Saturday, November 22, 2008

Abraham Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollar Coin Designs Unveiled on 145th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address

GETTYSBURG, Pa. - United States Mint Deputy Director Andrew Brunhart today unveiled designs for the 2009 Abraham Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollar during the annual Dedication Day Ceremony at Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The unveiling took place on the 145th anniversary of the dedication of Soldiers' National Cemetery, where Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address in 1863. Renowned historical documentary director Ken Burns, Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania Vice President Ronald L. Hankey and Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission (ALBC) Co-Chairman Harold Holzer also participated in the ceremony.

"It is my great honor to represent the United States Mint on the 145th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address," Deputy Director Brunhart said. "It is also my great privilege to introduce the designs for the 2009 Abraham Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollar to the American people."

The obverse (heads side) of the Abraham Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollar was created by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program Master Designer Justin Kunz and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart. The image, symbolic of Lincoln's strength and resolve, was inspired by Daniel Chester French's famous sculpture of the President that sits inside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Inscriptions on the obverse are LIBERTY, IN GOD WE TRUST and 2009.

The coin's reverse (tails side) was designed and executed by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill. The design features the following inscription . . .

Full story at: Link

New Lincoln Cents Spur Impossible Dream

You know you are getting old when you remember the last time the Lincoln cent had a design change. It's almost like reaching an age where you get your first AARP solicitation in the mail as every 50 years we seem to have a Lincoln design change and that looks like it will happen again.

Of course, the legislation involving the Lincoln cent that was part of the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 does leave the door open to keeping the current design in 2010 after the commemorative designs in 2009, but in fact if you read that legislation, a change seems more likely.

Regarding the Lincoln cent reverse the law states, "The design on the reverse of the 1-cent coins issued after Dec. 31, 2009, shall bear an image emblematic of President Lincoln's preservation of the United States of America as a single and united country."

Obviously that wording leaves the issue wide open, but many would be hard-pressed to see how the Lincoln Memorial in Washington fits into the spirit of the new law.

In fact, there are other elements to the new law that are interesting and potentially a great deal of fun if officials truly get into the spirit of the anniversary. Already we are sure that there will be four reverses on the Lincoln cents of 2009, with one featuring his birth and early childhood in Kentucky. Another has his formative years in Indiana. A third features his professional career in Illinois and the final one will depict his presidency in Washington, D.C. with all lasting just one year for 2009.

Certainly supplies produced will be sufficient to make them a . . .

Full story at: Link

One-of-a-kind rare coin returns to New Orleans

The airport is often about a clutching goodbye, but one day in September it was about a homecoming.

That was the day New Orleans coin collector and dealer Paul Hollis walked through Armstrong International Airport in Kenner, flanked by an armed security guard and a State Police escort. Hollis walked through the airport, carrying in his hand a one-of-a-kind coin, sold at auction two years ago for a price that reached into seven figures.

“Well, traveling with a coin worth millions of dollars is, I mean it’s fun, but at the same time, you’ve got to be a little guarded,” Hollis said.

He arranged to have the coin shown here in New Orleans on loan, and flew to Florida to pick it up from an anonymous collector, then held it tightly in his hands for the next five hours.

“I'm not putting it in my sock,” he joked. “I'm not putting it in my briefcase. I'm going to carry this coin the entire way back to New Orleans.”

A short drive later, from the airport to the French Quarter and the Old U.S. Mint, meant the coin was . . .

Full story at: Link

You may be sitting on more money than you think

You might consider taking a closer look at all that loose change in your pockets, purses, wallets and sofa cushions. You see, there may be more cash in those coins than you think.

At bustling Renton Coin Shop, owner Steve Campau and his staff are literally being nickeled-and-dimed, and quartered and dollared!

Forget face value. Some of the silver coins they see are worth $7.50!

"Dimes, quarters or half dollars that were minted in 1964 or before have 90 percent silver in them," Campau said.

If you come across silver coins minted in 1964 or earlier, don't spend them. They're worth more than seven times their face value. People who've been stashing silver coins are cashing in.

But you don't have to be a collector to make a profit. Collect old foreign coins? Most have little collector's value at $2.35 per pound.

Everyday change can hold a hidden windfall. Look for coins with . . .

