18th edition of Standard Catalog of World Paper Money now available

The 18th edition of Krause’s Standard Catalog of World Paper Money carries a list price of $70, but this 1,160-page black-and-white paperback without PDF version on CD-ROM can be ordered from Amazon for only $44.10 with free shipping. Of course, I’d prefer everyone purchase a subscription to my own catalog, The Banknote Book, but if you are inclined to buy the latest SCWPM, please support BanknoteNews.com by ordering from Amazon.

Simply put, the 18th edition of the SCWPM is another dog’s breakfast from Krause; a few nuggests of new material mixed into a warmed-over mess of dubious content from past editions. While there are a few entries for notes dated as recently as 2011, the updates are uneven. Qatar and United Arab Emirates, just to name a few, are missing new note types which were issued four years ago. There are literally hundreds of new note types and varieties issued over the past few years which haven’t made it into this new edition (The Banknote Update contains 70 pages of images and info missing from the 18th edition of the SCWPM). Of those that have been added, very few are illustrated, and the descriptions of same are extremely bare bones, often containing erroneous information, such as incorrect dates.

The many mistakes I uncovered on a cursory examination of the new catalog leads me to believe that Krause doesn’t bother verifying information submitted by contributors, and almost certainly hasn’t compiled high-resolution images of notes to double-check details such as dates, signatures, and security features. How else can you explain listing substantially revised note types as varieties of older issues? For example, several of Nigeria's current polymer issues are listed as mere date and signature varieties of paper notes.

Krause continues to employ the practice of assigning Pick numbers to “expected new issues” which history has proven often aren’t forthcoming and leads to vestigal listings in the catalog that take years to remove, if ever. Case in point, Nigeria's Pick 31, a non-existant 2-naira note dated 2006, which has been wrongly included in the catalog since the 15th edition. It's joined this year by South Sudan’s 50-piaster note, listed as Pick 4, even though this denomination was never issued after being dropped in favor of a coin. Given its poor track record of cleaning up its past mistakes, Krause should adopt the simple rule, “When in doubt, leave it out.” Much better to be incomplete or a bit late than to be flat-out wrong.

Don’t get me started on the values for the other denominations from South Sudan, none of which reflects true market values, and most of which are far below face values. On the flip side there are many countries where notes are valued at large multiples of the current going rate. Don't believe me? Search for "CV" (catalog value) in eBay listings. You'll find thousands of listings where the sellers are tacitly advertising that the SCWPM valuations are grossly inflated.

The only people who should consider buying the 18th edition are banknote dealers, because like it or not, currently Pick numbers are the most common shorthand method used to track inventories. If you need to know the Pick number/letter which has been assigned to a new note, the SCWPM is the only game in town. But if you're a collector who cares about having an up-to-date catalog with beautiful notes rendered in full color, accurate valuations, complete signature tables, detailed descriptions, and so much more, I humbly suggest you try The Banknote Book instead.