Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker published an article in CoinWeek Friday that gave a nice shout-out to The E-Sylum. Thanks! The admiration is mutual - CoinWeek is one of the best online numismatic publications around, with original, interesting, and sometimes thought-provoking content.
*For those of you who don’t know, Wayne Homren is the editor of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society’s weekly e-publication, the E-Sylum, which is always chock-full of fascinating information and reader commentary. Visit http://www.coinbooks.org/esylum/index.html for more information.
First of all, thank you for the work you do every week. Hubert and I are big fans of your eclectic, almost omnivorous newsletter. The E-Sylum is a frequent source of inspiration, constantly pointing out fruitful new avenues for us and our writing. Also, we collect books on coins just as avidly as we collect the coins themselves. So we were thrilled – THRILLED – at the handful of recent mentions and excerpts we’ve garnered.
Predictably, this inspired us to do even more thinking on the topics we’d already addressed. And before we get to the crux of our piece, let’s just say that there must be something in the air regarding the legalization of gold and gold-related numismatic collectibles. No sooner had we readied the Herb Hicks article for submission to Coinweek but the E-Sylum featured a bit on Grover Criswell and his efforts to legalize gold medallions. Maybe we should go for the trifecta and write a piece on James Blanchard?
Anyway, back to that crux. In the February 24, 2013 issue of the E-Sylum, you included an excerpt from our then-recent piece on Anthony Swiatek’s 1981 volume on classic commemoratives (“Booker T. On the Tarmac: A Story about First Coinvestors”). That excerpt really made us feel like we were on to something. We don’t care who knows it – validation is nice.
The CoinWeek article discussed some of the blatant marketing promotion text inserted into Swiatek's manuscript by publisher Stanley Apfelbaum. I wrote: I am shocked - SHOCKED - to discover marketing going on in the coin business!!
In this article, Morgan and Walker wonder how a book with such a blatant commercial focus could win a hobby award.
We have no doubt that experienced and sophisticated collectors aren’t surprised in the least by the blatant promotion that exists in such books as Swiatek and Breen’s commemorative opus. Modern collectors also have the benefit of hindsight and can see the far-off price predictions in that volume for what they are: hopelessly detached from current levels. Mind you, some of these projections were actually met before the commemorative bubble burst, so we’re not indicting the authors and publishers on those grounds, but one thing sticks in our craw. The Encyclopedia won the 1981 Numismatic Literary Guild award.
As a hobby, are we so jaded and cynical that such self-promotion in what advertises itself as a reference book is okay? Is it acceptable that such things are ignored by institutions within the hobby? Does everyone kind of assume that collectors are all on the same level, and can figure things out for themselves? Or do we assume that the gullible and less-experienced among us deserve to be taken in, and that maybe they’ll know better next time?
A book can be quite useful despite marketing content or emphasis. I’m not sure I’d be so hard on NLG for praising it, but Morgan and Walker raise a valid question. I remember being pleased to get my copy of the book, and learning a lot about the U.S. Commemorative series from it, despite the odd style and occasional marketing spew. I haven't seen Swiatek's new 2012 book, but would welcome a reader's review of it. Thanks again to Morgan and Walker for their kind words about The E-Sylum.
To read the complete article, see:
An Open Letter to Wayne Homren
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
FIRST COINVESTORS AND THE SWIATEK-BREEN COMMEMORATIVE BOOK
Wayne Homren, Editor
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