After a lapse of forty-five years, a second edition of So Called Dollars, the classic work by Harold E. Hibler and Charles V. Kappen i available from the Coin & Currency Institute, in a vastly different environment than its predecessor.
This category of crown-sized tokens, once ignored by nearly all and relegated to junk boxes and the biggest bulk lots at the end of an auction sale, have now achieved a status equal to other widely-collected areas of numismatics. It was the Fall of 1963, a collecting lifetime ago, that the Institute released the fist edition of the book. So-called dollars was an esoteric subject at the time, focusing on a specialized series of American exposition, commemorative and monetary medals approximating dollar size, and consequently the book languished in warehouses for decades. In fact, it only achieved widespread distribution when the publisher decided to acknowledge its losses and liquidated untold hundreds of copies at $1.25 each, ninety percent off the cover price of $12.50.
The 21st century is a different world. A so-called dollar has sold for over $60,000, the book is seen selling on E bay for over $100 and there has even been a journal devoted exclusively to to them. Knowledge and awareness of so-called dollars has increased geometrically, as have the number of collectors. The field has, in fact, become mainstream. The largest auction houses vie for consignments and the level of activity has yielded countless new types and varieties. What has not changed is that over forty years later, the Hibler & Kappen book remains the standard reference work on the subject with its “HK” numbers an instantly recognizable means of cataloging and identification. When So-Called Dollars was published it was the first, and it is still the only book to deal comprehensively with its subject matter. The book begins with the legendary Erie Canal Completion issues of 1826 and proceeds to catalog 135 years of the Golden Age of American history, all the way up to 1961.
Although there have been many propositions for reviving the book over the years, none were more than theoretical musings until two collectors, Tom Hoffman of Crystal Lake, IL and Jonathan Brecher of Cambridge, MA set the process in motion. They have been joined by two others, Dave Hayes and John Dean, to produce a remarkable new edition, of the sort that can only be the product of dedicated hobbyists who love their subject and see it as their obligation to share with others the knowledge gained from years of collecting. While the second edition holds true to the original in basic style and in substance, prices have skyrocketed and it offers much that is new. There are many more illustrations than in the first edition. In fact, virtually every type is now represented by a photograph. More historical information for the issues is presented in the text, which has been further expanded with additional listings of both previously unknown metal varieties and totally new items. The size of each item is now given in mm rather than in 16ths of an inch as in the 1963 edition. Each issue has been assigned a rarity rating of from R-1, indicating more than 5,000 known, to R-10, meaning “unique.” In addition, a loose-leaf price guide included in each book at no additional charge. The index has been expanded to include references to more subjects and places.