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The Coin Collector's Survival Manual by Scott A. Travers

My #1 Favorite Coin Collecting Book

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating
User Rating 4 Star Rating (3 Reviews)

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Coin Collectors Survival Manual, 6th Ed.

Cover art for the Coin Collector's Survival Manual, 6th Ed., by Scott A. Travers; published by Random House.

Photo courtesy of Random House / House of Collectibles

TheCoin Collector's Survival Manual, 6th Ed., (ISBN 978-0-375-72305-6), written by Scott A. Travers and published by Random House in Oct. 2008.

The main difference between Scott A. Travers' Survival Manual and just about every other coin collecting book is that you're dead without it. Seriously, the Survival Manual provides actionable information that you can use today to make money buying and selling coins. Regular collectors become insiders, and learn to avoid being taken advantage of. Survival Manual is far and away my #1 favorite (and most highly recommended) coin collecting book! This review explains why.

The Coin Collector's Insider's Guide

The Coin Collector's Survival Manual is one of the best how-to guides for the coin collector I have ever seen. Travers is fearless in revealing the behind-the-scenes realities of the coin dealing profession. For example, he tells you how to win at the "crack out game" (where dealers remove coins from the grading service holders to resubmit them for a higher grade.) He shares the secret to removing copper spots from gold coins, a technique he says a leading dealer offered $10,000 to learn! In a chapter called, "Myths That Can Cost Millions," Travers refutes the conventional wisdom of six "facts" that coin dealers love for you to believe.

The book is generously illustrated with black and white photographs, plus there is a 16-page section in the middle of the book that has beautiful full-color photos on high-quality paper. Travers includes a number of charts and lists in the Survival Manual, including one that shows the value of the actual silver in most U.S. and Canadian coins at various silver spot prices. Another chart recommends the best coins to "crack out" and resubmit to grading services in the hopes of profiting from the higher grade. Although the charts and lists are great, the value of this book is mostly in the text. Travers shares some of his biggest and most profitable insider's secrets to buying and selling coins in today's cut-throat numismatic marketplace.

New Content in the Sixth Edition

Travers first published the Coin Collector's Survival Manual in 1984. It was immediately hailed as a remarkable resource for those who wanted to understand the inner workings of the coin business without "paying their dues" for many years to gain the necessary knowledge. Travers has continued to update and refine the material in the Survival Manual, so that 25 years after the first edition, the sixth edition has a great deal of important new material augmented with the very best of his classic, common-sense teachings.

New content in the sixth edition includes:

  • Large color photographs of counterfeit PCGS holders, so you can compare them to the genuine slabs you have and learn the basic diagnostics.


  • Color photos of genuine and fake NGC slab elements side-by-side, again for diagnostic purposes.


  • A new chapter on how to get the most from recently-begun services such as CAC and NCA.


  • Another completely new chapter on how to utilize the legal system in protecting your coins.


  • Significantly updated information about removing coins from PCGS and NGC holders and sending them back in for higher grades.


  • How to easily open PCGS and NGC holders in order to remove the coins without damaging them.
This list is just a summary of some of the new content in the sixth edition. There are several dozen important newly-updated sections in the book over the fifth edition.

Chapter Listing For the Coin Collector's Survival Manual - 6th Ed.

Chapter 1 - Collecting Coins Profitably

Chapter 2 - Reading a Coin Like a Book

Chapter 3 - Bigger and Brighter - Grading tips

Chapter 4 - Grading of U.S. Coins - Including detecting doctored coins and grading difficult types

Chapter 5 - Grading Services and the Plastic Revolution - How PCGS and NGC work, and how to avoid problems and counterfeit slabs

Chapter 6 - New Services Land a 1-2 Punch to Protect You

Chapter 7 - Beauty and the Best & Authenticating Proofs - How to tell Proof from Prooflike, etc.

Chapter 8 - Telling Fact From Fiction - Counterfeit and Altered Coins

Chapter 9 - Making Money in Coins Right Now - One of Travers' best talents: teaching step-by-step how to cash in

Chapter 10 - Making Sure the Price Is Right - Secret dealer tip sheets and other resources

Chapter 11 - Registry Sets Get High Grades - Registry set secrets and pitfalls to avoid

Chapter 12 - Secrets of Cherrypicking - What to look for and how to get away with your finds undetected

Chapter 13 - "Insider Trading" of Rare Coins - Break into the inner circle

Chapter 14 - Dangers of Buying coins on the Internet and By Mail - Confessions of a rip-off coin salesman and how to avoid being a victim

Chapter 15 - Cashing In at Shows - Coin show tips you never even imagined

Chapter 16 - Selling High, Higher, Highest - How to maximize profits

Chapter 17 - Don't Let Uncle Sam Pick Your Pocket

Chapter 18 - Myths That Cost Millions

Chapter 19 - Endangered Coins - Coin cleaning, restoration and preservation

Chapter 20 - Security After 9/11 and Katrina

Chapter 21 - Using the Legal System to Protect Your Coins

The Coin Collector's Survival Manual - Bottom Line

There's an old saying in coin collecting that you should "buy the book before you buy the coin." If you only ever buy one coin collecting book, this book should be it! There is simply nothing else like it on the market, because nobody is willing to expose the dirty little secrets of the coin dealing business the way Scott A. Travers does. Travers has an amazing ability to get people to confide in him, on the record, which is what makes the Coin Collector's Survival Manual so remarkable.

If you've ever wondered what PCGS founder David Hall has to say about people who crack the coins out of PCGS holders and resubmit them over and over again, hoping for a higher grade, Travers has the interview with Hall on pages 161-163! How about Hall's insights about how coins are doctored (deceptively altered) and then foisted off on PCGS? See the Q&A interview on pages 312-314.

Have you ever wondered how a guy like Heritage Auctions founder and CEO Jim Halperin gets grades like MS-66 on coins that others must settle for MS-64's on? The explanation can be found on pages 149-159.

The Coin Collector's Survival Manual takes you behind the scenes to empower you with information about how coin transactions really happen. Travers provides easy-to-follow and fascinating-to-read instructions about the things that really matter - buying the right coins, for the right prices, from the right people. Whether you collect coins as a hobby, or put them aside as an investment, the Survival Manual is a "must read."

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User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 2 out of 5
Coin Collector's Survival Manual, Member tojalond

although i respect mr. travers knowledge and expertise in coin collecting, i found the book depressing. there are many coin collectors that do not even have a professionally graded coin. they do it for fun, as a hobby that they enjoy. reading his book would discourage any new comer to begin coin collecting. the book depicts coin collecting as cut throat business with dishonest people ready to take your money. i would advise young people not to read it. if they do, chances are they will not want to make coin collecting their hobby.

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