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Wilt the Winner

blog-wiltSomething a bit different this time.

When growing up during the 1960s, I was a fan of the 7 foot 1 inch basketball legend, Wilt Chamberlain. Wilt took a lot of flack during his career, most of which I thought was unjustified.

Late in his career, people seemed to mellow towards him a bit, though I still thought he was underrated.

Then, in 1991 (he died in 1999), he made a very ill-conceived comment in a book about the number of women he had slept with. Boom! He’s been a bit of a joke to a lot of people ever since, and his fabulous achievements on the basketball court have been “reconsidered”  as well.

He still has his fans, but I have seen many absurd statements about his career – for example, that he was a loser who choked in big games, only put up big numbers because he played against white midgets, and wouldn’t be more than a bench-warmer in today’s game. Nonsense!

Finally I had enough and decided to write this book, to “set the record straight.” I’ve taken some novel approaches to analyzing his statistics and tried to put his career into perspective for those who weren’t around to see the man play or don’t know how to evaluate the little video footage that survives.

My stepson says nobody will care. Maybe he’s right, but you’ve got to stand up for your heroes because no one in the future is likely to. Available as a paperback and Kindle book on Amazon.

P. S. I know the front cover says “records” – I’m referring to the dozens of NBA records he still owns, 45 years after he retired.



Trilobites – the Film?

stargirlAfter unsuccessful attempts to market screenplays based on my novels Vipsania, Bulla Felix, and Dreamweaving, I never expected my book about Trilobites to appear in a movie.  So I was quite surprised when I was asked to sign a release allowing Disney to use the book in an upcoming TV movie entitled “Stargirl.”

Apparently the film, in which “A quirky, home-schooled teenager shakes things up at her uptight high school in Arizona” features at least one character who is a paleontologist. The film makers want to use my book “as set dressing/props (cover, inside pages)” in the film. Wonders never cease!

Meanwhile, an interview about my fossil collecting and my book entitled Fossil Collecting in the Mid-Atlantic States, which was published more than 27 years ago, appeared in the Hampshire Review (based in Romney, West Virginia) this past Wednesday, written by Ed Dewitt and featuring several pictures of fossils – me included.



Coin Stories Revised

1806-blogI’ve recently updated and enlarged my coin collecting memoir, COIN STORIES, as a color paperback, black and white paperback (much less expensive), and Kindle e-book.

This revision (44 new pages) features the addition of many photographs and new chapters as well as the enlargement of all previous sections. The new edition was inspired by my recent love affair with early United States coins and by the publication of my new books ANCIENT ANIMALS AND THEIR COINS and THE EARLY COINS OF ATHENS.

In 60 years of coin collecting, I have had a very wide range of interests (e.g. United States, varieties and errors, world, ancient Indian, Medieval British and European, and ancient Greek and Roman) while pursuing the hobby in a very individualistic and even eccentric way. I think that every coin collector will find something of interest here.

New Book About Ancient Coins

blogThe early coins of Athens probably receive more collector interest than any other ancient series.  Despite this, there continue to be many uncertainties about their age, sequence, and historical context.

I recently bought a modest little obol from the earliest owl mintage, which was identified differently by different coin dealers who offered the coin.  In an effort to figure out which dealer was correct, I did a thorough review of the various guides and professional articles on the subject. My research gradually developed into some new ideas about Athenian coinage, which I am now presenting in the form of a book entitled The Early Coins of Athens. It is illustrated with photographs of 100 coins as well as diagrams and charts.



What Animal Am I?

e-What-ANIMAL-CoverHow much do we really know about the animals around us? This book presents lists of interesting and often surprising facts about familiar – and a few not so familiar – North American Animals. The challenge is to identify the animal before seeing its full-page picture.

Most of the animals are mammals, but there are also some birds, reptiles, insects, fish, and others. Many of the “facts” are quite amazing and may help us to be a bit more impressed by our wild neighbors.

The drawings come from a variety of earlier publications that I illustrated, augmented by appropriate backgrounds showing habitat. What Animal Am I? is available in paperback and as an ebook on Amazon.  It is written for children 8 and up, but should be of interest to adults as well.

Never Give Up! Never Give Up!

slThus spake Winston Churchill. My version of WWII has been the saga of my first serious book – Selected Lives: The Autobiography of a Soul.  It has been through countless revisions, reversions, name changes, abridgements, expansions – you name it.

