THE numismatist READING ROOM

The Numismatist Reading Room is an online collection of articles written by hobbyists from the United States and around the world.

Grow your knowledge by reading new content and expanded versions of stories first published in The Numismatist. Keep a look out for works from your favorite authors, monthly columnists and guest editors!

Select Entries Below To View Columns

On a Cold December Day
By Ray Williams

The story of a hidden treasury and a loose-lipped barmaid is often eclipsed by George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River.
Since I have a personal 
interest in the numismatics of our colonial and confederation periods, it should be no surprise that I also have developed an interest for the history of those days. The year 1776 is dear to me and many of my like-minded friends. Nationally, we celebrate that momentous year every July 4, but in Trenton, New Jersey, we mark it every December with a reenactment of George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River. Read more...
Recovered Art
By Darcie Graybill

The World War II “Monuments Men” received the Congressional Gold Medal. 
The monuments, fine arts and archives section of the Allies, commonly known as the Monuments Men, was a small group of mostly men and a few women who found and recovered countless works of art stolen by the Nazis during World War II. Read more...
Another Christmas Story
By Todd R. Sciore

Civil War tokens that portray old-time spectacles are reminiscent of this favorite holiday film.
“You’ll shoot your eye out” is the 
refrain from the classic 1983 holiday movie 
A Christmas Story. Based on a collection of childhood 
stories by author and radio personality Jean Parker 
(“Shep”) Shepherd, the film enjoys a cult-like status 
as part of a 24-hour, television marathon shown an
nually during the holidays. (I make a point to watch 
this Christmas special every year.)
Twain Commems
By Janine Hall-Conrardy

Last November, the U.S. Mint unveiled designs for 2016 commemorative gold and silver coins honoring American author and humorist Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain. Emblematic of Twain’s legacy, the motifs were carefully chosen based on his classic works, such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Read more...
Ocean Artistry
By Caleb Noel

Located at the westernmost point of Vancouver, British Columbia, the remote archipelago of Haida Gwaii (“Islands of the Haida People”) inspired the Royal Canadian Mint’s recent silver release, “The Orca.” Read more...
Will Wonders Never Cease?
By Caleb Noel

On November 19, at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., the United States Mint released designs for three commemorative coins honoring the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service (NPS). Read more...
Certification Trailblazer
By Larry House

Collecting went through a revolution in the 1970s, when third-party coin grading became a hobby standard. When I began collecting coins in the 1950s, an accurate evaluation of the item’s condition was not an important consideration. Read more...
Shedding Light on a Puzzling Piece
By Bob Jacques

Help is needed to authenticate a cast copy of an Edward VIII threepence. My interest in Edward VIII coinage goes back to 1995, the year I acquired my first Edward VIII coin—a 1936 East Africa 10-cent piece—in a small hoard of British specimens a neighbor gave me. Read more..
Cash No Longer King
By Darcie Graybill

Sweden is quickly becoming dependent on credit cards and mobile payments. While credit cards and payments using mobile devices are becoming increasingly common in many places, Sweden has been quicker to embrace the cashless revolution than other countries. Read more...
Austrian Coinage: Hop Into Spring!
By Janine Hall-Conrardy

Recent release featuring a hare signals the beginning of the season.

Hanging in Vienna’s Albertina Museum is one of the most recognizable watercolors ever produced— Feldhase (“Young hare” or “Field hare”). Read more...
Change for Change
By Janine Hall-Conrardy

Legislation allows leeway in adjusting the alloys of silver American Eagles and annual proof sets.

On December 4, 2015, President Barack Obama signed H.R. 1698 into law. Read more...
Dynamic Duo
By Caleb Noel

The U.S. Mint has unveiled designs for coins honoring the former president and first lady.

The united states mint released designs for the Ronald Reagan Presidential $1 coin and the Nancy Reagan First Spouse gold coin on February 6 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library’s annual birthday celebration for the late president. Read more...
Up in Flames
By Caleb Noel

New series recalls the disaster that changed the look of London.

