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Red Book for "Tokens and Medals"


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The Official Red Book: A Guide Book of United States Tokens and Medals by Katherine Jaeger, Forward by Q. David Bowers (Whitman Publishing LLC, 2008, $19.95, 304 pages.)


The rubric “tokens and medals” is the broadest in American numismatics. By comparison, the time-honored Red Book for coins focuses on the much narrower field of federal issues with nods to colonial coppers, pioneer gold and other tangents. Indeed, the Red Book for coins does include Hard Times Tokens, Civil War Tokens, but only by way of mention. The same can be said for this new book. Its 28 chapters encompass HTTs and CWTs, store cards, amusement tokens, love tokens, transportation, awards, art medals, space program commemoratives and so much more that a book ten times this size might be more appropriate. While every example cannot be listed, the important consideration is that the entire field be identified. This book does that quite well and would be an important addition to any numismatist’s bookshelf.


As collectors, we are accustomed to finding something like a Buffalo Nickel in change, checking to see how many digits appear in the date and then looking it up in the Red Book to find its relative value. That same process applies to the discovery of a non-coin, an exonumia, some token or medal that will not appear in the coin guides. This new book will help that identification.


Again to compare this new volume in the Red Book series with the granddaddy, specialists such as the Bust Half Nut Club and the Gobrecht Society know that the Whitman guides to American federal coinage only include the best-known varieties that are the introductory interests of those collectors. So, too, will specialists who pursue bridge tokens or presidential campaign medals, find that this Red Book only outlines the field, rather than filling it. Nonetheless, the scholarship is supported by an extensive bibliography of over 80 works and the narrative rests on another 88 citations.

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