What intrigues me the most about the coins in my collection is their place in history and the circumstances of their issue. I enjoy doing the research -- light research, that is, using online resources -- and I'm often surprised by the details that I uncover. Consider one of the most beautiful South American coins, the "sun face" issues of the Provincias Unidas del Río de la Plata, that we now associate with Argentina. If not for the shifting fortunes of war during the struggle for independence from Spanish rule, these might not have been minted.
In the early 19th Century, the Spanish Empire was in turmoil. Napoleon Bonaparte forced the abdication of the Spanish King in 1809 and in Buenos Aries, the capital city of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, a junta took control after the May Revolution of 1810. Many years of warfare between separatist and loyalist armies ensued, especially across the province of Alto Perú, the region that would eventually become Bolivia. Victories in September of 1812 and February 1813 left the independence forces in control of the mint at Potosí. Seizing their opportunity, the general assembly in Buenos Aires authorized the minting of their first national coinage and provided the design characteristics in April of 1813. Soon after, gold one, two and eight escudos and silver 1/2, one, two, four and 8 reales were being minted at Potosí featuring the sun face on the obverse and a variation of the newly created coat of arms on the reverse.
I find it interesting that the activities of the mint during these transitions seems to have continued with a few obvious changes. The mint was the property of the crown so those with official positions may have retreated with the royalist army. The coins of the Provincias Unidas featured the initial "J" of assayer Jose Antonio de Sierra and not those of the royal assayers, Pedro Martin de Albizu and Juan Palomo y Sierra ("PJ"). The mines, however, were private ventures and, although the mintage is unknown, the quantity of coins that were produced suggest that ore extraction, smelting and refining continued as well. Since the mint's function was converting precious metal into currency, it provided a necessary service for the mining industry to fund their operations. Striking of the Provincias Unidas issues continued until November 1813 when military defeats caused a withdrawal from the area. The retreating general ordered the destruction of the mint but the locals disconnected the fuses from the explosives. The averted disaster was a boon for both sides as the mint was retaken and another issue of Provincias Unidas coins were produced between April and November of 1815 with the same design and the initial "F" of assayer Francisco Jose de Matos. The mint reverted back to royalist control and continued to strike Spanish coins until Bolivia secured its independence in 1825.
Had the mint at Potosí not become available when it did, I wonder what the early coinage of the Provincias Unidas del Río de la Plata would have looked like. Regular issues would not start until 1824 from the mint at La Rioja and with many, many changes in leadership since early 1813 it's unlikely that the same decision makers were in power. Fortunately, we can enjoy the sun face design, known as the Sol de Mayo from the story that the sun shone forth from the clouds at the declaration of the new, independent government in May of 1810. The design is similar to the heraldic device called the 'sun in splendor', notable for having alternating straight and wavy rays. Other coins of South and Central America are noted for their sun face theme.
This is a remarkable specimen with an unbroken chain-of-ownership (President Johnson-to-Congressman Stephens-to-DrDarryl). As you can see the number of "-to-" is two ! (I have two degrees of separation from President Johnson with this piece).
Not to worry, I made sure that the estate of Congressman Stephens provided me with a letter of provenance with each of the owners identified (including me as the current owner).
Note the date on the letter (first date of issue Kennedy half dollar) and the text (among the first). Not to mention President Johnson's signature on a White House letter!
Not shown is the letter of provenance and White House envelope.
I was able to get a nice group of additions to my sets in May.
Great Collections offered many top end coins from Centurion Collection. Although some bids were quite high I was ale to get a few.
I did miss out on getting a Georgia-P quarter. There were 3 of them i MS68 slabs and I missed all 3 of them. Very pleased with the state
quarters I did win last month which put my top pop totals to 55 for that set.
Well till next time ----- Happy Collecting!!!
...the War of 1812 (between the US and Great Britain) began. Here is what US currency looked like that year: a Classic Head Cent, a Capped Bust Half Dollar (toning) and a Capped Bust Half Eagle (gold). Explore these series at http://NGCcoin.com/coin-explorer .
