The Revised “Yellow Book” is an Essential Guide for Collectors

The revised and updated edition of Whitman Guide to Coin Collecting includes the basics from previous editions along with pertinent new information for both newcomers and experienced numismatists. In this review, we’ll cover in depth the content for new hobbyists, but we also want to address the numismatic experts early in this critique.

Too often coin dealers and numismatic writers, like me, overlook books that target newcomers to the hobby. What are we to learn, anyway, that we don’t already know? I’m writing this on September 25, 2017, and tonight I am slated to speak at the Ames, Iowa, Coin Club. Coincidentally, I just finished reading Kenneth Bressett’s Whitman Guide to Coin Collecting— a terrific bargain at $12.95 — and will use some of his basic information from the chapter on grading in my talk.

In other words, experienced collectors and numismatists can utilize this work to explain complex topics such as varieties and common coin errors in a language that beginning and intermediate collectors — as might be found in coin clubs — can understand.

If you give such presentations, buy this book. I can think of no better guide to introduce readers into the world of coins, and Bressett, the author of some 20-plus books, not only provides a wealth of facts in discussing basic collecting, replete with high-resolution photos on glossy paper (rare in book publishing), but also inserts history and numismatic tidbits throughout these chapters:

  • Coin Collecting as a Hobby
  • Coins Are Where You Find Them
  • Learning About Your Coins
  • How to Get Started
  • Caring for Your Collection
  • Grading Techniques and Standards
  • Coin Prices and Values
  • Catalog of Significant Coin Values
  • Commemorative, Bullion, and Special Coins
  • Oddities, Counterfeits, and Other Coins

The back-of-the-book content is equally instructive, featuring a gallery of actual coin sizes and a glossary of coin terms.

The writing throughout the book is crisp and conversational with a loving tone that begins with Bressett’s dedication to his wife and “second great devotion,” i.e. collecting. That tone is perfect in introducing potentially complex topics, such as grading standards, because it inspires readers to keep learning via more specialized works.

In the interest of disclosure, I know that Whitman operates Coin Update and perhaps has a stake in a positive review, which I am posting now. I am often wary about updated books, and this one has been a best-seller for more than 20 years. But an alluring aspect of this new edition is a snappy design with pull quotes and lots of photos to illustrate the topic for more-visual readers. As experienced collectors know, numismatic photography is a key component of the hobby, and the photos here excel both in detail and cutline. This is primarily why I decided to delve into this book, looking for problems or missing information.

I found none.

What I did find was a well-illustrated, designed, and fact-filled book.

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