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About this journal

My rekindled interest in collecting started in 2009 with the impulse purchase of a 1783 shipwreck coin.  I did not imagine that collectible grade 8 reales coins were available until I started browsing Ebay to see whether I got a good deal on my first one.  After I realized what a poor deal I made, I set out to build a collection of quality 8 reales of the 1772-1791 design featuring the bust of Charles III.  I've added a modest collection of columnarios, too.

In 2013, I started a themed collection of coins depicting the sport of fencing, my other hobby/activity.

My current focus is on a collection of world silver crowns of the 16th to 18th centuries.  So far I have examples from the Commonwealth and England, France, Holy Roman Empire states and free cities, Swiss cantons, Dutch provinces, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Ragusa, Italian states, the Ottoman Empire, Malta, the United States of America and, of course, Spain and Spanish colonies.

Entries in this journal

(Mint) Life during Wartime -- Part II

I have posted about emergency issues but what kind of calamity could compare to your city besieged?  Siege money are the ultimate emergency issues -- defending soldiers required pay and internal commerce needed to be maintained.  Many examples come from the period of the Eighty Years War, also known as the Dutch War of Independence that occurred from 1568–1648 or from the English Civil Wars in 1642-1651.    When regular coinage became scarce jewelry, silverware and religious vessels were converted into coinage.  Issued in an expedient fashion, they were often roughly shaped, typically squares or diamonds, with a uniface design. When precious metal ran out, other alloys or even paper could be issued, all in the hope that the emergency money would be redeemed after a successful defense.  The opposite was the worse case scenario where one might lose everything. My example is a silver thaler klippe issued by the besieged city of Münster in 1660 and fits nicely into my Silver Dollars of '60 custom set.  At 34mm x 34mm square and weight close to 28g it may not be silver dollar shaped but certainly has the heft of one.  The uniface design shows the city of Münster's coat of arms with the legend MONAST : WESTPH : OBSESSVM, for Münster Westphalia Beseiged.  It differs from typical siege currency in that it was not from wartime but from an insurrection that began in July of 1660.  The catalog notes from the CNG auction of the Jonathan K. Kern Collection of Siege Coinage provides the following background information: :

jgenn

jgenn

08/29/2018

Last Reply:
09/02/2018

(Mint) Life during Wartime -- Part I

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.   ~jack

jgenn

jgenn

06/21/2018

Last Reply:
06/25/2018

 

Collecting my older journals

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 Lights-Camera-Action The Silver Dollars of '60 Second Chances 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? Controversial Deaccession Real de a Ocho de Dos Mundos Pandamonium strikes! First Gold Amazing 8s 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!!!  

jgenn

jgenn

05/19/2018

Last Reply:
08/19/2018

A Curious 1804 Bank of England Dollar

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). ~jack
  edits for typos and clarity.

jgenn

jgenn

04/29/2018

Last Reply:
05/10/2018

1560 Mansfeld thaler, What's so Special?

I won this thaler recently and immediately received a "buy from owner" offer through Heritage for a decent increase over my winning bid. This one is destined for my Silver Dollars of '60 set so I didn't respond to the offer but I did post a trade offer in several forums that I frequent, hoping to catch the eye of the individual that really wants this coin. I haven't received a response from the trade offers but I did get a second, higher offer through Heritage after the first one expired. So what's so special about this thaler? I know why it's special to me so I was willing to bid higher than I expected.  But obviously someone else really wanted it (and didn't put in a high enough proxy bid).  I found only two other auction records for coins closely matching this one on acsearch although there were quite a few that were similar. Most of my references don't go back to the 16th Century, but I dug out my copy of the "Standard Price Guide to World Crowns & Talers 1484-1968 as cataloged by Dr. John S. Davenport" for further information. Given the span of years, this reference is not much more than a listing of Davenport numbers with a few notes, out-of-date prices with a small fraction having coin images (and none matching my coin). However, it does include the following introduction to Mansfeld thalers: So, no small task to figure out the correct Daveport number without a picture. In my photo, you can see the mintmark to the left of St. George's head. German auction results associate the Weinblatt (or grape leaf) mintmark with the town of Einsleben. The Davenport reference shows a section for the Vorderort Eisleben line with Davenport numbers 9481-9499 and the first rulers listed are Johann Georg I, Peter Ernst I, Christoph II, 1558-1569. These track better than any others with my coin having the legend on the obverse of -- IOHAN * GE * PETER ERNS * CHRIS -- with the (15)60 date. It looks like the possible numbers are 9481 and 9484 -- the NGC label says 9484 so maybe that's correct. The historic lands of the counts of Mansfeld, and their many lines, was in the current German state of Saxony-Anhalt and included the town and castle of Mansfeld, the neighboring town of Eisleben and eastern foothills of the Harz mountains, where the silver was mined.  Martin Luther was born in Eisleben and later moved to Mansfeld -- his father was involved in mining and smelting.  Of the rulers noted on my coin, Peter Ernst I von Mansfeld-Vorderort (1517–1604), would become the governor of the Spanish Netherlands. I'm not convinced that there's anything special about this thaler above and beyond its full strike and the colorful toning in the remnants of luster in the legends.  Perhaps in Europe ...? ~jack

