The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 24, Number 29, July 18, 2021, Article 17


American Numismatic Biographies author Pete Smith submitted this piece on the authors of the classic guide to grading U.S. coins. Thank you! I added images of a copy of the book in my library. -Editor

In 1958, the coin hobby needed a grading guide and that need was met by A Guide to the Grading of United States Coins by Martin R. Brown and John W. Dunn. The 1958 paperback edition had photos to illustrate coin types and written description for eight circulated coin grades. By the hardbound fourth edition (1964), published by Whitman, the grades were illustrated with line drawings. A seventh edition was published in 1980.

The line drawings were by Racine artist Arthur Mueller. He also did the drawings for the Standard Guide to Grading Canadian Coins.

The authors also collaborated on Market Value Index for Circulating United States Coins in 1962.

Brown and Dunn Grading Guide 4th Edition book cover Brown and Dunn Grading Guide 4th Edition sample page
Fourth Edition Brown & Dunn

American Numismatic Biographies has very brief biographies for the authors.

Brown, Martin R. Author (b. 10/22/1910 d. 10/21/1989)

Born in LaDue, Missouri. Married to Antonia Jaronek with four sons and a daughter. Dealer after 1937 in Oklahoma City. Later the business was run by his son.

He died in Hillcrest Hospital.

Dunn, John W. Author (b. 12/2/1903 d. 9/28/1991)

Born in Aransas Pass, Texas. Married to Dorothy Brewer and divorced prior to 1940. Married to Blanche Lazelle Laughlin in 1940. They had two sons. Resident of Norman, Oklahoma (1930). Collector after about 1920.

He received the ANA Medal of Merit in 1964.

I thought the authors deserved a better memory so I dug a little deeper.

Martin Richard Brown was the son of Grover Cleveland Brown (1883-1956) and Emma D. Brown (1883-1960).

M. R. Brown joined the ANA in 1936 as member 5508 and began to run ads in The Numismatist in 1938. He served as vice-president of the Oklahoma City Coin Club in 1939. He continued in business as Brown's Coins and Stamps.

As a bit of a distraction, dealer M. Ralph Brown from Albuquerque, New Mexico, joined the ANA in 1942 as member 8868. He made contributions in the study of Mexican numismatics. Unfortunately, in the Centennial History of the ANA, author Bowers identifies M. Ralph Brown as the co-author of the grading book.

Martin and Antonia Brown are buried at Resthaven Gardens Cemetery in Oklahoma City.

Researching John W. Dunn proved to be quite a challenge. John Wallace Dunn, John William Dunn and John William Wallace Dunn are multi-generational names and more than one have connections in Oklahoma.

Dunn, .John. W. John Wallace Dunn was the son of the Reverend Wallace Alexander Dunn (1870-1940) and Lessie I. Morland Dunn (1877-1961). The family moved frequently, never appearing at the same location for the census. His children with Dorothy were Lessie B. Dunn, named for his mother and John Wallace Dunn, Jr.

John W. Dunn joined the ANA as member 25156 in 1956. He served as vice-president of the Oklahoma City Coin Club in 1956 and produced a design for the club medal in 1958. Dunn was president of the Sooner Coin Club in Norman in 1960. He served on committees and made educational presentations for the ANA.

Dunn was a more prolific writer than Brown. He was a member of the Numismatic Literary Guild and wrote about various topics including Indian Trade Tokens of Oklahoma.

John W. Dunn was a theater professor at the University of Oklahoma and Director of the WPA Federal Theater Project in Oklahoma. He is credited as author of Flopsy, Topsy and Mr. Bowser and Artists and Models which appears to have been written for puppets. He was also affiliated with the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority and director of stations KOKH and WNAD.

John W. Dunn is buried at Sunset Memorial Park in Norman, Oklahoma. Blanche Lazelle Loughlin Dunn remarried and is buried in another cemetery in Norman.

Pete Smith proposes giving an E-Sylum Smarty-Pants Award to the first correct response to this question: Who won the first gold medal at the 1896 Athens Olympics? -Editor

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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

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

To subscribe go to:



Copyright © 1998 - 2021 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.

NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster