The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 14, Number 29, July 17, 2011, Article 7


John and Nancy Wilson submitted this review of the latest Dave Bowers book from Whitman Publishing. Thanks! -Editor

Collecting Rare Coins For Pleasure And Profit An Insider's Guide To Today's Market, By Q. David Bowers, Foreword By Kenneth Bressett, Whitman Publishing, LLC, 2011, Reviewed By John and Nancy Wilson

Collecting Rare Coins The latest book by Q. David Bowers on Collecting Rare Coins - For Pleasure And Profit, with a Foreword by Kenneth Bressett, is filled with useful information which will help anyone to start collecting or investing in coins. The softcover reference has 138 pages and contains many well done color illustrations of coins, publications and other interesting subjects. We feel Mr. Bowers is one of the greatest numismatists who has ever lived.

The Foreword by Ken Bressett contains some important information. Quoting two things from the Foreword that we particularly liked. Quoting, "Will simply reading this text automatically make you an expert ready to avoid pitfalls, false starts, or adverse purchases? Of course not. It will put you on track, however, and point you in the right direction." The six tips by Mr. Bressett were all excellent and gave terrific information. We especially like No. 5, "Buy the best coins you can afford, but be cautious of coins that may be overpriced because of "grade rarity" or market hype." We have always bought the best condition item we could afford. Over the years, the high grade items we purchased have soared in price more than lower grade items we could have bought.

The ten Chapters that follow start out with, "Welcome to Coin Collecting." It includes, "There is no substitute for knowledge when you buy coins." Early on in our collecting, we always followed Aaron Feldman's quote - buy the book before the coin.

The Second Chapter gives you information on "Early Popularity of Rare Coins." You learn that before 1800 there was little activity in numismatics and only a few dozen people were active in the hobby. The information on some of the early collectors is fascinating reading. You will also learn who the first professional numismatist in the United States was. This chapter also covers "The Mint Cabinet" which opened at the Philadelphia Mint in 1838. "The Excitement of 1857," will explain the Act of February 21, 1857 which abolished the copper half cent and cent. Another important part in this chapter is the formation of "The American Numismatic Society (ANS)" in 1858, by teenager Augustus B. Sage. "The Market Expands" gives you information on Philadelphia dealer William K. Idler.

Another important person who is covered is Mint Director James Ross Snowden. Mr. Bowers covers nicely the importance of Mr. Snowden and his issuance of many pattern coins that are avidly sought today. "The American Civil War" lets you know how our coinage was hoarded and other coins of necessity made their appearance. These coins of necessity from the Civil War are numismatic items we avidly have collected for many years. "The American Journal Of Numismatics" was the first regularly issued coin magazine which started in 1866. "The Incredible 1880s" covers the great expansion of coin dealers and auction houses and closes out with "Coin Collecting In The 1890s." The American Numismatic Association (ANA) is also covered and was formed in 1891.

Chapter Three covers "The 20th-Century Coin Market." According to the book, as this century was entered, we find that privately issued tokens, colonial coins, and encased postage had become very popular and not many collectors collected varieties or branch mint coins from any U. S. coin series. In 1907 the High Relief gold double eagle was minted and is very interesting reading. The "Unbelievable Depression Years" gives some insight into President Roosevelt's order in 1933 for citizens to turn in their gold coins. The 1930s also saw J. K. Post issue the first penny boards, and B. Max Mehl heavily advertise his "Star Rare Coin Encyclopedia."

The "Wartime Years And Later," lead to "A Guide Book of United States Coins" in 1946 which is published by Whitman Publishing Co. "Grading By The Numbers" is every important and covers Dr. William H. Sheldon and his Early American Cents reference and grading standards. The "Exciting 1950s" saw the 1950-D low-mintage nickel make its appearance and how quickly it accelerated in price. Chet Krause's Numismatic News made its appearance in 1952. The Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) was formed in 1955.

Chapter Four covers "The Coin Market Becomes Dynamic." Coin World (Amos Press) made its appearance in 1960. The early 1960s saw teletype circuits linking dealers and the Coin Dealer Newsletter make their appearance. Several national coin clubs made their appearance in the early 1960s. It was interesting reading that the coin-investment market came to a halt around 1965. It was also at this time that the areas which did not participate in the investment boom started to move upward. "ANACS Grades Coins" brought back memories as Nancy was on the Board when it was sold by ANA to Amos Press.

"Excitement In The Late 1970s" explains how the Hunt brothers ran up the price of silver; the sale of some important collections; and how in 1979 coin investment was one of the hottest things going. "Grading Becomes More Important" saw David Hall start a grading service, PCGS, and John Albanese establish NGC. "The 1990s" cover the importance of the Internet, the market improvement for high grade coins, specialty coin clubs and their importance, grading services behavior, registry sets and much more. This chapter also covers the economic downturn starting in 2007 and how it affected the market place for coins.

Chapter Five "Grade and Its Effect on Price" lets you become a smart buyer. "The Importance Of Grading" will let you know just how important grading is when buying or selling coins.

Chapter Six "Numerical Grading 1 to 70" covers coins in AG-3 to MS-70. "Third-Party Grading Services" covers only PCGS and NGC as the market leaders with perhaps ANACS as a distant third. "Grading Extras And Frills" will let you know about services such as Collectors Acceptance Corporation.

Chapter Seven "How to Be a Smart Buyer" gives the information which will help you make wise and sound decisions when buying coins. The four steps are: finding a coin, judging eye appeal, evaluating sharpness and establishing fair market prices. By learning these four, you will have the basics needed to make sound decisions when buying or selling coins.

Chapter Eight "Starting a Fine Collection" covers many aspects of collecting, and we like and quote, "I recommend that you collect what you like, not what someone else recommends." This chapter also covers "Focus On The Optimal Collecting Grade" and will give you instructions for getting good value for the money you spend.

Chapter Nine "Great Collectors and Collections of the Past" reminisces on some of the luminaries who contributed greatly to our hobby of today.

Chapter Ten "Questions and Answers" covers questions such as: What makes a coin valuable? When is the best time to buy? From whom should I buy coins? And how long should I hold my coins? Some excellent answers are given to important questions everyone has regarding buying and selling coins.

These ten chapters cover very nicely the people, places and things of the numismatic hobby from its early days to the present. It is hard to believe that the author put so much pertinent information on the topic of numismatics in only 138 pages.

Q. David Bowers has brought his lifelong experience, expertise and enthusiasm to a reference that will help when you are buying or selling coins. Even though we have been collectors for over 40 years, this book had some very useful information that we haven't seen before. We highly recommend it to beginning as well as advanced collectors and dealers. This would also be a great gift for a relative or friend. It might possibly get them interested in the hobby. It is available for $9.95 from, Whitman Publishing, LLC, 3103 Clairmont Road, Suite B, Atlanta, GA 30329 or phone (800) 546-2995 or visit their web page at,

Don't let its small size fool you - John and Nancy are right on the mark. This book is a great introduction to the hobby of collecting coins in the U.S., and gives readers a perspective of history rarely captured so well. This kind of introduction is something I wish I could have had early on - it can make the difference between a dabbler and a true numismatist who understands the context of the hobby.

Actually, now that I think of it, I DID have such an introduction - provided by Dave himself in one of his first books, Coins and Collectors. That one is also on my list of best books for hobby newcomers. This new title brings the introduction up to date, but in a more compact package, perhaps more accessible to today's readers. -Editor


AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS: Are your books carried by Wizard Coin Supply? If not, contact us via with details.

Wayne Homren, Editor

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