Friday, December 30, 2016

Spreading the word about coins

This post is for anyone looking to build an audience, fan base, or community. For instance, numismatic professionals, especially those who sell online. Facebook group admins will benefit from what follows; likewise, coin club members and anyone who wants to help spread the word about the joys of numismatics. My goal is to help you understand how social and micro media can help expand your footprint (digital and real-world), whether that means driving sales, capturing mindshare, increasing opt-ins, reaching new prospects, or simply getting more Likes or Followers.


Marketing is a game of eyeballs. How many eyeballs can you get to look in your direction? And, of those, how many can you get to pay attention? And, most important of all, how many can you get to return once they've left?

Please do not make the mistake of thinking that marketing is about hammering away at people with non-stop ads and pitches. It isn't. Good marketing is about building relationships.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Odds and Ends 12/20/16

It's been a over a week since I last posted. Sorry about that. I've been doing those behind the scenes things that keep The Coin Blog awesome.
I wanted to do something different in this post. Instead of a straight up article, I am going to highlight all of the cool things that happened in the past week or so.
Mint Error Coin Guide App

Monday, December 12, 2016

Bargain hunting for coins

By: Tim Stroud

If you are like me, you try and pay as little as possible for the coins you add to your collection. Here, I will share what I do when hunting for coins at bargain prices.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Coin Mining

What is coin mining?

Google "coin mining" and you're going to see page after page of Bitcoin mining websites. That is 100% not what I discuss in this article.

Real coin mining is when someone purchases a large amount of a certain type of coin, wheat pennies, buffalo nickels, mercury dimes, etc., and proceeds to remove all of the better than average value coins. I know this sounds like what many roll or bag searchers do, but there is the added element of speed.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Numismatic snobbery: A rant

Warning:  This post has some colorful language. Nothing crazy, but I wouldn't recommend it for anyone under 14.

I am going to make a few assumptions about you. Yeah, you; the one reading this right now.

- You are a coin collector.
- You have not spent a lot of money on the coins in your collection. In fact, you probably got many of them for face value.
- You are under 65 years old.
- You do not routinely visit a local coin shop, nor do you attend more than two coin shows a year, if that. There is a very good chance you attend none at all.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Royal Mint is taking a golden leap forward

This morning there was a post on LinkedIn that caught my eye. It was a piece from The Telegraph that talked about how the Royal Mint is going to begin offering gold trading using blockchain technology.

Are you asking yourself, "What the hell does blockchain mean?" Don't worry, I'm sure you're not alone. I knew the term was somehow related to cryptocurrency, but that was all. I spent a couple of hours reading and bouncing ideas off my three-year-old, always a good sounding board, and decided to write a little bit about it.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Remarkable Machine

I hadn't even posted the final piece in my 3-part series about computerized grading when I was contacted with some incredible news. There is a coin dealer in northwestern Washington named Tim Rathjen, he runs The Stamp & Coin Place. He has also invented a machine. At first glance, the contraption appears to be a simple coin sorter. It isn't until you look in the collection bins that you see the genius at work.

Called simply, "The Machine," by it's creators, the invention utilizes bright field digital imagery and coin recognition software to sort coins by type, year, mint, grade, and value.

Saturday, November 26, 2016




Here is what you need to do:

1. Like our Facebook page.
2. Share/retweet the Facebook post/Tweet.
3. Join our email list.

That's it!

Already Liked the page and joined the list?
Great! Share the post and you're entered. Also, thanks!

New entries will be taken through 12/16/16
Winner will be chosen on 12/17/16

***Please note : We can only ship within the United States. If you are located out of the country, I'm sorry but we do not have the means to ship to you at this time.***


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Canadian One Kilo Silver Commem - From CoinUpdate

On November 11, the Royal Canadian Mint officially launched an extraordinary numismatic homage to the country’s 150th anniversary of confederation. The pure silver coin, with a weight of one kilogram, pays tribute to the many commemorative and circulation coins issued since Canadian confederation in 1867. The collage-style design includes some of some of Canada’s finest and most widely recognized coins, in precise detail, at actual diameters, and in ultra-high relief. (Scroll down for more on these coins, and on the history of Canada’s confederation.)

