Sunday, June 25, 2017

JR Newsletter: 25 June 2017 (350)

Recall that Winston Zack asked for information about a counterfeit bust half dollar.  Lance Keigwin wrote in response to Winston:

Hi Winston,

What you have there is a contemporary counterfeit made from an 1834 O.115 obverse and an 1829 O.114 reverse. Each was struck at least twice, as is plain to see. That, however, added some challenge.

OBVERSE: The first strike impressed the upper stars (S4 - S10 and a portion of S11) These line up with the higher portrait of Liberty largely obliterated by the later strike but with a nice defining line at the chest and neck. The lower stars correspond in position to the prominent portrait. Hence the odd spacing between S2 and S3 and the weirdness at S11.

REVERSE: A perfect overlay is not possible because either the coin is not quite round or the picture not square. But it is otherwise an excellent match for the 1829 O.114, including its filled A's. Even denticles are spot on.

I made a couple of overlays for illustration (animated gifs), using a real 1834 O.115 obverse and another using a real 1829 O.114 reverse. But studying just still pictures is convincing enough.

Hope that helps. And good luck with your book. I'm anxious to see it.

Lance Keigwin
Email - lance(at)
Numismatic Photography Services -


Last week's question by David Perkins (what was unique about Volume 1, Issue 1 of the John Reich Journal) spurred numerous responses.  Here are the responses, including a "summary response" by David Perkins:

Harry Salyards wrote:  That would be “J.R.C.S. Auction No. 1,” of “a few abandoned half dimes and dimes [found in] an old shoe box.”

As Member #233, Dave Davis told me that I was one of the last Charter Members.

Garrett Ziss wrote:  I believe that the answer to the question in the JR Newsletter on what the most unusual feature is for Volume 1 / Issue 1 is that it has a larger format than subsequent issues.  Volume 1 / Issue 1 measures 6.5" wide x 8.5" tall and subsequent issues measure 6 3/16" wide x 8.5" tall.

David Quint wrote:  I'm going with the JRCS Auction on the last page. I don't think we saw that again.

Bob Conrad wrote:  In response to the latest e newsletter, how about "The first ever JRCS auction" actually being the "Only" one? Dug out my copy and it was fun to look through. I still have the membership application and paste over "1820 Variety 13" sheet to be used for the Dime Book. It came with my copy of the Dime Book too, so this one stayed in the Journal.

I wonder if I got a copy sent to me free, to drum up business, since I was in BHNC? My thoughts were since I was in that plus EAC, what did I need another club for? Not collecting the other denominations. Boy was I wrong! Probably signed up at a show somewhere, since I still have the application in my Journal. I like that the basic Journal has stayed the same over the years. Same size and black and white. It also has expanded my interest into the other denominations.

Thanks for the good work!

Mike McDaniel wrote:  In regard to Dave's item in the June 18 JR Newsletter, Steve Herrman will surely treasure his pristine copy of JRJ Vol 1 No. 1.  I have a nice copy myself and reviewed it after reading your question in this week's newsletter re: the most unusual feature in the first JRJ issue.

Is the  answer to your question the item about the JRCS Auction #1 to raise funds for the society? I don't recall reading about subsequent JRCS auctions in other issues.

I would like to thank Bryce Brown and Kolbe & Fanning for providing me the opportunities via their websites and auctions to purchase an almost complete set of the JRJ.  The Newman Portal is a great resource to view and search e-copies of the JRJ, but I prefer to hold the journals in my hands when I read the informative articles.

Keep up the great work.

Later in the week, another response from Garrett Ziss:  I just arrived in Colorado Springs for the coin show tomorrow followed by Summer Seminar.  I have information at home to help figure out how many charter members of the JRCS there are.  As soon as I get home, I will get to the bottom of your question.

Regarding your second question, I am positive that there has not been a second JRCS auction.  The upcoming auction to raise money for the website will be the second auction.  It's coincidental that David Davis and Brad Karoleff have been the first and second JRCS presidents as well as the first and second JRCS auctioneers! (Assuming that Mr. Karoleff will be the auctioneer).

Bill Nyberg wrote:  The most unusual feature of Volume 1, Issue 1 of the John Reich Journal is on page 24, the J.R.C.S. Auction No. 1, for two half dimes and six dimes donated by a charter member for promotion and publication of the Journal.

Also, the size of the first issue was slightly wider, at 6 1/2", compared to about 6 1/4" for future issues. There were interesting Editor's Comments by David Davis, including the reason for selecting the name John Reich Collectors Society.

Having received so many responses (readers emailed both the editor of the JR Newsletter and David Perkins), David wrote a summary for us:

In the last issue of JR Newsletter,  I asked the question, “What was the most unusual feature in Issue 1 (of the John Reich Journal)?  One I don’t believe we have seen since.”   I received quite a few replies, and I learned something new.  In fact, I learned a couple of things new.

 The answer I was looking for regarding the most unusual feature in Volume 1 / Issue 1 was, “J.R.C.S. AUCTION No. 1.”  Yes, there was an auction in the first issue of the John Reich Journal.  It was placed on page 24, the last page before the back cover.

 The introduction to this auction sale stated in part, “One of our charter members was looking thru and old shoe box the other day when he discovered a few abandoned half dimes and dimes that needed a new home…. …The coins all grade BA (barely attributable) and command a minimum $2.00 opening bid.  All bear the provenance of being part of the first JRCS auction.”  All of the coins listed were in G-VG grades.  The auction listing was signed “THE MANAGEMENT.”

