TONED AND COLORIZED COINS
Last month COINage had an article by Mike Garofalo on the history of toned and colorized coins. Here's an excerpt - see the complete article online.
The popularity of coins with color on them drives certain segments of rare coin markets and collectors. Morgan Dollars, type coins, and classic commemoratives are all distinct types of numismatic coins where beautiful and original colors bring strong premiums. An ever-growing segment of the coin market appreciates natural color on coins. Non-collectors are also attracted to the colorful images, even though the coins are secondary.
In April 2004, Superior Galleries offered a beautifully toned 1926 Oregon Trail Commemorative Half Dollar, graded MS67, at a public auction in California. The coin brought $69,000. That's 34.5 times its graded value of $2,000. Why? Because of the coin's beautiful, natural and original color.
Adding color to coins or rounds is not a new idea. The history of colorized or layered coins spans more than 30 years. In its infancy, colorized coins were hand-painted with enamel paint. I remember seeing the wonderfully patient and talented artists at a coin dealership who were adding enamel paint color to holiday silver rounds by hand with very thin special brushes. The results were excellent.
Later, people began applying stickers, or appliques, to cover one side of the coin with a colorful image of the coin itself or something completely different. While these stickers were not as attractive as a hand-painted product, the stickers satisfied the demands of a mass audience.
Enterprising organizations began adding artificial color to the surface of the coin. The first colorized coins offered to the public were struck by Coin Invest Trust (CIT), a private mint in Europe after they developed a chemical and mechanical process for adding color to the coins. This process allowed them to bond the color to the metal.
n 2004, Canada, a nation that is always progressive in its variety of inventive coinage, was the first nation to issue a colorized circulating coin. The Canadian 25 Cent Poppy coin was issued in honor of Canada's 117,000 war dead. The coin had a red poppy emblazoned across the back and a protective coating over it so the color wouldn't wear off easily. The quarter nearly caused an international spying incident when several U.S. military contractors acquired some in change and thought the coins, because of their unusual appearance, may have some type of nano-technology transmitters on them. The contractors reached out to the U.S. Department of Defense and were assured these coins were not espionage equipment.
Since that time, the Royal Canadian Mint has utilized that technology on numerous occasions to create different colorized coins. Some of the most popular coins have been the colorized Maple Leaf silver bullion coins, with their bold, bright and seemingly natural colors.
Many people wondered when and if the United States Mint would create and issue a colorized coin. In August 2020, the Mint released a colorized coin set for the 60th Anniversary of the Naismith National Basketball Hall of Fame. These commemorative coins were truly an innovation for the ‘late-joining' U.S. Mint.
To read the complete article, see:
The History of Colorized Coins
Wayne Homren, Editor
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