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Category: World Coins

Odyssey Marine Exploration Comments on WikiLeaks Information

“Black Swan” and HMS Sussex projects named in Government Communications

Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (NasdaqCM: OMEX) a pioneer in the field of deep ocean exploration, was named in several U.S. State Department cables obtained by WikiLeaks and furnished to the media worldwide. Some of the released cables suggest that the State Department offered special assistance in the “Black Swan” case to Spanish officials in exchange for assistance in acquiring a French painting confiscated by the Nazis during World War II and now controlled by Spain.

The cables indicate that the U.S. Government also provided confidential documentation on Odyssey to Spain.

Other State Department cables contradict Spain’s claims and support Odyssey’s previously stated version of events relating to the company’s activities in Spain, including the HMS Sussex project and the boarding of Odyssey’s vessels.

“While we are obviously concerned about these implications regarding the ‘Black Swan’ case, we are attempting to obtain additional information before taking any specific actions. I have personally sent a letter to the Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, requesting additional information and a review of the position taken by the U.S. in the ‘Black Swan’ legal case,” stated Greg Stemm, Odyssey CEO. “The possibility that someone in the U.S. Government came up with this perfidious offer to sacrifice Odyssey, its thousands of shareholders, and the many jobs created by the company in exchange for the return of one painting to one individual is hard to believe. The WikiLeaks cables clearly show that we have worked cooperatively and transparently with both Spain and the State Department for many years, in spite of claims to the contrary. That fact makes the revelations all the more disappointing. The cables also make us wonder what other agreements may have taken place between U.S. Government officials and Spain regarding the amicus brief filed in support of Spain’s position in the ‘Black Swan’ case.”

“We’ve wondered why the United States changed its long standing position on sovereign immunity, which prior to this case was consistent with U.S. law, international law and U.S. naval regulations that in order for a foreign country’s ships and cargo to be immune from the jurisdiction of the U.S. courts they must be engaged in military, non-commercial activities,” stated Melinda MacConnel, Odyssey Vice President and General Counsel. “These released cables do call into question the motivation behind the amicus brief filed by the Executive Branch supporting Spain in the ‘Black Swan’ case.”

Additional cables released support Odyssey’s statements that, contrary to allegations of certain Spanish officials, the company always cooperated with the Spanish Government and that permits from the Spanish government were granted for work on the HMS Sussex project. The cables also demonstrate the obstructionist activities carried out by certain Spanish officials who had personal reasons for trying to prevent Odyssey from working on the Sussex. These obstructions took place even though Odyssey has an exclusive contract for the archaeological excavation of this UK sovereign immune warship (which was on a strictly military mission when it sank in 1694 off the coast of Gibraltar). Odyssey filed an affidavit in 2007 with a chronology of Odyssey’s interactions with the Spanish Government since 1998. It can be accessed at http://shipwreck.net/pdf/ExhibitE.pdf. The document contains entries that are corroborated by information in the State Department cables, which directly contradict claims by some Spanish officials and the Spanish media. (more…)

Ponterio & Associates Kicks-Off 2011 with the January N.Y.I.N.C. Auction

Sale features outstanding selection of Mexican and ancient coinage and Italian banknotes

Ponterio & Associates, a division of Bowers and Merena Auctions, is pleased to present the January 2011 N.Y.I.N.C. Auction at the Waldorf Astoria in New York on Jan. 7-8. The auction will feature 2,558 lots including Part I of the Len Novotny Collection of Mexican Coinage, the Michael Demling Collection of Ancient Coinage, David Ian Wright Collection of Italian Banknotes and a superb selection of Fussli specimens.

“After wrapping up our December Hong Kong auction with the Wa She Wong Collection, we are excited to offer another extremely diverse selection of ancient and world coins and paper money,” said Rick Ponterio, executive vice president of Bowers and Merena. “Sure to be the center of attention, the 1854 Guatemala 8 Reales, lot 1036 and graded AU-55 by NGC, is perhaps the rarest crown-sized type coin for all of Latin America.”

Shortly after the production of this coin, the Republic of Guatemala adopted the decimal system and began producing coinage in Pesos and Centavo-equivalent denominations. This marks the coin as the first, last and only 8 Reales produced by the Republic of Guatemala.

Another anchor of the sale is lot 827, an extremely rare and important 1897 Anhwei Pattern Dollar, graded MS-62 by PCGS. “This particular specimen is clearly intended for special presentation purposes as it exhibits a bold, full-bodied strike with all special characters and sharp details,” said Ponterio.

Furthering the significance of the piece, the short-lived Anhwei mint only produced silver coinage for approximately two years before operations ceased and the mint was dismantled.

Additional coin and paper money highlights of the auction include:

· Lot 116, 1784/3 Mexico 8 Escudos, Key Charles III Proper Portrait, Choice Extremely Fine

· Lot 131, 1823 Mexico 8 Escudos, Hookneck Eagle, AU-55 (NGC)

· Lot 258, 1835 Belgium 40 Francs, MS-64 (NGC)

· Lot 357, 1850 Costa Rica ½ Onza, SP-61 (NGC), (Ex: Fredrick Mayer Collection)

· Lot 464, 1883 Honduras 10 Pesos, , AU-50 (NGC)

· Lot 549, 1926 Italy 50 Lire, MS-64 (NGC)

· Lot 550, 1926-R Italy 20 Lire, MS-65 (PCGS)

· Lot 2031, 264 B.C. Siculo-Punic Silver Dekadrachm, Time of First Punic War, Sicilian Mint, Choice Very Fine

· Lot 2536, 1892 Bank of Greece 100 Drachmai, P-45

· Lot 2611, 1913 Imperial Bank of Persia 2 Tomans, P-2, About Uncirculated, Consecutive pair

· Lot 2613, 1890-1923 Imperial Bank of Persia 1,000 Tomans Specimen, P-10s, Choice Uncirculated

The first day of the two-day auction will feature Part I of the Len Novontny Collection of Mexican Coinage and an array of world gold coins, world crowns and minors. The second day will host the Michael Demling Collection of Ancient Coinage, David Ian Wright Collection of Italian Banknotes, and ancient and world paper money including Fussli specimens. Lot viewing will be conducted before the sale at the Waldorf Astoria in the Morgan Suite, floor 18, Jan. 5-8. (more…)

Wa She Wong Collection of Chinese and Other Asian Coins Tops $10.7 Million at Hong Kong Auction

Exclusive NGC-graded sale marks most important array of Chinese coinage offered at auction in 20 years

Over 300 anxious bidders filled the live auction floor for the highly anticipated sale of the Wa She Wong Collection and other Asian Coins on Dec. 3-4. The Hong Kong auction, presented by Ponterio & Associates, a division of Bowers and Merena Auctions, featured 1,107 lots with total sales reaching $10.7 million.

“A collection of Chinese coinage of this magnitude has not come to market in over 20 years and it surely did not disappoint,” said Rick Ponterio, executive vice president of Bowers and Merena. “We saw such spirited bidding, the sale of the first 487 lots took an astounding 11 hours with many of the lots selling for multiple times their estimated value.”

Drawing worldwide attention, the collection is a compilation of Wa She Wong’s lifelong passion for collecting which contained multiple rarities missing from major exhibits including many scarce pattern coins that were never released into general circulation. Headlining the collection, the 1890 Kwantung Mint Specimen Set, lot 220, began with an estimated value of $300,000 and realized a staggering $718,750. The set represents a landmark in Chinese minting as the first silver coinage produced with modern machinery.

Another important coin was the extremely rare “Flying Dragon” Szechuan 30 Cash Struck in Copper, lot 311. Opening at $12,500, lively bidding quickly brought the coin to a final selling price of $460,000. “The buyer had been searching for this rarity, one of only two known in private hands, for more than 30 years. The two other examples known to exist are housed in public museum collections,” said Ponterio.

