Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Review of Numismatic Art in America: Aesthetics of the United States Coinage

I really don't understand why I hadn't heard of this. Published in 2007, this 289 page book with over 400 color illustrations is one of the best numismatic books I have ever read!

One of the few Amazon reviewers said "Not a coin book filled with history info".  In fact, it is chock full of history and trivia! 

Perhaps that reviewer skimmed and noticed only the commentary on the artistic antecedents and merits. There is a lot of that and I found it very interesting.   Or perhaps they expected mintage figures, die states and prices? That's not the point here - this is the history of the designs and the designers!

In addition to the coins from 1792 to 2007, this covers the medals created by the designers.

History, criticism, praise: it's all here. Cornelius Vermeule pulls no punches when a coin is ugly, but is lavish in his praise when not. Interestingly, he likes the Barber coins, which I do not. I admit that they are attractive when not circulated, but he insists that even worn Barbers retain their beauty.

On most other things, I agree. By the way, he includes other people's opinions and quotes liberally from newspaper and magazine reviews. As I have little knowledge of art history, this book also taught me quite a bit about that and how prior art has influenced the design of our coinage.

I ordered the print version after reading the digital because I assumed it would be a truly beautiful book and was not at all disappointed - the photos are excellent and very impressive.

This is not a book you will just sit down and read once. I expect to be going back to it again and again.

Buy this book at Amazon and help me support this site!

Note:  All my coins are in a safe deposit box.  I keep nothing in my home.