Coin collecting, whether it would be enjoyment or profit, received a black eye this week as Iran executed Vhid Mazloumin, the man nicknamed the “Sultan of Coins.” Mazloumin and his accomplice, Mohammad Ismail Ghasemi, were hanged in Tehran on the charge of manipulating the coin and currency market in charges that included smuggling.
Vahid Mazloumin is seen appearing in court for the first time on charges of manipulating the currency market. He was later sentenced to death, in Tehran, Iran. September 8, 2018.Tasnim News Agency /Handout via REUTERS (via ChannelNews Asia)
The charges stem from a new round of sanction by the United States that has Iranians hoarding gold and looking for other safe investments. To serve that market, Mazloumin and his associates began to trade in gold coins and bullion.
Up until the sanctions, Iran did not have many restrictions on the trading of gold and other bullion but found itself in another financial crisis. The Iranian central bank is reporting a reduction of reserves and those with the means to purchase gold have been doing so at a rate higher than in the past.
According to many reports, Mazloumin was caught with non-Iranian coins and bullion including bars made by Swiss and German companies. Amongst the charges included trading in gold American Eagle coins and Krugerrands. As part of this defense, Mazloumin claimed that the coins were imported before the ban.
What is troublesome is that the collecting and investing communities have been silent on the execution of someone whose actions were made retroactively illegal by a panicking government. It is a more extreme version of blaming the collector for the financial crisis, such as the United States did in 1964 over silver coinage.
Although someone will inevitably ask if condemnation will do anything, just remember how an industry condemned the actions in Turkey and the United States over actions against journalists. Communities that do not stand up for itself run the risk of allowing governments to run roughshod over them at their convenience.
Therefore, I CONDEMN IN THE STRONGEST POSSIBLE TERMS THE STATE-SPONSORED MURDER OF A COIN DEALER IN IRAN!
I urge the rest of the numismatic and investment industries to join me before someone comes for you!
And now the news…
November 12, 2018
Coins from 1930s donated during "Fill the Boot" fundraiser. → Read more at spectrumlocalnews.com
November 12, 2018
DHAKA, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) — Shelves and cases in the money museum in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, are filled to the brim with coins and currencies from the barter era to modern times, with the displays attracting many visitors. → Read more at xinhuanet.com
November 12, 2018
A local fire department wants the public's help in making the Holidays special for members of The Armed Forces. → Read more at fourstateshomepage.com
November 14, 2018
These coins both endangered and saved Optatius Buyssens's life, as he fought as a soldier during World War One → Read more at bbc.com
November 14, 2018
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – BOCES Career & Technical Education culinary students hosted a recent Kiwanis Club luncheon where prominent numismatist Anthony Swiatek discussed old coins and currency, which might be worth a great deal more than their owners realize. → Read more at saratogian.com
November 14, 2018
Iran has executed two men convicted of manipulating coin and currency markets. Vahid Mazloumin and Mohammad Ismail Ghasemi were hanged on Wednesday after they were found guilty of manipulating coin and hard currency markets through illegal and unauthorized deals, Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) reported. → Read more at newsweek.com
November 14, 2018
On November 14 the national Bank put into circulation four commemorative coins of irregular shape. This reports the press service of the regulator on the official page in Facebook, writes the Chronicle.info with reference to epravda.com.ua. → Read more at bobrtimes.com
There are times when good people with good intentions do or say something that perpetuates narratives that are more harmful than they think.
On Friday, November 9, I received the regular mail from Numismatic News with the usual section for questions that editor Dave Harper uses for community input. This week’s question was “Is collecting Standing Liberty quarters mandatory for successful hobbyists?”
Does owning this short snorter autographed by John Glenn and his family make me a successful or unsuccessful collector?
The question appears to have been inspired by the article, “Dateless quarter inspired collector” by Ginger Raspus. The article was about how she was inspired to collect Standing Liberty Quarters after finding a dateless version pulled from change. The article then goes on about to describe the series. There was nothing in Ginger’s story that suggested anyone else collect these coins. She was reporting on her experience.
