The last two years have been a wild ride. Anyone who predicted what would have happened should be picking lottery numbers. For the rest of us, the predictable (i.e., the U.S. Mint) became unpredictable. The positives had a lot of negatives and what used to be extraordinary is now ordinary.
Without further ado, here are the top five numismatic stories for 2021.
5. Return of the coins shows
It isn’t easy to have any retrospective of 2021 without acknowledging how COVID-19 has affected the industry. At the beginning of 2021, there were cancelations of shows and other events. As the vaccines became more available and the infection rates declined, the shows returned.
Smaller shows found hotels willing to lease larger rooms to allow the setup of a socially distance bourse. Like the World’s Fair of Money, Larger shows changed to provide for social distancing and limiting contact. Collectors that attended these shows called them a success. Still, the reports may be more emotional satisfaction after a year off.
Coins shows are adapting to an alleged new normal, and collectors are happy to get what they can. While it makes collectors happy, the looming threat of new variants may slow down the shows at the start of 2022.
4. The Positives and Negatives of the U.S. Mint
Ventris Gibson, Acting Director of the U.S. Mint (LinkedIn photograph)
The U.S. Mint is the source of the items we collect and the biggest frustration experienced by the community. On the one hand, the manufacturing business of the U.S. Mint made it the biggest success story of 2021. Compared to the rest of the manufacturing sector, the U.S. Mint has been running in overdrive since mid-2020. The only manufacturer of United States coinage has produced more money than any three mints in the world combined.
Even with the COVID issues, the U.S. Mint could produce the coins required by law, including the 2021 Morgan and Peace Dollars. Unfortunately, selling these coins revealed collectors’ frustrations with the U.S. Mint.
The U.S. Mint’s online order processing system may work without product release. Still, a major product release causes the system to fail. The product release was a perfect storm of a limited supply and a high collector demand. The result exposed how PFSWeb, the U.S. Mint’s contractor, created a system that could not handle the rush.
The U.S. Mint became more communicative with the numismatic press. During this communication, it was clear that Director David Ryder wanted to talk more about the successes. Unfortunately, the failures of the ordering system overshadowed any success. Ryder resigned as Director effective October 1, 2021.
The e-commerce system at the U.S. Mint is broken and needs to be replaced. Unfortunately, the open communications from the U.S. Mint indicate that they are planning to install a bandaid to cover up the system’s problems. Unless the U.S. Mint and PFSWeb make major changes to their online order system, the issues will continue into 2022.
3. 2021 Morgan and Peace Dollars
Numismatists know that 2021 marked the end of the Morgan Dollar series and the introduction of the Peace Dollar. Morgan Dollars may be the most collected coin in U.S. numismatics. The Peace Dollar was the coin promoted by former ANA President Faran Zerbe with support from the ANA. In 1921, the U.S. Mint produced both coins. What better way to celebrate the centennial is by creating tributes to both coins.
The tribute idea was popular by collectors suggesting that it would be a high-demand product. But the U.S. Mint found a way to destroy the movement. In a series of missteps, the U.S. Mint allowed its lawyers to restrict their ability to do its job. As a result, the U.S. Mint could not purchase enough planchets to satisfy collector demand.
It is difficult to call the program a success given its problems. But the coins were a sellout, and they continue to do well on the secondary market. The U.S. Mint announced that the program will continue in 2022, and hopefully, it will go better than the 2021 releases.
2. Million Dollar Coins No Longer a Surprise
1804 Class I Original Draped Bust dollar, PCGS Proof-68 and the finest known of its kind, acquired for a client by GreatCollections for $7.68 million. (Photo credit: Professional Coin Grading Service.)
It used to be that very few coins would sell for more than $1 million. The sale would be broadcast on the traditional news media when they did. In 2021, ten coins sold for more than $1 million. Except for one coin, other sales were barely noticed by the mainstream media. Unfortunately, the numismatic market is not educating the
The numismatic market is very active, and the price increase of significant rarities results from the active market. Although the market favors United States coins, the collectors extend their collections to coins made elsewhere. Of the ten-million-dollar coins sold in 2021, four were not U.S. coins.
