• Gerry Tebben

    Five Facts

    Gerald Tebben goes behind the scenes and explores many offbeat trails in bringing to the forefront the long-lost information that makes coins so special in "Coin Lore."

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  • As seen on TV: 'Dennis the Menace' tosses away rare gold coin

    Over five weeks, ?I’m highlighting shows from the golden age of television that featured coins in pivotal roles.

    What we've covered so far:

    No. 2: Dennis the Menace, Jan. 17, 1960

    Dennis the Menace, the early 1960s television version of Hank Ketcham’s comic strip, frequently had a numismatic theme. In one episode Dennis can be seen placing cents in a Whitman folder. The writers knew coins, giving a sense of authenticity to the stories.

    Dennis and the Rare Coin  (Season 1, Episode 15) revolves around a 1907 Rounded Rims with Periods Indian Head $10 gold eagle. At the start, Dennis’ long-suffering neighbor, “good old Mr. Wilson,” buys the rare coin from big time dealer Mr. Hathaway for $250.

    The coin is a notable rarity that comes with a great story, but the Dennis the Menace episode does not go into the coin’s history. Philadelphia Mint Superintendent John Landis said 31,500 were minted but all but about 50 were melted. The coin, an early version of Saint Gaudens’ design, is a great rarity worth $100,000 and up in Uncirculated condition.

    The condition of Mr. Wilson’s coin isn’t mentioned, but it gets some rough treatment. Mrs. Wilson inadvertently brushes it onto the floor where Dennis finds it. “Finder’s keepers?” Dennis asks Mrs. Wilson. “Loser’s weepers,” she affirms. The coin is briefly visible on the floor and is clearly an Indian Head eagle.

    Dennis puts it in his pocket where it jostles with other coins until he throws it in a wishing fountain.

    When Mr. Wilson and Dennis try to retrieve the coin from the water, they’re arrested and taken to the police station to sort things out.  While they’re there, Mr. Hathaway is led in in handcuffs.  An officer says coin dealer Hathaway is actually con man John Higgins.  “He’s flooding the town with phony old coins,” the officer says.

    The episode is online at Hulu and can be viewed at no charge. 

     Next: Streets of San Francisco