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Ian Fenn's Blog

05 Dec 2015

Three Books: US$350.00 and only one didn't disappoint

Library | Ian Fenn

Note: In this blog I report that only one publication actually met my expectations it is that book that is pictured( it isn't a great picture)

I recall in a recent edition of the numismatists reading a suggestion that the ANA set up an academic program for numismatics. Its a long over due idea I think. I live in one of the few countries that has a university with a numismatics department. As a result many of the local coin dealers employ numismatists who have Masters degrees and PHDs in numismatics, and the locally published books are of a very high standard. My recent experience with "new" numismatic publications further re-enforces the idea that some form of academic accreditation is needed. I spent approximately US$350.00 ( rough exchange rate) on three books and only one meet my expectations.

The book I am happy with is "Hungarian Medieval Coinage; the gold book 1325 -1540" ISBN 978-963-08-8377-1 published 2013. Its a very good translation, by the Author ( Andreas Lengyel) of a Hungarian Language book. It cost €100.00(last week). Its an extremely solid reference. It gives a brief history of the coinage covered, includes a quick reference guide and then presents all known varieties of Hungarian Gold coins in the date range listed. The cheapest indicative value is about €500.00 which is not surprising as it covers an extremely expensive and mostly rare series of coins. All the photos are high resolution color. The book is extremely easy to use. Its a joy to own! Its not surprising the author is a well respected dealer who has spent years in the trade. He has written the book with dealers and very deep pocketed customers in mind. Given its price and subject it isn't going to appeal to many. It is a book that belongs in a Library. All in all this book met and exceeded my expectations. Something that I can not say about the next book:


Dariusz F. Jasek "Gold Ducats of the Netherlands; Volume one" Published by Knight press. ISBN 978-83-940534-1-3 It cost a whopping great €150.00. and was published in August this year. The book had been recommended to me by a Dutch numismatic book seller, who was actively involved in assisting with the distribution of the book. Although it has an established printing house as a publisher it is an author published book. This is where it has fallen down, as far as my needs go. The Author is a collector and like all of us very enthusiastic..... but being enthusiastic does make us good writers. When I pay €150.00(US$160.00) I have very definite expectations about the quality of the information in the book. This book, as I was told, has been inspired by the previous book, its the same size and is also hard covered. However when I put the books side by side it is clear this more expensive book is of a much lower quality binding. Then there is the contents. The catalog covers up to the beginning of the 19th century. Its well put together and easy to read.....but where the book on Hungarian coins ends at a logical point( the Ottomans took over Hungary in 1741) the ending of the Netherlands ducats book is annoying. The Netherlands ducat is still being produced today. Yes I know there is a vol 2 planned, but I am guessing for another €150.00.....I am not a money cow!! You may think that last comment is unfair...but now I need to tell you what I am really unhappy about. Before I got to the catalog of the ducats there were 80 pages of writing, writing that at times I struggled to understand the relevance of. On page 28 the title is "History of the gold ducats" followed by a sub title "The coin for trade" with 7 paragraphs. Then there is a subtitle "Debased coinage in pre-Provencial period" followed by 6 paragraphs which slowly started the drift away from the subject of the book. The next section was on The penalties for striking debased coins that went on for 8 pages or so, and didn't mention the ducat at all. I actually was wondering how I had got to that point and had I missed some connecting paragraphs( I hadn't). For me the book just got worse from there. The book to me suffered from a disorganized dump of information. As I said the catalog is great but the first part of the book, just made me feel very annoyed that I had spent $163.00. The book just didn't measure up to the quality I expected. What this book needed was an editor who insisted the author link all his thoughts together. I won't be buying volume 2. If Volume 2 is like vol 1 then may be US$163.00 for the pair would be reasonable but $326.00 for the pair no thank you!


The third book Is Robert Gurney's "Counterfeit Portrait Eight-Reales" ISBN not listed in the book( At least I couldn't find it) It cost roughly US$80.00 plus postage. For the price it wasn't too bad. There has been a lot of work put into the book. I would love to say it met my expectations but for me, the book raised more questions than it answered. I am hard on books I want to read one and have the information "fit into the landscape". In this book key pieces of information didn't fit into the landscape I understand. The book is on a tough subject and the author has put a lot of work into it...but for me to answer the questions the book raises I have already had to go off and buy one book (on Old Sheffield plate). I often do that but this is the first time that I found I had to buy another reference because of the lack of "feel" for the topic that the book gave me. I hope there is a revised edition, but if there is I will be previewing through my local library before I buy. This third book like the second is self published.


