Numismatic Coin Club World Internet Numismatic Society

By Mark Watson, WINS#13

An old adage in coin collecting is Aaron Feldman's "Buy the book before you buy the coin." Arguably, for collectors of United States coins, the first book to buy is A Guide Book of U.S Coins, better known as the Red Book. This book gives a broad overview of U.S. coins beginning with foreign and colonial issues that circulated in the fledgling country, continuing with the various coin types minted for the last 200 years, and ending with the commemorative coins. Additionally, the Red Book provides some grading criteria for the coins along with prices. However, due to the printing process and distribution of the Red Book, the prices could be as much as two years old.

So, you buy your first book. Now what is the second book you should buy for your coin library? I asked some noted coin personalities that question. Bob Campbell, past president of the ANA, suggested the ANA Grading Guide, now in its 5th edition. Ed Rochette, ANA's executive director, thought the Krause catalogs would be a good second book. Finally, Tom Hallenback, ANA governor, decided on Walter Breen's Encyclopedia of U.S. Coins.

As most of these people collect United States coins, I asked Kerry Wetterstrom, former dealer of ancient coins and the current editor of the Celator, what first book an ancient coin collector should buy. He suggested Wayne Sayles's Collecting Ancient Coins.

For your third and subsequent book, here is a list for your consideration.  Bill Fivaz originally complied this list in October 1983, and Mary Sauvain revised it in July 1993. In turn, I've updated it with suggestions from Ray Larson WINS#20, Jason Craton WINS#5, and Charles Calkins WINS#47 in June 2001.

As you can see, United States material dominates the listing. So, if you have your own list for another country or time period, I would greatly appreciate you e-mailing it to me so I can update the list. Also, if you have a review of one of the books below, I would appreciate that as well. Please contact the WINS librarian with the data.

