Congress reauthorized old denominations

1853 Braided Hair Half Cent Obverse

1853 Braided Hair Half Cent Obverse – The last half-cent before being revived for 2016.

In a stunning move of bi-partisanship, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1776, the U.S. Mint Restoration Act. Under the law, the U.S. Mint is required to produce all denominations of minor coins that it had made in the past.

Starting in 2016, the U.S. Mint will be required to produce the half-cent, two-cents, three-cents, and 20-cents coins using the designs that appeared last on those coins. To save money, the half-cent will be made of copper-coated aluminum while the two-cent coins will be similar in composition with the current Lincoln cent. Three-cent coins will be made of copper-nickel with ratio of 75-percent nickel to 20-percent copper and 5-percent zinc. The 20-cents coins will be a clad coin with no reeds on the edge.

 
Claiming that they are being faithful to the constitution, Financial Committee Chairman Jim Hensling said that to bring back these coins would not only increase the options for the American public but that the seigniorage earned from making these coins would go a long way to help balance the budget. Speaking with Hensling, Ranking Member Max Waterston was optimistic that this would provide needed relief for low-income people looking to save their change.

The measure was supported by supported by Jan Yelling who also expressed concern that the coin rooms were overflowing with unused dollar coins. However, with expansion at many of the Federal Reserve member bank’s coin rooms that there should not be a problem supplying the country with the new coins.

Looking a little forlorn at the announcement was the U.S. Mint’s Principal Deputy Director Jett Butler. On the job since January, Butler has to figure out how to ramp up production of these new coins in time to have them in circulation by 2016. However, we were assured by Treasurer Rosalind Rio that the U.S. Mint will have the resources to allow them to bring up the production levels to meet the demand.

Bringing back these old denominations will certainly introduce new collectibles to the numismatic community. It will also be an opportunity for the makers of folders and albums to add to their portfolio. It is possible that the result will introduce new people who will collect these coins and learn about the past and why these coins were originally part of the U.S. currency system.

Finally, in a statement read on behalf of Jake Lou, who could not attend, he applauded the work of congress and asked that they consider allowing the U.S. Mint to replace the paper one-, two-, and five-dollar notes with coins. Lou noted that the seigniorage on a five-dollar coin could be as much as $4.50, which could go a long way to help balance the budget. Hensling and Waterston were non-committal on the proposal.

Half-cent image courtesy of the author.
All other images courtesy of Wiki Media Commons.

Are you having fun?

This 1878 eight tail feathers Morgan dollar, graded PCGS PO-1 (none worse!), is from the End of the Trail VIII Collection of Low Ball Morgan dollars that will be exhibited for the first time during the 2014 ANA World's Fair of Money.

This 1878 eight tail feathers Morgan dollar, graded PCGS PO-1 (none worse!), is from the End of the Trail VIII Collection of Low Ball Morgan dollars that will be exhibited for the first time during the 2014 ANA World’s Fair of Money.

There was an interesting buzz around the numismatic world when it was announced that Professional Coin Grading Service was going to display the “End of the Trail” Morgan dollars registry, the lowest graded basic set of Morgan Dollars. The End of the Trail registry set is the finest set in the PCGS Registry of “Low Ball” coins.

In 2009, PCGS began to offer rewards for what they called and “everyman” or second tier registry competition. Apparently, it became a race to the bottom. While people are looking for the best coins their money can buy, someone went quite the opposite and set out to find the worst of the worst.

“It is the all-time finest, or in this case, the worst-of-the-worst basic Morgan dollar set in the Low Ball category. While collectors have a lot of fun with the Low Ball sets, remember that it often is just as difficult and exciting to build a low grade set as it is to assemble a high grade collection,” said PCGS President Don Willis.

Who am I to argue. After all, someone put together a set of PO-1 and FR-2 coins, many marked “None Worse,” and probably cost more to have them graded than the coins cost to purchase. Then who is to say that some did not find their way into a pocket or two before being submitted?

Cynicism aside, there is something ironic about putting together a set like this and it has to do with just having fun. It had to be a lot of fun to go around and search through junk boxes or ask dealers for their worst coins. It must have been interesting seeing the face of some of the dealers when they hand over their worst Morgan dollars only to be told they were not bad enough.

