I have collected coins since I was 8 in 1983 and found this lucky find on Dec. 24, 2005.
I went to a coin dealer who I used to visit just about weekly to buy anywhere from $40 to $120 in coins. I saw a few stacks of common Morgans and saw the price tags of $7 to $9 each based on stacks graded G-F, VF-XF, and AU-BU.
I couldn’t pass up the deal on the Morgans as for it is one of my favorite coins, and at a purchase price close to melt I couldn’t pass it up even if they are common silver. So I bought all three stacks and spent around $200.
I got home and didn’t have time to look through them and put them in my safe. On Christmas Eve my wife was getting everything done for the Christmas lunch in preparation for the next day, and I was in my office and decided to open my safe and look through the pile of Morgans that I bought, hoping to maybe find some VAMs.
I got about half way into the pile and found a 1893 Morgan and said WOW ... now that is quite a find, but it’s probably the Philly, still a nice rare date worth more than I paid for it, and when I closed my eyes and flipped it on its reverse side up and opened my eyes it had an “S” as clear as day. My heart started racing and I yelled out something like, “Oh, my God!”
My wife came running to see what was wrong, and I said nothing wrong, but something right for once. She said what ... I said do you see this coin here, this coin books for $2,900 in VF and this is an out of date Redbook, and this coin looks to be a VF, and is the KEY coin to the entire Morgan set. My wife, although excited for me, was hoping it would be worth millions, but I mean to find a coin worth $,2900 or more for a purchase of $8 for that single coin is just insane.
I ended up going back to the dealer and I couldn’t tell him that I got the coin there because it would have made him want to hang himself that he overlooked the coin. I ended up telling him that the coin was given to me by my grandfather with a bunch of other coins. He looked it over and said he’d pay me $2,100 for it if I get it certified as genuine since many fakes exist. I said OK, I am going to get it slabbed and will decide later if I want to sell it or not.
I sent it to ANACS and to my surprise this coin came back as Genuine although not quite a VF like I had hoped. There was a fine scratch on the obverse that wasn’t very noticeable but still there to detract grade points and the reverse rim had about six small dings to it. It ended up grading VF Details NET F-15. I brought the coin back to the dealer and showed him and he was happy for me and offered to buy it. I said no, I will keep it. Also it didn’t feel right to sell the coin back to him.
Eight months later my wife’s car was becoming a deathtrap and I said that’s it. I am getting a better car for my daughter and you. So I ended up selling my 1893-S Key Morgan on Aug. 15, 2006, to another dealer who I knew that we negotiated the selling price to $3,150 and I sold it. I got my wife a nice solid three-year-old used American car with no problems that would last.
Only other thing as painful as getting rid of that prized coin was having to pay about $900 in short term gain income tax on that coin due to the $3,142 profit. The woman at H&R Block had her jaw drop. She put her glasses down on her desk and had to pause to take it all in when she saw a $3,142 profit on an $8 investment. I was there because I was hoping they would find a way to get taxed not so painfully on that. No such luck. But I was smart and put $1,000 off to the side knowing I was going to have to pay some tax on that.
Can’t wait to see what others send in for their jackpot finds at very little expense.
Dave Lembke is a collector in New Hampshire.
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