Numismatic Showtime

Passing the time after 10:00 PM on Monday night, the television found its way to the History Channel for the return of Pawn Stars, the reality show about a pawn shop in Las Vegas. While the first show of the hour was just interesting it was the second show that started at 10:33 PM that was more intriguing.

Although the show was marked as “NEW” on the visual guide, it first aired last January. To make sure I was able to study the coins more, I found the episode on the History Channel website. It is also available on YouTube at https://youtu.be/yTKbcAKbQtU. (embedded below)

Opening the show, a seller name Walter walked in with two rare coins. The first coin was a 1792 Half Disme and the other a silver Libertas Americana. Two coins dating back to the earliest days of the country’s history.

If you recognize Walter his full name is Walter Husak. In 2008, Husak sold his extraordinary collection of large cents at an auction held during that year’s Long Beach Expo. For this show, he was selling the two coins.

The 1792 Half Disme was graded MS-65 by Numismatic Guarantee Corporation who lists the coin as a TOP POP, meaning no coin has graded higher. There are only two half dismes graded MS-65 by NGC and one appeared on Pawn Stars.

The Libertas Americana is one of the rare silver versions and was graded MS-61 by Professional Coin Grading Service

As with a lot of these purchases, Rick calls in an expert for assistance. This time, the expert is Jeff Garrett, the founder of Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries in Lexington, Kentucky and immediate past president of the American Numismatic Association.

Jeff Garrett stands next to Walter Husak as they examine the Half Disme and Libertas Americana on Pawn Stars (screen grab)

I noted that Garrett’s firm is in Lexington since the location of the television show is in Las Vegas. While doing a little online investigation into the prices and to see if there was more information, there was a note on the Collectors Universe forums suggesting that the segment was not a reality, but it had been staged.

According to user “cardinal,” he wrote:

Jeff Garrett is one of the experts that gets brought in to evaluate numismatic items for the show. For this specific episode, Jeff was looking for both a half disme and a Libertas medal, and Jeff was able to locate them and had the respective owners’ permission to have them appear on the show. The half disme is pedigreed to the Garrett Collection, and the silver Libertas medal was one that Jeff Garrett had sold some years back. (This particular Libertas medal has been in the Cardinal Collection for the past 6 years.)

I believe Ccardinal is the anonymous person behind the Cardinal Collection who has collected some of the finest coins in the PCGS registry.

Following a discussion on the actual Libertas Americana used for the show, he ends with:

During the show, the half disme was a no-sale. The Libertas medal was shown as sold at $150K on camera. That being said, the piece was not actually sold, even though Rick actually did want to buy it for $150K.

I have heard stories as to how some segments are real and some are staged. When I spoke with Charmy Harker about her appearance in 2012, I was under the impression that her attempt at selling a World War II-era aerial bomber camera was not overly staged. That does not seem to be the case in this episode.

My one complaint is that these two esteemed numismatists mispronounced the name of the coin. Everyone kept pronouncing disme as “DIZ-ME.” In reality, disme is pronounced as if the “s” was not included in the word. Disme is derived from the French term for tenth but pronounced dime—which is why the “s” was dropped after the first issues of 1792 coins.

Oh well… it was a fun segment to watch.

Weekly World Numismatic News for April 22, 2018

The royal mints in the Commonwealth Realm are have returned to court with the Royal Canadian Mint accusing the Royal Australian Mint of stealing the technology it uses to print coins.

In January, it was reported that the Royal Canadian Mint file a patent infringement lawsuit against the Royal Australian Mint when the Aussies issued 2012 Remembrance Day coins that the Canucks claim uses the same or similar technologies.

It is being reported that in March, the Royal Canadian Mint filed additional documents in the Federal Court of Australia claiming that the printing method on the coin that commemorates the Australian children’s book Possum Magic also infringes on their patents.

Reverse of the 2017 Australian Possum Magic Coins: Blue Invisible Hush; Purple Vegemite Hush; Orange Happy Hush
(RA Mint image via The Australian Coin Collecting Blog)

The original claim included the 500,000 coin run from 2012. With this updated filing to include other Remembrance Day coins, Olympic-themed coins, and other commemorative, the total is now 15 million Australian $2 coins. The Royal Canadian Mint wants all of the coins in the Royal Australian Mint’s possession to be turned over or “destroy(ed) under supervision.”

As part of their defense, the Royal Australian Mint is asking the courts to invalidate the patents claiming there is not enough novelty over previous methods. Those who watch technology patent fights here in the United States have heard this argument before.

A hearing is scheduled for June. More claims and counter-claims can be added to this lawsuit between now and then. Stay tune!

And now the news…

 April 16, 2018

What can you give your country for its 70th anniversary? For thousands of school pupils and volunteers, the answer is the sweat of their brows as they worked to prepare a new public 70-kilometer (43-mile) walking path called the Sanhedrin Trail. → Read more at timesofisrael.com


 April 16, 2018

An amateur archaeologist and a 13-year-old student have uncovered a stash of thousand-year-old coins, rings and pearls on an island in the Baltic Sea in northern Germany, including items that might be tied to Harald Bluetooth, the famous king who united Denmark. → Read more at npr.org


 April 16, 2018

OTTAWA — A legal battle between the Royal Canadian Mint and its counterpart in Australia is heating up as Canada cries foul over “Possum Magic” coins. The Canadian Crown corporation is alleging the Royal Australian Mint stole its method for printing colour onto metal, and has expanded a December lawsuit over red poppies on a run of 2012 Remembrance Day coins. → Read more at nationalpost.com


 April 18, 2018

Maloney, author of the Purple Heart Hall of Honor Commemorative Coin Act, commended Purple Heart Hall of Honor, Inc. after it announced its “Campaign for 290,” which aims to attract at least 290 cosponsors to Rep. Maloney’s legislation by Memorial Day. → Read more at hudsonvalleynewsnetwork.com


 April 19, 2018

The "Half Eagle" is 164 years old and one of only four known → Read more at heraldtribune.com


 April 19, 2018

The Royal Canadian Mint claims an Australian Possum Magic-themed coin infringes on their patent. → Read more at bbc.com


 April 19, 2018

The Ernst Badian Collection gives insight to Roman history, as well as the evolution of currency. → Read more at njtvonline.org


 April 19, 2018

Silver is, like gold, a commodity store of value and is free of counterparty risk, with energy-intensive replacement costs setting the lower boundary for prices (the same energy proof of value that underlies gold prices). → Read more at goldmoney.com


 April 19, 2018

The Royal Canadian Mint, which is the official maker of the country’s money, has said the commemorative Australian series, which celebrates the classic Mem Fox children’s book Possum Magic, ripped off its unique process of painting colour onto metal. → Read more at news.com.au


 April 20, 2018

A former Bank of Japan employee was arrested Friday for allegedly stealing gold coins worth a total of ¥200,000 ($1,850) from the central bank’s Tokyo head office, police said. Koichi Yakushiji, 54, is suspected of stealing the two gold coins on April 2, the police said. → Read more at japantimes.co.jp

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Catching up on my reading

This week’s silence was not because I had nothing to say—that would be an anomaly! As part of starting my new business and becoming more organized, I realized how far behind I am in my reading.

Over the course of time, I kept buying books I want to read and let them pile up as other things got in the way including the feeling of obligation to read periodicals because of their timeliness.

The online periodicals are easier to deal with. Right now, I only subscribe to one magazine and The Numismatist for electronic reading. Both seem to get priority over printed items.

I decided that I will set aside one hour each evening before bedtime to catch up on my reading. I started with a non-numismatic book because it has been sitting here the longest and the topic is intriguing. For those interested, I am reading Tesla vs. Edison: The Life-Long Feud that Electrified the World by Nigel Cawthorne (ISBN: 9780785833789). Tesla was a better scientist but Edison was a better businessman.

Next, I will delve into a numismatic book. One that has been sitting on my desk that is really calling my name is Counterfeiting and Technology by Bob McCabe (ISBN: 9780794843953).

While starting and studying my collection of Maryland colonial currency, I learned that the leaf print on the reverse of early notes was an attempt to prevent counterfeiting. Benjamin Franklin devised the nature print, an imprint of a leaf or other natural item with its unpredictable patterns, fine lines, and complex details made it more difficult to copy. (Read more about it here)

Not only have I written a lot about the problems with counterfeiting coins and currency, but I also wrote a six-part series about how to detect counterfeits (start with the first post here).

Ironically, the most read blog post is “How easy is it to pass counterfeit currency,” a post that I wrote after an experience with an iodine pen.

Examples of Maryland colonial currency using nature prints on their reverses

On first glance, the 480 book looks well researched with a list of a lot of supporting materials. Like most of Whitman’s books, the layout includes a lot of illustrations. What piques my interest is that it does start with colonial currency, the area where my interest in the top began.

After I read about the technology that Tesla pioneered that is still the basis of a lot of what we use today, like the induction engine (used to drive the automobile that bears his name) and the concept of transmitting electricity without wires (see modern-day wireless chargers), then I will dive into the world of counterfeiting.

After note: In memorial…

This post about reading was inspired by the passing of former First Lady Barbara Bush. Mrs. Bush was passionate about literacy and would encourage everyone to read, regardless of age and ability. Without fanfare, Mrs. Bush and the foundation she started made sure literacy was a priority in the lives of everyone she touched.

In 1966, Aaron Feldman placed an advertisement in The Numismatist that read, “Buy the book before the coin.” Although Feldman was trying to entice readers to buy books, it is a sentiment that has survived the test of time and continues to thrive.

Later, Feldman was quoted as saying. “I’ve always thought that if a man doesn’t own one coin, but has the knowledge that is in the books, then he’s a real numismatist.” I am sure this is something that the late First Lady would endorse.

