RED BOOK SALE!

A $2 Love Story

Did you know that someone made a movie about the $2 bill?

I was looking for information about early $2 notes and an Internet search discovered the page for The Two Dollar Bill Documentary.

Basically, it is a 1 hour 43 minute documentary about the $2 bill. Written and directed by John Bennardo, who has one other film to his credits, writes on the website that he wanted to learn more about the stack of $2 bills he kept in his desk draw. A year and several interviews later, Bennardo had a documentary.

Amongst the people who appear in the documentary is Charlene Williams, Director of Manufacturing at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing facility in Fort Worth, Fred Bart, owner of Executive Currency, and Ben Cohen who is the “Ben” in Ben & Jerry’s.

I do not know how I missed this because it was the Kickstarter campaign written about in CoinWeek, and I am a regular reader. Also, filming began at the 2013 FUN Convention, a show I attended.

It does not appear that the documentary had a wide distribution since I did not find anything about its showing. But for the low sales price of $9.99 you can by a DVD through their online store. It might be worth spending the $10 just to check out the documentary.

The Two Dollar Bill Documentary teaser trailer

All images courtesy of “The Two Dollar Bill Documentary.”

Discovering Seated Liberty Dime Varieties

1838-O Seated Liberty Dime

I recently took on a private contract to write short guides to certain coins. I thought that I could tackle anything they could think of until I was told I had to write between 500-2000 words (four pages) about Seated Liberty Dime Varieties.

Most of what I know about Seated Liberty Dimes are from references like the Red Book. Of course, that is not enough information to write for an entire article, so I went searching for a better reference when I came upon the work by Gerry Fortin. Fortin’s site, seateddimevarieties.com, is the result of his work in understanding all of the varieties of Seated Liberty Dime since he began researching these varieties in 1988.

Fortin’s research documents over 100 different die varieties which he cataloged on his website. He reports that there are 200 date and mintmark varieties when including errors, re-punched dates, or other anomalies. Fortin’s catalog numbers are used by the third-party grading services to identify varieties on their holders. This is the definitive reference for Seated Liberty Dime varieties! If you are interested in the detail of Seated Liberty Dime varieties, you should bookmark seateddimevarieties.com. But for the general numismatist, aspects of his work should be merged with the mainstream.

In most of the numismatic references, including what I had included on the U.S. Coins by Type page, there are five major varieties of Seated Liberty Dimes:

  • Type 1: No Stars on Obverse (1837-1838)
  • Type 2: Stars on Obverse (1838-1853, 1856-1860)
  • Type 3: Arrows at Date (1853-1855)
  • Type 4: Legend on Obverse (1860-1873, 1875-1891)
  • Type 5: Arrows at Date (1873-1874)

Using Fortin’s research, if you consider changes in the design a new major type, there should be three additional varieties. Fortin documents these as one of the major design groups. One variety not included in the mainstream publications is the addition of drapery by Liberty’s left hand. This would split the old Type 2 varieties into two.

The change in 1860 that moves the legend “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” to the obverse of the coin. On the reverse, the laurel wreath was changed to a wreath composed of cotton, tobacco, sugar cane, corn, wheat and oak leaves enclosing the denomination of “ONE DIME” that was created in a larger font. The wreath is sometimes called “Newlin’s Wreath of Cereal” after Harold P. Newlin, a prominent numismatist of his day, who was said to have suggested the idea of the wreath to then U.S Mint Director James Ross Snowden. The updated design was created by James B. Longacre.

Further splitting the old Type 4 began in 1861 when the hubs were fixed to improve the striking quality of the coin. Liberty was given a thinner appearance and the number of lines on the shield above “LIBERTY” was increased to six lines. This is known as a Type II Obverse with a Type I reverse.

When the weight of the coin was changed as part of the Crime of ’73, arrowheads were added to either side of the date of the Type 4 design for a two-year period. Since the arrows were punched directly into the dies, their exact position can vary. Once the new design was released, the U.S. Mint began melting down coins dated 1873 that did not have arrows.

