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Category: Items of Interest

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Bowers & Merena auction, Proof 1876-CC dime, and $150 million for the CAC

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #5

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I. Today’s Theme

I will not be discussing the most expensive or the rarest coins that are coming ‘on the auction block’ this week. Rather, I have selected a few that I find to be both newsworthy and particularly interesting. Admittedly, these are expensive. I continue to insist, though, that an understanding of rare coins, and of the values in the coin collecting community, requires knowledge of coins that most collectors cannot afford.

Suppose that this column was geared towards art enthusiasts rather than coin enthusiasts. Would it then make sense to discuss only the paintings that most art collectors could afford? Collectors who cannot afford great and culturally important paintings enjoy learning about them and often learn to apply their knowledge of famous painting to their interpretations of a wide variety of not-so-famous paintings. Likewise, coin enthusiasts, in general, appreciate coins that are great, famous, very rare and/or important to the culture of coin collecting.

Please see my discussions below of the following coins. The 1851-O trime is the only Three Cent Silver issue that was not struck at the Philadelphia Mint. Indeed, it is curious that the New Orleans Mint struck this denomination, as the Branch Mints tended not to manufacture small denomination coins in the 19th century. The Hawaiian Eighth-Dollar is certainly extremely rare and extremely curious. The 1926-S nickel issue is just incredibly difficult to find in MS-65 or MS-66 grade. As I discussed one in last week’s column, I could not resist mentioning another, as B&M will auction it this week in Baltimore. Similarly, I discussed a rare and historically important King James II English gold coin last week and B&M will auction a coin of the same design type this week. Plus, the unique Proof 1876-CC dime is one of the most exciting coins of all.

II. The CAC Surpasses $150 Million Level

It is widely known that the CAC approves (or rejects) submitted coins that are already graded by the PCGS or the NGC. Approved coins receive a green sticker, or, in rare instances, a gold sticker. It is not as widely known that the CAC will make sight unseen commitments to pay competitive prices for CAC approved coins. These are not ‘low ball’ bids. As of June 15, the CAC has purchased $154 million of coins, almost all of which are CAC approved.

The CAC was founded by John Albanese in Oct. 2007. CAC purchases have thus been averaging more than $4.7 million per month. The $150 million level was reached in early June.

Albanese was the sole founder of the Numismatic Guaranty Corp (NGC) in 1987. Around Dec. 1998, he sold his shares in the NGC to Mark Salzberg, who is the current NGC Chairman. (For more discussion of the CAC, please see my articles on CoinFest, Jay Brahin’s Coins, the PCGS graded MS-68+ 1901-S quarter, the 20th Century Gold Club, and Dr. Duckor’s quarters.)

Although the CAC has acquired thousands of coins that are valued at under $5000 each, the CAC has approved and acquired some very famous coins. Among others, the Eliasberg 1870-S silver dollar and the finest known, Rogers-Madison 1796 ‘No Stars’ Quarter Eagle ($2½ gold coin) come to my mind.

III. Unique Proof 1876-CC Dime

Laura Sperber, of Legend Numismatics, acquired the unique Proof 1876-CC dime from a New Jersey dealer in early June. On Saturday, June 12, she sold it for an amount in excess of $200,000. It “went into a collection of Proof Seated Dimes,” Sperber reveals. It is certified as Proof-66 by the PCGS and has a sticker of approval from the CAC. (more…)

Baldwins UK to offer Part Two of the Michael Hall Collection of Renaissance Medals

A. H. Baldwin & Sons Ltd will offer an extensive collection of Renaissance and later medals formed by the New York connoisseur and fine art collector, Michael Hall. The Michael Hall Collection comprises in excess of 2000 items, making it by far the largest sale of this type since the Max and Maurice Rosenheim (Sotheby 1923) and Henry Oppenheimer (Christie’s 1936) sales.

Michael Hall has been a prolific collector of art for more than 60 years amassing vast collections with a focus on sculpture. Michael was inspired in his youth by the Kress Collection, a phenomenal collection of medals housed in the National Gallery of Art in Washington that are of artistic importance, not just of historical or archaeological interest. It is therefore unsurprising that the focus of the numismatic part of the Hall collections has always been on the artistic and sculptural aspects of the medals which have augmented his interest in sculpture of all origins and periods.

The aim of the collection is to share the artistic legacy of Europe with the American people, a sentiment which still resonates with Michael. He offers his collection to the public at large with generosity and well meaning and with ‘the hope that you will be as successful as I have been in my most satisfying endeavors.’

The auction of the second part of his collection begins with a large and impressive group of Papal medals from the 15 th century onwards, from which highlights include a group of six prize medals of the Accademia di san Luca (lots 1227-1232). Founded in 1593, the academy was setup as an association of artists in Rome for the purpose of elevating the work of “artists”, including painters, sculptors and architects.

The image on the reverse of the medals was designed by Giovanni Hamerani in 1694 and was taken from a painting by Guercino. Hamerani came from a family of celebrated artists and engravers and was appointed as medallist to the pope. It has been said he possessed a purer and far superior style to other engravers of his time.

Intended as an annual competition, although it was not always the case, these medals were given in three classes and in three disciplines, painting, sculpture and architecture. The most significant of the group are lots 1227 (which carries a pre-sale estimate of £800-1200) and lot 1232 (pictured above) which is the only lot to be engraved by Bernhard Perger and has an estimate of £700-900. Other stand out pieces from the section include lots 1245 and 1246, two Clement XII medals. The first is a choice, extremely fine, 1753 Damascened Bronze Complimentary Medal, estimate £300-400 and the second is a 1733 Silver Fountain Medal of San Giovanni in Laterano, estimate £600-800. (more…)

The Three L’s of Coin Photography

By Pinnacle Rarities

The digital age has ushered in a new coin cabinet for collectors. Digital photography allows collectors to display their treasures without leaving their valuables exposed. Registry programs and advances in the digital technology, coupled with the proliferation of the rare coin websites and social networking platforms, has made digital coin representations an integral part of a collector’s portfolio. The overall demand for quality photos has been facilitated by digital camera manufacturers who produce a number of cameras capable of capturing the nuances of rare coins. With practice, consistent high quality images can be taken by any collector, even with a limited equipment budget. If you plan on photographing your coins yourself, here’s a quick primer. Consider these three “L’s” before you get started – the lens, the lighting, and the luster.

The Lens

The first “L” stands for the lens, but it includes other camera equipment too. It isn’t necessary to spend thousands to capture images of you coins. However, don’t fool yourself. In photography, the more you spend, the more you get. The “more” may just be more bells and whistles. But most likely, the “more” will be in the optics. The cheaper lenses do not produce as sharp an image especially along the peripheries. It will perform poorly in tougher lighting situations. The general rule here is the more light that gets through the lens, the better the depth of focus. Better light will result in crisper images up close. The better the lens the more light it lets through.

In this same vein the body of the lower priced camera will not have the options and “gadgets” that the more pricey models may include. The expensive models will produce better resolution and have a wider range of file types and sizes to choose from. You will get better results with cameras that have interchangeable lenses. You should outfit these cameras with a good quality macro lens (macro zooms are adequate, I suggest splurging on a dedicated macro lens). If you’re using an “all in one” point and shoot camera, you’ll still be able to get great images. However, a macro setting is a must. The macro setting is usually a flower icon. You may want to consult your owner’s manual.

