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Hemet Coin Club 




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EDUCATIONAL FACT?: The tradition of putting coins into Christmas stockings has a long past. This is one version of how that tradition came to be provided by the British Royal Mint! 
“The tradition of Christmas stockings also began with coins. There are countless ver- sions of the story, but this one is delightful, and starts with St. Nicholas. A 4th Century Greek saint, he was also rich as his wealthy parents had died when he was young. 
He loved giving gifts to those less fortunate, preferably in secret, and heard about a lo- cal nobleman who had lost both his wife and his money, and had moved into a peas-ants’ cottage with his three daughters, all of marriageable age. In those days, a girl needed a dowry to offer the groom’s parents, and this poor family had barely enough to eat. 
St. Nicholas knew they were too proud to accept charity. On spotting that the girls had hung their stockings to dry on the chimney ledge St Nicolas decided to climb down
the chimney and put a bag of silver coins into the oldest girl’s stocking. On the next visit he placed coins into the second daughter’s stocking. The third time, the grateful father hid in the room and caught St. Nicholas in the act.  Although St. Nicholas begged him to keep it a secret, word soon got out, and everyone started to hang their stockings, hoping for a visit from St. Nicholas. Of course, his generosity meant that all three daughters could marry which, perhaps, may have led to another long-held tradition that, at first sight, has nothing to do with Christmas at all...”(

Q. I heard about a British Christmas tradition of cooking with a coin for good luck? Any truth to the tale? 


A. Stir-up-Sunday, the next before Advent Sunday, is the traditional day to make the Christmas pudding. Traditionally, a silver sixpence was stirred in to the mix, to bring the finder wealth and good luck in the year to come. In the past it was usual for every member of the household to give the pudding a stir and make a wish. Some families have used the same Christmas sixpence for as long as they can remember!

Q. Have any information about magical Christmas tree spiders? 

A. The Legend of the Christmas Spider is an Eastern European folktale which explains the origin of tinsel on Christmas trees. It is most prevalent in Ukraine, where small ornaments in the shape of a spider are traditionally a part of the Christmas tree decorations. 

Christmas spider ornaments ukraine

(The Story): A poor but hardworking widow once lived in a small hut with her children. One summer day, a pine cone fell on the earthen floor of the hut and took root. The widow's children cared for the tree, excited at the prospect of having a Christmas tree by winter. The tree grew, but when Christmas Eve arrived, they could not afford to decorate it. The children sadly went to bed and fell asleep. Early the next morning,they woke up and saw the tree covered with cobwebs. When they opened the windows, the first rays of sunlight touched the webs and turned them into gold and silver. The widow and her children were overjoyed. From then on, they never lived in poverty again.

Currency Note of the Month


St. Nicholas Bank, 1854-1893

Remembered only by currency collectors who value its notes that featured Santa Claus, this historic bank operated on Wall Street throughout the second half of the 19th century. Historian Stephen Mihm found that the bank was established in 1853 with a capitalization of half a million dollars and operated until 1893. As a state-chartered bank, it issued its own currency notes in the years prior to the creation of federal notes. The bank was led by Caleb Barstow, who served as president from 1856 to 1874 and was remembered for his generosity. The bank's notes incorporate ships (the original Saint Nicholas was the patron saint of sailors), several images of Santa, and even one bill with early New York founder Peter Stuyvesant. 
The mythical Santa Claus was modeled after a real-life Saint who became famous for his generosity. While most Europeans forgot the story, Dutch residents continued to revere "Sint Nikolass." New York City was founded by the Dutch and was originally named New Amsterday. The connection between the city and Santa Clause became even stronger when New York resident and author Clement Clarke Moore wrote "A Visit From Saint Nicholas" in 1822. The poem began with the now-famous line "Twas the night before Christmas," and with its popularity, the legend of Santa Claus spread throughout the city of New York by the early 1830s. (

Coin of the Month

While not intended to be a circulating issue, this colorized Santa coin is a legal tender coin with a face value of 25 cents issued by the Canadian Mint. It is widely available from most foreign coin dealers and since it contains no precious metal, with a composition of 4.4 grams of Nickel plated steel, it is relatively inexpensive. There was a total mintage of 62,777 and is currently valued at $5 in MS63. It was, however, part of a seven coin Holiday gift set and is probably easier to locate as a complete set.


EDUCATIONAL FACT: Back on July 4, 1795, none other than midnight-rider Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, who was then Massachusetts’ governor, laid a time capsule in the Massachusetts State House in Boston. The event was a big to-do. Fifteen white horses (one for each state of the union) pulled the capsule to the ceremony, where a 15-gun salute accompanied its entombment within a cornerstone by Revere, Adams, and fellow revolutionary William Scollay.
There was an initial fear that the capsule’s contents hadn’t survived the centuries, particularly because the whole thing had been opened once before—in 1855, while repairs were done to the State House. At the time, 19th century “preservationists” had reportedly washed most of the capsule’s items in acid. However, they also enclosed all of the materials in a brass box—a more reliable vessel for the collection than the two heavy sheets of lead originally used. 
The 10-pound capsule was finally opened at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in front of a crowd of press and history enthusiasts, after Pam Hatchfield, the museum’s Head of Objects Conservation, spent about five hours delicately loosening the screws that held down the lid. Inside, conservators found a well-preserved collection of Revolutionary-era artifacts, as well as some dating to the first opening in 1855.
There were over a dozen coins, including a one-shilling piece from 1652, as well as a half-cent, a 3-cent, a dime, a “quar. dol” and a half-dollar coin. A Saturday morning paper and the Boston Traveler newspaper (priced at 2 cents) were discovered in readable condition.Also within: The title page of the first volume of the Massachusetts Colony Records, a paper impression of the Seal of the Commonwealth, a medal depicting George Washington and a silver plaque commemorating the erection of the State House.

Q. I found this token in a junk box and wondered if ti had any special significance?

A. In 1916, the German government of Kaiser Wilhelm II was deeply entrenched in WWI and desperately needed gold to continue the war effort. In his attempt to to obtain gold, the Kaiser appealed directly to the German peopler help stating that it was “patriotic” forth to redeem their gold for currency. For those who did participate , a special medallion (donation token), made of iron, was issued expressing the governments appreciation for their patriotic contribution to the German war effort. The medal, when translated, states “I gave gold and received iron in honor of it”.

Q.  What is aTally stick?

A. Tally sticks were introduced in the Middle Ages and used for about 600 years as a way to record debt. The wooden sticks would have notches marked in both ends and would then be split in two, with the halves given to the debtor and the creditor.

The debtor's half was called the "foil" while the creditor was given the "stock". The word "stocks" is still used by British bankers today to refer to debts of the British government. The system was abolished by the government in 1826 and in 1834 the decision was taken to burn the sticks - but with disastrous results.
They were put in a coal-fired stove in the House of Lords, which led to a raging chimney fire that destroyed most of the Palace of Westminster.

Currency Note of the Month 

National gold bank notes (NGBN), issued by nine national gold banks in California in the 1870s and 1880s, were national bank notes redeemable in gold. Printed on a yellow-tinted paper, six NGBN denominations circulated: $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, and $500. Today, national gold bank notes are very rare in the higher denominations (and unknown on some issuing banks) with condition generally falling in the good to fine range. Approximately 630 NGBNs are known to exist, and roughly only 20 grade above "very fine”. This particular $5 note was issued with 4 dates, 1880, 1882,1883,and 1884. The signatures are bank officers, Edwin D. Morgan (cashier) and Ralph C. Woolworth (president). Of the 630 gold notes known to exist, 427 are this denomination. The face has a vignette depicting Christopher Columbus sighting at left and at right a presentation of an Indian Princess, representing America, to the Old World. The reverse is ornamental with an array of United States gold coins depicted.

Coin of the Month

Since its been 4 years since I originally picked a large cent as “Coin of the Month” I thought I would get to the next large cent in the series, the “Classic Head”. The Classic Head Large Cent was struck during the years 1808 to 1814, creating seven different dates. Compared to other series of large cents, this series is somewhat overlooked. Besides demand from type set collectors, overall interest in the series is low despite the scarcity of some issues. 
The Classic Head Large Cent wasn't called "Classic" until the mid-1800's by a collector, and was first known as the "The Blowsy Barmaid". It was not a popular design over the previous Draped Bust Large Cent of 1796-1807, and while readily available in lower grades, all the dates are very scarce in Uncirculated condition. The quality of the planchets appears to be sub-standard as well, and glossy surfaces are the exception rather than the rule. Interesting varieties include the 1810 10/09, 1811 1 over 0, Small and Large dates of 1812 and Plain and Crosslet 4's of 1814. 

No large cents were struck in 1815 due to a fire at the Mint, this being the only year in which One cent pieces (of any size) were not made. 

They have the following specs, Designer: J. Reich, weight: 10.89 grams, diameter: 29 mm, composition: copper, plain edge.


Q.  What is the advantage to silver and gold coins bearing a monetary denomination rather than simply indicating the pieces bullion weight?

A. The advantage of their being designated a coin vice bullion is the avoidance of having to pay customs duties when it crosses international borders. Coins, in some jurisdictions, are exempt from capital gains taxes that are levied on bullion. However, the U.S. IRS says holdings in precious metals such as gold, silver or platinum are considered to be capital assets, and therefore capital gains may apply. When it comes to tax purposes, the IRS classifies precious metals as collectibles, and thus they may potentially be taxed at the maximum collectable capital gains rate of 28 percent.

Q. What does it mean when a gold coin is described as “dirty”?

A. Collectors often are baffled when they hear a gold coin described as “dirty” and then learn that it can be a desirable trait. A coin that looks “dirty” often has what numismatists covet: original surfaces. 
Gold has a natural luster color that is darker than the bright (I.E. polished or cleaned) surfaces that most collectors desire. Especially in AU condition the original surface luster may be stripped with the hope that the coin will appear to be Mint State with a subsequent increase in value. Also gold coins can show varying shades of gold making the coin appear dirty when in fact, it actually has original surfaces.

EDUCATIONAL FACT:  In 1858, Lincoln had argued in his House Divided speech that Stephen Douglas wanted to nationalize slavery. Douglas had ended the Missouri Compromise ban on slavery in Kansas and Nebraska four years earlier. However, in the presidential election of 1860, Douglas was unable to beat the “Railsplitter", as Lincoln was known, even though Douglas had the support of a number of railroads. 
Although historians still argue over whether or not Douglas was for or against slavery, after the election, he did support Lincoln’s presidency. When the Civil War began in 1861, he rallied his supporters to join the Union cause to unite the country as a free nation, although a few weeks later, he died of typhoid fever.
But even Douglas knew that the better man had won. At Lincoln’s inauguration, he showed respect to the new leader when Lincoln was looking for a place to put down his stovepipe hat before stepping to the platform to speak. Douglas took the hat saying, “If I can’t be the President, at least I can hold his hat”.

Book Recommendation

The first definitive account of this legendary fighting force and its extraordinary leader, Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Lee Gardner’s Rough Riders is narrative nonfiction at its most invigorating and compulsively readable. Its dramatic unfolding of a familiar, yet not-fully-known story will remind readers of James Swanson’s Manhunt.

Two months after the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor in February 1898, Congress authorized President McKinley to recruit a volunteer army to drive the Spaniards from Cuba. From this army emerged the legendary “Rough Riders,” a mounted regiment drawn from America’s western territories and led by the indomitable Theodore Roosevelt. Its ranks included not only cowboys and other westerners, but several Ivy Leaguers and clubmen, many of them friends of “TR.” Roosevelt and his men quickly came to symbolize American ruggedness, daring, and individualism. He led them to victory in the famed Battle at San Juan Hill, which made TR a national hero and cemented the Rough Riders’ place in history.

Rich with action, violence, camaraderie, and courage, Rough Riders sheds new light on the Theodore Roosevelt saga—and on one of the most thrilling chapters in American history.Money Talks is a fast-paced history of the humble British coin, the events which at times literally shaped it and the stories reflected in its creation. (

Currency Note of the Month 

This $1,000 Confederate States of America note is one of 607 issued and features images of John C. Calhoun on the left and Andrew Jackson on the right. The first four Confederate notes were issued from the original Confederate capital of Montgomery, Alabama and they epitomize the highest quality engraving and printing. Almost all of the Montgomery issued notes were signed by hand by Alex B. Clitherall, Register, and E.C. Elmore, Treasurer.

The Confederate States of America issued their first paper money in April 1861, when the Confederacy was just two months old, and on the brink of the outbreak of the Civil War.

At first, Confederate currency was accepted throughout the South as a medium of exchange with high purchasing power. As the war progressed, however, confidence in Confederate success waned, the amount of paper money increased, and their dates of redemption were extended further into the future. As the war progressed, the currency underwent depreciation and soaring prices characteristic of inflation occurred. This was partly due to the fact that the Union was printing counterfeit Confederate currency. Near the end of the war, the currency became practically worthless as a medium of exchange. When the Confederacy ceased to exist as a political entity at the end of the war, the money lost all value.
While valueless then, Confederate issues are currently highly sought and collected with values of this denomination of note ranging from $10,000-$100,000 in conditions Good to Uncirculated.

Coin of the Month

The origin of the Confederate cent is as follows: in 1861 an official of the Confederate States of America contacted the jewelry firm of Bailey & Co (later Bailey, Banks, and Biddle) and requested a die cutter who could make a C.S.A. cent.  Robert Lovett, Jr. was selected, and he was a logical choice, as he had extensive experience with die engraving.  
Lovett employed the head of Minerva, which he had used on an earlier one cent sized token from 1860, and employed a wreath of distinctive Southern agricultural products, including a bale of cotton at the bottom.  Lovett struck twelve coins with his dies, employing the then current Union alloy of copper and nickel used on Indian cents.  
Lovett soon had second thoughts, and fearing arrest by Union authorities for aiding the Confederates, he canceled the project and concealed the dies and dozen coins.  After the war ended, Lovett took one of the coins and used it as a pocket piece.  One day in 1873, Lovett accidentally spent the Confederate cent at a Philadelphia bar.  The barkeep recognized the piece as unusual and showed the coin to a numismatist friend. Or so the story goes.  
In any event, Edward Maris, a prominent Philadelphia collector learned of the coin and its source.  Maris contacted Lovett and purchased not only the other coins, but the dies too.  Soon Capt. John W. Hazeltine and his associate J. Colvin Randall learned of the coins and dies, and procured them from Maris or possibly Lovett (if Maris hadn't purchased the dies).  A plan was hatched to coin restrikes, and Peter Kinder (a medalist and die sinker) of Philadelphia was engaged for this purpose.  A pamphlet was produced which stated that seven gold, twelve silver, and 55 copper restrikes had been made, with the dies breaking on the 55th copper strike.  No copper-nickel restrikes were made to preserve the integrity of the original dozen coined by Lovett.  In 1961 Robert Bashlow, a New York entrepreneur, took the rusted and broken dies and had copies made by the transfer process.  These pieces have irregular surfaces, and are quite unlike the 1874 restrikes.  The original strikes have the following specs, weight: 4.67 grams, diameter: 19 mm, composition: copper-nickel. Plain edge. (



Q. I recently saw a gold coin described as “sweated” and wondered what it meant?  
A. Sweating a coin is merely robbing it of a portion of Its legal weight without altering Its appearance. Sweating was originally performed by putting gold or silver coins in a leather bag and shaking the bag violently, removing gold and silver from the coins in a process that more closely resembled the natural wear and tear 
that coins sustained from jingling in pockets and purses over several years of circulation. It was an accelerated process of natural wear and tear and captured small but valuable amounts of gold and silver. 
A modern version involves using acids to dissolve small amounts from the surface of gold coins into a suspended solution for recovery later. This leaves a granulated and pock- marked surface on the coin which is disguised through polish- ing to create a normal worn appearance.

Q. Is there any special significance to the wheat ears on the reverse of 1909-1958 Lincoln cents? 


A. Victor D. Brenner originally submitted a reverse design with tree branches, but Mint Director Frank A. Leach deemed the design unsuitable and it was changed to 2 ears of durum wheat. Durum was developed by artificial selection of the domesticated emmer wheat strains formerly grown in Central Europe and the Near East around 7000 BC. Durum wheat is the wheat of choice for pasta due to its density and high gluten content. Durum production is geographically concentrated to North Dakota and the surrounding area because it demands a special agronomic environment. North Dakota produces 73 percent of the U.S. durum crop. It is unknown why it was specifically chosen for the Lincoln cent design.

EDUCATIONAL FACT: Most Texas Rangers did not wear badges until around the turn of the 20th century. Many felt that they didn’t need to wear badges, just anouncing their authority was usually sufficient, while others felt a shiny badge made a tempting target. They also weren’t provided and since most Rangers were poorly paid, were unwilling top purchase them on their own. Nevertheless, some Texas rangers did wear badges. The first of these appeared around 1875, often made from Mexican peso coins and cut into a star reminiscent of Texas’s Lone Star flag. When considering purchasing one, be wary of modern made fakes, as genuine badges are very rare.


Book Recommendation


Money Talks: British Monarchs and History in Coins by Bob Whittington

Money Talks is a fast-paced history of the humble British coin, the events which at times literally shaped it and the stories reflected in its creation.

It has been used to barter and to bribe, to hold a cloak in place and to pay a king’s ransom, been an object of pride and a symbol of courage. The coin has witnessed the great events in history – about kings and queens and the transfer of power – and it speaks to us of generations passed, of battles and heroic deeds, of countries and empires as well as of moments we would rather forget.

Money Talks is about how such a small object of desire has been regarded as a sym- bol of power and authority for more than 2,500 years. It traces British history through the one thing that has come to dominate our lives – hard cash – and it demonstrates how monarchs down the centuries have used it to fund their wars, maintain their lifestyles and portray their image to prove their position or legitimatise dubious claims to the throne.

Currency Note of the Month

With Texas and hurricane Harvey in the news, I thought I would pick an obsolete note from Texas to feature this month. This $5 note is one of 9 denominations of Texas notes called “redback” notes for their colorful red ink reverse. This “redback” note was issued in Austin by the Republic of Texas. Redbacks were issued from late 1839 until 1842. The most prolific issue of Texas money, redbacks were reissued and stamped as such, thus the total number issued is not known. “Redbacks" were named for the red ink used on their versos. Lines border each edge of the note. The word ""FIVE' is print- ed vertically in a decorative border along the left edge of the note. A bust of Erastus 'Deaf' Smith is printed in the center of the right border of the note; the Roman numeral 'V' is printed above and below the vignette. A vignette of a Native American brave seated and overlooking ruins is printed along the upper-center of the note; he is hold- ing a bow in his left hand and has a tomahawk at his feet. The number '5' is printed to the left and right of the center vignette. 

Two ornate designs printed in red ink comprise the left and right borders of the note's verso; a five-pointed star and the letters of the word 'TEXAS' are printed in red ink in- between the two designs.

The note is signed on the recto by James Harper Starr, Secretary of the Treasury, and Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, President.

Coin of the Month

texas centennial half dollar commemorative

The Texas Centennial half dollar commemorative coin was minted to honor the Cen- tennial of Texas's independence from Mexico. Early in the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, on June 15, 1933, Congress passed an act to authorize the coinage of silver half dollars "in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary in 1936 of the independence of Texas, and of the noble and heroic sacrifices of her pi- oneers, whose revered memory has been an inspiration to her sons and daughters during the past century." This was the first of over two dozen commemorative bills that would become reality during Roosevelt's tenure. The legislation provided that "no more than one and a half million pieces" be created on behalf of the American Legion Texas Centennial Committee, located in Austin in that state.

The coin was designed by Pompeo Coppini, a Texan. The obverse depicts an Eagle sitting on a branch in front of the Lone Star, the symbol of Texas. The reverse depicts the goddess Victory spreading her wings over the Alamo. It also depicts Sam Houston on her left and Stephen F. Austin on her right. The Six Flags of Texas fly above her head. Under her it reads REMEMBER THE ALAMO. Over Sam Houston, Victory, and Stephen F. Austin it reads THE TEXAS INDEPENDENCE CENTENNIAL.

Produced from 1934-1938 at the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco mints, they have the following specs, weight: 12.5 grams, diameter: 30.6 mm, composition: .90 Sil- ver and .10 copper. Reeded edge.



Q. What are the Diquis Spheres?  

A. The stone spheres (or stone balls) of Costa Rica are an assortment of over three hundred petrospheres in Costa Rica, located on the Diquís Delta and on Isla del Caño. Locally, they are known as Las Bolas (literally The Balls).
The spheres are commonly attributed to the
extinct Diquís culture and are sometimes re-ferred to as the Diquís Spheres. They are the best-known stone sculptures of the Isthmo-Colombian area. They are thought to have been placed in lines along the approach to the houses of chiefs, but their exact significance remains uncertain. When initially discovered by workmen of the United Fruit Co. in the 1930’s, several were blown up with dynamite in the mistaken belief that they contained gold.

Q. When minting coins, what is the difference between a “close” col- lar and an “open”collar? 

A. A close collar allows a lettered edge to be placed on a coin simul- taneously with the obverse and the reverse images. An open collar allows the planchet to expand without impacting the edge of the coin.

EDUCATIONAL FACT: The Civil War ended more than 150 years ago, but the U.S. government is still paying a veteran's pension from that conflict. 

"One beneficiary from the Civil War [is] still alive and receiving benefits," Randy Noller of the Department of Veterans Affairs confirms. 

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Irene Triplett – the 86-year-old daughter of a Civil War veteran – collects $73.13 each month from her fa- ther's military pension. The identity of Triplett was first reported by The Wall Street Journal in 2014. 

Triplett's father was Mose Triplett, born in 1846. He

joined the Confederate army in 1862, but later deserted and signed up with the Union. His first wife died and they did not have any children. He later married Elida Hall who was at least 50 years younger. They had five children, three of whom did not survive infancy. But Irene, and her younger brother Everette did. Mose Triplett was 83 when Irene was born, nearly 87 when her brother Everette came along. 

Mose Triplett died a few days after returning from the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1938. 

While Triplett has outlived all the spouses of Civil War veterans, it is not by as long a period as one might think. The last Confederate widow, Maudie Hopkins died on Aug. 1, 2008, at age 93. The last Union widow, Gertrude Janeway, died Jan. 17, 2003, also at age 93. The last Civil War veterans themselves, both Union and Confederate, died in the 1950s. Both men were more than 100 years old. (U.S. News)

Coin of the Month


The twelve-sided Australian fifty-cent piece is the third-largest denomination coin of the Australian dollar and the largest under a dollar in circulation. It is the only 12-sided coin of its size in the southern hemisphere. It was introduced in 1969 to replace the round fifty-cent coin issued in 1966.  

It is by diameter the largest Australian coin currently issued and second largest after the Crown of 1937–38. It is also the heaviest Australian coin in common circulation. Many commemorative designs have been issued, the large size allowing for detailed content.

As with all coins of Australia, the reigning monarch features on the obverse. Only Eliz- abeth II has been monarch during the coin's existence.

Unlike other decimal denominations, four different portraits of Her Majesty have been used on 50c coins. A unique effigy by Vladimir Gottwald was used for the 2000 Royal Visit commemorative fifty-cent piece. This is the only Australian decimal coin to have an obverse designed by an Australian and to have a portrait of the queen which is not also used on British currency.

Produced from 1969 to present at the Royal Australia Mint, they have the following specs, weight: 15.55 grams, diameter: 31.65 mm, composition: .75 Copper and .25 Nickel. Plain edge.

Currency Note of the Month

The Australian one-dollar note (or $1 bill) was introduced in 1966 due to decimalisa- tion, to replace the 10-shilling note. The note was issued from its introduction in 1966 until its replacement by the one-dollar coin in 1984. Approximately 1.7 billion one-dollar notes were printed. 
During the note's issue, between its introduction and 1974, the note bore "Common- wealth of Australia" as the identification of country. At least 680,000,000 notes were printed in this time period. After 1974 and until the dollar coin was introduced in 1984, the note bore "Australia" as its identification of country. Around 1,020,000,000 such notes were printed after 1974.

The Australian one-dollar note was designed by Gordon Andrews, the design being ac- cepted in April 1964. The note features Queen Elizabeth II wearing Garter robes on the obverse with the Australian coat of arms. This portrait was based on a photo taken by Douglas Glass. The reverse of the note features Aboriginal contemporary art, created by David Malangi. The artwork depicts the "mortuary feast" of one of the artist's cre- ation ancestors, Gunmirringu, the great ancestral hunter. The Manharrngu people at- tribute this story as the origin of their mortuary rites.

The one-dollar note was replaced by the current gold-coloured coin on 13 May 1984, due to the longer service life and cost effectiveness of coins.

 Book Recommendation


Paper Money Messages: A Pictorial Perspective
- Volume 1
by Jeffrey J Wing

A wide range of readers will be intrigued by the subject of paper money. This book is highly illustrated, making it an enticing study for those that simply enjoy the many art forms on the world’s cur- rencies. Paper money is part of the currency of every nation in the world, conveying messages of historical significance, ranging from the affairs of government in war and peace to the consequences of challenging economic times and political upheaval. The evolu- tion of its colorful imagery and revealing script provide for an in-

teresting study with broad appeal. Whether it expressed the pride that a town, state, or nation found in its historical background, its heroes and distinguished citizens, its archi- tectural accomplishments, or even themes of religious importance and the natural envi- ronment, paper money almost always reflected the temperament of the community. This book explores the role that money plays in our everyday lives and addresses the perception of a money’s value. What is it that gives this paper any real, material value, when it is backed solely by one’s faith in the government that issued it? History records the answer, by the number of governments which have experience hyperinflation. The enigma that people will accept the value of paper money unbacked by anything of real substance is a major topic covered by this book. 


Q.  What is considered a “Crown” coin?


A. The British crown is traditionally a large silver coin, 39mm in diameter and weighing a little over 28g, with a monetary value of 5 shillings. Earlier examples are .925 with an ASW of .8409 ozt, while some 20th century ones are .500 bringing the ASW down to a measly .4545 ozt (and, of course, even later examples with no silver content). 
World Crowns are coins from various countries around the world that are roughly similar in size to British Crowns from which the name originates. U.S. Silver Dollars such as Morgans fit the definition. World crown coins generally have diameters from 36mm to 40mm and weights from 20g to over 30g. Many have their weight and fineness struck on them, something that adds interest for collectors in addition to adding to their intrinsic value. 


Q. Crisps Attucks, a black man, was the first person killed in the Boston massacre, in Boston, Massachusetts, and is widely considered to be the first American killed in the American Revolution. Is it known how many blacks served in the Revolutionary Army? 

A. In 1775 at least 10 to 15 black soldiers, including some slaves, fought against the British at the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill. George Washington officially lifted the ban on black enlistment in January 1776 and there were also all-black units started in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. In all, approximately 5000 black soldiers participated in the revolutionary War.


EDUCATIONAL FACT:  President William Henry Harrison passed away 31 days into his term after catching pneumonia giving his inaugural speech. Since there was no defined succession procedure in the Constitution it was left to Vice-President John Tyler to decide whether to order himself sworn in as President or hold the office temporarily while a special election was held. He chose to have himself sworn in, setting a precedent that has been followed ever since. He was widely criticized for the decision and even his own Whig party refused to support him. He was often referred to as “the president without a party” and “His Accidency”. In 1842 he vetoed a bill to re-establish the Bank of The united States and his entire Cabinet resigned with the exception of Secretary of State Daniel Webster. However, the succession precedent he set was followed until 1967 when the 25th Amendment to the Constitution was passed creating a formal succession procedure

Coin of the Month


The Morgan dollar was a United States dollar coin minted from 1878 to 1904, and again in 1921. It was the first standard silver dollar minted since production of the previous design, the Seated Liberty dollar, ceased due to the passage of the Coinage Act of 1873, which also ended the free coining of silver. The coin is named after its designer, United States Mint Assistant Engraver George T. Morgan. The obverse depicts a profile portrait representing Liberty, while the reverse depicts an eagle with wings outstretched. One of the most popularly collected U.S. coins they are available in large numbers and grades. There are also a large number of varieties known. Sharply struck, proof-like, morgan dollars have highly reflective surfaces and are very scarce, and usually command substantial premiums.   Mintage totals for all mints combined shows over 20,345,000 were minted! Produced from 1878 to 1904, and then again for 1 year in 1921, at the Philadelphia, New Orleans, Carson City, Denver, and San Francisco mints, they have the following specs, weight: 26.73 grams, diameter: 38.1 mm, composition: .900 silver and .100 Copper. Reeded edge. 

Currency Note of the Month 

The 100,000 dollar bill is a banknote of the United States that was printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing from 1934 to 1935. It was never publicly circulated and was only used for transactions between Federal Reserve Banks. With a face value of 100,000 dollars, it is the highest-denominated piece of paper money ever produced by the United States. The note technically still holds the status of legal tender, but has not seen circulation since the 1960s.

It was printed from December 18, 1934 to January 9, 1935, and was issued by the Treasurer of the United States to Federal Reserve Banks only against an equal amount of gold bullion held by the Department of the Treasury. As the note was only intended for transactions between Federal Reserve Banks, no examples were ever put into circulation for the general public. Initially intended to facilitate larger money transfers between banks, use of the 100,000 dollar bill eventually ended in the 1960s, partially due to the advent of wire transfers. Since that date, many of the 42,000 examples printed were destroyed by the government, and as a result, only a few specimens are known to exist today. All of the surviving notes have been accounted for, and are currently in the hands of the United States Government; thus, private ownership of a legitimate example is illegal.

 Book Recommendation

Standard Catalog of World Crowns and Talers: From 1601 to Date- Including the Early Continental European Listings Paperback – April, 1994

by Chester L. Krause, Clifford Mishler, and Colin R. Bruce (Editor).

Get combined research on European world talers and issues of the Orient, Modern Island Nations and Americas from world coin expert Colin Bruce. Historical notes provide background data. If you are a Crown collector or if you are planning to be a Crown coin collector, then this and the world coin series from other centuries are a must. The list is near exhaustive and the photos and drawings of the individual coins is most helpful. The books also provide the collector with market prices for each coin.(


Q.  What is a “Hobo” nickel?

A. The hobo nickel is a sculptural art form involving the creative modification of small-denomination coins, essentially resulting in miniature bas reliefs. The US nickel coin was favored because of its size, thickness and relative softness. However, the term hobo nickel is generic, as carvings have been made from many different denominations.
Due to its low cost and portability, this medium was particularly popular among hobos, hence the name. Many artists made hobo nickels in the 1910s and 1920s, withnew artists joining in as the years went by. The 1930s saw many talented artists adopting the medium. Bertram Wiegand, known almost exclusively as Bert, began carving nickels in the teens, and his student George Washington Hughes, known as Bo, began carving in the late teens (and up to 1980). During this period, Buffalo nickels were the most common nickels in circulation.

Q. My friend has a $1FRN that has a bright blue reverse. Is this a printing error?

A. The green ink used to print paper money has both yellow and blue components. If the note is exposed to an acid or acid fumes the yellow component can be destroyed leaving a blue note. The opposite is also true. If the note is exposed to an alkali, the blue component can be destroyed leaving a yellow note. In both cases the note will have no premium value because the note has been altered vice it being a printing error. 

EDUCATIONAL FACT: In this day and age of leaks, hacks, and classified material being exposed, the story of the ship, the  Hughes Glomar Explorer is interesting. In 1968 the Soviet submarine K-129 sunk in the North Pacific. The Soviets lacked the technology to locate the sub but the U.S. in a combined Air Force/Navy effort was able to clandestinely locate the sub and extensively photograph it. The U.S. was interested in recovering the sub and its nuclear warhead but the depth, weight of 2,000 tons, and the secrecy needed, required a specialized recovery ship combined with a plausible cover story for its use. The CIA, with sponsorship by Howard Hughes,  was able to build the battle-ship size recovery ship, the Hughes Glomar Explorer with the cover story that it was for exploratory sea floor mining. Of course, as soon as they started operations in the area of the sunken sub, the Soviets started surveillance but the Explorer was able to recover 38 feet of the forward area of the sub containing 2 torpedoes and the remains of several crewmen before damaging the recovery grapple. Before a second attempt at recovery the story was finally exposed in the media and the operation was halted. But the operation had been a well kept a secret for over 7 years! The ship itself was too specialized for other uses, but in 1978 was actually leased out for use in sea floor mining which was the original cover story. In 2010 theHughes Glomar Explorer was sold for $20 million but it is currently scheduled to be scrapped sometime this year. For the full story and details see the book, "Project Azorian: The CIA and the Raising of the K-129".

Coin of the Month

I just noticed (and I actually do keep a list!) that I have not yet done a spotlight on one of the most popular U.S. series of coins, the Standing Liberty Quarter. Designed by Hermon A. MacNeil and released in 1916, it depicts Lady Liberty with her left arm upraised uncovering a shield in an attitude of protection. Her right hand bears the olive branch of peace. The original design was modified after the first year due to public outcry over Liberties exposed breast. The reverse was also altered then with a different arrangement of stars and the eagle was placed higher. In 1925, the date was recessed due to the date wearing quickly thereby making it last longer. Minted from 1916 to 1930 at the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco mints, they have the following specs, weight: 6.25 grams, diameter: 24.3 mm, composition: .900 silver and .100 Copper. Reeded edge. No proofs are known but some specimen strikings of the 1917 Type 1 issue are known.

