Pete Smith's query on what to do with unpublished manuscripts prompted these responses fom readers.
I expect librarians from each of the major numismatic libraries will reply to Pete
Smith's plea in last week's E-Sylum. One would expect them to gush: Send those
unpublished manuscripts to my library, we will gladly accept these at our
But there is a bigger problem here. Manuscripts are the tip of the exposed iceberg.
What isn't seen and supports those manuscripts - and wasn't mentioned by Pete last
week - is a much larger volume: the research papers, photographs, photocopies, news
clippings, and tons of notes. Add to that now computer files and discs.
So the key to all this in one word is SPACE. Does the institution have the space to
acquire more material? Also does the institution have the PERSONNEL to catalog,
archive and conserve such material? Otherwise if it sits in dead storage it is not
of much use to anyone.
Here are some tips to numismatic researcher-writers:
1. Organize your material. Use any physical format you are comfortable with, but
organize. Use plenty of cover sheets and summaries or abstracts.
2. Keep related material together. Put it in notebooks or in file folders and
folders in expandable files or boxes.
3. It is somewhat useful to put dates on these. If you have written several drafts,
this will help identify the latest version, for example.
4. Contact a library of your choice before you die, ask first if they will accept
it, give a general description, how much space it occupies. Ask how they plan to
catalog, conserve and make available your material to other scholars.
5. Put explicit instructions in your will and let family members know of this
explicit disposition desire on your part.
6. If you feel your "papers" are of such volume, scholarly value and importance that
they have a monetary value, spell out explicit instructions. These can include such
plan as to hold a closed auction of say, three or four institutions of your choice,
and let them bid on your "papers." Highest bidder wins with the money to go to
7. Or you may decide to start deaccessioning your papers by gift to a chosen
institution at any time, before you die. Downsizing has some decided advantage,
gives you more room to create more documents, papers, manuscripts!
I have a handful of horror stories of the entire life work of both authors - and
artists who I have worked with - where their entire estates were destroyed. Perhaps
I will relate these next week in The E-Sylum.
But allow me to give a pitch for a new museum. Name and location still a top secret.
But it will be concerned with numismatic technology - how coins and medals are made
and have been made for all time. I am involved since this is my strong interest in
We would welcome any papers, manuscripts - published or unpublished - research
material and such to be housed in this museum. Contact me. I will gush over how
this will be the best such institution in the world to house your material forever
and make the best use of it. Also I am interested in such material on medals and
medallic art. firstname.lastname@example.org
By all means, don't let good information disappear!!!
The issue is only one of money. If you have information and you don't need/care to make money off it
(for that matter, how many numismatic specialty books actually make any money?), just self-publish
in electronic form and make it available on the Internet.
Sending it to a library will just get it lost in storage and probably never even cataloged.
Remember the end of "Raiders of the Lost Ark?" But any document can easily be converted to PDF
and distributed electronically. Club websites (larger clubs like NBS or ANA) could serve as
repositories for such information that could be freely made available to members.
Isn't this already done on a general basis?