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Well worn Copper's Blog

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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14 Sep 2020

The Indian, the Arrow, and the Massachusetts Cent

| Well worn Copper

I've always wondered the significance of the Indian holding the arrow on the Massachusetts cents of 1787-88. Since he is holding the arrow in his left hand with the point towards the ground, is that to show he is friendly or peace loving? I'm going with this from the significance of the eagle on U.S. coinage always holding the laurels and arrows in particular talons. It should be pointed out that the eagle on the reverse of the Massachusetts cent also holds the arrow on the left talon. I've searched for any backstory regarding the Indian and the arrow, but have never come across any. Who knows, maybe it just looked good on the coin. (Personally, I love the design and it's my favorite colonial) Any takers?

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