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A look back at 55 years of Numismatic News

This special issue of Numismatic News celebrates 55 years of publishing the hobby news. It seems, therefore, appropriate to take a look back at some of the top stories from each of the decades.

Due to time constraints (and because many more trees would have to have been sacrificed to tell the full story), I have limited this review to stories appearing on the front page of the News. In each case, the stories that follow represent one story in Numismatic News on a given topic, they are not necessarily the only time this topic made the front page or was picked up in the paper’s interior. As a story unfolded, the News continued to cover important developments. Thus, in some cases, the pieces presented here are, by necessity, incomplete. In other words, there’s more to each story than could be covered in a synopsis format such as this.

Still, these snippets present some of the flavor of each decade. For instance, in the 1960s you had the “roll craze,” coin shortages and the temporary removal of mintmarks from U.S. coins. In the 1970s, you find the release of a major Lincoln cent variety and the “loss” of the 1974 aluminum cent patterns. Other decades had equally important hobby stories, many of which are presented here under the banner “In the News.” I hope you enjoy this little trip into the hobby’s past.

In the News: 1950s

“New Reverse for 1959 Lincoln Cent – Lincoln Memorial is Featured” reads a headline on the front page of the Jan. 5, 1959, issue of the News. The story announced that President Dwight D. Eisenhower had just approved the new reverse for the cent, replacing the wheat ears design in use since 1909.

“Henceforth the reverse of our one cent coin shall bear the likeness of [the] Lincoln Memorial built in 1922 as a tribute to the great emancipator,” the News wrote. The change, it noted, was in time for the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth.

“It is a fitting tribute that the Lincoln Memorial be added to the coin,” the article continued, “in that the structure was built since the Lincoln cent was originally designed and that it is a living symbol of leadership that has held our great nation as one.”

Production of the new cent was set to begin on Jan. 2, 1959, with sufficient quantity available by Feb. 12, Lincoln’s birthday, so that the coins could be released into circulation.

In the News: 1950s

“Old Wartime Pennies Melted At Steel Plant,” reads a headline in May 4, 1959, issue of the News.

According to the front page article, the Alan Wood Steel Co., of Conshohocken, Penn., the day prior had melted down 13,500 pounds of the old wartime zinc cents, dating from 1943.

“The U.S. Mint in Philadelphia shipped the pennies, which are actually made of low carbon steel and coated with zinc, to the steel company in 500-pound cans,” the News wrote. “It amounted to about 1,250,000 pennies. The company will keep the steel in payment for disposing of them

“The government is engaged in doing away with the pennies, all made in 1943 to save copper for the war effort. They are now worn and faded memories of another era.”

In the News: 1950s

“As most collectors and dealers are aware of, the uncirculated Jefferson nickel has skyrocketed to almost unheard of prices,” starts an article titled “The Fantastic Price Rise of the Jefferson Nickel” in the Dec. 21, 1959, issue of the News. The article, which originated during the “roll craze,” observed:

“There are various reasons for the great demand for these coins. Almost every collector of U.S. coins starts out with the minor denominations. The Jefferson type is a natural collection for the beginner to start with. Most of those coins can be found in circulation with a little effort. The next step after completion of a set is usually to improve on the condition of these coins. The ultimate goal is to obtain a brilliant uncirculated set and this is where the scarcity comes in and thus the demand. Also the investors have jumped on the bandwagon and along with the dealers, do a brisk business in buying and selling rolls of uncirculated Jeffersons.” The article noted the average roll price for the 1950-D was $130 (as compared to $5 in 1955), while the 1939-D was trading at $1,400 (up from $125 in 1955), the 1939-S was selling for $450 (as compared to $100 in 1955), and the 1942-D was $400 (up from $42 in 1955).

“It must be kept in mind that these prices are the dealers’ selling prices for uncirculated rolls,” the News reported, adding, “One must realize that the high prices on these coins is due in a large degree to the investors and speculators which have entered the field. It is difficult to see how a roll of coins can be included in the collection of a numismatist, either as a thing of beauty or an educational piece.”

In the News: 1960s

“Newspaper Error Contributes to Large Club Attendance,” reads a headline in the Nov. 19, 1960, issue of the News. According to the News, an error in the local Binghamton Sun newspaper led to a normally quiet Triple Cities Coin Club August meeting enjoying an overflow crowd.

“It all started when Q. David Bowers wrote an article entitled ‘Rarity One Factor Determining Value of Coins to Collectors,’” the News reported.

“The article appeared in the newspaper [the Binghamton Sun] the day before the regular meeting of the Triple Cities club. Bowers first mentioned the 1960 small date cents which was enough to kindle the fire.

Then he mentioned that several coins are worth a very high premium, giving as examples the 1894-S dime and the 1822 five dollar gold piece. However, the Linotype operator left the ‘S’ off the 1894 and changed the date of the half eagle to 1882, and, quoting Triple Cities president Fred Hunter, ‘the riot was on.’

“Switchboards were jammed and Bowers and almost every member of the coin club answered phone calls well into the night.

“The final result was an overflow crowd at the coin club meeting to here Q. David talk on the ’60 small date cents.”

In the News: 1960s

“Former MANA President Killed in Collision” announced a headline on the front page of the April 2, 1962, issue of the News. George Walton, former president of the Middle Atlantic Numismatic Association, “acknowledged owner of one of the country’s outstanding collections of Charlotte-minted and Bechtlers gold coins,” was killed instantly in a head-on collision in Middlesex, N.C., while “en route to the Eastern North Carolina Coin Show at Wilson to exhibit his collection valued at over a quarter of a million dollars,” according to the News.

Besides rare early gold coins, Walton was noted at the time of his death for possessing a subsequently long-missing fifth example of the 1913 Liberty Head nickel. Some speculated the coin was lost in the accident. A freelance real estate appraiser, Walton obtained the nickel in 1945, in a trade with a Winston-Salem collector. “He said he paid $3,750 for the nickel,” wrote the News. “In 1959, he valued it at $35,000 and in the last year he raised the value to $65,000.”

In the News: 1960s

In a stunning blow to the silver dollar market, the Dec. 17, 1962, issue of the News reported: “Federal Reserve Releases Drop Silver Dollar Values: New Orleans Silver Dollars Tumble in Price.” The News reported that, at least for a while, the appearance of large quantities of formerly scarce silver dollars by the Fed cause some “wild dreams” of striking it rich for some collectors.

“So far some 33 million dollars have been shipped by the Mint,” the News wrote. “A fraction of the shipment reached a Flint, Michigan Bank, where two collector employees found 500 1904-O’s. Cataloging at $375 each, the men were dreaming how they would spend their $175,000 bonanza. The price has plummeted however. They were not the only ones to find the rare dollars. Thousands must have reached dealer hands. The price s fell to $100 each, to $50 each to $10 each.” The 1903-O Morgan was another casualty of the government holiday coin release.

