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Category: Unusual Items

Unusual Items: NGC Black Slab

On Nov 14th, a rarely seen and unusual item sold on eBay, but what made this sale interesting was not the coin being sold, but rather the holder it was in.

The coin was a 1924 Saint graded MS-62.  and it sold for $3805.oo with 9 bidders, over twice what one might expect given this is a common date Saint in an unremarkable grade. The 100% premium was for the slab, a First generation BLACK NGC Holder.

The eBay sellers description offered the following comments on the holder…..

“When NGC first started operations in late 1987, they used this black holder with a white grading insert.

The first generation black NGC slabs didn’t always carry the big premiums that they do now.

The main problem was, while Gold coins and untarnished Silver coins looked amazing, copper coins (especially brown oxidized ones) and other dark, circulated Silver coins proved hard to see with the black filling.  Thus, for the second generation NGC holders, the filling was changed to white and has remained that way to this day with NGC.

Following marketing advice at the time in 1987, the coin was inserted right-side-up the coin is upside-down reverse!  This was also corrected in the subsequent generations on NGC slabs so the coin would be right-side-up when the grading insert is viewed right-side-up.

The black holder was only used by NGC for a month or so (September-November 1987).  Grading was quite conservative in those days when compared to grading today.  As such, the black holders that surfaced in later years were cracked and the coin resubmitted in pursuit of a higher grade which is why they subsequently became so rare!”

Coin Profile: 2000-W Library of Congress Bicentennial Bimetallic Ten Dollars

The First and Only Bimetalic Commemorative Coin Minted by the US

The Library of Congress, founded on April 24, 1800, is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. Also the world’s largest library, it houses 119 million items– 18 million books; two million recordings; 12 million photographs; four million maps; and 53 million manuscripts.

The library’s rare book collection is the largest in North America and includes the oldest surviving book printed in North America – the Bay Psalm Book, printed in 1640; the world’s largest book, John James Audubon’s Birds of America, which is 1 meter high; and the world’s smallest book, Old King Cole, about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. This book is so small that its pages can be turned only with the use of a needle- and equally sharp eyes.

President Thomas Jefferson played a key role both in the U.S. Mint’s history and in the Library of Congress’ development. Jefferson proposed the decimal coinage system we use today and advocated founding a mint on U.S. soil. A lifelong reader, Jefferson donated his personal collection of 6,487 books to Congress for $23,950 after the British burned the new Capitol and Library in 1814. On Christmas Eve 1851, another fire destroyed two-thirds of Jefferson’s collection. Although many of the volumes have been replaced, nearly 900 remain missing and the Library is engaged in a worldwide search to replace them.

Not only does the Library of Congress supply whatever research Congress needs, it serves all Americans through its 22 reading rooms on Capitol Hill, its Web site (http://www.loc.gov/), and as a monument to our nation’s love of learning.

These commemorative coins are called the coins of many firsts.” The first commemorative coins of the new Century, they are also the first-ever gold and platinum bimetallic coins in the nation’s history. For the bimetallic version, the outer ring is stamped from a sheet of gold, then a solid core of platinum is placed within the ring. The coins contain about one-half an ounce of precious metal.

The bimetallic coin design was inspired by the graceful architecture of the library’s Jefferson Building. The outer ring is stamped from a sheet of gold, then a solid core of platinum is placed within the ring. Then, the gold ring and platinum core are simultaneously stamped forming an annular bead where the two precious metals meet. The obverse depicts the hand of Minerva, the Goddess of Wisdom, raising the torch of learning aside the dome of the Thomas Jefferson Building. The coin’s reverse is marked with the Library of Congress seal encircled by a laurel wreath, symbolizing its national accomplishment.

Designers: John Mercanti, obverse; Thomas D. Rogers Sr., reverse

Unusual Coins: Copper $10 Eagle Pattern Minted in France

Heritage’s Sunday Internet Coin Auction (bidding ends on September 26) features one of the more intriguing patterns ever offered. Lot 26512 is an extremely rare copper Eagle pattern produced at the Paris Mint by engraver Louis Charles Bouvet (1802-1865). Only two copper pieces are known–both from the King Farouk Collection–although they differ slightly in thickness and edge markings. A third, unconfirmed copper example is said to be in the holdings of the British Museum (per Stack’s 9/1998 sale). An example in gold or gold-plated is also known (per American Numismatic Rarities’ 6/2006 sale).

Let us backtrack now, for a moment, to July 23, 1844. Mint Engraver Christian Gobrecht died suddenly on that date. Largely due to his political connections with John C. Calhoun as well as his skill as an engraver, Mint outsider James B. Longacre is hired to fill the position a couple of months later. Chief Coiner Franklin Peale and Mint Director Robert M. Patterson oppose the move and despise the man but are forced to accede to it. Despite his talent as an engraver, Longacre lacked skill as a die-cutter; the many reengraved, repunched, and blundered dates in U.S. coinage from 1844 to the early 1850s are evidence. Nonetheless, from 1844 to 1848, Longacre merely needed to add dates onto mechanically made dies; there were no new pattern or circulating coinage designs launched during that time.

An article by Doug Winter from The Numismatist of May 1982, titled “What Might Have Been: The Story of the Bouvet Eagle of 1849,” picks up the tale from there:

“When the Act of March 3, 1849 became law, the long period of inactivity at the Mint ended. This Act, which authorized the coinage of gold dollars and double eagles, meant that the Mint quickly had to design and produce new coins in these denominations. Mint Director Patterson had already decided that Longacre would never be able to perform this type of work, So he surreptitiously devised a plan that would get rid of Longacre once and for all. He would have Franklin Peale, on his scheduled trip to Europe in the summer of 1849, locate a suitable replacement for Longacre. In connection with his plan, Patterson used the design of the new gold dollar as a sort of litmus test for the fledgling Longacre. If Longacre failed, as Patterson confidently expected him to, he would petition for the removal of his Chief Engraver.”

No documentation of direct contact between Patterson and Bouvet survives, but Patterson is known to have contacted Charles Cushing Wright and other talented contemporary engravers about producing master dies for U.S. coinage. (more…)

Mint of Finland issues a coin incorporating hand-crafted filigree

Filigree technique has never been used in coin minting before

Mint of Finland issues a coin which incorporates hand-crafted filigree on October 15. Mint of Finland presented the Cabbage Rabbit Filigree coin in American Numismatic Association’s conference in Boston on August 11. The Filigree coin aroused plenty of interest in the conference. The Filigree .

