BOOK REVIEW: AGRICULTURAL AND MECHANICAL SOCIETY MEDALS OF THE U.S.
The E-Sylum (1/3/2010)
In a recent E-Sylum I reported the just-printed book by Andrew Harkness "Agricultural and Mechanical Society Award Medals of the United States" published by and available on only www.lulu.com At the time I had not yet received my copy and the book was almost completely unknown except for Joe Levine's advance copy from author Harkness.
Well, I received it today and here are my comments. I was concerned that the book would arrived battered in the mail, all the way from New York City publisher lulu.com Not so. The Post Office-shipped large hard cardboard box with the book itself stabilized in the interior with sealed plastic wrap arrived in impeccable condition. The notoriously picky bibliophile John J. Ford, Jr. would have been pleased. I ordered it online a week ago and here it is in my hands.
The book is truly "eye-candy" . Only available in soft cover (I would have paid extra for a hard cover if there was one), this is the color version at $85. + $3.99 shipping + NY sales tax if shipped there. A quality book with quality paper, it is 198 pages of the most beautiful color U.S. medal photography you could hope for. There are 483 medals pictured obverse and reverse, all depicted actual diameter - totaling almost 1000 plates. Sharp, crisp & colorful, a 5x glass magnifies any detail without any intrusive dot pattern.
According to the Preface, author Andy Harkness started collecting this challenging series in 1969 and he's still going strong at 75 yrs. He has indisputably built the largest and finest collection of these local, state and federal mostly-handheld or "table " medals ever assembled and makes my smaller (but perhaps more select) collection of these (see www.neocollect.com for my collection) seem anemic by comparison. There are so many medals depicted in this reference that I'd give my eye-teeth for...so many pre-1900 large silver and gold medals totally hand-engraved and necessarily unique.
The subject matter and plated contents of the book will appeal to a broad spectrum of serious medal or diesinking collectors: U.S. mint medals, pre-1900 gold and silver medals, totally engraved medals, medals designed and die-sunk by specific firms or diesinkers like Lovett, Barber, Furst, etc, medals depicting famous people or animals like horses, livestock or machinery, medals from California, Utah or South Carolina or a collector's particular region or state. In my opinion collecting for 55 yrs, after seeing these medals, no reasonably astute collector can ever return to slabbed Morgan dollars or Saint-Gaudens double eagles.
Yes, the book - buy the color version and not the $35 b & w version - is fairly expensive at $85. I would have preferred to pay $50-$60 myself but lulu.com didn't plan on selling many books and the book, I understand, is literally assembled as orders come in- but promptly so and shipped . Yes, it would have been easy to designate the metal of each medal pictured and the millimeter diameter but there are very few where the reader is in doubt about whether the medal is silver or white metal and all medals are reportedly depicted actual size.
All things considered, this is a must-have for any serious collector of American medals or diesinkers and the only way to order it is on line through www.lulu.com in NYC. They don't even have an 800 number.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NEW BOOK: AGRICULTURAL AND MECHANICAL SOCIETY MEDALS OF THE U.S. (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v12n51a05.html)