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

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Over 200 Years Of Combined Numismatic Experience At Your Disposal.

  March 2016 Issue

A Newsletter By:
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My Coin Journey Part IX

By Warren Mills

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


What Do I Like?

By Warren Mills

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


Bullion Consumer Alert

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

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

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

Partner and owner of Rare Coins of New Hampshire, Inc. since June, 1990 and a full time coin dealer since 1979.  Warren is a full member of the Professional Numismatists Guild and a life member of the American Numismatic Association.  He was selected by the Rosen Numismatic Advisory as one of the ten leading numismatists in the country for twelve consecutive years.  He was selected by PCGS and written up in their newsletter as handling and submitting some of the nicest coins they have ever seen.


Pogue Sale III – Aberration Or Predictor?

By Joseph Presti

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

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

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

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

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


Coin Terminology

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

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

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


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

By Paul Battaglia

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

I do welcome your comments.

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

Paul Battaglia is the Senior Numismatist and a Life Member of the ANA.  He travels with owner, Warren Mills, to the major coin shows across the country.  Paul has 50+ years numismatic experience and has been with RCNH since 1990.  He also cherishes reading, cooking, language, music, classic cars, lily/orchid culture, chess, economic statistics, differing viewpoints and FISHING.



One More Thing To Be Aware Of

By Dave Carleton

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

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

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

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

David Carleton, a New Hampshire native was introduced to coin collecting by his father and Grandfather in the 50’s. Gold bullion speculation dominated the 70’s culminating in 1980 when focus on Numismatics returned. He became a life member of the ANA , met Warren Mills  (his coin Guru) and they cofounded RCNH in 1990.


Letters From Our Mailbag

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

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

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

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



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

Over 200 Years of Combined Numismatic Experience at Your Disposal.

  February 2016 Issue

A Newsletter By:

My Coin Journey Part VIII

By Warren Mills

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

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

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

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RCNH Exposure

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

Partner and owner of Rare Coins of New Hampshire, Inc. since June, 1990 and a full time coin dealer since 1979.  Warren is a full member of the Professional Numismatists Guild and a life member of the American Numismatic Association.  He was selected by the Rosen Numismatic Advisory as one of the ten leading numismatists in the country for twelve consecutive years.  He was selected by PCGS and written up in their newsletter as handling and submitting some of the nicest coins they have ever seen.

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The Treasure of the San Jose

By Joseph Presti

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Coin Trivia

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

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

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

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


I'm Not Going To Work Today

The Wedding Gift
By Dave Carleton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Carleton, a New Hampshire native was introduced to coin collecting by his father and Grandfather in the 50’s. Gold bullion speculation dominated the 70’s culminating in 1980 when focus on Numismatics returned. He became a life member of the ANA , met Warren Mills  (his coin Guru) and they cofounded RCNH in 1990.

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

By Lou Roten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lou Roten - current adjunct instructor - mathematics / physics, Franklin Pierce University; environmental scientist;  fiddler; life-long interest in collecting coins and stamps with some interruptions; very interested in the evolution of the coin making process.


My Numismatic Records

By Paul Battaglia

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Battaglia is the Senior Numismatist and a Life Member of the ANA.  He travels with owner, Warren Mills, to the major coin shows across the country.  Paul has 50+ years numismatic experience and has been with RCNH since 1990.  He also cherishes reading, cooking, language, music, classic cars, lily/orchid culture, chess, economic statistics, differing viewpoints and FISHING.


Letters From Our Mailbag

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

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


Answers To Coin Trivia Questions

1. They owned the B&O railroad

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

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


on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 16:15. Posted in News

Paul and I left balmy New Hampshire on Wednesday, January 6th at about 9 am.  When I jumped in the car it was 3 degrees!  We hit the tarmac in Tampa around 12:30 and it was over 70 degrees.  What a nice time of year to go to Florida.  We went right to the Convention Center and hit the floor running.  I went to see my favorite dealers that have a nice selection of coins for me and was shocked at how little inventory was new and fresh.  I knew right off it was going to be a bad buying show.  There were not enough nice coins available but I did my best and our double row box of new coins will be up on our site soon.

