The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 25, Number 18, May 1, 2022, Article 11


New member Ed Kelliher writes:

"I'm just learning about the NBS, and have just sent out my check for a 3-year print-and-digital membership.

In the meantime, I could really use your help: Throughout my search, you appear to be the authorized reference source closest to that which I'm investigating. Specifically, I seek articles and/or artifacts (books, magazines, etc.) that focus on what makes a coin special, and how it got that way, including the history leading up to the coin's notoriety.

So, for example, I know there are accounts out there that talk to the beautiful and (in)famous 1916 Standing Liberty quarter. Well, in similar vein, there MUST be similar accounts for the why and how behind the 3-legged buffalo(es), the allure of overdates and multiple mintmarks, the driver(s) behind minting ultra-high relief specimens, the fuzzy universe of double dies, the history behind the "heavy" 1852-O quarter, etc...I could go on and on.

Is there, like, a certain series of books or articles that I can buy ?

A Sincere Thanks for any/all information you can provide !"

  Bowers, Adventures with Rare Coins Twisted Tails book cover

Welcome to NBS!

Almost any book by Q. David Bowers would fit the bill at least in part. Adventures With Rare Coins and the sequel More Adventures With Rare Coins are good places to start. Some other good general books in my library include Twisted Tails: Sifted Fact, Fantasy and Fiction From U.S. Coin History by Robert Van Ryzin and Facts & Fictions About Coins by Leon Lindheim. A newer one covering some interesting oddball topics is Keep the Change: A Collector's Tales of Lucky Pennies, Counterfeit C-Notes, and Curious Currency by Harley J. Spiller.

  Burdette Renaissance of American Coinage 1905-1908 World's Greatest Mint Errors book cover

I can also highly recommend Roger Burdette's well-researched three volume work, Renaissance of American Coinage covering the 1905-1921 period. A great coffee-table book on errors is Mike Byers' World's Greatest Mint Errors. And Whitman Publications has a whole series of "100 Greatest" books including titles on U.S. coins and U.S. error coins. Most of these are out of print but available thru numismatic booksellers and Internet sellers.

I reached out to NBS Board member Joel Orosz who provided a number of great additions. Thanks! What else would readers recommend? -Editor

I think you have gotten Mr. Kelliher off to a great start. I have a few ideas to add:

  Coins and Collectors 1792 Birth of a Nation's Coinage

In addition to QDB's two Adventures with Rare Coins books, he also wrote two Coins and Collectors volumes that also talk a lot about "special" coins, and what makes them the subject of so much longing and romance.

Of course, one must not forget the intriguing story of the enigmatic 1792 half dismes, as told by Pete Smith, Joel J. Orosz and Leonard Augsburger in their award-winning 1792: Birth of a Nation's Coinage. Not only are the authors insightful and scholarly, they are all ruggedly handsome, too!

  Secret of the Good Samaritan Shilling Newman Fantastic 1804 Dollar

Eric P. Newman's The Secret of the Good Samaritan Shilling is a must-read, as is Newman's and Ken Bressett's The Fantastic 1804 Dollar.

For the 1913 Liberty Head nickels, there is Paul Montgomery, Mark Borckardt and Ray Knight, Million Dollar Nickels.

Kevin Flynn's The 1894-S Dime: A Mystery Unraveled, is a good read, as is Jim Neiswinter's The Aristocrat: The Story of the 1793 Sheldon 15.

  1822 Gold Half Eagle book cover Double Eagle book cover

QDB's The 1822 Gold Half Eagle: The Story of a Rarity, covers this legendary coin well. So does Alison Frankel for the 1933 double eagle in her Double Eagle.

Martin Logies covers The Flowing Hair Silver Dollars of 1794, and Dean Albanese rather breathlessly hypes the 1804 plain-4 proof eagle in King of Eagles: The Most Remarkable Coin Ever Produced by the U.S. Mint.

Finally, an oldie but goodie, Don Taxay's Counterfeit, Mis-Struck, and Unofficial U. S. Coins, has a clunky title, but absolutely fascinating contents. It covers coins as familiar as 1914-D Lincolns and 1937-D "Three-Legged" Buffalo nickels, to more esoteric delicacies, as the "Novum Belgium" piece, or the "1805" silver dollar.

Oddly, there are a couple of prized pieces for which I cannot think of a single comprehensive book written about them, namely the Brasher Doubloon and the 1848 "Cal." quarter eagle.

Of course, a thorough search of the Newman Numismatic Portal could turn up articles by the dozen on these topics. But these books should be enough to keep Mr. Kelliher occupied for a while.

Finally, I'd encourage Mr. Kelliher to write an article on his findings for The Asylum. It is amazing how often important details from key references are overlooked, even when that reference has been in print for a long time.

Archives International Sale 76 cover front

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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