At the time, the Treasury still held 102 million of the old silver dollars in inventory.

In the News: 1960s

Beloved President John F. Kennedy having been assassinated in late 1963, the government moved quickly to honor his memory. On Jan. 6, 1964, the News announced: “Johnson Signs Bill For Kennedy Half-Dollar.” “The Treasury supported bill to provide a coin with the likeness of President Kennedy passed both the House and the Senate by record vote,” the News reported. “The House had voted 352 to 6 in favor of the measure. The bill, HR 9413 read:

“‘Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled that in lieu of the coinage of the 50-cent piece known as the Franklin half-dollar, there shall be coined a silver 50-cent piece which shall bear on one side the likeness of the late President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and on the other side an appropriate design to be prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury.’”

The Kennedy half would be struck in 90-percent silver for circulation for only that one year. It was minted in 40-percent silver clad from 1965-1970 and today continues in a copper-nickel clad composition.

In the News: 1960s

With the coin shortage raging, and the need to convert coinage presses to production of circulation coins, the July 20, 1964, issue of the News reported there would be “No 1965 Proof Sets” coming from the Mint.

“In a series of moves to help stem the ever-increasing coin shortage,” the News wrote, “Treasury Department Officials have taken a number of steps that directly affect the coin collectors.

“Perhaps foremost of these steps is the discontinuance, at least temporarily, of proof sets. The proof set equipment will be converted to higher speeds for production of regular coins, after present commitments are met for proof set coin orders which have been accepted. Some two million sets remain to be stamped.”

In an effort to discourage hoarding of 1964 coins for “their possible speculative numismatic value,” the News wrote, the Treasury was also proposing to continue with the 1964 date indefinitely on all new coins.
It was also announced that the U.S. Assay Office, which was formerly the San Francisco Mint, would be put back into partial coin production, being used as a facility for annealing blanks for nickels and cents.

“New coin presses have been ordered and some stamping equipment located in government surplus is going to be converted to coin use.”

In the News: 1960s

“President Signs Bill to Mint 45 Million New Silver Dollars” reads a headline in the Aug. 17, 1964, issue of the News announcing government plans to mint new silver dollars bearing the Peace dollar design last used in 1935.

Included in a Treasury appropriations bill was one small provision that “will make numismatic history,” the News reported. The provision set aside $600,000 for the minting of 45 million new silver dollars.

In a letter supporting the reintroduction of the silver dollar, Treasury Secretary Dillon wrote:

“‘I want you to know that the administration feels it important to continue the use of the silver dollar, as it is one of the six standard coins prescribed by law, and is particularly used as an ordinary and traditional medium of exchange in many Far Western States. Also, use of the silver dollar will, to a great extend in the West at least, alleviate the heavy demands we have had on the quarter and 50-cent pieces. This eventually will about balance out the use of silver, as the minting of enough halves and quarters to substitute for the 45 million silver dollars will take almost as much metal for the same end use.’”

The Treasury secretary’s letter continued, “‘Present plans call for the minting of the dollars, if approved, at the Denver Mint only, using an old design, and the 1964 date.’”

Ultimately, 316,076 1964-dated silver dollars were struck but not released. The coins were all to have been melted, though rumors persist to this day that a few specimens survived.

In the News: 1960s

“Coin Shortage Is At End-Bankers” announced the Jan. 3, 1966, issue of the News, reporting on a News’ national survey that showed few pockets where it remained a problem.

“Recent weeks have witnessed cautious utterances from within the Treasury Department and Bureau of the Mint indicating they feel the worst of the once severe coin shortage has passed, that the country will shortly be on the road to full recovery,” the News recorded. Perhaps the most encouraging signs of this, according to the article, was a recent speech by Mint Director Eva Adams before the National Association for Bank Audit Control and Operation in Chicago in which she noted, “We think we have the coin shortage under control and will have the facilities in the near future to prevent one from ever recurring.”

Encouraged by these signs, the News said it undertook a survey of bankers to obtain their thoughts on the matter.

“Chosen on a geographical basis as representatives of their geographical areas, the banks stretched from Bangor, Maine, to Walla Walla, Washington,” the News wrote of the scope of its survey. “The consensus of the opinions expressed by the various bankers questioned indicates that in general the coin shortage is over, though a few isolated shortages do exist,” but with it being the Christmas season when the survey was taken, these seemed seasonal in nature.

In the News: 1960s

“San Francisco Mint to Strike Special Sets for Coin Collectors” read the headline in the March 28, 1966, issue of the News announcing that the Treasury was beginning to accept orders for the 1965-dated Special Mint Sets. As a result of the coin shortage, mintmarks were dropped from U.S. coins in an attempt to prevent hoarding. Coinage of proofs had also been suspended as the Mint focused on production of circulation coinage. “The Treasury Department has announced that the Bureau of the Mint would begin immediately accepting orders for ‘Special Mint Sets’ composed of the new half-dollar, the new quarter, the new dime and the five cent and one cent pieces,” the News reported. “The sets are to sell for $4, including postage and handling.

“Coins in the new sets will be struck one at a time from specially prepared blanks, on high tonnage presses and handled individually after striking. They will have a higher relief than regular coins and be better in appearance than any of the regular uncirculated sets heretofore issued. All coins in the new sets will be dated 1965 and they will carry no mint marks.”

“In advising collectors of the new SMS sets,” the News wrote, “Miss Eva Adams, director of the Mint, noted, ‘they (SMS sets) will be of a higher quality and have a different type surface than the uncirculated sets released by us in the past and yet they will not be of proof quality.’ The director noted that it was because of the progress made in overcoming the coin shortage that permits the mint to resume operations in preparing special sets of United States coins for collectors.”

In the News: 1960s

Following a two-year campaign to restore mintmarks, which had been dropped from U.S. coins in an effort to stem coinage shortages, the July 17, 1967, issue of the News reported: “President Signs Mint Mark Bill.” “A two-year campaign by coin collectors and hobby luminaries ended in sweet victory June 24 when President Johnson affixed his signature to S.1352, the bill calling for demonetization of silver and (of prime hobby interest) including an amendment repealing the prohibition against mint marks on coinage,” the News wrote. “The complete legislation – now Public Law 90-29 – is a composite of identical bills submitted by both House and S enate. Referred to as the ‘mint mark’ bill by hobbyists, the designation as such is a misnomer, as the meat of the law concerns virtual abandonment of silver backing in the nation’s currency. The mint mark was a piggyback hobby bonus.”

