Over 200 Years of Combined Numismatic Experience at Your Disposal.
A Newsletter By:
August 2015 Issue
My Coin Journey – Part Two
By Warren Mills
What does it take to become a professional numismatist?
I was very lucky and thankful to be hired by a very prestigious rare coin firm. It gave me the opportunity to rub elbows with some of the best U.S. coin numismatists in the world. I knew right away that if I wanted to stay in the coin business, I had to open my mind and my eyes to learn all the nuances I could about grading. Another important factor for learning was accessibility to a large inventory of coins. This allowed me time to spend many hours examining coins and showing them to top notch numismatists to get their opinion as to why a coin was a certain grade and why it may not be another grade.
Never working a 40-hour week also helped. While most people would work 9 am to 5 pm, I was in the office until 8 pm most evenings and on all Saturdays. I loved the hobby and I wanted to make it my vocation for life. I believe in respecting every person that has a question and who needs help and spending time with them. When you love something, you should be willing to pass on your knowledge as good stewardship. I will continue to elaborate on my journey in the next issues. It’s been a wonderful ride for 36 years and, with God’s help, I hope the journey will continue for many more years to come.
A budding numismatist may ask, “How the heck can I get started in the field with little experience and no large coin firms around me?” The answer is simple. Attend coin shows, large and small, and as often as possible. See as many coins as you can and ask questions of as many dealers as will give you the time. You will know from the dealer’s response to your first question if you have stumbled upon a dealer that cares about the people and the hobby.
Partner and owner of Rare Coins of New Hampshire, Inc. since June, 1990 and a full time coin dealer since 1979. Warren is a full member of the Professional Numismatists Guild and a life member of the American Numismatic Association. He was selected by the Rosen Numismatic Advisory as one of the ten leading numismatists in the country for twelve consecutive years. He was selected by PCGS and written up in their newsletter as handling and submitting some of the nicest coins they have ever seen.
By Warren Mills
When I first started attending large coin shows, the bourse was almost a place of awe. So many tables, dealers, customers and coins… it was like Wonderland. If you really want to learn about coins, start to attend.
One of the major shows I attended about 30 years ago had a gathering of four of the most noted numismatists at one of the dealer’s table. They were having a serious discussion about the authenticity of an 1893-S Morgan Dollar. Two thought it was genuine and two thought the mint mark was added! One of them pulled out a pen knife to prove the mint mark was added and struck it very hard with the knife edge, shaving off most of the mint mark and a large divot. Low and behold, it actually was genuine! He hit it at just the right angle and with sufficient force to damage a great coin that– just moments before was worth $10,000 – but no longer!
Lesson 1: Don’t get cocky and think you know it all: respect people and coins.
Lesson 2: Buy the book, learn diagnostics, and this won’t happen.
A Case For Toning
Eliasberg, Pittman, Newman, Garrett, Norweb. What do these legendary collections have in common?
Virtually every silver coin in these collections was toned to varying degrees. Some may argue that some of the toning was unattractive; others find it beautiful but the point is virtually none of the coins were white or untoned. How could you have a white coin that is 100 or 150 years old? Simple, you can’t. Except in the case of silver dollars, that were rolled or bagged long ago. In the case of the odd original roll coins, just the end coins or edges may be toned.
To understand this you need to understand toning. It is widely accepted that coins were not rolled until the early 20th century and were transported in canvas bags. These bags contained chemicals that reacted over time with the metal in coins to create toning. Additionally, coins were often stored in coin cabinets, drawers lined with felt or cloth or some kind, or stored in paper envelopes or wrapped in tissue paper. All of these methods of storage contain a common element, sulfur, which when combined with the storage conditions and metal of the coin, creates toning. Even a coin lying in a box for 150 years will have some type of toning so hopefully you can understand why it is a complete contradiction when someone rejects a gem Bust Half that is toned because they only collect white coins. Is it no wonder that when they sell that coin, they are disappointed because they discover the coins are dipped or cleaned?
Stay with original coins! If you don’t like the toning, wait until you find an original coin that you do like.
Green Bean - This is a slang term for the little green sticker that Certified Acceptance Corporation (CAC) puts on coins that meet their standards.