Full story at: Link

Mystery of the Lesher dollars

It's no secret that Victor and Cripple Creek produced millions in gold from mines dug on the back side of Pikes Peak.

Starting with Bob Womack's discovery in Poverty Gulch in 1890, the Cripple Creek district exploded into a world-famous mining camp. Even today, mining goes on in Victor - using a cyanide drip to extract gold. But some say there is another fortune to be had.

Not buried raw metal awaiting prospectors with picks and shovels.

Silver, as in hundreds of coins minted in 1900-01, distributed mostly in Victor and said by some to be missing ever since. Coins, known as Lesher dollars, which could be worth hundreds of thousands to the lucky person who discovers the stash. And it may be as easy to find as looking in . . .

Full story at: Link

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Last Chance for Gold & Silver U.S. Mint Commemorative Bald Eagle Coins

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The non-profit American Eagle Foundation announced today that the United States Mint's 2008 Bald Eagle Commemorative Coins continue to be a popular seller, but will only be available for 25 more days.

The gold five-dollar, silver dollar and clad half-dollar coin collection will no longer be sold again by the Mint after December 12, 2008.

The special commemoratives officially celebrate the upcoming 35th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act on Dec. 28th and the bald eagle’s comeback to America’s skies.

"This is the last chance for collectors and investors to order these . . .

Full story at: Link

Treasure hunters boost gold finds

An increase in the the popularity of metal detectors helped boost the number of treasure finds last year.

A total of 749 objects were reported found in 2007, according to the Treasure Annual Report.

The report also includes all finds which have passed through the Treasure Process in 2005 and 2006.

They include a gold Iron Age choker, valued at £360,000, which was found by a man searching for remains of crashed WWII aircraft in Nottinghamshire.

The choker - the so-called Newark Torc - is the most expensive single piece of treasure found by a member of the public in over a decade.

Roman hoard

Made of a combination of gold and silver, it was was found by Maurice Richardson, a tree surgeon and metal detecting enthusiast, in 2005.

Although torcs have been found in the UK, most particularly in Norfolk, it is the first one to be discovered in the Nottinghamshire area.

Other valuable objects unearthed by the public include a Roman hoard of more than 3,500 coins . . .

Full story at: Link

Odyssey Marine Exploration Asserts Position in $500 Million Shipwreck Treasure from Black Swan Site

TAMPA, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (Nasdaq:OMEX - News), the world leader in the field of deep-ocean shipwreck exploration, yesterday filed its Response to Spain’s Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment in the “Black Swan” admiralty case pending in U.S. Federal Court in Tampa, Florida. In its pleadings, accompanied by over 1,000 pages of supportive documentation and imagery, Odyssey asserts that the “Black Swan” site and the cargo recovered do not represent an entity to which sovereign immunity would apply. Spain had argued in September that the U.S. Federal Court did not have jurisdiction over the case and that the case should therefore be dismissed.

Based on Odyssey’s exhaustive research and evaluation of all data gathered, Odyssey’s filing concludes that even if the site discovered is eventually proven to be associated with the Nuestra SeƱora de las Mercedes, which is unclear from the available evidence, the ship should not be accorded sovereign immunity. Furthermore, the vast majority of the cargo aboard was commercial cargo that was privately owned and was recovered without disturbing any ship remains.

“I am really pleased that through our filings, the public now can finally see the facts in this case for themselves. The historical, legal, numismatic and archaeological experts have . . .

Full story at: Link

Collecting pieces of history: Man completes state quarters coin collection

Last month at the Merced Mall Ed Miranda completed a task he has worked on for the past three years.

“I said, ‘It finally came.’ I was jumping up and down and I almost forgot my bag of clothes that I had bought,” Miranda, a Los Banos resident, said.

A startled saleswoman asked him what had come. He replied that the change she just gave him included quarters from Hawaii and Alaska. The 79-year-old now had the final two coins he needed to finish his collection of quarters from all 50 states.

In about 2005 Miranda decided to start his coin collection. He didn’t order them through the mail, and only once did he give into the temptation to visit a coin shop. Miranda obtained the coins the hard way, by adding to his collection through everyday transactions. He also . . .

Full story at: Link

U.S. Mint "Last Chance" Sale!

The U.S. Mint is having a "last chance" sale! When they were cleaning out the Order Fulfillment Center in preparation for a move to a new facility, they found loads of forgotten old coins and sets and trinkets and, well...

