Friday, February 27, 2015

JR Newsletter: 27 February 2015 (230)



This week's JR Newsletter is early due to the editor's schedule.  As such, it is necessarily abbreviated as some contributions that may come in late on Friday or early Saturday will not be added.  The next issue of the JR Newsletter will be after the March ANA Show.  We feature two new contributions this week and a reminder.

John Wilson inquired regarding one of the halves that W. David Perkins wrote about last week.  He asked, "Do you know the reason for the odd color in the crevices around the MS66? I have seen it on other various coins. Almost looks like lacquer that someone has tried to remove, but I doubt that explanation."

John D. Wilson
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Denis Loring wrote to clarify discussion concerning EAC Conventions:

A correction to last week's JR Newsletter regarding the EAC convention: A room has been set aside for a silver happening, if someone wants to coordinate one.  Also, please remember that anyone may attend the EAC convention. Membership in EAC is only required for voting at the annual meeting, holding a table and bidding in the Sale.

Denis Loring
EAC National Secretary
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Finally, from the editor: 

This will serve as the final reminder to JRCS members and other collectors who plan to attend the Portland, Oregon ANA Show next week.  The John Reich Collectors Society will meet on Friday, March 6 at 8:30 AM in Room E143.  The highlight of the JRCS meeting will be a presentation by Winston Zack.  Winston has developed a brief presentation on the topic of contemporary counterfeit bust dimes. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

JR Newsletter: 22 February 2015 (229)



We have another jam-packed issue of the JR Newsletter this week!

From the editor:  Some of you may occasionally or even regularly receive two issues of the JR Newsletter via email each week.  Trust me, if this were avoidable, it wouldn’t happen.  Some "technical difficulties" regularly thwart my efforts to send out the newsletter in an efficient manner.  A zero-cost solution to this anomaly is something that is beyond my technical ability, but I will keep trying!
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David Perkins wrote:

The Rogers-Whitney-Pogue Gem 1796 Half Dollar with 16 Obverse Stars

This week I received my copy of Q. David Bowers new book, Treasures from the D. Brent Pogue Rare Coin Cabinet / A National Legacy.  The book highlights 100 of the rarest coins from the Pogue Collection.  The book is formatted with one coin for every two pages, with additional enlarged photos of the obverse and reverse for select coins.  The coins were numbered 1-100 in the book.

In November 1995 I received my copy of an auction catalog titled, “Numisma ’95 / Numismatic Rarities for the Collector.”  Numisma ’95 was a public auction sale held jointly by David W. Akers, Rarcoa Inc. and Stack’s Rare Coins.  Stack’s offered Lots 1001-1751 in Session 1 of the sale on November 29, 1995.  Among the Stack’s offerings were a number of coins from the Leland Rogers Collection.  I reviewed my copy of the Numisma ‘95 sale catalog this week.  Unfortunately, at the time of the sale I was unable to view the lots in person.

In 1995 my research and collecting interests were focused primarily on the early U.S. Silver Dollars 1794-1803. I highlighted (marked the pages with “post it notes”) three lots in this sale.  Interestingly, two of the three lots I had highlighted were Draped Bust half dollars, both ex. Leland Rogers.  One was a stunning Gem 1796 16 Stars Obverse Half Dollar (O-102) and the other a magnificent Gem 1797 Half Dollar (O-101a).  I can’t imagine a nicer pair of 1796 and 1797 half dollars.

The third highlighted coin was Rogers’ beautifully toned Gem 1794 silver dollar, ex. F.C.C. Boyd and The World’s Greatest Collection, Lot 1.  It is graded PCGS MS66+ today.  I eventually had the opportunity to view and study this exceptional specimen a couple of years ago. Most consider it today to be one of the finest known 1794 Dollars.  I sure do.  [Here is a link to the PCGS photo of this specimen: www.pcgscoinfacts.comCoinImage/s.aspx?s=6851]

The Pogue-Rogers-Whitney 1796 Half Dollar with 16 Obverse Stars, is coin “Number 15” in the book, and can be found on pages 60-63.  Page 60 has an enlarged photo of the obverse of this coin, followed by an enlarged photo of the reverse on page 61.  The enlargements appear to be in 5X size.  This half dollar is graded PCGS MS66 today.  A photo of this coin is attached.

