Wednesday, June 25, 2008

NGC Graders count up SS New York shipwreck gold treasure

More than one-third of the gold coins recovered from the S.S. New York were of foreign origin and many of the gold U.S. coins were from the New Orleans Mint.

The accounting appears in a population report prepared by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. of the coins it has certified and graded.

Of the 297 graded gold coins recovered from the ship, which sank off the Louisiana coast in a storm Setp. 7, 1846, 123 coins were foreign, 72 were U.S. gold struck in New Orleans and a further 16 were from Dahlonega, Ga.

The remaining gold U.S. coins were from Philadelphia.

Most numerous among the U.S. coins struck in New Orleans were . . .

Full story at: Link

Afghanistan Treasure (including ancient coins) on Display in U.S.

Ancient coins are featured at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., in a joint exhibition with the National Geographic Society and the National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul. It will be open for viewing until Sept. 7.

The exhibition includes ancient coins found in the region. Many of the treasures were rediscovered buried in the Central Bank located in the Presidential Palace after being out of sight since 1979 when the Soviet invasion occurred. The treasures escaped the later onslaught of the Taliban, who ruthlessly destroyed many works of art that portrayed deities.

A true civilization grew up in the region as early as 2000 B.C. with fortified buildings, including towers. An external danger existed that prompted such construction - providing for the common defense - that resulted in a fortress type city. The early civilization on the Oxus River left no evidence of writing and its history is lost. It predates the minting of coins as well. The discovery of a grave site 40 years ago unearthed a small treasure including . . .

Full story at: Link

If only coins could talk (an interesting coin story)

If only coins could talk.

It certainly would be nice to know the path that an 1883 silver dollar took from Jamestown to Florida and then back again over the course of more than a century.

But first we have to go to the beginning of the story. In the spring of 1883 the village of Jamestown was incorporated into the city of Jamestown by legislation passed by the territorial assembly and allowed to go into law without the signature of Gov. Nehemiah Ordway.

On April 16, 1883 . . .

Full story at: Link

Did you lose your coin collection in the woods?

Collectable Coins Found in Litchfield/Morris, CT

State Police Looking for Owner

On Thursday June 12th, 2008 the State Police initiated a found property investigation after the discovery of numerous collectable coins in a wooded area off of Route 202 near the Litchfield/Morris town lines. The property was discovered by a Department of Transportation worker who reported this finding to the police.

The property, which appears to have been in that location for an extended (yet undetermined) length of time, consists of . . .

Full story (and photo of part of the collection) at: Link

Suit filed in Idaho over Liberty coins

Coins seized by federal agents in Coeur d'Alene and elsewhere in U.S.

Twelve people who said they bought the coins being touted as an alternative to legal tender have sued the government in a federal court in Idaho to get their coins back.

Federal agents seized the gold and silver coins from the Sunshine Mint warehouse in Coeur d'Alene.

"I didn't lose very much at all, about $158," said John Crowe of Rupert, who holds certificates to coins he bought from a company called Liberty Dollar Inc. "But the government has no right just to seize my property."

Privately minted medallions intended as collectibles are nothing new. But the ones at issue, promoted by Bernard von NotHaus of Miami and made of gold or silver, are . . .

Full story at: Link

No Shortage Here - Austrian Mint Releases World's Largest Silver Coin

After the Royal Canadian Mint released the new world record largest gold coin in 2007, it seemed logical that eventually we'd see a record shattering silver coin as well.Last week, perception was proven true when the Austrian Mint announced the production of the new world's largest silver, the Europe Taller 2008. The Mint chose this year's European Championship of Football as the forum to release the design, which will soon go on display at the Mint Museum in the city of Hall in Tirol, Austria. . . .

