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The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 27, July 8, 2007, Article 21

STILL MORE ON THE TYPOGRAPHIC SYMBOL FOR COIN REVERSE

For a while now we've been following Ed Snible's quest to learn more
about the typographic symbol for coin reverse with limited success.
In his July 1 blog Ed speculates on why use of the symbol died out.
He writes:

"The )( symbol is a new obsession of Wayne Homren, who reports in
today's e-Sylum that he has contracted the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz,
Germany, The Type Museum here in London, the International Printing
Museum near Los Angeles, the Museum of Printing in North Andover, MA;
the JAARS Museum of the Alphabet in Waxhaw, NC; and the St. Brides
Printing Library in London.

"No useful replies yet.

"In a June 3 comment here, Dr. Robert J. O’Hara pointed to an 18th
century list of alchemical symbols, Medicinisch-Chymisch- und
Alchemistisches Oraculum (1755), which includes both )( and ?. Both
symbols abbreviate words beginning with RE (Realgar and Recipe). If
one needed to abbreviate “reverse” down to a single character to save
space it makes sense to use a symbol which had already served that
purpose. )( was such a symbol, but would numismatic readers in the
18th century have understood it?

"The earliest numismatic use that I know of is from 1758, in a book
published in Vienna, Prague, and Triest by Ioannis Thomae Trattner.
However, I just haved looked. I don't have any 17th or 18th century
books, and Google has scanned only a few. I would be curious to find
earlier citations of the symbol. It would be interesting if the
symbol started with publishers known for printing alchemical works.
I have before never considered a connection between numismatics and
alchemy.

"It is interesting that the symbol died out. It was used by Eckhel,
who is the father of numismatics as a science. It seems logical that
authors would want to make the works look more like Eckhel's, so why
did the symbol die out? Possibly type setters didn't have the symbol,
but perhaps even in the 19th century no one knew the name of the
symbol or its exact meaning?"

To read Ed's original July 1 blog entry, see: Full Story

 TYPOGRAPHIC SYMBOL FOR COIN REVERSE
 esylum_v10n23a17.html

 TYPOGRAPHIC SYMBOL FOR COIN REVERSE HAS E-SYLUM READERS STUMPED
 esylum_v10n24a14.html

 NOTES ON THE TYPOGRAPHIC SYMBOL FOR COIN REVERSE
 esylum_v10n25a21.html

[Ed raised a very interesting question, which could be destined to
remain a numismatic mystery.  Thanks to Karl Moulton we have some
additional background on the symbol's use in the U.S., but little
proof of where it came from originally, what it was called or why
it died out.  Perhaps someday an answer will turn up.

Meanwhile, researchers should keep an eye on Ed's blog for his
regular updates on numismatic literature being added to Google Book
search.  The latest include three titles in the BMC Greek series:

Vol. 16 Ionia, by Head, 1892.
Vol. 17 Troas, Aeolis and Lesbos, by Wroth, 1894.
Vol. 19 Lycia, Pamphylia and Pisidia, by Hill, 1897  -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

Google
 
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