Jeffrey P. LaPlante submitted this brief review of the 2010 Charlton Coin Guide together with his recommendations for alternative sources for information on Canadian coins.
The 2010 Charlton Coin Guide 49th Edition is Red and its claim to fame is as a dealer buying guide. I would like you to remember this fact when you are in a coin shop, book store, or online. The book attempts to cover Canada, Newfoundland and Maritime coinage, Canadian Medals, Tokens and Paper Money, United States and World Gold Coinage, all in 176 pages.
The book begins with a short one page narrative on buying and selling, coin handling, paper money handling, and mintmarks. This is followed by the coins of Canada but there is not one explanation of anything pertaining to a Canadian coin. Each page has a black and white line drawing of a coin followed by one buying price, that's it. It is as if there is only one coin condition.
There are exactly 9 pages on US issues and three pages on world gold coins. When you see the book's red color it is a warning to stop. Please remember what you read in this article. Do not waste your time on this book if you are a collector. If you are a dealer then ditto, there are far better means by which you may determine Canadian coin pricing. It is an insult to the trees which were sacrificed in its printing and the title is deceptive. But having brought up the subject of coin guides I would be remiss if I didn't at least try and explain where you will find the right information on Canadian issues.
First on the list of reputable Canadian coin guides is A Charlton Standard Catalogue, Canadian Coins Volume One, Numismatic Issues 2010, 64th Edition. What a title, good grief. This volume might well be worth the money you will have to shell out for it, but buyers beware. It has been broken up into two volumes; the first is blue and contains Numismatic Issues and the second is red (again) and contains Collector issues only.
We should all know by now the Canadian Mint is famous for minting anything they can think of in silver and gold. If it is remotely Canadian and is a noun they will stamp it, package it, and sell it. Note: Buyers beware the Canada mint is the plastics industry of coins. These guys have put Henry Ford and the assembly line to shame, the other guys famous for this are down under in a place called Perth.
It seems the Charlton press is following suit with this dual publication. The blue book in all fairness does have some very good line drawings, stencils, and some photographs. The information is well presented at times; a case in point is how they break up explanations according to design changes or some would say mistakes within a category. In this they have mirrored the United States red book. I guess you should not mess with success. In some instances Charlton does a better job than the U.S. standard guide and it delivers more in the amount of grades represented. In this Charlton is doing better but the entire price guide genre needs to do more.
This will be a serious issue going forward and there will come a time when these coin guides are going to have to go by the wayside. That is to say if all coin books are to be price guides and price guides alone then failure is assured.
The coin slabbing and third party grading system is going to kill off standard pricing. PCGS just announced an enhanced grading structure which will utilize 700 points instead of the normal 70 and they will offer plus grades within a hundredth point spread line. In other words if your coin grades out at 655 it will receive an MS65 + , there will not be a MS65 minus and this writer wonders what will happen to a regular MS65, is it a MS65 or an MS65 minus? Heavens to Murgatroyd. Also, the CDN newsletter and the modern computer pricing system allows for Wall Street like price swings
Getting back to the fifty dollars of timber you will have to buy if you really want accurate pricing, you should probably purchase a companion book by Charest called Canadian Coins and their Varieties. This volume will provide you with accurate pricing, but it lacks a lot of pertinent information. The prices in Numismatic Issues are a fantasy but it contains the historical information required to make an educated purchase. I bought at least two or three of every standard Canadian issue in the past three months and the price guide is off by as much as 50% to the upside. This is bad. Folks will buy this book and think they have a valuable coin and then try and sell it only to be greeted by the cold harsh facts.
The Charest book is more realistic for prices. But the Charest book is lacking in some basic explanations. It seems to this coin collector that if you want to buy a Canadian coin and really want to be educated you have to buy both the Charest Book and the Charlton book. Then armed with ten pounds of paper you might have some idea of what you are doing.
The alternative is to download the Charest volume to your computer hard drive. But when you do download this volume it has some complicated procedures meant to protect the company. This weird download manager prevents more than one download and also prevents one from printing out the 500 plus pages. The Charest book does have many color photographs and does include many of the varieties one might expect to encounter.
I have to ask what the editors at Charlton are thinking or smoking up there in Toronto. According to them the amount of material is too large for one volume, hence the two volume approach. I have two things to say about this.
One is to just dump the Collector issues and call them commemoratives which is what they are. Put them in an appendix as a line item in the back of the volume.
Second, the book is half the size it ought to be anyway. The Blue book is only 7 x 9 inches, so increase the size of the pages. It does not take a math major to understand layout and volume. So my answer is change the size from 7 x 9 to 8.5 by 11 and you will have one book instead of two and also save your customers ten bucks.
In conclusion (and at the risk of repeating myself when distressed), if you as the collector are to be well educated and informed as a consumer of Canadian issues, then it would be in your best interest to plunk down the cash for both of these volumes. It is unfortunate, but there you have it. Exit stage left Snagglepuss.
Charest Books can be found at:
To visit the Charleton Press web site, see:
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