This book has been out for a while, but we haven't had anything to publish about it until now. Here's an excerpt of a review by Dennis Hengeveld from Coin Update about The Encyclopedia of the Commemorative Coins of the United States by Anthony Swiatek.
The Encyclopedia of the Commemorative Coins of the United States is written by Anthony J. Swiatek and published in 2012 by KWS Publishers. While many books on commemorative coinage have been released over the years, this volume provides what is perhaps the most comprehensive account available on both the classic series issued between 1892 and 1954 as well as the modern series issued from 1982 to present.
The new encyclopedia starts with a brief introduction to commemorative coinage, written in a language that should be easy to understand for novice collectors but still offer valuable information to even the most experienced collectors. This is followed by discussions of topics such as pricing, grading, collecting, and buying commemorative coins. One interesting topic of note is the area of prooflike commemoratives that spans several pages. This is a relatively neglected area of the commemorative market that has not been discussed in any great deal in books of the past. Swiatek gives some background information on prooflike commemoratives, as well as rarity and pricing. While we cannot be sure if prooflike commemoratives will ever be as popular as say prooflike Morgan Dollars, this is still interesting and valuable information not found elsewhere.
The book then continues with individual listings in chronological format for each of the 59 classic commemorative designs as well as the modern commemoratives and the 50 State Quarter Program.
Even though the detailed information about the coins is valuable and a large part of the 712 page book, I believe the most important part is the information and photos within the “related material” sections. This material, which includes advertising, packaging and other promotional items, is surprisingly rare and not often encountered. Swiatek does an excellent job of listing all such items that are known to exist, with many high-quality pictures included. Price indications as well as rarity estimates are given for many such items, information that is difficult to find elsewhere in such great detail. For the advanced collector of commemorative coinage, such material might provide another challenge, as often it was discarded and very few such items have survived the test of time. Most collectors will be familiar with the purple frames issued for the coinage of the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition; this book proves that there is much, much more of such material that is worth looking into.
Overall, Swiatek's Encyclopedia of the Commemorative Coins of the United States is a valuable addition to any numismatic library. The only drawback might be the price of $150, which even for numismatic literature is quite heavy. I believe, however, that the book surely is worth its cost and should prove to be much more valuable to the collector thanks to all the information and advice it contains. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone with even a modest interest in America’s commemorative coinage.
The complete review is available online. As a bibliophile and collector of numismatic ephemera, I was glad to read that Swiatek's book discusses the packaging and ephemera so closely related to commemorative coins. Above is an image of a page showing a postcard and packaging for the
1925 California Diamond Jubilee half dollar. If you have any interesting commemorative ephemera, please send in an image for next week's issue.
To read the complete article, see:
Book Review: Encyclopedia of the Commemorative Coins of the United States, by Anthony J. Swiatek
Wayne Homren, Editor
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