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The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 9, March 2, 2008, Article 7

CLIFF MISHLER ON THE SCWC NUMBERING SYSTEM

Clifford Mishler writes: "As the person who was centrally
involved, along with Chet Krause, in the design and marketing
of the “Standard Catalog of World Coins,” back in 1972, I
thought it would be appropriate for me to respond to Scott
Semans’ observations concerning the “assumption” he had that
our catalog arrangement and numbering was predicated on the
fact that they represented the “second-best choices made
to avoid copyright problems.” I can assure all readers that
that was not the case. In point of fact, when we developed
the SCWC concept we approached the late Dick Yeoman, prior
to proceeding, requesting Whitman’s consent to perpetuate
the Y-numbering system in our product. The discussion was
not entailed and permission was granted informally . . .
back in those days, prior to the focus on intellectual rights,
cross-service publishing understandings were not uncommonly
informal and non-contractual.

"For starters, I should explain, our purpose in compiling
and publishing the SCWC was to make detailed coinage
information on the world available to the collecting masses
in the United States. It was our belief that if such a
reference were readily available, the collecting of world
coins in the United States would be greatly broadened.
Our objective in fostering that growth was to develop a
collecting environment that would be receptive to the
publication of a world coin shopper publication. We were
right, and the overwhelming success of the SCWC led to
the launch of “World Coin News” in 1974.

"In developing a style for the proposed catalog, we
determined that what was needed was a “Red Book” of world
coins, a single volume that would embrace detailed coverage
of the coins of all countries from roughly the mid-1800s
to 1971. We determined that all coin issues should be
listed by date and mint. Further, that the arrangements
should be by denomination, as traditionally was the
practice with United States Coins. Finally, that all
coinage types should be illustrated for ease of reference
and identification.

"The introduction to the first edition of the SCWC stated
in part; “The listings are arranged according to the basic
American system; i.e., by denomination, rather than type
or period of issue, commencing with the smallest unit and
working up the scale. Thereafter the arrangement is by
known dates of issue. Although applicable catalog number
designations from other works (primarily Yeoman) have been
retained for the convenience of collectors who use them,
the basic system used in this work is self-cataloging,
negating the demand for numbering.” The SCWC listings of
United States, Canadian and Mexican coins were not
accompanied by catalog numbers in the early editions.

"In approaching Whitman through Dick Yeoman, we had indicated
that despite the fact that we felt the arrangement was truly
self-cataloging,” we recognized the fact that many collectors
and most dealers had their stocks arranged under the Y-number
system, and would probably prefer that a numbering system be
attached to the listings cataloged in the SCWC. We had further
indicated to Dick that we would prefer to use existing and
widely observed numbering systems, rather than introducing
a distinctive SCWC-numbering system, which would introduce
an element of complication and confusion to the collecting
community. He agreed.

"Thus, the first and second editions of the SCWC were
largely cataloged in line with the Y-number system, in
some instances injecting C-numbers, Fr-numbers and H-numbers,
along with a few country specific numbering systems.
Commencing with the third edition, as the listings became
more complex and previously un-cataloged variety types
were incorporated, KM-numbers began being introduced in
displacement of the established systems, when adapting
existing numbering systems became outdated, confusing
or impractical for the user. That was really a last resort.

"I believe it is very beneficial to the coin collecting
community that Whitman, in publishing the 14th edition of
“Modern World Coins,” opted to incorporate both Y-number
and KM-number designations in its listings. This is
definitely a most “useful feature,” as pointed out by
Scott Semans’ in his observations, with respect to the
presentation of the MWC listings. This feature will be
most welcome to those who reference that catalog, as
they search dealer offerings at shows, in advertised
offers and on the Internet, as their needs graduate to
reliance on the greater detail incorporated in SCWC
listings.

"I would like to finish by quoting something more from
the introduction to the first edition of the SCWC; “This
volume is designed to fill a need which has come into
growing evidence in recent years as the expanding interests
of the American coin collecting community has been ceaselessly
shifting into the arena of world coin issues . . . The
arrangement of this catalog is such that it will provide
the novice with a guide for the direction of his efforts,
at the same time it provides the advanced collector with
the detailed background he desire . . . This work is
basically a compilation of the digested knowledge which
students of the numismatic science have contributed to
the coin collecting hobby through the years.”

"Hopefully, this overview of the SCWC concept development
will lay to rest any “assumptions” that float around out
there concerning the approach that was taken by Chet Krause
and myself in the arrangement of its content and the
incorporation of Y-numbers and the eventual gravitation
to KM-numbers. The latter was, really, a last resort born
of necessity. The former was based, truly, on the desire
to best serve the coin collecting community, with both
the arrangement and the initial reliance on Y-numbers.
We had no intentions, nor needs, to “avoid copyright problems.” "

[Many thanks to Cliff for his background and capsule
history of the SCWC catalogs.  This is the kind of first
person account of numismatic history that makes The E-Sylum
so interesting and informative.  -Editor]

 SCOTT SEMANS ON WHITMAN'S CATALOG OF MODERN WORLD COINS, 14TH EDITION
 esylum_v11n08a15.html

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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