This week in his Private Library blog, Larry Mitchell published a series titled Collecting Numismatic Books. Below are a few excerpts. Larry authored the Numismatic Bibliomania Society's online numismatic bibliography, which he notes in his blog is now in Wiki format on our new web site. -Editor Our second case study looks at building a private library around an avocation, a hobby that used to be quite popular, though anecdotal evidence suggests that its popularity, like that of many other hobbies of an older generation, is on the decline. That hobby is numismatics:
We suggested in a previous post that most folks probably would find collecting numismatic books to be a bit more "obscure" than collecting something like romance fiction. That is because most people do not realize just how extensive the literature of numismatics is, nor do they realize just how far back such literature began.
In fact, the first known numismatic book, De Asse et Partibus Eius, "a scientific study of Roman metrology and coinage written by Guillaume Budé in 1514," was published only 60 years after Gutenberg first introduced printing from movable metal type to western Europe. And a recent publication, Christian Dekesel's A Bibliography of 16th Century Numismatic Books, finds that some 1148 individual numismatic titles were published during the 86 years after Budé.
Numismatic books perform a variety of functions: they authenticate; they differentiate; they historicize. Which is to say, they help determine whether or not a particular numismatic item is genuine or fake (counterfeit); they help determine in what way(s) a particular numismatic item is different from a similar numismatic item; and they place the production of particular numismatic items within a specific historical context. When such books are well illustrated and attractively printed and bound, they also stimulate one's aesthetic sensibilities.
Just as numismatic books perform a variety of functions, so do people collect numismatic books for a variety of reasons, At the risk of painting with an overly broad brush, numismatic books usually are collected for personal, professional or academic reasons (and sometimes for all three).
In 1999, your blogger began to create for the NBS a checklist of important titles in various numismatic specialties that would update Clain-Stefanelli. Time and other constraints made it impossible to finish the task, though the few components that were published now form the basis of the NBS Numismatic Bibliography. Thankfully, this bibliography is now being published as a wiki so anyone can update it.
Hopefully, this eventually will lead to a checklist that is both comprehensive and current (it presently does not cover U.S. numismatic literature at all; nor does it cover articles in periodicals or journals, which is where original numismatic research often first appears; nor does it cover anything not in the English language; and the last time your blogger updated it was in 2005).
The really comprehensive bibliographies for numismatic book collectors have taken a turn in recent years toward specific specialties. In addition to the two Dekesel bibliographies mentioned in our post of April 29, two especially notable such bibliographies are the recently published Canadian Numismatic Bibliography and W. E. Daehn's Ancient Greek Numismatics, A Guide to Reading and Research: A Bibliography of Works Written in English with Summaries of Their Contents.
With titles like the above at hand, the individual building a private library of numismatic books should be well on his or her way to putting together an enviable collection....
To read the complete blog posts, see:
The Private Library: Collecting Numismatic Books (Part I)
The Private Library: Collecting Numismatic Books (Part II)
The Private Library: Collecting Numismatic Books (Part III)
The Private Library: Collecting Numismatic Books (Part IV)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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