23/07/14 14:37 Filed in: Book
Polymer Bank Notes of the World
Stane Straus, Donald Ludwig, Marian Meyer, and Tigerson, 144 pages, soft cover, 297 x 212 mm, color illustrations, English, ISBN-13 9789619365908, €20 (plus shipping), firstname.lastname@example.org
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Reviewed by Owen W. Linzmayer
Polymer Bank Notes of the World is the definitive guide to one of the hottest numismatic fields: non-paper notes, be they Tyvek, polymer, or hybrid (combinations of paper and polymer). The new 2014 edition uses larger format pages than the preceding 2012 edition, and has expanded from 122 pages to 144 pages, with coverage of an additional 285 entries of both issued and promotional/test notes (created by security printing firms to show off their prowess and new anti-counterfeiting features).
Each note is illustrated in color, front and back. Below the illustrations are descriptions with some historical background about the vignettes on the notes, as well as detailed variety listings, each assigned their own unique Straus number (for example: Australia S1R3a), along with cross-references to Pick and The Banknote Book catalog numbers. Pricing in euros is given for uncirculated notes, and lesser grades in the few cases where pristine notes aren't readily available.
The lines devoted to describing the variations are somewhat dense and deciphering the frequent abbreviations requires a bit of mental gymnastics, but as a fellow cataloger with an interest in collecting these notes, I appreciate the authors' attention to details, accuracy, and specificity. Also well received are all the footnotes below the variety listings which provide additional information about the notes, helping put them into context and enhancing their appeal.
If you're one of the many people with a penchant for polymer, this catalog belongs in your reference library (it's a bargain at only 20 euros), and the accompanying web site (http://www.polymernotes.org) should be a frequent stop as you browse the web for the latest information.
World Paper & Polymer Uncut Banknote
K. N. Boon, 154 pages, soft cover, 297 x 210 mm, color illustrations, Chinese and English, ISBN 978-983-43313-4-4, US$15, www.3833.com
K. N. Boon's recently published book, World Paper & Polymer Uncut Banknote, is the first catalog devoted entirely to collectors of uncut sheets of notes, and as such it fills an interesting gap in the numismatic field of knowledge.
I had hoped to learn more about how and why uncut sheets are sold to collectors, mailing/storage/display options, deciphering plate and block nubmers, etc. Unfortunately, aside from a few pages of introductory text, there's not much prose in this book, the bulk of which is devoted to depictions of the banknote sheets along with brief descriptions and variety listings. The text is written primarily in English, with some material also in Chinese. For the most part, the English is serviceable, in spite of some typos and awkward phrases.
The banknote listings are segregated by substrate, with paper-based notes appearing first, followed by polymer-based notes at the end of the catalog. I would prefer to see all of the notes of a particular country listed together, but collectors who specialize in polymer issues may appreciate having these notes broken out into their own section.
Within the paper and polymer sections, the listings are organized alphabetically by country, then grouped by denominations (smallest to largest), each in chronological order. Unique note types are assigned their own KNB numbers, with lowercase variety letters appended to distinguish between sheets with different attributes. For example, KNB4a may refer to an uncut block of 4 notes, whereas KNB4b refers to a full uncut sheet of 45 notes. Alas, there are no cross-references to other catalog numbers of the underlying notes.
In most cases, blocks (mini-sheets) or full sheets of notes are illustrated, except when the author wasn't able to obtain such images. In those cases, an individual note is shown instead. I actually prefer this latter presentation because the note's design details can be seen, which is not the case when the sheets are reproduced greatly reduced in size. I hope the second edition of this book will include larger illustrations of the front and back of individual notes to each listing for the best of both worlds. Another improvement would be expanded descriptions of the notes. Many notes lack any descriptions at all, and for those that are described, the text is terse and typically applies only to the front; usually the backs are ignored altogether.
Each listing has columns for Date of Issue, Quantity Issued, Issued Price, and Market Price, with the last two values shown in Chinese yuan (RMB). Market prices are given for almost all listings, but in many cases the other columns are left blank. Hopefully further research will result in this information being added in future editions.
Unfortunately, some unscrupulous sellers cut notes from sheets in an attempt to create "errors" or rare prefix varieties which are then foisted upon unsuspecting buyers. To the author's credit, some listings include warnings about this practice, and some listings also indicate the prefixes found on the sheets, but it's unclear if these prefixes are exclusive to sheets. More detailed prefix information might allow for the easy identification of such doctored notes.
World Paper & Polymer Uncut Banknote is an excellent first attempt to systematically document an area of collecting that has heretofore been largely ignored by other catalogs. Collectors of banknote sheets will most definitely appreciate having this handsome, professionally printed, full-color volume in their reference library.