Joel Orosz writes:
Vol 3, No 40, October 1, 2000, "Constructive Criticism of Sandham"
This article provides a reminder that even so great a numismatist as Alfred Sandham sometimes took his licks from the critics!
In response to the topic of "Devastating Reviews", Gilbert
Ray Malone writes: "Perhaps the review discussed below
does not meet all the criteria set out by Tom Fort; however,
it probably falls somewhere between "constructive criticism"
and "published scorn".
I have assembled a small grouping of original numismatic
literature to be displayed at a future show in Canada. The
title of the exhibit is "Coins, Tokens and Medals of the
Dominion of Canada: by Alfred Sandham -- A CRITICAL
REVIEW." The centerpiece of the display is the neatly and
thoroughly annotated copy of Sandham's book used by
Professor Charles E. Anthon (editor AJN) in writing his
detailed, scholarly and sometimes cutting review of Sandham's
book in the May 1869 issue of the AJN:
1. "we intend to pay him the highest complement in our power,
by pointing out the deficiencies"
2. "Looking at present edition as a first draught merely, we
repeat our call for a second one"
3. "Our good Sandham must have 'nodded' over this page."
At times, Anthon verged on elitism: "And to Mr. Printer we
would observe that 'Boquet', as he uniformly spells it, savors
not of Ville Marie, ci-devant town of Novelle France; that his
Latin, in the legends of the Medals more particularly, is often
lame; and his English, as to orthography and punctuation,
My display is an attempt to document the reaction of the
numismatic community to publication of Sandham's book.
In the June 1868 issue of the AJN, Sandham's book was
announced with a very attractive broadside printed in color.
In March 1869, a card was inserted into the AJN
advertising the book - PRICE $1.00 American Currency.
Many collectors haven't seen these inserts since they were
frequently discarded when the AJN was bound.
Sandham did not heed Anthon's call for an immediate second
edition; however, he did issue a supplement in 1872 that
incorporated information provided by Anthon. Sandham's
numbering system would continue to be used by cataloguers
of Canadian coins for about 15 years. In the November
17-18, 1879 Bangs & Co. auction of Professor Anthon's
collection, Anthon catalogued his own Canadian cabinet by
Sandham number. In 1884, Woodward referenced Sandham's
work in cataloguing the Canadian portion of the famous J. N. T.
Levick Collection. Levick was a co-editor of the AJN at the
time Anthon wrote his review.
A theme of the display is the parallel development of
numismatics in the U.S. and Canada. Sandham, in 1872,
started the Canadian Antiquarian and Numismatic Journal,
which he edited for about 4 years.
We don't know if Sandham was stung by Anthon's criticism.
Sandham had taken full responsibility for the book including
drawing all the coins for the eight full-page plates. As R. W.
McLachlan notes in his sketch of Alfred Sandham (CANJ,
Jan. 1911), Sandham received only a regular common school
education -- cut short. In fairness, Anthon's review also
contained much praise for Sandham. However, we do know
that Sandham's book was not a financial success - 300 copies
were printed, 250 bound and only 100 sold."
To read the complete original E-Sylum article, see:
CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM OF SANDHAM
Wayne Homren, Editor
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