Another update...I just posted my latest Owner's Comments. This time, the coin is an ancient Roman provincial bronze featuring the obverse bust of Empress Cornelia Supera, wife of Emperor Aemilian, who reigned only a few short months. As such, Cornelia's coins, including this one, are all rare, and represent the only source of information about her.
The reverse features the goddess Cybele, and Anatolian goddess whose cult was adopted by Rome as a safeguard during the second Punic War. Cybele is perhaps one of mankind's earliest deities, and she represented the Mother Goddess, associated with nature, all aspects of flora and fauna, and she was considering mankind's teacher and guardian. Since there is not much known about Cornelia, I took the opportunity to also reflect on Cybele.
Here is a link to the coin...
And here is a link to the Roman Empire Collection...
The last time the U.S. hosted the @FIFAWorldCup, it was celebrated with modern commemorative coins, including this 1994-W World Cup $5 Proof. Explore this coin in NGC Coin Explorer: https://bit.ly/2HOlppI
One of the things that endears me to coin collecting is allegorical art. I have several sets in my collection based on allegories alone. I have always maintained that coins are a powerful medium to communicate national ideals through allegorical images.
For me a lot of the fun in collecting coins is deciphering the allegories. In researching the allegories, I am amazed by how much I have learned about world history through the stories told on coins! For instance I had not known that the name "Borealia" had been considered for Canada's name at it's confederation in 1867 before I acquired the latest coin for my allegorical "Inspirational Ladies" set. The following is a description of my coin purchased from Tallisman Coins and comes from their website:
Building on the classical concept of a female national personification, Canadian artist Rebecca Yanovskaya offers a new allegory for a modern Canada. Framed by waves and maple leaves that unite land and sea, Borealia is the very picture of strength and confidence as she stands against the majestic backdrop of Canada's tallest peak, Mount Logan, which represents the soaring spirit of innovation.
Like the British figurehead Britannia, Borealia is clad in traditional robes, but with unique armor that hints at Canada's journey since the colonial era. Every engraved element in this intricate design carries deeper symbolic meaning, including those that allude to the weight of history: the fur cape that represents Canada's pre-Confederation past; the feather that pays tribute to Indigenous Peoples; and the poppies of remembrance woven into her hair. In one hand, Borealia holds the shield of the Arms of Canada; in the other, a dove of peace, a nod to Canada's historic role as peacekeepers, but also to Canadians' desire for peace.
Facing forward towards the future, Borealia is strong, optimistic and steadfast, like the people she represents, whose ideals and spirit continue to shape and redefine the nation's global future. With one foot reverentially set in the past, her name is an ode to one of the proposed names of Canada leading up to Confederation: Borealia.
Traditional engraving creates a classical portrait of the modern Miss Canada, a highly symbolic and meaningful allegory or personification of the goddess Miss Canada, struck in one full troy ounce of 99.99% pure silver, and layered in precious 24-karat gold!
She is youthful yet wise, peaceful yet powerful. She is Borealia, (from "borealis," the Latin word for "northern") the goddess Miss Canada, who radiates strength and confidence on this fully gold-plated, 99.99% pure silver proof. This symbolic personification is a superb rendering of a classic allegorical figure who represents the collective spirit of Canadians in today's world: hopeful and steady in resolve and perseverance, rising to meet the challenges that lie ahead.
The latest update on my NGC Ancients Custom Set entitled "The Roman Empire" is that I recently posted Owner's Comments for my denarius featuring Empress Orbiana, wife of Emperor Severus Alexander.
This coin is rare, with 14 examples mentioned in a seminal reference. This specimen is in excellent state of preservation, NGC Ancients graded it as MS, Strike = 5/5, Surface = 3/5.
I had a bit of difficulty sorting through the information regarding Orbiana, since there is little to go on, and much of the information is unreliable. Interestingly, much of what we know for certain about Orbiana is derived from her coinage, a reminder of the importance of ancient coins on our understanding of history. I did my best to provide some information about what we know, for instance based on coinage, as well as speculations based on other, i.e., literary, artifacts alluding to Orbiana (and her father, who may have served as Alexander's Caesar).
