Celebrating 100 Years of Fixing a Mistake

On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. After a battle in the Tennessee House, which was lead by an anti-suffragist leader, two members changed their votes at the last minute.

Although people in the United States tout the “right to vote,” suffrage has been a long and difficult fight since before the signing of the Constitution. It did not end with the 19th Amendment as its text did not eliminate the discrimination based on race.

The fight for the “right” continues today. Reduced access to polls, including the closing of precincts in minority districts and hindering the Postal Service’s ability to handle ballots, infringe on everyone’s suffrage rights.

The commemorative coin reflects the history of the movement by depicting women wearing different hat styles during the thick of the fight. The movement started to gain momentum in the 1870s when states and territories in the West allowed women to vote. The first attempt to pass an amendment for suffrage began in 1878, where the depiction of the commemorative coin begins.

On the reverse is a depiction of a ballot box. The box has an art deco design with the centennial anniversary year looming large as it is descending into the ballot box.

The coin was designed by Christina Hess, a member of the Artistic Infusion Program and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill. The dollar coin is .999 silver with a mintage limit of 400,000. The sale of each coin includes a $10 surcharge paid to the Smithsonian Institution’s American Women’s History Initiative.

It is an excellent design to depict the 100th Anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Although I am not a collector of commemorative coins, this may be one that I will add to the coins I collect because the design is worthy of collecting.

April 2020 Numismatic Legislation Review

Seal of the United States CongressAlthough the calendar passed May the Fourth (be with you) and Cinco de Mayo, the days are running together that the one thing I forgot was the end of April. Days are blurring together to the point that I forgot that Thursday was senior day at some local stores. I do not mind the label of a senior citizen. It means that I survived to wear that moniker.

So that I can correct this senior moment, it is time to talk about the one numismatic-related bill introduced in the House of Representatives in April.

H.R. 6555: United States Semiquincentennial Quarter Series Act
Sponsor: Rep. Bonnie Watson coleman (D-NJ)
Introduced: April 17, 2020
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Apr 17, 2020
Introduced in House — Apr 17, 2020
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR6555.

The United States Semiquincentennial Quarter Series Act (H.R. 6555) would create a five quarters program to celebrate the U.S. Semiquincentennial (250 years) in 2026. If the bill passes, the U.S. Mint will “issue quarter dollars in 2026 with up to five different designs emblematic of the United States semiquincentennial. One of the quarter dollar designs must be emblematic of a woman’s or women’s contribution to the birth of the Nation or the Declaration of Independence or any other monumental moments in American History.”

According to the bill, the Secretary “may” mint “$1 coins with designs emblematic of the United States semiquincentennial.”

H.R. 6555 takes a different approach than the Bicentennial coinage. For the Bicentennial, the program lasted two years, 1975-1976. The coins were dated 1776-1976, and the reverse of the quarter, half-dollar, and dollar coins were redesigned. The previous designs returned in 1977.

The country is busy with other issues rather than being concerned with the nation’s semiquincentennial. But it is nice to think about a celebration than the worries we are going through today.
 

1976-S Silver Proof Bicentennial Autograph Set

Weekly World Numismatic News for February 9, 2020

Carson City Mint Sesquicentennial Mold

Mold used to make the dies for the Carson City Mint Sesquicentennial medal. Image courtesy of the Nevada State Museum.

This past week, the Nevada State Museum celebrated the 150th anniversary of the United States Mint in Carson City. The Carson City Mint opened in 1870 to strike silver coins using silver from the Comstock Lode.

Although named for Henry Comstock, he did no discover the silver mines in the area. Comstock has the distinction of claiming a stake in the lode before selling his stake for thousands of dollars, an unreasonable sum at the time, and settling in Carson City. Comstock started a few businesses. His brashness and presence lent his name to the discovery.

Comstock is not a hero. He was known for being impatient, careless, lazy, and some accused him of being insane. Comstock committed suicide in 1870, leaving several failed businesses, a failed marriage, and sever debt in his wake.

After the discovery, it was expensive to transport the silver to San Francisco for processing. Nevada politicians lobbied congress for the formation of a branch mint to assay and strike coins. Congress authorized a mint in 1868 for nearby Carson City. The building opened for production in 1870. The Carson City branch mint struck silver and gold coins but in lesser amounts than the other mints making their coins highly collectible and more expensive because of their rarity.

Many consider the coins struck at Carson City to be amongst the most beautiful of all the coins. With the lower production totals, mint employees did not have to rush production, allowing them to create proper strikes. Of course, mistakes happen, and varieties of coins struck at the Carson City Mint are some of the most desirable.

