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About this journal

Thoughts on building my Netherlands Wilhelm III Gold 10 Gulden Set and my collection in general.

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In November of last year (2017), very shortly after I got my new job in October, I was sent to Aberdeen to visit the company’s home office for training and to meet all the people I’d be working with remotely face-to-face. My wife lived in England for 3 years and visited Scotand during that time and really wanted to go. We arranged for her parents to watch our son for a week, I bought her an extra ticket to come with me and she stayed in the hotel with me. Since the company was paying for the room it made for a cheap vacation for her. I still had to work during the day but we got plenty of time to do some sight-seeing and have some wonderful baby-free time, which is always good for a marriage.

It’s likely that I’ll return to Aberdeen periodically over time if I stay with the company long term but it won’t be terribly often – perhaps once every 2 years or so. My wife wanted to come along because, with our plans to grow or family among other things, we weren’t sure if she’d be able to go when and if the opportunity arose again and she really wanted to go. I’m glad she did. It was a great deal more enjoyable that way.

My wife recently dug through her purse to lighten her load and dug out a lot of residual English coinage from our trip. I separated the UK coinage from the American ones and I’m going to be hanging on to them. I need to get some flips to put them in. While we were there she also went by a bank and found a couple of fairly nice looking 10 pound notes for me to take home and those are now in my little currency album along with an old circulated Bar note that I was given by one of the other users here many years ago. They’re lightly circulated. Again, I’m sure they’re not terribly valuable and never will be as collectables, but they’re something I wanted to bring home from the trip nonetheless.

The coins are circulated and not particularly collectable, but they’ll be nice mementos of the trip and something to show to my son as he gets older.

When I was younger my grandmother, who passed last year, a few months before this trip, used to show me and gave me a bunch of old coins from places like Pakistan (dated around 1961), Argentina, Chile, Mexico, etc. My mother also had friends that brought us back coinage from Singapore, China, and Asian locations. These were coins that my grandfather brought home with him while he traveled for work as an engineer. I was the first male grandchild born after his death. I was named for him and these coins, which I still have, were a nice connection to that piece of my family history. They were a fun addition to my mother’s stories about being in Argentina and buying a whole bunch of French fries (papas fritas) when they thought they were ordering fried chicken (pollo frito).

My son, who is named for me in the same way that I was named for him, will hopefully enjoy seeing these and the older coins from his great grandfather as he gets older. Ben is turning 2 this month. I'll have a while to wait before I know for sure if he shares my interests in these things, but I know he likes shiny metal based on the way he likes to rifle through my silver eagles and sunshine mint rounds.

I brought him coins. My wife brought home lots of Cadbury chocolate. I think I did better there but the chocolate was good.



I picked this up in late 2017 but we were focused on the holidays and an upcoming move so I never go to log-on here and post about picking this up, or even add it to my registry.

Back in December my wife gave me the okay to pick up a small gold coin. The original idea I had in mind was to pick up an 1877 for my Netherlands 10G set. The 1877 is the last of the more common dates that I still don't own for that set and at the time leading up to her giving me the okay there was an MS66 on sale for a good price. Unfortunately, for me, that coin sold about 4 days before I got to buy something. The joys of life and timing sometimes I suppose. I wasn't too broken up about it. Unlike the 1888 that would pop up for sale 2 months later the 1877 comes up for sale pretty regularly in MS65 or MS66. I'll just have to be patient on that front for a while.

In the mean time, I'm never one to waste the wife saying it's okay for me to buy something golden, so I started looking around and saw a bunch of Swiss and French 20 Franc coins going for prices and grades that I was okay paying. I thought about it for a while. The Swiss 20 has been on my list for a while because it would form a nice pair with my 1922 Swiss 10 Franc, but I've thought it would be fun to have a Rooster for a while too. I ultimately decided on the rooster, picking up this MS64 from 1913 - the year before the start of WWI. Many European countries were putting out small gold coins with an AGW of about 0.19-0.20 troy ounces at the time. The fact that they're all about the same size and from the same time period makes them interesting to look at together and cross-compare. I'm going to be a bit more relaxed on grades with this set/project. I'll mostly be looking for MS65 or higher when I can find it for a nice price but I'm generally happy with MS64s, especially on 100+ year old coins. I'm try to be more particular with the 10Gs but that's a very special set for me.

