LOOK BACK: Defence of Fort McHenry

On this day 204 years ago, Francis Scott Key was awakened aboard the HMS Tonnant in Baltimore Harbor to see the tattered, but still present flag flying over Fort McHenry. Today’s LOOK BACK talks about the history of that day and, rather than talking about the legislation, add a little information about the Star Spangled Banner commemorative coin.

Fort McHenry (via Wikipedia)

The War of 1812 had been running for two years when the fighting escalated in Baltimore Harbor around Fort McHenry. American Prisoner Exchange Agent Colonel John Stuart Skinner sent by the War Department to negotiate the release of Dr. William Beanes. Dr. Beanes was allegedly mistakenly arrested with a group of rowdies as he walked to his home.

On Skinner’s way to meet Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane, Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn, and Major General Robert Ross on the HMS Tonnant, he stopped at the home of noted lawyer Francis Scott Key and asked for his assistance.

Col. Skinner and Key were welcomed by the British command on September 13, 1814 and was invited to stay for dinner. After secure the release of Dr. Beanes but were not allowed to return to Baltimore. The British felt that Col. Skinner and Key had learned too much about the British forces. Col. Skinner, Key, and Dr. Beanes were provided guest accommodations on the HMS Tonnant.

The Battle of Baltimore began after dinner and raged overnight through the next morning. On September 14, 1814, when the smoke cleared, Key saw the Stars and Stripes still flying over Fort McHenry. Following the battle. Col. Skinner, Key, and Dr. Beanes were allowed to return to Baltimore on their own boat. During the trip, Key wrote a poem entitled “The Defence of Fort McHenry”

On September 20, 1814, Key had the poem published in the newspaper Patriot. After publication, Key set the poem to the tune of John Stafford Smith’s “The Anacreontic Song,” a popular drinking song written for London’s Anacreontic Society. The combination was renamed “The Star Spangled Banner.”

“The Star Spangled Banner” was first recognized by the Navy in 1889. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed an executive order to recognize “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem. Finally, President Herbert Hoover singed a congressional bill officially making the song the United State’s National Anthem (36 U.S.C. §301).

In 2012, the U.S. Mint issued two coins as part of the Star-Spangled Banner Commemorative Coin Program (authorized by Public Law 111-232). The $5 gold coin “depicts a naval battle scene from the War of 1812, with an American sailing ship in the foreground and a damaged and fleeing British ship in the background” on the obverse and “the first words of the Star-Spangled Banner anthem, O say can you see, in Francis Scott Key’s handwriting against a backdrop of 15 stars and 15 stripes, representing the Star-Spangled Banner flag.”

The obverse of the silver $1 coin “depicts Lady Liberty waving the 15-star, 15-stripe Star-Spangled Banner flag with Fort McHenry in the background.” The reverse shows the waving of a modern American Flag.

The official launch of the 2012 Star-Spangled Banner Commemorative Coin Program was launched at Fort McHenry in Baltimore. You can read about that launch here.

You can read the original article here.
All coin images are courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

Call for Artist

On Monday, the U.S. Mint announced that on September 3, they will begin accepting applications for the Artistic Infusion Program. Judging by the last round of artwork submitted to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee to review for the new American Innovation $1 Coin, they need the help.

For those who did not read the stories, the U.S. Mint submitted a design for the obverse that is supposed to be “a likeness of the Statue of Liberty extending to the rim of the coin and large enough to provide a dramatic representation of Liberty,” similar to the reverse of the Presidential $1 coins. According to reports, the U.S. Mint claimed that they could not work on a better design because of time constraints.

Time constraints are a legitimate issue. The bill was signed into law on July 20, 2018, leaving the U.S. Mint less than six months until the program begins in 2019. However, that does not mean that the program has to begin on January 2. In fact, the law does not specify at what point during the year that the coins are to be produced.

They also could have anticipated their responsibility. Once the bill was passed by the Senate on June 20, it was only a matter of time that the difference between the House and Senate versions were resolved before being signed by the president. It was not a surprise. They had two months to come up with something prior to the CCAC meeting.

Although U.S. Mint Director David Ryder has not been on the job long, he has to take responsibility for not providing the leadership necessary to impress on the artists and whoever directed them not to try to take the easy way out. If they have not learned by now, most of the CCAC members take their jobs much more seriously than previous committees (this is a good thing) and are very outspoken in a very constructive manner.

