NOTES ON RECENT NUMISMATIC PERIODICALS
The E-Sylum (9/5/2010)
The current issue of the American Numismatic Association's journal The Numismatist has a number of good articles, including two by Arlyn Sieber (see www.money.org ).
The cover article is about the new Grand Canyon Quarter. It's an interesting design that I think works well, but I'll withhold judgment until seeing one of the coins "in the flesh". It would take a big coin (or medal) to truly do justice to the scale of the canyon, but the chosen design just might work on the quarter.
Sieber notes that Fine Arts Commission member Witold Rybczynski "thought the whole program was a bad idea because of the difficult of depicting the subjects in this small format."
The article focuses on the Canyon and its history, but I was disappointed to come to the end and realize that the article actually said very little about the coin itself. That seemed odd for a numismatic publication. Just because a coin is new is no reason to gloss over the numismatic facts. Who designed the coin? What was their artistic inspiration? What did their preliminary sketches look like? When did minting start, and where there any production problems?
Sieber's other article expands on a topic covered in April here in The E-Sylum - the rare and interesting medal honoring football coach Vince Lombardi. The medal's design clearly shows the influence of the "stacks of reference material on Greek and Roman coins" reviewed by the designer. There was more numismatic content to this article, although I'm not sure I learned anything that wasn't already published in the newspaper articles quoted in The E-Sylum.
I think it's a great choice of topic for a broad-based publication like The Numismatist. I would encourage the ANA to seek out sport publications and web sites to reprint or reference the article - perhaps it could lure some new blood to the hobby. Those of you who aren't members should consider joining - information is available on the ANA's web site (see link above).
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: MEDALLION DEPICTS VINCE LOMBARDI AS LAUREL-CROWNED HERO (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v13n16a27.html)
Naturally, I wasn't disappointed with the numismatic content in Dave Bowers' Historian's Diary column. Titled "A Very Rare Bank Note from China" the article discusses the history behind an interesting obsolete banknote from "The China Bank" of Maine. Basically, "the whole thing was a sham, and state examiners found the bank had very little in the way of real assets..."
Paper Money, September/October 2010
There's even more of interest for the paper money enthusiast in the latest issue of Paper Money, the journal of the Society of Paper Money Collectors (see www.spmc.org ).
The cover article by Joseph J. Gaines is "The Indian Princess Vignette Used on Obsolete Currency". The stories behind the images used on obsolete banknotes are often very interesting - the tale of James Audubon's famous grouse is only the tip of the iceberg. Roger Durand authored several books on the topic, and think we'll see more and more research in this area. For one, it's a ripe and never-ending field of new research, and for another, today's scanning and computer imaging technology brings these miniature artworks to life like never before.
The cover image is a great example - here, big as life, is the famous "Indian Princess" that graces one of the rarest pieces of Confederate paper money. As Gaines describes in the article, the vignette had appeared earlier on notes for the Bank of Charleston South Carolina produced by the firm of Hoyer and Ludwig. All in all, the author identifies nine different entities which used the vignette, beginning as early as 1837.
Other articles in the issue cover topics such as National Currency, Canada's "Diefendollars", the local currency of Central City, CO, and the banknotes of Panama. Bibliophiles would appreciate the account of the 7th annual SPMC author's forum, held in Memphis in June.
SPMC will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2011, and will be offering $100 New Author Awards for the five best short articles (1,200 words or less). I asked Paper Money Editor Fred Reed about the program, and he writes:
The new author awards are the result of a very generous and anonymous SPMC member who is now a prolific author, but had to begin as a "new" author years ago. He remembers the excitement of seeing his work finally "in print," and wanted to share that joy with others who haven't yet taken that first step. The benefactor figured a little incentive like cash might launch some promising writing careers by turning wannabees into the next group of dedicated researcher-writers who will share their findings with the rest of the paper money hobby through SPMC's journal. I think it's a great idea. We set the standard at entry-level (1,200 words or less) so we're not looking for ginormous articles. But all the famous writers in the hobby that are names we all know, like Bowers, and Hessler and Huntoon, started out with that first tentative effort. I applaud the generosity and insight of our donor.
TAMS Journal, May-June 2010
My issue of the TAMS Journal arrived this week. New editor Stephen Bobbitt is getting caught up on the publishing schedule and producing a nice product with glossy color covers and a clean readable layout.
The lead article is "A Remembrance of TAMS' Beginning" by George Fuld. It's an interesting and concise account of the formative years of the Token and Medal Society. It had its beginning in 1952 with a notice in the American Numismatic Association's Numismatist magazine. About ten people responded, including George and his father Melvin.
Informal discussions were held at the Middle Atlantic Numismatic Association (MANA) show in September 1960, and a month later an organizational meeting was held at the Michigan State Numismatic Convention in Detroit, and TAMS was officially born. George notes that today, "50 years later, only four of these organizational members are still alive - [Dave]Bowers, [Thomas] Fruit, [Clifford] Mishler and [Hank] Spangenberger."
Of interest to bibliophiles is this note: "In 1964, Joel Segel, founder of The Franklin Mint, contributed $100,000 to TAMS, allowing the society to begin publishing books on tokens and medals. Foremost among the major works was R. W. Julian's 1971 book on Unites States Mint Medals."
Nice article, and a nice issue, which includes "San Francisco Exonumia and 1898 Golden Jubilee" by William D. Hyder and Looking for Answers about a "CC" Maverick" by Robert D. Leonard, Jr. For more information on TAMS, see tokenandmedal.org .