The problem with Dave’s question is a problem with the people who appear to have significant say in this industry. Their problem is that they say, suggest, or infer that if you don’t collect coins or their particular favorite, you are not a “real collector.”
Or in this case, a successful collector.
What defines a successful collector?
Is a successful collector one that fills up a particular folder or album of coins in a series designed by the publisher?
Is a successful collector one that creates a top-ranked registry set?
Is a successful collector defined by whether their collection meets artificial criteria set by an arcane definition of industry norms?
The problem is that these criteria that create these definitions of industry norms are those some consider the elders of the industry, many of who started collecting before most collectors were born. Other definitions of norms are created by the dealers whose input are more self-serving than encouraging.
There is nothing wrong with dealers earning a living. In recent years I have turned away from the convenience of online auctions except if the auction is sponsored by a dealer. I want the dealers to succeed, but not at the expense of chasing away potential collectors.
A successful collector is someone who creates a collecting goal based on a personal interest and works to achieve that goal. That goal does not have to include buying published folders or albums and filling holes—but if that gives you pleasure, by all means, go for it!
Although worn almost smooth, does owning this 1789 Draped Bust Large Cent count for anything?
Someone came into my shop to search the basket of foreign coins I keep on the counter. After a few moments I provided her with a box to place the coins she looked at while digging through the basket. I asked her why she was looking so carefully at the coins and she said that she was looking for coins from the countries her parents and grandparents were from and the years they were born.
After a while, she finshed looking and wanted to pay for the coins she picked. I looked at the coins and found a 1938 Spanish 25-centimos and 1961 Columbian 5-centavos coins. With a smile, she explained that her father was born in Columbia and his father, her grandfather, was from Spain.
When she said that she did not know what coins where minted and when I showed her en.mumista.com, my favorite website for looking up foreign coins. We searched for the countries and years of her family to show her what was available.
The next time she returned to my shop she carried a list of coins with check marks next to some of them. We then talked about how to store the coins and what to use as albums so that she can keep the coins nicely.
I do not know if she will be able to find all of the coins on her list but I know that she found examples of all the coins that she identified as being in circulation in 1961 Columbia because she brought in the album she created to show me.
I would call my new friend a successful collector.
2018 World War I Centennial Silver Dollar
To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.
—U.S. President Woodrow Wilson
proclaiming November 11, 1919 the national holiday Armistice Day
To all that have served…
To all that have given the ultimate sacrifice…
To the families of these honored service members…
And now the news…
November 5, 2018
On Thursday, 8 November, Latvijas Banka will be issuing a new gold collector coin named "Gold Brooches. The Bubble Fibula" with a face value of 75 euros but which will actually cost you 560 euros. The coin replicating a "bubble fibula" (of which more below) is the last one in the series of euro gold collector coins dedicated to Latvia's centenary. → Read more at eng.lsm.lv
November 6, 2018
A collection of three 50p coins were released by the Royal Mint on November 5, including a 22 carat Gold Proof coin, a Silver Proof coin and another Brilliant Uncirculated silver coin. → Read more at thisismoney.co.uk
November 6, 2018
OSAKA — A ceremony marking the first minting of special 10,000 yen gold and 500 yen bronze coins commemorating the 30th anniversary of Emperor Akihit → Read more at mainichi.jp
November 8, 2018
The White House clearly did not employ the services of a copy editor before releasing commemorative coins from Donald Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, which contain no less than three typos. → Read more at rt.com
November 8, 2018
THE Royal Mint has released a special Remembrance Day commemorative £5 coin featuring a colourful red poppy design. The mint releases a new coin every year to remember all those who have fought for this country at war and this year is no different. → Read more at thesun.co.uk
November 9, 2018
Israeli guards at the Erez Crossing on the Israel-Gaza border this week apparently foiled an attempt to smuggle out two ancient coins from the period of Alexander the Great out of the coastal enclave, Israeli officials said Friday. → Read more at timesofisrael.com
The monthly numismatic legislation review was purposely delayed to bring you this important message:
GO OUT AND VOTE!
