January 6, 2010 – Whitman Publishing has released the 15th title in its Bowers Series of numismatic references: the Guide Book of Franklin and Kennedy Half Dollars, by Rick Tomaska. The 304-page softcover book is available online (including at WhitmanBooks.com) and from booksellers nationwide. It retails for $19.95. A special Limited Edition of 2,000 individually numbered and autographed hardcover copies is available directly from Tomaska’s R & I Coins.
Rick Tomaska is well known as a coin dealer specializing in high-grade Proofs in particular. In the late 1980s and early 1990s he championed the recognition of cameo and deep cameo Proof designations on NGC and PCGS holders. Later he advocated for similar recognition of the Full Bell Lines (FBL) designation for Franklin half dollars. He has written for The Numismatist, Coin World, Numismatic News, and other trade and hobby publications.
Award-winning numismatist Q. David Bowers wrote the guide’s foreword. “Between these two covers is just about everything you ever wanted to know about Franklin and Kennedy half dollars, and more than you ever imagined existed,” said Bowers.
Whitman publisher Dennis Tucker notes that Franklin and Kennedy half dollars are growing in popularity, judging by letters, emails, and phone calls the company receives from collectors. “Whether you have $50 a month to build your collection or $10,000, you’ll find challenges and rewards in these series,” Tucker said.
The book includes technical information on how Proof coins and Special Mint Sets are produced; the preparation of dies and planchets, and their influence on the finished coin; press operation and die maintenance; and potential imperfections during and after minting.
Collector topics include factors that affect Proof grades; the grader’s tools; how to determine cameo contrast; and market realities like the significance of depleted rare-coin reserves, and certified coins cracked out of their slabs and resubmitted for attempted upgrades. Tomaska shares decades of insight on the Cameo, Deep Cameo, and Ultra Cameo designations.
The main catalog of the book is a coin-by-coin study by date, mintmark, and die variety. Franklin half dollars are analyzed in 115 pages, and the Kennedy series in 123 pages. These illustrated sections cover mintages, certified populations, values in multiple grades, variety characteristics, tips for smart buying, strike characteristics, and other aspects of collecting.
Two appendices round out the book. Appendix A is a gallery of beautifully toned coins of each series, with 70 remarkable full-color, enlarged photographs. Appendix B is a compilation of mintages and valuations, expanding on the data presented in the main catalog.
If you are interested in buying that book, click here.