Full story at: Link

NGC Releases SS New York Shipwreck Treasure Population Report

A comprehensive population report of all the NGC-graded gold coins from the SS New York is now available. The SS New York operated a light cargo and passenger service between New Orleans and Galveston until it sank during a storm on September 7, 1846. Coins recovered were conserved by Numismatic Conservation Services (NCS) and then certified by NGC. The newly released population report includes 297 gold coins representing a broad cross-section of coins used in commerce along Gulf of Mexico trade routes during the early nineteenth century. . . .

Full story at: Link

SS New York Population Report (pdf): Link

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fox Business Video: The Treasure Industry

Fox Business interviewed Mark Gordon, CEO Odyssey Marine Exploration regarding their continuing fight with Spain over the 590,000 coin treasure recovered last year along with other more general questions about the shipwreck business in general.

Watch video here: Link

Monday, June 16, 2008

American Numismatic Society secretly moves hundred million dollar plus coin collection to new location

A Treasure Travels, Inconspicuously

They didn’t exactly hire two guys with a truck to secretly move one of the world’s largest and most valuable coin collections over the weekend in Manhattan. But they did use five standard-issue moving vans.

No armored-car convoys. No helicopter gunships. No National Guard outriders flourishing automatic weapons. Just sweaty movers, in blue shirts with their names stitched at the front, schlepping 425 plastic packing crates that were filled with treasures trussed in humble bubble wrap and garden-variety vinyl packing tape.

Yes, the New York Police Department provided an escort, but during more than eight hours on Saturday, one of the great hoards of coins and currency on the planet, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, was utterly unalarmed as it was bumped through potholes, squeezed by double-parked cars and slowed by tunnel-bound traffic during the trip to its fortresslike new vault a mile to the north.

In the end, the move did not become a caper movie.

“The idea was to make this as inconspicuous as possible,” said Ute Wartenberg Kagan, executive director of the American Numismatic Society. “It had to resemble a totally ordinary office move.”

The collection of 800,000 coins, bank notes, medals, commemorative badges, pins, historic advertising tokens, campaign buttons and other artifacts has been amassed during the 150-year existence of the nonprofit society. . . .

Full story at: Link

Europe Taler 2008: World's Largest Silver Coin Revealed

The world’s largest silver coin, the Europe Taler 2008, was revealed at the 2008 European Championship of Football in Austria and Switzerland and will soon be on display at the Hall of Tirol, Austria.

Weighing in at 20.08kg with a diameter of 36cm, the coin portrays important people from the last 500 years within its hexagonal patterns resembling a football.

Historical imagery on the coin includes: Martin Luther, for his . . .

Full story at: Link

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lear Capital Assembles World's Finest Known Four Dollar Stella Gold Coin Set

Valued at More than $6.5 Million, Lear Capital Completes the Finest Known Four Dollar Stella Gold Coin Set

LOS ANGELES, June 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Lear Capital, the West LosAngeles- based precious metals company has assembled the world's finest known gold coin set that includes four of all the finest known coins. A collector has commissioned the four coins to create one of the most expensive sets available. The set is valued at more than $6.5 million.

To complete the set, Lear spent three years trying to obtain an 1880 Coiled Hair Four Dollar Stella for its client, a prominent New York businessman who collects rare coins. Lear obtained the "Four Dollar Stella"in late 2007. As one-of-only-eight known, this 1880 Coiled Hair Four Dollar Stella is the finest known and valued at more than $3 million.

. . . The "Four Dollar Stella" completes a set that contains an 1879 Flowing Hair (425 known), 1879 Coiled Hair (12 known), and an 1880 Flowing Hair (17known). The set contains the finest known examples of each date. . . .

Full story at: Link

Some rarities circulated through many hands

Today it is a great treasure, easily among the top few coins to have been available to every American coin collector if they had only wanted an example.

The end of the school year and the arrival of summer used to signal an increased pace in coin hunting by kids during the heyday of the circulation finds era.

Sure, you can collect all the year round, but summertime meant more time for a kid to be a kid and for me that meant working on my coin collection.
It used to be perilously close to a competition. Who had found the best coin in circulation was a very common concern for young collectors in the 1950s. In fact, the best coins I ever saw found in circulation were those of . . .