The Cabbage Rabbit Filigree coin will be issued by the Mint of Finland on October 15. In the middle of the collector coin there is a delicate rabbit made of filigree. The Cabbage Rabbit Filigree coin is a part of the Mint of Finland’s Year of the Rabbit series. The collector coin illustrates popular Chinese Lunar theme. Chinese astrology designates year 2011 as the Year of the Rabbit.

Filigree – traditional hand-craft art as a centerpiece for modern design

Filigree is a delicate kind of jewel work made with twisted threads usually of silver or other alloys. The silver wire is not much bigger than the thickness of a hair so making the filigree is very intricate, requiring fine attention to detail and steady hands. The filigree technique has been used in jewellery making for thousands of years but it has never been used in coin minting before.

One of the Mint of Finland’s design techniques is combining coin with fragile materials that haven’t been used in coin making earlier. “The Mint of Finland is the only mint in the world that offers collector coins minted with joining technology. The technology is developed and patented by the Mint of Finland. Before filigree the Mint of Finland has joined also stone and coin”, comments the Mint of Finland’s Collector Item’s vice president Mika Peippo. The patent number of the joining technology is FI 118505B.

In the EU-area the Cabbage Rabbit Filigree coins can be subscribed from the Mint of Finland’s webstore at www.suomenrahapaja.fi from October 15.

Mint of Finland is the leading company in its field in Scandinavia and the Baltic region. Mint of Finland owns Mint of Sweden (AB Myntverket) and 50% of Mint of Norway Ltd. (Det Norske Myntverket AS). Its activities include the design, marketing and minting of coins. The company is owned by the Finnish state. It encompasses two business units: Circulation Coins and Collector Items. Mint of Finland produces metal circulation coins, jubilee and special coins, coins sets, medals, badges of honour and jewellery. The group employs some 133 people and exports to nearly 40 countries. The year 2010 marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Mint by the order of Tsar Alexander II. During the jubilee year, Mint of Finland will issue five new collector coins, open an online boutique, and in October, Finns can discover how coins are minted at an exposition at the Finnish Science Centre Heureka. For further details about the jubilee year events, see our website at www.suomenrahapaja.fi (more…)

An Example of Yap Island Stone Money to be Auctioned During ANA’s Boston Coin Show

Yap Island is part of the Federated States of Micronesia, and is notable for its stone money, known as Rai: large doughnut-shaped, carved disks of (usually) calcite, up to 4 m (12 ft) in diameter (most are much smaller). The smallest can be as little as 3.5 centimetres (1.4 in) in diameter. These stones were probably little used before 1800, and the last pieces were produced in 1931. Prior to traders arriving at Yap, the Island Chief controlled the stones.

There are five major types of monies: Mmbul, Gaw, Fe’ or Rai, Yar, and Reng, this last being only 0.3 m (1 ft) in diameter. Many of them were brought from other islands, as far as New Guinea, but most came in ancient times from Palau. Their value is based on both the stone’s size and its history. Historically the Yapese valued the disks because the material looks like quartz, and these were the shiniest objects around. Eventually the stones became legal tender and were even mandatory in some payments.

The stones’ value was kept high due to the difficulty and hazards involved in obtaining them. To quarry the stones, Yapese adventurers had to sail to distant islands and deal with local inhabitants who were sometimes hostile. Once quarried, the disks had to be transported back to Yap on rafts towed behind wind-powered canoes. The scarcity of the disks, and the effort and peril required to get them, made them valuable to the Yapese.

In 1871 David Dean O’Keefe, a sea Captain from Savannah, Georgia was shipwrecked on the island. During his 30 years on the island, he obtained much fame in the islands, and considerable fortune, by gaining control of the stone quarrying. His exploits were brought to light in a 1954 film starring Burt Lancaster called, His Majesty O’Keefe. O’Keefe then traded these stones with the Yapese for other commodities such as sea cucumbers and copra. Although some of the O’Keefe stones are larger than the canoe-transported stones, they are less valuable than the earlier stones due to the comparative ease in which they were obtained. Approximately 6,800 of them are scattered around the island.

As no more disks are being produced or imported, this money supply is fixed. The islanders know who owns which piece but do not necessarily move them when ownership changes. Their size and weight (the largest ones require 20 adult men to carry) make them very difficult to move around. Although today the United States dollar is the currency used for everyday transactions in Yap, the stone disks are still used for more traditional or ceremonial exchange. The stone disks may change ownership during marriages, transfers of land title, or as compensation for damages suffered by an aggrieved party. It is now illegal to remove the stones from Yap Island, with severe penalties for disturbing the stones.

The piece Heritage is offering in its Boston Sale is a premium example of Yap Stone money, in exceptional condition: smooth round calcite stone with center hole quarried on Babekldaop Island, in the Pelew group of Islands, and transferred back to the island of Yap, 40 lb., 5 oz., 15-1/8 inches in diameter.

This Yap Stone belongs to the Numismatic Association of Southern California and was donated to the club many years ago by a primitive money collector. It has been displayed at numerous coin shows in California since becoming the property of the club. The NASC , in an effort to raise money for operating expenses, reluctantly consigned this wonderful item to Heritage for auction at the ANA.

Heritage, in their ongoing support of numismatics, has waived the seller’s fee, and 100% of the hammer price of the Yap Stone will go directly to the Numismatic Association of Southern California. Estimate: $5,000 – $6,000.

Lot 21988 – 2010 August Boston, MA Signature ANA World Coin Auction #3010

First Gold Coin Struck in the Name of an English King to be Sold by Spink

[CoinLink News] The UK auction firm of Spink has announced the upcoming sale of an Anglo-Saxon gold Shilling of King Eadbald of Kent dating from c.620-635. This is the first gold coin struck in the name of an English King and a rare and important piece of English history. Found near Deal Kent in 2010, this coin will be sold at auction on June 24th and is expected to fetch upwards of £8,000. (Editor: Seems very Inexpensive)

This type was long known to be amongst the earliest of Anglo-Saxon gold coins with a single example present in the important Crondall hoard found in Hampshire in 1828 and dating from c.670. The conclusive attribution of these coins to king Eadbald of Kent, reigned 616-640, though was only made in 1998. This followed the emergence of new finds which enabled the obverse inscription to be confirmed as avdvarld reges, and translated as ‘of King Audvarld’.

The name ‘auduarldus’ appears in Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica completed in 731 in which he wrote about king Eadbald of Kent. Given this and the presence of one of these coins in the Crondall hoard, the attribution to Eadbald is now accepted

While the Kentish Shilling or Thrymsa seems to have sought to match the Merovingian Tremissis, the design of this coin is peculiarly Anglo-Saxon using neither motifs found on Merovingian coins nor seeking to copy Roman types. In common with some other coins (e.g. the so called ‘Witmen’ and ‘Londiniv/Londeniv’ types), this coin has an inscription on the reverse. This can be clearly read on a example in the Ashmolean Museum as containing the word londenv indicating London as the mint or die source for these coins all of which share the same obverse die.

