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V16 2013 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 16, Number 38, September 15, 2013, Article 18

LOTS FROM THE KOLBE-FANNING SALE #130: FISHER, MEHL'S MONTHLY

At my request Maria Fanning forwarded a couple more lot descriptions from the firm's upcoming sale #130 (closing September 26th). Thanks! -Editor

Fisher, Description of American Medals Mehl's Numismatic Monthly

Lot 459: Fisher's Description of American Medals
Fisher, J. Francis. DESCRIPTION OF AMERICAN MEDALS. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Third Series, Vol. VI. Boston: American Stationers’ Company, 1837. 8vo, later blue cloth, gilt. (4), 300 pages. [Fisher’s article comprises pages 286 to 293.] Old library stamp; some light discoloration to extremities. Near fine. (2250.00)

One of the landmarks of early U.S. numismatic literature, Joshua Francis Fisher’s work is only the second article published in the United States discussing coins or medals from the point of view of a numismatist. While a number of publications predate this and James Mease’s 1821 “Description of Some of the Medals Struck in Relation to Important Events in North America” (generally regarded as the first truly numismatic article published in this country), those early publications were written for merchants, bankers, lawyers, politicians and other people who dealt with monetary issues on a daily basis. Works had not been written from the point of view of one who studies coins and medals.

Both Fisher’s and Mease’s articles are extremely rare. The article itself is far from being a rehashing of Mease’s previous work: in fact, they list only one medal in common: the “Washington before Boston” medal of the Comitia Americana series. Fisher describes 14 Washington medals, 5 Franklin medals, one each depicting Jefferson and Benjamin Rush, 3 medals of the Revolution and 14 earlier colonial medals including the very rare Lord and Lady Baltimore medal. Fisher’s article is more concerned with colonial-era medals than Mease’s, which mostly describes the Comitia Americana series and related medals. Attinelli 111.

Lot 516: Mehl's Numismatic Monthly
Mehl, B. Max [publisher]. MEHL’S NUMISMATIC MONTHLY. Vols. I–X (1910–19). Fort Worth: B. Max Mehl. Ten volumes, complete. 8vo, original printed card covers; Vol. IV neatly bound in brown cloth, gilt. 1756 pages; numerous halftone text illustrations of coins; portraits of famous American and Canadian numismatists, etc. Some duplicates included. Occasional signs of wear; overall very good to fine. (1500.00)

An underrated source of information, Mehl’s Numismatic Monthly is especially rich with word sketches of turn of the century American numismatists, often accompanied by individual or group photographs. Also featured are short monographs on many unusual numismatic topics, including a wealth of data on Canadian numismatics.

Of Mehl and his Monthly, John Adams wrote: “The career of B. Max Mehl was an impossibility. He had at least three strikes against him: 1) he was an immigrant Jew in a then-gentile hobby; 2) he was located in Fort Worth, Texas, at a time when 95 percent of the business was done on the East Coast; and 3) Lilliputian in stature and colorless in terms of personality, he adopted a business plan that relied on creativity and promotion. Quite obviously, Mehl did not realize that he was licked before he started. He just knew that it was a lot more fun to sell coins than to sell shoes. From there, he took it one step at a time … in the formative years, what probably made the difference was Mehl’s Numismatic Monthly. Launched in January of 1908, the early volumes of the Monthly are easily the equal of The Numismatist, boasting original articles by such gifted writers as R.W. McLachlan, Edgar Adams, Howland Wood, George Blake, Dr. Eugene Courteau, J.W. Haseltine and Frank Stewart.”

For more information about the sale, see: www.numislit.com

Wayne Homren, Editor

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