on Tuesday, 05 July 2016 13:31. Posted in News

Over 200 Years Of Combined Numismatic Experience At Your Disposal.

  July 2016 Issue

A Newsletter By:


My Coin Journey Part XIII

By Warren Mills

We found ourselves with our backs against the wall.  I knew it was time to start a company.  I’d had enough of working for individuals that had different perspectives and objectives than mine or my customers.  Often, what I believed was the most honorable thing to do was met with incredible resistance.  I always believed that if you protect and preserve the interest of your customer, you would be doing the same for your business.  You instill loyalty by earning it! 
I can say that it doesn’t always work.  In some instances, customers get caught up in the sizzle of the presentation and not the steak, i.e., the coin.  In many cases, one is at a disadvantage if they tell the truth when others lie about everything.  Some people just don’t understand the coin business and feel every certified coin should be priced the same and that there is no difference from one coin to another.  This is refuted in auction records every week!  So, I resign myself to the fact that the customers we have are the ones we are meant to have and I’m thankful for them.
It’s now June of 1990 and we incorporate Rare Coins of New Hampshire.  Due to non-compete contracts, we had to find a source of leads and money to buy inventory and advertise.  So I took my coin collection and sold it for capital, and then acquired coins and bought leads.  I had a long background in the coin industry and I was able to negotiate a deal to acquire the customer mailing list of Joe Flynn, someone I had known as a dealer for many years, and who was retiring.  I felt good about the acquisition because he had an educated customer base and we both knew coins. 
I also acquired a partial list of Security Rare Coins customers from a lead broker.  Security was not a source for knowledgeable coin buyers, but it gave us the opportunity to work with people that needed help.  We also started to advertise in Coin World, Numismatic News, Coinage and others.  I was reviewing a copy of one of our early ads and remembered that I acquired a hoard of 1893-S Morgan Dollars, all graded by PCGS from Good 4 to Fine-15.  There were 19 coins in the hoard and they were all priced at less than a $1,000 in the ad.  Though 26 years have gone by, it’s still hard to believe that not only would those coins be priced much, much higher, but they were also original and nice for the grade.  Now you see many of these early coins or scarce dates that are commercially graded, and cleaned or altered, and that never would have certified years ago.
It was fun to get a response from an ad in a numismatic publication.  Right away, you knew you were dealing with a knowledgeable collector, which was right up our alley.  Back then, you also had people that were collecting for decades that knew that each coin had its own uniqueness and character.  Every attribute for grading was considered, not just rarity and condition; bag marks from severity and location; luster from blazing to subdued; strike from weak to full; color from pastel to rainbow… and one of my personal favorites, originality.   Add all of these factors together and you get balance. 
I have always acquired coins from a balance perspective.  If a coin has many positive attributes, but it has a small mark somewhere, I own it.  The one thing about coins is that there is always something on which to focus that takes them out of the MS-70 category.  If you have sufficient wonderful, desirable qualities in a coin, but you reject it for a minor reason, you may want to examine your criteria.  In our next issue, I will expound on our fledging experiences.

Coin Trivia Questions:

1. Name the only father/son team to be Chief Engraver of the US Mint.

2. Who donated the silver used to make the half-disme and disme pattern coins of 1792?

3. Who was the first “real” woman on a US coin?

Answers found at the bottom of the newsletter

What Happens When Coins Are Over Graded
Or Altered and Still Certified?

