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Just What are Those KM Numbers?
March 02, 2010

I had a phone call. It was one I had been expecting for several years, but in that time it has hardly happened.

The question had to do with the Coin Market Price guide section.

What are those KM numbers and what do the letters stand for, I was asked?

Ever since my firm started applying the world coin numbering system to U.S. coinage I have been expecting questions.

KM stands for Chet Krause and Cliff Mishler who invented the numbering system that is used as a shorthand by the world’s collectors. Instead of giving long descriptions, all you need do is give country, date, denomination and the KM number and any collector with the Standard Catalog of World Coins can tell you what it is.

This shorthand is necessary for making concise price lists.

This kind of numbering system never caught on with U.S. collectors because there is much less to keep track of.

However, our computer system is such that it is easier to apply numbers to all coins than to try to go on listing U.S. coins without numbers.

The change made collectors of U.S. coins who live outside the United States very happy.

For American collectors, it was hardly noticed.

As I said, I was expecting this call for a very long time.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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