One person that should respond to this call for artists is current CCAC member Heidi Wastweet. An accomplished medalist and sculptor, her term with the CCAC is about to expire. She is well qualified since her work is phenomenal! You can see for yourself on her website. Imagine what an artist with her talent and knowing what the CCAC is looking for can add to the U.S. Mint.

Having never met Ms. Wastweet, I am not in a position to try to talk her into applying. However, if you are acquainted with her, please let her know that not only would it be of great service to the U.S. Mint but that she has at least one endorsement—for whatever that is worth!

There are so many great medals on Heidi Wastweet’s site it is difficult to select one to highlight. But I always seem to focus on this one called a Zombuck.

LOOK BACK: Paper v. Coin Dollars

Following the introduction of the Presidential $1 Coin program and the discussion about replacing the Federal Reserve Note with a coin, I wrote an article explaining how the situation will not change. Not much has changed in 10 years!

Whenever a proposal or law that creates a new dollar coin, there is always a discussion as to how to make the program more successful. In the past, the Gallup organization has polled the public on a few occasions asking about the potential acceptance of dollar coins.

Regardless of the questions asked, the only way to increase the circulation of the dollar coin is to stop printing the one-dollar Federal Reserve Note and begin to withhold it from circulation. It is a move that will force the people to use the coin as the population of the paper currency is reduced.

There are many emotional arguments on both sides of the issue. Whether one is for or against the printing of the one-dollar note, the US is one of the extreme few first-world countries issue its unit currency on paper. Looking beyond the emotional arguments, each side has dominant arguments to support their positions.

Those who want to eliminate the one-dollar note use at the cost of is production and the savings to the government as the dominant reasons. According to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, 95-percent of all Federal Reserve Note printed for circulation are used to replace damaged and worn notes that are being taken out of circulation. Using BEP’s 2017 production report, 2,425,600,000 one-dollar notes were printed. With 95-percent being replacement notes, 2,304,320,000 notes were printed just to maintain circulation levels. With it costing 4.385-cents to produce one note of any denomination, the cost to just replace notes removed from circulation was $100,422,265.60 in 2017.

Rather than printing paper dollars, if the US Mint strikes coins the cost to replace those 2.4 billion notes would cost 21-cents per coin (according to the U.S. Mint’s 2014 Annual Report, the last documenting seigniorage for the dollar coin). The total production cost would be $483,907,200.

But do not let the 381-percent increase in cost fool you. For the real picture, the costs have to be predicted over time. According to the BEP and the Federal Reserve, the lifespan of a one-dollar Federal Reserve Note is 5.8 years. When the U.S. Mint makes plans for circulating coinage, they accept that the lifespan of a coin is 30-years. To help with the calculation, it will be assumed that the price of manufacturing coins and currency s will stay constant. In order to keep the $2.4 billion of one dollar notes in circulation for 30 years, it will cost the BEP $522.6 million dollars.

By comparison, since the U.S. Mint will be striking new coins for circulation and (theoretically) not replacement coins (not including the coins already in storage), the U.S. government would save about $117 million over 30 years. The following table illustrates these costs:

Denomination Production Total Number of Replacement Notes Cost of Production for Replacements Cost of Replacements over 30 years
Paper Dollar (2008) 4,147,200,000 3,939,840,000 $177,292,800 $1,772,928,000
Paper Dollar (2018) 2,425,600,000 2,304,320,000 $101,044,432 $522,643,614
Coin Dollar (2008) N/A 3,939,840,000 $626,434,560 $626,434,560
Coin Dollar (2018) N/A 2,425,600,000 $509,376,000 $509,376,000

While this might be a compelling argument to stop printing one dollar notes, such a move has political ramifications for some powerful members of Congress. With over 1500 people working in the Eastern Currency Facility in downtown Washington, DC, they are represented by several leaders of both parties. When it comes to jobs in their districts, members of Congress will not allow anything that will reduce the production capacity of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and where constituents could lose jobs.

Before Congress changes the law to stop the printing of the one-dollar note (31 U.S.C. §5115(a)(2)), the BEP will have to supplement production in order to protect jobs. The way this could be done would be to print foreign currency. However, it seems that the BEP is having problems selling their services to foreign governments.

Although the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has experimented with polymer notes and other printing substrates, the Federal Reserve has said that it does not consider these alternatives viable for United States currency. However, the Federal Reserve and Bureau of Engraving and Printing has been testing rag-based paper from companies that can produce new anti-counterfeiting features.