All major rarities in the collection were certified by the Numismatic Guarantee Corporation (NGC), a market leader in grading Chinese coins, and pedigreed as “Wa She Wong Collection” on individual holders. Additional highlights of the Wa She Wong Collection include:

  • Lot 3, 1920 “Yuan Shi Kai” Dollar Struck in Gold, MS-64 (NGC), realized $138,000
  • Lot 27, 1911 “Long-Whisker” Dragon Pattern Dollar Struck in Silver, MS-65 (NGC), realized $431,250 (Ex: Kann Collection)
  • Lot 130, 1844 Changchow Military Rotation Dollar, AU-50 (NGC), realized $103,500
  • Lot 139, 1909 Honan Pattern 20 Cash Struck in Copper, AU-55 BN (NGC), realized $126,500
  • Lot 147, 1930 Hunan Pattern 500 Cash Struck in Copper, MS-63 BN (NGC), realized $103,500
  • Lot 162, 1897 Kiangnan Dollar, Plain Edge, Proof-66 Cameo (NGC), realized $373,750 (more…)

Heritage’s World and Ancient Coin Auction in NYC

International numismatic treasures highlighted by rare German, Polish and South American coins, as well as the largest gold coin in the world, a Chinese 321+ ounce Beijing Olympics gold 100,000 Yuan

DALLAS, TX – As the profile of Heritage Auctions’ World & Ancient Coins category has continued to skyrocket over the last few years, each consecutive offering has raised the bar significantly. With the Jan. 3-4 New York Signature? World & Ancient Coin Auction at the Waldorf Astoria, coinciding with the New York International Coin Show (NYINC), Heritage has not only assembled its largest World Coin auction to date, it has also once again raised the bar in terms of absolute quality.

“With more than 5,000 total lots in this auction we have literally scoured the planet for the best possible international numismatic offerings,” said Cristiano Bierrenbach, Vice President of International Numismatics at Heritage. “The incredible scope of countries represented, and the depth to which the collections go is so advanced that putting this catalog together was like a getting a graduate degree in world numismatics at a crash course pace.”

More than 240 consignors have placed coins in the auction, most of which will be on display for lot viewing, Dec. 29 and 30, at Heritage’s jewelbox New York space at 445 Park Avenue (at 57th). To further entice International coin collectors, Heritage will have highlights from the upcoming auction the Norman Jacobs Collection of Korean and Japanese Coins, the most important collection of its kind, on display at the NYINC, January 6-9, at the Waldorf-Astoria.

A Polish Sigismund III gold 10 Dukats 1588, Fr-83, XF45 NGC represents one of the superb early highlights of the auction. This exceedingly rare type, with its clean lines and striking imagery is appealing as much for its numismatic value as for its artistic value, and is sure to be the subject of spirited bidding. It carries an estimate of $175,000+. (more…)

Wikileaks Reveals State Dept Deal with Spain In Black Swan Treasure Lawsuit

For years, Odyssey Marine has been in litigation with the Spanish government over a 17 tons of gold and silver coins that Odyssey discovered from “The Black Swan”.

The 19th-century shipwreck at the heart of the dispute with Odyssey Marine Exploration is the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes — a Spanish warship sunk by the British navy southwest of Portugal in 1804 with more than 200 people on board.

The Legal Proceedings:

Odyssey announced in May 2007 it had discovered the wreck in the Atlantic and raised 500,000 silver coins and other artifacts worth an estimated US$500 million (€324 million). The coins and artifacts were brought into the United States with a valid export license and imported legally pursuant to U.S. law. Odyssey brought the artifacts under the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court by filing an Admiralty arrest action. This procedure allows any legitimate claimant with an interest in the property to make a claim.

Spain went to the U.S. federal court claiming ownership of the treasure and the case is currently set for Oral Arguments tentatively scheduled to take place during the week of February 28, 2011 at the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Additional appeals have been filed by groups who have presented documentation indicating that if Spain is correct, and the recovered cargo originated from the Mercedes, they are descendants of the owners of Mercedes’ cargo and have legitimate property rights. Those claimants have recognized Odyssey’s archaeological recovery efforts and have acknowledged Odyssey’s right to a salvage award. (more…)

Sea Search Armada Seeks Rights to 1708 Shipwreck and Treasure Coins Worth $17 Billion

Sea Search Armada, a US-based salvage company, claims the Republic of Colombia owes it $4 billion to $17 billion for breaching a contract granting it the right to salvage the galleon San Jose, sunk by the British Navy on June 8, 1708.

The Spanish galleon San Jose was trying to outrun a fleet of British warships off Colombia on June 8, 1708, when a mysterious explosion sent it to the bottom of the sea with gold, silver and emeralds owned by private Peruvian and European merchants, and lies about 700 feet below the water’s surface, a few miles from the historic Caribbean port of Cartagena, on the edge of the Continental Shelf.

Jack Harbeston, managing director of the Cayman Islands-registered commercial salvage company Sea Search Armada, who has taken on seven Colombian administrations during two decades in a legal fight to claim half the sunken hulk’s riches.

“If I had known it was going to take this long, I wouldn’t have gotten involved in the first place,” said Harbeston, 75, who lives in Bellevue, Wash.

The 41-page federal lawsuit outlines a long, tortuous jpurney through the Colombian courts after the Glocca Morra Co. identified six shipwreck locations, between 1980 and 1985, operating with permission of Colombia’s Direccion General Maritima.

Harbeston claims he and a group of 100 U.S. investors – among them the late actor Michael Landon and the late convicted Nixon White House adviser John Ehrlichman – invested more than $12 million since a deal was signed with Colombia in 1979 giving Sea Search exclusive rights to search for the San Jose and 50 percent of whatever they find.

Colombia tried to weasel out of the deal after Sea Search recovered materials from the ship, proving it was down there. Colombia “delayed signing the written agreement it had drafted, and eventually refused to sign the offer it had made to SSA,” the complaint states. But nonetheless Colombia refused to let it salvage the shipwreck.

All that changed in 1984, when then-Colombian President Belisario Betancur signed a decree reducing Sea Search’s share from 50 percent to a 5 percent “finder’s fee.” (more…)

Spink World Coin Auction Realises over £3.2 Million

Over the past 48 hours, Spink auctioned their highest grossing coin sale to date. The fantastic catalogue of over 1300 coins totalled over £3.2 million in sales and generated interest from collectors around the world. Dozens of phone bidders, a standing only room and hundreds of participants on Spink Live contributed to a bidding frenzy in the room.

William Mackay, specialist at Spink, had this to say about the sale:

“This sale demonstrates the strong market for top quality, rare historical gold coins. It definitely showcases the extent to which the value of these sorts of coins have appreciated in the last few years. We are extremely pleased with the results of this sale which demonstrates continued confidence in the marketplace.”

Top lots included the following:

Lot 895
Henry VII (1485-1509), Sovereign, type IV
Sold for £180,000

Lot 949
Charles I, Civil War issues, Oxford,
small module type Triple Unite
Sold for £161,000

Lot 5
Mughal Empire, Jalal ud-Din Muhammad Akbar,
AV 5-Mohurs
Sold for £150,000

Lot 948
Charles I, Civil War issues, Oxford, Triple Unite
Sold for £120,000

Lot 975
James VI (1567-1625), second coinage,
Twenty-Pound piece
Sold for £102,000

About Spink

Spink is the world’s leading auctioneer of coins, stamps, medals, banknotes, bonds, share certificates and autographs, with offices in London, Singapore, New York and Dallas. Since its foundation in 1666, the Spink name has become synonymous with tradition, experience and integrity. Holders of three royal warrants and numerous records for prices achieved at auction, Spink offer an unparalleled range of services to collectors worldwide.

For more information, pictures or to request an interview with the specialist please contact Emily Johnston, ejohnston@spink.com , 020 7563 4009.

NGC at the Beijing International Coin Expo

The premier numismatic event was well attended and provided an opportunity for Chinese dealers and collectors to learn more about NGC and submit coins for certification.

Among the most important annual coin shows held in China, the Beijing International Coin Expo provides an ideal opportunity to look at the previous year’s coinage and look ahead to the next year. It is an event focused on modern coinage, with mints from Asia and around the world showcasing their coinage. NGC was present with its Guangzhou-based submission center, both accepting coins and providing information about certification. Additionally, NGC hosted an educational numismatic seminar conducted during the show.

The Expo, jointly hosted by China Gold Coin Corporation, the China Banknote Printing and Minting Corporation, and the China Numismatic Museum, was held on November 7 to 10, 2010, in the China World Trade Center. Nearly 250 exhibitors from 27 countries were present at the 15th annual Expo. This event is very popular with the public. On opening day, large bustling crowds made it difficult to maneuver down the aisles. As in previous years, a special-edition commemorative coin was issued in celebration of the event. Owing to its popularity, the opportunity to purchase this coin is awarded in a lottery.

