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About Us

The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit association devoted to the study and enjoyment of numismatic literature. For more information please see our web site at


Those wishing to become new E-Sylum subscribers (or wishing to Unsubscribe) can go to the following web page link


There is a membership application available on the web site Membership Application

To join, print the application and return it with your check to the address printed on the application. Print/Digital membership is $40 to addresses in the U.S., and $60 elsewhere. A digital-only membership is available for $25. For those without web access, write to:

Jeff Dickerson, Treasurer
Numismatic Bibliomania Society
P. O. Box 578,
Weatherford, TX 76086


For Asylum mailing address changes and other membership questions, contact Jeff at this email address:


To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address:



Content presented in The E-Sylum is not necessarily researched or independently fact-checked, and views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.


Wayne Homren 2017-03-15 full New subscribers this week include: Denis Richard - Coin Photography Studio. Welcome aboard! We now have 7,471 subscribers.

Thank you for reading The E-Sylum. If you enjoy it, please send me the email addresses of friends you think may enjoy it as well and I'll send them a subscription. Contact me at anytime regarding your subscription, or questions, comments or suggestions about our content.

This week we open with a chance to revisit the Invasion of Champaign, a numismatic literature sale, an obituary, a great 1985 video, and more.

Other topics this week include ANACS, the CCAC, Playfair Ciphers, the New Jersey Numismatic Society, Dansco albums, the 1922 Denver Mint robbery, fixed price and auction previews, Ben Franklin's money, and strawberry scrip.

To learn more about the extraordinary BCD Library, Peter Mitchell, Adna Wilde, Ed Price, Mexican Numismatics, the 1913 Liberty nickel, the James II and the Seven Bishops medal, the Hyman Montagu Collection, the Nine Siliquae denomination, and money-themed tattoos, read on. Have a great week, everyone!

Wayne Homren
Editor, The E-Sylum

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  Campaign Against the Turks in Hungary medal obverse Campaign Against the Turks in Hungary medal reverse
Image of the week


KENNETH W. RENDELL has traveled the world tracking down, buying, and selling the most significant, iconic historical letters and documents from the ancient world through the Renaissance to today. Read about his early start as a rare-coin dealer in the 1950s—and much more—in his thrilling new memoir, Safeguarding History. Order your copy online (including at ), or call 1-800-546-2995.


Len Augsburger is President of our host organization, the Numismatic Bibliomania Society. Please contact him if you're interested in touring the Dan Hamelberg numismatic library in conjunction with this summer's American Numismatic Association World's Fair of Money. -Editor

  2019 Invasion of Champaign group photo

Invasion of Champaign (Part 2)

NBSers no doubt recall the Invasion of Champaign held August 20, 2019, in conjunction with the ANA convention in Rosemont, IL. This tour of the Dan Hamelberg library attracted about 15 visitors who trekked from the convention site to visit this unparalleled collection of American numismatic literature. The Fall 2019 Asylum included a full report of the event.

Read more here

Archives International Sale 91 cover back


Kolbe & Fanning announces their first sale of the blockbuster BCD Library of numismatics of the ancient world. Here are some highlights. -Editor

  Kolbe-Fanning Numismatic Booksellers banner

BCD sale catalog cover BCD Library Sale February 17

Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers are pleased to announce that we will be offering for sale by auction the extraordinary BCD Library on numismatics of the ancient world, with the first sale to be held on Saturday, February 17. The BCD Library is famous for its extraordinary depth, particularly in works on ancient Greek coinage. Carefully formed over the course of half a century, the library has become a resource familiar to experts around the world through the generosity of the owner in making his library available for their use. This initial auction focuses most heavily on published collections, general works, periodicals, and landmark publications, with literally thousands of titles remaining for future offerings. The online catalogue can be accessed at

Some highlights of this first sale include:

Read more here

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Charlie Riley and Ken Eckardt submitted this obituary and remembrance of Peter Mitchell. Thank you. -Editor

  Peter David Mitchell 1933-2024
by Charlie Riley and Ken Eckardt

Peter Mitchell 1978 Peter Mitchell died at home in Surrey, England, on Sunday morning, 14th January 2024 aged 90, in the presence of his wife Jean. He had suffered ill health for a while.

