Dick Johnson submitted this note on Bob Heath's catalogs of the medals of the New England states. Thanks! I added an image of Bob's Connecticut pamphlet I found on eBay.
While reading an inquiry on Jeff Shevlin’s blog at So-Called Dollar Discussion Forum a correspondent mentioned he had acquired one of Bob Heath’s books on the medals of one of the six New England states. Since this relates to some scarce numismatic literature I’ll comment in The E-Sylum as well as on Jeff’s blog.
Robert Raymond Heath (1934-2005) -- he probably was not related to ANA’s founder Dr George Heath – but Bob Heath is considered the founder and chronicler of the commemorative medals issued by New England towns and cities. He had fun gathering these medals and cataloging them. I sold him a few of these when I was a medal dealer. We chatted often.
He gathered what facts he could: metal varieties, edge looped or plain, issue price, and assigned a catalog number; he then described both sides and added what other facts he could find -- who designed them, who struck -- the obscure datum of each medal. The accumulation of this info forms the collector lore we all like to learn about specimens in our collections.
Beginning in 1977 he published a list of Commemorative Medals of Massachusetts Cities and Towns. Massachusetts was his home state, an obvious first to publish. Other states followed. When he acquired enough new specimens he published a new “edition” using existing pages.
He typed up his data and placed this with an illustration of the medal, one medal per page. His pages were all 8½ x 5½ -- half the size of normal paper – he could get two pages to each photocopied sheet. He liked the loose-leaf format. He didn’t number the pages, but placed the date he compiled or revised the info at the bottom of each page. This way he could update any new data or insert a new page with fresh data for any newly acquired specimen at any time.
His numbering system was particularly ingenious. He gave a serial number – one up -- for all town and city names in a state arranged alphabetically. Then a chronological number for each medal in that town or city. Boston, for example is MA 035 with 39 medals listed.
I acquired a complete set of all six states listings before he died. Here are the six:
Connecticut -- four editions to 1996 – 175 medals.
Maine -- three editions to 1994 – 174 medals.
Massachusetts -- seven editions to 1995 – 626 medals.
New Hampshire -- five editions to 1997. – 218 medals.
Rhode Island --. four editions to 1997 -- 42 medals.
Vermont -- four editions to 1997 – 45 medals.
Total all editions – 1,280 medals.
In a subsequent conversation I asked Bob why didn’t he gather all this in one listing of all New England states and print this in one book or pamphlet. That would take away all the fun, he said.
He started selling parts of his collection before he died, but afterwards continuing the task of revising state lists was assigned to four fellow collectors. I related this in an E-Sylum item (Volume 9, Number 13, Article 3) where I listed the names of the four collectors. However, I have not learned of any such revised editions being published.
Perhaps that is just as well. Illinois numismatist Sheldon Banoff has been collecting all American city AND state medals for nearly five decades. He cannot tell me the total number he has -- or is aware of -- but it is probably more than five thousand. Now, THAT’S THE CATALOG I want to acquire!
To visit the So-Called Dollar Discussion Forum, see:
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
BOB HEATH'S MEDAL CATALOGS TO CONTINUE
Wayne Homren, Editor
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