 “Mr. 1796” (John Whitney Walter) purchased this 1796 Half Dollar from the Numisma ‘95 Sale.  On May 4, 1999 Stack’s offered for sale this specimen as Lot 1778 in the Public Auction Sale “Mr. 1796” The John Whitney Walter Collection / The coins of 1796.  I traveled to NYC to attend this sale.  I was finally able to view the Rogers-Whitney 1796 Half Dollar in person.  And view it I did.  I recall that I studied this 1796 half dollar for nearly a half an hour!  To me this is always the sign of a truly great coin, regardless of the grade – you just want to keep looking at it! 

Per the notes I had written in my copy of the catalog, bidding on this 1796 Half Dollar opened at $175,000, then quickly was bid at $180(K), 200, 250, 270, 290, 300, 310, 320, 330, then 360, “last call” was heard, then a bid of $380K, and finally the coin hammered at $400,000.  The total price realized was $460,000 (including the 15% buyer’s fee).  

I’ve been told that the Leland Rogers 1797 Half Dollar is even nicer!  It is graded PCGS MS66, and is coin “Number 6” in the new Bowers book.  Those who like late die states will especially enjoy the shattered reverse.  [Here is a link to the PCGS photo of this specimen:  http://www.pcgscoinfacts.com/Coin/Detail/6060]

The below photo of the Rogers-Whitney-Pogue 1796 Half Dollar with 16 Obverse Stars is courtesy of PCGS.
(Click photo to open a larger version)

W. David Perkins
Centennial, CO  


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David Finkelstein is continuing his series of contributions with an article entitled, "The Waste Book"



The Waste Book
By David Finkelstein

 The Mint was a repetitive process factory.  It did the same activities over and over.  Each activity was triggered by the same event.  The first event in the Mint’s repetitive workflow was the receipt of copper, silver or gold by the Treasurer of the Mint.  Then, the Director of the Mint issued hand written orders (or warrants) to transfer the metals from the custody of one officer of the Mint to the custody of another officer of the Mint.  Eventually, the metals were made into money (coins).  The Director then issued warrants to return the money to the depositors.

When an officer received the Director’s warrant and the metal, he was responsible for performing his portion of the required tasks to convert the metal into money.  For example, when the Chief Coiner received silver ingots from the Treasurer of the Mint, he was responsible for having the employees in his department roll the ingots into strips, cut planchets out of the strips, run the planchets through the Castaing Machine (if required), and strike the coins.  The Chief Coiner did not transfer the coins to the custody of the Treasurer of the Mint until he received a warrant from the Director of the Mint.

Each warrant was on its own piece of paper.  Log, receipt and account books were maintained by Mint officers and/or their clerks to organize the individual warrants that were issued by the Director.  One such log was The Waste Book.

Note that the Copper Coinage Act of May 8, 1792 gave the Director of the Mint the authority to purchase up to 150 tons of copper and strike Half Cents and Cents.  The copper workflow was different than the silver and gold workflow, and will therefore not be addressed in this article.

Years ago, when I first heard of The Waste Book, I immediately thought of silver and gold strips that had planchets punched out of them.  After all, those punched out strips were surplus or waste from the planchet cutting process that were later recycled through the Mint furnaces, melted, formed into ingots, and rolled into more strips.  The Waste Book had nothing to do with surplus, leftover, or unused metals from any of the Mint process steps.  The Waste Book was a temporary ledger.  Entries were usually made in chronological order.  Based on my analysis, I believe an entry was made in the Waste Book when the activity started.  When all tasks for that activity were completed, the entry was checked off in the left column, and the entry was rewritten in The Bullion Journal.  See Figures 1 – 4.  The Bullion Journal will be discussed in a future article.

There are multiple Waste Books stored at the National Archives and Records Administration in Philadelphia.  Each book is 10 inches wide and 14 inches high.  Note that the first Waste Book covers the period July 18, 1794 through December 31, 1806 and has over 400 pages.