To mark 350 years since London’s Great Fire, The Royal Mint has issued a new release remembering this cataclysmic event that changed the city’s landscape forever. Read more...
Note-able Woman
By Caleb Noel

Canada’s upcoming bank-note redesign will include an iconic female. On March 8 (International Women’s Day), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Finance Bill Morneau announced that among the country’s notes scheduled for redesign in 2018, one will feature a portrait of a woman.  Read more...
Counsel on Coinage
By Caleb Noel

CCAC appoints new members. The United States Mint recently announced Steve Roach and Dennis Tucker as members of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) to fill vacancies created by the expiration of previous appointments. Read more...
New Discovery
By Caleb Noel

A collector uncovers an Indian Head cent die variety. Hobbyist Richard Stinchcomb recently came upon a new 1868 Indian Head cent die variety. Read more...
Exciting Find
By Caleb Noel

The undersea salvage of a rare coin reveals the identity of a doomed vessel. in may 1503, the nau Esmeralda (or Emerald), a Portuguese East Indiaman ship that was part of explorer Vasco da Gama’s 1502-03 Fourth Armada to India, sank off the coast of Al Hallaniyah island in Oman’s Dhofar region. Read more...
Long-Awaited Recognition for So-Called Dollars
By Jeff Shevlin

Upcoming edition of the “Red Book” will showcase a wide variety of the commemorative medals. this is going to be a great year for collectors of “so-called dollars.” For the first time, these significant pieces will be included in Whitman Publishing’s second deluxe edition of A Guide Book of United States Coins (the “Red Book”). Read more...
Decision at Last
By Caleb Noel

Harriet Tubman will grace the front of the $20 bill. 

After months of speculation U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jacob “Jack” Lew announced on April 20 that abolitionist and civil-rights icon Harriet Tubman will replace President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Read more...
Old World Tradition Yields Welcome Benefits
By Caleb Noel

Popularized by a 1950s Hollywood film, the act of throwing coins into Rome’s Trevi Fountain began much earlier, and recovered specimens provide for those in need. Read more...
Convict Tokens
By Janine Hall-Conrady

Mementos of a time when the British banished criminals to “unknown lands” are now available. Read more...
Coin Garden
By Barb Gregory

A Ukrainian entrepreneur envisions a coin-shaped multiplex in the San Francisco Bay area that will inspire a public appreciation for numismatics.

Dennis Rudenko is a young man with an ambitious project that he believes could change the coin industry forever. In 2020-21 he plans to begin construction of “Coin Garden,” an innovative, seven-story building in the San Francisco Bay area that is all about coins, inside and out. Read more...
Ancient Myths Coins
By Darcie Graybill

Inaugural issue reveals the famous deception that led to the fall of Troy.

The first issue in the Mint of Poland’s “Ancient Myths” series highlighting well-known stories from antiquity features the tale of the stately wooden horse gifted to the Trojans by the Greeks during the Trojan War. Read more...
Coins for a Cure
By Darcie Graybill

Funds raised from sales of U.S. commemoratives will be donated to breast cancer research.

The U.S. Mint will release a set of three coins aimed at increasing breast cancer awareness and generating income to help find a cure for the disease. Read more...
Coins of Hope
By Aaron Anstett

For the first time, a missing child will be depicted on a circulating coin.

On May 25 (International Missing Children's Day), the Royal Mint of Belgium in brussels struck a € 2 coin depicting Liam Vanden Branden, who disappeared in 1996... Read more...
CCAC Convenes in Colorado
By Caleb Noel

On June 27, the 11-member Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) met in an
open-forum session on the Colorado College campus during the ANA’s 2016 Summer Seminar in Colorado Springs. More than 20 members of the coin-collecting community attended the three-and- a-half-hour meeting, and various numismatic press outlets
phoned-in via conference call.

Design Excellence
By Darcie Graybill

The Japan Mint is accepting submissions for its 2016 International Coin Design Competition (ICDC). The government agency strives to encourage creativity and enhance the artistry of coin designs through the contest it has hosted annually since 1998. The competition is open to amateur and professional artists of all ages and nationalities.

Fanciful Commemorative
By Darcie Graybill

The New Zealand Mint has produced proof gold and silver coins for the island nation of Niue to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Disney’s classic animated film, Dumbo, which debuted on October 23, 1941.

Huntington Award
By Aaron Anstett

Dr. Michael Alram recently was presented the 2016 Archer M. Huntington Award by the American Numismatic Society (ANS) for his contributions to numismatic scholarship. A distinguished scientist, researcher and educator, Alram has been a leading figure in the hobby community for four decades.

The Coinage Congressman
By Caleb Noel

Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) and Heritage Auctions have collaborated to offer encapsulated coins bearing a special label that is hand-signed by former Delaware Governor Mike Castle. While in Congress, “The Coinage Congressman” wrote and/or sponsored the bills that led to the 50 State Quarters® program, the Sacagawea dollar, the Presidential dollar series, the America the Beautiful Quarters program and more.