Featuring approximately 35 obverse or reverse images from previous and current circulation coinage, this amazing large-format coin makes the ideal canvas of purest silver. The subjects range from the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote to the Victory nickel of the Second World War; from the War of 1812 to the 50th anniversary of the Canadian flag; from the Canadian Arctic Expedition to the Canadian Centennial series. And of course the iconic and ever-familiar Voyaguer dollar, though hard to find, is included the design.

The obverse includes the effigy of HM Queen Elizabeth II as created by Susanna Blunt and used on all Canadian circulation and many commemorative coins since 2003. The reverse of the 2017-dated coin is sure to include an example of most every collector’s favorite Canadian coin, with many being easy to spot. Suitable as a collector’s piece as well as for presentation, this one-kilo coin is limited to 500 pieces.

Read the rest here...

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Road to Computerized Grading - Part 3

So far we have covered why an impartial and automated grading option would be beneficial and how the machine itself could possibly function.

Unfortunately, I do not foresee any of the current major grading companies working to develop this level of technology. It would be irresponsible of them to try. Building a computer that can identify, authenticate, and grade coins is going to be a cash-hungry black hole for a large company. The amount of funding it would take to get the computer fully functional, especially to accurately grade mint state coins, where eye appeal is a factor, would put too large a strain on an existing company's cash flow to make the endeavor worthwhile. In addition, the current companies have jobs to protect. No one likes to let people go. When computerized grading becomes fully functional it will mean a loss of jobs.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Unscrupulous Coin Dealers - What to look for.

"You're off the edge of the map, mate. Here there be monsters." ~ Captain Barbosa Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

I wanted to post something a little different. Lately, I have been focusing on how to improve the hobby and, hopefully, how to save some of the larger companies we attribute with numismatics. This time, I want to call bullshit on three companies:

Littleton Coin Company
National Collector's Mint
Home Shopping Network

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Recap of the Watertown, SD Coin Show on 11/12/16

I attended the semi-annual Watertown, SD coin show this past Saturday. Here are a few of my more interesting purchases.
I am having a heck of a time finding information about this Lincoln bronze medal. If you know what it is, or who may be able to point me in the right direction, please let me know.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Help Support Apollo 11 Commemorative - From Mint News Blog


For the next few weeks, collectors and space-program enthusiasts are turning their attention to the Apollo 11 Moon landing, and its 50th anniversary in 2019. At issue is the passage of the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act. The manned Moon landing was a singular achievement for humankind, and one of the greatest moments in modern American history. Only one country gets to be first to put a man on the moon, and on July 20, 1969, the United States became that country.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Affordable Large Cents - from Whitman's Coin Update


Struck every year from 1793 to 1857 (with the exception of 1815), the large cent was one of America’s most commonly used denominations of the first half of the 19th century. The cent, or penny as it is often called, might now be a mostly obsolete and rarely used denomination, but at one time it had actual value and people used it every day in commerce. It is no wonder then that in 1857, when the large cent was replaced by a smaller version, people started searching for different dates of the denomination and putting sets together of the coins they’d grown so accustomed to, essentially leading to the beginning of large-scale American coin collecting. Now, more than a century and a half after the last large cents disappeared from circulation, interest in the series remains strong, and many collectors put together date or even variety sets of the different types. This, however, is not a cheap endeavor, and the series might seem daunting to the collector on a budget. However, this article will show that even at a budget of $100 per coin, there are plenty of options to add some appealing large cents to a collection.

Read more here.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Road to Computerized Grading - Part 2

See: verb - perceive with the eyes, discern visually

Can we teach a computer to see?

There are three necessary components for sight to happen. First, you need an eye, something to detect light. In the mechanical world, a camera would serve this function.
Second, you need a brain to decode the messages being passed along the optic nerve. A computer with a software package can accomplish this.

Third, and this is the most critical, you need cognition. That is the ability to understand what is being seen. For instance, when we see a yellow car with a small sign on top and the letters T-A-X-I on both sides, we know that is a taxi. Essentially, our brains take in bits of data and render an opinion based on experience.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Stack silver when it's cheap, to buy a true rarity later

This will be quick. Just an idea I had to slowly grow your money by stacking silver with the intent of purchasing more expensive coins.