Peter was the longtime managing director of well-known coin dealers A H Baldwin & Sons Ltd of The Adelphi, central London. He joined the family firm fresh out of school (Hampton Grammar) aged 15 in 1949 as the ‘office boy’. His father Douglas Mitchell worked there and Peter was a great grandson of founder Albert Henry Baldwin. His early years at Baldwin’s were interrupted by National Service in the army, but Peter had the good luck to be posted to Hong Kong. While there the famous collector of British colonial coins, Captain (later Major) Fred Pridmore, travelled up from Singapore (where he was stationed with the army) to visit him in 1952, the start of a long association between them. Peter only retired from Baldwin’s in 1997 (before joining auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb as a consultant). He was to become one of the great British numismatists of his time, including cataloguing many famous sales for auction at Glendining’s, Christie’s, Sotheby and Spink (for example O’Byrne, Fred Pridmore, Virgil Brand, Dick Ford, Ralph Gordon, John J Ford cut and countermarked West Indian, among many others).

Read more here

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The David Lisot Video Library on the Newman Numismatic Portal can be found at:

We highlight one of his videos each week in The E-Sylum. Here's one from 1985 about the American Numismatic Association and the ANACS service. -Editor

  Rick Montgomery and Adna Wilde
Rick Montgomery and Adna Wilde

Read more here

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Julia Casey submitted these notes on jeweler Edmond Johnson and his puzzle tokens. Thank you! -Editor

I’ve not been able to crack Edmond Johnson’s puzzle tokens, but I wanted to write in with some additional information. I decided to first approach Johnson by way of contemporary reports of the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition, in the hope that there would be some mention of his tokens.

While I did not find any token references, I did find reports of Johnson’s exhibits of reproductions of ancient Irish jewelry and artifacts. Later, some of his replicas of Irish antiquities were sold to a Chicago museum and ended up in the Spurlock Museum at the University of Illinois. You can see Johnson’s magnificent copy of the Ardagh Chalice and other items on their website. The museum has also made available a copy of Johnson’s descriptive catalog via the HathiTrust site.

Read more here


1992-200-forint-reverse Photo Fix
Ken Spindler writes:

"The image of the Hungarian coin that you were sent for that very interesting article by Tom Babinszki, is the wrong side of the coin for the AI description. That coin is a KM-689 (200 forint, 1992-1993). Based on the way KM has the pix arranged, the image shown is of the obverse of the coin, but the computer's description is of the reverse."

Tom writes:

"Thank you so much for pointing it out, what I read from was a file on my hard drive, and I later added the wrong image, it should be fixed now."

It's indeed fixed on Tom's blog now, and our webmaster Bruce Perdue has updated the E-Sylum archive as well. Thanks, everyone. Here's the correct image. -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

Other topics this week include the Mint Fire of 1816, and Grading Service Experiences. -Editor

Read more here

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Jeff Burke submitted this article based on the archives of the New Jersey Numismatic Society (NJNS). Thank you! -Editor

  Highlights of the New Jersey Numismatic Society Archival Documents

I joined the New Jersey Numismatic Society (NJNS) in 2013 and took over as Society Secretary after Dave Ginsburg’s untimely passing in 2016. Ginsburg was a brilliant numismatist. I often marveled that he sometimes knew more about topics presented by distinguished guest speakers at our meetings than did the presenters.

Dave and I shared a passion for numismatic research, writing and publication. I miss having conversations with him about numismatic books and our latest research pursuits. On that note, I will turn to my current research project.

Read more here

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Justin Hinh submitted this update on his ambitious Dansco album project. Thank you! -Editor

I wanted to share an update with you and your readers on my Dansco library and preservation project. As mentioned in my previous E-Sylum update, I had around 200 albums and was aiming to collect one of every album Dansco has ever produced. Today I am happy to report that I have now collected one of every album that Dansco has ever listed for sale in their catalog since 1939.

My collection now stands at over 700 albums & folders. Including prototype albums, vintage editions, and all of the Continental Line series.

