US Coins

Inside Coin World: Coal token with a movie link

This coal token is from a West Virginia mining company mentioned in a book by a former resident of the same town who reached for the sky and found a career at NASA.

Coin World illustration.

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From coal mines to outer space

“One of the fascinating things about this hobby is that you can find connections everywhere,” writes Jeff Starck in the “Tokens to Collect” column in the Sept. 24 issue of Coin World, adding, “This is especially true when considering exonumia, that area beyond traditional government-issued coins or paper money.”

As Jeff explains, “I was reminded of this while reading Sky of Stone by Homer Hickam. If the author’s name sounds familiar, it is probably because of the Jake Gyllenhaal movie October Sky, and Hickam’s book upon which the movie was based, Rocket Boys.”

In the column, he looks at a piece of metal scrip — a form of token used as a money substitute — from Olga Coal Co. in Coalwood, West Virginia. Coalwood was the home of Hickam, whose youthful experiments in rocketry led to college and a career with NASA. 

You can read the column in the print and digital editions of the Sept. 24 Coin World.

‘Forgotten’ Massachusetts silver

“Massachusetts silver coins have always assumed an outsized position in the imagination of American coin collectors,” writes John Kraljevich Jr. in his “Colonial America” column. “But a significant proportion of the series goes fairly unnoticed,” he adds.

While the great rarities in the NE and Willow Tree types get a lot of attention, “the fractional Oak Tree and Pine Tree coins are readily collectible” though often forgotten, John writes.

Fractional Pine Tree and Oak Tree coins have a history similar to the Willow Tree type and in comparison “seem like a great value,” he concludes.

Read the article in the Sept. 24 issue of Coin World.

Proving that a variety exists

“A few weeks ago I was pleasantly surprised to find myself looking at a dollar variety that I had been fairly certain existed but unable to prove,” writes John Roberts in his latest “About VAMs” column. The VAM-2 die marriage of the 1887-S Morgan dollar “has been known to the collecting community since 1967, but in 2010 a sub-variety listing, VAM-2A, was created to describe die damage in the dentils below the date on the obverse and another area under the denomination on the reverse.”

John writes that the VAM-2A is common, “so much so that collectors have questioned whether all examples of the marriage might display the anomalous dentils, and some called for the elimination of the stage designation.” 

After looking at an example of the VAM-2A die marriage, John is “happy to report that the VAM-2 marriage actually exists as a distinct stage.”

Read the column, which is exclusive content to subscribers to the weekly issues of Coin World.

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