on Tuesday, 03 May 2016 13:11. Posted in News

Over 200 Years Of Combined Numismatic Experience At Your Disposal.

  May 2016 Issue

A Newsletter By:
Rare Coins of New Hampshire's Logo

My Coin Journey Part XI

By Warren Mills

The market upswing from 1987 to 1989 was like the Roaring Twenties of the coin business.  There were brokerage firms offering coins, but not blindly.  They were trying to discern if the coin industry was even worth the time and effort to bother with.  The coin market is so small in comparison to stocks, bonds and currency trading, that there were concerns.  If you spend a few billion dollars, you could suck up virtually the whole certified coin market in one swoop.  If they were trying to get people to diversify out of prudence, what would they do if they can’t fill the orders? 
To me, it made sense to view it as a passing fancy and stick with their strength, which they did.  From a numismatist's view, they were in a position of trusting maybe one or two suppliers.  How much due diligence and trust do you put in one or two suppliers?  Suppose there is collusion going on for pricing or some form of misrepresentation in desirability or marketability.  Their exposure wasn’t worth the time involved.  If you look at it from a risk/ reward perspective, the risk was too great to get involved with a small specialty market.
In 1989, I became very concerned about the overheated condition of the market.  It seemed that every week high grade coins, MS-64 to MS-67, were plusing 2% to 3%, which lasted for a while.   Yes, there was demand and coins were trading hands but the speculative aspect of the glory days of Wall Street was what everyone was hanging their hat on.   Non-numismatists with deep pockets were entering the market to ride the cash cow.  When I observed this first hand, I issued an all-out sell signal. 

Today, if you were to get a copy of the June 2nd, 1989 Coin Dealer Newsletter sheets, you would be shocked at how far the market has fallen.  Some issues are down over 90% from their speculation fueled highs.  Some people say that the grading was tougher, so the product was better.  Yet, in many instances, even if you were to compare an MS-66 coin at today’s pricing to an MS-65 price of 27 years ago, the differential in some maybe 50% to 90% less. 
It would have been wonderful to keep getting clients out at the top of the market.  People were pocketing hundreds of percent profit on their hard earned money.  As I stated earlier in Part X of My Coin Journey, we had a win-win scenario set up with two luminaries of the rare coin industry.  Even today, they are still influencing the coin industry.  But, alas the owner of the company I worked for thought it was too risky and even blamed me for putting the company in jeopardy!  So, we had to abandon buying back the coins and leaving people to their own devices.  This was unfortunate and left a bitter taste in my mouth.  I knew I was not long for that company and once again, the winds of change started to blow.  I enjoyed working in the retail side of the industry and I maintained a strong group of wholesale contacts that I had developed. 
So, in 1990 I moved on to what I hoped were greener pastures towards a new adventure.  I will pick up in the next issue with the last company I worked for until we started RCNH.  The 1990s were a challenging decade.

Take A Walk On The Wild Side

By Warren Mills
I am shocked and amazed at some of the things I have seen in the coin business.  In the 1980s and 90s, I was surprised at how many coin dealers were legends in their own mind!  They were conjured up by slick advertising campaigns that they paid a lot for, or split the profits with advertisers for all the leads that they sold.  As time goes on, many of these guys have made enough money and retired or passed away.  Yet, some reinvent themselves and come back around. 
In the 1980s, I remember telling clients that a dealer was running a Ponzi scheme.  For decades,  I have been threatened to be sued and worse in this industry for uncovering or telling the truth on varied perpetrated scams.  The most amount of times that I was threatened to be sued was by a dealer who was eventually shut down by the government, served the penalties imposed, came back into the business and absconded with fifteen million dollars the second time around.  Yet, he had newsletters and brokers endorsing him.  He had done more business than I’d ever dreamed of doing, but when you’re up against people that will lie to get the deal, you’re at a big disadvantage.
Even today, there are shady people that for years have ruined lives by stealing coins or going bankrupt over and over again.  We recently ran into a situation that really surprised me.  Many years ago, I told a shady dealer that I would not do business with him because of all the people he had hurt over the years.  I didn’t know if he was selling a coin to me that he may have taken from another dealer or collector.  I didn’t want that on my conscience.  A client we know has coins for sale.  He can sell them through us at the same price for a quicker payment or to the shady dealer.  We could sell the coins to another collector we know for less money than what the shady dealer would sell them for.  No, we didn’t get the deal.  The collector that owns the coins will be paid in July, I hope. 
Say what you will, but a person with a long history of ruining lives in the business should be looked at cautiously.  Even if this deal all comes together, the profit made here allows this dealer to stay around longer and potentially hurt many others over time.  This is more like the smarmy side of the industry.  It’s like Russian roulette.  You are taking a walk on the wild side, hoping you’re not the one left holding the bag.


What Else Do You Like?

By Warren Mills
I like silver dollars!  The 1794 is a wish for most people.  If you can afford it, good for you, it will always be a classic.
The Flowing Hair 1795’s have minused on the last Quarterly sheet in VF!  Really, if the grading services did not grade so many of the cleaned, altered, adulterated and then recleaned & toned back messes in holders, you’d never see these coins minus.  I love them in original wholesome VG to VF grade.  However, wholesome and original is key!  CAC will help but CAC’s strength is not in early circ type.  In my opinion they sticker many pieces that don’t deserve it.
Draped Bust Small & Large Eagles are great coins in VG to VF.  Again, with the same criteria for purchase as mentioned for the Flowing Hair issues.  I also like them in higher grades, but for the budget conscious buyers, VG to VF is safe and nice.  I like the Large Eagle in XF too!
Seated Dollars are great from VF to MS-64.  A dealer walked into my office two weeks ago with an old green holder XF coin, white as paper!  Again, concentrate on original coins and watch out for subtle damage the grading services and CAC miss.  An original coin should be pleasing to the eye.  Avoid overly dark unattractive issues.  Don’t be afraid to pay more for the sweetness of originality.  Every show I go to, I look for nice early dollars.  If I buy one or two, I’ve scored, because they met my criteria.  For every hundred certified pieces I see, I may buy one or two…if I am lucky.  Avoid 65’s, they are all the money.
Trade Dollars from VF to MS-64 are nice buys.  I do like 65s but the spread from 64 to 65 is so large that a P.Q. 64 has a lot of room for growth…. just like the Seated Dollars.
Morgan and Peace Dollars will be addressed in later issues.

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.

Coin Trivia

1. What does the small “D” next to the word dollar on the Pilgrim 50¢ stand for?

2. What is the shortest lived US coin denomination?

3. What was the first series of US coin, not to have a date on the obverse or reverse?

The answers can be found at the bottom of this newsletter

New Ownership At CDN – Good Or Bad?
By Joseph Presti

I guess the answer to that question depends on whether or not you own coins.  For those who may not know, the CDN is an acronym for the Coin Dealer Newsletter, better known in the trade as the Grey Sheet.  The CDN is a pricing publication that comes out weekly, monthly and quarterly and publishes prices for all series of coins.  They also publish a Green Sheet focusing on paper money and a Blue Sheet focusing on certified coins.  For this article I will discuss the implications for the Grey Sheet. 

Since the CDN was initially published in 1963, it was controlled by one family, and for the most part they did a fair job reflecting prices.  But, as the market evolved I feel that as a publication they did not evolve.  CDN attempted to be more reflective of the current market by publishing other pricing guides, but they did not do an adequate job of reflecting the true market.  Then, in 2015 the family decided to sell the publication and a consortium of coin dealers bought it.  To maintain an impartial view for CDN, the editor and majority owner no longer works as a coin dealer. 

This was in the eyes of many, the solution to a huge problem with the original owners of the CDN, they were not coin dealers.  While not being a dealer may seem the perfect solution to impartial reporting of prices, in reality it created a major problem.  For years, the CDN would reflect price decreases in coins at the drop of a hat, but would be loath to increase prices.  For instance, many times there would be several examples of the same coin, same grade, same date in the same auction. If there were four of the same coins in an auction and one or two examples sold for less than bid, then the next week's Grey Sheet would reflect a decline in price for that coin.  But, if a coin sold in an auction for more than the bid price, no action would be taken.  As anyone who had been collecting coins knows, there could be many reasons a coin sells for less than bid.  The coin could lack eye appeal, be over graded, have no interest, or it just slipped through the cracks, as often can happen when you have 5000-7000 lots in an auction.  But, to lower a price immediately versus not showing any increase when a coin sold for more than bid was ludicrous.  The end result was that for the last 15 years we had a self fulfilling prophecy, the coin market stunk.  For most collectors or smaller dealers not on the national circuit, just looking at the Grey Sheet would get the impression that everything was going down and no one bought coins. 

The new owners of the CDN have attempted to correct this issue.  Along with other improvements, they realize they must reflect the true market.  An example of this would be at a recent national auction, a Grant w/star 50c graded PCGS-67/CAC brought $37,500 compared to a $33,000 bid.  This is a coin with a population of five (5) and hardly ever comes to market.  For a pricing mechanism such as Grey Sheet not to reflect an actual auction sale is not to reflect reality. 

Another issue we had with the way the old ownership reflected prices, was that we would be quoted much higher prices at coin shows in relation to bid.  The result would be, we would not be able to purchase enough inventory.  How do you purchase a coin with a bid of $2000, for $2600, and mark it up 15-20% and justify it to a customer?  So, we were often caught between purchasing high quality coins at inflated prices based on the Grey Sheet bid levels, or not coming home with any coins at all.  It made our job incredibly difficult because want lists often went unfilled because we refused to buy coins just to fill orders.  We also had to consider how good a value that coin was reflective of current market levels.

There will always be abnormalities in the coin market, but to reflect a hiccup as “the truth” is not right and undermines reality.  As dealers, we hope that new ownership understands this and is on its’ way to correcting this.

Fire Up The Wayback Machine Mr. Peabody
By Dave Carleton
If you recognize the phrase “fire up the Wayback Machine Mr. Peabody” then you’re probably old enough to remember The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.  It was an animated cartoon series from the late ‘50s and early  ‘60s.  The stars of the show were a flying squirrel named Rocky and an inept moose named Bullwinkle.  There usually was a segment of the show called Peabody’s Improbable History, where an incredibly smart beagle named Mr. Peabody and his pet boy Sherman concoct a machine (the Wayback Machine) to transport themselves back in time.  They’d go back to historical events and if need be, they would alter certain things to make sure history would be correct.
The reason I’ve expounded on a cartoon show from 55 years ago is because I find myself using the expression “I wish I had my Way Back Machine“ quite often.  I had an occasion to use the expression the other day when a customer of mine gave me a "Handbook of United States Coins" (The Blue Book) by R.S.Yoeman.  It was a 1962 Nineteenth Edition.  All I had to do was open the book to any page and view the prices then my mind would ponder, “if only I had the Wayback Machine.”  But, then I got to thinking that maybe the prices that looked so inexpensive weren’t that cheap because our dollar was stronger then and we’ve had 55 years of inflation to get to where we are now.  I started to do some research to find out the relationship between the value of a dollar in 1962 and the value of the current dollar.  According to the Fed’s reports, we have had an annual inflation rate of 3.90% since 1962.  This means that a 1962 dollar is worth $7.88 in today’s money and a 2016 dollar is worth $.13 cents in 1962 money.  Armed with this information, I started to do the math to see how certain items priced in 1962 compared to their 2016 prices.  A gallon of regular gas in 1962 was $.31 for regular and $.35 for high test which translates into $2.45 and $2.76 of today’s money.  Milk was $1.04 then and would be $8.20 now.  Bread was $.21 per loaf which would be $1.66 now.  A postage stamp was $.04 and would be $.32 now.

Below I've put together a chart of a few of my favorite coins using the same appreciation formula as I did above.

Denomination Grade 1962 Inflation Today 2016 Red Book
1793 Chain Ameri Cent Fine $140 $1,150 $28,000
1856 Flying Eagle Cent Fine $325 $2,560 $9,000
1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent VF $50 $394 $1,000
1877 Indian Cent Fine $50 $394 $1,550
1893-S Morgan Dollar Unc. $250 $1,970 $120,000
1907 Saint Gaudens High Relief XF $160 $1,250 $11,000
1927-D Saint Gaudens XF $300 $2,365 $350,000
These numbers and opportunities bring on my wishes to fire up the Wayback  Machine.  If I had one, I’d probably go back to the day these coins were issued and buy them at face and if that were the case, all my coins would be Mint State 67 or 68.  Mr. Peabody….”fire up the Wayback Machine.”


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.
A Coin In Limbo
By Paul V. Battaglia

I speak of my (still) raw 1917 T.I. Liberty Standing Quarter.  I purchased this original beauty back in 1980.  At the time, I was employed at the now long-gone New England Rare Coin Galleries in Boston, MA.  The description on the coin was what intrigued and piqued my curiosity….”extremely rare with only six or so known.”  After viewing the coin I became enthralled with the possibility that it could be a matte proof.  Why?  Read on and you shall learn why I paid the original buy price.  “Hope springs eternal” and I fed my hope from the moment I laid out my after-tax dollars.
Yes, I took a shot and a huge one primarily based on just hope, for there had been precious little work done in this area excepting gold coins.  Sure, I had spent considerable time examining the coin prior to the purchase.  I had also been specializing in this series since eight years of age through my dad, too.  I had made it my business to examine as many of these coins as possible in any and all grades….especially the 1917 T.I.  However, I had no other professional mentors in numismatics with national show-based knowledge.  Outside of that, my only other reference guides were Walter Breen’s “Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins” and “Standing Liberty Quarters” by the late numismatic dealer J.H. Cline.  Everything else for me was a crap shoot. The 1917 T.I. date’s fine, razor detailing amidst one of the “busiest” numismatic designs known, was a continuous source of pleasure for me.  I kept the coin in what we know as clear food wrap for its stable, inert properties.  As you can see from our scans the coin was already well to strongly toned.  I did not desire any further deepening of the hues.  After further reflection and notes with an opinion from good friend-fellow partner in fishing-owner of RCNH, Warren Mills, plus another good friend-dealer-fisherman in Massachusetts, I put my coin aside for the time being.  This could be akin to the first stage of so-called limbo.

The 1982 Boston A.N.A. found me walking the bourse floor.  My goal was to intercept both Walter Breen and J.H. Cline for their opinions.  I found “J” first, who studied the coin long and hard with a variety of facial expressions.  Ultimately, he was perplexed by the coin’s past history and revealed much eagerness in anything else I could tell him.  He stated the coin might actually be a matte proof, yet a couple striking characteristics showed borderline business strike possibilities.  He did want to buy it, as the coin favoured it being a matte proof or at least one of the earliest first strikes he had ever encountered.  I passed on selling the coin, let alone giving a price, as my showing it to him was for solely advice.  J was gracious and more than understood my wanting to retain the coin.  However, he also asked for first shot in the future if I was so inclined to offer it.  I then showed it informally to ANACS with the nearly identical outcome as I had with J. H. Cline. Yes, “it is a totally fresh and original coin with unusually fine and stunning relief” are my ANACS notes from that time.  I was also informed they would have “no opinion” if I formally submitted the coin.  Limbo again.  

On to Walter Breen who was more than generous with his time.  I received a note from Walter signifying it had “considerably more proof or first striking qualities than any other typical 1917’s that he had seen, etc.”  Readers will please note that while our scans are of excellent resolution one does not have the advantage of being able to hold, tilt, spin, twirl or otherwise move the coin about for the "dimensionality" (my word creation here).  The inner and outer rims of my coin exhibit a 90 degree/knifelike squared appearance consistent with multiple strikings, but not entirely about the circumference. All ten toes are extra sharp, the shield and rivets are all there, inescutcheon, breast, billowing drapery folds, a rounded “apple cheek-like” knee, chiseled head features, finer features upon the right hand, all lettering, eagle’s breast feathers, crisper tips of wings and their endings, stars appear to have been first hand tooled and then set onto the field, etc.  Finally, the reeding is equal in feel and texture to our modern day silver eagles: very sharp throughout and sharp in terms of a knife’s edge.  Yet, there are subtle and not so subtle areas of this coin that suggest an extremely early business strike.  One might also say in the next breath that measures used to produce this coin (if a matte proof) were not as strict as the very few struck before or afterward.  We can only speculate, but Walter Breen’s note is enough for me.

Finally, at another national show in 2002 I pulled the coin out and had it looked at through a friend-dealer by the national services, unofficially again.  In every case, I was told it was authentic, but a “no opinion” would be assigned to this coin if submitted.  The coin intrigued everyone to say the least from my friend’s report.  Word got around about this coin at the show and inquiries were made as to who owned it, but my anonymity was there for a reason.  I put the coin back in storage and a self-imposed limbo in doing so.

What will become of my special quarter?  Well, I have not decided, but I am hardly concerned.  Our hobby is filled with strange and wonderful things both metallic and human.  I am content to see what time and its inevitable change presents us all.  I would strongly encourage your opinion, please.

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.

Where Do We Go from Here?
By Lou Roten

I collected stamps as a kid from around the world, providing a wonderful distraction as a brand new teenager during my several months convalescence at home from the effects of rheumatic fever.  The hobby provided a geography education that was not available in school, a subject which now is virtually ignored by schools; collecting foreign stamps also provided an exposure to other languages.  I learned that Polska was Poland, Sverige was Sweden, a bit of cyrillic in CCCP (SSSR), España was Spain, Magyar was Hungary, and so on.  The DDR featured scenes of workers in the fields and in factories; the Chinese featured Sun Yat Sen; African countries, many still governed at the time by European nations, offered their wildlife and geographical features, while Australia featured that (now) isolated continent’s unique collection of critters.

Another aspect of stamps was the engravers’ skill, an appreciation that developed in me much later.  The early stamps bore the fine work of hand engravers.  I discovered the bank note series had ‘secret’ marks.

The simple wonder of discovery that many of us experienced in our youth by collecting stamps, coins, or even baseball cards of our heroes, has been lost in the midst of the overwhelming volume of social media and attention to the trivial details of new, often undeserving, role models in the world of entertainment (including the business of sports), and communicating trivial daily details to friends. I do not recall thinking one wit about how much Ted Williams, Joe Dimaggio, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle or Bob Feller made in salary.  In addition, we knew little of their personal lives or, in some cases, their indiscretions.  They were the people we pretended to be in critical situations in our imaginary games.  I do not recall, now or since, having any similar fantasy imaginings of politicians, excepting perhaps Daniel Boone or Davy Crockett, but not for their brief political lives.

As a relative new comer to the business of rare coins, I have found, again, that I am attracted to the engraver’s skill and art.  As with stamps, one can appreciate a finely executed but inexpensive coin.  The historical aspect of coins is much more subtle.  No U.S. coins had actual individuals depicted on coins until the Columbian, Isabella, and Lafayette/Washington commemorative issues in the late 19th century (and only one was American), and no regular circulation issue until the Lincoln Cent.  Perhaps it took well over 100 years to rid us of the fear of creating a king.

For me, the history is in the imaginings of the times in which the coin circulated, especially coins minted during and before major events, during the gold rush, the war for Texas, the Civil War and so on.  A Capped Bust 1812 half dollar was in our inventory last week.  There is the interesting story of the minting of the 1804 silver dollar 30 years after that date because of Jefferson’s suspension of minting silver dollars with the 1804 date chosen to predate that suspension.  When asked who fought the US Civil War, many American kids have no idea.  I am tutoring (math) to a young Russian kid who knows about the Blue and Grey from his schooling in Russia!

A very important point is that my interest in stamps and coins came by influence of my grandfather, by influence of my family, not by means of any commercial factors.  It was then easy and affordable to buy beginner’s albums from Scott and Minkus, and to buy from Harris or Brookman catalogs; for a while I had approvals from Zenith stamps.  Bags of mixed foreign stamps were sold at Woolworths, providing hours of picking through and sorting (and soaking) – a learning experience – though very common material.

Where is that curiosity today?  That curiosity was fostered and supported by my family because they were interested.  In the Grey Sheet of 8 April, in a letter to the editor, the writer spoke of the situation (source of these data not given) that in his opinion for every new collector entering the coin collecting hobby, 20 lifetime collectors leave us.  The editor suggested we concentrate on the 40 to 50 year old population.  I suggest further that some of this group may now be closing in on grand-fatherhood in a few years, and that part of the strategy might be to encourage the curiosity about history in that demographic group so as they might impart the same to their sons and daughters.  When the grandchildren become part of the family, the groundwork will have been put in place.  Family matters in so many ways.  So many ‘old fashioned’ family connections have been broken.

The historical aspect of collecting is being exploited by medal manufacturers selling products that have absolutely no investment benefit at all.  When considering a purchase, think about the huge overhead burden imposed by major marketing efforts with advertising or TV broadcast costs that must be recovered.
In contrast, encouraging young people to have some interest in the history of this country’s coinage with 19th or early 20th century United Stated minted coins may yield some very positive results later on in their newly begun lifetimes.

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.

Letters From Our Mailbag
Questions and Answers:
By Warren Mills
Question I enjoyed talking to you recently and appreciate your knowledge, honesty and expertise relative to coins and the coin market.  How about an RCNH sticker system (similar to CAC) that meets your strict standards?  This would give buyers an additional “comfort” level of security that they are getting a truly original, undipped, and untampered coin.
J.S. in CA

Answer:  Thanks for the vote of confidence.  I’ve always been a proponent of buying the coin, not the holder.  If RCNH sells the coin, we stand by it.  To do it on the level that CAC does it on, is very difficult.
The founder of CAC is John Albanese, who is also a founding member of PCGS and the founder of NGC.  So, the fame of the Albanese name garners instant credibility.  This is important for dealers to sign up and endorse or use the services as well as coin dealer customer acceptance.   We just don’t have the exposure.  Secondly, CAC has a substantial retail company that they supply a lot of coins to, so they can market the product and have a large bankroll to buy and support the product by positing bids on varied forums.  Kudos to CAC for a product we’ve been espousing for, a long time.  We’ll just have to settle for one of the highest CAC approval rating of coins in the industry.  In addition, we do submit coins to CAC that we never sold to our customers.
Thanks again
and please keep those questions coming.
We welcome your questions.  So please send them to me directly or emailfor future newsletters and if you prefer, I will answer them for you privately.



Coin Trivia Answers

1. The “D” is the last initial of designer Cyrus Dallin.

2. The twenty cent piece 1875-1878.

3.  The presidential $1. The date is stamped on the edge of the coin.

on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 17:41. Posted in News

Paul and I arrived in Baltimore on Wednesday morning, the day before the show opened.  Many dealers will come in early to try and do business to get a jump on the competition.  Some will share rooms to show coins in the Hilton or the Marriott and others set up in rooms at the convention center.  Some dealers even come in two days early.  I am thinking about that for the fall show!  There are not a tremendous amount of fresh coins in the market.  So the earlier we can see coins for sale, the better the opportunity to buy.

As soon as we arrived, we dropped our bags at the hotel and started trying to do business.  Alas, it was the same as most of the shows for the last couple of years.  I’d see a coin or two of interest but the value was out of whack.  I know you have to stretch on top quality, but I also have to set a limit to protect the interest of our clients.  So we hunted and pecked and scratched out a double row box of new purchases.  It was a real battle.

Whatever happened to the days of large, fresh deals of coins breaking at the show?  There is one dealer in particular that states that they sell great coins at shows and are offered every deal in the business.  I can just tell our clients that I’m not seeing it and none of the dealers I associate with are either.  However, it’s a great time to buy coins if you work hard to find real value.  Many coins are cheap, especially 19th Century type.  Technical, strictly graded coins can be found.  You just have to exercise patience.  Commercial graded coins are everywhere, especially dollars.  I’m trying to help knowledgeable collectors assemble Morgan & Peace Dollar sets.  Before I left for the show, a longtime dealer sent me a dollar deal.  It was a pass or play at the prices he quoted.  I bought almost everything except for an 1889-O in MS-64 PCGS.  A nice looking coin but I couldn’t get over the removed spot on the neck.  He said “wow, you really look at the coins.”  I said “yes, I do.”  He said “I removed the spot before I submitted it to PCGS.”  I had to pass on a nice 1900-S in MS-64 old green holder because of P.V.C. residue.  On a previous invoice, I passed on a 1935-S Peace Dollar in MS-63 because of a large staple scratch on the obverse.  He said “I sold them all easily at the show.”  I said, “I’m not surprised,” but as you said earlier… I really look at the coins.  Label readers are everywhere and their clients don’t know the difference.

I decided to give up our table at this show!  It was strange not operating out of a home base after many, many years.  But the cost hasn’t been justified in probably 5 years.  If we sold moderns or commercially graded coins, we’d be able to justify it.  As the coin buying public ages, more and more knowledgeable collectors are disappearing.

The auction was huge…over 7,000 lots including the internet sessions.  If you had the time, deals could be found there.  I was also surprised at the lack of Pogue and Gardner coins on the market.  I’m happy to see that dealers weren’t buying these great coins and most went to new happy appreciative collector homes.  It takes a lot of money off the market for a while but it will snap back…I hope!


Best Wishes,


on Wednesday, 06 April 2016 13:31. Posted in News

Over 200 Years Of Combined Numismatic Experience At Your Disposal.

  April 2016 Issue

A Newsletter By:


My Coin Journey Part X

By Warren Mills

Did I ever tell you how much I love and enjoy the hobby of collecting coins?  I hope you can tell from my previous coin journey articles that I feel I am very blessed to work at my hobby.  I am thankful for the path of learning on which God put me, so that we can offer assistance and advice “from soup to nuts” to almost all of our RCNH customers.  I always tell people that I am still learning many things in numismatics.  There are many collectors and dealers of rare coins that specialize in a certain area or two.  We try to be more general practitioners in the field and thus have a working knowledge of many series.
From 1979 to 1987, I personally handled tens of millions of dollars’ worth of coins.  That exposure to so many coins gave me an opportunity to hone my grading skills and to gather more knowledge on many series of U.S. coins.  In 1987, I found myself back in the retail end of the market.  I was fortunate to have a good numismatist, Joe Presti, now an RCNH colleague, go to bat for me with a large retail company that had a good reputation.  I worked hard to never compromise my standards, so a firm with good standing was very important to me.  Dealing with an end user of the product was also wonderful.  Every day I was allowed an opportunity to speak with new and old customers that loved the hobby as much as I did.  It was always fun and exciting. 
Once in a while, I’d speak with a customer that had some bad experiences.  I was always determined to make a customer feel like he found the right company and to be with a numismatist whom they would have more positive experiences in the future.  One day I received a call from a career military man named Bill Edwards, a retired Lieutenant Colonel and diehard collector.  We had a good conversation, which was followed up with another one. He then called me one morning to say he was in a hotel in town and would like to come over.  I said that would be fine, so I invited him to visit. 
I had no idea that his sole purpose of the visit was to check things out at our company and gain a lay of the land.  So, for two whole days he and I sat at my desk, talked about coins, and looked at coins. He was able to observe how I conducted business with anyone whom I spoke with, talk about due diligence!  Needless to say, we had some wonderful business dealings and developed a great personal friendship.  Whenever I visited in his area, I would stay with Bill and his wife.  He even taught me about U.S. currency and gave me a great appreciation for the field.  He passed onto glory about 10 years ago; I still miss him.  That’s a tremendous added benefit of working in the retail end of coins.  Most of my customers turn into personal friends.
During 1987, we had a sizeable stock market correction and started to get calls from people that were more interested in the appreciation potential of numismatics.  Nothing is a sure thing, but with a focus on quality, good diversification and a favorable market, coins can sometimes appreciate dramatically.  It was around this time frame that certified coins started to get a lot of traction.  As more pieces entered the market, the exposure became great.  Brokerage firms started to offer rare coins in varied forms, namely Kidder Peabody and Merrill Lynch, and the coin market started to appreciate dramatically.   The years 1988 and 1989 were an incredible time in the coin business.  Common coins, like most commemorative halves from the 1920s to 1950s, exploded; 19th Century type coins were on fire and most U.S. coin series were experiencing unbelievable upside growth.
In April of 1989, I thought the coin market was overheated.  I had a weekly call-in taped message service that I would run to keep people apprised of the market.  I went to a coin show in Arizona and saw dealers fighting over how much of a percentage they would pay for coins over the published coin dealer sheet bid-prices.  Many of these dealers were new kids on the block and had no real market knowledge, but were riding an up-wave in the market cycle and were calling themselves ‘coin dealers’. 
It was at this show that I determined there was a market top.  I issued a “sell” signal to my clients, and put that on our weekly phone message tape.  It’s better to get out a little too soon than a second too late.  From my extensive wholesale contacts, I worked out a deal with a solid longstanding deep-pocketed nationally-known rare coin company that would pay us 20% over bid for any of our certified PCGS or NGC coins.  It was a perfect storm.  We could cement our relationship with all of our clients and get them huge profits as a result of their trust in us.  It was an absolute win-win scenario.  If they wanted to keep some of their funds in tangibles, I recommended 18th Century gold and silver issues, circulated to uncirculated, that were original.  This area was virtually ignored in the 1989 market and offered tremendous future opportunity. 
For about a month, it worked like clockwork. Then the owner of the company pulled the plug.  It was unfortunate for everyone.  A win-win is hard to come by and it was probably the last time we had such a dramatic upswing in the market, even up to the present time.  Then June 2, 1989, hit and the overheated market started to cool like lava that spewed into the ocean.  It stopped on a dime and I witnessed another long market downturn.
In our next newsletter, I will focus on what factors led to the market top and correction in 1989, and will continue my journey into the 1990s.


What Else Do You Like?

By Warren Mills
I love the idea of assembling a U.S. type set.  A type coin is a representative single coin from a specific U.S. series.  As an example, let’s say you enjoy the U.S. quarter series.  The 1796 is just too much for your budget and you want to keep your cost at $200 or less per coin. 
This is what you can do! 
A Heraldic Eagle Quarter would require you to stretch your budget to a few hundred dollars for a Good-4 condition piece.  You could opt for an About Good-3 for a high $200 price or even a Fair-2 for less than $200.  I always recommend trying to acquire the highest affordable grade.  If you stretch for a Good-4, you can average it down on later series to keep your cost under $200. 
The Capped Bust series is next:  a large size was issued from 1815 to 1829 and a reduced size from 1831 to 1838.  If you want one of each, a nice VG in the large and a VF-20 in the small keeps you within your budget.  Or, you can opt for just one Capped Bust type.  The Seated Quarter series, 1838 to 1891, has seven sub-types.  If you only want one piece, a nice “With Motto” in Almost Uncirculated is doable.  
From there, the Barber Quarter series, which was issued from 1892 to 1916, allows you to acquire a nice Almost Uncirculated piece here and also keeps you with your budget.  Next up is the Standing Liberty Quarter series.  The 1916 and 1917 are Type I and the 1917 to 1930 represents the Type II issues.  If you just want one, an MS-63 keeps you within budget for a Type II, while an AU keeps you in play on a Type I, if you wish both to be represented in your set.   Next up, is the Washington Quarter.  You can acquire a 1930’s issue in a superb grade and stay within your budget.
This was just the quarter series.  Some collectors want a U.S. type set from ½ Cents to gold.  Others try to acquire a complete type set with all sub-types represented.  Or you can do an 18th Century type set, a 19th Century type set, or a type set from the 20th Century.  The alternatives and selections can be determined by your budget or collector desires.  Some people even try to assemble the lowest grade type set they can find and some opt for sets in the higher Mint State grades.
I feel all coins should be selected with a discriminating eye.  I had a collector call me one time to say he was putting together a collection of Bust Halves and wanted only coins in Very Fine-20 to Very Fine-35 grades and they all must be PCGS & brilliant.  I told him that we are the wrong company for him.  We are stewards of the hobby and that I find over-dipped and washed out 18th and 19th Century circulated type coins to be an abomination.  He said, “PCGS grades them.”  I said that PCGS is in the business to make money on grading fees.  I am in the business to assist collectors with their most desirable coins and value so that they might be sold to other knowledgeable collectors in the future.  For less expensive issues, I feel that PCGS or NGC coins are fine and don’t need to have a CAC sticker.  If they are wholesome and original, they are in demand.  For coins that are $500 and up, particularly $1,000 and up, I’d recommend a CAC sticker.  If you have a long standing and deep collector knowledge of circulated type coins, it is not a must for these to be CAC’d, but I’d recommend it.
Uncirculated US type coins in MS-64 or better grade have been suffering through a tremendous downturn.  Most circulated issues are very steady and stable for decades, but higher grade issues are subject to large run-ups and corrections.   We have been in a long correction for higher grade type issues, probably for over a decade.  I feel that these 19th Century issues, particularly in the Seated and Barber series in grades MS-64 to MS-67, offer good potential.  I only recommend these issues with CAC stickers.  However, if you’re a very knowledgeable grader and just don’t like a green or gold sticker on your holder, that’s fine; however, I still feel that a CAC sticker has the potential to yield greater demand and liquidity, and the confidence factor it brings to another buyer is hard to overcome.
During the 1980s and 90s, type coin collectors were extremely active and most new buyers to the hobby started with cents, dollars or type coins.  Things have changed and the overwhelming number of modern issues has led new buyers to become entranced with them.  As knowledge is acquired, I feel that the type collector may be well rewarded.  The historic appeal alone is tremendous and many issues in the 19th Century, in solid circulated grades, can be acquired for less than $100.
A quick note on our last issue’s “Bullion Consumer Alert:” Counterfeit bullion is going to hit like a tidal wave!  More and more of it is being discovered daily.  You can’t exercise too much caution!

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.


Modern Coins, Worth Collecting?

By Joseph Presti

In my opinion, the short answer is no.  Now the explanation, when individuals come to our office for an appraisal of their “collection” and it consists of proof and mint sets, I often tell them that the quickest way to turn $1000 into $500 is to buy these items.  I go on to explain that proof and mint sets, like most collector coins issued by the mint, are in special protective packaging, and as such, survive for decades in virtually perfect condition provided there is no environmental damage.  Also, the other factor affecting value is the pent up demand for a newly issued set.  Collectors are eager to add a proof or mint set to their collection from a new year, but once that collector's need has been filled, demand drops off dramatically.  Think of it as a bathtub filled with water.  Take out the plug and the water will drain, but it takes a while.  On the other hand, an empty bathtub that has a faucet that drips, has plenty of room for more water in the drain.  The result is that once the demand has been filled, or the water has all drained out of the tub, prices go down and keep going down.  Today, I can purchase proof and mint sets for $2, that originally sold for $5 or $10 forty years ago, great investment right?  The same rule applies to the modern commemorative coin market.

When it comes to gold, silver and platinum Eagles and gold Buffalos it is slightly different.  I still would not purchase them for investment unless you feel the underlying metal value is going to rise, but do not get sucked into the top pop game that are making some dealers obscenely wealthy.  There is nothing rare about any Eagle or Buffalo coin that is issued by the mint.  Most of these coins will grade 69 or 70 without trouble.  In fact some of the larger dealers and television hawkers will have their boxes of eagles shipped directly from the mint to the grading companies for grading.   The only people making money from Eagles are the Mint and dealers.  Collectors very rarely make any money.

When a collector makes money from a modern issue it is usually by accident.  When it comes to proof and mint sets, money will be made when a variety is discovered after the sets have been issued or there is an error, again, after issue.  Some examples that come to mind are the no “S” proof sets, Wisconsin 25c with extra leaf and major varieties recognized by the collecting community.  Collectors have also made money with Eagles and Buffalos only under rare circumstances.  Usually this occurs when the mint announces an error or a limited mintage after the ordering deadline has passed.  Examples that come to mind are the $5 and $10 Eagles minted in mint state with the proof dies, these were discovered well after issue.  The 2008 proof Buffalos and the 1996 silver eagles, were announced as having lower than average mintage after the ordering deadline.  So, the collectors who were fortunate enough to buy them directly from the mint got lucky and made some money, if they sold into the craze. 

If you want to purchase these products to have fun collecting that is great, but do not buy them from the mint thinking that there is a huge score in your future.  Remember that classic rare coins are worth something because they were never meant to be saved.  As such, classic coins sell for hundreds or thousands of dollars in high grades, as opposed to a 1980 proof set that is still going to be kicking around in a hundred years in perfect condition. 


Coin Terminology

O.G.H. – This term refers to old green holder.  Some older PCGS holders had green or green/blue labels listing the date, denomination and grade. 

Generic or type gold – These two terms are interchangeable; however, there is a slight difference in the use of the two.  They refer to coins that are the most common date for a particular denomination and design.  For instance, a 1924 or 1927 $20 St. Gaudens  is a type coin, but the same date that is just average for the grade would be considered a generic coin.

Troy ounce – This is the measurement by which precious metals values are calculated and has its origins in the metric system.  In the United States, where the metric system has not been fully adopted, we still use the avoirdupois system to weigh most items.  The major difference between these two systems is that a troy ounce weighs 31.1 grams and a pound consists of 12 troy ounces.  While an AVP ounce weighs 28.35 grams and a pound consists of 16 ounces.


Ignoring It Won’t Make It Go Away

By Dave Carleton

It’s getting so you can’t open any hard-asset related publication these days without encountering an article about counterfeit silver and gold bullion. I recently received the March 21st issue of Coin World, and right on the front page is the headline, “More Fake Bars in Marketplace”. The particular hallmark this time is the Lady Fortuna 1-ounce .9999 fine gold bullion bar from PAMP (Produits Artistiques Me’taux Pre’cieux) in Switzerland.

This struck a note with me as we have a counterfeit Perth Mint bar in-house that looks very much like the PAMP bar as seen in the Coin World article. We use it for show and tell, and for comparison purposes. I believe Warren referred to it in a previous article. The unfortunate person that brought it in said that it had been purchased on eBay.

We told the individual that the only recourse we thought he had was to bring the transaction to the attention of eBay and, hopefully, the problem would be resolved. We eventually heard back from him and he said that PayPal was going to resolve the situation but not after he had gone through a very stressful process. He gave us the bar because, despite the incredible hassle he went through, he was happy that we had brought the problem to light before it could have become an even bigger problem. I don’t think eBay would have been so helpful if a year had passed before he found out the bar was a dud.

A Real Gold Perth Mint Bar


A Counterfeit Gold Perth Mint Bar


PAMP products are being reproduced, but the company hasn’t taken this situation lightly and has patented a new technology that will be available next month. They call it VeriScan, and basically what it does is that it digitally documents every bullion product they make based on the molecular topography of the surface of the item. With the bigger bars, they scan all six sides of the item. There will be an app for the iPhone and software that will become available for conventional document scanners to use for verification of authenticity.

While I’m on the subject, if you want a glimpse of what we’re (and you) are up against, go to the
Alibaba.com website (they’re the Chinese version of  Google) and type in “1 oz gold bars” and see what pops up . There you’ll find all kinds of gold plated bars that are trading for a couple of bucks or less each. They even advertise that they don’t have COPY written on them and that they weigh the same as real bars. It’s not that it is false advertising, they state often that these are fakes, and one would have to be nuts to buy one of these thinking it were real.  Who it really appeals to is the person that thinks they can peddle these things as real to anyone that’s not up to speed on this scam.

I can’t believe our government doesn’t come down hard on these companies, especially the ones that blatantly advertise that their products will avoid general authentication processes. As the metals rise from the ashes of the last five years, more and more of these fakes will make their way into the market, and more and more people will get hurt. Dealers will have to stay on the ball as this situation evolves. Remember, if someone is offering bullion at a discount, it may be too good to be true, and you know what they say about that.


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.


A Short Reflection On Numismatic Design Evolution

By Paul V. Battaglia

The United States is not an ancient, let alone old, civilization when compared to ninety-five percent of the world’s other countries.  However, we have reaped the progressive fruits of those nations’ metallic designs in our coinage.  Our population is proof positive of what eventually morphed into what we all know as “AMERICA”.  The Native Americans were first and foremost to the eyes of the Norsemen in the twelfth century.  Western Europeans followed in the last decade of the fifteenth century.  While the means of barter, trade and outright purchase/sale between the natives and Europeans was satisfied first by trinkets and items unknown to the former, eventually they figured out what was truly necessary, and needs settled into more sober/useful choices. 

Today, I am still surprised by how few people know where and when so-called modern civilization began.  Most folks will quickly toss out Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and Ancient Rome or quote Genesis in the Old Testament.  I believe it to be that ancient land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, well-nigh over seven millennia ago.  At first, I can envision raw gold, rare scents, food, water and livestock being used as a means of physical payment.  As time passed, people became lords, masters, kings and queens of their lands.  With that, their visages were imprinted upon the world’s first coinage.  Yes, crude by our standards, but marvelous and sufficient by their efforts at the time.

Our American currency is a far cry and rarely associated in the minds of most collectors today, excepting our scholarly brethren who are students of ancient coinage.  Those collectors, and most often dealers, have the advantage of seeing the full depth, breadth and scope of what the millennia have created upon all coinage, not just ours.  Many of us view a so-called crude piece of coinage with its simplistic design and fail to realize, or deny, that it had a bearing on all future coinage after its demise.

In closing, I should like to invite my customers and readers to pause an extra moment the next time they encounter any ancient coin.  Give that coin its due and full credit as to how that coin once played an active part upon the ongoing numismatic stage.  That ancient coin in your hand helped make possible the enjoyment of stylized American and World coins in your present life.

Hats off to those days of yore.

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

Questions and Answers:
Question:  Can you expand on what Certified Acceptance Corporation (CAC) stickers bring to the table for people interested in coins?  P.J. from Florida
Answer:   Certified Acceptance Corporation opened for business on November 1st, 2007.  Their business is to identify the best coins for the grade.  CAC holds coins to a higher standard.  This standard is reflected with a higher price for the coin when it is sold.
There is no set percentage amount that you can equate to the price associated with a CAC sticker or the number of coins that CAC will consider as a higher standard quality coin for grade.  Some people ask me if they are trying to identify the top 10% or 20% as being Premium Quality (P.Q.) for the grade.  However, it is not that easy.  Coins should be graded with balance in mind.  To attain a high-end or Premium Quality ranking for grade, the coin should have most of the following attributes: nice eye-appeal, strike, luster and minimal abrasion for the grade.  CAC’s fee of $12.50 per coin, plus shipping, is a bargain that can only expand the value and desirability of your coins. 
The owner of CAC wants to emphasize that they are trying to identify coins that are solid for the grade.   Are there disagreements? Sure. I have seen coins that I believe have no business with a CAC sticker, and I have seen CAC not sticker coins that I feel are rock solid for the grade.  Overall, though, I feel that CAC is very consistent with their grading.
The proof is in the pudding and all studies show that CAC stickered coins sell for higher prices on average than non-CAC stickered coins at the same grade.
So if it boils down to “to be or not to be,” I guess I’d rather “be”.  I still concentrate on the coin, not the holder or sticker, but it will never hurt if it’s CAC approved.
Thanks and please keep those questions coming.

We welcome your questions.  So please send them to me directly or through our Contact Us page for future newsletters and if you prefer, I will answer them for you privately.


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on Tuesday, 01 March 2016 15:29. Posted in News

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  March 2016 Issue

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My Coin Journey Part IX

By Warren Mills

I was not privy to the ins and outs of how PCGS came to be.  I’m sure my employer at the Rarities Group was involved in discussions with the original PCGS owners relative to the viability of an industry-accepted and supported grading service.  My job was to sell coins. 
In 1986, the industry was very active.  Martin would buy coins and organize them, and from there, I would fine-tune the coins into groups that I knew I could offer to specific market makers.  Our operation ran like clockwork.  It was stressful and exciting at all times, and it seemed like there was always a large deal somewhere to be bought and sold.  The time and effort to keep up with the avalanche of buying was very tough.  One of my colleagues would regularly step outside and occasionally throw up.  It seems hard to believe that working in the coin business could result in that much pressure.  I told him it was time to either find a new line of work or a less intense environment, and that his health was more important.
PCGS became the new game in town.  The concept was great and sounded like it should work, but we were in unchartered waters.  Originally, the grading standard was very strict.  You could have a coin that you thought was a lock MS-65 that would only grade as a MS-64.  It hardly ever went the other way that you had a lock MS-65 that went to an MS-66.  The grading was conservative and I was happy to see it that way. 
Since PCGS was so new, it was business as usual for a while, with raw coins trading easily.  However, as PCGS gained more acceptance, there was a calling from dealers for the product.  Many dealers started to post bids for PCGS coins, but it was still new.  I remember getting anxious when a dealer would hit our bid for multiple coins.  Early on, you had to accept the coin as long as it was graded.  You did not have the option of posting a sight seen bid or a sight unseen bid. 
One day, Larry Whitlow hit our bid for a few Barber Halves in PR-65.  When we received the coins, they were originally toned but not attractive.  We looked at each other and said, “How the heck do we re-sell these coins?” 
As the growing pains eased, so did the grading.  The original strict standard started to loosen up a bit.  PCGS also made it a rule to hire graders that were no longer working in the industry.  When they first started, the graders were fulltime dealers and would occasionally see their own submitted coins in the grading room!  In addition, the bidding network allowed dealers to post sight seen bids and sight unseen bids, which helped us to offer coins that we felt were more appealing.
With the acceptance of PCGS and demand for certified coins increasing, a new layer of pressure was added to find more coins worthy of certification.  Forty-hour work weeks were more like a vacation week.  It was always 60-80 hour weeks. 
In 1987, I had enough of the constant travel and high pressure.  I decided it was time to move on for my own well-being.  I didn’t want the constant high pressure of wholesale business, so I decided to step back into the realm of retail.  I could work a more reasonable schedule and actually have some time for my family.  After handling tens of millions of dollars’ worth of coins, I felt I could select the best coins from any inventory and help a client build a great collection.  So, the winds of change blew once more and I was onto a new company and venture in the coin business. 
In our next newsletter, I will focus on the  run to the mega-bull market of 1989.


What Do I Like?

By Warren Mills

I think true Red 1936 to 1942 Lincoln Cents in PR-65 and PR-66 are a good buy.  Beware of faded and spotted coins in holders.  CAC stickers a lot of them with too many carbon flecks.  In addition, beware of washed out Reds.  These coins that have been rinsed are subject to spotting in the future.  Original true Red with nice Mirrors and minimal spotting are hard to find.  I also recommend they be CAC’d.
One of my loves is the Seated Half series.  I think they are under-rated from Fine to MS-66.  Nice VF to XF coins that are original and fresh, particularly scarcer dates, are great.  Focus on any and all original pieces, especially the slightly scarcer to scarce dates.  PCGS and NGC certify too many circs that are so screwed up that they should have gone to the smelter!   A CAC sticker is not necessary on these grades but can’t hurt.  However, CAC is not strong on circulated type.  I see coins with problems that have no business with a sticker, but again, it can’t hurt.  For AU and higher grades, I prefer them CAC’d.  Watch out for over-dipped pieces with stickers.  As always, I prefer original coins.  Many Halves were used to pay down debts and for commerce overseas.   They are available to a degree, but some of the scarcer issues could be real sleepers.  A couple of dealers controlled the bids in the Greysheets for decades on Seated coins.  I hope that with a new group publishing CDN, that these coins get their due.
How about those $10 Indians?  Great aesthetic appeal and almost a half-ounce of gold?  I like Choice MS-63 and MS-64 examples, CAC only.  They are a good buy at current levels.  For the person with more discretionary income, nice dates on up to MS-66 could be a good acquisition.   If you feel the world could fall in a hole, a select group of CAC 63’s would be a good hold.


Bullion Consumer Alert

By Warren Mills
Please be aware that more and more bullion counterfeit items are entering the coin market on a daily basis!  The PNG (Professional Numismatist Guild) sent over an alert this week about a dealer buying (200) one-ounce silver layered copper bars.  The workmanship was exceptional.  These bars were mixed assayers from Engelhard to Apmex, but they were all top-quality fakes with many assay names.
We recently saw a Perth Mint gold bar with the certificate and all outer packaging that turned out to be fake!  Every few weeks Coin World or Numismatic News has a counterfeit alert coming through.  Even American Eagles are subject to this awful growing problem. 
We acquire all of our bullion from long standing top-notch market makers with decades of experience.  Our belief of servicing our clients with the most fairly priced bullion is important to us.  Every day, we hear people wanting to buy bullion for the cheapest price.  I once lost a $10,000 deal for $10.  I explained the ins and outs, and spent a half hour giving tips on deliverable quality and other important bullion facts.  My follow-up call resulted in how I found out that the customer went elsewhere.  It was funny because my price was better initially, but the dealer asked what we quoted the client, and when the client told him, he undercut us by $10.  The funny thing was that our shipping cost was $10 less.  I educated this client, but lost a deal to someone who only spent two minutes on the phone to fill an order.  I mention this story for one reason; most bullion buyers just want the cheapest price possible, period!
This attitude is going to serve perfectly for crooks to sell gold and silver bullion for what seems like a cheap price.  Many people buy over the internet specifically to find bullion deals; the lower the cost, the happier the buyer.  They don’t realize they are setting themselves up for a problem in the future.  It’s just starting, but we are only in the beginning stage of an epidemic.  We are buying state of the art testing machines and, if necessary, old fashioned acid testing to protect our clients and ourselves. 
Years ago, people would acquire U.S. gold in the Middle East and think they were making a killing.  When they found out the gold was fake, they felt as if they were killed.  Rest assured that this is a problem that will spread like wildfire.
Here are my recommendations:

  1. Only do business with long standing reputable dealers.  Aside from our normal numismatic affiliations, since 1991, RCNH has also been a PNG Accredited Precious Metals Dealer (APMD) member -- one of only 50 or so such dealers in the world.
  2. Don’t buy any bullion over the internet.  It isn’t all bad, but in time as this plague rears its ugly head, more and more people will be looking for outlets to get rid of their mistakes.
  3. Buy bullion that is harder to counterfeit.  At this time, I only recommend circulated junk silver coins.  They are just not worth the effort to counterfeit.  In the future, the premium for junk silver will skyrocket.  These coins are pre-1965 10c, 25c, and 50c.  I also like silver dollars; however, I have seen counterfeits….so refer to recommendation #1.  I always like American Eagles, but the future counterfeiters may hurt them.
  4. Consider certifying your bullion gold.  It’s cheap insurance and assures you of liquidity.  We are speaking with the services about offering a genuine slab for bullion at a reduced price.  My hope is that the service will be less than $10 per coin and hopefully for a group closer to $5 per.

This issue will be addressed more in the future.  For now, I urge caution.  Be smart about with whom and what you are dealing.  I don’t mean to be Chicken Little, but I am deeply concerned.

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.


Pogue Sale III – Aberration Or Predictor?

By Joseph Presti

The Pogue Sale Part III was recently held in New York City and there were certainly some interesting observations to come from it.  The sale like the previous two, contained a small number of lots but the coins were of extreme quality and rarity.  Pre-1800 half cents, 1793 large cents, Capped Bust dimes, Bust half dollars dated from 1823-1836, Three Dollar Gold and Half Eagles ($5 coins) dated from 1807-1820 were included in this sale.

I spoke with several attendees and buyers who were at the auction and the conclusion from experienced dealers was that there were definitely some bargains to be had.  Bargain is obviously a relative term.  In the previous two sales there were several coins to break the $1 MM mark, this auction did not have a single lot enter that lofty club.  This is not to say that every auction must have some coins that break the million dollar mark and certainly some of the coins in Pogue I and II were rarer than coins in Pogue III and warranted those high prices.

Some of the coins brought prices that were considered fair, while others brought significantly above what dealers would consider reasonable.  Two coins of particular note that most thought would and should have brought more than $1MM were the 1793 Chain cent in MS-65 RB and the 1815 $5 in MS-65.  The consensus is that people attending the sale were stunned when these coins sold for what they did and in the case of the 1793 Chain cent, it was reported that the buyer turned down a $150,000 profit after he purchased the coin!  Another dealer with whom I spoke told me that he spent a little over $1 MM spread over eight or nine coins and all but one sold within a week.

There is much speculation about why there were some coins that sold for substantially less than their presale estimates.  Some say the coin market has been in a correction for the last year, others say it was the “perfect storm” of the stock market taking it on the chin and oil prices sinking, all at the same time.  There are others who say that the Chinese and Russian buyers have stopped buying coins because their economies are in shambles.  At a recent major coin show in Germany which is the equivalent of the ANA for foreign coins and also took place at about the same time as the Pogue III sale, quite a few dealers complained about the lack of buyers and activity, citing many of the same reasons stated above for a poor performance for some lots in the Pogue III sale.

While many of us will never have the opportunity to buy coins of Pogue quality, the fact remains that high quality coins that are “all there” are consistently bringing more than what one would consider wholesale prices, and often more than retail prices at shows and auction.


Coin Terminology

Skin – When a coin is original, undipped, the surfaces are referred to as skin or original skin. 

Orange peel surfaces – Oftentimes associated with proof coins and more specifically, proof gold coins.  The surfaces of these coins will sometimes resemble the skin of an orange, hence the reference.  Sometimes mint state examples of one dollar and three dollar gold coins in prooflike condition will also be referred to as having orange peel surfaces.

Field – The portion of a coin that has no design.


Shave And A Hair-Cut....Two Bits

By Paul Battaglia

As some of my readers and customers may know, my first collecting passion was and still is the Liberty Standing Quarter series.  My dad would set his change out on the dining room table at the end of his work day.  He and I would examine all the coins together and he would encourage my collecting.  In those days, you could still see the occasional and well-worn Indian Head Cent in circulation!  I fished out my first and sole 1916-D Winged Liberty Head Dime from dad’s change, as I mentioned in an earlier newsletter of mine.  I have kept that coin in its glorious raw state.

However, I was most intrigued by the complex design of what this, my article, represents.  As has often been said, the design could also pass for something medallic and/or exonumic (my word creation.)  I love and greatly admire detail in coins as well as in metallurgy and in jewelry.  Over the years, I have assembled a few full sets of this series, all circulated, starting in FINE upward into Almost Uncirculated.  Every coin is also raw by choice.  (Yes, the keys have been checked for authenticity.)  I still enjoy handling my coins.

My first dateless 1916-P came out of dad’s change – honest!  Liberty’s lower right gown fold design is unique to that year only.

The series has rather few established varieties, though more exist as minor variations on a theme.  The KEY and true T-rex in the series is the overdate of 1918.  Authentication is de rigueur on this piece at all times!  For those who have the good fortune to own one in a raw state, I will assume you have had it authenticated whether or not it is certified.  (Certification would be a must when you wish to sell such a coin, of course.  Any buyer would expect it.)  For those not well acquainted with this variety, you need to look for the small die chip just above Liberty’s pedestal and just to the left of the lowest star upon the right side.  This is the diagnostic, but please send in your overdate just the same because there are fraudulent alterations out in coin land. 

On a lesser, but still pleasing note, last fall I located and purchased a couple of original, circulated quarters in this series.  I visited a small indoor flea market and came across a dealer who had a box of mixed 90%, tokens, medals, pins, brooches and the like.  I was able to purchase a 1927-P and a 1928-S in full date, never cleaned, for $7.50 total, short money.  The 1928-S caught my eye as I thought it was the repunched mintmark, but did not want to look too long prior to my purchase.  Heck, the price for both coins was a giveaway, regardless of the outcome. Well, I just got around to viewing them over President’s Day weekend.  I was hoping to verify “Breen-4259; CONECA:  RPM-001, URS-3. I-3 . L-3”*  in my hand.  Not this time as you can see.  The coin had enough grunge on it to occlude the underlying/primary S, which lies to the east of the secondary S.  Warren assisted me in lifting some of that grunge to better clarify this key focal area.  You see, what I did initially note was the fascinating and seeming westerly piece of the primary S’s lower outer loop.  Perhaps, I had discovered another variety or a bolder version of the initial variety??


My 1928-S Liberty Standing Quarter I found
Click here to see enlarged image


1928-S Liberty Standing Quarter Breen-4259; CONECA:  RPM-001, URS-3. I-3 . L-3 found in "The Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die varieties, fifth edition, volume II"


I would heartily encourage everyone to keep looking, looking, looking for varieties, curiosities and anomalies in coins, for there still exists an unknown quantity out there.  Your perseverance and loyalty to our hobby can still reward the faithful among us who BELIEVE.

I do welcome your comments.

*(This excerpt and scans on page 156 are from “The Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die varieties, fifth edition, volume II”  Reprinted with permission from Whitman Publishing, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.)

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.



One More Thing To Be Aware Of

By Dave Carleton

We recently received a notice from The Numismatic Crime Information Center out of Arlington Texas, along with a picture showing a grouping of counterfeit one-ounce silver bars (pictured on the right) that were recently purchased in the New York/New Jersey area. An acid test shows a copper base with a silver overlay. Over 200 counterfeit bars had been passed.

This image came from The Numismatic Crime Information Center out of Arlington Texas

We have been aware of this problem for years and a few of us have taken counterfeit detection courses at the American Numismatic Association (ANA) in Colorado Springs, Colorado. However, those classes were primarily for numismatic counterfeits and not so much for modern bullion coins.

The article sparked a call to action and we held a meeting at RCNH to discuss the problem and how we plan on dealing with it as we’re sure it will only get amplified over time. One item that was discussed was that we need to leave the buying to the buyers. Sometimes, when one of our numismatists has a customer coming in with bullion-related material, he or she will get buy prices from one of our buyers so that they can personally assist the customer. This has to change because there are too many potential traps in which to fall for the people that don’t buy on a regular basis.
I was reminded at the meeting of a transaction I did quite a few years ago when a person with whom I had done very limited business came in with one hundred one-ounce Maple Leafs. He told me that he had a fire at his place of business and that the coins survived because they were in a safe. As I reviewed the coins, it was obvious that they had been in a fire because they were dingy, dark and smoky. I called our bullion supplier and told them about the condition of the coins as I assumed they would discount their buy price, which they did. At that time I confirmed the transaction at $1,010 each. We only make 1% on Gold when we sell and 1% when we buy, so I wrote a check to the gentleman for $100,000 Dollars and he was on his way.
Shortly after he left, Joe Presti, one of our buyers, came in and I told him about the purchase I had just made. I didn’t expect him to do cartwheels, but when I told him about the fire and he saw the coins, his look of disapproval was evident. He picked up one of the ounces and balanced it on the tip of his finger and then tapped the side of the coin with a pencil. I’ve done this before and when everything is in order, the sound is a very nice ping. Well, when Joe hit the coin, all we heard was a big clunk - no ping.
Needless to say, my heart sunk and I was thinking, wouldn’t you know it, I try to do a good deal and I messed it up, not to mention the $100,000. Actually it had a lot to do with the bucks; here, I’ve written a check for $100,000 to make $1,000, and we may be out the whole $100,000. I can’t tell you how sick I was waiting to get the final word from our bullion people as to their authenticity. The Maple Leafs, as it turned out, were fine and I assume the intense heat had changed the coins in a way that they had no more timber. I dodged a bullet that day, but it did finally sink in that not everything is as it seems; if you can’t tell the difference, it can be to your demise.
I leave all the buying to our professional staff as they are constantly availing themselves of relevant changes in our market, especially counterfeits. I know some of the other numismatists will be addressing this situation in their articles, now and in the future.

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.


Letters From Our Mailbag

Questions and Answers:
Question:  I have just started to collect Morgan Dollars.  With six in my collection, they are relatively common Morgan's in MS-64, all of which would retail for around $80 each. 

Where is the market for Morgan's going?  Would I be wiser to acquire a higher level, e.g., MS-65 or MS-66, and is the additional investment a smart move on my part?  For what should one be looking insofar as what makes a Morgan Dollar special, e.g., toning, frosting, etc., so as to best appreciate and enjoy their collection?
R.S., Jaffrey, NH

Answer:   I’d stick with the 64’s. They are on the lower grade for investment coins, which runs from MS-64 to MS-67. They’re affordable, beautiful, and there is less risk.
Morgan’s are the most highly collected series of all US coins.
I’d buy the most original coins that are available. Brilliant coins are fine if undipped. Light or attractively toned original pieces are also eagerly sought after. Personal preference is the rule here.
I believe that Morgan’s will continue to be highly sought after. A wholesome circulated common date is a $30 coin. To step up for an MS64 at less than $80 is a good value.

We welcome your questions.  So please send them to me directly or emailfor future newsletters and if you prefer, I will answer them for you privately.



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on Tuesday, 02 February 2016 15:01. Posted in News

Over 200 Years of Combined Numismatic Experience at Your Disposal.

  February 2016 Issue

A Newsletter By:

My Coin Journey Part VIII

By Warren Mills

It was a real blessing to be contacted by my future employer – The Rarities Group, from Marlboro, Massachusetts.  The owner, Martin Paul, heard that I was leaving Dallas to move back to Massachusetts to be closer to my family.  He was kind enough to extend a generous moving allowance and since I had no prospects, I decided to accept the position that he offered me.  The transition from retail to wholesale was quite easy.  I was shocked at how much the experience in dealing with retail clientele on a personal basis was also somewhat important on a wholesale one, too! 
Now, I can’t say it was all fun and games.  There were lean times and boom times, but once I established a relationship with many dealers, it started to go pretty smoothly.  Just be honest with people.  Don’t say a coin is original if it’s not.  If you say you have 2,000 gem Morgan Dollars and the dealer takes them, you better deliver 2,000 pieces that are all there.  So, in many ways, it is similar to a retail customer except on a larger scale.
Here’s the secret to being successful -- find the coins!  It’s the same in all coin sales.  If you are a wholesale dealer, you better handle quantities of many items.  As a retail dealer, it is similar except that you are limited by your own ethics and grading standards.  At RCNH, I only want to sell the best for the grade.  That puts a limit on our inventory and does not allow us to sell as many coins as we could. 
I wish I felt warm and fuzzy about all certified coins, but I know better.  The best thing that happened to me as a wholesaler was selling tens of millions of dollars’ worth of coins over a short time prior to certification.   I saw so many coins that it helped to hone my eye.  When PCGS started in 1986, I had a good feel for what was going to grade a certain way.  It is only by having exposure to a large number of coins that you can gather this knowledge.  That’s why I tell people to find a mentor that will assist you with learning how to grade.  Then, look at as many coins as you can.  Try to get to the larger shows and pore through boxes of auction lots.  Then, graduate to the bourse floor and find dealers that will answer questions “honestly” and, before you know it, you’re building a great collection.
I was fortunate to work for a very knowledgeable and under-rated numismatist, Martin Paul.  He had a strong knowledge in coins from poor to superb uncirculated, and he was a vacuum for buying large deals.  These deals had everything from soup to nuts, and from there, it was a matter of organizing them and selling them to the right buyers.
Once again, the winds of change were blowing, and I was on the cusp of witnessing the advent of certified coins.  Oh sure, ANACS authenticated and graded coins, but they did not have the dealer support network that PCGS put in place to assure acceptance of their product nationally and, eventually, worldwide.  I will expound on my experiences of the birth of PCGS and a new technology for trading in coins in our next issue of “The Rare Coin Enthusiast”.

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“So What’s Hot?” or - in this Market - “What do you Like?”

By Warren Mills
That’s a question that I often get asked.  I just came back from the Florida United Numismatists (F.U.N.) Show in Tampa, Florida, and I was keying in on a few series that I currently like.  First, Walking Liberty Halves….talk about coins that seem cheap, they are well off of their old price highs and seem to be good buys from circulated to gem uncirculated in 1916 to 1933-S.  Watch out for certified circs. that are cleaned and uncs. that have negative toning.  I know a large market has sprung up for most of these issues in AU-58, but I’d rather focus on MS-63’s or better.  In many instances, a nice MS-63 isn’t that much more than a 58.  And they are hard to find with nice appeal.
The 1934 to 1940 issues are good buys in MS-63 to MS-66, and the common P-mints from 64 to 66.  I think the 38-D is a bit too high and I’d only buy a 1935-D with a nice strike.  That also goes for the 1940-S.  The 1939-S is readily available in MS-65 as are a few of the other dates, but on the issues that are more common, I’d focus on MS-66 or 66+.
The 1941-47 short set is still hard to figure.  I’d only buy the odd date that had great eye or price appeal.  I bought a 1941-S in MS-65+ CAC at F.U.N. because the strike was superb.  Check out the 1947 P&D, a 66 is very cheap but a 67 is 10 times more!  I’d focus in on a superb 66 or a 66+.  Look at how cheap the S-mints are now in 65 or 66 grade.  A 1946-S in 66+ seems like a strong buy at around $300.  I only buy MS-67’s in the short set if there is a 67+ shot.  I wouldn’t load up on speculation here, but if you were considering assembling a set by date, the timing seems good.
As soon as I stepped on the bourse at F.U.N., I went to the ultimate market makers table and asked to see all their Walkers.  I was hoping to buy 50 to 100 pieces.  Their stock was nearly gone.  I asked what happened because they usually have multiple double row boxes of Walkers to go through.  They said they sold most of their inventory to raise cash.  So, I hunt and pecked the rest of the show and came up with a dozen or so.  The short set, in particular, is readily available in over-dipped MS-65 to MS-68.  So focus on original roll fresh or attractively toned coins.  Dipped white coins have ruined many series, especially commemoratives.  The over-supply of washed-out, stripped, high grade pieces, has relegated many series to afterthought status.  CAC stickers many dipped pieces, so be picky.
I still like Dollars and, especially, Morgans.  Original scarcer date circs. of the better dates are tougher to find.  The allowances the grading services make by certifying so many cleaned or altered surface examples is hurting all circ. type issues.   I again would focus on dates that everyone needs or are big spread coins.  CAC is preferred, but I do not agree with CAC-ing commercially acceptable coins and would concentrate on original MS-63 or 64 coins with big spreads and pretty MS-66’s for common dates.
Where have all the CAC 64 Saints gone?  I know gold is cheap, but come on!  I go to a major show and buy one piece.  I like the large amount of gold in a Saint, along with the nice eye appeal.  Something to keep in mind -- commercial MS-65’s are bid so cheaply now that it may start to pay to buy 65’s as high-end 64’s.  Maybe CAC could sticker them with a different color to signify that the coin is not a P.Q. 65 but – in their view - a P.Q. 64.  If commercial 65’s get cheaper, a CAC 64 would be worth more!

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RCNH Exposure

By Warren Mills
Many collectors and dealers have no idea who we are.  I wish I did more to promote us, but it is so self-serving that I have always had distaste for it.  There’s an old saying, “If you have to tell me how good you are, I’m going the other way” or something like that!  Just this week in the January 25th issue of Coin World on Page 24, our 1943 Lincoln Cent struck on a silver dime is highlighted.
This week, we also discovered the second known variety of an 1856-O Seated Half, Obverse 7 and Reverse D, a very early die state as well.  Not to mention the many Registry sets we’ve help to assemble and to which we contributed.  People are still talking about the Walter Freeman collection of 3 Cent Silvers we assembled and sold for our client at the 2013 F.U.N. Auction.  The 1857 in MS-65 alone sold for $38,187.50.
I hope to be remembered as a person that wanted to act as a good steward for future generations of collectors.  We are all collectors at RCNH, and we enjoy and love our hobby.  It isn’t too much work for us to help anyone with an interest in coins.  Do we know it all?  Of course not.  Are we the best company out there?  We try!  I can say that we will always devote our time and effort to help our clients in the best way we can.

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 Treasure of the San Jose

By Joseph Presti

San Jose is a name you will want to remember, not because it is a beautiful city in California, but because it is destined to be remembered as the greatest treasure ship in history.  The San Jose was a 500-foot-long, three-decked ship with 500 individuals on board that was  sunk by the British in 1708 off the coast of Columbia and was thought to have been carrying at the time up to three-years’ worth of the annual income of the country of Spain.

Its cargo contained jewels, including emeralds, precious metals and 11 million gold coins!  The ship was part of a 15 ship armada sailing for Spain when it was ambushed in 1708 by a quicker British fleet of four ships that sank it.  Fortunately, for numismatists today, the ship sank in about 1000 feet of water and no one has been able to locate or recover the treasure until modern salvage methods were used.

But wait -- the back story of the legal battle is almost as interesting as the treasure itself.  A U.S. owned salvage group notified the Columbian government that they had pinpointed the San Jose back in 1981.  Long established modern international salvage law stated that finders split 50/50 with the country in whose waters the ship was found.  Rather than enter a long legal battle, the two parties agreed that the salvage group would get 35% with the remaining 65% going to Columbia. 

A couple of years later, the Columbian government changed the rules by passing a law granting the salvage company a paltry 5% of the treasure.  The salvage company sued in Columbia and that country’s Supreme Court ruled for a 50/50 split, which the Columbian government decided not to recognize.  The salvage company then sued in the U.S. and the case was ceremoniously dismissed. 

Back to the treasure - even if one-tenth of the 11 million coins are recovered, this would  wreak havoc in the Spanish coin market.  Since the coins were minted from gold, the conservation process could potentially restore the coins to their original condition much like the S.S. Central America and Brother Jonathon coins were restored to their original mint brilliance. 

Estimates value the treasure at a minimum of $1 billion to a maximum of $10-$17 billion, and that is in dollars and not pesos.  If these estimates prove to be true, it would make the San Jose the most valuable shipwreck ever. For a small country such as Columbia, this could be a significant source of income should they wish to liquidate some of the treasure and house the remainder in a museum built to display the treasure, which is currently planned. 

Although as of early 2016, no coins have yet to be brought to the surface, leaving possibly billions of dollars in gold on the sea floor while the court battle wages on.

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Coin Trivia

1. What was the family business for legendary collector John Work Garrett?

2. Why were arrows added to dimes, quarters and half dollars from 1853-1855?

3. What are the two different proof 1921 Morgan Dollars called?

The answers can be found at the bottom of this newsletter.