Full story at: Link

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Most Important New Orleans Gold Coin

After a probable absence of over a century, perhaps the most important New Orleans gold coin in existence is coming back to its ancestral home. My friend Paul Hollis, a coin dealer from Metairie (a suburb of New Orleans), has arranged for the unique Proof 1844-O eagle to be placed on exhibit at the New Orleans mint. This coin, with an estimated value of $2.5 million, goes on public display November 1 and will also be taken around Louisiana on tour by Hollis.

The New Orleans Mint began producing coins in 1838. The very first issue struck by this mint was a group of 20 half dollars to inaugurate coinage and a small group of Proof half dollars were made in 1839 (plus at least one Dime dated 1839-O is known that has been designated a “Specimen” by NGC). So, we know that the New Orleans mint had experience with making Proof coins and that the quality of these was comparable to that seen at the Philadelphia mint.

In 1844, the New Orleans mint produced at least one example of a Proof half eagle and eagle. Remarkably, both still exist and, even more remarkably, both are superbly preserved. Why were they produced and who were they struck for?

Unfortunately, contemporary documentation does not exist that gives the definitive answer to these questions, so we have to make some assumptions. I think it’s safe to say that the Proof 1844-O gold set was struck in commemoration of either a special event or, more likely, a visit to the Mint by some special VIP or dignitary. My guess would be that they were made for personal presentation to President John Tyler.

What is interesting about these . . .

Full story at: Link

Friday, November 14, 2008

Investing in coins, stamps, timber and land...

When equity markets yo-yo, the housing market grinds to a halt, banks buckle and commodities crash, it is tempting simply to bail out of everything and hold your cash in a bag under the floorboards. But if you are looking for less extreme responses to the economic crisis, there's a strong argument for diversifying a chunk of your portfolio into assets with low correlation to other beleaguered sectors.

We have rounded up six options at different entry levels. Some are designed specifically to take advantage of weak markets, others play on enduring trends, such as global food demand or the international shift to sustainable wood sources, while others are simply less widely recognised as investment vehicles.

Of course, many alternative investments are relatively high risk, and they are not necessarily protected by Financial Services Authority regulations, so it is important to understand exactly what you are taking on before you part with your money. . .

Full story at: Link

U.S. Mint releases latest Presidential Coin: Martin Van Buren (8th President)

Martin Van Buren, the nation's eighth president, is honored today with the issuance of a $1 coin bearing his image.

The Van Buren dollar is the fourth in the presidential series released this year by the U.S. Mint. The first four were released last year.

Van Buren, who served one term starting in 1837, was the first president born a U.S. citizen.

On the coin's edge are . . .

Full story at: Link

U.S. Mint's Presidential Dollar Campaign in Four Cities a Failure?

Little Deli in North Austin sees a lot of customers, but it doesn't see many of the new one dollar coins.

"You know, if we get one or two every couple of days, that's about all we're seeing right now," said owner Tony Villani.

The U.S. Mint has been pushing the coins in four cities -- Austin, Grand Rapids, Portland and Charlotte. Commercials are running on local television, and in Austin, more than 185,500 new coins have been put into circulation. Add to that the posters, fliers and stickers sent to local businesses that promote the coin as a way to be green.

"They're more resilient so they're not going to wear out as fast. And I thought that was interesting to me," said Jon Ingle.

"It would be neat if it did take off. Just because dollar bills are, you know, they don't last very long,” said Cassidy Ingle.

But not everyone is buying into it. Many say it's been done too many times before and hasn't worked yet. The Susan B. Anthony dollar coin has been in circulation since 1979, but now it just sits . . .

Full story at: Link

700-year-old coins found in field

Three 700-year-old coins which were found in a field have been declared treasure by a coroner at Flint.

The silver pennies date back to between 1307 and 1314, to the reigns of both Edward I and his son Edward II.

Archaeology enthusiast Peter Jones, from Holywell, found a coin in 2006, then returned to the same spot a year later, when the other two were found.

The coins were analysed by experts at Cardiff's National Museum of Wales who discovered they were 90% silver.

Mr Jones regularly scours a field owned by his friend Ron Davies, for pre-historic items.

He said he has found hundreds of old tools, made from flint, some of which dated back thousands of years before Christ.

