A LOOK BACK: Of Persians and Hoboes

This week’s LOOK BACK is from June 15, 2006. After a club meeting, I was inspired by two of the presentations.

Local coin clubs are a place you can regularly go to talk about coins and numismatics with like-minded collectors. If you have not attended a meeting you should find time to go. You might find that there is a learning experience that can inspire you in your collecting endeavors. One of the reasons I try to ensure I make it to the monthly meeting of my local coin club is because I seem to leave every meeting with an appreciation for something different about the hobby.

1353 (1974) Iran 20 Rials (KM #1181)
Image courtesy of Numismatic Guarantee Corporation

Our club encourages members to bring in their monthly finds. A numismatic show-and-tell. This week, Jerry Grzenda, a collector of many different types of coins and a serial exhibitor, showed his collection representing the last century of Iran. Jerry’s presentation included a history of Iran as seen through its coinage. It was a great learning experience and the coins were beautiful. There is something about the style of the Persian language that is intriguing and adds to the aesthetic of the coins.

Another highlight of the meeting was the presentation by Ron Brais about Hobo Nickels. While I have heard about Hobo Nickels, all I knew about them was what I learned in passing. In listening to Ron talk, I learned that the original Hobo Nickels were created between 1913 and 1935 using only Buffalo Nickels because the design had large figures on both sides that could be used as the basis of the design. The copper-nickel coins are also softer than others allowing them to be more easily carved. These elements allowed the carver to make just about any design and usually did. Designs were as varied as the artists who carved them. Hoboes would use the carved nickels to trade for food, shelter, or other favors during their travels.

The most famous Hobo Nickel artist was George Washington “Bo” Hughes. Bo ran away from home at a young age and was befriended by a hobo identified as Bert. After a train yard scuffle, Bert took Bo under his wings, protected him from the tramps and bums and taught Bo how to carve realistic images into the Buffalo nickel. For many years, Bo would ride the rails and carve nickels living the life of the hobo as he looked for work to survive. Bo’s work on Hobo Nickels allowed him to eventually get a job as a craftsman. It lasted until 1957 when he cut his left hand while carving a nickel. At that time Hobo Nickels were no longer popular and Bo just faded away. He died in 1982.

The life and history of George Washington “Bo” Hughes has been immortalized in the book Hobo Nickels by Delma K. Romines (out of print).

A self-portrait carved by Bo Hughes. Click on the image to read more about Hughes
Image courtesy of the Original Hobo Nickel Society

Today, the Original Hobo Nickel Society has a number of artist members that are carving images into Buffalo and Jefferson nickels to keep the art alive. Some of the designs are ingenious and beautiful while others are copies of carving on older coins. Modern nickels are made using modern tools that allow the carving to look much cleaner than their older examples. The old methods and tools were not able to make clean lines but it gave them a character that cannot be matched. To see the work of modern Hobo Nickel artists, follow @Hobo_Nickel_Soc on Twitter and try to resist not buying them!

The example of a Bo Hughes carved nickel displayed as part of the presentation beautiful in its design and execution. The care and craftsmanship that went into carving that coin was evident. Hobo Nickels can sell from $200-$1500 depending on condition and the artist. Coins by Bo Hughes are worth more than others.

The original article can be read at https://wp.me/p754fH-U

Weekly World Numismatic Newsletter for July 15, 2018

Image of some of the casts donated to the ANA Money Museum by Genna Goodacre
(Image courtesy of the Colorado Springs Independent)

With a lot of the international news focused on the finding of ancient coins buried in old ruins, the story that caught my eye came out of Colorado Springs.

Glenna Goodacre, the designer of the Sacagawea Dollar and a graduate of Colorado College in Colorado Springs, donated several items relating to the design of the dollar coin to the American Numismatic Association Money Museum.

Donations include several plaster and bronze casts of the coin that were used to test the design and show the relief of the coin. There is also a plaster cast with an alternate version without her baby, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, on her back.

News of the donation was published on Friday, July 13, 2018. According to the article, ANA communications coordinator Amanda Miller said that there were no immediate plans to display these items.

Following a significant donation, the ANA will issue a press release. When they do, it would be nice to read that some of these items would be on display at the World’s Fair of Money next month in Philadelphia.

