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I think Breen is wrong about 2-Cent SM mintage guess

5 posts in this topic

I think the mintage of the 1864 2-Cent Small Motto are more likely about 6+ times (about 18000-20000 minted) versus Breen's guess of a few(? - I forget his exact words) thousand before they switched dies.


I don't have strong proof, just circumstantial evidence. Here it goes:


Usually, coins of the mid-1800's would (as a guess) have a survival rate of no better than 50% for surviving until today. Some might say, it's more like 10% or less. Let's just say for argument's sake 50%. Let's say they minted 3000 Small Motto's. That leaves 1500 floating around today. Of those 1500, about half are probably in terrible shape (corroded, pitted, damaged, etc.). That leaves about 750 in decent collectible condition of AG+.


In the 2+ years I've been combing through auctions and dealer listings, I've seen many Small Motto's come up for sale. Usually there in low grades and look terrible. The rest of the time, they're very high grades meant for the well healed collector. Most of the stuff I see is also raw. NGC shows under 500 graded. I'm guessing that PCGS and ANACS are about the same for a total of 1500 graded. Divide that by half for resubmits and I'll guess that at least 750 are in slabs (which seems low).


There's a good chance, even at a small show of finding one or more SM's at a table or two. I've been to a local show where a dealer had a stack of them for sale. But, all of them sucked. Miller's Mint, L&C, eBay, etc. many times have multiples for sale. Jack Beymer even had several about a month ago or so.


Just by the empirical evidence of relative availability states that this coin is much more common than a coin where only 1500 survive. Even if all 3000 survive....or let's go crazy 5000 survive, it seems like it's still too available. Now, I'll grant you, finding a decent mid-grade specimen is quite a challenge. I should know, I finally got one this week after over 2 years of serious searching.


Also, you have to take into account that there are more than a handful of serious collections out there with this coin already in it that are simply off the market and have been so for awhile. I would guess that there's got to be at least several hundred off of the market if not more.


Moreover, the 1872 coin seems to be even LESS available than the SM and about 65000 were minted of those. That's one VERY difficult coin to find on a decent planchet without problems in ANY grade.


I could be off my rocker, but if I were to guess, I'd say either the dies were used longer than the Mint records show or something else is amiss. Anyone else want to shed some light on this? Go ahead and call me all wet; I can take it!



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I don't think anybody else has looked into it or thought about it. But, you definitely make a convincing post. Why don't you send this into the ANA and maybe they will put it in the Numismatist? It's worth a try as a letter to the editor at least.




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What's "funny" is that I've had only a couple other responses to this ("across the street") but essentially no serious dialogue at all. And, as you can tell, you're the only person, so far, on this board to respond at all. Yes, I do think I'm onto something and I'm considering sending this in as a guest editorial to Coin World as I've yet to join ANA (maybe at the end of the year, though). In fact, there's a Coin World article that just came out noting the same exact "fact" expressed by Breen about the Small Motto mintage. I think it's rubbish, the more I see the availability of these coins (even though most are really crappy).

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BCG - Two cent pieces are a realm of specialty that few here or anywhere truly possess. Your post is interesting and compelling. I'll only offer a rhetorical reply, in that there are so few collectors of 2 centers and there's a premium associated with the SM mintage, so this brings to the fore more pieces than one might otherwise expect. I'd imagine that if other pieces in the series fetched some kind of premium in low and mid grades, there'd be more of those found on a bourse floor as well.


As for Breen, it's a well known fact that the man flew by the seat of his pants on a number of "facts," so his "estimate" may have been no estimate at all, rather a conjecture based on little experience with the SM coins. That could also have been due to a lack of interest in the series.


Just some thoughts. Thanks for your post.



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In response to Hoot's post, there are only (24) NGC registry sets of 2-cent business strikes which is a pretty small number for a short set like this with most coins available in MS grades.


I heard that there is an "updated" edition of Breen's book that corrects many of the errors of the original. Does anyone know the edition number of the revision?

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