JET Reviews #002: Keep Checking That Change: CFA Field Guide by Chadwick Sirnio

“JET Reviews #002: Keep Checking that Change: CFA Field Guide” is the second installment of a product review series on JET Numismatics. Content reviewed in this book, including screenshots of specific pages, were used with consent from Mr. Chadwick Sirnio.

Editor’s Note: This book is offered in both Amazon Kindle e-Book and Paperback formats. This review is for the Kindle Edition of this title. This copy was purchased by myself, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

[2 May 2020]

by Jack Topping

As numismatists, we know all too well that there are certain coins and currency that exceed their face value on the collector market. However, for new collectors or individuals who might not have an interest in coin collecting, they may not know the subtle differences that other numismatists know to look for. Finding information on what is and what isn’t a collectible numismatic item is very important, and can become a challenge for some. This is where the Coins for Amateurs (“CFA”) family comes into the picture: their new numismatic book, titled “Keep Checking that Change: CFA Field Guide” was written to help new collectors and other individuals looking for this kind of information (regarding coins and currency of the United States Dollar).

This book is full of easy to read examples, including pictures of what to look out for when inspecting everyday pocket change. The author, Chad Sirnio, along with his family, created the “Coins for Amateurs” YouTube page. They proudly have more than 12,000 YouTube subscribers, with total video views exceeding an impressive one million as of January 2020. JET Numismatics did an exclusive interview with the Coins for Amateurs family in July of 2019 that can be read here.

JET Quick Facts

Amazon ASIN NumberB0861K2YSQ
Available FormatsPaperback, Amazon Kindle e-Book
Publication DateMarch 17, 2020

The pocket guide begins with a detailed table of contents, leading up to the first chapter on currency. This chapter includes information on fancy serial numbers, such as RADAR notes, found on page seven. Sirnio discusses the different types of serial number varieties, what to look for when inspecting notes, and the importance of condition. This chapter starts at page four and ends on page nine.

Most of the book, starting with the next chapter, focuses on coins rather than currency. The “Coins to watch for” chapter discusses circulating United States coins from the penny (one cent) up to the dollar coin, from pages 10 to 21. These chapters include detailed examples of mintmark varieties, coins with errors on them, the attributes of coins containing silver, how to spot silver coins, among many more examples broken down per denomination. As seen on the Quarters page, found on page 19, Sirnio not only describes the intrinsic value of pre-1965 quarters, but he also mentions a key date to look out for (the year 1932) in order to further educate readers. This type of breakdown of coin, variety, and a brief explanation on why they are collectible is the format that Sirnio uses for the entire “Coins” chapter.

The next chapter, heading towards the end of the pocket guide, is all about “Other” coins, important coins that deserve their own chapter independent of denomination. These include blank planchets and other error coins. Although it is a short chapter, it is important to refer to when dealing with rather unusual looking error coins. This chapter starts on page 22 and ends on page 24. 

The next chapter discusses the “Basics” to coin treasure hunting, from pages 25 to 29. This includes discussion of what “Coin Roll Hunting” is and how to get started, found on page 27. The rest of the chapter highlights important treasures to look out for, including common and not-so-common error varieties.

The last two chapters discuss how to learn more on coin “treasure hunting”, listing certain book recommendations. The final chapter is about the Authors, the Coins for Amateurs family, who’s YouTube page can be found here.

In short, this pocket guide was designed to be a small, quick reference book aimed at helping coin collectors figure out what they should be looking for in their pocket change. It successfully captures the goal of being a concise, easy tool for beginners and experts alike, and I recommend it for the “coin roll hunter” or enthusiast.

“Keep Checking that Change: CFA Field Guide” can be purchased on here. At the time of publishing, the Kindle e-Book version costs $2.99 USD, while the Paperback version is $5.99 USD.

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