Summertime Reading

As summer approaches officially on the calendar (but is here in reality for many readers), it offers the opportunity to catch up on numismatic reading. On vacation, in a comfortable chair with the air conditioner turned on, or on the back porch, reading about coins is a pleasant pastime.

If you are relatively new to coin collecting, for starters you might want to visit the Whitman Publishing website and order The 100 Greatest United States Coins, The 100 Greatest American Medals and Tokens, and The 100 Greatest American Currency Notes. Each of these three volumes describes and illustrates different pieces in each series and tells their stories, often fascinating, sometimes improbable. This trio furnishes a nice background.

For enjoyment and fun, I recommend my own Adventures with Rare Coins (1979, out of print but available on the internet) and More Adventures with Rare Coins (2002, also currently available from or elsewhere on the internet). Each of these has stories about rarities, errors in coin designs, famous collectors, and more. I (almost) guarantee that after spending a few days reading both of these books you will become an expert on the general personalities, background, flavor, and history of American numismatics.

Of the various books I have written in the past, two of them have been especially popular. The History of United States Coinage as Illustrated by the Garrett Collection, published in 1979 in connection with our sale for the Johns Hopkins University of that particular numismatic cabinet, has been considered the all-time favorite by quite a few people. Dr. Joel Orosz stated that if he had to take just one book to a desert island to read it would be this one.  The book is out of print, but used copies are readily available.

The Experts Guide to Collecting and Investing in Rare Coins, available from Whitman Publishing LLC, has been likened to a university course in numismatics. Read it, and you will probably know more about coins, the market, and other aspects than 95 percent of collectors today.

Beyond the above, A Guide Book of United States Coins, published yearly, is more useful than many people think at first glance. The other day I received a communication from a friend in New York state who had been buying, selling , and trading coins on the internet for a number of years, but said she did not have overall basic knowledge of American numismatics. I suggested that if she read the Guide Book from front to back, taking particular note of the front part, she would be all set!

The above said, enjoy the summer.

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