A significant distinction of the coins struck in Carson City is that they bear the “CC” mintmark. It is the only two-character mintmark used on U.S. coins.

Production ended in 1893 with the reduced output from nearby silver mines. The building served as an Assay Office beginning in 1895. It closed following the gold recall of 1933. The State of Nevada purchased the building in 1939.

Today, the building houses the Nevada State Museum, where Coin Press No. 1 continues to strike commemorative half-ounce silver medals every month. There are only four known versions of this coin press in existence and the museum has the only working model.

For the sesquicentennial celebration, the museum struck a commemorative medal for the visitors. Visitors were able to purchase half-ounce silver planchets from the museum’s gift shop and bring them to the Coin Press No. 1 for striking. Because this was an on-demand process, you had to be at the museum to purchase one.

The Mint at Carson City is a symbol of U.S. history. It is where the old west meets modern commerce. From the reports, it sounds like the celebration went well. I hope to be able to visit the museum at some point in time.

And now the news…

 February 3, 2020
The huge coin weighs five kilograms (Picture: The Goldsmiths’ Company/SWNS) A £5,000 coin that weighs five kilos and is big enough to eat your dinner off has been produced by the Royal Mint as part of a tradition going back more than 700 years.  → Read more at metro.co.uk

 February 4, 2020
A giant discovery of nearly 70,000 coins from the Iron Age has set a Guinness World Record for being the largest of its kind discovered in the British Isles. Discovered in January 2012, the collection of 69,347 coins was found in Jersey by metal detector enthusiasts Reg Mead and Richard Miles, British news agency SWNS reports.  → Read more at foxnews.com

 February 6, 2020
It was born out of Nevada's silver boom. The Carson City Mint coined our money for decades, until 1893 when it closed…later becoming the Nevada State Museum. But museum curator Robert Nylen told me it’s still famous for the coins: "The coins that came out of Carson City.  → Read more at ktvn.com

 February 6, 2020
(via Kamloops RCMP) Kamloops RCMP has a bit of spare change these days.  → Read more at kamloopsmatters.com

 February 8, 2020
(Kitco News) U.S. Mint gold coin sales saw a strong recovery in January after the weakest year on record in 2019.  → Read more at kitco.com

 February 8, 2020
Persistent archaeological treasure hunters have set a new Guinness World Record for the largest coin hoard ever discovered in the British Isles. This treasure story begun in the early 1980s after Reg Mead and Richard Miles read a report about a farmer on Jersey who many years earlier had discovered silver coins in an earthenware pot while pulling out a tree from a hedgerow.  → Read more at ancient-origins.net

 February 8, 2020
A PORTLAND resident has discovered another 'love token' at Church Ope Cove, prompting theories about what once took place on the sandy shores. Edward Dahl first found a silver sixpence, dating from 1696 during the reign of William III, back in 2018.  → Read more at dorsetecho.co.uk

 February 9, 2020
It is the second time in history when a coin issued by Latvijas Banka has been recognised the Coin of the Year. The innovative Honey Coin, created by the designer Artūrs Analts, won by a very wide margin, and, quoting the 1 February 2020 press release of the Numismatic News, "the day was sweet as honey" for Latvijas Banka.  → Read more at baltictimes.com
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Fight Finished!

The talk around the Washington, DC metropolitan area is not what is happening on Pennsylvania Avenue. It is what will be happening on Constitution Avenue starting at 2:00 PM on November 2. According to the Mayor’s office, the parade for the World Champion Washington Nationals will begin on Constitution Avenue NW at 15th Street NW and end on Pennsylvania Avenue NW at 3rd Street.

A rally will be held at the end of the parade route.

If you are a baseball fan, you hope that every World Series goes six or seven games. Most of the drama comes in those last two games. This series was no different.

Obligatory numismatic content:

Fans of the Nationals can purchase a commemorative plaque from the Danbury Mint that includes a bronze medal. This is an uncompensated message only used so that I had something numismatic to add!

Happy Anniversary to Modern Coinage

The dual-dated Bicentennial reverse designs are still very popular amontst collectors

On July 23, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Coinage Act of 1965. Congress passed the bill in response to the coin shortages caused by the rising silver prices. When it was signed, the act eliminated silver from circulating dimes, and quarters while reducing the amount of silver used to strike half-dollars from 90-percent to 40-percent for five years. After five years, the half-dollar would be struck using the same copper-nickel clad composition as the lower denominations.

The act forbade the striking of silver dollars for five years ending an experiment with the striking of Peace Dollars in 1964. There are rumors that at least one 1964-D Peace exists despite the U.S. Mint’s insistence that all of the coins were melted.

