US Coins

Make your ‘worthless’ note worth something:

Our "Collecting Paper" column examines how what someone added value by removing something from this otherwise useless note from a failed 19th century New Jersey bank, although not legally.

Image courtesy of Wendell Wolka.

The latest Coin World weekly issue, dated Oct. 23, 2017, is out the door, and we present exclusive previews of a few articles, to be found also in your latest digital edition of Coin World.

Taking a ‘worthless’ note and making it worth something

It was not uncommon for 19th century banks to make it difficult for a holder of one of their notes to redeem them in coinage, including making the notes payable only at a distant location. In his “Collecting Paper” column, Wendell Wolka writes how one person took advantage of that practice while committing a crime.

Wolka writes about a note of the Jersey Bank of Jersey City, New Jersey, that was payable only in a far-off city in New York. When the bank failed soon after it opened, someone obtained the bank’s now-worthless notes at a discount and through some careful erasure of selected inscriptions in ink, made the notes look like they were issued by a bank that was still in business.

What should be done with deliberate ‘errors’?

Some “error” coins of the U.S. Mint were not produced by mistake but were instead created deliberately, though without official sanction and then smuggled out of the Mint. Some of these pieces enter the coin collecting marketplace, where they are avidly collected by some collectors.

Recently, several 1970s Proof coins have been revealed to have been struck on aluminum tokens issued by the Shell Oil company, something that is unlikely to have occurred accidentally. This week’s Editorial asks whether pieces of this nature should "be considered legitimate and collectible, or should be subject to confiscation? Tell us what you think.”

Weapons are common design elements on early notes

John Kraljevich Jr. writes in his “Colonial America” column, firearms played a significant role in that era and, “As might be expected, the common weapons of the era nearly all make an appearance or two on 18th century American paper money. But despite their omnipresence in rural and small time life, firearms are fairly unusual.”

So what weapons are often found on Colonial notes? Think of weapons that are pointy and have sharp edges, rather than those throwing balls of lead.

The search begins, as hopeful callers say, ‘I’ve got one’

A search got underway in 1993 for the missing example of the 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent coin, a piece that had not been seen by collectors or dealers for decades. As news spread, spurred by a $10,000 reward for discovery of the coin, hundreds came forward to say they had it, or knew where it had once been.

As Beth Deisher writes in her “From the Memory Bank” column, the search brought forth a number of altered-date pieces of varying quality, with many of their owners contacting Coin World. “A curiosity relating to the altered dates we saw was that they appeared to have been made many years prior to 1993,” most likely in response to an earlier “search.”

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