Seventy years ago this month, the first edition of Whitman Publishing’s Guide Book of United States Coins (popularly known as the Red Book) went to press. The cover date was 1947, which means 2017 is the official 70th anniversary of the longest-running annual retail coin-price guide.
As the Red Book’s septecennial approaches, Mark Sherman of Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) is posting a multi-part blog series on the subject. “With nearly three generations of history behind [the Red Book],” writes Sherman, “it provides at this point, one of our best vehicles to study the long-term price history of the U.S. coin market.”
With that in mind, the author is embarking on an ambitious project: to use past issues of the Red Book to track the price performance of 70 different U.S. coins over the book’s lifetime. After selecting “70 representative U.S. coins from across a wide spectrum of the hobby,” Sherman is following them “at 10-year intervals from the first edition in 1947 to the present 2017 edition. This provide[s] eight data points, and an excellent look at what has happened to coin values since the end of the Second World War.”
In the process, Sherman will have to account for changes in grading systems over the years, as well as for inflation. Due to the volume of data, he writes, the coins will be grouped into sections rather than presented all at once: “Circulated Early Type (1793-1807), Key Date Coins, 19th Century type coins, Rare Date Gold, Silver Dollars, Gold Type and Colonials/Commems.”
To read part 1 of the series, head over to the webpage on the PCGS website.