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The John Adams Bolen Medals & Stuck Copies

John Adams Bolen was a die sinker, a jewelry repair man, a sewing machine salesman, a subscription book salesman an engraver and a shop owner, among other things. He is best known to modern numismatists, however, for his prolific, eighteenth century production of medals and store cards. Bolen began his career in the 1840s in the New York-New Jersey area making jewelry and cutting likenesses for James Rumrill of Peckham and Rumrill. He later followed Rumrill to Springfield, MA in the early 1850s and remained there for the rest of his life.

Sometime between late 1860 and early 1861, Bolen was approached about producing a medal for the Pioneer Baseball Club of Springfield, MA. This would be Bolen’s first medal and would later be known as JAB-1. Following the Civil War, Bolen returned to making medals as well as a small number of struck copies of rare US (colonial) issues. From late 1865 through 1869 he would cut 36-dies and issue 23-medals, which began to appear in auctions and were noticed throughout the numismatic community. Following 1869, the issuance of medals stopped until the Masonic Temple Dedication medal of 1874, with only sporadic medals produced thereafter and generally tied to the subject of local Masonic events.

Vexing to Bolen and later numismatists were his 1862-1869 production of struck copies for rare US-related issues including the Bar Cent and Higley Copper pieces, among others, at least some of which had small changes incorporated into the designs perhaps as a signature or copy mark. Bolen was well known in numismatic circles and was a member of numismatic societies and he offered his struck copies as copies instead of as legitimate historical issues. Both Lyman Low and Henry Chapman were outspoken critics of struck copies, electrotypes and other forms of duplication and they referred to Bolen’s work with struck copies as counterfeits. Historically, this label appears to have stuck with Bolen to a degree and it may be debated as to how accurate it truly is.

Collecting Bolen’s works has been an active niche in numismatics at least since the 1860s and at some point after the production of the first medals it was realized by both Bolen and others that a catalogue of issues could be quite useful to the industry. During his lifetime there were five different lists of medallic work produced with the first of these appearing in 1866 and the fourth in 1882. It would not be until 1905 that the fifth work, which is also the only work that was published under Bolen’s name, would be produced. Importantly, none of the five lists is complete or accurate. It appears that real-time records of medal production were not kept by Bolen and that subsequent issues of lists relied upon Bolen notes or his recollections. Bolen also kept his own reference collection, but again it appears as though this reference collection was started well after medal production was started as it was incomplete. The pieces in this reference collection had a small B struck on the side of the medal along with a notation of the metal and a mintage number, which may very well have been a best-guess number. This reference collection was sold to the ANS in 1948.

A frustrating aspect of Bolen regarding his work is that he sold many of the dies he prepared to strike his medals. A total of 34-dies were sold and many of these were later used by their new owners to strike mules. Not all these dies have been accounted for. To complicate matters further, Bolen himself produced 15-mules. This makes collecting and organizing Bolen’s medals a difficult task, but also allows terrific flexibility into what might or might not be included in any individual collection. The dies were sold in three groups to George B. Mason, John W. Kline and A. Ramsey McCoy. Mason later sold or traded his purchased dies to Dr. Frank Smith Edwards and both parties made various mule combinations and these are known as the Mason/Edwards (M/E) mules. The group of dies sold to Kline that were used to produce mules have been catalogued as the Kline mules (K). Those dies sold to McCoy had their mules marketed by W. Elliot Woodward and are the (W) mules.

The numbering system for Bolen’s medals and struck copies largely follows the listing of medals in Bolen’s 1905 work and lists as, for example, JAB-12. Mules produced by Bolen incorporate an M and would be listed as JAB-M-12. Those mules produced by other parties would contain their designation (M/E, K or W) as well. The definitive reference work on Bolen’s career is The Medallic Work of John Adams Bolen and was written by Neil E. Musante and published in 2002. It is from this definitive work that the great majority of the information in this article was extracted. TB

1836/1336 CAPPED BUST HALF DOLLAR PCGS PR64 CAMEO

Numismatic Americana is proud to announce the acquisition of the unique 1836 Capped Bust Half Dollar, overdate variety. Hailing from the celebrated Eliasberg collection, lot 1903, that was sold in April, 1997 through Auctions by Bowers and Merena, Inc. Mr. Eliasberg holds a special place in numismatics as the only person to have assembled a complete set of United States coinage known during their lifetime; a feat not likely to be accomplished anytime soon as many of the unique, or near unique, specimens have found new homes in strong collections or institutions.