I'm assuming everyone has a vague idea what market bubbles are. The worst in recent history was the housing market bubble that popped and caused the crash of 2008. Remember? The crash that caused metal prices to skyrocket? Silver topped out at about $47 per ounce and gold peaked up around $1,800 per ounce.

Thursday, November 3, 2016


In last week's post, "Is Numismatics in Trouble?" I attempted to point out that the hobby is changing, not dying. Social media has given collectors the ability to share information for free, so there is shrinking need for old media. Social media has also provided a way for collectors to talk about their hobby and show off their collections which is phasing out the desire to join coin clubs. The internet has made coins as readily available as they've ever been. For the casual collector, who does not want to closely examine their pieces prior to purchasing, this is the path of least resistance to scratching their numismatic itch.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Road to Computerized Grading - Part 1

Prior to the metals rush of the 1980's, coin buyers had two options when purchasing coins. One, they could become numismatic gurus with detailed knowledge of the series they collected. Two, they could choose to trust a dealer who, hopefully, was honest.

Unfortunately, not all dealers were honest. Grade inflation was common practice. Unwary coin buyers were being fleeced with no indication that something might be amiss. I don’t believe all dealers with over-graded coins did so on purpose. Most collectors know the tendency to overstate our coins' grades, especially when we're first starting out in the hobby. Dealers, especially smaller mom and pop shops without access to a large volume of coins to inspect, sometimes unintentionally over-graded their stock simply because they did not know better. It is easier to believe you have an uncirculated coin than a nice AU, especially if this minute difference results in a large jump in value. This kind of "one-up" grading was an albatross around the hobby’s neck.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

1883 V Nickel makes a mark on history

By Chris Ireland

1883 V Nickel, the first year of issue. When they first came out people got the idea of gold plating them and, since the word CENTS did not appear on it, they were easily mistaken for $5 gold coins. These became known as "racketeer" nickels.
The first racketeer was a man named Josh and he was deaf and mute. He would buy a 5 cent cigar and just put the gold plated nickel on the counter. If the cashier knew what he was looking at Josh would walk out with his purchase. However, many times Josh would receive $4.95 change and would walk away a winner. He was eventually tried but not convicted because his lawyer claimed that he was unable to protest the cashier's mistake. That's how we got the phrase, "I was just joshing."
The word CENTS was added to prevent people from being scammed. The nickels with CENTS on them sell for considerably more than the no CENTS variety. These were made from 1883-1913. (The 1913 is extremely rare and examples sell for millions.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

I made a mistake!

In the post Is numismatics in danger? I made a reference to a 2016 Silver Eagle costing $53.95 when purchased from the U.S, Mint and $21.19 when purchased from an online coin shop. Like a moron, I was comparing a Proof ASE to a regular strike ASE. That's what I get for hurrying. I have removed that part of the post. Sorry for the mistake!

The REAL price difference between the U.S. Mint and an online coin shop for SIMILAR products (2016 ASE Proof) is:

U.S. Mint - $53.95
Online Coin Shop - $55.99

The U.S. Mint price is clearly better.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Is numismatics in danger?

I have seen a statistic making the rounds on social media; it says the average ANA member is in their mid-sixties. I have also seen extensive coverage on the U.S. Mint's Invigorating the Coin Collecting Hobby - Numismatic Forum. Both of these topics address the same problem: How to get more and younger people interested in numismatics.

My mind dwelt on this subject for about a week. I was trying to figure out how to bring younger people into numismatics, thus dropping the average age of ANA members and invigorating the hobby. I considered coin collecting apps, better social media engagement, and a recent acquaintance had recommended taking to the schools to use coins as teaching tools. It wasn't until last night, when I finally reached a level of supreme frustration, that I asked myself a question that flipped the situation on its head.

Is there really a problem?

From what I have read, two metrics were used to measure the current state of numismatics. One is the average age of ANA members. The other is the number of active customers the U.S. Mint has.

Absorb that for a moment. I'll wait...

Thursday, October 13, 2016

An Interview with Daniel Malone - Founder of CoinHELP!

I have known Daniel Malone since around the same time I created He has created an informative numismatic website and a supportive and factual coin collecting group on Facebook (links to both below).

Can you give us a summary of your time as a numismatist?

