The E-Sylum:  Volume 8, Number 32, July 24, 2005, Article 13


David Lange writes: "A second new book is actually a very
long term project that it is finally seeing print. "History of the
U. S. Mint and Its Coinage" is a work that began ten years
ago as an ANA correspondence course commissioned of
me by then ANA Education Director James Taylor. I was to
write the history chapters, and J. T. Stanton would write
chapters about current Mint technology and variety coins.
I submitted the first draft of my history to James near the end
of 1995, and it kicked around his office for a couple years,
while we awaited J. T.'s submission. When it became evident
that this was not to be, my portion of the project became a
stand-alone item. I continued to refine it, adding more material
to justify a separate publication. Before it could be published,
however, Taylor left the ANA, and it went forgotten until Gail
Baker took over as his replacement and began looking through
old files. Gail was excited with the prospect of publishing it,
and she asked me to add new chapters, sidebars, etc, and I
began selecting images from NGC's archive of Photo Proof
coins. The ANA board of governors authorized funding for
its publication during the Early Spring Convention in 2000,
and everything was good to go.

Before the text and images could be assembled, however, the
Harry W. Bass Foundation loaned the coins that are still on
display at the ANA Museum in Colorado Springs, and the
ANA's graphic designer, Mary Jo Meade, was put full time
on preparing that exhibit. After that work was completed,
Mary Jo and I spent a couple more years preparing yet further
material, while she drafted some additional sidebars based on
the images she found in various archives. Endless correspondence
between us resulted in a richly detailed study, as we went back
and forth trying different phrasings and layouts. By this time Rudy
Bahr of the ANA's Money Market division had assumed control
of the project. It was no longer to be a correspondence course,
as the ANA people were sufficiently pleased with the illustrated
work that they wanted it put out as a book for general distribution.
Some very nice cover art was designed by Mary Jo in 2003, and
it appeared that everything was go for publication by the ANA.
It was at that stage that the ANA staff underwent a purge, and
Rudy and six other employees left. The book was once again
set aside, the splendid cover art abandoned, and I was beginning
to think that my work would never see the light of day. Finally,
early this year the ANA made a deal with Whitman to have it
published commercially. This book was actually published in
April, but problems with the first press run caused this to be
discarded. Only this month have sufficient copies become
available for purchase.

I'm pleased with the final result, and I believe it fills a very
real need for a general history of our coinage from the colonial
era to the present. Don Taxay's book, while certainly not hard
to find in the stocks of numismatic literature dealers, is largely
unknown to the present generation of collectors. In addition,
it lacks coverage of the past 40 years in U. S. Mint history.
For better or worse, the majority of current collectors are
focused on modern coinage, so the new book fills a popular
demand for information. The titles of both books are similar,
but this proved unavoidable if potential readers were to
understand the scope of the book. Another criticism that I
anticipate is the lack of citations throughout. My original
manuscript was fully notated. This feature was removed at
the request of the ANA when the project was still expected
to be a correspondence course, since it was thought that the
notes at the back would make it difficult for users to perform
the question-and-answer portion which, of course, has since
been deleted. The ANA may yet use this book as a
correspondence course by making the actual course book a
separate publication to be used in connection with the history
book. This detail hasn't yet been worked out yet.

This book is not a scholarly work in the true sense, but it does
contain a great deal of information that has not appeared under
a single cover before. It is meant to be entertaining, as well as
informative, serving as an introduction to our rich numismatic
history. It is the hope of everyone involved that this work will
be widely distributed in general bookstores, unlike most
numismatic books which are little known outside the
established community of collectors.

I long ago signed an agreement to write this book solely as
a donation to the ANA, so I won't make any money from
the deal. That doesn't matter at all, since I'm just so relieved
that ten years of work has finally borne fruit. I can't compliment
Mary Jo Meade enough, as she contributed all sorts of great
ideas that prompted me to go back to the writing desk for
yet more material. I also want to thank Gail Baker for her
persistence and faith in the project. Because of the repeated
delays, I sometimes had sharp words for her and other ANA
officers, but I believe all of us are satisfied with the end result.

I'll be at the NGC booth during the convention in SF, should
anyone want to discuss either of these books. As usual, I don't
anticipate that I'll be able to attend NBS functions or any other
meetings during bourse hours, but I certainly hope to see some
of my fellow bookies at the table or after hours. The Mint book
lists at $19.95, pictorial hardcover only, and can be ordered
from either Whitman or the ANA."

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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