Signing of the bill, the News related, “represents a signal triumph for members of the United Coin Collectors’ Alliance. The group of numismatists, including publisher Chet Krause, was formed in May of 1965 in Philadelphia for the express purpose of fighting S. 2012, the notorious ‘Bible Bill.’

bible.jpg“Named for its author, Nevada Sen. Alan Bible, the proposal imposed penalties for such ‘violations’ as accumulating coins ‘in excess of the reasonable demands of business or personal use,’ exporting coins from the United States or its possessions, and using coins as ‘collateral.’ The bill also called for publication in the Federal Register of a list of coins ‘deemed’ to be of numismatic value. Most of the provisions – though innocent enough on the surface – would, according to concerned numismatists, have sounded the death knell for the hobby in the United States. Never enacted into law, some of S. 2012′s provisions were incorporated into the Coinage Act of 1965.”

In the News: 1960s

“Mint Assures Renewal of Proof Sets in 1968″ read a headline on the Sept. 25, 1967, issue of the News announcing the return of the U.S. proof set, which had not been issued since 1964 because of a circulation coin shortage.

“In an announcement released on September 1st, the Bureau of the Mint officially confirmed what has been hinted for some months, that it will in fact renew the minting of proof sets in 1968,” the News reported. “The announcement of these 1968-S sets did not come as a surprise, then, but with anticipation, although at least a couple of its details represent a sharp departure from tradition.

“The first of these is the confirmation that when shortly after January 1st, presses and pressmen begin the careful work involved in preparing these special sets they will be operating from facilities set up in the United States Assay Office in San Francisco, this being the old mint which was closed down in 1955, only to be reopened as a coinage production facility ten years later.

“This will be the first time that official United States proof coins have been produced outside the confines of the mother mint in Philadelphia. Since the first United States proof coins were produced in the early 1800′s, their production has been considered a traditional assignment of the Philadelphia Mint.”

The News also said the new proof coins would carry an “S” mintmark on the obverse of the five coins, the cent through half dollar. “This will represent the first instances where officially acknowledged proof coins of the United States have carried a mint mark, although a handful of unofficial ‘branch mint proofs’ do exist from the 1800′s,” the newspaper wrote.

In the News: 1970s

The first noteworthy coinage variety discovered in the 1970s was the report of large- and small-date 1970-S cents. Detailing the discovery, the March 17, 1970, issue of the News recorded under the headline, “New Jersey Dealer Reports Large and Small Date 1970-S Cents,” that:

“Variation in the dates and mottos on the 1970 cent from San Francisco have been brought to the hobby’s attention by John Sara, of New Jersey’s Hackensack Coin Company, who reports that the cents are scattered in bags and not found in large amounts, as were the 1960 small dates.”

On the more common large-date version, the “7″ appears to rest just below the remaining three digits in the date. On the small-date cent, the tops of all four digits are in line.

By the following week’s issue of the News, the publication was reporting that the small date could also be found on proofs.

In the News: 1970s

“De Francisci Widow Recalls Peace Dollar Presentation as ‘Delightful Experience’” relates an interesting story on the front page of the Sept. 21, 1971, issue of the News. Approaching the 50th anniversary of the Peace dollar’s first production, the News recorded that Gene Hessler, then curator of The Chase Manhattan Bank Money Museum, had recently conducted an interview with Teresa De Francisci, widow of Peace dollar designer Anthony De Francisci and model for the coin.

Anthony De Francisci had entered a competition late in 1921 to prepare the design for the new coin and “the sculptor chose to use his wife as the model for the Liberty, rather than employing a professional model, Hessler observed, to keep the design closely guarded.”

According to the News article, the resulting coins were not released into circulation until Jan. 3, 1922.

“‘Mrs. De Francisci recalled the presentation of the new coin to the public in 1921 as a ‘delightful experience’ for herself and Mr. De Francisci,’” the News article quotes Hessler. “‘They [the De Franciscis] had received a personal invitation from President Harding to come to the U.S. Mint at Philadelphia for the occasion and were subjects of nationwide acclaim.’”

The De Franciscis were newlyweds when the design competition for the new dollar was announced on Nov. 19, 1921, with an allowance of just three weeks being made for submission of sketches to the Commission of Fine Arts.

“Now a 73 year old widow, Hessler notes that she recalls ‘competing against prominent medallists such as Chester Beach and Adolph Weinman was a most exciting challenge for her husband,’” the article continued. Anthony De Francisci died on Oct. 20, 1964, at the age of 77.

“During the Hessler interview session with his widow, Mrs. De Francisci observed, “That one displeasing incident that subsequently marred her husband’s personal triumph was a change in the original die’s relief, enacted by George Morgan, chief engraver of the mint. Engraver Morgan had the relief lowered for the 1922 issue, prompting Mr. De Francisci to write to the Secretary of the Commission of Fine Arts in protest.’” The News article continued, “Today Teresa De Francisci (nee Cafarelli) resides in an apartment on the west side of Manhattan where she enjoys gardening and concerts, more than 70 years removed from her native village some 100 miles outside Naples, Italy. Her youthful enthusiasm for the American ideal of liberty remains undimmed, reports Hessler: ‘She expressed to me her continuing hope for a universal peace that had been the inspiration for her husband’s coin.’”

In the News: 1970s

It didn’t come to fruition, but at one time there were plans for a Susan B. Anthony $2 bill, as the Nov. 30, 1971, issue of the News reported under the headline, “Halpern Enlists Additional Backing For Susan Anthony $2 Proposal.”

“Congressman Seymour Halpern of New York who on November 1 launched a legislative proposal aimed at resurrecting the $2 note to regular issue status, with the displacement of the face side portrait of Thomas Jefferson by a likeness of Susan B. Anthony, the best known 19th century champion of women’s rights, has enlisted additional support for the measure,” the News wrote.

With 27 new co-sponsors, including the backing of the governors of more than a third of the states and 25 women’s organizations, things were going good for the Anthony proposal, which was bucking up against a pending proposal to place Mount Rushmore on the back of the $2 note.

“A move is underway, it is reported, to combine Halpern’s $2 bill proposal with the pending call for the issue of a $2 bill which would project a likeness of Mount Rushmore National Memorial on its back side. Each of these proposals are written with only one side of the note mentioned.

“The Mount Rushmore $2 proposal was offered by Congressman James G. Abourezk – H.R. 4903 introduced February 23 – and is similar to earlier legislative introductions dating from a January 18, 1968, move by Senator Karl E. Mundt of South Dakota calling for the likeness to be placed on the back of the $1 note. Proponents of the joint Susan Anthony-Mount Rushmore idea feel that it would draw a stronger following because the displacement of Jefferson from the face side would be compensated for by the adoption of the likeness of the granite carving in which he is so prominently featured.”