Think about it for a moment. Dealers are looking for the best, most pristine inventory to sell to eager buyers who walk by their cases looking at the pretty and shiny coins. When coins are not good enough to make the inventory, they are thrown into junk boxes for people to pick through. Larger coins, like Morgan dollars, would be sold for a price around their melt value since there would not be much of a numismatic premium.

The adventure had to be a lot of fun for the person assembling the set.

That what this is all about, having fun! If you are stressing out about the worth of your set, are you really having fun? Are you having fun worrying about the plastic entombing the coin or whether someone placed a sticker on that plastic or is the coin the most important part of your collection?

I know the registry sets exist for the third-party grading services to promote their products and get people to submit coins. I know putting together a top set can be gratifying. But is it fun? Are you putting together that set for the fun or the profit?

There are a lot of people who collect coins in some form. Some collect high grade Morgan dollars while others collect varieties or VAMs. Some pursue the best and most rare coins while you find many digging through junk boxes at the shows looking for that one small gem to fill the hole in their collection. You may like high-grade Buffalo nickels while others are searching half-dollar rolls they pick up at their local bank.

Regardless of how you collect, what you collect, and where you find your collection, if you are not having fun then maybe you should rethink what you are doing.

Just for kicks, here are three of my “low ball” coins:

1794 Liberty Cap Head Right Large Cent

This 1794 Liberty Cap Head Right Large Cent has been around since the time of George Washington and looks the part. This coin has been cleaned making it a candidate for a no-grade if I should submit it to a grading service.

1798 Draped Bust Large Cent

A very worn flat 1798 Draped Bust Large Cent. It took a lot of light and a 16x loupe to determine the date!

1803 Draped Bust Large Cent

Another worn flat Draped Bust Large Cent. This one is from 1803 and just has a lot of character.

Now if you would excuse me, there are some tokens and medals from my hometown of New York I bought at the Whitman show I need to add to my collection.

Morgan dollar image courtesy of PCGS.

Be on television, claim your 15 minutes of fame!

Installation of Vote McGovern and Mao paintings at the Warhol Museum.

Installation of Vote McGovern and Mao paintings at the Warhol Museum.

When you ask people what comes to mind when you mention Andy Warhol, usually the first thoughts are of his pop-art pieces like Campbell Soup cans, Marilyn Monroe, and even one of Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong. Warhol was an artist of phenomenal commercial success whose art and life fit the times which he lived.

Warhol was also a bit of a philosopher. His unique views were often quoted and made profound by the utter simplicity of his ideas. If you read his 1977 book, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, you will get a sense of his philosophy and a look at what the world was like in the mid-1970s.

Philosophers are usually considered weird or crazy until history gets to look back and see how profound they really were. This is the case with Andy Warhol. Arguably his most famous quote was, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Warhol said this in 1968, almost 35 years before social media and reality television would change how people became famous.

Are you looking for your 15 minutes of fame? Do you want to be on television with a real speaking role and not as part of a videobomb? Then I have learned of an opportunity for you.

If you have unique coins or currency or anything numismatic that you want to sell and want to be on television, then you can be on the History Channel hit series Pawn Stars at the World’s Famous Gold and Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas.

Gold and Silver Pawn ShopRecently, I had been contacted by one of the casting assistants from the production company that produces Pawn Stars looking for people to be on the show. They are looking for unique items and sellers to come into the shop. Not only will you be able to sell your item, but you will do it on television and meet the Pawn Stars. Maybe you can even meet the newly slimmed down Chumlee!

According to Left Field Pictures, the show’s production company:

If you will be visiting the Las Vegas area soon and have an amazing or unique item that you would like to sell on the show, we want to hear from you! Email us at: pawnstarstvshow@leftfieldpictures.com.

Be sure to include the following info:

  • Your Name
  • Contact number
  • Description of your item (the more info the better!)
  • Detailed Photos of your item

If you and your item qualify and are selected, you could meet the Harrison’s and be on Pawn Stars!

PLEASE NOTE: the above information is required for all items in order to take them into consideration. We cannot offer appraisals for items that do not appear on the show.

Some of the numismatic items I have seen on the show include encased postage, a collection of Republic of Texas currency, rare tokens issued by mining companies to their employees, and shipwreck gold coins. I have also seen Charmy Harker, The Penny Lady, on the show. You might have seen Harker’s exhibit “Penny Potpourri” at recent coin shows, she appeared on Pawn Stars in 2012. She tried to sell a World War II-era aerial bomber camera to Corey. It was quite a treat to see someone you know on television!