The Chinese coin market itself is extremely vibrant, with many scarce modern commemorative issues trading at record price levels. Collectors identify strongly with commemorative issues from the past 30 years that celebrate Chinese cultural heritage. In particular, large-format coins that are five ounces and larger are highly coveted, as many have small mintages. The NGC Oversize Holder is especially popular for these coins because of the inherent challenges of storing and transporting large coins.

It is also evident that certification is gaining a greater foothold in the Chinese market, as NGC-certified coins could be seen throughout the exposition area. During the official auction of the Expo, nearly a dozen of the 110 lots were NGC-certified. Once again this year, NGC was the only certification company represented in the auction.

NGC also hosted an educational symposium to discuss certification with prominent members of the Chinese numismatic community. A detailed discussion of the grading process and grading terminology was followed by an open question-and-answer session. “Certification is attractive to collectors in China for three major reasons: first, collectors appreciate the protection it affords against counterfeits, which are of concern even in the Chinese modern coin market; second, collectors value the standardization of grade, which makes it easier for them to identify superior condition coins; and, third, collectors love NGC’s holder, which provides incredible long-term protection for their coins,” said Scott Schechter, NGC vice president, sales & marketing, who presented at the symposium.

Argentine Rarities to the Fore!

by Greg Cohen – Stacks

One of the many highlights of Stacks upcoming New York International Sale is a lovely and rare 1830 RA P 8 Escudos of Argentina. This is a key date example of the classic Sunface design, the second rarest date in the series.

This piece hails from the Porteño Collection, a small but high quality offering of Argentine coinage, and displays pleasing original gold surfaces with only light wear. This specimen was uncertified when offered in Heritage’s January 2007 sale, and was recently submitted to NGC for encapsulation where it was graded EF-45.

In his 1962 work, Argentine numismatist and researcher, Jorge Ferarri was able to track fewer than 10 examples of this date. In Calico’s “Onza” book, it is simply described as “Extremely Rare.” Even in the current information age, we can only positively identify two examples that have traded at auction in the past five years.

These include: the example in the October 2008 Spink-Smythe sale (which later appeared in the Ponterio New York International 2010 sale) and this example (ex Heritage NYINC 2007). Curiously, this date was missing from our (ANR’s) sale of the Eliasberg World Gold Collection, Goldberg’s sale of the Millennia Collection, our Kroisos Collection Sale, and other important recent sales of quality Argentine coins. While there are probably examples in museums in Argentina, the number available to the collecting public is quite small indeed.

Another stunning Argentine rarity offered as part of the Porteño Collection is an 1836 Rosas portrait 8 Escudos struck in silver. Called an “ensayo” or essay in Hector Carlos Janson’s book, research conducted by our consignor shows that the 1836 8 Escudos was supposed to be an 8 Soles piece, and thus the silver strikings (which are nearly as rare as the gold) are the officially struck coins.

There are four known examples struck in gold, including the Eliasberg-Clapp coin we offered in the Eliasberg World Gold Collection in 2005. Regardless of whether these are official strikes or essay pieces, they are extremely rare. The last silver specimen to sell at public auction was the AU-50 (NGC) that appeared in the Millennia Collection sale. The Porteño Collection example is sharper than the Millennia coin; unfortunately, it has been polished, and is now residing in an AU Details (NGC) holder.

Stack’s is proud to be able to offer these rarities to the collecting public—for the advanced Argentine coin collector, this is an opportunity not to be missed.

Morton & Eden Ancient and World Coin Auction Yields Surprise Result

Below are the Top Ten prices for a sale of Islamic, Ancient, British and World Coins Medals and Memorabilia relating to Edward VIII Historical and Renaissance Medals and Plaquettes, held at London specialist auctioneers Morton & Eden on Thursday November 11.

The surprise of the sale was the outstanding price paid for the Roman aureus of Maximinus I Thrax (AD 235-238) which tripled estimate to sell for £195,500 to a European private collector, bidding against telephones and internet interest (lot 272).

This wide-ranging sale also registered strong interest in Islamic coins where a poorly preserved but extremely rare Umayyad dirham of Ifriqiya dated AH120 also tripled its top estimate to sell for £4,370 (lot 30).

English coins were in demand and the Charing Hoard of coins of Edward IV (1461-70), discovered by a metal detectorist in Kent last year sold for a total of £2,300.

There were strong results for Italian Renaissance plaquettes and medals where a finely preserved plaquette of Marcus Curtius (the legendary saviour of Rome) by the famous sculptor Riccio sold to a U.S. collector for £16,100, more than double its top estimate (lot 585).

The sale demonstrated the continuing strength of the numismatic market despite the current world economic climate. Images are available on request.

Lot 272
*Maximinus I, Thrax (235-238), aureus, Rome, April-December 235, IMP MAXIMINVS PIVS AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right, rev., PAX AVGVSTI, Pax standing left holding branch and transverse spear, 5.37g (RIC 12; BMC 4; C. 30; Calico 3159; Alram 10/1B), well struck on a broad flan, a few minor marks but about extremely fine and extremely rare.

Ex Nelson Bunker Hunt Collection, Part 2, Sotheby’s New York, 21-22 June 1990, lot 789 and Rauch auction 46, Vienna, 14 May 1991, lot 597.

While the silver coinage of Maximinus is plentiful, in contrast, his gold is extremely rare. Of lowly birth in Thrace, Gaius Julius Verus Maximinus, known for his enormous stature (the Historia Augusta claimed he was over 8 feet tall) came to the notice of Septimius Severus and rose through the ranks of the army. When there was rebellion against the policies of Severus Alexander and his mother Julia Mamaea during the German campaign, the emperor was murdered at Moguntiacum (Mainz) and Maximinus was proclaimed emperor, bringing an end to the Severan dynasty. Maximinus’s reign marked the beginning of the so-called Crisis of the Third Century. He never set foot in Rome itself, and his harsh rule was resented by the Senate. On his way to Rome to deal with the insurrection there, he and his son Maximus were assassinated at Aquileia by disaffected soldiers.

Estimate: £40,000-60,000 SOLD FOR £195,500 Purchased by private European collector (more…)

The Legacy of the Swiss Helvetia Gold Coin

The Swiss Helvetia (1897 – 1949) embodies Switzerland’s status as a financial center of the world. The coin’s long standing reputation among investors and collectors illustrates its outstanding beauty and quality. The Swiss Helvetia, like other European gold coins, has a rich and lengthy heritage.

Ancient Origins

The name “Helvetia” comes from the name of Switzerland during Roman times. Julius Caesar conquered the Helveti in 58 BCE, but the name for the currency was resurrected during the Helvetic Republic, when a standardized coinage was reestablished. Prior to 1798, approximately 75 different entities were minting coins in Switzerland. Each entity had its own corresponding monetary system, so there were at least 860 circulating coins in the country.

The Helvetic Republic lasted from 1798 to 1803. Its goal was the unification of the numerous cantons of Switzerland. During that period the government introduced a normalized currency based on the Berne thaler. These francs were equal to 1.5 French francs. Although the Helvetic Republic soon ended, the new monetary system served as a model for various cantons in the newly formed Swiss Confederacy.

Currency in Transition

The country’s regions readopted their individual currency systems, with some modifications. Between 1803 and 1850, approximately 22 cantons minted coins, but less than 15% of the circulating currency was local. The remaining 85% was foreign, acquired during Swiss mercenaries’ exploits. Private banks started printing currencies to supplement coinage. By 1848 the Swiss monetary system included over 8000 different currency types. This trend of accepting foreign money has endured to this day; many businesses in Switzerland still accept international denominations as payment.

The Swiss federal governments sought to end this complication with a new Federal Constitution of 1848, which specified that only the federal government could produce and issue money. Two years later the first Federal Coinage Act made the franc the official monetary unit for Switzerland. The franc would replace any other currency used by the various cantons. The term “Helvetia” resurfaced as a name for the franc, recalling the country’s ancient origins.

Since 1850, the Swiss Helvetia has undergone only one devaluation, in 1936. The coin’s value dropped 30%, along with that of the US dollar, the British pound, and the French franc. Like the rest of the industrialized world, Switzerland chose to abandon the gold standard that year. The value of the Swiss Helvetia has remained strong ever since.

Swiss Helvetias as Investments

Sometimes called “Vrenelis” after their obverse design, Swiss Helvetias minted in the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth century have gained popularity among investors. Their exquisite design and outstanding condition make them a natural choice.