Here are the coins that sold for more than $1 million in 2021:
1787 Brasher Doubloon – EB on Wing (ex: Stickney-Ellsworth-Garrett-Partrick)
January 21, 2021
1822 Half Eagle (ex: Pogue)
March 25, 2021
1804 Bust Dollar – Class I (one of 15 known)
August 18, 2021
1804 $10 Proof Eagle (Finest of Three known)
January 20, 2021
1907 Saint-Gaudens Ultra High Relief Double Eagle
April 6, 2021
1825 Russia Ruble Pattern with would-be Emperor Constantine
April 6, 2021
1928 China Pattern Dollar featuring the warlord Zhang Zuolin
April 6, 2021
1937 Edward VIII 5 Pounds Pattern (one of six known)
March 26, 2021
1928 China Pattern “Mukden Tiger” Dollar (one of ten known)
December 11, 2021
1. The Double Eagle That Flies Higher
Farouk-Fenton 1933 Saint-Gaudens $20 Double Eagle was sold by Sotheby’s for $18,872,250 in a June 2021 auction. (Picture Credit: PCGS)
As part of a May 2021 auction announcement, Sotheby’s revealed that Stuart Weitzman owned the 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, the only legal coin of the mintage to own. Before the auction announcement, Weitzman was the anonymous buyer of the historic coin when it was an auction in 2002. He purchased the coin for $6.6 million-plus a 15-percent buyer’s premium. Sotheby’s famously paid the $20 face value to the U.S. Mint to monetize the coin. The final sale price was $7,590,020. At the time, it was almost twice the previous record paid for a coin.
Since that sale, several coins sold for more.
On June 8, 2021, Sotheby’s auctioned the Stuart Weitzman Collection, including rare Inverted Jenny Plate Block and the British Guiana One-Cent Black on Magenta stamps. The coin sold for a record $18,872,250.
It answers the question, “What is a coin worth?” What are you willing to pay for it?
The following excerpt was part of an email sent by the ANA this afternoon:
Unfortunately, several dealers have notified the ANA that they have tested positive for COVID-19 since returning from the show. Although protective measures were in place, the potential for exposure is always a possibility when one leaves home. The ANA is unaware of when, where or how the dealers contracted the virus. (Due to privacy issues, we are unable to provide the names of the infected dealers.)
If you feel ill or are displaying any COVID symptoms, consider quarantining for 10 days and/or getting a COVID test.
I have made my feelings known about the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the primary reason why I did not attend the World’s Fair of Money.
Every time I write about COVID-19, I receive at least a dozen emails filled with vitriol. The fact is that over 99-percent of those hospitalized with COVID-19 are not vaccinated, and 100-percent of those deaths are not vaccinated. Today, Alabama announced they have run out of ICU beds.
In the meantime, I hope that the ANA did the responsible thing and notified the appropriate people in Cook County, Illinois. They should make sure that the convention center workers are safe.
I will not attend a coin show regardless of the size until the pandemic subsides, including the Whitman Expo scheduled for November. I will deal with the short-term inconvenience for my long-term health.
Please stay healthy and safe. Please get vaccinated!
With the country reopening, there is a lot of activity arranged to make up for the lost time. It is going to make June a busy month that will delay the Weekly World Numismatic News posts. Stay tuned because I have a lot of good content coming!
Life in the United States is coming back. Although COVID-19 continues to be a concern, the vaccines seem to be mitigating many of the issues that closed down the country last year. According to many reports, the United States is doing better than other countries with vaccinations. The result is a decrease in the number of infections and deaths.
COVID-19 will change how we live life, at least for the next few years. Aside from the loss of family members, I am no longer shaking hands. I will fist-bump with someone. Maybe we should learn from the Japanese and bow in respect.
Another change is the reduction in handling items. When I go to a store, I continue to wear nitrile gloves. Even though science has proven that COVID-19 cannot live on surfaces for long times, studies have shown that a dollar bill can have more bacteria than a toilet seat.
