Updated Catalog of Modern World Coins Released

Modern World Coins cover

Whitman Publishing announces the release of the 15th edition of A Catalog of Modern World Coins, 1850–1964, by R.S. Yeoman, edited by Arthur L. Friedberg. The 544-page book is available nationwide as of October 2023, in bookstores and online.

The revised and edited 15th edition features retail valuations by coin type for 300 nations and states, in up to four grade levels. Editor Arthur Friedberg and his team of experts from around the globe provide an accurate snapshot of the exciting market for more than 11,000 world coins.

The 1st edition of the Catalog of Modern World Coins was published in 1957 (at which time it listed coins from 1850 to 1955). Collectors quickly nicknamed it the “Brown Book,” after its cover color—similar to the “Red Book,” as author R.S. Yeoman’s Guide Book of United States Coins was popularly known.

Modern World Coins is an introductory coin book, a framework for organizing a collection of coins of the world by type or design. The editors have made every effort to illustrate as many coin types as possible. The book contains more than 7,300 actual-size coin photographs to aid in identification.

Coins are listed chronologically by nation, and grouped by metallic content, design, and denomination. Average retail values are shown for each type and denomination, in multiple grades. In addition, a substantial number of rare dates that sell for higher premiums are shown separately, just beneath their respective type-listing charts. Similarly, prices are given for nearly 800 Proof coins and Proof sets.

Modern World Coins is useful for beginner and advanced collectors as a handy source of information to supplement more complex books that list all dates, mints, and varieties. Friedberg, who has edited the book since the 1980s, says, “I have always enjoyed using the Catalog of Modern World Coins. The period of 1850 to 1964 is where you find the greatest concentration of collecting interest for world coins. There is a strong demand for a reasonably priced book that gives collectors all the information they need in a portable format that’s more concise than the larger telephone-book–sized references.”

Dozens of specialist dealers, collectors, researchers, and historians contributed their time and knowledge to make the 15th edition the most comprehensive and accurate to date.

One major upgrade in the 15th edition is the arrangement of the gross weights, finenesses, and net metal contents of every country’s silver and gold coins, 1850 to 1964, in both grams and troy ounces. In past editions these data, compiled in great detail by numismatic researcher Holland Wallace, were gathered in an appendix. In the 15th edition, this information was moved to each country’s catalog listing, for more convenient access. In almost every case these coin weights and finenesses are from official sources such as mint reports and other government publications.

Other major changes in the 15th edition include reorganization of the Canadian provinces, which are now listed under their own names (while cross-referenced under “Canada”); substantial reorganization of the coinage of China; and expansion of the listings for Colombia. Throughout, the typography of the book has been updated for improved readability.

As in prior editions, Modern World Coins includes coverage of 25 German princely states, free cities, and other independent bodies that issued their own coinage, from the Grand Duchy of Anhalt to the Kingdom of Wurttemberg. It also covers the coinage of 56 Indian princely states, from Alwar to Travancore, and 10 Mexican Revolutionary states, from Aguascalientes to Sinaloa. Medals, patterns, and tokens are generally excluded, but bullion issues are included for some of the popular series.

For researchers, the 15th edition includes an appendix of the coinage standards of the Latin (1865–1926) and Scandinavian (1874–1958) Monetary Unions; an alphabetical listing of world coin denominations, from the abbasi of Afghanistan to the Polish zloty; and an index for ease of looking up information.

R.S. Yeoman, the book’s original author, wrote about the appeal of world coins in 1984: “There are dozens of different ways that you can collect foreign coins. You can select gold coins of the world; crown-size coins (approximately U.S. silver-dollar size) from various countries; type coins of a particular country; commemorative coins; a single coin from each country; all types of coins from a single country or group of countries; or coins of a different variety or design—for example, coins with fishes on them, or coins with foreign rulers. As you get into it, you can view and consider many other areas.” He pointed out that most foreign coins “are not collected by date and mintmark, the way American coins are, but rather by type. It is for this reason that the [Yeoman and Krause-Mishler] numbering systems in this book are so useful. This is how most coins have been collected for years.”

“This handy volume is perfect for today’s world-coin hobby,” says Whitman publisher Dennis Tucker. He describes the book as “small enough to easily hold, carry, and read, but packed with useful photos, data, and valuations.”

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