Read more here


Here's the second and final part of the Pantograph entry from Dick Johnson's Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Terminology. -Editor

France's Contamin (again, no other name known, and his dates unknown) working in Paris created an improved machine with a rotating cutter, called a Tour de Médailles. This success led to widespread use of his machine. Probably developed prior to 1834, when Franklin Peale observed it that year. In 1836 Peale obtained the Contamin engraver for the United States Mint at Philadelphia. While not associated with the Paris Mint, Contamin was able to offer his machine to any buyer in any country, thus its influence was widespread.

A generation later, England's Charles John Hill first developed his machine in 1851 with further improvement in 1856. While he may have seen James Watt's improved diecutter at the Soho Mint, he most certainly had knowledge of the Contamin. Hill's die-engraving pantograph was patented in 1866 and at first he only wanted to do die-cutting reductions, preferring not to let the machine out of his control. It was only when William Wyon purchased Hill's machine, obtaining all rights to it that it could be sold to others. It was built and marketed by George Wailes & Company, a machinery manufacturing firm of Vauxhall.

Read more here

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E-Sylum Feature Writer and American Numismatic Biographies author Pete Smith submitted this article on the 1922 Denver Mint robbery. Thanks! -Editor

  I Read a Book this Week

Robbing Banks Was My Business book cover I apologize in advance. My story this week is not about numismatists or numismatics. It is based on a book I got through interlibrary loan that is not numismatic literature. The book is Robbing Banks Was My Business by J. Evetts Halley. It tells the story of J. Harvey Bailey. What interested me most was chapter iv on “The Great Denver Mint Robbery.”

The Mint did not lose a coin that day. What was taken was $200,000 in newly printed $5 bills stored in the Mint vaults for distribution through the Federal Reserve Bank.

Read more here

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Greg Bennick's latest interview for the Newman Numismatic Portal is with Tom Caldwell of Northeast Numismatics. Here's the fourth of four parts, where Tom discusses his advice to new coin dealers. -Editor

GREG BENNICK: So, we'll hold out hope for that. I was going to ask you, what advice would you give to somebody interested in becoming a coin dealer? What advice would you give to somebody who was just thinking of getting started in it or maybe just starting on any level? What advice would you give?

Tom Caldwell Northeast Numismatics 2019-03 Whitman Coin Expo TOM CALDWELL: I would say a couple of things. I would say, go to shows, see things, see coins, see how things are graded, but most importantly, find a mentor. Find somebody that you can talk to that will guide you. I mean, most dealers would be open to that. We've mentored a few kids throughout the years. And I think those two things really. And of course, nowadays you can look online at coins to get a sense of how things look and all that. And also, I would say, if they're really serious, go to the grading seminar at the ANA. Try to get a, have them pay for it, which they do. Just go. And also, there's Seth Chandler to the coin university out in San Francisco, who's made some inroads in that department.

GREG BENNICK: For sure. He's been great with young numismatists.

TOM CALDWELL: He's paid all the tuition and everything and if they're younger, he's had to pay for the parents to go there. He's had good intentions and that's working out. And along those lines, we have seen, if you had asked me a couple of years ago about new people in the business, I would say it's not really seen. I would never come out and say that the coin business is going down the tubes because there aren't any people. But there's been a lot in the last couple of years that have come out. We've seen at the shows and basically, if the young person has the interest if they're smart, they know what, you can have a coin business online and so we think the future is promising for the coin business with many young people getting involved.

Read more here

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The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) has a new chairperson. Here's the U.S. Mint announcement. -Editor

  CCAC logo

The United States Mint announced today that the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury has appointed Dr. Peter van Alfen as the next Chairperson of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC), effective January 30, 2024. By statute, the CCAC Chairperson is appointed from among the current members and serves a one-year term.

Peter van Alfen Dr. van Alfen was appointed to the CCAC in 2020 as the member specially qualified in numismatic curation.

Dr. van Alfen is Chief Curator at the American Numismatic Society (ANS), where he has served for more than 20 years. Dr. van Alfen was initially hired as curator of ancient Greek coinage, and his curatorial responsibilities were later expanded to include the medallic art section. For more than a decade, Dr. van Alfen has served on the J. Sanford Saltus Award committee, which bestows awards to living artists for achievement in medallic art. In recent years, he has been involved in the creation of several of the ANS’s online resources, including the Hellenistic Royal Coinages project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Art of Devastation, a site devoted to the medallic art of the First World War.

