The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 27, Number 11, March 17, 2024, Article 15


Jeff Burke submitted this piece inspired by a group of coin club publications. Thanks! -Editor

  Chautauqua Coin Stamp and Curio Club program booklet Albany Numismatic Society booklet

  Scott Miller's Coin Club Booklets
Jeff Burke

Scott Miller was kind enough to loan me some coin club literature at our February 2024 meeting of the New Jersey Numismatic Society. These booklets and pamphlets included examples from The Chautauqua Coin, Stamp and Curio Club (1946, ex F. Gordon Frost); Albany Numismatic Society (November 1943, ex F. Gordon Frost); Ninetieth Anniversary Celebration 1860-1950 Boston Numismatic Society; Papers Presented At Meetings of the Brooklyn Coin Club (1941); Prospectus of the British Numismatic Society (Second Edition, 1903); and A History of the Royal Numismatic Society 1836-1986.

Coin clubs past and present have struggled with member recruitment. The Boston Numismatic Society (BNS) was no exception to this challenge. Founded in 1860, it thrived for a time but eventually, due probably to an excessive caution in electing new members, shrank to a mere six members by 1897. (Boston Numismatic Society, p. 6). William Sumner Appleton (senior), who held the office of secretary from the beginning, was the sole survivor of the founders. From 1899 to 1906 just one BNS meeting was held annually. Although the Society dwindled to a membership of three, Howland Wood, subsequent curator of the American Numismatic Society, led a successful rejuvenation of the Society. (BNS, p. 6). While the Boston Numismatic Society was pulling through its membership struggles, the British Numismatic Society launched, in 1903, with members so numerous that their names spanned many pages of one of the Society's inaugural pamphlets. (British Numismatic Society, pp. 3-9). As a stateside reader, I scanned with curiosity the members' titles of nobility and distinction, fit to rival those of guests at any Downton Abbey gala!

  Boston Numismatic Society 90th Anniversary booklet Paper of the Brooklyn Coin Club booklet

The 1946 Chautauqua booklet had a notice that caught my attention. In an advertisement for Clarke's Better Coin Envelopes and Coin Boxes, T. James Clarke, President of Box & Label Works Inc. of Jamestown, New York, states that During the war we were unable to manufacture any Coin Boxes, as our entire output was used for Medicinal purposes and for holding materials for war needs. (Chautauqua Coin, p. 26). Across the Atlantic, retaining minutes during the war proved to be a difficult endeavor for the Royal Numismatic Society (RNS). Regrettably one portion of Council minutes is missing, that covering the years from 1937 to 1941. Apparently the then current volume was kept by the secretary of the day, John Allan, in the British Museum, and was lost when the Coin Room was destroyed by fire in the blitz of 1941. Fortunately, RNS Fellows at that time were able to recall some of the lost information (History of the RNS, Preface, p. vii).

  Prospectus of the British Numismatic Society booklet History of the Royal Numismatic Society booklet

I enjoyed being transported back in time by reading these coin club publications. I will close with a quotation from the Boston booklet which offers a glimpse of coin collecting from the 1860s to the 1890s. The first three decades of its existence saw the society generally active with members in various states of the Union and abroad, holding meetings monthly and evidencing interest equally in American and European numismatics. (BNS, p. 6).

Looking now to the decades ahead, as a numismatist who primarily collects coins and tokens, this foray into the past has expanded my idea of collecting to include coin club medals and club literature from both the United States and around the world.

Except for those from the largest national organizations, coin club publications are generally published in small numbers and are often ephemeral in nature. They are well worth collecting, and as Jeff notes, can be a delight to read. They can contain great information that might otherwise be lost to posterity. -Editor

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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