The real significance of these coins though is in the obverse inscription naming the historical figure of king Eadbald. This is exceptional for a coin of this period and is only certainly found again at the end of the seventh century with the Sceattas of Aldfrith of Northumbria (685-705). As such the Eadbald Thrymsa is the earliest coin issued in the name of an English king.

Eadbald succeded Aethelberht as king of Kent in 616. Aethelberht is principally remembered for having accepted St. Augustine into his kingdom and his subsequent conversion to Roman Christianity. It seems, according to Bede, that after his accession Eadbald fell foul of the young Church, rejecting Christianity, ejecting its Bishops and incurring the wrath of the Church committing ‘such fornication as the Apostle Paul mentioned as being unheard of even among the heathen, in that he took his father’s (second) wife as his own.’

Whatever Eadbald did, this situation did not last for he repented and was duly baptized, rejecting his wife and thereafter favouring the Church within his kingdom. (more…)

Russian Orders Fetch Unprecedented Prices at Morton & Eden Auction

MAGNIFICENT ORDERS GIVEN BY TSAR NICHOLAS I OF RUSSIA, LEOPOLD I OF BELGIUM, OTHO OF GREECE AND WILLIAM IV TO FIRST EARL OF DURHAM SELL FOR £4 MILLION IN LONDON AUCTION

RUSSIAN ORDERS FETCH UNPRECEDENTED PRICES
• Order of St Andrew insignia sells for £1,320,000 (world auction record)
• Order of the White Eagle insignia sells for £852,000
• Order of St Alexander Nevsky insignia sells for £576,000
• Order of St Anne Grand Cross insignia sells for £372,000

A magnificent group of recently rediscovered Orders of Knighthood conferred during the 1830s upon John George Lambton, “Radical Jack”, the first Earl of Durham, by Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, Leopold I of Belgium, Otho of Greece and William IV of England, were sold for a total of £4,057,080 by specialist London auctioneers Morton & Eden in association with Sotheby’s today (Thursday 10 June 2010). The sale had been expected to raise £500,000.

Bidders in the room, on a bank of telephones and on the Internet ignored pre-sale estimates and spent freely on the unique collection which was being sold by a descendant.

The Orders comprised the Russian Order of St. Andrew (the highest honour the Tsar could bestow), which sold for a world auction record £1,320,000 against an estimate of £140,000-180,000; the associated Orders of St Alexander Nevsky (sold for £576,000, estimate £80,000-120,000); the White Eagle (sold for £852,000, estimate £80,000-120,00) and St Anne (£372,000, estimate £30,000-40,000). In addition, the Belgian Order of Leopold I sold for £19,200; the Greek Order of the Redeemer for £21,600, and the British Order of the Bath for £24,000.

Breast stars for the Order of St Andrew made by Nicholls and Plinke in St Petersburg and Rundell Bridge & Co., in London sold for £180,000 and £120,000 against an estimates of £5,000-7,000 respectively and a miniature collar and badge of the Order of St Andrew by Wilhelm Kämmerer of St Petersburg in 1838 sold for £240,000 against an estimate of £20,000-30,000.

Even the fitted mahogany box specially commissioned in 1838 to transport the Earl’s orders was wanted. Estimated at £600-800, it sold for £12,000.

The sale, in which every one of the 22 lots sold, was taken by Lord Poltimore, the Chairman of Sotheby’s Russia. Bidding battles were long and involved as Russian and Russian-speaking agents spoke to their clients by mobile phones, while bids also came from the packed saleroom, on the Internet and from a bank of telephones.

Bidding increments were also unpredictable. Lots which opened at a few thousand pounds suddenly leapt into the tens of thousands and beyond, while in some cases bidding rose by £100,000 at a time. There was applause when the Order of St Andrew insignia was hammered down for a world auction record price. (more…)

1914 Richmond Federal Rerserve Proof Banknote Set to be Sold.

Heritage Auction Galleries will offer the 1914 Federal Reserve Proofs Presentation Set Number 1 in its upcoming Signature® Currency Auction, held in conjunction with the Memphis International Paper Money Show, June 17-19. It is estimated at $60,000+.

The set consists of 10 pieces: a Richmond district front of each of the five denominations along with a back for each of the five denominations. The notes have all been certified and encapsulated by PMG. The card that accompanied the set when it was presented to the Honorable Joseph E. Ralph, Director of the Bureau of Engraving & Printing, by Treasury Secretary McAdoo on December 21, 1914 is also contained with the lot.

Additionally, a copy of a letter dated Oct. 28, 1914 is included. The letter from Director Ralph informed McAdoo that the first Federal Reserve Notes would bear the “Richmond Federal Reserve District” seal.

“On Dec. 23, 1913, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act, which transformed the American monetary system and is now about to celebrate its 100th birthday,” said Allen Mincho, Director of Currency Auctions at Heritage. “Soon after that signing Joseph E. Ralph, the Director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, was assigned the task of designing and producing the new Federal Reserve Notes.”

During the next year, various prototype designs were produced until a standardized design was finalized in the fall of 1914. As a part of the design process, a small quantify of Proof examples were produced. These Proofs were printed from the actual currency plates on to card stock, with the Treasury seal and the all zero serial numbers glued on by hand by the pressman. On the back of each Proof the official “Proofing Room” number was imprinted in light blue ink.

Gene Hessler, in his book U.S. Essay, Proof & Specimen Notes, states that the 1916 “Annual Report of the Bureau of Engraving & Printing” notes that only two complete sets of Proofs were produced, although it is likely that either two more sets were unofficially created or that other Proofs were combined to make at least two more sets, as four complete sets are said to exist today.

Neither the Smithsonian nor any of the Federal Reserve Bank branches, or their headquarters in Washington, D.C., contains any items comparable to this first presentation set in their collections.

Heritage Currency Auctions is currently accepting consignments for the ANA Boston Signature Currency Auction that will be held August 11-13, 2010 in Boston, MA. The consignment deadline is June 18, 2010. Please call 800-872-6467, ext. 1001 for more information.

Unusual Items: 1913 Buffalo Nickel Struck on a Dime Planchet

1913 5C Type Two Buffalo Nickel–Struck on a Dime Planchet–MS66 NGC. 2.5 gm, which is exactly the expected weight of an Uncirculated silver dime.

