Nick Graver's question earlier this year led to a discussion of George Morgan's sketch for a proposed $100 U.S. gold coin and the Smithsonian's marketing of items modeled after the sketch. Dave Perkins of Centennial, CO noted that yesterday's Wall Street Journal carried an article about the proposed coin. -EditorIn the coin world, it is almost the Holy Grail: a $100 gold U.S. coin.
A forgotten sketch that potentially could have graced the face of what would have been the highest denominated American gold coin, had it come to fruition, was recently discovered at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington.
No such $100 coin was actually produced by the government. The drawing is the only documentation that exists.
The pencil sketch of Lady Liberty, seated and facing right with a ship coming into the harbor, signals commerce and clearly shows a denomination of $100.
Such a coin would strictly have been used for commerce between countries, rather than general circulation, due to its hefty weight.
The sketch in question is one of many drawings contained in the so-called George T. Morgan sketch book. Mr. Morgan created one of the most popular silver coins, the Morgan silver dollar. That is the coin that appears in many Hollywood Westerns.
The sketch was uncovered by Jeff Garrett during the summer of 2006 while conducting research on the National Numismatic Collection for a book on gold coins.
"One hundred years ago, someone knew we had [the sketch], it's just we have not seen it," said Richard Doty, senior curator of numismatics for the Smithsonian. "This was an artist's sketch mulling over something he was asked to work on."
While there are some Russian coins that are bigger than a hockey puck, Mr. Doty said, such a coin, if done in silver, would have been quite a hunk of metal. In gold, it would have weighed nearly one-third a pound when one considers a $20 gold piece weighs 31 grams.
The article goes on to discuss the items being sold under license from the Smithsonian. -EditorIt has partnered with a private mint to produce a "fantasy souvenir item" that mimics how the coin might have looked. (Only the U.S. Mint can produce actual pocket change.)
The private mint, New York Mint & Collectible America, in Minneapolis, has been doing brisk business.
It started selling "normal" one-ounce gold patterns at $1,995, according to media representative Steve Von Schmidt, and the price reached $2,450 due to fluctuating gold prices before it sold all 2,000.
So far, according to the company, it has sold about 10,000 1.5-ounce silver patterns at $99. There is a "high relief" one-ounce gold version, with a limit of 999, which was running about $2,750 recently.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of that product comes back to the National Numismatic Collection, Ms. Lee said.
To read the complete article, see: A $100 Gold Coin? Not Just a Dream (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122790857804565263.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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