Sunday, March 31, 2013

Coin Roll Links

Two of the 250 "We Are Lucky To Be Loved World Tour" medals struck in Nebraska found by one Russian. A beautiful memorial

.Michigan man finds Mexican 1754 King Ferdinand VI his driveway.

Check your change, especially in Santa Cruz. The Santa Cruz Coin Club will be putting Buffalo Nickels, Silver Dimes, Steel Cents and more into circulation.

One of only three known 1936 Canadian dot cents sells in the US for $250,000. Sounds like a bargain compared to one of the five 1913 Liberty nickels.

An analysis of certified coin population reports and modern coin values

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Time Traveler's Guide to Coin Collecting in the early 1940's

Illustrated Catalog and Price List No. 17 of Coins, Paper Money and Medals of The United States and Foreign Countries.While browsing the collectibles section of our local Half Price Books I came across a small 84 page pamphlet titled the "Illustrated Catalog and Price List No. 17 of Coins, Paper Money and Medals of The United States and Foreign Countries." It is undated but the cover states "Price 25c - For Sale by Norman Shultz Numismatist P. O. Box 746, Salt Lake City, Utah." with the disclaimer: "This Cancels All Previous Lists."

The cover is grey card stock with purple text and features what appear to be watermark illustrations of the obverse and reverse of a 1794 US Dollar, an 1851 Humbert Fifty Dollar Gold Octagonal, and a 1776 Continental Dollar. The back cover reads:

"Wanted U.S. and FOREIGN Gold Coins. I will pay 30 percent over face for any of these in nice condition, $20.00 Gold Pieces, $26.00 each, and others accordingly. I also want other U.S. Coins in nice condition. Pioneer Gold Coins, Colonial Coins, Unc. Lincoln and Indian Head Cents, etc."
Wanted U.S. and FOREIGN Gold CoinsThere is nothing to indicate who printed the pamphlet so it may have been self-published. There is no date on the pamphlet which makes for a nice, if not too difficult challenge. Norman Shultz offered "Liberty Standing Type Half Dollars" dated 1940 to 1943 for 85 cents each. Under the heading "Washington Centennial Quarters" he offered "1936 P, D or S mint, to 1943, Unc. 60c each." 1943 is also the latest year listed for uncirculated Mercury Dimes which he sold for 25 cents each.

Interestingly, the "Jefferson head" is listed under "Indian Head and Buffalo Type" nickels. The 1939-D cost 35 cents while the "1943, S or P, Part Silver. Unc." were 15 cents each.

The Lincoln Cents section includes a "1909, S mint, with  V. D. B., Unc., $3.50; Fine, $2.50; V.G., $2.25. Rare." Again, 1943 is the latest date listed but unlike the part silver Jefferson nickel, no mention is made of the change to steel for the 1943 cents. For that reason, I'll guess that Mr. Shultz published this price list in 1942. It's possibly the catalog a collector would receive by answering this ad in the February, 1942 issue of Popular Mechanics.

The last page in the pamphlet is a full page ad: "Kodachrome Transparencies 35mm - Scenic Views of the West in Full Natural Color - Scenes taken with 35mm Contax Camera....each 50c or 6 for $2.50." Was Norman Shultz a photographer and numismatist or were these sold on consignment for somebody else?

After some quick research on the internet, I found Norman Shultz was not only a well known numismatist but was inducted into the ANA's Numismatic Hall of Fame in 1984. Ed Reiter interviewed Norman Shultz for the New York Times in 1981. He includes portions of that interview in his PCGS article from 1999: "Norman Shultz Longtime Dean of Numismatics". Part 2 of that article is here.

In future Coin Roll blog entries I will examine and describe this fascinating pamphlet. It includes Norman Schwartz's comments on U.S Pattern Coins, Commemorative Coins, California and other "Pioneer Gold Coins." This catalog provides a unique perspective on coin collecting and coin dealing in the western US in the early 1940's.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Does Copper Bullion Make Cents?

I attended a coin show sponsored by the Cedar Rapids Coin Club last weekend. It appeared to be well attended by both dealers and visitors. Judging by the contents of the dealer's display cases I'd estimate that 95% of coin collectors are interested in Morgan Dollars. To be fair though, that's like saying most gamblers play slot machines because that is what you see most often in casinos. Visitors could find most coin types displayed somewhere or in notebooks. Currency and civil war tokens were well represented and there were more gold, world, and ancient coins than I remember in previous shows.

New to me however, was copper bullion. I've seen the videos of people hoarding pre-1982 US copper cents and I know the melt value of one 50-cent roll is currently $1.15. But, according to the US Mint:
"...the newly enacted final regulation prohibits, with certain exceptions, the exportation, melting or treatment of one-cent and five-cent coins...a fine of not more than $10,000, or imprisonment of not more than five years, or both, against a person who knowingly violates the regulation."
The fine and the threat of prison, or both, takes the fun right out of melting pennies, doesn't it? However, you might point out, there is speculation to be had in hoarding and selling rolls of pennies. Nothing illegal about that, is there? But there is the problem of finding pre-1982 copper pennies in quantity.

Smelters, sensing a new market, have filled the demand with copper bullion. The bullion market makes the metal easy to obtain in quantity, but with a value quoted in dollars per pound, you will need a lot of load-bearing storage space.

Some people still want copper cents because they expect an economic apocalypse of some kind. Personally, I'm not so pessimistic on the US economy to be hoarding copper, silver, or gold in any form. In fact, in an economic apocalypse, I'd expect copper in the form of insulated wire to be more useful than bullion. I'll be limiting my coin show speculations to Morgan Dollars.

Monday, March 4, 2013

When Q. David Bowers is Interested, Coin Collectors Listen

As described in Wikipedia: Q. David Bowers’
"…dedication to the hobby and his lifelong interest in rare coins, along with his pursuit of scholarly knowledge, have made him one of the most honored and revered numismatists of all time"
In his recent column in Coin World Magazine, Mr. Bowers is intrigued by the great differences in mint mark positions on 1973 and 1975 Jefferson Nickels as described by Mike Diamond in another Coin World column from the Dec. 24, 2012 issue. In that column, Mike Diamond notes:
“Mint marks were punched into working dies by hand up until 1990. For any given series and date, a collector could track down any number of minutely different Mint mark locations.”
Mr. Diamond continues:
“Remember, however, that tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousand of coins can be struck from a single die pair, so such varieties are not considered rare.”
Rare or not, Mr. Bowers was intrigued enough to buy an “errant Mint mark 1975-D” as he calls it for $25.00.

Harris 16x loupeRepunched mintmarks and misplaced mintmarks have enjoyed an active niche in numismatics for years. These mintmark varieties add interest and a premium to otherwise common coins. 1970’s Jefferson Nickels struck for circulation certainly qualify as common. Mr. Bowers acknowledges the huge mintage numbers, but also the possibility that they are indeed rare. Mr. Bowers has had considerable success in numismatics as well as a large audience. Perhaps his interest will translate into wider collector interest. Thanks for the tip Mr. Bowers; I’ll be checking my change, with a magnifier of course.