US Coins

Start of ANA foreshadowed in set of 1891 publications

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:

Eight issues of Plain Talk discussing the birth of the ANA, 1891

The Price:


The Story:

Plain Talk was a relatively humble New York publication that focused on various hobbies including numismatics. Numismatic editor Charles T. Tatman asked in the March 1891 issue, “Why should there not be an American Numismatic Association,” explaining, “We are aware that there exists in New York an aged and respected association called the American Numismatic and Archaeological Society, but we would have one to include the less advanced set of collectors who constitute the greatest body of the numismatic fraternity.”

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Tatman’s subsequent dialog with Michigan’s George Heath in his publication The Numismatist led to the creation of the ANA, which remains the largest association of coin collectors in the world.

Kolbe & Fanning offered a lot containing eight issues from March to November 1891 (lacking August) that represented the most substantial offering issues of this rare publication in years. It sold well above its $750 estimate, realizing $1,770.

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.

Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society bookBook with the first article on American coins a winner in auction: James Mease’s article “Old American Coins” is considered by most to be the first numismatic article on American coins published in America. A copy just sold.

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