Read more here

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E-Sylum subscriber Jacques Hymans is an Associate Professor of International Relations at the University of Southern California. He recently published an article in the Brown Journal of World Affairs entitled "It's All About the Benjamins: Why Banknotes Look As They Do, And Why You Should Care." discussing the social and economic importance of the images on banknotes, and trends in the nature of those images over time. Here are a couple excerpts, but the complete article is available free online. Check it out! -Editor

  banknote iconography sample page 1 banknote iconography sample page 2

Once upon a time, banknote iconography was a vitally important means of anti-counterfeiting security. Today, however, note issuers have much more sophisticated anti-counterfeiting technologies, so banknote iconography is no longer necessary for that purpose. According to neuroscientist David Eagleman, banknotes “are jam-packed with decorative features that have nothing to do with security—the trees, the patriots, the birds, the flags, the swirling colors. No one notices the security features because of all the distractions.” Eagleman argues that in order to maximize the efficiency of cash transactions, the ideal banknote would be “a blank white piece of paper with a single hologram in the middle.”

The fact that no monetary authority has ever followed Eagleman’s advice indicates that banknote iconography is not just for anti-counterfeiting. Eagleman himself suggests as much, lamenting that “currencies are supposed to impress the viewer with the regal power and artistic talents of a ruling body. Apparently, no government wants to appear un-regal and un-artistic when compared with another government.” In other words, Eagleman’s hypothesis is that political regimes are using banknote iconography to glorify themselves.

Read more here

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Numismagram's Jeremy Bostwick passed along these four medals from his most recent upload of new material to his site. For all of the new items, please visit -Editor

  Czechoslovakian Folklore Medal of Merit

102703 | BOHEMIA. Czechoslovakian Folklore bronze Medal of Merit. Issued 1895 for the exhibition held in Prague, and awarded to the staff of the steward service (55mm, 72.83 g, 12h). By V. Šantrucek & I. B. Pichl. NÁRODOPISNÁ VÝSTAVA CESKOSLOVANSKÁ V PRAZE, female figure in traditional attire kneeling right, removing garment from chest; MDCCCXCV in exergue // Male figure kneeling right, holding linden branch overhead; ZÁSLUZE / O. N. V. C. in two lines to right. Edge: Plain. Hauser 3785. Choice Mint State. Rich red-brown surfaces, with a great glossy nature in the fields and charming relief. $195.

To read the complete item description, see:
102703 | BOHEMIA. Czechoslovakian Folklore bronze Medal of Merit. (

Read more here

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Heritage is offering an important collection of coins and medals in their January 22, 2024 sale. Here are some selections. -Editor

  History and Pedigrees Abound in the
The LII Collection of Historical Coins & Medals Auction

On Monday, January 22, 2024, Heritage Auctions will offer The LII Collection of Historical Coins and Medals in an unreserved Showcase Sale. The 100 lots cataloged will be a fleeting moment compared to its 2,500 year span of history portrayed within. From Ancient Athens to Modern Tunisia, there are items to interest neophytes to advanced specialists. Significant pedigrees abound and often complement the historical events exemplified upon them. Many of these pieces are rarely seen except in named public sales or museums. Often, they are only obtainable generationally – if at all. Riveting imagery, superior condition, and attractive patinas broadly brush a sweeping canvas of numismatic iconography from “A” to “Zebra.” There should be something for all collecting tastes and budgets.

Read more here


AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS: Are your books carried by Wizard Coin Supply? If not, contact us via with details.


Noonan's of Mayfair will be offering a large collection of Scottish coins in their January 24, 2024 sale. Here's the announcement. -Editor

The first part of a large collection of Scottish coins dating from the period of William the Lion through to James V (c. 1180-1540) and amassed over the last 50 years will be offered at Noonans Mayfair in a single-owner sale titled A Collection of Scottish Coins, the Property of a Gentleman (Part I) on Wednesday, January 24, 2024 at 10am. The first sale will comprise 180 lots and is estimated at £60,000-80,000.