Currency Note of the Month 

The Japanese yen is the 3 largest traded currency in the world and this months note is the largest issued denomination of Japanese currency, the 10,000 Yen Note. This particular note is the latest version, issued in 2011. The front side of the 10,000 yen note includes a portrait of Yukichi Fukuzawa, a Meiji era philosopher and the founder of Keio University. He is considered one of the founders of modern Japan.The back of the note shows a drawing of the Hōō (a mythical Phoenix-bird) in the Hall of the Phoenix, Byōdō-in.

While unassuming in its appearance, these notes feature extensive anti-counterfeiting measures including intaglio printing, holograms, microprinting, fluorescent ink, latent images, watermarks, and angle-sensitive ink. At todays current exchange rate the value of this note is $90.70.

Book Recommendation

Gold Coins of the World: From Ancient Times to the Present; an Illustrated Standard Catalog With Valuations 9th Edition by Arthur L. Friedburg

On every continent. In more than 50 countries. Wherever gold coins are bought and sold. The world s standard reference. New. Revised. Expanded. Now, bigger and more complete than ever! The indispensable classic reference: 832 pages, completely revised and updated. More than 8,500 photos, nearly ALL of them new. 22,000+ listings of coin types, with sections expanded and hundreds of new listings. Ottoman Empire coinage completely revised. From the 6th cent. BC to date over 2,500 years of gold coins from ancient Greece to Zanzibar. The universally-used FriedbergTMNumbering System: The worlds’ standard method of cataloging, describing, buying and selling gold coins. Tables of weight and fineness with each country. Market valuations in two states of preservation. Directory of the worlds’ leading gold coin dealers and auction houses. Unsurpassed in content and scope. A must for every collector, dealer and library. (


Q. Who came up with the idea of milled or reeded edges?


A. By the late 1600s, England's financial system was in full-blown crisis mode. The country's currency consisted entirely of silver coins, and that silver was often worth more than the value stamped on it. Some of the more enterprising criminals melted down the coins or "clipped" silver from the edges to sell to France. In 1696, the British government called on Sir isaac Newton to solve the problem of clipping. By that time, the average bag of English coins was just a hodgepodge of damaged and unrecognizable silver chunks. As such, forgers had a field day. Since English coins varied so widely in size and quality, it was easy to pass off even the most sloppy knockoffs as legal tender. Sir Isaac Newton recalled all English coins and had them melted down and remade into a higher-quality, harder-to-counterfeit design. It was a bold move, considering that the entire country had to make do without a currency for an entire year. Working as many as 18 hours a day, Newton reorganized the Royal Mints into high-quality, high-efficiency factories pumping out currency that was highly resistant to forgers. Milled edges, also called reeding, was a feature introduced by Newton on English coins to prevent clipping. (Numismatist, Sept. 2106)

Q. How much raw material does the U.S. Mint purchase for coinage?

A. While the actual amounts of raw coinage material is located somewhere in the an- nual budget report of the U.S. Mint, it can be difficult to locate. In March of 2000, the U.S. Mint released an announcement that it had purchased 3,600 tons of zinc, 1,938 tons of nickel and 18.3 million pounds of copper. 

The Mint doesn't buy metals on a daily basis, but it does watch for price fluctuations in order to buy when prices are favorable. Buying the metal is only part of the job. Some planchets from which our coins are struck are purchased from outside vendors. Most are made inside the Mint as part of the manufacturing process. 


Metals, precious or otherwise, are stored in ingot form at the Mint or nearby facilities. The ingots are heated, then placed on a rolling machine and rolled out into a long strip of a specific thickness before these strips are placed into a punch machine, which produces the blanks used for coins. (Richard Giedroyc - Mar 21, 2000)

250px-Phonautograph 1859

EDUCATIONAL FACT: The phonautograph is the ealiest known device for recording sound. Previously, tracings had been obtained of the sound-producing vibratory motions of tuning forks and other objects by physical contact with them, but not of actual sound waves as they propagated through air or other media.
Invented by Frenchman Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, it was patented on March 25, 1857. It transcribed sound waves as undulations or other deviations in a line traced on smoke-blackened paper or glass. Intended solely as a laboratory instrument for the study of acoustics, it could be used to visually study and measure the amplitude envelopes and waveforms of speech and other sounds, or to determine the frequency of a given musical pitch by comparison with a simultane- ously recorded reference frequency. 
Apparently, it did not occur to anyone before the 1870s that the recordings, called pho- nautograms, contained enough information about the sound that they could, in theory, be used to recreate it. Because the phonautogram tracing was an insubstantial two- dimensional line, direct physical playback was impossible in any case. 
Several phonautograms recorded before 1861 were successfully played as sound in 2008 by optically scanning them and using a computer to process the scans into digital audio files. (Wikipedia)

Currency Note of the Month

Large-Size United States Paper Money $10 Legal Tender Note

This months currency note is the Series of 1880 $10 legal tender note commonly called the“Jackass” note. If your turn the bill upside down, then the center eagle (sup- posedly?) looks like a donkey. A stern-faced Daniel Webster, engraved by Alfred Sealy, is shown on the left hand side of the bill and a vignette with Pocahontas is on the right side of the bill. 


Some 1880 $10 bills were rare for many years. However, in early 2000 a hoard of a hundred of these notes were discovered at a bank in Florida. That discovery has significantly lowered the cost of most 1880 $10 bills. These bills are regularly available inper- fect condition for very reasonable(?) prices. The current population census shows over 100 known. Variations: There are 14 different varieties to the1880 $10 bill. The varieties relate to signature, seal type, and serial color differences.

Coin of the Month

This months coin is the famous Krugerrand, a South African gold coin, first minted in 1967 to help market South African gold and produced by the South African Mint. By 1980 the Krugerrand accounted for 90% of the global gold coin market. The name itself is a compound of Kruger (the former South-African president depicted on the obverse) and rand, the South African unit of currency. During the 1970s and 1980s some Western countries forbade import of the Krugerrand because of its association with the apartheid government of South Africa.This ended in 1994. 

The Krugerrand is 32.77 mm in diameter and 2.84 mm thick. The Krugerrand's actual weight is 1.0909 troy ounces (33.93 g). It is minted from gold alloy that is 91.67% pure (22 karats), so the coin contains one troy ounce (31.1035 g) of gold. The remaining 8.33% of the coin's weight (2.826 g) is copper (an alloy known historically as crown gold which has long been used for English gold sovereigns), which gives the Kruger- rand a more orange appearance than silver-alloyed gold coins. Copper alloy coins are harder and more durable, so they can resist scratches and dents.

Book Recommendation


THE $2.50 & $5 GOLD INDIANS OF BELA LYON PRATT by Allan Schein.
The first comprehensive book ever written about this popular and 
unique American coin series. Includes an extensive biography of sculptor Pratt, his education and sculptural history. Numismatic contents includes the most up to date information available with chapters on the coins design elements, grading, DATA sheets, photographic grading section and more. every date, branch mint and proof coin of both denominations are presented clearly and concisely, visually and descriptively. Includes more than 725 images and dozens of varieties never before described. Complete in depth description of the Indians identity and the creation and develop- ment of these beautiful iconic coins. 


Q. In Marco Polo’s writings there is mention of “salt money” and how 80 cakes of salt was worth a “saggio" of gold. What is a saggio?

A. A saggio is not a specific item but a measure of weight. While dried salt cakes car- ried the seal of the Grand Khan and were officially valued at 80 cakes per saggio, the farther from the realm of the Grand Khan the less they were worth. A saggio is approx- imately 1/6 of an ounce of gold dust and was traded for anywhere from 80 salt cakes to a low of 40 in the outlying areas.


Q. On British “white” banknotes there is what appears to be a beehive at the foot of the vignette of Britannia. Does it have any special significance?


A. The beehive shown is called a “Skep” beehive. A medieval de- sign, it is made of woven straw with an opening to allow the bee colony entry and to allow them to create and build a hive. Bridal couples in medieval Holland were given a skep to parade around the village as a symbol of starting a new home, and a swarm of bees as a wedding gift. But, once the modern Langstroth box hive was perfected and came into common use, bee skeps fell out of fashion.They are no longer legal to use, in Britain anyway, for bee- keeping, since the only way to extract the honey is to cut open the beehive destroying the colony.


 EDUCATIONAL FACT: Recently, the board game Monopoly was in the news as the parent company Hasbro held an on-line voting contest to replace 3 of the aging game pieces. The thimble, wheelbarrow, and the shoe player pieces were retired and re- placed by a T-Rex, a penguin, and a rubber duck.  

While this may seem like a minor change when it comes to the classic version of the game there is also a new version of the game that is a fairly radical departure and re- flects the way current business and commerce is handled.  

While the classic game uses $20,580 in play money, the Ultimate Electronic Banking version utilizes player bank cards and a swiping unit called the Ultimate Banking Unit to track all the player cash balances, property values, title deeds, and even the event cards. Players swipe their cards rather than handling and counting the paper money and it reportedly greatly speeds up the game. Only time will tell which version will be- come the more popular but with dozens of variations of the game already on the mar- ket both should be around for a long time!

Currency Note of the Month

poster female deer

   One of the most famous of bogus notes is the Confederate 20 dollar ‘issue’ of 25 July 1861, a bill known among collectors as the “Female Riding Deer” note. The note was similar in genuine design to other Confederate notes in circulation, so it would not ap- pear unusual to those who were accustomed to have different notes of the same de- nomination in their possession. This twenty featured a woman riding a deer as its cen- tral vignette. Other ornamentation included an Indian smoking a pipe and the custom- ary numeration expressed as “20s” and “XXs”. To make the note appear convincing it’s face states that it is “Fundable in Confederate States Stock bearing Eight Percent In- terest”. The notes were hand-numbered in two places and contained printed signatures, which should have been a dead giveaway, as all genuine Confederate notes were signed by hand. The circumstances surrounding its issue are unknown; however, it was possibly the inspiration of one Samuel C. Upham, a Philadelphia merchant who dedicated his war years to making the South miserable. By his own admission he acknowledged responsibility for counterfeiting over 1.5 million notes, which were then smuggled into the South during the period 1862-1863. That the female riding deer CSA 20 dollar bill was widely accepted in the South as a genuine issue of their government there is no doubt, as almost all surviving specimens are well worn from circulation. From: (“THE USE OF BANK NOTES AS AN INSTRUMENT OF PROPAGANDA PART I” by John E. Sandrock) at

Coin of the Month


The real de a ocho, also known as the Spanish dollar, the eight-real coin, or the piece of eight (Spanish peso de ocho), is a silver coin, of approximately 38 mm diameter, worth eight reales, that was minted in the Spanish Empire after 1598. Its purpose was to correspond to the German thaler. Some countries countersigned the Spanish dollar so it could be used as their local currency.

The Spanish dollar was the coin upon which the original United States dollar was based, and it remained legal tender in the United States until the Coinage Act of 1857. Because it was widely used in Europe, the Americas, and the Far East, it became the first world currency by the late 18th century.

Millions of Spanish dollars were minted over the course of several centuries. They were among the most widely circulating coins of the colonial period in the Americas, and were still in use in North America and in South-East Asia in the 19th century.

Book Recommendation


The Collector's Handbook

by James L. Halperin

The Collector's Handbook is a step-by-step guide for collectors. From record keeping and preservation to tax planning and estate disposition/ liquidation methods, this handy primer cuts right to the chase on every topic. It is mostly written to the active collector, but pertinent chapters also have "Tips for Heirs" sections to aid non-collectors in avoiding common pitfalls when inheriting a collection. (And once you've read this book, its covenient size makes it perfect for inclusion alongside your collection in a storage vault or safe deposit box.)

Written by two owners of Heritage Galleries, the world's largest and most respected rare coin and collectibles dealer and auctioneer, The Collector's Handbook offers sound advice and the experience gained from billions of dollars in collectibles transac- tions over four decades.


Q.  What is a “holey” dollar?


A. Holey dollar is the name given to coins used in the early history of two British settlements: Prince Edward Island (now part of Canada) and New South Wales (now part of Australia). The middle was punched out of Spanish dollars, creating two parts: a small coin, known as a "dump" in Australia, and a "holey dollar". This coin was one of the first coins struck in Australia. 
To overcome a shortage of coins, in 1800 Governor Lachlan Macquarie took the initiative of using £10,000 in Spanish dollars sent by the British government to produce suitable coins in a similar manner to that described above. 
With the shipment of currency were strict instructions to prevent the newly arrived coinage from leaving the country, so after consultation with the Judge Advocate and other officials, Governor Macquarie had a convicted forger named William Henshall cut the centres out of the coins and counter stamp them, thus making them useless outside the colony. The central plug (known as a dump) was valued at 15 pence (i.e., 1 shilling, 3 pence, or 1s 3d), and was restruck with a new design (a crown on the obverse, the denomination on the reverse), whilst the holey dollar received an overstamp around the hole ("New South Wales 1813" on the obverse, "Five Shillings" on the reverse). This distinguished the coins as belonging to the colony of New South Wales, creating the first official currency produced specifically for circulation in NSW.The combined nominal value in NSW of the holey dollar and the dump was 6s 3d, or 25 percent more than the value of a Spanish dollar; this made it unprofitable to export the coins from the colony.

Q. I've noticed on a lot of currency that it warns of a penalty of death for counterfeiting. How common was capital punishment for counterfeiting actually imposed? 

A. While its common to see such warnings (threats?) on various issues of currency, rarely has the penalty officially been imposed. However, there is a famous incident that occurred in Illinois in 1841. At the time there was an organized criminal gang calling themselves the “Prarie Pirates” or “Banditti”, which specialized in counterfeiting, among other criminal endeavors in the northern Illinois area. They had become such as problem that a local vigilante group called the “Regulators” had been formed  to combat the crime problem. In Ogle County the leader of the local gang was John Driscoll and his 4 sons. After the murder of the leader of the Regulators, 500 of them rode to the home of Driscoll and a Regulator court found John Driscoll and his son William guilty of the murder. They were sentenced to be hanged but requested execution by firing squad instead. John Driscoll was executed first by a firing squad of 56 men (half of the Regulator jury) and then his son was executed by the other jury half of 55 men. The lynching of the Driscolls did not spell the end of the Regulators, nor the Banditti, but it did serve to greatly decrease Banditti activity in Ogle County!

Banditti Sign, IL 01

“Mob Trial and Execution", an Illinois historical marker near the mob lynching site where the Banditti "prairie pirates", father and son John and William Driscoll of the Driscoll Gang, were tried by an illegal Regulator court of 500 concerned citizens for murder and shot to death by a firing squad of 111 men.


EDUCATIONAL FACT: As the debate flares anew over whether to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, supporters of the prison camp are pointing to an often forgotten factoid: Gitmo is one of the best real estate deals the U.S. taxpayers have ever seen. 
Under a treaty signed more than a century ago, the United States technically pays Cuba a little more than $4,000 a year for the land. That's roughly the monthly cost of an apartment in Midtown Manhattan. And it's a check the Castro brothers' government rarely cashes. 
"Rent is only $4,000 a year, which Fidel Castro routinely refuses to cash ... out of protest,” as reported by
The Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay is the oldest existing U.S. military base outside U.S. territory. Located near the northern tip of Cuba, it faces Haiti and Jamaica, and is located on what was once the Oriente Province.
Its history with the United States dates back to June 10, 1898 when it was used as a camp for the first U.S. troops to arrive in Cuba during the Spanish-American war. Five years later, the U.S. signed the deal with Cuba to lease 46.8 square miles of land in Guantanamo Bay for 2,000 gold coins – or $4,085 a year.
The Feb. 23, 1903, deal was made by President Theodore Roosevelt as part of the Cuban-American Treaty.

Coin of the Month


The Indian Head Quarter Eagle represents a departure from all precedents in United States coinage. Its design features no raised edge, and the main devices and legends are in sunken relief below the surface of the coin.

Boston sculptor Bela Lyon Pratt was the designer of this and the similar half eagle piece. A pupil of the famous Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Pratt based his “standing eagle” motif on the reverse of his teacher’s gold ten-dollar coin of 1907. (That eagle was itself derived from the reverse of Theodore Roosevelt’s 1905 unofficial inaugural medal, designed by Saint-Gaudens and engraved by Adolph A.Weinman. Among the public, there was some concern that the recessed design of Pratt’s quarter eagle would collect germs—an unfounded fear. The artistry of the design was condemned loudly by some numismatists. Few people were interested in saving the coin for their collections. The result is a series with relatively few examples surviving in higher grades. Any initial disfavor has mellowed with time; today Pratt’s design is recognized as part of the early 20th-century renaissance of American coinage. Minted at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints  from 1908 to 1929 they have the following specs, weight: 4.8 grams, diameter: 18 mm, composition: .900 gold and .100 Copper. Reeded edge.

Currency Note of the Month 

Veazie Banknote

This small obsolete note may not look like much but it is an example of where there is more to the story than just the note. Prior to 1866, banks were chartered by the individual states with those banks issuing currency notes (now called Obsolete notes) which had mixed results in the stability of the bank and the value of those issued notes.

In an effort to stabilize the currency system and create a reliable federal revenue system, Congress passed the following, "That every national banking association, state bank, or state banking association shall pay a tax of ten percentum on the amount of the notes of any state bank or state banking association paid out by them after the 1st day of July, 1866.”. This effectively made it impossible for the state banks to issue currency and allowed the creation of a Federal government currency system using Legal Tender notes and National banknotes.

The Veazie Bank, owned by Samuel Veazie and portrayed on the note above, sued claiming the Federal government didn’t have this federal power to tax state chartered banks for issuing currency and refused payment of the tax.

In Veazie vs. Fenno (a Federal Tax collector), the U.S. Supreme Court opinion, written by Justice Salmon P. Chase, concluded that the act could be viewed not as a tax but as an action to control the national currency, clearly a congressional function and that the Veazie Bank would be required to pay the tax or close. Chase’s explanation of the power to tax would prove to be an important landmark in the years ahead, as the taxing power became a powerful instrument of public policy.

41qlHKP7NsL. SX331 BO1,204,203,200

 The Coin Store: A True Story of Drug Cartels, Mobsters, Cops and Agents Kindle Edition

by Patrick Burns Special Agent (Ret.)

Before anyone knew “El Chapo”, everyone knew Pablo Escobar. He was the King of Cocaine, the wealthiest and most violent criminal in the world. By the 1980s his Medellin Drug Cartel was responsible for smuggling several tons of cocaine into America each and every day, killing thousands of people along the way. The end result was hundreds of millions of dollars in cash profits. 

In response, Congress created the Money Laundering Act of 1986. The goal was to take the profit out of Escobar’s business. And the plan was working. Drug Money seizures went up. But as U.S. Agents became more and more efficient at finding the dirty cash, Pablo and other Cartel leaders sought a more efficient method to get their money back to Colombia. 

They found the solution in an unlikely place, a dusty back room of a tiny, rare coin shop in the small town of Cranston, Rhode Island. The shop owner was a young, local mobster who had already been laundering much of the Mob's stolen gold. With a few minor adjustments, his coin shop evolved into a springboard for a new venture, a billion dollar money laundering scheme. The Italian Mafia's stolen gold was used to dispose of the Colombian Cartel's dirty cash. It was the perfect scheme, brilliant. As his customer base grew, the young mobster, known as Fat Man, a.k.a. Mr. Cash, set up a string of phony gold shops crisscrossing America. The end result was one of the world's largest, most efficient money laundering networks. By some accounts, Fat Man laundered more than a billion dollars of drug profits for Pablo Escobar and the other Cartel leaders. This is the true story of how it all happened and how it was stopped, told by the DEA agent that did it!


Q. I am thinking about collecting U.S.military medals and was wondering what the laws/rules are as far as private ownership of such medals?

A. Military decorations such as medals, ribbons, miniature medals, and reproductions are legal to own, sell, and trade with the exception of the Medal of Honor.  18 USC 704, as regulated by 32 CFR 507, prohibits "purchasing, attempting to purchase, soliciting for purchase, mailing, shipping, importing, exporting, producing blank certificates of receipt for, manufacturing, selling, attempting to sell, advertising for sale, trading, bartering, or exchanging for anything of value" the Medal of Honor only. All other medals can be bought/sold/traded, etc. 

However, this regulation applies to possession only. 18 U.S. Code 704 also says: Whoever, with intent to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefit, fraudulently holds oneself out to be a recipient of a decoration or medal described in subsection (c)(2) or (d) shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than one year, or both. Additional penalties can also apply under this code, to a number of specific medals and combat badges. 

Q. We see MS and Proof 70 coins now on a regular basis and it was once believed that such perfection was unattainable. When were the first coins graded a perfect 70 by a third party grading service?

A. The first coins to receive a perfect 70 grade were $5 Statue of Liberty gold coins graded by The American Numismatic Association Certification Service (ANACS). In July of 1986 a single Uncirculated coin and 4-5 Proofs were graded MS and PR 70 respectfully. Prior to 1986 there were 5 recognized grades for uncirculated coins but after Professional Coin Grading Service entered the marketplace as a third party grading service that was expanded to the current 11 numerical grades. (Coin World, B. Deisher, Oct. 2016)

EDUCATIONAL FACT: In contrast to the American concept of “Finders Keepers”, the British have been proactive in the area of treasure finds research. A great deal of historical information can be gleaned when treasure, such as coin hordes and antiquities, are left intact at the discovery site. This information can be who and when, in general, may have hidden or lost the items and may provide clues as to the events of the era.
To that end, the British passed the Treasure Act of 1996 which provides that anyone that discovers a group of coins buried together or any artifact that is suspected to be more than 300 years old and has at least a 10% gold or silver content has a legal obligation to report the find to the local coroner within 14 days of discovery. A Treasure Valuation Committee then determines the value of the items and the British Museum is allowed first chance to purchase (or decline) the treasure. When the items are sold, a large percentage goes to the original finders and the landowner where it was discovered.

Book Recommendation

The Early Paper Money of America: Colonial Currency 1696-1810-By Eric P. Newman

A recent surge in this paper money arena provides a ready-made audience for a new edition of this one-of-a-kind book. Top-dollar auctions are putting more Colonial American paper money into collectors' hands, creating a wealth of collectors seeking a new edition of the definitive guide -- The Early Paper Money of America.

This is the collectors' best choice, because it:

*Offers 1,100+ detailed, high quality illustrations investors, history enthusiasts, re-enactment groups and educators can turn for identifying issues

*Represents the most comprehensive guide to Colonial American paper money and early states issues
*Provides information not readily available to general paper money collectors (Coin Week Nov. 2007)

Coin of the Month 

The Massachusetts Pine Tree Shilling was produced form 1667 to 1674. As early as 1650, the colony of Massachusetts Bay was a commercial success. But an inadequate supply of money put its future development in jeopardy. England was not inclined to send gold and silver coins to the colonies, for they were in short supply in the mother country. 

Taking matters into their own hands, Boston authorities allowed two settlers, John Hull and Robert Sanderson, to set up a mint in the capital in 1652. The two were soon striking silver coinage - shillings, sixpences, and threepences. Nearly all of the new coins bore the same date: 1652. 

This was the origin of America's most famous colonial coin, the pine tree shilling. The name comes from the tree found on the obverse. It may symbolize one of the Bay Colony's prime exports, pine trees for ships' masts. Massachusetts coinage not only circulated within that colony, but was generally accepted throughout the Northeast, becoming a monetary standard in its own right. 

Why the 1652 date? Some believe that it was intended to commemorate the founding of the Massachusetts mint, which did occur in 1652. Others believe the choice was a reflection of larger political events. Coinage was a prerogative of the King. In theory, these colonists had no right to strike their own coins, no matter how great their need. 

But in 1652, there was no king. King Charles had been beheaded three years previously, and England was a republic. The people in Massachusetts may have cleverly decided to put that date on their coinage so that they could deny any illegality when and if the monarchy were reestablished. 

This "1652" shilling is likely to have been minted around 1670. In 1682, the Hull/Sanderson mint closed after closer royal scrutiny of the operation.

It is composed of silver with an avg. diameter of 27.5 mm. and a weight of 4.120 grams.

Currency Note of the Month  

One of the most sought after collector type of Colonial currency are notes printed by Philadelphia printer Benjamin Franklin, whose firm manufactured paper money for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. His expertise in the most imaginative anticounterfeiting ideas began In 1739, when he began printing bills on which he deliberately misspelled Pennsylvania. A counterfeiter, Franklin figured, would correct the spelling on the assumption that the bills were themselves fakes, produced by a less literate criminal. 

The back of each of the bills featured an image of a leaf. Franklin worked with blocky lead printer's type, but the leaves, with their traceries of veins, had the fine detail of copper engravings. These "nature prints" succeeded in baffling counterfeiters, and everyone else as well. It wasn't until the 1960s that a historian discovered the secret: Franklin had made lead casts of actual leaves. 

Franklin, our national symbol of thrift, was a strong advocate of paper money, which to some represented economic irresponsibility. He argued to the English Board of Trade that the colonial economy could not survive on coins alone. But the dramatic fluctuations in the value of colonial currency - not to mention the confusion caused by all the different notes - worked against the interests of British merchants. In 1764, Parliament passed the Currency Act, which prohibited any further issue of American paper money. Like the Stamp Act the following year, this attempt to impose control over the colonies succeeded only in uniting them in protest. 


Q. Is it true that individuals could have the U.S. Mint strike Trade dollars for them, if the individual provided their own silver? 

 A. Individuals were charged a half percent striking fee under an 1873 law to have their own silver struck into Trade dollars. These coins were intended to be used only for international trade and were not meant to be released to the general public and such use was actually prohibited by law. In March 1875 the fee was raised to one percent in a effort to discourage their release to the gener- al public. However, the value of silver had dropped to the point that, even with the cost of striking, it still was economically viable to have $1 face value U.S. coins minted.

Q. What is a “hoer” note?

A. There are 2 Confederate notes that depict the vignette of 3 slaves hoeing (weeding) cotton. The first was a $50 First Issue (1861 T-1) note, and the second, is a $100 (Fourth Issue T-42). Some collectors like to collect Confed- erate notes by the vignette on the note. There are 39 dif- ferent vignettes on Confederate notes and 13 portraits. There is a number of varieties of those vignettes depend- ing on the note design and issue.

Historical Fact: With all of the political talk of the last few months I thought I would in- clude an article written by Peter Huntoon, staff writer for the Bank Note Reporter.

“The First National Bank of Liberal MO, charter 7094, lasted less than seven years be- tween 1903 and 1910 before being converted into the Bank of Liberal under a state charter. During its short existence the bankers issued small number of $5, $10, and $20 Red Seals. None have been reported. The town currently has a population of less than 800 and is located north of Joplin close to the western border of the state.  

Now this was a town with an interesting founding. George Walser, a free thinking lawyer, bought 2,000 acres upon which he organized the town in 1880 as a utopia for atheists where Christians were not to be allowed. “With one foot upon the neck of priestcraft and the other upon the rock of truth” he declared it a home for intellectual infidels that should have neither God, Jesus, devil, hell, church, preacher, nor saloon. Of course, Christian missionaries took all of that as quite a challenge and slowly infil-trated the place despite the early posting of Walser’s followers at the train station who would advise disembarking Chris- tians that they “weren’t welcome.” (Peter Huntoon, Bank Note Reporter, Sept. 2016) Ed. note:The banknote is a recently discovered proof example.

Book Recommendation

A Guide Book of Morgan Silver Dollars, 5th Edition

In the fifth edition of A Guide Book of Morgan Silver Dollars, Q. David Bowers offers an engaging portrait of the country's most popular classic coin. You'll learn what to look for when you buy, how to grade your coins, how to cherrypick varieties, and ways to become a smarter collector.

The pricing, text, and certified population data have been edited and updated. New research covers counterfeit error coins and other topics, including a numismatic bombshell: recent discoveries and photographs revealing the previously unknown 1964 Morgan silver dollar.

The fifth edition includes a history of the silver dollar dating back to the 1790s, and chapters on the Morgan dollar's design, its minting process, the five mints that struck the coin from 1878 to 1921, and Treasury hoards and other accumulations. Collectors benefit from advice on ways to collect Morgan dollars; grading and the marketplace, and how to specialize in die varieties. The book's year-by-year catalog is an analysis by date and mintmark of more than 100 coins in the series, priced in up to eleven circulated grades and three levels of Proof. Appendices offer further study of Morgan dollar patterns and error and misstruck coins.  (Ed.Note: this months selection was inspired by Phil DeAgustino and his donation of this book for the Christmas party raffle!)      

Coin of the Month

The Canadian one dollar coin, commonly called the loonie, is a gold-colored one-dollar coin introduced in 1987. It bears images of a common loon, a bird which is common and well known in Canada, on the reverse, and of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse. 

The coin has become the symbol of the Canadian dollar: media often discuss the rate at which the loonie is trading against other currencies. The nickname loonie (huard in French) became so widely recognized that in 2006 the Royal Canadian Mint secured the rights to it. When the Canadian two-dollar coin was introduced in 1996, it was in turn nicknamed the "toonie" (a portmanteau of "two" and “loonie").

It has been produced by the Royal Canadian Mint at its facility in Winnipeg from 1987 to present with the following specs: Weight- 6.27 g. Composition: .91.5% Nickel and 8.5% Bronze plating. Diameter: 13 or 26.5 mm. Eleven sided, smooth edge.

Currency Note of the Month 

Since the “Coin of the Month” is the Canadian dollar coin I thought it appropriate that I feature the note that it replaced. 

On July 3, 1934, with only 10 chartered banks still issuing notes, the Bank of Canada was founded. It took over the federal issuance of notes from the Dominion of Canada. It began issuing notes in denominations of $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $25, $50, $100, $500 and $1000. In 1944, the chartered banks were prohibited from issuing their own currency, with the Royal Bank of Canada and the Bank of Montreal among the last to issue notes. The $1 note was printed from 1935 to 1989. Printing of the $1 note ceased in 1989 after the release of the loonie (in 1987) had been implemented. These notes are virtually never seen in circulation today. The most recent banknote series that included the $1 note was the Scenes of Canada, with the $1 note released in 1974, coloured green and black. The face featured a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II; the back featured an image of Parliament Hill from across the Ottawa River, with log driving activities taking place on the water.


Q. What is a piedfort coin? 

A. A piedfort (French pronunciation: pee-ay-for or pyay-for; English pronunciation: peed-fert or peed-fort) is an unusually thick coin, often exactly twice the normal weight and thickness of other coins of the same diameter and pattern. Piedforts are not normally circulated, and are usually only struck for presentation purposes by mint officials (such as patterns), or for collectors, dignitaries, and other VIPs. Piedfort is commonly misspelled as "piefort".The first British piedforts were silver pennies minted during the reign of Edward I (1239 to 1307). Britain stopped routinely minting piedforts in 1588, but France continued to mint them for at least another 150 years before also ceasing production. The routine production of piedforts began again in France in 1890, and Britain began to produce piedforts available to the public for the first time in 1982. Since then, Great Britain's Royal Mint has become well known for creating many commemorative piedfort coins. China produced piedforts for collectors in 1988.

Q. In reading about obsolete notes, I am seeing references to the terms "spurious", "counterfeit", and "raised". What are the differences as they relate to obsolete currency?
A. Obsolete currency notes are notes issued by any public entity prior to the Federal Government issues starting in 1865. At best, the U.S. banking system was a hodgepodge of State and Municipal banks plus various businesses all issuing various types of bank and change notes which made things easy for the scam artists of the time.
The term “spurious” is used for a note where the stated issuer or bank didn’t exist. In other words a totally fake note.
“Counterfeit” means that while the issuer or Bank was a real business or bank, the note itself was not legally issued by them and thus was worthless.
Lastly, a “raised” note is a real issued note that has been altered to increase the value, such as changing a $1 note to a $5 note. This could be done in a number of ways, varying from crudely pasting over the denomination to actually purchasing notes from a printer and making them any denomination wanted.
Surprisingly, these notes all circulated because it was difficult to determine the validity of any specific note unless the person was able to go to the locale in person. Because of that most obsolete reference books list all of these types of notes with notations as to their status. 

Historical Fact:  There are regular references to “The Seven Wonders of the World” but few know what they are (or were). Various lists of the Wonders of the World have been compiled from antiquity to the present day, to catalogue the world's most spectacular natural wonders and manmade structures.
The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World is the first known list of the most remarkable creations of classical antiquity; it was based on guidebooks popular among Hellenic sightseers and only includes works located around the Mediterranean rim. The number seven was chosen because the Greeks believed it represented perfection and plenty, and because it was the number of the five planets known anciently, plus the sun and moon.
The original wonders list was compiled by the historian Herodotus (ca. 484 – 425 BCE), and the scholar Callimachus of Cyrene (ca. 305 – 240 BCE) at the Museum of Alexandria. Their writings have not survived, except as references.
The classic seven wonders were:
Great Pyramid of Giza
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Statue of Zeus at Olympia
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
Colossus of Rhodes
Lighthouse of Alexandria
The only ancient world wonder that still exists is the Great Pyramid of Giza. 

