Last week I received my copy of The Guide Book of Canadian Coins and Tokens, by James A. Haxby. I'd been looking forward to this book, curious to see how the new Whitman publication would stack up in a world so used to the standard Charleton guides to Canadian coins and tokens. Of course, I have to admit that I'm far from up-to-date with the Charleton publications, and neither am I an active collector of Canadian material. So I'll stick to reviewing the book on its own merits. Let's call this a "mini-review".
First, the book is recognizable as a Whitman guide book, with a similar format and layout to the classic "Red Book" or, A Guide Book of United States Coins. What's different of course, is stated in the title - the inclusion of tokens as well as official government coinage. There are pros and cons to this approach, but I think I like it. There are not so many different types of Canadian coins and tokens that they can't be covered in one volume, and it's a handy guide, even if it does stretch to 461 numbered pages.
The text beginning each section provides a succinct overview of the coin's development and history. The images are in color, actual size. For each coin type there is a table listing the date, mintage and value in various grades. Alternate lines are shaded, making it easy to read across the page. The layout is clean and readable, yet packs a lot of information in a small space.
The 35-page introduction provides a decent overview of Canadian coinage and includes a nice section on The Manufacture of Coinage Dies discussing the Royal Mint, the Heaton Mint, and later branch mints at Ottawa and Winnipeg. The "Mintmarks" That Aren't section notes that "several Canadian coins carry letter designations that could be mistaken for mintmarks but actually serve other purposes."
QUICK QUIZ: what to the letters A,B, and P designate on Canadian coins?
I was glad to see the token listings, which include
Rutherford tokens, Tiffin tokens, Ships Colonies & Commerce tokens, Bouquet Sou tokens, and the Magdalen Island tokens.
I appreciated the "Concoctions for Collectors" section listing various "outright fabrications that have been on the numismatic scene for many years and in some cases have been highlights of various famous collections." These include muled tokens such as Breton 973 and 1001.
The book wisely references the key historical attribution guides for Canadian tokens such as Breton, as well as newer guides such as Withers. However, I was perplexed trying to locate any mention of these attribution references, either in the book's front material, glossary or bibliography. The bibliography is dreadful, in my opinion - it lists none of the references one would expect to have been consulted in compiling this guide. Rather, it is a one-page discussion of periodicals where one might find further information. In future editions I think this section should be renamed and replaced with a true bibliography.
In summary, I think this is a worthwhile one-volume reference for collectors who collect both coins and tokens of Canada, but it will not supplant more specialized guides that detail the vast array of token varieties. As with all first editions, there is room for improvement in subsequent editions, and I'll look forward to watching this book evolve.
To read an earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NEW BOOK: THE GUIDE BOOK OF CANADIAN COINS AND TOKENS
Wayne Homren, Editor
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