Finally, the act made all coins and currency produced in the United States and specific bank issues as legal tender, which reversed the demonetization of the Trade Dollar in 1867.

The Coinage Act of 1965 marks the dividing line between “classic” and “modern” coinage.

After fifty-four years of modern coinage, there continues to be collectors and dealers who turn up their noses at modern coins.

Although the stories behind many of the classic issues are interesting, modern coins provide a diversity that is meaningful and affordable for the average collector.

The first coin of the modern era that had a public impact was the dual-dated coins with the reverses honoring the nation’s bicentennial. The bicentennial was a two-year celebration preceded by three years of hype and prep. When the coins were released, many people searched their change, looking for the coins. It was the first time in many years that half-dollar and large dollar coins circulated in significant numbers since finding them in change was exciting.

The Susan B. Anthony dollar was less than successful because it was confused with a quarter

The modern era also saw a big flop when the Susan B. Anthony small dollar coin entered circulation. Even though the U.S. Mint tried to simulate the 12-sides on the coin’s design, the size and the reeded edge was confused with the quarter. People stopped using the Susie B. thus ending whatever momentum dollar coins had.

The most successful program of the modern era was the 50 State Quarters program. The program started strong with a lot of interest. Unfortunately, a downturn in the economy and the television hucksters overselling the potential value of the series turned away a lot of potential collectors.

As the success of the 50 State Quarters program grew, Congress passed laws to create several other circulating commemoratives. The programs include the Westward Journey Nickels, Abraham Lincon Bicentennial cents, and the Native American $1 coin program using the golden-colored planchets of the Sacagawea dollar.

The modern era saw the return of the commemorative coin programs. Some were very popular, like the 2001 American Buffalo Commemorative Coin and 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin programs. There were less popular coins, but none had flopped as bad as the 2013 Girl Scouts of the USA Centennial Silver Dollar.

Unlike previous commemorative coin laws, modern laws help the U.S. Mint limit the time these coins can remain on sale. It also limits their production to one year.

Finally, the modern era has given us the bullion coin series. It started with the American Silver Eagle program that was created to provide a way for the United States government to sell off silver saved in the Defense National Stockpile. As a result, the U.S. Mint has used the program to experiment with different finishes, including burnished and reverse proof.

Congress passed the Gold Bullion Coin Act of 1985 a few months later after being lobbied by the gold mining interests. This law created the American Eagle Gold Bullion Program.

2013-W American Buffalo gold reverse proof obverse

Even more significant was Title II of the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005. Title II established the American Buffalo 24-Karat Bullion Gold Coins program. The law required the coins struck from .9999 put gold using the design of the 1913 Type 1 Buffalo Nickel as designed by James Earle Fraser. After the first year of issue, the U.S. Mint could change the design after vetting the design with the Commission of Fine Arts and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. This law allowed the U.S. Mint to produce coins like the 2009 High Relief gold coin and the 100th-anniversary tributes to the Mercury dime in 2016.

After 54 years there are a lot of exciting choices for the modern collector. And this does not consider the collection of errors or varieties, like the three types of 1972 Eisenhower dollars or the wide versus narrow lettering on the reverse of the 1999 Lincoln cent.

It is past the time for the numismatic community to embrace the collection of modern coins more than it has. There may be few modern coins that are worth thousands of dollars, but they are available to capture the interest of potential collectors. After all, how many of us started collecting by searching pocket change.

Collecting Apollo 11

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”
— President John F. Kennedy speaking at Rice University on September 12, 1962

Eisenhower Dollar Reverse featuring the Apollo 11 mission insignia

President Kennedy’s speech at Rice University was not the official policy announcement. He made that announcement on May 25, 1961. This speech was to convince the American people and Congress that it was necessary to fund this idea. Given the technology of the time, the space race was a longshot with people bound and determined to beat the Soviets to the moon.

Kennedy’s vision was accomplished by the Apollo 11 crew of Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin along with the thousands of support people on Earth. A little more than eight years after Kennedy made it the nation’s policy, Apollo 11 launched from Cape Kennedy on July 16, 1969.

From within the capsule attached to the top of the Saturn V launch vehicle, a rocket once described as a giant Roman candle, the rocket roared to life to lift the three pioneers into the final frontier. Even though the liftoff occurred at 9:32 AM in Florida, it was watched worldwide regardless of the local time.

