The JR Newsletter is the official e-newsletter of the John Reich Collectors Society. The purpose of the John Reich Collectors Society (JRCS) is to encourage the study of numismatics, particularly United States gold and silver coins minted before the introduction of the Seated Liberty design, and to provide technical and educational information concerning such coins.
Jim Matthews wrote with this week's sole contribution:
There will be a regional meeting of JRCS at the Baltimore convention on
Friday, October 31. The time is 4 PM in room 305. I'll be talking about
contemporary counterfeits and whatever else comes up. A great way to
This week's edition is a day earlier, allowing the editor
time to take a mini-vacation with family.
Dr. Eugene Bruder wrote concerning an error in an article
entitled, "The Quiet 1805 Half Dime, with discussion of the Pittman coin
in the upcoming Stack's Bowers Auction."
I just read the above referenced article, and
noticed what I believe is an error. The 1805 Half dime pictured in the article
appears to be an 1805 dime! The diameter in the NGC holder looks too large to
be a half dime. It looks to be an 1805 JR-2 dime. Most interesting! The most
obvious attribution point is the 5 in the date, and then the 8 is the wrong
shape too. It makes you wonder about the grading services-you must always check
know if anyone else has pointed this out.
In response to Paul Hybert's announcement of a
beta version of the JRCS website, Barbara Bailey wrote:
Just wanted to let you know
that the new web site is very well organized and easy to use. I use a
small laptop. Kudos to everyone who is working on it!
A reminder from the editor:
When sending contributions to the JR
Newsletter, please address such correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org (old
gmail address is just that…and old address!).
This week's version of the JR Newsletter features an additional
biographical sketch of a member of the JRCS Hall of Fame, news about the JRCS
web page, and some other interesting information.
First, Louis Scuderi provided a short comment about a dime
attribution mentioned last week.He
His contribution qualifies as likely the shortest in the
brief history of the newsletter, but he makes a good point.The dime in question was an 1835 dated
dime…so the comment last week should have identified the dime as an 1835
JR8.Sorry for any confusion that may
have created.I replied to Louis that
when you put a half dime guy in charge of a newsletter, these kinds of things
are bound to happen (for all denominations but half dimes).
George Polizio wrote to add another piece of information
about JRCS Hall of Fame member Stewart Witham:
I just wanted to add something to the biography of Stew
Whitham. Stew probably amassed the most comprehensive collection of tokens that
were struck for Augustus B. Sage by George H. Lovett. These were included in
Bowers & Merenas sale of the Miller collection Nov. 1992.
Steve Crain provided an excellent biographical sketch of
JRCS Hall of Fame member Dr. Daniel Valentine:
Dr. Daniel Webster
March 7, 1863 – January 24, 1932
Stephen A. Crain
Daniel W. Valentine was born in New
York City, on March
7, 1863. Little is known of his early years, except that he was
educated in public and private schools, and later received his D.D.S. from the
New York College of Dentistry in 1887. With the exception of one year spent in
Vienna, he practiced dentistry in New York City from 1887 to 1896, and later
moved to Englewood, New Jersey, where he practiced for another thirty-five
He married Ada Belle Colwell in
1896, with whom he had two daughters, Marion and Margaret Beattie Valentine.
