Weekly World Numismatic News for July 11, 2021

Bleached Counterfeit Currency

From 2019: An example of a $100 Federal Reserve Note printed on a bleached $5 note (Image courtesy of Prescott Police Department via AOL.com)

Headlines drive readers to the news. Whether they famously reported the wrong story (“Dewey Defeats Truman” by the Chicago Daily Tribune in 1948) or to put extra emphasis on a story (“Ford to City: Drop Dead” by the New York Daily News in 1975), nothing screams READ ME like a good headline.

Stories that do not appear on the front page of the printed edition or the top of a website rarely receive the attention of the headline writers. Unless there is a murder or other major crime, most local crime stories do not earn over-the-top headlines. This week’s news has three examples of mundane headlines that display a concerning pattern about counterfeit coins and currency.

Counterfeit money has been a problem since its invention. Governments try to stop criminals from counterfeiting, but their efforts almost seem inevitable. The new trend appears to be the small-time criminals caught trying to make money from selling fake money to survive.

Recent stories about the arrest of counterfeiters report that the people are not career criminals trying to get rich. Those who are getting arrested are using the counterfeits for survival. The world economy has deteriorated to the point that buying and selling counterfeit money was worth the risk to buy a scooter to use as primary transportation.

The people caught passing counterfeit money admit it is not a mistake. In the statements to the police, they admit to using counterfeits to fill to earn a survivable living. Authorities continue to look for the distributors of the counterfeits.

And now the news…

 July 4, 2021
An extremely rare 22-carat gold coin from the reign of Henry VIII, considered the origin of the pound, is set to go under the hammer this month for £50,000.  → Read more at dailymail.co.uk

 July 7, 2021
In a major crackdown against the illegal counterfeit currency trade going on in the city, the district police arrested six persons and seized Rs1.47 lakh fake notes in denominations of Rs2,000 and Rs500.  → Read more at tribuneindia.com

 July 7, 2021
ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Have you ever gone to the zoo or a museum and received a stretched coin as a souvenir? Well, the “The King of Elongated Coins” from the 1904 World’s Fair is up for auction and the lot including two other coins could be worth up to $4,000.  → Read more at fox2now.com

 July 8, 2021
A team of French, Australian, and Israeli scientists has collected evidence proving there was an active and thriving silver trade network in the eastern Mediterranean region in the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age (approximately 1200 BC to 400 BC).  → Read more at ancient-origins.net

 July 8, 2021
The Niger State Police Command has arrested a Catholic Church Catechist and two others for engaging in the sale of counterfeit currency of about N15,800,000. The trio of Emmanuel Akazuwa, 42, Catechist Sabastine Dabu, 48 and Umar Mohammed, 50, were arrested in a hotel in the Kontagora area of the state while trying to get a buyer for the N15.8million in their possession.  → Read more at saharareporters.com

 July 9, 2021
Officers seized approximately $1,700 in counterfeit currency during an arrest on Thursday, July 8, 2021.  → Read more at sootoday.com

 July 9, 2021
Byzantine coins were discovered last month at the port of Caesarea, a town in Northern Israel between Tel Aviv and Haifa.  → Read more at greekreporter.com
Coin Collectors News
news.coinsblog.ws

 

If you like what you read, share, and show your support Buy Me A Coffee

Currency Changes Coming Soon

Tubman $20 FRNDuring a White House press briefing, the press secretary announced the “Treasury Department is taking steps to resume efforts to put Harriet Tubman on the front of the new $20 notes.”

Creating the new $20 Federal Reserve Notes with a portrait of the abolitionist began in 2016 to have Tubman appear on the $20 note by 2020, the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment. Although the Bureau of Engraving and Printing continued to work on the project, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin eventually announced that a future administration would decide if having her portrait was appropriate. Mnuchin targeted 2030 as the earliest a new $20 note would appear.

Sources report that Mnuchin delayed the stoppage of the process as long as possible. He knew that the president did not support this change. After the announcement, sources report that the work continued without permission.

Although the source did not know the engraving status, it is speculated that the intaglio printing plates for the new $20 notes may be ready before the end of the year.

