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Archive for the ‘Gammill Numismatics’ Category

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As you know, it’s hard to know what you might find when looking into a dealers showcase these days.  Recently I found two beautifully toned Milled Bust Pillar Dollars, both from the Mexico City Mint.  One from 1808 and the second from 1820.  While often referred to as a Pillar Dollar these coins are more accurately called Milled Bust Spanish Dollars.  The obverse of the 1808 example illustrates the bust of Charles IV while the reverse has the Pillars of Hercules, so familiar from the earlier Cobs.

There were a total of  twelve colonial mints located in; Mexico City, Santo Domingo, Lima, La Plata, Potosi, Panama City, Cartegena, Bogota, Cuzco, Guatemala, Santiago and Popayan.  These twelve mints produced a total of five different types of silver reales.  They were, pillar, shield, pillar and waves, milled pillar and milled bust (above 1808).  These were produced during Spain’s amazing 300 years of colonial rule.

The milled bust coins, also referred to as bust or portrait dollars,  were minted at the Mexico City mint from 1772 until 1821, when Mexico won its independence from Spain.  Like the milled pillar dollar, bust dollars circulated throughout the world, even serving as legal currency in the United States until 1857.   Mexico City coins are easily identified by their mintmark, an M with a small o above.

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The number of coin collectors has really grown since the launch of the State Quarter program in 1999.  It is great to once again be able to check your pocket change each evening in hopes of finding a much needed coin to add to your collection….and, at face value.  The number of grandparents assembling sets of the state quarters for their grandkids must be a staggering number.  Everyone is enjoying this old fashion approach to coin collecting and the hobby is enjoying both new and renewed interest from collectors of all walks of life. 

 

 

2001 Kentucky State Quarter with Reverse CUD and Polish Marks.  Rare Error Quarter.  Be sure to check your pocket change for this gem!

 

However, since 1999 things have changed dramatically on the economic front.  If you have been attending coin shows for the last couple of years, particularly the smaller local club shows throughout the country, you might have noticed that attendance is down.  In reality, things don’t seem much better at a lot of the larger shows.  All too many collectors just don’t have the extra income today to continue adding to their collections as they had in past years.  There has really been a loss of activity amongst collectors who live on a fixed income, have lost jobs, or have just had to watch their family budgets so much more closely than in times past. 

 So what does this mean to the hobby?  Pulling state quarters from circulation continues to be exciting but novice collectors as well as seasoned collectors become disenchanted with the same old thing and soon lose interest.  In addition, many new and old collectors are almost encouraged to leave the hobby because the US Mint keeps raising prices on an endless number of products.  Should we have to pay a premium for US half dollars or rolls of state quarters?  Maybe when the economic environment improves and collector’s disposable income returns they will return to the hobby.  Unfortunately, when these collectors take a leave of absence, a large number of them don’t come back!  Also, who knows when this economy is going to straighten out?

 

Considia 6

 

What can collectors do during tough economic times to maintain a strong energetic interest in coin collecting and most importantly their own collections?  Let me make a couple of suggestions that will certainly enhance your knowledge of both collecting and give you added information about your existing collection.  All in all, you will be a much more astute collector.

 First, many collectors are so busy assembling a collection that they rarely have, or take the time, to actually study in any detail what they are collecting.  Of course this certainly isn’t true for all collectors, but we have all purchased a coin or book with very good intention of doing more with it, but the time never presents itself.  Of course we have all heard the old saying, “buy the book before the coin”.  This is very good advice but most collectors are to impatience to take this to heart.  There is always the rush to make the purchase. 

 Now, is a good time to do some reading and research on what you have purchased and what is left to be purchased for your collection if you are working on a series collection or type set.  If you are a member of the ANA you have a number of great resources at your disposal.  They have a world class library for your use, available online or through the mail.  Most state and local clubs also have libraries available for your use.  Read about the coins in your collection.  1798 S-148, Horned 9You may even find that there are some interesting varieties in your collection that you haven’t yet discovered (see 1798 large cent variety (S-148, Horned 9) to the right.

