Miscellaneous Topics

19. Numismatic Publications

More than 200 books on various numismatic subjects are available from numismatic professionals and general booksellers. Many others are no longer in print but may be available in libraries, used book stores and other locations. A coin book bibliography is available at the Numismatic Bibliomania Society.

A number of periodicals are also published weekly or monthly. Some of them are listed below.

Book list originally compiled by John Muchow from the suggestions of rec.collecting.coins participants; updated October 2009 by Chuck D'Ambra. 

Grading Guides

American Numismatic Association. Official A.N.A. Grading Standards for United States Coins, 6th ed., Whitman Publishing, 2005.

Q. David Bowers. Grading Coins by Photographs. Whitman Publishing, 2008.

John W. Dannreuther. The Official Guide to Coin Grading and Counterfeit Detection (2nd ed.), House of Collectibles, 2004.

Price Guides

The Standard Catalog of World Coins by Chester L. Krause and Clifford Mishler. Five volumes, each covering a different century from 1601 to present. Each identifies and lists prices for coins from around the world.

"The Red Book" (officially titled A Guide Book of United States Coins), which is published annually, is a commonly used retail price guide with a wealth of other useful information.

More frequently published retail prices for U.S. coins are available in Coin Values (included with subscriptions to Coin World), Coin Prices and Coin Age, which may be found at many newsstands, supermarkets, etc.

The principal price guide in dealer to dealer transactions is the Coin Dealer Newsletter, popularly known as "the Greysheet." CDN also publishes the Bluesheet, which lists sight unseen prices for certified coins, and the Greensheet, which covers paper money. Single issues and subscriptions may be purchased on the CDN web site.

A Handbook of United States Coins, commonly known as "the Blue Book," is another guide dealers sometimes consult when buying U.S. coins from the public.

Numismatic News, which is available at many magazine and coin shops, publishes prices for all 3 levels (dealer buy, bid and retail).

General Numismatic

The Coin Collector's Survival Manual, by Scott A. Travers.

The Expert's Guide to Collecting & Investing in Rare Coins, by Q. David Bowers

Helpful Hints for Enjoying Coin Collecting, by Bill Fivaz

Numismatic Art in America, by Cornelius Vermeule.

Coin Clinic - 1,001 Frequently Asked Questions, by Alan Herbert.

Money of the World: Coins that Made History, Ira and Larry Goldberg, Editors.

General U.S.

Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins, by Walter Breen.

100 Greatest U.S. Coins, by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth.

A Guide Book of United States Type Coins (2nd ed.), by Q. David Bowers (among many great books in Whitman Publishing's Official Red Book series).

United States Coinage - A Study by Type, by Ron Guth and Jeff Garrett.

Renaissance of American Coinage 1905-1908, by Roger W. Burdette (3 volume set)

Early U.S.

Walter Breen's Encyclopedia of United States Half Cents 1793-1857, by Walter Breen.

Walter Breen's Encyclopedia of Early United States Cents 1793-1814, by Walter Breen.

Early United States Dimes 1796 - 1837, by Davis, Logan, Lovejoy, McCloskey, and Subjack.

The Early Quarter Dollars of the United States, 1796-1838, by A.W. Browning, completely updated by Walter Breen, c.1992.

Early Half Dollar Die Varieties 1794-1836 4th ed., by Donald L. Parsley (based on original work of Al Overton).

Bust Half Fever, 1807-1836, by Edgar Souders.

The United States Early Silver Dollars 1794-1803, by Jules Reiver.

Specialized U.S.

The Complete Guide to Mercury Dimes, (2nd ed.) by David W. Lange (as well as other titles in the "Complete Guide" series)

Collecting and Investing Strategies for Walking Liberty Half Dollars, by Jeff Ambio (as well as other titles in the "Collecting and Investing Strategies" series)

A Buyer's Guide to Silver Dollars and Trade Dollars of the United States (3rd ed.), by Q. David Bowers.

Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins 1795-1933 (2nd ed.), by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth

The Authoritative Reference on Commemorative Coins 1892-1954, by Kevin Flynn (as well as other titles in the "Authoritative Reference" series).

Cherrypickers' Guide to Rare Die Varieties of United States Coins, by Bill Fivaz and J.T. Stanton (2 volume set).

World's Greatest Mint Errors, by Mike Byers.

United States Pattern Coins (10th ed.), by J. Hewitt Judd, edited by Q. David Bowers


A Catalog of Modern World Coins 1850-1964 (14th ed.), by R.S. Yeoman

Coins of England and The United Kingdom (Standard Catalogue of British Coins), by H.A. and P.J. Seaby

Canadian Coins, published annually by Charlton Press.

Standard Catalog of German Coins, compiled by N. Douglas Nicol.

European Crowns and Thalers (various vols), by Davenport.

Coins of the World 1750-1850, by Craig.

Monnaies Francaises, by Gadoury.


A Handbook of Ancient Coin Collecting, by Zander H. Klawans.

