The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 29, July 16, 2006, Article 19


Regarding last week's eBay sale of the 1849 Eckfeldt-DuBois
"Manual of Gold and Silver Coins of All Nations", Dan Friedus
writes:  "In 1982, I was the lucky buyer of Henry Clifford's
"Manual of Gold and Silver Coins..." with the gold samples.
I was then the foolish seller of that book in 1987 (one of
a group of books I sold to help me buy my first house).
Virtually all the other items I sold were much more easily
replaceable than that book (and, other than on eBay, the E&B
seems to have increased in value closer to where I believe
it belongs.

The price at the Clifford auction was a bargain given its
rarity and historical interest to numismatic bibliophiles as
well collectors of books on western history such as those
who interested in "The Zamorano 80" but collecting a bit
more broadly.  Clifford himself included the Zamorano 80 as
part of his collection.

Not having seen it in almost 20 years, I have to admit that
I don't recall the binding well enough to tell you whether
the eBay copy was formerly mine.  But the person who bought
it is astute enough that if he was lucky enough to upgrade,
I think he'd have chosen a venue that would have resulted in
a price more in line with the books value.  If, as I suspect,
it is coming in from non-numismatic circles then it's a nice
addition and hopefully will remain in the hands of numismatists
for a long time.

On a related note, I once was trying to sell a copy of the more
common 12mo E&B with gold and was surprised to see how little
interest in it there was among collectors of pioneer gold coins.
For less than their least expensive coins, they could have acquired
both a gold nugget with a firm provenance to the earliest part of
the Gold Rush plus a piece of processed gold of the same time and
location.  The book with gold is rarer even than most pioneer
gold coins.

I eventually found a buyer but had naively thought that even a
numismatist who doesn't focus on books would find this as
historically important as their coins.  The cynic in me thinks
that perhaps the key is the difference between the word "numismatist"
and "collector" (which, of course is when my cynicism doesn't
replace "collector" with "investor" or "speculator").

The optimist in me simply appreciated that the price being low
meant I was able to own both versions of this amazing work for a
while. Alas, I sold both too early to take advantage of the apparent
price increases (at least when sold in the proper venue).  No
regrets, though. It's nice to have great books.  It's also nice to
have a house."

[Many thanks to Dan for providing the background on his copies of
Eckfeldt-DuBois.  A couple things may require explanation for the
non hard-core bibliophiles among our readers.  First, the "The
Zamorano 80" is a list of 80 key early publications relating to
the history of California, and is the Holy Grail of California
bibliophiles, much like a complete Sheldon variety set is the
ultimate goal of many Large Cent collectors.  Here are links to
two web pages with more information:
More Info

The other item which may be puzzling non-bibliophiles is "12mo".
This refers to a standard description of book sizes.  See the next
item for more information.  -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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