Dr. Valentine became interested
in numismatics very early in life, and although he was a general collector, he
confined himself primarily to United States
issues. He was very active in several numismatic organizations, including the
American Numismatic Association, American Numismatic Society, and the New York
Numismatic Club, for which he served as President for two terms, in 1918 and
1920. He was commemorated on a New York Numismatic Club Presidential medal,
designed by J. M. Swanson, of which there were eight silver and fifty bronze
Valentine assembled several
notable collections, including a comprehensive collection of United
States fractional currency, for which he
published Fractional Currency of the
United States in 1924. This publication was issued in a cloth bound edition
of 225 copies at $5.00 each, and in a limited, leather bound edition of
twenty-five numbered copies at $15.00 each. He also assembled a collection of United
States one dollar gold coins, complete by
Dr. Valentine is perhaps best
remembered for his extensive collection of United
States half dimes, which he exhibited at the
American Numismatic Society in 1914. He published his monograph United States Half Dimes in 1931, with
the American Numismatic Society, as #48 in their series Numismatic Notes and
Monographs. This work has been reprinted twice, in 1975 by Quarterman
Publications, and again in 1984 by Sanford J. Durst. In each of the reprints,
the original photographic plates were copied, but were printed as ‘screen’
prints, comprised of a series of dots, like a newspaper photo, which cannot be
magnified or enlarged for greater detail. Collectors and researchers are
advised to locate a copy of the original ANS
NNM #48 for its quality ‘collotype’ prints of the photographic plates, which
like a photograph can be magnified for detailed study. For the Liberty Seated
series alone, Valentine identified 257 different die marriages, greatly
expanding upon the previous work of Will W. Neil, published in The Numismatist
in 1927. While some of the die descriptions in the Valentine half dime
reference are vague and ambiguous, and it often appears that he was unaware of
the distinction between die marriage
and die state, he provided us with
the most comprehensive reference on the series to date. Critics might argue
that his die descriptions, particularly for the post Civil War dates, are so
brief as to be almost meaningless, but I suspect that some of this brevity
might be attributed to an imposed publishing deadline. Valentine published his
monograph late in 1931, and died, evidently of apoplexy, or stroke, on January 24, 1932. As a medical
professional, he would have been acutely aware of his declining health, and
apparently rushed to complete his work before health issues would no longer
allow him to continue.
All of Dr. Valentine’s collections were sold at public
auction prior to his death by Thomas Elder, in three sessions, on December 8,
9, and 10, 1927, in New York City, except for his remarkable collection of
half dimes, which remained intact at the time of his death.
Finally, JRCS web master Paul Hybert wrote with some
exciting news about the JRCS web site:
Some club members have been
working on a new look for the club's web site, and we have a first
effort. Please look at the first draft at: www.jrcs.org/BETA/
The main points of the new style are: a navigation bar at the top of the page
(with drop down selections for some items -- hover your mouse over an item, and
a menu will appear for some items), a banner below the navigation bar, the text
now has smooth left and right margins (ragged right was the old way), and each
paragraph starts with indented text.
In the future, the same banner will be used on all pages. Because we have
not agreed upon a banner, one appears on only the top of the main page.
Please submit an image for a banner -- let it be 1,000 pixels wide, and 200
pixels tall. The submitted images will be added to the bottom of the main
page as they are received at jrcsweb(at)yahoo.com,
and we hope to decide upon a new banner by the start of 2015.
The only pages that do NOT have the new look are the various JR Journal
indexes: by-author, by-subject, and by-issue. But these pages' content
have been updated -- start at the navigation bar, and follow Publications
-->> Journal Index to see all of the indexes into the JR Journal.
Were you aware these were on the old web site?
Let us know if we left something out, if something is hard to find, or
something seems awkward. We want pages that look good on a large browser
window on a desktop monitor, and also look good on a smart phone's
display. We want pages that a browser can download
quickly, so we prefer text over images, and small-sized image files over
larger-sized files. Our site is hosted for free from a simple server: no
java-enabled apps, no search engines, no member logins, and no user uploads.
In response to Kevin Coleman's inquiry last week, John
The 1834 Capped Bust Dime sure looks to be a JR-8 to
me. Using Early United States Dimes 1796-1837, page 232, on the reverse the upper arrow shaft
is detached, the scroll beginning and ending is correct too.
Chuck Allen wrote with a follow up of Richard Meaney's
presentation of a Stewart Witham biographical sketch:
Additional note on Witham's coins.
I believe most of the Witham Bust Half collection was sold privately to an
investor and these coins later came to public auction through Heritage.
Many of Stewart Witham's Capped Bust Halves were sold in August 2010 at Heritage
Auction #1143 and also in the "Sunday and Tuesday" Internet
only auction # 210083 , both of which can be searched on Heritage's
archived auctions with images available. Scroll down "limit results to" and
find the August 2010 auctions and select 1143 or 210083, they are listed
separately, put Witham in upper search, select bust half dollars from the scroll
down menu and "titles and descriptions" then search.
I hope this is helpful to those who want to see some images of the CBH's
of the Stewart Witham Collection.
Chuck Allen #1404
Paul Kluth also commented on the Witham biographical sketch:
The bio was very helpful in getting to know a prominent
member of JRCS from the past. I would like to see other important members
from the past also honored and not missed for the Society's Hall of Fame in the
near future. Thx!