This near GEM has outstanding eye-appeal that showcases the razor sharp strike, superb cameo contrast, and just a hint of toning on both the obverse and reverse alike. Deeply mirrored fields, combined with the aforementioned strike, dispel any doubt of this coin’s proof status; this isn’t one of those ambiguous proofs that sometimes plague the market. If fact if this coin were a Seated Liberty or Barber half dollar no one would question the proof method of manufacture. It is that strong of a coin.

The fact that this coin is unique, as in this is the only piece of this variety seen or graded (in any grade) by either of the major grading services in over twenty-five years, only adds to its mystique. Struck during the inaugural year of the steam coinage press, one must question why this piece was made. Was it produced for presentation to a dignitary before the “Reeded Edge” half dollars were available? Was it part of a set struck in 1836 that included both types, lettered and reeded edge, of these? We will probably never know the reason for its existence, but there is always the possibility of further information coming to light explaining its being.

As I mentioned this piece is unique today. Breen states that there are “several known”, but not seen, and non of the supposedly existing others have been graded by either PCGS or NGC. Where are they? By comparison there are 15 specimens of the “Reeded Edge” showing up on the PCGS and NGC population reports, although surely some of these are duplicates from resubmission. Even with these figures it is safe to say that this is at least 10 times rarer than the “Reeded Edge” variety, a coin that routinely sells for $35,000 to $80,000.

This is a unique opportunity for a unique coin. No collection of Capped Bust Half Dollars in Proof can be complete without this piece. A truly “Historically Important Numismatic Property” worthy of any coin cabinet. Perhaps yours…

Click here for more information

Operation Bernhard; A piece of History

Recently I watch the movie “Schindler’s List”. For those of you who haven’t ever seen it, it is an incredibly moving film showing both the darkest hour of mankind as well what can be accomplished when one man attempts to bring a ray of hope to light during that time. At the end of the movie they had a little trailer showing some of the survivors depicted in this epic film, and I was reminded of a fact I had heard some time ago where it stated that an astronomical number of survivors and veterans of World War II were dying every day. I think it is important that we, as a society, try and record as much history as possible from those that were there before there are no more to tell the story. I strongly recommend everybody see this film.

As a “coin” guy I have always said that we can tell the history of a country by its money. From those that circulated throughout the land, to the many commemoratives that were struck celebrating great events. But there are also those items that can tell a chilling tale of us as a whole. It has been said that money is the root of all evil and sometimes an event happens that seems to reinforce this belief. Enter “Operation Bernhard”. Among the many little known facts of the war was the plot by the Third Reich to counterfeit British pound notes as well as the United States dollar. And like “Schindler’s List” this event was surrounded by atrocities towards man committed during the Second World War, as this task was accomplished by Jewish prisoners at a Nazi concentration camp under the constant threat of death. Lawrence Malkin wrote the book, “Krueger’s Men”, that tells the story in its entirety, and like many great books it was made into an Academy Award winning film, “The Counterfeiters”, again, a very moving film, which, like “Schindler’s List”, should be watched by all. Both of these cinema masterpieces are very accurate historically but I must warn you that there are many disturbing scenes in both of them. For those of you interested in reading the book, or seeing the movie, I acquired copies of both from Barnes and Nobles but I am sure that there are many other places on line to buy them as well.

Over the years I have had the opportunity to purchase examples of notes produced during “Operation Bernhard”. I found myself mesmerized by the story they tell, and bought virtually every one I found. But after seeing “Schindler’s List” again, I think it is important to share these, along with their story, with others. Therefore I have decided to sell 7 pieces that I have. Keep in mind that these were made to deceive, and thus there are many “manufactured” flaws as well as wear on each of them, done to simulate circulation. I am selling them exactly as I bought them. They have been graded by two different services, one nationally known the other not so much. But it isn’t the grade that matters on these. They are artifacts of an event conducted under the worst conditions imaginable known to man. It is their story. The story of how they were used in North Africa by Nazi spies. The story of how they disrupted the British economy so much that the Treasury had to “retire” all current, and genuine, notes in circulation. But most importantly the story of the men who made them and the horrors they endured, day after day. Yes…the story needs to be told again and again so that it is never forgotten.

