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The Full Library of Gary's Coin of the Month Journals

Category:  Series Sets
Owner:  coinsbygary
Last Modified:  8/12/2014
Set Description

“The Full Library of Gary’s Coin of the Month Journals” represents much of what I enjoy about numismatics and coin collecting. Besides collecting coins, I also enjoy history, writing, and photography. All of these aspects combine into what has become “Gary’s Coin of the Month”.

More than merely collecting coins into sets, I want to know the “who, what, where, when, and whys” of the particular coins that I collect. Concisely, I have a desire to know "who" designed or commissioned the minting of my coin. I want to know "what" my coin means, or the message it is conveying other than that of a medium of exchange. The "where" of my coin centers on the nation issuing the coin and its peoples. The "when" of my coin brings into focus the coin’s historical context, and the "why" is my desire to know for what purpose the coin was minted.

These curiosities coupled with my love of writing and a desire to present my coins in a way that is aesthetically pleasing to the readers of my articles led to “Gary’s Coin of the Month.” The goals of “Gary’s Coin of the Month” are simple. First, I research the coin in hopes of discovering the “five Ws" associated with that coin as listed in the previous paragraph. Then I condense my findings into the points I wish to make and re-tell the coin’s story in my own words. Finally, I take high-quality photographs of my coins and edit those into collages using Photoshop Elements to create artistic images.

One of the things I enjoy about writing is the ability to editorialize and articulate what I think are the main themes of a coin. Additionally, I try to keep things simple and interesting in the hope that my readers will take away something of relevance to them. Moreover, I enjoy the feedback I receive from my readers both good and bad. That feedback consistently encourages me to improve upon my writing skills.

The coins I have featured come from all over the world representing five continents. In terms of the featured coin’s surface condition, my “Coin of the Month” articles have highlighted coins with all types of surface conditions minted in a variety of metals. Generally speaking, the coins I highlight fit into one of my custom or registry sets, and oftentimes I will incorporate the “Coin of the Month” post into the coins' Owners Comments portion of the set that it is contained.

Please enjoy perusing my set, and in particular view all the pictures of my coins using the slide show feature. A few of my articles have been condensed to fit into the Owner Comments.

Slot Name
Item Description
Full Grade
Owner Comments
View Coin September 2011 LIBERIA $40 2002 FLOWING HAIR STELLA PCGS PF 69 Ultra Cameo When I was a young lad, I spent countless hours thumbing through the Redbook of United States Coins dreaming of the coins I wanted to collect. Two of many coins I dreamed of owning were the type 1 and type 2 $4 gold Stellas (Stella is the Latin word for star). Endearing me to both of these coins is the fact that they are an oddity, struck in gold, and are rare. The fact that they are also expensive to own did not deter me from dreaming but realistically, owning just one of these gems, let alone both coins is never likely to happen.

Several years ago, I considered buying Stella copies to supplement my gold type collection. After all what other alternatives were there other than purchasing the real thing. This was until I discovered suitable substitutes from Liberia representing both coin types that were most importantly, affordable. With that, I purchased both coins for my collection.

The Republic of Liberia issues several coins as tributes to famous and rare United States pattern coins. Among them are the type 1 and type 2 Stellas. The obverses of both coins are reminiscent of the original type 1 Stella designed by Charles Barber, and the type 2 designed by George T Morgan. The common reverse has a similar 5 point star, or Stella with the inscription, 1 Stella/4000 Cents. The Latin motto Deo Est Gloria (God is Glorious) is the same as the original $4 Stella and the face value of the Liberian coins is $40 rather than $4. The obverse lettering is very much like that of the original $4 Stella and has the coins weight and fineness delimited by thirteen stars. These two Liberian gold coins issued in 2002 are graded by PCGS at PR-69 DCAM and weighs 7.78 grams or .25 ounces AGW with a fineness of .999. The Liberian type 1 coin has a mintage of 410, and the type 2 has a mintage of 380. Needless to say, I am quite pleased with both these alternatives.

The 1879 and 1880, Type 1 and Type 2 $4 Stellas have an interesting and somewhat scandalous story. In 1879, Congressman John Kasson introduced to Congress a new goloid composition $4 coin as an international coin that would trade equally with the French 20 franc coin, the Spanish 20 pesetas, the Dutch and Austrian 8 florins, and the Italian 20 lire. Several hundred of these pattern coins or Stellas circulated among the members of Congress. However, the Stella was a solution in search of a problem and never became a regular issue coin as Congress was content to allow the Double-Eagle to serve as a medium of exchange in Europe.

During the early 1880s, madams operating from Washingtons most popular brothels were seen wearing Stellas as jewelry. Just how the madams acquired those Stellas I will leave that up to you to figure out. On the surface though, it would seem that some things never change and that there is nothing new under the sun just as the writer of Ecclesiastes states.

In summary, neither of these coins currently appears in any of my registry sets, but nonetheless, are integral pieces in my collection. I know these coins are a far cry from the real thing, but you must admit they are as close as you can get without owning the real thing. My favorite coin of the two is the type 2.
View Coin October 2011 VATICAN - DECIMAL 50L 1988R X CREATION OF EVE NGC MS 67 My October Coin of the Month (Volume 1 Number 2) is a 1988 Vatican City 50 Lira coin commemorating the Creation of Eve.

This months coin of the month comes by the way of The BRG Collection and it is because of his E-Bay listing tip and recommendation that I currently own this coin. One of many things I like about Collectors Society is when any one of its members spots a coin that may fit in another members collection that they will often notify that member of the buying opportunity. I have done this in the past for other collectors, just as they have done it for me.

There are times when my coin collecting interests intersect with my Christian faith, and this coin represents one of those times in its depiction of the creation of Eve. The NGC MS-67 1988 Vatican City 50 Lira coin (Y#208) is struck in stainless steel, weighs 6.2 grams, and is 24.8 mm in diameter. The obverse of this coin features a bust Pope John Paul II, with the Roman Numerals X MCMLXXXVIII to represent the tenth year of Pope John Paul IIs papacy in 1988. The name of the coins engraver is Guido Veroi, and his name appears just below Pope John Pauls bust. The reverse features a large portrait of God as a bearded man breathing into Eve the breath of life. Eve appears to be coming forth out of the womb of Adam as he sleeps with her arms raised in worship to God, and her body enveloped with the breath of life. Additionally, there is an R mintmark on the reverse to the left of the coins L. 50 face value, representing that the coin was minted in Rome. Unfortunately, I was unable to find this coins mintage.

When The BRG Collection recommended this coin to me, he did so thinking it would be a good coin for my Inspirational Ladies custom set. At first, I was hesitant to add this coin to my set because this set is a positive, non-sexist portrayal of inspirational women and allegorical virtues. This coin, however, albeit Biblical, portrays Eve as a naked woman. After a few back and forth e-mails with The BRG Collection, I decided to buy the coin anyway and figure out later how to integrate it into my collection. After all this coin IS an accurate, yet tactfully done, representation of the Genesis account of creation. Furthermore, although I am not a Catholic, this coin does come from Vatican City.

Left with the problem of how to integrate this coin into my collection, I read the Genesis account of creation from the Bible for a little inspiration on how best to present this coin. According to Genesis, this started when there was no companion in all of creation compatible to Adam, causing God to declare, it is not good for man to be alone. Next, I thought of the inspiration Adam must have felt when he got up and saw his wife for the first time! Then it came to me, since Eve is the first wife of the first marriage, I have fittingly dedicated my coin to the countless number of wives who throughout human history have been great inspirations to their husbands.

The Holy Bible in Genesis 2:18-25 states: Then the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him. Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, this at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man. Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
View Coin November 2011 AUSTRIA - EMPIRE - 1857-1918 100C 1908 AUSTRIA 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF REIGN NCS AU This months coin of the month (Volume 1 Number 3) comes from Austria and is part of my Inspiration Ladies custom set.

The coin I am featuring this month is widely considered as one of the most beautiful coins in the world. The obverse features a bust of Emperor Franz Joseph 1st and commemorates the sixtieth anniversary of his reign over the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The reverse design often referred to as The Lady in the Clouds is a representation of Klymene, the Titan goddess of Fame.

This NCS/NGC AU details, 1908 100 Corona gold coin (KM# 2812) is 37mm in diameter and weighs 33.8753 grams. The metallic composition of this coin is .9000 gold at .9803 Oz AGW. The designer of this coin is Rudolf Marschall, and the mintage is 16,000. I bought this coin from an E-Bay seller in Germany.

The Latin inscription on the obverse of this coin around the perimeter is translated Franz Joseph by the grace of God, Emperor of Austria, King of Bohemia, Galicia, Illyria, etc. and elected king of Hungary. The central device on the coins obverse is a right facing bust of Emperor Franz Joseph 1. Additionally, there is Latin phrase in incuse lettering around the plain edge of this coin. That phrase, VIRIBVS VNITIS is the emperors personal motto and is translated With United Forces.

On December 2, 1848, Franz Joseph 1 became Emperor of Austria succeeding his uncle Ferdinand 1. This began a reign that would last nearly 68 years until his death on November 21, 1916. Throughout his reign, various nationalists disputed the reign of Franz Joseph. One such dispute led to the Austro-Hungarian compromise of 1867, uniting the empire under one king but ceding certain rights and autonomy to Hungary. Then in 1908 (the year that my coin was minted), Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina and consequently, on June 28, 1914, Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip assassinated the heir to the throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Shortly thereafter, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia thus triggering several opposing alliances to usher in the beginning of World War 1. Franz Josephs grandnephew Charles 1 succeeded him on the throne at his death in 1916, and became the final emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The monarchy dissolved following World War 1 on November 12, 1918.

The reverse inscriptions on this coin display the coins face value of 100 Cor. along with the dates 1848 and 1908. The Latin phrase DVODECIM LVSTRIS GLORIOSE PERACTIS appears on the lower-center of the reverse and is translated 60 years gloriously accomplished. The central device on the reverse is an image of Klymene, the Titan goddess of Fame. Klymene appears at rest, reclining in the clouds and leaning on a shield displaying the coat of arms of the Austrian Empire. In her right hand is laurel wreath symbolizing victory, achievement, prosperity, status, and of course fame. In the field around and behind Klymene are rays of sunlight. A heavenly or celestial setting accentuates the glorious reign theme of this coin.

Klymene is the Titan goddess of fame, renown, and infamy. Kymene was married to the Titan god Iapetos and two of her better-known offspring are Prometheus and Atlas. Another name Klymene is known by is Asia and as such, she was the goddess of Asia-Minor. Klymene was also the handmaiden of Hera, the wife of Zeus. At The Judgment of Paris Hera probably offered Paris of Troy the fame of rulership in return for Paris awarding her the golden apple. Subsequently, Paris awarded the golden apple to Aphrodite in exchange for the hand of Helene in marriage. The abduction of Helene led to the Trojan War and the rest as they say is mythology.

The coat of arms on the shield portrays a crowned double-headed eagle underneath a single crown. In the left talon of the eagle is a cross-bearing orb and in its right talon, a scepter and a sword, and these items represent the church and state respectively. The crowned double-headed eagle underneath the single crown represents that Emperor Franz Joseph 1 has authority over both church and state. The crest on the eagles breast represents the House of Habsburg-Lorraine of which Franz Joseph is a family member.

Finally, I hope you enjoy my post of the Coin of the Month. This is one of my favorite coins because it is beautiful, has a strong allegory, and a fascinating relationship to world history. All these things make it an exceptional addition to my Inspirational Ladies custom set. Since my coin is details graded, I may purchase an upgrade to it at some point. However, for now, I am quite content with this specimen.
View Coin December 2011 THAILAND X G300B BE2511(1968) THAILAND QUEEN SIRIKIT'S BIRTHDAY NGC MS 66 Greetings everyone, in celebration of my daughters birthday, I present to you the December Coin of the Month (Volume 1 Number 4).

About three and a half years ago, I purchased a 300 Baht gold coin from Thailand as a memento to my daughter teaching English in Thailand. I still remember showing her the coin and saying, I bet you never spent one of these. To no ones surprise, she replied that she had not. Also issued in denominations of 150 and 600 Baht, this coin commemorates the thirty-sixth birthday of Queen Sirikit whose philanthropic activities make it a fine addition to my Inspirational Ladies custom set.

The coin, a Thailand BE2511(1968) 300 Baht gold coin (Y#89) grading MS-66 by NGC is 20mm in diameter, has a reeded edge, weighs 7.5 grams, and has a mintage og 101,000. The metallic composition of the coin is .900 fine gold at .2170 oz. AGW.

For help in translating the inscriptions on the obverse and reverse of this attractive coin, I enlisted the help of nephilim. Nephilim introduced himself a few years ago in a post as a Collectors-Society member from Thailand.

The obverse of this coin features a right facing bust of Queen Sirikit of Thailand. Two inscriptions around the rim of the obverse give the queens full name and the birthday she is celebrating. Queen Sirikits full name is Somdet Phra Nang Chao Sirikit Phra Borommarachininat and the other inscription is thirty-sixth birthday. According to the Chinese Zodiac, Queen Sirikit was born in the year of the monkey on August 12, 1932. There are 12 animal signs associated with the Chinese Zodiac to represent a 12-year life cycle. Significant birthdays occur every 12 years when you cycle back to your birth animal. Thus, Queen Sirikits thirty-sixth birthday occurs on her third life cycle.

The central device on the reverse features a crown over the queens personal monogram inside a wreath. The inscriptions on the reverse are Government 12 August 2511(1968) and 300 Baht. Since the primary religion in Thailand is Buddhism, the official calendar of Thailand is the Buddhist Era calendar. Therefore, just as our calendar is based on the birth of Jesus Christ, the Thai calendar is based on the death of Gautama Buddha, believed to have died on March 11, 545 B.C. Since the Buddhist Era calendar was established in 1912, there have been a few minor changes in the reckoning of dates to bring it more in line with the Gregorian calendar. Thus to convert an Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord) year (1968) to a Buddhist Era year you add 543 years (BE2511).

The people of Thailand adore Queen Sirikit and just as with her husband, King Rama IX her birthday is a national holiday. Queen Sirikit is also widely acknowledged as the Mother of the Thai People and her birthday was adopted as Mothers Day in Thailand. On April 28, 1950, Queen Sirikit and King Rama IX were married just prior to the kings official coronation making them among the longest reigning monarchs in the world today. Queen Sirikit is also the head of the Thai Red Cross, a post she has held since 1956. As the president of the Red Cross, Queen Sirikit was instrumental in the relief efforts following the December 2004 tsunami. In relation to issues concerning human suffering, Queen Sirikit has worked to aid refugees seeking refuge in Thailand and established programs to aid farmers who comprise 80% of Thailand’s population. As an advocate for women, Queen Sirikit was instrumental in the opening of the Queen Sirikit Centre for Breast Cancer. In her words the center is, a sanctuary for women in need. Queen Sirikit is also a conservationist, working hard to reforest her country and clean up pollution. In all, Queen Sirikit has received many honors and awards for her work. She has also received over 30 honorary degrees and numerous public facilities throughout Thailand are named after her.
View Coin January 2012 United States $1 1896 PCGS MS 65 In anticipation of the return of the silver dollar as a circulating coin, Mint Director Henry Linderman hired George T. Morgan in 1876 as an assistant engraver for the express purpose of designing a new silver dollar. Shortly thereafter, Morgan finished the reverse design, but the obverse design of the new dollar would be quite another issue. Then later in 1876 through a common friend, Thomas Eakins, Morgan found in the facial profile of Miss Anna W. Williams the perfect representation of the “Goddess of Liberty” for his dollar coin.

Miss Anna Williams, an art student in Philadelphia, was a modest 18-year-old girl. She did not crave notoriety or fame, but rather desired to pursue her passion as a schoolteacher in relative obscurity. When first asked to model for Morgan, she soundly refused. Through the encouragement of her friend Thomas Eakins, she finally agreed to model for Morgan under the stipulation that her identity remained anonymous. The official cover story would be that Morgan got the inspiration for his dollar from a Greek figure at the Philadelphia Academy of Art.

With final approval for the silver dollar design and passage of the Bland-Allison Act occurring on the same day, minting of the Morgan Dollar began in 1878. Unfortunately, the secret identity of “Lady Liberty” on the Morgan Dollar would be short-lived and in the summer of 1879, a Philadelphia newspaper revealed Anna Williams identity and dubbed her “The Silver Dollar Girl”.