This remarkable wrong planchet error is predominantly silver-white, but the centers display a whisper of almond-gold toning. Luster shimmers across the immaculate surfaces, which display the finely granular texture characteristic of first-year Buffalo nickels.

Well struck despite the undersized flan, although slight incompleteness is noted on the hair above the braid, the jaw of the Indian, and the flank of the bison.

The date, designer’s initial, E PLURIBUS UNUM, and UNITED are intact. Portions of the other legends are off the flan, although all are readable. Remarkably, all of the Indian’s head is present, as is all of the bison except for the tail. Just enough of the exergue beneath the E C in FIVE CENTS to confirm that no mintmark is present.

Nickels struck on dime blanks are much scarcer than cents struck on dime blanks, but when the error combination is encountered, it is almost always on Jefferson dies.

The Buffalo nickel on silver dime planchet combination is priced at $12,000 in the 2010 Guide Book on page 403, the highest specified price on the page with the exception of the Walking Liberty half on a silver quarter planchet.

However, such prices are for examples in typically encountered grades, which for century-old issues usually imply brief circulation before a fortunate finder realized the uncommon color and diameter. A flawless MS66 certainly demands a considerable premium.

The invaluable Heritage Permanent Auction Archives, which date back to 1991, contain 8,277 lots of error coins. None of these are Buffalo nickels struck on dime planchets, although Buffalo nickels on cent planchets have occasionally appeared at auction. The present error category in such outstanding preservation may never surface again in a Heritage Signature, and the opportunity is fleeting.

To be sold By Heritage as Lot 2039 as part of the 2010 April-May Milwaukee, WI CSNS US Coin Auction #1139

Unusual Items: 1853/4 25C Arrows and Rays Seated Quarter: A Strange Overdate

For Walter Breen to call a variety “strange” it must really be unusual, and the 1853/4 quarter does not fail to deliver.

Such a coin simply should not exist. Overdates, by their very nature, are always rehubbed over the previous year. And yet, here is irrefutable evidence that the earlier year was actually hubbed over the later year. Here is how Breen (1988) explained it:

“One of the strangest vars. in U.S. coinage is the 1853/1854, which I discovered in the Hirt collection (1976). This obv. must have been made during fall 1853, when dies were being prepared for both this year and 1854; an obv. die intended for 1853 was first given a blow with the 1854 logotype (whose arrows were differently placed), then several heavier blows with the 1853 logotype. Later states show only part of upright of 4 within 3; rarer earlier states show also part of the extra 85 and both sets of arrows.”

Because of the rarity of early die state pieces, some researchers have doubted the existence of the 4 beneath the 3. This coin should put any doubts to rest. Three major and minor points on the 4 underdigit can be seen on this coin, all of which add up to a convincing digit. First the main upright of the 1 is seen in the entire top loop of the 3 and extends downward slightly into the lower loop. From the bottom of the top ball of the 3, there remains a trace of the diagonal of the 4. On the right side of the 3, between the upper and lower loops, are traces of the vertical bar of the serif at the right side of the 4. Of course, the usual diagnostics are visible as well: repunching on the 8 and 5, and the profound doubling of the right arrowhead.

The 1853/4 is unsurprisingly the only quarter known to have been punched over the following year. When examples of this rare variety are located, they are usually well-worn and in later die states; often only the doubling of the shaft of the arrow is visible. This is the earliest die state we have observed, and light die clashing shows. This is significant as the die was lapped relatively early in order to remove the clashing. As Breen stated, “The latter [early die states] show heavy rev. clash marks, suggesting that obv. regrinding effaced both clash marks and the more obvious traces of overdate.” (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…)

Modern Coins – No-S Proof Coin Set to be offered by Heritage at CSNS


The period 1965 to 1967 was an interesting time in US numismatic history. The price of silver had risen to the point where it made no sense to make higher denomination coins out of silver. In addition, there was a widely reported coin shortage, despite record production levels.

As the mint scrambled to adjust, a number of emergency measures were taken. Production of 1964-dated coinage continued well into 1965 until the new clad planchets were ready. Then, to make sure that there was enough of the new coinage to go around, the mint decided both to cease production of proof coinage and to do away with mintmarks. The only concession of any kind made to coin collectors were the Special Mint Sets of 1965-67, not true proof coins, but high quality circulation strike coins similar in some ways to the satin finish coins in mint sets today.

In 1968, the mint resumed the use of mintmarks and the production of proof coinage, but with a new twist. Proof coins, like the prior Special Mint Set coins, were now made in San Francisco, and the S mintmark reappeared after a 12 year hiatus. Initially, the San Francisco Mint also manufactured some circulation strike cents and nickels, but their dimes, quarters, and halves were strictly proofs. The mint would eventually also make Susan B. Anthony dollars for circulation, as well as silver-clad Ike dollars and bicentennial coinage for collectors.

During the first year of S-mint proof set production, an unexpected hitch occurred. In a few sets full of S-mint coins, the dimes had no trace of a mintmark! This came about because at that time all coinage dies were prepared with no mintmark, which would be added only upon arrival at the branch mint. On one die, that didn’t happen, and an instant rarity was made.

Walter Breen opined that about six examples of the 1968 no S dime were known. If that is true, then Heritage has sold each of these coins an average of at least three times apiece. Nevertheless, the 1968 no S dime is clearly an extremely rare coin, likely R.6 or low R.7, surpassed in rarity among 20th century dimes by only one coin.

Heritage’s upcoming 2010 April-May Milwaukee, WI CSNS US Coin Auction includes a rather unique proof set: one each of the five collectible missing mintmark proof coins. Along with the 1968 no S dime, the set includes the 1970 no S dime, the 1971 no S nickel, the 1983 no S dime, and the 1990 no S cent. While none of these coins is as rare as the 1968 S-less dime, each is highly desirable, and a key to its respective proof series. All of the coins in the set grade Proof-68 or 69, and show the eye appeal expected of latter-day US Mint products.

Incidentally, the sole 20th century dime that is rarer than the 1968 no S proof dime is also an S-less proof. A mere two examples are known of the 1975 no S dime, and neither Heritage nor the major grading services has ever handled one!

Anyone have Change for $1 Million Dollars ?

Two Germans were caught in an Austria mountain town with 500 million dollars in counterfeit banknotes. It’s one of the biggest hauls of counterfeit dollars in Europe. But the culprits say they thought the 1 million dollar bills were real. Below is the article published in DER SPIEGEL Online.

fake_us_one_million_note_germany

He dreamed of living the life of a millionaire — with a villa in the woods and an Aston Martin V12, preferably in Quantum Silver, in the garage. Once a moderately successful provincial attorney, he had decided that he was no longer willing to simply look on while others made their fortunes with major business deals.

