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Notes Published: Professionally bound Whitman Numismatic Journal sells for nearly three times its estimate

A distinguished complete set of the Whitman Numismatic Journal, bound in hubbed-spine leather, sold in April 2022. Marbled sides, raised-band spines, and other luxurious decorations set these books apart from the average. (Image courtesy of Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers.)

A few weeks ago I described a wonderfully bound (by Alan Grace) complete set of the Whitman Numismatic Journal, from the estate of numismatic writer, researcher, and Rittenhouse Society member Syd Martin. The books were auctioned April 30, 2022, by Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers.

Their pre-sale estimate was $750. After the auction premium, the set sold for $2,040.

David Fanning shared these thoughts after the sale: “The Whitman Numismatic Journal has faded from most people’s memory by now, which is a shame. Published from 1964 to 1968, it was a remarkable publication that sought to bring beginning and intermediate collectors up to the next level.”

He described the Journal’s editorial lineup and contents as impressive: “RS Yeoman was editor-in-chief, Kenneth E. Bressett was managing editor, and Neil Shafer was associate editor. Contributors included Q David Bowers, Walter Breen, James Charlton, Zander Klawans, Eric P Newman, Don Taxay, RW Julian, and Richard Kenney, among many others. The 60 issues that constitute a complete set include information on a wide variety of numismatic topics, and some of these articles remain significant works on their subject more than half a century later.”

The neatly covered books were from the personal collection of the late Syd Martin.

When I asked Fanning about the auction results—with the set selling for almost three times its estimate—he said, “Syd’s set of the Whitman Numismatic Journal was beautifully bound. While the sale price of $2,040 (with the premium) may sound very high, considering that an unbound set can be obtained for $150, I’d note that replicating these bindings today would likely cost $400 a volume, and the set was bound in 10 volumes. The buyer actually got a bargain!”

The Journal is more often seen unbound, as individual issues, or sometimes in slipcases. Pictured here: Part of a complete set sold by Charles Davis Numismatic Literature for $125, described thus: “Whitman Publishing Co: The Whitman Numismatic Journal, 1964–1968, Volumes 1–5 in 60 monthly issues, all published, original card covers, Housed in 5 Whitman supplied chipboard cases, one of which is cracked. Fine/Near New. Filled with original articles and several hundred book reviews, this is a source of information often overlooked due to the prominence of The Numismatist and The Numismatic Scrapbook, which were issued concurrently.” (Image courtesy of Charles Davis Numismatic Literature.)

On the overall current interest in such things, Fanning observed, “The state of the numismatic book market is very strong, though it must be noted that it is very different than it was even 10 years ago. Modern catalogs and (with exceptions like finely bound sets) periodicals are difficult to sell, but there is great demand for better and older materials and anything that is in some respects unique.”

Readers of this column undoubtedly have some rare and fascinating treasures in their collections. I invite you to tell me about your favorites; email me at .

Dennis Tucker has served the hobby community as publisher of Whitman Publishing since 2004. His column “Notes Published” covers books and publishing in general, with a special emphasis on antiques and collectibles. Whitman is the Official Supplier of the congressionally chartered American Numismatic Association (online at www.money.org). The firm produces many standard references relating to the art and science of numismatics (the study of coins and related objects). Numismatics is a field that touches on American financial and banking history, economics, artistry and design, technology, mining and metallurgy, political history, society, and culture.

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