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Louis Golino

Modern Numismatics

Louis Golino

Louis Golino has been a collector of American and world coins since childhood and has written about coins since 2009. In addition to writing about modern coins and other numismatic issues for Coin World, he also has written a regular column for CoinWeek.com since 2011, writes a monthy column for The Numismatist magazine and has written for other coin publications. In 2015, for his CoinWeek column “The Coin Analyst,” he was presented with the Numismatic Literary Guild's award for best online column. He is also a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum. 

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Archive for 'August 2016'

    Guy Fawkes Coin Highly Original

    August 29, 2016 11:12 AM by Louis Golino

    Guy Fawkes Coin Highly Original


    Power Coin, a major Italian numismatic distributor based in Rome, announced during the August World Fair of Money in Anaheim, California that it is releasing two new silver commemoratives this fall. 

    Previous coins created at the initiative of this company include the Hamsa coin I discussed recently and the Ceilings of Heaven series that uses nano chips.

    These coins were produced through a collaboration involving Power Coin, which provided the original concept, Coin Invest Trust (CIT) in Lichtenstein, which then developed the idea into a coin, and B.H. Mayer of Germany, which actually minted the coins.

    I will be covering the first coin this week, and the second next week.  Both are very original coins.

    First up is the visually stunning Guy Fawkes mask, $5 1-oz. silver proof coin, issued under the legal authority of the Cook Islands. 

    This coin uses CIT’s revolutionary SmartMinting technology to create amazing high relief coins, but it also uses a special paint that creates a porcelain effect on the main design device, a stylized depiction of the mask of Guy Fawkes.

    The mask design, which is based on the creation of illustrator David Lloyd for the 1982 book, V for Vendetta, which also became a film in 2006, shows Fawkes with an oversized smile, large, black eyebrows, black eyes, a moustache upturned at both ends, and a thin, pointed beard. 

    The new coin is also the first ever “black proof” coin, which makes the background more distinctive. 

    Who is Guy Fawkes?

    Fawkes, also known as Guido Fawkes, the name he adopted while fighting for the Spanish, was a member of a group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605.  That was an attempt to blow up the House of Lords.

    The mask has emerged as a powerful modern cultural symbol of protest and has been used by groups protesting against politicians, banks, and financial institutions, and as symbol of the online hacktivist group Anonymous.

    This coin is significant primarily for its originality in both concept and appearance that make if very different from anything else released so far.

    With so many world commemorative coins being issued today, to be successful a coin must have something other coins do not, and this one fits that bill very well.

    It also nicely blends old and new by focusing on someone from the 16th century who has become a modern symbol of resistance to powerful elites. 

    The Fawkes mask also blends old and new by adding certain modern flourishes to the original design such as a hoodie and the leaves from the United Nations symbol.  The signature of Fawkes is also included.

    Only 999 of these coins are being issued, and the coin should be available in October.  They are housed in a high quality, lacquered wood display box.

    You can purchase the Fawkes piece directly from Power Coin (www.PowerCoin.it) and it is also available from other companies, including First Coin Company (www.FirstCoinCompany.com) and the Coin Shoppe (www.TheCoinShoppe.ca). 

    If you get it from First Coin, the company will send a free Anonymous Head mask along with the coin.

    Chateau-Renard: New Meteorite Coin Landing Soon

    August 22, 2016 9:02 AM by Louis Golino

    A cool new coin is coming in September from the MCI Mint on behalf of African nation Burkina Faso that uses a meteorite that landed in France 175 years ago.  The meteorite fell at Chateau-Renard in Montargis, which is near the Loiret Valley in France on June 12, 1841. 

    Meteorites mostly come from comets and asteroids, and since the majority of them are used by scientific labs to study the origins of the universe, those remaining pieces of meteorites that make their way into the marketplace are very rare and expensive.  Meteorites are also millions of years old.

    The current price of 1 gram of the Chateau-Renard chondrite meteorite runs around $300, so even a small fragment is worth a lot. 

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    This 1000 Franc denomination coin that is struck from 1 oz. of silver with an antique finish uses the fragment of the Chateau-Renard meteorite as part of its stunningly reverse attractive design that uses what is called photorealistic coloring.  The meteorite is shown against a blue sky as it is about to land in Montargis with gorgeous architectural details of the surrounding buildings included.

    The obverse features the national coat of arms of Burkina Faso.

    Only 750 of these coins are being made, which is a small number for a coin of this type.

    As readers of this column know, I am a big fan of coins about space and astronomy-related issues. 

    And as I have written here and in my bi-monthly feature in the magazine on world coins, these coins continue to have a loyal base of collectors, which is why they have tended to hold their value better than coins about many other subjects that may not have as wide appeal.