If you appear on the show, contact me. Not only do I want to hear about it but I would like to interview you about your experience. Take some pictures and I will extend your 15 minutes of fame here!

Image of the Warhol Museum courtesy of the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.
Gold and Silver Pawn Shop logo courtesy of the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop.

Weekend of FUN

Going to a coin show in another area of the country is an education on seeing how others do the shows and meeting dealers who do not travel to your area. For me, attending the FUN Convention in Orlando was this type of experience. Yes, there were the usual big name, high volume, and high-end dealers present as they are at any show, but there are other dealers whom I have never met before.

Saturday was spent in three parts. When I arrived at the convention center, I went directly to the exhibits area. As a wannabe exhibitor with two (what I think are) good ideas, I wanted to see how others present their ideas. For the most part, I was a little disappointed in the exhibits. Many were mundane and typical. There were only a few exhibits that really stood out.

This Historically Significant 2-cent Piece by Tom Ulram of PAN

This Historically Significant 2-cent Piece by Tom Ulram of PAN

One of my favorites was a display on the two-cents coins that I found out was put together by Tom Uram, President of the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists. What made the exhibit interesting is that rather than a flat display, he dressed it up using story boards on a backing that was raised from the bottom of the case, and colorful. It looks like Tom understood that the short-attention-span nature of somebody looking at numismatic material would be more attracted to and attractive presentation.

"Penny Potpourri" by Charmy Harker won Best in Class, Show, and People's Choice

“Penny Potpourri” by Charmy Harker won Best in Class, Show, and People’s Choice

The other exhibit that was clearly about the others was Charmy Harker’s “Penny Potpourri.” Charmy reprised the exhibit from her near sweep at the 2013 World’s Fair of Money to sweep the awards at FUN including Best in Show and People’s Choice. If you have not seen this exhibit, it chronicles the various items made from the little copper one-cent coin. From small tools, decorative items, to dollhouse items, it is amazing what Charmy found. After all, she is known as “The Penny Lady” so it would be natural for her to put this type of exhibit together.

The second part of my day was schmoozing. There is nothing like meeting numismatists of all type on a bourse floor and just talk with them. I spoke with people I know, dealers I did not know until I sat at their table, and with visitors looking at various items wanting more information. I had the most fun at the American Numismatic Association traveling exhibit explaining the history behind the various items of currency that were on display.

Speaking of the ANA traveling exhibit, I was a little disappointed in the presentation of what was exhibited. Aside from not having the currency labeled with information, the case with the errors had just coins placed in the case without description or context. Many of the bland collector exhibits were done better than what the ANA presented.

FUN organizers understand that the idea of having a how is to have fun (pun intended). One exhibit area that I have only seen at FUN is the artists’ area. The artists’ area was in the back of the hall off the center aisle where tables were set in a square that hand artists making jewelry and art from coins. There were a number of artists making modern Hobo Nickels, a bead artist who used coins as part of the beading work, and someone who made large rings with carved coins.

A modern Buffalo Nickel artist carves coins at the FUN Show

A modern Buffalo Nickel artist carves coins at the FUN Show

The rings from another artists features designs using coins (see top row)

The rings from another artists features designs using coins (see top row)

Another fun area was the panning for gold. On the other side of the hall was a large booth set up with troughs that had mud and tiny gold nuggets. It was fun to walk up and watch the kids swirl the pan and find a tiny gold nugget. I do not know how much gold was in that water, but it was a lot of fun giving it a try. No, I did not find a gold nugget!

Of the large shows I have attended, FUN has had the most diverse attendance. There seemed to be more families, women, and minorities than even at the World’s Fair of Money. Another pleasant surprise was the number of women taking the lead with the young numismatists around the bourse floor and many of those YNs being girls. There were also quite a few Hispanic collectors with their YNs buzzing around the floor. Since I do not speak Spanish I could tell they were enjoying themselves just be observing their body language.

Diversity is good in both the hobby and life. No single group has the answers and attracting people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives is good for everyone. I do not know if the organizers of FUN advertise the show in minority communities or in areas that would attract diverse interests, but they should share what they do with the rest of the numismatic community since it is working.

As for my purchases, I was looking for a few silver bullion coins. Of the ones on my personal want list I was able to pick up the 2013 25th Anniversary Canadian Silver Maple Leaf and the 2014 Chinese Panda. I did not find the 2013 all-silver Britannia and I forgot about the 2013 and 2014 Australian Silver Koala. Since I already own the 2013 American Silver Eagle Proof, I should be almost caught up with my silver collection.

