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Well worn Copper's Blog

25 Jun 2022

Collecting Original U.S. Mint Wrapped BU Rolls

| Well worn Copper

I've never been much of a "roll collector" but lately have purchased a few for my collection. Roll collecting had it's heyday back in the mid 1960's, but went bust soon afterward. It was mainly driven by the depletion of silver in our coinage and was fueled by collector and investor alike. For a long time I viewed roll collecting as a form of hoarding, with storage being a main issue. What I've chosen to collect, however, are brief commemorative issues that were intended for circulation with relatively low mintages. These include the 2009 Lincoln Bicentennial issues and the 2004-2006 Jefferson Westward Journey designs. What really makes these rolls interesting is their colorful original U.S. Mint wrappers. To me these wrappers are a key element. They certify the rolls contained were wrapped at the Mint and have never been opened. They usually sell at a small premium compared to no-name bank wrappers, but are well worth it. I've recently added a few 2009 Territorial Quarter rolls in original U.S. Mint wrappers as well, after researching just how minuscule their mintages were compared to the larger Statehood series. When you put them all together the wrappers really pop.

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03 Apr 2022

Re-Discovering Peter Salem: A Forgotten Black American Patriot

| Well worn Copper

I recently purchased a lot of old Franklin Mint catalogs from 1966-1972. These were published every year to society members and listed that year's previous issues. I've been a student of American history for quite some time now, but an unfamiliar name popped up: Peter Salem. Peter Salem was a slave who fought in the battle of Bunker Hill. His owner freed him so he could fight in the revolution and it was Salem who fired the fatal shot that killed British general Pitcairn at the battle. Artist John Trumbull included Salem on his famous painting, with Salem being shielded by an American officer. Peter Salem was featured on two Franklin Mint issues in 1972. One was in the American Negro Commemorative Society and the other from the Patriots hall of Fame series. Both medals were struck in sterling silver and one in gold. During the great silver melt of 1979-80 probably most, if not all, of these medals were sold for scrap and melted down, which explains why I could not find any anywhere. Salem's name seems to have disappeared over time and sad to say he should have been featured on the 1998 Black patriots Commemorative Silver Dollar, along with Crispus Attucks. I could find no other medals featuring Salem anywhere and he was buried in a pauper's grave in 1816. Salem deserved more in our history books, not to mention a greater numismatic tribute. For those interested the Franklin Mint catalog numbers for the Salem medals, they are ANS-34 and PHS-5. Good luck finding one.

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30 Jan 2022

JFK junior's 1996 Wedding & the Indian Head Nickel

| Well worn Copper

I found an interesting tidbit tucked into a book about JFK Jr. Kennedy's September 1996 wedding made news mainly because it was successfully done in total secrecy. Kennedy chose a barren barrier reef island located 20 miles off the coast of Georgia to get married on. And to help identify possible intruders, each registered guest was given an indian head nickel by security to keep with them at all times. The security detail would therefore be able to challenge anyone at the ceremony or reception by asking to show their nickel. The book didn't go into too much detail, and I wonder if the nickels were all of a certain date or mintmark for added security. Also, it makes one wonder what became of the nickels. Did guests keep them as a memento? Or did many of them eventually make their way into dealer's junk boxes where they sit to this day, along with their secret history?

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13 Dec 2021

Best & Worst U.S. Coin Designs of 2021

| Well worn Copper

At the end of every year I look back on everything the U.S. Mint produced and consider the best and worst designs. Here are my choices for 2021: The 2021 Law Enforcement half dollar reverse was hands down the most disappointing design the Mint released this year. I understand the engravers must abide whatever the bill's language states should be depicted on a coin, but this is a good example that lawmaker's should stay out of the coin designing business. The fingerprint resembles a tombstone while the oversized eye is outright creepy. The legends and wording are crowded and un-balanced. This is probably the worst looking commemorative issued since the 1991 Korea issue. The downside of collecting commemoratives is that sometimes you've got to hold your nose when buying a coin to complete your set. And this is one of them. On the plus side, the new Silver Eagle reverse is refreshing. The eagle is nicely done, and the wording is off center but works. The new Washington quarter reverse was also well done. It is fluid and gives the coin a sense of drama and movement. I look forward to seeing Laura Fraser's obverse design grace the coinage for 2022. I like how they are keeping Washington on the quarter but changing the design. If they keep this up more collectors will be collecting quarters than commemoratives. I would have included the 2021 Morgan and Peace dollars, but as welcomed as they were, they were mainly recycled. For my wish list of 2022, I'd like to see something done with the Roosevelt dime. Either refresh the design, or replace Roosevelt altogether. Nothing has happened to this design since 1946 and it's gotten stale. That said, I wish everyone a happy new year, and good collecting.

