First and foremost, on behalf of our staff and blog readers, I would like to thank you for accepting this interview. As the editor of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society’s E-Sylum newsletter, I’m sure you have your hands full with the weekly publishing schedule. So let’s get started and talk a little bit about your background first.
Q: This is traditionally the very first question we ask on every interview. Please tell us a little bit about how you developed interest in numismatics. Was there someone or something of significance that played a role?
Like most Baby-Boomer collectors, I started out filling Whitman folders with Lincoln Cents. But I can pinpoint when my interest grew – it was July 1969 and I was 10 years old and sick as a dog. I got in the mail a package I’d ordered from Littleton Coin Company full of foreign coins on approval. I spent a couple days in bed looking through them and began collecting foreign coins by country. My grandfather later gave me a box of foreign coins from his side of the family. But the biggest event was meeting Glenn Mooney in 1978. He was a member of the Western Pennsylvania Numismatic Society and a volunteer curator at the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh. He sponsored me for membership in WPNS, and he and all the members became numismatic role models and mentors for me.
Q: Your academic background is quite impressive. You hold a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Math & Computer Sciences. Plus you have an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh. Have you ever considered supplementing that with an academic degree in something related to numismatics?
Heck, no. Numismatics is too much fun to ruin it with exams and dissertations. I enjoy it as a hobby and would like to keep it that way. Just editing The E-Sylum has been a master’s level education in numismatics itself.
Q: For those readers not familiar with The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS), please tell us a little bit about its organizational mission and how you first got involved.
The club web site states its mission very well: “The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS) is a non-profit educational organization founded in 1979 to support and promote the use and collecting of numismatic literature. Numismatic literature includes books, periodicals, catalogs and other written or printed material relating to coins, medals, tokens, or paper money, ancient or modern, U.S. or worldwide.”
My involvement started about that time NBS was being organized. I attended a presentation by John J. Ford Jr. at an American Numismatic Association convention, and what he said about the value of numismatic literature really resonated with me. I think I signed up for NBS at that convention. Now I’m a Life Member.
Q: Your immediate responsibility at NBS is getting a weekly issue of The E-Sylum out to nearly 1,700 readers. What does it take to put together one issue?
Well, I’ve gotten pretty efficient at it, so it takes less time than many people think. Some actually assume it’s my full time job. Each issue has as many or more articles than Coin World, so that’s understandable. But as a compendium of information from readers and other publications, the amount of writing I do is relatively small in comparison. It’s about eight hours of work on average per week, spread out across seven days. I start a draft of the next issue on Monday or Tuesday, and daily before bed and before leaving for work I check my email for submissions and news stories of interest. By Friday I have an outline with three to five stories complete, and an email folder of acceptable ideas. I plow thorough one email after another until the issue is complete, which often takes me right up to publishing time, about 9:30 Sunday evening. I press the button to publish the issue and call it a night.
Q: Outside of numismatics community, you’ve built a successful 30+ year career in the technology space working for companies such as Bell Laboratories, Carnegie Group and, most recently, US Department of Defense. How do you balance immediate career needs with all the responsibilities at NBS?
I guess I’ve gotten pretty good at compartmentalizing my life. When I’m at the office, it’s nearly 100% work. I often read at lunch, but it’s never a coin book. At home I’m there for my wife and kids, but hop on my computer to do E-Sylum work whenever they’re busy with other things. Mostly I squeeze my E-Sylum work into hours stolen from sleep. I work after they’ve gone to bed, before I go to work, and on the weekends I often get up before everyone and work for an hour or so.
Q: Being an editor, you are in a unique position to select or reject content that ultimately makes it into The E-Sylum. What are some of the more notable trends in topics of interest that you’ve seen over the last few years?
That’s hard to say – we cover a huge range of topics every week. I steer clear of valuation and grading discussions for the most part, and focus on numismatics itself. Because of my own knowledge and collecting interests I do tend to cover tokens and medals more than regular issue coins, but that’s as much because these are more interesting in general than because of my preferences. But whenever there’s a research topic concerning regular issue coins, we’re on it.
Q: How do you see The Numismatic Bibliomania Society evolving over the next 20 years? More international interest? Influx on younger collectors through digital exposure?
We’ve always had a subset of international members in NBS. The E-Sylum has broadened that exposure considerably, but I’m not sure that’s translated into many paid international members. But that’s OK. We’re very happy to provide The E-Sylum free in order to promote NBS and the numismatic hobby in general.
As for younger collectors, I think E-Sylum has helped in that regard. I regularly include invitations to join NBS, and the club has gotten quite a few new members over the years. Many E-Sylum are younger – even some in high school. I have to tone down my jokes sometimes for a family audience.
I guess I don’t see things changing considerably in the next twenty years. The younger collectors of today will become the greybeards of tomorrow, then a new generation will filter in, just as previous generations did.
Q: Please tell us a little bit about your own coin collection. What are your areas of interest?
My own specialty is the numismatics of the U.S. Civil War, although I sold much of my collection through American Numismatic Rarities in 2006. I had Encased Postage Stamps, Postage Stamp Envelopes, Confederate currency, Civil War Tokens and a restrike Confederate half Dollar. The sale also included my. U.S. Merchant counterstamp collection. I still collect, but have fewer specialties. Two favorites are Carnegie Hero Medals and Labor Exchange currency. Of course, I also have my numismatic library of about 3,000 volumes.
Q: Many of our readers are just starting their coin collections. In your opinion, what are the five must-read books for every collector?
First, let me state that while I have 3,000 coin books, I haven’t read them all – not cover-to-cover, anyway. That’s because most coin books are reference books – you use them when you want to look something up. Far fewer coin books are the kind you really sit down and read. That’s what makes them special. Here are some favorites from that category:
In Yankee Doodle’s Pocket, by Will Nipper (on Colonial coinage)
Fractional Money, by Neil Carothers
Renaissance of American Coinage by Roger Burdette (3 volumes)
Million Dollar Nickels, by Montgomery, Borchardt, Knight
Coins and Collectors, by Q. David Bowers
Q: On a lighter note, what is the funniest piece that crossed your desk in the last few years? Did it end up in the issue or not?
I do see some funny stuff, but I think the funniest was an April Fool’s piece I wrote in 2007. The headline read, “BLOCKBUSTER ANNOUNCEMENT: ANA, ANS TO MERGE; DUPLICATE SALE PLANNED.” Coming at a time when the major U.S. auction houses were consolidating, it was at least plausible that the major collector organizations would merge, too. I made up quotes and details that were believable enough that phone lines lit up from coast to coast that night. Reactions included:
“I’ve seen many an April Fools joke (which must mean I’m old), and this one ranks right up there with the best.”
“I thought your April Fools article was hilarious! It’s been making the rounds on the bulletin boards — always a good sign that a piece of writing is resonating with its readers.”
The full article (and follow-up) can be found here:
Thank you again for sharing all of this with our readers. We appreciate your time. On a personal note, I’d like to say that your work with The E-Sylum is greatly appreciated. I look forward to reading a regular Sunday issue for many, many more years to come.
To our readers:
If you’re interested in subscribing to The E-Sylum please follow this link to register for a free subscription.
Perhaps you have a grandchild that you would like to pass your coin-collecting hobby on to or you would like a vehicle to get a younger person interested in coins. As far as coin display cases go, this Dansco Roosevelt Dime album would make a terrific start-up kit. This handsome-bound and brown-colored album features four pages of pull-out slots for Roosevelt dimes from 1946 all the way to 2026.
This album is not only a nice storage outlet for your Roosevelt Dime collection, it also allows you to break your collection down year by year with specific slots for the different mintages from where the coins were created.
From 1946-55, the mintages were Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco. Roosevelt Dimes have been minted only in Philadelphia and Denver since 1956.
The ability to compare the different mint characteristics year-by-year is a very attractive feature of this attractive and durable coin album, and is a great way for a beginning collector to start looking at coins and see the differences of the same coin that has been minted in different cities.
Another attractive quality to this album is that on the inside flap there is an extensive write up on the historical significance and background of Roosevelt Dimes. The back flap features a year-by-year breakdown of the circulation numbers of each Roosevelt Dime from each mint from 1946-1998.
This is a 4 page album with a total of 168 coin ports, and size is 3/4″.
○ Roosevelt Dimes – 1946 – 2026
Album Dimensions: Height — 9.5 inches; Width — 8 inches
About Dansco (manufacturer):
Dansco is well known for producing extremely durable binders and pages, and are truly one the best brand of coin albums out there. Dansco coin album pages are also available separately so that you can keep your collection up-to-date as new coins are minted.
A great deal of the joy that goes with collecting coins is being able to display them in an entertaining, informative and appealing way. These do a stellar job of performing all three of those tasks. Not only are they light, durable and easy to insert, they are visually appealing. The Guardhouse Shield Polypropylene 20-pocket Archival Pages come in packs of 10 and we have plenty in stock at Coin Supply Planet.
Another added benefit of these coin album display pages is that it allows you to really compare coins and how they are different. For instance, you could own a complete set of Buffalo Nickels and be able to look at how they differed in the years they were minted.
Unlike many coin tubes, these Guardhouse Shield Polypropylene Pages also allow for careful examination and comparison on different grades, different years and different strikes. You can use this product to set up a grading page in any coin album where you can categorize by type graded from Fair all the way to Mint State 70.
Guardhouse Shield Polypropylene Pages: 20 Pockets (Pack of 10)
These Guardhouse Polypropylene Pages are acid and PVC-free, archival quality, high-clarity, top-loading 20-pocket polypropylene pages and are ideal for storing, displaying, or preserving your coins or 35mm slides. Each page holds 20 2x2s or coin flips. Sold in the packs of 10.
Dimensions: Height — 11 inches; Width — 9.5 inches
Guardhouse Polypropylene Pages for 2x2s are made from materials that are a popular choice by both collectors and the Library of Congress because of the archival-safe components.
Our friends at MedalsOfAmerica.com created a very interesting infographic about the history of different challenge coins. We thought our readers may be interested in learning more about the topic through this engaging infographic.
Whether or not you prefer square tube or round tube coin tubes probably depends on what you are ultimately looking for. Both types of coin tubes have their benefits. Fortunately, we carry both styles here at CoinSupplyPlanet.com, and even offer two different square tube brands — Coinsafe Square Coin Tube and the Numis Square Coin Tube, along with the Harris Round Coin Tubes.
One of the most important features or qualities about square coin tubes like the Coinsafe and Numis models is that they are great for stacking. Because of their dimensions, they are easier to store, are more stable and won’t slide off as easy as other options.
If you are collector of gold coins like American Eagles, South African Krugerrands, Chinese Pandas or Canadian Maple Leafs, than either the square or round coin tubes are a great option because you do not have to worry about the value of gold diminishing with any defacing, and the storage capabilities of these coin tubes is much better than any other options.
We offer 11 different types Coinsafe Square Tubes that will hold everything from cents to Medallions. We have 17 different types Numis Square Tubes in stock that will hold everything from cents to large dollars. Both the Coinsafe and Numis Square tube are lightweight, yet fully durable and very functional.
Just like the Square Tubes, the Harris Round Coin Tubes are very functional, durable and lightweight. Round Coin Tubes like the Harris model are better than traditional coin wrappers because unlike those, they will not deface coins like quarters over a period of time. Because the Harris Round Tubes are so clear, they also are a better display for well-worn quarters and dimes because you can easily identify rim marks that sometimes even included words, slogans or phrases, which often add increased value to coins.
We offer 15 different models in the Harris Round Tubes that house everything from large Silver Dollars to American Silver Eagles.
Dimensions: Height — 3 inches; Width — 1 inch
Manufactured with high quality materials to provide long-term, safe and secure coin storage and preservation. Coin Safe square coin tubes feature a snap-tight cap design to securely preserve and protect your collection. Each tube will hold 40 coins.
○ U.S. Quarters
These Coin Safe Square Tubes for Quarters offer the convenience, security, and protection only a world leader in coin storage products like Coin Safe can offer. Coin Safe coin tubes are available in all coin denominations, from cents to quarters, small to large dollars, to medallion and silver round sizes.
Dimensions: Height — 2 ¾ inches; Width — 1 inch
These have become the industry standard in coin storage. Manufactured with archival-safe, corrosion resistant materials, Numis square coin tubes provide excellent, long-term protection and are a great storage solution for your coins. These coin tubes feature a locking-lid design to securely preserve and protect your collection. Each tube will hold up to 40 coins.
○ U.S. Quarters
These Numis Square Tubes for Quarters offer the convenience, security, and protection that only securely stacked and stored square coin tubes can deliver. Numis coin tubes are available in all coin denominations, from cents to quarters, small to large dollars, to medallion and silver round sizes.
Dimensions: Height — 3 inches; Width — 1 inch
Manufactured by HE Harris & CO, these feature a secure screw-on top design, and are great for protecting and storing your coin collection.
Each Round Tube for Quarters fits 40 coins. These coin tubes are economical, archival-safe and available in all popular sizes.