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The E-Sylum: Volume 3, Number 23, June 4, 2000, Article 7


Doug Owens writes:

"I have enjoyed your Monday morning e-mail missives so much that I have joined NBS and look forward to obtaining a set of back issues of the Asylum.

I am a relative newcomer to coins and numismatic books. I would really enjoy a discussion by you and your readers of their favorite numismatic books. I have a limited budget and often think that my collecting dollar goes further with a book than with the coins themselves.

I enjoy books with excellent photography (e.g. Hoberman, "The Art of Coins and Their Photography" - this book has the most spectacular color photography imaginable, and constitutes a virtual coin collection in itself). Other books with great photos are Kent-Hirmer "Roman Coins", Kraay-Hirmer, "Greek Coins", and a newly published book on the Wine and Coins of Ancient Greece).

I like books on art and coinage, and books with narrative description as opposed to catalogue-type books (such as "The Splendid Shilling", Sutherland's "Art of Coinage", Anthony's "Collecting Greek Coins", "Coins and Christianity", Bastien's "The Coin Collectors", and Berry's "Numismatic Biography").

Other books I have and enjoy are Vermuele's "Numismatic Art in America" and Seltman's "Masterpieces of Greek Coinage".

I would appreciate any advice you and your readers may have along these lines, and also would like to hear from others what they like to collect and why, as well as recommendations for particular books."

Mr. Owen is certainly a very well-read newcomer, and there's not a book among his list that I wouldn't heartily recommend to others. While I buy and hold innumerable books and periodicals for reference, the ones I cherish most are those which provide a good read.

Three titles I always recommend are Carothers, "Fractional Money", Willem's "The United States Trade Dollar", and "The Fantastic 1804 Dollar" by Newman and Bressett. These are all on U.S. coinage, but that's my collecting bias. The Carothers book should be required reading for any student of American numismatics - it lays out the history, economics and politics of small change in a very readable and informative fashion. The Willem book does the same for a single series - the Trade Dollar, and the Newman-Bressett book does it for a single coin. The research, scholarship, and numismatic detective work in these books set a standard for those which followed.

The Carothers and Willem books have been reprinted. The Newman-Bressett book is long out of print, but it is relatively common, and easier to obtain than the more comprehensive (and also out-of-print) Encyclopedia of U.S. Silver Dollars by Q. David Bowers.

To prove how nuts I am about these books, I've accumulated multiple copies of the original editions, all either signed by the authors or inscribed by famous numismatists to other collectors. I'm not the first to recommend them, and won't be the last. So - what titles do our E-Sylum readers recommend?

Wayne Homren, Editor

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Content presented in The E-Sylum is not necessarily researched or independently fact-checked, and views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.

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