July 2019 Numismatic Legislation Review

1921-D Peace Dollar

Of course, the July legislative review has to discuss the introduction of the 1921 Silver Dollar Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 3735). Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) introduced this bill with Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) as a co-sponsor. As soon as the Congressional Record published the bill’s submittal, the American Numismatic Association issued a press release asking members to ask their member of Congress to support the bill.

The bill calls for the issue of no more than 500,000 $1 silver coins commemorating the Morgan dollar and the Peace dollar in 2021. If passed, 2021 will mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the Morgan Dollar and the beginning of the Peace Dollar.

Aside from being excited about the issue of the coin, the one line that has caught the interest of collectors is that “it is the sense of Congress that if the Secretary determines it to be feasible and cost effective, the Secretary may mint some of the coins minted under this Act at the Nevada State Museum (formerly a United States Mint facility) located in Carson City, Nevada.”

Although it seems like a good idea, there are a lot of questions whether striking coins in Carson City would be feasible. Since the facility is an active museum, would Nevada be willing to give up a piece of their operations to the federal government? How disruptive would be to the museum’s activities before and after striking the coins?

How would the U.S. Mint strike coins at the museum? While the facility has old coining presses used for demonstrations, they may not be capable of manufacturing modern coinage. Then there is the other equipment involved including an upsetting mill to put an edge on the coin.

The Carson City Mint was built in 1863 to building codes and security standards of the mid-19th century. After the Mint stopped striking circulating coins in 1893, the building became as Assay Office. In 1933, the Great Depression ended its service as an Assay Office. The federal government sold the building to Nevada in 1939. While the Nevada State Museum has updated the building’s security, it is doubtful that it would meet modern U.S. Mint requirements.

Striking coins with the CC mintmark may have an appeal to the collecting community, it might not be feasible and cost-effective.

S. 239: Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act of 2019
Sponsor: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Introduced: January 28, 2019
Summary: (Sec. 3) This bill directs the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue not more than 350,000 $1 silver coins in commemoration of Christa McAuliffe, a teacher tragically killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster.(Sec. 4) The design of the coins shall bear an image and the name of Christa McAuliffe on the obverse side and a design on the reverse side that depicts the legacy of McAuliffe as a teacher.(Sec. 5) Treasury may issue the coins from January 1-December 31, 2021.(Sec. 7) All surcharges received by Treasury from the sale of the coins shall be paid to the FIRST robotics program for the purpose of engaging and inspiring young people, through mentor-based programs, to become leaders in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Held at the desk. — Jul 10, 2019
Received in the House. — Jul 10, 2019
Message on Senate action sent to the House. — Jul 10, 2019
Passed Senate with amendments by Voice Vote. — Jul 9, 2019
Measure laid before Senate by unanimous consent. — Jul 9, 2019
Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs discharged by Unanimous Consent. — Jul 9, 2019
Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Jan 28, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-S239.

The Senate passed the Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act of 2019 in July. Like the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act (S. 1235) passed in June, the bill is being held at the desk in the House of Representative because of an objection by one of its members.

A source claims that a freshman member of the House has objected to these bills being first passed by the Senate. This member cites Article I Section 7 of the United States Constitution where it says that “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.” A spokesperson in the House ’Clerk’s office would not confirm or deny the ’source’s claim.

H.R. 3757: 1921 Silver Dollar Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)
Introduced: July 15, 2019
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Jul 15, 2019
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR3757.

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.

Weekly World Numismatic Newsletter for October 28, 2018

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)

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.

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

Coin Collectors News
news.coinsblog.ws

A LOOK BACK FOLLOW-UP

Hollow Spy Coins
(Image courtesy of ThinkGeek)

While searching for the next story in my “Look Back” series, I came across a post where it was reported that the Defense Security Services (DSS) issued a press release (see the text below) that the summary report claiming that radio frequency transmitters were found in Canadian coins is not true. “This statement was based on a report provided to DSS,” according to the release. “The allegations, however, were found later to be unsubstantiated following an investigation into the matter.”

DSS is blaming an editing error with the item appearing in the report.

Although the release said the story was not true, The Associated Press quoted agency spokeswoman Martha Deutscher saying, “What’s in the report is true. This is indeed a sanitized version, which leaves a lot of questions.”

