Another new book - Saudi Gold - Draft cover design
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Now that the Fads, Fakes & Foibles book is out for printing estimates, work moves to the next publication. This one is about 80% complete and covers the gold discs made for Saudi Arabia, the various "gold standards," gold and silver nationalization, the US Mints during their 'starvation period' between the wars and several other subjects of diverse collector interest. Saudi Gold  and other Tales from the Mint.

Cover - Saudi Gold v03-sm.jpg

Comments appreciated. Once this is complete, I plan to pause to assess where things are and if additional books are wanted (i.e., will collector buy) by the hobby.

Edited by RWB
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The Saudi discs amounted to only a few million dollars, but their origin is unusual and makes a fascinating story.

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21 hours ago, RWB said:

Once this is complete, I plan to pause to assess where things are and if additional books are wanted (i.e., will collector buy) by the hobby.

Ever thought about tackling a book about the history of US collecting or parts of it?  Not sure what you have written or what else is out there on this subject. 

I have read most of the articles written by Harvey Stack on Coin Week covering year-by-year highlights of his experiences as a dealer and auctioneer.  Fascinating stuff and I'm sure he could write a really interesting book.  It would be a real shame if his recollections over the last 70+ years are lost later.  (Bowers probably has written on this subject but can't remember.)

There is also the book on the Norwebs.  I downloaded the ebook but haven't read it.

For specific coins, most of what interests me most is off the beaten track and not of much interest to most (US) collectors.  I don't know what is already available all the time either.

I have the most recent references on my primary series and both are quite good.  I'd also like to buy the The Washington Pattern Coinage of Peter Getz, Bowers book on the 1822 Half Eagle and something on the CSA half dollar.  Saw a paper back on Amazon for the last one but not sure how good.  I have never seen the other two for sale.

The references most US collectors buy (or want) on the more widely collected series (not just the most common) are of no interest to me.  I'm never going to buy this coinage, the coins aren't interesting enough to me most of the time, and I would rather spend the money on my collection or reference material (auction catalogs) related to it.  

If someone were to write a well researched book along the lines of Yonaka's on pillars for a US series that I could use as comparative data, I'd be interested but not otherwise.  Best example is on the Liberty Seated denominations.  I know there are references but don't know if the author performed an extensive survey to more accurately estimate scarcity as he did.  I've seen the estimates on Coin Facts but don't place much reliance on it.

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Most of the more recent books on coin series have a certain amount of original research in them. But, all the authors face the same problem: much of the mint archive material is not digitized and inaccessible on a practical level. There are several wealthy collectors and hobby businesses that could easily finance an extensive digitization program (think of Ancestry and census records), but only the Newman Foundation does anything. Even after "everything" is digitized, much remains hidden because it is in manuscript or poor quality presscopy (or carbons).

Personally, I have limited interest in the dealers or collectors of the past, except relating to specific situations. So, a current project is understanding the restriking of circulation and pattern pieces in the 19th century. Dealer and collector documents are important sources, but it does not matter if one was an amateur musician and another owned a brothel. Coin dealers are a problems because most lied to suit their purposes, destroyed information, manipulated events, engaged in shady deals, and otherwise were untrustworthy. What did Abe Kosoff want to hide when he destroyed all of his papers and records before his death?

Dave Bowers would the a good person to assemble the kind of book(s) you mention - and he has a lot of material.

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I'd be interested in a book on territorial gold.  I was just reading a Doug Winter article on Coin Week where he claims the last one was written in the 1980's.  Don't know how good it is, how expensive or how hard to buy.

My search results also showed another on fractional gold for $125.  No interest in those coins.

The only coin I'd likely ever consider buying is one of the more common US Assay $20.  However, I am interested in the others and would pay for a book, except for fractional gold. 

Similar idea for colonials, though I infer you don't have any interest in this area or would have limited success locating adequate source material.

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1 hour ago, Insider said:

I'm a buyer too!  Are you going to have micrographs of the discs?

No photomicrographs, sorry. The focus is not counterfeit detection but background. There is a little on counterfeiting both contemporary and modern. Unfortunately, we don't have a solid base of known originals (pieces from the original two shipments of 4-sovereign version) and that makes things a lot more speculative. While there are fakes that came from John Ford, Jr. and his "Factory of Fakes," most counterfeits were made from good 0.917 gold, and the design is easy to duplicate on both 1 and 4 sovereign discs. (The same eagle hub was supposed to be used according to Engraver Sinnock.)

