Author Archives: Robert R. Van Ryzin

Extracting precious metals is a dangerous business

Watching the recent rescue of miners in Chile was a stark reminder of how dangerous deep mining for metals can be.For my book, Crime of 1873: The Comstock Connection, I did a lot of research into the miners and mining … Continue reading

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Once there were 'nickel cents'

During the Civil War hoarding of all forms of hard money was prevalent. Even the lowly cent was hoarded–so much so that substitutes, including privately issued tokens that resembled cents and government paper versions, filled the void. In 1862, several … Continue reading

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Scowling British lion?

OK. So George Morgan’s initial “M” appears on the Morgan dollar (1878-1921) in the curls of Liberty’s hair. Some, not knowing the English engraver who designed the new dollar, took the “M” to stand for “Mint.” But how anyone, as … Continue reading

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Laugh out loud

Apparently the following was a “good one” back in 1869, as several newspapers picked it up: “Why is a one dollar greenback better than a silver dollar? When you fold it you double it, and when you open it you … Continue reading

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Knowledge shouldn't be avoided

I edit two magazines for coin collectors (Coins and Coin Prices) and one for paper money collectors (Bank Note Reporter). As such, in June I attended the International Paper Money Show in Memphis, Tenn. This year’s IPMS was the first … Continue reading

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An 1808 silver dollar?

Recently I was digging through some 19th-century newspapers online to find references to U.S. coins. I ran into a number of stories on the 1804 dollar, all of which varied as to their assessment of why this coin is so … Continue reading

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Who was the American Indian model?

The next issue of Coins magazine (September 2010) will feature an interesting article by Tom LaMare on the Indian Head gold $5 by Bela Lyon Pratt and the supposed American Indian model for it and the $2.50. As with other … Continue reading

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A pyramid of the yellow stuff

I a couple of months ago I wrote in Coins magazine that if I had one dream coin it would be the new ultra-high relief Saint-Gaudens gold $20 being released next year by the U.S. Mint. Recently, having attended the … Continue reading

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Buffalo nickel a tale of two Big Trees

Having done plenty of research into the topic of who were the models for the Buffalo nickel, I’m convinced that Isaac Johnny John (Chief John Big Tree) was not a model for the coin, despite his claims otherwise. I make … Continue reading

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Josh's gold-plated nickel

In next week’s episode of “Collecting Money,” on Coin Chat Radio, I plan to do a piece about Josh Tatum and the 1883 Liberty Head nickel. Tatum, a deaf mute, who reputedly gold-plated thousands of the first Liberty Head nickels … Continue reading

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