The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 14, Number 13, March 27, 2011, Article 13


Pete Smith's query on what to do with unpublished manuscripts prompted these responses fom readers. -Editor

Dick Johnson writes:

I expect librarians from each of the major numismatic libraries will reply to Pete Smith's plea in last week's E-Sylum. One would expect them to gush: Send those unpublished manuscripts to my library, we will gladly accept these at our institution!

But there is a bigger problem here. Manuscripts are the tip of the exposed iceberg. What isn't seen and supports those manuscripts - and wasn't mentioned by Pete last week - is a much larger volume: the research papers, photographs, photocopies, news clippings, and tons of notes. Add to that now computer files and discs.

So the key to all this in one word is SPACE. Does the institution have the space to acquire more material? Also does the institution have the PERSONNEL to catalog, archive and conserve such material? Otherwise if it sits in dead storage it is not of much use to anyone.

Here are some tips to numismatic researcher-writers:

1. Organize your material. Use any physical format you are comfortable with, but organize. Use plenty of cover sheets and summaries or abstracts.

2. Keep related material together. Put it in notebooks or in file folders and folders in expandable files or boxes.

3. It is somewhat useful to put dates on these. If you have written several drafts, this will help identify the latest version, for example.

4. Contact a library of your choice before you die, ask first if they will accept it, give a general description, how much space it occupies. Ask how they plan to catalog, conserve and make available your material to other scholars.

5. Put explicit instructions in your will and let family members know of this explicit disposition desire on your part.

6. If you feel your "papers" are of such volume, scholarly value and importance that they have a monetary value, spell out explicit instructions. These can include such plan as to hold a closed auction of say, three or four institutions of your choice, and let them bid on your "papers." Highest bidder wins with the money to go to your estate.

7. Or you may decide to start deaccessioning your papers by gift to a chosen institution at any time, before you die. Downsizing has some decided advantage, gives you more room to create more documents, papers, manuscripts!

I have a handful of horror stories of the entire life work of both authors - and artists who I have worked with - where their entire estates were destroyed. Perhaps I will relate these next week in The E-Sylum.

But allow me to give a pitch for a new museum. Name and location still a top secret. But it will be concerned with numismatic technology - how coins and medals are made and have been made for all time. I am involved since this is my strong interest in the field.

We would welcome any papers, manuscripts - published or unpublished - research material and such to be housed in this museum. Contact me. I will gush over how this will be the best such institution in the world to house your material forever and make the best use of it. Also I am interested in such material on medals and medallic art.

Bill Eckberg writes:

By all means, don't let good information disappear!!! The issue is only one of money. If you have information and you don't need/care to make money off it (for that matter, how many numismatic specialty books actually make any money?), just self-publish in electronic form and make it available on the Internet.

Sending it to a library will just get it lost in storage and probably never even cataloged. Remember the end of "Raiders of the Lost Ark?" But any document can easily be converted to PDF and distributed electronically. Club websites (larger clubs like NBS or ANA) could serve as repositories for such information that could be freely made available to members. Isn't this already done on a general basis?

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: CAN UNPUBLISHED MANUSCRIPTS BE SAVED? (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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