Charles Morgan of CoinWeek published a nice article on the landmark book by Albert R. Frey - Dictionary of Numismatic Names. Here's an excerpt - see the complete article online.
I'd like to share with you a few thoughts about a book by one of these figures of the past–early 20th-century numismatist Albert R. Frey–that I recently acquired.
Frey was a major figure in the New York City numismatic scene in the early 1900s. Born in 1858, he was active around the turn of the century, publishing books on coins and encased postage stamps. Frey joined the American Numismatic Association (ANA) in December 1900 and was given member number 225. He later adopted the number 12. In 1905, Frey was elected President of the Association. As president, he sought to strengthen the ANA's bona fides, bringing it more up the level of his hometown American Numismatic Society (ANS) (which he joined in 1910). In 1911, he took over editorial duties on The Numismatist.
Frey's writing was sophisticated for its time. From his ouevre, three works stand out to me. In 1901, he collaborated with
Little Eddie, the son of firebrand Ed Frossard, to publish The Copper Coins of the United States. In 1914, he published the landmark work The Dated European Coinage Prior to 1501. And in 1917, he published Dictionary of Numismatic Names.
This week, a copy of the 1947 edition of Numismatic Names arrived at my office.
As I understand the work, it began as an article published in the American Journal of Numismatics in 1916 and was expanded upon for the purposes of the book. The 1947 edition was published two decades after Frey's passing and features additional content in the form of a glossary that was contributed by Mark M. Salton.
The publisher of the 1947 edition took me by surprise, for it was Barnes & Noble – today, one of the few big box retailers still around. One doubts that they'd publish a new edition of a niche work like this today. My example was signed in 1948 by Dr. Jose D. Jiménez. As of now, I do not know if Dr. Jiménez was a numismatist of note, but I intend to find out what I can.
What a close reading of the 260+ pages of entries makes clear to me is not only did Frey command a mastery of the subject matter but also that his prose effectively communicates the perspective of one making a serious study of a complex subject.
I'm impressed by the fact that Dictionary of Numismatic Names holds up as a work to be read, and not just as a relic to be collected.
To read the complete article, see:
A Vintage Book and the Legacy of a Numismatic Hall of Famer
Wayne Homren, Editor
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