I've been wanting to build up a collection of European gold type coins from the late Victorian era (late 19th century) and early 20th century. The years I'm wanting to target for this range roughly from 1875 (the year the Netherlands 10G set starts) to 1913 (the start of WWI). I picked up the Swiss 10 Franc from 1922 years ago mostly on a whim because it looked interesting and was going for a nice price, but I'm wanting to keep this project, as and if I get it off the ground, to mostly pre-WWI coins because the world was a very different place during and after that War than it was prior to it. I will have some deviations from this. I want to pick up some British Sovereigns from the George VI and early Elizabeth II period and I want to get at least one Netherlands 10G coin from during the reign of Wilhelm II (father Wilhelm III, ruling from about 1840-1849, short reign). I will also be looking for a 1920s Swiss 20 Franc to pair with the 10 Franc at some point too, just because I like the Swiss cross design on that coin.

I'll be excited to see in person is the French "Lucky Angel" design from the late 19th century, and it'll be fun to add some Italian gold because my wife lived there for several years as a child and Italy holds a special place in her heart.

Of course, that's quite a list, and I'm getting ahead of myself because it'll take me a while to get through that and beyond.

I'm expecting this to be my next major project as the Netherlands 10G set winds down for a while. Since those coins come up for sale so rarely I can't just buy more for the set whenever I want, so I'll need something else that's more flexible to play with while I wait.




I wanted to share a bit of new vs old photo results. Both the coin images are of the obverse of the 1876.

I set up my equipment the same way I usually do for macro photography of miniatures and other really small objects. I have a 105 mm f/2.8 VR Macro lens for my D600 and I added the 2x teleconverter so I could shoot really close in to the coin - having the coin fill most of the frame for really high resolution images - while still staying far enough back that I didn't get in the way of my light. I set up 2 speedlites. I initially was going to use both and have them behind the diffusion panels of the shadowbox but that was killing the luster in the images. I ended up just using one speedlite with a 1/128th full power setting undiffused. That gave me the results I liked the best. Using a small LED flash light to shine a little light on the coin made it much easier to autofocus with the lens. It's fairly dark in the shadowbox and the 2x teleconverter limits the effective aperture of the lens, making it hard to get enough light in for the autofocus to succeed without a little help. The circle of light projected by the flashlight also made it easier to keep the coins positioned consistently when swapping them out. Since the light from the small flashlight is so week it doesn't significantly impact the final image - the much more powerful speedlite dominates in the 1/100 of a second in which the image is taken.

Hopefully writing all of this down here will give me something to reference and help me remember later when I want to do this again. I'm including a picture of the set-up on the floor of the room I use as a home-office for now. I suppose it might be easier to do these things if I just set all of this up on a table and didn't force myself to flatten myself out on my stomach on the ground but... hey, I'm still fairly young (31) and don't have trouble getting back up... yet.

I was able to basically stand the slabs on their edge with them leaning ever so slightly back on the back of the shadowbox in some cases.

I think the new shots have much better detail, especially in his hair, beard and the field of the coin. They also look a lot sharper overall.

I'm not sure how this compares to how most others do it. Most of my camera equipment - except for the macro lens itself - was purchased for portrait and event photography and I generally find myself putting the same equipment to use here. I'd love to get a really nice lens-mounted ring-flash one of these days. I think that would provide the best and easiest lighting for something like this.  But so far I just haven't been able to justify the cost.


