Recently I bought a new macro lens for my camera. The lens is a Laowa V-DX 60MM F2.8 Macro 2:1. Now I know I already have a macro lens but if I am ever going to take my coin photography on the road, I will need a much more versatile lens.
For versatility this lens is it. I can focus in as close as 18.5cm and as far as infinity. At 18.5cm I have 2-1 magnification. The only drawbacks are that I have to focus manually and set the aperture manually. No big deal on those since I already do that. The big plus is that one lens will do a 15mm gold dollar and a 131mm medal from my camera stand.
As with any new toy of this nature there is a learning curve to get the pictures just right. This gave me an opportunity to upgrade many of my poorer quality pictures. Looking through my collection I decided to re-image the first coin I ever bought, an 1881-S proof-like Morgan Dollar. I bought this coin as a teen and still own it today as a 60-something retiree.
Oh the memories! I bought the Morgan for only $12 along with a gold-plated Ike dollar, A 1953c star crisp-uncirculated $2 bill, and a number of replica fractional California gold pieces. Of these I still own the $2 and probably the others but I can’t find them.
What was really cool about this coin purchase was that I didn’t buy the coins from a dealer but from a camera store! I have always loved photography and in high school we had a fully equipped dark room that I could use. For me to be in one place that had both photography supplies and coins was tantamount to a kid in a candy store!
That this Morgan Dollar only cost me 6 hours of “busting suds” for a restaurant at $2/hour was incredible. I just couldn’t believe it cost so little for a proof-like coin that was silver and nearly 100 years old. Oh the naivety of youth. Little did I know then that 81-S Morgan’s are quite common and inexpensive to obtain. However, at the time I thought I pulled off the coin purchasing coup of the century!
I have never regretted buying that coin and I’ll probably die owning it. Some time back I sent it to PCGS for grading and they sent it back as cleaned without putting it in a holder. Back then they didn’t do details-grading. On the obverse of my coin you will notice cleaning hairlines under the “us” of Pluribus. Oddly, I didn’t notice the cleaning until PCGS pointed it out. This was only the beginning of my education identifying coin cleaning BEFORE sending them in for grading.
Later I sent my 81-S Morgan to a company call NTC (Numistrust Corp.) for grading. They didn’t document the cleaning and sent it back as MS-63 DMPL. I agree with this grade and have never cracked it out and probably never will. Over the years my 1881-S has lightly toned. Incidentally, since then I only send coins to NGC for grading and will buy only PCGS and NGC certified coins.
At any rate thanks for taking a walk with me down memory lane! For your viewing pleasure please enjoy a picture of the first coin I ever bought taken with my new toy! Also, for your viewing pleasure is a close-up of an 1880/79-CC VAM-7 Morgan dollar. As you can see my new toy will do nicely. Gary