US Coins

Gambling on a Morgan dollar roll: Inside Coin World

Gambling on a hunch while collecting is an aspect of the hobby that many collectors enjoy. This roll of Morgan Dollars was appealing to a blogger of ours, Michael Bugeja. Did his gamble pay off?

Image courtesy of Michael Bugeja

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Gambling on a Morgan dollar roll

Michael Bugeja wasn’t naïve when he bid on a roll of Morgan dollars from a Carson City, Nev., bank, but the date 1879 on the obverse of the coin on one end of the roll and the CC Mint mark of the Carson City Mint on the reverse of the coin on the roll’s other end made the gamble of bidding worth the risk, he thought.

“You can see the allure here. Just maybe that first coin would be a Mint State 1879-CC Morgan dollar, worth $10,000 or so,” he explained.

So, was the $2,400 winning bid for the roll worth it? What coins did the roll hold?

An ugly and unwanted surprise

A collector received an unwelcome surprise recently when he opened several rolls of Uncirculated Lincoln cents he had purchased in 2012 and 2013. All of the cents in the rolls had ugly black spots on both sides. What had happened, he asked the “Readers Ask” column.

Senior editor Paul Gilkes writes, “The black spots are commonly referred to in numismatics as ‘carbon spots,’ and the spots cannot be removed without leaving evidence of corrosion on the coins’ surfaces. … The spots result from tiny carbon deposits in the copper oxidizing in the air.” In short, the coins were damaged beyond repair.

A different kind of Civil War battle

When the Civil War began in 1861, the Confederate government turned to a new security printer to produce its paper money. Since printing money was worth money to the South’s printers, Wendell Wolka writes in his “Collecting Paper” column, “Most of these printers played to win and were not above ‘aggressive business tactics’ in order to win their unfair share of the business.”

One of the partners in the firm of Leggett, Keatinge & Ball, William Leggett, came to the attention of Confederate authorities when they learned that one of his acquaintances was a Union spy. At the urging of authorities, Leggett’s partners quickly ousted him from the firm.

Leggett would soon form a different partnership and, in an attack against one of his old partners, accused Edward Keatinge of being disloyal. “Aggressive business tactics,” indeed.

What gouged a 1924 Peace dollar die?

The VAM-1A 1924 Peace dollar is nicknamed the “Bar D” for the vertical gouge under the D of GOD. What caused the gouge on the obverse die that forms the “bar”?

John Roberts, writing in his “About VAMs” column, states, “While we may never know the exact cause of the bold gouge, damage from a feeder finger seems more likely than an errant slip of a workman’s tool. Whatever happened, coarse polishing of the affected area followed the event.” The polishing marks on the die, visible as raised lines on the coins, are evidence that the Mint attempted to obliterate some of the damage to extend the die’s useful life.


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