The Very First Coin I Purchased and a New Toy!

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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

My First Coin Purchase_1881-S_Morgan_Dollar.jpg

My First Coin Purchase_1881-S_Morgan_Dollar_Holder.jpg


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Have great fun with your new camera lens!  How is your photography on the road project going?

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5 hours ago, jgenn said:

Have great fun with your new camera lens!  How is your photography on the road project going?

My main concern for taking my photography on the road is the security of those coins left in my trust to photograph. After that its logistics, if I can't get all the pics edited on site, I need another way to get the customer their photos, mail/e-mail? The lens I bought is one piece of the puzzle because I never have to change lenses. Starting out I'll probably do local coin shows. Finally, I haven't decided what I will charge along with discounts for bulk orders. I want to make sure all my i's are dotted and the t's crossed before going on the road. I think I need to do more free trial runs for my local coin club. Gary 

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Hello my friend. You just opened a whole new world with that lens. You will see things you never saw before. It's a great tool for collectors. Enjoy it and let us know some of the things you find. Thanks. Mike

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