I was literally dusting off an old coin book, The Official Red Book®—A Guide Book of United States Coins, when I was reminded how it’s been a mainstay series book for me and others for years. It’s not surprising that this year it celebrates its 61st Edition. But still…Wow.
What is the Red Book?
It’s THE STANDARD guide book for coin collectors, dealers and coin enthusiasts. Taking a partial description from its publisher, Whitman Publishing:
The Red Book covers the history and values of colonial and early American coins, half cents through silver dollars and gold, commemoratives, Proof and Mint sets, errors, Civil War tokens, territorial gold, state quarters, presidential dollars, and other U.S. coins, with essays on Counterfeits, grading, investing, auctions, and more.
Okay, that’s part of the official representation. What’s it mean to those of us who’ve made it so popular over the years and have relied on it? A few words come to mind when thinking about Red Book: insightful, dependable, impartial, and convenient. I could go on…
Yet, is the Red Book “Outdated” for Today’s Times?
Open a Red Book and US coins prices immediatly jump out at you. Coin retail values are certainly a huge part of every Red Book edition. But in this day and age with all the online resources, one could argue its price listings are less important than past years. I think that’s a fair assessment to some degree. You CAN find “new” prices online from trusting sources. Yet there’s much to say about palming a Red Book with tons of information at your fingertips. Its quick, convenient and standardized format makes it a huge plus in various settings – especially coin shows and other natural environments and situations where it’s “painful”, too slow or just plain impossible to use the Internet.
There’s Much More in a Red Book than Coin Values
Take out the coin values and you’d still have an excellent reference book for ANY collector – beginner to veteran. There are over 6000 coins listed in the latest edition but don’t be scared by the volume. The book is laid out well to take you where you want to go. And outside values, you can learn coin histories, coin treasures, see superb and descriptive coin photos, review official coinage mintage numbers, follow guidelines to grading coins and much more.
If you’d like to learn more about US coins, the Red Book is a MUST HAVE!