Full story at: Link

Large Cents: Thoughts on the Nation's First Cents

Large cents dated 1793 have attracted collectors for at least 150 years. They were the first coins struck by the new U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, a city with a population of about 40,000 at that time.

Nothing involving the first cents came easily. Finding a skilled engraver was a challenge. So was the acquisition of the copper needed to strike the coins. Many 1793 cents are found dark or corroded.

Coming up with the right design for the cent was also difficult. It was a hit-or-miss effort involving a lot of trial and error. Designed by Henry Voight, the earliest cents had an obverse depicting Liberty with windblown hair. One critic said she appeared to be "in fright."

The reverse was equally controversial. Its circular chain of 15 links - one for each state at the time - was supposed to symbolize unity. But the chain's association with slavery made it a poor choice for a cent which had the inscription "Liberty" on the obverse.

The letter punches used for the inscriptions on the cent were made by Jacob Bay. On the first cents, struck from Feb. 27 to March 12, 1793, "AMERICA" was abbreviated as "AMERI." The next chain cent variety spelled it out in full.

Adam Eckfeldt soon redesigned the cent, replacing . . .

Full story at: Link

17th century rare gold coin recovered in Newfoundland, Canada

Call it the 17th century equivalent of losing your bank card - and then picture the owner losing his mind trying to find it. Sometime around 1627, the owner of a very valuable gold coin lost it at an early British colony on Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula.

Archeologist Jim Tuck, who dug the rarity out of the stone footing of a house this week at the Colony of Avalon, says how it got there is anybody's guess, but the erstwhile owner - maybe the man who founded it in 1621, Lord Baltimore, himself - didn't let it go very easily.

"It's a very valuable piece of stuff. I'm amazed at the kinds of things people will lose. I believe whoever lost it spent a long time trying to get it back," he said with a laugh.

The loonie-sized Scottish coin is . . .

Full story at: Link

Monday, June 09, 2008

Stocks outpace gains by collectibles over long run

Financial quiz: What investment, on average, has the best long-term track record?

A. Stocks

B. Artwork

C. Fine violins

D. Collectors' stamps

E. Bordeaux wines

F. First-edition books

If you answered "A," for stocks, you're correct.

Based on a recent Barron's article by Thomas Healey, a retired Goldman Sachs partner, stocks have grown at an 11 percent annual rate from 1900 to 2005.

Be advised that it's tough to track long-term performance of antiques and collectibles. Nevertheless, here, Barron's recently reported, are the annual returns of collectibles, on average, based on readily available statistical information. . . .

Full story at: Link

Treasure hunters head to sea for salvage season

OFF THE TREASURE COAST, Fla. (AP) — The fever is contagious. Gold fever, that is.

Symptoms? Unwavering optimism.

"Today's the day," legendary treasure hunter Mel Fisher would say as he set out to sea each summer in search of the ocean's secrets. Before his death in 1998, he found more than $1 billion worth of treasure, including gold and silver bars, emeralds, coins and artifacts.

As salvage season begins — roughly from May to August when the seas are calmer — a select few carry on Fisher's work up and down Florida's coasts, hoping to hit the mother lode.

Similar salvage operations take place up and down the East Coast during the summer months, through the Carolinas, into Virginia and up through New England, where Revolutionary War-era shipwrecks have been discovered.

Florida is said to have more treasure-laden shipwrecks than any other state, largely because . . .

Full story at: Link

Friday, June 06, 2008

U.S. MINT SAYS PUBLIC IS EMBRACING NEW 'GOLDEN DOLLAR' COIN (US Mint Press Release)

"The initial public demand for the Golden Dollar has been extraordinarily strong," said [the Mint Director], "and it is clear that this enthusiasm is fueling demand from banks and retailers. We are hearing from many banks and retailers who have not ordered ... dollars in years, if ever. As a result, we have a backlog of orders we will be filling over the next several weeks. We are working closely with the Federal Reserve to expedite shipments to banks, and we are rapidly increasing production of Golden Dollars."