jgenn

jgenn

04/16/2018

Last Reply:
05/06/2018

My Silver Riders are Galloping Away

2017 was a tipping point for me.   After many years of relentless collecting, I slowed down to the point where I only purchased four coins, and actually sold four coins.  Three of those that I let go were Silver Riders -- ducatons of the Dutch Republic. You will find these beauties cataloged under the coins of the Netherlands, or more properly The Kingdom of the Netherlands as the modern nation is a constitutional monarchy.  Back in the 16th century, seven of the Low Country provinces threw off Spanish Habsburg rule and formed a globe spanning mercantile empire.  In North America, the Dutch established the colony of New Netherland in the early 17th century and its capital at New Amsterdam in 1625 (later renamed New York in 1664 after its capture by the English). The Dutch Republic minted several crown sized silver coins with the ducaton having the higher value of 60 stuivers. Produced from 1659 to 1798, the ducaton got the nickname of "Silver Rider" from its obverse design of a mounted knight. The reverse shows the coat of arms of the republic, with the lion holding a sheaf of arrows, symbolizing the unity of the provinces, and brandishing a sword in defense of their liberty. These are impressive coins -- 43-44 mm, 32.78 g and 91.4% silver. My initial foray into collecting ducatons was filled with mistakes due to lack of study and patience. For those of you that might consider collecting a nice example, do your homework and take your time.  There are rare types but most are not particularly scarce; well struck, problem-free examples from the provinces with the largest mintages are not expensive relative to other contemporary world crowns.  However, there are plenty of examples with issues and all three of the ones that I sold recently fall into that category.  Two of them came from shipwrecks and show varying degrees of environmental damage.  The one that I was happiest to sell is the one pictured here.  This example is from the province of West Friesland and has a very nice obverse but a weakly struck reverse.  When I previewed the auction I decided to pass on it because of the poor eye appeal of the reverse.  But in the middle of the on-line bidding, I only looked at the obverse and forgot why I initially passed. Selling my coins couldn't have been easier.  They were all originally purchased in Heritage Auctions and they were sold through the Heritage "make offer to owner" program.  I set the prices as low as I could to account for the 10% (minimum $40) commission and still get close to breaking even.  Then you wait and either accept an offer at your price or negotiate if a lower one comes in.  It's all conducted through email and the Heritage website -- you mail your coin to Heritage so your anonymity is maintained.  Going forward, I feel my collection has matured and I want to sell coins that are not part of the core.  I'm not in a rush -- my plan is to try selling in a variety of venues with breaking even as my goal.  As for Silver Riders, I still have a few better examples -- notably a 1760 AU-58 from West Friesland in my Silver Dollars of '60 set and a 1791 MS-63 from Utrecht that will get a place in a new set I'm calling "My World Crown Affair". ~jack

jgenn

jgenn

01/12/2018

Last Reply:
01/14/2018

 

2016 Journal Award Icon

I don't know why it took an entire year to finally create the 2016 journal award icon, that now only appears on your profile page, but lo and behold it finally showed up to replace the broken link icon that I have gotten used to staring at.

jgenn

jgenn

01/05/2018

Last Reply:
01/07/2018

 

What is a Coin of Hawaii?

And why does Heritage Auctions put them in their own category?

Before they became a US territory in 1900, the islands of Hawaii had been unified into a kingdom that existed for nearly a century. The Kingdom of Hawaii issued their own coinage, cents in 1847 and a series of silver coins in 1883. The cents were struck by a private firm in Massachusetts and the silver dimes, quarters, halves and dollars were designed by Charles Barber and were produced at the San Francisco Mint. These issues are what I consider to be the coins of Hawaii. 

Even though Hawaii is now a US state, I think of the coins of Hawaii as "world" coins and would expect to see them in world coin auctions just as I expect to see the coins of Puerto Rico and the coins of the Philippines (although I admit the argument for including the US produced coins of the Philippines in US coin auctions is compelling). However, if you browse a Heritage world coin auction you will typically see the top categories as Ancient coins, World coins and Coins of Hawaii. I don't have an answer for why they have their own category but I imagine it has to do with bidding action.

I have gotten used to seeing the coins of Hawaii in their own Heritage category but lately I have observed a trend that I personally do not care for. Within the Coins of Hawaii category, Heritage has started to include bullion "medals", with Hawaiian themes issued by a company calling themselves the Royal Hawaiian Mint. Some of these may have a connection to a State of Hawaii government office but I believe the majority are strictly private issues. Now there's nothing wrong with collecting exonumia; I just find their placement in the same category to be potentially confusing. 

Now that you know a bit of the history of the official coins of the Kingdom of Hawaii, please understand the difference when you come across a Hawaiian themed medal, regardless how "royal" it seems.

Here's my example of the silver dollar (akahi dala).

~jack 

jgenn

jgenn

03/22/2017

Last Reply:
04/05/2017

What is a Coin of Hawaii?

