The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 23, Number 21, May 24, 2020, Article 2


Don't forget to place your bids in the Kolbe & Fanning's numismatic literature sale closing May 30, 2020. There are many great rarities here. Here's another group of selections handpicked by David Fanning. -Editor

Kolbe-Fanning sale 156 cover Sale 156: David's Personal Picks

We've been busy at Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers getting ready for our Sale 156, which will be held on Saturday, May 30. We've already sent out a couple of emails about this sale, pointing out various highlights and discussing how to register, but the eclectic offerings in the sale seem to encourage some personal reflections (or ramblings), so we've loaded David up with coffee and asked him to pick a handful of lots that have not been discussed in earlier emails and say something about them.

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K-F sale 156 Lot 17 Elder plates of Demanhur Hoard tetradrachms K-F sale 156 Lot 53 Jules Sambon sale catalog
Lots 17 and 61

Lot 17: Tom Elder plates of tetradrachms from the Demanhur Hoard. This is one of those American productions that I would like to see better known among ancient coin specialists. While arguably not as useful as a plated auction catalogue, it's a significant photographic record of this hoard, depicting both sides of 300 tetradrachms from this important find.

Lot 61: the 1830 sale of the collection formed by James Douglas, Earl of Morton, who had died more than sixty years earlier. This is a fairly early Sotheby & Son catalogue, and is well-preserved in a handsome binding. Priced and named catalogues are the gold standard for doing provenance research in the era before photographically illustrated catalogues.

K-F sale 156 Lot 61 1830 James Douglas sale K-F sale 156 Lot 73 Ernest Babelon volume on engraved gems
Lots 53 and 73

Lot 53: the massive catalogue of the Jules Sambon collection. The Sambon catalogue is frankly amazing, covering all sorts of artistic productions and artifacts. The sections on coins and medals add up to over 500 lots, and about 100 lots of ancient coins are depicted on three exceptional plates. This copy is especially nice as it has been sturdily bound: the original oversized card covered bindings were inadequate to the task, and most copies that survive to this day are the worse for wear.

Lot 73: Ernest Babelon's important volume on engraved gems, in a beautifully rendered binding. Engraved gems are, of course, not numismatic, but they have frequently been collected by the same people as their creation involves many of the same engraving techniques and the final results are often similar. This volume, written by the esteemed numismatist Ernest Babelon, is in a binding I just love, with the spine decorated with inlaid leather pieces of various colors carefully cut into the shape of gems and gilt. It's just a splendid volume.

K-F sale 156 Lot 90 Le Club Français de Médaille's Bulletin
Lot 90

Lot 90: a nearly complete set of Le Club Français de Médaille's Bulletin. This is a publication that just doesn't receive enough attention, and substantial runs are virtually never encountered. The focus is on modern medals, though occasional articles delve into earlier periods. It is well-illustrated and contains much information on modern medals and medalists that is otherwise difficult to find.

K-F sale 156 Lot 110 Fleurimont medals of Louis XV K-F sale 156 Lot 193 Bushnell-Davis-Brand American Journal of Numismatics
Lots 110 and 193

Lot 110: Fleurimont's (or is it Godonnesche's?) work on the medals of Louis XV. Overshadowed by the magnificent volumes on the Louis XIV medals, this charming and well-engraved work on the Louis XV medals gets short shrift. It was a work that was seemingly always in progress, and every time I catalogue a copy it seems I am adding to the number of states I've encountered (my current tally being seven issues of between 33 and 78 plates).

Lot 193: As I'm trying to focus here on works that are often ignored, it may seem odd to single out volumes of the American Journal of Numismatics, hardly an obscure journal. The provenances on these, and the story told by those provenances, makes them impossible to overlook. The set was started by Bushnell, who had the first volume bound in his trademark binding. When he died, Robert Coulton Davis acquired his set and continued it, having the second volume here present bound to match. When Davis died, Virgil Brand acquired the set and continued it by having the final two volumes here present bound to match (each bound volume here includes two volumes of the AJN). While the volumes aren't consecutive and their condition isn't perfect, they speak eloquently of the bonds formed and respect shared between collectors.

K-F sale 156 Lot 278 Frossard 1885 Coins of the Orient sale K-F sale 156 Lot 289 Haseltine on Continental Currency
Lots 278 and 289

Lot 278: a plated copy of Frossard's 1885 Coins of the Orient sale. This has been a favorite of mine for years. I've always found Frossard fascinating, and his catalogues often focus on areas I enjoy. The rarity of some of his plated catalogues is a further draw. This particular sale was produced to the tune of 25 copies, making it a rarity from the time of publication, and the plates exhibit a bewildering variety of coins from Asia and Africa, including India and both the Near and Far East. What amazes me about this catalogue is that Frossard was able to step up to the challenge of writing it in an era long before the ready availability of catalogues of world coins. Even an outstanding numismatic library would have seemed inadequate given the task of writing this catalogue in 1885, and I admire Frossard's willingness to take on such a challenge.

Lot 289: rare works by John Haseltine on Continental Currency. Most of Haseltine's reputation today stands upon his auction catalogues, which is unfortunate because, with a couple of notable exceptions, they are a bit thin. He was, however, among the most knowledgeable American numismatists of his generation, and one wishes he'd written more. Here we have a couple of his works on Continental Currency, a subject on which he was an acknowledged expert. These are rarely encountered and the first, more substantive, title includes some highly interesting illustrations. Intriguing in themselves, it should also be noted that these are from the John J. Ford Library.

Check out the sale today at Bids placed via post, email, fax or phone must be received by May 29, the day before the sale, in order for them to be processed. Advance absentee bids may be placed at any time online at Live internet bidding will be available during the sale itself through the same platform. We look forward to hearing from you.

To read the earlier articles, see:

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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