As we will see, the final Rulau-Fuld edition will remain a necessity for collectors interested in post-1890 Washingtoniana, omitted from the 2016 Musante volumes.
Musante and the 21st century
Massachusetts researcher Neil Musante’s challenge must be called daunting, as it certainly was to predecessors that may have considered revising Baker.
Fortunately, he was not easily deterred and had the stamina to see the task to completion within the parameters he had established.
It was not Musante’s intent to simply “revise Baker,” copying or extending his format or listings. Those had been bare-bones and without illustrations in 1883, and were still limited in Fuld’s 1965 work.
Presentation of all needed basic information in Musante’s introduction is wonderfully concise, rational and consistent.
Photography is superb throughout both volumes. Published measurements include 21st century metric diameters and weights and their equivalents in units Washington would have understood.
One great annoyance has been cleansed thanks to Musante’s hands-on familiarity with the many small-diameter Washington medals created for the booming medal trade of the 1850s. These include George Hampden Lovett of New York, Joseph Merriam of Boston and John Adams Bolen of Massachusetts.
Particularly refreshing is his detailed listing of Lovett’s pesky 10-medal sets of Washington’s Headquarters medals with varying obverses that were presented with particular incoherence in the later editions of Baker.
The decision to simply eliminate listings of post-1890 medals was courageous though it may draw resentment from “completists,” though more than one veteran Washington collector suggested this step in recent years.