Here is a link to the coin...
And here is a link to the collection...
The latest update on the "Roman Empire" collection is that I finished and uploaded my Owner's Comments for my ancient bronze representing Marciana, sister of Emperor Trajan.
This particular coin features Pelops on the reverse, at least that is what the inscription and many sources lead me to believe, even if NGC provides the attribution with a question mark (admittedly, Pelops is usually depicted on a chariot, not on horseback).
In any case, the mythology surrounding Pelops is an interesting one, and provides a fable for the origin of the Olympic Games. Therefore, I took the opportunity to discuss the tale of Pelops, the Olympics in ancient times, and how the event's prestige increased during Rome's Golden Age. Within this backdrop, I also discuss what we know about Marciana, who by all accounts was a noblewoman of great virtue who enjoyed a close relationship with not only her brother, but also her sister-in-law, the Empress Plotina. Marciana was the first sister of an Emperor to be named Augusta, and the first to be deified. She also was the first Roman woman (along with her daughter Matidia) to have her own dedicated temple complex in Rome.
If you are interested in more details, please see my full Owner's Comments here...
And here is a link to the Roman Empire collection...
Journals from 2016
When was this coin minted?
Transitions within Transitions
Top Executive Accepts Kickback
Custom Set Collage
When the Colony becomes the Ruler
A Sky Blue '60
Reflection on a Collection
Nephew's First Coin
The Silver Dollars of '60
Custom Sets Question
Journals from 2015
A Tale of Two Cities
England without a monarch!
A rose by any other name...
My Three Suns
US Silver Dollar Mint Type Set
Light and Shadow
Old Map -- New Presentation
Two goals in one!
Journals from 2014
The Fix for Coins Misaligned in their Holders
Hey, this guy has a face!
The Ugly Truth About 8 Reales
Beautiful Thaler from Baltimore
Losing and Rebuilding a World Class Collection
Surprise Gold Acquisition
Started My Fencing Coin Custom Set
My First US Silver Dollar!
Journals from 2013
The 8 Reales Pinnacle
When does bidding really close at a live auction?
Real de a Ocho de Dos Mundos
Spanish Eight Reales countermarked as English Dollars
Early Milled Eight Reales of New Spain
This REALLY Bugs Me!
The Raw Coin Submission Blues
Just passed 100K Registry Points!!!
The latest update to the my NGC Ancients Custom Set entitled "The Roman Empire" is that I finished and posted my Owner's Comments for my ancient bronze featuring the notorious Emperor Caligula.
While I don't want to go into the entirety of my comments, I will provide here an intriguing except...
In addition to scandalous accounts still sensationalized in modern media, Caligula left behind a rich and interesting coinage. This bronze is of particular interest, contemporaneous with Caligula’s metamorphosis into a monster, even if the extent of monstrosity is subject to historical interpretation.
Here is a link to the coin...
And here is a link to the collection...
When I first started collecting the $20 Canadian silver coins, I was told NGC would not grade the "snowflake" issues. They contain crystals that may come loose and therefore are not gradable. My how times have changed. Now the "catch phrase seems to be "colored outside the mint" I am out good deal of time and money for this excuse to grade a coin that is submitted with a COA, and charged for no grading, or encapsulation. Limited numbers are being plated or colorized, and many more to come. Our US coins aren't even struck in the mint they claim to be struck in. If NGC is afraid the enamel will fall off, why are we signing a release when submitted?
I just had 2 more become "ungradable" and have more (8), of the same to be graded. There needs to be a list of coins that NGC will not grade. Now I have 2 collections that are missing completion. At close to $100.00 per coin and $30 each to not grade them, it is ludicrous.
There will be many more (collectors) trying to make sets with high grades, but now we have been halted by "policy." There needs to be a current list, or a change in the grading procedure. SmartMint is coming fast and then we will see. No one even knows where, or what entity even strike them anymore. Why should NGC care about the colorization on so few specimens?
if they are not colorized at "the" mint. Where are they done? Why do B.H. Mayer and CIT exchange coins? I also have a few other colorized coins that came from "the" mint.
