Krause Publications is one of the leading numismatic publishing companies. It publishes a wide range of coin and paper money books. Its most well-known line is probably the standard catalog series of world coin catalogs.
That series, which is divided into volumes that cover a century at a time, has served for decades as the leading world coin catalog used by world coin dealers and collectors in the U.S. and other countries.
The volumes in this series, which cover each century since the 17th, are now also released in electronic format as a CD.
The volume covering the 17th century received an award from the Numismatic Literary Guild during the recent ANA World Fair of Money in Philadelphia.
World coins have been a real growth industry in recent decades, as countries all over the world discovered that they can issue attractive coins in small numbers that will excite collectors and produce substantial revenue streams.
As a result, an enormous amount of coins have been issued since the start of the 20th century. Krause therefore decided about seven years ago to issue a new catalog for the period since 2001, separate from its 20th century volume.
Like its predecessors the new volume, the 2013 edition, was issued during the summer months. It provides a superb panorama of the coins issued by every country in the world since 2001. It is the seventh edition of this volume.
The book includes 12,500 coin photos and runs 909 pages. Each year’s volume has been larger than the previous edition, but even more so than is the case with other coin catalogs because so many world coins are currently being issued.
The standard catalog series is prepared by a team that is led by editor George S. Cuhaj and market analyst Thomas Michael. As I understand it, this team updates information throughout the year in Krause’s Numismaster (www.numismaster.com) coin database, which is subscription-based, though some information is available for free. The updated information in the Numismaster system is used for the various world coin catalogs in the standard catalog series.
World coin collectors who specialize in current issues will find the book very useful. For people who buy and sell world coins these volumes are indispensable. They compile an enormous amount of information in one volume, and it is interesting just to browse through the book and see the amazing variety of world coins being issued.
Some people, especially more traditional numismatists and others who are more interested in older coins, feel that modern world coins are boutique items, or are really more like medals because so many of the coins are commemorative issues that do not circulate. In addition, the tendency to create demand for these coins by issuing them in small numbers has also been criticized.
But the fact remains that more and more people collect modern world coins each year. And with people all over the planet chasing items like the low-mintage coins issued by the Perth Mint in Australia, demand and prices for these products are increasing.
There is, however, a difference between a coin like a 2007 fractional silver Libertad from Mexico, which is the key date in the fractional Libertad series with mintages of only 3500 per coin, and faddish-themed pieces issued in small numbers that simply don’t have the same kind of long-term collector demand as something like Libertads or Perth's Lunar coins. As Steve Estes told me recently, the trick is figuring out which country's coins are most worth collecting.
Getting back to the Krause catalog, there is no question that this series is essential for serious world coin collectors. There is no comparable series, particularly one that is so highly regarded, and which has been issued for so many years.
And there is all kinds of information included that helps collectors identify coins, determine their value, and learn more about the coins that interest them. It is also much more economical than acquiring many different specialized books dealing with coins from different regions and countries. Krause also publishes such books.
But there is something else about these Krause catalogs that I have noticed for years that has bothered me, and that is that the valuation information is sometimes not accurate. Often the values are substantially too low.
There are lots of reasons why it is probably close to impossible to provide updated and accurate pricing information for so many coins because of constantly-changing precious metal prices, currency values, and coin market conditions.
But there are just too many coins listed at values that have always puzzled me, which are typically repeated from one volume to the next. This includes especially coins which are listed below melt value relative to the precious metal prices used at the time of publication.
I know how much world coin dealers rely on the Krause volumes in their work, and I think it is important to try to provide them with as accurate information as possible about how much different coins are worth.
The Krause series publishes retail prices, those which a buyer would typically pay at a coin shop. Those who purchase from other sources such as auctions, or in the wholesale market, typically are able to purchase the same coins for less.
In my own efforts at trying to correctly value world coins, I have found it very useful to compliment catalog values with actual selling prices from e-Bay and other auctions to see what prices the coins are trading for in such platforms.
But as an overall reference source for world coins, there is just no substitute for the Krause standard catalogs.