Janet YellenWhen the plates are ready, they will include the signature of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. The Senate approved Yellen’s appointment on an 84-15 vote. She will be the 78th Treasury Secretary and the first woman in that role in the department’s 232-year history.

Previously, Yellen was the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under Clinton, President of the Federal Reserve of San Francisco, and served on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors before being appointed the Board’s chair 2014.

If you like what you read, share, and show your support Buy Me A Coffee

Fun With Serial Numbers

A $2 note from the BEP’s 100 Year Anniversary of the end of World War I. The 2018 part of the serial number was when it was issued and the 1960 was when I was born.

With the holidays coming soon and local jurisdictions curbing public activities as more people are contracting the novel coronavirus, some might be looking for something to keep occupied, at least for a short time. If you have a few pieces of currency in your wallet or pocket, why not check them for Fancy Serial Numbers?

Fancy serial numbers on currency are when there is something special about the numbers. Although some third-party grading services recognize several different varieties, the generally recognized as collectible fancy serial numbers are:

  • Binary Numbers: A serial number that contains only 0 and 1
  • Ladders: Serial numbers that increase or decrease in order
  • Low Numbers: Serial numbers from 1 through 9 are considered the most collectible
  • Liar’s Poker: A game that uses the serial numbers in the currency as a poker hand. Each player uses their currency notes and bets who has the better hand. The better the hand, the more the serial number is worth
  • Radars: Serial numbers that read the same backward and forwards like 12344321
  • Repeaters: Serial numbers that repeat like 12121212 or 12341234
  • Rotators: Serial numbers that can be read if you turn the note upside down. The only numbers in rotators are 0, 1, 6, 8, and 9
  • Solid Numbers: Serial numbers that use all of the same numbers like 11111111
  • Combinations: Any combination of the types, such as 101101 being a binary repeater.

There are other ways to collect serial numbers. One way would be to try to find your birthdate on the currency. For example, if you were born on July 4, 1976, you can look for the serial number 19760704 or 07041976. Some years may be challenging to find since the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has created premium collectibles using the year as the first four numbers of a serial number.

If you do not have a number that can be identified as one of these fancy numbers, does it have a “cool factor?” Grab your currency and go to the Fancy Serial Number Checker. Enter the 8-digit serial number and see what it says.

I found a $1 Federal Reserve Note with a serial number reading 82838374. The site told me that it was “so-so.” It was the best ration I found from the money in my pocket!

You can also play with the number. I was curious about what it would say if the first “2” in the serial number were a “3?” As I suspected, the serial number 83838374 is cool!

Depending on how much cash you have in your pocket, it will give you and your children something different to do!

If you like what you read, share, and show your support Buy Me A Coffee

Weekly World Numismatic News for December 13, 2020

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and Treasurer Jovita Carranza signatures on the current Series 2017 Federal Reserve Notes

Paper money collectors will have something to add to their collections. President-elect Joe Biden announced that Janet Yellen is his nominee for Treasury Secretary. Yellen, who served as the 15th Chair of the Federal Reserve, has served as a Member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

If confirmed by the Senate, Yellen will be the first woman to be appointed Treasury Secretary. It will also be the first time a woman’s signature appears on the Federal Reserve notes’ right side. For the left side where the Treasurer’s signature appears, women have held that office in every administration since Harry Truman appointed Georgia Neese Clark in 1949.

The transition team has not announced who will be the next Treasurer of the United States. Currently, the position has been vacant since January 2020. Jovita Carranza, the previous Treasurer, was appointed as Administrator of the Small Business Administration.

Just think, if Biden appoints a woman as Treasurer, there will be two women’s signatures on the Federal Reserve Notes.

Although there is no rule as to when the Bureau of Engraving and Printing changes the series of U.S. currency, recent history suggests that Yellen’s signature will first appear on Series 2021 notes. Even though the Bureau of Engraving and Printing will print billions of dollars in Federal Reserve Notes, it might be worth finding crisp notes with fancy serial numbers to put away for a while.

