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The E-Sylum: Volume 3, Number 41, October 8, 2000, Article 10


In recent years, your editor acquired two books authored by U.S. Mint Director James Ross Snowden, who served from June 1853 to April 1861. Most U.S. bibliophiles are familiar with Snowden's books on the Mint Cabinet and Washington medals (printed in 1860 and 1861, respectively). But these two acquisitions are much less commonly seen, and it would be interesting to learn if other bibliophiles have copies.

The first is a small tract published in 1866, titled "The Coins of the Bible, and Its Money Terms." This copy is 16mo in size, 94pp, covered in raised green cloth with gilt lettering. It is the "enlarged edition." The first edition was published in 1864. In his foreword Snowden notes:

"A few years ago the writer made some remarks to a Sabbath-school with which he was connected, and exhibited specimens of some of the Coins mentioned in the Bible, namely, a denarius, or "penny;" a shekel, a silver stater, and a lepton, or "widow's mite." There was present on that occasion a clergyman, at whose request the writer prepared a series of articles on the same subject, which were published in the "Sabbath-School Visitor."

In compliance with the repeated request of the same gentleman, and other clergymen and laymen, the writer has arranged these articles, and with several additional chapters, and some introductory remarks, they are presented to the public in the present form.

As the articles were originally written for a Sabbath-School paper, so now, this little work is mainly intended to be used as a Sabbath-school book .The writer begs to express the hope its pages will give useful information to youthful inquirers after truth; and that the statements and tables herein presented, will be found valuable to all readers of the sacred Scriptures, into whose hands it may come, and thus advance the interests of our beloved Zion."

The book was published by "The Trustees of the Presbyterian Board of Publications" While scarce, the book is known, and is listed in the Sigler and Clain-Stephanelli bibliographies. George Kolbe reports that a copy appeared in his Sale 65, lot 260.

We'll save the second Snowden book for next week, and I'll be quite surprised if anyone can guess what it is. Hint: it's non-numismatic.

Wayne Homren, Editor

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