Dick Johnson submitted these thoughts on Pete Smith's recent update to his American Numismatic Biographies book, published online at the Numismatic Bibliomania Society web site.
Reacting to the announcement in last week's E-Sylum I took a test drive in Pete Smith's new databank now on the Internet. I became addicted. I couldn't stop looking up famous and not-so-famous personalities in the numismatic field.
Admittedly I had Pete's 1992 printed version on my desk the week before and had not reshelved it yet. Thus I had a chance to compare the two. There were 1,400 named entries in 1992. Now on the Internet the number is over 1,700. I had guessed there are on average between six and seven entries per page where I would have guessed 1,800. The printed version had 252 pages. There are 270 pages on the Internet (all bear page number "1" but Pete tells me this will be corrected in the next update).
Who's in? Who's out? The printed version had ten pages of introductory matter that is not on the Internet. That is where Pete spelled out his criteria for inclusion. He tells me he is still holding to these standards: U.S. Treasury and Mint officials. Designers, engravers and sculptors of U.S. coins and medals struck by the Mint. People who have appeared on U.S. coins and Mint medals. These are all included.
Then there are the authors. Bless them. Authors never receive enough credit in print. Most worthwhile numismatic books are a labor of love and never earn their authors a sufficient return for the hours spent researching and writing. Pete has made extreme efforts to learn the facts about authors of every major book in the numismatic field, all the way back to Montroville Wilson Dickeson "Author (b 1813 d.4/4/1882)."
Next are the officers in numismatic organizations. Presidents, yes. Vice presidents, no (unless they accomplished something else).
Collectors are in if they formed a major collection, or it has sold in a major auction. If you are a collector and hiding your collection in a safe deposit box and not telling anyone, how is Pete to know about you?
You won't make Pete's list if you have written only a single article in the field. Likewise collectors or authors of foreign numismatics are not included.
Major dealers are in. Vest-pocket dealers need not apply. You really have to have done something -- made a significant accomplishment in the numismatic field -- to be listed in American Numismatic Biographies.
Already it is being called "ANB." It's ANB on NBS. The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is sponsoring this wonderful resource on their website.
E-mails did not exist prior to 1992 for Pete's first version. He had to mail out questionnaires or interview people in person (at coin shows or by phone). Now he gathers a great deal of facts on people by e-mail.
He maintains a suspense file, what he calls "place holder," for people whose listing and biographical data he has decided to include but is still gathering facts. [Wikipedia calls this a "sandbox."] This activity goes on constantly.
Just since last week's announcement Pete has added two new entries. Additions, and, of course, corrections, will go on forever. As for corrections "Herman" MacNeil's name in the 1992 version now bears the correct "Hermon" and James Fraser's middle name is now "Earle."
But he is looking for a lot of living numismatists to come forward with their personal bio facts.
For numismatic writers Pete has provided a fantastic useful resource. It is ideal for fact checking and recovering forgotten facts. Look it up. It is easy to click on and enter a name or keyword.
You won't be able to copy or print any text. But you can read a great deal of very useful information in the numismatic field.
Pete is to be commended for providing this wonderful resource. I, for one, will be using it often.
As Dick noted, Pete has received several updates and new entries this week. Please take a look and if you're listed, send in any updates. If your entry is perfect, let him know that, too. If someone you feel is an important contributor to American numismatics isn't listed, please let him know, and provide what biographical facts you can.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
SMITH'S AMERICAN NUMISMATIC BIOGRAPHIES AVAILABLE ON NBS WEB SITE
To view Pete Smith's American Numismatic Biographies, see:
Wayne Homren, Editor
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