Every two years, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate seats are open to election. These people are supposed to represent you in Congress. They are supposed to represent your interests. How do you want to be represented?
After the fall of Saddam Hussein, the people of Iraq had an election where multiple people were on the ballot. In the United States, we celebrated for them by showing pictures of people with purple ink-stained, fingers, the sign that they voted.
Voting is more important for your local elections. State, district, county, and municipal elections are the ones that have more impact on your lives. They impact the schools, your local roads, small businesses including your local coin dealer, trash pickup, maintenance of your local parks, and nearly everything surrounding your daily lives.
Don’t forget about the ballot initiatives. This is your chance to have a significant say in the policies that your government will have to abide by. Here in Maryland, there is a ballot initiative to create a “lock box” (where have we heard that one before?) for the state profits on gambling revenue so that it would go directly to fund education. This initiative was proposed based on lessons learned where a significant portion of the settlement from the tobacco companies that was supposed to go to healthcare initiatives was transferred to the general treasury to pay for everything else.
Does your state have ballot initiatives? Do you know what they say? How are you going to vote on them when you get to the polls?
Do you know who the candidates are? Do you agree with their position or will you be voting for them because they claim they party as you do? Do you know which incumbent actually did their job and thought about you or did they change because a deep pocket donor asked them to?
It is a cliche to claim that this is the most important election ever. It is always the most important election ever because it is the one happening right now. It is important because you must have your say in how you want your government to work for you. It is your government.
GO OUT AND VOTE!
Legislatively, Congress was in recess for October while members who are seeking re-election when home to campaign. The only changes to numismatic-related legislation were the number of co-sponsors on bills currently in committee.
If history is a lesson, we will see progress on some of these bills during the lame-duck session.
What happens when a policy that was supported by a popular vote becomes less popular? You get the situation that the British government faces as Brexit inches closer to its March 2019 execution.
On June 23, 2016, the people of the United Kingdom held a referendum as to whether the country should leave the European Union. The vote and process has been called “Brexit,” a portmanteau of the term “Britain Exit,” as in should Britain exit the E.U.?
Brexit won by a very slim margin.
As a result of the Brexit vote, the British Parliament voted to complete the Brexit process in March 2019 and the Prime Minister resigned. PM David Cameron was against Brexit and felt that someone else should lead the government who favored the process. Theresa May was selected to be Britain’s second female Prime Minister and will lead the country through Brexit.
However, polls in Britain show that Brexit is no longer as popular as it was in 2016. These polls were taken following the announcement that the Royal Mint mint will be producing a 50-pence coin commemorating Brexit next March.
Although the coin has yet to be designed, the British tabloids, especially those who have soured on Brexit, have been running editorials with anti-Brexit mockups. With these mock-ups frequently appearing in Britain’s newspapers, polls are showing that the pre-Brexit election support of nearly 49-percent has eroded to 37-percent.
Opinions on the concept of a Brexit coin are almost evenly split with 37-percent in favor of the coin, 34-percent against, and 29-percent with no comment or opinion.
In the United States, the only way to raise public passion about a coin is for it to have an error, such as the “Godless Dollars” for coins missing their edge lettering and the motto “In God We Trust.” Otherwise, only we numismatists care.
At least the Brits are paying attention!
