Mike Costanzo submitted these notes on the diary of early coin collector Isaac Mickle. Thank you!
A Gentleman of Much Promise; The Diary of Isaac Mickle 1837-1845, (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1977) may be of interest due to the fact that Mickle was also a numismatist. Aside from keeping a diary, he occasionally attended coin auctions as well as visited fellow collectors.
One such visit occurred on Sunday, September 27,1840, when Mickle was seventeen years old:
"I went over the river this morning to look at a collection of curious coins owned by a certain John Kane who is a complete original in the great family of fools. He carries his love for his hobby to such a length, that while he has medals and coins to the value of an hundred, nay, a thousand dollars, he hardly has a crust of bread for his children or a whole shirt for himself. Judging from his house and the appearance of every thing in it, you would suppose that poverty could make him no poorer; but judging from the cabinet of coins which he exhibits to you, you would take him to be some princely antiquarian and connoisseur, to whom the riches of Potosi* would be no object. Such are the eccentricities of man!"
(*Potosi was a Bolivian city with rich silver mines)
Mickle's description of Kane's residence and personal living habits in relation to his impressive coin collection are revealing. I believe every numismatist, myself included, has at some time or another wondered if they were "crossing the line" when it came to adding to their collection, compared to paying the rent or other basic amenities, and feared that they might see "John Kane" in their own mirror. All collectors experience a healthy sense of guilt when it comes to their hobby, whether it be monetary or even time spent on it. But it's comforting to know collectors have wrestled with this through the ages, and probably always will.
Personally, I keep my collecting in check by reminding myself that great collections, such as Eric P. Newman's, took a lifetime to complete, while J.P. Morgan's took tons of cash.
And don't look to Freud for answers, even he collected stuff!
A copy of the book, donated by Joel Orosz, was sold as lot 23 in the recent 2022 Charity Auction at the General Meeting of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society. Here's the lot description from David Fanning's catalog.
Diary of an Early Collector
23 Mickle, Isaac. A GENTLEMAN OF MUCH PROMISE: THE DIARY OF ISAAC MICKLE
1837–1845. Edited by Philip English Mackey. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1977.
Two volumes, complete. 8vo, original matching russet cloth, gilt, and yellow boards; endpaper
maps. xxviii, (2), 248, (2), (6), 251–531, (1) pages; occasional text illustrations. Housed as issued in
accompanying slipcase. Near fine. $80
Mickle was an early American numismatist who occasionally discussed his interest, and the collections of others, in
this diary. As early as 1840, he associated with collector Joseph B. Cooper, and he attended the September 28, 1840 auction sale at Birch's of the Godfrey Krumback collection, an extremely early U.S. numismatic auction sale. Little known.
Ex Black River Books, 2020.
Donated by Joel Orosz
To read the complete sale catalog, see:
2022 CHARITY AUCTION
Wayne Homren, Editor
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
To subscribe go to: https://my.binhost.com/lists/listinfo/esylum
Copyright © 1998 - 2021 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.
NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster