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The E-Sylum:  Volume 3, Number 40, October 1, 2000, Article 12

CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM OF SANDHAM 

   In response to the topic of "Devastating Reviews", Gilbert 
   Ray Malone writes:  "Perhaps the review discussed below 
   does not meet all the criteria set out by Tom Fort; however, 
   it probably falls somewhere between "constructive criticism" 
   and "published scorn". 

   I have assembled a small grouping of original numismatic 
   literature to be displayed at a future show in Canada.  The 
   title of the exhibit is "Coins, Tokens and Medals of the 
   Dominion of Canada: by Alfred Sandham -- A CRITICAL 
   REVIEW."  The centerpiece of the display is the neatly and 
   thoroughly annotated copy of Sandham's book used by 
   Professor Charles E. Anthon (editor AJN) in writing his 
   detailed, scholarly and sometimes cutting review of  Sandham's 
   book in the May 1869 issue of the AJN: 

   1.  "we intend to pay him the highest complement in our power, 
         by pointing out the deficiencies" 
   2.  "Looking at present edition as a first draught merely, we 
         repeat our call for a second one" 
   3.  "Our good Sandham must have 'nodded' over this page." 

   At times, Anthon verged on elitism: "And to Mr. Printer we 
   would observe that 'Boquet', as he uniformly spells it, savors 
   not of Ville Marie, ci-devant town of Novelle France; that his 
   Latin, in the legends of the Medals more particularly, is often 
   lame; and his English, as to orthography and punctuation, 
   sometimes blind." 

   My display is an attempt to document the reaction of the 
   numismatic community to publication of Sandham's book. 
   In the June 1868 issue of the AJN, Sandham's book was 
   announced with a very attractive broadside printed in color. 
   In March 1869, a card was inserted into the AJN 
   advertising the book - PRICE $1.00 American Currency. 
   Many collectors haven't seen these inserts since they were 
   frequently discarded when the AJN was bound. 

   Sandham did not heed Anthon's call for an immediate second 
   edition; however, he did issue a supplement in 1872 that 
   incorporated information provided by Anthon.  Sandham's 
   numbering system would continue to be used by cataloguers 
   of Canadian coins for about 15 years.   In the November 
   17-18, 1879 Bangs & Co. auction of Professor Anthon's 
   collection, Anthon catalogued his own Canadian cabinet by 
   Sandham number.  In 1884, Woodward referenced Sandham's 
   work in cataloguing the Canadian portion of the famous J. N. T. 
   Levick Collection.  Levick was a co-editor of the AJN at the 
   time Anthon wrote his review. 

   A theme of the display is the parallel development of 
   numismatics in the U.S. and Canada.  Sandham, in 1872, 
   started the Canadian Antiquarian and Numismatic Journal, 
   which he edited for about 4 years. 

   We don't know if Sandham was stung by Anthon's criticism. 
   Sandham had taken full responsibility for the book including 
   drawing all the coins for the eight full-page plates.  As R. W. 
   McLachlan notes in his sketch of Alfred Sandham (CANJ, 
   Jan. 1911), Sandham received only a regular common school 
   education -- cut short.  In fairness, Anthon's review also 
   contained much praise for Sandham.  However, we do know 
   that Sandham's book was not a financial success - 300 copies 
   were printed, 250 bound and only 100 sold." 

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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