Sunday, April 13, 2014

JR Newsletter: 13 April 2014 (184)

Two contributions this week.  The first is from Ralph Munoz:

The recent comment by Winston Zack in the weekly JR Newsletter requesting holed bust dimes reminded me of some recent information I received regarding early coins with holes.  I wrote in February 2014 to Robertson Shinnick, who is the leading authority on holed coins.  I wish to share this information in the newsletter.

Ralph Munoz
JRCS Life Member 20

From Ralph Munoz to Robertson Shinnick:

In my recent travels driving across Arizona, I stopped at a Gun and Coin Shop.  I found a very nice VF 1833 bust half with a hole at about 10 o'clock on the obverse.  Not normally the place where you find a hole; if it was to be used for jewelry it would be at the 12 or 6 o'clock location.  I have seen many holed coins in the past, but did not give it much thought and said to myself "why is the hole off center and it does not look like a jewelry piece."   I asked the shop owner the price of the coin and he said $40.  He also explained that it was a "Civil War Pin Coin".  He went on to say that soldiers on both the North and South were not allowed to carry many personal belongings since their pants and jackets did not have pockets.  Also, any military pouches or packs they had were to only carry munitions and military gear to maximize speed of movement or risk punishment for extra personal items. 

If they were to ever receive money in coin, preferably in larger coins such as half dollars they would have a hole drilled or punched into the coin so that they could pin or sew the coin inside their jacket for safe keeping!  They did not care where the location of the hole was put.  All they wanted to do was attach the coin(s) inside their jacket by whatever means they could.  I guess at that time coins with holes were accepted without reservation?  Also, he said that soldiers would place the coins over their heart to deflect a shot to the chest.  Very nicely and skeptically, I asked where he got this information?  He said this information was documented in a diary of a Civil War solider.  Very interesting?  I passed on the coin and went on my way.

I have never heard anything like this before.  Is it possible?  Has anyone ever heard of this or have any opinions? 
Ralph Munoz munoz1951(at)

Response from Robertson Shinnick to Ralph Munoz:

Yes, I've heard that soldiers would sometimes sew or pin coins into their clothing to avoid jingling while they marched.  (Not to mention their occasional lack of pockets).

It's entirely possible that this was how and why that coin was holed, but of course there are any number of other explanations, too.  People put holes in coins for every reason under the sun.  Some used them as jewelry.  Slaves reportedly used them as talismans.  They were often nailed to beams in a new building or onto a ship's mast for luck.  And so on.  You get the idea.  So there's no way of proving that particular piece was a "Civil War pin coin" unless it came with written provenance from the period. 

It's possible, but so are any number of other scenarios.


Our second contribution this week comes from David Perkins and concerns the "Happenings" event at the EAC-JRCS convention.

I would like to add the early silver dollar that we have selected to the list of early silver die marriages that Dr. Glenn Peterson announced in the last issue of JR News for the 2014 EAC Convention in Colorado Springs, CO.

We will be studying the 1798 B-16, BB-110 Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle silver dollar, a marriage that is known in many interesting die states or stages, from very early to very late (large cud!).  For more information and six photos different die states, please see John Reich Journal, Volume 12 / Issue 1, December, 1998:  "Die State Study for the Very Rare 1798 B-16 Dollar, by W. David Perkins.  The specimen with the cud will be present, a coin once owned by the late Roland Willasch who collected both half dollars and early dollars by die marriage. 
Here is the revised list, with the 1798 B-16, BB-110 added to the list that Glenn submitted last week:

half dime 1829 LM 18 (LDS have a cud)
dimes 1824 JR 1 and JR 2
quarter 1818 B9 ( a die state with clashing of arrows on obverse exists)
halves 1814 O-106 (LDS have massive crack and clashes) and 1827 O -108 (remarriage)
early dollar 1798 B-16, BB-110

Hope to see many JRCS members there!  

W. David Perkins
Centennial, CO