Recently, I was sent a copy of Coins: Questions & Answers, Fifth Edition, by Cliff Mishler. Mishler is the current president of the American Numismatic Association.

Coins: Questions & Answers can best be described as a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) of coins with sections for paper money, Civil War era money whose section is entitled “Money of the War Between the States,” exonumia, and foreign coins. Each section covers the questions every collector should know about and even bring tidbits that escape even the most seasoned collected. For example, I learned that the word “Liberty” has been used on every coin except the Flying Eagle Cent and the Shield Nickel. It was thought the eagle and the union shield would satisfy the requirement.

For each coin type, the book seem to cover the basic information and some other fun facts about U.S. coins, including my favorite: which is the only coin with the portrait of the same person on the obverse and reverse? If you did not answer the Lincoln Memorial Cent, last struck in 2008, then maybe you should pick up a copy of the book!

One area that the book falls short is in the sections after the coins. There is a history of currency and questions I have seen on public forums that are not covered in this book. Some of the questions that are in the FAQ Library one the Bureau of Engraving and Printing website has some additional items that should appear in the book. One question that I people send me is what all the elements are on the U.S. Federal Reserve Note. These are not intuitive elements and I even forgot what each means (I use this page). An idea would be to produce a similar book for currency, separate from the coins.

Other sections do have enough information for a general purpose book. I am sure that there will be collectors looking for the more information on those topics. For those, Whitman does point to other books in its collation for more information. While they do this for the currency section, I think that currency is more mainstream that expanding this section would make the book more complete.

My one complaint is that the book does not have an index. While the reader can find the general area of their question using the table of contents, it would make a better reference if it included a fully referenced index.

Coins: Questions & Answers should not be your only reference, especially without an index, but it should be one of the books on your shelf. The answers are clear, concise, and those that require more than a paragraph are well written. For this book, I grade it MS66* giving points off for not having an index and the need to beef up the currency section. But like any coin with a star grade, it has good eye appeal and worth adding to your collection.

Book image courtesy of Whitman Publishing.

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