The latest entry on the Coin Update series on the Redbook is by Lincoln W. Higgie III. Be sure to read the complete version
online. This initially appeared in A Guide Book of the Official Red Book of United States Coins by Frank J. Colletti. -Editor
In October 1938, Richard S. Yeo approached my father, Lincoln W. Higgie Sr., with questions concerning numismatics and coin collecting in
general. Yeo had come to Racine from his native Milwaukee to work for Whitman Publishing Co. and was given the “penny boards” section of the
children’s games department to develop and expand.
My father was a founder of the Racine Numismatic Society, and he invited Yeo to accompany him and my mother to a coin convention being
held in Des Moines, Iowa. A few weeks after that convention I was born. In later years, with so very many coin conventions behind all of
us, there were numerous stories about the destiny of those people driving off to Iowa together in the autumn of 1938.
My parents’ birthdays were August 24 and 25, just about a week after Yeoman’s. Every year they exchanged birthday cards and letters. In
his last birthday letter to my parents in 1987, Yeoman fondly recalled that trip to Iowa and their friendship during the years that
How excited my father was when the first Guide Book of United States Coins appeared! Yeoman had brought copies to the Racine
Numismatic Society meeting, and the results were electrifying. Over the years, how many times Daddy would be reading that book and say, “I
still can’t believe that this man came to ask me about numismatics and coin collecting. Look at what he has accomplished!”
Yeoman remained faithful to the Racine Numismatic Society and to the many friendships he made there. He encouraged young people like me
and the sons of other members to attend meetings, picnics, banquets, and other club events. Usually he had a “story coin” to show us. It
could have been a widow’s mite, piece of eight, or his wonderful 1848 CAL. quarter eagle, whose story he would relate. Thus he would lead
us to higher levels of intellectual study and collecting pleasure well beyond the completion of a penny board. His tastefully mounted
exhibitions of story coins at major coin club functions were fascinating to collectors and non-collectors alike.
Yeoman understood that the history of every nation is reflected by its money. Price guides had been printed before he came along, but he
understood how to explain in very precise language the story of the coins. He told you where the coins fit into the picture puzzle of the
nation’s history, to the delight of the scholar and common man alike. He also told you what to pay for a coin and got you looking for a
rare date or mintmark in your change. He had created the basic formula for the success of a coin book in modern times.
However, as important as it is to appreciate Yeoman as an author who was a pioneer in his literary style, we must also admire his
talents as a businessman and manufacturer. He had to learn about the printing trade and the functions of the typesetter, pressman, binder,
and shipper. He had to know how much and what kind of paper, ink, bindery materials, and glue to order, and when to schedule new press
runs. Then he would go to coin conventions to find reliable people to wholesale and retail his books and coin supplies. These people often
profited greatly from Yeoman’s favors. Likewise, they frequently had good suggestions from which Yeoman would prosper.
Yeoman learned to do a lot of jobs, and he had to do them all right. As his success grew and the responsibilities multiplied, he needed
full-time professionals to shoulder various responsibilities. For him it was a lucky day when he found Ken Bressett.
Ken had grown up as a printer in Keene, New Hampshire. At an early age he had fallen in love with numismatics. Add to this the gift of
an expressive writing style as sharp as Yeoman’s. He understood how to work with collectors and dealers as well as typesetters, pressmen,
and binders to deliver a quality product. To this list of qualifications add a lovely wife who helped entertain collectors and dealers at
coin shows where Whitman was represented.
For many decades Bressett has maintained the integrity of Yeoman’s Guide Book and has expanded its scope with changing times. Thanks to
both these scholars, it remains the most trusted and widely read collector reference book ever written. Its formula for coin-book text and
layout is the accepted standard of excellence, not only for Whitman books but also for the outstanding works of Yeoman’s old friend Chet
To read the complete article, see:
Red Book Recollections: Lincoln W. Higgie III
Wayne Homren, Editor
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