  • A Guide Book of United States Coins (Red Book) - Yeoman
  • Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of United States Coins - Coin World
  • Standard Guide of United States Coins - Raymond
  • The Complete Coin Collector - Reed
  • Encyclopedia of United States Colonial Proof Coins, 1722 - 1977 - Breen
  • Dies & Coinage (pamphlet) - Breen
  • Coin Dealer Newsletter (Grey Sheet)
  • Certified Coin Dealer Newsletter (Blue Sheet)
  • United States Pattern, Experimental, and Trial Pieces - Judd
  • Complete Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins - Breen
  • The Early Coins of America - Crosby
  • High Profits from Rare Coin Investment (13th edition) - Bowers
  • United States Copper Coins: An Action Guide for the Collector and Investor - Bowers
  • United States Three Cent and Five Cent Pieces: An Action Guide for the Collector and Investor - Bowers
  • United States Dimes, Quarters, and Half Dollars: An Action Guide for the Collector and Investor - Bowers
  • United States Coins by Design Types: An Action Guide for the Collector and Investor - Bowers
  • The History of United States Coinage - Bowers
  • The Numismatist's Companion Books - Bowers
  • Adventures with Rare Coins - Ford
  • Coinage Laws of the United States, 1792 - 1894 - Ganz
  • A Buyer's Guide to the Rare Coin Market - Bowers
  • The United States Clad Coinage - Rapsus
  • Standard Catalog of World Coins - Krause
  • Historic Gold Coins of the World - Hobson
  • Official ANA Grading Standards for United States Coins, 5th edition - ANA Photograde - Ruddy
  • ANACS Counterfeit Detection, Volumes I and II - ANA
  • Encyclopedia of United States Half Cents, 1793 - 1857 - Breen
  • American Half Cents - Cohen
  • United States Half Cents (pamphlet) - Gilbert
  • Penny Whimsy - Sheldon
  • United States Copper Cents - Newcomb
  • The Cent Book - Wright
  • United States Large Cents, 1793 - 1814 - Noyes
  • United States Large Cents, 1816 - 1839 - Noyes
  • Flying Eagle and Indian Cents - Snow
  • Indian 1¢ Varieties (pamphlet) - Steinberger
  • The Collector's and Investor's Guide to the Lincoln Cent - Taylor
  • The Two Cent Piece and Varieties - Kliman
  • Getting your Two Cents Worth - Flynn and Paul
  • The United States Half Dimes - Valentine
  • Bust United States Half Dimes - Breen
  • The Complete Guide to Liberty Seated Half Dimes - Blythe
  • The United States Nickel Five-Cent Piece - Wescott
  • The Complete Guide to Shield & Liberty Nickels - Peters and Mohon
  • The Complete Guide to Buffalo Nickels - Lange
  • Encyclopedia of United States Liberty Seated Dimes, 1837 - 1891 - Ahwash
  • The Complete Guide to Liberty Seated Dimes - Greer
  • The Complete Guide to Barber Dimes - Lawrence
  • The Early Quarter Dollars of the United States 1796 - 1838 - Duphorne
  • Early Quarter Dollars of the United States - Browning
  • The Complete Encyclopedia of United States Liberty Seated Quarters - Briggs
  • The Complete Guide to Barber Quarters - Lawrence
  • Standing Liberty Quarters - Cline
  • The Complete Guide to Washington Quarters - Feigenbaum
  • Early Half Dollar Varieties - Beistle
  • Early Half Dollar Varieties, 1794 - 1836 - Overton
  • The Complete Guide to Barber Halves - Lawrence
  • Walking Liberty 50¢ Analysis - Swiatek
  • An Analysis of Gem Franklin 50¢ - Emrmantraut
  • The Complete Guide to Franklin Half Dollars - Tomaska
  • The US Early Silver Dollars from 1794 to 1803 - Bolender
  • The Fantastic 1804 Silver Dollar - Newman/Bresset
  • United States Trade Dollars - Willem
  • The Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of United States Morgan & Peace Dollars (VAMs)- Van Allen/Mallis
  • The Morgan and Peace Dollar Textbook - Miller
  • Silver Dollars and Trade Dollars of the US: A Complete Encyclopedia - Bowers
  • The Comprehensive United States Silver Dollar Encyclopedia - Highfill
  • The Encyclopedia of US Silver and Gold Commemorative Coins - Swiatek/Breen
  • A Comprehensive Guide to US Commemorative Coins - Iacovo
  • United States Commemorative Coinage - Slabaugh
  • Commemorative Coins of the US: A Complete Encyclopedia - Bowers
  • How Error Coins are Made (The Minting Process) - Margolis
  • Official Price Guide to Mint Errors and Varieties - Herbert
  • Modern Mint Mistakes - Steiner / Zimpfer
  • The RPM Book - Wexler / Miller
  • The Design Cud - Marvin Margolis
  • The Encyclopedia of Doubled Dies, Volumes I and II - Wexler
  • The Lincoln Cent Doubled Die - Wexler
  • The Numismatic Error Primer - Margolis
  • The CONECA Handbook
  • The Error Coin Encyclopedia - Margolis
  • Cherrypickers' Guide 4th Edition - Fivaz and Staton
  • United States Gold Coins - Analysis of Auction Records (5 volumes) - Akers
  • Major Varieties of United States Gold Dollars (pamphlet) - Breen
  • Varieties of United States Quarter Eagles (pamphlet) - Breen
  • Early United States Half Eagles, 1795 - 1838 (pamphlet) - Breen
  • Varieties of United States Half Eagles 1839 - 1929 (pamphlet) - Breen
  • Buyer's Guide to United States Gold Coins - Bowers
  • United States Gold Coins: An Illustrated History - Bowers
  • Handbook of 20th Century United States Gold Coins - Akers
  • Private Gold Coins & Patterns of the United States - Kagin
  • So-Called Dollars - Hibler / Kappen
  • United States Hard Time Tokens (pamphlet) - Hewitt
  • Patriotic Civil War Tokens - Fuld
  • Civil War Tokens Tradesmen's Store Cards - Hetrich / Cuttag
  • United States Civil War Store Cards - Fuld
  • Early American Tokens - Rulau
  • Hard Times Tokens - Rulau
  • Merchant's Tokens of the United States - Rulau
  • United States Trade Tokens - Rulau
  • Hobo Nickels - Romines
  • Medals of the United States Mint - Department of the Treasury
  • Greek Coins and their Values - Seaby
  • Roman Coins and their Values (4th ed) - Sear
  • The Handbook of Roman Imperial Coins - Van Meter
  • Guide to Biblical Coins - Hendin
  • Coins of Medieval Europe - Grierson
  • Coins of Canada - Haxby / Willey
  • The Charlton Standard Catalogue of Canadian Coins
  • Chinese Cash Identification and Price Guide - Jen
  • Chinese Currency - Schjoth
  • Fisher's Ding
  • Japanese Coinage - Jacobs / Vermeule
  • Coins of England and the United Kingdom - Spink
  • Standard Catalogue of English & UK Coins 1066 to Date - Coincraft
  • English Silver Coinage Since 1649 - Rayner
  • English Copper, Tin and Bronze Coins in the British Museum 1558-1958 - Peck


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