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, now in its 72nd edition. “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 Phil Bressett:
Phil Bressett has worked on the Red Book with his father, Kenneth, for more than a quarter of a century.
I was first asked to join the Red Book pricing session in 1978 for the 1979 edition. That year I believe that the group included Dad (Ken Bressett), Neil Shafer, Don Kagin, and Dick Thompson. Gold and silver had started to go up, so there were a lot of changes. It seemed like every coin in the book had gone up in value, and I remember thinking, this is a lot of work!
By the next year, the 1980 edition, silver had hit $50 per ounce and gold had hit $850 per ounce. This made last year’s changes look easy. Just about every coin in every grade had gone up in value in this edition. The changes were endless. I also remember that the 1980 edition sold out quickly and today is worth a little more than the other Red Books from those years. By the next year gold and silver had settled back down, so just about everything had to be adjusted again, mostly down this time.
After those first few hectic years, things seemed to settle down, and for the most part, prices have been slowly and steadily rising every year. It’s hard to believe that 30 years have passed and that the 2009 edition has been released. It looks like gold and silver are once again on the move and exciting times are here again! I feel very lucky to have been a part of Red Book history and hope to continue for a long time to come.