There are also some very informative books which discuss the history of coins, the engravers who designed them and the circumstances under which they went into production. 

 

 

 

 

Another possibility is to take a look at how your coins are graded.  I know they were likely graded when you purchased them, but were they graded by you or the person who sold them to you.  There is also this thing called “grade inflation” that impacts our collections.  For this we can thank the commercial grading firms such as PCGS, NGC, ANACS and others, who grade, curate and certify coins for a healthy price.  Their grading criteria moves with the market demand thus grading becomes a moving target.  In any event, the longer you collect, theoretically, the better your grading skills should become and at the same time, if you are abreast of the market, you can stay in tune with the commercial movement of the market which influences the value of your collection. 

 

 You might also want to check for counterfeits, particularly the key dates in your collection.  The ANA has published several excellent books on the subject to help guide you and determine if your coin is authentic.  You can also have one of the third party grading services authentic your key dates as well (PCGS).  It is always wise to purchase key date coins that are known to have been heavily counterfeited (1877 Indian Head Cent; 1909 S VDB Lincoln cent; 1916 D Mercury dime to name a few) from dealers you know and trust or buy certified coins.

 Now may be a good time to evaluate your home security.  Be sure your collection is adequately insured and that your inventory is correct and up to date.  Have a digital photo or video of your collection or at least of the most value coins in the collection.  Make sure your home safe if both burglar and fire proof with a high safety rating.  Be sure to keep your inventory list separate from your collection!

 You might even consider purchasing a stereo microscope if you don’t already have one.  They run about $200 and can provide hours of enjoyment in studying your coins, particularly when looking for varieties.

 Evaluate your entire collection and see if there are items you might want to sell.  Look for things that you may no longer have interest in that can be replaced with new items to keep your collection moving in a direction that keeps you interested.

 Go to coin shows and coin shops and look at certified coins to gauge where the market grading resides.  See if you can find those coins in NGC holders that have been cleaned (or conserved) that they have been graded!  This might lead you to spend more time looking at PCGS coins which might be more original or as some might say, are still in their original skin.

 There are many things to do to improve and continue to understand your collection.  Believe me, in this economy, this is the time to do it!

 

 

 

Who am I?

 

 

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On Friday, August 22, 2008 Bowers and Merena Auctions will open their September 2008 Collector’s Choice Auction.  The auction closes on September 17th.  This auction will include the Vernon G Stewart Collection as well as material from the famous Binion Hoard.  I have never seen so many rolls of common date coins of every denomination in recent times.

 

I guess the real question at hand at this point and time is whether Morgan Dollar collectors, and dealers as well, are ready to absorb 5,996 common date certified dollars and an addition 9,464 common date raw dollars, Is this really how they want to spend their money when the market is begging for rarities, not common date material that is falling off dealers shelfs as we speak.  Maybe someone will view this auction as an opportunity to make an investment in bulk silver….at a premium.

 

What do you do with so many PCGS certified common date Morgan dollars?  I guess the telemarketers are getting ready for a heyday, as are the TV coin shows (although I hear they are falling on hard times).    Most of these dollars are common Morgans with a small percentage of Peace dollars that hold little more than bullion value in such large quantities.  Do you think the wholesale and retail prices will be effected by these quantities entering the market?  It will be interesting to follow the sheet prices after the auction.  My guess, they will fall, particularly the ones listed below in grades of MS 63 and MS 64.  It will also be interesting to see if some of these large lots fail to met their minimum.

 

For example, there are 783 pieces of 1883 O Morgans (159 are MS 64s and 624 are MS 63s).  There are 1,221 pieces of 1884 O s (94 are MS 65 and 1,127 are MS 64s).  There are 639 MS 63 1885 Os.  There are 201 MS 64 1886 pieces & 1,187 MS 63 1886 Morgans.  There are 15 MS 64 PL 1887s, 161 MS 64s, 28 MS 63 PL and 177 MS 63 1887s.

