By Q. David Bowers – Stack’s Bowers ……
I enjoy being part of the Stack’s Bowers Galleries team, including the auction program. Often I have contemplated a coin that would be nice to own–a Mint State 1839/6 cent, a lustrous 1794 or 1795 Flowing Hair dollar, an 1815 half eagle. These and other coins are favorites that (by me, at least) are to be contemplated, not owned. Tokens, old bank notes of New Hampshire, and other out-of-the way series have been specialties. By scanning or photographing them before putting them in a safe deposit box I can enjoy each item as much as I want with but the touch of a few keys on my laptop.
I do, however, collect some federal coins. I keep up my sets of modern coins–Jefferson nickels from 1938 to date; I enjoy my complete collection of Susan B. Anthony dollars 1979 to 1999–a small group of coins that could be replaced for less than $100 but with oh so much history. I was there when Frank Gasparro designed the coin and was at the launch ceremony.
There are also Sacagawea and other “golden” dollars, and more, all in book-type albums not much different from the albums of yesteryear. There are a few fascinating and somewhat weird variations among golden dollars–limited-edition issues such as those struck at the West Point Mint, for example. The Guide Book describes all.
In contrast to other modern series I have not collected Roosevelt dimes.
Minted with the same obverse and reverse designs since 1946 but with a change of metal in 1965, these motifs have been in place for over 60 years–coming close to challenging the winner for unchanged designs: the $2.50 quarter eagle gold coins made from 1840 to 1907. This reminds me that for Whitman Publishing I will be creating a special section on dimes from 1796 to date for the fourth Deluxe Edition of the Guide Book of United States Coins, better known as Mega Red. The current edition is over 1,500 pages and has a special section on nickel five-cent pieces.
If you don’t have a copy, track one down. It is a treasure trove of information.
For the dimes, Whitman will illustrate each and every date and mintmark. If you have a complete collection that has been photographed, as for a Registry Set, and would care to share the pictures, then Whitman can showcase your set. The reward will be a credit among the contributors.
In keeping up with my modern collections, I order the latest regular (not commemorative) issues, including the five different America the Beautiful quarters. I recently completed updating the second edition of my Official Red Book of Washington Quarters, which will be in press soon and will be released by Whitman this summer. Part of this update included researching and writing about the large number of Statehood and later quarters since 2006. I endeavored to learn just about everything I could, including details of the official launch ceremonies–who was there and what happened.
The point of this is that when the new book comes out, if you want to learn about the quarters issued in, say, 2013, get set for 10 or 20 minutes of reading! Although coins of our own time are often ignored, keeping up with the new issues that appeal to you can be very enjoyable and also inexpensive.
In the meantime, for older and rarer coins, tokens, medals, and paper money our June auction with the Baltimore Coin & Collectibles Expo is set to go. You can bid on line or in person. If in person in Baltimore, track me down and say hello.
All good wishes,