Collecting the small coins

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ColonialCoinsUK

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As my original collection was British sixpences I seem to have a preference for the smaller denominations over trade coinage as these saw extensive day-to-day use and high grade examples are therefore much more of a challenge. This situation coupled with surprisingly limited data and research means that the opportunity to make new discoveries is much greater - or is it that I am just a glutton for punishment? For example at a recent auction a major London dealer thought my quest for die numbers on sixpences was 'mad' - and that's the polite version, as even the most complete 6d collections have not come close and, anyway, it may not even be possible.

My last journal entry highlighted the discovery of an excellent example of the French 1808I 10 centimes however the upheaval of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic period was felt throughout Europe and beyond, most notably it precipitated the collapse of the Spanish Empire. It is no surprise that 8 reales are very popular with collectors, particularly the colonial issues, and as a result there are some excellent books on the subject and there has been extensive and outstanding research on both the 'real' issues and the many counterfeits - contemporary or modern. Naturally I was drawn to the smaller coins - 1/4, 1/2, 1, 2 and 4R - and found that detailed information was somewhat lacking, particularly for the 'home' Spanish issues and as a result I have picked up a few examples of these over the years.

There were a few of these minors in rare high grades scattered amongst the 8 reales in the many January auctions and despite strong bids I only managed to pick up a single example, a Spanish 1808S CN 2 reales in NGC MS64.* As the last issue from the Seville mint for Charles IV it can usually be found in Fine/VF although an uncirculated example is very rare so I was happy to add this to my collection - my Registry Set now boasts a total of 3 coins out of a possible 41, so the prospects of completing this single country set in high grade does not look good but there is no harm in trying!#

* I am still amazed that the 1781Mo FF 1/2 real went for $1800!
# Graded coins currently exist at both services for only 19 of the 41 Charles IV issues with only 11 of them having mint state examples, often just a single coin - high grade raw coins also seem to be just as elusive if not more so. The Ferdinand VII coinage is an even greater undertaking as the French forces were occupying much of Spain by then resulting in many temporary mints being established. 

 

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You can't make something unique by doing what everyone else is doing. ;) But things like this just also take time and patience and I think some people just totally lack that these days. 😆 

I'm a fan of smaller issues too but I'll always feel the pull of silver dollars because of Grandpa's old silver dollars that mom used to pull out of the safe / lock box and show me. I think things about the size of a US quarter tend to have a nice balance - they were small enough to see a lot of use and circulation but they're big enough to spot really interesting, beautiful designs that have stood the test of time.

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I feel your pain. I collect coins from Iceland and I have been focusing on the Kingdom set 1922 to 1942 which comprised of coins which was the first coins minted for Iceland by the Copenhagen mint in Denmark. There is very little info about the minting of these coins and as variety of the small 14mm ! Eyrir which I have found a number of varieties in that series. Its always the least popular coins that get the least amount of attention over the years and when starting this collection back in 2003 I had no idea that it would take me over 16 years to find nice Uncirculated  coins and some of them like the 1933 25 Aurar That I have own seen two of these in Unc and the 1931 2 aurar I have only seen one of.....So yes like you collection you just have to keep at it ....it will all come together with a little persistence and time....So good luck.

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I have what probably ranks as one of the "smallest" denomination coins ever made. On one of my many trips to Ethiopia around 2012, I managed to get an Ethiopian one cent coin - 1/100 of an Ethiopian birr. It is made of aluminum and is smaller than a US dime.  At the time, the exchange rate was 1 US dollar = 15 Ethiopian birr, which gave this coin a face value of  0.067 US cents. 

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Revenant, I used to pull shillings and florins out of change with my Dad, the latter being almost the largest coin in circulation after decimalisation in 1971 (the end of the half-crown) as here in the UK we didn't really have silver dollar sized coins in day-to-day usage even long before that so I guess I never really got to see many large coins and they just seem 'too big' to me. Patience I have but time is catching up with me xD

Iceman, your iceland collection is impressive and your knowledge on the subject must be extremely comprehensive and it wouldn't surprise me if 'The Coinage of Iceland and Greeland' by O. B. Carlson could do with an update as it was published in 1962! Price guides do seem to make many assumptions, particularly on the grades available, which as a collector you rapidly find out that reality can be very different and this coupled with the fact that many reference books for world coins seem to be from the 1960's and 1970's or may even just be the auction catalogue of a specific collection. Fortunately we have access to much more information today with auction records being on-line etc but it does take time to find and understand it.

CBC, as you say there are some very small coins out there and some are amazingly thin, Napoleonic 1/4 francs and Victorian Ceylon 10 cents spring to mind, and personally I find that when they are in slabs I do not worry about dropping them or losing them xD

 

 

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On 2/9/2020 at 6:29 PM, ColonialCoinsUK said:

Iceman, your iceland collection is impressive and your knowledge on the subject must be extremely comprehensive and it wouldn't surprise me if 'The Coinage of Iceland and Greeland' by O. B. Carlson could do with an update as it was published in 1962! Price guides do seem to make many assumptions, particularly on the grades available, which as a collector you rapidly find out that reality can be very different and this coupled with the fact that many reference books for world coins seem to be from the 1960's and 1970's or may even just be the auction catalogue of a specific collection. Fortunately we have access to much more information today with auction records being on-line etc but it does take time to find and understand it.

 

Thank you...It took a long time to complete to its present completion. I have Carlson's little book and it doesn't say much about them and we need to put something more comprehensive and up to date about Icelandic coins. Krause is no help either and it doesn't reflect the rarity or scarcity of any of the coins in the Kingdom Era. I have a publication in German that is no help either and I have been toying with the idea of putting together a small book about this Era of Icelandic coins I even have the Icelandic publication put out by the National bank of Iceland and they are not much help ...I have found some unpublished varieties and a few other things that are not in any books that I know of ...I might have some time in the next six months to devote To this....:)    

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On 2/13/2020 at 10:34 PM, Iceman said:

Thank you...It took a long time to complete to its present completion. I have Carlson's little book and it doesn't say much about them and we need to put something more comprehensive and up to date about Icelandic coins. Krause is no help either and it doesn't reflect the rarity or scarcity of any of the coins in the Kingdom Era. I have a publication in German that is no help either and I have been toying with the idea of putting together a small book about this Era of Icelandic coins I even have the Icelandic publication put out by the National bank of Iceland and they are not much help ...I have found some unpublished varieties and a few other things that are not in any books that I know of ...I might have some time in the next six months to devote To this....:)    


Sounds like a plan and a project, it would be great to collate all the knowledge in one place to get a good understanding of the real situation as this would be of immense value to collectors and auction houses everywhere.

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