Later in March of 2009, someone had sent a link to an online merchant that was selling hollow spy coins. They were offering hollowed out quarters or half-dollars with enough room for a very small memory card. The coins are advertised to come with an unlocking ring and are “indistinguishable from regular coins when closed.”

These coins are no longer listed on that company’s website. However, if you are interested in owning your own spy coin, you can use any search engine and search for “hollow spy coins.”

I will probably not buy one. I would be afraid to carry the quarter for fear of accidentally spending it. But keeping a hollow half-dollar as a pocket piece with some “secret” information inside of it could be fun.

Sources

Original DSS Press Release

The “Defense Security Service Report Statement on Canadian Coins Incorrect, 01/12/2007” press release is no longer available on the DSS website. The following text was found on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine:

A statement in the 2006 Defense Security Service Technology Collection Trends in the U.S. Defense Industry report which claimed radio frequency transmitters were discovered embedded in Canadian coins is not true, according to DSS officials.

This statement was based on a report provided to DSS. The allegations, however, were found later to be unsubstantiated following an investigation into the matter.

According to DSS officials, the 2006 annual report should not have contained this information. The acting director of the DSS directed an internal review of the circumstances leading up to the publication of this information to prevent incidents like this from reoccurring.

The 2006 DSS Technology Collection Trends in the U.S. Defense Industry report was published by DSS in June 2006. As part of its oversight responsibilities under the National Industrial Security Program, the DSS receives reports from U.S. cleared defense industry to enhance overall security awareness in cleared industry.

Ice Hockey and Lord Stanley’s Cup highlighted with numismatics

Hockey is to Canada as baseball and basketball is to the United States.

125th Anniversary of the Stanley Cup® — 3 oz. Pure Silver Coin (2017)

Although all sports are represented throughout North America, ice hockey is purely a Canadian invention. Although there are records of hockey being played as far back as ancient Egypt, the first appearance of hockey played on the ice dates to the early 19th century in Nova Scotia.

The early game was derived from the North American Natives game of shinney but played on the ice. From Nova Scotia, the game spread to the people living along the Saint Lawrence River in Montreal and Quebec. It quickly spread west to Ontario.

Montreal is to hockey as Springfield, Massachusetts is to basketball. The first organized games were played in Montreal where the first organized rules were formed. The first ice hockey club was the McGill University Hockey Club founded in 1877. This was followed by the Quebec Hockey Club in 1878 and the Montreal Victorias in 1881.

2017 25-cent 125th Anniversary of The Stanley Cup® Special Wrap Coin Roll

Lord Stanley of Preston, the Governor General of Canada, attended his first game in 1888 with his children who were hockey fans. Lord Stanley became a fan and noticed that there was no championship trophy awarded to the best team in Canada. He purchased a silver bowl to use as a trophy and created The Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup. It was first awarded in 1893 to the Montreal Hockey Club.

While ice hockey was dominating in Canada, universities in the United States had their own version of ice polo played with a ball rather than a puck. The first game between collegiate hockey clubs was played in 1893 in Baltimore when Yale beat Johns Hopkins 2-1.

Lord Stanley’s sons were so enthusiastic about hockey that they traveled the world to introduce the sport to others. By 1903 they organized a five-team European league.

The Western Pennsylvania Hockey League was formed in Pittsburgh in 1898 which primarily operated in areas within a four-hour train ride from Pittsburgh. Most of the professional players were from Canada. In 1904, a rival International Professional Hockey League was formed to include Canadian cities.

With all of the competing leagues, the National Hockey Association was formed in 1908 to organize professional hockey in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario. With western Canada feeling left out, the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) was formed to stretch professional hockey across Canada. The two leagues negotiated a championship between them that the winner of the series would will what was then being called the Stanley Cup first awarded by Lord Stanley.

1.5 oz. Pure Silver Coin – 100th Anniversary of the NHL® (2017)

World War I and a dispute between the owners and Toronto Blueshirts owner Eddie Livingstone saw the fall of the NHA in 1917. As part of their attempt to reorganize, owners formed the National Hockey League. The NHL was supposed to be a temporary measure until disputes were worked out but its success continues.

The original NHL included the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, and the newly created Toronto Arenas. The Wanderers disbanded in 1918 after the Montreal Arena burned down. In 1919, the NHA’s Quebec Bulldogs joined the league bringing the number of teams back to four.

