2006 Standard Catalog of World Coins, Thirty-third Edition
Book Review by Jan M. Dyroff
Colin R. Bruce II and Thomas Michael, Iola: Krause Publications, 2005. $55.00
This is without a doubt one of the biggest books on coins that I have ever had the pleasure of seeing and using. This, the latest volume in an on-going series of four books, which addresses world coins from 1601 to the present, covers the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Chester L. Krause and Clifford Mishler (hence the KM- reference numbers) began the huge undertaking in 1972 by offering a single volume. Now the whole series encompasses more than 6,300 pages. A full-time staff of eight and dozens of contributors help keep the database for these four volumes updated on a continual basis
I can remember the earlier editions of this work. They were about a quarter of the size of the present day offering, but then, since the early seventies, there have been great changes in the numismatic world � we have more nations now, more issues of coinage, an vast growth in commemorative and non-circulating legal tender series � and this catalog reflects them.
The statistics of the catalog are impressive. In a grand total of 2,392 pages, it weighs in at five and a half pounds and provides more than a million prices for 50,000 plus full-size illustrations. The Standard Catalog of World Coins has earned the recognition as a �bible� to world coin collectors, having sold more than a half a million copies since its inception.
Each country listing includes a map, brief history, mint marks and coins listed in small to large denominations according to Krause-Mishler number. Prices are given in up to five grades of preservation, while accurate mintage figures, metallic composition, precious metal weights, dates, and design details round out each country�s catalog listing.
More than forty pages of reference material offers identifier charts, grading terminology, international numeral systems, mint index, foreign exchange rates and a country index � this last feature may be more important than you might thing as it addresses the issue of countries changing names (like Burma to Myanmar and all the new entities that have emerged and are still continuing to emerge from the area of the old Soviet hegemony).
In the sense that you can get to the information, i.e. find a coin, see the value by grade and all of that, then this book is easy to use and right on the mark. But, as an important aside, in my opinion the prices given, particularly for many of the more recent commemorative issues, are what would be called on �Antiques Roadshow� insurance value.
As a collector I have often been frustrated when encountering items offered by people who are not specialists in world coins but who base their selling prices on the figure given in the catalog for the alleged grade. But then, I suspect that in many instances the non-specialist may have overpaid to begin with and is in a difficult position trying to recover cost (somehow �Caveat emptor!� comes to mind).
There is one way in which this book is not easy to use. It is just too big for comfort. A good solution might be to make the modern issues edition a two volume set with some sort of break when you get to about page 1200.
But, all things being considered, this is a very valuable contribution to the world of numismatics. Anyone with an interest in world coins who doesn�t have a recent copy of the Standard Catalog really should consider updating to this one.
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