This in turn brought a deluge of unwanted attention to Miss Anna W. Williams, then a schoolteacher at The House of Refuge. Fortunately, for Anna, this sudden surge of notoriety eventually subsided. However, in years to follow, Anna would reappear in the limelight and her decision to model for Morgan would vex her for the rest of her life.

In 1891, Anna Williams accepted a $60/month offer as a teacher of kindergarten philosophy at the Girl’s Normal School. In spite of the unwanted publicity as “The Silver Dollar Girl”, Anna became an accomplished teacher in her own rite. Anna’s literary talents allowed her to publish numerous articles in current periodicals and win an award for the best original essay on psychology. Consequently, this talent called her to several cities where she gave lectures on the topic of kindergarten teaching. Later Anna became the supervisor of kindergartens in Philadelphia, a position she held for more than 25 years until her retirement. Anna rarely granted interviews, but when she did, she used her notoriety as Morgan’s “Goddess of Liberty” as an opportunity to talk about the issues with which she was passionate.

Anna returned to the limelight in 1892 when she found herself and a print of her bust the subject of an article in “The Ladies Home Journal”. In 1896, Anna announced her engagement to be married. That announcement in turn was reprinted in the May 1896 issue of the ANA journal, “The Numismatist”. For whatever reason, the engagement broke off and Anna never married. While there are several theories as to why this occurred, I believe the excessive publicity surrounding the engagement eventually doomed it.

The broken engagement represents a sad chapter in Anna’s life and her constant struggle for any sense of normalcy. This in turn is why I choose the 1896 Morgan Dollar to represent Miss Anna W. William’s story. Sometimes I wonder if every time Anna handled one of these coins, it served as a constant reminder to her. Fortunately, for her, Morgan Dollars in Philadelphia circulated about as much as dollar coins do today.

Always the schoolteacher, Anna even in retirement advocated for compulsory kindergarten education for all students in Philadelphia. Then on April 17, 1926, Anna Willis Williams died in her hometown of Philadelphia at the age of 68. Anna’s obituary also appeared in the May 1926 issue of “The Numismatist”.

Surprisingly, with very little evidence to the contrary, there is still some speculation as to the identity of Lady Liberty on the Morgan Dollar. A letter sent from Morgan’s daughter to her daughter is the primary reason for doubt. In that letter Morgan’s daughter states, “Father always said no matter how many models posed for him that he never bid any, and that he made up the obverse himself”. However, from Anna’s perspective, she is quoted describing her role as Lady Liberty as, “an incident of my youth”. I think regardless of what happened, Morgan was going to keep up his end of the anonymity bargain, and the model for the Morgan Dollar is indeed that of Anna W. Williams. I am also posting a photo collage of a print I purchased on ebid alongside the obverse of the 1896 Morgan Dollar from my collection. For me this is the primary piece of evidence to the identity controversy concerning the Morgan dollar, as the resemblance is unmistakable.
View Coin February 2012 GREAT BRITAIN 1816-1901 1/2P 1858/6 G.britain NGC AU 55 BN The 1858/6 Great Britain halfpenny (KM#726) is a copper coin, 28 mm in diameter, and weighing 9.1-9.5 grams with a mintage of 2,473,000. The obverse features the young-head bust of Queen Victoria, the date, and a Latin inscription around the rim of the coin. The obverse inscription is translated, Victoria by the Grace of God. The reverse features Britannia in a right facing seated position holding Poseidons trident and a shield displaying the Union Flag. Underneath Britannia are a shamrock (three-leafed clover), a rose, and a thistle. These flowers represent the three kingdoms of the United Kingdom: Ireland, England, and Scotland respectively. The Latin inscription around the rim of the reverse is translated, Queen of the British Territories, Defender of the Faith.

Britannia is an ancient Latin term tracing back to the first-century BC used to describe a group of islands, including Albion or Great Britain. In AD 43, the Romans invaded Great Britain and established a province there they named Britannia. During the second-century AD, Britannia became personified as a goddess typically seen wearing a centurion helmet, and armed with a spear and shield (much like that of Minerva).

Britannia first appeared in a seated position on bronze coinage during the reign of Roman Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD). That first Britannia commemorates Hadrians visit to the province and the building of the Hadrian wall in AD 122. Originally, this coin signified that Britannia was bound and subjugated by her Roman occupiers. Over time, the seated position of Britannia would come to mean something altogether different.

Long after the withdrawal of the Romans from Great Britain in AD 410, the name Britannia referring to the British islands remained popular among the Britons. During the Renaissance period more than a thousand years later, Britannia came to be viewed as the national personification of Great Britain.

On British coinage, Britannia first appeared on the farthing in 1672 and the halfpenny later that year. On those first coins, Britannia appeared seated on a globe holding an olive branch with her right hand and a spear with her left. A shield bearing the Union Flag of England and Scotland leans against the globe. As such, Britannia became a symbol of British power and a strong rallying point among Britons. First appearing during the reign of Charles II, Britannia has graced the coinage of every British monarch since.

With the official unification of England and Scotland in 1707, and the subsequent adding of Ireland to the union in 1801 came an exponential rise in power and influence all around the world. Thus, the British Empire would become the largest empire the world has known. To reflect this rise in power and in particular naval superiority, Britannia wearing a centurion helmet donned a more militaristic look, arming herself with Poseidons trident and a shield. Other views of Britannia show her overlooking a British harbor with a lighthouse and a tall-masted British sailing ship on the horizon. At other times, Britannia appears with a lion by her side.

Britannia also represents Liberty and Democracy to the people of the United Kingdom much like Lady Liberty does for the United States, and Marianne does for France. Britannia even became a pop-culture icon in the 1990s known as Cool Britannia. Today Britannia makes an annual appearance on the Silver American Eagle equivalent two-pound Britannia.

In summary, while I did my best to research and describe Britannia in this post, I believe the people who know her best capture the essence of her significance to the United Kingdom. Therefore, the following paragraph is copied from a 2006 Standing Britannia certificate of authenticity: Philip Nathans original design of 1987 which shows the standing figure of Britannia, wearing a Grecian helmet, with her hair and gown flowing freely in the wind. In her right hand she grasps a trident, the symbol of naval supremacy, while her left hand grips the rim of her shield embellished with the flag of the United Kingdom. This warlike stance is moderated by the olive branch in her left hand, symbolizing her readiness to make peace rather than war.
View Coin February 2012 Addendum FALKLAND ISLANDS CROWN 2007 Falklands 25TH ANNIV. OF LIBERATION TRIUMPHANT BRITANNIA NGC MS 67 Addendum to my Coin of the Month

Britannia and the Falkland Islands

Nations that commemorate events of national significance through their coins are oftentimes able inspire their citizenry. For instance, the United States through the imagery of its bicentennial coinage reminds us of our nation's greatness (dollar), its permanence and values(half dollar), and its struggle for freedom and liberty (quarter). The two-dollar bill (a favorite of mine) inspired us with a portrait of the signing of the Declaration of Independence (I still remember the snafu over the three missing delegates in that rendition.) Likewise, I can remember the patriotic mood of our nation in 1976 and my excitement over the bicentennial coinage. That said, I think these coins spoke to the average non-collecting American as well.

More recently, the imagery present on the 50-state quarters has served to remind us of each state's history and diversity. These coins in turn, became a source of pride for the residents of each respective state. For example, I gave each of my nieces and nephews a silver proof set on their graduation from high school. Being from Wisconsin, I still remember my sister's excitement over her son who among all my nieces and nephews, got the Wisconsin state quarter for his graduation.

This brings me to my current "Coin of the Month" and the use of Britannia on a Falkland Islands coin commemorating the 25th anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland Islands. Without getting into politics, I want to focus on the design of this coin that presumes British sovereignty over the Falklands. A brief summation of the history of the Falkland Islands War will put this coin in context.

Since its discovery, sovereignty over the Falkland Islands has been in constant dispute. Nevertheless, the Falkland Islands have remained under British rule throughout most of the Falkland Island's history. On April 2, 1982, the special forces of the Argentine army invaded and captured the islands. The Argentine government reasoned that because of the islands extreme distance from Great Britain, that the United Kingdom would relinquish their control over them. However, the Argentinians underestimated the United Kingdom's resolve to come to the defense of the islands under their protectorate. Subsequently, on June 14, 1982, after a brief war, Argentinian forces surrendered the islands back to the United Kingdom.

After the war, the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands became British citizens and 25 years later, a 2007 one-crown coin commemorates the liberation of the Falklands. With the islands as a backdrop, a triumphant Britannia stands strong, trident in hand, ready to defend the Falklands against all potential foes. In Britannia's other hand is a shield displaying the coat of arms of the Falkland Islands and an olive branch. While Britannia is prepared to defend the Falklands, she prefers peace. Around Britannia's shoulders is cape on which is the union flag representing the United Kingdom as the Falkland Islands protectorate.

To the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands, this coin then conveys a sense of stability and security. Regardless of what happens, the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands know the United Kingdom will come to their defense. In spite of everything, Argentina has not renounced their claim to the Falkland Islands. However, rather than seeking a military solution to their claim, Argentina is now committed to a diplomatic solution.

Throughout this post, I wanted to show Britannia in another context from my previous post. In summary, regardless of the country, national personifications are strong symbols that have the power to move nations.

Next month I will continue my three part "seated national personifications" series with Lady Liberty of the United States, so until then, happy collecting.
View Coin March 2012 United States 50C 1853 ARROWS & RAYS NGC XF 40 This month my attention turns from Britannia to Lady Liberty (Volume 1 Number 7) in this second of three articles on coins displaying feminine seated national personifications.

The coin I selected for this months Coin of the Month is an NGC XF-40, 1853 arrows and rays, Seated Liberty Half-Dollar. I own several coins that include the Seated Liberty motif, but I picked this coin because of its significance as a type coin. To fill the arrows slot in my type set, I could have chosen any half-dollar dated 1853 to 1855, but the 1853 is the only date with a glory of rays emanating from the eagle on the reverse. Although the picture does not show it my coin also has a double die reverse. With a mintage of 3,532,708, this coin has a survival rate of only 6000 in all grades according to PCGS Coinfacts. Grading XF-40, this coin is affordable at $282 FMV. However, in AU-50, it rises to $540 and in MS-60 to $1440. With a PCGS Coinfacts survival rate of 30 in MS-65 and higher, this coin can fetch $23,440.

As an added bonus, this coin brings with it another story line. In the early 1850s, with an abundance of gold on the market from California, the intrinsic value of the gold dollar fell. This drop in value disrupted the established silver-to-gold ratio set at 16:1 by Congress in 1837. By 1853, the melt value of two half-dollars rose to $1.06 relative to one gold dollar. As a result, you could buy two half-dollars with one gold dollar, melt them down, and use the proceeds to purchase approximately 6% more in gold. Naturally, this easy money scheme caused a serious silver coinage shortage in the United States. It is estimated that in 1850 and 1851 alone, over 25 million dollars in silver coins disappeared from circulation. To bring the value of silver coins in line with the gold dollar, the weight of the half-dollar was reduced from 13.36 grams to 12.44 grams. To denote this reduction in weight one arrow on each side of the date appears on the obverse. On the reverse, rays emanating from the eagle were added. When the mint determined that the Arrows and Rays half-dollars were more expensive to produce, the rays were removed, and only the arrows appeared on coins dated 1854 and 1855. The reduction in weight of every silver denominated coin with the exception of the dollar worked. Now for the first time in our nations history, we had a sufficient supply of small silver coins for commerce.

It is amazing that after the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 the United Kingdom continued to influence our culture. This influence also reached into the halls of government and in particular, Mint Director Robert M. Patterson. Upon his appointment as director, Robert Patterson sought fundamental changes to the designs of our coinage using a seated likeness of Britannia as a pattern. For the artwork and drawings, Robert Patterson sought the services of artists Thomas Sully for the obverse and Titian Peale for the reverse. It is alleged that Thomas Sully used his daughter Blanche as a model on a sketch of Seated Liberty he presented to Mint Director Patterson for approval. Titian Peale used Pete, the Philadelphia Mints mascot bald eagle for his model of the flying eagle that graces the reverse of all Gobrecht Dollars. Finally, Christian Gobrecht as the chief engraver created the dies for the new Gobrecht Dollar based on Sullys Seated Liberty and Peales flying eagle in 1836.

The Seated Liberty motif first appeared on the half-dollar in 1839 and upon all our silver coinage from the half-dime to the dollar. As a design, the Seated Liberty motif was officially retired in 1891 after a remarkable run.

The obverse of my Coin of the Month displays a left facing image of Lady Liberty at rest, seated on a rock, and dressed in a Grecian garment called a chiton. Her right arm supports a Union Shield with the word liberty engraved across it. In her left hand, she holds a pole with a pileus or liberty cap atop it. As such, the imagery on this coin represents preparedness and freedom. Lady Liberty, seated, and at peace, appears to look over her shoulder alert and prepared for any threat to freedom that may come her way. The liberty cap, dating back to ancient Greece and Rome was given to liberated slaves as a sign of their freedom. In a ceremony proclaiming the former slaves freedom, a Roman praetor would touch the cheek of the one set free with a pole, thus giving significance to both the pole and the cap. The reverse of my coin features the heraldic eagle design of John Reich.

Upon its release, the Seated Liberty motif was an instant success with the American public espousing the virtues of freedom and liberty that we had fought so hard for to obtain. This message still resonates today on our coinage and in particular on the 2008 Van Burens Liberty First Spouse Coin.
View Coin April 2012 PERU - DECIMAL 1/5S 1916 FG NGC MS 64 Immediately following their independence from Spain, the Republic of Peru began incorporating Lady Liberty into their coinage. Lady Liberty first appeared on Peruvian coinage in a standing position wearing a Grecian garment and a helmet. She is seen holding a pole atop of which is a Phrygian cap, and the rim of a shield resting on the ground. Engraved on the shield is the Spanish word libertad for liberty. Browsing through the Krause Catalog of World Coins it seems that Lady Liberty first appears in a seated position beginning in 1858. This motif would continue to appear on a variety of regular circulating and gold Peruvian coins before disappearing in 1970.

The basic decimal monetary unit in Peru is the sol, which is the Spanish word for sun implying that the monetary system in Peru has its roots in ancient Incan culture. Accordingly, the coin of the month for April is a 1916 NGC MS-64 1/5 Sol (KM# 205.2). This coin has a silver fineness of .900 and an ASW of .1447 Oz. with a mintage of 425,000. The total weight of this coin is 5 grams, which directly correlates to the exact weight and fineness of the US twenty-cent piece. Incidentally, many of Perus other silver coins also have their weight and fineness equivalency in US silver coins. As an aside, there are other similarities and ties between the US monetary system and that of Peru, including that certain Peruvian coins were struck in the United States and appropriately mint-marked.

The obverse of this coin has as its center device the Peruvian coat of arms. The inscriptions in the field at the edge of this coin denote that it is from the Republic of Peru, minted in Lima, which is the capital of Peru, has a silver fineness of .900, and that the assayers initials are F.G. The Peruvian coat of arms has as its central device a shield divided into three parts. The upper-left portion of the shield with a blue background is a vicuna representing the fauna of Peru. The upper-right portion of the shield with a white background is a cinchona tree representing the flora of Peru. (The cinchona tree is also the source of a powerful anti-malaria drug called quinine). The bottom portion of the shield with a red field is a cornucopia full of gold coins and represents the mineral resources of Peru. Surrounding the shield in a semi-circle is a palm and laurel branch tied by a bow into a wreath to represent victory and glory. The wreath above the shield is a Holm Oak Civic Crown. The civic crown has its roots in ancient Rome and is the second highest military honor a person could receive. To earn such an honor a person was required to save the life of a Roman citizen in battle, slay his opponent, and hold the ground on which this took place. The only battlefield testimony allowed in determining the worthiness of the recipient was that of the soldier whose life was saved.