In my attempt to find something that I can say “oh… neat,” I did find three items that category. First, to add to my New York City collection is a Type 2 or “Large Y” subway token without the large “Y” punched. This token would have been used from 1970, when the fare was 30-cents, through 1980 for a 50-cents fare. I have seen many mis-punched tokens, but this is the first I have seen without the “Y.”

New York City Type 2 Subway Token error. It's missing the punched out "Y"

New York City Type 2 Subway Token error. It’s missing the punched out “Y”

My next “oh… neat” item is a Dad’s root beer bottle cap but with a 1953-D Lincoln cent wedged inside the cap. I do not know if this was done by Dad’s or someone else, but the folding of the cap around the coin looks too perfect to have been done manually. Even if it was done by someone as a good luck piece, it was very interesting.

The bottle cap of a Dad's Root Beer bottle. A 1953-D Lincoln cent is embedded in the reverse!

The bottle cap of a Dad’s Root Beer bottle. A 1953-D Lincoln cent is embedded in the reverse!

A 1953-D Lincoln Cent is "trapped" inside this Dad's Root beer bottle cap

A 1953-D Lincoln Cent is “trapped” inside this Dad’s Root beer bottle cap

Finally, I found a 1940’s era oil rationing coupon book. Obviously issued during the war, the coupon book limited the holder to up to $25 of home heating oil from the Service Oil Company of Hibbing, Minnesota. Hibbing is in what can be described as northeast Minnesota where it is not exactly warm. As I type this, the Weather Channel is reporting that the temperature in Hibbing a 1F! What makes this coupon book unusual is that it is unused with all the coupons attached from frigid norther Minnesota. It has survived over 60 years in nearly pristine condition. Now that is “oh… neat!”

A never used home heating oil rationing coupon book from the World War II era.

A never used home heating oil rationing coupon book from the World War II era.


Back cover of an unused home heating oil coupon book. It was printed for but never issued by Service Oil Company of Hibbing, MN

Back cover of an unused home heating oil coupon book. It was printed for but never issued by Service Oil Company of Hibbing, MN

If you have not been to FUN you should try to go. At least take the family. They can go to a theme park while you hit the bourse floor!

Photo Album

All images can be found here on Photobucket

A whole lotta bread

Lincoln cent wheat reverse (1909-1958)When Teddy Roosevelt became the 26th President of the United States following the assassination of William McKinley, he set out to reform the United States into a robust nation giving everyone opportunities while protecting what he felt made this nation great. One of Roosevelt’s reform was to redesign U.S. coinage that he called his “pet crime.”

Roosevelt hated the designs created by U.S. Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber. In fact, Roosevelt had called Barber’s designs “atrociously hideous.” Roosevelt ordered coinage whose designs were more than 25 years old to be redesigned. Since Roosevelt was a fan of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, he asked Saint-Gaudens to help redesign American coinage.

Before Saint-Gaudens would finish, he died of cancer in 1907.

Roosevelt still wanted to redesign the cent but did not have any ideas. In 1908, Roosevelt was posing for a Panama Canal service medal that was being designed by Victor David Brenner. Brenner, an immigrant who admired Abraham Lincoln, suggested that he design a coin honoring Lincoln to coincide with the centennial of Lincoln’s birthday in 1909. Roosevelt asked for samples and agreed to Brenner’s design proposal.

Brenner designed the reverse of the with two ears of durum wheat, one the most prolific wheat grown in the United States today. Wheat is the United States’ most successful crop and largest agricultural export.

Not only is it a successful crop, but over the 50 years in production, the U.S. Mint has produced a lot of its own wheat with every cent it made.

If you think about it, all that wheat could make a lot of bread.

