In March 2020 Whitman Publishing will release 100 Greatest Modern World Coins by numismatists Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker. Here, Donald Scarinci, medallic art historian and Coin of the Year judge, shares his thoughts on modern world coinage and the new book.
When you pick up a book about “modern” coins, you might expect to see pictures of everyday pocket change. To numismatists, the modern period in coins generally does not include the ones in your pocket, nor does it include the commercially made commemorative and “collector” coins and bullion sold today. Rather, the term modern describes the period of numismatic history that starts from the widespread use of the Janvier reducing machine in the mid- to late-1800s and continues to about the dawn of the space age or the era of computers.
Those 100 or so years were a time of great transition in just about every aspect of life. In numismatics, they were a bridge between the classic designs of the great 18th and 19th century engravers, like Pierre-Simon-Benjamin Duvivier and William Wyon, and the contemporary masterpieces of sculptors such as Herbert Wähner and Donald N. Everhart Jr.
Assembling Your Own Great Coin Collection
Morgan and Walker’s 100 Greatest Modern World Coins debunks the notion that coins of the modern era are too common to warrant much of a premium for collecting purposes. However, the emphasis on rarity in this latest “100 Greatest” book should not deter collectors who are interested in the coins of this important period.
Coins of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were manufactured in the millions. Accordingly, they are often available quite inexpensively. The challenge with collecting modern coins is not so much the scarcity of the coins, but the scarcity of the condition.
The best uncertified modern coins often sell for just a slight premium over their less-pristine siblings. If you can grade properly and develop an interesting collecting plan, your efforts will be rewarded economically as well as by the knowledge you gain from the collecting experience.
Authors Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker have created a wonderful study of modern world coinage. They cover the period of 1900 to date (extending the “modern” era to include in their rankings a half-dozen significant and well-deserving coins from more recent decades), setting each coin in context and bringing each to life. 100 Greatest Modern World Coins will inspire, inform, and entertain you. Enjoy the journey and let it spark ideas for building your own significant collection.
The 168-page coffee-table hardcover book will be available from retailers nationwide and online including at Whitman.com.
Donald Scarinci is the senior partner in one of the largest law firms in New Jersey. He has collected coins since high school. Scarinci is considered an international authority in the field of contemporary coins and medals, having assembled one of the largest privately held collections of modern and contemporary art medals in the United States. He is a life member of the American Numismatic Association and a fellow of the American Numismatic Society. He is also the ranking member (serving since 2005) of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. He has written four books, including Coin of the Year, published in English and Chinese by Krause Publications, where he continues to lend his expertise as a judge and one of the 10 prime Coin of the Year nominators.
Editor’s Note: Published here is an excerpt of Scarinci’s commentary. Go here for the full text.
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