it considered impregnable by the standards of the day. In 1837 the Czar ordered further works but nothing was done until the war broke out in 1853. By April 1854, Colonel Frants Todleben had been appointed to upgrade the fortifications but, because he considered that any invasion would come from the sea, he took his time with the inland facing defences.

The French and British landed on September 13th 1854 at Old Fort - 30 miles to the north of Sebastopol - and after defeating Prince Menshikov's army at Alma, the Allies were within sight of the northern defences of the port. They considered the northern approaches too strong and so they decided to march to the south - however, they over estimated the strength of the partly constructed defences and decided that an estimated 500 casualties was too high a price to pay to breach them.

Todelben was let off the hook and immediately set about strengthening the fortification by using every able-bodied man he could muster. In the meanwhile the Allies began a formal siege.

By mid- October, Sebastopol was one of the most formidable fortresses in the world. Due to lack of bricks-and-masonry materials, Todelben had his men raise massive earthwork bastions connected with trenches and supporting batteries. He had so many guns, over 3000 - most of these from the Russian Black Sea Fleet - that many had to be stored.

The bombardment started on 17th October 1854 and was destined to continue until September 8th 1855. After terrible carnage (over 300,000 men) the Russian commander, Prince Gorchakov, - who was losing up to 1000 men a day - blew up the town and retreated across a pontoon bridge to the stronger northern defences. It was estimated that the allies had fired 1,250,000 projectiles into Sebastopol before the withdrawal.

 

 

    

Sebastapol Guns and smashed fortifications - the metal from the guns became the raw material for the Victoria Cross.

Packaged One Dollar coin commemorating Australia's first Victoria Cross recipient.

(Awarded to Capt. Neville Howse, N.S.W. Army Medical Corps - July 1900, during the Boer War)

 

Main References.

Modern Military Series - ARTILLERY.

Published 1975 - Octopus Books.

Pears Cyclopaedia - 92nd Edition.

Published 1983 -84. The Chaucer Press.

 

 

CHINESE COINS

 Kiang Nan Dragon Silver Dollar - FACT or FICTION?

At a recent APTA stamp and coin show in Launceston, at which I was accompanied by my (nearly) 9 y.o. grandson who has succumbed to the lure of numismatics, we spotted a small basket that had a few Crown-sized coins within. As we all know, size and shape mean everything to a new young collector so - on his behalf - I parted with a few dollars and added a 5 coin selection to our ever increasing pile.

Later, at home, along with his own coin and banknote purchases - (he got extremely good value for his AUD$28.00) -  he selected a couple of the Crown-sized coins that really took his fancy and passed the other 3 over to me.  I must say that the local dealers, Stephen Cole of Salamanca Rare Coins and David and Kim Newall of the Stamp Place as well as the gentleman from Stephen's Coins & Banknotes of South Yarra, Vic. made his day with their interest in my grandson's  new interest and he is already talking about his next coin show visit.

The point of this little story is to let you know how I came into possession of a mysterious Chinese 7 Mace and 2 Candareens (Dollar) coin.

With the realisation that some Chinese entrepreneurs are churning out more local fakes - and other world coins as well - than the amount of originals that were minted (only kidding), I gave the coin the beady-eyed attention of the skeptic. At first, I easily dismissed it as another good fake because it wasn't  slotted into the good, old Krause  catalogue, but. being the inquisitive old collector that I am, I delved a little deeper to see what its origin may have been.

 

 

Genuine 1904 Kiang Nan Dollar - note tiny Manchu characters at centre of Obverse - KM#145a.12

There are also a number of known and listed varieties. For full details, refer: http://ykleungn.tripod.com/kiangn02.htm

 

With Pandora's box wide open, I found that I became of two minds about my coin's authenticity - but, I still couldn't make an informed decision -  I needed more information than a visual opinion of my own. I have now contacted collector, Mr. Y.K. Leung of Hong Kong  who has studied the real and the dubious Chinese items at some length and, at his request, I will be forwarding some scans to him for his opinion. 

Hopefully, I will have my mind put to rest - one way or another - I will let you know how it goes.

For the relative pittance I paid for this coin, whether it be fact or fiction, it has earned its cost in the fun of learning more about the fascinating area of Chinese Fakes, Fantasies and Charms as well as the genuine articles.

 

 

Charm, fantasy, fake - or genuine variety? Illustrations from article by Vladamir Belyaev.