Weekly World Numismatic Newsletter for April 15, 2018

David J. Ryder, 39th Director of the U.S. Mint

Finally, after 2,649 days (or 7 years, 3 months, 2 days), the U.S. Mint now has a permanent appointed Director when Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin swore in David J. Ryder as the bureau’s 39th Director on April 12, 2018.

The U.S. Mint has been without an appointed director since Edmund C. Moy resigned as the director effective on January 9, 2011, although he had vacated his office earlier. Moy’s term was to expire on September 5, 2011. He was one of the few officials from the George W. Bush administration to work under Barack Obama.

Moy will be remembered for the problems with the U.S. Mint’s website ablity to meet collector demand and the debacle over not having enough bullion planchets to meet demands of investors and collectors.

Ryder comes to the U.S. Mint after holding the position of Global Business Development Manager and Managing Director of Currency for Honeywell Authentication Technologies. As part of his work, Ryder worked with the Royal Mint during their development of the security technology that they are currently being used for the new one-pound coin.

During his confirmation, Ryder was asked about counterfeit technologies and how it could help in the United States. Although counterfeiting is a concern, current circulating coins are not the counterfeiter’s targets. For coins, the targets are the older collectible coins with an overwhelming target being Morgan and Trade dollars.

This is a return for Ryder who served as the 34th Director from September 1992 to November 1993 during the administration of President George H.W. Bush. His experience with running the U.S. Mint in the past and his work with Honeywell should help him be successful.

Welcome, Mr. Ryder and good luck!

And now the news…

 April 11, 2018

Football fans were shocked to learn that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is a coin collector. On Wednesday night ESPN Sports Business Reporter Darren Rovell tweeted a new detail about Gronkowski's $1million home being burglarized on February 5, the night the Patriots lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII. → Read more at dailymail.co.uk


 April 11, 2018

To mark the 20th anniversary of Astana and the 25th anniversary of the national currency, the National Bank of Kazakhstan will issue a new series of commemorative coins. This is great news for numismatists of many countries. → Read more at kazakh-tv.kz


 April 12, 2018

Bank tellers beware! A coin con man may be on a roll, warn North Vancouver RCMP – literally. The inventive fraudster recently bilked a bank in North Vancouver by cashing in what the teller believed were more than 45 toonies and leaving significantly lighter, pocketing $2,600 in bills. → Read more at nsnews.com


 April 13, 2018

A junk dealer in Turkey returned 100 gold coins he found hidden away in an old stove, state run Anadolu news agency reported on Friday. Asir Ozturk, 36, has been making a living by collecting and selling junk materials in Burdur for the last 20 years, according to the report. → Read more at thenews.com.pk


 April 14, 2018

In 1974, Reno stock investor and real estate man, Lavere Redfield, passed away at the age of 77 years. Lavere was born in Utah and his father died when Lavere → Read more at elkodaily.com

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When going picking, check the bookcase

When I go picking I look for the unusual. Whenever I walk into an estate sale or any other picking opportunity, I will find the most remote area and work from there. In most homes, I head for the basement and the garage. These are the places that people store things they did not want to throw out, It is where I find the most unusual items.

Lately, I have been finding that buying old books can be just as interesting. Aside from cultivating a small clientele of interested customers, I have found that people hide things in books, especially old books.

Not long ago I visited a difficult to find estate sale hoping to find something interesting. I did not find much but there were some books that had possibilities. At $2 each, I felt I could find a few gems.

Based on the type of books I found, the owner had a passion for European history. In addition to travel books and books about European influence on United States society, there was a two-volume set written in French.

My French is good enough to figure out that the books were published in 1899 Paris and were from the first printing of the first edition. For book collectors, once the book meets the condition test, these are the books they like. Since they were in good condition with nice covers I added them to my pile.

This past week I was going looking through the box of books. As I was cataloging them I will either scan the pages or fan them to see if I find something. Within these two volumes of French language books on European history, I found money.

I was a little surprised to see notes from the Central Bank of Egypt. Seven different Egyptian notes, mostly from the late 1980s. The face value of the notes totals 13 pounds.

Aside from being mostly in horrible condition, I do not recall any indication of books, magazines, or catalogs referencing Egypt of the Middle East or North Africa.

The best-looking note is a 25 piastre note (Pick #57a) but it looks water damaged. It was probably water damaged before being stored between the pages of the book since the book shows no effects from the storage.

Although the notes can be worth $5 for the 25 piastre note to $25 for the 5-pound note, that would be if they were in better condition. I am not sure the entire lot is worth $5!

The moral of this story is that if you go picking at estate sales, check the bookcase. You never know what might fall out when you fan the pages.

Numismatic Showtime

Passing the time after 10:00 PM on Monday night, the television found its way to the History Channel for the return of Pawn Stars, the reality show about a pawn shop in Las Vegas. While the first show of the hour was just interesting it was the second show that...

read more

Catching up on my reading

This week’s silence was not because I had nothing to say—that would be an anomaly! As part of starting my new business and becoming more organized, I realized how far behind I am in my reading. Over the course of time, I kept buying books I want to read and let them...

read more
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