The next question is what will happen at coin shows. When we go to shows, people will examine coins, currency, and exonumia before they purchase. Collectors will be digging through junk boxes, those long storage boxes, and flipping pages in notebooks. Collectors will handle slabs and flip through pages of the available books. While this is no different from shows in the past, the COVID-19 pandemic scared everyone. A result of the heightened awareness of viruses was a significant reduction in flu cases.
People traveling to long-distance shows will be required to wear masks in the airport and on airplanes. Show venues will continue to require people to wear masks and social distancing that will reduce dealer participation.
COVID-19 restrictions require the ANA to reduce the number of dealers to maintain social distancing. What we do not know are the other restrictions that the ANA will have to follow. Will there be restrictions on the number of people on the bourse floor? What about attendance restrictions on the peripheral sessions like Money Talks and the auctions? How will the exhibits be handled? What other restrictions will the ANA be required to follow?
It is good that life is resuming, but there are more questions than answers. Get vaccinated and stay safe.
How many times have you weighed the little usefulness of the pennies you have in your purse? You may even have accumulated them and that you have them stored in a boat waiting to count them so that they can be exchanged for coins of more value or a banknote, but be careful that there is a special cent coin that could have a value of 50,000 euros So what maybe you have among those pennies that you hardly pay attention to. → Read more at marketresearchtelecast.com
Written by Oscar Holland, CNN Two of the most coveted items in stamp-collecting and one of the world's rarest coins could fetch a combined $37 million when they go under the hammer in New York next week. → Read more at cnn.com
Cincinnati, Ohio, June 04, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Cryptozoologists worldwide are scampering to find Cincinnati, Ohio on the map and Osborne Mint on the web to see The Yeti and be able to capture the creature for themselves. → Read more at globenewswire.com
Earlier this month, the ANA announced that the World’s Fair of Money will be held as scheduled. As part of the announcement, the ANA said that the show would be limited to 300 dealer tables to configured the bourse floor to allow for social distancing. Those attending the show will be asked to maintain social distancing, and masks will be required.
There are no indications as to whether there will be capacity or other limits. Other questions include how are they handling exhibits, room configuration for meetings and talks, and seating for the auctions? How will the banquet be handled?
I am not questioning the ANA’s commitment to health and safety. But I have personal concerns there. There are members with age-related health issues that have to consider their situation before attending. It would be nice if the ANA were more forthcoming about how the World’s Fair of Money will operate.
As we know of the situation today…
Are you attending the World's Fair of Money in August?
No. Either I cannot go or I am worried in the current environment. (42%, 10 Votes)
Yes! I am or will be making reservations. (29%, 7 Votes)
Maybe, depending on my situation (17%, 4 Votes)
Maybe if I can understand the ANA's safety precautions. (13%, 3 Votes)
Yes, but I reserve the right to change my mind. (0%, 0 Votes)
This past week’s numismatic-related news is a lesson about how the industry has not adapted to the new environment.
First, Whitman issues a statement with a headline saying, “Baltimore Expo Prohibited Due to Mandated COVID-19 Restrictions.” Their release rightly mentions that Maryland is using the Convention Center to help fight the pandemic in Baltimore. As the largest indoor location in the city, it would be right to assume that the Baltimore Convention Center might be busy for some time.
Whitman then announces a “MEGA Bourse” for the June Expo. Unfortunately, the Atlanta-based Whitman does not consider the factual data of the progress and what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also located in Atlanta, says about the pandemic’s future. The pandemic will be a significant issue in June, just as it will be in August outside of Chicago. It would have been better for Whitman to say that they will monitor the situation and make an announcement when appropriate.
Collectors who have attended several smaller shows report that the dealers or the participants are not following COVID-19 protections. One person in Texas reported that “about half” of the dealers were not wearing masks. Although the infection and death levels have plateaued, the United States reached 26 million reported cases, and U.S deaths from COVID-19 topped 441,000, including my father. The number of cases and deaths tops every other country in the world.
