US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Aug. 17, 2020: Research opportunities

Recently, the Coin World staff, aided by fellow Amos Media Co. employees, has been pulling books and journals and auction catalogs from its library shelves and putting them into boxes as we prepare to move to new offices. In some cases, though, some of the literature was tossed into recycling bins, not because the catalogs and journals have no research value but instead because much of the information is available online.

In the past, I avoided tossing even common auction catalogs; they on occasion proved useful even years after the sales they represented was over. However, most such catalogs, once placed on the library shelves, were never again opened.

Today, though, online resources are replacing print resources. The Newman Numismatic Portal offers thousands of catalogs and books, and club and commercial periodicals, most available to researchers. Auction companies maintain access to their catalogs.

I remember that in 1989, in researching the 1804 Draped Bust silver dollar with a D stamped into one of the clouds on the reverse, I spent hours in our library and talking by phone with other numismatists in my effort to determine whether the D stood for Dunham or Dexter, two owners of the coin at different times. At the time, numismatists differed in their speculation of who stamped the D in the coin.

Today, if I were to begin the same research, much of my efforts would be online at sites such as the Newman portal.

With that backup, my recent decision to discard certain catalogs and periodicals was easier than it would have been five or six years ago.
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I love the feel of printed literature in my hands and I own a large traditional library, but most of my nonhobby book purchases are now read on my iPad.

Incidentally, in my article, I sided with John J. Ford, who believed that William Forrester Dunham probably punched the D into the coin, and not James V. Dexter. Today, researchers agree with the Dunham identity.

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