Skip to main content

Community Voice Responses (July 4, 2017)

From the June 9 Numismatic News E-Newsletter:


Do you find annual coin price guide books useful?

Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor Dave Harper.

Price guides are very helpful. No way I could keep that much information in my head.

Joel Gossage
Temple, Texas

Annual books? No. The market changes much too fast for them to be helpful to an active collector. Weekly is better,but too expensive for me to purchase so I go with the monthly guide in NN. Thanks for asking.

Wayne Helmuth
Temecula, Calif.

These books are very helpful in providing general information about coins. The data regarding the history, production, varieties and color pictures is great. The prices do not remain accurate very long. They are good at providing an estimate. One can see how prices fluctuate year to year. Coin prices vary greatly depending on the venue. National auctions and major dealers often charge a higher price than local brick-and-mortar stores. Small shows frequently have their products marked at up to 50 percent off. The 100 percent price may prove hard to justify with annual price guides. For more accurate prices, the monthly updates in Numismatic News or on various websites are probably the most useful. The reality remains that superb coins with sharp strikes, gleaming luster and/or attractive colorful toning will always carry a greater premium than what the book says. Likewise, harshly cleaned, damaged, overly dipped or ugly coins will be hard-pressed to command top dollar no matter what the book suggests.

Timothy Scharr
Aviston, Ill.

Yes, we get one and we use it often. However, we skip a year and just get them every other year. We not only use it as a guide, but we also enjoy reading the history and other information as well.

Hazel Holmes
Crestview, Fla.

With Coin Market appearing regularly in Numismatic News, I have all the coin prices I need delivered to my mailbox. I buy the Mega Redbook for information beyond what appears in the price columns.

Bruce R. Frohman
Modesto, Calif.

Yes and no, meaning the guide books are useful in determining rarity by virtue of their relative price to other coins in the same series.

No in terms of actual price, or value. For that one needs to insure the coin is properly graded and what other factors might detract, and/or add value, i.e., strike, toning, eye appeal, etc.

Lorne LaVertu
Address withheld

Yes for research. No for pricing as they are always outdated.

Max Stucky
Colorado Springs, Colo.

No. Although the 2016, which I have no regrets buying, was more than worth it (thank you, Dave), what more could I get out of the next year? Would new historical essays be included as I am a history buff? Otherwise, the main objective of the Red Book was coin prices, but NN and PCGS online are more current and offer more grades.

However, this may be the point in time to make a new edition with an appropriate (some may deem radical) update. Specifically, what are slabbed sets of recently minted gem quality sets worth with a mint director’s signature?

I just returned from the Long Beach Expo and noted how different things were from the last time I went to a coin show five years ago. There was a plethora of gem slab coins including sets. Yet, there were still many booths that sold loose coins for young collectors to go through and albums to peruse. In other words, the show had the best of both worlds.

I have been a coin collector since I started with a newspaper route 64 years ago and sympathize with those who rue, “What has happened to the hobby?” But, my take on this is that a new phase of collectors and interest has come into the hobby with no detriment to it. Perhaps these new collectors may look at the idea of starting album and type sets? If so, look for uncirculated coins to rise in price. Will this unleash a fall in the price of circulated coins? That could be beneficial to those who do not demand perfection.

The world around us is changing dramatically. Numismatists need to face the changes in their world. The 2018 U.S. Coin Digest could pave the way.

Dennis Focht
Address withheld

Depends on what price guide. I say “yes” to foreign listings such as those that come from the yearly updates from Krause’s yearly editions, and I have most of them going back to the first in 1972. But when it comes to U.S. issues, I desire to get my monthly update.

Johnny Trigg
Mary Esther, Fla.

The guides are useful to the extent that they provide details of the coins. Otherwise the prices given are outdated as compared to current prices.

Mort Fine
New Jersey

Yes, in some ways they are good, but they need more depth into coins and coin prices on the retail market.

William Johnston
Address withheld

They help on some of the common-date coins, but on the rarer coins they can be way off. And they are for ungraded coins, so the certified coins are more expensive and a lot of people don’t realize that.

Roger Anderson
Address withheld

I don’t find the price guide useful in reference to coin prices, but it/they are very useful with the other information provided about coins such as mintage, design history, grading and other information. Even though the prices are not realistic, they still indicate which coins are valuable in relation to others within the various series.

Larry Hamm
Address withheld

Yes and no. I use books like Red Book to look up information not readily available in any other book. I also use it to scan prices – nor per se, but to fine very quickly higher-priced coins – I know they’re worth more. The prices in those books are useless since they were gathered a few months before publication and are way out of date by the time you get the book. CDN and the online pricing guides are a better indication of current prices. Even then I know I’m going to pay more for a really nice coin.

Ray Flanigan
Address withheld

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

More Collecting Resources

• Are you a U.S. coin collector? Check out the 2018 U.S. Coin Digest for the most recent coin prices.

• Subscribe to our monthly Coins magazine - a great resource for any collector!