Many reasons exist to collect complete runs of coin magazines, like
The Numismatist or The Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine.
Most important is access to their informative articles, some of
which are still current, while others have been rendered obsolete by
new information, but either way, they record what people knew about
coins, and when they knew it.
Another great reason to collect old periodicals is that each
individual issue is a delightful time capsule. The ads, the pictures
and the writing style transport you to another time. Mostly, that trip
is wonderful; some of it will make you cringe; but all of it is
guaranteed to fascinate!
Let’s look, for example, at an issue of The Numismatist from more
than 50 years ago: November of 1962. This issue reported on the highly
successful joint convention of the American and Canadian Numismatic
Associations, held in Detroit, Aug. 15 to 18, 1962.
Nineteen well-illustrated pages reported on the convention,
including news that the British firm of Spink and Son had discovered,
and was offering, the “King of Siam” Proof set, which included a
fabled 1804 silver dollar. This revelation knocked the props from
under the arguments made in the forthcoming book by Eric P. Newman and
Ken Bressett, The Fantastic 1804 Dollar, and caused Bressett to
literally run to a telephone and shout to their publishers at Whitman:
“Hold the presses!” David Spink’s and James Risk’s article, “New Facts
About an Old American Coin,” still makes for rapt reading, but
interestingly, they do not reveal the source from which Spink
purchased the King of Siam set.
The aforementioned Newman and Bressett have a full-page ad for
their now-delayed book. Coin-hunter — Catherine Bullowa — has a
It’s fun to see younger versions of old friends, but some
1962-vintage writing is wince-worthy by today’s standards. A picture
of seven women on page 1459 is captioned “Seen at the ‘squaw party’
before the luncheon.”
But the ads are pure delight. You might hesitate before crossing
the Rubicon Coin Co. (page 1594), but it might be preferable to buying
from Loser’s Coin Store (page 1583).
If you bought from Loser’s though, you could always turn to
Moldaner Coin Service to purchase a blue-on-white terry “Coin
Collector’s Crying Towel” (page 1574).
Most of all, you come to understand why so many improperly cleaned
coins exist today. 1962 was coin-scrubbing heaven; on offer were:
Brilliantize, Jeweluster, Copper Coin Cleaner, Golden Glow Coin
Cleaner, and Gem-Pruf, with its enticing tag line, “Makes Any Coin a Gem!”
So, whether you want to read important articles, or “Get Coins
Clean with Nic-a-Lene,” collecting old coin journals is for you!
JOEL J. OROSZ is a charter member of the Numismatic Bibliomania
Society and co-author of The Secret History of the First U.S. Mint. He
can be reached at Joeljorosz@gmail.com