Many might think that it is hideous that I am selling these and that they are “Blood Money”. I understand and respect each and every one of those opinions. I don’t mean to disrespect anyone, nor discount the hell that the inmates went through to make these. But I think they have a story to tell; a story that should never be forgotten lest we are destined to repeat it. Therefore I will donate the entire proceeds from the sale of these notes to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.

PCGS, So-Called Dollars, and an emerging market

Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with Don Willis, President of PCGS, at one of the major shows. I’ve known Don for many years and have always respected him for his professionalism and knowledge of the coin industry, so it was no surprise to me when he took his current position at PCGS. During the course of our chat we discussed many things; from how the market is in my segment of the hobby, to my clients views on PCGS, and everything in between. One of the topics that came up was potential areas of growth for PCGS and how they might be obtained.

I mentioned that many of our customers who purchased federal coinage also bought medals and tokens to complement their collections. Two areas that came to the forefront were U.S. Mint medals and So-Called Dollars. I can now say that the outcome of these talks is that PCGS now grades and encapsulates both of the areas of numismatics. As this article is about So-Called Dollars I won’t talk about PCGS’ grading of U.S. Mint medals, but rest assured that I will write about them in the future.

So just what exactly is a So-Called Dollar? Well we get that term from two gentlemen who coined it in the 1960’s (pun intended). One of the hottest areas of collecting in the 1960’s was medals whose size was comparable with that of a U.S. silver (or gold) dollar. This was a fun and inexpensive alternative to collecting regular American coins. The big problem was that there was not a reference book, or any books, available to help the average collector with this endeavor. Enter Harold E. Hibler and Charles V. Kappen. In 1963 The Coin and Currency Institute, Inc. published their book So-Called Dollars, an Illustrated Standard Catalog. It was an instant hit.

The authors looked at thousands of medals to include in their book, eventually settling on less than one thousand. How they did this is beyond me. I have seen literally thousands and thousands of medals that met their criteria but did not make it into the book. A daunting task to say the least.

Hibler and Kappen decided to divide their book into three separate areas of medals that met the guidelines they set forth. They were:

Part l Commemorative and Expositions Medals of National Significance

Part ll Commemorative and Exposition Medals of Local Significance

Part lll Monetary and Miscellaneous Medals

I could spend hours and hours telling you just exactly what deserves to go into each of those categories, but I will let the titles do the talking. Personally I like the medals of part l and lll. National events and monetary policy appeal the most to me as a numismatist. That is not to say that the medals of part ll aren’t important, because some of them are, it’s just that some of them are so obscure that I don’t think they were that popular when they were issued. So-Called Dollars were minted by a variety of manufactures, one of which was the U.S. Mint. I find that these, usually found in Part I of the book, are generally well made, sometimes designed by artist who also did coins, and are the most popular of the series.

As with most things in life popularity sometimes comes and goes, this happened with the So-Called market. For most of the 1970-1990’s there wasn’t much demand for them, in fact collectors of them had all but fallen off of the face of the earth. But then slowly their appeal started to re-emerge. Demand picked up and during the first decade of this century there was actually a “bull” market for them. The problem was that there weren’t any copies of Hibler and Kappen’s original book available for this new generation of collectors. As more and more people became interested in these pieces it became evident that a new “revised” edition would help ease this problem. We have Tom Hoffman, Dave Hayes, Jonathan Brecher, and John Dean to thank for this. In 2008 they released a second edition, somewhat revised, and it became a best seller. I should also note that there were other major players in this field at that time, most importantly Jeff Shevlin, the newly appointed Executive Director for the American Numismatic Association. New life had been born into the long forgotten field of So-Called Dollars.

There are two other reference books that deserve to be mentioned here. They are National Commemorative Medals of the United States of America since 1873 by William Swoger and National Commemorative Medals of the United States Mint, An Illustrated Catalog, by John T. Dean. Both of these books are great in their own right, but for the sake of consistency and continuity PCGS has decided to attribute these medals by their So-Called Dollar numbers.

