The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 20, Number 38, September 17, 2017, Article 15


An article published today in the Rapid City Journal purports to tell of the discovery of a long-lost 1894-S dime. -Editor

Rapid City 1894-S Dime Life can turn on a dime.

For a mystery man living in the Black Hills of South Dakota, an incredibly rare, slim dime has made him a millionaire twice-over, although he's not planning on joining the jet-set just yet.

His remarkable story dates back to the mid-20th century, when his father, a 35-year military man and World War II veteran, retired from the service and became a commander in the San Francisco Police Department. In that lofty position, he often mingled with the moneyed men of the Bay area, socializing and doing favors for his friends.

One of those high-brow businessmen, a banker, once presented him with a dime that carried a storied start. The banker gave his own daughter three of the same dimes, one of which she purportedly invested in an ice cream cone purchased on a San Francisco street corner. But for the police commander, it was simply 10 cents and without a thought, he tossed the plastic-wrapped coin in his cedar chest where it would sit for several decades.

Fast-forward to 1964, when the commander's 11-year-old son was exploring all the accumulations of his father's life stored in that same cedar chest. When the young boy came upon the specially wrapped dime and inquired about it, his loving father dismissed it as a novelty and said simply, "You can have it because it don't mean nothing."

So the boy shoved it in his own cardboard shoe box with his other sacred mementos. It remained there, cloaked in darkness, through his two tours in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne's Screaming Eagles, through five wives, the birth of five kids, and a 35-year over-the-road trucking career that spanned the U.S. and Canada.

Then in August, our mystery man, married five years to a fifth wife he adores, was rummaging through his Black Hills trailer home on a lonely weekend with little to do. That sunny summer day, he re-discovered his personal treasure trove filled with coins collected in his past and he decided to see if any had a value worth worrying about.

His initial online searches yielded some promising results for a 64-year-old guy earning 10 bucks an hour, all while eyeing his monthly earnings, lest he exceed the maximum that his Social Security allows.

Then he stumbled on the forgotten dime that would change his fortunes and his life, should he desire to alter the simple life he loves.

There, wrapped in plastic from so long ago, was the exquisite and exceedingly rare 1894-S Barber dime. And it didn't take the mystery man extensive research to reveal he had struck the mother lode.

And our Black Hills mystery man held in his hands only the tenth 1894-S Barber dime known to still exist on the planet.

He says his first reaction to learning the value of the coin his father had conveyed to him when he was just a boy was an expletive that began with the word, "Holy."

Then he got serious. Posting the rare coin online on a reputable private website favored by serious numismatists, he had a buyer in days. Arrangements were made for the Florida buyer to fly to Rapid City and have the coin authenticated.

Our mystery man talked to his banker, who agreed to open his financial institution's doors at 8 a.m., well before tellers and customers arrived. When he met the prospective buyer, he discovered the man was accompanied by an expert appraiser, who spent nearly an hour examining the coin and testing its metallic composition before proclaiming it, "original, brilliant, uncirculated and in mint condition."

To the simple seller's dismay, once the coin had been authenticated and he had signed a confidentiality agreement precluding him from identifying the purchaser, three men marched into the bank with suitcases filled with $100 bills.

The total purchase price: $2.4 million in cash.

"You can't imagine how much money that looked like," the startled mystery man said. And recognizing the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. only insures bank deposits up to $250,000, he added, "You cannot imagine how many banks I've visited in the last couple of weeks making deposits."

Well, that's a great story. But is any of it true? Not a single numismatic expert is quoted and that photo invites many questions. -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
Local man's life changed by rare coin sold for millions (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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