If you are planning to image coins sealed in third party holders (or slabs), consider this plastic an additional “lens”. Before you photograph your coins, be sure that you’ve cleaned the holder to the best of your ability. Fingerprints and sticker glue will fog the holder. Many holders develop scratches on the surfaces from handling and contact with other holders. These will show-up in high quality images. Some of this can be removed or at least masked using a variety of plastic cleaners and polish. The heavier scuffs may need a light polishing with the aid of a small power craft tool fitted with a polishing wheel. (We use a Dremel MiniMite). Practice this before ruining a holder on a prized possession.

You’ll need to stabilize the lens and camera. Trying to achieve anything of quality with a handheld camera is futile. A simple inexpensive tripod at the corner or a low table works as well as a professional photo stand. Remember position you camera where you’ll be able to manipulate your lights, while keeping the camera stationary. This set-up is our second “L”.
(more…)

THE BULLS, THE BEARS, AND CALIFORNIA GOLD COINS

By Richard Giedroyc – HCC Rare Coins

Once upon a time gold was worth a paltry amount compared to the lofty figures it commands per ounce today. Since gold didn’t have such an incredible value, nor did it fluctuate much in price, it was practical to be used as a coinage metal.

California Fractional Gold CoinsThe United States is only one of many countries that over many centuries issued gold composition coins. As the United States expanded so did its need for circulating coinage. In 1848 gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in California. People dropped whatever they were doing, sometimes almost literally, and headed for the west coast of what today is the United States to seek their fortunes. Believe it or not even the gold mines in the Carolinas and Georgia in the Appalachian Mountains were abandoned as people perceived that it would be much easier to mine the golden metal in California than in the east.

Some found what they sought. Others would be disappointed. One thing, however, was certain. If the population explosion in California was to be sustained economically either barter would have to be greatly expanded or a lot more coins than had been available were going to be needed in commerce.

The United States recognized the need for a regionally located mint to fill this need. Prior to the establishment of the San Francisco Mint facility in 1854 private parties, primarily jewelers and assayers, produced their own coinage to fill the void. Since gold was readily available while silver was not the private coinage issuers in California used gold to produce what today are generally referred to as Pioneer or Private and Territorial Gold issues.

Although most collectors will remember the more famous issues struck in denominations of $5, $10, $20, and $50, these same private minters struck fractional denominations as well. These “quarters,” “half dollars,” and “dollars” were also struck in gold, since silver was not generally as available. These coins are tiny, many of them being less than 20 millimeters in diameter.

These fractional denominations were useful in making small change, but they were also a nuisance due to their diminutive diameter. These small denomination gold coins were easily lost. There was little consistency to their designs or shapes. Some depicted the head of Liberty, while others depicted an Indian. Some were round, while others were octagonal. It was likely quite a relief once the San Francisco Mint was able to begin supplying sufficient quantities of small change coins to displace these fractional issues.

These small denominations first appeared in 1852. Some of them had as much as 85 percent of their face value as precious metal content, while others were gold plated. The Coinage Act of April 22, 1864 made all privately produced coinage illegal, however due to a lack of enforcement and poor wording of the legislation many of these small denominations continued to be issued simply without a denomination on them. For practical purposes the issues ceased after 1883, however after this date imitation tokens that were backdated to the 1850s continued to be issued right into the early part of the 20th century. (more…)

Ancient Coin Importation Restrictions: Thoughts on becoming a target of the “cultural property” advocates.

By Wayne Sayles – Ancient Coin Collecting Blog

Some people crave attention and will do almost anything to draw a spotlight toward themselves, even if it is outrageous. I’m not one of those people by nature. I much prefer the serenity and seclusion of our pastoral environment here in the Ozarks to the hustle and bustle of the city or the glad-handing that people in the corporate and political world call “networking.”

In fact, my most precious moments have been on a sailboat ghosting along in a light breeze with nothing but sky and water to contemplate. I find an isolated mountain stream equally inviting if I have a rod in hand and a trout waiting to be tempted. Yet, I often find myself drawn to the city and sometimes into the spotlight as a matter of necessity. Why? Having endured all that I could stand of the outlandish criticisms and insults hurled by fanatical archaeologists at the antiquities market, and by extension at my lifelong passion of ancient coin collecting, I felt compelled to speak out.

That happened in 2004, and here I am six years later still speaking out against the same atrocious behavior. If anything, the situation has gotten worse since the antiquities trade and the museum world have essentially abdicated before a combination of foreign and home-grown nationalist attacks. The numismatic community seems to be the only roadblock these days to sweeping nationalist and institutional control of cultural property and thereby to absolute control of history and the record of the past. Is that bad? Only from the point of view of those who favor truth over revisionism or those who feel that culture is as much a personal as a national heritage, or believe in personal property rights and freedoms. Of course it is also bad for the numismatists who have suddenly been thrust into that unwelcome spotlight.

Personally, my career in numismatics dates back some 40+ years and I enjoyed that time in the comfort that the discipline, call it a hobby if you will, was genteel. The relationships between professional and amateur numismatists were not only friendly and cooperative, they were in most cases collegial. Respect flowed both ways. What a difference we see today! Understandably, I’ve become a focal point for criticism, along with others, by virtue of my active opposition to cultural nationalism. That, I expected.

What I did not expect and am sincerely saddened by is the depth of hatred and hostility that permeates the opposition today. Being the focus of an ideological polemic is one thing, but being personally villified and ridiculed by educated people, from a discipline that I once respected, is something entirely different. That sort of verbal barrage has now become a daily event in my life. Initially, I was offended.

My career as an officer in the U.S. military instilled in me a very strong sense of personal pride, integrity and responsibility. I founded the ACCG to create a voice for ancient coin collectors that was conspicuously absent in the face of a growing assault. The numismatic trade in this field had its advocacy groups, collectors had none. I’ve spent the past six years, as a volunteer, working for the interests of collectors. (more…)

Top 10 Rare Coin Purchasing Strategies

By Kathleen Duncan – Pinnacle Rarities

Top 10These strategies were based upon the true case of two collectors who each decided to assemble a million dollar collection of high grade United States coinage, then seven years later, both decided to sell. One now has a collection that is worth upwards of $2 million while the other individual’s coins are worth $600,000. What did collector #1 do that was so much smarter than the other? In the end, the difference was the way that they bought coins; there were a number of important purchasing strategies employed by the first collector that were ignored by the second.

Collector #1 did the following: he was patient, he chose his coins carefully, he was loyal, he was not a slave to published bid levels, he reached for the best available coins and he assembled a true collection as opposed to an accumulation. Collector #2 made rash, impulsive purchases, bought coins from a wide variety of sources (some reputable, some not), would never purchase a coin unless it was priced at a “bargain” level and wound-up with a strange, disconnected assemblage of coins rather than a true collection.

It is a good idea to look at some of these points more carefully to understand why one collector did so well while the other did not.