We sold a fair amount of coins to dealers that appreciate the difference between commercial grading and technical grading.  If you can hone your eye to learn technical grading, you will do well in this business and your collection will be more desirable.  Some people can’t or don’t want to believe that all coins are different and unique from others even in the same grade.  I’m glad CAC is maintaining a strong presence in our industry because it lends credence to what we’ve always said, “Buy the coin, not the holder.”  It’s ignorant to complain when you go begging to sell junk or you do have a nice coin and you let an unscrupulous dealer steal it from you for commercial prices.  It happens all the time.  We are always happy to make offers or give opinions on coins at no charge.  It’s free to get the opinion of numismatists with 4 decades of experience, here for the asking.

Attendance was good and it created a nice buzz on the floor.  Kudos to F.U.N. for paying for Florida Coin Clubs’ transportation to the show.  It’s a nice perk to talk to so many collectors.  Paul and I sometimes spent over an hour with collectors to give them an A-Z tutorial on coins or grading.  We love our profession and hobby and always want to help out.  One collector came to the table with a modern issue he wanted to sell or trade.  We are not up on moderns, so I said “let me take it to a modern market maker and get a price for you.”  The first four were only selling them, not buying.  But the fifth was a hit; a real offer to buy for $1,477.  I told the collector that we can pay you $1,477 whether you sell or trade.  He was impressed with my effort, so he elected to trade the coin.  I sold it for $1,477 as fast as I could.  When I went back to the dealer table he wanted to pay less and I said that was okay as long as I can sell it.  He was a nice guy and said okay to the $1,477.  Beware of the modern market, it can get illiquid.

The auctions were weak!  Most of the currency went begging.  There were also good deals in the coin auctions.  Marginal pieces got murdered!  So much money has been expended in auctions in the last year that there is a glut of coins entering auctions. Look for people to start offering more coins on the bourse floor in the future.  When coins sell cheap in auctions and you have to pay the sales commissions, it’s a huge double whammy!  Nice coins still brought strong money.  Our prices realized for our consignment was shockingly high!  It’s not unusual for us to sell coins in auction for more than we could price them for retail.  The coins just have to be technically nice and with good eye-appeal.

Please check our newsletter out in the future and feel free to call or e-mail.




on Monday, 04 January 2016 20:04. Posted in News

Over 200 Years of Combined Numismatic Experience at Your Disposal.

  January 2016 Issue

A Newsletter By:

My Coin Journey Part VII
By Warren Mills

A new company, Heritage Numismatics was formed when Steve Ivy and Jim Halperin became partners in 1983.  Two great numismatists were building the foundation for the largest numismatic and auction company in the world.  And there I was in on the ground floor of a numismatic juggernaut.   A place I’m sure I could have stayed with for my whole career.
However, as much as I loved working for and with Steve, I had an uneasy feeling about working again with Jim.  Jim owned New England Rare Coin Gallery when I worked there and I questioned his judgement about how he handled the whole rise and fall of New England.  I attribute this to me being small minded and not realizing how many of the people that Jim entrusted to do the right thing were unethical and really contributed to bringing New England down.  I had so much pride in my work ethic and trying to treat customers the right way that I passed unfair judgement on Jim.  That was on me.   So I went to Steve and told him that I did not feel the same amount of respect for Jim that I had for him and that maybe I should just hand over my resignation.  Steve told me that I could act as if Jim wasn’t there if I wanted to and conduct all and any dealings with him personally.  That was a nice gesture by Steve and since I respected him so much, I decided to stay and try to make the best of the situation with the new company.
The juggernaut was off and running.  I put my best concerted effort into focusing on delivering the best coins and service to my customers but I had a nagging feeling that I was not being true to myself and handed in my resignation after 2 great years.  I am fortunate now to consider both Jim and Steve as good friends in the industry.  As a kid in my mid-20’s, I was too quick to pass judgement and did not look within enough to have the maturity to make a more reasonable decision.  God has a plan for all of us, so I guess if I was meant to stay, I would have.  Many of my friendships and colleagues I have in the industry were formed in Dallas.
From there I went into a partnership with Numismatic Professionals of Dallas.  We were affiliated with Numismatic Professionals which was located in Framingham, MA.  The company was very ethical and conformed to very high standards, but I was not pleased with my partners in Dallas.  When a death in the family occurred, I decided to move back to my roots in Massachusetts.  I was fortunate to remain in the coin business and was hired by a firm that did only dealer to dealer transactions.  Working on a wholesale only basis exposed me to a side of the business I never knew.  It was here that I learned what I needed to know to go out on my own for good.  I will expound on my experiences here in our next issue of “The Rare Coin Enthusiast.”