Of course, when the Series 1976 $2 note was released, neither Anthony nor Mount Rushmore were to be found on it. Instead, Anthony appeared on the 1979 minidollar. Mount Rushmore had to wait until 1991, when it graced a set of U.S. commemorative coins.

In the News: 1970s

For error collectors, 1972 had something special in store with the release of the now-famous 1972 doubled-die cent.

“‘Double Die’ Cents Discovered in the East” reported the July 25, 1972, issue of the News. Of course, we all know now, the correct term would be “doubled die,” but the effect was the same, as the article’s photo caption asked “Shades of 1955?”

“A 1972 ‘double die’ cent, similar to the 1955 variety, is turning up in significant quantities along the East Coast, according to reports reaching Numismatic News,” recorded the newspaper. “The reports indicate collectors in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Connecticut have been finding the error cents in Philadelphia Mint bags – and even in circulation – since about the first week in June. More recently, they have been reported in Ohio, too.

Accompanied by photographs of one of the prominently doubled cents supplied by dealer Harry Forman, the News explained, “It appears that the ’72 ‘double die,’ like the ’55 variety, is a double hub error such errors occur during the operation in which the die receives the impression from the hub.”

The article noted that the doubling, which could be seen in the obverse mottoes IN GOD WE TRUST and LIBERTY as well as the date, ” is not as dramatic on the ’72 cent as on the ’55 variety, but it is plainly visible without the use of a magnify glass – particularly in the lettering.”

At press time, the News said, one dealer was offering to pay $40 apiece, or $2,000 for a roll of the coins. Collectors were reporting finding up to 350 of the coins per bag of new Philadelphia cents. A nationwide hunt ensued.

In the News: 1970s

Hawaii5O.jpgNumismatics went Hollywood with the following announcement in the Nov. 6, 1973, issue of the News: “Liberty Head 1913 Nickel To ‘Star’ in Hawaii ’5-0.’”

“Reputedly worth $175,000, a 1913 Liberty Head nickel is a star attraction in a forthcoming episode of “Hawaii Five-0,” the popular television series aired weekly by the CBS network,” the News wrote. “Five-0, the name of an investigative branch of the Honolulu police force, becomes involved with the rare nickel, in an episode titled ‘$100,000 Nickel.’ The coin is stolen and Five-0 is given the job of recovering it.”

Actor Victor Buono examines the 1913 Liberty Head nickel used in shooting an episode of the television show, ?Hawaii Five-0.?

CBS filmed part of the show in Hawaii, however the sequence with the rare nickel was taped in Hollywood, with the coin being delivered from its owners via a Brink’s truck. “‘We filmed the whole show around the coin,’ said CBS, ‘and then contacted World-Wide Coin Investments   the owners   to ask them if we could use the coin for five closeups.’

“Robert W. Cornely of Worldwide told the News, ‘I accompanied the coin each step of the way and the coin never left my hand, except when actor Victor Buono held it briefly.

‘Even then, I placed the coin in his hand and told him to hold it only by the edge. When the sequence was over, I took the coin and had it returned by Brink’s.’

“The Five-0 segment will be seen sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. World-Wide bought the coin last year for $100,000 from A. Kosoff, Inc.”

In the News: 1970s

“Observer Reports Examination Of 1964-Dated U.S. Peace Dollar” reads the headline above Alan Herbert’s story in Feb. 15, 1975, issue of the News.
“Somewhere in the United States, six men sat down recently and passed from hand to hand a controversial coin that has reached the light of day for a few moments and now has slipped back into a safety-deposit box for another, and shorter, nap before it eventually is revealed to the coin collecting fraternity,” Herbert wrote.

“One of the six was the owner of the 1964-D Peace dollar, which the Treasury Department has labeled contraband and ‘not legally issued.’ The other five were collectors or dealers who know of the past history of the coin. Several of them were undoubtedly startled to discover themselves to be part of that history as they participated in the first semi-public display of the Mint’s most recent example of a coin that reached collectors’ hands through what might be called ‘unusual circumstances.’

“One of the five who saw the fabled coin for the first time at that meeting granted Numismatic News Weekly an exclusive interview and ultimately promised that pictures will be made available to the News readers at some future date.

1964.jpg“Our informant, who can only be described as the euphemistic ‘usually reliable source,’ answered one riddle with his description of the coin as bearing the ‘D’ for Denver mintmark, which was to be expected, although sources in the Mint had never confirmed that the coin bore a ‘D.’

A clever mock-up helped News readers to visualize what a 1964 Peace dollar looks like.

“The 1964 Peace dollars have been shrouded in mystery ever since they were first authorized by the late President Lyndon Johnson. Orders to strike quantities of the first silver dollar since 1935 were issued, countermanded, issued and cancelled again before approval was finally given to make some 300,000 of them, only to have further orders issued canceling production and ordering those struck to be melted shortly after they were struck in May, 1965, due to the coin shortage.”

There have been a number of reported sightings of 1964 Peace dollars over the years before and since this article, but none have been confirmed. As Herbert explained at the time:

“Rumors about the ’64 Peace dollars have been rampant ever since they were first struck. In 1973, the News carried a series of articles on the coins, bringing the story up to date, including unconfirmed reports of sightings of the coins at various coin shows, or solicitations by supposed owners of some of the coins. None of the stories led to the actual viewing of one of the alleged specimens.”

In the News: 1970s

“Aluminum Cent Patterns ‘Lost’ On Capitol Hill,” reads the headline at the top of the May 3, 1975, issue of the News.

“Fourteen of the Mint’s aluminum cent patterns are missing and it appears several congressmen or members of their staff made off with them,” wrote the News of the errant patterns. “On April 22, a spokesman for the Bureau of the Mint verified that 16 of the 1974-dated patterns, which were struck in December, 1973, when the agency was considering a change in the Lincoln cent’s alloy, had been sent to Capitol Hill for study by members of the House and Senate banking committees, but only two of them had been returned. The rest have mysteriously disappeared.”

In the News: 1980s

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a run up in precious metals prices brought the following Jan. 26, 1980, News headline: “Precious Metals Records Result from Buyer Hysteria.”

“Panic b uying pushed the price of gold bullion to a record $765 an ounce Jan. 16 in morning London trading, up $81 from that afternoon quotation of the day before,” wrote David C. Harper. “Trading later in the day saw the precious metal decline to $760 by the time the five major London dealers who make the market agreed on their afternoon price.”