Coin of the Month 

The gold dollar was produced from 1849 to 1889. 1849 to 1853 gold dollar coins were 13 mm across and are called Type I. Type II gold dollars were thinner but larger at 15 mm diameter and were produced from 1854 to 1855. The most common gold dollar are the Type III and started in 1856 until 1889. Production US $1 gold dollars was high until the Civil War and by 1863, only the larger value gold coins were produced in large quantities. 

Most gold coins produced from 1863 and onward were produced for imports to pay for enormous amounts of war material and interest on some US Government bonds. Composed of 90% pure gold, it was the smallest denomination of gold currency ever produced by the United States Federal government. When the US system of coinage was originally designed there had been no plans for a gold dollar coin, but in the late 1840s, two gold rushes later, Congress was looking to expand the use of gold in the country’s currency. The gold dollar was authorized by the Act of March 3, 1849, and the Liberty Head type began circulating soon afterward. Because of the high value of gold, the gold dollar is also the smallest coin in the history of US coinage. 

Minted from 1849 to 1854 at the Philadelphia, Charlotte, Dahlonega, San Francisco, and New Orleans mints. Specs: Weight- .04837 oz. Composition: .900 Gold and .100 Copper.  Diameter: 13 or 15mm. Reeded Edge. Designer-James B. Longacre.

 Currency Note of the Month  

This month I picked the Series of 1886-1908 $10 Silver Certificate, commonly called the “Tombstone” note. The portrait of Hendricks appears like it is featured on a tombstone. The tombstone design may not be an accident by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Thomas Hendricks (the man in the portrait) died just a few months before his image was used on 1886 $10 silver certificates. So the tombstone style may have been an acknowledgement to his recent passing. Hendricks was the acting Vice-President of The United States when he died in office.

The Tombstone ten dollar silver certificate was issued from 1886 until 1908. No star notes were printed for either series of 1886 and 1891, but there are some 1908 Tombstone star notes known to exist.  There are ten different signature combinations over the span of issued notes  There is no premium for one signature combination over another.  Each note has a red seal and blue serial numbers.  

Type Values range from $500 in Fine up to around $7,000 in Uncirculated condition. 1886 specimens are generally double those figures.

Book Recommendation 

Counterfeiting and Technology: A History Of The Long Struggle Between Paper-Money Counterfeiters And Security Printing by Bob McCabe

For centuries legitimate authorities and equally determined rogues have fought in an attempt to improve (or copy) the technology and security of paper money. Now in Counterfeiting and Technology, their stories are captured in vivid detail from colonial times to the present. Paper-money historian Bob McCabe explores the lives of the innovators who made brilliant advancements in the chemistry and ingenuity of America's paper money. Counterfeiters, mostly unknown or unrecognized for their dishonest cleverness until now, are finally brought to light. McCabe details the beginning and evolution of the U.S. Secret Service and the men who sought to capture the villains. And he follows the technology of American currency—from paper-making fugitive inks to roller presses—from early colonial attempts to the modern era.

Counterfeiting and Technology presents the history of paper money in a way that's never been seen before. It combines chemistry and artistry, inventions and escapades, tales of arrest and daring escapes. Collectors and historians of American money will love this engaging and informative narrative about our nation's paper currency.(Amazon) 


Q. Has a coin ever been listed in the “Red Book” and then removed?


A. Yes, at least one, the Good Samaritan Shilling,  was listed in the first 12 or more editions. It was described thusly, “The Good Samaritan Shilling, supposed to be a pattern piece, was struck at a Boston mint and is extremely rare. This piece is of the same general type as the Pine Tree Shilling, but has a device illustrating the parable of the Good Samaritan on the obverse. It is in silver and dated 1652 on the reverse.” In 1959, numismatic researcher Eric P. Newman exposed the piece as a fraud saying the Good Samaritan Shilling “was the fakest coin in history!” 

In 1848 the British Museum purchased a Good Samaritan Shilling that was known to exist as early as 1730. The coin, Newman determined, was a Pine Tree Shilling on which the obverse had been ground off and replaced with the seal of the British Commission of Sick and Wounded, a 17th century precursor of the Red Cross. English coin dealer Thomas Snelling and American dealer Thomas Wyatt separately faked their own versions of the supposedly genuine coin and palmed them off on unsuspecting collectors. The “Red Book” listed the piece for a few years but added a note that the known specimens were fabrications.(Coin World, Gerald Tebben, 2016)

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Q. Ever heard of a “scruple” coin?

A. A scruple coin is actually not a coin but an apothecary weight. Pharmacists used them to measure medicines on a small balance scale prior to digital scales and and medicine in pill form. They have the appearance of coins and are often collected like a numismatic item. They are relatively inexpensive. For info: a scruple is equal in weight to 20 grains and 3 scruples equals a drachm or dram.


Historical Fact: Hollow coins were used by Soviet agents as early as the 1930’s to hide microdots (tiny photographic reductions of documents) and coded messages. The ploy was discovered in Brooklyn, NY in 1953 when a newspaper boy dropped a nickel he was given by a woman buying a paper. Upon hitting the ground, the coin popped apart, revealing a tiny photograph hidden inside. The photo contained a series of numbers. An exhaustive four-year investigation of the mysterious coin by the FBI revealed the existence of a Soviet spy ring in New York, resulting in the arrest and imprisonment of Soviet agent Rudolf Abel. The woman who gave the newspaper boy the hollow coin was a spy associate of Abel’s.

Coin of the Month


The Barber Half Dollar was designed by United States Bureau of the Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber. They were minted between 1892 and 1915. By the late 1880s, there were increasing calls for the replacement of the Seated Liberty design, used since the 1830s on most denominations of silver coins. In 1891, Mint Director Edward O. Leech, having been authorized by Congress to approve coin redesigns, ordered a competition, seeking a new look for the silver coins. As only the winner would receive a cash prize, invited artists refused to participate and no entry from the public proved suitable. Leech instructed Barber to prepare new designs for the dime, quarter, and half dollar, and after the chief engraver made changes to secure Leech's endorsement, they were approved by President Benjamin Harrison in November 1891. Striking of the new coins began the following January.

Public and artistic opinion of the new pieces was, and remains today, mixed. In 1915, Mint officials began plans to replace them, after the design's minimum term expired in 1916. The Mint issued Barber dimes and quarters in 1916 to meet commercial demand, but did not issue half dollars. Before the end of the year, the Walking Liberty half dollar had begun production. Barber half dollars saw heavy circulation during their heyday and mainly for this reason (and collector demand), Barber half dollars of any date are becoming very difficult to locate in the higher circulated grades (Extremely Fine and above). Barber half dollars in Fine and Very Fine are also relatively scarce in number when compared to the numbers of Barber half dollars that grade between Good and Very Good. 

Minted at the Philadelphia, Denver, New Orleans, and San Fransisco Mints  in 1892 to 1915 they have the following specs, weight: 12.5 grams, diameter: 30.6 mm, composition: .900 silver and .100 Copper. Reeded edge.

Currency Note of the Month 

These Zimbabwean $100 Trillion notes are the largest denomination currency notes ever issued. Only a few million of the note shown were actually printed and by the time they were issued they were practically worthless. Zimbabwe issued these large denomination notes in early 2009 but in just a few months one of these wouldn’t even pay for bus fare. Shopkeepers were literally changing their cash prices hourly in an effort to keep up with a hyperinflation rate of over 230 million% per year! Use of the Zimbabwean dollar as an official currency was effectively abandoned on 12 April 2009. The Zimbabwean dollar was demonetised in 2015, with outstanding bank accounts able to be reimbursed until April 30, 2016 at a rate of $5 US to 175 Quadrillion Zimbabwe dollars! The front of the notes depict the famous Chiremba Balancing rocks and the reverse vignettes are local Zimbabwean scenes. Surprisingly, these notes were very inexpensive after they were demonetized, $3-4 for uncirculated notes, but due to collector interest they currently sell for $50-60. As an aside, to make change for these notes, denominations of $50 Trillion, $10 Trillion, and $500 Million were also printed.

Book Recommendation

Coin Collecting Albums - A Complete History & Catalog, Volume Two: Library of Coins & Treasury of Coins by David W. Lange (Author) 

This book is a complete history and catalog of coin albums produced by The Coin & Currency Institute. It features detailed listings of each item in the Library of Coins and Treasury of Coins lines. It is richly illustrated, including 64 pages in full color. Also included is a biography of Robert Friedberg and a profile of his books.


Q. Are the terms “Eagle” and its derivatives I.E. half-eagle, quarter-eagle, etc. official names or are they just the common names numismatists use to describe the different weight U.S. gold coins?

Half oz $25 American Eagle Gold Coins

A. It is a common misconception that "eagle"-based nomenclature for gold U.S. coinage was merely slang. This is not the case. The "eagle," "half-eagle" and "quarter-eagle" were specifically given these names in the Coinage Act of 1792. Likewise, the double eagle was specifically created as such by name ("An Act to authorize the Coinage of Gold Dollars and Double Eagles", title and section 1, March 3, 1849).

Q. What is a “touch” coin?

Gold Snuff Box

A. It was believed at one time that Royal Monarchs and the Pope were endowed with the power to heal by touching the afflicted person. Touch coins, are coins or medallions that were both given out as momento’s and some that are believed to have healing powers imparted to them by the giver. The tradition of touch pieces goes back to the time of Ancient Rome, when the Emperor Vespasian (69–79 AD) gave coins to the sick at a ceremony known as "the touching.” Many touch piece coins were treasured by the recipients and sometimes remained in the possession of families for many generations, such as with the "Lee Penny" obtained by Sir Simon Lockhart from the Holy Land whilst on a crusade. This coin, an Edward I groat, still held by the family, has a triangular-shaped stone of a dark red color set into it. The coin is kept in a gold box given by Queen Victoria to General Lockhart. It can supposedly cure rabies, hemorrhage, and various animal ailments. The coin was exempted from the Church of Scotland's prohibition on charms and was lent to the citizens of Newcastle during the reign of King Charles I to protect them from the plague. (Wikipedia)

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Educational Fact: John Summerfield Staples is not a common name although he holds a unique place in the history of the Civil War. Born in 1845 in Stroud Township in rural Pennsylvania, he enlisted in late 1862 as a private in Company C of the 176th Pennsylvania volunteer infantry, but only served a few months due to illness, likely typhoid fever.
Following his medical discharge, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked with his father as a carpenter. In October 1864, he was approached by a representative of President Lincoln. During the Civil War, it became customary for many citizens to pay for "substitutes" to serve in the army in their place. Hoping to set a good example, President Lincoln selected Staples as his substitute and offered him a bounty of $500. Staples saw little action during the year he served as the president's representative, primarily working as a clerk and prison guard. He mustered out in September 1865.
Following the war, Staples returned to Pennsylvania where he died in 1888. He is buried in Stroudsburg Cemetery.
In 1910 a bill appropriating funds to erect a memorial to Summerfield was introduced in the United States House of Representatives. In 1999, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and the Monroe County Historical Association erected a historical marker on W. Main Street in Stroudsburg to commemorate John Summerfield Staples and his ties to President Lincoln.

   Book Recommendation


The Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins By Q. David Bowers.Foreword by Kenneth Bressett. From Q. David Bowers comes a book so comprehensive and authoritative that only the "Dean of American Numismatics" could have created it! Drawing on the expertise of dozens of specialists from around the world, plus Bowers's own vast knowledge of the subject, the Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins includes: Chapter 1: Money in Early America Chapter 2: Minting and Distribution Chapter 3: Collecting Colonial Coins Chapter 4: How to Use This Book Chapter 5: Silver Coins of Massachusetts Chapter 6: British Coins and Tokens for America, Early Issues Chapter 7: American Coins and Tokens from 1783 to 1788 Chapter 8: Other Early American Pieces Chapter 9: European Coins and Tokens for America, Later Issues Chapter 10: Early Washington Coins and Tokens Chapter 11: Unrelated Foreign Coins Chapter 12: 19th Century Colonial Copies and Fantasies.This is the new definitive reference on colonial and early American coins and tokens, and related issues.

Currency Note of the Month 

The note I picked this month has a very interesting story behind it. It is the Series 1900 $10,000 Gold Certificate. Most were destroyed, with the exception of a number of bills that were in a box in a post office near the U.S. Treasury in Washington, D.C. There was a fire there on 13 December 1935, and employees threw burning boxes of Treasury material out into the street to reduce the fuel for the fire. The box of canceled high-denomination currency burst open in the street and were quickly snatched up by passers-by. However, much to the dismay of the scavengers, they were worthless due to the cancellation markings. There are several hundred outstanding, and their ownership is technically illegal, as they are stolen property. However, due to their lack of intrinsic value, the government has not prosecuted any owners, citing more important concerns. They carry a collector value in the numismatic market and, as noted in Bowers and Sundermans' The 100 Greatest American Currency Notes, are the only United States notes that can be purchased for less than their face value. This is the only example of "circulating" U.S. currency that is not an obligation of the government, and thus not redeemable by a Federal Reserve Bank. The note bears the portrait of Andrew Jackson and has no printed design on its reverse side. Editors Note: As an aside, there is a local CA dealer that has one of these notes for sale and due to its grading certification having a notation of “Exceptional Paper Quality” is worth a substantial premium. Most of these notes show evidence of fire or water damage.

Coin of the Month

The legend of the elusive ape-man continues at the Royal Canadian Mint. In the U.S. we refer to this creature as Bigfoot, in Asia they refer to it as the Yeti, and in the far reaches of the Canadian wilderness, Sasquatch is the hairy beast that roams the woods and now appears on silver rounds.

The RCM is never one to shy away from the chance to include a unique privy mark on their coins. Their newest privy is the Bigfoot, featured on the RCM’s 2016 $5 Silver Maple Leaf Coin.The RCM’s eccentric privy also makes it a great coin for collectors interested in unusual coin designs.

The obverse features the countenance of Queen Elizabeth II and the reverse portrays the iconic Canadian maple leaf. Below the maple leaf appears Sasquatch in stride. The image of the ape-man is a familiar one to cryptozoologists and anyone who’s seen the 1967 images from the Patterson-Gimlin film that claimed to capture Sasquatch on video.  

From descriptions, Bigfoot is an enormous creature standing around 10 feet tall and weighing around 500 lbs. On Canada’s $5 fine silver coin however, the Sasquatch is mere millimeters.

Thousands of reports from all over the world have claimed to have encountered the creature, but none have been confirmed. So the legend of Bigfoot continues. No matter what you call it—Sasquatch, Bigfoot, or the Yeti—the fascination with its possible existence remains. Produced by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2016 they have the following specs, weight: 31.03 grams, diameter: 38mm, composition: 1 troy oz. .9999 silver. Reeded edge.


Q. I’ve seen gold jewelry advertised as available in different colors. What is the difference that makes that happen?

A. Gold is usually sold in 3 general hues, yellow gold, red gold, and pink gold. The difference is in the type and amount of the alloys used. Since gold is such a soft metal, it is usually alloyed with other metals.  For example, 22K Yellow gold is 91.6% gold, 5% Silver, 2% copper and 1.33 zinc. 18K Red gold is 75% gold and 25% copper and 18K Pink gold is 75% gold, 20% copper and 5% silver.  By varying the percentages of the different metals in the alloy various hues can be produced. 

Q. I specialize in aviation related coins and picked up an Australian coin with an early plane that has the name “Houdini’ on it. Could you give me some details? 

A. What you have is a 2010 Perth Mint commemorative coin celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the first airplane flight in Australia. Surprisingly, Harry Houdini, of escape artist fame, was interested in powered flight. He purchased a Voisin French box kite flyer, had it shipped to Australia, and in 1910 became the first person to fly an airplane in Australia! It must not have been that important to Houdini however, because after his historic flights, he sold the airplane and returned to the U.S. to resume his stage career. Your coin has a image of the airplane and the annotation “Diggers Rest (the location) March 18th, 1910”.

Educational Fact: The Parthenon in Athens, Greece is beyond many peoples budget to visit, but there is also the Parthenon in Nashville! Listed in the U.S. National Register of historic places, it is a full scale copy of the original. Built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, today it functions as an art museum. Alan LeQuire's 1990 re-creation of the Athena Parthenos statue is the focus of the Parthenon just as it was in ancient Greece. The statue of Athena Parthenos within is a reconstruction of the long-lost original to careful scholarly standards: she is cuirassed and helmeted, carries a shield on her left arm and a small 6-foot-high (1.8 m) statue of Nike (Victory) in her right palm, and stands 42 feet (13 m) high, gilt with more than 8 pounds (3.6 kg) of gold leaf; an equally colossal serpent rears its head between her and her shield. Since the building is complete and its decorations were polychromed (painted in colors) as close to the presumed original as possible, this replica of the original Parthenon in Athens serves as a monument to what is considered the pinnacle of classical architecture. The plaster replicas of the Parthenon Marbles found in the naos (the east room of the main hall) are direct casts of the original sculptures which adorned the pediments of the Athenian Parthenon, dating back to 438 BC. Many fragments of the originals are housed in the British Museum in London; others are at the Acropolis Museum in Athens.

Currency Note of the Month 

Went with a big note this month! An 1891 $1,000 Marcy Silver Certificate sold Wednesday, June 12, for a new world record price of $2.6 million, Stack’s Bowers Galleries has announced.

The 1891 $1,000 Marcy Silver Certificate, Graded VF 25 by PMG, is one of two known to exist, with the other held in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.

The note was purchased from a collector who wishes to remain anonymous and was sold to an anonymous buyer.
On the front and to the right of the note is a depiction of William L. Marcy, a U.S. Senator, the 11th Governor of New York and Cabinet member holding positions of Secretary of War and Secretary of State. To the left is an allegory of Peace, holding a sword with a 1000 counter on a shield. Signatures: James Fount Tillman (Register of the Treasury) and Daniel Nash Morgan (Treasurer of the United States). On the back of the note are the boldly emblazoned words SILVER, CERTIFICATE, UNITED STATES and 1000.

Large-size silver certificates started with the Series of 1878 and ended with the Series of 1923. The Bland-Allison Act of February 28, 1878, which created Morgan silver dollars, was also the genesis for Silver Certificates. A curious section in the legislation stipulated that Silver Certificates were not legal tender but could be exchanged for legal tender silver dollars. Silver Certificates of Deposit were soon printed.

Coin of the Month

I decided to get back to a basic coin selection this month, after that $1000 note, although the 1943 steel cent has quite an interesting story. The 1943 steel cent, also known as a steel war penny or steelie, was a variety of the U.S. one-cent coin which was struck in steel due to wartime shortages of copper. It used the same design that Victor David Brenner had made in 1909 for the copper Lincoln cent. Due to wartime needs of copper for use in ammunition and other military equipment during World War II, the United States Mint researched various ways to limit dependence and meet conservation goals on copper usage. After trying out several substitutes (ranging from other metals to plastics) to replace the then-standard bronze alloy, the one-cent coin was minted in zinc-coated steel. This alloy caused the new coins to be magnetic and 13% lighter. 

However, problems began to arise from the mintage. Freshly minted, they were often mistaken for dimes. Magnets in vending machines (which took copper cents) placed to pick up steel slugs also picked up the legitimate steel cents. Because the galvanization process didn't cover the edges of the coins, sweat would quickly rust the metal. After public outcry, the Mint developed a process whereby salvaged brass shell casings were augmented with pure copper to produce an alloy close to the 1941–42 composition. This was used for 1944–46-dated cents, after which the prewar composition was resumed. Although they continued to circulate into the 1960s, the mint collected large numbers of the 1943 cents and destroyed them.[3]

The steel cent is the only regular-issue United States coin that can be picked up with a magnet. The steel cent was also the only coin issued by the United States for circulation that does not contain any copper. Produced in 1943 by the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints, they have the following specs, weight: 2.7 grams, diameter: 19mm, composition: steel coated with zinc. Plain edge.

Book Recommendation

Lincoln's Metallic Imagery by Paul A. Cunningham

From nationally and internationally well-known exonumist Paul A. Cunningham comes the completely updated and expanded version of King's 'Lincoln in Numismatics'. Listing all known metallic exonumia bearing Abraham Lincoln's likeness, photos are featured with concise item descriptions, logically organized and easily referenced. This stunning hardbound book features 1600 new, full-color photos, some never before seen by the public. Take a step back in time and trace Lincoln's life from his earliest political days in Illinois to his last days and beyond through the world of coins, tokens, medals and plaques. This book has something to offer all collectors of Lincoln paraphernalia.


Q. Since the medals are different for every Olympics do you have any info on the ones that will be awarded in Rio?

A. Gold, Silver, and Bronze are what Olympic dreams are made of! However, the medals for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 have been made from extra special materials. Produced by the Brazilian Mint, the 5,130 medals for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be symbols of sustainability and accessibility as well as sporting excellence. The coveted prizes, which weigh 500g each, comprise 30 per cent recycled silver and bronze while the ribbons are made from 50 per cent recycled PET. Meanwhile, the gold medals are completely free of mercury. 
The gold medals are purer than ever, meeting sustainability criteria from extraction to refining, as well as meeting strict environmental and labour laws. They make use of recycled raw silver at 92.5 per cent purity, coming from leftover mirrors, waste solders and X-ray plates. And 40 per cent of the copper used in the bronze medals came from waste at the Mint itself. The substance was melted and decontaminated to provide material for the medals.
The Olympic medal design includes the traditional laurel leaf while the Paralympic prizes feature engravings representing the “seeds of courage, persistence and development of the athletes.” As is tradition, the reverse side of the medal displays an etching of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. Commemorative gold, silver, bronze and golden bronze medals will be available to purchase. 

Q. has the U.S. ever minted bi-metal coin? That is a coin with a center plug of one metal ringed by a second metal?

A. While a number of other countries produce 2 and 3 metal coins, the U.S. has only minted one. That is the 2000 Library of Congress Bicentennial $10. The coin is composed of a gold outer ring with a platinum center plug.

Educational Fact: While most people think that business and afterlife shouldn’t mix, Seth Paine was a spiritualist that founded, helped by major investor Ira B. Eddy, the Bank of Chicago on Sept. 1st, 1852. The prospectus of the new bank, written by Paine himself, stated the banks principals as: 
“We loan to no one to pay debts. We loan to no one to aid in the murder of anything which has life. We loan to no man to speculate in the necessities of life. We loan nothing on real estate, believing that it cannot be bought or sold. We loan nothing to aid in the manufacture or sale of liquor or tobacco. We loan nothing to gamblers or or money lenders. Our basis for making loans is the established character of the borrower. He must be temperate, honest, and religious, with a mind sufficiently developed to understand business.”
Soon after the bank opened a trance medium named Mrs. Herrick was hired to channel the spirit of Alexander Hamilton and Mrs. Herrick (or Alexander Hamilton depending on your belief!) approved all customers. Anyone the spirits didn’t approve of was thrown out by the bouncers on staff! Women, children, Negroes (sic), and spiritually minded men were served in that order.
Eventually the largest investor  in the bank, Ira B. Eddy was adjudged insane and an injunction served to protect his interests in the bank. All these things came to a head with a run on the bank and the subsequent arrest of the entire bank corps. This caused the bank to go out of business. However, despite its bizarre operating procedures, the bank was totally solvent and all banknotes issued by  the bank were redeemed in full.

Book Recommendation

The book everyone has been waiting for is now out! That's right, the slab book was recently released and well worth the small price to get one. Over 420 pages in length, it cover over 80 companies and 200 varieties of normal production, sample slabs, novelty slabs and bodybags combined. Each one has a photo along with a description of the slab and history of the company and slabbing in general.Collecting sample slabs is easy and fun. It can be a simple as going to a show and stopping by a services table to pick a free one up or browsing eBay. They are relatively scarce, and usually no more than several hundred are made for each show or new label change. On average there are less than 200 produced and are never made again. Many collectors pick them up at the show and later crack out the coin and spend it, or just plain forget about them in some dusty drawer. New varieties are constantly being found which adds to the excitement of this new field.

Their scarcity does not keep them from being unattainable. Most samples can be found in the $8-$15 range and the more scarce ones in the $40-$55 (few dozen known) range. Bargains are definitely out there in dealer junk boxes, as most of them don’t know much about samples. Collecting scarce samples is fun, cheap and somewhat unappreciated right now.-Cameron Kiefer

Coin of the Month

In 1984 the U.S. minted a $10 Los Angeles Olympiad Commemorative Gold Coin. It was the first U.S. gold piece minted in over 50 years and it is also noteworthy  for being the first coin to bear the “W” mintmark of West Point. 

The  obverse depicts two runners bearing the olympic Torch aloft and was designed by John Mercanti based on a concept by James Peed; an artist at the mint. The eagle on the reverse is modeled after that on the Great Seal. 

Produced in 1984 by the West Point Mint, they have the following specs, weight: 16.718 grams, diameter: 27 mm, composition: 900 gold and .100 copper. Reeded edge.

Currency Note of the Month

Confederate notes are very popular with collectors and this month I decided to feature the smallest denomination Federate currency printed, the 50c note. These notes were part of both the 6th and the 7th issues of Confederate currency which accounts for the 2 different issue dates. They are also noteworthy as being the only Confederate currency with printed signatures vice hand-signed.

The notes feature the portrait of Jefferson Davis in profile and have the printed signatures of Robert Tyler (Confederate Register of the Treasury and son of U.S. President Tyler) and Edward C. Elmore (Treasurer of the Confederacy). The reverse is blank. They also feature the promise across the left edge of the bill: "SIX MONTHS AFTER THE RATIFICATION OF A TREATY OF PEACE BETWEEN THE CONFEDERATE STATES AND THE UNITED STATES" and then across the middle, the "CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA WILL PAY FIFTY CENTS TO BEARER”. There is one noted variety for both issues, that being a missing flourish above the series letter. Also the notes have both red and black serial numbers. 1,831,517 of these notes were issued and are worth approx. $50 in uncirculated condition.


Q. I thought that the Declaration of Independence was on display at the Library of Congress. But I recently read that there is more than one original copy?

A. After ratifying the text on July 4, Congress issued the Declaration of Independence in several forms. It was initially published as the printed Dunlap broadside that was widely distributed and read to the public. The source copy used for this printing has been lost, and may have been a copy in Thomas Jefferson's hand. Jefferson's original draft, complete with changes made by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, and Jefferson's notes of changes made by Congress, are preserved at the Library of Congress. The best known version of the Declaration, a signed copy that is popularly regarded as the official document, is displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. This engrossed copy was ordered by Congress on July 19, and signed primarily on August 2. 
The Dunlap broadsides were the first published copies of the Declaration of Independence, printed on the night of July 4, 1776. It is unknown exactly how many broadsides were originally printed, but the number is estimated at about 200. There were 24 known copies of the Dunlap broadside in 1989, when a 25th broadside was discovered behind a painting bought for four dollars at a flea market. On July 2, 2009, it was announced that a 26th Dunlap broadside was discovered in The National Archives in Kew, England. It is currently unknown how this copy came to the archive, but one possibility is that it was captured from an American coastal ship intercepted during the War of Independence. 

Q. Why are $2 bills considered unlucky?

A. Two-dollar bills have never been popular. Introduced in 1862 the bill was nicknamed a “deuce” for its “2” denomination but “the deuce” was also a euphemism for the devil which didn’t help its reputation!
In 1925 the U.S. government made an unsuccessful attempt to popularize them by inserting one in each pay envelope given to federal employees. Several newspapers offered to aid in the campaign by giving prizes for two-dollar bills containing certain serial numbers. The Post Office Department, however, pronounced this practice a lottery and therefore a violation of the postal laws. 
There were a number of social mores related to why the notes are considered unlucky. 
1. In the 1930’s, a 5 minute session with a prostitute cost $2, thus possession of one of those bills proved its holder had been consorting with ladies of the evening. 
2. In the days when election-rigging was the norm, campaign bosses would hire men to vote for their candidate. The ringers would be trucked in, given names from the voters' list to claim as their own, and the name of the man they were to vote for. Once they'd done the deed, they would each be rewarded with a $2 bill. The same fellows would be moved from polling place to polling place, each time to assume new names, vote for the same guy, and be paid again. Having $2 bills in your wallet was therefore proof you'd sold your vote. 
3. The standard bet in American horse racing was two dollars, and winners were paid with $2 bills. Ergo, possession of a sheaf of these notes was prima facie evidence that one had been betting on the ponies. Given the prohibitions against gambling (in the not-so-distant past it was considered an activity thoroughly steeped in sin), no respectable person wanted to be associated with it, not even by happenstance.

However, the bad luck could be dispelled by tearing or cutting a corner from the note but a number of people did this every time they spent one which resulted in large quantities being pulled from circulation due to damage! There was also a short-lived superstition in the 1920’s that $2 bills were lucky because it was possible to see four leaf clovers in the lawn of the Monticello vignette under magnification!

Educational Fact: Trade dollars are silver coins minted as trade coins by various countries to facilitate trade with China and the Orient. They all approximated in weight and fineness the Spanish dollar, which had set the standard for a de facto common currency for trade in the Far East. While here in the U.S. the most recognized is the U.S. Trade dollar, there were at least 3 countries that produced silver trade dollars specifically for use in China. These coins, including the U.S. Trade dollar, are the:

                    U.S. Trade Dollar                                        British Trade Dollar

                  French Indochina Piastre                             Japanese Trade Dollar

These Trade dollars were generally produced during the mid 1800’s through the turn of the century with various levels of success in the Chinese market. The Chinese also produced their own coin, the Dragon Dollar intended for use in the international market. All of these types of trade dollars were eventually demonetized and redeemed in some way by their issuing country. The U.S. Trade dollar was demonetized in 1887 but was restored to legal tender by the Coinage Act of 1965 making it the only U.S. silver to ever be demonetized.

Book Recommendation

“Philippine Emergency Notes: Counterstamped, Signed & Initialed, Cebu Province by Kenneth J.E. Berger, D. Env.

While this may seem to be an unusual choice for a book recommendation, I am always happy to give support to a local numismatic writer. Ken Berger is a noted expert in these  notes and resides in San Diego. He is also a member of a number of southern California clubs including the San Diego Paper Money Club and the International Numismatic Society of San Diego. By way of background on these notes, at the start of WWII, then Philippines President Quezon authorized the issuance of Emergency currency notes to be used in the country during the war. These notes were signed or stamped as authorization by various individuals, including the Japanese, while they occupied the country, and this book is an examination of all the authenticating signatures and stamps used in each locale. The forward for the book is written by Neil Shafer, noted Philippines currency expert, and author of numerous articles on the subject. The first 200 books are individually serialized and included with the book is a sample authentic Cebu Emergency note with the book serial number matching the serial number of the note! There is also a CD with the book on it in digital format. On a personal note, I purchased my copy from Ken at the San Diego Coinarama show so I was able to have it signed and personalized. I hope to have Neil Shafer also sign it at the Worlds Fair of Money in August.

Coin of the Month

The United States Bicentennial coinage was a set of circulating commemorative coins, consisting of a quarter, half dollar and dollar struck by the United States Mint in 1975 and 1976. Regardless of when struck, each coin bears the double date 1776–1976 on the normal obverses for the Washington quarter, Kennedy half dollar and Eisenhower dollar. No coins dated 1975 of any of the three denominations were minted.

A nationwide competition resulted in designs of a Colonial drummer for the quarter, Independence Hall for the half dollar and the Liberty Bell superimposed against the moon for the dollar. All three coins remain common today due to the quantity struck. Circulation pieces were in copper nickel; Congress also mandated 45,000,000 part-silver pieces be struck for collectors. The Mint sold over half of the part-silver coins before melting the remainder after withdrawing them from sale in 1986.

Currency Note of the Month

Development of the first banknotes began in the Tang Dynasty during the 7th century, with local issues of paper currency, although true paper money did not appear until the 11th century, during the Song Dynasty. Its roots were in merchant receipts of deposit during the Tang Dynasty (618–907), as merchants and wholesalers desired to avoid the heavy bulk of copper coinage in large commercial transactions.

Before the use of paper, the Chinese used coins that were circular, with a rectangular hole in the middle. Several coins could be strung together on a rope. Merchants in China, if they became rich enough, found that their strings of coins were too heavy to carry around easily. To solve this problem, coins were often left with a trustworthy person, and the merchant was given a slip of paper recording how much money he had with that person. If he showed the paper to that person he could regain his money.

Song Dynasty Jiaozi, the 
world's earliest paper money Eventually, the Song Dynasty paper money called "jiaozi" originated from these promissory notes.

By 960 the Song Dynasty, short of copper for striking coins, issued the first generally circulating notes. A note is a promise to redeem later for some other object of value, usually specie. The issue of credit notes is often for a limited duration, and at some discount to the promised amount later. The jiaozi nevertheless did not replace coins during the Song Dynasty; paper money was used alongside the coins.

The central government soon observed the economic advantages of printing paper money, issuing a monopoly right of several of the deposit shops to the issuance of these certificates of deposit. By the early 12th century, the amount of banknotes issued in a single year amounted to an annual rate of 26 million strings of cash coins.


Q. I recently read an article in “Paper money” magazine about a vignette on the 3rd Issue 50c Justice fractional note that depicts an eagle that was a Civil War mascot. Do you know any details? 

