by Dennis Tucker, Publisher, Whitman Publishing
For several years when I was a kid, my father and I would plant, nurture, and eventually harvest a big vegetable garden. It was something special he and I shared—my one older brother still living at home didn’t really take to it; my mother helped, but she focused mainly on her flower gardens. It was Dad and I who planned the vegetable garden, plotted its layout on graph paper late each winter or early in the spring, and did most of the work.
Now, umpteen years later, Dad still grows a garden each year. When we catch up by phone or in person, I get an update on how everything is doing—what’s growing well or poorly, what’s been affected by the weather, what’s seeing a good yield.
How do you measure the grassroots health of a hobby (like coin collecting)? I’ve always felt that the number, depth, and quality of books, magazines, and other products that serve a hobby make good measuring sticks. These are better gauges than just looking at auction records and top-end sale prices. It’s exciting that a 1938-S Mercury dime in MS-68 recently sold for $364,250—even non-collectors are intrigued by such an event. But that’s only one numismatic transaction out of tens of thousands that occur every day.
Walk into a Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million—the nation’s two largest bookstores—and you’ll see shelves full of hobby references and storage supplies. Those of us who collect coins, medals, tokens, paper money, and other numismatic treasures have a bumper crop to choose from these days.
The price of gold rises and falls, hot investments come and go, the United States Mint releases exciting new coins and medals that capture the popular imagination, market bubbles expand and pop. While all this is happening, the underlying health of the hobby—judging from the wealth of related “stuff” that helps collectors assemble, display, and enjoy their collections—is quite strong.
In the coming months you’ll continue to see a diverse library of books from Whitman Publishing in your local bookstores and hobby shops, and online. Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker have ranked the 100 Greatest Modern World Coins in a fascinating new study. Bill Bierly’s In God We Trust goes in-depth in a numismatic and historical exploration of the national motto. The year’s new Red Book, Blue Book, and Mega Red will be on bookshelves before you know it. A bit later in the year, we’ll have the latest volume of the Cherrypickers’ Guide, a new edition of Roger W. Burdette’s Guide Book of Peace Dollars, and many other books. Rumor has it the definitive autobiography of Q. David Bowers is in the offing! Postcard collectors will have a colorful new large-sized reference to enjoy. We’re working on new books in the world-coin arena, and also paper money, exonumia, and American colonials.
That’s not to mention what’s planned and in the works for 2021, 2022, and beyond.
Albums and folders continue to be popular, from the classic blue Whitman folder to handsome leatherette albums. Coin maps, plastic tubes, 2×2-inch holders, display cases, and similar products give many options to the enthusiast. Whitman’s and other companies’ coin, paper currency, and stamp supplies offer excellent ways to showcase your collections.
Numismatics is alive and well. Keep an eye open and an ear to the ground as the hobby continues to grow and change. We’ll get the word out as new books and products become ready for you.