The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 18, Number 28, July 12, 2015, Article 17


Dick Johnson submitted these thoughts on the manuscript for an upcoming book by Paul Cunningham titled Lincoln's Metallic Imagery - A Catalog and Price Guide of Lincoln Coins, Tokens, Medals and Plaques. Thanks! -Editor


There is a new King in numismatics. Thanks to token and medal authority Paul Cunningham King is about to return. Of course, I am speaking of the standard work on Lincoln numismatics, published over a period of 20 years starting in 1924, compiled by Robert P. King.

The struck items bearing the portrait of Abraham Lincoln have been of collector interest since the first ones were issued, beginning with Lincoln's political campaign of 1860. Lincoln items remain of unabated collector interest to the present day.

King's compiled list has been of extreme use for token and medal collectors. But it has been of frustrating utility in cataloging Lincoln items. King’s descriptions were sparse. The few illustrations led to even greater exasperations. It was difficult to identify an entry in King that matched an item in hand. This was necessary to obtain a “King number,” of widespread use in the numismatic field.

Seven years ago a group of four numismatists took up the challenge to “redo King” to prepare a catalog which would honor our sixteenth president and provide a catalog with greater easy of use. (The book’s Introduction reveals prior attempts in listing Lincoln items.)

That group of four included Paul Cunningham. But one by one they dropped out of the project. Was the project that daunting? One group member was Fred Reed, while not displeased with the progress or narrowness of the numismatic cataloging project, he elected to prepare his own version of Lincolniana based on his own collection. The first volume, published in 2009, was so successful it led to a second 2012 volume, both including Lincoln items of all kinds and compositions.

Cunningham persevered. He obtained lists of Lincoln tokens and medals from collectors and public museums. But most important he gathered photographs. The new work had to overcome the shortcoming of King’s original listing.

I have been privileged to view the page proofs of Paul’s book. The new work is titled “Lincoln’s Metallic Imagery” perhaps influenced by Fred Reed’s use of “Image” in his first title.

The scope of Paul’s book. however, is limited only to metallic items, mostly die struck, a few cast pieces. The first impression is the wonderful illustrations, not necessarily exact size but what was missing in King – what every Lincoln collector longed for.

There are 37 chapters – each a separate topic. While this arrangement is an improvement over King’s scattered treatment – it seems he added new items at the end – without regard for any topical arrangement.

Paul’s catalog numbering system is satisfactory for numismatic use. Each item is assigned a number of its topical chapter, followed by a serial number. Serial numbers of later items in a chapter advance in increments, undoubtedly so new or undiscovered items can be added later in place.

In effect the catalog number designates the Type. Varieties, as different compositions, are assigned letter suffixes. This is somewhat of a universal token numbering system, long prorogated by token authority Russ Rulau in his token catalogs.

Of unsatisfactory concern, I observe, none of the items throughout the book are named, The author jumps right into the description following the catalog number. Oh, how I long for some of the familiar names some favorite items are called by.

Of extreme usefulness to be sure is the concordance at the end giving King numbers for Cunningham numbers in this book. Every one of King’s numbers has a corresponding Cunningham number. With the exception of 39 encased coins all 1210 of them are included! Otherwise Paul did not miss a one of King’s and added a thousand or more new ones.

The index is given in Excel format. While Excel is excellent in gathering and marshalling data it is difficult to read as text. I hate the boxes around every word or term.

In all, however, Paul Cunningham should be congratulated for his persistence in accomplishing a difficult task. Seven years was a long time to wait, but when I hold the book in hand I will exclaim “it was worth the wait!”

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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