From the Numismatic News 60th Anniversary Special Issue – By: Frank Cadicamo • Suffern, N.Y.
I have been fascinated by the beauty of coins from when I was a young boy. At that time, Buffalo nickels, Mercury dimes, Standing Liberty quarters and Walking Liberty halves were quite a common means of exchange, even the occasional Liberty Head nickel was found in pocket change. Although I started collecting dimes and nickels, I was always fascinated with half dollars and silver dollars.
The silver dollars that interested me most were not of the Morgan or Peace type, but were of the early Bust type and the rare Gobrecht dollars.
As my father was a laborer and growing up in a blue collar household, it was hard not to spend what you had on necessities, so collecting was not easy and buying was totally out of the question. I remember my father finding a 1950-D Jefferson nickel in change and although selling it would have been a viable option, he gave it to me to complete my collection. I also remember a neighbor who gave me a few old coins and one was an 1819 over 18 Capped Bust half dollar. Again, my interest was in the Bust dollars and half dollars, and even today I think they are one of the most beautiful coins that our country has ever produced.
It wasn’t until the mid-1960s when I started to work as an electrical and mechanical draftsman that I was able to think about buying coins. One of my cousins through marriage had a father who owned a small coin shop in Woodhaven, N.Y., and I would spend lots of time there after work and on Saturdays. Both my cousin Richard and his Dad are the people who influenced me to invest in rare coins. Also, I have always looked up to Dave Bowers, who has always been an inspiration to me.
In the 1960s I started purchasing Coins magazine for interesting reading and pricing. I remember Coins picturing a symbol that you had to identify and write an article on. I wrote several and won several years’ subscriptions. I wish I had copies of them now. Later on I started subscribing to Numismatic News, which I still subscribe to, which I really enjoy reading.
I started buying Mint State type coins from my cousin ranging from Flying Eagle cents to Barber quarters, but don’t ever recall him having any Bust type dollars for sale. He knew that I always wanted one, so he said he would keep an eye out for an affordable one.
One day my cousin approached me with two Bust dollars, a 1798 and 1800. Of course I immediately preferred the 1798 because of the date, but he convinced me to take the 1800 as it was a scarcer date than the 1798. I took his advice and opted for the 1800. To me this was the most beautiful coin I would ever own and it would finally be mine after I paid my cousin in full. It took me a month to pay him the $100 for the coin, but it was now mine. I now had a Bust dollar to fill the hole in my capital dollar type set holder. Many years later, I had the coin certified and it was graded as VF-20.
It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that I started to bid on Flowing Hair and Bust dollars at various auctions. The first one was a 1795 dollar in VF condition and the next one was a 1795 dollar in EF-AU (today’s EF-45) condition. It took several years, but I now have a set by type, even a few duplicates, with the exception of the 1794. I would probably have to re-mortgage my home in order to obtain one. Most of them grade from VF-30 to EF-45 with the occasional VF-20 and one AU-50.
It wasn’t until 2000 that I finally obtained an 1836 Gobrecht dollar that graded Prf-45. Other than owning a 1794 dollar, this made my collection almost complete. I now have several Draped Bust and Capped Bust quarters, a Flowing Hair half dollar and quite a few Draped Bust and Capped Bust half dollars. I also was able to obtain an 1802/1 half eagle in AU-58 and an 1801 eagle in AU condition.
Although I am proud of all my Bust coinage, I guess the pride of my collection would be the 1795 Bolender 6 Flowing Hair dollar in EF-45 condition, the 1836 Gobrecht dollar in EF-45 condition and the 1802/1 half eagle in AU-58 condition. I spend at least a half hour of enjoyment when I visit my bank’s safe deposit vault to view my collection.