The E-Sylum:  Volume 6, Number 14, April 6, 2003, Article 10


  David Lange writes: "I've never found anything of value inside
  a book, other than the information it contained, but I have had
  some interesting finds with the coin albums I collect.  I go
  through whatever stock of old albums a dealer may have for
  sale at a show or in his shop, and it's not unusual to find a few
  lingering coins within albums that the dealer was certain were
  empty. Since my interest is in the albums alone, I always
  inform him of the find and offer to remove the coins.

  Even then, metal discs may be lurking unseen.  I once dropped
  a National brand album page for two-cent and three-cent
  pieces that I'd acquired a few years earlier. After reassuring
  myself that the corners had not been bent, I was surprised to
  discover three silver trimes projecting partway into their
  respective holes. So thin were these worn coins that they had
  slipped between the cardboard and the paper covering,
  escaping notice until the sudden jolt of hitting the floor
  dislodged them from their seclusion."

  George Kolbe writes: "Another great issue.  Over the years I
  have found a number of unusual things in books, though it is
  not a common occurrence. Thin coins, including gold ones,
  currency from many countries and eras,  and pressed plants
  and flowers are among the objects discovered. When items
  of value have been found in books sent for auction, they have
  been promptly returned to the consignor. When encountered
  in books purchased outright, disposition has varied with the
  circumstances.  Once, the seller of a very large library called
  to inquire if a very rare postage stamp had been found in one
  of his volumes. I did not find it but would have felt duty bound
  to return it if I had.  If indeed it was present in one of the
  volumes, there was a very lucky buyer.

  Perhaps the most memorable item ever found was in a nice
  library purchased years ago from a collector living alone in a
  remote town in the California desert.  It was a letter to his then
  wife complaining about the paucity of their love life. It took
  little time to determine that it was not going to be returned,
  and it quickly found its way to the circular file.

  A story about John Selden, the seventeenth century British
  scholar and numismatic author, also touches on the topic.
  Selden  used his spectacles as bookmarks, and apparently
  often forgot that he had done so.  His library was left to the
  Bodleian Library at Oxford, and when the books were
  examined by the library staff, dozens of pairs of his spectacles
  were found therein."

  Our discussion of numismatic literature deals led into a
  discussion of the larger area of numismatic transactions.  Dick
  Johnson wrote:  "When someone offers you an item in your
  specialty and it is mispriced, what do you do? Does it matter
  if this person is a professional dealer or a lay person?"

  In response, Denis Loring writes: "My personal rules are as

  Seller a professional dealer simply offering me material:
  caveat vendor.  If I can cherrypick a rare variety or an
  undergraded coin, good for me. Exception: if it's someone
  I've done extensive business with over time, I'll tell him what
  he's got, confident we'll work something out.

  Seller a lay person who has priced material or asks me for
  an offer, not knowing my specialty:  try to find a middle
  ground between ripping the person off and paying full price.

  ANYONE, whether a novice or a pro, who asks me:
  "Denis, you're a large cent specialist, are there any rare
  varieties here?":  My offer is this: I provide attribution and fair
  value gratis, and I get first refusal at a fair price for any good
  ones I find.  Especially to a lay person, I bend over backwards
  to explain to him exactly what he has and how it's valued."

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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