The reverse of this coin has as its central device Lady Liberty, who appears in a seated position holding with one hand a shield depicting an image of the radiant sun god Inti, and a liberty cap atop of a pole with the other. In front of Lady Liberty is a short column with a banner wrapped around it and a wreath resting on top. Written on the banner is the word Libertad, which translated, is Liberty. The inscription around the rim of the reverse is Perus national motto and is translated, Steady and happy for the union. In describing the reverse of this coin an article in the E-Gobrecht Newsletter, Volume 5, Issue 5 suggests that the wreath on top of the column is a Laurel Wreath. However, I believe that rather than a laurel wreath, the wreath on top of the column is another representation of the civic crown. The reason for this is that a civic crown is thick, tightly bound, and closed in a circle; a laurel wreath looks as if to be two separate laurel branches tied together by a bow on one end and open on the other. Rather I believe the ornamental leaves towards the top of, and around the column are laurel leaves symbolizing victory. The civic crown then, in this case, signifies that liberty is attained and held through self-sacrifice, courage, and determination.
View Coin May 2012 United States 50C 1936 S COLUMBIA PCGS MS 63 In 1936, the United States Mint issued an unusually large assortment of commemorative half-dollars. I believe that much of the reason for this was due to political excesses and abuse regarding the purpose of commemorative coins. This resulted in a glut of coins that celebrated and financed regional events rather than those with a national interest. Consequently, except for the Bicentennial coins, there were no new commemoratives minted after 1954 until the Washington Half-Dollar in 1982.

The aforementioned abuses have given coin collectors a treasure trove of collectible coins representing little-known events in American history. One such coin commemorates the sesquicentennial of Columbia as the capital of South Carolina. Regarding this coin, many people in the numismatic community think its design is simple and uninspiring. However, for the person who examines this coin a little closer, they will find a gold mine of South Carolinian history of national significance.

Since most of the commemorative coins issued in 1936 were regional in nature, their mintages tended to be very low. Correspondingly, this PCGS MS-63, 1936-S Columbia Sesquicentennial Half-Dollar has a mintage of only 8,007. For type collectors, this coin also has mintages from Philadelphia and Denver at 9,007 and 8,009 coins respectively. The composition, weight, and size of this coin are that of a standard 90% silver, US half-dollar and the coins designer is A. Wolfe Davidson, who was an art student at Clemson College.

The central device on the obverse of this coin is an image of Justitia, the Roman goddess of justice. In her right hand, she is holding a double-edged sword and in her left hand, a set of scales. Typically, Lady Justice is also wearing a blindfold to represent impartiality before the law. However, in this instance, she appears as she originally did in ancient Rome, which was without a blindfold. The scales representing truth and fairness equally weigh both sides of an issue. The double-edged sword representing reason and justice cuts both ways, for or against either party.

Behind Lady Justice, are images of the old and the new statehouses of South Carolina identified by the dates 1786 and 1936. Construction of the old statehouse began when Columbia became the state capital in 1786. Nearly three-quarters of a century later construction of a new statehouse began on an adjacent property. Adding to the mystique of this coin are the significant votes that took place in the old statehouse. One such vote on November 10, 1860, shortly after the election of Abraham Lincoln, called for a convention to draw up an Ordinance of Secession. Subsequently, on December 20, 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union. Unfortunately, the old statehouse burned to the ground under General Shermans occupation. Ironically though, the stone exterior of the new statehouse withstood the artillery bombardment of Shermans troops. Subsequently, brass markers identify the damage in the new statehouse by Union artillery shells. Economically devastated by the war, construction of the new statehouse was finally completed in 1903.

The central device on the reverse of this coin is a palmetto tree that is reminiscent of the state seal of South Carolina. At the base of the tree are a banner, twelve crossed arrows or spears, and a fallen oak.

The state seal of South Carolina is made up of two ovals connected to each other by palmetto branches. Atop the palmetto tree in the left oval are two shields with the dates March 26 and July 4 representing the date of the first South Carolina constitution and the declaration of Independence. Written on the banner at the base of the tree, at the point the twelve arrows cross, representing the twelve other colonies (the palmetto tree represents South Carolina), is a Latin phrase translated, who shall separate. The fallen oak signifies the defeat of the British fleet attacking the fort at Sullivans Island on June 28, 1776. Underneath the tree is the phrase, having fallen it has set up a better. The right oval features Spes, the goddess of Hope holding a laurel branch and walking on a beach at dawn among discarded weapons. Written on the rim of the left oval is the state name and motto, prepared in mind and resources, and the phrase around the right oval is, while I breathe, I hope.

I must confess that without this coin I would not have had the occasion to learn the history represented on this coin. Therefore, in the context of history, commemorative coins serve to teach American history to current and future generations of Americans.
View Coin June 2012 FRANCE - PART 5 S10E 2009 ASTRONOMY ANNIVERSARY NGC PF 69 ULTRA CAMEO Junes Coin of the Month (Volume 1 Number 10) is a NGC PFUC-69 French 2009 10 Euro coin that commemorates the International Year of Astronomy and the 40th anniversary of mans first steps on the moon.

Greetings everyone, ever since I was a boy, I have had two enduring interests. The one is obvious, and it has to do with collecting coins. The other is not quite as apparent and has to do with science fiction and space exploration. This month, my Coin of the Month post brings both of these unrelated interests together into one coin.

The United Nations declared 2009 the International Year of Astronomy. This event was to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the first recorded astronomical observations through a telescope by Galileo Galilei. Some of the worldwide objectives of the International Year of Astronomy were to increase scientific awareness, improve science education, and promote widespread access to knowledge and observation. Coincidently, 2009 is also the 40th anniversary of Neil Armstrongs and Buzz Aldrins historic walk on the moon. To commemorate both these events, France has released a special 2009 silver 10 Euro coin.

Struck at the Paris Mint, this proof coin is 37mm in diameter and weighs 22.2 grams. The fineness of the coin is 900/1000 fine silver, and the mintage is 10,000. There are also colorized gold and five-ounce silver versions of this coin with identical designs. I bought this coin in 2009 directly from the Paris Mint.

The obverse of this coin has a relief similar to that of a shallow birdbath and pictures a mirrored Saturn and stars in a field of frosted space. Around the edge of the coin is a mirrored rim with engravings and astronomical symbols. The English translation of the engravings is 2009 International Year of Astronomy. The symbols around the bottom circumference represent the sun and the moon and each of the planets in our solar system. Noticeably missing from the symbols is the symbol for our home planet, Earth.

The symbols from left to right represent the moon, the sun, and the planets in order according to their distance from the sun. The first planetary symbol is the winged caduceus of Mercury, the god of commerce and communication. Next is the hand mirror of Venus, the goddess of love. The shield and spear of Mars, the god of war follows Venus. A thunderbolt, an eagle, and the letter zeta or Z represents Jupiter, the Roman equivalent of Zeus. A sickle represents Saturn the god of time. A globe surmounted by the letter H represents Uranus the god of the sky, the H is for William Herschel, the discoverer of Uranus. The trident represents Neptune the god of the sea. The symbol for Pluto, the god of the underworld, is reminiscent of Neptunes trident except that a globe replaces the center prong.

The reverse relief is similar to that of a convex camera lens and pictures a frosted image of a crescent moon. Emblazoned on the moon is a mirrored footprint to represent the historic walk on the moon of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. In the dark portion of the moons crescent with a mirrored backdrop is the coins face value of 10 Euros, the date, the letters RF representing the Republic of France, and two privy marks of which the cornucopia represents the Paris Mint. The inscription around the rim of the dark crescent translates to 40 years of the first steps on the moon.

Finally, I hope that you have enjoyed reading my post and learned a little more about the solar system we live in, just as I have.
View Coin July 2012 57mm 1876 J-CM-11 WM US CENTENNIAL EXPOSITION NGC MS 61 This medal is an 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition Medal designed by William Barber.

To help finance the exposition, Congress authorized the striking of commemorative medals in June of 1874. Overall, there were two different medals, each struck in a variety of metallic compositions. One medal was 38mm in diameter and the other 57mm. My Coin of the Month is the 57mm Julian CM-11 medal struck in white metal and graded MS-61 by NGC. White metal is an alloy composed of 82 parts tin, 12 parts antimony, and 6 parts copper. Mintages for the 57mm medal include a unique gold medal, nine silver medals, 7000 bronze medals, 2100 gilded copper medals, and 583 white metal medals. The original issue price for the 57mm medals ranged between two and five dollars.

Amidst a backdrop of economic depression, political scandal (William Magear Boss Tweed), and widespread tent meetings held by evangelist Dwight L Moody, America was celebrating 100 years of independence. Other events influencing American culture in 1876 were Custers defeat at the Battle of Little Bighorn, the Transcontinental Express traversing the North American continent in 83 hours and 39 minutes, Colorados admission to the Union as the 38th state, and the forming of baseballs National League.

To celebrate her centennial birthday on a grand scale, America was throwing the world a party by hosting her first World Exposition. Held at Fairmount Park, the exposition covered 285 acres with 250 pavilions. There were 37 nations represented and over nine million people attending the exposition held from May 10, 1876 to November 10, 1876. Of certainty, the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition lived up to its billing and did not disappoint.

On display for the entire world to see, representing Americas ascendency in mechanization was the telephone, the typewriter, and the Corliss Steam engine that provided power for virtually all the exhibits. These innovations in technology developed by American inventors ushered in a gilded age of industrialization from which grew a prosperous American middle class.

This then is where my medal so rich in history and allegorical content comes into play. Through the allegories represented on my medal, America was showing the world how liberty and freedom maximize human innovation and ingenuity to provide a prosperous life for the most people within a society. Furthermore, where the human spirit is free from the shackles of tyranny, liberty and freedom provides the fertile ground in which the arts thrive and grow. Among American arts is the literary art masterpiece, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer written by Mark Twain and published in 1876.

The reverse of my medal illustrates Lady Liberty rising from a kneeling position with a drawn sword preparing for battle against the enemies of liberty. Her left arm reaches towards a glory of thirteen stars in which her gaze is fixated. From the united circle of stars representing the thirteen colonies, Lady Liberty receives her strength and resolve. Underneath Liberty is the date 1776 representing the year of our Declaration of Independence. Around the perimeter of the reverse are the words of Virginian Richard Lee to the Second Continental Congress on June 7, 1776. These United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, Free and Independent States.

Lady Liberty with her sword sheathed is the central image on the obverse of my medal. Resting against Lady Libertys left leg is a Union Shield representing the United States. Kneeling to Lady Libertys left is a feminine allegorical representation with a palette of paints at her feet representing the arts. Kneeling to Lady Libertys right is another feminine representation. With an anvil at her side, she is illustrated holding a hammer and a large gear to represent industry. Together Lady Liberty is crowning Arts and Industry with laurel wreaths to represent victory, fame, and achievement. Etched on the platform of which Lady Liberty is standing is the date 1876. Around the perimeter are the words, In Commemoration of the Hundredth Anniversary of American Independence. Thus, this medal represents the first 100 years of American history by first illustrating Americas fight to obtain liberty and 100 years later reaping the rewards of liberty.

In summary, I wish I could say that America had always lived up to her promise of liberty. Yet in 1876, the newly freed slaves did not fully enjoy the guarantees of Liberty. Neither did Native Americans who were herded into reservations. In fact, their internment led to the death of George Custer at the early age of 36. Nevertheless, in spite of these wrinkles in American history, nothing takes away from the truth of Liberty. Therefore, no matter where in the world Liberty is espoused, people prosper. This then is not about governments or governmental systems, its not about money either, but about individual liberty and the right of self-determination. Liberty then is precious and needs protection because the enemies to liberty are always on the prowl to enslave people under the yoke of tyranny, be they governments, religions, or dictators.
View Coin August 2012 MAURITIUS G200R 1971 INDEPENDENCE NGC MS 66 This Months Coin of the Month (Volume 1 Number 12) is an NGC MS-66, 1971, 200 Rupee gold coin (KM# 39) from the island nation of Mauritius and is dedicated to my wife Linda.

The Island of Mauritius is a small island east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. The island was uninhabited when Arab sailors first landed there during the Middle Ages. In 1505, the Portuguese became the first Europeans to discover the island. Eventually, the island came under the control of the Dutch (1598-1712), the French (1715-1810), and the British (1814-1968). In 1968, Mauritius finally gained its independence from the United Kingdom.

The 1971 Mauritius 200 Rupee coin commemorates Mauritian independence from Great Britain and is 27.28 mm in diameter with a weight of 15.56 grams. It has a metallic composition of .9170 fine gold and an actual gold weight of .4587 ounces. The coin has a mintage of 2,500.

Medalist and sculptor, Cecil Thomas is this coins obverse designer, which portrays a crowned, right facing bust of Queen Elizabeth the Second. English painter and coin designer, Christopher Ironside designed the reverse which highlights a courting couple amidst the native flora of Mauritius. Additionally, the reverse of this coin represents a scene from the French novel, Paul and Virginia, written by Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, and first published in 1788 on the Eve of the French Revolution.

Paul and Virginia is a metaphoric novel by which its author criticizes the ruling and financial social classes of pre-revolution France. Thus, this popular novel became an important piece in shaping the ideologies of the revolutionaries.

The main characters of the novel are childhood friends Paul and Virginia and as fate would have it, Paul and Virginia eventually fall in love. On Mauritius, Paul and Virginia live in harmony with nature, detached from the corruption of 18th-century France. Tragedy occurs when Virginias aristocratic aunt separates her from Paul.

Since I do not necessarily agree with the metaphoric and Idyllic premise of Paul and Virginia, this coin then has come to represent something entirely different. The Mauritius 200 Rupee coin that I bought almost four years ago characterizes my wife Linda and represents the love we have for each other. Therefore, this coin resides in the Special Ladies section of my custom set, Inspirational Ladies.

Thirty years ago, Linda and I were married. Since then we have raised two wonderful children. During that time, we have seen both good times and bad. After thirty years, we can say we have come through the refiners fire as pure gold. Perhaps for this reason, the coin representing our love should be made of gold. Therefore, the coin no longer represents Paul and Virginia, but Gary and Linda.

Certainly, I am the person I am today because of Linda, and it is she who inspires me most. I sincerely thank her for her incredible love, loyalty, and support. I love her dearly. On occasion, faith, life, and coin collecting do converge at the same point. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I would be amiss if I failed to recognize God in our marriage by thanking him for all he has done in our lives. I pray that we have many more anniversaries together.

Posted with this coin is a photo that Linda and I created together. Linda picked the background color and I assembled the clip art. Happy Anniversary Linda!
View Coin September 2012 CUBA PESO 1897 SILVER SOUVENIR NGC AU 55 Septembers Coin of the Month (Volume 2, Number 1) is an NGC AU-55, 1897 close date, Cuba Souvenir Peso.

Modeled after the Columbian Exposition Half Dollar, the purpose of the 1897 Cuba Souvenir Peso was to raise money for the Cuban Revolutionary Party and their war for independence against Spain. On May 10, 1897, the head of the Cuban Revolutionary Party, Don Thomas Estrada Palma, placed an order with the Gorham Manufacturing Company for three million souvenir pesos. As per their agreement, delivery of the first ten thousand coins was to be within sixty days.

Among those ten thousand coins (minus 30 defective strikes) are three distinct types, of which my coin is the type 2 close date featuring the right star below the 97 baseline. The other two types are the type 3 close date with the star above the 97 baseline and the type 1 wide date. The 1897 Cuba Souvenir Peso is 36 mm in diameter and weighs 22.55 grams. The metallic composition of this coin is 90% silver, and 10% copper with an actual silver weight of .6525 ounces. Mintages are as follows; 828 Type 1s minted in Philadelphia, 4,286 Type 2s and 4,856 Type 3s minted in Providence, Rhode Island. Curiously, these were the only souvenir coins delivered.

The Cuba Souvenir Peso sold for one dollar each with the promise to redeem them after the war to honor the faith and investment in liberty of those who purchased them. When Cuba finally became independent in 1902, they honored their commitment by exchanging the souvenir peso for one dollar.

In 1897, the Silver Cuba Peso Souvenir contained about thirty-eight cents worth of silver, which meant that after expenses the Cuban Revolutionary Party would make a handsome profit from the sale of these coins. Unfortunately, the order for three million pieces never materialized. However, with the entry of the United States into the Spanish-American War in 1898, the need for the Cuban Revolutionary Party to raise money for their independence became a moot point.

Based on a design by Estrada Palma, medalist Phillip Martiny prepared the plasters and engraved the dies for the 1897 Cuba Souvenir Peso. The obverse of the souvenir peso features a bust of Lady Liberty modeled by Leonor Molina. Leonor was a Cuban-American relative to the treasurer of the revolutionary junta and as such became the face of the revolution. The motto PATRIA Y LIBERTAD inscribed around the rim of the obverse translates to COUNTRY AND LIBERTY.

