In his Numismatic Bookie column from June 15, 2015, issue of Coin World, Joel Orosz reviews a great book by Dave Bowers
The History of United States Coinage as Illustrated by the Garrett Collection (published in 1979). -Editor
This month, let’s play “Desert Island Numismatic Book,” and choose a single volume we’d
cherish if washed up on Gilligan’s Isle.
That’s a tough call for any numismatist. Crosby’s Early Coins of America; Julian’s Medals of the U.S. Mint; Newman and
Bressett’s Fantastic 1804 Dollar; Taxay’s U.S. Mint and Coinage? Good choices, all, but my selection would be Q. David
Bowers’ masterwork, The History of United States Coinage as Illustrated by the Garrett Collection.
Dave Bowers has written so many wonderful numismatic books, specialized and wide-ranging, popular and scholarly, but to me, The History
of U.S. Coinage tops them all. It’s nine books rolled into one: a history of American numismatics; the story of the U.S. Mint; the
recounting of how two generations of Baltimore’s Garrett family built a superb coin collection; the saga of colonial and state coinage; the
history of Washington pieces; the story of federal coinage; the skinny on territorial/pioneer gold; a “you-are-there” account of the
California Gold Rush; and a guide down the byways of numismatic Americana. And then add three appendixes on the behind-the-scenes
dealmaking that enabled the Garretts to build their incredible coin collection!
So how did Dave cram all of this into a 572-page book? Double print columns helped, but mainly by a judicious choice of information,
focusing on the most important coins of each series, and providing background needed to understand each issue’s context and significance.
For example, so many Uncirculated 1773 Virginia halfpence are available because Col. Mendes Cohen of Baltimore owned a keg containing many
thousands, which were dispersed slowly from 1875 to 1929, when the last 2,200 of them were sold at auction as a single lot!
The History of U.S. Coinage is a great reference work, but my favorite part is three chapters of appendixes full of
correspondence between the Garretts and assorted coin dealers and fellow collectors who helped them build a stellar collection.
There is plenty more in The History of U.S. Coinage to while away the hours until you are rescued from your deserted island. And
the good news is that the book is relatively cheap to buy: five printings from 1979 through 1988 have kept it in good supply. Numismatic
booksellers usually stock copies, often signed by the author himself.
Dave's book is one of my favorites, too, for many of the same reasons. See the complete article for Joel's overview of the
correspondence between T. Harrison Garrett and contemporary coin dealers including Harold P. Newlin and W. Elliot Woodward. -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
Garrett Collection book the desert
island choice if only one selection to read (www.coinworld.com/insights/garrett-collection-book-choice-for-desert-island-read.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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