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June 30, 2020

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

June, 2020

1951 Proof Jefferson Nickel Doubled Die Obverse FS-101

NGC PF67* Rare Cameo Obverse!

Our selection for Coin of the Month was an easy one in June. Not only does this 1951 Proof Jefferson nickel come in a rare grade, but the variety itself is an exceptional example of a Proof Doubled Die.

Most Doubled Dies in the Proof Jefferson nickel series seem to be minor DDRs, so a DDO variety piques my interest off the bat. But this one is truly special. Rather than a few split serifs or some extra thickness on select letters, this Doubled Die has strong spread on Jefferson’s profile; something not seen on this series; in addition to moderate to wide doubling on the lettering. Some of the doubling on the lettering was polished off during the die finishing process, but enough remains to make the point that this is a strong DDO.

This variety is fairly common; actually, the Mint used a limited number of dies during this period, and so it can be supposed that a fair number of 1951 nickels came from this die pair. What is interesting is the early die state, which shows a voluptuous, full Cameo obverse, and partial Cameo on the reverse, all set against perfect black mirrors. Fresh Proof dies like this will show a minimum of star bursting in their fields. Only a handful of coins have been certified with either a Cameo Obverse (NGC STAR) or a full Cameo designation.

NGC PF67 STAR: 4 , none finer

NGC PF67 CAM: 9, 3 finer

PCGS PF67 CAM: 1, none finer

PCGS PF67 DCAM: 1, none finer

Things like this can be snagged cheaply in today’s laze fare online auctions environment, where most auction houses don’t bother to focus their cameras, let alone write descriptions or provide close-ups of diagnostics. This trend causes the great varieties to get lost in the alphabet soup of mediocre varieties, which seem to exist in large quantities, pervading catalogs left and right. This leads to depressed selling prices for varieties across the board. A collector looking at a high-end auction house listing with no description would naturally think that “the 1951 DDO FS-101 must not be anything special, since the auction house isn’t even going to show me the doubling.” The reality is that their focus is completely on turnover and quantity, that they don’t care what it is they are selling, and that, if you know your stuff, you can find quality on your own.

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

May 31, 2020

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

May, 2020

1948-S Prooflike Obverse Lincoln Wheat Cent

Rare Bronze PL Issue!

It's been a few years since we've revisited the subject of the extremely scarce Prooflike bronze cents, so this month's rare find is a nice opportunity to update the record. This 1948-S Wheat cent was struck with a fully Prooflike obverse die! In 2015, we handled the first Prooflike bronze cent ever certified (scroll back to the Coin fo the Month we wrote on it). It was an amazing thing at the time, as there had been zero found, across all dates and types, until we came across a remarkable 1970-S that resembled a Proof. It also happened to be an important RPM die variety! Since that time, a handful more examples from various dates have been found and certified.

What is particularly interesting about this months featured coin, which makes it differ greatly from the 1970-S, is that it is from the 1934-1955 era, where the S and D mint Prooflikes were imparted with a granite-like texture, seen at some angles. We have done several articles on that subject, which would also be worth reviewing. The 1970-S has deep, smooth mirrors and closely resembles a modern Proof. The 1948-S obverse die is fully mirrored, but at a certain angle, shows heavy die lines and frosty striations running perpendicular to the lines.

In the five years since our 1970-S/S was graded, NGC has also identified a Prooflike 1888, a 1903, a 1908-S, a 1941-S, a 1968, a 1969-s, and 3 more 1970-S (two of which are the RPM). We have also seen some near misses, like this 1948-S with Prooflike obverse, a 1950-S that could have gone either way, and a 1955-S from a PL reverse die!

Prooflikes are becoming extremely popular, and expensive; and there are likely more of these to be found. The moral of the story is that there are opportunities out there, if you arm yourself with a little knowledge. No one had seen a PL bronze cent prior to 2015, but the newest coins were 45 years old at the time.

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

April 30, 2020

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

April, 2020

1829 British Historical Medal, BHM-1340

Francis Henry Egerton, 8th Earl of Bridgewater, NGC MS65BN!

This exquisitely preserved piece was an easy choice for our April Coin of the Month. The typical example of this issue is plagued by corrosion or damage. The bust is very high relief; which lends to friction, scuffs, and weak strike; and the fields are plain and very susceptible to contact marks and hairlines. These pieces are quite heavy at 42mm and so thick it requires a double-thick NGC holder. One drop would result in considerable rim bruising. And yet, this piece is nearly pristine, on the verge of Prooflike, and has a razor sharply strike. The preservation is simply magnificent for an issue from 1829.

I know exactly what you’re thinking: “What the heck is this? I don’t know, or care, about British medals; and this seems kind of a random one, at that. No famous battles, no ornate engraving, and who is this Egerton guy?” Personally, I know a thing or two about British medals, and I felt the same way at first. You see these on eBay all the time in awful condition, and for less than $50. They look terrible and there is usually no description as to what they are. Besides, this type of stuff is what many U.S coin collectors in the past would call “Dark Side” material, largely due to the plethora of different World Coins to collect, and the lack of information available on them.

However, opinions on World Coins have been evolving in recent years; many classic U.S coins are just too expensive, and in the modern age, we have the luxury of the internet to get information. After coming across this extraordinary piece, I did a quick search on Egerton, and my opinion changed quickly.

A search will reveal several colorful web descriptions of Francis Henry Egerton, who was something of an eccentric, to say the least. A recent article from the UK, in the Hertfordshire Life, celebrated his 260th birthday. Viewing his portrait in the UK article and seeing how it compares to the portrait on the medal really makes the person holding this piece feel a connection. Egerton was a wealthy Englishman who hated France but decided, one day, that he wanted to live in Paris. He lived luxuriously in extravagance. His many dogs had servants, and Egerton demanded his dogs sit at the dinner table with him, wearing clothes, and to obey strict etiquette or face punishments. If he borrowed a book from someone, he returned it by horse and carriage with an escort. He once stood up to Napoleon’s regime, during the height of the Napoleonic Wars, and won. They were reorganizing the streets of Paris and his house happened to be in the way. He armed his servants and refused to leave. Egerton wore a new pair of shoes every day and saved them in order of use, and he could tell you what the weather was like on any given day by the mud on each pair. Despite his eccentricities and his “often surreal existence,” as the Hertfordshire Life described it, Egerton was highly educated and wrote over a dozen scientific books.

Upon his death on February 11, 1829, the Earldom of Bridgewater was dissolved. His will donated his papers and many original texts to the British Museum and other institutions. Also, these heavy bronze medals were struck to commemorate him. This gleaming, Mint State gem is the finest example known to survive. It could have been saved by a close friend or relative after his funeral, back in England. But it was bought for a song.


Hertfordshire Life, “The Irrepressible Francis Henry Egerton, 8th Earl of Bridgewater.” April 10, 2020. https://www.hertfordshirelife.co.uk/people/the-irrepressible-francis-henry-egerton-8th-earl-of-bridgewater-1-4772007

Wikipedia, Francis Henry Egerton. April 10, 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Egerton,_8th_Earl_of_Bridgewater

Happy Collecting!



March 31, 2020

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

March, 2020

Discovery Piece 1907/1907 Re-punched Date Quarter Eagle

PCGS MS63 CAC ~ Green Gold!

Our Coin of the Month is quite an interesting little gold piece! Fresh from an old collection, it has never been cleaned in any way (not even some hand sanitizer :) and has that “green gold” hue that is so hard to find anymore. It is also a true Mint State piece, not a glorified, dipped out AU58, like so many of the gold anythings in 63 and 64 are today.

All of that is great, but also not why it was selected for Coin of the Month. That happened because it has a cool, fully re-punched date, 1907/1907. The 1 is widely re-engraved south of the first impression. While the next two digits show lesser recutting, the 7 shows two distinct serifs sandwiched together. There are several “RPDs” known for the 1907 Quarter Eagle, but this is not one of them! We submitted it to PCGS to get a generic RPD on the holder, as PCGS will recognizes unknown varieties using their "Minor Variety" label. NGC has taken the initiative to list the various dies for 1907 in their variety catalog, but they too are missing this one. There are none shown in the Cherrypicker’s Guide for 1907, either.

Ironically, the grade came back a touch on the conservative side. We probably would have done better at NGC, and could have gotten them to properly recognize this as a new variety in the process. I’m sure the graders weren’t used to seeing original,green gold. Oh well; we settled for a CAC sticker and a Coin of the Month feature to get this new variety on the record.

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

March 27, 2020

The Governor of Pennsylvania has placed our county under a shelter-in-place order, effective today. While we work remotely, there will be delays in shipping out some of our new orders. That said, we are still available for coin questions, and the best way to reserve a coin is to go ahead and place the order. We will update each buyer with shipping availability. Thank you for your patience during these unprecedented times! Stay in and stay safe!


DM Rare Coins

March 20, 2020

The following is an extract from our March, 2020 Email Newsletter, sent Tuesday March 17th. The only amendments I can add to it are as follows:

  • PCGS has now closed, re-opened, and closed again since Tuesday.
  • NGC has stated they will remain open through the pandemic, as they did at their China offices.
  • PA businesses are in full lockdown at this time. We work remotely, so our operations are are not directly affected. However, there WILL be delays in shipping new orders, as great restrictions have been placed on banking access, and also, we want to contribute to efforts to reduce spread by staying in place and practicing social distancing.

Tuesday, March 17th

I will start the March newsletter by saying that this was not the market report I sat down to right on Monday morning. There are advantages to being an online seller during uncertain times like the present, such as adaptability. The Baltimore show has been canceled due to the current Coronavirus pandemic, and other shows are following suit. In Pennsylvania, the Governor has declared a State of Emergency and has asked all non-essential brick and mortars to shutter for the next 15 days, going along with the federal guidelines announced Monday afternoon. Many companies, if not closing down, are electing to work from home instead of gathering their employees together at the workplace. On the other hand, some online-only sellers, like us, are not seeing much of a change in our daily activities. We just aren't making any unnecessary trips out right now. (That said, it remains unclear what delays we may experience when shipping orders, going forward, should facilities be shut down in the area around us. This is a real possibility; in fact, we expect this to occur at some point soon. If that becomes an issue, we will post a notice on our website.)

For the coin market, in general: of course there are going to be temporary hits, due to cancellations and temporary layoffs taking place right now, across the economy. We are also hearing from collectors who have made the mistake of checking their 401Ks this week. However, in the long term and after the pandemic has subsided, many things should be bouncing back, and there will still be collectors waiting to fill the next hole in their collection.

The ultimate result of the current climate is that the collectors who were hoping to make purchases at the shows will, or have already, turned to online sources instead. Overall, the recent pandemic should only bolster the trend toward online coin transactions, which has been building over the past 15 years. Therefore, the current show closures should not be overly detrimental to the coin market, in and of themselves. Now, if the larger dealers could just get their pictures right, things would move even more in the online direction!

For dealers, who have coins siting in the vaults of PCGS and NGC waiting to be graded, it is a relief that the expert graders will actually be in-house in the coming weeks, instead of at the shows. That is still true if they are forced to close down temporarily (a very real concern at this point). It is always better to have the A-team there when your coins are going through the grading room. One drawback of show closures, from a dealer's perspective, is that coin shows are great sources for new material. Some dealers may start to lack in selection if they are not utilizing the internet fully.

Finally, I for one am leery of mailing non-essential, large shipments right now, so we have a lot of nice coins that have not been sent to CAC. I'm glad we got our NGC/PCGS submissions out when we did! When things clear up, we may have a hefty CAC submission to do, as I imagine other dealers will, as well.

Prior to this pandemic, the market had been moving along at a slow and steady pace, possibly with a slight uptick. I was actually outbid on many of the items I was after in major auctions over the last month. Or, I was met with spirited bidding and had to pay much more than expected to get some of the coins that I did win.

It remains to be seen how the pandemic is going to affect the market in the short-term. I'm sure it is going to be touch and go at times over the next 8 eight weeks or so. One caveat is that there is a general run on silver bullion right now, with silver down below $13. Generic silver eagles are trading at a $10 premium over melt, instead of the usual $3-$5 premium. I am staying away from those right now. Unless you can find silver at or near melt, which is hard to do, it is not a good buy right now in this panic-driven market.

The most important things for our customers to do right now are to stay in, stay safe, prepare for the worst, but hope for the best. Our thoughts are with all of you through this uncertain time!

February 29, 2020

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

February 2020

1766 William Pitt Stamp Act Repeal Medal

Rare 1863 New York City Counterfeit

Previously Unknown in Bronze! Choice Mint State

Our recent article, posted in December, 2019, requires an exciting update! As if by fate, one of the missing links discussed in the article turned up for sale online, just a month after we posted the article. Nowhere in modern auction records have we been able to document one of these, until now, and I have been closely following these for over a decade. Maybe we drew it out of hiding just by finally talking about it. My layman’s explanation of the “observer effect” of Quantum Theory says that outcomes can be changed simply because of our focus on them. Weird stuff!

The new discovery is an example of our Die Pair 4 in bronze, something that only had the hypothetical potential to exist, and thus, as a real life medal, is altogether new to our census. It is assumed to be extremely rare, and will receive an R8 rating when we update the article. Its newfound existence seems to satisfy a mystifying quote in Betts. He infamously references two variations of his Number 515 in bronze. Until now, we had only been able to document one.

Remarkably, the condition of the newly discovered piece is so nice that it is quite possibly the finest known example of Die Pair 4, in any metallic composition. It even has mint red remaining in places. The apparent trial strike in silver, shown in our article and compliments of Heritage, grades about XF45. The only other known pieces were miss-strikes; one being a flip-over double strike in a porous, white metal; and the other having been over-struck on a worn, British Charles II crown. All three of these previously known examples seem to be traceable to the Edward Groh account published in 1901, and all three were issued under special circumstances.

This new bronze piece seems to be the only normal example of Die Pair 4. Clearly, it is one of the pieces Groh speculated must surely have been made after his encounter in that clandestine, NYC shop in 1863. Its choice Mint State detail reveals new and important information about its manufacture, too. For instance, it was struck on a cast planchet, and some of the hair details were hand re-engraved into the crude copy die they manufactured to make the counterfeits. It is a remarkable find, and its pictures are shortly going to replace the current plate coin in our attribution guide.

For those not familiar with the varieties outlined in our article, Die Pair 4 is a proven 1863 New York City counterfeit of the original British medal that was struck in 1766, London. Please feel free to read all about it, and watch for the update to take affect this month!

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

January 31, 2020

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

January 2020

1964 NGC Proof-67 Washington Quarter (Big Deal, right?)

Outrageous Monster Florescent Toning! (That's Better :)

This is a crazy coin on many levels. Who would have thought a 1964 Proof would make our Coin of the Month list? But, when you are dealing with florescent monster concentric toning, and perfect surfaces, it very quickly becomes something truly special.

The Proof sets of the early 1960s will occasionally develop beautiful, outrageous color. However, it most often affects the nickels and cents. However, when silver is left alone in the Mint packaging long enough, it can also develop special hues. The fact is that most silver coins, due to their intrinsic value, were prematurely removed from their mint-issued cellophane and cardboard packaging, while the base metal nickels and cents were left behind and allowed to react. It is likely this particular quarter stayed in that mint packaging, not only because of the toning but also because the delicate, mirrored surfaces are essentially pristine. It was probably laying flat and faced up, for many years, preventing oxidation of the central reverse. As a result, the reverse rims took the brunt of the oxidation and toned deep brown, with tiny traces of iridescence still showing under a glass. Luckily, the obverse presented a larger canvas, and the oxidation did a marvelous job.

The holder is older; from the early 2000s; and it's a little banged up, making for some mediocre images on our part, at least until we can get it in a new slab. It's debatable that such a piece would be given a Star today, and so, maybe we will have it regraded too. Either way, we look forward to showing it off properly some day. Normally, I will tell you to go out and find one of our featured items for yourself; these are educational articles; butthis one is not going to be easy to replace.

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

Posted 12/29/19

new article!

Our new, feature-length research article identifies four separate varieties of the 1766 William Pitt Stamp Act Repeal medal. The variations of this medal have not been properly cataloged, and confusion and misrepresentation have been the result. Don't get duped; read the article and see the attribution guide!

December 31, 2019

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

December 2019

1886-O Morgan Dollar Choice Original Poor-1 Lowball Grade

Registry sets tend to favor the richest collectors, who can afford to spend millions to get the best coins. That was the bottleneck that originally created the concept of Lowball Registry sets, where everyday collectors could compete for the lowest grading coins.

Morgan dollar collectors have especially taken to this concept, as most dates can be found, with some searching, in very low grades. Morgan dollars can even sometimes be found in Poor-1. As a general rule of thumb, a Poor-1 will be worn up into the design to the point where the date and mint mark are just barely discernible.

The wrinkle is getting the coin to certify as problem free. Most low-grade coins have damage, simply because they circulated for so long. Additionally, if wear has obliterated the date, the coin cannot be certified at all.

The piece that crossed my desk this month was a phenomenal example of a lowball Morgan. The wear is extreme, but the top of the date "1886" is there, and enough of the Mint mark "O" is clear. It should have no problem certifying at PCGS. In addition to extreme wear, it has rich, dark mauve gold and brown patina, probably from storage in a paper envelope. The crusty original surfaces are not that unlike the Seated quarter we featured last month, in fact.

While the point of lowball sets is that anyone can afford to participate, the demand for such coins has really skyrocketed prices. A Poor-1 Morgan can sell for a few hundred dollars in some cases. Fair-2 coins can realize a decent premium for scarce dates, whereas the same coin in G-4, or even AG-3, may be worth just a few dollars over melt.

Happy Collecting!



November 30, 2019

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

November 2019

1876 / 1876 Misplaced Date Seated Quarter Rarity!  FS-305

We have always found the varieties of the 1876 quarter to be fascinating; they are from a special year in Numismatics, and the multiple Misplaced Dates of that year are quite intriguing, as well. And, having contributed some of them to the latest Seated Liberty variety books and the CPG, we are always excited to offer one of them on the market. The Cherrypicker's Guide has now listed five varieties of the 1876. Our featured Coin of the Month for November is a gorgeously original Misplaced Date FS-305 that PCGS has graded VF35.

Remnants of all four digits can be seen below the primary date, hidden within the dentils. VF35 might not seem all that hot, but this grade gives it enough rim detail that the variety diagnostics are unaffected by the moderate wear. Lower grades will begin to loose the dentils, and the digits hidden within them, and this may account for the pronounced rarity of most of these varieties today. For instance, PCGS has only certified five examples of FS-305, in any grade. VF35 is not bad at all, in that case.

The quality of the present piece is absolutely exceptional for the issue. Seated coinage tends to be extremely unattractive due to cleaning, spotting, and especially dipping and re-toning. Conversely, this quarter seems 100% original with deep, crusty, brown gold patina over both sides. This is how I wish every Seated coin looked. I also wish I could find a (any) Seated dollar like this....forget about it!

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

October 31, 2019

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

October 2019

1961 Franklin Half Dollar

High-grade"Bugs Bunny" & Mint Error; Obverse Struck Thru!


Our Coin of the Month spot for October goes out to a very special Franklin half dollar, one that was apparently overlooked for many years by previous owners. At a recent show, I was examining a group of Franklin halves that had been put into stapled cardboard 2x2s by a collector who cherry-picked them out of original rolls, many years ago. The dealer had left them in the flips and priced them all based on general eye appeal, with only a rough estimation of their condition, "BU," or Brilliant Uncirculated. It was clear that this group had never been cherry-picked by the modern variety crowd; I saw, and passed over, a number of "Bugs Bunny" halves, mostly in lower MS grades. The $40s in grading fees does not justify the $50-$100 price tag for many of the common ones in today's market.

A 1961-P in MS64FBL with the Bugs Bunny clash is another story. FBLs are extremely scarce for this date, and the "Bugs Bunny" clash is also scarce. It is an intricate and delicate mouth clash that is very appealing in person, but very hard to photograph. The clash lines could not have lasted all that long on the die before star bursting die fatigue erased them completely. To make a long story short, 1961 FS-401 is very rare in MS64FBL. Going through this group of raw coins, I noticed this potential 1961 FS-401 right away, though it had spots and, through the dusty plastic, seemed to have damage or dirt on the obverse. I sat it aside until I was done. Going back through what I had set aside, I started dusting off the plastic window with my thumb, and realized there was another story behind this coin.

The anomaly in the right field was not damage or toning, but a rather huge strike-through Mint Error dent! This major Mint Error was most likely caused by a large chunk of hardened grease that fell onto the anvil obverse die and got stamped into the coin. Sometimes, a foreign object will actually stay on the die and strike multiple coins, leaving a similar impression on each, before falling off or even getting stuck on one of the coins and ejecting into the hopper. Every so often, you will see a coin with the struck-in debris still hanging on!

The dealer did not like this coin and did not appreciate the Mint Error, which I pointed out to him. He still thought it was an ugly, damaged, low-grade roll coin, and he wanted just $17.00 from me to take it off his hands. Not knowing its exact condition, I took a chance on it because of the strike-thru. I did not realize the extent of my spoils until I examined it under a grading light the next day. Out of the holder, this piece was an obvious score. It possesses a razor blade, FBL strike; the luster is fresh and bright; and only one small toning spot was actually on the coin. Most other haze and spots were on the old flip!

As a normal 1961-P Franklin, it was probably an $80 coin in MS64FBL, if certified. As a Mint Error piece, in MS64FBL, it was probably a $200-$300 coin. A 1961-P in MS64FBL with the "Bugs Bunny" FS-401 designation is a $600-$1000 coin, all depending on eye appeal, quality, and clash strength. The amazing bell lines certainly put this one into the high end of that range. Now, add together a "Bugs Bunny" designation on top of a Mint Error, and the coin goes into home run territory, easily earning our Coin of the Month spot for October. It is literally a unique piece.

The moral of this story is four-fold. A: You get really lucky once in a while. B: A little knowledge goes a long way. C: You can do this too. D: Take your coins out of the holder to examine them!

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

September 30, 2019

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

September 2019

1987 Silver American Eagle:

Beautiful Toning & Mint Error!

Our September Coin of the Month spot goes to a very interesting Silver Eagle we recently acquired. The ample amounts or iridescent toning and clean surfaces make for a gorgeous piece, but there is something else going on with this one. This magnificent looking, superb-gem coin is crowned by a cool Mint Error! A piece of thread found itself stuck between the planchet and the dies at the moment of striking, back in 1987. The long hair-like depression prominently runs across the reverse shield and turns left across the scroll.

But it’s the darnedest thing, PCGS did not label the Mint Error. This is a good time to explain how the grading process works. We do get questions, and sometimes complaints, from people who don’t see something written on the label, that we said was present on the coin.

This goes for die varieties and Mint Errors; if you submit a coin for grading and don’t pay the special fee for variety attribution or Mint Error service, your coin does not get reviewed for a variety or Mint Error, period. And further, many coins, particularly those in the 100-$300 range, are not worth the expense, or the hassle, of sending back to the grading service.

In this case, adding the words “Mint Error” to the label would require a $65 Mint Error grading fee; plus a $10 invoice fee; plus shipping both ways; and a 35-day grading time, not including the time it takes to get there and back. We simply are not going to send this back in, and there are other such examples from time to time. Usually, we will simply charge less money for the coin, and everybody wins! This is coin dealer Economics 101. 

But as I was saying, Mint Errors do happen on Silver Eagles coins, on rare occasion. This piece combines a prominent Error with beautiful toning and a high grade. It has everything going for it, and it was an easy pick for September’s featured coin. It is also something you could find out there unattributed. Good luck getting color and a Mint Error together again.

(In an unusual twist on our educational blog, this piece actually remains available in our inventory, as of 9/30).

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

August 31, 2019

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

August 2019

A 1739 Admiral Vernon Porto Bello Taken Brass Medal,

of Particular Note, Crosses Our Desk!

We have written various posts in the past about interesting Admiral Vernon medals we have come across in our studies and travels. Whenever we get one in stock, the first thing we do is look it up un the industry standard, Adams reference, both to identify the variety and to see how it compares to the Adams’s specimen.

For those not familiar with John W. Adam’s 2011 work, Medallic Portraits of Admiral Vernon: Medals Sometimes Lie, each catalog number is accompanied by a photograph and a reference to where the piece resided at the time the book was being put together. Almost all of the medals not in the possession of the British museum are listed as being in the private collection of John W. Adams. The medals in Adams’ collection tend to be just about the finest pieces known for their respective die varieties.

Thus, when we hold our pieces up to those in the book, it is always fun to compare the quality and to seeing just how our medal stacks up compared to the always impeccable Adams piece. Well, recently, we acquired an Admiral Vernon medal graded NGC MS63, a lofty grade for this series. Since they started keeping track around 2014, NGC has graded only 7 Vernon medals, of any type, in this grade or finer.

This magnificent piece is the finest certified example of Adam PBvi-6-G; that is, Porto Bello theme, Vernon portrait with icons in field, obverse 6, reverse G. Of the many, and I do mean many, PBvi varieties, this die is easy to attribute, being the only one to show an anchor and ship next to Vernon, rather than the typical cannon and ship, as seen on the many other dies. The noticeably high, wire rim is particularly fragile on this die pair, and it is amazing how nice it remains on this piece. The rims on these are typically banged up, with sections folded down or even broken away. Satiny luster catches the designs and lives in every nook and cranny of this nearly 300 year old, British American history relic.

Knowing the variety, I did not look up the attribution until after the piece came in. As I finally sat down with the medal and the book, I knew, in the back of my mind, that I was about to give the Adam’s piece a run for its money. I opened the book to the page and began reading it over. I always start by reading the blurb underneath, to see if there are any peculiarities to look for. (Hey, this obverse was reused again in 1741 with a Carthagena reverse design.)

Then, as I started to examine the picture closely, I started to see similarities. Similarities turned out to be exact, uncanny features of the toning and patina. My medal did not just compare, I was clearly holding the Adam’s specimen in my hands! What a surprise this was! There had been no way to know; it was not pedigreed on the holder or anywhere else. (Did Adam’s sell his Vernon Medals? Who knows!) After the excitement wore off, I realized I still did not top an Adams medal. A tie is not a victory. I just can’t win; or maybe I should say, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em?

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

July 31, 2019

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

July 2019

1892 Italian American Columbian Exposition Medal

Eglit-427, Newly Discovered Composition: Silver-plated Copper!

The wave of public enthusiasm created by the Columbian Exposition of 1892-1893, marking the 400th anniversary of the Columbus Expedition, has left lasting marks on virtually every aspect of the collectables community. Cigar boxes, pocket watches, clothing, shoes, pocket knives, and other trinkets can all be found with Columbian Exposition branding. In the numismatic department, hundreds of different medals are known to have been struck for the occasion, many of which were presented at the fair by various institutions. Some are covered under Hiblar and Kappen’s So-Called Dollars book, but that only deals with silver dollar-sized pieces. In fact, many different sizes and types were made, and a dedicated reference on Columbian medals is necessary to address all types. This demand was satisfied by Nathan Eglit’s work, Columbiana; The Medallic History of Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Exposition of 1893. Columbian medals not found in HK will be found in Eglit.

What many do not realize is that this wave of excitement also crossed the Atlantic; Italy celebrated the Columbian anniversary as well, and several medals were issued for the occasion, with Italian inscriptions for the Genoa Exposition. Artist Wilhelm Mayer engraved the most notable pieces, featuring similar themes to some of the American medals, which he also designed. Just smaller than a silver dollar, and not featured by Hibler and Kappen, perhaps the most well-proportioned and intricate of his medals is cataloged by Eglit as number 427.  This high-relief Columbus bust is frosted and jumps out from richly mirrored, Prooflike fields, struck in dazzling, seemingly weightless Aluminum. On the reverse, the Italian arms of Genova hang over the rising sun, its frosted rays settling first upon the three ships sailing west, and then the statuary colonnade and the exposition building, about which many visitors can be seen strolling around. All of this is illuminated by gleaming, Prooflike fields. A very interesting and scarce piece, similar in style, and from the same artist, as the larger and more common American version, Eglit-55.

However, our July Coin of the Month spot goes not to a normal the Eglit-427, which was known to be struck in Aluminum, but to a rare variation, struck in silver-plated copper, and certified as such by PCGS. Silver is very similar in color to Aluminum, but the first give-away that something is different is that this one is substantially heavier than an a seemingly weightless Aluminum piece. Moreover, it is toned; the silver has developed some attractive, colorful patina that is simply not found on Aluminum. Also, the somewhat mottled surfaces are typical of a silvered copper composition. Eglit makes no mention of the existence of any composition, other than Aluminum, for this issue, and the featured piece is presently a unique discovery.

This delightful PCGS MS64 (graded before PCGS began using the Prooflike designation) is one heck of a find. If you are lucky enough to find any Eglit-427, ask yourself, is it weightless like Aluminum, or is it heavy?

click to enlarge

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

June 30, 2019

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

June 2019

First DMPL Washington Quarters Ever Certified!

1998-D NGC MS65DPL

We continue the quest for surprises and oddities. The most recent on these is the discovery of a DMPL Washington quarter! Out of the entire run, from 1932 to 1998, there were no DMPL quarters known, until this month!

We have handled a number of “PL” 1998-D quarters; this final year of issue seems to have been given some special treatment by the Denver mint. As an aside, Philadelphia 1998 quarters are generally dull and repulsive, even in high grades. Actually, all the Denver denominations of 1998 are known in PL, and a few denominations have surfaced in DMPL, like our discovery 1998-D DPL Kennedy half dollar. Therefore, Denver was not giving the quarter any special treatment.

That said, we have not seen a level of reflectivity that would qualify a 1998-D quarter for the DPL designation until now. Where 1998-D PL coins are richly mirrored and fully reflective over medium to dark surfaces, the DPL piece beams like a headlight because the mirrors are so deep and fluttery, and the fields are jet black when looking head on. As we have said before about DPL coins, the surfaces look wet; it is as if there is an added dimension, a layer of water, sitting on the coin, held in place only by the surface tension.

This delicate luster of the DPL finish is distinctively different than a “PL” coin. It can only be the result one of the earliest strikes from a heavily polished die. Not all dies are even given this degree of shine when they were polished, so we are talking about the first strikes off an unusual die. Then, as that die continues to strike coins, tiny striations, called star-bursting, begin to develop in a radial pattern around the fields, and this quickly erodes the mirrors into frost.

The beginnings of star-bursting. Click to enlarge.

As an example: on our discovery coin, the obverse mirrors are absolutely fresh and amazingly deep. However, the mirrors on the reverse are beginning to show just a trace of some striations, though not enough to affect the depth of reflection. The reverse still has that alive appearance, but you have to look just a little harder to see it, especially inside a slab. It is normal for the reverse die of a Washington quarter to wear faster than the obverse die, as there is so little field space, and the slightest erosion can quickly change the entire field. Many “PL” 1998-D quarters have developed too many striations, and the mirrors have diminished too much, to make DPL. This is also why so many Washington quarters get a Star and not a PL, the reverse often falls short of PL due to faster erosion.

It is feast of famine; two DPL 1998-D quarters are now on the books! Another coin appeared on the NGC population report the same day that ours was released! There could be a few more out there, so make sure you examine your 1998-D quarters closely. Remember, if you think you have a candidate for DPL, but you have to ask, then it is not DPL. You will know it when you see it. Sadly you cannot capture the look in a still photograph.

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

May 31, 2019

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

May 2019

1864 McClellan Sour Grapes Campaign Medal

Exceptional Eye Appeal and Mint Error!

I remember watching the Ken Burns Civil War films on the History Channel, as a kid, in the early 1990s. One point I remember, that was found throughout much of the 9 part saga, is the idea that Major General McClellan was a major reason for the war dragging on so long. Whenever McClellan would have the upper hand, he would not press the enemy, instead he would stop; hemming, hauing, and waiting for Lincoln to send more troops. He made very few intentional advances, and began to garner a reputation for his methodically slow and overly cautious demeanor. Some thought him too cautious, others insisted he was vying for the White House in 1864, and wanted to keep both North and South happy with him.

Lincoln wanted rid of McClellan but had no one else. He replaced him briefly but had to bring him right back. Having second thoughts, he finally fired McClellan for good in late 1862, and there was no love lost. Today we know, from letters he sent to friends, that McClellan had been referring to Lincoln as a “baboon” from the start, and never intended to help Lincoln’s cause. And sure enough, he ran as a Democrat in the 1864 election so he could oppose Lincoln directly.

Recently, the entire Ken Burns Civil War documentary came out on Netflix, and it has been a fun time watching the old shows I saw as a kid, back when the History Channel aired historical materials. My recollection of the clash between Lincoln and McClellan had not been mis-remembered. I found the old photographs of McClellan particularly interesting, too, as I had just handled a piece of history from the 1864 election; a McClellan campaign medal, to be exact; and the high relief image on this Civil War relic is nothing short of eerie, when placed in context and juxtaposed against the old photographs of the general.

The knowledge of what this campaign medal represents, as well as the amazing condition of the piece, led to its selection as our May 2019 Coin of the Month. The handsome, high relief, lifelike portrait of “MAJ. GENERAL MC CLELLAN” positively jumps out of the obverse, aided some by the frosty cameo devices and the mirrored fields. “ONE FLAG AND ONE UNION: NOW AND FOREVER” is the inscription on the reverse, surrounding a version of the Great Seal of the United States. McClellan was definitely trying to unite the nation behind him, and he probably was all along.

The specimen in hand is a 2.5-3mm thick, heavy bronze piece with reflective fields, frosty devices, sparkles of red in the protected areas, no apparent marks, and the most delightful original patina one could imagine seeing on one of these. Iridescent colors line the original surfaces. Also of note is a sharp, curved clip at 4pm on the reverse. NGC labeled the Mint Error, but then cleverly concealed it under an extra-wide prong. Perhaps this was to preserve McClellan's legacy; it was entirely unlike him to cut corners.

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins


"The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns." Florentine Films, 1990. Netflix.com

April 30, 2019

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

April 2019

Wooden Luster: Possibly Unique Queen Anne "Medal" Struck on Wood.

1704 MI-269-69 Gibraltar Taken

The German medalist Philipp Heinrich Muller is remembered for his metallic portraits, produced in Nuremberg, in the late 17th and early 18th Century.  Most well-known are the medals depicting British themes, such as victories of William, 1689-1702, and Queen Anne, 1702-1714. His Queen Anne portraits have a unique style that separates them from the medals of the prominent British engraver of the period, John Crocker.

The diversity of all medals, in general, under the reign of Queen Anne is impressive, largely due to the many victories England enjoyed in the War of Spanish Succession. More specifically, Queen Anne had interjected Britain into a greater conflict by targeting France in 1702, creating Queen Anne’s War, but I digress. Silver was the primary composition for these medals, and the silver versions are extremely hard to find in mint condition, and rarely grade above MS63. Surprisingly, many bronze pieces from Queen Anne have survived in magnificent condition. It is not entirely uncommon to see them certified as high as MS65 and MS66.

What really surprised us was the appearance of this piece, struck not on silver or bronze, but into a carefully prepared disk of wood. One can see the lathe lines where the wood was carefully planed before striking. The medal commemorates the capture of Gibraltar and other victories and is Medallic Illustrations 269-69. The obverse is Muller’s portrait, but the reverse is technically unsigned. The edge of the original medal was signed by Friederich Kleinert, but there is no edge lettering on this 12mm thick, wooden version. The wood is likely black walnut, which was popular for its density. The strike is crisp and bold, and the wood has taken on the design with stunning exactness, despite the wood grain texture. The medal is actually double struck, a circumstance often encountered on Queen Anne medals.

The fields of this jewel are imparted with actual luster, wooden luster, transferred over from the surface of the dies. This makes one forget they are looking at a piece of wood at all. The obverse is actually Prooflike, with noticeable mirrored reflectivity. The reverse is more of a satin finish. It is likely that the obverse die was polished to remove imperfections, or to minimize the effects of a long, thin die crack almost bisecting the die.

More impressive than the composition is the quality. The medal looks as though it were struck yesterday. The surfaces are seemingly pristine, not even a tiny tick to be found. There are no signs of handling at all, other than a few tiny chips at the outer margin of the larger disk, far away from the die face of this 58mm piece. A small item of this age and fragility does not typically survive. One leaky roof, village fire, estate sale, flood, or carriage crash, and this piece would have been lost or ruined by moisture. Again, this is a fragile slice of wood from circa 1704.

The real question on everyone’s mind now is, why wood? There is a simple reason for this. While this piece is die struck, with Muller’s original medal dies, it was never actually intended to be a medal, per say. It had a much more practical purpose. This was a game piece, or draughtsman, made for use on an early 18th Century backgammon table. With some digging, we have just a few rare instances of these wooden, die-struck disks coming up for auction, over the past two decades. They are never in good condition, always showing mold, chips, cracks, wear, stains, and the like. Yet they seem to reach very healthy prices because of their pronounced rarity.

From the admittedly small surviving sample, which is of many different types, we can surmise the likelihood that sets of these were issued, representing numerous Kings, Queens, and battles of 17th and 18th Early Century Europe. The Gibraltar medal was part of a larger series issued by Kleinert, in fact, and it is probable that all of those medals were represented in the game pieces (MI,269). The Gibraltar obverse die was cracked, almost in half, when this piece was struck, suggesting it was either at the end of its useful life or had already been retired from service. Perhaps the backgammon sets were issued after the entire medal series was completed. These sets would have been sold to the aristocracy of the day, but it is likely that an entire set does not survive today, and the exact number and nature of the pieces may remain unknown. These disks were made to be used, not saved.

Click to Watch Video

<---This youtube video, produced by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, features a gaming table of a later period, but it gives you an idea of how these pieces were used.

This set would have been expensive to make, as well as to acquire, and not many would have been produced. Plus, for the reasons of attrition already speculated about, far fewer would have survived the next 300 years. Indeed, the present piece is by far the nicest example about which we have seen or heard. It is the only piece we have seen that could be described as Uncirculated, and it is probably gem quality, at that. We have seen no other examples featuring this specific design, so it could potentially be a unique piece. It was intended to be played with, but instead, this one was clearly tucked away. Heritage described it as “an enigmatic piece,” which more or less sums up everything we just said, in three words.

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins


Medallic Illustrations of the History of Great Britain And Ireland to the Death of George II. Vol. I. Ed. Edward Hawkins, Augustus W. Franks, Herbert Grueber. London; Longmans and Company, 1885 (p. 269).

Interesting MET video on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVC9HOSwHl4

March 31, 2019

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

March 2019

Newly Listed 1959 Die Clash, Unlike Any Other Variety!

DM Rare Coins features new

Our March Coin of the Month spot goes to a unique Franklin half dollar die clash that PCGS is now recognizing, at least as a minor variety. Not only is this an unusual die clash, but the die variety also happens to be a Type 2, retired Proof die pair, which is only found on a few dies in the series.

We have done extensive research into the die clashes found on Franklin half dollars. Virtually every date and mint is now known with some type of “Bugs Bunny” FS-401 or similar clash marks on, or near, Franklin’s mouth. Some dates are known with multiple die pairs with clashing. Indeed, die clashing is ubiquitous on Franklin half dollars.

