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The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 19, May 11, 2008, Article 7

BOOK REVIEWS: MEXICAN NUMISMATICS – A GUIDEBOOK OF ITS LITERATURE

[Two E-Sylum readers have submitted reviews of the new book
"Numismática Mexicana – Una Guía de su Literatura" (Mexican
Numismatics – A Guidebook of its Literature) by Christopher
Martin Bolton Morgan.  First up: Adrián González Salinas.
-Editor]

Numismática Mexicana – Una Guía de su Literatura
(Mexican Numismatics – A Guidebook of its Literature)
Author: Christopher Martin Bolton Morgan

First Edition, Mexico, D.F. 2008
Black Card Cover with Gold Stamped Titles
(1), 108 pages, no illustrations.
Language: Spanish
Length: 23.1 cms
Width: 18.8 cms
Thickness: 0.7 cms
Weight: 234 grams

After reading the book “Mexican Numismatics – A Guidebook
of its Literature” cover to cover and I consider that this
book fills a great hollow within Mexican Numismatics.

The content of the book follows a strict classification by
epoch or period in Mexican History since Aztecs (Pre-Columbian),
Spanish Kings through Republic, Empires and Modern Coins
(including the Revolutionary Period).

The periods can be summarized as follows: Introduction,
Pre-Columbian Epoch (…-1535) : 13 | Charles & Johanna Kings
(1536-1556) :29 1 Cobs Coinage (1556-1732) : 54, Pillars &
Busts (1732-1810) : 35 | Insurgency/Independence/Counter-Stamps
(1810-1822) : 61 | First Empire (Iturbide, 1822-1823) : 8 |
Republican Period (1823-1864, 1867-1897) : 46 | Second Empire
(Maximilian, 1864-1867) : 24 | Modern Coinage (1905-To Date)
: 30 | Coins and Bills of Mexican Revolution (1913-1917) : 56
| Banknotes : 57 | Medals & Proclamations : 72 | Tokens of
Mexico and Copper Coinage : 60 | History of Mexican Mints &
Banks : 145 | Dictionaries/ Encyclopedias/References : 7 |
Economic/Monetary/Political Mexican History : 58 |  Books
and Catalogues for the Aficionado: 53 | Notable Auction
Catalogues : 49 | Numismatic Collections/Expositions/
Exhibitions : 17 | General Works : 41

In summary, the book contains 915 Mexican Numismatic references
mainly from books, magazines, numismatic societies & associations
publications from Mexico, USA, Canada among others. Examples
of these publications are: The Numismatist, The Numismatic
Scrapbook Magazine, The Centinel, Plus Ultra, Plus Ultra Newsletter,
El Boletín (Numismático), Monedas (Puebla), The Coin Collector’s
Journal, The Canadian Antiquarian & Numismatic Journal, The
American Journal of Numismatics, International Bank Note Society
Journal, ANS’ Museum Notes, Numisma (Spain), USMexNA’s Journal
of Mexican Numismatics, Calcoin News, Memorias de la Academia
Mexicana de Estudios Numismáticos, Philippine Numismatic
Monographs, Numismatic Circular, Journal of International
Numismatics, Numismatic International Bulletin, Gaceta Numismática
(Spain), Barrilla, The Whitman Numismatic Journal, World Coin
News, The Asylum, COINage, Money Trend, TNA News, Mexican
Revolution Reporter, Berliner Blätter, The British Numismatic
Journal, Acta Numismática, TAMS Journal, The Medal Collector,
Coin & Medals News, The Canadian Numismatic Journal, LANSA,
Numismatické Listy, Coins Magazine, Numismática (Peru), The
Hispanic American Historical Review.

This guidebook follows the format of Elvira Clain-Stefanelli’s
book “Select Numismatic Bibliography” (1965) which only contains
33 Mexican publications. The Index details an astounding 127
different authors!

In some cases, this guidebook contains biographical information
about some famous authors; this valuable information is not
easy to obtain. Also, the guidebook details the editions of
the books when applies and, personal comments about rarity,
availability and anecdotes of specific books. Again, this
information is very rich to the reader.

In the introduction, Mr. Bolton recognizes that he omitted
other publications but I think that he included the main core
of all Mexican numismatic references.  I am completely certain
that Mr. Bolton invested a lot of time to complete this
guidebook.

Finally, I'd like to congratulate Mr. Bolton for his
extraordinary effort to publish a great, great book
about books.

[Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publications also submitted a
review. -Editor]

Christopher Bolton’s Numismatica Mexicana: Una Guia de su
Literatura (“Mexican Numismatics: A Guide to its Literature”;
copyright 2008) is an impressive and very useful work of
scholarship. Bolton opens the book with Aaron Feldman’s
famous quote: “Compra el libro antes de la moneda”—good
advice for anyone interested in Mexico’s nearly 500 years
of coinage. A guide such as this one, which documents more
than 900 resources, is valuable for both newcomer and
seasoned numismatist.

Bolton admits in his introduction that, Feldman notwithstanding,
his passion for books started some 10 years after he bought
his first Mexican coins. Guide books and catalogs expanded
his outlook beyond coinage of the 20th century, to earlier
eras, as well as to paper money, tokens, and medals.

After being bitten by the bibliophile bug, Bolton’s passion
was “incurable”—his rule became to buy at least one book
for every five coins. He writes, “The 915 references cited
in this bibliography represent, in my opinion, a good start
to organizing the available written material [on Mexican
numismatics].”