By Warren Mills
We have a long-standing customer that will not buy a coin with any mint imperfections, noticeable marks, specks, etc., and it must have a full strike.  I asked to examine some of his pieces to see if I can help him add to his collection.  Every coin was certified, but they were all compromised to some degree -- old light cleanings, wipes, etc.  There were no die cracks or laminations, and no real noticeable marks or carbon flecks.  Yet, give me original balanced coins every day and all day long.  None of the pieces I examined from his collection were original. 
The reason I focus on originality is because you do not have to worry about a coin changing in the holder.  About 15 or 20 years ago, there was a big dust-up in the coin industry about certified coins changing color in the holder.  The coin publications printed that it was because the holders were not airtight.  I said to anyone who asked that the airtight reasoning would be minor, if anything.  The major reason for the coins changing in holders was because of improper dip neutralizing or chemical changes or drying putty on coin surfaces, plain and simple.  Today, the services are very in tune with alterations, but they make allowances.  Now, if we can just get them to not grade so many cleaned and altered early circ type issues.  The more coins you grade that are inferior, the more you dilute the price. 
Let’s look at Early Dollars.  Customers look at pop reports on Bust Dollars and see that over 10,000 Heraldic Eagle Bust Dollars from 1798 to 1803 have been graded by PCGS in all circulated grades. That’s a fair amount if you’re looking for a type piece.  However, my guess is that maybe only 25% are original pieces.  It’s only a guess from what I have seen over the years in the marketplace, but consider that effect on pricing a series when the supply is inflated.  This also has an effect on desirability!  If you exclude the 1799, there are about 7,000 pieces available.  If 25% are original, the rarity and desirability increase dramatically.  Factor in then how strictly or loosely graded the coins may be and the whole picture changes on the series.   
Many old timers may feel that most of the XF-40’s should be VF-30 or VF-35’s.  I feel that unless a coin is blatantly over graded, an allowance for wholesome pleasing examples should be made.  I recently went to a small show and a very experienced and knowledgeable dealer had about ten early Bust Dollars. Every coin was severely compromised and some were over graded, too!  What this does is distort rarity, lessen desirability, and negatively impact pricing today and also in the future.  
For this simplified example, I did not factor in resubmission to PCGS.  If you have 10,000 circulated examples of coins that are fairly expensive in all grades, the resubmissions could represent 2,500 to 5,000 coins.  It’s all speculation, but when you crack out a coin, you have to factor in the risk vs. the reward.  If the certification fee is $50, but the upgrade is a minimum of $500, it’s worth the shot.  However, if there is a question about how original a coin is and you crack it out, if it “no grades,” your risk goes through the roof.  That is one reason why originality is so important to me.  It protects our clients and if we consign wholesome coins to an auction for our clients, we know knowledgeable buyers will key in on them.  Many coins that we have consigned for our clients or they have consigned and bought from us have set record prices.
The bottom line is the larger the supply of an item, the less likely it will appreciate due to rarity distortion.  Again, the rarity distortion can lead to a lack of desirability, too!  When I am looking for early circ type in auctions or the bourse floor, I always find that the most wholesome pieces for grade sell for the most in auction or are priced in dealer cases for the most money. 
Another factor that hurts commercially graded coins is that a collector will never learn the correct criteria for grading coins.  I don’t want to hear about another client telling me that they want to assemble a set or buy a single type issue of an 18th Century coin in circulated condition that is brilliant.  I will try to offer my opinion, but the comeback is always that I see them graded at the shows and they are bright white in all conditions from Good on up.  And the person is right!  And they are not net graded, either!
It makes me sick to see an early Bust Dollar in V.G. that is not net graded but looks polished.  I tell people to try and buy coins that appeal to the most knowledgeable buyers.  Original coins have character, and as long as there are stewards that want to pass on their knowledge of the importance of originality, you will have character coins leading the way.  These coins will always be the easiest coins to sell and the most knowledgeable buyers will climb over themselves to buy them.  Once you clean a coin, you can never go back!

CAC Grading Submissions

By Warren Mills
We have a reputation for trying to buy the strictest coins for the grade.  Our submissions to CAC reflect that a very high percentage of our coins we submit will receive a CAC sticker.  These are coins from our regular inventory or coins we have sold to our clients in the past that want them CAC’d.  Recently, we had a combined two invoices of 26 coins we submitted.  We went 27 for 26 because of a gold sticker on one of the coins.  In other words, all 26 coins received a sticker, but one piece received a gold one.
Since we are a CAC submission dealer, some collectors want us to submit coins for them in the hope that our reputation for quality will allow their coins to get the benefit of the doubt.  I may tell them that I think certain issues have no chance, but they want them submitted anyway.  We will submit them, but I assure you that CAC plays no favorites… period.  They examine each coin on its own merits, as it should be, and affix a sticker only if the coin meets their strict standards.  So if anyone reading this article would like us to examine their coin for CAC, we will do it free of charge.  However, don’t expect any CAC favoritism if we submit coins for you.

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.

Cheerios Dollars

By Joseph Presti

In 2000, General Mills, maker of Cheerios cereal decided to celebrate the new millennium by including a specially packaged one cent and new dollar coins as a giveaway in Cheerios boxes.  A total of 10,000,000 cents and 5,500 dollar coins were given away. 

Everything went great until a collector happened upon a 2000 Sacagawea (Sac) dollar from a Cheerios box and thought it looked different.  He submitted the coin to ANACS for authentication and they graded and labeled the coin with the Cheerios pedigree.  In 2005, he submitted the coin to NGC and they consulted with expert Tom Delory about the coin.  After some research, Tom discovered that it looked similar to examples he saw at the mint in 1999.  The primary difference was that the eagle’s feathers were much more distinct than on circulating examples.

