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Beth Deisher Teaches Families How to Win “The Widow Game”

Beth Deisher’s Cash In Your Coins: Selling the Rare Coins You’ve Inherited has been released in a new third edition by Whitman Publishing. The 304-page volume is available online and in bookstores and hobby shops nationwide. Here, Whitman publisher Dennis Tucker recalls how the book came to be.

Cash In Your Hands book cover

Beth Deisher’s groundbreaking Cash In Your Coins was first published in June 2013. Before that, occasional articles and columns and a few books gave guidance to inheritors finding themselves in possession of a rare-coin collection. David L. Ganz and Q. David Bowers (each a past president of the American Numismatic Association) have written on the subject. The 90-page Rare Coin Estate Handbook (Halperin, Ivy, and Rohan, 2000) focused on estate-planning for active collectors. In 2010 professional numismatist Jeff Ambio wrote What to Do With Granddaddy’s Coins.

Then in 2012 Beth Deisher retired as Coin World’s editor. She left that post with decades of real-world experience answering questions asked not only by collectors, but also by the spouses and children who inherited their coin collections. Beth brought the perfect mix of talent and expert knowledge to a new full-length book idea. “The premise is if you don’t know what you have, and you don’t know its value, then you’re at a disadvantage when it comes to selling,” she said. “My book’s purpose is to help readers approach selling with confidence.”

We envisioned a volume of several hundred pages, with explanations of the difference between wholesale and retail, how to use price guides, and how to create different types of inventories; full-color illustrations of every U.S. coin to help non-collectors identify their property; and information about tax laws and their consequences. It would be written not from a dealer’s perspective or from a collector’s perspective, but for people who inherit coins and know virtually nothing about them.

At the June/July 2013 Summer Seminar of the American Numismatic Association, at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, I co-taught a course with Beth, Kenneth Bressett, and Robert Hoge on writing, research, editing, and publishing. During the seminar I spoke with many dealers and collectors, and it was gratifying to hear, over and over, “I’m so glad Beth wrote Cash In Your Coins.” Her book was fresh off the presses, and it was already a topic of vibrant conversation.

Discussing the book that summer with Wayne Homren, editor of The E-Sylum (the online journal of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society), I remarked:

Collectors’ widows, children, and other heirs are one obvious audience for Cash In Your Coins. But equally I feel it’s a book for collectors themselves—not necessarily to learn about the latest VAMs or American Silver Eagle sets, but to keep in the safe-deposit box along with their collections. It’s peace of mind for them, knowing that Beth Deisher will guide their families when the time comes. “The widow game” is how one dealer referred to the treatment dished out by unscrupulous hotel-ballroom buyers and other fleece artists. Beth has given the widows a way to fight back!

I’ve also heard from longtime dealers and collectors who like having a single resource that explains capital gains, insurance, declarations of value in an estate inventory, the effects of recent legislation, etc. Two examples: the new tax rates and thresholds that affect collectors, set by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012; and the 3.8% tax that goes into effect December 31 of this year. Not surprisingly, many collectors aren’t up to date on this kind of legislation. Beth explains it all with the skill and clarity of a longtime journalist.

The first edition of Cash In Your Coins was praised in reviews in print and online, and it won awards including “Best Specialized Book, Numismatic Investments” from the Numismatic Literary Guild. It quickly sold out its substantial first print run. In September 2014 we published an expanded second edition, with new case studies and illustrations, a new chapter on taxes, and other updates. Both editions went through multiple printings.

Cash In Your Coins clearly fills a need within the hobby community. Given the popularity of the first two editions and, now in 2019, publication of the third, I’m pleased that the book has taken its place among Whitman Publishing’s list of “evergreen” titles. And I’m thankful that Beth Deisher, who in recent years has spearheaded the national conversation around anti-counterfeiting education, continues to be a leader in our field, looking out for average collectors and their families.

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