Justice Eagle 1oldabecarte-de-visite-1

A. On the 50c Justice note there is an eagle on the shield that is under Justice’s right arm. The eagle is “Old Abe” and was the mascot of Co. “C” of the 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. The following is from the Wisconsin Veterans Museum: 
“One of the most well known figures in Wisconsin from the Civil War is Old Abe, an American bald eagle who served as the mascot for the Eighth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He participated in over thirty battles, narrowly avoiding significant wounds on several occasions. During the war, he became a rallying point to Union troops and an anathema to Confederate soldiers, who called him the Yankee Buzzard and set bounties on him. His service to the Union resulted in widespread fame, and his life after the war reflected the esteem with which Wisconsin and other states held him. While fire ultimately took Old Abe’s life and physical remains, his legacy still remains and can be seen to this day around Wisconsin and the United States.”

Q. What are “adjustment marks”?

cgold2 Fotor

A. Adjustment marks are marks that are left after a precious metal planchet or coin blank has been filed to make the blank meet the weight standard of a particular denomination coin. Usually the flat side is filed and then when the blank is stamped the file marks are obliterated. However, sometimes deep filing marks may be able to still be seen. There are also some cases, particularly older coins struck without a collar, where the blank is filed on the edge. Generally , adjustment marks are considered mint made and are not a factor in the desirability or grade of the coin. Adjustment marks are far less important on the reverse than on the obverse and less important at the border of a coin than at the center. Adjustment marks are most often seen on coins from the 1790’s and early 1800’s but they are sometimes seen on coins as late as the 1830’s.


Educational Fact: In 1880 Billy the Kid  was involved with a counterfeit money laundering scheme. After knowingly receiving payment for some stolen cattle in the form of counterfeit currency, he was a subject of interest in an investigation by the Secret Service. When Billy discovered that the Secret Service agent sent to New Mexico knew of his involvement, (by illegally reading the agents’ mailed reports, with the help of a crooked mail carrier), he volunteered to snitch on the rest of the ring. However, the original counterfeiter in New York had already been arrested so the Kid’s offer was never acted on and he was never charged. The story would end there except that the agent retained a sample of the counterfeit money as part of his case file and it was recently discovered in the Secret Service archives! The case file contained information about the ring and detailed the Kids’ involvement and provides a glimpse into the real life of one of the Wests most famous personalities. The photo is of the actual note from the file.

Book Recommendation

“Collecting Coins in Retirement” by Tom Bilotta


Coin collecting during retirement poses special challenges and offers unique opportunities, says professional numismatist Tom Bilotta, an award-winning developer of software for coin collectors. For more than 20 years Bilotta has worked closely with retirement-age hobbyists, giving him a firm understanding of their wants and needs. Now he shares his insight in a valuable step-by-step guidebook. Are you a longtime collector? Collecting Coins in Retirement coaches you toward increased enjoyment of the hobby and helps you plan for the future. Or maybe you re a family member of a collector? This book helps you understand the hobby and lays the foundation for wisely managing an inherited coin collection. Coin collectors will learn: Why coin collecting is different in retirement, how to devise a collecting strategy that works for you, ways to define your hobby objectives and consolidate your collection, when, where, and how to sell your coins, and important information to share with your family. Ways to allocate your collection to heirs Family members will learn: The issues involved in managing an inheritance The best ways to profit from an inherited coin collection Strategies for selling different parts of a collection Probate and tax considerations Also inside: Coin industry trends Selling on eBay for pleasure and profit Using technology in your hobby and more! Well thought out and presented, logical, and user-friendly Collecting Coins in Retirement is a must-read for hobbyists and their families. (

Coin of the Month

The 2011 Medal of Honor $5 Gold Coin was issued by the United States Mint to recognize and celebrate the establishment of the Medal of Honor, to recognize its recipients, and promote awareness of the award and what it represents. The Medal of Honor is the highest award that may be given to a member of the Armed Services for valor in action against an enemy force.

The obverse design of the gold coin features the original Medal of Honor authorized by Congress as the Navy’s highest personal decoration. The dual dates of “1861” and “2011” are included to mark the 150th anniversary. Additional inscriptions read, “Liberty”, “In God We Trust”, and “Medal of Honor”.

A rendition of Minerva is depicted on the reverse of the coin. She appears in full figure, holding a Union shield and flag with munitions and a Civil War era cannon in the background. Minerva appeared within the central image of the original Medal of Honor.

The maximum authorized mintage for the Medal of Honor Gold Coins was established at 100,000 under the authorizing legislation. Produced in 2011 the Proof coins were struck at the West Point Mint, while the uncirculated coins were struck at the Philadelphia Mint. They have the following specs, weight:  8.359 grams, diameter: 21.6 mm, composition: 90% gold and 10% alloy, reeded edge.

Currency Note of the Month

Hawaii Wartime Emergency  notes are an interesting currency collecting niche and are enjoyed by a large number of currency collectors.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, military officials surmised that in the event of an invasion of Hawaii, Japanese forces would have access to a considerable amount of US currency that could be seized from financial institutions or private individuals. Faced with this scenario, an order was issued to recall all regular US paper money in the islands, save for set caps on how much money both individuals ($200) and businesses ($500, save extra currency for payroll purposes) could possess at any time.

On June 25, 1942, new overprinted notes were first issued. Series 1935A $1 silver certificate, Series 1934 $5 and $20 Federal Reserve Notes, and Series 1934A $5, $10, and $20 Federal Reserve Notes from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco were issued with brown treasury seals and serial numbers. Overprints of the word HAWAII were made; two small overprints to the sides of the obverse of the bill between the border and both the treasury seal and Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco seal, and huge outlined HAWAII lettering dominating the reverse. The hope was that should there have been a Japanese invasion, the US government could immediately declare any Hawaii-stamped notes worthless, due to their easy identification.

With this issue, military officials made the use of non-overprinted notes redundant and ordered all Hawaii residents to turn in unstamped notes for Hawaii-stamped notes by July 15. Starting from August 15, 1942, no other paper currency could be used except under special permission. The notes and issuance continued in use until October 21, 1944. By April 1946, the notes were being recalled. Many notes were saved as curios and souvenirs by servicemen.


Q. I recently saw for sale a1920 Maine Centennial Commemorative Half Dollar in XF condition. Since these are commemorative coins why are so many found in circulated condition?

A. The Maine Centennial Half Dollar was authorized by Congress to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the formation of the state of Maine.  Congress authorized the minting of the coins on May 10, 1920, to be sold at the centennial celebration at Portland. They were received too late for this event and were sold by the state treasurer for many years. Ultimately the coins were sold by the Maine Centennial Commission to the public for $1 each but many circulated at face value after the centennial celebration was over. The Philadelphia Mint produced 50,028 coins, with the unsold quantity retained by the Maine State Treasurer, rather than melted.

Q. I have read that the only woman portrayed on U.S. Federal currency was Martha Washington. Is that true or have there been others? 

A. While it is true in general, there are technical exceptions which accounts for some of the confusion. Martha Washington's featured portrait is on 2 different notes, the obverse of the 1886 $1 Silver Certificate and the reverse of the of the 1896 $1 Educational Silver Certificate with her husband George. 

However, Pocohantas was also on 1863-1882 $20 First Charter notes as part of a painting of her baptism featured on the reverse. Her sister is also depicted in the painting but not by name. She is also shown in another vignette painting on 1869 and later $10 Legal Tender notes being presented to another woman, Queen Elizabeth the First. 

There are also numerous unidentified women on various notes with group scenes, such as the pilgrim scenes on early large notes. Lastly there are also numerous allegorical images of women representing themes such as education, steam, and electricity on the 1896 Educational Silver Certificate series. 

Educational Fact: In 1913 it was legal to mail children. With stamps attached to their clothing, children rode trains to their destinations, accompanied by letter carriers. One newspaper reported it cost fifty-three cents for parents to mail their daughter to her grandparents for a family visit. As news stories and photos popped up around the country, it didn't take long (1920) to get a law on the books making it illegal to send children through the mail. In the early years of Parcel Post service, before the U.S. Post Office implemented more specific regulations, people shipped all sorts of unusual things by mail — including, as suggested above, babies and small children. However, it was neither a regular occurrence nor a routine aspect of the Parcel Post service for people to wrap up children, slap some stamps on them, and ship them cross-country — the few documented examples of children being sent through the mail were nearly all publicity stunts, instances of people who knew the postal workers in their area asking them to carry their babies a relatively short distance along their routes to some nearby relatives, or cases in which children were listed as 'mail' so they could travel on trains without the necessity for purchasing a ticket. Neither of the photographs displayed above has any connection to a real-life case of a child being sent via U.S. mail and are believed to be  publicity stunt photos .

Book Recommendation

The Numismatourist: The Only Worldwide Travel Guide to Museums, Mints, and Other Places of Interest for the Numismatist by Dr. Howard M. Berlin.

The Numismatourist is the first book of its kind as a worldwide travel guide for the numismatist. It is also for the numismatist who is traveling, either on vacation or business, and wishes to visit those places that are of interest to the hobby or profession. Inside you will find a numismatic travel guide, listing over 175 places in 75 countries open to the public, with almost 100 of these described in detail with pictures that are spread over North, Central, and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Oceania-Pacific. The book's foreword is written by Karen M. Lee, Curator, National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution.

Coin of the Month


The American Silver Eagle is the official silver bullion coin of the United States. It was first released by the United States Mint on November 24, 1986. It is struck only in the one-troy ounce size, which has a nominal face value of one dollar and is guaranteed to contain one troy ounce of 99.9% pure silver by the U.S. Mint. In addition to the bullion version, the United States Mint also produces a proof version and an uncirculated version for coin collectors.

   The design on the coin's obverse was taken from the "Walking Liberty" design by Adolph A. Weinman, which originally had been used on the Walking Liberty Half Dollar coin of the United States from 1916 to 1947. The obverse is inscribed with the year of minting or issuance, the word LIBERTY, and the phrase IN GOD WE TRUST.
   The reverse was designed by John Mercanti and portrays a heraldic eagle behind a shield; the eagle grasps an olive branch in its right talon and arrows in its left talon, echoing the Great Seal of the United States; above the eagle are thirteen five-pointed stars representing the Thirteen Colonies. The reverse is inscribed with the phrases UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 1 OZ. FINE SILVER~ONE DOLLAR, and E PLURIBUS UNUM (on the banner that the eagle holds in its beak), as well as the mintmark if applicable.  

   Produced from 1986 to present at the Philadelphia, San Francisco, and West Point Mints, depending on whether the issue is a bullion, proof, or uncirculated issue, they have the following specs, weight: 31.101 grams, diameter: 40.6 mm, composition: 99.93 silver and .07 copper, reeded edge.

Currency Note of the Month


With the discussion ongoing as to whether a woman should be placed on a U.S. currency note and then on what denomination, I thought that this would be a good choice for this months note. 
  This is a $1 Silver Certificate, Series of 1891 (Fr. #223), depicting Martha Washington with engraved signatures of James Fount Tillman (Register of the Treasury) and Daniel N. Morgan (Treasurer of the United States). Note: FR.#222 is similar but has the printed signatures of Rosecrans and Nebecker. Martha Washington is the only adult woman (other than vignettes representing Liberty and Justice) depicted on United States Banknotes from the federal issuing period of 1861 to the present.
  The portrait featured on the currency is a copy of a painting by Gilbert Stuart.  The portrait is the only existing likeness of Martha Washington by Stuart. He painted it in 1796, along with a companion portrait of George Washington.  Stuart deliberately left the portraits unfinished so he would not have to deliver them to the Washingtons.
Today the Martha Washington portrait is in the National Portrait Gallery in the Smithsonian Institution.
  Value of this type note is very dependent on condition. An example in Fine runs approx. $3-400 while uncirculated examples can be obtained for less than $2,000.


Q. I am familiar with currency notes of huge denominations due to hyperinflation, such as the Zimbabwe Trillion dollar notes, but were there similar high denomination coins?

A. One of the most famous examples of hyperinflation  is probably the period in the Germany Weimar Republic between 1914 and 1923 when the victor nations in World War I decided to assess Germany for their costs of conducting the war against Germany. With no means of paying in gold or currency backed by reserves, Germany ran the currency presses, causing the value of the Mark to collapse. In 1914 the German  Mark was  being exchanged at 4.2 marks to the dollar but by 1923 had fallen to 4.2 TRILLION marks to the dollar! A 5 million mark coin was issued by the German State of Westphalia in January 1923 but, despite its high denomination, this coin's monetary value dropped from its issue value of $714.29 to about 1/1000 of a cent by October of 1923, substantially less than the value of its metallic content.

Q. I read that the Japanese have an ATM that actually cleans the bills before dispensing them to customers? Is the story real?

A. There are some bank automated teller machines there that sanitize and press bills before customers withdraw funds. The "Clean ATMs," as they are known, dispense yen notes that, while not quite as crisp as newly minted ones, are nearly wrinkle-free. Customers can even insert bills and get them back laundered.
The machines feed bills through a roller, heat them to 392 degrees and supposedly kill 90 percent of certain staphylococcus bacteria before disbursing them to customers. 

Virgin money plays an especially key role at weddings, where cash is the favored gift. No respectable Japanese would give anything but untainted bills.
"If you go to a ceremony, it is our culture to bring money that is not bent," said Masahiro Takahashi, spokesman for the Clean ATM's manufacturer, Hitachi Ltd. "Sometimes we cannot prepare. If you pass by the ATM, it will iron the money."Hitachi had hoped to sell 500 of the machines in the first year, and in the first five months already has orders for 250. Most are from small regional banks that, Takahashi suggested, want to present a "clean" image. 

Educational Fact: While it has been a long time since there was a stagecoach robbery to steal the Wells, Fargo and Co. strongbox, Wells Fargo is still going strong and criminals are still targeting its valuables. In January  2015, the Wells Fargo corporate museum in San Francisco was targeted by 3 thieves that rammed an SUV thru the glass entranceway, held a security guard at gunpoint, and broke into a glass display case holding gold nuggets from the Forty-Niner days! While the stolen nuggets are valued at about $10,000 -their sentimental value aside- damage to the entrance was estimated at more than $200,000. Two iconic red and yellow company stagecoaches on display were undamaged in the heist. 

Book Recommendation 

100 Greatest Women on Coins by Ron Guth (Author)100 Greatest Women on Coins is the 10th entry in Whitman Publishing's popular "100 Greatest" library. More than 700 queens, princesses, empresses, actresses, political and religious leaders, goddesses, and other women were up for consideration. They were voted on and ranked by members of Women in Numismatics to determine the 100 Greatest Women on Coins. The 100 Greatest Women on Coins include real women such as Cleopatra, Martha Washington, and Elena Aladova; goddesses such as Athena, Demeter, and Nike; allegorical women (who represent and idea or nationality) such as Miss Liberty, Mother Earth, and Britannia; and women in art, such as La Pietà and Auguste Renoir's Girls at the Piano. "This book is a celebration of women's impact on numismatics," says award-winning author Ron Guth. Each notable woman is described with an illustrated essay and colorful images of the coins on which she appears. Guth also discusses the long history of women featured on coins, and how anyone today can assemble a remarkable and meaningful collection. The book's scholarly value is further expanded with a checklist for the specialist, and bibliography for further research.

Coin of the Month 

I saw this coin? advertised in Coin World and it was so extravagant I thought I would feature it. It is a 1 Kilo (32.15 oz.) of .999 gold concave coin produced by the Monnaie de Paris mint matched with a porcelain tripod and bowl produced by Sèvres, Cité de la Céramique. 

The obverse features the half-length portrate of Maire-Antoinette on the face of the plate designed coin, and embraced by a "Grand Feu Blue" or Royal Blue (Sèvres’ signature colour) enamel backdrop.

The reverse: offsetting the magnificent depth of this coins majestic obverse, the reverse of this coin mimics the beautifully crafted matching Porcelain Bowl. The bowl is a replica of Queen Antoinettes 1787 “bol sein” and is decorated with the Sèvres blue glaze on the interior and topped with a rim of gold. The Bowl's porcelain tripod, also used as a stand for the kilo, has the heads of three goats just as the original did.

It carries a nominal denomination of 5000 Euros and only 16 will be produced. It currently carries a price tag of only $134,000!

Currency Note of the Month

This month I am highlighting a note that is close to home.. You’ll also note that this particular note is the one I used for our club cards!  I am including the original auction listing from Heritage Auctions below: 

Hemet, CA - $5 1902 Plain Back Fr. 606 The First NB Ch. # (P)10764
This hamlet in Riverside County featured a lone National Bank which was chartered in 1915. It issued Series 1902 Plain Backs in denominations of $5, $10, and $20. When it was liquidated in the summer of 1934, just $440 in large size notes remained outstanding. The recent discovery of this note boosts the number of known large size notes from this bank to just three pieces. Just one of those pieces has made an auction appearance, a modest but well circulated Fine that we sold in 2004 for $6325. This serial number 2 example comes directly from a descendent of one of the signers and, aside from being folded for safe keeping in a desk drawer or jewelry box, saw no wear. The paper is perfectly original with only folds accounting for the grade. The signatures of Thomas and Whittier remain bold, and even margins frame the design details. A simply lovely California rarity. PCGS Very Fine 35PPQ. Ed.:This note sold for $12,337.50 in 2012.


Q. What is a “raised” note?

A raised note is a note that has been altered to increase its value, usually by changingthe denomination markings . One common method is to glue numerals from higher denomination notes to the corners of lower denomination notes. These bills are also considered counterfeit, and those who produce them are subject to the same penalties as other counterfeiters.

Obsolete notes, were issued by a variety of institutions from 1782-1866 and were particularly susceptible to being raised since vignettes and designs widely varied from bank to bank. Also in a number of cases, when a bank would fail, the unused notes would be prime material for either being raised or falsely issued!

Q. I have what I believe is a Spanish coin, based on the writing, but can’t find any information about it. Any idea?

A. What you have is a Mexican arras token. A Catholic wedding tradition requires that the groom gives the bride a container of 13 coins known as an arras. Wealthy grooms can give gold coins as arras. Next would be silver, then copper coins. Others would use gold-plated or silver-plated tokens (not coins, but they look like coins). Most of these come from Mexico, but there are similar tokens from other countries. 
These tokens often have the words 'Recuerdo Matrimonial' which translates as 'Wedding Souvenir' or 'Marriage Memory'. Other tokens, specifically 'Maximilano' gold tokens made to look like old-fashioned coins, could be used.

Historical Fact: After last months meeting there was a discussion about the origins of the symbol known as the swastika. So I decided to do a little research on the symbol and its origins.

The Swastika (also known as the gammadion cross, cross cramponnée, or wanzi) and as a character: (卐 or 卍) is an ancient religious symbol that generally takes the form of an equilateral cross, with its four legs bent at 90 degrees. It is considered to be a sacred and auspicious symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism and dates back to before 2nd century B.C.

It has been used as a decorative element in various cultures since at least the Neolithic. It is known most widely as an important symbol long used in Indian religions, denoting "auspiciousness."

It was adopted as such in pre-World War I-Europe and later, and most notably, by the Nazi Party and Nazi Germany prior to World War II. In many Western countries, the swastika has been highly stigmatized because of its use in and association with Nazism.

It continues to be commonly used as a religious symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Western literature's older term for the symbol, gammadion cross, derives mainly from its appearance, which is identical to four Greek gamma letters affixed to each other.The name swastika comes from the Sanskrit word svastika, meaning "lucky or auspicious object".

Book Recommendation

An Illustrated Catalogue of Early North American Advertising Notes: (Ads That Look like Paper Money) by Robert A. Vlack. The only catalog of American advertising notes. This catalog covers all types of firms for the United States and Canada. A black and white image of each note is provided. The Catalog covers advertising notes for all time periods from printers, engravers, banknote engravers, and security features for all international firms. This is an interesting catalog and is considered the best reference on the subject.

Coin of the Month

This month I decided to feature a foreign coin. This Vienna Mint coin was issued in 2009 as part of a series of silver 10 Euro coins called: “Tales and Legends in Austria”. This coin was the first of series and is dedicated to a medieval legend from Vienna - The Basilisk. 

The Basilisk is a mutant monster that is part snake, part toad, and part cockerel. It’s said that the stench and poisonous fumes of the creature killed all that inhaled them and looking the monster in the eyes was instant death! 

As the fable is told the only way to kill a Basilisk is to confront the creature and have it look at itself in a mirror. In the tale a Basilisk is discovered in the village  well of Schönlaterngasse (Lovely Lantern Lane), and a baker’s apprentice volunteers to be lowered into the well with a large mirror in exchange for the bakers daughters’ hand in mariage. The baker’s apprentice is successful in getting the Basilisk to look at itself and in a fit of rage and revulsion at its own image, the basilisk bursts!

The coin shows the legendary monster as it turns and sees its reflection in the mirror held by the baker’s apprentice, who peeps timidly over the frame. At the top of the well two more frightened faces peer (almost comically) over the stone edge at the scene below. On the other side we see a view of the Schönlaterngasse (Lovely Lantern Lane) in Vienna. At the end is the gateway into Holy Cross Court, belonging to the great Cistercian Holy Cross Abbey in Lower Austria. On the right is the Basilisk House No. 7 as it appears today with a fresco legend depicting the brave apprentice and his mirror on its façade.

This 10 Euro silver coin is struck in sterling silver (.925 fine) in three qualities: proof (max. 40,000 pieces), special uncirculated (max. 30,000 pieces) and circulation quality (130,000 pieces).

Currency Note of the Month

Ed. Note: A recent incident (see below) in Detroit  is the impetus for picking “Hell” notes as this  months currency selection.

Hell money is a form of joss paper printed to resemble legal tender bank notes. The notes are not an officially recognized currency or legal tender since their sole intended purpose is to be offered as burnt-offerings to the deceased as often practiced by the Chinese and several East Asian cultures. This faux money has been in use since at least the late 19th century and possibly much earlier. The word hell on hell bank notes refers to Diyu (“underworld prison"; also "underworld court"). These words are printed on some notes. In traditional Chinese belief, it is thought to be where the souls of the dead are first judged by the Lord of the Earthly Court, Yan Wang. After this particular judgement, they are either escorted to heaven or sent into the maze of underworld levels and chambers to atone for their sins. People believe that even in the earthly court, spirits need to use money.

Feb. 18, 2016. The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations announced on Wednesday (Feb. 12) that it seized $4.65 million in counterfeit US dollars and Vietnamese Dong when a couple arriving in Detroit from South Korea couldn't get their stories straight about the amount of currency they were carrying.

The couple maintains that the bills were merely "hell money."

Hell money is money that is "printed on joss paper and resembles legal tender bank notes but is not legal tender or recognized currency instead, hell money is presented as burnt offerings to the deceased," the CBP release explained.

However, even if the couple did intend to burn the money for ceremonial purposes, “attempting to import any amount of counterfeit currency, regardless of the intended purpose, can have serious implications for arriving travelers,” said CBP Port Director Devin Chamberlain in the release.

"A search of their luggage resulted in the discovery of 93 bundles of counterfeit US $100 bills and 32 bundles of counterfeit Vietnamese Dong," the CBP states.
Agents from the Department of Homeland security and the US Secret Service are now in custody of the bills. Despite the scrape with law enforcement, the CBP allowed the couple to continue on in their travels.


Q. Is it true that one of  the famous “Inverted Jenny” error stamps was actually used and cancelled?

A. On May 14th 1918, stamp collector William T. Robey was fortunate enough to purchase at face the only sheet (100 ea.) of the famous stamps. That sheet was eventually purchased intact by the noted collector Col. Edward Green for $20,000. The sheet was broken up and partially sold as singles and plates of 4 with Col. Green retaining possession of 41 of the stamps. One was placed in a locket as a gift for his wife. A number of them have been damaged thru mishandling, including one that was sucked into a vacuum cleaner! 6 are still missing after theft or mishandling. But, to answer the question, Col. Greens’ wife did actually accidentally use one, and while it was quickly recovered, it is the only Inverted Jenny stamp that has been Post Office cancelled. The individual stamps are currently valued at over $1,000,000.

Q. I was looking at some interesting coins that were identified as pattern coins and were number labeled with “Judd” numbers. What are Judd numbers? 

A. Andrew W. Pollock III defines a pattern as “an experimental piece which either illustrates a proposed coinage design, or which embodies a proposed innovation of composition, size, or shape.” In 1954 Abe Kosoff encouraged avid collector Dr. J. Hewitt Judd to underwrite the costs of a reference work on patterns. Published under Judd’s name in 1959, “United States Pattern, Experimental and Trial Pieces” underwent seven revisions by 1982, all orchestrated and edited by Kosoff. To date, Judd’s book has been the reference on patterns, and “Judd numbers” are commonly used today to identify the various pattern coins. More recent editions have been edited by Q. David Bowers. In 1994, researcher Andrew Pollock’s in-depth “United States Patterns and Related Issues” was released but Judd numbers are still the standard for recognizing rarity and cataloging pattern coins. 

(Ed. note: Instead of a strictly historical item I thought this might be an interesting current event. Feb, 4, 2016 Daily Grind)

A perpetual mousetrap that was patented in 1861, the year Abraham Lincoln became president, proved its claim that it “will last a lifetime” when it caught a mouse that inexplicably penetrated impenetrable glass.

An assistant curator at the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading, England, discovered the dead mouse Wednesday in the 155-year-old Victorian mousetrap manufactured by Colin Pullinger & Sons of Silsey, West Sussex, the museum and Daily Mail reported.

“There appears to be a dead mouse in this mousetrap … which is not described as being there on the database,” the assistant curator wrote in an email to the staff.

The discovery baffled museum officials.

“So, this retired rodent had managed to sneak past University of Reading security, exterior doors and museum staff, and clambered its way up into our Store,” the museum wrote in a blog post.

“Upon finding itself there it would have found the promised land: a mouse paradise laid before it full of straw, wood and textiles. Then, out of thousands of objects, it chose for its home the very thing designed to kill it some 150 years ago: a mousetrap.”

The Victorian mousetrap, designed to catch lots of mice, was patented in 1861, the year Abraham Lincoln became president. 

Photo: Courtesy of Museum of English Rural Life

The Victorian mousetrap was designed to catch lots of mice, using a seesaw beam inside the box with several compartments, the Daily Mail explained.

A mouse steps onto the beam, making the seesaw tilt to the right and trapping the mouse. It then would proceed through a one-way mouse-gate at the bottom of the device into the space behind the beam.

These mousetraps were meant to be baited to entice the mouse to enter the trap, but this one in the museum was not baited.

The museum speculated on how the mouse got into the case, suggesting that it might have snuck into the trap before the glazing of the case or during construction work that was recently carried out for the museum’s redevelopment.

“This mouse managed to sign its own death warrant before it could do any more damage, the extent of which was only a nibbled label,” the museum wrote.

For now, the mouse will remain in the mousetrap until museum officials figure out what to do with it.

“One option is a dignified burial,” the museum wrote. “Another is to desiccate it or have it prepared to remain as a permanent feature of the mousetrap for our new displays.”

No doubt that the smell will hasten a decision.

Coin of the Month 

In 1991 there was a total of three different commemorative coin programs but only one would include a half dollar, the 50th Anniversary of Mount Rushmore. It was one of three coins issued, which also included a silver dollar and $5 gold coin.

The obverse features the Mount Rushmore Memorial and a sunburst (rays). On the outer periphery are the words “LIBERTY” and “MOUNT RUSHMORE”. Located directly below the main design are the words “IN GOD WE TRUST” and year of issue “1991”.

The reverse features an American Bison (Buffalo) with the phrase “GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY” with the entire design surrounded by a wreath of 50 stars (one for each state). Near the Bison's front foot are the designer's initials “TJF” while to the right of the Bison is the mint mark “S” for San Francisco or “D” for Denver, (note: proof coins were only minted at San Francisco and business strikes were only minted at Denver). An interesting fact for the reverse design was that it was the first U.S. Coin to depict a Bison since the Indian Head nickel ended in 1938.
The Mount Rushmore Commemorative 50c Draped Bust was only produced during 1991 with mintages of 172,754 (business) and 753,257 (proofs) with the following specs, weight: 11.34 grams, diameter: 30.6 mm, composition: .9167 copper and .0833 nickel, reeded edge. Obverse designed by Marcel Jovine and the reverse by T. James Ferrell.

Currency Note of the Month

This month I picked a highly unusual and also rare note. This is an 1865 $50 Interest Bearing note. It would have been purchased for face value and then the coupons would have been detached as the interest was payed. While they were always worth the face value, only the early issues were given legal tender status. This particular note is referred to as a “seven-thirty” note due its interest bearing status of 7.3%. It would have matured in 3 years although earlier issues matured in 1 and 2 years. It has an ornate Eagle vignette with the eagle clutching an olive branch and and a bundle of arrows. It also has the signatures of Colby and Spinner. This particular note is extremely rare and is held as part of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. It is one of 6 known with only 2 of those known to have intact coupons.

 Book Recommendation 

Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, Modern Issues, 1961-Present” by George S. Cuhaj (Editor)

The "standard" reference for modern world bank notes! This 21st edition of the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, Modern Issues provides the most comprehensive and complete reference to world bank notes issued since 1961. This catalog reference features: 21,250 variety listings of world bank notes,13,750 illustrations for easy identifications of bank notes and signature varieties. Bank note values in two popularly available conditions, Country signature charts for specific and accurate variety identification. A network of more than 80 world paper money collectors, dealers, researchers and national bank officials work with editor George S. Cuhaj to ensure that the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, Modern Issues is the most informed, accurate and all-encompassing resource on the market for the proper identfication, description and valuation of modern world bank notes.


Q. What is the earliest dated U.S. Mint coin?

This trick question and answer is provided by Joel Orosz of Coin World (Ed.). 

While the U.S. Mint was not established until 1792, in 1965 the Mint was being forced to experiment with new metal compositions and designs. This was due to the rise in the price of silver causing the current coinage to be worth almost more in silver value than its face value. If the silver price increased further, it was possible that it would be worthwhile to melt large quantities of coinage for its silver content causing problems with the nations coinage supply. 10 different metal compositions were tested using what the Mint calls “nonsense die pieces”. The experimental die designs featured Martha Washington with a date of 1759 on the obverse and Mount Vernon on the reverse. The current copper-nickel composition was chosen and quickly implemented and ended U.S. circulating coinage with any intrinsic value. But to answer the original question, technically, the earliest dated U.S. Mint coin had a date of 1759! 


Q. What coin is considered to be the first commemorative of the modern era? 

A. The 1982 George Washington Commemorative Half Dollar marked the beginning of the modern commemorative coin era. The coin was issued to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of George Washington.
The obverse of the coin portrays George Washington on horseback. The reverse features the eastern facade of Washington’s home at Mount Vernon, with a heraldic eagle appearing below. The coin was designed by Elizabeth Jones, who was serving as the chief sculptor and engraver of the United States Mint at the time the coin was issued.
The obverse inscriptions read “George Washington”, “Liberty”, “250th Anniversary of Birth” and the date “1982”. The reverse inscriptions include “United States of America”, “In God We Trust”, and the denomination “Half Dollar”.
Coins were struck in 90% silver and represented the first 90% silver coins to be produced by the United States Mint since 1964. Proof and uncirculated versions were issued, with proof coins struck at the San Francisco Mint and the uncirculated coins struck at the Denver Mint. 
Unlike most subsequent modern commemoratives, the George Washington Half Dollars were produced in anticipation of sales throughout 1982 and 1983, although all coins were dated 1982. When the US Mint finally stopped accepting orders for the coins on December 31, 1985, a quantity of more than one million unsold coins were melted. Nonetheless, the program achieved a profit of more than $36 million, which was deposited into the Treasury General Fund.

Numismatic Fact: While virtually unknown in the U. S., the work of French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon greatly influenced the portrait designs seen on our coinage. His portraiture sculptures of Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson were the basis and inspiration for the coin portrait designs seen on the Franklin half-dollar, the Washington quarter, and the Jefferson 5 cent pieces. While these pieces are the ones best known in the U.S. he also executed sculptures of Voltaire, Robert Fulton, and his last piece before his death in 1828, the grandson of Russian Catherine the Great, Czar Alexander the First!

Coin of the Month

In 1796, Congress responded to the almost universal dissatisfaction of the first coins (Flowing Hair) and decreed a new design. As was the custom of the time, all denominations bore the same design or, in this case, the same obverse. By Congressional decree, certain features were required: The Eagle, the word Liberty, Stars, and United States of America. It was not considered necessary to include the value of the coin since it could be discerned from its size based on the precious metal content.

From 1795-1797, a scrawny, naturalistic bald eagle was depicted on the reverse side of all silver coins. This design is known as the Draped Bust, Small Eagle and usually commands a high price due to the extremely low mintage at the time.

All coins (copper and silver) bore the same obverse. Robert Scot, Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint, 1793–1829, transformed a portrait of a society lady by Gilbert Stuart into a rather buxom Ms. Liberty. 