On the coin’s obverse is a portrait of “Vreneli” the fabled “Swiss Miss” of the Alps. The reverse features the Swiss Coat of Arms and the wreath of the Republic. They are generally available in brilliant uncirculated quality. The excellent luster and engraving of the Swiss Helvetia supplement the coin’s intrinsic value. Investors who seek a unique and historical precious metal will find the Swiss Helvetia a wise and interesting addition to their portfolios. (more…)

Sedwick Auction To Feature Shipwreck Treasure, Gold Cobs and World Coins

Daniel Frank Sedwick, LLC announces the release of their Treasure and World Coin Auction #8, scheduled for October 21-23, 2010, comprising 2789 lots, by far their largest sale to date. For the first time Sedwick has incorporated “World Coins” into the title, as the auction features almost 1000 lots of general world coins.
As usual the auction will start with Gold Cobs, more than 50 of them this time (mostly from shipwrecks), including several of the finest known 1715-Fleet specimens: a full-date and exceptionally struck Mexican 8 escudos 1714 and 4 escudos 1715; a near-perfect Lima 2 escudos and probably the finest known Lima cob 1 escudo, both dated 1710 and encapsulated PCGS, the latter MS-64. Also there are no less than nine Fleet “bogeys” (Bogotá 2 escudos) in this sale.

The next section, World Gold Coins, contains over 300 lots, most of them Spanish Colonial “busts,” including: the finest known Mexican 1 escudo 1733/2, recovered by Marty Meylach from the 1733 Fleet and the inspiration for his book Diving to a Flash of Gold; a unique Santiago, Chile, 1 escudo, 1755/4, from the famous Eliasberg collection; and well over 100 Spanish colonial bust 8 escudos by date, most of them starting below melt value.

The Ingots section features a collection of large, natural gold nuggets, as well as several important 16th-century ingots (including “tumbaga”) and a unique silver “piña” ingot from the Atocha (1622).

“This is not just a treasure auction–it is also a world coin auction, our first big offering of gold and silver coins from countries all over the world.
Daniel Frank Sedwick

In Shipwreck Silver Coins bidders will find hundreds of Atocha (1622) silver coins, both rarities and wholesale lots, in addition to coins from dozens of shipwrecks around the world assembled by two different collectors.

The Silver Cobs sections for Mexico, Lima and Potosí contain no less than four Royals (round presentation specimens) in various denominations. The Lima listings are dominated by the collection of Robert Mastalir, including a nearly complete date-run of 1R that contains several unlisted overdates. Featured in Other Cobs is a Santo Domingo 4 reales of Charles-Joanna (one of very few ever offered at auction), as well as a large collection of dated cobs from mainland Spanish mints.

Following a short but varied Ancient Coins offering (the first for Sedwick), the expanded World Silver Coins section comprises over 600 lots, with particular emphasis on Colombia (featuring Part II of the Herman Blanton collection) and the British Isles (Great Britain, Ireland and Scotland). There is also a large collection of British Admiral Vernon medals.

“Our most important items are in shipwreck artifacts, however,” says Sedwick’s assistant Agustin “Augi” Garcia, whose new book The “Tumbaga” Saga about some conquest-period silver bars is being released at the same time. “Of particular significance is a unique Tarascan (Mexican) silver rodela (plate) from the “Tumbaga wreck” (ca. 1528), featured in my new book and the important link for figuring out what the silver ingots of that time were made of.”

The Shipwreck Artifacts section also features a large gold-and-emerald pendant and a gold religious medallion and chain from the 1715 Fleet, followed by many lots of small artifacts from the 1733 Fleet, the collection of Marty Meylach himself. Non-shipwreck Artifacts include a large selection of colonial-era weapons, mainly flintlocks and swords, as well as several natural history items like fossils and scrimshaw.

The auction is rounded out by Documents and Media (books and catalogs), ending with a special, full-color, hardbound, limited edition #1 of 50 copy of Augi’s much-anticipated book The “Tumbaga” Saga, which the author will personally inscribe to the winning bidder. (more…)

Coin Grading in Paris, PCGS Grading Week a Big Success

Next Grading Week Event Will Be October 25 – 29, 2010

PCGS Authorized Dealers from across Europe eagerly attended another successful Grading Week conducted at the Paris, France offices of Professional Coin Grading Service, September 13 – 17, 2010.

Photo: Don Willis, Fabrice Walther, David Hall

PCGS Co-Founder and Collectors Universe President David Hall personally met with the attendees to talk about the current rare coin marketplace in Europe, the importance of third-party grading, and the next scheduled Paris Grading Week, October 25 – 29, 2010. “There is a thriving market for world coins in Europe and there are a lot of U.S. gold coins still in Europe. Paris is the center of the European coin market. There are dozens of dealers there and a ton of activity,”

“Certified grading is starting to be accepted in Europe. Many dealers and collectors are beginning to see the advantages of third-party certification and are quite enthusiastic about the new PCGS grading office in Paris. said Hall.

“There were many outstanding coins submitted, including an amazing collection of high-grade Greek coins and several hundred Brittany coins,” said Don Willis, President of PCGS, a division of Collectors Universe, Inc. (NASDAQ: CLCT).

Dealer Takis Syvridakis of Collector’s Shop International in Athens, Greece, who submitted a 1901 (Creta) 2 Drachmas that was graded PCGS MS64, said: “My client was more than pleased with such a grade and he promised to continue to send his collection to PCGS for grading.”

Syvridakis was also pleased to meet Collectors Universe President and PCGS Co-Founder David Hall in person in Paris.

“I was very impressed with his enthusiasm, his honesty, his knowledge and his visions on the coin market. He was very helpful with my collection, gave me great ideas for my business and many solutions to offer to my clients. I was very glad to meet him in person and felt quite privileged.”

Jonathan Fhal of Godots et Fils in Paris agreed: “We were very happy to get the opportunity to actually meet Monsieur David Hall. He had great advice and, indeed, guided us all along the process of selecting the coins which we should grade or not.”

Laurent Fabre of Monnaie d’Antan in Poses, France submitted over 200 Brittany coins from the prestigious collection of collector Alexis Bigot for an upcoming auction (www.catalogues.monnaisedantan.com/vso8) including an 1861 Napoléon III 5 Francs that was graded PCGS MS65. He described it as “certainly the most beautiful known today.”

PCGS Authorized Dealer Fabrice Walther of Numisaisne in Paris brought in for authentication and grading a large quantity of important rare coins he is offering in the upcoming Salon de Brogniart Paris show on October 16, 2010. PCGS will participate in that show.

“We’re now also eagerly looking forward to attending the big Coinex show in London, October 1 and 2, and the Warsaw Coinexpo in Poland, October 14 and 15, and, of course, hosting the next PCGS Paris Grading Week, October 25 to 29,” said Muriel Eymery, Manager of the Paris office and PCGS Director of International Business Development.
For a list of PCGS Authorized Dealers in the EU, visit www.PCGS.com/dealers and click on the map to locate your country.

To make an appointment for PCGS’ next grading sessions or to obtain more information, EU dealers can contact the Paris office at info@PCGSglobal.com or by calling Muriel Eymery at 33 (0) 1 40 20 09 94. Additional information on PCGS is available in English and other languages at www.PCGSglobal.com.

Coin Collecting: Do We Still Have a $20 Hobby ?

By Mark Benvenuto – The California Numismatist Magazine

If you are like many collectors, you may have spent a bit of time wondering just where our hobby has been going since 2007. With the economic slump, then the proclamations of recovery, you can’t help but wonder where that recovery really is when gold flirts with price tags like $1,250 per ounce, and when silver gets close to $20 per ounce. It makes a person wonder if there I still anything out there that doesn’t automatically have a hefty price tag slapped on it.

For all of us who pine for some bygone day when coins were cheap (if there ever really was one), we present for your collecting pleasure a laundry list of what can still be added to a collection for $20. Here we go.

First: Dealer bargain bins of cents, nickels, dimes, and quarters.

If you have always been the type of collector to wander past these jumbled, often chaotic offerings, slow down. Smell the roses, as it were. Dealers often buy large numbers of coins for a select few within the group that they know they can sell for a profit. This isn’t being crafty, sneaky, or cheap. Dealers have to live and have to eat. The coin business isn’t the grocery business, meaning you can’t eat what you don’t sell. The profit they make the difference between what they spend for a coin, and what they sell it for it what keeps the food on their tables. So, what happens to the many coins in a purchase that aren’t really big ticket items, but that might have been purchased along with those potential gems? They end up in the bargain bin.