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05 Nov 2021

Adolph Weinman & his 1915 Panama -Pacific Sculptures

| Well worn Copper

Sculptor Adolph Weinman never fails to amaze me. I recently discovered two of his works are among the sculpture collection of the White House gardens. The pieces, titled Rising Sun and Descending Night, were created for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915. Numismatists are familiar with the Pan-Pacific Expo from the commemorative half dollar, quarter eagle, and the round and octagon $50 gold pieces, which were issued in 1915. One can only imagine if Weinman were given an opportunity to present models for the commemorative coinage incorporating these two figures. Unfortunately, chief engraver Charles Barber still had a firm grip on anything that came out of the mint, and he ended up designing the commemorative half dollar and quarter eagle . There is also the chance Weinman could have been too occupied to submit models as he was probably busy finishing up what would become his classic Mercury dime and Walking Liberty half dollar coins, which were issued in 1916. For anyone interested, the sculptures mentioned can be found in the book, "20th century American Sculpture in the White House Garden" by David Finn.

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26 Aug 2021

Sitting with the dead: Remembering Meriwether Lewis & his coinage

| Well worn Copper

I've lived in Tennessee for about 30 years now and today finally took a little road trip and visited the gravesite (and death site) of Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis & Clark fame. Lewis and Clark were probably the last great American explorers, and I rate them up there with Columbus, although their expedition was much more peace bearing. The events of Lewis's death are tragic. Jefferson had appointed Lewis governor of the Louisiana territory but Lewis had difficulty getting his pay and grew despondent. In 1809 he set out for Washington D.C. and stopped at a middle Tennessee farmhouse for the night. During the night Lewis shot and killed himself with his own gun. Locals buried him where he fell, and in 1848 the Tennessee legislature funded a large stone monument for his grave. The state also named the county after him. Lewis's grave is set in a quiet wooded area and when I visited it no one else was around. I stayed for about 30 minutes. As a history buff, it's always something special to visit the grave of the historically (and numismatically) noteworthy and quietly "share their company" for awhile. I wondered what he would think if he knew he had been honored on a gold dollar, a silver dollar, a statehood (Missouri) quarter, and was the subject of four nickels, not to mention numerous appearances on currency and medals. Someone had left a bottle of whiskey (for him I suppose) and a sealed letter addressed to "Captain Lewis". I thought that was kind of classy. I then went back to my car and fished a Westward Journey nickel out of the console, and left it on the stone rail, hoping to start a new tradition. Rest easy, Captain Lewis.

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02 Aug 2021

Fantasy Coinage

| Well worn Copper

I occasionally like to take a left turn and go down untraveled roads, always hoping to be surprised. One area of collecting that is always different involves fantasy coins. While wandering around the internet I discovered a small private family-run mint in Arkansas called Shire Post Mint. They engrave their own dies and strike their own coin and medals. What's interesting is they strike them on vintage coin presses, and even have a couple of old screw presses around. From the looks of it, I'd like to work there for a week or two. They have their hand in quite a few things, such as fantasy coins, medals, keychains and jewelry. Their fantasy coinage looked interesting and I picked up a set of fantasy Nouvelle-France (New France) pieces. The back story being if King Louis XIV did more with the Louisiana territory, that this is what his coinage could have possibly looked like. What makes them cool is they're struck one at a time using hand engraved dies, so they even look from the period. I have a few fantasy pieces from Daniel Carr's Moonlight Mint as well. Fantasy coinage is fun and interesting, but I strictly keep to copper pieces. Silver and gold pieces can get pricey, and there's no real aftermarket here. As I said before, this is just a fun diversion, but not an investment. Enjoy.