The reverse features the Cuban Coat of Arms as the central device behind which is a fasces surmounted by a Phrygian cap and an oak and laurel wreath. The top portion of the coat of arms displays a key over the water between two landmasses with the sun rising behind it. This represents Cuba as the key to the gulf, geographically located between the Florida Keys and the Yucatan Peninsula. The rising sun represents Cubas emergence as an independent state. The bars on the lower left portion of the arms represent five Cuban provinces. To the right of the bars is a palm tree representing the Cuban countryside. The fasces crowned by a Phrygian cap are representative of the people united by liberty. The oak branch represents strength and the laurel branch honor and glory.
View Coin October 2012 United States S$1 1995 P SPECIAL OLYMPICS PCGS PF 69 UC Two months after the Olympic Games and a month before our national elections, Octobers Coin of the Month (Volume 2, Number 2) is a 1995-P PCGS PR69DCAM Special Olympics Commemorative Dollar featuring Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

The 1995 Special Olympics Games Commemorative Dollar has the same metallic composition and dimensions as a standard US silver dollar. The mintage of the proof coin struck in Philadelphia, is 351,764 while the uncirculated coin struck at West Point, has a mintage of 89,301. The obverse of this coin, designed by T. James Ferrell and based on the art of Jamie Wyeth, portrays a left facing profile of the founder of the Special Olympics, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Around the upper perimeter of the obverse is the inscription, Special Olympics World Games. The reverse, designed by Thomas D. Rogers, features a Special Olympics medal, a rose, and a quote by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, as we hope for the best in them, hope is reborn in us. Further distinguishing this coin from other commemoratives is the fact that this coin is the first US coin to honor a living woman.

Eunice Mary Kennedy Shriver was born to Joseph and Rose Kennedy on July 10, 1921 in Brookline, Massachusetts. The fifth of nine siblings, including three brothers named John, Bobby, and Teddy, Eunice hails from one of the most prominent political families in the history of the United States. On May 23, 1953, Eunice married Sargent Shriver, who himself became the founder and first director of the Peace Corps. Their marriage together lasted 56 years until Eunice’s death, on August 11, 2009.

Born into a prominent family, it would not be a stretch to say that Eunice was born into a life of privilege; nevertheless, Eunice chose to use her status as a Kennedy to serve others. As a person with an incredibly warm and caring heart, its impossible in the space of a single article to enumerate all of her philanthropic activities. With that said, I intend to focus on those activities and honors for which Eunice is best known.

Perhaps more than anything, Eunice cared most about childrens health and disability issues, and as a result was a key founder of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. However, Eunice is best known for her work with Anne Burke in establishing the Special Olympics for the intellectually disabled.

The Special Olympics is an athletic competition designed to impart on its participants joy, honor, courage, and dignity. From the first games in 1968, the Special Olympics have grown into a movement that currently has four million athletes training in 170 countries.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver has received numerous awards and honorary degrees. The most widely known of those awards is the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded to her by President Ronald Reagan on March 26, 1984 for her work with the intellectually disabled. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award in the United States.

The rose featured on the reverse of the Special Olympics World Games commemorative coin is of special significance. A single red rose signifies courage and respect, hope, joy, love, and beauty. The Special Olympics logo on the medal signifies growth, confidence, and joy among persons with intellectual disabilities. The spherical shape of the logo represents global outreach.

I have always been curious as to why the mintage of the proof Special Olympics World Games commemorative coin is so high when compared with other commemorative coins. During my research for this article, I learned that a single corporate benefactor purchased 250,000 of these coins. Subsequently, those coins were given to Special Olympics athletes in 1998.

In summary, I have heard from a few collectors that this coin is not particularly aesthetically pleasing. On the surface, I can see their point. However, if you can only look beneath the surface, you will discover an extraordinary beauty in the selfless, warm, and caring heart of Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
View Coin November 2012 United States S$1 2010 W DISABLED VETERANS NGC PF 69 ULTRA CAMEO Note: This description only refers to the Disabled Veterans Commemorative Dollar portion of my tribute. The other parts of my full tribute are attached to their appropriate coins in my modern commemorative registry set.

A Four-Coin Tribute to our Veterans

For Novembers Coin of the Month column, I am using four coins to illustrate my heartfelt thanks to all the veterans of the United States Armed Forces.

Those coins, all certified by NGC, are a 2005-P MS-70 United States Marine Corps silver dollar, a 2010-W PFUC-69 Disabled Veterans silver dollar, a 2011-P PFUC-69 Medal of Honor silver dollar, and a 2011-W PFUC-69 Medal of Honor five-dollar gold piece. Each of the dollar coins conforms to the dimensions, weight, and composition of a standard US silver dollar, and likewise, the five-dollar coin matches that of a standard US half-eagle.

Initially called Armistice Day, Veterans Day coincides with the end of hostilities in World War I on November 11, 1918. By Presidential Proclamation, the first observance of Armistice Day occurred on November 11, 1919. Subsequently, in 1938 by an act of Congress, Armistice Day became an annual observance celebrated on November 11. Later through the efforts of World War II veteran Raymond Weeks, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954. Henceforth, since Armistice Day was originally intended to honor those who died on the battlefield in World War I, Veterans Day today celebrates the service of all veterans.

My next tribute coin is the 2010 Disabled Veterans commemorative dollar. On the obverse of this coin are the legs and boots of three veterans, one of whom has an amputated leg. Around the upper rim of the coin is a banner with the inscription, They Stood Up For Us. The reverse features an oak wreath wrapped by a ribbon with a forget-me-not flower at the base of the wreath. The oak wreath is a symbol of strength, and the forget-me-not, which dates back to World War I, represents those who were disabled during combat. Currently, 1.6 million service men and women have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars at some point. Of those, 45% have applied for disability benefits. This represents a significant number of men and women who are bearing the physical and/or psychological scars of war. The phrase in the middle of the wreath on this coins reverse asks us to honor the disabled defenders of freedom. Accordingly, let us honor those who have stood in the gap for us on the battlefield by standing in the gap for them at home, and giving them the love and support they both need and deserve. May they never be forced to carry the physical scars and psychological burdens of war alone.

As a veteran of the United States Navy during the cold war, I had often thought about how I would react if the call came to go to war. On my ship we spent countless hours training and preparing for such an event. Thankfully, for me, that call never came. However, today, scores of men and women are answering the call to arms, and many will pay the ultimate price on our behalf. Our veterans have given so much; let us not fail to show them the proper gratitude they deserve.
Happy Veterans Day, November 11, 2012.
View Coin December 2012 NETHERLANDS 1817 TO DATE 10G 1917 Netherland PCGS MS 67 Please note: A PCGS coin I have crossed over is a place holder for the coin pictured.

Greetings all, Decembers Coin of the Month (Volume 2, Number 4) centers on my Netherlands 10 Gulden, Wilhelmina I, 1897-1933, Circulation Issue registry set. That set entitled, Garys Golden Wilhelmina Guldens is currently the top set in NGCs registry.

Instead of focusing on the individual coins, I intend to contrast this sets progress with where it was three years ago. To peruse Queen Wilhelminas biography, important information pertinent to all the coins, and an account of each upgrade, I direct you to Garys Golden Wilhelmina Guldens where that information is contained.

Technically speaking, the beginnings of this set began more than four years ago with a type coin. Representing Queen Wilhelmina in my Inspirational Ladies custom set, I bought an 1897 Netherlands 10 gulden coin on March 29, 2008 grading UNC Details on a NCS submission. Less than a year later, on January 21, 2009, I upgraded that coin to MS-64. Now that I had the coin I wanted, I thought that was the end of it. That was until NGC established a registry set for the entire series.

There were many reasons why I decided to start a 10 gulden Wilhelmina I, 1897-1933, Circulation Issue registry set. The first is my admiration of Queen Wilhelmina as an important leader in world history. Next, because of low demand for these coins, I could purchase most of them for a minimum premium over melt value. Finally, with just eleven coins, including only one scarce date, this is a very collectible series and as a bonus, all the coins are struck in .900 fine gold.

Since I believe that goals should be challenging, attainable, and most importantly affordable, I established two goals for this set. The first is that all the coins grade MS-65 or higher. With low populations for some dates, NGCs population report shows that all the dates in this set have MS-65 coins. The second goal which is proving to be much more difficult, is that the set be the best possible. Naturally, as this goal suggests, I intend to populate this set with top-population NGC coins. Not having achieved either goal yet, Garys Golden Wilhelmina Guldens is the best it can be at this time.

Throughout my collection, this set of Wilhelmina Guldens is the only set I own with the aforementioned goals. You can imagine the cost if I had similar goals for my Morgan Dollars. Nevertheless, it is my firm belief that collectors of any, and every means do a great service in our hobby by assembling top-notch sets of the best coins possible. My level of affordability allows for this set, for another collector a set of Morgan Dollars, and still for another collector, a year set of modern coins. Magnificent coins need to be together in great sets, thereby leaving a numismatic legacy for future generations of coin collectors. Furthermore, the registry is an excellent tool for collectors to do just that.

Since starting this set in 2009, I have made significant progress towards my goals. Beginning in 2009 with four MS-63s, two MS-64s, three MS-65s, one MS-66, and one MS-67, my set now consists of three MS-64s, four MS-65s, and four MS-66s. In terms of total points, this set had 8,217 points in 2009 compared to 8,849 today. In 2009, I had no NGC graded top-pops (the MS-67 and one MS-65 were PCGS graded coins), and today I have four (1911, 1912, 1927, and 1932). All told, there were three upgrades to this set in 2009, one in 2010, three in 2011, and three in 2012. Two of the coins in this set I have crossed over from PCGS to NGC, the MS-65 1911 to NGC MS-65 and the MS-67 1917 to NGC MS-66. Furthermore, there are no coins in this set that grade any more than one point lower than the top coin in NGCs population report.

In conclusion, part of the reason I am posting this article now is that I am spit shining this set in preparation for the upcoming annual awards. In the spirit of true competitiveness and good will, I wish all those who are preparing their sets for the awards all the best. Regardless of the results, I am proud of this set and I am delighted with its progress. The following is the link to my set:

I hope you enjoy the photographs and the detailed historical and technical write-ups for every coin.

The coin I am using to represent my set this month is a 1932 NGC MS-66 Netherlands 10 gulden gold coin. With 122 coins in NGCs population report, this coin has a population of one with none higher. Now until next time, Merry Christmas, happy collecting, and good luck with the awards.

View Coin January 2013 FRANCE - PART 5 S100F 1995 AUDREY HEPBURN NGC PF 68 Ultra Cameo Garys Coin of the Month (Volume 2 Number 5) for January 2013 features an NGC PFUC-68 French 100 franc coin (KM#1096) commemorating the 100th anniversary of cinema and the actress, Audrey Hepburn.

This coin with a silver fineness of .9000, weighs 22.2 grams, has an ASW (actual silver weight) of .6423 ounces, and is 37 mm in diameter. The mintage of this proof-only coin is 15,000. The central device on the obverse of the coin is an antique movie camera. The French motto inscribed around the rim from 8:00 to 2:00 is translated, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. On the right hemisphere of the obverse are the initials RF representing the Republic of France, the denomination of the coin at 100 Francs, and the year 1995. Below the date are two small privy marks. The Cornucopia denotes that the coin is a product of the Paris Mint, and the Bee identifies Pierre Rodier as the engraver general. The central device on the reverse is a head 3/4 left bust of Audrey Hepburn. Inscribed along the upper rim of the obverse is the translated phrase, Centenary of the Cinema.

I have always been amazed by the inventions of the 19th century that have transformed into multi-billion dollar industries today. One of those multi-billion dollar industries of course is the motion picture industry. Much of the credit for this burgeoning industry today should go to its founders Auguste and Louis Lumiere. For it was on December 28, 1895 in the basement of the Salon Indien du Grand Cafe in Paris, France that the Lumiere Brothers brought to screen the first motion pictures to a paying audience.

One of the persons in attendance that day was a magician by the name of Georges Melies who later wrote, we sat there with our mouths open, awe-struck, and beyond words. Interestingly, Melies himself went on to produce motion pictures of his own. In 1902 he produced the first known science fiction motion picture entitled, "A Trip to the Moon."

Another thing that amazes me is how someone can take a dreadful childhood and use it to help others. In Audrey Hepburns case, she used her painful experiences as a child to bless untold numbers of people worldwide.

Audrey Hepburn was born Audrey Kathleen Ruston on May 4, 1929 to a British father and a Dutch mother in Ixelles, Belgium. After her parents separated, Audreys mother moved her to Arnhem, Netherlands in 1935.

From 1939 to 1945, Audrey Hepburn attended the Arnhem Conservatory where among other things she studied ballet. Audrey loved ballet dancing, but it was thought that due to her physical maladies brought on by malnutrition during her teenage years that she would not excel in it. The mistreatment and starving of the Dutch people during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands would have a profound effect on the rest of Audrey Hepburns life.

Not dissuaded by lifes disappointments, Audrey tenaciously pursued a career in modeling. From there she used her experience in dancing to compete and win one of ten spots in a chorus line from among 4000 dancers. Shortly thereafter, she beat out Elizabeth Taylor for a starring role in Roman Holiday for which she subsequently won an Academy Award. The rest, as they say, is the stuff dreams are made of as Audrey Hepburn went on to be a successful actress.

There is yet another aspect of Audrey Hepburns life that continued almost unnoticed and unknown by me until I got interested in her coin. Influenced by her childhood, Audrey was an advocate for the long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to mothers and children in developing countries. Working through UNICEF (The United Nations Childrens Fund) Audrey was appointed UNICEFs goodwill ambassador in 1989. In 1992, Audrey was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her humanitarian work through UNICEF. Audrey Hepburn died at the age of 63 on January 20, 1993. However, as a legacy Audrey Hepburns humanitarian work continues through the Audrey Hepburn Childrens Fund, first chaired by her eldest son and currently now by her younger son.
View Coin February 2013 SWITZERLAND CONFEDERATION G20F 1903B Switzerlnd NGC MS 64 This coin known as the Vreneli or Helvetia is a major departure from the previous 20 Francs coin featuring a representation of Lady Liberty. While the personification of Vreneli also represents liberty, I think the name Vreneli captures more of the heart and soul of the Swiss people. To make my point, the name Vreneli may also represent a character named Vreneli in the story of Swiss folk hero William Tell. The name Vreneli could also be a derivative of the word Verena which is a female effigy representing the Confederation of Switzerland. The name Helvetia comes from an ancient group of Celtic people called the Helvetii and was the name given to the region by the Romans in 58 BC. Helvetia has since evolved into the female personification of Switzerland she is today. Even the name Swiss Miss is used to characterize this coin because of the apparent youthfulness of the women featured on the obverse representing the free and independent spirit of the Swiss people.

The design for this coin came by means of a contest won by Fritz Landry whose first initial and last name appear on the coins obverse. A young woman named Francoise Engli serves as the model for Vreneli.

With the Swiss Alps as a backdrop, the obverse of this coin features the bust of a young woman with plaited hair wearing a garland of edelweiss flowers around her neck. The name Helvetia appears over the top of the mountains. The reverse features a Swiss Cross on an ornate shield tied with a ribbon to an oak branch behind it. The shield and oak branch separate the value of the coin 20 with the denomination FR for Francs. The date and mintmark appear on the bottom rim of the coins reverse. The edge of this coin features 22 stars in relief.

Lending to the charm of this coin is the legend of the edelweiss flower that grows in the harsh environment of the Alps. Protected by gnomes, the beautiful ice queen with a heart as cold as her name, sings her beautiful song from high atop the Swiss Alps. Lured by her lovely voice, shepherds would climb the mountains to her abode. Upon their arrival, the ice queen toyed with their hearts until she was bored with them at which point the gnomes tossed them from the mountains unto their death. This went on for many years until the ice queen met a man she fell in love with. Unfortunately, this did not sit well with the gnomes who feared that their immortal ice queen would marry a mortal man. Filled with jealousy the gnomes conspired to toss her beloved off the mountain. Hurtling to his death in the valley below, his heart burst asunder in full view of the ice queen. Seeing this, the ice queen whose icy heart was melting, shed one tear that fell from her cheek and onto the ground turning into an edelweiss flower. Later male suitors in order to show their love would climb dangerous peaks in search of the edelweiss flower. The edelweiss flower is then a symbol of love, bravery, strength, and dedication.

