Old Pueblo Coin – Tucson, AZ

The Coin Geek


Punchboards are gambling devices of a bygone era. They were found everywhere from taverns, bars, and gas stations, to church social halls and the local Elks lodge. They were designed to raise money for the proprietor at the expense of the participant, with the promise of prizes and winnings if you play (somethings will never change).

Pony Express

The Pony Express cost 5 cents per play, but you could win the Jackpot

Most states started outlawing punchboards in the 1950s. Government looked at it as an unfair form of gambling (just let that last sentence seep in for a while). Of course, today the states make sure that they are the ones who get the gambling revenue and we are left with this slice of gambling history known as punchboards. In fairness to the states, the companies that produced the boards started providing a map or a key to the winning punches, calling it a “protection slip”. The vendor could then reduce their risk (that is, increase their profit) by removing the grand prize. They also could have a shill win a prize to get others around them excited.

Turf Kings

This derby themed punchboard cost 25 cents per play

Punchboards consisted of a foil playing field full of small circles, and the player would purchase ”punches” for the price listed. They would push the key through the foil, releasing a roll of paper out the back. If the number or item on the paper matched a winning number from the board then they would win the matching prize. The game was somewhat similar to some modern lotto tickets (but you’re paying per “scratch”), and very similar to the Punch-a-Bunch game found on The Price is Right (but the game show variety is so big that you literally punch the holes with your fist).

Punchboards from the 1950s and 60s were mostly tame, or bland. Some of the earlier ones were rather risqué. They often featured pin up artwork from GC Orde, George Petty, Gil Elvgren, Earl Moran and Alberto Vargas. Sports were often also a popular theme with some die-cut boards actually shaped like a baseball or a football. Occasionally a specialty board will be found for a specific team or franchise.

Checkers Punchboard

Circumvent this swinging model to reach some of the checker board

The value of punchboards is in large part a matter of beauty being in the eye of the beholder. Of course condition plays a major factor, but desirability is also attributed to shape, topic, and eye appeal. Boards that are plain tend to be less valuable. Having a board that is a cut out of a specific shape rather than a simple rectangle will usually add value. Some boards had slots for actual prizes, such as coins or knives or lighters. Usually, the more extravagant the better.

Cigarettes 2 cents

Note the unique cutout shape of this risque punchboard

Old Pueblo Coin still has a few punchboards displayed on the wall. Come swing by the shop if you want to take a look.

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Spanish Pillar Dollar

Our Coin of the Week is a Spanish milled dollar (also known as a piece of eight, or eight royal coins, or other names), valued at 8 reales (“royals”).

The Spanish silver dollar was used around the world, including colonial America, and was the coin upon which the US dollar was based. It remained legal tender until the Coin Act of 1857.

The Pillar Dollar variety, featuring pillars on the obverse, was made from 1732 – 1772. For this particular coin, the “Mo” on the obverse is a mint mark indicating Mexico City, while the “FM” on the reverse are assayer’s initials.

This example from 1771 is graded XF45 by NGC.

1771 Mo FM Mexico 8 Reales - NGC XF45 - Obverse      1771 Mo FM Mexico 8 Reales - NGC XF45 - Reverse

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Dionysys Silver Tetradrachm

Our Coin of the Week is this Silver Tetradrachm from the Greek Isle of Thasos struck over 2100 years ago, sometime between the 2nd and 1st century B.C.

The obverse features the face of Dionysus, while the reverse features a naked Heracles holding a club and lion’s skin.

This specimen has been graded Choice Extra Fine by NGC Ancients with a 5/5 strike and 3/5 surface. 

Silver Tetradrachm reverse - Dionysus      Silver Tetradrachm obverse - Heracles
Silver Tetradrachm - NGC Ancients slab                Silver Tetradrachm - NGC Ancients slab reverse

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1798 Draped Bust Dollar and 1893-S Morgan Dollar

Our Coins of the Week fall on more of the “scarce” side.

Our first coin is a 1798 Draped Bust Silver Dollar. 1798 is the year that the reverse design changed from the Small Eagle variety to the Large Eagle (or Heraldic Eagle) variety. This particular coin is of the Large Eagle variety and graded VF Details by NGC. While this year is one of the more common dates for a Draped Bust Dollar, the 1798 mintage is still just 287,536.

1798 Large Eagle Silver Dollar - NGC VF Details - obverse  1798 Large Eagle Silver Dollar - NGC VF Details - reverse

Our second coin is a 1893-S Morgan Dollar. At a mintage of about 100,000, the 1893-S is one of the key dates for any Morgan Dollar collector. This coin was graded Fine Details by NGC.

1893-S Morgan Silver Dollar - NGC Fine Details - Obverse  1893-S Morgan Silver Dollar - NGC Fine Details - Reverse

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First US Palladium Coin

Coin of the Week – Palladium Eagle

On September 25th, 2017 the US Mint released the first ever US Palladium coin. It is called a Palladium Eagle, and has the Mercury dime head design, and an Adolph Weinman eagle design on the reverse. The coin has a denomination of $25. It has a strong high relief design to it.

Originally it could only be bought from distributors contracted with the US Mint, and sold for about $1100. At the time of this writing, they are now trading anywhere from $1500 up to several thousand dollars depending on the label and holder type. The Mint only produced 15,000 pieces. Next year the US Mint will produce a proof version of the coin that they intend to sell direct to the collector.

Overall this coin is a winner on eye appeal. It’s hard to say what the collector value will be long term. But if you buy what you like, and it fits in your budget, you’ll want to own one of these!

Palladium Eagle - PCGS MS69
Palladium Eagle - PCGS MS69 - obverse  Palladium Eagle - PCGS MS69 - reverse

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Star Wars Coins – Darth Vader and Stormtrooper

For this week’s Coin of the Week segment we’ll take a look at a couple of  modern coins (or are they from a long, long time ago?).

