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World modern set challenge

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As a follow-up to the recent thread, I thought I would start a topic where anyone could document any world modern sets they are pursuing. To (hopefully) show I am (somewhat) open minded, I will start with Bolivia which I have described below. If there is any interest, when I finish this one, I will try another.


My goal here will be to collect as many of these coins as I can find in "BU" up to June 30, 2014. This will include all circulation strikes but not patterns, proofs, specimens or NCLT.


Moderns commence from 1918 when defined as exclusive base metal coinage. No coins were struck between 1910 and 1917 and from 1918 to 1967, also few issues. Why, I do not know but I suspect that many foreign issues and from the pre-decimal era (1863 and prior) concurrently circulated with silver decimals. Kent Ponterio (now of Stacks & Bowers) once told me that the pillar minors (1767-1770) were still circulating in the early 20th century.


Of the approximately 30 issues struck during this period, most seem to be either common or very common. The 1937 50c is probably the scarcest and its hard to find in any better grade. The 1918 and 1919 5c and 10c plus the 1942 10c and 20c in high grades are somewhat scarce but hardly rare. The 1939 10c and 50c, 1942 50c and the 1951 Boliviano, 5B and 10B are very common. I have seen all of these coins in better MS grades more times than I can even remember.


Post 1964, numerous denominations have been struck in many but not most years. How scarce they are, I do not know either because I have never really looked for them. A few are probably hard to find in UNC or BU but the balance not hard at all because they are recently issued. The issues prior to the hyperinflation of the 1980's might have been melted in large numbers (I do not know), but I do not believe since. On all my trips since 1997, there seems to be a shortage, especially for the smallest denominations.


Here is what I own at this time:


1937 10C NGC MS-66 4015989-047

1939 10C PCGS MS-65

1939 50C NGC MS-66

1942 50C PCGS MS-66 RD (Bronze)

1951 Boliviano NGC MS-66 RD

1951 5B NGC MS-66 RD

1951 10B NGC MS-63 RD

1972 Peso NGC MS-63 3499074-004


1935 5C, 1936 10C "BU" and very choice. These I believe are not scarce but more so than those I have except for the 1937 10C.


1987 (all denominations), 2008 10C, 2008 1B, 2008 20C, 2004 5B, 2004 1B, 2006 1B, 2008 50C, 2010 50C, 2010 2B. All of these in BU or near it.


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Just remember that very few moderns are scarce in circulated condition because almost all have been minted in huge numbers. It's only the nice attractive BU (full MS-61 and up with completely unbroken luster) that can be so scarce. My knowledge of Bolivian coinage is very shallow but I believe you'll find most dates either common or unavailable at all. Just like most countries either massive quantities were saved by 1 to 5 entities or none were saved. I don't recall ever seeing a 1971 20c for instance. This doesn't mean it has to be rare for the reasons we've discussed many times but it's a virtual certainty that most of the issues never seen are never seen because they don't exist. I have hoards of very very few moderns and these are probably all common or there would be no hoard.


I love your little experiment here but would give you great odds that it will be an utter failure. It will fail for the exact same reasons that these coins were never saved; nobody cares about modern junk. Collectors wouldn't assemble a set of moderns on a bet. Prices aren't soaring because demand is high, prices are soaring because a handfull of collectors can't find any coins at all.


Good luck. Maybe this will even be the foundation of an extremely important collection of modern Bolivian coins in a few decades.

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I just did a quick search of the net for a '71 20c and there were virtually no coins at all from the series. The closest thing is a '67 in XF from an Argentian source for $13+. The '67 is fairly "common" in Unc with several thousand existing in the US alone based on how frequently I've seen it. It could even be a hoard coin though if memory serves it's not as common as the '65.


Remember that a lot of moderns have been officially demonetized and then melted. Many others have simply been demonetized unofficially by becoming worthless and most of these end up in the garbage stream after several years. In some countries, like India, many of these coins are withdrawn by people who use them to make consumer products. In other cases the coins are made of such cheap material that they simply can't stand the rigors of circulation and virtually "evaporate".


Of course there are other cases where the coins pass out of circulation but aren't recalled or destroyed and these will usually be very common because not everyone throws them away. But these coins can each and all be heavily worn.