And now the news…

 December 8, 2020
Recovering from a stroke, a businessman rekindles his childhood passion for coins and stamps and builds up a multi-million-dollar collection now on display in a tiny museum in Dubai  → Read more at thehindubusinessline.com

 December 8, 2020
A hoard of 47 silver Roman coins and British Iron Age gold coins have been donated to a museum after being declared treasure.  → Read more at bbc.com

 December 9, 2020
News LAPEL, Ind. — A man who lost his decades-old coin collection after shipping it to his son wants to warn other people to be careful mailing valuables this holiday season.  → Read more at cbs4indy.com
Coin Collectors News
news.coinsblog.ws

 

If you like what you read, share, and show your support Buy Me A Coffee

Recognizing History on United States Currency

Mockup of the $20 note featuring Harriet Tubman

Five years ago, Secretary of the Treasury Jacob “Jack” Lew announced that the Treasury was redesigning the $10 Federal Reserve Note and that the portrait was to feature a woman. Treasury planned to release the new note in 2020 to coincide with the 100th Anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment granting women suffrage.

The Treasury Department said that the $10 note was next on its schedule to update the currency to add Advanced Counterfeit Deterrence (ACD). The ACD Steering Committee, an inter-agency group that monitors several factors that go into the maintenance of U.S. currency, suggested the change. The committee also wanted to add features that will help increase accessibility for the visually impaired as part of the court-mandated Meaningful Access Program. Treasury reports that the new note “will include a tactile feature that increases accessibility for the visually impaired.”

Others had recommended replacing the portrait of President Andrew Jackson on the $20 note with a woman. Aside from 20 being a significant number in this celebration, the groups targeted Jackson because of his history of wanton disregard for life and liberty. During the War of 1812, Jackson led U.S. Army troops against native tribes working with the British against the United States to regain the lands taken following the colonies’ independence. History records that Jackson’s troops were brutal against the native tribes on his orders, killing them rather than taking prisoners.

After beating back the British in the Battle of New Orleans, Jackson declared martial law in New Orleans and used his troops to enforce martial law. Jackson ordered his troops to arrest a local magistrate because he sided with a newspaper reporter who wrote negatively about Jackson’s rule. Jackson also had members of the local militia who sided with the British executed without trial.

As president, Jackson’s lobbied Congress passed the Indian Removal Act because he wanted the Native American tribes to relocate to the western side of the Mississippi River. Jackson disregarded the letter of the law and ratified treaties to uproot tribes and march them away. It was called “Trail of Tears.” It forced the relocation of Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations from their ancestral homelands in the southeast to an area west of the Mississippi River. It is considered the most violent and brutal act against the native tribes in United States history.

To have Jackson’sJackson’s portrait on the United States currency is also a bit ironic. Jackson was against the concept of a central bank and refused to renew the charter of the Second Bank of the United States. He vetoed the bill to continue its charter. After winning the election in 1833, Jackson withdrew all of the country’s funds from the bank, limiting its ability to conduct business. He gave power to local banks to lend money and issued the Specie Circular, an executive order requiring government transactions in gold and silver coins (specie).

Although all of the men whose portraits appear on United States currency are very flawed people, Jackson is the worst.

Eventually, Secretary Lew sided with the activists and announced that Harriett Tubman would replace Jackson on the $20 Federal Reserve Note.

Lew resigned as the 76th Secretary of the Treasury on January 20, 2017, with the inauguration of a new administration. Steven T. Mnuchin became in as the 77th Secretary of the Treasury on February 13, 2017.

Mnuchin did not immediately interfere with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s efforts to redesign the $20 FRN. As the work continued, the BEP also continued to work on additional anti-counterfeiting measures for U.S. currency. Specifically, the BEP was looking into changes that would first impact the $10 note followed by the $5 bill.

The paper $5 note was a more significant focus for the BEP. In working with the U.S. Secret Service, they were finding that many counterfeiters were using bleaching products to remove the ink from the paper to use it to print higher denominations, predominantly $20 bills. One internal report suggested that the criminal would see a net gain of $14 for each $20 note they could produce.

