Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Figure 1.  1804 C-6, Manley Die State 4.5 Half Cent.

Those of you that are members of Early American Coppers (EAC) have seen the listing for both the Half Cent and Large Cent 2020 Happening Varieties at this years EAC Convention (April 30 to May 3, 2020) at the Marriott City Center in Pittsburgh, PA this year.  One of the half cent varieties in the Happening that caught my eye was the 1804 C-6 variety.  I remembered having this variety and thought I would retrieve it to see which die state I had.  I did remember that it was one of several coins from well know New York collector Vincent W. Alones.  Alones was a longtime hobbyist and ANA member.  Vincent W. Alones passed away at the age of 95 in 2012.  He was a World War II Navy veteran from Long Island, NY.  Vincent had his name published in the July 2011 issue of The Numismatist for being a 50 year member of the ANA. He was also an award-winning exhibitor who won an ANA Presidential Award in 1994 and the Medal of Merit in 1995. Vincent Alones attended every ANA Convention from 1952 to 2008!

Vincent Alones won over 200 prizes in numismatic competitions during his lifetime and was a long-time member of the Long Island Coin Club. His estate provided a large portion of Vincent’s amazing coin collection to be sold, in part, to benefit the Virginia Numismatic Association.

Vincent started collecting in 1934 and his collection contained many coins from major auctions such as the Anderson-Dupont Collection (1954), B. Frank Collection (1956), Farish Baldenhofer Collection (1955), B. Max Mehl (1942), and coins obtained from Abe Kosoff, Walter Breen, Empire, T. Weiss, and New Netherlands Coin Company.  What a list of numismatic notables.

The Virginia Numismatic Association sold Alones Collection in conjunction with its 54th annual convention  in September  2012 at the Fredericksburg Expo & Conference Center in Fredericksburg, VA.  Session I included between 250 and 300 lots of mostly copper coins and was especially strong in large cents.  I spend this brief introduction to Vincent W. Alones because if not for collectors of his character and generosity we, the current day collectors, would not be able to reach back in our history to gain further insight and motivation we enjoy assembling our collections and the history they contain and that can be shared with your fellow collectors.

The spiked chin 1804 half cents are a favorite of collectors and has been throughly studied and documented in numerous books and articles.   While the “spiked chins” range in rarity from R-x to R-Y, for the C-6 variety, there are 13 different but distinct die states.  and written about is a plentiful issue carrying a mere R-2 rarity rating.  However, what makes it interesting are the various die states for this issue that Ronald P. Manley has so exquisitely described in his book, “The Half Cent Die State Book 1793-1857”.  Some die states are quite common while others, not so much so. Obverse die 1, as it has been cataloged, was used with different reverse dies in striking several die marriages before something happened to change the face of the die and created the damage that gives the coins their nickname..A raised horizontal projection or “spike” protruding from Liberty’s chin, with a second smaller projection protruding from Liberty’s lips like a tongue. A series of curved parallel lines appear in the field in front of Liberty’s neck, from just below her chin to just above the drapery on her bust.  Various theories have been floated to explain the anomalies, with the most likely being that the die was damaged when a small threaded bolt fell onto it during a striking cycle, according to Walter Breen’s book on half cents.


1804 obv 2

Figure 2.  Obverse view of the C-6 variety obverse.

Obverse is the same as 1804 C-5 and 1804 C-7 but later in the progression.  The “Spiked Chin” is always found with clash marks at the throat and cracked through the tops of LIBERTY with this die pairing.

1804 6

Figure 3.



1804 24

Figure 4.



1804 17

Figure 5.


1804 8

Figure 6.

1804 1

Figure 7.

Each wreath branch has five berries..

Always found with a cracked revere.

All the T’s have missing or defective feet.

1804 13

Figure 8.


A patch of die rust is below the right foot of the first A in AMERICA.

1804 32

Figure 9.

An engravers’ scratch extends from the right stem end midway to the second A in AMERICA.