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1995W Silver Eagle Proof
By Warren Mills
I was asked about my thoughts regarding high grade modern issue coinage.  Initially, I was going to use this question for a “Letters From Our Mail Bag.”  I feel so strongly about this issue that I decided to devote an article to it.
I selected the 1995W Silver Eagle Proof because it has an allure that for a modern issue could attract even a classic collector interest.  A couple of more factors made me look into this issue too!  First, in November an auction house sent me an e-mail regarding a Proof 70 PCGS Deep Cameo example that they were offering in their next sale.  And a customer called us recently to ask if we had a 1995W set in-house.  This is not something we would typically retail, but we happened to have had one available.  With a mintage of only 30,125 pieces, they would have to come out of a broken up set.
I remember looking at the information that the auction house sent me.  A short list of “prices realized” was on the e-mail as a reference:  6/15- $23,500, 3/15-$30,027, 1/15-$30,550, & 12/14-$33,166.  That was the end of the list so I went back using another reference on “prices realized” and found this:  4/14-$41,125, 9/13-$55,550, 8/13-$61,170, 3/13-$86,655.  Do you notice the trend?  From a high of $86,655 in March of 2013, the coin slid to $23,500 in June of 2015:  a decline of around 70% in a little over 2 years!  This coin was a set-only issue commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the Silver Eagle program and is the lowest mintage Proof Silver Eagle…and yet the price decline is staggering.  The PCGS population has also jumped to 104 pieces in Proof-70 Deep Cameo.  At the time I received the e-mail, the population in November was 99 pieces.
This is a dramatic example of why I am not a fan of high-grade modern coinage.  These modern coins are not issued for circulation.  Virtually, the whole mintage is Proof-69 or Proof-70.  The difference may just be a tiny die chip or two between both grades.  Many of the uncirculated modern issues are the same way.  Most would grade MS-68 to MS-70.  If you are ego-driven to have the best, wait until more are graded and you may acquire your proof or mint state 70 for a fraction of what earlier buyers may pay.  Don’t dream of buying moderns with a return on investment in mind.
I recently had a customer come in with about a half a dozen modern issues all grading 68 to 70.  I explained that it is not an area I deal in but I will call some of the modern market makers and get a price for him and let him know.  I also looked up each issue in auction for him to show him the most recent prices realized.  And guess what, not one of the 3 firms I called on the issues called me back!  Now what does this say about the secondary market for moderns?  For me it says that there isn’t one.
The person that called me about the 1995W Set never got back with me.  I explained on a message machine that I had one set I’d sell at 10% over bid and the Silver Eagle was the original set coin and never tried for grading.  I never heard back, so I think I’ll hold my original set.  Pretty soon it will be rarer than the PCGS Proof-70 Deep Cameo pop!  I don’t see anything wrong with wanting a 95-W piece; I’d recommend a PR-69 Deep Cameo though… it’s a neat coin, and a fraction of the Proof-70 price.

Partner and owner of Rare Coins of New Hampshire, Inc. since June, 1990 and a full time coin dealer since 1979.  Warren is a full member of the Professional Numismatists Guild and a life member of the American Numismatic Association.  He was selected by the Rosen Numismatic Advisory as one of the ten leading numismatists in the country for twelve consecutive years.  He was selected by PCGS and written up in their newsletter as handling and submitting some of the nicest coins they have ever seen.

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Where Have All Of The Proof-Like Peace Dollars Gone?
By Joseph Presti

Anyone who collects Morgan Dollars can appreciate the beauty of proof-like (PL) and deep PL coins.  Once one becomes a little more advanced or decides to branch out with their collecting interests they may attempt a PL Peace Dollar set only to get aggravated.  Without too much searching, it becomes very apparent that PL Peace Dollars do not exist.  It’s not due to the great silver melt which actually occurred in 1918, before Peace Dollars were minted  or a giant conspiracy.  After some research the answer is very understandable.

