The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 19, Number 27, July 3, 2016, Article 16


In issue #28 of his email newsletter Making the Grade, Dave Wnuck has some good advice for U.S. collectors in search of new specialties, plus some interesting medal offerings. See below for a few. -Editor

Dave's 10 inexpensive collections to put together that you may not have thought of before

  1. A set of choice uncirculated Eisenhower dollars (finding nice ones is tougher than you think, believe it or not),
  2. A set of clad business strike Washington quarters (same comment. The mints took no care in making these),
  3. A collection of 150 different varieties of Connecticut coppers (you can probably find 150 different for less than $200 each),
  4. A 50 piece set of classic commemorative half dollars. The spreads between grades are so small that you can crack them out of their slabs and put them in capital plastic holders if you wish. Or, you can collect them with their original packaging and ephemera that they came with – if you can find it. Much of that ephemera is harder to find than the coins themselves.
  5. A set of gold classic Commemoratives. A completable set (if you ignore the two $50 gold coins, as most people do), and they are getting no love at the present moment.
  6. A date set of US half cents.
  7. A denomination set of Mexican/South American Reales from ½ real to 8 Reales. You can do both the pillar style and the portrait style coinage. Most likely these were the coins you would spend if you lived in America in the 1700's and early 1800's.
  8. A set of nice uncirculated Franklin half dollars, not paying attention to full bell lines. Brilliant or attractively toned – or both.
  9. A set of Standing Liberty Quarter's in uncirculated, not paying attention to full heads. You can get mostly full heads on most of the dates for little or no premium, and these are great looking coins.
  10. A collection of contemporary counterfeit 2 reales. This recommendation is a bit self-serving, but is a great way to get a sense of history and to collect items that are extremely rare, though not very expensive. Rarity 7 (4 to 12 specimens known in all grades) is a typical rarity rating for coins in this series, and unique coins often cost below $1000. The most expensive 2 reales counterfeit ever sold at auction was less than $2000. Perhaps not coincidentally, that very coin is being offered in this issue (see below). There is a US connection to these coins even though they seem to be "foreign" at first glance, as many were made in America to circulate in the American colonies and in the newly formed United States in the early 1800's.

These are some good ideas. As a bibliophile and ephemera fanatic, I especially like #4 - collecting commemorative half ephemera is a fun and interesting challenge - these items are far more rare than the coins themselves, but once found, are generally much less expensive. Great challenge! -Editor

1863 Princess Alexandra Medal

1863 Princess Alexandra Medal with case

1863 Medal in Specially Inscribed Presentation Case, Engraved by Charles Wiener. Uncirculated [uncertified].

Presented on the occasion of the Reception of the Princess Alexandra, March 1863. Apparently this was the wedding of the Century, at least according to the book I found on the Internet that is devoted entirely to a description of this wedding. In detail. In minute detail, in fact. A beautiful medal crafted by the youngest of the three Wiener brothers, all three of whom (Jacques, Leopold and Charles) were skilled medal engravers. $375.

1896 Chain Pier Silver Medal

1896 Chain Pier Silver Medal

1896 Chain Pier Silver Medal. Uncirculated [uncertified].

I bought this medal for the beautiful toning. The way the golden orange toning lays on the obverse, it looked to me like a calming sunset with the pier in the foreground. I showed it to someone else though, and he thought it looked like London was burning in the distance. As a lifelong fan of the punk band, The Clash, I will accept that interpretation as well. $245.

Enameled 1925 Norse Silver Medal

Enameled 1925 Norse Silver Medal

1925 Norse Medal. Silver. Enameled. Uncirculated [uncertified].

This was carefully and expertly made on a thick planchet silver medal. The first I have ever seen on a Norse medal. $225.

I've never seen an enameled Norse medal, either. I'm not sure I like the choice of colors here, but it's an interesting and unusual item. For comparison, here's an unenameled gold Norse medal from the same offering. -Editor

1925 Norse Gold Medal

1925 Norse Gold Medal

1925 Norse Gold Medal. PCGS graded Proof 66 CAC.

PCGS has only graded two coins finer than this. Only 47 pieces (net of melting by the Philadelphia Mint) were made, and far fewer are known today. It is interesting to speculate that if the US Mint chose to make proof versions of gold coins in the 1920's they very likely would have done it in the matte proof finish, as shown here. $39,500.

To read the complete newsletter, see:
Making The Grade #28: The Everyman Issue (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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