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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 9, March 1, 2009, Article 16

U.S. COIN BOOKS, CHINESE PRINTERS, AND CHINESE COIN FAKES

Jeff Reichenberger offers his two cents on the overseas printing of U.S. numismatic reference books. -Editor
I was excited to just receive two new titles I ordered from Whitman: Colonial and Early American Coinage by Dave Bowers and Abraham Lincoln by Fred Reed. As I began looking them over, reading the forwards and introductions and such, I noticed that they were both printed in China. I guess I should expect this, but I was still taken aback. It compelled me to look back at some other recent Whitman titles and I found the following:

  • 2001 Red Book hard cover - Printed in USA
  • 2002 Red Book hard cover - USA (most pre-2002 titles I have are printed in USA)
  • 2005 Red Book Leather - USA
  • 2006 Red Book Leather - USA
  • 2007 Red Book Leather - China
  • 2007 Red Book 1947 Tribute - China
  • 2008 Red Book Leather - USA
  • 2009 Red Book Leather - China


  • 2003 100 Greatest U.S. Coins, 1st edition - Italy (H.E. Harris)
  • 2005 U.S. Coins, a Study by Type - Canada
  • 2006 100 Greatest Currency Notes - Canada
  • 2007 100 Greatest Medals and Tokens - China
  • 2008 100 Greatest Ancient coins - China


  • 2005 Expert's Guide to Collecting - Canada
  • 2008 Official Guide book to Lincoln Cents - China
  • 2008 Official Guide book to Peace Dollars - China
  • 2008 Grading Coins by Photograph - USA
  • 2008 Early Paper Money of America - China (Krause)


It appears that as of 2003 the print jobs went to the lowest bidder or lowest-bidding country. A cynic with a vivid imagination might conjure up a connection between the U.S. coin reference books being printed in China and the recent proliferation of well-executed counterfeit coins entering the U.S. market from China.

After all, the Red Book and books like this new colonial encyclopedia are written by America's top numismatic scholars, detailing all the nuanced minutia that went into the making of each and every U.S. coin series: composition, size, weight, varieties, which process produced which coins, known counterfeits, etc. - all the useful information the enterprising young Chinese businessman needs to start a coin factory.

I wonder if Liu Ciyun, the guy from the Coin World articles, has these books on his desk in his coin factory office?

I certainly can't blame Whitman or any other publisher for wanting to remain profitable and viable companies, and kudos to them for embracing the global economy. These are quality, well-printed books (though the paper is slightly low-end). I will still buy them whatever country they are printed in, but if printing the books in the USA meant they had to charge an extra $10 per title, I would still buy them.

I am a printer myself and have seen many trade articles alluding to the plight of the industry. One large printer/publisher based near where I live recently laid off 550 employees. I have to say that seeing the words 'printed in China' on my treasured new numismatic books was a bit disheartening.



THE BOOK BAZARRE

DAVID F. FANNING NUMISMATIC LITERATURE sells material relating to numismatics from all times and places. To download our latest fixed price list, The Bookshelf, please go to www.fanningbooks.com .





Wayne Homren, Editor

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