Archive for July, 2008

The Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) Selected 

Roger W. Burdette’s

Renaissance of American Coinage, 1905-1908 

as the single work having the greatest potential impact on Numismatics published in 2007.


This year the Clemy Award went to Gene Hessler.


There were also a series of awards listed as “BEST SPECIALIZED BOOKs”, which covered topics such as: United States Coins; World Coins; US Paper Money: Obsolete Paper Money; World Paper Money; Tokens and Medals; Numismatic Investments as well as several others worthy topics.  The winners in these catagories are certainly names most numismatist and certainly bibliophiles would recognize.

Below we list a few of many favorites, they are all great. 

 “Current Cabinet Activities,” Robert W. Hoge, ANS Magazine

 Coin Chemistry, by Weimar W. White        

“The Joys Of Collecting,” Q. David Bowers, Coin World








Cindy Brake, Coin World



John Andrew, Coin World

 “A Time-Honoured Burden”




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1919 D Lincoln Cent

Next year, 2009, we will celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the birth of our 16th President Abraham Lincoln.  In addition, 2009 will mark the 100th Anniversary of our Lincoln Cent.  Lincoln is remembered for his personal struggles and family tradgies he encountered during the civil war by most, none the less, he had a very colorful career as a self taught attorney prior to becoming our Nations President.  In the mid 1850s his cases focused almost entirely on transportation interests of river barges and railroads.   These were giants of industry at the time and Lincoln was in the middle of it all. There are several prominent cases during this time in which Lincoln demonstrated his skills as an attorney.  Such as, in 1851 Lincoln argued that as a matter of law a corporation is not bound by its original charter when the charter can be amended in the public interest.  His most famous civil case, which won Lincoln much notoriety, was the 1856 landmark Hurd v. Rock Island Bridge Company.  However, thought by many his most notable criminal trial came in 1858 in his defense of William Armstrong, a fellow who had been charged with murder.  Lincoln’s use of judicial notice that an eyewitness had lied on the stand) was a rare tactic at the time.  It is a very interesting story. 

Our 16th President was indeed a very colorful and brilliant gentleman and to continue to honor him in 2009 on our coinage is a continuation of our respect to his character and leadership during a challenging time of this great nation.

In 2009 the Lincoln Cent reverse design will change and feature a series of four different designs released every three months. Each of the designs will represent different stages in the life of Abraham Lincoln (see below).

  • Birth in Kentucky (1809-16)
  • Formative Years in Indiana (1816-30)
  • Professional Life in Illinois (1830-61)
  • Presidency in Washington DC (1861-65)

Additionally, the Secretary of the Treasury has the authority to mint and issue numismatic coins with the original composition of 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc.  Fantastic!

There will also be 500,000 Commemorative Silver Dollar issued to honor President Lincoln.  The design will be illustrative of the life and legacy of President Lincoln.

Both proof and uncirculated versions of the coin will be available from the US Mint from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2009.

Starting in 2010, the reverse design will be changed once again to one emblematic of Lincoln’s preservation of the USA as a unified country as we continue to honor this Great Statesman into the future.   

The 2010 issue will permanently replace the Lincoln Memorial reverse used since 1959.


Thanks for reading.

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The Meyer Selected Rarities Sale opens for preview on July 29 and 30 at the Baltimore convention center in Baltimore at Sheridan Downey’s bourse tables 931-933 during normal bourse floor hours of PNG day (July 29) and the American Numismatic Association Convention on July 30.  This is a mail and sealed bid sale and closing is Wednesday July 30, 2008.


There are 44 lots listed in Sheridan’s catalogue and it is loaded with rarities, finest know examples (1814 Single Leaf, PCGS MS 63), UNIQUE issues (1806 O.128), plate coins (1832 O. 123, Overton Plate Coin, 1 of 5) and on and on.  This is a tremendous opportunity for the true connoisseur.  The pedigrees are simply historical in numismatics and finally; the catalogue itself is an immediate collectible for the early half dollar collectors.


To view lots please use this Link.


Very Well Done Sheridan, Very Well Done Indead.

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The answer to the question is YES, a fellow by the name of Vinton G. Cerf, currently a Vice President at Google is widely considered by most as the father of what we know today as the internet.  Dr. Cerf lead the team that developed our governments communications network during the cold war era which then came to be what we know now as the internet. 

At Google he is responsible for identifying new enabling technologies and applications on the Internet and other platforms for the company.  Please use this link to Google to learn more about this extraordinary scientist.

