Well worn Copper's Blog

31 Jul 2020

Book Review of Littleton Coin Company founder

| Well worn Copper

I just finished reading "A Decent Boldness," which was a business biography of Littleton Coin founder Maynard Sundman by author Michael O'Traynor. Published by Littleton in 1995, I have to say I was a bit disappointed with the book overall. Sundman started out as a seller of stamps, later getting into coins because back then the two seemed to go hand in hand. It was in the 1950's that Littleton entered the coin business big time, and eventually became the largest US mail order coin dealer. While the book leans heavily on Sundman's family and personal biography, not much is revealed about his numismatic dealings. Exactly what his "formula" for buying was is never revealed and what is also sadly missing are any antidotes about purchasing notable coins or collections. In fact, the only two stories I can recall were the time his son found a 1792 Washington Born Virginia piece in a junk box (purchased at 1/4 of a cent per coin!) and the time he was offered a BU roll of 1909-S VDB Lincoln's. (He told the buyer he could not purchase them from her with a clear conscience at the price he offered, but she insisted.) The book glosses over countless possible stories such as these with a scant mention of Sundman's "buyers' who simply purchased "millions of coins". Whether Sundman even had a favorite coin is not even revealed. Most numismatists never did much (if any) business with Littleton Coin and much of what they sold was considered entry level stuff. Sadly, this book (to me at least) reads too much like a straight business dealing, and I probably won't include it on my numismatic bookshelves. (Q. David Bowers has nothing to worry about.)

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