In his Coin World column "Numismatic Bookie", Joel Orosz took a look this week at one large and important book in
American numismatic history. -Editor
A couple of
“Numismatic Bookie” columns from 2013 to 2014 discussed the smallest numismatic literature: miniature books measuring as little as 2.375 inches
This month, we focus on the tallest American numismatic book, A Historic Sketch of the Coins of New Jersey, With a Plate. Its author,
Edward Maris, was a physician by trade and a Quaker by faith, and judging by this book, he may have coined the contemporary admonition to “go big or
How big is The Coins of New Jersey? It towers over a copy of the “Red Book.” Standing a whopping 18.875 inches in height, it became the
tallest numismatic book in America upon its publication in 1881, and has never relinquished that title. Most books are classified as octavo (the “Red
Book”), or quarto (a major auction catalog).
The tallest volumes are classified as folio, but the Maris book is an “elephant folio,” which can measure up to 23 inches tall.
What was behind producing such an ostentatious skyscraper of a book? For Maris, it was all about the “Plate” in the subtitle. He identified
varieties (82 obverse and 57 reverse) of New Jersey coppers, and sought to place, on a single photographic plate, an example of each, with drawn
lines connecting die pairs.
It required 140 coin images to depict each obverse, reverse, and die marriage. Placing all on one page would allow comprehensive “at a glance”
variety identification, but presenting 140 photographs big enough to show detail necessitated huge pages: hence the “elephant folio.”
Even in that jumbo format, the maximum was 70 individual images per page, so the plate is bound into the book folded in half.
Even 134 years after publication, these photos allow attribution of the coppers “at a glance,” just as Maris intended.
In an 1881 letter published in dealer Ed Frossard’s magazine Numisma, Maris projected publication of 115 books, but only 50 copies seem to
have been printed. This combination of rarity and quality make The Coins of New Jersey one of the priciest books in American numismatics.
To read the complete article, see:
Large numismatic books worth a look like Maris' book
on the coins of New Jersey (www.coinworld.com/insights/Go-big-or-go-home-large-books-worth-a-look.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization
promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.
To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor
at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
To subscribe go to: https://my.binhost.com/lists/listinfo/esylum
Copyright © 1998 - 2020 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.
NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster