RCNH Monthly Newsletter: December 2016 Issue

on 06 December 2016. Posted in News

Over 200 Years Of Combined Numismatic Experience At Your Disposal.

  December 2016 Issue

A Newsletter By:

My Thoughts On Last Month’s Interview With John Albanese

By Warren Mills

My comments and thoughts about our interview in the November issue of our newsletter with John Albanese, a founder of PCGS, and the founder of NGC and CAC.
I think it is important for our friends and clients to get my perspective on John’s answer to my questions.  RCNH has long been known as a company that buys the coin and not the holder.  We’ve always been strong proponents for collectors enhancing their grading skills and helping them to do so.  The proof has always been in the pudding.  We are aggressively pursued by the major auction companies to consign our coins for them to offer for sale.  And many clients that we’ve helped with Registry Sets and just filling in holes for their collections have told us that many of their best coins were purchased from us.  Many of our coins, when consigned to auction, have set record prices for the grade.
Please find my thoughts here on John’s answers:

Why start CAC?
John:   The reason Warren, was because guys like you and me have always bought and selected nice coins for the grade and lower-end coins for grade were dragging down the market.   Lower-end coins punished high end coins for the grade and I saw a need to separate the two so that the non-expert coin buyers could identify solid coins for the grade. 
John’s comments here were spot on.  There needs to be some standard that is recognized by any or all coin buyers that separates the lower-end coins for the grade from the solid or high-end coins for the grade.
If you have a chance to look at a major auction catalog, you will see many issues that are represented by multiple lots of the same date and grade.  Yet the price differences can be astounding.  Key series to check are Lincoln Cents, Morgan Dollars, US $20 gold pieces and US commemorative halves.  These series usually have multiple lots that are the same date and grade but prices for these coins can vary by hundreds of percent.  Low-end or altered surface pieces will go begging and may not sell.  Average coins for grade may come closer to published bid prices, but indifference to the readily available average coin could lead them to also bring a low price.  Yet a high-end coin for the grade always will shine.  Many beginners think that a white coin must be the most desirable and to a novice it may be.  But a coin that is identified as high-end is where the educated buyer will concentrate.  Now, these coins are being identified by a CAC sticker.  The work is being done for you.  Check prices in major sales for non-CAC and CAC coins and in most cases, CAC coins will command a substantial premium in virtually all series of coins.
I may not agree with all CAC stickered coins, but the concept is correct.

How is the market acceptance of CAC coins?
John:  It seems like there is wide acceptance of CAC coins and things are progressing for CAC as planned.  CAC approved coins are selling well and in many instances bringing substantial premiums.
CAC is providing buyer assurance for people that are not experts at grading.  CAC also posts bids on many coins and is happy to buy them.

John’s answer is the same as how I feel about CAC.  The CAC product is widely accepted and many coins bring a substantial premium over their non-CAC counterparts.
You can always have experts examine one coin at a time and disagree on whether a piece is solid for the grade or not, but CAC does provide buyer assurance to people that are not grading experts.
I feel that CAC does an excellent job of identifying solid coins for the grade with only a few exceptions.

What do you see the future to be for CAC?
John:  There are only a finite number of rare coins.  As time goes on, almost every relevant rare coin may be seen.  As the submissions for coins to CAC dwindle, the future focus for the company will be in making markets for CAC coins.  There will be a lower volume of grading and a higher volume of buying and selling CAC coins.

I had no idea what John’s answer would be here!  His answer made me very pleased.  There is no denying that there are a finite number of coins to grade.  For years now, PCGS and NGC have done business expanding their items to grade and working off of resubmissions of vintage coins.  Since our market and business consists of buying and selling vintage coins, you can only loosen standards so much before almost every coin graded is low-end to average for the grade.  When submissions to CAC slow, John will ramp up marketing efforts for buying and selling the CAC approved coins in the market.  At that point in time, we could see a significant price increase for those buyers that focused on high-end coins for the grade.
We recently did an appraisal for a customer that acquired 13 coins prior to CAC from us.  I recommended that we send them into CAC to see if they would receive a sticker.  Alas, no gold stickers but 12 of the 13 coins received a green bean.  Percentage wise, that’s not bad!