Numismatica Mexicana is perfectbound with an attractive
faux-leather softcover, with the title and author’s name
stamped in gold foil—reminiscent of Whitman’s line of “black
books” from the 1960s. Two versions are available: octavo
(7-1/2 x 9-1/8 inches) and quarto (8-3/8 x 10-3/4 inches).
The former is printed on both sides of each leaf, the latter
on recto only (“to allow collectors to make notes or add
any additional references I may have omitted,” says the
author).

What Bolton has compiled is more than just an alphabetical
listing of books and articles. He categorizes the 900-plus
works by numismatic epoch from pre-Conquest to the modern
day, each book according to its main focus (or to the first
epoch it covers). Dictionaries, auction catalogs, political
histories, and similar references are categorized in their
own sections, by content.

Bolton does not simply list authors, titles, and places and
dates of publication — for many of the works, he provides a
summary and analysis of their substance. This kind of annotated
bibliography offers valuable information for the researcher.

For example, recently in The E-Sylum editor Wayne Homren posed
the question, “So what are ‘Arras Tokens’?” In Numismatica
Mexicana Bolton lists several articles on arras, and synopsizes
their contents (i.e., “A list of 12 arras, but without substantial
information about their origins”; “Five more arras, but only
one is illustrated”; “Interesting article about the ‘coins’
used in Mexican weddings, with a list of 13 arras”).

Other helpful notes include whether the work is illustrated,
if it has an English translation, and if it was republished
elsewhere in whole or in part. Also, most sections conclude
with an “Also see,” directing the reader to related works in
other sections. (For example, researchers in the “Carlos y
Juana, 1536–1556” section are also referred to the auction
catalog section, No. 828, The Paul Karon Collection of 8
Escudos and Other Classic Latin American Coinage.) The book
concludes with a five-page index of authors linked to their
works within the bibliography.

Sections include: pre-Columbian to the Conquest; Charles and
Joanna, 1536–1556; cob coinage, 1556–1732; Pillar and Bust
coinage, 1732–1810; insurgency, independence, and countermarks,
1810–1822; First Empire (Iturbide), 1822–1833; Republic, 1823–
1864 and 1867–1897; Second Empire (Maximilian), 1864–1867;
modern money, 1905 to date; coins and bills of the Revolution,
1913–1917; paper money; proclamation and oath medals; fichas,
tlacos, pilones, and monedas de cobra; history of the Casas
de Moneda and Banca Mexicana; dictionaries, encyclopedias,
and reference works; economic, monetary, and political
histories of Mexico; books and catalogs for the aficionado;
catalogs of significant auctions; numismatic collections,
expositions, and exhibitions; and general works.

I should note that Numismatica Mexicana is written in Spanish,
and my citations in this review are translations of Bolton’s
text. English-language books and articles are listed by their
English titles, which in most cases offers sufficient guidance
to monolingual readers. On top of that, if you have a few years
of high-school or college Spanish, and a working knowledge of
“coin Spanish,” you’ll find the prose easy to follow.

With careful organization, thoughtful analysis, and considerable
scope, Christopher Bolton has done the numismatic community a
great service in this highly recommended book.

I would, however, offer several professional opinions on how
to improve the book for its next edition. One minor complaint
concerns the binding: the spine has no copy! When the book is
sitting spine-out on a shelf, you don’t know its title or
author’s name. It should be possible to fit at least the
title on both formats (definitely on the thicker-spined quarto).

Another observation: there are occasional stray marks, about
the size and shape of a hyphen, scattered about two or three
on every other page, sometimes within the text. This “chatter”
can be distracting. It’s hard to tell if the marks are from
the printing process (not likely, since the books were
published digitally), or perhaps artifacts from the Quark
(or other) software used for layout; either way, the glitches
are probably easily fixed.

On a nitpicky note, what Bolton calls an “introduction” is
technically a preface—its purpose is not to introduce the
subject matter of the book, but to explain the book’s mechanics
(why and how it was written), which it does engagingly and
very well.

>From a typographical perspective, the book exhibits the
occasional technical errors and inconsistencies often seen
in self-published (and sometimes in commercially published!)
works; in this case, they’re minor and don’t affect the
reader’s experience.

More serious (but not major flaws at all) are some
navigation-related weaknesses in the design: the layout
would benefit from navigational aids such as running heads
or feet that indicate the section (and possibly the book
numbers covered on that page); and the verso folios (page
numbers on left-hand pages) should be set flush outside,
not flush inside, so they’re easier to read while flipping
through the book. (The latter applies only to the octavo
format; in the quarto, the folios are centered at page
bottom.)

Again, these comments are meant to improve the first edition,
not condemn it. This is a book that deserves to be published
again and again in future editions, as its talented author
continues to add to it, to the benefit of numismatists
everywhere.

Author Christopher Bolton adds: "The cost of the book
(Quarto sized) is USD $45.00 plus USD $25.00 express
shipping (five days) to the US and Canada. However if
Asylum or E-Sylum members request the book I will ship
out copies at USD $55.00.

Orders in Mexico will cost USD $50.00 two day shipping
included. Other countries would have to be quoted on an
individual basis.

Copies may be ordered vía my E-mail: cbolton@prodigy.net.mx
and I can accept payment by international money order,
Paypal or cheque (US or Pound Sterling funds)."

[Many thanks to our reviewers for their efforts and to
the author for providing copies.  Congratulations on what
sounds like a very welcome work. -Editor]

 NEW BOOK: BIBLIOGRAPHY OF MEXICAN NUMISMATICS BY CHRISTOPHER BOLTON
 esylum_v11n13a06.html

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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