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I can see how detailing the genuine dies would not fit into the scope of your book; but the tale of J. Ford would.  Apparently you believe Ford was involved in producing some of the counterfeits of this series.  I don't recall the hubs being identicalon the two denominations.  I'll check on this and let you know. 

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Well, I just finished reading 'Girl On The Silver Dollar' and really enjoyed it.  Very well written and full of historical items that made it a pleasure to read.  I look forward to this new book.

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15 hours ago, RWB said:

Coin dealers are a problems because most lied to suit their purposes, destroyed information, manipulated events, engaged in shady deals, and otherwise were untrustworthy. What did Abe Kosoff want to hide when he destroyed all of his papers and records before his death?

 

This is true but, as it is said, there are two sides to every story and I would always be interested in hearing theres, warts and all.

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15 hours ago, RWB said:

Personally, I have limited interest in the dealers or collectors of the past, except relating to specific situations. So, a current project is understanding the restriking of circulation and pattern pieces in the 19th century. Dealer and collector documents are important sources, but it does not matter if one was an amateur musician and another owned a brothel. Coin dealers are a problems because most lied to suit their purposes, destroyed information, manipulated events, engaged in shady deals, and otherwise were untrustworthy. What did Abe Kosoff want to hide when he destroyed all of his papers and records before his death? 

 

You had some good information and anectdotes in your Saints book from dealers.  I think what you said about dealers could be said about ANYBODY dealing in a cutthroat business like coins.

As for Kosoff hiding stuff by destroying information...who knows ?  Maybe he didn't want to embarass surviving dealers or friends.  Maybe there was sensitive information about how he fleeced some unsuspecting dealer years ago who later became a good friend.  Maybe he didn't want the government to know about some of his trade secrets.  Lots of people destroy information during and after their lifetimes.

Personally, while I always took them with a grain of salt, I liked hearing about the dealings and activities of coin dealers, especially after seismic events like the 1933 ban on gold and the end of fixed exchange rates in 1971 and subsequent re-allowing of gold purchases.

Edited by GoldFinger1969
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1 hour ago, GoldFinger1969 said:

 

You had some good information and anectdotes in your Saints book from dealers.  I think what you said about dealers could be said about ANYBODY dealing in a cutthroat business like coins.

As for Kosoff hiding stuff by destroying information...who knows ?  Maybe he didn't want to embarass surviving dealers or friends.  Maybe there was sensitive information about how he fleeced some unsuspecting dealer years ago who later became a good friend.  Maybe he didn't want the government to know about some of his trade secrets.  Lots of people destroy information during and after their lifetimes.

Personally, while I always took them with a grain of salt, I liked hearing about the dealings and activities of coin dealers, especially after seismic events like the 1933 ban on gold and the end of fixed exchange rates in 1971 and subsequent re-allowing of gold purchases.

The reason I suggested aspects from the history of US collecting is because the personalities are usually a lot more interesting than most of the coins most collectors collect.

Now, "interesting" is a relative and subjective concept but studying mint manufacturing methods, die varieties, grading details under recent applications of the Sheldon scale in US collecting or similar minutia (which is exactly what it is) is about as interesting to most people as watching paint dry or traffic lights change.  Coin collectors are presumably more interested in history than the general population but still only a minority.

I believe I'd probably find RWB's most recent book interesting but I don't spend money on unrelated areas to what I collect, with a few exceptions such as those I described.  I don't do it because I have a limited collecting budget and it's easy to cumulatively spend thousands over your life which I could use on my collection.

Edited by World Colonial
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13 hours ago, Insider said:

I can see how detailing the genuine dies would not fit into the scope of your book; but the tale of J. Ford would.  Apparently you believe Ford was involved in producing some of the counterfeits of this series.  I don't recall the hubs being identicalon the two denominations.  I'll check on this and let you know. 

Ford's calumnies are examined to some degree in the Eric Newman biography, and in previous numismatic writings on the subject. The Engraver was instructed to use the same eagle hub for 1- and 4-sovereign pieces.

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2 hours ago, Quintus Arrius said:

This is true but, as it is said, there are two sides to every story and I would always be interested in hearing theres, warts and all.

Often, the "other side" no longer exists as anything more than pleasant anecdotes, similar to the Stack Brothers' stories, and the "Abe Kosoff Remembers" material. The most prominent exception might be B.G. Johnson - but it's also boring because he didn't lie, deceive or cheat customers, or engage in public argument with other dealers.