Harper also reported that buyer hysteria spilled over into the silver markets, with the price of an ounce of silver posted at $48.01 Jan. 16 in London, a gain of $3.99 from the day before. In New York trading, he noted, silver changed hands in the spot market for $47 vs. $43.75 the day prior.

“The Russian occupation of Afghanistan and the fear that the war may spread throughout the Middle East were two factors motivating many recent purchasers of precious metals, according to Walter Perschke, president of Numisco, Inc., a Chicago, Ill., numismatic investment firm, in a telephone interview conducted Jan. 16,” wrote Harper. “At Perschke’s offices, he said, there was just ‘standing room only’ and that he did ‘more business yesterday than in any month in 1976, 1977 or 1978.’”

In the News: 1980s

“First Morgan Dollar Struck Found in R.B. Hayes Museum” reads the headline on an important story by silver dollar specialist Leroy Van Allen in the Sept. 6, 1980, issue of the News.

“During the recent ANA convention at Cincinnati, the first Morgan dollar struck was rediscovered by myself and Pete Bishal in the nearby Ohio town of Fremont,” Van Allen explained. “It is an impaired 1878-P proof and reposes in the Hayes Museum within the Hayes Library building on the Rutherford B. Hayes State Memorial. A separate certificate stating it was the first Morgan dollar struck was found in the Hayes Library. This certificate had been misplaced with the Hayes Library for many years and was finally, on Aug. 20, 1980, reunited with the first dollar struck.

“Robert Lemke had visited the Hayes Museum and Library several years ago and examined two proof 1878-P Morgan dollars. However, no accompanying certificate was found stating that this dollar was the first struck as reported by Lemke in the March 11, 1978, issue of Numismatic News. Thus, his article ended on the note that the only documented evidence as to the Hayes Museum dollars being among the first to come from the mint presses was a museum label accompanying the dollar.”

Lemke’s article further quoted contemporary coverage from the Chicago Tribune of the first striking of the Morgan dollars, which included the notation that the first dollar was enclosed in an envelope to go to Hayes.

Through die variety identification, Van Allen (who co-authored the standard reference on Morgan varieties) and Bishal were able to identify that the first dollar had to be a VAM-9 of the eight tail feather type, of which one of the two proofs at the Hayes Museum was. At the library, they also observed a special case, about two inches square with a hole in the middle. “Two attached flaps covered both sides of the dollar. One flap had a numeral 1 embossed on the outside.”

A subsequent search of the library’s card files led them to an entry under O.C. Bosbyshell, coiner at the Philadelphia Mint at the time of the coin’s striking. The file having been pulled, they discovered inside an envelope, faded on one side, with the words: “His Excellency, Rutherford B. Hayes, President   First Silver Dollar Coined, Phila., 1878.”

“Next to it lay a folded card with the words: ‘Mint US. Philadelphia Coiner’s Department, March 11, 1878 I Hereby certify that the Silver Dollar enclosed in case No. 1, is the first one of the Dollar authorized by the Act of 1878, struck in the presses used for the regular coinage in the Mint of the United States.’ The card was signed by O.C. Bosbyshell, coiner, and J.A. Pollock, superintendent.”

In the News: 1980s

“No-mint-mark 1982 dime discovered” reported a major story by variety specialist Alan Herbert in the Jan. 29, 1983, issue of the News.

“The first known circulation strike U.S. coin that can be proved to be from a die that is supposed to have a mint mark has been discovered by an Ohio News reader,” Herbert wrote. “Walter Placzankis spotted the coin in December and forwarded it to us for authentication. Detailed examination of the coin shows normal flow lines in the planchet metal in the area where the mint mark should be. This confirms that the die was placed in service without having a mint mark punched into it.”

In the News: 1980s

victory.jpg“Victory! Annunzio Pulls It Off” celebrated the headline above News’ Washington correspondent Burnett Anderson’s lead story in the June 5, 1982 issue. The victory referred to was the defeat of a private marketing scheme for 33 Los Angeles Olympic coins. Many within the hobby opposed the release, as it would have deluged the hobby with commemoratives the sales of which would have been under the control of a private interest, the Occidental Petroleum-Lazard Freres Coin Group. The group first pushed for a massive 53-coin set and the chance for abuses looked ripe.

“David 302, Goliath 84,” wrote Anderson of the final vote in the House of Representatives, which turned back the proposal that looked destined for victory. (Rep. Frank Annunzio, D-Ill., flashed the “V” for victory for the News’ camera on the issue’s front page.)

“Moments later, on a voice vote without a single audible ‘No’ the House adopted Annunzio’s substitute measure providing six coins (three designs in proof and uncirculated versions) to be marketed directly by the U.S. Mint, without a middleman,” Anderson wrote.

“Proponents of the 33-coin measure and most congressional observers had predicted an easy victory for their bill. It had been recommended by the House Banking Committee under the leadership of Fernand St. Germain (D.-R.I.) by a vote of 32 to 7. Annunzio himself had been less than optimistic about his chances up to the very time of the vote although, in an aside to this correspondent two days earlier, he had said, “The angels are on our side.”

“Congressional experts searched in vain for a precedent, and could not find one. Not only did the House overrule one of its most prestigious committees and its chairman, and upset all predictions, it did so by a ratio of 4 to 1.”
Krause Publications actively fought the 33-coin measure. Its editorial in the same issue noting that:

“Two days before the floor vote, Krause Publications sent to each member of the House a Mailgram urging them to vote against the Coin Group bill. The American Numismatic Association did the same. Here in the Krause offices we spent the last couple of days under the gun making calls to congressional offices and by calling dealers and collectors to enlist their aid.”

Anderson related that supporters of Annunzio’s version believed it would dissipate “fears of ‘scandal’ from abuses in marketing and a consequent interruption of commemorative coinage across the board, as happened 30 years ago.” U.S. commemorative coinage had been stopped in the 1950s because of sales abuses by private marketers and did not resume until 1982.

“In their eyes [the supporters of Annunzio's slimmed down government-controlled Olympics program] the only losers are the would-be marketers, most notably Occidental Petroleum and its venerable chief, Armand Hammer. His company and Lazard Freres stand to lose not only hoped-for profits from a world wide marketing monopoly of U.S. legal tender, but $2.5 million in advance payments and other costs Hammer told a congressional committee had already been paid.”

In the News: 1980s

“New day dawns on gold coinage history” proclaimed the headline on a story in the Sept. 24, 1983, issue of the News announcing first-strike ceremonies for the gold $10 coin as part of the Olympic coinage program for the 1983 Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games.