The medals of Part ll, to be blunt, aren’t nearly as popular as those of Parts l and lll. In my opinion they have very limited appeal to most collectors. The phrase I like to use is “nobody cares about the Shamhart Family reunion medal of 1936 except for; you guessed it, the Shamharts”. I’m not picking on those listed in Part ll, in fact they have many (okay a few) loyal followers of their own. The biggest thing these pieces have going for them is that you need them to have a complete collection of So-Called Dollars.

The medals of Part lll are really cool. Some of the neatest ones included are the Bryan issues, Lesher Referendum Dollars, and the Pedley-Ryan Dollars of 1933. In fact many of the medals listed in this section have other, stand alone, reference books of their own. If you’re a student of American monetary policy and the way it has affected our country, then these So-Called Dollars are for you. Way cool in my opinion.

After my talk with Don Willis, PCGS decided to begin grading So-Called Dollars. Mind you this ISN’T because of me. So-Called Dollars had been on PCGS’ radar screen for some time, but I like to think that my talk with Don didn’t hurt.

So now you know what a So-Called Dollar is. You know who wrote the original reference book on them and also those responsible for the new and revised edition. And you know my opinion on which areas of them are cool and which area isn’t (To paraphrase the comedian Dennis Miller…”hey that’s just my opinion, I COULD be wrong.). Now all you have to do is go out and buy a copy of the So-Called Dollar book (and maybe the others I mentioned above) and start reading. Then you can start on your new quest for them.

Christine and I have a few of the first pieces graded by PCGS. Look over our listing, then look them up in your copy of Hibler and Kappen’s book, and if you see something you like, give us a call. Remember…we love to talk coins (and medals).

Numismatic Americana Acquires Finest Known
1874 Proof $3 Gold Piece

1874threedollarFor the second time in as many months, Christine and I have purchase the finest known (top pop) specimen of key date in a very collectible series.
With a documented mintage of just 20 pieces, this coin, graded PR 65 DCAM by PCGS also carries the green seal of approval from CAC.

With deeply reflective fields and intensely frosted devices the eye appeal is unparalleled for the series, let alone the date. As stated above, this date has a known mintage of only 20 pieces. Looking at the PCGS population report we find the following:

In regular proof, that is non cameo or DCAM, there is 1 PR 63, 8 in PR 64, and 3 in PR 65. Undoubtedly there are resubmissions in those figures.

In Cameo there is one PR 65 CAM. Which by the way will be on display next week in Sacramento during the ANA’s spring show, at PCGS’ table, as part of a complete set of proof $3 gold pieces.

In Deep Cameo there is this piece. The lone PR 65 DCAM.

While the 1874 in proof has long been recognized a rarity by students of the series, the large mintage and availability of circulation strikes gives the illusion that this should be a common date. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, when one looks at the official mintages for “documented” proofs dating from 1859-1889, it becomes clear just how rare this coin is. There are only four dates with “official” mintages of 20; the 1874, 1875, 1877, and the 1878. Even the highly prized 1873 open 3 has a higher production figure of 25, of which PCGS has designated two as PR 65 DCAM. And the last sale of an 1873 in PCGS PR 65 DCAM was two and a half years ago in auction for $212,750. Granted there are no circulation strikes for the 1875, and few business strike 1873’s , creating extreme pressure by date collectors of the series. But from a strict mintage and population view point one can see that the opportunity to acquire the finest known example of any coin with such a low mintage, is one that doesn’t come along often.

This coin, as well as all of our new purchases, will be available for viewing and consideration next week in Sacramento.

Numismatic Americana Announces Purchase of Finest Known
1896-O Barber Quarter

1896-O QuarterNumismatic Americana Incorporated has recently acquired the finest known 1896-O Barber quarter. Graded MS 67 by the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and displaying the coveted seal of approval by Certified Acceptance Corporation (CAC), this lightly toned unusually sharply struck specimen is without a doubt the finest available specimen on the market today.