That said, the present variety shows a die clash unlike any other in the series; that’s why it is so unusual. Instead of spikes or "teeth" around Franklin’s mouth, this die shows semi-circular die lumps at the junction of the lip and nose, as well as around the end of the nose. We have seen this pattern of die clashing on no other Franklin variety. That said, it shows the typical horn shaped clash near Franklin's neck, and the bulge beneath the eagle’s left-facing wing, proving that it is indeed a die clash. It reminds us of the 1943-S Goiter FS-401 Washington Quarter; which shows an abnormal bulge, from die clashing, that resembled no other clash date in that series.

Round clash bulges seen on new
Goiter die clash seen on new

A possible explanation for this Franklin variety is that the dies used are actually of the Type 2, retired Proof design, and not those typically used for circulation. The resulting obverse die clash on this Type 2 variety still hits in the same places as on regular, Type 1 varieties, but the differences in the relief and fine details of the eagle probably lead to differences in the shape and appearance of the clash. Across the series, only a few proof dies were used for circulation strikes, and this only happened in 1958 and 1959. Thus, the scarcity of Type 2 business strikes makes general knowledge of their resulting varieties scant.

Also of interest, this variety shows a series of long, straight die lines that run up and down the obverse center, which add even more curiosity to an already fascinating variety. The Mint had very low quality control standards in this decade. Additionally, this retired Proof die pair developed a die break on the eagle' wing, right where the edge of Franklin's nose clashed with it, weakening the die steel. The short crack starts as a tiny round die chip at that same spot, between the feathers, and makes its way across the field and into the side of the bell.

Die chip and crack seen on new

This variety has actually been known and sought by specialists for about a decade, but has never been added to variety catalogues. We have recently submitted two of these to PCGS, and they, in turn, have agreed to label them as Obverse Die Clash, with the Minor Variety label; “minor” only because this variety is not in the Cherrypicker’s Guide. This is a great step forward for a cool variety, as this is its first formal acknowledgement. What other oddities are out there waiting for you to find?

Happy Collecting!



March 20, 2019

We just received an award for our 2018 newsletter!

DM Rare Coins receives 2018 award for email newsletter!

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A Special Thank You goes out to our subscribers for reading and responding to our emails! We cannot keep up with all the coins, information, and research without your support!


DM Rare Coins

February 28, 2019

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

February 2019

DISCOVERY PIECE: 1953-D Re-engraved Nose Franklin Half Dollar

Occurring with an Obverse Die Clash Fs-402 Die


The 1950s were a barbaric time at the U.S. Mint. Pressure to do more with less, in the decade following the Second World War, lead to various cost saving measures with dies. In the 1950s, we see Proof dies reused to make circulation coinage, despite differences in design. We also see a number of re-engraved dies, mostly between 1944 and 1959. Once clashing has damaged a die pair, it is normal to polish the dies to remove traces of the mirror image. However, aggressive die polishing sometimes removes important design features, like the profile of Franklin’s bust. And, on rare occasions, mint workers will actually pick up a tool and hand engrave lost details back into a die. In fact, our February Coin of the Month spot goes to a new Discover Piece which we just sold, a 1953-D Franklin Half Dollar with a Re-engraved Nose!

The coin is certified by PCGS as the popular Obverse Die Clash FS-402 variety, which indicates a type of “Bugs Bunny” clash under the nose. There are multiple 1953-D dies that developed similar clashes, and we have seen them all. What we have never before seen is this die, in this specific stage, where it is absolutely apparent that someone tried to strengthen or straighten the bridge of Franklin’s nose, following a die clash.

Typical die clash damage on Franklin's nose (left) and 1953-D "Re-engraved Nose" (right)

Click to enlarge.

Franklin half dollar clash varieties will often show a spike running perpendicularly through the bridge of Franklin’s nose, creating a bump. This is actually the right edge of the bell transposed onto the obverse. Conversely, the reverse die, on one of these clash varieties, will typically show an outline of Franklin’s nose running into the bell. Usually, the Mint workers will polish the fields around the profile and bell in an attempt to remove various clash marks. In this case, they went a step further and cut a new bridge into Franklin’s nose. Ordering a new die would have been an unthinkable expense when the fix was so easy!

1689 Gunmoney shilling with re-engraved nose..

1953-D Re-Engraved Nose Franklin Half vs. 1689 Re-Engraved Nose Gunmoney Shilling

This new 1953-D Franklin variety hearkens back to a centuries-old coin we recently handled. During James II revolt against the Accession of William and Mary in 1689, James fled to Ireland and raised armies that were to be paid with tokens, supposedly struck from melted bronze cannons. These so-called “Gunmoney” tokens are very crude, as they were made out of shear desperation, leading up to the sound defeat of James in 1690. The well-worn dies of this piece suffered an atrocious, cost-saving measure when James’ portrait was partially re-engraved with a new profile, by an overzealous mint worker who was trying to breath new light into the dies. This is remarkably similar to what happened in 1953, but under much less dire circumstances.


Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

January 31, 2019

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

January 2019

Elusive and Unexplained 2005-D Cameo Prooflike Roosevelt Dime

From a"Satin Finish" Mint Set. NGC MS69 PL SMS

Prooflike Roosevelt Dime from a Satin Finish mint set. DM Rare Coins coin photography service.

The Mint seems to have great trouble making a consistent product from year to year. That is not intended as a criticism; if they did not have strange anomalies in their coinage production from time to time, some of the great varieties, errors, and even Prooflikes would not exist. One such happy aberration occurred in 2005 and is highly desirable, though not well-understood. Between 2005 and 2010, the annual Uncirculated Sets issued by the Mint; something collectors have long known as Mint Sets; were issued in a new, “Satin Finish.” Instead of the typical metallic sheen of the normal clad business strike, the Satin Finish was supposed to be a thick coating of heavy, frankly, dull frost on each side, which was to give each coin a uniform, non-reflective texture. PCGS simply labels these as “Satin Finish,” while NGC calls them “SMS” for Special Mint Set. Interestingly, some of the dimes struck in Denver show something completely unintended, mirrored fields and Cameo frost over the devices. These coins do not match the uniform finish intended by the Mint, and they should not exist.

The purpose of the Mint Set is to provide a way for collectors to obtain one of each circulation-strike coin, made in a given year. Thus, it is unclear, in the first place, why the Mint ever decided to change these coins to a special, Satin Finish. Nevertheless, they did it, but for unknown reasons, not all of the 2005 Satin Finish coins where 100% satiny, as planned. A handful of 2005-D dime dies were made with beautiful, Prooflike qualities. The finish on the affected coins is very inconsistent. Some have partially mirrored surfaces, a Prooflike obverse, or even fully Prooflike fields on both sides and frosted, Cameo devices. Partially PL coins are given the Star designation by NGC. The fully Prooflike coins actually grade PL, a very unusual designation for a coin that is supposed to be Satin Finish.

The distribution of these seemingly hybrid pieces was as inconsistent as the dies themselves. These unusual coins were randomly mixed into the sets along with normal, 100% satiny pieces. They emerged fairly early in 2005, and some collectors who heard about these Prooflike dimes ordered extra sets in hopes of finding some for themselves. We have often wondered if it was the existence of these Prooflike coins that caused NGC to use a more general SMS designation for these sets, instead of the Mint’s “Satin Finish” label.

Click to Enlarge.

I never did find one back in 2005, and the subject faded away into a distant memory, until very recently, when we came across our featured Coin of the Month. This NGC MS69 SMS PL dime is among the finest known examples of the SMS PL phenomenon. Just 48 of the 2005-D SMS dimes have made PL in all grades, including just 14 in this finest known grade. Curiously, despite these going as high as MS69 PL, none of these PL coins have been certified with the Full Torch designation, a potential clue to their origin.

What are the likely causes of this decidedly odd PL finish? I always assumed that the Mint was merely experimenting when they introduced this new Satin Finish, and that not all the dies were prepared consistently. At a glance, it seems as if the Satin Finish was only applied to the design elements, while the fields were polished to a mirrored surface. The Satin Finish continued for another four years, ending with the Mint Sets of 2010, but never again was this amazing PL effect seen. Perhaps the Mint simply got the process down by 2006. Then again, it only happened on a handful of dimes from one mint, and no one is sure how many dies were involved. It may have been just one.

Another possibility is that the dies were prepared with full satin and then polished to remove defects (the origin of many PL coins). If a Mint worker polished the fields to remove a clash or a spur, but failed to reintroduce a Satin Finish to the fields, you would be left with the same frosty devices and mirrored fields, as are seen here. This could have taken place either before or after the dies were placed into use. Further, the incomplete detail on the lower torch, which has prevented FT on every PL piece graded, suggests that the dies themselves were likely compromised. The detail of the lower bands could have been indistinct from die wear or from a defective hubbing. The exact answer would require an examination of a number of pieces in various stages, though these are few and far between.

Needless to say, we were very pleased to handle the featured example. It was a real throwback to Mint Set searching in 2005. It is a reminder of the fun of going through sets, of the surprises that the Mint can throw at you, and even the letdown of not finding one of these at the time. I probably would not have found one in MS69, but who knows! Maybe I should keep looking.

NGC PL Prooflike Roosevelt Dime from Satin Finish set. NGC MS69PL

Happy Collecting!


DM rare coins

December 31, 2018

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

December 2018

Rare 1949-S Full Torch Prooflike Roosevelt Dime Graded NGC MS67 FT PL:

Potentially the Finest Known 1949-S!

1949-S NGC MS67 FT PL Roosevelt Dime, courtesy DM Rare Coins coin photography service.

When the Full Bands/Full Torch designation was introduced for Roosevelt Dimes in the early 2000s, it quickly became apparent that 1949-S was the series key in FB/FT (PCGS uses FB, NGC uses FT). Over the past 15 years, we have handled a number of FB/FT Roosevelt dimes, but only two 1949-S pieces. The most recent example easily earns our Coin of the Month spot for December. This piece; graded NGC MS67 FT PL; is potentially the finest known 1949-S dime, period.

PL silver Roosevelt dimes primarily appear in the 1940s, and they are quite rare with fully PL surfaces. In MS67 FT PL, they are almost impossible to find. Thus, when you have a 67 FT PL that is also a 1949-S, you have something truly special, and quite unique, at least at this point in time!

Not only have no 49-S dimes been graded in MS68FT/FB, but this is the only piece in the 67FT grade to achieve the Prooflike designation. While there are about 20 normal MS67FT/FB pieces on the pop report for 49-S, this is a pop 1 in PL, and certainly the finest known Prooflike 1949-S. PCGS has graded just a couple coins in 67+FB. If you choose to equate the extra designation + with PL, both being a step above the regular 67FT/FB level, this piece is among the top three coins known. We prefer not to equate these designations, asPL is something separate from grade. This coin is in a column all its own (quite literally, when you look at the pop report). A home run piece that fully justifies our use of another PL coin in the Coin of the Month spot.

click to enlarge.

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

November 30, 2018

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

November 2018

Presently Unique Discovery!

1998-D Deep Mirror Prooflike Kennedy Half Dollar!

Very rarely is a Deep Mirror Prooflike Kennedy half dollar certified, and almost never do they come up for sale. We are not talking about the 2014 "Enhanced Finish" coins, which were mass produced with intentional, hybrid Proof characteristics. Such coins are common and have no added value beyond the going rate of that issue. You can count on your fingers the number of authentic, Business Strike, DPL Kennedy Half Dollars that have been found. The featured 1998-D easily earns our November Coin of the Month spot because it is both a pop 1, new discovery and tied for the finest DPL Kennedy certified. DPLs are only known for 1970-D, 1989-P, and now, 1998-D.

While some standards of measurement are observed when determining a PL coin, there is typically no measurement required to spot a DPL Kennedy Half dollar. The large, broad fields will show outrageous, deep, watery mirrors that pick up everything around them, often from feet away. Reflections roll over the fields like mini tsunamis, and the dancing luster absolutely looks alive. These coins pop out at you, and there can be no question about what they are.

Speaking of large broad fields, this piece is an exceptionally high-grade for a DPL, having earned an MS66 DPL grade at NGC. Prooflike and Deep Mirror Prooflike luster is very delicate, and the tiniest marks can greatly affect the grade. It is a minor miracle that such a large, fragile coin has survived in MS66. Of the 9 DPL Kennedy Half Dollars known, of all dates, just two have been graded MS66DPL, with none finer. Therefore, this 1998-D is tied with a 1989-P as the finest known Deep Mirror Prooflike Kennedy half dollar.

For more information on collecting Deep Mirror Prooflike Kennedy half dollars, please read our original research article on the subject HERE.

click to enlarge.

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

November 11, 2018

At 11:11, on the 11th day of the 11th month, 100 years ago, The Great War, i.e., The War to End All Wars, ended abruptly, with advance notice. There has been virtually no attention paid to the Centennial of WWI, which is happening today. This is ironic considering the origin of Veteran's Day, once called Armistice Day, was the end of WWI, in the first place.  Granted WWI was one of the most absurd monstrosities ever conducted by mankind; a cat fight between relatives, enacted on the World Stage; but at the time it must have seemed important enough to loose 20 millions soles. And, of course and as usual, America came in and put an end to it.

Therefore, we celebrate the heroism and patriotism of the tens of thousands of dough boys who fought and died to restore piece to the world in 1917 and 1918.

The arbitrary Armistice was agreed upon hours in advance, and rather than ending it upon the agreement, both sides decided to have some fun and end it at 11:11:11am. In the meantime, hundreds of men were killed as fighting continued for the 6 or so hours leading up to 11:11am, as both sides tried to jockey for better field position before the clock ran out (really). Again, one of the most absurd monstrosities ever conducted by mankind.

Upon the return of American troops, towns around America began to erect monuments to the dough boys who fought and won the Great War. The First Armistice Day was observed on the 1 year anniversary, November 11, 1919.

October 31, 2018

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

October 2018

1957 PF67* (STAR) Franklin Half Dollar Shows

More Than Meets the Eye (Appeal)

Our featured coin of the month is a very cool 1957 Proof Franklin half dollar, graded PF67* (STAR) by NGC. The coin is totally original and completely un-messed-with. It has a delightful halo of russet and deep green speckles around an otherwise tan gold obverse. The fields are deep and dark, and the high points are caked with as much luscious frost as physically possible. On the other hand, the reverse is totally brilliant with hard, glossy surfaces that are barely mirrored, and only the faintest trace of Cameo on some of the lettering. The toning is just a light haze. There could not be more contrast between obverse and reverse.

This piece demonstrates three important things. First, the Mint only cared about the quality of the obverse die. Second, the Star designation, which is often used to denote a coin with Prooflike or Cameo only on the obverse, doesn’t always tell the whole story. And third, the delicate nature of Proof (and also Prooflike) luster causes the surfaces to tone differently than non-Proofs and non-Prooflikes.

click to enlarge.

We have demonstrated time and again, in our studies on specific dies, that the Mint largely cared only about the quality of their obverse dies.  The replacement of obverse dies is often observable, while the reverses were simply allowed to wear out. Such was the case with our 1947-S RPM FS-501 die progression study, for example. Back to the coin at hand, this gorgeous, brand new, DCAM obverse die was paired with a well-used, lifeless reverse die in order to make this 1957 Proof half dollar. Even in a made-for-collectors Proof set, the Mint was not concerned about this miss-matched pairing.

This piece also demonstrates that there are varying degrees of Cameo, and in turn that the Star does not distinguish between them. This coin has a Deep Cameo obverse and it got the NGC Star Designation. Yet, if we had another 1957 that only had a Cameo obverse, it would still have received the Star designation. There would be no way to tell, based on the label, that there is a difference between the two coins. That means it is essential to look closely when you see a Star, to figure out what qualities the coin actually possesses. The value of this coin is somewhere between that of a Deep Cameo and a brilliant coin, not somewhere between Cameo and brilliant. Knowledge is power.

click to enlarge.

Finally, this piece was clearly stored in its original packaging, which would have exposed each side to roughly an equal degree of environmental factors. And yet, we see two very different types of toning between obverse and reverse. The reason for this is actually simple; Proof coins (and Prooflike coins, for that matter) have a more complicated microscopic structure than regular coins. The stronger the mirrors, the more fragile the surfaces. Added microscopic surface area results in a greater ability to oxidize. That is the best description my non-trained scientist mindcan give to describe what’s going on here. On this coin, the obverse is deeply mirrored, but the reverse is barley mirrored at all. The delicate Proof surfaces of the obverse were more susceptible to oxidation, resulting in rich toning. The same exposure to sulfurous materials only resulted in a ring of cloudy haze on the hard, barely reflective surfaces of the reverse.

Who thought there was that much to see on a Proof Franklin. I told you this was a cool coin!

Happy collecting!


DM Rare Coins

September 30, 2018

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

September 2018

Rare 2017-P Pocket Change Find!

If you’ve been reading our educational blog posts, you are probably thinking, “Really? Another 2017-P cent makes Coin of the Month?” Well, yes it has, but this is a post that goes beyond the coin at hand. Our feature article goes to a coin I found on the ground; ostensibly a common 2017-P cent. (We have already discussed the importance of this issue, being the only cent from Philadelphia ever to carry a mint mark. Read our January 2017 announcement for more on that.)

At least I thought it was a common cent when I scooped it up off the floor at the mall. I always pick up “pennies” when I see them laying around. It makes no economic “cents” these days to pick them up; I just do it for fun. Actually, I never turn down the opportunity to look at a coin. Having worked in retail, I know there are many people who actually prefer to throw their cents on the ground, rather than place them in their pockets. I will now detail one reason why this is foolish.

I was in quite a hurry that day, and while I did stop to pick up the coin, I did not have the chance to look at it until days later when I was doing laundry and it fell out of my pant’s pocket. At that time, I discovered it to be a bright and shiny gem, Red 2017-P! Great, but I got quite the surprise when my coin-grading reflexes habitually turned the coin over, in order to examine the reverse. I found something to be askew.

Click to enlarge

The coin is a major Mint Error! For many years, this was referred to as a Rotated Reverse. The reverse die became loose and turned out of proper alignment. The reverse, or hammer die, strikes the coin, while the obverse die serves as the anvil, a stationary plane that absorbs the impact. This arrangement is supposed to result in a consistently sharper strike on the all-important obverse. Today, however, these are more correctly referred to as Rotated Dies, because it is hard to say which die actually rotated out of position.

This piece ultimately graded MS66RD Mint Error Rotated Dies, at NGC. Being a special 1-year issue, this Error is particularly appealing, and we would place the value of something like this around $300, if it were going up for sale. This free pick-up coin resulted in a very cool and potentially unique find. Why aren’t you picking up the pennies you see laying around?

Click to Enlarge

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

August 31, 2018

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

August 2018


Thin Planchet 1876 HK-854 Dickeson Continental Currency

Prooflike"Die Trial?"

DM Rare Coins discoveres thin placnhet Dickeson Continental Currency HK-854 So-called Dollar. Image courtesy of our coin photography service.

In light of our research into the Dickeson medals, our Coin of the Month slot went, hands down, to this new find. We recently discovered an original 1876 example of Dickeson's Continental Currency Dollar, HK-854, in White Metal, which was struck on unusually thin, 2 mm thick planchet.

All original examples were previously though to be between 3 mm and 3.4 mm thick, and that measure has long been considered the diagnostic for identification and differentiation between originals and later restrikes. All but the seasoned experts would assume this 2 mm piece was merely one of the numerous modern restrikes.

However, the early die state, with full table top details, thick rims, fat, connected beading, orange peel textured Prooflike fields, and Cameo contrast proves this to be an original 1876 version. The thin planchet could either be because this was an experimental Die Trial, or because it could have been part of an early batch of thinner medals that were subsequently discarded in favor of thicker examples.

Regardless of its why it exists, it does; and HK-854 can no longer be identified strictly by its thickness. This is imperative information that medal collectors and So-called dollar enthusiasts need to know.

Please see our full feature article:

Thin Planchet 1876 Dickeson Continental Currency Dollar Discovered: Possible Die Trial HK-854 Changes the Standards for Identification

We also recommend reading our sister article on the HK-853 for additional information, though this discovery makes some of what we said there obsolete. We will be revising it slightly in the coming days based on the new Discovery Piece.

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

July 31, 2018

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

July 2018

1944-D Walking Liberty 50C

With Re-Engraved Obverse Design & Obverse Doubling!

1944-D Re-engraved Design Semi - Prooflike Walking Liberty Half Dollar. Courtesy DM Rare Coins coin photography service.

Recently, collectors have become more aware of the existence of re-engraved dies; i.e., coins that show re-cut design features. The Mint would sometimes take a used die off-line, and then an engraver would hand-cut new details into the die steel to replace weak or missing design elements. A few of these re-engraved die varieties have found their way into the Cherrypicker’s Guide, including the 1957-D Re-engraved tail feathers Washington Quarter and the 1944-D Re-engraved AW Walking Liberty half dollar. Many more have not yet been properly recognized, and instances of re-engraving occur on coins of the 1940s and 1950s; a time when the Mint was apparently more concerned with economy than quality. One of these unknown varieties is yet another 1944-D Walker; but this one has a re-engraved sun and earth! A highly polished obverse die had lost its fine detail, and Mint workers crudely re-engraved portions of the design with a hand tool. This cool coin was an obvious Coin of the Month candidate for the July spot.

This piece was advertised to us as a Prooflike Walker in PCGS MS65, so naturally, we jumped at the chance to get it. We discovered, upon delivery, that the coin is in fact struck from the distinctively polished dies, of the “the Prooflikes of 1934 to 1955” variety. However, it was more of a middle die stage comparable to stage D of our analysis of a PL die. The mirrors of the obverse had begun to fade away and it would be considered Semi-PL, at best. The reverse die also shows traces of the tell tale crisscrossing die polish, but is an even more advanced die state, with no PL qualities. Thus, we were left with a gem Walker with a Semi-PL obverse.

Our initial disappointment lead to newfound excitement when we began a cursory examination under a glass. An immediate observation revealed something that looked like a tripled or even quadrupled image on the last ray on the right side of the sun. These markings turned out to be long, hand cut lines. Someone had carved into the die steel to strengthen the design in multiple places, including some of the sun's rays. Parts of the sun’s rays, the clouds, and the ground below Lady Liberty, and some of the lower skirt lines showed traces of re-engraving, and heavy die lines run the length of the horizon.

Click to enlarge high-resolution images!

One can surmise the reason for this enhancement; because this obverse die was heavily refinished with coarse abrasives, and then finely polishing, some of the more delicate details had simply come up missing. Then, someone broke tradition and decided to put those missing details back, by hand, using an engraving tool. Perhaps it was the same Mint worker who re-cut the famous 1944-D Re-engraved AW half dollar, where the Mint polished off the AW and added it back in by hand-carving a new monogram. It is the same Mint, the same year, and the same denomination, after all.

We also realized, but were not surprised, that the obverse might actually be the discovery piece of a new Doubled Die, (we are awaiting official confirmation of this). In two or three places, a second image is seen, protruding from behind the primary image. During our extensive research of the PL coins of 1934 to 1955, we have often foundthe affected dies to be either Doubled Dies or RPMs. Perhaps an explanation of the mysterious finish has to do with the removal of such manufacturing defects? Consequently, we always look over these Polished PL coins carefully for die varieties.

Click to enlarge DDO image!

The present specimen is thus a Semi-Prooflike, Gem-grade, Re-engraved Die, Doubled Die Obverse. That would be a mouthful, if PCGS were ever to add it to their list of varieties they recognize. In the meantime, maybe you can find one too, or a new variety that deserves recognition.

Click to enlarge full gallery!

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

June 30, 2018

DM Rare CoinsCoin of the Month

June 2018

1939-S Rev of 1938 NGC MS65PL; Rare, Prooflike, Early Jefferson Nickel!

As we have discussed many times before, both on our blog and in our original research articles, the Prooflikes of 1934 to 1955 display a unique finish in Numismatics. Examples from the 1930s are very hard to come by; and nickels are probably the scarcest of any denomination to feature the phenomenon. Thus, we jump at any opportunity to display one. Thus our June 2018 Coin of the Month spot goes to a gorgeous 1939-S Jefferson nickel with gleaming, glass-like fields over both sides, and the crisscrossing polishing lines that define this finish. The mirrors do not show up in the images.

Without delving too deeply into the theories behind the appearance of these mysterious PL issues (more on that can be found in our research tab), suffice it to say that Jefferson nickels are neck and neck with Wheat Cents, vying for title of the scarcest denomination to show the polished PL finish of 1934-1955. Only a handful of nickels have appeared in the NGC population reports, and these are almost exclusively S-mint coins (also typical of the era).

NGC Coin Explorer comments that the 1939 pieces sometimes display "crude die polishing lines in the fields" (1). The coins they refer to are regularly encountered in the marketplace. They are actually the common, later die states of dies like this one. Almost as soon as the freshly polished, PL dies are used, they begin to erode. The fine die lines seen here become more pronounced, and even heavy and coarse, as the mirrors quickly dissipate and change over to frost. It is actually a strange phenomenon to observe, but we have documented it in some of our articles. The mirrors did not last very long, at all, before heavy die lines kicked in, so it makes perfect sense that the graders would describe many of these pieces as crude. The glassy mirrored coins are the exception.

Our featured specimen is clearly special because of its finish, but moreover, because it is a gem and that is lined with beautiful rainbow album toning. This is what collectors would call a home run coin. Of course, these pieces are so rare in PL that they are almost what they call un-collectible. This is the only piece certified by NGC for the 1939-S Reverse of 1938. They have slabbed one Reverse of 1940 example, an MS66PL. There are of course no P-mint examples (the Polished PL finish is virtually non-existent on Philadelphia issues), but there are also no D-mint pieces graded. Actually, there are only four PLs graded for all 1930s Jefferson nickels, and all are San Francisco.

For more information on the Polished PL finish of 1934 to 1955, please see the original articles under our research tab, HERE.

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins


NGC Coin Explorer: 1939 S Rev of 38 5C MS. https://www.ngccoin.com/coin-explorer/jefferson-five-cents-1938-date-pscid-25/5c-1939-s-rev-of-38-ms-coinid-514006

May 31, 2018

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

May 2018

High-grade 1836 Capped Bust 50C O-106A

Beaded Border Reverse Experimental Design Type!

This is a Coin of the Month we've dreamed of writing about for a long time, but we simply have not seen the right coin. It's no secret to Early U.S. half dollar collectors that we are obsessed with the 1836 O-106A Beaded Border Reverse die variety. We've handled numerous examples in VF, XF, and sometimes AU grades. This is the first time we have seen one that looks Mint State, and because of its exceptional condition, it demonstrates full, as-struck details on the reverse rim, and is thus an excellent study piece.

First it should be understood that examples of this variety are almost never struck with full border details, so even MS coins are not always complete. Further, a few Proofs were struck from this die marriage, and they do not show complete borders either. Perhaps it was the incomplete, sometimes indistinct details that allowed this amazing, but largely unknown die variety not to receive its due attention?

The 1836 Beaded Reverse Border is a unique design sub-type, seen nowhere else on the Early half dollars of 1794-1836. This is for good reason, as the Beaded Border was designed to be used on close-collar presses, with steam power, which did not appear until the end of 1836.

The Beaded Reverse border coins were all struck from a single die pair. Curiously, the reverse showed bead decorations encircling a raised rim, rather than the traditional dentil rim seen on all other Early half dollar dies. Even the obverse die of this marriage shows a regular dentil rim, in contrast to the reverse.

The die marriage is listed by Overton as O-106, but speaking of being under-rated, Overton strangely missed the beaded border completely, despite his attention to other minute details that identify the marriage. If not for this variety being included in the Redbook for a number of years, it is likely no one would know it exists! Another problem with Overton's analysis is that there are clearly three die states, where Overton only defined two. The first stage shows no die cracks. The second stage shows a large crack running up from the lower rim, through the arrow heads, and into the eagle's body. Finally, a third stage shows an additional crack from the right side, through the C in AMERICA. On the third stage, there is also a lengthening of the first crack, which now runs all the way through the eagle and above his head, stopping just beneath the scroll on the reverse. Overton's O-106A die state encompasses both of the cracked stages. The scarcest stage seems to be the third stage.

The die state does not seem to matter in terms of definition in the beaded border. Our host coin is the late middle stage, with one crack through the arrow heads, and perhaps just a faint trace of the third crack through C. Yet, it shows fairly nice beading compared to the average example. We have seen stage one examples with less beading definition. High grade is really what makes the difference in the rim detail on this variety. That said, few examples of this variety, from any stage, show complete details on the reverse rims, as this rim treatment was not designed to be used on open collar strikes.

The Beaded border reverse typically shows indistinct, stretched beads around a raised rim. The later die states show a die crack through the arrow heads, and then another through the C in AMERICA.

1836 was obviously a transitional year for the half dollar; the Mint switched half dollar production from screw press and open collar, to steam power and a close collar. The latter would impart a reeded edge at the time of striking, replacing the old lettered edge that had to be added through a separate process. The Capped Bust design was subsequently reworked to accommodate a necessary change in planchet size and thickness. In so doing, the traditional dentil rim was replaced with a raised, beaded border that would better accommodate the standard diameter on these new "Reeded Edge" halves.

However, the Mint had already coined 6,545,000 halves that year in the now obsolete open collar screw presses. And somehow, during that production run, one reverse die was cut using the new beading around the old design, which was subsequently struck in an open collar screw press. As a result of this mismatching of technologies, the reverse rim was very inconsistently rendered. Instead of metal hitting a close collar and being forced up, into the beading and raised rim during striking, there was no collar to contain the squeeze, and the planchets were allowed to expand beyond the diameter of the beading, creating a stretched appearance to the beads. The effect almost resembles dentils. Even the rare Proofs struck from this marriage show incomplete or distorted beading.

The presence of Proof examples helps to confirm that this reverse die was likely an experiment, manufactured to test the new beading pattern before the new designs, presses, and technology were implemented. If that was the case, it’s clear that the experiment failed. Substantially better results were achieved when the close collar, Reeded Edge halves were struck, and the Mint never looked back to the old, now obsolete, open collar.

The present piece shows full, unbroken luster across the fields, and powerful, glittering frost accented by light, iridescent toning. We expected an MS62 grade, think it would be held back from Choice because of a few parallel handling lines on the obverse. Nevertheless, it graded AU58 at PCGS. The strike is also superb for the issue; O-106 often comes flat, or lacking in fine details on the central obverse hair curls. Conversely, the reverse center is always well-struck and well-protected by the high, awkward rim treatment. That said, the featured piece is as well-struck as the marriage comes with bold, rounded hair curls on the obverse. 

Just a handful of these are known in AU58 and any MS grade. Therefore, this highly detailed survivor really stands out from the heard and earns our coin of the month spot.

While the coin of the Month spot is educational, this particular item is currently available for sale in our Inventory!

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

April 30, 2018

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

April 2018

1947 Thomas Edison Centennial C. Smith So-called Half Dollar


So-called half dollars, like so-called dollars, are simply privately struck medals; and like so-called dollars, which happen to be dollar-sized, the so-called halves happen to be about half dollar-sized. There were eight so-called half dollars struck on behalf of C. (Charles) Smith in 1947 and 1948, by the illustrious Whitehead & Hoag Company. The medals were originally issued in custom printed Wayte Ramond coin boards for collectors. These medals cover a range of interesting topics, such as the Confederate Seal, Charles Lindbergh's 1927 flight, and the Pony Express, to name a few.

The present Coin of the Month spot goes to the C. Smith Thomas Edison Centennial medal. We have handled examples of this issue before, and while examples of the various C. Smith issues can be found in Prooflike, it is very infrequent that they are certified with the DPL designation, as has this piece.

Many C. Smith pieces typically show fields with lots of frosty luster and sometimes semi-glossy luster. A number of them are fully Prooflike, with unbroken, mirrored fields on each side. On rare occasions, they have been found with deep mirrors and thick Cameo frost; these are the Deep Mirror Prooflike (DPL) pieces, like our featured Edison. Sharp, fresh engraving is enhanced by intense, extra-strong mirrors, which give way to virtually full Cameo frost over the devices of both sides. These DPL examples represent the design as it was originally intended, and they look quite a bit different than dothe later die states.

Deeply Mirrored, Cameo DPL

Frosty, Polished,Late Die State

The Thomas Edison issue tends to be rather scarce in gem+ condition, due to the high relief portrait and the broadly exposed, open fields of the obverse, which are very susceptible to contact. Thus, it is no surprise that this unusually nice MS66DPL is tied with one other as the Finest Known to date. It is a no-brainer for our Coin of the Month.

There are some other curiosities which draw us to the C. Smith Thomas Edison issue, in particular. First, the reverse is a noticeable Doubled Die, showing best on the S in THOMAS, and the 9 in 1947. This does not add extra value because all examples were struck from the same dies, and thus all are, in fact, Doubled dies. But it is a curiosity.

The other curiosity is the Thomas Edison portrait. Smith's portrait of Thomas Edison bears a striking, if not an uncanny resemblance to modern actor, Ciaran Hinds; best known for his role as Julius Caesar in the HBO/BBC series, Rome; and as King of the Wildlings, Mance Rayder, in the HBO series, Game of Thrones.


Image of Ciarian Hinds courtesy of The Movie Database. https://www.themoviedb.org/person/8785-ciar-n-hinds

Late Die State Edison obverse courtesy Northeastcoin.com.

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

April 14, 2018

Happy Tax Day!

To celebrate this rough and tumble time of year, we are offering our popular 6% Off coupon, available for all purchases, through the end of April!

You must use code:


DM Rare Coins

March 31, 2018

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

March 2018

1908 No Motto $10 Indian Gold Eagle

With the exception of a few experimental types struck in 1907, there is only one other, truly regular issue Indian Eagle; 1911-D, at 30,100; with a mintage lower than the 33,500 of the 1908 No Motto. And yet, there are several other dates, some with mintage figures that are nearly double, but which command higher premiums than the 1908 No Motto. This issue is notoriously under-rated, and in past years, has frequently traded for little premium over the price of a generic date. The 2017 Red Book, for instance, lists the price of an Au50 at $875, while the price of the 1908-D No Motto, with its 210,000 mintage, at $850 in Au50.

Sure, some other dates may be scarcer than their mintage figures indicate, due to low survival rates and mass melting. Yet the appearance of this issue on the market is infrequent enough to assume its survival rate is not great either. Very infrequently, one comes up to auction, and results are mixed. The 1908 No Motto is actually a forgotten issue.

When Augustus St. Gaudens began his redesign of the U.S gold coinage in 1907, Theodore Roosevelt was President, and he opposed the frequent usage of IN GOD WE TRUST on the national coinage, which the Red Book explains, is the reason for its absence on this design (1). Some 239,406 pieces were struck with no motto, in 1907. Congress took swift action, in 1908, to restore the Motto to US coinage; and the conspicuous, almost planned gap in the left field, on the reverse of this design, was soon home to IN GOD WE TRUST, where it remained through 1933. Only 33, 500 No Motto Eagles escaped the mint before the change, and some 341,370 were struck with In GOD WE TRUST. Because a 1907 No Motto is common, most Type collectors who needing one piece without the Motto and one with the Motto opt to fill that whole with a 1907 No Motto, leaving the rare 1908 No Motto only to the whims of the advanced collector.

In the past two years, with many classic coins trading at melt, new demand for gold rarities has allowed such coins as the 1908 No Motto to enjoy a better following. One could argue that the curiously low mintage, alone, should draw some extra attention to it as a conversation piece. In fact, auction records have climbed for choice examples, compared to decreasing prices for the Motto issues. Therefore, our March Coin of the Month goes to the wonderfully original, green and rose gold 1908 No Motto we recently acquired. This piece is just the second one we have handled, and serves as a reminder of the under-rated classic gold coins on today's market.


Yeoman, R.S. A Guidebook of United States Coins. Bresset, Bowers, Garret ed. 70th Edition. Atlanta, Whitman Publishing, LLC 2016. p277-278.

Happy Collection!

DM Rare Coins

February 28, 2018

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

February 2018

1952 Proof "Bugs Bunny" FS-403 Franklin Rarity!

When we, along with several other Franklin enthusiasts, began putting together our lists of Franklin varieties for the 2012 Cherrypicker's Guide, we had a lot of very cool "Bugs Bunny" clashes, but no one had ever thought to look at Proof Franklins for this phenomenon. A few years ago, a collector discovered a few 1952 Proof Bugs Bunny Franklins, they were immediately picked up by the Cherrypicker's Guide (with an FS-403 designation), and the hunt was on!

To date, there are still just a handful of these known, but grades range from PF67 to PF64, as many of these have been certified for years, with the clashing going completely unnoticed. Proof coins are not supposed to be released with minting errors such as this. Proof dies are specially prepared and polished, the blanks are specially treated and polished, and the coins were supposed to be carefully struck and eventually placed into small cellophane bags, which were stapled together and placed into a cardboard box, to be mailed to collectors.

One can only speculation as to how such a dramatic die clash could occur on a Proof half dollar. Yet, examining a handful of 1952 Proof halves, it is obvious that quality standards were not what they had been in 1950 and 1951, or 1953 and 1954, for that matter. Many 1952s are struck from well-worn dies that probably should have been rejected and replaced. It looks as though mint workers were not concerned with quality standards, which is strange, considering 1952 had such a low mintage, compared to other dates. At least one die shows the upper lip completely polished off; possibly a late die state of the Bugs Bunny die, as mint workers often tried to remove the clashing damage around Franklin's mouth when it was discovered. Some 1952 halves also show re-engraving on Franklin's hair, restoring details lost due to polishing and die fatigue.

Occasionally, a 1950 or a 1954 Proof will show signs of die clashing, but to date, we have not been able to document any "Bugs Bunny" teeth on Franklin's mouth. There could be one out there somewhere, waiting for a careful pair of eyes to spot it. We can all but guarantee there are more 1952s to be found, though it will continue to be a rare coin, in our estimation.

Happy Collecting!

DM Rare Coins

Happy Presidents Day!

From DM Rare Coins

President’s Day is sort of an odd holiday, today. It typically falls somewhere between Lincoln and Washington’s birthday, but purports to be a celebration of all U.S. presidents. Yet, those of you old enough to remember a simpler time, and those who are students of history, know Presidents Day used to be called “George Washington’s Birthday.” School children were taught about the Father of Their Country’s cherry tree, his impeccable honesty, and that his birthday fell on February 22, 1732.

What most did not learn is that George Washington was actually born on February 11, 1731! The discrepancy arises from the fact that the Julian calendar that we use today was not implemented by the British government and its colonies until 1752. Prior to that year, the Gregorian calendar was standard. It ran 11 days behind the Julian, and each year began in May instead of January. The rising popularity of the more sensible Julian calendar can be seen in Mid-18th Century documents, and even ephemera like medals, that refer to the January through April months with a split year, in order to reflect both calendar years. On this Admiral Vernon Medal, compliments of Heritage, the date is written “1740 : 1,“ to commemorate a battle which, today, we understand as having occurred in March of 1741.

