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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 31, July 30, 2006, Article 10

REVIEW: LANGE'S COMPLETE GUIDE TO LINCOLN CENTS

This week I've been taking a look at David W. Lange's "The Complete
Guide to Lincoln Cents", specifically the softcovered 2005 third printing
from Zyrus Press.  Note that this is a third PRINTING, not a third
EDITION - the latest cent covered is 1995.

I checked with Dave and he writes: "Although this is the third printing
for Zyrus Press, it is actually the fifth printing altogether, Bowers &
Merena having done two distinctive printings. The first had a pink
cover, the second a scarlet one, and the cover designs were quite
different. The Zyrus printings have black covers, either matte (first)
or glossy (later ones), and these have a single cover design that is
radically different (and much better, in my opinion) than either of
the B&M printings. There have been a few minor improvements in some
of the illustrations since the first printing, but the changes do not
warrant describing the later books as new editions."

The publisher's summary describes the book as

"... the most comprehensive book on Lincoln Cents, and the only book
to cover all aspects of the Lincoln cent series with thorough listings
from the first Lincoln cent of 1909 through the famous 1995 doubled-die.

The book features a complete history of the Lincoln cent with research
of events leading up to the production of the Lincoln cent, the engraver
and mint officials who designed it, as well as a biography of Abraham
Lincoln.

Every date and mint is illustrated and analyzed. An individual chapter
is dedicated to proof and mint issues, rare Lincoln cent errors and
patterns.  A chapter on counterfeit and altered coins helps collectors
spot forgeries, and provides guidance on how to detect them. The text
also includes chapters on how to grade and the best strategies for how
to collect Lincoln cents."
zyruspress.com

As a bibliophile, I have a hard time simply reading any book like a
normal person.  Abnormal freak that I am, I gravitate toward the notes
and bibliography very quickly.  Where did the author GET all this stuff
from?  Is he making it all up?

Well, if Dave's making it all up he's done a convincing job.  Every
chapter has a detailed set of notes documenting his sources.  For
example, chapter eight has 52 notes and chapter seven alone has 243!
I like it already - this is my kind of book.  If I want to retrace
Dave's steps and review the source material, it's a snap.  1928 Mint
Report? Grab it off the shelf.  March 1957 Numismatist?  Stand on
A chair and pull down that volume.  What fun!

The book rewards the careful reader with a trove of important and
interesting information about the series.  Here's a sampling:

In 1974 Mint Director Mary Brooks issued a statement regarding the
cent shortage, reporting that "For every $25 worth of pennies cashed
in at a bank, the Treasury and Mint are prepared to issue a Treasury
Department Certificate to the individual or group responsible."
[Does anyone have one of these?  One is pictured on p25, courtesy of
Numismatic News.]

With today's highfaluting precision computer and manufacturing
technology, the Mint's reported production figures are 100% accurate,
right?  Forget it! (this is the government, remember?) "... as a
consequence of the many packaging options and an ordering period
which typically extends into the early months of the following calendar
year ... the published figures since the mid 1980s must not be taken
too literally." (p295)

The Matte Proofs of 1909-1916 - how were they made?  Well, we donít
exactly know, but the available facts are neatly summarized (p295-296)

The 1955 proof set packaging changeover in April or May of that year.
Did you know that these sets were issued in BOTH the boxed format of
1950-1954 AND the flat-pack format? (p325)

The 1964 Experimental cent, a possible prototype for the 1965 Special
Mint Set. (p334)

1972 cents are a favorite of the crew of the aircraft carrier U.S.S.
Abraham Lincoln, because its hull number is CVA-72. A bit far afield
from numismatics, but a fun fact regardless (p250).

As a nitpicky editor I have a pleasure/pain relationship with typos -
I hate to see them in print, but love to pat myself on the back for
finding them.  I found only a very few in my reading of Dave's book.
He even got things like Harry X Boosel's name right (p291).  [QUIZ
QUESTION:  What was Harry famous for collecting, and what does the
X stand for?]

The early chapters of the book are just as filled with interesting
facts and photos on topics such as "the Infamous General Motors Roller
Press (p49-50) and pattern and experimental coins (or the lack thereof,
actually): The Lincoln cent is one of a very few coin types from
1850-1916 which are not known in pattern form (p44).  [Why not?
Read the book to find out, silly!]

The page of major hub type photos is a great reference (p53),
reminding me of the day I took my first real look at a Washington
Quarter in years and thought - what the HECK did they DO to his HAIR???
Old George had developed spaghetti head. The hub changes on the Lincoln
Cent were much more subtle, thankfully.

In summary, this is absolutely one book that ought to be on the shelf
of every U.S. numismatist, and one that deserves a careful read.  That
goes double for those of you (ok, those of US) who thought they already
knew most of this stuff.

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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