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The E-Sylum (10/6/2013)

Book Content

This topic has legs. Several readers submitted more numismatic items with images of books. Thanks, everyone! I'll start with one that no one noticed - it was shown in our last issue. In the ad for his next literature sale, David Sklow pictures a token with an image of a book. -Editor
Conder token DH-44

Warwickshire Coventry Conder Token
"Conder" token, Warwickshire Coventry, DH-44 listed in Dalton & Hamer page 266. Courtesy of David Sklow.

To visit Dave's web site, see:

Armenian Book Printing Coin
George Cuhaj writes:

Here is a recent NCLT from Armenia featuring books.

Armenian Book Printing

Louis Braille Bicentennial Dollar
Braille commemorative dollar Greg Adams writes:

How about this one from 2009 (Louis Braille Bicentennial)

Heritage cataloguer Mark Borckardt submitted another braille book on a coin, and a musical score - not a book per se, but close enough for we bibliophiles. -Editor

State Quarters With Images of Books
Mark Borckardt writes:

A couple honorable mentions for the list of coins depicting books:

  • The Alabama state quarter depicts Helen Keller with a braille book
  • The Tennessee state quarter depicts a musical score

2012 American Platinum Eagle
Dennis Tucker writes:

2012 American Platinum Eagle reverse The 2012 one-ounce Proof American Platinum Eagle has a book in its design. To quote the U.S. Mint’s literature: “It depicts a vigilant minuteman from the Revolutionary War, representing the protection and defense of the country during its early days. The minuteman carries a rifle and a book, which symbolizes the importance of knowledge in defending our Nation.”

This coin is featured in Ed Moy’s upcoming American Gold and Platinum Eagles --- a coin with a book within a book about coins. It makes one’s head spin!

Some Ancient Showing Books
Ed Hohertz writes:

1 Justinian II A nice question that did not pique my interest until I saw the answers – all the examples given are relatively modern coins. So to look at some older ones, try Justinian II (Byzantine Empire, 685-695 A.D.) with Christ holding the book of the Gospels .

2 Jewish coin of the Bar Kochba revolt The predecessors of books are scrolls, and we find an end view of a scroll in the Ark of the Covenant on a Jewish coin of the Bar Kochba revolt (132-135 A.D.) .

3 Roman Republic denarius with Clio, the Muse of History Before that is a nice Roman Republic denarius with Clio, the Muse of History, holding an open scroll (56 B.C.) .

4 Greek coin with Homer As an example of Greek coinage there is Homer holding a scroll in his left hand (Ionia, Kolophon, 50 B.C.) .

5 Greek coin from Syracuse, Sicily Finally, to go further back in time is this Greek coin from Syracuse, Sicily, with a female holding a scroll (216-215 B.C.) .

Photos are courtesy of Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.

To visit the CNG web site, see:

Medals with Books
John Sallay writes:

In response to the query in the last couple editions of the E-Sylum regarding books on coins, I can’t help but point out that there are easily several hundred, if not a few thousand medals with books included in the main devices. As a collector of school award medals, I must have at least a couple of hundred such medals myself.

1642 Basel Switzerlad school prize medal obverse 1642 Basel Switzerlad school prize medal reverse

The earliest medal showing a book that I’m aware of is the 1642 silver school prize medal from Basel, Switzerland (M&H 39, Leu 1122). The obverse shows a full length figure of a boy who is reading an open book, while he is being crowned with a laurel wreath by an arm reaching down from the clouds above. The legend VIRTUTIS COMES GLORIA roughly translates as “Fame is a companion of virtue”.

Christ's Hospital Markers' Medal obverse Christ's Hospital Markers' Medal reverse

The earliest medal that I know of showing only a book as the device is the Christ’s Hospital (London) markers’ medals, which were issued for several decades to the school monitors beginning in 1755 (Grimshaw 1981, #89). The reverse shows an open Bible with the inscription “HEAR READ MARK LEARN”, with the initials of the headmaster and date.

This phrase is taken from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer (Collect for the Second Sunday of Advent), “BLESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them…” I certainly don’t mean to compare any numismatic book to the Holy Bible, but perhaps this motto can be appreciated by even the most agnostic numismatic bibliomaniac as it may relate to books generally. Well…maybe not the “mark” part!

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: MORE COINS WITH IMAGES OF BOOKS (

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