At first, buying rare coins can be an overwhelming experience.
For someone just entering our hobby, there’s a complete new
vocabulary to learn from coin types to grading terms, and everything
Building a basic library can help ease that transition. Robert Shippee recommends it in this month’s cover
story and hobby legend Q. David Bowers has put it well in his Coin
World column “The Joys of Collecting,” writing in the past, “If
you have even a modest numismatic library — say a couple dozen books —
you already have an advantage, for 90 percent of the buyers in the
marketplace consider only what is written on a holder and its price.”
But where does one start in building a basic library on U.S. coins
without spending a small fortune?
I chatted with my friend David Fanning of Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers LLC,
who said that the obvious start is
A Guide Book of United States Coins (the
He added three more historical books for an essential library: Q.
History of United States Coinage: As Illustrated by the Garrett
Collection, Walter Breen’s
Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial
Coins and Don Taxay’s
The U.S. Mint and Coinage: An Illustrated History
from 1776 to the Present. Examples of each of these are
available for less than $100 each with some searching.
Fanning expanded the list to include Bowers’
Silver Dollars and Trade Dollars of the United
States: A Complete Encyclopedia, his
United States Gold Coins: An Illustrated
History; and the
Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early
He also recommended
The Early Coins of America, first
published in 1875 by Sylvester S. Crosby, and finally, R.W. Julian’s
Medals of the United States Mint.
For the 10th addition to a basic library, Fanning suggested
periodicals including the American Numismatic Association’s monthly
Magazines, including Coin World, provide both research
articles and a flavor of what numismatics looks like at any given
moment. Over time they provide documentation of a hobby that is always
dynamic and ever-changing.