The lack of PL Peace Dollars can be traced to a change in the way the Mint prepared the dies for gold coins after 1907 and for silver coins in 1916.  These years coincided with the change from the Liberty coin design to the Indian coin design in 1908 and the introduction the Mercury dime, Standing Liberty Quarter and Walking Liberty Half all in 1916.  According to a 1936 letter from Mint Director, Nellie Tayloe Ross, the Mint changed the way they made and prepared dies with the result being a coin that more closely represented what the artist had rendered in their original models.  Before the change in die preparation, employees at the Mint would hand punch the inscriptions into the master dies which resulted in a much sharper impression.  The dies were also “basined,” meaning they were polished, again resulting in a more crisp design and final product. 

The basining of the die is really the key to making a coin proof-like and can also explain why more dollars are proof-like versus smaller denomination coins.  Basining was done not only in the die preparation stage but also to correct imperfections while the die was being used.  Typically if a die clashed which occurs when the dies attempt to strike a coin but no planchet was in place, the two dies would then strike each other sometimes imparting the design on the opposing die.  A mint employee would then take the die off of the machine and basin it, putting the die on a wheel to smooth out the imperfection or clash mark and then reinstall it with a “new” mirror surface.  This newly resurfaced die would initially strike deep mirror proof-like coins and as the die wore would then strike proof-like coins and then typical business strike coins with no reflective surfaces.

If you think about why it seems dollars are proof-like and rarely other denominations it is rather simple to understand.  Dollars required much more striking pressure so that when dies eventually clashed the damage was more significant than when a dime die clashed so more basining occurred on the dollar die.  The Mint did not eliminate die clashing once they stopped basining dies, they dealt with it in a different manner, the result being that proof-like coins did not occur. 

The grading services also prove the rarity of PL Peace Dollars.  PCGS has graded approximately 2.95 million Morgan Dollars and 125,000 have been PL or deep PL with no Peace Dollars graded PL.  NGC on the other hand has graded about the same number of Morgan Dollars with 96,000 being PL or Deep PL.  Out of the 687,000 graded Peace Dollars NGC has seen, only two coins have been assigned the PL designation and there is some evidence that those two coins are rather weak PL’s. 

If you have ever been lucky enough to examine lots of coins, you will quickly notice that 1916 and 1917 dimes, quarters and halves all have a similar pebbly or matte look to them and this can be traced back to the Mint’s die preparation and lack of basining.  In fact, even gold coins from 1908 have that same matte-like appearance.  Next time you have the opportunity to compare coins, look at the crispness of the Morgan Dollar design and the flatness or broadness of the Peace Dollar design and you will better understand the result of what the Mint did during this time period.

