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The Coin Geek

Albus Dumbledore Coin

When I came upon this coin I thought, “does numismatics have no boundries?”.

Albus

I have my doubts that JK Rowling had any idea that an albus was a unit of money before she came up with Albus Dumbledore. This coin is from Frankfurt, Germany (1656). The Albus was worth 2 Kruezers. They also had a 6 Albus coin which was worth 12 Kruezers.

So it turns out Albus was cash for Frankfurt before Albus was cash for Rowling.

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Sarcoxie Strawberry Tokens

One of the things I love about having collectors come in the store is that they tell stories and they relay history to me. It is a constant learning experience. One of our favorite customers, we will call him Kent, came in recently and asked me if I had ever seen a token with a strawberry on it. This fascinated me and I told him I had not. He told me his family was from Sarcoxie, MO and that he had seen them.

There was a bank in Sarcoxie, it even ended up getting chartered with the Federal Government in July of 1900 (charter number 5515). But currency was apparently not the only thing that was used.

Sarcoxie was known as the strawberry capital of the world. Apparently, if you lived there, you grew, picked, packaged, sold and shipped strawberries. Along side traditional currency the bank also printed aluminum tokens of varying sizes and varying values. These tokens had values of “ONE QUART”, “SIX QUARTS”, “ONE TRAY”, and “ONE CRATE”.  The other side of the token had images of strawberries.

SarcoxieBerriesSarcoxieReverse

I was delighted when I found a set of them for Kent. He was also delighted and brought in a picture of his family from the Sarcoxie farm (circa 1910). Sarcoxie is the oldest town in Jasper county Missouri and as of the 2010 census had just over 1200 people living there. Today it is known for fruit and flowers and is considered the Peonies capital of the world.

Many people have heard of cherry picking – but I suggest trying strawberry pickin’!

sarcoxiephoto

Sarcoxie, MO Strawberry Farm circa 1910

 

 

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2016 State Park Quarters in review

The five parks quarters for the year 2016 (or 2106 as I sometimes write) are :

  • Shawnee, Illinois
  • Cumberland Gap, Kentucky
  • Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
  • Theodore Roosevelt, N. Dakota
  • Fort Moultrie, S. Carolina

shawnee

The Shawnee Forest in southern Illinois looks like a very nice place to visit. It appears to have rock formations similar to the Chiricahua mountains.  As far as the coin goes, it is mediocre. It doesn’t really grab you or make you feel like you have to go there. I give it a rating of ”meh”.

CumberlandGAP

Cumberland Gap looks like a cool place to visit based on the NPS website. But I’m not sure the coin relates to the photos of the park. That being said, this coin clearly gets a nod because it has a flintlock rifle on it. This coin has a nice look to it and makes you feel like you are going back in time.

harpersferry

The Harpers Ferry quarter is one of the nicer coins that have come from this series. The modern etching and striking process for today’s coins has made a lot of designers go overboard with trees and leave and animals and details and trying for details. The problem is that they don’t really consider how it will look when it is done. But on this one the building comes to life. I feel like I’m at John Brown’s fort in 1848. This coin has a winning look and is my favorite for the year.

theodore

Theodore Roosevelt National park….let’s just get it over with…is any president since Lincoln more popular than Teddy Roosevelt? Everyone seems to love this guy. The coin itself is okay. It looks good in proof, but I’m not sure it will look very good in the uncirculated version. Extra points for having a horse. This coin get’s a rough riding thumbs up! (BTW- Teddy also has a national park in NY named after him!)

ftMoultrie

I apologize to South Carolina in advance for the Ft Moultrie quarter. My first impression is “what is that Russian guy waiving a flag for?” Fort Moultrie has both colonial and civil war histories that are fascinating. The design for this coin, however, leaves one guessing. It almost gets some extra points for having a ship on it, but the ship is very small and hardly noticeable in the clouds/smoke. Clearly this coin loses the design contest for the year.

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Mercury Gold Coin

mercurygold

For the Mercury Dime’s 100th anniversary the US Mint produced a 1/10 gold version. It sold out in 45 minutes. We have access to a limited number of these. Please call or stop by for current pricing and availability. 520-881-7200.

 

The mint will also produce a 100th anniversary gold version of the Standing Liberty quarter and the Walking Liberty half dollar. We believe these will remain popular with collectors, as the 2001 $1 silver buffalo has stayed popular.

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Greysheet – NGC – Mercanti – Standish – Conflict?

Many of you know that in the last year the Coin Dealer Newsletter (the greysheet) was bought by a conglomeration that included players at NGC, PCGS and Heritage Auctions. It doesn’t take much looking to see the possibilities for the tail wagging the dog.

I think we are starting to see some of that influence already. The March 2016 monthly supplement issue of the greysheet has a guest commentator named Miles Standish. He writes a glowing article about ”Why Mercanti Matters”. The point of the article is to convince the reader that the former US Chief Mint Engraver is a significant historical figure.

Now- skip along the internet path with me to the NGC website. Low and behold – “John Mercanti signs deal with NGC”. On another page , “Miles Standish joins NGC. What can Miles do for you (dealers)?”.

So NGC has become very active in creating a coin market. They do this by getting autographs on labels and then “dealers” sell them on late night TV shows. Then the greysheet promotes this all by having Miles Standish write a guest commentary on John Mercanti.

The CDN was there to supply accurate information about the market place. It was not designed to manipulate or create the market.

NGC and PCGS are suppose to be independent and give opinions on the condition and authenticity of a coin. They are not suppose to create markets. These companies were seen by some as a solution to the problem of how to evaluate rare coins and make trades fair between collectors and dealers. Today, it looks to me, like they are starting to create their own market place instead of providing independent grading.

I do not think either of these developments are good for the coin market. NGC and PCGS have graded most everything of value so they have turned to marketing tricks to keep going. The CDN appears to be in to process of creating marketplaces instead of reporting on the market place. We will see where this all leads, but in my opinion, it is not good for the hobby.

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The Super Bowl and Coins

Question: What do the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers have in common?

Answer: Both have or had a United States Mint in their respected city.

Denver- The Denver mint was first established in 1906 and quickly became one of the main sources for coins in the United states. At that time the only other mints were in San Francisco, New Orleans and Philadelphia. Today only the Denver mint and Philadelphia mint produce coins for circulation. The mint in San Francisco still issues collector coins and sets and there is now a mint in West Point (NY) that produces silver and gold coins. Unknown-1

Charlotte- The Charlotte mint only struck gold coins. It was in use from 1838 until 1861. It is not a coincidence that the mint went out of business at the start of the Civil War. There was also a mint in Dahlonega, GA that stopped production in 1861. All Charlotte mint coins are considered rare and desirable. The mint was sold and moved to a different location where it stands now as a museum.Unknown

Who wins the super bowl? If you are going for volume and longevity you have Denver. The old man Peyton Manning has produced and produced, just like the Denver mint. The flashy team would be Carolina. Nothing but gold baby!   – I’m not sure a numismatist is qualified to make this selection, but I’ll take Charlotte gold any day!

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PEACE you can TRVST

peace

The year was 1921 and the US had just started producing Silver Dollars again after a 17 year absence. At first the US started producing the Morgan dollar, which had been made from 1878-1904. They were working on a new design for a new era. World War I was still fresh on the minds of the masses and people were hoping for a change.

In the fall of 1921 the new dollar came out. It had a depiction of Lady Liberty on it with a crown of rays going out from her head band. A strong ‘LIBERTY’ rises above her. The back of the coin has an Eagle perched on a rock. On this rock is the word “PEACE”. The nickname for this dollar is the ”Peace Dollar” because of that word. The word “PEACE” is very faint. Perhaps this is a reference to the fragility of peace…or just because that is how the design is…either way the name has stuck.

peace2

We often get calls about one more detail on this coin, and that is the word “trust”. It is spelled out in all caps: “TRVST”. The “U” was stylized to look like a “V” and that “V” stood for Victory. The peace dollar was born out of WWI and both sides of the coin symbolize that….with the “V” for victory and the “PEACE” for their time.

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Happy 2016

Welcome to the New Year. Have you heard the expression “New Year, New You?”. Is that true for coin collectors as well?

For collectors of brand new mint products the New Year always brings something new to collect. New commemoratives will come out that depict events from 50, 100, 150 or more years ago.  Some examples from the US Mint for 2016 include the National Park Services commemorative and the Mark Twain Commemorative coins. There will also be gold coins commemorating the coins of 1916 – The Mercury Dime, Standing Liberty Quarter and the Walking Liberty Half Dollar. These coins should be spectacular and very popular.

So we know that modern coins bring new things to the collector, but what about folks who don’t collect modern mint pieces? Do you, or I, change our collecting ways in the new year? Should we? First of all, if you’ve never made a road map or outline for your collection, then you may want to consider trying it. A quick set of goals will make collecting more enjoyable. Consider these questions:

-What series of coins will you collect?