The collector, who wishes to remain anonymous concentrated on collecting silver coins (first pennies or sterlings, then in later reigns buying predominantly groats). It is a very commercial selection and with interest in Scottish coins still very strong, Noonans anticipate keen competition from dealers and collectors alike, both at home and abroad.

  Lot 13 - Alexander III - please credit Noonans 1
Lot 13

Highlights include an excessively rare and important sterling from the first coinage of Alexander III (1249-1286) from the Kinghorn mint in Fife, estimated at £1,200-1,500 [lot 13]. This is the place where Alexander is known to have died in a riding accident on a stormy night in March 1286.

Read more here

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The collection of the late D. Wayne Johnson will be offered for sale this year. Here's a short announcement from Stack's Bowers Galleries. -Editor

  sbg dick johnson sale

Stack’s Bowers Galleries is honored to be offering the D. Wayne Johnson (better known as Dick Johnson) Collection of art medals, coins, non-art medals, tokens, numismatic art, and assorted exonumia in a series of sales in 2024. Dick was a talented cataloger and numismatic historian who was a fixture in the world of art medals and the broader numismatic community for well over half a century. In addition, Dick cofounded the Rittenhouse Society in 1957 (a club of eminent numismatists that continues today) and was a founding editor of Coin World.

Read more here

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Here's a selection of interesting or unusual items I came across in the marketplace this week. Tell us what you think of some of these. -Editor

1729 Bavaria Charles Albert Double Karolin

1729 Bavaria Charles Albert Double Karolin

Charles Albert, 1726-1745.
Double Karolin 1729, Munich.
Very rare. NGC MS63. Extremely fine to FDC.

From the Künker Auction 100. -Editor

To read the complete lot description, see:
Karl Albert, 1726-1745. Doppelter Karolin 1729, München. 19.40 g. Fb (

Other topics this week include a Paul Niclausee medal, a 1918 Pittsburgh Field Club Golf gold medal, and a 1966 Royal Bank of Scotland £100 banknote. -Editor

Read more here

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A snowstorm arrived in Northern Virginia on Tuesday, January 16, 2024, giving me a snow day off work. But by dinnertime most roads and parking lots were cleared and I headed to Not Your Average Joe's restaurant in Reston for the dinner meeting of my numismatic social group, Nummis Nova. Lorne Lavertu was our host.

Before I could even sit down I was having a great conversation with Jon Radel and Roger Burdette about Roger's current work with handwriting recognition. For years now Roger has been diligently mining U.S. Mint records at the National Archives and digitizing them for the Newman Numismatic Portal. Most of these old record books, documents and correspondence were created before the invention and adoption of the typewriter, and thus are handwritten. While the neat script of trained office clerks is generally human readable, machines can have a tough time making it out. Then there is the scrawl of Mint officials' signatures. But combining newer machine techniques with his years of experience, Roger is making great strides. With accurate machine-generated transcriptions of old handwritten documents, researchers will have a much easier time locating and using records relevant to their work. It's becoming a great time to be a numismatic author and researcher.

Read more here

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Aaron Oppenheim passed along this article about a recently discovered 7th century BC coin-weight. Thanks. -Editor

Rare silver coin dating from the Persian period Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) Wednesday morning announced the discovery of a rare silver coin, roughly 2,500-years-old, which was found in the Judean Hill and considered one of the earliest evidences in Israel of the social transition to the use of coins.

In addition, the excavations also uncovered a building dating to the Kingdom of Judah period, in the 7th century BCE (2,700 years ago). Inside was a dome-shaped stone weight engraved to represent its value as one shekel.

“Through a tiny object like a coin, it becomes possible to trace human thought processes and observe that our economic habits have remained largely unchanged for thousands of years - only the technology has changed,” IAA Director, Eli Escusido, said in a press release statement.

Read more here

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Politico reported this week that the Paris Mint (Monnaie de Paris) was forced to destroy new euro coins due to a design snafu. Here's an excerpt - see the complete article online. Thanks to David Pickup for passing this along. -Editor

French Euro coins France has destroyed and reminted 27 million coins after failing to ask the EU for design approval and then being told they didn't conform.

