RCNH Monthly Newsletter: November 2015 Issue

on 03 November 2015. Posted in News

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Over 200 Years of Combined Numismatic Experience at Your Disposal.

  November 2015 Issue

A Newsletter By:


By Warren Mills

Warren Mills

It was a time when I had about two years under my belt of amazing fun and learning about my hobby and new profession.  It’s great to truly love what you’re doing for a living.  However, I felt that I could not compromise my ethics.  The coin market peak of April 1980 was followed by a very prolonged crash and pricing adjustment.  It’s hard for a large company with huge expenses to cut those expenses all at once.  It’s like a large ocean liner making a turn at sea.  It really takes time.
At that time, I was working with some of the greatest numismatists that were ever assembled.  Now this great team was asked by their management to sell coins that were way over-graded and a poor value.  Were they to do this, this would be a compromising of their integrity.  Many couldn’t do it and left or were let go if they complained.  The company decided to hire professional salesmen that worked on commission and let the professional numismatists go.  Unfortunately, it was too late.  The ship was sinking and the new hires just picked at the bones of the carcass to fatten their wallets at the expense of customers and the company that hired them.
In 1978, I obtained my Bachelor of Science degree from Bentley University.  Now I had to decide if I should pursue my major or continue to give coins all of my effort.  I decided to take courses at Boston University’s Metro College and do coins part time.  When I left the company, I had an offer to work for Kagin’s.  I didn’t know too much about Kagin’s, so I thanked them and decided to start my own company and called it Mills Numismatics.  It was nice to work on my own, but I hadn’t acquired enough knowledge to truly make a living at coins.  I really was just dabbling in the field. 
A few months after leaving New England, Steve Ivy began calling me.  It was an honor to have a prestigious numismatist offering me a job.  He informed me that if I accepted, I’d have to move to Dallas, TX.  I told him I was not interested in moving, but I appreciated the opportunity.  It was a surprise to me that Kagin’s offered me a position and now Steve Ivy was interested.  It must have been the hand of God keeping me on the path.  So for a year and a half, I declined Steve’s generous offers to give me an opportunity and continued to dabble and go to school.  Then I began to realize that at some point the coin market would come into a new upcycle and since I loved it so much, why not get back into it!?  And what better way than to get established with another big firm and wait for the new upcycle in coins.  So at the end of 1982, off to Dallas I went for a wonderful new numismatic adventure and what an adventure it was!
What happened next was most interesting. I’ll share details in our December newsletter.

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How Does This Happen?!?
By Warren Mills

Every now and then, I still get shocked when I hear how people involve themselves with the wrong company.
We are in Southern New Hampshire and work with many clients in Massachusetts.  A new client located in fairly close proximity to us and from northern Massachusetts wanted to acquire some high quality gold coins to put aside for his granddaughter’s future.  He purchased three scarce-date U.S. gold coins from a West Coast dealer for almost $10,000, all of which were uncertified.  On his own, he sent them to PCGS for grading.  Two of the three coins sold as as uncirculated, were graded AU by PCGS; the AU coin graded XF.  The PCGS evaluation made the coins worth about half of the $10,000 that he paid. 
The unhappy owner of these coins brought this to the attention of the company from which he acquired the coins.  He was told by that company that they told him that PCGS could grade them differently every time they are sent in.  If he’d like, the company will trade his coins for a different gold piece that was an obscure variety.
I suggested, “If you do this, you may be jumping from the frying pan to the fire.  Try to find a local dealer with a great reputation that will watch out for your interests.  If you deal locally, you have the ability to have a face-to-face meeting like we are having right now.  If I may ask, how come you are coming to us now?”  He said, “Because of your reputation.”  I said, “I’m glad that you have come to RCNH.  I only wish that you had reflected on our reputation before you spent almost ten grand somewhere else.”

