Trying to assess the short-term future of our life during this stage of the pandemic has many of us wondering when the numismatic shows will restart? Smaller shows have found ways of being held with required social distancing. A few medium-sized shows have moved to larger venues to allow for social distancing, but what about the big shows.
Organizers of the significant shows canceled their shows while the pandemic caused problems. As the vaccination rate has increased and the infection rates decreased, there is hope that life will return to normal.
In the first sign of the post-pandemic life, Florida United Numismatists continue to plan to hold Summer FUN starting on July 8 in Orlando. Florida health officials have lifted crowd restrictions that would prevent the show from happening.
It is a different situation in Rosemont, Illinois. Currently, the Stephens Convention Center, where the World’s Fair of Money is scheduled for August 10-14, remains closed. Illinois state health officials continue to restrict large gatherings throughout the state.
Although the ANA has not said anything about the World’s Fair of Money, the National Sports Collectors Convention (NSCC) issued a statement warning that their show could be canceled. The NSCC, known as The National, is to the sports collecting business as the World’s Fair of Money is to numismatics. The National is scheduled to be held at the Stephens Convention Center July 28 through August 1, before the World’s Fair of Money.
According to The National’s organizers, the Illinois Department of Public Health will publish their rules about large conventions on or around June 1.
Since the ANA is not communicating with its members about the World’s Fair of Money, watch what The National is saying. If The National is canceled, the World’s Fair of Money will likely be canceled.
The 1935 Peace Dollar was the last silver dollar struck for circulation. The dollar coin was not very popular because of its size and weight compared with the paper dollar. After silver prices rose and silver dollars were disappearing from circulation, there was a need to mint more coins.
By 1969, the primary customer using the dollar coin was Las Vegas casinos. To satisfy the demand, Mint Director Mary Brooks proposed to issue new dollar coins. Congress rejected Brooks’ proposal to issue silver-clad dollars. Eventually, Congress passed the law to use the same copper-nickel clad composition as other coins.
The selection of World War II general and President Dwight D. Eisenhower was easier to justify following his death on March 28, 1969. To honor Eisenhower, the reverse of the coin would celebrate the formation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), founded in 1958 during his administration. Mint Chief Engraver Frank Gasparro used the Apollo 11 mission insignia for the reverse design.
In 1975 and 1976, the reverse of the quarter, half-dollar, and dollar coins were redesigned for the United States Bicentennial. The U.S. Mint and the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission held a design competition for the redesign. Dennis R. Williams, a 22-year-old art student, submitted the winning design.
When engraving the dies, Gasparo simplified some of the design so that it would strike adequately. Initial tests did not show any problems. However, when the coins were struck in production, the letters on the copper-nickel circulating coins did not strike well. Gasparo changed the letters by making them thinner and sharper, giving collectors two types of Bicentennial Eisenhower Dollars. The Type 1 dollars were struck in 1975. The Type 2 dollars in 1976.
The original reverse with the Apollo 11 mission insignia returned on the 1977 and 1978 coins.
With the cost of copper and nickel rising and the desire to have more dollar coins in circulation, the Eisenhower Dollar was replaced by the Susan B. Anthony dollar. The Susie B. was smaller and used the Apollo 11 mission insignia on the reverse, but it was confused with the quarter and rejected by the public.
A complete collection of business strike Eisenhower Dollars consists of 16 coins. Uncirculated silver coins struck using a 40% silver-clad alloy was for four years. These are called “Blue Ikes” describing the Blue Packs similar to those used by the GSA for circulating silver dollars. An uncirculated silver-clad coin was available in the three-coin Bicentennial Silver Set. There are five silver-clad uncirculated coins.
From 1971-1974, the U.S. Mint issued silver-clad proof Eisenhower Dollars using the similar plastic lens that the GSA used for the Carson City Morgan silver dollars. The lenses were packed in brown boxes giving their nickname “Brown Ikes.” Copper-nickel clad proof coins were available in annual proof sets. An additional silver-clad proof coin was available in the three-coin Bicentennial Silver Proof Set. There are five silver-clad proof coins of the 11 proof coins struck by the U.S. Mint.
An advanced collector may consider expanding their collection to include the varieties of the 1972 dollars. Because of the difficulties in striking the silver-clad coins, the image of the Earth did not strike well. During the year, Gasparo tried twice to fix the problem giving the coin three distinct types.
A complete collection of Eisenhower Dollars consists of 32 coins. Because the coin was challenging to strike, finding coins in the highest grades is expensive. But collectors can assemble an attractive set for a reasonable amount of money. If you wanted to add the three varieties in 1972, the Type II version is scarcer and might be more expensive than the rest of the set and maybe a nice challenge.
