Some numismatic books are planned but never written, like the three
discussed last month.
Then there are coin books that are started, never finished, but
published anyway! Their authors failed to cross the finish line due to
apathy, procrastination, or illness, but what they did write was so
valuable that their incomplete manuscripts found their way into print.
Collectors of New Jersey coinage will recognize the name of Damon G.
Douglas, a building contractor, who began researching Garden State
numismatic history during the 1940s, and discovered many previously
unknown facts about the Rahway Mint and its coinage.
But he eventually lost interest in numismatics. After Douglas’ death
in 1974, his son donated his papers to the American
Numismatic Society, where the unpublished manuscript became a
veritable information gold mine for collectors of New Jersey coins.
Thanks to the work of Gary Trudgen, David Gladfelter, Roger Moore,
Dennis Wierzba, and Raymond Williams, in 2003, the gold mine was
published as The Copper Coinage of the State of New Jersey:
Annotated Manuscript of Damon G. Douglas.
If you are interested in the approximately 125 surviving 1794
Flowing Hair dollars, thank the late Jack Collins for launching the
intensive study of this great rarity.
Collins was co-founder of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society, and a
world-class coin photographer. During the 1980s, he decided to catalog
and photograph every surviving example of America’s first silver dollar.
Collins was a procrastinator, but was close to finished when he died
in 1996. Collins’ friend (and also NBS co-founder), George Kolbe,
teamed with Alan Meghrig to publish the unfinished manuscript as
1794: The History and Genealogy of the First United States
Dollar (with Walter Breen credited as co-author).
Sometimes, a writer is sailing along on a manuscript when fate
intervenes. As Steve Crain has noted, Daniel W. Valentine roared out
of the gate in writing The United States Half Dimes, but he
died a few months after publication in 1931.
You can buy Charles V. Kappen’s and Ralph A. Mitchell’s
Depression Scrip of the United States: Period of the 1930s,
States A Through I, published in 1961, but they never published
a projected second volume.
In 1992, Cory Gillilland wrote Sylloge of the United States
Holdings in the National Numismatic Collection of the Smithsonian
Institution, Volume 1, encompassing gold coins from 1785 to
1834, but 22 years on, there is still no second volume.
Len Augsburger, who suggested this “unfinished” topic, cannot be
included in our list because he has finished every numismatic book he