He told the inquest he did not usually use a metal detector and found the first coin in 2006 just "lying on the surface".

The following year he took a metal detector to the same spot, and again found two similar coins on the surface.

He said: "I just rubbed them with my hand and they came clean."

John Gittins, Deputy Coroner for North East Wales, declared the coins treasure under the Treasure Act 1996.

He said the coins were now the property of . . .

Full story at: Link

Odyssey Marine Exploration sees calm seas ahead after 2 more shipwreck finds

TAMPA - Odyssey Marine Exploration, the company that recovered a sunken treasure worth an estimated $500 million from the Atlantic Ocean last year, said late Monday it lost $6.5 million, or 13 cents a share, in the third quarter.

The treasure won't be reflected in Odyssey's financial results until ownership of the loot — 17 tons of colonial-era coins — is determined by a federal court in Tampa. Odyssey could be ordered to return the coins to Spain, which has claimed ownership of the entire haul.

Executives attributed the loss to fewer coin sales and $6.1 million in operating and research expenses related to the search and development of several sunken shipwrecks.

Last week, Odyssey said it found two more shipwrecks near the English Channel and that both are "beyond the territorial waters" of any nation.

"All in all, we are in great shape as we move into the final quarter of 2008," said Odyssey CEO Greg Stemm.

Despite the quarterly loss, revenue rose 69 percent to $2.2 million compared with the same quarter last year.

The increase in revenue stems from a $1.4 million payment from the Discovery Channel, which plans to broadcast 11 episodes about Odyssey's deep-sea adventures beginning early next year.

For more than a year, Odyssey has been tangling with . . .

Full story at: Link

Coin shop owner has seen the best and worst of times

When Gordon Lowery was 15 years old he went to a coin show in Aurora.

"This gentleman had some sovereigns," Lowery said. "At the time they were $15 each. I said I wanted to buy the whole bag. I walked to the other end of the show and sold the coins for $17 each. That just got me started."

Lowery, who owns High Grade Coins in Elmwood Park, started collecting coins at age nine. By 16, he had part ownership in a coin store.

In 1966 Lowery was drafted.

"I sold everything when I went into the service because I was afraid I wasn't coming back," Lowery said.

He was shipped first to Viet Nam, then to Korea, where he worked as a medical specialist in the 44th mobile hospital. For 13 months he did EKGs, catheter work and some stitching.

He returned to the U.S. and finished his tour at Fort Fitzsimmons hospital in Denver, Col.

"I got stationed near a coin shop," Lowery said. "I bought three rolls of gold pieces and paid $48 each. I sold them three years later and tripled my money."

Out of . . .

Full story at: Link

Metal detector discovers rare Celtic coin treasure in Netherlands from 1st century B.C.

Ancient Celtic coin cache found in Netherlands

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – A hobbyist with a metal detector struck both gold and silver when he uncovered an important cache of ancient Celtic coins in a cornfield in the southern Dutch city of Maastricht.

"It's exciting, like a little boy's dream," Paul Curfs, 47, said Thursday after the spectacular find was made public.

Archaeologists say the trove of 39 gold and 70 silver coins was minted in the middle of the first century B.C. as the future Roman ruler Julius Caesar led a campaign against Celtic tribes in the area.

Curfs said he was walking with his detector this spring and was about to go home when he suddenly got a strong signal on his earphones and uncovered the first coin.

"It was golden and had a little horse on it — I had no idea what I had found," he said.

After posting a photo of the coin on a Web forum, he was told it was a rare find. The following day he went back and found . . .

Full story at: Link

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Presidential Dollar Coin Honoring Martin Van Buren “The Red Fox of Kinderhook” Available November 13

WASHINGTON - Presidential $1 Coins struck in honor of Martin Van Buren will go on sale November 13, 2008, at noon Eastern Time. Dubbed "The Red Fox of Kinderhook" for his red hair, political acumen and birthplace in New York, Martin Van Buren is the eighth President honored in the multi-year program. Produced at the United States Mint facilities in Denver and Philadelphia, the Presidential $1 Coins are intended for use in routine financial transactions.

The Martin Van Buren Presidential $1 Coin will be available in 25-coin rolls for $35.95 and in 250-coin bags for $319.95. Packaging for the bags and rolls displays the mint of origin, the monetary value of the contents, and the official United States Mint logo.