 Bids were to be sent to a Post Office in Ypsilanti, Michigan.  This likely makes David J. Davis, President of JRCS (at the time), the first (and only) JRCS Auctioneer.

If I had to make a guess, Russ Logan owned the shoe box…

I don’t know how many JRCS Charter Members there were.  In fact, I did not recall there were Charter Members for JRCS (but I was a member and received all three issues of Volume 1).  There appear to have been over 200 as “JRCS Member #233” wrote in a note to me with his answer to my question, “Dave Davis told me that I was one of the last Charter Members.”

I’ll leave our youngest member Garrett Ziss try to figure out how many Charter Members of JRCS there are!  The last count I could find was found under the “Editor’s Comments” in Volume 1 / Issue 3 noted, “JRCS now has 257 paid members and I am going to hold open the Charter membership roles [sic.] until I have heard from the people whose inquiries were received prior to the closing of the fiscal year.”

As I’m JRCS Member #165 I just learned that I am a Charter Member of JRCS.  Thank you #233!

There was another answer received from a number of members, a correct one that I was not aware of.  As one member’s reply simply said, “It was about ¼” wider than subsequent issues.”  I went to my shelf, pulled out the first two issues of Volume 1, and lo and behold he was correct!  To be exact, or to quote from Mr. Ziss, “Volume 1 / Issue 1 measures 6.5” wide x 8.5” tall and subsequent issues measure 6 3/16” wide x 8.5” tall.”   

[In the photo, Volume 1 / Issue 2 is on the top of Volume 1 / Issue 1, and the blue or gray streak on the right side is the difference in the width (approximately ¼”).]

Final Tally:  Five answers of the first auction, two others mentioning the size.  I was looking for the “first JRCS Auction,” but both answers work for me.  I’m grateful to the members who pointed this out, and I’m happy to learn I am a Charter Member of JRCS!

I don’t believe there was ever a second JRCS Auction.  One response that I received stated the same.  Garrett???

I would also like to pass on the following words from a Northern California collector, “I would like to thank Bryce Brown and Kolbe & Fanning for providing me the opportunities via their websites to purchase an almost complete set of the JRJ.”  He also added, “The Newman Portal is a great resource to view and search e-copies of the JRJ, but I prefer to hold the journals in my hands when I read the informative articles.”  I second this.

 Thanks to all who participated. My next question is, “By chance do any JRCS members or others have a Capped Bust Half Dime or Dime that pedigrees to this historic sale?”  And if so, an envelope or paperwork associated with the sale?
W. David Perkins
Centennial, CO

Finally, from Richard Meaney:

I like to do my best to stay in touch with the market for capped bust half dimes.  It is impossible to know the results of all transactions, since so many are private sales, but due diligence is important when attempting to assign rarity and value estimates to half dimes.  I'm sure many of our readers saw that last week, Stack's had an auction that included what I would call the "worst known" 1833 LM-5/V10 half dime.  This die marriage was "The Holy Grail" of capped bust half dimes when Logan and McCloskey published "Federal Half Dimes 1792-1837"

PCGS called the coin "Good details, Damaged" and you can see from the Stack's images, the coin is indeed quite damaged!

My count of known 1833 LM-5 half dimes was seven (before this coin).  I believe the census with this coin included would look something like this, grade-wise.  You will have to pardon the "descriptors" I use for each coin, but I needed something other than the collector's name to sort of describe each coin:

Stack's Damaged coin:  Net PO-01 or FA-02
2015 Auction (Perkins ANA Sale):  PCGS G-6
Private Sale circa 2015-2016:  PCGS VG-8
Ebay Find circa 2016-2017:  Raw F15-F18
Long Term in a Collection:  Raw VF-20
2009 raw eBay find:  PCGS XF-40
Discovery Coin:  AU
Finest, ex-Logan:  NGC MS-61

A link to the Stack's auction web page featuring what I figure is the eighth known example of this die marriage is here:

The coin sold for nearly $1,300!  So, is this the right price?  Did the buyer overpay?  Did the buyer underpay?  All are interesting questions without a definitive answer.  When pricing rarities, one must consider the scarcity of the coin (in this case, solid R-7), the grade of the coin, the grading service, the venue in which the coin is offered, the eye appeal of the coin, and, quite importantly in my mind, how many collectors are there who need one, want one, and are willing to buy the one being offered.

Two of the above factors deserve a bit of clarification.  I think venue matters because publicity matters.  Hard core half dime collectors who scour every source, every day are quite few in number.  Casual collectors who examine major auctions ("named auctions" such as Logan or Reiver; and the annual David Perkins auctions) are more prevalent.  My assessment is that to get the best price, a coin needs targeted exposure to casual collectors, since the hard core collectors are going to find out about it no matter what.  Similarly, I think the "who needs one" set of questions is also quite important.  Certainly, all collectors who seek half dimes by die marriage (and remarriage) would love to own specific rarities.  However, not all are willing to "settle" for a problem piece, a low grade coin, or even a coin below their desired threshold (some collectors don't collect half dimes below choice VF, for example…regardless of rarity!).

Considering these factors, we can conclude that some casual collectors likely did not even know about this 1833 LM-5 half dime at Stack's.  Other collectors possibly chose not to participate because of the coin's grade or damaged condition.  So did it sell for the right price?  We can conclude it did sell for the right price given the grade and venue.  I am confident, however, that this coin could have sold for a higher price had it received targeted publicity.  Of course, that's just one man's opinion.