I'm Not Going To Work Today

The Wedding Gift
By Dave Carleton

Like so many other collectors, my interest in coins was cultivated by my dad and grandfather. They also collected other things. My dad collected match book covers and Zippo lighters and some very ornate cigarette cases. I was told that when my Dad was a senior in high school, World War II started and all the boys in his class were given a choice -- Army, Navy, or the Marines. My Dad chose the Marines, and I believe that was his introduction to smoking Chesterfield cigarettes and collecting smoking paraphernalia.

My grandparents were both born in 1900 and were married in 1921. My grandfather had many enterprises, one of which was his ice business. He was the ice man here in Milford for many years. The ice business was one that generated a lot of coins and my grandmother told me that one of her jobs aside from keeping the books was to roll up coins and turn them into the bank. She knew I had an interest in coins and she would tell me about some of the coins that came through her hands, but they couldn’t afford to save or collect them. Some of the coins she described made my mind race. She said that once in a while a coin would come by that she just had to set aside, but that box had turned up missing. I can only imagine what was in that box.

My grandfather had a room in the house where he kept all his fishing and hunting clothes, as well as all his guns, rods and reels. There was also a very ornate safe in there and I always felt comfortable rummaging around in it. I did most of these inspections when I was twelve or thirteen and had other things on my mind after that, and had no reason to go in there for years.

Quite a few years went by and I was visiting my grandparents in the mid-80s. We were talking about my decision to trade coins professionally and my grandfather expressed his opinion that coin collecting was a great hobby, but to make a living at it was a bit far-fetched. I could feel his concern, but it was something I just had to explore. While we were having our conversation, I remembered a small wicker basket in their safe; it reminded me of the May baskets that the girls used to leave on my doorstep on May Day. I remembered that the little basket had some coins in it and wondered if the basket was still in the safe.

My grandmother said that she was sure that the basket was still there and that it was a wedding gift and that I should go and get it and she would tell me about it.  Sure enough, the basket was still there and probably where I had set it years earlier. I brought the little basket in to the kitchen and sat with my grandparents as I opened it up. The basket was lined with red and blue crepe paper folded down over the coins. When I pulled the paper aside, there was a group of beautiful Silver Dollars. My grandmother told me that one of the common practices of the day was to give the bride and groom a bright new shiny Silver Dollar as a present and these were the Dollars that they were given.

Well, you’ve probably guessed… and you’re right. Half of the Dollars were 1921 Morgan’s and the other half were Peace Dollars. I knew the difference in value between the two coins was huge, but I didn’t want to get too excited and certainly didn’t want to get my grandparents all excited. I told them that there was value in the coins and that I could turn them into cash if they wanted me to do so. They thought that was a good idea and I left with the coins.

I had recently met Warren Mills, a real numismatist (who would eventually be my business partner), and I knew that even though I didn’t have the ability to market the coins properly, he certainly would. Back then, you could sell coins for cash and nobody made a big deal about it, and that’s what Warren did. It took a few shows to market the coins, but it got done.

To this day, I can’t help but think of how pleased the people who attended my grandparents wedding would be to know that – 65 years later – their gift translated into thousands of dollars. I racked up a few points with my grandparents and have always felt that it was fitting that they enjoy some rewards for supporting my interests.  

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.

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My Thoughts on the ’Over 81’ Date Punch Blunders
of the 1844 and 1851 Large Cents

By Lou Roten

We recently had a nice well-circulated example of the 1851/81 large cent enter our inventory (and exit quickly). Warren purchased it because the overdate was so clear, which is not always the case. The coin was submitted to PCGS and returned VF25. I found little information on the web for this variety; I did see a few inquiries for opinions as to whether the coin just purchased by the inquirer could be an example of the overdate, evidence that this feature is not always obvious.

The Red Book describes the 1851/81 and the earlier 1844/81 overdates as blunders. It is curious why the last two digits of the dates of these two varieties are both over punched 81’s. The 1844/81 in MS 64 (tied for finest known then) sold for a whopping $29,900 in a 2011 auction:  

Dates were hand-punched digit by digit in those early days, often using incompatible font punches resulting in a huge number of varieties with large and small, slanted, upright or ‘fancy’ numerals, spacing varieties and so on. It is probable that many working dies would have been prepared with the first two digits - 18 - punched first, with the following two digits left blank for the years to come.

I could speculate that there were some working dies mistakenly punched during or before 1844 with the 81 punched as if the one punching the date were thinking of a mirror image, punching the 18 in reverse order and upside down, wrongly thinking the die would produce the correct numerical order and orientation on the planchet.

The reverse order 18 may be an example of a new mint employee having his first experience preparing dies, wrongly thinking the dates would have to be punched backwards. Following on with this speculation, once his immediate supervisor saw the mistake, those wrongly punched dies would be set aside but not destroyed. The inverted punch is not consistent with the idea of a mirror image, but the reverse order could be interpreted if one does not think carefully. Facing a mirror, the right arm appears to be the left and vice-versa; however, fortunately, the mirror does not re-orient our arms from their original position on our bodies. Who can tell what the (newly hired?) puncher may have been thinking?

In the image of the 1851/81 below, the inverted 1 is very clear with the foot of the wrongly punched 1 very evident beneath the over punch. The second 8 to me is not so obviously inverted, but one can guess that it probably was. It does look slanted left to right as well. There must have come a time when fresh working dies were needed to replace fatigued dies; as an expedience, the faulty dies were re-punched to use them up, no doubt saving time, money and resources in the process.

There are a few rim ticks, but otherwise, this is a cool example of the ‘blundered’ date punch. See the expanded view of the date below.

The other 81 overdate, 1844/81 just arrived in the last week. This example is much more worn than the 1851 example and the previously punched 81 is not so evident. There is a remnant of the 8 to the upper right of the first 4; a trace of the foot of the 1 is also evident at the upper left of the second 4. Images of this example are also below. It is a nice coincidence that both examples of the ‘over 81’ date punch blunders of this period were here at the same time.

It has been fun for me to speculate as to how these two overdates may have been produced. I welcome any comments that may reveal the truth of what happened, or perhaps expand on my speculation.

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.


My Numismatic Records

By Paul Battaglia

I was born in the middle of the 19th century.  Obviously, I was analog by nature as computers were in their very infancy.  My introduction to computers was a one-week crash course in the mid-1980s; the alternative was to lose my job as the guy before me had suddenly been canned.  The man for whom I worked absolutely needed the computer for posting BUY/SELL spreads on all U.S. coins on an often immediate time table.  The new position also came with a raise.  I learned what I needed to know in a week.  I also took my newly acquired knowledge to upload my personal numismatic and exonumic (my word creation here) inventory from my paper card files.  However, I have since erased my digital files.  My decision was based on the superb job that hackers have initiated against a computer system to which many of us are now enslaved.

My article sounds a bit anti-computer, but I assure all readers that I am not opposed to the digital age.  I am fond of stating that computers are simultaneously both boon and bane, much like most network reporting.  May I also state that having both a paper card system and a digital file covers you 100%?  I also have digital scans of my material in addition to actual paper photographs.  Extra work?  Yes, but my choice.  I endured a break-in during July 1980 while living in one of the Boston suburbs.  A good part of my material had been taken out of my bank’s vaults prior to the Fourth of July so I could add a few pieces as well as review my stuff over that long holiday weekend.  Well, I wish they had just stolen my stuff outright instead of how they left my coins….graffiti on the surfaces, and I am not kidding.  My point here is that I had extensive files plus paper photographs to submit to both my carrier as well as the I.R.S.  The former made good on the irreparable damages less the deductible.  The latter took care of the percentage permitted by law back then when deductions were more generous.  Over time, I located the coins that had been ruined.  You just have to move on and put it behind you.  My extensive files did help me feel somewhat better as the monetary aspect of the loss was covered nearly 90%. 

I DO heartily recommend that you at least consider maintaining or creating a paper file and paper photograph file of your material.  Insurance carriers love and respect exhaustive records.  Don’t give your carrier any wiggle room where they can deny or reduce your valid claim. 

An old saying I am fond of voicing is, “Cash makes no enemies, so let’s be friends!” Cash makes the best deals and a lack of a receipt can often sweeten the deal further until you have to prove what you paid and without a receipt.  I always record my deals and pay by check when possible, which is, again, my choice.  I add the setting where I made the purchase, the ensuing conversation around the transaction, and other salient points.  In this way, you can more easily re-create that moment with your mind’s eye, which is to your benefit.  I lean on both my conscious and subconscious mind to assist me in recalling events, people, places and things, given the nature of my work.  “Mnemonic devices” (memoria technica) have been an ally to me in my numismatic career as well as daily living.  I am certain that you have formed your personal mnemonics, too.

A supply of carbon paper for duplicate copies is necessary and, yes, that stuff is still available.  If not, carbonless paper is fine.  You will also discover that each time you record a purchase that a different colored writing instrument will be used.  This is not coincidence whatsoever and strengthens your analog records since it is random order.

I hope that my system is of some value to readers.  I invite your comments, please.

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

Questions and Answers:
Last month, Paul wrote an article about “The Magic of Microwave Cooking”. One of our clients hid a coin in a microwave to have a spot where no crook would think to look.  His family rarely uses the microwave, but you guessed it, one day they used it and cooked their poor $10 Indian.  I had more than one person at the F.U.N. Show ask me if the story were true.
The answer is YES!  I saw it with my own eyes when the customers brought it in to ask us if we would assist him with an insurance claim, if necessary!  There even was a small thread on the internet about it!
And guess what?  It’s not the first time it has happened.  One of our clients cooked an entire box of NGC coins in their stove!  Three things come immediately to mind.  Why hide them in a place that could do damage to them?  Secondly, don’t leave the room when a dangerous appliance is on.  Third, let the pros at NCS try to save the coins.  Don’t try to get the melted plastic off yourself.

We need questions.  So please send them to me directly or email
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for future newsletters and if you prefer, I will answer them for you privately.


Answers To Coin Trivia Questions

1. They owned the B&O railroad

2. To reduce the weight of the coin, thus reducing the intrinsic value of the silver the coin was made of.

3. Zerbe, after Farran Zerbe, former president of the ANA and Chapman, after coin dealer Henry Chapman.


Memberships and Affiliations