The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 11, Number 29, July 20, 2008, Article 9


Guide Book of U.S. Tokens & Medals This week I received a copy of Katherine Jaeger's new book from Whitman Publishing, A Guide Book of United States Tokens and Medals. I published my reactions earlier to a set of sample pages forwarded by Whitman. Now that I have the complete book in hand I thought I'd add to my observations.

As expected, this is an extremely useful book, both for the general public and more advanced numismatists. The color photos, taken mostly from the American Numismatic Society collection, are wonderful and a major feature of the book. Where else can you page through such a vast array of interesting numismatic items?

I believe this book will find its niche among the general collecting public - it makes a great companion to the standard Guide Book of United States Coins. Nearly every major type of token or medal a collector might come across (in the U.S. anyway) is represented here, from dirt common to ultra rare.

In the common category would of course be things like sales tax tokens, subway, bus and parking tokens, Mardi Gras doubloons, ration tokens, arcade tokens, pop-out come coins and the like.

In the latter category, some of my favorites are abolition pieces, encased postage stamps, historical commemoratives of 1858-1861 (a chapter contributed by Dave Bowers), and art medals (including the Society of Medalists and the Circle of Friends of the Medallion).

If I were to suggest an enhancement for future editions, it would be some sort of finding guide to help direct readers to the particular chapter where an item in question might be found. This is a tall order for such a vast field, yet experienced collectors can tell in an instant what category most such items fall under. Clues of size, shape, style, design and wording help differentiate these pieces; if numismatists can come up with attribution guide for such similar pieces as bust halves or early large cents, surely some clever person can codify a similar algorithm for tokens and medals.

I recommend the book for collectors at every stage in the hobby from beginner to advanced - everyone should find some chapters of interest and many will find one day that some of the sections (and value guides) come in quite handy.

John and Nancy Wilson submitted their review as well, which just arrived over the transom here at E-Sylum world headquarters. -Editor
The Official Red Book, A Guide Book of United States Tokens and Medals by Katherine Jaeger is a wonderfully done introductory reference that should be on the shelf of every numismatist, as well as non numismatist. With a Foreword by Numismatic Icon Q. David Bowers, and featuring images from the American Numismatic Society Collection this book consolidates dozens of references on the subject, down to 300 pages in an easy to read format. The three page bibliography will help you to find more in depth books on the subjects that you have an interest in.

This soft covered book is priced at $19.95, and can be purchased at or from a numismatic literature dealer or major book store.

This excellent reference gives a nice overview of metals and tokens with useful information for the expert as well as beginner. It covers from the Colonial Period right up to elongated coins of today. The photos of the tokens and medals are done in vivid color. Since it is a pricing guide it will give you a general ideal of the worth of a similar item you may have in your collection.

We found in Part II, Chapter 13 a very informative story on the Coin Medals of the Franklin Mint. When you think about it, the Franklin Mint at one time produced products for customers around the world who were not only numismatists but non numismatists. The history of this fascinating company is consolidated into eight pages, which include examples of their work. This chapter alone will give the non-collector who owns products from this mint information that can be obtained no other place. Because of legal concerns the book does not cover U. S. military medals, orders, and decorations. Also excluded are orders and decorations of clubs, fraternal societies, civic organizations, slave tags, clothing buttons, badges, dog tags, bracelet charms, watch fobs, sports medals (all kinds), religious medals, communion tokens and Judaic exonumia.

Tokens and Medals are an important part of the American History and this book will help immensely to generate many new collectors into collecting them. We enjoyed reading it and it now has a place in our numismatic library. Congratulations Ms Jaeger for you have done a super job in authoring this fine reference.

Wayne Homren, Editor

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