coinsbygary's Blog

17 Jul 2019

The Very First Coin I Purchased and a New Toy!

Coins-United States | coinsbygary

Recently I bought a new macro lens for my camera. The lens is a Laowa V-DX 60MM F2.8 Macro 2:1. Now I know I already have a macro lens but if I am ever going to take my coin photography on the road, I will need a much more versatile lens.

For versatility this lens is it. I can focus in as close as 18.5cm and as far as infinity. At 18.5cm I have 2-1 magnification. The only drawbacks are that I have to focus manually and set the aperture manually. No big deal on those since I already do that. The big plus is that one lens will do a 15mm gold dollar and a 131mm medal from my camera stand.

As with any new toy of this nature there is a learning curve to get the pictures just right. This gave me an opportunity to upgrade many of my poorer quality pictures. Looking through my collection I decided to re-image the first coin I ever bought, an 1881-S proof-like Morgan Dollar. I bought this coin as a teen and still own it today as a 60-something retiree.

Oh the memories! I bought the Morgan for only $12 along with a gold-plated Ike dollar, A 1953c star crisp-uncirculated $2 bill, and a number of replica fractional California gold pieces. Of these I still own the $2 and probably the others but I can’t find them.

What was really cool about this coin purchase was that I didn’t buy the coins from a dealer but from a camera store! I have always loved photography and in high school we had a fully equipped dark room that I could use. For me to be in one place that had both photography supplies and coins was tantamount to a kid in a candy store!

That this Morgan Dollar only cost me 6 hours of “busting suds” for a restaurant at $2/hour was incredible. I just couldn’t believe it cost so little for a proof-like coin that was silver and nearly 100 years old. Oh the naivety of youth. Little did I know then that 81-S Morgan’s are quite common and inexpensive to obtain. However, at the time I thought I pulled off the coin purchasing coup of the century!

I have never regretted buying that coin and I’ll probably die owning it. Some time back I sent it to PCGS for grading and they sent it back as cleaned without putting it in a holder. Back then they didn’t do details-grading. On the obverse of my coin you will notice cleaning hairlines under the “us” of Pluribus. Oddly, I didn’t notice the cleaning until PCGS pointed it out. This was only the beginning of my education identifying coin cleaning BEFORE sending them in for grading.

Later I sent my 81-S Morgan to a company call NTC (Numistrust Corp.) for grading. They didn’t document the cleaning and sent it back as MS-63 DMPL. I agree with this grade and have never cracked it out and probably never will. Over the years my 1881-S has lightly toned. Incidentally, since then I only send coins to NGC for grading and will buy only PCGS and NGC certified coins.

At any rate thanks for taking a walk with me down memory lane! For your viewing pleasure please enjoy a picture of the first coin I ever bought taken with my new toy! Also, for your viewing pleasure is a close-up of an 1880/79-CC VAM-7 Morgan dollar. As you can see my new toy will do nicely. Gary



Level 5

Nice coin!


Level 6

Your photo's are always amazing! Have fun with the new lens ; ) Beautiful Morgan Dollar!


Level 6

I am VERY jealous of your new lens. I too started photography at an early age, junior high age. My dad taught me the basics and we converted a shed into a darkroom. The rest is history. From contact printing to a big Beseler 23 C enlarger with a color head. From black and white to color slides to color prints. I always loved macro shots and had a great collection of a few lens and filters. The downside is time has passed me by. I can't afford to get all I want in digital. So I make do with a Walmart Nikon cheapo and a cheap digital USB camera/microscope. I also have a real binocular microscope with a cracked and dirty lens. I use a, no kidding, toilet paper roll tube and tape my Nikon to it. Hey, it works. Enough about me. Great shots and story. Keep this up and you are going to be a VAM guy.. Thanks Gary


Level 5

Nice images. The first coin will always be the first coin regardless.


Level 5

I don't spend nearly enough time with my camera. I have so many coins that need updated, or worse, initial photographs. The pictures are exceptional.

Enjoy the new toy!(rhyme intended)

It's Mokie

Level 6

That 1881 is still a beauty Gary and such a wonderful reminder of your numismatic beginnings. Love your new lens, that 1880 just pops and like Mike mentioned, you can now become the Variety King. Thanks for sharing your story and your new lens.


Level 7

Enjoy your new lens. You will see things you never saw before and you should check on some coins for varieties. You never know. This is how they find them. Lots of luck with it.

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