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Well worn Copper's Blog

08 Feb 2021

A Slab Crossover from ANACS to NGC

| Well worn Copper

I recently purchased a 1935 Old Spanish Trail commemorative half dollar which had been previously slabbed by ANACS in a blue holder. I'm pretty much an NGC guy by choice, but I have no problem with PCGS either. With the coin being the semi-key of the classic silver series, I had considered having it crossed-over to an NGC holder someday. Upon receiving the coin, I noticed the plastic (slab) had some hazing in a corner. The coin itself was fine, but the slab quickly became more and more unattractive, so I quickly sent it in to NGC. The submission included other coins, and when NGC received them they emailed my submission listing. Imagine my surprise when the 1935 Spanish Trail piece was not listed. I immediately emailed NGC, asking them to confirm they had received it along with the other coins. They had, and explained any coin slabbed other than PCGS for crossover consideration first had to be seen by the graders, even before it was cracked out of the slab, to even be considered gradable. This surprised me. First, it shows NGC is confident with PCGS, even though it is a major competitor. Second, it was a statement that anything else that crosses their desk which is graded by ANACS, ICG, or anyone lower than that, is questionable. Once the graders allowed it for grading, the coin was included in my submission listing, then cracked out, and returned to the grading room again to be properly graded and slabbed. Quite a journey! I have to say I was impressed with NGC's quality. Now about that old blue ANACS holder: I gotta say it was not an attractive slab, and I can see why they eventually went to the current yellow/gold. The ANACS blue holder looked like one of those cheap trinkets you find in a McDonald's Happy Meal, and was just not worth framing a $900+ coin with. Sad to say, my dental floss dispenser looks better.

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23 Jan 2021

Nearing the Summit: My Silver Classic Commemorative Collection

| Well worn Copper

This past week I pulled the trigger and purchased a 1935 Hudson half dollar and a 1935 Old Spanish Trail half as well. Both are considered semi-key in the classic silver commemorative series with mintages at only 10,008 each. Both were also MS64, although the OST issue was encapsulated in an old blue ANACS slab, which to tell the truth is damn ugly, and will be soon heading out to NGC for a makeover. With these two additions I am within one coin, the elusive 1928 Hawaiian, for completion of a silver classic commemorative type series. Aside from a complete Sacajawea Dollar series (to date) I've never really completed a set of anything in all my years of collecting, so this is quite an accomplishment for me. By a "Type set" I am talking about an example of each and every design, but not complete year sets, such as the eight years of Oregon Trail issues. But both Arkansas designs are included, as well of a few others which I've always considered part of the classic series. These include the Swedish 2 Kroner issued alongside the 1936 Delaware issue, as well the three-coin Philippine Commonwealth issue from 1936. (I've never really liked the 1925 Norse medal, and don't include it because it isn't a coin.) All in all, everything so far totals out to about $13,000, and I still have to get the Hawaiian! As for the 1935 Hudson, I've never really liked the design and Chester Beach has done much better things, but to complete a set you've got to bite a few bullets. What I also know is sometimes you have to wait for "your coin" to finally come around. As an example, I passed up plenty of 1900 Lafayette dollars and 1915 Panama pacific issues which had been cleaned before finally buying a problem-free piece. I now wait for the funds for a Hawaiian issue to materialize before I can finally mount the summit (I feel like Sir Edmund Hillary on Everest!). And after that, then what? Luckily, there's always something else to do in numismatists . See ya at the top!

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30 Dec 2020

"Criminal" movie with a numismatic twist.

| Well worn Copper

Found an old numismatic-related movie on DVD this past week. "Criminal" featured actor John C. Reilly and was released by Warner Brothers in 2004. The storyline involves an elaborate scam involving a rare 19th century silver certificate note being offered to a millionaire currency collector for $750,000. The movie was pretty good and involved counterfeiting with a high resolution printer. Even the expert brought in to certify the note was in on it (Definitely not a NGC or PCGS guy). Always fun to point out the flaws too, such as not buying an uncertified piece of rare currency for $750,000 in a hotel room from strangers. It might be of interest to fellow members and worth sitting down with on a cold, quiet evening. I'm always on the look out for movies with a numismatic twist.Heck, it beats watching Rick Tomaska again.