Also known as the junk box, dealer bargain bins can be the home of some wonderful U.S. coins. Proof quarters, nickels, dimes, and cents that have been cracked out of US Mint cases sometimes end up here, often for only a dollar or two. A person with a bit of patience can assemble a date run of any or all of these denominations. Additionally, there are plenty of bins that have been sorted according to denomination and series. Wheat back cents come quickly to mind as a coin that ends up in plenty of “copper bargain bins,” if that is a proper term. Loads of these go for much less than a dollar per coin.

Older Jefferson nickels, as well as well-circulated Buffalo nickels, are also the stuff of bargain bins. Silver isn’t entirely absent from the bargain bin either. Roosevelt dimes are often found in them, as well as some of the more common Mercury dimes. A person with a keen eye and some patience can assemble some good looking date runs for $20 or less. If you move up to quarters, you’ll receive less of them for your $20 than you will dimes, but some careful searching can land you a handful of silver Washington, or even Standing Liberty, quarters. Certainly, these won’t be mint state specimens, but they can still be handsome coins.

Second: Silver dollars in circulated, but attractive conditions.

Okay, if smaller U.S. coins aren’t your bag, there are still some bargains to be had among what are arguably the most collected of US silver coins, the Morgan and Peace dollars. Those big, fat Morgans are not entirely out of reach, although $20 will only get you one. The common dates, such as the 1879, the 1880, the 1880-S and the 1881-S to name a few examples, can be had for about $20 each in grades such as very fine. Again, these aren’t mint state gems, but they aren’t dogs either.

The tail end of the Morgan dollar series also has a few promising items. Specifically, the 1921, as well as its siblings from Denver and San Francisco, can all be had for about $20 per coin in a grade such as extra fine. There’s a pretty trio that a person on a budget can still collect. The Peace dollars are just about always check by jowl with the Morgans when it comes to dealer selections. The most common Peace dollar is the 1922, with a mintage of a whopping 51.7 million coins to its official tally. Today you can nab one in almost uncirculated condition for $20. But don’t stop with just this one Peace dollar. Take a look through any of the reference price lists and you’ll find several of these large, silver disks that list at just about the same price tag. (more…)

Baldwin’s Ancient and World Coin Auction 67 & 68: The Official COINEX Auction

September 2010 brings with it “Coinex”, one of the most exciting events of the numismatic calendar and the largest Numismatic coin show in the UK. This year Baldwin’s are proud sponsors of the occasion and, as hosts of the official Coinex auction, a spectacular event awaits.

Baldwin’s two day auction is to be held over the 28 th and 29 th September and begins with the third part of the Michael Hall Collection of Renaissance and later medals, of which, parts one and two were sold earlier this year through Baldwin’s.

New York based collector and art expert Michael Hall spent over fifty years putting together an awe-inspiring collection and this, the final part, offers an array of choice pieces. Lot 2090, a 1671 Louis XIV Damascened Medal (estimate £800-1,000) by Jean Warin II is a beautifully crafted piece by arguably the best and most powerful French engraver of coin dies of the 17 th Century.

Warin (or Varin) came from a family of artists and distinguished himself primarily as a painter and sculptor. He was one of the first engravers to use the power of the medallic form for propaganda purposes in France. Carrying the title of controleur general Warin imposed strict controls over artists that they were allowed no artistic license, but were instead forced to reproduce official designs that commemorated the magnificence of the state.

This lot is a prime example of the effectiveness of his creations to this end. Lot 2614, a Gustav II Adolf Silver medal of 6-Riksdalers by medallist Sebastian Dadler, estimate £1,200 – 1,500, is another one of the stand out pieces of the sale and distinguished by the intricacy of the artwork on both the obverse and reverse of the medal. Dadler was one of the leading medallists of the 17 th Century, working widely throughout the courts of Germany and princely houses of Europe, amassing an array of high profile supporters at the time.

The Hall Collection is immediately followed by a diverse selection of commemorative medals and a section of Orders, Decorations and Medals. The extensive Commemorative medal section includes lot 3005, a fantastic 1666 Dutch silver Medal (estimate £1,500 – 2,000) depicting the “Four Days” Naval fight on the obverse and crafted by medallist Jerian Pool. The medal commemorates the famous action and carries a poem on the reverse by the Dutch writer and playwright, Joost van Vondel, which appears to have been written especially for the medal.

Commemorative and historical medals have become a feature of Baldwin’s flagship London auctions and the variety on offer in this sale is testament to the accurate cataloguing and historical referencing that assure Baldwin’s achieve the highest possible prices.

A small collection of military medals and decorations from the Seddon-Brown family are some of the most interesting pieces in the sale, most notably lot 3196, The Order of the Nile group of awards to Lieutenant Colonel Seddon-Brown J.P.O.N. the lots includes three attractive copied pictures, one of which portrays Sir Winston Churchill, with whom he worked closely and was personal friends with through his role as chairman of the Conservative party in the North East. (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…)

Turkish Numismatic Association Chairman Cem Mahruki Call for change in Ottoman Coin Law

Gold and silver coins from the Ottoman sultans are being melted down because traders are afraid of being charged with smuggling Lamenting rules making it illegal to have, purchase or sell such coins in Turkey, Mahruki says it is time for the government to reform the law

The following is from an Article from Hurriyet Daily News

“Turkey desperately needs to change its legal injunctions against the trading of Ottoman coins if it wants to preserve such heritage, according to the head of the country’s top coin-collecting association.

“In our country, people who are seized with a copper coin from the Sultan Mahmud II that is not even worth a Turkish Lira are treated like smugglers,” said Turkish Numismatic Association Chairman Cem Mahruki, who added that the system was very different in Europe.

“In most of contemporary countries, especially in the European Union countries, old coins are freely purchased and sold over the Internet,” he said.

Speaking to the Anatolia news agency, Mahruki said the Code of Protection of Cultural and Natural Properties banned the purchase and sales of coins until the last six sultans and only granted permission for collection under very stringent conditions.

Many moneychangers and junk dealers obtain old gold and silver Ottoman coins made of valuable metals everyday, Mahruki said, but added that such people typically melt and turn the coins into bars of gold for fear of the law.

“In this way, hundreds of kilograms of historic Ottoman coins vanish because those having these coins are considered as smugglers,” he said.

Law encourages smuggling

In this, the law does not prevent smuggling but, on the contrary, encourages it, Mahruki said. “Old coins that cannot find buyers in the country are found by smugglers for cheap prices and taken abroad.”

Noting that the potential for coin collection is high in Turkey, Mahruki said: “If the law is amended, coins that collectors easily purchase and sell will remain in the country and moreover, the ones abroad will be brought back. We can see its example in paper coins that can easily be collected, and coins inherited from the period of the last six Ottoman periods.”

Complaining about the high prices Turkish collectors must pay at European auctions to bring Ottoman coins back to the country, Mahruki said, “If the goal is to prevent smuggling abroad, there should be heavier punishments and measures against smuggling of these coins to abroad. It should be free to own, purchase and sales the Ottoman and Turkish coins.”

Mahruki also said the current law violated the right to property and that many families had old coins from their ancestors. (more…)

The Royal Mint’s Three Gold Coin Set to Commemorate the London 2012 Olympics

Faster Three-Coin Set to Commemorate the London 2012 Olympics

The Royal Mint launches its limited edition Gold Series – an exclusive three themed set created in fine 22 carat gold only. Inspired by the Olympic motto Faster, Higher, Stronger, the ‘Faster’ Series is the first set to go on sale in celebration of the 30th Olympiad in London 2012.

Including the rare £100 coin – the highest denomination for a coin available – the prestigious Gold Series is the ideal high-end memento of the first UK Olympics for over sixty years. With only 4,000 of these sets available to buy globally, this unique set is accompanied by an individually numbered Royal Mint certificate denoting the limited mintage of these coins and ensuring their high value investment in years to come.

The Faster Series coin set is presented in a luxurious hardwood walnut case with the Olympic Rings inscribed in gold foiling on the lid. The second and third three-coin sets of this singular collection, representing Altius (Higher) and Fortius (Stronger) will be available to purchase later in the countdown to London 2012.

Inspired by the classical heritage of the Olympic Games and combined with modern sporting achievement, each of the three coins in the distinctive Faster collection feature a different Roman God reflecting the first strand of the Olympic motto ‘Citius’ or ‘Faster’: Neptune, the God of the Sea, (1oz) watches over the sport of sailing; Diana, the Goddess of Hunting, (1/4oz) overlooks modern cyclists and Mercury, the God of Speed, (1/4oz) is depicted alongside track athletes.

