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Gale Hill lives on!

covergh_use3Just before I published my book about my mother’s old family home near Charlottesville, Virginia (built c. 1775, burned 1930), I got to know the current owners of the property: Dr. Thomas Wakefield Epps and his wife Mary Lee. They have a keen interest in the history of the property and in the people who used to live there.

Since acquiring Gale Hill, the Epps have done a miraculous job of clearing the site and making new discoveries.  They excavated a wonderful ice pit, 20 feet deep and lined with stone, cleared the Gale Hill yard and graveyard, and removed the brush from the garden terraces so that their truly impressive scale can be appreciated.

In addition, they did much of the research that I had failed to do, visiting the county clerk’s office and reconstructing the history of land acquisition and transfer. They even found a hand-forged key that dates back at least to the mid 19th century.

The Eppses uncovered so much new information that I decided to add a couple of chapters to my book about Gale Hill. I was also able to make some minor corrections to the text.

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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.

The ‘Archaic Smile’ on Coins

cover-smile-blogWell, I wasn’t sure if new book ideas would join me in retirement, but now one has. I’ve long been interested in the so-called “archaic smile” of ancient Greek art. It figured prominently in my novel Bulla Felix: The Roman Robin Hood.  Now I’ve taken a closer look at “the smile” and the coins on which it appears.

My new book, entitled “The ‘Archaic Smile’ and Greek Coins”, presents the historical and cultural background and possible significance of the famous smile. It includes a fully annotated catalog of 84 spectacular coin types displaying “the smile,” maps showing the distribution of mints, and a basic chronology of the Archaic Period. There are more than 100 illustrations, including enlarged photographs of all coin specimens.