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I have no idea but I just thought it would be an interesting experiment per the posts we recently exchanged. Its not really a "bet" to prove whether the coins are or are not available. I am not going to pay a lot of money for any of these coins anyway but do not mind buying them at nominal prices.


What I suspect is that the issues between 1968 and 1987 are going to be scarcer than the others for the reason you gave. 1968 was the first peso coined which replaced the Boliviano. In 1987 or thereabouts, the "new" Boliviano was introduced. In my limited ebay searches, I saw some seller from Singapore offering either 1000 for one of these (1987) denominations or even the entire set. So obviously, it is a hoard coin.


I know that Bolivia experienced a form of hyperinflation in the 1980's because I distinctly remember reading that currency notes temporarily represented the fourth largest import (from Germany), an absolutely absurd waste of resources. So I presume that when the new Boliviano was introduced that the old notes were recalled and probably many of the coins melted, though I expect if anyone has them they can still be spent.


The others where I think I might have some difficulty is the 1937 50C and 1918 and 1919 5C and 10C. Heritage offered the BU or at least UNC Norweb 1937 as part of group lot earlier this year but I was outbid. The three coin lot sold for about $100 ungraded. The NGC or PCGS MS-66 sold on eBay for somewhat over $100 either last year or earlier this year and I lost out also. The other two, I see them in low grades frequently but do not recall them in high grade that often.


But in any event, if there are others who would like to participate, I thought this could be an on-going thread. And if not, that is ok also.

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I have no idea but I just thought it would be an interesting experiment per the posts we recently exchanged. Its not really a "bet" to prove whether the coins are or are not available. I am not going to pay a lot of money for any of these coins anyway but do not mind buying them at nominal prices.


With a lot of these coins it's really pretty difficult to pay much. They list in Krause for a dollar or two and sellers have no idea that they are rare. The difficulty with buying the coins is that you just can't find them but when you finally do they tend to be very inexpensive. Not one single base metal Bolivian coin from after WW II lists over $10.


I have my best luck finding them in old collections. A lot of this stuff trades for almost nothing and usually isn't worth much but any collector who valued uncs just might have a few scarcer coins in the set. It's so frustrating looking through collections that weren't assembled with an eye toward Unc because there will be some really scarce coins but they'll be XF or AU and these are unlikely to get much demand until people just can't afford Uncs.


You list some really interesting coins by the way. I'd certainly pickup any cu/ ni in Unc even if it's pre-war. I just doubt any of the pre-war stuff will be rare but little of the base metal coins are common. I know those '35 and '36 issues are tough.


What is the '72 1B you list?

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Sorry, the 1972 is a peso, not a Boliviano. It was a "typo". I bought it last week on eBay for $12.50 including shipping. I included the serial numbers in case you or anyone else want to view the NGC images. I forgot to write down the others and they are in my safety deposit box.


For the graded pieces outside this one, I paid $25 to $35 for each of them except the 1942 PCGS MS-66 RD 50C which cost me $77. In my opinion, I paid too much for it but I want RD for all the bronze and its a very choice piece. So I do not mind.


I don't think the 1936 10C is that scarce but the 1935 might be. I estimate the grade of the 1936 I have as a 64 to 66. I haven't looked at it under magnification yet. The 1935 5C I also bought (ungraded) in the last week on eBay and paid $25 for it. I received it on Monday. Far above the catalog I'm sure (whatever it is), but it is definitely a "gem".


For all of these coins, I know that the prices are above catalog. I point this out so that you know that I do not mind paying more if the coin is a good one, even for a modern, just not "a lot".


The 1965 and later dates, I saw many of them on eBay recently. (I did not see the 1971's either.) Even though the prices are low, the shipping can make it uneconomical. Sometimes more than the coin which is annoying. I am going to look at prioritizing the pre-1987 issues first, I suspect I can buy most of the others with less effort and I do not believe most of them should sell for more than $1 or $2 even in BU.


Not sure what opportunity you have to look at coins in person first, but I do not expect much here, even though I live in the metro ATL area now. I have not been to any B&M anywhere except maybe twice in the last 20 years. I'll have to see who is still around and where they are located.

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