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Confederate rarities to go on display

The ultimate circulation find, an 1861 Confederate half dollar found in a roll of change around 1880, will be displayed at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money Aug. 14-18 in Philadelphia.

It is insured for $1 million.

It is speculated that it was once owned by either Confederate Treasury Secretary Christopher Memminger or Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

What isn’t in doubt is it could only have been the possession of an important person.

Just four were made at the Confederate-controlled New Orleans Mint in April 1861.

The rare half dollar was rescued from oblivion when a coin collector named Mark Jacobs of New York State found it in a roll.

How it got into circulation probably never will be known.

Once it got into the mainstream of American numismatics, a who’s who of the famous joined the pedigree of names: Thomas Elder, Waldo Newcomer, B. Max Mehl, Col. E.H.R. Green and Eric P. Newman.

A companion piece, an 1861 Confederate cent, will also go on display at the show.

It is one of the finest of just 16 known. It is insured for $250,000.

This piece was made in Philadelphia under mysterious circumstances.

The Confederate cent is also from the collection of Newman, who died late last year.

The current owner of the two coins wishes to remain anonymous, but there is no question about the generosity of lending them to the ANA.

Both pieces are part of what is called the Black Cat Collection.

Laura Sperber, President of Legend Numismatics, said the collection's owner collected coins as a kid, then approximately a year ago jumped back in seriously.

“His collection would already rank as one of the greatest ever. He is a highly successful entrepreneur who is passionately enjoying the pursuit of great rarities and just cool looking coins, including Civil War coins such as the Confederate half dollar and cent,” Sperber said.

The Confederate half dollar is graded Professional Coin Grading Service Gold Shield SP40 with Certified Acceptance Corporation sticker.

The Confederate cent is graded PCGS Gold Shield SP63+ CAC.

Both pieces will be part of the ANA Museum Display, ensuring that they will be shown to maximum advantage.

“These coins are classic ‘what ifs’ of history,” said Douglas Mudd, Curator of the ANA’s Edward C. Rochette Money Museum.

The greatest "what if" is what if coin collector Mark Jacobs hadn’t found it?

The second is what if you don't see it when you have the opportunity?

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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