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Novice Collectors Should Hit the Books

January 29, 1987|DON ALPERT

Question: I am interested in investing in United States rare coins. I would like to know the name and address of any monthly magazine or newsletter on that subject.--J.K.

Answer: United States rare coins are probably the best collector area for numismatists interested in a challenge for both investment and hobby purposes. And you are quite wise to seek out publications in the subject before you make your first coin purchase. I think you will find the coin market fascinating. Make sure you absorb as much as possible about grading and pricing. Study the various characteristics of the coins that interest you, attend some coin shows and talk to dealers so you'll feel comfortable when you finally zero in on a particular coin type, such as cents, commemoratives or colonials.

Books and publications are plentiful. Just arrived is the "Official Investors Guide for Buying and Selling Silver Coins" (Ballantine: $12.95) by Marc Hudgeons. It's a good primer for beginning collectors interested in silver, although it glaringly ignores silver commemoratives. But other denominations from 3-cent silver to dollars are well represented and explanations are given on key dates and price comparisons.

Another good general reference book is "High Profits From Rare Coin Investment" by Q. David Bowers. The book is in its tenth edition and goes beyond silver to gold, paper money and coins of the world. Bowers is a veteran dealer who writes with an appreciation of coins and collecting. You might get lucky and find an earlier edition at a used-book store, or a coin dealer might have it in stock. Otherwise, it can be ordered from Bowers & Merena Galleries, Box 1224, Wolfeboro, N.H. 03894.

One of the basic books for collectors is "A Guide Book of United States Coins" by R. S. Yeoman. This book, known as the Red Book, is a basic price guide and also contains a wealth of information on such things as mintage and design. Because it comes out annually, the pricing can only be considered in general terms. Still, it belongs in every collector's library. The Red Book also lists numismatic magazines that you might find useful. They include:

The Numismatist, published by the American Numismatic Assn., P.O. Box 2366, Colorado Springs, Colo. 80901; Numismatic News Weekly, Iola, Wis. 54990; Coins Magazine, Iola, Wis. 54990; Coin World (a weekly), P.O. Box 150, Sidney, Ohio 45367, and COINage Magazine, 2660 E. Main St., Ventura, Calif. 93003.

Many of these publications are available at coin shops and coin shows. You might want to sample them before you decide on which is best for your needs.

Coin News

The California Assn. of Token Collectors is sponsoring an exonumia scavenger contest to celebrate its 30th anniversary this year. A prize of $366 will be given to the first person to complete a date set for an entire calendar year using dates found on any type of token, medal or tag. Information is available from the California Assn. of Token Collectors in care of Stephen Alpert, P.O. Box 66331, Los Angeles, Calif. 90066.

More than 2,700 coins are offered in a mail bid sale by Coin Galleries, a department of Stack's, closing Feb. 11. The sale of "Ancient and Modern Coins of the World and the United States" contains something for everyone and ranges from ancient Greece to U.S. gold. The catalogue has price estimates for less familiar ancient pieces. Catalogues are $5 from Coin Galleries, 123 West 57th St., New York, N.Y. 10019.

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