Ultimately, the change in 1752 was a welcomed one, but George Washington continued to celebrate his birthday on the 11th of each February; just one day behind Lincoln’s!

Happy Collecting!

DM Rare Coins

January 31, 2018

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

January 2018

RARE 1877/7-S Re-punched Date Trade Dollar!

1877-S Trade Dollar RPD FS-301 Cherrypicker's Guide variety. Images courtesy od DM Rarer Coins coin photography service.

There are a couple interesting and well-known Doubled Dies for the 1877 San Francisco Trade dollar, but there is also a very cool, yet largely unknown Re-punched Date. The 1877/7-S Re-punched Date is actually documented in the Cherrypicker's Guide as RPD FS-301, but so few of them have been found that it is seldom collected.

The second 7 of the date is noticeably recut over a very sharp, original impression that was punched too low. The serif appears widely doubled because of these clear, overlapping 7s, and the rounded, extra stand drops down bellow the primary, again with no signs of an attempt to removed the first 7. This variety is very enjoyable to examine; it is a wonder why the mint worker's did not try to file or polish the obvious first 7 away, as would typically be the case with such an engraving blunder.

PCGS has certified just 10 examples in all grades, and NGC does not list a single example in their Census. CoinFacts shows just one piece coming to auction, back in 2013. Because we have been unsuccessful in finding one of these until now, despite lots of searching, our January Coin of the Month necessarily goes to the first RPD FS-301 we have come across, in any grade. The coin itself is an original AU with rich toning, underlying luster, a sharp strike, and delightful blue, rose, and amber hues working in from the peripheries. It will soon become the 11th certified at PCGS. Great coins are out there; it's time to start your hunt!

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

Wishing You


Happy New Year

from DM Rare Coins

November 30, 2017

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

November 2017

1886-S/S $5 Rare Liberty Half Eagle RPM Variety!

DM Rare Coins coin photography service provides image of 1886-S/S Liberty Half Eagle with RPM FS-501 style re-punched Mintmark.

Die varieties for Classic U.S. gold coinage are only recently becoming popular. It used to be that the high price of gold would effectively limit any extra premium collectors would pay for die varieties, over their run-of-the-mill counterparts. Within the past 5 years, however, collector premiums for Liberty gold coinage have all but completely dissipated. Due to the historically high price of gold these days, dealers are treating Liberty gold as little more than bullion, and collectors are looking for new reasons/excuses to collect Liberty gold coinage and make their collections stand out from the ordinary. One such excuse is to collect those previously ignored die varieties.

With some spectacular varieties out there, it is hard to believe they have been ignored for so long. Though improvements are made with each new edition, The Cherrypicker's Guide is woefully behind the times in documenting gold varieties. Further, PCGS will only recognize varieties outlined by the Cherrypicker's Guide. On the other hand, NGC is perhaps leading the way forward by adding new discoveries to their proprietary Variety Plus catalog. An impressive list is developing there.

Our featured Coin of The Month is a delightful, original, mint state, 1886-S Liberty gold Half Eagle that displays a clear and all but unknown RPM. Sharply defined fragments of another S punch are easily seen to the southeast of the primary S, and there is a wide notch seen at the upper serif. Currently, there is no RPM FS-501 designation for this die variety, as it is still not listed in the Cherrypicker's Guide. This RPM can only be found in the NGC Variety Plus catalog, and it should be noted that just four coins have so far been found (this piece soon to become a fifth).

Another consideration for collectors wanting to set their collections apart from the ordinary is paying attention to originality. Most classic gold has been stripped and conserved. The present specimen is richly toned in green and rose gold hues and has never been dipped or otherwise brightened to expose the underlying golden shine of your average bullion round. This is a supremely appealing half eagle. The strike is also impeccable, and the surfaces are quite nice for the MS62 grade assigned. Perhaps we should have cleaned this one to get a 63 or better? No! I think it's just fine the way it is :)

Happy Collecting!

DM Rare Coins

November 24, 2017

The Laurel Highlands/Nathaniel Greene Hoard of

U.S. Coins and Paper Money

Liberty Half Eagle, Liberty Eagle, Liberty Double Eagle, and Indian Quarter Eage gold coins

We are pleased to announce the acquisition of a notable, turn of the 20th Century coin hoard. The coins were accidentally stumbled upon, hidden in the walls of an old family house, inside an antique wooden box, in a historic Western Pennsylvania town, which is Nathanial Greene’s namesake. The paper money was largely stashed in old greeting cards that were put away in the drawers of a wooden chest in the same home, and miraculously never spent. The quality and variety of the small hoard is impressive. The earliest coins date to the 1820s, and the newest paper money to the 1920s. About two dozen untouched, pre-1926 gold coins were contained within a canvas bag, and many of them have that desirable “green gold” patina rarely seen on today’s processed and conserved gold coins. Dozens of 19th century copper and nickel pieces were found, as well as Bust and Seated silver coinage of all denominations. There are 54 currency notes, including an 1864 Confederate $50 note with a family lineage, and early silver and gold certificates. Finally, included in the hoard is some junk silver that was certainly saved at a later date. This will be divided into lots. We look forward to offering up these classic coins and notes to our customers. Many raw coins will be posted to our website over the coming weeks. Higher-end coins and currency will be certified and should arrive back in December. There is something for everyone so please watch our website!


DM Rare Coins

DM Rare Coins celebrates Thanksgiving with our rare coin blog readers.

November 23, 2017

We wish a happy


To all our customers and readers!

October 31, 2017

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

October 2017

1950-S ProoflikeWashington Quarter: Rare Decade for this Prooflike Finish

We have often discussed, here, the unique prooflike finish that appears on coins of the 1934-1954 period (See our article on the subject for more information). Dates in the 1950s are easily the most elusive Prooflikes of this period. In fact, we might have assumed that coins of these last 5 years were all but rumored to exist, if not for a few NGC pop report entries and a couple S-mint, 1950s Franklin halves that popped up in a 2003 auction at Heritage, which were never sold. Furthermore, we have personally come across a number of tantalizing, semi-Prooflike pieces from the 1950s that were struck from the early-middle die states of once fully Prooflike dies. Yet, we have not been able to find the earlier, Prooflike stages. (Also see our die state analysis article for information on die states of the 1934-1954 PL phenomenon).

Thus, when we got this amazing 1950-S Washington Quarter in hand, we could not believe it was dated to the 1950s. It looks every bit as good as the slightly more common 1940s Prooflike Washington Quarters, some of which come with outstanding mirrors and hints of Cameo, like this piece. This 1950-S easily shows the best Prooflike mirrors we have seen on any coin of this decade, and so it earns our Coin of the Month spot.

Further, the coin itself is snow white and haze free, with sharply struck surfaces that allow for optimal viewing and appreciation of the granite-like striations, polishing lines, and glassy mirrors. With this piece as a reminder that it is not hopeless, the hunt continues for Prooflike coins of the 1950s....

Happy Collecting!

DM Rare Coins

September 30, 2017

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

September 2017

1876/87 Misplaced Date Seated Quarter; Rarity-7 Condition Census Marvel!

1876 MPD Flynn-004 Seated Liberty quarter Misplaced Date, courtesy DM Rare Coins coin photography service.

Perhaps the headline should read: Another 1876 Makes Coin of The Month! The Seated Liberty series is known for some strange die varieties, such as the so-called “Misplaced Dates,” or dies that show number punches hidden within the design. Sometimes found hidden in the folds of the drapery, the rock, and most often in the dentils, these varieties are very unusual and really do not happen in other series. Speculation about their origin ranges from playful mint workers to die sinkers needing places to rest their number punches while lining up the numerals.

The Cherrypicker’s Guide, which is always short on space, has been slow to pick up some of these extremely cool varieties. With so many different ones across this vast series, it has been hard for them to cover all of them. Only a dedicated book can do so. Quarter dollars seem to have the most Misplaced Dates, and Kevin Flynn has devoted an entire book to Seated Liberty quarter varieties, which is much more comprehensive than the Cherrypicker’s Guide. 1876, seems to have been a particularly good year for such varieties, with more than half a dozen different Misplaced Dates and Re-punched Dates are listed in Flynn (we actually contributed samples of some of them!

One of the boldest Misplaced Dates of 1876, and also one of the rarest, is Flynn MPD-004. Unlike any of the other 1876 dies, Flynn-004 clearly displays the upper loop of an 8, and the top edge of an ornate 7, hidden in the denticles below the primary date. This is the only MPD of the year with such a combination. Flynn lists this issue as a rarity 7 (3-12 known), and we have handled two of them, including what could potentially be the finest documented example, our featured PCGS MS63.

Because this variety is not found in the Cherrypicker’s Guide, PCGS does not have a catalog number to assign to it, and it receives the “Minor Variety” designation, by default. This should not be understood as a judgement of the appeal of the variety. It simply means that the Cherrypicker’s Guide has not yet included it. We have been in discussion with Bill Fivaz about its possible inclusion in the next edition. The problem is that they have to find something else to take out, if they are to fit it into the book. The Cherrypicker’s Guide is not a comprehensive reference, and perhaps PCGS should not be so reliant on it for variety attribution, in the first place.

We are excited to have this particular piece for study due to the exacting, razor blade strike and unworn, un-abraided surfaces. Very rarely are any of the Misplaced Dates found in Choice Mint State; most of those we have seen were VF or XF. This piece represents a rare opportunity to study the details of variety without the major obstacles presented by weak strike, wear, and abrasions. We hope you enjoy the pictures! More information about this and other varieties can be found in Kevin Flynn’s book, The Authoritative Reference on Seated Liberty Quarters.

Happy Collecting!

DM Rare Coins

August 30, 2017

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

August 2017

1945 "No AW" FS-901 Walking Liberty

NGC MS66 Finest Known!

DM Rare Coins coin photography service captures 1945 No AW FS-901 Walking Liberty half dollar. NGC CAC MS66.

Several dates in the Walking Liberty series have been found with missing designer’s initials. The most well-known of these is the 1945 Philadelphia issue, due to its inclusion in the Cherrypicker’s Guide. These varieties are not very well-understood by most collectors, and for good reason; they are not what they seem.

The “AW” monogram (it’s actually, AAW, for designer, Adolph A. Weinman) was present on the hub used to make all Walking Liberty half dollar dies, thus it is not possible for a die to be manufactured without the AW. Excessive die polishing and die fatigue are to blame for the lost detail that results in the No AW varieties. All known examples show some faint remnant of the designer’s initials.

In the case of the 1945, the dies are found, in their earlier stages, to be heavily polished, with large patches of reflective luster where aggressive die grinding and resurfacing took place. Mint workers clipped the top left half of the AW monogram, completely removing it, while doing this restoration. Then, as the dies began to wear out, the satiny and polished surfaces began to get rough and frosty, and the remaining lower right half of the AW began to fade. The dies were still not retired at this late die state, but instead were used to strike additional coins until the lettering became indistinct and the rims began to stretch from starburst striations. This final blow stretched and distorted the already indistinct AW fragment, resulting in coins that, at a glance seem to be missing the AW altogether.

Some have said that because this is a “die state variety” and not a true mistake by the engravers, that it is not a real variety. And yet, it is popular enough to fetch almost $1000 whenever an MS64 comes to market. The reason for this popularity is that coins in this advanced die state, and which have qualified for the NO AW FS-901 designation by NGC and PCGS, are very rare in choice mint state. To date, NGC has certified 13 examples between MS63 and MS66, including 3 in MS63, 7 in MS64, 0 in MS65, and 2 in MS66. PCGS has graded 3 coins in MS63 and 1 in MS65.

The present specimen is tied with one other coin as the finest known example of the FS-901 No AW variety. This gleaming, golden toned, original MS66 is a sparkling and superlative example of the issue. Our photographs should help collectors discern what it takes to qualify for this coveted variety.

Happy Collecting!

DM Rare Coins
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July 4, 2017

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

July 2017

1876 Dickeson Continental Currency Dollar

Original Strike, HK-853, Copper. Rarity-7


1876 Dickeson Continental Dollar PCGS MS65 HK853 DM Rare Coins

A perennial favorite among So-Called Dollar collectors, the 1876 Dickeson Continental Dollar Copy is also one of the only medals in the industry-standard, Hibler-Kappen reference that is popular enough to have its own restrikes. Buying one of these is the closest most people will ever come to owning an original Continental Dollar, after all. The historically significant, 1776 Continental Currency dollars, primarily struck in Pewter, but also existing in brass and silver, are very expensive. Low grade, damaged pieces will start around $20,000. The 19th Century Dickeson versions, and their 20th Century restrikes, are much more affordable, by comparison, at anywhere from $100 to $1000, even though the 1876 is arguably as rare as the 1776.

These were struck in celebration of the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, at which Dickeson’s famous collection and creations were on display. These medals may have been available for purchase as souvenirs of the occasion. David Bower’s estimates that; while several hundred white metal pieces were issued; only a few dozen of the copper version were struck (Bowers, 307). Ironically, most collectors find the copper version to be more aesthetically appealing. Today only about a dozen have been certified in copper, though some of the pieces slabbed as 1876 Dickeson Continental Dollars are actually mislabeled or misidentified 1962 Bashlow Restrikes, of a much lower quality.

Unfortunately, few have had an opportunity to own the original issue, due to its extreme rarity. The total number of pieces slabbed as 1876 originals can be counted on two hands. Thus, the choice original, PCGS MS65 that crossed our desk this month was an exciting find. With unmarked, satiny gem brilliance; moderate remaining mint red in the devices; and the crisp, intricate features; for which the originals are known to be superior; this piece easily made our Coin of the Month spot. It is a superlative example of this highly sought issue.

Note: Please read and bookmark our feature length article:

Distinguishing Dickeson's Dollars: 1876 Dickeson Continental Currency Dollar Imposters.


Q. David Bowers. Whitman Encyclopedia of Colonial and Early American Coins: The Only Authoritative Reference on All Pre-Federal Coinage. Atlanta; Whitman Publishing, LLC. 2009.
Happy Collecting, and Happy 4th of July!

DM Rare Coins
May 31, 2017

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

May 2017


1970-D NGC MS63 DPL

Deep Mirror Prooflike Kennedy half dollar compliments of DM Rare Coins coin photogrpahy service

The final date in the 40% silver Kennedy half dollar series, 1970, was issued only in Mint sets and Proof sets. While most coins from these Mint sets are completely normal, frosty Kennedy halves, collectors find occasional examples with Prooflike qualities. Those with complete, uninterrupted mirrored luster over the fields of both sides are given the actual Prooflike designation by NGC. These reflective, mirrored coins result from freshly polished dies. However, there is another level of reflective luster, Deep Mirror Prooflike, sometimes abbreviated as DMPL or DPL, which is seen only rarely on coins other than Morgan Dollars. A DPL has noticeably extreme mirrors, and sometimes even Cameo contrast. Only six Kennedy halves, of any date, have been certified with the DPL designation. Five of those happen to be 1970-D.

As specialists in coins with PL qualities, we were fortunate enough to handle one of these this month, and while many might dismiss a 1970-D half dollar, out of hand, as a generic, Modern coin, the well-deserved DPL designation makes this piece both highly desirable and, in fact, a genuine numismatic rarity.

The extremely unusual finish resembles a 1970-S Proof in virtually every way, and the first inclination of the examiner is to assume it is a mislabeled 1970-S Proof. The D mint mark under Kennedy’s bust is the first thing to cause a stir of emotion. Deep, jet black mirrored fields and frosty, partially Cameo devices show over both sides, just like the typical 1970-S Proof. The deep mirrors move substantially beyond what is normally called Prooflike. Only a few coarse polishing lines on the reverse would seem out of place on a real Proof.

NGC slabbed Deep Mirror Prooflike Kennedy half dollar featured in DM Rare Coins blog

A closer inspection of the overall strike, which is not complete like it should be for a Proof, gives a clue to its true nature as a business strike. An examination of the rounded edges, under high magnification, confirms that it is a business strike half dollar and not some type of mysterious, branch mint Proof. Proofs, of course, are struck multiple times to ensure a complete strike, and the edges of Proofs will be fully raised and sharp like a knife, not flattish or rounded, as seen on this piece and all other business strikes.

This incredible coin is definitely a business strike half dollar; but one with Deep Mirror Prooflike surfaces. As such, it is extremely interesting and highly sought by knowledgeable collectors. It is probably one of the first coins to be struck on a freshly polished set of dies, or possibly even a set of retired or unused Proof dies transferred over from San Francisco that year. All five known DPLs may be from this single die, so this really is something unusual. More and more people are becoming aware of Prooflike coins in general; and their ultra-rare siblings, the DPL coins like this 1970-D half dollar, are the cream of the crop.

DM Rare Coins coin photography service images reverse of 1970-D Deep Mirror Prooflike Kennedy half dollar
Normal - Prooflike - & Deep Mirror Prooflike Comparison
Happy Collecting!

DM Rare Coins

March 29, 2017
DM Rare Coins received the Constant Contact ALL Star award for 2016. Thanks for reading our blogs and original articles!

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DM Rare Coins

March 9, 2017

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

March 2017

Rare Herennia Etruscilla Antoninianus

Over-struck on Gordian III


Our featured Coin of the Month is a "Herennia Etruscilla Double Denarius that was over-struck on a coin of Gordian III. A diademed bust of Herennia transposed over a crescent moon is featured on the obverse in Herennia's design. The reverse motif and inscription, "Fecunditas Aug[,] honors Etruscilla as mother of two young princes," Herennius and Hostillian. (6). As a “Flipped-over Over-strike,” it is literally two coins in one, with both sides showing the head of a ruler. Struck and re-struck, roughly a decade apart, this two-headed Roman coin attests to the legacy of both Gordian III (AD 238-244) and Herennia Etruscilla (AD 249-251)."

An anchient overstrike is a cool and rare find, but this piece is very mysterious because the Herrenia Double Denarious was struck over a single Denarius of Gordian III. How could that have happen? Please read our feature-length article:

Ancient Roman Over-strike: Herrenia Etruscilla Antoninianus Over Gordian III Denarius Highlights Pragmatism During Economic Collapse.

"As far as over-struck Greek and Roman coinage goes, it is superb. The surfaces display their original “find patina” and have not been cleaned or stripped like so many other examples from this period. It even shows nice original luster under the attractive toning. Moreover, the Gordian III under-type survived the striking process remarkably well, despite a very sharp, high relief strike of the Herennia design, over-top. The only strike deficiency of note is a gulf between Fecunditas’ knees and feet, where the high relief profile of Gordian III prevented her legs from showing up completely. However, this anomaly was a blessing, enabling the face of young Emperor Gordian III to show through, unscathed, even after almost 2000 years.

Enough of the underlying Gordian III design is visible to clearly identify the face of the young Emperor, and also to see that he is wearing only a crown of laurels atop his head. This is important because the bust of Gordian on a Double Denarius wears a radiate barbed crown; the absence of which confirms that the under-type is strangely only a single Denarius of Gordian III."
Laureate bust used only on Denarius and gold Auria. (Courtesy of Heritage Galleries)
“Diana st[anding] r[ight], holding lighted torch” (9)
(Courtesy of Heritage Galleries)

Footnotes & Bibliography

1) The Roman Imperial Coinage: Gordian III – Uranus Antoninus. Ed. by Harold Mattingly, Edward A Sydenham, C.H.V. Sutherland. Volume 4, Part III. London; Spink and Son, LTD. 1949 (p 10).  https://archive.org/stream/zingadula_20140203/RIC%204-C#page/n45/mode/2up (January 2017)

2) ibid, 113.

