Immersion in History – From the Desk of Q. David Bowers

I love to read books. At
any given time I have two or three in the wings and one at my side. Apart from
the subject matter, for me a key to enjoying a book is the writing style of the
author. I bought a recently-published history of Boston that, to me, was about
as interesting to read as an adding machine tape.

In dynamic contrast is a
book I bought for $10 on—a used copy of The Diary of
Philip Hone 1828 to 1851. Hone, who served a term as mayor of New York
City, was a leading entrepreneur of the day and hosted just about everyone
important in politics and society. His journal is an immersion in American
history of the day—great source material.

While this has nothing
directly to do with numismatics, it tells much of the Jacksonian era (1828 to
1837) that was pivotal in American numismatic history. For my understanding of
the American scene I have always preferred original source material rather than
modern interpretations. For example, I have perused every issue of Niles’
Register from the first issue in 1811 down to the late 1830s.

If you have a few spare
dollars, track down a copy on the Internet. Caveat: be
prepared to spend MANY HOURS immersed in its pages. As I write these words I am
on page 223 of nearly a thousand pages.

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