1876 Obverse.jpg



Whenever I get a new coin for a set, provided it’s a smaller set that doesn’t require pulling out 20+ coins, it’s always fun to pull out all the coins in the set and look at them together. It can be a lot of fun with the larger sets too but it can also be a lot of work to find them all amongst the other coins, get them out and, eventually, put them all back.

When I get the new coin in for such a set I try to get new pictures done and this usually leads to new pictures being taken for the whole set.

Even if the pictures themselves aren’t the best in the world I think it makes the presentation overall a little more appealing if the pictures are at least done consistently with each other. The quality of the photos is something I’m still working on in this regard.

I’m not bad as a portrait photographer and have been paid to shoot tradeshow images for oil field services companies and symposia photos for universities. I have a really nice micro lens that I’ve used to take great shots of small figures in a light box. Coin photography is something I still struggle with. The reflective surface and the while holder with NGC just makes things hard.

Looking at the group of coins together, it’s pretty easy to see that I’ve been favoring older holders – old “fatty” holders in particular - with this set. I had been doing it mostly to make the set a little more visually consistent across all the coins in it – not always easy given how much the NGC slab in particular has changed over the years. I've also at time really liked the idea of building the set mostly with coins with 9-digit serial numbers mostly starting with 195 or 196. I had to give up on that a little bit when this 1888 came up for sale. Beggars can't be choosers in such cases. I was just thrilled to see a high grade 1888 at all and there's no way for me to even know if there is an 1888 out there in an old fatty holder still (if there ever was).

On of these years, when the set is complete, I’m hoping I can send them all in for re-holdering. It would be great to get them all into the same type/generation of slab, with the same label design, with the same invoice number and numbered chronologically from -001 to -010 (or -011 if I actually ever manage to find an 1877/9). I think that would be the ultimate way to show off the set visually. It might even be fun to have a custom label made for them at that point.

Given a long background in art and photography, presentation is and probably always will be important to me I think and when getting the coins graded the slabs themselves inevitably become part of the discussion of presentation.

Since I have tomorrow off for president's day I'm probably going to take some time and try for new pictures of these things. I guess we'll see how the pictures come out.

Maybe it's me, and maybe it's just the visual effect of having less white and more space around the coin, but when I saw the 1888 in the new holder it almost made it look bigger than the others.




Half way there

Well, today was my much-anticipated day off because of my 9/80 schedule. The dealer shipped out the coin very promptly and I went to bed last night knowing that it was in town and due to be delivered on a day when I could be home to wait and sign for it – very useful with the seller requires a signature for delivery. I can’t say I blame him for it but I hate making trips to the post office for packages and this new post office we have has already lost one package for me in the 2 months since we moved here.

I had plenty of things to keep me busy and distracted while I waited. I needed to get laundry done, hang some pictures to work on making the house more “homey” and set-up a new printer. I don’t care how easy a printer company tries to make it – and they did a good job of that in this case – you will be busy for a while when you have to physically set the thing up out of the box and install it on 4 computers and a smartphone. But I think I scored some points with my wife for getting it set-up on her laptop, which is important too.

The coin arrived with a ring of the doorbell around 11:30 so I had it before lunch and it looks gorgeous.

I pleasantly surprised myself by not immediately dropping all of my housework to run to the computer and add it to my sets. I did take a minute to look at it and admire it before setting it back down and getting busy again. There will be plenty of time for that later. I’m going to have a lot of alone time this weekend while the wife is busy hauling the kid off to things and I get president’s day off, which she doesn’t. I find myself writing this now while I wait on some laundry to finish.

It’s really nice to get this coin at this point in my progress with the set. This coin is a major tipping point. Not only is it the lowest mintage year and the rarest coin with the possible exception of the 1877/9 but adding this coin to the set brings the set to over 50% complete. Officially, per the registry, the set is 45% complete, but my PCGS MS67 1875 would make it 54%.

