Dick Johnson submitted this open note to Heath MacAlpine who mentioned in his Subscriber Profile that he's trying to put together a collection of Joe Levine's Presidential Coin and Antique catalogs.
I must congratulate you both for your chosen collecting topic of Society of Medallists and your desire to complete this series you mentioned in last week's E-Sylum. Also your wish to put together a collection of Joe Levine's auction catalogs.
Joe's catalogs (Presidential Coin & Antique) are extremely useful and will be more so in the future. I have indexed all of Joe's sales from #42 (June 1987) to date by citing each medal (sale and lot number) to the respective artist in my American Artist Databank (now over 2,800 pages in length and growing daily). I plan to put this on the internet in 2010, so you will have the opportunity to look up any American medal (whose artist or maker is known) to learn his brief biography, all the coins, medals and similar items the artist created, plus an extensive bibliography for that artist. Also recent auction sales, and the public collections where that piece is located (for a dozen museums) and where the piece has been illustrated.
Formerly I did this indexing by marking up one of Joe's catalogs. (Now I find it more accurate to photocopy each page and mark up the photocopy.) Thus it was my goal to have a double set of Joe's catalogs (to keep one pristine!). I only accomplished this by buying a run of Joe's catalogs in the Arlie Slabaugh library sale and paying a premium $600. And this did not contain the first 11 issues (which I subsequently obtained).
Heath, I hope you can obtain your set for less than what I had to pay, but as you surmised, you will find they are invaluable for the information, attributions and sheer collector lore they contain. Joe does an outstanding job in the preparation of his catalogs. This is even more incredible when you consider Joe is a one-man operation!
I've been working on the SOM collection for quite some time; I bought my first example, #16 by Beach, way back when I was in college in 1978 from (drum roll) Johnson & Jensen. I bought a couple more from you (including a large bronze #28 by Schmitz) before life intruded and the collection went (mostly) on the shelf.
I did join the SOM for a period of time in the late 70's thru the early 90's with a few gaps. I dusted it off several years ago, joined the Medal Collectors of Amercia (MCA), and got serious about finishing it. I have about six left to get, including the two of the terribly difficult to find late ones (the Weinman and the Moss pieces).
It's been a lot of fun putting the collection together, and I've had some interesting experiences with it. A reference would have been a great boon in the process although, when one is published, I fear we might see too much popularity. I understood that Mr. Scarinci was at work on it. Do you know if the project progresses?
I agree with your assessment of the Levine catalogs. First rate stuff, and just fun to read. As I finish up the SOM collection, I plan on using them to pick a new direction for my efforts. Your index will be very valuable.
Finally, as someone who was raised up on Whitman folders and the Redbook, it amazes me that there doesn't seem to be a good, comprehensive reference on the medals of the US Mint. Julian is very interesting, but we have a small gap from the point where it concludes to the present. Is there something out there besides the Mints early 70's sales catalogs and I've missed it? If not, I would nominate this area as one for the MCA to consider if they beginning commissioning new works.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
SUBSCRIBER PROFILE: HEATH MACALPINE
Wayne Homren, Editor
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