1804 29

Figure 10.


A die flaw slants right from the top of T in CENT.

1804 31

Figure 11.


A tiny lump is between NI in UNITED.

1804 30

Figure 12.


A short die scratch is found parallel to the right side of A in STATES….which eventually fades.

1804 12

Figure 13.

1804 41

Figure 14


1804 40

Figure 15.



1804 11

Figure 16


1804 9

Figure 17.

Read Full Post »

A few more toned Lincoln Cents from our  ‘Battle Creek Collection’ for your perusal.  Interesting study group that we will have more comments on in Part III.


NFS/Study Group ONLY!


1945 obv c1945 rev c

1945 Lincoln Cent


1948 D obv1948 D rev

1948 D Lincoln/MS


1948 S obv1948 S rev

1948 S Lincoln/MS


1949 obv1949 rev

1949 Lincoln/MS


1950 obv1950 rev

1950 Lincoln/Mint State


1950 D obv1950 d rev

1950 D Lincoln/MS


1950 obv1950 rev

1950  Lincoln/MS


1951 d obv 21951 d rev

1951 S Lincoln/MS


1951 obv 11951 rev 1

1951 Lincoln/MS


1951 d obv 21951 d rev

1951 S Lincoln/MS


1953 obv1953 rev

1953 Lincoln/MS


1953 obv b

1953 Lincoln Cent

1953 obv c

1953 Lincoln Cent/Rim


1953 rev b

1953 Lincoln Cent/Wheat Ears


1953 rev c

1953 Lincoln Cent/Wheat Ears


1953 rev d

1953 Lincoln Cent/Wheat Ears & Die Polish


1953 rev e

1953 Lincoln Cent/Wheat Ears & Die Polish


1953 rev f

1953 Lincoln Cent/Wheat Ears & Die Polish


1954 D obv1954 D rev

1954 D Lincoln


1954 D obv 2

1954 D ‘LIBERTY’


1954 D obv 3

1954 D Date


1954 D obv 4

1954 D ‘Bust/Rim’


1954 D obv 5

1954 D ‘GOD WE TRUST’ & Forehead


1954 D obv 6

1954 D ‘IN COD WE TRUST’ & Forehead



1954 D rev 2

1954 D Reverse


1954 D rev 3

1954 D Reverse


1954 D rev 4

1954 D Reverse


1954 D rev 5

1954 D Reverse


1954 D rev 7

1954 D Reverse


1954 D rev 8

1954 D Reverse


1954 D rev 9

1954 D Reverse


1954 D rev 10

1954 D Reverse


1954 D rev 11

1954 D Reverse


1954 S obv 11954 S rev 1

1954 S


1955 obv1955 rev

1955 Lincoln


1955 D obv1955 D rev

1955 D Lincoln


1956 obv1956 rev

1956 Lincoln


1956 D obv1956 D rev

1956 D Lincoln


1957 D obv1957 D rev

1957 D Lincoln


1958 obv1958 rev

1958 Lincoln


1958 D obv1958 D rev

1958 D Lincoln


1959 obv1959 rev

1959 DDR Lincoln

1959 obv 2

1959 ‘LIBERTY’


1959 obv 6

1959 ‘LIBERTY’ & Die Polish Lines

1959 obv 7

1959 Lincoln with Rainbow Toning & Die Polish Lines

1959 obv 3

1959 Lincoln with Rainbow Toning

1959 obv 4

1959 Lincoln with Rainbow Toning

1959 obv 5

1959 Lincoln with Rainbow Toning

1959 obv 8

1959 Lincoln with Rainbow Toning


1959 rev 3

1959 DDR

1959 rev 3 E DDO

1959 DDR

1959 rev 2

1959 DDR


1960 obv 21960 rev

1960 Lincoln


1960 d obv 1a1960 D rev

1960 D Lincoln


1961 D obv1961 D rev

1961 D Lincoln


1961 obv1961 rev

1961 Lincoln






Read Full Post »

