The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 18, Number 31, August 2, 2015, Article 29


Back in our December 1, 2013 issue, Dave Ginsburg asked for more information on the 1969 Numismatic Society of Mexico reprint of J.L. Riddell's 1845 publication, A Monograph of the Silver Dollar, Good and Bad. For background, here's Dave's original query. -Editor

Riddell Monograph Cover The second publication, however, is a "horse of a different color": entitled A Monograph of the Silver Dollar, Good and Bad and also published in 1845, it is a study of all of the different types of silver coins presented as deposits at the New Orleans Mint, with obverse and reverse images of each coin type. As you might expect, a lot of counterfeit coins were deposited at the Mint, and the book has images of each one. If you are interested in seeing which counterfeit Mexican dollars or Bust half dollars were actually in circulation in the mid-19th century, this is the book for you. The book's pages aren't numbered, but it has images of 512 coins plus introductory text, so it must have about 200 pages.

While I've only been watching the numismatic book auctions for about a decade, I don't recall seeing an original copy, nor had I heard of a reprint. Fortunately, there is a digital copy available.

Imagine, then, my surprise, when I saw a listing for a 1969 reprint in David Sklow's October auction! The book was identified as one of a limited edition of 550 paperback copies from Mexico. I wasted no time in submitting my bid and I was fortunate enough to obtain the book.

When I received it, I was intrigued to see that it was copy #411 of a 550-copy facsimile edition published by the Numismatic Society of Mexico in 1969. I feel as if I've unearthed a bit of buried treasure: I certainly never expected to acquire an original, but I now have a copy of a reprint that I never expected to own! Of course, as soon as I saw the auction listing, I checked the ANA and ANS library catalogs and learned that each library has, in addition to copies of the original in their rare book collections, copies of the reprint. In fact, the ANA library has three copies, each available to be lent. So, it's not as if the reprint were completely unknown, but it's certainly not exactly available in the marketplace, either.

I'm hoping that one or more of my fellow E-Sylum subscribers can shed some light on how this edition came to be published and why it doesn't seem to be more available.

Today, we finally have a definitive answer from recent subscriber Gary Beals of Segovia, Spain. Thanks! -Editor

Sorry for the delay – I just joined your group this year — but I can answer that question posed in the Dec. 1 2013 issue: It was me!

I did that reprint — during the first half of 1969 on Ft. Lee, Petersburg, Virginia. With the help of a moonlighting printer on the Air Force station there, we produced the book with paper and supplies I bought, working at night on the small lithographic press. Camera work was done on the pages of the dismantled original book, then printing using aluminium plates for the short 550 press run. I had the books bound in Richmond. I then stamped individual serial numbers in the books.

I shipped the books to U.S. headquarters of the Association in California. I was a 25-year old USAF Captain at the time and my dad, Ed Beals, in our hometown of San Diego, was the contact point between the Numismatic Society of Mexico and my nocturnal printing effort. I do not recall any details regarding the reasoning behind the reprinting other than a desire by the group to make the information more available.

Interesting that the original book uses what we might call rubbings to illustrate the coins as it pre-dates photography by a decade or so. And, apparently, ole Mr. Riddell did not want to pay an illustrator to create line art for all those coins.

The USAF station, a branch of NORAD no longer exists there.

Oh, a personal note: I started collecting at age 16 and got my dad started in collecting coins, not the other way around! We were both active in the hobby until I left for the Air Force in mid-1966.

There are a few copies here in Spain with the Segovia Mint Amigos group and a few more in California. When any of you visit Spain, I am sure a kind donation to the group would get you one of the copies. And I will take you to the mint built here in 1583!

Wow! Gary made my day when his email arrived in my inbox. My copy of the Riddell Monograph reprint is #304, and like Dave Ginsburg, I'd always wondered how the reprint came to be. Now we know. Thanks! -Editor

Dave Ginsburg writes:

If The E-Sylum had a prize for the “Contribution of the Year,” surely Gary Beals would win it. Not only does he reprint a then-124 year-old book, but, rivaling the producers of the 1913 Liberty nickels, he does it clandestinely!

All I can say is, from one formerly young Air Force captain to another: “My hat’s off to you!” What a great story. I’m really going to treasure my copy now.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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