Over 200 Years of Combined Numismatic Experience at Your Disposal.
|September 2015 Issue|
My Coin Journey, Part III
By Warren Mills
I experienced my first coin market boom in 1979 and 1980. The coin market was on fire and bullion was rising dramatically. To have this experience at a major rare coin company was unbelievable! The place was always hopping. Gold went up to $850 an ounce and silver hit over $50 per ounce. I even spoke to the Hunt Brothers on the phone when they were heavily involved in acquiring silver. It was a great experience. People were coming in off the street selling silverware and anything else with silver in it at a record pace. The line was outside the building on some days and many people were also buying at a fast pace. When folks came in and started saying “silver will crack $100 to $300 an ounce,” I knew it was time to get out of the market. The government put the kibosh on the Hunt Brothers shot at cornering silver and the rest is history. There is nothing like being at a big company in a booming market. Rare coins in some instances went up over 1,000 percent.
My next coin journey will be about the April 1980 crash!
Worst Type Set Ever
By Warren Mills
One of the many things I have learned in the coin business is to try and buy the best you can afford. If you can’t afford an MS-65 Morgan Dollar set…hello 93-S for over $600,000 alone…go with a nice original XF set or VG set; just buy the most wholesome coins you can afford. Collectors want coins with character. Original untampered with, evenly worn coins that are wholesome are much more desirable than re-surfaced over-dipped supposedly uncirculated coins to knowledgeable buyers. Be aware of the greater fool theory. If you make a mistake and find someone that knows less than you do, you can get out. However, if you hope to make a nice profit and offer coins to knowledgeable buyers, buy the most wholesome coins you can find. They will always be in demand.
Before I left for the ANA, I examined one of the worst partial type sets I had ever seen. It was a partial half to dollar type set from the 1795 half up. I imagine the original owner was operating on a budget because every coin was cleaned or damaged to varying degrees. The Barber Half alone is a case in point. With a bid for the grade of just under $200, how much do you take off for the harsh cleaning? The next grade down is $100. How much do you take off for it toning back an ugly light charcoal black? Next grade down is $38. What about the mount removed? And last but not least…the repair. I offered $20 for the coin. Even the Bust Dollar was bent. Do you know the pressure you need to bend a silver dollar? The man that brought the coins in was upset with my assessment. I even wrote out a detailed list of every problem so he could review each coin at his leisure with the list in hand. He chose to walk out without the list and said he could not recommend us. I thanked him and said I was sorry I did not see the coins the way he did. The moral of the story here is that if you don’t know coins well, at least do yourself a favor and buy them in PCGS or NGC holders. Yes, they do grade cleaned pieces and do not always Net grade them, but at least you have some marketability for what you paid. In this day and age, if early coins are not certified, chances are there could be a problem.
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.
I'm Not Going to Work Today
There's Silver Under That Dust!
By Dave Carleton
There’s a saying that goes something like, “If you love what you’re doing for a living, then you’ll never work a day in your life.” Well, it hasn’t been quite that easy. In the next several newsletters, I’m going to mention the things that have gotten me into my office each day for the last 25 years.
I mentioned in my last missive how much we liked doing evaluations. That’s because we get to meet new people every day and we never know what we’ll find in the next box or envelope (or suitcase, sheetrock bucket, or steamer trunk) that they bring to us here at Rare Coins of New Hampshire. The evaluation can meet or exceed the owner’s expectations or it may not. We certainly want the evaluation to come out favorably, as we vicariously share the outcome, whether it’s good or bad.
We hear the word provenance mentioned quite often in our business, and it is most often reserved for high-end rarities that have previously been or are owned by some numismatic luminary. In many cases, the coins that come in have been in the family for generations; I love to query the owners as to their provenance, and the stories are extremely interesting. Some stories can really set you back in your chair. One time we asked some folks that owned a large apple orchid in Maine from where their coins originated and if they knew the source of the white powdery dust that was visible on most of the coins.
The wife spoke up to say that the coins were her grandfather’s and that her husband had thought he’d be tricky by hiding the coins in the barn with the insecticide… I love it! The dust was discovered when we poured some “Junk” Silver into our counting machine. We dealt with the situation and eventually completed the multi thousand dollar transaction and the folks were kind enough to offer us $150.00 to get our coin counter cleaned. Needless to say we have to wash our hands constantly when handling some of the material that comes in but I have to draw the line if we have to use face masks.
David Carleton, a New Hampshire native was introduced to coin collecting by his father and Grandfather in the 50’s. Gold bullion speculation dominated the 70’s culminating in 1980 when focus on Numismatics returned. He became a life member of the ANA , met Warren Mills (his coin Guru) and they cofounded RCNH in 1990.
Cud – or more formally die-cud occurs when a piece of the die that strikes a coin breaks off and then strikes the coin. When the coin is struck a “void” is left which appears as a blob of metal. This usually occurs on the edge of a coin and can be very dramatic at times.
Copper spot – Most gold coins made for circulation are minted from an alloy mix of a percentage of gold and a different metal to harden the gold. U.S. coins are made from a combination of 90% gold and 10% copper. Copper spots appear when the copper toward the surface of the coin oxidizes and appears as a spot or blotchy area copper in color.
Striation – Think of striations as raised lines that often look like they are from a cleaning. These mostly happen when dies were wiped with a cloth to clean them. The field which is the highest portion of a die gets the most wiping and fine lines can be imparted on the die. These lines then appear as fine raised lines in the field of a coin. Semi proof-like 1878 Morgan Dollars are probably the most common coins with these striations.
