Standard Catalog of World Coins – Spain, Portugal and the New World.
Book Review by Jan M. Dyroff
Chester L. Krause, Clifford Mishler and Colin R. Bruce. Iola: Krause Publications, 2002. $49.95.
This latest addition to the stable of “Standard Catalog” books is most laudable, incredibly well thought-out, and clearly presented and illustrated. The basic premise begins with the happenstance that the two nations sharing the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) generated the exploration and population of nearly all of the lands in South and Central America and in the north into Mexico and California.
The scope of this book is impressive. In terms of time covered, entries for Spain begin with those of Phillip III in 1598 and for Portugal with Johannes III with the coinage of 1670. In addition to the homelands, the volume covers, form as early a date as possible, the coinages of Argentina, the Azores, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo, the Central American Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, the Madeira Islands, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and Venezuela. This covers a lot of territory.
Not only are the official issues cataloged, but considered as well are provisional and revolutionary coins and countermarks, as are some specialty government tokens, such as those for use in leprosaria. Also provided are clear pictures of the coins, along with notes on composition and, as warranted, historical or other significance.
Included in the book are a number of introductory essays. The first, “The Colonial Coinage of Spanish America: by Daniel Frank Sedwick, traces in a concise and readable way the development of the coinage from the crude cobs of the sixteenth century to the last milled coins of the early nineteenth century. A Spanish Colonial Mint Production Table accompanies the article.
A second essay is “The Latin American Republics in the Wake of the Wars of Independence: by David Fiero. The piece is a sweeping, general introduction to the topic, which is a very complex one to handle – there is just so much there. Mr. Fiero does, however, attempt to put these national entities and coinages in a perspective against the activities of the United States, not an easy task.
The third essay is “The Need for Numismatic Research” by Roberto Jovel, Director (El Salvador) of the Central American Numismatic Association. His comment on this book is worth quoting, “This new Ibero-American catalog is one of the best tools to be offered to a numismatic researcher as it provides, in a single volume, basic information on all coins minted for nearly five hundred years in the Iberic Peninsula and its colonies.”
One of the benefits of this book is that it goes back to the very beginning of Spanish American coinage, with the coppers of Ferdinand and Isabella from the Santo Domingo mint from the first years of the sixteenth century (and here I have a nit to pick, from personal experience with these coins – the catalog value seems much too high, but then as the sixteenth-century edition of the Standard Catalog has not yet come out there may be more feedback on the way), and perhaps for symmetry or completeness this book should have begun with Spain in the early 1500’s.
To conclude, also from the viewpoint of someone interested in this grand topic, I know that there are a lot of collectors in our region who home in on the coins of Portugal, Spain and many of the countries of the Americas (Cuba is always well sought after, as is Mexico). This book has so much going for it that it is a must have for anyone inter -ested in any of these areas.
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