The Toronto Arenas won the first NHL championship in 1918 and then defeated the Vancouver Millionaires of the PCHA for the Stanley Cup.

The NHL expanded but found itself hurt by the Great Depression and the onset of World War II. By the 1942-43 season, the league was reduced to what has been referred to as The Original Six, the six teams that were the NHL from 1942 until the first expansion in 1967. The original six are the Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs.

1/2 oz. Pure Silver Coloured Coin – Passion to Play: Montreal Canadiens® (2017)

Today there are 31 teams with 24 operating in the United States and seven in Canada. The oldest team is the Montreal Canadiens whose history dates back to the NHA. The Toronto Maple Leafs can trace their history to the Toronto Blue Shirts of the NHA but does not acknowledge a direct lineage.

Since its first presentation by Lord Stanley of Preston in 1893, the Stanley Cup has been awarded 101 times. It is the oldest team championship trophy in existence. The Montreal Canadiens have won the Stanley Cup 24 times, the most by any team. The Detroit Red Wings hold the United States record for 11 Stanley Cup victories.

Currently, the Washington Capitals are winning in the Stanley Cup Finals 3-1 against the Vegas Golden Knights. The Capitals played their first season in 1974-75 and appeared in the Stanley Cup finals once, in the 1997-1998 season. This is the Vegas Golden Knights first season as an NHL Team.

Pure Silver Coin – The Toronto Maple Leafs®: Anniversary Logo (2017)

Since the Eastern Conference Finals, fans have been gathering around Capital One Arena to watch the games whether the Caps are at home or on the road. All of the games have been projected on the side of the National Portrait Gallery on G Street NW. For road games, fans have been allowed into the Capital One Arena to watch the game on the big screen.

To say that the area has gone Caps crazy would be an understatement. The neighborhood around Capital One Arena, known as Chinatown, will be flooded with fans on Thursday to watch the game outside projected on the side of the National Portrait Gallery and from the bars around the area.

In the area is the headquarters of the U.S. Mint on 9th Street NW. Although its sales counter may be open during the day, the crowds are expected to gather in the area beginning around noon. Plan accordingly.

If you are going to be in Washington and want to experience the fans Rock the Red (the Caps wear red sweaters at home leading to the moniker), you are welcome to join the crowd. If you want to avoid the crowd, find something else to do on Thursday that might be away from the area. This might be a good day to visit the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum. It is located in Chantilly, Virginia near Dulles Airport about 25 miles east of the Capital One Arena and far away from the crowd.

As for me, I will be watching from home. Since my team has not won the Stanley Cup since 1983, I am cheering for the Caps.

NOTE: Click on any image to go to the Royal Canadian Mint’s website if you are interested in purchasing the coins shown in this post. All of the images are courtesy of the Royal Canadian Mint.

A look back interview with Randy’L Teton

Randy’l Teton interview on East Idaho Newsmakers (screen grab)

Following the failure of the Susan B. Anthony Dollar, there was an effort to revive the dollar with a new design. When the debate settled, Congress produced legislation to change the coin to have a golden color and a smooth edge to make sure it can be distinguishable from the quarter. After another debate, Sacagawea, the Shoshone guide of the Lewis and Clark expedition, was eventually chosen for the coin’s design. When the designs were reviewed and following a vote by the public, Treasury picked Glenna Goodacre’s design with the profile of Sacagawea in three-quarter view and her infant son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, carried on her back.

Since there are no known images of Sacagawea, Goodacre searched for someone she could model her design on. Goodacre found Randy’L He-Dow Teton is a member of the Shoshone-Cree tribe to be the model. Teton was a student at the University of New Mexico majoring in art history and was working for the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum in Santa Fe when Goodacre visited looking for information about the Shoshone tribe. While talking with the museum’s curator, Goodacre was shown a picture of the curator’s daughter, Randy’L, and decided to work with her to create the Sacagawea design.

Recently, Teton sat with Nate Eaton of EastIdahoNews.com for his series East Idaho Newsmakers. Although they cover other topics, most of the video is about Teton’s experience as being the model for Sacagawea.

EastIdahoNews.com does not provide the ability to embed the video elsewhere on the web. To watch the video and hear the story from Teton’s point of view you can visit the site: Newsmakers: The fascinating story of how this local woman ended up on the dollar gold coin.

