While visiting the 36th Annual Coin & Currency Show in Baltimore, Md. This year, I couldn’t help but notice that Joe Gallo, owner of A Variety of Errors, actually possessed a penny with its own Secret Service protection.
What was that all about, Joe?
“What we have here is a 1969-S Double Die Obverse. It was thought to be a counterfeit coin and it was confiscated by the government, deemed to be authentic and returned to its original owner,” Gallo said
It turns out that the coin is so rare, that a group of men deliberately counterfeited the penny to sell to collectors. Since it couldn’t be determined how many were in circulation, the Secret Service declared that all 1969-S double die pennies were counterfeit. Except this one.
“It comes with a letter from the Department of the Treasury and the Secret Service stating that this is a genuine coin,” Gallo said.
There are about 24 to 36 of these coins in circulation. “Just the beginning of this year, a gentleman found a brand new one, sparkling red, mint state in a roll and he sold it for $125,000,” said Gallo, who’s priced his penny, with documentation, for only $45,000.
Another example of a rare coin is a U.S. half dollar originally minted in 1861, but reminted as a Confederate era coin in 1879 by J.W. Scott and known as a Scott Confederate Restrike.
“When the Confederate Army in the Civil War took over the city of New Orleans, they grabbed hold of the mint and wanted to produce their own money,” Gallo explained. “So, they made up a die that says the Confederate States. Before they could actually start the minting process and put these coins out in circulation, the Union Army came in to New Orleans and took it over.”
The obverse, or “heads” side of the Confederate restrike shows a Seated Liberty holding a shield with the word “Liberty,” while holding a spear and a cap of Liberty surrounded by 13 six-pointed stars. The date of 1861 is the year the original coin was struck by the U.S. Mint. The reverse, or “tails” side shows a shield with seven, five-pointed stars in the chief of the shield, with a spear and a cap of Liberty just behind. An oak branch and an olive branch are used as supporters on each side of the shield. The whole is surrounded by the legend “Confederate States of America” and the denomination “half dollar.”
“The dies were lost or hidden for several years,” Gallo continues. “About five or six years after the Civil War, a man named Scott from New York found the dies, picked up 500 New Orleans minted half dollars, planed off the reverse and restruck those coins and those are called the Scott Confederate restrikes. And only about 500 of those were ever made. After that, I think, the dies were destroyed.”
Every several years, a Scott Confederate Restrike comes to auction with a final sale somewhere between $5,000 and $7,000. And it comes with a great story, too.
A video showing Tom Carrier discussing coin errors with Joe Gallo can be viewed here .
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