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Numismatic Quick Hits: Liberty “V” Murder Mystery + John W. Adams + Special Labels for 57th Street

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek …..
How many times has the United States employed Roman numerals on its coinage? The silver three-cent piece debuted in 1851 and announced its value by employing the Roman numeral III on the reverse. When the three-cent nickel came along in 1865, the III was retained. In 1881, Mint Superintendent A. Loudon Snowden tasked James Longacre to devise new designs for the cent, three-cent, and five-cent pieces utilizing the Roman numerals I, III, and V.

Of these designs, only the V entered circulation; the three-cent piece remained unchanged and was phased out in 1889.

The “V” nickel debuted in 1883 and proved immediately controversial. Not that the precedent hadn’t already been set by the three-cent silver and nickel coins, but fears that the larger nickel coin would be gold plated by criminals in order to pass it off as a $5 coin led to the word CENTS being added to the design halfway through the coin’s first year of production.

The next time a Roman numeral showed up was with the 1907, er, MCMVII Saint-Gaudens $20 double eagle gold coin. No other coins featured the Latinized date, and the Mint quickly reverted the double eagle back to traditional Arabic numerals at the end of 1907.

Roman numerals returned when the Mint revisited the Saint-Gaudens design for a series of gold bullion coins. From 1986 through 1991, the dates on these coins were inscribed MCMXXXVI, MCMXXXVII, MCMXXXVIII, MCMXXXIX, MCMXC, and MCMXCI. The Mint discontinued this practice in 1992.

To date, Roman numerals have appeared one more time, with the release of the Ultra High Relief Saint-Gaudens $20 .999 fine gold bullion coin in 2009.

1913 Liberty “V” Nickel Stars in Murder-Mystery Novella

Out of those 11 coins, only the enigmatic 1913 Liberty “V” nickel has captured the imagination of generations of collectors for more than a century. The coin’s mysterious origins and the public pursuit for examples, egged on by the promise of riches and rewards, have made it one of the most prized and well-known monetary items in United States history. Author David Carl Miekle celebrates the coin’s seductive allure with a novella entitled Nickelodium: A Novel Based on Historical Facts (available at amazon.com).

ANS Honors Adams

adams1John W. Adams, a noted numismatic researcher, will be presented with the Archer M. Huntington Award by the American Numismatic Society (ANS) “in recognition of outstanding career contributions to numismatic scholarship.” The ceremony will be held for ANS members on April 26, 2014, at the Massachusetts Historical Society building, located at 1154 Boylston Street in Boston. At the event, Adams will present the Silvia Mani Hurter Memorial Lecture, entitled “A Recidivist Collector.”

Adams has conducted exhaustive research in the field of early American coppers, numismatic literature, and American and European medals. An accomplished author, Adams’ book The Indian Peace Medals of George III, or, His Majesty’s Sometime Allies (1999) is essential reading for those in the field. More recently, Adams authored Medallic Portraits of Admiral Vernon (2010), with co-author Anne Bentley. Adams’ notable collection of large cents, including many rarities, was sold by Bowers & Merena in 1982.

Those interested in learning more about the American Numismatic Society should visit their website.

NGC to Certify “57th Street” Hoard, Creates Custom Labels

bowersNGC is offering special West 57th Street labels for Stack’s Bowers’ recently announced “million coin” hoard. The hoard’s moniker is derived from Stack’s 123 West 57th Street location in New York City. The company moved to that location in 1953. Previously, they were located at 32 West 64th Street.

Stack’s sent customers an email on March 26 to preview a showcase of toned, high-grade Morgan dollars, all in the new NGC label. The firm says that the first certified examples from the hoard will go on sale in late April via Stack’s weekly iAuctions.

At the recent Legendary Numismatists Symposium, Lawrence Stack said that the process of sorting and cataloging the hoard was ongoing.

Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker
Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker
Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker have been contributing authors on CoinWeek since 2012. They also wrote the monthly "Market Whimsy" column and various feature articles for The Numismatist and the book 100 Greatest Modern World Coins (2020) for Whitman Publishing.

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  1. Here is a list of numismatic books by Adams in my collection:
    Adams JW/Medals Concerning John Law and the Mississippi System [ANS NNM No. 167]
    Adams JW (Ed.)/Monographs on Varieties of United States Large Cents, 1793 – 1794
    [Quarterman reprint volume]
    Adams JW/The Indian Peace Medals of George III, or His Majesty’s Sometime Allies
    Adams JW/United States Numismatic Literature, Vol. I: Nineteenth Century Auction Catalogues
    [I have the first edition, and the revised edition with the update pamphlet]
    Adams JW/United States Numismatic Literature, Vol. II: Twentieth Century Auction Catalogues
    Adams JW & Bentley AE/Comitia Americana and Related Medals: Underappreciated
    Monuments to Our Heritage
    Adams JW & Chao F/Medallic Portraits of Admiral Vernon—Medals Sometimes Lie

    His two-volume set on U.S. numismatic auction catalogs is very important, and should be in the library of every collector interested in pre-WWII coin auctions.


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