The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 18, Number 9, March 1, 2015, Article 10


Douglas Saville writes:

Harry Manville passed away last Wednesday – that is 18th February. He was 85 years old. He was incredibly well-respected and totally indefatigable in his efforts in numismatics. Ironically there was a little article about his library and the fact that I was handling it (I had purchased it last year) in Coin News and published only last week. It was very sad that Harry never saw the article.

Douglas provided this short obituary. I only met Harry briefly, on one or two occasions. His work is monumental, and his books deserve a place in every numismatic library. -Editor

Harry Emerson Manville. Born New York September 6, 1929 – Died Seattle February 18, 2015

Harrington Manville, or Harry as many knew him, had been a highly significant contributor to the knowledge base of British numismatics for almost 50 years, despite being based for much of that time in Washington DC and latterly Seattle. Early retirement from the American foreign service in 1980 meant he could devote his considerable efforts toward his magisterial 5-volume Encyclopaedia of British Numismatics, which had begun as a germ of an idea in the mid-1960s and was published in six volumes between 1986 and 2014. Apart from that, he authored the British Numismatic Society’s SP3, Tokens of the Industrial Revolution: foreign silver coins countermarked for use in Great Britain c. 1787-1828, published in 2001. Harry was a prolific contributor to many of the well-known numismatic journals. All of his works serve admirably as a memorial to an indefatigable researcher and numismatist. Harry will be sorely missed by all of his friends and all those involved in the subject.

With permission, here is the Coin News article by John Andrew about Harry's library. -Editor

Dispersal of the H.E. Manville Library

The comprehensive library of Harry Manville dedicated to the coinage of the British Isles is being sold by Douglas Saville Numismatic Books. Over half a century Harrington Elmer Manville formed one of the most remarkable numismatic libraries dedicated to the coinages of England, Scotland Ireland and the UK. It weighed over 2 tons when it was delivered from Washington DC to Caversham, a suburb of Reading in the UK.

Harry worked for the US diplomatic service, his assignments taking him to Asia and Europe as well as North America. His collecting interest was British coinage and, despite only being able to visit London infrequently prior to the final quarter of the 20th century, he formed an important collection of milled coins. In the late 1970s he found himself based in Washington and in early 1980 he retired. His important collection of coins was sold at Spink in mid-1980 (the highlight was a 1658 Cromwell sixpence that realised £10,000 hammer).

From around the mid-1970s, he laid the foundations for realising a dream: writing the Encyclopaedia of British Numismatics. From 1986 through to 2014, five volumes were published. Although he had been buying numismatic books for many years, he now started in earnest. He purchased locally from Frank and Laurese Katen in Silver Spring, MD, and of course from Douglas Saville, then manager of Spink’s Book Department in London. Although he had access to the library of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, it was not strong in material relating to the British Isles. So, he had to form his own ultimate reference library.

The result was an Aladdin’s Cave guaranteed to put the numismatic bibliophile into frenzied excitement. It contained the unique, the very rare, merely rare, the scarce, the common and the mundane. Yes, some items are highly valued in monetary terms, but others fell within the budgets of even the most modest of individuals and are not only highly interesting, but are also rarely offered. To date some 30 buyers, including institutions as well as private individuals, have purchased books from the library.

So, what are the highlights? Too numerous to list, but here are a couple. A 1770 auction catalogue for Jasper Bull’s “genuine and curious gold, silver and copper, British and Saxon coins and medals” offered at the Exchange coffee-house on March 15, 1770. Annotated in ink with the buyers and other information, it is most likely unique and is a real curiosity. Another is a limited edition—200 copies only—of Notes Gleaned from Contemporary Literature regarding 18th century Middlesex Tokens by A. W. Waters and published in 1906. This copy was owned by S. H. Hamer, the co-author of The Provincial Token-Coinage of the 18th century, by Dalton & Hamer, and is annotated in the latter’s hand. Published in 1910, it is still the standard work.

We won’t see a library like this for many years to come—if ever!

H. E. Manville publications:

(With T. J. Robertson) British Numismatic Auction Catalogues 1710–1984 (Encyclopaedia of British Numismatics Vol. I), Spink/Baldwin, London 1986.

Numismatic Guide to British and Irish Periodicals 1731–1991 (Encyclopaedia of British Numismatics Vol. II, part 1 (Archaeological)), Spink/Baldwin, London 1993.

Numismatic Guide to British & Irish Periodicals 1836–1995 (Encyclopaedia of British Numismatics Vol. II, part 2 (Numismatic)), Spink/Baldwin, London 1997.

Numismatic Guide to British and Irish Printed Books 1600–2004 (Encyclopaedia of British Numismatics Vol. III), Spink, London 2005.

Biographical Dictionary of British and Irish Numismatics (Encyclopaedia of British Numismatics Vol. IV), Spink, London 2009.

Dictionary of English Numismatic Terms (Encyclopaedia of British Numismatics Vol. V), Spink, London 2014.

Tokens of the Industrial Revolution. Foreign Silver Coins Countermarked for use in Great Britain, c. 1787–1828, Spink, London 2001 (BNS Special Publication No. 3).

Innumerable articles/papers in Spink’s Numismatic Circular, Seaby’s Coin and Medal Bulletin, British Numismatic Journal, and elsewhere.

To read the complete issue, see:

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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