Hometown collecting

Inwood Country ClubIn the 1960s when my parents’ first child was becoming old enough to be enrolled in school, they decided it was time to move out of Brooklyn for the better schools of Long Island. One day, my father found an advertisement in the newspaper for some new homes being built in an old hamlet on Long Island called Inwood. In New York-speak, a hamlet is not an official location but a section of a larger village or township named for jurisdictional purposes. Hamlets are very much like any other area but without its own formal government.

Inwood was one of the Five Towns along with Lawrence, Cedarhurst, Woodmere, and Hewlett. Each had its own character, divisions, points of interest but were together geographically, socially, and and as a larger community. Some of that has changed over the years, but the Five Towns still exists as a central part of life in that area. Although identified as a hamlet, Inwood had its own identity from the rest of the Five Towns. Inwood was more working class than the rest of the Five Towns. It is the home to two schools that were part of the Lawrence-Cedarhurst Public Schools (now just the Lawrence Public Schools), P.S. #4 was the kindergarten and P.S. #2 was the elementary school (then Grades 1-6). There was some industry in an area we called “the factories” and some offices. Not too far was a bowling alley, a few gas stations, and the A&P. A few churches, a synagogue (that no longer exists), the VFW Hall, and the volunteer fire department was all part of daily life.

Many of us have gone in own directions but we cannot forget what made Inwood home for us. One of the ubiquitous parts of Inwood was the golf course. Officially, it is called the Inwood Country Club. Aside from being a private club where many of us were not allowed to enter, it dominated the entire length of Donahue Avenue that was our major route when we walked to school. There were no sidewalks on that side of the street. Trees hung over the shoulder and in the spring and fall you can see and hear the men playing golf.

The last time I visited Inwood, I noticed that the road was better paved and the shoulder that we walked along was no longer available. The fence line came to the edge of the road and a distinct curb was added. The trees were thinner and he shrubbery that dominated the fence when I walked that road was gone. You can now see the golf course from the street.

Although I never went into the Inwood Country Club until I found someone to invite me in the 1980s, its presence looms large in my memory. Our backyard backed up into a swamp-like area owned by the club that would flood when Jamaica Bay overflowed. It was a buffer between the bay and the golf course. The only other landmark in the area that dominated as much as the Inwood Country Club was Kennedy Airport across the bay.

Inwood Country Club was opened in 1901 by Jacob Wertheim because there were few places to play golf on Long Island. Its claim to fame for the golf world is that it was the host to the 1921 PGA Championship that was won by Walter Hagen and the 1923 U.S. Open Championship won by Bobby Jones. The 1923 U.S. Open was Jonse’s first major championship of his professional career. Jones won with what was then considered one of the finest shots on the 18th hole of the playoff that was then called “the shot heard around the world.”

Whenever I find something about Inwood that finds its way for sale I usually try to buy it. Souvenirs from Inwood are not plentiful and numismatic-related souvenirs are even rarer. But when a token honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Inwood Country Club came along, I was a strong bidder. I might have overbid, but I had to make this token part of my collection.

1951-Inwood-CC-50th-Anniversary

It looks like it is made of a white metal, maybe zinc, coated with copper based on the wearing on the reverse. It is 16.75 mm in diameter making it smaller than a dime, which is 17.9 mm in diameter. But it has survived well for being that small and 64 years old.

This goes to show that you do not have to collect coins to have fun in numismatics!

Inwood Country Club clubhouse image courtesy of the Inwood Country Club.

I still love small local shows

One of the things I noticed over the last few years are the proliferation of local coin shows in Maryland. Part of the reason is an ambitious dealer finding areas to put on shows and do what it takes to make them successful.

The idea is simple: you have inventory that is not making money for you if it is sitting on the shelf. Rent a hall either in a local hotel or an organization’s building, set up the room so that each dealer has a space, provide a couple of chairs per dealer space, rent the dealer space, have a greeter at the door, and security which can be an off-duty police officer from the area. All that is left is the advertising.