1948 Mint State Lincoln Cent (Bull’s-Eye Toning)

Some twenty years ago, Martha and I were attending the Michigan State Numismatic Show in Dearborn, MI.  An elderly gentlemen came up to our table, and said several dealers told him that we liked copper.  True.  He then proceeded to tell us that he had a small coin collection that he had amassed over the years, wondered if we were interested in taking a look at it and, if interested, purchase it.  I asked him if had brought anything to show us, and he replied, I have a few Indian Head Cents and some tokens for you.   His coins were all nice and original (original skin, if you will) and many were attractive AU’s and Mint State examples.  None of these coins were toned to any noticable extent.  We talked for some time.  He had been collecting US Coins and Token since the end of World War II, and explained that he had come to the point that it was time to sell his collection.  It was interesting to me that it appeared the coins he presented at the show had been stored away for some time.  Many were wrapped in old tissue paper or in old 2X2 paper envelopes.  However, he was quick to point out that  most of his really nice coins were in old coin albums.  I asked National Albums?  He replied, yeah, I’ve got some of those I believe.  My interest then peaked!  We offered him a price for the coins he had with him, and then told him to shop his coins around the bourse floor, and, if our offer was competitive, come back to see us, and we would make an appointment to view the rest of his collection.  His wife was with him and really didn’t seem very interested in the coins, but was enjoying looking at some of the jewelry on display at several of the tables at the show.

A couple hours passed and the couple came back to our table.  They said they were interested in our offer, but really wanted to sell the entire collection, and encouraged us to visit them at their home in Battle Creek, MI, to view the entire collection.

So, the rest of the story:   After returning from the MSNS show, we arranged a visit with the couple at their home in the Battle Creek countryside .  Now I am speculating, but my best guess was these folks were in their late 70’s at the time of our visit.  They had a very nice comfortable home and were very gracious hosts during our visit.  We learned that the gentlemen had been a life-long farmer in the Battle Creek area, and his wife had been a homemaker.  They had children, but none of the kids were interested in their collection, and it was just time to sell.

They walked us down a hallway to a large bedroom in which an old wooden chest was at the foot of the iron-post bed.  Everything in that room, and their house for that matter, reminded me of my grandparent’s home!  Now the old fellow opened the wooden chest, and it was full of coin albums, boxes of coins carefully labeled and stored in envelopes, sometimes wrapped in old tissue paper as well as related Numismatic Memorabilia (early Max Mehl catalogues, for example).

1946 Mint State Lincoln Cent (Bull’s-Eye Toning).

Of all the coins we saw that afternoon, and eventually purchased, the Lincoln Cents, Proof and Mint Sets, were covered in absolutely spectacular toning.  Both Martha and I had attended Bob Campbell’s course in Colorado Springs at the ANA Summer Seminar Series which was on the characteristics of natural and artificial toning, and we were immediately confident that what we were viewing, was in fact, beautifully undisturbed and original examples of natural toning on copper.

Toning is all about storage techniques, and is the result of a long and slow oxidative process in which chemicals in the environment interact with the surface of the coin.  The Lincoln Cents, Proof and Mint Sets had been stored in that trunk, undisturbed to varying degrees since the late 1940’s and 1950’s.  The old fellow told us that the trunk was what his belongings were shipped home in at the end of his service in WW II.  I wish I could tell you the type of wood that old trunk was made of, but that detail is missing.  The albums ranged from the old National Albums, Library of Coins Albums and various Whitman Albums.  The Lincoln Cents were housed in a “Library of Coins” album.  For the most part they appeared to have been carefully chosen Mint State or near Mint State examples, certainly quality-wise much better than the Indian Head Cents in his collection.  I asked him about the source of his collection over the years.  His reply, as I recall, was that he had gotten them from local banks, friends and occasionally local dealers and coin shows.  I asked him if he had ever sold any of his coins before now.  He said no, never sold a thing.  I’m guessing from our visit that many in the area knew of his collecting interest and frequently offered him small family accumulations.   Sometimes, when dealing with collectors, buying or selling, you learn a lot about their personality.  In this case, we were dealing with very knowledgable and meticulous folks.  Details and organization were a top priorities in every aspect of their life( at least as viewed by us).  They resided in a very comfortable farm home with every thing in its place!  They appeared to be happy and very content in their community, and were enjoying their senior years with great clarity and confidence.   These were people you like to know and call friends.

