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Gerald Tebben

Five Facts

Gerald Tebben

Gerald Tebben, a Coin World columnist for more than 30 years, also contributes to Coin World’s Coin Values and edits the Central States Numismatic Society’s journal, The Centinel. He collects coins that tell stories.

Coin World’s bloggers are not edited by Coin World’s editorial staff and blog posts reflect the views of the individual author.

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Archive for 'March 2016'

    Red Book 70th anniversary: The 1903-O Morgan silver dollar

    March 30, 2016 1:32 PM by

    R.S. Yeoman's venerable “Red Book,” in its 70th edition this year, gets better over the years. Some changes serve as markers for collectors of the books.

    Red Book 70th anniversary: The 1903-O Morgan silver dollar

    The 1903-O is an incredibly important coin in the history of Morgan dollar collecting. From its minting to the early 1960s, it was the star of the series. Q. David Bowers estimates, in his Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia, that fewer than 10 uncirculated pieces were known before October 1962, when the Treasury Department released bags and bags of them.

    Bowers estimates 200,000 or more uncirculated 1903-O dollars exist today. Before the Treasury release, the coin cataloged for $1,500, more than any other Morgan. The price fell off a cliff in 1963, dropping as low as a reported $7. Today the coin lists in Coin World’s Coin Values at $450 in MS-63. The value and the demand for the coin are in no small part based on its fabled history.

    The coin also serves as a way to distinguish the rare first print run of the first edition of A Guide Book of United States Coins from the more common second printing.

    In November 1946, 9,000 copies of the 1947-dated Red Book were printed. A paragraph below the Morgan dollar listing ambiguously reads, “270,232,722 silver dollars were melted under the Pittman Act of April, 1918, 259,121,554 for export to India, and 11,111,168 for domestic subsidiary coins, which probably accounts for the scarcity of this date.”

    In February 1947, an additional 22,000 copies were printed to meet unexpectedly strong demand for the title. The Morgan dollar paragraph was altered to eliminate the ambiguity. The ending phrase “scarcity of this date” was changed to “scarcity of 1903 O.”

    The Red Book’s “Valuation Guide for Past Editions of the Red Book” lists the first printing at $1,700 in new condition and the second printing at $1,600.

    The first edition lists the 1903-O dollar at $110 in Uncirculated. That was $10 more than the next most valuable coin, the 1893-S. The 1895 Proof is listed at $35. (The edition also lists the 1895 in Uncirculated at $6, though none exists.)

    About 10 years ago, Whitman Publishing Co. reissued the first printing of the first edition. It lists at $17.95 and is still available from the publisher and supply houses.

    Red Book 70th anniversary: A look back

    March 24, 2016 4:10 PM by

    A Guide Book of United States Coins by R.S. Yeoman, the venerable “Red Book,” enters its well-deserved 70th edition this year. The 1946 foundation was strong and durable; every edition since has stayed true to its basic format – a retail price guide and numismatic primer.

    It remains inexpensive, accessible and definitive.

    Readers over the decades learned not only the current price of the coin they were interested in, but a bit of its history and, in some cases, the rationale for producing it. First editor Yeoman was as much interested in the educational aspects of collecting as the financial.

    The book has served an astounding four generations of collectors. And while its print run is diminished from its all-time high of 1.2 million in 1965, it remains true to its origins and delivers an ever-improving product to collectors year in and year out.

    The Red Book is an incredible first point of contact for most collectors. People who pick up an odd coin in circulation or stumble across a tin can of gold go to it first to figure out what they’ve got and what it’s worth. The book whets the appetite of the curious and encourages them to explore the hobby further.

    During the next five weeks, I’m going to look at five changes in the book over the years, some typographical, some based on new scholarship, all changes that made the book a better product or serve as a marker for collectors of the books themselves.

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    U.S. coinage shaped by war: Vietnam

    March 11, 2016 3:26 PM by

    We end a five-part look at the way war has shaped America’s coinage with a look at a commemorative coin to honor those unfortunate soldiers who died in the jungles of Vietnam.

    Part five: Vietnam

    The Vietnam War saw one of the biggest changes ever in United States coins, but the changes had nothing to do with the war.

    At the same time American involvement in the South East Asian war was escalating from just a few hundred soldiers in 1959 to more than half a million in 1968, the price of silver was also rising.

    Rising demand, especially in the photography industry, pushed prices above 90 cents in 1956 and over $1 in 1961. The death warrant for silver coinage was signed Sept. 1, 1963, when silver hit $1.293 — the point at which a silver dollar contained a dollar’s worth of silver.

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    In 1965, the Mint ceased production of 90 percent silver dimes, quarter-dollars and half dollars. Some silver would remain in the half dollar through 1970, as U.S. involvement started to wind down.

    Our current clad coinage began during the Vietnam War and continues to this day.

    Twenty-one years after the last American left Vietnam, the United States produced one of the most democratic coins ever made to commemorate those who lost their lives in war — the Vietnam Veterans Memorial silver dollar.

    The 1994 coin shows a portion of Panel 3-East of The Wall, recording some of the deaths of Nov. 15 and 16, 1965. Most of the men whose names appear on the coin fell during the Battle of Ia Drang.

    Of 21 discernible names on the commemorative silver dollar, 17 men died at Ia Drang. Sixteen of those 17 died during the 16-hour battle in and near a football-field size clearing called Landing Zone Albany. The battle was the subject of the 1992 book and 2002 movie We Were Soldiers Once ... And Young. Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (Ret.), who commanded the 1st Battalion, 7th cavalry in the battle, and author Joseph L. Galloway wrote the book.

    “The Ia Drang campaign was to the Vietnam War what the terrible Spanish Civil War of the 1930s was to World War II: a dress rehearsal; the place where new tactics, techniques and weapons were tested, perfected and validated,” Moore and Galloway wrote in the book’s prologue. “In the Ia Drang, both sides claimed victory and both sides drew lessons, some of them dangerously deceptive, which echoed and resonated throughout the decade of bloody fighting and bitter sacrifice that was to come.”