US Coins

Police probe 1894-S Barber dime theft

Police in Colorado are investigating the theft of three American numismatic rarities with a combined value of nearly $2.1 million, including the 1894-S Barber dime once owned by famed numismatist Waldo C. Newcomer.

The Numismatic Crime Information Center in Texas run by Doug Davis issued a bulletin March 30 announcing the theft. Davis reports that investigators with the La Plata County Sheriff's Office in Durango, Colorado, are probing the theft.

Anyone with information on the theft or the whereabouts of the three coins should contact Luke Harrington, Criminal Investigations Unit, La Plata County Sheriff's Office, by telephone at 970-382-7044, or Davis at 817-723-7231 or by email at

Inside Coin World Morgan dollarInside Coin World: Collector finds Chicago businessman’s lucky silver dollar giveaways: Responses to collector questions, market trends for the 1895-O Barber dime, and the impact of the first grading guide are all the focus of columns in the April 15 “Coin World.”

The Barber dime was graded and encapsulated Proof 63 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. The encapsulation's grading certification number is 3580552001.

The coin's owner listed an estimated value if $1,225,000 for the 1894-S Barber dime, one of just nine examples known from an original San Francisco Mint output of just 24 coins.

The other two coins reported stolen are a 1652 Willow Tree silver sixpence, graded and encapsulated Mint State 64 by Professional Coin Grading Service, with a PCGS certification number on the grading label of 15-64-11163562. The coin was once part of the John J. Ford Jr. Collection. The coin's estimated value is $472,000.

The third stolen coin has an estimated value of $379,500. It is a PCGS Extremely Fine 45 1794 Flowing Hair dollar, certification number 6851-45-08888779.

1894-S Barber dime

The 1894-S Barber as a coin is ranked number 6 in 100 Greatest U.S. Coins by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth.

One theory, not accepted by all researchers, is that production of the 1894-S Barber dimes was necessary to round off an accounting entry, but Garrett and Guth note the amount need to balance the ledgers was 40 cents and not $2.40. Those authors indicate that later research suggests the dime production at the San Francisco Mint in 1894 was executed by Superintendent John Daggett at the request of his banker friends.

Researchers Nancy Oliver and Richard Kelly found 1895 San Francisco newspaper accounts citing Mint employees as sources that reported that 24 dimes were indeed struck on June 9, 1894. Silver recovered from melted uncurrent coinage had been converted into other denominations, and the small amount remaining was used to strike 24 1894-S Barber dimes. Three coins were preserved for assay, a few were purchased by two Mint employees, and 17 were eventually placed into circulation, with the expectation that more would be struck later, though none were.

1652 Willow Tree sixpence

The stolen 1652 Willow Tree sixpence was last reported sold at auction Oct. 18, 2005, in Part XII of the John J. Ford Jr. Collection by Stack's where it realized $253,000. At the time of the 2005 sale, the cataloger indicated there were 10 to 12 examples known. The Willow Tree sixpence is cataloged as Noe 1-A as attributed in Sydney P. Noe's New England and Willow Tree coinages of Massachusetts. The stolen coin is the plate coin for the Noe reference.

The former Newcomer coin was also once in the Wurtzbach and W.S. Lincoln collections, both of which were sold at auction in the 1930s. 

1794 Flowing Hair dollar

The stolen 1794 Flowing Hair dollar is from a reported production of 1,758 coins, of which approximately 150 are identified extant. PCGS has certified seven submissions in the EF-45 grade. 

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