Monday, March 31, 2014

Collection - 1837 Illustrious Predecessor/Executive Experiment

Note:  Everything is in a safe deposit box.  I keep nothing in my home. 

Previous Coin
Next Coin

This is a Van Buren (Jackson's successor) token.  "Illustrious Predecessor" of course refers to Jackson.   This is HT-33, commonly available for $25 or so.   Being slightly off-center like this is normal for these coins.

Not Certified

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Collection - 1833 Jackson Token HTT-71

Note:  Everything is in a safe deposit box.  I keep nothing in my home. 

Previous Coin
Next Coin

One of these was in the collection I inherited.

It's an HTT-71 "Jackson" token - a political item protesting his policies.  It was made by the Scovill Manufacturing Company of Waterbury, Connecticut around 1833 as political satire directed at Andrew Jackson's desire to abolish the Second Bank of the United_States.  “I take the responsibility” is what Jackson said when he transferred the Bank of the United States funds into 25 state banks.

On better examples you can see the letters LL.D on the donkey. That was a poke at the honorary degree Harvard had awarded the poorly educated Jackson.

Jackson is partially blamed for causing the The Panic of 1837.

These are very common, $20 or so (2014).  One like it was in the collection I inherited.

Jackson's political opinions are well expressed here:

It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society — the farmers, mechanics, and laborers — who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing.

Not Certified

Collection: 1832 Philadelphia Mint/Lords Prayer Medal

Note:  Everything is in a safe deposit box.  I keep nothing in my home. 

Previous Coin
Next Coin

According to what I've found by asking in forums:

The token is listed in "The Standard Catalog of United States Tokens, 1700-1900" by Russell Rulau. This token is listed by Rulau in the section of Pennsylvania Trade tokens. The token was produced by George B. Soley on the Mint's first steam coinage press, which he had acquired as scrap in 1875. Relatively common, extant pieces are available in high grade. It is listed as: PA-Ph 394. Sold at various late 19th century expositions and at the Philadelphia Mint as souvenirs. 

I was able to confirm that with other research.

It's about a half inch (13.4 mm) and was struck around 1860. It would usually have come with a ribbon:

A coin like this was in the coins I inherited and later sold.  They are easy to find and not expensive - $10 to $20 or so (2014).

Not Certified

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Collection - 1816 Large Cent

Note:  Everything is in a safe deposit box.  I keep nothing in my home. 

Previous Coin
Next Coin

She's no beauty, is she? Knocked about, jangled in many a pocket and purse and she ran into something really hard and sharp at some time in her long life.

But I love her. She's almost two hundred years old and she's full of spunk and character!

By the way, she was born in hard times: 1816 was the famous year without a summer. Crops were destroyed Some hungry New England farmer might have clutched this coin and calculated how much food it and the rest of his meager wealth could buy.

She has lived through many a boom and bust and too many wars. She's seen almost all the history of the United States and has passed through untold hands. Today she sits in a safety deposit box along with other coins much prettier and supposedly more valuable.

But they haven't seen what she's seen, have they?

Not Certified
Previous Coin
Next Coin

Collection - 1806 1/2 Cent

Note:  Everything is in a safe deposit box.  I keep nothing in my home. 

Previous Coin
Next Coin

This is one of my favorite pieces.  Low mintage to start with (356,000) and PCGS estimates that only 1,000 or so survive today.  Yet you can buy a really pretty example like this for around $500 or less (2014).

This is the "Large 6, Stems" variety, but few people collect half cents by variety or date - it's mostly in type sets.  Pretty coin, no doubt.


Previous Coin
Next Coin

Collection - 1788 Massachusetts Cent

Note:  Everything is in a safe deposit box.  I keep nothing in my home. 

I like this coin.  It's real, not a restrike.  Given the rarity and age, these are inexpensive - I paid $590.00 for this in 2014.  

These coins are (I think) the very first to use the word CENT.  We do call the Fugio Coins "cents", but they don't say it and it looks to me like the 1787 MA cent was minted before the Fugio's anyway.

Collection - Fugio "New Haven Restrike"

Note:  Everything is in a safe deposit box.  I keep nothing in my home.
Previous Coin
Next Coin

There's a lot of funny stuff associated with "New Haven Restrikes". They were not made in New Haven, CT, but down the road a poke in Waterbury. Nor were they restrikes, but actually came from counterfeit dies. Finally, they were made around 1859, not 1787 as the real ones were.