1959 D Mint State Lincoln Cent (Iridescent Green Toning)

Many of the Lincolns in his collection had not only spectacular ‘Bull’s-Eye’ toning but also beautiful deep intense iridescent green toning, which was incredibly thick, almost to the point of obscuring the underlying mint luster.  However, under direct light the original mint luster was in full beauty.  I am sure a professional photographer could make these coins truly remarkable examples of  natural toning on copper.

1946 D Mint State Lincoln Cent (Iridescent Green & Rose Toning)

How do we grade these raw uncirculated examples?   Well, we just call them Mint State Beauties, free from plastic encapsulation, for the time being.   The coins pictured in this article represent about 10% of the toned wheat cents (30’s,40’s & 50’s) in our Battle Creek Toned Lincoln Collection.  If you think grading is a subjective exercise in establishing value…grading toned mint state examples is really subjective.  Some folks believe toning is surface damage and stay away from buying them.  Others view toning as beauty, adding great value to the coin.  In our present numismatic market, almost all markable and beautifully toned coins are going to be encapsulated by either PCGS or NGC.  Encapsulated/Certified coins are the market makers and are guiding grade and value in almost every aspect of collecting.   We certainly buy and sell in the certified market, but in some cases, as in this example, we prefer to view the originality, free from plastic, at least for the time being!

We purchased this collection raw, not a certified coin in it.  Were we fair?  Did we pay this couple a premium for what was clearly a collection with some unique examples?  You bet we did, and here’s why:  First, it was, and is, the correct thing to do.  Your reputation of fairness in dealing with collectibles of any kind is your bond.  In this case, the toning was unique enough to us that we estimated the value of these coins would certainly increase; and demand would be high going forward.  So yes, we paid a premium that yielded an outcome that both buyer and seller could agree upon and be happy with.

Oh, you want to know how much of a premium?  Don’t be like a long-time customer of ours.  Every time we sold him a coin he insisted on driving us crazy by wanting to know what we had paid for the coin.  He wanted to know, and apparently approve, our profit margin…really not his business!  We sold him coins for 15 years, never divulged that information, and apparently he learned to live without knowing every little detail of our business.  He was a great customer but we always knew that question was coming…how much did you pay for this coin?  He became a very dear friend…but we never divulged our cost.

1947 D Mint State Lincoln Cent (Light Iridescent Green with Soft Rainbow Toning)

One Final Note:  How do we store these toned Lincoln Cents?  Well, we place them in a nice cotton pouch, and then that pouch goes into a 2 X 2 paper coin envelope.  Ideally envelopes of low sulfur content (archival quality, if possible).  The coins are then stored in a low humidity environment with air temperature @70 degrees year round.


Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »





Read Full Post »

In the July 6th (2009)  issue of Coin World Steve Roach wrote an interesting article entitled, “Is Old better than new? Age of slabs plays pricing role“.  This is a very informative article which suggests that in some cases because of the more conservative grading practices at PCGS and NGC in the early days, that coins in their old holders might be under-graded by subsequent market standards and thus would be a prime target for a nice profitable upgrade.  Over the years this has happened numerous times to be sure.  Steve gives several examples in his article (p. 46).


An Example of one of the early PCGS Holders

There are a couple of aspects about these “old slabs” that need a comment or two that were not mentioned in Steve’s article.

It is common knowledge that this has always been a  hot area for the crack-out artist. There have been a lot of these early graded coins which have been cracked out, received an upgrade, and thus brought more money.  But just as likely, there were probably coins that were over-graded!  What happened to those coins?

