Top 10 Christmas Gift Ideas for the Coin Collector

christmas-tree-giftsChristmas is just about upon us and everywhere you look someone has a “Top 10 Hottest Gifts for 2009” list. A quick search will yield up Top 10 Toys for Boys, Toys for Girls, Top 10 Electronics, Movies, CDs, etc. but what about Top 10 Gifts for the Numismatist?

In the world of coin collecting, knowledge of your subject is key. Trying to buy a coin collector a coin probably isn’t the best idea. Every collector has their own set of standards. To avoid disappointment, a book is the best gift for the beginner up to the most advanced collector. Here are my picks and, best of all, every one is under $20!

1. A Guide Book of United States Coins

Otherwise known as the Red Book, this is the the U.S. coin collector’s bible. Published annually since 1947, the Red Book contains photos,historical information, and average retail price listings for every U.S. issue from colonial times through the modern age. Recently sections on patterns, tokens, and Philppine coinage have been added. The Red Book is an essential volume in every numismatists library and for $16.95 in hardback it’s a huge bang for the buck.

2. Photograde: Official Photographic Grading Guide for United States Coins by James F. Ruddy

The coin collector on your Christmas list will use this book to the point where it falls apart. My own current copy is in rags. Descriptions of both the obverse and reverse of all U.S. coin series from 1793 to present in all grades from About Good to Uncirculated along with illustrations of each make this book the best tool for every coin purchase. There are also chapters on detecting cleaned or counterfeit coins. If your collector doesn’t have a copy he (or she) needs one.

3. The Expert’s Guide to Collecting and Investing in Rare Coins by Q. David Bowers

If your collector enjoys a good read then this book will probably be number one on their list. In 650 pages Bowers gives in-depth collecting & investing information on every U.S. series along with market analysis, coin collecting history, purchasing tips and every other aspect of the hobby you can think of. This book truly is the authoritative resource that it claims to be.

4-9. Whitman’s “A Guide Book of…” series

A few years ago Whitman Publishing tapped several well known numismatic authors to create reference books on specific U.S. coin series’. The books in this series are extremely comprehensive. They contain date by date analysis of rarity in different grades, strike characteristics, and a wealth of historical information that places the reader in the time period in which these coins were produced. If you know what series of coinage your collector is interested in these will make a great gift. Here are just some of the volumes available in order of collecting popularity:

10. Handbook of Ancient Greek and Roman Coins by Zander Klawans

This is a great introductory reference book on the fascinating field of ancient coin collecting. It provides information on reading coin inscriptions, identifying the emperors and dates on Roman coins, and other methods of attributing coins of this era. If you’ve got a budding ancient coin collector on your Christmas list, this will give them a great foundation on the topic.

That is my Top 10 list for the coin geek. Every one of these books can be purchased for less than $20 and is guaranteed to get a lot of use. Where else can you get so many hours of enjoyment at that price?

Happy holidays!

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