But his dreams of that villa, that Aston Martin and all the other trappings of wealth have vanished into thin air. Ralf Hölzen, 46, a tall, slender man with graying hair is sitting in a café frequented by retirees in the town of Goch in western Germany. On his plates sits a slice of Black Forest cake and he is removing the canned cream from atop his coffee. Once again Hölzen is living with his parents, only two blocks from the café.

At the end of January, Hölzen will face trial in a district court in Feldkirch, in Austria’s Vorarlberg region. Austrian prosecutors have filed charges against him and his accomplice, Dietmar B., 52, for attempted fraud and possession of counterfeit banknotes. (more…)

Unusual Items: 1874 Dana Bickford Ten Dollar Gold Coin

Heritage Auctions will be selling one of the two known Bickford $10 Gold Patterns at it FUN Sale this week. Below is the Catelog description of the coin and some history surrounding it.

judd_1373_bickford_gold_10The Bickford pattern ten dollar gold piece, known to pattern collectors as Judd-1373, is one of the most celebrated issues in the U.S. pattern series. Only two examples are known, placing the issue at the pinnacle of rarity. Both known examples have been meticulously preserved, and their size, attractive design, and majestic gold composition combine to make them breathtakingly beautiful numismatic patterns. The rich and mysterious history shared by these pieces adds to their irresistible appeal.

The Design

On the obverse, a fresh-faced, youthful Liberty faces left, with her hair tied back and wearing a diadem, ornamented with six stars, reading LIBERTY. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA rings the rim; the date 1874 is below. Liberty has an olive wreath tied around her neck. On the reverse a rope design forms six separate cartouches around the rim. In the center is the Latin word UBIQUE “everywhere,” with 16.72 GRAMS 900 FINE in three lines. In the cartouches are the coin’s exchange values in various international currencies: DOLLARS 10; STERLING 2.1.1; MARKEN 41.99; KRONEN 37.31; GULDEN 20.73; FRANCS 51.81. Struck in gold, with a reeded edge. The diameter is the same as a twenty dollar, but the planchet is thinner.

Bickford’s Proposal

Dana Bickford’s proposal for an international coinage captured the public’s attention in the mid-1870s. The following article explaining the situation was originally published in The Coin and Stamp Journal in Kansas City, Missouri (February 1876 issue). It has been reprinted in several sources since that time:

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Unusual Items: Remarkable Double Denomination Mule 1993-D Cent with Dime Reverse

ha_11c_error_fun09U.S. coins struck with dies of different denominations are extremely rare. Until recent years, none were known.

The most famous among those are the Sacagawea dollar reverse, paired with a statehood quarter obverse, of which ten examples are known, per Fred Weinberg.

In Heritage’s April 2006 Central States Signature, a 1999 cent with a dime reverse hammered down for $138,000, the largest prices realized for an error coin in a Heritage auction, excluding the 1944-S steel cent that sold for $373,750 in our 2008 ANA Signature.

Aside from malfeasance of a mint worker, the muled denomination error is only possible when the denominations involved are similar in diameter. A cent is 19 mm, and a dime is 17.9 mm, a difference of 1.1 mm or approximately 5%.

Given the billions of cents struck annually at the Federal mints, it was inevitable that an absent-minded worker would pair cent and dime dies.

Presumably, the mistake was discovered and the struck pieces were destroyed before dispersal, with the single exception of the present survivor.

This lustrous Gem shows the characteristics expected of a cent and dime mule. The dime side has a broad, tall rim, since metal was forced into the collar of the dime die by the wider diameter cent die opposite. As a result, the cent side has a soft strike near the rim, since metal in the vicinity flowed into the dime collar.

This coin is being offered for sale at Heritage’s 2010 FUN Auction as Lot 2383

Russian Order of St. Catherine Medal Sells for £322,000 at Morton and Eden Auction

Normally CoinLink does not report much on Ceremonial Medals or Orders and Decorations., which although very interesting, fall a bit outside are general interests. In fact the fist major profile we ran was for the Society of the Cincinnati Washington-Lafayette ‘Badge’

catherine_1_medal_120609That piece is believed to have been specially made for George Washington in 1784. In 1824, long after Washington’s death in 1799, it was reportedly given by Washington’s adopted daughter to the Marquis de Lafayette, a French nobleman who served as a two-star general in the American Revolutionary army and played an important role in the Revolutionary War against the British. The Washington-Lafayette Medal sold at Sotheby’s in December of 2007 ofr $5.3 million dollars, a result that is the all-time second highest auction price for a numismatic item.

The Order of St Catherine, Second Class badge or Lesser Cross, was made by Eduard, St. Petersburg, circa 1901-1908, with workmaster’s mark ??, in gold, diamonds and enamels. The original estimate was for £60,000-80,000

The Order of St. Catherine, the only Order of the Russian Empire for women (excluding the Order of Saint Olga, given only in 1916-1917), was founded in 1714 in order to commemorate and immortalize the actions of Empress Catherine I, wife of Peter the Great, whose selfless sale of her jewelry and property to pay the ransom of the Cossacks who were captured by the Turks in 1711 earned her the admiration of the court and country.

The statutes of the Order were first published in 1713, and on the 24th of November 1714, on the Empress’ name day, Peter the Great personally bestowed the insignia of the Order upon the Empress Catherine, creating her Grand Mistress of the Order. The order was to be limited to “Persons of the feminine sex” and was given in two classes; The Grand Cross, which entitled the bearer to wear a star and badge of the order, and the Small Cross, which entitled the bearer the right to wear the badge only. The badges were worn on the end of a red moiré sash trimmed with silver, with the embroidered motto: “Za lyubov i otchestvo” (For love, and for the Fatherland) (more…)

New Gold Indian Cent Error Coin to be Sold By Heritage at FUN

Exactly five Indian cents are known on gold planchets, according to information available. Among them are three dated 1900, this piece dated 1905, and an example dated 1906.

ha_1905_indian_cent_gold_error_120509The Judd pattern reference lists 1900 and 1907 gold cents in the section on mint errors. However, Andrew W. Pollock, III listed the 1900 gold Indian cents as P-1990 in the regular pattern section of his reference.

Pollock writes: “Listed in Judd as a mint error, but it is difficult to imagine that a Mint employee would be so careless as to feed gold planchets into a coinage press fitted with one-cent piece dies.” Pollock suggests that these pieces may have been deliberately struck for one or more collectors.

