Book Reviews

Encyclopedia of the Commemorative Coins of the United States

Anthony Swiatek was awarded The 2012 Robert Friedberg Award, by the elite dealer organization Professional Numismatists Guild, for his work on this book.

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“Consultant to the U.S. Mint, Swiatek (Commemorative Coins of the US ) opens this specialized guide with a valuable 37-page introduction detailing, in straightforward language, coin grading and commemorative pricing. The 110 entries that follow are organized first chronologically by coin issue year and then alphabetically by name. Each entry runs approximately four pages and offers photographs of the obverse and reverse and, when pertinent, the collector’s set packaging. Tables outline production figures, contemporary market values, and by-grade population figures. Design origins and counterfeit detection are also explained. VERDICT An essential, well-organized guide. The glossary makes the book’s specialized language accessible to novices.”

Library Journal

“Swiatek’s authoritative reference to commemorative coinage impresses with its meticulous coverage and well-researched details about protecting investments in coins. Arranged in chronological order, the 110 entries identify designers and provide an anecdotal overview of origins as well as a summation of current accessibility of each coin. Minutiae include evidence of counterfeiting on obverse and reverse, photos with magnification of bas-relief and flaws, and the circulation rate of the best models of each mintage. Quality photos help to clarify symbolism, including the U.S. state quarters and their provenance. Archived materials—copper, trial pieces, mailing envelopes, display frames, WWII medal sets, logos, fair tickets and season passes, and commemorative stamps—enhance the value of this work as a reference source of Americana dating from the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1892 to mintage of quarters from Guam, Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Marianas. A valuable glossary of 106 terms introduces beginning numismatists to such basics as milling, dies, registry, cladding, bezel, and buffing. A seven-page index covers events (Boston Massacre, Daniel Boone Centennial); honorees (Leif Ericson, Booker T. Washington, Jackie Robinson, Susan B. Anthony); models (Laura Gardin Fraser, Emily Bates, Monarch II [bear]); and design artists (Gutzon Borglum, Charles E. Barber, James Earle Fraser). Random reading of text introduces unusual aspects of U.S. monetary history—such as Benjamin Franklin’s invention of swim fins, the separation of West Virginia from Virginia, and the first infant depicted on a coin—and the choice of inscriptions, including “In God We Trust” and “Proclaim Liberty.” Well worth adding to large libraries.”

Mary Ellen Snodgrass