Ancient Coin Collecting, Volumes 1-6, by Wayne Sayles.

Roman Coins and Their Values, by David Sears.

Coins of the Bible, by Arthur L. Friedberg


The Celator (ancients), P.O. Box 123, Lodi, WI 53555

Coin World, P.O. Box 4315, Sidney, OH 45365. 800-253-4555.

Numismatic News, Circulation Dept., 700 E. State St., Iola, WI, 54990. 800-258-0929.

World Coin News, published bi-weekly by Krause Publications, 800-258-0929.

Coins Magazine, published monthly by Krause Publications, 800-258-0929.

Coin Prices, published bi-monthly by Krause Publications, 800-258-0929.

Bank Note Reporter, published monthly by Krause Publications, 800-258-0929.

The Numismatist, published monthly by the American Numismatic Association. A subscription is included in most membership categories.

COINage, 4880 Market St. Ventura, CA 93003. Phone: 805-644-3875

Canadian Coin News (CCN), 103 Lakeshore Rd. Suite 202, St. Catherines, ON L2N 2T6 Canada

Coin News, Published monthly by Token Publishing Limited, 105 High Street, Honiton, Devon, UK, EX14 8PE.

20. What are proof coins? What's the difference between the various proof sets offered in recent years by the U.S. mint?

Proof coins are specially manufactured for sale at a premium to collectors and sometimes for exhibition or for presentation as a gift or award. Proofs are generally distinguishable from ordinary coins by their mirrorlike fields (i.e. backgrounds), frosty devices (the major design elements) and extra sharp details. Recent technological advances have made it possible to strike coins with extraordinary cameo contrasts.

To obtain these qualities, each proof coin die is polished to produce an extremely smooth surface and used for a limited number of coins. Planchets are hand fed to the coin press, where they are struck at a higher than ordinary pressure, often multiple times. Struck coins are removed by hand with gloves or tongs. Modern proof coins are usually packaged in some type of clear plastic holder or case to protect them from handling, moisture, etc.

For many years the U.S. Mint has sold annual sets of proof coins. These "regular" proof sets usually contain one proof coin of each denomination minted. In 1983, 1984 and 1986-97, Prestige Sets were also sold. Prestige Sets include all the coins in the regular set, plus one or two commemorative coins issued the same year.

Since 1992, the Mint has also offered Silver Proof Sets, which include 90% silver versions of the proof dime, quarter(s) and half dollar. From 1992 through 1998, the Mint also offered a Premier Silver Proof Set. The two types of silver proof sets contain the same coins, with the premier set housing them in fancier packaging.

With the onset of the first circulating commemorative quarters program in 1999, regular and silver proof sets began including each quarter issued during the year. A separate quarters only proof set has also been offered each year since 1999, and a silver quarters proof set has been offered each year since 2004.

Beginning in 2007, a dollar coin honoring each of the deceased former Presidents of the United States is being issued at the rate of four per year. Since then, all four Presidential dollars have been included in regular and silver U.S. proof sets, as well as in a separate Presidential Dollars proof set.

21. What are slabs?

A certified coin, or slab, is a coin that has been authenticated, graded and encased in a sonically sealed, hard plastic holder by a professional certification service. The holder affords protection from subsequent wear or damage but is not airtight and therefore will not prevent toning. Because any tampering with the holder will be obvious, it also prevents replacing the certified coin with something else.

Counterfeit and altered coins slabbed by major certification services are not unknown but are uncommon. The authenticity of a coin may be guaranteed by the company that slabbed it. Therefore, a coin slabbed by a major certification service offers some protection, especially when fakes are known to exist and the prospective buyer is not able to reliably determine its authenticity.

You can lookup slab certificate numbers online at the web sites of the major grading services.  In some cases high resolution photos are part of the data package.  This allows you to compare a slab (in hand or advertised) with the grading service photos. Case, label or coin differences may signal fraud or other problems. 

Some certification services will not slab coins that have been altered, whizzed, cleaned (dipping is often acceptable), artificially toned or otherwise damaged. Others slab the coin and identify the problem on the label.

Grades are opinions. The same coin may receive different grades if submitted to different services or even if "cracked out" and resubmitted to the same service. Furthermore, grading standards for some uncirculated coins have changed since slabs were first produced (1986), so a coin in an early slab may may receive a different grade if resubmitted now. The grade indicated on a slab represents the opinions of no more than a few persons who examined the coin at the time it was submitted, and not the final word on the subject. As a result, slabbed coins given identical grades may have different market values. Whenever possible, buy the coin, not the holder.

Companies that slab coins include (in alphabetical order)

6555 S. Kenton St. Suite 303
Englewood, CO 80112
P.O. Box 276000
Tampa, FL 33688
877-221-4424 or 813-963-2401

International Coin Certification Service Inc. (ICCS)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
P.O. Box 4776
Sarasota, FL 34230
800-NGC-COIN or 941-360-3990
P.O. Box 9458
Newport Beach, CA 92658
800-447-8848 or 949-833-0600
P.O. Box 8129 - Eastgate Center
Chattanooga, TN 37411

Prices range from $7.50 to $175.00 per coin, depending on the service and turnaround time, plus shipping costs in both directions.

