• entries
    7
  • comments
    27
  • views
    1,385

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 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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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