Dick Johnson submitted the following thoughts on the dismemberment of numismatic literature. -Editor I thought I was the only one who cut up numismatic books. Reading in last week's E-Sylum we learned of similar experiences by Ray Williams and, when he was alive, by Ken Lowe. But, perhaps, for different reasons.
As a teenager, I read Albert Frey's Numismatic Dictionary. I adored that book. I surmised that by reading this I could learn the "language of numismatics." I went one step further. I bought two additional copies, tore off the cloth covers and cut the pages apart.
I had a little home print shop, where I bought paper wholesale. I bought sheets of Bristol card stock in five or six colors, cut these into 4 by 6 inch size and made a card file. I cut apart each term and definition from those loose pages of Frey's dictionary and pasted down those printed entries on these index cards.
I color-coded the definitions. Green obviously was for paper money terms, pink for coin denominations -- there were move of these in Frey than any other category -- blue was for technical terms, and salmon I believe was for odd and curious money. White was for non-numismatic terms, Frey included some economic terms as well.
My intent was -- even as a teenager -- to study these cards and add definitions from other sources. I even printed a line at the bottom of the card as a "source line" where I found the definition. I located a couple of other numismatic books with Glossaries and copied these entries on the color-coded cards. Then I went off to college and this project was set aside.
The technology blue cards were my favorite. These were the terms real numismatists used. [Little did I realize then that exercise was to spur me into compiling a list of numismatic terms, mostly technical, sixty years later, now on computer and number at present 1,834.]
Glossaries I have since learned are uneven. These are snapshots of numismatic terminology mostly for newcomers to learn the meaning of unfamiliar terms. The best is found in Breen's Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins. The worst are on the internet today. These often have misinformation, compiled by coin enthusiasts without any real technical understanding of what they are writing about. They heard the term and they think they know what it means, often incorrect.
Well, I am still cutting apart numismatic books. Earlier this year I bought a second copy of Katie Jaeger's Guide Book of United States Tokens and Medals. I wanted to annotate my copy, but Whitman didn't leave much room in the margin for my marginalia notes. I often talk back to authors, expressing agreement or disagreement with their statements. Or add other comments, sometimes indicating animal excrement, "What a bunch of B.S." I must state there is none of that, however, in Katie's tome.
I had a local printer guillotine the glued spine off this paper-covered book. Now I have 286 loose pages that I can photocopy in color on pre-holed 3-ring notebook paper. I can annotate to my heart's content. And gather these up in a notebook.
Trouble is I have 286 loose pages. Any body got a box that just fits a Whitman Red Book series?
Wayne Homren, Editor
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