And now the news…
October 30, 2018
View photosMore A special 50p is just one of the many changes Britain’s departure from the UK will bring. The commemorative coin, which is expected to carry the words “Friendship With All Nations” will be available from March 29 – the day the UK leaves the EU. → Read more at finance.yahoo.com
October 30, 2018
New collectors' coins commemorating statesman Ignacy Jan Paderewski are to be released on Tuesday, in a year in which Poland marks its independence centenary. Paderewski's is the fourth coin in a series issued by the National Bank of Poland. → Read more at thenews.pl
October 31, 2018
“II am visiting this gallery for the second time in a month,” says Ayushi, a New Delhi-based history honours student. “The glimpse into the past is so fascinating that I have brought along my friends to have a first-hand experience of the remarkable collection of Indian currency,” she adds. → Read more at gulfnews.com
November 1, 2018
The Royal Australian Mint wants you to be on the lookout for $1 coins specially marked with A, U or S. → Read more at abc.net.au
November 2, 2018
Increased gold buying by consumers and central banks pushed overall demand for the yellow metal up slightly in the third quarter, according to the World Gold Council's Gold Demand Trends 2018 Report. → Read more at seekingalpha.com
One of the articles found in this week’s search for numismatic-related news is both tragic and interesting. The tragedy is that the changing climate that has brought about worldwide weather swings has caused a drought so bad that the Danube River is at its lowest levels in recorded history.
An old bridge (left) and coins from the 18th century (right) were discovered in the low waters of the Danube River near Budapest (Image courtesy of euronews)
The Danube River is Europe’s second longest river. It runs from southern Donaueschingen, Germany, stretches across Europe to the Black Sea in Sulina, Romania. In ancient times, it was the border of the Roman Empire. Later, the border and the source of conflicts between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary and the Austrian Habsburgs.
Today, the Danube supplies water to millions of Europeans who work together on its preservation. It is also a source for ships commercial and passenger ships traveling through Europe. Levels are so low that shipping companies have cut back on their trips and travel advisories have been issued for tourists.
The Danube River Basin (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)
Outside of Budapest, over 2,000 silver and gold coins were found in 38 centimeters (almost 15-inches) of water. Archeologists who were called to recover the coins also found weapons, cannonballs, and other items that were said to be from a ship that sunk on the river in the 18th century.
During the 18th century, most of the area we know as Hungary today was occupied by the Ottoman Empire. Early in the 18th century, the empire instituted educational and technical reforms to strengthen their hold on their empire. In 1768, when Russian-back Ukrainian tribes entered Ottoman territory looking for confederates, the incursion provoked the Russo-Turkish War.
Over the last week, scientists have been working around the cycle of the tides to excavate the site to learn more about the ship that sank, including trying to determine why it sank. One working theory was that it was carrying supplies during the Russo-Turkish War.
Dating the wreckage using the coins may not be easy. At the time the Empire existed, coins were dated when the dies were made. Usually, dies were used until they wore out even if the coin represents the previous emperor. It could be several years before dies were made honoring the current ruler.
Beginning in the 16th century, the Ottoman mints were using screw-presses to create consistent-looking coinage. The empire of that period was always looking for the best technology to upgrade their lives and to set them apart from others. Screw presses were used for everything from minting coins to creating military medals. For the Ottoman’s, the mass production of military medals was important for the morale of the army that they put to ample use.
Although no timeline has been announced as to when scientists think they will complete their study of the artifacts, it will be an interesting view into a time at the height of the Ottoman Empire.
