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All Posts Tagged With: "Coppers"

Coin Rarities & Related Topics: The CoinFest, Washlady Dollar, 1861-O $20 gold coin, Connecticut Coppers

News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community #25

A Weekly Column by Greg Reynolds

I. The CoinFest

The fourth annual CoinFest was held in Stamford (CT) from Oct. 28th to Oct. 30th. For the first time, Heritage conducted the official CoinFest auction and this auction was very successful. Below, I discuss specific coins that were sold in the auction. Also, the exhibit of Gerry Fortin‘s collection of Liberty Seated dimes added luster to the CoinFest. Listings of Fortin’s dimes may be seen in the PCGS and NGC registries.

In my view, bourse floor displays and trading activity were much more impressive at the second and third CoinFest events, in 2008 and 2009. This is partly because the scheduling of the show was then better. This year’s event was just too close to the better established Baltimore Expo and related auction events. Lot viewing in Baltimore for a Stack’s auction started less than forty-eight hours after CoinFest closed. More importantly, this year’s security policies at CoinFest were just too aggressive.

A lot of collectors who attend coin shows do not know that a particular show’s owners are nice people, and, whether a show’s owners are nice or not, collectors often do not wish to be placed on mailing lists or on any other kind of list. Over the last ten years, it has become common for marketing firms and other firms to keep relatively secret databases regarding consumers and to trade such information. Adults certainly should not have to reveal their home addresses or their ages. A list owned by nice people may be sold to nasty people in the future, or stolen by computer hackers.

Indeed, collectors should be able to anonymously attend coin shows. They should have the right not to be bothered and the right not to have their personal information scrutinized. Like identity theft, an individual’s privacy can be invaded without him knowing about it.

Collectors who attend coin shows know that they are likely to be video recorded, which is a sufficient deterrent for wrongdoing, and video recording should be the limit to privacy invasions. The very rare attendee who causes trouble because of severe psychiatric problems is not going to be deterred by aggressive security policies. Moreover, a criminal who is planning to follow dealers from the show is certainly not going to attend the show and be video recorded. Such a criminal will wait outside or use binoculars from a distance.

Aggressive security policies do more harm than good, and when collectors tell their collecting friends about such policies, coin show attendance drops. Besides, I strongly recommend that a collector who attends a coin show keep his driver’s license in his car or in a hotel safe (as people often do with passports in Europe). If a collector is robbed after walking from a coin show, he would not wish for the thief to get his driver’s license, too, which could lead to problems more serious than a loss of a few coins.

Coin show personnel, security or otherwise, should not be asking collectors for ID or pressuring people to reveal their home addresses. Before a few years ago, this was never done at a coin show, for good reason.

II. Washlady Silver Dollar

The Washlady Dollar is one of the most famous of all U.S. pattern issues. In 1879, there were also minted Washlady dimes, quarters and half dollars. These designs were considered and never adopted for regular U.S. coinage. Though the Washlady patterns are of silver denominations, these were struck in copper as well. Copper is much less expensive than silver. On Oct. 29, Heritage auctioned one of the finest known Washlady Dollars in silver. (more…)

Colonial Coins – The Connecticut Coppers

By Thomas K. DeLorey – Courtesy of Harlan J Berk

For a small State, Connecticut has played a large role in the field of colonial American numismatics. Besides being known for its wealth of pre- and post- Revolutionary paper issues, its most famous coins are the Higley Coppers of 1737-39 and the Connecticut Coppers of 1785-89.

Photos used with permission and courtesy of Heritage Auction Galleries

The Higley coppers were issued by Dr. Samuel Higley and his heirs, using virtually pure copper from a mine they owned near Granby, CT. Higley’s first token issue bore the picture of a deer with the inscription THE. VALVE. OF. THREE. PENCE. on one side, with three crowned hammers, the date 1737 and the inscription CONNECTICVT on the other. It is arguable as to which side should be considered the obverse, but common usage calls the side with the deer the obverse.

The next issue used the same obverse plus a similar reverse with I AM GOOD COPPER replacing CONNECTICVT. Perhaps someone objected to the use of the name of the state on an unauthorized private token. Someone certainly objected to the value Higley placed on the piece, which was no heavier than an English half pence of the period and sometimes lighter, and his third issue saw the deer side changed to VALVE. ME. AS. YOU. PLEASE. A second die saw VALVE spelled as VALUE. Both include the Roman numeral III beneath the deer, thereby hinting at the value that Higley hoped they would pass at.

Higley died in 1737 while escorting a load of his copper to England, and the mine was taken over by his brother, John. John was presumably responsible for a fourth issue that paired the Deer/III obverse with an undated reverse that bore a hatchet with the inscription J. CUT. MY. WAY. THROUGH., and a similar issue that bore the date 1739 below the hatchet. A sixth issue paired the undated hatchet die with an obverse that bore a 12-spoked wheel and the inscription THE. WHEELE. GOES. ROUND., but it is not known if this issue predates or postdates the 1739 issue.

All of the Higley pieces are very rare today, according to legend because they were popular among goldsmiths as a source for pure copper suitable for alloying gold. For an interesting but probably apocryphal legend regarding the supposed reason why Higley valued his tokens at three pence, see “The Early Coins of America” by Sylvester S. Crosby (1875 and reprints). (more…)