“After a blackout of more than half a century, a new day dawned for U.S. gold coinage Sept. 13 at 11:07 a.m.,” Ed Reiter reported. “The sun rose, fittingly, in the East – at the U.S. Bullion Depository at West Point, N.Y., where Treasury Secretary Donald T. Regan activated a coinage press and caused it to strike the first example of the 1984 Olympic gold piece.

“That simple ceremony, witnessed by more than 100 reporters, photographers, invited hobby leaders and government officials, gave the nation its first gold coin since 1933 when the U.S. Mint discontinued production of the St. Gaudens eagle, the last such coin officially released prior to cessation of regular-issue U.S. gold coinage.”

The new coin would sport a “first” as well, as it would carry the “W” mintmark, representing the West Point facility where it was minted, the first U.S. coin to carry that designation.

In the News: 1980s

“Washington half dollar world’s best for 1982″ reads a headline in the April 7, 1984, issue of Numismatic News proclaiming the winner of the first-ever Krause Publications’ Coin of the Year Award.

According the article, “The 1982 George Washington half dollar, designed by Mint Chief Engraver Elizabeth Jones, was selected by a 43-member panel of coinage experts from around the world as the world’s best numismatic effort for the year 1982.”

The highly respected program is sponsored by World Coin News, the News’ sister publication and continues to this day.

In the News: 1980s

“House approves gold coins” reads the headline on the front page of the Dec. 17, 1985, issue of the News heralding what would become the American Eagle bullion coin program.

“A new issue of U.S. gold coins in four denominations, was approved by Congress Dec. 2 with a unanimous vote in the House of Representatives,” wrote News Washington Bureau chief Burnett Anderson. Only the president’s signature remained.

“The coinage bill, passed by the Senate Nov. 14, would authorize gold bullion coins of $50, $25, $10 and $5 denominations, containing one ounce, one-half, one-quarter and one-tenth of a troy ounce of fine gold, respectively. Only the design of the one-ounce piece is specified in the bill. It must carry an obverse emblematic of Liberty and a reverse depicting a ‘family’ of eagles.”

Today the American Eagle program, which includes silver and platinum versions, is popular with investors and collectors alike.

In the News: 1980s

“Gold Rush overwhelms Mint” reads the lead on the Nov. 4, 1986, issue of the News, as “primary buyer” companies hurried to stock examples of the newly issued American Eagle gold coins.

“The gold rush of 1986 started early Oct. 20 and within 30 hours eager buyers had acquired the entire U.S. Mint inventory of American Eagle gold pieces: 845,000 gold coins containing 558,000 troy ounces,” wrote News Washington Bureau chief Burnett Anderson. “The overwhelming rush was unexpected. The Mint, after consultation with the industry, had set a minimum figure of 500,000 ounces as sufficient for meeting early demand. “‘We knew that demand would be great, but we didn’t expect it to be like this in the first two days,’ Mint Director Donna Pope said as the inventory vanished. “‘I hate suffering from success,’ she added.”

The coins were sold to 25 companies that qualified as “primary buyer” companies. Of these 25, nine were domestic and 16 foreign.

All paid about $425 a troy ounce plus markup, “laying down close to a quarter of a billion dollars in two days.” American Eagle bullion coins could then be purchased by the public through various distributors.

In the same issue of the News it was reported that the new silver American Eagle bullion coin would become available to Mint-approved distributors beginning Nov. 24.

Collectors could also opt for proofs, with the one-ounce gold Eagle costing $550 and the one-ounce silver Eagle at $21.

In the News: 1980s

No, the Clampetts hadn’t fallen on hard times, but it is true that, in 1987, Buddy Ebsen, who played Jed Clampett in the “Beverly Hillbillies,” was selling his coins. “Superior sets Ebsen auction” announced the lead on the Feb. 3, 1987, issue of News.

“The black gold of Jed Clampett the long-time lead character in the “Beverly Hillbillies” was oil,” the News wrote. “The man who played the role, Buddy Ebsen, prefers the real thing, as will be evidenced when his gold coin collection is sold by Superior Galleries of Beverly Hills, Calif., in what is expected to be the major sale of 1987.”

The sale of Ebsen’s U.S. coins was slated for June 1-3, with the foreign coins to be offered May 27-29.

Asked to describe the highlights of Ebsen’s collection, Superior’s Larry Goldberg told the News, “‘He has a complete type set of U.S. gold coins, a major type set. He has a Panama-Pacific set in a copper frame. He has an 1879 Coiled Hair Stella in gem proof condition. He has sets of $2.50, $5 and $20 Indians and other U.S. gold coins.’

“In foreign coins, Goldberg explained that Ebsen, ‘Bought mainly historical gold coins and ancient Greek and Roman coins. His foreign gold collection is very extensive.’

“In addition to the large quantity of coins in his collection, Buddy Ebsen apparently had an eye for quality. Goldberg observed that, ‘He bought mainly superb coins.’”

In an interview in the same issue, Ebsen told the News (as part of article by Paul Green) that he became interested in collecting following the purchase of a coin for a friend through Superior. He further credited Ira Goldberg, of Superior, with expanding his interest in the hobby.

An admitted history buff, Ebsen told Green that he was fascinated by the history of the coins in his collection. One of his favorites being a Territorial gold $50 octagonal slug that had a lot of nicks on.

“‘It’s a long way from being Mint State, but I associate a story with each one of these nicks,” Ebsen told the News. ‘A story about a family shoving off for the West and this is going to put them in business. And they get attacked by Indians and the coin is stolen and it’s in a batch of Wells Fargo coins and highwaymen pick it up or it slides across bars and it pays for prostitutes or all that stuff.

“‘Every one of these nicks I start making up stories about. So I enjoy this coin, even the heft of the coin. I just let my mind run. I always get a kick out of handling it.’”

In the News: 1980s

A fortunate bingo game payoff yielded a lucky collector the fourth 1921-D Morgan dollar minted reported the Sept. 12, 1989, issue of the News. Under the headline, “Fourth 1921-D Morgan turns up at bingo game,” Alan Herbert wrote:

“Illinois collector Frank Rinaldi didn’t exactly yell ‘Bingo!’ but he did wind up with a four-figure coin at a local bingo game, thanks to one of those rare strokes of luck that can make coin collecting so exciting.”

Herbert said that several months after Rinaldi had extracted the coin from his bingo change, he examined it more closely and, to his surprise discovered engraved in the obverse field the words: 4TH DOLLAR RELEASED FROM 1ST 100/EVER COINED AT DENVER/THOMAS ANNEAR SUPT.

“The coins were apparently engraved at the time of issue to mark the historic event, possibly with approval of the Director of the Mint.”
Herbert noted that the first coin was given to the Colorado State Historical Society.