During an interview with the designer of the reverse of the Sac dollar, Tom confirmed that the change in the reverse tail feathers was done very late in the design process, “probably in October 1999,” with business strike production beginning in November of 1999.  It was also confirmed that General Mills needed the 5,500 promotional coins late in 1999 so they could be boxed and on grocers' shelves for the beginning of 2000.  The thought is that the mint used the prototype or pattern reverse to strike the coins for General Mills, but thought nothing of it.  So it wasn’t noticed until 2005 when NGC first confirmed the difference.

Another interesting tidbit is that the mint produced thirty-nine Sac dollars from 22K gold and flew some on the space shuttle.  Of the original thirty-nine, twelve coins remain and are housed at Fort Knox.  Interestingly, the gold Sac dollars and the Cheerios dollars were struck using the same prototype reverse.

This image was found at usacoinbook.com
Further research has also confirmed that all Cheerios dollars are not created equal.  Some these coins were produced with the regular circulating reverse, not exhibiting the strong tail feathers.  Speculation is that from the original 5,500 coins shipped to General Mills, maybe 100 were not acceptable.  The mint then shipped “regular” issue Sac dollars as a replacement.  So, while actually much rarer than the prototype reverse Cheerios dollar, the regular issue Cheerios dollar does not sell for anywhere near the value of the prototype. 

With a total of only 139 coins graded by both services, the coin is rare, but beware.  Like most modern rarities when first discovered, they bring big money, but as more get discovered, the price comes down.  Just think how many more coins could be waiting to be found sitting in drawers or how many were spent. So check every 2000 Sac dollar you come in contact with and maybe you will get lucky.

A Small Tribute To A Great Man

By Paul V. Battaglia

Ideas, subject matter, topics of interest or none at all…. where do I tread this month?

Well, a combination of many busy evenings, some travel, appointments and a general change-up in my non-routine schedule has left me dry for this month’s newslettre.  That is, until the other night, Thursday 24th June.

My wife and I needed to clear out a lower dresser drawer for some files and important papers.  The dresser belonged to my father from the mid-1950s until his passing in 2006.  I had a fair idea of what might be within, but nothing specific as such things are usually left static, given their nature and the sentiment they hold.  I was pleasantly surprised to see items that had been out of my mind for many-a-year.  As I shared with you in my earlier articles, dear readers, my dad was an avid and devoted coin collector.  What I re-discovered in that lower dresser drawer immediately brought me back decades in thought.  An otherwise dormant memory link came richly to life once more.

My dad would have turned 91 this upcoming 25th July had he still been with us.  Therefore, I thought it apropos for me to step away from pure U.S. numismatics and share a few of my dad’s “stuffe” (my word creation here and pronounced “stoof”) for this month.

Dad turned 50 back in July 1975.  I clearly recall having purchased two 1925-P Peace Silver Dollars via post from a numismatic firm on Long Island, NY State.  The better of the pair cost me the kingly sum of $50 (plus postage!?-honest) solely due to the owner’s advertisement extolling the supposedly unique surface qualities and visually arresting appeal.  My coin buddies were shocked at my paying that price, but my horse sense and experience told me, “KEEP IT PAUL.”  The coin pictured before you was the other 1925-P and priced more in line with current prices.  I gave both to my dad for his birthday.  He decided to have the latter coin placed within a Capital Plastic holder that included a base and his full name.  (I wrapped the other 1925 Peace Silver Dollar in tissue paper to tone it over time.  When the grading services came to fruition, I had PCGS grade it for dad in 1989.)  So, I am now just observing this coin again as of yesterday evening and with it a living, glowing memory.

Dad picked up this cereal box favour at some point since Cheerios remained one of his preferred daily dry breakfast cereals.  Aside from an obverse fleck @ 9 o’clock obverse, this Year 2000 Lincoln Cent remains a blazing orange-red.  (I daresay the surrounding holder is far, far rarer than the cent is and ever will be!)

