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The E-Sylum:  Volume 3, Number 37, September 10, 2000, Article 10

DEVASTATING REVIEWS 

   Asylum editor E. Tomlinson Fort writes: " I recently purchased 
   a copy of The Numismatic Chronicle for 1901.  As some may 
   know this issue is unique in the history of that esteemed journal 
   in that  the entire volume (some 515 pages) consists a single 
   work: Joseph Andrews, "Numismatic History of the Reign of 
   Henry I, 1100-1135."  Making a long story short, Andrews' 
   principal argument was that during Henry's reign the English 
   mints were controlled by the earls, all of whom held lands and 
   titles in Normandy, and that the mints only produced coins when 
   the earls were in England.  Thus, the mint at Gloucester only 
   struck coins when the Earl of Gloucester was in England, and 
   when he was in Normandy the mint ceased  production. 

   The next volume of The Numismatic Chronicle contained a 
   five-page review of Andrews' work by two clerks at the Public 
   Record Office in London [C.G. Crump and C. Johnson, 
   "Notes on 'A Numismatic History of the Reign of Henry I," NC 
   1902, pp.372-7]. In this review the authors completely and 
   utterly demolished the arguments which Andrews spent 500 
   pages building.  The rancor caused by this was one of the 
   principle reasons for a group leaving the Royal Numismatic 
   Society and forming the British Numismatic Society in 1904. 

   More recently, there is the case of Karl F. Morrison and Henry 
   Grunthal's "Carolingian Coinage" (New York, 1967).  This 465 
   page tome was published by no less an august body than the 
   American Numismatic Society. In his review (in the Numismatic 
   Chronicle, 1969, pp.346-350), the British scholar Philip 
   Grierson at least tried to find a few good things to say (he did 
   like the plates).  However, the French numismatist does not 
   suffer fools lightly and he "nuked" the book in his review 
   [Revue Numismatique 1967, pp.291-5]. In fact these reviews 
   were so bad (as is the book) and the book so riddled with 
   errors that I am told it cost Morrison tenure at the university 
   where he was lecturing. [To the uninitiated wishing to learn 
   about the Carolingian series,  if you pay $90 for this work you 
   should receive $95 in change] 

   The fate of Morrison's monograph is rather sad, since before 
   it he published several articles on the Carolingian series which 
   are quite good.  [I particularly recommend his "Numismatics 
   and Carolingian Trade: a Critique of the Evidence," Speculum 
   38 (1963), pp.403-432.]. 

   Thinking about Andrews and Morrison has made me wonder 
   about what other great numismatic literary disasters may be out 
   there. I am not talking about articles or pamphlets - I mean 
   lengthy works which were pilloried soon after they hit the 
   street and which caused trouble and embarrassment for either 
   their author(s) and/or publishers.  I am not interested in works 
   which were only shown to be incompetent years after they 
   appeared. The published scorn must have been poured on 
   them within a year or two after they were printed and the 
   critics must be right. 

   Since my own interests are Medieval European I am particularly 
   interested in any works dealing with modern and American 
   coins. Please send all submissions to me at etfort@aol.com. 

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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