In the year 1291 AD, three cantons in the heart of todays Switzerland united to form the Old Swiss Confederacy. As a comparison, cantons in Switzerland are much like states in the United States. Among the three original cantons is the Canton of Schwyz. Today the Swiss flag of a white cross against a red background is an adaptation of the coat of arms for the Canton of Schwyz. Used originally to identify soldiers from different cantons under a common banner, the flag of the Swiss Army became the flag and national identity of Switzerland after a brief civil war in 1840. Thus, the reverse of this coin featuring a Swiss Cross on an ornate shield represents the unity of the cantons. That shield tied by ribbons onto an oak branch then represents the strength and independence of the Swiss Confederation.

In 1798, the Revolutionary French Army defeated the Old Swiss Confederation. The French then established the Helvetian Republic abolishing the cantons and imposing a new centralized government. This government was very unpopular with the Swiss people because it abolished hundreds of years of tradition. This led to a compromise in 1803 and the establishing of the Swiss Confederation restoring cantonal autonomy to 19 cantons. After the final defeat of Napoleon, the Congress of Vienna in 1815 fully restored Swiss autonomy, established 22 cantons, and guaranteed Swiss neutrality. Eventually this loose confederation of cantons gave way in 1848 to a new federal Constitution modeled after the United States Constitution. Many of the principles of this constitution have been in force ever since. Thus, while US coins displaying 13 stars represents the 13 original colonies, the 22 stars in raised relief on the edge of this coin represents the 22 cantons of the 1815 Swiss Confederation.
View Coin March 2013 NETHERLANDS 1817 TO DATE S10G 1970 Netherland LIBERATION ANNIVERSARY NGC PL 65 In more than 100 years, the Netherlands has not had a male monarch on the throne. As a result, this Netherlands 1970 silver 10 gulden coin commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of liberation features the two reigning queens of the middle twentieth century. On the reverse of the coin is a left facing profile of Queen Wilhelmina, who was the queen of the Netherlands at its liberation from the Nazis in 1945. The obverse features a right facing profile of Queen Juliana, who became queen in 1948 and reigned through the twenty-fifth anniversary of liberation in 1970. The exemplary leadership of both these women in tumultuous times makes this coin an excellent choice for inclusion into my Inspirational Ladies Custom set. Thus, the following paragraphs are a short narrative on both Queen Wilhelmina and her daughter, Queen Juliana.

World War II saw the Netherlands falling to a German invasion. Queen Wilhelmina and her daughter Juliana narrowly escaped capture by leaving the Netherlands on a British warship that the Germans nearly sank as it crossed the English Channel. A naval officer commenting on the incident said, "I have never seen a woman so completely calm in my life.” From Great Britain, Wilhelmina inspired her people and members of the Dutch underground with late evening radio broadcasts calling Adolf Hitler “the arch-enemy of mankind." Over the course of the war, Queen Wilhelmina became popular and respected among the leaders of the world. Winston Churchill described her as, “The only real man” among the governments-in-exile in London. Queen Wilhelmina also became the second women inducted into knighthood in the “Order of the Garter." While living in England, Queen Wilhelmina survived an assassination attempt that killed several of her guards. After the war in 1945, Queen Wilhelmina returned to the Netherlands and a rapturous welcome by her people.

In the era of colonization, the Netherlands was third to only Great Britain and France in the lands they controlled. The Dutch controlled the oil-rich Dutch East Indies or current-day Indonesia. A revolt after WWII in the East Indies brought sharp criticism on Queen Wilhelmina by the economic elite of the Netherlands. Subsequently, on September 4, 1948, Queen Wilhelmina abdicated in favor of her daughter, Juliana. Shortly thereafter, the Dutch East Indies gained their independence.

During World War II, the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands was particularly brutal resulting in a manufactured famine. As president of the Dutch Red Cross after the fall of Nazi Germany, Juliana was instrumental in the reconstruction and relief efforts for her country. Her down-to-earth demeanor endeared her to her people. Moreover, Queen Juliana had a heart of compassion towards her people. During Holland’s most destructive storm in 500 years on January 31, 1953, Queen Juliana waded through water and mud to bring food and clothing to the flood victims. Queen Juliana was also an accomplished public speaker. She frequently used her speaking engagements to advocate for philanthropic causes of which child welfare issues were among her favorite topics. She is quoted as saying, “A child must be surrounded with love. No one can live without receiving love, or without feeling wanted for his own sake. In fact, no human being lives without giving love."

Overall, Queen Juliana was a very popular queen, this in spite of various scandals from within her family and her own indiscretions involving excessive political influence from a so-called faith healer. One such scandal involved a bribe taken from the Lockheed Corporation by Juliana’s husband, Prince Bernard. Resilient as ever, Queen Juliana and her husband survived this scandal without abdicating the throne. Always loyal, Queen Juliana loved her husband, Prince Bernhard, up until the day she died. The thing that makes her love especially amazing is the fact that Prince Bernhard was a known philanderer.

Interestingly, there has not been a king on the throne since King William III died November 23, 1890 and Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont became the queen regent. However, when Queen Beatrix abdicates on April 30, 2013 in favor of Prince Willem-Alexander, the Netherlands will once again have a king on the throne.

View Coin April 2013 GUATEMALA - REPUBLIC PESO 1896/5 NGC MS 63 Before the Spaniards arrived in Guatemala, it was the ancient home of the Mayan Indians. With the Spanish conquest of Central America beginning in 1519, Captain Pedro de Alvarado under the authority of Hernan Cortes methodically subjugated the Mayans. To make matters worse Captain Pedro de Alvarado had a reputation for being both cruel and ruthless. The Mayans fought bravely for their lands, but their weaponry was no match to that of the Spanish conquistadors. After the final defeat of the Mayan Indians, Pedro de Alvarado became the governor of Guatemala. Subsequently, the entire region from Mexico all the way to Panama became known as New Spain.

If being subjugated to a conquering enemy isn’t bad enough, the Spaniards unknowingly brought with them diseases to which they themselves were largely immune. Conversely, the Mayan Indians had no such immunities, and those diseases devastated them. By some estimates, up to 90% of the Mayan population died of smallpox. Because the smallpox epidemic did not seem to affect the Spaniards, the Mayans came to believe that the god of the Spaniards was superior to their gods. This resulted in the rapid growth of the Roman Catholic Church, both in terms of political power and influence by an acquiescing of the Central American natives to Spanish rule.

Generally speaking, when the church acquires political power, it opens itself up to corruption. Now I am not against the church spreading the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ, but when the church veers from its core mission, it loses credibility and opens itself to corruption. This became evident when under the governance of dictators, the wealthy landowners and the church clergy held all the power, land, and money in Guatemala.

This brings me to the reverse of the 1896/5 Guatemalan Peso and the date on the scroll in the center of the Guatemalan Coat of Arms. That date, 15 September 1821, is the date of Guatemalan independence from Spain. Afterwards, on July 1, 1823, the Federal Republic of Central America consisting of Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras declared their independence from the First Mexican Empire, which had annexed them. The bird perched on the scroll is Guatemala’s national bird, the Resplendent Quetzal. This bird is a symbol of liberty because oftentimes the resplendent quetzal will kill itself rather than face capture and captivity. The crossed Springfield Rifles with Bayonets represent the willingness of Guatemala to defend itself. The crossed sabers represent honor, while the laurel wreath symbolizes victory. Interestingly, while governments have come and gone in Guatemala, the coat of arms has remained to this day.

The liberal factions of the new Federal Republic of Central America had hoped that the Republic would bring about democratic reforms. However, the conservative factions allied with the Catholic clergy, and wealthy landowners fiercely resisted efforts at reform. This led to political wrangling and an ensuing civil war between 1838 and 1840. Consequently, the civil war led to the dissolution of the Federal Republic of Central America into its separate states.

Over the course of time and regardless of who was in command, not much has changed for the people of Guatemala. That was until June 30, 1871, when Guatemala’s Liberal Revolution toppled the dictatorial government of Vicente Cerna under the command of General Justo Rufino Barrios.

Through the reforms implemented by Justo Rufino Barrios, much of the Catholic Church's land was seized and the church's power stripped by expelling the Jesuits and instituting the freedom of religion. Additional reforms led to freedom of the press and compulsory education. Under Justo Rufino Barrios, the economy was reformed enabling it to compete for international trade. The introduction of the telegraph to the country and the building of railroads modernized the infrastructure of Guatemala. In 1879, the Republic of Guatemala implemented its first constitution.

Nevertheless, Justo Rufino Barrios ruled by an open dictatorship only slightly moderated by a constitution that gave him broad executive powers. In the opinion of Justo Rufino Barrios, the native Indian culture had nothing to offer to his modern society, and he despised them. Justo Rufino Barrios dreamed of restoring the old Federal Republic of Central America back to its original form. However, he died on the battlefield trying to restore the Republic by force, and his vision of a new Central American Republic died with him.

This leads to the significance of the allegory portrayed on the obverse of my 1896/5 peso that has appeared on Guatemalan coinage beginning in 1873. The plinth in the right hemisphere of the obverse represents the Liberal Revolution of June 30, 1871. The broken chains at the base of the plinth represent the breaking of the Conservadoras dictatorial bondage over the people. The seated female personification holding a scale in her left hand supported by the plinth represents Justice. The cornucopia in Lady Justice’s right hand symbolizes economic prosperity and plenty for all under the justice won through the revolution.
View Coin May 2013 LATVIA G20L 2008 COIN OF LATVIA NGC MS 67 This month’s column is a tribute to mothers and motherhood. The first segment focuses on the motherhood aspect of this coin, and describes the coin’s design using copied narratives from other sources. The second will tell of my mother and my wife and is a grateful acknowledgment of them and their self-sacrifice for the sake of their children.

This NGC MS-67, 2008 Latvian 20-Lats coin minted by the Austrian Mint has a mintage of only 5000. The diameter of the coin is 22mm and weighs 10 grams. This coin has a gold fineness 0.999 and has an actual gold weight of 0.352739 Oz.

The gold "Coin of Latvia" shines with the promise of a good fortune and happiness in the future. It is also a special sign of recognition of an outstanding Latvian sculptor, since it carries out the project conceived by Teodors Zalkalns (Grinbergs until 1930; 1876–1972) in 1922 to create a 20-lats gold coin. The plaster model of the coin preserved in the archives of the Latvian National Museum of History contains symbols that are of great significance to Latvia.

Zalkalns' images of mother belong to the classical treasures of Latvian sculpture. The sculptures created during World War I and modeled after a refugee from Courland are a potent symbol of the nation's suffering and transcending that suffering. The obverse of the coin also features a woman in a headscarf, which to any Latvian signifies motherhood: when a baby was born, the husband presented the wife with a headscarf. A woman used it to cover her head whenever she ventured out in the world. Folk tradition has it that a person who is lost can find the right way if she turns the headscarf inside out and ties it anew; that a knot in one of the loose ends can help one remember, and if such a knot is tied when a star is falling, one's wish will come true. All these good things are tied to the mother image. Mother is the symbol of never-ending cycle of life, linking the past, present and future generations.

The feminine principle gives life to an individual and likewise is at the core of the family and state. The feminine principle unites the spiritual with the material; the symbols on the reverse of the coin, bread, apple, vessel with a curdled milk beverage and a jug of milk also signify fertility and plenitude. A knife, symbolizing masculine action, is placed next to the feminine images.

Part II:

The instances my mom exhibited love and self-sacrifice to my sisters and I are too numerous to tell. However, two examples stand out prominently in my heart.

When I was young lad of about six or seven, I was diagnosed with flat feet. To remedy this situation, I was fitted with special shoes that at the time cost my parents $50. Today to pay $50 for a pair of shoes is a bargain, but in the mid 1960’s that was a considerable amount of money for my parents to pay.

From my perspective, I hated those shoes, which I had to wear all day long and only came in one style. When I was younger, I never appreciated what my parents had done for me. Since then I have discovered there are things your parents do for you that you don’t appreciate until you walk a mile in their shoes. Today, still flat footed, I wish I had those shoes as mementos of my parents love and self-sacrifice.

While my siblings and I were young, my mom chose to stay at home and take care of us rather than pursue a career. Then, after we were all older, my mom went to work and eventually earned a degree. As a son, I could not be any prouder of her. They say you can’t have your cake and eat it too, but my mom proved otherwise. Today my mom is enjoying retirement as a china painter who is so skilled in her craft, that she holds classes to teach others the art of china painting. As an adult child, I still value her opinions and perspectives on life.

My wife proves that you don’t have to be super-mom to be a good mom. Though my wife could never fill the role of a soccer mom, she gave our two children all the love she had. Now that both my children are adults they understand this, and they love and appreciate her for it.

Because of health issues, the pregnancies of both my children were hard on my wife, and in particular, her pregnancy with my son. There were several times we rushed to the emergency room thinking my wife had miscarried thankfully to find it was a false alarm. Nevertheless, these incidences led to mandatory bed rest, no lifting, no climbing stairs, nothing but bed rest.

Thankfully, we received support from the people of my church with meals and things of that nature. Moreover, our pastor met us for prayer each time in the emergency room. However, regardless of the support we had, my son’s life depended on my wife’s obedience to her doctor’s instructions. Displaying the very essence of motherhood, she faithfully followed them all and my son was born a full term, strapping young boy!

I am a blessed man to have had the mother and wife I have. I learned the character traits of love and self-sacrifice from my mother and now my wife and I have tried to pass them on to our children. I can tell you that we are all the better for it.

One thing I have discovered common to all good mothers is that the needs of their children always come before their own. This then is the essence of motherhood.
View Coin June 2013 DENMARK 1873 TO DATE 2K 1903 P GJ 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF REIGN NGC MS 65 The 1903 Danish 2 Kroner coin commemorates the 40th anniversary of the reign of Christian IX. The obverse features a right-facing bust of Christian IX, King of Denmark. His reign, 15 November 1863 to 1903, appears around the inner circumference. Underneath the left portion of Christian IX's bust is the coins date of 1903 and a heart signifying that it was minted in Copenhagen. The initial P to the right of the date represents mint master Vilhelm Buchard Poulsen. The initials GJ underneath the right portion of Christian IX's bust is this coin's engraver, Knud Gunnar Jensen.

For illustrative and comparison purposes, I will contrast this coin with the gold 20 Kroner. I find it fascinating that two coins with similar designs have such diverse interpretations. The 20 Kroner gold coin came into existence as an international trade coin at the founding of the Scandinavian Monetary Union with Sweden in 1873 and Norway two years later. The Danish 20 Kroner circulated at par with the gold coins of the other member nations.

The 20- and 2-Kroner coins feature the feminine allegorical figure, Dania. Dania, the personification of Denmark, represents Denmark's spirit. Dania, as portrayed on the 2 Kroner, is at rest, symbolizing peace. The seated position generally embodies a person of authority like a monarch, a god or goddess, or perhaps some other high government official.

Often the shield accompanying the seated personification displays the coat of arms of the issuing nation. As a defensive piece of armor, the shield characterizes preparedness and protection from all potential foes, foreign and domestic.

The Danish coat of arms emblazoned on the 2- and 20-Kroner coins' shield features three crowned blue lions and nine hearts. Historians believe that the hearts at one time were the petals of the white lotus, which is a type of water lily. However, this was lost over the years and became today's hearts due to worn and crudely made signets during the Middle Ages.

The sheaf of wheat on the 2 Kroner and corn on the 20 Kroner represents Denmark's agricultural nature and agricultural exports. While other European nations fueled the industrial revolution of the 19th Century, Denmark led the way in an agricultural revolution. Universal education and other political reforms of the late 18th to mid-19th Century eventually lead to new agricultural technologies, innovations, and co-ops.

At this point, the allegories of the 2 Kroner and the 20 Kroner take on different meanings. As illustrated on the 20 Kroner, Dania is seen holding a scepter in her right hand, signifying Danish sovereignty. At her feet is a dolphin. The dolphin is an ancient omen of good luck and fair weather, symbolizing Danish naval prowess. Since this coin was meant for circulation outside Denmark, the coin's allegory was directed towards foreigners.

However, the 40th anniversary of reign 2 Kroner was meant to remind Danish citizens of the benefits of living in Denmark under Christian IX. The legend on the reverse delimited by flowers and translated, "With God for Honor and Justice," reveals this coin's real intent and defines the allegory.

