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What books should every new collector read?

21 posts in this topic

I like to know what books are a must to read for a new collector. So far I have these:


1. 2008 Red Book: I use this to ref. for US coins (ie what they look like, any side notes about them, and how hard they might be able to collect).


2. Coin Collecting for Dummies insane.gif Really good read. It open my eyes to the bigger world of coin collecting.


So what other books should I add to my library of fun?

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It really is WIDE open. If you have specific collecting interests then some books on those series are always good. One book that is kind of the Reference Bible for all series is Walter Breen's, "Complete Encyclopedia of US and Colonial Coins".

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If you are buying anything other than govrnment issued modern coinage in government packaging, I would strongly suggest the ANA Grading Guide.

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There are hundred's and hundred's of $ of books to pick from according to your interests. As has been mentioned the ANA's book should head the list, but for FREE merely join the Heritage Auction site and view many or most all of any series you would be interested in--here you can learn true values(past and present), grading examples for most mid graded/up coins, photos immediately blown up for your examination. Can't go wrong there.

Good luck.

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I highly recommend The Coin Collector's Survival Manual by Scott Travers.


He tells you how to go about being an intelligent collector - how to buy, how to sell, about the grading services, price guides, etc.


It's the book I wish I had read first when I got back into collecting.


(I must confess I haven't read Coin Collecting for Dummies or Bowers' Investor's book.)

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(I must confess I haven't read Coin Collecting for Dummies or Bowers' Investor's book.)


Coin Collecting for Dummies is a terrific book--clear, simple, and inviting. It covers a lot of ground with no missteps, but I don't think there's much in it that isn't at least mentioned in the Survival Manual.

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I've found photograde to be very helpful, despite the fact that the pictures aren't super high quality, gotta agree with that one. Also the PCGS grading/counterfeit book is a great read in part to supplement photograde and the section on counterfeits gives a great explanation of what to watch out for, as well as a decent understanding of the process of making coins over the years.


If you want a really in-depth understanding of every step in the minting process, both fairly currently and over the history of the US mint, The Error Coin Encyclopedia by Margolis and Weinberg, while the basis may not be reflective of your particular area of collecting, provides a wealth of information on every step of the process. It's a really great illustration of every step through detailed explanations of what can go wrong at every step any how/why things go wrong. I happen to be an error coin nut, but the education in minting techniques at the US mints has been a fantastic unexpected benefit.


After that it really depends on what area of numismatics you're interested in. There are a lot of great books out there on specific topics, it's just a matter of figuring out what particular areas interest you.

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The Experts Guide to Collecting & Investing in Rare Coins







The PCGS Guide to grading and counterfeit detection


scott travers coin collectors survival manual


breens telephone book encyc. usa and colonial coins territorials et. el.


breens proof coin book 1791-1989


flying eagle and indian head cents by richard snow whitman pub.


ana grading guide


us gold coins by garrett and guth


pioneer gold coins by don kagin


three dollar gold pieces by qdb and doug winter


eric p newmans colonial and continental currency


the mint on carson street by rusty goe


the 100 greatest american currency notes


current red book


bowers volume one silver dollar book 1794-trade dollars

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A must have in my opinion is Breen's Encyclopedia. Yes, it has errors, Yes, Breen was a sonofa*****, but the book is in my opinion THE most indespensible book in all of numismatics.

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A new collector needs to buy a Red Book before he gets anything else. There was a time when the Red Book was really going down hill. Today it is much improved, despite a few too many typographical errors.


Still the new collector will find more general information in the Red Book than any other source for the price.

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I have to agree with all of the above.

The Travers book helped me alot in the beginning.

But study study study study study study

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For a general overview of US coinage (Read the book, ignore the price information)

A Guidebook of United States Coins by R S Yeoman


For a more indepth look

Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins by Walter Breen


A good general knowledge of colonial coinage

Early Coins of America by Sylvester Crosby


Early history of the mint

US Coins and Coinage by Don Taxay

The First Mint by Frank Stewart


For a good grounding of the ecomnomics of coinage in this country from the 1780's to the 1890's

Fractional Currency by Neil Carothers


For early copper coinage You can ignore the die variety information in these if you wish. The background text in the first two are fabulous on their own, and Penny Whimsey has been said to be the best book on coins ever written. It is just an enjoyable read in its own right.

Encyclopedia of United States Half Cents by Walter Breen

Encyclopedia of early United States Cents 1793 - 1814 by Breen

Penny Whimsey by William Sheldon


I can't really think of a good suggestion for the early silver coins. There are some good books out there, but they are specialized works intended for the more advanced student interested in die varieties. The best works are on the dollars. In those I would recommend'

The Fantastic 1804 Dollar by Ken Bressett and Eric Newman

David Bowers book on the 1804 dollar, I can't remember the title offhand.

The Untied States Trade Dollar, America only Dishonored Coin can't remember the authors name

The Mint on Carson Street by Rusty Goe


For a bit of an understanding of the end of Bimetallism and the coming of the Morgan dollar

The Crime of 1873


For more on bimetallism, how the Bland-Allison and Sherman Silver Purchase Act nearly destroyed the country, and what lead to the final official change to the gold standard you have to go to several sources. Try

Morgan and Peace dollar varieties by Leroy Van Allen and George Mallis

Morgan Dollar Textbook by Wayne Miller

And many of the books on the gold and silver question debated in the presidential elections of 1896. Coins Financial Fool is a good one if you can find a copy. And Coins Financial School if you want the silverites biased version (Coins Finacial Fool is the gold or "sound money's" debunking of the claims put forth in the silverites version. It was reprinted by the Sound Currency Reform Club of New York in 1895 but that isn't easy to find either.)


For Classic commemoratives

United States Commemortives by Walter Breen and Anthony Swiatek.


Pioneer gold by Donald Kagin


There really isn't that much else I can say about the gold coinage. You might try United States Gold Coinage 1795 0 1834 by Ron Guth and can't recall name. I have a copy and it looks like there is some good information there but I havn't read it yet. The book does a lot with die varieties but I think there is more background information there too.


The three grading books others have mentioned are good. I prefer Photograde myself, but the only really good edition was the 1970 hardbound edition where they used glossy coated paper. It makes the reproduction of the photos come out much better that on the later paperback editions. On the ANA Grading guide stay away from the first or second editions. The first edition used line drawings, the second used B&W photos and many of them are in the wrong order. The first edition of the PCGS grading guide is supposed to be the better of the two for it.


And then of course there are the specialized works! Which we won't go into here.

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