My recent column on the permanence of the printed word versus words
on a computer or television screen brought in more than a dozen
comments from readers.
Philip Tasker wrote to say: “As usual I read your column in the
November 25th Coin World. Also as usual it was insightful and thought
provoking. Interestingly, there is an article in the November 2013
Scientific American titled ‘Why the Brain Prefers Paper’ that supports
your proposition regarding the value of paper documentation. According
to the article, studies show people understand and remember text on
paper better than on a screen. It says screens are ... cognitively and
physically more taxing than paper.”
Cliff Mishler, who with Chet Krause built the Krause Publications
empire, wrote to say:
“The December magazine edition of Coin World arrived in my mailbox
today, which arrival reminded me that I had not dropped you a line
commenting on your ‘Permanency of Print’ observations in the column
presented in the previous weekly edition. How true your message is —
Let’s hear it for print! — from my perspective.”
Cliff went on to say that items in print were often saved —
sometimes for years. Things on the screen are here for the moment and
then gone and forgotten.
Beyond the above, and changing the drift to books, these are
permanent as well. Did you know that the first important
numismatically related book to be printed in America, Joseph Barlow
Felt’s 248-page opus, An Historical Account of Massachusetts Currency,
is still useful today?
One of the most pivotal and important books in American
numismatics and also one of the best “reads,” is Early American Cents,
by William H. Sheldon. If you don’t have a copy, buy or borrow one.
Warning: it may influence you deeply. I make this comment without
reference to the fact that if it was not for this book, we would not
have the 70-point grading system. We might have one that goes from 1
to 100 or 1 to 10 or something more logical.
My latest effort, A Guide Book of Civil War Tokens, is flying off
the shelves, according to Whitman Publishing LLC. The list price is
$24.95, but it can be bought for a bit less on the Internet. I have no
way of knowing, but I believe that this book, which costs money, will
have a more dynamic effect on numismatics than would the same
information free on a website.
New Year’s resolution in advance: Build a numismatic library! More
good books are in print today than ever before in the history of our
hobby. If you spend several hundred dollars on interesting books — no
more than you might pay for several Mint State Morgan dollars of
common dates — next year will hold pleasures and profits that go far
beyond the nominal cost.
Q. David Bowers is chairman emeritus of Stack’s Bowers Galleries
director of Whitman Publishing LLC.
can be reached at his private email,
firstname.lastname@example.org, or at
Q. David Bowers LLC, Box
Wolfeboro, NH 03894.