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1981-S Susan B. Anthony Dollar Type II Proof
By Warren Mills

This modern issue is a coin that well over 90% of the collectors that think they have one… are wrong! 
I get asked at coin shows - even by very knowledgeable dealers - if the 81-S they have by itself or in a set is a Type I or II.  I recently even looked at 10 pieces that were “certified” by a third-party grading service of which I had never heard as Type II’s that were actually all Type I’s. 
Even the 1981 sets that are considered Type II’s may only have one coin within the set that is a true Type II, and that’s the Susan B. Anthony dollar.  This is interesting because you would figure that all of the coins in a Type II set should have the Type II mint mark.  That is incorrect.
I don’t recall seeing a set where all six coins were Type II mint marks!   It’s strange that the mint was using both mint mark punches at the same time; it was a luck of the draw as to which set had the Type II coins.  In my opinion, a Type II set should at least have a cent and dollar with the correct mint mark to be considered a true Type II set.  Grey Sheet bid for a Type I set is only $3.75!  A Type II set has a bid of $225, which is 60 times the Type I bid.
You may ask how the confusion comes about.  It’s because the 1979 Proof Set also had a Type I and Type II issue.  The Type I is a filled or blob mint mark and the Type II is a clear mint mark.  It is incredibly easy to distinguish between the two types.  Now, the 1981 is a horse of a different color.  All of the 1981-S mint marks are clear.  That’s what makes it so hard.  The Type I mint mark has a rounded top and bottom with very small serifs.  The Type II has a slightly slanted straight top and large, bulbous serifs.  See the picture below.  You will notice both of the mint marks are clear.  It is also clear that if you make a mistake buying them for your collection, you could be in for a shock.  Both PCGS and NGC do a great job of identifying them.  I’m sure ANACS and ICG would, also.

Type I

Type II


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.

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The Pogue Sale Revisited

For those of you who may not be familiar with the Pogue collection, it is without a doubt the finest quality and most complete collection of Federal (pre-1834) US coins ever assembled.  Upon completion, the Pogue family decided to sell and move on to other endeavors.  The sale of the collection is to take place over two years and is estimated to bring between $150-$200 million.

Several weeks ago, the second sale took place in NY and it only comprised 105 coins.  The sale brought $26 million, which was about 30% more than initial estimates.  For those math geeks, that is about $250,000 per lot -- incredible.  What is also unbelievable is that this session contained two Gem 1794 $1 and five, yes, five Gem 1795 Flowing Hair $1 coins!

What is more incredible is the quality of the coins and the prices dealers and collectors paid for top quality.  The sale started with Capped Bust Half Dollars.  One of the highlights was an 1822 in PCGS MS-66 with spectacular toning.  The coin brought a little over $88,000.  This same coin sold in 2009 in a NGC MS-67 holder for $25,300; however you calculate it that is one heck of a profit.  Another coin that turned heads was the better of two 1795 $10 coins graded MS-66+.  This coin is legendary in the field of numismatics and has been called the finest quality pre-1800 US gold coin in existence - that is quite a statement.  The coin last sold in public auction during the Garret Sale in 1980 for $130,000.  That was a significant sum back then and could have easily bought a home.  That same coin brought $2.585 million at the Pogue sale.

What I hope you take away from this is not only the magnitude of the Pogue collection but not to get too wrapped up in what the label says on the holder.  Take, for instance, the 1822 50c.  That coin was technically downgraded by a point, but it still brought what is considered a very high price because of the quality.  Experienced dealers and collectors recognized that the coin was special no matter what the label said. The same for the 1795 $10.  It brought stupid money for a 1980 coin market, but look what it brought decades later. 
The lesson:  buy the best you can, and when it comes to top of the line coins, don’t worry so much about the trends prices.  Educate yourself and acquire the most beautiful, highest grade you can afford.

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Coin Terminology

Slider – A  coin referred to as a slider is typically an Almost Uncirculated (AU) coin that appears Uncirculated (Unc).  It may have a wonderful look and ample luster but have the slightest amount of “friction” or wear to technically not be considered uncirculated.

Branch Mint – The Philadelphia Mint established in 1793 is the original and was the only US mint until Charlotte, NC; Dahlonega, GA; and New Orleans, LA, were opened in 1838.  Any mint other than Philadelphia is referred to as a Branch Mint.  Since Philadelphia was the only mint to officially produce proof coinage until San Francisco took over this task in 1968, proof coins struck at mints other than Philadelphia are known as Branch Mint Proofs.

