Well worn Copper's Blog

06 Jun 2021

1915 $50 Pan-Pacific Commemoratives; Forever Out of Reach

| Well worn Copper

Now that I have completed a set of Classic U.S. Commemoratives in silver, I have not even remotely considered chasing down a set in gold. The one reason being that I would never be able to complete it. The main obstacle of course, are the 1915 Panama -Pacific $50 round and octagon pieces. These coins are out of reach of the average collector today. But they were also out of reach of average collectors when issued back in 1915. One of the main reason U.S. commemoratives stuck with the half dollar because was it was affordable, even when given the average surcharge of 50 cents over face value. So I cannot imagine what was going through the minds of the U.S. Mint when they decided to issue a $50 piece. When adjusted to inflation, $50 in 1915 was valued at $1,322 in 2021. And since these coins were issued at $100 each, that $100 was adjusted to $2,644 in today's dollars. Try to imagine the mint issuing a $1,500 face value coin today, and offering it to collectors for $3,000! Any takers? That's pretty much what collectors were faced with back then. According to The Numismatist, there were about 5,000 serious coin collectors in the United States in1915. Searching thru pocket change for 1909-S VDB's were still the big thing, especially to younger collectors. $50 gold pieces were a sure way to scare off future collectors, but luckily it didn't hurt the hobby. I recently read Q. David Bower's book on the History of U.S. Gold Coinage and was amazed to discover average collectors did not collect $20 Double Eagles prior to 1933, because the face value was too great to to put aside for a piece. I guess what brought all of this to my attention are the current problems with the Mint's 2021 Morgan and Peace Dollars. Sometimes it seems that while the mint is pursuing the want's and need's of collectors, sometimes it also slams the door on their foot.

10 May 2021

1956 Franklin Medal by Laura Gardin Frazer

| Well worn Copper

I picked up a copy of "The Medals Of Franklin" (Greenslet & Schenkman) which was published by TAMS in 1993. There is a medal by Laura Gardin Frazer which was struck at the U.S. Mint in 1956 in bronze and silver versions. First: It's a beautiful medal. Second: It's by Laura Gardin Frazer! I haven't seen this medal until now, and am unable to locate an example. Would anyone have any information about it? It reads "Medal of the Congress" on the obverse and "Wise and Good Men are the Strength of a Nation" on the reverse. Mrs. Frazer was a national treasure, and anything touched by her is worth looking into.

09 May 2021

International Nickel Pattern and an NGC Crossover

| Well worn Copper

A few months ago I purchased a 1964 International Nickel Company private pattern. International Nickel was a private company that made a noteworthy effort to try to secure different alloy compositions from the U.S. Mint during the 1965 change from silver coinage to clad. They went as far to secure the services of former chief engraver Gilroy Roberts, who engraved a highly professional obverse and reverse design for presentation purposes. In the end International Nickel's efforts were in vain, and the mint went with their own cupronickel composition. While these pieces are officially private patterns,they make up part of the pattern story from the 1960's, and are quite affordable compared to official mint struck patterns. This piece was encapsulated by ANACS when purchased and graded MS64. The slab was undersized, and when stored in a NGC storage box, seemed to disappear. I sent it in to NGC for a crossover and when it came back it not only looked better, but they had graded it a MS66! Needless to say, the crossover fee was well worth it. NGC also included Burdette numbers on the slab, while ANACS had listed the old Pollock numbers. Andrew Pollock's pattern book came out int he 1990's, Burdette's book was published in 2019, and is superior as well as a great read. (The title is: Private Pattern and Related Pieces: International Nickel & Gould Incorporated by Roger W. Burdette) All International Nickel pieces are scarce, and expect to pay somewhere between $300-450. Until I someday obtain an official U.S. Mint pattern, this one will do nicely.

30 Apr 2021

"Treasure in The Cellar" Book

| Well worn Copper

Found this during a search of coin books and had to have it. It's about two boys who found a bunch of gold coins while playing in a basement of an old house back in 1934. It goes into detail about what happened to the kids and their fight to legally claim the coins, as well as the claims of others, such as previous owners and tenants. Finding a cache of gold coins was every kids dream, it seems, although I'm 59 and I still dream it. Leonard Augsburger is the author and it was published (paperback) by the Maryland Historical Society in 2008.

26 Apr 2021

Regrets? I've Had a Few. A Story of Seller's Remorse.

| Well worn Copper

Did you ever have something in your collection that you sold for whatever reason, only to live to regret it? Well, this is my story. Years ago I happened to come into a pair of plaster models for Skylab medals which were issued by Medallic Art Company back in the early 1980's. They were on eBay (don't ask me how I found them, I don't remember) and I bought the pair for about $60. After keeping them out of the way and up in the closet, I sold them, mainly because I was afraid they'd start to crumble or accidentally break (they were plaster after all). Since then I realized I'd probably never come across original plasters ever again, and now regret selling them. The real interest was how they were a part of the medal making process. Believe it or not, it took a while to find a buyer for them. I even put them in a exonumia auction but they failed to get any bids. The lesson here is: sometimes the oddest stuff in your collection is also the coolest. If anyone else out there has regrets, or stories of seller's remorse, feel free to share. After all, misery loves company.

11 Apr 2021

Early Examples U.S. Coinage in Mint State: How Did They End Up Here?

| Well worn Copper

One part of American coin collecting that has always intrigued me concerns the existence of early examples of U.S. coinage which have somehow survived in mint state. By "early examples" I am talking about anything pre-1825. When you consider that coin collecting did not really get started in this country until the 1850's, with the elimination of the large cent, it amazes me that somehow certain coins were never used in commerce. "Workingman coins", such as dimes, quarters, and half dollars, were a considerable part of everyday commerce, and not sheltered or put aside like larger denominations such as silver dollars and gold coinage often were. So if collectors were few, who or how did these coins be put aside to remain in their mint state? Surely not every mint-state coin rested in the bottom of a mint sewn bag that somehow found it's way in the back of a deep bank vault, to lie undisturbed for decades (and roll collecting didn't come on the scene until the 1960's.) When you consider these examples survived the Hard Times era of the 1830's, when pocket change was scarce, it becomes even more fascinating. Although there were early collectors out there such as Joseph Mickley, they surely couldn't put everything aside. I recently purchased a 1806 Draped Bust half dollar in EF condition. The thought that it eventually found it's way into my collection simply because someone put it aside because it "looked pretty" over 200 years ago, instead of using it for the purchase of essentials in a hard scrabbled economy, always amazes me. Such things beg for answers. And I guess that's' why I'm pleasantly hooked.

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.

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!

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.

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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