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Intentionally produced rarities

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I seem to have read a statement on this board a little while back that indicated that the Sac/Washington mules were the highest priced modern error coins - one sold for $56,350. Well the July 1 Coin World reports that at least 4 (why only 4?) of the mules were made and taken from the Mint illegally and the two coin press operators are getting turned into mincemeat for doing this for their personal gain. They could each spend tons of time in jail, be fined a gagillion dollars and made to use nothing but SBA dollars the rest of their lives. wink.gif

 

Wouldn't you love to be the current owner of these mules? frown.gif And what about all the other that has surfaced - two-tailed coins, etc? This makes me think of 1913 Liberty nickels - Are they really worth so much if they were produced as illegal coinage? I tend to think not. I can't even admire the specimens. I even feel similarly about the 1804 dollars.

 

Do you think intentionally produced rarities are worth more than the specie they are made of?

 

Hoot

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If it is found out that the mules were made intentonaly I would not classify them as real coins and I would also include the 1913 lib head nickel with that as illigaly produced coin. I would not include the 1804 dollar because the mint allowed the minting of them, true 20 years after the fact. That would be in the grey area. CHRIS

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Do any of us really know the exact circumstance behind the 1913 nickel? Who's to say the coin wasn't minted for assay commission purposes and then sold or given away after the series was switched to the Buff nickel? The 1804 dollar originals are presentation coins - perfectly legitimate. Do we know exactly what led to the creation of the 1884 and 85 trade dollars? No, but my personal guess is that the 1884's were minted in anticipation of selling them just like the 1883's - when the order came down not to release, they were all melted but ten. The 1885 is seemingly less legitimate, but nonetheless was only a piece of bullion at the time of issue - therefore not illegal if the bullion was replaced.

 

Before you look down on a rarity, ensure you know the exact circumstances of its creation. If you don't know, don't assume the worst!

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Intentionally produced rarities exist throughtout most hobbies. As with everything they are worth what someone will pay. I can't admire the 1913 V nickel because it is just like any other ugly V nickel, but with a different date. The 1804 $ is nice design, but it means nothing more to me than a 1803 $.

 

Since the mint knew these mintings were going on and they seemed to look the other way, I think they can be called legitmate coins.

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Why is it that the illegitimate in this collecting world are always treasured more than the legitimate?

 

This question is somewhat retorical but there seems to be some truth in this, maybe even more than the fact that they are most assuredly rarities. It seems that we as a nation of people, cherish more that which is forbidden fruit than that which is legitimate. Curious eh?

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I have commented previously in another thread that artificial or illegitimate rarities such as the 1804 $1, 1885 T$1, 1913 5c, 1866 No Motto seated dollar, some of the 1870-S coinage, etc. etc. get too much play to the detriment of TRUE regular issue rarities. It is (apparently) the very illegitimacy of these coins that gives them their additional compliment of value as "forbidden fruit."

 

I can name a dozen regular issue business strikes that are fabulously rare, and were not produced under suspicious circumstances. In some cases it is due to meltings (1933 $20, 1876-CC 20c), in other cases exceptionally low mintages.

 

There are even some business strikes with a survival rate of zero ... the 1873-S and 1895 dollars, for example. There is at least one other business strike "unknown in any collection" -- can you name it?

 

How about some nominations for rarest regular issue business strikes NOT produced under suspicious circumstances?

 

Sunnywood

 

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The 1873-CC Dime. The 1861 Paquet Dollar. The 1804 Quarter Eagle $2.50. The 1854-D $3 Gold. The 1825, 5 over 4 Half Eagle $5.00. Almost all the $10.00 Eagles from 1803 to 1879-O. The 1927-D St. Gauden $20.

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Why limit it to business strikes? The 1894-S dime was legitimately minted - reported in the mint's records and specimens sent to the assay commission. The 1838-O half was legitimate also. The 1827 quarter is another proof issue.

 

The 1802 half dime, the 1823 quarter, the 1853-O no arrows half are all legitimate circ strike rarities.

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Well I've meant to get back to this one for a while and here are a couple of tidbits.