1. For the collector, patience is a virtue: One of the key reasons for the success of collector #1 was his patience. Instead of wildly charging out into the market and buying whatever looked interesting, he was highly selective. In fact, he typically purchased just a few coins each year. Collector #2 was extremely impulsive and purchased some coins that, in retrospect, made no sense. As an example, he bought at least three five-figure coins that he didn’t really like and which he knew, even at the time they were bought, that they would have to be upgraded. And he purchased some other coins that had absolutely no thematic tie-in to what he was collecting. These were quickly jettisoned at a significant loss.

2. Always buy the best coins you can afford: If you care about the financial returns provided by your coins (and if you are buying coins that are more than $1,000 each you should) then it is important to buy the best you can afford. A collection should be centered around quality instead of quantity. This means that you will have to tailor your collection around your budget.

3. Both collector #1 and collector #2 had the same budget but collector #2 wound-up buying dozens of coins while his counterpart only purchased a few. The result was that the first collector had a small collection of superb pieces with enough of a synergistic tie-in that it was more valuable as a whole than as a sum of its parts. The second collector had an assemblage of expensive coins that, because of the presence of a number of “dogs”, would have to be broken-up and sold piece-by-piece.

4. If you find one or two dealers you like, stay loyal to them: Yes, this is a self-serving comment, but nonetheless this is earnest advice and it works. If you establish a good relationship with a knowledgeable expert, you are more likely to get good deals from this person. That dealer will be genuinely concerned about the coins he sells you, especially if he knows that he will have a chance to resell them in the future. Because collector #1 was loyal (and because he established a good relationship during the time spent with a dealer pursuing coins) he purchased great coins at fair prices. Collector #2, while a very good person as well, never became a faithful customer and, as a result, dealers were less enthusiastic to sell him their very best coins. (more…)

NGC Launches New Metallurgic Analysis Service for Coins

NGC is introducing a new service line to perform metal composition testing at the submitter’s request. Metallurgic analysis is available for pattern, essay, trial and mint error coins, as well as tokens and medals. The cost of this service is $75 in addition to the NGC grading fee. Coins already certified and encapsulated by NGC can be re-submitted to NGC for metal testing and re-encapsulation for the flat fee of $75.

NGC performs composite surface scans of coins using x-ray fluorescence. While the tests are entirely non-invasive, they do allow NGC to peer beneath surface plating and any contaminants. Methods used by NGC are so gentle, however, that they can even be performed on coins that are still encapsulated. After testing, the results of analysis will appear on the NGC certification label along with the weight of the tested coin. NGC lists the three most abundant non-trace metals present on the coin’s surface.

Metallurgic analysis is performed at NGC’s facility by trained technicians. The turnaround time required for this service is approximately three-days in addition to the standard turnaround time for the accompanying service request. After certification is completed, tested coins are encapsulated in the Scratch-Resistant EdgeView® holder.

“NGC has used metal composition analysis for authentication purposes routinely, but we always believed that there was also a role for it to play in more precise attribution. Certainly this service will be a boon to collectors of pattern coins,” comments Rick Montgomery, NGC President.

NGC CEO, Steve Eichenbaum states that, “This service launch was really predicated on the availability of highly advanced and new technology. At NGC, we take innovation very seriously, and we continue to implement new services whenever we believe that they will meet the needs of collectors and numismatic professionals.”

While the next version of the NGC submission form, coming this summer, will include this service option, NGC is accepting coins for metallurgic analysis immediately. To submit coins for this service, prominently write “METAL COMPOSITION TEST” on the submission form, and include the additional $75 per coin service charge in the fee calculation at the bottom of the form. Coins to be tested should be listed on a separate submission form from coins not being tested. You can always request that multiple submission forms be shipped backed to you together.

Any questions about submission procedures or this new offering can be directed to NGC customer service at service@ngccoin.com or by phone toll-free at 1-800-NGC-COIN (642-2646).

PCGS Announces Winners of 2010 ANA Summer Seminar Scholarships

Three lucky PCGS Set RegistrySM members have been selected to receive scholarships to the popular American Numismatic Association Summer Seminar in Colorado Springs, Colorado this year. The ANA (www.money.org) and the Professional Coin Grading Service (www.PCGS.com) are jointly offering tuition, meals, lodging and airfare for each of the three to attend one of the two week-long Summer Seminar sessions.

The winners, who will be attending an ANA Summer Seminar for the first time, are Christopher Bryan, James M. Bucki Sr. and Gerry Fortin.

“Winners were selected based on their set display and a brief explanation of why they should be selected for a scholarship,” said BJ Searls, Set Registry Manager.

Bryan’s set, known as “Route 66 — Tazman,” is listed under Carson City Morgan Dollars, Circulation Strikes (1878 – 1893), and can be found online.

“Christopher hopes to learn more about coins at Summer Seminar and, in particular, learn how to make the hobby better for everyone. He named his set ‘Route 66’ because he hopes to eventually have all his coins graded Mint State 66. It’s clear from his set description that he loves the hobby. His set now contains five of the highest-graded CC dollars certified by PCGS. Each coin is imaged and described in detail,” explained Searls.

Bucki’s set, named “JMBCoins Jeff Nickel Basic Proof,” is listed under Jefferson Nickels Basic Set, Proof (1965 – present) and is online.

“James is a father of six and is actively involved in the Buffalo, New York Numismatic Association. He’s the Scouting and Youth Coordinator for the club. In addition, he has instructed over 850 Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts on the Coin Collecting Merit Badge. He hopes to pass on to youths in his area what he learns from the ANA seminar. His entry had a great description of his set with detailed information and images for each coin.”

Fortin’s set, “The Gerry Fortin Liberty Seated Dime Collection,” is listed under Liberty Seated Dimes with Major Varieties, Circulation Strikes (1837 – 1891), and is online. (more…)

Collector Coins Offer Enjoyment and Profit

The numismatic marketplace is a diverse landscape of collectibles and investment opportunities that offers both opportunity and enjoyment to those who venture into some of the less publicized areas.

At CoinLink we tend to focus on classic rarities, major rarities and coins that have both a historical and pedigreed back-story. We love to find unusual items to present to our readers along with “important coins” that stand out in numismatic history and give us a better insight into how and why our coinage was conceived, developed and collected.

However this is just one arena in which collectors pursue their interest in the hobby. Many are drawn to specialties such as Bust Half dollars or Seated coinage, some focus on classic commemoratives or rare date gold. And many concentrate on Modern coins and new mint issues including high grade bullion coins or one of the many commemorative coins produced each year by the US mint.

One area where scant attention has been paid is to the World Collector Coin market. These are generally Silver coins, based around a particular theme and produced by several national mints under the authority of small far away counties such as Tuvalu and The Cook Islands.

The Perth Mint has been a prolific producer of such coins covering Nature, Military History and Famous People to Maritime and Aviation themes.

All these coins are visually striking and most incorporate innovative manufacturing techniques to add Holograms, colorized backgrounds and even revolutionary new design concepts such as the ‘orbital’ coin where the coin rotates around a fixed center.

Mintages for these coins is almost always limited, often to as few as 5000 coins, and are generally Sold out within a very short time after they are introduced.