What series of coins has had the highest success rate of passing at CAC and the lowest success rate of earning a CAC sticker?
John:  The highest success rate, without looking at figures, seems to be in Proof Three Cent Nickels.  They are a small coin with few hairlines and nice eye-appeal.
The lowest success rate has to be with Saint Gaudens $20’s.  Better date, higher quality Morgan dollars also have a low sticker rate.

The highest rate of 3 Cent Nickels is great for the nickel collector, I guess!  However, I disagree with the amount of Proof nickel coins that CAC will approve that have a fair amount of carbon flecks.  I would weigh carbon flecks more heavily than John does.
As for the lowest success rate, Saint Gaudens and better date Morgans…that’s an important revelation.  Many new buyers to numismatics are attracted to larger size coins that have nice aesthetic appeal.  Morgan Dollars probably have the largest collector and investor base in all of numismatics!  Yet, it is deemed to be one of the areas with the highest amount of low-end to average coins for the grade.  I know just from my pursuit of looking for top-end for grade pieces for our clients, that it can take me years of searching for better date Morgans before I find a coin I truly consider as high-end for the grade.  Sometimes, I examine dozens of examples and I’m still not satisfied with a coin for our clients.
We had a buyer contact us that was just starting to assemble an uncirculated certified Morgan Dollar set and wanted us to help him.  We said that we’d be happy to!  Dave called him in two weeks with a few coins and he said “I already completed that set, now I’m trying to decide about what’s next.”  How about learning to be patient for strictly graded coins?
Saint Gaudens success rate is no surprise.  The bad thing is to realize that these coins are so over-graded by the grading services, even with the vast quantities that come out of Europe, that CAC lists them among the lowest pass rate of all coins.  How come that is so?  You have great aesthetic appeal with the design, exceptional luster, and great freshness from hoarding and yet they still don’t pass!  My answer here is due to commercialized grading.  If you want a great collection, stick with technical grading.

Why do you think that some dealers and collectors
are resistant to CAC?

John:  Dealers who have always dealt in higher quality coins fully support us whereas those dealers who only purchase a coin based price alone appear to be resistant to CAC. There is a tendency to look at CAC as the bad guy and not try to emphasize the need for solid graded coins to pass CAC muster.
Right now we are at 100% working capacity.  We’ve pulled back our marketing because we are so busy.  Our goal at CAC is to support coins that are solid for the grade and the dealers who have always dealt in higher quality coins.

Dealers that are label readers and have no technical grading expertise or believe in selling anything to make a dollar are dealers that handle commercially graded coins.  Their submission success rate to CAC by them or their clients is so low that they have no use for CAC.
Collectors that solely buy on price fall into the same category.  However, it’s different for a collector.  In many instances, they are just trying to protect themselves and pricing is one way to do it.  What they really need to do is homework.  Go to a major show and speak with dealers.  Find out how they do business. Ask about affiliations and return privileges.  Get a feel for who you may be dealing with.  Exercise due diligence before you spend a nickel.  Go to a major auction and view coins.  Don’t go to buy!  Make notes on coins and see what prices realized are.  Then ask questions of the auction house or dealers you spoke to before to find out why coins bring the prices they bring.
In this market, your best barometer for pricing is to research auction results.  In many instances, the Greysheet or Bluesheet could be misleading.

This is a sensitive subject to me.  When coins with a plus are submitted to CAC, do you just judge the coin on the whole grade point or do you take the plus into consideration?
John:  CAC only takes the whole point into consideration, not the plus.  The plus on a coin has caused some confusion in pricing.  Also, if registry points were not added to collectors chasing higher points, the plus sticker would bring a much smaller premium.   Look at a 1928-S Peace Dollar:  the spread between a 64 and 65 is so great that a true solid to high-end 64 may be worth a 10% or more premium.  But if it has a plus on it, I don’t see the value when some dealers add a ridiculous number to the price.  A 1928-S in MS-64 is bid at $750, but I’ve seen 64+ coins offered for $4,500!  Dealers in many instances are capitalizing on over exuberant Registry buyers.
CAC only posts bids for the solid point grade and in some instances, I may buy a plus coin for my bid on a non plus coin.

John left no room for doubt with his answer.  The sticker is awarded based only on the whole grade point.  The “+” or plus does not garner any consideration at all!
This answer is important.  I have seen many coins with a plus grade on it that were not as nice as whole point graded coins with no plus at all.  However, it does seem that a “+” (plus) grade coin should have some kind of a premium affixed to it.  Should it be 5 to 15%?  I guess it depends on the series; but above all, the look of the coin.  A “just missed the next grade” coin could command a high premium over a plus coin that does not deserve a plus.  I always tell people to take into consideration technical grade of the coin, eye-appeal, luster and color.  Even the placing of where a bag mark is can affect the price dramatically.  Pricing will never be an exact science, but some plus coins are priced at hundreds of percent higher than the non-plus grade just because the next grade up price may be so high.  In this case more than ever, make sure your plus coin is truly nicer than a real whole point grade or better yet, pass on the piece!

Will you ever sticker foreign coins?
John:  No, there are many beautiful and significant foreign coins that are great to collect and buy.  But I am not confident in grading them so we will stick to the U.S. issues that we grade.

John said “no.”  Not because there are no great foreign issues but, in many instances, world coins can be graded on a different scale. 
I think John is sticking to his strength here with US coins only and I agree with him.

I have a problem with CAC stickering dipped coins….why do you not hold the line on original coins and not sticker a dipped coin?
John:  I prefer original coins.  If a coin is properly dipped and has full luster, CAC  will give it a sticker if it is solid for the grade.  An original coin we are more apt to give the benefit of the doubt than on a dipped coin.  CAC will not automatically reject a coin because it has been dipped.  In order to receive a sticker the coin must have nice surfaces.

I have no problem with John’s answer here.  For me, it’s hard to admit that a dipped coin, when done correctly, can still be an appealing and desirable piece.  We preach stewardship and prefer coins remain in their original state.  However, a coin that is dipped in some instances can still be desirable.  There are many dealers that dip everything.  They don’t believe in education or the characteristics of age that make coins unique.  To me, that is a disservice to future generations of collectors that may never become educated about how coins have been stored or preserved for tens to hundreds of years.  Although to me, white is not always right, unless it is original.  But a correctly dipped coin can still be a prize in a collection.
I’ve had people call me to assist them with putting sets together for such items as circulated Bust Halves from 1808-1839 in VF to XF white coins and for help in acquiring sets of Seated and Barber coins in uncirculated to superb proof that all have to be brilliant!  In these instances, I’ve had to pass.  The odd white coin…okay, but complete sets just make me feel sad for the future of the industry.
I have been asked to contribute to “The Rosen Numismatic Advisory’s Annual Crystal Ball Survey” for this year.  I’ve already completed and turned in my answers to all of the survey questions.  This survey is a good read for anyone that has an interest in numismatics.  Maurice selects a handful of respected and knowledgeable dealers in our industry to ascertain their thoughts about the future of the coin business. 
I know you may say, “Why, then, has he asked YOU to participate?” (A touch of humor here!)  Yet, in light of his questionable judgment, I will post in our newsletter his questions and my answers to them, when he allows me to do so.  The first half I may be able to include in our newsletter next month.


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.


Quiz: Identify The Coin

Try to identify the coin based off of the close up images below.



Click To See Enlarged Image


Click To See Enlarged Image


(Answers at the bottom of the newsletter)


Is The Plastic Worth It?

By Joseph Presti

During the mid-1960’s, silver had risen to a price that made it uneconomical to make coins out of the metal anymore. The U.S. did however, allow the exchange of silver certificate paper money to be redeemed for silver dollars until 1968.  Once the dust settled, the government performed an inventory of their vaults and discovered more than three million silver dollars in storage.  Many of these were original bags of uncirculated coins and a majority were from the Carson City (CC) Mint.  No one knows why most of the coins were from the CC mint but it turned out to be a coin collector’s dream come true.

Below is a chart of what was discovered in the government vaults;



Number Discovered

% of Total Mintage in Hoard

1878 CC



1879 CC



1880 CC



1881 CC



1882 CC



1883 CC



1884 CC



1885 CC



1890 CC



1891 CC



*There were also a small number of 1892-CC and 1893-CC dollars in the hoard, but these were packaged in soft packs, which for the most part were for circulated coins, whereas the above chart is for uncirculated coins.

Prior to the discovery of this hoard, many of these CC dates were thought to be rather scarce as one can see by referencing an early Red Book.  The first sale of these coins occurred in 1972 and I have listed the 1972 Red Book value in uncirculated grade for the corresponding dates. Keep in mind that common date uncirculated coins were valued at $4.00 each.



1972 Redbook Value

1878 CC


1879 CC


1880 CC


1881 CC


1882 CC




1884 CC


1885 CC


1890 CC


1891 CC



Once the government decided to liquidate the hoard, the task fell upon the General Services Administration GSA).  These dollars have come to be known as GSA dollars named after the department in charge of the sales.  The GSA packaged these coins in soft packs similar to 40% Eisenhower dollars of the day and hard plastic cases.  If you will, they were the original third party graders.  Each hard pack came with a card with a serial number in the upper right hand corner.  The first two numbers of the serial number indicated the date of the coin, so a card that began with 82 was an 1882-CC dollar.  The hard plastic holders the GSA used were rather bulky by today’s standards, but served the purpose.  The cases were labeled in one of two ways, they either said “Carson City Silver Dollar” or “Uncirculated Silver Dollar.”  The hoard did contain some non-CC coins and these were put in the latter type holder.  These coins did come with a card that did not contain a serial number.  So if you have a card with your CC dollar but without a serial number, it is not an original card and has been swapped out at some point.

Once these GSA coins hit the market, dealers quickly discovered how bulky and cumbersome they were to cart around and began cracking them out to put into more manageable 2x2 flips.  I can remember working for a major wholesaler in the 1980s and breaking out hundreds of these coins, because you could not sell them otherwise.  Then came PCGS and NGC.  For years neither service would grade these coins in the government packaging so what choice did you have but to break them out?  All of this had the obvious result of lowering the surviving number of CC dollars in the original GSA packaging.

Getting back to the title of this article, is the packaging really worth the extra premium over that of a non-GSA dollar?  That ultimately must be answered by the collector.  Some of the premiums for the scarcer GSA dates can be as much as 100%-300% over that of a non-GSA coin in the same grade.  This reminds me of the registry coin chase, bid up a coin to unrealistic levels just because it is the top coin graded, forget about value.  Then when it comes time  to liquidate, the collector is amazed when they can only get a fraction of the price paid because no one really cares about the label, what really matters is the coin.


Scaling Back Prognostication

By Dave Carleton

I’m only going to touch on this subject briefly and that’s it.  I think I can speak for many here in New Hampshire when I say what a relief it is to have no more political commercials on TV.  We really only have one major television station in this state and it was saturated with those commercials.  The closer we got to the election, the more intense and frequent they became – then there were the phone calls from the pollsters (at least three a night), which just about put me over the edge.  That was in the evening after work. 

During the work day, I received many calls from people wanting to purchase bullion “before the election,” and wanting to know which way the metals would go depending on the outcome of the election.  My answer was basically, “I don’t know.”  And I didn’t.  It seems like every time I make a prediction on which way the metals are going, I’m wrong.  So I’ve made a resolution to try to not go there.  What I do say to the caller is that if you are thinking of purchasing gold or silver, then go ahead and get started.  My advice is usually to make several purchases over time and that, by nature, would be cost averaging.  Hindsight’s a wonderful thing and it seems so obvious looking back why gold, silver and numismatics performed the way they did.  However, when you’re in the middle of it like today, it’s very hard to predict.  The strong dollar is one wild card that I never used to factor into my buying decisions, but today it’s a huge factor.

