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Jeff Starck

Starck Contrasts

Jeff Starck

Jeff is a senior editor and was Coin World's 2003 Margo Russell intern and joined the staff in 2004. Jeff has been a collector since childhood and fondly remembers the challenges of completing Whitman folders by pulling coins from circulation and searching rolls from the bank. His current collecting interest focuses on Missouri-related numismatics and exonumia. He is the primary writer for the World Coins section in the monthly Special Edition and is responsible for Coin World's coverage of world coins and weekly International page. He graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from Webster University in St. Louis where he was editor-in-chief of its weekly student newspaper.

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Archive for 'February 2015'

    Pocket change memory

    February 19, 2015 2:15 PM by

    There’s still something alluring about finding an old “wheat penny” in circulation.

    As I started my day one morning recently, I grabbed the change from the previous day’s travels and discovered that an old Lincoln cent with those familiar ears of wheat had somehow slipped in without notice.

    Usually observant of my coins, I must have been harried as I slipped the change into my pocket the day before, and been too tired at the day’s conclusion to pay attention to the antique artifact.

    Like many coin collectors, one of the reasons I love this hobby is the ability to be transported through time to when the coin was issued and consider where it has been, and who has used it as spending money all this time.

    That task is a bit harder with this particular coin, since the date is essentially illegible. Both sides of the coin are worn pretty smooth.

    The first two digits — the obvious ones — are still discernible. It’s those last two digits that prove the most vexing. The dates that my mind sees the most end in 23, 25 or 28, but that could be a mirage.

    The Mint Mark, however crude, indicates that the coin was struck in San Francisco.

    I’d like to think that the coin was struck in 1927, the birth year of my maternal grandmother, who played a large role in my early collecting journey.

    My only “three-cent nickel” came from her, when I was maybe 12 years old. Knowing that I had been bitten by the collecting bug, she allowed me to rummage through a pile of wheat cents and other strange coins that I had never seen outside of the “Red Book,” picking out ones I needed to fill an album or build my nascent cache.

    “What do you want for them?”

    “Just give me face value,” she offered.

    So, mistaking it for a dime, given its color and size, I paid 10 cents for the 1865 coin. That was the first year of issue, and the most common date, for the denomination and design type.

    Both numismatically and sentimentally, it’s worth far more than I ever paid for it. And I still have it!

    Though the date on the Wheat cent could very well be another year, I like to think it has special meaning, despite its wretched condition.

    In fact, the reverse of this newfound cent is worse than the obverse.

    The denomination ONE CENT is still visible, but the wheat? It’s almost completely harvested. The remnants of the legend E PLURIBUS UNUM resemble what you might hear someone say right after oral surgery.

    That might explain why it was still slipping by in circulation.

    So what is it worth?

    A cynic knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing, right? Well, maybe that saying should be flipped to say that a romantic values everything far beyond its cost.

    In commerce, the smooth cent is worth at least a cent, of course, but the value of a memory from my early collecting days can’t be quantified.

    What’s your story?

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    The 'hobby of kings' is also for peasants like me

    February 6, 2015 3:21 PM by

    The New York International Numismatic Convention, held Jan. 8 to 11 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, was notable for the tens of millions of dollars of items sold in auctions scheduled across eight days.

    For me, however, the show allowed expenditures that even a writer could afford. The “hobby of kings” is for the peasants, too!

    I’ve already written about a few of the pieces I brought home from the show, but one of the neatest acquisitions is a modern-day interpretation of a classic numismatic rarity.

    Jared Grove of Grove Minting stopped by the Coin World booth and showed and shared his 2013 half-ounce silver Amazonian pattern medal. Encapsulated by ANACS, the piece screams beauty and is actually obtainable to a broad range of collectors, unlike the originals

    It happens to be his favorite design so far, he told Coin World, and is just the beginning of big plans for the nascent Grove Minting company.

    Look for more issues coming from them, and a profile of the artist and his work in Coin World soon.

    Another item coming home with me from New York was the newest edition of Token Publishing’s Coin Yearbook

    The 2015 edition offers current pricing data and is a handy reference for the millennia of British coins, all packed into 362 pages.

    The book also covers coins of Ireland, Scotland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Chapters on various aspects of collecting are targeted for new and intermediate collectors, and so is the book’s price tag of £9.95.

    The final item gained at the show cannot be quantified.

    Every show is a chance to connect with readers, meeting old friends and making new ones, and this trip was no different.

    Several new dealers were on the bourse or in attendance, and many story ideas and friendships emerged from the chaos of the show.

    Look for Coin World at the next big show near you, and be sure to stop by and say hello.