Dennis Tucker of Whitman publishing submitted this detailed description of the new Professional Edition of A Guide Book of United States Coins, a.k.a. the Redbook.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to answer E-Sylum readers' questions about the new Professional Edition of the Red Book. At the Philadelphia Expo, Ken Bressett, Dave Bowers, Jeff Garrett, and I did a presentation on the book. Collector interest was piqued, and we fielded quite a few questions similar to the ones asked here by Alan Luedeking, Gary Dunaier, and Joe Boling.
(Before I continue, I'd like to extend an offer to E-Sylum readers. At the Philly Expo we distributed an 11 x 17 double-sided broadsheet to the show's dealers. With text and photos it describes the content and layout of the Professional Edition, and answers many of the questions their customers will have about the book. I have a few extra prints of this broadsheet, and if any E-Sylumites would like a copy they can send me their mailing address at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll drop one in the mail.)
To sum it up, the Professional Edition of the Red Book is an enlargement and expansion of the regular edition's coverage of federal coin issues, with several additional sections, intended to serve the intermediate to advanced collector, the variety specialist, the professional coin dealer, the auctioneer, the investor, and the numismatic researcher.
In order to keep the Professional Edition to a manageable page count, we did not include the regular edition's introductory overview of the history of U.S. coinage, or its stories about coins from treasures and hoards. We also didn't include colonial and early American coins and tokens; silver, gold, and platinum bullion coins; private and territorial gold; Hard Times tokens; Civil War tokens; Confederate coins; Hawaiian, Puerto Rican, and Philippine coins; Alaskan tokens; misstrikes and errors; numismatic books; and other "front-of-the-book" and "back-of-the-book" topics covered in the regular edition.
Those areas will continue to be covered in the annual regular edition of the Red Book. Even though the pages of the Professional Edition are 45% larger than those of the regular edition, expanding on all of those topics would have resulted in an 800- to 900-page book! By focusing on federal coinage---half cents though double eagles---plus early Proof and Mint sets, and classic commemoratives, and including a few new sections, we were able to create a large-sized 384-page book with a reasonable retail ($29.95).
Okay, so what do I mean by "expanded" coverage?
1. The Professional Edition includes introductions (typically one to three pages) on each denomination---an overview of its history, major design types, and general collectability by type; plus a more in-depth analysis of specializing in that denomination. These sections encapsulate decades of numismatic research and market observation, and they should be read in conjunction with the charts, photographs, and other information that follow.
2. Each denomination is then broken out into detailed type-by-type studies. These include charts similar to those found in the regular edition (e.g., with detailed mintage date), but also including
- certified population data: For each circulation-strike coin, a summary is provided of a) the number of coins certified, b) the average grade, and c) the percentage of coins certified in Mint State. For early (generally pre-1916) Proof coins, certified populations are summarized as a) the number of coins certified, and b) the level of the finest Proof known. For later Proofs, the data includes a) the number of coins certified, and b) the average Proof level. These summaries provide the collector and investor with working data useful in comparing coins offered for sale or bid.
- valuations: Values in the Professional Edition reflect retail and auction prices for professionally certified coins seen in today's market. These start at the high end of the grades covered in the regular edition, and focus upward into high-circulated and Mint State grades. Expanded coverage here includes higher MS levels, as well as detailed analysis of Red-Brown and Red copper coins, Full Bell Lines, Full Head, Full Steps, Split Bands, Cameo, Deep Cameo, and similar designations.
- auction records. An auction record (highest price paid) is provided for every coin that has sold for $1,000 or more (and some lower), generally within the past eight to ten years. Each record includes a) the price paid for the coin, b) the grade, c) the auction firm, and d) the date of the auction. This is similar to the coverage included in the regular edition for exceptional coins, but is included for each date.
In addition to these expanded records and valuations for each coin, the Professional Edition includes summary information on each type's history; aspects of its strike, sharpness, and related characteristics; and its market availability. Detailed grading guidelines are included for the grades covered in the charts.
(I'm trying to be as detailed as possible in my explanations here; collectors who perused the advance galley at the Philadelphia Expo saw what I'm describing, and the broadsheet I mentioned shows example pages.)
The Professional Edition includes many more VAMs, doubled dies, repunched mintmarks, and other popular and valuable varieties than the regular-edition Red Book. Every year at Whitman Publishing we get phone calls, letters, and emails requesting coverage of additional varieties in the regular edition, but space---and the "general overview" nature of the regular edition---don't allow for such extended coverage. With the Professional Edition, we have the page space to go into much more detail, not just in valuations but also in enlarged close-ups, explanatory chart notes, captions, etc.
The Professional Edition includes advanced study of early Proof coins—mintages, numbers known, certified population data, valuations, auction records, varieties, and photographs of early 1800s to early 1900s Proof coins in copper, silver, and gold. Because these coins are outside the field of the typical beginning to intermediate collector, the regular-edition Red Book gives them only brief mention.
The Professional Edition also includes expanded coverage of classic (pre-1982) commemoratives, and Proof and Mint sets to 1964, plus the Special Mint Sets of the 1960s.
The Professional Edition has a detailed appendix on modern counterfeit coins, including a classification system developed by Dr. Gregory DuBay, photographs of counterfeit coins and dies, the full text of the Hobby Protection Act, advice on identifying counterfeits (including illustrated examples from Bill Fivaz), and more.
A gallery in the back includes enlarged photographs of early copper, silver, and Proof coins, by type.
The regular edition of the Red Book remains a valuable resource for information on lower-grade circulated coins (typically AG through AU, as well as lower Mint States). There is some overlap in the grades covered by the regular and Professional editions, but for the most part the Professional Edition covers higher grades. Also, as mentioned, the Professional Edition doesn't include colonials, territorial gold, and other non-federal coinage, tokens, and medals covered in the regular edition.
To summarize: everything that readers are used to finding in the regular edition of the Red Book will continue to be published there, in annual volumes. The Professional Edition will also be published annually. Undoubtedly, each will continue to feature special sections each year (like the regular edition's recent section on American Arts gold medals [2009 edition] and its expanded coverage of rare error coins [2010 edition]).
The Professional Edition debuts this week (October 13). It will be available online, from hobby dealers, and in bookstores nationwide. Again, I'd be happy to send a free copy of the Philadelphia Expo broadsheet to interested E-Sylum readers while the supply holds out---or, once the book becomes available, readers can see for themselves what the new Professional Edition is all about. In the meantime, I hope this description answers general curiosity. My email is email@example.com if anyone has further questions.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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