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BOOK REVIEW: CANADIAN HISTORICAL MEDALS SERIES, VOLUME TWO
Joseph D. McCarthy submitted the following review of Canadian Association Society Commercial Transportation Medals, Volume Two. -EditorAlthough the wait has been seven long years between the release of Volume One and this Volume Two, the wait appears to have been very worthwhile. I can’t remember just when I placed my original, pre-publication, order or what that pre-publication cost was (now $750.00 for the complete three volume set) but with the receipt of this volume I feel it was worth the price and the time. The Third, and final, volume is now anticipated to have a release date in Spring, 2009.
Strictly speaking, this Volume is not about numismatic items, but it does contain information about many numismatic related items. What the Volume does contain is information concerning Medals, Badges, prize medals/awards, Pin badges, similar items, and some strictly Numismatic related items.
The volume starts with the standard Disclaimers, acknowledgements, Contributors list, and a dedication of the three volume set to the memory of Jeffrey Hoare and Robert C. Wiley. Followed by a concise, but sufficient, Table of Contents. This in turn followed by an Introduction, Objectives, Structure of the volume, a detailed explanation of Societies, Associations, Leagues and Clubs, Fraternal Associations or Societies, Commercial Medals, and Stock Medals. Next two short discussions about collecting medals and the Numbering System followed by a description/discussion of the technical details of the medal listings; this is the format of how each and every medal is presented. The last part of the Preface is a two page Bibliography.
The volume consists of three main “Sections” (or Chapters) listing medals under three Categories, according to the nature of the issuer, as follows: (1) Associations and Societies Medals; (2) Commercial (Business) Medals; and (3) Transportation (related to, but excluding transit such as bus, rail, toll, etc.) medals. The remainder of the volume consists of fifty three (53) pages of Indices to the main Categories, split between Index’s to the Categories and Numerical Index’s to the Categories. The volumes numbered pages, not including 12 pages of Preface, are 708.
First a word about my personal likes and dislikes in books. I love the way in the Indices the publisher has placed the main categories at the top of the pages (e.g. “Index to Commercial Medals). I can only assume that cost, and I believe the publishers did incur tremendous costs, to publish this volume was the major factor that the Categories were not likewise listed at the top of each page. Suffice to say that the Table of Contents is very helpful in moving between categories. Enough said.
The Author(s) inclusion of photographs by nearly every Medal, generally with obverse and reverse, is extremely helpful. Varieties are detailed, where known, and often are accompanied by photographs. The breakdown of the description follows a well thought out format: The name of the Issuer (including a line naming the specific locale it the issuer had locations at more than one location), the medals specific number (as provided by the Authors), the Obverse design / Legend / and Motto (if any). The Reverse design / legend, whether the issue was suspended (and if so How and by what), the Engraver/Maker (if known), and a reference number when the specific issue was previously catalogued. Lastly, the composition (metal), the weight, the size (mm) the thickness (mm) the Die axis, and to many the most important item - the value in the two commonly found grades. Varieties in different metals (bronze, brass, silver, etc) are described and priced.
The section that will most intrigue Numismatists are the “Commercial” medals section. This section consists of seventy eight (78) pages (pages 563 to 639). It contains listings for medals representing events such as the “100th Anniversary” of “Bank of Montreal”, three sizes; the three types of medals for “Banque Canadienne Nationale”; “Canadian Collieries (Dunsmuir) Limited”; etc.
The next most intriguing is the “Transportation” medals. This section consists of 16 Pages (pages 639 to 654). It contains listings for medals issued for Highways, Bridges, and Ships (wrecked or not). What I found less of interest, strictly from a numismatic point of view, was the First section on Association and Society medals. This section, consisting of the bulk of the book, with 563 pages (pages 1 through 563). This is not meant to take away from this section; I found it very informative, well done, and with the same degree of research that any great book contains.
The sections are a listing of the medals with detailed descriptions, as per the “technical details” found in the Preface. A detailed discussion of each and every medal is wisely not given. On the other hand, the Preface provides an excellent discussion on the breakdown of the various components of Associations, Society’s, Commercial, and Transportation groups. This and the “Technical Detail” discussion provide sufficient information for collecting and studying the Medals covered by this Volume.
The Canadian Historical Medals series, a three volume set will (when completed) consists of the following:
Volume I - Canadian Exhibition Medals;
Volume II - Canadian Association Society Commercial Transportation Medals;
Volume III - Canadian Scholastic Medals.
Personally, I can hardly wait for volume three to be issued. For anyone interested in Canadian Medals this will definitely be the standard for years to come. The cost today may appear steep, but today’s price for a Used four volume set of the Haxby Obsolete Banknotes may be an indication of what the price will be in the future. A suggestion is that maybe the local coin club could purchase a set as a donation to the local public library or to a high school.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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