"Especially gratifying," the [Mint Director] continued, "is what we are hearing from the American people. They are telling us the coins are beautiful ... it is clear that we have exceeded all expectations for the coin's acceptance by the public."

Sounds like the new Presidential dollar series is a winner, doesn't it? The accolades can't get much better than this. So has the new Presidential dollar series really been accepted by the public?

Full story at: us-mint-says-public-is-embracing-new.html

US Mint taps Golin for presidential coin outreach


WASHINGTON: The US Mint is working with GolinHarris on a campaign promoting the use of presidential $1 coins as common currency.
The effort's PR budget is as much as $2.4 million for the first year with an option to renew for subsequent years if both parties are satisfied, said Patrick McAfee, director, US Mint Office of Dollar Coin Programs.

“What we are trying to achieve is that people would use presidential $1 coins just like they would use dollars and coins,” McAfee said. ... The campaign's test phase will begin this July in Charlotte, NC; Austin, TX; Grand Rapids, MI; and Portland, OR. ... Golin is emphasizing the environmental and economic benefits of using the coins instead of paper money, noting that they are recyclable and can save the US up to $5 billion in a decade, said Love.

“We really need a compelling reason for people to change their behavior towards the dollar coin in general. This campaign is designed to focus on the fact that these coins are 100% recyclable and that they last for a long time, which saves natural resources and money,” she said. “The thing we are testing with this campaign is the idea that there is a different sort of benefit with using this coin.”
. . .

Full story at: Link

A penny for your thoughts... New stamp celebrates the Royal Canadian Mint's centenary


Ottawa - Canada Post today issued a domestic rate stamp in celebration of the Royal Canadian Mint's centennial.
Headquartered in the nation's capital, the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) is among the largest and most elaborate minting operations in the world. Though originally established to produce domestic coinage, the Mint's reputation for innovative designs and detailed craftsmanship soon attracted an international market. Today, the RCM is at the forefront of currency innovation, producing all Canadian coins and those for many other countries, as well as . . .
Full story at: Link

US Mint Issues False Statement on Silver Bullion Sourcing

The US Mint just released a statement concerning the rationing of US Silver Eagles that stated one of the reasons for the rationing program was that the silver bullion had to be newly mined and could only be sourced from US sources.

"By law, the United States Mint's American Eagle silver bullion coins must meet exacting specifications and must be composed of newly mined silver acquired from domestic sources. The United States Mint will continue to make every effort to increase its acquisition of silver bullion blanks that meet these specifications and requirements to address continuing high demand in the silver bullion coin market."

I believe this to be a false statement. US Law: 31USC5112 clearly states . . .

Full story at: Link

Gold Coins of Roman British Usurper Found

The number of known gold coins of would-be Roman Emperor Carausius recently increased from 23 to 25 specimens.

The two newly uncovered examples depict Carausius, who helped himself to Roman Britain as his own private fiefdom in 286 A.D.

There is excitement among museum curators, collectors and the machinery sales manager who found the two coins in a field near Ashbourne, Derbys, but the real story is the proof that once again Britain's Treasure Trove laws work, while demands in other countries that all antiquities and coins found in the ground are cultural patrimony and therefore must be turned over to the government without any reimbursement possibility to the finder simply drive the finds underground. . . .