 

In the meantime, I have fossicked around and located some Internet information - with an illustration (shown above) - that lends credence that it may be a fantasy (sometimes called a 'charm') issue - in other words - a fake.

Vladamir Belyaev, the Russian author of an internet article written in July 1998 entitled,"Set of forgered (sic) silver and gold struck coins.", freely admits that, whilst he is not 100% sure that it may not be a legitimate variety, he considers it as worthy for inclusion in the article as a probable fake.

His illustration appears to be identical - and, with certain details on my coin agreeing with his description below, I am starting to confirm my suspicion about mine being a nice fake. Refer: http://www.charm.ru/library/tailandset.htm

 

Obverse:

In the centre, in Chinese script, are the 4 characters of the standard legend - Guang Hsu Yuan Pao (basically, this means 'valuable currency') - at the top centre also in Chinese charcters - Made by Kiangnan Province- and at the bottom 7 Mace and 2 Candareens, on the sides are the mintmaster's initials HAH (H.A. Holmes) and CH (the unknown engraver) and the date 1904 in Chinese numerics.

 

Reverse:

Dragon with flame pearl in the centre. Two English inscriptions - Kiang Nan Province and 7 Mace and 2 Candareens.
Diameter: 39.5 mm (my coin is barely 40mm as measured with a Vernier guage - nearly close enough)
Weight: 26.7 g  (my coin appears to be about 1oz. = 28.39g - which is about 1.5g heavier - but my scales are not of an instrumental standard)

Dated: 1904

 

   

Author's Kiang Nan Province 1904 Dollar (7 Mace and 2 Candareens) - is it KM#145a.19 - or is it an interesting fantasy?


A coin listed in the KM Standard Catalog of World Coins  as KM# 145a.19 - but, without valuations or any more elaborate description , is impossible to make a comparison with as there is no illustration available. That was a real disappointment, as I have not any other authoritive catalogue source of information on Chinese coinage at this stage. (The 'variation' without the 4 central Manchu characters at the obverse is not even listed in the "Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Coins" by E. Kann 1996, according to Vladamir Belyaev.)

The reverse of the  'variety' that I have has a 5 pointed star to the left of the word 'AND' as well as the dot after the word 'CANDAREENS' -  even though this detail is unlisted in the Krause Mishler catalogue, that hint of the mystery coin without the central Manchu characters at KM#145a.19 keeps niggling at me.

We are not talking  about a variety coin worth thousands - I wouldn't think - even if real. However, the estimated value range of the genuine basic known style as shown in the first illustration (top) - Fine  to Unc.- goes from  US$15 - $80 (Kann # 99 - 101); US$15 - $150 (Krause Mishler #145a.12 - 145a.14) 

 

I have measured and weighted my coin and, as mentioned above, there are very slight - but tolerable - differences in both instances compared to the details supplied. However, I have noted from further research that these minute differences seems to be fairly common even with genuine Chinese coins.

Struck coins were produced in England, under the authority of Viceroy Chang Chih-tung, and they  commenced being issued in 1888.

The Birmingham firm of Ralph Heaton had been been commissioned in 1887 to establish the giant Canton Mint from the foundations up and it was an enormous undertaking to have it fully functional by 1889. Even with Western minting expertise the Chinese Mint, which produced the provincial silver coinage, still hadn't reach the level of technological perfection that we equate with our modern Western coinage and an exceptionally large amount of early varieties are known.  Refer: http://ykleungn.tripod.com/ktsilver.htm

To add to the problem, some of the provincial 'Empire' dollar coins were restruck by the Republican government  some years after the initial issues had been made. The silver content varied in quality and ranged from .820 - .900 Fine in various denominations but during successive years, however, in some instances it was debased far lower and Krause Mishler only list the coins as 'Silver' meaning from as low as  .500 silver content.

 

As I didn't wish to destroy my  coin, I tried several unintrusive 'home remedy' tests - such as trying to get it to stick to a magnet -  to try and identify if the coin has a decent silver content or if it is only plated. I have read that high silver content will not stick whereas some alloys or plated coins will show a certain amount of 'stickiness' but, from my own efforts, it was a 'hit or miss' experiment at best.

I even used the old face tissue trick over the coin to see if the 'silver' showed through with varying degrees of reflected white - compared to the greyness of copper-nickel or another base alloy - and it actually did show a fair percentage of white in the coin's field. Try it sometime........ it seems to have some validity.