And now the news…

 July 9, 2018

An uninhabited island off the coast of Arnhem Land may be the discovery place of a medieval African coin, which, if confirmed, would be among the oldest foreign artefacts ever found in Australia. → Read more at abc.net.au


 July 12, 2018

The Money Museum, the local, official museum of the American Numismatic Association, recently announced an exciting new donation to its collection. Sculptor and Colorado College graduate Glenna Goodacre has given the museum a selection of items related to the Sacagawea dollar, for which she designed the obverse (the face side). → Read more at csindy.com


 July 13, 2018

The tenacity of amateur archaeologists and historians searching on a remote island off the coast of the Northern Territories in Australia seems to have finally paid off. The team has found a small coin that apparently comes from a medieval African city. → Read more at ancient-origins.net


 July 13, 2018

The banknotes highlight Nelson Mandela’s historical journey, from the rolling hills of the Eastern Cape to the Union Buildings. More than 400 million banknotes and coins bearing the face of South Africa’s first president in the era of democracy, the late Nelson Mandela, are being released to commemorate his centenary. → Read more at citizen.co.za


 July 15, 2018

A Virginia Beach coin dealer recently spent $2.64 million on a rare coin from 1834. He and his business partner are collecting coins from 1792 to present day. → Read more at pilotonline.com


 July 15, 2018

The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) has named GraceKennedy Payment Services Ltd (GKPS) as an official coin collection agent in the national coin redemption drive.According to the BOJ, following efforts to identify agents to widen its coin redemption drive, it… → Read more at jamaica-gleaner.com

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A LOOK BACK: Evolution of the $20 Bill

Summertime is a busy season for everyone. There is a lot going on. For me, I just opened my new business and have been busy trying to make sure it begins smoothly. So that I have more time to work on the business, once per week I will be looking back at articles I wrote in the past that are still relevant today. I will edit the article but point to the original.

Our first look back returns to April 2006 where I was able to examine the design changes of the $20 Federal Reserve Note following a visit to the ATM.

Money has always been a fascination because the design can reveal something about history. It interesting to look at a series of the same denomination and see the evolution as the times change. I had the chance see the evolution first hand when my bank’s ATM gave me three generations of $20 Federal Reserve Notes (FRN). Although I am not a banknote collector, I find their images and devices interesting.

First, I found is the Series 1990 note with the signature of Treasury Secretary Nicholas F. Brady and Catalina Vasquez Villalpando, the Treasurer of the United States. Both Brady and Villalpando were appointed by President George H. W. Bush and served until the end of his term. Brady also served for six months under President Ronald W. Reagan.

The second is a Series 2001 note with the signatures of Treasury Secretary Paul M. O’Neill and Treasurer Rosario Marin. They were appointed by President George W. Bush during his first term. The third note is from Series 2004 with Marin’s signature along with Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, who succeeded O’Neill.

The $20 FRN was first designed for the Series 1929 small notes as an evolution of earlier designs for large currency. There is a lot of ornate and fine engraving with a green hue. The fine engraving has been a staple of bank notes since their inception as a means to prevent counterfeiting. The “greenback” was used to prevent copying using new photographic technologies which had a difficult time reproducing the green color. Although modern technology does not have the same reproduction issues, the green color remains out of tradition.

The newer notes do not feature a lot of fine engraving. The portrait of President Andrew Jackson appears on all of the notes but was enlarged on the newer notes with the border around the portrait removed on the Series 2004 notes. Another difference is the addition of color with a darker green hue and peach on the front.

The reverse on all of the notes features the White House. The Series 1990 note uses an image taken from the south lawn near the ellipse while the newer notes use an image from the north lawn that could be seen from Pennsylvania Avenue. The engraving of the White House is smaller on the new notes and the borders removed to allow the watermark and security thread to be easily seen.

I like the front of the latest note, but I don’t like the color. I also miss the indication of the Federal Reserve Bank for which the notes were printed. Although the designation of the issuing Federal Reserve Bank is not relevant anymore, it adds to the collecting pursuit for some people.

I like the south lawn portrait better than the one from the north lawn. I am disappointed with the starkness of the reverse. I am not sure that BEP can change this given the nature of the security features.

Finally, the attempt to colorize the notes is not working. It looks cheesy. If BEP colorizes the note, it should be more than just a gradient on the background. Many countries use color in their banknotes as part of the devices, not just to splash some color around to say “look at the color.” I think BEP can do better.

The original article can be read at https://wp.me/p754fH-I

Weekly World Numismatic News for July 8, 2018

2017 Philippines 1-Piso ASEAN Commemorative Coin.
(Image courtesy of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas)

This past week the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP; the Philippines Central Bank) announced that commemorative coins are legal tender and can be used to purchase good or services.

The problem began as people were using coins that were meant as a commemorative and collectible issue for commerce. Since they were minted with permission of BSP and have a denomination, they are recognized as legal tender coins.

Sometime in the future, BSP will demonetize the coins as they have done with all past issues.

Unlike the United States, not every coin or currency note produced by the world mints and central banks are legal tender. However, it is a story that keeps occurring as the world mints use commemorative and bullion coins to boost sales.

Recently, there was an issue in Canada with the Royal Canadian Mint’s $20 for $20 program. Beginning in 2011, the Royal Canadian Mint began to sell silver coins with the face value of $20 for $20 tax-free. When the price of silver dropped not only did Canadians return the coins but they tried to spend them.

Aside from the falling revenues caused by the return of the coins, Canada does not require merchants to accept all legal tender coins. When some Canadians tried to spend the $20 coins, the Bank of Canada had to issue a statement to stop the practice and threaten to demonetize the coin. Demonetization would have hurt the secondary market on top of the falling price of silver.