Full story at: Link

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

PCGS states it is NOT obligated to designate any Dollar as a “Cheerios” Dollar simply because it came out of a sealed Cheerios package

Effective May 16, 2008

As part of an effort in 1999 to promote the new Sacagawea Dollars, General Mills scattered 5,500 specially-packaged 2000-dated Sacagawea Dollars among 10 million boxes of Cheerios cereal. Five years later, it was discovered that the so-called “Cheerios” Dollars were actually from a different reverse die type. Some experts consider these pattern coins; others have called them “Reverse of 1999”. PCGS has labeled them “Cheerios FS-401”, referring to the source and the reference number from the Fivaz-Stanton “Cherrypicker” guide. Because of the perceived rarity of the Reverse of 1999 and the assumption that all “Cheerios” Dollars bore the Reverse of 1999, the demand for these coins has increased and the coins themselves have become quite valuable.

However, PCGS experts recently opened a sealed “Cheerios” package only to find out that the Dollar contained in the package was . . .

Full story at: Link

Successful Coin Collecting Format Adopted for Stamps

Newport Beach, California) – A popular way to collect coins is the basis for a new system to attract new stamp collectors and assist novices who may be confused by a huge number of complicated, nearly identical varieties. Professional Stamp Experts (PSE) of Newport Beach, California, a sister company of Professional Coin Grading Service, has created a simplified system for building a basic type set of U.S. postage stamps. PSE is offering a free, 56-page booklet that explains the new system. . . .

Full story at: Link

Top 10 Most Valuable U.S. Coins Found in Pocket Change (about.com)

There are a number of fairly valuable U.S. error coins and die varieties in circulation today. These coins are overlooked by people because they have small distinguishing characteristics, such as a modest doubling of the coin image, or minute differences in the size or spacing of the letters in the legends. Learn which of your pocket change coins is worth a large premium over face value, and why. . . .

Full story at: Link

Fourth-party grading, such as John Albanese’s Certified Acceptance Corporation (CAC), doesn’t add depth

For those who thought they had seen everything with coin grading, we now have fourth-party graders! Before we had grading companies it was pretty simple. It took two parties for coins to change hands – the buyer and seller plus a price list based on the state of preservation of the coin. Human nature typically had the seller lean on the better state of preservation of the coin (higher value) while the buyer often would estimate a lower grade (less cost).

The coin industry promoted the idea of an independent appraisal of coin (third-party grading) because it would simplify coin transactions and even promote sight-unseen trading of coins. It’s been over 20 years since companies started for a fee to evaluate a coin and assign a grade. The earliest was a non-profit service by the American Numismatic Association that would return the coin in a simple flip with a . . .

Full story at: Link

How Are Record High Gold Prices Affecting Coin Dealers' Business?

Rising gold prices has been very profitable for coin dealers, especially those who deal in bullion-priced products as well as collector coins. When gold surpassed its 1980 high of $850 at the beginning of 2008, activity soared. As the rose to more than $1,000 in mid-March, volume rose even more.

My company's monthly sales volumes during the first five months of 2008 have been the five highest sales volume months since the end of the 1980 bullion boom. Yes, higher than October 1987 when the U.S. stock market crashed, higher than the reaction to the failure of Long Term Capital Management in 1998, higher than the months preceding January 1, 2000, and even higher than after September 11, 2001.

The surge in activity has been . . .

Full story at: Link

A look at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Commemoration coins

Coins Mark 2008 Beijing Olympics

Athletes won't be the only ones in pursuit of Olympic gold and silver this summer.

Coin collectors will be able to acquire proof gold and silver commemorative coins issued by the China Mint in honor of the games it will host Aug. 8-24.

The precious metal commemorative coins reflect the games' theme, "One World, One Dream."

The complete proof 18-coin set, issued in three series, features six gold coins that are each one-third troy ounce and 12 silver coins that are each 1 troy ounce. The collection has a mintage limited to 60,000 worldwide, with 3,000 sets earmarked for the United States.

"With over a billion people in China alone, the limited mintage of these coins makes one realize that they may become as rare and treasured one day as ancient rare art pieces from Chinese history," said Kitty Quan, chief executive officer of Panda America, one of two U.S. distributors of the Olympic coins. . . .