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21 Jul 2021

Christmas In July - NGC Re-Holders

| Well worn Copper

It always feels like Christmas when you receive your NGC submissions back. I received mine today, 57 days after sending them out, but always worth the wait. All 15 submissions were simple re-holders. I thought that since the entire submission was re-holders that my order would be sped up, but like everyone else I had to wait in line. I don't like the old holders that hug or "constrict" the coin, and prefer the edge-view holders which allow the coin to stand out by itself. Most of the coins in this submission were foreign, or World, as NGC states on the paperwork. I also included a 1936 York commemorative half dollar because it was the only coin in my Classic Commem Series set that wasn't in an edge-view. An interesting point when submitting NGC pieces for re-holder is you can mix U.S. coins with World on the same submission form (and the only time you will get away with it). Quite a few of the old holders had appearance issues with them, such as scratches and old adhesive residue. It seems Heritage Auctions typically stuck a label with the lot number on the back of the slab. This is unattractive and harder to peel off the longer it remains there. Not sure if they still do it, but I hope Heritage stops. The bulk of the re-holders were world patterns. I have yet to crack into U.S. patterns because of the prices, but world patterns are much more affordable and just as interesting. Three of the pieces were 1996 Romania Olympic patterns in copper and brass ring-nickel center. One was a piefort, which you could never see in the old holder, but looks stunning in it's new holder. In the end, I chalked this submission up to collection maintenance, although I'm sure the new attractive holders will help when I sell them in the future. Re-holdering a NGC coin costs $12 per slab, and it's worth maxing out the submission form's 15 pieces when you think about it. Either way, I'm glad to have my babies back after two months.

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03 Jul 2021

Freaks & Errors DVD: Stamp Collecting Today, and Yesterday.

| Well worn Copper

Back when I was growing up, stamp collecting had always been considered something of a "sister' to coin collecting. You could go into a hobby shop and find coins and stamps being sold next to each other. While stamp collecting has dramatically decreased, it still has it's enthusiast's. "Freaks & Errors, A Rare Collection," is all about those who have chosen to remain stamp collectors in the long run. You are introduced to major dealers. You also meet major collectors, such as the Louis Eliasberg of stamp collecting, who has the only complete set of U.S. postage stamps. There are great auction tales, and the guy who once bought a $150,000 stamp and hid it from his wife (I can relate to that). Most importantly it's about the love and history of collecting something that not everyone understands, and how it has enriched their lives. As a numismatist, I understand where these men (and women) are coming from. If someone ever produces a film like this about coin collecting, I hope they treat it with the same respect that was done here. Collectors of all sorts would probably find this documentary very enjoyable. It runs 95 minutes, and was released in 2017. As one collector succulently put it, "You don't go to a stamp show just to buy stuff. You go to meet other collectors." Well said.

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25 Jun 2021

Crazy Money for Continental Currency at a JFK Auction

| Well worn Copper

Last week I picked up a copy of a 2005 auction catalog by Sotheby's. The catalog, titled "Property from Kennedy Family Homes," included household items from JFK's homes in Hyannis Port and Martha's Vineyard, amongst others. It included trivial everyday items like drinking glasses to contemporary sofa's. Among the listings was lot number 276, "a collection of four currency notes." The 4 notes were Continental Currency in average circulated condition. Two of the notes were cancelled. They had no provenance and been put in a frame. The pre-sale estimate was $300-500, but amazingly the hammer fell at $4,500! It's astounding to see what something went for just because it hung on a wall somewhere in one of JFK's homes. This was the sole numismatic lot in the entire catalog, so surely JFK was not a closet numismatist. I'm surprised they didn't dig into the sofa cushions to find pocket change and try to sell that too. Stuff like this may sell on Park Avenue, but good luck getting your $4,500 back in your local coin shop.

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