 

There are approximately 15, 460 dollars in this auction, they are common date Morgans and the question is what is the value of holding such volumes of these coins other than for slightly better than bullion value. 

 

My money has to go to the key date and semi-key issues from the Morgan and Peace dollar series.  After that, Early Type is the only investment that continues to make sense.

 

 

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Over the years, as an avid collector of all things related to numismatics, I have talked to many colleagues who accurately regard themselves as true, “bona fide collectors”.  That is to say, they have absolutely no interest in discussing their collection as an investment instrument under any circumstance.  Well almost any circumstance.  They will rock back on their rears when they start talking about how much their AU-50 1909 S VDB cost them back in 1957.  Yes, they will remind you that they have made some good purchases over the years.  However, they most likely will say they have no desire or interest in “investment grade or investment quality coins” right after telling you about that very nice Lincoln cent.  They are investors aren’t they?  They say they are collectors and collect for the pure enjoyment of participating in the hobby.  They often remind you that it’s the hunt that drives them year after year, looking for that one special coin(s), book or piece of paper money to add to their collection…and they are dead serious and proud of that pursuit.  However, aren’t these collectors also investors by the simplest of definitions?  They have invested in America’s future by investing (collecting) in her past!

 

I know a number of collectors that fall under the definition of “bona fide collector” and they are some of the most knowledgeable and enjoyable people you will ever find when it comes to discussing collecting or any other topic as far as that goes.  I guess the simple point they make is that making money is not the most important aspect of their collecting activities.  Money has not been the driving force that has kept their interest in collecting alive over the many decades of what they consider a very nice leisure activity.  In addition to being quite knowledgeable about the history of the coin series they find most interesting, in general, they are always willing to share their collection with you, seek your opinion, giving new and young collectors sound advice and in the end, everyone gains an abundance of new knowledge and new friends.

 

If you talk to these people long enough you will generally find that they have no plans of ever selling their collection.  Talk to them a little longer and you will find out why they will never sale.  Very often, they are going to pass their collection on to future family generations.  I know one gentleman that has assembled five complete sets of Indian Head Cents in EF to MS 65.  They will go to his five grandchildren.  I have seen three of these sets and they are truly amazing.  Beautifully matched in color and quality and just about as problem free as you can imagine.  These sets have been assembled over a forty year period.  A truly remarkable task has been accomplished by this gentleman, reflecting on his own personal character as well as his dedication to pass not only his interests on to his children and future generations, but also the history of our country.

 

A second gentleman I met many years ago has put together three complete sets of Indian Head Cents for his grandkids.  To add to the hunt, he is attempting to upgraded each coin in every set to “four full diamonds”.  What a goal.  His sets are in the grade range of EF to AU 58.  Another wonderful accomplishment and he knows hel’ll never get full diamonds on all the coins, but he keeps looking.. 

 

I know individuals who have inherited multiple Lincoln Cent and Buffalo Nickel collections from a previous generation.  These people are not collectors but continue to hold the collections in hopes of future generations taking interest in a hobby enjoyed by a past generation.  These are remarkable coins that are properly stored and cared for and just waiting for their next custodian. 

 

I could go on but I think the point has been made.  These collectors have had a goal to leave something special to their families that gave them great enjoyment and satisfaction over many years.  They didn’t call themselves investors, but if fact they were.  All of these sets have greatly appreciated over the years.  It doesn’t matter who reaps the benefits of the financial gains, these gentleman have had a great experience collecting and assembling something they love and because they stuck with quality purchases, and made the key and semi-date purchases, they indeed have made a handsome investment over time. 

 

Any collection that has been assembled by a “bona fide collector”, as they might call themselves, stressing strike, luster and eye appeal, have done very well over the decades.  You don’t have to spend a million dollars, or make a million dollars on the sale of a collection to be both an astute collector as well as an investor. 