Although it costs more to counterfeit $20 bills this way, it is a lower risk for the criminal. Few people pay attention to the problem, and those that do find that the currency passes the iodine pen test.

Interference from Mnuchin came after his first three months in office. It started with a question from a reporter who asked the president about the change. During a subsequent cabinet meeting, the president said something to Mnuchin about the change. Mnuchin agreed to do something without raising concerns.

Rather than stopping the process, Mnuchin diverted funds from the development of the proposed change in portrait. He was able to hide the change from the public because of the nature of the Treasury’s budgetary process.

In response to news reports, BEP Director Len Olijar issued the following statement via the bureau’s website saying that “BEP was never going to unveil a note design in 2020.” That was not the policy of the Treasury Department and the BEP when Secretary Lew announced the change.

Without interference from the current administration, Andrew Jackson, whose policies and actions led to the murder of many Native Americans, would have been replaced by Harriett Tubman. An honor to someone who saved lives and a tribute to 100 years of Women’s Suffrage.

The Passing of Annie Glenn

John and Annie Glenn

Feb 17, 2012 — Mercury astronaut John Glenn and his wife, Annie, pose during a luncheon Feb. 17, 2012, celebrating 50 years of Americans in orbit, an era which began with Glenn’s Mercury mission MA-6, on Feb. 20, 1962.
Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

A big tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic is the number of historical people who are being fatally stricken by the virus. Today, we learned that Annie Glenn, the surviving wife of astronaut and Senator John Glenn, died of COVID-19 complications. She lived for 100 years.

Annie Glenn was an advocate for those with speech disorders and child abuse. She grew up with a severe stutter that she hid from the public. After undergoing an intensive program at Hollins College, she learned to control her stutter. It gave her the confidence to be an advocate for those who could not speak.

After many years of advocacy, The Annie Glenn Award was created to honor individuals who overcome communications disorders.

Although there have been many deaths during this pandemic, a few have touched the numismatic community. Aside from being the spouse of a famous American, I own a numismatic collectible with her autograph. The $1 silver certificate may not be worth much as a numismatic collectible, but with the passing of John and Annie Glenn, it becomes more precious.

Glenn family autographed “Short Snorter” dated February 24, 1962, four days after Glenn orbited the earth in Friendship 7

Rest in Peace, Annie Glenn.

Weekly World Numismatic News for March 22, 2020

Cash is KingAs the COVID-19 crisis expands, news outlets have been asking how life will change once we medical science can catchup and conquer this disease. Numismatically, there is a question as to whether the currency will survive.

There has been concern about spreading the virus on our currency. According to the Associated Press, “Experts say cash does carry a risk of transmitting the virus, but the risk from cash so far is small compared with other transmission routes.”

Is it possible that a virus-contaminated banknote could transmit the virus? Scientists are not sure. Even considering the studies that show currency could be as dirty as your smartphone, there is no definitive answer.

“It’s not impossible that there might be traces of virus on dollar bills but if you wash your hands it should provide adequate protections, you shouldn’t need anything else,” said Julie Fischer, a professor at the Center for Global Health Science and Society at Georgetown University, on C-SPAN according to the AP.

While countries like South Korea and Poland have withdrawn paper money and has gone as far as burning it, banks in the United States are reporting the opposite effect. Fear has led some customers to make substantial cash withdrawals at banks and ATMs. Some banks are raising withdrawal limits.

The run on the bank is similar to the experiences in 2001 following the attacks of 9/11. Banks reported that customers were withdrawing cash at a higher rate than before the alleged Y2K crisis. Although reports have not reached that level, it is possible to exceed the 2001-2002 withdrawals if the COVID-19 crisis continues for very long.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing publishes its production numbers monthly. It will be interesting to see if they had to increase production in March to meet increased demand. It proves that cash is still king, and the thoughts of a cashless society can be put away for a while.