 

The most exciting thing I've seen lately is the announcement of the second Secret Service investigation of the 1959-D 1 cent mule - normal Lincoln obverse and wheat reverse. This coin appears to have no history of production, although who knows? It probably was produced under less-than-honest circumstances. Fairly interesting story, however, in July 8 Coin World. It is doubley interesting that none of the big grading companies will grade it, although the authentication by the Secret Service takes the highest precedence. Ira and Larry Goldberg will be auctioning this muley in September, so it should provide some significant amusement.

 

"Do any of us really know the exact circumstance behind the 1913 nickel? Who's to say the coin wasn't minted for assay commission purposes and then sold or given away after the series was switched to the Buff nickel?"

 

As for the 1913 Liberty head nickel, there appears to be ample evidence that it was produced illegally as a benefit or favor to Sam Brown, a "former Assistant Curator of the Mint Cabinet Collections and in 1912-13 Clerk or Storekeeper of the Mint" (ex. Breen 1988). Afterall, he just happened to concoct the "advertisement" for these nickels that yielded 5, the ONLY 5 specimens! And, oh gee, they were proof! What a joke. If these coins did indeed pass through the assay office, then magically appear in the hands of Brown, then that exchange was culprit to a multimillion dollar scam (ultimately).

 

"Do we know exactly what led to the creation of the 1884 and 85 trade dollars?"

 

No, but Breen states rather strongly that the 1884 issues were "clandestine concoctions" for Wm. Idler, "who had been for over two decades the Mint's appropriately named fence for restrikes and fantasy coins." And he further quips that the 1885 issues were also clandestine.

 

It isn't that I think that these coins are lousey (or that Breen is the final word) but the disparity that such issues create in the market for rare, legitimately documented strikes (business or proof) is too often relented, especially when affluence has the final word. I rather side with my interests in what I perceive as legitimate rarity (as Sunnywood and Oldtrader remarked), that is all.

 

As for TDN and his wonderful collection of Trade Dollars, I think that the endeavor is spectacular, albeit I am glad that the '84 and '85 issues don't count in the registry rankings. Truly, in terms of the completeness of the series, I think that it includes those issues even though they are suspicious in origin. My reason is simple: the government has apparently sanctioned their private ownership despite their probable illegitimate origins.

 

Oh well, I've rambled way too much here.

 

Hoot

 

 

 

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Legitimacy is in degrees. By this I mean that it all comes down to circumstances that we guess at, not that we know for sure.

 

Take my newest coin - the Norweb 1838-O half. It was minted as a presentation piece for dignitaries to celebrate the New Orleans mint's production of half dollars. The ONLY record of this is an old letter presented with one of the coins at auction in the 1890's - the letter stated the coin was presented to so and so and that it would be proper to state that not more than twenty were struck. Here is a presentation coin struck for a proper purpose - much like the 1827 quarters (we guess!), the original 1804 dollars and the 1870-S dollars. Are these legitimate? The use was proper, but they certainly didn't intend them to circulate!

 

How about the 1894-S dime? All of the above AND examples were sent to the assay commission and recorded as a mintage by the San Francisco mint. But they certainly weren't meant to circulate.

 

The point is - if the mint does this once, you could consider the coins illegitimate. But there is a VERY LONG HISTORY, dating back to the very early days of the mint, of creating presentation pieces for dignitaries and special events. I would argue that the fact that it was common practice makes these coins proper and acceptable and the fact that they've historically been accepted by the numismatic community adds weight to my assertion!

 

BTW - the last guy I'd believe is Breen - he made wayyyy too many mistakes and made things up to suit his theories!

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"Legitimacy is in degrees."

 

I could not agree more. I have always been perplexed, however, as to why it has been more legitimate for a foreign dignitary (perhaps any dignitary for that matter) to own a US coin (particularly one of special mintage), than your average US citizen. The Mint's elitist contributions in that regared are a bit deplorable. So tradition be damned as far as I'm concerned with that one.

