The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

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V23 2020 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 23, Number 28, July 12, 2020, Article 20

COINS PEDIGREED TO NUMISMATIC AUTHOR A. M. SMITH

A Stack's Bowers blog article by Senior Numismatist and Cataloger Jeremy Bostwick discusses the life and collection of numismatic author A. M. Smith. -Editor

Coins Pedigreed to A.M. Smith

Born in Denmark in 1841, Andrew Mason (A.M.) Smith led a rather remarkable life even without his contributions to numismatics. After serving with the United States Navy in Brazil, he returned to the United States at the outbreak of the Civil War, serving two enlistments—each of which saw him wounded and honorably discharged; the second saw him cited for his bravery. He then began civilian life in the world of business, first in Salt Lake City, Utah, then in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

It was there, in the city of Brotherly Love, that Smith became fascinated with the U.S. Mint and numismatics. For over a decade, he dedicated a great deal of time and resources to researching and collecting, aiming to acquire specimens of gold and silver coinage not just from the United States, but from around the world and into antiquity as well. His pursuits allowed him to publish such works as History of the U.S. Mint, History of U.S. Coins, A History of Colonial Coins, and Encyclopedia of Gold and Silver Coins of the World, as well as to serve as an editor for Coin Collectors Guide and Illustrated Magazine. During this time, he even became an acquaintance of A. Loudon Snowden, nephew of former mint director James Ross Snowden, who presented him with a rather elusive gift—an 1884 Proof set in copper with all ten types struck, quarter dollar through double eagle. Tremendous rarities in the realm of patterns, this gives an idea to the expanse of Smith's magnificent collection.

Ever the go-getter, Smith later saw the prospects of the burgeoning northwest, moving his family and business to Minneapolis in 1886, where he would operate a delicatessen and liquor store—marketing it rather ingeniously—until prohibition would cause its closure at the beginning of the 1920s.

The vast majority of Smith's numismatic collection was consigned by his widow in the mid-1930s to M.H. Bolender, where specimens such as that fabled 1884 copper Proof set were offered. Today, magnificent coins bearing his pedigree continue to cross the auction block, generating a good deal of enthusiasm.

Not everything was handled through Bolender, however, as the final three remainders from his collection are featured in our August showcase auction. These three ancient coins survived the Gold Recovery Act, as they were long ago part of a brooch and considered jewelry. Despite this, they nevertheless emanate from a rather important and scholarly collection formed in the early days of the coin collecting hobby in the United States.

Gold aurei of Nero (A.D. 54-68), the deified Antoninus Pius (A.D. 139-161), and Lucius Verus (A.D. 161-169) represent the final offerings from this great American collection and can will appeal not only to seasoned veterans of ancient coins but also to collectors of United States material who may be intrigued and want to step outside and into something a bit different. Check out these crossover appeal aurei in our August sale today!

For more information on A.M. Smith's literature, please visit this 1996 exhibit entitled The Challenging Literature of A.M. Smith and hosted by the Numismatic Bibliomania Society's website.

The Challenging Literature of A.M. Smith exhibt case01

To view Pete Smith's exhibit, see:
The Challenging Literature of A.M. Smith (https://www.coinbooks.org/about/exhibit_amsmith.html)

To read the complete article, see:
A.M. Smith—A Pioneer of American Numismatic Bibliomania (https://www.stacksbowers.com/News/Pages/Blogs.aspx?ArticleID=american-numismatic-bibliomania)

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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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