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Coin Trivia

  1. Who was the first non-US President to be featured on a regular issue (non-commemorative) coin?

  2. Name all 8 US mints, past and present.

  3. What was the first year Philadelphia used the “P” mintmark on a coin? 

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

I'm Not Going To Work Today
The Thrill Of The Hunt

By Dave Carleton

I was just reviewing some beautiful coins that are in Legend’s Auction Catalog for the Venetian Las Vegas sale being held in conjunction with the PCGS members’ only show on December 17th. I stopped short when I came upon the 1955/55 Doubled Die Obverse Lincoln Cent, graded MS-65 Red by PCGS.  The coin looks beautiful and when I showed it to Warren and told him that the estimated hammer would be $35,000+, he said he thought that was cheap, if it were, in fact, a true Red Gem.
The description stated that there were approximately 20,000 minted and that between both PCGS and NGC, only 23 of those 1955/55 coins had been assigned that lofty grade. I suspect that number might include a few resubmissions. Needless to say, I believe the demand far outstrips the supply even at that price.
As a youngster back in the 1950’s, I was totally enamored with coins and coin collecting. For some reason, I thought that all the coins that interested me could ultimately be found if I looked very thoroughly at enough coins.   My personal quest was to find an 1804 Dollar, a 1909-S VDB Lincoln cent, a 1943 Copper cent, and the 1955 Doubled Die cent.  I was particularly hot for the 1943 Copper cent because I had heard that Henry Ford II was offering a brand new Edsel Ford to anyone who could bring one to him.
It was in the fall of 1959 on a cold rainy Sunday afternoon when my Dad and I opened up the card table and dumped about two months’ worth of change that we (he) had collected. My Dad traveled quite a bit at the time and he would save any change he received so we could eventually go through it on a day like this.
We were busy filling holes in the Whitman Blue Books when I looked over and saw my Dad rubbing his eyes and holding a wheat cent up to the reading lamp we used for lighting. A broad smile crossed his face as he handed the coin to me and asked,” What do you think about this?”
I couldn’t believe my eyes, but there it was in my hand -- a beautiful 1955 Doubled Die cent, which was a perfect AU with traces of red. We were ecstatic as it was the first time we had actually found a coin that we knew was worth quite a sum. We really felt rewarded after all the hours and thousands of coins at which we had looked. I remember my father using the analogy of finding this coin to life in general.  It went something like this: “if you work hard and keep your eye on the goal, success will visit you and good things will come to you on the way”.
1955 Doubled Die Lincoln Cent
(mine looked just like this)
Finding that coin was just the beginning of a long storied stewardship for my dad and me.  Yet, one embarrassing incident happened to me just a couple of weeks after we found it.  I had just graduated to the Brick school in Amherst, NH, which taught 5th through 8th grade. As I tried to make friends with some of the older kids, I started bragging about my dad’s find and, of course, was asked to prove it. I had put a lot of pressure on myself to deliver the goods. 
So, one morning I ‘borrowed’ the coin from my dad’s Blue Book and brought it to school. Later in the day after school, we were outside in the playground and I broke out the coin and started showing it around. This caused a small gathering of kids to surround me, and it also attracted one of the older kids who was a big bully. He came over to see what the attraction was and I handed him the coin. He grabbed it and took a close look at it, and I thought for a moment that we might have a common interest and maybe he wouldn’t be a jerk. 
I was wrong. 
He looked at the coin for a minute and then he tossed it over his shoulder and it landed somewhere on the dirt playground about 20 or 30 feet behind him. I immediately went into panic mode. I had to find the coin; my dad is going to kill me, I was thinking. I went over in the general vicinity of where I thought the coin had landed and drew a line in the sand and dirt to keep people away from me while I searched for the coin. In the meantime, my school bus came and went without me, but I didn’t care. I had to find that coin and I couldn’t.
I lost track of time as I scoured the area for the coin and then I saw it coming, our brand new ’59 Buick. I knew it was my mother and thought for sure I was going to get it. She parked, got out, and came over very concerned that I had missed the bus. I explained what had happened and she cast a glance in the area in which I had been looking.  She then walked over, bent down and picked up a penny and asked, “Is this it?” Yes!  She found it. I couldn’t believe it; she just walked over and picked it up.
On the way home, she lowered the boom. I deserved it. She also left it up to me to either tell my father or not. I chose to tell him – he was quite upset because I didn’t ask permission to take the coin to school, but the scolding was tempered because I owned up to it.

Coins have always been intertwined in my life and are usually not too far away from certain milestones or learning events like I just shared. If you took the time to read this, I bet you have similar stories too.

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.