The United States Mint will inaugurate this latest release in the Presidential $1 Coin Program at the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site in Kinderhook, New York, on Friday, December 5, which is Van Buren's birthday. Following the ceremony, children under 18 years old in attendance will receive a free Martin Van Buren Presidential $1 Coin.

The obverse of the Martin Van Buren Presidential $1 Coin was . . .

Full story at: Link

Finding Treasure in Ohio House's Walls, and Reaping Grief

(Just last month I wrote about a discovery my brother found in his house. (Click here) With the economy the way it is, wouldn't it be nice if we could all find hidden treasure. What's hidden in your house? - A.C. Dwyer)

CLEVELAND (AP) - In the end, a contractor who found $182,000 in Depression-era currency hidden in bathroom walls got just a few thousand dollars and, he feels, some vindication.

The discovery amounted to little more than grief for Bob Kitts, who couldn't agree on how to split the money with homeowner Amanda Reece.

It didn't help Reece's financial situation either. She testified in a deposition that she was considering bankruptcy and a bank recently foreclosed on one of her properties.

As for the 21 descendants of Patrick Dunne - a wealthy businessman who stashed money that was minted in a time of bank collapses and joblessness, only to have it divvied up decades later in a similar economic climate - they'll each get a fraction of the find.

"I called it the greed case," said attorney Gid Marcinkevicius, who represents the Dunne estate.

"If these two individuals had sat down and resolved their disputes and divided the money, the heirs would have had no knowledge of it. Because they were not able to sit down and divide it in a rational way they both lost."

Kitts would later call his discovery "the ultimate contractor fantasy."

He was tearing out the bathroom walls of an 83-year-old home near Lake Erie on spring day in 2006 when he discovered two green metal lockboxes suspended by a wire below the medicine chest. Inside were white envelopes with the return address for "P. Dunne News Agency."

"I ripped the corner off of one," Kitts said during a deposition in a lawsuit filed by Dunne's estate. "I saw . . .

Full story at: Link

Friday, November 07, 2008

How do you calculate the value of the gold or silver in a coin or jewelry?

(One of the most common questions I'm asked is how you can determine the gold or silver value in a coin. Two years ago I tackled this question in my other blog when I wrote the following article. Originally posted in September 2006, here it is again. - A.C. Dwyer)

With the recent anniversary of September 11th, I like many others found myself reliving in my mind where I was on that day. The old anger quickly bubbling back to the surface as I thought about the horror of that day and all those people whose lives were cut short. So you can probably imagine the uncomfortable feeling I got when the ad came on for National Collector’s Mint’s new “2001-2006 World Trade Center Gold and Silver Clad Commemorative” medallion. This medallion has the WTC buildings that can pop up from the medallion and . . . I’m sure that they didn’t think about this . . . the buildings also can be knocked down. But, regardless of how distasteful I find this medallion to be (that’s a whole topic in itself), it got me to wondering about a part of their advertising.

According to their advertising, the medallion is clad in “24 KT gold” and “.999 Pure Silver!” The advertising leads one to believe that the gold and silver make this item more desirable. So how much is the gold and silver in the medallion worth? Or for that matter, how much is the gold and silver in any of our coins worth?

So I thought I would do a write-up to help everyone understand just how to determine the answers to these questions. There are two things that you need to determine this: weight and fineness.

If you just want to know the answer to how much the gold and silver is worth in the National Collector's Mint medallion, jump straight to the last paragraph. If you really want to know how to calculate the value yourself, read on.

Let’s start with fineness. Fineness is the measurement of the purity of the metal. One method of describing the fineness of gold is the karat (kt). This is the measurement of the proportion of gold in an alloy equal to 1/24 part of pure gold. For example, 12kt gold is 12/24 part of pure gold or 50% pure gold, 22kt gold is 11/12 part of pure gold or 91.7% pure gold, and 24kt is 100% pure gold (as in the new gold Buffalo bullion coin).

But fineness can also be stated as parts per thousand or 1/1000. For example, you can see $20 double eagles in the 2007 Redbook listed as “.900 fine” which is equal to 90% pure gold. In the case of territorial or private gold, you will sometimes see “887 thous.” or “900 thous.” on the coin itself.

