Sunday, December 29, 2019

JR Newsletter: 29 December 2019 (478)

David Finkelstein wrote:

During the JRCS Meeting at the 2018 Summer ANA, David Finkelstein and Christopher Pilliod reviewed Phase 1 of their research project that focused on performing chemical analyses on 1794 and 1795 dated U. S. copper and silver coins.  Based on preliminary analysis, it was determined that non-destructive methods were inadequate for providing the accuracy needed for any meaningful determinations.  As such, a population of early half dollars were destroyed and chemical analyses were performed using X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) and Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-AES) technologies.

Statistical analyses proved that the Mint violated the silver coin standard of the Mint and Coinage Act of April 2, 1792.  Instead of targeting silver coins to the legal standard of 89.24% silver and 10.76% copper alloy, the Mint appears to have targeted the majority of 1795 dated silver coins to a standard of 90.00% silver and 10.00% copper alloy.

Since August 2018, chemical analyses of additional copper and silver coins have been performed.  In addition, a third chemical analysis technology, Titration, was utilized.  At the JRCS Meeting at the 2020 FUN Show, David Finkelstein and Christopher Pilliod will present Phase 2 of their research project.

Editor's note:  The JRCS meeting will be Friday, January 10, 2020 from 8:30 to 9:45 AM in room W303A of the Orange County Convention Center.

Brad DePew wrote:

I found a very worn 1814 Bust dime with the reverse rotated 180 degrees. The coin is in poor condition on the reverse, but there is a decent enough outline of the eagle that it shows clearly.  I have seen some with rotation, but this looks like it is close to even. I thought it is either rotated, a forgery or a pattern (which is doubtful). Any ideas?

Brad DePew

Brad Karoleff wrote:

If you are submitting nominations for the JRCS Hall of Fame, the email address for nominations as printed in the JR Journal Editor’s Comments (December 2019) was incorrect.  The correct email address for nominations is richard.meaney(at)

Ron Guth wrote:

A friend asked what criteria I was using to develop the Capped Bust Dime Census, and he asked some great questions, such as: “Where did the grades come from?” and “Do you consider eye appeal?

The census I’m building is a list of the top ten finest examples known to me.  It is based on a search through thousands of auctions and literally millions of auction records and public sales where a coin is either imaged or identified by a certification number.  The listing shows the most recent grades known to me, and the images are matched to combine multiple appearances of the same coin.  This means that some coins may have appeared in multiple auctions over many years, often in a variety of grades and certified by different services. The data presented in the census is objective and it is based strictly on numbers, reflecting the influence of the set registry competitions.  No discount or premium is given to any service.  Eye appeal is assumed to be baked into the grade; however, I do note if a coin is in an old holder or if it has been certified by CAC.  Certified coins are given a preference over raw coins.

This method of building the census means several things.  Most importantly, this census can survive beyond me because it is not based on my opinions.  Rather, it can be maintained or updated easily by anyone using the same criteria, assuming they are willing to put in the time and effort.  The census can be expected to change frequently as new coins are identified or the grades change or coins reappear.  For these reasons, I don’t assign numbers to the rankings because I know they will change. 

There may be instances where there are more deserving coins than there are slots in the census.  For instance, if there is room for only three MS65’s in the census, but PCGS and NGC combined have graded twenty MS65’s, the first three that get my attention (by dint of their provenance, unusually high price, their rarity as a variety, or any other arbitrary factor) will make the census and my attention will then shift to searching for coins in better grades.  The only way to lobby for a raw coin or a higher grade is to have it certified or regraded.

The census is not set in stone; rather, it is a snapshot taken at a particular moment in time.  Because of the potential for change, the census should be viewed as a starting point for collectors to determine if their coin is special by reason of its high quality, how it compares to other coins of its type, and whether it is a candidate for the finest known example of the type, date, or variety.

Happy New year to all!