Long considered to be an extreme rarity in high grade by both collectors of the series and dealers alike, it stands amongst the top four dates in terms of scarcity and desirability.
There are three areas of information that should be used to evaluate this date. They are as follow;

PCGS’ Population Report:

The 1896-O, along with the 1896-S, 1901-S, and 1913-S are the most sought after dates in the series (in high grade). An analysis is below:

1896-O has a population of 7 MS 65, 3 MS 66 and this the sole MS 67, for a total of 11 Gems known.

1896-S has a population of 9 MS 65 and 1 MS 66, for a total of 10 Gems known.

1901-S has a population of 7 MS 65, 3 MS 66, 3 MS 67, and a lone MS 68+ (a coin we sold earlier in 2010 for excess of $400,000), for a total of 14 Gems known.

1913-S has a population of 18 MS 65, 11 MS 66, 1 MS 66+, 3 MS 67, and 1 MS 68 for a total of 34 Gems known.

With the above information, it is clear that the 1896-O is as rare, or rarer, than any of the other big 3.

PCGS Set Registry:

Looking at the set registry we find the following:

Experts at PCGS list the 1896-O in the top 6 most difficult dates to acquire. In fact, John Feigenbaum, specialist in the series and son of well respected author David Lawence (who wrote THE book on Barber quarters) had this to say about the 1896-O:

“The 1896-O is one of our favorite dates in the entire Barber quarter series and especially rare (and underrated!) in the highest of grades, owing in large part to the dearth of high quality manufacturing at the New Orleans Mint in that era. Coins are typically found with below-average strike and high grade specimens were clearly not saved. Ironically, I now find that it can often be harder to find a high grade 1896-O that the more celebrated key issues (like 96-S, 01-S and 13-S).

The All Time Finest Registry sets had the following grades for an 1896-O:

The Sunnywood Collection ( #1 set): MS 66
Louis Eliasberg (#2 set): MS 65 (estimated grade)
Allen Harriman ( #3 set): MS 65 (estimated grade)
Michael Hayes (#4 set): AU 58
Dr. and Mrs. Steven Duckor (#5 set): MS 66 (this is also the Eliasberg coin listed above as an estimated MS 65)

Even the current set with the highest grade point average, doesn’t have an 1896-O. Clearly finding a true GEM example of this date was and still remains a challenge for students of the series.

Auction records:

The last auction appearance for a high grade GEM was an MS 66 in July of 2009, in the mist of uncertain economic times. It still brought $20,700. The last appearance before then was 7 years ago, in May of 2003.

Comparatively the following examples of the other tough dates have sold at auction as follows:

1896-S: The last time an MS 66 sold was 13 years ago, and it brought $25,300. More importantly in MS 65 an example sold for $40,250 in April of 2009, prior to that another MS 65 example sold for $56,925 in May 2008. There are no MS 67’s graded to compare auction records with.

1901-S: An MS 67 example sold in January, 2005, for $149,500, and we (Numismatic Americana) sold the lone MS 68+ privately in excess of $400,000.

1913-S: At the top of the population, an MS 68 sold in April of 2009 for $86,250. Earlier in January, 2005, the same specimen sold for an astounding $172,500. The second finest graded specimen (MS 67) sold for $60,375 in July, 2009; again in a softer market. And remember, there are 34 specimens in MS 65 or better for collectors to choose from.

Using the above information, we can clearly see that this 1896-O is a special coin, and that the opportunity to own it is unprecedented.

We your inquiries about this piece, or any other coin on our web site, and look forward to talking with you.

Collecting and Appreciating Naturally Toned Coins, Part 1

By Greg Reynolds [ The original article appeared on CoinLink and is re-published with permission ]

In the history of coin collecting in the U.S., most of the greatest all-time collections were characterized by many coins with attractive, natural toning, especially including many coins that had never been cleaned, dipped or otherwise deliberately modified. I have personally and carefully inspected a substantial percentage of the coins in the Eliasberg, Norweb, and Pittman collections. Further, I have seen a significant number of the naturally toned coins that were previously in the Garrett family and James A. Stack collections. Most of the very scarce or moderately rare coins from these collections that brought surprisingly high prices at auction, and generated the most enthusiasm among collectors, are those that have (or then had) natural toning and/or mostly original surfaces. Over a period of more than 125 years, sophisticated collectors in the U.S. have tended to strongly prefer naturally toned coins.