If there was a change to the supplier of currency paper, that would raise concern by the Massachusetts congressional delegation whose constituents include Crane Currency, the subsidiary of Crane & Company. Crane has been the exclusive supplier of currency paper to BEP since 1879. Although BEP has tried to open the competition for purchasing currency paper (see GAO Report GAO-05-368 [PDF]), the cost of entry into the market has prevented other manufacturers from competing for the business. If BEP would stop printing over 2 million one dollar notes without replacing it with similar paper production, the Massachusetts-based company could lose significant business.

Regardless of the measures taken by the US Mint to increase the circulation of the one-dollar coin, public perception is that the one-dollar paper note is easier to use than the coin. Unless key congressional leaders agree that ending the printing of the one-dollar note is in the best interests of everyone, including their political careers, the political reality is that printing of the one-dollar note is here to stay until a significant event causes a change in policy.

The original post can be read here.

A LOOK BACK: When is a Variation Not a Variety

This week’s LOOK BACK is my take at the stir made over the positioning of the edge letters on the newly struck George Washington Dollar coins in 2007.

If you search the online auction sites, you will find less than honest sellers trying to sell variations in the positioning of edge lettering of the new George Washington Dollars errors or varieties. Letters that are pointed up, or the top of the letters towards the obverse, are considered “normal” by these sellers. Letters that are pointed downward, or the top of the letters closer to the reverse of the coin, have been called errors or varieties. They are neither.

Exasperating the issue is that one third-party grading service added a designation to their labels with the orientation of the edge lettering.

Images are courtesy of Ken Potter.

An accepted definition of a variety “is any variation in the normal design of a given coin, usually caused by errors in the preparation or maintenance of the coin dies.” They are also errors caused in the striking process. But these definitions do not account for the differences in the orientation. The problem is that after the planchets are struck into coins by the high-speed coining machines, they are mechanically collected and fed into a machine that will press the lettering into the edge of the coins.

The machine that adds the edge lettering uses a three-part collar to impress the incuse lettering does this without regard to position. not only could the edge lettering face any direction, but the lettering can appear at any position along the edge. The U.S. Mint confirms this by saying that because of “the minting process used on the circulating coins, the edge-incused inscription positions will vary with each coin.

Since the Mint is saying that the process can vary, these variations are normal for the design. Since these are normal variations, they are not numismatic varieties or errors. Thus, the coins with variations of orientation edge lettering are not worth the premiums being sought online. They are worth their face value of $1.

There have been errors found with the edge lettering. The most infamous has been called the “Godless Dollars” for coins missing their edge lettering and the motto “In God We Trust.” Most of these coins were minted in Philadelphia and discovered in Florida. Others have found doubling of edge letters and what looks like breaks in the three-part collars where letters have moved out of place. These are legitimate errors and worth a premium above face value. Orientation variations of the edge lettering are not errors.

If you want to consider these varieties, please save your money and visit your local bank. You can purchase these coins for face value without shipping and handling fees. If you purchase a 25-coin roll, you can spend the coins you do not want since they are legal tender.

The original article can be read here.

Missing an opportunity with changing coin design programs

Since the introduction of the 50 State Quarters Program, there have been several changing design series on circulating coinage. All of the programs have been created to honor and celebrate the nation’s history in some way. It started in 1999 with the issuance of the quarter honoring Delaware, the first state to ratify the Constitution granting it the designation of being the first state to enter the Union.

Since 1999, there has been the following coin series issued by the U.S. Mint:

  • 2009 Lincoln Bicentennial One Cent Program
  • Westward Journey Nickel Series™
  • 50 State Quarters Program
  • 2009 District of Columbia and U.S. Territories Quarters Program
  • America the Beautiful Quarters® Program
  • Native American $1 Coin
  • Presidential $1 Coins

Although none of these series produced rare coins with the exception of errors and varieties, such as the 2004 Wisconsin extra leaf quarter and the 2005 Minnesota quarter with an extra tree, the only excitement was the novelty generated in 1999 with the new series.

Soon, the American Innovation $1 Coin will join this list. When the American Innovation $1 Coin Act (H.R. 770) finishes its procedural trek through Congress, it will be sent to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue for the President’s signature. There is no indication that the President will veto this bill.