  • The seeds on the stalk of wheat is called a kernel.
  • On average, there are 48 kernels in a head of wheat and 15,000 to 17,000 kernels in a pound.
  • According to the National Association of Wheat Growers, there are 1 million kernels of wheat in a bushel.
  • Since there are two heads of wheat on the reverse of the Lincoln cent, there are about 96 kernels of wheat per coin.
  • According to the U.S. Mint, there were 25,980,000,000 (25.98 billion) wheat cents struck between 1909 and 1958.
  • To find the number of kernels of wheat produced, multiply the number of kernels per cent (96) by the number of cents struck: 96 x 25,980,000,000 = 2,494,080,000,000 (2.49408 trillion) kernels of wheat.
  • If there are 1 million kernels of wheat per bushel, 2.49408 trillion kernels/1 million = 2,494,080 bushels of wheat produced by the U.S. Mint.
  • The National Association of Wheat Growers claim a bushel of wheat yields 42 one-and-a-half pound commercial loaves of white bread or about 90 one-pound loaves of whole wheat bread. Let’s use an average of 66 loaves of bread per bushel.
If 25.98 billion wheat cents yields 2.494 million bushels of wheat where each bushel yields 66 loaves of bread, if the U.S. Mint all the wheat struck on every Lincoln cent between 1909 and 1958 would have produced 164,609,280 loaves of bread.

Don’t like bread? What about pasta?

If a bushel of wheat makes 42 pounds of pasta, which is about 210 servings of spaghetti, 2.494 million bushels of wheat would have produced 104,748,000 or 523,740,000 servings of spaghetti.

We’ll need a few extra meatballs for dinner!

Credits

  • The idea for this post came from Montgomery County Coin Club Treasurer Jack Schadegg during a talk at our recent coin club meeting.
  • Various sources were used to calculate and verify the production of Lincoln cents from 1909 though 1958.
  • The National Association of Wheat Growers’ website provided the capacity figure.
  • Lincoln cent wheat ears reverse image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Dollar Coins or Paper Dollars?

I found this poem by Clifford Johnson on a site named OpEdNews.com. It is worthy of everyone enjoying here:

S. 1105: Dollar Coins or Paper Dollars?

by Clifford Johnson
Coin or paper?
What a caper!
One is proper,
one a whopper.
1862 $1 Legal Tender Note
Drastic
is what’s inelastic,
plastic
more than gold’s fantastic.
1935 $1 Reverse Early Design
What is copper
to a shopper,
what a penny?
One too many.
1921-D Peace Dollar
Paper powers
golden showers,
yet isn’t ours!
But a buck round
is square and sound.
1976-S Type 1 Eisenhower Dollar Reverse
One is proper,
one a whopper.
Coin or paper?
What a caper!
2013 Theodore Roosevelt Dollar
Images:

  • First $1 bill issued in 1862 as a Legal Tender Note. (Wikipedia)
  • President Franklin Roosevelt’s conditional approval of the one-dollar bill’s design in 1935, requiring that the appearance of the sides of the Great Seal be reversed, and together, captioned. (Wikipedia)
  • 1921-D Peace Dollar. (Wikipedia)
  • 1976-S Type 1 (1975) Eisenhower Dollar with Bicentennial Design. (Wikipedia)
  • 2013 Theodore Roosevelt Dollar. (U.S. Mint)

Colonial Coin Club celebrates 50 years and counting

Encased cent given to attendees to the Colonial Coin Club’s 50th Anniversary celebration.

Encased cent given to attendees to the Colonial Coin Club’s 50th Anniversary celebration.

Sometimes it is fun serving as an officer for a coin club or a regional organization. The past week I had the honor to represent the Maryland State Numismatic Association as its vice president at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Colonial Coin Club of Annapolis, Maryland.

The Colonial Coin Club was founded in 1963 by members of the Baltimore Coin Club who commuted to meetings from Annapolis. While not that far of a commute, these members felt there was enough interest to form their own local club. The first meeting of the Colonial Coin Club was March 19, 1963. Fifty years later they are still a vibrant club serving collectors in the Annapolis area.

With my busy schedule, not only did I welcome the one night diversion to join the celebration at a nice restaurant in Gambrils, Maryland, but I had a chance to speak to congratulate them, encourage them to continue their good work for the next 50 years and beyond, and invite them to participate with the state organization and to visit the club I am president of, the Montgomery County Coin Club.

Colonial Coin Club has quite a history serving collectors in the eastern part of Maryland. Although Baltimore may be Maryland’s largest city, the areas around the Chesapeake Bay is the birthplace of the original Maryland colony. Although the Calvert family settled into what we now know as Baltimore, Annapolis was the colony’s economic hub. Amongst Annapolis’s residents was Jonas Green who became the colony’s official printer. Green served as an apprentice and worked for Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia.

Green died in 1767 around the time that the colonial government was issuing its first currency. Taking over the printing business was his wife Anne Catherine Green making her the first woman to publish a newspaper in the colonies. Because of the social stigmas against women in these types of position, she printed her name as A.C. Green.

