Friday, June 13, 2014

The American Numismatic Association's Numismatist Magazine

Way back in the 70's, I was a member of the ANA - the American Numismatic Association.  When my interest in coins rekindled this year, I joined again and was happy to see that the Numismatist magazine  is available online along with several years of back issues.

My happiness was short lived. As I read through the back issues, I became uncomfortable. Certainly some of the articles appeared to be authoritative and well researched. But others are obviously not, which makes me hesitant to accept anything published there as fact.

Although there were other examples I could point to, the one that caused me to actually groan was a retelling of the nonsensical story of "Josh Tatum" and gold plated 1883 No Cents nickels. It ended with a twist I hadn't heard before:
Josh Tatum's flirt with the Law gave birth to the phrase, "I'm just joshing you."
As any decent dictionary will tell you that "josh", meaning teasing or joking, has been in use for decades prior to 1883, that's plainly nonsense.  The rest of the story is too: there are no police records or newspaper reports of any Josh Tatum attempting to pass gold plated nickels as a deaf mute or otherwise. In fact, the story seems to have been made up in the 1960's.  Plainly there is no fact checking at the Numismatist!

Interestingly, someone rehashed that story at a coin forum I frequent. When I pointed out the facts, he retorted that it was "just a coin related story I found amusing and thought others might as well".

Yes, amusing. Untrue, but amusing. Shall I send in an equally amusing story concerning how my grandfather stole a hat from Victor D. Brenner in 1909? I promise you, it's a worthy tale and it explains where the phrase "I'll eat my hat!" came from.  None of it's true, but hey, it's  a coin related story I found amusing and I thought others might as well!

If it were not for the discount coin insurance, I would not be renewing my ANA subscription next year. Even at that, I may not.

Note:  All my coins are in a safe deposit box.  I keep nothing in my home. 


  1. I'm a new member of the ANA. Personally, I like their paper version of the magazine versus the online print. I like the physicality of it. Something to hold on to. You get the drift...

  2. Oh and help advertise the PIF contest for me. I have a special silver I poured I'm looking to get some feelers out there for the contest...I may post a pic

  3. Philip is referring to a contest running at Modern Coin Mart Forums. Find that at our "Contests and Giveaways" link above.

    Phil, send me a picture and I will advertise it.