Cory Maita of Gainesville Coins remarked that they can’t seem to keep these coin in stock. ” The demand is amazing and the collector coins just fly out the door”

Gainesville Coins is a major seller of collector coins and because of their special relationship with many of the mints and suppliers, they often are the first company to have new issues in stock and ready to ship.

The New 2010 Warrior Series has been very incredibly popular. The coin’s reverse portrays a Roman legionary in colour. Tough, courageous and highly-disciplined infantry soldiers, professional legionaries formed the backbone of the Roman army, a formidable fighting force that conquered and controlled Rome’s vast Empire.

The legionary is dressed in a galea, a metal helmet with cheek guards, and a cuirass, body armour comprising overlapping iron plates. The legionary is also wearing an apron of leather strips featuring metal plates hanging from his belt, and caligae, leather sandals with iron hobnails.

This Four coin set will also include the Viking, Knight and Samurai. (more…)

Grassroots Coin Group Sprouts At Central States

Numismatists United for Political Action (NUPA) a grassroots organization with a mission to educate and inspire the coin collecting community to stand and be heard in Washington organized this week.

The effort follows discussions at the recent Board of Directors meeting of the Industry Council for Tangible Assets (ICTA). NUPA is already set up on Google groups and Facebook and invites anyone, especially coin dealers and collectors to join and get involved. There are no dues or fees for membership.

Three core issues right now for NUPA are: getting the U.S. Mint to produce 2010 Proof Silver Eagles, fighting for elimination of restrictive private commodity sales language in the Senate Financial Reform measure and passage of S.1769 the Coins in IRAs Bill. Nicholas Pyle who addressed the ICTA meeting on political action said, “The need for NUPA is clear, our community needs to step up and be heard.” “NUPA is here to fill a void since many of the organizations that serve to numismatic community have charters and tax status that limits their political activity to education and prevents direct lobbying to Members of Congress.” Our goal with NUPA is to complement these organizations activities and energize their memberships and the broader coin-collecting universe to be heard on important issues.

NUPA efforts will provide inspired coin enthusiasts with talking points on key issues for individuals to use in reaching out to their constituent representatives. The tools will be useful in emailing, writing and visiting Members of Congress. We will take a broad brush of “shotgun” approach for initial outreach efforts to all of congress and focus resources of time and visits to the key members on committees like Banking in the House and Senate as well as the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.

Pyle noted we are less than a day old and moving quickly on raising awareness for NUPA. We have a core group identified with interest in serving on a steering committee. Our next steps are putting issue talking points on the web and providing direction for grassroots efforts. If significant interest does arise we may want to consider a Washington “fly-in” and March on Congress in conjunction with the next major Baltimore coin show. (more…)

World Coins – Unique 1928 South Africa 6 Pence Graded by NGC

Certified by NGC is this recently discovered South Africa 6 Pence dated 1928. It is the only known example bearing this date.

The coin was first spotted in an English country auction where it was cataloged with an unusual notation: the coin’s date was not listed in the standard series reference. It was purchased by a dealer who had a strong suspicion about the its origin.

Although he had no doubt about the coin’s authenticity, he sent it first to South Africa, where a number of experts examined the coin, all declaring it genuine. The coin itself, as a unique discovery piece, created a sensation among collectors of South African coins, who marveled that this discovery took over 80 years to occur.

From South Africa, the coin was sent the coin to the United States to be certified and encapsulated by NGC.

The dies for South African coins of this era were manufactured in England and then sent to South Africa for use in coinage production. Mysteriously, six pence dies of this year were not shipped and no pieces dated 1928 were struck in South Africa. Other denominations of coins were produced in that year, however, and it is not certain why the six pence was omitted.

Numismatist believe that the coin was produced in England as a specimen piece.

It has shallow mirrored fields, a crisp strike, as well as squared rims, similar to all South African presentation coinage of this era. It is also struck on a .925 fine silver planchet, while coins struck for circulation in South Africa are only .800 fine. It has a deep amber patina and is remarkably well preserved, evidence that it resided in the possession of a collector since it was struck.

First State Depository Offers Exclusive Precious Metals Anti-Counterfeiting Services

FSD is the ONLY depository facility in the United States that offers Non-Invasive On-site Assay verification

First State Depository Company, LLC, of Wilmington Delaware, one of the nations most respected rare coin and precious metals depositories, has announced an exclusive partnership with Bullion Analysis, Inc., for assay verification services. First State will be the ONLY depository facility in the United States that can now offer Non Invasive On-site Assay verification of a clients holdings to insure against counterfeit bullion products.

News reports have shown an increasing number of counterfeit bullion products entering the marketplace, specifically tungsten filled gold bars and lead filled Silver bars. These counterfeits are very deceptive and surface analysis is rarely successful in detecting these fakes.

Bullion Analysis Corporation has developed a unique testing technology that can safely verify the purity of gold, silver and platinum precious metal products. This technology is completely safe and non-destructive to the precious metal, and is effective on everything from fractional ounce coins all the way up to the full size 100, 400 and 1,000 ounce COMEX bars of gold, silver and platinum.

This technology is completely safe and non-destructive to the precious metal

Through this exciting new partnership, First State Depository Corporation now has the exclusive U.S. use of Bullion Analysis, Inc. for assay verification within a commercial Depository facility. “We have had excellent results working with our colleagues at First State Depository, and find their level of professional service and security to be unmatched. We are very pleased to provide our exclusive, non-destructive assay verification services to FSDC clients at this highly secure facility.” said Tom Woolman, one of the senior managers at Bullion Analysis.

First State Depository has a long history of providing cost effective and innovative Depository services for investors looking to take advantage of not only the long-term stability of precious metals investments, but also offering ultra secure, flexible and personalized storage solutions.This new partnership with Bullion Analysis Corporation will allow First State Depository customers access to this groundbreaking technology by offering digital deep-scan verifications of clients bullion within the FSDC vault facility and/or before they take delivery of new shipments to FSDC.

Bullion Analysis produces a tamper-resistant holographic certificate for each bar of precious metal that is scanned, containing the results of its verification analysis and the bar’s serial number and hallmark. This holographic certificate can then trade with the bullion in the future, providing peace of mind for both the current owner and adding a level of trust for future sales of your precious metals. No Other Depository in the Country can offer its customers this level verification and security. (more…)

Numismatic History: The Stetson Collection Gold Coin Hoard

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

One of the more interesting (and lesser known) gold coin auctions that I’ve attended was the sale of the Stetson Collection which was conducted by the old Bowers and Merena in May, 1993. This was an instance where the back story (or stories in this case) was nearly as interesting as the coins themselves.
Stetson Hoard
Beginning in 1992, an amazing hoard of gold coins started to quietly enter the market. This hoard consisted of tens of thousands of coins dated from the late 1830’s through, I believe, the 1920’s. It included large quantities of semi-key St. Gaudens double eagles, extensive runs of Carson City eagles and double eagles, large quantities of New Orleans eagles from the 1880’s through the early 1900’s, sizable quantities of San Francisco rarities and much, much more. It has never been revealed where these coins came from (although it is widely rumored that they came from an Eastern European central bank; given the time they were sold it would suggest that they were dispersed by a former Soviet bloc country in an attempt to infuse some Western capital).