Dad also owned this 1902-H (Heaton Mint) Canada Ten Cent Piece.  He picked that one up when our entire family visited Old Quebec City in July 1966.  I recall he and I located a coin shop in Quebec City proper to look for possible U.S. coin finds.  We located nothing, yet he came away with this roll-fresh specimen for reasons unknown to me.  However, it was graded and returned a GEM. 
Last and certainly not least are these silver-denominated Italian Lira all dated 1927.  They have acquired some striking deeper cobalt-blue toning with golden tinges over many decades of dormancy within old type envelopes.  These coins belonged to my paternal grandfather and possibly on his person when he, his wife (my grandmother) and all their children, of whom my dad was one, emigrated from Cefalu, Sicily.  Cefalu is a small mountain town in northern Sicily overlooking Palermo for you geographers.  They came over in the 1920s.  Grandfather Battaglia was a fresh produce and fish monger back in his town.  He brought his trade over into Boston, Massachusetts.  I can well imagine how much better they all fared over many other people, especially when the Great Depression hit in autumn of 1929.
Now I will put these relics away again for an indeterminate amount of days.  Time passes into an ever-present eternity and change is inevitable with all its indifference to what we want and need.  However, all of us can hold any moment in our lives with a relic from yesterday and the power of our thoughts.

Thanks again, Dad!

Your grateful son,

Questions From The Mail Bag

By Warren Mills
Question:  Why are 19th Century Type coins so dead?  They are historic and beautiful, but the prices have really come down.
Thanks to multiple clients that have posed this questions over the last few months!

Nineteenth Century Type is one of my favorite areas.  I particularly like Seated Half Dollars, but every 19th Century series seems to be in the doldrums.  I attribute this to the aging collector base.  For many decades, 19th Century Type coins were a mainstay for most collectors.  Dollars, though beautiful, were just looked at as common, available coins.  Nineteenth Century issues had a large representation of series mintmarks and so many varieties that it captured many collectors’ fancy because they could never learn or see everything.  As dollars were studied more widely, and less often seen, a flood of new collectors entered the market for them.  The old timers still looked down their nose at dollars, but as Father Time marches on, the old guard is retiring or passing away; new generations take over with varied new ideas about what is desirable to them.   Now, dollar collectors look down their nose at modern coin collectors, but modern Eagles and promotable mint issues are the current rage.
Does that make 19th Century Type undervalued?  It sure does, but you need a group of buyers to support the market.  If the interest is waning, it will take a concerted educational effort by dealers to allow new buyers to appreciate the older historical coins.  Now that coins are certified and many dealers are just label readers (they couldn’t even grade a raw coin), 19th Century issues may never again enjoy the glory days of old.  They are legitimately hard to find, and I love and buy the odd nice pieces when I see them, but it doesn’t mean they’re soon in for a resurgence.

Thanks again and please keep those questions coming. We welcome your questions.  So please send them to me directly or
visit the contact us page for future newsletters, and if you prefer, I will answer them for you privately.


Coin Trivia Answers:

1.  William Barber 1869-1879 and son Charles Barber 1879-1917

2.  It had been widely accepted that the silver came from Martha Washington in the form of her silver flatware set.

3.  Queen Isabella on the commemorative 1893 Isabella 25c

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on Friday, 10 June 2016 13:18. Posted in News

Over 200 Years Of Combined Numismatic Experience At Your Disposal.

  June 2016 Issue

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

My Coin Journey Part XII

By Warren Mills

As I stated in My Coin Journey  Part XI, we had a perfect storm for making money for our clients in 1989.  I recognized that we were right in the middle of a speculative bubble.  So I issued an all-out sell signal.  For a few weeks, we were able to buy hundreds of thousands of dollars of rare coins back from clients for incredible profits.  Talk about a win-win: take your original investment off of the table and roll the profits into under-valued areas.  It worked like clockwork! 
Then in the middle of June, I went on vacation and left instructions to keep the ball rolling.  Alas, the owner got cold feet and concocted a story about putting the company in jeopardy.   The buy-back program was stopped on a dime and many people missed the greatest run-up in coin history.  Thankfully, we made many hundreds of people huge money: 2 to 5 times their initial purchase price!
As the summer of 1989 rolled on, the market weakened, but one area held up well until the spring of 1990.  That area was 19th Century high grade type coins.  For decades, 19th Century type always had the most knowledgeable client base of all numismatics.  This base of buyers knew how rare certain issues were and they remained loyal supporters of the area they loved for longer than they should.  As the avalanche kept coming, even 19th Century type could not hold on.  It also slid dramatically.
I could read the writing on the wall for the coin market not holding up much longer.  In addition, I could see myself not working for the company I was with much longer.  I knew I had to leave because I lost all respect for the firm.
In late 1989, I was approached by a large coin firm about working with them.  I had no interest in moving, but I would be happy to work out of New Hampshire for them.  I told my friends I was leaving and gave my notice.  Other people elected to leave and some of us started an office for Oaktree Numismatics.  One of the principles in the firm was a former business partner of mine and he respected my knowledge and ethics.  However, they sold coins that I did not believe would meet clients’ objectives for the future.  When I was pressed to sell high grade foreign issues that , in my opinion, were no more than glorified bullion, a rift was started.  I would not compromise and sell that material.  I could not recommend it. 
Due to my friendship with one of the principles, we tried to work things out; but in less than six months, I told them I could not work for them any longer.  I knew what I wanted to do and that was to sell the best coins available for the grades that were strictly and technically graded.  So, in June of 1990, Rare Coins of New Hampshire (RCNH) was started.
In our next issue, I’ll share the row we had to hoe to get RCNH off of the ground.  I will say that it’s been fun, but not all fun and games.