I’m excited by NGC’s decision to make a membership tier available for ~$25 that allows for submissions. I’m hoping that will give me a workable means of getting that 1875 crossed at some point and that will let it join the rest of the set.

Gherrmann44 recently referenced that it took him 7 years to finish his Wilhelmina set and that made me think a bit. I think I bought the first coin for this set about 8 or 9 years ago. I'd have to go back and check. I just know it seems, feels and effectively was ages ago. I started it in my early 20s and chronically single and now find myself in my early 30s, married, with a son... and it's now half finished.

To be sure, it's not like I've been avidly hunting for an 11 coin set for nearly a decade. I've been away from it for years at a time while I've had other collecting priorities and just other priorities in life in general. The last coin for the set was purchased 20 months ago. I got laid off 3 months after that and spent the next 12 months jobless, generally happy to just not have to sell any of them, though I think this set would be one of the last things I sold if I had to.

It has been and will be a long road to finish this. But I have big plans and big dreams for this set - most of which I'm sure will make my wife of 2 years roll her eyes. But, hey, this project is older than the marriage and she knew I was a freak about this stuff before she said "I do."



The Key Date!

I finally found an 1888 for a price I could afford and which I was comfortable paying.

I have eBay send me emails whenever things pop up that could potentially be a match for this set. The search is deliberately broad so most of the items that pop up aren't of interest but it helps make sure I know it when something good pops up.

Last week an 1888 came up for sale in MS65 graded by NGC. The seller had great feedback and is an NGC and PCGS member/submitter. Everything looked great.

This is a very hard coin to find. Only 35,585 were made 130 years ago. Only 20 are graded by NGC and only 6 of those are graded MS-65 or better. In the years I've been building this set I've only seen 1 other 1888 come up for sale and it was an MS-62 that the seller wanted $875.00. At the time I tried to offer the seller about $650 - more than reasonable, but they still wanted over $800, counter offering with $825, so I passed. That coin sat on eBay for years and cost them who-knows-what in listing fees but didn't sell because the coin wasn't worth what they were asking. It finally disappeared off eBay. I don't know if someone finally bit the bullet or they just gave up.

This MS-65 was an auction, not a BIN, and it started at $400 + $7 shipping, so this was a true chance for the coin to sell for what it was worth and not some inflated price that someone was hoping for. I did a bit of pleading and convinced my wife to let me bid on it. The timing was good. My long streak of unemployment ended several months ago and we've made it past the worst of our financial hard times. A few months ago this purchase would have been unthinkable. As it is, I wasn't really looking to pick up a gold coin this month but when an opportunity like this comes along you can't pass it up. No telling when you'll see another for sale at a reasonable price.

I watched the auction closely all weekend. Finally got to Monday and it was still going for just a bit over the $400 starting bid. I was watching it obsessively on Monday.

After we got our son to bed I sat down on the bed with my wife, turned on some Breaking Bad, flipped open the laptop and settled in. I put in my final bid with about 1.5 minutes left, cringing slightly and hoping it wouldn't go as high as I was bidding but willing to do it if it got me the coin. I was beating the other bidder with a price of $493 - a steal for this coin IMO. I watched the final seconds tick down almost afraid to breathe. 8 people were watching the coin but only 3 had bid. I was sure there would be a last second bid that would run it up or maybe take it from me but the bid never came. I won the coin for $500 after shipping.

I know it's sometimes hard to put much stock in price guides - especially for coins that come up for sale so rarely - but the NGC price guide lists the coin at $550 in MS-63. An 1875 in this series in MS-65 usually goes for $380-450. They minted 4.1 million of them this year and compared to the low-mintage 1888, the 1875 is as common as sand on the beach. You always see some of them up for sale, usually several. To me, getting this coin for barely $100 over the most common date in the series is a major win.

I've paid for the coin and can't wait for it to get here and add it to my set. It is estimated to arrive on Friday - a day I have off as it happens because of the 9/80 schedule I work. I think it could be a very good day.