Philadelphia: Carey and Hart, 1846. 12mo, original cream colored cloth, embossed and decorated in blind and impressed with an image of a medal depicting Pharamond, legendary King of France, in gilt on the front cover and in blind on the back; spine ruled, lettered and decorated in gilt; all page edges gilt. 252 pages; 18 finely engraved plates of portrait medals. Professionally rebacked, with original spine laid on. Mostly free of the foxing that is usually found in this title, with the plates being the nicest we recall seeing. Near fine. Item #5444
Perhaps the nicest copy we have handled of this scarce work. The handsome plates, “engraved from a series of medals lately issued in France,” were executed by the famous bank note engraver W.L. Ormsby, utilizing a medal-ruling machine process also used in Wyatt’s other numismatic works. This work pre-dates by two years Wyatt’s classic Memoirs of the Generals, Commodores, and Other Commanders..., the first illustrated work on American medals. Several of the illustrations in this volume were derived from medallic portraits found in Guillaume Roville’s classic 1553 numismatic work, the Promptuaire des médailles, which, avers Wyatt, contained “portraits of all the French Kings up to that time.” Sets of the medals themselves were offered by Carey & Hart on the verso of the “Author’s Preface” for $75 in bronze, $85 plated in silver, and $100 plated in gold. Wyatt is best remembered today for his more nefarious works. In the mid-1850s, he began striking medals, tokens and related items specifically for the nascent collector market. He also began producing fairly high-quality reproductions of rare American colonial coins, which were privately marketed as original coins emanating from a hoard discovered in 1856. His duplicity was soon discovered, after which he quickly and quietly faded from the scene.