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From the December 2002 issue of ACCent, the newsletter of the Anchorage Coin Club:

 

A Great Set Of Books For Seated Liberty Coinage Collectors

By Mike Nourse  

 

    If you do not collect seated Liberty coinage, and have little interest in reading about these 19th century coins, you can probably forget about these books, as that is the only topic that is discussed within their pages. The books are called "The Gobrecht Journal Collective", and there are a total of four volumes, appropriately designated Volume 1 through Volume 4. All four volumes were produced by the Liberty Seated Collectors Club, a club dedicated to studying the history surrounding the Liberty Seated coinage of several different denominations, as well as searching for and reporting new die varieties (of which there are many), die emission sequences, and other curiosities.  

 

     The first volume came out in 1980, and is a compilation of all the articles published in the club's newsletter "The Gobrecht Journal" from the inception of the club in 1974 through 1980. The Vice President at that time, Monty Johnsen, was selected for the job of organizing the articles and preparing them for publication in book format. Mr. Johnsen made a very wise decision not to put the articles in the book in the same order that they were published in the newsletter; instead he decided to organize them in a much more useable format. Instead of the chronological format, he decided to put them in order by denomination, smallest to largest, and by date within each denomination, earliest to latest. This makes it much easier to find out if there is an article written about a particular coin that you are interested. If you just purchased a nice 1888-S Seated Liberty dime in Extra Fine condition, and you want to see if there are any articles in the book dealing with this particular issue, it will only take a very quick scan of the table of contents to see that Mr. Bill Cregan wrote an article entitled "The 1888-S Dime", which can be found on page 313 of Volume 4. This eliminates the need of weeding through an index in the back of the book, and in fact an index is not even needed or provided.

     The first section of the book deals with general topics that are not specific to Seated Liberty coinage of any single denomination. There may be articles on historical topics, Mint practices and procedures during the 1800's, law and legal issues that affected coinage during those years, and even articles about the designers of the Seated Liberty image itself, Christian Gobrecht and Thomas Sully, and other engravers who made modifications to the design in later years.

     After the general section, we get right into the coins themselves, starting with half dimes and continuing with dimes, twenty cent pieces, quarters, half dollars, silver dollars, and trade dollars. Each of the single denomination sections begins with articles that are general in nature to that specific denomination, such as “Mintmark Positions for San Francisco Seated Dimes”. After the general articles come articles dealing with specific issues, such as “An 1875-CC Half Dollar Struck From Clashed Dies”. Thankfully, this same very useful format was retained and used in volumes 2 through 4 as well.

     Remember that these articles were originally published in the club's newsletter, and therefore tend to be brief in nature, generally around two to four pages in length. Immediately following a fair number of the articles you will find reprinted in the book several letters to the editor that make comments, corrections, and additions to that article, which often include a response to the questions and criticisms by the author of the original article. The inclusion of these letters by editor Johnsen was a brilliant idea, as they can add to and clarify the information included in the article.

     Many of the authors of the articles are names that many collectors will recognize as they have gone on to write numismatic books or they regularly contribute articles to numismatic publications that have a more widespread circulation. Some of the names you will encounter in this compilation are Walter Breen, John McCloskey, Weimar White, and Larry Briggs to name just a few. Volume one is dedicated to the late Kamal Ahwash, the author of quite a few of the articles in the Gobrecht Journal, founder of the Liberty Seated Collectors Club, and author of the book "Encyclopedia of United States Liberty Seated Dimes" which was the standard reference on the series for two decades.

     Now that I have told you how good a reference this set of four books is, here comes the bad news. They are out of print. Volume four can still be obtained with relative ease as some booksellers still have a few copies in stock. The first three volumes will present more of a challenge, and you will probably have to search the inventories of sellers of rare and out of print numismatic literature. You will likely have to part with a solid $200 or more for the set of four books, though that is quite a bargain for the amount of research that is contained within the nearly 2000 total pages. There are also a fair number of black and white photographs included, and a lot of the coins illustrated are ones that neither you nor I can ever afford to put in our collections.

     If you are ever lucky enough to come across a set of these books for sale, flip through the pages and take a good look at the index up front and see what you think. If the price is right, consider buying the set, as opportunities to do so are not likely to come around often. I have seen mention of a volume five, which will likely cover the years 1995 through 2000, but so far no such volume is available at this time.

Happy reading!

 

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