In spite of this earlier point in time, let’s be realistic.  Considering the bull market we have seen in rare coins during recent years, it is probably better to face reality and realize that most of those coins in the “vintage” holders have likely been inspected by the crack-out artist who are expert graders working for the larger dealers (who see such a huge volume of coins that the average collector can’t even comprehend) and auction houses.  Therefore, if you come across one of these old holders you need to ask the question, why is it still in that old holder!  Was it because no one thought it would upgrade, or was it over graded to begin with while grading standards were being established?  Likely, there is a very good reason the coin in that older holder is in its “final resting place” (the vintage holder).  You must realize that the day after they started slabbing coins, someone starting cracking them out and resubmitting them hoping for better grades; essentially taking advantage of the subjective nature of grading.  And as we all know, that crack-out process continues to this day and we don’t have to limit the crack-outs just to old PCGS or NGC  holders.

The bottom line remains, you have to be able to grade the coin and not make a judgment about grade on whether it is in an old holder.  Certainly, don’t draw any firm conclusions about whether it has been under-graded  just because of the holder and when the coin was graded.  All this despite the changes in grading standards we have incurred over the last 20 or so years.

NGC Holders with Black Inserts ARE VERY COLLECTIBLE!

Now, there is another aspect to these old holders, particularly early NGC holders, that one must consider, i.e., the collectability of some of these very early holders.  For example, NGC started out on day one putting their coins in holders with a black background…..that only lasted about three days before it was discontinued probably due to negative market feed back and the fact, the holder simply didn’t have nice eye appeal, particularly for copper coins.  Thus, NGC coins (see below) in these old black holders are quite collectible and often can be valued at multiples of the coins they contain.










The above photos came from the following link which gives a great deal of information regarding these collectible NGC slabs.  Thanks to Lane Brunner for pointing this area of collecting out to Gammill Numismatics, LLC. http://forums.collectors.com/messageview.cfm?catid=26&threadid=727096 


Conclusion:  It’s still the same old advice…..buy the coin, not the holder…..unless you have found an old NGC “collectible holder“. 

This is probably new information to many collectors, but none the less, gives you something else to be on the lookout for when looking in dealers’ showcases or someone’s personal collection.  You may be able to tell a fellow collector that the coin in that old holder isn’t of any great value but the holder, well,  is worth a lot!

I guess a green CAC sticker on one of these early black NGC holders would really be a keeper for a collection.

Think thrice: is the coin under-graded, over-graded or is it in a collectible slab (holder).

Read Full Post »


As the economy continues to struggle with rising unemployment numbers (heading toward 10%), tight credit for small businesses, bankruptcies and housing foreclosures increasing 15% in the first half of 2009, it should be no surprise that we are also seeing the activity of the coin collecting community shift their priorities.  With less disposable income we are seeing a drop in attendance and purchases by collectors at both the local and national level at both shows and auctions. Additionally, this economic down turn has hit collectors at all financial levels.  These are certainly not surprising results, but the question a lot of dealers and collectors alike are asking is: how long will it last? 

Many dealers are traveling less (particularly between coasts) due to slow retail and wholesale sales which are primarily due to the factors mentioned above, as well as, the lack of fresh material and the presence of what are referred to as “C” and “D” quality coins on the floor.  Or, to say it another way, too much of what everyone has already seen time and time again.  Dealers are relying more and more on internet transactions to get rid of these less than desirable coins while looking for the more desirable “A” and “B” coins, and in particular those coins that have the new little green “CAC” (Certified Acceptance Corporation) sticker affixed.  

Note, the “C” and “D” coins that are selling for discounts are not good collector or investor coins for your portfolio!    If dealers and collectors are trying to get rid of this material now, they will be trying to do the same thing in twenty years.  Quality (often referred to as eye appeal) is the leading factor that dominates market value!  

