Saturday, October 6, 2012

Mint Cop Walks Off With Millions -- Didn't Get Far

A policeman working at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia helped himself to nearly two and one half million dollars in error coins. He got caught. He'll do time plus will have to make restitution and pay taxes. Story here, via CoinsWeekly.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Thief Spends Rare Old Coins on Pizza, Movie

The coins were part of a collection valued at $100,000. The thief and his girlfriend were hired by an elderly woman for handyman work, a kindness they repaid by ripping off her coin collection. Some of the coins turned up at a movie theater.

Friday, September 14, 2012

$100,000 Reward for Missing Double Eagle

The Numismatic Crime Information Center has posted a $100,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of a rare 1870 Carson City Gold Double Eagle stolen in a Brinks robbery last year.
The full story on the theft is here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Family to Appeal Gov't Seizure of Gold Coins

A very controversial case isn't settled yet, despite a judge's ruling (and the agreement of a jury) that several extraordinarily rare gold coins could not have been obtained legally -- and, therefore, belong to the U.S. government and not to the family that was in possession. The family says an appeal will be forthcoming.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Metal Detector Tracks Coin Thru Digestive Tract

Yes, this one's a bit odd. The kid swallowed a coin. Of course, parents want to know, well, how it's going. Uncle provides a metal detector so they can track "progress."

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Residential Theft Nets $500,000 coins, paper, watches

I don't usually post residential thefts because they are about as common as murders these days. Collectors like to keep their treasures at hand, either for show and tell or  just to enjoy personally. This theft though seemed almost like the robbery of a museum, so extensive was the haul. From the few reports of recoveries I have seen, those who suggest an "inside job" may be on the money. Not necessarily a friend or relation, sometimes hired help who get a sniff of valuables to be harvested.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fabulous Treasure Ship Gold To Be Auctioned

My friends at ESylum newsletter posted this link to a great story on treasure ship gold -- ten tons of it! -- and how one of the ingots is now headed for auction. In related news, there is some dispute about ownership of the trove, some of which, curiously enough, seems to have wandered off to Belize...

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Pocket Change" Penny Brings $20,700

Due to a slight difference in design from later mintings, a 1992-D penny brought $20,700 at a recent auction. According to the article, more examples of the same coin may be found in circulation.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Stories Were True! Knights Templar $500,000 Treasure Found

A treasure buried in Israel by a group of Knights Templar facing annihilation by a Muslim force has at last been found, gold coins valued at $500,000. It is the largest medieval gold hoard ever found in Israel. Thanks to E-Sylum newsletter for the tip.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Homeless Man Goes for the Gold and Gets it!

A homeless man found a stash of gold coins and cash along a riverbank in Bastrop County TX. After authorities had held the loot for ninety he claimed it as his own, with a little help from an attorney. He got his gold and cash, and he's gone. But the claims and inquiries are coming in -- just a bit late.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Ancient Coins "Worth Millions" Were Fakes, He's Busted Anyway

A prestigious surgeon who is also a world class coin collector tried to peddle three ancient coins which he believed to be worth millions. Turns out they were fakes but he is still guilty of the crime he thought he was committing.

Friday, June 29, 2012

30-Year Treasure Hunt Yields 50,000 Coins

A pair of determined treasure hunters on the Isle of Jersey eventually struck upon the largest hoard of Celtic coins ever found. The destiny of the coins depends on legal issues.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Brother can you spare a schneckentaler from Zug?

Numismatic research takes us down some strange byways, for instance, did you know that the snail has been regarded as a symbol of love? Perhaps like me you not only didn't know that but also had never heard of the schneckentaler from Zug, a coin upon which the snail image appears ... perhaps only to fill what would have been an empty space!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Brasher Doubloon Appraised at $10 Million

It may be the most valuable coin existing. Purchased in 1979 for $430,000, this particular Brasher Doubloon was recently credibly appraised at $10 million. Read on...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Robbers, Burglars Focus on Rare Coin Collectors, Dealers

Robbers and burglars are zeroing in on rare coin collectors and dealers with greater frequency because they may not encounter the security devices and witnesses present in targets such as banks. The take can be greater than in a bank robbery. The situations have become violent and even deadly. Story here.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Things Spies Hide in Coins

This is a general feature story on an exhibit but does mention two items that might be fun to research further, a poison pin hidden in a silver dollar and a coin containing microfilm.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Museum to Decipher Mystery Coin from a Garden

Should have an update on this one any day now, a coin found by a lady in her garden is being deciphered by a British museum. I can't make it out very well in the picture offered but sure looks like St. George and the Dragon, which would make the "pilgrimage" guess a good one.

Byzantine Gold Coin Clue to Shroud of Turin

You have to get down about halfway in the story to find the reference, a Byzantine gold coin bears an image comparable in many ways to the controversial Shroud of Turin image.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Exhibit Features the Value of Worthless Money

A trillion dollar note, now a collector item, was issued in Zimbabwe though its value was zilch in an economy where only U.S. paper currency survived as a medium of exchange. An exhibit focuses on what inflation does to a nation's money.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What the Heck is Hell Money?

Fascinating. It is money donated to the dead in Chinese culture, for them to spend in the afterlife. Colorful and intriguing. The site is a portal to a host of hoodoo and other esoteric pages (scroll down for info), a fun place to take a break from routine. This comes via the E-Sylum newsletter of the Numismatic Biblomania Society, a great source for all sorts of numismatic news and information.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Another "All That Glitters" Mystery Coin

I have been reading about the artistry of Chinese fakers and would certainly advise extreme caution in purchasing any valuable U.S. coins these days, they have it down to a science. On another matter, here is a link to a discussion of a "mystery coin" that was said to be fifty percent gold ... the stories about what a coin or other "rare" object is "said to be" go on and on and on. So, a link to the discussion. 

A Serious Problem for the Most Popular Gold Coin

The gold krugerrand of South Africa is probably the most popular gold coin among collectors and investors. A problem has been revealed involving a number of recently issued krugers, that being they are underweight. On the surface a bad thing, it is further a problem because many dealers and collectors rely on weight as a key element of authenticity. Here is the story.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Nationwide Crackdown on Sale of Counterfeit Rarities

The Secret Service is on the track of counterfeit rare U.S. coins that are appearing more and more often, and there have been arrests. Story here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Museum Theft = Probation, Community Service

A tour guide who helped himself to a portion of a traveling exhibit featuring gold coins was sentenced to three years probation, community service and he must attend a seminar on theft -- one assumes the seminar addresses the negative consequences. Details here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Libyan Looters Strike Under Cover of War

Investigators say it looks like an "inside job," ancient coins and relics termed "priceless" were pillaged from a bank vault while the Libyan revolution was going on. Thieves knew exactly where to find the treasure. Story here.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Smugglers Caught With Thousands of Ancient Coins

There have been increasing complaints about seizures of packets of ancient coins by U.S. Customs but the actions are not without basis. Were the perps not caught, what would have been the destiny of these coins? Obviously, attempts would be made to turn them into cash at one market or another... story here.

$1 Flea Market Find a $100,000 Treasure?

Skeptics at Esylum newsletter posted the link to an article but were doubtful about the veracity of the tale. Quite possibly great treasures may be found this way, but the logic of buying a rarity like this as a lucky piece seems a wee bit strange. No doubt there is more to the story -- meanwhile here's what we know.

Investigator Finds No Government Shield Against Counterfeiting Coins

Based on published and hushed up concerns about counterfeit coins in Europe and Great Britain, the investigator looked into current and proposed efforts to thwart coin counterfeiting in the U.S. -- and found none. Given legislation backed by metals groups, it could become a problem, or maybe it already is? I was wondering, would the metals groups really care whether coins are legit as long as they are metal?
See the story here.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

$10-Million Inherited Rare Coin Collection? Or, Chinese Junk?

A rare coin collection worth an estimated $10-million if genuine, said to have been begun in the 1930s, has been described by a coin expert as composed mostly of recent Chinese counterfeits. The buyer may have thought he got a "steal" at $70,000, and, while possibly true, it was of a different sort than expected. The truth of the matter is up to the court to decide, story here via Coin World magazine.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Nearly a $Million in Gold Tumbles From Attic

Workers involved in renovations in a building belonging to a champagne producer in France struck gold when coins began literally falling from above. The merchant will split the hoard with the workers who found it. Thanks to Esylum newsletter for catching this one. Story here.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Millions of Liberty Dollars Subject to Seizure

Millions of "Liberty Dollars" issued privately by entrepreneur Bernard von Nothaus can be seized by federal agents as counterfeit U.S. currency, according to a report in Coin World. Von Nothaus, founder of NORFED (National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve and the Internal Revenue Code), was recently convicted of several violations of U.S. law for issuing his "alternative" currency in copper, silver and gold. The coins are apparently still traded on auctions sites and at coin shows. The only consequences reported so far have been cancellation of an "educational" exhibit of the coins by show sponsors fearful of a raid by law enforcement. Here's an article on the issue, and for an interesting look at how emotionally charged this matter is, check out the comments.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Missouri Museum Heist An "Inside Job"

It's not unusual that thefts from an institution or place of business are the work of someone associated with the concern, here we have a small stash of gold coins disappearing into the pockets of a museum tour guide. From the deals offered for return of the coins, looks to me like he got a raw deal when he gave back his loot ... but then, given other problems at ANA, which had loaned the coins, that outfit probably isn't in a forgiving mood.

Monday, February 6, 2012

TSA's Coin Collection: $400,000 in One Year!

Small change apparently doesn't matter much to passengers hustling through the airport security checks, or maybe they've got a few foreign coins that they won't be needing? It all adds up though. In one year TSA harvested around $400,000 in left-behind change, according to this report in USA Today.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Library's "Mystery Coins" Are Merchant Tokens

I would go with the first answer provided at the site, the coins are tokens issued for promotion by various merchants. If you know more I'm sure the Library would appreciate further info. Surprised that the Token and Medal Society hasn't weighed in. But I recently wrote to one of their officials about a token with which he should have been familiar, the reply was kind of dismissive. Strange way to win new members. Well, anyway, here is the Mystery Coin site.

Monday, January 23, 2012

eBay's Replica Coin Ban -- Further Details

eBay's ban on replica coins, including those marked in accordance with the law as copies, will only apply to the U.S. site. I have yet to see if it applies to replica medals such as the recent spate of "tribute" medals appearing on the site. Most likely it is only aimed at the flood of Chinese counterfeits of collectible U.S. coins hitting the market lately. No doubt it will be quite a circus for a while as there are surely a lot of unsophisticated sellers who don't know they are offering junk. Here's a story with more details.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why Ancient Coins Are Being Seized by Customs Agents

There have been a number of stories recently about ancient coins being seized when they are shipped from one country to another. While the blogs mentioned here cover "theft of culture" in general, that is where the answer lies regarding ancient coins. They are considered heritage and in many countries that now means "not for sale."

Saturday, January 21, 2012


It is interesting that eBay has banned replica coins and will be all the more interesting to see how they police the ban. Meanwhile, here is a link to the Coin Forgery Discussion List collection of sites dealing with fakes, forgeries and replicas. Be cautious in clicking through to the various sites, I noticed a lot of spam on last visit and don't know where it leads, perhaps to an infectious site.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

$300 Billion Found in Philippine Jungle? Umm... Maybe Not

This is a great story with a lot of fascinating detail, and it serves as another reminder that what seems to be too good to be true invariably is too good to be true. Reminds me of a bond story I worked on some years ago where the bonds supposedly issued in the 1930s included a zip code address for the U.S. Treasury Department. Anyway, here's the story.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stolen Coin Recovery: A Good Question

The recent report on theft from the American Numismatic Association prompted a good question regarding those who unknowingly purchase stolen coins. What recourse do buyers have when it turns out the coin they bought is hot? Here's a bit of discussion on the matter but seems to me a good solid answer is still pending.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Glamor of Treasure Ship Coins Doesn't Equal Good Investment

You might think coins hauled up from a sunken treasure ship would be very collectible and offer good investment potential, but it ain't necessarily so. Some of the reasons are given in this article.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Rare Coin Theft Netted Nearly a Million$ -- Maybe More?

Museums hate to admit theft by employees though it's fairly common. They'd as soon hush it up as deal with the bad publicity -- they thrive, often, on donors and don't want to spook them. This case seems resolved though. But you have to wonder, this wasn't just a custodian popping something into his pocket, this guy had oversight of a huge collection of rarities. Maybe ANA has a great inventory system. Or maybe the guy is smiling in the pix because he knows what wasn't found?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Strange, Weird and Odd Money includes Salt, Tea and Throwing Knives

From the latest Esylum newsletter:

Charles Opitz has just released his newest book on odd & curious money. This 840 page digital book has over 2,800 full color pictures and is one of the first all digital books on the subject. It is in the same format as “A Ethnographic Study of Traditional Money” also by Charles Opitz. It is an expanded version of his previous book and it will replace that book. The digital book covers the entire world of odd & curious money including sycee, throwing knives, wampum, shell money, beads, Yap stones, mokos, manilla varieties, salt money, tea money, playing card money, bullet money, and axes.

A section of the book details three trips taken by Charles Opitz to 1973 Papua New Guinea, 1995 Trobriand Islands and 2003 Yap & Palau. On the trips Opitz purchased many traditional money items, many of which were still being used by the natives. The bibliography lists more than 600 books used in the research. Most of the pictures are of pieces in Opitz’s collection.

The CD is only available from the author, Charles Opitz, 2471 SW 37 St., Ocala, FL 34471 at a cost of $5.00 plus $3.00 postage for a total of $8.00. The postage is for both US and foreign

More info on Esylum newsletter, published by the Numismatic Bibliomania Society, may be found at THIS site.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Most Popular Story: Stolen Rare Coins Swapped for Quick Counting-Machine Cash

As I've mentioned, practically every day there's a story or three on theft of rare coins, sometimes from dealers, often in residential burglaries. Most often the stories come and go, picked up on a web site or so and then forgotten. This one for some reason captured a lot of attention, without even serious searching I've run across a dozen sites reporting it...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Peculiar Case of the Bug-Eyed King

An interesting discussion of a coin depicting an ancient Norwegian king with remarkably protruding eyeballs. Did he suffer from a medical condition? Was he the victim of an aberrant portrait artist? Much to ponder here.

Fascinating Tales of the King of Coins, the 1804 Silver Dollar

This feature story gathers up a great many tales, true and false, regarding the strange history of the 1804 silver dollar -- twice restruck in later years and often faked. Details here.