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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 'April 2016'

    Red Book 70: Gloucester token

    April 22, 2016 4:36 PM by

    The 1714 Gloucester token was an enigma that vexed collectors for more than a century.

    In 1776, Sylvester S. Crosby, discussed the piece in his The Early Coins of America but did not picture it, possibly because it wouldn’t have served any purpose. Crosby said two well-worn specimens were known and together they didn’t provide enough information to give a full description.

    He wrote, “Of the history of the earliest of these (American tokens), called the Gloucester Token, nothing is known. It appears to have been intended as a pattern for a shilling of a private coinage, by Richard Dawson of Gloucester (county?) Virginia.”

    The 1714 dated piece(s) gave a denomination of XII or shilling and showed a building on the obverse and a star on the reverse. Half or less of the legends showed.

    Crosby’s second piece now appears to have been a copy of the first.

    The first edition of the Red Book credited Crosby with what little was known about the piece. “Known specimens are imperfect and a full description cannot be given.”

    That description remained unchanged for some 35 years. In 1981, another specimen was discovered. Combining the two coins, collectors were able to determine the coin’s full legend: GLOVCESTER • COVRTHOVSE • VIRGINIA on the obverse and RIGHAVLT DAWSON • ANNO • DOM • 1714 on the reverse.

    The Red Book now reports, “The recent discovery has provided a new interpretation of the legends, as a Righault family once owned land near the Gloucester courthouse.”

    Another Gloucester token mystery has arisen since the first Red Book was published. The current Red Book says, “A similar but somewhat smaller piece, possibly dated 1715 exists. The condition of the unique piece is too poor for a positive attribution.”

    Red Book 70th anniversary: The King of Coins

    April 18, 2016 5:15 PM by
    In 1946, when R.S. Yeoman’s first A Guide Book of United States Coins was printed the 1804 dollar’s origin was a mystery. In its 70th edition this year, the book reflects the latest research.

    The King of Coins

    The 1804 dollar has always been a coin of mystery and desire. Was it struck in 1804 or decades later? In 1946, when the first Red Book was printed, both sides had their adherents. The Red Book told the story down the middle, giving both sides of the argument, but offering no conclusion.

    For the first 15 editions, the Red Book reported, “Those who adhere to the belief that these coins were struck in 1804 point to such evidence as the letter written by Robert Patterson, Director of the Mint, to President Thomas Jefferson. This letter stated that no dollars had been minted ‘during the last two years.’ Inasmuch as the letter was dated April 2, 1807, they infer that dollars were struck during 1804.

    “Mint records show that 19,570 silver dollars were coined in 1804 and that these coins were struck after March 28, 1804.”

    The 1804 dollar text concluded, “The 1804 dollar has been and probably will continue to be a subject of much discussion. Unless some new evidence is uncovered the mystery of its existence or disappearance will always be a matter of speculation for the numismatic fraternity”

    In 1962, Eric P. Newman and Kenneth Bressett, who went on to edit the Red Book, set the record straight with the publication of The Fantastic 1804 Dollar. No 1804-dated dollars were produced before 1834, when the Mint struck display sets of coins for diplomatic missions. Years later, a handful more (Class II) were secretly struck at the Mint for sale to connected collectors.

    As for the nearly 20,000 dollars listed in Mint records, Q. David Bowers reports in his Silver Dollars & Trade Dollars of the United States: A Complete Encyclopedia they were struck with dies dated 1803 or earlier.

    The 1963-dated 16th edition of the Red Book updated the controversy, saying, “Numismatists now know that the 1804 ‘original’ dollars were struck at the mint between 1836 and 1842.”

    In the years since 1963, the Red Book text has been updated to reflect current research. It now reads, “Numismatists have found that the 1804 original dollars were first struck in the 1834 through 1835 period for use in Presentation proof sets.”

    The first Red Book noted that original dollars had sold for $5,000 to $10,000. Today it takes about $4 million to buy one.


    ​Red Book 70th anniversary: The Good Samaritan shilling

    April 8, 2016 4:38 PM by

    The Red Book, in its 70th edition this year, has changed several times, reflecting research discoveries.

    Good Samaritan shilling

    The Good Samaritan shilling, a famous 19th century fraud, might be the only coin to be delisted from the R.S. Yeoman's A Guide Book of United States Coins, the Red Book.

    The “coin” was considered a great rarity in the 1940s and ‘50s. For the first dozen or so editions, the Red Book write-up described the piece:

    “The Good Samaritan Shilling, supposed to be a pattern piece, was struck at a Boston mint and is extremely rare. This piece is of the same general type as the Pine Tree Shilling, but has a device illustrating the parable of the Good Samaritan on the obverse. It is in silver and dated 1652 on the reverse.”

    Sylvester S. Crosby, in his groundbreaking 1876 work The Early Coins of America, acknowledged that some doubt the genuineness of the piece, but he was convinced it was a Massachusetts silver pattern. “I am to a considerable extent justified in regarding it as genuine, in the absence of anything like proof to the contrary,” he wrote.

    In 1959, numismatic researcher Eric P. Newman blew that argument apart, exposing the piece as a fraud. In The Secret of the Good Samaritan Shilling Newman said the Good Samaritan Shilling “was the ‘fakest’ coin in history!”

    In 1848 the British Museum purchased a Good Samaritan Shilling that was known to exist as early as 1730. The coin, Newman determined, was a Pine Tree Shilling on which the obverse had been ground off and replaced with the seal of the British Commission of Sick and Wounded, a 17th century precursor of the Red Cross. English coin dealer Thomas Snelling and American dealer Thomas Wyatt separately faked their own versions of the supposedly genuine coin and palmed them off on unsuspecting collectors.

    The Red Book continued to list the piece for a few years after Newman exposed the fraud, but changed the text. “Although this piece was formerly thought to be a pattern for the 1652 shillings, recent findings show that the known specimens are all fabrications.”

    While the piece has been debunked, it is still popular with collecting, fetching as much as $5,000 in recent auctions.