The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 15, Number 20, May 13, 2012, Article 9


Regarding the CD of numismatic books Bruce W. Smith mentioned, Ken Bressett writes:

I was intrigued by Bruce Smith's article about the numismatic CD he found on eBay. But try as I may, I could not locate a place offering one for sale. Can you, or Bruce, give a source?

I checked with Bruce, and the CD can be located by doing a search for the seller used_but_good_stuff. -Editor

Bruce adds:

I have since found an eBay seller in England who has CD's for sale with hundreds of books on ancient coins and British coins. Also has long runs of Numismatic Chronicle (Royal Numismatic Society) the first 100 volumes (1836-about 1930) for around $15. Also has long runs of other European numismatic journals.

John Sallay writes:

Dave Bowers' excellent essay on THE USEFULNESS OF REAL (PRINTED) NUMISMATIC BOOKS mentions "the first the first truly numismatically useful reference book was published in America" - Felt's "An Historical Account of Massachusetts Currency", published in 1839. Copies of the original edition are indeed available for sale online priced in the $125-1,250 range, depending on condition. In my library, I have a reprint published by Burt Franklin in 1968, and one of these is also available online for $25. It's hard to avoid noting, however, that this book can be downloaded for free on Google Books. I don't believe that Felt's book is available for the Kindle yet, though.

I also wanted to pass along this attached cartoon from last week's New Yorker…

New Yorker cartoon 5-7-12

Scott Barman writes:

I went through a sample of the books listed on this CD. They are all available for free from Google Books ( In fact, these are not the only books that can be found on the Google Books site. If you search for "coins" and "numismatics" you can find quite a few books available as a free download. I even found the book, "Domestic and Foreign Coins Manufactured by Mints of the United States" that covers mintages through 1980 on Google Books that I have on my iPad.

If I knew there was a market to repackage publicly available books, I would have done so myself! :-)

Scott adds:

With all due respect to Mr. Bowers, there is nothing wrong with e-books for any type of book. In fact, after using an iPad for nearly a year, I prefer e-books over printed editions. Aside from the ecological benefit of saving trees, I am finding e-book references to be easier to manage, quicker to search, and more portable than a library. And with information being provided on the Internet for free, there is little to compel me to consider "dead tree editions" over the convenience of being able to carry an ample library on my iPad.

Although the Red Book remains one of the most iconic numismatic reference, I stopped buying the book in the last few years since it is not available in ebook form. Why should I invest in buying a physical book that will take up space on a shelf when that book is practically out of date when it is printed and nearly useless next year when an update is printed? Sure, it will be a nice historical reference 20 years from now. But in an ebook format, it would only require a minute amount of storage space on a hard drive rather than waste what has become precious shelf space next to those must-have computer books I needed for my career that are now obsolete.

Whitman has been slow to the ebook party evidence by my inability to purchase the Red Book in e-book format. That cannot be said of their competition. Current editions of Krause's Standard Catalogues and U.S. Coin Digest now occupy a prominent position on my iPad. After buying these books on CD-ROM, I have copies on my computer, iPad, and iPhone as a ready reference. These electronic books have served me well and will get a good test run the next time I attend a coin show. After all, it is easier to carry an iPad around a big convention center than it is to cary bulky books.

Electronic books are the future of publishing and a key to providing the next generation of collectors, numismatists, and researchers with information in manner that suits their lives. More publishers should be embracing e-books as a way to reach new markets. If not, those publishers will not only be doing their business a disservice, but it will not help the numismatic community attract and retain the next generation to carry on the work the current generation has started. After all, colleges are now moving to electronic text books and e-readers. Do you really think that this generation that is growing up on e-books for solid information will step backward into paper?

Finally, thank you for the tip regarding Joseph Felt's "An Historical Account of Massachusetts Currency." I found a copy on Google Books and downloaded it as a PDF to be read on my iPad. The book can be found at and looks like an interesting read.

Bruce W. Smith writes:

The Internet is a great tool but it is only a tool. In the days of print, the only tool one needed was light. But the light itself was useless without the printed page to shine on. The same is true with the Internet -- it is a search tool to find information. But it can only find information that is there to find (and only if used correctly and patiently). Despite what people in their teens and twenties today believe, not everything is on the Internet.

I have around 15,000 books in my reference library. My 20-something daughter constantly asks me why I don't get rid of the books now that I have access to the Internet. I would guess that a large number of the 3,000 books I have on Chinese history and culture are not on the Internet. And I would guess that most of my books on Chinese numismatics are not online. Someday, perhaps they will, but don't expect it any time soon. And of course, searching for information in another language presents additional problems

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: A NUMISMATIC LIBRARY ON A CD (


Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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