The Monnaie de Paris, the country's mint, produced the 10, 20 and 50 cent coins with a new pattern in November but later discovered that the way the stars of the EU flag had been depicted was not compliant with the European Commission's very precise requirements.

Under EU law, countries can change the design of the "national" face of euro coins every 15 years, but they need the green light from the Commission as well as other eurozone governments, which have to be informed and have seven days to raise objections.

Read more here

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Len Augsburger passed along this American Philosophical Society video of a talk on research into Ben Franklin's anti-counterfeiting techniques. Thanks. He adds, "The early paper money part starts at 19:40 following (non-related) opening remarks from APS personnel." -Editor

Bucking the Counterfeiters: The Science Behind Franklin's Money Printing

Paper money in colonial America relied on the skill of its printers and reputation of its creditors for its value. Benjamin Franklin fought against money counterfeiting in pre-Federal America by inventing new printing methods and production measures. Khachatur Manukyan and his team at the Nuclear Science Laboratory in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Notre Dame have conducted a comprehensive scientific analysis of 600 paper money notes printed from 1709 to 1790 provide a unique perspective into Franklin’s ingenious ways for safeguarding bills, their materials, and historical instances of money manufacturing.

  Franklin Paper Currency colored fibers

Dr. Manukyan will join us on Franklin's 318th birthday to discuss the methods his team used to analyze pre-Federal American paper money from the Rare Books and Special Collections of the Hesburgh Library at the University of Notre Dame. Their investigation of the chemical compositions of the paper fibers, the inks, and fillers made of special crystals in the bills revealed previously unknown ways that Franklin developed to safeguard printed money notes against counterfeiting. Franklin used natural graphite pigments to print money and developed durable “money paper” with colored fibers and translucent muscovite fillers, along with his own unique designs of “nature-printed” patterns and paper watermarks.

Read more here


An article by Stack's Bowers Currency Auction Associate Bradley C. Trotter highlights an interesting scrip note payable in strawberries. -Editor

  Utica, New York. Strawberry scrip note front
  Utica, New York. Strawberry scrip note back

To many collectors, terms like Silver Certificate and Gold Certificate are instantly recognizable and conjure an array of iconic notes each bearing a range of denominations and vignettes.

However, prior to the emergence and nationwide acceptance of federal currency, a variety of local and state issues filled the void. Known to collectors today as Obsolete Bank Notes, these came in a variety of denominations and bore a cacophony of vignettes that were often tied to local industry.

Read more here


Here are some additional items in the media this week that may be of interest. -Editor

How People Come to the Hobby Today

A Numismatic News article by Patrick Heller discusses how people come to the hobby today. Here's an excerpt - see the complete article online. -Editor

Back in the 1960s, it was easy to become a young coin collector. You could start by sorting through your pocket change to fill in the holes in the inexpensive blue folders. There were also a number of newspaper carriers who became collectors then (and later several of them became dealers) because they collected the subscription money from the customers on their routes. Coin clubs galore sprang up across America from the 1950s through the 1960s.

The reasons that children today become numismatists are different from those in the 1960s. Fewer than 10% of today’s transactions in everyday commerce in America are settled with the use of coins or currency. Further, today’s coinage no longer has a metal value close to the face value of the coins.

The company where I work has several teenage- and under-thirty employees. Primarily, they became coin collectors because they appreciate history—and coins are a tangible way they can hold history in their hands. A couple just like looking at all the different coin designs, shapes, and metal contents. Even though these younger collectors may not constantly carry loose change in their pockets, they have still found their way to numismatics.

WWII pocket change

The generational shift in the hobby has been clearly evident for some time. I was one of those newspaper boys collecting subscription payments door to door beginning around 1969. I received silver and foreign coins regularly, and having already started Whitman albums, I eagerly looked for dates and mintmarks I needed. Those days are long gone, but the coins still exist even if they aren't seen in circulation. It's very heartening to see the influx of today's young collectors and dealers.

I'd like to hear from some of our younger readers - how did YOU get started in numismatics? -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
Young Collectors: 1960s Versus Today (

Other topics this week include the post-1933 gold coin melt, and the 'In Woman We Trust' tattoo. -Editor

Read more here

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