And now the news…
October 22, 2018
Kitco News talks with some of the most influential gold market analysts, economists, investors and mining CEOS to get their take on the industry and financial markets and the global economy → Read more at kitco.com
October 22, 2018
Roving exhibitions have been organized in a number of primary and intermediate boys’ and girls’ schools in various regions of the Kingdom to raise awareness among students about coins and urge them to use coins in their daily dealings. The caravan started its journey this month from Riyadh. → Read more at saudigazette.com.sa
October 24, 2018
Nevada Day revelers can own a piece of the state’s history — and also watch it be made — as part of a special run of the coin press at he Nevada State Museum in Carson City. → Read more at carsonnow.org
October 24, 2018
Two Swedish schoolchildren unearthed a 17th century coin while playing in a sandpit – and they have now been told they can keep the find. → Read more at thelocal.se
October 25, 2018
Aa Aa Record low water levels in the Danube have uncovered parts of an old Budapest bridge blown up by the Nazis in the final months of World War II. Pictures have emerged of the structure — which linked the districts of Buda and Pest in the Hungarian capital — just under the surface of the water. → Read more at euronews.com
October 26, 2018
Just in time for Halloween, the Central Bank has launched a commemorative €15 Bram Stoker Dracula collector coin. The silver proof coin commemorates the life of the Dublin-born author and his famous novel Dracula, which was published in 1897 and became world-renowned after an American film adaptation starring Bela Lugosi opened in 1931. → Read more at irishtimes.com
October 27, 2018
ART ON COINS — INDIA AND THE WORLD Mauryan axes, faces of Satavahana kings, a lion from Alexander’s army — at an exhibition of ancient coins found on the subcontinent , money talks. It tells stories of war, peace, power and disappointment. → Read more at hindustantimes.com
October 28, 2018
“On ANZAC Day this year I got to wear both of my medals in civilian dress and someone came up and said ”oh, you’ve got your medals on the wrong side love’, or ”whose medals are they’ — and you just have to say ”they’re mine — why wouldn’t they be? → Read more at news.com.au
Sometimes I wonder if the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and U.S. Commission of Fine Arts is actually paying attentiong to the designs they are selecting. While they have rejected some interesting designs, they seem to accept other designs without really thinking.
Reverse of the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin
It looks like these two groups that are supposed to be the gatekeepers of the design of U.S. coinage did not fully think through their design selection for the Apollo 11 Commemorative Coin program.
When the line art images were sent out, the design did not immediately remind me of a bootprint on the surface of the moon. Actually, it reminded me of something that many of us have placed our bootprint on a little closer to the ground.
Obverse design of the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin program
A Dubia Roach (Blaptica dubia)
I understand that with the resignation of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from the CCAC that this august body may be lacking the appropriate point of reference that Abdul-Jabbar and I have to make the tie between the bootprint and an insect that could probably survive on the moon (he was born Lew Alcindor in New York City). Then again, the CCAC is the same organization, albeit, with different members, that gave us some of the worst designs in modern coinage.
For the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century, all the CCAC could come up with is a bootprint?
For the last few weeks, a few have noticed that there has been a slowdown in my postings. Several have written during the last week-or-so asking if I was doing well and whether I have abandoned the blog.
To those who have written, thank you for your concern. Following a bought with a sinus infection, I am doing well. But that was not why posting has slowed.
I mentioned that I started a business working with collectibles and estates. From a 4,000 square foot warehouse with a 400 square foot showroom, my staff and I are working with a diverse crowd interested in all sorts of items from memories in vinyl records to vintage comic books. We are also working with estates and downsizers to help sell off assets via private branding online auctions.
When I started, I thought the business would be a good idea. It would fill a niche that does not exist in this area of Maryland. When I opened the doors at my 4,000 square foot space, I told my wife that the place is so big that it may take more than a year to fill the space.
I opened the doors at the end of June without advertising. I thought I would begin with organic growth while completing the setup. The advertising campaign began in August. By mid-September, I had a client list that created more demand for our services than I can serve from the 4,000 sq ft warehouse. In October, we are generating revenue that I originally projected would have occurred six months from now.
I knew I had a good idea but I did not know this business would take off as fast as it is!
For now, I am working seven days a week and late into the evening. Although I try to take Sunday off, I have to work today. But I do not mind. I am having fun.
I am meeting new people and allowing myself to enjoy this process. And it allows me to do practice what I preach… I may be the boss but my employees have a say in how things are done. They are encouraged to tell me when I do something wrong, offer suggestions, and make some decisions on their own. My assistant allowed some unusual consignments that later turned into quick and profitable resales. She’s good!
As for the Coin Collectors Blog, I am still posting stories to social media and collecting the best ones for this weekly post. I do have a number of posts I started but never finished that I will get to shortly—including my thoughts on the Apollo 11 Commemorative coin design. I just need to complete the priority tasks for the next few days then I will be back.
