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The E-Sylum:  Volume 3, Number 4, January 23, 2000, Article 9

WHO'S KIDDING WHO?   

   An advertisement on p84 of the January 31, 2000 issue of  
   COIN World reads: "$25,000 REWARD for the location  
   and legitimate recovery of my 1804 SILVER DOLLAR.  
   The coin was stolen from my upstate New York home.  
   Remarkably, this coin has extensive circulation wear and  
   has (or had) three initials deeply cut into its surface.  All  
   replies confidential.  FRANK A. BROWN, P.O. Box  
   924, Clearwater, Florida, 33757"   

   Among the rarest and most valuable U.S. coins, the 1804  
   silver dollar provides perennial fodder for pranksters,  
   crooks, and the less-informed collecting public, who think  
   they have a fortune on their hands when all they really have  
   is a replica of the famous coin.   

   The new ad recalls the now-famous ads by Samuel Brown,  
   beginning in the December 1919 issue of The Numismatist,  
   offering to buy examples of the 1913 Liberty Head nickel.  
   Brown had worked at the Philadelphia Mint, and after  
   running his series of ads he unveiled an example of the coin  
   at the 1920 Chicago ANA convention.   

   Only five examples of the coin are known, and all originated  
   with Mr. Brown.  Eric Newman wrote in 1963: "I still have  
   the special leather case made for these nickels and had the  
   opportunity to study all five coins at one time.... Samuel  
   Brown, original owner of all five nickels, was guilty of  
   deceptive practices from which one could conclude that  
   the coins were improperly or unlawfully acquired by him."  
   (As quoted in Adventures with Rare Coins, Q. David  
   Bowers, 1979, p13)   

   At the time of his ads, Samuel Brown lived in North  
   Tonawanda, N.Y.   Hmmm, same last name (Brown), and  
   towns in upstate New York.  Coincidence?    There are at  
   least four possibilities:   

   1. some wag is setting up the hobby for an April fools' joke.  
   2. someone is trying to legitimize a fake 1804 dollar.  
   3. Frank Brown is for real and once had a fake 1804 dollar  
   4. there really exists (or at least existed) a heretofore  
       unknown specimen of the coin.   

   With the recent issue of  reproduction 1804 dollars by The  
   Gallery Mint, it was inevitable that they would fuel an new  
   round of tomfoolery.  The coins are all marked "COPY" on  
   the reverse, in compliance with the Hobby Protection Act.  
   I wonder if the three initials on the mystery coin will turn out  
   to be "COP" or "OPY"...?  

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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