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Gold $5 beats anything I ever found

Ever find a gold coin in circulation?

When I was a kid just starting out as a collector, I used to wonder what it was like to have gold coins in circulation.

Back in the last half of the 1960s I was busily putting sets together as fast as my paper route income and my circulation finds effort would allow me.

Gold coins had been withdrawn in 1933.

I happened to have a great-aunt who was born in 1881. She had given me some coins that she had acquired during her life that she thought I might be interested in.

Of the three pieces, none was gold and none was rare, but I took the opportunity to ask her what it was like using gold coins in change.

She gave me a slightly quizzical look. Then she answered.

Even though she was 52 years old in 1933, she said she had only ever encountered one gold coin.

That was back in 1899 when she graduated high school and her father gave her a $5 gold piece to cover expenses for an overnight train trip she was taking with classmates.

That sort of deflated my visions of sorting through masses of gold coins had I been born in an earlier time.

It also gave me a healthy respect for the value of gold.

Imagine going on a trip with just $5 in expense money. The gold-backed dollar clearly went a long way.

So I never lived my gold fantasy.

However, someone else has and he just sent me an email about his experience.

My “find may be a bit unbelievable but here goes: After going through $1,000 in half dollars this morning, I was happily surprised to find 40 silver halves, but that wasn’t my great find.

“My bank doesn’t accept rolled coin. They have to count in their machine in the vault and pay you. The coins counted get bagged when they reach certain amounts, $50 cents, $200 nickels, $1,000 dimes, etc.

“Well one of the banks called me this morning to please come by to buy bags (which they save for me). There was one bag of nickels and I chose that one to search.

“My fourth handful had a 1930 Buffalo and much to my surprise a 1911 $5 gold piece in very fine condition. In 60 years of roll searching I have never found a gold coin. I’ve never heard of a gold coin found in a sealed bag or roll of coins.

“I’m a member of the Myrtle Beach Coin Club and can’t wait until our next meeting to share my good fortune.”

This was indeed good fortune and I thank Vic Figlar for writing to me.

Over the years he has shared other finds, but this obviously is the best one.

He ends his email with, “I’d love to hear if you have heard of something similar.”

I will let him know that it has happened before, but I can recall only two other reports of something similar happening in my career. Both involved a gold $5 and nickels. When they happened and where they happened I can no longer remember.

Obviously, it is a rare occurrence to find gold among nickels. It is an experience worth sharing so that many other collectors and I can fuel our “what if” numismatic daydreams of gold.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."