Four days later, on Sunday, July 20, 1969, the world held its collective breath as the Lunar Module (LM), call-sign Eagle, was guided to the moon’s Sea of Tranquility and landed at 4:18 PM Central Time. Relief came when Neil Armstrong transmitted a message to Mission Control in Houston:

“Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

CAPCOM (Capsule Communicator) Charles Duke’s response summed up the feel of those of us on Earth as he stumbled a bit at the beginning:

“Roger, Twan– Tranquility, we copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot.”

According to the official schedule, Armstrong and Aldrin were supposed to get five hours of sleep. Realizing that it was unlikely they would be able to sleep, the crew prepared for the first walk on the moon’s surface.

Six and a half hours after landing, after Walter Cronkite and the CBS News team showed models as to how Armstrong will descend from the LM, pull the D-Ring to activate the camera, Armstrong left the LM and went down the latter. He pulled the D-Ring, and the world watched his progress. Just before reaching the surface of the moon, Armstrong uncovered a plaque mounted on the LM that read:

Replica of the plaque on Eagle, the Apollo 11 Lunar Module (Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institute)

Armstrong looked at the surface and described the moon’s dust as “very fine-grained” and “almost like a powder.” Then with a short jump, he left the bottom rung of the ladder and was standing on the surface of the moon.

“That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Over the years, there has been a debate about whether Armstrong included the word“a” in the statement. That is not what was heard at the time, and modern examinations of the audio tapes neither confirm or deny the claim. Regardless of what he said, Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the surface of the moon, a little more than eight years since President Kennedy said it was his goal.

Apollo 11 Flown MS66 NGC Sterling Silver Robbins Medallion, Serial Number 241, from The Armstrong Family Collection (Courtesy of Heritage Auctions)

Ironically, with the concerns about weight and preserving fuel, there appears to have been a lot of souvenirs carried to space with the crew. The most famous of these souvenirs are the Robbins Medals.

The practice of carrying Fliteline medals started in 1965 with the flight of Gemini 3, NASA’s first manned mission in the Gemini program. In 1968, the Robbins Company of Attleboro, Mass. was contracted to produce the Fliteline medals starting with Apollo 7.

It is reported that 480 of these 28mm medals were carried aboard Apollo 11.

According to Heritage Auctions, the most paid for a mission flown Robbins Medal was medal #241, a silver medal graded MS66 by NGC, that sold for $112,500 (including buyer’s premium) on November 1, 2018. It was sold with a Statement of Provenance signed by Armstrong’s sons as being once owned by Neil Armstrong. The provenance likely accounts for its high price.

Celebrating Independence Day 2019

Independence Day in the United States is a celebration of the formal breakup with the British monarchy. But like a lot of political decisions on this side of the pond, it was a decision that caused a lot of debate. For example, during the discussion on whether to declare independence, Maryland was one of four colonies to hold out. The others were New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.

Here are five other historical notes about the declaration:

  • The preamble of what would become the beginning of the Declaration of Independence passed on May 15, 1776.
  • On June 11, 1776, the “Committee of Five” was appointed to draft a declaration. Committee members were John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Robert R. Livingston of New York, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut. They completed the draft on June 28, 1776.
  • The Continental Congress debated the draft on July 1-2, 1776. New York and South Carolina were still holdouts, and the two Deleware representatives were deadlocked. This lead to the historical ride of Caesar Rodney, who rode 80 miles to Philadelphia to vote in favor of independence.
  • After Thomas Jefferson made the final agreed upon corrections to the document, the Continental Congress approved the draft on July 4, 1776, with 12 votes. Only New York abstained since they did not have the authority from their government.
  • The final signatures were added on August 2, 1776. Since New York approved the resolution of independence on July 10, the New York delegation is included amongst the signatures.

Although we celebrated the birth of the nation in 1776, the new country was not recognized until 1783 when the two nations signed the Treaty of Paris.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!

Memorial Day 2019

American Legion 100th Anniversary Commemorative Half-DollarThe first recorded organized public recognition of the war dead occurred on May 1, 1865, in Charleston, South Carolina. On that day, Freedmen (freed southern slaves) celebrated the service of the 257 Union soldiers buried at the Washington Race Course (now Hampton Park). They labeled the gravesite “Martyrs of the Race Course.” African Americans continued that tradition and named the celebration Decoration Day.

Memorial Day took on national significance following World War I when the nation began to recognize all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice during all conflicts. By the end of World War II, most of the celebrations were renamed to Memorial Day. Memorial Day did not become an official holiday until 1967 with the passage of the Uniform Holidays Act (sometimes referred to as the Monday Holiday Bill). Under the law, Memorial Day was set to the last Monday in May, changing it from the traditional May 30th.