Doubled Die Obverses Created by Rotation of a Working Hub
By Lou Roten
I am interested in learning the evolution of modern coin manufacture and thought I would take a look at how some recent Lincoln Cent double strikes occurred.
I chose the 1955 and 1972 DDO’s because they are easy to see and are examples of die rotation. The coin impression on the planchet is the sixth step in the process of manufacturing a coin (galvano or digital master, reduction to a master hub (positive relief), production of a master die (incused), then several working hubs (positive), many incused working dies, and finally the coins). The coins are produced by impressing the positive relief onto blank planchets. During the period when these two doubled die dates were produced the working dies were routinely being impressed twice, the second time after heating the working die before the second impression. The second impression of new working dies has since been discontinued. In addition, sometimes as working dies wear, some would be re-hubbed using a working hub to sharpen the lettering and devices on a used incused working die.
One possibility for a doubling is a rotation of the overstriking working hub on the working die during the second strike on a new working die or a re-hubbing of a used die. When a working hub was not aligned properly with a working die, having been rotated by as much as a bit more than a degree to a few arc minutes with respect to the original strike, the re-hubbing would produce a doubling in the working die itself, with the outer rims showing the most separation in the lettering and/or device, the center, the least. An arc minute is 1/60th of a degree, dividing a circle into 21,600 small wedges (60 minutes per degree x 360 degrees), which can explain why perfect rotational alignment may not always occur.
The increasing separation away from the coin center can be seen in the image of the 1955 double strike (the Y of LIBERTY compared to the L and the 1 and 5 of the 1955) while the evidence of a counterclockwise rotation doubling in the overstrike die can be seen with the overstrike of LIBERTY below the original strike and the overstrike of the 1955 above the original strike. The counterclockwise movement of the overstrike moves the date up and to the right, while the LIBERTY overstrike shifts down and also slightly to the right, both being below the center horizontal diameter of the coin.
The 1972 DDO shows a clockwise rotation in the overstrike die, with the LIBERTY shifted up and to the left and the 1972 shifted down and also to the left. The 1972 DDO also shows the increased separation of the lettering and numbers away from the center of the coin. The motto, far away from the center, in each case shows the largest and uniform letter separation – your high school geometry in action (a piece of pie gets wider toward the edge of the pie). The motto clearly shows the rotation directions in the overstrike die. In contrast, a re-punched date will show the doubling on 1 or more of the digits, not on the lettering or devices, and will not show any rotation sense. Mechanical / machine doubling probably will not, while doubling from die deterioration or erosion (poor man’s doubling) definitely will not show rotation.
The more common 1995 double die Lincoln cent variety is an example of a pivot doubling where the center of rotation is not the center of the coin, but near one edge – in this case at roughly 5 o’clock. The date 1995 shows no doubling. The doubling appears on the left side of the obverse in the word LIBERTY and in a part of the motto, IN GOD. (no image available).
It may take some time before mint personnel notice a problem with the strikes and retire an offending working die. The more subtle the doubling, the more difficult the discovery. A very obvious doubling will likely be recognized quickly, limiting the number of double strikes, but not before some have made their way into rolls and delivered to banks to be discovered by the discerning eyes of experienced collectors, and overlooked by those just counting coins.
Lou Roten - current adjunct instructor - mathematics / physics, Franklin Pierce University; environmental scientist; fiddler; life-long interest in collecting coins and stamps with some interruptions; very interested in the evolution of the coin making process.
Federal Judge Awards $2 Million in Coin Fraud Suit
A Texas Federal judge awarded close to $2 million to the estate of an individual who purchased over $700,000 in coins during 2011. The coins were sold by PCA Collectibles, a Long Island coin firm. The company sold coins graded by PCI, an unrecognized third party grading company which incidentally was owed by a co-owner of PCA. This individual also was a 40% owner of PCA a clear conflict of interest.
The coins were appraised at approximately $190,000 by Heritage Auctions and 26 of the 135 coins could not be graded by PCGS due to authenticity and damage to the coins. In addition to finding the companies and individuals guilty of negligent misrepresentation the judge also found them guilty of RICO claims due to the pattern of fraud.
While a case like this is rare in the coin industry it reinforces that you should always know your coin dealer and purchase coins from someone that knows coins and doesn’t just buy and sell labels.
Information for this article was found at http://www.coinweek.com/coin-clubs/coin-dealer-pci-hit-for-nearly-2-million-under-federal-racketeering-laws/
Letters from our Mailbag
Questions and Answers:
A very knowledgeable collector and part-time dealer friend wrote in from our last issue in regards to examining as many coins as possible to hone your eye for grading.
If I don’t have access to a large dealer inventory, what about auctions? He said this has helped him along with finding a dealer mentor.
Here is my answer to B.B.
You beat me to the punch because I wanted to mention in this newsletter what a great source of viewing coins that auctions are. If you hope to make coins a lucrative hobby, profitable investment or a profession, you must learn about coins and the only way is to see as many as possible. If the bourse floor of a show is intimidating or you are very conscientious about a dealers time at a show and the option of having access to a large local dealer is out, find out where a major coin show is and make arrangements to get there. Set aside a few days and register to view auction lots. These auctions are at all of the major shows: FUN, Long Beach, Baltimore, ANA, Central States, Dallas and Houston. All have major auction sales and major name sales like Gardner and Pogue. These name sales may or may not be held in conjunction with a major show.
However, if you do not have a good background in grading, take an ANA grading course or find a dealer mentor. You need to know the basics to determine if a coin is a mistake-in-a-holder, altered surface, original, low-end, mid-range or high-end for the grade. Here…a mentor is key.