One example dated 1900 is also known in silver, from the identical dies as the 1900 gold Indian cents, suggesting they were all made at or near the same time. Rick Snow writes in A Guide Book of Flying Eagle and Indian Head Cents that “both the silver and gold examples are struck from the same dies, with light roughness on the reverse die, probably from die rust.” That all three 1900 pieces have higher weights suggests that they were specially made, perhaps without the knowledge of Mint officials.

Fred Weinberg explains that “the weights vary because in all probability, they were on planchets that might not have been filed down to the proper weight spread.” Hand adjusting of individual gold planchets continued in the Mint until circa 1910. Those three pieces are almost certainly fancy pieces made for collectors, while the 1905 and 1906 examples, on correct weight planchets, are more likely pieces truly made in error, and substantially more important as such. (more…)

Unusual Items: Lowest Graded Half Eagle Gold Coin to be Sold by Heritage

1857-S_5_pcgs_poor1_100509The mantra in almost all areas of collecting is Quality, Quality, Quality! High end coins are always in demand, regardless of the series. Dealers and well heeled collectors often go toe to toe at auctions chasing up prices for the finest graded, finest Known and condition census examples of both great rarities and classic coins.

However there is also another group of collectors out there. They search dealer boxes and online auction sites just as diligently, but usually little attention is paid to their acquisitions. However they are a growing group of “less is more” collectors, all looking for the lowest graded examples of coins they can find; The Low-ball registry set collector. The collectors who try to assemble the Lowest average grade sets, where PO-01 equals MS68-70.

In some respects, their search is harder than one might think. How many PCGS Fine graded Saints have you seen lately?

This month, at Heritage’s Dallas Sale on October 24th, these Low-ball collectors will get a chance of a lifetime, the opportunity to bid on the 1887-S Half Eagle in PCGS P-1.

It’s not only the single lowest-graded example of the date either major grading service has seen (PCGS Population (1/1535). NGC Census: (0/2464)), but it’s also the single lowest graded example of any coin in the entire Half Eagle series.

Interested in bidding on this item?, Click Here

Unusual Items: 1906 Indian Cent. Struck in Gold

One of the more unusual and rare items in US numismatics will be auctioned by Stack’s in their Philadelphia Americana Sale September 23-26 in Philadelphia,  is Lot 4299, an Indian Head Cent struck in gold.  From the Stacks Catalog description ……..

stacks_gold_indian_cent_092309“This off-metal error is 18.3 mm (horizontal) X 18.1 mm (vertical). 1.1 mm to 1.2 mm thick. Plain Edge. with Lovely olive gold fields join yellow gold lustre and coppery highlights in the protected areas. This specimen weighs 64.4 grains and was probably struck on a quarter eagle planchet, which should weigh 64.5 grains. The physical size of the planchet is also very similar to that of a quarter eagle (17.78 mm), the slightly larger diameter of this specimen accounted for by the spread during striking of the soft gold to fill the larger diameter collar (19.05 mm) of an Indian cent.

Only a handful of Indian Head cents in gold of various dates are known. The most frequently encountered Indian cent in gold is the 1900, which is estimated at two to four specimens, according to various sources. We have traced two specimens:

1) John A. Beck (A. Kreisberg, January 1975, Lot 609), later sold as Auction ’89:856, again as part of the 1991 ANA Sale (B&M, August 1991, Lot 4103) and now owned by error collector Mike Byers;

2) 1993 ANA Sale (Heritage, July 1993, Lot 8000). Although the uspatterns.com web site reports that “With regard to the 1900, 3 or 4 are believed to exist including the circulated 1993 ANA example and the PCGS65 Col Green, Beck, Byers coin,” this estimate might be on the high side. A 1900 in gold is pictured as coin 6 in figure 131 of Don Taxay’s Counterfeit, Mis-Struck and Unofficial U.S. Coins, but it is hard to determine whether or not this is one of the above two listed specimens.

The 1900 is listed as Pollock 1990, referencing the 1991 ANA Sale specimen, and it is also listed in Judd’s Appendix B. A 1900 specimen in the Dewitt Smith collection was purchased by Virgil Brand in 1908 and is listed in his ledgers as #46973, but it is not clear whether this is one of the pieces cited above. Also known is a silver 1900 specimen struck from the same, rusted dies used to produce the gold specimens. The 1907 is referenced in several places, including Judd’s Appendix B, but has not been seen at auction recently. It is not inconceivable that other dates exist, as well as additional specimens of known dates.
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Wirtland Crane: the first gold coin from a cybercountry

Wirtland has released its first gold coin, known unofficially as “Wirtland Crane” or “Gold Crane”. The 1/10 oz. coin is minted in 24 carat gold, in cooperation with coin designer Daniel Carr and his company “Moonlight Mint”. Daniel Carr is creator of “Amero” coin, and author of the New York and Rhode Island 2001 statehood quarters.

“Wirtland Crane” is considered to be the world’s first gold coin to be produced by an internet-based (virtual) country. The diameter of the coin is 16.5 mm, composition: 24 carat pure gold, weight: 1/10 troy oz. (3.2 grams). As the coin is not intended for circulation, it’s denominated symbolically at 10 ICU (International Currency Units). The obverse features a migratory crane, which symbolizes that virtual country transcends lands and borders. The reverse shows the coat of arms, and is also marked “GOLD 999,9”.

Wirtland’s Gold Coin Project is an integral part of the Economic Strategy of the first country in cyberspace, which currently unites nearly 700 citizens from all 5 continents. Wirtland is not seeking to introduce a new internationally recognized currency. “Wirtland Crane” formally has status similar to that of commemorative or collectors’ coins and medals. Its competitive price allows “Wirtland Crane” to be used also as an investment tool.

Wirtland Crane can be purchased online directly from the mint’s online store at http://tinyurl.com/lgpfh7, complete with official Certificate of Authenticity. The total mintage of Wirtland Crane will be limited, and the price (currently 135 USD / 95 euros) will be reflecting the current price of gold.

Background:
Wirtland [‘v¡rtl?nd] claims to be the world’s first internet-based sovereign country. Wirtland is an experiment into legitimacy and self-sustainability of a country without its own soil. An extract from Wirtland’s Statute follows: (more…)

1776 Brass Continental Dollar to be Offered By Heritage in LA

1776 $1 Continental Dollar, CURENCY, Brass MS63 NGC. CAC. To be Offered by Heritage on July 31, 2009

Examples of Continental Dollars are known in brass, pewter, and silver. The pewter pieces are common, those in brass are rare, and examples in silver are extremely rare.