The Draped Bust (Small Eagle Reverse) was only produced during 1796 with a total mintage of 6,146 at the 1st Philadelphia Mint with the following specs, weight: 6.74 grams, diameter: 27.5 mm, composition: .8924 silver and .1076 copper, reeded edge. Designed by Gilbert stuart and Engraved by Robert Scot. It is listed as #71 in the book The Greatest 100 U.S. Coins and is eagerly sought after as a type coin. In 2013, one graded PCGS 67+, was sold at auction for $1,527,000

Book Recommendation

“Pleasure & Profit: 100 Lessons for Building and Selling a Collection of Rare Coins” by Robert W. Shippee and Q. David Bowers. 

Longtime collector Robert W. Shippee dissects how, twenty years ago, he got serious about building a collection of rare coins, gradually and carefully assembled the Waccabuc Collection, and later sold its half cents through double eagles. He tells the story "warts and all" --- from creating a grand vision to the emotional rush of live auctions, the learning process, successful purchases, as well as duds and costly mistakes. Learn how he assembled and eventually sold his collection of 150 copper, nickel, silver, and gold coins for $1.5 million at public auction. The story includes Shippee's observations on acquisition strategies, storage choices, and disposition options, supplemented with commentary on grading services, auction houses, famous dealers, numismatic personalities, market valuations, and, with candor that's rare these days, his laid-bare financial results. His insight is humorous, wise and unflinching, uniquely valuable for today's collector and investor.(


Q. When did “Star” notes first start being printed?

A: In 1910 the Bureau of Engraving and Printing switched to a new type of printing press which delivered finished notes in cut form rather in sheets. This made it difficult to replace damaged notes with the proper serial No.’s. It was decided to print Star notes, or replacement notes, individually serialized but in sheets, with a star annotating that it was a replacement note. They were slowly introduced starting in 1910 with low denomination notes and then on $10 and $20 notes starting in 1914. $100 notes followed in 1918. No $500 or higher notes were issued with stars due to their being produced in such small quantities.

Q. Are all the 1921 Peace dollars minted in high relief?

A. Yes. The 1921 Peace dollars were coined very late in the year due to the original reverse needing to be re- designed. The original design had an eagle clutching a broken sword which was intended to be emblematic of the end of war. Some viewed the design as a sign of defeat though, so U.S. Mint Chief Engraver George Morgan cleverly reshaped the sword into part of the olive branch. This delayed coining until Dec. 28th so only a little over a million were produced before the end of the year. The high relief caused striking problems so for the 1922 mintage new hubs were produced with much less relief thereby ex- tending the die life.

Christmas trivia! Children all over the world continue the tradition of hanging Christmas stockings. In some countries children have similar customs.

In France the children place their shoes by the fireplace, a tradition dating back to when children wore wooden peasant shoes. 
In Holland the children fill their shoes with hay and a carrot for the horse of Sintirklass.  In Hungary children shine their shoes before putting them near the door or a window sill.  
Italian children leave their shoes out the night before Epiphany, Jan- uary 5, for La Befana the good witch.  
And in Puerto Rico children put greens and flowers in small boxes and place them under their beds for the camels of the Three Kings.   The first mention of Christmas stockings being hung from or near a chimney were made only earlier this century by the illustrator, Thomas Nast, through his pictures and the writer, Clement Moore, in a story about a 'visit from St.Nick'. The story quickly caught on.

"The stockings were hung by the chimney with care  In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there"

Up until lately, it was traditional to receive small items like fruit, nuts and candy in your stocking, but these have been replaced in the last half-century by more expensive gifts in many homes.

Coin of the Month

This months coin is a Canadian commemorative with a Christmas theme! Featuring a Christmas-themed design with Santa, it was the tenth release from the Royal Cana- dian Mint’s series of commemorative $20 silver coins that were sold at face value. The Santa commemorative coin had a mintage of 225,000 and was designed by Jesse Koreck. The reverse features an image of Santa holding presents. Surrounding the jolly-bearded guy are inscriptions with the coin’s face value of ’20 DOLLARS’, its purity of ‘ARGENT PUR FINE SILVER 9999’, ‘CANADA’, ‘2013’ and ‘JK’ for the de- signer’s initials. 

Found on the obverse or heads side of every $20 for $20 coin is Susanna Blunt’s por- trait of Queen Elizabeth. Encircling inscriptions include ‘ELIZABETH II’ and ‘D.G. REGINA’. 

Minted in 2013 by the Royal Canadian Mint with the following specs: Weight 7.96- grams. Composition: .9999 Silver, Diameter: 27 mm. Reeded edge. Designer: Jesse Koreck (reverse) and Susanna Blunt (obverse)

Currency Note of the Month. 

In keeping with the Christmas theme, there is this note. Issued in the 1850s by the Howard Banking Company, this five dollar bill featuring Santa Claus actually func-

tioned as legal tender. Unlike today, when the federal government issues all of the pa- per currency for the United States, private banks held that responsibility from the close of the American Revolution until 1861. Now called "obsolete bank notes," the bills varied in design from bank to bank and were often quite colorful. The issuing institutions typi- cally used stock images provided by the companies that engraved and printed the currency.

A number of banks made use of Santa Claus illustrations in the 1850s—the most log- ical being the St. Nicholas Bank of New York City. The Santa who graces this Howard Banking Company bill is descended from Sinter Klaas, a traditional figure brought by Dutch settlers to New York in the 17th century. He went through several significant metamorphoses in America, including features added by Washington Irving in his Knickerbocker History (1809) and the 1822 poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" ("Twas the Night before Christmas"), attributed to Clement Moore.

This note is listed as Haxby# MA-246-C8a, Howard Banking Company of Boston, Mass. (1853-1858). $5 dated Aug. 23, 1857 New England Bank Note Co. Boston, Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson New York, engravers/printers 

Book Recommendation

Weird Christmas: A Collection of Curious and Crazy Customs and Coincidences Concerning Christmas

by Joey Green, Lisa Weber

So, didn’t think there was a book about weird Christmas stuff? ”Ah, the delights of Christmas Holiday carolers, beautifully

wrapped packages, twinkling lights, and...a feast of caterpillars fried in oil?!? Welcome to Weird Christmas, a journey off the beaten path to the bizarre

side of the world's favorite holiday, where, for every Christmas sugarplum there is a plate of lutefisk (that's cod soaked in lye—a Christmas favorite in Norway).” (Barnes and Noble) 


Q. I have some small flat pieces that appear to be silver. I have been told they are ac- tually coins?

A: Russian wire money was produced from the 14th century thru the beginning of the 18th century. They were issued in kopek and denga denominations depending on the time period struck. The coins were struck by cutting silver wire to the proper weight and then smashing it be- tween a pair of dies by hand. Since they were produced by hand there are thousands of varieties.  

Q. What are the oldest gold coins known?

A. While its difficult to be specific when gold pieces were actually considered coinage, it is known that the Lydians of present day Turkey, produced coins of electrum, a combination of silver and gold in 564 BC. However, the ancient Chi- nese also produced a square gold coin, called the Ying Yuan, also in 564 BC. So determining who was first is debatable.

Historical Fact: In July 1910, Charles Royce of Rolls-Royce fame was killed when his Wright bi- plane, coming in for a landing, broke up, perhaps as a result of a faulty tail piece recently added to the aircraft and not part of the original design. Be- fore his death, Rolls tried to persuade his busi- ness partner, Henry Royce, to enter the aviation business, but Royce preferred to focus on auto- mobiles. During WWI, Royce reversed his posi-tion and began to manufacture airplane engines.  

Coin of the Month

The 1994 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Silver Dollar coin was issued to mark the 10th anniversary of the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, DC. Surcharges raised from the sale of coins went to an endowment for the repair and maintenance of the Wall.
The obverse design features a hand touching the Memorial Wall. The Washington Monument can be seen in the background of the scene and the reverse design features three military medals awarded during the Vietnam War.
The obverse coin inscriptions include “Liberty”, the date “1994”, “In God We Trust”, and the caption “Vietnam Veterans Memorial”. The reverse coin inscriptions include “United States of America”, “E Pluribus Unum”, and the denomination “One Dollar”.
The 1994 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Silver Dollars were minted in uncirculated version at the West Point Mint and in proof version at the Philadelphia Mint. The maximum authorized mintage across both options was 500,000, which was not reached. The coins were offered for sale individually, or as part of three coin sets which included the other two “Memorial” Silver Dollars. 
Minted in 1994 at the Philadelphia (Proofs), West Point (Unc) Mints with the following specs: Weight 26.73 grams. Composition: .900 Silver and .100 Copper, Diameter: 38.1 mm. Reeded edge. Designer: John Mercanti (obverse) and Thomas Rodgers Sr. (reverse)

Currency Note of the Month.

In keeping with the theme of Veterans Day this month I thought a small sampling of Military Payment Certificates would be appropriate. Military payment certificates, or MPC, was a form of currency used to pay U.S. military personnel in certain foreign countries. It was used in one area or another from a few months after the end of World War II until a few months after the end of U.S. participation in the Vietnam War – from 1946 until 1973. In autumn of 1973, a surprise conversion day was held there, retiring MPC and substituting greenbacks. MPC was never again issued, and the concept lay dormant until the late 1990s, when it was revived somewhat in the form of the Eagle Cash stored value card system, used by U.S. armed forces in Iraq. MPC utilized layers of line lithography to create colorful banknotes that could be produced cheaply. Fifteen series of MPCs were created. However, only 13 series were issued. The remaining two were largely destroyed, although some examples remain. Among the 13 released series a total of 94 notes are recognized. They are a very popular niche collecting area for numismatics.

Book Recommendation

“Keep the Change: A Collector's Tales of Lucky Pennies, Counterfeit C-Notes, and Other Curious Currency” By Harley J. Spiller

Harley J. Spiller began collecting money at the age of five when, home sick from school, his father tossed him a sack of pennies and a Whitman coin folder. In the five decades since, author Spiller has amassed one of America's most extensive collections of unusual financial artifacts as well as a wealth of anecdotes and quirky historical details about U.S. currency. In Keep the Change, Spiller takes an irreverent look at our most uncommon coins and bills.

Readers learn why greenbacks are green; what happens to worn-out bills (compost is involved); how artists navigate the fine line between art and mutilation; whether it's ever acceptable to burn money (short answer: maybe); and how coin clippers and counterfeiters through the ages have profited by manipulating money. This highly selective tour through currency legends and lore will inspire readers to look with a new sense of wonder at the bills that pass through our hands every day.(


Q. I’ve noticed occasional white spots on some silver coins. What are they and are they removable? 

Those spots are commonly called “milk spots” and are usually from the cleaning solution used to wash the blank planchets being struck. Once struck, the residue is imbedded in the surface of the coin. Removal would destroy the surface of the coin. Proper storage, keeping the coin clean and dry without temperature fluctuations will help prevent the development of spots.


Q. Was one of the signers of the “Indian Chief” notes actually an Indian? 

A. Of the 11 different signature combinations on Chief notes, one has the facsimile signature of Houston Benge Teehee. Teehee was appointed Register of the Treasury by Woodrow Wilson and served in that position from March 1915 to November 1919. His signature appears with that of Treasurer John Burke. Teehee’s father was 7/8ths Cherokee and his mother half Cherokee. Despite being an Oklahoma alderman, mayor, county attorney, and state representative, until the 1924 passage of the Indian Citizenship Act he was not considered a citizen and was not allowed to vote! 

Historical Fact: The most recognized song in the English language, “Happy Birthday”  was penned by the sisters Patty and Mildred Hill from the existing 8 note melody “Good Morning to All”. Recently a federal judge in Los Angeles ruled that the original copyright on the song, filed in 1935 by the Summy Company, granted only the rights to specific piano arrangements of the music and not the lyrics. Warner/Chappell, the publishing arm of Warner Music, had been enforcing a copyright since 1988, when it bought Birch tree Group, the successor to the Summy Co., which claimed the original copyright. It is believed that the song was generating royalties in excess of $2,000,000 a year for Warner/Chappell. The judges ruling means that, unless evidence is found that the Hill sisters specifically conveyed the rights to the song to someone, that the song will be considered a public work and free to use.

Coin of the Month

The Liberty head $10 Gold Eagle  was produced from 1838 to 1907  in 2 types. In 1866 a ribbon with the motto “In God We Trust” was added to the reverse creating the 2 different types. There are number of varieties including, large and small dates, overdates, and small numbers of very rare proofs. Minted from 1838 to 1907 at the Philadelphia, Carson City, Denver, New Orleans, and San Francisco Mints with the following specs: Weight 16.718 grams. Composition: .900 Gold and .100 Copper (net weight: .48375 oz. pure gold), Diameter: 27 mm. Reeded edge. Designer: Christian Gobrecht.

Currency Note of the Month

This is one of my favorite notes despite the fact that they are so pricey I will probably never own one. The series of 1899 $5 silver certificate goes by many names.  It is sometimes called an Indian, Chief, Running Antelope, or Oncpapa.  All of the names derive from the fact that there is a Native American  featured on the front of each 1899 $5 bill.  That Indian Chief is Ta-to-in-yan-ka also known as Running Antelope of the Oncpapa tribe of Sioux Indians. This is the only piece of United States currency that solely features a Native American. 1899 $5 silver certificates are popular, but also extremely common, especially in circulated grades.  All 1899 $5 bills have blue seals and serial numbers. All bills say series of 1899; however, they were printed as late as the 1920s. There are 11 different signature combinations for the series of 1899 $5 silver certificate.  George F.C. Millie engraved the portrait. Examples run from $500 in VG condition up to in excess of $3,000 for uncirculated examples. Star notes were also issued for the series of 1899 $5 silver certificate and can run into 5 figures in price.

Book Recommendation

United States Paper Money Errors: A Comprehensive Catalog & Price Guide: by Frederick J. Bart 

Error notes continue to carve an ever larger niche in paper money collecting. This edition of the definitive reference allows advanced collectors to recognize the value in their holdings and still permits members of the general public to identify potentially profitable notes encountered in circulation. The entirely revised and long awaited 4th edition offers more than 550 photos and values in four grades,making identification easy. Chapters are arranged according to the actual production sequence within the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) providing a logical flow to the arrangement. In addition, historic photographs from the BEP offer a fascinating glimpse into currency production during a bygone era, contrasting sharply with the advanced technology currently in use.(


Q. What is or was  the smallest denomination of U.S. coinage? 

A. Currently the smallest denomination minted is the Lincoln cent with a value of 1/1ooth of a dollar. Also the half-cent was authorized to be minted in 1792 and was minted off and on through 4 different types till 1857. However, when our currency system was first established in 1786 there was a denomination designated as a mill which was worth 1/10th of a cent. While never minted as a federal issue, a number of states made mill tokens in various values for use in paying regional types of sales taxes. In 1935, Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, asked Congress for a license to make a coin to replace the states' tokens but Congress reacted to the proposal with some amusement and the permission was’t granted.

 Q. Considering the number of Indian casino’s in operation throughout the U.S., how many different tribes are recognized as legitimate individual tribal Nations?
A. While the general attention is concentrated on perhaps a  dozen tribes, with the Sioux, Apaches, and Comanches leading the list, according to the 2013 U.S. Federal Register there are 566 tribes eligible to receive services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Each one had, and continues to have, a distinctive style as a Nation.

Numismatic Fact: The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) is currently in the planning stages of placing a womans' portrait on the $10 bill. While there has been 2 previous instances of actual women on currency, (Pocahontas in 1875 and Martha Washington in 1886), it is certainly a rarity. It also appears that it is a rarity for other countries as well. Recently, Israeli social activist, Shir Nosatzki, researched hundreds of bills from over 200 countries using on-line databases. She discovered that of the 609 people depicted on on paper currency, only 51 of them,or 8 percent, are women. The current Australian system is the most equal in representation with the $5 note having a portrait of Queen Elizabeth and all other issues having a man on one side and a woman on the other.

Coin of the Month 

The Chain cent was America's first large cent and the first circulating coin officially produced by the United States Mint. The obverse design consisted of a stylized Liberty head with flowing hair. The inscription "LIBERTY" appeared above the portrait, and the date below. The reverse's central design figure, for which the coin is named, is an interlocking chain with 15 links, representing the 15 American states in existence at that time. Both the words "ONE CENT" and the fraction "1/100" appear within the chain. Along the outer edge is inscribed "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA". On the first working die, the engraver failed to allow adequate room for the entire inscription, and it had to be abbreviated to "UNITED STATES OF AMERI.". These early dies were cut by hand, rather than being made from master hubs as is the practice today. Chain cents were struck during late February and early March 1793; records indicate that approximately 36,103 were produced. However, the public reaction to the coins was largely negative. One newspaper criticized the appearance of the Liberty head, saying that it appeared to be "in a fright". And, while the reverse chain had been intended to symbolize the togetherness of the newly formed Union (similar iconography had been utilized on the reverse of the earlier Fugio Cent and Revolutionary War era Continental currency), many commentators instead interpreted it as representative of slavery. By March, the Mint had run out of planchets, which temporarily halted striking. During this time, a new design, the Wreath cent, was quickly prepared and approved. Minted only in 1793 at the Philadelphia Mint with the following specs: Weight 13.48 grams. Composition: Copper, Diameter: 26-27 mm. Edge: bars and slender vines with leaves. Designer: Unknown, Engraver: Henry Voight.

Currency Note of the Month.

Since I used an early American coin as “Coin of the Month” I decided to continue with the theme in currency. After the American Revolutionary War began in 1775, the Continental Congress began issuing paper money known as Continental currency, or Continentals. The front design on this fractional note includes the first use of the "FUGIO" (I fly) legend and sundial as well as the "Mind your Business" legend. The back shows the thirteen linked rings representing the colonies and the legends "We are one" and "American Congress”. The designs of the devices and the borders were created by Benjamin Franklin and cut by Elisha Gallaudet, who also helped designed the Continental Currency coin. There is one signer, in red ink, on the fractional bills and note that on the fractional bills the dots in the corners of the front design reflect the denomination, with one dot designating a sixth of a dollar, two dots for a third, three dots for $1/2 and four dots for $2/3. The paper, made at Ivy Mills in Chester County, Pennsylvania, contained blue fibers and mica flakes. Printed by Hall and Sellers in Philadelphia.

Continental currency depreciated badly during the war,giving rise to the famous phrase "not worth a continental”. A primary problem was that monetary policy was not coordinated between Congress and the states, which continued to issue bills of credit. The glut of issued notes plus large scale British counterfeiting caused runaway inflation and subsequent devaluation of the notes. By the end of 1778, Continentals retained from 1/5 to 1/7 of their face value. By 1780, the bills were worth 1/40th of face value. Congress attempted to reform the currency by removing the old bills from circulation and issuing new ones, without success. By May 1781, Continentals had become so worthless that they ceased to circulate as money.

   Book Recommendation

The Top 100 Morgan Dollar Varieties: The VAM Keys 4th Edition:

by Michael S. Fey (Author), Ph.D. and Jeff Oxman (Author)

This is the latest updated edition of a best selling selling book that created a revolution in collecting and investing in Morgan silver dollar varieties. The 4th edition contains new and fully illustrated Top 100 varieties, updated pricing, updated rarity information, certified populations and condition census data as well as a new chapter on rotated reverses. If you own silver dollars from 1878-1921, collect them, or are looking to acquire some of the rarest most desirable examples, this book is a must read. You should buy this book before you buy or sell another silver dollar! (


Editors Note: Last month during our meeting there was a discussion about coin doubling. I decided to do some research and would like to pass on the following information on the subject.

A doubled die is a term in numismatics used to refer to doubling in the design elements of a coin. Doubled dies can appear as an outline of the design or in extreme cases, having legends and dates appear twice in an overlapping fashion.

Doubled dies are a result of the way in which in the United States Mint's dies are created. Before 1997, a die was made by hubs that contained the raised design elements that were intended to appear on the coin. The blank dies were heated (to soften them) and then were pressed against the hubs to transfer the design from the hub to the striking die. In every case, one impression was not enough to transfer the design elements from the hub to the die, so multiple impressions were required to transfer enough of the design. For this reason, after the first impression was made, the die was reheated and prepared for a second impression. The mint workers would use guides to align the hub and the working die perfectly to prevent overlapping, or a doubled die. It is when mint workers failed to align dies properly during this process that doubled dies were produced. 

Modern coining methods have vastly reduced the frequency of these varieties due to the use of a single squeeze hubbing method during die creation. With the new die making process, implemented after 1996, dies only required one impression of the hub to transfer all of the design from the hub to the die. But it has been discovered that the pressure created is so great, that some dies tend to slightly rotate during this process creating doubling errors seen mostly in Lincoln cents.

Doubled die error coins can fetch significant prices when they are noticeable to the naked eye or occur in a popular coin series. One example of this is the 1955 doubled die Lincoln Wheat cent.

Mechanical doubling, also called machine doubling or strike doubling, is a form of doubling which appears on a coin and is easily confused with doubled die strikes. On a true doubled die coin, the doubling comes from a mistake in the process used to make the coin die itself. In mechanical, or machine doubling, the doubled image results from mechanical issues during the striking of the coin, such as the coin shifting during striking, or the die itself being jarred out of position as a result of vibration or improper coin press maintenance.

Mechanical, machine, and strike doubling are all considered by purists to be forms of damage, and are therefore not collectible as an error coin.

Most of the time, when novices think they have found a new type of doubled die, they've actually found a coin exhibiting worthless mechanical doubling instead.

Q. Did Indians in the Old West really use smoke signals as communication?

 A. Many tribes did but in a limited fashion. Obviously, detailed messages were impossible considering the medium, so most signals were intended to be used as a prearranged code, especially since the signal would be seen by both friend and foe. (Wild West Magazine, Jan. 2015)

Numismatic Fact: Back when silver dollars were being used to financially back U.S. Silver Certificates, the Mint stored those freshly minted silver dollars in the vault of the Philadelphia Mint. In 1912 Carmi A. Thompson, the newly appointed Treasurer of the United States, reported that there were in excess of 116 million silver dollars being held in storage. That was enough silver dollars to fill 555 freight cars, and would have made for a train 6 miles long. Eventually, as a result of the Pittman Act, all of the silver dollars were melted, plus dollars from the other mints, and sold to the British government in the form of 62 pound silver bars. The act stabilized the price of silver at $1.015 per oz.(hence, the 62 pound bars=$1,000 ea.) and the British government used them to pay off their financial commitments  to India. Eventually this meant that the U.S. didn’t have enough silver dollars to back silver certificates so in 1921 Morgan dollars were again minted until the dies for the new Peace dollar was finished. The number of silver dollars melted for sale to the British was more than 300 million!

Coin of the Month.

The Shield nickel was the first United States five-cent piece to be made out of copper-nickel, the same alloy of which American nickels are struck today. Designed by James B. Longacre, the coin was issued from 1866 until 1883, when it was replaced by the Liberty Head nickel. The coin takes its name from the motif on its obverse, and was the first five-cent coin referred to as a "nickel"—silver pieces of that denomination had been known as half dimes.

The new coins proved difficult to produce; due to the hardness of the planchet, the coins were not of high quality and the life of the striking dies was brief. The design of the coins was widely criticized, with Industrialist (and the raw nickel supplier) Joseph Wharton describing the shield design as suggesting "a tombstone surmounted by a cross and overhung by weeping willows." The American Journal of Numismatics described it as "the ugliest of all known coins". More seriously, the reverse design reminded many of the "stars and bars" motif of the defeated Confederate States. The rays were eliminated from the design in early 1867, in the hopes of eliminating some of the production problems. Even so, production difficulties continued, causing many minor varieties which are collected today. Minting of the Shield nickel for circulation was suspended in 1876 for a period of over two years due to a glut of low-denomination coinage and it was struck in only small quantities until 1882. The following year, the coin was replaced by Charles E. Barber's Liberty head design. Minted from 1866-1883 at the Philadelphia Mint with the following specs: Weight 5 grams. Composition:  .750 Copper and .250 Nickel, Diameter: 20.5 mm. Plain edge. Designer: James B. Longacre.

                                            Currency Note of the Month.

This months note is nicknamed the “Poker Chip” note due to the denomination design on the reverse resembling a poker chip.It is a Series 1923 Legal Tender $10 note and was the last large size $10 note issued prior to the introduction of small size notes in 1929. It carries the printed signatures of Speelman and White. There are no varieties known for this note although 2 Star notes of this issue are known. Considered scarce, values range from $700 in Very Good to $16,000 in Gem Uncirculated. The last Star note of this type auctioned publicly, sold for $92,000 in a grade of Fine.

 Book Recommendation 

At the Coinarama Coin Show in San Diego last week Ron Guth (the co-author) had a table and was selling copies of this months book selection. I will have the book at the August meeting for anyone that is interested. The description below is from

Noted numismatists Ron Guth and Jeff Garrett have created a definitive work of American history. United States Coinage: A Study by Type, invites the reader to peer into the heart and soul of America-to view snapshots of the life and ideals of its people-by examining the coins the nation has produced since 1792. Inside this hard cover book, you'll see the simple beginnings of the United States Mint, the growth and maturation of the nation during the 1800's, the staid designs of coins of the Industrial Era, the glory and excess of the early 1900's, and the hero-worship of recent years. Completely illustrated with full-color photos. Hardcover. 192 pages.


Q. I just purchased a $2 Confederate note with an interesting portrait on it. I was wondering who it was? 

A.The gentleman on your note is Judah P. Benjamin. He first served as a U.S. Louisiana senator but then served in the Confederacy in a number of roles including Attorney General, Secretary of War, and Secretary of State. With the surrender of the Confederacy, he was able to escape, despite a $40,000 reward for his capture. He made passage through the Caribbean and eventually arrived in London where he became a successful barrister. He passed away at the age of 73 in Paris. He has the distinction of appearing on every $2 note issued by the Confederate States of America. There are 6 varieties of these notes and readily available. (Information from Coin World, W. Wolka, May 22 2015) 

Q. How frequent was mail service in the Old West?

 A. Mail service was infrequent and slow. From 1858-1861, the Butterfield Overland Mail transported the mail twice a week from St. Louis, Missouri, to San Francisco, California, in about 25 days. During its brief history, from April 1860 to October 1861, the Pony Express delivered a letter from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, in about 10 days. Trans-Western mail service continued to operate with Wells Fargo, Ben Holliday, and Overland Mail lines. The U.S. government cancelled its last overland mail contract on May10th, 1869, the day the Transcontinental Railroad was completed from Omaha, Nebraska, to Sacramento, California, reducing the time in transit for mail to a week or less. (Wild West Magazine, Aug. 2014)

Numismatic Fact: The 1937 Roanoke Island, North Carolina, commemorative half dollar depicted 3 actual people, including 2 women! Sir Walter Raleigh is featured on 

the obverse and the reverse bears the likeness of 2 females; Eleanor Dare, member of the Roanoke “Lost Colony,” and her infant daughter Virginia, the first child born to a British colonist in the future United States. The Roanoke Colony, also known as the Lost Colony, established on Roanoke Island, in what is today's Dare County, North Carolina, United States, was a late 16th-century attempt by Queen Elizabeth I to establish a permanent English settlement.

Coin of the Month.  

Since I picked a book about Commemorative coinage for the monthly book selection I thought it appropriate to feature a commemorative coin. The Isabella quarter or Columbian Exposition quarter was a United States commemorative coin struck in 1893. Congress authorized the piece at the request of the Board of Lady Managers of the World's Columbian Exposition and is the only U.S. commemorative of that denomination that was not intended for circulation.

The quarter depicts the Spanish Queen Isabella I of Castile, who sponsored Columbus's voyages to the New World. The Board of Lady Managers, headed by Chicago socialite Bertha Palmer, wanted a woman to design the coin and engaged Caroline Peddle, a sculptor. Peddle left the project after disagreements with Mint officials, who then decided to have Bureau of the Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber do the work. The reverse design, showing a kneeling woman spinning flax, with a distaff in her left hand and a spindle in her right, symbolizes women's industry and was based on a sketch by Assistant Engraver George T. Morgan.

The quarter's design was deprecated in the numismatic press. The coin did not sell well at the Exposition; its price of $1 was the same as for the Columbian half dollar, and the quarter was seen as the worse deal. Nearly half of the authorized issue was returned to the Mint to be melted; thousands more were purchased at face value by the Lady Managers and entered the coin market in the early 20th century. Minted in 1893 at the Philadelphia Mint with the following specs: Weight 6.25 grams. Composition: .900 Silver and .100 Copper, Diameter: 24.3 mm. Reeded edge. Designer: Charles Barber

 Currency Note of the Month.


 I am continuing the commemorative theme this month but since the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing has never released a currency commemorative I decided to feature a world note (a first!). This Commemorative $10 note was released by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) in January of 1988. It is certainly an artistic note with a very historical theme. The following is info I obtained from the RBA website about the design and symbolism of the note. 

The RBA released the Commemorative $10 polymer currency note on Australia Day 1988.
Eleven ships of the First Fleet Re-enactment sailed into Sydney Harbor on 26 January 1988 to start the Australia Day celebrations.
Harry Williamson, designer of the $100 decimal note, was chosen to lead the design team, with a theme of 'settlement'.
This Commemorative $10 note was the first banknote in the world to be printed on a non-fibrous polymer substrate. It incorporated a Diffractive Optically Variable Device (DOVD), which featured Captain Cook.

One side of the note symbolized European settlement with HMS Supply, the first ship to drop anchor in Sydney Cove, and a medley of persons symbolizing all who have contributed to Australia's development since 1788.
The other side of the first polymer note symbolized the original discovery and settlement of Australia some 40–60,000 years earlier. It depicts an Aboriginal youth, a Morning Star Pole and other designs including from Aboriginal artworks commissioned by the Bank.


Q. Todays postage rate for a First Class letter is 49 cents. I was wondering what the rate was when the Postal Service was created?

 A. The Postal Service Act was signed on Feb. 20th, 1792. it spelled out congressional power in establishing mail routes and also allowed mail deliveries to include newspapers. The Act also declared it illegal for postal officials to open anyone’s mail. The postal service served the nation’s 4 million people by operating 75 regional post offices and making deliveries along 2,400 miles of postal routes. 

The cost of sending a letter via the U.S. Postal Service in 1792 varied from 6 to 12 cents, depending on the destination. That amount today would be roughly equivalent to spending between $1.45 and $2.90 for a first class postage stamp. However, prepaid postage hadn’t come to be yet, so the recipient paid the postage on delivery vice the sender! The adhesive postage stamp (example shown above) didn’t come into use until 1847. (CoinAge Magazine, May 2015)

Q. Was the iconic figure “Rosie, The Riveter” based on a real person?

A. Rosie was based on an actual woman named Rosie Bonavitas, who worked for Convair, an American aircraft manufacturer  in San Diego, CA. The concept of Rosie also stems from a Canadian  woman named Veronica Foster, who was widely known as “Ronnie, the Bren Gun Girl” and a poster child for women in the war effort. 
While many women who were employed during World War II returned to stay-at-home life after the conflict ended, millions remained in the workforce and helped fuel the feminist movement that would develop in the coming decades. (CoinAge, Jan. 2015)  


Historical Fact: The Perth Mint in Australia was founded in the 1890’s to handle the refinement of the thousands of gold deposits from the gold rush of Western Australia. When it was de-commissioned in 1990, 14 of the old smelting furnaces were crushed and about 18 kilograms of gold (about $800,000) was recovered that had embedded itself in the brickwork. Inspired by this, the corrugated ceiling was also hand scraped by wire brush and an additional 1.5 kilograms was recovered in the form of microscopic gold dust. When the smelting furnaces got too hot, (sometimes reaching 3,000 degrees+ Fahrenheit), the gold vaporized and became lodged on any nearby surface. Despite the Perth Mints’ best efforts a loss of a gram a day, an ounce a month, was normal, causing headaches for the Perth Mint’s accountants. The new Perth Mint uses electronically controlled furnaces eliminating the overheating and subsequent loss.

Coin of the Month.    

The June coin is the Seated Liberty dollar. It was the last silver coin of that denomination to be struck before passage of the Coinage Act of 1873, which temporarily ended production of the silver dollar for American commerce. The coin's obverse is based on that of the Gobrecht dollar, which had been minted experimentally from 1836 to 1839. However, the soaring eagle used on the reverse of the Gobrecht dollar was not used, instead, the United States Mint used a heraldic eagle, based on a design by late Mint Chief Engraver John Reich first utilized on coins in 1807.

Seated Liberty dollars were initially struck only at the Philadelphia Mint; in 1846, production began at the New Orleans facility. In the late 1840s, the price of silver increased relative to gold because of an increase in supply of the latter caused by the California Gold Rush; this led to the hoarding, export, and melting of American silver coins. In 1866, "In God we trust" was added to the dollar following its introduction to United States coinage earlier in the decade creating two types of Seated dollars. Seated Liberty dollar production was halted by the Coinage Act of 1873, which authorized the trade dollar for use in foreign commerce.
Minted at the Philadelphia, New Orleans, Carson City, and San Francisco Mints with the following specs: Weight: 26.73 grams. Composition: .900 Silver and .100 Copper, Diameter: 38.1 mm. Reeded edge. Designer: Christian Gobrecht

Currency Note of the Month.

$1 1890 and 1891 Stanton Treasury Notes

The $1 Stanton Treasury Note (also known as a “Coin Note”) was a type of representative money issued by the United States government from 1890 until 1893 under authority of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act. It was issued as part of 2 series’ of notes with denominations of $1 to $1,000.

