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V23 2020 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 23, Number 21, May 24, 2020, Article 12

FANTASTIC 1804 DOLLAR "1ST EDITION" CENSUS

Len Augsburger and Joel Orosz are embarking on a fresh census of the rare "first edition" of The Fantastic 1804 Dollar. -Editor

NEW CENSUS OF "FIRST EDITION" COPIES OF
THE FANTASTIC 1804 DOLLAR
YOUR ASSISTANCE REQUESTED

Newman Fantastic 1804 Dollar The Fantastic 1804 Dollar, published in the autumn of 1962, is an evergreen work of numismatic scholarship, weighing in at #26 in the Numismatic Bibliomania Society's "One Hundred Greatest Items of United States Numismatic Literature." While long out of print, Fantastic was published in sufficient quantities to make it available to current-day scholars and collectors for a moderate price. This standard edition, however, was preceded by an earlier edition, bound in exactly the same fashion, and printed in a limited quantity. This "first edition" of The Fantastic 1804 Dollar is more accurately described as "bound page proofs," initially meant to be circulated to selected numismatists for pre-publication review.

Before these reviews could take place, however, the sensational announcement that a previously- untraced fifteenth example of the 1804 silver dollar had been located rendered parts of Fantastic obsolete, and required the co-authors, Eric P. Newman and Kenneth E. Bressett, to rewrite several sections of the book before it could be published. The bound page proof copies, no longer useful for proofreading, became instant collector's items, and have been centerpieces of many of the finest numismatic libraries assembled over the past 58 years.

Articles have been written about this distinctive volume of bound page proofs, and trial listings of survivors have been offered (including one by Wayne Homren, published in 2001, in The Asylum, the journal of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society). Part of this book's appeal has been its rarity; it is estimated that only 36 to 40 copies were produced, and some may not survive today. On the other hand, because these bound page proofs are indistinguishable from the standard edition due to their identical size and binding, it is possible that more "first editions" exist than the estimates suggest. Moreover, a handful of previously undescribed copies have surfaced over the past few years, making the question of the exact size of the surviving population all the more intriguing.

Fantastic 1804 Dollar TOC
Coin World graphic of Tables of Contents from the two variants

The undersigned, therefore, with the consent, advice, and help of the book's co-author Kenneth Bressett, have decided to undertake a thorough census of all surviving bound page proof copies of The Fantastic 1804 Dollar, and to ask for the help of all numismatists to make the census as accurate and as complete as humanly possible. If you own a copy of the bound page proofs (key diagnostic: in the bound page proof table of contents, chapter IX is entitled "The Diplomatic Gift Delusion"; in the standard edition, chapter IX is entitled "The Origin of the 1804 ‘Originals'"), we ask you to share the following information with us:

1. Description of the book's condition: with any interior or exterior damage or identifying marks noted.

2. Provenance of the book: The source from which you purchased the book; date of purchase; the lot number if at auction; the price you paid; and any stamps or bookplates of previous owners.

3. Annotations or corrections: if any are made within the text, please report them. Similarly, if there are loose enclosures that came with the book, please describe their contents.

4. Autographs signed, or inscriptions written: by the co-authors, or anything written in the book by a subsequent owner.

If you do not wish your name to be published, your request will be honored, and strict confidentiality will be preserved at all times.

Please send this information by June 24, 2020 to the co-authors:
Len Augsburger at Leonard.Augsburger@wustl.edu
Joel J. Orosz at joeljorosz@gmail.com

Our findings will be published in The Asylum, the official journal of The Numismatic Bibliomania Society, as soon as the census can be confirmed and completed. Thank you in advance for your assistance with this project.

Double check your copy, bibliophiles! Is there a hidden gem in your library? And if you don't already have a copy, used versions are available online for as low as $5 or $10. Is one of these a rarity? Only one way to find out! -Editor

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
COIN WORLD ARTICLE FEATURES FANTASTIC 1804 DOLLAR BOOK VARIETIES (https://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v11n44a12.html)

To read 1804 Dollar Book articles in the Summer 2001 Asylum, see:
The Asylum, Summer 2001 (https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/book/436)

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address: whomren@gmail.com

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