About 15 brass Continental Currency pieces are known in all grades, and they are only known from the original engraving or the first modification of Reverse A. Breen recorded an example of the EG FECIT variety in brass; however, that piece has never materialized. Current rarity information indicates that there are three known examples of Hodder 1-A.1, and about 12 known of Hodder 1-A.2, the variety being offered by Heritage at the Summer ANA Money Show.

Walter Breen recorded this piece as his Encyclopedia number 1087, and described it as a brass “prototype penny.” While it may have seemed logical to Breen that the brass pieces were trial pieces, additional study has shown that assumption to be incorrect. Hodder studied the die states of both brass and pewter examples, and determined that they were struck simultaneously.
This specimen is the only one of those known that has been described as Mint State or Uncirculated in auction offerings over the last 40 years.

In 1967 the Stack’s cataloger wrote: “This specimen is Uncirculated with but one small corrosion spot on the left stand of the ‘R’ in ‘ARE’. If not the finest specimen extant, then surely equal to it.” Unmentioned in any of its past offerings, the reverse is prominently doubled. (more…)

Unusual Items: Experimental Alluminum Alloy 1942 Cent Judd-2079

1942 1C Cent, Judd-2079, Pollock-2076, R.8, PR66 PCGS. Regular die trial issue but struck in aluminum with a plain edge. Struck on a planchet that is almost twice as thick as a regular cent, although this is not evident in the PCGS encasement.

The pattern cents from 1942 are divided into two groups, those of the regular issue design as this piece and those modeled after the Colombian two centavo. The regular design patterns are far rarer as a group but limited to only three compositions: aluminum, zinc-coated steel, and white metal. Those modeled after the two centavo are far more available as a group and seen in a wide variety of compositions, but some are equally as rare as the regular issue die trials.

The Judd book (10th edition) makes an interesting comment about these pieces: “Regular 1942 Lincoln cent dies are said to have been used to strike coins in pure zinc, copper and zinc, zinc-coated steel, aluminum, copperweld, antimony, white metal, and lead, among other materials.” If this is accurate, then there are many other experimental alloy cents that remain to be discovered, as only three alloys are known today.

An interesting story is related in Andrew Pollock’s pattern reference on page 390: “2076. Aluminum. Plain Edge. Rarity-8. Reportedly, an example was received in change by an ice dealer in the Annapolis, Maryland area, presumably in the 1940s.” We cannot say for certain if this is that particular experimental striking, but we doubt it since the surfaces of this piece are so free from problems or contact marks. (more…)

Unusual Items: 1836 Gobrecht Dollar, Judd-63 Name Below Base, Starless Obverse and Reverse

Extremely Rare, One of Only Three Known, The Farouk-Baldenhofer Specimen

1836 Gobrecht Dollar, Judd-631836 P$1 Name Below Base, Judd-63 Restrike, Pollock-63, R.8, PR62 NGC. Silver. Plain Edge. Die Alignment III (the center of Liberty’s head is opposite the right edge of the N in ONE). This extremely rare muling combines the Name Below Base, Starless Obverse dated 1836 with the Starless Reverse of 1838. Only three such pieces are known.

These rarities obviously have their story intertwined with that of the Name Below Base Judd-58 dollars. Much recent research has been conducted on those pieces, and it is now generally accepted that none were struck in 1836. No Die Alignment I pieces are known, and no records exist of these coins until the late 1850s. This would be the earliest date the Judd-63 dollars could have been struck, and it is generally believed that they were actually produced sometime between 1867 and 1878, a time period that would correspond with one of the tenures of Henry Linderman as Mint director.

An interesting recent discovery by John Dannreuther further underscores the late striking period for the Name Below Base dollars. These coins all show effacement of C. GOBRECHT F. from the base of the rock–a move that was clearly done so that it could be added again below the base.

The Judd-63 dollars were obviously produced for sale to collectors as there was no obvious need for a starless obverse and reverse combination. All known examples show the same diagnostics. The reverse shows die cracks through the tops of MERI, the base of LAR in DOLLAR, and the top of TE in UNITED. All examples also show a raised die spur on the right side of the D in UNITED. (more…)

THE £2,000 PENNY

Metal detectorist finds 1200 year old coin in ploughed field

Cynethryth PennyAfter six years of looking, the penny finally dropped for metal detectorist Clive Nobbs.

It was like finding a needle in a haystack, but uncovering the coin in the middle of a 20-acre ploughed field was considerably more rewarding for the 47-year-old amateur archaeologist and historian.

This is no ordinary penny. More than 1200 years old, it is an exceptionally rare silver penny of Queen Cynethryth, valued at around £2,000. Cynethryth was the wife of King Offa of Mercia (AD 757-796).

“This is easily the most important thing I’ve ever found,” said Clive, an Assistant Quality Assurance Manager for an aircraft parts supplier. “It didn’t look like much when I found it. It was about four or five inches down and black with age but it turns out to be incredibly rare.”

The coin will be sold by specialist London auctioneers Morton & Eden on June 9. Specialist Tom Eden said: “This is an exciting discovery. All Cynethryth pennies are rare, but this example is very rare because it bears her portrait. Very little is known of Cynethryth herself, but she must have been held in high esteem for coins to have been issued in her name. Much more is known about her husband, King Offa, one of the great Anglo-Saxon rulers, famous for the dyke he built between Mercia and Wales.

“Cynethryth’s coins are the only examples struck in the name of a queen throughout the Dark Ages, both in England and Europe. In fact, no other women appear on English coins until the 12th century, when very rare pennies depicting Matilda were struck during the civil war in the reign of King Stephen. So Cynethryth’s coins are the first to depict an English woman and as such are of significant importance from an iconographic point of view.” (more…)

Unique Ancient Coin Die Tiberius, 14-37 A.D.

Ancient Coin DieWhile browsing the upcoming Stacks  Saint Ludovico and Firth of Clyde Collections  auction catalog set to commence on April 22-23rd at the Doubletree Hotel Chicago in Rosemont , Ill., we cam across a most unusual and unique item we wanted to highlight on CoinLink.

Occasionally numismatic items appear that few have ever seen, and actual production dies are one of these, however a die used to strike ancient coins is an even rarer item.

Below is some background on  unique example of an ancient coin die used to strike  a Tribute Penny – Denarius of the mint of Lugdunum, and perhaps the first known evidence of early coin brockage.

We hope you find this as interesting as we have.

The Stacks Catelog states the following:

Side view of ancient coin die“A Unique Die for a Tribute Penny – Denarius of the mint of Lugdunum. An official die with the obverse of a denarius stuck on the top. Laureate head r.; TI CAESAR DIVI AVG F AVGVSTVS. 161.16 grams. Height: 36.8mm, circumference: 31.4mm at its widest.

