As you read these words, a crack team of more than 100 numismatic experts is hard at work developing the 77th edition of R.S. Yeoman’s Guide Book of United States Coins. They hail from every nook of the nation—big cities and small towns, north, south, east, and west—and from every corner and calling within the hobby community. Some are famous coin dealers who buy and sell legendary rarities. Some are major bullion retailers who move millions of dollars of gold and silver. Some focus on rarefied specialties like early copper coins or branch-mint gold pieces. Others sell meat-and-potato collector coins in “everyday” grades, Fine to Uncirculated. Some aren’t dealers at all, but are active collectors, researchers, and historians.
Each of them has the same goal at heart: To ensure the “Red Book,” as the best-selling annual guide is known, remains the most accurate, timely, and useful publication in the hobby, a role it’s filled since 1946.
This summer (late July of 2022), Whitman Publishing held a three-day “Red Book Editorial Summit” in the Bluegrass State of Kentucky. Jeff Garrett, senior editor of the Red Book since 2018, hosted Whitman’s president, publisher, and senior editor at the Lexington headquarters of Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries. The meeting included an immersive page-by-page study of every aspect of the Red Book in preparation for the 77th edition, which will be released in early 2023, bearing the cover date of 2024.
“We’ve held several of these Red Book Editorial Summits in recent years, mostly in Atlanta,” says Garrett, who became the Red Book’s senior editor after longtime editor Kenneth Bressett retired to the position of editor emeritus. (Retired should be put in quotes; Bressett is still active in the book’s annual production, reviewing pages and paying particular attention to the colonial sections.)
Garrett’s official involvement with the Red Book began as a pricing contributor in 2004, for the 58th edition. He was named the book’s valuations editor for the 59th edition and occupied that position through the 71st. Q. David Bowers, the “Dean of American Numismatics,” has been the Red Book’s research editor since the 59th edition.
This trio is a formidable corps helming the “bible of the hobby,” which has sold more than 25 million copies since its 1st edition. But the Red Book is much bigger than a three-man job. At Whitman, a team of in-house editors, associate editors, typesetters, data wranglers, production artists, and project managers keeps the Red Book running smoothly. The aforementioned 100-plus coin dealers, auctioneers, researchers, and other specialists are the engine that powers the book’s pricing and numismatic research. Members of the Rittenhouse Society and other numismatic groups are on call to answer questions. And—perhaps most importantly—there are the millions of coin collectors who have bought the annual guide, read it, used it, and rightfully feel that it’s their book. They’re our honorary editors and advisors, and their involvement is crucial.
Typographical errors in the Red Book are rare, but when one slips in, our faithful readers never fail to spot it! They’re also quick to share praise, give feedback on their favorite (or least favorite) sections, offer insight on ways to improve the book, and brainstorm ideas for new features.
The Red Book is truly the hobby’s book. If you’ve collected U.S. coins for 76 years or fewer, the Red Book has always been woven into the fabric of your collecting world. At Whitman Publishing, we give grateful thanks to everyone mentioned above, and especially to you—the coin collector—whether you live in a small town or a big city, and whether you’ve collected for decades or just started yesterday.
Dennis Tucker has served the hobby community as publisher of Whitman Publishing since 2004. His column “Notes Published” covers books and publishing in general, with a special emphasis on antiques and collectibles. Whitman is the Official Supplier of the congressionally chartered American Numismatic Association (online at www.money.org). The firm produces many standard references relating to the art and science of numismatics (the study of coins and related objects). Numismatics is a field that touches on American financial and banking history, economics, artistry and design, technology, mining and metallurgy, political history, society, and culture.
Jeff Shevlin says
Dennis, what a wonderful article about the making of the Red Book. The team you have assembled is want makes it work every year. I always look forward to getting my copy each year, particularly the Mega Red Book with the So-called Dollar section. Wonderful. Jeff Shevlin
Dennis Tucker says
Jeff, YOUR contributions to Mega Red in particular are fantastic! Thanks for the insight and experience you bring to the So-Called Dollars appendix — a highlight of every edition.