Howard R. Engel is the proprietor of Richard Stockley Books in
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, specializing in numismatic and philatelic literature. He recently inaugurated a new column on literature in Bison Tales, a publication of the Manitoba Coin Club. They and Howard kindly agreed to my request to excerpt the articles here in The E-Sylum. Thanks for sharing this. Items discussed are generally part of Howard's stock. All readers are welcome to do the same, offering a "show-and-tell" about interesting numismatic literature items in their library, duplicate file or stock.
Engel's Angle on Numismatic Literature
Welcome to a new column about important yet affordable Canadian numismatic literature. Thanks to the Bison Tales editor (who wishes to remain anonymous by request) for inviting me as your friendly neighbourhood antiquarian, used and out-of-print numismatic and philatelic literature dealer (the only one, as far as I know, left in Canada that specializes in these areas) to provide a few words about such important titles currently in my stock. While the idea for this column arose from the editor of Bison Tales, the title "Engel's Angle on Numismatic Literature" came from me, although not entirely. As the Vice-President and General Manager of his family company known (at that time) as Atomic Transfer Ltd., my father, Roland R. Engel, wrote for a column in the Atomic Flash company newsletter (published from 1962 to 1967) called, you guessed it, "Engel's Angle".
Naturally the question arose about where to begin with such a rich, varied and long history in Canadian numismatic literature that is, as the Bison Tales editor suspected, quite well-represented by my stock. Why not at the beginning, of organized numismatics in Canada, that is? The first organized numismatic group was the one formed in 1862, five years prior to Canadian Confederation, variously called in more or less chronological order, the Numismatic Society of Montreal, the Numismatic and Archæological Society, Montreal, the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Montreal and, latterly, the Antiquarian and Numismatic Society of Montreal that met at the Chateau de Ramezay. This is Canada's oldest public building, built in 1705 by Claude de Ramezay, appointed as the 11th Governor of Montreal in 1703 and briefly occupied, in 1775 by American revolutionary forces, including Ben Franklin and Benedict Arnold and purchased as a site for a museum by the Society in 1895.
It continues to serve as a museum and tourist destination to this day, housing many artifacts documenting the history of Montreal in particular, including one of Canada's most extensive numismatic collections. I paid my first visit (or perhaps more appropriately, "pilgrimage") during the RCNA Convention held in Boucherville, Quebec on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, next door to Montreal in 2017. Thanks to the Society led by Ludger Gravel, the American Numismatic Association held its first-ever convention in Canada (only one of two) at Chateau de Ramezay in 1909. Although not the primary site of the 1923 ANA Convention in Montreal (thanks again to Gravel and his Canadian ANA committee), it was one of the most popular tour destinations, especially given its rich numismatic history.
Alfred Sandham (1838-1910) a native Montrealer, has the distinction of publishing Canada's first ever coin book in 1869, Coins, Tokens and Medals of the Dominion of Canada, under the auspices of the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Montreal of which Sandham became one of its most active members in 1865 and helped to incorporate the Society in 1870 (exactly 99 years before the Manitoba Coin Club was incorporated in 1969).
Sandham was instrumental in getting the Society to strike its first medal commemorating this occasion and its 1862 founding, 42 mm in size in both white metal and bronze and listed as Breton
171 and Leroux 1610.
According to a letter by Sandham found in a copy of his book in 1992 by collector and researcher Barry Uman, only 300 copies of this book were printed, 250 were bound and only 100 sold, which gives an idea about the relatively small size of the organized numismatic community concentrated in Montreal at the time (ca. 1870). Although original copies of this book still exist and only very occasionally turn up on the secondary market (I had the good fortune of picking one such copy up for a song from a Brooklyn, NY antiquarian book dealer earlier this year), they would normally command a much higher price several times that of the 1962 reprint by the Canadian Numismatic Publishing Institute (CNPI) of Winnipeg, my hometown. Thankfully, copies of this reprint are much more readily available.
Sandham, Alfred. COINS, TOKENS AND MEDALS OF THE DOMINION OF CANADA. Winnipeg: Canadian Numismatic Publishing Institute, 1962 reprint. 72, (2) pages; frontispiece; text figures; 8 plates. Fine $40.
Sandham was also the first editor, from 1872 to 1876 of The Canadian Antiquarian and Numismatic Journal, that was published off and on in various series until 1933. Somer James (1921-2005) of the CNPI reprinted Sandham's book a hundred years after the first coin club in Canada was formed in 1862. He also reprinted seminal numismatic works by P.N. Breton, Joseph Leroux and American Colonial History Illustrated by Contemporary Medals by Charles Wyllys Betts. In addition, as the proprietor of Regency Coin and Stamp Co. of Winnipeg, he collaborated with expert photographer Harold Cleveland Taylor (1887-1965), founding Vice-President of the Manitoba Coin Club and great grandfather of our First Vice-President, Ken Dobson, to produce the first 8 editions of A Guide Book of Canadian Coins, Currency and Tokens (1959-1966). Watch this column for more about The Canadian Antiquarian and Numismatic Journal, the original works and reprints of P.N. Breton and Joseph Leroux and the James/Taylor Guide Book, among many other Canadian numismatic treats.
Douglas, Scott E. "The Chateau de Ramezay and the Antiquarian and Numismatic Society of Montreal". The Canadian Numismatic Journal. Vol. 56 no. 2, Mar. 2011, p. 72-75.
Uman, Barry. "Alfred Sandham (1838-1910)". The Canadian Numismatic Journal. Vol. 44 no. 10, Dec. 1999, p. 471-474 and reprinted with colour illustrations in Oct.-Nov. 2017, Vol. 62 no. 7 of CNJ, p. 299-303. [reprinted with excerpt of Alan Roy's
The CN Journal article in June 2008 The E-Sylum]
Thanks, Howard! Readers can reach him at 204-253-0419 or by email at
Congratulations Howard on his first anniversary at the helm of Richard Stockley
Wayne Homren, Editor
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