This leads me back to my opening comments. As collectors we rely on references to guide us.....it is really important that there is some academic scholarship behind those references. the establishment of an Academic college program in numismatics would help set the standard, but until that happens we collectors need to becoming very discerning with the books we buy.

In Conclusion: The best book of the three ( the book pictured) is clearly produced by a professional and it is a joy to own. The book on the counterfeit reales is "OK " The book on the Netherlands ducats...well for me it may be a case of the "Ford Edsel effect" meaning it may have been oversold to me... for what it is it is extremely expensive.




Comments

Kepi

Level 6

I like to check out high dollar books from the ANA Library. Great blog!

Mike

Level 7

First of all the picture is fine and thank you for it. Second any book that you read and give a breakdown on I will respect. Im glad one book met you expectations. So you didn't like the other two. That's fine too! It's your opinion you spent the time reading it. If I read a book and don't like it that's my opinion what do I care what others thought. Good blog thanks for the information and if I was to buy a book I would buy the one you recommend. Thanks.

user_81376

Level 2

Mr. Fenn, Giving a book review is personal, subjective and risky. Your "Ford Edsel" (Dariusz F. Jasek "Gold Ducats of the Netherlands; Volume one") is chosen as car of the year 2016 by professionals! In the Annual Writers’ Competition for 2016 of The Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG), was Gold Ducats of The Netherlands, by Dariusz F. Jasek, Winner in the category BEST SPECIALIZED BOOK subcategory: World Coins Why is this book a Winner? Read the review of a professional: Michael E. Marotta who writes reviews for the Numatist, the E-Sylum (Review: http://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v19n11a04.html) and other numismatic papers. In the Netherlands Jasek is considered to be the specialist on Gold Ducats of the Netherlands. He wrote several articles about Dutch Gold Ducats in the "Beeldenaar", the two monthly publication of the Royal Dutch Numismatic Society, for the most critical public in the World: Dutch Numatists. Jasek was invited by the Royal Dutch Numismatic Society to give a lecture during their meeting in Anholt (Germany). In this lecture, " Gold Ducats of Batenburg, 's-Heerenberg, Hedel und Nijmegen", Jasek amazed the public with numerous new variations of Ducats of these cities he found during his intensive multi-year research. P.S. The first publications of John S. Davenport on "German Talers" and many other great Numatists were Self Published books.

Ian Fenn

Level 5

Well I stand by my assessment of the book introducing a great many new varieties to the collecting world is great but communicating those discoveries is a different matter. I was contacted a few months back and was told that the price of the book had been lowered and I would get a refund. I never got the refund. When you look at the quality of the "gold book" which was the model for the Netherlands ducats book It well ahead of the other two. My biggest frustration with the Netherlands ducats book was the information dump/overload at the beginning of the book. It just left me with many unanswered questions . There was no adequate referencing ( so I can't go and check the statements made) and I was left with more questions than answers. It really needed further refinement. The catalog in the second part of the book was great...... but it stopped half way through Obviously leading to the planned second edition. I am honestly surprised the book gained an award. To be clear It does have great info... but I think the first part of the book needed at least two more rewrites before going to print.