The Waste Books contain entries for the following types of activities:

1.     Silver and gold bullion deposits from a Depositor to the Treasurer of the Mint (or “Treasurer”).  Included are the depositor’s name, deposit receipt number, assay report number, gross weight, standard weight and dollar value.  See Figure 1.
2.     Beginning 11/1796, bullion delivered from the Treasurer to the Melter & Refiner.
3.     Bullion ingots delivered from the Treasurer to the Chief Coiner.  See Figure 2.
4.     Copper, silver and gold coin deliveries from the Chief Coiner to the Treasurer.  See Figure 2.  The Director of Mint warrants that triggered these entries are commonly referred to as “Delivery Warrants”. For reasons unknown, copper delivery entries in the Waste Book began in 1796.
5.     Delivery of coins for yearly assay, from the Chief Coiner to the Treasurer, as required by The Mint & Coinage Act of April 2, 1792
6.     Assignment of Receipt.  These entries were triggered by a document signed by a judge that transferred the delivery of the coins from the original depositor to a another person or entity.  See Figure 3.
7.     Delivery of coins from the Treasurer to the Depositor or the Depositor’s Assigned Receiver.  See Figure 4.
8.     Quarterly balancing of bullion-in-process for the Treasury Department, as required by The Mint & Coinage Act of April 2, 1792.
9.     Corrections to errors in entries previously made.



Figure 1 – Silver Bullion Deposit Entries


Figure 2 – Bullion To Chief Coiner & Coins From Chief Coiner



Figure 3 – Assignment of Receipt – May 8, 1795


Figure 4 – Return of Coins To Depositor


There were 5 major phases required for the conversion of silver or gold bullion into coins:
Deposit Bullion Assay Melt & Refine Strike Coins Return Coins

From the entries in the Registers of Silver Bullion / Deposits, Registers of Gold Bullion / Deposits, and The Waste Book, we now know who deposited what with the Mint and when, how long it took the Mint to convert each deposit into money, and when the money was returned to the depositor / assigned receiver.  Most importantly, The Waste Book identifies the contents of each Delivery Warrant.

To be continued...



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Richard Meaney wrote on two topics:

First, a reminder to JRCS members and other collectors who plan to attend the Portland, OR ANA Show in March.  The John Reich Collectors Society will meet on Friday, March 6 at 8:30 AM in Room E143.  The highlight of the JRCS meeting will be a presentation by Winston Zack.  Winston has developed a brief presentation on the topic of contemporary counterfeit bust dimes. 

Winston says, "there is a growing interest in contemporary counterfeits in the last couple of years, especially with Davignon's updated second edition of his book, "Contemporary Counterfeit Capped Bust Half Dollars," and "Early Quarter Dollars of the United States Mint" by Rea, Peterson, Karoleff, and Kovach.  It would be only natural to continue the discussion of counterfeiting America's earliest Federal silver coinage by presenting on counterfeit bust dimes."

If you are a JRCS member or just interested in the topic, you are welcome to attend!  The meeting will conclude in time for attendees to get to the bourse for the "opening bell."

Second, If you have an 1835 LM-5.1 Capped Bust Half Dime, I am interested in hearing from you.  I have recently found a few so-called 1835 LM-5.1 half dimes that are misattributed, including one in my collection.  These half dimes showed die cracks from the rim to the top of S2, one or more cracks between E2 and S2, and/or full or partial cracks from S2 to the scroll (any of these cracks make the coin an LM-5.2).  Granted, it takes CLOSE EXAMINATION to see these cracks on some coins.  I ask collectors who have the 1835 LM-5.1 remarriage to take a close look at the coin and see if any of these die cracks are present.  Good light and good magnification are a must.  What I am finding is that fine die cracks are frequently present on coins that had been categorized as LM-5.1, typically because the die cracks are so tiny that they escape view if one is not intently looking for them. 

If collectors would do this and contact me (the JR Newsletter email address works best), I would greatly appreciate it.  I would be happy to inspect the coins for you if you wish (send me an email and we can coordinate).  If you have quality images of your coin(s) and would like to share, that would be great too.  I will attend the ANA Show in Portland, so if you have a half dime you would like me to look at, please bring it with you!
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We also received a response to a question posed in last week's newsletter:
           
In last week’s issue of JR News, Don Stoebner asked the question:

Why no participation at this upcoming EAC? I was told by an officer of EAC that this was not decided by EAC. The joint meeting and information sharing seemed to work rather well.  I feel that the members of JRCS should be given a good answer for this change.

