Skip to main content

Stop the coin abuse NOW

I'm flippin' angry. It has to stop. The shameless abuse of collectible coins has to end. I called this blog "The Flip Side" after a column I used to write, but I never advocated the flipping of coins and particularly not rare ones such as the 1913 Liberty Head nickel.


If you haven't read about it, recently an announcer at a television station in Milwaukee, having been handed the Bebee specimen of the famed 1913 Liberty Head nickel, decided it would be fun (much to the shock and surprise of those around him) to flip the coin while on air. Fortunately he caught, and fortunately the coin was in a Kointain capsule that helped protect. But still...

Interestingly, the coin in question has an earlier tie to Milwaukee and a different kind of abuse. There are only five specimens of the 1913 Liberty Head nickel known, and all bring big money when offered for sale. The Bebee specimen is so-called because a coin dealer named Aubrey Bebee once owned it. Earlier, however, it was known as the McDermott specimen, having been named after its prior owner, J.V. McDermott, a hard-drinking coin dealer from Milwaukee. Shown is Bebee with the coin in a holder that underneath the tape bears McDermott's name.


Old hobby stories have it that McDermott, who often did business in bars, was very generous about allowing others to see his rare coin. It is said that he at times slid it down the bar for others to look at. If so, hopefully it was in a holder. Cabinet friction (the wearing of a coin from years spent jostling around in a display cabinet) would probably have nothing on bar friction.

ANABebee 1913revbw.jpg

Actually, the Bebee specimen has some minor flaws, but it was minted with them. Still, flipping is no way to treat a coin of this caliber.