3) https://www.britannica.com/biography/Gordian-III






4) RIC, 10.

5) ibid, 127.

6) ibid, 115

7) ibid, 22, 27, 28.

8) ibid, 10-11.

9) ibid, 47.

10) “The weight of the coinage is indicated by the two dated types. It was slight in the months January to July 241, very heavy throughout 241-242, and still heavy in 242-3, again light in A.D. 243-4.” ibid, 10

11) ibid, 10.

12) ibid, 24-25, 27-28.

13) ibid, 25.

All Gordian III coin images used with permission from Heritage Auction Galleries:


Happy Collecting!

DM Rare Coins

February 28, 2017

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

February 2017

Rare 1963 "OBV DIE CLASH" FS-402 Franklin!

1963 Obverse Die Clash/
Die clashed Franklin half dollars that show clash lines on and around Franklin's mouth have become very popular in recent years. Since the 1950s, some of these, and particularly the 1955 pieces, have been referred to as "Bugs Bunny" halves, due to the resemblance to the cartoon character created by the tooth like projections on the lip. In 2012, the Cherrypicker's Guide began to list various other dates, giving these pieces an FS-401 designation. They also created an "Obverse Die Clash FS-402" designation for Franklins with die clashing very near the mouth, but not quite touching or distorting the upper lip. Previously, both classifications had been collected under the term "Bugs Bunny," and collectors hold both designation sin equal regard.

Some dates are very scarce with these designations, and the 1963-P FS-402 is a particularly tough die clash to find, especially in gem condition. It displays an up-side-down L shaped groove, or clash mark, butting up against the lip (a clash of the bottom of the eagle's wing), and a couple intermittent spikes going off at slight angles from the lip (clash lines from the eagles wing feathers).

There are only two certified in gem condition as of this month. The present PCGS CAC MS65 is currently the second finest known example, behind a single MS66. Thus, on paper, it stacks up to be a nice find; but in person, it becomes magnificent, due to the additional bonus of outstanding rainbow toning. Rarely does a gem, 1963 half dollar appear with great color like this, let alone as the second finest example of a scarce variety. It's easy to see why this piece made our February Coin of the Month! This piece is what Franklin aficionados refer to as a home run coin. A scarce variety and a scarce color-coin all wrapped up in one bundle, with a CAC sticker on top.
Happy Collecting!

DM Rare Coins

January 31, 2017

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

January 2017

2017-P Lincoln Cent:

First Philadelphia Cent Ever to

Have a Mint Mark!

2017-P 1 cent is the first Philadelphia cent ever to have a mint mark. Image compliments of DM Rare Coins coin photography service.

Serious collectors will likely remember where they were, and what they were buying, the first time they got a 2017 Philadelphia cent baring a mint mark. It’s one of those life or world view-altering events. There has never been a mint mark on a Philadelphia copper until this year. As the first and only U.S. Mint, for several decades, Philadelphia initially used no mint mark at all; none was needed. As other Mints were created, Philadelphia continued without mint marks until the early 1970s, when a P was added to the nickel, dime, and quarter. Out of tradition, the cent was left plain.

The Mint’s purposeful decision to keep the new P a secret fanned the flames of excitement for some presumably lucky collectors who came across them in early 2017. Hearkening back to the days of the release of the 1955 Doubled Die; which a few collectors reported finding by the roll in 1955; some thought the tall, distinctive P below the date of their shiny new cents was another major error. After all, there had been no official mention of this important modification. Others heard unsubstantiated rumors, online, of 2017 cents with no P and began the search for those, as well. Personally, my first uninformed thought was, “The Philadelphia Mint finally sold out its two-century tradition. How sad.”

In actuality, the Mint, it would seem, added the P in celebration of its 225th Anniversary and purposefully drove this hype by keeping the transformation quiet and monitoring just “how long it would take” for people to notice. Further, according to officials who finally gave up the game to Coin World Magazine on January 13th, the change is only for the year 2017. Thus, 2018 cents will go back to the traditional no-mint mark format. Finally, the modern Mint's practice of adding the mint mark to the master die was reverberated, possibly to quell rumors of With P & Without P varieties. For me, it was just a relief to learn there was a purpose behind this change and that it was not a permanent adjustment. (Gilkes)

With the creation of a one-year type, indeed a once-in-225 years-type, there is bound to be some special interest in 2017-P cents, even if they are made by the billion. High, certified grades of MS68 RD and better, are likely to be sought, even if they are not particularly rare. For that to happen, maybe we will have to wait another 225 years. Still, this is an interesting conversation piece and an entry-level collectible.


Gilkes, Paul. “It’s really true: Cents struck at Philadelphia Mint in 2017 bear P Mint mark.” Coin World Magazine.  January 13, 2017. http://www.coinworld.com/news/us-coins/2017/01/p-mint-mark-added-to-lincoln-cent-for-first-time.html

Happy Collecting!

DM Rare Coins

December 31, 2016

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

December 2016

1971-D Eisenhower Dollar

NGC MS65 Prooflike

Prooflike Eisenhower dollars that qualify for the strict Prooflike designation of NGC are very rare. Until this month, only a few Ikes had been certified as Prooflike, all of which were 1976-D Bicentennials. The present 1971-D Prooflike Eisenhower dollar is a new discovery and the only Prooflike Ike of the non-Bicentennial, regular design that has been certified to date. Its exceptional mirrors and field clarity are to thank.

DM Rare Coins coin photography service captures Prooflike Eisenhower dollar. NGC Prooflike coins must be reflective at 2-4 inches.

The NGC Prooflike population

is as follows:

1971-D: 1

1976-D Type 1: 3

1976-D Type 2: 1

NGC certifies first 1971-D Prooflike Eisenhower dollar. Images courtesey of DM rare Coins coin photography service.

The Prooflike designation awarded to this lonely 1971-D Eisenhower is extraordinary when considering that collectors have long documented the existence of 1971-D Ikes that display unusually glossy surfaces. This body of coins has occasionally been referred to as “Prooflike” by specialists, but none of them have previously made the strict standards of the NGC Prooflike designation. As of this publication, NGC has graded some 2853 Business Strike, 1971-D Ike dollars, and only now has one surfaced in Prooflike. Another interesting metric to examine is the percentage of Prooflike Ikes, across the entire series, including P-Mint, D-Mint, and 40% silver S-Mint coins. NGC has graded 5 Prooflikes out of 74,591 Ike dollars, or just 0.000067%! (NGC)

The present coin is extra special because of its unblemished field texture. To make Prooflike at NGC, a coin needs to have a continuous, highly reflective field surface on both sides. Most of the reflective 1971-D pieces we have seen have demonstrated extreme, mint-made surface interruptions that rendered otherwise-qualified coins incapable of achieving the Prooflike designation. Both planchet tumbling marks and grease strike-through roughness can cause a coin not to designate, and these mint-made anomalies are ubiquitous on Ike dollars. Coins without them are few and far between.

Most of these reflective 1971-Ds still fail to designate, even when the fields are smooth. The reason for this is that most are only semi-reflective and not truly Prooflike. Not only do the mirrors of a true Prooflike have to be unbroken, but they must also show a crisp reflection from between 2-4 inches away from the face of the coin. The mirrors on the majority of observed specimens, blemished or clean, to not achieve this level of depth. The present piece is both clean and deeply mirrored, and that combination was the key to it becoming the first Prooflike 1971-D.

Finally, it is also worth noting that our present Coin of the Month was not only produced with above average qualities, but it also happens to survive in gem condition. Bag marks do not typically preclude a coin from the Prooflike designation, but they can be more distracting on mirrored surfaces than on frosty surfaces, resulting in lower grades than their frosty counterparts might receive with the same surface impairments. This piece made Gem Prooflike; thus the only known Prooflike of 1971-D proves to be a fine representative of this rare issue.


NGC Census: https://www.ngccoin.com/census/united-states/dollars/51/

Happy Collecting!

DM Rare Coins

December 2, 2016

Interesting Question We Recently Answered:

"Hi, I have a 1964 D Type C Reverse Washington quarter that is graded by ANACS and it has FS-902 on the label. What does the FS-902 mean? All of the other 1964 D Type C Reverse quarters that I see graded by other coin grading companies have a FS-901 on the slab labels....(No other coin dealers that I have talked to seem to know.)
Thanks, Jeff"

Hello, Jeff,

This anomaly seems to stem from an error in an earlier edition of the Cherrypicker's Guide. Originally, the FS-901 designation was reserved for the Type B 1964-D quarters that were believed to exist, and so the CPG then used FS-902 for Type C 1964-D quarters. However, in actuality, the Type B reverse appears only on P-mint quarters, and the Type C reverse appears only on D-mint 1964 quarters, so there was no need to use a 902 on 64-D. In the current Cherrypicker’s Guide, the 1964-D Type C has been re-designated as FS-901 (page 216), and the retired 1964-D FS-901 and FS-902 numbers are listed in the index (page 478). 

November 30, 2016

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

November 2016

1976 Washington Bicentennial Quarter

"Monster Rainbow" Clad!
DM Rare Coins coin photography service provides rainbow toned Washington Quarter pictures. Clads with rainbow toning are rare coins.

The clad coinage put out between the 1960s and 1980s has, over many years in sulfurous albums, rolls, and mint packs, now begun to develop patina with some regularity. Collecting colorful examples of clad coinage is a relatively new phenomenon, but it has been made popular by books like Rick Tomaska’s Kennedy half dollar book, which features some colorfully toned, clad Kennedy halves.

From time to time, we have handled some of these colorfully toned clad coins, but we were not prepared to see this one. The featured 1976 clad, bicentennial quarter is, without question, the most gorgeously toned clad coin we have ever seen. We do not use the term “monster” lightly, but I think most would agree that coins of this quality are the reason for that term’s existence in the context of coin collecting.

This sharply struck and satiny gem is lined on both sides with exquisite neon concentric rings of rainbow color. Not to get off on a tangent, but there are some who take offense at the overuse of the term “Rainbow Color,” and it is generally a good thing to keep such modifiers in check. However, the present piece is not only a textbook monster, but also embodies the very definition of rainbow toning.

While this piece is not in our inventory; and frankly, we do not anticipate to be able to locate anything else quite like it in the near future; you should keep on the lookout for colorfully toned clads, yourselves. You may just come across your own monster!

Happy Collecting!

DM Rare Coins

October 26, 2016

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

October 2016

1758 "Goree Taken" Great Britain Medal

Medallic Illustrations 691-415
DM Rare Coins coin photography service provides an image of rare, NGC certified medal that is closely related to Betts medals of the French and Indian War.

"Goree is a tiny island just off the West African coast of Dakar, Senegal. Goree Island was a Dutch plantation until it was captured by the French during their empire-building of the 1670s (Medallic Illustration, 691). With full command of Dakar Harbor, the fortified outpost protected the lucrative shipping trade of greater Senegal. In modern times, it has become associated with the African Slave Trade, but there is debate over what role Goree Island itself played in that ugly business. It was primarily a military instillation in the 18th Century, which helped control the overall trade of Senegal (Wikipedia).

During the Seven Years War and French and Indian War, 1754-1763, the British government became aware of the advantages both of taking Goree from the French, and of holding it for their own benefit."

Read our full, feature length article: Goree Taken 1758: An Obscure British Victory that Changed The Course of History.

The present medal is a rare relic of that global conflict above mentioned, and one that won awards for its design and execution back in the 1750s. And with superb, with smooth, chocolate brown patina and no obvious marks or corrosion, this piece could win awards today for its quality. Few of these Goree Taken medals, and their sister medals, of the Louisberg Taken variety, survive today. This was an obvious choice for our Coin of the Month blog. In fact, it spawned a feature length article.


"The edge of the Goree Taken medallions is lettered with one of two inscriptions. A precious metal copy was given to William Pitt, which read “William Pitt Administring [sic];” another was presented to Admiral Keppel, which read “Augustus Keppel Commanding;” and copper medals were available to the general public with either edge inscription (MI, 691). The present Choice Uncirculated representative, in copper, and possessing the William Pitt Administring edge inscription, is sharply struck and in a remarkable state of preservation for a medal of this era"


Anderson, Fred. Crucible of War. The Seven Years War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766. First Edition. Vintage Books. New York; 2001 (p.305-306).

Betts, Charles Wyllys. American Colonial History Illustrated By Contemporary Medals. Ed. William T. R. Marvin A. M., Lyman Haynes Low. New York, Scott Stamp And Coin Company, Limited, 1894 (p. 185).

Medallic Illustrations of the History of Great Britain And Ireland to the Death of George II. Vol. II. Ed. Edward Hawkins, Augustus W. Franks, Herbert Grueber. London; Longmans and Company, 1885 (p. 688, 691).

Orme, Robert. Winthrop Sargent, M.A., ed. The History of an Expedition Against Fort Duquesne, in 1755; Under Major-General Edward Braddock. Philadelphia; Lippincott, Grambo & Co. for the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1855.

“The World Ablaze: An introduction to The Seven Years War.” Fort Ligonier Museum. 200 South Market Street, Ligonier, PA 15658; 2016. Special thanks to Fort Ligonier, which displays of an exhibit on the campaigns of West Africa and Goree Island, including the original 1760, George III, Governor of Goree appointment.

Wikipedia; Goree. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gor%C3%A9e. October 22, 2016.

Happy Collecting!

DM Rare Coins

September 30, 2016

Dm Rare Coins Coin of the Month!

September 2016

1944-D Walking Liberty Half Dollar

Hand Engraved Designer's Initials FS-901


DM Rare Coins coin photography service illustrates a popular Cherrypicker's Guide variety, FS-901, Walking libert half dollar.

There are several strange varieties that affect the designer’s initials on the beloved Walking Liberty half dollar series. Sometimes the AAW anagram was polished away, creating the popular no AAW varieties. Yet there is another variety that seems even more curious. A single 1944-D reverse die shows a hand-engraved AW and has been recognized with an FS-901 classification by the Cherrypicker’s Guide.

For those who are not familiar with modern minting practices; all the details of the die, from busts, to lettering, to stars or symbols, to designers initials; are impressed into the die steel by a single hub which contains all of those features. Therefore, it makes no sense to have a Walking Liberty half dollar that does not have an AAW. For this reason, and through studies of die state progressions, we know the various “Missing AAW” varieties are the result of the anagram being polished away.

But what accounts for an AAW that is hand-engraved, and quite literally looks like someone hacked it into the die? It could be that the anagram was damaged or filled on the hub that created this die, or that the die was polished and the originally hubbed AAW was weakened such that mint workers decided to strengthen it. In the Mid-20th Century, there are actually quite a few examples of re-engraved design elements on U.S. coinage, including both Proofs and business strike issues. For example, the Cherrypicker’s Guide lists re-engraved tail feathers for some 1950s Washington quarters. The Mint was always trying to get as much life out of the dies as possible. A study of this variety in various die states would be necessary to determine if this die was used prior to the hand engraving, or if it was that way from its creation. The few pieces we have handled seemed to be in a mid to late die state, but earlier impressions could very well exist.

The present example makes our September, 2016, Coin of the Month, not only because of its popularity and intrigue, but also because of its exceptional state of preservation. This variety has proven to be fairly common in lower grades, but this is the only MS66+ graded by PCGS, and there are just 11 finer, all MS67. Thus it is a conditional rarity and a great example to showcase this cool variety.

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

August 9th, 2016

2016-W Gold 100th Anniversary Mercury Dimes:

An Opportunity Missed

DM Rare Coins coin photography service depicts a 100th anniversary Mecury dime certified by NGC.

After examining a few of these widely hyped and, admittedly exciting new coins; and speaking to a few collectors who have also seen the new coins; it is clear that the Mint missed an opportunity with this issue. In this age of remakes, and sequels, it is not surprising that all we can do today is mimic the past. And keeping that in mind, I think many collectors, myself included, actually looked forward to the 2016-W Gold Mercury's as an exciting opportunity. The finished coins, however, are a mere shell of the glory of the original design, and the finish is both distracting and inadequate to display the motifs tastefully.

After I saw a few of these, I predicted, before asking anyone, that Mercury dime enthusiasts would be disappointed to see that the bands on the reverse have been more or less erased on the new design. Mercury dime collectors often look at the bands before anything else, and since these coins do not have splits in the bands, a major element of the original design is missing. However, the bands were not the only features lost. Much of the design has been similarly simplified, stylized, and almost abstracted. The hair lines and feathers on the obverse have become indistinct, where the original design shows crisp features and sharp, beautiful details.
The obverse of a 2016 100th Anniversary Mercury dime certified by NGC is shown, compliments of DM Rare Coins coin photography service.

Some of this blurriness can be traced to the finish of the new coins. The brilliant finish of classic, business strike Mercury dimes has been replaced by a swirling, satin finish of the kind the Mint received ridicule for creating on Mint Sets from 2005-2007. The matte contour shows the very strokes of a sandblaster, dominating the appearance and drowning out the motifs, as they cross over both design elements and fields indiscriminately. A classic Proof finish or even a brilliant finish, like that of the original issue, would have better accentuated the design, by leaps and bounds.

It is easy to see why these coins have slumped in price. One can purchase a perfect 70 (PCGS or NGC) for under $300, today, from a myriad of online sites, due to tepid enthusiasm with the product. Everyone seems to want one until they have it; the bullion aspect is the only thing these still have going for them. Hopefully the Mint will learn from its mistakes as they are putting the finishing touches on the upcoming Standing Liberty Quarter remake; but I'm not holding my breath.

The coin photography service offered by DM Rare Coins has provided an NGC slabbed 2016 100th Anniversary Mercury dime

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

June 15th, 2016

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month

June 2015

1776 Great Britain Maundy 1P:

An Amazingly Small Coin

The pictures are somewhat grainy because they were quick snapshots taken some half a dozen years ago, but they make for a cool comparison, still. It is absolutely amazing that paper thin silver coins can survive from the 17th and 18th Centuries, undamaged, let alone in mint condition. The featured photograph is actually a shot of the 1776 Maundy 1P and a 1942-S Mercury dime, one in each pocket of a 2x2 flip. We originally posted this picture on the NGC forum some years ago, where members were asked to guess what the two coins were. Some observers were sure the top coin was a Morgan dollar and the bottom a Lincoln cent, as the tiny US dime actually looks massive in relation to a Maundy 1P.

It was primarily British copper and Spanish silver that circulated in Early America, and so I personally had never paid close attention to the more obscure British silver coinages, prior to handling this raw, 1776 Maundy silver 1 Penny in-hand. And, while this issue is somewhat of a departure from our normal field of study, the extremely small size and fabulous, choice Mint State condition sparked my interest, nonetheless. It is something every collector needs to see in person.

By the reign of Charles II, the minor denominations of 1 Penny and below were being coined in copper. However, some special issues, such as the Maundy Money, issued as a gift to the Poor, were struck in silver. A complete Maundy set contained four silver coins, from 1P to 4P, and its issue was a popular custom from the Reign of Charles II, onward. After George III, however, Maundy sets became more of a collectable than spending money, and only circulated infrequently.

The extremely small amount of silver that equaled 1 Penny in the 1670s contributed to the extremely unwieldy and diminutive size of the Maundy 1P issue, which remained tiny through the course of its production into the 2000s. Each of the prevailing denominations, 2P, 3P, 4P, are literally 1 penny’s worth larger in weight, so that the next smallest coin, the 2P,  is exactly twice the size of the miniscule 1P.

This coin went on to grade NGC MS63. I believe we picked it up from a coin show dealer for about $35, so it is quite an affordable issue, despite relative rarity. Go out and find one of your own, and marvel at its small size. Make sure you have ample magnification, too. Engravers tended to make rather egregious mistakes on these tiny dies, so there are some cool varieties to look for.

