If John Beat George: What Early American Coins May Have Looked Like
By Gerald Tebben In an alternate universe, our first president, John Adams, placed his own portrait on coins in 1792. President William Jennings Bryan ushered in an era of giant silver coins in 1896, and President Alton Brooks Parker allowed old designs to continue to circulate in 1904. But that’s just in our alternate reality. […]
The Best Investment: What’s In Your Wallet?
As an appraiser, I often have to answer questions regarding antiques and collectibles as an investment, often being the bearer of bad news to clients who have invested in limited-edition collectibles, questionable Salvador Dali prints and, more recently, Victorian furniture. Few things always retain their value or appreciate in value forever, but some thing fare […]
Revolutionary Honors: Medals Mark Struggle for American Independence
By Gerald Tebben The largely unremembered war began with the George Washington’s surrender and ended essentially with the accession of George III to the British throne. The French and Indian War, the mid-18th century struggle that was all but overshadowed by the American Revolution, was a topsy-turvy fight that left a significant mark on American […]
No Respect: What Good was a 3-Cent Piece?
By Gerald Tebben The 3-cent piece. What was it good for? Cheap cigars, postage stamps and deception. Minted in two significantly different versions from 1851 through 1889, the denomination lived and died with 3-cent postage. In 1842, the U.S. Post Office, founded in 1775, took over a private company that provided to-the-door delivery in New […]
Special Tokens Issued to Serve as Currency in Culion Leper Colony
By Gerald Tebben The first 370 settlers, many horribly disfigured, arrived about 4 p.m., May 27, 1906. Six concrete houses and 85 wooden ones awaited them, left behind by earlier residents who had been forced to leave. “Lepers were being rounded up throughout the Philippines, arrested, and sent to Culion,” Nestor Lisboas, son of Culion […]
A Mighty Coin: How the Morgan Silver Dollar Nearly Destroyed the U.S.
By Gerald Tebben The Morgan dollar is a mighty coin. Every collector knows that. But few know that in 1893 it nearly destroyed the United States of America. Avarice and stupidity were to blame. Singly, they are powerful forces. In combination, and wielded by Congress, they reduced the world’s mightiest nation to one that teetered […]
A Romantic Coin Tale: Hawthorne’s Pine Tree Shilling Story Delights
By Gerald Tebben As part of his “Whole History of Grandfather’s Chair – True Stories from New England History 1620-1808,” the 19th century novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne penned one of the most marvelous stories ever written about coins. It amused me as a child when I started collecting coins and it still delights. The sixth chapter […]
A Curious Kind of Money: The Story of Wampum
By Gerald Tebben Decades—maybe centuries—before the Pilgrims landed at New Plimoth in 1620, temporary “mints” lined the shores of Long Island Sound each winter producing a curious currency that circulated as far as the great prairies of the Dakotas. Using stone tools, the men of the Narragansett, Montauk, Niantic and Quinnepiac tribes created North America’s […]
Mint Reports Offer Insights into More than Coinage
By Gerald Tebben The United States Mint’s production facilities are gigantic factories with metal planchets and planchet-strip materials coming in by the truckload and finished products going out by armored car. Every year the director of the Mint produces a report to the United States Congress. The report, compiled on a fiscal-year basis, can run […]