I don't remember when I wasn't involved in numismatics. My dad and grandpa both were long time dealers well before I was born. My first memory of holding a Morgan Dollar was at the age of three; my dad showed me how to hold it by the edge. I have always been fascinated with coins and collectibles because of growing up in the business.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Whoever Figures Out Computerized Grading Will Be the Google of Numismatics

Is the numismatic world ready for computerized grading?

For the past three decades we've relied on the opinions of others to evaluate and authenticate our coins. Are we ready to turn away from human opinions in favor of computer analytics? Most people don't like change, let alone embrace it. So, I would like to remind you of the baggage that comes along with human grading. Two pieces of luggage, really.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What I've Been Up To

Hey there everybody. Sorry it has been such a long time since I posted anything. I am working on a couple projects at the moment. First, I have begun writing for Whitman's Coin Update. Second, I have an idea for a new novel that I am trying to flesh out to see if it will work. So, for now, The Coin Blog is going to be kind of quiet. In lieu of creating new material in three different places (Coin Update, my possible-novel, and here) I will do my best to share numismatic news that I find interesting and probably include a little commentary.

Here is the first article I wrote for Coin Update. It's about using NFC tags as a security precaution in TPG slabs.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

An Interview with PCGS about Tech

I have been a fan of PCGS's online presence for a while. I asked them if they would be open to an interview about how tech is used in their organization and, much to my delight, they agreed. Enjoy!




PCGS Secure is an important program, especially these days with all of the counterfeits surfacing. Let's jump right in. What happens when a user scans the PCGS Secure QR code?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Twitter Basics for Coin Collectors, Sellers, and Numismatists

I think of it this way; if Facebook is the world's biggest online family reunion, then Twitter is the world's biggest online party.

There are precious few coin collectors, dealers, and numismatists who maintain a strong presence on Twitter. It's really too bad, because Twitter offers opportunities that can not be found on other social media platforms.

Things that are frowned upon on Facebook, like sending friend requests to strangers or posting and sharing a lot of unrelated content, are common practices on Twitter. For instance, it is not uncommon to Follow (the Twitter equivalent of a Facebook friend request) 20-40 people or organizations in a day, especially when you get are first getting started. So, let's dig in.

Getting Started

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Coin Security


I saw a tweet from PCGS the other day about the new security measures they put into their holders. They use microprinting  and a QR code to verify authenticity. I appreciate that they are trying. With all of the counterfeit coins turning up, better security is a necessity.

However, with the level of technology that currently exists, I feel like a tech-forward company like PCGS could do better. Here's why:

The U.S. Postal Service (always at the forefront of technology) began using microprinting in 1992. The U.S. Mint added it to the $20 bill in 2004. Now, in 2016, it has been incorporated into PCGS holders.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Can They Count?

I saw a tweet tonight from Coin World that the U.S. Mint has 9,000 gold Mercury dimes left over.

Quick question, what in the.... (ahem) heck goes on at the Mint that they can not get production and total allowable order numbers to coincide?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Advice on Organizing Your Collection

By: Tim Stroud

Coin collections can be meticulously organized,or resemble a hoard, as is the case with half of my collection, which are simply stored in various types of containers all mixed together. A true collection however is organized in such a way that one can preserve and admire the coins from time to time, as well as show them off to fellow collectors.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Numismatists can Embrace Technology Without Sacrificing the Old-time Feel of the Hobby

Technology can benefit collectors in ways we haven't thought of yet.

About a month ago I read a short article about former ANA President Walter Ostromecki saying, “We have to start thinking differently and doing things in new ways. We shouldn’t misuse technology, but we can embrace it and take advantage of its strengths."

The article went on to mention the internet, but little else about technology. When I saw the headline I had such high hopes for an informative article, something that went beyond, "Hey, this important guy said such and such, but we didn't bother to think too hard about it," and was disappointed. Simply mentioning an old piece of technology (the internet as we know it is about 20 years old - that's ancient in tech years) and sprinkling with a few quotes doesn't make for inspiring reading.