 In reply to Don Stoebner’s question in last week’s JR News, the following is copied from Volume 24 / Issue 2 (July 2014) of the John Reich Journal, under “Editor’s Comments,” page 1:

"The officers of EAC contacted us after the convention with some concerns that they did not feel the arrangement has gone as well as expected.  After much discussion between the officers we felt that it was best to mutually agree to end the arrangement.  JRCS members are still welcome to attend the conventions and even setup if they hold an EAC membership, but we will no longer sponsor a happening at the show.  We would like to thank the officers of EAC responsible for the arrangement over the last few years."

There will be JRCS members attending the EAC Convention in Dallas this year.  Any member of EAC can attend the EAC Convention.  Many JRCS members are also EAC members, and thus can continue to attend the EAC Conventions.  The main difference now is there will not be an official silver happening event at EAC. 

Some JRCS members have been talking about holding something similar to the silver happening event at the summer ANA Conventions.  If you have an interest in an event like this you are encouraged to bring up your ideas.  One could write to the JR Newsletter or discuss at the JRCS Annual Meeting at the ANA Convention in Chicago this August.  Or volunteer to take the lead on hosting an event such as this.  The annual ANA Convention continues to attract the largest number of JRCS members of any coin show. 
 
In addition, over the years various JRCS members have had fellow collectors bring to the JRCS Hospitality Suite at the summer ANA Convention certain die marriages to compare the coins, die states, striking, etc.  For example, there were five different die states of the 1798 B-11, BB-111 Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle reverse die marriage at one Hospitality Suite meeting, brought by four different collectors (including Jules Reiver).   Those who collect Capped Bust Half Dollars have hosted similar types of events numerous times at their meetings at ANA Conventions, as have the collectors of half dimes, dimes, and early quarters.




Sunday, February 15, 2015

JR Newsletter: 15 February 2015 (228)



This week, the JR Newsletter brings LOTS of information to you.  For starters, we are fortunate to have David Finkelstein sharing his findings on topics from the early US Mint.

Silver & Gold Registers Of The First U. S. Mint
By David Finkelstein

In the 21st century, if someone needs additional recurring information in one of their business logs, the required number of columns would simply be added into their Excel spreadsheet.  In the 18th century, adding recurring information into an existing business log usually required the purchase of a new log book.  Whereas an Excel spreadsheet can have an unlimited number of columns, a paper log book is usually limited to the number of columns that could be handwritten on adjacent left and right pages.

The first U. S. Mint utilized multiple log books.  When similar log books are analyzed, different handwriting styles can be observed.  This indicates that some of the logs were maintained by different officers or clerks.  Although partially redundant, these logs most likely assisted in the quarterly balancing of the monies and precious metals that moved throughout the Mint on a daily basis.  Four similar log books that are stored at the National Archives and Records Administration in Philadelphia are as follows:

1.     The Register of Silver Deposits or “The Register of Certificates of the Standard Weight of Silver Bullion, Deposited For Coinage”,
2.     The Register of Silver Bullion or “The Register of Silver Bullion Received From Individuals and of Coins Paid at the Treasury of the Mint”,
3.     The Register of Gold Deposits or “The Register of Certificates of the Standard Weight of Gold Bullion, Deposited For Coinage”, and
4.     The Register of Gold Bullion or “The Register of Gold Bullion Received From Individuals and Coins Paid at the Treasury of the Mint”.