Kosoff's destruction of his files prior to death was the rule not the exception.

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9 minutes ago, RWB said:

Kosoff's destruction of his files prior to death was the rule not the exception.

Could have revealed much lower cost-basis for coins he purchased, impacting taxes on his estate and benefactors.

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...or many other things such as "inside" knowledge of the Ford swindle. We'll never know. (Johnson died suddenly and Eric Newman handled the estate, so the papers were preserved....still, there's not a lot beyond invoices and the occasional letter.

 

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18 hours ago, RWB said:

much of the mint archive material is not digitized and inaccessible on a practical level

But just wait for RichieRich2020 to show up at Denver looking for the documentation for his 1993-D matte finish dime. It will mark a new renaissance in “archive diving” at Denver. I, for one, think it’ll be the biggest thing going in Denver since the Taylor Swift “that radio station pervert groped me” trial just after the 2017 ANA show.

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5 hours ago, VKurtB said:

But just wait for RichieRich2020 to show up at Denver looking for the documentation for his 1993-D matte finish dime. It will mark a new renaissance in “archive diving” at Denver. I, for one, think it’ll be the biggest thing going in Denver since the Taylor Swift “that radio station pervert groped me” trial just after the 2017 ANA show.

I would hope not as the advice of experts militates against such an exercise in futility.  Plus, he is not in physical shape to pursue such an undertaking not to mention the related costs involved vis-a-vis food, clothing, shelter -- and transportation.  (If you'd've had a 1943 copper penny slip thru your hands, you might be inclined to grasp at straws, too.) You've got to admire the man for his spunk in the face of extreme odds.

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35 minutes ago, Quintus Arrius said:

I would hope not as the advice of experts militates against such an exercise in futility.  Plus, he is not in physical shape to pursue such an undertaking not to mention the related costs involved vis-a-vis food, clothing, shelter -- and transportation.  (If you'd've had a 1943 copper penny slip thru your hands, you might be inclined to grasp at straws, too.) You've got to admire the man for his spunk in the face of extreme odds.

I think Kurt's post was at least partially written in sarcasm. :)

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30 minutes ago, World Colonial said:

I think Kurt's post was at least partially written in sarcasm. :)

The line between laughing at someone, and laughing with him, is often thin.  I doubt at my age I would have the wherewithal to see such a difficult matter thru to a satisfactory conclusion. That guy could be any one of us.

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15 hours ago, World Colonial said:

I think Kurt's post was at least partially written in sarcasm. :)

It was ALL sarcasm, thank you. Maybe I'll get to the Denver Mint archives before he does, after I retire. Now I just have to think of what at the Denver Mint I'd care to research.

Edited by VKurtB
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Parts of the US Mint archives at the Denver NARA have been digitized and are available on NNP. The mint itself, has no historical documents.

 

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On 8/24/2020 at 10:59 AM, RWB said:

Ford's calumnies are examined to some degree in the Eric Newman biography, and in previous numismatic writings on the subject. The Engraver was instructed to use the same eagle hub for 1- and 4-sovereign pieces.

So did someone publish that Ford was involved in making counterfeits of the discs specifically?

By Golly, the hubs are the same for the eagle.  Only the backgrounds are different.  I believe that one variety of 4 Pound was struck with the 1 Pound die.

 

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1 hour ago, Insider said:

So did someone publish that Ford was involved in making counterfeits of the discs specifically?

By Golly, the hubs are the same for the eagle.  Only the backgrounds are different.  I believe that one variety of 4 Pound was struck with the 1 Pound die.

 

Information is in the Newman papers.

Correction: The source is John M. Kleeberg, How the West was Faked: False Western Gold Bars and other Forgeries. 47.

"By Golly, the hubs are the same for the eagle.  Only the backgrounds are different.  I believe that one variety of 4 Pound was struck with the 1 Pound die."

Yes. That was the intention. The 4 sovereign pieces came first. There was no need for a different eagle. These were only die-struck billion, so all that was important was the US Mint logo and the technical information on the reverse.

We tend to forget that these discs were not and never served as coins or monetary pieces for circulation. They were a way of circumventing the overabundance and discount on sovereigns. This helped the Saudi government meet its budget without the US having to ask Congress for additional appropriations.

Edited by RWB
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