Back in 1999, unbeknownst to us, we were recommended by a very prestigious newsletter, “The Weiss Safe Money Report.”  They had done their due diligence and recommended us as a safe place to purchase bullion.  One reason was because we only marked gold and silver up a couple percent over our cost.  They never told us of their recommendation, so we were blindsided (in a good way) with a ton of bullion orders and it has continued to the present time.
I remember one of the first calls I got when this recommendation came and at that time I was still unaware that Weiss had touted us.  The call was from a lady who stated right up front that she had no clue about buying gold, but if Martin Weiss said to buy it, then she was going to follow his advice.  I think at that time I asked her who Martin Weiss was.  Anyway, she said she wanted to make a purchase and because she didn’t know anything about gold, she was only going to “stick her toe in the water.”  So, I’m thinking an ounce or two.  She specifically wanted K-rands and wanted me to quote a buy price to her.  I remember at the time that I quoted $326.00 each.  Without hesitation, she snapped back and said, “I’ll take 300.”  I almost fell out of my chair.  I remember thinking if this is just her toe in the water, what would happen if she took the plunge.   
Now when I think back on it, I ordered 300 ounces from my supplier without having a nickel of her money.  That was 16 years ago, and my how things have changed.  I would never dare to do that in today’s environment.
By David R. Carleton

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. 


“One Man’s Junk Is Another Man’s Treasure”

By Paul V. Battaglia

This oft-quoted idiom has many other substitutes such as trash, goods, etc., but I believe my readers get the gist of it.  Upon Googling this phrase, I was presented with endless explanations as you can imagine.
Specifically, I am referring to junk silver as well as circulated copper, nickel and gold coins….sometimes heavily circulated.  “Treasure” in the actual sense of that word lies within well circulated coins that are often dateless, yet due to their being a one-year type coin, for example, reduces or eliminates many possibilities into a few or just one.  Yes, time and opportunity are necessary in addition to the owner’s willingness to permit your (obvious) cherry-picking.  One way to avoid blowing your cover is to purchase more of that known quantity instead of ONLY the cherry-picked items that your efforts have uncovered.  Many dealers place little or no time in mish-mash hoards, groupings or mixed-bag deals they acquire.  Politely asking to search through these deals can sometimes be rewarded with an affirmative reply.  (By the way, if nothing of interest to you comes as a result of your search, purchase something just the same.  After all, you took up the dealer/owner’s time and you were afforded a privilege, right?  Yes.  Good.)
The test of your integrity and honesty will come about once you present the item(s) for pricing IF they hitherto have not been priced, of course.  Most of the time the dealer/owner will give your choice(s) a hard second look.  Whitman’s “Cherrypickers’ Guide” will be pulled into the arena and/or you will be questioned as to why you want the piece(s) or what they are.  Never, ever lie.  BE HONEST, period.  Your forthright answer will often be met with a reduced price by the owner/dealer.  Most important, you will thereafter be remembered for your integrity; trust me on this statement.  I would suggest you make the purchase when a reduced price is offered to show good faith.  If a price is not offered and the piece is pulled away from you, such is the owner/dealer’s option… but that action is rather unkind in my eyes.  After all, you did state your intentions beforehand (there’s that HONESTY thing again).  I feel you earned the right to ask as to why those picked coin(s) were suddenly not for sale.  Be prepared for anything.  I have been escorted out of shops more than once in my fifty years of doing no more than intensely scrutinizing dealer’s stock.  Other owners will ask if you are a dealer, point blank, prior to looking at anything.  If I am refused service, I quickly opt and offer my wholesaler services to them instead.  This has often turned the tide since every owner/dealer also needs other wholesalers with whom they can trade/sell.  Once I established my integrity, I was thereafter then offered the privilege to look at their coins.  (Yup, there’s that HONESTY thing again).
I offer and invite my suggestions as to cherry picking these numismatic areas.  Note:  this is by no means all-inclusive or complete.