user_8931

Level 3

I recall in a recent edition of the numismatists reading a suggestion that the ANA set up an academic program for numismatics. Its a long over due idea I think. I live in one of the few countries that has a university with a numismatics department. As a result many of the local coin dealers employ numismatists who have Masters degrees and PHDs in numismatics, and the locally published books are of a very high standard. My recent experience with "new" numismatic publications further re-enforces the idea that some form of academic accreditation is needed. I spent approximately US$350.00 ( rough exchange rate) on three books and only one meet my expectations. The book I am happy with is "Hungarian Medieval Coinage; the gold book 1325 -1540" ISBN 978-963-08-8377-1 published 2013. Its a very good translation, by the Author ( Andreas Lengyel) of a Hungarian Language book. It cost €100.00(last week). Its an extremely solid reference. It gives a brief history of the coinage covered, includes a quick reference guide and then presents all known varieties of Hungarian Gold coins in the date range listed. The cheapest indicative value is about €500.00 which is not surprising as it covers an extremely expensive and mostly rare series of coins. All the photos are high resolution color. The book is extremely easy to use. Its a joy to own! Its not surprising the author is a well respected dealer who has spent years in the trade. He has written the book with dealers and very deep pocketed customers in mind. Given its price and subject it isn't going to appeal to many. It is a book that belongs in a Library. All in all this book met and exceeded my expectations. Something that I can not say about the next book: Dariusz F. Jasek "Gold Ducats of the Netherlands; Volume one" Published by Knight press. ISBN 978-83-940534-1-3 It cost a whopping great €150.00. and was published in August this year. The book had been recommended to me by a Dutch numismatic book seller, who was actively involved in assisting with the distribution of the book. Although it has an established printing house as a publisher it is an author published book. This is where it has fallen down, as far as my needs go. The Author is a collector and like all of us very enthusiastic..... but being enthusiastic does make us good writers. When I pay €150.00(US$160.00) I have very definite expectations about the quality of the information in the book. This book, as I was told, has been inspired by the previous book, its the same size and is also hard covered. However when I put the books side by side it is clear this more expensive book is of a much lower quality binding. Then there is the contents. The catalog covers up to the beginning of the 19th century. Its well put together and easy to read.....but where the book on Hungarian coins ends at a logical point( the Ottomans took over Hungary in 1741) the ending of the Netherlands ducats book is annoying. The Netherlands ducat is still being produced today. Yes I know there is a vol 2 planned, but I am guessing for another €150.00.....I am not a money cow!! You may think that last comment is unfair...but now I need to tell you what I am really unhappy about. Before I got to the catalog of the ducats there were 80 pages of writing, writing that at times I struggled to understand the relevance of. On page 28 the title is "History of the gold ducats" followed by a sub title "The coin for trade" with 7 paragraphs. Then there is a subtitle "Debased coinage in pre-Provencial period" followed by 6 paragraphs which slowly started the drift away from the subject of the book. The next section was on The penalties for striking debased coins that went on for 8 pages or so, and didn't mention the ducat at all. I actually was wondering how I had got to that point and had I missed some connecting paragraphs( I hadn't). For me the book just got worse from there. The book to me suffered from a disorganized dump of information. As I said the catalog is great but the first part of the book, just made me feel very annoyed that I had spent $163.00. The book just didn't measure up to the quality I expected. What this book needed was an editor who insisted the author link all his thoughts together. I won't be buying volume 2. If Volume 2 is like vol 1 then may be US$163.00 for the pair would be reasonable but $326.00 for the pair no thank you! The third book Is Robert Gurney's "Counterfeit Portrait Eight-Reales" ISBN not listed in the book( At least I couldn't find it) It cost roughly US$80.00 plus postage. For the price it wasn't too bad. There has been a lot of work put into the book. I would love to say it met my expectations but for me, the book raised more questions than it answered. I am hard on books I want to read one and have the information "fit into the landscape". In this book key pieces of information didn't fit into the landscape I understand. The book is on a tough subject and the author has put a lot of work into it...but for me to answer the questions the book raises I have already had to go off and buy one book (on Old Sheffield plate). I often do that but this is the first time that I found I had to buy another reference because of the lack of "feel" for the topic that the book gave me. I hope there is a revised edition, but if there is I will be previewing through my local library before I buy. This third book like the second is self published. This leads me back to my opening comments. As collectors we rely on references to guide us.....it is really important that there is some academic scholarship behind those references. the establishment of an Academic college program in numismatics would help set the standard, but until that happens we collectors need to becoming very discerning with the books we buy. In Conclusion: The best book of the three ( the book pictured) is clearly produced by a professional and it is a joy to own. The book on the counterfeit reales is "OK " The book on the Netherlands ducats...well for me it may be a case of the "Ford Edsel effect" meaning it may have been oversold to me... for what it is it is extremely expensive. IS A GREAT BLOG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

World_Coin_Nut

Level 5

I have been borrowing some books from the ANA Library specifically to prevent this from happening to me. I don't mind putting out money on books but when I do and the book is disappointing I feel like the money was wasted.

user_7180

Level 5

Great reviews and feedback. Thanks!

Kellen

Level 5

I agreed with the college article as well.

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