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

May 31, 2016

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month!

May 2016

1739 Admiral Vernon Fort Chagre Medal. Adams FCv-1A

Undocumented Composition: Brass-plated White Metal

This is a pleasing, problem-free example of the issue, which is a Rarity 5 (31-75 known). Sharply struck from fresh dies, on a good planchet, and free of corrosion. Luster in protected fields serves to contrast against the high-relief designs. All the trimmings to make for a pleasing, circulated Admiral Vernon medal. That said, the most interesting thing about this piece; and the reason it has been selected as our Coin of the Month, is because it is made from a previously unknown metallic composition.

The most recent and most comprehensive catalog of Vernon Medals is John W. Adams' 2010 work, Medalic Portraits of Admiral Vernon: Medals Sometimes Lie. This variety, Adams FCv-1-A (Fort Chagre Vernon, Obverse 1, Reverse A) is known to be struck in solid copper, brass, bronze, and gilt copper. The present specimen is actually struck in white metal (probably a low-grade pewter) and plated with copper or brass. While some Admiral Vernon Medals are known in solid pewter, plated pewter is heretofore unknown in the series, and unlisted anywhere in Adams.

At first glance, the plating appears to be copper, with red iridescence in the fields. Underlying pewter shows through on the reverse high points, where the designs have received enough wear to break through and confirm that this piece is not solid copper. However, we think it might actually be a brass plating, for several reasons.

First, the reason to plate a medal would be to produce it more cheaply, and there would be more to gain by plating a pewter medal with golden brass than there would be to plate it in copper. Pinchbeck brass had a distinctive golden hue and was used extensively on Vernon medals to give them the glow of precious metal. However, it was very expensive compared to other metals, and this expense could have lead to experimentation with plated pewter examples, such as the present specimen. Pewter, of course, is a low grade lead and tin mixture that would have ranked at the bottom of the expense chart. Second, the worn obverse designs show clear evidence of the blue-green hue that develops on brass as it oxidizes, due to its zinc alloy. And third, there are a few tiny patches of golden brass still visible on the obverse below Vernon's portrait. Some 276 years ago, this piece very well might have resembled gold, due to its Pinchbeck plating. The proprietary Pinchbeck alloy was known to contain a higher amount of copper than typical brass, and this could help explain the red hues (Adams, 207). This is what real antique brass looks like, home improvement stores!

Whether the plating is copper or brass, a find like this is unusual and exciting. Again, Adams does not speak of any brass-plated pewter Vernon medals, of any design. Of solid pewter medals in general, that they are found only "occasionally" (Adams, 207).  However, in the greater scheme of things, this piece is not entirely unexpected. We know relatively little about who actually produced these medals, let alone the criteria used to determine the standards of metallic composition. This piece does make one wonder how many seemingly solid brass or copper Admiral Vernon medals might actually be plated pewter. If the plating has remained intact, this could be very difficult to determine without advanced scientific equipment. Get out your metal analyzers and specific gravity tests, scientists.


Adams, John W., Dr Chao, Fernando. Medallic Portraits of Admiral Vernon: Medals Sometimes Lie. Gahanna, OH: Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers, 2010. p141, 207.

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins 

May 30, 2016

Remembering all those who died in the service of

our country....

 April 30, 2016

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month!

April 2016

Rare Prooflike War Nickel ~ 1943-S NGC MS66 5FS PL!

Despite strong mintage figures, often into the hundreds of millions, only a handful of the 35% silver War Nickels, issued from 1942-1945, have been found with Prooflike qualities. Most uncirculated War nickels are heavily frosted or very satiny, with nothing resembling Prooflike qualities. That said, it is not possible to say just how many Prooflike War Nickels might have been minted because these coins were workhorses of the economy and most were placed into circulation almost immediately.

The surviving sample that numismatists must rely on consists of only those coins saved at random in uncirculated rolls; and yet, enough were saved that we can still discern a pattern in the appearance of Prooflike coins. As with other denominations during the 1934-1954, Polished Prooflike period (which we have discussed before, at great length), virtually no Prooflike coins are found from the Philadelphia Mint, and a majority emanate from San Francisco. NGC census data reveals that all known, Prooflike War Nickels were struck at San Francisco. 1942-S has a population of 11 coins, with just one in 5 Steps Prooflike. The featured 1943-S date has a total population of four coins in Prooflike, including two in 5 Steps Prooflike. None have been graded for 1944-S, and just one coin has been graded PL for 1945-S, which is not a Full Steps coin. (NGC).

Thus, only three War Nickels are graded 5 Steps Prooflike, and all three happen to grade MS66. The present 1943-S is then tied with a single 1942-S and one other 1943-S as the finest known Prooflike War Nickel. The strike is impeccable, and the steps are sharp. The fields are moderately mirrored with ample watery reflectivity throughout, and the high points are slightly frosted, especially Jefferson's home, Monticello. While the outward appearance of the finish at first seems like a more traditional, smooth, watery Prooflike surface, close inspection does reveal traces of the granite-like striations unique to the 1934-1954 Prooflike ere, simply in a smaller grain.



Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

April 1, 2016

It's Tax Refund Season!

Enjoy a Special Promo from DM Rare Coins!

                  It's Easy!

Purchase $500 in coins from our website in April of 2016 and

Receive a $50 Gift Certificate Coupon to use on a future purchase before 12/31/16.

  • You must mention Tax Promo in the note section of your checkout page.
  • Certificate has no cash value
  • Cannot be combined with any other coupon
  • Valid on future orders only, not valid on current or existing purchases, or negotiated items
  • The minimum order amount must be $50.00 to redeem the certificate (should be easy).

What's not to love about earning $50.00 in free stuff?

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

March 31, 2016

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month!

March 2016

1946-S Prooflike Obverse Walking Liberty Half Dollar

CONECA Doubled Die Obverse DDO-001 Discover Piece

DM Rare Coins shows Prooflike Walking Liberty Half Dollar, also a discovery piece of CONECA Doubled Die Obverse DDO-001. Pictures courtesy of DM Rare Coins coin photography service.

There are many reasons to celebrate the appearance of a coin like this. First, Prooflike Walking Liberty Half dollars are very rare, and the obverse is of the Polished Prooflike type that we have been researching for many years, and about which we have written a couple of articles. Secondly, we sent this piece to CONEA and it became the discovery piece of a new Doubled Die Obverse, Walking Liberty half dollar; 1946 CONECA DDO-001.

This Prooflike Walking Liberty obverse die was paired with a Very Late Die State, heavily frosted reverse die. It seems to have been the MO of the mint workers who employed these mysteriously polished dies to either use them as replacements for well-worn obverses; with no apparent regard for how badly degraded the reverse dies were becoming; or to pair a polished obverse with a polished reverse and make a fully Prooflike coin. That said, we actually have seen a few examples where a polished reverse was paired with a well-used obverse, but that does not seem to have been the norm.

While the gorgeously mirrored obverse earned this coin a Star Designation at NGC, the doubled die is not found in the Cherrypicker's Guide, and so, for the time being, it cannot be recognized on the holder. Such is the case with many great die varieties. 1946-S CONECA DDO-001 shows moderate die doubling, to the south, on the date, the lower drapery edges, and the sandals. We have seen two examples of this issue, and both were similar die states, and both were softly defined in the centers, possibly indicating an improper die spacing. This marriage could not have lasted very long with such a well-worn reverse die, however, the freshly polished obverse, which is the important variety here, could have gone on much longer. It remains to be seen if it can be discovered with a different reverse!

Happy Collection!


DM Rare Coins

March 15, 2016

Intrigue & Mayhem On the Ides of March; i.e.,

 Ongoing Questions About CAC

Our number one, most commonly asked coin question in numismatics today is, "Has this coin been to CAC?" Being almost a decade old, by now, most collectors have heard of CAC, and understand that they are a grading service that, in affect, grades the other grading services. CAC places Green stickers on coins that are solid or High-end for the grade, and Gold sticker's on coins that are grossly under-graded, in their opinion. Grading services have made mistakes over the years, and the second opinion of CAC is mainstream now. Even notoriously rigid eBay recognizes that PCGS CAC and NGC CAC designations are a part of life in coins today.

The inquiries we frequently receive are not regarding how CAC works. Instead, they tend to be either CAC enthusiast, wondering if certain coins have been to CAC; or CAC haters, who wonder why we are promoting CAC. Nope, there's no way out of this one, G. Julius....

Firstly, we specialize in high-end coins. Thus, it is likely that a large percentage of our coins will qualify for CAC stickers. However, we typically offer up our freshly graded coins and other new purchases before they are ever submitted to CAC. It takes time to build a cost-effective submission, and the coins will be unavailable for up to several weeks during the process. Also, CAC has a limited scope and will only except certain coins. For example, CAC will not grade silver Roosevelt dimes, 1946-1964, or silver Proof Washington quarters, 1950-1964. They will however accept Clad Ike dollars, 1971-1978, for grading, but not the Proofs (and no, they do not accept Ancients either).

Secondly, being forced to work within the framework of the current market is not the same as promoting the companies that run the market. Our conservative standards have been in use far longer than CAC's existence. Sometimes we will advertise that we have a large number of CAC coins in stock, and receive actual hate mail from people who are against the CAC concept; "Why are you selling stickers instead of coins," or "it is all a scam that you are perpetuating," are the cries of the disenfranchised senators wielding their sharpened blades. Conversely, if we were simply to refuse to submit to CAC, and therefore force our internet buyers to take our word for it that the coins are high-end, we would only receive hate mail for another reason. "You are either an expert or a liar," is one of my personal favorites.

In summary, the majority of collectors want to know whether or not our inventory coins have been to CAC, and coin grading services, including CAC are an integral part of the coin market today. Whether we like it or not, we all have to live, or die, with that reality.

Happy Collecting....It is supposed to be fun! We sure do get a kick out of it....


DM Rare Coins

February 29, 2016

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month!

February 2016

1663-Y Madrid Mint Spanish 16 Maravedis (with Rossettes) Copper

In the 17th and 18th Centuries, commerce, throughout the world empires of England, France, and Spain, was expected to occur without any reliable quantity of small change. When coppers were produced, the quantities were often inadequate to satiate demand across far-flung colonial outposts. Storied 19th Century British coin collector and author, Hyman Montagu, succinctly spotlighted the problem, that “it had always apparently been considered by the reigning sovereigns that the coinage in the inferior metals was a subject beneath their dignity” (Montagu, xx). The British, in particular, never bothered to strike coppers until the reign of Charles II in 1672, and the largest Spanish copper of the period, the 16 Maravedis, which weighed somewhere between a halfpenny and farthing, was only struck from 1661-1664. Spain increased production during the 18th and early 19th centuries, but it was still inadequate to meet global demand. In fact, just as Spanish silver coinage fueled the global economy of the period, Spanish copper also found its way around the world to fill the well-documented shortages in America. Yet, the role of Spanish copper in America is often forgotten, partly because so few pieces survive.

If anyone has seen the History Chanel’s original series, “The Curse of Oak Island,” they may recall that the team found an early Spanish 8 Maravedi on that Nova Scotia Island. Spanish coppers circulated side by side with British pieces in the Americas and elsewhere. Thus, the featured 1663 16 Maravedi and similar pieces are of broader interest and collectability, outside the realm of coins of Spain, coins of Europe, or etc. They are as much coins of the colonies as they are European. This early copper should then be of great interest to Early American collectors. However, its broad appeal is not the impetus for making it our February 2016 Coin of the Month. That impulse stems from its exceptional quality.

By definition, copper that is around 350 years old is usually not found in good condition, due in part to the toll taken by the elements, but also due to impurities in the metal. The original patina on this piece has protected it from the elements, prevented the typical porosity and corrosion, and this coin had the good fortune of being struck on a choice planchet, of good metal.

The earliest Spanish Maravedi coins were by no means heavily produced, nor were they well-made; and with heavy circulation around the globe, very few survive in problem free condition. Moreover, many of them started out with major flaws. First of all, the dies were hand punched using rather primitive, hand-carved punches. Then the coins were struck using somewhat primitive rocker presses, which did not exert enough pressure to strike the coins completely with a single blow; instead requiring the dies to be rocked around a pivot point in order to impress the entire planchet with a design. By necessity, the planchet had to be made extra thin, (this piece is roughly the thickness and size of a large-size Capped Bust quarter) and the resulting emission comes out with a bowed or slightly conical shape. It is typical for the coins to be very weakly struck, double struck, off-center, or even showing lines of flat strike through the designs, where the dies did not make proper contact. This aggressive striking technique makes it easy to see how such a thin copper planchet might become torn, cracked, or otherwise weakened by a stressful and inconsistent process, especially if veins of impurities were already running through the copper, as was often the case.

With the majority of the surviving pieces of this crude issue coming with planchet defects, environmental damage, and off-center or weak strike, the present example is somewhat remarkable, on a number of levels. A quick search of ebay for 1663 16 Maravedis will reveal a plethora of hits for damaged, corroded, and broken pieces that are not eligible for certification. In fact, the featured example is the only 1663 piece ever to be slabbed by PCGS or NGC, and just a dozen or so have been graded for the entire 1661-1664 emission. Virtually un-collectable due to scarcity, values have stayed extremely low, and the frequency of problem pieces serves as an additional blow to general appeal and interest for these coins. Rare exceptions like the present piece are of special interest and added value, when they can be located.

Specifically, the first aspect that sticks out on our featured 1663 16M is the razor sharp strike and exceptional Philip IV portrait. Every detail if the hair, the mustache, and even the nose and facial contours is fully impressed. The lettering is also razor sharp around the rims of both sides, and the high points are lustrous, almost unworn, and stamped in high relief, with no double strike.

That leads us to this cool coin’s next peculiarity; the strike is very well-centered for the type, such that all of its legends are intact. It seems that when these are not found damage, they are instead well off-center, sometimes by 10%-20%, and much of their appeal is lost. In some instances, it appears that mint workers attempted to avoid a planchet tear or mangled planchet void by striking the coin intentionally off-center, in order to miss the problem, rather than rejecting the planchet. With quality standards such as they were, it should start to become clear why this one is special. 

Finally, the smooth, lustrous, gunmetal patina over the high points reveals choice copper, and the natural green and brown patina in the fields protects the surfaces and also creates a desirable cameo effect between fields and devices.

This un-conserved, untouched piece is a marvel. While finding another one like it seems virtually impossible, surely there are other jewels out there from this crude, early copper series waiting to be had. If you can find them, they will make for an exciting and inexpensive doorway into early colonial history.


Montagu, Hyman. The Copper, Tin And Bronze Coinage And Patterns For Coins of England: From the Reign of Elizabeth To That Of Her Present Majesty (1893). Second Edition. Bernard Quaritch; London. 1893. (p. xx).

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

February 12, 2016

About Our "Coming Soon" Category

On Lincoln's 207th birthday, we sit here anxiously awaiting the completion and return of some 52 coins from PCGS, which have been lingering there for quite some time now. I want to spin this negative into a positive, and take the opportunity to point out our Coming Soon inventory category. Coins that are already graded and are going to be hitting the broadband soon, but which are nevertheless tied up somewhere, are featured hear. Sometimes, you can actually watch as we build a collection into the system before releasing the coins for general sale! We do accept inquiries and requests on Coming Soon coins, so this category really gives you a great first shot at new purchases.

Just look for this thumbnail on our Inventory page:

Regarding the current PCGS orders; sadly, we have one fresh Lincoln cent to feature this month, but many other coin types are coming, and will appear in Coming Soon as grades become available. If you see something in there that looks or sounds (we may not have coin photography available yet) interesting, contact us asap with your questions and/or reservations.

Among the highlights will be:

  • 1853 50C PCGS XF40 DDR FS-801 Seated Liberty Half Dollar ~ Rare & Perfect Original!
  • 1922-S $1 PCGS MS64+ Peace Dollar ~ Lovely Golden Mauve Near-gem!
  • 1951-S/S 50C PCGS MS65FBL RPM FS-501 Franklin Half Dollar
  • 1952 5C PCGS MS65 Gorgeous Two-sided Rainbow Jefferson Nickel
  • 1954 50C PCGS PF67 Gorgeously Toned Proof Franklin Half Dollar
  • Five Rainbow Toned Clad Kennedy Half Dollars!
  • Several more 1970-D DDR Quarters and Dimes in high grades.

Happy Collecting!


DM Rare Coins

January 31, 2016

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month!

January 2016

Rare 1838/8 GR-16 Reeded Edge Capped Bust Half Dollar 

DM Rare Coins features 1838 Reeded Edge Capped Bust half dollar, PCGS CAC XF45 GR-16 RECUT DATE. Just 3 examples have been graded by NGC and PCGS.

The Reeded Edge Capped Bust half dollar series has been something of an enigma. It ran for just about three years (over four dates), and the production quality was decidedly lax. While the surviving coins tend to be well worn, cleaned, or otherwise damaged, it can even be hard to find Mint State specimens that are pleasing to the demanding collector, due to shortcomings in production. Weak strike, misaligned dies, weak rims, and planchet grease streaks are common. The problems seem to be the result of experimentation at the Mint; the introduction of steam power, close collar technology, full design hubs, and a new, smaller diameter all lead to some major kinks, and it appears that the Reeded Edge half dollars were the test subjects used to iron out those problems.

In addition, two major works have been done on this short series to document die varieties, as it is still possible to identify each die, despite the use of a full design hub (which meant it was no longer necessary to hand punch all the stars and letters). There are many individual die varieties known for each Reeded edge date (except the 1836). Jules Riever put out a variety manual in the late 1980s, and his variety numbers had been used on occasion by some auction companies to describe various interesting varieties and die states. More recently, in 2012, the Reiver system was revised and published into an attribution book by Dick Graham; PCGS, NGC, and the auction companies are now actively using Graham-Reiver (GR) numbers to catalog Reeded Edge Capped Bust halves (NGC).

Among these various varieties are two recut dates; despite a full design hub, the dates were still hand engraved with punches. This was a technique to make full design hubs good for more than one year. An 1837/7, known as GR-6, with a recut upper serif is very common. This variety is easily found on the market, often not attributed. Less frequently encountered, and yet more dramatic, is 1838/8 GR-16, with obverse die showing a boldly recut second 8, with a strong loop showing south east of the primary digit. Having searched high and low for an example of this die marriage for study, we are very pleased to have recently handled one of the three example identified by either PCGS or NGC. Thus, our featured Coin of the Month is a choice quality, PCGS/CAC XF45, with glossy, gunmetal grey fields enhanced by beautiful blue and rose wisps over lustrous fields. The production quality is superb, the preservation is excellent, and the variety is rare.

This is an exciting coin. (As an aside, we would like to take a moment to note that the purpose of our blog, and specifically, our Coin of the Month article, is to educate and not to market inventory. We have yet to feature an item that was part of our inventory. It is possible that a current inventory item could make the spot at some point, but it would be duly noted, and that is not the case here. Actually, we rarely handle Reeded Edge Capped Bust halves in our inventory because so few of them are choice. In other words, enjoy the content, because we are not trying to sell you anything!)

The current population of this variety, in all grades, is PCGS: 1, NGC : 2. The featured example is the only piece graded at PCGS, to date. NGC has graded one XF45 and one MS62. Additionally, unlike 1837 GR-6, we have not seen examples of this variety that were not labeled, though surely there are some out there, being that the Graham-Reiver reference is so relatively recent. Yet, it remains elusive.



Graham, Dick. A Registry of Die Varieties of Reeded Edge Half Dollars 1836-1839. author, Frederick, MD, 2012

Reiver, Jules. Variety Identification Manual for United States Reeded Edge Half Dollars 1836-1839. author, 1988


DM Rare Coins

January 27, 2016

Time is running out!