The Magic Of Microwave Cooking
By Paul Battaglia

Well, another year rolls around and I continue to advance my culinary skills.  One of my life’s passions has been preparing varied cuisines for my wife, our families, friends and guests.  I have the ability to review a recipe, internalize it, and then carry it off on the first or second attempt.
However, I am not here to have our readers subjected to a class in what I prepared over the holidays.  Okay, so what gives here, Paul?
A local customer of mine with whom I have also developed a fine, personal relationship recently engaged me in conversation about his microwave’s abilities.  He asked me to close my eyes and then try to figure out the item he had brought for me.  Ahhhhhh - a generous soul is he.  I obliged him and geared myself for this possibly daunting task upon my olfactory senses.  My first guess and sheer gut told me it was a fair attempt to prepare caramels and/or toffee, a favorite treat in my choice of confections.   He was flattered, but being the straight shooter he is from his graceful Dixie birthright, the man could no longer continue to dupe me. 
By now, readers, all or most of you have SEEN the results of the price he exacted when one forgets to set the microwave’s timer… and does not first clear out the microwave …plus leaves the microwave on for an indefinite period of time …until it causes a transformation of the item to stink out the domicile.
Yup, you are looking at the final product from what is termed an unfortunate slip of the memory bank.
Obverse PCGS Melted Case
Reverse PCGS Melted Case
My customer had purchased from me this (once) stunning 1932 $10 Indian Eagle in PCGS MS63, Old Green Holder and CAC GOLD Bean, to boot.  Somehow, he or someone else plum forgot where this coin had been stashed, yet called upon the services of their Panasonic 1100 watt black-faced microwave unit.  I DO see ample “caramel-looking” plastic amidst the charred cinders.  The latter has a noticeably “original” look, too.  I can almost envision hints of toffee hemi-quaver notes as well.  The rounded, raised obverse rim on the obverse stretches from 6 to 2 o’clock before it crumbles away….much akin to die failure.  The reverse is rather drab, yet stately and austere, nonetheless.  However, at approximately 5 to 6 o’clock, those rich caramel and toffee notes intermingle joyously, wouldn’t one say?  This numismatist budding-chef invites the reader to a hole in the center, no doubt patiently awaiting a plug of sorts… much like a 1795 Flowing Hair Dollar. 
In this case, a plastic plug would be in order with the upshot of having instantly created an R8.  O joy.
RIP (and in pieces).
I have removed my chef’s toque, rest my case and shall say no more.  Happy New Year 2016 to all!

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.

What I Have Learned In My First
Full Calendar Year With RCNH

By Lou Roten

As I mentioned in my first entry in our fledgling newsletter, I became interested in coins before I was 10 because of my grandfather. He had an interest in English history – he knew the kings of England, France and Spain, when they ruled and whom they married; he loved opera and listened to the Saturday Texaco broadcasts; he had a radio to monitor every fire in the city of Boston, taking the MTA to witness those with multiple alarms; he had navigation maps of every section of Boston harbor and loved New England light houses; I learned about New England ghost stories from reading Edgar Rowe Snow who also was Santa to lighthouse residents. To the point, grandpa had some old European (from WWI and II) and Brazilian coins (from cacao bean bags). How I came to love physics and math more than history is still a mystery to me.
My collection was stolen when I was in my early teens. I stopped collecting then but have always had an interest which was renewed in 1999 when the first state quarters came out and I started buying silver proof sets and some bullion gold. A few years later I discovered Morgan dollars and began buying them on eBay; my first lesson in what not to buy - sight unseen raw coins. For many of you, this path has already been traveled.
What have I learned: silver coins should have “life” in the surface, a luster that hits you immediately, whether toned or not. The Morgan dollars I bought on eBay labeled BU or even GEM BU (but not certified) turned out to be almost always cleaned, something I did not recognize then; I did not know of the grading services until later. I look at them now and the surfaces are next to lifeless. Annoyed by my ignorance, I began to study silver coins.
Seeing so many actual uncirculated silver coins here at RCNH, it is almost always obvious to me now when a silver coin does not look natural to my eye. I do not usually know why right away yet, but a small magnifier will reveal hairlines from contact with packaging or whizzing, minor scarring caused by attempts to remove spots, traces of discolor from improper rinsing of dip solution – usually yellowish or brownish yellow spots, as well as small bag marks and scrapes which may not be easily visible with the naked eye, evidence of rub, all of which will affect the grade. The location of bag marks is important as well.  
I learned that the contrast areas of flat grey on the high spots of a coin caused by rub compared to the natural surface luster of a coin will be less noticeable and even removed by cleaning; whizzing will leave many hairlines that could be evident in straight lines across the surface of a coin or in random directions and can, although I have not been able to easily see this yet, cause an unnatural ridge next to letters and devices on the coin’s surface.
Like whizzing, dipping destroys the cartwheel effect on large silver coins by removing a microscopic layer of silver from the flow lines (tiny ridges from the spreading of the metal under the pressure of the dies) of the coin, and can leave residue after incomplete rinsing of a coin while destroying the natural skin of the coin. These methods are designed to make an AU, or even XF, coin appear uncirculated to inexperienced buyers.
I learned that attempts to improve the appearance of a coin, if not done correctly, can become evident years after the coin has been encapsulated - the surface reaction continues with time.
I learned something of eye appeal – a very subjective observation for all of us. However there can be consensus. I am learning what I like to see on a coin; I like to see detail and honest wear on circulated coins, a nice even grey on silver coins with darker contrast around the lettering and devices. Toning at first did not interest me especially because toning can be artificially produced on a coin. The effect of PVC on a coin surface is still difficult for me to see. Toning on a resurfaced coin that has been cleaned is still difficult for me to see compared to toning on an original surface. The toning on the Seated series can be spectacular, the copper reacting to create beautiful blues.
Recently I began looking at selected counterfeits, starting with the 1909 S VDB Lincoln Cent. I learned that there are four positions of the S, and that the S must have a particular shape: one position is vertical, the other three are tilted slightly to the right and in slightly different locations with respect to the 9 0 spacing. The position of the V.D.B must be aligned in a specific way with the ONE CENT lettering; the shape of the 9’s must be right.  I believe I have a good chance of recognizing a counterfeit 1909 S VDB.
Here are examples:

Image 1: The S is slightly to the left of the zero and tilted slightly to the right. Notice the fullness of the S with strong serifs. Notice also the open loops and curves of the 9’s and a non-serif 1.

Image 2: The S is vertical and slightly left of the zero; the S is full with strong serifs. Notice also the open loops and curves of the 9’s and non-serif 1.
Image 1
Image 2
Image 3: notice the position of the tilted S is more in the center of the 0 9 spacing

Image 4:  notice the position of the tilted S is just left of the 0 but lower than in image 1 above.
Image 5: On the reverse, the left line of the B of V.D.B. should align with the left line of the N in CENT.
Image 5
I am lately looking at counterfeits of the 1914-D with improper spacing between the 9 and 1 created by removing the angle of the 4 from a 1944 D – the spacing is unnaturally wide and the surface damage very evident. The shape of the D must be correct.
It is always best to have a rare expensive coin verified as genuine by a dealer with whom you have developed a relationship of trust.
I have begun to look at old coppers. The study continues, all enmeshed in thinking of the history of the coin, its travels, the many pockets or purses it must have occupied, how long it may have been underground, either dropped to be lost for decades, the copper camouflaged by the brown earth, or buried intentionally. It seems to me now that determining the surface condition of copper coins will be much more difficult than for silver

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:

Question:  “I read your description on coins and notice that the word original is often included.  Aren’t all certified coins original?”  J.Y.

Answer:  Thanks for the question, and here is my answer.  Most certified coins that are earlier classic issues are not original.  The grading services long ago made a decision to grade according to commercial acceptability.  Commercially acceptable to me means that the coin would appeal to a novice buyer and a knowledgeable buyer can look at the coin and understand why it is graded.  I prefer an original coin because it has character.  It may exhibit a unique combination of attributes ranging from the toning, strike, luster and planchet quality.  I prefer that coins are not dipped or have anything added or removed from the surface.  My focus for our inventory or my own collection is the same…to buy coins that are attractive overall and untampered with.
I recently examined an expensive Three Cent Silver in MS-66 condition.  It recently sold in auction and was attractively toned on both sides.  The next time I saw the coin, the obverse was swabbed and the toning was removed.  My guess is that the coin was tampered with in the hopes that it may upgrade.  It still graded MS-66 and was given up on
and reoffered in its original grade but now with a totally different look.  My feeling is that we are stewards for future generations of collectors, the least we can do is offer them originally preserved pieces of history.

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


Answers To Coin Trivia Questions

  1. Benjamin Franklin
  2. Charlotte, N.C., Carson City, NV., Dahlonega, GA., Denver, CO.,  New Orleans, LA., Philadelphia, PA., San Francisco, CA., West Point, NY.
  3. 1942, on the nickel.

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on Monday, 04 January 2016 14:40. Posted in News

RCNH will be located at table 1116 at the the January F.U.N. Show in Tampa, Florida from Wednesday 1/6/16 to Saturday 1/9/16.  If anyone would like to come by and say hello or have coins appraised, free of charge, please feel free to stop by table 1116.

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