And why does Heritage Auctions put them in their own category? Before they became a US territory in 1900, the islands of Hawaii had been unified into a kingdom that existed for nearly a century. The Kingdom of Hawaii issued their own coinage, cents in 1847 and a series of silver coins in 1883. The cents were struck by a private firm in Massachusetts and the silver dimes, quarters, halves and dollars were designed by Charles Barber and were produced at the San Francisco Mint. These issues are what I consider to be the coins of Hawaii.   Even though Hawaii is now a US state, I think of the coins of Hawaii as "world" coins and would expect to see them in world coin auctions just as I expect to see the coins of Puerto Rico and the coins of the Philippines (although I admit the argument for including the US produced coins of the Philippines in US coin auctions is compelling). However, if you browse a Heritage world coin auction you will typically see the top categories as Ancient coins, World coins and Coins of Hawaii. I don't have an answer for why they have their own category but I imagine it has to do with bidding action.   I have gotten used to seeing the coins of Hawaii in their own Heritage category but lately I have observed a trend that I personally do not care for. Within the Coins of Hawaii category, Heritage has started to include bullion "medals", with Hawaiian themes issued by a company calling themselves the Royal Hawaiian Mint. Some of these may have a connection to a State of Hawaii government office but I believe the majority are strictly private issues. Now there's nothing wrong with collecting exonumia; I just find their placement in the same category to be potentially confusing. Now that you know a bit of the history of the official coins of the Kingdom of Hawaii, please understand the difference when you come across a Hawaiian themed medal, regardless how "royal" it seems. Here's my example of the silver dollar (akahi dala). ~jack

jgenn

jgenn

03/22/2017

When was this coin minted?

Yes, it is a trick question. My question is about an 1808 dated 8 reales with the bust of Fernando VII and the mint mark of Potosí from the Spanish Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata (modern day Bolivia). The answer lies in the tumultuous history of the period. Here's an illuminating discussion from a recent Heritage Auction catalog description: This apparently anachronistic issue was due to the Royal Ordinance of April 10, 1808 which was sent to the mints of the Americas before Ferdinand VII surrendered his throne to Napoleon on May 9... and reads as follows: "regarding the fact that the coinage ought to be minted with my royal name and no other alteration, I have instructed that until the (new) master dies are received the coins shall be minted as until now with the bust and name of my august father and without variation of the date and that later some coins shall be minted from the new master die and my bust and name and the date of 1808 proving that I have reigned in it (in that year)". Naturally, this royal ordinance was originally intended to be only provisional and effective for 1808 since the new master dies were expected to be sent and received in that year. However, Napoleon's invasion of Spain meant that the new master dies would not be sent until 1811. In the interval 1808-1811, the various mints gave different interpretations to the aforementioned ordinance: some (as Guatemala, Potosi, Nuevo Reino and Popayan) kept minting with the previous bust of Charles IV while others (Mexico, Lima, Santiago) engraved local renditions of Ferdinand VII, thus creating the so call "imaginary bust" issues. The previous text described an 1808 8 Reales of Fernando VII minted in Guatemala, but the key details apply to the issues of the Potosí mint, as well. This establishes that Fernando VII "proper bust" issues could not have been minted in 1808 due to the absence of dies with the official portrait. Calbeto includes this note in his 8 reales compendium, "1811 - Abril 7. Con oficio de esta fecha se remiten a las Casas de la Moneda de Popayan, Potosi, Lima y Santiago, los cuños para las moneda reales de a 8 y de a 2.", which confirms the date when dies were sent from Spain to the colonial mints. The revolutionary forces of the Provincias Unidas del Río de la Plata (from Buenos Aires -- modern day Argentina) took control of much of Upper Peru, including Potosí in 1810 but were forced out of the region after losing the Battle of Huaqui in June of 1811. The earliest point when 1808 dated examples could have been issued would have been during the second half of 1811 after the royalists returned to power and after the "proper bust" master die was received from Spain. "Proper bust" issues are also known with 1809 and 1810 dates -- these were probably minted in 1811 or possibly 1812. However, no examples are thought to have been issued with 1811 and 1812 dates. Although production could have started in 1811, it would have been interrupted in 1812 due to revolutionary armies moving through the area once again. The next confirmed issues from Potosí are for the Provincias Unidas del Río de la Plata in 1813 after the mint once again fell under control of the revolutionaries but reverted to the Fernando bust, with the 1813 date, after royalists reasserted control. ~jack To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