1783 Chalmers Shilling (PCGS XF 40).

1783 Chalmers Shilling (PCGS XF 40).

Drawing on the history of the Maryland colony, the Colonial Coin Club uses the 1783 John Chalmers shilling as part of its logo. Chalmers, who was a silversmith by trade, served as a captain in the Continental Army, was a representative to the common council of Annapolis, and was once the sheriff of Baltimore. As a civic-minded entrepreneur, Chalmers seized on the new law in Maryland that ended the practice of issuing paper money and the shortage of specie to propose a new coinage system. Chalmers created several prototypes that included the one shilling, three pence, and six pence coins. Chalmers’ shilling became the most famous of the his coins.

The design of the Chalmers Shilling has been a matter of debate. Several references call the long animal depicted a worm while others call it a snake and the two birds as doves. Some claim the birds are fighting over the worm/snake and there is no speculation as to why the worm/snake is depicted over a hedge. If you consider Maryland’s history at the time, snakes were not as prevalent in the Annapolis area. Birds would be going after worms and the two birds, which could be doves, are not fighting but sharing the worm—a symbol of Chalmers trying to tell people to get along during the tense period of transition from being British subjects to a free country. Considering that the coins were designed by Thomas Sparrow, who also designed the Maryland currency when it was issued, The worm over the head was to show unity across the Maryland fields.

If nothing else, I am adding the speculation as to the meaning of the coin.

As part of the celebration, the club put together a nice book of their history with articles from their journals, members, press clippings, and images that also makes is a really nice modern scrapbook of the club. It is an impressive bit of work by Betty Meck, a past president of the club, with help from their current Secretary, club historian, and the member with the longest service to the club Hank Schab. Both of whom I had a pleasure to meet and want to make special note of their contributions.

Also attending was Will Mumford. Will is a past president of the Colonial Coin Club and archivist for the Maryland State Archives who wrote, Barter, Bits, Bills and Tobacco: The Story of Money in Early Maryland. Will also wrote Strawberries, Peas, and Beans about the Pickers Checks in Anne Arundel County.

For a good overview of picker checks, you can read Picker Checks, Currency of the crops [PDF] by Gilbert Sandler from the University of Baltimore archives.

Finally, I would like to thank Colonial Coin Club President Rod Frederick for inviting the Maryland State Numismatic Association to participate which allowed me to be there as their representative. I will be 103 when the club celebrates a century of serving the coin collectors of the Annapolis area. I hope they will invite me back to celebrate with them!

A few images of the Colonial Coin Club’s 50th Anniversary history and album:

Chalmers Shilling image courtesy of Heritage Auction Galleries. Coin is from the January 2008 FUN Auction in Orlando and sold for $13,800 (including buyer’s premium).

Return of the Poll: What’s on your desk?

Some of the numismatic items found on my desk.

Some of the numismatic items found on my desk.

To bring back the weekly poll, I thought about my post the other day about desktop finds where I discussed the items I found while cleaning my desk. I was thinking about this and was curious as to what other collectors do? After all, many of these items are the results of my saying “oh neat” and buying something outside of my collecting interest. Others are items that were given to me that are also outside of my collecting interest.

I read articles that say if you’re not a collector you’re an accumulator. But it is not that simple. Sometimes I over buy just to get one specific item. For example, the lot of Canadian dimes I found on my desk were purchased because I wanted one of the dimes for my collection. I will probably resell the rest of the dimes, but in the mean time they are on my desk.

Other items are souvenirs like the faux million-dollar bill and the package of shredded currency. While I may not have an attachment to them, they are not salable and I just do not want to throw them away. Maybe I’ll create an auction lot of this stuff to see if someone else wants it but it is still here, too.

What about you? Do you buy extra items and think you’ll resell them later? What about those souvenirs? How many of you have cheap items that you know you cannot resell or even give away? Take the poll. Comments are always welcome!

What kind of "extra items" are in your collection?

I have bought something I thought was neat or unusual. (35%, 6 Votes)
I have bought lots of coins or exonumia just for one or two items. (24%, 4 Votes)
I have souvenirs that are not part of my main collection. (18%, 3 Votes)
I collect souvenirs but have bought more than I should have. (12%, 2 Votes)
I have a box of goodies, want to see it? (12%, 2 Votes)
I just have what I collect and nothing extra. (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 8

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A Week Fit for a Buffalo

2013 National Coin Week--Black Diamond Shines AgainWelcome to National Coin Week. This year, from April 21 through April 27, the National Coin Week theme is “Black Diamond Strikes Again” to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the introduction of James Earle Fraser’s Buffalo nickel.

