• COLLECTING RED BOOKS, Continued, Part 2

        COLLECTING RED BOOKS, Continued
        Frank J. Colletti
        The last time we discussed trying to assemble a collection of "A Guide Book of United States Coins". As you saw, there are some very valuable editions that an astute collector may be able to acquire, often for very modest outlays of money. Remember, the 1947 (first edition) is considered the key to the set and is worth over $100 even in just fair condition. Other editions, such as the third and fifth are also valued well over $250 each, depending upon condition. This time we’ll take a look at other possible collectibles in this series.

        For those who were luck enough to attend the 1987 American Numismatic Convention’s Dinner Banquet in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that year, there was a very special surprise awaiting them. For the first time ever, Whitman Publishing decided to present the attendees with a specially designed Guide Book with a different cover for the event. These honored the 95th Anniversary of the ANA, and three noted numismatists from Wisconsin, R. S. Yeoman, author of the Guide Book, Chester Krause and Henry O. Granberg. [Mr. Granberg was deceased at the time of the convention.] It has been stated that only 500 of these special editions were printed, although many collectors (myself included) believe that the correct number is closer to 350 pieces. At the time many attendees may not have realized what they were getting, and today these pieces are very scarce.
        Unless the original recipients are holding them for their collections, there are very few known, and they are currently valued at $1,000. For those who were smart, they took the time to have R.S. Yeoman, who attended the dinner and convention, sign their edition of the book. In fact, there are known copies with Yeoman and Chester Krause’s signature, along with other numismatic dignitaries. These signed copies may sell for as much as $2500 in a properly promoted auction.

        For those who read the last column, the first in this series, you may remember that I mentioned buying old editions of the Guide Books in strange places like garage sales, flea markets and library sales. Well, not too long ago one lucky collector was able to purchase a 1987 edition of the Guide Book signed by R. S. Yeoman and Chester Krause of $25 along with four other signed editions. Upon receiving it, the collector realized that it was the special ANA 1987 edition. He has already refused an firm offer of $1500 for the book. So, treasures may be found in many places. It is with knowledge that we realize the potential of our purchases.

        Since that original dinner, there have been four other ANA special editions (in 1992, 2002, 2007 and 2008) but none of the others come close to the value of this first Special edition. The next most valuable is the 1992, which currently lists at $275. Perhaps the best deal of all is the 2008, Milwaukee ANA edition. I was fortunate to attend the convention and dinner that year and received a copy. Currently it lists at only $40, which is inexplicable. There were about 500 pieces made and at least one box of 48 was lost in shipping and another box was water damaged during storage. The only reason for the low value is that many collectors are not aware of the existence of the edition at this time. It would be a wonderful piece to start your collection.

        In addition to the ANA editions mentioned above, there have been a number of others. In 1997 a special leather cover was produced in honor of the 50th anniversary. There were only 500 made and it originally sold for $24.95, currently it is valued at $125, or more. Then, there is the SS Central America edition, honoring the find of the treasure ship. No one is sure how many were made and it is readily available on the internet for about $20. In fact, one seller had an original carton available for purchase for $240, I passed on that one.

        Then, there is the 2005 FUN [Florida United Numismatists, one of the largest coin shows in the country each January] show edition. There were about 1,100 pieces released and many were given away to Young Numismatists in Florida. Not many have reentered the secondary market and they are somewhat difficult to obtain. About four a year appear at auction, and in nice mint condition they should be worth about $120 or more. If you are able to buy one signed by Ken Bressett, the editor of the Guide book, it would be worth a nice premium over the regular edition and should be worth $150 or more.

        There was a second 2007 ANA edition, given out at the ANA’s summer program, and is also scarce, with 500 pieces released. Each copy had a special imprint on the front and back covers and a special bookplate signed by editor Ken Bressett, and was individually numbered. Since it was a limited distribution, there haven’t been many available on the market, and the few that have appeared have sold for in excess of $100.

        There was also a 1947 "Tribute" edition that was released in 2007, a reprint of the 1947 edition, with additional color pictures in the rear. There were two releases: the first was a limited edition, leather bound, limited to 500 signed copies, it was an instant sellout. Originally it sold for $49.95, today it will easily sell for $110, if you can find a copy. Whitman also released the same ‘Tribute’ edition, regular hardcover, unsigned, for $17.95, this is still available, and is an interesting addition to your collection.

        Starting in 2005 Whitman Publishing decided to start releasing the "A Guide Book of United States Coins" in a large format leather bound limited edition. Each copy is hand signed by the editor, Ken Bressett, and individually numbered from 1 to 3,000. They originally sold for $69.95 and were good sellers. This set makes an attractive addition to your collection of regular editions at a modest investment. They are all still available from book sellers today, and only the 2005 is priced at a modest premium. In 2007 and 2008 Whitman decided to help the fund raising of two numismatic societies and issued special editions of these leather books they were the and one for the National Literary Guild and the American Numismatic Society . The large leather editions for the NLG were given out as banquet gifts at their meeting in Milwaukee, in August, 2007, there were a total of 125 pieces made. The next day they were offered for sale, starting at $400. Since then copies have sold for $800 and more. In January,2008, at the ANS meeting in New York, the other special edition was distributed. There were only 250 specially numbered copies of this edition made and extra copies were offered by the Society for $350 after the event.

        The ANS edition is very scarce, and only one has been offered at auction since the event. That piece sold for under $200, but it is believed that was because the bidders had no idea what the seller was offering. In the future, as additional copies become available, they will fetch far higher premiums. They are currently valued at $800 each and good luck finding one of them.

        At this time Whitman has not announced any plans to offer special editions in the near future, but keep an eye open, you never know when it may happen. The above editions were released without any special fanfare and the recipients usually obtained theirs without any notice. Next time we’ll look at some different Guide Book items and a special surprise announcement.

        #1: 1987 ANA SPECIAL EDITION
        #2 The ANA 100th Anniversary Special Edition
        #3: 2005 FUN SHOW EDITION
        #4: 1997 50th Anniversary Edition
        1987 ANA Special Edition -- the 1st!

        The ANA 100th Anniversary Edition

        The 1997 50th Anniversary Leather Edition:

        The FUN SHow Special Edition:

        The SS Central America

        Great Cover!