These Treasury Notes were issued by the government to individuals selling silver bullion to the Treasury. Unlike other redemption notes like silver and gold certificates, (which stipulated whether the note was backed by and redeemable for silver or gold coin, respectively) Treasury Notes stipulated only that they were redeemable in coin. This allowed the Treasury to fulfill the note's obligation in silver coin, gold coin, or both, at its discretion when the note was redeemed. This flexibility allowed the Treasury some control over releasing gold or silver when the relative value of the two metals fluctuated. The origin of the term "Coin Note" to describe the note is unclear, it may refer either to the coin it could be exchanged for, or derive from the fact that it was issued to pay for silver that would later be turned into coins

A distinctive engraved portrait of Stanton is portrayed on these notes dated 1890 and 1891. These rare notes are considered by many to be among the finest examples of detailed engraving ever to appear on banknotes. The $1 Stanton "fancyback" note of 1890, with an estimated 900–1,300 in existence relative to the millions printed, ranks as number 83 in the "100 Greatest American Currency Notes" compiled by Bowers and Sundman. There are 6 signature varieties for this note. Prices start at around $300 for a well circulated example up to $25,000 for uncirculated examples of the 1890 note. 1891 notes are much more reasonable with a price range of $200 to $3,000 respectively.

Book Recommendation

This months newsletter marks the 50th Book recommendation that I have done. Not only is this a good reference book written by one of the most knowledgable numismatic writers, but it is available for FREE on-line!  Professional Coin Grading Service maintains an excellent library of coin and currency reference books on-line and this is one of them. Just go to PCGS.COM and check out the resources section for a large library selection of free numismatic references. For those that still favor a printed copy, Amazon offers it on their website in both new and used condition for less than $20.

"Commemorative Coins of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia" by Q. David Bowers
Few U.S. Coin series elicit the excitement and collector enthusiasm as do the Commemorative Coins. Struck from 1892 through the present day, these beautiful coins mark important events in our nation's history. In his Complete Encyclopedia, author Q. David Bowers recounts the entire story of these fascinating issues, including mintage statistics, grading, designer biographies, market history and a coin by coin look at the entire series. Although the pricing data is no longer current, there is little else about commemoratives which cannot be found in this comprehensive work. (PCGS.COM)


Q. I’ve noticed coins left on the headstones of military members. Do you know of any specifics about the practice?


A. While there is some argument as to how far back the tradition goes, there is cer- tainly evidence that it experienced a surge in popularity during, and following, the Vietnam War. The coins themselves do have specific sig- nificance. A penny is just a simple sign that the grave was visited and respects were paid. A nickel means that the visitor spent time with the deceased at boot camp. If you see a dime, it means that the visitor served with the soldier at some point in time. Finally, a quarter indicates that the visitor was present at the time when the de- ceased fell.It’s also thought that the act may stem from the Ancient Greek/Roman tradition of leaving coins on the eyes of the deceased to help pay for passage into the afterlife.This Memorial Day, remember to give thanks and appreciate all of the fallen heroes who have served and given up their lives for our freedom.

Q. The country of Transdniester recently issued coins made of plastic. Are they really the first government to issue coins of this material as they claim to be?

300px-Sta ANA-1207 1R obv300px-Sta ANA-1207 1R rev

A. When you say “first government,” that becomes questionable. Keeling Cocos was established by two gentlemen in the 19th century. Captain John Clunies-Ross brought his family (including his mother- in-law), while Alexander Hare was accompanied by his private harem of 40 Malay women. A feud and “invasion” of Hare’s “kingdom” by the captain’s sailors ensued. Following the victory, the captain’s employ- ees were later paid in Cocos rupee denominated company store money. In 1913 plastic ivory composition coins were issued, followed by plastic coins in 1968. Since Keeling is an Australian Territory it can be argued the coins are tokens. Likewise, since only Russia recog- nizes Transdniester are the Transdniester issues coins or tokens? (Coin Clinic, R. Giedroyc, Numismatic News, Oct 3,2014)


Historical Fact: While Annie Oakley rarely wore bracelets due to in- terfering with her performance shooting, Heritage Auctions recently sold a charm bracelet that was owned by her and apparently had sentimental value. Consisting of hinged gold pipes (about 1/8" in di- ameter) with a spring-blade clasp and safety chain, from the wrist band and chain hang twelve gold charms. But they are not just charms. Each is a gold coin: one British gold sovereign, four British gold half-sovereigns, four U.S. five-dollar gold coins, and three U.S. $2 1/2 gold coins. The oldest coins are an 1873 $5 gold piece and an 1873 half-sovereign; the newest is the sovereign which was first issued in this style in 1887. As charms, they date from 1885 to 1892.

How precious was the charm bracelet to her? By 1919, the first charms were nearly thirty-five years old; the newest had been given to her twenty-seven years before. During 1917 and 1918 Annie had melted down almost all of her silver and gold medals, cups, and trinkets to buy Liberty Bonds, setting a public example of support for the war effort. So apparently it was not the intrinsic value of the gold (about 1.35 troy ounces) that made her continue to treasure it. The bracelet meant too much to her to part with for several reasons. It provided a sentimental attachment to significant events; it was an emblem of loyalty to the memory of Buffalo Bill and the others; and, it was a beautiful piece of jewelry, tasteful, understated, elegant, and perfectly suited to her sense of herself.

Coin of the Month.    


This months’ coin is the Franklin Half Dollar which is avidly collected by many numis- matists, including myself. First struck in 1948 at the start of the “Cold War” its intro- duction completed the conversion of U.S. coin designs from allegorical figures to por- traits of famous Americans. The choice of Ben Franklin as a U.S. coinage subject was an excellent one. Of all the Founding Fathers, Franklin very likely enjoyed the great- est stature among his contemporaries, not only in this country but also abroad. He was justly renowned as a printer, publisher, author, inventor, scientist and diplomat, and he played a pivotal role in helping the colonies gain their independence by secur- ing vital aid from France.

The Liberty Bell on the reverse made sense as a complement to Franklin, since both have become closely identified not only with the nation’s birth but also with the city of Philadelphia. Three inscriptions are arranged around the bell in the same sans serif style used on the obverse: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is above, HALF DOLLAR below and E PLURIBUS UNUM, in much smaller letters, to the left. To the right of the bell is a puny-looking eagle. This had been required by law on the half dollar since 1792 and was reaffirmed by the Coinage Act of 1873, which mandated the placement

of an eagle on every U.S. silver coin larger than the dime. The eagle was added by Gilroy Roberts, who completed work on the coin following Sinnock’s death in 1947.

Because they are so plentiful, in circulated condition most Franklin halves bring little or no premium above their bullion value. A full set of Franklin halves consists of 35 different business strikes and 14 different proofs. Because it is so compact and easily affordable in less-than-pristine grades, the series is widely collected by date and mint. Those with deeper pockets may seek to assemble date-and-mint sets in MS-65 and above or collections of high grade proof Franklins with deep cameo contrast. Points on the design to first show wear are Franklin’s cheek, shoulder and hair behind the ear and the lettering and lines on the Liberty Bell.

Minted from 1948 to 1963 at the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco mints with the following specs: Weight: 12.50 grams. Composition: .900 Silver and .100 Copper, Diameter: 30.6 mm. Reeded edge. Designer: John Sinnock (Liberty Bell based on a sketch by John Frederick Lewis)

Currency Note of the Month.

1901$10LegalTenderSnE379445391901$10LegalTenderSnE37944539 2

$10 Bison Note Series of 1901.

While there is some controversy as to the original model for the bison engraving on this note, according to research, the original engraving is based on a stuffed bison that was on display at the Smithsonian in the late 19th century. That specific bison was apparently shot in Montana in 1886. The image of the bison was based on a drawing by celebrated wildlife artist Charles Knight. The intricately detailed portraits on either side of the bison are of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, two adventur- ers whose famous 4,000-mile journey had an incredible influence on the shaping of the American West. The reverse features an allegorical figure representing Columbia between two Roman-styled pillars and 2 scrolls with the value obligation written on them.

Issued from 1901 until 1925, this popular but exceedingly rare collectible bill honors the U. S. government’s commitment to frontier development at the turn of the 19th

century. It was welcomed with much fanfare during its first year—in fact, the April 10, 1901 edition of The New York Times hailed it “as artistic as any bill that has been is- sued in many years.”

While it is unknown how many still exist, the note is rare. Prices start at around $500 for a well circulated example up t0 $15-25,000 for uncirculated examples. There are 9 signature varieties but the big draw for this note is the spectacular artwork and de- sign.

Book Recommendation


When I first started doing a book recommendation in the newsletter, the first book I did was the classic Red Book. Well, this year Whitman Pub- lishing has released a new version of the Red Book called “The Deluxe Edition”. Billed as the “biggest, most useful Red Book ever,” the Deluxe Edition measures 7 x 10 inches and has 1,504 pages. The larger size and increased page count combined make the Deluxe Edition five times bigger than the regular-edition Red Book. It prices 8,018 items in up to 12 grades each, with 50,205 individual values and 16,667 auction records covering circulated, Mint State, and Proof coinage. The book is illustrated with 5,753 images. This is one “BIG” book! The book’s Senior Editor is Kenneth Bressett, Valuations Editor is Jeff Garrett, and Research Editor is Q. David Bowers. A 57- page introduction, “The Story of American Money,” is based on the work of the late Dr. Richard Doty, senior curator of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian. Each year, the new Deluxe Edition will feature an in-depth focus on one or more coin series. The first edition includes a special 364-page section on copper half cents and large cents written by Q. David Bowers, with images, history, diagnostics, and pricing for 832 die varieties, 1793– 1857. For those that love statistics and mass information this is the book for you!


Q. How much copper is on the Statue of Liberty?

A. The Statue of Liberty is famous for its greenish tint, a result of the oxidation of her copper sheathing. However her copper  skin is surprisingly thin! Lady Liberty is sheathed in 3/32” copper about the thickness of 2 cents. The total weight of the copper is 62,000 lbs. with a value of $248,000.

Q.Is it legal for a private Mint to use legal tender silver dollars as blanks to strike fantasy or souvenir coins?

On July 22, 1980, U.S. Mint Counsel Kenneth B. Gubin wrote to Vance fowler on Dept. of the Treasury, Office of the Director of the Mint stationery. The letter has since been published in Fowler’s book Encyclopedia of the Modern Elongated. Within this letter Gubin states, “{Title 18, USC sections 331} being a criminal statute, a fraudulent intent is required for violation. Thus, the mere act of compressing coins into souvenirs is not illegal, without other factors being present.” 

Historical Fact: A British 5 pound coin will be released next year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of Edith Cavell, a World War 1 nurse. Cavell saved thousands of lives on both sides and helped nearly 200 Allied soldiers escape German-occupied Belgium. Found guilty of treason for her actions, she was executed by a German firing squad, an act that brought global press coverage and condemnation. The coin will be part of a set produced by the Royal Mint to mark the war’s centennial. (The Numismatist, August, 2014)

Coin of the Month.    

I decided to pick a real rarity this month with 1792 half disme. The 1792 half disme (pronounced dime) was an American silver coin with a face value of five cents. Although it is subject to debate as to whether this was intended to be circulating coinage, or instead an experimental issue, President George Washington referred to it as "a small beginning" and many of the coins eventually were released into circulation. It is widely (although not universally) considered the first United States coinage struck under authority of the Mint Act of April 1792. Because of President Washington's connection with these early coins, numismatic folklore holds that the portrait on the obverse is that of First Lady Martha Washington and that some of the coins were struck using melted-down silverware from the Washington household.However, there is no solid evidence for either of these assertions.

Although the exact number is not known, it is believed that between 2,000 and 3,500 specimens were produced. Approximately 10% of these survive today; one expert estimated between 250 and 400 half dismes exist, and most appear to have been used in circulation for some time. An almost uncirculated 1792 half disme was auctioned for $138,000 on July 24, 2004. Because this was some of the the first coinage minted the exact specifications are variable, but the following is reasonably close: Minted in the Philadelphia basement of Thomas Birch, the designer, with the following specs: Weight: 20 grains. Composition: .8924 Silver and .1076 Copper, Diameter: 16.5 mm. Reeded edge. Designer: Thomas Birch

Currency Note of the Month.

Fractional currency was first issued during the Civil War as a replacement for small change. Small change was hoarded for its intrinsic metal value due to the uncertainties of the war and merchants were clamoring for an acceptable substitute. Fractional currency was created and released in 5 Cogressionally authorized issues from 1862 to 1876. It should be mentioned that this was the first currency ever issued by the Federal Government and that, while it was redeemed when coinage returned to normal levels, it was never officially cancelled and remains legal tender even today.

This particular note is a 10 cent Fifth issue and is referenced as a FR-1265 based upon the Friedberg numbering system used by most fractional collectors. There are 3 varieties of this note. 2 with red Treasury seals (different size keys in the seal) and one with a green seal. The portrait is of William Meredith and is considered by many (including this author!) as one of the worst portraits ever for a U.S. currency note.  He was Secretary of the Treasury from 1849-1850 and was recently deceased when this note was issued. He was an extremely intelligent individual, graduating from the University of Pennsylvania at the age of 13 and admitted to the Board by the age of 18! Almost 200 million of these notes were produced with the latest in counterfeiting techniques (the random blue fibers in the paper are one example) and are reasonably common for collectors.

Book Recommendation

This month’s book recommendation may be a little outside of the realm of numismatics but it may inspire someone to search for a real treasure! The Fenn Treasure is a treasure reportedly worth $1M–$3M (TrueWest magazine just made an estimate of $5M) hidden by art dealer and writer Forrest Fenn in the Rocky Mountains.  Forrest Fenn was diagnosed with cancer in 1988. He came up with the idea during this illness to create a bronze chest full of treasure for anyone to go find. He filled the chest with "treasure" containing gold nuggets, rare coins, jewelry and gemstones, along with a jar holding his autobiography. He intended to hide it and die in the wilderness, with the treasure as a legacy. However, he survived his illness and waited until he was 79 or 80 to hide the treasure.His memoir "The Thrill of the Chase” was published in 2010, containing a poem that contains clues that lead to the location of the hidden treasure. Fenn has also provided additional clues on "The Today Show" and in various interviews. In September 2013, Fenn announced the publication of a new book, “Too Far to Walk”, containing a pullout map of the area surrounding the treasure. As of 2014, Fenn has stated that to his knowledge it is still not found.


Q. What has been the largest salvage of shipwrecked gold and silver? 

A. Odyssey Marine Exploration has recovered over 15,500 silver and gold coins as well as 45 gold bars and hundreds of gold nuggets, dust and jewelry from the SS Central America shipwreck. The total value of the recovered gold was estimated at $100–150 million. A recovered gold ingot weighing 80 lbs. (36 kg) sold for a record $8 million and was recognized as the most valuable piece of currency in the world at that time. While salvage operations are still currently on-going, the S.S. Central America will never be topped, as no other ship with more numismatically desirable gold has ever been lost.

Q.Since all the of the proof Eisenhower Bi-Cenntenial dollars have the same combination date, 1776-1976, is it possible to tell which coins were struck in 1975 and which in 1976? 

A. Although no problems were reported with the striking of the silver-clad Eisenhower dollars, there was problems with the striking of the copper-nickel versions. Chief Engraver Frank Gasparro retooled the dies and this resulted in 2 types of copper-nickel clad Bi-Centennial dollar coins. Type II dollars feature sharper, narrower lettering on the reverse than Type I examples. All proof copper-nickel dollars from 1975 feature a Type I reverse, while all 1976 copper-nickel clad proofs are Type II.  

Historical Fact: Surprisingly, the first person to go over Niagara  Falls in a barrel was a woman! On 24 October 1901, Annie Edson Taylor, on her 63rd birthday, was the first person to go over the falls in a barrel. She took the 167 foot plunge in an old pickle barrel, padded with a mattress, in the hope of making money. The watertight barrel was inflated to 30 PSI with a bicycle pump prior to the plunge. Miraculously, she survived with only cuts and bruises, but the fortune she hoped for never appeared.

Coin of the Month

AU58barberdime pcgs

The Barber Dime,also known as the Liberty Head dime, was minted from 1892 to  1916 by Charles Barber. These are more commonly called "Barber Dimes" because of this. The coins were originally meant to be designed by the public but later taken over by Charles Barber the then current Chief Engraver for the United States Mint due to financial issues.

The obverse of this coin has the head of liberty crowned by a wreath. The reverse is engraved with a wreath of corn or wheat representing American agricultural products. The Barber dime series consists of 74 regular issues, plus the ultra-rare 1894-S and two major varieties (1893/2-P and 1905-O micro-O). 

In the first half of 1894, 24 proofs of the Barber series dimes were minted in San Francisco, which is where the S in the common name of the coin comes from. The superintendent of the San Francisco Mint is said to have had them minted as gifts for some important bankers. Only nine are known to survive; seven are uncirculated, while two are heavily worn. Further, three of the dimes were said to have been given to the superintendent's daughter, who allegedly spent one on ice cream and sold the other two in the 1950s. Due to the rarity of the coin and the mysteries surrounding its past, the 1894-S dime is one of the most valuable coins produced in the United States. In the late 1990s, one of the remaining 1894-S dimes was bought for $825,000. Since then one sold for $1.3 million in 2005; and one for $1.9 million in 2007. 

Minted at the Philadelphia, San Francisco, New Orleans, and Denver Mints with the following specs: Weight: 2.5 grams. Composition: .900 Silver and .100 Copper, Diameter: 17.9 mm. Reeded edge. Designer: Charles E. Barber

Currency Note of the Month.

porthole note

Collectors know the Series 1923 Fr. 282 $5 Porthole Note by its nickname the “Porthole Note.” It’s easy to see how this $5 Silver Certificate came by this descriptive moniker. At its very center on the face, our nation’s 16th President Abraham Lincoln gazes from a circular ring emblazoned “The United States of America” which mimics the shape of a maritime window. The photo on which the portrait is based was taken by Anthony Berger and shows how Civil War President looked on his 55th birthday in the throes of our great national calamity. The starched presidential photo on which the currency engraving is based was taken Feb. 9, 1864, just three days before.

Besides its spectacular portrait, the well-balanced design has a blue Treasury Seal, denomination counter, and serial numbers. The five dollar back is a generic back and simply states FIVE DOLLARS. One would have to turn it over to recognize that it was a Silver Certificate. It was part of the Series 1923 standard back designs. It also sports the Great Seal of the United States as used on the back of small size $1 notes engraved by Robert Ponickau. Treasury records show 6.32 million Porthole Notes were issued, all regular notes from the AB block. Only one variety exists, signed by Register of the Treasury Harley V. Speelman and U.S. Treasurer Frank White. They served in office jointly from Jan. 25, 1922 to Oct. 30, 1927. Experts estimate about 2,500 examples of the Porthole Note still exist. Only 38 of them are the coveted Star (replacement) Notes, that have thus far been recorded. Today well-circulated (VG-F) examples are available for under a thousand dollars, well worth the price because their jumbo presidential image can still give less than perfect notes “wow appeal.”

Book Recommendation

Carson City Morgan Dollars: Featuring the Coins of the GSA Hoard (Official Whitman Guidebook) by Adam Crum, Selby Ungar, and Jeff Oxman. 


In this expanded and revised 2nd edition, three numismatic experts chronicle the amazing history of the California Gold Rush, its effects on silver mining and the development of Nevada, and the birth of the Carson City Mint. They give the collector and investor a detailed insider's view of today's market for Carson City Morgan dollars, including VAM varieties and focusing especially on GSA-slabbed coins. Whether you collect by date/mintmark or by variety, this in-depth book will make you a more savvy buyer. Includes condition census, market notes, enlarged full-color photographs, valuations, mintages, certification data, prooflike and DMPL coins, and more. (



 Q. There has been some articles lately about Swedish Plate money. What are they?

A. Swedish copper plate coins are one of the most unusual types of coin. Plate money was issued as a replacement for silver and gold coinage, as specie in these metals was scarce in Sweden and its possessions while copper was readily available in massive quantities. These large “coins” were issued from 1644 to 1776 in denominations from one-third daler to 8 dalers. The copper came not just from mines but also from cannon barrels that were repurposed and used to produce these coins. Many known examples of Swedish plate money were recovered from the wreck of the Nicobar, a Dutch East India Co. ship that struck a reef near Cape Agulhas, South Africa, and sank July 11, 1783. A collection of these was recently sold at a Stack’s Bowers Galleries sale during the New York International Numismatic Convention generating the recent interest.

Q.What real person holds the record for most biographical books written about them or their lives?

A. The top 4 (approx.), in ascending order, are Napoleon Bonaparte (5,700 books), Abraham Lincoln (20,000 books), William Shakespeare (56,000), and Jesus Christ (over 100,000).   


Historical Fact: Readers that are baseball fans know that Abner Doubleday is credited (incorrectly) with inventing baseball and doing so in Calvin Graves’ hometown of Cooperstown N. Y. This myth was established almost solely on the basis of eyewitness testimony (letters) of Abner Graves (the nephew of Calvin Graves) to a special commission set up in 1907. Though slow to be accepted to this day, in June of 1953, Congress officially credited Alexander Cartwright with inventing the game, and not in Cooperstown. Soon after providing testimony as to the origins of the game of baseball, Abner Graves killed his wife and thereafter spent his remaining life in a mental institution.

Coin of the Month.


This month we have the Liberty Head nickel, sometimes referred to as the V nickel because of its reverse (or tails) design. An American five-cent piece it was struck for circulation from 1883 until 1912, with at least five pieces being surreptitiously struck dated 1913. The original copper–nickel five-cent piece, the Shield nickel, had longstanding production problems, and in the early 1880s, the United States Mint was looking to replace it. Mint Chief Engraver Charles Barber was instructed to prepare designs for proposed one, three, and five cent pieces, which were to bear similar designs. Only the new five-cent piece was approved, and went into production in 1883. For almost thirty years large quantities of coin of this design were produced to meet commercial demand, especially as coin-operated machines became increasingly popular. Although no 1913 Liberty head nickels were officially struck, five are known to exist. While it is uncertain how these pieces originated, they have come to be among the most expensive coins in the world, with one selling in 2010 for $3,737,500. Minted at the Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Denver Mints with the following specs: Weight: 5 grams. Composition: .750 Copper and .250 Nickel, Diameter: 21.2 mm. Plain edge. Designer: Charles E. Barber

Currency Note of the Month.

This months currency selection is the common $1 Federal Reserve note. This is the dollar note we see almost every day and is probably one of the most unappreciated! The one dollar denomination of Federal Reserve notes are a recent addition to the FRN series, starting production in 1963 and continuing to the present. If a beginning United States currency collector wanted to put together a whole series of notes, this would be the place to start. The entire set of one dollar federal reserve notes could be put together at a modest cost, even including the star notes. 

All of the 1.00 FRN bills have George Washington (painted by Gilbert Stuart) on the front. On the left is an alphabetic seal designating the issuing Federal Reserve Bank and to the right is the seal of the Department of the Treasury. Printed signatures of the Treasurer of the United States and the Secretary of the Treasury are at the bottom of the note. At the top is the notation “This Note is Legal Tender For All Debts Public and Private”. 2 matching serial numbers and 4 denomination indicators complete the design.

The reverse features both sides of the Great Seal of the United States created by Charles Thomson. On the right is the obverse with an American bald eagle as the centerpiece and a shield upon the eagle's breast. In the eagle's right talon is an olive branch. In its left, a tightly drawn bundle of arrows. Thomson said these symbols represent "the power of peace and war.” In the eagle's beak, he placed a scroll with the first committee's motto: E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One). For the crest above the eagle's head, Thomson used the radiant constellation of thirteen stars suggested by the second committee. He described the light rays as "breaking through a cloud”.  For the reverse of the Great Seal, Thomson used an unfinished pyramid with the eye of Providence in its zenith, with a triangle around the eye. He also created two new mottoes: "Novus Ordo Seclorum" (A New Order of the Ages) and "Annuit Coeptis" (Providence has Favored Our Undertakings).

Book Recommendation 

That odd-looking coin could be worth a fortune! Mistakes happen. Now you can cash in on them. The U.S. Mint produces error coins every year on every denomination. From doubled die cents to rotated reverse quarters to missing letters on dollars, these coins can be worth far more than face value. Featuring expert insight, hundreds of close-up images, concise details on what to look for and where, and up-to-date market values, you will learn how to spot and profit from even the most well disguised treasures in the new edition of Strike It Rick with Pocket Change.Co-authored by Ken Potter and Brian Allen.


Q. I have seen a number of so-called “wooden nickels” but has there ever been any issues of real denominations?


A. When the Citizens Bank of Tenino Wash. failed during the Depression, the local Chamber of Commerce decided to issue wooden money allowing some of the account holders to at least recover some of their money from the failed bank. Each account holder was allowed to convert 25% of their account into the substitute money printed on “slice wood” spruce and cedar. Eight different series were issued with a total face value of $10,000.

Q. What is the longest a coin series has not been minted and then brought back to production?

A. While the Morgan Silver Dollar was not produced from 1905 to 1920 (17 years), the Susan B. Anthony dollar holds the record with a gap of 18 years (1981-1999) in production. With dwindling supplies for postage vending machines the U.S. Mint produced 29.5 million SBA dollars in 1999! 

ussr 1927 12 kopeck rare copper coin 1 thumb2 lgw

Historical Fact: In 1925 the Communist regime of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics released a small copper half kopeck coin. It was not a popular coin, (it was only produced for 3 years), and would have passed on unnoticed if not for the reason of its production. It appears its primary use, although never officially admitted, was as a deposit on a vodka bottle! Early Soviet philosophy blamed capitalism for all the people’s ills, alcoholism among them, and it would never do to for the half kopeck to suggest there continued alcohol abuse in the workers’ and peasants’ fatherland.

Coin of the Month.


The Eisenhower dollar is a one-dollar coin issued by the United States Mint from 1971 to 1978; it was the first coin of that denomination issued by the Mint since the Peace dollar series ended in 1935. The coin depicts General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who appears on the obverse. At Congress's insistence, the chief engraver created a reverse design in commemoration of the Apollo XI lunar landing, based on the mission patch conceived by astronaut Michael Collins and others. The reverse depicts an eagle (representing the lunar lander, Eagle) swooping low over the Moon's surface, holding an olive branch, token of peace, in its claws.Both its obverse and reverse were designed by Frank Gasparro. Although the collector's pieces sold well, the new dollars failed to circulate to any degree, except in and around Nevada casinos, where they took the place of privately issued tokens. There are no dollars dated 1975; coins from that year and from 1976 bear a double date 1776-1976, and a special reverse by Dennis R. Williams in honor of the bicentennial of American independence. Due to their modest cost and the short length of the series, sets of Eisenhower dollars are becoming more popular among collectors. Minted in 2 types (40% Silver Collector and Clad Circulating) from 1971 to 1978 at the Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Denver Mints with the following specs: Weight: Collector ver. 24.9 grams and Clad ver. 22.68 grams. Composition: Collector ver. .400 Silver and .600 Copper, Clad ver. .725 Copper and .250 Nickel. Diameter: 38.1 mm. Reeded edge. Designer: Frank Gasparro

Currency Note of the Month.

One of the most popular and valuable notes of all U. S. currency is the Series 1918 Federal Reserve Bank Note $2. The obverse is very ornate with a portrait of Thomas Jefferson to the left and a blue Federal Reserve Bank seal on the right. It also has the printed signatures of the Secretary of the Treasury, the Register of the Treasury, and the Cashier and Governor of the issuing bank. The reverse of this note displays the picture of a Battleship -- hence the "Battleship $2." For many years, it was not clear whether the ship was intended to be the battleship Texas, which survives on public display at the San Jacinto Battlefield outside Houston, Texas, or its sister ship, the New York. Recently the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, however, announced that the ship was supposed to be the New York. Whichever it is, the battleship depicted is of 1914 vintage and extremely detailed. Charles Burt was the engraver of the Thomas Jefferson portrait, while its back deploys C.M. Chalmers engraving of the battleship New York steaming left to right (west to east). It is said this served a propaganda purpose of warning European despots that America was ready to return and defend freedom in Europe if it were jeopardized again. Issued by all 12 of the Federal Reserve banks there are 33 combinations of signatures. Values range from around $300 for well circulated notes to $1500 or more for uncirculated.

Book Recommendation

51dXyKgl5kL. AA160

In the brand-new Golden Anniversary Edition of Coins & Collectors, Q. David Bowers brings us more than 50 illustrated chapters, telling of famous coins, obscure and mysterious tokens and medals, beautiful paper money, and legendary hoards and collections. A "Collector's Appendix" give the market values of the items discussed. Bowers shares the stories behind the popular favorites and modern-day classics. ( This book is an entertaining read and is an excellent choice for those (hopefully!) rainy winter days. JP


Q. I know that previous to the issuance of Fractional currency that Encased Postage was attempted as a solution to the on-going shortage of coinage. Was it possible to actually make change using encased stamps?

A. Encased Postage was an attempt to use stamps as small change and they were encased in small metal disks with clear mica faces to prevent the obvious problems of the stamps sticking together or being destroyed by handling. The pieces were produced by a man named John Gault and he used the backs as advertising space for a number of products and businesses that purchased the pieces from him to make change. It was possible to make change with the pieces as they were produced in 1c, 3c, 5c, 10c, 12c, 24c, 30c, and 90c denominations. It is believed that approx. 3,500 to 7,000 pieces still exist out of 750,000 produced. Common pieces sell in the $300 to $500 range and rare pieces (the 90c in particular) can go for over $25,000! 

Q. How long were the Bicentennial Silver sets available for sale from the mint?

A. The Bicentennial Silver sets were an extremely popular issue by the Mint and they saw no need to stop sales as long as there was demand. The proof sets took 11 years (1974-1985) to sell out and the Mint sets lasted another year after that. (Coinage, April 2014)

Historical Fact: When the Buffalo nickel was first introduced in 1913, it was not uncommon for people to hoard the new coin in large numbers as these 2 samples attest. In January of 1917, as reported by the the Bryan Daily Eagle and Pilot of Bryan TX, Mrs. Sam Buchanan bought a new Ford Model T touring car with 7,912 Buffalo nickels. The price of the car was exactly $395.50. Mrs. G. P. Ehley of Mankato KS,  had the same idea. She started saving them as soon as they were released, dropping them into a chute that ran from the kitchen to a wooden box in the cellar.  According to the Nov. 6th, 1918 issue of the Dakota County Herald, she purchased a new Ford for her husband with 14,000 nickels! (Coins, August 2014)

Coin of the Month.


The Lincoln Cent (Wheat Ear reverse) debuted in 1909, replacing the fifty year old Indian Head Cent design. Victor D. Brenner created the famous bust of Lincoln with which we are all so familiar today.  Lincoln was chosen as the subject for the new Cent since 1909 was the centennial of his birth.  Until the appearance of Brenner's design, no person (living or dead), had ever appeared on a coin made for general circulation. (However, this precedent had already been established on a few commemorative coins.) The earliest versions of the Lincoln Cent featured Brenner's initials (V.D.B.) near the bottom of the back of the coin.  Apparently, such a prominent display was considered offensive, and the initials were removed later in 1909. In 1918, the initials re-appeared, this time hidden on the truncation of Lincoln's bust. The reverse is adorned with 2 wheat ears. There are 2 composition varieties of the Lincoln cent (Wheat Ear reverse). The original cent was composed of .950 copper and .50 tin and zinc. In 1943, due to a shortage of copper, steel planchets coated with zinc were used, and in 1944 the original composition returned, albeit with copper salvaged from shell casings giving the coins a slightly different color. Minted from 1909 to 1958 at the Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Denver Mints with the following specs: Weight: 3.11 grams (steel var. 2.7 grams). Diameter: 19 mm. Plain edge. Designer: Victor D. Brenner

Currency Note of the Month. 

Lincoln Fractional

U.S. Fractional Lincoln notes were part of the 4th U.S. Issue of Fractional’s and were released from July 1869 through December 1869. The issue of Lincoln notes was quickly stopped and recalled due to the large quality of good counterfeits that appeared but not before over 19,000,000 were issued. Fractional notes are generally referenced by Friedberg numbers and the 50c Lincoln note is cataloged as FR-1374. The Lincoln note is one of the most popular fractional pieces, and that, combined with the short issuing period make it one of the more sought after fractional notes. At the time it was printed it had the latest in anti-counterfeiting technology including watermarked paper imbedded with pink fibers and a large over-printed Treasury seal. The reverse is very ornate, also in an effort to make counterfeiting difficult. The portrait of Lincoln was rendered by Treasury engraver Charles Burt and is considered to be one of the best portraits of Lincoln. Values run from $200 for well-worn pieces up to well over $2,000 for uncirculated examples. Surprisingly, Fractional currency has never been officially recalled by the Treasury so these notes are still considered legal tender!