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27 Dec 2020

New 2021 Quarter Reverse Announced

| Well worn Copper

The U.S. Mint released photos of the new 2021 quarter reverse on Christmas day. It will feature Washington crossing the Delaware and will be the sole reverse change until something new comes along, although quite a few collectors are betting on changes when the 2026 sesquicentennial rolls around. I have to say it's a nice looking design. Take note the original uncluttered pre-1999 obverse design has returned. I would have liked to see a new obverse rendition of Washington included (such as Laura Fraser's) or from any of the mint's new artist's, but perhaps I'm asking too much. I'd also like to see additional changes on other U.S. coinage soon, such as revamping the tired reverse of the Jefferson nickel (the one dimensional view of Monticello is monotonous) and a new reverse on the Kennedy half dollar as well as the Roosevelt dime. They do in for the Sacajawea dollars, so why not others?

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12 Dec 2020

Queen Elizabeth II banknotes and coinage; has anyone ever attempted a complete set?

| Well worn Copper

I recently purchased a copy of a reference book of Queen Elizabeth banknote portraits by Peter Eu and Ben Chiew. The book is interesting in the fact that it is (so far) the definitive reference work of every banknote bearing the engraved image of Queen Elizabeth II. And when you think about it that's quite a feat. Elizabeth has reigned (or ruled) since 1952, so for the past 68 years countless banknotes from numerous UK Commonwealths have carried her image. This made me wonder if anyone has ever completed a complete set of QEII banknotes or coinage? Think about it. You'd have to have a complete set of everything Great Britain, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, Belize, Bahamas, Australia, Hong Kong, Cook Island, East Caribbean States, and other commonwealth members have issued since then (somewhere around about 20 countries in all). To attempt such a set would be on the same Herculean scale that Louis Eliasberg did when he completed the only complete set of U.S. coinage back in the 1950's. Anyway, the book is very interesting and features color plates and is over 200 pages. Copies can be found for around $20, which is much cheaper than the deep pockets (not to mention years) a complete collection would cost you to assemble.

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13 Nov 2020

Will there be a Biden Inaugural medal?

| Well worn Copper

Looks like president-elect Biden will finally be getting his own Inaugural Medal next year, should he chose to. Biden will join former president Nixon as being the only two presidents to have their own medal as well as to have been depicted on an inaugural medal while previously serving as vice-president. In Nixon's case it was the 1957 Eisenhower 2nd term medal, and Biden with the 2013 Obama 2nd term medal. Tradition dictates the vice-president is usually pictured on the 2nd term medal. Collectors of Inaugural medals are a patient bunch, waiting 4 years between official offerings. However, the recent introduction of prototypes and patterns from competing mints also begin appearing, which adds variety to inaugural collections.

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05 Nov 2020

Old Plastic packaging from the Mint

| Well worn Copper

Recently I purchased a 1977 Assay Commission medal (the last year they were struck, and only year they were available for sale directly from the mint) and it came with the original Mint packaging. It always makes my hair stand on end when a coin or medal has been left in soft plastic for 43 years. In this case, the plastic was hazy and not looking so great. We are all familiar what PVC holders can do to a piece over time so I immediately removed the medal. Once removed, the medal displayed a faint bit of haze that I can probably attribute to the plastic. The breaking down of the plastic is noticeable when placed next to the medal, and especially when placed over it (you can't even make out the lettering). I remember the US Mint shipped medals this way long ago, and wonder if they still do? Also, does anyone know whether the plastic used is better or worse than the PVC stuff we're taught to avoid?

