Mr. Smith Guesser

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  1. I've had Shane auction off a few of my coins a long time ago. Most recently, I had him auction off about 80 high grade Roosevelt dimes. The coins were auction back in February/March. I gave Shane a month to allow for returns. Then emailed him about payment, but didn't hear back immediately. On May 14th, I emailed him again. This time he said that he would get the spreadsheet together and get me paid. Here it is June 4 and I have not heard back from him since. I sent two emails this morning without a response. Has anyone else had this problem with Kryptonitecomics before?
  2. The 1943 through 1974 Mexican 20 centavo, sometimes called the Pyramid Of The Sun (POTS) coin is one of my favorite world coins. Its design is a composition of historic, mythologic, and esoteric elements that work in concert to create one of the most attractive modern coins of the 20th century. The Mexican 20 centavo denomination was first produced in 1898. This coin was minted with a 90% silver content with actual silver weight of 0.16 ounces. Monetary reforms in the early 20th century, however, began to reduce the precious metal content of all Mexican coins. By WWII, the average silver content in Mexican coins fell by 65%. And in 1943, silver was completely eliminated from the 20 centavo denomination. Which is where the story of the POTS coin begins... The Pyramid Of The Sun Coin On August 3, 1943 Mexican President Manuel Ávila Camacho authorized the issuance of the new bronze 20 centavo to be designed by Chief Engraver of the Mexican Mint. In his book Numismatic History of Mexico from 1823-1950 (1957), Alberto Francisco Pradeau tells us of the POTS coin, “The dies of this coin were made by the engraver of the mint of Mexico, Manuel Luna Negrete, with the help of his assistant, Francisco Rivera Paniagua”¹ ¹ Translated from spanish: “Los cuños de esta moneda fueron hechos por el grabador de la ceca de México, Manuel Luna Negrete, con la colaboración de su ayudante, Francisco Rivera Paniagua” Obverse Design The obverse of the POTS coin features the Mexican coat of arms: a Golden Eagle perched atop a prickly pear cactus on a stone in the water clutching a snake. This image is based on the legend of the holy city of Tenochtitlan, which goes something like this: Throughout the POTS coin series, the design of the Mexican coat of arms on the obverse would change three times, gradually becoming less detailed and more abstract. The first obverse (KM# 439) featured a redesign of the Mexican coat of arms, which became the official design approved by President Miguel Alemán Valdés in 1947. His successor, President Adolfo Ruiz Cortines approved another redesign for the Mexican coat of arms in 1955, which found its way onto the Type II (KM# 440) POTS coin in the middle of the 1955 production year. The Type III (KM# 441) obverse is a much less detailed version of the Mexican coat of arms. This version of the Mexican coat of arms, sometimes called the “black and white” version, is still used today to seal official documents. The more abstract and less-detailed Type III obverse (KM# 441) is quite easy to distinguish from the Type I and II designs, having very little relief. But the differences between Type I and II are less easy to see at first. The eagle in Type II is a bit larger, with its head raised a little higher and much less detail on the feathers than Type I. But the easiest way to distinguish between the designs of Type I and Type II are denticles around the outside perimeter of the coin. The Type I design has denticles. The Type II design does not. Reverse Design The reverse of the 1943 to 1974 Mexican 20 centavo is the coin's true highlight. In the January 1971 issue of Coins Magazine, Ralph Yates wrote that the reverse of the POTS coin was, “one of the most attractive scenes to appear on modern coinage in the Western Hemisphere.” At the center of the reverse stands the Pyramid of the Sun, the largest structure in and central focus of the city of Tenochtitlan, which is inscribed at the pyramid's base. Atop the Pyramid of the Sun is inscribed the word “LIBERTAD” (Liberty) upon an illuminated Phrygian Cap, a symbol of freedom. The cap divides the denomination “20” in front of rays of sun light from the background, representing enlightenment. In the foreground, a giant cactus rises from the desert on the left while the leaves of a prickly pear cactus shoot up on the right. Between the cactuses is the word “CENTAVOS” and year of issue. The Mexican Mint's mark (MO) is located immediately above the Pyramid of the Sun. Flanking the Pyramid of the Sun on both sides are two volcanoes. On the right is Popocatépetl (also called “the Smoking Mountain”), an active volcano. On the left, is the dormant Iztaccihuatl (also called “the White Woman”). These volcanoes are named after the tragic legend of two star-crossed lovers, which goes something like this: General Market Notes Mexican coins, in general, aren't the most popular with collectors today. And the few collectors who are interested in Mexico coins seem to be more attracted to the 19th and early 20th century gold and silver denominations like the real, escudo, and peso. This puts the Pyramid of the Sun coin pretty low on the overall desirably scale among the general collectors today. The Pyramid of the Sun coin was produced in large quantities. Nearly 900 million coins were produced in total throughout the entire POTS coin mintage. With such a high production and little overall desirability, most POTS coins have little numismatic value and will sell for less than $1. Only a few years in the best condition have any significant numismatic value. There are many POTS coins currently available at coin shops, numismatic shows, and online auctions. The large majority of these, however, have not survived the years in BU condition, particularly some the earlier dates. Perhaps the hardest date to be found in BU condition, and most valuable, is the 1951. Other early dates that less commonly found still in BU condition include 1943, 1946, and 1952. Later dates of the POTS coin that can be harder to find in BU are 1960, 1968, and 1959. Nevertheless, there are no dates that are impossible to find in BU condition. Other Interesting Tidbits Exonumia Use As previously mentioned, there were a lot of POTS coins minted. As a result, the 20 centavo has been widely used for exonumia. The most common exonumic application for the Mexican 20 centavos seem to be ashtrays. There are many examples of ashtrays made from the 20 centavo that can easily be found at many antique stores and online auction sites. There are many different styles, but the general designs are basically the same. I personally have three of these, one of which I actually do use as an ashtray. Other objects that have been made out of the POTS coin include a variety of jewelry, cufflinks, bolo ties, and even guitar picks. Ah, Ya Me Cayó El Veinte Years ago, before cell phones and communications giant Telmex, most people in Mexico used payphones. A caller would dial the number and then speak to the operator. The phone operator would ask the caller to pay for the call. Then, when the operator heard the coin drop they would connect your call. If the operator didn't hear the clang of the coin drop, they would ask the caller to try again. When the operator heard the coin drop, they would say something close to, “Ah, ya me cayó el veinte” or in English, “Oh, now I heard the twenty drop.” Over the years, this phrase came to be the English equivalent of “Oh, now I understand,” or “Now I get it.” Today, the Mexican phrase is not as widely used, although some Mexican people from older generations still use the phrase. Though completely different in meaning, the English term to “drop a dime” on someone (meaning to divulge or expose information about someone behind their back) also stems from the use of payphones, which at one point cost ten cents to use. If one person were to rat-out another, they might literally “drop a dime” into a payphone to make the call. Similarity to the Great Seal of the United States I am not sure if this is by design or just a coincidence, but the general design of the POTS coin has striking similarities to the Great Seal of the United States. As we've seen, the obverse of the POTS coin features an eagle, facing it's right, grasping a snake. Similarly, the obverse of The Great Seal of the U.S. features an eagle, facing it's right, grasping a banner. The reverse of the 20 centavo features an unfinished pyramid with an illuminated cap floating above it. Meanwhile, the reverse of The Great Seal of the U.S. also features an unfinished pyramid with an illuminated cap floating above it. Of course, there are many clear differences between the two designs. But overall, I think the similarities between the two are greater than the differences. Compare them for yourself: Summary The historic, mythologic, and esoteric design elements of the POTS coin make it one of my personal favorite coins of the 20th century. It is an extremely easy and affordable coin series to collect, aside from just a few dates, and makes for a great beginner collection. Thanks for reading. Further Reading Buttrey, Theodore V., A Guide Book of Mexican Coins, 1822 to Date, Western Publishing Co. Inc., Racine, WI, 1969. Long, Richard A., The Availability of 20th Century Mexican Coins, Gulf Coast Printing Co., Corpus Christi, TX, 1969. Pradeau, Alberto F., Numismatic History of Mexico from 1823-1950, 1957. Utberg, Neil S., The Coins of Mexico, 1536-1963, San Antonio, TX, 1963.
