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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 23, June 7, 2009, Article 8

BOOK REVIEW: THE NEIGHBORHOOD MINT: DAHLONEGA IN THE AGE OF JACKSON

Head The Neighborhood Mint 2009 In our April 26, 2009 issue (v12n17) we ran an announcement of the new edition of a classic book on the Dahlonega Mint, The Neighborhood Mint: Dahlonega In the Age of Jackson.

From the earlier E-Sylum article:
A second edition of the 1986 classic The Neighborhood Mint: Dahlonega in the Age of Jackson has been produced by Al Adams at Gold Rush Gallery, Inc. The new edition of the work by Sylvia Gailey Head and Elizabeth W. Etheridge includes new color photographs of coins produced at the Dahlonega Mint and the recently discovered photograph of the Dahlonega Mint.


Al kindly sent me a review copy and I spent some time getting reacquainted with this great book; I have the original edition on my shelves but frankly, hadn't opened it in years (my wife and kids have nudged numismatics far down the priority list).

There are some GREAT stories in here, all based on original source material in the National Archives and elsewhere. It's a delightful account of a misfit mint, plagued with construction problems and delays, beset with a dwindling local gold supply and suffering the ignominy of its high-quality coin output rarely entering circulation locally.

From the Preface:
The mint never served the purpose for which it was created. Although it coined more than $6 million in gold in its twenty-three year history, this was hardly enough to alleviate the nation's chronic shortage of coins... Gold rarely circulated in the area. It was much too valuable for that. The gold produced at the mint disappeared from the community almost as soon as it was issued. The people of Dahlonega used silver coins when they could get them, but most of the time they had only shinplasters, paper bank notes of uncertain value...

The Dahlonega Branch Mint cost far more to run than its meager production of gold coins warranted. It survived for almost a quarter century not because it was efficient or served any really useful purpose but because it was politically popular.


Below is the excellent Foreword to the Reprint Edition by Carl N. Lester. -Editor
I remember how much I enjoyed reading The Neighborhood Mint when it was published in 1986. For those who may be unfamiliar with the work, it is a very readable, meticulously documented account of the day-to-day operations of the United States Branch Mint in Dahlonega, Georgia. The book traces the mint's genesis in the minds of the local miners (following discovery of gold in Georgia in 1828) to the mint's legal authorization via the United States Congress in 1835.

Also covered are the mint's gold coinage years of 1838-1861 and its closure in 1861, brought on by the beginning of the Civil War. The treasure trove of information that forms the foundation of the book's research is the Correspondence of the Mint of the United States at Philadelphia with the Branch Mint at Dahlonega, Georgia, 1835-1861, obtained from the National Archives in Washington, D. C.

What makes The Neighborhood Mint so special are its flowing narrative, rich character studies of the mint personnel and townspeople of Dahlonega, and the ˇ°you are thereˇ± feeling that it imparts to the reader. One cannot help but gain a sympathetic understanding of the difficulties of the mint personnel, who were faced with all manner of uncertainty, both internal and external, not the least of which was the ever-changing political landscape. All of this is sure to delight history lovers, Dahlonega Mint aficionados, and anyone who likes a good story.

Gold Rush Gallery is having this volume reprinted because we feel that it is a very important historical work. At the same time, copies of this out-of-print book are extremely difficult to find in the numismatic and antiquarian literature markets. As the word ˇ°reprintˇ± implies, we have left the original text and photographs unchanged. However, with the authors' permissions, we have taken the liberty of adding four high quality plates, to make this reprint edition special in its own right.

The first plate is the only-known, full-view photograph of the Dahlonega Mint, discovered in October 1997. Many dedicated numismatists and historians had searched for this breath-taking image during the twentieth century. Plates two and three consist of color photographs of a complete nine-piece type set of Dahlonega gold coins, illustrating all of the major design types produced at this historic mint. Plate four is a drawing of a toggle-joint steam coining press, of the type used at Dahlonega. We hope that the reader enjoys this great book and that its reprinting will be a boon to present and future numismatists and historians.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NEW EDITION: THE NEIGHBORHOOD MINT: DAHLONEGA IN THE AGE OF JACKSON (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v12n17a09.html)



Wayne Homren, Editor

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