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The E-Sylum (10/27/2013)

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Here are a few lots that caught my eye in the upcoming numismatic literature sale from Charlie Davis, closing November 16, 2013. -Editor

Lot 351: The Decorah Numismatic Journal
E. W. HOLWAY: The Decorah Numismatic Journal, 1875, Cooley & Holway, Decorah Iowa, 4 issues, all published, 40 (4) pages, 5½x8", beige wrappers. Fine. (100.00)

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. In the 1st issue it predicted its demise which was announced in the 4th issue despite having received a two line plug in the American Journal of Numismatics. Its content dealt primarily with the coins and medals of Germany, not a surprise as Decorah was the home to Luther College.

Lot 352: Annotated Johnson on Bolen Cards


EDWIN L. JOHNSON: J. A. Bolen’s Medals, Cards, and Fac-Similes. An Accurate and Comprehensive Descriptive Catalogue of Bolen’s Works, With Number Struck in Each Metal, Springfield, Mass., 1882, 14, (4) pages, interleaved with blank sheets on which halftone photographs have been pasted, heavily annotated throughout in pencil, original russet cloth stamped in blind and gilt, pages mostly loose in the case (400.00)

Davis 542. Copy No. 32 with that numeral stamped in blue ink under the copyright notice. Extremely scarce, for although 150 copies may have been prepared, few seem to have survived. As published, the list enumerates and describes 43 tokens. In the present example, No. 44 has been added in a neat pen (“dies cut Oct. 1893 - 250 copper, 465 aluminum”). Each page is then annotated in pencil with the number struck in each metal receiving a check mark. In some cases, an additional metal (brass, w.m.) has been noted. The illustrations were pinched from the serial publication “Live American Numismatic Items” which ran in The Numismatist 1911-1912.

Lot 619: Dr. Sheldon’s Signed Copy of Würtzbach


CARL WÜRTZBACH: (Complete Set of Massachusetts Colonial Silver Money), Lee, Massachusetts, 1937, portrait of the author, 8 printed leaves, errata slip, four double page photographic plates depicting obverses and reverses of 83 coins, oblong quarto, 21½x28½ cm, maroon grained composition folder. Little if at all used, but the front cover is detached, an unfortunate but not uncommon condition. (600.00)

Davis 1199. Copy No. 24 signed by Wurtzbach and presented to Dr. William H. Sheldon. In the November 1947 issue of The Numismatist, Sheldon wrote Wurtzbach’s obituary referring to the work as a “brochure, the standard reference on the subject, illustrated from his own collection, later purchased by T. J. Clarke and one of the finest in the field.” He further called Wurtzbach “with Mr. Hines, Mr. Newcomb, and Mr. Clapp, the big 4 of the big cents. A beloved friend ...a shrewd, straight, and courageous trader.”

In the almost simultaneously dated preface to Early American Cents, he acknowledged “the heaviest indebtedness to the Chapman brothers, Carl Wurtzbach, J. Macallister and George Clapp. Proud of his accomplishment, Wurtzbach prepared this photographic record, probably in an edition of fewer than 50 (not sequentially numbered) copies, for presentation to his friends, although it would appear that many copies were distributed after his death and are not signed. The collection contained coins with awesome pedigrees: Brand, Bushnell, Clay, Hall, Finotti, McCoy, Mickley, Parmelee, and Stickney among others. The errata slip, which corrects the failure to describe variety No. 52 in the main text, is not present in all copies seen.

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