19th Century Women in Numismatics

As part of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s celebration of Women’s History Month, they posted the following image on Facebook (copied here for those who do not use Facebook):

More than 150 years ago, four-subject sheets of Demand Notes, printed by a private firm, were delivered to the Treasury Department where they were individually signed by clerks, and trimmed and separated with scissors by women.

I thought it was a cool picture and wanted to make sure it is shared in the community!

Image courtey of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

These Chihuahuas are not dogs

This past week, I was looking into a box I purchased from an estate and I found a plastic bag of old foreign currency. When I removed the notes, I found common notes that can usually be purchased from estate especially since he was a career military officer. There was everything from German Notgeld to several European and Asian countries.

During my search, I found three notes that were intriguing. All three notes were from El Estado de Chihuahua, the State of Chihuahua. They were beautifully preserved (albeit with a fold down the center) one-, five-, and ten-peso notes with the same design but in different colors.

Under the printed denomination are the words “Conforme al Decreto Militar de Fecha Io de Febrero de 1914” (Pursuant to the Military Decree dated February 1914). I vaguely remember that was the era of Pancho Villa and his romp through the southwest United States. Time to refresh my history.

After the 35-yearlong regime of Porfirio Diaz, he was challenged in the presidential election by Francisco I Madero in 1910. Madero was in favor of reform and social justice. But Diaz fixed the election declaring he won by a landslide.

Before the election Diaz had Madero jailed and when it became obvious the election was fixed, Madero supporter Toribio Ortega formed a militia in Chihuahua to oust Diaz.

While in jail, Madero issued a “letter from jail” that declared the Diaz presidency illegal and called for a revolt against Diaz. The revolt began in November 1910. Diaz was ousted and a new election was held in October 1911 that elected Madero the 33rd President of Mexico.

Mexico was divided into districts managed by different governments and protected by rebel leaders including Pascual Orozco, Pancho Villa, and Emiliano Zapata. Eventually, they turned on Madero and assassinated him on February 13, 1913.

The United States first played a role in 1914 when Pancho Villa plundered parts of New Mexico. In 1916, Gen John J. Pershing was sent to Mexico to capture Villa but could not do so since Villa was hiding in the mountains of northern Mexico. Pershing was able to get some of the fighting to stop and, along with the Catholic Church and several affiliated political parties, forced the negotiation of the Constitution of 1917.

Although the notes were authorized in February 1914, the Chihuahua government did not have the ability to print notes. Eventually, they contracted with the American Banknote Company to produce the notes. They were issued in 1915.

To expedite production, all notes feature the same design engraved with different denominations and printed using different colored inks. Many of the elements used were standard to American Banknote’s catalog, for these notes, the portrait on the left is of Francisco I. Madero and the portrait on the right is Governor Abraham Gonzalez. Each features three signatures of the Tesorero General (General Treasury), Gobernator (Governor), and Interventor (Controller). As with many signatures, it is difficult to interpret their names from the handwriting. Please contact me if you have more information.

Reverse if these notes feature a framed picture of the Palacio de Gobierno do Chihuahua (Government Palace of Chihuahua) held by two griffins. When the notes were issued from the banks in Chihuahua, they received a red stamp from Tesorero General del Estado Chihuahua (General Treasury of the State of Chihuahua) along with the stamped initials of the issuing teller. When the notes were issued, the teller was supposed to stamp the date on the reverse but that was not universally practiced.

In addition to the one-, five-, and ten-peso notes, the Chihuahua government issued 20- and 50-peso notes as well as a 50-centavos fractional note. Both the 20- and 50-peso notes featured the same design except the 20-peso note was printed using brown ink and the 50-peso was printed with a bright green on the front and a golden yellow on the reverse.

The 50-centavo fractional note used a different design and was smaller than the pesos. It was also printed by the American Banknote Company.

These notes were demonetized in 1917 with the signing of the new constitution.

An Educational Opportunity

Money is history in your hands. Look at what can be learned from finding three banknotes and exploring their past and how they fit into history.

Here is an idea for history teachers: you can go to any coin show and find a dealer with a junk box of foreign currency—find more than one if you can to increase the variety. Pick through the box and try to find as many different pieces of currency you can. Try to find a mix of countries, regions, and dates. You can also consider the same country but from different eras of rulers, who always wanted to see their portrait on their country’s money.