  1. 1793 Half Cent Liberty Cap, Head facing Left. A one year type, but the coin has to be a near planchet state of Poor-1 with no date and virtually no other details. Don’t laugh; I just placed our PCGS Poor-1 CAC green with a friend dealer-collector. I also recall one being cherry-picked at 1982 Orlando F.U.N. out of “a huge mess of non-descript ‘copper coins.’” The dealer probably scanned them quickly, spotted the rarity, and then just paid the asking price without quibble. Smart.
  2. Most worn, dateless (no damage) Half Cent Liberty Cap Half Cents, Head facing Right.
  3. Worn, dateless Flowing Hair Cents, Chain & Wreath reverse of 1793.
  4. Worn, dateless Liberty Cap Cents, 1793-1796.
  5. Worn, dateless Draped Bust Cents, 1796-1807.
  6. Worn, dateless Classic Head Cents, 1808-1814.
  7. Worn, dateless Liberty Head Cents, 1816-1857.
  8. Worn, 1869 Indian Head Cent….could be the coveted 1869, 9 over 9.
  9. Worn, 1873 Indian Head Cent….could be the coveted Doubled Liberty.
  10. Worn, 1888 Indian Head Cent….could be the coveted last 8/7.
  11. Worn, 1894 Indian Head Cent….could be the coveted Double Date.
  12. Worn, 1909-S Lincoln Head Cent….could be the coveted V.D.B. (I have seen a few of these coins where certification revealed an obliterated V.D.B.)
  13. Not too worn, 1917-P Lincoln Head Cent….could be a Doubled-Die Obverse.
  14. Worn, 1922, No D, Lincoln Head Cent….check The Official Red Book and CherryPickers’ Guide for specifics here as to variety.
  15. Not too worn, 1936-P Lincoln Head Cent….check Red Book for specifics here.
  16. Regular 1944-D Lincoln Head Cent….could be the “D over S.”
  17. Regular 1956-D Lincoln Head Cent….could be the “D above shadow D.”
  18. Regular 1958-P Lincoln Head Cent….could be the “Double Die Obverse.”

Now….two of my favorites:

  1. 1880 Shield Nickel in TRUE Business Strike. Authentication absolutely necessary plus prior review by experts in this field. Most challenging and (often) proves to be a PROOF.
  2. 1916 Liberty Standing Quarter….Miss Liberty’s lower gown folds (her right hand side) are markedly different than all subsequent Variety II quarters. Please, call me/us for particulars. I own five dateless 1916 Standing Liberty Quarters all picked from junk silver.

All right, do you get the gist of what I am pointing out?  The above information was gleaned straight out of my current Red Book.  This is not rocket science.  Your sound and common horse-sense will kick into gear upon a simple review of your Whitman’s “The Official Red Book, A Guide Book of United States Coins 2017”* and “Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties of United States Coins.”*  I start each and every day with my A, B, C’s because time and experience have taught me to apply the basics.  One can become daunted with rhetoric and a know-it-all attitude, thereby leading to errors that might have been avoided….or, fondly recalling the initial pleasures in numismatics when one first began….all because you hearkened back to your beginnings.
So, get cracking and open up these two basic, wholesome books.  Review your favorite series and become a professional student by embracing those “basic A, B, C’s” into conscious knowledge of an involuntary nature…like breathing, blinking your eyes and swallowing.  At the least, you will be proud of your deep love of this grand hobby.  At best, well, who can tell what each new day brings?  The possibilities are infinite and they do exist.  One final idiom… “If you watch the pennies (should be CENTS!) the dollars take care of themselves.” 
As in, “If you start with your A, B, C’s, you will reach X, Y, Z.”
Have FUN and give me a call so we can “talk coins.”


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.


The 1856 Flying Eagle Cent

By Lou Roten

I remember having a Flying Eagle cent when I was a kid. I don’t remember how it came into my possession. Most of the cents I had, including many Indian cents, came from circulation. I had a very circulated example and was happy to have it.  I do not remember whether it was ’57 or ’58 and was certainly not aware of the large letters, small letters varieties.

Recently my interest in this short series was revived with several examples passing through RCNH. I began looking up prices and found that the PCGS and NGC sites listed the 1856 issues differently. There were no prices for mint state on the NGC site. NGC states on their website that they do not recognize any of the 1856 mintage as mint state.

