Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publications alerted me to this series of Coin World articles by Gerald Tebben about the
company's flagship publication, A Guide Book of United States Coins, also known as the Red Book. Thanks! Here are excerpts,
but be sure to read the complete articles online. -Editor
Red Book 70th Anniversary: A Look Back
A Guide Book of United States Coins by R.S. Yeoman, the venerable “Red Book,” enters its well-deserved 70th edition this year. The
1946 foundation was strong and durable; every edition since has stayed true to its basic format – a retail price guide and numismatic primer.
It remains inexpensive, accessible and definitive.
Readers over the decades learned not only the current price of the coin they were interested in, but a bit of its history and, in some
cases, the rationale for producing it. First editor Yeoman was as much interested in the educational aspects of collecting as the
The book has served an astounding four generations of collectors. And while its print run is diminished from its all-time high of 1.2
million in 1965, it remains true to its origins and delivers an ever-improving product to collectors year in and year out.
The Red Book is an incredible first point of contact for most collectors. People who pick up an odd coin in circulation or stumble
across a tin can of gold go to it first to figure out what they’ve got and what it’s worth. The book whets the appetite of the curious and
encourages them to explore the hobby further.
During the next five weeks, I’m going to look at five changes in the book over the years, some typographical, some based on new
scholarship, all changes that made the book a better product or serve as a marker for collectors of the books themselves.
Red Book 70th Anniversary: The 1903-O Morgan Silver Dollar
The 1903-O is an incredibly important coin in the history of Morgan dollar collecting. From its minting to the early 1960s, it was the star
of the series. Q. David Bowers estimates, in his Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia, that fewer than 10
uncirculated pieces were known before October 1962, when the Treasury Department released bags and bags of them.
Bowers estimates 200,000 or more uncirculated 1903-O dollars exist today. Before the Treasury release, the coin cataloged for $1,500,
more than any other Morgan. The price fell off a cliff in 1963, dropping as low as a reported $7. Today the coin lists in Coin
World’s Coin Values at $450 in MS-63. The value and the demand for the coin are in no small part based on its fabled history.
The coin also serves as a way to distinguish the rare first print run of the first edition of A Guide Book of United States Coins
from the more common second printing.
In November 1946, 9,000 copies of the 1947-dated Red Book were printed. A paragraph below the Morgan dollar listing ambiguously reads,
“270,232,722 silver dollars were melted under the Pittman Act of April, 1918, 259,121,554 for export to India, and 11,111,168 for domestic
subsidiary coins, which probably accounts for the scarcity of this date.”
In February 1947, an additional 22,000 copies were printed to meet unexpectedly strong demand for the title. The Morgan dollar paragraph
was altered to eliminate the ambiguity. The ending phrase “scarcity of this date” was changed to “scarcity of 1903 O.”
To read the complete article, see:
RED BOOK 70TH ANNIVERSARY: A LOOK BACK
To read the complete article, see:
RED BOOK 70TH ANNIVERSARY: THE 1903-O MORGAN
SILVER DOLLAR (www.coinworld.com/voices/gerald-tebben/2016/03/red_book_70th_annive1.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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