  3. For the past several months, I've been quite interested in the Cherrypickers' FS-901 variety found on the 1969-P, 1970-P, and 1970-D Roosevelt dimes. And I just wanted to post an update on what I've learned about the variety so far. If you're not already familiar with this variety, I'll quickly sum it up: There are two reverse design varieties found on 1969-P, 1970-P, and 1970-D Roosevelt dimes. The first is the correct reverse design intended for the dates, called RDV-001 by CONECA. The second, called RDV-002 by CONECA and listed as FS-901 in the Cherrypickers' Guide, was originally intended to be used on the 1968 proof reverse. However, the 1968 proof reverse somehow found its way onto 1969-P, 1970-P, and 1970-D business-struck Roosevelt dimes. The correct reverse (RDV-001) features the torch flame in low relief, while the 1968-S reverse (RDV-002 & FS-901) has two deeper valleys in the flame. The difference is obvious to the naked eye. It is believed (although unconfirmed) that in 1969 and 1970 the mints had a deficit of working reverse dies for Roosevelt dimes and simply made the decision to use surplus reverse dies, which just happened to be the 1968 proof reverse, to continue production. There is pretty good evidence that the use of the 1968 proof reverse was intentional. The variety is found on Roosevelts from both the Philadelphia and Denver mints, and across two years of production. It would be unlikely that an unintentional mistake would be made at both mints and across the two years. Furthermore, we can make the good assumption that there were in fact a significant number of surplus 1968 proof reverse dies; evident in the availability of mint cancelled 1968-S die and collar sets on the market. These are often still found for sale on eBay. After collecting this variety for the past several months, I've found a significant discrepancy in the availability of FS-901 across the three Roosevelt dates/mints. I've found that the 1970-D FS-901 is the easiest to find by far. Most of the 1970-D FS-901s that I've found have been well circulated, although uncirculated coins can be found with a little searching. The variety is impossible to see in this photo. But trust me, they're all well circulated 1970-D FS-901s. The 1970-P FS-901 is a bit harder to find in general. But I've found that, unlike its Denver counterpart, the 1970-P FS-901 is quite difficult to find uncirculated. I've been able to get my hands on a few very good AU examples, but have not been able to located a really nice MS coin. Then there's the 1969-P FS-901. After searching for this coin for nearly nine months, I haven't seen even a single example of this coin in any grade...not even in a photograph! In fact, the only evidence that I can find for the existence of the 1969-P FS-901 is in the writings of other authors and in the PCGS population report. (NGC doesn't recognize the variety) In total, PCGS has a population of only seven 1969-P FS-901s; three at MS 63 and four at MS 64. And no, there is no photograph of the coin on their website: http://www.pcgscoinfacts.com/Coin/Detail/511012?redir=t If you have a 1969-P FS-901, please post a photograph! It should also be noted that, even on the uncirculated 1970-D FS-901 coins, I have seen several with significant strike issues. I can only guess that this is a result of slight differences in the business and proof reverse dies, resulting in incorrect pressure. All uncirculated 1970-D FS-901 with reverse strike issues. I really like this variety because I find some humor in it. I like to imagine that someone at the Treasury Department was confronted with the reverse die dilemma and made the decision just to use the surplus 1968 proof reverse dies thinking, 'Eh, no one will notice. It's close enough.' I've had three uncirculated 1970-D FS-901s graded; one by PCGS and two others by ANACS, all graded MS 65: I've also just recently found a 1970-D graded MS 66 by PCGS and with the FS-901 variety; but the variety is undesignated. This coin is currently on its way back to PCGS for variety designation. Once designated, this coin will be top pop 1/3 (excluding one at MS 66 FB). Again, if you have a 1969-P FS-901, please post a photograph. I'd love to see it.
  4. Reading another post here I began to wonder about the process of metallurgical testing for collectable coins. I can't find too much online about the actual process. Does anyone know what is involved? How different is the metallurgical testing of collectable coins (done by a company like NGC) from the testing of coins at a mint? I'm assuming that mint assayers don't have to worry too much about damaging a coin; unlike NGC.