OLD AMERICAN COINS. In Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Third Series, Vol. VII. James Mease.

OLD AMERICAN COINS. In Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Third Series, Vol. VII

Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown; printed by Freeman and Bolles, (1838). 8vo, late 19th-century blue cloth; red morocco spine label, gilt. 304, (2) pages [Mease’s article comprises pages 282 to 283]. 1898-dated purchase inscription on front pastedown. Moderate foxing. Very good or better. Item #4157

A decent copy of this foundational work. Mease’s 1838 article is “the first numismatic article on American coins published in America,” according to Eric Newman (The Asylum, Summer 1992). Of the highest importance and considerable rarity. Brief as it may be, this work is one of the foundations upon which U.S. numismatic scholarship has been constructed. Indeed, it is of greater value than merely as a curiosity or historical artifact: Newman’s aforementioned article discusses how Mease’s comments on the Bar Cent and the circulating value of Connecticut coppers have important implications for current scholarship on these pieces. James Mease, M.D. (1771-1846) was a polymath who published on an number of different subjects, including medicine, geology and history. His Picture of Philadelphia (1811) is a foundational work of local history and contains the first useful description of U.S. Mint operations. In addition, he is considered to be the first writer to publish on the subject of U.S. numismatics. In a groundbreaking series of three articles (of which this is the last), Mease examined U.S. medals and coins from the perspective of the numismatist. In his groundbreaking lecture on the topic of U.S. numismatic literature, William S.F. Mayers noted that “the first actual attempts at systematic classification and record of the coins struck in or for the American colonies and United States, appear in the shape of papers to be found in the collections of State Historical Societies” (“The Literature of American Numismatics,” Norton’s Literary Letter, No. 3, 1859, p. 6). Mease’s articles are specifically mentioned by Mayers in his article, showing that these works, long forgotten until recent years, were still in the memory of some in the late 1850s. Unlisted in Attinelli.

Price: $1,500.00

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