The 'chop' marks in Chinese silver coins weren't made just to decorate the coin but to test the depth of silver as Chinese entrepreneurs are very, very clever and sometimes the silver content is relatively higher than expected in fakes - especially those with a high numismatic value -  it would seem barely worthwhile with this coin .........but who knows, quantity may play a part.........?

Electronic testing or metallurgical analysis is often the only way some of these fakes are detected - but some that have been discovered have had a very basic mistake - like a wrong date for the type or a mintmark being used that is not correct for the minting era.

Chinese made American Morgan Silver Dollars are notorious for these sorts of mistakes - but people are still falling for the trap of buying fakes.

 

I have mentioned that my coin is without the 4 central Manchu characters that are on other similar coins from this era,.and it is virtually identical with the Internet example even to the strange character at the left of the central major characters of the obverse - which is without its bottom right stroke at the base to form the Chinese symbol for 'Pao'.

The correct depiction should be That there are at least two coins with this identical difference, leads one to suspect they came from the  same source.

There is another  common 'flaw' evident that points to either a deteriorating die - or a poor copy of an original - being used in the manufacture of these two pieces. The character above the r.h. dot on the obverse has the same damaged right side (thickening) on both mine and as shown on Belyaev's illustration.

 

Slight striation marks, even a  slight porous appearance of the surfaces of some of the characters, and a small area of roughness across the field of the obverse are evident under x10 magnification and hint that this 'coin' may have been carefully prepared from a cast - but these things are not conclusive enough with today's knowledge of mint errors and, no doubt, we have all seen similar flaws in our own modern coinage - otherwise, at first glance, the obverse is standard for a Kiang Nan silver dollar.

As one Chinese coin collector remarked - "Perhaps, I should collect the forgeries!"

 

Internet References:

Chinese Numismatics in Research - Y.K. Leung. Refer: http://ykleungn.tripod.com/kiangn02.htm

Chinese Coinage Web Site - Vladamir Belyaev. Refer: http://www.charm.ru/

 

Other Reference:

Standard Catalog of World Coins - by Chester L Krause and Clifford Mishler - Colin R Bruce II, Senior Editor 1998

 

FUNNY MONEY

Mr. Mavrodi's MMM BILETOV

The advantage of having been an avid researcher for so long means that some languages or scripts become familiar and attract attention to certain items that goes beyond the apparent. A few paper note acquisitions at the recent APTA Stamp and Coin show didn't cost the earth but they were of interest.

The Cyrrylic (Russian) script 'Bilet' (shown below) is one of several denominations that are now in my grandson's collection because he liked the funny writing.  The notes are called Bilet (or Biletov pl.) - I suppose we could nearly call them Mavrodi as that is the name of the gentleman whose effigy is depicted.

The story of Sergei Mavrodi is one of boom and bust - and it involved criminals aaand Russian politicians, at the highest level, and more intrigue than 'Watergate'.The entrepreneurial experiments within  Russia in the aftermath of Federation are now part of that national's economic and commercial history and, one day, they may be granted a little more numismatic status than they are afforded at present.

 

 

1994 MMM One Bilet (Actual size 150 x 70 mm).

 

Sergei Mavrodi, his younger brother, Vyacheslav Mavrodi, and a cousin, Oskana Palyuchencko, built up the MMM multi-million ruble pyramid investment scheme empire back in the early 1990's which eventually collapsed. Sergei Mavrodi spent some time in prison but was still able to continue running his corporate dealings until political pressure was brought to bear and he was released so that he could 'rescue' the company and save some powerful investors - political and criminal - from losing their investment. He was elected to the Russian Parliament (the Duma) in 1994 so as to avoid prosecution but, in 1995, his political immunity came to an abrupt end when he was expelled and could not rally enough support to be re-elected.

Several other dubious businesses of a similar nature were floated in the mid 1990's but also collapsed - and the corporate officers did the honourable thing in 1997 - they fled when they lost their 'behind the scenes' political support.

 A warrant was issued for their arrest in 1998 when it became evident to the public that the scope of the fraud went beyond anyone's expectations and that their investments were not worth the millions of biletov they were holding.

The MMM Investment Group had conducted illegal banking and precious commodity-dealing as well as acquiring Gold without the necessary Russian licences and the brothers paid the price when they both received heavy prison sentences in February 2003 when they were caught after about 5 years on the run.