Book Recommendation

61P5m158ndL. AA160

This month, since it’s close to Christmas time, I thought I would recommend something for the younger generation. (For the bargain hunters, look at Amazon’s “Used” section for specials on this book!) The “Coin Collecting for Kids” board book by Steve Otfinoski (Author), Jack Graham (Illustrator). Newly updated to include Presidential $1 coins and Westward Journey nickels! A colorful, kid-friendly book to introduce children to a lifelong hobby, Coin Collecting for Kids encourages children to search for, save, and learn all about many different U.S. coins. Take a tour through the mint and save pennies from four different decades while learning about how coins are made. Slots on every page let kids collect birth-year coins, millennium coins, and twentieth-century coins. Lastly, a gatefold spread will accommodate all 50 wildly popular statehood quarters. Organized by release year, each slot lists the state's nickname, motto, flower, and bird.


Q. A friend of mine just purchased a selection of gold plated U.S. banknotes. Are they rare and do they have any value?

A. These types of notes are commonly seen but unfortunately have little intrinsic value. They are actually not plated notes but are made from polycarbonate covered in extremely thin gold foil to resemble actual banknotes. The gold foil is approximately 0.5 microns thick. A sheet of copier paper is 60 microns thick. To give that another  perspective, an ounce of the gold foil would cover an area 10 ft. by 13 ft! A single note has less than $1.00 of gold even if the foil used is 24 karat quality. They are striking looking however, and many people collect them for that reason.

Q. I recently saw some certified coins that were annotated “Shipwreck Effect” and given a “Details” grade. Could you tell me why they were graded that way?

A. They are coins recovered from famous shipwrecks that have been damaged by corrosion. Gold coins generally are not damaged by exposure to salt water but silver coins do corrode. These recovered silver coins were conserved to stabilize them and  keep them from corroding further. Then they are graded based on the saltwater damage and, if possible, the original condition of the coin. The term “Shipwreck Effect” is used to annotate the cause of the surface damage. While lower value coins will get a boost from being certified as coming from a well known shipwreck, a higher value coin may trade at a discount to a problem-free coin. 

Historical Fact: During the Civil War, Union forces filled a number of New England whaling and merchant vessels with stone and sank them in Charleston Harbor in an effort to prevent blockade runners from entering. The group of vessels was then called the First Stone Fleet.  The vessel remains were recently discovered and mapped during an underwater survey of Charleston Harbor conducted by the University of South Carolina and funded by the National Park Service.

Coin of the Month.

$3 gold

The three-dollar piece was a gold coin produced by the United States Bureau of the Mint from 1854 to 1889. Authorized by the Act of February 21, 1853, the coin was designed by Mint Chief Engraver James B. Longacre. The obverse bears a representation of Lady Liberty wearing a headdress of a Native American princess and the reverse a wreath of corn, wheat, cotton, and tobacco. In 1851, Congress had authorized a silver three-cent piece so that postage stamps of that value could be purchased without using the widely disliked copper cents. Two years later, a bill was passed which authorized a three-dollar coin. By some accounts, the coin was created so larger quantities of stamps could be purchased. Longacre, in designing the piece, sought to make it as different as possible from the quarter eagle or $2.50 piece, striking it on a thinner planchet and using a distinctive design. Although over 100,000  were struck in the first year, the coin saw little use. It circulated somewhat on the West Coast, where gold and silver were used to the exclusion of paper money, but what little place it had in commerce in the East was lost in the economic disruption of the Civil War, and was never regained. The piece was last struck in 1889, and Congress ended the series the following year. Minted from 1854 to 1889 at the Philadelphia, San Francisco, Denver, and New Orleans Mints with the following specs: Weight/Composition: 5.015 grams, .900 Gold and .100 Copper. Diameter: 20.5 mm. Reeded edge. Designer: James B. Longacre

Currency Note of the Month.

SS 10,000

This month’s notes are the little brothers of last month’s 1918 large size $10,000 Federal Reserve note. The $10,000 small size Federal Reserve notes were issued in 2 Series, 1928 and 1934, and they are the largest denomination of U.S. currency ever in public circulation. Numerous examples of small size $10,000 notes exist (336 as of May, 2009) with current values ranging from $70,000 up to $350,000. The face has the same portrait as the large size notes of Salmon P. Chase, (painted by Henry Ulke in 1880), and the reverse has an abstract scroll-work with ornate denomination identifiers. Salmon P. Chase was Secretary of the Treasury during the Civil War and is credited with promoting our current U.S. banking system. Although they are still technically legal tender in the United States, high-denomination bills were last printed on December 27, 1945, and officially discontinued on July 14, 1969, by the Federal Reserve System.The $5,000 and $10,000 notes effectively disappeared well before then.

Book Recommendation


A while back I did a recommendation for the book “Manhunt” by James L. Swanson. This is the companion book to that one by the same author. The following synopsis is provided by “In Bloody Crimes, James L. Swanson—the Edgar® Award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of Manhunt—brings to life two epic events of the Civil War era: the thrilling chase to apprehend Confederate President Jefferson Davis in the wake of the Lincoln assassination and the momentous  20-day funeral that took Abraham Lincoln’s body home to Springfield. A true tale full of fascinating twists and turns, and lavishly illustrated with dozens of rare historical images—some never before seen—Bloody Crimes is a fascinating companion to Swanson’s Manhunt and  a riveting true-crime thriller that will electrify civil war buffs, general readers, and everyone in between.”


Q. Why were there 2 different sizes of gold dollars mined?

A. The gold dollar was first authorized in 1849 and the Type 1 dollar was minted until 1854. The Type 1 coin was fairly thick and counterfeiters would split the coin, remove a quantity of gold from the center , and then refill them with lead. The diameter was changed in 1854 (Type 2), creating a larger but thinner coin making the practice much more difficult. There is also a Type 3 gold dollar with a smaller bust on the obverse but all 3 types contain the same amount of gold.

Q. While looking through a selection of National banknotes I noticed some notes were identified as “Forbidden” notes? What’s the meaning of the description?

A. At the time National banknotes were being used, banks purchased Federal government bonds, were issued a charter and then allowed to issue bank notes in an amount based upon the amount of those bonds. Then bank notes were printed for the bank with their name on them. The Act of May 24th, 1926 forbade the use of the words “United States,” “Federal,” or “Reserve” in the bank  title but provided a grandfather clause for those banks already using those words in their title. There were 43 National banks that issued notes bearing one of these “forbidden” words in their title. This is a highly collectible sub-specialty of collecting National bank notes.

Historical Fact: Jean Henri Dunant (8 May 1828 – 30 October 1910), also known as Henry Dunant, was a Swiss businessman and social activist. During a business trip in 1859, he was witness to the aftermath of the Battle of Solferino in modern-day Italy. He recorded his memories and experiences in the book A Memory of Solferino which inspired the creation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 1863. The 1864 Geneva Convention was based on Dunant's ideas and it’s humanitarian ideals were ratified by 12 states (i.e. countries). In 1901 he received the first Nobel Peace Prize together with Frédéric Passy.

Coin of the Month.


The popular Walking Liberty Half dollar was a silver 50 cent piece produced from 1916-1947 . The design bears a full-length figure of Liberty, the folds of the Stars and Stripes flying to the breeze as a background, progressing in full stride toward the dawn of a new day, carrying branches of laurel and oak, symbolical of civil and military glory. The hand of the figure is outstretched in bestowal of the spirit of liberty. The reverse of the half dollar shows an eagle perched high upon a mountain crag, his wings unfolded, fearless in spirit and conscious of his power. Springing from a rift in the rock is a sapling of mountain pine, symbolical of America.  In 1917 the mint mark was moved from the obverse to the reverse resulting in 2 different types. There are few varieties in the series, and they are relatively minor. Minted from 1916 to 1947 at the Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Denver Mints with the following specs: Composition/Weight -12.5 grams, .900 Silver and .100 Copper. Diameter: 30.6 mm. Reeded edge. Designer: Adolph A. Weinman

Currency Note of the Month.

This month’s note is the 1918 large size $10,000 Federal Reserve note and it is the largest denomination of U.S. currency ever in public circulation. While numerous examples of small size $10,000 notes exist (336 as of May, 2009) only  5 large size examples are known. 2 New York, 2 San Francisco, and 1 unique Cleveland issues. All known large size notes are in government holdings thus values are unknown. The face has a portrait of Salmon P. Chase, (painted by Henry Ulke in 1880), and the reverse has a vignette, the “Embarkation of the Pilgrims”. Salmon P. Chase was Secretary of the Treasury during the Civil War and is credited with promoting our current U.S. banking system. The “Embarkation of the Pilgrims” vignette is from a painting by Robert Weir and the engraving was done W.W. Rice. Next month I will cover it’s little brother, the 1928 and 1934 issues of the small size $10,000 note.

Book Recommendation

This recommendation will be a little outside of  the “box” so to speak. Instead of a specific book I am recommending joining either the Numismatic Association of Southern California (NASC) or the California State Numismatic Association (CSNA).  While this may seem a little odd as a book selection, joining either organization entitles the member to receive the California Numismatist magazine. The publication  is distributed quarterly and it’s informative subject material is second to none while maintaining a local perspective.  Individual Membership is only $25.00 annually and the subscription to the magazine alone is well worth it!   The California Numismatist has received the award for “Outstanding Regional Club Publication” from the ANA for the last ten years in a row. Just in case you think the information is mostly club oriented, each issue usually has at least 5 numismatic articles and I have seen the editor (Gregg Burns) squeeze in as many as 10! Even if your uninterested in the workings of the NASC or CSNA the quality magazine makes this membership worth it. If anyone wants to see a copy of the magazine see me at any club meeting. I usually have the latest issue.


Q. When was the first time the motto “In God We Trust” used on U.S. currency?

A.The answer to this question is trickier than it looks. While the first deliberate use as part of the bills design was on the 1935H series $1 Silver Certificate, there was also an 1874 First Charter period Florida note that incorporated the Florida State Seal on the reverse. The motto was part of the seals design so technically that was first time the motto was on U.S. currrency. This clever question was posed to the audience at the recent Society of Paper Money Collectors breakast held in Memphis Tenn.

Q. Were Olympic winners always awarded medals represented as gold, silver, and bronze?

A. At the first two modern Olympic Games held in 1896 and 1900, winners were awarded silver olive branches, while runner-ups received bronze laurel branches. The custom of awarding gold, silver, and bronze medals was initiated in late 1900 by the IOC and retroactively authorized them for participants in the Olympic Games of 1896 and 1900. Over the years there has been a number of different alloys and sizes of Olympic medals but the last solid gold medals were struck and awarded in the Stockholm Games in 1912. An example of one of those gold medals was worn and displayed for decades by Gen.George S. Patton, a 1912 winner in the Pentathlon. 

Numismatic Fact:The Russian- American Co. operated in the early 19th century mostly in Alaska and western North America. They produced a company script often referred to as “walrus or sealskin” money because some of the notes were actually printed on walrus skins, although many were printed on parchment. Otter skins were shipped to Russia in waterproof walrus skin bags and the bags were then recycled to produce the notes. In Russia the notes were known as Kozhanye (skins). The company issued notes from 1816 to 1852, with six different denominations reported: 10, 25, and 50 Kopeks along with 1, 10, and 25 Roubles. An estimated 150-200 pieces are believed to survive today, (mostly in museums), although 6 pieces were sold at auction in 2005 with auction prices between $7,000 and $9,000 ea. (Jul/Aug Paper Money Magazine)

Coin of the Month.

Capped Bust Half Dime

The Capped Bust Half Dime series was produced from 1829-1837 . The half dime, or half disme, was a silver coin, valued at five cents, formerly minted in the United States.These coins were much smaller than dimes in diameter and thickness, appearing to be "half dimes". The high circulating mintage in the series was in 1835, when 2,760,000 were struck, and the low of 871,000 was in 1837. Both Capped Bust and Liberty Seated half dimes were minted in 1837. Minted from 1829 to 1837 at the Philadelphia Mint with the following specs: Composition/Weight -1.35 grams, .8924 Silver and .1076 Copper. Diameter: 15.5 mm. Reeded edge. Designer: William Kneass

Currency Note of the Month.

Black Eagle note

This note is the famous $1 "Black Eagle" Silver Certificate – Series 1899. The vignette on this note is titled “Eagle of the Capitol”, but it is nicknamed "Black Eagle." The vignette depicts a large black eagle standing on a flag in front of the Capitol building with portraits of Lincoln and Grant beneath the denomination on the face. An engraved design with an obligation is on the back. The note shown is from Series 1899, and has a blue seal and serial numbers. There are 3 varieties of this note depending on the location of the series date and also 9 different combinations of Register/Treasuer facsimile signatures. Engraved by G.F.C. Smillie.

Book Recommendation 


This month I decided to recommend a book that is a little outside of the boundaries  of my usual informational volumes. The title of the book is “A Twisted Tale of Cover Up and Deceit”and it was written by Richard Kelly and Nancy Oliver. The book is part detective story and part historical novel and tells the tale of the theft of over $150,000 in gold from the first San Francisco Mint. This occurred in 1856 and it would have been multiples of the entire annual payroll of the Mint. Obviously a theft of this magnitude could only have been perpetrated by someone in a position of trust: a Mint Officer. I am not going to continue giving away any more of the story, because it is a fascinating read, other than to say that the theft appears to have been solved by the end of the book. An excellent fall read and well worth the effort!  (Only available by purchase from the writers at for $23)


Q. Was any coin denomination produced at all the mints?

A. $5 gold pieces have been produced in various varieties and types since 1795. Commemorative and Bullion $5 coins have been produced at the West Point Mint since 1986 and 1994 respectively, thus, this is the only U.S. denomination made at each of the eight mints. (A Guide Book of United States Coins, R.S. Yeoman, 2008)

Q. Where was the first gold rush in the United States?

A. The Carolina Gold Rush, the first gold rush in the United States, followed discovery of gold in North Carolina in 1799. However, it was not until a few years later that word of the gold spread and men started coming to North Carolina from other states.                                                                                                                           In 1799 young Conrad Reed found a 17-pound shiny rock while playing at a creek on his family farm in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. He and his family kept it as a doorstop until 1802 when his father, John Reed, took the rock to a jeweler who recognized it as gold and bought it from the unaware Reed for $3.50 (a week's wages for farm labor.) A year later Peter, one of the slaves held by the Reed family, found a 28-pound nugget of gold on the property. John Reed started placer mining, and later underground mining, on his property and became a wealthy man. (Wikipedia)

Numismatic Fact: According to the Japanese Currency Law, a maximum of 20 coins of the same denomination can be used as legal tender. Rejection of the acceptance under 20 pieces of the same denomination is prohibited. In cases of over 20 pieces you can reject accepting the coins in daily transactions. However, the largest Japanese coin currently in general circulation is the 500 yen. With a value close to $5 each, 20 pieces would be would be almost $100 U.S.

Coin of the Month.

3CN coin

In 1865, the "Nickel" Three Cent coin was introduced, (the predominant metal in the coin was actually copper, but because the color was more whitish than brown, "Nickel" was considered a better descriptor). These were minted side-by-side with the silver version until 1873, when the silver type was discontinued.  The nickel versions were minted until 1889, when the entire denomination was discontinued. There are 3 notable varieties and a number of low-mintage or Proof only years. Minted from 1865 to 1889 at the Philadelphia Mint with the following specs: Composition/Weight - 1.94 grams, .750 Copper and .250 Nickel. Diameter: 17.9 mm. Plain edge. Designer: James B. Longacre.

Currency Note of the Month.

5c Note

This is the first issue, Five-cent US Postal Currency, featuring Thomas Jefferson. Gold, silver and copper coins were hoarded at the start of the Civil War and postage stamps became a popular form of currency; however the adhesive back was a serious impediment. On July 17, 1862, Congress authorized printing of Postal Currency notes in the denominations of 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents. These notes could be redeemed for postage stamps or for a US bank note in the amount of five dollars or more. The Postal Currency was succeeded by Fractional Currency in 1863.                                                                                          The Post Office kept detailed records and 44,857,780 5c notes were printed from August 21,1862 to May 27, 1863. The note is 2.5 by1.75 inches (63.5 by 44.5 mm). The notes were printed on sheets of 20 and initially perforated like stamps. Later versions omitted the perforations and the notes were cut with a scissors. The front of the notes were engraved and printed with brown ink on yellow paper by the National Bank Note Company. The backs were engraved by the American Bank Note Company and printed by the American Bank Note Company and US government. There are 4 varieties of this note, perforated/non-perforated in conjunction with the presence or absence of the ABCO monogram as shown.

Book Recommendation 

Ancient Coin Collecting (1996) by noted numismatist Wayne G. Sayles is a concise yet comprehensive introduction to the often passionate and rewarding hobby of collecting ancient coins. Basic information such as numismatic terms and their definitions, and the processes involved in how coins were made, is followed by descriptions of several ancient cultures and the coins commonly attributed to them. The author then spends considerable time to outline where to find ancient coins, how to buy them, what to avoid when considering a coin for purchase and lists numerous sources throughout the text for learning more about them. There is a very useful section on attribution, determination of authenticity, and finally, tips on beginning organized collections that will increase both in monetary and asthetic value with each addition. Although this book is titled volume I and five other texts are apparently to follow, Ancient Coin Collecting stands on its own and may be the only book of its kind necessary to spark a prolonged interest in this fascinating hobby and for some a lifelong pursuit and passion. (Review attributed to an unknown reviewer on


Q. I notice that most coin clubs start their meetings with the “Pledge of Allegiance”. What is the proper way of saluting the flag when this is done? 

A. According to the “Flag Manufacturers Association of America” men and women should stand and salute the flag at the following times:

  • At the moment the flag passes in a parade or review.               
  • Facing the flagpole during the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag. 
  • Facing the flag when the National Anthem is played. If the flag is not displayed, all                      those present should face toward the music.  
  • During the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance. 

Men should remove their hats with the right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, with the hand being over the heart. Women and men without hats should place the right hand over the heart. Women are not required to remove their hats. Those who are not US citizens should simply stand at attention.

Current flag protocol allows veterans to salute the flag as military personnel do, with a military-style hand salute, if they choose. If veterans prefer, they may hold their right hand over their heart, as civilians do.

Q. What is a Higley copper?

A. Higley coppers are copper pieces the size of a half-penny and are believed to have been made by Dr. Samuel Higley. He owned a copper mine in Simsbury, Connecticut which opened in 1727 and produced copper ore that was used both locally and exported to England. The coppers come in 2 types, ones marked with a value of threepence and others marked “Value me as you please. I am good copper”. Dr. Higley perished in a shipwreck in 1737 but his brother continued to produce the coppers for approximately 2 more years. Highly collectible, even damaged tokens sell for $25,000 and up, and one of the best examples recently sold for $470,000! 

Historical Fact: "E Pluribus Unum" is used on many of our country's seals and most of our currency and coins. However, during the American Revolution, the Continental Congress issued a three-dollar bill bearing the motto, "Exitus in Dubio Est," which translates to "The Outcome Is in Doubt." Despite congressional pessimism about the war, John Adams, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson proposed the more prophetic motto, "E Pluribus Unum" -- "One From Many." The motto first appeared on the Great Seal of the United States in 1782. The Great Seal, however, didn't appear on U.S. currency until 1902. (

Coin of the Month.

The Alabama centennial half dollar commemorative coin was minted to celebrate the centennial of Alabama's admission to the Union in 1819. This was the last slave holding territory admitted prior to the Missouri Compromise in 1820. This was also the first commemorative coin minted with the image of a living individual. These coins were first distributed on October 26, 1921 when President Warren Harding passed through Birmingham to help dedicate a new Masonic temple. They were then sold by banks throughout the state and were widely circulated during the Great Depression. The obverse depicts overlapping profiles of William Bibb, who was the governor in 1819, and Thomas Kilby, who was the governor in 1919. The 22 stars flanking the portraits indicate that Alabama was the 22nd state admitted to the Union. On some coins, there is a 2X2 in the right field with the X representing the St. Andrew's cross. Minted in 1921at the Philadelphia Mint with the following specs: Composition/Weight - 12.5 grams, .900 Silver and .100 Copper. Diameter: 30.6 mm. Reeded edge. Designers: Obverse-Laura Gardin Fraser, Reverse-Marie Bankhead Owen

Currency Note of the Month.

The Educational Series of notes is the informal nickname given by numismatists to a series of United States Silver Certificates produced by the United States Treasury in 1896, after Bureau of Engraving and Printing chief Claude M. Johnson ordered a new currency design. The $5 note depicts an allegorical motif titled “Electricity as the Dominant Force in the World” The obverse of the note depicts the neoclassical alle- gorical motif, with Electricity surrounded by other allegorical figures, representing the dominant force in the world. The United States Capitol building can be seen behind the female figures. The naked breasts of the female figures on the $5 Silver Certifi- cate reportedly caused some minor controversy when several Boston society ladies took offense to the design. Some bankers reportedly refused to accept the notes in transactions, and the term “banned in Boston” allegedly originates from the $5 Silver Certificate. In response the Bureau of Engraving and Printing prepared a "draped" bosom $5 vignette design for a proposed 1897 series. The redesign also included a highly modified front face but was never utilized.The back contains the profiles of Ulysses S. Grant and Philip Sheridan set against an ornate background. The front face was designed by Walter Shirlaw and Thomas Morris, the note engraver was George Smillie, and the vignettes of Grant and Sheridan were designed and en- graved by Thomas Morris and Lorenzo Hatch. 

Book Recommendation 

The book I’m recommending this month has been in print since the 1940’s (updated a number of times) and for collectors of large cents it is a must have. Of course , I am re- ferring to one of the original coin reference books titled “Penny Whimsy, A Revision of Early American Cents, 1793-1814: An Exercise in Descriptive Classification with Ta- bles of Rarity and Value” by Dr. William Sheldon. The book covers large cents for the years 1793-1814 and goes to great lengths to describe the different die varieties for these years and documenting them with a photo of each one plus a rarity rating for each. This book is a very detailed on the production of early cents and is an excellent histori- cal and early American economics reference. He is also the creator of the 1-70 condi- tion rating system for coins which is outlined in the book and still in use today. This book is not a price guide but a research book with the large cent being it’s total focus and is indispensable for large cent collectors.


Q. What is “clam shell” money?

A. There was a shortage of coins and banknotes throughout much of the united States when in March 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt closed all U.S. Banks in what he called a bank holiday. Merchants in Pismo beach, Calif., began issuing scrip written on clam shells to make change. (Coin Clinic, R. Giedroyc, 20 May 2104)

Q. What is a “five-shilling dollar”?

A. Over a period of years, during the reign of George III, a coin shortage had been developing in England. As the shortage increased, the people started to panic and took every opportunity to hoard any money containing gold or silver. This, of course, only made the situation worse. By 1798 it was so acute that the British government, through the Bank of England, bought Spanish and Spanish-American eight-reale pieces (silver dollar sized) which pictured the Spanish king, counter-stamped them with a small head of George III,and then announced that they had a value of 4 shillings nine pence. By 1890 the price of silver rose and the coins had to be revalued at 5 shillings. Using coins of an ofttimes enemy was repugnant to the citizenry, who composed the following jingle:

“To make the dollar of Spain for five shillings to pass,                                                   Stamp the head of a fool on the neck of an ass”

Whether or not this ridicule of the king had any effect, complete dies were prepared, dated 1804, and the Spanish pieces were completely overstruck with an obverse de- sign showing a bust of George III and the reverse design reading in part “Bank of England Five Shilling Dollar.” On most pieces some details of the original Spanish coin can still be seen.

Historical Fact: In 1951 the Hemet Police Department consisted of 6 Officers with Chief of Police Cecil W. Walsh and Capt. Nash Terrones in charge. The Hemet News printed in 1951 “a six man police force maintains the peace of the town, and this is provable by the virtual immunity Hemet enjoys from major crime.” Hemet’s population in 1951 was 3,386. (Images of America-Hemet)

Coin of the Month.

The trade dollar was a United States dollar coin minted to compete with other large silver coins that were already popular in East Asia. The idea first came about in the 1860s, when the price of silver began to decline due to increased mining efforts in the western United States. The Coinage Act of 1873 made trade dollars legal tender up to five dollars. The coins were first struck in 1873, and most of the production was sent to China. Eventually, bullion producers began converting large amounts of silver into trade dollars, causing the coins to make their way into American commercial channels. This caused frustration among those to whom they were given in payment, as the coins were largely maligned and traded for less than one dollar each. In response to their wide distribution in American commerce, the coins were officially demonetized in 1876, but continued to circulate. Because of its demand by collectors a large number of counterfeits exist made with base metal, and buyers should exercise caution when purchasing specimens. Also, many of the trade dollars that circulated in the Orient were counter-stamped with oriental characters called “chop marks” and these are generally less valued than normal pieces. Minted from 1873 to 1885 at the Phil- adelphia, Carson City, and San Francisco Mints with the following specs: Composition/Weight - 420 grains, .900 Silver and .100 Copper. Diameter: 38.1 mm. Reeded edge. Designer: William Barber.

Currency Note of the Month

The Educational Series of notes is the informal nickname given by numismatists to a series of United States Silver Certificates produced by the United States Treasury in 1896, after Bureau of Engraving and Printing chief Claude M. Johnson ordered a new currency design. The $2 note depicts an allegorical motif titled "Science presenting steam and electricity to Commerce and Manufacture” The obverse of the note depicts the neoclassical allegorical motif, with Science (center) presenting Steam and Elec- tricity (the two children) to the more mature figures of Commerce (left) and Manufac- ture (right). The back contains the profiles of Robert Fulton and Samuel F.B. Morse set against an ornate background. The front face was designed by Edwin Blashfield and Thomas Morris, the note engravers were George Smillie and Charles Schlecht, and the vignettes of Fulton and Morse were engraved by Lorenzo Hatch. 

Book Recommendation

I will apologize in advance for this month’s book recommendation as it is not about numismatics and will be of only limited interest to non-club members. The book I am going to recommend is titled “Images of America-Hemet Edition”. This book is one of a series of books detailing the history and development of local towns and areas of southern California. The Hemet edition is extremely well illustrated, with every page having at least 1 photo of a historical location or influential person of early Hemet. While the book is attributed to the Hemet Area Museum Association, the actual contents are a compilation by Bob Norman, Mary Whitney, and Gordon Sisk. If you want to know the history of the town of Hemet, this is the book to read. 


Q. How much did Louis E. Eliasberg spend to assemble his famous collection of coins?

A. Louis E. Eliasberg, (The King of Coin Collectors), is known as the only individual, (so far), to ever assemble a complete set of U.S. coins, with regular-issue coins of every denomination from every date they were issued and every mint that made them in those years. This accomplishment was not a result of simply having enough wealth to buy any coin he wanted, but was due to his shrewd  purchasing and tough bargaining. During the 16 years it took to complete the collection, (1934-1950), Eliasberg spent less than $400,000. When the collection was dispersed, at a series of auctions between 1982 and 2005, it realized a grand total of approximately $55 million-more than 100 times what it had cost.  (Coin Capsule, E. Reiter, Jan. 2014)

Q. I have an early American obsolete banknote that indicates that it is “Payable on Demand to Daniel Webster or the Bearer.”  Does it being associated with Daniel Webster increase the value or rarity of the note?

A. In the early days of U.S. Banking most banks were private entities and were not associated in any way with the government. So, in a number of instances, banknotes were embellished like this to impart the notion that the person named, (generally, a famous individual), was associated with the bank. Usually the named person had no idea that his name and reputation was being used this way. This technique and the use of bank names associated with reliability and strength gave the impression that a particular bank was solid. However, as banks came and went (i.e. failed), the general solution for the average citizen was to not accept paper money from any bank more than 10-20 miles away.

Historical Fact: Those that have either read General Lew Wallace’s book “Ben Hur”  or saw the movie adapted from the book, may remember the betting on the chariot race. The wealthy Romans wagered one or more gold “talents”. At a time when coinage was in its infancy, many of the commercial transactions were completed in gold or silver by weight. The dictionary defines a talent as a unit of weight with a minimum of 58 pounds. The current open market price per ounce of gold is approx. $1300 meaning that one talent of gold would be worth $1,206,400. Thats quite a wager on a chariot race!

Coin of the Month.

The Buffalo nickel or Indian Head nickel was a copper-nickel five-cent piece struck by the United States Mint from 1913 to 1938 and was designed by sculptor James Earle Fraser. In 1911, Taft administration officials decided to replace Charles E. Barber's Liberty Head design for the nickel, and commissioned Fraser to do the work. They were impressed by Fraser's designs showing a Native American and an American bison.Despite attempts by the Mint to adjust the design, resulting in Type 1 (Bison on a mound) and Type II (Bison on a plain) varieties, the coins proved to strike indistinctly, and to be subject to wear—the dates were easily worn away in circulation. In 1938, after the minimum 25-year period during which the design could not be replaced without congressional authorization had expired, it was replaced by the Jefferson nickel designed by Felix Schlag. Minted from 1913 to 1938 at the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints with the following specs: Composition/Weight - .750 Copper .250 nickel. Diameter: 21.2 mm. Plain edge. Designer: James Earle Fraser.

Currency Note of the Month.

The Educational Series of notes is the informal nickname given by numismatists to a series of United States Silver Certificates produced by the United States Treasury in 1896, after Bureau of Engraving and Printing chief Claude M. Johnson ordered a new currency design. The $1 note depicts an allegorical motif titled  "History instructing Youth”. The obverse of the note depicts the neoclassical allegorical motif, which dominates the front of the note. The back contains the profiles of George and Martha Washington set against an ornate background. The term "Educational" is derived from the title of the vignette on this $1 note, "History Instructing Youth". The front face was designed by Will H. Low, the note engraver was Charles Schlecht, and the vignettes of Martha and George Washington were engraved by Charles Burt and Alfred Sealey, respectively.

Book Recommendation

I am going to go out on a limb with this months Book recommendation and recommend a book that I have only recently ordered and not yet read. The name of the book is “Wampum and the Origins of American Money” written by Marc Shell. The following book description is provided courtesy of  the February  issue of “The Numismatist” with a review by Kendra Johnson. This should be a really interesting read for those interested in Early Americana.

Marc Shell, Irving Babbitt professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Illinois, presents an in-depth analysis of wampum and its many uses . The book contains more than 100 photographs and illustrations exploring the economics, literature, and racial and ethnic imagery of American money. Interweaving the multiple functions of wampum with Early American language, art, culture, and conflict negotiation, Shell unveils this currency’s influence on the founding of this nation.


Q. What is the difference between a “doubled die“ coin and a coin that is “doubled” and do both bring a premium as an error? 

A. A double-die coin is a coin produced from a working coinage die on which the image itself is doubled. A coin displaying doubling can be produced  from a die that has no doubling due to a momentary production problem , the coin having been struck more than once, creating a doubled image or machine doubling damage. Collectors tend to place much more value on a doubled die coin than a double struck coin. Every coin struck from the doubled die will display that doubling, while a double struck coin may be the only one. (Coin Clinic, R. Giedroyc, Mar. 2014)

Q. What are “Giori” notes?

A. In 1973, the U.S. Department of Engraving and Printing did some testing in Germany on new type of printing press called a Giori press. Various front and back vignettes and designs were printed on a large quantity of notes of various paper types. No complete notes were ever printed. When the testing was done the incomplete experiments were sold to an American collector who in turn sold them to U.S. dealers. There is a small dedicated group of collectors of these notes and also rumors of a forthcoming book cataloging these notes.

Historical Fact: The Fugio cent is recognized as the first U.S. Government coin and was produced when the Continental Congress contracted with James Jarvis to strike them. However, of the 32 tons of copper provided to Jarvis at bargain rates, only 4 tons was actually used to produce Fugio cents. The rest was diverted into making Connecticut state coppers, a much more profitable endeavor.The government eventually won a $10,842 judgement against Jarvis but was never able to collect it. 

Coin of the Month.  

The Kennedy half dollar is celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary this year and there are rumors from the U.S. Mint that as many as 3 different varieties may be issued this year. These will be in addition to the usual issues in the yearly Proof and Mint sets. Current reports indicate that a proof gold version, a silver version, and a copper-nickel version will be produced although product configurations, mintage, and pricing details have not yet been released. The Kennedy half was originally created as a commemorative piece after President kennedy was assassinated in 1963 and was released in 1964. It has had 3 different compositions since it’s release and has also had numerous updates to its design including a different reverse for it’s inclusion as a Bi-centennial release.    

Minted from 1964 to the present at the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco mints with the following 3 types: Composition/Weight - .900 Silver and .100 Copper/ 12.5 grams, .750 Copper and .250 Silver Clad/11.50 grams, and .750 Copper and    .250  Nickel/11.43 grams. Diameter: 30.6 mm. Reeded edge. Designers: Gilroy Roberts (Obverse), Frank Gasparro (Reverse), and Seth Huntington (Bi-centennial Reverse). 

Currency Note of the Month.

Collectors call 1865 $2 bills “lazy deuces”. The nickname derives from the fact that the large two on the front of each bill is laying on its side. At some point someone used the term “lazy deuce” and it stuck. The vignette at left is titled “Stars and Stripes” and is the work of engraver Luigi (Louis) Delnoce (1822-90). Delnoce studied with John W. Casilear in the early 1850s. He later went on to instruct Marcus W. Baldwin and Daniel F. Caughlan. His son, Louis, Jr., followed in his father's footsteps.

The vignette at center on the back is Sir Walter Raleigh Presenting Corn and Tobacco to the English (there are several variations of the title). That piece was also the work of Delnoce. Another appealing aspect of the design of the notes is that the state or territorial seal of the issuing bank was included within an oval frame on the back at left.

