It seems like yesterday that John Mercanti's book on the U.S. bullion silver eagle coins was published. Then we blinked and there was a 2nd edition. What happened? Well, as Dennis Tucker noted in the press release for the second edition,
“If any numismatic book has earned the title of ‘runaway best-seller,’ it’s American Silver Eagles. The first edition sold out in a few months, with tens of thousands of copies eagerly snapped up by enthusiastic coin collectors and investors.”
I have to admit I was surprised by this development, but it was a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed the first edition of the book, and appreciated the behind-the-scenes narrative from the former Chief Engraver, which elevated the book from a mere guide to issues, grades and prices. It's a pretty good read, and I hope the popularity of this title builds a receptive audience for Mercanti's anticipated biography. These first-person tales from the trenches are what bring numismatic history alive.
(And yes, I know there is controversy over whether Mercanti was or wasn't officially assigned the title of Chief Engraver, but it says so on the book's cover, so I'll go with it. Title aside, as one of the most prolific and longest-serving Mint sculptor-engravers (who lead the team into the 21st century with computer-based technology), Mercanti clearly filled that role for years in practice, if not by title).
The 2nd edition naturally extends its coverage into 2012 and 2013 issues, and updates grading population figures and pricing. But there's more for researchers and bibliophiles to enjoy as well - additional research and more photographs are included.
Although the researcher and ephemera collector in me liked the image of FDR's May 1, 1933 gold bullion Executive Order that opened Chapter 1 in the first edition, I like even better the photo of President Reagan signing the Liberty Coin Act in 1985 which was substituted in the 2nd edition. The Executive Order wasn't lost - it was made smaller and moved to the page with Roosevelt's photo.
Similarly, a full-page photo of President Reagan was made smaller and moved to make way for a nice image of a bas-relief sculpture of Reagan by Mercanti. Pictures of engravers A. A. Weinman and Gilroy Roberts have been added as well.
In short, if you missed out on the First Edition, be sure to get a copy of the Second. It's nicely done and has plenty of great content to satisfy those looking for historical background in addition to the bread-and-butter listings essential to catalogs like these.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NEW BOOK: AMERICAN SILVER EAGLES, 2ND EDITION
Wayne Homren, Editor
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