We have three contributions this week.The first is from Kevin Coleman:
Hello, I am trying to be able to identify which
variation I have. Because of the style of the 8 I believe it to be either
a JR-6, JR-7 , or JR-8 (or possibly JR-9?)
Can you identify which I have or direct me to where I might
be able to get the answer?
Thank you in advance,
(Editor's note: Click on the image to open a larger version)
Garrett Ziss wrote:
Thank you for the information last week, Mr. Tompkins.Like you mentioned, it's a neat way to
connect a coin to a specific point in history.
The dates of the delivery warrants are interesting. The
White House was burned on August 24, 1814 so I would think that the Mint
employees would have known about this when the first set of coins were
delivered to the Treasurer of the Mint on September 12. The next day, the
Battle of Ft. McHenry started and the Mint employees could hear the cannon fire
in Baltimore as they were striking
coins. The war was getting closer.I
live outside of Philadelphia and
have been to Baltimore several
times, so I know these cities aren't that far apart.
At the ANA convention
last month, Mr. Finkelstein gave a presentation on the Yellow Fever epidemic of
1797 and how the Mint shut down during the epidemic. They had a specific plan
on how they would shut down. Even though the Mint was still striking coins
during the War of 1812, did the Mint have some sort of plan (as they did with
Yellow Fever) to shut down or hide equipment and supplies if the war moved to Philadelphia?
If the British captured the Mint, our country would have been in serious
trouble.Of course, the British never
got to Philadelphia, but the Mint
didn't know what was going to happen during the war.
Garrett Ziss (JRCS 1465)
Richard Meaney wrote:
Here is the biographical sketch intended for inclusion on the JRCS Hall of Fame web page for Stewart Witham:
Stewart "Stew" Witham was described by Bowers and
Merena, in the company's catalog for a September
14-15, 1992 auction, as "one of America's
best known numismatists". That catalog is a source for this biographical
sketch of Stew Witham.
Stew Witham was born in 1916 in New
York City. He graduated from Miami University of
Ohio in 1938. He then went on to a career in property and casualty
insurance, with his last eleven years in the industry as president of the Leonard
Agency in Canton,
Stew and his spouse, Merriam (Myers), were married in
1942. They had one son, Walter Todd Witham.
Outside of numismatics, Witham was active in many
organizations, including the board of trustees of The Presbyterian Church,
chairman and president of offices within the YMCA, campaign chairman for the United
Way, Man of the Year for the Jaycees, and club
president, district governor, and recipient of the Paul Harris Award with
Rotary International. Witham provided several years of military service
during World War II.
He started his foray into numismatics in 1960 when he began
collecting Capped Bust half dollars by Beistle varieties. His interest
soon spread to Capped Bust half dimes by Valentine numbers, and then to Assay
Commission and American Numismatic Society medals, early half dollar patterns,
and medals relating to engraver John Reich and his father, Johann Christian
Reich, who was also an engraver.
Witham authored many articles in numismatic publications,
including eight articles in the John Reich Journal, and contributed to the
publications of many other authors. In 1993, Witham wrote and published
the only known biography of John Reich, “Johann Matthäus Reich, Also Known as
Witham was active in many numismatic organizations, including
the American Numismatic Association, the American Numismatic Society, and the
Token and Medal Society. Witham also held membership number one in the
Bust Half Nut Club! Witham also specialized in material relating to
President William McKinley and Treasury - Mint medals.
Those interested in the coins of Stew Witham will find two
auction catalogs especially helpful. The first included Witham's half
dimes: 1977 Central States Numismatic Society Annual Convention Auction Sale,
Featuring the Harley L. Freeman Collection, Milwaukee, WI May 13-15, 1977,
conducted by Rarcoa. Of note, there is no printed attribution of the half
dimes in the catalog to the Witham collection. The second catalog
included Witham's counterstamped half dollars, Assay Commission medals, and Washington
tokens and medals: The Witham and Sansoucy Collections and other Important
Properties, Bowers and Merena, September
A number of interesting contributions this week…we start with Steve Tompkins, who responded
to last week's contributions from both Garrett Ziss and Winston Zack.
Steve Tompkins wrote:
This is in response to Garrett's question:
The Mint delivery records show two deliveries of bust halves
in September 1814.