By 1964, the price of silver skyrocketed, making U.S. coins worth less than the metals used to make them. The economics led to a fiscal crisis that had the government rethinking the monetary system.
Silver coins were no longer required to back the U.S. dollar. Along with a law passed by Congress that ordered the General Services Administration to consolidate the government’s real estate usage came the discovery of the largest hoard in history.
Before the GSA started to clean out government-owned buildings, the government knew that they had stored silver coins in a few places. They did not know how many there were and the number of places they were stored.
Congress passed laws that caused over-production and hoarding. The Coinage Act of 1873, also called “The Crime of ’73,” caused a withdrawal of silver from the market. The Bland-Allison Act overturned it in 1878 that required the Treasury to purchase silver from U.S. mines to strike dollars for circulation. Since most silver mining was in Nevada, the Carson City Mint was striking more coins than needed.
The Sherman Silver Purchase Act became law in 1890. It raised the monthly amount of silver the Treasury purchased to 4.5 million ounces per month. The goal was to boost the economy to stem inflation. The law caused more dollars produced in Carson City with no place to distributed them.
To help Great Britain fund their war efforts, the Pittman Act authorized the melting of 350 million silver dollars to be sold at $1.00 per ounce. By the end of the war, over 270 million coins were melted for bullion. It was not enough to deplete the storage. The Act required the Mint to strike new coins with the silver repaid by Britain by 1933.
After several years of cleaning out vaults in different government-owned buildings, the GSA found 2,825,219 Morgan Dollars with the CC mintmark. They also found 112,145 coins from other branch mints. Within those additional coins, the GSA found 84,165 circulated Seated Liberty, Morgan, and Peace Dollars.
The government did not know what to do with the coins. Since they were in Treasury’s vaults, it was up to the Treasury to decide what to do with them. The Treasury’s role changed with the passage of the Federal Reserve Bank Act of 1913 and said that the best they could do was melt the coins. The U.S. Mint did not want the coins back since their job is to produce the coins. The Federal Reserve claimed it had no jurisdiction over the coins since the production and storage occurred before the formation of the Fed.
The GSA was the only agency that had experience liquidating government surplus. But these coins were not ordinary. Many collectors predicted that the sale of these coins would significantly change the numismatic market.After the sale was over, the once rare 1882-1884 Carson City Dollars became more available. For example, the GSA found 962,638 of the 1,360,000 minted 1884-CC dollars in storage. It changed the rarity of the coins and the prices of previous purchases plunged.
To sell these coins, the GSA created a special hardpack to hold the circulated coins. The hard-pack would be placed into a box with a certificate of authenticity, and the coins were made available through a mail-bid auction sale.
Coins struck in Carson City would be housed in a plastic case called a lens that said “Carson City” across the top. Other uncirculated coins were placed in a generic case. These coins are called GSA Morgans or GSA Non-CC Morgans.
For circulated coins, the GSA created the Soft Pack. The coins were sealed in mylar with a plastic token and placed in a blue envelope. Collectors refer to these coins as GSA Blue Packs. The GSA did not keep records of the number of Blue Packs sold. However, some have estimated that the GSA created about 100,000 Blue Packs.
From 1972 through 1980, the GSA held a series of eight sales. Most were mail-bid type auctions. The last two in 1980 were call-in bidding sales.
My father was cleaning his house, preparing to move into a condo before the pandemic shutdowns and found his GSA Morgan Dollars. He mailed the coins to me for my collection. Three are Carson City dollars, and one struck in New Orleans. My father purchased the coins during the first two GSA sales. He said that he tried to purchase more during the 1980 sales but was outbid.
I will eventually send the coins to NGC to have them graded in their original holder. For now, I found an online seller with four empty GSA boxes. Since I have the original Certificates of Authenticity, I will have complete packages.
GSA Preview Movie
When my father’s firstborn son appeared in 1960, he planned two ceremonies. The first occurred eight days after the birth. Formally called the brit milah or bris in Yiddish, the male child undergoes a ritual circumcision. The second comes 30 days after the birth, called the pidyon haben, or “redemption of the firstborn son.”
For this ceremony, the kohen, the priestly descendent of Aaron, takes the child, and the parents must pay 5 Shekels to redeem their son. The ceremony is to recognize that the firstborn of Egypt were slain before the exodus.
A modern interpretation of the 5 shekels is the use of five silver dollar coins. In other countries, they used five silver coins representing the unit of currency for their country. Since most countries have converted to using base-metal currency, the Bank of Israel issues silver Pidyon Haben coins for Jewish people to use.
Following my father’s passing from COVID-19, we cleaned out his house and found a separate box from the rest of his coin collection. Opening the box, I found ten coins wrapped in tissue. There were seven Morgan Dollars and three Peace Dollars. Under the coins was a paper in my late mother’s handwriting with the English and Hebrew names if their first child was a boy or a girl.