I began work on Selected Lives in 1982, finished it in 1986, self-published it in 2006, and again in 2013, and again this week (November 2017).  Through it all, the book has sold a grand total of 17 copies!

I’ve written apologies for it and defiant celebrations of it; I just won’t give up on it.  Why?  Because I think it is a great book – the best I have ever written.  Yes, the artwork is a bit stiff and the writing a bit naive.  It was my first serious project at age 30 – I was feeling my way and a bit terrified.  But come on – an illustrated journey through the history of life culminating in spiritual enlightenment, told in first person?  Nothing had ever been written like this before, as far as I know.

I can’t fully duplicate the spirit of Selected Lives because it was the product of innocence now lost and a firm faith in my inspiration that I have never been able to completely recapture since the disappointment of its commercial failure – or, rather, the lack of interest.

I’m not sure if Selected Lives was ahead of its time or a century or two behind the times. All I know is that I love it.  And so, I have restored all the episodes that I had deleted because I thought the artwork was lame or the stories contrived – because I want to honor the Muse that gave them to me in the first place.

So here it is, as it was. This time around, I don’t give a damn if anyone buys it or likes it; this time is for the ages.

Six New Books!

coins-cover-bw-BLOGWell, sort of. One of the disadvantages of on-demand printing is that color is prohibitively expensive.  I mentioned in a recent post that the price for my Coin Stories book went up after the addition of 30 pages from $15.95 to $27.95 – a lot of money for a 108-page book.  So, I have “de-colorized” Coin Stories and published a black and white version, priced at a much-more-reasonable $12.95.

This inspired me to take another look at my other color publications and create more affordable black and white editions. Here is a complete list of my new books – plus two of my father Jim Burns’ books that I also “de-colorized”:



Coin Stories Redux

coins-cover-eFour years ago, I published my full-color coin collecting memoir at at time when I was unable to actively participate in the hobby for financial reasons.  Since then, I have retired and am even less able to afford coins, but I found a way to stay active  – by “cherrypicking ebay” and writing books on numismatic subjects (see my recent blog posts). As a result, my memoir (Coin Stories) needed an update.

The revised version has 30 more pages and about a dozen new photographs. Unfortunately, this expansion almost doubled the price I have to charge – from $15.95 to $27.95. Color is nice but it doesn’t come cheap! However, I have also published a new ebook version, which is much more affordable at $2.99.

This book is a self-indulgence, but I believe it will be of interest to other collectors because it shows what amazing experiences and acquisitions are available to the collector on a very tight budget when she or he is willing to think outside of the box and look in places other collectors might not be looking.

Ancient Animals/Ancient Coins

cover-animal-coins-blogAnimals were perceived quite differently in the ancient Greco-Roman world than is usual in the modern West. They were not considered fundamentally different from  human beings, possessing immortal souls. Humans and gods were often transformed into animals and vice versa in legend and mythology. There was a widespread belief in reincarnation, and the followers of men like Pythagoras and Apollonius of Tyana refrained from eating meat, partly because they believed that animals could be the reincarnations of ancestors or gods in animal form.

Partly because of this veneration and respect, as well as because of the close association the ancients had with animals, as food, transportation, entertainment, and a wide variety of household pets, their coinages featured sensitive and realistic portrayals of many different types. This is in contrast with most modern coinages, where few animals besides eagles and lions appear on the money issued for commercial purposes.

Ancient Animals and Their Coins presents a discussion of the place animals occupied in the ancient Greco-Roman world as well as a portfolio of 200 coins, illustrated with enlarged black and white photographs and full attributions.

Irish Hammered Pennies – Take Five!

5th-blogcoverThe fifth edition of my guide to the Irish hammered pennies of the English Kings Edward IV, Edward V, Richard III, and Henry VII has just been published. I consider the understanding of this series to have really come of age with this edition, thanks largely to the brilliant work of Mr. Oisín MacConamhna. His findings, published in the current edition of the British Numismatic Journal, have used the existing evidence, including information in previous editions of my book, to construct a detailed chronology of the series, attributing specific issues to specific moneyers with a high degree of certainty. This is ground-breaking work, and I am honored to have been able to contribute to it.

The new edition also unveils a previously unreported issue of Richard III and a new Suns and Roses coinage of Edward V, the latter based on Mr. MacConamhna’s research.  This Irish medieval coinage has always been problematic. Now it is much better understood and can be a powerful tool for archeologists and historians and a much more rational and attractive series for collectors.