The 14-year program will honor “American innovation and significant innovation and pioneering efforts of individuals or groups from each of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories.” Four one-dollar coins will be issued each year and issued alongside the Native American Dollar.

Although there is a bias in the numismatic industry against modern coinage, there is a fun aspect of the changing coin designs. Aside from breaking up the monotony, there is an educational aspect that people should take advantage of, even if you have college degrees.

2015-W Native American Dollar Enhanced Uncirculated Reverse celebrating the Mohawk Iron Workers

For example, why did the 2015 Native American $1 Coin feature the Mohawk Ironworkers? In short, the Mohawks were literally the backbones for which heavy ironwork relied upon in both Canada and the United States. Amongst their accomplishments are some of the famous landmarks of New York City including the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and work above the 80th floor on the World Trade Center twin towers.

Mohawk ironworkers were there following the attacks of September 11, 2001, to help clean up and rebuild the World Trade Center site. This is something I would not have known had they not appeared on the coin and asking why.

Regardless of the historical significance of these coins and the underappreciated beauty of the designs, the numismatic industry has not taken the opportunity to promote coin collecting using these changing programs. There is only one reason for the lack of interest from the community: ECONOMICS!

The American Numismatic Association is largely run by dealers who make their living by buying and selling rare coins and bullion. The trade in modern coinage, many items that anyone could find in pocket change, does not have a high rate of return. Therefore, most dealers are not interested.

Although dealers do have the right to earn a living the way they see fit, as part of the overall hobby, they tend to steer away from the modern coins and even downplay their significance to the hobby. This tends to perpetuate a myth that you cannot be a legitimate collector if you collect modern coins.

This attitude is a wasted opportunity for the industry. Aside from being an opportunity to promote the hobby but give people an outlet to learn something more than what they see on the cable news channels.

One of the problems with this program can also make it a positive is what will each of the states choose to represent innovation in their state or territory? Promoting numismatics as “history in your hand” can also be a lesson in history to help each state decide what to chose to best represent them on a coin. This is the best opportunity to use numismatics to promote the hobby and history by providing a conduit for discussion in each state.

What would constitute a state’s great innovation or innovator? Will New Jersey choose Thomas Edison? Will Alexander Graham Bell be Massachusetts’ choice? And what about Pennsylvania? There could be an interesting discussion about honoring Benjamin Franklin, George Westinghouse, or even Andrew Carnegie especially since neither of these men were born in the United States.

There will be a lot of innovation to chose from because there has been a lot of innovation during the country’s 242 years of existence. If you missed the announcement by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), they issued the 10 millionth patent on Tuesday, June 19, 2018. And that does not count the patents issued before 1836 when the numbering system was reset by the Patent Act of 1836.

However, the most significant problem with the Innovation $1 Coin is that it is a one-dollar coin. As long as Congress continues to not listen to reason and stops issuing the paper dollar, it does not matter what they do with the coin, it is not going to generate enough interest because the coin will not circulate.

Regardless of how many Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports are issued (GAO-13-164T) or the number of experts that endorse the elimination of the paper dollar for the coin, Congress refuses to address the issue. They point to surveys that show that most of the people older than 50 are against removing the paper dollar. Since this population constitutes the majority of the voters and, more significantly, campaign donors, the politicians are not about to make those people upset.

In many cases, the Innovation $1 Coin will be a repeat of history. Its potential popularity will fail as Congress hopes to socially engineer excitement in the way they tried to do for the Presidential dollar coins. That was deemed a failure that forced then-Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to order the U.S. Mint to reduce the production of these coins. This was after certain members of Congress showed its collective stupidy by introducing a bill to prematurely end the program.

There is so much potential for the Innovation $1 Coin to be a great program and to generate publicity for the hobby. But as long as the coin does not circulate and Congress refuses to deal with the situation appropriately, it will be a coin that only existing collectors will take interest in and become a lost opportunity for everyone.

June 2018 Numismatic Legislation Review

Sometimes watching specific legislation to make its way through Congress is like watching paint dry. We know the paint will eventually dry but it takes a lot longer than we have time to wait. With the exception of bills that are proposing useful things like eliminating the paper dollar for a coin, there is no point to check daily.

But that is what I do. I wrote a program to download the bill information produced by the Government Printing Office on behalf of the Congress and store it in a database so that it can be reported here. This process does not become interesting until something happens.