Plus Coins and CAC

By Warren Mills
In many instances, I see plus coins that are no finer than a non-plus issue.  From MS-62’s to MS-67’s, I’ve seen CAC sticker a plus coin, such as a 67+, which may make it one of the finest graded and CAC’d.  However, keep in mind that CAC is not stickering it as a 67+; it is stickering it as a 67.  The inconsistency of the grading services in assigning plus grades is scary!  I’ve seen 67’s that are much nicer than 67+ coins.  I believe that CAC only examines the coin as the whole point grade.
Two problems I see:  the first problem is “how do you assign a formula to figure a plus price?”  The second problem is the ego-driven mania for the highest graded registry set coins may cause someone to pay a tremendous but unjustifiable premium on the coin.  If another couple of plus pieces enter the market, the price could tank.  Again, in many instances, the plus on the grade is not justified.
I believe that CAC should only sticker a plus graded coin if it truly is a plus in their eyes.  That way a premium price can be more justifiable.  I will try to speak with CAC about this issue for a later newsletter.

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 Auction Breaks Multiple Records!

By Joseph Presti

The competition for a once in a lifetime offering continued with the recent completion of the Pogue IV sale at the end of May.  This most recent sale brought in $16.7 million, bringing the total for the collection at more than $85 million.   So far, this collection has easily surpassed any other rare coin collection for total value, and there is still more to come.

Two coins officially brought over $1 million in this sale.  The proof 1833 half eagle ($5) and the specimen 1795 bust dollar.  What is more amazing is that neither the 1822 half eagle or the finest known 1804 dollar sold!  A bid of over $10.5 million was received for the 1804 dollar, and over $7 million was bid for the only collectible 1822 half eagle.  Neither of these bids met the consignor’s reserve and failed to sell.  If both of these coins had sold, the total price paid for them would have been more than what the entire sale brought in.

In addition to the two million dollar plus coins sold, eight coins brought in 6 figures each.  They are as follows in descending order of price bid:

  • 1825/4 half eagle - $940,000
  • 1829 Small Planchet $5 - $822,500
  • 1832 12 Stars $5 - $822,500
  • 1835 Proof $5 - $822,500
  • 1795 Draped Bust dollar - $763,750
  • 1829 Large Planchet $5 - 763,750
  • 1838- Bust half dollar -  $493,500
  • 1838-C half eagle  -  $235, 000

 Information for this article was found at PCGS.com

All Aboard!  All Aboard For The “C, D & O!”

By Paul V. Battaglia

Our readers and customers who are also railroad buffs might be wondering if this acronym once stood for a standard or narrow gauge line given my title and presentation.  Not this time around, yet I bet a few of you deduced the above three characters represent the Charlotte, Dahlonega and New Orleans mints.  Good for you, coin aficionados.

A number of fine books have been written on these mints over the decades.  My focus here, though brief, is about locating real, true and fresh pieces in the $1, $2 ½ , $3, $5, $10 & $20 series.  With very few exceptions, the mintages on these coins are dreadfully low; their survivors beyond that are lower and it’s almost anyone’s guess as to how many are TRULY ORIGINAL.  I will wager that we at RCNH have handled and placed no more than a few dozen in our twenty-six plus years of ongoing operation.  Our company want lists on these coins are ongoing, of a permanent nature and transits from year to year without discussion or question.  Once in a while, lightning does strike and we locate a precious survivor.  In addition, we are actually able to purchase it.  Coins of this caliber are of an “understood, non-verbal buy” when located.  However, do not be fooled into thinking that we are also encountering a so-called larger number of these mints that we are rejecting due to their sight-unseen states, ha!  No sir, and no ma’am!   We have, and I have, found that nearly any and all of these coins are snapped up with zeal as well as a blind eye where non-originality is lacking.  (Sadly, yet unsurprisingly, the latter prevails.)  Like today’s coins from famous collections as well as that cool find on any bourse floor, they are often being socked away into what I term “multi-generational” collections.  None of us will be around to witness their re-entry into numismatic society.