    The coin comes with two certificates of authenticity, one for the coin and one for the meteorite fragment, and is housed in a wooden display box.

    The coin’s authenticity and allure is enhanced by the fact that we know the story of how the meteorite was discovered.

    The meteorite’s fall was published in the American Journal of Science and Arts, Volume 42, as reported in the New York Observer on August 14, 1841: “Galignani’s Messenger mentions that at a late session of the French Academy, a communication was received from M. Delavaux, stating that on the 12th of June, (1841,) between one and two o’clock in the afternoon, the sky being without a cloud, an explosion was heard at Chateau-Renard, in the department of Loiret, louder than several pieces of artillery firing together.  He suspected that this must have proceeded from an aerolite; and ongoing to the spot where the noise had been loudest, found there the marks where the aerolite had struck the earth, as well as several fragments of such a body, lying about.  Most of these fragments were small, but one weighed thirty pounds, and another six pounds.”

    Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa surrounded by Benin, Togo, and four other countries.  As a former French colony, its uses the CFA franc, which is the Central African Franc, a currency used by six countries in Africa that is guaranteed by the French Treasury.

    In 2015 a 3-oz. silver coin was issued for Burkina Faso that depicted a solar eclipse.

    The issue price of $159.90 for the new piece is certainly not cheap, but one must consider the cost of the meteorite as well as production and other costs.  And don’t be surprised to see the price increase.

    The coin is available from California dealer First Coin Company (www.FirstCoinCompany.com), The Coin Shoppe in Canada (www.TheCoinShoppe.ca), and Powercoin (www.PowerCoin.it) in Italy



    Apollo 11 Coin Legislation: Senate Support Urgently Needed

    August 17, 2016 3:11 PM by Louis Golino

    As I discussed earlier this year, a bill to create a program of curved silver, gold, and clad commemoratives honoring the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing has been gaining congressional support since its introduction in the House in June 2015.

    That bill (H.R. 2726) now has 300 co-sponsors, an impressive achievement that means the bill can be put to a vote, where it would easily pass since that is well over the 218 votes needed to do that.

    However, in the Senate, where a companion bill (S. 2957) was introduced just three months ago, there are just a paltry four co-sponsors, yet 67 (two-thirds of the Senate) are needed for the bill to be brought for a vote.

    With only 43 legislative days left in the current Congress, it is imperative than another 63 Senators sign on to the bill in order for this important effort to become a reality.

    Without the necessary Senate support by the end of the year, the legislation will die when the 114th Congress ends, and it would be necessary to start all over.

    With a new president coming in January, the Congress will be very busy with other matters, and there is also competition from bills to create coins that benefit the baseball and football hall of fames.

    But Michael Olson, an Iowa banker and former member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, who was the first person to suggest this program in 2014 when he was on the CCAC, explained that the public can help this effort by calling or sending emails in support of the legislation. 

    Mr. Olson said that when contacting your Senator’s office, tell them about the role that constituents in their state have played in the space program; the enthusiasm for these coins in the numismatic and space communities; and that the House bill already has 300 co-sponsors.

    The Senate goes back to work after the summer recess in September 6, and the calls and emails are needed by September 15.

    Mr. Olson also said that while support in the numismatic community for the Apollo 11 coin programs “far outstrips” the two sports-themed “proposals by a long shot, circumstances can change rapidly in D.C., especially near the end of a congressional session, so space enthusiasts need to join the fight now to put our Apollo 11 coins over the top.  When I think about what this country accomplished by putting men on the moon and the national pride involved in doing so, it drives me to do all I can to make these coins a reality.” 

    *Image courtesy of NASA

    U.S. Mint: American Liberty Medals Are Not High Relief

    August 11, 2016 11:59 AM by Louis Golino

     When it comes to setting mintages and household and product limits, there is simply no way the U.S. Mint can make everyone happy.  No matter what they do, there will always be people who are not happy.  And there is also no way to predict in advance how particular limits will impact sales, accessibility for the average buyer, and secondary market values.

    It is significant that the Mint is factoring into its latest decisions the concerns of many buyers who felt the limits for the Gold Centennial Mercury Dime were too high at ten, which many of them feel enabled dealers to procure a large portion of the mintage of 125,000 coins.

    The Gold Centennial Standing Liberty Quarter, which will be released in September 8, will have a household limit of just 1 coin and a mintage of 100,000 pieces.  Some buyers feel one per household is too low, and that the mintage limit is too high, making a sell-out less likely.

    But demand may be higher than those individuals think it is, and a one per household limit could produce an even bigger frenzy, as happened when the limit for the Presidential Coin and Chronicles set was lowered to one.  The difference, though, is that the quarters will cost about $500 each based on current gold prices, while the chronicle sets were about $60 each. 