The last two weeks in June looks like it was the equivalent of a wild ride. First, the American Innovation $1 Coin Act (H.R. 770) appeared on the agenda in the House of Representatives where the only “debate” was Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT), the bill’s sponsor, and the day’s floor manager, Rep. Sean Duffy (R-OH) speaking in favor of passage. Then it followed the regular course of passage by the House, passage by the Senate with a change, followed by the House agreeing with the amendment. Next month it should be signed into law by the President.

Paul Laurence Dunbar, circa 1890

In the middle of this two new commemorative coin bills were introduced. First, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) introduced a bill for a commemorative coin program in recognition of Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) was an American poet, novelist, and playwright. Dunbar was very popular in his day whose work was known for its colorful language and conversational tone that made his work seem lyrical. Dunbar, who was born in Dayton, Ohio as a child of former slaves, was famous for writing in the “Negro dialect” that was associated with the antebellum south.

Dunbar had briefly worked at the Library of Congress before resigning to concentrate on his writing. His home in the LeDroit Park neighborhood of Washington, DC still stands today. In 1904 he returned to Dayton to be with his ailing mother but ended up contracting tuberculosis and dying in 1906.

Carson City Mint (1866)

The day after Holmes Norton introduced her bill, Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) introduced a bill for a commemorative coin program to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Carson City Mint.

The Carson City Mint opened in 1870 primarily in response to the Comstock Lode. It started as an Assay Office in 1963 but did not gain Mint status until 1870. It was in operation from 1870-1885 and 1889-1893. It is the only branch of the U.S. Mint to have used a two-letter mint mark.

Today, the building is a branch of the Nevada State Museum.

Since the text of both bills has not been published, details of the programs are unknows except it is safe to assume that the Carson City 150th Anniversary commemorative coin program will occur in 2020.

H.R. 770: American Innovation $1 Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. James A. Himes (D-CT)
Introduced: January 31, 2017
Summary: (Sec. 2) This bill directs the Department of the Treasury, over a 14-year period beginning in 2019, to mint and issue “American Innovation” $1 coins commemorating innovation and innovators from each state, each U.S. territory, and the District of Columbia. Treasury shall issue four coins per year, in alphabetical order by jurisdiction, until a coin has been issued for each jurisdiction. Treasury may mint and issue a $1 coin in 2018 to introduce the series. Neither the bust of any person nor the portrait of any living person may be included in the design of the coins.The bill instructs Interior to continue to mint and issue $1 coins honoring Native Americans and their contributions.
Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection. — Jun 27, 2018
On motion that the House agree to the Senate amendment Agreed to without objection. (text as House agreed to Senate amendment: CR H5786-5787) — Jun 27, 2018
Mr. Hensarling asked unanimous consent to take from the Speaker’s table and agree to the Senate amendment. — Jun 27, 2018
Message on Senate action sent to the House. — Jun 21, 2018
Passed Senate with an amendment by Voice Vote. — Jun 20, 2018
Measure laid before Senate by unanimous consent. — Jun 20, 2018
Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs discharged by Unanimous Consent. — Jun 20, 2018
Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Jan 17, 2018
Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection. — Jan 16, 2018
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote. — Jan 16, 2018
DEBATE – The House proceeded with forty minutes of debate on H.R. 770. — Jan 16, 2018
Considered under suspension of the rules. — Jan 16, 2018
Mr. Duffy moved to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended. — Jan 16, 2018
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Jan 31, 2017
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR770.

H.R. 6214: To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint commemorative coins in recognition of Paul Laurence Dunbar.
Sponsor: Rep. Eleanor H. Norton (D-DC)
Introduced: June 25, 2018
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Jun 25, 2018
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR6214.

H.R. 6221: To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the Carson City Mint 150th anniversary, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Mark E. Amodei (R-NV)
Introduced: June 26, 2018
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Jun 26, 2018
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/115-HR6221.
All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

New Dollars are coming

Presidential $1 Coin Common Reverse

Yesterday, the House of Representatives agreed and passed the Senate’s amendment to American Innovation $1 Coin Act (H.R. 770) that changes the order of issue to be the same as that was used with the 50 State Quarters.

The next step is that the bill is engrossed, which means that it will be printed in its final form and signed by the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (R-WI), and the President Pro Tempore of the senate, Orrin Hatch (R-UT), certifying that the printed bill has been approved by both chambers of commerce.

Once signed, the bill is sent to the White House for the President’s signature.