In 2005, Dr. Cerf and co-inventor Robert Kahn received the highest civilian honor bestowed in the U.S., the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

These guys have meant a lot to coin collectors and most of us don’t have a clue who they are.  Roger Sibioni has written a nice paragraph or two on some of these early internet explorers that enable us numismatist to do what we do with such great ease.  It is well worth the read and if you are not familiar with the E-Sylum,  after reading this you might want to become a subscriber.

 Now we all know a bit more.

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Civil War Tokens



Collecting Civil War tokens is an interesting pursuit just loaded with history of the Great War between the States.  Regular issues of US coinage was hoarded during the Civil War and this dramatically restricted merchants ability to make small change.  In response to this situation, many of the  merchants had tokens made to give out as change in their stores.  If you ordered the least expensive tokens you would receive a combination of two existing dies, usually of a Patriotic nature or similar to a US cent.  We refer to these tokens as  Patriotic Civil War Tokens


If on the other hand you had more to spend for tokens you could have custom dies prepared with specific information relating to your business (i.e. location, occupation, specialties, etc.) these are referred to as Civil War Store Cards.  These tokens are often refered to as Tradesmen Tokens.


Given the above information, it is not surprising that collectors in general classify Civil War tokens as either Patriotic or Store Cards (there are others we will cover later).  Now get ready; there were some 50,000,000 or more of these tokens issued!  Approximately 10,000 different varieties have been recorded! This area of numismatics represents an abundance of affordable small pieces of copper that represent a very important part of the fabric that makes this country what it is today.  There are almost endless ways of assembling Civil War Tokens (CWT) by variety or topic for the collector.   Want a history lesson of the early 1860’s…..this is a wonderful place to begin.


Patriotic tokens are anonymous, as mentioned above, struck from stock dies for general circulation. These tokens have patriotic themes – ARMY & NAVY, THE FLAG OF OUR UNION, LIBERTY AND NO SLAVERY, etc. – but some “Copperhead” tokens were issued with designs critical of the war, such as MILLIONS FOR CONTRACTORS/NOT ONE CENT FOR THE WIDOWS.


Store cards were made with their issuers and generally carry an advertisement for the issuers business.  One of my favors are the tokens bearing a mortar and pestle, relating to medicinal agents of the time.  However, other items like trunks, stoves, a stein of beer, animals and many more were used.  On the other hand, many show simply a stock die such as an Indian head, eagle, or patriotic theme.


In reality, cent-size copper tokens were first issued before the Civil War.  There are examples of issues as early as 1858 and 1861,  These pre-Civil War tokens are usually collected together with the genuine article due to the difficulty of confidently separating them and the long exiting collecting tradition. Some of the more recent catalogues do identify many of them as “non- contemporary” issues.


Now with that background for those not familiar Civil War Token collecting, lets get on to the main subject of this article, the “Rattlesnake Token”.   This token is appealing for several reasons but formost is its symbolism as far back as colonial times in this country( i.e. at least 1750 or so).  The rattlesnake was the favorite animal emblem of the Americans even before the Revolution.  Moreover, no one can misinterpret either the partial or full phrase,  “LIBERTY OR DEATH: DONT TRED ON ME”, found of the flags of 1775 along with either coiled, or full length rattlers decorating the sacred hand woven material this all resided on.









On the Obverse: The Union Must and Shall Be Preserved.


On the Reverse: “Beware”, shown above the snake with the date 1863 beneath.

This die marriage is 136/397.


The rattlesnake has been a favorite symbol of independence throughout America’s history. It was first adopted as a uniquely American ICON by early patriots such as Benjamin Franklin. The rattlesnake represented American unity. For example, individually, its rattles have no sound, but united, they can be heard by all. Moreover, while it does not strike unless threatened, once provoked, the deadly rattlesnake will never surrenders. 

Opponents of the Civil War were also known as “Copperheads”) and criticized Lincoln for refusing to compromise on the slavery issue.


The Civil War Token we are interested in falls into “Patriotic” series. The firebrand design of the Gadsden Flag serves as a reminder of the birth of our nation and the spirit that carried it to freedom. The bright yellow banner bears an ominous coiled rattlesnake with the warning “Don’t Tread on Me.”


Confederate iron rattlesnake waist belt buckle very similar to the one in Mullinax’s Confederate Belt Buckles & Plates book, expanded edition, page 114, plate 201.




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