And now the news…

 March 15, 2020
Precious metals sellers never let a good crisis go to waste, using people’s fears of market turmoil to convince them to invest in an asset like gold or silver coins. These investments may seem safe, but some sellers price their coins at double their actual value, and that can leave the investor poorer.  → Read more at qz.com

 March 19, 2020
NEW YORK (AP) — In a world suffering a pandemic, cash is no longer king. A growing number of businesses and individuals worldwide have stopped using banknotes in fear that physical currency,…  → Read more at apnews.com

 March 21, 2020
Why You Should Invest in the $5 Gold Coin Commodities / Gold & Silver 2020 Mar 20, 2020 – 03:34 PM GMT  → Read more at marketoracle.co.uk

 March 21, 2020
Roman relic: The coin is one of a record number of treasures ( )  → Read more at standard.co.uk
Coin Collectors News
news.coinsblog.ws

 

The Story of Tubman on the $20: a mass of lies, evasions, folly, and hatred

Mockup of the $20 note featuring Harriet Tubman

When there is a discussion on the design of United States currency, there is no way to avoid politics. Politics drives the designs, composition, and the economic condition that goes behind every coin in your pocket. Politics governs the currency printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, including the overall management of it through the Department of the Treasury.

Aside from my interest in the nuance of politics, beyond reports on cable news, it is why there is a monthly report on legislation that would effect numismatics. Whether it is a proposal for a commemorative coin or the creation of a commission to celebrate something in history, every bill introduced in Congress has the potential to change numismatics.

Paper currency is less regulated than coins. Coining money is mentioned in Article I Section 8 of the United States Constitution. The federal regulation of currency began with the National Bank Act of 1863. Whereas the Constitution says, “Congress shall have Power…to coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin,” there is no provision for paper currency.

The Constitution does not say that Congress should design the coins, but they do, sometimes to the detriment of the final result. But the design of the currency is left to the Department of the Treasury.

There is no set process that the Treasury goes through to decide on the design of the nation’s currency. The process changes for each new Secretary that heads the department. In the previous administration, Secretary Jacob “Jack” Lew, went through his version of the process to decide that the portrait of Andrew Jackson on the $20 Federal Reserve Note will be replaced with Harriett Tubman by 2020.

According to sources, although the Bureau of Engraving and Printing would have preferred a little more time to create the master engraving plates to make this change, the timing of the announcement would not present a significant problem.

Lew resigned as the 76th Secretary of the Treasury on January 20, 2017, with the inauguration of a new administration. Steven T. Mnuchin was sworn in as the 77th Secretary of the Treasury on February 13, 2017.

Steven T. Mnuchin, the 77th Secretary of the Treasury

Sources report that Mnuchin did not interfere with the BEP’s efforts to redesign the $20 FRN immediately. As the work continued, the BEP also continued to work on additional anti-counterfeiting measures for U.S. currency. Specifically, the BEP was looking into changes that would first impact the $10 note followed by the $5 bill.

The paper $5 note was a more significant focus for the BEP. In working with the U.S. Secret Service, they were finding that many counterfeiters were using bleaching products to remove the ink from the paper to use it to print higher denominations, predominantly $20 bills. One internal report suggested that the criminal would see a net gain of $14 for each $20 note they could produce.

Although it costs more to counterfeit $20 bills this way, it is a lower risk for the criminal. As we have seen, few people pay attention to the problem and those that do find that the currency passes the iodine pen test. After all, it is currency paper.

Bleached Counterfeit Currency

An example of a $100 Federal Reserve Note printed on a bleached $5 note (Image courtesy of Prescott Police Department via AOL.com)

Interference from Mnuchin came after his first three months in office. It started with a question from a reporter who asked the president about the change. The president’s statement was followed by a cabinet meeting where the president said something to Mnuchin about the change. Then, a source reports that the president said something to Mnuchin who agreed to do something without raising concerns.

Mnuchin did not directly interfere with the process. Instead, he used the budgetary process to direct funds away from the development of the proposed change in portrait.

Mnuchin was able to hide the change from the public because of the nature of Treasury’s budgetary process. Since the BEP is self-funded by the profits (seigniorage) that is deposited in its Public Enterprise Fund, all Treasury had to do was obtain Congress’s permission to use a set amount from the fund without providing details.