Advertising is a key factor because without it, I would not have stumbled over a coin show this past weekend in Frederick, Maryland. After travelling to Frederick from the closer-in Washington suburbs for other business, I remembered reading that there was a coin show in the area. A quick search using my smartphone helped me find the address and my in-vehicle GPS helped me get there.

When I arrived I walked into the room with about a dozen dealers and a few empty tables. I was not concerned with the empty tables but the ones where dealers sat. Since this was a local show, I knew many of the dealers and spoke with those who were not otherwise busy. Since going to this show was a last minute decision, I did not have my want list with me but I looked around anyway.

While looking at some tokens, I heard one gentleman say that he is getting back into collecting after finding the coins he collected as a child. It is a typical story that many of us can relate. When I heard he was lived near where our local coin club met, I approached him, introduced myself as the coin club’s president, and invited him to our next meeting in March.

Finally, I did have a chance to look at some items. For the times I do not bring my lists, I can fall back on searching the tokens for anything from New York City or anything unusual. During this search, I did find two tokens that I thought were worth buying. The first is a token from the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA). For the non-New York readers, the TBTA is an affiliate agency of New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority that manages the bridges and tunnels that have at least one end in Brooklyn or Queen plus the Henry Hudson Bridge which crosses the East River between the Bronx and Manhattan.

The token I found were issued for residents of the Rockaways, Queens for crossing the Cross Bay and Marine Park bridges at a reduced price. The Rockaway Peninsula is off southern Long Island in Queens that is very residential and used to be a very popular summer destination with areas of cabins only used during the summer. The TBTA made the tokens available to residents to help lower their commuting costs. Nowadays, the residents use the EZPass electronic toll collecting system for their discount.

The TBTA issued a few different residential tokens in various areas of the city to provide residents with discounts. While I have some of the others, including the one for Staten Island for use on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, this is the first one I found for the Rockaways. After all, these tokens were issued to be used by the residents. Most used the tokens they purchased and did not save them.

Obverse of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority Rockaways resident token.

Obverse of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority Rockaways resident token.

Reverse of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority Rockaways resident token.

Reverse of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority Rockaways resident token.

The other token I found was a souvenir from the Empire State Building. While I have a few tokens from the iconic building, this one not only looks newer but is also holed for use as jewelry. This is one of the better looking medals I have found since it look like it was minimally handled.

Obverse of the holed Empire State Building medal.

Obverse of the holed Empire State Building medal.

Reverse of the Empire State Building medal

Reverse of the Empire State Building medal

One of the ways to make collecting more fun and personal is to collect exonumia that means something. Being from New York, I once used some of these items not thinking that I would be collecting them years later. Subway tokens were ubiquitous in New York life. I used to use TBTA tokens a lot, especially crossing the Verrazano Bridge for a daily commute to Piscataway. Later, when I moved to New Jersey, I had used tokens for the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) and was excited to find tokens from its predecessor, Hudson Railway.

Coins are still a lot of fun, but I am really having fun looking for various hometown-related tokens and medals. Aside from being a reminder of my past, it is also a look back on the history of my hometown New York, New York, a city so nice they named it twice!

Return of the Poll: What’s on your desk?

Some of the numismatic items found on my desk.

Some of the numismatic items found on my desk.

To bring back the weekly poll, I thought about my post the other day about desktop finds where I discussed the items I found while cleaning my desk. I was thinking about this and was curious as to what other collectors do? After all, many of these items are the results of my saying “oh neat” and buying something outside of my collecting interest. Others are items that were given to me that are also outside of my collecting interest.

I read articles that say if you’re not a collector you’re an accumulator. But it is not that simple. Sometimes I over buy just to get one specific item. For example, the lot of Canadian dimes I found on my desk were purchased because I wanted one of the dimes for my collection. I will probably resell the rest of the dimes, but in the mean time they are on my desk.

Other items are souvenirs like the faux million-dollar bill and the package of shredded currency. While I may not have an attachment to them, they are not salable and I just do not want to throw them away. Maybe I’ll create an auction lot of this stuff to see if someone else wants it but it is still here, too.

