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.