US Coins

How much for first-ever published U.S. coins article?

An 1838 volume of Collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society containing James Mease’s chapter “Old American Coins” brought $944 at NYINC.

Original images courtesy of Kolbe & Fanning.

Numismatic literature continues to provide rich opportunities for collectors to purchase rare and important items at relatively reasonable prices (especially compared to coins).

While several key players have dropped out of the rare numismatic book market in the past few years, the partnership of George Kolbe and David Fanning continues to produce impressive auctions, including Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers’ 2017 auction held on Jan. 14 in conjunction with the New York International Numismatic Convention.

The firm noted in the introduction that while the world has changed since its first NYINC auction in 1982, “our shared love of the historic and the beautiful, the original and the authentic, remains the same.”

Here is one of three recently sold numismatic books profiled in this Market Analysis: 

The Lot:

The first article on American coins published in America, by James Mease, 1838

The Price:


The Story:

A work of numismatic literature need not be long to be important. The first article on American coinage was published as part of the book Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Third Series, Volume VII in 1838. James Mease’s article “Old American Coins” is considered by most to be the first numismatic article on American coins published in America.

As Eric P. Newman published in the summer 1992 issue of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society’s publication The Asylum, Mease’s brief chapter remains important for helping numismatists understand circulating value of Connecticut coppers, among other things.

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Mease published on a variety of subjects ranging from geology to medicine; for example his 1811 book Picture of Philadelphia describes the operations of the United States Mint.

The 1838 volume offered at Kolbe & Fanning on Jan. 14 featured an impressive 19th century brown leather binding with marbled endpapers and was described as having unusually fresh and clean pages. It sold a bit below its estimate of $1,200, at $944.

More Notable Numismatic Books That Have Sold Recently:

Icones Imperatorum Romanorum bookThis numismatic book is over 370 years old and sold for $1,250: The book is noteworthy because it contains 144 large woodcut chiaroscuro medallion portraits of important rulers from Julius Caesar to Ferdinand III.

Plain Talk issuesStart of the ANA foreshadowed in recently sold set of 1891 publications: Numismatic editor Charles T. Tatman asked in the March 1891 issue of Plain Talk, “Why should there not be an American Numismatic Association?”

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