So, to bring the two methods together, 22kt gold is the same as being .917 fine or 91.7% pure gold. This is step one to determining the value.

Step 2 is to determine the weight of the metal in the coin. This is a little trickier to understand. There are two different methods of weights used depending on whether it’s a precious metal or a base metal. Precious metals (i.e. gold, silver, platinum) use Troy Weights where base metals (i.e. copper, nickel, etc) use Avoirdupois Weights, abbreviated avdp. Nickel can be a little trickier because in the early days of the mint, it was considered a precious metal and used the Troy system. Today nickel is considered a base metal and uses the Avoirdupois system.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that regardless of which method of weights is being used, the one measurement that is equal in both systems is the grain, abbreviated gr. (i.e. 1 troy grain = 1 avdp. grain) When looking at the daily spot prices of metals, you will find the precious metals quoted in troy ounces and the base metals per avdp. pound. So what you need to know is how many grains make up each of those units.

For troy weights, 1 pound (lb) = 12 ounces (oz) = 240 pennyweight (dwt) = 5760 grains (gr)

For avdp weights, 1 pound (lb) = 16 ounces (oz) = 256 drams (dr) = 7000 grains (gr)

So, now lets go through an example using a $1 Morgan which is listed in the 2007 Redbook as 412.5 grains, .900 silver, and .100 copper (copper being added to increase the hardness of the coin). Basically, this coin is 90% silver and 10% copper. Using these proportions on the grains, the coin is 371.25 grains of silver and 41.25 grains of copper. Using the troy weight system on the silver, this is equal to 0.773 oz. of pure silver. Using the avdp weight system on the copper, this is equal to 0.006 lb. of copper. Using spot prices from 9/8/2006 of $12.16 per oz. of silver and $3.56 per lb. of copper, the metal values of the morgan silver dollar would come to $9.40 of silver and $0.02 of copper in each mint state coin.

So how about a $20 double eagle? Again using the 9/8/2006 spot prices where gold is $609.60 per troy oz., the 2007 Redbook lists the double eagle as 516 grains, .900 gold, and .100 copper. But this is actually inaccurate because legislation allowed for up to 5% of the alloy to be silver, not just copper. So for this example, I will use .900 gold, .050 silver, and .050 copper.

After doing the appropriate conversions, the gold content comes to 0.9675 troy oz. of gold or $589.79 of gold. The silver content comes to 0.05375 troy oz. of silver or $0.65 of silver. The copper content comes to 0.0037 pounds or about $0.01 of copper.

Here are the equations I used for the $20 double eagle:
Gold equation: (516 x 0.9) / (5760/12) = 0.9675 troy oz.
Silver equation: (516 x 0.05) / (5760/12) = 0.05375 troy oz.
Copper equation: (516 x 0.05) / 7000 = .0037 lb

Now, just because you know how to calculate the value of the metals in your coins, don’t go running out to sell your 90% silver and expect to get these values. Selling these for melt is a whole different story. One dealer that I know of that buys 90% silver for melting told me that they basically just add up the face value of all the coins, and then multiply it by .715 which, in general, covers the wear on coins along with the dealer’s cut of the proceeds. When they sell it to the refiner, they actually get anywhere from 95% to 98% of the spot price depending on the quantity of the metal. But don’t think you can skip the middle man and go straight to the refiner. The minimums required to sell directly to them are pretty high.

So, how much is the gold and silver worth in that World Trade Center Commemorative “clad in 24 KT gold and .999 Pure Silver” being marketed by National Collector’s Mint for $29.95? Since both the gold and silver are basically pure with no alloy added, all we need is the weight of each metal. According to their website, both are 15 milligrams (mg) each of gold and silver. Oops, this needs a new conversion I didn’t cover above. How many mg per troy oz? Well, 1 mg is equal to approximately 0.0154 grains. So, multiply 0.0154 x 15 = 0.231 grains (yes, that’s less than ¼ of a single grain each of silver and gold!). Divide the grains by 480 (grains per troy ounce) = 0.00048 troy oz. each of silver and gold!!! That means there is 29 cents worth of gold and approximately ½ cent of silver!!! So, each medallion has less than 30 cents worth of precious metals in it!!! This is not a joke, do the math!!! The 15 mg of gold and silver came from their website, I did not make it up!!!


