Thursday, April 19, 2007

Coin Dominoes

This is a video I had to share. It's been in multiple blogs already, but every time I watch it, it still amazes me that someone took the time to set up 10,000 coins on their edge. Personally, I don't have the patience to do something like this, but it's very cool to watch.



Okay, now for some comedy. This is another coin dominoes video I came across and after the second flick of the finger, I just couldn't stop laughing. You'll see what I mean when you watch it.

Monday, April 16, 2007

I was wrong on NGC Presidential Dollar "First Day of Mintage" designation - I like it!

Let me just say that I like it! Numismatic Guaranty Corporation's new semi-rigid sleeve that allows the coins in the United States Mint Official American Presidency $1 Coin Covers to be graded and certified while allowing the actual U.S. Mint cover to remain intact is great.

When NGC's first press release (click here) mentioned that they would be certifying coins with the First Day of Mintage designation, it was unclear that the cover would remain intact. I pictured the normal holders with the coins removed from the Mint's First Day Covers and simply a designation on the holder stating First Day of Mintage. As a collector of USPS First Day Covers, that just didn't make any sense to me and I wrote a post saying so, but I was wrong.

NGC's latest press release (click here) shows how their new certification option will work. The entire cover will be sealed in a semi-rigid sleeve allowing full view of the original cover. Each cover has two coins (P and D mints) and if both coins grade the same, they will only show a single grade on the holder. If the two coins grade differently, then each coin will have its own grade designated on the holder. What excites me about this is that this type of holder could be used to grade USPS First Day Covers. I haven't checked recently so maybe someone is already doing it, but if not, I'm sure it is definitely only a matter of time before someone does.

So let me just say again. I was wrong about NGC's new First Day of Mintage certification when I thought the coins were going to be put into traditional holders. I think the way NGC is going to be certifying the covers is a great way to do it and . . . I like it!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

In the Spotlight: The Arlington Collection 1854-S $20 Liberty Head Gold Double Eagle

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Click here to view The Arlington Collection of Type 1 Double Eagles
Click here to view The Arlington Collection of Shipwreck Gold

CERTIFICATION: NGC AU58

Description
This 1854-S double eagle is the only one graded AU58, with none finer, recovered from the SS Republic, making it the finest known from the shipwreck for this date and mint. A total of only five 1854-S coins were recovered from the shipwreck. Each of the other dates of San Francisco double eagles from the shipwreck had totals of over 50 coins each with the exception of the 1861-S Paquet.(The 1866-S No Motto was minted after the ship sank)

1854 was the first year double eagles were produced in San Francisco which makes it quite popular with collectors. With the opening of the San Francisco mint, gold that would previously have been shipped to the New Orleans mint now stayed closer to home. As a result, mintages of double eagles at the New Orleans mint plummeted in 1854, 1855, and 1856 thus creating the scenarios that would lead to these coins being some of the truly great rarities among U.S. coins. In fact, mintages at the New Orleans mint never again recovered to the levels that they had been at prior to 1854.

The 1854-S double eagle is the rarest San Francisco type 1 double eagle after the more famous rarities of the 1861-S Paquet and 1866-S No Motto. If instructions from Philadelphia had reached San Francisco in time, neither of those two rarities would have been released into circulation, making the 1854-S the rarist. But if that had happened, then type 1 double eagles would not be as interesting to collect.

In addition to the 5 examples recovered from the SS Republic shipwreck, 25 examples were reportedly found in the SS Central America shipwreck of which four graded mint state.

Approximately 100 double eagles were said to be recovered from the shipwreck of the SS Yankee Blade in 1977. The ship sank in the Pacific in October 1854 while on a run from San Francisco to Panama. The ship was apparently racing another steamship that was making the same run. The irony is that many of the passengers that were rescued were picked up by the SS Brother Jonathan, which itself sank in 1865 with a large hoard of $20 gold double eagles.

Most of the double eagles recovered from the SS Yankee Blade are said to have saltwater etching, but occasionally some are apparently nice enough to get graded and certified by the third party grading services. Since these coins were quietly released into the collecting community back around 1977, they would have lost their pedigree and so would not have the SS Yankee Blade designation on their holders.

The 1854-S is one of those rare examples where the coin tends to be more common in higher grades than its overall rarity would indicate. This is probably due to the SS Yankee Blade coins that have been certified, which tend to be in higher grades.

POPULATION
SS Republic Population: 1/0 finer (Finest Known)
NGC Population: 15/48 finer
PCGS Population: 0/55 finer

RARITY
Overall Rarity: Approx. 350-450
AU and MS Rarity: Approx. 175-225

RANK
Overall Rank: 16 of 44 coins
AU and MS Rank: 23 of 44 coins

MINTAGE
Mintage: 141,468
Mintage Rank *: 15 of 42 coins

* 42 coins due to 1853 and 1854 varieties being combined

Recommended Reading:
100 Greatest U.S. Coins

Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins: 1795 - 1933, Circulating, Proof, Commemorative, and Pattern Issues

A guide Book of Double Eagle Gold Coins: A Complete History and Price Guide

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

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?

Umm, I have a little secret to tell you. . . . The U.S. Mint press release above was actually released in February 2000. It is announcing the overwhelming success of the new Sacagawea dollar. You know, that dollar coin we all use now in place of the dollar bill.

So just how successful was the Sacagawea . . . really?

Well just by emptying our pockets and looking at our change tells you how well it did at replacing the dollar bill. I have one in my pocket that I got in change from a vending machine. But it's been in my pocket for years. It's not doing much circulating. Recently it was joined by a Washington dollar that I also got from a vending machine.

But was the Sacagawea program really a success?

There was over $1.2 billion worth of dollars minted in 2000 versus a mere $40 million in 1999. With a cost of around 12 cents per coin to mint, that translated to an increase in the Mint's gross profit for the dollar coin from about $35,200,000 to a gross profit of around $1,056,000,000 - an increase of 3000%.

A billion dollar increase in your profit; I'd say that was a success. But within just a couple of years, annual dollar production dropped to about $7 million and has headed downwards ever since.

So what about the new Presidential dollars?

I believe that there were less than $5 million of Sacagawea dollars minted in 2006. If all four Presidential dollars - Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison - are minted in quantities of $300 million dollars each as currently planned, that would be $1.2 billion dollars, just shy of the Sacagawea total in 2000. But wait . . . with the law stating that at least one-third of the total dollar production must be the Sacagawea dollar each year, that's another $600 million dollars for a 2007 total of $1.8 billion dollars - an increase of 36,000% over 2006!

Now I'm sure the cost of producing the dollar is more than the 12 cents of seven years ago, but it's also not close to being a money loser like the cent or nickel. The fact that they will be issuing four new Presidential coins a year and with all the Washington error coins generating interest, they should be able to keep the total mintage figures in the years ahead much higher than the dwindling Sacagawea number of the past few years.

So I would say from Congress's point of view, it sure seems to be a success. If somehow the public actually did accept the dollar coin over the dollar bill, then that would keep the mintage totals even higher each year and the profit that much better. That would also require a more controversial decision by Congress to do away with the dollar bill, which in itself, would be a savings. But Congress usually takes the easy way out, so I don't see that happening anytime soon.

So if they haven't said it already about the Presidential dollars, I'm sure we will hear this soon:

"Especially gratifying, 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."