jas_1870-S_Dollar_111109Currently, three of the most sophisticated collectors who are widely recognized are Dr. Steven Duckor, Stewart Blay and Jay Brahin. Considerable information regarding their collecting accomplishments is found in the PCGS registry. While Jay is more of a specialist in early 20th century gold coins, Blay and Dr. Duckor have built phenomenal collections in several areas. Not all of their coins are listed in the PCGS registry. Most sophisticated, advanced collectors have similar sentiments and a preference for natural toning. Many of them, however, wish to remain anonymous and thus will not be mentioned. Duckor, Blay and Brahin are all very much willing to share their knowledge with the coin collecting community.

Mark Hagen is another collector who is willing to share with the collecting community. He has been collecting coins for over forty years. I have seen him at many auctions. Further, he reports that he attended the Norweb, Eliasberg and Pittman auctions and ALL of the FUN and ANA Platinum night sales. Indeed, Mark has “been to over one hundred major auctions over the past twenty-five years” and he has “seen most of the classic rarities and gem type coins that have sold at public auction over that period.”

Hagen observes that “there are a lot of artificially toned coins on the market.” Further, Mark laments that “in addition to those that have been recolored, thousands of rare coins have been dipped; the number of original coins is getting smaller every year.” On this issue, Jay Brahin agrees with Hagen.

“To the eye of a true collector, originality is more important than shiny,” declares Brahin. “Natural toning is a testament to the age and natural process that the coin has gone through. What makes antiques appealing is their antiqueness, a normal aging process of the items. The natural aging of a relic attests to its authenticity. If you saw an 18th century original document that was a bright manila white, you would realize that something is wrong with it. You would expect an old document to show natural signs of aging. If you see an 18th century silver coin that is bright white, it is suspect; or if it has bright purple toning, it means something is wrong.”
… Click Here to Continue

Collecting and Appreciating Naturally Toned Coins, Part 2

By Greg Reynolds [ The original article appeared on CoinLink and is re-published with permission ]

In Part 1, I discussed the fact that almost all sophisticated collectors of U.S. coins have a very strong preference for natural toning, as opposed to coins that have been artificially toned, doctored, or dipped in brightening chemical solutions. As more and more rare coins are becoming subject to such deliberate, artificial modifications, this issue is crucial and needs to be urgently addressed. Although the two leading grading services have, since 2007, been rejecting a larger percentage of submitted ‘doctored’ coins, too many still become graded and encapsulated. Collectors will benefit by learning about such matters. Here in part 2, I focus on the connection between natural toning and the greatest collections, I emphasize the tradition of strongly preferring naturally toning, and I point out that naturally toned, 19th century coins are often not expensive.

Vermuele_93S_Morgan_pvgsHolderIn many instances over the years, I have mentioned the importance of naturally toned coins in the all-time greatest collections. I never claimed that my thoughts on this matter were path-breaking. Quite the contrary, I always believed that most sophisticated and knowledgeable collectors, plus advanced dealer-experts, agree that, usually, the naturalness and originality of the coins is a substantial and very important factor in determining the greatness and importance of a collection of U.S. coins.

Of course, there are other factors, such as completeness and the rarity of the coins included. Yes, collections that do not score at the highest levels in the originality category can still be excellent, such as the Harry Bass and Ed Trompeter collections. Undoubtedly, however, these collections would have been even better had more of the rare coins included been characterized by natural toning and/or original surfaces.

Certainly, natural toning and original surfaces are not the only factors to take into consideration when analyzing an individual coin. A coin may have natural toning and still have many problems. Natural toning has, though, been regarded as an extremely important factor throughout the history of coin collecting in the U.S.