I understand that there is pandemic fatigue. We want to go back to some semblance of a life. We collectors want to go to shows, have club meetings, and do more collecting. I know because I want that! But the more we screw around and do not take this seriously. More people will get sick and die.
Even with considering the administration’s goal of 100 million vaccines in 100 days, it will take another 180 days to get enough people vaccinated to reach herd immunity levels. Assuming that nothing goes wrong, it is a total of NINE months.
Based on the information provided, it means we can start to return to normalcy by September or October. It also assumes everyone cooperates.
An "extremely fine and rare" Oliver Cromwell gold coin belonging to a Scarborough-based collector has sold at auction for a world record £471,200. The 50 shilling piece dates back to 1656 and was made by Thomas Simon, Cromwell's chief engraver. → Read more at examinerlive.co.uk
— A new U.S. coin honoring Christa McAuliffe, NASA's first "Teacher in Space," will help continue her educational mission 35 years after she and her six astronaut crewmates were tragically lost in flight. → Read more at collectspace.com
As 2020 rages to a close, the damage on the numismatic world will carry over in 2021. This week, the American Numismatic Association announced the National Money Show’s cancellation scheduled for March in Phoenix. Earlier in the week, the February Long Beach Expo was canceled.
Previously, the January Florida United Numismatists (FUN) Show and the New York International Numismatic Convention. The Berlin Money Fair has canceled in-person events and will offer a virtual convention.
The U.S. Mint canceled coin launch ceremonies for the 2020 and 2021 America the Beautiful Quarters and American Innovation Dollars. Most are now virtual events.
The numismatic market appears strong based on the prices realized by the auction companies. With every auction company moving their auction online, many report better than expected returns from their auctions. Online auction services like eBay and HiBid report strong sales of numismatics across their platforms. Finally, the U.S. Mint is also boasting of enthusiastic demand, even with its online ordering system’s failures.
Other areas that are showing significant interest are where numismatics are including as part of other hobbies. The most significant growth is with the mints that are producing coins supporting the comic book industry. Some overseas observers report that sales of comic-themed coins produced by the New Zealand and Royal Australian Mints have shown increased sales as part of the holiday shopping season.
The numismatic industry appears to be doing very well. Too bad the numismatic organizations have not figured out a way to reinvent themselves to adapt to the current environment.
A design by student Ymen Riahi, who attends St Nicholas Middle School in Rabat, was chosen for the last of a series of five €2 coins from the ‘From Children in Solidarity’ programme. The €2 commemorative coin will be issued on 14 December 2020 by the Central Bank of Malta. → Read more at newsbook.com.mt
Life as we know it may have ground to a halt in 2020, but treasure hunters appear to be going about business as usual. Witness the UK, where amateur archeologists have turned up thousands of gold coins and other antiquities since the start of the pandemic. → Read more at robbreport.com
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A former deep-sea treasure hunter is about to mark his fifth year in jail for refusing to disclose the whereabouts of 500 missing coins made from gold found in an historic shipwreck. → Read more at timesleaderonline.com
Berlin police raided homes and jewelry shops Wednesday on suspicion they could be connected to efforts to fence a massive 100-kilogram Canadian gold coin — piece by piece — that was stolen from a museum in the German capital. → Read more at ctvnews.ca
This past weekend, the Newman Numismatic Portal (NNP) sponsored the NNP Symposium. For three days, NNP used Zoom to facilitate 38 sessions about different aspects of numismatics. The topics covered everything from U.S. and foreign numismatics to discussions about the industry. The Numismatic Bibliomania Society held its Annual Meeting via Zoom, and Matt Dinger & Mike Nottelmann did a live version of The Coin Show. After listening to them for a while, I now see what they look like — I do not know if that is a good or bad thing.
I was able to attend several of the sessions and deliver one of my own. Every session I attended was interesting and informative. The only complaint I had was that I could not attend every session. However, the NNP recorded each session and will be making them available online.
If you wanted to attend the symposium, you had to register to receive the Zoom credentials. There was no cost to register and no restrictions on the device you used. I attended the session before mine, presented by Doug Mudd, using my iPad. Since he went a little long, I was able to log into my session on my computer while watching the end of Doug’s on my iPad.