This incredible hoard was dispersed over a number of years in a quiet, orderly fashion. Some of the coins went to dealers who sold them to marketers or specialists. Other coins were sold at auction. The first group of these coins to sell at auction was at the aforementioned Bowers and Merena sale and I can remember being extremely excited to have the chance to purchase some very important and very fresh coins.

Before I discuss the sale (and some events leading up to it) I’d like to discuss the appearance of the coins themselves. Because of the massive size of this hoard (and the intelligence of the individual who was masterminding its dispersal) these coins were, for the most part, kept original and dirty. Many of them had the prototypical “euro-Grime” appearance which I describe as follows: extremely deep almost brassy orange-gold toning with a noticeable two-ton e appearance from blackish grime or dirt on the high spots. This appearance was almost certainly the result of the environmental conditions in which these coins were kept. On some coins, the look was very attractive. On others, it was pretty ugly and the coins needed to be dipped (or washed with soap and water at the very least).

When I learned about the sale I thought it was important enough to fly up to Wolfeboro, New Hampshire to view them in person. I made the flight arrangements, booked a room at the Wolfeboro Inn and set off to the Granite State. My flight from Dallas wound up getting into Boston late and I missed my connection to Manchester, New Hampshire so I wound up renting a car and driving. As I made my way up I-93 to New Hampshire it started to get extremely foggy and by the time I was within an hour of Wolfeboro, it was dark and almost impossible to see more than ten feet ahead of me. (more…)

A “Green Alternative”, Recycled Gold and Silver Bars

Today, April 22nd, marks the 40th anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement Earth Day. The movements founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, proposed the first nationwide environmental protest “to shake up the political establishment and force this issue onto the national agenda.

In the 40 years since the first Earth Day, the environmental movement  continues to generate fierce debate  as to the effects, motivations and possible outcomes of existing / proposed environmental laws and theories. Hot button issues such as Global Warming, Sustainability, Biodiversity, Recycling, Resource Allocation and Environmental Justice seem to pull us farther apart rather then bringing us closer together.

But whatever side of the current debate you find yourself on, I think the vast majority of people would agree that given a choice, it is preferable to have clean water to drink, clean air to breath and safe food to eat. So what does this have to do with Numismatics?

All that raw materials used to make our gold and silver coins and bullion products has to be mined, refined and manufactured. Unfortunately, the mining process in many parts of the world is a dirty business. Toxic chemicals and substances like cyanide and mercury are often used to extract the precious metals during the refining process, and much of this is done in less than ideal and controlled environments (no pun intended)

We can across a Precious Metals refiner that has taken a different path, Ohio Precious Metals (OPM).  Founded over 35 years ago OPM operates a state of the art 178,000 square foot facility is located in Appalachian Ohio. As a leading recycled precious metals refiner, OPM extracts the metals from jewelry, photographic equipment, electronics, secondary refining and collecting sources in North America.

Once the precious metals are recovered, OPM uses the metals to produce the highest quality gold and silver products including 1, 10 AND 100 oz Silver .9995 fine Bars and 1 oz, 1 Kilo (32.18 oz) and 400 oz Gold .9999 fine bars.

These “recycled” Green bullion products generate a significantly lower environmental impact than similar products manufactured from “virgin ore” and may offer the environmentally conscious investor an alternative product to purchase.

Bob Higgins from Certified Assets recently stated that his company has added the OPM Gold and Silver Bars to their inventory as a “green” alternative and that “….interest has been very high” in these precious metals bars. OPM has a stellar reputation with a superior product that fills a critical role in the industrial and investor marketplace. We are happy to be doing business with them.” (more…)

The Effect of Carbon Spots on Copper-Nickel Coins

By Numismatic Conservation Services, LLC (NCS)

The term “carbon spots” refers to tiny black concentrations of corrosion. Oftentimes these are so small as to escape notice by the naked eye, though they may be seen with low-power magnification. Also called “flyspecks” by some in the hobby, these spots are actually slightly raised from the surface of the coin, as the corrosion forms around some particle of organic matter, such as paper dust (often present with coin albums and cardboard “2×2” stapled holders) or human saliva deposited unknowingly by a numismatist during casual handling. Oxygen, humidity, and other atmospheric elements react with the debris to form a minute mound of corrosion around it, and this is called a carbon spot.

Removal of the debris will usually stop the reaction, and thus worsening of the spot, then and there. This may be as simple as removing the offending particle. The resulting corrosion, however, will remain as an unsightly black speck that can range greatly in size from nearly microscopic to as much as a quarter-inch in diameter, depending on how much mass the contaminant possessed and how long the reaction was occurring.

Most often carbon spots will form on the surface of copper or bronze coins. The highly reactive nature of copper as a metal will often lead to their formation, but US copper-nickel coins as well as other copper-nickel coins from around the world are also quite susceptible. Most nickel alloys used for United States coinage are a combination of 75% copper and only 25% nickel. This includes the three- and five-cent pieces made since 1865 and the outer layers of our current dimes, quarters and halves, as well as those of the dollars coined 1971–99. The thick cents dated 1856–64 included 88% copper to only 12% nickel and, given their greater copper content, have an even greater susceptibility to developing carbon spots.

For copper-nickel coins displaying carbon spots, proper conservation can remove both the contaminants and the resulting spots. In some instances a pale ghost of the spot may remain, and removal of carbon spots will usually leave tiny bald patches in a coin’s toning. For these reasons, copper-nickel coins that undergo removal of carbon spots will typically have their toning removed as well during the conservation process. This is preferable to having such eye-catching gaps and is in the best interest of the coin’s long-term preservation.

Walton 1913 Liberty Nickel stars in TV show “Accidental Fortune” on The Learning Channel

The headline-making authentication of the long-missing Walton specimen 1913 Liberty Head nickel by a team from Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) in 2003 is the subject of an episode in a new program, Accidental Fortune, to be shown on The Learning Channel (TLC) on Sunday, May 2, 2010.

Viewers should check their local listings for the time the program is scheduled to be shown in their community.

The segment will feature interviews with Paul Montgomery, who offered a minimum $1 million reward for the coin in 2003 on behalf of a division of PCGS’s parent company Collectors Universe (NASDAQ: CLCT), and Ryan Givens, nephew of George O. Walton who had an appraisal business based in North Carolina.

Walton was killed in a 1962 car crash and the 1913 Liberty Head nickel was among the many coins recovered from the wreck. When Walton’s estate was settled among his heirs, Givens’ mother – Walton’s sister – received the coin.

Givens lives in the Virginia house where his mother unsuspectingly kept the famous coin in a closet for 41 years after she was incorrectly told in 1962 that it was a fake.

When he made the reward offer, Montgomery, President of the Professional Numismatists Guild, was President of Bowers and Merena Galleries, then owned by Collectors Universe.

The reward was a publicity stunt created by public relations consultant and former American Numismatic Association Governor, Donn Pearlman, as a tie-in to the ANA World’s Fair of Money in Baltimore, Maryland in the summer of 2003. The show was to feature a display with four of the five known 1913 Liberty nickels, the first time they were to be together since the set of five was broken up in 1942.