What about you? Do you buy extra items and think you’ll resell them later? What about those souvenirs? How many of you have cheap items that you know you cannot resell or even give away? Take the poll. Comments are always welcome!

What kind of "extra items" are in your collection?

I have bought something I thought was neat or unusual. (35%, 6 Votes)
I have bought lots of coins or exonumia just for one or two items. (24%, 4 Votes)
I have souvenirs that are not part of my main collection. (18%, 3 Votes)
I collect souvenirs but have bought more than I should have. (12%, 2 Votes)
I have a box of goodies, want to see it? (12%, 2 Votes)
I just have what I collect and nothing extra. (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 8

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Desktop Finds

Amongst my activities for the last month has been cleaning off the top of my desk. While for some this may be an easy project, for me it is a major proposition. One of the reasons is that the way I work can be best classified as “organized chaos.” Organized chaos builds piles of like items until there is no room. Rather than clean up the piles, priority items are reordered and piled on top of items that may not be needed until later. This keeps going until the desktop becomes unorganized as the piles get shifted looking for something that became buried. At some point the organization goes away and all that is left is the chaos. Finally, the day comes when a critical item can no longer be found.

I have had people tell me that the best way to keep my organization under control is to deal with the item right away. For some reason, I get attached to ideas, concepts, and the objects that are associated with them. Everything gets saved until I do something with them or I am faced with the difficult decisions to make it a priority when I finally dig out of the chaos.

But the digging can be fun because at the bottom of the pile, when the top of the desk is finally rediscovered, are the small items that are the most fun. In my case, there are a lot of coins, medals, tokens, and other items that I thought would be cool or nice to resell. Just to have a little fun, I gathered up some of the numismatic trinkets and decided to share it with my readers.

Some of the numismatic items found during my attempt to organize my chaos.

Some of the numismatic items found during my attempt to organize my chaos.

It looks like an eclectic little lot of stuff. I have a million dollar bill (talk about inflation money) sitting on top of a package of shredded currency that says has about $10 of chopped up notes, some Canadian money, and older U.S. coins. Those coins with the little numbered stickers were purchased at my coin club’s auction. There is a lot of five Canadian dimes, a copper 2-cent piece, and a nickel 3-cent coin.

Encased steel cent advertising John C. Roberts Shoes “for the particular man.”

Encased steel cent advertising John C. Roberts Shoes “for the particular man.”

But some of these coins are a bit interesting. Let’s look at this encased steel cent. Up until I bought this coin from noted error dealer Fred Weinberg through eBay I had never seen an encased steel cent. The aluminum ring says “Wear the John C. Roberts Shoe” around the top and “For Particular Men” on the bottom. The reverse has the address of a store in Chicago, Illinois.

John C. Roberts was one of the founders of the Roberts, Johnson & Rand Shoe Company of St. Louis in 1898 as a wholesaler. The other founders were Jack Johnson, Oscar Johnson, and Edgar E. Rand. They were a competitor to Peters Shoe Company that was founded in 1836 but organized into a formal corporation under Missouri law in 1891 by Henry W. Peters. The Peters Shoe Company was a manufacturer and wholesaler.

Although these two companies were competitors, their policies, ideals. and business standards were so closely aligned that they were drawn together by a mutual respect. The companies merged in 1911 and changed their name to the International Shoe Company. The next year, in 1912, the International Shoe Company purchased Friedman-Shelby Shoe Company, another St. Louis-based shoe manufacturer. In 1921, International Shoe Company was incorporated in Delaware.

International Shoe Company was once the world’s largest manufacturer of shoes with Red Goose shoes being its flagship brand. At one time, International Shoe Company owned Florsheim and Savage Shoes, Canada’s largest shoemaker. In 1966 the company changed its name to Interco and tried to become a conglomerate in apparel, footwear, and retailing. The company’s troubles began as it branched into furniture by buying Ethan Allen and Broyhill Furniture in 1980 as the furniture manufacturing was declining in the United States.

