US Coins

Buy a book for your coins

Author Brad Karoleff, standing in front of part of his extensive numismatic library, says thirsting for knowledge is a never-ending process.

Image courtesy of Brad Karoleff.

When asked about the evolution of a collector into a numismatist, I often use the following definition: the first year that you spend more money on your library than you do on your numismatic purchases is when you become a numismatist.

I remember early in my collecting career that I thought I was in possession of an adequate numismatic library. I had obtained a “Red Book” (A Guide Book of United States Coins), a “Blue Book” (Handbook of United States Coins), A Guide to the Grading of United States Coins and the Photograde grading guide, and even a copy of Bert Harshe’s How to Detect Altered & Counterfeit Coins and Paper Money. I had the ability to grade any U.S. coin and look up the wholesale and retail pricing for it as well as knowing that it was authentic. What more could I ask for? Now, hundreds of books and catalogs later, I am still searching for more education.

Which brings up the eternal question: What is more valuable to me, the coins or the books?

Most of the coins reside in a safe deposit box for security, while the books are stored at home on shelves, in an old built-in china closet (my house was built in 1899) and in stacks on the floor.

They are within easy reach. The coins require a trip across town.

What is a poor collector to do? Easy — buy more books!

Everyone knows about all the numismatic societies that cater to the collectors of coins from specific series.

Not everyone knows about the Numismatic Bibliomania Society for collectors of numismatic literature. I strongly recommend that everyone join the society to share in our passion for printed numismatic literature even as digital publishing expands.

You can get membership information at the NBS website,, where you can sign up to begin receiving your weekly fix of numismatic literature information via email.

The free E-Sylum weekly newsletter supplements the quarterly printed journal, The Asylum.

E-Sylum is delivered to your inbox every Sunday evening containing immeasurable amounts of information and delight to its subscribers. The opening table of contents alerts readers to what is in the newsletter. Submissions from readers include the latest news on books, auctions, numismatic trivia and requests for information. I guarantee satisfaction with your subscription, or I’ll personally refund your subscription fee!

So, begin building your numismatic library. You will find more enjoyment from your coin purchases. You may even find yourself reading something outside our numismatic circle to learn more about the history of your coins.

Brad Karoleff is a vice president of the John Reich Collectors Society and editor of the club’s journal. He can be reached via email at

Community Comments