Givens, his sister Cheryl Myers and her husband, Gary, brought their inherited coin to the ANA’s 2003 Baltimore convention where it was first examined by Montgomery, Mark Borckardt and John Dannreuther. Hours later they joined a team of PCGS experts led by PCGS Co-Founder and Collectors Universe President, David Hall, who examined the coin along with the four other specimens in a secret, midnight authentication meeting held in the security room of the Baltimore Convention Center. They unanimously concurred that the Walton coin was genuine and, indeed, the long-unaccounted-for specimen. (more…)

Coin Profile: The 1920-S Saint-Gaudens Gold Double Eagle

The 1920-S double eagle is a prized rarity in the Saint-Gaudens series, and it holds a unique historical position in that assemblage. Before the United States entered the First World War, gold twenties actually circulated in the western part of the country. Coins from that early period are more available today than later dates such as the 1920-S.

The war brought inflation, with consequent rising prices in gold and other metals. Double eagle production in San Francisco was halted in 1916 and did not resume until 1920. A large mintage of 558,000 pieces was produced at the San Francisco Mint that year, but the commercial role of the double eagle had changed. The big gold coins no longer circulated freely, and ordinary citizens seldom saw them. Instead, the government and the banking system kept the coins in reserve. By this time, double eagles served two purposes: The government used some, stored in mint bags, to redeem Gold Certificates. Other coins were used as specie payments to foreign governments and banks.

Private ownership of gold became essentially illegal after the Gold Recall Act of 1933, and most of the government-held coins were melted in 1937, converted into gold bars, and transported to Fort Knox. The coins used in international trade largely escaped this fate, and many of them were found decades later in European banks. Enough circulated specimens of the 1920-S exist to suggest that a few bags may have reached circulation, but examples have never been readily available. Almost all of the mintage was melted. The 1920-S issue was the earliest date subject to this destruction, and it is demonstrably scarce today.

Collecting large-denomination gold coins became popular for the first time during the 1940s. Some of the greatest collections of that era included specimens of the 1920-S double eagle and helped establish the 1920-S as a rare and desirable coin. However, it was the Dr. Charles W. Green Collection, sold by B. Max Mehl in 1949, that really put the coin on the map.

Mehl’s usually terse lot description expanded to eight lines on this occasion. He noted that Dr. Green had purchased the coin at the Bell sale for $160 and asserted it was, “One of the most difficult dates and mints of the Double Eagles to obtain.” The Green sale had a dramatic effect on double eagle collecting in general. (more…)

Record Set at Spink Auction for a Chinese Banknote, $990,000 HKD

On the 23rd and 24th of January 2010, Spink held a magnificent sale of Stamps, Banknotes, Coins and Bonds of Hong Kong and China, at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong.
The sale featured a number of rare and valuable items which resulted in fantastic prices at auction including a new record for a Chinese banknote.


This note was the first one yuan note available for public purchase and it caused quite the bidding frenzy on the day of the sale. A Taiwanese Collector was the lucky buyer in the end.

The highly valuable note features 2 black dragons signifying the prowess of the Emperor and Monarch and accordingly named as the “Ooi-Long note”, in the middle “Xuan Tong Yuan Bao”.

The Kwangsi bank existed for a brief stint of less than 2 years before being reorganised in 1911 and the notes were subsequently recalled.

To date, only 3 examples of this note have been discovered, and it is noteworthy that all 3 are believed to be in the hands of collectors outside Kwangsi.

Barnaby Faull, Director of Banknotes at Spink, commented, “This was an absolutely fantastic auction. We offered a fresh collection of Chinese notes from an English collector and the new material resulted in great interest from collectors around the world. The Chinese market is very buoyant and potentially unlimited and this was without doubt the finest sale to be held in Hong Kong for banknotes. The sale also featured a wonderful collection of coins and bonds. In the end, nearly HK$11 million was sold at auction on the day.” (more…)

Unique Australian 1952 £50 banknote sells for $750,000

Western Australian-based business The Rare Coin Company, in Albany has just sold the only Australian 1952 George VI £50 unissued specimen banknote of its type known in private hands to a WA client for $750,000, setting a new benchmark for this classic Australian rarity.

The only other example is displayed in the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) museum in Sydney.

Presented in superior about Uncirculated-grade (aUNC), the banknote last surfaced for sale in 2006, when it was sold to another WA buyer for an undisclosed sum.

Previously Unreported

This magnificent banknote, featuring the portrait of Sir Henry Parkes, known as the ‘Father of Federation’, remained unreported until the 1990’s. It is believed to have been one of a proposed new series of Australian banknotes. It was first shown at the International Coin Fair in Singapore by its purchaser, coin and banknote company Monetarium (Australia).

At the time, it was also reported in the Australian Coin Review magazine’s March and May 1996 editions and displayed at the Numismatic Association of Australia (N.A.A.) Coin Fair in Sydney, in March the same year.

Then Monetarium spokesperson Barrie Winsor told Coin Review at the time “that the recent publicity surrounding the launch of a Parkes one dollar coin helped bring this new discovery to light”. The Parkes portrait later appeared on the commemorative five dollar polymer banknote issued in 2001 to mark the Centenary of Federation. (more…)

Unusual Items: US Mint ‘Gold Disks’ Made for Oil Payments to Saudi Arabia

One of the things we find most exciting about reporting on the numismatic marketplace is coming across those things we either didn’t know beforehand, or finding obscure and unusual numismatic items. Just recently we came across one such item, the Gold Disks produced by the US mint for ARAMCO oil payments to Saudi Arabia after World War II.

Below are excerpts from two different articles we located, one from 1981 and the other from 1991.

The Coins that Weren’t

“In Saudi Arabia, gold coins have always been important in the monetary system. For years, in fact, paper money was unacceptable, and to pay royalties to the government, Aramco once flew kegs of both gold and silver coins to jiddah. In 1952, when the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) was formed, the first coin issued was a Saudi sovereign – a gold coin equal in weight and value to the British sovereign – that was later demonetized and today sells for about $124.

To collectors, however, the most interesting Saudi gold coins weren’t coins at all; they were “gold discs” Similar to coins, they were minted by the Philadelphia Mint in the 1940’s for Aramco, and bore, on one side, the U. S. Eagle and the legend “U. S. Mint, Philadelphia, USA” and, on the other side, three lines on the fineness and weight. They looked like coins, they were used as coins, but, technically, they weren’t coins.

In the 1950’s, numismatists were puzzled by these “discs” until-in 1957 – the story emerged in The Numismatist. Aramco, required to pay royalties and other payments in gold to the Saudi government, could not obtain the gold at the monetary price fixed by the United States so the U. S. government specifically began to mint the “discs” – actually bullion in coin form for these payments. In 1945, for example, the mint turned out 91,210 large discs worth $20, and, in 1947,121,364 small discs worth $5, according to The Numismatist.