Eventually, Interco filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1991 and sold off all of its operations except for Broyhill, Lane, Converse (which it bought in 1986), and Florsheim. By 1994, the company sold Converse and Florsheim to exit the shoe business. The company was rebranded as Furniture Brands International 1996 after buying Thomasville Furniture. Now they only manufacture and sell furniture leaving collectors with these encased coins to raise our curiosity.

My next interesting find was my “gold” medal commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Montgomery County Coin Club in 2009. As president of the Montgomery County Coin Club, it was my job to help lead a celebration honoring our 50th anniversary. Since I was not a member for as long as others, I leaned heavily on longer tenured members for assistance. I believe the celebration went well.

To commemorate the occasion, we wanted a special medal but we did not want to spend a lot of money. Rather than buy new medals, we dipped into our ample supply of pewter medals and had them gold plated. On the back, I created a “50” logo that was similar to our regular logo that uses the reverse of the Maryland Tercentenary half-dollar but uses the reverse of the Lincoln Memorial cent that was released in 1959. That logo was added to a sticker and numbered. The club as #1 as a souvenir. Since I was the president, I was able to get #2. I just wish I made the background of that sticker a bit lighter.

Miscellaneous Items with Canadian dollar, dimes, a TBTA token, and Keith Hernandez souvenir “coin.”

Miscellaneous Items with Canadian dollar, dimes, a TBTA token, and Keith Hernandez souvenir “coin.”

Sometimes there is just some loose stuff on the desk including a Canadian dollar commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Montreal Canadiens (they are a professional hockey team for those who do not follow hockey), a token from the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA) in New York City, a small set of Canadian dimes, and a Keith Hernandez “coin” from a 7-Eleven promotion in the mid-1980s. Hernandez was the Mets’ star first baseman when they won the 1986 World Series. Yes, I know he played for St. Louis before being traded to the Mets, but that is inconsequential to my collecting interests!

The TBTA token is interesting because it is smaller than the ones I used to use because it is for other tolls than the East River bridges. This token was primarily used on the Henry Hudson and the Marine Parkway (now Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial) Bridges where the tolls were cheaper. The larger tokens were used on the Triborough Bridge, Verrazono-Narrows Bridge, the Queens Midtown Tunnel, and other nearby crossings.

Tokens are no longer accepted at the TBTA crossing and they stopped issuing special Staten Island resident tokens for the Verrazano Bridge in 1998 with the introduction of EZ-Pass. I should try to find a Staten Island resident token for my collection.

An 1865 3-cent nickel and an 1865 2-cent coin for my 2-, 3-, and 5-cent one-pager

An 1865 3-cent nickel and an 1865 2-cent coin for my 2-, 3-, and 5-cent one-pager

Finally, something that was purchased relatively recently but made it to the bottom of the pile are two coins I bought to start my one-page collection of 2-, 3-, and 5-cent coins. The week after writing about this in a blog post, the coins were available in my coin club’s monthly auction. Since I plan to put the set together, I bought these 1865 2-cent and 3-cent nickel coins to begin the question. But like a number of items that ended up buried on the surface of the desk, this is where that stopped. Now that I found the coins, I am going to make note of where I am in this collection and bring the list to the World’s Fair of Money in August to see if I can fill in the holes. In fact, I will probably work on completing my one-page cent collection, too. It’s not like I will have anything else to do!

There is more but if I do not stop now I am not going to be able to finish my cleaning!

Heritage Publishes A Great Auction Catalog

Front Cover of the Heritage Platinum Night Sports Auction

Front Cover of the Heritage Platinum Night Sports Auction

Whomever said “Don’t judge a book by its cover” did not see the recent auction catalog from Heritage Auction Galleries for their Platinum Night Sports Auction that will be held in New York on February 23-24. The catalog is a work of art worthy of the fantastic sports collectibles that are described in its pages.

Opening the Priority Mail envelope delivered in February 4 was a beautiful holographic image of iconic image of the 1980 United States Men’s Olympic Hockey Team celebrating their victory over the Soviet Red Army team. The eye-popping three-dimensional image is far more impressive than the image that appeared on the front cover of Sports Illustrated because of the visual texture it delivers.