So, with that in mind, let's talk Numismatic Tech.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Story Behind the Coin: Buffalo Nickel: Part 2

Release and Production

The first coins to be distributed were given out on February 22, 1913, when Taft presided at groundbreaking ceremonies for the National American Indian Memorial at Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island, New York. The memorial, a project of department store magnate Rodman Wanamaker, was never built, and today the site is occupied by an abutment for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Forty nickels were sent by the Mint for the ceremony; most were distributed to the Native American chiefs who participated. Payment for Fraser's work was approved on March 3, 1913, the final full day of the Taft administration. In addition to the $2,500 agreed upon, Fraser received $666.15 (US$15,900 with inflation) for extra work and expenses through February 14.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Story Behind the Coin: Buffalo Nickel: Part 1

No one knew while it was being conceived that the Buffalo Nickel would become an American numismatic icon.

Buffalo Nickel


In 1883, the Liberty Head nickel was issued, featuring designs by Mint Engraver Charles E. Barber. After the coin was released, it was modified to add the word "CENTS" to the reverse. Because of the new nickel's similarity in size with the gold half eagle, criminals gilded the new nickels and passed them off as five dollar coins. An Act of Congress, passed into law on September 26, 1890 required that coinage designs not be changed until they had been in use 25 years, unless Congress authorized the change. The act made the current five-cent piece and silver dollar exceptions to the twenty-five year rule; they were made eligible for immediate redesign. However, the Mint continued to strike the Liberty Head nickel in large numbers through the first decade of the 20th century.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Coins You Can Find: The Lincoln Cent: Modern Issues

The Lincoln Memorial design receives mixed reviews.

Lincoln Memorial Cent

Lincoln Memorial design (1959–2008)

On Sunday morning, December 21, 1958, President Eisenhower's press secretary, James Hagerty, issued a press release announcing that a new reverse design for the cent would begin production on January 2, 1959. The new design, by Frank Gasparro, had been developed by the Treasury in consultation with the Lincoln Sesquicentennial Commission. Approved by the President and by Secretary of the Treasury Robert B. Anderson, the new design featured the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The redesign came as a complete surprise, as word of the proposal had not been leaked. The coin was officially released on February 12, 1959, the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's birth, although some pieces entered circulation early.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Coins You Can Find: The Lincoln Cent: Release and Production

Steel Penny

The Lincoln cent sees the light of day.


The Philadelphia Mint struck 20,000,000 of the new coin even before its design was made official by Secretary MacVeagh. Dies for the San Francisco Mint, prepared at Philadelphia, were ready for shipment to San Francisco on June 22.

There was intense public interest in the new cents, especially since the Mint had not permitted images of the new coin to be printed in the newspapers. The Lincoln craze sparked by the centennial had not yet subsided, and there was widespread speculation about the coin's design. The Mint decided to plan for a simultaneous release of the coin across the United States on August 2, and Treasury Department branches were sent what were thought to be adequate supplies.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Coins You Can Find: The Lincoln Cent: Inception and Design

Wheat Penny

The first president to appear on a regularly circulating coin.


In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt wrote to his Secretary of the Treasury, Leslie Mortier Shaw, complaining that U.S. coinage lacked artistic merit, and enquiring if it would be possible to engage a private artist, such as sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, to prepare new coin designs. At Roosevelt's instructions, the Mint hired Saint-Gaudens to redesign the cent and the four gold pieces: the double eagle ($20), eagle ($10), half eagle ($5), and quarter eagle ($2.50). As the designs of those pieces had remained the same for 25 years, they could be changed without an act of Congress. The Indian Head cent, which the Lincoln cent replaced, had been introduced in 1859.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Drama Behind the Saint-Gaudens Gold Double Eagle

Saint-Gaudens Gold Double Eagle

President Roosevelt tries to spruce up American coinage.

Late in 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt, one of the most numismatic friendly presidents, decided U.S. coinage needed a facelift. He was on a mission to bolster America's image worldwide, a la the Great White Fleet which circumnavigated the globe between 1907-1909. Roosevelt was an admirer of ancient Greek coins, especially those of high-relief designs (where the features of the coin project far outward from the field) and saw an opportunity to further his cause. He wrote to Leslie Mortier Shaw, Secretary of the Treasury:

"I think the state of our coinage is artistically of atrocious hideousness. Would it be possible, without asking permission of Congress, to employ a man like (Augustus) Saint-Gaudens to give us a coinage which would have some beauty?"