The two dollar national bank note was discontinued in 1878, so that leaves just a thirteen year production period. Most 1865 two dollar bills are very scarce today. The most common examples in poor condition are worth around $1,000. Examples from rare banks or bills that are in perfect condition are worth and sell for several thousand dollars or more. Even if a bank was open in 1865 it didn’t necessarily print two dollar bills. There were plenty of dollar coins circulating in the 1860s, so a lot of national banks didn’t bother to print one and two dollar bills because the need was already being satisfied by coinage. Even if a bank did choose to print 1865 two dollar bills, they were still only printed at a rate of one two dollar bill for every three one dollar bill. Most banks that did print $2 bills almost always issued less than 10,000 examples over the entire life of the bank. You can see why some are so rare and valuable today! (

Book Recommendation

It’s been a couple month’s since I did a recommendation for a currency book, so this month’s book is titled “Collecting Paper Money for Pleasure and Profit” by Barry Krause. This book is older and probably out of print, (copyright is 1992), but I picked up a copy in my travels and find it to be a very practical guide  for the beginning paper money collector. It covers a large variety of paper money collecting specialties and provides a great deal of information about the storing and grading of paper money. It also covers where and how to purchase notes and sources for notes. It  has excellent references pertaining to museum collections and getting information about the background of specific note types and collecting of paper money. A good choice for the novice paper money collector or the person interested in collecting paper money but not sure where to start.


Q. I just started collecting currency and was warned to learn to recognize and identify  "pressed" notes. What are "pressed" notes?

A. "Pressed" notes are notes that have had their appearance and paper quality artificially improved by using weight or heat or a combination of the two. This is usually done with an iron or even just pressing them in a heavy book. Also, sometimes starch or chemicals will be used in conjunction with heat in an attempt to remove folds, particularly corner folds, and also add crispness to the paper thus making the note appear to be of better quality than it really is. However, currency folds are difficult to totally disguise and can usually be detected by examining the note with a bright light background. Also, check the note on edge for paper waviness or wrinkling as a sign that it may have been pressed. Last, and this will sound strange, smell the note. Some agents used for pressing will leave a chemical smell that can be detected. As the popularity of currency collecting increases, note "doctoring" is becoming more of a problem.

Q. Was a murder ever commemorated on a coin?

A. Everyone knows of the assassination of Caesar by Brutus and Cassius on March 15th, 44 B.C. (The Ides of March).  In the following year , Cestianus, a soldier under Brutus, had denarii (silver pennies) struck to commemorate the event. To their followers, Brutus and Cassius were not murderers but saviors. The obverse of the coin shows Brutus and the reverse shows a liberty cap or piles in the center with daggers on each side. Below are the Latin words “Eid Mar”. The coin is a rarity in the Roman series and many counterfeits exist. 

Historical Fact: While we all bemoan the price of postage increasing, there actually was an instance where the price of postage went down! Prior to 1851, mailing a letter up to 300 miles cost 5 cents and double that for greater distances. That year rates were reduced to one cent to mail a letter locally and three cents to mail it up to 3,000 miles. This provided the impetus for the creation of the short lived 3 cent coin. In 1883, the distance postage rate was further reduced to 2 cents where it stayed until 1917. 

Coin of the Month.

This month we have the Seated Liberty Half Dime. Minted in 4 major varieties, the first variety does not have stars on the obverse, the second added stars to the obverse (shown), the third added arrows beside the date to indicate a reduction in weight, and on the fourth the legend was moved from the reverse to the obverse. The third variety was only minted for 3 years before the previous weight was restored . Minted from 1837-1873 there are also many overdates plus numeral, mintmak, and drapery design variations through the years. Minted at the Philadelphia, New Orleans, and San Francisco Mints with the following specs: Weight-1.34 (Var. 4 1.24) Grams. Composition: .900 Silver and .100 Copper. Diameter: 15.5mm. Reeded Edge. Designer (all varieties) - Christian Gobrecht

Currency Note of the Month.

Last month as part of Jerry and Mary Ann’s excellent presentation on the dollar bill, there was some discussion on why there were different colors of seals and what they designated. So, here is the short version of what the different seal colors indicate with thumbnail pictures of the various notes! Seal colors indicate specific types of notes as follows:

Green seals are used on the familiar Federal Reserve Notes that are in daily use.                                                                                                                            

Red seals designated United States Notes issued directly by the U.S. Government rather than the Federal Reserve.  These notes were issued from 1862 to 1971.          

Blue Seals were used on silver certificates. These were backed by physical silver held by the U.S. Treasury. They were issued from 1878 to 1957.                                                                                      

Gold seals were used on Gold certificates and were also backed by physical gold. They were issued from 1863 to 1933. (Issued in $10 notes or larger only).                                                            

Yellow seals are actually a sub-set of the Silver Certificate issues. They were an emergency issue for use by the military in North Africa during WWII. This allowed for their cancellation in the event of enemy possession.

Brown seals are seen on 3 different issues. They were first used on National Bank notes ($% notes or larger) and were issued by individual chartered banks from 1863 to 1935. They were also used on a Federal Reserve note emergency issue in 1933 during the Great Depression. Lastly, they were used on emergency issues of Silver Certificates and Federal Reserve notes issued during WWII for circulation in Hawaii and the Pacific Theatre. Again, this allowed for cancellation in the event of enemy possession. They were issued from 1942 to 1945.      

I’ve included some examples below (Not all types are shown):         

(Thanks! to Mary Ann Bodenhorn for providing information on Treasury seals and their issues.)

Book Recommendation

My book recommendation for the month is a Whitman book titled “A Guidebook of Modern United States Proof Coin Sets”. Written by David Lange with a forward by Q. David Bowers, it is guide to the proof sets from 1936 to 1942 listed as vintage sets and then continues with proof sets produced when production recommenced in 1950. The book lists the number of sets produced and an estimate of the number of intact sets left. It also provides estimated values for both uncertified and certified sets with illustrations of complete sets in their original packaging. The initial sections gives tips on collecting and storing the sets and in the back sections it has (in color) the different types of packaging and mailing material for various proof sets. An informative book for those that appreciate the precision of proof type coins and collect them.

(Editors Correction: One of our sharp-eyed members noted that in last months issue. I had indicated as part of my review of “National Bank Notes” that the Federal Reserve System was created in 1928. That is incorrect, the Federal Reserve System was created on Dec. 23, 1913 with the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act.)


Q. What are Commutation Money receipts?

A. The first Federal drafts occurred during the Civil War. Draftees were given the options of fulfilling their service obligation, providing a substitute, or paying a fee of $300 fee to avoid service. The high cost of the fee meant that only the rich could avoid the draft. This, along with general anger toward the draft, led to the bloody New York City draft riots in 1863, when mobs took over parts of the city in the worst civil disturbance in the history of New York. Commutation Money receipts showed that the person had paid the fee to avoid the draft. The fee was a cheaper alternative to providing a substitute which reached the price of $2,000 at one point. (Bank Note Reporter, Aug. 2013) 

Q. Was P.T. Barnum, (the famous circus showman), ever on a U.S. coin?

A. P.T. Barnum was pictured on a 1936 U.S. Commemorative coin celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the incorporation of the city of Bridgeport, Conn. Barnum was the city’s most distinguished citizen and it’s one-time Mayor. Congress authorized 25,000 fifty cent pieces and examples currently sell for $100-$200 in uncirculated condition

Historical Fact: The Chisholm Trail, named for trader Jesse Chisholm, ran from feeder trails in Texas to stockyards and the railhead at Abilene Kansas. Chisholm blazed a wagon trail between a post at the mouth of the Little Arkansas River to the Red River in the Indian Nations. This trail was first traversed by cattle in 1867 and eventually the entire trail was named for him. By the time the trail was about played out in 1884, cattlemen had used it to move more than 5 million head of cattle and over 1 million head of mustangs - the greatest migration of livestock in American history. 

Coin of the Month. 


Minted from 1865-1889 the 3 cent pieces struck in nickel were designed to replace the silver 3 cent pieces. The pieces were only struck as proofs in the years ’77, ’78, and ’86. There are also 2 types of varieties.  Minted only at the Philadelphia Mint with the following specs: Weight-1.94 Grams. Composition: .750 Copper and .250 Nickel. Diameter: 17.9mm. Plain Edge. Designer (all varieties) - James B. Longacre. 

Bill of the Month.

This month I am starting a new informational section similar to the Coin of the Month section. I will give background information on a particular currency note and, if possible, provide a photo image of the note. This month, I thought it would be appropriate to present this particular note since it just sold on January 10th for $3.29 million making it the most ever payed for a currency note! The note is an 1890 $1,000 Treasury  bill and is the only one, of 2 known, in private hands. It gets it’s nickname “Grand Watermelon” from the denomination and the design of the “zero’s” on the reverse. The bust on the face is of General George Mead, commander of the Union troops at the Battle of Gettysburgh. Treasury notes were redeemable in actual coin but whether gold or silver should be paid out was left to the discretion of the Secretary of the Treasury. It has facsimile signatures of Rosecrans (Register of The Treasury) and Nebeker (Treasurer of the United States).

Book Recommendation

“National Bank Notes” by Don C. Kelly is this month’s book selection.  This is a reference book with statistics and information related to all of the issues of National Bank notes. Prior to  the establishment  of the Federal Reserve system and the creation of the Federal Reserve note in 1913, individual banks were given a charter number by the federal government and the individual banks printed their own banknotes. This book identifies the banks, their charter numbers, the amount and types of notes they issued, and a census figure of the notes that still exist.   There were over 12,000 charters issued so the number of entries and the research involved in collecting this information is staggering! The book is almost 600 pages long but the information presented is vital for collectors of National Bank notes. As can be imagined, this book is not cheap. New copies are about $90 and used copies can be had for around $50.


Q. How much would $1,000,000 dollars in Morgan silver dollars weigh

A. The amount would weigh in at a total of 71,643 troy pounds (a system used to weigh precious metals at 12 oz’s to a pound) or 58,930 avoirdupois pounds (the system used to measure everyday items with 16 oz’s to a pound). (Numismatic News, R. Giedroyc, Dec. 24 2013)

Q. With the discussion to eliminate paper dollars and replace them with a dollar coin in full swing, how many dollar coins do we currently have sitting unused in the Federal Reserve inventory?

A. According to a recently released General Accounting Office report, the Federal Reserve has 1.4 billion dollar coins in inventory, which it believes is enough to last for the next 40 years. Currently, the U.S. Mint is only minting dollar coins for sale to collectors and not for circulation. In 2014 we will see the release of 4 new Presidential $1 coin designs.

 Historical Fact: Grover Cleveland first served as President from 1885 to 1889 when he was succeeded by Benjamin Harrison. Cleveland actually won the popular vote in the1889 election but Harrison prevailed in the Electoral College.  In 1893 Cleveland was re-elected making him the only President that has served 2 terms unconsecutively.

Coin of the Month.

Jefferson Nickel

The Jefferson 5c nickel piece is one of the most popular and affordable of all U.S. coins. Designed by Felix Schlag, he was the design contest winner from some 390 submissions. His design established the definite public approval of portrait and pictorial themes rather than symbolic devices on our coinage.  Minted from 1938 to 2003 at the Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Denver Mints. Minted in 35% silver composition (noted by a large mintmark on the reverse)  from 1942-1945. Specs for the non-silver issue is Composition:  .750 Copper and .250 nickel. Silver issue is .560 Copper, .350 Silver and .090 Manganese.          Diameter: 22mm. Weight-5 Grams. Plain Edge.

Book Recommendation

This month marks 3 years of book recommendations from this editor and this month I am selecting a book for an area of collecting that I don't actively pursue. The book is titled the “Official Price Guide to Mint Errors” authored/edited by the late Alan Herbert. The book is currently in its seventh edition and it provides a concise method of cataloging the various types of coin minting errors. It also provides a listing of all known types of existing errors with suggested retail pricing. Due to recent changes in the minting and distribution of freshly minted coinage, error coins are becoming more difficult to obtain, so this area is one to watch and the information in this book will be very useful.


Q. Was the buffalo on the Indian Head 5 cent piece modeled from an actual animal?

A. The buffalo on the “buffalo nickel” five cent piece was an artist’s rendition of “Black Diamond”, actually a bison on exhibit at the New York Central Park Zoo in the early 20th century.  He was the offspring of a pair of bison donated to  the zoo by the Barnum Circus so he never actually roamed the plains. After an ignonimous end in 1915, (he was sold to a slaughterhouse), his head was saved and mounted. In 1985 it was displayed on the bourse floor of the American Numismatic Association  convention held in Baltimore. (Coin World, G. Tebben, Oct. 2013)

Q. What is a cancellation hammer?

A. It is a special hammer used to cancel paper monetary instruments, usually banknotes or checks. When private banks issued their own currency, they needed a way to easily and reliably cancel the worn currency and/or counterfeits that they encountered. The typical cancellation hammer was designed to cut a large “X” or, in some cases, holes or half-moon shaped pieces, into the note thus rendering the note unpassable. There are a number of cancelled obsolete notes showing a variety of these type of hammer cancellations. 

Historical Fact: According to legend, one Arizona cattle ranch earned the unsavory reputation of having the “thievinist, fightinest bunch of cowboys in the United States.” The Aztec Land and Cattle Company was organized in 1884 when is shareholders bought a million acres at 50 cents an acre in northern Arizona. With its headquarters at Holbrook, the ranch was 90 miles long and 40 miles wide. It was better known as the Hash Knife Outfit, since its brand resembled  the type of knife cowboy cooks used to cut vegetables - the hash knife. Although the ranch is long gone, the Navajo County Sheriff’s Hashknife Posse proudly carries the name and the brand  into the present day. (True West, Dec. 2012) 

Coin of the Month.

The Seated Liberty Twenty Cent piece was a short-lived coin series. Authorized by the Act of March 3rd, 1875 it was only produced from 1875 to 1878. Soon after their first appearance, people complained that they were too similar in size and design to the quarter dollar. The mint mark is positioned on the reverse below the eagle.  Only 1,315,140 total were minted at the Philadelphia, Cason City, and San Francisco Mints.  Specs: Weight-5 Grams. Composition: .900 Silver

Book Recommendation

While it may not be something many of us want to think about , this book deals with how our heirs might dispose of  our collecting efforts. The name of the book is “Cash In Your Coins: Selling The Rare Coins You’ve Inherited”. I’ll defer to the Amazon description of the book since they do it so much better than me! “Cash In Your Coins is for anyone who's inherited a collection (or hoard) of old coins. How rare are they? What are they worth? Should you sell? Where do you even begin? Your guide on this journey is Beth Deisher, an award-winning journalist and retired editor of Coin World, the hobby's premier news weekly. Drawing on more than 30 years of experience helping people understand and collect coins and paper currency, Deisher shows you how to identify what you own, how to create and inventory, how to pick out extra-valuable coins, how to value a large estate, "talking the talk" when you go to sell, the effect of the "fiscal cliff" and recent estate- and tax-related legislation, and other important and valuable lessons.” While this book is actually designed for the person that has inherited  a collection, it is also very helpful in organizing what you currently have. An excellent book for your collecting library and your heirs may appreciate your efforts later!


Q. What are the meanings of the latin phrases on the dollar bill?

A. There are 3 latin phrases on the dollar bill. The most recognized is the phrase “E Pluribus Unum" translated as “Out of Many, One.” The second phrase is “Annuit Coeptis” meaning “God  (or ‘He” or ‘Providence’) Has Favored Our Undertakings”. The third phrase, “Novos Ordo Seclorum” on the Great Seal means “New Order of the Ages” 

Q. Did the United States ever experiment with holed coins?

A. The U.S. struck patterns for perforated coins in 1849, 1850, 1851,1852, 1884, and 1885. The center holes were of 3 types, round, square, and denticulated. The denominations were 1 and 5 cents, a gold half-dollar, and a gold dollar. Of the 13 holed pattern types on record, six were for one cent pieces, two for five cent pieces, one for a gold half-dollar, and four for gold dollars. (Coins: Questions and Answers. C. Mishler)

Fact: On October 17th 1814, beer became deadly in London when a a huge 20 foot vat containing 135,000 imperial gallons ruptured at the Meux and Company Brewery and a domino effect caused others to do likewise. More than 320,000 imperial gallons -nearly 1.5 million liters- of beer surged into nearby streets and flooded neighborhood homes in the impoverished St. Giles section of central London, where whole families lived in basement rooms. Those rooms quickly filled with beer and two homes were destroyed. Eight people drowned in this “London Beer Flood” and one person died the next day of acute alcohol poisoning. The incident was blamed on metal fatigue in the 29 hoops wrapped around the vat, which caused them to snap, one by one, until the vessel burst, producing an explosive sound heard five miles away. Nonetheless, a judge and jury ruled the disaster an act of God and the brewery was permitted to resume operations. (Coinage, Coin Capsule, Al Doyle: Sept. 2013)

Coin of the Month


The “Flying Eagle” cent was provided for by the Act of February 21st 1857 as a replacement for the large half-cents and cents that were currently circulating. Produced as a pattern in 1856 they were so popular that production continued thru 1858 when they were replaced with the Indian Head cent. Since the 1856 production was a pattern only 1500 to 2000 of that date were produced making them a rare date. During the period of 1857 and 1858, over 42 million were produced. There are many varieties including overdates and and large and small letter types. Minted only at the Philadelphia Mint.  Specs: Weight-4.67  Grams. Composition: .880 Copper and .120 Nickel. Diameter: 19mm. Plain Edge. Designer- James B. Longacre.

Book Recommendation

This time I am recommending a book that I currently don’t even own in its new revision. The book is the Eighth Edition of the “Coin World Almanac” by The Editors of The Coin World Staff.  I currently have the Sixth edition and this book, while having the same title, is a total revamp of the old info and has also added condensed versions of all the coin and currency news of the last 10 years all in one ready reference. The book is over 700 pages long with ready references to all U.S. and world coinage plus background info on Mints, numismatic law, key monetary and mint personages, bullion info, and just about anything related to the coins, currency, people,and facilities of all the Mints of the world. My review does not even come close to describing the depth of information in this guide but if you are interested in coins this will entertain and educate you for a long time. (I am going to order this book shorty for myself and if anyone wishes to purchase a copy at the same time Ill be happy to add additional copies to my order-Jim)


Q. Have Morse Code symbols ever been used on a U.S. coin or currency?

A. Morse code was used on the WWII 50th Anniversary $5 Commemorative coin. The symbol dot-dot-dot-dash (meaning “V” for Victory) was used on the reverse. Also, Samuel Morse, (the inventor of the telegraph and Morse code ) is portrayed on the reverse of the 1892 $2 Silver Certificate. (The Numismatist, World Currency, T. Uram, May 2013)

Q. Why was the silver in the half dollar reduced but not eliminated in 1965?

A. The silver in the half dollar was reduced from 90 to 40 percent in 1965 as a result of a political compromise between Congress and President Lyndon B. Johnson. This compromise resulted in the Coinage Act of 1965. The 1965 to 1970 half dollars have an outer layer of .800 fine silver bonded to an inner core of .210 percent silver, resulting in a purity of 40% silver composition. (Coin Clinic, R. Giedroyc. Oct. 1 2013)

Fact: The famous song “The Battle of New Orleans”, written by Johnny Horton in 1959, is a lighthearted musical version of the final battle of the War of 1812. The actual battle should never taken place, however! The Treaty of Ghent that ended the War of 1812 was signed on Christmas Eve, 1814 but due to the poor communication systems at the time the Battle of New Orleans took place on Jan 8th 1815! On that date, Andrew Jackson’s U.S. forces routed the British despite being outnumbered 3 to 1 due to their deadly and accurate fire.(Coinage, Coin Capsule:1814, A. Doyle, Sept. 2013)

Coin of the Month

1938 dime obv

Commonly called the “Mercury Dime” the obverse design is a actually a depiction of Liberty. The wings crowning her cap are intended to symbolize liberty of thought. Produced from 1916 to 1943, they are a very popular collector choice. Rare dates in this series include the 1916-D (only 264,000 minted), the 1921 and 1921-D, plus there are 2 rare 1942 overdate varieties. Minted at the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints. Specs: Weight-2.50 Grams. Composition: .900 Silver and .100 Copper. Diameter: 17.9 mm. Reeded Edge. Designer- Adolph A. Weinman.

Book Recommendation

A few months ago the book recommendation was “100 Greatest U.S. Coins”. This month I am recommending it’s sister book the “100 Greatest American Currency Notes: The Stories Behind The Most Colonial, Confederate, Federal, Obsolete, and Private American Notes”. Written by David M. Sundman and Q. David Bowers, it is a collection of full-color photo’s and information about America’s best known, most collectible, and most sought-after issues of paper money. Lavishly illustrated, it also contains background information on the people that created the notes and the circumstances at the time of their creation. A must have for any currency collector or anyone interested in the history surrounding our currency!


Q. How much did a cowboy hat cost during the Wild West era?

A.  The original Stetson hat sold for $5. During the heyday of the cowboy, roughly the 1860’s to the 1890’s, a good beaver hat sold for $10-$15. How long these hats lasted depended on how much wear and tear they took-and how often they were out in the elements. The hats could last for several years if they were worn for dress only, but work hats had a shorter life. (True West Magazine, July 2012, Marshall Trimble)

Q. When did the U.S. switch from the Large Cent to the size of the current Small Cent?

A. The first small cent used in American commerce was the copper-nickel coin known as  the Flying Eagle Cent minted from 1856-1858. (Contributed by Dot Williams)

Fact: Large Cents really were Large Cents! A 2008 Lincoln Cent is 19 millimeters across and weighs about 3.11 grams vs. the 1794 Liberty Cap Large Cent which weighed a hefty 13.5 grams. This makes the Large Cent even heavier than the Kennedy Half Dollar which weighs in at 12.5 grams. (  Contributed by Mary Bodenhorn)

Coin of the Month.


One of the tougher type coins to locate and collect in original condition, the Capped Bust, (also called the Classic Head), design appeared on Half Cents beginning in 1809 and ran through 1836.  No Half Cents were issued between 1812 and 1824, mostly because demand for the denomination was low and the Mint had difficulty obtaining planchets.  In 1825, Half Cent coinage resumed, with breaks in 1827 and 1829.  Rare dates of this type include 1831 and 1836, both issued only as Proofs. Minted as noted above at the Philadelphia Mint. Specs: Weight-5.44 Grams. Composition: Copper. Diameter: 23.5 mm. Plain Edge. Designer-John Reich.

Book Recommendation

“Facts, Mysteries, and Myths about U.S. Coins” is this months book recommendation. It is a compendium of stories about U.S. coins and some of the myths behind the headlines. Written by Robert R. Van Ryzin it is a collection of stories from his years of research about coins and the people behind their making. It’s not intended to be a historical refereence but more of an entertaining read.I found a lot of the stories fascinating and for coin collectors it should be a fun, lighthearted read. A great deal of the book is about the people behind the minting of our coins and some of the liberties those people took in the minting of U.S. coinage.  There is large variety of interesting information in  this book. Perfect for a summer read!


Q. Was the U.S. the first country to issue a clad coinage of the “sandwich” variety?

A. Silver was successfully fused to copper sheets and was employed for “sandwich” coinage as early as the eighth century by the Greeks. (Coins: Answers and Questions , C. Mishler, 2008).

Q. Did the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP), produce the Military Payment      Certificates (MPC) of WWII?

A. The WWII MPC notes produced in the U.S. were printed under the auspices of the BEP at 2 factories. They were the Forbes Lithograph Manufacturing Boston and the Stecher-Traung Lithograph Co. in San Francisco. WWII MPC’s were also produced by the British and the Soviet Union with the Soviet Union using printing plates engraved by the U.S. 

Fact: U.S. coins and currency don’t have a monopoly on record prices. On May 1st 1912, 5 year Anne Judith Denman, was given the privilege of imprinting Australia’s first banknote. She was presented with the 10 Shilling note, Ser.# M000001and retained it till her passing in 1987. It first appeared for sale on the open market in 1999 when it was purchased by Australian dealer Barry Windsor for $1,000,000. In 2008 it was sold to John Pettit for $1.909 million. It is currently available for sale by private treaty by Belinda Downie of Coinworks with an anticipated sale price of $3.5 million!  (Bank Note Reporter, K. Rodgers, Aug. 2013)

Coin of the Month.

This month’s coin is the “Flowing Hair Silver Dollar”.  The silver dollar was authorized by Congress April 2, 1792. The Flowing Hair design appeared on the first United States Silver Dollars in 1794, but only lasted until sometime in 1795, when it was replaced with the Draped Bust design.  The 1794 Silver Dollar is a rare coin, represented by approx.150-200 survivors.  The 1795 Silver Dollar is more common, but the demand from type collectors keeps the prices high. Minted from 1794 to 1795 at the Philadelphia mint. Specs: Weight- 26.96 grams. Composition: .8924 Silver and .1076 Copper.  Diameter: 39-40 mm. Lettered Edge-HUNDRED CENTS ONE DOLLAR OR UNIT. Designer-Robert Scott.

Book Recommendation

A couple of years ago I recommended both the traditional “Red Book” and “Black Book” references. While indispensible as informational and retail pricing references, both books fail to provide dealer wholesale coin values. The “Blue Book”, published annually is the missing reference ro the prices a dealer will likely offer when presented with coins for sale.The following description is from’s website and provides an excellent description of the purpose and listings the “Blue Book” offers. “Since 1942, coin dealers have used the annual Handbook of United States Coins - THE OFFICIAL BLUE BOOK - to make buying offers. You can use it to find out how much your coins are worth! The Blue Book’s price listings offer a real-world look at the coin market, gathered from dealers around the country. Coverage includes colonial and early American coins, federal coins (half cents through gold double eagles), commemoratives, Proof and Mint sets, die varieties, private and territorial gold, tokens, the newest Presidential dollars, National Park quarters, bullion coins, and much more. More than 24,000 prices in multiple grades. Easy-to-follow coin-grading instructions. Coins and tokens from the 1600s to today. Historical information. Hundreds of detailed, actual-size photos. Collecting tips. An appendix on how to sell your coins. Detailed mintage records, and much more! Now 16 pages longer than the 2012 edition.” ( 


Q. What is a “pistareen”?

A. It was a debased 2 reales Spanish coin that circulated in Spain, the Americas, and the West Indies in the 1700‘s, equal to 1/5th of the Spanish dollar (8 reales). By 1827, it was down to 17 cents value in the U.S. (Coin Clinic, Numismatic News, 18 June,2013) 

Q. Is gold straight out of a gold mine pure ? 

A.  Gold comes out of the ground in different purities, depending on the location of the mine. Typically, natural or 'placer' gold ranges from 65% to 98% pure, with most around 85%. Gold can also be found mixed with silver, copper, or other metals in varying percentages. And gold is often extracted in minute quantities per ton of dirt or ore. There are gold mines in Nevada that profitably remove .05 ounces, or about $14 worth of pure gold from a ton of dirt.

Fact: The only person officially tried and executed for war crimes committed during the Civil War was Captain Henry Wirz. Wirz was the Commandant of the infamous Andersonville Confederate prison camp.  Of the 33,000 prisoners held there, over 12,000 died due to lack of medical attention, clothing, and proper nutrition.

Coin of the Month.                                                                                                    

This month’s coin is the “Gold Dollar, Liberty Head Type”. Authorized by the Act of March 3rd, 1849.  There are 2 varieties of wreaths on the reverse. Minted from 1849 to 1854 at the Philadelphia, Charlotte, Dahlonega, San Francisco, and New Orleans mints. Specs: Weight- .04837 oz. Composition: .900 Gold and .100 Copper.  Diameter: 13mm. Reeded Edge. Designer-James B. Longacre.

Book Recommendation

This month’s book recommendation is “100 Greatest Coins” by Jeff Garrett.  I am going to defer to Amazon’s description of this months' book since its written as well as anything i could write! “In the third edition of the best-selling and award-winning 100 Greatest U.S. Coins, numismatic author Jeff Garrett takes the reader on a personal guided tour of the nation's greatest coinage. "Each of the 100 Greatest was voted into place by leading coin dealers, researchers, and historians," says Whitman publisher Dennis Tucker. Inside the reader will find prized and seldom-seen rarities - the unique and high-valued pieces that collectors dream about, like the 1913 Liberty Head nickel and the 1804 dollar (the "King of American Coins"). The book also explores more readily available and widely popular coins: pieces so beautiful or with such strange and facinating stories that everybody wants one. By Jeff Garrett. Hardcover, 144 Full Color Pages” ( An excellent book and well recommended! 


Q. What were “Sanitary Fairs”?

A. The fairs were organized as fundraisers during the Civil War to provide money and supplies to improve the sanitary conditions faced by Union troops when they were in camps or hospitals. The first was held in Chicago in 1863. Before the war over nearly $14 million was raised and distributed by the U.S. Sanitary Commission. (Coin Clinic, Numismatic News, 9 April 2013) 

Q. What is the origin of the dollar sign ($) currently in use on our currency?

A. According to the Readers Digest, the dollar sign is thought to be derived from the    symbol of Philip V of Spain. The symbol is a ribbon winding between the two pillars of Hercules, Gibraltar and Ceuta.

Fact: “Gunsmoke” was one of the most popular and long running TV western series of all time. It featured James Arness as the Marshall Matt Dillon. It was a tough job on the show and he was frequently shot and injured in performing his storyline duties. According to noted western historian Marshall Trumble, Marshall Dillon, during the course of the show, was shot at least 56 times, knocked unconscious 29 times, stabbed 3 times, and poisoned once. Thats’s one tough lawman!

Coin of the Month.                                                                                                  

This month’s coin is the “Three Cent (Silver)”. This smallest of U.S. coins was authorized by Congress on March 3, 1851. There are 3 varieties of lines enclosing the star. Minted from 1851 to 1873. Minted at the Philadelphia and New Orleans mints. Specs: Weight- .80 Grams (1851-1853) and .75 Grams (1854-1873). Composition: .750 Silver and .250 Copper (1851-1853), and .900 Silver and .100 Copper (18534-1873). Diameter 14mm. Plain Edge. Designer-James B. Longacre.

Book Recommendation

This months' book recommendation is “The Founding of the United States 1763-1815” by Gerry and Janet Souter. This book is similarly designed to a couple of other books I’ve reviewed in that the content is arranged as short articles supported by seperate related background pictures and information. But it’s biggest draw are the recreations of period documents that are included in folder sections of the book. There are recreations of Thomas Jefferson’s first draft of the Declaration of Independence with marginal notes by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, George Washington’s Inaugural Address, and a copy of the handwritten Constitution among others. It certainly brings the period to life and makes for an interesting historical book vice the usual drab recitation of facts. Well recommended! 


Q. A number of western movies depict hangings where the hangman is a professional brought in to perform the execution. Did such a profession exist in the Old West?

A. There is very little to no evidence that such professional hangmen existed. The most famous hangman was George Meladon, who worked for “Hanging Judge” Isaac Parker of Fort Smith, Arkansas. Maledon started out as a deputy marshal and evolved into the position as Chief Executioner of the Federal Court presided over by Judge Parker. He got $100 a hanging and it’s said he executed 60 men. (Source: True West Magazine, M. Trimble, Oct. 2012)

Q. Is there more copper in a cent or a nickel?

A. The nickel, to the surprise of some, contains 75% copper or 57.87 grains. Cents minted prior to 1982 were composed of 97.5% copper but still only had 45.60 grains of copper each. The modern cent is copper clad zinc and is only 2.5% copper. So the nickel has more copper content than the cent.

Fact: When referring to the purity of gold, “karat” and “fineness” have different meanings.  “Karat” is a jeweler’s term, while “fineness” is a coiners term for quantifying the purity of the precious metal in an alloy. Fineness denotes the number of parts of gold, or the percent of gold, contained in an alloy. A gold item identified as     .750 fine contains 3 parts gold and one part of another metal, such as copper or other metals, and consequently contains 75% pure gold. A karat is defined as “a unit of fineness for gold equal to 1/24th part of pure gold to an alloy”. Thus, a gold item identified as 18-karat gold contains 75% pure gold, and consequently has a fineness of .750. 

Coin of the Month.     

This month’s coin is the “Two Cent Piece”. First U.S. coin with the motto “In God We Trust”. .  Minted from 1864 to 1873. Minted only at the Philadelphia Mint. Specs: Weight- 6.22 Grams, Composition: .950 Copper and .050 tin and zinc. Diameter 23mm. Plain Edge. Designer-James B. Longacre.

Book Recommendation

This months' book recommendation is “The Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of Morgan and Peace Dollars”, by Leroy C. Van Allen and A. George Mallis. This book details known die varieties and variations, both significant and obscure, for Morgan dollars and Peace dollars. There is a significant group of specialized collectors that collect Morgan and Peace dollars by these varieties and this book is the bible for identifying those varieties. These varieties are identified by number and are called “VAM” numbers from the last name initials of the authors. While extremely detail oriented, VAM collecting has become very popular and knowledge of at least the top 100 die varieties (there are over 2,000 known) is very useful when collecting Morgan and Peace dollars and this book is a valuable reference for collecting this series of coins.

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