Yes, that means Star Wars.

2017 Star Wars Darth Vader Niue Two Dollars - Reverse    2017 Star Wars Darth Vader Niue Two Dollars - Obverse

2018 Star Wars Stormtrooper Niue Two Dollars - Reverse    2018 Star Wars Stormtrooper Niue Two Dollars - Obverse

The 2017 coin features Darth Vader on the reverse, while the 2018 coin features a Stormtrooper (the recent release of the Stormtrooper coin coincides quite well with the upcoming Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, which is perhaps another reason we’re excited about these coins). Apart from the date, the obverses are the same — “ELIZABETH II   NIUE   TWO DOLLARS” circling an image of the Queen (Elizabeth II, not Amidala).

Why Niue? Well, these coins are considered legal tender in the country of Niue (a South Pacific Ocean island Northeast of New Zealand). However, it is highly unlikely they would ever be used for purchases, just as an American Silver Eagle Dollar would almost never be found circulating in the wild. At one troy ounce of .999 silver, the precious medal value is much higher than the legal tender value.

These two coins are the start of a “Niue” new series by the New Zealand Mint. Besides Star Wars, they mint series of silver and gold coins featuring Disney characters, Doctor Who, endangered species, local wildlife, creatures of Greek mythology, and other topics.

NZM is just one of several mints that produce collectible coins featuring historical, wildlife, pop culture, or other subjects, which is perfect for when someone’s coin interest matching up with one of their other interests. Take a look here at some examples of 2017 dated silver coins and 2018 dated silver coins.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about these or other coins.


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Coins of the Week November 22, 2017

Our Coins of the Week showcase a couple commemorative coins, from one of the earlier U.S. commemorative coins to a more modern example.

Our first coin of the week is a 1900 Lafayette Silver Dollar. This coin owns a couple of “firsts”, as it was the first U.S. commemorative of a one-dollar denomination and also the first authorized U.S. coin to have a portrait of a U.S. president. Interestingly, the date on the coin is not actually when the coins were minted–they were minted in 1899–but rather the intended date of the erection of the General Lafayette monument in Paris. The statue on the reverse is very similar to that monument, which was a gift from the American people to France to honor General Lafayette. This specimen is graded MS62 by PCGS.

1900 Lafayette Silver Dollar PCGS MS62     1900 Lafayette Silver Dollar PCGS MS62 - Reverse

Our other coin of the week is a 2011-W U.S. Army $5 Gold Coin. The obverse features soldiers from different eras, with the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the modern era represented. The reverse features the U.S. Army emblem. This particular coin is graded PF70 Ultra Cameo by NGC.

2011-W U.S. Army $5 Gold PCGS PF 70 Ultra Cameo     2011-W U.S. Army $5 Gold PCGS PF 70 Ultra Cameo - Reverse

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Coin of the Week November 15, 2017

In order to make up for lost time, we’re going to “cheat” a little bit and showcase two(!) coins for the Coin of the Week.

Before we look at our first coin, let’s give some background information. Indian Head Cents come in 3 types:

  • Type 1 (1859) was only minted in the year 1959, with the reverse featuring the words “ONE CENT” encircled by a wreath tied at the bottom by a ribbon.
  • Type 2 (1860-1864) keeps the same obverse, but the reverse has some noticeable differences: the wreath and lettering are fuller, a small shield occupies the top center, and the ribbon now also holds three arrows.
  • Type 3 (1864-1909) keeps the same design as Type  2, but the composition switches from Copper-Nickel to Bronze. Both the thickness and weight of the coin are reduced.

This particular Indian Head Cent is minted in the year 1863, meaning it is Type 2. It has been graded MS62 by PCGS.


1863 Indian Cent PCGS MS62     1863 Indian Cent PCGS MS62 - Reverse

Liberty Nickels have two types:

  • Type 1 (no “CENTS” , 1883) Liberty Nickels had a large “V” on the reverse, but did not contain the word “CENTS” anywhere. This prompted some individuals to hand carve reeding to the edges and gold-plate the coins in an attempt to pass them off as $5 Gold Half Eagles (these nickels are known as “Racketeer” Nickels).
  • Type 2 (with “CENTS”, 1883-1913) Liberty Nickels were minted with the word “CENTS” to counter such individuals. “E PLURBUS UNUM” was moved to above the “V” to make room for “CENTS”.

This particular Liberty Nickel was minted in 1907, and is clearly not a $5 Gold Half Eagle. It has been graded MS64 by PCGS.

1907 Liberty Nickel PCGS MS64     1907 Liberty Nickel PCGS MS64 - Reverse

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1936 Gettysburg 50 cent Commemorative

The coin of the week is a 1936 Gettysburg commemorative half. This coin features a Union and Confederate soldier on the obverse with the words “BLUE AND GRAY REUNION”. The reverse features two shields separated by double bladed fasces . The shields represent the Union and the Confederacy.

This coin is graded MS66 by NGC. It has blazing luster and hints of yellow to light steel blue toning. At time of posting this coin was offered at $1,000.

Gettysburg Half Dollar 1936   1936 Gettysburg 50 cent commemorative


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Coin of the Week June 6, 2017

The US Mint recently released a new ”High Relief” $100 gold coin. This coin is one ounce of .999 gold and is produced at the West Point mint. It celebrates the 225th anniversary of the United States Mint.  This coin is the first US coin to depict an African American woman on it. The reverse has a brilliant Eagle in flight. It is struck in proof condition.


The mint has limited production to 100,000 pieces. The mint is currently selling this coin for $1690. Our price is $1600. Only one available.

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