By Antoinette (Toni) Rahn
Spring is an exciting time of year. If you live in an area of the world where winter is among the seasons you encounter, you know maybe better than most just how pleasant it is to see signs of spring: migratory birds returning to feeders, flowers rising from the earth, daylight extending into the evening hours, and the arrival of the new edition of U.S. Coin Digest.
Birds, flowers, and coins make a pretty stellar trio, wouldn’t you agree? In our offices, the new edition of U.S. Coin Digest is the annual leadoff batter, if you’ll excuse the baseball analogy (also a rite of spring for many people), of our book-publishing schedule.
To get a glimpse “behind the curtain” of U.S. Coin Digest and the market it represents, I sat down with my esteemed colleague Dave Harper, editor of Numismatic News and World Coins News, and one half of the dynamic duo responsible for bringing us U.S. Coin Digest each year.
Antoinette Rahn: Thinking back to the first edition of U.S. Coin Digest, what were your thoughts? What struck you most about the book?
Dave Harper: I clearly remember putting it together the first time. One thing that impressed me most, and still does today, is we were able to condense so much information into a useful and affordable guide.
AR: What are some of the most impactful and interesting changes to take place in the market that is represented in the 2019 edition of U.S Coin Digest?
DH: Every modern collector has to be aware of the bullion market’s effects on whatever coins they choose to collect. Some years the changes are positive, and sometimes they aren’t. It’s important to know what’s changed, and most people aren’t keeping track of the changing prices daily. This book provides access to those changes.
Plus, even something you think you may know about may have changed, or you’ll discover something you may not know. For example, the Kennedy half dollars. Many people may not know there is a gold Kennedy half dollar, but we added that information to the book in 2017. From time to time, it’s important to take a closer look, no matter how long you've been collecting. The more you learn, the more you realize how much you don't know.
AR: What elements of this book set it apart from other similar references?
DH: One of the unique characteristics in particular about the book is the inclusion of KM numbers. The KM numbers are a system of inventorying coins; it’s shorthand used for making concise price lists. KM stands for Chet Krause and Cliff Mishler, the inventors of the numbering system. With the KM number, all you need to do in inventorying is to list a country, date, denomination and the KM number, and it saves from having to include long descriptions. Originally, it was created for the Standard Catalog of World Coins series and then expanded to include U.S. coins.
AR: How would you finish this sentence: The coin market today is....
DH: Specializing. Coin collecting when I was a kid was about everyone jumping into everything to see what they could get. Now, availability is limited, and people are more focused on what most interests them and what they can afford.
AR: With more than five decades of experience as a collector and 40 years as a member of the Krause Publications Numismatics editorial team, what, if anything, surprises you about the coin market and coin collecting in general?
DH: The fact that there is no limit to how high prices can go. As I said the other day when we were talking about the finest of the five known 1913 Liberty Head nickels coming to auction in August, I remember back to 1967 when I read about a 1913 Liberty Head nickel selling at auction for $46,000, which was way more than I brought in with my paper route efforts at the time. Now, when it comes to auction, it’s expected to sell for $4 to $6 million.
Another example is the 1964 dimes I put away back then. Today, they’re worth twelve times their face value. I’d say I might have made more on those types of accidents (in collecting) than I have on intentional efforts.
AR: Can you identify three characteristics of U.S. Coin Digest that make it valuable for collectors of U.S. coins, regardless of experience and area of interest?
DH: You’ll find the common denominators are these questions: What is it (identity of the coin)? How many are there (mintage)? What grade is it? All of those answers are in this book.
The 17th edition of U.S. Coin Digest is presently on pre-order and is expected to be available for shipment after May 10. In anticipation of its arrival, Numismatic News teamed up with the shopkeeper of our online bookstore to offer a deal of free U.S. standard shipping when you reserve your copy of 2019 U.S Coin Digest by May 12.
To order, visit our online store at www.shopnumismaster.com. Shop now and save!
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.
More Collecting Resources
• Keep up to date on prices for Canada, United States and Mexico coinage with the 2018 North American Coins & Prices guide.
• Is that coin in your hand the real deal or a clever fake? Discover the difference with U.S. Coins Close Up, a one-of-a-kind visual guide to every U.S. coin type.