jgenn

jgenn

12/18/2016

Transitions within Transitions

The Mexico City "klippe" issues of 1732-1734 With the royal decree of 18 September 1728, Philip V initiated a radical change in the production of silver coins in Spain's colonies. By 1732, the Mexico City mint would issue the Americas' first milled coins that would become the world's preeminent trade dollar for the next century. Such a change from the earlier hammered "cobs" did not come with out some difficulties in reaching normal quotas. The new processes instituted machinery for rolling ingots into flat sheets, stamping into rounds, upsetting and imparting an edge design and impressing the obverse and reverse design. To make up the difference in production volume, hammered cobs were continued until 1733, but in addition, a unique method was employed from 1732-1734. These are known as "klippe" issues, named after the emergency siege coinage, when production was hurried and snipping squared shapes replaced stamping of round planchets. In Spanish, these are called "recortadas" for the multiple cuts that are apparent from the edges. They are an interesting hybrid of cob and milled techniques. First, lets review how cobs were made. Dan Sedwick presents a better explanation than the oft repeated idea that these were hacked off the end of a bar of silver.* Instead, these were likely cut from a stream of molten silver alloy poured onto a flat surface. To produce cobs, the silver was cut into equal pieces and struck between trussel and anvil die. For the klippe issue, I surmise that the strip of silver was flattened in the mechanical roller to provide a uniform thickness, manually cut into equal sized pieces and then struck in a screw press. This would have skipped the stamping into rounds and edging steps, yielding a significantly faster production output. These are further distinguished by their design, employing a somewhat more ornamental variation of the cob design with the obverse showing the crowned Spanish coat of arms, mint mark and denomination to the right, assayers initials left, and monarch's legend with date circling the rim; the abbreviated coat of arms and national legend on the reverse. A type called the "klippe die on cob planchet" is also recognized for this period and presumably skipped the process of flattening the strip in the roller. Why would the engravers of Mexico City produce a new design for these klippe issues? I should note that the appearance of the milled coinage was described in the royal decree and that the obverse and reverse design was executed in Spain by Francisco Hernandez Escudero leaving little room for the local engravers to exercise their talents. Perhaps we can assume that stamping the new design on a coin that did not go through the proscribed production process would be a violation of the ordnance. With the evidence that regular cobs were still produced, my theory is that the engravers were proud of their skills and their local design and produced a short run of issues that would commemorate these using the superior production techniques of their new equipment. Here's my "klippe" from a recent Barcelona auction. ~jack   *http://www.sedwickcoins.com/articles/strap.htm To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

jgenn

jgenn

11/30/2016

Top Executive Accepts Kickback

Establishes private mint on behalf of family Sorry to tease with a headline that could have come from current affairs but there's nothing new about powerful, greedy people finding ways to enrich themselves. In this case, I'm calling out Philip II of Spain, who in 1580, negotiated such a sweetheart deal with his cousin, Ferdinand II, Archduke of Austria, that he was presented with two coin rolling mills, constructed at the Hall mint, as a present. Today, we would deem such a considerable personal gift following a transaction as a "kickback" and probably illicit. It would have made sense to install Spain's first mechanized mint in Seville, the home port of New World commerce, and thus the entry point of silver and gold from its colonies. But, the new mint was built in Segovia, the jurisdiction of close friends to the King, and was not governed by the State but became private property of the Royal Family. With such self-serving behavior in the highest places, it's no wonder that Spain went bankrupt four times during Philip's reign (1557, 1560, 1576, 1596) despite the vast precious metal resources under its control, including the enormous silver deposits at Potosi and Zacatecas. I admit to trivializing the economic forces that resulted from the rapid expansion of the money supply, but the sheer scope of the financial mismanagement cannot be understated. It's estimated that from 1500 to 1800 Mexico and Peru produced 75% - 80% of the world's silver. Dr. John Leonard Riddell, during his appointment as melter and refiner of the New Orleans Mint, stated in 1845 that "During the days of Spanish rule, near $23,000,000 in silver were annually obtained from the mines [of Mexico]". That's a lot of capital to squander. The new mint in Segovia was called the "Real Ingenio", or Royal [Coin] Mill, and was built at the location of an old paper mill on the Eresma River where the mill could deploy a waterwheel to power the roller presses. The other coin mint in Segovia, previously established by Henry IV in 1455, and now called the Old Mint, continued to produce hammered coins for another century and was never mechanized. The Royal Coin Mill began regular production of silver coins in 1586 and introduced the stamping of the year of minting to Spanish coinage. The rest of the Spanish mints adopted dates on their coins by 1588, as this was seen as a useful anti-counterfeiting measure. Mintmarks and assayers initials were added later for the same reason. The roller presses of the Royal Coin Mill continued to perform their function until they were replaced by screw presses in 1770. Here's an example of an 8 reales from the Segovia mint, which can not only be identified as the only mint with machine struck Spanish coins at the time, 1660, but also by the aqueduct featured in its coat of arms and used as its mintmark. You may also note some characteristics of a roller press struck coin as these have a slight wrinkle in the surface and show the perfect roundness from being cut out of the silver strip with a circular stamping tool. There are three varieties of the 1660 8 reales, which may be purposeful, since the roller die consisted of three separate engravings allowing three strikes per revolution of the roller. There is no competitive set for older coins like these but you can see it hosted in my "Silver Dollars of '60" custom set. http://coins.www.collectors-society.com/WCM/CoinCustomSetView.aspx?s=19493 ~jack To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