The obverse of the coin has been designed by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS with the Olympic reverse designed by sculptor John Bergdahl, who looked at both the classical and contemporary interpretations of the Olympic Games. Bergdahl explained: “The Olympic ideals span more than two and a half thousand years of history so I took inspiration from combining the classical ideology of the ancient Gods with images of modern athletes in modern attire and equipped with modern technology. And who knows, maybe those same Gods will still be smiling down on us in London 2012.”

Dave Knight, Director of Commemorative Coins, commented: “The Gold Series is incredibly exciting for us; it is the only collection in our London 2010 coin programme to feature the iconic Olympic rings and is the first ever £100 UK coin not featuring Britannia. As the name suggests, the collection is exclusively in gold and will not be available in any other metal. All these factors come together to make the Series highly prestigious and highly desirable. With the Faster set being the first launch from The Gold Series, I have no doubt that global demand will be incredibly strong and sell out quickly.” (more…)

Chinese Gold Leads World & Ancient Coins section of Heritage Boston Sale

Trio of ‘Lucky Number 8’ Lunar Kilo 10,000 Yuan gold pieces top $480,000 combined prices realized in Heritage event

International coin rarities continued to assert their growing numismatic strength during the Aug. 11-16 Heritage Auctions Boston ANA World’s Fair of Money trio of auctions, realizing more than $8.6 million in Heritage Signature® World Coin Auction, part of the overall $46+ million total of the combined auction events.

More than 2,860 collectors were on hand – whether on the auction floor or online via Heritage LIVE!™ – to bid on the more than 3200 offerings assembled for the auction, which translated into a sell-through rate of more than 94% by value.

“This auction offered one of the strongest groupings of any World Coins event we’ve held yet,” said Warren Tucker, Vice President of Heritage World Coin Auctions, “and international collectors, I think, recognized that. As a result we saw excellent prices across the board, especially where British rarities were concerned; the Highlands Park Collection brought more than 30%-40% than our pre-auction estimates.”

The trio of Chinese 10,000 Yuan Lunar Kilo coins that took the top three spots in the auction showed that Chinese collectors are asserting their willingness to claim their nation’s numismatic treasures. It was an extremely rare Lucky Number 8 Year of the Dog 2006 Lunar Kilo 10,000 Yuan, Gem Ultra Cameo Proof, that led the pack with a final price realized of $162,627. That coin was very closely tailed by a Lucky Number 8 Year of the Horse Lunar Kilo 10,000 Yuan 2002, Gem Ultra Cameo Proof and a Lucky Number 8 Year of the Rooster Lunar Kilo 10,000 Yuan 2005, both of which brought $161,000. All prices include 15% Buyer’s Premium.

“The number 8 is widely regarded as a universally lucky number in Chinese culture,” said Cristiano Bierrenbach, Vice President of International Numismatics at Heritage, “and it proved very fortunate for Heritage in this auction, as well. We’re currently in a 20 Year cycle of the number 8, which began in the lunar year of 2004 and runs through 2024. All 15 of the Chinese Kilo Lunar issues are rare, but there is only one number 8 for each issue, hence the heated competition to acquire these beauties.”

Chinese rarities were not the only coins bringing seriously high bids, as the rest of the auction’s Top 10 lots show, with the top seven lots all breaking the $100,000 threshold. As closely bunched as the prices of the top three lots were, they were again followed closely on the heels by a previously unknown 1928 George V Specimen Sixpence, KM16.1 for type but an unlisted date, SP63 NGC, Reeded Edge, struck in .925 (sterling) silver, which saw spirited bidding between several collectors before finishing at $155,250.

Russian rarities proved popular in the Heritage Boston ANA World Coin auction, led by a spectacular Nicholas II Proof gold 25 Roubles (2 1/2 Imperials) 1896, Bit 312 (R2), Fr-171, Proof 61 NGC, which brought $149,500. This coin was thought to be a special commemorative issue for the Coronation of Nicholas II and was issued in a tiny mintage of 301 pieces, of which very few examples are known to survive.

The Edward Roehrs Collection of U.S. Regulated Gold proved to be one of the most exciting highlights of the auction, one of the most hotly contested groupings, as collectors seriously went after the important offerings in it, including an historically important Myer Myers regulated Half Joe marked by New York’s most famous Jewish goldsmith, perhaps unique, Brazil. Jose I 6400 Reis 1771-R, Rio mint, KM172.2. EF-45, which brought $92,000, while a Chilean Carlos III 8 Escudos 1775 DA. Santiago mint. EB in oval for Ephraim Brasher, KM27, VF, coin of great historicity and collectible appeal – a genuine Brasher doubloon – realized $80,500. (more…)

Odyssey Marine Exploration Challenges Claims by Spain in Its “Black Swan” Appellate Reply

Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. today filed its Reply to Spain’s Response in the “Black Swan” case, currently pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta, Georgia. This is expected to be the last round of written pleadings at the appellate court level. Odyssey’s filing is available for review at http://www.shipwreck.net/blackswanlegal.php

Odyssey is appealing the district court’s dismissal of the case based on the court’s finding of lack of federal jurisdiction. Odyssey’s Reply presents the following documented facts that debunk the misrepresentations made by Spain that contributed to the clear error in the district court’s earlier ruling and that have been repeated in Spain’s appellate Response:

  • there was no vessel and there were no human remains located at the “Black Swan” site
  • Odyssey acted legally and appropriately in the recovery of the “Black Swan” artifacts
  • evidence, including accounts from Spain’s “experts” and Spain’s own contemporaneous diplomatic communications, prove that the Mercedes (the vessel Spain associates with the site) was on a commercial mission on her final voyage — a fact that legally voids Spain’s claim of immunity under settled international law and conventions
  • a distinction between cargo and vessel is allowed and even required by settled admiralty law; and — according to the manifest of the Mercedes, the vast majority of cargo on board did not even belong to Spain — even Spain concedes the cargo was “articles of Spanish citizens.”

“The emotional and inflammatory language used in Spain’s appellate response serves to distract from the truth and the relevant legal issues. The story Spain tells mirrors the one it told at the district level, where the court made clearly erroneous factual findings,” said Melinda MacConnel, Odyssey Vice President and General Counsel.

“Spain’s filing has painted a negative portrait of Odyssey, but the company has always acted in full compliance with the letter and spirit of the law. We brought the artifacts to the U.S. courts for proper adjudication of claims, but we didn’t even receive a hearing on the jurisdictional facts. If the court did not have jurisdiction, it would have no legal authority to order transfer of the property to Spain, who did not have possession of the coins. (more…)

Ancient Fuhonsen Coins May be Japan’s Oldest Minted Currency

Fuhonsen Coins from ASUKAJapan’s money economy began earlier than textbooks have described when archaeologists unveiled 33 bronze coins from the late seventh century unearthed in the village of Asuka, Nara Prefecture in 1998.

Now ten years latter, Nine Fuhonsen coins, which are thought to be the nation’s oldest form of minted currency, unearthed at a former site of Fujiwarakyu, the ancient capital from 694 to 710, in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, differ slightly from previously discovered Fuhonsen coins, the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties

The finding suggests there may have been another mint in addtion to one discovered at Asukaike ruin in Asukamura.

Minor differences were found in the kanji character “Fu” used on the surface of the coins and a thicker frame surrounding a square hole in the center of the coins. The materials of four of the coins included arsenic and bismuth, and very pure copper.

The coins discovered in August 1998 at the Asukaike Ruins in Asuka, are older than the Wado Kaichin coins first minted in 708, thus bumping them from the archaeological record books as the nation’s first circulated money.

The bronze coins, whose existence has been known for some time, are called Fuhonsen, the name of a charm believed used during the Nara Period (710-784).
Empress jitoThe time at which Fuhonsen coins were minted falls into the Fujiwarakyo Period (694-710), which is based in modern-day Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, where three sovereigns — Empress Jito Emperor Monmu and Empress Genmei — once held court.

The research institute said the 1998 findings prove that Fujiwarakyo was aimed at creating a polity with solid political and economical structures based on the Taiho Code (Taiho Ritsuryo) of 701.