The Register of Silver Deposits and The Register of Gold Deposits are one page logs.   The Register of Silver Bullion and The Register of Gold Bullion are two page logs.  Each book is 13 inches wide and 18 inches high.  The columns in each book are as follows:

Column In Log Book
Register Silver Deposits
Register Silver Bullion
Register Gold Deposits
Register Gold Bullion
Date of Certificate
X     

X     

No. [probably Certificate #]
X     

X     

By Whom Deposited
X     
X     
X     
X     
Gross Weight (ozs, dwts, gr)
X     
X     
X     
X     
Standard Weight (ozs, dwts, gr)
X     
X     
X     
X     
Value (dollars, cts, m)
X    

X     

When Deposited
X     

X     

When Received

X     

X     
No. Receipt

X     

X     
Description of Bullion

X     

X     
Sums Paid, Including Discounts
(dollars, cts, m)

X    

X     
When Paid

X     

X     
Remarks

X     

X     

Figure 1 shows the entries in The Register of Gold Deposits for gold certificates 1 through 5.  Figures 2 and 3 show the corresponding entries in The Register of Gold Bullion.  Note that the Value and Sums Paid columns are in Dolls or Dollars, Cts. (or Cents) and m.  “m.” is the abbreviation for mil, mill or mille (depending on which country you live in).  1 mille equals 1/1000.  One cent equals 10/1000th of a dollar or 10 milles or 10 m.  A half cent equals 5/1000th of a dollar or 5 milles or 5 m.



Figure 1 - The Register of Gold Deposits – Certificates 1 – 5






Figure 2 - The Register of Gold Bullion – Receipts 1 – 5: (Left Page)



Figure 3 - The Register of Gold Bullion – Receipts 1 – 5: (Right Page)



Figure 4 shows an interesting entry made in the Register of Silver Deposits.  It is for silver certificate number 57, issued on June 19, 1797.  The deposit was valued at $300.00.  The depositor was Thomas Jefferson, Vice President of the United States.




Figure 4 - The Register of Silver Deposits – Thomas Jefferson



There were 5 major phases required for the conversion of silver or gold bullion into coins:
Deposit Bullion → Assay → Melt & Refine → Strike Coins → Return Coins

The four log books described in this article assist researchers in determining the endpoints of the timeline for each bullion deposit and coin return.  What about the phases that occurred in-between?  To be continued…
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Next, John Okerson wrote with an inquiry concerning early quarters:
 

I would like to find a conversion table for Early Quarter dollars from the numbering used by Robert Duphorne to the Browning standard in use today.  Duphorne published The Early Quarter Dollars of the United States in 1975.  Louis Scuderi wrote about him in 2005 in JRCS Volume 18 Issue #2 of June 2007.  Not long after that article both Steve Tompkins and Rory Rea and all published new books on the same series.

Duphorne’s book may not be mainstream but is available online currently at about $20.

Anyone having this information is requested to share it with johnokerson(at)gmail.com or participate in correlating the data in the books.

John
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Don Stoebner asked a question:

Why no participation at this upcoming EAC? I was told by an officer of EAC that this was not decided by EAC. The joint meeting and information sharing seemed to work rather well.I feel that the members of JRCS should be given a good answer for this change.

Don S
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Readers will likely recall that Rich Uhrich wrote to us recently to tell about an 1838-O half dollar that he purchased for inventory and is offering on his website ( Rich Uhrich Half Dollars ).  Kevin Flynn wrote to announce a book on the topic of 1838-O half dollars:



The 1838-O Half Dollar, An Alignment of the Stars, by Kevin Flynn and John Dannreuther is now available. 8-1/2 by 11, 100 pages, softcover only.  The following is a summation of this incredible variety.

To meet the increasing demand for coinage for commerce, Congress authorized three new mints in 1835.  One of the chosen locations was in New Orleans, a city strategically located on the Mississippi River that would help in disbursing coinage throughout the south and west.  The Philadelphia Mint supplied equipment vital to coinage production such as three steam powered coining presses, each of a different size.  David Bradford was hired as the Superintendent of the New Orleans Mint with Tyler Rufus employed as the Coiner.  Robert M. Patterson was the Director of the Mint from 1835 through 1851. 

The New Orleans Mint opened in 1838 and in anticipation of commencing coin production, on February 14th, Tyler requested working dies for the silver half-dime, dime, and half dollar.  Between April 9th and 11th, two sets of 1838 dated half-dime, dime, and half dollar working dies were sent from Philadelphia to New Orleans.  All working dies sent were shipped in a softened state, and required hardening and polishing at the New Orleans Mint.  For the two sets of half dollar working dies sent, one set had a false border while the other did not.  Both half dollar working dies required being put through a lathe at the New Orleans Mint.  Director Patterson was very conscientious about theft of these working dies and their illegal use to strike coins.  All of these working dies were in a state that they could not have been used by the Philadelphia Mint prior to shipping to strike coins at the Philadelphia Mint.  These dies were not sent to New Orleans especially prepared or intended to strike proof coins or to test the design or alloy.  As stated by Patterson, these working dies were the same used in Philadelphia except for a mint mark added.