EAC - You will see in these initials in an auction description. This refers to the Early American Coppers (EAC) club. They often grade according to their own standards which some consider more conservative than current grading standards and others may consider less consistent.
Bagmark - Before coins were rolled they were put into bags. During transportation the coins would clang together and get scrapes and dings. These came to be known as bagmarks. Over the years this term has become somewhat generic for any mark on a coin.
Two timeless Greek titans: Chronos & Kairos.
Coins – Crossing the Gulf of Years in Our Lives.
By Paul Battaglia
My father’s pocket change once yielded a 1916-D Winged Liberty Head Dime in a solid VG on Wednesday evening, June 18th 1958. I was six years old going on seven that September when he gave me that coin.
Throughout my ongoing nearly fifty-seven years in collecting and studying coins, I have met many people. Let me also hasten to add to those meetings the truly countless coins in hand, as well as in print, that have shared my path.
Coins are far more than a medium of exchange for the channels of commerce. They effectively serve to attract people, to pique human consciousness into a higher facet of awareness, to cause wonder as to where the coins have been and why, to inspire the social-political-economic and historical ramifications, and to inspire each of us into contributing something back to the nation in which we live.
The moment – that exact moment – all of us behold a coin, any coin, as more than just a medium of exchange that we hitherto took as the sole reason for its existence sets us upon a different road. Coins free us from the restraints of “Chronos” and more into “Kairos”. Both are ancient Greek words, with the former meaning chronological or sequential time. The latter signifies a time lapse, a moment of indeterminate time in which everything happens. (Aristotle, in his rhetorical views, held Kairos as very important. Religious theology also interprets both as being dynamic.)
Time has little or no meaning when seeking out coins for pleasure and education, be it for ourselves or others. The pursuit of those coins is a yeoman’s task that we elect to place upon ourselves. We believe in our heart of hearts that time will yield up the coin(s) we seek as well as provide knowledge in that span of time… especially the knowledge that is an earned product of our patience in that pursuit.
We are content and eager to step out of Chronos and into Kairos, to put it classically. We gain a degree of fulfillment that is priceless as well as infinite. You see, the sought and found quarry is good, but the attainment of knowledge along the way is best. Both serve each other in a symbiotic manner.
My father has passed on into time, but my dime still remains with me and in its glorious raw state. Time stands still, yet it is forever expanding when that dime is in my hands.
What do coins and your “Chronos” and “Kairos” mean to you?
Paul Battaglia is the Senior Numismatist and a Life Member of the ANA. He travels with owner, Warren Mills, to the major coin shows across the country. Paul has 50+ years numismatic experience and has been with RCNH since 1990. He also cherishes reading, cooking, language, music, classic cars, lily/orchid culture, chess, economic statistics, differing viewpoints and FISHING.
Letters from our Mailbag
By Warren Mills
One of our longtime friends and client asked about my take on the precious metals market. At Rare Coins of New Hampshire, we sell a lot of gold and silver bullion as a service to our loyal clients. We also have been written up by many newsletters and recommended as a go-to source for metals because of our fair prices and no pressure approach.
So here is my answer to J.D about the precious metals market:
I feel we are still in for a bumpy ride. The next support level for gold is $1,000. I do expect it to be tested. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation and speculation in the gold and silver market that will serve to depress it further. I find it disconcerting to see metals dropping, but the supply is not increasing. What happened to the laws of supply and demand? I’m a month out on some silver orders and have actually had suppliers refuse to fill orders. Premiums above melt are increasing substantially, too!
The skeptic will say it is to protect dealers with large inventories from bigger losses, but there is no inventory in most instances. Hmmm….no supply, but prices are dropping. I define this as a manipulation play – shake out the weak hands to strong hands. If your goals are long-term oriented, price average soon. By the time everyone wakes up and decides to buy, there will be nothing in the market to buy. Gold is a monetary based metal and silver is industrial. The normal ratio historically is 50 to 1: today it is about 74 to 1. So, buy your silver where and when you can. Central banks, large institutions and countries will want gold. He who owns the gold makes the rules. I’d wait on gold for reacquisition, but I’d buy silver now!