Treasury and BEP were able to hide the changes in the CFO’s Annual Report by using internal reorganization to obfuscate where the spending was going.

In short, Mnuchin ordered the BEP, which is lead by a career professional and not a politician, to move the resources away from the redesign and prioritizing other aspects of currency redesign. Mnuchin purposely slowed the redesign process in a way that gives Treasury and the BEP deniability.

A statement published on the BEP website, BEP Director Len Olijar wrote in response to the news reports, “BEP was never going to unveil a note design in 2020.” That was not the policy of the Treasury Department and the BEP when Secretary Lew announced the change. Mnuchin changed it at the request of the president.

The story of the “delay” of the redesign with Tubman’s portrait appeared in The New York Times. In the story, the Times used an image from the original announcement that depicted Tubman superimposed on the $20 bill. Sources suggested that Olijar, under orders from Mnuchin, was to try to discredit the story in any way possible. Rather than continue with the fact, albeit flawed compared to previous reports, the statement went on to pick on an inconsequential aspect of the story, the image published by the Times.

“The illustration published by the New York Times was a copy of an old Series note with the signatures of former officials, with a different image superimposed on it.”

As my source said, “let’s attack the messenger and not the message.”

Unfortunately, Olijar, a career government employee, is caught in the middle having to work with the politicians. He loses credibility by contradicting the previous reporting, which is unfortunate because sources have suggested that some other than Mnuchin “ordered” Olijar to issue the statement.

There is an old expression that one should never discuss politics, religion, and sex/money/pick something in polite company. It is impossible to be polite when talking about coins and currency before their manufacture. It spreads through the entire process. Or as George Orwell aptly said:

In our age, there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia.

Weekly World Numismatic News for May 26, 2019

In the argument as to whether to get rid of cash in favor of credit cards and electronic payments just took an interesting twist this week. According to a study by LendEDU.com, a website that specializes in loan comparison and education, credit and debit cards are dirtier and carry more germs than currency and coins.

LendEDU reported that they “used a scientific device that tests for bacteria on a given surface.” Their publication did not disclose the device that they used. And based on the results, the tests were performed in New York City.

On average, NYC CitiBike (a bicycle sharing service), McDonald’s door handles, a park bench, and a parking meter had more bacteria than the average credit card. But they did find that the credit card was dirtier than a Penn Station bathroom, cash, coins, and a subway pole.

With all due respect to LendEDU, did they find the most remote bathroom in Penn Station and test it after someone did their quick wipe down? And did they test the pole on the subway car after someone used that bathroom and washed their hands if the sink worked?

Aside from being a proponent for using the products produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the U.S. Mint, I am a native New Yorker and one-time commuter from Long Island. These findings are difficult to believe, especially the low score for the subway pole. I have taken the A Train. I would not have a sandwich without washing my hands after getting off the train!

It is a fun story but hardly a credible test.

If you would excuse me, I have to check the level of the big bottle of hand sanitizer next to the cash register!

And now the news…

 May 22, 2019

That credit or debit card in your wallet is apparently dirtier than you might have suspected.  → Read more at foxbusiness.com


 May 23, 2019

MONTREAL, May 23, 2019 /PRNewswire/ – In 1969, Plastic Ono Band (John Lennon and Yoko Ono) recorded Give Peace A Chance, an anti-war anthem for generations of pacifists and music fans around the world.  The song was recorded live from Lennon and Ono’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel suite in downtown Montreal  → Read more at finance.yahoo.com


 May 24, 2019

The recent discovery of two ancient Spanish coins near Halls Crossing excited archaeologists at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, who wondered whether they offered evidence that Spanish explorers, possibly in search of mythical cities of gold, passed through Utah centuries ago.  → Read more at sltrib.com


 May 25, 2019

A US-made collectable coin lists Britain and France among the honored US allies in WWII, but, strangely, the Soviet Union, whose Red Army delivered a crushing blow to the Nazis in Europe and fought Japan, is omitted.  → Read more at rt.com


