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V13 2010 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 36, September 5, 2010, Article 7

ANOTHER NOMINATION FOR THE WORST NUMISMATIC BOOK

Bill Rosenblum submitted this nomination in our discussion of "worst numismatic books." -Editor

To my way of thinking the worst numismatic book ever printed is The History of Coins and Symbols in Ancient Israel by Wolf Wirgin and Siegfreid Mandel (New York: Exposition Press, 1958). Dennis Kroh in his Ancient Coin Reference Reviews gave it a minus 3 stars and said that both the text and plates were horrible. He said "if you have it already, throw it away".

Paul Federbush in a review of it in The Shekel (XII, 1, p.34) says that "the book seems to have been written with the primary objective to shock the reader" and "In this it succeeds." Among the theories put out by Wirgin and Mandel are: 1) the bronze coins of Alexander Jannadus are really coins of Alexander the Great, 2) the years on Jewish War Shekels do not refer to the Revolt but to the seven year Shmita cycle, (according to the Torah every seven years agricultural land is left to fallow), 3) Bar Kochba coins are from Herod the Great and 4) symbols such as the palm tree, anchor, cornucopia, pomegranate etc., are actually sexual symbols, 5) the silver shekel is a natural progression of an Aes Graves, 6) The undated Bar Kochba coins were struck in year one and the ones that say "year one" are from year two. And so on.

I do have the book but I didn't buy it. It came from Dad who was (still is) a numismatist but did not know ancient coins. So I can't throw it away, but today is the first day I've looked at it in 15 or 20 years. I actually met one of the authors at a Denver, Colorado show in the 1970's. At the time I was just learning about ancient Jewish coins and that 15 minute conversation set my learning process back quite a number of years.

I think all other books are vying for 2nd place.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NOMINATIONS FOR THE WORST NUMISMATIC BOOK (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n35a06.html)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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