ARTICLE SPOTLIGHTS RED BOOK COLLECTOR SCOTT WHITE
The E-Sylum (6/13/2010)
Scott's dream collection, and the one he has put the most time and energy into completing, isn't a coin collection at all, but a collection of books about coin collecting. To be precise, Scott's most elusive collecting endeavor was to compile a complete collection of the U.S. Coins "Red Books," properly titled A Guide Book of United States Coins by R.S. Yeoman, and edited in recent decades by Kenneth Bressett.
The Red Book has been called the "coin collector's bible" because it is the most widely used U.S. coins price guide in the world. The first edition of the Red Book was published in 1947 to great acclaim by the coin collecting community. The first press run of 9,000 copies quickly sold out, necessitating a second press run of 9,000 more. Copies of this first edition are listed in the Red Book itself for $1,200 to $1,500 each, but anybody who has tried to buy a nicely preserved copy will assure you you'll pay much more than that to obtain one.
The second edition of the Red Book, updated for 1948, had a press run of 22,000 copies, and although exact press run figures aren't available for most years following that, the Red Book steadily grew in popularity and sales. By 1965, an astounding 1.2 million copies of the Red Book were printed for the 18th annual edition!
There have been several special editions published over the years with press runs ranging from 500 to 1,500 copies. These special editions typically have the same content as the regular editions for that year, differing only in the covers they got. Most of the special Red Books were issued in conjunction with the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and available only to people who attended that years' annual ANA convention banquet. Even with these small press runs and very limited distribution, the special Red Book editions weren't overly difficult to find, if one was persistent. All except one, that is...
The highly sought after 1987 40th Anniversary Red Book with the Special ANA Cover has emerged as the rarest Red Book ever published. Although 500 copies were printed and distributed to the banquet attendees at the 1986 ANA convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, contemporary reports indicate that a large number of people simply left their copies behind, lying on the tables. There is no reason to doubt these accounts, because the 1987 Special ANA Red Book is very hard to find! In fact, Scott, (whom we met at the beginning of this article,) searched for many years to find a copy of this extremely rare and elusive edition to complete his collection of every Red Book ever published.
Now that Scott has completed his Red Book collection, he can't rest on his laurels, because several new editions of the Red Book have been coming out every year for the past few years. For 2007, there were eight different editions of the Red Book! These included variations such as hardcover, softcover, spiral binding, and leather covers; tribute editions to the original 1947 Red Book (in hardcover and limited edition leather covers;) and special editions for Michigan and for the ANA. With so many different versions of the Red Book coming out each year now, Scott might be spending more money on Red Books than he does on the coins they describe!
To read the complete article, see: A Complete Collection of U.S. Coins Red Books - U.S. Soldier Completes His Dream Collection (coins.about.com/od/uscoins/a/rareredbooks.htm)