There were some dimes that slipped through the melting process. Dimes from the Carson City Mint were missed which today is considered of the most famous of all 19th-century rarities, the 1873-CC No Arrows Seated Liberty Dime.

Chief Engraver William Barber redesigned the reverse dies in 1876 to improve striking. Although similar to the “Newlin’s Wreath of Cereal” design, there are enough subtle differenced for Fortin to call this a Type II Reverse. Fortin notes that Type I and Type II reverses were used for striking coins from 1876 to 1878 except for 1877 in San Francisco. There have been no reported examples of Type I reverse coins struck in San Francisco during 1877.

After reading Fortin’s reference I decided that Seated Liberty Dimes should note that there are eight varieties instead of the five noted in other publications. This would be for collectors looking to build an interesting typeset of Seated Liberty Dimes. This is why I updated the Seated Liberty Dime entry on my U.S. Coins by Type page as follows:

  • Type 1: No Stars on Obverse (1837-1838)
  • Type 2: Stars on Obverse, No Drapery Under Right Elbow (1838-1840)
  • Type 3: Stars on Obverse, With Drapery Under Right Elbow (1840-1860)
  • Type 4: Type 3 design with Arrows around Date (1853-1855)
  • Type 5: Legend on Obverse [Type I], Longacre “Wreath of Cereal” Reverse [Type I] (1860-1861)
  • Type 6: Legend on Obverse [Type II], “Wreath of Cereal” Reverse [Type I] (1861-1873, 1875-1878)
  • Type 7: Type 6 design with Arrows around the Date (1873-1874)
  • Type 8: Legend on Obverse [Type II], W. Barber “Wreath of Cereal” Reverse [Type II] (1876-1891)

This has now inspired me to look into other early varieties and update my online reference accordingly. Although it will not go into the detail of the research, giving the collector more information is better than just glossing over a topic.

All Seated Liberty Dime images courtesy and copyright by Gerry Fortin.

Quick update

Although I have a few posts in draft form, I had to take some time out for some administrative-type work.

Since I published the Numismatic Dictionary I have received many corrections and requests for additions from readers. Thank you to everyone who send their input. The dictionary now has 678 entries that appear to have been copy edited by a few persistent readers. If anyone finds something that was missed, please feel free to contact me. I have plans that involve publishing the dictionary. Stay tuned for that announcement.

In the last month, I had the requirement to print blog entries. When I tried to print the blog entries, the output was ugly because it included a lot of the extra items on the page. Elements like the sidebar and sharing buttons are useless on a printed page. It has taken a bit of work, but now if you print the page using your browser’s print button, the article will print without the extras. You do not need any extra software or to go through an extra step to print a page. For those who are not programmers, we go through a lot to make life easy for ourselves until we find another problem and work hard to make the next one easy.

Behind the scenes I am trying to convert the blog from using HTTP, to HTTPS (secure). The reason behind this is to promote privacy, such as when you read the blog on a public Wi-Fi network nobody needs to know your interests, and because search engines are lowering the search rank of those sites that do not support HTTPS. Obviously, Google, the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in the search space, is the first search engine to lower the rank of sites not supporting HTTPS.

Unfortunately, it is not as easy as one would think—or at least I thought. A test I conducted this past week proved I have a bit more to do. When the site is converted, the only difference you will notice is the lock icon on your browser will appear. Until then, if you try to go to https://coinsblog.ws it will redirect you to the non-encrypted version.

After I finish converting the blog, I will then convert the news micro-site (news.coinsblog.ws).

Finally, I will be spending a few hours at the Whitman Baltimore Expo tomorrow (Sunday, June 18). I do not expect anything to happen but you may want to watch @coinsblog on Twitter for updates. I am so embarrassed… Whitman Expo is NEXT weekend!

Counterfeiting Around the World

As I continue my research into history and technology of counterfeiting, I have been collecting historical statistics as to the problem of counterfeiting. I thought I would share the current statistics I found.