Still, I can't afford a real one in that grade and the ones I can afford usually are pitted or scratched, so I went for the fake. Fake though they are, a MS67 was auctioned for $9,775.00 in 2007, so there's fake and then there is fake that people will pay respectable money for. This AU was $595.00 in 2014, which isn't exactly cheap.

By the way, and yes, it's somewhat of a rhetorical question, but why is it that when common people buy fakes like this and the 1804 dollar and some others, we end up with worthless junk, but when it's rich and important people who first buy the fakes, the fakes stay valuable and are accepted as though they were real?

By the way, beware of Becker restrikes.  These are collectible but are less expensive than the 1859 restrikes.


Previous Coin
Next Coin

Collection - 1787 Machin's Mills

Previous Coin
Next Coin

Note:  Everything is in a safe deposit box.  I keep nothing in my home. 

The reason for this is that one like it was among the coins given to me when I was a young boy. I was fascinated by the half and large cents, the three cent pieces and the twenty cent piece, but I wasn't very interested in that coin. Oh, the old date was cool, but I thought it was a British coin and that just didn't interest me. The coin was even lower grade than this one; the date was barely visible and it had been harshly cleaned. With all that going against it, I was not enchanted and at some point I sold it for a few dollars to someone else. 

Well, much later I learned that it couldn't have been British because Britain made no half pennies (which is what this is) in 1787. No, it was a "Machin's Mills" counterfeit (counterfeit to British eyes, not American). 

You can Google "Machin's Mills" to learn more about these, but I was very happy to find an affordable replacement for the oldest of those long lost coins. Ugly as it is, it's one of my very favorite pieces. 

One note: this coin is probably less circulated than you might think. The folks who produced these wanted them to look used and worn in order to pass them off more easily, so they deliberately designed weak dies and tumbled the planchets to beat them up some!

Not Certified.  Paid $177.00 in 2014.

Collection - 1776 Continental Dollar Restrike

This is not a real Continental Dollar.  The genuine article would run at least $40 - $50,000 and more - much, much  more for high grade pieces. 

This collectible restrike is now sitting in my safe deposit box.  

This is really a restrike from 1962. It's not particularly pricey because several thousand were made: see 

But it is a restrike of a fake!  The dies used were made in the 1870's, not 1776. See Page 3 of

Fascinating degrees of reality, isn't it?  Yet people collect these fakes and pay good money for them.   This coin is not something that you'd find in a dealer's junk box - I paid $175.00 for it in 2014.

By the way, Jeff Shevlin is a collector, researcher and author who specializes in "So Called Dollars" (see link earlier).  I liked that this particular coin came from his collection.

See also Continental dollar struck in Europe?

NGC Cert
Next Coin 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Another coin forum

I've been reading and posting at the relatively new MCM forums since Monday because of posts like this one about overdates (click to read).

There are several different sections now:

Members talk about coins, numismatics, precious metals like silver and gold and even have a chance to win some occasionally (as you can see in that picture).

I'm Pcunix there - c'mon over and say Hi if you are interested in coin collecting or bullion.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Coin Collecting - Silver (and non-silver) Dollars Part 1

See Coin Collecting and Genealogy for the first of this series.

Note:  Everything is in a safe deposit box.  I keep nothing in my home. 

I'll start with the modern bullion issues.  These are silver, have been minted since 1986 and are .999 fine (99.9% silver), which is actually more than the circulating silver coins of fifty years ago.

This "First strike" nomenclature as seen here is perhaps a bit of a marketing gimmick. In order to get that designation, coins must be submitted to PCGS (the premier coin grading service) within the first 30 days of the Mint's release or in a mint sealed box with a postmark indicating same.   Obviously that puts some upper limit on the number of these  that can exist. It also says that the dies were newer rather than older, but it doesn't say anything about actual quality.

The "MS70" says this specific coin is as good as it can get.  The scale runs from 1 to 70, with 1 being a terribly worn piece and 70 being something like this. The quantity of MS70 examples is limited by reality, especially with large coins like this - the slightest ding while being handled can knock it right out of that 70 grade.
Damage after packaging is less likely, but can happen: fire, floods, chemical contamination (these holders are not air or water tight), so the expectation is that these will become more difficult to obtain over time.  