Before going to class, place each note in an envelope and place the envelope in a bag. Either pass the bag around the room or have each student come up and pick one envelope. After they pick their currency note, have them write an essay about the note and what the note represents. Have the students look up the history and put it in context of when the note was issued.

Rather than picking a topic, it is a fun way to have the students select a topic and make history come to life. The decisions as to whether the students get to keep the currency are up to you. Maybe you can talk to a local shop or club to see if they would be willing to donate the currency and come in to talk about currency collecting.

Happy Thanksgiving 2017

American Abundance designed by Albert Laessle and issued in 1934

Thanksgiving was first celebrated in 1621 by the Dutch settlers at Plymouth, Massachusetts to celebrate a successful harvest. It was a tradition that the Pilgrims brought with them from Europe. After the birth of the United States, President George Washington issued a proclamation honoring the Thanksgiving harvest during his presidency. The only other president to issue a Thanksgiving proclamation was President James Madison.

As part of his attempt to maintain the union, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation that made Thanksgiving Day a national holiday in 1863.

After Lincoln’s proclamation, it was traditional to celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November. In a move to increase the holiday shopping period to promote more spending, President Franklin D. Roosevelt pushed to have congress pass a law to move Thanksgiving earlier in the month. In December 1941, Roosevelt signed a bill that set Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday in November.

Be thankful for your life.
Be thankful for your family.
Be thankful for our hobby.
Be thankful for everything.
Happy Thanksgiving!

The Star Coin Book

The shameless promotion of the coin business and extraordinary search for special rare coins did not begin with the explosion of the Internet. It can be traced to legendary coin dealer B. Max Mehl. From the empire he built in Austin, Texas, Mehl was probably the first coin dealer to market coins to the general public.

Mehl started advertising in The Numismatist in 1903 and in the following year issued his first catalog. In 1906, Mehl paid $12.50 to advertise in Collier’s magazine offering his Star Coin Book for 10-cents. Later, Mehl would expand the book and sell it for $1.

Benjamin Maximillian Mehl was born in Łódź, Russia (now Poland) in 1884. His family immigrated to the United States in 1895 and worked as a shoe salesman before he became a coin dealer. Stories about his relentless promotion report that he was shipping coins to more than 30,000 times a year.

Mehl is famous for his advertising that he “Will pay $50 for a nickel of 1913 with Liberty Head, not Buffalo.” Although he never found one, that did not stop him from advertising and trying.

Then there is the catalog, Star Coin Book. Before the Red Book, Blue Book, and Standard Catalog, there were few books that provided this amount of information and was affordable to the general public. The Star Coin Book was his marketing tool to make and keep people interested and to keep the orders coming in.

Mehl sold so many catalogs that one can be purchased for as little as $5.00 or as high as $50.00 depending on the year and condition. Many are in poor condition since they were not meant to be saved. Mehl wanted people to buy a new catalog every year.

Imagine my surprise when I was going through a box of odd books that I purchased from an estate and found a 1925 edition of The Star Rare Coin Encyclopedia and Premium Catalog. I picked up the book, paused as I tried to focus on the well-worn cover, and smiled as I realized what I had found.

The book is not in good condition but it is part of numismatic lore. It is Mehl’s work as a cataloger and seller of coins and some currency. It is page after page of coins and the values that he would pay if you wanted to sell your coins. These values are a range of what he would pay and he notes that is based on the condition of the coin. He does include a description of the differences in condition and most coin types include some type of picture, whether it is a photographic plate or a line drawing.

After the lists there are a few pages of history of coins, “Coins Past and Present” that is followed by coins he has for sale. All sales were done by phone or by postal mail. Remember, this was long before fax machines and the Internet!

There are both contemporary and modern writings about Mehl that describe him as a huckster and mendacious. Others describe him as a genius of marketing that helped grow the hobby. Regardless, Mehl has a place is numismatic history that has to be respected for being able to use the tools he had to build a successful business.
 

Mehl built his company’s offices at 1204 Magnolia Ave. in Fort Worth. The building was rescued long after Mehl had died but his name still appears over the main entrance.

Image of 1204 Magnolia Avenue take from Google Maps.

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