Full story at: Link

U.S. Mint releases the Arizona commemorative quarter

Phoenix, Arizona -As a Mariachi band played, the Arizona commemorative quarter-dollar coin, the 48th quarter of the popular 50 State Quarters® Program, was introduced into circulation in a ceremony on the State Capitol Senate Lawn today. United States Mint Director Ed Moy joined Governor Janet Napolitano in hosting the festivities.

"This quarter celebrates the breathtaking natural beauty of Arizona, from its rare Saguaro cactus to the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon," Director Moy told the crowd. "When Americans pull this coin out of their pockets, they'll immediately think of Arizona."

After the ceremony, Director Moy and Governor Napolitano passed out shiny new Arizona quarters to the children in the audience. A large crowd of adults lined up to exchange their bills for $10 rolls of Arizona quarters as Mariachi Aguila de Marcelino Cervantes of Phoenix played on.

On the eve of the launch, Director Moy hosted a coin collectors' forum at the Carnegie Center in Phoenix, where he discussed United States Mint programs. Members of the audience told him what they would like to see on American coinage in the future.

The reverse (tails side) of the Arizona quarter features an image of the Grand Canyon with a Saguaro cactus in the foreground. A banner reading "Grand Canyon State" separates the two images to signify that the Saguaro cactus does not grow in the . . .

Full story at: Link

Monday, June 02, 2008

90% US Silver Coin Bags, $1000 Face

Since 1 ounce rounds, 10 ounce bars, and 100 ounce bars are getting very hard to find, and a 6-8 week delay is unrealistically unacceptable, some of you may be considering buying 90% Silver, which are more available in places these days, especially, I hear, from www.fidelitrade.com. So, I figured that some of my readers would like my experienced opinion on acquiring this kind of silver product. . . .

Full story at: Link

Coin collectors, art dealers fear restrictions on Chinese imports

American coin collectors and art dealers say a rule under consideration at the State Department could dramatically decrease the importation of goods from China, crippling a booming antiquities market in the United States.

The State Department has not yet imposed any restrictions, but officials are considering requiring shippers to provide documentation of ownership when moving goods from China to the United States. Chinese officials, who asked the State Department for the change in 2004, argue the rule is a way to protect China’s cultural heritage and prevent the trafficking of stolen goods.

Coin collectors and art dealers fear more than a receipt will be required. Instead, they expect to have to track an item’s lineage under the new rule.

That could dramatically scale back what is a growing, multimillion-dollar antiquities trade with Asia and foist an unmanageable amount of paperwork on small-business coin collectors, critics claim.

Without the necessary paperwork, customs inspectors could seize the artifacts. . . .

Full story at: Link

500-year-old shipwreck, treasure found

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - The ship was laden with tons of copper ingots, elephant tusks, gold coins - and cannons to fend off pirates.

But it had nothing to protect it from the fierce weather off a particularly bleak stretch of inhospitable African coast, and it sank 500 years ago.

Now it has been found, stumbled upon by De Beers geologists prospecting for diamonds off Namibia.

"If you're mining on the coast, sooner or later you'll find a wreck," archaeologist Dieter Noli said Thursday. . . .

Full story at: Link

Man unearths box of buried money in Wisconsin

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Dan Deming had heard the rumors about the buried treasure on his central Wisconsin farm.

At first he made some halfhearted attempts to find it, and then searched in earnest for two or three years after receiving a metal detector for his birthday.

"I don't know what I thought, if I thought it was really there or not," he said.

The mystery ended recently while Deming was tearing down a 100-year-old shed on his property. A rusted box tumbled from the rubble and wads of currency dating back to the Depression spilled on the ground.

"I couldn't believe it. I started running to the house with it," Deming, 34, said Sunday. "My wife thought I broke my arm because I was just hooting and hollering."

The bills were so deteriorated that it was hard to count the money. But the box also contained scraps of newspaper with dollar amounts written on them, a possible tally of the loot. . . .

Full story at: Link