Ron Guth submitted this review of the new edition of Krause's Standard Catalog of German Coins. Thanks!
I'm not sure what the record is for the world's thickest book, but Krause Publications sure killed a lot of trees to produce the 3rd edition of "German Coins 1501-Present." It's a massive book, nearly three inches thick (thicker still than Krause's equally impressive "Standard Catalog of World Coins 1601-1700, 4th edition) and tips the scales at a full six pounds! The page count ends at 1,488, then goes on to include a 12 page section of color advertisements.
What makes this book so big? First, the rich, long numismatic history of Germany and its various states: some tiny, some short-lived, others large, wealthy, prolific producers of coins. Second, 20,000 actual-size illustrations. Third, Krause has added information and pricing for coins from 1501-1600, an addition that alone is worth the book's $125 retail price (even better, Krause is selling the book for $82.50 on its own website at krausebooks.com!). While coins from the 1500's do not show up on the market nearly as often as their later counterparts, identifying them has always been challenging because of the lack of a comprehensive reference work or, at least, one written in English.
Pricing them has been problematic for the same reason and/or because standard references have been difficult to find or hopelessly outdated.
As a dealer in German coins and as someone who uses the "Standard Catalogs" on an almost daily basis, I find this book essential.
Collectors of German coins will likewise find it invaluable and, despite its size, this single volume is a much more cost-effective way to obtain over five centuries of data for German coins. While this is a niche book, it is clear that the niche has been large enough to support a book of this size over three editions.
Now for the guts. The book starts out with a very nice overview of German Monetary History, which I found interesting and enlightening.
Next follows a two page listing of German coin denominations, their equivalents (in other German denominations), and their popular names (if any). These tables serve as a reminder that a particular coin may not always be listed by its stated denomination but by its equivalent, thus the unlisted 6 Mariengroschen you just discovered may be among the 1/6 Thalers a couple of pages over.
Each German State is treated to some or all of the following: a short history, the monetary system, references, cross-references, a list of rulers, identifiers, etc. This volume continues the Krause-Mishler (KM) numbering system and provides values in five grades up to BU.
Though profusely illustrated, there are many types that remain invisible, including many common or inexpensive types (however, one shudders to think how thick this book would be if all types were illustrated).
As mentioned before, the addition of illustrations and pricing for 1500s-dated coins is incredibly important. This information is scattered throughout the book in the appropriate places and resulted in the addition of some interesting, obsolete German States.
From a practical standpoint, this is not a book that a collector will lug to a coin show. However, Krause does offer a CD version of the book for $75 that can be downloaded to a laptop. If I know what a coin is, I can find it easily in this book. However, when I can't identify a dated German coin, I'll still go back to the single-century catalog because it's a lot easier to page through one smaller volume than through nearly 1,500 pages.
In the end, I have nothing but praise for this Herculean effort. It's been 12 years since the last volume of "German Coins" was printed and this new version is well worth the wait.
THE BOOK BAZARRE
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