Oddly enough, on the NGC Coin Explorer discussion of the Flying Eagle cent, the following paragraph appears:

“Flying Eagle cents have proved enormously popular over the decades, beginning with the pattern issue of 1856. It is unclear exactly how many 1856 cents were struck, but the best estimates fall in the range of 800 to as many as 1,500 pieces. Both proofs and business strikes were made, as well as originals and restrikes. All are valuable and have been extensively hoarded over the years, the most famous hoard of which came from the estate of Colonel John A. Beck, who at one time owned 531 pieces.”

Much has been written about these coins as mint states, proofs, restrikes and patterns. The details are probably well known to many of our readers, but not to me. This brief note is just the beginning of my looking into the story of this valuable and scarce coin.


Why does PCGS recognize both mint state and proof, while NGC has what appear to be conflicting statements? Snow 3 has been graded by PCGS as both mint state and proof, while NGC does not list Snow varieties. PCGS lists some mint state examples as Snow 3 with most unattributed; then lists the proofs as Snow 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 9
NGC main listing does not list Snow die pairings; NGC Variety Plus does not list the 1856 Flying Eagle cent at all and no Snow die pairs are listed.
The combined populations listed of all varieties graded by NGC (424) and PCGS (1146) is 1570, a number which certainly includes re-submissions. Of the 1146 listed by PCGS, 300 are mint state, 846 are proof.

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.

Questions From The Mail Bag

By Warren Mills
"I enjoyed coming to your table at Baltimore and Central States to see you and Paul and get some tips on grading and have you review my coins.  Why have you decided to give up your tables and walk the floor at some of the shows?  I’m sure some of your other customers feel the same way."   B.R.
Thanks B.R.  It’s an excellent question and one to which you deserve an answer!  It’s just economics.  We could no longer justify the expense of the tables to the business we were doing from it.  Part of that is our fault.  We come in a day early for shows and do a lot of buying and selling before the bourse even opens.  My primary goal at a show is to buy coins.  We use shows as a source of replenishing our inventory.  Everything that I purchase at a show goes back to the office.  If a friend came to us at a show and said he was looking for a coin and I happened to buy a real corker, I’d sell it to him.  However, we never will price new coins we purchase at a show and put it in our case. 
When Paul puts the coin in our showcases for the show, our selection of material may be limited.  However, a large factor was how few new collectors are coming into the business to get an education about coins.  Our loyal friends and customers can always page us to see us at a show.  Yet, fewer and fewer people are interested in learning about coins.  I used to spend time reviewing coins for anyone that wanted an opinion on their collection.  We also would have dealers and collectors come by to show us coins for purchase.  Since we have always tried to buy high-end coins for grade, it became an exercise in looking at low-end to marginally graded coins most of the day.  In the end, I found a better usage of my time was in seeing dealers without the anchor and expense of a table.  Corner tables at a major show now run from $1,000+ to $2,000+ per show. 
Always feel free to contact me at the office prior to a show and I will be happy to see anyone that would like me to help or review any coins.
We will have our usual Corner Table at the F.U.N. show in January.  I hope to see you there.

We are always happy to answer any questions you may have.  So please keep sending in your questions to me directly or email  Thank you.


December Highlighted Coin

1907 St. Gaudens $20 Gold Piece 
PCGS VF-30 High Relief - Wire Edge, CAC


Click To See Enlarged Image

Click To See Enlarged Image


Talk about the quintessential pocket piece.  Most high relief $20’s that we see, believe it or not, fall into the AU-Unc. range, probably because they were so unusual for the time and beautiful a lot got saved.  This coin is striking for it’s perfect circulated surfaces.  The reason we feel this was a pocket piece is because there is zero damage on the coin that you would normally associate with circulated gold coins.  The surfaces are still a deep yellow gold and as someone mentioned, it’s a gem but someone wore $40,000 worth of gold off of the coin by keeping it in their pocket as compared to putting it away when it was new.

The coin would be a great addition to a gold type set or twentieth century set.  There are so many pluses going for it, the surfaces are very pleasing to the eye, it is one of the most popular coins ever produced by the mint, it is PCGS graded VF-30, it is CAC stickered and most of all it is affordable at $10,400.

Answers: Identify The Coin


Walking Liberty Half Dollar


Iowa Commemorative

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