Keep this in mind when buying high grade coins: just because the holder says it was graded at 69 or 70 doesn't mean it still is! 

Also realize that .999 silver is more reactive than .900 - it will tarnish more easily. Many of the beautiful MS70 coins put away now will not be bright in later years.  Some will still be pretty, but others will not be.

The value of previous year examples like this has risen significantly, but the real question is whether there will be long term demand for a non-circulating coin. Those who think that there will be point to Peace and Morgan silver dollars, which haven't been produced for circulation for almost 100 years and are very popular among collectors.  However, many who remember these coins from their childhood are still living today; people of a younger age may have less fascination with them. Modern "circulating" dollar issues are also a bit questionable, because they don't circulate to any great degree either. The hope was that they would, because coins last much longer than paper money. They take up much more space, though, even at the smaller size like this Sacagawea Dollar coin below. 

"Presidential" dollars (2007 to date) are the most recent attempt, illustrated here by James Madison.

I've never seen one of these in circulation and suspect that future generations will treat these (and perhaps the Sacagawea Dollars, too) as more like Commemoratives to be collected by specialists only. Whether that means that they will be worth more or less remains to be seen.

There are some more rare issues that are missing edge lettering, but as you are unlikely to find these in circulation and most banks don't seem to bother with them, you aren't likely to find any of those.

There is a long series of modern commemorative dollars starting in 1983.  These cover everything from the Olympics (1983) to the Girls Scouts (2013), with more to come. I don't collect any of them, though eventually I'll probably add a representative example.

Another issue faces all coinage: the day is not all that far away when all money will be digital. Will a generation that grew up without ever using money have any interest in any of this?

I'm sure some still will, but most of us started collecting  because we could find dates in our (or our parents) pocket change.  Sure, some people collect things that can only be bought, not found, but I suspect that's a tiny number, and it's usually not things as common as coinage.  As the old timers pass away, large collections will pass into the hands of perhaps very uninterested people. 

Long term, I'd expect the value of all coins to go down - though there may be a bubble as digital money first takes over.

But that's all still at least decades away. Let's keep moving looking at dollars.

Susan B. Anthony dollars were made from 1979 to 1999.  These were the first attempt at a smaller dollar and both the color and the hexagonal shape were supposed to make these easy to distinguish from quarters, but it wasn't enough and few circulated.

The Mint is really in a hard place here.  Smaller coins get confused and larger coins are disliked for bulkiness. 

If these coins did circulate, the 1979 "Wide Rim" carries a premium price.  

But they really don't.  Some get spent because kids may get a few as gifts, but the shopkeepers hardly ever offer them as change because customers prefer bills and perhaps because they don't have a slot for them in their change drawer. Back to the bank they go, to await the next doting grandparent who wants some.

That's pretty much true for half dollars, too, though I do still get a few in change.

It's interesting to note that this same situation existed for Morgan and Peace silver dollars when I was a boy. Children got them as gifts and the stores would quickly turn them into the banks.

Half dollars still circulated well until thirty years ago and then dropped out of sight in most places.  I rarely see them now, but the ones I do see generally show some wear, so they must kick around a bit.  Some places use them deliberately as attention getters; there might be someone doing the same with dollar coins, but I haven't heard of it.

 Before the Susan B's came Eisenhower Dollars (1971-1978)

Like every later attempt, this was a dismal failure other than with collectors and use in casinos.

You may hear the terms "blue Ike" or "brown Ike". These refer to the colors used by the mint when they sold these: proof versions came in a brown box, the regular uncirculated silver pieces were in a blue envelope.  Those silver issues were 40% silver overall.

Circulation issues were supposed to be only clad (no silver at all), but about 30 1974-D and 15 1977-D made from 40% silver planchets are known.  Your chances of finding another are of course as close to zero as you can imagine, but should you ever be handed one of those dates, why not look?

I'm not a big fan of Ike Dollars. The design is attractive enough, but clad is ugly and it gets uglier as the coin gets larger. The 40% versions aren't bad because they aren't 40% throughout; the outer part is 80% silver and does look much better.

This concludes Part 1.  I'll cover "real" silver dollars (coins that really circulated) next time.