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The E-Sylum: Volume 18, Number 8, February 22, 2015, Article 7

THE RISE AND FALL OF NUMISMATIC SCRAPBOOK MAGAZINE

David Alexander published an excellent article February 17, 2015 for CoinWeek about the history of Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine . Here's a short excerpt. Be sure to read the complete article online. -Editor

Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine

When Lee Hewitt planned his new magazine, it was going to be literally a “scrap book” offering excerpts from books published years before that were now long out of print and inaccessible to collectors of 1935. Then monthly news and notices were added to the mix when they could be obtained.

Volume 1, Number 1 appeared dated January 1935. It was a small (4 3/16 x 3 1/3 inches” eight-page publication boasting a bright yellow cover with bold scarlet sunburst enclosing NUMISMATIC/ SCRAPBOOK/ JANUARY 1935. Precisely 200 copies were printed, but by 1938 the year’s run totaled 524 pages. The first year saw new issues every two months but monthly appearance was soon the rule.

Subscriptions were $1 per year. The only serious competitor then existing was The Numismatist, journal of the American Numismatic Association (ANA), a kind of cross between an overgrown club publication and a learned journal.

Lee F. Hewitt recalled in June 1969 that in his magazine’s first year the ANA was 47 years old and had only 1,200 members. There were only 35 functioning coin clubs in the U.S. and perhaps a dozen significant, full-time coin dealers. He became an active member in the Chicago Coin Club and in 1939 helped found the Central States Numismatic Society (CSNS), first major regional coin organization.

A huge boost to Numismatic Scrapbook was the U.S. commemorative coin boom that came to a boil in 1935. American commemorative half dollars had first been issued in 1892, and continued to appear intermittently through 1934, when 50 cents was a still a respectable amount of money.

In 1935-1936 a commemorative madness erupted with dozens of subjects proposed and many actually getting through Congress on subjects ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. Any modern collector has but to look in the Guidebook of United States Coins (the “Red Book”) to see how many 1936-dated commemoratives were actually issued.

Going monthly, Hewitt’s magazine grew to 5 x 7½ inch format. Its beige and light red cover now bore a fixed design with red script Numismatic Scrapbook MAGAZINE, America’s Authority on Coin Collecting over a large Morgan dollar obverse. The coin’s date 19—was blocked by a tablet announcing A monthly magazine for the Collector of Coins, Tokens, Medals and Paper Money. The issue date appeared at the bottom. This basic design was retained until 1969.

Lee Hewitt Internally, Hewitt separated editorial (written materials, articles and news) from the fat body of advertising that made the magazine marvelously profitable for decades. Each issue included a “Beginner’s Primer,” and each January boasted a “Crystal Ball” of predictions by dealers and a few collectors.

Critics sometimes sneered that the predictions were merely disguised advertising for what this or that dealer happened to have in stock. This overlooked such contributions as Miami dealer William Fox Steinberg’s mid-1950’s urging just after the 1950-D Jefferson nickel boom, “Don’t worry about how many nickels the Mint is going to make, just enjoy your coins and good health!”

Another Hewitt secret weapon was a brilliant young linotype operator named Arlie Slabaugh (born 1926) a deaf-mute whose unerring eye could tell him what space would be left blank by a story he was typesetting. His fast-moving mind and fingers would compose a short to fill the space before his type-setting reached the bottom of the column.

To read the complete article, see:
The Rise And Fall Of Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine (www.coinweek.com/education/the-rise-and-fall-of-numismatic-scrapbook-magazine/)



Wayne Homren, Editor

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