The box contained other hints making it clear that these were the coins used for my pidyon haben. There was also a note that said “Uncle Henry.”Uncle Henry was married to my grandmother’s sister, Ruthie. He was a kohen, a descendent of Aaron’s tribe. Uncle Henry cradled me in his arms for the ceremony and held me for the five shekel ransom. After my father allegedly said, “you can keep him,” my father paid the five shekels (Morgan Dollars) and redeemed me.
Uncle Henry and Aunt Ruthie passed in 1999. Sometimes, Aunt Ruthie would joke that Uncle Henry should have kept me.
I do not know which of the five coins were used for my pidyon haben, but I am sure he did not use the Peace Dollars. He would have used five matching coins. However, the ten silver dollar coins will remain as a set as part of my collection.
This year, National Coin Week celebrates the anniversary of the last of the large dollar coins. One hundred years ago, the U.S. Mint brought back the Morgan dollar while coming up with a new design that eventually became the Peace Dollar. Also, 50 years ago, the U.S. Mint began production of the Eisenhower dollar. These three coins were 38.1 mm in diameter and were the last of the large circulating coins.
As part of the Nation Coin Week Celebration, the American Numismatic Association is offering a discount on the GOLD (digital) membership. For $5, you can join the ANA for one year.
In addition to being the world’s largest numismatic organization, the ANA offers collectors resources to learn more about your collection. Aside from the shows, my three favorite resources are:
- The Numismatist. There are a lot of great writers talking about numismatics. The Numismatist brings you the best of the writing that can inspire you to learn more or spend money on new collectibles. With the Gold Membership, The Numismatist is delivered electronically so you never have to worry about it being lost or damaged in transit. Since the ANA has digitized every issue dating back to 1888, it serves as a historical reference of numismatic knowledge. Members can access the digital archives from any computer and there is an app for tablets.
- The Dwight N. Manley Numismatic Library. If it is not printed in The Numismatist, the Library has more than 128,000 items that members can check out. All you pay is shipping, and you can check out books, catalogs, and other resources. I have a box of books I am going through now!
- Directly submit coins to NGC. As an ANA member, you can apply for an account with NGC and send your coins directly for grading and encapsulation. Currency collectors can submit their collectibles to PMG. You will have to pay for the grading service but you can submit without becoming an NGC or PNG member.
Offer expires on April 24, 2021 or when 25 new members join only at info.money.org/ncw-2021-barman.
WELCOME TO NATIONAL COIN WEEK!
Starting today, April 18, 2021, through April 24, National Coin Week celebrates “Money, Big and Bold,” the history of the large dollar coin. The influence for this year’s NCW theme is the 100th anniversary of the revival of the Morgan Dollar and the first issue of the Peace Dollar. It is also the 50th anniversary of the first Eisenhower Dollar, the last of the large dollar coins.
The dollar coin has had a fascinating history in the United States. Before paper money and during the wild days referred to as Broken or Obsolete Banknotes, before the National Bank Act of 1863, coins were considered safer than the barely regulated paper. As with many policies of the time, paper money was more in favor in the eastern United States than in the west. The west preferred the coins.
In 1918, Congress passed the Pittman Act, whose purpose was to supply the British with silver to help with their war effort. When the British repaid the United States, the government had to produce silver coins to replace coins melted to create the bullion shipped to Britain.
In 1921, the U.S. Mint had not produced a silver dollar since 1904 and did not have dies to produce coins. Chief Engraver and the coin’s designer Charles Morgan created new master dies to produce coins.
When the U.S. Mint discussed creating the new dies, former ANA President Farman Zerbe presented a paper at the 1920 World’s Fair of Money proposing the Peace Dollar. Congress eventually agreed, which led to the committee that picked Anthony di Franchisci’s design. Production of the Peace Dollar began in 1921.
The Peace Dollar almost made an appearance in 1964 when Congress proposed striking a new dollar coin. But the silver shortage and the end of using silver for circulating coinage ended this program. Allegedly, the U.S. Mint destroyed all 1964 Peace Dollar patterns.
In 1969, Mint Directory Mary Brooks wanted to issue dollar coins. As part of the negotiations with Congress to authorize a new coin, she suggested honoring the former World War II General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The suggestion convinced Congress to pass the legislation, and the U.S. Mint began Eisenhower Dollar production in 1971.
In 1975, the U.S. Mint was concerned with the level of resources required to produce the coin. Negotiations began to produce a smaller dollar coin. The results of these negotiations led to the introduction of the Susan B. Anthony Dollar in 1979, ending the production of the large circulating dollar coin.
All of the posts this week will be about large dollar coins except for Monday. Monday’s post will have a special announcement.
And now the news…