Collectors need a list before we engage in the purchase of coins that are "worthless."
Today my invoice says "Scheduled for grading", I click on the invoice number and it has a format of the coins I sent. Look below, here is the problem, spotted an error on Line 11. They call it a 2A, should be a 4A. Thats like calling a morgan silver dollar a walking liberty half. Big difference in size and value! Called up NGC customer service and spoke to Kevin who was helpful and gave me his email and told me to write what the invoice # is and the problem and he would let the grading side know. Just sent it now, hope it gets corrected! I'm even more pumped and like a kid waiting for a toy store to open up now that its scheduled for grading.........
Anyone (first time submitter or have submitted before) obsessively check their submission tracking info daily? I find myself daily looking at submission tracking to see what the status is. Mine recently got tracked as received and I find myself checking daily to see the progress! Can't wait to see it go to Schedule for Grading and so on.
In February of 1797, ongoing war and the threat of invasion from the French Republic triggered a run on the Bank of England. To meet the demand for silver coinage, in March, the Bank was authorized to release foreign currency from its silver reserves, almost entirely Spanish 8 reales. These emergency issues were countermarked at the Royal Mint with a small oval stamp with the bust of King George III -- a stamp that had been in use for hallmarking silver plate. One of my earliest journal posts featured an example of this type. The dollars had a fixed value of 4 shillings and 9 pence but as the price of silver dropped counterfeiters began passing 8 reales with false stamps and eventually forced the recall of these issues in the Fall of 1797. In 1803, renewed war once again affected silver circulation and countermarked 8 reales were issued in January of 1804 using an octagonal stamp of the king's head. False stamps quickly followed and forced the recall of the issues by June of 1804.
Clearly a method that would be hard to counterfeit was needed. Fortunately, for the Bank of England, the Soho Foundry of Matthew Boulton and James Watt had been established with Boulton's newly invented steam powered screw press. In May of 1804 the foundry was commissioned to use a previously designed dollar pattern to fully overstrike the 8 reales. These issues were much harder to counterfeit and proved to be so successful that they were issued from 1804 to 1811, although all show the 1804 date, and were not removed from circulation until 1816.
The power of the steam driven press typically obliterated the host coin's details, but occasionally you will see one that still shows some underlying details and that's what attracted me to my example. This one, a new purchase from Heritage Auctions, is a raw example so I took the opportunity to examine it in detail. Curiously, a section of the host coin is thinner -- where CAROLUS is visible under George's bust and ET IND shows on the reverse. I can make out a date of 180? but I can't see a mintmark. Of interest is the edge which still shows much of the alternating rectangle and circle design albeit oddly curving from top to bottom.
Now the funny part. This coin only weights 25.67 grams and compared to a full weight 8 reales at 27.0674 grams, even with loss to circulation, it seemed too low. That plus the uneven thickness and the wandering edge design made me suspicious. So I measured the thickness (averaged over four spots) and diameter and calculated its volume. After converting the volume from cubic mm to cubic cm you can divide the weight by volume to get the specific gravity. A 90% silver/10% copper coin has a specific gravity of 10.3 but mine is 9.5 which means there could only be about 40% silver content. Assuming that the overstrike is genuine (I have to trust Heritage on that) this appears to be a contemporary counterfeit 8 reales host coin ("contemporary" meaning that it circulated at the same time as genuine issues) . Now, I'm not at all disappointed to discover this -- I think it's a much more interesting coin this way. 8 reales have been heavily counterfeited over time and the problem remains between distinguishing contemporary ones, later ones made for trade with China and modern forgeries. With the overstrike occurring in the 1804-1811 time-frame, this one falls into the contemporary counterfeit category (a collectable category on its own).
edits for typos and clarity.
I just received my coins from my latest round of NGS ancient grading.
These were received at NGC on March 5th, so the turnaround was slower than usual, I guess NGC is pretty busy?
In any case, here are the results...