The “Miracle on Ice” 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team may have been a bunch of guys trying to play hockey, but to the rest of us, they were a proxy in the Cold War. With the games being played in Lake Placid, New York, the nation gathered around television sets across the nation to hope and watch our boys beat the Soviets—just because they were the Soviets, long suspected of cheating by twisting the rules to pay players at a time when the Olympics were an all-amateur competition. I remember a group of us transplanted New Yorkers watching hockey in the dorms at the University of Georgia trying to teach the southerners about hockey was almost as entertaining as the games.

After staring at the cover you tilt it and the image of Mike Eruzione’s jersey can be seen. Eruzione’s “Miracle on Ice”, game worn gold medal game jersey, and other memorabilia from the 1980 gold medal winning hockey team is what Heritage picked as the highlight of the auction. Current bid for “The Miracle on Ice” jersey is $325,000.

Turn the cover over and there is a three-dimensional holographic image of Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth sitting on a bench, hats in hand holding a baseball bat. The image is from the 1927 Murders Row team. Tilt the cover to see the 1927-1928 game worn Gehrig uniform jersey that is part of the auction.

Inside the catalog are some of the most phenomenal sports collectibles that could ever be imagined from nearly every sport. One of the more unusual items if “The Bloody Sock” worn by Curt Schilling during the second game of the 2004 World Series. Schilling’s performance on bad tendons have been compared with the fictional Roy Hobbs in the 1984 movie The Natural. It also represents the end of the 84-year Curse of the Bambino. Starting bid is $25,000.

Heritage also has a ticket stub from the 1962 Philadelphia Warriors Wilt Chamberlain 100 Point Game on March 2, 1962 at the Hershey Sports Arena in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Officially, the attendance was 4,124 (or 10 million as the legend grew!). This PSA authenticated ticket is currently at $3,000.

For those looking for a numismatic tie to this auction, you might want to consider:

Since this is not specifically a numismatic item, I am grading it as a specimen release. I am grading this SP69 deducting a point for the typos that should have been caught in the editing process—one being in an item title that could not be ignored. It is a fantastic item and should be on the shelf of anyone who has an interest in sports and sports collectibles.

Happy bidding!

Catalog image is from the author whose catalog is not for sale!

Thinking About Home

My hometown was in the news today for two very different reasons, yet both remind me of why I continue to love New York.

Mayor Ed Koch at the commissioning ceremony for the USS LAKE CHAMPLAIN (CG 57), 1988

Mayor Ed Koch at the commissioning ceremony for the USS LAKE CHAMPLAIN (CG 57), 1988

In the morning, we woke to the news that Hizzoner, the former Mayor of New York City, Edward Irving Koch had died around 2 a.m. Friday morning. He was 88 years old.

Koch’s exuberance and love of New York propelled himself and the city from the what was seen as the bottom to a trajectory that you could not think of New York without Ed Koch or Ed Koch without New York. Koch’s perpetual question, “How am I doing?” will forever be his trademark throughout the streets, cabs, subways, highways, and byways of New York City.

A more happier note, it was on February 1, 1913 that Grand Central Station (really named “Grand Central Terminal” but that’s not what we called it growing up in New York) opened. It was not the first terminal on the site to bear the Grand Central name. The previous version opened in 1903 and comprised of three separate buildings. Over the next ten years the structure that stands there today was built in phases that including the underground rail tunnels that are still in use today.

Grand Central underwent a rehabilitation that started in 1994 through 2000 that cleaned up the famous ceiling in the grand concourse and reconfigured the above ground areas to include more shops. But it still represents the major transportation hub of New York.

Collecting transportation tokens are the ultimate numismatic collection that represents local history. Transportation has been at the heart of every city and can be used as a personal tie to your collectible. Tokens and medals representing local transportation can be more beautiful and significant than coins from the same era. Not long ago, I was able to find a pewter medal from the dedication of the East River Bridge. The bridge was rename in 1915 and is known today as the Brooklyn Bridge.