And now the news…
October 15, 2018
A commemorative series of £5 coins has been released to mark the Prince of Wales' birthday. It features an engraved portrait of Prince Charles, who turns 70 on 14 November. The Royal Mint, based in Llantrisant, Rhondda Cynon Taff, also struck coins for his 50th and 60th birthdays. → Read more at bbc.com
October 15, 2018
A $1 coin has caused a storm on social media after its owner spotted an odd feature, but there is a simple explanation to this ”˜time-travelling’ coin. The heads side of the coin is marked with the year 2019. → Read more at finance.nine.com.au
October 16, 2018
In less than a month, many nations around the world will mark a momentous date. This year, November 11th will be the 100th anniversary of the Armistice to end the horrific tragedy of the First World War. → Read more at rcinet.ca
October 16, 2018
One of the very first pennies produced in the U.S., estimated to be worth $1 million, will be auctioned in Baltimore next week. The 1792 Birch Cent will be auctioned by Stack’s Bowers Galleries at the Whitman Expo in Baltimore on Oct. → Read more at foxnews.com
October 17, 2018
A mind-blowing coin with a nifty hidden mechanic is wowing the internet. The object in question was made by Roman Booteen, an Instagram artist who creates intricate carvings on Zippo lighters and coins. → Read more at mashable.com
October 17, 2018
German prosecutors have indicted four young men over the brazen theft of a 100-kilogram (221-pound) Canadian gold coin from a Berlin museum. The "Big Maple Leaf" coin, worth several million dollars, was stolen from the Bode Museum in March 2017. → Read more at miamiherald.com
October 18, 2018
“The most wonderful time of the year” is quickly approaching, and you know what that means. Parties, potlucks and…plenty of time to show off your beloved bullion coins, collectors coins… → Read more at invest.usgoldbureau.com
There are people with more time an patience who are able to go into the fields and forests with a metal detector to find relics of the past. Here, in the original 13 colonies, it is common for detectorists ton find Civil War-era bullets or Revolutionary-era uniform buttons. Some find coins. Usually, it is easier to find copper coins, especially the U.S. large cents that were heavily used on the east coast.
Craig Cline of Fargo speaks with WDAY (screen grab from WDAY)
This week’s story takes us to the Red River Valley outside of Fargo, North Dakota where a hobbyist finds an 18th century silver Spanish Real under a tree.
The Red River is a north-flowing river that begins at the confluence of the Bois de Sioux and Otter Tail rivers, on the border of Wahpeton, North Dakota and Breckenridge, Minnesota. At its northernmost point, it empties into the Lake Winnipeg in Canada.
Finding anything buried in the ground that is pre-Revolutionary War period would be a fantastic fine. But the finder of this Spanish Real coin believes it was either pocket change or money used to bargain with the Native Americans.
The land where my house stands was once farmland prior to homes being built. There are records of soldiers being quartered in this area. I wonder if there are relics waiting for be found.
And now the news…
October 11, 2018
The US Mint unveils a coin designed to mark the 50th anniversary of NASA's Apollo 11 mission in 2019. → Read more at cnet.com
October 12, 2018
FARGO—Craig Cline of Fargo has done his share of treasure hunting. The carpenter-handyman and his metal detector have searched Fargo-Moorhead parks and fields looking for that one rare part of our past. Well, he found it. → Read more at inforum.com
October 14, 2018
Farmers in northwest Poland have unearthed silver coins, including rare Arabic dirhams, along with a slew of other artifacts, Britain’s The Daily Mail reported. Farmers in the region have been ploughing along a sloped field for decades. More than 300 → Read more at aawsat.com
October 14, 2018
The U.S. Mint has taken "one small step" towards the striking of new coins to mark the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing with the reveal of the design for its 2019 commemoratives. The gold, silver and clad coins will feature an astronaut’s boot p → Read more at space.com
I was going to stop doing the LOOK BACK series after the summer, thinking I would have time to create new content. But we all know that real life has a way of changing even the best-laid plans. While fighting off a severe sinus infection thanks to the mold spores that thrive in this damp weather, business picked up. I am ecstatic that my new business is catching on but the infection put a damper on things.