jgenn

jgenn

11/04/2016

Custom Set Collage

Celebrating an Amazing 8s milestone This year I was able to add two coins to my set of Charles III 8 reales and complete the goal of an example from each mint that produced the portrait type issue. I figured out how to add an image to the custom set description and called on some dormant skills to illustrate the achievement. I left the commercial art field just as computer graphics were starting to take off so I remember 'copy' as what the photo department did, 'cut' requiring X-ACTO knife skills and 'paste' coming from the waxing machine. The active mints during this period, 1772-1789, and up to 1791 for various posthumous issues, were: Madrid -- Capital of Spain since 1606, its mintmark is distinguished by the crown above the 'M'. It was not one of the main mints of Spain until the 17th century. 8 reales of the macuquina type (cobs) first appeared in 1620 according to Cabeto. Charles III portrait 8 reales were issued from 1772-1775, 1777, 1782 and 1788. Seville -- An ancient city that produced coins for Romans and Goths, its zenith during the Spanish Empire was its period as the home of La Casa y Audiencia de Indias, the agency for all colonial exploration and trade, from 1503-1717; Seville's mint handled much of the precious metals from the New World. Its mintmark is 'S' Charles III portrait 8 reales were issued from 1772-1779 and 1788. Mexico City -- The oldest mint in the Americas was established in 1535 in the capital of the Viceroyalty of new Spain. 8 reales were not issued until the reign of Philip II (1555-1598). The common mintmark is 'M' with a small 'o' above. The first two years of the Charles III portrait type are known for the inversion of the mintmark and assayers initials. Charles III portrait 8 reales were issued from 1772-1789 and posthumously in 1789 and 1790 with the bust of Charles III and legend for Charles IV. Guatemala City -- Capital of the Captaincy General of Guatemala, a large region that included El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Chiapas; minting started in 1733 with old equipment and tools from Mexico City and used the mintmark 'G'. The Charles III portrait 8 reales started in 1772 but were interrupted in 1773 by earthquakes that resulted in the movement of the city and mint away from the highlands, 40 miles to the Northwest. The new mint began 8 reales production again in 1777 and began using the mintmark 'NG' for Nueva Guatemala (New Guatemala). Issues continued until 1789 with posthumous issues in 1789 and 1790 with the bust of Charles III and legend for Charles IV. Lima -- Capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru, it was granted minting authority in 1565. Starting with the Charles III portrait issues, its mintmark was a monogram combining the letters 'LIMAE'. These continued from 1772-1789, with posthumous issues from 1789-1791 with the bust of Charles III and legend for Charles IV. Potosí -- Established in 1543 as a mining town at the foot of a mountain with the largest known silver deposit, Potosí was part Alto Perú (Upper Peru), which would be renamed Bolivia in honor of the general and political leader Simón Bolívar. Alto Perú was part of the Viceroyalty of Peru until 1776, when it was shifted to the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in hopes of countering the growing influence of Portugal in the region. With the beginning of milled coinage in 1767 it adopted the mintmark monogram with the letters 'PTS'. Charles III portrait 8 reales were issued from 1773-1789 and posthumously in 1789 and 1790 with the bust of Charles III and legend for Charles IV. Santiago -- Capital of the Captaincy General of Chile, its mint was first authorized as a private endeavor in 1743. It minted what the region mined which was mainly gold. Charles III brought the mint under the crown in 1770. The mintmark is 'S' with a small 'o' above. Silver issues are scarce and the Charles III 8 reales portraits are known for 1773, maybe 1774, 1775-1789, with posthumous issues from 1789-1791 with the bust of Charles III and legend for Charles IV. ~jack http://coins.www.collectors-society.com/WCM/CoinCustomSetView.aspx?s=3785 To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

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09/29/2016

When the Colony becomes the Ruler

My vicarious trip to Brazil In 1807, Napoleon forced the Portuguese court into exile. Relocating to Rio de Janeiro, Portugal became the colony -- its kingdom ruled from Brazil. This transfer of power was formalized in 1815 when the Reino Unido de Portugal, Brasil e Algarves was established and Rio de Janeiro became its capital. This is the only example of a European nation ruled from one of its colonies. The Portuguese court returned to Lisbon in 1821 with Brazil gaining its independence the following year. Perhaps it was a subconscious impulse from watching the Rio Olympics but when I saw these 8 reales, re-purposed for use in Brazil, in the recent ANA auction listings, I eagerly added them to my collection. Both examples are from the early years of the Portugese court's time abroad.   The first example is a 960 reis counterstamp on a Potosi 8 reales. These were issued in 1808 for circulation in the Minas Gerais Capitania, Brazil's principal gold mining region. According to the Banco Central do Brasil website, they were issued in conjunction with the prohibition of using gold dust for financial transactions to counter embezzlement from the mines. My second example is an 1810 960 Reis from the Rio de Janeiro mint, overstruck on a Potosi 8 reales. The counterstriking of 8 reales was superseded by the full overstrikes starting in this year. The host coin's bullion value was only 750-800 reis, at this time; the inflation to 960 reis was done to generate revenue for the crown. Both coins display similar designs, the Portuguese coat of arms on the obverse and the armillary sphere on the reverse. The armillary sphere, an astronomical and navigational instrument of huge importance during the Age of Discovery, became a national emblem of the Portuguese Empire. ~jack To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

