serving the numismatic rare coins community since 1989.
Design proposed by General Lafayette for the American Flag with a green stripe to honor
the more than half of Washington's troops who were Irish or Irish-American. The early U.S. Navy
had so many Irish that official orders were written and spoke in Irish not English. In England
the Revolutionary War was called "The Irish Uprising in the American Colonies".
List Price: $15.99
Sale Price: $11.99
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Welcome to the 48th edition of "Blackbook Price Guide to United States Coins 2010". This updated guide features a dramatic number of price changes due to the volatile market of 2008. The upsurge of the bullion markets saw silver push towards the lofty $20 level, gold set new price records at over $900, and platinum surpassed the $2,000 mark. Still of greater significance a sharp financial downturn affecting not only the U.S. but most of the world hit in the last quarter of 2008. Surprisingly, the first area of the coin market which seemed to be affected by the developing financial news was the notable increase in the demand for bullion coins. A number of people losing faith in traditional banks felt the need to physically own metals and the extremely low interest rates only added more reason to convert funds in tangible time tested bullion coins. The rising demand has caused the premiums on all bullion related U.S. coins to rise well over their melt values with the common uncirculated silver eagle now bringing $5.00 over melt.
The U.S. Mint released the Hawaii quarter as the fifty state quarter program, originally conceived by Harvey Stack of the venerable auction firm Stacks in New York City; reached its completion universally recognized as the most popular commemorative coin series of all time. Oklahoma started the year with its avian design of the aptly named scissor-tailed flycatcher, followed by New Mexico's enhanced map motif. Arizona's design depicting the sun low in the sky over The Grand Canyon with a large cactus in the foreground clearly ranks artistically with any of the nature inspired themes used on the quarters. The same claim could also be made of the next issue Alaska's displaying a powerful grizzly bear catching a salmon. Who would have guessed the state's governor would have been one of two candidates in the 2008 elections born after Alaska achieved statehood? Hawaii's quarter uses three languages on its reverse with its translated motto, "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness" appearing in Hawaiian and the design harkens back to its pre-American native king. Instead of focusing on an American ideal or leader Hawaiians may not have to wait so very long to witness a coin featuring a Hawaiian who becomes an American president. Overall the well executed Hawaiian design is a worthy coin to end the series. Of all fifty designs the one which continues to stand alone as the highlight of the series in terms of artistic merit and historical importance would have to be the impressive vision of Washington leading his troops across the Delaware River on Christmas morning shown on the New Jersey quarter.
As the ten year quarter program has now drawn to a close some may view this as a good time bracket to re-examine the modern coin market while others may be able to think back as far as 1968 to draw some comparisons. Hopefully, younger readers will be entertained enough to draw a bit of hobby lore from this look back. 1968 saw the re-introduction of U.S. proof sets only this time they featured the S mintmark and were offered in hard plastic cases at the new higher price of $5.00! The uncertainty of demand caused the Mint to limit production to the just over three million sets issued with checks returned to many whose orders went unfulfilled. A brief period of rising prices allowed many to sell off extra sets at a nice profit that same year. Much of the numismatic activity in the late 1960's still centered around proof sets with 1964 sets rising from the $2.10 issue price up to $25, back down to $6.50, then by 1968 back up to $13. These numbers were actually less turbulent than was seen on the swings of the 1950-D nickels but nonetheless were a sign of a very active market. This was in spite of the national news causing concern and fears over the economy being able to meet growing U.S. commitment in Viet Nam. Coin dealers back in 1968 questioned the uncertainty of the dollar's value as it had become "silver free" coupled with the end of the profitable period of silver certificate redemption ending. Major dealers of the era looked anxiously at the now long forgotten Rio Conference of 103 nations to try to predict gold prices and the devaluation of the pound aftermath. Just as Stacks has in recent years sold the tremendous collection of John Ford for more than fifty million dollars collectors of forty years ago were also astonished to witness the disposal of the great collection held by the eminent Francis Cardinal Spellman who passed away in 1967. L.S. Werner had a large portion of the collection for sale at $500,000. While Israel was celebrating its 20th anniversary in 1968 after a brief war we have again just witnessed Israel defending itself in late 2008. In retrospect; regardless of the severity of news either national or international in scope collectors have been able to enjoy their coin hobby so as we go forward in this new Blackbook lets look at a few other numismatic happenings of the past year which held the collecting public's attention.