Having a collection of subway tokens reminds me of all those subway trips I had taken over the course of my life and the sesquicentennial medal of the Long Island Railroad represents my daily commutes from Long Island to my job at 30 Rock.

As I think about my hometown today, remember where you are from and consider starting a collection of tokens and medals that helps to tell your story. It can be as rewarding as your memories.

And to Hizzoner, you did just fine! Rest in peace.

 

Image of Ed Koch courtesy of Wikipedia.

My New Medal and a New Adventure

Cool collectibles come in various forms from a number of sources. This week, I received a nice collectible just for doing something I like to do: talk!

I have been a member of the Washington Numismatic Society for about a year and wanted to become involved. During the Whitman Show and the Maryland State Numismatic Association Annual Meeting, I was approached by the bulletin editor who is also a member of my home club sort of cornered me and convinced me to be the November program. He did not have to twist my arm (much) to get me to talk about Maryland Colonial Currency.

Not only have I posted articles about Maryland Colonial Currency (see this, this, that, and here), but I had published a full story in the Maryland Numismatist (Vol. 38, No. 1) that won the MSNA Article of the Year.

Since writing the article I had purchased a few notes and found more information. So I had taken the first presentation [PDF] I made to my coin club that inspired the articles and interest in Maryland colonial currency, and edited it for time and content.

After the presentation, I was presented with a bronze medal from WNS’s 75th Anniversary. WNS is the one of the oldest numismatic organizations in the area who celebrated their 75th anniversary in 2002. The medal is 38mm in diameter and 4mm at the thickest part of the design. It is nicely made by the Medallic Art Company of New York.

Doing this presentation not only reminded me that I have more research to fill in some of the details, but that I am missing notes in my collection. I also found a new group of collectors in the area to learn from, which is always good. I paid my dues for 2013 and hope to attend more meetings.

Numismatics at an Auto Show

My dream car… in model form!

You never know when a hobby would intersect with an interest. Of course the hobby is numismatics. The interest is cars. Not just any cars, but classic cars. I have a weak spot for the muscle cars of the early 1970s and just about any car built before 1960. In fact, my dream car is a red 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible. I cannot think of any car that screams American over-the-top solid engineering and styling of Harley Earle than of that 5,000 pound beast. General Motors sold the car for $7,400 in 1959 which would be $58,845.77 in 2012 dollars. Even though the Series 62 may be a little less expensive on the current classic car market, when you are looking at cars out of your price range why not go for the top of the line!

Saturday was the 2012 Rockville Antique and Classic Car Show, a yearly show supported by 25 local and regional car clubs. When I arrived around 1 o’clock I saw a field with more than 500 antique and classic cars. Although I was not interested in some cars, there were others that were absolutely stunning. While I did not find a 1959 Cadillac, there were a few cars that I would love to own. You can see some of the cars I found and a quick video of the inside of a Volkswagen Bus visit on my page at Photobucket.†

While the 1959 Cadillac is my dream car, my nostalgic car is a 1973 Plymouth Gold Duster. While it was not my first car, it ranks one of my favorites from my early days. This Gold Duster was “sunshine yellow” with the brown snake-skin three-quarter covered vinyl top. The 225 Hemi Slant 6 engine output 145 horsepower but was more than enough for this car especially since it did not have air conditioning! My father bought it as a new car in 1973 and I “inherited” it in 1980 while in college. Unfortunately, it met its demise on a rainy road while trying to avoid hitting a dog.

To satisfy my nostalgia, I was looking at the wares of the flea market dealers in the adjacent lot when I came across a brochure for the 1973 Gold Duster. “Get Ready to Stake Your Claim” screams the headline on the front cover. Open the brochure and it tells you that “You’ve Discovered Gold Duster.” While admiring the picture that reminded me of my youth, I noticed the coin image at the bottom right corner that said:

If you cannot read the image, it says:

BLAKE & COMPANY $20.00 GOLD PIECE
This gold coin is a replica of the fame Twenty Dollar California Gold Piece, struck in about 1855, that bought sustenance during the days of the great Gold Rush.
This is a replica of only two known specimens. The originals are so rare no value has been established.
Notice the very fine detail and workmanship. The press embossed on the coin is a good representation of what a coin press looked like in the 1800’s. The milling around the edge of the coin was done to prevent shaving the coin—thereby decreasing its value. The original coins were .900 pure gold.
You can make a complete collection of famous United States coins by consulting the back page of this booklet.

