Last month’s column featured three miniature (no more than 4 inches
tall or wide) numismatic books. We look at three more books this week.
Among the handful of such tiny tomes published in the United
States, three stand out as special because they not only are about
numismatics, but also contain “extras” relating to money. One has
“old” paper money bound in; another boasts a medal affixed to its
front cover; still another — perhaps the ultimate in numismatic
“extras” — has both an American coin and “paper money paper” as
James Lamar Weygand, in Money to Burn, tackles the question:
“Where does old paper money go to die?” He discovers that from 1866 to
1943, 30 to 40 companies used macerated currency to manufacture
novelty items, including, oddly enough, costumes for dancers.
Published in 1972 at Press of the Indiana Kid for Maestro Books, only
100 copies of this 24-page, a little bit more than 2.5-inch-tall,
volume were produced. Bound in following its final page is a handmade
envelope containing “shredded paper money residue.” Money to Burn is
the only miniature numismatic book with a fold-out, but its content is
more prosaic than typical fold-outs: it reproduces a 1906 ad for a
wallet made from macerated paper money.
If you prefer your numismatic extras unshredded, Lionel Austone’s
Liberty Enlightening the World may be just the ticket for you.
Published by the Gold Stein Press in 1986, the year that the Statue of
Liberty reopened after a two-year renovation, this little (nearly 2.75
inches tall, 33 pages) volume nonetheless recounts the statue’s
history, complete with Emma Lazarus’ celebrated poem, “The New Colossus.”
Information provided within reveals that 142 copies were printed,
100 of them with a .999 silver “medallion” (actually, a medal) of
Liberty Enlightening the World affixed to the front cover, and 42 with
the “medallion” plated in 22-karat gold. This small (less than 1-inch
in diameter) medal, reminiscent of the 1986-W Statue of Liberty gold
$5 obverse, was the work of “R.C.,” who is not credited beyond the
initials on the medal.
The most numismatic of the miniature numismatic books, however, is
Joy Goforth’s Symbol of America: An American Indian Liberty. Not only
about coins (the story of James Longacre’s designing the Indian cent),
it has a genuine Indian cent, obverse up, affixed to the front cover.
More than even that, its pages are, in a manner of speaking,
actually money. According to the author: “This book was printed on
Crane’s bank note currency paper, used for the first time in a book.”
The endpaper designs are taken from Longacre’s patterns for
coinage, and one of the book’s illustrations is a portrait of Sarah
Longacre, the purported model for her father’s personification of
liberty on the cent.
In order to contain these features, Symbol of Liberty is the
tallest of all American miniature numismatic books, a “whopping” 2.75
inches high! Published in Dallas by the Somesuch Press in 1986, its
run totaled 275 copies.
The numismatic “extras” in these volumes don’t inflate their
prices; even Symbol of Liberty, when available, will cost no more than
$150 to add to your collection.
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