The old adage “Buy the book before you buy the coin” most certainly applies for those who wish to pursue tokens and exonumia. While there are vast quantities of books which have been published that address U.S. Federal emissions, comparatively very few references exist which address tokens and exonumia.
More and more everyday collectors, as well as esteemed numismatists, are pursuing exonumia. Whether such interests include Civil War Tokens, Mid-19th-Century Merchant tokens, Hard Times, Scrip, or 18th-Century Colonials, having sufficient reference materials is key.
Below are 14 “Must-Have” books which every exonumia enthusiast — whether starting out — or more experienced have on their personal library shelves.
Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins
Q.D. Bowers, Whitman Publishing, ©2009 – Hardcover, 332 pages
This book provides listings, illustrations, and attributions for American colonial emissions, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, New York, Fugio, and Nova Constellatios.
Other emissions, including English token imports, are also included.
Pricing is organized by grade and by variety.
Bowers introduces his Universal Rarity Scale within this book, and where applicable, rarities are noted for each emission. Standard Catalog of United States Tokens 4th Editioin
Standard Catalog of United States Tokens 1700-1900 4th Edition
Russell Rulau, Krause Publications, ©2004 – Softcover / PDF, 1248 pages
This tome of a reference provides listings for United States tokens beginning from the colonial period, all the way to the turn of the 20th century.
Sections within this guide include Early American, Hard Times, Merchant, Civil War, Patriotic, Cardboard, Trade, and Gay 1890s.
Where known, Rulau provides history and rarity ratings for tokens.
A comprehensive index at the back of the book is an invaluable took for cross-referencing tokens. The book is packed with tokens, and is over 1200 pages in length.
A Guide Book of United States Tokens and Medals, 1st Edition
Katherine Jaeger, Whitman Publishing, ©2008 – Softcover, 288 pages
An introductory guide to the various types of United States tokens and medals, Jaeger gently introduces collectors to exonumia.
Multiple subtopics of tokens, medals, and exonumia are covered, including Transportation, Coal, Scrip, Casino, Transportation, Washingtonia — as well as Early American, Hard Times, Civil War, and Trade.
Valuations and catalog numbers are provided.
The guide is a terrific starter for any collector interested in exploring tokens.
100 Greatest American Medals and Tokens, 1st Edition
Katherine Jaeger & Q.D. Bowers, Whitman, ©2007 – Hardcover, 119 pages
A beautifully assembled and illustrated book, this guide provides readers with superb photographic references for America’s 100 most popular and desired tokens.
In addition to its beauty, this guide provides collectors with high-resolution photographs of many token emissions — a terrific source for vetting tokens and medals before purchase.
Aside from the top 100 tokens and medals, the guide also lists other exonumia contenders which didn’t make the list, but are still worthwhile mentioning.
The Token: America’s Other Money
Edited by Richard G. Doty, American Numismatic Society, ©1994 – Hardcover
This book is more of an assemblance of essays and articles, rather than a front-to-back comprehensive tome.
Within the publication are various articles that discuss counterstamp tokens, Hard Times, Civil War, Encased Postage, and even replicas and copies.
Throughout the book are illustrated examples of various exonumia emissions, including counterstamps.
More importantly, the authors discuss the backgrounds and historical significance of each subcategory of emissions, and provide the overall historical context of the eras for when they were struck.
U.S. Civil War Store Cards, 2nd Edition
George & Melvin Fuld, Quarterman Publications, ©1975 – Hardcover, 652 pages
Literally thousands of Civil War Store Cards were emitted during the United States Civil War.
Facing a dire shortage of minor coinage due to hoarding, merchants and proprietors faced a difficult time conducting commerce during the era.
Their solution was to attain the help of diesinkers and engravers, and have their own coinages struck. Father and son team George and Melvin Fuld, early collectors of Civil War tokens, assembled the guide to provide a single-source reference for all of the various emissions and estimated rarities.
The book is organized by state and town.
Patriotic Civil War Tokens, 5th Revised Edition
George & Melvin Fuld, Civil War Token Society,©2006 – Hardcover, 435 pages
A similar endeavor to the Fulds’ Civil War Store Cards book, this reference provides collectors with a comprehensive catalog of all known Patriotic Civil War token dies.
Unlike Civil War store cards, Patriotic tokens are emissions which did not specifically identify a merchant or proprietor. They were a less costly solution for merchants, because the tokens were struck using stock dies, and did not require custom engraving.
Rarities and illustrations for each of the known patriotic dies, as well as known combinations are provided.