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08/25/2016

A Sky Blue '60

It took a bit of magic to capture this image. When viewing a toned silver coin from a certain, special angle you can really appreciate the color, but it can be nearly impossible to capture in a photograph. Somehow, I positioned an OttLite, just right, to maximize the color on this one. Try as I might, I just can't replicate it and now that the coin is encapsulated, there's little hope of success. Of all the coins of Spain that I've collected, this is my one late empire example, purchased for my Silver Dollars of '60 custom set. It features one of the better portraits of Queen Isabel II. She was only three when she was proclaimed sovereign and sparked a civil war upon the death of her father, Fernando VII in 1833. Her reign was overthrown in the revolution of 1868. The 20 reales of this period closely maintained the dimensions of the 8 reales. It was 38mm, 26.291g and 90% silver. Mine is the more common variety from Madrid with a mintage of 941,000. You can see the less colorful reverse in my custom set. http://coins.www.collectors-society.com/WCM/CoinView.aspx?sc=453782 ~jack To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

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07/29/2016

Reflection on a Collection

I was inspired to look at my collection in a different light. When I contemplate my collection, I generally think about dates, types, grades and values; and I visualize linked pairs of obverse and reverse sides. I enjoy learning about the history and personalities associated with the times, places and persons represented by the coins. so they are part of my reflection as well. However, when I saw the photo montage that one of the collectors ATS put together, of the best face of several of his coins, I was inspired to do something similar from my collection. Many choices were easy and I found that focusing on the eye appeal of just one face gave me the freedom to make more artistic judgements. I was happy to see that I ended up with a representative date range and good variety of types and countries. They are all world crowns but that is what I collect. Curiously, none are my most costly or highest grades or from my competitive sets. I have known for awhile that I don't greatly care for busts so the fact that none were selected was not a surprise. This was a fun exercise and I think I've gained some insight into what I really value in the coins I collect. Hopefully, this knowledge will guide my future collecting decisions. I hope you enjoy viewing my favorite eight faces as much as I enjoyed the process of selecting them. ~jack To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

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06/05/2016

Nephew's First Coin

He's a cute little monkey, alright! I have enjoyed reading your posts about buying coins for your young family members and finally it's my turn. My nephew is only a few weeks old and I've already got his first coin. Of course I fantasize about him becoming a coin collector like his uncle but I'll be happy if he doesn't sell it at the first opportunity. Only time will tell about my nephew's future interests, but it does make me think about how what we post on-line now could very well be retrievable for as long as humans care to archive the internet. If my nephew ever cares to find out how I spent my spare time he can discover my passion for numismatics right here. ~Uncle Jack To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

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05/10/2016

Lights, Camera, Action!

Most of the action is in re-positioning the lights. Today I took one of my best coin photographs. I've been working on improving my photography skills and I've re-imaged much of my collection over the last two years. My setup is fairly modest; an inexpensive copy stand and refurbished Canon SL1 DSLR, with macro capable lens, that I got for a super low price last Black Friday. Frankly, I'm not sure I see much improvement over my previous camera, a Canon G9, since I mainly photograph large sized coins. Both have the essential features; macro focus and white balance control. The key to better coin photography, however, is proper lighting. You could say that each coin requires a specific setup of lamps and I find that to be mostly true with the variety of older world crowns that I collect. Two types that I find especially difficult to photograph are the darkly toned coins with muted luster and the highly lustrous, low mint state, ones with many surface imperfections. Small changes to angles can help minimize how distracting scratches and other surface dings will appear, so I take many shots with slight lighting alterations or coin rotation. Photographing encapsulated coins presents additional challenges. Scratches and abrasions on the slabs can be managed with lighting angles or polishing the plastic but the big problem for certain situations is the reflection of the light source off the surface of the slab. This limits your options for getting your lamps close to the coin and at a highly perpendicular angle. I posted a journal about this thaler before, shortly after I acquired it. Since then, I got the coin re-holdered for free, due to the incorrect label, so that took care of the many scratches on the original slab. But this is a very darkly toned subject with rich colors that are difficult to bring out. After dozens of shoots with different types of lamps and arrangements I finally captured both the colorful toning and design definition in the way that I wanted. I lit the sides with two OttLite tube lamps at nearly perpendicular angles to bring out the color. Then a bright CFL positioned at 12 O'clock at a 45 degree angle gives the steed a daylight-like direction for highlights and shadow, as well as definition for the other design elements. I only gave the image a small bump in contrast and saturation -- not very much was needed. I know many of today's collectors go wild for colorfully toned coins. When it comes to older worlds crowns, however, I'm lucky to fine nice, problem-free examples so I can't be too choosy. If it came down to the option for a new crown to add to my collection or a colorful example of a coin I already have, I would probably choose the one I don't have. Still, I'm proud to show off an example of a happy accident of what we would now consider improper storage in a sulfur laden paper envelope. ~jack To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

