The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 11, Number 47, November 23, 2008, Article 6


In the latest issue of The Brasher Bulletin, the official journal of the Society for Private and Pioneer Numismatics (SPPN), author Don Kagin published an article seeking member advice on aspects of the upcoming 2nd edition of his standard work, Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States. At my request, Don forwarded the article for reprinting here.

Our recent discussions of advice for numismatic authors are timely - many of Don's questions are the same ones most numismatic authors must deal with. What do you think, readers? -Editor
As we prepare for the much needed update of this reference work, we would like to invite your input on how to make this a better work. To begin, we will be asking you a few questions (mainly concerning questions about the catalog portion of the book); some of which we grappled with 30 years ago in compiling the first edition.

Here are a few questions to get your creative juices started. You can also add your own questions. Please feel free to email, call or just chat with us at an upcoming coin show about your ideas.

Whitman publishing has tentatively scheduled publication in 2010; but that really does not give us much time to implement needed changes (especially color plate coins). So please contact us as soon as possible. Your contribution will be noted in the upcoming edition. Thank you. Don

1. Should we change the name of the book to .Pioneer Gold and Patterns of the United States.. Or to another name?

2. Should we include foot(end) notes which will require another 10 or so pages? We left this out of the first edition.

3. Since there will be a number of changes to the pattern section of the book, we tentatively plan to renumber by company as before, allowing for new discoveries and by adding a .P. before each number. Should we also use the P designation for Restrikes and Fantacies, etc. or use separate prefix letters for them? Your thoughts?

4. Do you agree with the chronological die order of the Bechtler coinage? If we decide that, for instance, K7 came before K6 or K9 before K8, do we change the K numbers around (please keep in mind some grading company pop reports and even some tags are keyed into our current grading numbers)?

5. Do you agree with our current edition.s rendering of what is the obverse and reverse die for the Bechtlers? Other references disagree, including one which believes the name Bechtler should be the determining factor for the obverse die.

6. It has been determined that a few pieces should not be in the main section of the book. One, like the USAO #3 is not a separate variety but a tooled coin not available to examine 30 years ago. Should we completely renumber the rest or just leave out this number?

7. Do we completely renumber those series such as USAO to accommodate every die variety such as a .small 7. vs. .Large 7. as does Breen? Should these be new .a. numbers? Or put another way, What should constitute a new number vs. a sub letter e.g. (a) vs. a sub number e.g. [(1)]?

8. In the pattern section we think the latter designation of sub numbers should be for those coins that have been gilt and the subletters for designating either Plain or Reeded Edge. Or should we use subletters just for designating different medals, or both?

9. Many L.E. slugs have missing letters on edges, upside down impressions, or upside down .50. or even clashed dies. How should we designate these, or should we just mention that they exist?

10. Do you believe that the Moffat $20s should be numbered with the USAO pieces or under Moffat or both?

Please keep in mind that while we want this book to be as accurate and comprehensive as possible we want this to be simple to use. That is why we placed companies in alphabetical order within the three gold rushes, rather than chronological order. We also plan to add a chapter on pioneer coins found on shipwrecks; and to add pedigrees under the plate coins. Of course we will also modify rarity figures.

"L.E" means "Lettered Edge" and USAO is the United States Assay Office. Here are some of my thoughts:

1. NO - do not rename the book. How could it be a second edition if the name changes? The suggestion stems from the fact that items other than coins (such as ingots) are included. I would suggest dealing with this by adding a subtitle to the new edition

2. As Meg Ryan's character in When Harry Met Sally said, I say YES, YES, YES! to footnotes and endnotes. I don't care if a book is a little thicker - it's practically useless without notes on the research that went into it.

6. I'd leave out obsolete numbers and keep the remaining designations intact wherever possible. For thirty years collectors have been using the reference. Drop numbers and add new ones if you have to, but avoid CHANGING old numbers at all costs. -Editor


DAVID F. FANNING NUMISMATIC LITERATURE focuses on numismatics and related areas from all times and places. We seek consignments of choice material for future auctions and fixed price lists. To discuss options, contact David Fanning at Our Web site is available at .

Wayne Homren, Editor

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