Delivery #725 - 9/12/1814
Delivery #727 - 9/19/1814
Let's look at some facts and statistics to see if we can
determine if your coin was indeed struck during the battle at Fort
Other than two R-4 die marriages, the other seven for the
year are currently R-1 to R-3.
The total number of bust halves delivered for 1814 is
If we just take this number and divide it by nine (the
number of die marriages for the year), we get 115,453 coins struck per die
There is no way to determine exactly how many actual coins
were struck with each die marriage due to the unknown amount of attrition for
Even based on rarity we can not narrow it down to a more
accurate number, as an R-1 can only be stated as containing more than 1250
coins still in existence and this is open ended.
But we can certainly state that the R-4 die marriages should
contain 81-200 coins still remaining out of the original amount struck.
The most often stated survival rate for early bust coinage
is about 3%, however for the bust halves, I would state that it could be as
high as 5-10%, due to the banks keeping a large amount in their vaults.
If we take the 10% number, then for the R-4 die marriages
there should have been at least 810 - 2000 coins originally struck. Even
if this number is lowered to 5%, we are looking at 1620-4000 coins
According to the Leman-Gunnett emission sequence, the last
two die marriage struck in 1814 were O-103 & O-106. O-106 is currently an
R-4 die marriage.
Only those coins produced and delivered in the last delivery
of bust halves for the year could have possibly been struck during the battle.
The last delivery (#727) on 9/19/1814 contained 31,800 bust halves. If we subtract
the possible amount of coins struck utilizing the dies of the O-106 die
marriage, we still have at least 27,800 coins left over that could have been
struck by the dies of the O-103 die marriage. As the O-103 is currently an R-1,
most likely all of those remaining coins and some of the prior delivery were of
the O-103 die marriage.
So, the answer to the question is most likely
yes...your coin could have been struck during the battle, but there were
O-103's struck before and probably after the battle as well.
This is a neat way to connect a coin to a specific point in
Steve M. Tompkins
This is in response to Winston Zack:
It is called the "Group Die Theory" and was
originally proposed by Robert P. Hilt II in his 1980 book, Die Varieties of
Early United States Coins.
Steve M. Tompkins
H Craig Hamling also wrote in response to Winston Zack:
At my factory we would call that a pre-production plan.
Perhaps that is what you recall.
H Craig Hamling
Sheridan Downey wrote with a request for me to reveal
something about one of our newer contributors (Garrett Ziss).Sheridan
Richard, be sure to tell your
readers that Garrett is all of 11 years old. In another 11 years I
suspect that he will be the world's foremost expert on bust half-dollars and,
perhaps, other early US coinage.
Winston Zack wrote with a request
for assistance from readers of the JR Newsletter:
I am putting the finishing 'writing' touches (edits will
still be required) on a future JRJ article, but I am still missing some
information I would like to add in order to make the article more complete.
What I need are images of a few specific half-dime and dime cuds; the images
will not be used in the article. If you can please help me by sending me images
of the cuds I am looking for I would be most grateful, and your assistance
would be noted in the article. Feel free to email me the images at: stoneman101(at)gmail.com
1) 1836 LM-3/V-4, reverse cud over A in AMERICA
2) 1829 JR-4, reverse cud over ER and retained cud over NITE
3) 1830 JR-4, reverse cud from Rim to M
4) 1831 JR-4, reverse cud above ED and later CA to arrowhead
5) 1831 JR-6, obverse cud from Rim to Star's 1-2-3
6) 1832 JR-2, obverse cud from Rim left of date
7) 1835 JR-4, reverse cud from A3 to Arrowheads
In addition, although I may be wrong, I recall that there is
now a second Bust Dollar cud discovered/known in addition to the 1798
B-20/BB-1. I am not a Bust Dollar collector, but if there are any other Bust
Dollar cuds known besides this 1798 B-20 I would be interested in adding that
information to my article.
We have another week of excellent contributions for this issue
of the JR Newsletter.First, I want to
correct the source of the contribution from last week about the National
Battlefield Coin Show.The information
came from Paul Kluth, not Paul Hybert.