The code consisted of six volumes of penal law (ritsu) and 11 volumes of administrative law (ryo), modeled after the legal code of China’s Tang Dynasty (618-907). The researchers said the coins may have been cast under the order of Emperor Tenmu, husband of Empress Jito. (more…)

Champion Hong Kong Auction to Feature Tibet’s First Gold Coin

Tibet’s first gold coin has a very unique trait: it weighs 6.53g. While this legendary gold coin shares the same weight as the Chinese Kuping 1 Mace, it is not a common weight for Tibet. An absolute rarity, only six silver examples from the same dies have been found and, as of today, there are no known Tibetan gold coins struck to the same standard. For this reason, many believe it was struck for presentation purposes.

On August 23 this extremely rare gold coin, rated AU with an estimated price range US $30,000 – 60,000, will be one the Champion Auction 11 headliners at the Hyatt Regency Hotel Ballroom I, 18 Hanoi Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong.

It is well known that during the 17-18 centuries, no coins were struck in Tibet, but Nepalese coins circulated widely in the urban areas. On several occasions, the Tibetan authorities, rather than strike silver coins of their own, sent bullion to Nepal and received Nepalese coins in exchange. The exchange was made on a weight for weight basis, but as the Nepalese coins were only between 50% and 67% fine, the Nepalese were able to make significant profit.

In about 1750AD, the situation changed when Prithvi Narayan, the king of Gorkha, started to besiege the Kathmandu Valley. He closed the pages, and stopped any trading between the Newar kingdoms of the Valley and the outside world, including Tibet. As a result, the supply of coins in Tibet stagnated, but the demand did not stop increasing. Seeking to stem a potential economic crisis, the Tibetan authorities, for the first time, started striking their own coins.

Chinese reports from the time claim that the Demo Regent issued the first Tibetan struck coins in 1763 or 1764, and again in 1785 AD when the Dailai Lama issued coins, before a more regular coinage began in 1791 AD. It had been widely held that all Tibetan coins from this period were silver, in varying degrees of fineness. However, we now have tangible proof of a rare gold coin struck from uncommon dies.

The diameter of the gold coin is measured at 28mm with the previously noted weight of 6.53g, A. Lissanevitsch Collection. The obverse legend, “Sri Mangalam”, means auspicious, lucky or fortunate in Sanskrit and may have a similar significance to the Eight Lucky Signs (Asta Mangalam in Sanskrit) which appear on so many later Tibetan coin. The legends were designed four compartments arranged in a cross. The reverse legend, “dGa-ldan phyod-las rnam-par rgyal-ba” is Sanskrit for completely victorious in all directions, designed with eight petals around a wheel. The dGa-ldan palace, located in the Drepung monastery near Lhasa, was the traditional residence of the Dalai Lama. The mention of “dGa-ldan” leads many to believe that this coin was struck by the 8th Dalai Lama around 1785. (more…)

History of Coins: TWO-BITS, FOUR-BITS, SIX-BITS, EIGHT…

by Leon F McClellan as published on columnarios.com

Columnario and a CobHave you ever wondered why a United States quarter-dollar is called “two-bits”? Or, a half-dollar “four-bits”? Do you know why we call our basic monetary unit “dollar” instead of something else?

Two-bits, four-bits, six-bits and eight-bits make reference to the eight-reales silver coin of New Spain and Mexico. It is also called piece of eight and circulated in the English Colonies and freely in the USA following the Revolutionary War. As a matter of fact, the eight-reales coin was legal tender in the United States until 1857 and was the world’s most used coin at one time. It is the renowned piece of eight that became part of the Spanish Main pirate lore.

The coins minted until 1734 technically, are called a cob coins, because they were originally made by hand stamping “tail ends of bars” or “cabos de barra”, which were sliced as planchets from rudely cast, more or less round, bullion bars which were assayed and carefully weighed. “Cabo” might well have given us the name of cob, although it does mean a lump or small mass (as of coal). The second definition comes from the Dutch “kubb”.

Cob coinage was made at the first mint in the Americas in Mexico City, established in 1535. Authorized by a Spanish Royal Decree dated 14 September 1519 to melt, cast, mark and put aside the royal-fifth of the gold and silver being collected from the Aztecs in Mexico City (Tenochtitlan). He used the palace of Axay catl (father of Moctezuma II) for the task. This may be considered the first foundry of New Spain and of all North America.

When Cortes moved into a home in 1521 in what is today the Mexico City suburb of Coyoacn, he established the second foundry in order to meet the demand for currency and produced “more than 130,000 castellanos”, according to information in documents collected by Francisco Antonio de Lorenzana. “Castellano” (Castilian) was the current coin of the time. These were the first cobs of the New World. The royal fifth was faithfully sent to Spain in the Spanish galleons.

When the Viceroyalty of New Spain was established by Spanish Royal Decree signed by the Queen of Spain the 11th of May of 1535, the Casa de Moneda (house of coin or mint) was formally established. Beginning sometime in April of 1536, according to the best estimates, the first mint of the Americas started coining operations.

Cobs did not start pouring-out into world marketplaces until the reign of Phillip II, after 1556. These crudely minted reales (literally, royals) of silver were undated until 1580 when some were and others were not marked with the year of coinage. The first pieces of eight were struck in Spain, as early as 1497, although it was not until after 1572 that the Casa de Moneda in Mexico City struck them. Before that time, only denominations smaller than eight-reales were struck in Mexico. (more…)

Mother Teresa’s 100th Birthday Commemorated on New 5 oz Gold Euro Coin

Pope John Paul II embraces Mother Teresa on the new 5 oz. pure gold 500 Euro commemorative coin issued by France to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of this beloved Nobel Peace Prize winner. This memorable moment took place on February 2, 1986, during a visit of the Pontiff to the Missionaries of Charities order, in Calcutta.

When the pontiff arrived at the two-storey building in the heart of the city’s slums, he kissed the top of her head and she took him into the home she founded in 1950 called Nirmal Hriday, or Sacred Heart to tend to the needs of those suffering from cancer, tuberculosis or malnutrition. During his visit, the Pope helped the nuns to feed the sick and dying and was visibly moved by what he saw. Mother Teresa, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and was regarded as a living saint, said the Pope’s visit was “the happiest day of my life”.

The obverse quote by Mother Teresa can be translated as: “In our house there is always a bed ready for one more child,” and features Mother Teresa lovingly holding a young boy.

Mother Teresa was of Albanian origin, born Agnesë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu on August 26, 1910 in India. She founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950, and for over 45 years she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity’s expansion throughout India and then in other countries. At the time of her death, Mother Teresa’s charity was operating 610 missions in 123 countries, including hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, soup kitchens, children’s and family counseling programs, orphanages, and schools. Six years after her death in 1997, Mother Teresa was beatified by Pope John Paul II and given the title Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

Each Mother Teresa Centennial coin is 5 troy oz. of .999 fine gold, minted in Proof quality by Monnaie de Paris. Mintage is limited to just 99 pieces. Issue price was $10,950; for the current price and availability contact official United States distributor Panda America at 1-800-472-6327 or visit www.PandaAmerica.com.

Ponterio & Associates Realizes $1.6 Million in Baltimore Auction

Extremely Rare Kublai Khan Sells for $64,900

[CoinLink News] – Ponterio & Associates, a division of Bowers and Merena Auctions, realized $1,608,082 as the Official Auctioneer of the June 2010 Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo. The three-session sale, occurring June 17-19, featured ancient and foreign coins and paper money. Bowers and Merena added an additional $6,438,778 in sales with its five-session auction.

“Ponterio & Associates’ Official June 2010 Baltimore Auction resulted in strong bidder competition and equally strong prices realized for ancient and foreign coins and foreign paper currency,” said Rick Ponterio, executive vice president of Ponterio & Associates. “Iranian bank notes proved particularly popular in this auction, as did Chinese coinage and world gold coins in general.”

The most notable sale was lot 8278, an extremely rare Kublai Khan, the fifth Great Khan and grandson of Genghis Khan, 50 Tael Sycee Ingot. Issued in Year 14 (A.D. 1273) of China’s Yuan Dynasty, the piece realized $64,900. Leading the way among foreign bank note offerings, lot 7409, an Iranian First Series Toman, 1.6.1920, P-1b, Choice Uncirculated, sold for $17,700.

