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USPI: Philippine Coinage Under American Sovereignty (a book by Yap and Bantugan)

(this piece was written last February 2019)

I finally attended my very first coin auction last Sunday at the Ortigas Library, and all i could say is there definitely was a lot of ENERGY. Coin collectors, coin hustlers and dealers everywhere. Energy from all corners of the room. Whispers in the corner and sales pitches everywhere. Not to mention your occasional trade and sales extending to the nearby McDonalds a half a skip away. It was scary at first, given that in a situation like that it would have been easy to be carried away. But, I went there for one specific reason, and I left doing just that (except maybe for an 8R Peruvian CM coin that has a Y35a.3 (pic 2) variant code, which was casually shown...and which I casually bought).

I went to the auction to pick up the latest Yap-Bantugan book collaboration, this time on USPIs. To be honest, this book was the major reason that I got into USPI coin collecting. When someone whispered to me that a book on this specific area of coins was about to be released, I stopped looking the way of Spanish colonials, paused in acquiring countermarks and just focused on trying to get hold of every USPI coin I could get my hands on. Sometimes even paying more than market prices for coins that I felt I needed to have, such as the Queen-12 or even the 1904P peso. Learning important lessons as I went along and meeting very interesting people along the way. A couple of them I’ve developed a tremendous amount of respect for, and a couple of them I’ve totally lost every ounce of respect towards.

I believe I was one of the first that was able to get hold and read the book that day, as I decided to skip the auction to go to the next door McDonalds to read it with my usual “cafe cafe” as Sir Harly would always say..and, all I can say is this... the book is very ADDICTING. It’s an addictive tool much that it transforms the collector to be an energizer bunny wanting to know, discover, collect and maybe even hoard more and more and’s been a week already and I’ve not put the book down.

Please indulge me on this mini-review. I’ll get straight to point:

What this book has done to me:

1. A big distraction and change of action — now that this book is out and all the details being brought out about varieties, distractions abound as regards the minor coins that are currently being posted on FB for sale. Just today i bought a total of 30 pieces 10c 1945, something I wasn’t even looking into 3 months ago when I started, another 40 coins from 1944s also from someone down south and 10 sets of 10/20/50c 1945 from a very respected collector/dealer (pic 3). Plus, it also pays to give others the impression that I am a SERIOUS BUYER of coins as I am always given freebies as part of the coins I purchased. In the past I’ve always set aside those freebies and just put it in a container, unopened and unexamined. Lately, I find myself taking a second look at these “freebies” that were given and found a couple of varieties like the 1945 10c D/D...which, according to the book is very common (is it?) and probably a 1918 Large “S” one cent in another...

2. A “Minor” Change of attitude — The book has made me more aware of the smaller denominations or what I think they call the “minors.” Before i used to pass up and just go over coins that were not within the “major sector” that was “in fashion” such as the big and small peso but now it has become important to try not to miss anything and try to get lucky on something...

3. Confidence to make wiser decisions — the book has allowed me to be more confident in my buying as it has given me the perfect guide as to what to look out for. And, more importantly, the guide to know what the current market prices are... resulting in better and more informed decisions. Plus, it has made me confident enough to talk to other seasoned collectors to make them think I know what I am saying... i just have to throw in things like “variant codes”, “tilted S”, “Double die” to name a few for them to believe that i may talking some numismatic sense so that they give me the time of day.

4. Room for Imagination — One thing though about market prices listed on the book is that the authors created a gap between the prices of an AU53 coin and an MS63 on their price list. The “guiding prices” of the grades in between were not given. If I am not mistaken this is where the authors allow us to “imagine” the prices of the graded coins in this specific area of the grade. A lot of “wiggle room” for prices to be thrown amongst dealers, buyers and sellers in a price range I believe is considered the “sweet spot” of coin grading/collecting/dealing where numerous transactions abound. Case in point is this 1905s MS62 that I recently purchased whose grade falls within that "sweet spot." Currently I’m trying to purchase a 1906 one peso whose grade lies on this same sweet spot, which means that no “REAL” prices can be firmly given. This, I believe was a good move on the author’s part as it makes all participants of the trade be on their toes and, as the saying goes “only the weak will fall”...

However amidst the rave reviews there are a couple negative comments that abound about the book. My favorite criticism about the book that I’ve heard is the statement that “it is a collation of information or a “pictorial album” of coin images that one can find in the internet.” On the contrary, my retort is for him to try collating and organizing all the images in a manner the way the two authors did. The information passed by the authors are authoritatively first-hand experiences that one can only do and describe after DOING, HANDLING, EXAMINING, FEELING, COMPARING and TALKING about USPI coins after more than 10,000 hours. Michael Jordan once said that in order to be an authority and an expert one needs to practice more than 10,000 hours, Yap and Bantugan have obviously amassed more than their share of hours. And it is this inherent vision I see, that they both have, that makes them want to “live forever” as this book would obviously be passed on to the next generation. I know I would...

(this is not a review..........just a humble opinion from a collector wanting to express his appreciation for a “tool” that has made his life so much easier in this crazy but fascinating world of numismatics)


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