The most common counterfeited denomination is the 20s, be they dollars, pounds, euros, or pesos. For currencies whose values are significantly lower than the dollar, such as the yuan, or whose currencies have no real fractions, like the yen, the most common counterfeited denomination is the 100 unit.

Canada

The top note is a counterfeit $100 note, the bottom is a legitimate note

In the past few years, many countries and central banks have released new currency with additional anti-counterfeiting technologies. Canada is currently in the process to transition to the cotton bond currency to a polymer substrate. Since starting the transition, the Bank of Canada is reporting a decrease of 141,502 notes in 2007 ($3.3 million in value) to 17,492 in 2016 ($900,000 in value). For Canada, this is a decrease in 88-percent of the number of notes passed and a decrease of 73-percent in value.

United Kingdom

Detecting counterfeit £1 coins, the genuine coin has edge lettering (left), the counterfeit does not.

A few months ago, the Royal Mint began the process of issuing a 12-sided pound coin to replace the round-pound because about 2.5 percent of 1.6 billion of 1 pound coins are counterfeit. Although this has been a painful process, the Brits will continue the transition which calls for demonetizing the round-pound by October 15, 2017.

The Bank of England began issuing currency using the polymer substrate starting with the £5 notes. The paper fiver was withdrawn on May 5, 2017 (withdraw the £5 on 5/5… get it?!). Plans continue to issue the £10 note in September.

The move to polymer notes was prompted because of a spike in counterfeiting in 2012. Spiking at more than 746,000 counterfeiting notes with a value of £13.71 million, the Bank of England reports that 347,000 counterfeit notes valued at £7.47 million were confiscated in 2016.

Euro

Eurozone has had more problems with counterfeit €2 coins than currency.

The European Central Bank reports that counterfeiting remains low in the Eurozone and even reduced by 20.7-percent from 2015 to 2016. Of the notes counterfeited, the €20 and €50 notes make up 80.3-percent of the most counterfeited currency. Surprisingly, the €100 (at 9.7-percent) and €500 notes (4.9-percent) are not as widely counterfeited. However, the ECB has other concerns with these high denomination notes since the €500 notes are a favorite amongst the cash-based illegal trade because it takes fewer notes to carry a high-volume of currency. One study noted that the €500 note was referred to as the “Bin-Laden” for its added convenience.

The ECB is in the process of transitioning their currency to the new Europa Series. A new €50 note was issued this past April. Aside from new designs, the Europa series uses some of the advanced technologies to prevent counterfeiting but does so on cotton bond. Currently, there is no plan to use the polymer substrate for the Euro notes.

China

As opposed to other central banks, the People’s Bank of China (PBC) is not as forthcoming with information. But when they do something, news reporters can obtain some nuggets of information from Chinese officials. When the PBC unveiled new 100 yuan notes with additional counterfeiting features, they reported to the Wall Street Journal that police confiscated 532 million yuan ($85.6 million) in counterfeit bills in 2014. The most commonly counterfeited notes were 50 yuan and 100 yuan bills but there have been increases in lower denominations.

Mexico

Click on the image to read a nice description (in English) on identifying genuine Mexican currency

Mexico has been undergoing a slow conversion to polymer notes. Currently, the 20- and 50-peso notes are made using polymer and the new generation of 100-peso notes are made of polymer. Higher denominations continue to be printed on cotton bond but incorporate a number of advanced anti-counterfeiting features other countries are using. The Bank of Mexico has not announced plans to convert higher denominations but a representative reported that the plan is to print future special issues on cotton bond, such as the 100-peso banknote commemorating The 100th Anniversary of The Enactment of the Constitution issued last February.

Statistics published by the Bank of Mexico reports a decrease in the number of counterfeit currency from 70.7 per million issued to 61.8 per million notes issued. This represents a decrease of 12.6-percent. When the Bank of Mexico issued the new polymer 20- and 50-peso notes in 2014, they experienced a drop in 36.9-percent in counterfeiting.

