Author Archives: Robert R. Van Ryzin

Fraser's would-be Indian model

I picked up this image of John Big Tree in an eBay auction years ago. John Big Tree claimed he was a model for James Earle Fraser’s Buffalo nickel (1913-1938). The many holes in his story are told in my … Continue reading

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Spitting image

Admittedly the Anthony mini dollar, which portrays famed suffragette Susan B. Anthony, never took off as a circulating coin. Some thought it was too close in size to the quarter to be easily identifiable. Coinage was from 1979-1981 and again … Continue reading

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That's one big nugget

Having an interest in gold and silver mining (and, of course, coins), I was happy to get a chance to view the 100-troy ounce Washington Nugget that was on display at the Florida United Numismatists Coin Show in Tampa this … Continue reading

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Shorted 1,908 cents

When the new Lincoln cents came out in 1909 everyone wanted one. Of course, today it is known that the 1909-S with Victor D. Brenner’s initials on it was one that would prove valuable. However, even by the 1920s, when … Continue reading

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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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