I need a week to catch up. While doing so, I will publish two more LOOK BACK articles and try to finish a few of the new posts I started. For today’s LOOK BACK, I want to remind everyone that numismatics is more than coins. You can satisfy your collecting urges with exonumia as well as with coins.
Although the dominant area of numismatics is the collection and study of legal tender coins, numismatics is more than just coins. Numismatic is the collecting and study of items used in the exchange for goods, resolve debts, and objects used to represent something of monetary value. This opens up numismatic collecting to a wide range of items and topics that could make “the hunt” to put together the collection as much fun as having the collection.
Exonumia is the study and collection of tokens, medals, or other coin-like objects that are not considered legal tender. Exonumia opens numismatics to a wide variety of topics that could not be satisfied by collecting coins alone. An example of exonumia is the collection of transportation tokens. You may be familiar with transportation tokens from your local bus or subway company who used to sell tokens to place into fare boxes. Others may have used tokens to more easily pay in the express lanes at bridges and tunnels. A person who collects transportation tokens is called a Vecturist. For more information on being a Vecturist, visit the website for the American Vecturist Association.
Token collecting can be the ultimate local numismatic collection. Aside from transportation tokens, some states and localities issued tax tokens in order to collect fractions of a cent in sales taxes to allow those trying to get by in during down economic times to stretch their money further. Some communities issued trade tokens that allowed those who used them to use them like cash at selected merchants. Some merchants issued trade tokens that were an early form of coupons that were traded as coupons are traded today.
While tokens are items used to represent monetary value, medals are used to honor, commemorate, or advertizing. The U.S. Mint produces medals that honor people, presidents, and events. Medals produced by the U.S. Mint are those authorized by law as a national commemoration including the medal remembering the attacks of 9/11.
Commemorative medals are not limited to those produced by the U.S. Mint. State and local governments have also authorized the producing medals on their behalf that were produced by private mints. Many organizations also have created medals honoring members or people that have influenced the organization. Companies have produced medals to honor their place in the community or something about the company and their community.
Many medals have designs that can be more beautiful than on coins since they are not limited to governmental mandated details and their smaller production runs allows for more details to be added. Medals can be larger and thicker than coins and made in a higher relief than something that could be manufactured by a government mint.
Exonumia collecting also involves elongated and encased coins. You may have seen the machines in many areas where you pay 50-cents, give it one of your cents, turn the wheel and the cent comes out elongated with a pattern pressed into the coin. Elongated coins have been used as advertisements, calling cards, and as a souvenir.
Encased coins are coin encircled with a ring that has mostly been used as an advertisement. One side will call the coin a lucky coin or provide sage advice with the other side advertising a business. Another form of encased coins are encased stamps. Encased stamps were popular in the second half of the 19th century and used for trade during times when there were coin shortages.
Other exonumia includes badges, counter stamped coins, wooden money, credit cards, and casino tokens. Counter stamped coins are coins that have been circulated in foreign markets that were used in payment for goods. When the coin was accepted in the foreign market, the merchant would examine the coin and impress a counter stamp on the coin proclaiming the coin to be genuine based on their examination. Although coins were counter stamped in many areas of the world, it was prevalent in China where the coins were stamped with the Chinese characters representing the person who examined the coin. These Chinese symbols are commonly referred to as “chop marks.”
One type of counter stamped coins are stickered coins. Stickered coins were popular in the first half of the 20th century; they were used as an advertisement. Merchants would purchase stickers and apply them to their change so that as the coins circulated, the advertising would reach more people. Some stickered coins acted as a coupon to entice the holder to bring the coin into the shop and buy the merchandise.
