From the July 2005 issue of ACCent, the newsletter of the Anchorage Coin Club:
Looking For Some Fun Reading?
By Mike Nourse
There is one set of old numismatic magazines that I enjoy reading most of all, and they are my set of Numismatic Scrapbook magazines. Numismatic Scrapbook was produced by Lee Hewitt from the mid 1930ís through the early 1970ís, when it was sold to Amos Press, who discontinued publication later in the 1970ís.
Like most other numismatic magazines, or any other magazines for that matter,
the Scrapbook consisted of a mixture of articles and advertising, but the real
charm of the Scrapbook was itís advertising. Dr. Hewitt kept advertising rates
low or at least reasonable which allowed smaller and part time dealers to
advertise right along with the big guys. Lower rates also allowed advertisers to
list inexpensive items in their ads, and you will see many lengthy listings
where half of the coins are priced under a dollar.
When you look through a modern numismatic magazine or weekly newspaper
you will see lots of ads for coins costing hundreds of dollars up into the
multiple thousands of dollars, but virtually no extensive listings of sub - $5
items. These expensive coins may be interesting to dream about, but they are not
what most of us collect. On my website I list coins selling for between 5 cents
and $10,000, and I can assure you that there is a great deal more activity in
the under ten dollar coins than there is in the thousand dollar and up category.
Inexpensive coins are what I collected as a YN in the 1970ís, and they are
mostly what I deal in as an adult, and I enjoy seeing listings of these same
inexpensive coins for sale in the Numismatic Scrapbook at those long ago prices.
For example, I can find many listings of Indian cents of all dates, scarce and
common, in low to mid range circulated grades and compare the prices of a
generation ago with what I sell them for today.
The current market, with such an emphasis on high grade slabs means that you are unlikely to find even a single listing for a common item such as an 1880 Indian head cent in VG-8 condition even after searching through several magazines. In a typical Scrapbook you are likely to see this same item in three to five or more different ads, even though it is only a 45 cent item.
All of this may seem a bit strange to some of you. I often see complaints in the weekly papers Coin World and Numismatic News as well as the monthly Numismatist about there being too much advertising and not enough articles contained between their covers. I do not recall any letters expressing the contrary opinion that there is not enough advertising and too many of those dreaded articles. However, just try it yourself. Pick up an old magazine, any old coin magazine, be it the Numismatic Scrapbook or any other, and just see what catches your attention as you flip through the pages. Iíll bet itís the ads more than anything else that will keep you entertained, unless the magazine is full of those boring generic ads that just build name recognition without actually listing any individual coins for sale.
So, what about the much better known, and much more widely collected
Numismatist magazine published by the American Numismatic Association since
1888? (Actually, Dr. Heath started publishing The Numismatist in 1888 and did
not form the ANA until 1891, and The Numismatist magazine did not actually
belong to the ANA until 1911, being privately owned before that time, but we
will leave further details of this for a future article!) Even though far more
people collect The Numismatist magazines, I personally do not find them to be as
interesting reading, especially from a Ďyou are thereí perspective. The
Numismatist just does not have the same ability to show you what collecting was
really like decades ago the way the Numismatic Scrapbook can.
During the years that the Numismatic Scrapbook magazine was published,
1935 to 1976, The Numismatist contained a lot of details about the activities of
local clubs and their members. There are many great articles in The Numismatist
during this time, and a great deal of valuable information. But the ads are
downright boring compared to those in the Scrapbook. Most of the advertising in
The Numismatist is that dreaded generic type, meant to promote the name of the
advertising dealer but not to list specific coins for sale. In the Scrapbook the
majority of the ads do list coins for sale along with their prices, and that to
me is fascinating reading. Another advantage the Scrapbook has over The
Numismatist is that it costs a great deal less to build a set of these
magazines, thereby leaving more funds available to buy coins!
Questions, comments, or suggestions? Mail to: Mike@alaskacoinexchange.com