The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 45, November 4, 2007, Article 5


E-Sylum reader Yossi Dotan kindly forwarded me a copy of
his new book "Watercraft on World Coins Volume I: Europe,
1800 – 2005".  I was unable to devote to it the time it
deserved while traveling back and forth to London this
summer, and since my return I've had quite a backlog of
books to review.  But I wanted to write a few words this
week on the remarkable work Dotan has produced.  I have
to say this is probably one of the best books I've ever
seen on a topical numismatic subject.  No mere catalog,
the book delves deeply into the background of each coin,
providing anywhere from a few sentences to a full page of
information about each coin, its history and design, and
the history of the watercraft depicted.

Krause-Mishler (KM) numbers are used, providing easy
cross-reference to the standard price catalogues.  This
is ideal, for a topical book has a far longer shelf-life
than price catalogs, and had any prices been included they
would quickly become outdated.  Coins with a common design
are grouped together, even though the basic sequence is
that of the Krause-Mishler numbers. Yossi writes that
design grouping "is important to the topical collector
with a limited budget because it enables him to decide
which of them to include in his want list, in case he
does not want to buy all of the coins with that specific

The primary shortcoming I see is with the book's
illustrations - they are very good, but many coins are
not illustrated at all, and those which are tend to be
modern coins.  Although the catalog covers the period from
1800 to date, I noticed no nineteenth century coins

The present volume covers Europe, and is the first in a
planned three-volume set.  Volume II will cover "America
and Asia 1800-2008" and Volume III will cover "Africa and
Oceana".  The 272-page paperback book was published in
June 2007.  It is illustrated with some 200 coin illustrations
and is priced at 35 GBP ($55).   The three-page bibliography
and five-page index attest to the level of research and
care of presentation that have gone into this work.  The
book's biography of Dotan notes that "extensive research
has taken him to libraries on three continents."

Regarding the illustrations, Yossi Dotan writes: "There
are only nine 19th-century coins, three of which are
illustrated. All other coins in the book (more than 600)
are of the 20th century. Of these about one third are
illustrated. There are two reasons for the missing
illustrations: either I was unable to obtain them, or
the watercraft on the coin was too small in relation to
the overall effect of the coin. The book describes ALL
coins with watercraft in the two centuries covered, but
I felt that by giving an image of a coin that, for instance,
depicts a rowboat on a lake in front of a building, the
reader would effectively see a building only and thus
detract from the 'ship' aspect of the book."

The following quotes are taken from the publisher's
web site, with minor updates by the author:

"Yossi Dotan is a numisnautical researcher, a recognized
expert in modern coins which depict watercraft. “Ship coins”
have fascinated him for over thirty years. Extensive research
has taken him to libraries on three continents. He lectures
on the subject and has published articles in numismatic
periodicals in Canada, Germany and the United States.

"His book shares this learning of many decades; it is a
most needed tool for collectors, numismatists, and historians.”
A major contributor to the book was the late Dr. Lloryel W.
Antoine, Ed.D, CPO USN (retired), of Florida, USA who wrote
a monthly column on 'ship coins' in World Coin News for five
years in the 1990s, and authored the book Nautical Numismatics.

"“Yossi Dotan's Watercraft on World Coins: Volume I – Europe
1800-2005 will long be the standard of numismatic topical
descriptions. His research is richly detailed and the
narratives of ships – particularly fighting ships, but
also cargo carriers – of the last two centuries is not
only amazingly accurate but also extremely interesting
reading for all students of naval warfare, shipping, and
of course, numismatics.

"Fram, Golden Hind, Santa Maria, Vasa, and H.M.S. Victory
are names of famous ships that have played a part in Europe's
maritime history. The stories associated with these and many
other ships are told in this book of “ship coins”. Each
narrative provides the historical background and watercraft
experience and circumstance of the soldiers, sailors, admirals
and generals, explorers, naval commanders and fishermen who
sometimes through bravery and sometimes through human error
have merited a place in the historical record, and are
associated with particular vessels that have merited the
striking of a coin in record and remembrance.

"This book is the first ever to narrate the history through
the medium of ships featured on coins. Each entry contains
information on the ships, wherever available (length, beam,
depth and tonnage). The book constitutes a catalogue of ship
coins organized according to the popular KM numbering system,
with groupings under separate headings where ships have a
common design. The coin images represent the many different
ways in which the ships are depicted. Each volume contains
a select bibliography and an index listing the ships, persons
and other major topics covered in the narratives."

To read the publisher's descriptions and order the book, see:
Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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