Although it was likely planned to engrave each of the first 100 coins similarly, Herbert observed, the low existence of surviving specimens leads to the speculation that time may have precluded completion of the project.

A specimen marked as the 12th coin, the highest number then known, sold for $2,300 in a Heritage auction in February of that year.

In the News: 1980s

“Shipwreck yields lost shipment” reads the headline in the Oct. 3, 1989, issue of the News announcing the discovery the SS Central America by the Columbus America Discovery Group. The ship, which as Alan Herbert explained in his lead article, was en route to the East from the California gold fields, when it went down, in 1857, carrying a fortune in U.S. gold coins, Territorial gold pieces and bars.

“With only the first sentence of the first chapter of the recovery written, shock waves are already being felt throughout the hobby,” Herbert wrote, as news surfaced about the existence of quantities of various dates of San Francisco gold coins among the treasure. “Nervous owners of pieces that cost them four-, five-, six- or even seven-digit amounts are wondering what each coin that rises to the surface will bring.

“Statistics from the first few days of recovery are already mind-boggling. Of the first 500 coins recovered, most are 1856-S and 1857-S double eagles…” but “the real explosion comes with in two areas – California gold coins, and California gold bars.

“Several Wass, Molitor and Co. $50 gold pieces have been brought up, pieces that currently catalog at $120,000 in uncirculated grade Gold ingots from the Central America are rare issues indeed, most of them were unknown in any collection. Already the salvage team has ‘recovered 6,000 ounces of California ingots, ranging in weight from about 5 ounces to over 500 ounces.’

“The largest previously known ingot weighed only about 50 ounces. The bars were assayed and stamped by four firms: Kellogg and Humbert, Harris-Marchand, Justh and Hunter and Henry Hentsch.”

The S.S. Central America went down on Sept. 12, 1857, in hurricane, taking with her some 400 lives and 77,000 ounces of gold belonging to the U.S. government, according to the article.

The ship was discovered 200 miles off the coast of South Carolina, 8,000 feet below the surface.

In the News: 1990s

“Swiss police assist in recovery of 1804 dollar stolen from du Pont,” reads an important headline on the May 18, 1993, issue of the News.

“The 1804 silver dollar stolen at gunpoint from the Willis H. du Pont family in 1967 has been recovered with assistance of the American Numismatic Association,” the News reported. “In a covert operation, Swiss Criminal Police seized two rare and valuable coins previously stolen from the du Pont home in Miami, Fla.

“Harold Gray, attorney for the du Pont family, said that plans for the recovery were laid earlier this year when an Israeli coin dealer informed a U.S. dealer of the availability of the 1804 dollar and an 1850 U.S. Territorial gold $5 coin from an unnamed ‘collector’ in Israel.

“ANA President Edward C. Rochette, who was instrumental in the return of the other 1804 dollar stolen in the du Pont robbery, assisted in the recovery of this specimen as well.

“An unknown price was set for the sale of the Class I silver dollar and the gold $5 piece, and delivery was set for April 22 in Zurich. The Swiss Police, alerted by a Swiss attorney for du Pont, arranged to seize the coins when presented for authentication to a mutually agreed-upon coin expert in Zurich.

“Two Israeli citizens were arrested. The coins were found in the possession of one of the two, who had apparently been using a false name in his contacts with Gray. Names of the suspects were unavailable.”

The News article explained that the coins were originally taken as part of an Oct. 5, 1967, robbery by five armed, masked men who entered the du Pont residence and took approximately 6,400 rare coins, $50,000 in jewelry and $4,000 in cash.

Due to the ongoing investigation, Rochette, who in 1981 helped recover the Linderman Class III 1804 silver dollar stolen from the du Ponts, declined comment as to his role in this recovery (which was of the Cohen Class I coin) other than to say, “he acted as ‘kind of messenger between some of the parties involved,’ and that he has done other work for the du Pont family in the past.”

In the News: 1990s

“American Eagle program may add platinum coins” reads the headline at the top of the Aug. 22, 1995, issue of the News.

“Serious efforts are under way to add platinum to the U.S. issues of American Eagle bullion coins, with one authorizing bill already in Congress and a second, more comprehensive measure, waiting in the wings,” the News wrote.

Today the Mint produces American Eagle bullion coins in silver, gold and platinum, with the gold and platinum pieces coming in a variety of sizes.

In the News: 1990s

“Wow! New $100″ reads the headline surrounding a blow-up of the new $100 Federal Reserve note on the front cover of the Oct. 10, 1995, issue of the News.

“The U.S. Treasury has pulled out all of the stops and put forward its top executives Sept. 27, along with an impersonator of Benjamin Franklin, to get maximum media play for its new $100 bill,” wrote News Washington Bureau chief Burnett Anderson in announcing the first installment of a major redesign of the nation’s paper money. “For the first time, it [the Treasury] revealed all non-secret features of the new design, including replacement of the 12 individual Federal Reserve Bank seals with a universal Fed seal.

“However, the issuing Federal Reserve bank will still be identified by its alphabetical letter, placed under the newly located serial number in the upper left area of the face.

“The principal speakers at what Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin called ‘a truly historic event,’ were Rubin, Fed Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, and U.S. Treasurer Mary Ellen Withrow.

“All three seemed to be teetering between the horns of a dilemma, of which one was to emphasize continuity and stability in U.S. paper money, the other to emphasize the many changes aimed at deterring counterfeiting.

“There was also a chorus of assurances that, as in the past, now and forever there would be no demonetization, recall, or any tampering with the legal tender status of existing U.S. paper money.”

In the News: 1990s

quarterA.jpg“Quarters on the way!” announced the historic headline on the Jan. 19, 1999, issue of the News proclaiming the arrival of the first of the 50 states quarters.

“Better watch out, here they come!” wrote the News. “The first 50 states quarters, which honor Delaware on the reverse with a design featuring Caesar Rodney on horseback, were shipped by the U.S. Mint Jan. 4 to the Federal Reserve for distribution through commercial banks and financial institutions.

quarterB.jpg“Though collectors await the new quarters with great anticipation, the Mint warned that the Delaware quarters may not show up in commerce until late spring or early summer and will not be readily available in every part of the country.”

In the News: 2000s

“Look quick: aluminum” reads the headline at the top of the Feb. 20, 2001, issue of the News announcing the appearance of one of the previously missing 1974 aluminum patterns at the News’ Iola, Wis., offices.

“Call it a dream coin, the stuff of urban legends, or one of the Holy Grails of the hobby. What ever the title, one of the most mysterious coins – one of the 1974 aluminum cents that disappeared from the halls of Congress in 1973 – has finally surfaced,” wrote Alan Herbert.