I have digressed too long as the point of my article is to implore you to initially:

  1. Substantiate that you are beholding an ORIGINAL SPECIMEN from one of these mints. 
  2. Ask yourself the one and only relevant question:  “If I were to crack out this coin, my 1847-D $5 Half Eagle in VF25, would it return in the same grade?”  All right, I will bend here and accept “any grade” as ORIGINALITY trumps grade in my book.  I have coins in my collection that have been knocked down in grade, yet were still certifiable and gradable.  Gee, not too crazy about that you and I would say. 
  3. What about the coin being returned with “altered surfaces?”  How would that do?  Yeah, I knew you would kick on that the hardest.  So would I.  Collectors and investors reading my article are now collectively yelling at me and in a single voice are stating:  “Sheeeesh, Paul, I have to buy something for my set.  I have saved up the money, and have been waiting years.”  (Therefore, you deserve to buy the coin?  Is that what I hear?)  Well, I do see your point and more than sympathize.  However, do not take this as my being in agreement with you.  OK, the sheer rarity-combination-lower survivability of these coins rather assures that their market will continue at some type of level.  After all, nobody wants to lose money nor can it be “tolerated” within the industry, if I know the industry like I know the back of my hand. Look out now, here comes the Devil’s Advocate stating the tried-and-true fact that:  “A coin is original but once.”  Touché.  Commercial grading is just that, period.  I should not make excuses nor relax standards due to a lack of originality.  Hmmmm, sounds as if I am naïve in my thinking after five decades in numismatics.  Or, will patience alone guarantee my/your locating an original example?  In theory, yes.  In reality, possibly not.  Possessing the genes of Methuselah might help, but random order and statistics rule any and all days.

Have I shot holes and blown your thunder in enjoying your collection and pursuit* of these gold coins?  I hope not for it was never my purpose.  Just re-think your strategy and return to the ABC’s in acquiring C, D & O-mint gold coins.  What would I do?  A relevant question.  I would wait, yet keep my eyes open for opportunity.  Opportunity, like hope, is always out there.  I will end this article with two thoughts I have harboured for many years, yet rarely broached.

“The Charlotte, Dahlonega and New Orleans Mints regarding U.S. Gold Coins are all underrated and a challenge with few other equal numismatic series peers.”

“It is my staunch opinion that the American South has an unknown number of these coins in  very private coffers of an indeterminate number of citizens.”
I would invite your opinion on these statements….do not be shy.
*The PURSUIT of a coin always outweighs the chase in my experience.  That ongoing chase keeps us alert, sharp, hopeful and questing for knowledge and human interaction among ourselves.

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. 

A Bargain? An 1811 Half Cent Found On eBay

By Lou Roten

I recently saw what appeared to be a nice (raw) 1811 half cent purchased on eBay for less than $100. One of the first coins I bought after joining RCNH was an early half cent, the more common 1804  (stemless, plain 4). I like the design, but more than that, it was interesting to me because the series is very old and the coin reverse bears the fraction 1/200, indicating its value relative to the dollar; the reason possibly to reach those who could recognize a number but may not be able to read. 

Image of fake 1811 reverse found on eBay
Actual 1811 reverse
(Image found at ha.com)

The consensus was that the eBay coin was a fake. This prompted me to find out why. The fact that the coin was not graded is certainly a clue; to Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of Half Cents I went.
The wreath design was changed in 1809: the reverse was redesigned to be a continuous clockwise wreath with 27 leaves and 13 berries originating from the ribbon; the earlier design had 16 leaves clockwise on the left and 19 leaves counterclockwise on the right, both originating from the ribbon at 6 o’clock. Also the 1/200 fraction was removed in 1809 with the Classic Head series.
From Breen’s Encyclopedia section on the issues of 1809 to 18291:
“Precisely because the wreath and its contents are invariable, the only source of variation from one working reverse to another will be the positions of letters in UNITED STATES OF AMERICA with respect to each other, and to the leaves of the wreath.”
Paraphrasing from the same citation (moving clockwise) Breen’s method focuses on the:

  • 6th leaf – the outer leaf of the 2nd group at about 9 o’clock under the D of UNITED
  • 13th leaf – highest leaf of the 4th group, under the ES of STATES
  • 15th leaf – outer leaf of the 5th group under the F of OF at about 1:30 o’clock
  • 23rd leaf – outermost of the 6th group, at about 4:30 o’clock, nearest the C in AMERICA