    As I have suggested before, something in between one and ten would probably work best, and two is what the limit will be for the American Liberty silver medals coming on August 23, which also have a product limit of 12,500 but no mintage limit.  It is possible that some type of set will also be offered that includes the medals, hopefully one paired with a special American Silver Eagle proof coin only available in the set, as suggested by the CCAC, or in some other set perhaps for the 30th anniversary of these coins.

    Those sets would also help the Mint to sell more proof American Silver Eagles, whose release has been delayed due to the requirement to add incuse edge lettering marking the 30th anniversary of the program.  Those coins will begin selling on Sept. 16.

    The Mint confirmed to me that the 2016 proof coins can be sold next year and beyond unlike the 2015 coins, which could only be sold until the end of last year, but no information has been released about any sets with the medals, which may not be issued.

    The medals, which will use the same size of planchets as those used for American Silver Eagles (40.60 millimeters), were originally planned to be struck in high relief like the 2015 American Liberty gold coins of the same design, which they are intended to complement. 

    However, the product description the Mint posted this week does not specifically state that the medals will be in high relief, though it mentions the 2009 Ultra High relief gold double eagles.  So I contacted the Mint, and Michael White in the Office of Public Affairs who confirmed that the medals will definitely not be in high relief and will feature a proof finish.  They will also be issued with two different mintmarks, “W” for West Point and “S” for San Francisco.

    That will be disappointing to many collectors, who were eager to see the modern liberty and flying eagle design (respective obverse and reverse) in high relief, which would have been the first silver high relief product from the Mint.

    Mr. White also said that the Mint’s Principal Deputy Director, Rhett Jeppson, will be attending this week’s ANA World Fair of Money in Anaheim, CA but will not be doing a forum with collectors and the media as has been the case at some past shows.  That would have been a great chance for the Mint’s customers to discuss these issues with him.


    Valkyrie: Second Legends of Asgard Coin Launched

    August 4, 2016 10:13 AM by Louis Golino

    A year ago I wrote in this column (http://www.coinworld.com/voices/louis-golino/2015/08/tokelau_odin_coinus.html)about a new series of Nordic mythology coins called Legends of Asgard from anew private mint, Choice Mint (www.choicemint.com),which is a division of Choice Bullion (www.choicebullion.com),a U.S. dealer in modern coins, which began with what many collectors considerto be the best of the several Odin coins issued.

    That coin was notable both for its format, three-ounces ofantique silver, rimless, and a new type of ultra-high relief that Choice callsMax Relief, which achieves a depth of 3.5 millimeters, and for its impressiveartwork, which stands out compared to other coins of this type.

    The format is also notable for serial numbers that are etchedonto the edge of the coins that match those on the certificates of authenticity,the classy wooden presentation box, and the use of only the name in terms ofinscriptions on the reverse, which frees up the planchet so the art is notobscured by other elements.  And a mere1500 coins were issued, which sold very quickly.

    Now Choice has finally launched the long-awaited second coinin this series, Valkyrie, which has been in production for much of the pastyear.

    The new coin has been widely and eagerly anticipated bynumerous collectors.  It was expected tobe released earlier this year, but several delays were encountered during theproduction process, which were mainly a result of Choice’s commitment toexcellence and its refusal to compromise until the final product met its veryhigh standards.

    The final product is truly stunning and breathtaking, a coinyou will not forget when once you see it. 

    Valkyrie is shown on the reverse of the coin wearing awinged helmet and with her large wings spread as she grasps a large sword. 

    The design features exquisite details that bring outValkyrie’s combination of strength and sexuality.  The detail on the wings is especiallyimpressive, and there is also a village in the background. 

    Because the coin is issued under the legal authority ofTokelau like its predecessor, the obverse features the usual Ian Rank-Broadleyeffigy of Queen Elizabeth II with an ornate chain around the inner rim. 

    Valkyrie is a supernatural figure associated with fate.  In Nordic mythology she is a female figurewho chooses those who may die in battle and those who may live.  In modern culture Valkyries have been thetopic of works of art, music, poetry, and even video games.

    The Asgard series will span 12 coins altogether, and you canexpect future issues to come out much sooner than the year in between the firstand second coins now that Choice has moved to an all-digital process. 

    The new coin is being sold by Choice’s authorized dealers,which are listed here (http://choicemint.com/dealer-locator/).

    I expect Valkyrie to sell out quickly and for prices toincrease in short order, both of which occurred with Odin.  Many world issues see a drop in values afterinterest fades, but I do not expect to see that with this coin, which is likelyto be even more well received than Odin was.

    Pre-orders are being taken now, and the coin is expected tobe delivered in about a month.