 

The three series of biletov they issued were serial-marked and are printed on quality watermarked paper with flourescent fibres and the MMM logo in a cartouche above the serial number which can only be seen with UV light. The notes are, in fact, coupons or tickets that represented  a portion of an official share certificate and were sold to investors who could not buy full shares. 

Peter Symes' article is most informative about the structure of these certificates, and their coupons, and is recommended reading.

The Biletov design is fairly basic - the main differences between denominations is usually the colour, the positioning of the effigy and the value numeral - and variances of the scroll work on the reverse. These coupons are well documented on the Internet and are often for sale on eBay. 

The value of each MMM Bilet was supposed to be the proportion of the Ruble equivalent of the Share certificate value at the time of surrender.

The earliest range was issued in 1, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 Biletov - but the 2nd. series saw the introduction of a 10,000 Biletov  - most of these now attract about US$0.30 - $0.50 for the low values and at US$40.00 for bundles of 100 - but I have even seen the higher value (10,000 Biletov) offered on eBay at about US$5.00 for bundles of 20.

Even 'funny money' has an economic place in the hobby of numismatics.

 

Recommended reading:

MMM Corporation by Peter J. Symes (2003) - Refer: http://www.pjsymes.com.au/articles/MMM.htm

 

 

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'TASMANIAN NUMISMATIST'

(INTERNET EDITION)

The ‘Tasmanian Numismatist’ newsletter is the only official newsletter of the ‘Tasmanian Numismatic Society’ and it is published periodically and distributed by post, or hand delivered, directly to members of the Tasmanian Numismatic Society and selected associates and institutions.

The ‘Tasmanian Numismatist’ (Internet Edition) newsletter is a separate entity and has been provided with space on this privately maintained Internet site and is currently presented free on a monthly basis  with the aim of promoting the hobby of numismatics. All matters pertaining to the T.N.S. are re-published with the permission of the current Executive Committee of the  ‘Tasmanian Numismatic Society. The 'Tasmanian Numismatist' (Internet Edition) newsletter abides by the same basic guidelines suggested for the official 'Tasmanian Numismatist' newsletter. Any literary contributions or relevant and constructive comments regarding numismatics are always welcome.

Please note that all opinions expressed in material published in the 'Tasmanian Numismatist' (Internet Edition) newsletter are those of the authors, and not necessarily those of the ‘Tasmanian Numismatic Society or the Editor. 

 

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Under this act, information about individuals can be stored and published only if: the information is already contained in a publicly available document or if personal information has been provided by the individual to whom the information relates, and if that individual is aware of the purposes for which the information is being collected.

All information published by the'Tasmanian Numismatist' (Internet Edition) newsletter is either publicly available, or has been voluntarily provided by writers, or members of the 'Tasmanian Numismatic Society', on request from the Editor of the 'Tasmanian Numismatist'  (Internet Edition) newsletter.

While the 'Tasmanian Numismatist' (Internet Edition) newsletter may hold writers' addresses and other details for the purposes of communication and copyright protection, it will never make such addresses or details available to any member of the public without the permission of those involved.

The 'Tasmanian Numismatist '(Internet Edition) newsletter also respects the privacy of our readers. When you write to us with comments, queries or suggestions, you may provide us with personal information including your contact address or other relevant information. Your personal information will never be made available to a third party without permission.

 

DISCLAIMER

All details of a commercial nature, organisations, items or individual arrangement to buy, sell or trade are provided in good faith as information only, and any consequent dealings are between the parties concerned. 

The ‘Tasmanian Numismatist’ (Internet Edition) newsletter takes no responsibility for disagreements between parties, and also reserves the right to only feature information that it considers suitable in promoting the hobby to our readers. Deadline for any literary contributions or amendment to copy is 7 Days prior to the beginning of the month of publication.

The contents of this Internet newsletter, and all prior issues, are copyrighted ©, but anything herein can be fairly used to promote the great hobby of numismatics; however, we do like to be asked by commercial interests if they wish to use any of our copy. 

This permission, however, does not extend to any article specifically marked as copyrighted © by the author of the article. Explicit permission from the author or the Editor of the  ‘Tasmanian Numismatist ' (Internet Edition) newsletter is required prior to use of that material.

 

The Editor,

'Tasmanian Numismatist' (Internet Edition). 

P.O. Box 10,

Ravenswood. 7250. Tasmania.

Australia.

Internet Page: http://www.vision.net.au/~pwood/tns.html

Email: pwood@vision.net.au

 

 

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