Dick Johnson submitted these thoughts on numismatic encyclopedias.
I sincerely appreciate Bruce W. Smith writing and listing 12 numismatic encyclopedias in last week's E-Sylum. Was his implication: Do we need another numismatic encyclopedia?
I was aware of these, of course. In fact I list 46 numismatic dictionaries and encyclopedias in by bibliography and have consulted most of these. This in addition to dozens and dozens of glossaries. Plus reading and working in the field for fifty years.
What Bruce overlooked, perhaps, was the last word in the name "Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology." My encyclopedia contains entries on the Technology of the field -- how coins and medals are designed, made, collected, cataloged and curated.
What existing numismatic encyclopedias, including Bruce's simplistic list of 12, concentrate on are coin names and denominations. Albert Frey's classic work, for example, contains 4,111 terms, with an extremely high percentage of these coin names. In fact, the last word is in his title, "Dictionary of Numismatic Names."
A work I have found most exhaustive is in German, "Worterbuch der Munzkunde" edited by Fredrich von Schroetter, with the help of five contributors, published in 1930 (reprinted by Argonaut 1970). I had two copies in my library. I say "had" as I lent one copy to Walter Breen. I have mentioned this in The E-Sylum before (vol 10, no 18, art 16) because the book is distinctive in a red binding. My other copy is in paper binding, as issued, still on my shelf.
You won't find 4,111 names in my encyclopedia. I cover the field from a technical direction. I define and explain the terms coin and medal makers use. These often differ from those used by numismatists and collectors. For example medal makers call "insert die" for a supplemental part of a die used to create raised lettering to customize a long run of medals. Collectors were calling this a "compound die" -- among other mistaken terms -- without the knowledge of correct Technical Term.
My encyclopedia will be different from all others. I am not plowing the same ground as all those other dictionary and encyclopedia writers. My encyclopedia will answer technical questions, like "how did they do that, and what do they call it?"
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
ON NUMISMATIC ENCYCLOPEDIAS
Wayne Homren, Editor
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