Boston: Published by the New England Numismatic and Archaeological Society, 1873. Published by the Author, 1875. 4to [30.5 by 24.5 cm], as originally issued in 11 fascicules numbered 1–12 with printed paper covers. 1873 and 1875 title pages and introductions present. (2), v, (5), 11–381, (1) pages [different pages (2), v, (1), comprising the revised title and introduction, laid into Fascicule 11–12]; 110 wood engravings in the text; 2 folding heliotype manuscript facsimiles; 10 fine heliotype plates of coins and tokens. Housed in a recent custom-made brown quarter morocco clamshell book box; spine with four raised bands, ruled and decorated in gilt; black leather spine label lettered horizontally in gilt to accommodate flat display. A moderately worn set, with the spines of most fascicules being worn and covers detached (though present). The first folding facsimile plate bears a tape repair, and the covers of the final fascicule are chipped. Final part missing the marginal corner of the first several leaves, not affecting the text. Very good or so. Item #5505
An original subscription set of Crosby’s masterpiece, the foundation upon which all subsequent works on early American coinage have been constructed. Entirely in its original state, and neatly housed in a recent custom-made book box. The unusual unbound state of the present lot attests to the incredible difficulties Crosby experienced during the production of the book. The Early Coins of America was not intended to be the work of Crosby alone. Nominally the head of a committee of six appointed by the New England Numismatic and Archæological Society to publish a work on early American coinage, Crosby soon found himself alone in that pursuit. Not only was the research and composition of the work done almost entirely by Crosby, ultimately he also had to publish it. The twelve parts (as issued in eleven) were published separately and distributed to subscribers in printed covers: it was left to the subscriber to eventually bind his or her copy upon completion. Sets in their original state are very rarely encountered.
Some of Crosby’s difficulties are apparent through a close examination of the original printed paper covers. On the covers issued for Part I, published in 1873, the publisher is given as the New England Numismatic and Archæological Society and the printer as Charles Chaplin, a fellow member of that Society. By the time the final installment of the book was published in 1875, the printer was T.R. Marvin & Sons and the publisher was Crosby himself. To make matters even more difficult, there was a financial panic in 1873 and, if that weren’t enough, Crosby’s wife Mary died in 1874. That the book was completed at all is remarkable; that it was completed so well is nothing short of incredible.
State with overprinted coin numbers on Plates IV and V (see Eric P. Newman’s “Bibliographical Foreword” to the 1983 Quarterman reprint for information on plate states). Coin 15a on Plate VII hand-numbered in pencil, apparently as always. Without the handwritten correction, occasionally seen, to Miss Eliza Susan Quincy’s name in the subscribers’ list on page 381. Clain-Stefanelli 12115*. Davis 291: “The masterpiece of nineteenth century numismatic literature.” Grierson 218. Sigler 603. Ex Eric P. Newman Library.