If this bill was not on your radar, it requires the coins use the same Manganese-Brass composition as all dollar coins struck since 2000 with the edge lettering consisting of the year, mintmark, and the national motto E PLURIBUS UNUM. The obverse will be “a likeness of the Statue of Liberty extending to the rim of the coin and large enough to provide a dramatic representation of Liberty.” The reverse will be emblematic of an innovation, innovator, or a group of innovators significant to that state or territory.

If the president signs this bill, and there is no reason why he would veto this biil, then the program will begin in 2019.

21 Down, 4 To Go

One of the ten 1933 Saint-Gaudens $20 Double Eagle gold coins from the Longbord Hoard confiscated by the U.S. Mint

A week ago when I wrote about the Coin World report that the U.S. Mint knows about more 1933 Saint Gaudens Double Eagle gold coins private hands. I had questioned their reasons why. Coin World followed up with the U.S. Mint and received an answer: because the one known that was in domestic hands is now stored with the 10 Langbord coins at the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox.

Coin World reported that the previous owner, who wishes to stay anonymous, turned in the coin because he did not want to be caught with the coin that federal courts ruled was stolen government property. Department of the Treasury and U.S. Mint officials have been instructed by the Department of Justice not to go into any further details about the case.

Since it has been assumed that 25 of these coins were taken from the Philadelphia Mint, that leaves four left at large.

According to Coin World, “The Secret Service still has on its books a directive to seize any extant 1933 double eagles as stolen government property.” However, other coins, patterns, and fantasy pieces including the five 1913 Liberty Head Nickels and the 1974 Lincoln Cent trial strike made from aluminum are still in private hands.

As long as this bogus double standard remains the policy of the federal government, we will likely never know whether the rumored 1964 Peace Dollars are real.

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.

The U.S. Mint is not doing its job going after more 1933 Double Eagles

The ten 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles confiscated by the government from Joan Lanbord, daughter of Israel Switt.

Coin World reported that the U.S. Mint knows about more 1933 Saint Gaudens Double Eagle gold coins in private hands.

For those who have not read Illegal Tender by David Tripp or Double Eagle by Allison Frankel, aside from both being worth reading, they claim that 25 of these coins were illegally removed from the Philadelphia Mint. Of those 25 coins, nine were confiscated during the 1940s and 1950s by the Secret Service, ten are from the Langbord Hoard stored at the Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, and one is the Farouk-Fenton example which is the subject of the books.

That leaves five left.

During the Pennsylvania Association of Numismatics (PAN) spring show, U.S. Mint Senior Legal Counsel Greg Weinman said that he knows where one is located in the United States, one is in Europe, and a third is somewhere else. The location of the last two is not known.

It can be speculated that the “somewhere else” may be in Egypt. On February 8, 2008, the Moscow News Weekly reported that a version of the coin was found in Egypt in an old box that was owned by the discoverer’s father (web archive link). Although there had been a lot of speculation that coin might not be genuine, there has been no further reports as to the disposition of this coin.

Weinman said that there are no plans to go after the three coins where the U.S. Mint knows their location.

Why?

Following the trial in 2011 with a jury verdict against the Langbords. After the ruling, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Romero, the government’s lead attorney in the case, came out with a courthouse statement, “People of the United States of America have been vindicated.”

If the country is to be vindicated and the government has consistency in its argument that the coins are “chattel,” according to Weinman, then it is their legal obligation to have the U.S. Secret Service pursue the three known examples.

Otherwise, it could be said that the government has undergone selective prosecution and has given up its right to the ten in its possession or the five that are still in public hands.

It is these inconsistencies of policies with regard to these coins that could drive collectors away. While most people may never find or own one of these rare coins, what happens to those who might get lucky.

While the 1913 Liberty Head Nickels were not considered chattel because they were never struck for circulation, the government fought the finding of the 1974-D Aluminum cent forcing its return. The circumstances for the striking of both coins are similar but the government has treated each issue differently.

This is not a matter of integrity of the hobby. It is the integrity of the U.S. Mint and their bogus argument of what is or is not something they produced for whatever the reason. The integrity of the U.S. Mint can be questioned when they applied 21st century operating standards to the U.S. Mint of the 1930s in order to convince a “jury of peers,” none of which probably had a numismatic background questioning their ability to be peers, that these coins belonged to the government for it to hold like some almighty savior of us from the depths of fraudulence.

Do you still feel vindicated?

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