Rather than holding a scepter as on the 20 Kroner, Dania is seen extending her right arm. Extending the arm, especially for someone in authority, can signify power and leadership. A person may also extend their arm to give someone directions or to show them the way. It can also suggest things like acceptance, welcome, vulnerability, transparency, and compassion. Seizing upon these definitions, I believe this allegory's purpose was to remind the people of their government's benevolence. Interestingly, it was during the reign of Christian IX that the following social programs were introduced:
• 1891—Old age pension law: means-tested pensions for persons 60 years or older, financed by the state and communes through general taxation.
• 1892—Sickness insurance law: public subsidies to recognized voluntary insurance funds.
• 1898—Employers' liability act: to ensure worker's compensation in case of industrial accidents. (THE DEVELOPMENTAL WELFARE STATE IN SCANDINAVIA: LESSONS FOR THE DEVELOPING WORLD, STEIN KUHNLE, AND SVEN EO HORT)

Tensions between Denmark and Germany were high when Christian IX ascended to the throne in November of 1863. Consequently, Denmark found themselves at war with Prussia and Austria in 1864 over the disputed duchies of Schleswig-Holstein. After about eight months, Denmark was soundly defeated. This war caused a shift in national priorities from colonialism to domestic development and neutrality in international affairs. The effect of this shift brought peace and prosperity to Denmark, hence the dove as the international symbol of peace on the 40th anniversary of reign 2 Kroner.
View Coin July 2013 DENMARK 1873 TO DATE 20K 1890 HC CS NGC MS 64 The 1890 20 Kroner has a mintage of 102,000. It was minted in Copenhagen, as signified by the heart to the left of the date. The initials CS to the right of the date represent mint official Diderik Christian Andreas Svendsen. The coin struck in .900 fine gold weighs 8.9605 grams and has an AGW of .2593oz.

The obverse of this coin features a right-facing bust of King Christian IX. The initials HC at the base of Christian IX’s truncated neck represent the coins engraver, Harald Conradsen. The reverse features Dania’s seated image with her left forearm resting on the upper rim of a shield engraved with the Danish coat of arms. With her right hand, Dania is holding a scepter representing Denmark’s sovereignty. A sheaf of corn behind Dania represents Denmark’s agricultural economy and its main export. Finally, at the feet of Dania, illustrating Danish naval prowess is a dolphin, which denotes good luck and fair weather.

There is a saying, which asserts that a common perception can become a reality. For example, the wings on Liberty’s headdress of the Mercury Dime signify freedom of thought. However, the public perceived the coin to represent the Roman god Mercury. Thus, the “Winged Liberty Head Dime” is forever known as “The Mercury Dime.”

Another public perception born of a Danish fascination with mermaids applies to the Danish 20 Kroner coin, commonly referred to as the “Mermaid Coin.” Now the image on the reverse of the 20 Kroner is clearly not a mermaid. However, it can appear that way in the imagination of the person viewing the coin by merging the dolphin’s tail into the feet of Dania.

Denmark, as a maritime nation, would naturally be attracted to anything concerning the sea. Add to this the charm of seagoing folklore, and it is easy to see the connection between the Danish people and the “Mermaid Coin.”

Danish author Hans Christian Anderson tapped into the essence of this when he published the popular children’s fairytale “The Little Mermaid” in 1837. Later in 1909, commissioned by brewer and art collector Carl Jacobsen, sculptor Edvard Eriksen fashioned a statue based on “The Little Mermaid.” Now an iconic symbol of Copenhagen, the life-size bronze of “The Little Mermaid,” sits on a rock in the harbor off Langelinie Promenade.

Here in the United States, most of us identify more with the 1989 Walt Disney adaptation of “The Little Mermaid.” My daughter was only five when this movie first came out, and I remember her fascination with mermaids. Ariel, from the famous Walt Disney movie, “The Little Mermaid,” is pictured with my coin. Also displayed is a 1911 Edmund Dulac Illustration of the Little Mermaid and the Prince.

I recall an instance at the grocery store with my daughter when we walked by a “Chicken of the Sea” placard in the tuna fish aisle. At the sight of the placard, my “Little Girl” pointed and said, “Daddy, Mermaid.” Along with a picture of a mermaid were redemption coupons offering to send us a free stuffed mermaid in exchange for several tuna labels. Wrapped around my daughter’s little finger, I tore off one of the redemption coupons. You can well imagine what happened after that. Let us just say we ate a lot of “Chicken of the Sea” tuna for a while!

Many of the coins in my collection remind me of fond life experiences, and this coin is no exception. This coin reminds me of the cherished times I had with my daughter. One of the beauties of numismatics is that the interpretation of symbolic images is often in the “eyes of the beholder.” While artists and engravers have their own ideas about their coins’ symbolism, it all comes down to how you perceive the coin in your hand!
View Coin August 2013 SPAIN 1848 TO DATE 2P 1870(74) DEM NGC AU 53 The 1870(74) 2-peseta coin minted in Madrid has a mintage of 14,892,932. It is 27mm in diameter with a silver fineness of .835 weighing 10 grams. The obverse initials L.M. underneath Hispania’s feet refer to engraver Luis Marchionni. The initials D.E. along the lower left rim of the reverse refer to mint assayers Eduardo Díaz Pimienta and Julio de Escosura Tablares. The initial .M. along the lower right rim of the reverse refers to balance judge Ángel Mendoza Ordóñez.

The central device on the obverse is an image of Hispania reclining against the Pyrenees Mountains with her right arm stretched out holding an olive branch. With the Rock of Gibraltar at her feet Hispania effectively spans all of Spain. To “extend an olive branch” across the land is to offer peace and reconciliation for all. This was especially important after a revolution. On Hispania’s head is a mural crown. As the feminine personification of Spain, the mural crown she wears establishes her as a tutelary deity or protectorate of the people she represents. The mural crown also appears in heraldry on the reverse of this coin. As such it has come to represent a republican form of government unlike that of an imperial or royal crown which represents a monarchy. Thus, with the mural crown over the coat of arms, it represents a republic of the five kingdoms of Spain or under a royal or imperial crown, the combined kingdom of the monarch.

The central device on the reverse is the Spanish Coat of Arms. The Spanish Coat of arms is representative of the five Spanish Kingdoms on the Iberian Peninsula. The upper-left quadrant represents the Kingdom of Castile in the west region of Spain bordering Portugal and the North Atlantic Ocean. The upper-right quadrant represents the Kingdom of León in the northwest region of Spain on the Bay of Biscay. The lower-left quadrant represents the kingdom of Aragon in the southeast region of Spain on the Mediterranean Sea. The lower-right quadrant represents the Kingdom of Navarre in the northeast region of Spain bordering France. Finally, the pomegranate at the bottom of the arms represents Grenada in the southcentral region of Spain on the Mediterranean Sea. The borders of these kingdoms were very fluid throughout history. This was usually the result of one kingdom conquering or annexing another kingdom.

The large date on the obverse is the year of the coin’s authorization. The legend “ESPAÑA” is flanked by two six-point stars. Stamped into the stars is the coins date of manufacture. For example, this coin has the number “18” stamped into the star to the left of the legend. The star on the right has the number “74” stamped into it. Thus, the date of the minting of this coin is 1874. This system of dating coins allowed for the annual use of the same hubs and master dies with very minor changes to the working dies.
View Coin September 2013 SPAIN 1848 TO DATE 10C 1870 OM NGC XF 40 BN Gary’s September Coin of the Month (Volume 3, Number 1) is a modified continuation of August’s column using an NGC XF-40 Spanish Provisional Government 1870 OM, 10 centimos (KM# 663) instead of the two pesetas.

The Spanish Provisional Government copper 10 centimos is 30 mm in diameter and weighs 10 grams. With a mintage of 170,088,104, one might think that this coin is readily available in MS condition. Yet NGCs highest grading coin is an MS-65 with a population of just two coins. Recently in 2013, Heritage Auctions sold a MS-65 for $340.75. The apparent rarity of MS coins seems to imply that nearly all the Spanish Provisional Government 10 centimos circulated.

This coins engraver is L. Marchionni and his first initial and last name are directly underneath the main device on the coins obverse. The main device features a right facing Hispania encircled by dots and seated on the Pyrenees Mountains as on a throne. Outside the inner rim dots in the obverse legend is the weight of the coin at 10 grams and the date 1870.

In the unsettling times after Spain’s Glorious Revolution of 1868, it was especially important for the people to have confidence in their currency. Therefore, the initials OM underneath the rampant lion on this coins reverse represents the assayer, Oeschger Mesdach & Co. The weight of the 10 centimos coin appears in the reverse legend as a ratio. Thus, the phrase “CIEN PIEZAS EN KILOG.” is properly translated 100 pieces in a kilogram and represents the weight of the copper 10 centimos coin at 10 grams (1000 grams/100 pieces). The two “eight-pointed” stars represent that the 10 centimos coin was minted in Barcelona.

The Spanish Provisional Government monetary system had a simple system of graduated weights for their silver and copper coins directly proportional to the coins value. In other words, the 10 centimos coin weighs twice as much as the 5 centimos coin that weighs 5 grams.

Once a dominate world power, Spain’s influence around the world and in Europe had already begun to decline by the beginning of the 19th Century. Napoleons occupation of Spain early in the century led to a fierce war for independence by Spain’s nationalists. Seizing on the opportunity presented by Spain’s troubles at home, many of Spain’s new world colonies declared their own independence.

After the death of King Ferdinand VII in 1833, Queen Isabella II’s uncle, Infante Carlos, challenged her succession to the throne. This led to the First Carlist War (1833-39) between the followers of Carlos and those loyal to Maria Christina serving as Isabella IIs regent. In the end, the loyalty of Spain’s army to Maria Christina and Isabella II proved decisive in Isabella II remaining on the throne.

By the middle of the century, there had already been a number of civil wars in the political struggle for control of Spain. When Isabella II came of age and began to govern her capriciousness and ineptitude made her unpopular as a sovereign. This in turn led to The Glorious Revolution of 1868 and Isabella’s removal from the throne. Two years of anarchy followed before the appointment of Italian Prince Amadeo of Savoy to the throne in 1870.

Amidst this political instability and national glum, Spain needed the proverbial shot in the arm to give her hope. Therefore, I believe the design features of this coin do just that.

The obverse of the Spanish Provisional Government 10 centimos features Spain’s national personification Hispania seated on the Pyrenees Mountains with her feet towards the Mediterranean Sea represented by a lighthouse. Hispania appears holding an olive branch in her right hand while outstretching her left arm down towards the sea. This represents sovereignty and peace over all the land. The key to this coin’s allegory in 1870 was that the sovereignty of Spain resided with the people as represented by Hispania, rather than a monarch.

The reverse of this coin features a rampant lion with his front paws resting on a shield reminiscent of Spain’s ancient kingdoms. The top left quarter of the shield represents the Kingdom of Castile, the top right Leon, the bottom left Aragon, the bottom right Navarre, and the pomegranate at the bottom, the Kingdom of Granada. The lion represents royalty, bravery, strength, and power as he looks over his shoulder in a manner that indicates he is defending Spain against her enemies, thus signifying security.

Unfortunately, it took some time for the symbolism of this coin to become reality. In 1873 Amadeo I abdicated from the throne after asserting that Spain was ungovernable. The First Republic of Spain followed this government and lasted only 23 months. Finally, in a bit of irony, the House of Bourbon returned to the throne in the person of Isabella’s son Alfonso XII on December 30, 1874. During Alfonso’s reign, Spain finally entered into a period of peace and prosperity towards the end of the 19th century.

In summary, the imagery on coins has the power to move and inspire people by reminding them through daily commerce of their national pride and heritage. This power as I have discussed before can be used as a propaganda tool to suppress the people or to instill a sense of hope for the future.
View Coin October 2013 AUSTRIA - EMPIRE PART 2 2FL 1879 SILVER WEDDING ANNIV. NGC MS 63 Gary’s Coin of the Month (Volume 3, Number 2) features a coin commemorating the 25th wedding anniversary of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria and Elizabeth of Bavaria. The obverse of this coin portrays an image of their conjoined busts and the reverse features a seated image of the goddess Fortuna. This coin (KM#X5) grading MS-63 by NGC resides in my newest custom set entitled, “The Use of Seated Imagery in Numismatics.”

In 1879, the Austro-Hungarian Empire issued a 2 gulden commemorative coin to celebrate the 25th wedding anniversary of Franz Joseph I of Austria to Elizabeth of Bavaria. Equivalent to 2 Austrian Florins or 2 Hungarian Forints, the coin is 36mm in diameter and weighs 24.69 grams. It has a silver fineness of .900 and an ASW of .7144 oz. Minted in Vienna, Austria, this coin has a mintage of 275,000.

The central device on the obverse of this coin are the conjoined heads of Franz Joseph I wearing a laureate crown signifying honor and Elizabeth wearing a diadem signifying royal power or dignity. The obverse legend translated into English is “Franz-Jozef by the grace of God emperor of Austria and Apostolic king of Hungary, Elisabeth empress and queen.” Inscribed on this coins edge is its denomination at 2 Gulden/2 Forint.

The central device on the reverse of this coin is Fortuna, the Roman goddess of chance or lot. Fortuna appears seated on an ottoman representing the oracular seat from where she steers the destinies of men as signified by the rudder in her right hand. Cradled in Fortuna’s left arm is a cornucopia representing abundance. Fortuna, as portrayed on this coin is regarded as the bearer of good fortune, fertility and abundance. The reverse legend translated from Latin into English is “Fifth period of five years of the marriage ceremony 24th of April 1879.”

Unfortunately, for Franz Joseph and Elisabeth history records quite a different destiny for this couple than what the coin suggests. One could even make the argument that due to their vastly differing personalities, they should not have married in the first place. Nevertheless, they were married anyway on April 24, 1854.

Now Franz Joseph had a lackluster personality and was devoted to the formality and tradition of the Hapsburg royal court. Conversely, Elizabeth was more of a free spirit, and abhorred the obligations that came along with being an empress. Consequently, even though Franz Joseph loved his wife dearly, Elizabeth did not respond with the same affection.

Elizabeth nicknamed “Sisi” by her family and friends felt emotionally constricted by the formality of the Hapsburg court. Consequently, I believe that the stressful expectations placed on her led to her obsession with beauty and various other health issues including anorexia.

In Elizabeth’s defense, Franz Joseph’s mother princess Sophie was very domineering towards her son and against their marriage. Additionally, Sophie had not allowed Elizabeth to raise her own children and separated them from her at birth. Though hated by her subjects in Austria, Elizabeth was loved by the people of Hungary. Consequently, I believe that Elizabeth’s love for Hungary and her influence on her husband were contributing factors in the Austro-Hungarian compromise of 1869. This agreement gave Hungary a certain degree of autonomy and made Elizabeth and her husband the king and queen of Hungary.

Franz Joseph over the tenure of his reign presided over the gradual eroding of the Austrian Empire by other peoples from within the empire seeking their own autonomy and independence. Furthermore, Franz Joseph’s mother, princess Sophie, exercised undue influence over Franz Joseph until her death in 1872. The effect of that influence placed a wedge in the relationship between Franz Joseph and Elizabeth. Later, somewhat estranged from each other, circumstantial evidence led to persisting rumors that they were both involved in extra-marital affairs.

Tragedy was an ever-present reality in the lives of Franz Joseph and Elizabeth. This started with the death of their first-born child Sophie at the age of two in 1857. The murder-suicide of Franz Joseph and Elizabeth's only son Crown Prince Rudolf and his lover followed in 1889. The Mayerling incident named after the hunting lodge where the murder-suicide occurred was personally devastating to both Franz Joseph and Elizabeth. This incident also destabilized the empire as the lineage to the throne passed to the son of Franz Joseph’s brother, archduke Franz Ferdinand.

In 1853 Franz Joseph survived an assassination attempt on his life. However, Elizabeth was not quite as fortunate as an Italian anarchist assassinated her in Geneva, Switzerland in 1898. In 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo and shortly thereafter Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia thus igniting a chain of events that erupted into World War 1.