High Relief – Inspired by President Teddy Roosevelt’s desire to redesign the nation’s coinage to resemble the beauty of ancient coins, Augustus Saint Gaudens designed the new $20 gold coin in Extremely High Relief.  A very small number of these were struck for examination, and when it was discovered they were impractical, the relief was lowered to what we know today as the “High Relief”.  After a little more than 11,000 coins were struck, it was discovered that even those coins were not commercially practical even though they grew to become the country’s most popular coins ever.  Later, in 1907, the relief was lowered to traditional levels.  The experiment in High Relief coins was again tried with the striking of the 1921 Peace Dollar, but again it turned out to not be commercially viable and was abandoned in 1922.

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Who is Lord St. Oswald and why was he important to US numismatics?

Lord St. Oswald was the official title of a member of the House of Lords, Rowland Denys Guy Winn, and it was a distant relative, William Strickland who collected coins.  Mr. Strickland traveled to the United States from late 1794 through mid-1795 and socialized with the political elite of the time, including George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.  From all accounts Mr. Strickland was a collector of all things, including coins.  While here, he gathered examples of coinage being minted at the time.  These included cents, half dollars and Flowing Hair dollars.  On a side note, Mr. Strickland had a coin cabinet made to house his collection, which was common for the day since coin flips did not exist.  Common sense would dictate that a man of means would have a fine cabinet constructed, so Mr. Strickland commissioned none other than Thomas Chippendale to make one for him.  Can you imagine what that cabinet is worth today?

In 1964, members of Mr. Winn’s family brought a nondescript cardboard box containing some loose coins to Christie’s auction house in London.  By all accounts, the box contained some very well attributed ancient coins and a group of “foreign” American coins not thought to be worth very much; these coins were sitting unprotected in the box.  Upon examination, it was quickly discovered that the American coins were the real sleepers in the box and about 30 coins were picked out for auction.  Left behind were the ancient coins, some US colonial issues, a chain cent and miscellaneous 1794 cents. 

What was auctioned turned out to be exquisite examples of coins being minted at the time of Mr. Strickland’s visit, including: 22 GEM 1794 large cents, two GEM 1794 silver dollars, three GEM 1795 Flowing Hair silver dollars, and three GEM 1795 half dollars.  In fact, one of the St. Oswald coins - as they have become to be known - just sold in the Pogue sale for $5.5 million! What was not in the sale were any examples of Draped Bust coinage.  This is simply because the mint had not begun striking these coins until Mr. Strickland had left to return home in mid-1795.

Thanks to Mr. Strickland, collectors today have been left a wonderful legacy of some of the finest products of the early US Mint’s production.

1794 Flowing Hair Dollar
image found at www.stacksbowers.com

1794 Flowing Hair Dollar
image found at www.stacksbowers.com

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Letters from our Mailbag
Questions and Answers:
A client recently purchased an 1898-S $20 Liberty in AU-58 PCGS from us.  He e-mailed us and said:  “It is very nice for a coin graded 58.  With a minor scuff in the obverse field, I would expect MS-62 to be a reasonable grade.  I’m finding that the grading services are extremely inconsistent and maybe Warren could address this issue in one of the newsletters.”

Thanks G.L., yes, grading is a science.  It is a labor of love to learn grading.  Your focal point for all coins in comparison to low-grade uncs (uncirculated) like an MS-62 has nothing to do with scuffs or abrasions.  An AU-58 has wear.  It may be slight, but it still is wear.  Here is another consideration: many MS-62 $20’s are technical sliders or AU-58’s.  If they still have nice luster and eye-appeal, an AU-58 can many times end up in an MS-62 holder.  This makes it very hard to distinguish between this and a low unc.  In fact, if your AU-58 was mixed in with a large bulk gold submission, it could grade MS-62.  As a single coin submitted by itself, it would be an AU-58.  Look for rub or friction in an almost straight line up the cheek which will also have light rub extending to the hair above the cheek.  You then have to consider that if it is an original coin, it may have “euro haze” on it, which is just dirt.  The price difference between an AU-58 $20 and an MS-62 is so close that it is not a big risk.  However, if it were a scarce date $20 or early type coin, it could be a major problem as far as the difference in value goes.
Please direct any questions you wish my way… good, bad or ugly.  I’d love to see if I can help in any way.  Email your questions to
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