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American colonial history illustrated by contemporary medals


Book Summary


Voted #13 in the Numismatic Bibliomania Society's 2009 survey of American numismatic literature. NBS summary:

“Medals are original documents in metal,” notes the preface of Betts.  Thus, the six hundred plus medals here catalogued serve as tangible evidence of the American experience from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries.  The beginnings are humble, for America remained unhonored in medallic form until well after the age of Columbus, surprisingly unable to compete with lesser European subjects.  Even then, the first allusion, in 1556, is merely set within the context of Spanish hegemony.  The end, of course, gets better for the Americans, as a host of issues extol the Independence of 1776.  In between, Betts describes everything from Admiral Vernons to Proclamations to Indian Peace Medals, a comprehensive European view of American history for the period covered.  Editorial notes posthumously prepared by William Marvin and Lyman Low add useful citations of the AJN (#11) and other sources.  Betts has only occasional engraved illustrations – an updated version with substantial photography would be a thoroughly welcome addition to the literature (Davis notes additional photo illustrations in the 1972 Quarterman reprint).  As it is, Betts remains the greatest work - solely dedicated to medals - in the library of the American medal collector.

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