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
Here is one of three recently sold numismatic books profiled in this
Impressively illustrated Icones imperatorum romanorum, 1645 printing
Occasionally, rare numismatic books appear in non-numismatic
auctions, and Sotheby’s Nov. 29, 2016, Music and Continental Books and
Manuscripts auction in London featured an important and impressive
1645 printing of Icones imperatorum romanorum. The book is
noteworthy because it contains 144 large woodcut chiaroscuro medallion
portraits of important rulers from Julius Caesar to Ferdinand III. It
is also popular because of its engraved title page after Flemish
artist Peter Paul Rubens.
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The book was originally published in Bruges, Belgium, in 1557 with
engravings by Hubert Goltzius. The offered book was part of a series
of printings of Goltzius’s work by printer Balthasar Moretus in
Antwerp and is generally considered the finest edition of Goltzius.
The 1645 printing extends the original sequence of portraits, leaving
several blank medallion forms.
The book sold for £1,000 (roughly $1,250 in U.S. funds) on an
estimate of £1,000 to £1,500 and was consigned by a European noble
family. Another example, finer, was offered at Kolbe & Fanning’s
NYINC sale at an estimate of $3,000 but did not meet its reserve.
More Notable Numismatic Books That Have Sold Recently:
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.
Start 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?”