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07 Oct 2020

Figuring Out Your Way Around the Red Book As a Kid.

| Well worn Copper

I was using my most recent copy of the Red Book the other day (for about the billionth time) and it occurred to me that I have developed a real history with it over the years. The Red Book contains a lot of information to the new or novice collector and it takes time to digest everything ,much less find your way around. As a collector over the past 50 years I tend to forget this. My first Red Book was an 18th edition (1965) that my father somehow had buried in our den bookshelf. As a kid I stuck to regular mint issues beginning with small cents (the most I could afford at the time) and would occasionally thumb my way up to silver dollars, but that was it. If Whitman made a folder for it, I was familiar with them, period. The gold section was interesting, but was still way out of bounds, but I knew maybe someday I'd own a few. I also didn't understand Trade Dollars and why they were listed in-between the Seated Liberty and Morgan dollars. A lot of the front and back matter such as Colonials did not capture my interest until the 1976 bicentennial. I was just hitting my teenage years and had starting adding to my numismatic library (mainly stuff by Don Taxay), which helped to fuel my interests. As embarrassed as I am to tell it today, I also didn't understand commemoratives at all as a kid. I think it was the word (commemoratives) because it was big and hard to pronounce much less spell. Plus I had never seen any of these strange coins anywhere. Today, commemoratives are my most enjoyable category, and I am within three issues of completing a classic 1892-1954 silver set! As for the "hodge podge" that fell behind the commemorative section, I eventually came around to that stuff too (Philippine issues, hard times tokens). Looking back, I don't think anyone ever immediately absorbs the entire Red Book, and that it takes time to really understand all of it, especially when you're young. I'd also like to hear other collector's stories about what the Red Book meant to them as a kid, and how they maneuvered their way around it over time. And if you got into collecting thru another book besides the Red Book, I like to know what it was.

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20 Sep 2020

My Junk Box Coins are now Someone's Buried Treasure

| Well worn Copper

I was out in the backyard this morning digging up the rootball of an old tree. While taking a break I was thinking of how to fill the hole back in, since the rootball I had removed was pretty big and the hole would need additional fill. I was drinking a Snapple fruit drink and figured I could just toss it in the hole when I was done. The bottle was glass and then it hit me: Why not fill it with some coins from my junk box? So I did. I included an assortment of 20th century foreign coins along with a Zimbabwe one million dollar inflationary note (USD value: about 40 cents) for a wow factor. I also included a few medals and larger coins in a small cardboard container along with a note telling who I was and today's date. After wrapping everything up with shipping tape and a freezer bag, in the hole they went. Someday, someone will find it long after I'm gone and maybe It will produce the spark that leads to a lifetime of collecting. At the very least it's a pretty good way to purge myself of odd, inexpensive (but interesting) foreign stuff that really had no place in my collection. Besides, who out there doesn't like finding buried treasure?

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19 Sep 2020

Assistant Secretary & Under Secretary Treasury Medals of the U.S. Mint

| Well worn Copper

I recently purchased a 1932 Ferry K. Heath Assistant Secretary of the Treasury bronze medal. It had been on one of my "saved searches" on eBay for years and I quickly decided to snatch it. Little has been written about "assistant secretary" and "under secretary" medals, probably because they were not struck in large numbers (as treasury secretary medals are) and were only done so briefly in the early 1930's. Sadly, the best information about mintages or numbers can be found in scant auction records whenever one comes up for sale. Typical numbers are usually in the dozens, of that at all. I have never found a reasonable explanation as why they were struck at all, save being a reflection of the bureaucracy at the time. I also read that they were sometimes struck off for the pleasure of the person honored, as long as they paid the mint for the total medals struck. Anyway, Ferry K. Heath was assistant secretary for Herbert Hoover's administration. The medal was designed by chief engraver John Sinnock in 1932. Exactly why Sinnock was designing such an insignificant medal during the depths of the depression begs to be answered. Maybe someday we'll find out more about these things. Such information would be greatly appreciated when and if ever published in a book on U.S. Mint medals. Until then there is R. W. Julian's masterwork "Medals Of The United States Mint 1792-1892" which was published by the Token & Medal Society (TAMS) in 1977 and limited to 3000 copies. A 2nd volume, spanning 1893 to present day, would probably be revealing and would shed light on interesting and obscure pieces such as these. And to those who avoid collecting U.S. Mint medals because they are continuously being re-struck in large numbers, you are mostly correct, but there are hidden gems out there worth looking for. Happy hunting!

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