The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 19, Number 9, February 28, 2016, Article 8


John and Nancy Wilson submitted this review of Ron Guth's book, 100 Greatest Women On Coins. Thanks! -Editor

100-Greatest-Women-on-Coins_cover This hardcover “Coffee-table size” reference has 128 pages and features 100 of the greatest women. Author Ron Guth did a masterful job of researching all of the women which have appeared on coins. Ron even took an online course at the American Public University on “The History of American Women” to help his search. Each woman has a page with a full color picture of her along with an enlarged picture of the coin she is portrayed on. The Foreword by Women in Numismatics President Charmy Harker, also known as “The Penny Lady,” says, “It is quite evident that Ron Guth has done an extensive amount of meticulous research into the history of women who have appeared on coins, and he describes these great women in such a way that makes it easy to understand what made them so special as to be honored with their image carved into a coin.” The reference “is a fascinating look into the important role women have played throughout numismatic history and throughout history in general.”

The author was inspired to do this reference because of a lady named Alice Paul who is Number 79 in the book. She burst onto the scene in 2012 when she appeared on the First Spouse gold coin issued in conjunction with President Chester Arthur’s Presidential Dollar. He was a widower during his Presidency. Ms Paul was three years old when President Arthur passed away, and the book explains nicely how this feminist came to have her portrait on this coin. Besides Ms Paul, the author says, “This book is a celebration of the hundreds of women who have appeared on coins from ancient times to present.”

“The Methodology of selecting the 100 Greatest Women,” is the nuts and bolts of the project along with the research and resources used to select the top 100 women. He used and the Krause publication Standard Catalog of World Coins along with other sources to come up with the 600 women who appeared on coins. This list is found in the back of the book. The task of picking the top 100 was accomplished through members of Women in Numismatics (140 members with 19 assisting Ron – which included two male members). The author used four distinct categories to select the women: 1. Real Women. 2. Goddesses. 3. Allegorical Women. 4. Women in Art.

“How Do Women Get on Coins?” From the time of Lydia, the author explains how through time women came to appear on coins. The book is laid out with the first ten women having two pages for each and larger narratives than the last 90 women which have only one page each. With some of the top 100 having a huge database of information some had very little, thus narratives could be longer or shorter than allotted space. The author’s research found some interesting information, on many of the women.

When Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier, he asked for and received a two million dollar dowry and Princess Diana had an eating disorder. These are just two of the many fascinating things that you will find out about the 100 greatest women on coins. “Collecting Difficulty,” gives you the information needed if you want to collect an example of each of the coins. The author set three levels of difficulty with: 1. Easy. 2. Moderately Difficult. 3. Difficult. The coins in the top 100 are composed of gold, silver and common pocket change examples with different metal compositions and unusual commemoratives. Some are super rare, but most are easy to obtain at little cost, and some can even be found in circulation.

“Collecting Women on Coins,” Ron Guth suggests: 1. Collect all the coins of one woman. 2. Collect a theme. 3. Collect a category. 4. Collect all of them (one from each). 5. You probably could come up with many other ways to collect women on coins. “How to Obtain Women on Coins,” gives the reader some ideas on where they can be obtained such as auctions, Ebay, coin shops, numismatic publications, mail order, mints in the world, and coin shows. We would also add coin club meetings. “Pricing,” finishes out the important Introduction. The author explains his thoughts on how he derived on the collecting difficulty for each of the top hundred listed in the reference. The authors email and address are listed for anyone who wants to add anything to the reference or make corrections.

The first woman is Mary, Mother of Jesus. We can easily see why Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was voted number one; it is an easy coin to obtain with many different coins available. Second is Helen Keller who overcame blindness and deafness to become the most inspirational person in American history. She is portrayed on the Alabama 2003 quarter. The third woman is Mother Teresa (1910 – 1997) who appears on the French 2010 10 Euro coin. She dedicated most of her life in service to the poor in Calcutta, India. In 1979 she received the Nobel Peace Prize, and the $190,000 prize money went to the poor. Pope Francis has given final clearance for Mother Teresa – who will soon be called “The Saint of the Gutters,” to receive this high tribute.

The fourth woman is Queen Cleopatra (or Cleopatra Vll Philopator). She was considered the most beautiful woman in the ancient world. This Queen of Egypt turned the heads of anyone who crossed her path. One Emperor gave up his kingdom for her. Cleopatra was married to Julius Caesar, Marc Anthony, members of her own family and others. She had a great fondness for poisons using these drugs to kill her brother, husband and others. She committed suicide by allowing an Egyptian cobra to bite her. The author says collecting coins of Cleopatra Vll is easy and coins from ancient times portraying her can be purchased for $200 to $800. He cautions you to beware of counterfeits. You will find the name Cleopatra several other times in the top 100.

Princess Diana is number 6, and her coins are easy to collect. We think everyone in the world admired this famous lady, who unfortunately died in a car accident along with her boyfriend Dodi Fayed in 1997. Along with coins, you will find her image on postage stamps. Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910) was the founder of the modern nursing profession. Her coins are easy to obtain. Another interesting selection was Queen Marie Antoinette at Number 40. She reigned, along with her husband King Louis VVl, from 1774 until their executions in 1792. Number 42 is Medusa who in the Greek version began life as a monstrous Gorgon. The Roman version had her as a beautiful woman.

Number 65 has Golda Meir (1898 – 1978) who served as Israel’s first female prime minister from 1969 - 1974. She was a great leader who achieved many things for her country. She is an easy coin to collect, and the author says, “a nice mini-collection can be made of the numerous Golda Meir coins and medals.” Number 93 is Marilyn Monroe (1926 – 1962). This movie star was a sex symbol who appeared in the first issue of Playboy magazine in 1953, and an “American icon and a tragic, misunderstood figure. She first married at 16 and in four years was divorced. Her second marriage was to baseball legend Joe DiMaggio. This marriage lasted four months. In 1956 she married Playwright Arthur Miller and divorced him in 1961. She overdosed from barbiturates in 1962.

The acknowledgments, contributors, author’s biography and other books written by Mr. Guth are listed. The Appendix contains three pages of other coins portraying females from the four categories mentioned at the beginning of this review. An application for Women In Numismatics (WIN) will also be found here, along with their web page: .

It is amazing that the majority of the top 100 coins are available at little cost. This is a much needed reference covering a subject that just might get your significant other collecting “Women on Coins.” Through hard work, dedication, difficult research, and assistance by Women In Numismatics and others, Ron Guth has hit a Grand Slam with 100 Greatest Women On Coins. We recommend this reference to dealers, collectors as well as non-collectors. This reference is available for $29.95 from the publisher: Whitman Publishing LLC, 3101 Clairmont Rd., Suite G., Atlanta, GA. 30329, Phone Number (800) 546-2995 or

To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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