The job now was to learn how the leaves are counted on the new 1809 wreath design and later to understand Breen’s method of determining variations.
Counting the leaves:
Moving from the left and clockwise (I believe the leaves are counted from the outside in):

  • The first leaf is alone and just to the left of the ribbon
  • The first group has 4 leaves, #2 – 5 (above the U in UNITED)
  • The second group also has 4 leaves, #6 – 9 (to the right of the D in UNITED)
  • The third group has 3 leaves, #10 – 12 (under the A in STATES)
  • The fourth group has 2 leaves, #13 and 14 (under the 2nd S in STATES)
  • The fifth group has 4 leaves, #15 – 18 (under the F in OF)
  • The sixth group also has 4 leaves, #19 – 22 (to the left of M in AMERICA)
  • The seventh group has 3 leaves, #23 – 25 (above the C in AMERICA)
  • The last group is just to the right of the ribbon and has 2 leaves, #26 and 27 (above the 2nd leg of the A in AMERICA)

Discriminating factors in this case are a leaf in the 6th group, the 24th leaf and the 13th leaf in the 4th group (if counting from the outside in). Look at the position of the real 1811 24th leaf tip (2nd leaf in the group) with respect to the first leg of the 2nd A in AMERICA. The tip of the leaf is just reaching that leg of the A.  The position of this leaf is the same for all variations of the 1811 half cent.

Image of fake 1811 half cent reverse found on eBay

1826 half cent reverse
(Image found at ha.com)


Matching reverse to the fake 1811 – the 1826 reverse

Look at the position of the same leaf (the 24th) tip on the 1826 reverse with the tip reaching well beyond that leg of the A to the center of the letter. After looking through the reverses of this series, I have concluded that the reverse of the eBay fake 1811 is closest to that of the 1826 CMM1. According to Breen there is no reverse variation of the 1811, wide date or close date, with the tip of that leaf so positioned. Rather all the variations have the position of the 1811 image, just reaching the first leg of the A.  
Now look at the position of the S slightly to the left of the tip of leaf #13 of the 1826. This is the position of the S on the 1811 eBay coin. The reverse of the eBay 1811 again matches very well with the 1826 reverse. Given that the 1811 sold on eBay has a reverse much like the reverse of the 1826, the conclusion can only be that it is a fake, a non-existent die pair variety. Without the availability of a large library here at RCNH, I would not have known.
This is another example of the need for caution. The red-flag has to be the fact this rare coin was not graded. All raw coins must be considered with great care, particularly if a coin is rare. There is no reason whatsoever not to have such a coin authenticated and graded. It is possible that someone may unwittingly offer a coin that is both rare and authentic, but the obvious precaution of a solid return policy must be in place; the coin so purchased must be authenticated immediately within the return window.    

  1. Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States Half Cents 1793 – 1857, © 1983, page 293

Images of the real 1811 and 1826 half cent reverses courtesy of Heritage Auctions

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.

A Bit Of Research Pays Off

By Dave Carleton

It has been a very active month of May here at RCNH. The appointment calendar has been pretty well filled Monday through Friday. If possible, when I have the opportunity, I like to ask the people who come in for evaluations, how they heard about us. Part of the reason I ask is to get an idea of how our advertising is reaching these folks. Even though we’ve been here in the People's United Bank Building for 26 years, there are many people who live nearby that never knew we were even here. Many of the people that come in don’t have any idea of what they have because they had acquired the material from a member of the family that has passed on. When asked, many say they found us in the Yellow Pages, on the Web and some from the radio.  Some people have found notes with the coins, urging them to contact us because they knew the new owners would be treated fairly.
I asked a lady recently how she found us and was pleasantly surprised by her answer. She said that when she was doing her search for a dealer, she found that we had what appeared to be a bunch of market affiliations and even though she didn’t know what they meant, they seemed impressive. Then she did something I wish more people would do and that was to follow up on those affiliations and see what they were all about. She told me that she was impressed with our associations but was particularly attracted to our PNG (Professional Numismatists Guild) membership. I was so happy that she went this far to check us out because the PNG is the crown jewel of our affiliations. (I’m including a link to PNG at the end of this article, so you can read about all the requirements and Code of Ethics the members have to abide by.) Briefly, the PNG is a nonprofit organization founded in 1955 and is composed of many of the country’s top numismatic experts.  There are only 310 members of the PNG in the whole country and only 51 that are APMD (Accredited Precious Metals Dealer) of which we are one.
It really makes me scratch my head why it happens so often that someone buys numismatic and bullion material from someone that has no affiliations and then do their due diligence to find us so we, as so often happens, can tell them that they got involved in a bad deal . It’s just that it’s hard to convey this negative news to people, and at the same time, try not to condemn the whole hard asset market. The funny thing is that if you are reading this missive then you’re probably aware of what I just spoke about. It’s unfortunate that the people who need to know these things have yet to enter this market and the process will continue to recycle.    