 

Collecting and investing in coins is synergistic!

 

COLLECT OR INVEST IN AMERICA’S FUTURE BY COLLECTING AND/OR INVESTING IN HER PAST!  IT IS TRULY AN AMAZING STORY FOR ALL GENERATIONS.

 

 

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On Sunday, September 14th, 2008 in Beverly Hills, CA, Ira and Larry Goldberg will be auctioning The Ray Rouse Collection of United States Half Cents.  There are a number of great opportunities for acquiring some highly desirable Half Cents to add to your exiting investment portfolio

The first one to get my attention was lot 31, a 1796 C-1 (R6) in Fine 15+.  This is the No Pole variety pushing a grade of VF 20.  This coin was plated in the Gilbert half cent book and in Wayte Raymond’s standard catalogue to illustrate the No Pole variety.  This coin comes with a long distinguished provenance.  Wonderful example.

A second desirable Half Cent, lot 32, is another 1796 issue, this time the C-2, an R4 in VF 30.  This issue is the With Pole variety.   It also comes with an impressive provenance.

Still another treasure is found in lot 39, an 1802/0, C-1 R6 Over  date, 2 over 0, reverse of the 1800.  Graded at VG 10. 

This is going to be a very strong and exciting auction.  Visit Goldberg’s website for their listing of other rarities

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Another stunning treasure from the Dice-Hicks’ Collection of Hard Times Tokens was Lot 3129, another extremely rare Merchants Token from the historical seaport of New Orleans, Louisiana.  This lot was a brass, plain edge, Walton, Walker & Company token dated 1834. The token was engraved by Bale & Smith of New York.  It is Low 106, Rulau HT-129, 162.5 gns, 33.7 mm, with a rarity of R-7 (one of a handful known) and Struck Medal Turn.  The hammer price including the buyer’s fee was $63,250. 

The obverse: Walton, Walker & Co. 1834.  IMPORTERS OF AND DEALERS IN HARDWARES AND SHIP CHANDLERY No. 17 NEW LEVEE NEW ORLEANS. 

The reverse: FINE CUTLERY, GUNS, PISTOLS, IRON NAILS, CASTINGS DUPONTS POWDER MILL STONES &C.&C &C. 

This token has only been sold publicly two times in the past half century.  It was sold on June 23, 2004 (Lot 187) in the John J. Ford, Jr. Collection, Part IV where it sold for $48,875.  Previous to that it was listed in Ken Rendell’s Fixed Price List of September 5, 1958, consigned by Donald Miller; earlier, ex-Dupont and Tilden Collections.  We do not know what it was listed for on the Rendell Price List (which would be interesting, maybe someone has that infromation).  It was also auctioned in the 1916 Henry C. Miller collection sale.  Stacks makes the point in their description that this particular token is missing from almost all of the great Hard Times Tokens collections ever auctioned (including the Krause, Zeddies, Steinberg and Litman collections).  That puts it in perspective in terms of rarity!

To view this token go to this “link”.

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Hard Time Tokens are Alive and DOING WELL! The Dice-Hicks’ Collection Part I (7-28-08)

Numismatics is enjoying an absolutely astonishing time despite the down turn in the economy.  Just one simple point to be made here and that is, the rare become increasingly rare and there you have the enigma to this market! 

This last week, Stacks offered the James E. Dice and M. Lamar Hicks collection of Hard Time and Merchant Tokens.  This is indeed a very unique collection in many ways, not the least of which was the fact that the two gentlemen built the collected as a team.  How did this strategy work?  Just take a look at the catalogue and admire the rarities they managed to assemble and the answer is pretty impressive.  I have often heard individuals describe the rarity of a coin as one that only comes across the auction block every 5-10 years (certainly on way of looking at it) but, read on if you really what to know what the true meaning of rarity is in numismatics.

