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May 19 2022

Newman Portal Adds Decorah Numismatic Journal

Through the courtesy of Joel Orosz, Newman Portal has added the Decorah Numismatic Journal, edited by Edward W. Holway of Decorah, IA. Remy Bourne’s American Numismatic Periodicals 1860-1960 notes four quarterly issues of the Journal from January to October 1875. This short-lived periodical came and went quickly, but the publishers get credit for sticking to their original commitment. The story is told in the January issue. “Coming into our sanctum one day, we found the following obituary posted in a conspicuous place: DIED / On April 1, 1875 / From lack of subscribers, / The Deocrah Numismatic Journal / Sorely lamented by the Editor, Foreman & Devil. / Success to its cremators, / Peace to its ashes. However, we do not believe in croakers, and, if we live, those malign predictions shall not be verified. This Journal shall be published a year – subscribers or no subscribers.” The publishers were true to their word, and the journal persisted through the end of the calendar year.

Charles Davis, in his November 16, 2013 sale observed “Perhaps the rarest of American numismatic periodicals, one has to question why it existed in the first place, other than perhaps to eat up otherwise idle time on a press…Its content dealt primarily with the coins and medals of Germany, not a surprise as Decorah was the home to Luther College.” Holway also shows up in the American Journal of Numismatics, writing on a Swiss Reformation (Zwingli) medal in the April 1875 issue. Pete Smith, in the Summer 2004 Asylum, credits Holway with a single fixed price list, issued in 1875. Holway later appears in the Chapman brothers’ business correspondence at the American Numismatic Society – he wrote to the Chapmans on October 30, 1879, on the Winnesheik County Bank letterhead, asking for their ancient coin catalogs. The Chapman’s first sale, including ancient coins, took place on October 9 of that year, so this request was likely in response to an announcement of that sale.

Link to the Decorah Numismatic Journal
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