Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Currency for Coin and Paper Money Resources: Building a Numismatics Collection

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Currency for Coin and Paper Money Resources: Building a Numismatics Collection

Article excerpt

This issue's guest columnist became interested in coins when he was a child, pulling them from pocket change and plugging them into holes in a coin folder. While interest in this hobby waned as he became older, Van de Streek rediscovered this passion in adult life. He reports that he still feels a kid's fascination when he holds money from the earliest years of our nation's founding or when he stumbles across something of value in a bag of worn and seemingly worthless coins. Van de Streek is a member of the American Numismatic Association. Additionally, he has written the "Numismatics" section (as well as the "Boats and Boating" section) for several editions of Katz's Magazines for Libraries. He has been the library director at Penn State York since 1980. Since then, he has contributed numerous book and video reviews to Library Journal. He has also written a collection development article on automotive resources for that publication.--Editor

In recent years, interest in numismatics within the United States has grown dramatically. The reasons are many, but it has certainly been fueled in large part by the U.S. Treasury Department's ten-year-long state quarters program. Estimates suggest that, at present, several million people are active in some fashion with coin and paper-money collecting and that many more have a peripheral interest in collecting. A tangible result is that coin markets have been experiencing continuously strong activity and an upward trend in values. Another result is a flood of novice collectors who are unaware or naive about many, if not most, of the nuances of the coin trade and of how the business of that trade operates. Many of these new collectors are searching for information and guidance about coins and the coin market.

The classic response to inquiries about the field of numismatics is a well-worn adage advising one to first buy the book, then buy the coin. The message is that collecting coins and paper money can be a very complex endeavor and that collectors would be wise to gain as much reference knowledge as they can about numismatics before investing a lot of energy and resources. There is much to know, for example, about how various grading levels affect the value of a coin, or how an almost unnoticeable difference in a mintmark can mean the difference between a common coin and a unique one. Far too many collectors have painfully discovered that items they thought were rare or in mint condition are far from that and that the money spent to acquire these pieces will most likely never be regained. Most would have benefitted by first having access to a book.

Collectors looking for such resources in libraries may have a difficult time locating many important and useful titles. Numismatic holdings in libraries generally are thin and lack newer or specialized materials. A check of numerous titles in OCLC's WorldCat shows no holdings for some titles and fewer than two dozen locations for many others. A likely reason is that library selectors may simply not be aware of much of the material published by the numismatic presses. Most of these titles are published from within the numismatic trade and are advertised and reviewed for the most part within that trade. Few make their way into publications that librarians would reference for collection development.

There are, however, several important sources to which librarians can refer to help them maintain awareness of numismatic materials. The foremost of these is Krause Publications (www.krause.com), which publishes many important works that are benchmark references in both coin and paper money collecting. Their Standard Catalogs are regularly updated, and should be a staple of most collections. Also important is a series published by David Lawrence Rare Coins (DLRC) Press (www.davidlawrence.com), called The Complete Guide To.... This series began in 1993. Each volume focuses on a specific denomination and style of U. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.