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The E-Sylum (10/24/2010)

Book Content

Davie Lange submitted this illustrated update on his experiences with Hobbies magazine. Thanks! -Editor

A few months ago I inquired about the availability of Hobbies magazine, a publication that was popular from the 1930s through the 1960s. I was seeking copies to examine them for information and ads regarding coin boards, folders and albums. Several readers responded with possible sources, and Dave Bowers graciously loaned me a bundle of issues from the years 1934-35. My examination of these revealed no mention of anything related to coin holders of any type, and I concluded that they were just too early for the products of interest to me.

Whitman - Hobbies Magazine January 1942

On eBay I found a nice assortment of issues ranging from 1937-50, and I purchased this lot to examine at my leisure. Since leisure time is not in abundant supply, it took me about six weeks to finally sit down with these and go through them. In the January 1942 number of Hobbies I did find a nice ad announcing the introduction of Whitman's new coin folders, the now familiar blue folders still being printed today. Though copyright dated 1940, these debuted in 1941, the year in which the January number was actually published. One or two additional Whitman ads appeared in later issues, but there was not one mention of coin boards, folders or albums in the editorial content of the issues I examined.

I've pretty much given up on Hobbies as a useful source of information for my current book project, but that's not to say that this publication is of no value to numismatists. Thomas Elder's monthly column "Recollections of an Old Coin Collector" ran for many years, and it provides some very amusing reading. Elder pulled no punches in his recall of collectors and dealers of earlier decades, nearly all of whom were no longer living to provide a rebuttal. The greatest irony is his frequent assertions of how so-and-so was far too opinionated! It would be a fun project for someone to compile all of these columns into a book, though I don't know whether the material in Hobbies is still under copyright.

As a general observation, I found that the biggest coverage in this magazine was given to antiques of all kinds and to philatelics. Stamp collecting was absolutely huge during the 1930s, due in no small part to President Roosevelt's well known love of the hobby. The philatelic section in Hobbies was typically 10-15 pages long, while numismatics was worthy of only three-four pages per month during that period.

As the 1940s progressed, this ratio actually reversed itself. Coins were slowly overtaking stamps as a hobby, though the reduced stamp coverage in Hobbies also may have reflected the simultaneous publication of periodicals devoted to that subject exclusively. In any case, it is interesting to see which hobbies occupied the minds of Americans at that time.

Hobbies Magazine June 1937 L W Hoffecker - 1936

I'm attaching some illustrations scanned from various issues that may be of interest.

To read the complete article, see: MORE ON HOBBIES MAGAZINE (

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