Saturday, June 4, 2016

"Piece of eight! Pieces of eight!" The Spanish 8 Reales

Spanish 8-Reales

The Spanish 8-Reales silver coin set the tone for future international trade coins.

The real (meaning: "royal", plural: reales) was a unit of currency in Spain for several centuries after the mid-14th century, but changed in value relative to other units introduced. In 1864, the real was replaced by a new escudo, then by the peseta in 1868, when a real came to mean a quarter of a peseta.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Vermont Coppers: A Quick History

(I wanted to share something I have a personal tie to. I live in Minnesota now, but I grew up in Vermont. So, let's talk copper...)

The history of Vermont copper coins.

Vermont coppers were copper coins issued by the Vermont Republic. They were first struck in 1785 and continued to be minted until Vermont's admission to the United States in 1791.


On June 10, 1785, the House of Representatives of the Freemen of Vermont met to select a committee of three to consider a request from Reuben Harmon, Jr. of Rupert to mint copper coins for the new entity Vermont. Though Vermont's legislative branch at this period was unicameral, the Governor's Council, a part of the executive branch, acted as a sort of upper house. The Governor's Council appointed one of its members to join the committee studying the proposal. On June 15, 1785, the committee presented to the House of Representatives of the Freemen of Vermont their recommendation that Vermont grant Harmon "...the exclusive right of coining Copper within this State for the term of two years..." The approved language required the coins to have a minimum weight of one-third of a troy ounce (160 grains). The House approved the measure and sent the recommendation to the Governor's Council which concurred. On June 17, 1785, Harmon posted a required bond and began establishing his mint situated beside Hagar's Brook in Rupert.

Design and motto

1785 and 1786 landscape design

Vermont Penny

Vermont Penny

The same committee was retained to select a motto for the coins, and to oversee design. The design of the obverse, on the initial 1785 and 1786 coins, featured a sun rising above the Green Mountains and a plow in the foreground encircled by the inscription VERMONTS. RES. PUBLICA., which can be translated as the republic, or commonwealth, of Vermont. The design of the reverse of the coin is an appropriation of an earlier 1783 American coin called the Nova Constellatio (new constellation) design. It features a large single star emanating rays, with an eye within, it is surrounded by a wreath of 13 smaller stars, and they are encircled by the motto STELLA QUARTA DECIMA which translates as the 14th star. Subsequent issues altered the inscription on the obverse, variously using VERMONTIS. RES. PUBLICA. and VERMONTENSIUM. RES. PUBLICA.

1787 and 1788 bust design

Vermont Penny

Vermont Penny

In October 1785, with new Vermont coppers in circulation, Harmon sought an extension of his exclusive two-year contract. An act, possibly written with Harmon, himself a former member of the House, extended the agreement eight years from July 1, 1787, and described a dramatically different design. The obverse was to bear a bust, encircled with a new motto reading AUCTORITATE VERMONTENSIUM. which translates as by authority of Vermont. The reverse of the coin depicted a seated woman, and the inscription INDE ET LIB an abbreviation of independence and liberty. Sixteen variations of dies for the second coins were made. The new design closely resembled the British halfpenny then in circulation in the American colonies. On the British coin was a bust of George III encircled by the inscription GEORGIVS. III. REX. The reverse bore a seated female embodiment of Britain called Britannia. A common explanation of the redesign of Vermont's coins, so close to the British half-pence model, has been made to make their circulation and exchange easier beyond Vermont's boundaries.


While the 1785 Act of the Vermont House describes the design of the bust and seated female figure design in detail, no notes of the period exist on the meaning of either the mottoes or imagery of Vermont's copper coinage. Twentieth century numismatists Kenneth Bressett, Tony Carlotto and Hillyer Ryder offer nearly identical explanations of the imagery and mottoes. The depiction of the sun rising above the Green Mountains is to indicate peace, and possibly the approval of Divine Providence. The plow may simply represent agriculture, a primary activity and industry of the young state, but might also allude to the story of Cincinnatus the ancient Roman citizen-farmer who left his plow in the field to serve Rome as consul, fight the encroachment of aristocracy, and later return to his field. The large single star, with the eye, on the 1785 and 1786 issues, is nearly identical in design to a widely available typographic device, or dingbat, of the time called the Eye of Providence, a Deist and Masonic image suggestive of an all-seeing God. Here however the star may simply be Vermont itself, centered among the 13 stars likely used to suggest the existing 13 American states. The addition of the motto STELLA QUARTA DECIMA, the 14th star, is cited as a hope for eventual statehood. The seated female on the reverse side of the second design is modeled on the Britannia figure then on British half-penny. A similar seated female is found on the reverse of the coat of arms of Vermont, and is described variously as Agriculture, or Ceres (Roman goddess of agriculture).