The Lincoln cent should once again enter the limelight in 2009, the 200th anniversary of popular president's birth, is marked with four new designs after the last fifty years with the Lincoln Memorial reverse and the previous fifty depicting the wheat ears. The new scenes will show Lincoln's early years in Kentucky, his formative life in Indiana, his Illinois career start, and finally his presidency. The entire series is expected to attract considerable attention with red specimens minted before 1934 being on many advanced collectors want lists along with the 1955 double die errors. Early American aficionados witnessed a number of rare federal and pre-federal colonial pieces garnering major interest.
In fact the finest of the four known "Strawberry Leaf" 1793 Wreath cents was sold by Stacks for $862,000 thus more than doubling the price it had realized just four years previously at another Stacks/ANR auction.
Better quality type coins are actively sought with a limited supply in most dealers' inventories. It is this desire to locate coins which has aided the growth of business activity on the internet. Novice collectors should be wary of any websites from China offering coins for sale due to the vast amounts of fakes being produced there. Numbers of collectors and dealers are now scouring several newer sites such as Craig's list for coins and Goodsavers.com for coupons to save on numismatic books and supplies. Public auction sales continued to be the primary source of newsworthy rarities entering the market in 2008. Among the most famous coins sold were the original 1804 dollar in NGC Proof 62 which realized $3,737,500 in the Central States Auction and the rare 1870-S Seated $1.00 graded XF 40 by NGC in the same auction which brought $805,000.
With the fifty state quarter program now completed collectors will now have this year to witness the release of six new quarter designs featuring the American territories. First to be issued will be the Washington, DC with the image of Duke Ellington. Puerto Rico, Guam, American Somoa, the Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands will follow at two month intervals.
The silver eagle series received an unexpected boost when it turned out that an estimated 47,000 of the 2008-W burnished finish coins featured the 2007 reverse by mistake. The easily spotted difference can be determined by the shape of the letter "U" which is plain on the 2007 but should have a spur at the bottom right on the 2008's. These eagles were sold directly by the U.S. Mint at $25.95 and those with the 2007 reverses wound up being touted in full page hobby publications for as high as $899 for NGC MS 70 coins. Other 2008 Mint issues such as the Louisa Adams 1/2 oz presidential spouse coin had a continued low mintage of 20,000 proof and 20,000 uncirculated and therefore remained a bit obscure. 2009 will see the new release of the 1 oz gold ultra high relief a highly anticipated design which is expected to meet with solid support.
In the gold collecting arena one story of importance was the sale of coins recovered from the shipwreck, SS New York, found in 2007 off the Louisiana coast. Professionally conserved and smartly marketed the find included many better date $2 1/2s and $5.00s from Dahlonega and New Orleans in exceptionally choice condition. The ensuing publicity treasures from recoveries generates always seem to benefit the hobby.
As the U.S. dollar remained weak against the Euro in 2008 there was increased competition for choice examples of U.S. Philippine coinage as this series is quite popular with both American and world coin buyers. Since a great many coins were cleaned in the past by beginning collectors in the humid archipelago and few were able to store away coins at the time of issue there are only a limited number of coins able to qualify for PCGS or NGC holdering. Locating any one of the keys in top quality such as the 1918-S 5 Centavo mule or a 1906-S uncirculated Peso would be a rara avis indeed.
No doubt collectors will have much to watch throughout the year so keep your new 2010 Blackbook guide handy as you enjoy your numismatic pursuits.
Tom Culhane, a coin dealer since 1979, operates his coin store at 954 Stuyvesant Avenue, Union, NJ 07083 and the web site www.rarecoin.com He is also a grading consultant who spent more than ten years working with the two major services PCGS and NGC as well as at Stacks, the New York auction firm. The television program Jeopardy! has consulted with Culhane to verify numismatic questions. He is a member of several numismatic organizations and an authorized dealer with the major grading services. Culhane has been the design proposer for two U.S. Commemorative Postage Stamps: Irish Immigration and the James Cagney stamp
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