An additional section which discusses the various Civil War engravers provides readers with an appreciation for the craftsmanship that went into making each token.
Merchant and Privately Countermarked Coins
Gregory G. Brunk, World Exonumia Press, ©2003 – Hardcover, 475 pages
Numismatic interest in counterstamped coins is fastly gaining ground. Gregory Brunk’s book is the most comprehensive book to date that attempts to index and identify all known counterstamped coins.
During the 19th century, Merchants began to increasingly counterstamp circulating coinage that passed through their hands. An easy and affordable way to permanently mark coinage, merchants saw this as an opportunity to market and advertise their businesses without having to also undertake the expense of having their own custom storecards or tokens engraved and minted.
The book is an invaluable reference, and contains over 2,000 photographs of countermarked specimens. With over 13,500 unique listings, historical background and reference information is provided wherever possible.
Besides the United States, other countries are also covered, including the UK, Australia, and France.
The Standard Catalog of Encased Postage Stamps, 1st Edition
M.J. Hodder & Q.D. Bowers, Bowers & Merena, ©1989 – Hardcover, 192 pages
During the Civil War, the country experienced a crippling shortage of minor coinage. Due to the uncertainties, people began to hoard all of the United States coinage they could get their hands on.
First gold coins disappeared from circulation. Silver came next. And finally, even copper and brass coinage disappeared.
As with Civil War tokens, merchants began accepting alternative forms of payment for goods and services, including postage stamps.
This book details and lists the various devices used to encase postage stamps, which not only provided a means to protect fragile the stamps, but also provide advertising.
The Atwood-Coffee Catalogue of United States and Canadian Transportation Tokens, 6th Edition, Volume 1
J.M. Coffee & H.V. Ford, American Vecturist Association, ©2007 – Hardcover
Throughout the United States and Canada there exist thousands of various transportation services; many more which have existed and since disappeared over the last 200 years.
Most transportation companies and agencies emitted tokens as a means for passengers and riders to present fare.
This catalogue provides a single reference for all of those token emissions, and include tokens for early coach, omnibus, ferry, turnpike, and streetcar, up to and including those issued in more recent times for subways, trains, and trollies.
Listings are organized by state and province, as well as city and municipality.
Scrip: Trade Tokens Issued by United States Coal Mining Companies & Company Stores
Stuart E. Brown Jr., Virginia Publishing Company, ©1978 – Hardcover
This informative book, written by Stuart E. Brown Jr, discusses the history of coal company scrip and its use within the United States.
Stuart discusses the various varieties of scrip emissions, including those made of paper and cardboard, as well as those struck as metal tokens.
Applicable to all types of scrip, and not limited to coal scrip, a detailed evolution of metal token use in the U.S. is studied. From the time when scrip emerged as simple crude discs, through to their mintage in modern times, where they’ve become patented — replete with trademarks, counting devices, and cut outs.
Edkins Catalogue of United States Coal Company Store Scrip, 3rd Edition, Volumes I & II
B. Williams & S.Ratliff, National Scrip Collectors Association – Hardcover
Donald Edkins in the 1960s endeavored to create a census of all coal scrip produced within the United States. As more and more emissions were documented, the initiative grew and grew.
The hardbound Edkins Catalogue is the output of that endeavor. Organized by state, county, and town, the catalog lists all known coal company scrip emissions, based on company and value.
As more obscure emissions are discovered, new listings are added to the catalog. In fact, the catalog has grown so large that it now consists of two volumes.
Rarity estimates are also provided.
20,000 Coal Company Stores
Gordon Dodrill, Dusquene Lithographing Co., ©1971 – Softcover, 287 pages
A helpful accompaniment to the Edkins Catalogue, this guide provides a cross-referenced index of all known Coal Companies, Coal Company stores, states, towns, and counties.
Over the course of the nations mining history, thousands of fly-by-night coal companies sprang into existence, only to quickly go out of business after a short time.
This book written by Dodrill is the most comprehensive index of coal companies and coal stores known to date. For many researchers and genealogists, this guide is an invaluable tool.
More Adventures with Rare Coins
Q.D. Bowers, Bowers & Merena Publishing, ©2002 – Hardcover, 459 pages
Of the many books which David Bowers has written, this is one of the few which ties history and background to the various coins and tokens covered in the book.
Numismatics is not only the study of coinages and exonumia, but equally important the people, the businesses, and the history tied to them.
Collectors who appreciate the cultural and human aspects of coins and tokens, and their important ties to history, will appreciate this book.
Over time, additional books and references will be added to this section.