 May 25, 2019

Apparently, the Soviet Union, whose soldiers hoisted a red flag over the Reichstag marking the liberation of most of Europe from the Nazis during World War II, is not a country that contributed to securing the "liberties" the Western states "enjoy today", per a US company which issued a souvenir commemorating the victory's upcoming anniversary.  → Read more at sputniknews.com

Coin Collectors News
news.coinsblog.ws

 

LOOK BACK: Numismatics Is More Than Coins

I was going to stop doing the LOOK BACK series after the summer, thinking I would have time to create new content. But we all know that real life has a way of changing even the best-laid plans. While fighting off a severe sinus infection thanks to the mold spores that thrive in this damp weather, business picked up. I am ecstatic that my new business is catching on but the infection put a damper on things.
I need a week to catch up. While doing so, I will publish two more LOOK BACK articles and try to finish a few of the new posts I started. For today’s LOOK BACK, I want to remind everyone that numismatics is more than coins. You can satisfy your collecting urges with exonumia as well as with coins.

Although the dominant area of numismatics is the collection and study of legal tender coins, numismatics is more than just coins. Numismatic is the collecting and study of items used in the exchange for goods, resolve debts, and objects used to represent something of monetary value. This opens up numismatic collecting to a wide range of items and topics that could make “the hunt” to put together the collection as much fun as having the collection.

Exonumia is the study and collection of tokens, medals, or other coin-like objects that are not considered legal tender. Exonumia opens numismatics to a wide variety of topics that could not be satisfied by collecting coins alone. An example of exonumia is the collection of transportation tokens. You may be familiar with transportation tokens from your local bus or subway company who used to sell tokens to place into fare boxes. Others may have used tokens to more easily pay in the express lanes at bridges and tunnels. A person who collects transportation tokens is called a Vecturist. For more information on being a Vecturist, visit the website for the American Vecturist Association.

Token collecting can be the ultimate local numismatic collection. Aside from transportation tokens, some states and localities issued tax tokens in order to collect fractions of a cent in sales taxes to allow those trying to get by in during down economic times to stretch their money further. Some communities issued trade tokens that allowed those who used them to use them like cash at selected merchants. Some merchants issued trade tokens that were an early form of coupons that were traded as coupons are traded today.

While tokens are items used to represent monetary value, medals are used to honor, commemorate, or advertizing. The U.S. Mint produces medals that honor people, presidents, and events. Medals produced by the U.S. Mint are those authorized by law as a national commemoration including the medal remembering the attacks of 9/11.

Commemorative medals are not limited to those produced by the U.S. Mint. State and local governments have also authorized the producing medals on their behalf that were produced by private mints. Many organizations also have created medals honoring members or people that have influenced the organization. Companies have produced medals to honor their place in the community or something about the company and their community.

Many medals have designs that can be more beautiful than on coins since they are not limited to governmental mandated details and their smaller production runs allows for more details to be added. Medals can be larger and thicker than coins and made in a higher relief than something that could be manufactured by a government mint.

Exonumia collecting also involves elongated and encased coins. You may have seen the machines in many areas where you pay 50-cents, give it one of your cents, turn the wheel and the cent comes out elongated with a pattern pressed into the coin. Elongated coins have been used as advertisements, calling cards, and as a souvenir.

Encased coins are coin encircled with a ring that has mostly been used as an advertisement. One side will call the coin a lucky coin or provide sage advice with the other side advertising a business. Another form of encased coins are encased stamps. Encased stamps were popular in the second half of the 19th century and used for trade during times when there were coin shortages.

Other exonumia includes badges, counter stamped coins, wooden money, credit cards, and casino tokens. Counter stamped coins are coins that have been circulated in foreign markets that were used in payment for goods. When the coin was accepted in the foreign market, the merchant would examine the coin and impress a counter stamp on the coin proclaiming the coin to be genuine based on their examination. Although coins were counter stamped in many areas of the world, it was prevalent in China where the coins were stamped with the Chinese characters representing the person who examined the coin. These Chinese symbols are commonly referred to as “chop marks.”