Interested in what this collection can be, I turned over the brochure see a 1973 advertisement for 12 “authentic replicas” of the Chrysler-Plymouth “Old West” Coin Collection. The collection appears to be replicas of various assay tokens from the famous gold assayers of the time. For $7.75 per set (or $40.39 today), you could have ordered a full set along with a vinyl/velour folder.

Chrysler-Plymouth “Old West” Coin Collection Order Form from 1973 Plymouth Gold Duster Brochure

At the intersection of cars and numismatics I found fascinating piece of automotive advertising history with a numismatic slant. I do not know if a version of this set has survived—an Internet search yielded more copies of the brochure—but it would be interesting to find a set.

† At the time this is posted, I have not labeled the images on Photobucket. I hope to finish that sometime this week.

Catching Up On Whitman’s Baltimore Show

Those following the weather-related events around Washington, DC have seen how a little wind can set the local electric companies into a tizzy. Most of us in the effected areas feel that the restoration experience more represents the Keystone Cops rather than a responsible utility company. The last few blog posts have been previously scheduled. Now that power is restored and the refrigerator has been cleaned and restocked, it is time to talk numismatics.

Before the storm, I attended the Whitman Baltimore Expo. While their June show may be the smallest of the three shows that are put on in Baltimore, it still remains a premier show on the east coast, only rivaling its other two shows and F.U.N. for being amongst the best of non-A.N.A. shows. This may be a biased view since the Baltimore Show was the first show I attended when I returned to numismatics following the untimely passing of my first wife. But I am still amazed how Whitman can put on a good show three-times per year!

Friday, after a morning appointment and a delay in leaving, I backed out of my garage and headed to the highway. Over the last year, there is a new highway that will bring me to I-95 a lot quicker than driving down to the Capital Beltway. The ride was a pleasure since it new highway is a toll road and people seem to be allergic to tolls. My problems began when I exited to I-95 North. An accident and two major construction projects extended the usual one-hour trip to nearly two-and-a-half hours! I should be used to this type of traffic living in the D.C.-area, known as the worst on the east coast, but Capital Hill is not the only place where one could find mindless acts.

I could not park in my usual location because it was full, so I was further delayed by trying to find parking near the convention center. Thankfully, my new hip allows me to walk further distances and I was only 35 minutes late for the talk by Don Kagin. While I did arrive in time to take some pictures (a very small sample are on Pinterest), I wish I could have been there for his entire talk.

Before walking the bourse floor, I did have business to conduct, some of which I will discuss at another time. Suffice to say that I took the opportunity to see some people, shake hands, and show my appreciation for their work. Amongst the people I was able to see was Michelle Coiron, Director of sales for Star-Spangled 200 and David Crenshaw, General Manager of Whitman Expos. Both do a great job for their organizations and deserve a sign of appreciation.

Then it was time to hit the bourse floor. As opposed to other times I was at the show, there seemed to be quite a bit activity even as the day wore on. I was pleased to see quite a number of people attended the show that late on a Friday. It keeps the dealers happy and at their tables. I really did not see an exodus begin until about 5:30, about a half-hour before closing.

I spoke with a few dealers who said that business was steady. Most of the coin dealers seemed to be happy while most of the currency dealers called the show a little slow. If anything, I was a little disappointed with some of the currency dealers. With my interest in Maryland colonial currency, I was looking at their inventory for something I could add to my collection. I did not find much colonial currency and what I did was not from Maryland. The only dealer who had any currency in stock from Maryland had 1774 notes, which are the easiest to find.

Since I was late, I passed a number of dealers I spoke with in the past so I could cover as much of the floor as possible. I was not in much a buying mood but I was able to find the 2012 silver one-ounce Chinese Panda and Australian Koala. Both beautiful coins and will be added to what I call my “silver dollar” collection—silver coins 38-40 millimeters in size, like the American Silver Eagle, British Britannia, and Canadian Maple Leaf.