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04/17/2016

The Silver Dollars of '60

The challenge -- to build a birth-year set from only silver dollars. The dilemma -- only a few types were minted in 1960. My favorite type is the silver dollar, or more precisely, 36-42mm diameter coins, at least 23g, that are 50% or more silver (my definition). Also known as "crowns", these have been popular with collectors through the centuries, boosting the survivability of most varieties, even those with low mintages. The large surface area allows for more design detail and I like the way they fill up a slab. I prefer them so much that I avoid collecting anything smaller. In the US, overproduction of silver dollars to satisfy the provisions of the Pittman Act fully stocked the Treasury vaults and halted their production. The subsequent worldwide economic disruptions of the Great Depression and World War II further diminished the demand for large silver denomination coinage. Countries that could afford to issue silver coinage continued but the trend towards non-precious metal coins became widely adopted. The US Treasury continued to release Peace and Morgan dollars until demand finally caught up with supply in 1964. So there are no US silver dollars minted in 1960. Fortunately, a few countries were still issuing large silver coins. The Canadian silver dollar is the perfect example. However, to keep this set from being ridiculously small I've pushed the boundaries a bit. One idea was to ignore the century and focus on the year portion of the date. This opens up wonderful opportunities for silver dollar types including the US seated liberty of 1860. I've actively modified my search for interesting world crowns to seek '60s as a priority. Another idea was including exonumia. I only found out about So-Called Dollars -- those dollar-sized medals struck to commemorate American themes -- recently, when reading our chat boards. The earliest of these are nearly 200 years old. Naturally, I was excited to find that there were several struck in 1960. The one I picked out nicely fits my requirement. I'll conclude this journal entry with a link to my set (http://coins.www.collectors-society.com/WCM/CoinCustomSetView.aspx?s=19493) and a preview of my So-Called Dollar, the Mumey Pony Express Centennial medal, HK-584. ~jack To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

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03/03/2016

Second Chances

The two year wait for the coin that I won. In 2013, I told the story about the auction that I participated in where I saw the lot hammer at my pre-bid price. Later, I found out that a floor bidder had the lot reopened, but by then I had stopped watching the on-line feed so I didn't get the opportunity to counter-bid (I would had gone at least one increment higher). Now I can tell the rest of the story. That same coin came up for auction in the Rudman Collection of Mexican Coins, Part II. It had never been entered into Isaac Rudman's NGC registry set so I had no idea that he or his agent had successfully lobbied the auctioneer to reopen the lot that I won. The good news is that on the second go-around, I won the lot for a few dollars shy of my pre-bid price from 2013. My goal in seeking out this coin was to bring together a nearly complete set of Charles III pillar dollars to complement my portrait collection. I was in second place to Mr. Rudman in that category but I have a few coins in my set that he did not; I was hoping to win enough to improve on his completion ratio. As it turned out, the truly rare varieties got impressive bids. Curiously, several of the scarce overdates hammered for twice what I expected -- and these were all in details grade, too. I guess they looked much better in hand or someone else felt the overwhelming need to fill in those last slots. In the end, I picked up three new examples for my set and one nice upgrade but fell short of my completion goal. I fully recognize that the medium grade varieties that I've acquired will be poor investments, however I see more value in making sets like these available for public view. The internet, and sites like the NGC registry, let us publish our own virtual catalogs, giving collectors an alternative to "buying the book". Not that I'm suggesting you don't acquire the key references in your chosen field but some of those classic 8 reales references are out of print and quite expensive! Here's the link to my previous post: http://coins.www.collectors-society.com/JournalDetail.aspx?JournalEntryID=14583 And here's my second chance lot (photos by Heritage Auctions) ~jack To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

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01/11/2016

Custom Sets Question

To go big or stay focused? Congratulations to all the registry participants and winners. Now that the 2015 awards have been decided we can take a peek at the judges' selections, and with 90,000 registry sets out there, I know I will be viewing most of these for the first time. Like many of you, I spent a good portion of 2015 creating, organizing and polishing my sets. I've become a big fan of custom sets and I added four last year. I especially like the control we have over the size of our sets and I've kept mine pretty small and focused. The gallery page, where you can see fifteen coins (30 individual photos) at once including the owner's annotations, is my favorite way to view a set. But I will admit that I'm not likely to go more than two pages deep. Personal preferences aside, I wonder if keeping my sets so small was the best approach. One of the custom sets I created last year is the pillar dollar companion to my 8 reales busts of Charles III. Although they are chronologically adjacent, the pillar dollars are more desirable to collectors and I (and my wallet) opted for a lower average grade. But now I wonder if I should have combined them together. After all, many of the top custom sets feature considerably more coins than I am contemplating. I would like your opinion -- should I keep my Columnarios de Carlos separate or roll them into the Amazing 8s? Here's one of those pillar dollars from the Viceroyalty of Peru, Lima mint and a link to the set. http://coins.www.collectors-society.com/WCM/CoinCustomSetGallery.aspx?s=19381 ~jack To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

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01/09/2016

A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of thalers, it was the worst of thalers... Several city-view thalers were up for sale this November and I acquired one of Frankfurt am Main and one of Regensburg. Minted just a few years apart, they are from the last few decades of the Holy Roman Empire. Both of these were Free Imperial Cities, subordinate only to the Emperor, and had important roles in the Empire; Frankfurt was the city where kings and emperors were crowned and Regensburg hosted the principle decision making body, the Imperial Diet. Both are well struck with minimal wear but otherwise, they are a contrast in appearance. The Frankfurt thaler has muted luster with significant toning, somewhat uneven and with a few crusty areas in the legend. The city view is in landscape style and the toning adds a weather-like effect as if a rain storm is passing through. It's quite ornate with elaborate framing of the city arms and the radiant triangle, caduceus and cornucopias symbols. The Regensburg thaler is highly lustrous with only slight toning. The obverse shows the portrait of Emperor Joseph II and the reverse is a portrait of the city -- engraved on a large scale, accentuating its importance and grandeur, and features an impressive level of detail -- its precise lines are more in the style of an architectural drawing. I know it's a stretch to paraphrase Dickens' famous first line with any relevance to these coins, but to me it is mainly about the range of Regensburg city view coins that were on offer. I chose the one with the best eye appeal but some may regard it as the worst because of its details grade. Between the two pictured here, I appreciate the qualities of the different styles, however I find the Frankfurt view more appealing. Toning and details grades generate strong opinions among collectors. Which city view do you prefer? I'll post the full coin photographs with grades on the chat board. ~jack To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

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12/19/2015

England without a monarch!