In summary, I wish to make two closing points. First is that I find it fascinating the degree to which this dysfunctional family directly affected the history of the world, including the number of people who have died in World War 1. My next point relates to Fortuna and one of two possibilities, she either is capricious in the way she directs destinies OR she is no god at all. I choose to believe the latter. Until next month, Happy collecting!
View Coin November 2013 CANADA - 1968 TO DATE G$200 1994 ANNE OF GREEN GABLES NGC PF 69 ULTRA CAMEO Novembers “Coin of the Month” (Volume 3 Number 3) column features an NGC PFUC-69, 1994 Canadian $200 gold coin (KM# 250) commemorating the “Literary Legacy” of Canadian Lucy Maud Montgomery’s 1908 novel, “Anne of Green Gables”.

This coin featuring a bust of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse and a young girl seated underneath a gazebo on the reverse is 29mm in diameter and weighs 17.135 grams. The mintage of this coin is 10,655 and the serial number on the certificate of authenticity that accompanies it is 03174. This coin unlike most gold coins has somewhat of a greenish hue. This is due to the alloying of gold with silver rather than copper. Thus, this 22-karat gold coin has a silver fineness of .0835 and a gold fineness of .9165 with an AGW of .5049 oz.

The Canadian $200 coin I have pictured commemorates “Anne of Green Gables-A Literary Legacy”. The reverse depicts a young girl in a garden seated and relaxed underneath a gazebo daydreaming of adventure inspired by the novel “Anne of Green Gables”. Suddenly, in this girl's imagination, Anne literally leaps from the pages of her book. Thus, no one should underestimate the potential of a good book to inspire the person reading it. This is especially true of the novel, “Anne of Green Gables,” the tale of an orphan, Anne Shirley, who against all odds overcame her circumstances and fulfilled her dreams.

Oftentimes when I want to read a book and/or meditate, I particularly like to find a good place to be alone in an environment where I can relax. I remember returning to Maryland from a family vacation in which we detoured off the main route to drive north on “Skyline Drive” in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western Virginia. Noticing a place to stop with a spectacular view of the valley below, we pulled over to allow us more time to take it all in. While there, I found a place to sit alone with my Bible where I had had a wonderful time of reading, meditation, and prayer in an environment that was especially conducive to those types of activities. In this manner, I can totally relate to the young girl on the reverse of this coin.

The following three paragraphs are copied from the COA that accompanied this coin and give the history behind this commemorative:

Lucy Maude Montgomery, born November 30, 1874, was raised by her maternal grandparents Alexander and Lucy Macneill, in their old-fashioned Cavendish farmhouse in Prince Edward Island, Canada. That was her home from 1876 to 1911. It was there where she wrote her first novel in 1908 and procured immediate international acclaim: “A different environment,” she said, “would have given a different bias. Were it not for those Cavendish years, I do not think Anne of Green Gables would ever have been written.”

Perhaps no other Canadian literary character is more famous or has captured more hearts than Lucy Maud Montgomery’s red-haired girl Anne Shirley. Pulled into many predicaments by her romantic imagination and daring streak, Anne Shirley unvaribly emerges more humble, yet wiser and more determined to follow her own path. From an abandoned and lonely girl, Anne grows into a confident and responsible young women who retains the passion of her youth and love of her childhood home, at Green Gables.

Designed by Canadian artist Phoebe Gilman, the reverse of the coin depicts a young girl sitting under a gazebo, daydreaming about adventure and life in the Prince Edward Island countryside, inspired by the Anne of Green Gables novel. The obverse features the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, by Dora de Pedery-Hunt.

In summary, it is primarily when a person is seated and relaxing in a place they like to be that they ponder and formulate their dreams. Oftentimes they will receive the encouragement they need to pursue their dreams while reading a good book. Although first published in 1908, the book “Anne of Green Gables” still stirs the imaginations of young girls today. This then is the lasting legacy of “Anne of Green Gables” and the “message” in the imagery of this coin that resides in my seated imagery collection.

To the left side of this month’s photo collage is a picture of Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery and her book. To the right is a picture from the Public Television series of Anne Shirley, the main character of “Anne of Green Gables.”
View Coin December 2013 United States NY 1863 NEW YORK F-630AM-1a CHRISTOPH KARL NGC MS 64 BN NY 1863 NEW YORK F-630AM-1a CHRISTOPH KARL:

There are coins in this set that are difficult to describe, and this 1863 store card is one of them. That said I intend to convey the little I known about Christoph Karl in my owner comments. Then taking into account the historical context of this token, I will give a plausible explanation of the allegories present on this beautiful token from New York City featuring Germania, the national personification of Germany.

Due to the hoarding of hard currency during the Civil War, merchants issued tokens and store cards in lieu of coins for use in their stores. Most of those tokens included the name of the store and its merchandise right on the token. Other tokens were political in nature. However, this token gives only the name of the proprietor and the address of the business in New York City.

After numerous Google searches I found two sources stating that Christoph Karls business was either a liquor store or a saloon. I also found that Christoph Karl was born in Bavaria in 1824 and that he immigrated to the United States sometime between his birth in 1824 and 1859. In the following paragraphs, I will offer a theorem as to how and when Christoph Karl came to the United States using the allegory illustrated on this token.

Originating in France, a wave of nationalist political uprisings against the reigning autocracies erupted across all of Europe in February of 1848. The revolutionaries had hoped to usher in a new era of democracy and social reform in Europe. Instead, particularly in the German Confederation (1815-1866), the revolutionaries met with defeat. Their failure to effect social change not only left the old order intact but probably strengthened it.

Following their loss and fearing for their lives many of the revolutionaries fled their homes to start anew in other countries. With the nickname Forty-Eighters, thousands of Germanic people immigrated to the United States. Many of those immigrants settled in the northern states due to their objection to slavery. I believe that Christoph Karl was among the Forty-Eighters settling in New York City.

The obverse of this token features Germania seated close to a body of water with hills in the background. She is stretching her right arm over the land in an altruistic, calming manner. Behind her is the standard of the German Confederation with the tincture matching that of the black, red, and yellow colors of the German Confederation flag. The shield is representative of the German Confederation arms with a double-headed eagle against a yellow background. Germania is wearing a more generic mural crown as opposed to a royal or imperialistic crown of a king or queen. At the base of the shield are oak branches representing strength and independence. Above the shield is the hilt of a sword showing a readiness to fight if necessary. The reverse features a harp representing harmony or perhaps unity. An oak wreath surrounds the harp with a radiant five-pointed star at the opening reminiscent of the approved, but not fully embraced, 1848 German Confederation Coat of arms.

Not deterred by their earlier failures, I believe many of the Forty-Eighters took up the battle against the autocracies of Europe from their adopted homelands. Being a naturalized American citizen, Christoph Karl could now exercise his right to free speech without fear of reprisal. The lack of hard circulating currency during the Civil War was the perfect opportunity for a proprietor like Christoph Karl to continue to speak out against the reigning autocracies of the German states. Thus, I believe, given the absence of the business name on this token, that it be numbered among those tokens making a political statement. Coins and tokens are excellent mediums in which to promote political causes. With the likelihood that a number of Germanic people and those sympathetic to the cause would frequent Christoph Karl’s establishment, this token was likely effective in promoting the vision of an independent German state.

The picture substituting for the reverse of this coin’s owner comments is an 1848 painting of Germania. The standard in the picture is that of the liberal nationalists and the rays of a rising sun is the beginning of a new era. Germania’s crown of oak leaves denotes heroism, her breastplate, strength, her sword, power, and the hemp branch a willingness to make peace. At Germania’s feet are broken chains, symbolic of being set free. To the right of Germania is the 1848 German Confederation Coat of Arms. Notice the similarity between the star on the token and the picture. The arms are very similar in meaning to the imagery of the harp.

One of the things I find interesting concerning Germania is the way differing groups manipulated her for their own purposes. For instance, the revolutionaries were using the imagery of Germania on this token to promote their cause, while on the other hand the Prussians with the 1871 Victory Thaler manipulated Germania to strengthen Emperor Wilhelm’s status. These two positions could not be more opposed to one another.

The Industrial Revolution at the end of the 18th Century dramatically changed the labor market throughout Great Britain. This resulted in an increased need for small copper currency. However, the supply of government issued coins failed to meet the needs of commerce for the newly industrialized British economy. In response, a large number of merchants throughout the British Islands issued copper tokens redeemable for goods and services. This resulted in thousands of differing merchant tokens circulating throughout the British Islands. Those tokens commonly referred to as Conder Tokens are named after James Conder who first cataloged them.

The tokens were a hit with both the storekeepers and the buying public. Most of the merchants loved the tokens because they could use the device designs on the tokens to advertise their business. Other merchants used the tokens to make a political statement and this token falls into that category.

John Stride, a grocer and tea dealer operating a business in the small port town of Emsworth in Hampshire County issued this 1795-halfpenny token. The obverse device features a profile bust of Admiral of the Fleet, Richard Howe, 1st Earl Howe and commemorates “The Glorious First of June” naval battle with France in 1794. The reverse device features Britannia seated on a globe over the sea holding a spear in her right hand and a laurel branch in her left. The reverse legend reads, “Rule Britannia” while the edge inscription reads, “Emsworth Halfpenny Payable by John Stride”.

In the last decade of the 18th century, all of Europe was in fear of the French Revolution reaching beyond the borders of France. With France already at war with four of her neighbors, she finally declared war with Great Britain on February 1, 1793. This action resulted in Great Britain placing a naval blockade on France’s seaports. Suffering from the effects of a famine and in desperate need of food and supplies, France turned to the United States for help. The United States in response sent vital grain and provisions to France via a convoy protected by France’s naval fleet. On June 1, 1794, the British fleet under the command of Fleet Admiral Howe engaged the French fleet under the command of Rear Admiral Villaret-Joyeuse 400 miles off the French island of Ushant.

The fighting was furious with heavy casualties on both sides, which in the end resulted in a tactical victory for Great Britain and France’s fleet severely crippled. However, the French could also claim a strategic victory in that the convoy of supplies arrived safely in France. Naturally, both the British and French press had a different spin on “The Glorious First of June” with both sides claiming victory.

This famous naval battle leads into the allegory of this token. When a person “sits” on a representative object like a throne representing a country or a “seat” in a government, that person is in effect ruling over the persons represented by that object. This token features Britannia representing Great Britain as having mastery or dominion over the world’s oceans by sitting on a globe set upon the waters. The spear represents her enforcement arm and the laurel branch victory. As if there were any room for interpretation, the legend, “Rule Britannia” makes the allegory of this token quite clear.

The commemorative engraving substituting for this tokens reverse features Britannia sitting with a lion on the shore surveying a British ship in the harbor. Directly over her is a tree with the busts of the naval heroes from “The Glorious First of June”. In the air over the water flying towards Britannia is Nike preparing to crown her with the laurel wreath of “Victory”.
View Coin February 2014 BRAZIL - COLONIAL & IMPERIAL - 1643-1889 REAL 2008 BRAZIL BI-METALLIC NGC MS 64 February’s Coin of the Month is not rare; it has a mintage of 664,833,000. It is not made of silver or gold; it has a bi-metallic composition of stainless steel with an outer ring of bronze plated steel. This coin is not old; it has a date of 2008. This coin is not valuable; you can buy one on EBay for a dollar.

In fact, it is unlikely this coin will ever be more valuable than the cost of NGC encapsulation. Nevertheless, I consider this coin priceless for the memories it represents.

February’s Coin of the Month is an NGC MS-64 Brazil 1 Real coin I plucked out of circulation on a 10-day mission trip to Sao Paulo, Brazil five years ago in January. Although I have researched the coin’s allegory (Effigy of the Republic), this coin is more about my personal testimony than about anything else. Thus, in this month’s column I intend to chronicle the events of those 10 days rather than the coin’s description and historical context. By the time you finish reading my testimonial, you will know why this coin is so important to me.

My wife and I as part of a 10-member team departed from Chicago via Toronto for Sao Paulo, Brazil intending to minister to orphan children. Our host family in Brazil was members of our church 10 years prior before they themselves became missionaries to an international school (PACA Pan-American Christian Academy) in Sao Paulo.

Our plane landed in Sao Paulo on a Friday afternoon. From there we proceeded to our housing, had our first Brazilian dinner, and attended an evening briefing before finally bedding down.

Awakened in the middle of the night by severe abdominal pain, my missionary journey took a sudden and unexpected turn. I called my host to take me to the emergency room at Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo. There my doctor ordered a number of tests to diagnose the source of the pain.

Miraculously, the pain subsided before I received any pain medication and I thought to myself, “Let’s get this over with so I can go home and re-join the team”. Even my doctor who had an idea of what I had marveled at my calm saying, “People in your condition are usually writhing in pain”.

Then the diagnosis came and I had acute pancreatitis caused by blockage from a gallstone. Now not only was I not going home, I was going to have surgery to remove the gallstone. The next thing I remember after my surgery was the surgeon telling me the procedure was a success.

With the subsiding pain and subsequent diagnosis, I knew this was where God wanted me to be and that he used the pain to get me to the hospital. It never dawned on me how sick I was until much later when I learned that left untreated; I would have been dead in a matter of a few days.

Not coincidently, I also learned there was no better place in the world to have this surgery than right where I was. The non-intrusive (no cutting) laparoscopic procedure to remove the blockage was done by the very surgeon who pioneered it. I also learned that my surgeon traveled all around the world to train other surgeons on this procedure.

The following day after my surgery, my doctor told me that my blood tests showed a rapid improvement in my condition. However, I still needed to remain in the hospital until the swelling in my pancreas subsided.

Two things now stood out in my mind. The first, I thanked God for his healing power in my life and the next, I had a choice. Would I complain about spending my mission’s trip in the hospital or would I try to discover God’s purpose for me here? Fortunately, I decided on the latter to begin a mission to the hospital staff.

Meanwhile, the rest of the team went on with the “mission” as planned. Although I was one of its leaders, the team went on without missing a beat! This is where our pre-trip training really paid off.

My wife on the other hand, had a rough go of it and I tip my hat off to her. The team visited me once and I think my wife was only able to visit me by herself on one other occasion.

I cannot say enough about our hosts. With only a few of the hospital attendants speaking English, our host church arranged to have translators sit with me on a 7X24 hour basis. Thus, I enjoyed a number of fascinating conversations with a variety of interesting people. Moreover, our host church provided me with a number of Portuguese New Testaments that I in turn handed out to the hospital staff.

Because of the steady improvement in my condition, my doctor released me from the hospital after only a week to re-join the team for the final three days of the mission trip. Before I left, I presented my doctor with a signed Portuguese New Testament expressing my heartfelt thanks for his care. After I returned home, I followed up on my recovery with my primary care doctor and had my gall bladder removed a month later.

Now five years later that trip still has a profound and lasting impact on my life. To experience God’s healing power and see him work in so many different ways is nothing less than amazing.

The picture substituting as the reverse owner comments is the "team" with me at the top of the pyramid.
View Coin March 2014 Great Britain 1/2P (1790'S) GB D&H-36D SOMERSETSHIRE - BATH NORTHWEST COLLECTION NGC TOKEN AU 58 BN Gary’s March Coin of the Month (Volume 3 Number 7) features a copper NGC AU-58 1790’s ½ penny Conder Token (D&H-36D).

During the late 18th Century, the widespread use of merchant tokens in the United Kingdom filled a void left by the government’s failure to mint enough coins for commerce. These tokens provided an effective means for merchants to advertise their wares or in the case of this token, propagate a political cause.

Now let’s say that you owed a debt you could not pay. The worst thing that could happen to you is that you will lose your home. Furthermore, you may even have to file for bankruptcy. However, if you lived in the late 18th Century you could be looking at a prison sentence until your debt was paid in full.

Consequently, since incarceration in “debtors’ prison” directly affected your ability to earn money, you may well be serving a long sentence. Because 18th Century prisons were privately run, you also had to pay a prison fee. So with the prison fees added to your original debt, your debt only compounded. Because of the capriciousness and injustice of this system, English philanthropist John Howard advocated for prison reform.

Another of those 18th Century philanthropists was a print shop owner by the name of William Gye from the City of Bath in southwest England. In 1794, William Gye issued a token bringing attention to the poor conditions of the imprisoned debtors he visited weekly at Ilchester Gaol (gaol is British for prison). From his print shop in Bath, William Gye took donations to aid the debtors in prison and distributed his tokens as change.

As the movement for prison reform began to catch fire, other merchants issued tokens using similar reverse devices to those of William Gye’s original token. In all, there are some thirteen varieties of this Conder Token. My token without a date or identified merchant has as its edge inscription, “Payable at London or Dublin”. Given the distance between London and Dublin my token shows the extent and popularity of the prison reform movement in the United Kingdom.