“The tale of its provenance is a fitting one – as bizarre as anyone could imagine – for a coin that almost everyone in the hobby knew about, but few had seen. The only previously known example is part of the gigantic Smith sonian collection.

“It seems a Capitol policeman, on duty in the basement of the House Office Building in late 1973, saw a coin that he thought was a dime lying on the pavement. He picked it up and offered it to the congressman who apparently had dropped it. ‘Ah, you keep it.’ With those simple words a chain of events began which resulted ultimately in the pattern coin coming to light in this edition of Numismatic News 28 years later.”

The coin eventually ended up in the hands of a relative of the Capitol policeman, who submitted to Numismatic News for examination.

“The coin experts on the Krause Publications staff have had a chance to examine, photograph and test the piece. The weight – 0.93 gram – and the diameter – 18.95mm – were duly recorded. The coin grades a high AU (about uncirculated) according to our unofficial standards,” Herbert continued.

“These figures are important from another point as well. Ever since 1974 collectors and the public have been convinced that any off-color or apparent wrong-metal cent is one of the missing pieces. For years my mail has regularly included queries about coins that invariably turn out to be normal cents that had been plated. Since an aluminum cent weighs about a third of what a regular copper-alloy cent weighs (3.11 grams), this difference should have been obvious.”

In the News: 2000s

Buf_obv_pc.jpg“First Buffalo dollars struck” declares the lead head on the May 22, 2001, issue of the News, as it reported on the first coinage of the popular 2001 American Buffalo Commemorative silver dollar.

The striking ceremony was held May 4, 2001. “Joining Mint Director Jay W. Johnson were Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian National Campaign Director Elizabeth Duggal and Barbara McTurk, a former Denver mint superintendent who represented Colorado governor Bill Owens. The two congressmen sponsored the commemorative bill in the Senate and House.”

The coin depicts James Earle Fraser’s famous design from the 1913-1938 Buffalo nickel.

Buf_rev_pc.jpgAn especially popular purchase option for collectors was a coinage and currency set that featured a souvenir card created by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing depicting a Series 1899 $5 Silver Certificate that shows Sioux Chief Running Antelope, along with the commemorative dollar. Production on this set, which sold out quickly, was limited to 50,000.
Fraser’s design was a composite, with the most likely models being Two Moons, a Cheyenne; Iron Tail, a Sioux; and Adoeette “Big Tree,” a Kiowa.

In the News: 2000s

“Volunteer finds coin in shoe” reads a short piece on the cover of the June 12, 2001, News. “Florida Jaycee volunteer Patricia May is $10,000 richer after receiving a reward from the anonymous owner of a Cincinnati Mining and Trading Co. California gold piece struck over an Ormsby $10 that she found inside a shoe donated in 1998 for tornado relief,” the News reported. “The coin then sat in a desk drawer for three years until May 1.

After an Internet search, May contacted Professional Numismatists Guild member Doug Winter of Dallas, who helped her find the rightful owner, who also gave $5,000 to the Jaycees. Don Kagin of Tiburon, Calif., estimated the coin’s value at $150,000.”

In the News: 2000s

“Ready, set, go! Euros are here,” screamed the headline above Todd Haefer’s story about the European Union’s new currency in the Jan. 8, 2002, issue of the News.

“The European Union’s new currency publicly debuted Dec. 14 in three countries as euro coin ‘starter kits’ became available in France, Ireland and the Netherlands,” Haefer wrote. “It was the first time citizens could actually handle the money, which as of Jan. 2, 2002, became the official legal tender replacing national currencies in the above four countries as well as Greece, Portugal, Finland, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Luxembourg, all of which made the starter kits available to the public within days of Dec. 14.”

The various sets included examples of the euro coins for the particular issuing country, ranging in denomination from the cent to the 2 euro in order to introduce citizens to the change in currency systems.

In the News: 2000s

“’33 $20 blasts record: $7.59 million bid wins only legal example,” reads the headline of a David L. Ganz story in the Aug. 13, 2002, issue of the News.

“Sotheby’s and Stack’s jointly auctioned the rare 1933 $20 gold piece on July 30 to a packed, standing-room-only house,” Ganz wrote. “The winning bid was $6.6 million, a word’s record for a $20 gold piece or any other coin, to which a buyer’s premium of 15 percent was added, and the sum of $20. The small premium is intended to equal the face value of the property that will balance the government’s account books. The larger premium goes to the auctioneer.

“The total price is therefore $7,590,020.

“After months of feverish excitement and a build-up pitch, Sotheby’s and Stack’s held a joint auction sale July 30, featuring an unnumbered one-lot event in a 56-page catalog bearing a single coin’s image: the fabled 1933 double eagle. The coin was formerly in the collection of Egypt’s King Farouk, and later in the headlines when Secret Service agent seized it in a 1996 New York bust.”

The coin went to an anonymous bidder. The government considers this specimen to be the only 1933 double eagle that can be legally held. The price record still holds.

Since the sale, 10 more examples have surfaced, but are now being held by the government. See the Dec. 19, 2006, headline, “Family sues to reclaim $20s.”

In the News: 2000s

1913a.jpgThe hobby was excited, in 2003, to learn that a long missing example of the famed 1913 Liberty Head nickel was again part of the collector community. “Make that five! ‘Lost’ 1913 nickel surfaces at ANA,” reported News editor David C. Harper in Aug. 12, 2003, issue.

“The missing fifth 1913 Liberty Head nickel was identified and authenticated at 1:15 a.m. July 30 by a panel of experts assembled by Paul Montgomery, president of Bowers and Merena Galleries, who had been shown the coin in response to his offer of a $1 million reward for it.

191b.jpg“It turns out that the coin never strayed too far, even though it disappeared from the hobby after a 1962 North Carolina car wreck killed its owner, George Walton.

“And as if that news weren’t enough, it was announced July 29 that another 1913 Liberty Head nickel, this one owned by Dwight Manley, was sold to Merrimack, N.H., dealer Edward C. Lee for an undisclosed price reported to be approximately $3 million.

“The missing 1913 Liberty Head nickel arrived in Baltimore, site of the American Numismatic Association convention, on July 29. It was initially examined by Montgomery, Mark Borckardt, vice president of the firm, and John Dannreuther.

“Montgomery said he was 98 percent sure it was authentic, but he wanted others to see it.”

He selected David Hall, founder of the Professional Coin Grading Service; Fred Weinberg, well-known error expert; and Jeff Garrett of Mid-American Coin Galleries, Lexington, Ky. to examine the coin.

“This panel of six experts requested access t o the other four 1913 Liberty head nickels for comparison purposes. These coins had just been brought to the convention by special arrangements made by the ANA. I

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