One type of counter stamped coins are stickered coins. Stickered coins were popular in the first half of the 20th century; they were used as an advertisement. Merchants would purchase stickers and apply them to their change so that as the coins circulated, the advertising would reach more people. Some stickered coins acted as a coupon to entice the holder to bring the coin into the shop and buy the merchandise.

Remember the saying, “Don’t take any wooden nickels?” If you are a wooden money collector, you want to find the wooden nickels and other wooden denominations. Wooden nickels found popularity in the 1930s as a currency replacement to offer money off for purchases or as an advertisement. Wooden nickels are still being produced today mostly as an advertising mechanism.

We cannot end the discussion of exonumia without mentioning Love Tokens and Hobo Nickels. Love Tokens became popular in the late 19th century when someone, usually a man, would carve one side of a coin, turn it into a charm for a bracelet or necklace, and give it to his loved one. The designed are as varied as the artists who created them. Hobo Nickels are similar in that hobo artists would carve a design into a Buffalo Nickel to sell them as souvenirs. While there are contemporary Love Tokens and Hobo Nickels, collectors have an affection for the classic design that shows the emotion of the period.

Currency collecting, formally called notaphily, is the study and collection of banknotes or legally authorized paper money. Notes can be collected by topic, date or time period, country, paper type, serial number, and even replacement or Star Notes (specific to the United States). Some consider collecting checks part of notaphily. Collectors of older canceled checks are usually interested in collecting them based on the issuing bank, time period, and the signature. For the history of currency and their collecting possibilities, see my previous article, “History of Currency and Collecting”.

Scripophily is the study and collection of stock and bond certificates. This is an interesting subset of numismatics because of the wide variety of items to collect. You can collect in the category of common stock, preferred stock, warrants, cumulative preferred stocks, bonds, zero-coupon bonds, and long-term bonds. Scripophily can be collected by industry (telecom, automobile, aviation, etc.); autographs of the officers; or the type of vignettes that appear on the bonds.
Militaria: Honorable Collectibles

Collecting of military-related items may be considered part of exonumia but deserves its own mention. It is popular to collect military medals and awards given to members since the medals themselves are works of art. Families will save medals awarded to relatives and even create museum-like displays to honor or memorialize the loved one.
Militaria includes numismatic-related items that represent the various services. One of the growing areas of collectibles is Challenge Coins. A challenge coin is a small medal, usually no larger than 2-inches in diameter, with the insignia or emblem of the organization. Two-sided challenge coins may have the emblem of the service on the front and the back has the emblem of the division or another representative service. Challenge coins are traditionally given by a commander in recognition of special achievement or can be exchanged as recognition for visiting an organization.

Over the last few years, civilian government agencies and non-government organizations (NGO) have started to create and issue challenge coins. Most of those agencies have ties to the military, but not all. Like their military counterparts, a manager or director can give challenge coins in recognition of special achievement or for visiting an organization.

Another area of military collectibles is Military Payment Certificates (MPC). MPC was a form of currency that was used to pay military personnel in foreign countries. MPC was first issued to troops in Europe after World War II in 1946 to provide a stable currency to help with commerce. MPC evolve from Allied Military Currency (AMC) to control the amounts of U.S. dollars circulating in the war zone and to prevent enemy forces from capturing dollars for their own gain. Prior to World War II, troops were paid in the currency of the country where they were based. With the ever moving fronts and the allies need to control the economies to defeat the Axis powers, AMC was issued to allow the military to control their value.

After the war, MPC replaced APC in order to control the currency and prevent the locals from hoarding U.S. dollars preventing the building of their own economies. When military officials discovered that too many notes were in the circulation, being hoarded, and thriving on the black market, series were demonetized and reissued to military personnel. Those holding MPC notes, not in the military received nothing and were encouraged to circulate their own currency.

MPC were printed using lithography in various colors that changed for each series. From the end of World War II to the end of the Vietnam War there were 15 series printed with only 13 issued. Although the two unissued series were destroyed, some examples have been found in the collections of those involved with the MPC system. Amongst the 13 series that were issued, there are 94 recognized notes available for collectors. Most notes are very affordable and accessible to the interested collector.

The original article can be read here.

Pin It on Pinterest