A relic from the 'Interregnum' King Charles I lost more than the English Civil War. In 1649 he lost his head and England began a period of eleven years without a monarch. Even so, crowns were still minted. 1658 crown of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, a single year issue as he died that September. The crown is noted for its high strike quality due to the mechanized milling and press process introduced by Pierre Blondeau, former engineer of the Paris mint. The dies were produced by the Royal Mint's chief engraver, Thomas Simon. All issues show an 8 punched over 7 and many have the die crack through the lower obverse. Cromwell ascended to this position, king in all but name, from his distinguished service in the Parliamentarian army during the English Civil War. The resignation of Lord Fairfax, lord general of the army, who opposed the execution of Charles I, left Cromwell at the head of the most powerful faction of the new republic in 1649. He assumed full control with the title of Lord Protector in 1653. At his death, his eldest son assumed the title but could not maintain the military dictatorship. Charles II gained the throne in 1660, ending this brief period of England without a monarch. ~jack To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

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10/26/2015

A rose by any other name...

would smell as sweet -- but a better photograph can't hurt! My original title for this post was 'Most Subtly Improved', a nod to Gary and Alan's recent posts about their photography, but I could't resist the Shakespearean jest. As my photography skills slowly progress I have greatly improved many of my early coin images but sometimes it's the ones with a subtle improvement that can really catch your attention. That's the case with my Pezza della Rosa or Rose Dollar and I hope you'll agree. The nature of the design is such that nearly any photograph cannot detract from its inherent beauty, My initial focus for collecting was the portrait eight reales of Charles III of Spain. To be honest, I have become quite bored of seeing his bust; and those of monarchs in general. When I broadened my collecting interest to all world crowns I actively sought other types of design. I became particularly enamored with the pezza della rosa, from Livorno in the Italian state of Tuscany. Interestingly, it's one of several crown sized silver coins that were minted there. Ducats or piastra were made to trade on par with the high value ducatons from the Dutch Republic. Talleros had a value equal to the thalers of the German states. The pezza della rosa, also known as pezza da otto reali, was the local equivalent of the Spanish 8 reales. As an important port and trading center, having local coins with similar values to foreign coins eased commerce and gave the ruler the seigniorage, the profit on the difference between the face value and cost to produce the coins. My example is from 1707, during the reign of Cosimo III, the penultimate head of the famous Medici family. Initially, I lit the coin with a typical 2:00 and 10:00 arrangement. For my slightly improved version, I positioned a Jansjo at a low angle at 12:00 and one at a slightly higher angle but also near 12:00 to light the bottom half of the coin. For these early milled, lower relief coins, I seem to get better results from a setup that tries to approximate the 'in-hand' look. ~jack To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

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10/12/2015

My Three Suns

A glorious light shines on former Spanish colonies. Three of my favorite 8 reales are from the former colonies of the Spanish Empire in the New World. The hopeful aspirations of these newly independent nations are reflected in the beautiful sunface designs of the Provincias Unidas del Río de la Plata, Republica del Centro de America and Republica Sud Peruana. The birth of new nations is a politically contentious process -- these republics had to deal with years of internal and external strife to emerge as the nations we recognize today. 1813 8 reales of the former Spanish Viceroyalty of the Rio del la Plata that included parts of modern day Argentina, Uruguay and Bolivia. This is the first year of issue and was minted in Potosi. The sunface design on this coin is 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. 1825 8 reales of the former Spanish Captaincy General of Guatemala that included modern day Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Los Altos (which would become the Mexican State of Chiapas). This is the second year of issue as was minted in Nueva Guatemala (Guatamala City). In my opinion, the obverse design embodies the idea of the light of freedom dawning on a newly liberated land. 1837 8 reales of the short lived Republic of South Peru that comprised part of modern day Peru and Bolivia. This is the first year of issue and was minted in Cuzco. This sunface is thought to an Inca design, perhaps representing the sun god Inti. The complex reverse design depicts a cornucopia of gold from the Peruvian coat of arms, a crowned tower that some sources cite as the Inca fortress of Saksaywaman overlooking the city of Cuzco, a volcano (perhaps El Misti, one of Peru's most active), and a ship in the ocean. Coincidentally, Charles Darwin noted volcanic activity in the area when he arrived in Lima on the second voyage of the HMS Beagle in July of 1835. Perhaps the engraver was commemorating the visit of this important voyage of discovery. ~jack To see old comments for this Journal entry, click here. New comments can be added below.

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10/03/2015