Cornelia Supera bronze graded VF, Strike 5/5, Surface 3/5
This one came out as I expected, and I am looking forward to writing my comments on this one, especially how the Romans worshipped Cybele.
Marciana bronze graded XF, Strike 5/5, Surface 3/5
Pretty much what I expected...I was pleased with the grade of XF, but I thought I might earn a better surface grade.
Aelia Eudocia tremissis graded AU, Strike 4/5, Surface 3/5
I was very pleased with the grade on this one. I was a bit surprised at the comment of "ex jewelry" since the auction site that I obtained this from didn't mention anything. I have examined the coin myself, and it is not obviously to me how NGC came to that conclusion? Not that I doubt NGC's analysis, but am curious how they determined this?
Orbiana denarius graded MS, Strike 5/5, Surface 3/5
I was delighted to receive an MS, but I thought the surface would grade higher.
Gordian II, ancient counterfeit denarius.
This one came back as not eligible for grading.
I was disappointed to see that, especially since NGC ancients has previously graded ancient counterfeits. Although this is admittedly an ugly-looking coin, it has an extremely fascinating history, so I am inclined to keep it in the collection. I am not sure what the "official rule" might be for inclusion of such coins in an NGC custom set, but, at least for now, I am keeping the coin in the collection, at least until I found a decent substitute. This is one of about a dozen ancient coins I have submitted that NGC has deemed ineligible for grading...I really would like to add these coins to my collection since they would add a lot of interest in the context of a custom ancient set...so I wonder if there is any mechanism to "petition" NGC or something like that to have more ancient coin types eligible for grading?
Vetranio centenionalis graded MS, Strike 5/5, Surface 4/5.
I was happy to see this grade, although I thought I had a shot at Ch MS and/or a star designation since this coin has a lot of eye appeal.
Johannes bronze, graded F, Strike 4/5, Surface 3/5.
What I expected...even though F is a "bad" grade, Johannes' coinage is quite rare, and particularly difficult to obtain in any medium to high grade.
Gepids coinage was deemed not eligible for grading. Again, I would dearly love to include in my collection since it would add a lot of interest. Again, I have the same comment as above - I wonder if there is any mechanism to "petition" NGC or something like that to have more ancient coin types eligible for grading?
That is it for this round, all the coins are added to my Roman Empire NGC ancient Custom Set, here is the link...
I will keep updating as I get more coins included and Owner's Comments added, etc.
I have sent a few colored silver Ghana coins to be graded, with the COA, yet they cannot be graded according to NGC policy.
See what you think?
Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, we are not able to grade coins that have been colored or altered in any way after being produced from the mint per our grading policy. The alterations may have an effect on the metal and therefore we cannot guarantee the grade and condition of the coin. Thank you
I rest my case.
When you submit coins for grading, it asks MS or PF. There is no PL, RP, SP SRP space.. If we are to go by the old standards, a PL coin is an MS base. An SP coin seems to be both, MS and PF. Now we have reverse proof(RP), and Special reverse Proof (SRP?) Colorized, antiqued, plated, and a host of types that are emerging in almost every Country, and will be here soon.
I started a set to find out that only 1 coin, out of the 10-15 that I sent to be graded, will have a slot in any collection. I see the Palladium coin has an MS PL variety.....hmmmm?
My Canadian Anniversary proofs will be a nightmare. They already are too late for ER pedigree. So much for Express mail and special handling.
I hope to see a few sets either combined, or actual revised to reflect the actual coins in the set. So far, I am thoroughly confused.
First submission despite having been collecting coins/been around coins for such a long time and being a member here and across the street for over a decade!
I first started collecting US coins but now consider myself a darksider (collecting world coins, specifically thailand). I have a custom set on the registry as it includes both pcgs and ngc coins. A majority of older thai coins are raw and many are in poor condition/damaged. Its been a challenge getting slabbed coins as their aren't too many, but its been fun looking and acquiring slabbed coins for my collection. I have also been getting raw coins with the intention of submitting them..........well I pulled the trigger and signed up as a member and then filled out the forms and sent in 19 coins that I hope will grade and be added to my custom registry!! Waiting is the hard part now!!