 Also keep in mind the great social and financial significance these Hard Time tokens represent.  Hard Times tokens were issued due to an unusual period in the financial history of the United States and one that was not to be unique!

 

Just a bit of history:  In President Andrew Jackson’s 1832 campaign for reelection (served from 1829 until 1837), he was passionately opposed to the Second Bank of the United States due to what he considered fraud and corruption in this powerful institution.  Jackson had the bank investigated and concluded that the investigation established beyond doubt that the bank had been actively engaged in attempting to influence the elections of the public officers by means of its money.”. 

The Second Bank of the United States had been chartered in 1816, five years after the expiration of the First Bank of the United States.  The Second Bank was founded after the War of 1812 when it was realized that without a national bank (the charter on the first bank was allowed to lapse) it would be impossible to fund another war such as the one just fought.  It was also founded out of desperation to stabilize the currency during the administration of President James Madison.  The Second Bank of the United States was located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was said by opponents to control the money supply in favor of the wealthy merchants as mentioned above.  The bank issued its own currency, quickly became the most stable paper money supply in the land and did exercised considerable control over credit and interest rates throughout the country.

When Jackson was reelected President he did manage to abolish the bank despite opposition from Henry Clay who tried to extend it’s charter for an additional four years.  The bank was always a privately owned institution and lost its Federal charter in 1836 and ceased operations in 1841.  While attempting to close the bank, the president of the bank, Nicholas Biddle, tightened the money supply which resulted in a financial panic.  While other banks issued paper money, they did so with little or no gold or silver backing and quickly failed.  By 1837 over 100 banks had failed and the small change necessary for everyday commerce began to disappear.  

Merchants began to issue tokens to provide a means for the public to deal with this small change shortage.  It is no surprise to any student of these historic tokens the frequent and almost common political or satirical nature of these issues, much like the satire found on the Conder tokens that were used in England during the late 18th century. 

The tokens of the period 1832-1844, during the time when Jackson, Van Buren and John Tyler served as president are classified as the Hard Time issues. During this time America entered a depression, many banks were forced to close, and legions of people lost their savings. 

 

Some Highlights from the Auction:

 

Lot 3125 was certainly one of the top prizes in the Dice-Hick’s collection.  It was a Huckel, Burrows & Jennings, 1836, brass, Merchant Token (Low 102) with a R7+ rarity rating (suggesting as few as four being known).  It is the only St. Louis, Missouri Token in the Hard Time Series and therein resides it desirability and very unique position within the series.  Huckel, Burrows & Jennings were Dealers in Groceries and “Choice Wine”.  It would be interesting to know the kinds of wine and where they likely came from during this historical period.  Maybe there is a wine expert out there that can help us!

This company was also in the business of serving as a “Boat Store and Ship Chandlery” and was located on Main Street in Saint Louis.  What a unique piece of Early American History.

The coin was graded choice almost uncirculated.  Considerable mint luster remained in the protected areas as described in the catalogue write up.  A second example of this token exists in the American Numismatic Societies collection.  As the present token has made two of the 3 or 4 auction appearances during the last 100 years, this was truly the chance of a life time for some astute collector to add such a historically significant and desirable token to ones collection.

The Huckel, Burrows & Jennings Merchant Token sold for $80,500, (including the buyers’ fee).  On June 23, 2004, this exact token sold at auction, by Stacks as Part IV of the John J. Ford collection, for $60,375 (including the buyers’ fee).  The pedigree of this coin extends back to F.C.C. Boyd, New Netherlands Rare Coin Company, Horace Louis Philip Brand and Virgil M. Brand. 

The Huckel, Burrows & Jennings Merchant Token: A TRUE NUMISMATIC RARITY SIMPLY DEFINED BY IT MERE EXISTANCE AND NOTABLE PEDIGREE.

To view this lot please go to this link.

More highlights to come.

Thanks for Visiting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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