In Catalogue des Monnaies de l’Empire Romain, Tiberius- Nero (Paris, 1988), Jean-Baptiste Giard listed 12 known dies, 11 of which having been found in the Lugdunum (Lyon) area (an area of 200km).

Four were found in 1863 at Paray-le-Monial (Saone-et-Loire) and are now in museums. Six were unearthed in Auxerre (Yonne) in 1799, four of which are now at he Cabinet des Médailles de la BnF; the other two reside at the Musee monétaire de la Monnaie de Paris. And one was found at Vertault (Côte d’or).

This die come from an old collection in Poule-les-Echarmaux (Rhône), which is in the same area. (more…)

Unique Items: Undated (1840) P25C Quarter Dollar Master Die Impression

Judd-110, Pollock-123, Unique

Undated (1840) P25C Quarter Dollar Master Die Impression, Judd-110, Pollock-123Regarded in the past as a hub impression of the modified Gobrecht Seated Liberty design. However, a hub impression would have the design reversed. We believe this is a trial from the master die. This is the With Drapery design that is struck on an oversized planchet. This impression was struck, according to the Judd book, after Robert M. Patterson asked Robert Ball Hughes to prepare a plaster medallion of Gobrecht’s design for use as the basis for a new hub.

After closely examining this piece and even after John Dannreuther examined it, we still have more questions than answers about these two pieces. The Judd-110 appears to have been made on a lathe with fine lines on the blank areas outside the design. Also, each side shows a prominent centering dot. First, while the piece has consistently been termed as brass, it is really brass coated. Close examination shows areas of the central design that show flaking of the brass, notably on the extended arm and torso of Liberty.

Undated (1840) P25C Quarter Dollar Master Die Impression, Judd-110, Pollock-123The underlying core appears to be a base metal, darkish gray in color. Why was it brass coated if it was meant to simulate a quarter? The eagle on the reverse is notably soft around the outline of the eagle’s body. Why would a master die impression lack highpoint detail? Why are the peripheral design elements raised? It appears that a circular inner border was scored in the master die, then the letters were individually punched in–note the unevenness of QUAR. The reverse field is considerably lower and seems to have been polished away from the raised “track” for the peripheral lettering.

To help answer some of these questions, researcher extraordinaire John Dannreuther rendered an extensive opinion on these two pieces.

“When the Contamin portrait lathe was introduced in February 1837, the Mint had only hired engravers as Chief Engravers or as second or assistant engravers … Scot, Kneass, Gobrecht, Gardner, etc. were either plate engravers or other type engravers.

“In late 1839 or early 1840 (I have not pinned down the exact date), Robert Ball Hughes, a sculptor who was famous for the day, was hired to modify Gobrecht’s Liberty Seated design. Thus, we have Judd-110. (more…)

Unusual Items: 1792 Birch Cent

Images courtesy of the National Numismatic Collection of the Smithsonian InstitutionThe patterns of 1792 are among the most intriguing stories in the history of U.S. numismatics. Carl Carlson published an extensive article about them in the March 1982 Numismatist. In this lengthy and worthwhile article, he brought together findings from previous researchers who had examined the series, and led in a methodical fashion queries into when the pieces were struck, by whom, and where they were manufactured. The article leaves open several questions, some of which have yet to be resolved. One is the question of which Birch the coin refers to.

There are two varieties of Birch cents: The “regular” design has BIRCH on the bust truncation and is represented by 15-20 pieces today (including both Judd-4 and Judd-5). The other design is a unique white metal specimen with GWPt on the reverse, an abbreviation for “George Washington President.” As superficially different as these two coins appear, they are actually different engraving states of the same die. The two designs are punch-linked, indicating the same person engraved both at about the same time. The obverses are closer in treatment, but the reverses show evidence of considerably more drastic die work.

The half disme and the Birch cent are definitely related and from the same engraver. The half disme is virtually a mirror image of the Birch cent, with Liberty facing left rather than right as on the cent. Carlson’s article makes a clear case for the time frame of the striking of these coins from a December 1792 letter written by Thomas Jefferson. In this letter he implies there were no cents struck in the Mint itself before December, which leaves production of these coins to sometime before October, when the Mint presses were first operational. This leaves only one possibility for the location of the production of the Birch cents: John Harper’s coach house.

The question of just which Birch was actually responsible for these pattern cents has since proven to be not Thomas Birch, previously believed to have engraved the dies. Thomas Birch was born in England in 1779 and was only 13 years old in 1792. It is more likely that William Russell Birch, a famous Philadelphia miniaturist, visited Philadelphia in the spring and summer of 1792, although he only moved his family there in 1794. Carlson lays out the most logical origin of the Birch cent: (more…)

Unusual Items: First Bicentennial Ike Dollar “Waffle” Coin Found

Eisenhower Waffle CoinThe first known 1976 Bicentennial design Eisenhower dollar “waffle coin” has been reported by Brian Hendelson, President of Waffle Coin Co. of Bridgewater, New Jersey. It was discovered during the continuing examination of Mint-canceled coins obtained by Classic Coin in 2003, each with the distinctive corrugated, waffle-like pattern left by the Mint’s cancellation process,

“It is a Variety Two, dual-dated 1776-1976 Philadelphia Mint Ike dollar, and the first Bicentennial Ike discovered as a Mint-cancelled coin. I got pretty excited when I realized what I was holding,” said Hendelson. “It’s the only one I’ve ever found.”

“The mint takes in coins for exchange that are also waffle canceled. This is, thus far, the only Bicentennial dollar we are aware of that has gone through this cancellation process,” said Dave Camire, NGC mint error consultant and President of Numismatic Conservation Services.

Hendelson also discovered a small quantity of 1999 Susan B. Anthony dollar waffle coins. The SBA dollars now are individually certified by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) or Global Certification Services.

The Mint uses coin-canceling machines manufactured in The Netherlands to cancel rejected coins and blanks (planchets) prior to sending them to be melted. Rollers on the machine crush and crumple the coins giving them surfaces that resemble a breakfast waffle. Waffle coins are not Mint errors; however, they are Mint products, rejected and canceled at the Mint because of some type of production problem with the specific coin.

”Because they’re a product of the United States Mint, the waffle coins have become a popular collectible. Some people are trying to assemble waffle type sets of the available State Quarters,” said Hendelson.

For additional information, contact Waffle Coin Co., at (908)725-4377 or online at www.CertifiedEnterprises.com.