Being in a good mood and wanting to do some thing different, I did spend a lot of time with the exonumia dealers. I saw some really wonderful medals, tokens, and encased coins that really piqued my interest. Rather than buying just anything, which I could have done given my good mood, I applied a little personal discipline and stuck to my goal of finding something neat at every show but limit it to fit in my collection of New York City-related numismatics.

While searching through one dealer’s stock I found my “oh neat” item from New York. What I found was made of pewter, 35½mm in diameter, 3⅓mm thick, and holed on the top. It became irresitable after reading the obverse that says, “Two Cities As One/New York/Brooklyn.” On the reverse in true Victorian style, it says “Souvenir of the Opening of the East River Bridge/May 24th, 1883/1867-1883.” In 1915, New York City renamed it the Brooklyn Bridge.

On May 24, 1883, thousands of people crowded lower Manhattan and Brooklyn for the grandest of all ceremonies from all over the area—even as far away as Philadelphia. The list of dignitaries was a Who’s Who of the political America that included President Chester A. Arthur, New York Governor Grover Cleveland, and New York City Mayor Franklin Edson. The carriage carrying President Arthur and Mayor Edson lead the parade surrounded by a very large cheering crowd.

At 1:50 PM, the processional arrived at the entrance of the new bridge, President Arthur and Mayor Edson left their carriage and crossed what was the world’s longest suspension bridge arm-in-arm to a cheering crowd who paid $2 for tickets to watch from the bridge. The band played Hail to the Chief as ships who came to the ceremony and anchored around the East River blew horns to honor the President. Navy ships who were invited to the ceremonies took turns giving 21-gun salutes.

When they arrive in Brooklyn, they were greeted by Brooklyn Mayor Seth Low The three men locked arms and marched to the Brooklyn Pier (today, the area of Brooklyn Bridge Park) to complete the ceremony dedicating the bridge to the people of the New York City and Brooklyn.

Growing up on Long Island, my late mother insisted that during some of our breaks from school that we play tourist and visit various places in and around New York City to learn about where we are from. During the trips to Rockefeller Center, a place I would work in the 1990s, we would visit the Chase Manhattan Bank Money Museum. Up until it was closed in 1977, it held one of the best collection of numismatic items outside of the Smithsonian Institute. Ironically, the Smithsonian was the recipient of some of the items in the museum following its closure. Another beneficiary was the American Numismatic Society who still retains their part of the Chase Manhattan Collection.

This museum was source of fascination, especially after I learned about collecting while searching through the change I made delivering the afternoon Newsday on Long Island. Somewhere, buried in a box, I have a pamphlet from one of my visits to the Chase Money Museum. I remember the cover was blue and it had a “money tree” on the front. As a youngster, that was significant because my father would lecture me by saying, “money doesn’t grow on trees.” Although the item was made to look like a tree with coins coming off the branches, it was a source of comic relief at home. Otherwise, I do not have a souvenir from the museum. Until now!

Searching through boxes from the same dealer I bought the Brooklyn Bridge medal, I found an encased Lincoln Cent from the Chase Money Museum. In fact, I found several from various dates. Of the ones I found, I bought one with a 1956-D Lincoln Cent that still had its red luster! Even though I could not have visited the museum in 1956—it was before I was born—it was the only coin that looked uncirculated. Rather than try to find one that would have been from the time I could have visited, I picked the better looking coin. Now if I could find my pamphlet, it would make a great part of my New York City collection.

My next show will be the American Numismatic Association’s World’s Fair of Money in August at the Philadelphia Convention Center. I will have a lot planned for those few days and should make for an interesting story. Stay tuned!

Numismatics Is More Than 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

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 as 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 advertize. 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 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 cancelled 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 other representative service. Challenge coins are traditionally given by a commander in recognition of special achievement or can be exchange 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 were 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 issues, there are 94 recognized notes available for collectors. Most notes are very affordable and accessible to the interested collector.

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