 

In that vein, why not produce a special medal for a dignitary, as that seems more the realm of medals. Why not provide a gift of a proof set that was otherwise intended for US citizens? My issue is not with circulation vs proof strikes, rather it is with indulgences of elitism. And I suppose that degrees of legitimacy apply on all levels of that argument, so perhaps it cannot be unmeshed in the subduction of our arguments. HA!

 

I have more of a wild hair growing for the coins that appeared without chain of custody and without legitimate cause (accepting the argument that production for dignitaries is legit.). If we have to speculate on whether the coins were ever intended for a sanctioned purpose, or if we cannot rationally defend the production of an error, then (from me) this squeezes out any valuation for that coin.

 

Hoot

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I certainly tend to agree. To me a coin is only a coin to the degree to which it circulated or could have circulated. Intentionally produced errors are another form of NCLT, and sometimes not even Legal Tender.

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Different strokes .... but I personally agree with Sunnywood. The coins that interest me are the coins made for circulation that through various circumstances (small mintage, large meltage, worn in circulation, etc.) are exceedingly rare today. Coins made under "special" circumstances or purposely made in small numbers to "create" a unique coin just don't do it for me. I view presentation coins (coins made solely for presentation purposes like the 1804 Dollar) or coins that were made for assay purposes but not struck for circulation as medals more than coins.

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I concur mostly with pmh1nic.

 

The only point at which I differ is that I think assay coins made for coins intended to be struck for circulation have more legitimacy as "real coins" than patterns and fantasy pieces. So, for example, if a branch mint struck assay coins they intended to release, then something intervened (like the Coinage Act of 1873) to change standard weights, I consider the coin a legitimate made-for-circulation coin. The 1870-S half dime may be an example of this. From what I understand the San Francisco branch mint intended to strike them for circulation but never did. I doubt the assay piece was struck clandestinely to sell to a collector. I view coins that fall under the latter category as medals.

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littlewincher

 

I'll backtrack a little and agree with you that assay coins that were struck in cases where for whatever reasons circulation pieces were never minted are much more historically significant (IMHO) than the pieces struck sole for presentation purposes or those "very rare" coins made under somewhat "shady" circumstances.

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So you dismiss pattern coins as insignificant? I would agree that "fantasy" pieces and pattern restrikes are not as important but true prototypes and transitional issues are not only very rare, they are historically significant.

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Boiler78

 

Boy, I'm doing a lot of backtracking today. Insignificant is too strong a word. I own a copy of Judd's "United States Pattern, Experimental and Trial Pieces" (1959 1st Edition) and have enjoyed studying the concepts and transitions that led from patterns to the coins that eventually were issued. In some cases I preferred some of the patterns over what ended up being the circulation issue. That said, for me there is a special attraction to circulation coins just because they were used by the people of a particular time period and there is a stronger sense of identification between the coin and the time period.

 

Patterns aren't insignificant.

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Comment on the 1913 V nickels.

 

They could NOT have been assay pieces or legitimate strikings. At that time the mint was actually obeying the law that said coins had to bear on them the year they were struck so they did not start striking new coins until after the first of the year. (Unlike today where they strike and stockpile and say they are legal since they weren't released util after Jan 1.) They did how ever produce the dies for the following year. Now to be legitimate coins then they would have had to been stuck in 1913, but on Dec 12th 1912 the mint received orders not to do anything on nickel production until the new Indian Head design was ready. So at that point they knew there would be no 1913 V nickel production. The Philadelphia 1913 V Nickel dies were destroyed on Dec 16th 1912. Well before they could have been used to strike legitimate coins. The 1913-S V nickel dies which had been shipped before the Dec 12th notice were returned and destroyed on Dec 25th 1912. The 1913 V nickels couldn't have been assay pieces because the assay coins are randomly selected specimens of the actual production coinage. But since there was no production coinage, there were no assay coins.

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Guys just a few things that I think you might be intrested in. This months COINAGE mag(sept.) has 3 articals on just this topic. one piesel deals with the history oclandestine coinage, another one deals with the legal problem of ownig them in general(1964 peace dollar as an example, and the last one deals with the ownership of the ten known washington/sac mules.

Also as anyone looked at this site dealing with pattern coins? Chris.

http://uspatterns.com/uspatterns/index.html

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