Remember the saying, “Don’t take any wooden nickels?” If you are a wooden money collector, you want to find the wooden nickels and other wooden denominations. Wooden nickels found popularity in the 1930s as a currency replacement to offer money off for purchases or as an advertisement. Wooden nickels are still being produced today mostly as an advertising mechanism.
We cannot end the discussion of exonumia without mentioning Love Tokens and Hobo Nickels. Love Tokens became popular in the late 19th century when someone, usually a man, would carve one side of a coin, turn it into a charm for a bracelet or necklace, and give it to his loved one. The designed are as varied as the artists who created them. Hobo Nickels are similar in that hobo artists would carve a design into a Buffalo Nickel to sell them as souvenirs. While there are contemporary Love Tokens and Hobo Nickels, collectors have an affection for the classic design that shows the emotion of the period.
Currency collecting, formally called notaphily, is the study and collection of banknotes or legally authorized paper money. Notes can be collected by topic, date or time period, country, paper type, serial number, and even replacement or Star Notes (specific to the United States). Some consider collecting checks part of notaphily. Collectors of older canceled checks are usually interested in collecting them based on the issuing bank, time period, and the signature. For the history of currency and their collecting possibilities, see my previous article, “History of Currency and Collecting”.
Scripophily is the study and collection of stock and bond certificates. This is an interesting subset of numismatics because of the wide variety of items to collect. You can collect in the category of common stock, preferred stock, warrants, cumulative preferred stocks, bonds, zero-coupon bonds, and long-term bonds. Scripophily can be collected by industry (telecom, automobile, aviation, etc.); autographs of the officers; or the type of vignettes that appear on the bonds.
Militaria: Honorable Collectibles
Collecting of military-related items may be considered part of exonumia but deserves its own mention. It is popular to collect military medals and awards given to members since the medals themselves are works of art. Families will save medals awarded to relatives and even create museum-like displays to honor or memorialize the loved one.
Militaria includes numismatic-related items that represent the various services. One of the growing areas of collectibles is Challenge Coins. A challenge coin is a small medal, usually no larger than 2-inches in diameter, with the insignia or emblem of the organization. Two-sided challenge coins may have the emblem of the service on the front and the back has the emblem of the division or another representative service. Challenge coins are traditionally given by a commander in recognition of special achievement or can be exchanged as recognition for visiting an organization.
Over the last few years, civilian government agencies and non-government organizations (NGO) have started to create and issue challenge coins. Most of those agencies have ties to the military, but not all. Like their military counterparts, a manager or director can give challenge coins in recognition of special achievement or for visiting an organization.
Another area of military collectibles is Military Payment Certificates (MPC). MPC was a form of currency that was used to pay military personnel in foreign countries. MPC was first issued to troops in Europe after World War II in 1946 to provide a stable currency to help with commerce. MPC evolve from Allied Military Currency (AMC) to control the amounts of U.S. dollars circulating in the war zone and to prevent enemy forces from capturing dollars for their own gain. Prior to World War II, troops were paid in the currency of the country where they were based. With the ever moving fronts and the allies need to control the economies to defeat the Axis powers, AMC was issued to allow the military to control their value.
After the war, MPC replaced APC in order to control the currency and prevent the locals from hoarding U.S. dollars preventing the building of their own economies. When military officials discovered that too many notes were in the circulation, being hoarded, and thriving on the black market, series were demonetized and reissued to military personnel. Those holding MPC notes, not in the military received nothing and were encouraged to circulate their own currency.
MPC were printed using lithography in various colors that changed for each series. From the end of World War II to the end of the Vietnam War there were 15 series printed with only 13 issued. Although the two unissued series were destroyed, some examples have been found in the collections of those involved with the MPC system. Amongst the 13 series that were issued, there are 94 recognized notes available for collectors. Most notes are very affordable and accessible to the interested collector.
The original article can be read here.