Photo courtesy of Coin HELP!
Information from Wikipedia - Used under CC BY-SA license

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The First Chief Engraver of the US Mint: Robert Scot

Robert Scot was the first official Chief Engraver of the US Mint

Robert Scot (October 2, 1745 – November 3, 1823) was Chief Engraver of the United States Mint from 1793 until his death in 1823. Scot designed the popular Flowing Hair dollar coinage along with the Liberty Cap half cent. Scot is perhaps best known for his design, the Draped Bust, which was used on many silver and copper coins. Robert Scot was the most prolific engraver of early American patriotic iconography, with symbols and images depicting rebellion, unity, victory, and liberty throughout his career in America.

Draped Bust Silver Dollar

Early life

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Grading the Graders

The Pros and Cons of the Top Three TPG’s

Let’s take a look at the top three TPG’s, or “Third Party Graders,” and examine the pros and cons. PCGS, NGC, and ANACS are all reputable grading services and by far the best in the business. Although my graded coin collection consists of slabs from all three companies, ANACS is far and away my favorite.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Armenian Numismatic and Antiquities Society

I came upon this group while searching for contributors. I've corresponded with Dr. Chuck Hajinian, very friendly guy. They allowed me to share the following article.
September 2, 2015
Armenian Numismatic and Antiquities Society Launched in Chicago to Spotlight Ancient Artifacts
CHICAGO, IL–A new organization, the Armenian Numismatics and Antiquities Society (ANAS) was launched in August on the sidelines of the American Numismatics Association’s World’s Fair of Money in Chicago. This first gathering of the society included a public talk by renowned numismatic experts Dr. Levon Saryan and Frank Kovacs.
The fledgling organization has a website and plans to publish a quarterly journal. Dr. Saryan is vice president and journal editor and Dr. Chuck Hajinian is president of the group.
The goal of ANAS is to unite Armenians worldwide in their quest for knowledge about Armenian coins and related items and to provide a forum for them to share their collections, post items for sale, and exchange ideas. The website is intended to be a place where anyone can find interesting items relating to Armenian history. In short, a “virtual museum” available to anyone in the world.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Coins You Can Find - Indian Head Cent - Later Years and Beyond

Indian Head Cent Production Saw Big Ups and Downs over Last Three Decades

1909-S Indian Head Penny

In the postwar years, the heavy production of cents was scaled back, as hoarding ceased and some of the slack was taken up by other base-metal coins. Nevertheless, the various issues of small coins, at that time not redeemed by the government, caused another overabundance in commerce. The glut was not completely broken until the Act of March 3, 1871 allowed redemption of cents and other minor coins in lots of $20 or more. Pursuant to this act, over thirty million copper-nickel cents, of both the Indian Head and Flying Eagle designs, were redeemed. The Mint melted these for re-coinage.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Coins You Can Find - Indian Head Cent - Civil War Years

During the Civil War cents were snatched up as quickly as they could be minted.

1863 Indian Head Penny

The surplus of cents was relieved in 1861 by the economic chaos fueled by the American Civil War. At the end of that year, the banks stopped paying out gold, which thereafter commanded a premium over paper money. These greenbacks, beginning in the following year, were issued in large quantities by the federal government. Silver vanished from commerce by June 1862, as its price rose, leaving the cent the sole federal coin that had not entirely vanished from commerce through hoarding. Back when there had been a glut of cents, merchants had quietly tucked them away in bulk. One story tells of a New York City floor that collapsed beneath the weight of stored pennies. But even these caches didn't last forever, and soon NYC was running dry of cents.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Coins You Can Find - Indian Head Cent - Inception

The Indian Head Cent made is debut, saturating U.S. cities with copper coins.

1859 Indian Head Penny

Production of the Indian Head cent began in 1859. The new pennies differed slightly from the 1858 pattern coin which had the laurel leaves in the reverse wreath in bunches of five leaves. The 1859 cent had them in bunches of six. Cents dated 1858 with the adopted reverse (with six-leaf bunches) are known, were most likely struck in 1859, and are extremely rare.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Coins You Can Find - Indian Head Cent - Design

The new penny's design draws cheers and jeers.

Indian Head Penny

Longacre advocated his Indian Head design in an August 21, 1858, letter to Snowden:

"From the copper shores of Lake Superior, to the silver mountains of Potosi from the Ojibwa to the Aramanian, the feathered tiara is as characteristic of the primitive races of our hemisphere, as the turban is of the Asiatic. Nor is there anything in its decorative character, repulsive to the association of Liberty…

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Coins You Can Find - Indian Head Cent - The Beginning

The Birth of the Indian Head Cent

Indian Head Penny

The half-dollar-sized large cent was struck from 1793 to 1857, authorized by the Mint Act of 1792 which defined the Cent as 1/100 dollar. That coin was intended to contain close to a cent's worth of copper, as people expected that coins contain close to their face values in metal. Nevertheless, because of the constitutional clause making only gold and silver legal tender, the government would not accept copper cents for taxes or other payments. By the early 1850s, fluctuations in the price of copper led the U.S. Mint to seek alternatives, including reducing the size of the cent and experimenting with compositions other than pure copper. The result was the Flying Eagle cent composed of 88% copper and 12% nickel. The Flying Eagle cent was struck in limited numbers as a pattern coin in 1856, then for circulation in 1857 and 1858.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Coins You Can Find - Indian Head Cent

I wanted to do something a little different. I read plenty of articles about coins I will own only if I have a few thousand extra dollars to spend. While I find the history of colonial coinage, for instance, fascinating, it has nothing to do with me and my collection.
With this in mind, I am going to do a series of posts (to become free ebooks when you subscribe to the newsletter) covering coins that can be easily purchased (and often found in pocket change!) today. Each coin will receive between 4-6 posts, beginning with a simple introduction.

Up first...

The Indian Head Cent

From 1793 to 1857, the cent was a copper coin about the size of a half dollar. As rising copper prices made it impractical to keep striking them, in 1857 the Mint reduced the size of the cent, issuing a new design, the Flying Eagle cent.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Honest Brick and Mortar Coin Sources Drying Up

[This is a contribution from collector ]

I started collecting coins in 1981 when I was in the U.S. Navy. We would pull into ports all over the world and I was fascinated with the designs on all the different foreign coins. Instead of dead presidents, I found flowers, birds, fish, and historical figures, as well as variations of the original French version which the U.S. Liberty coin designs were based on. I saved all the coins that interested me and kept them in a coffee can. It was more of a hoard than a collection.

Jump ahead to 1998.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

6 Coins Purchased at Sioux Falls, SD Coin Show

I went to my annual local coin show this past weekend. I am happy to announce there is only one hole left in my 20th Century Type Set album.

Here are my latest acquisitions:

Wheat Cent

Wheat Cent Coin Obverse

Wheat Cent Coin Reverse

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The anatomy of a coin

Sacagawea Dollar with info
The Anatomy of a Coin

The front ("heads") side of a coin.  Generally, the side with the date and principal design.

The back ("tails") side of a coin.
The outer border of a coin, which is the third side, can have plain, reeded, lettered, or decorated edges. Do not confuse the "rim" with the edge. Rims are features of the obverse and reverse of a coin.

Plain Edge Reeded Edge
Lettered Edge Decorated Edge
The raised border around the obverse and reverse that helps protect the coin's design from wear.
The main inscription or lettering on a coin.
mint mark:
A small letter or symbol on a coin used to identify where a coin was made.  Current United States mint marks are P (Philadelphia), D (Denver), S (San Francisco), and W (West Point).
The part of a coin's design that is raised above the surface.
The flat portion of a coin's surface not used for design or inscription.

*For a more in-depth treatment of this subject, please consider joining my e-mail list. I am currently putting together the first e-book, How Coins Are Made.