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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 1, January 4, 2009, Article 8


Dick Johnson submitted the following article inspired by an auction lot in David Sklow's upcoming numismatic literature sale. The images are from my numismatic ephemera files. -Editor
McNees CCJ v1n1

David Sklow's auction catalog #6 arrived this week. I flipped open the first two pages lasing the auction lots and my eye was drawn to lot 24. Coin Collectors Digest in bold face type caught my attention. That sounds interesting, somehow familiar. Then my eye moved up a line to the author, "James G. McNees" and a flood of memories filled my mind.

That was printed on my old printing press! I had built a print shop starting in my junior year in high school. I had purchased a used 10 x 15-inch Chandler & Price printing press, and dozens of fonts of type and taught myself how to set type (by hand!), lock it in a press and how to run the press -- by foot power. The press was from the 1880s and old by then, but they never wear out.

I printed tickets for high school functions, a play program, and even membership cards for the Heart of America Numismatic Association. And stationery, lots of stationery for friends, family and even for an uncle who had two business in rural Missouri. It brought in enough money I could even buy a second, larger press.

The presses were set up in my grandparents' basement and I spent all my spare hours there printing small jobs that came my way. This went on for three years, even after my first year in junior college. (Here I found a way I could access the college bulletin board -- it was behind locked glass; I would print raunchy poems, jiggle the lock, lift the glass, and post them on the college bulletin board -- to the amusement of my college buddies)

My third college semester was at an out-of-town college, Baker University in Baldwin, Kansas [the Rev. Arthur B. Coole Oriental coin collection was located here]. And I had no time for printing. With the draft breathing down on me for the Army during the Korean War, I joined the Air Force (for 4 years) instead of being drafted into the Army (for 2 years). This was not for any patriotism, I liked the idea of flying.

I had to dispose of the print shop. I sold it to Jim McNees. He had four boys -- Jim was a photoengraver -- and he wanted to teach his boys graphic arts from the ground up. And that's why he bought my print shop and ultimately printed the Coin Collectors Digest now offered Dave's auction.

McNees CCJ Editorial

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But I will have to tell you about Jim McNees and a collector friend of his, Ray Janda. Both were coin collectors, but a better term would be "traders." They were active in local coin clubs and Ray Janda was even once on the U.S. Assay Commission. They would build a collection or buy a coin and sell it or trade it to the other.Then often acquire it back in some involved trade.

This went one for years. Homes, cars, every possession you could own were traded back and forth among the pair. Wives and children were the only things off limits. Ray was a successful salesman and Jim did well as a partner with his brother in the photoengraving business.

Jim once built a frame which he engraved at the top "Money of the World" and filled it with odd and curious money. He traded it to Ray. Somehow I got between the two and acquired it from Ray Janda before he traded it back to Jim. Forty years later I still have that frame with all that odd and curious money.

So, Dave, your lot 24 flooded me with hundreds of Jim McNees and numismatic memories. What a delight!


DAVID SKLOW - FINE NUMISMATIC BOOKS Sale #6, February 7th 2009, catalog .PDF is now on our web site for viewing or downloading. We are accepting consignments for all future sales. PH: (719) 302-5686, FAX: (719) 302-4933. Visit our web site for sale highlights

Wayne Homren, Editor

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