Someone who read my original post sent me a real cool way to simplify weight conversions without having to do all the math. If you recall my WTC medallion example, it is clad in 15mg of 24k gold and 15mg of .999 fine silver. Since both metals are basically pure, all I had to do to calculate the weight of each metal was go to Google and type the following into the search box:

15 mg in troy oz

and out came the answer:

15 milligrams = 0.000482261199 troy oz

Multiply that by the price of gold and silver, add the two results together and guess what? It's still only about 30 cents worth of precious metal in the WTC thing!

Just keep in mind that if you do use this Google calculator, you still have to multiply any answer by the finess of the metal whose value you are calculating.

So consider my original post as an academic exercise in how to do the calculations yourself. I plan to use the Google calculator going forward.

Popular state quarter program ends with Hawaii

With a big aloha to Hawaii, a new generation of coin collectors are shutting their books on the U.S. Mint's popular 10-year state quarter program full of fond family memories and a fun dose of history.

While not terribly rare, considering about 34 billion were produced, the commemorative quarters have captured the frenzied fancy of kids and their parents as they've drawn extended family, tip-collecting waitresses and friendly bank tellers into the hunt.

Coveted by about 147 million collectors in the U.S., the coins have also been lucrative for the Mint, bringing in $3.5 billion in pure profit by the end of last year, excluding special-issue sets.

The Mint knew the program would be successful, said spokesman Michael White, "but it turned out to be even more popular than expected. This is the most popular coin program in history."

The program ends this month with Hawaii as the last state honored, having fulfilled one of the government's goals — to . . .

Full story at: Link

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Making money whole again - When dollars get damaged, all is not lost

There's no magic cure for money lost in the stock market, but if the cash you buried in the backyard or stashed under your mattress gets damaged, there's help at hand.

The U.S. Treasury Department's Bureau of Engraving and Printing operates a Mutilated Currency Division where workers meticulously piece together millions of dollars of U.S. banknotes that are partially destroyed in floods, fires or other calamities.

"Any currency that is mutilated, it's been damaged in some way, it's been burned, buried, we've got specialists on board who undergo a six-year training period" to put the money back together, said Len Olijar, chief financial officer at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

The department receives between $50 million and $70 million worth of mutilated money every year. Of that, technicians are able to reconstruct and redeem more than $30 million.

It's usually money people have put away for safekeeping. Often, it's been sitting untouched for years. That's part of the problem: People stash their cash in all the wrong ways.

Olijar and his technicians have seen . . .

Full story at: Link

Roman Age coins hoard declared a 'treasure trove'

One of the largest deposits of Roman coins ever found in Wales, UK, which consists of nearly 6,000 copper alloy coins, has been declared a treasure trove.

According to a report by BBC, the Roman coins hoard was found buried in two pots in a field at Sully, Vale of Glamorgan, by a local metal detector enthusiast in April.

Two separate hoards were found by the metal detectorist on successive days, one involving 2,366 coins and the other 3,547 coins, 3m away.

The 1,700-year-old coins dated from the reigns of numerous emperors, notably Constantine I (the Great, AD 307-37), during whose time Christianity was first recognised as a state religion.

Derek Eveleigh, from Penarth, who came across the hoards in a field of sheep, has kept his find a secret until the outcome of an inquest into the findings.

An independent committee will now value the coins.

Edward Besly, the National Museum Wales' coin specialist, has called the discovery . . .

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Peace Dollar Last but Not Least

In the United States, true silver dollars, large coins with 90 percent silver content, ceased being manufactured with the Peace dollars of 1935. To be sure, there have been short-lived series of dollar coins since that time. Some of the dollars have been large (Eisenhower dollars), some have even had a modicum of silver content (Eisenhower dollars again), but the last Peace dollar effectively ended more than a century of the large silver coins we think of as silver dollars.

Of all the "real" silver dollars, the most easily collectible series, hands down, is the Peace dollar series. For one thing, there are only 24 different date-mintmark combinations for a basic set. In addition, there's only one date, the 1928, with a relatively low mintage (360,649). This means that the cost of a complete set, in less than outstanding condition, should not be prohibitive for most collectors.

Before we take a date-by-date look at Peace dollars, let's examine their background. I think you'll find the circumstances that led to the series unusual, to say the least.

Writing in Q. David Bowers' Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia, R. W. Julian informs us that . . .

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