Dick Johnson submitted these thoughts on the Glossary contained in Arlyn Sieber's 2009 book, The Instant Coin Collector. Thanks.
I have studied 45 numismatic dictionaries and encyclopedias in all languages. Albert Frey's Numismatic Dictionary is the old standby in English. It ran serially in the American Journal of Numismatics and was published in book form by ANS in 1917. It is somewhat overburdened with coin denomination names and light on technical numismatic terms but it has stood the test of time and been reprinted twice, once with Mark Salton''s "Glossary of Numismatic Terms" in five languages.
My favorite foreign language numismatic dictionary is Friedrich von Schroetter's Worterbuch der Muzkunde, published 1930. The author was the keeper of the Berlin coin cabinet who had the assistance of five numismatists who contributed entries. Great German scholarship by all six. Like Frey, it has been reprinted twice, once by Argonaut in Chicago 1967, and in Berlin 1970.
I have also studied glossaries of numismatic terms in 21 numismatic works. The best is the Glossary in Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins published 1988. (See the 582-entry Glossary, pages 695-711). Breen had published many of the terms previously, the latest was in Walter Breen's Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins, published in 1977 (that glossary had 230 terms). So he expanded and polished that list for the 1988 edition, more than doubling the terms defined.
Also I have examined glossaries of numismatic terms on the internet. In contrast to Breen and some of the full book dictionaries and encyclopedias these internet glossaries are the worst. Lots of misinformation and uninformed definitions. I believe this is due to the fact these are not edited. Anyone can put anything on the internet.
This week there appeared in my mail box a message from KP Publications that illustrated a book they published in 2009, The Instant Coin Collector, by Arlyn G. Sieber. They selected 36 numismatic terms as "The Language of Coins" from that book.
I recognize the author was writing for the beginning collector. However, comparing these definitions to what has been accepted in the field we see-- not misinformation -- but "fuzzy" definitions. That beginning collector will have to learn the more accurate meanings later. Wouldn't it had been better to give him the precise meaning right up front?
There are numerous terms in numismatics that have established fuzzy, inexact or misnomer status in active use today. These include: die trial, pattern, carbon spot, graining, lint marks, milled edge, and oxidation, among others. This fuzzy status results from not learning the precise meaning in the first place.
Sieber describes "Proof" for example, as "a type of coin produced especially for sale to collectors." This overlooked an opportunity to describe "proof surface" and how it is produced. Vital data for every coin enthusiast.
In a word -- okay two words -- I would describe his definitions as "overly simplistic." If you wish to review those chosen 36 basic coin collecting terms, click on:
To read the complete article, see:
The Language of Coins
THE BOOK BAZARRE
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