Elizabeth Jones’ gold Lady Liberty design proves popular

Elizabeth Jones’ gold Lady Liberty design proves popular
1986 gold $5 coin sells out in pre-release
This article From the Memory Bank series was first published in the January 25, 2016 issue of Coin World available here.

Gold Lady Liberty

Gold Lady Libety - 1986-W Statue of Liberty Gold $5 Half Eagle

The 1986-W Statue of Liberty gold $5 half eagle holds a record that still stands. The entire mintage of 500,000 sold out in pre-issue. Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

No U.S. commemorative coins would be issued in 1985, but the collector community was teeming with excitement over the prospect of coins to celebrate the approaching centennial of the Statue of Liberty in 1986.

Mint sculptor-engravers secretly began work on Statue of Liberty designs shortly after introduction of the authorizing legislation on Jan. 3, 1985. The legislation sought a gold $5 half eagle, a silver dollar, and a copper-nickel half dollar.

The House acted quickly, approving its version March 5. But the Senate bill was bogged down in political maneuvering. The bill did not gain approval until late June. Continue reading

FUN Show 2016

2016 FUN convention bourse floor (photo compliments of FUN)

FUN Show 2016

I will be attending the Florida United Numismatists show, which is being held Jan. 7-10 at the Tampa Convention Center, 333 S Franklin Street, downtown on the waterfront.

The January FUN show is one of the largest coin shows in the United States and will likely set the direction of the coin market for at least the first three months of 2016.

I will be at Whitman Publishing’s author’s table on the bourse both Friday and Saturday (Jan. 8-9). The second edition of my book, Cash In Your Coins – Selling the Rare Coins You’ve Inherited, will be available for purchase and I will be happy to autograph your copy. Even if you already have a copy of my book, stop by to say hello.

Learn More About Coins and Collecting – Ask Beth

The mother of a website visitor contacted me recently telling me about her son’s interest in coins and coin collecting. Read her email and my response below.

Angela wrote:


My name is Angela. My son Luke recently received a small case of old coins from his grandfather to start a collection. He has always been fascinated by his grandfathers collection and wanted to start one of his own. Ever since then he has been wanting to learn more about coins and collecting so we decided to some searches for any sites that might help. He came across http://www.cashinyourcoins-book.com/coincollectingresources and loved some of the resources you have up and found it to be a big help, thank you so much!

In the searches he also found this page https://squareup.com/townsquare/beginners-guide-to-coin-history/ that he found to be very helpful as well and wanted to share it with you. Would you mind adding a link to it?

I think it would fit great on your page and I’m sure the Luke would be more than excited to see he helped contribute to your site with his findings. Please let me know if you decide to add it :)

Thanks so much again!

Here is my response to Angela:

Thanks for contacting us.

You mentioned that your son, Luke, has recently received a small case of old coins from his grandfather to start a collection. Is his grandfather or someone available to help him identify the coins he received? Continue reading

U.S. Treasurer visit excites Coin World staff

U.S. Treasurer visit excites Coin World staff
This article From the Memory Bank series was first published in the December 21, 2015 issue of Coin World available here.
Treasurer Katherine Davalos Ortega, left, autographs a $20 note - Cash In Your Coins

Treasurer Katherine Davalos Ortega, left, autographs a $20 note as her press secretary, Suzanne Howard, and Beth Deisher, right, watch.

Treasurer of the United States Katherine “Kay” Davalos Ortega stopped by Coin World’s offices in Sidney, Ohio, for a visit shortly after I became editor in 1985.

Of course, we were excited that she would include us on her Ohio itinerary. The announced purpose of her travel to the Buckeye State was to speak at several U.S. Savings Bonds events in west-central Ohio.

Our editorial staff was well acquainted with the 38th treasurer. She was soft-spoken and reserved, quite a contrast to the flamboyant and outspoken Angela “Bay” Buchanan, whom she followed in office when she took the oath on Sept. 23, 1983.

Others on our staff and I had interviewed her a number of times for stories and events we had covered. As treasurer she had direct oversight of the U.S. Mint, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the U.S. Savings Bond Division. It was clear that she did not view her role as ceremonial, as had been the case for modern treasurers before the Reagan administration.

For example, when sales of Los Angles Olympic coins waned, she formed a Treasury task force and brought in an outside marketing consultant to jump-start the sales effort. (To the chagrin of Rep. Frank Annunzio, she followed the marketing consultant’s advice, and approved the production of Olympic gold $10 coins at the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints in order to add to the product offerings and increase the sales.)

When members of our staff, especially those who did not travel to hobby events, learned about her visit, they asked if she would be signing FRNs. Upon arrival I inquired and she graciously said she would, so we set aside some time during her visit for the activity.

As I was watching her signing, it dawned on me that I had never obtained an autographed note. I checked my wallet and found that only two of the FRNs were Series 1981A (Regan/Ortega) — a $5 note and a $20 note. She signed both. The next day I placed the $20 note in a small glass display case near the entrance of my office.

During the next decade a number of numismatic mementos were added.

In 1996 we removed all of the items in the display case in preparation for the renovation of our entire building. Much to my horror, light exposure (even though indirect) had obliterated Treasurer Ortega’s real signature!

Is This Real? – Ask Beth

Ask Beth

A Facebook visitor contacted me this week with photos of what he thought might be a United States 1804 Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle silver dollar and asked the following question:

Fake U.S. 1804 DollarDG asks: Is this real?



Here is my response to DG:

Although the images you supplied are not very clear, it is evident this piece is not real. It purports to be a United States 1804 Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle silver dollar.

Only 15 specimens of this classic rarity are known to exist. While not the rarest of U.S. coins, the 1804 silver dollar is one of the most publicized. Genuine 1804 silver dollars appear at public auction every few years and each of the 15 known genuine coins have solidly traceable pedigrees. The finest known, which sold at public auction for $4.14 million in 1999, ranks as No. 4 among the top 250 U.S. coins sold at auction.

Due to the value of genuine specimens, the 1804 dollar is widely counterfeited. Many of the fakes do not contain the correct amount of silver. Those containing the correct amount of silver sell primarily for silver bullion value.

If you have any doubts and believe your coin may be genuine, you should submit it to a U.S. professional grading service, such as the Professional Coin Grading Service or Numismatic Guaranty Corp.



Wine Sipping and Fort Knox Caper
The Case of the Golden Stockings. This article From the Memory Bank series was first published in the November 23, 2015 issue of Coin World available here
Fort Knox 1974 Mary Books - Photo courtesty of Coin World

Margo Russell snapped this photo of Mint Director Mary Brooks in the gold vault at the Fort Knox Bullion Depository in 1974. (Coin World photo.)

While most attending the 1982 Central States Numismatic Society convention on opening day in Iowa City, Iowa, were busy buying and selling coins, former Mint Director Mary Brooks and I joined a small group of adventurers on a tour of the nearby Amana Colonies.

The most memorable moments of the tour for me came when we ventured into Iowa’s oldest winery, the Ackerman Winery in the heart of Amana.

The former Mint director was fascinated by the winery’s fruit wines and was determined to taste every one of dozen or so before us!   We sampled the pure cranberry (as well as cranberries blended with various other fruits such as plums, apples and grapes), blackberry, cherry, dandelion, elderberry, mango, peach, plum, pomegranate, red raspberry, strawberry, and rhubarb. Continue reading