According to legend, Black Diamond was Fraser’s model for the reverse of the Buffalo nickel. Black Diamond was a North American bison that was living in the Central Park Zoo. He was donated to the zoo by Barnum and Bailey and lived his life there until he was auctioned in 1915 to a game and poultry dealer who was later sold as steaks for $2 a pound.

James Earle Fraser, ca. 1920

James Earle Fraser, ca. 1920

When asked about the model for the coin, Fraser said it was Black Diamond and found him in the Bronx Zoo. At one time Fraser was not sure of the name of the animal but insisted his influence was at the Bronx Zoo. Black Diamond was never at the Bronx Zoo.

But like the story of who was the model for the Indian on the obverse, why should facts spoil a good story!

According to the fun folks at the American Numismatic Association, Black Diamond lives. Not only are they on the hunt to find him, but you can follow his exploits on Twitter using the handle @Diamondisalive.

Be sure to check out the the information at the ANA website. One thing you may want to read is the “The History and Romance of Hobo Nickels” [PDF] from the Money Museum.

Are you going to celebrate National Coin Week?

Yes, and I am even carrying my lucky Buffalo Nickel (38%, 6 Votes)
No, not this time (25%, 4 Votes)
What's National Coin Week? (25%, 4 Votes)
My local coin club is doing a program (6%, 1 Votes)
This is a silly idea (6%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 16

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1913 Buffalo Nickel Type 1 Reverse

1913 Buffalo Nickel Type 1 Reverse

National Coin Week banner courtesy of the American Numismatic Association.
Other images courtesy of Wikipedia.

Batter Up!

Baseball Coin Design CompetitionAs a result of the the president signed the National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act (Public Law No. 112-152 [TXT][PDF]), the U.S. Mint is required to hold a competition for the design of the obverse (heads) side of the three coins that will be issued as part of the set. The law states:

  1. IN GENERAL- The Secretary shall hold a competition to determine the design of the common obverse of the coins minted under this Act, with such design being emblematic of the game of baseball.
  2. SELECTION AND APPROVAL- Proposals for the design of coins minted under this Act may be submitted in accordance with the design selection and approval process developed by the Secretary in the sole discretion of the Secretary. The Secretary shall encourage 3-dimensional models to be submitted as part of the design proposals.
  3. PROPOSALS- As part of the competition described in this subsection, the Secretary may accept proposals from artists, engravers of the United States Mint, and members of the general public.
  4. COMPENSATION- The Secretary shall determine compensation for the winning design under this subsection, which shall be not less than $5,000. The Secretary shall take into account this compensation amount when determining the sale price described in section 6(a).

Here is your chance to design a coin that will be sold to collectors everywhere and if you create the winning design, you will win $5,000!

While you should read the Official Rules, here are some basics from the U.S. Mint:

  1. The obverse design must represent baseball and include the inscriptions “Liberty,” “In God We Trust,” and “2014.”
  2. Your design must be able to look good on a coin about the size of a nickel, which is close to the size of the $5 gold coin.
  3. You must be a 14 years old and older, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to enter. Employees in any area of the Department of the Treasury, current and former members of the Artistic Infusion Program, and contractor to the Department of the Treasury are ineligible.
  4. Your design must not depict any real person, name, logo, stadium, field, etc. from now or in the past. It must be original artwork.
  5. When you are ready to submit your entries, you must submit your line art in black and while (no color) to http://www.batterup.challenge.gov/. This site is not up but will be there, ready to accept your submissions on April 11 starting at noon EDT. Deadline is May 11, 2013 at noon EDT. You can also submit a plaster or plastic model approximately 8-inches in diameter.

Do not procrastinate because the U.S. Mint has said that if 10,000 entries are received prior the May 11 deadline, they will suspend the contest early with 48 hours notice. They also said that the contest will not end before noon EDT of April 26.

If you have an idea give it a try! You do not have to be that artistic because the engravers at the U.S. Mint can translate your design into something that can be struck into coins. They are good, so give it a try!

While we are talking about the design of these coin, will you try to submit a design for this commemorative? Let me know in this week’s poll:

Have you found a W mint quarter?





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