Click here to see the PNG's Code of Ethics

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. 


By Joseph Presti

If I told you there is only one computer in the world for every 542 people who want one, or one gallon of gasoline in the world for every 542 people who want one what would you do?  Most people when presented with a statistic like this would react by attempting to buy or hoard more computers or oil because they realize that at some point in the future the price of the object in question is going to have to rise in order to secure more computers or oil.

Conversely, if there are several of the same item for every one in demand then the price will or should fall unless people believe incorrectly that the item is scarce.  To prove my point, I had an older gentleman come to our office the other day and said he wanted to buy some silver.  I always ask why, because I like to hear different people’s perspectives.  He told me that it is the only thing “real.”  He said that his grandfather would give him a silver dollar when he was a kid and he could buy 4-5 gallons of gas with it for his motorcycle.  Today, that same silver dollar can still fill a motorcycle, but the dollar bill can’t buy one gallon of gas.

Let’s get back to the title of this article, 542:1, what does this represent?  This is the actual number of ounces of gold sold on the COMEX for every ounce of physical gold in their possession.  Stated another way, a COMEX gold contract controls 100 oz of gold, so for every five plus contracts there is only one ounce of gold backing that contract. So, unlike other commodity contracts, you can no longer execute your contract and take physical possession of the underlying metal.  Talk about your ultimate paper asset!  At least when you buy a stock you theoretically own a piece of the underlying company.

According to the article that I read in
the Business Insider, the ratio of paper to real gold was consistent until around 2014.  That is when it exploded to 100:1, then 300:1, to the current 542:1.  This time period also corresponds with the selling of most of the physical gold that COMEX had in its’ possession to under 1 million ounces, from several million ounces.  What is even more disturbing is that the gold has been gobbled up by Russia, China, India and the Middle East.  All of these countries have sputtering of failing economies. So logically we should ask, why are they putting so much money into something you can’t eat or make everyday life better for their population?  The answer is simple, they do not have faith in paper and are planning for something to happen in the financial markets sometime in the future.  Unfortunately, this country has more of a short-term attitude toward everything, that’s part of the reason we have a $19 trillion deficit and don’t seem worried because we can’t think beyond the next election. 

As a government, we should admit the obvious or we could all wake up one morning and have a nasty surprise waiting for us when all of our paper assets are worth much less than we thought.  Unfortunately, the government and Wall Street have a vested interest in propping up the paper assets because not doing so would cause havoc with the mortgage market, government entitlements such as social security and most of all pension plans.  If you don’t think anything is going to change then you owe it to yourself and your lineage to hold some physical gold and silver because it is only a matter of time before these historical stores of values will rise and with it rare coin prices.

Questions From The Mail Bag

By Warren Mills
Question: “How does Warren buy early type or dated coins if he won’t make an allowance for cleaning or over grading?”   (This question was posed to Joe Presti at a recent auction.)
Thanks C.B. for the question.

Answer: The simple response is, “I don’t buy them for those reasons.”  If we have a circ type coin in our inventory that is a late 18th Century or early 19th Century piece, it is original & superb.  I find the horrid acceptance by the grading services to certify wretchedly cleaned, putrid alterations and over grading to be an abomination to the coin business.  I choose to step aside and pass on these early or dated issues until either an acceptable piece comes along or not sell them at all!  I’ll let the geniuses talk their customers into buying these types of coins.  It’s sad because these early pieces are the essence of coin collecting history.  I’d love to have a dozen in our inventory every month.  I just won’t compromise my standards.
Thanks again and please keep those questions coming. We welcome your questions.  So please send them to me directly or email
for future newsletters and if you prefer, I will answer them for you privately.


In Memoriam

On a sad final note, I’d like to mention the passing of my dear friend, Gary Carlson.  I met him at Heritage in Dallas in 1982 and we started Numismatic Professionals of Dallas in 1984.  It didn’t last, but our friendship remained strong right up to his passing.  He was an excellent numismatist, a good athlete and great friend.  I will miss him terribly and I ask you all to pray for the repose of his soul with our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ.
Thank you.


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

Over 200 Years Of Combined Numismatic Experience At Your Disposal.

  May 2016 Issue

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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.