Additional ancient and foreign coin and paper currency highlights in the Ponterio & Associates June 2010 Baltimore Auction include:

* Lot 6037, Greece, 10 Lepta, 1831, cf.KM-12, cf.Geo-13, Chase-411-F.e, missing first “H” in “KYBEPNHTHE,” Very Fine, realized $8,850
* Lot 6089, Mexico, Charles II (1665-1700), Escudo, 1879 (J), Fr-5, KM-50, Very Fine, realized $8,850 (the first dated gold coin of Mexico)
* Lot 6551, Great Britain, William III (1694-1702), 5 Guineas, 1701, Fr-310, S-3456, KM-508, NGC XF-45, realized $10,325
* Lot 6601, India, Travancore, Sovereign, ME1057/1881, Fr-1403, KM-32, NGC MS-63, realized $9,853
* Lot 6750, Transylvania, 10 Ducats, 1605, Fr-305, KM-18, Resch-2a, NGC VF-30, realized $16,520
* Lot 7410, Iran, 1 Toman, 12.2.1924, P-1b, Extremely Fine, realized $9,440
* Lot 7420, Iran, 5 Tomans, 30.3.1925, P-13, Choice Very Fine, realized $9,440
* Lot 7422, Iran, 10 Tomans, 11.10.1927, P-14, Very Fine, realized $11,800
* Lot 8086, Ptolemaic Egypt, Ptolemy II (285-246 B.C.), AV Octadrachm, Alexandria Mint, after 265 B.C., Choice Very Fine, realized $10,030
* Lot 8286, China, Kiangnan, Dollar, 1898, L&M-215, Y-145a.18, “WU HSU” reversed, PCGS XF-45, realized $9,440
* Lot 8719, Venezuela, 5 Bolivares, 1888, Y-24.1, NGC MS-62, realized $20,650. (more…)

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: Southern California Auctions and Market Realities

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #4

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I. Today’s Theme

While both the Goldbergs and Heritage auctions contained a significant number of appealing coins that attracted collectors, both firms had much more exciting offerings in their respective Southern California auctions in the Springs of 2007, 2008 and 2009. Moreover, as John Albanese has emphasized, much of the demand in current coin markets is for Eagles ($10 coins) and Double Eagles ($20 gold coins).

Albanese is the founder of the CAC, and was the sole founder of the NGC. He finds that, this year, there has been “less demand for silver coins dating after 1837.” From my (this writer’s) perspective, demand for rare silver coins has fallen since the January 2010 FUN Convention, though will probably rise again soon.

There will be more exciting offerings of rare silver coins, in Boston in August, than there have been from February to June. Exciting offerings may spark collectors. Plus, relative prices for Eagles and Double Eagles will not increase, forever. Collectors will tend to gravitate towards other areas.

For decades, Jim McGuigan has been a specialist in U.S. coins dating from 1793 to the late 1830s. Jim finds that “things really slowed down after Sept. 2008.” This year, McGuigan says, there has “not been a lot of good pre-1840 stuff coming up at auction; when a good coin does come up, it usually does pretty well. 1793 half cents and large cents are as strong as ever. 1794 to 1796 [dated] coins are still pretty good” in terms of demand, McGuigan observes. The market for early coins that are not very rare is weak. “Randall Hoard large cents,” for example, “are easy to buy,” Jim points out. These are high grade, often appealing uncirculated, large cents, dating mostly from 1818 to 1820.

Demand is not great for Liberty Seated coins and Barber coins, I conclude. Matt Kleinsteuber, of NFCcoins, asserts that “this [Spring] was not a good time to auction” a collection of “gem Buffalo Nickels.” Matt twice put forth a similar point to me before the Heritage Long Beach auction.

Trading volume in common gold coins continues to be large. High End gold rarities, which are not necessarily expensive, are extremely difficult to find. (Please refer to my article on the Widening Gap for a definition of ‘high end.’)

Below, I discuss an 1854-O Double Eagle that sold at the Long Beach (CA) Expo. I devote considerable space to Dan Holmes’ Middle Dates as numerous collectors have expressed interest in reading about this event. Even collectors who do not collect large cents like to read about a comprehensive and famous collection that was built over many years by a dedicated coin enthusiast.

I talk about coins in the Goldbergs and Heritage Southern California auctions that I find to be newsworthy. Sometimes, coins are mentioned as examples to illustrate larger points. It is never possible for me to discuss all the very interesting or otherwise newsworthy coins in a major auction. (more…)

Fascinating Collection of Colonial “US Regulated” Gold Coins to be Sold by Heritage in Boston

EDITORS NOTE: Below is the full text of a Press Release from Heritage Galleries promoting the upcoming  Boston ANA sale of the Edward Roehrs Collection of U.S. Regulated Gold.  However what struck us the most was “What a Cool Collecting Theme !”  We often get so wrapped up in High Grade US coins, and the plethora of Modern issues that we overlook the incredible variety of ways one can collect coins, if you have a bit of imagination and think more “outside the box”. Our hat is off to Mr. Roehrs for helping to expand our somewhat myopic view of the numismatic landscape.

[ CoinLink News ] We are proud to present the intriguing Edward Roehrs Collection of U.S. Regulated Gold, including 73 different examples, at the Official World Coin Auction of the Boston ANA World’s Fair of Money, August 8-16, 2010.

One of the most fascinating and important episodes in America’s coinage history occurred in the early national period. Ephraim Brasher’s “EB” counterstamp, so well known thanks to the famous Brasher doubloons, was part of a much wider process in Confederation-era New York. Various jewelers were authorized to weigh and correct coin weights to ensure that the important trade with West Indies used foreign gold coins at their full value.

Thus, we find the counterstamps of Regulators Ephraim Brasher, John Burger, Joseph Richardson, Robert Cruikshank, Myer Myers, and Daniel Van Voorhis, on host coins from several countries, especially punches applied to gold plugs inserted to raise weight/gold content, including Brazil, Portugal, and England. Plus, this collection will include newly discovered goldsmiths whose products will be offered publicly for the first time.

This ingenious solution, using well-known goldsmiths to mark or plug coins, became widespread throughout the West Indies and it has been within collections of that specialty that many of these important American artifacts have long hid from view. The usual rules of numismatic value do not apply to these “Regulated” coins. Their enhanced value is created by actions that would reduce the value of other coins, such as drilling, plugging, and counterstamping. Indeed, these dynamic processes enrich their history and value, then the history of any individual regulated coin is further amended by actions taking place after regulation.

Regulated gold coins were typically found only in the most advanced collections formed in the early 20th century (and often very few examples) such as Garrett, Eliasberg, Ten Eyck, Ford, Roper, Brand, Jackman, and Newcomer. The few surviving examples often come with impressive pedigrees.

This catalog, with new research on smiths, weight standards, and provenance, will become a textbook in a field that has suffered from a lack of information. Reserve your copy now, and plan to participate in one of the most important specialized offerings of early American coins ever held.
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Coin Profile : Royal Canadian Mint 5-Oz Gold Coin – 75th Anniversary of the First Bank Notes (2010)

A reproduction of the allegory that appeared on the original 1935 $500 bank note

[ CoinLink News ] At a time when so many new coin releases exhibit such uninspired design, we can across this incredible beauty being offered by the Canadian Mint in a Limited Mintage of 200 pieces.

Perhaps we have just “classical” taste for the rich allegorical figures of yesteryear which seems to impart an importance to the design, or it may be that the “clip art” mentality exhibited on most modern coins just leaves us cold. In any case, this 5 oz gold just struck a cord, and provides us with a reminder of what exceptional coinage could, and should look like.

The design is a reproduction of the allegory that appeared on the original 1935 $500 bank note; a seated woman holding a sickle surrounded by the fruits of harvest to symbolize fertility.

This is the fourth time that the Mint has produced a 5oz gold coin. Previous issues: 2007 – Queen’s 60th Wedding Anniversary, 2008 – 100th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Mint and 2009 – 150th Ann. of beginning of Construction of Parliament Buildings.

Theme:
The Bank of Canada began operating 75 years ago in 1935 and was given responsibility to regulate the country’s money supply and to “promote the economic and financial welfare of Canada.” Accordingly, it was given the exclusive right to issue Canada’s bank notes. On March 11, 1935, the Bank of Canada issued its first series of bank notes.

The inaugural series of 1935 included denominations of $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500 and $1,000. (A $25 note was issued later in 1935 to commemorate the silver jubilee of King George V).

The front of the notes featured a portrait of a member of the royal family or of a former Canadian prime minister while allegorical figures representing Canada’s growing agricultural, industrial and commercial prosperity appeared on the back. Each denomination was available in English or French, a practice that ended with the introduction of bilingual notes in 1937.

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