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The E-Sylum:  Volume 8, Number 31, July 17, 2005, Article 13

WHAT MAKES A LIBRARY?

At the other end of the book condition spectrum is
Dick Johnson, who writes: "To answer Dave Kellogg:
One book makes a door stop. Two books keep bookends
apart. Three books make a library. It's not the count, itís
the content.

...and how often they are used. Books in super mint condition
Ė even numismatic books Ė are not serving their purpose. I
have mentioned this before in The E-Sylum: I "consume" books
in my library. Ragged dust jackets and dog eared leaves prove
I have poured over the pages many times. I seldom read, I often
refer. I look up a lot of individual facts (like for writing these
E-Sylum items). Itís called research and reference. Thatís what
numismatic books are for.

And thatís what makes a numismatic library."

[I'm not a Ford-style perfectionist when it comes to book
conditions, but like most of us I do like to have nice copies
on my shelves when possible. Back before I had a wife and
kids to slow down my book acquisitions, I did a lot of
wheeling and dealing in numismatic books, buying frequently
from book dealers and purchasing the occasional library.

I would often purchase the same book several times over,
each time keeping the best and selling the duplicate. So
the copy with the ketchup stains from my lunch has long since
found a home elsewhere, and a new copy is here waiting for
the next time I need to refer back to that book.

But as much as I like nice clean books, I appreciate Dick's
point that if you're not using them, why have them?

Last week, I wrote: ""I suppose there is some sort of
minimum number of books required before you could call
a collection of books a 'library,' but I have no idea where
to draw the line... "

David Gladfelter writes: "I don't know where that line is either,
but the same question could be asked, what makes a coin
collection? In the catalog of the Milton R. Friedberg extensive
fractional currency collection sold by Currency Auctions of
America (now part of Heritage) in 1997, appeared lot 172
consisting of the following: "A 1962 Proof Set in its original
mint wrapper, a 1909 VDB penny in Very Fine, a Spanish
Piece of Eight badly clipped and corroded -- apparently, a
salvage piece, two 1921 Morgan dollars both Extra Fine, a
1924-S Peace Dollar Fine, a 1911 $2Ĺ gold piece Extra Fine
and a 1912 Liberty nickel Good. Offered without estimate
because this ain't our bag. Should be examined. No mail bids
on this lot please." This lot was captioned "Milt's Coin Collection."
-Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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