The reverse of my token based on Gye’s original design has as its’ central device a seated woman representing benevolence. Surrounding Benevolence is a number of jars representing plenty. Benevolence with her right arm stretched out towards the prison is directing a young boy with a key to open the prison door. In her left hand, she is holding an olive branch representing peace or specifically in this case, a paid debt. Underneath the prison window is a basket for express purpose of receiving donations from passer-bys. Overhead in rays of glory as if from God is the command to “Go Forth”. The legend inside a beaded circle and delimited by a small ornament reads, “Remember the Debtors in Goal”. As an aside, it interesting to note that the word “gaol” is misspelled “goal” on the token.

On the obverse of this token is a bust of prison reformer, John Howard F.R.S (Fellow of the Royal Society). The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge is a learned society for science of which John Howard was elected in 1756. Each member of the Royal Society has the right to use the initials F.R.S. after their name.

Born in 1726 John Howard grew up in a family of considerable wealth. Later he apprenticed as a wholesale grocer only to find himself deeply dissatisfied. As a young man devout in his faith and probably in search of his calling, John went on a grand tour of the European continent in 1748.

Then after the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake, John Howard departed on a ship destined for Portugal only to be imprisoned when French privateers captured his ship. Subsequently, John returned to the United Kingdom in a prisoner exchange with France. Thus, it is likely that John Howard’s experience as a prisoner had a profound impact on his life’s work as a prison reformer.

Appointed as the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire in 1773, John Howard found himself in a unique position to examine the conditions of the prisons under his charge and effect changes. Over time, John Howard visited hundreds of prisons across the United Kingdom and Europe, publishing his findings in a 1777 report entitled, “The State of Prisons”. On a number of occasions, the House of Commons called on John Howard to testify before a select committee. John continued his work as a reformer visiting prisons around the world and publishing his findings. He died in the Ukraine in 1790.

Upon news of his death, a large number of merchants chose to commemorate John Howard by featuring his bust on their tokens. These tokens heightened the public’s awareness of the conditions in their prisons and in particular debtors’ prisons. Subsequently, the passage of the Debtors’ Act of 1869 and the Bankruptcy Act of 1883 ended the practice of imprisoning debtors altogether in the United Kingdom.

The picture substituting as this token's reverse is a drawing of Gye's print shop circa 1819.
View Coin April 2014 5H 2009 UKRAINE YEAR OF ASTRONOMY NGC MS 69 This month my “Coin of the Month” feature (Volume 3 Number 8) will touch on three events. The first event relates to the coin’s origin in the Ukraine and represents my hope for an acceptable and peaceful resolution to Ukraine’s ongoing conflict with Russia. Next, this coin commemorates the 2009 “International Year of Astronomy” and corresponds to my fascination with space exploration. Finally, there will be a lunar eclipse on the night of April 14/15, 2014 that directly correlates to the person depicted on the coins reverse, Yuri Drohobych (1450-1494).

This month’s coin of the month is a 2009 copper-nickel 5 hryvnia from Ukraine commemorating the International Year of Astronomy. It has a weight of 16.54 grams and is 35mm in diameter. The coin’s mintage is 45,000.

A small Ukrainian coat of arms appears prominently on top of the coin’s obverse dividing the legend, “National Bank of Ukraine”. The coin’s denomination of 5 hryvnia is inscribed on an unraveling scroll along the bottom of the obverse with the date 2009 in exergue just above it. To the right of the scroll is a small mintmark representing the National Bank of Ukraine Mint.

An illustration of the cosmos with a representation of our solar system featuring the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and Jupiter serves as a backdrop to this coin’s obverse. Orbiting the planet earth is its moon.

The female figure to the left of this coin’s obverse is the mythical goddess of astronomy and astrology, Urania. Urania is one of the nine daughters of Zeus called a Muse. The nine Muses were the goddesses of the various performing and musical arts. Urania is the granddaughter of Uranus and Gaia by Mnemosyne her mother. Uranus (Greek word for heavenly or heaven) is the titan god of the sky from whom Urania probably got her name. Urania also had the power to foretell the future according to the arrangement of the stars. The identifying attributes of Urania are a celestial globe and a wand that she often uses to point at the globe. She appears on this coin holding a globe in her right hand while pointing to another globe with her wand. Today there are a number of astronomical observatories around the world that use the name Urania within their name. Her image also appears on the official seal of the United States Naval Observatory.

Dividing the reverse of this coin into thirds, the top left quadrant features the official logo of “The International Year of Astronomy.” Against a background of charted stars or possibly a planetarium, is an image of an adult holding the hand of a child and pointing towards the stars. Underneath the logo is the legend, “The International Year of Astronomy.” One of the stated goals of the “International Year of Astronomy” was to introduce the next generation of astronomers to astronomy.

The bottom half of the reverse portrays astronomical books, charts, and instruments. Among the astronomical instruments are a number of spyglasses, a compass, an orrery, and an armillary sphere. An orrery is a mechanical model of the solar system. The one depicted on this coin uses a candle in the place of the sun and the orbit of one planet. An armillary sphere is a spherical representation of the sky with the earth at its core. As such, the armillary sphere is useful as a navigational apparatus.

The top right quadrant of the reverse features a bust of Ukrainian astrologer/astronomer Yuri Drohobych (1450-1494). Yuri Drohobych, a genius in his time, was also a philosopher, scientist, writer, and medical doctor. Among Yuri Drohobych’s many accomplishments is his accurate prediction of two lunar eclipses. Incidentally, the timing of this post coincides with the coming lunar eclipse on the evening of April 14/15, 2014.

Finally, I hope you get a chance to view the eclipse this week. While the earth’s shadow blocks the light of the sun, the effect of the earth to bend the sun’s light will make the moon appear blood red. Unfortunately, the weather around where I live probably will not be favorable to viewing the eclipse. I hope that you have the best conditions possible to view the first of four total eclipses of the moon between now and September 28, 2015.
Happy collecting!
View Coin June 2014 United States $20 1889 S PCGS UNC Details Just a month ago, I had no clue I would be featuring a coin from the Saddle Ridge Hoard as the Coin of the Month. Nevertheless, here I sit today as an improbable owner of a coin recovered from the greatest buried treasure find in the history of the United States.

When I first heard the news of the Saddle Ridge Hoard, I found myself spellbound by many of the story’s elements. Adding to my fascination is the incredible odds against anyone uncovering buried treasure of this enormity and value. Then there’s the human-interest side of the story with John and Mary stumbling onto the hoard while walking their dog. Finally, John and Mary seem like people I can identify with, ordinary people simply paying their bills while trying to lead respectable lives.

Subsequently, when I heard that the family chose Kagin’s to distribute the hoard through Amazon, I set up an e-mail notification to inform me of the sale. At that point, there was no indication of what anyone could expect to pay for the coins.

Almost certainly, coins of this magnitude would be out of my reach to obtain. Up until now, the only coins in my collection I had spent over $2000 to acquire were an MS-62 1897-S Double Eagle when the price of gold was close to $2000/oz and a VG-10 1893-S Morgan Dollar. Although I did not know how much of a premium the Saddle Ridge coins would command, I thought they might rival those of the SS Central America and the SS Republic shipwrecks.

While working on my computer late in evening on Tuesday May 27, I received my e-mail notice from Amazon and immediately linked to the sale. Confirming my suspicions, I found the price of the Saddle Ridge coins too steep for my budget. I simply could not afford to pay five or six thousand dollars for a common date MS-62 or 63 double-eagle. It’s not as much that I wouldn’t have paid the price, as it is the price was just too high. The XF and AU coins were more reasonable; however, I did not like the surfaces on many of those coins.

Lately, I have been buying the nicest looking coins in the grades I can afford. In other words, I am beginning to focus more on coins with eye appeal. This leads me to my Coin of the Month and a surprising PCGS UNC Details-Cleaning, 1889-S Double-Eagle with eye appeal.

While perusing the Saddle Ridge Coins, it wasn’t long before I thought about sorting the listing from the lowest priced coin to the highest. It was there at the bottom rungs of the listing where all the un-gradable coins resided. At first glance, two things surprised me. First, the affordability (from the perspective of my budget) of the coins at $2575 per coin, and secondly the large number of details graded coins for sale. (Later I found out that there were just over 200 details graded coins in the hoard).

This got me to thinking, “Maybe I can afford one of these”. With the advantage of joining the sale shortly after it began, I pretty much had my pick of details graded coins.

When I first looked at the picture of the coin I bought, I was impressed with the lack of distracting contact marks on the coin’s surfaces. IMHO, without the cleaning, I think my coin grades at a minimum of MS-64. Next, from the PCGS picture provided the cleaning is barely noticeable with only a few hairlines and a side-swept look in the luster just underneath Miss Liberty’s truncated neck. In addition, there appeared to be the remnants of a thumbprint just in front of and on Miss Liberty’s face. At that, I pulled the trigger and bought the coin.

With my expectations sky high and thinking I pulled off the coin-buying coup of the century, I was disappointed when my coin arrived. Stunned, I came face to face with why my coin is details graded. I found that the cleaning hairlines were much more numerous and the thumbprint more pronounced than indicated in the PCGS picture.

Now what? Two facts are abundantly clear. First, it is this coin or no coin. To become a part of the Saddle Ridge story, I had to buy a details graded coin. Next, this coin is still the best of the details graded coins. Therefore, I am very pleased to be part of such a compelling numismatic story.

Next, I wonder if John and Mary rather than the professionals at Kagin’s conserved this coin. I just cannot imagine a professional leaving a thumbprint on a coin unless the thumbprint is that of the coin’s original owner. Now wouldn’t that be something if it were true?
View Coin July 2014 ANCIENT - ROMAN EMPIRE (1st CENT BC - 5th CENT AD) ROMAN EMPIRE Otacilia Severa,AD 244-49 AR Double-Denarius rv Concordia std. NGC Ch AU Strike: 5/5 Surface: 3/5 The featured coin this month (Volume 3, Number 11) is a NGC choice AU Roman Empire Double Denarius dating AD 244-249. The obverse of my coin features a right facing bust of Otacilia Severa who was the wife of then emperor, Philipp I the Arab. The reverse features a left seated image of Concordia, the goddess of harmony. To the Romans, Concordia represented peace and harmony between classes of people and in particular between the patricians (nobles) and the plebeians (commoners). Later Concordia came to represent harmony within a marital relationship.

In Concordia’s right hand is a patera. A patera is a shallow bowl used in religious ceremonies to pour out sacrificial libations. In her left hand, Concordia is holding a double cornucopia. From this, I can surmise that the double cornucopia signifies the abundant benefits of peace and harmony.

As is the case with many allegorical coins featuring seated images, the seat is symbolic of a kingdom, empire, or nation and the person sitting thereon as having authority over it. Thus, the seat on this coin seems to represent the Roman Empire and Concordia seated thereon as having authority to bring peace and harmony to the empire.

From what I can discern, the coins of the Ancient Roman Empire served two main purposes. One, they were used as a medium of exchange in commerce and two; they were used to disseminate propaganda. For instance, where a coin features the bust of the ruler on the obverse and a personified deity on the reverse, the people see that ruler as a god identifying him with the personified deity on the reverse.

In the instance of this coin, the empress, Otacilia Severa is identifying herself with Concordia. Interestingly, it was during the reign of Otacilia Severa’s husband Philip that the persecution of Christians ceased across the Roman Empire.

The obverse of another of my ancient coins features a right facing bust of Philip I. On the coins reverse is an image of Roma, the personification of Rome holding Nike (the goddess of victory) in her hand. Since Philip I was born in Syria of a Syrian father, I can reasonably deduce that he sought to identify himself with Roma to shore up his political support in Rome.

Another of my collecting objectives is to trace the spread of western culture and philosophy through coins. While today we do not worship the ancient gods and goddesses per se, I find it fascinating that modern coins still feature many of those same ancient personifications. The presence of these images on modern coinage is a strong indication of how ingrained ancient Greek and Roman philosophy is to our psyche today. Examples of these are the idealized values of Liberty, Concordia, Fortuna, Justice, Fame, and Victory. National personifications include Britannia, Hispania, and Roma/Italia. Remarkably, the aforementioned instances are only a small portion of the many more examples to be found in numismatics.

When I searched for a modern coin using an image of Concordia I used the keyword “Concordia” to search through a PDF copy of Krause’s Catalog of World Coins. What I found is a 1970 Italian 1000 lire coin commemorating the 100th anniversary of Rome as its capital. Consequently, I purchased a NGC MS-66 example of that coin to go with my AD 244-249 ancient coin also featuring Concordia.

This all reminds me of the words of Solomon written in the Book of Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Gary
View Coin August 2014 GERMANY - STATES - 2 2T 1846 BAVARIA - CANAL COMPLETED NGC MS 62 The Coin of the Month for August 2014 (Volume 3, Number 12) is an NGC MS-62, 1846 Bavarian 2 Thaler commemorating the completion of Ludwig’s Canal connecting the Main and Danube Rivers.

This coin (KM #822) with an unknown mintage is 38mm in diameter and weighs 37.12 grams. It has a silver fineness of .900 with an ASW of 1.0740 oz. The edge inscription signifies a monetary equivalency of 3 1/2 Guldens (Drey-Einhalb Gulden) and a weight of 1/7 fine silver Cologne Mark (**VII E F M**). The Cologne Mark is a unit of weight equivalent to 233.856 grams or 3600 grains (480 grains/troy ounce). This coins engraver is Carl Friedrich Voight.

The first attempt to build a canal joining the Main and Danube Rivers dates back to 793 AD. The main objective of the canal was to create a navigable waterway between the North and Black Seas. Due to bad weather and unfavorable soil conditions, this work was never completed.

Under Ludwig I, King of Bavaria, construction of a new 172-kilometer canal between Kelheim and Bamberg began in 1836. Ten years later work on the canal was finally complete and Ludwig's Canal opened to commercial traffic in 1846.

With the advent of the railroad, commercial traffic on the canal began to decline. Eventually, having suffered the effects of declining use, neglect, and war damage the canal closed in 1950. Today only 60-kilometers of the waterway remains and much of that has been converted into a scenic bike trail.

For a long time I have wanted to post this coin as the “Coin of the Month”. However, information on this coin is sparse and I have had trouble identifying the images on the coins reverse. At first, I thought the images might be that of Hercules and Bavaria. Then again, other imagery on the coin seems to suggest that they are representative images of the Main and Danube Rivers. Then I figured the female image holding the rudder represents the Main River and the male image holding the paddle the Danube. Subsequently, I found that I was wrong on all counts.

Since information on the coin itself is sparse, I looked for clues to the allegory of this coin by researching the canal itself. Perusing several related photographs using Google images I discovered a picture of a monument using imagery similar to that of my coin. Not coincidentally, this monument located north of Erlangen on Castle Hill was the site of the canal’s dedication on July 15, 1846. Then after a few more Google searches I discovered the key to deciphering my coin’s imagery and my search was over!

The female image on this coin's reverse is Danubia, the personification of the Danube River. The male image is Moenus, the river god of the Main River (Moenus is the Latin word for Main). Danubia and Moenus are shaking hands to signify the joining of the Main and Danube Rivers. Additionally, they are wearing a laurel wreath on their head to symbolize the victorious completion of the canal's construction. With their left hand Danubia is holding a rudder and Moenus a paddle suggesting that the newly completed canal is a navigable waterway.

Danubia and Moenus also appear seated on jars of pouring water. This imagery implies that they are representative figures of their respective rivers. The joining of the poured waters may symbolize the North Sea of the Main River connecting to the Black Sea of the Danube River and becoming one. The obverse of the coin features a right facing bust of King Ludwig I of Bavaria.

PCGS has a total population of only four of these coins, one MS-65, one MS-62, one AU-58, and one AU-50. NGC has a total population of three coins, two MS-62’s and an AU-58. A NumisMaster value of $950 for this coin in MS-63 condition and low populations from both major third-party graders suggest that this coin is rare. Conservatively, my guess is that there are less than one hundred of these coins left today. This leads me to believe that these coins were either handed out and/or sold at the canal’s dedication and not minted for general circulation. This may also be the reason that there is no mintage information for this coin.

In the end, when you research your coins, leave no stone unturned. This may prove a little tedious but let me assure you that you will not regret it! Now until next month, happy collecting!

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