Monday, April 1, 2013

A Time Traveler's Guide to Coin Collecting, Part 2

1940's Clip Art?
In March I wrote about finding a fixed price coin catalog published in the early 1940's titled the "Illustrated Catalog and Price List No. 17 of Coins, Paper Money and Medals of The United States and Foreign Countries." It was presumably self-published by "Norman Shultz Numismatist" from Salt Lake City, Utah.

It is fascinating to read this catalog and see the state of our hobby through the eyes of a dealer 70 years ago. Being located in Salt Lake City, away from the coasts, he obviously relied on mail order. He advertised nationally in Popular Mechanics and most likely in other magazines, the search engines of the 20th century. In fact, this quote from Ed Reiter's interview with Norman Shultz for the New York Times in 1981, published in 1999 by PCGS, Norman Shultz sounds like a coin dealer on the internet:
"I've always been strictly a mail-order dealer," he related, "and in this type of business it really doesn't matter where you live. So I figured I'd move until I found a place I really liked."
Last time I related some of the amazing prices, like an uncirculated 1909-S VDB for $3.50. Equally interesting are some of Mr. Shultz's words from the catalog. Under the heading "Condition of Coins" he describes what to expect for Proof , Uncirculated, Extremely Fine, Very Fine, Fine, Very Good, Good, Very Fair, Fair, and Poor. He goes on to state what we still struggle with
"It seems that every one has his own idea as to classification of coins...A Proof coin is a brilliant proof coin. If dark purple or another colorI believe it should be mentioned. Any time my listing differs from what you think it should be and you do not care for the coin just return it."
As you see the catalog features illustrations of each type of coin for sale. There is no credit given to an illustrator so it may literally be clip art.

Whoever ordered the book that I have was collecting Lincoln Cents. There are pencil checks beside 1909 S, no VDB, 1910, 1914 (hope he or she got the D), 1915, 1923 and 1924.

Another paragraph of note is titled U. S. Pattern Coins.
"I make no attempt to list the varieties, but can generally supply the following"

Pattern cent, $10.00
Pattern two cent pieces, $7.50
Pattern three cent silver, $10.00
Pattern three cent nickel, $7.50
Pattern dimes, $5.00
Pattern twenty cent pieces, $15.00
Pattern quarters, $7.50
Pattern half dollars, $8.00
Pattern dollars, $15.00
Pattern $5.00 pieces, $6.50
Pattern $10.00 pieces, $12.50
Pattern $20.00 pieces, $22.50
"These are the less expensive pieces, I have some of the rarer ones in stock at higher prices. Unhesitantly, these are our most beautiful coins, and I find, one of the most interesting to collect"
Wow. Just for fun, take a look at some of the prices realized for U.S. Pattern coins at the Heritage 2013 FUN Show published by The Society of US Pattern Collectors.

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