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Bernard von NotHaus’s Liberty Dollar is Back

By Al Doyle for CoinWeek …..

The Liberty Dollar – a one-ounce silver medallion that attracted the attention and wrath of the Federal Government and resulted in a pending prison sentence for its creator – is back in a revised form.

Although the New Liberty Dollar retains the main design elements of a Liberty head on the obverse and a torch on the reverse, the legends and other features have been changed to avoid some of the points of contention made by the Government in its 2009 case against Bernard von NotHaus.

The original Liberty Dollar had a “face value” of $20, which was displayed numerically and spelled out on the reverse. As for the updated version, it may be the first silver round with an MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price). In this instance, the sum is $50, and it’s noted numerically and spelled out as “FIFTY NEW DOLLARS” on the bottom quarter of the reverse.

New Liberty DollarJust to be absolutely certain that no one confuses a New Liberty Dollar with anything coined by the Federal Government, the phrase PRIVATE INFLATION PROOF CURRENCY appears on the reverse. The date has moved from the reverse to the obverse where it replaces “USA”. The phrase TRUST IN GOD has been changed to RIGHT TO CONTRACT.

All the modifications were made after thorough study of the transcripts of the von NotHaus case and consultation with attorneys, according to New Liberty Dollar issuer Joseph Vaughn-Perling.

“I took off anything that might have been questioned or associated with U.S. coins such as GOD WE TRUST, which sounds much like IN GOD WE TRUST. Even though I’d like to put Made in America on the New Liberty Dollar, I took off anything that was unique to the United States.”

Vaughn-Perling’s caution is understandable when the von NotHaus trial and conviction (he has awaited sentencing since 2011) is examined. Among the multiple charges made by the Government was counterfeiting, which is somewhat illogical given that the defendant was producing silver rounds when circulating coinage hasn’t been made of precious metals for almost 60 years. United States District Attorney Anna M. Tompkins went so far as to accuse von NotHaus of practicing “a unique form of domestic terrorism.

“I have been buying silver for a long time, including the original Liberty Dollar,” Vaughn-Perling said. “The federal case got me interested in doing this. The NORFED (von NotHaus founded the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve and Internal Revenue Code) case struck me as an absolute parody of justice. It’s a fraud case without any victims. The item in question was worth more than people paid.”

It might take some searching to find a New Liberty Dollar today, as the product is in the early or test marketing stages. Some bullion dealers and other distributors have them in stock, but the firm isn’t selling directly to the public.

Once they do, it will take more than hitting the send button and transmitting payment to obtain the prooflike medals. These one-ouncers will be sold only to “qualified buyers” who have read and signed off on the disclosure forms that declare the New Liberty Dollar is not a U.S. coin or designed to be similar to a government-issued monetary item.

“Buyers sign a contract after reading a disclaimer,” said Vaughn-Perling. “They have to have knowledge of what they’re buying.”

As with any other silver product, sellers are free to set any price they choose. Dealers may obtain New Liberty Dollars in 10,000-piece lots for $1.40/ounce above spot. Silver investors shouldn’t consider the stated MSRP to have anything to do with the face value found on a legal tender coin.

“It’s not a value, it’s a price,” Vaughn-Perling insists. “There were a lot of false assumptions about the NORFED case in the popular press, but there have never been any U.S. silver coins with a $50 face value. Nobody has ever seen one. It can’t be a counterfeit.”

Earlier versions of the Liberty Dollar are banned from eBay, and the medallions are popular with collectors and libertarian-minded types. A run of Ron Paul medallions are especially sought after, as pieces bearing the portrait of the freedom-minded former congressman sell for sums far in excess of the original purchase price.

“People give me lots of ideas for different designs, but I don’t think I’ll ever come out with a Ron Paul anything,” Vaughn-Perling said. “My personal feelings don’t come out in this project. I have been very careful to have no political message at all. I don’t have any of the political goals that were inherent in the NORFED organization.”

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Al Doyle
Al Doyle
Al Doyle has written about coins for several different publishers, including the columns "$100 and Under" (2013- ) and "Budget Minded" (2022- ) for The Numismatist. Al has also written for the Chicago Tribune newspaper.

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