The modern Memorial Day is a holiday celebrating the lives of those sacrificed in defense of the United States and its ideals at home and abroad. Today, we honor the memories of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, from the days of the revolution to the conflicts in around the world, so that I have the freedom to write this blog and you can read and share it amongst your friends.
 

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Sen. John D. Pinto

SPECIAL REMEMBRANCE: New Mexico Sen. John D. Pinto, a former World War II Navajo Code Talker, died on Friday, May 24, 2019. Pinto was one of the 400 native Navajo people who learned the code based on the Navajo language. It was used to communicate among the troops in the Pacific Theater during World War II. After the war, Pinto became a teacher and then a state senator in 1977. He was 94.

IMAGE: New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Sen. John D. Pinto (via Twitter)

Weekly World Numismatic News for April 21, 2019

National Coin Week is celebrated every third week of April to bring awareness to those neat little metal items jingling in your pocket as something that makes a fun collectible. This year the numismatic community is going all out to get you to look at your change with the Great American Coin Hunt. Why? Because change hunting is how many of us started. While finding silver coins may be rare (or is it?), there are still collectible coins in circulation.

Round Table Trading is a nationwide organization of coin dealers. Members of the Round Table have committed to placing collectible coins into circulation. Coins will range from Indian Head Cents to Morgan Dollars and everything in between. You may want to examine that dime you just received in change carefully because it could be a Mercury Dime that was struck by the U.S. Mint from 1916-1946.

I already own a 1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent, but I will be looking, too!

One dealer said he placed a 1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent in circulation. When the Lincoln Cent was introduced in 1909, there was an outcry because the designer of the coin, Victor David Brenner, put his initials at the bottom of the coin’s reverse. After producing 484,000 of the coins in San Francisco, production was interrupted so that new dies can be made without the “V.D.B” initials (the lack of a period after the B is not a typo). If you find a 1909-S VDB cent in your change, it will be worth about $2,000! Although I own one of these coveted coins, I will also be looking!

Also, look for coins with silver and gold stickers on them. If you find one, bring it to a coin dealer and redeem it for something worth more. Silver stickers can be traded for silver coins, and gold stickers will get you a gold coin. There are rumors that some dealers will redeem a gold sticker for a Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle ($20) gold coin worth more than $2,500.

The U.S. Mint is also participating by releasing the first-ever circulating coins with the “W” mint mark to indicate that the coins were minted at the facility in West Point, New York. In 2019, the U.S. Mint will add 10 million quarters, two million for each of the 2019 America the Beautiful Quarter Series coins, into circulation. After being struck at West Point, 1 million of each quarter will be sent to the mints at Philadelphia and Denver to be mixed in with the circulating coins that will be delivered to the Federal Reserve.

Although you might think that producing 10 million coins is not rare, consider that the U.S. Mint will produce nearly 1 BILLION quarters in a year making it about 1-percent of the Mint’s quarters production.

Finally, the American Numismatic Association is holding a 2069 coin design challenge and an Online Trivia Challenge. Visit the ANA website daily for the rules and a new daily question.

And now the news…

 April 16, 2019

GREENWICH – A high school senior from Greenwich is bringing a very modern approach to the ancient pastime of coin collection. Christian Hartch, 18, was given a small collector's book for pennies by his father, Greg, when he was 5. He's been obsessed with numismatics, the study of coins, ever since, and brought his enthusiasm to thousands of followers on YouTube.  → Read more at greenwichtime.com


 April 18, 2019

Byzantine ruler created the 438 Theodosian law code, which collected the thousands of imperial laws of the sprawling empire and officially made Jews second-class citizens  → Read more at timesofisrael.com


 April 18, 2019

A new dollar coin designed to commemorate 50 years of homosexual rights has sparked a dual backlash — from both members of Canada’s LGBT community and from a social conservative group.  → Read more at cbc.ca


 April 18, 2019

A gold and silver coins hoard was found by four treasure hunters with a metal detector in a field in Buckinghamshire and includes 12 rare full gold coins from the time of the Black Death.  → Read more at dailymail.co.uk


 April 19, 2019

2019-04-19T17:51:29.479634Z  → Read more at wmur.com


 April 20, 2019

EASTON — Take a moment to really count your change next week, you might be surprised to find some unusual and collectible coins.As part of National  → Read more at tauntongazette.com

Coin Collectors News
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 Burglary-Coin Shop-Safes Torched (Apr 18, 2019)

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

As we begin a new year, we should look forward to better times for our hobby, our nation, and our world. I wish you and yours a Happy and Healthy 2019 and hope that you find the key coin of your dreams!

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