(more…)

Certifying a Family Heirloom: 1805 $5 Gold Coin

Although not a coin collector, Robert McGough owned a coin that was meaningful to him. He had owned it all of his life. As an eight-month-old baby he visited his great-grandmother who was a practical nurse in the employ of an older lady, well into her 90s.

This woman was enamored with the smile and disposition of her caretaker’s great-grandchild. At the end of the visit, she gave to the baby a gold coin that she had been given as a young girl nearly 90 years before.

McGough’s grandmother and the woman who gifted him the coin both passed away when he was quite young. The coin sat tucked away for many years, and was seldom looked at. On those occasions when it was taken out, he remembers being told, “You got that as a baby,” and it was something that he owned his entire life.

Now 66, McGough sought to investigate the coin, as he was curious about its value. The coin was an 1805 five dollar gold piece, and it was not obvious how to determine its value. Just 33,183 were made, and there is a wide range in value depending on condition. But McGough’s primary concern was finding someone he could trust, because he didn’t know any dealers near him in Tennessee and didn’t want to be misled about the value of the coin.

Some Internet searching led him to dealer John Albanese, and a few phone conversations made him comfortable with him and the procedures for shipping the coin to Albanese with proper insurance.

After reviewing the coin, Albanese recommended having it certified so that it could realize its full market value. It was submitted to NGC, where it graded MS 63, putting it in the upper echelons of known examples. McGough could not have been a better steward for it. The coin is an attractive tan gold color and has a perfect original skin. It’s just some light abrasion and a few wispy lines that keep it from higher grade, and it is simply a wonderful choice uncirculated example.

While nothing has been decided, McGough comments that, “Getting the coin certified was a step toward selling the coin. It’s been a very good experience to get this accurate information.”

World War II WASPS Receive Congressional Gold Medal

The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of World War II were honored with the Congressional Gold Medal during a ceremony today in Emancipation Hall at the Capitol Visitor Center.  Both surviving members of the WASP, as well as representatives of deceased members of the organization, participated in the ceremony.  The medal, presented by the Congressional leadership, honors WASP members for their pioneering military service that led to reform in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The WASPs served between 1942 and 1944, ferrying aircraft between U.S. bases, testing fighter planes and towing targets for the men to practice shooting at with live ammunition. They flew more than 60,000,000 miles in every type of aircraft flown by the Army Air Corps, including the B-26 bomber – also known as the “widow maker” – and the B-29 Superfortress. Thirty-eight of them died while serving their country.

Despite their service, the women had to pay their own way to Sweetwater, Texas, for training at Avenger Field. They set up collections to help bury fallen female pilots, who – because they were considered civilians – were not given military honors. And, as the war was ending, they were forced to pay their own bus fare home. When the program was disbanded in 1944, the women’s records were classified and sealed, denying them recognition for their service.

The 1,074 WASPs were never granted military rank, never flew in combat and were denied veterans benefits until 1977. Only 300 of these female pilots survive today.

The obverse (heads side) of the WASP Congressional Gold Medal was designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program Master Designer Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill.  The design depicts the portrait of a WASP with three others in the foreground in period uniforms with an airborne AT-6 in the background.  Inscriptions on the obverse are WOMEN AIRFORCE SERVICE PILOTS and 1942-1944.

The medal’s reverse (tails side) was designed and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart.  The design features the three aircraft that the WASPs flew during their training: the AT-6, B-26 and P-51.  The WASP wings are depicted at the base of the design.  Inscriptions on the reverse are THE FIRST WOMEN IN HISTORY TO FLY AMERICAN MILITARY AIRCRAFT, ACT OF CONGRESS and 2009.

Pocket Change Yields an Unusual Find

By Tim Shuck

Many collectors have occasionally discovered an older coin in circulation. I have, usually Wheat Lincoln cents of various dates or, more infrequently, a silver dime or quarter. I’ve never been too surprised at these finds because the cents, dimes, and quarters of 40 or more years ago look much like the ones minted more recently. Thus, they often pass back and forth without drawing attention.

Occasionally, a non-collector might notice the ‘wheat’ on the back of cents, and a few might have wondered about the different surface and edge coloration when silver coins are encountered. But those older coins are the same diameter and approximately the same weight as their modern versions, and don’t stand out unless you’re carefully looking.

Roll-searchers of course find a great variety of coins, not only older U.S. coins but often world coins as well. I’m not a roll-searcher and confess that though I do look through the coins I receive, I am not as vigilant as many coin collectors in closely examining change.

Recently however I was notified of a in-circulation find that I’m fairly certain even I would have noticed. In an email from my brother in the Richmond, Virginia, area, he noted that a co-worker had discovered an unusual coin in his pocket change. A U.S. coin, but one that didn’t quite look right. I contacted the finder, and he provided me with this narrative (slightly edited for publication):

“I went through the drive-through at the local Chic-fil-A to get a milkshake. I confess to a serious addiction to their milkshakes. I got the change and stuffed it my pocket and drove off for home.

When I was getting ready to throw the change into the coin jar on the kitchen counter, I noticed that a couple of quarters looked very new. My wife is saving state quarters to make full sets for the grandkids and I’m under instructions to check any good ones to see if she needs them. (more…)

Is it an Error Coin or a Variety?

By Ken Potter

By way of introduction, I am an error and variety coin specialist from Michigan. As a charter life member of the Combined Organizations of Numismatic Error Collectors of America (CONECA) and a founding member of the National Collector’s Association of Die Doubling (NCADD), I serve both groups independently as their official attributor of world (non-U.S.) hub doubled dies and I privately list all types of die varieties on both U.S. and other world coins in the Variety Coin Register(r). I am also a columnist for Coin World, World Coin News, Canadian Coin News, Cherrypickers’ News and several club publications.

While I plan to examine issues other than errors and varieties, most of what I plan for this column will relate to my area of expertise. Before getting started I should mention that varieties listed within the Variety Coin Register(r) (VCR) are assigned a primary VCR number and a secondary number that defines the variety type or class. This reference number will accompany the description for most varieties shown in this column. I believe the system is rather self- explanatory but if anybody desires a detailed explanation they may contact me via e-mail and request “Form#VCR”.

Another item in need of explanation is how I differentiate between errors and varieties. The lines of demarcation are not always clear and tend to vary between specialists. One area of agreement is that any mechanically misstruck coin or a coin struck on an improperly prepared planchet is an error coin. It is also a consensus that any coin displaying a deliberate change in design is considered a “die variety”. Thus a coin struck “off-center” or “struck on a damaged planchet” is considered and “error” while a coin exhibiting a change in the style of lettering, etc., is considered a deliberate “variety”.

Some specialists argue that certain “varieties” such as repunched Mint marks (RPMs) and hub doubled dies are actually “errors” because there is no intent by the Mint to prepare a “flawed” die. Others argue many RPMs and doubled dies are more appropriately defined as a “variety”; they believe they’re deliberately released and contend that many issuing authorities consider such flaws trivial and an expected byproduct of tolerances and processes in place (a stance with which I pretty much agree).