You have just 4 days left to Take 5% Off your web order by reading our blog!

Visit our Inventory and use coupon code DMRCBLOG5 at checkout.

January 24, 2016

New Hoard of 1970-D Doubled Die Reverse

Roosevelt Dimes & Washington Quarters

Reveals Key Diagnostics!

We recently acquired a fascinating and diverse group of high-grade 1970-D Doubled Dies. With many different varieties represented, in a series of different die states, we were presented with a unique opportunity to compare and contrast the notoriously confusing DDR varieties of 1970-D Roosevelt Dimes and Washington Quarters. The comparisons featured the an in-depth article we recently posted on dmrarecoins.com will prove an extremely useful tool for distinguishing between these varieties. Read "The DDRs of 1970-D" Now!

Now that we have finished with them, and being that you now know the differences between them, we will be offering them up on the market, and you may be interested in acquiring some of them. We will be offering a number of high-grade pieces over the next few months. A few of them have already been posted to our inventory, a few more have already been sold, but more coins are coming back from PCGS in the next two weeks.



DM Rare Coins

January 8, 2016

Deal Alert!

Enjoy A 5% Off Coupon For Reading Our Blog!

Just use coupon code DMRCBLOG5 at checkout!

Reading the DM Rare Coins Blog has its benefits! We try to fill our posts with informative mini-articles; and hopefully, you are finding them interesting! And now, through the end of January, 2016, we are offering 5% off just for checking them out! However, you must use the coupon code; how else would we know you read it?

DM Rare Coins blog offers information on rare coins, PCGS, NGC, and CAC certified coins, Betts Medals, Prooflike coins, Bust halves, and many other specialties.

December 31, 2015 

DM Rare Coins Coin of the Month!

December, 2015

1876 Misplaced Date Seated Liberty Quarter, New Discovery!

This 1876 NGC certified Seated Liberty Quarter shows a misplaced date that is missing form the Cherrypciker's Guide and other references.

We know what you're thinking, another Seated Liberty makes the December coin of the month. That's two in a row, after the 1853 DDR was featured in November. This quarter was selected because it turns out to be a new discovery, and it is now slated for inclusion in the next Seated Liberty Variety book. The coin is being sent to Kevin Flynn for examination as we speak, and Larry Briggs has already examined the piece.

Seated Liberty, Misplaced Date coins are extremely interesting, as it appears the engravers responsible for applying the number punches to the already-hubbed dies (a topic discussed in more detail on the 1853 DDR post) liked to play around with those punches quite a bit. A number of Seated Liberty issues show arrant digits hidden in rocks, and drapery folds, and dentils.

As for 1876 quarters, an unusually large number of Philadelphia dies seem to have been affected by misplaced digits. Perhaps the engravers were excited for the Centennial celebrations that year and got carried away. A more likely excuse for defacing dies, one that Kevin Flynn has suggested to us, is that the workman needed a place to rest the number punch as they lined up, and they never intended for these anomalies to be found.

At any rate, no less than seven Misplaced Dates have now been found for 1876 Seated Liberty quarters. With numbers like that, they might seem like they would be easy to find; and a few of them have made there way into the Cherrypicker's Guide; but the individual varieties seem to be quite scarce. Some have been given a Rarity-7 rating in specialty publications. The problem of scarcity is further compounded when looking for nicer grades, which are necessary in order to not only identify, but also appreciate these delicate varieties, in the first place.

The featured 1876 Misplaced Date variety clearly shows the top serif of a 7, hidden within the dentils below the date. It doe snot match any other variety yet published. Had it been a lower grade, this feature might have been worn off, altogether.


DM Rare Coins

December 14, 2015


DM Rare Coins' coin photography service discovered rare overstruck medal. Our coin photography service specializez in quality photos of rare coins and medlas and high-resolution close-ups of cherrypicker's guide varieties and other rare coins.

Sometimes a good way examine a coin is through coin photography. Small details can be hard to see under a glass for more than a couple seconds, and sometimes when we photograph a coin, especially one that is not ours, we will notice things that were not immediately apparent, in hand. We recently shot a beautiful Christian Gobrecht, Franklin Institute medal for a customer. While editing the pictures, we noticed a ghost-like image under the imposing, high-relief lettering on the reverse. We pulled the medal back out and took a closer look: beneath AWARDED, were traces of the phrase "REWARD OF SKILL" in a smaller font. This medal was overstruck on a Reward of Skill and Ingenuity medal! Sure enough, the obverse also showed traces of the overstrike as well. Faint ovals dotted the left field; remnants of the hand-engraved, cursive wording on the originally crafted Reward of Skill and Ingenuity under-type. This means the original medal had been both struck and the finishing touches added before being discarded. Perhaps a mistake was made in the hand-engraving and it had to be rejected. Or, perhaps the reward had been revoked prior to presentation. We pointed out this cool find to the owner, who also had not noticed the overstrike. A medal worth perhaps a few hundred dollars is now a unique overstrike with an interesting, albeit unknowable story to tell.


DM Rare Coins

November 30, 2015


November 2015

1853 Doubled Die Reverse FS-801 Seated Liberty Half Dollar

DM Rare Coins features 1853 DDR FS-801 Seated Liberty half dollar. Our Coin photography Service has captured crisp images of the doubled die.

This Doubled Die Seated Liberty Half Dollar remains quite rare and desirable, in any condition. And, as one of the earliest Doubled Die half dollars, it is an exciting find, and a worthy selection for our Coin of the Month spot.

A die is created when a design hub (a raised, steel impression of a coin design) is pressed into the softened die steel to impart an incuse design in to the surface. Before a single squeeze technique was developed by the U.S. Mint in the early 2000s, the hub was often pressed multiple times into the die, in order to bring up the complete design; and Doubled Dies result when the hub turns and the multiple impressions do not line up exactly. Doubled dies show most readily on fine details, such as lettering.

Until the 1840s, most dies manufactured by the U.S. Mint were made principally by hand. A hub containing only the major central design elements was used. Then all the lettering had to be hand punched. Then the die was hand tooled to perfection. This procedure has made Doubled Dies unheard of on Early U.S coinage. But in the late 1830s and into the 1840s, minting techniques were advancing to the point where a complete design hub became standard, and less hand work was necessary. Most hubs included all features accept the date, which was still to be hand punched. (This explains the vast number of re-punched dates listed in the Cherrypicker’s Guide). Doubled Dies started appearing in small numbers.

Only a handful of Doubled Dies are listed in the Cherrypicker’s Guide from the early period, the earliest is probably an 1838 DDR Seated Liberty Dime, and an 1841 DDO Seated Liberty Quarter, and just a few other dies from the late 1840s. While the phenomenon was just starting to become prevalent, it was particularly scarce on larger coins. On half dollars, only two Doubled Dies are listed in the 1840s. The next Cherrypicker’s Guide listings appear in 1853, when the Seated Liberty Half Dollar saw 3 major Doubled Dies. The most dramatic of the three, and perhaps the most dramatic Doubled Die of the Seated Liberty Half Dollar series to this point, is the 1853 DDR FS-801.

The featured example of this rare variety, which was just certified and placed on the PCGS population report this week, is just the 16th piece to be certified, between PCGS and NGC. The Cherrypicker’s Guide notes that the variety shows “a counter clockwise spread on UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, but very little doubling elsewhere” (Fivaz, Stanton, p.252). The doubling on USOM is quite bold, but it is unfair to say that little doubling shows elsewhere; the talons, olive leaves and berries, arrow heads, shafts and veins, the eagles lower feathers, and the word HALF all show moderate doubling. Slight doubling is also visible on the beaded border and sun rays. The doubling is more extensive than that seen on either the 1842 DDR FS-801 or the 1847 DDR FS-101 which came before it; and the other two varieties from 1853, FS-802 and FS-803.


DM Rare Coins

November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving from DM Rare Coins!

DM Rare Coins thansk our customers and offers occasional discounts on rare coins and coin photography.

As the Thanksgiving, extra-long weekend begins, we want to wish everyone a great holiday, filled with fun, food, and entertainment from family and friends.

We also want to offer you a special 6% Off coupon on web orders placed between Wednesday 11/25/15 and Monday 11/30/15, Cyber Monday….Mainly because we will not be able to ship any orders out during this time. We already lowered many prices this month on older inventory, which means you are getting a double discount this holiday weekend!

Visit our Online Inventory here ~ Use Promo Code: TURKEYDAY6


DM Rare Coins

November 25, 2015

The NGC STAR Designation is NOT Just About Eye Appeal

DM Rare Coins specializes in Prooflike coins, and coins with the NGC Star, as well as NGC/CAC and PCGS/CAC coins. This 1955 Proof Franklin half dollar has a Cameo obverse and the NGC Star.

The NGC STAR designation is a great feature developed by NGC to serve essentially as an asterisk next to the grade to denote a special characteristic, i. e., something that sets the coin apart from the typical example. NGC has defined strict parameters on how a coin earns the STAR. However, a constant theme on dealers’ websites, and with collectors posting coins in various forums, is that the “NGC STAR designation was awarded to my coin for great eye appeal.” Yet, there are actually two major categories into which STAR coins fall, and one of them has nothing to do with eye appeal.

Most people equate the STAR with rainbow toning, and NGC states that the STAR is used for coins with “exceptional eye appeal.” Bright rainbow color with the absence of dark spots and muted luster is what they are looking for when it comes to toners. However, many coins are given STARs due to PL, DPL, CAMEO, or ULTRA CAMEO qualities, showing on the obverse only. The STAR, in these cases, notes the coins’ exceptional finish characteristics. This is clearly defined by NGC in their rules for the STAR. Moreover, this use of the STAR seems to be more common than those given simply for eye appeal.

Granted, many one sided Prooflike coins actually look fabulous, but “eye appeal” was not always the reason for the STAR designation. In fact, one could have a coin with decidedly ugly toning get the STAR due to a Prooflike obverse. Watching for the advertisements that “the NGC STAR designation was awarded to this coin for great eye appeal” is a great way to see who knows their stuff when it comes to Prooflike coins and Cameos. More often than not, it’s a one-sided Cameo Franklin or a DPL Obverse Morgan dollar, or etc., which they are selling.

These STAR coins can be quite popular when properly identified. As an example, one expects a high grade Franklin Proof to have great eye appeal; but when you realize the STAR is telling you the coin has an ULTRA CAM obverse, and that particular coin happens to be rare in full ULTRA, the STAR designation takes on a whole new meaning. A “STAR CAMEO” Franklin Proof will typically sell somewhere between the value of a CAMEO and an ULTRA CAMEO, when properly described. IN fact, sometimes they go for very close to the ULTRA price.

The description is the key, and knowing that the STAR designation is more than just eye appeal is yet another opportunity for the coin enthusiast to beat the so-called experts at their own game, by knowing their stuff!


DM Rare Coins

November 12, 2015

Avoid Costly Grading Mistakes: Make “Wheel Mark” Detection Habitual

DM Rare Coins Blog features 1960-D Franklin half dollar with a wheel mark, which will cause a no-grade at PCGS, NGC, and CAC. A graded wheel mark coin will not make PCGS/CAC or NGC/CAC.

How many times have you found what you thought was a really great coin, only to have it return from PCGS, NGC, or even CAC, as “Wheel Mark” or “Counting Wheel Damage?” Many numismatists assume that a wheel mark is that circular scratch you sometimes see on pocket change (which are caused by coin wrapping machines), and so they completely miss the real culprit of this dreaded No-Grade label. A wheel mark is much more subtle, but insidious, as it affects numerous 20th Century coins, even some of those that have been certified as problem free. The actual cause is the rubber wheel of a counting machine. Instead of gripping the coin and flinging it through, the wheel catches and skids across the surface of a coin, leaving a patch of micro-scratches in its wake. This will look like a tightly formed series of fine hairlines.

Wheel marks can be extremely heavy or extremely light. Some coins will grade with mild wheel marks (especially if the graders miss them), and others do not have a prayer. Often, the mark will be square, rectangular, or even triangular, depending on how well the skidding wheel makes contact with the coin’s surface. These marks will often be caked with grease from the well-oiled machinery, creating a noticeable discoloration that can conceal the hairlines, just like toning. If you see a shape like this on a coin, you will now know to look carefully beneath it, tilting the coin at many angles (that’s how you look at a coin anyway, I hope), to make sure it’s not a wheel mark.

If a wheel-marked coin is brilliant, it will often come back from PCGS, NGC, and even CAC, as “Cleaned.” This can confuse the novice, and even the savvy numismatist, alike. The problem is that fully brilliant coins with a wheel mark will not show the tell-tale grease mark, but rather, only the hairlines, which can look quite a bit like cleaning hairlines. Sometimes it is simply easier for PCGS and NGC to label the coin as “Cleaned,” rather than make the final determination as to what caused these damaging hairlines. Of course, a “Cleaned” designation can be perplexing to someone who just pulled the coin out of a Mint Set, but about 10 times out of 9 (!), in this case, the culprit is a wheel mark. Regardless whether or not they used the right terminology to describe it on the label, the coin was rejected for a valid reason.

Sometimes PCGS and NGC will make the call to certify a mildly wheel-marked coin with a numerical grade, but CAC will later reject the coin due to the wheel mark. It must be understood that vast numbers of mid-20th Century coins have some degree of wheel mark on them from these terrible counting machines. And, because they vary in shape, size, color, and position, there is a great deal of subjectivity over how much of a mark is acceptable on a “problem-free” coin. Thus, the grading services can differ in their opinions.

It will behoove you to double-check all potential pick-ups, both raw and certified, to find those wheel marks before you make your purchases.


DM Rare Coins

DM Rare Coins photography service demonstrates a wheel mark versus a rolling machine scratch on Washington quarters and Franklin half dollars.

October 31, 2015


October 2015

1970-S/S Prooflike Lincoln Cent

DM Rare Coins blog features prooflike Lincoln Memorial cent. A rare coin that does not fit the period. Though missing from the Cherrypicker's Guide, it's also a CONECA Top-100 RPM. Our coin photography service has captures the NGC slab with Prooflike designation and RPM label.

While this RPM is a fascinating die variety, which itself could have earned it a spot on Coin of the Month, the reason this piece was chosen is because of its deeply Prooflike surfaces. It takes a strong mirror-like finish to earn a Prooflike designation at NGC (PCGS does not use PL, outside of Morgan dollars and Modern commemoratives), and this 1970-S is the only Prooflike Lincoln cent certified between 1943 and 1987, and it is the only Prooflike Bronze Lincoln cent ever graded.

Prooflike Lincolns have always been elusive. Production began in 1909, replacing the Indian Cent. The typical finish of a Lincoln Wheat Cent, and also a Lincoln Memorial Cent, is a thick satiny matte texture. No Prooflike Lincoln Wheat Cents were made until a fluke in 1943, when a handful of Steel cents were produced from polished, Prooflike dies. NGC has certified just 10 of these 1943-S steel cents as Prooflike, to date.

The next instance of a Prooflike cent came some 27 years later, with this featured 1970-S/S, and it is presumed to be quite a rare find. Again, “deeply mirrored” is the opposite of what a Lincoln Cent typically looks like, and the coins of the 1960s and 1970s, in particular, are typically satiny and grainy in comparison to issues of the 1980s, when the composition changed to copper-plated zinc. Thus, a Prooflike 1970-S cent runs completely contrary to the norm. And, in regards to this specific die marriage, our analysis of multiple examples indicates that the mirrored surfaces eroded very quickly. First the reverse lost its reflectivity, then the obverse followed suit. Soon, both sides changed to a semi-glossy luster. The deep watery mirrors on the featured specimen indicate that it must have been among the first dozen or so strikes from new dies.

Until the discovery of this piece in 2015, no Prooflike cents were known between 1943 and 1987, and no bronze Prooflikes had ever been graded. In the latter year, the Mint began an overhaul of its quality control. The general quality of coinage had become extremely low; coins of the early to mid-1980s were typically struck with rough, uneven surfaces, from dies that were worn out. In 1987, however, the Mint began chrome plating dies, and this changed the appearance of the coinage drastically, lending the coinage a smooth, glossy sheen. The changes made Prooflike Lincoln cents, as well as Prooflike examples of other denominations, a more frequent occurrence. NGC has certified one 1987-P cent in Prooflike, as well as one 1988-P, one 1989-P, four 1989-D, and one more in 1990-P. Indeed, Prooflike cents have been popping up in small but regular numbers ever since; and today, while they are still a relatively scarce occurrence, one would not be taken aback to encounter a modern Prooflike Lincoln, as was the case with finding this bronze 1970-S/S.

Between the dates of 1909 and 1987, only 11 Prooflike Lincoln cents are currently known to exist. 10 of those are steel cents dated 1943-S; the 11th coin is this singular 1970-S/S RPM Lincoln Cent in bronze. It is truly a remarkable coin, not only because of the variety, but more so because its finish runs completely contrary to that seen in many decades of the Lincoln Cent series.


DM Rare Coins

October 21, 2015

Coin Collecting Is More Than Money

We recently helped an elderly, life-long coin collector divvy up his collection to split among his three grandchildren, now in their 30s. The collection was substantial, but the most interesting piece, in our opinion, as well as in that of the new owner, was a well-worn, low-grade, George V, British Penny. The grandson had actually given this very coin to the grandfather, almost 30 years prior. The grandfather saved and cataloged his collection so meticulously that this two dollar British penny could be provenance back to that fateful transaction, three decades prior. Not only was the rediscovery of this piece a sentimental moment for the grandson and the family, but it also demonstrates that part of the fun of collecting is not in the value of a coin, but in the relationships fostered through collecting, in the fun of putting together sets, and in keeping track of one’s progress with proper records.

The family told me they were fascinated by the ornate details on this coin, now over 100 years old, and even more shocked that it was only worth a few dollars, if that. I explained to them that these were saved in gem uncirculated condition, and some numismatists would even argue that the prices on those gems are rather weak in today’s world coin market. But I also suggested that this coin could be a gateway for the family to continue the rich legacy of coin collecting that the grandfather was passing down to them, but without the inconvenience of spending lots of money.  I explained that this is a rare instance where you can put together a virtually complete set of old and very interesting coins—each piece for the price of a cup of coffee—and yet, each coin holds incredible history within (if only our coins could tell us where they’ve been). I had them going with this, until I suggested that the next logical step would be to collect older issues, perhaps by ruler, and that it would only be a matter of time until they wanted to collect some of the similar looking halfpence that circulated in colonial America. It’s amazing that the allegorical figure of Britannia has not changed much over the centuries (too much information for beginning collectors).

Fortunately, I also pointed out how convenient the grandfather’s diligence had proven to be, for all of us. Every coin was properly documented upon its accession into the collection, and splitting things up was in tern simplified. So many collectors have few or no records of their collections, and I wonder if some of them are missing out on the residual excitement that can come with the hobby. Simple documentation can help one appreciate the coins they already have, rather than exclusively relying on the thrill of the hunt for excitement. Over time, documenting can lead to researching, which can then lead to learning about the origin of coins, and how they ultimately came into being. Granted, not every collector can be a serious numismatist; but this collector was on his game, and his modest recording of information provided a priceless moment of intrigue and nostalgia for the family, 30 years later.

This is a reminder to collectors that sometimes the dollar value of a coin is irrelevant in terms of satisfying the collecting bug; and that a careful, thoughtful approach to collecting can create its own rewards down the road.


DM Rare Coins

DM Rare Coins Blog offers rare coins articles, sotries and anecdotes. We focuss on Prooflike coins, Betts Medals, NGC and PCGS grading service questions, Cherrypicker's Guide varieties,