The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 19, Number 14, April 3, 2016, Article 21


Visiting the Dave Hirt Numismatic Library
Thursday March 31, 2016 was an all-day numismatic affair for me. I'd taken a day off work to handle some business for the Newman Numismatic Portal. With a little time to kill in the morning I had breakfast at a Panera Bread restaurant, using my laptop to wrap up E-Sylum advertising invoices and start setting up this week's issue.

My first stop was a visit to an old friend. I took the back roads out of Virginia and across the ricketey-looking Point-of-Rocks bridge across the Potomac into Maryland, where my GPS system navigated me to the Frederick, MD home of Emi and Dave Hirt.

Dave Hirt shopworn copy of Gengerke Dave is a longtime Numismatic Bibliomania Society member, former NBS Treasurer, and big-time collector of numismatic literature. He's my hero because he not only collects the material, he seems to read and remember it all, making him a fount of knowledge of the ins-and-outs of 19th century American numismatics. His copy of Gengerke's American Numisamtic Literature is the most shopworn I've ever seen (although Len assured us that Dan Hamelberg's copy is just as bad).

I pulled into their drive about 11am. Also arriving in his rented car was NNP Project Coordinator Len Augsburger. He'd been in town to scope out U.S. Mint material at the National Archives. We were visiting to have a look through Dave's library for unique, unusual or interesting items to digitize for the benefit of numismatic researchers.

Len Augsburger at Dave Hirt Numismatic Library
Len Augsburger and Dave Hirt

We started in a first-floor office with a couple bookcases of material and some framed numismatic photos on the wall. Below is a picture I took of a labeled photo of a "Banquet given by Thomad L. Elder to buyers at an early auction sale of his". The assemblage is a Who's Who of American numismatic personalities including Elder, Farran Zerbe, Stephen Nagy, Howland Wood, and Edgar Adams.

Dinner photo

Virgil Brand photo
Virgil Brand photo

Dave Hirt library 0

In addition to a set of Proceedings of the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Philadelphia and some important catalogs not among the bound sets being scanned at the ANS, we picked out some interesting addenda, house organs and pamphlets.

Dave Hirt library catalogs for NNP

After Len made an inventory of the items being borrowed for the Newman Numismatic Portal I boxed them up and took them to my car. By now it was 1pm and time for a late lunch. We sat down at the dining room table and Emi served up fresh toasted bread, homemade chicken salad and cooked peppers from their garden.

The Gibbs Files
After lunch I opened a box of material I wanted to show Len and Dave - correspondence files of Pittsburgh collector Howard Gibbs. I'd aquired the material some twenty years ago from the estate of Western Pennsylvania Numismatic Society member Emerson Smith.

It was on another day taken off work that I'd discovered the trove and rescued it from the dump. I was literally one room ahead of workers who were cleaning out Emerson's home and hauling everything to a dumpster. His family had already been through the place and taken or sold anything they deemed of value; the executor told me to help myself to anything I wanted. I'd contacted him because at the time I was working on a history of WPNS and was looking for old letters or archival material.

Emerson had never married, and was ill in his final years. The home was a mess. I took decades worth of old copies of the Numismatic Scrapbook and The Numismatist. Under a workbench in the garage I found three complete years of Mehl's Numismatic Monthly. And in an upstairs office I found a filing cabinet that yielded correspondence and other material relating to Emerson's friends Howard Gibbs and dealer Hans Schulman.

I'd had fun reading through the material, but it had been boxed in my own garage ever since, following me from Pittsburgh to Virginia, still a jumbled mess. The Newman Numismatic Portal gave me a reason to get it organized and a place to make the material available to other collectors and researchers.

Soon it was time to go. We packed my car, said our goodbyes, and headed out Rt. 70 East toward Baltimore. More in Part 2 of this Diary.

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Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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