It is also known that some “overdates” were deliberately created by the Mint to extend the life of an otherwise obsolete die, while it is presumed that others were created in error. While most specialists agree, determining which dies were deliberately overdated and which were not is often an exercise in futility. Thus we cannot know for certain if we can accurately apply the term “error” to many “overdates”. (more…)

The 1849 Dramatically Doubled Date Half Dollar

And The Same Error in Two Other Denominations
By Rich Uhrich – January 2010 E-Gobrecht

I’ve always been intrigued by the 1849 Dramatically Doubled Date Half Dollar ever since I first saw it in The Complete Guide to Liberty Seated Half Dollars, by Randy Wiley and Bill Bugert, published in 1993.

Wiley and Bugert designate this coin as WB-102 and list its overall rarity as R6 (13 to 30 known). The original date was punched too far left, and much of it was effaced on the dies when the second date was punched in the proper position.

Therefore, on the coin we can see remnants of the bottoms of each of the 4 digits of the original date, to the left of the second date. There is also a remnant of a “9” in the rock above the “49”, and also the loop of a “9” in the denticles below the date. I always thought this was an unusuallooking variety and I purchased a VG coin from Jim O’Donnell at the 2000 ANA in Philadelphia.

I attended the 2005 EAC Convention in Annapolis, MD and I was studying an N-1 1847 Large Cent. This large cent has a doubled date with the original date to the left and the bottoms of all 4 digits clear. Sounds familiar! I immediately recognized that this was the same error as the 1849 Dramatically Doubled Date Half Dollar, so I immediately purchased the coin from its owner, Doug Bird.

According to Bob Grellman in The Die Varieties of United States Large Cents 1840 – 1857, the 1847 N-1 is an R2 variety. Subsequent research through the Grellman book resulted in identifying the 1846 N-4 (R1) and the 1848 N-4 (R4) as other examples of this error.

I didn’t think further about this connection until a few years later when I studied an 1848 Doubled Date Quarter that came in with a collection I purchased. This quarter has a doubled date with the original date to the left and the bottoms of all 4 digits clear. And it was obvious that this was the exact same error as occurred on as the 1849 Dramatically Doubled Date Half Dollar and the N-1 1847 Large Cent. (more…)

2009 Money Show of the Southwest Educational Seminar DVD’s Now Available

DVD’s of the educational presentations delivered at the Money Show of the Southwest are now available for collectors.

Speakers include former football great Greg Bingham, historian and teacher Ricardo DeLeon, collector Sebastion Frommhold, coin promoter and lecturer Mike Fuljenz, coin fund manager Bob Higgins, Money Show coin convention chairman Carl Schwenker, and PCGS president Don Willis. The Greater Houston Coin Club sponsors these educational presentations.

These videos are available in the latest DVD format and are produced by David Lisot, founder of Cointelevision.com. Lisot has been involved in video and television production since the 1980’s. He has produced hundreds of titles about collecting and works with the major numismatic coin and currency collector organizations to videotape the educational seminars delivered at their conventions. The presenters of these seminars are many of the most well known, knowledgeable, and important people in the coin hobby.

Cointelevision.com is a free video news service website that offers video clips from these coin conventions as well as segments from many educational presentations.

The DVD’s from the Money Show of the Southwest retail for $24.95 plus $4 S/H. A complete list of hundreds of other DVD’s available about coin collecting can be found at Coinvideo.com.

TITLES OF DVD’s

Benefits of Third Party Grading
By Don Willis

Don Willis is president of the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). He shares new developments on the PCGS website along with the benefits offered by third party grading.

MSSW09-001
Length: 52:32 (more…)

Stacks to offer Amazingly Original 1860-D Half Eagle Gold Coin.

Recently CoinLink has been running a number of articles centered around both the concept and desirability of “Origianl Surfaces” on coins.

In the upcoming Stacks Americana Sale this week, there is a perfect example of the type of coin we have been talking about, Lot 3534 : an 1860-D Half Eagle PCGS MS-63. Below is the Lot description and history of the coin from The Stacks Catelog.

A sparkling condition rarity, and a beautiful coin, one of 10 pieces obtained at the Dahlonega Mint in 1860 in exchange for gold bullion and scrap and retained in the family ever since. Deep honey gold glistens with rich lustre, and the somewhat reflective fields glow with lively olive iridescence.

New to the numismatic marketplace after 150 years with fresh “skin” and natural color as yet untouched by today’s coin doctors!

No serious marks are present, though we note a few tiny disturbances; this piece was kept over the decades in a sock, of all places, along with several other coins—frankly, we’re surprised and pleased to report that this coin weathered its mixed company and awkward storage method admirably.

The strike is somewhat typical for the date, with some lightness of design at Liberty’s hair and the eagle’s neck feathers on the reverse. Douglas Winter’s reference on Dahlonega gold notes the following regarding this date: “The 1860-D half eagle is a relatively obtainable coin which is most often seen in Extremely Fine grades. It is more available in the lower About Uncirculated grades than its small mintage figure would suggest. It becomes rare in the higher AU grades and it is extremely rare in full Mint State.”

According to the current (11-’09) PCGS online Population Report, the present piece is the only MS-63 example of the date certified thus far, with but a solitary MS-64 piece the only finer example of the date recognized by that firm.

We note that NGC has not certified an MS-63 1860-D half eagle, though they do note a single MS-64 example of the date in their online Census. If you are one to put stock in individual population reports, this equates to the present piece being the third finest certified example of the date in a third-party grading service holder.

It is worth noting here that the finest of the four Harry W. Bass, Jr. specimens of the date offered in B&M’s sale of October 1999 was graded MS-62 (PCGS) and was the Farouk-Norweb specimen; the present coin outshines that piece in all regards. Not only is the present 1860-D half eagle one of the finest survivors from its mintage of 14,635 pieces, but it is a coin with a uniquely American story to tell: (more…)

Another Gold Rush for Wilmington Depository

Business already is good for a Wilmington, Delaware bullion and rare coin depository that opened three years ago, but it’s expected to be even better in the weeks ahead now that a major New York City bank depository has told many of its customers to remove their valuables.

fsd_112709“As soon as the news broke that HSBC was kicking out individual investors and even some commercial accounts to accommodate storage for large institutional accounts at its facility in Manhattan, I started getting phone calls from worried investors and even executives of some commercial firms who suddenly need a safe place for their gold and silver coins and ingots,” said Robert L. Higgins, CEO of First State Depository Company LLC that opened in Wilmington in June 2004.

The door to the 5,000 square foot vault weighs over 5,600 pounds. The depository has up to $400 million capacity insurance with Lloyd’s of London for the gold and other valuables shipped in from investors and companies nationwide, but Higgins says that insurance coverage may have to be increased with the anticipated additional requests for secure storage.

“It was surprising to see how many people who never owned gold before started buying it this past year. We’ve had many first-timers contact us to store their coins and precious metals purchases. Many people have put gold bullion coins in their IRAs.”

Higgins advises investors facing eviction from the HSBC depository to transfer their valuables prior to January first, whether to his depository or somewhere else, as long as it’s by year’s end.

“That way, you won’t have to pay HSBC’s annual storage fee that is payable in January,” he explained. “There’s another advantage for investors to move their valuables to Delaware. Unlike New York, there is no tax imposed on the payment of depository storage fees in Delaware.” (more…)