By Q. David Bowers
There is a peculiar aspect to the spending habits of most collectors. In a wink, and with little thought, many will spend $1,400 or so for a one-ounce gold coin. When it arrives, it is put in a safe deposit box. It yields little in the way of pleasure and enjoyment. Ask the same collector if he or she will spend $500 per year on subscriptions to numismatic organizations and for books and the answer is usually, “I don’t spend nearly that much.” The same person is obsessed with grades and prices, and that’s about it.
Longevity of interest in numismatics is best achieved by learning about the art, history, science, and romance of coins, tokens, medals, and paper money. The easiest, best, and least expensive way to do this is to build a modest working library of interesting and informative numismatic books.
A new entry in the field is the Journal of Early American Numismatics, two book-sized publications issued twice a year by the American Numismatic Society. Each is between 175 and 225 pages and is extensively illustrated. The editor is Christopher McDowell, whose specialty is research—unearthing facts and information not easily available. To this effort is added information from standard sources. The result is that a study of a particular item is apt to be definitive. There is a danger in JEAN however. You might want to rush out and buy a featured item, and that could cost you more than a one-ounce gold coin!
A year’s subscription costs $80, or if you are a member of the American Numismatic Society, $65.
Chris McDowell has just informed me of this:
Subjects for June issue include: A new and interesting variety of Massachusetts Pine Tree shilling; the Potosi Mint in South America and its impact on American coinage; new information on the Massachusetts Pine Tree copper coin of 1776; a new variety of George III counterfeit halfpenny that circulated in America; an article on the life of John J. Ford and his impact on numismatics, a study of the 1787-dated Fugio restrikes and their relationship to the original Fugio coinage; an overview of Lion dollars made in Holland that circulated as legal tender in America; and much more. All that and more in just one issue! Topics for the December issue that can be confirmed include – a full accounting of Miss Banks American colonial coin holdings with images and her papers relating to American coins; a complete study of Pitt tokens, and, of course, much more.
Though Sir Arthur Conan Doyle no longer lives, we may never learn more about Sherlock Holmes and the giant rat of Sumatra or the singular adventures of the Grice Patersons in the Island of Uffa, you can learn about Miss Banks’ singular contribution to a first-class American numismatic mystery that is still ongoing. As to the Ford article mentioned by Chris, as you read these words, I am in the process of finessing it for the June issue of JEAN. Full disclosure: I am a fellow of the ANS but have no vested interest in JEAN. I pay the same price for my subscription that others do.
Get ready! Get set! Go for it!