On May 8th, 1838, Tyler struck thirty dimes on the small coining press before having mechanical problems.  One specimen was sent to Director Patterson, ten were put in a cornerstone of a new building, with the remainder being given out as mementos.  Additional dimes were struck up through July 1838.  Between August 2nd and November 1st, the New Orleans Mint was closed because of yellow fever.  Dimes and half-dimes were struck in December and the beginning of January 1839. 

On January 17th, 1839, Director Patterson stated that no time should be lost in getting ready for the coinage of the half dollars.  Between January 17th and the end of January, Tyler was able to get the large coining press into operation to be used for the half dollars. Tyler found that the half dollar working dies were too short to be held in place by the screws.  In order to test the large coining press, he built a support system to raise the bottom working die to reach the screws.  He was able to strike ten "excellent impressions" from a single set of 1838 dated half dollar working dies before the support system was crushed.  The time frame in which these ten 1838-O half dollars were struck is based upon a letters from Rufus Tyler on February 25th and Superintendent Bradford on March 7th.  Bradford stated in his letter that Tyler had struck a few half dollars in the middle of January on the large press.  No 1838-O half dollars were submitted to Philadelphia for the annual assay sent on January 17, 1839.  The fields of these ten coins exhibit a brilliant surface texture expected from a new pair of working dies.  The striking characteristics of the design elements and rims are very strong. 

Between February 26 and March 12, 1839, three pairs of 1839 dated half dollar dies were sent to the New Orleans Mint.  Two sets of these arrived on March 16th.  On March 29th, Superintendent Bradford stated that Tyler was able to get the half dollar coining press into operation and commenced striking half dollars on March 27th.  The reverse used for the 1838-O half dollars in late January 1839 was moved from the large coining press to the half dollar coining press and used to strike 1839-O half dollars.  This reverse is found on ninety percent of the known 1839-O half dollars.

The key to a second striking was found in the 1838-O half dollar in the Smithsonian Institution collection.  This specimen exhibited the latest die stage of any of the nine known 1838-O half dollars.  The fields on the reverse display mirrored surfaces equal to the 1838 proof half dollar at the Smithsonian.  The striking characteristics of this coin were also stronger than the 1838 proof half dollar.  There are several 1839-O half dollars that have been categorized as proof coins.  Two or three of these coins exhibited diagnostics that were later than any of the first eight known specimens, but earlier than the 1838-O Smithsonian specimen.  The 1838-O Smithsonian half dollar also has stronger striking characteristics than the 1839-O half dollars that are called proofs.  A conclusion can be made that in late March 1839, Tyler was able to get the half dollar coining press into operation.  He first used an 1839 dated obverse with the reverse used for the 1838-O half dollars and struck several half dollars.  Tyler then replaced the obverse with the 1838-O half dollar working die, increasing the striking pressure and struck one or more 1838-O half dollars.  He then continued to strike 1839-O half dollars.

The two 1838-O half dollar working die obverses were defaced on June 13, 1839.  A note allegedly from Rufus Tyler published in 1894 stated a specimen was given to Alexander Bache and that not more than twenty specimens were struck.  Nine 1838-O half dollars are known to exist today, including one in the Smithsonian Institution collection.  Most likely, eleven to fifteen 1838-O half dollars were struck with only one specimen known from the second striking.  The 1838-O Smithsonian half dollar should be classified as a proof, whereas the remaining coins should be classified as specimen coins.

Price for the softcover is $29.95. To order, send a check or money order to Kevin Flynn, P.O. Box 396 , Lumberton , NJ 08048Please include $5 for media shipping or $10 for first class shipping.  Please email me at kevinjflynn88(at)yahoo.com to reserve a copy.  See other books available at www.kevinjflynn.com