Coin Update continues its series dedicated to reflecting on the long history of Whitman Publishing’s Guide Book of United States Coins, also known as the Red Book. On April 9, the highly anticipated 73rd edition of the Red Book debuted. “Red Book Recollections” features personal reflections written by Red Book contributors, collectors, and others with the aim of providing different perspectives on the long-lived reference work.
Our next narrative comes from Denis Loring:
I’ve been contributing to the Red Book for many years, always in large cents, and in other small areas as I develop knowledge about them. I can also tell you one story involving collecting Red Books and Blue Books:
New York City, where I used to live, has an annual street fair, “New York is Book Country,” consisting only of books—retailers, publishers, and used book dealers. I would go every year. On September 19, 1993, I was browsing at that year’s fair. I saw a used-book dealer who had, sitting on the street, a plastic milk carton labeled “Coin Books, $1.” The entire carton consisted only of Red and Blue Books. The ones on top were from the ‘70s and ‘80s. I dug down and they got older, going back into the 1960s, then 1958 and 1957. As I got toward the bottom, I saw one that looked older than the rest—it was a third edition, 1949, one of the rarities. It even had some old notes and advertisements folded inside the front cover. Finally, at the very bottom of the carton, was the prize: 1947 first edition, first printing, used but undamaged. I bought the 1947, 1949, 1957, and 1958 editions for a total of $4. A good day at the fair!