United States

It is not a surprise that the world’s most use currency and the currency that most world trade is based is the most counterfeited currency in the world. There is also more United States currency in circulation that any other, including the Euro. According to ​the Federal Reserve, there is approximately $1.49 trillion in Federal Reserve notes circulation. The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco says that 31.1-percent of those notes is the ubiquitous dollar and 26-percent are $100 Federal Reserve Notes mostly held overseas.

Prop Movie Money continues to be a problem because people just do not look!

According to the United States Secret Service in their 2015 Annual Report, the latest available, they prevented the circulation of over $58 million in counterfeit U.S. currency resulting in the arrest of 796 criminals and closing 145 manufacturing operations. Of the $58 million counterfeited, $28 million, about half, of the bogus U.S. currency was seized prior to it being circulated.

The $20 bill is the most commonly counterfeited banknote in the U.S., while overseas counterfeiters are more likely to make fake $100 bills.

In every report downloaded from the various governments and central banks regarding the security of their currency, it is a common theme that the vast majority of counterfeiting would have a minimal impact if people would just look for the anti-counterfeiting measures these entities go through great lengths to add to the currency. Whether it is not looking for the edge lettering on the old round-pound or the recent cut-and-paste of the security features of Canadian currency, there would be few problems if people would just look.

Credits

  • Canada counterfiet currnecy image courtesy of CTV News.
  • Counterfeit round-pound image courtesy of BBC News
  • Counterfeit €2 coins courtesy of The Daily Mail
  • Mexican currency image courtesy of Bajainsider.com.

Stolen Ancient Coins and Art helps fund ISIS

Amateur photos of stolen coins — like this, taken from a cache of images held by a middleman — are sent from phone to phone in the underground trade.

If counterfeit Canadian currency or badly made British pound errors were not enough, the focus is now being placed on antiquities stolen by ISIS from captured areas in Syria and Iraq. The proceeds have been used to fund their activities.

A Wall Street Journal report said that Swiss authorities have been investigating Ali and Hicham Aboutaam, owners of the Phoenix Ancient Art Company with offices in New York and Geneva. It is alleged that items that they have been trading in artifacts looted by ISIS.

In one famous video, ISIS militants were shown destroying artifacts with the voice-over declaring, “These idols and pagans for people in the past centuries were worshiped instead of Allah. When Allah ordered to destroy and remove them, it was an easy matter. We don’t care, even if it costs billions of dollars.”

That may have been a ruse by only showing a few items destroyed since it is estimated that ISIS generates $100-250 million per year selling looted antiquities on the black market.

While art and statues are easy to trace, coins are a different story. Coins can be carried easily in pockets, wrapped in clothes, or just “innocently” thrown into luggage and smuggled anywhere in the world. Detection is difficult and without documentation, they may be difficult to trace.

Reports in the international media note that weak laws and the lure of significant profits have kept the sales of artifacts and looted coins moving through the system. Looted coins have been sold on sites like eBay and Etsy without fear of reprisals because their provenance cannot be proven.

Even though the 1970 UNESCO Convention was agreed upon to stop archaeological pillaging and trafficking of cultural property, the way it is implemented in most countries is to recover the item at its final destination and not in transit. An unsuspecting collector or dealer could be in the position of one of these looted coins but have to face the consequences if they are caught.

The sale of these coins supports ISIS and their terrorist activities. Even after the coins have changed hands several times, they could circulate through the industry and be used by dealers down the like who will continue to trade the coins and using the profits to help fund ISIS.

It would be easy to say to resist buying ancient Syrian or Persian coins, but there are coins that were not stolen and can be legitimately owned. This might be an area that the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild should weigh in on behalf their community.

Until then, try to limit your purchases to reputable dealers and dealers you know.

Wall Street Journal Video

Image courtesy of BuzzFeed News.
Get BLOG updates via email:
Delivered by FeedBurner
Get NEWS updates via email:
Delivered by FeedBurner

Current Poll

Would you participate in a crowdfunded numismatic book project?







View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Coinsblog Archives

Pin It on Pinterest

%d bloggers like this: