Michael Bugeja

Online Coin Auctions

Michael Bugeja

Michael Bugeja, a coin collector since childhood, is a professor at Iowa State University and also a former member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. He is a nationally known author, journalist and educator.

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Cracks in Redfield holders

Occasionally in online auctions you will find Morgan and Peace silver dollars in original Redfield/Paramount holders from the 407,000-coin hoard found behind a false wall in the basement of Reno, Nev., investor LaVere Redfield.

The holders and coins, often toned because of the chemical properties of the insert, command a premium. In 1976, Steve Markoff of A-Mark Coin Corp. bought the hoard for $7.3 million and contracted with Paramount International Coin Corp. as the major distributor.

Coins typically were slabbed in two grades, Mint State 65 and MS-60, with red or black holders, respectively. The highest premiums are put on slabs with the Redfield name on the insert. Coins with only “Paramount” on the insert earn smaller premiums but are still desirable.

Cracks are common in these holders. Some holders are heavily damaged, as the image above shows.

Other cracks may be difficult to spo. To make matters worse, some sellers on eBay and Proxibid show photos of only the obverse, so you can get a coin with a reverse crack like this one only to discover it when you receive it in the mail. As all sales usually are final in online auctions, there is little you can do.

But there is also an upside to cracks, as they allow the coins inside the holders to tone even more than what the Redfield/Paramount insert usually causes.

With that in mind, you might bid on a Redfield/Paramount coin with a holder crack merely to get a beautifully toned coin, which also commands a premium. I bid on cracked holders like these for the coins inside, so the bonus for me is two-fold: a toned coin at a discount price.

You can still send a Redfield/Paramount coin to a top-grading company, asking that the Redfield/Paramount provenance appear on the service’s new label. 

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