The skills and equipment needed to encapsulate coins in slab-like holders can be acquired more easily than the expertise needed to accurately authenticate and grade coins. Holders from the services listed above are not the only types that appear in the marketplace. However, slabs from some "services" may not be regarded by experienced numismatists as legitimate and may not even be backed by a guarantee of the coin's authenticity. Learning about the service's reputation and soliciting other opinions about a coin's condition may save you from paying considerably more than its true market value.

22. How can coins be removed from slabs?

Coins can be removed from NGC, ANACS, PCI etc. holders without great difficulty. An even simpler technique works for PCGS holders. Wear safety glasses or goggles when performing either method!

General Method

Tools required: vise, hammer, chisel; safety glasses or goggles 
Method: Secure the slab in the vise along either long side. The vise should overlap only enough plastic to ensure that the holder is secured (1/4 inch or so). Tighten as necessary to avoid slab movement while you're using the hammer and chisel. Position the chisel in the seam between the two pieces of plastic near the upright corner further from the coin. Carefully tap the chisel with the hammer until the plastic pieces separate. Ideally, the chisel will wedge between the two pieces and can be used to pry them completely apart. Carefully remove the coin from the separated/fragmented plastic.


Tools required: lineman's pliers or wire cutters; safety glasses or goggles 
Method: Position the pliers along either long side of the slab at the middle of the coin such that the cutting edges are outside the edge of the coin. Squeeze forcefully. The plastic will crack across the entire width of the holder. Carefully separate the plastic pieces and remove the coin.

23. What metals have been used to make coins?

Tony Clayton provides extensive information on this subject.

24. What's the best way to send coins to someone?

Here are some tips for packaging, addressing and shipping coins.  Shipping details are for packages mailed in the United States.


Coins should be packaged securely for shipping. Flattening any staples with a pair of pliers will reduce the chance of damage to adjacent items. Safe-T-Mailers, which are sold at some coin shops, are useful for a small number of flips, 2x2s, similar holders or slabs. Coins in these holders can also be sandwiched between pieces of corrugated cardboard (make sure they cannot slide out). "Irregularly shaped" objects are generally not accepted in letter size envelopes. If your "sandwich" is not much thicker than a greeting card, a letter or legal size paper envelope may work. Otherwise, use a padded envelope or bubble mailer (if not shipping by registered mail) or box the coins.

For larger quantities of individual holders, bundle them tightly together with rubber bands. When shipping rolls of coins in plastic tubes, place a small piece of foam, cotton or bubble wrap in the end to prevent the coins from moving and seal the cap in place with a piece of tape. Place bundles of 2x2s, tubes, and multi-coin holders (e.g. proof sets) in a sturdy box. Use bubble wrap, foam, styrofoam peanuts or newspaper to completely fill extra space, ideally with some padding between the contents and every side of the box.


To reduce the chances of the package being stolen, do not use any words in the address or return address suggesting it may contain something valuable. Omit or abbreviate words like Coin and Gold. For example, use XYZ Company rather than XYZ Coin Company and AGE, Inc. rather than Antarctic Gold Emporium, Inc.


Mail, rather than a private courier such as UPS, may be preferable for shipping coins. Some couriers do not insure packages containing coins. Different types of mail service are available, and optional extras such as insurance and delivery confirmation are available.  The optimal choices depend on the weight of the package, how fast you want it delivered and the value of the contents.

For packages weighing 13 ounces or less sent to U.S. addresses, first class mail is generally sufficient. The U.S. Postal Service considers the shape, as well as the weight, when determining postage. An item more than 1/4" thick will be treated as a first class parcel. For parcels containing coins that weigh over 13 ounces, choose between parcel post and priority mail. Shipping costs and estimated delivery times can be obtained on the USPS web site.

Insurance is additional. A package insured for up to $200 does not require a signature by the recipient. "Blue label" insurance, which is available for packages valued from $200 to $5000, requires a signature for delivery. Insurance fees are also available on the USPS web site. The USPS will not accept a claim for non-delivery of an insured package until 21 days after it was sent.

Registered mail is the safest way to ship valuables and the only way to insure for more than $5000. A registered package must be signed for by every postal employee who handles it, as well as the recipient. Postal regulations prohibit bubble mailers and all but paper tape (which does not include masking tape) for registered shipments.

Nothing is gained by using certified mail for coins or other valuables, and return receipts are only useful for proving that the addressee received the package. If the package is sent by registered mail or is insured for more than $200, it must be signed for on receipt anyway.

25. Clubs and other collector organizations

Information about more than 400 ANA member coin clubs in the United States and other countries is maintained on the ANA web site.