It is not surprising that a number of collectors out there have slowed down, or at least put things on hold for a while.  There are also a number of collectors and dealers that are either being forced to sell their collections to make ends meet; or, they are just becoming disillusioned by the current rare coin market, jittery economy and few positive signs of a timely recovery. 

There is also a strong desire by everyone in this collectible/ investment space to establish the value of their numismatic portfolios.  Of course value is always based on quality, availability and demand, and in a down market, the inferior examples in a specific grade are just going to sit and sit and sit!  In this market, only the top tier coins, i.e. the “A” and “B” examples in any given grade are going to be the coins that will move, and probably move at a premium independent of tier price.  Likewise the more common issues are going to be less desirable and will suffer due to the lack of demand for such ordinary items.  Add to this the overall movement of the world economy and this becomes a complex issue unless you are holding bullion (for which there are daily prices, and liquidation is efficient and has a well defined mechanism).

For some collectors who have been able to put themselves in a strong cash position, this is an excellent time to purchase coins if the right gems emerge.  For example, the recent sell of the Adams-Carter Class III 1804 dollar brought half a million dollars less than it would have reportedly brought a year ago due to the current recession.  This rarity sold several months ago at the CSNS show in Cincinnati.  It sold for $2.3 million (including the buyer’s premium) and was considered by the buyer at that time to be a bargain.  Time will tell, but my best guess is that this coin will recover nicely from the current down turn simply because it is a “true rarity“.  A true rarity is important for everyone to understand vs.  series rarities such as the 1909 S VDB.

In the early part of this recession, it seemed as though the casual (new) collectors began to disappear as the economy tightened up.  However, at this point, with the continuing problems on Wall Street, Main Street, General Motors going in and out of Chapter 11, CIT on the brink of insolvency, credit card debt, real estate debt and increased home foreclosures, we find that a lot of people who thought they were insulated from a fragile economy simply are not.  Of course Bernie Madoff made us all acutely aware of the criminal nature of some people and how cautious we all should be in the current environment with all financial investments.  Thus, there seems to be a slow methodical breather being taken by the collector base, as well as investors, until things become a little more upbeat, i.e. employment numbers dramatically improve for starters.

Remember, it started with the causal collector, then moved to the more dedicated collector and finally to the financially capable and steadfast collector.  Caution rules the moment for most.  At present, the biggest buyers of coins are coin dealers! 

Another important realization is that a price correction is taking place in the numismatic marketplace just as it has in so many other parts of our economy.  Of course we have the same problem as the other markets and that is, we don’t yet know where or when we will (or have) reach the bottom, what the recovery will look like and finally the time line of that recovery.

There are areas in this market that are doing better than others.  For example, early copper collectors seem to be holding up their area of collecting, while Morgan Dollars (particularly the common dates) and some of the more common early commemoratives are weakening.  Indian Head Cents and Lincoln Cents are somewhat slow.  Early Type (“A” and “B” coins) seem to be holding their own due mainly to their rarity due to scarcity.  This of course provides a nice buying opportunity if these are areas of interest to you and cash is available.  So, what do you buy now with confidence that your investment is sound in this down market?  You buy “A” and “B” coins that are rare due to scarcity and are always, for these reasons, in high demand.  Look for that “CAC” sticker or work closely with an experienced rare coin dealer to help you make these decisions.

The collectible and rare coin market has maintained its strength longer than most investment vehicles.  At first, it looked like rare coins were the ideal hedge against what was happening in the stock market.  However, sooner or later, just as with all bubbles, it has been forced to give back some of that rapid growth seen in the past three to five years.  There has been a lot said about foreign vs US money coming in from all over the world to purchase rare coins.  Now we see the effect of that world economy and realize the reality and consequences of what is now a world market in rare US coins, controlled by an impartial and slashing world economy.  

How long will it last?  It will last until we start seeing positive job reports at the end of every week for starts!  Look for that first and then formulate the next question!

When will collectors/investors from all positions and skill levels feel comfortable enough to re-enter the coin market once the economy begins to gain positive momentum?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »