Digging through the past.á
Last week I was given an opportunity to begin a first review of a collection that," as the story is told " was gifted to the individual, and simply set aside more than 30 years ago.
Like all coin collectors, I relish these very rare occasions, and in as much as this is only my 3rd time to be lucky enough to have first access to collection's like these, I feel that I have to write about this particular experience or else I will bust.
To start with, I have to say that my interest was drawn to " Paul's Hoard " when his stories started to be told to me some 8 months ago. A old lady that he had helped through some house repairs had become friends over the years. She was alone and apparently had no living family left. One day she presented Paul with the collection she had and suggested that he could use it for his children someday. And then it set, forgotten in the attic for more than 30 years.
Last week the collection began to trickle in. The first coins cam to me in a very old brown heavy leather zip up purse, and in it there were about 20 or so coins. Most were overly worn coppers with holes drilled in them, and they were from many different countries. The most worn copper was once a Hard Times Token. It had the faint outline of the Federal Matron head Cents of the early 1800's and a ghostly design on the obverse that was not an oak leafed boarder.
The second coin that I looked at had a large hole through the center of it, and when I looked closely at it, I read the words " Rosa Americana "
Excitement and sadness hit me like a brick wall.
This collection was old, and I thanked Paul for allowing me the moments of enjoyment while I researched what the were, and to suggest their value if and when he chose to sell them.
I spent the night doing research on the identifiable coins and presented him with the findings the following day.
He met me with a second stash, and in it there were many paper notes. I told him that I wasn't as knowledgeable about paper as I was in Coin, but that I would gladly do the research again. There were other coins in the bag as well.
This time the collection was mostly German Notgeld, and as pretty as these 50 or so notes were, they had very little value individually. Best to sell them as a collection. Four of the pieces of paper turned out to be Confederate 5 and ten dollar notes, but the one that stood out was a "Hamburg South Carolina 5 dollar".
It is a one sided printing on linen, and the allure to me was that I spent my military years in South Carolina, and I knew the spot of the old Hamburg railroad trestle, and secondly, that I collect German coins as well.
The excitement was growing, as I found that the other heavily worn coppers were all examples from the 1700's. I found one to be a Blacksmith token.
The next day he gave me the holed " Rosa Americana" for my troubles, and I reluctantly agreed on the gift because as I told him, it is not a trouble to do the things you love. I bought the Hamburg note from him, with the hope that once again, here are the findings, review the marketability on e-bay, and once you entertain other offers, to please let me try to keep the collection intact as much as possible.
The next offering was in a very old tin box that was about 6 x 4 inches square and 2 inches deep. This one was heavy and filled with coins. A quick pawing through it produced 2 Capped bust Half dollars, an 1830 capped bust nickel, and an elongated Seated liberty dime that I later found to be from the 1900's issue from the NY side of Niagara Falls.
This collection was grabbing my interest more and more each day, and the highlight to me this time was the almost un-circulated 1837 Capped bust. It is beautify preserved, and from the first moment I thought that this would be the coin to start that nights study.
Well it turns out that it is a counterfeit coin that seems to have been produced, post 1840 and quite possibly in Birmingham England.
First of all, in 1837 the "E pluribus Unum " banner was no longer used. This one had one ( perhaps extremely rare ? )
Secondly, this one had a lettered edge, not the readed edge of the time.
Thirdly this one had 50 C. , not 50 Cent.
And lastly even thought he weight was there, the diameter was too large for the time.
If it was only dated 1836 it would have been harder to detect.
What still gets me is the amount of work that went into making this counterfeit coin.
It even has the Reverse die centering mark in the shield.
Now I want it !
The picture that I am seeing that ties these coins together is that a family of German Migrants left Hamburg Germany in the early 1800's and settled in South Carolina.
They maintain contact with friends and family through many generations and many wars. They saw the construction of the town of Hamburg, and live through the 1837 financial crisis. And quite possibly that this collection ( of which more is to come ) should have the obligation to stay together.á