Nearly every country in the world, except the United States, demonetizes previous issues of coins and currency. A recent example was this past year when the Bank of England demonetized the old “round pound” when the Royal Mint issued the new 12-sided pound coin.

The only United States coin to ever have its legal tender status revoked was the Trade Dollar. The Trade Dollar was minted to compete with other silver coins for trade with East Asia beginning in 1873. Although not intended for the United States trade market, it began to find use, especially in the west. To control its use, the Trade Dollar was demonetized in 1876. The coin regained its legal tender status as part of the Coinage Act of 1965, the law that introduced clad coinage and ushered in the “modern era” of United States coins.

Every coin produced by the U.S. Mint can be used as legal tender at their face value, although it would be foolish to spend an American Gold Eagle one-ounce coin for its $50 face value since its gold content would be worth more!

And now the news…

 July 3, 2018

Calling all coin collectors — you could have a coin in your stash right now worth thousands of dollars and not even know it. Don't miss out on possible cash. There are three things to look for in your half dollars, quarters, and dimes. → Read more at abc13.com


 July 3, 2018

(ANSAmed) – ROME, JULY 3 – An exceptional discovery was made at the Vulci archaeological site, where a treasure of coins from the 3rd century B.C. was found intact, according to a statement from the site's scientific department. → Read more at ansa.it


 July 4, 2018

Commemorative coins issued by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) can be used purchase goods or services as these are deemed legal tender, the central bank said on Wednesday. “Together with BSP-issued banknotes and coins, commemorative coins … may be used … unless these coins have been demoneti → Read more at manilatimes.net


 July 7, 2018

Iranian state TV says police have arrested a man who was hoarding two tonnes of gold coins in order to mani… → Read more at finance.nine.com.au


 July 7, 2018

The new series of banknotes and R5 coin designed to celebrate milestones of former president Nelson Mandela’s life will go into circulation next week Friday. → Read more at timeslive.co.za


 July 7, 2018

Police believe a rare 470-year-old coin may prove the key to the Sutton Coldfield murder → Read more at birminghammail.co.uk


 July 8, 2018

Ancient remnants including stamps and currency offer a trip down history lane → Read more at thehindu.com

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HELP NEEDED: Looking for Messages on Coins and Currency

Have you ever received coins or currency in your change with a message?

If you have, please drop me a note because I am interested in these items.

Sometimes, someone will write or stamp a message about something on currency. Messages can range from someone calculating their tip to political messages.

Messages on coins are different because they are smaller. We do not see too many messages on modern coins but I have seen a few coins with stickers and counterstamps. I am interested in those, too.

One of the most common messages on currency is “Where’s George?” Where’s George is an online database that contains the tracking information for over 280 million unique notes. It is one of those sites created for fun that is also educational. You can watch where the dollars you spend are circulated.

But other than Where’s George what other graffiti have you seen on United States currency?

Please tell me what you found. I am interested in obtaining a high-resolution scan or purchasing the item.

Just to keep my sanity, here are some simple rules:

  1. It has to be something found in current circulation and not a collectible from the past. Please do not write a message on your currency and claim you found it.
  2. Stamped messages on currency are preferable but if you find a series of notes with the same message and handwriting, please let me know.
  3. There are no restrictions on the message. It does not matter whether either of us is for or against the message, I am interested in whatever you find.
  4. As with any rule, there are exceptions: I do not want currency stamped for Where’s George and short snorters.
  5. If there is an offer to purchase, it will be for face value plus postage.
  6. If you do not want to sell the item but willing to provide a high-resolution scan (minimum 300 dpi in PNG or JPG format) I will ask you to sign a release so that I can publish the image.

The items I buy or request scans is solely at my discretion.

Using the items in my project is also solely at my discretion.

Credit will be given to all who help whether or not I use the item.

Although the vast majority of my audience is in the United States, I may consider messages on currency from other countries. If you find something, let me know.

“U.K. Average Income,” Occupy Liz, by Ivan Cash and Andy Dao, 2014. (Image courtesy of Slate)

Let’s see what we can find!

A LOOK BACK: Of Persians and Hoboes

This week’s LOOK BACK is from June 15, 2006. After a club meeting, I was inspired by two of the presentations. Local coin clubs are a place you can regularly go to talk about coins and numismatics with like-minded collectors. If you have not attended a meeting you...

read more

A LOOK BACK: Evolution of the $20 Bill

Summertime is a busy season for everyone. There is a lot going on. For me, I just opened my new business and have been busy trying to make sure it begins smoothly. So that I have more time to work on the business, once per week I will be looking back at articles I...

read more

Weekly World Numismatic News for July 8, 2018

This past week the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP; the Philippines Central Bank) announced that commemorative coins are legal tender and can be used to purchase good or services. The problem began as people were using coins that were meant as a commemorative and...

read more
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