-What grades will you accept?

-What price ranges?

-What will you NOT buy?

-Will you buy only slabbed or only raw or either?

Thinking about these things will help you find the coins you like and know when to make a purchase and when to pass on a coin. I recently had a customer make the change to only buy certified coins. And only within a certain grade set. And only within a certain time period. And only within a certain size (or denomination). Now when he is at a show or a shop and he finds something that does not meet all his criteria then he will pass on it without any regrets.  But if it meets all his criteria then he feels comfortable with his purchase.

Another customer has decided to go in an entirely new area of collecting. He previously didn’t do any foreign coins but now has fallen in love with ancients. This is his knew target. He is starting to learn and buy a little bit here and there and is enjoying the process. If you’ve been considering a different series, now may be the time to start. It can really rekindle your passion.

So what about you? New Year, new you?

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Commemorative Bullion – Silver Edition

The US Mint makes commemorative coins annually. These coins are often well advertised and active collectors would recognize most of them if they saw them at a coin shop. But there are entire series of commemorative coins that most collectors will never see unless they actively seek them out.

Silver

America The Beautiful

In 2010 the US Mint started the America The Beautiful (ATB) quarter series. Each state and the territories will have a state park put on a circulating commemorative quarter. You may have seen these in your pocket change. What you are not likely to see is the 5 ounce silver version that the mint is creating concurrent with the quarters. The 5 ounce versions are still a quarter face value.

Fort McHenry Bullion version of the 5 ounce silver quarter.

Fort McHenry Bullion version of the 5 ounce silver quarter.

These large silver  coins have very low mintages and come in both a ”bullion” and ”numismatic” version. The bullion version does not have a mint mark. They come in tubes of 10 and most of them have mintages below 35,000 pieces. The bullion version has a bright satin finish to them.

The numismatic version has a mint mark, they come in a custom box, and have a ”burnished” finish to them. Most of these coins have mintages below 25,000.

The price for these coins vary greatly depending on the source. You can pick many of the bullion pieces up for a slight premium. Currently silver is around $16 ounce and you can find many issues for $20 and ounce ($100 each). On the other extreme the most popular coin is the Hawaii with mint mark. This coin trades up to $600.

Silver Eagles

Silver Eagles are the most well known and highly collected of all US Bullion issues.  So much so that some of the bullion issues are trading at double the price of silver (1986, 1996). In 2001 the mint started to produce ”Burnished” uncirculated coins. These came in special boxes and have the “W” mint mark. The burnished UNC coins mostly trade in the $40-$80.

There is one error in the Silver Eagle series. It is a 2008 dated coin with a reverse of 2007. This type of error is commonly referred to as a ”mule”. The difference is subtle. In 2008 a serif was added to the coins. The error version is san-serif. It trades for $450+.

The mint also creates the Proof version of the silver eagle. Many of these trade in the $40-$75 range. In 2006 the mint produced it’s first ever Reverse Proof coin. With a mintage below 250,000 pieces it trades in the $200 range.

In 2011 the mint produced a 25 year set with 5 different coins. It includes an “S” mint UNC and a reverse proof. These two specific coins have mintages below 100,000 and also trade in excess of $200. In 2013 the mint came out with the first ever ”enhanced proof”. These coins trade in the $75 range and are a good value relative to the 281,310 mintage.

It will be interesting to see what new twist the mint will put on the Silver Eagle series moving forward. One thing is sure, it will continue to be a popular series to collect.

 

 

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Silver Not For Sale

notforsale

Silver Not For Sale!

 

The current silver market is frustrating. Wholesalers are backed up for weeks. Retailers can’t get it to sell. Buyers can’t find it to buy. Some buyers consider it a conspiracy that when the metals drop they can’t buy any. The reality is that demand has outpaced supply. This has happened several times over the last couple of years as the price has come down. There is a quick drop in the price and the buyers react with a quick spike in orders.

This happened in August. The demand increased to the point that the US Mint stopped accepting orders for Silver Eagles. They wanted to make sure they could fill all the orders that they take and meet demand.  The companies that make silver rounds are now in a similar situation. Instead of halting orders they simply push back delivery times. Delivery times that were once less than a week are not several weeks, in some cases over two months.

Some believe this could become the new normal. If history holds true then we will see the supply loosen up in a few weeks time. Until then you can expect to see showcases that are empty or nearly empty.

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