With that lead-in, we have something THIS WEEK from Paul
announcement attributed to me in the last issue reminded me of some
announcements I should have made last week. The autumn Illinois club
meeting was held late this past week in south suburban Chicago, and Wednesday
night's meeting of the Chicago Coin Club featured a presentation by Lawrence J.
Lee on coins recovered in archaeological digs at the site of Fort Atkinson
(1820-1827). The site is at the northern edge of the modern greater-Omaha
urban area, west of the Missouri River. During the
presentation we saw some of the few
complete and cut Bust Halves that were found -- examples of complete and cut
Spanish Colonial were much more common. We were told that a soldier's pay
was $5 per month, paid as ten half dollars; hundreds of soldiers were stationed
at the fort, so many nice halves entered the local economy, either whole or in
pieces. I believe 130 coins have been found so far.
Look for a book by Lawrence J Lee, titled The Coins of Fort Atkinson, later in
2014. It should cover details from the recent digs, photos from a
reconstructed fort, as well as original records that were referenced (I think
he mentioned that one year of records from the fort's sutler are known).
From the photos shown in the presentation, I attribute two 1817 halves as O-111
and O-112, which are common R1 and R2. I do not have the dime book handy,
so the one found dime, dated 1821, remains unattributed -- also, only the
obverse was pictured, probably making attribution more difficult.
Editor's note:To save many the trouble of looking it up,
here's a definition of sutler:a civilian provisioner to an army post often with a shop on the
Next, a timely contribution from Garrett Ziss that you will
On November 10,
2013, I visited Ft. McHenry
after attending the Baltimore Whitman show the day before. During our
tour, they mentioned that the cannon fire from the September 13/14, 1814 Battle
of Ft. McHenry, could be heard all the way to Philadelphia.
Of course, I immediately thought of the Mint striking Bust Halves while the
employees wondered if our country would survive. I did not yet own an
1814 Capped Bust half dollar, but made it a goal to purchase one sometime in
2014 during the 200th Anniversary of the coin and the Star-Spangled
Banner. I looked high and low for one in my price range, especially at
the ANA in Chicago.
I really liked a couple of the 1814's that Mr. Downey had in his Mail Bid
auction, but they were out of my league. Today (September 13), the day
before the 200th Anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner, I purchased an 1814
Bust Half at a coin show in Lancaster, PA. It is only a VF O-103 (R1), but it's
a nice looking coin.
As soon as I got home with the coin, I looked up the emission sequence for 1814
Bust Halves. The O-103 is the next to last die marriage listed for 1814 out of
a total of 9 die marriages. So, I think it's possible that it could have
been struck during the time of the Battle of Ft. McHenry. September 14, 1814 was a Wednesday,
so the Mint was in operation that day. My question to Bust Half experts
is, if the information on the Mint delivery warrants is known for that year, is
it possible to definitively tell what die marriage was being made on September
Visiting Ft. McHenry
is very patriotic and moving, so I hope that anyone who visits Baltimore
will stop by at Ft. McHenry.
Also, if you have a chance today, take a few minutes to sing the Star-Spangled
Banner to celebrate it's 200th Anniversary.
Garrett Ziss (JRCS 1465)
Winston Zack made the following inquiry:
I am trying to remember the term/phrase used to describe the
idea, or practice, whereby the Mint would produce an initial set number of dies
for each year's anticipated coin production.
I hope my description is helpful enough to get the correct
I remember, or at least am 98% certain, that, David
Finkelstein gave a presentation a couple years back conveying such a term, and
he might know the answer to my question.
Peter Mosiondz, Jr. wrote to offer these items to readers of
the JR Newsletter:
The Expert’s Guide to Collecting and
Investing in Rare Coins, Q. David Bowers. Hardbound. DJ in Mylar®. New. $12.00
Coins and Collectors, Q. David
Bowers. Softbound. New. $8.00
Abe Kosoff: Dean of Numismatics,
Q. David Bowers. Softbound. New. $12.00
Whitman Blue Slab Storage Box. The
dividers secure each slab snuggly in the allotted space. Top and bottom interior
flocking keeps the slabs from rattling. Holds 20 slabs. Retail Price: $12.95
each. I have one lot of 10 new slab boxes to offer at $49.00
Payment by check. Add $3.00 postage on
Peter Mosiondz, Jr.
26 Cameron Circle
Please call or e-mail to confirm
availability prior to mailing your check.