Dave Hirt writes:
I am away from home right now, but saw thru the Internet that I had successful bids in all four recent numismatic literature sales. I will have some treasures awaiting me when I return home.
Here is another story of cutting up numismatic literature. This one could well be called a tragedy. I first started collecting coins in the late 1940's when on my paper route, people would sometimes pay me with Barber coins and Liberty Head nickels. My first numismatic book, purchased a few years later, was the Red Book, 5th edition.
About 1953 or 54 in my high school English class, I had to write a paper. I decided to write on coin collecting. By that time I had purchased a 6th edition Red Book, so I cut plates from my 5th edition to illustrate my paper. At the time the cut up edition was only one that had been replaced with an updated one.
Years later when I started collecting numismatic literature, I realized what a terrible thing I had done. I had picked just about the scarcest Red Book. After all these years I still have that mutilated book.
Ouch! That hurts! (or should we say it Hirts?) The 2010 Red Book values copies of the 5th edition from $130 (VG) to $600 (VF), with higher conditions unpriced and noted as commanding a substantial premium. -Editor
Bob Knepper writes:
The E-Sylum, June 14, Vol 12, #24 had comments by you and Bruce Smith about cutting up numismatic literature. I agree concerning books, but what does one do with wonderful auction catalogs, mostly ancient and foreign, when eventually there are too many to store? It's difficult to even remember where to look for specific info when needed.
I offered some of the catalogs of ancients to the head of the ancient history department at the local university and he was not interested, either for his department or for the school library.
A few years ago I visited the local coin clubs and they were polite but not much interested in non-US coins.
A friend-curator of a European museum collection said he would like to have them but the postage is prohibitive and the weight would exceed our baggage allowance on our intermittent trips.
Considered auctioning them, eBay or other, but again the postage is apparently more than people are willing to pay.
My solution, so far, is to keep certain auction series that cover my old German specialty with a computer index of where to look, plus cutting and filing pictures of coins not pictured in my reference books. One advantage is that I learn about the many variations which aren't shown, often not even mentioned, in the reference books. Also I sometimes see the same coin (same flaw or ?) in multiple auctions.
Any other/better solutions?
Well, it certainly is a problem - the market is thin for most recent catalogs. That may change a bit as fewer copies are printed and distributed, narrowing the supply.
Bob's point about the lack of a universal lot index is right on the money. I'm sure that a handful of top catalogers do compile their own indexes to better material in recent sales, but these are their trade secrets, not to be shared with others. It would be a worthwhile project for a numismatic institution library to take on, but where would the funding come from? It would be a huge (but hugely valuable) undertaking. -Editor
Wayne Homren, Editor
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