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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 48, November 29, 2009, Article 3

BOOK REVIEW: GOBRECHT DOLLARS ILLUSTRATED BY THE COLLECTION OF JULIUS KOREIN

Mark Van Winkle forwarded the following press release about his new book on Gobrecht Dollars. The book includes research and essays contributed by Mike Carboneau, Jim Gray, John Dannreuther, Saul Teichman and others. -Editor

Van Winkle, Gobrecht Dollars Heritage Auctions releases the most complete survey of Gobrecht Dollars to date, illustrated by the collection of Julius Korein, M.D.

Edited by Heritage Chief Cataloger Mark VanWinkle, with essays by Michael L. Carboneau, James C. Gray, John Dannreuther and Saul Teichman

Few varieties of U.S. coinage have been the subject of as much speculation, controversy and admiration as Gobrecht dollars.

Now Heritage Auction Galleries and Ivy Press have released the 136-page book Gobrecht Dollars, the most thorough review to date of the existing scholarship on these much sought-after U.S. coins.

"This reference book, the result of five-and-a-half-years of work, is intended for the general numismatist that is looking for a deeper understanding of these fascinating coins," said Mark Van Winkle, editor of the tome and Chief Cataloger at Heritage Auctions. "It gathers together the diverse threads of the Gobrecht story without delving into the more speculative areas of die markers and their possible consequence for establishing emission sequences."

The overriding question of emission sequences is an area that is, and has been, under investigation for some time and, it is reasoned, will eventually lead to a generally accepted striking order.

"Without a doubt this book is important to a wide range of numismatists, as this information has never been presented together so thoroughly," said Van Winkle. "It is not, however, the last word on this fascinating series."

The book brings together all the best known writings on Gobrecht dollars from the past 20 years and is based upon a series of three articles written by Jim Gray and Mike Carboneau in 1991, 2000, and 2001 and expounded upon by those two writers, along with scholarship by Van Winkle, John Dannreuther and Saul Teichman. The book brings together the most up-to-date findings about Gobrecht dollars based on the coins themselves as primary sources, rather than secondary sources (some of which date to 1860).

"Dannreuther makes a special contribution," said Van Winkle, "with his articles dealing with the die clash line on the reverse of some 1836 dollars, previously thought to be a die scratch, as well as his discovery of the effacement of Gobrecht's name from the post-1836 dies."

What many numismatists will find particularly spectacular about Gobrecht Dollars are the numerous illustrations, more than 100 in all, ranging from glorious full color to detailed black and white images. The spectacular collection of the late Dr. Julius Korein, now permanently impounded in the ANS, has detailed, up-to-date information on each design variant, including alignment, mintage, rarity, weight, pedigree and description.

Each of the 25 Gobrecht issues (including splashers) have been expertly photographed in detail, providing collectors with their best look yet at most every variant, except one: the Judd-109, which, for the purposes of this book, was compiled as a composite photo. More than likely the Judd-109 is unique and hasn't been seen since the late 1960s.

"We're very excited to get this book into the hands of numismatists at all levels of the hobby," said Van Winkle," and we look forward to new findings as research continues on these fascinating coins."

Mark kindly sent me a copy of the book with a nice inscription. It arrived the day after Thanksgiving, and was a delight to review. It's a large format 135-page hardcover on glossy paper, illustrated with hundreds of high-quality color images. It has a beautiful color dustjacket illustrating an 1836 dollar.

Although the book's subject is a single coin series, its coverage is far from narrow. In fact, its range is broad enough that it reminds me of what I like most about The E-Sylum. It covers its subject from a broad range of perspectives, taking a holistic soup-to-nuts view of its numismatic topic, encompassing not only the coins themselves, but coinage technology, the artists, art and art history, patterns, medals, collectors and collecting, and yes, even numismatic literature - see Jim Gray's Review of Books, Articles, and Other Sources Regarding Gobrecht Dollars.

If you've read my book reviews before, you'll know I have a predilection for taking in books back to front. I guess for me, it's important that a book not peter out, but end with a bang. Attention even to the back of the book indicates attention to detail throughout, and Van Winkle's book didn't disappoint.

The final section is a coin-by-coin inventory of the Korein collection, exactly what I would expect to see in such a book. The penultimate section is the aforementioned Jim Gray essay on the literature of Gobrecht Dollars. The twenty-five entries spanning 1860 to date are not only a bibliophiles delight, but a solid indication that the authors have done their homework on the subject.

I was also delighted to see Mark's brief section From the Logbook of George J. Eckfeldt, a tantalizing view into a journal now owned by Alan Meghrig. Forman of the coining room at the Philadelphia Mint from 1830 to 1860, Eckfeldt kept a log recording which coins and medals were struck on which days.

The book opens with a very accessible explanation of the four different die alignments found on the Gobrecht dollars - the four possible combinations of coin and medal turn with the reverse eagle flying level or upward. See the great illustration (below) of alignments I, II, and III.

Next up is a welcome reprint of a classic article by the late Elvira Clain-Stefanelli, first published in the American Numismatic Association Centennial Anthology in 1991. From the Drawingboard of a Coin-Engraver: Sketches by Christian Gobrecht for the Coinage of 1826-1839 illustrates some fifty sketches and other artworks related to the coins.

from Van Winkle, Gobrecht Dollars from Van Winkle, Gobrecht Dollars


I couldn't locate a listing for the book on the Heritage web site, but it may not have been posted yet. Keep an eye out for the book - it's one I recommend for all numismatists regardless of their specific collecting interests. -Editor

To visit the Heritage Auctions web site, see: www.ha.com

Wayne Homren, Editor

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