The entire numismatic community must commend the NNP and Lianna Spurrier, who coordinated the online event. Spurrier did the call for speakers, training sessions with the speakers, and probably a lot more behind the scenes we did not see.
As a member of the Numismatic Literary Guild, if there is an award for excellence in facilitating education, please allow me to nominate Spurrier for the award.
The NNP Symposium came due to an unusual set of circumstances that has seen the ANA’s Summer Seminar and every major coin show canceled. The NNP hit a homerun with its effort. The symposium was such a success that I hope the NNP makes this an annual event.
Hoard of 9th Century Gold Dinars found during an excavation in Israel (Credit: Robert Kool/Israel Antiquities Authority via CNN)
There were two items this week of a particular note. First, two Israeli teenagers found a hoard of gold coins that experts say date back to the 9th century.
The jar of coins found consists of 425 24-karat gold coins weighing 845 grams (1.86 pounds). Most of the coins are cut to that were once used as change.
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) says that the area was under the rule of the Abbasid Caliphate. Their rule spread from modern-day Algeria in the east to Afghanistan in the west from 750–953 when Shia opponents overthrow the caliphate. There were many successors to the Abbasid Caliphate. They joined together in 1157 to create a cooperative empire that was eventually overthrown by 1258 by Mongol forces.
Finding a hoard of gold coins and the surrounding artifacts will help archeologists learn more about the region’s commerce. Once again, numismatics helps scientists better understand our history.
The following video from the IAA talks about the project and finding the coins.
The other news is the conclusion of what was a successful Newman Numismatic Portal Symposium 2020. The symposium, held online using Zoom, had several interesting speakers and presentations. Although NNP has yet to publish its final statistics, the sessions I attended were well done and seemed to be well attended.
My session, “How to Identify a Potential Scammer BEFORE Buying Coins Online,” was attended by more than 60 people and generated about a dozen questions. It was a great experience.
I will have more to say about the NNP Symposium in the next few days.
Are you looking for ways to tell if your silver is authentic?—the “real McCoy”? There are several ways you can determine whether your silver is real. In fact, some of the best silver test methods are quite easy and can be done right at home. → Read more at gainesvillecoins.com
On October 15, 1794, Henry Voigt, the Chief Coiner of the United States, hurried nearly 2,000 silver coins to the desk of David Rittenhouse, the Director of the United States Mint. That day marked a milestone in the making of a country: Two years after Alexander Hamilton established the Mint under President George Washington, the first dollars had been minted. → Read more at atlasobscura.com
Somebody stole a very pricey potty last year from the restroom of a palace in England. But the police still don’t know who did it and have been trying to find out ever since. “The toilet is still missing,” a Thames Valley Police spokesman confirmed to USA TODAY Aug. → Read more at usatoday.com
On August 28-30, 2020, the Newman Numismatic Portal is hosting the virtual NNP Symposium 2020. The symposium will be presentations by numismatists from around the world delivered online and for free.
Think of it as a weekend of Money Talks seminars delivered online so that you can participate anywhere. All you need is an Internet connection and Zoom. To attend a session, download the appropriate Zoom client for your computer or mobile device, register online, receive the access information (which is why you have to register), and attend.
Registration is for the entire conference, not an individual session. You can attend any session at any time without registering again.
Each session is one hour. The presenter will deliver their talk in 30-45 minutes, leaving time for questions.
If you miss a session or cannot attend, the people at NNP will record the sessions and make them available online. The only difference is that you will not be able to ask a question in real-time.
Finally, suppose you want to know what I look at to determine whether a website is potentially going to sell you counterfeit coins. You can attend “How to Identify a Potential Scammer BEFORE Buying Coins Online.” Check your registration listing for the time and access information.
(Kitco News) – With gold prices finding strong resistance around $2,000 an ounce the market has become a two-way street and the price action could be fairly volatile as short-term sentiment continues to drop, according to the latest results of the Kitco News Weekly Gold Survey. → Read more at kitco.com