Summertime in Numismatics Books

It is summertime, and in addition to vacation and other activities, what could be nicer than curling up in a lawn chair or indoors on a sofa with a good numismatic book? Although we are in the midst of the electronic age with virtual anything and everything, you may be surprised to know that more numismatic reference books have been published in the past 10 years than in any comparable period earlier! If you want to tap into some of the titles, often obscure, check out eSylum on the Internet. This is conducted by Wayne Homren for the Numismatic Bibliomania Society. Delivered to your “email box” every Sunday evening, it always has at least a half hour’s worth of news and views, including the latest titles.

Closer to home, Whitman Publishing LLC now has quite a few of my books in what they call the Bowers series. These mainly cover American issues, are mostly (but not all) by me, are color illustrated and are priced very reasonably. Whitman has the advantage of worldwide sales in large volume, permitting efficiencies that simply would not be available otherwise. Did you know that about two-thirds of Whitman titles, including the popular Guide Book of United States Coins are sold not in numismatic circles but to the general public in outlets such as Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, and elsewhere. Also, Whitman has a dynamic website that you can browse. Every now and again they have special offerings such as free shipping or discounts.

An interesting phenomenon, if it can be called that, is that many numismatists would not hesitate to pay, say, $1,500 for a nice double eagle, but if you suggested that they spend $500 on books, they will balk. In reality, a small shelf of well-selected books will pay for itself many times over. Not only will you find tips to be a smart buyer, but also many books will tell the stories behind coins, tokens, medals, and paper money, making them come alive.

A couple favorites of mine are The 100 Greatest American Medals and Tokens, co-authored with Katherine Jaeger, and The 100 Greatest American Currency Notes, co-authored with David Sundman. Each one will provide a “good read” for an evening. I must warn you, however, that as you look through the pages you may develop a great desire to own some of the items illustrated — perhaps dangerous to your checking account!

See you next week.

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