The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 22, Number 52, December 29, 2019, Article 13


Other great lessons for collectors are found in this NGC blog article by Jeff Garrett, where he recounts the story of how a stolen 1795 Half Eagle was recently recovered. -Editor

1795_Small_Eagle_$5_NGC_MS_62_Obv The story picks up on the aforementioned date of December 6, 2019. Around 4 p.m. Friday afternoon, longtime coin dealer Tom Phillips in Memphis called me to confirm that my 1795 Half Eagle was still missing, for he had some news to tell me — it had been found and someone was attempting to sell it.

Earlier in the day, a young man and been in his shop and shown him a picture of the coin on his cell phone. Incredibly, the coin was still in the same NGC holder it was in when it went missing. The NGC certification number and photos matched exactly. Tom had discovered the coin was stolen by finding the press release issued by the Numismatic Crime Information Center in 2014.

Tom told the young man he would indeed be interested in purchasing the coin, and a meeting was arranged for later that day. After confirming with me that the coin was still missing, Tom contacted the Memphis Police Department. He explained the situation, and the police promised to send officers to his shop.

Around 5:30 p.m. Memphis time, the young man walked back into Tom's shop with my long-lost 1795 Half Eagle. Unfortunately, however, the Memphis Police weren't there yet. Tom bravely stalled the potential seller for about 30 minutes, hoping desperately for backup to arrive. Finally, six uniformed officers entered the shop, arrested the suspect and confiscated my coin.

Tom called me a few minutes later to tell me what had transpired. I was overcome with joy and excitement. Seldom does such a valuable coin surface after so long. I am deeply and eternally grateful to Tom Phillips and Doug Davis for their efforts in recovering my property.

The moral(s) of the story

For now, the coin remains in the evidence room of the Memphis Police Department. We have no idea how long the legal process will take to play out. One thing is for sure, it's much safer where it is now than wherever it has been for the past five years.

Reflecting on what transpired during this agonizing experience, there were many lessons learned that I would love to share with readers. Certainly this is a great example of the old adage the best lessons are learned the hard way!

1 When shipping any numismatic material be extremely careful, and do not skip safety precautions. Boxes should always be carefully wrapped with no indication there are valuables on the inside. Never mention coins or bullion in the "Ship to" line, even if the company name is Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries, Inc. or Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. Send the package to an individual only. Shipping coins can be tricky, and I would recommend you check with a professional for advice. Remember, unless instructed otherwise, FedEx will leave a package on a doorstep, and the insurance you purchased will be void.

2. The abovementioned episode clearly illustrates the advantage of having NGC-certified coins. The recovered coin was in an NGC holder with an NGC certification number, and this will make proving the coin is mine immeasurably easier.

3. Whenever shipping coins, you should be certain that you have a high-quality photograph of the coin. Luckily for me, NGC had a photo of the coin on file, and this would have been invaluable evidence if the coin had been broken out of the holder. I cannot overly state the importance of this advice. The NGC Photo Vision and PHOTO PROOF options are highly recommended for anyone with valuable coins.

To read the complete article, see:
Jeff Garrett: A Christmas Miracle (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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