Over the last half century, the Eliasberg, Norweb, Pittman, and Garrett collections are the four greatest to be auctioned. Numerous coins in these collections can be definitively traced to specific auctions that were conducted prior to 1915. Records exist of auction purchases by the Norweb and Garrett families. Moreover, most of the gem quality, 19th century silver and gold U.S. coins in the Eliasberg collection were earlier in the Clapp collection, which largely documented by the elder John Clapp. In addition to acquiring coins directly from the U.S. Mints, Clapp purchased coins at auction, possibly through or with the assistance of an agent. These had original (or at least mostly original) surfaces. Clearly, he avoided coins that were brightened with acids or artificially colored.
… Click Here to Continue

Collecting and Appreciating Naturally Toned Coins, Part 3

By Greg Reynolds [ The original article appeared on CoinLink and is re-published with permission ]

In Part 1, I frame the topic and put forth perspectives of very accomplished, active collectors regarding natural toning. As I discuss in Part 2, preferring coins with natural toning is a tradition at the core of the culture of coin collecting in the U.S.

Here in Part 3, I maintain that the case for strongly favoring naturally toned coins goes beyond collector opinions and tradition. There have always been logical reasons for determining that coins with natural toning and/or mostly original surfaces are superior.

nat_toned_120609(1) Coin collecting has been a popular and serious pastime for around 150 years in the United States, and there has always been a strong tradition of valuing, all other things being equal, coins with mostly original surfaces and/or natural toning over those that have been treated with acids (including dipping), artificially toned, surgically altered or deliberately chemically affected in other ways.

It is fair to conclude that experts in earlier eras were employing reason, not just following a tradition, especially before the tradition evolved. (Please read Part 2.)

(2) The layers of a coin’s surface that are stripped off, and the changes in the texture of the surfaces of coins, through standard dipping or the application of many chemical concoctions implemented via ‘conservation,’ or other deliberate, short-term modifications are, to some extent, irreparable. The original state of the coin can never be restored, and will never fully return on its own. Parts of the coin are destroyed, and, while some coins can largely recover, parts of the nature and history of each coin are lost forever.

Please note that I am referring primarily to rare or at least scarce old coins. Usually, recently minted coins are minimally or not noticeably toned. So, not much toning is destroyed when a recently minted, or modern coin, is dipped in a standard acidic solution. For high quality, rare coins, dipping or ‘conservation’ through liquids, almost always destroys toning. … Click Here to Continue

Now that the Copper Auctions are over …….

So now the big “Copper” auctions are over. We’ve all heard about the first $1,000,000.00 Large cent and the high prices the rest of the collections brought. I had an interesting situation happen and was wanting to hear your take on it.

So here it is:

I have a client who is putting together a type set of GEM United States coins. He wants high quality pieces with exceptional eye appeal. Usually MS 65 and above, preferably CAC stickered. So I saw an ad in Coin World with a late date large cent, PCGS MS 65 RD CAC in it. I called the company (who I know very well and do business with), and inquired about the coin. The person on the other end of the phone told me somebody would get back to me shortly. At this time I should tell you that this was on the Friday before the big “copper” auction was to be held. So I waited. And waited. Four days later, after the auction, I received a call. The coin I had asked about was now “on hold” for another customer, and the dealer who had the coin proceeded to tell me how “crazy” the past weekend’s prices had been. If, and I say “if”, the customer passed on the coin, then the dealer would let me know. But he wasn’t sure about the price. You see he had been at the auction the past weekend and was still hung over from the intoxicating results. He wasn’t sure if the copper market had gone up 50% or what.

What would you do?
… Click Here to Continue

Stone Mountain Counterstamped Half Dollars

Stone Mountain Counterstamped Half Dollars

In early 1925 the Stone Mountain Monumental Association was looking for different ways to market and help sell their newly issued commemorative. With the profits derived from the sale of a proposed 2,000,000+ coins at $1 each, the Association hoped to defray the cost of carving the massive granite sculpture in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

Along with enlisting the help of banks, insurance companies, and others, the group came up with the idea of “special” counterstamped pieces. There are basically three types of counterstamps, and they are as follows:

… Click Here to Continue

Contact Information

Numismatic Americana Incorporated
P.O. Box 608
Chester, NJ 07930

William Shamhart, Jr.
email: Bill@numismaticamericana.com

Notes on Our Next Show





If you have items to SELL please stop by our table and we will be happy to discuss purchasing them

We will also have many items with us for you to view. If you are looking for anything in particular, or have an interest in anything on our website, please email or give us a call, prior to the show and we will make sure we bring this item for you to view.

Thank you and we look forward to meeting you.

Show Schedule