Historic Venue
By Darcie Graybill

New York City’s Museum of American Finance will welcome hundreds of dealers, collectors and museum visitors to its 6th Annual Wall Street Collectors Bourse, which will take place October 21-23. On Saturday, October 22, Archives International Auctions, LLC will conduct a sale in the Museum Gallery at 10 a.m. Joel Iskowitz will give a talk on “U.S. Presidents on American Coins” at 12:30 p.m., and Harley Spiller will present “Fun Facts for Kids” at 2 p.m.

To Catch a Counterfeiter
By Darcie Graybill

The ANA's Edward C. Rochette Money Museum in Colorado Springs was featured in a recent episode of the Travel Channel’s “Mysteries at the Museum.” Episode 5, Season 10, which premiered on July 29, highlights a 1700 milled English crown from the Museum’s collection, and relates the story of a legendary scientist and his attempt to catch a notorious criminal in 17th-century London.

Beloved Loonie
By Darcie Graybill

Robert-Ralph Carmichael, the artist who designed Canada's celebrated $1 Loonie, died in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, at the age of 78 on July 16. When Canada replaced its $1 bank notes with coins in 1987, the Royal Canadian Mint initially selected a design featuring an aboriginal man and a voyageur paddling a canoe loaded with goods—a motif that paid tribute to the role of the fur trade in the nation’s history.

In the Beginning
By Darcie Graybill

Austin rare Coins and Bullion recently sold an example of the first coin ever struck. Referred to as a “striated” stater, the rarity, minted nearly 3,000 years ago in Ionia (modern day Turkey), is one of only 12 specimens known to exist. Made from electrum, a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver that was found in streams and riverbeds, the coin bears lines on the obverse that are believed to represent flowing water.

Classic Cars & Coins
By Cynthia Wood-Davies

The Royal Australian Mint joined Australian automaker GM Holden, Ltd. to celebrate the latter’s 160th anniversary. In August the mint launched the Holden Heritage Coin Collection to mark the manufacturer’s milestone. The Heritage series recognizes the instrumental role Holden cars have played in the country’s history.

Fort Moultrie National Monument
By Arlyn G. Sieber

Fort Moultrie has long lived in the shadow of its more famous neighbor, Fort Sumter. But Fort Moultrie and its 171 years of defending America’s Atlantic coast take the spotlight on the fifth and final coin of 2016 in the U.S. Mint’s America the Beautiful Quarters® (ATB) program.

Some Like It Hot!
By Cynthia Wood-Davies 

Mints around the world are producing coins and tokens in unusual shapes and sizes. In keeping with this trend, the Mint of Poland created for the island nation of Niue a unique 54 x 49 x 21mm silver coin in the shape of a volcano. Struck of 6 ounces of .999 silver, the 2016 $30 Mount Vesuvius proof is an exceptional example of contemporary coinage.

Die Pressed Wooden Medals and Plaques of 1876 Centennial Exposition
By Dr. Donald G. Tritt

The Centennial Exposition of 1876 was held in Philadelphia, May 10 to November 10, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Though initially planned to be a display of innovations and products of the United States only, the Centennial soon became an International Exposition with the official title, International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures, and Products of the Soil and Mine. All nations having diplomatic relations with the U.S. were invited to participate. Read more...
A Brief History of Confederate Coins
By Dave Meisky

Most people are aware of Confederate paper money but did the Confederacy mint coins? This is a difficult question as there are two possible answers: “Yes, but…” or “No, however…”  In 1861 there were five United States mints. Two of them, the main mint in Philadelphia and the newest mint in San Francisco, were in states that remained in the Union while the mints in Charlotte, North Carolina; Dahlonega, Georgia; and New Orleans were in what became the Confederate States. Of these three, New Orleans was the largest while the other two were smaller operations that had been established in the early 1840s to take advantage of gold strikes in these areas.  Read more...
Making the Grade: The 1856 "Upright 5" Gold Dollar
Despite years of research by numismatists, some U.S. coin varieties and denominations remain misunderstood and their scarcity under-appreciated. How can collectors distinguish varieties and determine their relative scarcity and, therefore, value? The 1856 “Upright 5” gold dollar is a case in point.

The U.S. Mint introduced the Type 3 gold dollar in 1856, a year of transition at its Philadelphia facility. Two gold dollar varieties produced there that year reflect the changeover in the style of numerals used in the date, distinguished by whether the 5 in 1856 is upright or slanting. Read more...